Thursday, December 10, 2009
Childbirth Education II
…..I am being wheeled into my labor room. I can see Scott and he’s holding a bundle of blankets in his arms,
“Is that my baby?”
“Yes, want to hold her?”
I just nod. He hands me this little creature wrapped in hospital issue baby blankets. She is sleeping, and she’s beautiful. Her face has perfect little eyes, a perfect little nose, and a perfect little rosebud mouth. And she’s mine. She has an indentation on the top of her head where her poor little skull was mashed against my body for hours and hours. Scott snaps pictures of us. He tells me that he didn’t stay in the operating theatre during our operation, watching his wife get cut open wasn’t his idea of fun. Turns out Emma had her back against mine through labor, which explains my back pain. She was also crooked and her head was cranked back, which makes sense because when I would contract my belly had odd an shaped lump at an angle, rather than a smooth oval of a back. The cord was wrapped around her neck three times. We didn’t know this because it had happened in between my last ultrasound and the birth. She was never going to descend. Dr. Rachel probably wouldn’t have called a c-section as early as I did, because she was being very respectful of my birth plans. When she came to see us later that day she walked in the room held out her hands and said,
“God’s providence.” We would have ended up in the theatre anyway, and probably under much more dire circumstances. This way I took the brunt of the trauma, and although our little girl was purple when she came out, she came out yelling. I would rather be the one with the healing to do.
I spent the rest of the morning in and out of sleep with my baby on my chest. The rest of our time in the hospital was a comedy of errors in communicating with the nurses and trying to figure out what our new little creature needed. Apparently she just needed to sleep, and that she did. I tried to feed her, and I think that I successfully did in those first few days, against my own anxiety and nervousness at ‘doing it right.’ Periodically nurses would come in throughout our stay and ask if I was breastfeeding, but would not offer advice. When one finally did I was so annoyed I just turned her down. Nurses and doctors would tell me to feed her every two hours, my friends who were parents all confirmed that children don’t really eat at all in the first few days. This seems to be a constant, the medical profession tells you what science says, while your friends and family tell you what really happens.
We spent our time ducking nurses with pans of medication, that they never explained unless I asked, trying to get them to leave our baby with us, they kept wanting to ‘warm her up’ (put her under a heating lamp, my child is not a greasy hamburger), bathe her, and ‘top her up’ with formula. We let them top her up once, she spit it all up, that’s my girl. The desire to give the baby formula so early in her life really doesn’t make sense to me at all, I’m not even producing milk yet. If the baby is only eating colostrum why does she need fake milk?
The nurses never seemed to show up when you needed them and always when you didn’t. So our new little baby kept us up all night, as new little babies are wont to do, and we are finally sleeping at 6am, this is when they choose to take my blood pressure or bring me hot chocolate. I would pretend to sleep and Scott would scare them off. On the first day in the hospital a few hours after I was out of surgery I was by myself, I think the nurses were bathing Emma while Scott watched and I realized that I needed to pee. I want to remind you here of my propensity to read everything during pregnancy, this comes from a deep vein of anxiety within my being, a desire to know absolutely everything so that I am not caught with my proverbial pants down. I didn’t read the section on c-sections, because I wasn’t going to have one of those. I may have given it a cursory glance, but did I commit it to memory? No. I don’t even think there was a part about c-sections in a few of my books. They make you believe that c-sections only happen to women who aren’t in control of their labors, to women who have not read their books, to women who will just let the medical establishment just do whatever they will to you. I am not one of those women, but I ended up with a c-section. So now what am I supposed to think? I hadn’t read the part in ‘What to Expect’ when it tells you to get a nurse to help you get out of the bed after your c-section. So I sat up, swung my feet over the side of bed, stood, swooned, and immediately sat back down on the couch across from my bed. Now in this hospital when you have gynecological surgery they give you a thick pad that looks like it was made in the fifties for women in the military, tell you place it between your legs with no underwear or anything to secure it to your body, and then ask you to perform feats of acrobatics such as hefting yourself from a wheelchair into a bed. Trying doing this without separating your knees, I dare you. So at this point I had removed said 1950s military issue pad, because I was going to the bathroom, and would take care of myself. Upon realizing that wooziness would not allow me and that I was firmly attached to an IV, I sat and thought about what to do. I managed to hit the nurse button, a nurse arrived, I pointed out that I was attached to an IV and needed to go the bathroom and that I would need a new change of sheets and robe because the aforementioned pad was no longer doing it’s job. She told me I could wheel the IV into the bathroom and hurriedly left and I continued to sit on the couch in this state of woozy frustration for the next twenty minutes or so. I grew tired of waiting and wheeled the IV into the bathroom and fixed myself. Apparently all of this you are not supposed to do right after a c-section. I seem to have recovered okay and am doing ever progressively better despite my ignorance and sometimes direct defiance of medical advice. Maybe ignorance isn’t terrible?
Ah well despite all these hiccups we got out of jail free and early. Took our baby home and spent the next few weeks in our sweltering apartment juggling our child, having friends visit, and taking small quick excursions outside the home. Until we took the ultimate excursion and traveled the 24 hours (two eight hour flights, and one six hour layover) from Nairobi to Chicago. Some parents we talked to were shocked that we were going to do that with our baby at such an early age, others were excited for us stating that will the perfect time to travel because all they do is sleep. Again another place where ignorance is bliss, we booked the tickets before Emma was born and were going to go whether I had stitches or not.