Fae Was Born, Part 2

*Warning, some of this post is gross. If you would rather not, here is your out. 

So, yay! We made a baby! And it was not the greatest most epic experience of my life, but it was over and that was pretty great too.

About two hours after delivery the hospital policy is to move you to a recovery room. At this point it was 5-ish AM, my epidural had not worn off and I couldn’t totally lift my left leg on my own. My nurse had me scoot to the edge of the bed and swing my legs over. I sat there for a little bit, feeling woozy and shaky. You know – I had just pushed a baby out of myself, I was bleeding a lot, I had actually been awake for 24 hours at this point, maybe encouraging me to stand was not the greatest idea?

I told her I felt woozy and like I was going to pass out.

She insisted I needed to try and pee before I left the room. She told me to stand, lock my knees and shuffle like a penguin to the bathroom.

I told her I felt woozy, like I was going to pass out, and a little like I was going to throw up.

She told me I could do it and I wouldn’t pass out.

I tried shuffling, but my left leg kept giving out. The nurse supported me to the bathroom. When I went to sit down on the toilet I realized there were streams of blood going down my legs and all over the floor. I panicked and knew for sure that I was going to pass out. I also knew there was no fucking way I could pee. As the nurse wiped down my legs and the floor, I stuck my head between my knees and tried so hard to pull myself together. I continually told her I was going to pass out and she continually told me I wasn’t going to. I told her I needed to go back to the bed and lie down, but she said she wasn’t comfortable helping me over there by herself so she needd to go get another nurse. In the mean time, with my head between my knees and my eyes closed and while I chugged along with deep breathing, she chose that moment to remove my epidural apparatus. The whole thing had been turned off, but there was a bunch of stuff still attached to me. And there I am, sitting on the toilet, trying not to hit the floor, and the nurse is quiet literally unhooking me and ripping tape off.

Eventually another nurse came in and they helped me into a wheel chair. I never did get to go back into the bed, though. While in the chair they switched out my gown to a recovery gown, had me step into postpartum underwear + a giant pad, and handed me the baby. I still felt like total shit and I was nervous I would pass out and drop Fae while being wheeled around, but I just kept focusing on her face, on her mouth, on the tiny white constellation looking dots on her tiny little nose while they wheeled me down the hall. I had no pants on, so I held tightly to the blanket they had draped over my legs, especially when it got caught in the wheels a few times.

During our hospital tour the tour guide talked about the various views and sizes of hospital suites and recovery rooms. She mentioned how some rooms had updated TVs, how some rooms were more recently remodeled than others. I don’t care about these things. I care that my hospital has a good nicu, I care that they have a low C-section rate, I care that if something were to go down I would be confident that people who know their shit would be there to help me. That being said, when we got to recovery the room looked like a re-purposed utility closet.

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There was a mattress on wheels leaned up against the wall for Kamel, sheets and pillows were stacked on the heating vent that ran along the window. For me there was a hospital bed.

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There was no chair, no place for visitors to sit, barely any space for anyone else to stand. It’s confusing to me why the birthing suite was so overwhelmingly large while you can only have 2 people in their with you, and the recovery room – where visitors are pretty much unlimited – had no extra room at all.

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People who came to visit us sat gingerly on the edge of Kamel’s bed. There was no room to walk the baby, the only place for me to be was in the hospital bed, no rocking chair or any other place to sit. It felt stifling and incredibly inconvenient.

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Recovery with Gabe was different. I felt grateful to be there. I spent an extra day in the hospital with him because it was a first pregnancy. The nurses changed his diapers. They took him when he was fussy and let us rest, the nurses helped me breast feed, lactation consultants were routinely on the floor. This experience felt like a burden. We were constantly interrupted for vital checks. We changed all of our own diapers, the babies weren’t even allowed out of the rooms without being in the bassinet, so no walking around with your kid unless you were just pushing them along with you, I was constantly having to call the nurses to stay on top of my motrin doses.

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I never felt like anyone was actually taking care of me, just that they were poking me and my kid to make sure we weren’t going to die. Which I guess is fine, in the end it’s the point of being there – so we don’t die – but it could have been done better.

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It’s been two full weeks now of having Fae outside of me and I’ve been thinking a lot about this process. In some ways I’m really disappointed at it not being as great as my experience having Gabe. In other ways I don’t care because now it’s over and I can just move on.

I’m so happy Fae is here. I am so happy to have 2 kids. I’ve always wanted more than 1 and now we have 2 and our family is complete. (Part of me would still love to have 3 or 4, if only pregnancy wasn’t such a bear, if only it wasn’t a year of limitations and incredible physical sacrifice, if only kids weren’t so effing expensive.)

It’s true that every pregnancy is different. That every birth is different. That every baby is different. It makes no difference what happened before, how it felt before, or what your first baby was like. Well, except for the part where you’re no longer freaked out or caught off guard with all the weird shit that happens to your body  during all of this. Ultimately though, I truly feel that if you are on the fence about having a second, if it isn’t super important to you, if you are content with how things are for your family and you had a positive birth experience – don’t do it.

I absolutely love Fae and I am so grateful she is here, but if I hadn’t gone in knowing that more than one kid was very important to me, I don’t know if all of this would have been something I’d be willing to do. It feels like with every pregnancy and with every kid it’s a roll of the dice. What is this going to be? It’s all a risk. Sometimes the risk is absolutely worth it and sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s better then you could have ever imagined and sometimes it’s just something to push through. Sometimes it’s a lot of asking, “are we there yet?!” and not so much enjoying the scenery. And I think it’s ok to say, I’m not interested in the possibility of this experience sucking even if there is just as equal a chance of it being fantastic.

Writing part 1 of this birth story, I cried. Parts of it were so frustrating and disappointing, especially in hindsight. I wish that I had not induced. I wish that I gone of my own accord. There are side effects of pitocin that made recovery more annoying that I was not aware of until I was home and having Kamel google shit. It’s absolutely true that in the end I have a healthy baby and that is the point of all of this, but it’s also true that birth is a monumental life experience and sometimes it lets you down. Fae’s birth was magical and monumental, but mostly I’m just glad it’s over.

18 thoughts on “Fae Was Born, Part 2”

  1. Yay Fae is here! In the end, that’s all that matters, but I absolutely understand what you mean about being disappointed in the experience you had. I only have one child now, but thebirth was some of what you describe (induced, pitocin, being prodded by nurses all the time, but I ended up having a c-section). It still makes me a little sad that I didn’t have a different birth experience. Thank you for sharing your story!

  2. It’s so annoying when nurses push you beyond your comfort level. I know they do it everyday and your experience isn’t special to them but don’t our thoughts/feelings/opinions matter?! If you’re saying you’re going to pass out why couldn’t they just give you a freaking minute?!! So annoying. Glad Fae is healthy and it’s over, sorry it wasn’t everything you hoped it would be 🙁

  3. I loved my birth experience, in spite of not because of the hospital and its staff. In an ideal world I would deliver in a birth center that was attached to a hospital just in case something went wrong. Also, it would be covered by the insurance I pay so much to have. I’m not willing to pay out of pocket and take the risk of needing to take an ambulance in to a hospital.

    I HATED recovery in the hospital. I didn’t sleep longer than 20 minutes. They would come in ONCE AN HOUR ALL NIGHT LONG to check on us, but a different nurse for each of us and at different times. On Day 3 I begged them to stop letting people in my room. Who did I see in the following hour, two nurses, the fucking hospital photographer, and a lactation consultant who I promptly told to get the hell out. My baby was cleared to leave at 8am on day 3 (he was born at 9:30pm on day 1), but my OB was MIA. Finally they let me leave without seeing him at 2pm. I was pacing the room screaming at people to get the fuck out and let me leave. That was nice for all involved, I’m sure.

  4. Thank you so much for writing these stories!

    It’s funny, your recovery experience sounds a lot like ours, but I never had a *good* recovery experience to compare it to, so it hadn’t even occurred to me that there were good recovery experiences out there.

    Also, if you feel comfortable sharing, what were those pitocin side effects you mentioned? I was induced too for our only kid, so I’m just curious. (Again, no other personal experience to compare it to.)

    1. My engorgement was much worse and lasted longer – like 4-5 days vs 2 with Gabriel – and my glands in my armpits swelled up immensely. Very painful. And general crotch aching for a 2 plus weeks. Seriously every time I was like “oh my god how long does this last??” Kamel would say “Welllllll this many days, but longer with pitocin.” Like fuck. It definitely made breast feeding even more painful in the beginning. And just… overall I feel like my recovery is slower this time around. Maybe partly because of second kid, but definitely also because of pitocin.

  5. Oh how so much of this resonates with me. My birth experience was awful, from start to finish. I had induction, a one-sided epidural, an emergency csection by a doctor who was literally on first day of work as an attending OB ever and I had never met (while awake with a one sided epidural), wasn’t allowed to see my baby for three hours afterwards and then had nurses that must have been sisters with yours. I had to beg for pain meds and ask them to please use the work station computers and not the one in my room to chart my vitals at 3am when I had his finally managed to fall asleep. Not having a personal experience to compare it to made me wonder if this was typical. I now realize why woman go into such detail about their “plans”. As a doctor myself I figured the health professionals would just do a good job. We, people who generally think the best of people (you included) seem to have our expectations too high for the world. Disappointment is a bummer way to spend the first moments after big changes. I’m sorry you experienced it too. May your days forward from here with Fae be filled with baby snuggles, little soft hands and feet and fleeting newborn smiles. Thanks for sharing honestly your experience.

    1. It makes me feel so much better than even a surgeon is like … wtf is this bullshit. Because I felt constantly like I was having to be annoying/advocate for myself/putting out the nurses and if you ALSO felt like this whole experience was harder than it needed to be than I feel validated.

      I’m not a big birth plan person. I only have like 2 requests and I’m pretty ok with making decisions as they come (for me it’s no narcotics, and please wipe off my kid before handing them over to me). And yet I still had to call for nurses help constantly for meds and felt generally ignored except when they were bothering my sleeping baby for vitals.

      1. i’ll tell you that as a medical professional, I was embarrassed for the nurses taking care of me. if the nurses I worked with treated my patients the way I was treated I would be mortified. just know that they cannot take away from you the magic that is your new little girl…

  6. In labor we often don’t understand the options that are taken away when new options are presented. For example, a little fentanyl sounds great, but then you can’t get out of bed for at least 30 minutes, and then it’s sometimes harder to cope with contractions, and then you end up with an epidural, which means you can only suck on ice chips and have to be catheterized. I would be interested in reading a post from you about that sort of thing. What did the (necessary) induction mean for you (in terms of pitocin side effects, etc.) in hindsight that you didn’t know beforehand.

    1. This is so so so true about the waterfall effect. One thing leads to another and you don’t always understand the repercussions.

      For me, the induction (as explained to me by my doctor and lots of research on our end) was the best option given my intense discomfort, my rating on the bishop scale, my strep B, the likelihood of a very fast labor, and with the understanding that my induction would be very low intervention. All I got was a small amount of pitocin that slowly increased over the course of 2-3 hours. I was told (which was true) that the whole thing would be as long or shorter than my birth with Gabe. I really didn’t want a long drawn out induction. I wanted an epidural as my experience with it the first time had been so positive, so that wasn’t an issue. But, I didn’t realize that scheduling an induction would be so up in the air and not at all set in stone as far as when it would happen.

      The way I was encouraged to push was really fast and furious. It created several really bad hemorrhoids and a second degree tear. I also couldn’t really FEEL the contractions so I pushed when I was told, which was basically “keep pushing, don’t stop pushing” which I feel like ended up wounding me more than necessary. Leaving me SUPER sore for 2 solid weeks plus. Also my engorgement was more intense and lasted longer and my glands in my armpits swelled immensely to the point of sticking out of my skin noticeably. Super painful. Overall I felt like my recovery this time has been much harder, starting breast feeding was harder and more painful than it was last time, and there is just no way to know what it would have been like without induction and no way for me to fully understand my choices before hand.

  7. I do have one answer for you, on why birthing suites are so cavernous, vs. recovery rooms! It’s for when things go poorly. The first time around I thought we had a lot of people in there, when there were 8 people in the room monitoring his fetal distress. That, it turns out, was nothing. This time, when I started hemorrhaging, there was a huge emergency team, plus the regular newborn team, plus they wheeled in god knows how much equipment before they ran me to the OR. The room was HUGE, and seemed huge during labor and even delivery. But at the end I remember it being packed at capacity. It’s the same reasons OR’s are so big. (And having had to go there THREE TIMES now in two births, because, REALLY?) they’re about 3X the size of a birthing suite… HUGE.

    All that said, I finally got the magical experience, even if it went to hell shortly after, so I’ll take it. Seriously.

  8. What a crappy experience.

    I am so with you on the 2 kids and to really really know that you want 2 before you do it. I had always imagined myself with 2 children and so when I got pregnant again even though we were not trying; I was happy and my husband was happy but man is it hard.

    My first pregnancy I had signs of pre-e the entire time and my midwife watched me like a hawk but it never developed in the end. This time my midwife from the first birth had moved to another state and I just felt like a ball being pushed from one doctor to the next and no one really wanted to coordinate my care and at 38 weeks, I complained about things that had been bothering me for week but ehh end of pregnancy and all that. I truly believed I was being a baby. I was not being monitored for pre-e even though my blood pressure was borderline but the borderline blood pressure and the symptoms that they finally decided to listen to and they sent me to the hospital for some lab work after that appt just to relieve some of my fears and my BP spiked and they ended up inducing the next morning. My 24 hour urine which in my first pregnancy never went above 10 was 1200. 300 is dangerous enough that they deliver at 37 weeks. Pregnancy is just all a risk and after my second birth the midwife that delivered is talking about all the complications (kidney failure etc) if I ever get pregnant again and I’m just like no we are done. I still wonder if my care hadn’t been so bad would it have been caught earlier, before any damage, however minute, was done to my kidneys.

  9. Wow, I understand where you’re coming from. My first birth didn’t go as planned for many reasons and it took a very long time to accept it (I had everything planned out). It’s hard when the medical profession just wants you to move on, get over it, be happy you and the baby are fine. Be glass half full with your experience and shut up. As in, ‘you’ve done this before so you’re on your own. We’ll do our job and you do yours’. This is why I’m days away from my second birth and trying to prepare myself to be okay with a glass half empty birth.

    1. This is a tough one. Going in knowing what to sort of expect as far as expectations is a good tool. But I am hoping that you have an amazing experience!! And of course that YOU are healthy and happy, as well as baby.

  10. FIRST – congrats on Fae’s arrival. I’m sorry it wasn’t the positive experience you wanted and I want to punch your nurses for you, but overall yay for having your little girl in your arms now!

    SECOND – Thank you for writing your thoughts about not forcing the second baby. We have always thought we’d for sure have a second kid. We both really enjoy our siblings and felt we owed it to our daughter to give her a sibling. Recently we’ve been approaching the time where we had always thought we’d start planning for our second kid. Several of our friends that had their first around our daughter have already had, or announced, their second kid. Our families keep asking us when we’re having a second and every time I’m out with friends I feel like they are watching me with baited breath to see if I order a glass of wine.

    BUT we recently had a really good conversation about having another kid. We realized that all the pressure we were feeling to have another baby was entirely external. In reality, we’re not at a point right now where we could afford for a second kid to be in daycare, let alone have me take any kind of a maternity leave. We live far away from family and friends and highly value travel. Emotionally, I’m not at a point where I could positively handle the added hormones in my mental state. And, honestly – and perhaps most importantly, we just don’t feel the need to have another kid. We’re really happy with the way things are. Our kid is thriving and with other kids almost every day of the week. We are content and truly don’t feel that we’re “missing” anyone in our family and we may just end up being a family of three. Only time will tell on that front, but I can tell you that we both feel a huge sense of relief at having made the decisions to just halt our discussions of a second kid.

    We’ve resolved to discuss it again on an annual basis or whenever either of us feels that it may be time to reassess. But until then, we’re going to live and love the life we have. Save our money for trips and meals out and mortgages. Go on the family vacations we want to take now rather than deprive ourselves waiting for our fictional second kid to be old enough to go on trips. Pay down student loans and credit card bills. And I, personally, have not felt less-burdened and more hopeful about what our family future looks like in a long time. It’s great.

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