Since I covered McLovin’s birth story I thought I would also talk a bit about my recovery from a medication free vaginal birth.
I am happy to report that recovery has gone well, and honestly I was expecting it to be worse than it was. The first few days were very uncomfortable, but not painful. Everything was a bloody mess though, literally and figuratively (sorry if TMI!.) The morning after delivery (Thursday) it felt odd to walk around – everything “down there” felt very delicate. And, I had a rather large and awkward ice pack “down there” to help with swelling. It felt good to have the ice, but it was very awkward to maneuver with it and I was waddling like I was still pregnant. I think I used the ice packs for only 24 hours. I was surprised at how uncomfortable and a (little) painful it felt to even move myself around in the bed – up and down or from side to side when the nurses or doctors would come in to check my bottom. Getting to my side was actually very painstaking and I had to move SLOWLY. That discomfort continued for at least 48 hours but was manageable. By the second day (Friday) I was walking around the maternity floor and going to and from the nourishment station – making myself cups of tea, grabbing some cranberry juice or ginger ale, and just getting a change of scenery. I walked around in my robe and slippers and liked seeing the names of the other babies on each door. I would walk around a couple times a day to check the names of the new arrivals. The nurses encouraged me to get up and walk around and move my legs and I’m glad I did. My mother in law thought it was strange that I was dressed and up and moving around – apparently she was in such pain after delivering The Husband that she was “crawling on all fours” for days after and she claims that’s the reason The Husband is an only child. I don’t know if that’s an exaggeration or not, but my recovery was nothing like that.
After delivery, during skin to skin, we tried to see if McLovin would feed but he wasn’t interested. He actually did not have any interest in feeding until about 24 hours after birth. And once he decided to eat, he awoke with a vengeance- he was very sleepy the first 24 hours, which I was surprised about considering I used no meds that would have affected him, but I guess some babies are just sleepy. Once we did finally figure it out I did get some cramping when I would breastfeed, but it was no worse than typical menstrual cramps.
My feet were a bit swollen while in the hospital but are back to normal now, but my fingers are still a bit swollen (I still can’t fit my engagement ring on my ring finger.) My ring finger is normally 4 and a quarter, but was measuring a 5 yesterday.
During my two night hospital stay I was offered pain medication on several occasions but didn’t need it – not Motrin, not Tylenol. After delivery the pain I was feeling felt very minimal. I guess it’s all about perspective. One of the nurses told me I was the easiest patient she had for her shift. I started taking this herbal supplement Thursday morning after delivery, per my acupuncturist, and am still taking it today.
As of now I am no longer bleeding, more like occasional light spotting – very very light and very very occasional.
Some other random thoughts on recovery and hospital stay:
- I’m glad I had some of my own comfortable items from home with me – slippers, robe, and a sleep mask for my eyes. There was always a dim light on in our room, as the nurses would come in during the night to check on me/McLovin a few times, and light would come in when they opened the door. I was glad to have the mask with me so it made the continuous dim light and jarring bright lights when the door opened less so. I delivered McLovin in one of my sports bras and favorite tee shirts and it made me feel less like a “patient” and more like a human to have my own clothes.
- I’m definitely a fan of the mesh underwear at the hospital. I used those the entire time I was there, and even took a stash home with me. Very comfortable and useful in this situation.
- Showering that Thursday morning felt heavenly. I was glad I brought my own toiletries, the hospital toiletries left much to be desired.
- I also loved the little “Perineal Irrigation Bottle“. I can’t explain why I loved it so much but I did. Very convenient. I took one of those for my stash too.
- I wish I had taken other people’s advice more seriously when they said you should consider limiting visitors the first day. After delivering at 10:30 Wednesday night, not getting to the maternity unit until 1AM Thursday morning, answering all the maternity nurses’s questions, and then getting very little sleep that morning due to the sheer adrenaline and watching McLovin sleep, I was running on fumes through much of the day after lunch. And of course, EVERYONE wants to visit – which is nice and thoughtful, but in hindsight I probably should have said no to the aunts/uncles and kept it to only our parents. Not to mention how many hospital staffers are in and out all day long – pediatrician, OB, nurses, nurse assistants, lactation consultants, cleaning staff, food delivery and tray pick up, etc. That first day it felt like we never had a minute to ourselves.
- To the point above, for some God-forsaken reason my MIL and FIL decided not to visit until 7 at night the day after delivery (Thursday) and stayed until 8:30. I really don’t know why they thought this was a good idea, considering they knew how late we were up the night before and how little sleep we got, but they did and I was very annoyed. VERY annoyed. This is the one point during our stay that The Husband and I got into a disagreement – I was pissed that they waited so long to show up especially considering my MIL is retired so it’s not like she had to work during the day. All I wanted to do was sleep, and instead they decide to come meet McLovin then when they had all day to do it. I was not happy at all.
- I got my breast pump at the hospital – they handled getting it approved and covered 100% through my insurance company on Thursday for me, and then gave me a tutorial on Friday when they delivered it. It was nice not to have to worry about it at all and to know it was handled.
- I brought my breastfeeding pillow to the hospital with me, but I didn’t use it once while we were there. I just used pillows.
- I’m glad I packed my nursing bras/tank tops in our bags and had them with me. Made it so much easier to breastfeed while we were there and I didn’t feel completely exposed all the time.
- The hospital food was pretty good, and it was nice to have three delivered meals a day – I didn’t have to worry a bit about it, they would take my order each morning and lunch/dinner were three courses, I definitely indulged in the desserts. My mother also brought me one of my favorite turkey subs the day after delivery, since I had been craving one for those 8+ months.
- Discharge took longer than they said it would. I was supposed to be out by noon, but didn’t get out until 2PM. I was a little annoyed by this but I got one last lunch and slice of angel food cake.
- It felt so strange to walk out with McLovin. I remember leaving the maternity unit, and going to the elevator and seeing a pregnant woman getting off the elevator and thinking – “Wow that was just me a few days ago. Now I am leaving with a little person.”
- Like the Labor and Delivery nurses, the Maternity nurses were top notch. I have no complaints about any of them or the care we received- as soon as I’d hit the call button or call their individual phones they’d answer right away. I never felt like our needs weren’t met or that I had unanswered questions. They were very attentive overall and particularly encouraging about breastfeeding – especially during the first day when he wouldn’t eat and I was getting stressed thinking that something was wrong or that he was starving himself.
- I wish I had kept a list of the nurses/nursing assistants that we had for each shift. I can only remember a few of their names off the top of my head.
- McLovin did not have a name until well over 24 hours after birth. I felt bad when the registrar’s office called that first morning asking for a name so they could begin the birth certificate process – and I was like “Nope, sorry not yet!” and they laughed and said they’d check back the next day. We had it narrowed to two and then we started soliciting input from everyone – family who was visiting and nurses. We pulled names out of a hat – first two out of three, then three out of five. Finally on Friday morning we decided and it was a relief to have that done.
- Getting my leave approval/STD approval from work was easier than I thought it would be. I don’t know why I expected it to be difficult, I guess that’s just the reputation HR has, but it was easy and that was good.