It’s been three weeks since our sweet Hannah Claire entered the world. It already feels like she’s been with us for so much longer. I’ve been trying to soak up all the baby snuggles I possibly can because unless God has another plan for us, this is our last baby. As tough as the newborn stage can be on a mom’s postpartum body + lack of sleep, it’s still my favorite. I could snuggle a tiny baby all day long.
Hannah’s birth story
Toward the end of my pregnancy I developed pregnancy induced hypertension, so the doctor recommended we deliver between 38 and 39 weeks. We scheduled a date to induce 10 days before my due date. We arrived at the hospital at 5am on September 30 to be induced. There were several other people checking in at the same time so we didn’t get settled into our labor room until about 5:45. The nurse hooked me up to the monitors, took all my admission info, drew labs and started my IV (which hurt like heck…apparently my veins are valvey).
At about 6:25 the nurse checked me (3cm) and started my Pitocin. About an hour later my doctor came in and broke my water. I let them know that I was ready for my epidural ASAP. My labor with Audrey was super fast, so I was pretty certain this one was going to go quickly as well. They needed to get about a liter and a half of fluid in me before they could do the epidural because it can sometimes drop your blood pressure. They had it dripping in by gravity and it took forever to get in.
Contractions started pretty quickly and by 9:00 they were very strong and about 2 minutes apart. At 9:45 I [finally] got my epidural. At 10:40 the nurse came back in and checked me and I was COMPLETE (10 cm, ready to push)! The doctor made it to the room about 11:25.
This was the first time we delivered at this particular hospital. I felt like they didn’t have a real big sense of urgency. Maybe the nurse was especially busy with other patients, but I was kind of surprised that they didn’t check my progress for three hours, especially with how strong my contractions had become. I’m fairly confident that I was ready to push for quite some time. Then it took 45 minutes from the time she said I was complete to the time that my doctor actually arrived. I’m not sure if this is typical. If you’re an L&D nurse, you can let me know! With my previous two deliveries everything seemed to get done much more quickly.
Everyone was pretty certain she was going to come pretty fast, so I didn’t start pushing until the doctor was gowned up and ready. I started pushing at 11:28 and two contractions later she entered the world at 11:30am! I thought maybe she would be small since we delivered a little early, but she came out at 7lb 15oz and 19.5 inches long. The doctor’s exact words were “you are a full grown baby child!”
We got to do skin to skin for a little while before they weighed her and I fed her her first bottle of colostrum I had harvested ahead of time. I exclusively pumped with Audrey and my plan was to exclusively pump from birth with Hannah. I nursed Audrey in the hospital, which ended up being very painful and made pumping difficult, which is why I planned to only pump this time. I was able to harvest a small amount of colostrum before she was born to give her for her first feeding.
She ended up getting a little cold so they had to put her under the heat lamp for a little bit to warm her up. The baby nurse came in and did her first assessment and by the time she was done she was warm enough to hold and snuggle. David got his chance to hold her, which he’d been waiting so patiently for. Notice his “Girl Dad” shirt (a Father’s Day gift this year). He’s so proud of his girls.
We were transferred to our room at 2:15 and the first thing we did was order some food. I had been craving cold cuts for most of my pregnancy and couldn’t have them, so he first thing I wanted to eat was a sandwich from Jimmy Johns. It definitely hit the spot!
This hospital stay was different than any other in the past with all the COVID regulations. David was the only person who was allowed to visit. Thankfully they allowed him to come and go so he was able to leave and get food or coffee. But our families were not able to visit and the girls had to wait until we brought her home to meet her. I know that this was difficult for our families and for the girls, but we were actually able to get some pretty good rest and lots of sweet baby bonding time.
The hospital’s policy now is to wait at least 8 hours to do baby’s first bath. The techs came in and gave her her first whirlwind bath around 11pm. They also have a policy (due to COVID) that baby can only stay in the nursery for 4 hours at night. This cuts down on the number of babies in the nursery at one time. We chose to allow her to go to the nursery from 12-4am each night and got a little bit of sleep (really good sleep actually!)
I mentioned earlier that my plan was to exclusively pump from birth. But since colostrum is so thick, the pump was having a hard time pumping it out. I wasn’t getting enough to feed her, and while we did supplement with formula a couple of times, I really didn’t want her to miss out on getting that colostrum. So I ended up nursing her until we went home.
I really appreciated that I didn’t feel any judgement from the nurses about my decisions to pump or supplement with formula or send her to the nursery at night. Previously I felt like they really pushed only breastfeeding and some of the nurses gave us attitude about wanting to send the baby to the nursery. Maybe it’s because this is my third and they realized that I know what I want or maybe they just aren’t as pushy at this hospital, but I really liked that they didn’t push their opinions on me.
Bringing Hannah home
Hannah was Coombs positive, which meant she was at a higher risk for jaundice, so they were watching her bilirubin levels closely. Thankfully they were low enough to get to leave at 48 hours. I surprisingly felt very good when we were discharged (we left around 2:00pm on Friday afternoon). I told David that was the best I’d ever felt at discharge. I’m not sure if it’s because we got more rest this time or what, but I was actually feeling pretty good!
My parents brought the girls to the house later that evening to meet Hannah for the first time. We had facetimed with them a couple times in the hospital and they were veeeerrrry excited to meet her. This was such a special and sweet moment!
If you’re expecting and anxious about big siblings not getting to meet baby brother or sister in the hospital, just know that meeting baby at home will be very sweet and memorable. It’s also nice to have family visit at home too. Postpartum moms are tired and in pain so when people visit in the hospital, it’s hard to get the rest that you need. When people visit at home, if you’re not feeling well you can break away and lay down in the bedroom while your visitors can still get a chance to see baby.
Hannah’s doctor in the hospital wanted her to be seen in the office on Saturday to check her weight and her bilirubin level so we took her in Saturday am. It turns out her bilirubin was not where they wanted it to be so they had us put her on a Bili light until she could be seen on Monday. This was sort of a pain, but we’re glad that we were able to do this at home rather than having to go back into the hospital.
Back in the hospital
On Monday (5 days postpartum) I started to feel a little off. I had a weird headache and just didn’t feel right. I took my blood pressure and it was very high – 190/117 – despite the BP meds I was taking at home. We ended up having to go to the OB Emergency Department to get checked out. I was hoping that they would be able to give me something to bring it down and send me home, but they ended up admitting me and putting me on a Magnesium drip for 24 hours. If you’ve ever had Magnesium during pregnancy or postpartum, you know how terrible the side effects are. It is a muscle relaxant so it makes your muscles feel super weak and light headed. You feel like you have the flu.
I also ended up with an excruciating headache, which I now think was a spinal headache, because it came with terrible neck pain. It was so bad, I was in tears. I’ve never had a headache like this before. I could barely lift my head off the pillow. Thankfully the doctor on call that day goes to church with us and she’s absolutely wonderful. The doctor and nurses tried everything to help my headache and nothing was working. They even sent me for a CT scan of the head to make sure there wasn’t something more serious going on.
Finally in the middle of the night, they tried Toradol, which helped take the edge off the headache. We ended up having to stay another night in order to monitor my bp for another 24 hours. At first we were quite frustrated to have to stay because the doctor on-call that day (a different doctor than the day before) was lacking in communication, but in the end I’m glad we made sure everything was ok before coming home. They ended up discharging me with a prescription for a second antihypertensive.
I’m so thankful that they let David and Hannah stay with me at the hospital. I’m not sure what I would have done without him. He took care of everything during that time when I could barely even sit up. For the 24 hours I was on the Mag, I felt too weak to even hold Hannah, which was upsetting, but he took care of everything. I know this was exhausting for him, which is why he’s the real MVP. I’m also thankful for family who took care of our girls while we were in the hospital.
It took several days after coming home to start feeling back to normal. My blood pressure has come down and leveled out slowly, but there was a point when I thought we were going to have to go back into the hospital because it jumped back up. My energy level was down for a while and the neck pain and stiffness is still hanging around two weeks later (although it has gotten better).
I’m feeling much better now, but as much as I want to be back to 100%, little outings still wear me out and I have to remind myself that my post partum body is still healing itself. So as much as possible I’m trying to take it easy and soak up all the baby snugs.
The big sisters are adjusting pretty well, although they have their moments. I can tell that Audrey has been acting out more and seeking attention at times, and Raley is a little extra whiney than normal. We’ve tried to give them grace and be extra patient because this is a big adjustment. We’ve also tried to explain as much as we can to them so they understand why things are different. They still want to do ALL THE THINGS and don’t understand why we don’t have the energy to do all the things they want to do right now. I’m sure it will all get better though.
Thank you to everyone who has checked on us, prayed for us, and sent cards, gifts and meals. We appreciate every one of you!
I plan to share lots more baby stuff – Hannah’s nursery, ways to prepare for baby ahead of time, postpartum care kit + things they don’t tell you about having a baby, what’s in my hospital bag. Although I don’t know how long it will take to get them done! I’m taking it one day at a time. 🙂