Sadie’s Birth Story: Part 3
(So, it is now Week Five, but I started this post in Week Four, so…hence the mention of Week Four. Carry on.)
Here we are in Week Four, in which the little pigeon is starting to notice some of her toys and is suffering through her mother’s new pastime of singing her show tunes.
We like “Pinball Wizard,” but are not sold on “Sixteen Going On Seventeen.”
The past few days have been a little bit challenging – she seems to only be happy during the day when she’s being held, but as soon as she’s laid down in her crib, she’ll wake from the deepest of sleeps and SCREEEEEAM until my heart breaks cleanly in half and I go scoop her up and comfort her. Right now she’s in her bouncer – a situation that always, ALWAYS ends up in her pooping up the front of her diaper – and I think I should have at least a good 20 minutes to add to this entry.
So, we left off with the baby officially out into the world, and me losing whatever shreds of modesty I had left as the midwives and nurses fussed around the brewster while I stared at this incredible little person I’d waited so long to meet.
The baby that Twizzlers built.
Months before the birth, I’d decided to donate the cord blood, a decision which apparently required me to fill out an ASSTON of paperwork that was supposed to be mailed to my house. Well, no one ever mailed it, so guess who got to fill out pages upon pages of donation paperwork instead of holding her newborn? Eh, whatever. I was trying not to be too annoyed by it in the spirit of the donation and all, but then a nurse I’d never seen before showed up at my elbow with a needle and five vials. “We need to send some of your blood along with the donation,” she said, then proceeded to jab my arm about 400 times while saying things like “I can SEE the vein, I just can’t seem to puncture it!” Hilarious!
Internet, I don’t think I’ve ever shared how much I HATE having my blood taken. I don’t cry or gag or pass out or anything, but the whole experience makes my skin crawl clear off my body. And although I had just passed an ENTIRE HUMAN BEING through my ladyparts, I was seriously close to backing out of the donation because of the constant POKE POKE PROD of the needle. I just kept staring across the room at Sadie, and pretty soon the whole ordeal was over (or so I thought. Ugh.).
After my turn as a human corkboard, I got my first go at breastfeeding. Now, while I was pregnant, breastfeeding was one of those things I 1) was not expecting to work out, based on the number of non-success stories I’d heard from friends and family, and 2) was kind of freaked out by, because I really couldn’t imagine sustaining a little person’s life with my funbags alone. But before I knew what was happening, the nurses had Sadie latched on and going to town. “Make sure you wake her up every 2 to 3 hours to feed,” said one nurse. A few minutes later, a different nurse came in to help out. “Don’t ever wake a sleeping baby,” she said. “When she’s hungry, she’ll wake up and let you know.” Ah, the comforting, completely conflicting advice of experts! (The best part was that Nurse Wake-Her-Up was still in the room when Nurse Let-Her-Sleep said that to me, and she gave her a look that could have set her hair on fire every 2 to 3 hours.)
After nearly two hours of the post-birth rigamarole, we were finally cleared to move to our postpartum room upstairs. The nurse helped me out of bed and into a wheelchair (one of my legs was regaining feeling and strength quite nicely; the other one was about as steady as an overcooked noodle), the baby was placed in my lap, and off we went. I remember feeling distinctly woozy as we traveled through the bright hallways. Wasn’t it just a few hours ago I paced through here, pregnant as hell? And now, here I was – my body was mine again, and I had a real, live baby in my arms. WEIRD.
A nurse named Shirley (who ended up being one of our very favorites from the whole experience) got us settled in postpartum room 3706. “Go ahead and order some dinner and then I’ll come back to show you how to do a sponge bath. Do you know how to give a sponge bath?” she asked me. And, being the selfless, natural-born mother that I am, thought she meant a sponge bath for ME, and I told her I could handle it. “No,” she said, “I mean for the baby.“
After that thoroughly embarrassing exchange, Shirley left, and Brad & Mother of the Year over here ordered dinner. As I mentioned before, the most remarkable thing about this meal was definitely not the food, but the fact that I had absolutely ZERO heartburn or indigestion after inhaling it. I was starting to really love not being pregnant anymore.
We called Shirley in after dinner, and she showed us the magical world of sponge-bathing, during which Sadie screamed bloody murder. Afterwards (it was nearly midnight), Shirley left us to get some rest, but not without these lovely parting words: “You might wake up to hear the baby gagging for the next day or so. She has some mucus and maternal blood in her lungs that she needs to cough up. It can sometimes be hard for her to clear it, so she might start choking. If she begins to turn blue, just pull the emergency cord and we’ll all rush in to help. Good night!”
Well, I can’t think of a better bedtime story, can you?
With paranoia piled on top of adrenalin, we somehow managed to get a bit of sleep. Sure enough, Sadie did gag a few times during the night, and I immediately called Shirley in each time to make sure she wasn’t choking. Shirley came in with a smile every time to clean Sadie up and ease our minds. At one point, she gave me a Percoset. Did I mention how much I loved Shirley?
Unlike her parents, Sadie was one alert little peanut that night. Every time I jolted awake – convinced that the silence filling the room meant something awful – I’d look over at Sadie’s bassinet and see her bright eyes looking right back at me.
In sum: BEST SLEEPLESS NIGHT EVER.
Early the next morning, Brad got up and went back to the house for a shower and some breakfast. I ordered some food from the cafeteria (bring it on, hospital food! Tums are for suckas!) and offered Sadie some boob. To my complete amazement, she took it again like a pro. (Of course, that would be the last time I’d be able to get her to eat until 2 AM THE NEXT FUCKING MORNING, but at the time I was pretty jazzed.)
The day was a blur of family & friends and A SHOWER (hot glorious damn, a shower!), and a non-cafeteria dinner lovingly fetched by my husband – topped off with one of the vanilla milkshakes that had been a definite high point of my pregnancy.
I also had the wonderful surprise of a visit from my fancy, smarty-pants friend A, who is a real, live doctor herself. She had actually been on rotations in the hospital where I gave birth until the previous week, but was now working just up the street so she dropped by at the end of her shift. While she was there, the phone rang, and it was none other than the stabby cord blood nurse who was calling to inform me that – OOPSIE – my blood samples were “short,” and she’d be coming by later to take MORE blood.
I hung up and told A what the call was all about. “Your sample was short? That sounds like code for ‘We screwed up and mislabeled or lost your first sample.’ ” Seeing as how A knows the ins and outs of the hospital system, I agreed with her and was full of righteous anger. “Tell them no!” she said. “Just because they’re hospital staff doesn’t mean you have to do what they say!” And for a moment I wanted to tell Nurse Stabs-a-Lot to go shove her needle up her ass, but then I felt bad about possibly negating my whole donation, and decided to go for YET ANOTHER series of holes in my arm. OH, WOE is me, the great martyr of the postpartum floor. See? I had this motherhood/martyrdom/guilt thing down by Day Two.
Pretty soon it was evening, and after a late night visit from my mother, Brad and I were left all alone in our quiet room with our day-old baby. Brad got out his laptop and read me some of the responses to the mass emails we’d sent out announcing Sadie’s birth, and the enthusiasm and good wishes we received brought us both to tears. And as if that wasn’t enough to send me into a hormonally charged weepfest, he then downloaded a song that seemed to be written just for our little girl. We held each other and swayed to the music, with Sadie cradled in between us.
Sadie, Sadie, Sadie you’re my world.
The combination of the song, the emails, and the amazing little person we’d spent the last 24 hours getting to know sent us both into a fit of happy tears. Of course, it was at precisely this moment that a nurse came in for one of the endless “I need to check your vitals” visits, and she found us clinging to each other in the corner of the room, weeping. I’m kind of surprised she didn’t send in a therapist.
The second night in the hospital was a little less restful than the first, because – as I mentioned earlier – Sadie had refused to breastfeed since 10am that morning. Each time I tried, she got extremely pissed and shook her little head at my boob, as if to say “AW HAAAYYLL NO,” and I was convinced this was the beginning of the end of my short journey into breastfeeding. I was determined to keep trying, though – at least until the morning. Then finally, at 2am, after 20 minutes of sucking on my pinky finger, she latched on and that was that. I have no idea what made her suddenly so eager to breastfeed (maybe just extreme hunger?), but that evening I was spelling relief “B-O-O-B-I-E-S.”
The next morning, we got ready to go home – something that I thought I was happy about. We packed up our bags, shoving in every hospital-provided baby accessory that wasn’t nailed down (as numerous mommy blogs had advised me to do), and ordered our last mediocre hospital breakfast. After a few final formalities (including two 15-minute videos I had to watch about Shaken Baby Syndrome and SIDS – WEEEE!), we were released and ready to go home. As I walked out of Room 3706, I realized that I hadn’t been out of that tiny square space in over 24 hours. The hallway lights seemed extra bright, and I felt almost like I couldn’t take in everything there was to see around me.
How do you think I feel, lady?!
We took the elevator to the lobby, and walked through the very same hallway we used to walk through every time we came to the hospital for each of my prenatal visits. The memories of each visit started flashing through my head: the first time we heard her swishing heartbeat on the doppler; the amazement of the 7-week ultrasound, when her heart was just a few flickering pixels on the screen; the time only a few days prior when I waddled through at 41 weeks pregnant. And now we were at the end of one road and the beginning of another. Sadie was no longer a mysteriously shifting bump in my belly. She was our beautiful, wide-eyed girl with her Daddy’s ears and her Mama’s feet, and she was ready to be welcomed into the big, wide world outside of tiny postpartum room 3706.
AS IF I needed to tell you, all of these thoughts sent me into a massive fit of weeping. Brad caught a glimpse of my crumbling face as we headed into the parking lot. “What’s wrong?!” he said. “I DON’T WANT HER TO GROW UP,” I cried. As much as I had wanted her OUT OUT OUT a mere three days earlier, now I wanted to capture and re-live the past 48 hours without ever having to release her into the real world, where she might get her arm or her heart or her spirit broken. And I knew that once the hormones settled down I’d stop crying – but that this feeling would never really leave me. Not now. Not after I had seen and fallen in love with that face.
So there you have it: from water breaking to heart breaking. It’s crazy to think that one year ago she didn’t exist at all, and now here she is, with both of us completely wrapped around her tiny finger.
And now back to our regularly scheduled (intermittent) posting! Tomorrow is the visit to work, where I will struggle not to scream “FUCK THIS PLACE!” as I contemplate my big return on May 29. Granted, it’s just a one-day-a-week gig until July, but still. How will I ever get through nine hours a day without kissing that adorable face?
I have no earthly idea.
Entry filed under: Thanksgiving.