Physical memories of IVF

In the last couple of days, there’s been all sorts of little things that triggered my memories of.. everything in the last few years.

I was clearing and organizing my pile of medical documents. The bills/receipts from my fertility clinic – an inch thick. And another inch of test results and information from them. All my other medical documents combined are about the same quantity. It was a sobering reminder of even with all my sleep deprivation, it took so much to get to this point.

One of baby’s outfits was a gift that my friend gave when we were first pregnant – last March when it turned out to be an ectopic pregnancy. I had been debating whether or not to use it for baby A*. On one hand it seems a bit morbid. On the other, it’s a beautiful one-piece and why waste it. He did wear it this week (and promptly had a massive blowout so most of the white is now yellow). So now memories of last spring are taken over by memories of poop. I suppose that’s a good thing?

I know I shouldn’t compare but this year would have been massively depressing if things hadn’t worked out. About 80% of the friends I have that’s marriage announced a pregnancy or baby this year. Some were with their second kid. With some, I have no idea if they went through struggles of their own. Others I know they didn’t. Not that I’m not incredibly grateful for baby himself but I am relieved that I didn’t go through this year while under more treatments.

The remaining 20% .. well, some are close enough friends that they mildly gauge our openness to answering questions. We’re quite open with most people about IVF though, for the most part, we keep it super short (“Baby A* was an IVF baby”). Some of this is to normalize treatments. Some is that neither of us are the type to obfuscate. At any rate, a couple of friends asked us how long it took to conceive baby. For the record, they were asking because they and their wives are thinking about starting families and they wanted to gauge what they should prepare for (funny that this came from the male halves of the couples). My answer of “3 years” took them aback. And then I went into the probabilities and how common infertility is and what to watch out for. A short summary of the shittiness of the last few years. One had known about a lot of it. The other was surprised I think at how much can happen without others knowing.

I feel like my default answer to friends asking about conception related stuff is to point them to “The Impatient Woman’s Guide to Getting Pregnant” and to feel free to ask if they have any questions/issues/want to talk. I don’t know if that’s the best way. On one hand, I want to let others know that issues are common and there are safe spaces to talk about them/learn about them if they need. On the other.. well, face it, most of these couples will get pregnant in a couple of months.

Hubby and I are starting to talk about long-term finances again. It’s something we’ve put off for years – I’ve never known when we would need a sudden influx of thousands of dollars of cash so we’ve kept most of our savings as liquid cash. And it’s kinda a shock to realize that we can move past that. I no longer have to save for IVF. At this point, I don’t know if we’ve decided on having another child. But if we do, we’ll use the rest of the insurance covered cycles and if that doesn’t work, that’s that. It wouldn’t be ideal but I don’t think I’d be at the same sense of desperation of throwing all our resources at it.

In some ways, I think I’ve moved past things. I can look upon all these and feel like a chapter in my story is over. Thank God. I might wish that things had been easier but I can’t complain with the end results. In others, well, I’ll carry my story and experiences with me. And I still feel a pang when I hear of a easy-to-achieve pregnancy of why was it so hard for me. But baby’s here and he’s strong and active and growing so fast so on some level, it doesn’t matter.

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Breastfeeding

I’ve been wanting to write about so many things for a while but honestly, I’m out of energy most days. I have 1 week left of maternity leave and I have no idea how I’m going to have the energy to deal with a full day of work. And its been nice being in a baby bubble and I’m rather sad to leave it. Still, I know that going back to work is the right decision for me, even if I wish leave was a bit longer. (I hate the family leave policies in this country – they’re ridiculously backward and callous.)

Anyways, I digress. So I’ve been breastfeeding without really thinking about it – that was the default choice and I figured that if I could, it’s better. I didn’t really have much expectations or set ideas – if we need formula fine. If bf-ing is too hard/painful/low supply, supplementing is fine. I will say that I haven’t been a huge fan of it. Supply has been ok. It’s not painful anymore. But it has been making me feel rather.. trapped by another being’s demands.

We’ve largely been lax about certain things. Because of the jaundice hospital stay, I very quickly got comfortable with the breast pump. And formula for baby. When we came home, we decided to go with what’s already been started. So Hubby takes one of the night feeds while I get to sleep through that. Of course baby’s cycles are still so short, that really just means that I get a 3 hr stretch instead of 1 or 1.5 hr. Even with that, I’ve been feeling so restricted with constant demands. And I haven’t been particularly enjoying it or feeling like it’s bonding baby and me. I’ve been thinking of weaning from breastmilk earlier or keeping it to just a couple of nursing sessions a day.

For the last week, we’ve been pretending that I’m on a work schedule – I pump in the daytime and Hubby or one of my parents gives him the bottle. Baby gets used to that many bottles a day and I get used to the pumping schedule and we all work out the logistics of thawing/storing.

Funnily enough, I’m now finding that I like my sessions with baby. It’s something that only I can give. And he’s starting to interact with me (though its still usually a “what the hell are you doing and why am I still hungry??” look). And even if I completely stop nursing, he still needs food every couple of hours so someone still needs to be up. The long and short of it is that I don’t know how long I’ll continue and for now, I’m making the decision one month at a time. And for now, it’s working for us.

Some dreams do come true

For as long as I remember, I wanted kids. I don’t know that I saw myself as a mom but I did see myself as part of a family. I would imagine myself baking with children. Or reading with them. Or just cuddling with them.

I haven’t talked much about religion here for multiple reasons but for background

One of the little things that I looked forward to was celebrating a particular festival of ours – Krishna Jayanthi. I haven’t talked much about religion for various reasons. Culturally, Hubby and I are Hindu. This particular festival celebrates the birth of Krishna who is often worshiped (adored?) as a baby and child. And as a child, sweets are a guilty pleasure. One of the traditions as part of that is to draw little footprints with rice flour from the door to the puja area where there will be piles of sweets so that baby Krishna can come through the door and follow the footprints to the sweets. If there’s ever a child in the house, we use their feet to make the footprints.

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We haven’t celebrated this festival for several years for many reasons. This year, we have too many things to be thankful for and rejoice in. And I had always imagined my baby walking to make the footprints. How could I not celebrate it this year? And his name is another name for Krishna. Behold baby’s beautiful footprints. Basically baby hated it – maybe the paste was too cold or maybe he didn’t like us forcing his feet in different directions.

Still I like how this captured the imperfect beauty of life – maybe things didn’t happen quite how I expected but this is real and present and all the imperfections are part of our path.

Flakiness

I’m an over planner. I’ve grown to realize that I’m most comfortable and least stressed when I have planned out things well. It does consume extra mental effort cycles but usually the results are worth it. Before the baby came, I spent ages setting up the nursery and buying everything that I thought we’d need in the first few weeks — from diapers to medicines to clothes and so on. I think that’s when Hubby finally appreciated my planning skills – all he had to do was ask “where is <something>?” and I’d go “in the second shelf, on the left”. Of course, I can’t (and don’t try) plan baby’s schedule to that degree but there’s a certain schedule that seems to work for us. Hubby is completely the opposite – he never plans and ends up compensating with more physical manpower when needed. We do have regular arguments about this but largely, I’ve made peace with my role in our relationship as planner and his as the labor needed when things go off-script.

What I really really can’t stand is when people change their plans (which involve us) and then there’s a whole host of dependencies that are drastically affected (and they’re oblivious). In this case, it’s my in-laws.

I don’t know how to describe my relationship with them – they’re very nice and affectionate people but things regularly happen with them that piss me off. It could be that they don’t even realize that they’re comments/behavior are having that effect or that they think that we’re close enough. The current set of issues is a fairly long story.

Back in Feb/Mar, they basically said that they wanted to see the baby and they wanted to come in August. They’re nice people but I did not want my in-laws around when I was exhausted and bleeding and recovery and trying to establish my own relationship with my child. So many reasons I didn’t want them to come right after he was born — I was worried they’d take over my husband’s role (that’s basically how it played out with his brother’s family though in that case, it was more like the husband did nothing so my mother-in-law stepped in to fill the void). They have particular opinions when it comes to religion that I didn’t want to entertain. I didn’t want to deal with their advice/opinions about diet/practices/etc. Also in our culture, the standard practice is for the girl’s parents to come out to help for the first several months and the boy’s to help after that. It’s not that I didn’t want them to visit but I wanted them to come in the November or so when Hubby and I were more used to things.

This led to a ton of arguments between Hubby and me. My stance was basically that them coming in November is actually useful for us because my parents make their annual trip to India then for my grandfather’s remembrance ceremony. Hubby’s was basically that they want to come see their grandson. They didn’t want to come in November because it’s too cold (we have to keep telling them that there’s heat in the house which for some reason they don’t seem to understand). Anyways, after all the arguments, we booked tickets for them to come in August. So then my dad planned a trip to India in that same time frame so he could get some work done there.

Said trip of theirs got canceled (for legitimate reasons – my father in law had a minor surgery so he can’t travel for a few months). Health reasons – absolutely a good reason to cancel. But his mom wants to come on her own except she’s not committing to a timeline and my dad was nice enough to volunteer to come with her for company but he needs to book his ticket soon and can’t indefinitely wait on her. Anyways, that’s one big mess.

The part that did annoy me with their cancellation is then they ‘suggested’ that we visit in December. I am not at all sure I want to do that. The logistics of traveling with a 5 month old are daunting. I’m not sure if he’ll have enough of his vaccinations. Plus, I don’t know if I’ll have vacation time. Or the energy – India trips are never particularly relaxing for me.

The other part of this is we have been planning for my parents and hubby’s parents to be our childcare for the first year. There are various reasons behind this choice including Hubby completely dropping the ball on looking at daycares (and there’s a long waitlist) and savings. So we figured my parents will do ~6 months and his another 6 (both sets of parents have indicated a willingness and desire to spend this time).

In a conversation a couple of weeks ago, his dad basically said “We’re thinking of coming for at most 3 months next summer. Any longer and we’ll get bored.” Bored??!! If you’re bored, you’re clearly not contributing enough. But this all leads to other issues that we have to resolve because then my parents have to provide coverage (or we pray that the daycare waitlist is short).

The thing that’s been frustrating me about dealing with them is it feels like their decisions are based on solely their desires with our needs not coming into play at all. It doesn’t even seem like it occurs to them in any fashion (even though, in certain cases, we’ve been pretty clear about that).

I’m learning to not depend on them and instead figure out childcare between daycare and my parents. If they come, great. If not, whatever.

More than a month!

I’ve been super flaky about posting – I keep meaning to and then just get too drained and tired to contemplate writing. There’s a bunch I want to rant about but I’m going to save that for a different post and keep this one (relatively) happy with random little stories from the last several weeks that I want to remember:

  • When we were bringing baby home from the hospital, I couldn’t find my sandals. We thought that it was in one of the bags that was already packed and loaded into the car. At that point, I was so exhausted and tired that the thought of unpacking and searching those bags made me want to cry. So I just wore socks to walk through the hospital and to the car.
  • We’ve started learning to distinguish baby’s cries. There’s basically 2 – “I’m hungry” and “I need to poop”
  • This morning I heard Hubby go “damn, I dropped my clothes” right after he came out from the shower. I didn’t think it was a big deal – just pick it up and wear them. Turns out that we keep a basin filled with baby’s pooped and peed upon clothes to soak until the next laundry load. And guess where his clothes fell…
  • There’s been a couple of times now that baby poops during his diaper change. The last time it happened, poop got on the changing pad, flew onto the carpet and overall it was a mess. I wasn’t the one doing the changing so I just ended up cackling at Hubby.
  • I can eat like a semi-normal person again! So of course, I end up having a scoop of ice cream each day. And realized that the ice cream is far healthier for me than (among other things) croissants and frappacinos.
  • We found a mouse in the apartment. When Hubby stepped on it (he spent the next several days shuddering in horror). We then cordoned off that room for the rest of the night and the next morning started figuring out how to tackle it. We ended up finding where it was, putting a cardboard box over it so it couldn’t escape while Hubby went to all the local shops trying to find traps. Eventually we got hold of the super to help take care of it.
  • When people said that babies are expensive, I assumed it was just the big ticket items. But no, it turns out that there’s a lot of smaller items that I keep finding to be usual and buying. The latest purchase — a stroller strappy thing to hold coffee cups.
  • Baby’s now over a month old! We celebrated with a cupcake and ordering in.

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(Im)Perfect Lives

I finally got around to sharing our happy news on Facebook – nothing about infertility/IVF, just a simple post introducing baby.

Afterwards, I told one of my friends, “I finally put up an obnoxious, my life is perfect FB post.” Because Facebook is so carefully curated and really only shows the positive in anyone’s lives. I’m very well aware of the heartache and struggles behind the joyful baby photos. And so are very close friends. But to most people, I know it’ll look like I have this perfect happy-dappy life. I think also, with age, I’ve learnt how to spin a life story into sounding amazing.

I can’t actually blame Facebook for this phenomena of people only sharing their happy stuff and hiding/minimizing/demeaning the struggles. Even before, most people only ever showed only the best side of their lives. I suppose the blame to Facebook is the scale at which it takes place now.

Still, the last few years have made me more aware of people’s hidden stories. I now assume that there’s more going on behind the picture perfect foreground that you see.

Baby A*: Week 3

Three weeks into parenthood, we’re starting to get the hang of it. Hubby and I are both still rather sleep deprived. Having my parents around has been an amazing help – they watch baby during some of the day cycles so we can nap. And they’re the ones keeping the house running – cooking, groceries, etc.

Our achievements of the week: we went on our first non-doctor outing! Just to a local coffee shop but it was a nice change of pace (even if I did find it so tiring that I came home and promptly crashed). And Hubby and I watched a movie together! (at home with breaks to nurse/burp/change baby).

Baby A* is thriving. He passed his 2 week check-up with flying colors! From 6lb 15oz at birth to 7lb 3oz by day 17. Though the check-up rather felt like more of a test for us than him. He has relatively clean 2.5-3.5 hr cycles now (well.. sorta. Out of the 8 or 10 feeding cycles a day, about 80% of them are clean ‘wake up, eat, poop, change diaper, eat some more, sleep’ cycles. Sometimes he ends up fussing or crying when he needs to poop and can’t. And we’re learning that during his awake cycle, when he’s active, he gets hungry after an hour. Tummy time is hard work!

He’s also so strong! He lifts his head a ton (during tummy time and when we’re burping him). He’s managed to roll over from tummy to back multiple times now. He did the superman yoga pose yesterday during tummy time. It’s so cute to see all his expressions — he looks at the world with such wonder and awe. I can almost hear him thinking “Woah, what is that?”. Most of the time, it’s the plain white wall.

It so comforts my heart to see his strength and to see him leaping over milestones. So many times I’ve wondered how fair it is of us to fight nature for our own selfish desires and whether we made the right choices. We fought nature to conceive him, to carry him, to bear him. And the whole pregnancy I was so so worried about the effects of all the complications that might carry over to him. Would there be some residual effect of all the IVF meds and hormones? Of the sugar levels? Of whatever the hell was going on with the liver?

Seeing him here, in the world, strong and healthy and generally acting like a normal baby — it gives my infertility-bruised heart so much peace to know that despite everything, we somehow managed to bring a perfect little human into this world.

Post-partum thoughts on my body

  • All the effort I put into diet and exercise to handle the gestational diabetes – turned out to be worth it. I made it all the way through without insulin. Made it through L&D without insulin. Gained 15 lbs through pregnancy. At 10 days post-partum, I’m a pound below my pre-pregnancy weight.
  • But my shape is completely different – I still have a tummy and now, tons of stretch marks.
  • I have no idea if sugars are under control now because I eat something every couple of hours (and at night, a glass of milk or smoothie when he nurses). But the couple of measures I took seem ok.
  • GD diet has gone byebye for now. Some things I’m still doing — the smoothies for instance. But meals are way carbier. And I’m eating at least one sweet snack a day. Part of it is just sheer needing more carbs and energy. Part is being too tired to deal right now. But I learnt the lessons I needed and I can get back to it when I’m in slightly better shape.
  • Postpartum recovery wasn’t too painful. After an initial dose of norco, I didn’t want or need anymore. After that was ibuprofen and tylenol. The latter of which I scaled off in a couple of days. Motrin, I continued for a week. I think it wasn’t really necessary but everytime I felt a twinge in my stitches, I felt worried and so continued it.
  • It was (and still is) exhausting. The first few days, I could barely get out of bed without major help. Now, at 10 days or so, I can walk a couple of blocks before getting winded.
  • Taking a shower is the most exhausting part of my day.
  • My back is killing me. I need to find a feeding posture that doesn’t strain it. And stretches I can do without straining the stitches.
  • Everything I had read about the first stool post-baby being more painful than labor – enh. I was on colace immediately to not damage the stitches so it wasn’t a big deal.
  • Going to the bathroom is such a big production. Also completely ridiculous. I’m still in disposable underwear (ie adult diapers) which I somehow find more comfortable and secure than maxi pads. there’s the peri bottle. And tons and tons of tucks pads. And benzocaine to numb things.
  • All the effort I put into organizing things for baby – totally worth it. When we came come, everything Hubby asked about something, I would just say, “we already have that. It’s in such-and-such shelf.” After all Hubby’s cribbing about me overplanning, hah! was nice to feel vindicated.
  • With that, there were still things I missed and we’re buying tons online. Some are weird (blackout shades. Not for baby but for us so we can sleep in spite of the morning sun). Some, I misplanned (wetness indicators on diapers are a valued feature by Hubby). Some, I undercounted (changing pad covers – we went through the two we had within a single day). Some I had intended to buy later but got pushed into earlier (hands free pumping bra).

Birth Story

As my regular readers know, I was scheduled for an induction at 37 weeks for the cholestasis. Honestly I was relieved – this pregnancy was too frought with complications for my peace of mind. There was a little bit of scheduling for convenience involved – my OB wanted to be the one to deliver so she scheduled on a day that she was on call at the hospital.

I didn’t have any expectations for a perfect birth or anything – just wanted baby and me to get through safely and healthy. Actually no, I had one hope – that I not be starting from scratch (ie 0cm dilation). I think for me, my main fear wasn’t the pain but the additional time without food/nutrition – I knew my hospital didn’t allow anything beyond clear liquids and with my GD, juices were out.

The lead-up: On that Monday, I went to the OB’s for a checkup to see what’s the likely chain of events for the induction. Lo and behold, I was already at 3cm! (I hadn’t realized that the cervical check would be so painful!) Such a relief for so many reasons! I could skip the whole cervical ripening step. I didn’t feel like we were ripping baby out too early – he was on the way out anyways. The next couple of days, I was a bit on edge. When I looked up time durations for that stage of labor online, it looked like 3cm to 10cm could be several hours or several weeks and it was hard to tell where I was. I hadn’t really felt much – mostly some menstrual cramp like feelings. I was supposed to get admitted on Thursday evening but they pushed it back to midnight.

Mostly I just got increasingly antsy. I’m one of those people who get stressed anticipating something than during the process. I ended up asking my parents to come to the hospital until we got settled in for some extra moral support.

Early Labor: A little before midnight, we go to the hospital with all our stuff (there was so much!). My overnight bag with some clothes/toiletries/etc. Hubby’s bag. Electronics bag with laptop, tablet, chargers. Some snacks for us. We go straight passed triage into the L&D ward. It takes a couple of hours (mostly waiting for a room to open up) and then they hook me up to saline and pitocin. My parents head home around 1am.

At this point, the most painful thing is the failed attempt at an IV in one arm. They gave me a game plan for the induction — pitocin, breaking the waters at 4am and then wait and deliver. And then I doze. The nurses keep coming in and out to check on my stats. It’s kinda impossible to find a comfortable position to sleep. I can use the bathroom but it’s a bit of a production, dragging the IV line behind me. The monitors were actually kinda fascinating. I realized that the menstrual cramp type feelings I had been having actually were contractions. I figured if this was the worst of it, I could manage without painkillers but realistically knew that it would get worse the further along I got. I also get my glucose checked hourly and at some point, get put on a glucose drip.

Breaking waters: A little after 4, someone came in, used a hook thingy and broke my waters. That was not fun and I had to breathe through it a bit to manage the discomfort and pain. They also said that I was at 4cm which was rather a bummer – almost a week and I only went 1 cm! And they said it roughly takes an hour per cm so I was looking at ~6 hours of dilation and ~3hr of pushing. I continue to try and doze a bit but after that, the contractions start getting much stronger. I’m also starting to shiver at this stage which I’m told is normal.

Epidural: By 6:30am, the contractions feel like the worst of the menstrual cramps I’ve had – I’m curled up and just barely away from crying in the pain. From the beginning I said that I’d take an epidural if needed. They said that the anesthesia team rotates at 7am so I’d either need to get one now or wait till they change shifts. I contemplate waiting and then the next contraction is too painful so I ask for the epidural now.

Hubby’s been dozing at my side the whole time, waking up and helping when needed. For the epidural, he got kicked out and the anesthesia folks came in. I need help getting into a sitting position and hope that my contractions and shivering don’t mess up their field. My biggest fear with an epidural is them damaging something and ending up with migraines. I feel a pinch with the lidocaine shot and then not much else. It’s done relatively quickly and within 10 minutes, I get a huge amount of relief. They give me a button to press if I need more meds but it’s timed to release some every hour. They also insert a catheter because I can no longer stand up to go to the bathroom but I couldn’t feel anything by then.

Apparently when Hubby came back in, I had this look of bliss on my face. My legs were tingly but I could still move them. Beyond that, I didn’t feel much of anything. I could only tell that I was having contractions because the monitoring showed that. And when touching my tummy, I could feel my stomach harden.

In retrospect, getting the epidural was absolutely the best thing I could have done. I ended up dozing without pain for the next several hours. At around 10am, I told them that I was starting to feel rectal pressure (they told me to watch out for this since that’s a sign of the end-stages). I think they didn’t quite believe me but did a cervical check again (felt nothing this time) and voila, I was at 10cm!

This hospital was a fan of ‘laboring down’ where they let the body push the baby out further so the actual pushing needed by me was less. So I waited for another hour or so for the baby to descend further. This stage wasn’t painful per se (the epidural was amazing!) but it was increasingly uncomfortable.

Pushing: By a little after 11am, I had hit the point where baby was far enough and I could start pushing. This was probably the biggest surprise to me in the whole process – somehow I thought that pushing involved a few pushes and poof, baby comes out. Instead my OB was like, “first time mom, it’ll probably take 2-3 hours”. The nurse and OB taught me how to push (basically they grabbed my legs so I was lying down but my legs were in a squat and told me to push as if I was constipated). The whole process was really really hard work. Somehow I thought with the epidural, the hardest part of labor was taken way but pushing .. that was a marathon in itself. Both my nurse and OB were amazing – I definitely needed the encouragement to keep going because so many times over the next couple of hours, I just wanted to say, “can’t you pull him out?” With each contraction I had to push 3 times – they described it as the first two being needed to get back to the previous position and the last to advance just a little bit more. Two steps forward and one step back.

Hubby meanwhile was a surprisingly active participant. He’s always been a bit wary of blood but somehow was totally ok holding onto a leg and watching the process. And for all my natural prudishness, I was totally ok with my lower half being completely exposed and open for all and sundry. Not that there’s much choice. The nurse keeps changing the sheets under me and I have no idea if it was poop or blood or both. I ask how much I’ve lost and it’s higher than ideal but nowhere near the danger limit – something around 200cc.

I changed positions a few times – baby did better in some than others. I wanted to go on hands and knees but that’s also more tiring so I ended up switching between back and sides. When my OB suited up, I was so relieved – we’re almost there! Sometime after 2pm, he started crowning. Hubby told me later that he was a surprised at how little of the head he could see – just a sliver.

He’s here!: At some point, the biggest part of baby’s head is out and whoosh! in less than a minute his whole body slips out. Again a surprise – after all that hard work to deliver the head, the rest of the body took second to come out. Baby immediately starts crying – he’s here! He’s alive! And breathing! They lay him on my chest. I think he nurses, I don’t remember anymore. Mostly I’m crying and cuddling him and so happy. Baby cuddles up with me and clearly knows me. He stops crying after I shush him softly and we just lay there cuddled up while the doctors continue their thing.

Afterbirth: My OB massages my stomach and delivers my placenta. And I feel her doing things down there. I have no idea what’s really going on but another resident joins her and I feel occasional pinches from needles – so there’s some stitching going on. Through all this, I hadn’t needed any extra epidural top ups but for the stitching – I’m pressing the button like crazy. They try and take the baby for measurements but the same hormones that are helping keep him calm are helping me with the pain so they leave him on me. My OB says that I have a 4th degree tear which I vaguely know is worse than a 3rd degree which is really bad. It turns out that I have a ridiculously short perineum (which I’m still too scared to google to see where it really is) and even though baby was on the smaller side, it tore all the way.

We were lucky in that this hospital is one of the best in the area and there was a resident on call who specializes in 3rd and 4th degree tears. Between her and my OB, they spent around half an hour stitching everything up. The epidural did it’s job but (TMI), I did not enjoy the sensation of anything going into my rectum, be it needle or finger.

It took another hour or so for me to get cleaned up, covered and baby to get checked up. At this point, they gave me a dose of antibiotics and Norco. I have to say, I hated the norco. I have no idea if I needed it for pain relief but it made me so woozy that I was scared I’d drop the baby.

Doctors and nurses kept coming in and out to check in on me. At some point, an anesthesia doctor came to ask about enrolling in a study for 3rd and 4th degree tears pain relief. As much as it pained both of us to not be a participant in the scientific process, we ended up rejecting it because we didn’t want to be in the medicated arm – I had enough stuff going into me.

At some point my parents came to see the baby. I think they were rather stressed because it was a couple of hours between when we announced baby was here and they were let in and they didn’t fully know what was going on. Both were so happy – my mom kept tearing and my dad was happy in his gruff sorta way.

And with that, I was done and wheeled into the postpartum ward.

Afterthoughts: L&D was both easier and harder than I expected. Overall, I’m pretty happy with my experience. Getting the epidural was absolutely the best decision ever. It let me not get over-tired and rest before my actual effort was needed. It let my mind stay in the moment instead being consumed by the pain. I had expected to be walking around more and more active during labor but I realized what my OB meant by the work of labor is done by the induction — basically the point of moving is to help labor progress but since I was on pitocin, that was essentially managed for me.

Obviously I hadn’t expected such massive tearing but I’m surprised at how common serious tears are. I would tell a friend and they’d go “oh yeah, I had 3rd degree tears with all my kids.” My OB said that for a next baby, it would be better to go the c-section route since I’d almost surely have another 4th degree. Sigh, I can’t even imagine going through all this again.

Sometimes I wonder if I wasn’t meant to be a mom – I feel like I’ve been fighting against my body every step of the way. First all the meds and interventions to conceive him. Then all the meds and interventions to keep him (and me) healthy during pregnancy. And even during labor, clearly my body fundamentally wasn’t built for it. But at the end of the day, baby is safe and sound and present so maybe we can fight nature and it can turn out ok.

Still, it’s hard to imagine going through all this again. Another child will almost surely require the same interventions (even if PCOS comes under control with diet/weightloss/whatever, I have no idea what condition the tubes would be in). GD would almost surely reoccur. As would cholestasis. As would the 4th degree. Everything can be managed and intervened on but do I really want to put my body through this again? I don’t know. But I suppose I don’t have to decide this now.

 

 

Week 1

Last week was brutal in some ways. Let me see if I can remember all that happened. (and Happy 1st Week to Baby A*!!). And apologies for the super stream-of-consciousness post – mostly I wanted to write this while I still remembered to look back upon.

Friday: Baby was born in the afternoon and it took another several hours to deliver the placenta and sew me up. When we were finally transferred to the postpartum ward, I was hyped up on norco and could barely keep my head up. Not sure what happened over the rest of the night – nurses would periodically come, give me meds, massage my stomach (to contract the uterus?), give me baby to nurse.

Saturday: I think this actually was pretty similar to Friday evening. A bunch of friends came over to meet baby. I finally ate carbs! More meds. Checkups for baby. Checkups for me.

Sunday: Last round of checkups and then we went home. Going home was both a relief (my own bed!) and terrifying (what if we screw up??). Baby did ok the whole time. He’s good with car rides. We already broke one of the ‘rules’ – gave baby pacifier for the ride home so he’d be more comfortable. Had a whole adventure where my dad messed up picking up a prescription for antibiotics (which they had told me very strictly to take so it was the one set of things I was on that I really really needed). Hubby ended up running around for a couple of hours with me on the phone begging pharmacies to transfer prescriptions before they closed. Long story of why my dad messed this up and I think comes down to changed family dynamics that we all are getting used to.

I’m actually pretty exhausted/run down. Small things wind me out still – walking from one end of the house to another for example. And going to the bathroom – OMG, no one told me this! It’s such a huge burden and annoyance. I need Hubby’s help for several days because I couldn’t bend down. And there are so many steps involved.

Monday: Hubby and I are increasingly sleep deprived as we take care of baby. My only job is to feed baby. Hubby does all the diapering. My mom feeds me. We all try and sleep.

Tuesday: I think my milk came in that day. I had no idea at the time, but I started getting super engorged but thought it was actually a clogged duct so I treated it the wrong way. Also turns out that I get shivery when engorged but kept thinking I had a fever.

Wednesday: Baby’s 5 day checkup. I am super stressed about leaving the house. There’s all baby’s paraphernalia. There’s all mine (mostly all the stuff for bathroom use). Go to doctors, bili’s high in the forehead scan, get sent to lab for blood draw. Baby gets heel stick. Two hours later, we get a call from hospital telling us his bilirubin levels are too high and to get admitted to the emergency ward. We don’t really panic because we do know bay jaundice is common. We pack for a 2 day overnight stay there and head over. At ER, they check his temp which is low. Which (we later found out) set off a whole set of protocols for checking for infection – catheter urine draw, blood draw and spinal tap. At this point, I’m getting scared. I knew what to expect with the bili lights. But a spinal tap?? For a baby who’s showing no signs of anything wrong?? By then, when they hooked him up to an IV, I was crying. And they kept asking if he’s been feeding/sleeping normally — it’s been 5 days! He doesn’t have a normal!

Adding to all this was that I wasn’t able to feed him for over 6 hours which meant I went from uncomfortable to painful and exhausted. When we finally transferred from triage to the patient room, it was impossible to get him to latch and feed. I was sobbing by this point – why can’t my baby eat? He had a good latch only that morning at the doctor’s. And I was so so so tired. And with that, I advanced our feeding/pumping plan by several weeks. I got a pump, learnt how to use it and meanwhile fed baby formula. Literally, I had to ask the nurses how to put it together and what gets attached to me. It was my first time using the pump and the nurse was like “that’s all the milk?”.

And through all this, we were really really worried. What was wrong? What did we miss? Was there a fever? Were we not wrapping him enough?

Baby hated the glasses for the bili lights. Hated all the blood draws. At some point in the evening, they weren’t able to get enough blood off the IV vein so they were doing yet another heel stick and we both snapped. We told them that we weren’t consenting to this draw unless they told us why and what they were looking for. As I told my husband, it’s like they were looking for zebras when you couldn’t even hear hoofbeats.

Eventually, at midnight, the doctor came and explained things a bit better. So there were two independent things going on. One was the baby jaundice and they wanted to run additional tests to rule out other causes (different blood types between mom and baby can sometimes have issues). Those were the blood draws that we refused. The other was checking for an infection triggered by the low temp. There was no other information to make them suspect anything. And baby’s temps go all over the place and it’s quite normal. But because he’s so young, that triggered their protocols to be doubly sure. I think after that, Hubby and I felt like we could breathe more easily. Likelihood of infection was low – they’re just being overly cautious.

Thursday: Nurses came by every few hours to check up on him. I continue to pump/feed when I can/use formula to top off when needed. We constantly have to check his UV light goggles because he keeps pushing them off. By afternoon, we have a measure of peace – infection cultures are so far negative. Bilirubin levels are starting to come down. He’s eating ok and pooping better. And I start taking time to just.. do nothing. Watch TV while I pump (pumping is so ridiculously boring). Stare out the window at the beautiful view. Sleep a bit. Oddly enough, both Hubby and I really enjoyed when the doctors did their rounds. I felt.. myself again actually. All of the day before, I was in reactionary mode. By Thursday, I was *back*. I was analyzing information and questioning things and learning again.

Friday: Bili levels are normal! No infection! We can go home! It’s still late afternoon by the time we get home. The rest of the evening passes relatively normally even if we’re both rather exhausted.

And.. that’s week one. In some ways, I think the hospital stay gave both of us a bit more confidence in our abilities to take care of the little one. I do remember thinking at various points, “why again? It was so hard to conceive him. To carry him. Delivery was not easy on my body. Why can’t we have a little peace now?” But now that it’s behind us, well, it’s ok. Shit happens. He’s healthy. And safely sleeping and eating and fussing at home with us.