Bringing Baby Home

I don’t know how else to phrase it so I’m just going to go ahead and say that the first few days at home with Ella were horrible. You, read that correctly – ho-rri-ble. It was by far the most emotionally and physically draining time of my life. Let’s put it another way shall we? I would rather go through child labor every day for a month rather than re-live those first days one more time. It was that bad.

Where do I start? Maybe right at the hospital when my doctor came to my bedside on the morning after I gave birth and gently said, “The first several days are going to be rough. But it gets better.” Or that same night, when Ella cried for 3 hours nonstop. No, I think the true starting point of hell week was the day we were discharged from the hospital – 2 days after I’d given birth. The minute we were given the go ahead to clear out of the room, Ella began to cry. And by cry I mean scream in the most gut-wrenching and horrifying manner on earth. It was loud and it was shrill. It was awful. It was almost as if she knew we had been allowed to take her home and she was trying to warn someone, ANYONE, that we were rookies at this parenting thing and had no business being allowed to take a newborn home. Or maybe she was trying to warn us in the only way she knew how that the next several days were going to be rough.

That cry tormented us over the next few days. She would be fine one moment and then the next, she would refuse to breastfeed and opt instead to scream her lungs off. Hubs and I almost went mad. Emotionally we were beyond the point of fragile – I wept uncontrollably. I wept whenever I spoke (no matter what I was saying), I wept whenever I looked at her, I wept whenever I thought about her…I just wept. All the time. It was so ridiculous that after going through a hundred tissues, I started carrying around a TOWEL to wipe the tears away. Physically we were at a point of sleep deprivation that had turned us into zombies. And let’s not forget that I had just pushed out a human being out of my you-know-what so I was still recovering from THAT.  I was an injured zombie (though zombies are by definition, injured, so I guess I was an ideal zombie). We were too tired to stay clothed – I was breastfeeding constantly so it made no sense at all to wear anything on my upper half and then for some reason, the elastic on my poor husband’s sweats gave way and they kept on falling. Our apartment became a nudist colony. A zombie nudist colony.     

It was not until we went for Ella’s first appointment with the pediatrician two days after we brought her home that we found out why she had been crying so much – she was HUNGRY! Let me take this moment to say that colostrum is a huge fat disappointment. Breastfeeding die-hards call it liquid gold. Yeah, right. I call it insufficient. She breastfed nonstop and was still hungry! And I had been so trained to think of formula as the devil’s juice that I was determined never to go that route. My poor little girl took one sip of formula at the doctor’s office and slept soundly for hours. For the next 10 days (until my mature milk came in), I supplemented her feedings with formula and we never had to hear that cry again. Things have continued to get better ever since. I think of this as my first lesson in motherhood – you do what works to survive! I have a feeling that I’m going to break all the rules I read about and adopted before I had a baby – no formula and no pacifier are already out the window. It’s all about survival and adapting to different situations on the fly. Like a ninja.


A Birth Story

 Wednesday, November 3rd 2010

11 a.m. – I wake up (Don’t judge me. In my defense I had been up for a full hour in the wee hours of the morning with false labor pains). I wake up feeling fine but I have a stinking suspicion that my water may have broken or at least leaked at some point during the night.

12 p.m. – Call my doctor. She asks me what time in the morning I think my water broke. I explain that I just woke up an hour ago and couldn’t be sure but probably sometime between 5 a.m. (when I was up with the false labor) and 11 a.m. when I woke up.  “So, you just woke up?” *awkward silence while I consider lying about what time I woke up but then decide that she’s my doctor and not my father so, whatever* YES. She tells me that she believes me, my water has probably broken but since I’m not having any contractions I should hang out at home. If after 12 hours, I haven’t gone into full labor, I am to report straight to the hospital.

3 p.m. – My efforts to initiate contractions are beginning to get desperate – I’ve done it all: walked around the neighborhood, bounced on a bouncy ball, eaten a WHOLE pineapple, everything! In a last ditch effort to coax my body into labor, I decide that I’m going to dance the afternoon away. I turn on the TV and begin to get down with my pregnant self to some dancehall music. WOOSH! Right in the middle of a spectacular getting-low move (you should have seen me people, I was shaking di dam ting!) the rest of my water broke. No question about it this time. This was really happening. I braced myself for the contractions that were sure to be starting any moment.

9 p.m. – No contractions! Not a single one! My body had just refused to cooperate. Induction was looking like my only option. Crap! I’d been told that induction increases the chances of a c-section. Crappity crap crap. My body officially sucked. Oh well. I decided to groom myself and pack my bags for the hospital. What kind of grooming, you ask? Well. For starters, I shaved my legs so that the doctor wouldn’t be distracted by bear-like legs during delivery. Hubs and I packed our bags and hailed a cab.

11 p.m. – I check into the hospital. They confirm that yes, my water had definitely broken and the nurse giddily informs us that we’re gonna have a baby. No sh*t lady. They start me on pitocin (labor induction drug) to bring on those elusive contractions. I braced myself for the contractions that were sure to be starting any moment.

Thursday, November 4th 2010

8:15 a.m. – No contractions! Ok, let me re-phrase that: no intense contractions! I had mild cramping sensations but that was all. On a scale of 1 to 10, the pain was at a 2. Crappity crap crap! They called my doctor in to discuss my situation and she decided to break the rest of my water (apparently, I had a never-ending supply of water) to see if that would move things along. Having lost all confidence in my body to labor properly, I braced myself for more of nothing.

8:16 a.m. – HOLY CRAP MOTHER OF ALL CONTRACTIONS! The horrrrrorrrrrrr! On a scale of 1 to 10, the pain was most definitely at 100. It felt like I was having the worst cramps in the history of cramps but at the same time, someone was torching my lower back and uterus from the inside. Aching, burning, piercing PAIN. It was so shocking that I couldn’t even scream or cry. All I could do was make low guttural sounds reminiscent of a scene from The Exorcist.  After a grand total of 15 minutes breathing, walking and kumbayaaing through non-stop contractions I demanded to see the anesthesiologist. STAT!

8:50 a.m. – It took 20 minutes of sitting still through some excruciating contractions but they finally administered the epidural. WOW. I think the epidural was laced with weed because I felt AMAAAAAZING. I was so happy (or high) that I couldn’t stop smiling. Where had this drug been all my life? I told the anesthesiologists that I loved them. They didn’t seem surprised.

2:00 p.m. – The epidural was still making my life very easy…it had taken the pain down to about a 3 so although I could feel the contractions, they felt like mild cramps. I was so relaxed that the doctor had to come and check on me if only to remind me that I still had a baby to birth.  To our surprise, when she checked, she found that I was ready to push. (Imagine that, my body had finally decided to get with the program!). She went to call the nurse and together they began to prep the room for delivery. We really were gonna have a baby after all!

2:32 p.m. – After less than 20 minutes of nearly effortless pushing, my daughter slipped out of me and into the world.

What followed next were several hours of indescribable joy…I laughed and cried hysterically. Hands down, those were the best moments of my life.

Too bad the sheer ecstasy of those first couple of days did nothing to prepare us for the sheer dreadfulness characteristic of life with a newborn.

 To be continued. (Cue dramatic music)

She’s Here! (And why last week was the best week ever)

She’s here! I can hardly believe it myself. Our little Ella was born on November 4, 2010. She’s the primary reason for my week-long silence ( and bloodshot eyes and bushy eyebrows AND overgrown toenails – oh dear, I just described Big Foot didn’t I? ). I have so much to say about labor (not what I expected), newborns (definitely not what I expected) and my life as a rookie mom (ok, I saw this one coming) but I have no time to say it! I’ll take a moment to organize my thoughts (and life in general) but while I do so, feast your eyes on this picture of the much awaited little princess.

Wrapped up like a burrito!

And as if last week was not already the best week ever:

1. The Green Calabash got nominated (by some awesome gals) for a Mommy blog award! Wanna vote for me? Just click on the badge below and go right ahead!

2.  The Green Calabash was featured as blog of the week in Zuqka magazine – page 15, a publication of the Daily Nation (a Kenyan Newspaper)!