Welcome baby boy

Holy crap, I’m a mom!  That was my initial thought when we were on our way to the hospital.  Well, it was actually “Hubs, what did we do?!”  He told me it was a little late for that.  From what I’ve heard from my friends who are parents, most new parents think the same thing.  I’m glad to know I wasn’t alone there.  But still.

Surromom called us to say she was in labor around 8:30 on Tuesday night.  The hubs and I drove the nearly 2 hour drive to the hospital to meet her.  The length of the drive gave me plenty of time to freak out.  We got to the hospital after receiving a few “hurry, they’re going to break my water soon” texts and calls.  My mom was there, so I felt better.  But I didn’t want to miss his birth.  (Well, to be fair, I thought that wouldn’t have been the exact worst thing in my mind due to my hatred and fear hospitals and all things medical after all my time spent in them.  Special shout out and thanks to my medical history.)  The hubs drove like the wind, as best we could on a night where it seemed like every cop was on the freeway, thwarting our attempts!

We go to the hospital just in time!  Well… just in time to wait.  And wait.  And wait.  And not sleep.  And wait.  We got to the hospital at 10:30pm.  They broke her water the next morning at 10:00am.  The baby was born at 12:54pm.  So, in retrospect, we could have stayed home and gotten one more good night’s sleep, had a hearty breakfast, pet the dogs a little longer for their last one-on-one time and taken a shower.  All of those things sounded wonderful at 4am when we were still awake!

Sleepiness in the hospital hallway at 2:35am

Sleepiness in the hospital hallway at 2:35am

My parents stayed at the hospital all night with us (something they’re used to do, thanks again to my wonderful medical past), though my dad did abandon ship and go to sleep in his car.  But my mom, the dependable trooper, stayed with us.

Funny side story: around 3:30am we tried to go down to the lobby where they had loveseat couches to sleep.  We all chose a couch and laid down.  The security guard immediately came over and told my mom and the hubs they couldn’t put their feet up, but that I was ok.  Hey wheelchair, you finally paid off!  I get to lounge while the others have to be upright!  Score!  Screw you equality, I’m using this to my advantage.  Well, about 10 minutes later, another guard came over and said to put my feet down.  “But, the other guys said it was OK!”  I said, in more of a sleepy stammer than my normal Italian bluster.  “Put them down.” He repeated.  I was too tired to argue.  But security guard 1 then shouted across the room that it was OK.  Not wanting to cause a scene in a hospital lobby,  and sensing that my mom was getting riled up to protect my right to lounge, I I just said it was OK.  It was loud and cold anyway, and not like I was sleeping.  We gave up and went back up the room.

Another side story: Around 12:20, our surromom’s nurse went on lunch break and there was a replacement nurse tending to her.  She noticed a weird noise from the monitors which we had all been annoyed by but at this point, had become background noise.  The nurse called IT to fix the problem.  At the same time, the anesthesiologist had come to check on her epidural.  The IT guy disconnected the monitor to replace the unit, when Surromom announced that she felt pressure and that the baby was coming.  You’ve never seen an IT guy move so quickly installing equipment before, as I’m sure witnessing the miracle of life was way outside of his paygrade!  The anesthesiologist told Surromom that he didn’t want to give her more medication if she was about to deliver, which he should know better than to tell a woman who has been in labor for over 14 hours.  Suffice it to say, she got her meds and he escaped with his life.  I was texting my mom to hurry, as she had been down in the cafeteria to get some rest and give us some space.  At about 12:50, the nurse was back, the doctor was there.  The nurse made room for me and my wheelchair (which felt huge and awkward and space consuming at that time) next to the incubator.  It was go time.  And I started crying.  Holy crap, I’m about to become a mom!

And then he was here.  All 8 pounds 2 ounces of him.  And they placed his tiny, goopy body on me.  And there were no more tears.  It was just this overwhelming sense of “I’ve got this, little man.”  Well, I had that feeling until the first time he tried to move his head and I shrieked to the nurse “What do I do?!”  And she showed me how to hold him and that he wasn’t all that fragile (something I’ve heard but didn’t quite believe).  Then, the calm came back over me.  The wheelchair disappeared.  My fear disappeared.  And I realized, that I do have this.  Little Mister and I will figure this out together.  He’s never been a baby before and I’ve never been a mom.  So we will figure this out together!  Plus, it helps that the hubs is such a naturally amazing dad.  So, what I can’t do, or what is hard, he is there to help with.  (I’m mostly saying this now because last night I was exhausting and he took 2 of the 3 night feedings and got up with him this morning so I could get more sleep.  Such a good dad and a great hubs!)

So in sum, holy crap, I’m a mom!  I will get through this.  And I look forward to sharing tips and stories of what it’s like to be a mom in a wheelchair!

mom in a wheelchair

The beginning

The first thing I remember is asking for my mother.  I was groggy after my surgery, slowly coming awake.  I was too out of it to be in much pain at that moment.  But I wanted my mom.  While I was waiting for her to come back I had a terrible realization: I couldn’t move my legs.  When she arrived at my bedside, I started to cry and panic.  “Mom!  I can’t move my legs!  I can’t move my legs!”  She didn’t seem phased by this information, but instead tried comforting me and telling me to calm down.  My surgeon appeared in the next minutes.  I told him the same thing.  He did not seem surprised either.  What surprised me though, is that he seemed very concerned and almost sad by this.  Somehow he already knew.  Maybe I woke up before I remember and they knew.  I was so out of it that I really couldn’t tell you.

I had walked into the hospital ten hours prior.  It wasn’t supposed to be a major surgery.  Well, let me qualify that.  In relation to my other surgeries, this one wasn’t going to be major.  My last back surgery had been 15 hours.  The one before that 13.  This one was only supposed to be 4 hours.  Although, when the doctor go in there, things were worse than he had thought.  I guess that MRIs and all those other tests can only show so much.  This surgery ended up being 8 hours.  I felt bad for the other patients waiting on my surgeon that day.  I definitely threw off his schedule.

The hard part for me was that I walked into the hospital.  True, I had been on a cane.  And also true, I hadn’t been able to do a lot of walking.  But I walked in.  Now I couldn’t move my legs.  Because of this, they took me up to the ICU for intense recovery.  I had the best nurse in the ICU.  She took such good care of me.  On the first of second day (I lost track of time) I had to go for a MRI.  She went with me to make sure I was taken care of.  I remember telling her that the transport guy was flirting with her.  I may have been heavily medicated and in intense pain, but I can spot flirting from a mile away.

A few days into my hospital stay I met my priest.  According to my husband, I was in the middle of a panic attack and was in so much pain when Father John walked in.  (I remember Father John coming in, but don’t remember the rest.)  He said I instantly calmed when I saw the priest.  Father John was amazing.  He sat down with me and let me talk and cry.  He blessed me with Holy Oil.  He was truly amazing.  He visited me often while I was there.  I joked around that they kept moving me to different rooms but that Father John was very good tending his flock cause he always found me.

I spent about 4.5 of the 6 weeks in the rehabilitation unit.  When I first got there, I was a blubbery mess.  I couldn’t stop crying.  I was scared and in pain.  That’s where I first heard the “P” word: paraplegic.  When they referred to me as a paraplegic, I knew they had to be wrong.  The non-moving legs was just temporary.  My surgeon is one of the best in the country.  There’s no way I’m not walking again.  This made me cry.  But then I’d realize that there was a chance my legs wouldn’t come back.  That made me cry more.  They sent in a man who had been a paraplegic for 20 something years to inspire me.  This made me cry.  Then I felt terrible for feeling this way, but I couldn’t help thinking that while he was able to do amazing things, I just couldn’t be permanently paralyzed.  That made me cry more.  The staff gave me freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.  This made me cry less.  But then the thoughts would come back and I’d cry again.

The first day the therapists wanted me to do things like transfer from the bed to the wheelchair on a wooden board.  I told them they were smoking crack.  They wanted me to sit on the edge of the bed.  I would cry and tell them I would fall.  I was scared to do anything.  And did I mention the pain?  I was trying to not take pain medications for fear of addiction.  My doctors had to repeatedly tell me that it was in my best interest to take them and that there was no way I would get addicted if taking them as they instructed.  I complied, but with the secret thought that my goal was to get off of them as soon as possible.

So, that’s an introduction of me and the start of this crazily scary journey.  But at the end of the day, I hang on to my cautious optimism as it’s all I have to get me through.