Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Birth of my Daughter

We're a family of four!
I've ignored my blog for a long while, but I want to record my second birth story before it all slips from memory.

I had an OB appointment on Wednesday, July 22nd, the day after my due date. Three years ago when Lachlan was born ten days late, I swore that if I had another child, I would lie to everyone about the due date so that I wouldn't get so many calls, emails and texts about why baby hadn't arrived yet. Fibbing just isn't in my nature, though, so I reported the actual due date to friends and family and, of course, received lots of messages that essentially said, "is baby here yet?"

All of those people who contacted me love us and were just excited about baby's arrival, but I didn't like the feeling of everyone waiting on me. I was also adamant that my labor not be induced. I wanted baby girl to come when she was ready.

The OB reported that I was three centimetres dilated and did a quick membrane sweep, which can kick start labor if baby is ready. I then experienced contractions off and on through the afternoon and evening. I went to bed that night, but the contractions were strong enough to prevent me from actually falling asleep. At 11:30pm I felt a huge gush and I knew that my water had broken. My contractions remained irregular (every twelve minutes) so we phoned the hospital to find out whether or not we should come in. After spending twenty minutes on hold and two changes of pajama pants, the hospital never picked up the phone and we decided to go anyway because I was leaky and uncomfortable.

Mickey and I couldn't find the after hours entrance to the hospital and learned that though it was midnight, we could enter through the normal front entrance. I was admitted and filled out some paperwork. The nurses monitored my still irregular contractions and recommended that I walk around the corridor to get more active labor started. Mickey and I made one lap up and back, but I felt too much pressure and discomfort and back pain to continue to walk.

Back in the delivery room I was given a steroid drug via IV that I needed because of a recent flare up of one of my gastro conditions. The nurse offered another IV drug to help with the pain and I accepted. It made me dizzy almost immediately, but it did help with the pain. My contractions remained irregular, but when they did come, I felt them in my back far more than I remember with Lachlan's birth. I was ready for an epidural and the anaesthesiologist gave it to me without any judgement. It was very effective, but I could still feel some back pain. The nurses helped me reposition my body to allow the drug to get to my back.

I was then comfortable enough to doze for a couple of hours while they gave me pitocin to speed up contractions. I was delighted to not feel most of this. At about 6:40 in the morning, they checked me and reported that baby was ready to come out.

The epidural mercifully took away all sensation and I felt a sense of disbelief that baby could actually be eminent. The doctor said I'd have baby out in a push or two. I remember thinking about how terribly disappointed the doctor would be once she realized that I had no sensation and thus no ability to push baby out. To my shock and delight, though, I pretended to push (by putting my chin to my chest and squeezing any abdominal muscles that I could feel) and baby did in fact come out in about eight minutes. I suppose my body knew what to do even though I felt disconnected from my lower half. When they said that her head was born, I thought 'could have fooled me,' because I really could not feel a thing.

They handed baby to me and I cried tears of joy and disbelief. Simi's birth had been different from Lachlan's, but it was very positive and not nearly as uncomfortable as it could have been. The doctor stitched me up while they weighed and measured our perfect little girl: 7lbs and 10ozs, 20.5 inches long. The nurses wheeled me on a gurney out of labor and delivery and into the mother/baby wing of the maternity floor. It was several hours before I could really feel my legs again and before the nurses allowed me to walk and shower.

Simi and I received really good care at the hospital. Friendly nurses and doctors checked in on us often and generally didn't scold me for not feeding baby often enough and didn't interrupt us too many times. I sent Simi to the nursery at night so that I could rest and no one seemed to judge me for that.

Triumphant, but puffy
Lachlan and Nani were our first visitors in the hospital on Thursday morning. Lachlan wore his 'Awesome, Awesome, Awesome Brother' t-shirt for the photos, but was afraid to get too close to Simi. He would talk to her and look at her, but didn't want to touch her. That was okay by me because I'd rather he be cautious than all over baby. Grandpa Tom arrived the next day with a beautiful bouquet of pink roses and baby girl balloons for the house.

After lots of tests and checks for baby and paperwork for me, I was released from the hospital on Saturday morning. I put on a dress and make up for the triumphant 'coming home from the hospital' photos a la Kate Middleton. I looked presentable, but I couldn't be bothered with my hair and I felt decidedly more puffy than I imagine Kate felt.

During my hospital stay and in the week following Simi's birth, I experienced a lot of back pain in one spot. My doctor said it resulted from the labor that I didn't feel. Now, two and a half weeks after the birth, my back is in good shape and I'm wearing non-maternity shorts (though they're a bit snug). After months of carrying a heavy belly, it's delightful not to be pregnant.

I'm afraid of jinxing myself, but Simi is a very good baby so far. She caught on to nursing quickly and doesn't have long bouts of unexplained crying. When she's upset she's usually hungry, tired or wet. She seems like a fairly easy baby because I am much more relaxed than I was when Lachlan arrived. Three years ago, the anxiety I felt about the responsibility of caring for a new baby prevented me from enjoying Lachlan's early development. I could hardly look at him without worrying that if he was awake, he should be asleep and vice versa. This time around, I can gaze and admire my new baby without fear. I also have a perspective on the newborn days that I didn't have last time. I know that it all ends very quickly as baby grows and moves on to the next phase. When Lachlan first arrived, I felt like my new normal was endless cycles of feeding, changing and settling baby, but now I know that this is just the beginning. By Christmas, Simi will be able to do all kinds of things that she cannot yet do and caring for her will be different (harder in some ways, easier in others) than it is today.

Simi already has more clothes than any other member of our family thanks to hand-me-downs and gifts from dear friends. Nani and I have taken a lot of joy from dressing baby everyday and I've started calling her 'Dolly' because she is my little doll.

Lachlan has warmed up to his sister a little bit and asks to hold her sometimes. Last night he held and kissed her very sweetly. This morning he wanted to read her some books, but I suspected he actually just wanted extra attention from me. When Lachlan senses that he's not getting enough attention, he gets louder and more aggressive. For the most part, though, I think he's adjusting to this major change as well as can be expected. It helps that his grandparents are around to take him out and burn off some energy. I also try to hand baby over to grandparents when she's happy so that I can have quality time with Lachlan.

I hardly left the house yesterday and I didn't get into the shower until nearly 11am today, but at least I got a shower in the end. I also finished this blog post. Neither of these things would be possible without the help I'm receiving from Mickey, of course, my mom and in-laws. It absolutely takes a village.