Well, this is my first time writing as a mother of two and it’s a little strange, I have to admit. Strange in a good way of course.
Ella Rose Marie Sullivan was born at 9:45 AM Wednesday, June 20th via planned Caesarean section at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, weighing 8 pounds, 6 ounces. She was delivered by the same wonderful surgeon who brought Daisy into the world two years and two months earlier to the day.
The Shortest & Simplest Birth Story Ever
Nick and I arrived at 7 the morning of our scheduled delivery with our carefully-packed bags and a moderate amount of nerves. We were checked in and processed very quickly. Every member of our care team came in to say hi and make sure we were feeling confident and ready. We started fluids via IV and signed all the necessary paperwork. At about 8:30 I was wheeled into the operating room where I reviewed my birth preferences with the team and appropriate medications including the spinal epidural were administered. I was quickly laid down and began to feel the anesthesia do it’s job as everyone bustled around me to prepare for surgery.
Nick was allowed in a few minutes before the procedure began and sat by my side in his scrubs and rose bow tie (a gift from Daisy and I for Father’s Day - it seemed only appropriate he have one for Ella Rose after wearing a daisy bow tie every day during Daisy’s hospital stay!). I was quite nervous as things started to happen and had some trouble breathing through my nose but Nick talked me through breathing exercises and slowly told me the story of how we met and fell in love. It was the most perfect distraction and calming force.
From the time he started operating, the surgeon explained everything as it was happening. They had to work through a greater than normal amount of scar tissue given this was my second C-section so there was a bit more tugging and pulling which I could feel but only at a surface level. As soon as they pulled Ella from my body, the curtain was dropped (which we requested) and we were able to see our purple-hued, vernix-covered sweet girl in all her glory when she let out her first cry. I was so overwhelmed with gratitude and love and wonder - she looked so big and so healthy, it’s still hard to comprehend that she came from my body!
After Ella was removed, we delayed the clamping of the umbilical cord for a few moments to allow more blood to transfer from the placenta to her body (which in turn increases blood volume and iron storage which is essential for healthy brain development). Once the cord was clamped, we spent a few moments skin-to-skin and introducing the breast. Ella was then brought into a side room to be cleaned and given some oxygen as she had a bit of trouble breathing in the beginning.
The surgeon returned all of my organs to their former places and sewed my abdominal skin back together with dissolvable stitches and applied a dressing - then I was wheeled into a recovery room where Nick and Ella were waiting for me!
Everything happened quickly and painlessly with lots of discussion and consent all along the way. I wish every mother could have the sort of positive and collaborative hospital birth experience I did!
We spent the rest of Wednesday, all of Thursday and Friday in the hospital and were discharged Saturday morning. The time we spent in the hospital was really lovely - we ended up with a spacious private room (and thanked our lucky stars every minute we were there!) with a gorgeous view of downtown Philadelphia. All of the nurses who who cared for Ella and I were kind and attentive. We focused our time in the hospital on rest, doing as much skin-to-skin as possible and breastfeeding.
Daisy & Ella's First Meeting
Introducing Daisy and Ella was the most magical, emotional and heartwarming moment of my life. We were very careful to welcome Daisy into the hospital room without Ella in sight at first, then after visiting with Daisy for a bit, we brought Ella in slowly and placed her on Daisy's lap. Daisy was absolutely fascinated by her tiny baby sister's face and hands and little sounds and movements. When she cried, Daisy immediately responded by rubbing her tummy or patting her arm saying "don't cry Ella, I'm here". I could hardly contain my own tears - I felt such a swell of pride and joy watching the meeting of these two magnificent little people who I adore so deeply. We cannot wait to watch their relationship unfold - it's already off to a beautiful start.
Breastfeeding is really hard and for me has never been the walk in the park I dreamt it would be. Ella’s approach to breastfeeding was full of mixed signals. Any time she was close to my chest she was “rooting” - I.E. searching for a breast with her hands and mouth - but when she got close to actually nursing she would get overwhelmed and start to cry. When we did seem to successfully establish a latch, it only lasted for a second or two before she pushed away or fell asleep!
Our strategy in the hospital was to stay on a routine of pumping, skin-to-skin with attempts to latch and feeding Ella whatever colostrum I could produce with a supplement of Similac every 2-3 hours. Sticking to this schedule was really difficult because all three of us were exhausted but keeping at it is so important in the first days of life for baby. Even if baby doesn’t latch for long, the contact is critical to help “bring milk down” so mom can at least pump and keep increasing supply.
When we got home, we continued to work hard at nursing with continued difficulty. Yesterday, we met with a lactation consultant who helped us identify the problem we experienced with establishing s latch and staying put: Ella has what is called "tongue tie" which means that her frenum, the membrane that connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth, restricts the movement of the tongue - often because it is too small or too short to allow for proper movement. This can interfere with breastfeeding and digestion - and later in life cause speech issues. We are now in the process of scheduling a laser revision procedure for Ella which will help fix this issue. We will likely have to be patient and wait a few weeks but we have a good plan for pumping and feeding breastmilk by bottle until the surgery is complete. Just when I thought we were done with surgeries for a while... Ha!
Home and Happy!
It is so nice to be home and settling into life as the four of us. We've been lucky to have so much support and love from our family and friends. My brother Fred and his girlfriend Taylor came to visit and help with Daisy all the way from Vietnam and my Dad and Mom each spent several days here too, helping us tremendously and spoiling us with generosity and love. We've had wonderful meals, long walks for ice cream, naptimes spent by the pool and I've laughed so much I thought my C-section incision was going to burst open! It has been a dream come true to bring home a second child to our beloved new house with family all around us. Nick's family comes next weekend and we can't wait to introduce Ella to all of them!
Thank you, sweet readers, for all of your kind emails and messages and prayers. We are so thankful for Ella's healthy arrival and for this new phase of life. Look forward to sharing the good (and the bad and the ugly - trust me, there's lots of that too, I had to interrupt writing this to address the second of two blowout poop situations TODAY!) with all of you as we settle in ♡