Remember the Maternity Ward?

Chatting with my sister/sister-in-law/first-wife (haha) in hospital, after she gave birth to her daughter just last night, has brought back a lot of memories from my own experience.

What you don’t really hear about is what happens after baby is born, during your hospital stay. So I thought I’d share my story.

Well, first of all, Sarah is a superhero because this is the second time she has given birth without an epidural. That takes unimaginable strength.

See with me, the first time I went into labour it lasted 36 hours, so my contractions got more intense gradually. I went in with the intent to give natural labour a chance, but ended up getting an epidural 20 or so hours in just because I was EXHAUSTED and couldn’t physically handle any more contractions – especially as the small amounts of progress I was making had come to an abrupt halt at 4cm (remaining stalled for hours while the contractions continued no less).

So when I was ready to give birth to my second baby boy almost 2 years later, I was expecting more of the same, only perhaps slightly faster as subsequent labours tend to be. I was NOT expecting to be at the hospital by 11:30am, baby in my arms by 1pm.

Faster isn’t always better.

Contractions my second time around ramped up from moderate to excruciating within minutes. When I arrived at the hospital I had long since discarded my plans for a natural labour, and the nurses were saying “Wow, this girl is just about ready to push! We should see that baby within the hour!” OMG. We probably should have left earlier, but I was busy being excited, brushing my hair and taking photos for Facebook..?!?!!

Needless to say, at that point I was alternating between swearing like a sailor and crying and pleading for someone to please “make it stop”. I kept demanding an epidural, and they did carefully administer one to me while I tried my best to sit perfectly still through contraction after contraction as they inserted a needle into my spine! When no relief followed, I was convinced that they didn’t give me any pain meds at all, and declared that I didn’t believe them. (Omg, embarrassing.) I ended up having a panic attack too, because there was no rest between the contractions and I couldn’t handle the pain any longer. Being out of control is your worst nightmare when you have an anxiety disorder!

But the epidural at last kicked in mere moments before Jake’s head popped out. In hindsight now I really wish I had tried to go med-free knowing I didn’t have much longer to stick it out. But I didn’t have the coping resources back then, as this was before I was on medication for my anxiety.

After an hour or so in the delivery room, you and baby are then taken to the maternity ward and given a room there. I was lucky because at the Ottawa Hospital they let me stay in a semi-private room for no cost, and no one else ended up sharing the room with me! Now, here are the nitty gritties – and don’t say I didn’t warn you!! My legs were shaky because of the epidural, but I could walk. I needed to pee, and a nurse helped me get to the toilet. Then she wanted to WATCH ME, to be sure that everything was in working order down there. This is when I discovered that I was completely numbed in that area, and thus had no idea how to pee.

Ralph: “I’m scared, daddy! Too scared to wet my pants!
Chief Wiggum: “Just relax, son, and it’ll come..

Back in bed I nestled under my sheet and resumed nursing Jake. This is of course when family and friends stop by to visit. People who are happy for you, excited to meet the new baby. Meanwhile there you are, fully naked body protected by standard issue cotton pyjamas which just about manage to cover your front, leaving the rest of you exposed. Your boob hanging out, and you are leaking – LEAKING! – from down below, as your uterus slowly begins to shrink back to its original size, squeezing out blood and various bits of leftover placenta that jettison out randomly as it goes. It all neatly falls onto an absorbent pad beneath you. While you are there smiling like there’s nothing out of the ordinary, chatting with your friends, and just hoping that you don’t expose something that cannot be unseen with the minimal coverings you are given to work with.

I chose to breastfeed with this baby too, so the nurses get you to page them when you are nursing during the night so that they can keep track of how baby’s doing – how many wet diapers he’s produced, and check him out while he’s already awake. I hated having to do this as I just wanted privacy; for us to be left alone. At some point in the night, a nurse will come to collect baby to be weighed and have some blood taken (from his foot!). He will be returned to you wrapped up like a little eskimo, impeccably sealed in, warm and happy and totally asleep. (I still to this day have no idea how to swaddle.) She will place him back into his plastic bassinet where he will sleep happily. ….Until he gets hungry. Then he wakes up and WILL NEVER BE SATISFIED AGAIN. Jake just wasn’t having it after I nursed him and placed him back into his bassinet by my bed, so eventually my sleep-muddled brain decided that I should just sneak him into bed with me so he could nurse as much as he liked, cuddle and be warm, while I could finally SLEEP! We dozed off this way as the sun rose over the hospital, and as the clock struck 6am staff began to wander into our room. FFFFUUUUUU. Jake was woken for a hearing test while I was fed a high-fibre poop-inducing breakfast, another naked weigh-in and blood sampling for Jake, more poking and prodding of the uterus and nethers for me… And they say the maternity ward is for the mother to “recuperate”. Well then take the kid and give me 10 hours uninterrupted sleep already, jeez! lol. I did get a break from Logan duty during my stay though, allowing me to laze about in bed all day for the first time since his birth, while nurses changed diapers for me and gave Jake a bath. :) However I missed both Logan and Paul terribly and had no idea what to do with myself as I was WITHOUT INTERNET to boot.

I ended up staying for two days, as they wanted to be sure Jake wasn’t going to become jaundiced. I asked to go home instead of stay on another day, but then I had to go back to the hospital for that one last blood test. Apparently I was eager to return home and jump straight into being human slave to THREE screaming boys. (Yes, I’ve included my husband in this. Hah.)

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2 Responses to Remember the Maternity Ward?

  1. dawn says:

    haha awww!! I -hated- my hospital experience!! for me tho, it was the nicu that was the worst part!! perhaps i need to write about my experience too!!

  2. Kris says:

    shared with humour but omg so true!!! mothers are true survivors of trips to hellish strange places and back, that no one else will really understand until they’re there. I have picked up “It sucked and then I cried” again now that I am far enough from the birth and the post-partum and the ALL the horrible crying (the baby’s horrible crying too) to not be pulled back into it.

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