After seeing my baby briefly while I was still in surgery. She was taken from me yet again. My husband went with them, I'm not sure where they were headed, I'm sure they told me but I didn't pay much attention. All I wanted to do was hold her in my arms, I suddenly felt so protective of her. It was really hard to lay there and listen to the doctors and staff have casual conversation about trivial things while my baby was in some room and not in my arms where she belonged! Once they were done, they wheeled me over to a temporary recovery room I had to remain on the monitors for an hour. While in recovery my husband came to meet me and said they were getting some blood samples from our baby. After what felt like several lifetimes they finally brought her to me!! My face lit up like a kid on Christmas morning; my gift had finally arrived. The nurse who brought her to me also had a mini bottle of newborn premixed formula in her hand.
She told me that my baby needed to be fed right away because she was shaking due to having low blood sugar which could have been caused by any combination of complications such as the low fluid, the failed induction, the c-section or maybe just because I hadn't eaten in over 24 hours. She told me to try breastfeeding first and tried to help me briefly but then we quickly switched over to the bottle since the baby wasn't able to latch on correctly. My little one also struggled with the bottle at first, but because the nipples on the bottle are more rigid than a real nipple it was easier to push it into her tiny mouth. She was really drowsy at this point as a lot of newborns are so the biggest challenge was keeping her awake. The nurse told me to try to get her to drink at least 10 -15ml of formula which wasn't a lot but she barely managed to drink half that amount.. As soon as I got the nipple in her mouth she would suck on it for half a second and then seem to fall asleep. Once we got her to drink about 5ml or so another nurse said it was okay for now.
I must say that those premixed bottles of formula are so convenient for the newborn stage! I loved them and was glad for all the free samples I got. No mixing, measuring or washing required, they are ready to serve right out of the bottle. (This was before my disechantment with Enfamil which I will be posting about soon)
The 24 hours that followed went by like a blur. My family and in-laws arrived to wish us well and see the baby. She got her first bath and everything seemed to be going well, until the anesthesia started wearing off. Three things became increasingly apparent to me:
- The pain was horrible,
- I was extremely itchy, and
- The compression boots were evil.
I had really horrible pain on one side of my belly. The incision hurt as well (of course) but the pain in my side was excruciatingly unbearable. One of the nurses who ended up being my favorite, told me that even though the doctors might deny it, from her experience this was caused by the retractors that they use to hold open the incision during the surgery. She explained to me that sometimes it will be held too tight on one side and that would cause the type of pain I was describing. As the night wore on the pain got worse and worse. I get shivers just remembering it.
Words cannot describe how awful this part was. The itching was by far worse than the pain! No one ever told me that the spinal anesthesia used in c-sections and epidurals can cause an extreme itchy reaction. Not one single person ever warned me of this and it never came up in any of the research I had done. But once I started complaining about being itchy a nurse calmly told me it was a very common reaction. The itching was UNBEARABLE. Pure agony. I was itchy all over!! Most especially on my back and legs. What made it even worse was that I couldn't really move much to scratch myself due to the pain in my belly. I also couldn't scratch my legs because I still had on the compression boots. The majority of the itching was on my lower back and legs but I had no other choice but to sleep on my back as I wasn't able to lie on my side because of the pain in my belly. Lying on my back for such a long time really restricted the circulation in my back making the itching even worse! One angelic nurse, God bless her, suggested dipping wash cloths in cold water and rubbing it over my back. Of course I couldn't reach my own back, but my husband did this for me every few hours and it felt good while it lasted and really eased the itchy feeling. They had to give me some type of anti-itch medication as well, but it really didn't do much for me at all.
Without a doubt this itchy reaction was the worst part of the whole experience
The compression boots
I wish I had taken a picture of those evil things but this is the best picture I found online.
Oh how I hated them!!! The purpose of these boots is to prevent or lower the risk of deadly blood clots. Moms who deliver by c-section have a much higher risk of developing blood clots in their legs which if not noticed quickly can lead to death. The compression boots are a life saver in that regard. They work similar to the strap of a blood pressure gauge in that air is pumped in and then sucked out of the boots. So they fill up with air and it feels really tight on your legs and then the air is released and it loosens up. It repeats this tightening and releasing constantly which didn't bother me at all in the beginning. The nurse who put the boots on me warned me that some people really hated them, but at that point I didn't have a problem with them. I think I would have tolerated these a lot better if I didn't get the itchy reaction, but these boots combined with the intense itching was just awful.It was really taunting me having the compression boots tighten and relax over my itchy legs. They told me I had to keep these on for at least 24 hours following the surgery and they would only take it off once I was able to walk around.
Between the itching, the pain, the boots and my inability to get up out of the bed plus all the pain meds and anti-itch meds, I was pretty much out of it for the first night. I didn't really feel like I did much in terms of caring for the baby that night. My husband did everything. They kept bringing her to us from the nursery and I would see him walking up and down with her, changing her diaper, trying to feed her, her even put her inside his shirt to try out the skin-to-skin contact we had discussed prior to the birth. He basically did everything I couldn't do, while I lay there helplessly drifting in and out of consciousness. I really wanted to do more to help out but wasn't allowed to get out of bed and could not even keep my eyes open.
By the morning we had survived our first night as parents, although we had much assistance from the nurses. I was so pleased when they brought me a tray of breakfast. It had been over 36 hours since I'd had even seen any food and I was so excited to eat. By lunch time I asked if it was ok to have a chocolate shake and when they said okay I asked my husband to get me one! My parents looked at me in horror as I slurped on my shake, they really wanted me to eat healthy which I understood, but I had been craving this shake for months!!! That evening they finally removed the compression boots, and the evil catheter and I was promised I would be able to get out of bed soon. I was pumped and ready to be on the move again, but was completely unprepared for how difficult it would be. I never realized just how many muscles in my abdomen I used to get up from a lying position to a sitting position and from a sitting position to a standing position. It took a lot of effort to get up with the assistance of the nurse and I couldn't even stand up straight. By the time I walked across the room I was out of breath. They told me I had to try and walk a lot because that would help relieve the painful gas build up in my belly caused by the surgery. I was told that the longer I waited to started walking the harder it would be. So that evening I put on the gown my mom got me and held on to my husband for support as we walked up and down the halls in the maternity ward. By the time we had hit the 24 hours mark (after the surgery) I was walking around with assistance, the itching and pain had subsided to a more manageable level and I was able to focus on my beautiful baby. What an experience!!! As I lay in the hospital bed with my baby in my arms it finally hit me, I was a mommy!!