As I predicted, that Tuesday morning was uneventful. My mom was in town, as I mentioned, so she joined us for our morning walk as Luffy and I freaked out a tad. (Our go-to meme for the weekend was Tina Belcher’s, from Bob’s Burgers, anxiety noises.) We packed up our hospital bag for the extended stay. Mom and I finished a movie we had started the previous night and then I showered again with the clinical soap. Time positively drug by until it was finally time to head to the hospital.
Since I was already checked in, we were buzzed right back. The nurses complimented me on our punctuality and began the process of getting me ready for surgery. I changed and they started an IV line. I answered a slew of questions about medications and complications and medical history. Once all that was done, we waited around for the scheduled time. Luffy changed into his surgical gear and then… then we headed back into the OR to change our lives.
They left Luffy in the hallway while I went back and was prepped for the spinal. Honestly, that part was the scariest since Luffy wasn’t there and I was in the OR all by myself. Such a surgical space, all sterile and bright. My nurse was fantastic in getting me to relax and into the right position for the spinal. Once it was administered, I laid back on the table and basically hung out while they hooked up all their monitors and disinfected (and shaved) my belly. I tried to relax; I was nervous about how the spinal would affect me. (I had heard that a lot of women start having a panic attack because they can’t tell if they’re breathing anymore.) My doctor came in and greeted me again and then finally they brought Luffy back. He had a huge smile on his face and he sat right down beside me and grabbed my hand. It was a sweet moment – our last as just the two of us.
The surgery started and there were some weird sensations, as they opened me up. Time stood still and then I heard him cry! Little Dumpling had arrived! I immediately starting crying myself and said something silly – probably along the lines of there he is! My doctor had them lower the drape so he could show us Little Dumpling who looked so chubby. They set him to the side and pulled Luffy around so that he could take pictures of Little Dumpling being weighed and measured. Everyone joked because LD just screamed and screamed – no mistaking that his lungs were just fine! (His APGAR scores also reflected this liveliness – he scored an 8 and a 9 at his one minute and five minute intervals.) Then they brought him to me so that we could get a little skin-to-skin action, which was a challenge because of the drape and the fact that I’m so short! There wasn’t a lot of room, but we did it. I marveled at him and just sort of stared at this little dude, this little wrinkly squalling newborn. We were fascinated with his extraordinarily long fingers and he had so much hair!
As the procedure came to a close, they took Luffy and LD back into recovery and finished me up. I was wheeled out, after speaking with my doctor, and spent two hours in recovery being monitored. LD spent a bit of time in the warmer and a bit of time with me. The drugs administered during the surgery made this time a little hazy (like, I still remember it and I was there but I felt a little loopy). We took pictures of LD and updated our friends on his arrival. Luffy looked perfect holding LD. I really can’t describe the feeling of watching him hold our son. Just perfection. I fell a little deeper in love with him in that moment (as I would further over the next few days).
At one point, a passing nurse asked me if my mom was perhaps here – waiting? When I affirmed that my mom was indeed waiting, the nurse told me there was a woman pacing the halls, wringing her hands, who hadn’t sat down in two hours – might that be her and should the nurse at least tell her everything went fine? My poor mother – so anxious! Luffy left recovery occasionally to update his parents. The pediatric nurses took LD away for a few heel pricks as his bilirubin levels were high and he had a weakly positive Coombs test (meaning my blood cells had started producing antibodies against LD’s blood cells). The two hours I spent in recovery were a blur of emotions and weird feelings as my body started processing out the spinal block.
Finally, it was time to go back to our room. At first, I was dismayed to find we were headed towards their overflow section (which meant smaller rooms), but we did just fine. My parents were waiting, as were Luffy’s – everyone was excited to see the little boy! We shooed everyone out after a few moments because it was time to try breastfeeding! Amazingly, LD latched right away and even managed to get a bit of colostrum from me. The rest of the evening is a blur for me. I had nausea around 6pm and got medication. It came back around midnight and I actually vomited before getting another dose of medication (I had thought the nausea might pass without it – I was wrong). Luffy actually got quite a bit of sleep – mostly because LD was still exhausted from delivery and slept most of the night. I’m pretty sure I held him on my chest for most of the night. I got up out of bed for the first time around 5am. Go me!
The next day (Wednesday) was pretty good – also a bit of a blur. My parents brought breakfast for Luffy and enjoyed some newborn snuggles. I got real food at lunch time. My parents gave us privacy during the afternoon for our hospital’s nap time. Everyone got a bit of sleep. My parents brought us dinner (pho! ultimate comfort food) at Luffy’s request (again, he wanted to make sure I was well taken care of and knew the pho would make me feel better).
I’ll pause here to commend my husband. He took such good care of me – of us. He was, and continues to be, absolutely incredible. He loves our little boy so much, it makes my heart hurt. He immediately dived into diaper changes and was the first to figure out that LD likes to hold someone’s hand (holding his hand can help calm him down and I used the trick too while trying to nurse over the first few days). He watched over me, making sure I was doing ok, enforcing rest and naps, questioning care if needed. He was fantastic. Even after we came home, he knew without prompting that my recovery from surgery would need sleep and lots of it. Thus he and my mom took the night shifts that first night home, allowing me to (try) to get a full night’s sleep. He is my foundation and I truly couldn’t have done it without him.
Back to our story – Wednesday night was not a good night for us. I’ll give about 10% blame to LD because my milk had (obviously) not come in yet and he was frustrated with nursing. There wasn’t much for him to have and he had no patience to work for it. The other 90% of blame I’ll assign to the overnight pediatric nurse on duty. The problem was that she kept telling me she wanted to check LD before he nursed. The first time she told me that, I was nursing him (probably about 8pm), so she said to just page her when he was hungry next but that she hoped to be back at 10pm. 10pm came and went, with no sign of her. LD woke up and started fussing at 10:15 and I paged her. And I waited and waited and waited as LD howled and became more and more agitated. Finally, at 11, I said screw this and nursed him (not well, because he was so upset). The nurse did not come by until midnight – a full hour and a half after I paged her. She apologized for not getting there sooner but I wanted to rail at her that she should HAVE TOLD ME so that I could have nursed. LD was asleep once again and so she said to page her again before nursing next time. This went on and on and on. It was awful. Luffy and I passed LD back and forth, each trying to drown out the screaming and catch a few zzz’s.
In hindsight, I don’t know why I ever waited that first time. When she didn’t show up in ten minutes or so, I should have just nursed. My newborn does not have to be on your schedule and he should eat when he wants to. Also, I probably should have requested a bit of formula to get LD over the hump before my milk came in. The only positive thing the nurse did was to suggest a formula dropper to get LD interested in nursing. I don’t think it actually did anything for nursing, but it did give him a few calories to make it through the night. I finally got to sleep around 6am and heard later that Luffy refused to let at least two nurses/techs come in the room for fear of waking me up.
As awful as Wednesday night was, Thursday was good. We were discharged! Before 1pm! Go us!! Going home was fun and surreal. We introduced Jas to LD – completely adorable. She totally missed him until he cried and then was like whaaaaaat is that????? Later in the evening, when I was trying to nurse (again, not well, LD is super impatient), he was crying and Jas was biting me like mom – why aren’t you helping that poor squalling human???? (And I’ll clarify, it was love bites, like she does when I’m not paying attention to her. Clearly I just hadn’t noticed the little guy was upset and she wanted to right that!) She’s been wonderful around him though, generally leaving him alone. Although, adorably, she has sort of taken over the co-sleeper we set up the Sunday before he came. She really likes it and sleeps there a lot.
I’ll take a break here. Obviously it’s been a while since I posted and there’s plenty to update everyone on. We’re home though! Doing well. LD is gaining weight and chubbing up beautifully. Jas is doing good. Luffy is amazing. I’m finally in a good place again, mentally. All is well.