We’ve made it through our first week as a family of five, and I feel marginally human again.
Bean’s birth was my third c-section, and from the moment I checked into the hospital last week, I realized that much has changed since I had my last child. Prior to this pregnancy, I experienced two very clinical births, after which both my boys were whisked away to the nursery for hours on end. I remember asking my husband repeatedly to find our baby, because both boys were constantly taken away for tests, shots, monitoring and check-ups. In retrospect, those experiences were far more stressful than they needed to be, but the hospitals in our area had not yet embraced the value in post-birth bonding and supportive breastfeeding policies.
I was thrilled to learn that this would not be the case for Bean’s birth. Barring complications, Bean would remain with us in the operating room, and then stay with me continuously in post-op recovery (now in a comfortable and baby-friendly L&D room, rather than a tiny post-op holding room). She would only go to the nursery for a bath when we were ready. All assessments and examinations would be done in the room, with us there, and only when absolutely necessary. I felt a huge rush of relief when I heard this; I truly believe that having a baby, only to have it unnecessarily whisked away in seconds and then kept away for hours, is a horrible kind of trauma for a mother. C-sections are already difficult enough, without the added stress of being helpless and separated from your child. From the moment she was born however, Bean was always close by, and my husband never left her side:
The only bad part of Bean’s birth experience was the surgery itself. During the operation, I was in pain…a lot of pain. I could feel a lot more of what was happening than I should have. Rather than visiting with my husband or cracking jokes with the nurses (like I did during Bear’s birth), I kept a death-grip on my husband’s hand and clenched my teeth to keep from screaming at the doctor to hurry up and finish. At the time, I figured I was just being a sissy, so I kept my mouth shut…when I really should have spoken up. That’s my own dang fault. By the time my surgery was over, my normally low blood pressure was dangerously high, and I kicked myself for not trusting my instincts.
However, those new hospital policies ended up being my best medicine, because within minutes of exiting the operating room, I had her in my arms:
Her pediatrician even came to us for her initial exam, so I was front, center and available to ask questions, rather than having to wonder what was happening. Throughout our hospital stay, Bean only left our side for a once-a-day bath, and a few unexpected tests when the pediatrician detected a possible heart murmur. I had frequent visits from the lactation consultants, to make sure we were set up for feeding success.
We still had the never-ending visits from nurses and ran on very little sleep as a result, but there was no getting around that. As much as our hospital has evolved into a more nurturing and less “let’s avoid a lawsuit” kind of place, a c-section is still major surgery. I required constant monitoring and the recovery is not a picnic. Today is really the first day I haven’t felt like death warmed over. We also had a few hiccups with my medications, some kooky timing of vaccinations and the added stress of waiting for the pediatric cardiologist to tell us all was well. Overall, however, the experience was still better than I had expected or hoped.
So, the hospital stay was only three days, and in retrospect, I am very grateful for the way things have changed. Even when the pain robbed me of breath, and I all I wanted t do was cry, I only had to reach out for her and everything was better: