Vaughan’s first day is almost a blur to me at this point, but I’m sure that functioning on 2 hrs of sleep, rioting emotions, and learning the ins and outs of the NICU, on top of the physical side effects of giving birth, are bound to mess with one’s mind!
Andrew and I napped for a couple of hours back in our ‘Mother and Baby’ room, somewhat less bitter with the other new parents and their chubby pink babies…but only slightly…
We were woken up by a nurse who’s arms were filled with lots of clear plastic bottles, tubes and syringes, while wheeling a strange green box into my cube. It was time to learn to pump! Andrew took a break while the nurse showed me how to hook up the bottles and myself to the hospital grade breast pump…and let me tell you, turning that sucker (pun intended) on for the first time was something I’ll never forget! I about hit the ceiling I jumped so high…and tried my best to relax and let it do it’s thing…I felt so much more in control at that moment, I was finally able to do something useful for my baby! Now I could go on about the pump for a while, it and I have an intensely personal relationship even almost 12 months later, but I’ll save that for a later date…excited?
After I did my time with the pump Andrew and I laid down a bit while we waited for family to arrive. Lunch was delivered….salmon sandwiches and tomato juice. Gag! I remember this purely for the extreme grossness of the meal. I promptly send Andrew out for more edible fare just as our first visitors walked in the doors. Vaughan was one popular boy! On his first day alone he met all 5 of his grandparents, an uncle, a cousin and two of our great friends! The NICU only allows two people at the bedside at a time so it was a veritable rotating door of visitors taking the long walk to that busy ‘Back Room’.
Everyone was in awe of our tiny miracle but very afraid to touch him. Andrew and I would open the side hatch to his isolette and lay our hands on him while the visitors looked on. He even showed his large personality but throwing several silent temper tantrums, waving those fragile arms and legs with a gusto! I say silent temper tantrums here because the ventilator cut off his ability to make any noise since it went down his throat by his voice box. You could see him opening his mouth to scream but no sound would come out! This freaked me out a bit because his heart monitor would speed up, but the nurses would come over, look in and smile before heading back to their work. He was doing just fine they assured me the zillion time I asked….and I asked a lot…
Sitting at his bedside was another one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. We weren’t able to hold him yet so we just sat and stared at him, reaching in to touch him for short periods of time before alternating glances between him and his monitor. Now the monitors are fabulous things, they keep track of breathing, heart rate and oxygen saturation and have loud obnoxious buzzers that go off when the readings aren’t ideal. However it’s hard to watch them and hold your breath each time one stat dips or spikes…waiting for it to go back to normal. Vaughan had a few blips with his heart rate but luckily for us he always evened himself right out. We met with the resident again who looked much happier with Vaughan’s progress and finally reverted back to a small fraction of our ‘new parent’ euphoria.
Now as for myself, this day was a bit harder on me physically. On top of my significant weight gain from the pregnancy I also began to swell…and swell… No one had mentioned to me that you could balloon up after giving birth!! I thought my days of swollen ankles were in the past but apparently not. Water retention is never kind to your looks and let me tell you how fabulous it is on a day when everyone wants to take your picture! So glad my swollen face will now live on forever in digital media….
There were also two other nifty physical aftereffects I discovered on my own that day and wished that someone had shared with me before my delivery. Number one was that you get contractions when you pump. I’d thought that type of pain was in my past…but nope! So not only do I have some strange, cold plastic molesting my upper half…I get to relive the discomfort of the night before…perfect! Also I didn’t realize that giving birth also results in the period from hell. Forget ‘Always’ and pack the ‘Depends’! I thought pregnancy made me feel like I’d lost control of my body but after delivery was a whole new ballgame…The nurses continued to push a large selection of pills on me to assure my comfort during this mess, but I picked and chose which ones I needed…who wants to be all doped up when there are so many exciting things going on!
After a day of running back and forth to the NICU, visiting with family, meeting with doctors for both myself and Vaughan, and pumping every two hours Andrew and I were exhausted and ready to cuddle in for a more relaxing evening…yeah right…