Category Archives: Labor

Baby Sunshine from Postpartum Blues

This must be a couple days after I gave birth. I'm apparently off bed rest and taking a quiet moment as Baby Girl sleeps nearby.
This must be a couple days after I gave birth. I’m apparently off bed rest and taking a quiet moment as Baby Girl sleeps nearby. I didn’t know Big Daddy took this photo until recently.

Even though I’m exhausted, this weekend couldn’t have been better. C&C seemed to have had a wonderful time at the play café on their actual birthday, and Sunday’s gathering of friends was just beautiful. It even ended with our place nearly spotless.

And yet the awesomeness that God has allowed in my life continues. Big Daddy, who normally takes the night shift with the babies, is doing a sleep study (apparently with all the comforts of a fancy hotel). I told him I was jealous. But despite my error in blasting my latest guilty-pleasure song in the car after dropping him off, both babies are still fast asleep from the ride. I’ve gotten to use the bathroom without rushing, I washed and moisturized my face, put on pajamas and ate a birthday cupcake with both hands. Forget pedicures and massages; these are the new luxuries of life after you become a mother.

And for me, it’s about doggone time.

I’m past it chronologically but finally facing it emotionally to a point where I’m able to say (and write) it: The first few days (months) postpartum sucked. Royally sucked. (Exhale) The details are endless, but the broad strokes are enough to paint the picture.

1) I gave birth via C-section in the 29th hour of labor, having progressed to barely 3 cm and finally developing preeclampsia. My blood pressure was already dangerously high — systolic and diastolic at this point — despite meds, and the magnesium sulfate made me feel more nauseated than I had my whole pregnancy. Granted, all the juice I’d nicely convinced the nurses to let me have through the day didn’t help. As much as I’d wanted a vaginal delivery, I was so sick and still itchy from PUPPPs that I’d decided the sooner I could deliver the better. And this was despite not paying any previous attention to anything anybody said about being prepared for a C-section just in case. Mistake, BTW.

2) So, like, baby or no baby, it’s major surgery to be sliced open and sewn back up again. So much so that they tested the effectiveness of my epidural before wheeling me to the OR. They did it by placing ice on each thigh. That’s how we all realized that the contraction pain I felt during labor wasn’t pressure. That was actually pain. Twenty-nine hours. Pain. Contractions. Epidural working only on my left side. Cue a second epidural in the bright, cold operating room for major abdominal surgery, which requires major recovery. For me, that meant hours in the recovery room with a still-high BP needing extra delaudid plus a spinal block that I could barely consent to. Whatever was happening — I was in and out — had Big Daddy angrily bargaining with God for my life. But there was more than my life to consider …

3) Baby girl was just fine; baby boy, born at 4 lbs., was whisked away without me being able to see him. Except for about 5 minutes before I was moved to my hospital room around 4 a.m., I didn’t see him again for a couple days. I was on bed rest with a pain pump and a catheter. Knowing that your child in intensive care and that you can’t see him is torture. It’s worse when you still have another child to care for and no idea what you’re doing. I thought it would be great when we’d all be home and family would come to visit …

4) In short, family came, and it didn’t go well. On three separate visits, the number of diapers changed by people who showed up equals zero. I should’ve taken the hint from the first phone call I accidentally took thinking it was Big Daddy the day after coming home with only Baby Girl. From delivery on, I wasn’t answering calls; I wasn’t making calls. I was sending messages through my husband, and most people seemed OK with that. Most people, except my mother-in-law. She holds this, among other things of which I’ve lost count, against me. Our first full day at home, Big Daddy had just talked with her, mentioning that he was en route to Baby Boy, still in the NICU. She ended that call and promptly call our home number. Her first question to me, verbatim: “So, how does it feel to have one baby home and the other still in the hospital?” I can’t remember how long it was before I answered the phone after that.

5) Already unsupported at the most basic level, I was also alone in figuring out the whole breastfeeding thing. I learned some things the hard way with occasional input at my pediatrician’s office, but being in a community of formula feeders — and family members who would put words to the babies’ cries “Mommy, please give me a bottle” — made it a difficult road. But, 12 months in, we’re still going strong. Now, I have to figure out this weaning thing. Like everything else, it’s all a cycle of trial and triumph.

So much craziness happened in addition to the normal chaos of a shiny new set of twins that’s hard to believe it was only within the past 12 months. And even though I hear the beginning cries of somebody waking up, I’m grateful to report, after a series of storms, relative calm.

As it was before, feel free to ask questions about anything. I’ll answer them via the same way you ask. — mbe

Labor Day, Revisited

This was one of the great nurses we had. She was gracious in allowing us to take her picture. Of course, I can’t remember her name.

I had grand plans of what to write next, but the birthday baby girl must realize it’s her holiday; she’s wide awake and keeps breaking my concentration. Gone are the days I could nurse her and her brother to automatic sedation. And it seems the more alert either child is, the sleepier I am. Had I known sleep would be so hard to come by, I would’ve taken my OB’s advice a year ago tonight. “Sleep as much as  possible.”

Dr. Katz was fortunately on call into the evening that I was induced with near-200 systolic. My diastolic was hovering around 100 as well. A big deal, a high BP was still my only medical concern. We’d still planned a vaginal delivery with all the drugs available. She said I needed the rest in order to push. My doctor has a record of delivering 75 percent of her patients, so I was hoping I’d have a familiar face at delivery. By this point though, I’d been laboring for more than 12 hours and hadn’t dilated beyond a couple centimeters. I was still battling PUPPPs, which no one seemed to know anything about. With a little research, someone could’ve warned me that an epidural would intensify the itching and bring out the caricature of hysterical pregnant woman. My body was on fire. I cried, screamed and could’ve yanked every needle out of my arms as a reaction to the meds flooding my veins. It was ugly. That moment was the worst part of labor, despite being able to feel my contractions because my epidural only worked on one side. Of course, I didn’t know that at the time.

Me: “Whoa! I can feel that!”

Nurses/anesthesiologists/medical professionals: “That’s just pressure.”

Me (who knew nothin’ about birthin’ no babies): “Oh (clenched teeth). OK.”

It was my doctor’s constant presence — I’m sure she was cursing out folks on my behalf — that had, not one, but two anesthesiologists mixing pain cocktails to ease the “pressure” in a way that kept me from scratching the skin off my stomach and legs. Their choice, I was told, could help the itching but would lessen the effect. I said I’d rather be in pain.

And I was in pain at regular intervals throughout the night with little progress. My blood pressure remained elevated, I wasn’t allowed to eat, and I was stuck in position on my left side because they feared losing a read on the boy’s heart rate. If I turned just a little bit and the monitor shifted, a seeming first-year nurse would run in in a panic and add more goop that would add to my itchiness as well as its rhyming description. I hadn’t mentioned that I’d once worked in a hospital, but the first-year picked up on it and put it in her report (complained) to the next nurse, who was a lot less sloppy in her care. Or maybe it was morning, home to the first-stringers and people with seniority who know what they’re doing.

The morning of Aug. 14th came and went. By noon, I was still in labor with regular contractions that would wake me up if I dared fall asleep. “A Baby Story,” where the kid is born in an hour between commercials, this was not.