Tuesday, 28 April 2015

3 weeks in

Holy shit.  I've had a baby for three weeks.  They let me take him home from the hospital and no one's realized they've made a terrible mistake and called or sent someone to take him back.  How is that even possible?  I know I'm almost 40 years old, but a lot of the time I barely feel like a grown up myself and now I'm in charge of a whole other person?  That's screwed up.

So, you ask, how's it been going?  Remarkably well, would be my reply.  Q is proving to be a ridiculously easy baby.  I'm not trying to brag; both M and I are genuinely befuddled at how we got so lucky.  For the first couple of weeks Q was basically just asleep most of the time, to the point that we were setting alarms to wake us up at night to make sure he fed every three hours.  Once he regained his birth weight, our pediatrician gave us the OK to drop that back to every four hours, although since then we've found that he generally wakes himself every 3 and a half hours or so.  All of this means that we've been getting long-ish stretches of uninterrupted sleep at night, which everyone told us we wouldn't.  I feel like I'm jinxing us by even telling you about it, but there it is!

Can't you see I'm sleeping?  NO PHOTOS!

We've also had the added bonus of having family around to help out with stuff around the house.  M's mom spent the first few days home from the hospital with us, and then my mom arrived for two weeks.  It's been awesome not having to worry about dusting or laundry or getting dinner, or conversely having someone look after Q while I sneak away to take care of some chores.  Not gonna lie, I'm a little nervous about how I'm going to handle things once we're finally left on our own after my mom leaves this week!

Breastfeeding has also been going pretty smoothly, apart from the to-be-expected initial nipple soreness.  So far I've managed to stick exclusively to breastfeeding, and my supply seems to be decent enough that Q is gaining weight like he should.  I've read more than enough blogs to know that I'm extremely lucky to be able to do this at all, so here's a huge shout out to my ta-tas for doing their thang.  I am however wondering when the magical fat-melting part of breastfeeding starts.  While I lost about 22 pounds pretty quickly after birth, it seems like I've plateaued now with 10 more to go to get to my pre-pregnancy weight.  Add to that the fact that my FUPA has now been replaced with a full-on c-section scar belly overhang, and there's a lot of work to do once I get the go-ahead to start working out again.

Of course things haven't been all rainbows and unicorn farts, and I don't want to pretend like it is.  Q does get fussy at times, and I get frustrated because I have no idea what he wants.  I also had a major crazy hormonal breakdown about a week postpartum where I essentially lost it at M because he is a hoarder packrat collector and I was sick of looking at piles of his stuff now that we also have baby clutter to deal with.  Then I bawled because I felt bad for getting mad at him, since he'd basically been my man-servant for days while I parked myself on the couch with a baby on my boob.  Yay for violent mood swings!

All in all, though, I'm mostly just amazed and overwhelmed by how lucky I feel right now.  And I say that despite being projectile-pooped on at 3am this morning.  Because...this face!

Thursday, 16 April 2015

My douchebag cervix: A birth story

Good thing I never bothered to write that birth plan.  Then again, if I had, it would have looked something like this:
  1. Push baby out of vagina.
  2. Failing #1, get baby out safely by whatever means necessary.
  3. Oh yeah, and try to make sure mom is OK too.
In the immortal words of Meatloaf, two out of three ain't bad.

The day before Easter I was 8 days overdue.  Since my OB didn't want me going more than 10 days over, and some inductions can take up to 48 hours from start to finish, at 8:30am on Saturday we headed to the hospital to get this show on the road.

Unfortunately, while I was basically 100% effaced I still hadn't started dilating at all, so I received an application of prostaglandin gel on my cervix in the hopes that we could get something going. I was monitored for an hour during which baby Q remained happy and I had two minor contractions, about half an hour apart.  The doctors seemed pleased that things were getting started, so M and I were sent home and told to come back in 6 hours for another dose of gel unless I went into true labour before then.

Of course, as soon as we left the hospital it felt like everything stopped.  Despite going for a long walk, I didn't have any more contractions and was pretty dejected as we headed back to the hospital at 5:00pm.  When I was hooked up to the monitors again, however, it appeared that I was in fact having fairly regular, very minor contractions that I was just barely starting to feel.  I was still only about 1cm dilated, but given the contractions I was having the OB felt that another application of gel would be risking over-stimulation of my uterus.  She put in a dose of Cervadil instead, which is basically like a medicated tampon that she explained they could pull out at any time if things got too intense.  They told us we wouldn't be going home again before baby arrived, so we settled in for the long haul and I was hooked up for another couple of hours of monitoring.

By about 10pm things had really kicked into gear, with the contractions becoming more frequent and painful.  At one point I was bouncing on a birthing ball as M was laughing at Saturday Night Live, and I distinctly remember feeling very resentful that he seemed to be having so much fun while I clearly was not.  My contractions were getting pretty painful and were coming every 2 minutes and lasting about a minute each, so it felt like things were going in the right direction, but I had no idea if I'd actually dilated any further.  I felt like if I had progressed at least a few centimetres, I could gut it out a bit longer before I got an epidural.  But if I still hadn't dilated at all, then I had a long way to go and I would definitely need an epi so that I could get some sleep.

Well, I've previously referred to my uterus as an asshole.  Turns out I should have been directing more venom towards my cervix, which was proving to be a complete and utter douchebag.  I was still at 1cm.  I believe my exact response was to shout "Oh for fuck's sake!!"

While doing the internal exam, the OB asked me if I'd ever had any procedures done on my cervix.  I replied that yes, I'd previously had a number of colposcopies and a Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP) to remove some precancerous cells a few years ago.  Since this type of procedure can cause some scar tissue which is tougher than regular cervical tissue, the OB recommended trying to sweep my membranes to see if that would help.  If you recall, this is the same procedure my regular OB had declined to do the previous Monday since I wasn't dilated enough and she thought it would be extremely painful for me.  Turns out, she hadn't lied.  The sweep sucked.  But it worked to a degree, and in the space of 5 minutes I had dilated to 3cm.  They took out the Cervadil, and I decided to hold off on an epidural a little longer in the hopes that I could remain mobile and dilate some more.

Bad idea.  The membrane sweep just made my contractions much more intense.  I tried to focus on breathing, but within half an hour I had vomited from the pain and had decided that an epidural was the way to go from here on out.  I have to admit that I was disappointed, not because I was trying to be any kind of hero and go completely unmedicated, but because I really thought my pain threshold was higher than 3cm dilation.  I had hoped to hold out longer, but agreed with the nurse when she said it was probably time to call for the anesthesiologist.

This is the part where things kind of started to go off the rails.  The anesthesiologist numbed my back, and inserted the epidural painlessly.  However, before he even had a chance to begin the medication I started to feel woozy.  I told the nurse I was feeling lightheaded.  The next thing I knew, both the nurse and M were snapping their fingers in front of my face and calling my name.  My blood pressure had apparently plummeted and I had passed out for a few moments.  As I came to, I puked again.  My bed was quickly reclined and I was given a dose of ephedrine through my IV to get my blood pressure back up.  I also got a squirt of oral nitroglycerin under my tongue and an oxygen mask over my face.  I somewhat nervously noticed that there were now something like 8 medical personnel in the room, whereas before there had been only two.

Once the epidural kicked in I started feeling a lot better, despite the fact that the monitors showed me as having had 6 contractions in less than 9 minutes.  The problem at this point now became Q, whose heart rate (which had been in the happy 150s all afternoon) had leapt up into the 180 to 200 range (probably in response to the meds they gave me for my low blood pressure, I later learned).  The OB told me that I was now almost 6cm dilated, and recommended breaking my water.  It came out stained with meconium, which they said was not surprising given that a) Q was overdue and b) he'd just gone through a period of minor distress.  But wait...all of a sudden I was only 3cm dilated again!  The OB said that the amniotic sac had probably been pressing against my cervix and that, once the pressure was released, my "LEEP cervix" (as it was now being called with some disdain by the doctors and nurses) had sprung back in like a rubber band.  Like I said, my cervix was being a total d-bag.

It was looking like it was going to be a long time before I dilated enough to make any attempt at pushing, and in the meantime Q's heart rate continued to stay elevated.  While it wasn't dangerously high, the OB advised that it was essentially like he was running a marathon in my womb; the longer his heart rate stayed high, the more stressed he would become.  The doctors decided they wanted to do a procedure that would take a small prick of blood from Q's scalp to see how much lactate was building up in his system.  If it was normal, I could continue to labour but if not, they would recommend "another way to meet the baby".  They studiously avoided using the word "c-section", but unless my hospital had figured out a way to transport babies from the womb a la Star Trek, we all knew what that meant.

Unfortunately, my douchebag cervix wasn't about to start being cooperative now.  After about 10 minutes of shoving a little tube up my vajayjay in a futile attempt to isolate my cervix, the OB waved the white flag and admitted defeat.  My cervix was still far too high and apparently tilted to the left to allow them to do the procedure.  Since Q's heart rate had been elevated for a long time and they had no way of accurately determining how stressed he was, they recommended a c-section.  At that point I had been staring at the fetal heart monitor for over an hour, silently but unsuccessfully willing Q's heart rate to slow down to normal, and I just needed to know that he was going to come out of me OK.  M and I agreed to proceed with the c-section.  

I'll admit that this is the part where I cried a little, partially because I had been hoping for the quicker recovery time of a vaginal birth but more so because I felt responsible for causing all of this stress on poor little Q's heart.  Everything had started to go downhill when I had requested the epidural.  If only I'd been tougher, if I'd been able to hold out against the pain, none of this would be happening...but it was, and I was soon on my way to the operating room.

There was no immediate urgency to my c-section, so everyone was pretty chill and calm while getting ready.  The c-section itself was weird because I could feel all the pulling and tugging they were doing (some of which felt pretty rough, since Q hadn't descended at all and it felt like they had to yank him out of my ribcage), but there was no actual pain and M helped by keeping me focused on him throughout.  At 4:30am they pulled Q out to a chorus of "oh, that's a big baby!" (8 pounds 11 ounces) and showed him to us briefly before whisking him away to the warming table to be checked.  I let out a few huge sobs when I heard him cry, and then urged M to go be with him while they stitched me up.

Since Q had been swimming in meconium, he had inhaled a little of it and needed some suction and oxygen to clear his lungs.  The hospital had a video camera over the warming table so that I could watch what was happening on a screen over the surgical table, which was awesome but also stressful since I could only see what they were doing but couldn't hear why or how he was responding.  M came back to give me updates, and told me that though Q was doing well they'd be taking him to the resuscitation room for a quick check before he could come with us.  On the way out the nurses brought Q to me for a quick look and cuddle, and then he and M were gone and it was just me, shivering uncontrollably on the surgical table while the doctors put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

When they were done, I was wheeled to the recovery ward where I tried to stay awake while waiting for my husband and baby.  They arrived around 7am, and I was finally able to hold Q skin to skin and put him to my breast, which he took like a champ.  Just about 24 hours after the whole thing started, at 8:30am on Easter Sunday my new little family was brought up from recovery and installed in our room in the post-natal ward.  To call it the most emotional, terrifying, amazing day of my life would be a hell of an understatement. 

Oh yeah, and those of you who told me that all my donor egg fears would disappear the second I held this little guy in my arms?  You were absolutely right.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Boy, meet world

Our little Easter Bunny made his entrance in the wee hours of Sunday morning.  Not even remotely close to the way I'd hoped it would go, but that's a story for another blog post.

Everyone, say hi to baby Q.  In the interest of maintaining anonymity I'm not going to post his name, but think of a TV show about a certain medicine woman and you've got it.  There were also a few correct guesses on my nursery post, if you're not a trivia kind of person.

I've discovered I hate trying to blog from my phone, so the rest will have to wait.  Suffice it to say that the last 48 hours have been a wild ride and I'm still trying to grasp the fact that this perfect little creature is finally here.  Words fail me.  I'm his mommy.  He's my son.  What!?!?

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

The waiting game

One way or another, Chalupa Batman will be here by this weekend.  

At my first post-date appointment on Monday, my OB did an internal check and observed that although my cervix is "very thin", I'm barely a fingertip dilated.  As a result, she said that doing a membrane sweep would be pretty uncomfortable and that I wouldn't like her very much if she tried it.  I never thought I'd be disappointed to hear that someone would not be shoving a finger up my cervix in an attempt to manually pry it open, but there you have it.

With the Easter long weekend coming up, my OB's clinic is closed on Friday and Monday so we were looking at going a really long time before I could be monitored again.  That made me nervous, simply because I know that once I pass 41 weeks on Friday the risks to CB from staying put start to rise.  My OB seemed to feel the same, and suggested induction by Saturday if I haven't gone into labour on my own by then.  Both M and I were totally OK with that.  While we'd both vastly prefer this to happen on its own, we've been through way too much to take any chances now.

In the meantime, we've tried just about every single "natural" method out there to encourage labour, short of me taking any stinky herbs or diarrhea-inducing oils.  Sex, walking, spicy food, pineapple, nipple stimulation, driving on a bumpy road (well, that one was unintentional and mainly due to winter potholes and Toronto's shoddy road maintenance)...we've given them all a shot.  Sometimes several shots.

Giggity giggity.

So we wait.  And I get to use one of my favourite Simpsons quotes of all time:

Sadly, my Hungry Hungry Hippos game is long gone, so in lieu thereof M and I have been killing time playing Grand Theft Auto V.  Which, now that I think about it, may have something to do with convincing CB to stay in utero.  I can just hear him now:  There's no way I'm going out there.  They yell and curse A LOT.  And I'm pretty sure I just heard gunfire!!  Eff that noise, it's safer in here.