Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Post Labor & Recovery

Two Nights in the Hospital

All the nurses at the hospital were fantastic in providing assistance with swaddling, diaper changes, breastfeeding, and general infant care. They were also very generous in providing additional supplies to take home such as diapers, pads, wipes, post-partum underwear, etc. The hospital gowns were actually quite comfy and convenient for breastfeeding - while they weren't fashionable, it's not like I was going anywhere (although I did end up wearing it for a few pictures in the first day photoshoot...luckily the photog used good lighting and the baby to cover up how unfashionable it was..hehe). I only left the room once to see Lucas get weighed. I almost wished I had one to take home! None of my pajamas or nightgowns are as convenient or comfy for breastfeeding. The food was also pretty good. There was a huge selection of Indian foods to choose from. I always chose the congee option, since I wanted something warm and comforting.

The only thing about our hospital stay that I would complain about is that everything was so poorly and haphazardly scheduled that we never got any kind of rest. Within the two night stay, there were multiple pediatrician, OB, and nurse visits, a circumcision, a lactation consultant visit, jaundice test, hearing test, first day photography shoot, baby bath, scheduled skin-to-skin...I'm sure there are more things I'm forgetting! Because none of these were scheduled, they would just barge in whenever, so we never ended up getting any sleep. I wish there was a way to schedule these things so that we could get blocks of uninterrupted rest. It definitely left me feeling very frazzled and exhausted when we arrived home!

I also wished that I could have stayed in the hospital long enough for my milk to come in. The day we came home from the hospital, Lucas didn't have enough pee diapers so we ended up having to supplement with formula to ensure that he was hydrated. Unfortunately, the nurses didn't warn us that this could happen and what we should do if it does - I heard they actually do have extra formula they provide for situations like this, but because they are so keen on having moms exclusively breastfeed, they won't give it to you unless you ask for it. I had no idea to ask for it and they never brought it up. In fact, I had never met our pediatrician at that point so I wasn't even sure who to contact after hours that night. Luckily I was able to get connected with an after hours nurse hotline that gave us instructions on what to do. Since then, my milk has come in and Lucas has been gaining weight well with just breastfeeding!

Recovery from Labor

The epidural took awhile to wear off so I didn't start feeling pain until the day after delivery. But I knew it must be pretty serious since nurses and doctors kept checking in on my bleeding and putting ice packs down there to minimize swelling. The nurses were especially diligent about my first two trips to the bathroom - I had two nurses help me to the bathroom just to make sure I was steady and to make sure I was peeing enough. It helped that everyone was female, as the recovery ward is no place to be modest! They never gave me anything stronger than an ibuprofen, which was mostly sufficient for the pain. The only times I really felt pain down there was when I had to sneeze or cough. I thought about buying a Sitz bath beforehand but I never got around to it. Now I'm glad I didn't end up buying it! There's so much random crap to buy post-pregnancy, I'm dealing with enough Amazon deliveries and returns as it is. Plus, what new mom has time to sit around in a Sitz bath after every bathroom trip? I did feel a little bit of pain in my abdomen area starting the second day - the doctor said that was a good thing, because it meant my uterus was contracting back to its normal size thanks to all the breastfeeding Lucas was demanding for those two days in the hospital. It definitely didn't feel like my uterus was contracting at the time, since I still looked and felt 5 months pregnant.

I didn't weigh myself at the hospital, which is probably for the better because I might have been disappointed with the lack of weight loss. After 2 weeks, my uterus definitely shrank down a lot more, so I only looked like I was 3 months pregnant. I'd probably attribute this weight loss to my Chinese post-partum diet, as low salt is a key factor to the diet to ensure new moms don't retain excess water. I've also been eating a lot of traditionally "hot" foods, which are probably making me sweat out excess fluids. I'm still not sure how much I weigh though - I don't see my doctor until 6 weeks after delivery for a checkup. Here's hoping everything will be okay by then! Not that I'm looking to do any intense workouts but it's very impractical for me not to lift anything heavier than Lucas. When I go out with him, I still need to carry the car seat and stroller too!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Lucas' Birth Story

The Night Before (Week 39)

Jeff and I had joked for several weeks that we hoped I would go into labor in the morning after one last night of good rest. Little did we know that this would be exactly what happened! The night before I went into labor, we watched Bridge of Spies at home. During the movie, my stomach would get really tight but not in a painful way - it wasn't very regular and after awhile the tightness went away, so we chalked it up to Braxton Hicks contractions and went to bed.

The Morning Of

Between 7:30-8:00 the next morning, I started to feel a little funny. I wasn't sure what was happening but this was a different feeling from the painless tightening I felt the night before. The birth class we attended warned us not to go to the hospital too early, as first time moms tend to be in early labor for a really long time, so I was preparing for a leisurely breakfast and a nice hot shower before heading out. Jeff had a meeting at 9:00 and I had encouraged him to go, thinking that he'd have plenty of time to come back and take me to the hospital when my contractions were 5 minutes apart. Thank goodness he had the good sense not to leave me!

By 8:15, the pain made me realize that I was having contractions and they were only 3 minutes apart! I was also peeing a lot with bright red blood - in hindsight, this was probably my water trickling out but I couldn't really tell. I called the doctor on call, who seemed dubious that I was in labor but said that I should come into the hospital if I was feeling worried. Jeff got all our bags ready while I clung to the side of a chair, a table, the bathroom wall, etc. during the pain. The car ride to the hospital was only a few minutes but the contractions made it feel so much longer!

At the Hospital: Checking In

Once we got to the hospital, I hobbled over to the reception desk to check in. They took their sweet time getting my information, ignoring how I had to hunch over the desk to manage through contraction pains as they kept asking for forms, insurance cards, ID, etc. I was going to ask the receptionist if I could have the seat next to her if she was going to take much longer with the check-in process!

Luckily, a nurse checked me into a delivery room soon after and the doctor I had spoken with earlier came to check on me. She was surprised to see that my water was already gone and I was 6-7 cm dilated! She told me that I sounded so calm on the phone, she didn't think there was any way I could be in labor, since women can't usually talk through contractions. I had progressed so quickly everyone was surprised to find out this was my first birth. Meanwhile, different nurses came into ask the same questions over and over about medication allergies, relevant medical history, pain management plans, and had me sign forms. They even apologized for asking the same questions over and over but for some reason, couldn't just share the information with each other. I could barely breathe, much less answer all their questions coherently! I wanted them to just ask Jeff the questions and leave me alone but apparently it doesn't work that way.

Antibiotics, Fentanyl, and Epidural

I had to get hooked up to an IV right away so I could get antibiotics, since I tested positive for Group B Strep. They also had to do one more platelet level check to confirm that I could get an epidural, as my levels had been lower than average in my last few blood tests. In the meantime, they gave me fentanyl, which made the contractions bearable but I could still feel some pain. I was willing to take whatever they could give me, since I was terrified that I might actually have to go through labor without an epidural. I didn't realize it at the time but by this point, I had experienced the worst of my labor pains. From here on out, it only got better.

My platelet levels came in a little while later and I was approved for an epidural. Jeff was allowed to stay in the room as long as he faced me so that he couldn't see the needles going into my back. I've heard lots of moms describe this process as very difficult but I thought it was fine. My anesthesiologist was pretty good - I felt a few pokes but nothing crazy. She was good about making sure she administered the epidural in between contractions so that it wouldn't be hard for me to stay still.

Once the epidural kicked in, everything felt great. The nurse made sure the dosage was high enough so that I wasn't feeling any pain. Her plan was to have me nap for a few hours until it was time to push. She even pulled out the cot and some extra sheets for Jeff so he could sleep too. We were way too wired to actually sleep but it was nice to have some time to relax, even though we were excited to think that today would be the day we would finally meet baby Lucas!

Time to Push

By 3pm, the nurse confirmed that I was 10 cm dilated and it was time to start pushing! This was the part of labor I had dreaded the most but surprisingly, it was really relaxing. Jeff had some classical music on to really help promote a really nice ambiance, and between him and the nurse coaching me through the pushes, I felt really supported and encouraged. I used to think that when people said that pushed for x number of minutes or hours, they were pushing the entire time. Silly me! Even though I pushed for 90 minutes, it was only during contractions, which were a minute long.

At some point, I had to wear an oxygen mask because Lucas' oxygen levels were low. Also, after 90 minutes, I still couldn't get enough of Lucas' head through and his heart rate dropped significantly so the OB had to perform an episiotomy. I had mentioned my preference to avoid one so I have to admit, I was disappointed to find out I couldn't make it to the finish line on my own. But I'm glad we did it for Lucas' safety and health.

He's Here!

Seconds after she made the cut, Lucas came out so I didn't have time to  dwell on the disappointment of the episiotomy. He was 7 lbs and 10 oz, which explains why he wasn't that easy for me to deliver! Considering that Jeff and I both have relatively small frames, that's a big baby for us. I heard crying, quickly followed by a greyish-blue baby that was immediately placed on top of me for skin to skin contact. Jeff and I were so filled with emotion we both immediately started crying. This was definitely one of the most emotional moments of my life - up there with Jeff's proposal, where we both had the same flood of emotions knowing that our lives were about to change significantly! Luckily, he didn't stay greyish-blue for very long. His cries also dissipated pretty quickly, as the skin to skin contact calmed him down. We also tried breastfeeding for the first time.

During this time, the doctor was busy delivering the placenta and stitching me up. Kudos to the anesthesiologist and the nurse because I didn't feel a thing. I didn't even realize the placenta had been delivered until I heard a gush of blood like a waterfall. The doctor checked to see if Jeff was going to pass out. Luckily, he stayed strong. :) Apparently a bunch of blood flowed out with my placenta - enough to fill half a basin. Yikes!

From Labor to Recovery

As they took Lucas to get weighed and cleaned up, I realized that I was starving since I never ended up eating breakfast that day! I took a few sips of Jeff's bubble tea, as I desperately needed a quick boost of calories and energy. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that weaning off all the pain meds would make me nauseous so I promptly threw it back up. Jeff says that was my body's way of rejecting unhealthy food! In fact, as they wheeled me over to the recovery ward, I threw up again. Sigh...definitely not something I knew before I gave birth or I definitely would have avoided the bubble tea at all costs.

Al in all, I was extremely grateful for a relatively short labor and a healthy baby boy! More on recovery for the next 2 days in the hospital in a future post.

Roses from Jeff for Valentine's Day 2016

Friday, March 11, 2016

He's Here!

It's been a hectic few weeks since he arrived! I'll have to write out my birth story at some point - for now, I'm just going to enjoy the newborn cuddles. As much as I miss glorious hours of continuous sleep, I wouldn't trade him for anything in this world.