We’re still celebrating and rejoicing in the safe arrival of Nathaniel Valor our eleventh child. These are some notes of his first few days of life.
Before the birth
The days leading up to Nathaniel’s birth were full of God’s grace and peace.
I mentioned the special role that the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ played in my first cesarean birth (Isabella’s birth). In God’s good providence ‘Amazing Grace’ was the hymn of the month at our church. We have sung and will sing it every Sunday during the month of August.
In that post, I also shared how I struggled with fear and worry in the days (and especially hours) leading up to Isabella’s birth. This time was completely different. Our family enjoyed afternoons at the park, normal days full of reading and school work at home and evenings of reading and family worship.
The evening before the c-section was spent having a nice family dinner and lovely, relaxing time of family worship. We finished up with singing the Doxology: “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow”.
The children went to bed at their normal bedtime and Mark and I visited until my parents arrived then stayed up and had a nice visit with them.
The next morning the Doxology kept running through my head. As we entered the L&D floor a newborn was crying. I was immediately overwhelmed with God’s goodness to us, realizing that in just a few hours we would be welcoming a precious new life into our lives.
“Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow”
I hope to write up a full birth story, eventually, but I figured I’d share a couple details here.
Once the c-section began, Dr. V discovered that Nathaniel, instead of being breech (as he had been at my last OB visit), was transverse. Mark and I giggle now at the activity that this discovery started. Dr. V and his nurse (?) both got to work. As Mark said later, “You’re going to feel this later.”Evidently they were exerting a lot of force on my belly to get a hold of a part of Nathaniel that they could pull to get him out.
I could tell, by Dr. V’s voice that he was working hard to get this baby out. He told me later that they first tried to get his head, but were unsuccessful so then pushed his head up toward my ribs and were successful with a breech delivery.
The words I remember hearing were, “I have a foot, but can’t find the other one. Can you see a foot?” “There it is.”
Thankfully, the spinal worked wonderfully and I didn’t feel any of this.
Nathaniel was placed directly onto my chest, skin-to-skin and was never taken away from Mark and me.
As a matter of fact, Nate was never taken away from us during the entire hospital stay. Every thing happened in our room and in our presence.
I’ve always had low blood pressure, but during this recovery it proved to be a bit of an obstacle.
After my last c-section, I was up, showered, dressed and feeling terrific by 4-5 hours after surgery and although I know that every surgery is different, I was hoping for something similar. My parents brought the children to visit, but shortly after lunch the nurse was ready for me to try to get up out of bed. So Mark and the kids headed to the waiting room and the nurse helped me sit up on the edge of the bed.
This is the point that I should have called a halt to the process, but since I always have a tendency to be light-headed even after my regular births and I figured that I could work through this and it would pass.
Upon standing up, well let’s just say that there were obviously multiple reasons for my low blood pressure at this point.
We made it into the bathroom and I was certain that things would be better once I sat down.
At this point things get a little blurry, literally. More nurses appeared and someone held up some horrible smelling stuff to my nose. For the record, that stuff is gross and, in my opinion, doesn’t help a bit.
Then I was encouraged to put my head down between my legs (I don’t suggest trying that a few hours after having abdominal surgery with the pain meds wearing off).
By this point in time someone decided it was time for a wheel chair. I was pretty confident that there wouldn’t be enough time to wait for a wheel chair, so with 3 nurses helping, we made a dash back for the bed. I’m pretty confident that was the fastest I’ve moved in the past nine months. I’m sure it would have made “America’s Funniest” if we’d gotten it on tape.
My poor older kids were pretty concerned about my pallor when they returned and the nurses refused to allow me to try to get up again without first checking my blood pressure (which was hitting such numbers as 85/39 even after I was able to get up and around by myself).
For the record, it was about 10pm before I was able to stand up assisted. (Bleh!)
This part is for me: Since I’m allergic to morphine, during the last c-section, my anesthesiologist chose to omit the morphine derivative (which provides about 24 hours of pain relief) from the spinal. Whatever he used, it was a terrific alternative for me. I assumed that they would have a record of this alternative medication in my medical records because I wanted them to use the same thing this time. I was wrong.
After several conversations with the anesthesiologist prior to this c-section, they decided that it was most likely that I had been given Fentanyl (which provides about 2 hours of pain relief) and this is what they opted to use.
(Note to self: It’s not Fentanyl, it’s the other medication that they mentioned). The Fantanyl wasn’t it and it seemed that for the first 48 hours we were a little behind on the pain relief. By Wednesday evening, my nurse contacted Dr. V and he more than doubled my dosage of pain relief. The difference was night and day! (Note to self: Don’t try to tough it out and don’t minimize your pain number.) It only took ONE dose of the higher amount and everything was lovely. I was even able to discontinue the prescription medication by Thursday morning before coming home.
Nathaniel is Hebrew in origin and means ‘gift of God’
Valor -Strength of mind in regard to danger; that quality which enables a man to encounter danger with firmness; personal bravery; courage; intrepidity.
For months during the pregnancy we called little one Valor because we thought we were going to use that as his first name. As a result, many of the children still call him Valor. The rest of us are calling him ‘Nathaniel’, ‘Nathan’, ‘Nate’ and way too frequently ‘Nick’. I’m just warning you because while I think he’s going to end up being ‘Nate’ or ‘Nathaniel’ there is no telling what we’ll call him in the meantime.
So far, Nathaniel is one of those textbook perfect babies. He eats, he quietly and contentedly looks around and snuggles, then he falls asleep without any fuss. He doesn’t really fuss even when he’s ready to eat, he just gets a little restless.
The first night Nathaniel woke and ate around 1:30. Then until 4:30, he was restless.
I tried feeding him, burping him, snuggling him, feeding him, burping him, etc.
Around 4:30am the nurse came in. She’s been a labor and delivery nurse for more than 40 years. She looked at me and sweetly ‘scolded’, “Don’t you try to make that baby eat when he doesn’t want to. You have a big healthy baby who knows what he needs.” She said this as she took him from me and began to swaddle him tightly in a blanket. “If we had a preemie or little, tiny baby, then we might wish to encourage him to eat, but he’s a big healthy boy and knows what he needs. Just let him alone and he’ll be happy.” By this time she had finished swaddling him and he was already nearly asleep.
The boy loves to be swaddled!
Nate has spent many happy hours simply looking around and observing the world around him. Quite a difference from Isabella who was only happy when she was nursing.
Oh, and two of our friends (from our family Bible study) were in the same hospital having babies at the same time Nathaniel was born.
We were able to visit, rejoice with and encourage each other. It was a bit like having a party on the L&D floor.
After the first few days, I’ve felt much better, tired, but better. It certainly helps that Nate is sleeping like a champ (8pm-1am on Saturday night and 9pm-4am Sunday night).
“Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow”