Hello and Merry Christmas to all who celebrate the holiday! I’m so sorry it took me so long to write this post, but between being at the hospital til Tuesday and then adjusting to life at home the past few days, it hasn’t been easy to find a minute on the computer.
And, even if I could, my hubby is home this week and so I didn’t want to take away from potential family time but as I write this now, he’s sound asleep as well as Maya and Rocco. It’s just me up right now.
So … I’m a mommy!
Friday night we went out for our last “just us” dinner and then my mom arrived. We chatted for a while and then she went to her hotel. I didn’t sleep barely a wink, so coupled with only two hours sleep Thursday, I was a hot mess Saturday morning. I wrote Maya a letter we will tuck into her baby book, wrote in my journal, and checked my bag a million times over.
Then, I showered, did my hair and put on a little make-up (no, I’m not kidding–I wanted to meet Maya looking my best ;)), took one last pic with my big belly, and then we were off. It was bitter cold and flurrying–typical Michigan!
We met my mom in the pre-op room where we waited for about two hours. We had a little trouble with the IV (I have small veins so it took them a while to get it right) and I was given lots of meds including an anti-nausea lemony (NASTY) “shot” to swallow, but mostly we just talked.
The nurses were great and my OB came in and talked with us, making me feel a little better, and then the anesthesiologist came in and explained how the spinal would work. I nearly passed out when he told me I’d have to do that part alone–no one had told me that!–but because it’s a sterile environment, my husband would have to wait outside and then come in right before we got started. Talk about panic attack!
At 8:30 we said goodbye to my mom and then walked to the door of the operating room (yes, I walked myself! Isn’t that odd?! I always pictured being wheeled in!). Then my husband kissed me and I went through.
I’d never had surgery before and didn’t know what to expect but it was a huge room with bright lights and lots of commotion, doctors and nurses and machines everywhere. I saw the warming table that would hold Maya and also some surgical tools that would remove her. It was a bizarre feeling and I immediately began to cry. I was just so choked up and, naturally, scared. The nurses were amazing, trying to comfort me, make me laugh, but I was still scared.
For the spinal, they gave me an oxygen tube and had me sit on the edge of the operating table and hunch my back up. I only felt the prick on my back as they put the numbing solution but didn’t feel much for the spinal itself except the small electric surge they said I might feel. Within seconds, I had no feeling below my waist. It was surreal. They hoisted my legs up to the table, inserted a catheter (I’d never had that, either, but didn’t feel a thing except some minor pressure).
Then came the drape. I couldn’t see a thing and had no idea what they were doing on the other side (though I had an idea since I watched that C-section video). I’d asked for my arms NOT to be strapped in, and as it turned out I couldn’t have moved them even if I’d wanted to; I was so riddled with fear and anxiety. So to occupy myself, I kept watching the clock nervously, wondering when my husband would be able to come in, and trying to think positive thoughts that, in a few minutes, Maya would be here.
Finally, at 8:55 AM, my husband came in. He held my hand and comforted me while we waited. I could hear the doctors talking and at one point asked if they’d done the incision yet. Dr. Bateman (my OB) said with a chuckle that they were long past that; that I’d feel some pressure but that they were about to pull her out. I also heard my OB commenting to his assistant, “This one works out a lot, great ab structure, really takes care of herself” which totally made me laugh and feel good. I was drugged up, but still, I said, “Hey, I heard that!” and the comic relief helped.
Then, right as the clock passed 9 AM, the nurses told my husband it was time–that he could stand up to take a picture and he did (looking back on it now, it’s surreal to see myself cut open and watch Maya being removed!). I felt a big emptiness all of a sudden and then we heard her first cries–which were not a loud wail but rather a sweet whimper which even the nurses and doctors said was so cute!!
Then at 9:02 AM, Dr. Bateman said, “Hello Maya! She’s bigger than I thought she’d be, Melissa!” — better words were never spoken! He hoisted her up so we could see her and she was blue and squirmy and I couldn’t see much else through the tears of joy I was crying. The nurses took her to get cleaned and weighed and we just marveled and cried and hugged and kissed. Then my husband was allowed to go over to her while they began putting me back together. He took a ton of pics and I just kept craning my neck to the left to see everything that was happening.
She weighed in at 6 lbs 4.4 oz (so we’re saying 6 lbs 4 oz) and was the picture of health — perfect!! And, ours. 🙂
Finally, the nurses bundled her up and handed her off to my husband, who brought her over to me. I couldn’t hold her but I could touch and kiss and caress her beautiful little face. The three of us just snuggled for the duration of my surgery, and now they were only tears of joy. A few times she opened her eyes–which (for now) are blue and we decided she looks very much like my husband, it’s uncanny!
Right before they were done, they wheeled her off to recovery and since we’d put in my birth “idea” that we wanted one of us present for all her shots, my husband had to follow. It was OK though; it was literally only 5 minutes we were all apart.
The nurses hoisted me to a different bed (all Stryker beds, of course–and my husband is a quality engineer AT Stryker so that’s always funny) and wheeled me off to recovery where we met my mom. Maya was given her first bath and then she was put in my arms.
It was the most beautiful moment of my life (amid a myriad of beautiful moments that day). A little peanut, she snuggled right in and just nuzzled me. I was in awe, pure awe. Then, I was shown how to nurse. Amazingly, Maya latched right on and started sucking away. I could not believe it. I’ve always had a tiny chest and figured I’d struggle … nope!! We have a champion nurser!! (Over the next few days we got technique help from the lactation consultants at the hospital, but from that first feeding, she was determined!)
Having my mom there was so incredibly special. I know it meant the world to her to be there, and it meant the world to me that she was there. Seeing me as a mom was just amazing, she said. (And I can’t wait til she, my dad, brother and sister come next Thursday to visit!). After my husband had some time holding Maya (he’s such a natural and she’s SO daddy’s little girl!), my mom held her and just fell in love with her first grand-baby!
After four hours in recovery, we were moved up to our room, where we’d stay til Tuesday. The hospital I delivered at (Bronson Methodist Hospital) has a new birthing center built in 2007, so the rooms are incredibly beautiful and serene and modern; very soothing. They also have amazing staff, room service (whatever you want!) and lactation consultants on hand … plus a nursery if mom and dad need a breather. I’d said I didn’t want to put Maya in there … but we did end up putting her in for 2-3 hours each night, knowing this was the only time we’d have help on hand!
The catheter was removed Sunday morning, and I saw my post-baby body and belly for the first time. I have to say, I was pleased!! Aside from the incision (which was bandaged), my abs were pretty flat–save for a small pooch … and though my hips have some extra flesh on them right now, I honestly wasn’t repulsed by my reflection. Instead, I saw my body as a vessel and was impressed that I was able to do it!! But it DID hurt to pee for several days (normal!) and I am still bleeding (also normal).
Then it was an influx of people tending to us: my OB and the pediatrician came each day, plus the nurses had to check our vitals several times a day, so it wasn’t really very restful but it was nice to be taken care of. I couldn’t get out of bed until Sunday, either, so that was weird. And it was VERY hard to get up (and still is).
My mom was with us til late Sunday afternoon and then we were on our own! We just passed the time cooing and cuddling with Maya, feeding her about every three hours, eating when we could, and resting. Sunday night and Monday afternoon friends came by to visit, so that was wonderful — they were all smitten by her 🙂
Monday night Maya had a fever and was dehydrated so that was scary (dehydration is quite common for breast-fed babies); she’d also lost too much weight (10% is normal; she’d lost 12% of her birth weight). After some blood work we were recommended to give her some donor breast milk to supplement til my own milk came in (the initial stuff–colostrum–is rich in nutrients but babies only get about a teaspoon per feeding) so we agreed to it.
Tuesday morning my OB came to remove my staples, discharge me and bid us adieu. We couldn’t leave, though, til Maya had been discharged and they wanted to keep her for a few extra hours to check on her fever.
Then came quite possibly one of the coolest parts of the hospital stay. The lactation consultant (one we hadn’t met yet, Cindy) was making her rounds and asked how feeding was going, if my milk had come in. I said it was going OK, and no, it hadn’t. So she asked to watch me nurse and she looks at me, pinches my left breast, and says “Honey, your milk is absolutely in!” as white milk trickled out.
I literally cried tears of joy, and my husband’s face was priceless–he was so happy!! Granted, it wasn’t much (and even now, 6 days post-partum, I wouldn’t say my milk is totally in) but it’s coming in more and more each day! Nursing has been getting a little easier each day and having a breast pump really helps. (I have the Medela Pump in Style Advanced, for those who know what I’m talking about!)
Finally at 4:30 we were given the green light to go home with orders to continue supplementing with donor milk for the next few days to get her weight back up. We bundled Maya up in her Bundle Me and hat (courtesy of my sis!) and headed out after thanking our favorite nurse, Linda 😉
Walking out of the hospital with my husband holding Maya in her infant carrier and me carrying beautiful flower arrangements from my parents and a friend, I got choked up as we walked past the perinatology unit–where I had most of my prenatal tests and all my nonstress tests. It was like the closing of a chapter, and it was emotional.
Then my husband put her in the car and I went to hop in the back with her … and realized very quickly that with my surgery, I have zero ab strength right now. I cried out in pain and my husband tried to get me in the back, but it was too hard to maneuver and the front had more space — so he lifted me up and put me in the front seat, where I continued to cry as he took pics of us getting ready to head home.
Having Maya in her nursery, or in her pack ‘n play or swing … it’s been incredible. Her presence is such an elixir and we just can’t get enough of her–except when she’s wailing ;)Though even then, she’s so darn cute!
Each day Maya is more alert and she’s totally a joy. We’re adjusting pretty well and Rocco is still quite curious about who this little intruder is and he’s a little jealous at times, but we’re trying to let him around her as much as possible so he learns to protect her vs. being intimidated by her. We need him to realize there’s enough love in Mommy and Daddy’s hearts for BOTH Maya and Rocco!
I’m eating plenty, but I’ve been surprised at how small my appetite has been — though friends have told me that’s pretty normal the first few days post-partum and they all say once you get more into nursing, your appetite will increase so for now, I’m just listening to my body. I just want to make sure Maya gets enough to eat!
So that’s her birth story … hard to believe six days ago I was carrying a Coach purse and yesterday, we went to the pediatrician and all I had was my diaper bag! My, how things change so quickly!! But it’s been an amazing journey and we’re just so happy she’s healthy and strong and ours!!
Here are a few more pics just because I love her so much and want to share! 🙂
And this pic taken by my awesome photographer friend Staci, who came to visit us at the hospital.
To all my readers, thank you for all the well-wishes and support the past few months … it’s been amazing and I couldn’t have done it without you!