I’ll be honest. I was kind of praying I’d go into labour on my own because everything I’d heard from friends or read on Dr Google (always a bad idea) made me dread having to endure an induction. I tried prenatal massage and acupuncture in the hopes of getting things moving on their own…but who knows if they worked. All I know is in the wee hours of the morning (1:15 am to be precise) on the day of my induction, I was awoken by a very audible “pop” and the feeling of something popping in my tummy.
My waters had broken.
Not QUITE like that, but damn close enough.
So off me and hubby went to the hospital. What they don’t tell you about your water breaking is that very rarely does it come out in one solid gush. No no. It, in fact, slowly alternates between leaks and gushes for HOURS. HOURS!! And you can’t stop it. It’s the most horribly awkward sensation ever.
The hospital was fun. My contractions had been coming sporadically for days anyway, but never anything I couldn’t talk through. That was the problem — even with my first pregnancy, my contractions never came consistently, so they were a very bad measure of how my labour was progressing. Same story this time. The contractions were still coming quite strongly after my waters broke, averaging 3-5 mins apart, but I could talk through them for the most part.
We arrived, were admitted to Triage, and they spent the next four hours trying to find someone to put an IV in me. Apparently I’m all valves… after 5 attempts, they called the hospital’s anaethetist who brought along a portable ultrasound machine and a colleague. They took 2 more tries and finally got one in. By then I was spent. The pain was excruciating being poked over and over. I was bruised, bleeding, leaking, contracting… and being checked for dilation repeatedly. Finally they just moved me to Labour and Delivery. We were committed.
It’s on like Donkey Kong.
Long story short, they still hooked me up to induction drugs, but they weren’t working as they were supposed to, so they kept turning them on and off. They gave me an epidural, which was the best thing in the world (yay, it worked this time!). I wasn’t progressing beyond 5-6cm. The baby’s heart rate kept dropping with each contraction. And after a total 18 hours of labour, when the doctor came in to check on me, she took one look at the baby’s heart tracing and then rushed me into the OR for an emergency C-section. Turns out Tator Tot’s cord was wrapped around her neck twice. They got her out in time. I’m very grateful. But it was an emotional roller coaster I won’t soon forget.
The reality of life after labour
Everyone talks about the labour and delivery. That’s the story everyone wants to hear about. And yes, Tator Tot made quite the dramatic entrance into the world. But no one really talks about what it’s like after the fact. When you have this little human and are suddenly responsible for her while simultaneously trying to keep your shit together.
The C-section was incredibly traumatic, physically, emotionally. I didn’t anticipate it, even though the doctor told us there was a possibility of it happening if the heart rate didn’t recover. And even though secretly I was hoping for a C-section because I knew how hard delivering her the other way was… it wasn’t anything like I thought.
The prepped me so fast that all I can remember is I was sobbing out of fear. Not for me, but for the baby. Obviously my baby was in distress if they were doing this all so quickly! All I could think was “Please let her be okay. We’ve come this far, I can’t lose her!” I heard myself saying that over and over again. And after all our losses, it was very fresh in my mind…the fear. And even though it was a textbook pregnancy, the fear loomed over me the entire time that something was going to go wrong.
They jacked up the epidural which, along with the labour hormones, pushed my body into overdrive. I couldn’t stop from shaking so badly (which is normal, apparently). My body was shaking / convulsing so hard I felt like I’d bite my tongue off. I felt the tugging and the pressure as they cut me open and removed baby. It wasn’t painful, but very, very uncomfortable. I remember them saying it was a “double nuchal” and freaking out because I didn’t hear her cry right away. The stitching up after the fact was just as uncomfortable. Yes, you’re numb to the pain, but not the sensations. You are utterly and completely out of control of everything. And it’s terrifying.
And there she was
Tator Tot was small (which we guessed would happen). At just over 5 lbs, they were treating her like a 35 week gestation rather than the 39 weeks the calendar said she was. She was also hypoglycemic after her birth, so was in the NICU for almost 2 days. They tested her glucose every two hours with a heel prick (agonizing to watch) which bruised her little feet. She was hooked up to an IV, and had a feeding tube inserted.
I was fresh from major abdominal surgery, but had to find a way to walk down to the NICU several times a day to help feed and bond with the baby, and check up on her. With the government’s recent health care cut backs, there was only one health care aide for two separate wards, and not enough nurses to help me make the walk or wheel me down. (Absolutely not their fault!) So it was on me to ensure I was walking every day.
The government screwed me over
At one point the health care aide reprimanded me for not having a support person staying with me at the hospital 24 hours a day. I was slightly offended…the reality for many people is that we don’t have that luxury. My husband came to the hospital when he could, but he also had to work, and had my older daughter to look after. One of us needed to be rested and not miserable to ensure she was adjusting okay to having no mom at home for nearly a week. Especially since I left home in the middle of the night.
The walking as soon as possible afterward is important because you don’t want to develop blood clots. So I’m in pain, hooked up to an IV of antibiotics and saline, trying to walk down the ward to another area of the hospital. I’m having painkillers several times a day, and a blood thinner injected into my stomach once a day. The nurses come in every couple of hours to check my incision, and press down on my uterus to ensure it’s contracting properly. Not the most pleasant sensation. Even getting out of bed is hard…you don’t realize how much you rely on your core until you can’t use it properly.
The hospital wears you down
Even though the staff and the care was top notch (thank you, St B!), being in hospital for 4 days was utterly exhausting.
The same uncomfortable bed.
Having to share a bathroom with the lady in the next room who obviously has a much lower pain tolerance than you do, and finds that screaming and shouting and crying is her best way of coping (I’m not judging, but when you’re post-partum yourself, it’s fucking irritating to listen to).
Having nurses come in to check on you every couple of hours, and then being left utterly alone.
Having to religiously monitor feed amounts to ensure your baby doesn’t end up back in NICU.
Having to watch her have her heel pricked and blood checked every time you turn around.
Wanting family around you, but then wishing they’d leave the minute they arrive.
Not being able to take a shower.
When we were finally discharged, I was over the moon, but so tired I couldn’t even put it into words.
Home isn’t much better
We are 2 weeks post-partum today. Let me tell you…I LOVE this baby more than I thought possible. She’s perfect. She’s my little miracle. The baby I never thought I’d have. But those early days … you forget. Sure you can read about it online — how hard it is with a new baby. You hear the stories of lack of sleep, etc. It’s all true. But no amount of reading (or even experiencing it first hand 9 years ago) prepares you for the reality of it.
I have had 3 whole showers in 2 weeks. Me. Someone who showers EVERY DAMN DAY. And the only reason is because it exhausts me to do anything more than walk from the bedroom to the couch.
My baby has mild reflux and very bad gas. What does this mean? Short feeds. Frequent feeds. And baby agonizing after every one. There’s crying, agitation, she squirms when I put her down. She only sleeps when she’s held upright. Which means I sleep upright. She poops constantly. But mostly it’s just pain from not being able to pass her gas.
She goes from 0-60 in less than 3 seconds when she IS hungry, so I can’t feed her fast enough. So she gets upset, gulps more air, which adds to the gas, and then shotguns either her bottle or her breast milk like a frat boy at a kegger. So she needs to be burped several times a feed…which upsets her more. Because she’s hungry.
Three days ago, she started cluster feeding. I think she was / is going through a growth spurt. Which meant that I literally did not sleep for 3 nights. #truestory
They tell you to sleep when the baby sleeps. That is SO much easier said than done. And you want to punch all the people who tell you to do that. Sometimes you just can’t. No matter how hard you try. You can’t sleep. Maybe, like baby, you’re overtired. And then other times, no matter what you do you can’t keep your eyes open and fall asleep holding the baby (never a safe option!). Or maybe it’s knowing she is going to be up again in 20 mins anyway, and then that ends up being the time she sleeps for 2 hours.
I have no appetite. Probably because I’m so tired.
My incision is sore. My pain meds from the hospital have run out.
She’s too small right now, so we can’t really have anyone over. Nor can I take her anywhere. So I’m missing all of Little Potato’s “stuff” (her extra curricular classes, her basketball games…even her holiday concert next week). Little Potato, who LOVES her sister, is understandably upset. I can’t even do the school drop off right now. She misses me. I miss her.
I want to cry ALL THE DAMN TIME. I do cry all the damn time. I feel constantly frustrated.
Yesterday I had a blocked milk duct which was probably the most painful thing I’ve experienced SINCE child birth.
I don’t want to talk to people. I want to be alone. And yet I miss leaving the house.
I want people to visit, but when they get here I want them to leave.
I want everyone to stop talking to me.
I have pain. Everywhere. Stabbing pains in my uterus (it’s still contracting) which are worse during feeds. My incision seems to be healing fine, but I can’t really see it yet. My body feels lumpy and gross. My tummy looks square. My back is still numb from the epidural in some places. And it’s sore from sleeping upright for so many weeks.
I can’t go up and down the stairs. It hurts to cough, laugh, sneeze. I feel like my guts are going to fall out.
The truth is… you don’t have to love it
But I have a baby. A perfect, beautiful, frustratingly wonderful baby. And I love her, but simultaneously hate almost everyone and everything else right now.
Little Tator Tot <3
They tell you it’ll pass (it will).
They remind you that you’ve done this before (I have).
They tell you that you’ve got this (I do).
And I know it’s well-meaning, and well-intentioned, and said with love (it is).
Dear friends offer to come hold the baby so I can rest. But if you’re breast feeding, that’s hard. I don’t always have the energy to express into a bottle. And the truth is, if she starts to cry, I’m not getting any sleep no matter how well looked after she is. The other evening my husband had her and she started to cry because that’s what babies do. It physically hurt me to hear it. I couldn’t help but intervene.
I’m miserable, tired, sleep deprived, sore, bored, lonely, scared, emotional, afraid…so many emotions wrapped up in a lumpy, post-partum package. And whenever she cries and I can’t comfort her, I question whether I’m good enough. Even though I know I damn well am…I have proof of that in Little Potato.
Miracle? It’s a miracle I haven’t committed felonies yet…
You know what? Child birth is a miracle, yes. But you don’t have to love it. You don’t have to bask in it’s beauty and take it gracefully. It’s hard. It’s the hardest thing you will EVER do. And the older you are, the harder it is. You don’t have to constantly acknowledge it’s wonder. You’re allowed to feel like a giant ball of crap. You’re allowed to be frustrated.
Because it’s life changing. And it’s hard. And it’s okay to hate it. Right now, I hate it. I hate everything about it. I feel like I’m screwing up everything. I’m obsessing about everything. I’m worried about everything. I want one hour of uninterrupted sleep. I want to stop feeling so emotional. I WANT TO TAKE A GODDAMN SHOWER WITHOUT NEEDING AN HOUR TO RECUPERATE.
And I know I will. I know it’s coming. We will turn a corner in a few weeks and all of this misery will be a distant memory.
But right now — it’s hard. And the only thing getting me through the day is knowing she is utterly perfect. She needs me. She’s mine. And in this whole chaotic post-partum mess…she is the ONLY thing that makes sense. And frankly the only thing I give a crap about.
Speak soon. xo