Birth Story and Postpartum Shock

My son is almost 4 months old, and I am finally getting around to writing again. It’s not that I haven’t had time, because I have, however my free time has been spent cleaning the house, napping and watching the entirety of The Sopranos and Nurse Jackie. Hunker down, because this is a long post.

The first few weeks of my son’s life were some of the best and worst days of my life. The last time I said that I was referring to the days in college when I could do whatever I wanted (awesome!) which caused me to make poor choices and ruin my life for a short time (womp womp).

The first few weeks postpartum are seriously unfair. The phrase “nature’s cruel joke” kept rolling around in my head as I realized that I had to juggle “taking care of myself” aka needing to spend twenty minutes figuring out how to move my bowels again, and take care of postpartum stuff, and having approximately negative forty-five minutes to do so. The doctors/nurse attending me kept asking me how many times I’d eaten or gone pee within the last 8 hours, like I could keep track of something like that after 16 hours of labor, and then having to walk my sore little self down to the NICU to visit my son. I literally googled “how many times should I have gone pee by one day postpartum” so I could just give them the right answer.

It turns out my boy was and is completely fine (he aspirated a little fluid…the nurse during that shift was about twelve years old, and seemed like she wanted to do her job right by being extra cautious), but once you’re in the NICU, it’s hard to get out. Overall, my son’s birth story is really magical and I would not change a thing, except that I would have loved to bring my baby home with us on day two like everyone else I know.

My contractions started at 2am on Wednesday morning, April 20th. I had been having prodromal labor for the three weeks prior to that, so I half wondered again if this was it, or if I was just doomed to suffer through “false” labor which feels pretty damn close to real labor every single day until my doctors finally induced me at 42 weeks. After an hour had passed, my husband was waking up for work and I told him I thought this might be the real thing, finally. Normally, the contractions would peter out after about an hour, and they didn’t really feel like they got more painful. About twenty minutes after that, I figured they were real because they got about a million times worse. I was having to breathe through each contraction after about 2 hours, so I got in the shower to see if they would stop. After no sign of them slowing, I called my mom and told her I apologize in advance if this is a false alarm, but I think I’m in labor finally.

Fast forward to an hour after I called my mom, when I was laying on my side in bed, moaning loudly through each contraction, exhausted, because I hadn’t slept in almost three weeks. In fact, I’d even had a little breakdown the night before this all occurred, because my doctor had told me I was not going to make it to my due date (yay!) and here we were on the eve of said due date with no baby in hand.

But labor thankfully did come, and after about twenty minutes of Matt and I deciding whether or not he should try going into work, I hopped in the shower and ate some toast in preparation for going to the hospital. It took about an hour for my contractions to speed up to about 5 minutes apart, at which point I was laying on my side in bed, wondering how the hell women wait any longer to head to the hospital. I wasn’t sure how I was going to survive sitting in a car for the ten minutes it takes to get there. My contractions had double peaks (even though they said that wasn’t the case in the hospital – those monitors are completely worthless. I would be writhing in agony and my nurse would say “okay, contraction is over”. Yeah. Right.)

When we got to the hospital, the nurse told me “Congratulations! You are dilated to 4 centimeters!” at which point I began moaning hysterically. I had been at 4cm for three weeks already. The doctor on call suggested we take 2 hours to walk around the hospital campus to see if I could move things along a little, and I agreed. As much pain as I was in, I wanted to get things as far along as possible to avoid the dreaded intervention slide that tends to occur in hospital births.

When you see women in labor in the movies, they waddle around, breathing hard for a few seconds here and there, sometimes throwing things at their husbands. I knew real labor wasn’t going to be anything like the movies, but I did expect to be able to talk a little between contractions. Um, no. My contractions didn’t start out slow and get more painful. My contractions started out MORE painful, and then got so painful I thought there was no way I wasn’t getting brain damage from the pain. I for real thought I was damaging my brain by experiencing the pain of labor. And again, the double-peaks. I would waddle sloooowly in between each contraction, then feel another one coming on, and frantically look for the closest thing to lean on during the peak. Sometimes that was Matt, and sometimes I would yell at him to shut up or stop it, even though he was doing and saying nothing at all. At one point, I got a kind, sympathetic smile from a woman passing by, and I wanted to kick her in the head.

Those two hours flew by in what felt like twenty minutes. My mom showed up and proceeded to take pictures of me breathing, and I broke down and told her I was going to get the epidural. I was nervous about getting to the point where I was too exhausted to push – I hadn’t slept in days, and the physical pain of labor was completely exhausting. She told me it was okay, I cried, and then when I finally got that epidural, ten hours into labor, I laughed a lot and decided I didn’t regret it even a tiny bit. In fact, my body finally relaxed and my water broke about two minutes after it was in. About an hour after that, I was fully dilated and ready to push. AND THEN the epidural completely wore off on one side. I always figured if that happened, it would be like half the pain, right? NO. IT WAS SO MUCH WORSE. So they fix my epidural and completely FLOOD my spine with medication. It is then that the nurse tells me it is time to push, and I can literally not even feel my legs.

So poor baby W has to wait around in there during all my double contractions, while mommy waits HOURS for enough of the medication to wear off so that she can push. The nurse tried to get me into all these pushing positions, which failed miserably because I COULD NOT FEEL ANYTHING.

Finally, after about 4 hours, the new doctor on call barges in gallantly, pulls my butt down on the bed, orders my mom and husband to each grab a leg, and she urgently makes sure baby has room, which he does. It then took 45 minutes of pushing, several rounds of throwing up orange popsicle on my husband, and our perfect, stocky little eight-pounder was brought into the big, wonderful world.

Overall, parenthood is SO GREAT, but those first few weeks can really throw a person for a loop. I’m used to the sink or swim method of learning, but the curve is pretty damn steep for a first time parent, and there’s just so much at stake. Everything feels like life and death in those first few weeks postpartum. But honestly, that’s the exhaustion, stress, and mostly hormones talking. You will not mess up your baby (at least not that early on). You do not have to do everything yourself while you have no core strength to speak of, and no comfortable way of sitting down or standing up. All you have to do is get through it at first, and make sure you stare at your tiny wrinkled baby as much as possible, because pretty soon they will be grabbing toys and have super good head control, and we all know that’s like one step away from graduating high school.

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Mom Life

My WordPress has informed me that it was 7 months ago that I last published a post. What can I say? Life has been a little bit busy around here…

I’m getting ready to go back to work after FIVE MONTHS off, and it has really hit me like a ton of bricks. I have always been career-minded. I have always thought of myself and my future above anything else. The first week we brought our boy home, I thought “I WANT TO GO BACK TO WORK” where I knew how to do my job, and do it well.

Now, on the verge of heading back into the office, every part of me is kicking and screaming, fighting against the innate desire to hole up in my house and be here only for my baby. It’s caught me rather off-guard, and I don’t know how to cope.

Aside from the whiny parts, life has been wonderful. I kind of figured I would be the type of person who had a hard time with the infant stage. I figured lack of sleep, learning to breastfeed, having to constantly hold another tiny person – that it would all sort of drive me insane. But every day is my favorite. Every week I simultaneously mourn the last while being totally in love with the present, and feeling so excited for the next. I definitely have good days and not as good ones, and days where I feel like I Just. Want. It. To. End. But even those days are good days. I get to stare at this beautiful, perfect little person that my body so wisely created while I just sat on my ass and thought “I know everything, I’ve got this shit figured out”. When he showed up, I learned how wrong my brain was, and since then I’ve been going with the flow.

I didn’t know I would learn from my baby. I didn’t know he would teach me more about myself in the first few months of his life than I’ve learned since I myself was born. I am patient (who knew?!). I am loving. I have an unending place inside me where all this love comes from, and I never knew it existed. I appreciate EVERYTHING, I am grateful. I have this unforgiving protectiveness about me now, where I would do literally anything to keep my child safe and happy. I AM MOM. It’s so cheesy and I don’t even care.

Progress: Nursery and Pregnancy

Pregnancy Updates

Pregnancy wise, things are definitely moving along quicker than they did in trimester one. I have officially started trimester three, and I TOTALLY FEEL IT. I had about ten weeks of “I feel great! Super cute and round and bouncy!” and the DAY I hit 27 weeks, I felt puffy, round, cranky, tired, sore, tight, full and just generally super uncomfortable. Baby is growing really fast now, so those nights where I feel stretched to capacity in my belly are getting closer and closer together. Instead of feeling like a little round belly lady, I feel like a GIGANTIC WHALE who literally can’t walk as fast as everyone else, no matter how I try. My pelvis is definitely wider, and that combined with the weight on top of it makes me kind of waddle a little bit already. Like, belly out, head back, feet turned out to 45 degree angles, hands on back waddly. My back hurts so badly by the end of the work day that I want to slap everyone who cheerily asks me how I’m feeling.

I also am super hungry all the time, and all my intentions of eating six small, healthy meals a day are a distant memory. Costco cheese pizza is my spirit animal, and anyone who wants to say something about it can go eat a friggen poo pie.

Peeing has moved to a new level where I literally go pee, pull my pants up, wash my hands, and have to pee again. I usually go back to my desk or the couch and put it off for another 30 minutes, but baby needs to learn some bladder control because I can’t handle that much exercise right now.

Overall, I can’t really complain because all the discomforts are actually so much milder than I was expecting (even though putting up with them all at once is really super tiring). I have a healthy little black-belt ninja in there whom I am so thankful for, and I would honestly gain another 60 pounds and be pregnant another 6 months if it meant I would get to hold their healthy, wiggly, poopy little body in my arms at the end of it all.

Nursery Updates

One of the questions people start asking ASAP when you announce that you’re pregnant is whether or not you have the nursery finished. I’m pretty sure I am guilty of having asked this of my pregnant co-workers plenty of times before I ever got pregnant and really thought about it. It is a little silly though, unless you’re really, really eager I guess, to think that someone would be like “well honey, I am three months pregnant. Let’s buy everything we could possibly need for this baby and paint the room green!”. For me at least, I was still hugging the potty most every day for a good month beyond the end of the first trimester.

So, no, we are still not done with the bebe’s room, but progress has been made! No painting was needed since I picked a nice Navajo White for that room when we moved in. It’s a creamy white-yellowish color, which I probably would have picked for Bdub’s room anyway (smart, smart mommy!). Matt had to make the trim to go around the closet, windows and door, and we had to have the carpet steam cleaned since we like to adopt senile pets who pee on carpets when Gramma and Grampa come to pet-sit and don’t follow the directions I give them.

Grampa (aka Dad) is making our crib (yes, making it, like with his own two hands!), we bought a dresser/changing table this weekend, I found a super comfy glider on Craigslist a few weeks ago, and we HUNG A SHELF this weekend! Nothing’s really put together or in the right place yet, so hanging that shelf was like the first step to getting it all put together and cutesy.

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Kitty really wanted to eat the balls so this won’t be their final arrangement.

 

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Closet and door trim!
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Matt’s window trim

Also, we finally bought some new bathroom stuff so I can show off the after pictures in another post later this week!

 

Pregnancy Fears

I posted a few weeks back on the anxiety I’ve experienced on and off during this 10-month hormonal roller coaster, and to be sure those (mostly irrational) fears still apply on some days, but this post is more about my general fears about becoming a parent.

  • Childbirth

To be honest, it’s not the laboring/childbirth experience and pain that I am scared of so much, as the idea that the experience may not happen the way I want it to. I know that I’ll have pain and that it will probably be worse than any physical pain I’ve ever experienced before, but I don’t really feel any fear towards the experience of that pain. Nervousness, sure, but the pain won’t kill me and I know it’s pretty much over the second my child fully enters this world. I’m aiming for an unmedicated birth, but if I need to, I’ll get the epidural.

I am afraid that something will not go the way I want it to (i.e. we’ll need an emergency C-section, baby will suffer somehow, they’ll have to use suction, etc.). This is something I know I need to come to terms with, because it’s almost guaranteed something with not go according to plan. Obviously I am envisioning a complication free, smooth and positive birthing experience, but I need to also be able to accept that things happen not according to plan all the time, and still be happy with the experience. Right now I am reading Mindful Birthing: Training the Mind, Body, and Heart for Childbirth and Beyond by Nancy Bardacke, and am practicing a regular, mindfulness meditation every day in an attempt to basically just be happy and okay with whatever happens.

  • Anxiety/Depression

I worry about experiencing Postpartum Depression. With all the lack of sleep and learning and unknowns in the first few weeks of baby’s life, I get nervous about this, as someone who thrives on 9+ hours a night, plenty of quiet, introspective time, and routine. I am sure everything will be fine; I’m planning on planning nothing and having healthy, pre-made meals available in the fridge for brain/breastfeeding food, but this fear is still on my mind in thinking about the beginnings of parenthood.

  • Balance

How am I going to cope with NOT being able to just do nothing when I want to? To be able to decide I’m going to the gym/store/friend’s house on a whim and then just go? I am aware that this will obviously be a transition for everybody (Bdub can’t just pee into surrounding amniotic fluid anymore without discomfort, or hear the comforting whooshing of mommy’s blood and heartbeat!) but what the heck am I going to do on so much less sleep and without the much-valued ME TIME I carve out every day?

  • My Marriage

I am not so much afraid of the changes a child will bring to our relationship with each other, but of the way it’ll affect us when challenges arise. Matt and I are super different people who complement each others’ personalities for the most part, but will we be able to communicate healthily when it comes to disagreements about how to raise our baby? Right now we just live our lives the way we want to, and everything pretty much falls into place – that is, his lifestyle is compatible to mine, or we are okay with each others’ differences. But when it is our child’s upbringing we disagree on, I want to make sure I’m not taking the typical bossy stance and frustrating him endlessly in the process.

Obviously things are going to change for better and for worse, and I know we’ll navigate each challenge as it comes up, but I can’t help worrying anyway! What can I say? I’m an over-thinker by nature 🙂

Can you relate?

Bathroom Remodeling: Part 1

I am finally getting around to posting this!

Waayy back in July, Matt and I asked my Dad to come down and help us remodel our single, tiny bathroom in our side of the house so that I could feel like we were getting something done with the place. Actually it was more like I was bitching about the heat and the house to my dad over the phone and he said to pick a week where he could come, and just have all the demo done before he got there.

So demo we did, and let me tell you, it is not as fun knocking down walls as you might think. On the DIY network they make it look so carefree and cathartic – people smash into those walls with such gusto as if to say “look at me, I am knocking down a wall in my home and these twin brothers are going to pretty much do the rest of the work for me and I won’t have any problems paying for any of this renovation”! Well for the first swing or two it’s amazing! And then you realize that you’ve just hit a stud and then you panic with every swing, worried your hammer is going to pound right through to the next wall over which is the main wall in your unborn child’s room.

Anyway, here are some before pictures of our 50 year old bathroom. We started to kind of take stuff apart before I remembered to take these, but just imagine a perma-foggy mirror over the sink, a flickering light fixure from 1956, and a super jenky, falling apart cabinet in the blue square over the toilet:

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We ended up deciding to re-drywall the entire place since new drywall wouldn’t cost that much, and there were so many terrible patch jobs that it would just be easier to start fresh.

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And then Dad swooped in and saved the day with some fresh AF drywall. I really don’t know what happened to my photography skills as I was taking these photos, I’m normally pretty okay at taking them like, upright and not totally crooked.

 

So that’s it for now. I am going out to buy a new shower curtain and some towels this week, so I can post some decent after pictures for you all. Eventually we’ll need another cabinet over the toilet, but I haven’t found one that wasn’t either too expensive or too cheap-looking yet.

 

Reflecting

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Some years I am better than others at looking back through the prior twelve months and making observations. I created this space to do more of that, so here goes!

2015 feels like it started back in September 2014, when Matt and I were married. That felt like the most significant new beginning to me last year, so my year absolutely began on a high note. The man of my dreams was now permanently stuck with me no matter how bitchy or annoying I become (I do try not to take advantage), an opportunity opened up which allowed us to finally move into our first real home, debts were paid off, home improvements were begun, and all of a sudden, it was the end of another year. What a crazy fast year 2015 was!

So many changes occurred for the better, both physically and emotionally for me. My job had become a huge source of stress for a few months in the first half of the year, but I pushed through and made it to other side only slightly the worse for wear. Not that hard times ever feel awesome, but somehow going through six or so months of agonizing stress and depression which bled from working hours into my evenings and weekends landed me here, and I’m pretty grateful to be where I am now.

This past year, something changed in me and turned me into a parent; emotionally I mean. I told Matt that I could no longer fight the feeling that I needed to become a mother – a pretty big surprise for both of us since my whole life was pretty much centered around the idea that I would never want to start a family of my own. We obviously talked about it and thought about it a lot before forging ahead, but it felt like a little soul had already chosen us as its parents and there wasn’t anything we could do except move forward in this new adventure. Overall, I think this was our biggest growth spurt, and so many other emotional changes have come out of it.

I already worry about how quickly time is moving; just a few weeks ago, I was camping out in the bathroom half the day and not pregnant enough where we wanted to tell everyone our happy news. Now, we are just a quick three months away from meeting our child for the first time. I actually cried one night picturing my son or daughter graduating from high school and asked myself where the heck time had gone and how am I already forty-six years old?! And then I have to remind myself once again to remain present and just focus on how wonderful this time is right now.

Here’s to another year of adventure and growth in 2016!

 

Christmas and 23 Weeks Pregnant

As a kid, I remember waiting for Christmas for what seemed like forever, and then mourning its passing with such sadness the following day. All that hype and all those songs and commercials leading up to such a fun day, only to have it all pulled out from underneath my little feet by December 26th. Sure, we had all our new stuff to play with and fight over with siblings, but the magic of the Christmas season was over. What I wouldn’t give now to be able to experience that crazy excitement again!

I remember realizing that adulthood was nigh when I could no longer make myself get that worked up over Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, I very much look forward to this time of year still – I get excited over spending a cozy few days with my family, and watching them open their gifts that I picked for them in a panic approximately one week before Christmas. But the thought of Santa, cookies, presents, etc. just doesn’t make my adult self hysterically joyful the way it used to. I think they call it maturity, but it can be a small bummer sometimes.

Now that we’re expecting our first child though, I feel like I will be able to relive that excitement through my kids, and that certainly makes up for all the lame maturity I seem to have accumulated.

Now for a pregnancy update – did you know that simply believing that all those common pregnancy symptoms won’t affect you will not actually keep them from affecting you? I don’t know how I keep tricking myself into believing that I won’t get nauseous, cranky, swollen, sore, constipated, fat, etcetera. I have gotten all of those things, and each side effect I accumulate still surprises me.

The nausea subsided around week 17, and I finally felt that 2nd trimester greatness everyone kept telling me about. But now, only six weeks later and five whole weeks away from the 3rd trimester, I am starting to hurt in ways I didn’t know possible. The rib pain can be excruciating some nights, as my whatever pushes out on them relentlessly. The round ligament pain is more challenging than I thought it would be, and it is SO. HARD. TO. GET. OFF. THE. COUCH. Or bed. Or a chair. Or the floor. All of a sudden, I feel like the world’s clumsiest person ever, falling over as I treacherously attempt to stand on the couch to close the curtains, as I have done a hundred times before. I experienced a kidney stone for the first time in my life, and my back hurts so badly by the end of the day, but I can’t roll around on the floor with my foam roller or stretch the way I used to. Apparently I had some rose-colored glasses on when I thought about what my pregnant experience would be like.

I will say that feeling my baby move around inside my belly makes it all completely worth the pain and random irritation. Baby is moving almost all the time now, sometimes taking day or two long breaks to sleep and grow, I assume. Thumb-sucking and bladder jumping really takes it out of you! I like to lay down and “watch” him or her play, practice using their little limbs, and wonder what they are thinking about in there. I make promises to that baby, and tell him/her how loved they are going to be, how much fun we are going to have.

Overall, all the pain and stress really is worth it.