After Birth Story / by Susie Lubell

Father and Son

The thing about the third time around is that the after part is horrible. Everyone said this would be the case, but I thought how bad could it be compared to pushing out a nine pound human? Turns out, pretty bad. My iron stores were already pretty low and some other blood related thing was low too. Clotting or white blood cell count or some such thing. So for two hours or more after the birth I had nurses and doctors pushing on my abdomen to help expel all of the crap that was hanging around in there. And there was a lot. Nevermind the placenta (which we brought home in a cooler, by the way, and had a friend dehydrate, pulverize and encapsulate for personal consumption. Kooky, to be sure, but good for the healing. And there's a lot of healing going on over here.) I'm talking about tons of blood and clotty bits of ME. Like human tissue. MINE. All this without even considering that I'm already in a world of pain from the 9 POUND BABY I have just passed through my vagina. And while I am grateful for what amounts to only about three hours of labor (as opposed to 28 with my first child and 9 with my second), a fast and furious delivery can often mean a train wreck downstairs, if you catch my drift. So the midwife puts on her seamstress hat and gets to work while the other nurses put on their baker hats and get to work kneading the flabby, doughy blob that is now my midsection.

After some time it appears that I am bleeding too much and there is some fear that something is left behind. Like maybe my lungs are still in there and my heart. Because I am sure that all else has been expelled. So they're weighing the blood and the doctor on call, the one I don't like, comes in to tell me that I will likely need a D&C which is short for drug the new mom and scrape out her contracting uterus with a small tennis racket. Terrific. At this point I sort of don't care, though part of me feels like I went through the trouble of having the baby drug free so it's a little annoying that now I need all of this medical intervention. Meanwhile my midwife is standing behind him mouthing don't worry dahling. We won't need to do it. The doctor's cookoo. The doctor says he'll have to come back in half an hour to see if the bleeding has slowed. That's when I get two shots of something in my thigh, another medication up my tush and a pitocin drip to try and get my uterus to contract, soften up (or maybe harden up - whatever it was supposed to do) and avoid the D&C. It works but the contractions are atrocious. Nevertheless I'm still flying on endorphins so none of it matters. And squishy baby is now being washed off and weighed and poked and rocked and kissed and swayed. Then he pees on Mr. Rosen. All systems are go.

I spend the next day and a half in the hospital getting pricked and poked and cathetered and pressed on. The baby slept both nights in the nursery because as much as I love the idea of rooming in, we'll be rooming in the next 18 years so I'd rather get some rest. Plus, Mr. Rosen was sleeping at home with the kids and there was no way I could get up at night to pick up the baby in a timely manner. Better they bring him in to nurse and hand him to me. It was painful enough just to sit upright in the bed.

My big kids come to visit with Grandma in the morning and they are thrilled with their new brother. My son is actually more thrilled by all of the medical equipment. And my daughter quickly climbs into bed with me. So I pick up my belly and move it to one side to make room for her. The rest of the day is spent getting my ice changed, getting my pee measured, taking ibuprofen and getting my son the snapping turtle to nurse. Good times.

And now it's just a matter of adjusting to our new situation. The first night home Mr. Rosen, in a sleepless fog, asked if we could just let the baby cry (he cried a lot that night. Big baby. No milk. Mad baby). I think we do that at four months, not three days. Lots to remember. Just today I remembered that trick about putting the baby down two hours after they wake up in the morning. Totally worked. Today anyway. Tomorrow is a whole other story...