We woke up relatively rested to a nurse wheeling a hungry Belén in her bassinet to our room. Including this morning feeding, she fed three times that first night. Each time, despite the fact that we were sleepy, it was amazing and I loved every minute of it. Some of the nurses had provided breastfeeding advice when they brought her in, but Andy also stepped up as my built in lactation nurse who I nick-named Señor Leche after the lactation leagues real name “La Leche”. He was great at recognizing a good latch and helping me get her on correctly. The nurses also helped with advice about sucking out baby boogers with the blue syringe. Our poor baby sounded really congested when she breathed due to either inflammation from when they sucked the fluid out of her lungs immediately after the c-section or from boogers, we were not sure. The nursing staff recommended we didn’t suck too much in case the issue was the inflammation of which, additional saline solution and sucking would only aggravate. We quickly became used to our daughter’s breathing sounding loud and often snorty. Sometimes when she was ready to feed she sounded like a cute little pig, breathing excitedly while snorting due to her congestion in her nose. Since babies do not breathe through their mouth unless there is a problem, she couldn’t resort to mouth breathing like adults (like me) do. We hoped that her nose would clear up on its own.
We ordered breakfast from the hospital menu and my mom called and agreed to bring me a smoothie when she visited later that morning. The morphine was starting to wear off and I was started on Darvocet. I definitely felt like I had gone through a major abdominal surgery the day before. As the time between dosages would expire, I knew I needed more medicine to take the pain away. They also started me on what was essentially Motrin for swelling. I wanted to reduce the drugs to the bear minimum but found myself asking for full doses of almost everything until late Thursday and Friday.
The incision from the surgery looked really good. It was very swollen in that area as well as others and the doctor later explained that I had lost less blood in the c-section than you typically do in a vaginal birth so my kidneys were working overtime to process it and turn it into urine. In the meantime, it would be pooling and causing swollen areas. The external incision did not hurt as bad as the internal one that sat at the bottom of my uterus. It especially hurt on the left side where the “knot” was. At first I didn’t realize there was an internal incision different from the external one so I didn’t understand why my skin above that area was so sensitive to the touch.
Andy was really good about trying to minimize the number of visitors. I needed rest and we didn’t want to have too many people coming in and out all day long. As it was, we still had quite a few people visit, but it was only close friends and immediate family. We did get to the point where we looked forward to our evenings alone with the baby so we could relax and bond. We love every minute of getting to know Belén.
They had taken my catheter out Wednesday morning but then I wasn’t able to go to the bathroom on my own so they had to empty my bladder with a one-time catheter and when I still couldn’t go, they ultimately had to put the catheter back in for another 24 hours. These procedures alone made me glad that we didn’t have a full visitor calendar since I never knew when the nurses were going to need to come in and perform them. With a bladder full of over 1.2 liters of fluid (twice), they never seemed to come soon enough. Finally by Thursday, when they took the third catheter out, I was able to pee on my own. It really felt like a joyous occasion and I think I over-shared with the visitors we had. I felt like a little kid, “hey guess what, I can pee on my own now.” I found it ironic that my two-day old daughter had better control of her bladder and bowels than I did. In talking to the doctor later, he thinks that the spinal worked a little too well and caused my bladder to stay numb longer than it should have. Anyway, I got through it and can now happily control my GI system on my own.
The first night in the hospital, the room seemed noisy because I was hooked up to so many machines. The IV device had a constant sound and then it would beep loudly from time to time when my medicine or fluids ran out. I would have to push the nurse button and wait for someone to stop the beeping. Besides being off of the good drugs, I was glad when they were able to take me off of the IV machine and just keep a “heplock” in my arm. The other noisy device was the one continuing to squeeze my legs every 20 seconds or so. It continuously squeezed one leg, paused and then squeezed the other leg. My legs got sweaty while I was sleeping and I wanted to rip those things off, they itched so bad. They had to keep them on until I was able to get up on my own and walk around which happened later than I would have thought. Finally, I was thrilled when they removed them and I was no longer hooked up to anything mechanical. The room was more quiet and it seemed like I was closer to having my body back to myself.
The absolute best feeling came a day later when not only was I no longer hooked up to machines but my catheter was out and I was able to take a shower. I truly felt like a new woman after that and I appreciate Dr. Hodges approach to sewing me up which allowed me to take a shower or bath as soon as I was ready to. He somehow hides the stitches under the skin and uses glue on the top. Every time a nurse would check the incision, they would comment on how well they liked how Hodges closes the incision. After laying in a bed and sweating for more than two days, my skin felt itchy and gross and the shower felt like one of the best things in the world!
Andy changed most of Belén’s diapers while we were in the hospital. The initial meconium diapers lived up to their reputation as road tar and Andy found it very difficult to remove the black substance from all of the creases of our baby. Unlike later feces, meconium is composed of materials ingested during the time the infant spends in the womb. The diapers produced during the time where Belén was drinking colostrum were more “guacamole-like.” Since the catheter caused me to stay an extra day in the hospital, I got to experience my milk coming in which began to change Belén’s stool to its current “mustard, seedy” concentration.
Not only did my milk come in, but it came in with a vengeance and continues to engorge my breasts. The nurse on shift during our last day in the hospital helped me understand what to do with engorged breasts but I am still working through this challenge. The good thing is that Belén has plenty to drink. I am looking forward to my body figuring out that she doesn’t need quite so much though. I never knew they could be so big. I am sure I could get a job at Hooter’s.
Andy captured some great photos while we at the hospital, much of which are posted in the “Newborn Belén” photo album. In the afternoon the light coming in the window was perfect and afforded some wonderful shots.
Even at the end of the hospital stay, we still had a hard time believing she is our child. Will we ever get used to this? She is so beautiful and special.
Too Much Information
Remember, this is the section you should not read if you do not want to know the gross parts of pregnancy and child birth….
In the middle of the night on Tuesday, actually it was more like 2-3 am on Wednesday, the nurse and nursing assistant had to walk me to the bathroom since my legs were not fully working and strong yet. They gave me a bottle to wash down there since that is where a lot of the excess blood exited. I had always wondered where all of the excess blood you produce when you are pregnant goes. Apparently I will have about a four to six week period. Fun. The maternity pads in the hospital were enormous, but at first, especially, they were needed. Breastfeeding expedites the contracting of the uterus by releasing a hormone called oxytocin which causes the uterus to contract and also minimize bleeding. It is also interesting how especially at first breastfeeding would make me very sleepy (as it does for Belén too.) This is caused by the release of a hormone called prolactin which “relaxes the mother and makes her feel more nurturing towards her baby” (according to wikipedia.) Such a simple yet complicated and amazing mechanism.
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