Sunday, August 30, 2009

Are You Having So Much Fun?

Another neighbor (as in not Frank the jerk) stopped me on the way home from a walk the other day to say, "Are you having so much fun with your baby??" She is around my age, thinking of having kids soon, and seems to be a really, really happy pleasant person. But I was on that walk with Miles because he had been screaming for an hour or so without rest, and continued to cry on my walk.

I said, "Well...we haven't reached the fun part yet." Her face fell. She seemed to think I was a mixture of a horrible person and a Debbie Downer. I told her how Miles keeps on making those noises and weird, contorted faces once we get inside. And all night. And then again all the next day. Her question really stuck with me for a long time. Still does. Am I having fun?

Every now and then, there will be an hour or so where I can think, "Yes! Awesome! This is so great!" But really, the majority of my time the past 45 days has been spent desperately trying to comfort a screaming, upset baby OR super, super tense with anxiety that his calm will be short lived and he will explode into unrest again.

My son cries. A lot. You could say he has colic. You could say he's a fussy baby. You could go the Dr. Sears route (like Corey and I prefer to do) and say he is a high needs baby. You could do what my dad does and say he is spoiled...or else that there is something desperately wrong with him. It all amounts to the same thing. Miles cries. And he doesn't sleep. And it's not fun to parent him right now.

Do I love the crap out of him? Sure. But do I also scream right back at him in desperation at 430 every morning? Do I use the F word at my infant child after numerous hours of incessant wailing? Do I sometimes hand him to Corey and just leave the house to stand on the porch and stare at my plants? Yes. Every single day.

Corey is currently downstairs fiercely rocking our son in the rocking chair with the radio blaring 91.7 (pure static) at full volume. Miles is tightly swaddled with a pacifer, stomach down like Dr. Karp suggests, jiggling away. With his eyes wide open. Because he doesn't sleep. At least he isn't crying right now. Fun?

Some people have babies who don't behave this way. Like there are people in the world who can put their children down on surfaces that aren't made of human or can, like, run errands or show their babies off at work or even take showers while home alone with their kids. I guess lots of people. Some people have really great ideas or advice on how to help these babies (gas drops are working a little, we nurse frequently, tuck up his legs...I have tried pretty much all the advice except the catnip tea. Oh. I won't give him whiskey, either). Some people come over and hold him for me for a bit and he goes right to sleep for them and I wonder if they think I'm exaggerating. Fun?

Our doctor told us this is not something to be concerned about and that he is confident it will pass. He told me I will look back on this time like a grain of sand in the hourglass of time (he talks that way...) and he is probably right. It will be like I remember junior high, when I had a bright green retainer and horrible glasses, greasy skin, basically a mullet, and my mom let me wear MR Ducks shirts to school with too-big pants. I look back on those times now, when I thought I would NEVER get breasts or have a friend or have someone fall in love with me, and it's like a grain of sand in the hourglass. But it's like a black, greasy grain of sand from an oil spill or sewage explosion with jellyfish stings clinging to it. In other words, I still recognize that time as agonizing.

I feel like Corey articulated our experience the best (he always is good at articulating the really important things). He says that parenthood so far has been the very highest of highs and the very lowest of terrible lows. With Miles, there is no middle ground. We are either on the brink of despair, crawling on the floor in prayer to some entity to soothe our unsoothable baby, clinging to one another in broken-hearted agony OR we are clutching our chests in ecstasy, sure that our hearts will swell too large to fit in there. Only the joyous, chest-clutching moments come really infrequently.

I have faith that things will improve and that I will come to view parenthood as a blissful blessing. For now, though, I will say only that I am exhausted. The space between my blood vessels is tired. And I will stop there, because my baby finally fell asleep and that means I can go stare at him with Corey, clutching our chests as we forget our exhaustion and marvel at our perfect child.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Thunder Vision returns

Frank, the old Italian man across the street, spends his days working on his landscaping or people watching on his porch. As such, this summer, every time I open my front door he yells across the street "Your baby cries a lot!"

For the first two weeks of his life, this gave me such a complex that I wouldn't take him anywhere public. Because you know the implication of his comment is that my baby cries, he can hear it, and I am somehow inadequate as a baby nurturer to stop said crying.

After that, I got a little more confident and more angry at Frank, but still either he or his wife had that ever helpful comment each time I opened the damn door.

Last night, Miles was in rare form. He hadn't napped all day and said, "Fuck yinz! I am NOT sleeping tonight. Instead...I will CRY!" So between 8pm and 730 this morning, the little turd slept a total of 4.5 hours. The rest of that time? Wailing.

Our evening was spent alternating between sixty minute nursing sessions and Corey marching up and down the stairs with Miles in the Bjorn. There were brief periods where Miles would sleep in the Bjorn on Corey's chest, but otherwise, it was wailing, agitated nursing, and me yelling right back at my infant child.

So this morning, when we went to leave for the Aviary (I hoped that the screeching birds would drown out my screeching kid), I had my Thunder Vision activated. You see, I opened the front door and Frank said, "Miles sure cried a lot last night."

In my fantasy, I told him, "Really? He must have gotten agitated when we set him in the back yard and went inside to snort coke."

In real life, I just looked at Frank. I relived the previous twelve hours, the tense muscles, the crying from all three of us, the poop smeared under my nails, the barf on my pajamas, my non-showered body and furry unbrushed teeth. I wondered what small part of Satan sneaked into Frank's skin and urged him to make this comment, a statement that no amount of garden beans or fresh figs can forgive. I blinked my baggy eyes at him, got in the car, and drove away as Miles howled down Route 28.

Eff you, Frank.

Monday, August 24, 2009


You know how when you start a new job, everyone runs around using abbreviations and acronyms like you're supposed to be in on the joke? Like "oh, just run it through the GTO" or "Well I put it on the Blue/Gold form." It takes forever to catch on and you find yourself thinking can't these assholes speak English?? I hate all of them!!!!

As it turns out, motherhood is filled with its own lingo. Only I never felt like there was a learning curve. I just seemed to instantly understand all the words on the first go around and, worse, I now throw these words around as if everyone in the universe is hip to be square. I find myself at stores referring to the Bjorn as if everyone should know what this is. Or latch. Or at rugby reunions talking about hooter hiders and nursing necklaces like these things are as common as beer and barbeque.

Which all makes me wonder: what is it exactly about this process that makes the learning curve so desperately steep and yet so dismally flat? How is it even possible to feel simultaneously in on the world's biggest secret and yet have no idea in the world how to be mediocre at this task?

While I ponder this question, I'll just keep on fluffing my boppy, concentrate on my let-down, and try to bypass fussy time. Because I knew (intimately) what all of those things were within about 8 seconds of signing my W4 for the job "mom."

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I went to CrossFit this evening! When the midwives told me I could return to working out, they said I could do whatever I was doing third trimester. Well, considering I was doing CrossFit 4x a week, that really wasn't too limiting. For the time being, CrossFit is holding sessions in the park by the river, so I knew it would be a lot of body weight stuff, too.

This is the torturous workout we did in the soupy humidity:
100m lunges
30 stair climbs
100m lunges
30 burpees (I modified these to just do planks, so no pushups yet)
100m lunges (by this point my knees were not bending too far...)
30 handstand pushups (I did 5 decline pushups with my feet on a bench, then collapsed to regular pushups on my knees)
100m lunges (barely made it. Did breathing a la labor, moaned and cursed the world)
30 kettlebell clean and jerk (only got through 5)

By the end of the workout, I really thought I would pass out. My milk had come in super hard, I was seeing black spots, and I felt really, really barfy. So I just sat on the ground and pitied myself for a few minutes.

Then I got up and drove my stick shift car with the sticky clutch all the way home and thought about it. My body has been through hell. I mean, five weeks ago my innards were on an operating table. I am going to go ahead and feel proud of my workout. And then, Monday, I am going to go back and do it again. And again. And one day, I won't remember that it was hard to finish a workout.

I will look just like Annie in the Fran video from YouTube. Seriously! It could happen. She has had babies, too.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Immediately after my surgery, I mean before I even vomited rainbow Jello on Corey, before they even untied my arms and stuff, a resident popped her head over the bedrail and asked me, "Now. What kind of birth control will you be using?"

You are stunned, right? Stunned that this was the first question asked of me after delivering my baby. I was expecting someone to ask if I was planning to breastfeed or maybe if I wanted chicken or fish for dinner. I sort of sputtered and asked her to repeat the question, certain I was hallucinating. She said it again. "What method of birth control will you be using?"

I told her Corey and I hadn't discussed it yet.

For the next four days, any time a medical professional came into my room, he or she asked me what form of birth control I would be using. You know, in case I felt an overwhelming urge to make whoopee after my catheter came out or they took the staples out of my stomach.

Again and again, people asked me this question. I eventually discovered they are uber concerned that women will get pregnant again too quickly and risk damaging their fragile insides. At any rate, I never answered them and they sent me home with prescriptions for condoms and spermicide and the morning after pill. Oh, and Vicodin. Because after all, I had just had surgery and might be thinking about relieving my pain before I got down with my husband.

Finally, at my 10-day postpartum check, I just told them an answer so people would stop asking me the damn question. I said we would use a diaphragm. It seemed logical at the time, they wrote it on my chart, and nobody asked me about sex again for like 5 weeks. Which was great.

Today, I had a marathon postpartum checkup in which I got such an extensive pelvic exam, the midwife had to change her gloves three times. Why such invasion? Evidently, when you write down that you want a diaphragm, you actually have to get FITTED for such a thing. Did you ever see one? Do you know what one is? Because it is huge. And rubbery. And really pretty gross. It looks like a prosthetic breast.

After they decided which one I should use, the midwives told me they would leave the room and I had to put it in myself. I didn't want to put that thing inside me! But I did. Upside down. So then I had to extract it from myself. I was running around that room naked, propping my feet up on things, trying everything possible to wedge that prosthetic breast in my damaged hoo-ha. It was terrible. Frustrating. Smelly. Very weird.

In the end, I have a prescription for my very own prostethic-breast-shaped contraceptive device. And nobody will ever again ask me what form of birth control I will be using. But if you did? I would hazard a guess that diaphragm will not be the likely answer.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Babies are Fickle...and Smart

One December, when I was traveling in Europe, I stayed in this truly dismal hostile in Munich. It was so cheap I couldn't believe it, but I shared bunk beds in massive co-ed dormitories. You had to pay for the showers and the water was unheated. The bathroom itself? Also unheated. It was December, snowing, and a Bavarian cold front was blowing through. I had gone into a store to buy pantyhose to wear under my jeans, it was so cold. So while I was there, it had been like a week since I showered and I just buckled one day and took the icy shower. Fast.

This morning, I showered faster than that.

This is significant because I got Miles to be asleep sans contact with human flesh, but I was worried he wouldn't stay that way and I showered uber quick in case he exploded again.

For the first two weeks, motherhood was a big haze of tiredness. And vicadin. And a rash, which I'll discuss sometime later. And steroids to treat the rash. Oh, and the whole recovering from surgery thing. Very hazy.

But then, week 3, I thought I could totally do the motherhood thing. It seemed so great. He napped in 3-hour chunks at the same time each day. Nursing was going super great. I managed to accompany Corey to the gym and Miles and I walked around the block while Corey worked out. Miles even met his rugby family! I was tired and it was demanding, but totally manageable. Much like the 18 hours of contractions I breathed through. Sucky, but really possible.

And then, BOOM! Miles decided he hated this world. He was unhappy. Even when he had a boob in his mouth, which he demanded at least every hour, sometimes more than that, he was distressed. He arched his spine. He snorted. He made his little arms super stiff. He stopped sleeping. He shit through 31 diapers in 1.5 days (I know because I had to wash them and I always count when I put them in the dryer). I don't think he slept for four days. And I wanted to die. I literally texted my aunt and asked her to come shoot me.

For the entire week 4 of Miles' life, we have been holding him. The only moments he has not been held were the car rides he took to prenatal yoga and to La Leche League, where he totally made me look like a fibber by sleeping the whole 2.5 hour meeting. I assure you, that was the only time the whole week he slept more than 20 minutes in a row. My little dude was exhausted, so tired he couldn't sleep.

Not even Dr. Karp was effective. But then, suddenly, yesterday he decided he was going to nap. Then he seemed to like that, so he did it again. In the sling and the Bjorn, mind you, but still. Sleep! At one point, I just lay down on the hardwood floor with him in the Bjorn and slept, too. For like 2 entire episodes of Family Fued.

Every time I think I have that little albatross figured out, he decides to show me I am not the boss of him. Fridays start new weeks for Miles, so this is day one of week 5. Jesus, five weeks! This week, he seems like he is going to sleep again. But what will he do instead during his awake time? What is going to happen???

While I wait to see what he will cook up, I am rejoicing in the fact that he has been in his swing asleep for 23 minutes. That's twenty-three minutes away from my chest, where my arms are not supporting his wiggling frame. I feel like dancing, and I think I might just do that while I can. Because by dancing, I mean sleep.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ways Motherhood is Like Rugby

1. There are endless, endless incidents of puke and rally
2. I end up changing my clothes several times each day because my shirts and pants get wet, brown, or stinky
3. My back hurts all the time
4. My hair is kind of disheveled and sticky-uppy at the end of the day
5. My thighs constantly burn from numerous squats, only I'm pacifying a tiny person with floppy hair instead of a sturdy man with floppy hair
6. I sing a lot of sea shanties all the time
7. I have a gear bag I have to carry around all the time
8. There are mouth pieces: "gumshields" for rugby and pacifiers for M-Dub
9. In both realms, there are persons very interested in my bosom
10. Someone else poops on MY pants and we are still friends afterward

Monday, August 10, 2009

Birth Story: The Ugly

When I prepared for my childbirth, I "knew" that labor was unpredictable, but I did as much work as I could to ensure that Corey and I were educated and well armed to avoid the one major thing that was a bottom-line, unacceptable birth choice for me: a C-section. It was my greatest fear. The very sort of birth I could not allow myself to have. The thought of having my body splayed open, my organs removed from my insides and placed on my chest, my baby extracted by a doctor I had never met...these thoughts horrified me.

The moment MW's heart rate dropped to 40 (infant heart rates average 120...they typically do emergency c-sections at 90), I knew somewhere inside that my greatest nightmares were about to be realized. Luckily, I guess, I was too drugged up at that point to sufficiently panic. In the span of an instant, a surgical team, a slew of residents, and a pediatric team were in my peaceful labor room. The dim lights and calming Snatam CD were erased by blinding white lights, by screaming, frantic residents who forgot to unplug one of my IVs before yanking my bed down the hall.

In the pandemonium to get Miles out of my womb, people forgot to inform Corey about what was happening. They sort of left him wandering around, wondering what would happen to his baby.

I remember the 24 minutes leading up to Miles' birth in small spurts. I remember when they lashed my arms to the table, crucifixion-style, and ran a blade up my chest to see where the spinal stopped numbing me--my stigmata.

I remember pleading with the room at large to not take my organs out of my body and the anesthesiologist having an awkward silence, not wanting to tell me it was already happening. Then I remember being handed a form, someone apologizing that I had to sign with my left hand. We all then discussed our left-handedness. At least four people in the room, none of whom revealed their names to me or ever addressed me by my name, were left handed. I remember hoping the OB was not one of them, returning to a memory I had where left handed surgeons needed to stay in med school an extra year to master the right-handed surgical equipment standard in all ORs.

At some point, I started pleading for Corey to be there and someone said, "Who's that???" in an angry voice, as if I were asking for my stylist or my yoga teacher or someone insignificant. They slammed an oxygen mask on my face, yanked a hair net angrily onto my head, and someone complained that I had pubic hair, which was in the way. The terror I felt bubbled deep from inside me, so intense that even the pounds of anesthesia couldn't numb it. The only body part where I had feeling was my hands, and they began to twitch uncontrollably, to express my fear. They ramped up my meds until I couldn't move or feel anything, and when Corey came to hold my hand, I was barely aware of it.

Someone asked me the name of my baby as I began to feel a great shoving, a pushing and yanking and pressure as they wrangled him out from my 5-inch incision. It was the first time I said his name. Miles. I remember it felt almost sinful to say it there, in that space. And then I heard him cry, but I wasn't allowed to see him. Corey caught a glimpse of him, but I was in agony, strapped down and violated and unable to even set eyes on the baby I carried for almost 42 weeks, for 289 days. I sobbed uncontrollably.

Because I couldn't see him, because I never saw him come out of my body, I felt a strange disassociation with him, as if he wasn't really the baby inside me. I started begging them to show me my placenta, needing to glimpse at the thing that nourished my screaming baby I couldn't see. But they threw it in the trash and wouldn't show it to me. They were busy counting sponges to make sure they didn't leave any inside of me. I saw the cart of gore, the rack of sponges mottled with my insides. But they threw away my afterbirth.

And then they brought Miles over to Corey, caked in shit from head to toe, silent and staring at us, and I couldn't hold him. I couldn't move my parts to even touch him. Corey had to place Miles near my lips so I could kiss him, had to get him near my hand so I could extend one numb finger to touch his cheek while they put my insides back inside me.

When it was all done, when I was closed again, they told me I would carry Miles back to the room. They had to wrap my numb arms around his body as they wheeled me down the hall. I have no memory of this, of holding him. I have an image, though. Not the picture of a woman rapturous from having delivered her baby, but a picture of a body ravaged and filled with drugs, and a baby about to fall off the gurney because his mother can't feel her arms:

For two straight weeks afterward, I spent hours each day crying, mourning the birth I couldn't have and weeping for the wound in my body, crying because I was so damaged I couldn't even sit up to change his diaper for 3 days. A lot of people told me I needed to be grateful that I had my healthy baby, to focus on him. But that's not what I needed to do. I needed to mourn. I needed to talk about what happened to me, the tragic loss of control and how it was particularly hard for me, queen anal extraordinaire, to handle. I needed to come to terms with the fact that I had not failed at birthing, that the circumstances of Miles' arrival didn't indicate a failure of my body so much as a cry from Miles for a different entry. I wept for what could not be and for the physical pain and debilitating results (for me) of what did.

I spent hours in the hospital each day rehashing the whole thing with my mom, with the midwives, filling in the gaps of what happened. Talking over and over again about vomiting rainbow Jello on Corey or wanting to remember how I began breastfeeding with my arms still numb. How I itched myself raw after reacting poorly to the Demerol. It wasn't until I found a website where other women discussed their traumatic births that I began to feel better, to feel validated in having these feelings.

My love for my son remains unchanged. But that is a completely separate thing from the birth I prepared for, for the natural childbirth I wanted to gift him but didn't/couldn't. From the rite of passage of womanhood I feel anguish over missing. I wanted to deliver him, to pass him from my body through my birth canal, to feel the agonizing splendor of birthing my baby.

Each day, I am a tiny bit more at peace with what happened. But I have a long way to go and I still have nightmares and wake up sweating, remembering the faceless voices talking about his heart rate. Miles is here with us now, and he is great (if screamy).

But I am a long shot from being healed, physically or mentally, and I need time to grieve and cope.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Born to Be Wild

I know Dooce just blogged about this, but as I'm experiencing the same thing I really felt compelled to share. Today, I decided I had to leave the house. Had to. Or I would literally die. That or stab Corey in the eyeball with a chopstick I was using to stir my tea.

I sat on the sofa nursing Miles for the twentieth time that day around 2 in the afternoon. I looked down at his snorty little face, covered in milk and chapped at the chin from such slobbery, frequent eating, and got angry at him. Yes. Angry at my baby. It happens. So I waited until he was done eating and handed him to his father.

"We're up to 7 copies of Goodnight Moon," I told Corey. I had receipts for a few of them and knew that Target would take back the others. I grabbed my purse and went to the strip mall. In the car without the baby seat!

That moment of leaving the house was so light, so freeing, so adult! I skipped to the car and I put down all the windows! Because there wasn't a little bean to be sensitive to the light or wind. And then I turned the radio to adult music (Bob...who plays everything). I know you think I had been listening to Wee Sing Silly Songs or similar. You would be wrong. My child doesn't like music or human sounds. He only responds to white noise, so we have all our radios tuned to 91.7 where we can blast static 24/7 to soothe his wailing.

So there I was, driving almost 5 miles above the speed limit, with the wind in my hair and adult music on the radio. And I went to Barnes and Noble to make a return! Then I browsed. And browsed some more. For nearly 26 minutes, I was away from my child before I felt compelled to call home. He was sleeping! With his eyes shut and no screaming coming out of his mouth!

I was so overjoyed I went to Giant Eagle and just bought random things. Like without a grocery list. I haven't shopped off the list in years. I mean, I'm super anal. I plan out the whole week's meals and only buy the ingredients for them, plus some snacks and soy milk for my lactarded husband. Today I just bought things. Fish sauce. Udon noodles. Two limes. Ground ginger. Who cared!

Then I went to the fruit stand and bought the big bushel of peaches. Not the dinky basket but the big bushel, the one that's technically too heavy for me to be lifting post-baby-delivery. Who cared! I was a woman on the loose.

By the time I got home, I had been gone 72 minutes. It felt marvelous. I walked in the door and slowly unloaded my purchases. I sat at the table and drank a glass of milk and, if not for the jiggly pooch of extra skin jutting out from my mid-section and the granny panties I have to wear these days, I could have ALMOST pretended I was my old self.

Only I'm not anymore and never will be again. Because as soon as I wiped away that last sip of skim goodness, I heard Miles start sobbing upstairs. And I didn't even have to think about it. I just stood up and cradled him in my arms and swayed side to side, ignoring the radio static, mothering him with renewed vigor. If, three weeks ago, you would have told me that a trip to a freaking strip mall on a Saturday would be the best thing to happen to me all week, I would have spit cherry pits in your face. Now, though, as I sit here in a shirt with baby barf stains, still in my granny panties and wearing a G-cup nursing bra, I can hardly believe the miracles that had to fall into place to allow those 72 minutes to happen. And I feel damn grateful.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

In Which I Discuss Cloth Diapers

I would like to say that I was completely driven by my inner hippie tree-hugger to go the cloth diaper route. While this is partially true, our decision to use cloth diapers on our baby was solidified with a 7-months pregnant trip to Big Lots (cheap stuff cheap). I picked up 700 diaper wipes for $5 and went to grab some diapers. Then I fell down on the floor and died when I saw the price. $20 for a 60-count baggie of the fancy Pampers for newborns, with the little notch cut out for the navel. That's thirty cents per diaper. We received a couple packages of those as gifts and let me tell you, he peed through them in about 2 days per package.

Diapers are freaking expensive. I know there are less expensive versions and my son won't always need like 15 diapers per day (he likes to poop, get his diaper changed, then immediately pee in the clean one). But we aren't made of money here. I'm a writer, after all.

So cloth diapers. I started doing copious research on them. I know this is shocking for some people, that I would heavily research something. But I found that I was interested in these diapers. Like they may not be as awful as older people make them sound. They might even be cute. I mean, the covers come with cow patterns or frogs even.

In March, I was in Phoenix visiting my sister, who had 1.5 children at that time and had decided to cloth diaper. We went to this really cool diaper store and I got to touch and hold and feel the various kinds of diapers. There are more than 3 kinds. Did you know that? Cloth diapers are not all the same. I decided I liked them. I practiced putting a few of them on a baby doll in the store and I was darn good at it.

So Corey and I started stocking up on cloth diapers. We bought a whole sampling of them, registered for some from Target, and started telling people about our decision. To which they universally responded, "That sounds like a lot of work" with a wrinkled up old man face or, "Will you be using a diaper service?" with the same wrinkled up old man face.

But I persevered beyond the old man faces, talked to friends who were successfully cloth diapering, and built my confidence. I just had to decide that of course we would do this. And now we are! Want to know what it's like?

Here is what a poopy diaper is like when you use disposables (as we did until MW passed his meconium and healed from his circumcision): you pull off the diaper, use it to mop poop off the baby's butt, then have to touch it with your hand while you throw it in a receptacle that, in July, begins to stink like...well a bin full of shit in the heat. You have to take the trash out every day or you will die. Then your trash smells like a bigger, darker bin full of shit in the heat with a lid.

Here is what a poop is like with the cloth diapers: You take off the diaper, use it to mop extra poop off the baby, and throw it in a pink bin we stole from the hospital. When MW is calm, we take our new kitchen tongs and plunge the diaper in the toilet. We use our new vegetable scrubber to break off the clingy poop. Then we put the quasi-clean diaper in a big bag dangling from the bathroom door knob. We have enough diapers for 3 days, so on the third day we haul the bag to the basement and shove it in the washer, dump in 1 Tbsp of detergent, and wash it all on hot with an extra rinse. We stick it in the dryer and that's it. Not really that much work.

If you keep in mind that we are NEVER running to the store to buy more diapers or worrying about how many diapers we have, plus the fact that we paid $250 for 3 months' worth of diapers (we'll get more when he's put on more weight...those will last us the next 3 years), I think we're coming out on top.

Plus, the cloth diapers are cute. We have a cow print one and some pretty blue ones. We have one with guitars on it! Plus plus the snappis we use to hold the diapers shut beneath the rubber pants double as swaddling fasteners so MW can't break free in the night. By this point, we know which kinds we like the best, too, so when he weighs more we can buy diapers we really love and, since he'll excrete fewer times per day, we'll do even less dunking and laundry.

Bottom line, I feel happy about my choice. Yes, it's work. But I'm doing laundry all the time now anyway and Miles gets to look super damn cute rocking his stylish dipes (as people in the know call them).

Still unconvinced? How about the fact that his little bipper reaches to the top of disposable diapers, so when he pees it goes up and over the diaper and all over everything else. In the cloth dipes, his big baby schlong just pees into the thick folds of cotton, contained by his diaper cover like urine should be.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Birth Story: The Bad

Around 8pm on Friday, after I had been in labor since 2am, something bad happened. I begged the midwife to examine me and tell me about my progress. She warned me that the labor would be the same whether I was 5cm or 9, but I had told her in advance that I like lots of facts and numbers. I like to mark progress. When she had last checked me 3 hours before, I was at 5cm and had convinced my brain I could certainly handle 5 more hours. A finite number. An end to the waves of contractions.

She checked me. I was still at 5cm. I lost my shit. The baby had not yet dropped, my water hadn't broken, but yet I had been experiencing final-stage-quality contractions since 6am. Plus, Miles sort of rolled over so he was sunny-side up (like his dad was upon delivery) and the weight of his 8lb body was pressing against my spine. Back labor.

Labor transitioned for me from totally manageable to excruciating. I couldn't breathe or see or move and there were very few breaks at all between contractions. The midwife felt I needed pitocin to make the contractions even stronger to get the baby into my pelvis. At this point, every limb of my body was shaking involuntarily, I was dying of hunger, and I was completely spent. I knew that I could not breathe my way through intensified contractions. I began begging for an epidural.

Somewhere along this point, the nursing staff remembered that Corey and I were donating our cord blood and that the triage nurse had forgotten to take 3 vials of my blood. Amidst all this chaos, they had to get someone in there and draw blood from me. The first nurse was a disaster. My wrists are still bruised from failed attempts. They got someone else, who was smart enough to stick me while one contraction began to fade, giving her a 40-second window to get her goods. This woman also managed to get an IV in my hand in the middle of a full blown contraction. I wish she had been working with the anesthesiologist, because that man could not stick a needle in painlessly to save his soul.

I can honestly say that the application of the epidural was one of the worst things that has ever happened to me. The anesthesiologist told me I would have to sit still while he inserted the needle. Sit still! Through contractions! At this point I couldn't even sit up let alone sit still. I managed by myself while he gave me the lidocaine injection, but then putting in the epidural itself was a completely different story.

I had been rocking on the bed, flailing all my parts just to get through it all and Corey had to hold one arm and leg while the midwife took the other half of me to hold me still. Then, on top of the sitting still, the anesthesiologist told me I had to slump. My whole life, I've been working on good posture. Ten years of rugby have taught me to always keep my spine straight and, in the midst of my most difficult trial, I had to hunch my back. Plus, I had an enormous baby inside my stomach that really got in the way of any sort of forward bending. As I considered the irony of this, three 90-second contractions hit me right in a row and I knew I would surely die.

Only I didn't die. I screamed and whistled and breathed and Corey squeezed and I got drugged up and fell back into a comatose-like fog while the midwife called her OB backup to examine me and break my water. At this point, I really stop being able to remember everything on my own. I know that almost immediately, I dilated to 7cm and Miles' head finally dropped. I saw the nurses opening the cupboards and drawers, which filled me with momentary joy because the Lamaze instructor told us that when they start opening the cupboards to reveal the medical equipment, you know you're close. It was 10pm. I remember that because I asked the midwife if she thought my baby would have a Friday birthday or a Saturday one.

Except then the OB came back and told the room at large that he didn't like the thick, black meconium (baby bowel movement) oozing out of me and he especially didn't like the baby's heart rate, which began a rapid decline.

At this point, I became afraid. The very fact that he was in my room at all meant I had deviated from normal. I know this because the midwives specialize in normal. Through my entire pregnancy, they reassured me of their expertise in normal and natural but also of their ability to recognize when something was not normal. At my last visit, I signed a wealth of consent forms authorizing them to exercise their judgement and bring in the medical team if there should be an emergency.

My last clear memory of my labor is of the midwife holding my hand and telling me she needed to insert the internal fetal heart rate monitor, the one they have to screw into the top of the baby's scalp. We had specifically discussed this as a last resort intervention, because I didn't want ANYTHING screwed into the top of my baby's scalp. That is when things became traumatically awful.