The morning after my surgery was pretty brutal. Why anyone would ever, ever elect to have a c-section is beyond me. I had delivered Jake vaginally and even after a longer-than-average labor, shitting myself during delivery, and second-degree tearing, I would have done another beaver birth ten times over again in lieu of this. It wasn't good.
My incision was quite large and my pain level was about an 89/10. The burning sensation in my lower abdomen was so intense, it took my breath away. My lunch lady arms quivered every time I had to brace my then 200lb body frame to sit down on the toilet. To top it off, my boobs were slowly starting to resemble those of a porn star, and my body was looking more and more like Shrek from all the IV fluid. My cankles had cankles and my toes looked like Lil' Smokies. My stomach was tightly wrapped in a binder, but I just knew it looked like a deflated hot air balloon. I was a hot mess, to say the least.
I soon took up pill-popping, which is, luckily for me, encouraged after your lower abdomen experiences such a traumatic attack like the one I had just endured. One of the pain meds was administered intravenously and it was magical; not quite a bong toke, but more than a four or five drink buzz. It left me cloudy enough to relax me, but coherent enough to know what was going on. Despite my prescription cocktail haze, I had babies to visit.
We were pretty strict about visitors in the NICU, for obvious reasons, so we kept things at bay with immediate family. It was a look, but don't touch kind of a situation. It felt more like we were window shopping for jewelry at the mall than admiring the latest (and final) additions to our family. We'd stare into their incubators and watch them breathe and sleep. They were too peaceful to disrupt, not to mention the fact that they were so tiny, we were nervous to even touch them.
The babies were all in stable condition and breathing room air. Our runt, Charlotte, was actually progressing the fastest. She fought the hardest in utero so it wasn't a surprise she was advancing so well in the outside world. Vivian had slight jaundice, but other than that, she was a champ, just like her sister. Ryan suffered from what the NICU referred to as "Wimpy White Boy Syndrome." Despite being the biggest at delivery, developmentally, he was a little behind. In the grand scheme of things, he was healthy and that's all we cared about.
By the end of the day one, I had mustered up enough courage to hold one of them. I cautiously picked up my sweet Vivian and held her naked, warm little body to my bare chest. I'm not sure who enjoyed it more, but it surely was a feeling I will never forget. The next day, it was Ryan's turn and shortly thereafter, Charlotte. I still couldn't believe that I had three new beautiful, healthy babies to love on. Life had never been better.
By the time I was discharged from the hospital, I was slowly getting more and more comfortable with taking their temperatures, changing their diapers and holding them. Everyone was on a four hour feeding schedule and continued to make steady progress. I'd take turns holding everyone, pump, and even began nursing them. When they were about five days old, their day nurse let me hold everyone at the same time. I didn't know to laugh, cry or run so instead, I just stared. There in my lap, lay my three little pigs. I was in hog heaven.
For the next two weeks, the majority of my days would be spent with them at the hospital. My eight hour days in the NICU left me missing Jake, but I knew my time there was imperative as I had to familiarize myself with the ins and outs of the preemie world. What better way to accomplish this task than spending hours upon hours with the NICU nurses? I will never forget my long days with those nurses and will forever be indebted to them for their love and support they rendered during the babies' stay.
A few days into their second week, we were given a general projection as to when they would likely be coming home, but they had to keep making progress before anything was official. Vivian was on par to come home first, followed by Charlotte. Ryan's sleep apnea issue would extend his stay just a few days longer.
In just three short days, I'd be celebrating my 33rd birthday and the homecoming of two of our trio. They say bad things come in threes. Luckily for me, there's an exception to every rule.