How is the pain?
I am 7 days post-operation when you read this (but I am typing it on Day 6). When the hospital was managing the pain through scheduled pain management, everything was fine. I was up walking the same night as surgery. I took a shower two days after surgery. One of the days, I refused the pain medication. I promise, I am not trying to prove anything to anyone or myself but I do not like the way narcotics make me feel. To me, the side effects of some of them are way more torturous than the pain relief. I left the hospital with prescriptions for iron, a stool softener (glam life), Naproxen and Hydrocodone. Once home, I felt like I was caught in a web of not wanting the pain medication and probably needing the pain medication. No one in the world makes me laugh more than my husband. That's good because I love to laugh, but laughing has been the HARDEST part of this whole recovery because it triggers a sharp pain by my incision. Once I start laughing, it is hard to stop, so I end up laughing myself into tears due to pain. This gets better every day, but some days were downright hard. One night I decided to take the prescribed dose of Hydrocodone once I was ready for bed. That was fine and all until I woke up at 2AM with the worst dry mouth of my life. I slowly sipped water for an hour to get rid of the feeling like I was going to choke on my own saliva. On top of that, I felt extremely high. While this is probably a welcome feeling to many, I absolutely hate it. No more. So now, I stick to the Naproxen and try to take it easy. But what is "taking it easy" anyhow? The doctors want you up and moving, but not overdoing it. I am just starting to find that balance.
You were warned about hormones. How are they?
Hahahaha. Oh man. In the background of my pain and medication battle has been the hormones. They showed up right on cue. Right after surgery, I was sad that I wasn't pregnant anymore. The absence of the baby bump, the rumblings in my tummy that weren't her...all of it made me sad. I LOVED being pregnant, so I expected a bit of an emotional transition with this one. Plus, it wasn't like I had a baby to stare at immediately to remind me of why no longer being pregnant was totally worth it. Then, I felt sad because people came to visit but they couldn't see Eila. I kind of just felt like they were stuck with me. Maybe that is silly to think about now, but at the time it made me feel awkward.
The NICU visits while we were still in the hospital were hard as well. Mostly, Lucas and I were just trying to understand what was going on and the status of our baby. Initially, all I could hear was children of Diabetic mothers tend to...The first time I heard it, it was fine. The second, third, fourth, etc. times I heard it started to sound to me like you did this. You and your disease are the reason your daughter came early and why her lungs aren't working properly. In the thick of hormones, that is a tough one to wrap your head around and think logically. Logic was gone. It still kind of is in some instances. I think hormones suspend logic for a bit. Then there were nurses who made me feel like my touch and stimulation were stressing Eila out, so I was scared to touch her for a little while. Then some other nurses came to my rescue and assured me that it was NOT the case, and that no one should make me feel like that. Then, I got we got echo results one night when I was already emotional that showed a small PDA and a couple of other things. As it turns out, those are typical in babies (especially premies) and tend to close themselves with time. But all I heard was heart problems. They will repeat the echo in a couple of days, so we will know more about that later.
Being at home at night has been helpful because we catch up on rest. Rest is probably the best medicine for me if I am judging by how I feel now. Here's a funny story that exemplifies the hormone influx. One morning I was pumping breastmilk (another post for another day on this weird process), and I was excited because I was getting way more than I ever had. From Day One, Lucas has taken charge with the pump. He sets it up, assembles it, disassembles it, washes the parts and stores the milk. The morning to which I am referring, Lucas was still asleep when I pumped. I set the canisters on the nightstand and accidentally knocked one over. Breastmilk poured into my slipper, and I lost about half of the liquid from that canister. Without missing a beat, I burst into tears. Lucas, now awake, comforted me and assured me it was okay. Once I composed myself, he said, "you literally just cried over spilled milk." And I laughed. Then it hurt. So I cried. That might be the most textbook example.
Other emotions. What other emotions?
Oh, anxiety. The first day I tried to walk down to the NICU myself, I felt lightheaded. Then when I got to the NICU, I felt lightheaded. So I went back up and was convinced several times that I was going to pass out. Things would get dark. My mouth was dry and my tongue felt huge. They ran some bloodwork on me, and all was well. Not that you want to hear that something is wrong, there is always that moment of oh, that's embarrassing. It was all in my head. I experienced something similar after my Diabetes diagnosis. I consider it a hyper-awareness of how off my body feels. And I tend to fixate on it and work myself up into thinking something is terribly wrong when the reality is quite simple - yes, your body does feel off because you just had a baby, had major surgery, and your baby is in the NICU, but that's OKAY. That's NORMAL. Basically, I just dislike not feeling like myself, but I am learning to take it a day at a time and temper my expectations a bit.
I'll finish on a positive note - the intense love.
A wonderful NICU nurse named Francine let me hold my baby for the first time. I wasn't quite expecting to be able to right then, so I was very excited. She grabbed a recliner, wheeled it by her bed so that her tubes could be close, and she gave Eila to me. And guess what? I proceeded to sob. I sobbed because I was holding her. I sobbed because I thought she was beautiful. I sobbed because she really seemed to like being held by me. Everything just kind of clicked. It was the emotion I had been waiting for for days, and it hit me harder than I expected. Yesterday, we got to do skin-to-skin. That's so special because we got to just be chest-to-chest for hours. She slept, and I took in all of her smells and kissed her head. Like many new moms, when she cries, I just want to go help. I'm not even sure I know what I am doing half the time, but I hate when she's sad! The good news is, she isn't sad often at all. She lays awake for hours just looking around and wiggling. She only cries when she is being jostled or when she is pooping. We are aware that we obsess over every little thing she does. We talk about who she looks like. We talk to her in baby-talk like idiots, but these past few days of learning more about our daughter have been so wonderful.
My husband, my hero!
I could not finish this post without properly acknowledging Lucas for being my literal ROCK this past week. All of the emotions listed above, he has handled like a champion without making me feel stupid or judged. He has been 100% supportive. He picks up what I drop. He washes my pump supplies. He has been my sanity, my arms and legs and my constant companion through this whole journey. I could not ask for a better partner for myself and a better father for Eila. Sometimes you feel like you hit the lottery, and that's how I feel about having these two in my life. It hasn't been a predictable path, but I wouldn't trade it for the world.
Blogs to come: Pumping is Weird, Letter to the NICU Nurses, Learning Eila, and more postpartum recovery.