Saturday, March 06, 2010

Home for a week

We've been home from the hospital for a week now. The week went by surprisingly fast, too. David, poor guy, was running errands constantly, which left me free to stay home with Andrew, which was nice, and to rest and try to heal. So far, I think things are going pretty well; that is, we haven't experienced anything really out of the ordinary. I've got some pain in my right lower abdomen, probably from weak muscles trying to recover from a long pregnancy and the trauma of major surgery. And of course, we're trying to adjust to the return of the middle-of-the-night feedings.

We're all in love with Andrew, though. No question about that! He is chubby and pink and sweet and delicious.

William adores his baby brother; he likes to pull a stool up to the cradle, lean over and sing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" to him. And should Andrew be crying or fussing, William will croon "It's okay, baby brother" to him until he can't take it anymore. Then he comes running to find me and says urgently, "Mommy, he needs you! He needs you!"

And last night, William "read" "Goodnight Moon" to his brother, too.

We've also been extremely lucky in that we've had several people from church bring us dinner this week, freeing me from trying to think of something to make and freeing David from actually having to make it! The sheer utter luxury of having someone else make you dinner! A good dinner! Ahhh...

But I also wanted to record a few thoughts and memories from Andrew's birth and the first few days afterward, so that I can both share them with y'all and so that I have a better chance of remembering them myself, too. These may be rather stream-of-consciousness, so bear with me.

My water broke at 5:50 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 24. I had crept out of bed, right before David's alarm clock went off, to go to the bathroom. On the way back, I thought, "Wait..." When I was sure, a minute later, I woke David up. A flurry of activity, all pretty controlled, ensued. We got dressed, made sure our already-packed bags had everything we needed in them and then woke up William and got him dressed. We called Diane and asked if we could bring William by on the way to the hospital. When we got there, she was waiting with a travel mug full of hot coffee for David and hugs for all of us. It was cold, with the sun peeking through clouds. David and I were in a good mood, a little anxious but excited, as we arrived at the parking garage for Baptist Hospital.

A couple of hours later, I was ensconced in a labor and delivery room, hooked up to an IV, sitting up in a hospital bed and chatting with David and playing on my iPhone. We could see the city skyline out the window, and I noted that William would have loved being able to see the Batman building from my hospital room. Snow (!) began to swirl down, and I said that I could actually sit back and enjoy watching this snow, now that I was safely at the hospital and not worried about driving through it. Over the next few hours, as the Pitocin kicked in, I watched the snow drift slowly and then fall faster and faster. I posted on Facebook, texted my parents, and emailed friends and enjoyed reading all the responses come in. The CRNA came in to insert the epidural; later I had to have it reinserted. My nurse and David made sure I had plenty of ice chips (the good Sonic ice kind), and my friend Patrice, who works at the hospital, dropped by to chat for a little while.

My doctor came by to check in on me, and give me a progress report. Later that afternoon, we began the pushing process. Unfortunately, a fast-acting anesthetic agent had completely numbed everything below my bust, and my pushing was less than effective. But I tried. They turned off the epidural and let the meds wear off so I could feel again, and the pushing resumed. Only, oh my God, it hurt. And I'm no stranger to that kind of pain. I pushed for 3.5 hours with William, after all. So I kept pushing. At one point, they offered me a popsicle, and I gratefully sucked on a cherry one, then threw it up later. ("It was worth it," I said. It totally was.) After more pushing and then some more, I just didn't know if I could do it. The baby was facing up, and it's much harder to push a baby out when he's in that position, so I was having trouble moving him effectively. The doctor and David and I conferred. After one last bout of pushing, it was time for a c-section.

That's when it gets a little hazier for me. A team of people rushed into my room and began preparing me for surgery. I was moaning in pain, I remember that part pretty vividly though. They gave me an injection--a spinal?--of something in my epidural, and they put a cap on my hair, and they pushed me on a gurney down a hallway to a brightly lit (but somehow small-seeming) operating room. A couple of the people who transported me to the OR showed me the gurney where I'd be operated on, and I said that I didn't think I could get up there all by myself, and they laughed and said they'd take care of that.

I remember being relieved that my arms were not strapped or tied down after they assembled the drapes for the surgical field, and I remember David having on a surgical mask and hat. At some point, I think I asked for more oxygen, too. Then I heard a cry--Andrew! David was taking some pictures, and then they took the baby over to the warmer to check him out. He seemed great, and no one seemed worried at all. A nurse weighed him, and when David saw the weight in grams, he nearly did a double take. They called out to me that Andrew weighed 9 lbs and 4 and a quarter ounces, and all I could think was "Oh my God, I was carrying a baby that big inside me?" I mean, no wonder I felt full to the brim of baby those last few weeks; I was! The next little bit was a little hazy, too. A couple of women took me back to my L&D room, and I sent David off to the nursery with the baby. One of the nurses asked me if I'd had a late ultrasound or anything to indicate that the baby was going to be that big, and I said no, there had been no reason to have one. No one thought I would have been able to push out a baby that size in that position, at least not without some big help, which was somehow validating and reassuring.

In the L&D room, I begged for apple juice, which somehow I had gotten obsessed with at some point during the day. They said I could have a clear drink like Sprite (!) when I was moved up to my regular room, so I had to be content with that. I spent about three hours in recovery. Early on, David brought Andrew to me. It was nice and quiet, and I was still a little drowsy from the anesthesia, so it just seemed so peaceful. We curled up in my bed and I nursed him for a little while, and then we took a nice little cozy nap together, him sighing up against my chest. Eventually I went to my new room. Andrew and David went to the nursery again for a little while, and they met me in the new room. When I got there, I met my nurse and the assistant (they call them techs), and they got me settled in a bed, with my IV pole and all the tubes and stuff in the appropriate places. I asked if I could have something to drink, and they said yes, soon, and I asked about the Sprite. And that's when I got the good news that I could have my apple juice. This was extremely good news. They brought me two small cups and a cup of ice, and asked me to drink it slowly. It was the best thing I think I've ever tasted.

I don't remember much of the rest of the night, except that people checked on me nearly constantly. Blood pressure. Vital signs. Temperature. Incision. Catheter. Blood pressure again. (My blood pressure was very low and stayed low for another day, in the 80/40 range.) Lather, rinse, repeat. The next morning, I perused the room service menu for the clear liquid diet, which was all I was allowed to have. I ordered more apple juice, an Italian ice, and some chicken broth (I think). The Italian ice was tasty, but an ice and chicken broth doesn't make a very exciting breakfast. Needless to say I was delighed when my friend Cindy showed up with a 44 oz cherry limeade from Sonic that morning. She was the first of a steady stream of visitors. Diane brought William to visit, then my dad came over from Brownsville, my pastor Guy arrived, and Mary Clare came to see us. We teased MC that if the nurses got a good look at her, they might not let her leave, since she was just days away from delivering her own baby boy. Later, our friend Kathleen came by, too. The best part was seeing William meet his baby brother. He ran to the bassinette and cried, "He's adorable! Isn't he adorable?"

Sometime around dinnertime, they finally gave me the okay to order some real food. My daytime nurse wasn't very hot on the idea of me eating yet, but the evening shift nurse thought I was ready but warned me to take it easy. Just to be on the safe side, I ordered more exciting broth, another Italian ice, iced tea, juice...and then a plate of chicken fingers. The chicken fingers were good, but nothing quite measured up to the way that apple juice had tasted the night before. Still solid food at last!

David and I talked about how tired we were, and I encouraged him to go home that night and get a decent night's sleep. Andrew's circumcision was scheduled for the next morning, so I wanted David at least to be in good shape in case it was a rough day. He hemmed and hawed, and I practically had to shove him out the door. He called me when he got home, and I told him that Andrew and I were curled up in the bed, watching the Olympics on TV and snoozing through the figure skating. That night, they took out the catheter, so I could get up and down to go the bathroom. I called the nursery and had them take Andrew for a few hours while I slept. Then they brought him to me for feeding around 2:30 or so. I put on my new pink bathrobe over my groovy hospital gown and walked him back down to the nursery myself afterward (partially because I could and also because I was curious about the nursery itself). They brought him back to me about two hours later to eat again, and then they took him back down to the nursery for rounds. Around 7:30, David burst into the hospital room when I was coming out of the bathroom and shouted, "Jennifer, where are you? Is everything okay?" And I walked out of the bathroom and was like, "I'm right here. I'm fine." And as soon as he saw me up walking around, his face relaxed. He'd been worried about leaving us and feeling guilty, but I thought and still think it was the best thing to do for all of us. Andrew was an angel, but we did have a busy day: photos of Andrew, a discharge session for parents, more visitors (Shab! Jennifer Pearson, with more cherry limeades!), Mark and Jen, the interim pastor Ben from my church). So we did just fine.

So that's the majority of the story. As you may or may not know, we came home last Saturday to a sick William, and Diane stayed with us an extra night to take care of him. But we're doing okay now, and we're just very grateful that everything turned out as well as it did.

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