Tuesday, March 26, 2013

All grown up

Suddenly, and all at once, Charlotte is a kid.

 Her feet are closer to the footrest on the high chair.

 She walks through the grocery store holding Matt's hand.

 She helps me empty the vacuum cleaner.

She buys lottery tickets.

She walks from the car to the back door, climbs up the step, and waits for me to open it.

And me, I sit back, smiling and crying just a little.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Part two

Disclaimer: more birth story.

We left our heroine in the valet parking at the hospital...

Matt pulled up and I opened the car door, swung my legs out, and got steamrolled by a contraction. Fortunately, I had brought a plastic container, so I didn't have to vomit onto the driveway. Don't feel sorry for me, though, feel sorry for the poor valet guy who had to witness this! Finally, I made it out of the car and to the door of the hospital. There was a woman standing next to the door who looked at me and asked if I was alright. Honestly, did I look alright? Doubtful.

"In labor," I managed to pant out, and made it through the door before another contraction hit. We opted for the elevator, and I squatted down and held onto the railing while we rode up one floor. I think I may have been making the cow sounds at this point? We walked by the information desk and someone asked if I wanted a wheelchair. I said no (what?!) and walked another 50 feet before I had to stop again. The information lady followed us, asked Matt if I wanted a wheelchair, and he said yes. I don't believe I managed to tell him this, but I was so angry that he made me take a wheelchair. While we waited, I think I had about 765 more contractions. Finally, she came back with the wheelchair. I got in it, got wheeled about 10 feet down the hall, and slid out of it so I could squat in front and hang onto the arm rests. I did put the brake on, which impressed me to no end at that point.

In between contractions I was ok to talk, so we all had a good laugh over our practice run the day before. Once we got up to Labor and Delivery, we stopped at the check-in window. She took one look at me and said she'd take care of us once we were in the room. We got to the room and I went into the bathroom so  I could sit on the toilet. The check-in lady came in with her computer and I shouted out my answers to her from the toilet. At one point the nurse said I had to go to the bed so they could put the monitor on, and that was another thing that made me so angry. I really think I could have just had the baby on the toilet. It was so much better than the bed. Or the squat bar. Or anywhere.

(This part is my favorite)

They get me on the bed, monitor 'round my belly. Kiddo was doing fine. A resident comes in to check me and see how dilated I am. Picture me, ugly green hospital gown, looking a wreck, and this woman is in between my legs saying "Oh. Wow."

Not what I wanted to hear.

Evidently, I was fully dilated and ready to push. So much for the desired epidural. I think I asked her incessantly a few times if she was sure they couldn't just give it anyways. They made me push. It sucked. A lot. More than anything I've ever done before. And it just kept going. We tried a few different positions, including a squat bar, and they were all terrible. A nurse and my best guy Matt held my legs up because I was so tired.

At some point early on in all the pushing, they gave me an IV and a whole bunch of fluids. Someone asked me what the last thing I ate was. I admitted (the shame!) that it had been a big honking spoonful of Nutella around 9:30 the night before. Matt looked totally surprised - I didn't tell him that spoonfuls of Nutella had become a nightly tradition for me.

It was right after getting the IV that I realized - this birth was not going to be the birth I had sort of had in mind. I figured I'd play some music on the iPad, chat with the nurses in between contractions, smile beatifically when asked how I was doing. Fail. The only music I managed to have was the chorus of We Are Young by Fun. In my head. For three and a half hours. I present it to you here so you can understand.

I sang that song over and over and over. And that was pretty much the only thing I heard. Everyone in the room was silent, and for that, I am grateful. In this silent room, there were: a nurse, a nursing student, a resident (at times), a med student (at times), an OB (at times), and a husband. And they were all quiet. I'm not usually one for silence, but it was wonderful. It didn't help me focus on pushing, but it was soothing.

I'll spare you the details of pushing, but I will say this: that was hard. And I was awful at it. No joke - the OB repeatedly said "more like that" and I just didn't do it. What can I say? I don't like pain. When she came back into the room after 2 hours, the OB said "if she's not out in another hour, we'll probably have to do a C-section." At that point, I was pretty gung-ho about getting a C-section. When she came in after three hours, I was a little saddened to hear that Charlotte was too far down, and I'd have to just push her out. Finally, after three and a half hours of (admittedly half-hearted) pushing, my OB suggested a vacuum assist. You better believe I jumped on that chance. The casually-mentioned episiotomy made me briefly re-think it, but ultimately I happily accepted the assistance.

It was at that point that I felt pain like no other. I'm serious when I say that the INJECTION of a local anesthetic is quite possibly the most gut-wrenching sensation I've every experienced. But then, the numbness took over and it didn't hurt anymore. The slicing didn't hurt, and the actual birth of Charlotte was just beyond strange. It felt, for some reason, like giving birth to a starfish.

My glasses had long ago left my face, and the oxygen mask made it even more difficult for me to see, but I was able to watch the blurry form get whisked over to the cart so they could suck the meconium out. And then, oh, that lusty cry. My heart felt so full. They brought her over while I was being stitched up. She felt so small and wobbly and perfect and mine and oh, jeez, it's been 13 months and I'm still crying at the thought of that moment.

Somewhere I have a photo of the two of us, but I can't find it. This little portrait of her will have to do instead.

The end.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

One year.

Disclaimer: Birth story ahead.

Charlotte was born a year and almost a month ago. I've debated pretty much since that day about posting the story of her entrance into the world. Ultimately, I decided to go for it; that said, I won't be offended if you don't read it. 

Background information: throughout the entire pregnancy, I strove to be as 'natural' as I could. With the exception of things like, um, nutella and antihistamines, I was good about it. I wanted to have a 'natural' birth, too, I thought, but I wasn't fully committed to it because, really, I'm a wimp when it comes to pain. Give me an easy way out and I'll take it, every time.

So, my labor.
Sunday: I worry I have a slow leak of amniotic fluid.  Matt and I went for a walk in the park in the morning, to see if I can get labor started. Here is what I was thinking: I am huge. My feet and ankles are ridiculously swollen. Walking in the snow will get things moving. It did not work, and since at that point I'd been leaking for over 24 hours, I called the OB. The guy on call was less than helpful, but eventually I got him to tell me I should go in to get checked.

At this point, I had a pretty good idea I wasn't in labor, but I'd read too much and was worried about leaking amniotic fluid for so long. So, we put Gus in his kennel out back and head to the hospital. The hospital, like most hospitals, is not particularly easy to navigate, and despite previously taking a tour of the Labor and Delivery ward, we still manage to take a fun ride on the elevator as we search for the floor with L&D. Cue laughter. We finally find the floor, and check in. I was in high spirits, joking and laughing with the nurses and midwives, and was not at all surprised when we got sent home. As a reward for not freaking out, I made Matt take me to Pizza Hut (don't judge). We ate linner around 3, then went to walk around the mall. We went to the Christmas Tree Shop, the stress of which should have been enough to send me into labor right then and there. It was not, however, so we headed back home.

We watched something on TV, then I settled in to watch the Grammys. I made it all the way to 10pm before giving in and going to bed. Foolishly, I did not bring any water upstairs with me.

At around 12:30, I woke up with the most absurd need to poo. I mean, seriously. Time for a little TMI, folks, but I've been through amoebic dysentery. I know the signs of diarrhea. I headed to the bathroom, but strangely, didn't poo. So I went back to bed. Then I woke up in an hour and went through the same thing. Then only half an hour went in between these sessions.

I know. At this point, every single mother out there is shaking her head, saying, honey, that's labor! But I was still convinced it was the Pizza Hut.

Finally, at 3:30, I decide I'm not going to keep going back in to the marital bed. Feeling somewhat certain that perhaps these are contractions, I got a little more sleep in the guest bed. At 5:30, I woke Matt up to tell him I was in labor and that contrary to my earlier statements, I was not doing this without pain meds (HAHAHA). He felt it prudent to go back to sleep, so I labored in bed for a few more hours. I thought I remembered the childbirth educator telling us that sometimes showers can help back labor (HAHAHA), so I told M I was going to take a shower. While the water was warming up, I sent my mom this email:
Date: February 13, 2012 7:40:17 AM EST
Subject: Ive decided
That really, I am not that invested in a drug-free birth.
Yes, contractions started last night around midnight.
And honestly, now that ive had a few, I can tell that I will definitely choose to not be man enough.
And since I never really allowed myself to think about the actual labor, I am not disappointed! Yay for not setting high expectations, hahaha.
About to get in shower. Dont anticipate heading to hosp anytime soon, will probably just go to my 2:30 drs appt and let them tell me what to do.

Re-reading that makes me laugh SO HARD. I got in the shower and really, that was probably about as bad as I felt the entire time. I did manage to wash and condition my hair, though, and I may have even shaved my lower legs. I definitely shaved my pits. Why? I can't tell you. After performing my ablutions, I exited the shower and went immediately to the toilet, where suddenly stuff was coming out of what felt like every orifice in my body.  Seriously, it felt like the worst case of gastroenteritis everrrrrrrrrr. In a stroke of genius, I started using the contraction timer app on my phone (yes, there's an app for that).

Somehow, I managed to get dressed and went downstairs. I continued to puke into various trash cans. At one point, I was squatting on the floor by the wood stove, hugging the bathroom trash can (which  I was carrying through the house), while Gus sat in front of me, worried and trying to lick my face. Matt showered and shaved his head, and asked me when I wanted to go to the hospital.

And here is where it all went wrong.

In childbirth class, they tell you: wait until you are having 5-1-1 contractions: 5 minutes apart, lasting for one minute, for the duration of an hour. They don't want you to get there and then get sent home.

So, I tell Matt: well, my contractions are definitely close together, and they're lasting at least a minute, but it hasn't been an hour. So take your time, take the dog up to the kennel, whatever. I called the doctor's office while he was transporting Gus, and told the nurse what the dilly was. And I swear, she said "why aren't you at the hospital?" She was chastising me! The nerve! I wanted to say to her "you people told me not to call 'til I was at that stupid $(*@^# 5-1-1 point, is why!" But I was raised better than that. And also I had a contraction and basically just hung up on her.

Matt packed the car (oh my god, why hadn't we packed it before?!) and I gingerly made my way out there. It was around 10:30 by now, and I'd been vomiting for 3 hours. Matt had repeatedly made me try to drink something, but nothing was staying down. The car ride was less awful than I thought it would be. I sat in the passenger seat with my eyes closed most of the way, making those lowing/mooing sounds I swore I'd never make. Finally, we pull up to the valet parking area at the hospital...

Monday, March 4, 2013

Evolution of a nap

A 2-hour delay at daycare and a mid-afternoon pediatrician appointment on the same day meant that logistically, it was easier to bring Charlotte to work with me. Unfortunately, she refused to take a morning nap. I thought she'd refuse to take an afternoon nap, too, so twenty minutes before we were to leave I sat her in my lap at my desk and gave her a calculator to play with.
To recap: she calculates, falls asleep, falls over, collapses onto herself, I lay her on the floor on top of a blanket, she says "forget that" and rolls over onto the nasty office carpet.

And that is the evolution of a nap.