*WARNING – THIS POST IS ABOUT MY EXPERIENCES AFTER LABOR & DELIVERY.
There I was on the hospital bed feeling all sorts of relief. My full and stretched belly was now strangely empty. The tiny kicks were no longer there. The pressure and pain I had been feeling for weeks was gone. But nearby was a tiny little baby.
There were all sorts of feels as I held her in my arms and she looked up at me with her precious eyes. I held her close and attempted to feed her for the first time. She latched and sucked, but for what only seemed like a few seconds. That made me nervous, but hopeful. I knew that breastfeeding was probably going to be difficult, but I felt determined.
Soon after the nurse came and told me that they would take the baby to the nursery. I said no, but she insisted. I tried again to say no, but in that situation I really think as a first time mom it is necessary to have someone to advocate for you. The nurse took her to clean her up and dress her in the nursery.
As I waited for a room to become available for me, I felt the sudden need to use the restroom. I called the nurse, who told me that she didn’t want me to get up as I might pass out. She handed me a bedpan and closed the curtain around my bed. 10 minutes later I called her back and told her I couldn’t manage this way and wanted to go to the restroom. She nervously dealt with my IV and walked with me across the room. I didn’t imagine how uncomfortable it would feel to get up and walk, but that wasn’t even half of it. Once in the bathroom, I did what I needed to do. Wiping was the most terrifying thing of the whole labor and delivery ordeal. How could I possible be this swollen? Is this normal? Am I going to be like this forever? The nurse helped me clean up with some cool water from the bidet sprayer. She then helped me into a pair of disposable underwear while inserting the biggest, thickest, longest pad I’ve ever seen. That was another terrifying thought. Blood, blood and more blood must be in my near future. I had seen the outcome of that on the pad that they had placed under me on the hospital bed, but I guess I assumed that was more from the delivery and not the aftermath.
Eventually, they came to take me to my new room. I would stay there for two days until I was ready to go home. They wheeled me down the hall, through a door and into a room. I moved from one bed to another and looked around…
Y went to the long sofa at the far end of the room to the right of me and my bed. They had brought him a pillow and blanket. He was asleep not long after. However, I couldn’t sleep. I sat in the bed thinking about my tiny baby and waiting for her to return.
I remember how happy I felt when they brought her in. A smiling nurse entered the room pushing a cart with my tiny baby all wrapped in white. She had on a white had and was swaddled in a white blanket. Her eyes were closed and she was sound asleep. The nurse told me that I should try to feed her and that if I needed something I could call the nursery.
I told her that I wanted help with breastfeeding, but since it was early in the morning there wasn’t anyone available yet. Instead she brought me a pump and told me that I could use it to try and express milk to give to the baby if I was worried that she wasn’t getting enough. To my surprise I was able to pump some of my colostrum. From what I had read about a newborn’s stomach size I felt confident that I was doing alright. I continued to try and breastfeed her and I also used the pump to put my mind at ease.
Another nurse entered pushing a blood pressure machine. She checked my blood pressure, oxygen levels and temperature. This happened periodically day/night until I left the hotel.
There was also a nurse who would come with an antibiotic and a painkiller. I took them without thinking twice, which is very unlike me.
Meals were also brought to me. I would get breakfast, lunch and dinner. They would also bring a tray of fruit, sweets and a thermos of arabic coffee after the dinner. Y had gone out to go home and change is clothes. He came back with a tray of chocolates from one of my favorite stores here in Riyadh: Aani & Dani.
At around 6 pm I had my first guests. My manager and work colleague came in smiling and congratulating me. They set down a bag on the table. Inside was a beautifully arranged tray of chocolates. They sat talking for a bit before saying goodbye.
Another guest arrived, another one of my lovely colleagues. Her office is next to mine and since I joined the team at work she has been a huge support and always a good laugh. She brought a beautiful bouquet of flowers, a dish of chocolates, balloons, a card and a box of my favorite brownies from a store called Anoosh.
That night I also saw my friend’s mom, my friend and her mother, and two other Saudi women I know (one I met while in Washington DC with Y as he did training. Her husband was also attending the same. — The other I met once in her home. Her husband is another friend of Y’s and also a student from his work). My friend’s mom brought me food to eat. She told me that she had made it with natural medicines (things like fenugreek) to help me recover. My friend and her mom brought a vase of flowers and a card. The two other women brought me chocolates and also things to drink and eat (also with natural things in hopes of a faster recovery).
My guests left and at that point I started to feel tired. Getting up to go to the bathroom was a task and actually using it was even worse. The hospital provided me with those huge pads, disposable underwear, an herbal wash to clean down there, as well as a cream to apply to my stitches.
Sitting up in bed was difficult. It hurt. I’m guessing because of the stitches, but also just from the swelling. The nurses had brought ice packs earlier to put down there, but to be honest I felt that the cold was more painful than the sitting (because there wasn’t really any barrier between the pack and my skin).
I slept facing the babies cart. I slept lightly, opening my eyes now and then to look at her. I did this unknowingly both of the nights that I stayed in that room.
The second day was a repeat of the first. I held my baby. I stared at her beautiful face. I tried to feed her, praying in my heart that it would be what was best for her.
At some point Y looked at me and said, we need to choose a name today. The day before he had called his dad and used the name that we had been thinking of if our baby was a girl. The name was Y’s grandmother’s name. She had passed away just after I found out that I was pregnant. However, Y’s dad asked that we choose something else. He said that the name is an old name and the there is already a girl in the family with that name. We hadn’t thought about any other names. I definitely hadn’t. We threw a few ideas at each other, but nothing seemed right. Y gave me a final 5 minutes to choose, or so he said. I sat thinking and a word came to mind. I asked Y if it could be used as a girl’s name and he smiled. I told him that was my choice.
In the evening I had visitors again. The first was another one of my colleagues from work. She came with the most beautiful vase of flowers, which she told me she had arranged herself. Turns out she has a little instagram business. She sat and talked with me.
A bit after that my friend’s mom and her little sister arrived. Her little sister brought flowers. Her mother brought more food for me. One of my friends also showed up. She also brought more food and drink. My other friends mom stopped by with containers of the “natural medicines”. She told me that I should try to use them when I got home.
I expected that I would feel very tired after all of the visiting, but to be honest it was such an amazing blessing. I couldn’t have asked for more. These women visited me because they care about me and wanted to help me. There is nothing better than that.
All I can say is may God bless the women who came to see me during that time. I was without my own family, or even my husband’s family, but they showed me that friends can also be family.
The visiting hours finished and sleep overcame me. The next morning it would be time to go home.
Early in the morning a nurse from the nursery came and said that they wanted to take the baby so that she could get her vaccinations and be checked before they allowed her to go home. I got a call a little while later saying that baby was healthy and there didn’t seem to be any problems with her health.
When it was time to go a man wheeled in a hotel cart to bring my things down to the car. Y went with him and returned with a wheelchair. I tried to sit in it, but it hurt…a lot. Instead I slowly walked down the hall. A few other women sat in wheelchairs outside the nursery, their husbands next to them. I stood next to Y waiting for them to bring her out. Y had to sign a few papers and they removed the bracelets from me and from baby. When the finishe day rushed ahead to bring the car near the door. The nurse walked down with me, pushing the baby. Y wasn’t at the door yet, so I attempted to sit down, which was awful. The nurse put the baby in my arms and walked off.
Not long after we were on our way home…