Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Long, Long Three Years Ago (Part 2)

This mommy's mind...

...was nervous but excited when the big day arrived. At 41 weeks they induced me and nine hours later my beautiful daughter made her debut. That's when all expectations went out the window. As a mother-to-be, you have these glorious visions in your head of how perfect the whole new baby thing will be. You take classes, you read books, you prepare and you just KNOW exactly how life will be. "Uh-uh", said life, "here's how it's really going to be."
   As it turns out, our little Punkin' Butt's head had been pressing against my pelvic bone for weeks, maybe months. This left her with an enormous encephalohematoma (big fancy word for large, swollen bruise on her head) and a severe case of torticollis, which is a fancy way of saying she had the world's worst crick in the neck. Because she had been pressed against the bone for so long in one position, her facial features and neck muscles developed in that position, leaving her with a smooshed nose, a pinched ear and one neck muscle significantly shorter than the other side. All of this made nursing those first few days absolute hell. Because her head kept flopping to one side and her head was so sore to the slightest of touches, I had to have a nurse help hold her every time I nursed. Right out of the gate I felt like a failure. What sort of mother was I going to be if I couldn't get this right? Apparently the hospital didn't see it that way because two days later they sent us home. It didn't get any easier at home.
   By the third day at home, PB's pediatrician decided she was too jaundiced due to her body trying to reabsorb all the blood from the shrinking bruise on her head. The doc said she needed to be in a bilibed, which is a special bed that uses light therapy to help the body break up the extra bilirubin that the liver can not process. The bed and special biliblanket were sent to the house that night, and my sweet new babe spent the next three days in the bilibed. The only times I was allowed to hold her was when I was nursing. Even then she still had to be swaddled with the biliblanket, so I was trying to nurse a baby with a bruised head, wonky neck and a three foot cable attached to the wall. It killed me to not be able to snuggle my precious PB all day long. Was this hurting her, I wondered? Would we still be able to bond after three days of not holding her? And to see her tiny new body laying in this hard plastic, strangely lit box was almost more than my heart could take. But after three days, the jaundice was all but gone and I could finally hold my baby whenever I wanted. The torticollis still needed attention, though.
   At two weeks of age, Punkin' Butt started physical therapy. We had a wonderful therapist, Jessica, and the folks at Mission Children's Hospital were fantastic. Jessica taught us exercises and holds to use to help stretch out the shortened neck muscle. She even showed me the best ways to nurse PB to help further strengthen her neck. While this was great for her physical development, it made nursing that much harder. I _had_ to use a Boppy pillow to nurse, there was no real way around it. Which made leaving the house next to impossible. And I didn't want to start her on bottles until we had really established a good nursing pattern. So at home we stayed. Alone. As anyone will tell you, the best way to avoid postpartum depression is to NOT isolate yourself. And boy was I isolated. My mom could only stay for one week, The Bearded One worked long days, his family was an hour away and I didn't know anyone in Asheville yet. I was ALONE, and that was my second mistake...

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