They kept me at the hospital for the next couple of days, and they threatened to keep me a third day if Babby didn’t have a good latch going by then. Perfect Husband stayed overnight in a narrow fold-out chair, and thank heavens for it because that first afternoon/evening I couldn’t really stand up yet, so caring for Babby would have been difficult to say the least. In fact, when PH went to drive my mother home that evening, Babby started to cry in his little plastic wheelie-crib thing, and I had to buzz a nurse to come hand me my baby.
It wasn’t until late in the evening that I felt able to try peeing. I was motivated largely by the fact that the urine seemed to be leaking out totally uncontrolled anyway into the bandage-like padding they had put on me (for underwear to hold the pads on, they had given me bizarre gauze boy-shorts, so I walked around for the next couple of days in fishnet granny panties bulging with diaper-like pads. SO SEXY). So I buzzed a nurse who helped me to the washroom, gave me a peri bottle for rinsing my Areas, and a big bag filled with more frightningly large pads, which she recommended I double-layer. The pads that they had put on me after the birth were already soaked in frank red blood and urine. The nurse also gave me tylenol, ibuprofen, and stool softeners.
A stout, uncommunicative nurse came in and barked staccato sentences at us as she showed us how to bathe Babby, juggling him over the tub and scrubbing the blood off of his head mercilessly while he screamed blue murder and PH glared at the nurse. Beyond that, and a couple more blood pressure checks, the nurses pretty much left us alone to deal with our new baby.
That night was an unreal haze of exhaustion and confusion. Every time the baby screamed we felt sure the nurses were going to come rushing into our room to find out why we were murdering our baby. We couldn’t understand why they trusted us with this tiny, bruised, crying, helpless creature. Nor did we have any idea if were were taking care of him right. Perfect Husband changed his diapers, I shoved a breast in his red, protesting face every three hours like clockwork, and then we would re-swaddle him and lay him down. At one point I woke up in the night to the loudest, most astonishing snores I had ever heard. PH, who does snore sometimes, was flat on his bed, wedged like a sardine into his narrow cot, and snoring the Snores of a Thousand Men. It was preternaturally loud. I couldn’t sleep, and looking over at the Babby’s wheelie-crib I saw him staring back at me in wide-eyed beseechment, while he repeatedly bonked himself on the noggin with his tiny fist as the snores reverberated through the room. I wondered what the nurses out in the hall must be thinking.
I called PH’s name again and again, louder and louder as the Babby began to look more and more worried about the whole experience. I seriously considered chucking something at him, but eventually hauled my sore, bleeding, torn-up butt out of bed and shook him awake.
“You’re scaring the baby. Please roll over,” I begged. He rolled, and silence reigned again.
Morning saw us collapsed in exhaustion, the baby swaddled and lying next to me, and me lying wide awake for fear of rolling over and squooshing him, but unwilling to move him because HE WAS SLEEPING.
The next day I actually managed to get up, dress, and even shower (bleeding like a scene from a Hitchcock film all the while) and felt almost human again. I even attended their little class that the Lactation Consultan ran daily, covering basic things like how to breastfeed, how to avoid SIDS and the importance of Tummy Time.
I was still largely unable to control the gushes of urine from my bladder whenever I changed position (no doubt a result of the Catheter Incident), but I was cheerfully assured that kegels would fix this with time. Every time I used the washroom I changed the enormous, blood-sodden pads, rinsed thoroughly with warm water from my peri-bottle, and thought quakingly of the damage that must have been done down there. I had absolutely no intention of trying to explore and find out.
Babby’s latch had started out poor – he kept pushing himself off with his tongue, and Omar Sharif, coming to see me, threatened to keep me until Saturday if necessary. However, later in the day he finally figured it out and got a good suck in. The first time he tasted colostrum, his eyes opened wide as if he had just seen God. The nurses helped me as often as they could. His latch still wasn’t great though – he was getting colostrum but it was hurting my nipples and they were stingingly painful by that night. The nurses said the problem was his lips – he kept turning his lips under instead of flaring them nicely outward.
Friday morning Omar Sharif said he was getting favorable reports from the nurses and that I could go home either at lunch or before dinner, depending on a final ok from a nurse on my latch. A disturbingly chipper and patient nurse focused her day on helping me out with that last problem, showing PH how to help me flare out his lips. For the next few days I would need someone to help me with every feeding, breathing my way through the pain while my mother or PH (PH proved better at it) fluttered around and pulled his lips out where necessary.
PH and I had been convinced for 24 hours that Babby’s eyes looked a little yellow, but Omar Sharif said it was just the lights. Chipper Nurse noticed it too, though, and reported it to the doctor who said to get a blood test just in case.
Now, they had done the heel stick on Thursday evening, while I was nursing, and that had been hard enough. Babby alternately swhined and nursed frantically for comfort while the nurse poked about getting blood for the PKU test. PH sat by, watching with his hands clenched tightly on the arms of the chair, looking like he was trying not to lynch the nurse for making his baby cry.
The bilirubin blood stick was worse. PH was off getting my mother, and they decided to show me how to hand-express my milk into a little cup while they took blood for his bilirubin. So I was stuck sitting there in a chair while over at the crib a nurse was making the baby scream and scream and scream. By then I was beginning to bond with the baby, and while I still wasn’t head-over-heels in love with him, the physical connection was there and it was really terrible to sit there and watch him scream unsoothed.
Then they put him back in my arms to nurse and left. I had to pee, so I went to swaddle him (screaming) while doing a little dance, trying to hold in the pee. PH wasn’t back with my mother so I couldn’t hand the baby off, and I dumped him unceremoniously in his crib and tried to make it to the bathroom, but it was too late – I had totally wet myself, more than the pads could hold and my pants were wet and everything. The baby continued to cry in his crib while I tried to sop up the worst of the mess and change my pads.
NOT my finest moment.
It turned out he was jaundiced, but only a little, and the nurse okayed my latch now that we knew how to fix his lips, so they let us go home that afternoon.
Beloved Dog was delighted that we had brought a baby home. He loves babies.
The Inexplicably Loved Cat was HORRIFIED. He had never seen a baby and while he would sit calmly on the couch or table while multiple retrievers swarmed around him, a BABY was clearly far too much to deal with. He spent the next two weeks doing ninja-cat, getting progressively closer to the baby. It was the funniest thing we had ever seen.
So of course we took videos.