Felix is four weeks old today and it’s safe to say we’re mad about him. Outside of a little reflux and some crazy hiccups he is the easiest, chillest baby you’ve ever seen. We aren’t getting quite as much sleep as we’d like but that’s because we have a hard time not staying up to cuddle him long after he falls back to sleep post-feeding. He’s such a cuddly monkey.
I keep rewriting his birth story because I don’t know how much to include about the pregnancy. I’ve written and written all of the rough, bumpy, murky parts of that eight month journey but in a weird way it’s too hard to explain that emotional trip. Short version: I wanted to enjoy the pregnancy but I kept waiting for something bad to happen and, as a result, I made myself pretty miserable and anxious for the duration. It makes me feel guilty to admit this, but as much I love my babies and love being a mom, I’m very happy that I’ll never be pregnant again. After losing four pregnancies, I think I don’t have the brain cells that tell you it’s all going to be OK.
Checking in to Labor and Delivery Again and Again and Again
I went in to L&D more than ten times, each time believing that Felix was arriving at any minute. My contractions started in Week 33 but, despite being strong and regular early on, they weren’t actually progressing my body toward delivery. By the time I hit 35 weeks (when Calvin was born), I hadn’t had more than a couple of hours of uninterrupted sleep and I had scaled way back on things like shopping trips and normal conversation because everything had become about the contractions. I pretty much just hobbled around the house, waiting for my water to break and pacing myself before I could go in to once again to be checked and hear “Nope, no change.”
At 37 weeks, I was beyond unpleasant and I knew it. I was like an angry parade balloon, not helped by the fact that people could only talk to me about how I must be uncomfortable and when I thought the baby was coming. There was nothing else to talk about because nothing else was going on. I could do nothing but gestate and complain and stumble into things because I couldn’t see them beyond my huge stomach. My anxiety had peaked and I admit that I stayed up and Googled things like cord accidents just because I have some inner need to make myself miserable. Poor Kyle. All he could do was throw food in my general direction, keep our kids out from underfoot so I didn’t crush them, and read to the baby in my stomach to try to stop it from kicking me every 42 seconds.
Thundercats are Go
Finally, at 37 weeks and 5 days, the contractions were so on top of each other that I hit my limit and had Kyle take me in to the hospital. We stayed for a couple of hours while they monitored and checked, checked and monitored, and crossed their fingers that I would actually go into full blown labor just so they didn’t have to keep seeing me. They could see strong contractions every minute or so but my water hadn’t broken and no other signs of labor had come up, so finally the nurse came in and told me that they were going to send me home and that I should come back in if anything happened.
I didn’t exactly say that, but I refused to leave until I could talk to my doctor, who was up in clinic taking her usual appointments. I wasn’t sure what I could do but there was no way I was going to go home and just writhe around not actually having a baby so if they needed to stick me on a trampoline and bounce it out I was happy to do whatever. Luckily, my OB (who is awesome and who I would strongly recommend if you’re in Salt Lake) looked at my contractions and at the slight rise in blood pressure that she was seeing on the monitor and she agreed to induce me. Love her! An hour later I was in a delivery suite hooked up to Pitocin and they were breaking my water to get the show on the road.
I checked in to Labor and Delivery at 12:30 PM, got into my own room around 4 PM, and had the baby a little after 7:30 PM. That is a fast labor. It did not, however, feel that fast. How people do that for 24 hours I will never know…
I went unmedicated, which means I didn’t use any pain medication. It’s a misleading term since I used Pitocin for the contractions, something else for nausea, and other unrelated things that went into my IV. After having contractions for weeks, the pain was manageable for the first hour or so but eventually it was bad enough that I was no longer able to speak to Kyle and, for the last hour, it was as bad as it gets. I had gone unmedicated with Calvin so I knew what to expect and wasn’t as scared as I had been with him, but it was still rough and scary and overwhelming.
I have seen videos of people who stayed calm through labor pain without medication and I so wanted to be one of those people, but it just overtook me in the end. I couldn’t think, I couldn’t listen to anyone, and all I could do was hang on to the bed rails and try to keep going from one breath to the next. Kyle and the nurse kept telling me that I was doing great, but it’s weird to hear people telling you something like that when you’re in that much pain because something terrible is happening and people are just standing around smiling at you.
I should mention that both of the nurses we had were rock stars compared to the one I had with Calvin EXCEPT for the fact that they again didn’t believe me when I said I was actually having the baby. They were super supportive of my not using medication and they stayed right by the bed and listened to everything we were saying, but they just didn’t believe that he was coming that fast. So, even though my doctor was at home waiting by the phone and planning to drive in for the delivery once they called her, she again didn’t get the call until after he arrived. She came in anyway and told us that the nurse who called her actually said, “Hello, Carly Morgan is going to deliver soon…oh, she’s delivering…oh, she delivered.” So, she was on the phone for it but little Felix came out in just three pushes and was caught by some random doctor I had never met until that moment. C’est la vie.
No Picture Perfect Baby Moment for Us
As for me, I had thought for months about that moment. I knew it was my last chance to have the sweet post-birth moment where I would cuddle the new baby and cry tears of joy and kiss my husband. I have always wanted that and it just didn’t happen with the first two, so with Felix I told myself that I would just breathe through any pain after, look past the grossness of a new uncleaned human, and force myself to connect with the baby and Kyle in that crazy so-easy-to-miss moment. And, because I spent so much time trying to prepare myself, it is with extra disappointment that I report that it didn’t happen.
The baby came out, they put him on my chest, and I tried to push him away. I can’t explain it, but I was still in that primal birth mode of being in overwhelming pain and just trying to hang on. They took the baby and cleaned him and I could sort of remember wanting to have that moment, but it was too much. I asked about him but when I was asked if I wanted him, holding him was an impossible thought. They eventually gave him to me anyway, but it wasn’t that moment. I didn’t feel anything, any kind of connection at all, and gave him to Kyle as soon as I could. I just couldn’t process beyond the pain for that first hour. I was shaking, a little disoriented, and so tired. I did grab my phone and took a couple of photos of Kyle which are my most cherished pictures from the whole birth. He’s so happy and so in love with Felix that it makes me feel better about the fact that I couldn’t get there right away.
I held him for real after getting cleaned up and moving to the wheelchair, just like I had with Calvin, and I was able to breastfeed and start seeing how sweet his little face was and how his teeny fingers were sneaking out of the swaddle. A huge perk of not taking any pain medication was that I was able to move around pretty easily right away but I was still pretty uncomfortable so they finally gave me something and took us up to the recovery floor. We got settled, they brought me a sandwich, and after spending an extra hour cuddling with the baby I sent Kyle home to get some sleep and settled in to rest while the baby came in occasionally from the nursery.
Happiest Mom on the Block
Of all the hospital stays after a baby, this one was probably the best. When they first brought him back to me in the middle of the night, I was euphoric. I had just woken up and had already started to miss him and there he was all clean and warm and perfect. I fed him and then just sat with him for an hour looking at him and taking pictures and trying to remember everything. Every time they woke me up to feed, I was so excited to get him back and once the sun came up he stayed with me all day being cute and wonderful. The food was terrible, the television was boring, and the nurses were overworked enough that they always came in late and looked harassed but it was still an incredible stay. Because oh, that yummy baby.
The only big negative was my blood pressure. After being happy to see my blood pressure rising in Labor and Delivery (because it ended up being the deciding factor in delivering the baby that day), I was surprised that my blood pressure kept going up and up and up. They almost kept me for an extra day because it wouldn’t come down, but since it was still low enough that they didn’t need to put me on medicine they let me come home with instructions to follow up in a week. I don’t have any idea what was going on, but a week after the delivery it was totally normal without me doing anything but taking it easy and staying hydrated. And thus ends my totally normal pregnancy, made rocky only by the fact that I am a crazy pants anxiety mess who loves motherhood but really hates being pregnant.
As for the first four weeks? Lovely, easy, wonderful baby. Here’s a peek: