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When? NOW! It’s already moved! Click here, you’ll see.

What now?  Now you forget about this url and change your subscriptions, feeds, home page (I can wish can’t I?) to www.thegreencalabash.com.

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Bringing Baby Home

I don’t know how else to phrase it so I’m just going to go ahead and say that the first few days at home with Ella were horrible. You, read that correctly – ho-rri-ble. It was by far the most emotionally and physically draining time of my life. Let’s put it another way shall we? I would rather go through child labor every day for a month rather than re-live those first days one more time. It was that bad.

Where do I start? Maybe right at the hospital when my doctor came to my bedside on the morning after I gave birth and gently said, “The first several days are going to be rough. But it gets better.” Or that same night, when Ella cried for 3 hours nonstop. No, I think the true starting point of hell week was the day we were discharged from the hospital – 2 days after I’d given birth. The minute we were given the go ahead to clear out of the room, Ella began to cry. And by cry I mean scream in the most gut-wrenching and horrifying manner on earth. It was loud and it was shrill. It was awful. It was almost as if she knew we had been allowed to take her home and she was trying to warn someone, ANYONE, that we were rookies at this parenting thing and had no business being allowed to take a newborn home. Or maybe she was trying to warn us in the only way she knew how that the next several days were going to be rough.

That cry tormented us over the next few days. She would be fine one moment and then the next, she would refuse to breastfeed and opt instead to scream her lungs off. Hubs and I almost went mad. Emotionally we were beyond the point of fragile – I wept uncontrollably. I wept whenever I spoke (no matter what I was saying), I wept whenever I looked at her, I wept whenever I thought about her…I just wept. All the time. It was so ridiculous that after going through a hundred tissues, I started carrying around a TOWEL to wipe the tears away. Physically we were at a point of sleep deprivation that had turned us into zombies. And let’s not forget that I had just pushed out a human being out of my you-know-what so I was still recovering from THAT.  I was an injured zombie (though zombies are by definition, injured, so I guess I was an ideal zombie). We were too tired to stay clothed – I was breastfeeding constantly so it made no sense at all to wear anything on my upper half and then for some reason, the elastic on my poor husband’s sweats gave way and they kept on falling. Our apartment became a nudist colony. A zombie nudist colony.     

It was not until we went for Ella’s first appointment with the pediatrician two days after we brought her home that we found out why she had been crying so much – she was HUNGRY! Let me take this moment to say that colostrum is a huge fat disappointment. Breastfeeding die-hards call it liquid gold. Yeah, right. I call it insufficient. She breastfed nonstop and was still hungry! And I had been so trained to think of formula as the devil’s juice that I was determined never to go that route. My poor little girl took one sip of formula at the doctor’s office and slept soundly for hours. For the next 10 days (until my mature milk came in), I supplemented her feedings with formula and we never had to hear that cry again. Things have continued to get better ever since. I think of this as my first lesson in motherhood – you do what works to survive! I have a feeling that I’m going to break all the rules I read about and adopted before I had a baby – no formula and no pacifier are already out the window. It’s all about survival and adapting to different situations on the fly. Like a ninja.

A Birth Story

 Wednesday, November 3rd 2010

11 a.m. – I wake up (Don’t judge me. In my defense I had been up for a full hour in the wee hours of the morning with false labor pains). I wake up feeling fine but I have a stinking suspicion that my water may have broken or at least leaked at some point during the night.

12 p.m. – Call my doctor. She asks me what time in the morning I think my water broke. I explain that I just woke up an hour ago and couldn’t be sure but probably sometime between 5 a.m. (when I was up with the false labor) and 11 a.m. when I woke up.  “So, you just woke up?” *awkward silence while I consider lying about what time I woke up but then decide that she’s my doctor and not my father so, whatever* YES. She tells me that she believes me, my water has probably broken but since I’m not having any contractions I should hang out at home. If after 12 hours, I haven’t gone into full labor, I am to report straight to the hospital.

3 p.m. – My efforts to initiate contractions are beginning to get desperate – I’ve done it all: walked around the neighborhood, bounced on a bouncy ball, eaten a WHOLE pineapple, everything! In a last ditch effort to coax my body into labor, I decide that I’m going to dance the afternoon away. I turn on the TV and begin to get down with my pregnant self to some dancehall music. WOOSH! Right in the middle of a spectacular getting-low move (you should have seen me people, I was shaking di dam ting!) the rest of my water broke. No question about it this time. This was really happening. I braced myself for the contractions that were sure to be starting any moment.

9 p.m. – No contractions! Not a single one! My body had just refused to cooperate. Induction was looking like my only option. Crap! I’d been told that induction increases the chances of a c-section. Crappity crap crap. My body officially sucked. Oh well. I decided to groom myself and pack my bags for the hospital. What kind of grooming, you ask? Well. For starters, I shaved my legs so that the doctor wouldn’t be distracted by bear-like legs during delivery. Hubs and I packed our bags and hailed a cab.

11 p.m. – I check into the hospital. They confirm that yes, my water had definitely broken and the nurse giddily informs us that we’re gonna have a baby. No sh*t lady. They start me on pitocin (labor induction drug) to bring on those elusive contractions. I braced myself for the contractions that were sure to be starting any moment.

Thursday, November 4th 2010

8:15 a.m. – No contractions! Ok, let me re-phrase that: no intense contractions! I had mild cramping sensations but that was all. On a scale of 1 to 10, the pain was at a 2. Crappity crap crap! They called my doctor in to discuss my situation and she decided to break the rest of my water (apparently, I had a never-ending supply of water) to see if that would move things along. Having lost all confidence in my body to labor properly, I braced myself for more of nothing.

8:16 a.m. – HOLY CRAP MOTHER OF ALL CONTRACTIONS! The horrrrrorrrrrrr! On a scale of 1 to 10, the pain was most definitely at 100. It felt like I was having the worst cramps in the history of cramps but at the same time, someone was torching my lower back and uterus from the inside. Aching, burning, piercing PAIN. It was so shocking that I couldn’t even scream or cry. All I could do was make low guttural sounds reminiscent of a scene from The Exorcist.  After a grand total of 15 minutes breathing, walking and kumbayaaing through non-stop contractions I demanded to see the anesthesiologist. STAT!

8:50 a.m. – It took 20 minutes of sitting still through some excruciating contractions but they finally administered the epidural. WOW. I think the epidural was laced with weed because I felt AMAAAAAZING. I was so happy (or high) that I couldn’t stop smiling. Where had this drug been all my life? I told the anesthesiologists that I loved them. They didn’t seem surprised.

2:00 p.m. – The epidural was still making my life very easy…it had taken the pain down to about a 3 so although I could feel the contractions, they felt like mild cramps. I was so relaxed that the doctor had to come and check on me if only to remind me that I still had a baby to birth.  To our surprise, when she checked, she found that I was ready to push. (Imagine that, my body had finally decided to get with the program!). She went to call the nurse and together they began to prep the room for delivery. We really were gonna have a baby after all!

2:32 p.m. – After less than 20 minutes of nearly effortless pushing, my daughter slipped out of me and into the world.

What followed next were several hours of indescribable joy…I laughed and cried hysterically. Hands down, those were the best moments of my life.

Too bad the sheer ecstasy of those first couple of days did nothing to prepare us for the sheer dreadfulness characteristic of life with a newborn.

 To be continued. (Cue dramatic music)

She’s Here! (And why last week was the best week ever)

She’s here! I can hardly believe it myself. Our little Ella was born on November 4, 2010. She’s the primary reason for my week-long silence ( and bloodshot eyes and bushy eyebrows AND overgrown toenails – oh dear, I just described Big Foot didn’t I? ). I have so much to say about labor (not what I expected), newborns (definitely not what I expected) and my life as a rookie mom (ok, I saw this one coming) but I have no time to say it! I’ll take a moment to organize my thoughts (and life in general) but while I do so, feast your eyes on this picture of the much awaited little princess.

Wrapped up like a burrito!

And as if last week was not already the best week ever:

1. The Green Calabash got nominated (by some awesome gals) for a Mommy blog award! Wanna vote for me? Just click on the badge below and go right ahead!


2.  The Green Calabash was featured as blog of the week in Zuqka magazine – page 15, a publication of the Daily Nation (a Kenyan Newspaper)!

Woot!

Premature Exhilaration

You know why I didn’t post anything on Monday? Because I thought I was in labor. Again. And I was wrong. AGAIN. I’m beginning to think that this baby is just toying with me…what kind of sociopath am I bringing into the world?  Teasing an exhausted pregnant woman with the finish line? WHO DOES THAT?

This all started on Saturday afternoon. I began having this cramping sensation in my lower abdomen. Woohoo! This is what I had been told early labor felt like! The time had finally come to have this baby! (This is just sad – I’m so ready to give birth that CRAMPS sent me on the emotional high of the decade) Exhilarated and eager to intensify the contractions which I’d been having for about 3 hours, I decided to go on a walk. Result? 30 minutes later they were gone. Vanished! Poof! According to my trusted source, The Internet, this is one sure indication of ‘true’ versus ‘false’ labor – true labor is intensified by activity and movement while false labor is ceased by the same. False labor has to be the most depressing, irritating and down right mean thing in the world. It SUCKS.  

THEN. On Monday at about 5 AM I was awakened by cramps in my lower abdomen AND lower back. Gasp! Could it be that Saturday was a dry run and that THIS was the real thing? That had to be it. Woohoo! Unable to fall back asleep with the cramping, excitement and what not, I spent the next 3 or so hours planning how I would let hubs go to work for half the day, do some laundry, run to the grocery store AND paint my nails before the contractions got really, really bad. But first, I needed to clean the house. I hopped out of bed and started cleaning. Result? 40 minutes later, no cramps. Gone! Again! As emotionally fragile as I was on account of this premature exhilaration, I decided that rather than blog, I should take a nap instead. Which I did. For two whole hours.    

I’m still pregnant. The doctor says that I’m dilating and that the baby has dropped lower than ever before so apparently the false labor is having some positive effects. But for now, I’m still pregnant. 

I’m starting to think that I’ll be pregnant FOREVER.

Weight Watcher

On Monday I had my second to last doctor’s appointment before my due date. As usual, the appointment began with the command to pee in a cup whereupon I proceeded to give one of my worst performances to date (I was running late and didn’t have enough time to drink the gallon of water it would take to satisfy those cut-throats). Then came the moment that I have come to dread: my weekly weigh-in. Now, I knew that this wasn’t going to be pretty… my eating habits had taken a turn for the worse ever since I realized that the “I’m eating for two” excuse was about to become null and void. So it was with much trepidation that I stepped onto the scale (FYI: I took off my shoes beforehand and even held my breath just in case I inhaled something weighty, you know, like a dust particle). It wasn’t a digital scale, it was one of those old-school ones where you’re forced to wait in agony while the nurse adjusts it this way and then that, moving to the right every time it becomes apparent that you’re heavier than she had approximated. After 10 hours or so of this torture (ok, maybe it was more like 10 seconds) she settled on my number for the day. Are you ready for this? 160 lbs a.k.a one hundred and sixty pounds a.k.a 73 kg a.k.a seventy three kilograms. All those pounds, mind you, are rested on a very short frame.

AND THEN, to be sure that I was fully aware of my condition, she decided that it would be best to make a formal announcement because you know, even though I was standing right there looking at the scale, she reckoned that it was always best to be crystal clear about these things. “So! You are at 160 lbs”. I gasped… no doubt as a result of both shock and oxygen deprivation (I had been holding my breath, remember?). I think my husband gasped too but I can’t be sure because at this point the room was spinning and my life was flashing before my eyes.

Now, this shouldn’t be worrisome because after all, I am carrying another human being inside of me AND since I plan to breastfeed, I should lose lots of weight, right? WRONG! You people don’t know my body! It is the most uncooperative body that ever existed and it LOVES to hang onto excess. Maybe the breastfeeding thing works for some people but I am 99.9% positive that it will NOT work for me. So unless I give birth to a 30 lb child (hope springs eternal!) I fear that I will never get rid of this pregnancy weight.

Where does that leave me? Well. I’m certainly not going to accept this fate. SO! I’m working on a plan. It’s more of a healthy lifestyle plan than a weight loss plan because I intend to stick with the plan for the rest of my life. I will track my weight loss for a while because I don’t know how else I’d know if any physical changes are happening. When will all this start? About 8 weeks post-delivery which conveniently allows me to enjoy my first weeks of motherhood, thanksgiving and Christmas. 

Look out for the debut of this plan/program/thing next year complete with program details, progress updates (maybe even photos *gasp*), weigh-ins, etc. This might actually be fun and I’m not one to keep all the joy to myself so who wants to get on the program with me?! *crickets*

I bet you thought I didn’t. But I did. So, there.

Remember when I said that my afternoons were utterly boring and that I was going to take up some sort of crafting activity but I didn’t know what I was going to do because I’m not any good at that sort of stuff but I was going to give it a shot anyway because doggonit I needed something to do? Well. After visiting a few crafting websites and seeing how much crafting supplies actually cost (!) I settled on knitting because A. I already own knitting needles and B. It dawned on me that I had no interest in making soap or candles because shower gel and electricity have served me just fine thus far, thank you. With that in mind, I settled on knitting something for the baby. Truth be told, I was heavily motivated by the possibility that another mom may admire my knitted wear and spread the word to all the other moms on the block that they should all be jealous and aspire to be the kind of mom that I am i.e. the kind that knits, because everybody knows that knitting moms are awesome. I can just imagine myself casually pointing to my warmly dressed child saying Oh that? No, *insert fake laugh here* it’s not designer. I just made it one afternoon when I was bored. Bam! Awesomest. Mom. Ever.      

The beautiful thing about knitting is that no matter how much of a novice you are, you can still make something. Take me for example, I’m completely useless when it comes to knitting, having only ever knitted monochromatic scarves, but after watching a few You Tube videos I made two baby hats with matching leg warmers! See proof below.

Granted, all measurements were totally guessed, one of the hats turned out bigger than expected and she might not be able to wear any of the leg warmers until her 4th birthday — but at least that means that her birthday presents for that year are sorted. Thinking ahead = More mom awesomeness.

Are We There Yet?

I have been pregnant for the whole of 2010. Just about. March to November is pretty much the whole year. The fact that I’ve experienced all four seasons while preggo should at least count for something.

The beginning of my pregnancy caught the remnants of the frigid winter weather and consequently, Winter 2010 will forever be remembered for horrible morning sickness. First of all, let me take issue with that term – morning sickness. Please be assured that there is no such thing as MORNING sickness. You might get ALL DAY sickness or 24/7 torture or round-the-clock nausea but you will NOT get any such thing as a considerate sickness that kindly restricts itself to the morning hours. I don’t know what lying, sadistic, delusional medical professional came up with that term. It is complete hogwash. So, anyway, during Winter 2010, I would drag myself out of bed and get ready for work (Yes! I had a job at the time!) while desperately trying not to lose my stomach contents.  Since it was too early to reveal my pregnancy to my colleagues, I would spend the entire work day putting on a show of physical wellness even when all I wanted to do was curl up in a corner and cry. That being said, Winter 2010 will mostly be remembered for the shock and excitement of discovering that I was pregnant. Those indescribable moments of realization are etched in my memory forever.

Eventually, Spring 2010 arrived and my second trimester brought with it good health and overall happiness. Well, maybe not overall happiness seeing as this was the time the company tanked and I lost my job. I didn’t even get to tell the bastards I was pregnant! I couldn’t help being happy though because the ‘morning’ sickness was gone! Yay! Yes, I was jobless and pregnant BUT I felt great for the first time in weeks. In a fit of optimism and pregnancy-induced euphoria, I spent the Spring of 2010 looking for a new job. As you know, dear reader, this effort proved to be futile, hence the blog. (Side note: This blog saved my life. OK, maybe that’s a bit too dramatic (even for me) but seriously, it not only helped me cope with the drastic changes taking place in my life but it also gave me a creative outlet and a way to connect with people during the long and lonely daytime hours.) 

Summer! I love hot weather. I always have. 88 degrees and sunny is my type of weather. At least it was, until the Summer of 2010. Being pregnant during the summer is NO JOKE. Imagine having hot flashes, fatigue, swollen joints and an increasingly ballooning body in the dead heat of summer. I felt like a beached whale. I became captive in my own home. Imagine! Me! The same person who could spend endless hours in hot and humid temperatures was now a slave to the AC! I felt inherently non-African. Sweltering heat aside though, Summer 2010 will be memorable for the purchase of my very first maternity outfit as well as the purchase of an adorable pink newborn dress since we had just received the exciting news that we were having a GIRL!       

And now, the leaves are turning red-orange-yellow as Fall 2010 kicks into full gear. I am STILL pregnant. It feels like I’ve been on this journey forever and I’m still not there yet. Yes, the finish line is right in front of me but for some reason, these last 3 weeks are fixing to be the most unbearable of the entire pregnancy! My usually cheerful disposition is slipping away. FAST. If this baby doesn’t come soon I fear for random strangers who stare at my mid-section, and girls carrying shopping bags from clothing stores that I haven’t been inside of in the last 9 months, and friends who drink wine in front of me, but most of all, I fear for my poor husband who has to sleep next to an emotionally unstable and potentially homicidal maniac every night. 

Pregnancy has been a great experience and an absolute blessing. But I’m ready for it to be over. Like, now.

Birth Plan

So, apparently, one of the major decisions leading up to delivery is whether or not one will be taking pain medication during labor. Usually, the question is framed in a round-the-bush sort of way like, ‘Have you thought about your birth plan?’ In the beginning, clueless as I was, I used to be all like Well, duh…my plan is to push this baby out, preferably at a hospital and in the presence of medical personnel. Realizing that this was my first time at the rodeo, question-askers would opt for the more direct route and ask ‘Are you going to go all natural?’ At this point, the conversation would deteriorate into a confused monologue (by yours truly) that would inevitably leave me exasperated and the question-asker sorry that they asked in the first place.

News flash: I’ve never done this before. I have absolutely no idea how it’s going to go, whether or not I will demand pain medication. I’ve listened to many experienced moms from both sides of the aisle and I find myself unable to lean one way or the other. Yesterday for example, I was talking to a lady at church who gave birth about a month ago and somehow she worked the fact that she’d gone all natural into the conversation. The naturalistas (let’s call them that, shall we?) ALWAYS find a way to work their accomplishment into a conversation. Any conversation. In this case, I asked her how she liked the hospital (since I’ll be delivering at the same one) and she responded by saying, ‘Well, you know, I WENT ALL NATURAL and I labored at home for 8 hours before I got there.’ Did she answer my question? No. But she was determined to get this little fact across before the conversation was over and I guess this opportunity was as good as any. I don’t blame her – it IS a great accomplishment. But  “I went all natural” bragging rights are not enough to persuade me at this point UNLESS I get a plaque made in my honor and can successfully mention it in every conversation I have till death or menopause, whichever comes first.

And now I’ve noticed that with this question hanging over my head, every pain I have has become a test of whether or not I’ll get meds during labor. So when a backache yesterday rendered me light-headed, on the verge of tears and ready to call 9-1-1, I concluded that my fate in this matter may already be sealed. The backache by the way, lasted 20 minutes tops.

At the end of the day (and any monologue that might ensue following the big question), I must conclude that I’m just one of those annoying people who refuses to commit one way or the other. I’ll make my decision on D-day (where D stands for delivery not doom unless labor is worse than the backache I had yesterday, in which case D would definitely stand for doom).

Stuff I’ll Miss About Pregnancy

This is a blatant effort to cheer myself up. To remind myself that pregnancy is a wonderful thing that should be embraced fully before it’s over. I need this to maintain my sanity. So, here goes: these are the things I’ll miss about being preggo. 

Eating, eating, eating

I have milked this cow for all it’s worth. There is neither a fast food place nor a donut shop that has been spared from my gluttony. Fried chicken with fries for lunch AND dinner? Check. Donuts and hot chocolate at midnight? Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. Smores and brownies for breakfast? Done and done. It’s. Been. AWESOME. 

Peace of mind

My womb is a safe place. There are no sharp edges to bump on, no high places to fall from, no snakes, no ninja-baby-stealing-warriors, no catholic priests or any other hazards lurking around the corner. While I’m pregnant and she’s in me, I have the peace of mind that she’s well-protected, warm and cozy. Once she’s out however, all bets are off and for the next 18 years, I’ll be a nervous wreck.

Compassion

The public displays of kindness from complete strangers have been shocking. Especially men. Ladies, rest assured that chivalry is not dead! It’s like something deep, deep, DEEP inside men is awakened when a pregnant woman appears. They spring into action; opening doors with amazing speed, springing up from chairs and gladly donating them, offering to lighten loads even when the only thing carried is a purse, the list goes on and on. I’m afraid that I’ve become quite accustomed to this treatment and will feel incredibly neglected when it ends. 

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I can’t think of anything else to add to this list right now because today is one of those days when I’m so freaking tired and uncomfortable and hormonal and huge that all I want to do is cry. And eat. And maybe read my book. I think I deserve a donut and some hot chocolate. Yes. That’s exactly what I need. My day is looking up already. Yay.

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