Monday, January 25, 2010

Birth Story - Part 2

Where was I? Oh yes, rescued by the husband. Back in the house. Out of the basement. Wallowing in a state of heightened self pity and becoming more neurotic by the minute. 34 1/2 weeks pregnant, to be exact-ish. It was November 5th, my due date was Dec 16th. I'm not great at math, but it was not time to be a mommy yet, even though according to a lot of people who I am still not speaking to I was:

"Huge as a house!"

"Ready to POP!"

"Having triplets!"

"Looking very big!"

Now, I'm a very passive aggressive person, and will NEVER tell you to your face when I am annoyed, irritated, and thinking homicidal thoughts. But something about the combination of my third trimester and people cheerfully telling me I was fat inspired, shall we say, a certain directness in my demeanor.

"That is really rude. I cannot believe you just said that. What is wrong with you? Who raised you? You just totally pissed me off. What the he#@?"

From the offender(s) would come an awkward smile, "Oh, I just meant, umm, that you looked overdue, and like you had more than one baby inside of you. I didn't mean to upset you. Are you 11 months pregnant now? That must make you grumpy."

I'm not going to waste all your time by going into detail on what would come next. Let's just say the wilderness surrounding my home is a blessing.

Back to the pending birth of my little angel poo. A few days had passed since the election / urgent care / basement situation. A few contractions had come and gone. I was starting to feel silly for all the fuss I'd made. It was clearly a false alarm. We sort of got back to normal, which meant ordering pizza and watching late night TV. Diapers and breast pump purchases could wait, this baby still had a lot of cooking to do.

Before bed, I proceeded with my nightly ritual of checking for stretch marks. So far, none. Hah! Like a good pregnant lady, I'd been reading lots of baby books to prepare for impending motherhood googling "stretch mark images" for months now and then printing pictures to show anyone who came within a 7 foot radius. Brent was my main target. Nightly, I would turn the lab top in his direction before he could turn his head away,

Me: "Sweetie. Sweetie. Look at her stomach. Ichh! Yuck! Are you looking? What if my stomach looks like that? What will you think??!"

Brent: "Umm, yeah, I don't really want to look at that."

Not Mine

I felt sorry for those poor pregnant women who put pictures of their forever ruined stomachs up on Google for the whole world to see and judge. I had made it this far with not one hint of a stretch mark, so you can imagine my surprise when I saw facing me in the mirror that night what had not been there even hours earlier: an intricate spider web of angry red claw marks making their way up from my belly button, ready to reach out and pluck my eyeballs from my head. AAAAAAAAAAGHHHHHHH. Oh dear God. They had come for me. I was not be one of the lucky ones. The mark had come upon me.

They'll fade, I whispered into the dark as I lay in bed, rocking my tummy to sleep, comforting myself with the thought that it was all for the little one. He was beyond worth it. These would be my battle scars. A badge of honor. Oh glorious and stoic mother I would be, sacrificing and selfless.....zzzz.........

I awoke every three minutes around the clock to pee. Only one thimble full each trip. As everyone knows, The Law requires pregnant women to pee on a three minute rotation, one thimble full at a time. You can check it out yourself, it's right there in THE LAW, section 472, article 39: Pregnant woman of 22 weeks and beyond shall pee no no less than once every three minutes and distribute no more than one thimble full upon each trip to the bathroom. Any violation is punishable by a minimum fine of One Thousand Dollars, 60 Days in Jail, or Immediate Pregnancy Following Birth of Present Child Residing in Womb. *Per Judge's discretion. (Article 40: No woman, prior to first pregnancy, shall be warned of this Law or Consequences thereof)

Despite this constant interruption, I fell asleep pretty hard and then shot straight up at the sensation of a water balloon popping inside of me. This is A MOMENT, I thought to myself. My baby is coming. I ran to the bathroom. I stared at my stretch marks. I stared at the accumulating puddle on the floor. Was I in a sitcom? I ran back. I woke up Brent.

"I think my water just broke."

Brent pulled the pillow over his head, "You probably just peed your pants."

"Excuse me?"

"Remember, that story you told me about your friend's sister who peed her pants but thought her water broke and then she called the ambulance and went to the hospital and they sent her home because really she just lost bladder control?" He mumbled all this, sighed heavily, and then immediately got up to change the sheets.

I sat in the living room, pondered this, and then called Urgent Care. And because I'm good at multi-tasking, I continued to fill 20,000 thimbles with amniotic fluid / pee.

Me: "Umm, hi, I think my bladder, I mean water, just broke. What should I do?"

Nice, validating, understanding Nurse who believed me: "You should come to the Hospital right now."

Me: "Okay, I'll do that. If it turns out that my water hasn't broken and I just peed my pants, will you explain to my husband that YOU TOLD ME to come down?"

World's Best Nurse: "Yes."


I acknowledge it's pretentious to have more than two parts to a birth story, but the silver lining is this: The next installment will make you so irritated with my approach to childbirth that you will have completely forgotten it took 3 blog postings to get you there.


Also, I wrote this entire story and then got so overly obsessed with clicking on the Not Mine link that I accidentally erased the entire thing and had to start from scratch. I wrote the first things that came to mind so that I would have some kind of outline to jog my memory:

poor pregnant women

multi tasking

thimble full

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Jackson's Birth Story - Part 1

My own little family. November 9, 2008.

In the last post I mentioned telling his birth story when Jackson reaches five. If I was on top of it, I would have written it a few weeks after he was born, or on his first birthday. But today he is 14 months. And that seems like as good as time as any. Especially for an old fashioned procrastinator like me.

Jackson was due December 16th, a day before my own birthday. He had other plans.

It was Election night, Nov 4th 2008, and I was wandering around the Portland Convention Center, the results had just come in, and everyone was celebrating. My husband was in Florida for work, and though I was among co-workers and friends, I felt very pregnant and very alone. I was passing person after person with champagne glasses. I kept rubbing my stomach as a reminder that I had company. My Pepto Bismol colored "Another Mama For Obama" t-shirt was very tight across my belly.

I felt like a whale. I was tired from canvassing, er, waddling all day and I just wanted to be curled up on my couch, watching CNN, and drinking diet pepsi.

I could hardly think about heading home to get comfy, though, because all of a sudden I realized I was having a contraction. And another one. And another one. Every few minutes. Okay, party over, I decided to cut the evening short and head home. I made my way through the crowds of cheering people (who were not cheering for me, obviously) and walked in the dark a few blocks to my car. Everyone was in the streets now, cars were honking, arms were hanging out of windows, waving to each other in excitment. It was a surreal evening.

For those of you with a different political persuasion, don't worry, we're done with that part. Just wanted to set the background scene, because the energy of that night combined with the realization that I may be going into labor was a lot for me to absorb. And I thought it would be pretty cool if my kid made an entrance on such a momentous day. But it was not to be.

I was scared, and my husband was all the way across the country. My Doctor had warned me I was high risk for pre term labor because my appendix had been removed at 20 weeks. I wasn't due for another six weeks. I got home, convinced I was just having some early contractions, like lots of women do without going into labor. But when I went to the bathroom, I was startled to see I had lost my "mommy plug" (Sorry folks, this is a birth story, and you are lucky to be getting even that euphemism) and I was bleeding. I'm thinking, okay, holy crap, this baby is coming. Tonight. With my husband in another state, with twenty eight states between us, or however many there are between Oregon and Florida.

I drove to Urgent Care, feeling sorry for myself, and lamenting on the drab, unfinished state of the Nursery. There was no changing table, no diapers, no nothing! I was already messing up my child's life, and he wasn't even here yet. The room was four walls of wood paneling, hmm?

The nurse told me my contractions were real and coming 7 minutes apart. But I was not dilated and definetely not in labor. But it could start as early as the next day, or not for another 6 weeks. You just never know, she said. I left the hospital with more questions than answers.

Hormonal, crying wreck that I was, I called my husband to tell him the whole story, mommy plug loss and all. I told him to fly back right away because I would probably deliver tomorrow and the nursery wasn't ready and I wasn't ready and the baby wasn't ready and I had a lot of work to do this month, so this was not a good time. He was, shall we say, taking this news in stride, "I'm sure it's fine, you're not going to give birth tomorrow, it's just a false alarm." I think he was trying to calm me, but these statements made me completely LOSE IT and throwing away all logic and good sense, I became weirdly determined to have this baby indeed tomorrow. That will show him! (Did I mention I was hormonal and not thinking straight?)

I called my sister, who immediately got on board with Plan Freak Out and drove down first thing to help me construct baby furniture and prepare the nursery.

Before she arrived, I headed to Babies R Us to buy a crib and changing table. I already had one crib, but decided it was ugly and horrific and not good enough for my baby. So, this did not bode well for the very nice and helpful sales girl when she told me they did not have the changing table and crib I wanted in the SAME COLOR. "When are you due?", she asked. "Because maybe we can order one in the color you want." Choking back tears, I replied in a panicked voice, "I don't know, I don't know when I'm due. The baby may be coming right now! I really need this crib set today." She was a bit, uh, thrown back by my watery eyes and shaky voice. The Nesting Instinct had me in a choke hold and was not about to let go. I chose the medium-colored-wood changing table, settled for my crib at home, and moved on.

Because it seemed like the smart thing to do, I carried the 40 lb box myself across the parking lot and loaded it into my car. Carrying heavy furniture while trying to avoid pre-term labor. Check.

When I got home, my sister was pulling up, having driven straight from Washington. She started to assemble baby furniture on the spot. For some reason, this made me do three things:

1) Cry a lot, and thank her profusely for helping me.
2) Accuse her of doing it wrong and launch into a tirade about how I hoped she was prepared to take ALL RESPONSIBILITY for there being no place for my newborn child to be changed
3) Frantically apologize and beg forgiveness, and then start that cycle all over again.

I think I did this four times in a row, if I remember correctly.

At some point, I headed to the basement to do laundry. As I headed back up to the house, I saw my sister step outside onto the back porch with some recycling. Now, my basement can only be accessed by exiting the house, and going around to a door that leads to the basement. As her fingers turned the door knob shut, we were locked out. In the rain. At 9pm. With nothing but laundry and recycling. No cell phone. No keys to the car. We raced to each window, each door, trying to press, cajole, bang, break our way in. We finally sat on the front porch. My husband would be home in three hours, flying in from Florida. We would have to wait for him.

Wait a minute! We weren't locked out of the basement, and that at least was a roof over our heads, even if it was freezing and looked like the kind of place people are murdered and left to rot. We would make do! We sat on overturned boxes and huddled by the dryer for heat. We pulled warm towels out of it and draped them over our wet selves for warmth. My contractions had started again, and pretty painful. I needed to distract myself from worrying the baby would be born on this cold, cement floor. I remembered there was an old 13 inch TV somewhere among the items we never unpacked, and a box of VHS videos. We pulled out a dusty 'Royal Tenenbaums' and pressed play. Woo hoo! This had gone from nightmare to cozy girls night. A couple hours later, we heard stomping above us. Brent was home. Thank God! We ran up and banged on the door. I was never so happy to be in my home as that night.

Part 2 is coming. I promise. Not like that 'to be continued' situation on the Party Store post. (We all knew how that was going to end anyway).

Me and Jackson: 3 weeks old. (photo by the amazing Andy Utz)

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Years Day 2010 *This Blog Posting Makes No Sense

With two weeks off work for the Holidays, an inch of snow, and a head cold that has consumed fourteen rolls of toilet paper tissue I am finding a lot of time to blog. Yes the snow has melted and I have child raising to keep me busy, but nap time yields an hour or so to kill. And deep thoughts + an aversion to housework = time to watch the Joy Behar show and reflect on life in 2010.

Well, so glad I did turn the channel to the HLN network because DOLLY PARTON was on!!!!!! Happy New Year to me! Now I am watching A Few Good Men which is kind of a buzz kill but I think we are going to pack it up and have a play date in a few minutes anyway. Before I go, here are a few choice quotes from Jack Nicholson, "We're in the business of saving lives, something something something..." Well, I can't type that fast so I kind of missed the end of the quote. Now Demi Moore is confronting Tom Cruise while he plays baseball - something about him not being fit to handle the defense. "You went to Harvard Law and then joined the Navy. Probably because that's what your father wanted you to do." This is a good movie! Lots of tension and driven dialogue.

Welcome to my holiday vacation. If you think this posting makes no sense it is because I have sneezed and coughed my brains out. I keep asking Brent if I should go to the hospital and he says, "No. You just have a cold." And I think, how can this be JUST a cold? But, maybe I think I am dying of a sniffly nose because I cannot stand being any level of discomfort. I don't like my feet to hurt. I don't like the temperature to be anything but slightly warm. My house is always a reliable 79 degrees, even if I have to take out a second mortgage on my first born son(!) to pay the $600 heat bill. I drive to the store even when it is a block away, because being outside even for a minute is such an unpleasant, slightly uncomfortable experience. I need to have the TV and computer on at the same time in case there is a commercial or slow internet connection and nothing is entertaining me for 30 seconds. I secretly wish I could de-claw my cats because there is the possibility that their claws could snag my arm. I lied to the nurses and got a second epidural like an hour after my first to ensure a pain free delivery. I. did. not. feel. any. pain. pushing. my. child. into. the. world. This is something I am DEEPLY proud of. Just thinking of natural childbirth makes me run into another room and scream. In fact, I didn't even want them to put Jack on my chest until he was cleaned off. (But I had enough sense to not articulate this and I did let them put his bloody, internal liquid-y covered body on mine. But I made an invisible OMGEWWYUCK face inside my head to get through it). Also they tried to make me put my hand on the top of his head as he was, you know, exiting AND they showed me the PLACENTA which I specifically did not want to see and can never remove that memory unless I get Alzheimer's which probably isn't worth it since that is a very scary and tragic disease I do not want. Probably filled with miles of discomfort. I'll just stoically avoid the image of the warm, fresh placenta dangling off the doctor's fingertips as she flayed it open like an accordion fan in front of our faces, cooing "It's the Tree Of Life." But, this is getting into the whole birth story post which I will not have the energy to write until he's five years old. After which reading you will all judge me a lot and say things like, how can she live on the West Coast? Is she really a Liberal? Poor Jackson.

I did make New Years Resolutions. They don't involve trying to improve my grammar, senseless rambling, or self involved speeches. They do involve being a NICER person. So, I'll let you know how that goes. Or maybe you will let me know.

If you want to see real images of a placenta you can go here or here.
But I wouldn't recommend it. I didn't take any pictures of mine. I didn't bury it in my backyard. I didn't eat it or make tea with it. I did, however, put it in my blog, so maybe that will provide a little nourishment, eh?