Tuesday, April 17, 2012

May Gives Birth

Exactly one week ago today, I woke up around 3:30 in the morning with what I assumed were stomach cramps. After pooing and still having them, I then assumed I was having Braxton Hicks contractions (i.e. false labor). That I could actually be in labor was ridiculous to me; I was certain that Henry would be born after his due date (kinda like how I was certain he would be a girl). But after an hour had passed and the pain had increased, not decreased, I decided time how far apart the "cramps" were, just in case.

And they were 5 minutes apart, which put me into holy-shit-I-have-to-pack-and-get-ready-for-the-hospital-NOW mode. I started packing things I'd need/want to have with me in the hospital, woke up Matt and had him call our ride (my friend Darcy), and tried not to let the pain get in the way of getting ready.

Before Darcy had shown up, I started gushing fluids every time I had a contraction, which freaked me out. I kept going into the bathroom to sit on the toilet so I wouldn't leak all over the floor. I had to pad my underpants with paper towels and sit on a regular towel in Darcy's car so I didn't get it all wet.

By the time we got to the hospital it was around 6 am, and I was having trouble walking because now my contractions were 3 minutes apart and they were quite intense. I went to Truman Medical Center's Labor and Delivery area, where I had been the previous week for an incredibly painful procedure where they tried to turn Henry out of the breech position so I could deliver vaginally. (It didn't work.) I was put into a room where the baby and I were put on monitors. They checked to see if Henry was still breech (he was), if my amniotic sack had ruptured (it had - hence the gushing), and if my cervix was dilated (it was - 1 cm).

Then they left me alone for a while as I screamed and ached through my contractions. I had started shaking uncontrollably (which they later told me was due to hormones) and was in a significant amount of pain. When they finally checked my cervix again (it was just around half an hour or so, but it felt like forever) I was dilated 4 inches. They apparently hadn't expected that to happen so quickly, and they had to rush me into the operating room.

There, I sat hunched over on the table, crying, leaking and having horribly painful contractions as the anesthesiologists numbed my lower back, then gave me a spinal injection which numbed me from the armpits down. It was such an incredible relief from the very intense pain! I could feel pressure as they worked to get Henry out via c-section. It hurt a few times as they pushed around on my belly to try and change his position, I guess, but mostly it just felt odd. Matt was there, holding my hand which comforted me.

At one point, the anesthesiologist leaned over and told me that they had everything out but the head. Then I felt as if a HUGE weight was lifted off my belly, and Henry was out! We could hear him whimpering as they cleaned, weighed and measured him. Matt got to go over and hold him, and he brought him over to my head so I could see him as they worked on putting me back together.

As I said before Henry was 4 lbs, 4 oz. He was very small (though he was considered term at 38 weeks) and had to go into the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Over the next few days I recovered in the hospital. NICU nurses would bring Henry in to breastfeed, and a few times I went to see him, when I was feeling well enough. I was pumping in addition to feeding him since he wasn't eating much, and we had to feed him breastmilk with a bottle part of the time because it was easier for him to eat that way.

My hormones were going crazy and I spent a fair amount of time crying and being miserable about not being able to have my baby with me all the time (also about a serious heat rash I had). At certain points I felt completely enraged at the NICU nurses when they would come take him away from him when he was done eating. Matt came to visit me often, sleeping over with me most days so I wouldn't be alone. Having him near helped me feel better, of course.

Friday of last week I was discharged; it was emotionally wringing to leave Henry behind. I've been back to visit and breastfeed every day, and I'm pumping every 3 hours so he has breastmilk to eat when I'm not there. After a few scares with his temperature dropping and him needing a nasal-gastric tube to feed him a few times, I'm happy to report that Henry is doing much better.

He's almost back to his birth weight after the weight loss that's typical for babies post-birth. And today, he graduated to a crib from an isolette where his temperature was being regulated.

Assuming that he keeps eating well and can maintain his body temperature without help, he could be home by the end of the week! I can't wait to have him full time. Our apartment feels so empty right now.

I'm still physically recovering from the birth as well. My uterus has been contracting which makes me bleed & have cramps. It would probably feel way worse than having a period, but since I'm on pain meds for the c-section, I can't really tell. I just know it doesn't feel great. On the plus side, my tits are BANGING right now. HUGE and full of milk. (Fake tits finally make sense to me now that I've experienced natural tits that feel the way they feel). I've been producing milk like crazy and I'm glad NICU lent me an electric breast pump cause it would take forever to pump one boob at a time with the handpump Truman gave me (along with a diaper bag, baby clothes, and many other awesome, useful baby things).

In related news, I started a new 365 self-portrait project with Henry. Check out what I've done so far:


Donna said...

He's so TINY! I hope he can come home soon.

Dan said...

Congratulations. You've been creative for so long, and now you've created a boy who will create much change in the world. It's wonderful.

Byron said...

You did it May!

Super Dave said...

So glad all is going ok and hope it stays that way.

You are going to be an awesome M
om and Matt a awesome Dad as well.

stefany said...

D'aww I've been reduced to incoherent babbling by the photos. Congrats, and hope all the painful stuff goes away pronto.