Monday, November 12, 2007

The birth story

In brief: I had a C-section and got a healthy baby as a result. Such good fortune is hard to grasp in an instant.

The long, long version (written mainly for myself to support my memory):

On the eve of Linnea's birth, I wrote a post describing how I felt about being on the brink of parenthood. Afterwards, my husband and I spent a fairly relaxed evening together. I munched away on all kinds of food until the strike of twelve, after that I was not supposed to eat or drink anything because I would turn into an evil Gremlin needed to have an empty stomach for the surgery.
Knowing the C-section was scheduled in the afternoon and that I would be ravenously hungry by 6 in the morning, I prepared some home-made chocolate milk and decided I could drink that if I woke in the night. Mmmm! (Of course I woke!)

Come next morning we got ourselves ready at a leisurely pace and drove to the hospital. After checking in we went up to the maternity ward, where the midwives were expecting us. Because the ward was more or less full, we were ushered into a delivery room for the final preparations. These involved a hospital gown, an IV-drip, a razor blade, a lavage and one husband shuffling uneasily in his seat as he witnessed the application of all of the above. It crossed my mind to send him outside in an attempt to maintain some sense of dignity, but I reckoned this was only the beginning and I preferred having some company.

Then we were left to ourselves to wait. I brought along some books for just such an eventuality and I thoroughly enjoyed 'Babywatching' by Desmond Morris (an animal behaviorist's view on babies and parents, down to earth and enlightening).

Suddenly, it was time to roll - quite literally for me - as I was wheeled to the surgery wing bed and all. My husband wasn't allowed to follow me in right away, a pity because I could have used his support while they stuck in the epidural. I should say, stuck, stuck, stuck in the epidural because it took 3 tries. The first two times the anaesthesiologist hit the bone, not painful but it makes a creepy scraping sound. That didn't help my anxiety level any, and by the third try I was starting to feel panic rise. The nurse let me squeeze her hand while the anaesthesiologist explained that all was normal, my padding just made it harder to feel where exactly to stick the needle. Not his fault, nor mine, he added. Well, at least that comment distracted me.

After that episode, I was wheeled into the recovery room for observation while I waited for the surgery. My blood pressure took a dive, which is rather common with epidurals, leaving me feeling rather groggy and anxious. The nurses were kind, administering drugs and reassurance.

I don't know how much time passed, but before long I was wheeled to an OR and moved to the operating table. I remember lying there, splayed on the table with my arms strapped down (did they think I was going to try and intervene?), feeling pretty helpless. Things didn't improve when the hospital gown was drawn up over a rod to form a curtain, shielding the actual surgery from my field of vision (except for the reflection of it in the lamp above of course). That left me feeling very exposed to the doctor, assistant, anaestesiologist, nurses, and of course my husband in the room. I'm sure I was covered in sterile drapes for the most part. Thing is, I couldn't feel that anymore.

Ob/gyn: "Can you feel that?"
Me: "No"
Ob/gyn: "Excellent! I was just giving you some nasty pinches. Now we can proceed."

The first few minutes, nothing seemed to happen. Then the pulling sensation started. Knowing you're being cut open, while feeling no pain but sensing some of the motions is bizarre. Luckily, I was forewarned through reading personal accounts of it on the net. I don't remember the book on C-sections I read mentioning it.
At first, the pulling was rather gentle, but as the great moment drew nearer, it got rather more intense. This coincided with the ob/gyn exclaiming "the baby has turned it's head sideways!". I gather Linnea wasn't keen on coming out so soon.
At some point the assistant leaned heavily on my abdomen - after fair warning - to persuade her to come out.

Then, rather suddenly, something blue-greyish, covered in a white creamy substance and with a mop of bloody hair on top was held over the curtain. What a shock!

Ob/gyn: "Congratulations! You have a daughter."

With those words the little being was whisked away to an area in the room out of my view, with my husband following in tow. This left me with a feeling I can only describe as unreal. Did anything life-altering just happen here? I don't feel any different, I can't see anything different. Then Linnea gave a little wail, causing my ears to perk (I can actually perk them), but without reality sinking in much deeper.

As far as I can remember, they showed me the baby once again, swaddled in a blanket, and then left with her to the maternity ward, closely guarded by my husband.

Sowing me back up took about 40 minutes, though it didn't feel that long to me. Afterwards, I was moved back to the recovery ward for a while. The nurses asked how it had gone, boy or girl, and congratulated me, but none of this made it feel any more real. What did feel real was my grumbling stomach. Of course they don't hand out snacks in recovery.

After what seemed ages, I was finally moved up to the maternity ward, back to the delivery room where my husband was enjoying his first cuddle with our little girl. He promptly handed her over to me. As I held Linnea for the first time, reality finally started to sink in. And a sense of contentment came over me that wouldn't leave for the next three days. Maybe it was the anaesthetic, but I doubt it.

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

What I do all day

I'm still here, just can't manage to make it to the computer. Breastfeeding is kicking my butt. My milk hasn't come in as it should and demand outstrips supply by far. Linnea is getting supplement formula, because her health comes first of course. A midwife is coming nearly every day to check up on us and give guidance on breastfeeding.
My days are chopped up in three hour blocks: first let Linnea breastfeed, then give her supplement formula by way of finger feeding, next pump for extra stimulation. On my own, that takes about an hour and a half, leaving me another hour and a half to sleep, or eat, or shower, or log on to the internet. That, and it's hard to type while gazing at that lovely little face.

On this note, I guess I am now officially a mommy blogger. Amazing.

IF survivor's guilt is now setting in, a fitting sentiment, though utterly useless at the same time. This is the time for me to nod goodbye to some of you in silence. If only my wishes would make a difference.
I want to thank each and every one of you for your support over the last years, it has made a world of difference.