23 October 2010

Postpartum Care

This is just a basic FYI for anyone who may end up with stitches due to tearing or an episiotomy. After a med-free birth that required several stitches [I didn't want to know how many at the time and now S says he thinks it was 8], I did not expect the most painful/ uncomfortable part to be the recovery period. These were the basic things that helped me a lot:

Maxi pads:
For the first few days, I put a couple of tablespoons of water in several of them and put them in the freezer. It was almost as good as the ice packs they gave me in the hospital.

Witch hazel pads:
The CVS brand had the highest percentage of witch hazel but you can also use tucks or something similar. I didn't put them in the refrigerator but I have read some posts online that it helps. Wiping with them and even putting them in my underwear over the maxi pad helped with my discomfort. If you can find pure witch hazel, just get that and use it on the maxi pads instead of water.

These are great for when the bleeding slows down. 

I didn't want to take any medication at all. I made it until day 4-5 when I had some discomfort with breastfeeding [more specifically, my armpits were completely swollen and very sore- I didn't realize that was going to happen!] and it made a big difference.

Something soft to sit on:
I actually used my nursing pillow for a couple of days but I know they sell "donut" rings for this purpose as well.

Peri bottle:
This thing was my best friend for the first week. I was pretty freaked out about having had stitches so I may have been overly careful but warm water helped so much at the beginning. When planning our house we're going to build, I always told S that we had to have bidets in the bathrooms. After the peri bottle experience, I think we both realize it's definitely a must.

I didn't use it after I got home because of the toxicity issue with benzocaine and the fact that there are no studies showing whether it gets into breastmilk. If you're not breastfeeding, that might not be as much of a concern, though, so it's another option. It's just a spray that I'm sure you can get at any pharmacy and it helps with itching and pain. FYI, the hospital gave me the regular kind with the blue cap.

Another thing: Walking around helped a lot with the soreness but if I overdid it, my bleeding would increase. I think getting up a few times a day and walking for several minutes is probably sufficient for the first few days.

Ok, now here are some more [grainy, cellphone-camera] pictures of Bay:

The cake S made the first night she was home:

I'm pretty sure it was mostly for him!

13 October 2010

My Baby is Here!

I wanted to record my birth story while I was thinking about it. Last Wednesday at my 39 week appointment, I was dilated almost 5cm and was 90% effaced. My doctor said I probably wouldn't make it to my next appointment and that she would love it if I could deliver the baby on 10/10/10. Not only did she think it would be a great birthday, Sunday is a slow day at the hospital because they don't schedule C-sections or inductions that day. I couldn't have cared less about the birthdate so I was just like ok, sure, I'll see what I can do to accommodate that.

Thursday went by: uneventful.

Friday morning I woke up at 6:30am with a dull back ache, just like I had every day for the past week. I hadn't had any noticeable contractions at all but I couldn't go back to sleep so I just sat up in bed and listened to my Hypnobirthing audio on my iPod.

At 7:15, I went to the bathroom and saw a tiny bit of blood [I recorded everything pregnancy-related in a memo on my iPod and this was the last entry]. I told S and he got in the shower. A few minutes later, I started having ridiculous contractions. I had downloaded an iPod application to time contractions a month or so ago and that came in very handy. It said the contractions were 1-2 minutes apart and 30-45 seconds each. Surely I did it wrong because that's so close so soon and typically only happens at the end of labor, right? I started getting really difficult at that point, telling S he was annoying, to shut up, and that he was making things worse.

He called our doula who said to time some more to make sure they were that close and she'd call back in 20 minutes. Longest 20 minutes ever! Well, maybe the longest up until that point. Right before she called, I had a contraction standing up against the bed and my water broke on the floor. S answered the phone and the doula said to go to the hospital and she'd meet us there. I rinsed off quickly in the shower, put on a tube dress, stuffed a towel between my legs, and got in the car. I also screamed my way [with the car door open because I felt hot] through a couple of contractions while waiting for S to grab my hospital bag and guess what? Not one of our neighbors even looked outside to check on the person being fatally stabbed to death in the street [or at least that's what I would have assumed from the horrible noise I was making].

We drove the 5 minutes to the hospital. The car ride was by far the worst part because I had nothing to distract myself. FYI, I literally felt like I was going to crap out a bowling ball and -at certain points- thought I might just die. It was all very dramatic and laced with 4-letter words. I rolled my window all the way down, stuck my head out like a dog, and screamed/ slammed my fist on the car door through each contraction. Good thing we weren't in my car! After being behind the slowest truck ever all the way up the parking garage to the 6th floor, we pulled into a spot at 8:55am. S went to get a wheelchair and I jumped out with no shoes on, restuffed the towel, and waddled into the hospital myself.

After a contraction, I sat in the wheelchair and was rushed directly to labor and delivery. I literally traumatized the entire waiting room with my ridiculous screaming and probably flashed them all my blue underwear. I definitely should have practiced Hypnobirthing more! In the delivery room I was fully dilated and went up on the bed on all fours to scream the loudest I ever have and use the F word more than the Sopranos. Here's what a contraction was like:

1. Ow.
2. Oh no!

Number 3 would be as loud as possible and last at least 30 seconds. Then during the last one where the nurses were telling me to push, I said I can't do this anymore. What I didn't realize was that her head was already out so I didn't have a choice. Thank God for my doula [who got there just in time] because she was the only person I would listen to and she was very helpful in getting me to push and do what the doctor was telling me to do.

I had my daughter [a great surprise to everyone since we didn't know the sex] 34 minutes after we pulled into the parking garage. Luckily, I probably wouldn't have had time for drugs if I'd wanted them. When I think back, I still can't believe I made it through that. It was just the most intense experience I've ever had.

She weighed 7 pounds, 7 ounces and measured 19.5 inches long. We had planned all along to allow the umbilical cord stop pulsing before cutting it [not that we had time to even take the copies of my birth plan out of my bag]. My doctor did wait a bit but the cord was so short that she had to cut it before I could hold the baby and put her on my chest. She nursed an hour or so later and seemed to know just what to do. I'm very lucky and even though I thought I wanted to die for a little while, she is so worth it!

I know that short of a labor is very uncommon -especially for a first birth- and while I was so happy after it ended, I think I would have been much better [less profane/ terrifying] if I'd had time and some lighter contractions to lead up to it. To anyone planning a natural birth: If I can do it you definitely can, just be as mentally prepared as possible.

By the way, her name is Bayard McConnell, nickname Bay. We love her!