~ December 24, 2002
I hope you all don't mind me continuing to write beyond my pregnancy. It's funny because here I was writing week by week, anticipating writing so much about my labor and delivery and once that all happened, my life seemed like a whirlwind and I had a hard time getting myself to sit down and write anything. And once I did, I found that I'd forgotten to tell you normal little details like how big our baby was (7 lbs. 11 oz., 19 1/2 inches). In fact, when I sent our baby announcement, I even wrote the weight wrong (and my 10 year old daughter had to point it out to me!)
I'm not sure if there is enough written about post-partum life. You see books upon books and many new magazines about pregnancy, but they say very little about the post-partum mom and skip right to taking care of the newborn. Granted, I need those tips with the newborn each time, but I'm also grasping for support and information about my changing body. I remember being shocked after my first daughter was born to see all the stuff my body had to go through after the birth. I'd always thought that the labor and the delivery was the climax. Wrong!
And throughout this pregnancy, I found myself almost fantasizing about those first post-partum days and nights. I'd imagine the quiet in the hospital and getting to sleep on my stomach AGAIN. I remembered the power and command that I felt when I was able to do such a feat as walk into the bathroom by myself. I liked the mystical feeling of waking up throughout the night in the hospital and even the fun of surfing channels on cable to see what in the world was on at 3:30 in the morning. I liked taking that first shower in the hospital with their new little bottles of shampoo and finally feeling so clean. I loved the ritual that first week of using the little cleansing bottle and the Tucks.
So after James was born, I was anticipating all these wonderful memories to repeat themselves and it just wasn't what I remembered it to be. That first night in the hospital was not all that comfortable. Yes, it was quiet (no midnight labor hollering from down the hall), but I hardly slept and didn't get to be on my stomach much at all. James just didn't want to sleep in his clear bassinet. Every time I put him in there, he'd wake up and cry. So I kept him in bed with me, which made me sleep lightly. Also, the nurse wanted to do a hearing test on him (which he had to be asleep for) so he'd just get to sleep, I'd buzz the nurse, she'd carry him away and he'd wake up. That repeated itself a few times throughout the night until I just had her do the hearing test while I held him sleeping in my arms. He did sleep through it (and passed it), but woke up right afterwards.
So the next day in the hospital, I was a zombie. My mom brought in my youngest daughter after getting the rest of the children to school and I could hardly see straight. I was just so tired. I did get some good naps that day though.
As for that fun of getting to go to the bathroom? I chuckle as I write because the first nurse wouldn't let me get up and go -- she wanted the catheter to stay on my through the night or something. I kept asking to have it taken out so I could get up and walk to the bathroom (just felt like I needed to be able to sleep better) and she told me that I wouldn't be able to walk yet because of the epidural. I could feel every inch of my legs and move them quite well a few hours after delivery (and remembered going into the bathroom that soon after other epidurals), but she assured me that I wouldn't be able to. When she was about to get off her shift at 11:00 (about 3 hours after delivery), I asked again (as she changed the bedding) and she commented that I was able to move myself up and out of her way pretty well, but still wouldn't let me and would ask the next nurse what she thought. So I waited about 1/2 hour, thinking I'd make sure that last nurse was gone, then buzzed the next nurse and asked to have the catheter taken out. She didn't think I should yet, but asked me to try to move my legs and I must have looked like an octopus flying them up in the air in every direction to demonstrate my keen ability :). She was convinced and I finally got my first trip to the bathroom. Wasn't as blissful as I'd remembered, but it was a start!
Besides napping that next day in the hospital, I also had fun seeing the rest of my kids come in to meet their new baby brother and got to see a few friends. I was a little stunned by how little bladder control I had whenever I stood up. I was worried that I'd finally discovered the toll of my body having so many children.
And I didn't get to surf channels either because they couldn't find the remote to my TV. Pretty ironic, huh? Oh well. It was more peaceful that way.
They did move me into a post-partum room for the second night there and it had a remote (phew!) But for some reason, I never thought to take a shower earlier that day and once moved to the other room that didn't have a shower, I just decided to postpone getting that clean feeling until I went home. I think my favorite thing about being in the hospital though (and I'm sure I'd fantasize about this if I were ever to have another baby) was getting all the ice water and juice that I could ever dream of. They had this cherry cider that was sooooo yummy that I requested it with every meal and in between. And I drank more water than I probably lost in delivery. My nurse that came each day while there commented at the end that I drink more water than any patient she's ever had. I'm guessing that's a good thing? It sure felt like what I needed at the time.
Once home, it was great to have my mom make us Thanksgiving dinner and help my dh keep the family together. All of my children have accepted our sweet baby James with loving arms. They are so willing to hold him night and day that I am able to get much more done at home now that my body allows it. My bleeding has slowed down much quicker this time than I remember before, but that bladder control I mentioned before gave me quite a scare. It wasn't anything dangerous, just frightening that I'd never be able to go out into public again unless I invested in some adult diapers or something. Not my preferred life at all! So I started doing Kegels like crazy (didn't seem to be doing an ounce of good for the first several days), but it was my only hope, so I continued on (as my dh and mom kept going out and buying me more maxi pads -- not my dh's preferred life either :)). And by about the second week, I saw improvement. In fact, I'll be a month post-partum tomorrow and my body is feeling quite energetic and able to do most everything I was able to do before. I feel like I need more sleep, which is to be expected with James eating throughout the night, but I feel good and I know this time will pass. My fitness level is lower, of course, but I'm starting out slowly there, doing some yoga right now, and it feels wonderful.
As for James, he's just a dream! He eats around the clock, has gained a few pounds as of yesterday, and seems to be enjoying us with his newfound coos and smiles. Tomorrow is Christmas all my pre-Christmas planning really paid off. We've been able to relax and enjoy this holiday season and are anticipating our Christmas day tomorrow as a double celebration as James turns one month old! Where did the time go???