baby, Fourth trimester, Postpartum Diaries

Postpartum Diaries: One Month

Elliot is one month old today! And what a month it’s been.

How I’m Doing:

Well, I was feeling really discouraged because every time I started feeling a little better, I’d be a little more active, and then suffer a setback and feel like I could barely move. But around last Thursday or Friday I realized that I actually felt much better. I’ve actually started wearing clothing with a waistband again! I’d been in nightgowns, robes, and maxi dresses for most of the month, so wearing a skirt was a big step. And today, I wore leggings to our pediatrician appointment, which is the closest to pants I’ve gotten in a month.

But I’m still managing to overdo it. I think it comes from being a pretty active person during my pregnancy. It’s hard to grasp that I was five times more able at 40 weeks pregnant than I am now, without the belly or all the extra weight. I’ve been experimenting more with babywearing because my arms get tired carrying him and Elliot likes to be walked around. I’ve come to the realization that the stretchy wrap is going to have to wait until I’m a little more healed because I’m having back pain after a couple days in a row of wearing it for a bit. But the ring sling seems to work better, probably because it keeps the baby weight distributed higher and doesn’t go around my middle at all.

This week marks the last week that Dan will be staying home, so I need to take some time now to try to become more independent with Elliot. I’ve started doing a little more at night, although I still need to make sure I’m standing and being careful when lifting El in and out of his bassinet, rather than being able to just grab him while sitting in bed. But we generally do a diaper change when we feed him at night anyway, so once I take over more of the overnight work, I’ll have to get up anyway.

I still haven’t ventured out of the house except for doctors’ appointments, although we have some appointments to tour daycare centers later this week, which should be interesting. I’m hoping I can keep El in the ring sling to minimize his exposure to germs (although I doubt it’s much more risky than the waiting room at the pediatrician). And eventually, I will get out to take a walk in the neighborhood, even if it’s just around the block.

How Elliot’s Doing:

Still growing. At his checkup this morning, he’s still firmly tracking the 45th percentile for weight, despite the fact that he’s been feeding for less and less time. I guess he’s just very efficient at nursing. He also got a shot, which he did not like, but he got over. He did spend the first bit of the car ride home looking grumpy in his car seat, but he fell asleep and wasn’t any worse for the wear.

He’s also started focusing on objects and faces. He looks at us from further away, and will even pay attention to books and toys. And he’s started smiling at people and things. I picked up a stuffed cow toy to show him during tummy time (because it’s black and white and high contrast) and he broke out in a huge grim when he saw it. He’s also started smiling at us when we smile or talk to him. It’s really exciting because it feels like he’s becoming more engaged with the world.

We’ve started getting him toys and showing him some of the (many) books we’ve received as gifts. I got a baby gym frame to hang things from and some Montessori mobiles. The gym hasn’t arrived yet, but I experimented with holding up the Munari mobile for him today and he was entranced for five minutes.

Obviously, we’re still in the eat-poop-sleep-repeat phase of newbornhood, but it’s really cool to see the occasional glimpses of the baby that is to come. Oh and he officially weighs more than the cat.

Current Stats: 9 lbs. 11 oz., 21 3/4″ long

childbirth, Hypnobabies

Elliot’s Birth Story

So it’s been over two weeks since Elliot was born (and actually three weeks since this birth story begins!), but I think it’s time for me to share my story. As I’ve written about in the past, I prepared for my birthing time by doing the Hypnobabies home study course, so I wanted to make a note here that I don’t use Hypnobabies language throughout this story. If you’re currently taking a Hypnobabies class and are looking for stories, I’d highly recommend having a strong Bubble of Peace before diving into this one. It’s definitely a “change of plans” story. If you don’t know what any of that means, don’t worry about it.

Anyway, I supposed my birth story starts at 9:15 a.m. on Wednesday, December 26th, when I had an appointment with an OB at my practice for a cervical check. Because I was still only at about 1 cm dilated, I was all set to keep my appointment at the hospital that evening to start “ripening,” where they would give me Cytotec to help my cervix ripen and hopefully start the labor process.

We went home, double-checked that we’d taken care of everything we needed to for the next few days, and I made myself a nice, big lunch. Then, we packed our hospital bags into the car and headed to the hospital around 3pm. We got there around 3:40 and were in a room shortly after 4. I changed into a gown and got settled into the room. We were in the High-Risk Perinatal Center for the evening, not a Labor & Delivery room, so the room was different than the ones we’d seen on our tour.

Then, we met our first nurse, who got me set up with a saline IV lock and the monitors for the baby’s heart rate and my contractions. Around 6 p.m. I got my first dose of Cytotec. Now, I know there’s some controversy around Cytotec, and I don’t want to get into that. Suffice to say, I had a good experience and trust that my doctors chose it for good reasons. I was initially a bit concerned because I had used Cytotec for my missed miscarriage the year before and it had had some unpleasant side effects, but the dose used for ripening was much, much smaller. Rather than 4 pills all at once, I got 1/4 of a pill every 2 hours, so that even after 8 doses and 14 hours, I’d still taken half what I’d taken all at once for the miscarriage. And I had no adverse side effects.

Unfortunately, because I had doses every 2 hours, it was difficult to get much sleep. But I was allowed to eat dinner (and breakfast and lunch the next day!), so I ordered some food, checked out the movies they had, and settled in for the night. After my second dose, the nurse pointed out that I was having some “good contractions” according to the monitors. At this point, I didn’t really feel anything. I did a Hypnobabies Fear-Clearing track and tried to relax, as I was still having a bit of anxiety about pitocin and labor the next day.

A little after midnight, and my fourth dose, I had a bit of excitement when the baby’s heart rate dipped during one of those contractions. I had been turned away from the computer screen (laying on my left side, which will become relevant later on), so I didn’t realize I was having a contraction and was completely shocked when three nurses came in to stabilize me. My main night nurse decided she wanted to put me on IV fluids at that point, so she hooked up to my saline lock. After that, I put an episode of Great British Bakeoff on my iPad and then dozed off until my next dose of Cytotec.

From about 2-6 a.m., I attempted to sleep in between doses, which was made more difficult by the fact that the baby was really good at running away from the monitors, or just kicking them off my belly, so I was constantly interrupted by the nurse coming to put them back into place and get the signal back. It was particularly frustrating because I could feel the kid moving the entire time, so I knew things were fine. Around 7 a.m., I ordered breakfast and had Dan (who had been sleeping for most of the night on the couch in the room with me) make me a cup of tea. Around 9 I got my last dose of Cytotec, and at 11 a.m., the doctor checked me and declared that I was at 2-3 cm dilated and ready to move to L&D for pitocin.

At this point, I was sort of feeling the contractions, though they definitely felt more like “pressure waves,” as the Hypnobabies language suggested. The doctor said that I could get off the monitors until I was moved, so we took the opportunity to walk up and down the hallway a little. I also ordered some lunch, which came 15 minutes before we moved to the L&D room. Not knowing how soon they would want to start pitocin, I opted to scarf my cheeseburger and mashed potatoes before moving down the hall to the L&D room.

The L&D room was huge compared to the perinatal room. I joked that it looked like a yoga studio. I was a little disappointed that being induced with pitocin meant that I had to be tied to monitors and I could take advantage of all that room. The nurse tried to get me a wireless monitor, but the one available was already in use. While we were waiting in the room, I did my “Your Birthing Time Begins” track. At 1:30 p.m., they started pitocin, starting at 2 units and increasing it every so often. I did another fear-clearing session after starting pitocin. I felt the pressure waves becoming more intense, increasing particularly after they increased the pitocin (although I didn’t alway notice when they increased me). I listened to my Birthing Day Affirmations and let the doula know that she should probably come to the hospital.

Around 3, I felt a little trickle and assumed I peed a little, but at 4-ish, I went to the toilet and felt a gush, which had some blood in it. When I mentioned the previous trickle, the doctor checked the pad on my bed and said it looked like my water had broken. The doula arrived, the doctor came in to check on me, and my water broke at the same time, so it felt a bit hectic for a minute. My pitocin was around 10 at that point, so I had already talked to Dan about probably being ready for an epidural soon.

When Jenny, our doula, got there, we discussed the epidural and when the doctor checked me and said I’d progressed to 4 cm, I decided it would be good to get the epidural now so I could get some rest, rather than waiting until I was exhausted. Of course, the whole time, Dan was helping me with my Hypnobabies cues, and when Jenny got there, she helped, too. I’m pretty sure Dan picked up on some of the specific ways she helped me stay relaxed through contractions, which were actually starting to feel pretty painful at this point.

A little less than an hour later, the anesthesiologist came in and did the epidural and I had to lie flat for 20-30 minutes to let it start working. I think I actually got a little sleep at this point. Then, I moved to my side with my leg up on a peanut ball to try to encourage the baby to descend (I was dilating and softening, but he was still at -2 station). After a bit, I noticed I was starting to feel pain from each contraction localized in my left hip. We thought maybe it was the epidural pooling because I was on my right side, so I switched sides. Well, at this point, we started realizing that laying on my left side was something the baby didn’t like because he had a few heart rate decelerations. I also noticed that the pain in my hip was getting worse, not better, and starting to spread across my body.

I mentioned that I thought my epidural might not be working, and the nurses tried pushing the button to give me a little surge of medicine. That didn’t help. At this point, my contractions are coming back in full force. They’d also been increasing the pitocin, so by the time it became clear my epidural was failing after only a couple hours, I was at the maximum dose. They called in an anesthesiologist, who tried some of the same things as the nurses in terms of giving me a boost of medicine, including injecting a dose directly into the epidural line. This sent an icy wave down the right side of my body, but I felt no relief on the left. I was probably pretty close to the pitocin equivalent of transition because I was shaking and crying. This couple of hours was the worst of the entire experience, and I was honestly very close to begging them to just take the baby out however they could, but Dan kept me calm and helped me through the experience. Eventually, the anesthesiologist came in with an ice cube and tested my feeling. When I jumped at the coldness when he put the ice cube on my right hip, he said it was time to redo the epidural, at about 9:30 p.m.

I didn’t think I was going to be able to sit up and hold the position necessary for the epidural a second time, while going through these worse contractions, but the combination of Dan being awesome and the anesthesiologist being extremely quick made it happen. And it was ah-maaaaa-zing. It did take a few minutes to really take effect, but I swear I instantly felt the edge taken off. And then I was able to rest.

Unfortunately, between 2 and 3 a.m., the doctor checked me again, and apparently I had been stalled at 7-8 cm with the baby still at -2 station for several hours. Also, the baby kept having increasing distress when I lay on my left side to try to encourage the baby to drop. Apparently, this was particularly scary for Dan because he just saw the monitors and, like the nurses, worried something was seriously wrong. I didn’t realize how worried everyone was because 1.) drugs and 2.) I could feel the baby moving the whole time so I just assumed he was fine.

At about 3 in the morning on Friday, the doctor sat down to discuss “options,” given that the baby wasn’t descending. I asked her “Just to be clear, is this a c-section conversation?” and she said yes. We discussed it with Dan and Jenny and Jenny suggested that, while there were exercises that she thought could help the baby engage better (he was slightly off-kilter and his skull was crammed up against a bone in my pelvis), they all involved lying on my side, which seemed to be a no-go for the baby. So I decided that it would be best to proceed with the c-section now, rather than waiting until it was actually an emergency.

I had to wait for an operating room for a little over an hour, but by 4:20 a.m., I was in the operating room. Dan joined me soon after and helped me stay calm. I didn’t realize how much the anesthesia would make my arms shake, and having Dan there helped me feel calmer, even though he says he didn’t notice me shaking any less. The c-section experience was a little surreal. I definitely felt pressure and pulling, but nothing even remotely resembling pain. It probably helped that I have a lot of trust in my OB practice, so I was confident this was the right decision and that they would take care of me, so I didn’t have any regrets or disappointment about having a c-section.

At 4:43 a.m., on Friday, December 28th, Elliot was born, via c-section. He came out crying and peeing on everything. And when they lowered the opaque part of the drape to show him to me, I cried like I had when I first saw him on the ultrasound screen. My little boy was here and was doing great. He definitely got delayed cord clamping because there was a minute of laughing while he peed on the OB, the pediatrician, and a couple nurses. And then they called Dan over to cut the cord and hold him. I was exhausted and actually dozed off for a minute before jerking awake at some point.

A little after 5 a.m., I was wheeled back to the L&D room to recover and do skin-to-skin with Elliot. We got about 20 minutes of skin-to-skin and nursing before I allowed the nurse to take him for a few tests, and then he was brought back for at least an hour. I was so exhausted, but the nurse offered to sit with me and watch us so that I could keep him on my chest without worrying that he would roll off if I fell asleep. After a couple hours in recovery, we were taken up to the maternity room, where our postpartum journey began for real.

Well, this has already become quite long, so I’m going to stop there. I’ll talk about my c-section recovery, and how Dan was so key in helping me through the birth in later posts. But for now, that’s the story of my exciting, 30+-hour induction and c-section and the arrival of baby Elliot.

baby, Fourth trimester, Postpartum Diaries

Postpartum Diaries: Two Weeks

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve done a weekly update. Last time I checked in, I was 41 weeks pregnant and looking at an induction in a few days. I’ll be posting my birth experience next week, but I thought I’d start by sharing how our first two weeks with Elliot have been going.

How I’m Doing:

So, the postpartum period (or “fourth trimester,” as it’s sometimes called) isn’t just about baby development. It’s also about maternal healing. And I’ve definitely found the postpartum healing period more challenging than I thought it would be. I was completely unprepared for how much pretty much any normal daily activity would hurt with my c-section incision. The first week was mostly spent figuring out how to cope with reduced mobility. Dan has been invaluable, doing pretty much everything except feeding the baby.

I’ll be honest, I’m extremely frustrated that I can’t do almost anything. Earlier this week, I ended up back at the doctor for a last-minute appointment because I was having so much pain my lower abdomen. The doctor said I’d probably strained something, and given where I was hurting, I’m pretty sure I hurt myself lifting Elliot out of his bassinet at night. So I had to pull back even further and rely on Dan even more, which didn’t help the frustration (or the fact that we couldn’t really take shifts at night).

But we’re slowly adjusting and figuring out a sort-of routine. And Elliot is obliging and letting us sleep for a few hours at a time overnight, rather than staying up all night cluster feeding the way he did the first few nights at home.

How Elliot’s Doing:

Well, little guy seems to be having some congestion the past couple of days, but he seems mostly content and healthy. After several days of hourly feeds overnight, he’s calmed down, probably because he finished a growth spurt.

In the hospital, we had some trouble with him losing weight too quickly after birth, so we supplemented a little bit of formula after feeding him at the breast, but the day after we got home from the hospital, my milk came in, and he started refusing his formula supplements. When we had our first pediatrician checkup, he’d started gaining weight again nicely, and we were given the green light to go back to exclusive breastfeeding. At our two-week appointment this week, he’d already gained back to his birthweight (and then some!) so feeding seems to be going pretty well.

Over the last couple of days, we’ve noticed that he’s been a lot more alert and interactive during the day, instead of only waking up to fuss because he’s wet or hungry. His umbilical cord stump still hasn’t fallen off, so we’re being careful with tummy time, but I do occasionally put him on my chest to practice holding his head up and pushing up a little. He has remarkable neck control for a newborn and has since birth (he was holding his head up during skin-to-skin in the recovery room).

He’s also starting to noticeably outgrow his clothes. I think he’ll be out of newborn sizes fully in a week or two, though I’m glad we got newborn-sized clothes because the larger size was slightly too baggy for my comfort while sleeping. But our growing little guy is growing like a weed. As precious as these sweet, sleepy newborn moments are, I’m excited to see how he develops over the next months and years.

Current Stats: 8 lbs. 3 oz., 21.5″

Fourth trimester

Welcome, Elliot

 

It’s been a while since I’ve updated this space. If you follow my Instagram, you’ll know that’s because baby Elliot decided to arrive just over a week ago. We’re all very busy at home getting used to our new little family, but as soon as I find some time, I’ll share the story of Elliot’s birth and start updating with how these first weeks are going.