Thanks for all of the well wishes and kind words. It’s amazing how loved and supported one can feel in cyberspace. Several people wanted to know a little more, so this is the more. It’s probably way too much information for most people. Consider yourself warned.
This is day six, and poor Thomas is jaundiced — nothing new for us. He started home light therapy yesterday afternoon, which is annoying, but doable. He is nursing well and pretty content in between feedings, even sleeping most of the night when he isn’t eating. I don’t think any of my babies have latched on as consistently and well as he has at this age. I love nursing and it’s always a great relief when the baby “gets it.”
As for me, thanks to a very competent and helpful husband/father, I am very well as well. Matt takes the baby in between feedings at night, and we are both getting enough sleep to function — barely. I need a little more for my head to stop hurting, but it’s coming. He’s managing kids, meals, dishes, laundry, errands while I manage breastfeeding and resting. (He’s appreciating what I usually do a little more.) We’re both managing poor Mary, who is a little whinier than we like her right now. She’s feeling displaced and wishes I could hold her all day, which is all pretty normal three-year-old-with-a-new-baby behavior. We did have a moment yesterday evening when I was trying to take a bath and three of the kids were crying at once. Not just a wimper, but a wail. It wasn’t pretty. And poor Sam has been home with the flu the last two days. What’s great is that at 11, he just needs plenty of fluids and a remote control, and he can cope with being sick pretty independently.
Say a little prayer for me tomorrow, when Matt goes back to work. He will still be here to help at night of course, and will stay until the school kids leave in the morning. His mom is planning to help a lot with Mary, which I think will be the biggest need when he is gone. And my parents will arrive Monday night.
And now for posterity, and for those who are interested in long narratives about childbirth….
We went to the hospital last Wednesday at noon. Three days before my due date, and no real reason to induce, other than my history of very fast labors which has always made me worry that I might give birth in a car or at home by myself or something. These last two babies have been a little harder to induce, because their heads were not engaged in my pelvis. Usually, when women at the end of pregnancy are walking around two or three centimeters dilated, the baby’s head is pushing down on the cervix, helping move things along. But, when you’ve had this many babies, your uterus is a little stretched out (I told you these were the gory details) and doesn’t push the baby down as well. So, not only was I not dilated, but when the baby isn’t engaged, the doctor can’t break your water (dangerous because the cord could come down ahead of the head, resulting in an emergency c-section). I know some people are against interventions during childbirth, but the breaking your water intervention is my favorite one, as it always results in me having the baby.
So I started out on pitocin, not dilated, no water breakage in the foreseeable future. This is the boring part. The part where a chick flick is in order (does it not seem fair to make your husband watch a chick flick when you’re in the hospital having a baby?). I chose The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, which was good enough to watch, but not good enough to worry about rewinding every time someone came in to check on me. Matt opted for X-Files reruns on his iPod (what did we do before those?).
Some of you will be very interested to hear that I had my first epidural, which we had the anesthesiologist place early on, knowing that by the time I was in pain, there wouldn’t be time. More on the epidural later.
After several more boring hours, my OB decided I had progressed enough to break my water. Not long after, the nurse became a little concerned that the baby’s heart rate was dropping more than she’d like with each contraction. This resulted in a cycle of watching and waiting. They would turn the pitocin all the way off, slowing labor way down, then turn it back up slowly to see how baby tolerated it. They had me change positions several times, to see if that helped. This went on all evening. Ultimately, with the water broken, I continued to progress, the baby was never in grave danger, and I was complete by 9 pm or so.
Then came the pushing, which took much, much longer than ever before because I couldn’t feel a blessed thing. I wasn’t in pain, of course, but I found it very frustrating to try to engage muscles that were completely numb. Still, after pushing through several contractions, we had a baby. It turned out he was wearing his umbilical cord like a little shawl around his shoulders, which would have created some compression with each contraction, causing his heart rate to drop. We were all a little surprised that he weighed only seven pounds, but he was otherwise perfect in every way. And we were grateful.
For those who are interested, I have a final word about the epidural. While I concede that not having pain is almost always a good thing, if I was having another baby (which I’m not) I would go back to natural childbirth. [Keep in mind that my labor usually goes very fast, and I’m only in real pain for about twenty minutes or so. Also keep in mind that I’m a pretty calm sort, not prone to “freaking out” in these situations.] The epidural made my legs so numb that I couldn’t even adjust myself in the bed. The nurse had to literally roll me over. At first it was kind of funny, but I disliked feeling powerless to control my own body. It also made me feel a little sleepy, and certainly less alert. In the past, the natural pain of childbirth has compelled the pushing, often feeling like the baby was nearly pushing itself out. This time, I had no desire or inclination to push, and as mentioned, couldn’t figure out how to do it very well. And because I wasn’t in pain, the actual moment of birth wasn’t nearly as euphoric as what I have experienced before. Both physically and emotionally, natural childbirth for me is completely empowering, and I missed that feeling. Finally, my legs were still pretty shaky the next morning, which I also disliked. I didn’t dare get up on my own, or take a shower until later in the day. This made me feel powerless as well. I am not the type who passes judgment on doctors, hospitals, the childbirth industry, or any other woman’s choices regarding childbirth. But I know most women appreciate learning from one another’s experiences, and this was my experience. I guess my point is that I think some women might enjoy natural childbirth, and should consider giving it a try.
If you’re still actually reading this, did I leave anything out? I’ll post some more pictures soon. Thanks again, everyone, for your support.