So, Henry's been born and our families flood in to hold him, etc while K and I are still in shock and I'm covered in vernix and meconium It's not a good look for anyone. I read that you're supposed to try to nurse and get some skin to skin action almost immediately, but there's no way this is happening in this loud, bright room with tons of people and I'm ok with that. I still need a few minutes to process.
(Oh, forgot to mention something. My doctor who delivered Henry also delivered me. I've been seeing her since I was 16 and she was so kind and understanding throughout this whole ordeal considering how freaked I was. When she was done fixing me up, she went over to the warmer to check H over and kept saying how beautiful he was (I think so too) and decided that she needed to wash his hair before our families came in so he would look his best for them (my mom is still her patient too). She took him over to the sink and lovingly washed his hair while my nurse readied me for guests (e.g. put the closed sign over my hoo ha). My nurse and the nursery scrub tech person both came over and said they'd never seen her do that before. I felt kinda special.)
Right, so everyone streams in and there are tears (not mine) and lots of photos, then one by one people head out leaving me, K, Lacey and my nurse. H is swept away to the nursery (I think - hard to remember now) for his once over by that group. Now starts the dirty work. The nurse has to press on my abdomen repeatedly to make sure my uterus is already shrinking and to push out any clots (bodies are amazing, I tell you). It's incredibly painful. Like take your breath away painful. Like I haven't just been through enough and now you gotta do this? And remove the catheter? And pack my hoo ha with ice? Yay! Next, once she's satisfied with all that, it's time to get up and head for the bathroom to learn my new routine before being wheeled upstairs to my postpartum room. I've been on my back for, what, 15 hours or so not counting my time in triage? Ugh. Also, I just had a baby. Double ugh. I'd read about the mesh undies and the super pads and now I was confronted with them in real life. I was afraid to even ask what had happened down there, so I just listened as she went through the supplies (squirt bottle with warm water, witch hazel pads, Dermoplast, two of the biggest pads you've ever seen and mesh underwear) and told me what to do: squirt, wipe, spray and load the mesh with the pads every time I got for like, you know, two weeks. Awesome! Because I'll have so much free time to hang out in the bathroom.
Your new best friend, the sitz bath.
K and L grab our stuff and I'm wheeled up (no way I was walking, no way) up to the room where we'd be staying for the next couple of days. It's then that I realize I am fucking starving. Like beyond ravenous. However, I've heard a lot about taking it easy because the number two sitch is brutal. I throw caution to the wind and L goes to Classic 50s (local Sonic like place, but better) and comes back with a buffet of delicious drive-in food. Oh God, it was so good. We all stuffed our faces until I then realized that I hadn't slept since Saturday night and it was Monday night. The nurses gave me something for pain and I asked if they could bring H in only for feedings that night instead of rooming in so I could get some rest. L headed out and then it was just K and I and everything seemed so surreal I couldn't stand it. Had all of that really just happened? I was in the hospital bed and K pulled out the couch bed, but it was too far from me. I made him drag it closer and I buried my head into him across the divide, sobbing. Oh hormones. We drift off to sleep for about five minutes.
Here's what happens. A variety of nurses wake you up all night to perpetrate various indignities (aka just doing their job). Up first is the nursery lady showing me how to feed a very wiggly, still kind of gooey H. We get a good enough latch and he chows down with a vengeance for a bit, leaving my nip a shell of its former self. That's done and he's whisked away where he can be cared for by professionals for at least a couple of nights before he's released into the wild (our house). Next, I am poked and prodded all night long with iron injections, pain pill administrations, blood pressure checks, nurse pushing super hard on my belly and Henry feedings. K sleeps through all of this as I familiarize myself with early morning TV - I'm now a human TV guide from 1 - 5am. There was a special nurse to make sure I had peed, which I hadn't. She came in three times that night to make me try to go, but I couldn't. Finally she gave up and said I had until 9am the next day before we're talking about another catheter. Awesome! Eventually, I feel the urge and hobble to the bathroom. That's when someone knocks and then opens the door. It's my doctor and she's doing her morning rounds - at 6am? Anyway, we have a lovely conversation as she stands in the bathroom door frame and I'm on the toilet. This is when I realize childbirth really puts your life in a whole different category. Your body is no longer yours, but public property.
Our (million dollar) hospital stay continues with visitors, the best shower ever (like the kind after you've been camping/hiking) feedings, nurse visits, little sleep and terrible food except for one night when K went and got Pei Wei, which was orgasmic at the time. Delicious lo mein with tofu... My stitches made things pretty uncomfortable and I had a hard time getting in and out of bed without the aid of some narcotics, then I felt silly for needing them and for being in bed (it's not like I was sick) and would overdo it then end up back in bed in pain because I am smart. Finally, it was time to go home. Hello terrifying, overwhelming fear! But, we put H in some clothes, loaded him in the car seat and off we went. Simple as that. Too simple...
At home, the completely inconvenient, but necessary bathroom routine continues. The sleeplessness continues as we figure out how to handle (literally, this was day three of holding a baby in oh about 20 years). The walking around feeling like I'm in an alternate universe as I stare at the baby gear littering my house continues. The pain continues. The visitors continue. The delivered meals continue. However, my digestive system has been discontinued. I'd gotten a talking to by my nurse before I was discharged about the whole number two biz. Basically, she said it was going to be awful, but it had to happen by day five and it would be ok. The stitches would hold and the hemorrhoids would heal. Yes, these are things they skip over in the pregnancy books. You are pushing something huge out of a tiny space with all of your might very close to your business end. The result is only logical. Ouch. Also, they had pumped me full of iron and percocet. All of this is a mixture for elimination failure. Day five comes and goes in spite of generous doses of Colace (ladies, start taking that now. NOW!) and other stuff, no dice. I can be cool about it now, but seriously, I was beyond miserable. That plus stress of a baby, no sleep, stiches, sore boobs and anything else you can think of just about put me over the edge. It was a unique combo of physical and mental pain that I hope to never experience again. Finally, K's mom, an RN, laid the smack down. She said after each kid, she'd had to, uh, manually get things going. Oh God. Off she went to get rubber gloves and some lube and K poured me some whiskey, my first post-preg drink (not how I imagined it). Fast forward to me feeling human again and never wanting to drink whiskey again.
After one solid week of hell, I was feeling much better in all departments. Six weeks out now, my body is feeling almost back to normal. I'm back to pre-preg weight, back in my old clothes, my hips have kind of pushed back together and my belly skin is slowly returning to its previous state (let's not talk about what that was, though). The moral of the story is, start taking Colace weeks before your due date, explain to your partner that you might be out of commission in the getting out of bed to get the baby department and they need to help with that, use Lanolin every time you nurse and take it easy on yourself. No one's really going to give a shit if there's dog hair on your couch when they come over. They only care about the wee one. So don't break your back and blow out your stitches trying to clean. Trust.