*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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.