Post-Partum Details

And there we were, with a white gooey cute perfect little GIRL resting on my chest. Unbelievable stuff. I was overcome with surprise and delight--my not-so-secret desperate wish for a daughter rather than a son, fulfilled? (Not that I dislike boys, but I have three brothers and my one darling Leelo and so am feeling more than taken care of on the XY count.)

Seymour and Doula A all hung around, oohing and beaming. As they should. "Hi, Mali!" I said, "I'm so glad you're here!"

Dr. K finished her business down below. No perineal tears, woo-hoo! What a good baby. The good doctor then announced, about 20 minutes after she'd arrived, "Well, that's that! Nice and easy. Are you sure you want to have your tubes tied? I really don't mind delivering you." Heh. Right. Off she went.

In came Seymour's parents, who had been waiting out in the hall and most likely heard me yelling. Mali is their fifth grandchild, but they were just as pleased as if she was their first. We called my mom to let her know what was up. And she, though altruistically missing the birth to be with Leelo and Iz, got to be the one to tell an ecstatic Iz that she had a baby sister.

After 10 minutes or so, we decided to see if she was going to be a good eater. Mali latched on right away! Good sign. Whew.

Our delivery nurse was extraordinarily cool. Even though parents are no longer allowed to take placentas home with them--the organs have been reclassified as biohazardous waste--she snuck ours to us anyhow. "Don't tell the day shift I did this!" she crowed, "Biohazardous waste--it came from your body, it's yours--what, is the baby now biohazardous waste, too?" She also warned us about raccoons, about planting placentas deep and putting cages around the trees and roots at first. Seymour smuggled the forbidden goods home to our freezer, where it is currently resting with its siblings.

After about 30 minutes, Seymour went off with Mali to the nursery for all the bathing and weighing and whatnot. Doula A checked to make sure I was okay, and left. The delievery nurse took out my IV. I dozed. Seymour and Mali came back, and, though my dear partner offered to stay in the room, I sent him home to sleep so that Leelo wouldn't freak out when he woke up. Me missing makes him upset enough; his reaction to both of us missing would be more than I'd want to foist upon my mom.

I spent the night dozing on and off, with Mali snuggled back on my chest. No one came in to check on me all night, which was a welcome change from previous stays--perhaps the hospital has finally realized that patients don't like being disturbed before sunrise?

Around 7 A.M., I got bored and called my mom to ask if they could come by soon, with doughnuts, as I'd missed dinner the previous night. She, and everyone else, were still asleep, so I apologized, and told them to come whenever they liked as long as they came before 11:30, as my surgery was scheduled for noon.

A while later, they still hadn't arrived, but the morning shift nurse came in. I told her that I'd asked my family to bring doughnuts, and she almost fell over. "You're having surgery this morning!" she said, "You're not supposed to have anything to eat or drink, starting at midnight!"

Oh. Well, we'll just pretend I didn't eat all of those saltines and drink all that water right after Mali was born.

The kind, lovely nurse did her baby check and other baby procedures while I took a lovely, lovely shower. When I emerged, the nurse said, "By the way, they've rescheduled you for 10:00 A.M."

It was 9:15 A.M.

A panicked call to my house got Seymour and crew motivated to arrive by 9:45. In the meantime, the nurse stuck in another, pre-op IV. I don't know why, but they've started using super-huge gauge needles lately. Or maybe I just don't remember, but damn. Huge! And I don't usually mind needles, but OUCH. The nurse left to see about other surgery arrangements.

I spaced out, watching Mali doze in her bassinet at my side, and then noticed that my arm hurt. I looked down, and my forearm had swollen up like Popeye's--apparently, the needle had slipped out of my vein an into my tissues. I started pressing the call button frantically, but no one came immediately so I resorted to pinching the IV line to stop any more saline (they'd already told me that that's all it was) from going in.

When the nurse came in, she was kind but somewhat eye-rolling, preemptively figuring that like most patients I was panicking about nothing. Then she saw me pinching the IV line and holding my arm, and freaked. "Oh my GOD, you've INFILTRATED!" she said. "I am so sorry, oh my God oh my GOD!"

I really didn't think it was that big of a deal once it was out, and told her so, but she kept apologizing anyhow. She had to redo the IV in another arm, so to distract her I asked her about my procedure. She told me that I was going to get an epidural rather than a general. My reaction: "Huh?"

I thought I'd be getting a general, I thought that's what Dr. K had said. I'd never had an epidural, and was rather relieved to never have needed to introduce a needle to my spinal column. Plus I was worried that I'd be awake for the procedure which, even though I'm extremely interested in science and biology and anatomy, wasn't so appealing after all.

Seymour and kids and my mom arrived to watch Mali. Iz was hopping about like a mad hatter, thrilled to meet her new sister. Leelo was not really able to concentrate on Mali, as he was aware that we'd taken him into yet another hospital, and he was keening slightly, steeling himself to see what was going to happen. I didn't have much time to play with or reassure either child, as they wheeled me off within minutes, the nurse remarking "Now I see why you're getting this surgery done."

Operating rooms are cold, icky places with lots of people scuttling about busy with things other than the patient. I'd forgotten this. They had me sit up on the operating table, and then bend over so my lower spine was pressed outwards and the anesthesiologist could reach her sweet spot better. This meant that I was largely naked. Thankfully, after a while, they got a warmed blanket and put it around my shoulders. Still, needle in the spine? Not pleasant. Then I got to lie down and they slapped a mask over my face and put me into twilight sleep. I don't remember any of the procedure at all, except Dr. K coming in at the last conscious minute and asking me if I was really, really sure I wanted my tubes tied. I think I started laughing as I drifted off into la-la land.

Then I woke up with a start in the recovery room 90 minutes later. The same nurse was with me, and told me that we'd gotten the blood type results back from Mali, that she was Rh positive (I am Rh negative). She then said that it didn't really matter, I wouldn't be needing a Rhogam shot anyhow (Rhogam being the substance that prevents Rh negative mothers from spontaneously aborting future RH positive babies). I told her that, no, I did need the shot because even though I wouldn't be having any more babies of my own, there is always a chance that Godfather M will find a nice donor egg in the next few years, and will need a good incubator in which to grow it after it's fertilized.

Back to our room, where Mali blessedly was still asleep and not yet hungry, and where a nice hospital meal awaited (I would have been happy with gnawing on chicken bones by this time). Once I proved to the nurse that I was able to "pass gas," they let me eat. Oooooh, food food food.

Recovering from an epidural is one of the oddest things I've ever experienced. It's like injecting one's nethers with novocaine. The nurses came in after I'd been in my room for an hour or so and asked if I thought I could pee. "I don't know," I said, "can I?" There wasn't one twinge of feeling down there, not for another two hours. I could have already been sitting in a puddle, for all I knew.

My mom and Iz wanted to stay with me and Mali, but Leelo was still slightly upset by the hospital environment, so Seymour took him home. Where my partner found that, on the second-busiest day of the year, the day after his daughter was born, and during the time he is down one network manager, that of course the company website went down. It also falls under his jurisdiction, and is a big source of revenue for his company, so he spent his afternoon juggling Leelo and this crisis. Because he is a super-genius, he got it fixed--even though the problem was with some middleware that he isn't even responsible for maintaining or even knowing.

The rest of the day/night is sort of a blur. I posted the Mali announcement to the blog via Seymour's Tree-Oh at 56K speed, which is why it's all lowercase and weird-looking. Seymour's folks came back to visit, bringing lovely flowers. Ep came to visit, too, as did JP and her crew--with Joe Schmittt chocolates, even. My mom and Iz went home. I spent the night realizing that hospitals are no fun with a newborn if you prefer to sleep with them, as the beds are too narrow to put them next to you and if they're on your chest, they might fall off so you can't really sleep. I decided to leave a.s.a.p., meaning noon.

Another check of my nethers, a pediatrician check for Mali (where they said she had potential jaundice and needed to be rechecked the next day, and we got to go. Jo and Badger arrived in a flurry of excited punk-auntiness and saw us off. A quick stop for nursing pillows on the way home (we had none) and that's that.

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