Monday, May 15, 2006

New Motherhood

A friend of ours recently had a baby. She had an eclamptic seizure right after the birth, and has had a rough first couple of weeks of parenthood. According to her blog, she's had some guilt about how things went--guilt that's probably much intensified by the tsunami-sized hormone fluctuations you experience after childbirth.

I did not have the same experience as she did, but I completely understand. Before Charlotte was conceived, I had this rosy picture of what the whole process would be like. I had my mother's experiences to draw from--she had 5 relatively uneventful pregnancies, though she was hyper-enemic (really, really sick) with the 5th--she was also 40 years old and it had been 12 years since number 4. I was sure I'd sail through pregnancy, enjoying the weight gain and the kicking baby, and be on my feet again not long after birth.

Hah. I was sick the entire time. But not too sick--enough that I puked probably 4 of every 7 days for the entire 8 months, but still gained 50ish pounds (maybe 60, depending on what you count as my starting weight...). I had horrible heartburn the whole time, and generally felt like crap. I was stressed at work, which probably made everything worse.

Then my water broke at 36 weeks. I had had sings of impending labor in the weeks up till that point--the baby dropping, starting to lose my mucous plug (hey, I never promised to avoid gory details), but I didn't really believe what the signs were telling me--My mom carried all 5 of us late, and I was sure I wouldn't deliver till nearly October. Then when I did finally accept that I was in labor, I figured, "Great. The baby will be small. At least the delivery will be easy".

Again, hah. By partway through the day, I was having back labor. I didn't know that's what it was, and no one else figured it out either, or I might have tried a couple of positions to help her turn. So even though I had privately thought I would skip the epidural, I realized I needed one after losing an hour to the pain. Several hours later, I spent 2 hours pushing before the doctor decided that Charlotte was stuck (and they couldn't figure out which way her head was pointing). So I got a C-section.

Those suck. Really suck. I didn't get to try to sit up till the second day, and didn't really stand up till day 3 in the hospital. Around then, my milk came in. But Charlotte was developing jaundice and was really sleepy. She had trouble latching (the lactation consultant said it was because I was a large breasted woman and showed me how to help her latch correctly--I'm barely a B cup normally....). Trying to nurse would tire her out more, and she was getting dehydrated, which made the jaundice worse. So then she got sent to the NICU to go under bili lights, and I was alone and without her for the first time *ever*.

We got to take her home after a day in the NICU, thankfully, but I was on pain medicine for the next 2 weeks or so. I really don't remember much of that time--the drugs made me really out of it. I hurt--I couldn't lay on my side, had trouble getting in and out of bed, trouble going up and down stairs, an didn't even attempt to drive till she was like 3 weeks old.

Not exactly the rosy picture I'd envisioned. But, we both survived and she's a beautiful, smart, lively little girl. I would never take that back. And now I know that for next time (whenever that is), that my expectation is this: healthy mom and healthy baby. Nothing more. And I'll try not to feel guilty about it.

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