We are happy to announce the arrival of our peanut into this world - A healthy boy, born February 18th at 5:52 am via cesarean. I am finishing this blog post almost 6 weeks postpartum, (FYI I started this post at 1 week PP and it's basically taken me this long just to get this one post up) - Life of a new parent.
There's too much information out there on pregnancy and parenthood. At the end of the day, you'll never be prepared for it all - It's simply impossible. My best advice is to gather all the information you need in order to make you feel as "comfortable" as possible and stay as fluid as possible during the entire pregnancy / new parenthood process. The best thing we did was sign up for a Baby Prep course, led by an amazing nurse named Kathleen and she ran down the A to Z's on childbirth and pregnancy. She covered all topics from poop, breastfeeding, birth, depression, labor (and more). But even with the course, nothing can prepare you for the 4th trimester (the 3 months after pregnancy). It is the hardest and the most challenging trimester of them all.
I was booked for a c-section for a Friday however, the little one had other plans. We went to the hospital on a Wednesday at 4 pm when the contractions started - No dilation. I decided to head home, to "work through it" and see if they would subside. I don't know what I was thinking at the time, but I should have gone back to the hospital much earlier than I did. By the time we decided to return to the hospital my contractions worsened and I went from 0 to 100 in a flash...SO FREAKIN' PAINFUL. My deep breathing techniques turned into more like hyperventilation and I probably broke all the fingers in my husband's hand from squeezing so hard. I was ushered into surgery approximately 4 am. Now that I can reflect back, here are a few things that threw me off guard from this entire experience:
1. The St. Paul's parkade entrances closing at 8 pm - We delivered at St. Paul's (and the maternity team there was spectacular) however, we must have missed the memo on the parking scenario. We rushed back to the hospital, parked downstairs only to find out that the entrances close after 8 pm. (Now remember I'm in active labor so every second wasted was TORTURE). We had to jump back into the car, find street parking, enter via the "emergency" doors. A kind nurse wheeled us to the maternity ward, which was the furthest point on the other end of the building from the emergency entrance. What probably took 5 minutes felt like an hour to get us there.
2. The cesarean - Even though I watched a video and was described in detail what happens during a cesarean, I was still SCARED SHITLESS. My legs were trembling as they rolled me in, I am sure I had a glazed over look in my eyes.... I've never had to go under the knife for anything and it was all new to me. The entire procedure from set-up to finish took about 45 minutes, 15 of those minutes is what it takes for them to set up. Both my husband and I felt the same way, the birth of our baby felt very anti-climatic. I was having such a difficult time, my husband could only focus on me and couldn't exactly enjoy the birth of our son.
So, about that c-section:
- The spinal was the easiest part. I was dreading the idea of having a needle go into my back but really, with everything else that was going on...this became the least of my worries. It's actually the best thing EVER. The contractions all of a sudden vanish, POOF!
- My reaction to the spinal - It made me nauseous and I threw up. I also shook uncontrollably. I couldn't stop, my teeth were chattering, the inside of my cheeks were raw from my teeth clamping onto them from the chatter. I felt like I was in a deep freezer and there was nothing I can do. All I can remember was telling my husband, "talk to me, don't leave my side, talk to me".
- The pressure over the abdomen - Once the incision is made and they are ready to get the baby out, they place their hands over your abdomen and give it a great big PUSH. The pressure was jarring and it took me by surprise (even though they did warn me). I think I may have missed this part in my baby class, because I do not recall this piece of information.
- 2 hour recovery - I had some real mixed emotions about this. Once you are all stitched up, they roll you to a room for recovery and they send baby off with your partner. Good news, you get to rest / sleep for 2 hours, they warm you up with a nice heater and blankets and put these things on your legs to help massage the numbness out. Bad news, you are away from your baby for 2 hours and you can't leave until you show signs of being able to wiggle your toes. The waiting got me fairly anxious because not being able to move from the chest down is a pretty crazy awful feeling. Truth be told, I had many bad thoughts of not being able to move my legs ever again.
3. Breastfeeding - Otherwise known as "sucking the life out of mom". It's hard work, it sucks (excuse the pun) and it's exhausting. It takes a toll on both parents; while one is constantly feeding, the other has to pick up the slack in the household (on top of everything else). The first day / night in the hospital, our son slept like a baby, by the second night I experienced my first taste of "cluster feeding". I was up from 11 pm to 5 am, feeding on the hour, (basically on demand). I was a zombie and I cried while feeding my son. It's a very lonely experience. Take mental note - You don't have a lot of time in between feeds. If you are feeding your newborn every 2 to 3 hours, let's say 1 am, 4 am, then 7 am etc - Here's what it looks like:
1 am - Start to feed off one breast, for about 20 to 25 min.
1:25 am - Burp, cuddles, and then feed off the other breast for the same amount of time.
2 to 2:30 am - More burping, maybe a diaper change and maybe even a onesie change because he'll most likely spit up on himself, plus more attention to the baby because he will be fussy as you try to get him back to sleep. This entire process after feeding can take up to another hour or more! (Super frustrating).
3 to 3:30 am - Now try to take in under an hour nap and get back at it for the 4 am feed. Rinse and repeat.
This is the part that breaks most new moms and it definitely broke me. I had many nights of crying alone in the dark while breastfeeding - The sleep deprivation was a mind fuck. My hormones were going crazy and the "baby blues" were in full swing.
I'm so fortunate to have a husband that works from home with a fairly flexible schedule who is able to support me through these tough periods. I would not have made it past the first 2 weeks alive. I'm also super grateful to my family and friends who have taken the time out to visit, help around the house and dropping off food. (FYI, never never EVER turn down an offer of food)!
6 weeks into being a new mom and it's the toughest and hardest job I've experienced to date but one that is so rewarding. All it takes is one smile, one giggle, one coo and one stare into his eyes and it makes up for all the lost sleep and the demanding breastfeeding schedule. To ALL parents out there, you are doing a GREAT job and hang in there! #HEARTMELTING