The day before I was induced with Landon, I had a regular doctor appointment at which my blood pressure was a little too high for the doctor’s liking. He calmly reassured me that he didn’t think the baby or I were in any immediate danger but he wanted to rule out the possibility of preeclampsia. So, I was admitted to the hospital for testing. I definitely started panicking…I was nowhere near ready! I didn’t have a bag packed, our house was a freaking disaster, and I worried that Briar would think I had abandoned her. As soon as I got settled in the triage room, my blood pressure returned to a normal level (of course) and stayed that way for a few hours so I was sent home. The next day I had a follow-up appointment with my doctor and yet again, my blood pressure was high. This time I was much better prepared for what was in store. My bags were packed, the house was in better condition, and I had given Briar extra love and attention that morning. My doctor asked me how I felt about an induction now that I was 2 for 2 in terms of high blood pressure and I was totally game. He called the hospital to confirm the details and within a few hours, I was hooked up to pitocin and feeling eager to start the process!
My labor was a dream (seriously!) I made sure to get the epidural before they broke my water and it was smooth sailing nearly the entire thirteen hours. I felt a lot of pressure in my back but nothing too painful until the very end. Just the week before, I had an ultrasound that showed that Landon was sunny side up (head down, facing my stomach) and I was pretty sure he was still in that position based on the location of the pressure. About two hours before the pushing phase, the epidural had mostly worn off and I could really feel the contractions rolling in. While it wasn’t the most enjoyable part of the experience, I remained in control of my mental state and trusted that my body was doing what it was designed to do. I did my best to relax my body (softening my jaw, letting my limbs fall limp) and envisioned the contractions not as painful but rather as “sensations” that would pass just as quickly as they came. I knew I had to get through at least an hour of constant contractions before my doctor would be there and this mindset totally worked. Finally, it was time to push! The delivery was challenging but very relaxed and calm. After 45 minutes, the doctor handed him to me and I was instantly in love. He was perfect! All those days of worrying about what it meant to be having a boy instantly disappeared. I was completely and utterly smitten.
Sadly, the delivery was much harder on Landon than anyone could have guessed. He came out at an awkward angle, thus creating a large hematoma on the right side of his head which eventually lead to jaundice. He was also in respiratory distress and needed to be on a CPAP immediately (hence the NICU admittance). John and I had no idea what was going on. It was very disorienting as we watched the delivery room immediately fill with nurses and doctors and then saw our baby being whisked away.
The hardest part of the process was not knowing what to expect. Despite nearly every nurse telling us that he would be going home soon, no doctor was willing to sign off on him being discharged. In the grand scheme of it all, we were the lucky ones. As I looked around the room of incubators filled with babies much too young to be in the outside world, I knew Landon was just fine. At 9 pounds, he certainly was the biggest — and only full term — baby there. But still. It was hard to go back to our rooms without a baby nestled between us. It was hard to hold him while he was tethered to wires. It was hard to leave the hospital without a baby in my arms. It was hard to be away from Briar for so long since she was too young to come visit him in the NICU. It was hard to reconcile with my vision of how the first few days would look. I felt so guilty about the delivery: what could I have done differently to avoid this situation altogether? This was all my fault! I was a mess, to say the least.
The recovery process is uncomfortable at best. Sitting down, walking, and — god forbid — sneezing are suddenly big productions. If there was a bright side to having Landon in the NICU, it was the fact that I had to get up and walk quite a bit starting on day one. There was no time to focus on my own discomfort. I was much more concerned about my baby’s well being and doing everything in my power to bring him home.
There were also many other were bright spots amidst the stress of the situation. We were given the best care possible by the kindest nurses and doctors who treated us with the utmost respect and sympathy. After Landon was born and taken to the NICU, one of my nurses and my doctor made sure to find out was happening so they could come back to the delivery room and hold my hand and reassure me that everything was going to be okay. They didn’t have to do that but it meant so much to me. There were moments where John made me laugh until I cried. We were able to get a lot more rest than we would have if Landon had been in the recovery room with us. We learned a ton about babies and I had a wonderful meeting with a lactation consultant whom, despite my nineteen months of breastfeeding Briar, still opened my eyes to different ways of overcoming nursing struggles.
Nursing has been a breeze, THANKFULLY, in spite of the obstacles it took to get him home. I wasn’t allowed to nurse him on the first day and that was one of the most heartbreaking aspects of the whole situation. I feared that he wouldn’t be receptive to breastfeeding after being on bottles from birth but I was happily mistaken. Landon took right to nursing and I savored every opportunity I was given while he was in the NICU.
When he was finally discharged on day four, we excitedly headed to my parents’ house to introduce Briar to her new brother. I had planned out both babies’ outfits, I had the camera charged, and I couldn’t wait to capture the big introduction. But by the time we got there, the sun had gone down and as luck would have it, the power had gone out on their street! So yet again, I had to laugh at the irony of the situation and embrace the fact that Briar and Landon were meeting for the first time by the light of iPhone flashlights. Ha! Life, you guys. That’s what I get for making plans!
P.S. As soon as we left the hospital, I had that crazy feeling of “I can’t wait to do this again!” that I had after Briar’s birth. I mean, it’s the craziest, most painful, most emotionally-charged experience on the planet but there is NOTHING like it. When I told John, he looked at me in horror. Ha! Don’t worry guys. If there’s a baby number three (which I think there will be), he or she won’t be here for a few more years ;)