They said I could go home on Monday morning after the pediatrician checks on the baby. The sound of “home” gave me a relief and terrified me all at the same time.
Just 48 hours ago, Noah and I came to this hospital together and now this postpartum journey is about to begin and we are leaving with this little human, who is so fragile and vulnerable.
I was told I can’t walk out of the hospital, I need to be rolled out in a wheelchair, which perplexed me. So on one hand, “you are doing great and don’t need to be in the hospital for 72 hours like others, who just had a c-section, but on the other “no, we can’t allow you to walk out – you shouldn’t.”
Noah had to lift me up to place me in the seat of our recently stolen Jeep and so we went.
Morgan called and asked if she could bring lunch and meet Giselle and it brought some normalcy into that moment.
My body wasn’t doing great. I slowly made it out of the car and walked to our front door, it was a beautiful sunny day, even though it was early November in Minnesota.
Our house didn’t have any correct seating for me, the couch and chairs were too low, the bed and kitchen stools too high, all causing sharp pains around the incision area. This early transition period around our house compelled me to miss my adjustable hospital bed with remote.
I hadn’t fully showered since Friday when my water broke and it was Monday. I was terrified to even attempt that because my incision was covered with this special medical duct tape.
I was also wrapped in that postpartum abdominal belly band, that I didn’t know how to put back by myself. What if my tape comes undone and I have to look at the incision or Noah sees it or it starts bleeding or causing pain?
I kept hesitating but eventually went into the bathroom. I took my clothes off and made an effort to step into the tub, it wasn’t easy, but I forced myself.
The water was running down my hair and face and I felt this lump in my throat. I wasn’t sad per se, but last time I showered I was pregnant and two days later I am standing in this exact same spot, bump-less.
I reached for the shampoo and it slipped out of my hand and landed by my feet. I started bending forward to grab it and this piercing pain shot my lower abdomen and tears began to well up in my eyelids.
I heard Noah walking towards the bathroom, I think he heard the falling noises. As he approached the door the lump in my throat started to rise.
He pulled the shower curtain and asked, “Are you okay?”
The lump reached the top and I began to sob as I told him I had dropped the shampoo and can’t pick it up.
The baby blues had officially arrived.
Probably not sure what to say, he asked, “Is there anything else I can do?”
That was it, my cries became hysterical, and I somehow managed to say, “You’re already doing everything.”
I thought to myself, will I ever feel normal again?
Baby Giselle was worth every episode of heartburn, every pain, all the nausea, and this c-section, and now that the hardest part was behind me and I am supposed to be rejoicing and enjoying this babe here I am, crying in the shower.
What’s wrong with me? Is it how postpartum depression starts?
It wasn’t even 1 pm yet and I felt ready for this Monday to be over. Noah was getting ready to leave for a short work meeting and Morgan was about to arrive with Crisp & Green, the baby was sleeping.
I wasn’t planning to attempt any unprotected breastfeeding because the last time I looked, one of my nipples was completely blue, and the other was bleeding. I was given a nipple shield before we left the hospital and part of me wanted to try it again and just breastfeed like all my friends did, but adding more pain to my poor body sounded unbearable.
I remember Morgan getting out of her car holding a white paper bag with lunch and happily walking towards our house. She was thrilled to meet her niece.
I recall feeling her motherly nature as she held Giselle so boldly and knew exactly what she was doing. It made me feel grateful and inadequate all at the same time.
Will I ever get comfortable picking her up and holding her as my sister does? Giselle was my baby but Morgan was so much better with her.
I felt guilty and embarrassed, but I couldn’t dwell on that because Noah was about to leave and I didn’t have a good plan on how I was going to cope on my own and I couldn’t shake off the thought, what if something happens with the baby?
If you know my sister-in-love you know she is a doer and just naturally acts fast. My favorite phrase that she says is, “Just don’t overthink it!”
After we ate lunch, I remember her unpacking the breast pump, grabbing the instruction and confidently assembling it. I just watched her and all of a sudden she gave me a hug and left.
So now it was just my baby and me, probably both confused and wearing diapers, both for different reasons. I remember praying that she wouldn’t wake up before I finish pumping.
Our friends set up a meal train and made sure we were taken care of for the next few weeks. It was wonderful to see friends every day, hear them say our baby girl is beautiful, and overall not get isolated in this postpartum time.
My mom and dad live in Ukraine and unfortunately, they were unable to come and meet their granddaughter. Ukraine is still at war and my dad is not 60 years old, which qualifies him to be drafted at any point and bans him from leaving the country.
All these details hit me in August, so I was aware that I wouldn’t be getting any help from my mom like I had hoped and prayed for.
There is something about really needing your mom at the time of giving birth despite how independent and capable you are. I think if you had a baby or two, you would second that.
I still can’t wrap my mind around how wonderful my husband is and how much he has been doing for our family and me personally. Noah had previous experience caring for our Melrose, who is now 11 years old.
So it came more naturally to him and he didn’t have to deal with a number of irrational fears, google things or remember what nurses had said at the hospital. It was slightly different for me.
For some reason, I needed more direction, even though I was the one who carried this baby for 9 months, read books, took classes, and had all the resources at my fingertips.
None of that seemed to supply me with enough confidence or fully prepare me.
Unfamiliar things kept happening to my body. I woke up with my sheets drenched for days, so that’s how I learnt that postpartum sweating is a real thing.
Also every time I pumped or breastfed I could smell myself, which never happened before, not even after a 4-mile run. Life postpartum was full of surprises.
Then come the irrational fears, I swear the first several weeks I would wake up at night and just shake Giselle’s arm to make sure she is alive. I texted my sister-in-law and Kayla when I had questions and they would always text back with a comforting response and that put me at ease, every single time!
Having a solid tribe carry you through transitions is more important than I ever thought. As my favorite African proverb says, if you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.
Noah has been faithfully waking up with me to care for our Gigi. He bottle feeds and changes her, while I pump and we just team-tackle these early weeks of Giselle’s life.
I was afraid to feel alone through this unknown process but I haven’t. It has been a difficult learning curve but with Noah by my side I’m confident we will be great parents.
As my dad always says, “let’s just say, Anya, you married very well”. And oh boy, is he so right!