Tuesday, November 26, 2013

C-Sections and Recovery: 2 Weeks Out

I had my 2 week check-up today with my OB. It's amazing that we only met Cora two weeks ago- she's so loved and such an elemental part of our life and routine already, and the hospital portion of it all seems so far away. But two weeks ago it was! Everything went great- I'm 10 lbs. off my pre-pregnancy weight (maybe a little extra fluid still, but probably mostly extra cookies), my incision looks great, and the check-in nurse verified twice that it wasn't my 6 week check-up. While I was at the OB, JP took Cora across the street for her 2-week newborn screening. I left my doctor in a great mood, but Cora is still pissed about the heel prick. She's frowning in her sleep on JP's chest right now and I think she's having flashbacks.

pre-heel prick; braced for the arctic DFW temps

One of my closest co-workers is pregnant with her first child and was asking me and our other co-worker friend about our experiences with delivery and recovery. I've written each kid's birth story: Landon's (vaginal) is here (recovery post here); Claire's (scheduled c-section due to birth trauma to a preemie Landon from my narrow pelvis) is here (2 weeks out post here); and Cora's (also scheduled c-section) is here. I felt like each was a really good experience. Landon's delivery went very well (for me). While I feel confident that a c-section was the right way for me to go post-Landon, that was to protect the baby, not because I didn't want another vaginal delivery. I'm glad I got to have that experience- the length of it, the intimacy, the feeling of JP and I being in it together in our darkened room overnight, waiting for the contractions to get stronger and our son to be born. A c-section, while still both good experiences for me, is definitely more clinical. It's so quick, in a bright sterile room, and you're physically totally cut off from what's happening below your chest. If the anesthesiologist hadn't told me Cora was about to be born, I would have had no idea. It's fine- c-sections serve an important purpose, and JP (and this time my mom too!) was still right there with me, but it's all a bit surreal. Lay down, go numb, here's your baby! I never gave a lot of thought to how my babies would be born while I was pregnant- it seemed largely out of my control and useless to worry over, and then Landon arrived a month before I might have started to worry about it despite myself, so I didn't have much emotional attachment to one method over the other. While I would have opted for another vaginal delivery after Landon, I didn't mind when it was clear afterward that it would be better that future babies be born by c-section. The c-sections were good experiences too, just very different ones.

As for recovery- at two weeks out, I've found the recovery to be exactly the same. I'm me- I've been off any pain pills for a week, I can move, bend, and generally live the way I normally do. I'm in normal clothes (leggings and a sweater dress- I'm loving fall postpartum), and I feel great. My scar is a little numb, but it's thin and pale and there's no pain or itching or anything else. I still can't exercise, have sex, or lift anything "too heavy" (left to my discretion to decide what that is... Cora and her car seat are not, Claire probably is), but all those restrictions are similar to a vaginal delivery and will go away in another month. The difference for me was the early days- I felt good pretty much immediately after Landon's vaginal delivery, while the c-section sends you a bit deeper down the recovery valley at first. You've had abdominal surgery, the gas pain is worse than the incision pain, you need help getting out of bed- transitioning from sitting to standing is hard and a bit overwhelming, and the nurse's directive to start walking within 24 hours of surgery seems even more so. But I knew from Claire, and I learned again with Cora, everything gets better if you get up and move around. At least once you have the right pain medicine. Once I got off the hydrocodone and on Percocet about 24 hours after surgery, I was back up the upward trajectory (insider tip: you should not feel awful after your epidural or IV is taken out, pain pills can be very effective- if you're dizzy, faint, and in extreme pain when you try to stand up, you're on the wrong medicine; I don't think I would have realized that if I hadn't remembered how much better I felt after having Claire). With the pain pill thing settled, I went home pretty much exactly 48 hours after surgery and felt really good. I moved around slowly and got out of bed and out of chairs even slower (and JP had to help me put on socks, I remember that because my feet were freezing until I tracked him down in the kitchen to do it our first morning home), but I didn't hurt. I could hold and care for Cora, as long as someone was around to pass her to when I needed to transition from standing up or sitting down. That's another thing with a c-section- you're going to need more help. Or even if you don't need it, asking for and using any help offered will help your recovery immensely. I found the recovery slope to rise swiftly- each day was a huge improvement from the one before. My parents left 4 days after Cora was born and while that seemed too soon on day 2 and even day 3 post-surgery, it turned out to be fine. By day 5 I was moving around well (clearly, I ran 3 errands and went out to lunch with my mom that morning) and of course, I still had JP (who was particularly helpful in doing 100% of the care for the bigger children and holding Cora and my hand every time I needed to get out of a chair). Also, coughing, sneezing, or laughing for the first 10 days or so after a c-section is terrifying (sort of like going to the bathroom after a vaginal delivery), but rest assured, none of those things will actually cause your stitches to burst. So, deeper valley (not that vaginal delivery recovery wasn't still a valley; I remember wincing every time I sat down, so kind of the opposite of the post-c-section slow transition to standing up, but other than some tenderness, the way I felt 48 hours post-Landon probably took me 7 or so days to reach post-Claire or Cora), but noticeable improvement every day.

One other thing my co-worker asked about was packing for the hospital. With Landon's surprise birth, I only had what was in my purse and the few electronic items (camera!) I sent JP home to fetch after my water broke downtown. With Claire, I got to plan, but wasn't sure what I'd want to wear post-c-section. So with Cora, I should have been all set, but I couldn't really remember what I felt like immediately post-Claire (thus the memorializing of this post, not that it will help me again) and still wasn't sure what to pack so I threw a bunch of things in a bag to figure out there. Here's what worked for me:

A small bag (we used a backpack) with camera, phone chargers, chap stick, and JP's Economist magazines for him to bring in to the hospital for the surgery, and then a larger bag for all the clothes and toiletries to stay in the car until we were in our real room. In the bigger bag:
- fuzzy socks: preferably with grippers, or a pair of slippers; as mentioned above, you'll be walking around as part of your recovery
- nursing tanks: I like the $15 ones from Target, but there's a whole array of fancier ones to choose from too. I liked wearing these in lieu of a bra because they're soft and comfortable, provided some support for my tummy, and I liked the coverage when unsnapping my gown or sleep shirt to nurse or have my incision checked. Even if I had no intention of breastfeeding, I'd want a few tanks in my bag
- wrap top open sweater, or other cozy thing that is easy to take off and on when cold while sitting
- loose pants: I didn't even wear pants until day 2- the blankets in bed covered my legs just fine and I wore my hospital gown on my first walk (a robe might be nice, but I only own a giant bright red terry cloth one and that was decidedly not coming to the hospital). For pants, I found a lower waist band that was fairly loose and just rested on my bandaging worked well- at first, a higher waist seemed like the answer, but I found with Claire that I didn't like anything pressing on my stomach, and the incision area was actually too numb to be tender, so it worked best for me to have something that lightly rested right about there.
- PJ set: this was a gift to myself this time around and I loved it- loose pants, a nursing tank, and a short robe-like wrap top- perfect to wear while sitting. I got my set from Motherhood (like this, but my set was navy blue and I got another one that was light grey with a polka dotted tank). This is basically all I wore in the hospital and it's what I ended up wearing home too
- chap stick!: my lips get so dry in the hospital, this was the first thing I asked JP to dig out of the backpack and put on my hospital tray table
- face wipes : I loved having these for the first night when I wasn't ready to take a shower but wanted to feel like I did)
- toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, lotion, etc. basically whatever you'd pack for a weekend away (and everyone is different, but I loved having my blow dryer, straightener, light makeup etc.- maybe you won't want to mess with it, but I did and it made me feel 300% more human to do so)
- baby clothes: maybe the most important thing, if your baby isn't in the NICU, you get to change their clothes! (We didn't know that until we had Claire.)
- electronics: I loved having my laptop with me, it connected me to the outside world on my own terms (sharing pictures, sending emails, etc.) and I loved being able to go through my pictures right away. I brought my kindle but never touched it- we were in the hospital for such a short amount of time that pictures and a few blog posts were as much entertainment as I needed. You'll also want all your chargers, etc.
- snacks: I've had friends say they were starving right after having a baby. I wasn't with any of the three- actually, my appetite pretty much disappeared for 48 hours with each, but if we'd had snacks, it might have been nice to give the kids when they came to visit after school (they ate my jello instead). Oh, and with Cora they had me on a "light/mostly liquids" diet for the first 12 hours or so. They didn't do that with Claire, but it didn't really matter since I wasn't hungry anyway (just an FYI for other people who might want to smuggle in some crackers or something).

That's about it- really, it's just a weekend away. I never bothered with my own pillow or blankets (or underwear- embrace the mesh!), but if you're in the hospital for 3-5 days as you could be for a c-section, you may want them. This time around I basically wore the matching PJ set (top only for day 1, different top with pants on day 2, and then we were home), fuzzy socks, and chap stick. I played with my camera and laptop and held Cora. It was a pretty brief stay.

That's all I can think of on c-sections. Before I had Cora I went back and read all my June 2010 archives to try to remember what my recovery was like with Claire, but all I remembered was the wonder and joy of Claire and I worried I was glossing over the actual experience. But here I am 2 weeks out with Cora and I'm already mostly only remembering the wonder and joy of Cora. I do very clearly remember taking that first walk on the hydrocodone and feeling like I was going to faint and the ONLY things keeping me upright were my death grip on JP's arm and the knowledge that falling down and being caught by him would hurt my abdomen so badly that I refused to do it. But that was due to bad pain medicine, not the c-section, so I'm not sure it's fair to focus on. I took a walk 3 hours later on Percocet and made a whole loop around the nursery and nurse's station (slooooowly, but not painfully). Pain control is everything- take the drugs, beep your nurse for your next pill 5-10 minutes before you're due for it, and ask every nurse you have for advice on controlling the gas pains (it's hard to describe the gas pain if you haven't had abdominal surgery, it was far more pressing than anything from the incision and it can hurt all the way from the tips of your shoulder blades on down; it is bizarre and as important to control as any other pain). Each nurse had a different suggestion and I found them all helpful (a combo of milk of magnesia and Maalox was particularly helpful the second night).

Cora's birth is probably my happiest birth experience- it was the most clinical (for whatever reason the OR in Austin seemed warmer), but I got to have Cora on me, skin-to-skin, moments after she was born and she stayed there, cozied up on me for hours afterward. I have a hard time putting what that meant to me into words, to have here there, feeling her breathing up and down on my chest, and being able to look at her tiny face, but it was purely and incandescently wonderful. I couldn't stop smiling. I can't stop when I think about it now- it didn't matter that I didn't know the OB, that I was in a sterile OR, or that my body was being stitched back together a few inches south of Cora's warm body. My baby was with me and everything was wonderful. Vaginal or cesarean was irrelevant- that was the experience I wanted to have and I'm so thankful I finally got to have it the third time around.

Monday, November 25, 2013


Hi there. I have 5 minutes before I need to pull the chicken from the oven, so let's see where this goes.


We've been hunkered down, riding out a cold front that blew through on Friday. The picture above is from our lovely walk on Thursday, pretty much the last time Cora or I left the house- it went from 75 degrees to 30 degrees in the course of an evening and now Cora wears hats indoors and my skin is drying out from the heat blasting all the time.


Other than modeling the finest in knit hate couture, Cora has spent the vast majority of her time being held by the various members of her family. Like pretty much all her time. It's the benefit of being #3.


It's been cozy, having everyone buttoned in together. There's been board games (I adore board games; our bursting board game closet is one of my last lines of defense in staving off any and all electronic entertainment for my children, something Kindergarten is probably going to ruin for me soon- the other day Landon asked me what an iPad was and wanted to know why we didn't have one). There's been reading (Landon's new favorite thing is to read his beginner books to Cora; in fact, he won't read unless she is able to listen too. I've assured him she can hear in her sleep). There's been cooking and baking (braised pork ragu! pumpkin bread!). Napping, coloring, tickling. A few timeouts for Claire and one mandatory "I don't care if you actually fall asleep but you're going to lay in your bed for 90 minutes" for Landon sprinkled in the mix. Cora's behavior has been perfect- sometimes I think that with Landon's infancy we survived, with Claire we learned to enjoy, and with Cora we're simply savoring. Even at 4:45 this morning, while I rocked her back to sleep after eating, her tiny little hand gripped my fingers and I kept kissing her fuzzy head and I just savored. I think we all are.


I'm now drinking a glass of wine while dinner cooks and I wait for JP and Claire to come home from the pool/school (oh! just saw the lights come up the driveway). Landon is setting up Monopoly Jr. to play after dinner. I packed up my maternity clothes to be given away yesterday, which was a little sad, but as I sip my wine and watch Cora sleep in her papasan chair and listen to Landon explain the concept of Monopoly Jr jail to Claire ("No Yandon, I am not in jail, I am still playing this game!") and know that JP is cleaning bottles and dealing with the chicken, I just feel peaceful. Despite our constant (constant) debating, dismissing, and then always circling back to the idea of a #3, I didn't know how much we wanted her until her possibility became a reality. I worried so much about expense and our resources of time and attention and going back to diapers and bottles and midnight feedings, and yet, here she is, and it's fine and perfect and lovely. And it'll be hard too, and expensive (daycare round 3 begins in February!), and I'm sure we'll have some resource issues, but she's here and now that we've met her, all of that stuff seems so incidental. I knew, of course, that I would love any child we had, but I didn't quite realize that I would spend about 12 hours a day holding our new baby and thinking over and over again, "I'm so happy you're here."

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thursday Thursday

This is how Cora and I spend a good portion of our time:

quick baby selfie

It is delightful. In between long bouts of snuggling and a lot of watching of The West Wing, HGTV, and the Food Network, we've managed to do a few other things as well. On Monday, we had family and newborn portraits!


The kids mostly cooperated, and I put the mesh panties behind me and embraced skinny (maternity) jeans and a silk top- for a few hours anyway. Cora was quite the model- wide eyed and alert for the family pictures and then milk drunk and curled into a little ball for the rest. I can't wait to see the proofs.

On Tuesday all five of us piled in the Highlander for the first time. All three kids fit across the middle row, so it was a relief to know it was still possible to transport them if we needed to have something like Thanksgiving luggage in the back. Sure they were all touching, but they get along well and Cora was in the middle to mediate if needed. We dropped the kids off at school and then took Cora to her second weight check appointment at the pediatrician.


And we're proud to say this little peanut is up to 7 lbs. 8 oz. and a whole 20.5" long! Gold stars all around. We then took her on her first trip to Target (we needed a storage bin for my maternity clothes and I couldn't trust JP to that kind of decision on his own- I have strong feelings about storage and organization). Later Claire came home and we ladies went on a walk around the neighborhood. Or two streets of it anyway. Claire brought her baby and purse along for the stroll.


Then we had some stretch time. Cora spends an amazing amount of time wide awake and stretched out. She particularly likes to exercise when she's color-coordinated.


I made dinner (well, reheated the lasagna my mom made while she was here) with the kids and then JP came home just as I got everything served and we ate a meal with all five of us at the table, though for now, Cora hangs out in a lap rather than her own big chair.


Then there were bedtime stories and snuggles.


Yesterday involved PJ pants all day, a visit from some of my favorite coworkers for lunch, and quite a lot more snuggling. JP had a late lesson, so I had my first 3 kid, baby hungry, dinner making extravaganza! I stuck Cora in her car seat and occasionally kicked it to make it rock while I steamed veggies and cooked frozen fish fillets. Landon was his usual helpful self- feeding Tex, bringing in the trash cans from the street, etc. Claire was technically willing to be helpful, but needed too much direction to bother. It was a taste of the chaos to come, but I got to direct it while sipping white wine and at 7:05 we all sat down to dinner together. Then there were more stories and snuggles and bedtimes.


It's funny, when we had one kid, it seemed like JP and I would never eat dinner together again. Then he got older and we managed. Then we had Claire and she just fit right in to the routine where dinner together was an unquestioned part of the evening, and now we're scooping Cora in to a pattern that would have seemed impossible with just a Landon. Of course it helps that the older kids get older and easier and more helpful, and it helps even more when a Trader Joe's with all its tasty frozen entrees opens up down the street.


All in all, I'd say things are quite lovely. I feel great- my dressing is removed, my incision scar looks thin and pale and I have to constantly remind myself not to pick up heavy objects because it's only been 8 days. JP does all the nighttime feedings, because he is awesome and it helps me heal, and then I do all the Cora care during the day while the kids are in school and he is coaching. He sent me flowers yesterday, because I adore them and I gave him a baby.


Cora's tiny hand is resting under her tiny cheek on my chest as I type. Things are really quite lovely.

Monday, November 18, 2013


You guys, we are enjoying this little snuggle bear so much.


She had her first trip to the pediatrician on Saturday to check her weight.


As with all things Cora so far, she was calm as can be. Even when it was time to strip down for her weigh-in, an act that made the generally easygoing baby Claire shriek with displeasure, Cora pretty much just looked at us like, "Sigh, I trust you have a good reason for doing this." Her weight had dropped to 7 lbs. 3 oz., and her bilirubin levels were up a bit- nothing too concerning, but we're making an effort to feed her more (she just never complains that she's hungry!) and go back in Tuesday for another check. She's a good little eater, so I have no doubt she'll start adding some poundage to her scrawny little chicken legs soon.


We had such a great time with my parents. They went home on Saturday after a fun few days together. On Saturday morning my mom and I ran errands to buy Cora a few newborn sized sleepers (I had not previously made any newborn sized babies) and went out to lunch to celebrate how great I was feeling (I feel amazing- no pain, no pain meds, and moving around almost completely normally at 6 days out). My dad immediately found a project for him and Landon- building airplanes and an aircraft carrier from scraps of wood I didn't know we had in our garage. They made us lasagna with lots of leftovers on Friday and my very favorite meal on Saturday (flank steak, twice baked potatoes, asparagus casserole, bread, wine!) and I've been sneaking slices of cold steak out of the fridge ever since. I need protein to heal, right?

We had a family movie night after my parents left- a premiere showing of Home Alone, which the kids LOVED. Cora enjoyed it too.


The kids love her so much. We have to regulate how many times they can touch her, where they can touch her, and how many times they can hold her throughout the day. She is a completely enveloped part of the family and the kids take family very seriously.

Not touching her face. Allegedly.

Reading (a fast asleep) Cora her favorite stories

Landon is an excellent baby handler; Claire is easily distracted

Claire thought her baby would like to exercise with baby Cora

Reading (again, a fast asleep) Cora simultaneous bedtime stories

She is awake quite a bit- alert and bright-eyed and very busy stretching and looking around. Then she's fast asleep and snuggly as can be. She has rejected her little bassinet completely and prefers our arms (daytime) or her baby papasan chair (nighttime; also 2:00 this morning). Her legs and arms are so skinny and her head is so small, I can't get over her tiny-ness. Her hands are constantly in her face and she attacks her pacifier like a baby piranha. She is at her happiest snuggled in someone's arms or curled up on their chest.


JP dropped off Claire from school on his way to lessons a few minutes ago, so she's now joined Cora and my encampment on the couch, and she just said, with a sigh and an almost-gentle pat on Cora's back:

"Mommy, I just really like having our baby in our house."

I do too :).

Friday, November 15, 2013

Mora Cora

We're home! I've just returned from our first walk around the neighborhood (or more accurately, slow shuffle down our street and back), and my parents are continuing on a longer, faster walk with Miss Cora to take advantage of this gorgeous day.

I stayed in the hospital for 3 nights/4 days with Claire, so I was surprised to be offered a chance to go home yesterday, but once I got that switch in narcotics Tuesday afternoon I really was a whole new woman. I was comfortable (with regular doses of medicine), able to walk (albeit slowly), able to get up and down (again, slowly), and generally felt like myself. Cora was doing awesome- she is so unbelievably calm, alert, and sweet, and the thought of a night in my own bed with JP next to me sounded too good to pass up, though we asked for a late afternoon check out to make sure I was doing as well as I thought.

Snuggles yesterday morning

We had a good day- everyone passed all their tests, my incision looked great, and I got visits from some of my favorite co-workers. I continued to walk, eat, and snuggle my baby girl. In the afternoon, when it was clear we were heading out, we got Cora dressed in her going home outfit. I think she felt very snazzy.


Then, of course, she had some snuggles.


And then, also of course, we waited on hospital paperwork and discharge orders. That was fine, we held Cora some more and I took a series of ridiculous pictures of her yawning. (Sorry Cora, I love a yawning baby.)


Then we got all bundled up to go home! My mom left to get Claire at school and Cora and I ended up waiting a bit because JP was stuck at the pool. Then he was here! And we were rolling out.


We got home and there was Papa! Landon had been excitedly showing him the ins and outs of his new fort when we pulled up.


Both kids were SO excited to have Papa and Gigi AND Cora in the house. There was a lot of bouncing up and down with glee.


Both children needed to hold Cora immediately, so we headed to the couch. Tex came too and we had a family picture.


Our night went pretty well- Cora woke up more often in her little bassinet (she much prefers to be in someone's arms), but she's eating well (bottles and nursing, we're doing both) and is so sweet. Both kids were thrilled to find her in the house again when they woke up and she got lots of kisses before they went to school.


I had wondered before Cora arrived if everything would feel as new the third time around. I knew we'd be thrilled to have her, of course, but would all the steps- the hospital, the going home, the firsts of it all feel as special. And oh yes, yes the do. Because they're Cora's firsts, and that makes them new to us too. We love finding things that are similar to us and Landon and Claire, but there's so much that's unique to her and we love finding those things too. We love everything about her tiny self and we're all just so, so happy she is here.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Last 36 Hours: Birth, Struggle, and Snuggles

Cora is a snuggler. She is tiny, sweet, calm, and very alert, and she is happiest when she is snuggled on someone's chest like a little baby wombat. (Actually, I have no idea if wombats like to snuggle, but it just feels like the right animal analogy.) I took this wombat baby selfie last night after a rough recovery day (for me, Cora's doing great) so I could show my grandma that we're using the blankie she knit for Cora (largely because Claire pulled it out of my bag 3 seconds into her second visit and insisted that Cora needed it on her immediately), and I love the calm reality that it captured.


I had only just brushed my hair for the day (it was about 8 p.m.), any vestiges of makeup was whatever was leftover from my Tuesday morning application 36 hours before, and my big goal for the evening was to take a shower and brush my teeth. But my pain was under much better control and Cora was snuggling. Things were, and are, quite excellent. And now, since I seem to have some time (Cora is sleeping happily on my chest again), I'll document the last 36 hours or so and promise to proofread later:

Birth Story

As you could probably tell, Cora patiently waited to meet us until her scheduled arrival date. My mom flew in the night before, we got the kids off to school, I got ready and re-packed my bag and then we just sat around and waited until we could head to the hospital at 11. We went right back to pre-op where I got changed into my hospital gown, said goodbye to my big belly in the mirror, and got into bed. There was lots of waiting punctuated by activity (I got my IV, I got prepped, I got a super fashionable surgical hat) and little meet and greets (my nurse, my anesthesiologist, my OB's partner I'd never met (mine had her baby two days before), my new OB's nurse). We found out at 1 p.m. that the time was officially being pushed back to 2 p.m. I hadn't had anything to eat or drink after midnight and was getting quite thirsty, but the IV helped once it got going. The nurse gave JP his "daddy pack" of surgical scrubs and asked if my mom was going into the OR too. We hadn't known she'd be allowed, and when I asked if she wanted to she said it would be a thrill (I think from both the "see my baby having a baby" and "biology II AP teacher" perspectives :), so she got a daddy pack too!

At 1:45 or so, I was wheeled off to the OR to get my spinal and epidural while my two guests got changed and waited to be brought to me. In the OR, which was supposed to be freezing but felt perfect to me (I had been SO HOT the last two months of my pregnancy, poor JP who is usually a furnace at night would wake shaking from the arctic depths to which I had plunged the room while he was sleeping), was bright and big and full of people. My anesthesiologist was very friendly and good about explaining what was happening. I got my spinal, which always amazes me in its immediate effectiveness- one second you're putting your feet on a bench and bending over, the next you can't even wiggle your toe. I got an epidural as well for post-surgery pain management, was laid back on the bench, got draped, and waited a few minutes for my mom and JP to be brought back while a lot of preparatory activity I couldn't see was happening in my mid-section. I did get a comment from every single person in the room about my prior "you can barely see it!" scar and lots of compliments to my connective tissue and healing abilities. For some reason, this made me think of Wolverine and I felt very fierce. My blood pressure also fell immediately after getting the spinal, just like it did last time (when you start out in the 90/45 range normally, you don't have far to fall before everything goes numb), so I got some medicine that perked it right up (and, as an added plus, gave my vampire pale skin some nice pinkening). It's all about glamour in the OR.

Around 2:00, Mom and JP were in place by my head and everything got started. Being squarely behind the drape, I can't really tell you what all goes on, but according to JP "lots of cutting" and according to my weirdly pain free, but not totally sensation-free mid-section, "lots of tugging." Cora was, of course, in a difficult posterior position high in my rib cage (I knew I couldn't breathe!) so at some point there was a LOT of tugging and I'm pretty sure a nurse jumped on my ribs to push her down. I know that JP kind of jumped back at that and said "holy crap" under his breath, so I guess Cora was pretty stuck. And then the anesthesiologist told me, "In a few seconds, she's going to be born!" And out she came! Quiet at first, then quite mad. I heard the OB remind JP to take pictures and then she held up a very angry, very red little Cora. She looked a little bit like a demon and it made me laugh.

Poor, poor Cora thinks she is having a very bad day

They start stitching me up- I can feel some very light tugging, but no pain- and Cora goes to be weighed and suctioned by her nurse who has been waiting in the room. JP and my mom follow to the other side and let me know the stats- she's 20 inches long, our shortest baby (Landon was 20.5 and Claire was 21) and 7 lbs. 10 oz., a full pound lighter than her same-term big sister! Cora just knows she's still pissed about how her day is going.


JP brings her over briefly. I'm so glad my mom got to be in the OR with us and see Cora come into the world, and not just because I got a second photographer to capture moments like JP making our first real introduction:


I'm still being put back together, so Cora and JP head back over to the other side of the room for her assessment. I overhear the nurse explain that Cora swallowed a lot of amniotic fluid and isn't clearing it as well as they want so they'll want to keep a close eye on her. I asked the anesthesiologist if I could see her again before they take her (this is what happened to Claire and then she was gone for 3 hours, and of course we only saw Landon for a few seconds after he was born and then not again for about 8 hours) and he said, "Oh, she's not leaving, they'll just watch her here with you." Cora's nurse came over to my head and explained the same, that Cora was retracting and her respirations were a bit too high, and would I be interested in trying some skin-to-skin contact to help calm her down?

Meeting my baby girl

I've never been able to just be with my babies after they were born, so I was very, very happy. I laughed when I saw this picture later because it really does manage to capture my rather incandescent glow in the moment, even as I'm still being stitched up right out of the camera frame.

So, so happy

At some point I was finally put all back together and Cora rode with me, still skin-to-skin on my chest, back to the recovery room. My epidural was in, giving me Demerol every 15 minutes, and I was feeling pretty good. Cora's nurse checked her again after a while and was very pleased with her improvement. I remained delighted with our full contact tummy time. After an hour or so in recovery (maybe more, I really have no idea), we were taken up to our room on the 3rd floor. Cora rode with me again, while my mom and JP trailed behind.

JP left soon after we got settled to pick up the kids from school and bring them over to meet their sister. I was still feeling pretty good, thanks to the lingering effects from the spinal and the new effects of the epidural, and Cora was breathing great and sleeping in my arms after trying a little nursing. Around 5:00, the door opened and two Big and Bigger siblings popped through.


Claire climbed on board the bed IMMEDIATELY and Landon paused just long enough to remember that we don't wear shoes on furniture.

They took turns holding their highly anticipated baby Cora and I watched from the bed with the video camera and a big smile.


My mom took the very excited siblings home for dinner and bed and Cora got her first real bath (they wait to bathe them here until they're more than 8 hours old, which was nice, they hate it so much and Cora was stressed enough post-birth). Like she's been with everything except her actual eviction, she was calm as can be and her eyes were so big and dark and open.


Then I just got to hold her. We checked each other out for nearly an hour. It is such an amazing thing to meet the baby you've been carrying around for 9+ months.


And then began a difficult night of not sleeping (constant interruptions, discomfort from having to be on my back, increased gas and abdominal pain, and increased incision pain). The epidural was pulled around 4 a.m. and I was put on hydrocodone. As we found out a few hours later, I do not do well on hydrocodone. Cora spent some time in the nursery so we could try to sleep, but came back about 5:30 when it was clear that wasn't happening. I was forced out of bed to go to the bathroom (the catheter went away with the epidural) and that 4 foot walk left me shaky and in a lot of pain. Things did not much improve from there. My mom forced me on a walk with JP (I was supposed to be walking every 2 hours and had basically sat in bed gritting my teeth for the last several hours) and I was shaky and dizzy and gripping onto his arm for dear life while moving 1/2 mile per hour, hunched over, with sad shuffling steps. I never, ever felt that was after Claire's c-section.

When I got back to the room I was extremely pale (which is saying something, given my normal coloring) and my lips were bluish purple. We paged my nurse, who was utterly unhelpful (the only unhelpful type person we've had so far, but of course, the one I had right then) until my mom basically demanded she call my OB and ask for a different pain medicine for me. I was hurting so bad I genuinely couldn't imagine ever not feeling that way. I couldn't hold Cora and couldn't really move, even though staying still wasn't feeling great either (and was only making the abdominal pain worse by the minute).

And then Percocet came into my life. Within an hour I had my coloring back, within 2 hours my pain was way down, and by 3 I took a slightly faster (maybe 3/4 miles an hour, slightly less shuffling) walk around the hallway. I was a whole new woman!

The kids visited after school and were again very excited to see their sister. Cora was sleeping, so the kids gave her "pets."


Claire dug through my bag to find Cora's blankie (lovingly knit by my grandma, just as Claire's are) and insisted that Cora have it on her immediately.


The petting and blankie covering did manage to wake up little Cora, so the kids jumped on the couch to take turns holding her again.

Landon is an excellent holder of babies. He loves her so much. Claire needed a water break.


Cora checked out her big brother. I think they had a deep and important conversation.


And then, in another testament to how much better I was feeling, I got all 3 kids in/around my bed. 3 kids!


Cora went to the nursery last night and my nurse barred everyone from my room so we could get some sleep, and we did! And Cora came back to see my about 5:30 a.m. and snuggled with me for a solid 2 hours of intermittent napping. I'm feeling MUCH better and my discharge has been bumped up to this evening. Cora is snuggled in my mom's arms, I'm about to take a shower, and everyone is very happy.