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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Emmeline's Birth Story

I want desperately to make this a sweet, touching story filled with humor and unique only to Emmeline, but I hate to say that it was very familiar experience. Apparently, one scheduled c-section is very much like any other scheduled c-section.  Though the doctor was different, the hospital and all of the procedures were the same. Even the rooms were only a couple numbers apart, and even the times were similar, though not identical: Carys was scheduled at 8:45 and born at 9:16, and Emmeline was scheduled at 9:15 and born at 9:41.

Oh, and fair warning: this is a birth story, so there may be blood and guts.  Double fair warning: this is terribly written and completely disjointed. It was written in 30 second increments over a few days and I don't have the energy to go back and edit. Sorrynotsorry.

Ever since I realized I was due on 12/17, we thought it would awesome to have her born on 12/12 if we could. We were married on 10/10 and Carys was born on 7/7, so OF COURSE we had to follow tradition and go for the double date. If we ever have a third kid, the pressure is ON.  Both the kid and the hospital cooperated: she didn't come on her own early, and we were able to schedule it for 12/12. (If you think this goes against my hippie parenting philosophy, you're right - but with a c-section you generally schedule it right around 39 weeks, so this was actually giving her a couple extra days to bake than what I would normally have been allowed.) (If you're new and wondering why I had a c-section instead of a VBAC, the short answer is that I can't, as my cervix is permanently sewn shut.)

The morning of the 12th, we dropped Carys off at daycare around 7:30 and then went straight from there to the hospital. We thought it would be best for her to have a normal day (since her world was about to be rocked), and it also saved us from having to beg family to watch her for the entire day. Once we arrived at the hospital, we were promptly escorted to the prep/recovery room. Our assigned nurse was wonderful: one of those blunt, very funny, sarcastic women. She ended up knowing several people we knew as well - small world.  They got me set up with the compression socks, IVs, and we filled out a bunch of paperwork.  It was all very deja vu.

This time, unlike last, my mom wasn't in town, so she couldn't sneak in for a hug before I went off to surgery, but I kept in constant contact with her beforehand via text and phone calls and Chris texting her pictures.  I'll be honest: it was really hard not having her there. But I know how lucky I am that she was able to come the next day. I hope she has the gift of eternal life so she can always be there.

They gave me some disgusting shot of some liquid that tasted like fermented SweetTarts, the purpose of which I don't remember at all, but I remember how awful it was. Chris "luckily" was able to snap a picture at the exact moment my face involuntarily contorted into disgust. This was new - I didn't have to do that last time.

My MFM doctor, Dr. Lovegren, and the anesthesiologist both came in to go over last minute details and see if we had any questions and to go over the game plan.  In a truly wonderful and divine stroke of luck, they were able to get me the same anesthesiologist that I had last time.  Wonderful because with both my cerclage surgery, which was under general anesthesia, and with Caleb, which was an epidural, I did not have good reactions to the drugs. Both times I was incredibly nauseated and got the shakes and chills like nothing else. With Carys, the anesthesiologist had taken the time to talk to me about my previous drug experiences and adjusted the dosages and drugs that were in my spinal, and it was perfect - absolutely zero side effects. He was able to pull my records from Carys and use that same combination of drugs this time with the same lack of side effects, so YAY DOCTOR DAG, I LOVE YOU. For future reference, the magic combo is adding Zofran and leaving out the morphine.  I did find out, however, that the morphine is what keeps you pain free for the first 24 hours after the c-section, so they had to manage my pain a bit differently, especially when you consider that for the first day after my c-section they still considered me allergic to ibuprofen.  But we got that changed. Long boring story, which (lucky you!) you'll hear later.

This time, they wheeled me into the surgery suite this time. Last time they made me walk and wheel my own IV. Barbarians!

They set me up with the spinal once I arrived. Note how Chris is getting artsy with his surgery shots. Classy.

This looks like a selfie, but I assure you it is not.

Dr. Dag was wonderful during the surgery, cracking jokes and keeping us informed about what was happening. I remember him talking about homemade cannolis and ravioli, which was pretty cruel since I hadn't eaten in 12 hours. I think I invited myself to his house for dinner.

Last time I missed them breaking my water (Chris said he heard it), so I tried to listen for it this time, but I missed it again. I definitely felt more of the tugging/pulling/pressure this time around, but it wasn't painful.  There was a period of time when I felt a lot of pressure on my chest but it passed quickly.  In fact, the whole thing once again went really quickly.

Then suddenly, the room was filled with newborn baby cries. My baby was here.

As he pulled her out, Dr. Lovegren exclaimed how big she was. "You gave birth to a kindergartner!" was an exact quote.

(It's kind of weird how it's all bloody and busy on the left side of the curtain and all zen and happy on the right side of the curtain in the below pic.)

Several nurses and the doctor commented on the size of her umbilical cord. Apparently it was huge and thick. I don't know. Is that a thing?

Chris is so fly at this dad thing that he took this picture AND cut the cord at the same time.

Dr. Dag also took some family shots for us once they passed her off to Chris.

Obviously, when they brought her to me, I thought she was perfect.

Once I was all stitched up, they wheeled me back to the recovery room, where I got to hold her for the first time. I tried to get her to latch on and nurse a bit, but she was so upset (?) that she wouldn't - she'd just continue to cry (which totally freaked me out that she'd never nurse).  I also noticed that she had a little point on one of her ears - our little Christmas elf baby!

She failed her first blood sugar test, so since she wouldn't nurse at the moment, they had to give her a bottle of that damned sugar formula, just like Carys. And just like Carys I HATE that she had to have that, but Chris loved getting to feed her first and spend a bit of time with her.  Also like Carys, she gulped that shit down in record time. Apparently I birth hungry girls.  Oh, she also had like the world's biggest "baby's first poop." SO GLAD I WAS INCAPACITATED FOR THAT ONE.

I called my mom with the latest update - I was so zoned into baby mode that I'd completely forgotten, so Chris had to remind me.

After an hour in the recovery room, we were assigned a post-partum room where we'd spend the next few days.

Chris had to document that it was 12:12pm on 12/12 when we got moved to the new room.

Since I hadn't had the morphine and since I was allergic to ibuprofen, they decided to try just Percocet every four hours for the pain, and got me started on that. I also got some ice chips to snack on - I was completely ravenous.  Around then is when they also started the OMG KILL ME NOW uterus checks that were the most painful part of the entire damn process. This is when the press on your stomach - hard - to make sure that your uterus is shrinking down like it's supposed to do. IT HURTS. A lot. Like tear-inducing. I'd completely forgotten about that part of recovery.

During all this (and despite the painful checks), I fell madly in love with my new baby. Fine. OUR new baby. I guess I can share her with everyone else.

They also checked the baby's blood sugar again, and luckily she passed the second draw, as well as all other draws, so she didn't need another bottle.  We were able to get her to latch pretty quickly after arriving in the post-partum room, though she seemed pretty puzzled by the whole thing.

My dad was sick, my mom, sister, and godmother were out of town, and everyone else was at work, so our visitors the first day were few and far between (unlike with Carys, when we had literally probably two dozen people the first day). My mother-in-law was one of the ones who was able to make it.

It didn't take that long before I was able to eat, so I got a salad that was the best salad I'd ever had in my life. That's probably just the hunger talking. But it was good enough that I got the same salad several more times during my stay, so that's saying....something? I'm not sure if it says something about the lack of choices or about the quality of the food, though.

In the early evening, things got a bit hectic, as my sister Jenna brought Carys up from daycare, my sister-in-law Andrea arrived to take Carys home for the night and spend the night at our house with her, and my friend Wendy arrived (with her little boy Chase in tow) to take pictures of Carys meeting her baby sister for the first time.  I really wanted Carys's first meeting to be quiet and zen, so I asked both sisters to stay back a bit so that Carys could focus on the baby for a few minutes.  I'll do a separate post just on their meeting, but she alternately was fascinated and wanted nothing to do with her (though two weeks later, she completely adores her).

Also in that span of time and to make it even crazier, the pediatrician arrived to check Emmy out and the nurses arrived to give her first bath.

We ordered Carys dinner from the hospital every night - she loved getting a special tray and picking out what she wanted to eat. The first night, she ordered pancakes.

She was really uncertain about everything at first, but after she'd gotten to play with Chase a bit and get used to the new surroundings, she warmed up to both me (laying in the hospital bed covered with wires isn't how she usually sees me so she was being shy) and to the baby.

Andrea took Carys home to spend the night at our house (we wanted to keep as much consistency as possible, hence going to daycare and spending the night at her own house), and everyone else eventually took off as well. The first night was pretty good - she actually gave us a couple four-hour blocks of sleep. These took place with her on my chest, since she wouldn't let me lay her down at all. Like even for a moment. The girl likes to be held and cuddled. Who can blame her?

They had me standing up about 12 hours after the surgery and walking to the bathroom a bit after that. Much like the first time, the binder was immensely helpful in supporting my ab muscles and keeping the pain manageable. It definitely hurt a lot though - I just kept telling myself that it'd get better each time I got up (and it did).  The binder was again my life-saver, though.

The next morning, Andrea took Carys to swim class and kept her at home to play with her for a bit while Chris hung out with us at the hospital. Probably counting down the minutes until he could get home to shower.

Both sets of great-grandparents came to visit the second day, though I somehow missed getting a picture of Emmy and my maternal grandparents, argh.

And wonderfulness of wonderfulness, my mom made it into town. It was SUCH a relief to see her; I'd missed her so much the last 24 hours.  She helped me take a shower (did NOT want Chris to witness the that trainwreck) and I felt like a new person afterward. I accidentally caught a glimpse of the incision thanks to a mirror placed directly across from the shower (terrible design, hospital!) and was actually shocked at how good it looked. They just used glue to shut it, and it looked so much cleaner than when closed with staples or stitches.

One of the first things my mom said was that she looked just like me when I was a baby. She brought up a picture of me from when I was born to compare (me on the left, Emmy on the right):

I'm going to award ten points to Gryffindor for that comparison. I'd say it's apt.

In the late afternoon, Chris went to go relieve Andrea of childcare duty and brought Carys back to the hospital again to visit. That set the tone for most of the days: someone watched her during the day while Chris was with me, he went to get her and bring her up to the hospital around dinnertime, she ate dinner with us, then went home with Chris.

That night, I walked around with Carys a bit and at one point ran after her and picked her up. I don't recommend doing that 24 hours after major surgery. Just FYI. In case you're as dumb as I am and forget that your abdomen just got sliced open and glued shut. She ate mac and cheese for dinner and then Chris took her home for the night, leaving me alone with the baby for a bit. My sister Kimberly was coming home from being out of town and was supposed to come up to spend the night with me so I wouldn't be alone all night, but she wasn't able to get there until around 11pm. It was a little lonely and kind of hard, since I still couldn't get out of bed super easily, but I survived until she arrived. I warned the nurse I'd be alone and would probably be calling her more often than usual and I'm sure I was irritating.

That evening before Kimberly got there, the pain started to get to the point where it wasn't managed by the percocet anymore. My file said I was allergic to ibuprofen, because when I was in my teens I feel on some ice and messed up my knee, and when they gave me the 800mg horse pills of ibuprofen I broke out in a rash.  However, I was always able to take the regular dosage for headaches and it'd been suggested that it was probably a reaction to the casing of the pills rather than the ibuprofen itself.  So the nurse called the doctor on call to talk about options, and the jerkface doctor said he didn't want to give me ibuprofen and there weren't any other options at the moment.

However, later that night I was looking back at the pictures from Carys's birth, and noticed that on my information board it listed that I was taking both ibuprofen and percocet. So I talked to the night nurse (my FAVORITE nurse that whole stay, and not just because she got me drugs) who called my actual doctor at home - at one in the morning, bless both their hearts - and he said to give it a shot. So to address the immediate pain, they gave me a one-time dose of something in my IV (I think it was IV tylenol in a high dose), which worked immediately and awesomely, and then started me on the motrin every eight hours. They watched me closely for the first couple hours to make sure I wasn't going to have a reaction, and when I didn't, my doctor agreed to remove the allergy flag from my profile. And from that point on, I was pretty pain-free. And officially no longer allergic to anything!

As planned, Kimberly arrived a little after 11:00 pm. I was so glad to see her - I'd been getting really lonely. For some reason, Emmline wasn't much of a talker.

Kimberly's arrival also marked the arrival of the fancy dry erase board decorations. It only took her an hour to perfect it.

You can see it in a few of the pictures, but at birth she had a fairly prominent ridge across the middle of her head - the skull plates were overlapping (you can see it probably best in the GIF above). I noticed right away, but no one said anything about it and I assumed that it was just from sitting on my pubic bone for so long in utero. On the third day, I noticed that in addition to the ridge, she didn't seem to have a soft spot at all. That...well, that totally freaked me out. When the pediatrician came back to check her again, I mentioned it to him. He initially said that it was just because of the overlapping plates and that they'd eventually spread out and her soft spot would appear.  However, about thirty minutes after he left, he called the room and said after thinking about it more he wanted a specialist to come look at it. CUE FREAKOUT. The specialist was able to get to our room quickly and took her away to the nursery to examine her more closely, so I don't know exactly what he was looking at, but I know he took a bunch of measurements.  They brought her back after a bit, but it took him much longer to come give us the results. CUE CONTINUED FREAKOUT. I was convinced that if it was nothing, he would have come in immediately and said so.  After about ten hours thirty minutes (felt like 10 hours) he came back in and said that he understood the concern but he concurred with our pediatrician - that they'd spread apart and that it was nothing to be concerned about.  We are watching the growth of her head closely to make sure that the plates are indeed spreading and allowing for growth, so hopefully that's all that needs to be done.
Second babies apparently don't get the insane influx of visitors that first babies do (or maybe the fact that it was winter and about two degrees outside meant that no one wanted to venture out), so visitors continued to be sparse, but my godmother/aunt and her husband came up - bearing fresh fruit, which was a surprisingly welcome gift, as I didn't even know I wanted an orange until I saw them and ate three of them in a row.

My brother and his girlfriend also FINALLY visited on the third day. Terrible uncle.  You're on notice, Jared. Twyla, you're still cool.

My sister stayed with me the next two nights, and I stayed the last night on my own. So if you're doing the math, that does mean we ended up staying in the hospital the full four nights again, as we did with Carys. This time it was because we were scheduled to get new carpet in the entire house on Monday (the 16th), so I'd either have to A) go home, than pack up and go to my mom's the next morning with a newborn and all the accouterments of a newborn, or B) just leave the hospital on Monday and go straight to my mom's house for the day, without a temporary stop at home. We decided that going straight to my mom's house would be easiest - plus, Carys would be at daycare that day, so it would be nice to have a block of time to adjust to being alone with Emmeline without having to care for Carys as well.  It was REALLY hard being away from Carys for that long, but it was tempered by the fact that I got to see her for a few hours every day, plus she really enjoyed the time with Chris and her Nana (Nana and Kimberly took her to go pick out a Christmas tree and she didn't stop talking about it for days!).

Emmeline's bilirubin test came back with levels higher than the cut-off, so on the second-to-last day the nurse mentioned that they were going to have her on a bili blanket at home and that a home health nurse would be by to talk to us and get us set up.  I was actually a little frustrated by this, because it was the first I'd heard of it, and because the pediatrician had JUST told me that the levels would probably peak around day 4 or 5 and then go down, so a bili blanket wouldn't be necessary, as her levels were only at a 14.2 (they like to see them under 14, so she was just a hair high).  Because of this, we had to schedule the home health nurse to come visit the night we got home, which further complicated going home.

Despite our best efforts, going-home-day ended up being a little bit of a clusterfuck.  When they started the carpet, Chris thought it looked like it was going to go quickly and decided it'd just be easier to wait until they got done and then go home instead of going to my mom's.  However, it didn't work out that way and by late afternoon they weren't done and the nurses were subtly telling me to GTFO.  We figured that they'd be done any minute, so we decided to stick with the plan of going home instead of to my mom's.  He came to get me and we rushed home, since he'd left the workers there and he was worried there was no one there to answer any questions they had.

Well, they ended up being there until the evening, so they were still working for several hours after I'd arrived home. Because of the fumes and the fact that half the house had no flooring, I had to camp out in the bedroom - which had also just been freshly carpeted, so that wasn't ideal, but it was the best option we had. We opened the windows and turned on the fan. Then, while they were still working, my mom, sister, and dad came by to bring Carys home from daycare. And my aunt and uncle stopped by to bring us dinner. And the home health nurse came by with the bili blanket and instructions. It was a complete and total madhouse.

She ended up being on the bili blanket for just two and a half days, but those were rough days - being attached to a giant rubber cord with limited movement makes for a difficult time in caring for your kid. And a really difficult time sleeping, for both of you.  It was such a huge relief to hear on the third day that we could take it off of her and have a wireless baby again. Some people have them for weeks; I cannot imagine the frustration they must feel.

So we had a bit of a hectic start, but we survived. 

The end. 

Sorry for the sucky story.  If you read the whole thing, go get yourself a cookie, and before judging me too harshly remember that it's mostly written so I remember what happened down the road and also that I haven't slept more than two hours in a row in two weeks and that I have a toddler with me during the day so I can't nap because she doesn't nap. I'm tired, guys. Forgive me.