My Hospital Stay- Try Your Best to Treat It Like a Hotel!
When we finally made it to my hospital room, which is where we would spend the next five nights, I pumped one more time and fell into a deep sleep, despite the leg compressions every thirty seconds and the uncomfortable ache of the C-Section every time I moved. When the nurse woke us up at 7am, she took all of my vitals and retrieved breakfast for me (Ladies- enjoy this part of your stay! It can almost be like a hotel!) After I ate, I asked my nurse when I could get the compression pumps off my legs and the catheter out. She said I couldn’t have either of those off until I could get up and walk around. I told her that I wanted to get up and thought that I could so ten hours after my C-Section, I took off my covers, pulled my legs over the side of the bed and pushed myself up to standing. I walked to and from the bathroom and sat back down. The nurse said she’d be back shortly to remove everything. That was the first step to getting back to the NICU.
Side note- For all the pregnant women out there who may have a C-Section, there are a few things I wish I had known about the aftermath! One- you bleed a lot! Take advantage of the free, disposable mesh underwear at the hospital and the pads. Two- Once the catheter comes out, it takes a while to pee and when you feel like you need to, it may take 10 minutes to actually do it. This is apparently totally normal but I was freaking out in there. Three- You cannot leave the hospital until you have a bowel movement so take advantage of the stool softener and laxatives when offered by the nurse. It will make that first time much easier. For crying out loud, your insides were on a table a few days ago so cut yourself some slack!
Once I cleaned up a little and moved around a bit, we welcomed visitors. My friend Christine was the first person to see the twins since she works for MGH and then she came to see us once her night shift was over. I had texted her the previous night so if she saw my name anywhere in the hospital, she wouldn’t be surprised. She sat with us that first morning and just about every morning after that while I was a patient. It was so nice just to have a familiar face every morning, when it was quiet and we could just talk over coffee. It also gave Geoff a break to be able to grab his own breakfast or take a shower while I was occupied.
Once Christine left to get some sleep at home, I tried to clean up a little bit even though I could not shower for another day. After cleaning up as best I could, we started welcoming visitors. Our parents, my brother and sister, and my grandmother all came the first day. Typically, visitors would come to our hospital room first and we would get me set up in the wheelchair and wheel me downstairs. We showed each visitor the NICU protocol, which included getting buzzed in, checking in with the receptionists, washing your hands and then lathering yourself in Calstat (MGH’s version of Purell which I will forever associate with our time at MGH). Once we lathered up, we introduced our families to Grace and Cole.
The nurses put us right to work with them that Tuesday morning. We were shown how to change their diapers, take their temperature and comfort them through the two openings on the side of the isolate. The nurses had us immediately get involved because I’m sure they could sense our fear of even touching them. I’m sure most of you have never seen even close to a two pound baby and it’s terrifying to say the least. I was so afraid I would hurt them as I tried to change their dirty diapers or even take their temperature. Our hands looked enormous surrounding their tiny bodies. The nurses did not give us any time to even worry- they had us get our hands dirty very quickly and that fear quickly dissipated. After a few days, even the grandparents, aunts and uncles got involved in holding their hand or comforting them by putting their hands on the bottoms of their feet and top of their heads to give them a sense of security.
That first day, I also got a chance to hold our son, Cole Robert. Grace still needed one more day in the isolate before we could take her out to hold her. Cole had dropped a few ounces after delivering and was clocking in around 3 lbs. 6 oz., which is also still really, really small. The nurses spent several minutes relocating his wires outside the isolate, unwrapping his swaddle and putting on a warm hat so he could come out to do skin to skin (otherwise known as kangaroo care). After he was on my bare chest, the nurse wrapped him in a heated blanket and we were able to snuggle for an hour. It was the most amazing time and finally allowed us to feel like parents. It was something we could do for them that no one else could do. Cole always slept so soundly during kangaroo care and deep sleep=growing!
At the end of that first full day with the twins, I was exhausted- physically, mentally and emotionally. At 9pm (exactly 24 hours after my spinal), the pain of the C-section came through full force. I was given a lot of pain medication to help me sleep and I was told the schedule in which I could take all my meds. When the night nurse arrived, she also helped me plan out my pumping schedule to coincide with the medication schedule so I would not have to be awake all night. (I highly recommend this to all pumping moms!) Her name was Katie and she was so sweet to us. When she came in at 11pm, I pumped and she gave me my meds. She promised to wake me up at 3 and 7 so I could pump and take additional medications so the true pain of the C-section would not come back like it did earlier that night. When I would pump, she would personally take the colostrum down to the NICU for us to the babies so Geoff did not have to do it. She also would sit and talk with us while I was up pumping in the middle of the night. She made the whole ordeal seem so normal. This was the beginning of our love/ hate relationship with the middle of the night! Katie was our night nurse three of the five nights we were in the hospital and I owe her so much of my sanity during those first few days in the hospital. She made us and our babies feel safe so I could recover.
Each day while I was a patient after was relatively similar… Christine would visit while I ate breakfast then I would shower to clean up. My vitals would be checked every few hours. We’d have visitors in and out all day so I would travel from the 21st floor down to the NICU on 10. I pumped every three hours. I tried to walk around more and use the wheel chair a little less each day. I had blood drawn for my high blood pressure. I took my medications on a precise schedule. Visitors came often and brought us meals, desserts, gifts, flowers and their prayers and well wishes. We responded to the kindest congratulatory text messages, phone calls and emails. Every night, we’d go down to the NICU alone and say goodnight to our babies and meet their night nurses. We’d watch TV from our hospital beds before we went to sleep. Katie woke us up every 3-4 hours each night. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Until Saturday, when I knew we’d have to leave the hospital but leave our babies behind...
So for all you ladies about to deliver, here is what I would make sure you have packed in your hospital bag, especially if you think your stay will be longer than a night! I’ve also attached some links to my purchases on Amazon for these! I had about half of the list in my bag initially but the rest where things I requested when I was there for my five night stay. I’d recommend having it ready before you go!
Purse- money, ID, credit cards, cell phone, insurance card
Extra-long cell phone charger (I like this one for iPhone and iPad)
2-3 pairs of nonskid socks or slippers (These are great for walking around your hospital room on the tile and are warm! These are also great at home so you don’t slip and fall carrying a baby!)
Warm sweater (It can get chilly in parts of the hospital!)
A loose, button up shirt (For easy access to breast feeding/pumping- I got a great maternity one at Old Navy)
Tank Tops (that unclip at the shoulder for easy access to pump or breast feed)
T-shirts and yoga pants
Chapstick (Hospitals are very dry and this is a must have!)
Showering essentials- shampoo, conditioner, hairbrush, tooth brush, tooth paste, deodorant, face wash, lotion, contacts/glasses, prenatal vitamins, perfume, makeup, headbands, and hair elastics. (Buy spa toiletries so you can relax a bit!)
Bath Towel (Hospitals towels are not the greatest!)
Hair dryer (Our hospital did not have any!)
Sugar-free hard candy
Snacks- peanut butter crackers, trail mix, breakfast bars
Camera and camera charger (We got amazing delivery room and baby pictures by having a great camera around the whole time!)
Baby clothes to go home in (2 outfits each! Spitting up is so common in a newborn!)
Clothes for you to go home in (make it comfy ladies!)
Several pairs of maternity underwear (Wear the mesh ones for a while because they are high and do not cut across the scar if you have a C-Section)
Hands-free pumping bra (This is a life-saver so you can text, read, etc. while you pump!)
Comfortable nursing bras for sleeping (You will want to wear one of these to bed with disposable nursing pads in there so you do not leak in the night.)
Nursing pads (A must have for your bras so you do not leak everywhere!)
Soothing Pads (Soothies are amazing when you are pumping or breast feeding to help with the pain/soreness)
Empty duffle bag (To take home all the free stuff at the hospital! Load up on pads, mesh underwear, toiletries, nursing pads, pumping supplies, soothies, etc)