Saturday, August 9, 2014

You Were Going to Meet Her Eventually

This is our beautiful Audra Grace.

She made it into the light and the harsh and the constant, unending diapers Tuesday evening. This is not the place where I tell a "birth story" and share with you the gory details; I have never been one for the sharing of gory details, and it's not going to start now. Suffice to say, it was both easy and the hardest thing I've ever done, that I was both elated and injured and that I am excited and terrified.

I will tell you one thing about my daughter's birth; you have got to have someone who will fight for you, because you will be too exhausted and too done being pregnant and too scared of what could happen to fight for yourself. Jason was on top of every single thing they said to me, asking for clarification, offering to help the nurses and doctors, making them explain and not just do - we had some of the best nurses I've ever dealt with in my life, but especially when you're high-risk there's a level of brisk efficiency that can leave the patient feeling a little worried and run over.

Jason made sure we understood every single thing and befriended the nurses with his usefulness at lightning speed. There is nothing that earns a nurse's love so quickly as being a patient's support person who is totally willing to do whatever it takes to take some work off the nurse's hands whenever he can. I was too scared of the complications to have stood up for myself; to have Jason right next to me meant everything in the world for my ability to make it through.

I'll say one other thing; if you have a nurse who, less than three days into your baby's life, is trying to tell you that you won't be able to feed them or making it seem like every problem is the end of the world or who makes you feel even a little bit like you can't do this; get a new nurse. We had a ton of wonderful nurses (in our hospital, you get one nurse for you and one for the baby, every twelve hours there's a shift change, so we saw several nurses) and exactly one terrible nurse. Unfortunately, she was the last nurse we dealt with. Fortunately, too, I guess - if she had been the first nurse I spoke to, I would not have made it through the first night. She was absolutely terrible - panicked and worried and every single thing was a huge deal and a failure, and she made me feel terrible, and if that happens to you get a new nurse or ask to speak to someone about it. I didn't, because I had a good nurse coming in at the same time building me up, but you should. 

Don't let them tell you you can't do this, and they should never, ever vocalize any idea even remotely like the idea that you can't do this.

I hope her method of nursing did not discourage the other mothers in my floor - due to my complication issues I ended up in the "high risk" ward afterward, although I was the lowest-risk woman there. I can't imagine the effort and trauma some of these women had gone through just to bring a baby into the world, to be faced with sad puppydog scaredy eyes telling them something is just wrong with them, fundamentally, in their physical position as a mother. 

(Did I mention Jason has been my tireless champion through the whole thing? Even with Sadface Nurse. Especially with Sadface Nurse. He would gladly have punched her in the face for me, and that means everything in the world in situations like that.)

Audra came out weighing exactly one ounce more than I weighed at birth - and an ounce less than my sister's daughter weighed at hers, which I find really interesting. My medical issues that led to my bedrest are starting to fade a little each day. I have been running mostly on hormones and shockingly little sleep.

Last night we had our first set of cluster feedings and a bout with a painful tummy that had us all just about at wits' end. My parents drove into South Carolina for the birth and so I've had them here and it's been lovely; between them and my great in-laws who live nearby, there are so many people who want to see the new baby and it's so nice to just sit and be tired while someone else holds her and I can zonk out, mentally if not physically. My friend Sarah has come over with her 15-month-old Molly twice and been my constant source of "this is normal, this is normal, you are not crazy, here look at my cute kid to remind you why you're voluntarily giving up sleep for the rest of your life". Between her advice and her willingness to bring me coffee, that woman may end up with some kind of medal.

My sister is a phone call away and I've spoken to her and she's been my other sanity lifeline. There is so much that seems like it should just happen, and it just doesn't, and no one really tells you that it won't. You're just supposed to figure it out by flailing around wildly, and it's nice to have someone who knows me as well as my sister does on the other end saying, "Nope, you're okay, this is okay, this is going to be okay."

We did just about hit our point of people-saturation Thursday night; I've joked that I want to put a sign on the door telling everyone that they must call first to schedule an appointment. Then they offer to bring me Starbucks and all my resistance just melts right away. I love people! But there is just this level of exhaustion I was both prepared and not prepared for; I knew it was coming but was just entirely unaware of how deep in my bones the tired would go. You just can't know it, really. So there would be this point where I would just be staring at people wall-eyed, trying to figure out if I had actually heard what they just said or maybe had just dreamed it so I didn't dare respond just in case it turned out I was replying to thin air.

It's kind of funny; I've been preparing to do this, to have this baby, since I was 22 years old and Jason and I got married. Six years later (almost to the day), and here she is. She is clearly my baby; she loves to sleep with her little fists curled under her chin and one foot out from under her blanket, exactly the way I do. Jason is the ideal; he is better at diaper changes than I am (in my defense, I was trapped in bed for the first day and a half of her life in the hospital and couldn't do them), he can swaddle in ten seconds or less. I spend a lot of time just watching what he does.

Sometimes "what he does" is insist I take a nap while he takes care of the baby for a couple of hours and refuse to take 'eh, I'm okay I promise' for an answer. 

As such, I am rediscovering the ability to take a nap.

We learn many many things as new parents; I've decided the most important thing I will learn is how to drop off in thirty seconds or less literally any place in the house I'm in.

Now if I can just figure out how to get the baby to do that...


  1. Congratulations! She's beautiful, and you're going to be fine.
    P.S. The labels you added are hilarious.

    1. I pride myself on my labels here on this blog, haha. My personal favorite is "just call me mrs. crankypants"

  2. Congratulations to you and Jason. Robin and Aunt Anne told me about Audra at Uncle Tap's 90th birthday!

    1. Thanks for your congratulations! We are very much in love with her little face, let me tell you.

  3. I can't give you enough congratulations. I'm so happy for you guys, so excited to hear and see more, so glad that people as kind and smart as you are going to raise a human to join society.

    And I'm really glad you're being vocal about crappy nurses! I wish more people knew that medical personnel are NOT authority figures -- and they can keep it to themselves when they have poor information or a bad attitude.

    1. Aw, thanks! Hopefully we are good at raising useful humans.

      Honestly, I have a lot more respect for my actual L&D nurses that I didn't overly like; they were brusque because they had to be, they were trying to oversee a surprising amount of high-risk births at once. It wasn't their job to make me feel super comfy, it was their job to keep me alive and seizure-free long enough to have a baby.

      But the Sadface Nurse mentioned in this post? Her entire job was to A. make sure the baby was thriving as best she could in the first couple of days, B. ensure that I had help I may need since I and most first-timers have no idea how to care for a newborn, and C. make sure I left the hospital believing I could do this and as informed and confident as possible.


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