When last we left off, we had just been discharged with a happy, mostly healthy, if not slightly jaundiced, baby girl.
When we arrived home, Nick once again took in a blanket, just as he had the day before, and let the dogs sniff it. Then, I came in by myself and let them sniff me. They were ecstatic to see me (it had been four days after all) but really, that’s how they are every time I walk in the door. Nick then came in with the car seat and our newborn inside of it. And that’s when the panic attack started.
I was so scared of what was about to happen. My emotions overcame me and as our dogs sniffed that little 8-lb. bundle of joy, I was terrified they would hurt her. But, things went okay. We took her out of her car seat, and snuggled into the couch, where we proceeded to nap before our next feeding cycle.
The first night, as you might expect, was scary. I will never forget Nick walking around our room with a meat thermometer in his hands, quietly yelling that the room was too warm for the baby. When we woke up to feed her, the dogs didn’t understand what was going on and barked when she cried. My mom, who was a saint and stayed with us the first few days, was sleeping in the other room and I was terrified that they would wake her. I was overwhelmed, and sobbed as I tried to breastfeed her in the glider in her nursery.
Somehow after all of that, we were able to get at least some sleep, and woke up the next day to take her to her first pediatrician appointment. Of course we were fifteen minutes late because we had no concept of how long it would take us to get out of the house with a newborn, but overall we felt good about it. The doctor expressed some concern about how jaundiced she was, so some blood was taken and she told us that she would call if anything showed up.
After some quick errands, we returned home with our Chick-fil-A lunch just in time for the pediatrician to call us back. And to be honest, we had no idea what was about to come next: she said we needed to go back to the hospital as soon as possible. Maggie’s bilirubin levels were very high (19) and she needed light therapy immediately. I couldn’t even finish my chicken sandwich, and frantically packed (or re-packed what hadn’t been removed from just hours prior).
I don’t know if it was fate’s cruel joke, but we were put in the same room that we had just spent four days in previously. That’s right: within less than 24 hours, someone else had come in, had a baby, and was discharged during the time we were home and returned. If you’re counting, that was 22 hours. My labor was longer than that.
Watching your baby lay in a bili-bed for the first few days of her life is a pretty helpless feeling. Not being able to hold her for more than just a few minutes at a time, and even then having to have a bili-blanket over you, was tough. I wasn’t prepared for it. (I am very aware that we had it much, much better off than those in NICU or PICU, so please don’t misunderstand.)
On the bright side, we had an amazing team of nurses there who continued to take amazing care of Maggie, as well as lactation consultants who worked with us. Within just a few hours of light therapy, she started to get better and her levels improved. After 48 hours, we were able to be discharged after meeting with a physical therapist who gave us pointers on how to help Maggie’s shoulder dysplasia, which she suffered from being caught on my pelvic bone.
When we finally arrived home for the second time, I felt so much more comfortable with our routine. Even though we had to spend extra time in the hospital, I was glad that we were able to be supported by nurses and focus solely on Maggie and nothing else.
Unfortunately, I didn’t realize just how difficult my own personal recovery would be. A fourth-degree tear didn’t mean much to me at the time, I just knew I was in pain. I took the medicine prescribed to me, but after about seven days, I found myself writhing on the floor. I called the doctor’s office in tears, sobbing that I needed some relief. It took a few weeks, but I was finally feeling somewhat better, when I noticed some symptoms that didn’t seem typical. I decided to make an appointment with my OBGYN, and at the end of the appointment, he referred me to see a urogynocologist for reconstructive surgery. I’m kind of glossing over the last part because things are still developing, and honestly I’m still processing it, but I definitely didn’t think I would still be dealing with the effects of childbirth almost six months later. My surgery is scheduled for the end of May, but of course things may change between now and then.
The ending of this post was a little scattered but honestly it feels like things are still changing from day to day. I don’t want to scare anyone with my experience, but I also want to A) write it down for posterity’s sake and B) find others who may have experienced similar issues.
If you’ve made it to this point, you deserve a hug. Thanks for reading.