The best day of my life

I sort of fell out of the blogosphere for a while there (sorry!) so for those who don’t follow me on social media, we gave birth to a healthy baby girl in October, just a couple days before her due date. I’m nearly three months into motherhood and I’ve been meaning to write this post about my child birth experience for a while. It may be a bit scattered as so much happened in such a short time frame.

Our baby was breech (head up rather than the usual head down position) so we were scheduled for a c-section. The day before, we took our dog to her favourite dog park and then dropped her off at my parents for a few days. We went for dinner that evening at our favourite restaurant. The one where we had our wedding reception and where we often celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and other life events.

Final bump photo (39 weeks + 5 days)!
Selfie before my c-section

The birth

Jesse and I woke up early the next morning and went to the hospital for something like 6:45am. After a short wait, a nurse took us into the triage area where they asked me a zillion questions and prepped me for surgery. Everyone wanted us to guess the gender but we told them we had no clue. The obstetrician did a quick ultrasound to double check if baby was still breech but I was certain it was since I could feel its head jammed into my ribs.

They took me into the operating room, which was freezing cold, but Jesse had to wait outside while they gave me the spinal block. My midwife was with me which was comforting. The needle wasn’t bad since they numbed the area first. They repeatedly asked me if I could move my feet. Yes, yes, still yes. Meanwhile a nurse was putting a catheter in and while it didn’t hurt, I could still feel something (sorry TMI, I know). I guess I jumped a bit and my midwife, a bit shocked, asked if I felt that. Yes, and I can still move my feet.

The anesthetist gave me another spinal block stating “Better too much than not enough!” After that I could not feel anything from my ribs down. My legs were totally and utterly useless.

My midwife had given me advice to let the anesthetist know if I wasn’t feeling well because there were anti-nausea medications he could give me. I’m glad she said this because I likely would have suffered silently but instead I did mention this to him a couple times and he was able to help. He also warned me up with some hot blankets and even a tube blowing warm air into my blanket pile.

Jesse was brought into the room for the surgery. I tried not to listen to what the medical team were doing – I didn’t want to hear an “Oh no!” or “That’s strange.” It was all a bit odd feeling. While I wasn’t in any pain, I could still feel the pressure of what was happening. I had been warned about this so it wasn’t too bad, however, my arms were straight out to the side for the surgery and for some reason my shoulders started cramping up and made me very uncomfortable.

After about 10 or 15 minutes, the doctor announced we had a baby girl. He lifted her up so we could see her face over the curtain and then turned her around and said, “Here’s her bum!” It was an amazing and hilarious moment.

The moment I met my baby
Dad and baby R in the recovery room

Jesse got whisked off with her to cut the cord and weigh her. They quickly brought her back wrapped in a thick blanket so we could meet. He brought her right up to my face and gave me little kisses (she was rooting but I’m going with kisses). I am so so so glad that my midwife offered to take a photo of us. It is my favourite photo of such a raw, beautiful, amazing moment. After a few minutes, they were sent to the recovery room to keep warm while I was stitched up.

Having to wait for the surgery to finish while my baby was waiting for me next door just seemed cruel. I was so impatient! Plus I really wanted off the uncomfortable operating table.

After they finally finished (maybe 30 minutes?), the nurses had to get me on a stretcher, roll me to the recovery room, and lift me into my bed. I felt so useless as most of my body was dead weight. It was the strangest feeling.

As they moved me around, I saw a canister of blood and whatnot that had been sucked out of me during the surgery. It was actually in plain sight but I hadn’t noticed it because I was looking at Jesse the whole time. It looked like a lot but I guess that is normal!

Once in the recovery room, R was given to me and I was able to feed her right away. She looked hungry and latched on right away. The midwife said, “Well you won’t have any problems feeding!” or something to that effect. I was so relieved.

We stayed there for about an hour just mesmerized by this adorable little creature that was ours now.

Well at least dad's getting some sleep ...
Me as a baby (left) compared to R (right) ... so no I wasn't surprised she had lots of hair!

The hospital stay

We were moved into our room where we would stay for the next 48 hours. It’s all a bit of a blur already so here are some of my thoughts, experiences, and observations.

Our parents came for a quick visit right away to meet their grand baby, the first for both sets. They came back later that day and the next day as well. They just couldn’t get enough! Jesse’s brother and his girlfriend visited that night and a couple of my friends stopped by the next day.

Breakfast was delivered and I was so hungry since I had not eaten since about 8pm the night before. I asked the nurse if I could eat it. She said it’s probably not a good idea because a lot of people feel nauseous after surgery but that I could try to eat the apricots and see how it went. No sooner had I swallowed a bite of apricot than it came up again. I randomly puked one more time that day with no warning signs or even feeling nauseous – I barely had time to tell Jesse to get a bucket.

I tried to nap that day but I’d just barely drift off then suddenly wake up again repeatedly. Jesse didn’t seem to have a problem though! I had difficultly sleeping that night too which is very uncharacteristic for me.

By the evening, feeling had returned to my legs and my catheter was taken out. A nurse got me out of bed and I was able to stand up and move around a bit.

I think right after the surgery I was given some stronger medications but was soon only taking Tylenol and Advil religiously. It doesn’t seem like much considering I had just been cut open!

At first I was instructed to feed my baby every 3 hours. When they weighed her, they found she had lost 8% of her weight which is still within a normal range but they were a bit concerned. The paediatrician gave me the choice of supplementing with formula or feeding every 1.5 hours for the next day. I chose the latter. If she lost any more weight, they might keep us there another day. She gained a little so we were discharged on schedule.

They say that babies should poop once in the first 24 hours. Well R exceeded expectations! Jesse did all the diaper changes while we were in the hospital since getting in and out of bed was difficult for me.

We were discharged on the Thursday around noon and were excited to sleep in our own bed that night.

While I waited in the lobby for Jesse to get the car, a lady, seeing our newborn, initiated conversation with me. Apparently babies are huge signs that say, “Hey stranger, please talk to me.”

I don’t remember much of that day other than my mom dropped off food for us and my brother came for a visit.

New mom dreams

When I was in high school, I got my first job as a cashier at Safeway. I worked a lot of the closing shifts (I guess on weekends or during the summer) until midnight.

I’d often have work dreams and I’d wake sitting up in bed feeling around for bags of groceries. I’d realize what was happening, lie back down, and fall asleep again.

Fifteen years later I’m a new mom.

I’ve heard how a lot of parents choose to co-sleep with babies and wondered how people don’t accidentally smother their babies in their sleep or how they get any sleep worrying about that. Some parents love it and some parents don’t have another option if they want to sleep.

R has slept in her crib since we brought her home from the hospital. At first I slept in the nursery with her and then transitioned back to sleeping back in my own bed with Jesse and our dog Hadley.

We have co-slept on only a few occasions in the spare bedroom when she just won’t fall asleep. It has a really firm mattress and I always make sure that there are no pillows or blankets near her.

And yet I still have dreams that I’ve fallen asleep with her in our king bed with Jesse and Hadley and a massive, poofy duvet. I wake up fumbling around trying to find her in the tangle of mass of bed sheets. I have to look at our baby monitor to assure myself she’s not lost in our bed somewhere and is in fact sound asleep in her crib.

l woke up this morning and checked the baby monitor. That’s weird, R was way up at the top of her crib. I always put her to bed right in the middle and she doesn’t move much other than the occasional 90 degree rotation. Then it all came flooding back to me …

I don’t know where I was on the asleep/awake spectrum but I had the usual dream, fumbled around in my bed looking for R, but this time I found her. I took her back to her room but there she was in her crib too!? I unquestioningly accept that I have two babies now and they both need to sleep safely in this crib.

I move the real R to the top of her crib so I can put the other one’s head at the bottom of the crib so they are sleeping feet to feet. This way they won’t smother each other with their sleep sacks. I go to put the other R in her crib … but where did she go?

At this point I must have fully woken up, realized what was happening, and went back to bed.

Is this hilarious or concerning???

Some good news

[Wednesday, August 2]

My morning task was to apply for EI. While on bed rest, I am eligible for sickness leave until baby arrives at which point it will switch to maternity leave. I’m so thankful to still get the full year leave to spend with baby.

The online application was not too painful and hopefully they will process it quickly and without problem although I’ve heard this is not always the case.

In the afternoon, I went to my much anticipated appointment with Maternal Fetal Medicine. The appointment involved an ultrasound with a technician as well as a doctor. Under normal circumstances ultrasounds are only performed with a technician and the results are sent to your doctor or midwife.

They took me in for my appointment early and it was really quick. While the technician took measurements of baby, I chatted with the doctor. He did not seem too concerned with my cervix being 1.6 cm and said that it’s on the longer side of what would get referred to them. He also said that it’s possible I could make it to full term, which is 36 or 37 weeks.

Then even better news came … my cervix still measured 1.6 cm! He described it as “stable” which is really good. He did still want me to come back next week (31 weeks) for another ultrasound but that would be it. After 32 weeks they no longer do ultrasounds for cervix length because they are not as concerned if baby arrives.

The technician apologized for not having a photo for me but she said baby was head down position and resting its face in my placenta so it wasn’t being very photogenic.

Since they had taken me in early for my appointment, Jesse arrived from school just as we were finishing up. I told him the good news and we were walking on clouds the rest of the day. I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.