Charlie is four weeks old today, which means it’s been four weeks since someone cut me open and removed a human from me. I’m doing pretty well, all told, but I’m just now starting to do things like open magazines with the intention of reading them, get on my computer to try to write a blog post, or get my own cup of coffee in the morning. For the first 10 days or so, the post-surgical feeling was what was keeping me from being human; after that, it’s largely been the fact that my hands are full of infant. Charlie is great; Andy has accurately described him as a “top-shelf baby.” But this changes nothing about how challenging it is to take care of one’s self while nursing a baby for 35 minutes out of every hour.
Please hold; I have to nurse Charlie and change a poop diaper. . .
Thank you for holding. It’s been four hours, and I’ve nursed six time and changed five diapers. One of them was the poopiest diaper of my career.
I’ve racked up lots of stories to tell y’all in these four weeks, and I’ll start with the beginning: Getting the 9 lb., 7 oz. baby on the outside of my body. As mentioned, we decided to do a C-section on account of his rapidly increasing size. (He was on pace to be just under 11 lbs. if left to his own devices.) Since becoming pregnant, I’ve been more grossed out by the prospect of having an epidural than about the prospect of having a baby. Because they have to PUT A CATHETER IN YOUR SPINE. Shiver. And with a C-section, there’s no getting around the epidural. I also learned shortly before the big day that this is the one part of the delivery process that Andy can’t be there with me for. And also that it takes about 18 minutes to administer. My eyeballs are sweating just thinking about it. Cut to: Me being wheeled in for the pre-op epidural, hunching over, and being sternly instructed to stay very still. I hate it, but I do as I’m told. I feel it go in, which doesn’t hurt but is gross. Then my hip starts hurting a little bit, which I mentioned to the nurse (Carol) who was holding me for the procedure, and it freaked her out a little, which freaked me out a little. (It was fine; the anesthesiologist was not phased.) Then:
Me: “I’m going to vomit.”
Nurse Carol: “She’s going to vomit!”
Anesthesiologist: “She can’t move yet. Keep holding her.”
So Carol held the blanket that was on my lap up to my mouth and said I could vomit into that. So I did. Profusely. Apparently this was caused by a drop in my blood pressure. Then I said I was going to vomit again. And I did. And then I vomited twice more all over myself and the blanket for good measure. I hadn’t been allowed to eat or drink anything since the night before, so it was all a lovely shade of Slimer from Ghost Busters green. We finished getting the epidural in, and Carol suggested to the doctor that they wipe my face off. The doctor hurredly said he couldn’t be bothered with such things right now because of something to do with my vital signs (I think still the low blood pressure). So he does some things, and then Carol is allowed to take one pass at my face with a washcloth right before they put the oxygen in my nose. I had REALLY hoped for a chance to blow my nose first, on account of the vomit. But by now they’ve let Andy and the surgeon in, and it’s time to have a baby.
Fortunately, once the epidural fully kicks in, it’s the greatest I’ve felt physically in my life. I haven’t been without nagging back pain, bladder pain or pelvic pain in over a decade, and this knocks all of that out. It was fantastic. They could have taken all day to get Charlie out of me at that point, and apart from it being a kind of psychologically terrifying experience, I wouldn’t have minded. So the remainder of the C-section goes as smoothly as it possibly can, and my OB does a beautiful job of not slicing me up like Frankenstein’s monster. All the staff who had to check on my incision during my stay at the hospital were very impressed. “Ooh, that’s beautiful! Who was your doctor?” (It was Dr. Kari Schichor of Capital Women’s Care, should you be in the market. She was great. So much better than Dr. Eyeshadow.)
But back to the vomit. It turns out that after a C-section, it would be really painful to blow your nose (or cough or sneeeze or laugh) for several days. So I never got that nose-blow. Also, I was catheterized & hooked up to hospital stuff (including my now beloved epidural) for 24 hours, so there was no tooth-brushing to be had. And I had Slimer-green vomit all down the front of my gown for a day. So that was all gross. But we got a Charlie out of it, so win.
Let the record show that Andy noticed a good, epidural based blood splatter behind me when he came into the operating room for the big event. It’s good that I wasn’t in a position to see this, or I would have vomited once more. And though I really wanted him there holding my hand, it was further good that they didn’t let Andy in the room for the epidural, because he’s a sympathetic vomiter. He would have barfed on me, and I in return would have barfed on him, all day long and we never would have had the baby.