Well, I meant to post long before this, but things are always more complicated than I expect them to be. First, let me announce the great news: the baby, a girl named Eliza (I'll call her E in future posts), was born healthy and happy on 9/23. She was 6 lbs, 9 oz and came into the world with a loud cry. She is absolutely adorable and I'll post a picture as soon as I can download my camera and get organized (ha!). Really, I will post a picture soon.
Nothing about labor and delivery went well. I was induced during week 39 because the MFM doing my non-stress tests noticed that her heartrate was dropping during my minor contractions. No big deal, really, but during the second NST where this showed up, I was sent over to the hospital for further monitoring. Sure enough, the pattern continued and the midwife called it: it was time to get this process moving. Now, on the one hand, I did not want to be induced again. I had seriously hoped to go into labor on my own this time around, but figuring that it was 39 weeks, I agreed. I really trust my midwife practice and I like the particular midwife on call that day, all of which made the decision clearer.
The induction was awful. No cervi.dil this time around--that's what was used in my last delivery and I found it to work wonderfully--kicked me into labor all on its own (no pitocin needed). This time, the hospital has switched to cy.totec, and this drug did absolutely nothing. I started the process of induction at 1 cm and 50% effaced, and after three doses of cy.totec, I was still 1 cm and 50% effaced. Stupid drug. It did, however, intensify my contractions and make them more real and painful (gee--thanks), and as a result, her heartrate kept up its plummeting during each one. They gave me oxygen, turned me around and around to see if we could dislodge her (going on the assumption that she was lying on the cord in a weird way and could be moved to stop the heartrate problem) and nothing worked. Finally, they hooked me up to pitocin to see if we could just speed things along and the heartrate got worse. A different midwife, someone I liked but didn't know well, came in and said that after conferring with the doctor on call, it was time to move on to a c-section. In everyone's opinion, something was going on with baby girl and since we couldn't fix it from the outside, it was time to intervene.
Cue the heartbreak. I cannot believe that I made it through my first labor and delivery without the threat of a c-section (I was so proud...again, I say: ha!) and yet for my second labor and delivery, I was going into major abdominal surgery. Everyone had promised me that the second baby was so much easier--I had spent hours (yes, hours) talking to the midwives about my desire for a different kind of coaching than I had gotten at my first birth, and I had visualized it many times in the hopes that it would all go smoothly. Nope. Next thing I knew, I was signing a release form of some kind and heading into the OR. It was not an emergency section, thank goodness, but it sucked nonetheless. I was freezing the entire time, shaking from the spinal, and terrified that I would somehow not survive the surgery. I know this sounds morbid, but one of the things I did in preparation for giving birth this second time around was to joke with my husband about not surviving this time. I made lists of things that he doesn't know in case I wasn't around. I showed him how to make W's favorite tofu dish. And it was all in a joking let-me-release-my-anxiety-in-a-silly-way. As I lay on the table, I thought about how unfunny it all was.
Obviously, and very thankfully, I lived. And so did Eliza. I am incredibly grateful for the skill of the surgeon and the medical community at large. I still hate that I had a c-section, but I don't think I was pushed into it. I think it really was medically necessary and in the end, I'm thrilled that we came through it alive and healthy. I have plenty to say about c-section recovery, however, but I'll save that for another post. No. Fun. At. All. Seriously.
Eliza is a delightful baby. She sleeps far more than she's awake, and yet when she's awake, she has such an amazing variety of faces, many of which remind me of a little old lady. All is not rosy, however. Breastfeeding was going wonderfully until we had to go back into the hospital--one day after being sent home--because her bilirubin number was too high. If you've read my previous posts, you may recall that my son had very serious jaundice and high bilirubin, and so it all felt like I was watching the same movie play out again, only in slightly lighter form. Her jaundice was not nearly as bad as W's, but there are other similarities: because they had her under lights for two days and on all kinds of monitors, they noticed that she has some apnea, just like W did. As I write this, I'm checking the heartrate monitor that they sent her home on to make sure that she's breathing and that her heart is beating without fail. I'll try to write about the heartrate monitor sometime--it's not as bad this time as it was last time, but it's given me deja-vu to carry around a tiny baby with cords coming out of the bottom of the swaddle attached to a blinking monitor.
The problem with breastfeeding is that while in the hospital, she got very used to the bottles of formula (the hospital had no place for me to stay overnight, so I had to agree to bottle feeding--some of formula and some of my expressed breastmilk). She got home on Friday and was clearly annoyed that my breasts were not like little spigots dumping milk into her mouth without effort. I think it's getting better, but I can't tell. I feel like my breasts have dried up completely as a result of the lack of suction (I should have pumped, but didn't want to get too engorged...now I would give anything to feel engorged again!). Argh. Who designed this crazy system? I'm going to stick with it, but it's definitely provoking my anxiety.
I have other posts in the works. One about the weird grief I've been feeling for the change in my relationship to W--I adore Eliza, but I desperately miss the days when it was just W and me against the world. He's had a slightly rocky adjustment, too, and I'll write about it. I also have one about the many anxieties that plagued my last few weeks of pregnancy--they were very different this time around, and more intense, and I couldn't write about them in real time because they were, well, too real. Now that she's here I feel more free to express them out loud and in writing. I'm home for maternity leave for the next seven weeks (whoo hoo--I just wish it were longer!) and hope to get these posts finished and posted. In fact, my plan for writing is to continue focusing not on the new baby and how cute she is (of course she is...what baby isn't adorable to its mother!). Instead, I want to meditate on how all these external changes--babies, motherhood, work, politics--are affecting my sense of self as a woman, a person, a member of several communities. I hope to write more, think more deliberately about myself and my position in the world, and take care of a newborn, all at the same time. Should be easy, no? ;)