Surviving The First Few Weeks With Your New Baby
It feels like it was just yesterday that we were bringing our son home from the hospital. I've taken a few trips down memory lane in recent days as I look back on all the fun and amazing changes that we have had as a family over the last year. Our son arrived eleven days earlier than my official due date (thank goodness, my body was starting to not be able to take any more of the pregnancy!) I was scheduled for an induction at 39 weeks, and he came four days prior to that date.
Towards the end of my pregnancy, my blood pressure started to get high. I mean, how could it not have? Just look at how under pressure I was!
I know I know, this picture is just wrong. This is what my legs and feet would look like when I rolled out of bed in the morning. They would become progressively worse throughout the day. I spend a good amount of my day at work on my feet, and it was becoming quite difficult to get around. I tried all of the tips that were offered - compression socks, drinking water, feet up, salt-free food - nothing worked. I was going to be swollen and there was nothing I could do about it. This lasted for five full weeks. Thanks, son!
Five days before my induction date, I woke up and it seemed like I was starting to show signs of going into labor. Since I have never been through this before, I was unsure of what was happening. All of my friends who have had children were certain that my baby was coming. My water broke at about 5 pm. There is no mistaking a water break (I now know this, but the week prior, I visited the hospital thinking that it might have happened already). I called my husband, and he had a freak-out moment knowing that it was go-time. He got home as quickly as possible, and we left for the hospital about an hour later.
We let both our parents and siblings know. My sisters and parents were about to go into a Cubs game. We knew we had a long road ahead of us, so we suggested that everyone come by the hospital the following morning. We knew it was going to be a while before our son's arrival.
The contractions started to slow down by 1 am, so it was Pitocin time. Two hours later, I woke up in a tremendous amount of pain. The pain was about an 8 on the pain scale. It was epidural time.
Ohhhhhhh the epidural. What a magical invention. I cannot believe I was actually nervous to receive the epidural. The needle was now the LEAST of my worries! After I had the wonder drug, the next several hours were a cake walk.
It was estimated that the baby would arrive at around 2 pm due to how I was progressing. Our family (about 10 people in total) arrived to the waiting room at around 8 am. Almost 12 hours later, our son made his debut! Things took a lot longer than expected, but those of you who have been through this know that the baby will come when he or she is ready.
The pushing experience was 2.5 hours long, and no amount of chapstick applications or water consumption would have helped with my extreme dehydration. Also, fyi, I hear so many women say that since they had an epidural, they did not feel anything while pushing. I am here to tell you that is not always the case. I could feel many things, and none of them were simply "pressure". I thought that I was about to split into two during my pushing experience, but I guess the miracle of birth is just going to be different for everyone! I'm also pretty sure my husband was geared up to experience everything from the sidelines. Boy was he surprised when the one nurse in the room told him to grab a leg! Front row Joe - lucky guy!
Right before our baby arrived, hubby did one of the most important tasks at the moment - he ordered me dinner before the kitchen at the hospital closed. Thank goodness because almost immediately after our son was born, I needed/wanted to eat! Our hospital had the best food, and you could order as much as you wanted. I was all about the six-course meals. For this reason alone, I do not understand why anyone would want to have a home birth. Hello!!! You are missing out on others cooking for you! Hospitals rock.
Our son was born 27 hours after my water broke. I got to hold him for the first few minutes, then he was brought over to the baby clean-up station. Our family, who had been in the waiting room for an extremely long period of time, came in to meet him soon after he was back in my arms. They left soon after, and it was time for us to move from labor and delivery to the recovery center. This is when things got ugly.
In the grand scheme of things, I cannot complain about my experience. But I was about the enter into the most painful part of the entire "having a baby" event. As I was being wheeled over to the recovery center, more and more pain started to creep up on me. It started to feel like my bottom half had exploded. And as it turns out, it did! But the doctors did not notice until the following morning.
At our hospital, the baby will usually stay in your room with you. I was in zero condition to care for our baby at this point. I was now a nine on the pain scale. It was truly unbearable. One gem of a nurse came over to tell me that she didn't understand where the pain was coming from, and that I was only marked as having a first degree laceration. I clearly needed a few more lacerations to gain any sympathy or help. She let me know that the Motrin should be kicking in soon. Motrin?! Excuse me, come again? Last time I checked, I was in a HOSPITAL! One that surely has a pharmacy. Please go dig into your vault of meds and bring me back something stronger! I was clearly not screaming loud enough at these people to convey to them that I felt inches away from death.
After finally receiving stronger meds, I fell asleep. I woke up four hours later pain free. The doctor came in to check on me, and it was at that moment they realized the damage that I sustained during birth that no one noticed after I delivered. They finally acknowledged that my pain must have been legitimate.
The rest of the stay at the hospital was lovely. By day two, it was time to go home. While I was in the hospital, I posted the standard Welcome To The World, Son! post on social media. Look how great I looked moments after he was born! That was so easy!
Just kidding. That was the next day, after a shower. This was the real deal:
We packed up our things, tucked baby boy into his fancy new car seat, and away we went. The entire drive home, we could not believe we had a baby in the back seat. We got home in the evening, and when we arrived, our house was filled with flowers, baby gifts, and food that would last us weeks. There were so many people supporting us on this journey. It was a wonderful feeling.
Going to sleep on day one with a newborn in the house was terrifying. Night time in general is not the most appealing time of day for most, and having a tiny human in my care amplified any fears that I've ever had. When the sun came up the next day, I remember thinking "We Made It!!" Our son was alive, and so were we!
I don't recall being too sleep deprived during those first few weeks, but I surely was. I was breastfeeding, which is extremely demanding on a new mom. We had many visitors in the first week after being home. I am big fan of visitors - I loved having people over to see the baby. By week two, everything started to catch up with me. I woke up one night with a 103F fever. Convinced I was dying, I called the on-call doctor in a panic. He said something about mastitis, and told me to take a Motrin. Grrrrrr Motrin. I woke up like this:
Coming down with mastitis was a reality check for me. I was definitely not taking care of myself. I was not getting enough sleep, and I was not eating all that great either. I was 100% focused on the baby. I also ended up losing 40 lbs in 10 days. Now, a lot of that weight was from the water I was storing in my legs. But things only improved after the dreaded mastitis experience.
It is true what people say - every day becomes easier. You become more and more used to the new addition to your family. Every milestone your baby achieves is so exciting because of the fact that your baby was once 100% dependent on you. One year later, our son is now only 99% dependent on us. It's amazing!
When we were in the hospital, I remember many staff members coming in to see us. Doctor, after doctor, after nurse, after doctor. One of the people also trying to get into our room was the hospital photographer. We turned her away four times before she was able to come in and get a few shots. I was pretty convinced that hospital photography was not necessary. I let her take the pictures, then forgot about them. A month after our son was born, I realized I never received a link to our photos. I reached out to the company to see what was going on. After a few days of searching for our pictures, the company found the link and sent them over. I forked over my credit card the second I saw the pics. I mean, how could I go on through life without these?! Each photo took me back to those first few days with our son. He was such a tiny peanut!
So, this was all one year ago. My oh my time has flown by. We had his first birthday party over this past weekend - which was a party for him AND us. We had made it through all this new and unfamiliar territory. I don't want to say "we made it through the hardest part", because those of you with older children might not agree at all with that statement. But we now officially have year one on the books!