In my last post, I wrote about deliveries not going as planned, only to turn around and have just such an experience ending in a cesarean section. I had imagined that during my last week of pregnancy I would be on cloud nine and super excited over my impending arrival. As it turned out, I spent those last few days completely stressed out and in a majorly gloomy funk. My doctor allowed that the decision to forge on with a vaginal delivery was ultimately up to me and that she would still back me in whichever method I chose. But admittedly, the evidence she presented to support her concerns was overwhelmingly unsettling. I desperately wanted to cling to the hope that I could have a vaginal delivery and that everything would be smooth and uncomplicated. But after many a sleepless night, I still couldn’t shake off the dogged fear of this labor being just the type of horror story you hear about where it doesn’t all turn out ok. I could never forgive myself if I stubbornly, selfishly insisted on a natural delivery, only to have it go awry with my baby ending up in grave and unnecessary danger. It was a sobering and aleady-guilt-ridden thought. And so, as wholly unhappy as I was about it, I finally agreed to the surgery. Actually, unhappy is not even the word. I was miserable those last few days and so completely not excited. Not even the morning I stepped into the hospital, with all the cheery nurses greeting me with peppy chirps of “aren’t you so excited?!” when truthfully, I really wasn’t. And acknowledging that truth made me even more unhappy and sad, knowing that this would have to be the horribly wrecked emotional state in which I’d be bringing forth a baby, a time that should have been one of the most joyous moments in my life.
I was also, plain and simple, terrified. All the while that I was wheeled into the room and prepped for surgery, I could not stop crying. The top of my hospital gown was soaked in tears and my body was literally trembling in fear. But then… it was over. I didn’t realize the surgery had even begun when, out of nowhere, the room was suddenly deafened with my baby’s cries! And let me tell you, that sound was incredible. I really couldn’t stop crying then! Pre-op, I had mourned the fact that with surgery, I wouldn’t get to reach down to pull him out onto my stomach as I had done Matthew, and that not only that, but I also wouldn’t be able even to simply just view him come out and then immediately hold him as I had done Lila. But perhaps it was the fact that I couldn’t see or touch him that made his cries feel that much more magnified and palpable. All I know is that in the end, my worries and fears were proven completely unfounded. It was absolutely, unequivocally, without a doubt, still the most beautiful moment ever. And as I lay there on the table being sewn up, I thought to myself, “I have to admit, maybe this wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.”
But unfortunately, it was. It’s just that all this time, I had been scared of the wrong thing. The surgery itself wasn’t the problem as I had initially feared; it ended up being everything that came after that was positively dreadful. Before my firstborn, I had actually looked forward to my impending hospital stay, thinking it would be somewhat of a mini-vacation. Actually being ordered to stay in bed! Having hot meals and pillow plumping requests granted at the mere push of a button! It all sounded great to me. But I quickly learned that it was anything but a vacation, and that in fact, it was darn near impossible to rest what with the large numbers of doctors, nurses, and attendants entering the room for this and that and that and this over and over and over again. And, as if hospital stays aren’t stressful enough as it is, this time around I had to contend with an overwhelming, unbearable, un-reachable, all-consuming, way deep down inside, inner-body itch due to the anesthesia wearing off. And it lasted a miserable, excruciating entire day and a half. And then, as soon as that finally subsided, I inexplicably developed the most ridiculous pain which even the strongest medications didn’t seem to be helping. This one actually ended up being an easy fix. Turns out that all I needed was a support belt to keep the floppy folds of my newly-emptied stomach off of my incision area. Without it, the merest brush of the skin by the incision would feel like burning coals and hot knives. No, worse! Crazy how something so simple and minuscule as a mere sliver of skin could cause so much pain. But even though the support belt provided immediate relief, it was somehow still another full day and a half before stumbling upon this solution. All of this ended up making the entire four days a most unpleasant stay, of which I just don’t have many great memories nor much of anything nice to say about of it at all (other than, of course, the sweet spots of staring at and holding my brand new baby boy).
Finally, it was time for Bringing Home Baby.
During the pregnancy, Lila was none too pleased over Baby being a boy instead of the sister that she had requested (demanded?) and she had no qualms in letting her unenthused feelings be known. But once we brought him home, my goodness, it was near dizzying her complete turn about! She reminds me of Elmyra from Tiny Toon Adventures as she just wants to hug and squeeze and kiss him all of the time. She says he is “just like” her Baby Alive doll. I sometimes have to literally rescue the poor baby from her just so that he can breathe and gather his senses and wits back together! She is definitely a Little Mama and wants to take over everything. I swear, I feel like a ninja spy in my own home, sneaking furtive sidelong glances as I tiptoe toward Baby, scanning first every corner of the room. For she is always lurking in the shadows, literally pouncing the second you half-turn in Baby’s direction, loudly reminding you to “support his head” as you lift him, and oh-so-very helpfully providing step-by-step instructions for his daily maintenance. Because, you know, being only his mother and all, I apparently know the correct way of doing nothing. According to that one, though, she just knows it all! But as authoratative and super-pushy as she is (I don’t know where she gets it!), it can’t be denied that, at only six, she is indeed successfully a little bit part-Baby Whisperer and a little bit part- Her Brother’s Keeper. Just a month in, he already lights in recognition at her face and calms at her voice and touch.
Matthew, conversely, was the one that was super excited during the last stage of the pregnancy, constantly kissing my belly and saying “Hurry up and come out, Baby!” But once he was here, he seemed less than thrilled from the very beginning. And it didn’t take long at all for him to tell us the problem: “I thought he would be my size.” Poor Matthew! I mean, first of all, the sheer horror at the thought of delivering a child the size of a four-year old! I shiver! But seriously though, it truly just made me feel for him. Poor thing thought he was going to have a ready-made playmate and he was happy and ready for him! His palpable disappointment was undeniably pitiable. And he did not take to the baby immediately at all, saying such things to to me as “I want the baby to go back in your tummy” and “do we have to keep him forever?” and “can we take him back to the store?” When asked, “would you like to see/kiss your brother?” without missing a beat, he would reply in the sweetest, most polite preschool voice ever “No, thank you. I don’t want to” and blithely continue along with his pretend-playing or song-singing. I didn’t push him at all and told him it was perfectly ok that he didn’t want to. I felt for him terribly and did my best to make sure I put the baby down for a few minutes every day so that I could hug, kiss, and love on only on Matthew, telling him repeatedly how he will always be Mommy’s baby. Slowly, a change of heart has begun to look promising. Though most times Matthew doesn’t acknowlege Baby or even look in his general direction, on the occasions that Baby is actually crying, Matthew will go up to him and say while gently patting, “It’s ok Baby Joshua, don’t cry”. And with each passing day, his interest and attachment has organically grown. Now every day when he comes home from preschool, the very first thing he does is run straight to Baby to kiss and say hello, even before me.
As for me, it’s just been a row of hazy days as I move around in the fog of having a newborn baby while recovering from major surgery. The recovery process has not been pleasant whatsoever. Indeed, it’s been downright painful with lots of icky things happening that I don’t even want to begin to detail. I can’t imagine having to go back to work in a few short weeks if I’m still feeling this way. With my first two deliveries, my maternity leave also didn’t feel like enough time even when physically I was already feeling much better. But now that I’m experiencing c-section aftermath, it makes me all the more incredulous over just how little our nation values the necessity in time for new mothers to fully recover and bond with baby.
But that’s a blog topic for another day. Right now I’m just making the best of the time that we have. Thankfully, Baby Joshua is not a huge crier, but he is a voracious eater and that’s been quite a trial due to the numerous breastfeeding issues I’ve experienced this time around (I plan to detail those issues in an upcoming post just as soon as I can get enough sleep in which to write). He also keeps me up all night long, regardless of how many times I wake him during the day. That’s definitely been hard, as I’ve always been a person that never quite felt like I got enough sleep. But I guess that’s why babies are just so darn cute. It’s very hard to be mad and upset when staring at such a sweet, cute, little squishy face. I talk about Lila, but honestly, I’m a borderline Elmyra myself, constantly smothering him in hugs and kisses. I can’t help it, though. While I’ve always imagined myself with four kids, I’m almost 96.7% sure this time may have been my last go-round. So I’m doing my best to take all this in and enjoy every single (exhausted) moment of his baby-ness. One day soon I’ll get enough sleep again. But also one day soon, his entire tiny body will no longer completely fit within the curve of my chest while he naps. And that’s the sweet spot I’d rather focus on now.