The Baby Blues

The “Baby Blues” is only one of the main post-birth topics I wanted to write about; mainly because no one ever seems to talk about it, even though 80% of new moms experience it. Thankfully, I read about it before I gave birth. It’s nothing to be taken lightly as it difficult to go through and will definitely take its toll no matter how much support you have. It’s important that every mom-to-be is aware of this so that if and when she does experience it, she knows that she’s not alone, that there is nothing wrong with the way she is feeling and that it is in fact, temporary.

We are all used to PMS and the fluctuation of our hormones every month. Then, when we get pregnant we have to deal with those fluctuations on a grander scale. Well, it doesn’t get any better post-birth. I like how Baby Center covers this. It states that the mother becomes “weepy and moody” but also: “may feel exhausted, unable to sleep, trapped, or anxious. Your appetite may increase or decrease, or you might feel irritable, nervous, worried about being a good mother, or afraid that being a mother will never feel better than it does right now.” I felt all every single one of those things. It started on my last day at the hospital. After they told me I could finally take my first shower since the surgery, I did so without any help. And that’s when it started. I looked down at my feet and realized they were so swollen. They never swelled when I was pregnant so it shocked me. And while showering, because of the pain, I couldn’t really bend down. So, I was unable to wash my feet properly. If you know me, then you’d know I hate being weak and I hate not being able to do something on my own. And the final straw was when I looked at myself in the mirror after the shower. That is when I broke down. I was at my thinnest before getting pregnant. And enjoyed every minute of my pregnancy. I even loved my body when I was pregnant because I felt good and didn’t gain that much (or at least it didn’t show). But that all was gone. And I was left with a scar (the wire covering it was actually much bigger than the scar itself so it just seemed to me at the time like a big scar), a huge belly (I looked 6/7 months pregnant post-surgery) and pain. I was so upset, and that was just the beginning.

Here in Kuwait, it is tradition that the woman would go stay at her parents’ house for 40 days post-birth. So, I was staying at my grandmother’s. Although this helps immensely, it is also very difficult. Or at least for me it was. I was used to going out and you are not allowed to go out during the first 20 days at least. I wasn’t used to the room and bed, so I had my husband bring me my pillows from home. And that’s another thing, my husband. I wasn’t used to being without him. He even slept at the hospital with me every night. But then I had to face 40 nights without him.

Mostly, I would be OK during the day. My aunts would come over in the morning and their chatter kept me occupied and stopped the thoughts in my head from surfacing. Then I’d have lunch with my grandmother. But as soon as the sun started to set, anxiety kicked in like clockwork. And the waterworks would start almost immediately. Even if they stopped in between, I would definitely be crying whenever my husband would leave for the night. So badly sometimes that he would end up sleeping over – which most people wouldn’t usually allow, but my grandmother made an exception to appease me. The first 2 weeks days were the worst by all accounts, baby blues, body image, post-surgery pain, sleep, breastfeeding and lack of it. Yes, breastfeeding was another factor that added to – and was affected by – my baby blues. I will talk about my experience in a later post.

Sleep was another issue. I couldn’t sleep properly. Despite the fact that my aunt’s gift was a night nurse who took care of the baby so I can sleep at night. I still couldn’t sleep well at all. And apparently, sleep deprivation can make the blues worse.

After the first 10 days, everything looked and felt better. My feet were no longer swollen. My belly had shrunk considerably. The doctor had removed the bandages and wire from my laceration, and I saw the scar for the first time – and it wasn’t as big as I thought. It was also no longer as painful. I slept much better after supplementing formula (more in a later post), and I was getting used to the routine and the house even when no one came around.

I was starting to feel content, relaxed and more like myself. And it only got better and better as time went on. All of you should know that these feelings are completely normal during the first weeks after childbirth. There is no treatment for it. It’s just something you have to go through. If your baby blues last more than a few weeks, then you could be suffering from post-partum depression and should seek professional help immediately.

When you’re done with your 40 days another test begins: the transition back home. And I knew that just like I struggled the first few weeks at my grandmother’s, I will struggle with this next transition. Maybe I will talk about it more if you all are interested.

Until the next post xx

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January 21, 2015

This post will contain some detail of the labor so if you’re not comfortable with such information being shared, don’t read on.

I was exactly 41 weeks that day and it was my deadline for delivery – as per the doctor’s orders. We woke up early that morning, had breakfast, gathered our things and before we left, took the last bump photo. I was very anxious that day. It’s not everyday that you wake up and know that this day was going to change your life forever. But, we did.

We headed over to the hospital and filled out all the admission papers. And soon after, I was taken in for some tests, changed into a hospital gown and was wheeled into the labor room. Room 516. At that point, I had no major contractions – our little girl was too comfortable in her home. And I was very comfortable hosting her.

And so began the long stretch of trying to get me to the finish line.

11am: A tablet and a balloon. Yes, the doctor came in and the first step was to insert a tablet and a long balloon into my cervix. The balloon of course was inflated after it was placed inside. The idea behind this was to soften the cervix for effacement and start the dilation and the contractions. The balloon is supposed to slide out on its own and that’s how you’ll know that you’ve dilated between 3 and 4 centimeters. After the items were inserted (which was extremely uncomfortable), I was supposed to lie down straight for one hour, which was torture on its own especially when a contraction came along. The contractions weren’t very strong in the beginning but got stronger as the day went on. The remainder of the balloon was taped to my left thigh. I have to say it that this was the most painful of the whole process. That wretched balloon. Every time I moved in bed, it hurt.

12pm: After that long hour was over, I was told to get up and walk around as it will help the balloon to dilate the cervix. So, I did. It was so painful with every step. Like I said, the worst part of the labor for me.

1:30pm: The balloon finally fell out. It was a HUGE relief. I felt infinitely better once that thing came out. Now, I just had the contractions to deal with. But, I was excited it meant that I was 3-4cm dilated! The doctor told me that the contractions were coming along nicely and that they would check up on me at 5pm. The contractions got stronger as the time went on. What really worked for me in getting through them was walking and breathing. I couldn’t sit down for long. Maybe that’s just me. You can find a lot of labor positions online which would help, but that’s what worked for me. And although painful, it was bearable. It felt like severe cramping or constipation and it would come in waves, starting slowly, peaking and then slowly subsiding.

5pm: The doctor came back to check on me… 4-5cm dilated after 4 hours of contractions and only 1cm extra! It was time for the second step: cervix softener through an IV. I was hooked up and they told me they’d come back to me after one hour. Contractions kept on coming in their waves getting more and more painful, but I was still OK.

6pm: Contractions still good, but no further dilation. Stuck at 4-5cm. They informed me that the doctor I requested on standby for the epidural was leaving off his shift soon. This was something I know I could have waited on, I would have been able to handle a bit more pain. But, I didn’t want to take the risk of having another doctor, do the procedure for me later. My cousin recommended this doctor, and I felt it was important to have a recommended doctor for the epidural to avoid any side effects later on. So, I didn’t want to miss this chance and told them to have him come before he leaves to administer the epidural.

6:30pm: Epidural doctor came in to start the procedure. He first walked me through all the steps, explained the feelings I’d be getting and how it would work and asked if I had any questions. Naturally, the only question I had was about the risks involved. He explained that many people talk about epidural with negative side effects, when in fact they are very rare as the procedure has advanced a lot over the years. I’m scared of needles so I didn’t want to look at the equipment. The needle they use for the procedure is a very large one. I had my husband stand with me the whole time of course. I need him in everything. The procedure didn’t take too long and once they had the tube placed in, the minute they administered the drug, I could feel the warmth of it coursing through my legs and almost immediately a numbness. I could feel it when people touched my leg but I could no longer feel pain. I couldn’t even feel the contractions anymore. It was amazing to relax after 7 hours of contractions.

8pm: My doctor came in to check on me. Unfortunately I was still stuck at 5 centimeters. It was time to break my water. This move usually helps in getting the contractions to become stronger and dilate the cervix further. I couldn’t feel anything at that point so I was content. When my water broke, the doctor saw a bit of meconium in it. Meconium is the baby’s first “poop” – and when it shows up in the fluid, it’s not usually a good sign. But, she said since it’s not very dark or a lot then we will keep monitoring for a bit and see what happens.

9:30pm: Still 5cm. They started the induction fluid and said that they would be monitoring the baby and me closely as the contractions get closer together and stronger so it might take its toll.

10pm: Still 5cm. But, I was wheeled into the delivery room as one finally freed up. When they hooked the baby and me back onto the monitors, they noticed that her heartbeat had gotten weaker because of the induction fluid. So, they stopped it immediately and called my doctor. It was at that stage that she told me I can’t put you back on the induction, the baby would become distressed further and won’t be able to come out naturally. It was time for an emergency c-section. And I began to cry. This was the last thing I wanted for myself. But, through encouraging words by my husband, my sister and my doctor, I finally conceded. It was not what I wanted but it was the best option for my baby and I had to do what’s best for her even if I was terrified of the procedure and its aftermath.

11:10pm: My baby girl was born. Healthy with all 10 fingers and all 10 toes. Elhimdella. The procedure did not take long and I couldn’t feel a thing because of the epidural. It was scary though probably because I was awake and it was the first procedure I’ve ever done (never had stitches or broken bones or anything elhimdella). Lying there on the operating table. I felt like I was on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. It was the most surreal feeling the moment I heard her cry. I started to cry too. And when they brought her close to me, I was only able to touch and kiss her face for a second before they took her away. She needed to stay under observation for a few hours. Surreal. I cannot describe the feeling. It was beyond words. I couldn’t believe it myself and I was living it.

I don’t know how much this would benefit anyone as each woman and baby are different. All I know is that it does not always go as planned so we have to be prepared to roll with the punches. At the end of the day, all that really matters is that the baby and you are healthy.

Until the next post xx