Thursday, March 22, 2007


I remember being extremely relieved when I saw my babies, and saw that they were beautiful and alert. I was also terrified. Here were two people with their own appearances, ingrained personalities, likes, and dislikes. And I was their mother and it would be my job to get to know them and to take care of them in a way different from anyone else in the world. It really felt like meeting someone new, except I was partially responsible for their very existence.

After the C-section, the babies were taken to the NICU. I was wheeled to the recovery room. Along the way. I caught a glimpse of a deflated balloon my own stomach. I mentally reassured myself, "You just gave birth ten minutes ago; it will get better."

"Will my stomach....go down?" I groggily inquired of my obstetrician.

Without a momentary pause, he made one of those vigorous nods that people make when they are being totally honest. Have I mentioned that I adore my obstetrician?

In the recovery room, I was given some pain relief medication and my parents were able to join Ty and me. I felt shivery for about 20 minutes, and itchy (I learned this was a side effect of the anesthesia), and tired, but, overall, I didn't feel too bad. I had to stay in the recovery room for a while, but I encouraged Ty and my parents to go and see the babies. I was happy that they would be around family so soon after the birth, even if I couldn't be there myself. Ty took pictures to bring back to the recovery room for me.

The first night was hard. I was in pain and couldn't get out of bed on my own. My face was itchy; I asked for a cool washcloth, which I patted against my skin several times during the night to soothe the itching. I was tired and loopy from the surgery and the pain medicine. I was disappointed that I hadn't been able to nurse right away. I had initially been placed in a room with a woman who wanted both to keep her crying infant with her (us) all night AND to talk loudly on her cellphone every three minutes; my husband and parents spoke up in a hurry and got me moved so that I could get some sleep. I am eternally grateful.

The next day, I was encouraged to get up and move as much as I could. Since my babies were in the NICU, they couldn't be brought to my room; in order for me to see them, I had to get up, get in a wheelchair, and go to them. With the help of my husband and a nice nurse, we located a wheelchair and painstakingly maneuvered me into it. No easy feat. Ty pushed the wheelchair and I pushed my IV. We tried to call the NICU, but the line was busy. When we got down there, they didn't want to let us in, because it was time to do rounds.

I started to cry.

"This woman gave birth 19 hours ago and hasn't seen her babies," Ty told them.

"Well, next time, you should call," they said.

"WE DID. Your line was busy," Ty and I answered simultaneously.

It was our first test as parents.

I mustered up all my strength, broke out of my painkiller-and-surgery daze, and shot a DON'T-FUCK-WITH-US look at the NICU lady. I looked at Ty; his gaze made mine look like that of a timid bunny.

With that, they let us in.

Our babies were next to each other, but in their own little plastic bassinets.

I was terrified of them.

I was physically incapable of caring for them on my own, and I had no idea what to do. They were already being fed on a schedule, with formula, by nurses, which went against all my ideas of how I would be feeding my babies in their first day of life. I assumed I'd be breastfeeding immediately after giving birth, would have them in my room, and would nurse them on demand. I felt overwhelmed.

There was a nice nurse who was taking care of them. I told her I wanted to try to nurse. She handed me one of the babies, who hereafter will be referred to as Sage. Sage was the smaller of the two babies, but he was born first, and is therefore the "older brother."

The nurse showed me how to hold his head and position him at the breast. I held him to me and he immediately started to fuss and cry.

"You need to bring him to the breast and guide it into his mouth. He wants guidance. That's why he's getting frustrated."

With a few more tries, we got Sage to latch on successfully. It hurt considerably less than I expected, and Sage sucked away. It was a stirring maternal scene.

Ty smiled.

And I felt like the biggest failure in the world. I knew that nothing was coming out of my breast. I knew that milk took a few days to come in, but shouldn't there be colostrum? Shouldn't I be able to feel something coming out?

To be continued.


Blogger Tink said...

One of the things I love about you most is that you're so openly HUMAN. So many times, we put on fronts to seem more assured or braver than we really feel. You'll get the hang of it. You probably already have a bit by now. I'm so glad you're OK and the babies are healthy. You're going to be a great Momma.

12:06 PM  
Blogger V-Grrrl said...

After an uneventful pregnancy, I suddenly went into labor and delivered my son at 33 weeks. I know all about the NICU routine. He couldn't nurse at all at the beginning and I was pumping, pumping, and pumping--collecting pathetic amounts of colustrum and then milk to be put down his stomach tube. So much work and so little to show for it! But eventually my son could nurse, my milk supply was good, and no problems.

2:49 PM  
Blogger Tits McGee said...

Oh, wow!

Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow!

Congratulations, Arabella! I am so happy for you and Ty and your beautiful new sons! I've been so wrapped up in my own busy-ness and haven't been around and now look at what I've missed!

What an ordeal! What a delight! I can't wait to hear the rest.

5:48 PM  
Anonymous wordgirl said...

It seemed (to me) forever before the milk came in but when it did...OMG! It was, as they say down here, a gusher. Be patient. Things are going to be great and you'll find your groove sooner than you think.

5:55 PM  
Blogger mamatulip said...

Ditto what Wordgirl said -- you will find your groove sooner than you think. It'll creep up on you, too -- one day you'll realize that you're in it, the groove, and you'll be all, "When did this happen?"

Hang in, honey.

7:57 PM  
Anonymous Elizabeth said...

OMG Arabella, you have BABIES! Baby BOYS! With their sweet milky breath and their soft, soft skin! I am so happy for you, Ty, and the boys!

9:33 PM  
Blogger ptg said...

Holy cow!

10:50 AM  
Anonymous OddMix said...

Congratulations on the twins!

12:59 PM  
Anonymous TB said...

I've been thinking about you guys every day, especially this week because I'm at 36 weeks now and it makes it seem so much more real to know that this is when your little guys were born. Hope you're in a groove and everything is going great!

8:48 AM  
Blogger Mignon said...

Well it took me FOREVER to find my groove, but I'm wondering if you're forced into a groove sooner when you've got to double everything?? I remember at two weeks I could finally nurse without it being a gigantic fucking mess and over-produced Hollywood drama. Which is not to say I was in a groove at that point... maybe 4 or 6 weeks?

Please tell me more - I wanna know those little guys are yanking and pulling at you to get the good stuff. (Somebody did come along and tell you there's nothing to feel come out for a couple days, right? And that the total quantity of colustrum would fill a thimble?)

5:32 PM  
Blogger DebbieDoesLife said...

I'm so glad you stood up to that nurse. What a witch!

Hang in there. It will get better. Luckily, your babies sound well cared for and you will feel better with each passing day.

I found breast feeding very challenging. If it works, great but if it doesn't don't beat yourself up about it.

4:47 PM  

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