Sunday, August 21, 2011

Post-Partum Unit and Beyond

Talk about being thrown into a fire; totally blind-sided and unprepared for the unprecedented chaos.  I was handed this adorable little baby and had absolutely no clue what to do with him.  Naively, I had thought that my nurturing, motherly instincts would immediately kick into effect and I would have no trouble adapting to motherhood. 
Initially, the art of breastfeeding seemed such an insurmountable obstacle and a painful endeavor.  My new little baby appeared something akin to a parasitic leech, rather than a defenseless, little newborn.  Explosive cries emanated out of his little body and he bit into me with a ravenous determination.  During the second night of my hospital stay, and overcome with exhaustion, I literally tried to return him to the hospital.  Wheeling his bassinet into the hospital nursery, I seriously asked if they had any magical panacea to cease his infinite crying.  The night nurse looked at me like I had delivered both my baby as well as my brain, because apparently my head had been vacated.  After she sternly told me that there was nothing she could do, she pitied my frazzled state and offered to watch Baby J while I slept for a few hours.  Apparently, all sales were final. 
When it was finally time to be discharged, I felt as though I was being thrown into the world of motherhood with no instruction booklet or training manual.  The discharge nurse instructed me to sit in a wheelchair (although I had been walking around the floor for days now), with Baby J swaddled in a blanket on my lap, and Jon proudly striding beside us.  Obediently, I agreed to this picture-perfect looking happy-family procession.  However, in reality, my body was still aching from childbirth and my deflated stomach pancaked over my maternity sweatpants (not my size four skinny jeans, which I had packed just in case).  Also, Jon really needed the wheelchair more than I did, since he was dizzy from his own accumulated sleep deprivation and sleeping on a hospital couch for five nights (he had also managed to contract an allergic reaction from the harsh, hospital laundry detergent used to clean the bedsheets).  In light of how we were really feeling, we fabricated false smiles of happy newbie parents and continued our parade toward the exit. 
As soon as the valet pulled my car into the hospital driveway, the fa├žade quickly unraveled:  Jon and I had asked a friend to install the car seat a week earlier and we had both mistakenly thought that the other one had known how to use it.  Of course, when we tried to secure Baby J into the state-of-the-art, $400 contraption, neither of us knew how to operate the damn thing.  Poor Baby J, losing his patience with each failed attempt, succumbed to a red-faced temper tantrum as we fiddled with the straps of his car seat. Bystanders stared at our frazzled spectacle, wondering what on earth we were doing with this poor newborn.   A desperate Jon solicited total strangers, asking if anyone knew how to operate a Peg-Perego car seat.  When no solution sufficed, I ordered Jon to drive home slowly and safely.  I cradled my new baby close to my chest and prayed that our faces would not appear on the evening news.  Luckily, we eventually arrived home, intact and grateful.

Venturing into our own house also proved to be unfamiliar territory.  Little Jordan took one look at his new surroundings and spontaneously combusted into a meltdown.   Looking quite dapper in his carefully coordinated homecoming outfit, there was little I could do to quell his tempter.  How could someone in such a well-attired, monkey outfit behave in such an embittered fashion?  When Jon repeatedly commented that he was acting like an animal, I suggested that perhaps we should stop dressing him as such. 
Jon and I were befuddled and took turns playing hot potato with Baby J.  We learned quickly that despite the expensive baby furniture, creatively adorned wall decals, and cutesy baby toys, the only thing that acted as a remedy for Jordan’s fussiness was Mommy’s boobies.
Those first turbulent days at home were quite an adjustment for all of us.  My fluctuating hormones as well as Jordan’s moods were extremely erratic and unpredictable.  We devised all sorts of creative ideas to cease Baby J’s endless crying such as blasting a blow dryer (this sound supposedly mimics the sound of the womb), taking him outside for a change of scenery, and when all else failed--back to the boob…

Monday, August 15, 2011

Labor Pains

I am back by popular demand (well, I don't know about popularity, but a couple of my friends were quite demanding that I continue blogging again)!  So, since I have had ions of free time (in between raising a baby, working, being a wife, keeping a household in order, and trying to instill some semblance of sanity back into my life), I have continued journaling about my experiences as a new mother.  To not overwhelm my dear readers, I will post a new blog every few days in order to catch up on the past four months.  In doing so, I will attempt to censor my story, omitting graphic details and TMIs.  So, imagine what life was like four months ago....on April 11, 2011, to be exact, and read on for the full story of Jordan's entry into the world....

Labor Pains
This is not a drill, I sardonically thought to myself when my water broke for the second time, two days before my actual due date.  I was winding down from a rather busy weekend, in which I was feeling great: my energy had returned, the nesting instinct was in full effect, and I had spent the past two days enjoying the beach, movies, and my brother’s 30th birthday party.  
 Of course, I hoped for one more good night’s sleep before admitting myself to the hospital yet again.  However, as my luck would prevail, the minute I snuggled into bed at 11pm on Sunday night, my water broke for the second time in my pregnancy.  Just in case this was another false alarm, I crept into the bathroom, careful not to wake my sleeping husband, and called my doula.  She confirmed that this was in fact the real thing and I needed to go to the hospital in the next couple of hours, as I was experiencing irregular contractions.
When I woke up Jon, he bolted towards the garage door before the words had even passed my lips.  Since the last incident, in which I had teased him about primping like a woman, he was now lickity split, while I took my time leisurely showering, washing my hair, and preparing my last meal before a diet of ice chips.  Of course, when I was finally ready, Jon admitted that he didn’t think that he could drive me to the hospital, since he had taken a sleeping pill that night.  Grabbing the car keys, my zombie-husband, my birthing ball, and my bump, I drove us all to the hospital and was ready to finally meet the little stinker who had already given his mommy the torture treatment.
While it would have given me great pleasure to report that I delivered baby J as soon as I was admitted to the hospital, drug-free, pain-free, and extracted him out of the womb myself, that is not my life.  Once I was whisked off to triage, admitted, and checked into a room, the nurse informed me that my doctor had instructed me to sleep in the hospital that night, since my contractions were irregular.  After a rather sleepless night, my contractions were still irregular and the nurse implanted garvasol, an insert to induce labor.  Although she had instructed me to exercise extreme caution after the implantation, I horrifically discovered that the insert eventually journeyed into the long lost chasm of the hospital toilet bowl.  
Of course, my labor had still not progressed and my doctor decided it was time to call out the much-dreaded pictocin.  My mind immediately corroded of horror stories, told by friends who had received the big P.  One of my friends admitted to abusing her poor husband by throwing inadimate objects at his undeserving head; another friend hysterically screamed that the anesthesiologist wasn't moving fast enough, scaring the drug-monger out of the hospital room, never to return.  I feared the worst: unbearable pain was in my imminent future and my contractions would feel 100 times worse than the somewhat bearable bodily spasms I was now experiencing. 
I soon discovered that my fear was very real; the Pictocin magnified my contractions to such an extent that I vomited after each one.  Having no respite from the contractions and the repetitive puking, and after enduring eleven hours of labor, I eventually relented to the epidural.  After the anesthesiologist kicked my entourage out of the hospital room and administered the spinal injection, my pain quickly vanished.   Because of the epidural, I no longer felt as though I was in labor, in any type of pain, and could not even tell when I was experiencing a contraction. 
Prior to my labor, I was adamant that I did not want an epidural.  I did not want to be a prisoner of the hospital bed, but wanted to be free to roam around the room, exercising my contractions as calmly as the women in the birthing movies and pamphlets.  However, Jon reported that upon his re-emergence into the hospital room, I had a huge smile on my face.  During the seven more hours of labor, I was actually able to nap, watch TV, play scrabble, and carry on everyday conversations—some semblance of normalcy was restored. 
Ironically enough, my favorite part of the birthing process was when it finally became time for me to push.  My mom and doula each held one leg while Jon stood next to me, holding my hand.  I felt like I was about to cross the finish line of the longest marathon of my life and I had my own, personal cheering squad, urging me towards the final leg of my journey.  Also, I had not experienced a full cardiovascular exercise in months, and the endorphin/adrenaline rush of the momentum felt invigorating.  After an hour and a half of extreme pushing and cheering, Baby J erupted out of my body and was greeted by the world.