After the epidural, I felt amazing but had the shakes for about two hours. I had a fever of 102 yet was freezing for what seemed like an eternity right after the initial shakes, gradually progressing to being in a total sweatfest I was so warm. My only (pathetically) consolation was that because of the way baby D was situated inside of me, his heart rate dropped every time I would lie on my right side, which left me to only lying on my left side, facing the monitors and away from where Mr. D was seated so he couldn’t see me crying. I had been on oxygen for about the last half of my labor, staring intently at the two monitors, one measuring my contractions’ intensity and the second displaying the sad correlation it had to my little guy’s heartbeat—dropping after every contraction. The nurses had asked me if I took Castor oil (I didn’t, I’m no fool) because of how intense and rapidly progressing my contractions were in the last few hours. With a broken heart (and a very fragile emotional state), I was wheeled into the first surgery of my life.
The surgeons saturated my body with more epidural, and I could no longer feel anything below my ribcage. The anesthesiologist was talking with me, ensuring that I couldn’t feel anything and telling me to let me know if it was too intense and he would just put me under. I remember saying “ow” a few times as I felt like someone had grabbed my midsection and was just pulling and jerking me around. At some time, Mr. D (decked out in scrubs, so all I could see were his eyes) approached the side of my head and reassured me by saying something (what he said I cannot remember for the life of me) and before I knew it, he was gone. I didn’t hear any crying and immediately started grilling the anesthesiologist—was my baby out yet? (yes)…Why wasn’t he crying (He didn’t know)…Was my husband with him? (Yes)… What were they doing to me now? (stitching me up)….and I remember babbling to him and not really knowing what I was saying. Not that it mattered, since he probably just tuned me out. I saw my little boy briefly, wet with dark hair (or so I thought) with a little cone head from being (I assume) in my birth canal for so long, poor thing. He did not look good, and literally within seconds he was whisked away from me, with Mr. D assuring that he would stay with him (which we had thankfully already discussed). So, left to myself, I was content to stare at the bright lights and listen numbly to the two male surgeons having a conversation about work scheduling conflicts while they sewed me up. I was wheeled back back into my room and there was not much I remember except feeling exhausted and really upset that I did not have my little boy in my arms. They then took me to a new room where I would be for the rest of the week and I remember crying a lot because I knew something was wrong with him and no one could/would tell me what.
Even looking over those words, I am completely upset and in tears. That night was so miserable and I remember wondering what on earth I could have done to prevent what had happened to my son. I was told he was in the NICU and I would not be able to see him. I felt so guilty and mad and sad and then the next thing I knew (around 1am), a nurse came in with my little man swaddled in blankets and told me my angel Doctor M had given special permission for me to have baby D in my room for a few minutes so that I could see him. Of course, I was overjoyed and completely overcome with gratitude. The nurse even let me hold him for a half an hour, even though she said I could only hold him 15 minutes. I felt so lucky. He was beautiful. I couldn’t believe I had made something so perfect. Here’s a little something Drew wrote about the whole experience:
“The lady teaching the prenatal class told us that at least one of the three steps (pregnancy, birth, & post-birth) would be difficult. From Mr. D's point of view it seemed like the Mrs'. pregnancy wasn't easy, but it went pretty well. The birth on the other hand...not so easy. Baby D's heart rate kept dropping then going back to fairly normal throughout her labor so he was under a lot of stress, Mrs. D had a fever of 102, Baby D was face up (the doctor said that would make pushing last about an extra 2 hours and Baby D wouldn't have been able to handle that), Baby D pooped in the womb before coming out (a.k.a. meconium), Baby D wasn't breathing when he came out so they had to intensely rub his back and give him a gas mask type thing to pump air through his lungs, and Baby D had no use of his muscles when he was first born so he was like a limp noodle. Other than that everything went well. Baby D slowly, but surely recovered and became a "normal", healthy baby.”
The rest of the week started out absolutely horrible: getting up for the first time out of bed to see my son in the NICU only to vomit about four times in a row the small amount of saltines and water I had been able to stomach that day, attempting breastfeeding when I could barely pump three drops of colostrum and baby D had been on formula for the first day of his life…. I kept making my son cry because he was so hungry, which in turn would make me cry and seriously doubt if I had it in me to even attempt to be a competent mother. What had I done wrong to deserve this?? My birth plan coming in was literally three things: 1) Get my epidural ASAP, 2) Deliver a healthy baby by any means possible, and 3) Breastfeed and bond with my baby boy ASAP. That was it! Was that really asking too much? I really hit rock bottom in a way I have never felt in my life. It was devastating. But I pressed on, knowing that if I kept going I could only move forward and things could only get better. (One of the worst parts about the week? My feet and ankles were so swollen from fluid retention that I could barely walk on them!)
I was right. Soon I could walk whole pushing a wheelchair, then walk on my own (at a snail’s pace of course), and start eating even though I had no appetite, everything I did was entirely motivated by thoughts of my Baby D, with Mr. D as my rock and support (with quite a bit of help from mom and Bananas of course). On Friday I shouted silent hallelujahs as my milk came in, I was taken off the IV’s and I was able to confidently feed my little boy at last. I went home late Friday night, and Baby D followed suit the next night and came home with us.
A rough first time hospital experience, but the result was completely worth it: I have my little boy. And today he had his one week checkup and he weighs 8 pounds 1 ounce! Only about 3 pounds less than his two month old second cousin. Ever since I came back form the hospital, I have been so unbelievably, blissfully happy. Baby D is COMPLETELY worth every pound I gained, every pain I had, every trial that accompanied my labor. He is our little miracle baby.