In the days after you give birth you are transported into the maternity hospital baby bubble. The outside world and all it’s strife dissipates entirely and each day slides into the next as you exist in a one-dimensional space of comforting hospital routine, wholly consumed by the smell, the sound, the tiny touch and the indescribable gaze of your newborn.
The doctor came to speak with my partner and I the morning after I had given birth. They had found an infection in my placenta and baby’s blood work had come back with an high white blood cell count followed by a normal count within an unusually quick time frame. The high white blood cell count would suggest he was fighting an infection but the sudden drop to normal was unheard of and suggested that he wasn’t! Long story short our little man seemed fine but both Mars and myself would be monitored and kept on antibiotics for five days as a precaution. At first I didn’t mind, I was tender from the surgery as would be expected and nervous so where better to be?! I had a catheter for a while as is the normal procedure (which I hated!) and doing anything that involved my abdominal muscles hurt and in turn scared me 😦 laughing, coughing, sneezing, moving in and out of the bed, walking, sitting, standing all included. The days weren’t so bad, primarily because my wonderful partner was by my side for every one of them. He came to the hospital at 9am every morning and stayed until he had to leave at 9pm every night. I was so blessed that we were able to do this and I am forever thankful for how well he took care of me in those early days. I have the utmost respect and admiration for all women who go through the recovery process alone, they are absolute heroines in my eyes, I don’t know how they do it!
My daily routine was breakfast at 7am, then a feed for Mars, my partner arrived at 9am , I went for a shower while he watched baby and by the time I managed to shower and change my nightdress (it was a very slow process) it was almost time for lunch (12pm) and then feed-burp-nappy change-repeat throughout the day with my partners help, dinner at 5pm, visitors between 6 and 8pm and the worst part, saying goodbye to my partner for the night time.
I found our hospital stay difficult because of the nights. The midwives and staff were all amazingly supportive and caring, especially the night staff and I honestly believe the hospital itself couldn’t have been better but personally I am quite the introvert. I like my space and my privacy, especially if I’m not feeling great, and neither can really be afforded to you on a public ward. During the day for example, I liked to keep my curtain closed because I was shy but one particular nurse kept ripping it open anytime she passed through saying that we needed to “let the light in!”. She was just doing her job, I understand that now but she wasn’t sensitive or perhaps aware that I was and it unnerved me. At night, I’m a fussy sleeper and can’t sleep with any noise or light at the best of times so on a ward of six beautiful babies testing their lungs and constant nurse checks , lights on and off, staff and patients in and out, I definitely couldn’t and even if I could have fallen asleep it wouldn’t have been for any length of time because I had chosen to breast feed and our little man, waiting for my milk to come in, was waking every hour with screams for food! (Yes, choosing to breastfeed made the first few weeks a little more difficult but it was worth it, worth it, worth it! The rewards of breastfeeding for mother and baby along with the sense of bonding are just incredible. I wholeheartedly encourage every mum to try it, just try it, for three weeks. Get through the wait for milk, the initially sore nipples and the routine of when to feed and how long for etc and then make your decision on whether to continue.) The hardest thing was getting Mars out of his cot. I couldn’t lift myself out of bed and the cot was a lot higher than the bed so I couldn’t reach into it and lift him out unless I knelt up, which I couldn’t do either! I would have to call a nurse to help me out of bed and then carry my catheter as I shuffled around the bed to the cot, lift him out while still carrying my catheter (I couldn’t bend far enough to put it down and pick it up again), shuffle back to the side of the bed I could get into, while holding baby and setting down the catheter as I inched into a seating position. This was all while he was screaming impatiently for food and necessary every hour when he woke up which meant by the time I fed, burped, changed, put him down and got back into bed I had about half an hour before I had to start all over again. As the days passed I could get out of bed easier and easier and I didn’t have the catheter THANK GOD. For any mum having a c-section my best advice is to take it easy and trust that your body will do the work. You will be amazed at how much you improve day to day and though you may feel as if you can’t move on day one by day five you will be pleasantly shocked by your progress.
Without sleep for so many nights and in discomfort, it was exhausting to have to keep getting in and out of bed all night and soul destroying when every time I got him to go to sleep a nurse would have to come in and do a check which meant waking him :'(. I was quite tearful and emotional by the fourth and fifth day. I was still blissfully happy and in love with the little man but I was completely exhausted from lack of sleep and missing the peace and quiet of my own home. On the day I was due to go home I had been so excited all night, I hadn’t even minded the no sleep and had missioned through knowing I was finally going home to sleeeeep! That morning the doctor came to tell me I had to stay another day and tears streamed my face, I couldn’t control them, I didn’t know how I’d do another night of looking after my little man on zero sleep. I spoke to the doctor and the midwife on duty and they assured me I could leave the next morning so I pushed myself through one more sleepless night, keeping myself going with the image of my partner, baby and I at home the following evening, firmly planted in my head. Morning came and I was told again that I couldn’t leave for another day because we needed one more dose of antibiotics. I wanted to collapse into a ball. The tears came and refused to stop, I had reached breaking point! The midwife on duty could see this and as I explained to her that I was definitely told by more than one staff member including the doctor in charge of administering our antibiotics that I WAS GOING HOME that day, she looked into it and confirmed that I could. I was elated!!
My mum collected us and came up to the ward to help with our bags. I had everything packed and ready to go as soon as possible! We checked out and walked as fast as we could out of those big old hospital doors with little Mars all wrapped up in a white snowsuit for his first glimpse of the outside world. He blinked successively as his eyes adjusted to the harsh winter sunlight…the hospital bubble had burst and not a moment too soon.