Sunday, March 13, 2016

Hospital Stay Part 1

Aaron and I told our birthday story over and over again to many friend and family in the weeks and months that followed Will's arrival. However, not always did we get to tell about the days that followed our boy's birth. So many people talked about how after their baby was born, they were anxious to rush home and relax and recover in the comfort of their own house and bed. I expected to feel the same, but once Will was here and in my arms, I felt quite different. Granted, I had just had major surgery and was being pumped full of antibiotics (since my C-section was so emergent, the Dr didn't even have proper time to scrub in before cutting me open, and therefore antibiotics were more than necessary to combat any infection), but I actually loved out little hospital room. There were many times, when recounting our birth story and time in the hospital, I actually referred to it as a hotel room. But honestly it felt so comfortable and safe in that little room.

We became a little family in that room.

The first night of Will's life was such a hazy blur of nursing, snuggling, trying to sleep, nurses checking on us, and bleary eyed looked between Aaron and I with the combined feeling of either being hit by a truck, or complete amazement that we were actually real parents to the sweetest baby in the world.

No long after I had first met my little man, and as we were waiting for our actual room to be ready, Will got to meet some of his first extended family! In the midst of the hustle and bustle of first nursing, and trying to catch side glimpses of my little man, Aaron let me know that our families were starting to head home for the night. He told me that Nicole specifically asked that when I was settled I send her a video saying I was alright, or else she wouldn't be able to sleep. I instantly wanted so badly to see my family before they were gone. My mom sadly had already gone home because our family friend was watching my dad so she could be at the hospital and it was getting late. But I told Aaron that Shawn and Nicole could come back and say hi and Shawn could meet his little nephew (since Nicole had already gotten the honor). They walked in and instantly walked over to me to ask if I was ok. I can't tell you how sweet that moment was and how loved I felt. It was my first glimpse at the stress and worry they had experienced through this whole ordeal. Shawn touched my arms and looked me in the eyes and seriously asked "Are you ok?" I assured them I was completely fine and that I was so excited for them to see my little man! Aaron was holding him and they both fawned over my son. This mama was so proud! After Shawn and Nicole duct out, Pat and Laurie were next to come in and meet their grandson. They were instantly smitten!

Our room was finally ready for us, so the nurse settled Will securely in my arms and they wheeled me out of the room with Aaron beside us and we headed up a floor to our recover suite room. Seriously, it felt so nice compared to our laboring room and the start post op recovery room. It was there that I finally got to take a good long look at Will. The nurses were all filing out of the room and I instantly raised the back of my bed and locked eyes with what will forever be one of the great loves of my life. We stared at each other for a good long moment, just taking each other in. I softly spoke to him and Will's eyes got wide in recognition and I could feel his little body relax... "Oh mama, there you are! I love you!" It was such a powerful moment.

Around 11p Will took his first bath! He was not a fan. This would be a running theme for him for the first several months of his life. But he was all clean and smelled absolutely divine. When he was first born they put him in a sweet little yellow cap on his head, and after his bath they traded it out with a sweet teal cap after he was all cleaned up.

We spent the rest of the night going in and out of probably the most pitiful sleep I have ever had in my life. I would doze in 10-15 increments and even then I don't think I actually fully fell asleep. And then just like clockwork, Will would ask for food about every hour and a half (from start to start) and he and I would be in a blissful bonding haze for 45 minutes of him nursing. I still can't believe how amazing he was at eating. I was fully prepared for tons of pain and discomfort and him being frustrated or apathetic, but it came as THE most natural thing in the world to him. I kept having the nurses check his latch because I honestly didn't believe that it could be that easy and he was doing it right. The nurses too were impressed with our ease at the whole breastfeeding thing.
Before each nursing session, Aaron was on diaper duty. He would change his diapers to make sure Will was fully awake and ready to go. My poor husband was a zombie and would shuffle across the hospital room to Will's bed, change his diaper, hand him to me, and go back to trying to sleep. Then when I was done nursing him and ready for sleep myself, he would shuffle over to me again and put Will back in his bassinet or take a moment to cuddle him for a bit.

One of Aaron's most surprising experiences within the first 24 hours of Will's life was the first few dirty diapers! I had tried to prepare Aaron for newborn - fresh-from-the-oven - diapers, but in the chaos of Will's arrival and the drama of settling in after all the commotion, Aaron had forgotten what to expect and was definitely taken by surprise! In his sleep deprived, PTSD rattled state, Aaron was overwhelmed by this little bit of early fatherhood.

At one point during our routine of daddy diaper duty and mommy/baby nursing sessions, Aaron was shuffling back to his bench/bed after having put Will back in the bassinet, and he just slowed to a stop in the middle of the room and stood there. I looked at him for a bit waiting for what he had stopped for and eventually asked, "Love, are you ok?" He slowly turned his head toward me and very quietly asked, "why am I here? what was I doing?" I giggled slightly realizing he had actually just fallen asleep mid stride, standing up. I gently reminded him he had just put Will down for me and that he needed to go to bed immediately. He made his way back to his bed and then looked at me again almost on the verge of tears and asked, "how are you doing this? How are you so awake and chipper?" I reminded him of the wonder hormone coursing through my body at this moment called Oxytocin! Seriously, I had never been so tired in all my life, and yet I would just turn my head to see Will sleeping in his bed, or think of him as I am dozing off to sleep and my whole body feels like it is going to explode with joy and adrenalin! When he is eating and I look down as him, it takes my breath away how much I love him and I feel like laughing and crying all at the same time because the emotions are too strong. I really feel like it is unfair for fathers to not get this kind of hormone reaction when their baby is born.

Just after the sun rose on Will's first morning, we had our first visit from the Pediatrician. We chose our pediatrician's office based on the recommendations of too many of our friends to count who went there. This also included my brother and sister in law and all 4 of their kids. In our 4 days at the hospital we met two of the doctors in the practice who were on their scheduled rounds and can I tell you, I instantly LOVED our choice in offices!

Dr. Lersch was the first pediatrician to examine Will and I actually don't remember a lot about his visit to begin with other than the fact that he told us that Will was perfect. He had heard about our delivery and Will's dramatic arrival and so was very reassuring and Will looked perfect and healthy and everything that a baby should be. One thing I will say about both pediatricians we saw in the hospital, is that they literally just breeze into the room with no announcement or warning. At one point Dr. Leonard walked in as I was topless and nursing... good thing my modesty filter was no where to be found, so I didn't mind in the moment, but looking back it is a bit of a strange interaction. The following few days, we saw Dr. Leonard and we LOVED him! He was actually my nieces and nephews pediatrician. When he introduced himself he asked if this was our first baby or if we had any other kids that they would have seen in the office. I told him no, but that he actually in the doctor for all my nieces and nephews and as I listed their names and mentioned Shawn and Nicole, his eyes lit up and he declared "The Thompsons! I loved those kids! Oh my gosh, Nicole is just such an amazing capable mom and Shawn is the most hands on present dad I have ever seen. I see him more than any other dad! Oh Elsie is just my favorite she is hilarious..." and then he recounted to me a story about Elsie asking if he liked chicken, which was a story Nicole had told me before and we both agreed wasn't that funny and definitely not Elsie's most hilarious story. But Dr Leonard was enchanted and just loved that story! As we saw Dr. Leonard in the following days, he would ask about the Thompson kiddos and what they thought of Will and how their FaceTime introduction went. It was so lovely to have such an instantly good repore with a doctor! Will crushed his exams and definitely impressed everyone with how cute he was. Ok I admit I may be remembering their adoration a bit more strongly than it was in reality, but I admit my memory is hazy.

I do know that our nurses were absolutely incredible! Aaron and I wanted to remember each of them because they were all so amazing! Coy was our absolute favorite because she was our night nurse for 3 of the 4 nights we were there. She was probably in her late 40s to early 50s and just the most calming and gentle presence ever. She reminded both Aaron and I a lot of our friend Janet and so she put us so much at ease. Can I tell you that I have a great new appreciation for post partum nurses! When you have someone having to literally do EVERYTHING for you for the first 24 + hours after your C-section until you are able to stand up and do stuff on your own, you have an immense level of gratitude and humility. I never in a million years thought that I would be at ease with the whole process and have very minimal embarrassment and I owe that largely to the incredible nurses... and maybe a little bit to the oxytocin again. Our other nurses - Kathy (Day nurse), Gwen (Labor nurse), Roseanne (nurse right after Will was born through his first night), Casey (Day nurse), Amy (day nurse), Jen (Night nurse) you were all incredible!

What was also fun about the nurses was all their different swaddling techniques! Aaron and I studied each of their tips and tricks for swaddling and observed which ones Will liked the best so we could replicate.
 I LOVED having my little burrito baby handed to me in bed and just holding him and cuddling him. I also definitely couldn't help undoing his swaddle to take in all his tiny little features!

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