Thursday, June 8, 2017

introducing Calvin.

Calvin Jack
June 2, 2017
12:32 p.m.
6 lbs., 6 oz., 19 1/2"

Tomorrow, my new sweet guy will be one week old. This week has been crazy fast, crazy long, and crazy wonderful. One thing is for sure: This birth experience, despite being the same delivery method (planned c-section), has been completely different from Rowan's - and in all the best ways.


We were scheduled to go to the hospital at 8:00 on Friday morning. That left us enough time to get up, shower, and get Rowan up and dressed before we had to leave, which was a really nice, relaxed, easy way to start the day. My girl was so excited:

She had picked out the outfit she wanted to wear ahead of time (I told you she was prepared), so I dressed her in that before we ceremoniously moved the "today" sticker on her calendar to the day we'd been anticipating for so long: Baby's birthday. She and J.J. ate breakfast (no food allowed for me pre-surgery), Gramma arrived with plenty of time to spare, and we took one last photo of us as a family of three before heading to the hospital.

It was hard to say good-bye to Rowan, but I held it together. I was nervous for sure, but so ready for the waiting to be over. Aaaand then we got to the hospital and ended up waiting for hours. Seriously - we got there a little earlier than we were supposed to, around 7:45, and we didn't go back to the OR until almost noon. Oops. They had taken us right back to pre-op and gotten me all set to go: clothes off, gown on, IV in (on the first try instead of the fourth, like it was with Rowan - yay!), fetal monitors going. "Can you feel those contractions?" the nurse asked. "Contractions?" I responded. She held out the recording paper and showed me the spikes indicating contractions. Thankfully, I wasn't feeling any discomfort, and I took that as a sign to send a little message down to the baby: I hope those contractions are semi-real, Baby, because you're about to be born...get ready!

With Rowan, we were only in pre-op for a short amount of time - maybe half an hour? - before they took me back to the operating room. This time, we waited...and waited...and waited some more. Our nurse was called away to a couple different emergency deliveries. We waited. She popped her head in and apologized. We waited. We heard everyone chattering about all the breech deliveries and surprise c-sections happening that morning. We waited.

Actually, the waiting ended up being a good thing. I grew super nervous when we first got to pre-op, but I calmed way down while we were waiting. And as I kept saying every time someone would apologize to us for the wait: I was just happy that we weren't in an emergent situation ourselves. I would have waited all day and night so that other parents could have their babies delivered safely. (I was definitely hungry and thirsty, though, can't lie.)

I think it was a little past 11:30 in the morning when they finally took me back to the OR. J.J. was instructed to wait in pre-op while they did my spinal block (no big deal - a needle prick to numb the area, then probably a huge needle the size of a garden hose or something, but I couldn't see it or feel it so no problem) and got me situated on the table. I'm pretty sure J.J. only came in a few minutes before the incision was actually made. 

In the meantime, the dreaded shakes took over. It happened when I was delivering Rowan, too - I started shaking uncontrollably, my hands fluttering like leaves in a hurricane and my jaw trembling so hard that I had to consciously arrange my tongue so I wouldn't bite it by accident. I kept apologizing to the anesthesiologists, who were so kind and tried to help by steadying my arms and layering warming blankets on me. One anesthesiologist explained that the cause of the shaking is multifactorial - nerves, definitely, but also swift hormonal changes, reaction to the anesthesia, the freezing cold OR, etc. I tried my best to just breathe deeply and keep my eyes on the prize. The frustrating part was that I didn't feel very anxious at that point, but the shaking made me feel like I was feeling anxious...if that makes sense.

Anyway, J.J. was finally allowed in the OR, and before I knew it...

...there he was. My baby boy, my Calvin Jack. Instantly, the second I laid eyes on him, I was in love. I recognized him. He looked familiar and wonderful and exactly how I pictured him. It took me so long to realize my love for Rowan, but my love for her, I think, set me up to love my next child immediately and intensely. Unbelievable. (For those wondering, I think he looks JUST like newborn Rowan, but with sparse blond-brown hair instead of a bunch of dark hair!)

Oh, I almost forgot to mention - when they lifted him out, everyone was exclaiming about how big he was. They all started guessing weights - eight pounds, seven-eleven, eight-six - until one nurse called out the official weight: "Six pounds, six ounces!" "That's it?" someone replied incredulously. "That's less than Rowan!" I said - she was six pounds, thirteen ounces. My OB insisted they weigh him again, and the nurse thought she was kidding: "No, I'm serious!" my OB said. "Take that weight again!" Ha! Same weight the second time - six pounds, six ounces. He's a teeny guy!

They whisked him away to clean him up, and then I got to snuggle him for awhile as they finished closing me up. The shakes were still intense, but amazingly, they lessened the second my baby was on my chest. 

We snuggled and bonded and I told him how much I loved him already and how happy I was to meet him. He snuggled me right back. We headed to the recovery room, where we snuggled some more. I'd hand him off to J.J. whenever the nurses needed to do something to me, and my shakes would start rattling the entire hospital...and then I'd greedily grab him back, and the shakes would recede.

Then I tried nursing him.

This was one of my biggest fears when we were thinking about having another baby: feeding issues. It was a legitimate fear, considering the time and energy and sweat and blood and tears that went into figuring out how to help Rowan feed when she was having so much trouble nursing. I couldn't imagine facing another year and a half of exclusive pumping. Thankfully, a few weeks before this baby was born, I realized I wasn't afraid anymore. If he nursed, great. If he didn't, fine. If we did a combo of nursing and bottle-feeding, fantastic. If he only wanted or needed formula, no problem. The most important part would be that he was fed, and fed with love, and that my mental health was not sacrificed in the meantime.

Still, though, my preference was direct breastfeeding. We gave it a shot there in the recovery room, and - like magic - he latched on. I could see and hear the sucks and swallows. I'll talk more about it in another post sometime, but somehow, miraculously, this baby is a nurser. And I'm thrilled.

Eventually we were taken from recovery to the room where we'd stay for the next couple days. It was already early afternoon at this point, so I asked our family members who wanted to visit to hold off until the next day. I wanted to make sure we didn't get overwhelmed with visitors (like we did the day Rowan was born), and that I had time to relax and rest, especially before Rowan came. I knew I'd want energy for her, and I was right.

Especially when she showed up wearing this.

My compassionate, thoughtful girl asked to don her doctor outfit (and bring her doctor bag) over the dress she'd chosen to wear, specifically because she thought her baby would recognize her that way. After all, she reasoned, he had already met lots of doctors and nurses in his short life, but no big sisters. With a doctor coat on, she wouldn't risk scaring him. Yes, I sort of died and exploded and combusted when she said this, in case you're wondering.

And I also died and exploded and combusted seeing my family together for the first time.

When Calvin fussed a little, Rowan asked if she could sing him a song:

She also showed us the cupcakes she brought (remember? White cupcakes with white frosting, so that it would "look like milk" for the baby who wouldn't be able to eat them?), and we sang Happy Birthday to our newest love.

And, finally, Rowan presented her brother with the bear she picked out for him (and - surprise! - he got a special bear for her, too, that says "Big Sister" on it and has a little bear in its arms).

Rowan didn't stay too long that first day, but she and J.J. and J.J.'s mom got dinner together in the hospital cafeteria so Rowan could have some special time with Daddy, away from the baby. Meanwhile, I chilled out in our room with one of my sisters, marveling at how amazingly good I felt.

In fact, that's been the theme for this whole postpartum week - I can't believe how good I feel, compared to my hellish recovery from Rowan's birth. I have almost no pain, I've only had a couple of hormonal sob sessions (twice in the middle of the night, and both for the same reason - I'll get to that in a minute), and I just feel...good. Happy. Confident. Stable. The opposite of anxious. Granted, it's still super early, and postpartum mood disorders can set in anytime in the first year, but it's such a mega relief to feel good right now, as opposed to being thrown right into the pit of postpartum anxiety.

I felt so good, in fact, that I was completely ready to go home on Sunday, two days postpartum, which is when I should have gone home. With Rowan, I had a breakdown when they announced it was time to discharge me - I still couldn't walk without two people assisting me, I was still shaking and getting close to passing out whenever I laid flat, and (oh yeah) my baby had lost too much weight and we needed to make sure she was getting milk through the supplemental nursing system, but we'd only been taught to use it like an hour before, and we still didn't understand it so probably our baby would just starve, as far as I could tell. We ended up staying an extra night that time. This time?

Welllll, this time we ended up staying a couple extra days. But not because of my mental health, or because of anything related to the baby... just because of my stupid blood pressure. I had (have) postpartum pre-eclampsia, or maybe just something approaching pre-eclampsia? I'm not entirely sure. Within a day or so of delivery, my blood pressure readings were consistently high. They kept me an extra night to monitor me, and then another extra night to monitor how I'd respond to the new blood pressure meds. 

Staying longer than expected in the hospital isn't on everyone's wish list, but I have to say...I'm not mad about it. First and foremost, I wanted to make sure I was safe, especially since one of the many panic-inducing articles I accidentally encountered in the weeks before Calvin was born was about a woman who died from undetected postpartum pre-eclampsia. Um, no thanks. Second, Rowan was safe and happy with Gramma and didn't seem too concerned about an extended sleepover at her house. They visited us at least once every day, and J.J. even left to spend an afternoon with her. I felt a little guilty, but not much. Third, I felt totally fine. None of the swelling, blurred vision, headaches, etc. associated with pre-eclampsia - and, ultimately, none of the issues I had while I was in the hospital after Rowan was born. My pain was completely managed, my mood and appetite were good, I wasn't feeling overly fearful and upset, and Calvin was doing great. When our discharge got pushed back yet another day (after we'd scrambled to pack everything up late Monday afternoon to go home), we just shrugged, climbed back into bed, and ordered chocolate cake and ice cream from hospital room service. Essentially, I ended up with a couple extra days of supervised healing and bonding with my baby. And, you know, room service. No complaints here.


Daddy & son together.

Giving me kisses (actually trying to latch onto
my cheek, but it felt like little sweet baby kisses).

Dr. Rowan came to visit wearing her full medical garb so many times that she earned a bit of a reputation on the floor. She even got to assist the pediatric team on their rounds one morning.

I mean, she was just the sweetest with her new brother, showing him all around the hospital room, insisting that we lift him up to see out the window, asking to hold him every time she visited.

Holding her hands out for her turn.

She even brought books to read to me one day - to help me rest and get better, she explained.

We came home on Tuesday afternoon, despite my blood pressure still being pretty high. It's being monitored, obviously, and today I actually had my first completely normal reading, which felt awesome. I've had a few freak-out moments over the blood pressure issue, but all credit to my most amazing, wonderful, caring OB, who responds to my every text and concern and somehow always knows what to say to make me feel better. And top marks to J.J., who's just as relieved as I am that I'm feeling good; his mom, who made it so that I never once worried about Rowan and how she was faring; and my sister, who stayed with me while J.J. left a couple times and helped me feel supported and confident. 

I kind of can't believe that I'm getting a dreamy "fourth trimester" experience, one that's a complete turnaround from my first postpartum experience. Mostly, I'm just madly in love with my new little Cal.

Blissed out while getting his hair
combed during his first bath.

So fresh and so clean-clean!

Wearing the same "going home" outfit that
me and my four siblings wore, along with
all of our kids...my mom's tradition!

Ready to see the world!

And now it's 9:30 p.m. on a Thursday night. Calvin turns one week old tomorrow. Rowan is in bed asleep, I still need to eat some dinner, J.J. is playing video games in the basement, and Cal is snuffling himself awake, probably ready to eat some dinner himself. More to come soon on how we're adjusting to being home, but - spoiler alert - so far, so good. Just waiting for my blood pressure to chill out already, and also for Cal's weight to pick up a little bit.

In general, though? This feels like my dream come true, through and through.

So grateful for excellent, affordable health care, for amazing family and friends, and for the opportunity to be someone's mama all over again.


  1. I love you, and your sweet husband (!) and kids (!!), so, so much.

  2. Thank you for your realness, honesty, humor, and sharing. This was beautiful to read. So glad it's so far so good. Sending the four of you lots of love. oxo :)



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