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)

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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.

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.

At the Doctor’s

I can’t wait until this peeing in a cup business is over. I have to do this every week at the doctor’s office, whether I have pee in my system or not. As soon as the nurse sees me approaching the reception desk, she starts to fish for that damn cup. And it’s no small cup either. This thing is huge. And intimidating. But every week, she asks me to “Fill this please.” And every week, I fail to do so because has she seen the size of that damn cup? Between the performance anxiety and hard job maneuvering my rotund belly into that tiny bathroom stall, I consistently fail to produce the kind of results I know she’s hoping for. I sheepishly hand the cup back and imagine her looks of disdain piercing my back as I walk away.

And then after all the peeing and resulting shame from doing such a subpar job, I have to get weighed in. Why they insist on weighing me every single week is beyond the scope of my imagination. How eager they are to get me on that scale! Those sadistic nurses. Every week, I ask them if I should take off my shoes before I step on the scale. And every week, they look at me like Sure, like that’s going to help you honey. They OBVIOUSLY don’t understand that my flip flops are heavier than they look. But because of the look they give me when I ask, I don’t take my flip flops off, I just deduct 50% from whatever weight gain figure they give me to account for the flip flops. Apparently, I’m the only person who still cares about getting accurate results.

Tomorrow at my weekly appointment, I have a good mind to stage a revolt demanding smaller pee cups and no more weigh-ins. And strawberry filled donuts in the reception area, because the least they can do is nourish us as they systematically chip away at our self-esteem.

Dear Baby

Dear Baby, 

Hi. It’s me, your mother. I don’t think we’ve been formerly introduced yet which I think is totally weird, given that you’re inside of me and everything. I won’t take up too much of your time…I just have a few things that I wanted to run by you, if that’s ok? 

I’m fully aware that you’re cramped in there. I appreciate the fact that you need to stretch from time to time. But seriously. Is all the kicking really necessary? One kick I can deal with, maybe even two…but the barrage of kicks at 3 o’clock in the morning is getting to be a major problem. And then there’s this thing you recently started doing that feels like you’re tickling or poking me with your fingers. That’s really cute and I’m happy that your fingers are in proper working condition but it feels really, really weird because your hands are directly above a very delicate area of mine (in about 10 years we’ll have a discussion about girl parts. ‘Delicate area’ or some other lame term will have to suffice until I find something else because this woman called Oprah who may or may not be relevant in your time, officially ruined the word Vajayjay for all of us). 

The doctor says that you weigh 4 lbs now. Congratulations! I must admit that I was secretly hoping for a ridiculous figure, say, upwards of 10 lbs to account for the 16 lbs that I’ve gained so far. Oh well.

I hear that you take occasional gulps of amniotic fluid (Euuwww) and can taste some of the food I eat. I hope you know that the ONLY reason that I’m currently eating my second strawberry filled donut and drinking hot chocolate at 11 pm is out of my deep, unfailing love for you.  Steamed broccoli would have been my preferred choice. *cough*

That’s all for now. Thanks for listening. You can go back to…to doing whatever you do in there when you’re not attacking my internal organs. 

See you soon,

Mommy

PS -> I know that I b*tch a lot about stuff, but in all honesty kiddo, you are TOTALLY worth it. And I mean that.

Sleep (or the lack thereof)

Sleep. Oh, how I took you for granted! How I miss the days when I could jump into bed, lay on my tummy and enjoy the next 13 or so hours of bliss! (Yes, I have been known to sleep until 2 pm or later, without so much as a stir. Don’t judge me.) What has changed, you ask? (Ok, I know you’re not really asking but we have to move this plot forward people. Work with me.) Well, I’m pregnant now. You know how they say A Baby Changes Everything? I think it starts way sooner than that for women – PREGNANCY Changes Everything. Case in point: Sleep.

I haven’t had a single undisturbed night of sleep in 6 months. To start with, as soon as I lay down in bed, heartburn erupts in my esophagus like an angry volcano. It waits patiently all day, biding its time until the second I get into bed. So then I have to sit up for a while, or get a glass of milk before trying again. When I’ve finally gotten the heartburn at a manageable level, I begin the long arduous task of finding a comfortable sleeping position. Back and tummy are strictly forbidden by the doctor… something about smashing the baby or your spine or something. The question then becomes, what side will be less painful to sleep on or rather, which hip/shoulder will protest the least. This question can only be answered by trial & error, so for the next 15 minutes or so, I’m tossing from side to side hoping and praying that something works. And here’s the kicker, do you know what serves as the soundtrack to my torment? The exasperating sound of my husband’s snoring. Is there any justice in this world?! (Well, actually, yes there is. How do I know? Because this Saturday hubby started complaining that his nipples were sensitive and itchy. I happily informed him that he was experiencing sympathy symptoms of pregnancy and that he should prepare himself because he would probably start to lactate very soon but that he would be ok because I would buy enough nursing bras for both of us and that he should be happy because at least we know that our baby will be very well fed.)

Eventually, I do fall asleep only to wake up 3 hours later to pee. I grope my way to and from the bathroom in total darkness and then start the process of trying to fall asleep all over again. Laying there, awake and in the dark at 3 am can feel quite lonely, but I’m usually comforted by the Man Upstairs. Not God, no, I mean that literally – the man who lives above us. I’m quite sure that our bedroom is right below his bathroom. And many a time, he wakes up to pee at around the same time that I do (I think I have super-hormones or something because they seem to be affecting all males within a very wide radius. Exhibit A: My soon-to-be lactating husband). I’m confident that it’s a man because of the ferocity of his…umm…downpour. I’ve never met him before but if I ever did, I would tell him that I feel like I’ve bonded with him since he’s my pee-buddy and that I really appreciate him because he makes me feel less lonely at night. Ok, admittedly, I would need to find a much, much less creepy way of saying that.

Great Expectations

This past weekend we spent our entire Saturday attending an 8 hour pre-natal seminar for first time parents. Yes, you read that correctly – 8 hour seminar. The length of the class is a direct representation of how thoroughly dense we are about the process of childbirth. Not wanting to offend us, they named the seminar Great Expectations instead of something more appropriate like, You Have No Idea What Kind of Sh*t Storm is Coming Your Way – which would have been my suggestion.

God bless our instructor, she really did try to be reassuring even as she assaulted us with image upon gory image of birthing scenes. It’s the most natural process in the world. Just remember to keep breathing, it helps with the pain. Trust your body, it knows exactly what to do. Umm, I’m sorry lady but after 25 years of experience with this body, I’m pretty sure that it’s clueless 99.9% of the time. Believe me, I’ve given this body plenty of chances to prove its prowess and self-control – at the gym, at all-you-can-eat buffets, the list goes on and on. Bottom line is that so far I’ve seen nothing from my body that would make me trust in it with such reckless abandon. Also, I see nothing natural about an 8 pound mini-human coming out of the itsy bitsy opening of another human…that sounds like the most unnatural thing in the world to me. And breathing? Really, you’re going to tell me that breathing helps with the pain? Breathing is also something that I’ve had a lifetime of experience with. I breathe every day, all the time in fact and it has never EVER taken away any type of physical pain. Nope, I think you’re just blowing smoke up our backsides missy, but thanks for trying. 

Basically, the take home message for me was this: Ladies, this baby is coming out one way or the other. So put on your big girl panties and quit whining because there’s no turning back now. Gents, you’re pretty much useless after conception and when the big day arrives, you’ll only be allowed to respond to the tirade of abuse from your angel-turned-monster wife in one of two ways: “Yes, Ma’am” or preferably “Should I massage this side now honey?”

PS – The seminar was strongly recommended to us by my doctor. Clearly, we’ve made a great impression on her.

PPS – Next Saturday we’ll be attending a breastfeeding seminar. Surely, is there any part of this whole child rearing thing that doesn’t require the assistance of an expert with a PhD and 20 years of experience?

The Little Housewife That Could

Before I get on with this post, let me first acknowledge that my use of the word ‘little’ in the title above is extremely laughable because there is NOTHING little about me right now. 7 months pregnant or not, I feel (and most definitely look) like a beached whale. My belly seriously grows at the astonishing rate of about 20 inches per day. And every morning I look at it like, SERIOUSLY? My sweet little belly button which used to curve inwards ever so delicately is now just a flat, black rounded spot in the middle of my massive midsection. But I’m grateful for this belly because it has been mercifully shielding my ankles from view. All this time, I thought my ankles were doing fine until my beloved husband felt the need to point out to me a few nights ago that they are looking mighty swollen. So, with some difficulty, I lift my legs so I can see said ankles and yup, I officially have CANKLES people. Just great. Thanks boo. This is exactly the type of information I need to hear right now. AND THEN my boobs are just another story on their own. They need their own zip code. They have ballooned to obscene proportions and continue to do so with no end in sight. Let’s just say that if a boat I was on capsized, everyone could climb aboard my massive frame and I would make for a great life raft, complete with two outstanding floatation devices. 

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, on to the post…

It’s been a full two weeks since my lifestyle change and I can honestly say that I’m a much more productive (and happy) human being. I’m not a domestic goddess yet by any means but I’m not at the same level of crappiness that I once was. This is progress, people! The thing is, I’ve discovered that with housekeeping (as with most other things in life) moderation is key to success. Less is more, if you will. There is absolutely no reason to clean your house all day –nobody’s house needs to be that clean. An hour of cleaning on Monday, spot cleaning throughout the week and then a touch up on Friday and you’re good to go! With laundry, I’m probably the last person on planet earth to discover that waiting until you have a 6-foot-high heap of dirty clothes is not a great idea. As I belatedly learned, laundry becomes much less depressing when you have a small, manageable load. Who would have thunk?!Progress, I tell you! I’m still waiting for my craft supplies to fill up my afternoons but like that famous Little Engine That Could, I think I CAN do this housewife thing!

All this got me thinking that it’s funny how you can pray and hope for one thing (a job in my case) but get something totally different (housewifery), and STILL be happy (after a little attitude adjustment). So, maybe, the answer you get isn’t just plain “No” but instead it’s “No, BUT what I do give you will be more awesome if you could only just see it that way.”
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