Saturday, February 20, 2016

Simply Simon

So, yes.  I came out on the other side of this.

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And I am still very much finding my feet 10 days later.  February is a restless month anyway, and having such a large-scale (wonderfully wanted) disruption land in it is enough to make anyone feel lost.

So, pretty much don't ask me to be anywhere anytime soon, especially if you're hoping for a non-pajama-ed version of me.  Dressing the immediate postpartum body is the pits. You're all soft and sore and needing quick access to all your parts.  Mirrors are not my friend.  But hey, who needs them, I have a new friend.


Mom, not cool.

This little guy came barreling into the world at full-speed, and was more than a pound bigger than any of my other babies. (Nearly a 9-pounder) Compounding my slow recovery, we're pretty sure he bruised my rib on his way out.  Which, ouch.

(Also, bruised rib + postpartum sutures and bladder trauma + sinus infection = trifecta of nose-blowing terror)

I hope at some point I'm able to reflect on this birth with more spiritual eyes.  It happened so fast and I've been scrambling so much to keep up with life (with 5 kids!) since then that I haven't managed the kind of reflection that I hope will still come.

So here's the version with the chronology, if not the teleology.

My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer back in January, and was originally scheduled for surgery only 2 days after my due date.  Panic sort of ensued.  First of all, my mom with her years of nursing experience is the very best postpartum caretaker in the world.  She can't always give me as much of her time as she'd like, but the time I get is of supreme quality.  Everything you can think of gets taken care of for me.  Kids are happy, messes are contained, I get checked on regularly and reminded to eat and drink and stay on top of medication.  I can totally just focus on being reflective and bonding with my new baby for a bit.  I highly recommend it.

However, it was not in the cards this go round.  My mom's surgery did get pushed back a bit, so there was reason to hope she'd get to at least spend some time with baby before a long 6-week recovery period where she can't hold anything heavier than a spoon. (She needed to save all her leave from work for post-surgery) But then my due-date came and went, and days started passing us by and she started sweating bullets.

On top of which, did I mention that he was a big baby?  My discomfort levels started to skyrocket.  I could feel diastasis recti in the making (ab muscles separating down the middle), my hips were constantly popping out of their sockets in painful ways, and I got frequent jolts of sciatica.  Plus the worst heartburn of my life, and a horrible head cold and I was a hot mess of a miserable manatee.  Wednesday morning, after my 4th night in a row of nearly no sleep and 4 days overdue, we finally decided that we were going to have to give up on my goal to go into labor on my own. I was scared of replicating my younger brother's birth, where my mom broke her tailbone and had a 3rd degree tear.  In retrospect, we're pretty sure it was the right choice, because did I mention that he was a big baby?

I told the nurse I was tentatively planning to forego an epidural, unless the labor dragged on for a long time, (because remember how I hadn't slept in days and was already exhausted?)  But when you know that you'd be paying for that epidural out of pocket, and that you pretty much can't afford it, well let's just say it makes the choice easier.

The pitocin started just before 3 pm, even once it was turned up all the way my contractions weren't any more uncomfortable than the braxton hicks ones I'd been having on my own.  But once the doctor  showed up to break my water (which I'm told was around 5:15?), then I quickly entered that zone that requires incredible focus to survive.  I couldn't even talk, and Mr Renn kept asking me questions I couldn't answer, so I kept throwing him dagger eyes.  At one point I managed to tell him he was saying the wrong things, but that was the extent of our birth-bonding. (Which is to say, it's a good thing I had other people there to do the birth coaching, Renn will not be going into the doula business anytime soon.)

30 entirely excruciating minutes later, I managed to tell my mom that I thought they'd better check me, I was starting to feel pressure, and sure enough, once the nurse checked me she spun into a thinly veiled panic (it was like 10 minutes before a shift change, and I'm sure people were preparing to leave).  I remember hearing her shout "hurry!" into the hallway.  I only pushed 2 or 3 times and his head was out, but unlike every other baby of mine, he didn't proceed to slide out seamlessly.  His shoulders were still stuck, and I had to be begged to push again and get them through.  I have never been so convinced I couldn't do something in my life.  I remember thinking they were going to have to anesthetize me and cut the baby out of my birth canal or something drastic and gory.

Afterward, my mom told me that my last push had completely showered the doctor in amniotic fluid, right as he was probably hoping to be headed home to his own family.  Apparently it was a really funny moment if you weren't the one pushing the baby out.  There were plenty of understated jokes about showering that followed.

I immediately asked my nurse (a new one, remember that shift change?) to get me on some pain meds.  My thought was that if I could get on top of my pain, I wouldn't need as much of the percocet or loratab, and I hate how foggy those make me feel.  The remainder of my hospital stay was a whirlwind of trying to stay on top of pain meds, trying to name our poor baby, and worrying about his bilirubin levels and wondering when they'd let us leave.

He was 24 hours old before he had a name, but as always we managed to name him before leaving the hospital, so at least there is that.

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Since we've been home he's managed to maximize his day-for-night switch, and begun getting them switched back again.  He's a champion feeder, and I'm still curling my toes waiting for it to not feel like he has piranha teeth.   I'm also waiting for my cervix to close and my bladder to firm up so I can entertain thoughts of leaving the house someday.

In the meantime, my mom's surgery went well and I'm anxiously waiting for her to graduate from the ICU.  The timing of all of this was really rotten, so neither of us are able to take care of each other.  Thankfully many of the ladies in my neighborhood and ward have gone out of their way to love on our family right now, even though my older kids are all a little bit feral and difficult to love.  Change is hard when you're in the under-10 set.

But every day we start to feel more like a cohesive family unit again.   The kids all love their new baby brother, (though their interest in him waxes and wanes), and I'm managing to dispense my attention and worry in better, more balanced ways each day.

I am very, very tired, and still very, very sore.  I have had a head cold/sinus infection this entire time and certainly never gotten close to adequate rest.  I remember having a much faster recovery last time (which is to say I felt impaired for a much shorter time), and I wonder whether it's more a matter of subsequent recoveries getting harder or just being older making it harder. Either way, I was hoping to be able to do more by now.  But, as I mentioned, I'm still living in pajamas and trying to find ways around blowing my nose.  I'll try to be kind and patient with myself, and hopefully my body will keep making progress.  

I also promise to whine less in future postings. Thanks for putting up with me.

(Hospital Photos by my cousin Samantha, who also brought a big box of decadent cookies, securing her place in my will.)

2 comments:

...life, the way of the hummingbird said...

I hope it won't be too long before you look back and simply see it as an amazing accomplishment and forget all the pain that clouds the focus on marveling how truly amazing the birth of a child is. i love you, my dear friend.

Shantay Lowell said...

You go mom! You're a rockstar. 5 kids. No epidural. Basically having to deliver twice. No mom on call. You are amazing.

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