How Daniel Came: A Birth Story

I’ve discovered that, any possible writing skills aside, I’m incapable of writing birth stories with any sort of artistry. This is pretty straightforward and “this happened then this happened” and far too long, but that’s okay. I don’t know that anyone other than me is actually going to read this anyway; if you do read to the end, it means you were actually interested (either in my life, or in birth stories in general) so good on you. There are pictures down there. And maybe once I get the whole thing down on paper I’ll be able to go back and do a revised version some day.

Oh, and as you get toward the end, I’m just telling it like it was and not bothering to clean up (censor) the TMI details, so if you don’t want to read about the gory details of how babies enter this world, proceed with caution! 🙂

So, the last time I posted was 3 AM on January 28, and as you can see, it was a whole lot of “seriously, so done” whining. And I guess I really was so done, because little did I know that we were just over 12 hours from meeting Baby Daniel!

I went back to sleep after that post and woke up a few hours later. I decided that since I was clearly never having this kid, I might as well make some other plans for the day… so I put on a comfortable dress and made plans to meet up with Mom to go to a fabric store and get supplies for a tied fleece blanket. Ryan was off work (still sick) so I asked him if he’d mind driving me to Mom and Dad’s house. After a little while, we had both of us, Henry, and the hospital bag (just in case — I just basically kept it with me everywhere I went at this point) in the car and were headed across town.

At that point, I was once again having some irregular contractions. This was about the fourth day that I’d had late morning/lunchtime contractions for about an hour, that ended up being nothing, so I didn’t think much about it.

As we approached my parents’ house, Ryan pulled into the Burger King parking lot and said he wanted to get something to eat, and asked what I would like. Despite not having eaten breakfast, I found that I was really not at all hungry. I didn’t feel bad, I just didn’t feel hungry. I also noticed that my contractions were getting a little more painful and weren’t tapering off like they had on previous days, but I still didn’t dare believe that they were “real” because of all the previous false alarms.

When we got to our destination, I got out of the car and discovered that the contractions were painful enough that I wanted to wait a moment before walking into the house. Ryan got Henry inside, and I went inside and sat down in the big chair in the living room. When Mom said hi from the next room, I told her that I actually wasn’t sure that we were making it to the fabric store that day. Until I had said that — and I didn’t know I was going to say it until I’d said it — I hadn’t realized that I’d started to believe it was showtime.

My sister and I had both been in a hurry to be born, so she immediately felt like it was time to load back up and head to the hospital, but after Henry’s 23-hour exit I couldn’t get my head around that idea. I stayed in the chair and began timing the contractions, saying that I wanted to wait until they’d been close and strong for an hour before doing anything. While I was sitting there, my contractions were between 5-10 minutes apart, and while I could still think and talk through them, I didn’t want to walk or anything when they hit. Finally I decided that I might as well text my midwife Kristi and give her a heads up. I guess it was just “that time” because as I was texting her, she called me to check in and schedule the induction for the following day.

When I told her about my contractions, she advised that we get Henry situated and head on down to the hospital. She told me that they’d monitor me for 20 minutes and then check my cervix, and then call her to come over (her office is literally minutes, on foot, from the L&D floor). She assured me that, even if this wasn’t “it,” she wouldn’t send me home since we were at 41 weeks 6 days and planning to induce within 24 hours anyway.

Mom called Meredith (my sister) to come help with Henry so that she could meet us at the hospital, and Ryan and I drove downtown. He pulled into the valet parking at the maternity/emergency entrance, but I was between contractions and told him I could wait in the lobby while he parked. At some point I told him how happy I was that it was daylight — I had really hoped to avoid being admitted in the middle of the night, as I found the hospital really depressing and kind of scary when we’d arrived after midnight for Henry’s delivery. We were both still figuring on a long ordeal, so I told him to just park and come in, and not worry about the bag for now.

We went up to maternity triage and the nurse at the window asked what brought us there that day. In retrospect I’m sure she meant for me to give her some stats on my contractions, but her question just made my brain flatline. I remember looking at her with kind of a “well, duh” look on my face and answering, “I think I’m having a baby?” Then she asked how far along we were, and when I told her, she went and got a different nurse and had her take over — guess that was alarming? 🙂

They hooked me up to the monitor and left. It was clear that the maternity department was busy that day, and became more clear as 20 minutes came and went without them returning for the cervix check. As I lay there, my contractions became more painful and were steady at about 6 minutes apart. Finally, at over 40 minutes on the monitor — maybe an hour — Kristi called me to see if I hadn’t gone to the hospital, since she hadn’t heard from triage. I told her we were still waiting, and she said she’d just come over and do it herself. Moments later she arrived, checked the contractions, and then checked my dilation. I was at 6 cm. She then said that she’d like to sweep my membranes to make sure that labor didn’t stop again, and I told her that I was completely okay with whatever she felt was best. She warned me that it could be quite painful, but it really didn’t seem to be especially uncomfortable. Then she asked me to take a 20 minute walk and return to triage, just to make sure the contractions kept going, and to give them a chance to get us a delivery room set up.

Mom had arrived by then, so the three of us took a walk up to the 8th floor, looked inside the “baby zoo” (big window to the nursery), stood around watching the clock for a few minutes, and headed back. By the time we returned to triage, I definitely couldn’t walk through contractions — and they were about 2 minutes apart!

Entering triage, we saw my friend Lisa, who had been the school nurse at the high school I’d worked at, and Wendy, who had been our superheroic nurse for Henry’s birth! Ryan later said that when he saw Wendy standing there, even though she wasn’t going to be our nurse, he felt like everything was going to be okay. We paused to talk to them for a moment, and then went back into our monitoring room to wait while they finished prepping a room.

And we waited… and waited…

I didn’t want to lie down, so I was sitting on the edge of the bed holding onto Ryan’s hands for dear life as strong contractions hit every couple of minutes. After a while, realizing that no one had come to help us yet, Wendy came in and said she’d take care of us while she was waiting for her patient to be ready. She and another nurse did my blood draw to check my anemia levels — my blood was great! — and then Wendy reminded me of the stupidly simple but critically effective technique of relaxing my forehead muscles to ease my stomach/pelvic muscles during contractions. That immediately helped my pain levels, and she helped Ryan support me through the next several contractions. Still, we waited and waited. I began to think that they were going to end up delivering a baby right there in triage!

Finally they came and said the room was ready. They asked if I could walk to my room and I told them that it would be better to have a wheelchair because I’d have to stop every minute. They wheeled me down into our labor/delivery room at about 3:50 PM. Ryan helped me change from my dress and leggings into a hospital gown while the nurse started the jacuzzi. Then she asked about a birth plan, and we had to say that it was still in the car because we’d thought we would have more time! Instead we ended up giving her the immediately important bullet points: no pain medication, would be interested in trying nitrous, jacuzzi for pain management, no family in room except Ryan and Mom until it was all over. The only exercise/birthing ball that they had was enormous, so I tried to prop on it while the tub filled.

Then Ryan helped me into the jacuzzi and got the jets going — immediately felt much better, although the contractions still came strong and close together. I started off half on my knees resting forward, and that felt very good, but my legs started to fall asleep so I shifted and a couple of positions later ended up reclined in the tub much like you would be for a nice bubble bath — not an ideal labor position — except that I was bracing myself against the end of the tub with my legs and clinging onto the grip bar with one hand and Ryan with the other. I felt far too warm, so the nurse brought a big bowl of ice water and washcloths, and I kept a cold washcloth on the back of my neck and on my upper chest, and sometimes on my face, while drinking what may have been crazy amounts of ice water. At some point Ryan got a text that his dad was at the hospital, so I had him send him out to the car to get the bag — mostly because I wanted a rubber band to tie my hair back with! I remembered the forehead trick, and it helped a lot. Then Kristi showed Ryan how to pour water on my stomach in rhythm with the contractions, and even though that sounded silly it helped a lot, too.

After a while — because time really becomes very elastic under these circumstances — I was having a strong contraction and felt my water break. Almost immediately the pain level went from a 9 to about a 12, and I went from “holding on for dear life in grim silence” mode to “couldn’t keep from vocalizing if I’d wanted to” mode. Kristi came and checked the bath water for signs of problems in the amniotic fluid, but it was clear.

Then things really kicked into high gear. The contractions were so intense, and there was no break between them — they were literally back-to-back. Even though I’d mentioned the nitrous to the nurse and Kristi several times, there was literally no time for me to use it as you’re supposed to use it between contractions to help you relax. (Probably just as well since it never arrived in my room!)

At one point, Kristi and the nurse came in to the bathroom to check on me, and Kristi told the nurse that she thought I was pushing involuntarily. I hadn’t realized that was what was happening, but when she said so I instantly realized it was the case. With every contraction my stomach muscles (well, not really stomach muscles, but I’m not sure what else to call them) were convulsing and doing things without my intent or control over them. I could look down and see my belly trembling and rolling in the second part of every contraction.

(By the way, I have to pause here to say how different this part of labor was from Henry’s. I was so completely out of my head with Henry’s labor (password is HGB). In 2013, I’d had my contacts out, so was completely blind, and was in a total meditative state. I’d been transported and disconnected by exhaustion, hunger, and pain management. This time, I’d started out the process midday, with makeup on and contacts in, and a night’s sleep behind me. I still experienced periods during Daniel’s labor when I wasn’t entirely focused on reality, but I was totally aware of everything and could see what was taking place. What a difference!)

Baby’s heartrate had dipped during that contraction, so Kristi told me that I had to get out of the tub between contractions. I wanted to tell her at this point “There is no ‘between’ contractions” at this point, but the only thing I could say was “nooo,” so she and Ryan thought I was resisting leaving the tub. I wasn’t; I was ready to get out. I just couldn’t talk! She firmly told me that I was too getting out of the tub, and as soon as the current contraction faded she and Ryan grabbed me by both arms and hauled me upright. I got one leg over the side of the tub, had to wait through a contraction, and then got the other leg out before the next one peaked.

Then she told me that I was going to have my next contraction on the toilet. As soon as I could move, they helped me turn and sit on the toilet. Almost immediately another contraction hit, and it was a whole different beast. I honest-to-gosh thought I was defecating, only it was the world’s most horrifyingly painful poop — I had a distinct impression of being split in half up my body, complete with a visualization of a dark, bright-edged fissure cracking up from my groin to my shoulders. I believed that I was screaming, but Ryan later told me that I hadn’t been, so I guess I was just screaming in my head or something.

The nurse and Kristi told me that my next contraction was either going to be kneeling at the bed, or sitting on a birthing stool. I couldn’t answer, so Ryan said “bed” because it was the first thing they’d suggested. But as we left the bathroom, the birthing stool was closer, and that’s where I landed. They told Ryan to get behind me and support me in a slight recline, and then there was another moment of splitting in half, and then Kristi was grabbing my hand and helping me touch something that I realized must be the top of my baby’s head. Then another one of the horrible moments, followed by a sudden lessening of the pain, and then she had my hand again, and now I could feel that the entire head was out. Kristi told me “one more,” (as if I had any control over this process at this point — my body was in autopilot!) and then there was that amazing slithering twisting feeling and suddenly there was a crying baby in my arms. And just like that, the pain was gone and I felt amazing — wiped out and shaky like I’d just had a good workout, but still amazing.

There was a lot of blood — evidently upright births tend to be bloodier — and the $6 sports bra I’d worn was completely destroyed with it. Daniel was perfect. Kristi began to tell me something about the placenta, but then I had another practically inconsequential contraction and the damned thing just fell out of me. At that point they went ahead and clamped the cord, which was really no delay at all — this may be why Daniel ended up not having any jaundice, it turns out. Everything was happening on a tray right next to me as I still sat on the birthing stool, so I could see the umbilical cord and the blood they retained for testing, and I got to see the placenta as well.

Despite Daniel being 13 days “overdue,” my placenta was “beautiful”, there was no meconium in the ample amniotic fluid, and Daniel was perfectly healthy. On the flip side, my “probably 8 pounds at most” baby weighed 9 lb 6 oz, was 22 inches long, and had a head circumference of 15.75 centimeters — height and head size both in the 99.9th percentile!

I was helped to the bed and made comfortable, and Kristi examined me for tearing. She told me that I was pretty torn up down there, but that it was a multitude of minor abrasions with two slightly worse tears at front and back, and that if I were okay with it she would recommend not suturing. I was definitely on board with that, and was later glad we made that call as my recovery in that particular regard was much faster and less uncomfortable than it had been the first time around (which had included stitches).

If you recall back earlier in this far-too-long post, we entered our labor and delivery room at 3:50 PM, prepared for another lengthy ordeal. I quickly lost track of time after that, so I was pretty much flabbergasted to learn that Daniel had been born at 5:18 PM — less than ninety minutes afterward! While Henry’s 23-hour labor had been a true marathon, Daniel’s was a brutal sprint… and believe me, I recommend the latter!

It’s an awfully good thing that I had planned for a second unmedicated birth, as there simply was not any time to administer any pain medication. Ultimately, the only thing I ever had was some over-the-counter ibuprofen later that night. The worst side effects I experienced were unrelated to the actual birth; my hand remained sore and bruised for several days where they’d had to draw blood for the anemia check, and my cough worsened to a point where it was causing me pain “in my aggrieved region” and ramping up to bronchitis, so Kristi prescribed some codeine cough syrup that made me feel so stoned that I never took any but the first dose. I felt like my physical healing went more quickly than the first time around, although I did have some setbacks related to parenting a Junior Hulk toddler and have had to take it easier than I’d like to.

Maybe the hardest thing has been that Ryan had to use up half of his “paternity leave” on being sick before the actual birth, and my parents have been saddled with a house situation that had to be addressed right now, and that on top of the “second birth is no big deal” thing has kind of resulted in me being emotionally and literally on my own a lot. I think that’s slowed down my emotional recovery, although now by 3 weeks out I am beginning to feel more myself. It is kind of sucky, though! I haven’t had any coworkers/work friends contact me directly to ask how I’m doing, which is kind of depressing but not especially surprising, and my social life has deteriorated to the point that the only people who act like friends are the lovely ladies of my book club, half of whom have had or are about to have second or third babies at the same approximate time as I did! So they get it. Bringing a newborn home to a toddler, especially one as passionate as Henry, is h-a-r-d, and now that I’ve been both I think 2nd time moms may need more support than first-timers!

I am glad, though, that Daniel is my second baby. He is much clingier and needier, and I am able to relax and not worry about that in a way that I wouldn’t have been able to the first time around. It’s good to know that things are okay and that I don’t have to respond to the baby within the first two seconds that he cries — especially given that this is liable to be the exact same moment that the toddler is shrieking and the dog is demanding to go outside! Haha.

Channeling my inner “16 and pregnant” here, I guess — everyone says I look 15 in this picture, which is pretty great considering I’m 35!

Bright eyes ❤

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A little attempt to catch up… [part one]

I’m going to focus this post on Impending Baby and then do a second post on H, which will be password protected because lots of pictures and stuff. If you don’t remember my password for H posts, shoot me a text message or leave a comment, and I’ll hook you up.

This has not been a good year for me in terms of blogging. I used to have some creative energy and time to think about my own writing and record-keeping, but for some reason this year at work has never slowed down, not for one minute, and that on top of the whole pregnancy thing has really shoved DYHJ to the extreeeeeeeme back burner. But now it is almost 2016, and I am almost a mother of two, and I’m the only human awake in the house right now, and it is really just inexcusable of me not to at least make some effort to catch up.

SO first and foremost… last time I posted was early SEPTEMBER, and in that post you learned that H is going to have a little brother! As of this past Friday I am 37 weeks along, so we are well within that “any time now” window (although my midwife strongly believes that we’ll go all the way to 40+, same as with H). There are a lot of differences between a first and second pregnancy, it turns out, and most of them make me feel guilty — I haven’t had the luxury to really “commune” with this kiddo in the same way that I did with H, or to really think about him with my full mind and attention. That’s a lot due to having a 2-year-old in the house, and a lot due to being unusually hectic and harried at work, and somewhat to do with not having a long solitary commute this time around.

Anyway, it all really makes me hope that there’s not really anything to theories about psychic mother-fetus connections, and that Baby doesn’t realize he’s being shortchanged in the whole “mama’s attention” thing! Ten years from now when he stumbles on this blog and reads this, I hope he knows how ENORMOUSLY I love him and how excited and anxious I am to see him and hold him, preferably somewhere where he can’t squish my bladder.

Baby is strong and active. He squirms and gets hiccups, although mercifully less often than H, who drove me insane with his near-constant bouts. While H spent a fair amount of time trying to see if he could kick his way out of me via my sides/ribs, Baby assumed the head-down position fairly early on and has been less of a terror on my ribcage. The flip side to that is that he’s taken up more than his fair share of real estate that by rights belongs to my lungs and bladder, so I’ve been like the extremely asthmatic incontinent person for some time.

All in all this pregnancy has been a lot more difficult than H’s, although that said, I know I’m still WAAAAAY down there on the “easy pregnancy” end of the spectrum. My problems with nausea (which were always more of a “hair trigger barf reflex” issue than an actual nausea) persisted well into my third trimester, and the heartburn/indigestion train is on track for a 40-week run. I’ve been a lot more uncomfortable, experienced elevated food/skin sensitivities, and had more trouble with walking and getting up/down than the first time around.  And all through my second trimester I was so tired and weak and sick and just not myself… no appetite… well, it turns out I was pretty badly anemic. So I’ve been on OTC liquid iron supplements and a more iron-rich diet ever since it was diagnosed, and it has helped tremendously. I didn’t fully realize how bad off I was until I addressed it! My appetite returned, as did my personality and my general ability to deal with life… Just in time, of course, to have missed that golden “second trimester window” and to slide straight into “can’t move and have to pee all the time” era, but oh well. 🙂

People have been asking and asking and asking about Baby’s actual name. Somehow they don’t believe us when we tell them that H’s little brother will be named Gotham, Xerxes, Ozymandias, or any of the other great options we propose. (What do y’all think of Archimedes?) It’s funny but R and I haven’t really talked a whole ton about the name. Early on there was a name that I mentioned as being one that I really loved and somewhat regretted not using the first time around, and it has sort of stuck there in our minds and blocked other names from entering the conversation. I’m not ready to say yes, this is the name, definitely for sure, but we have been playing with middle names that go with it, and haven’t come up with anything we like better. My only real hangup about said name at this point is that it is not at all an uncommon name (I greatly prefer traditional names for boys, it turns out) and combined with our common last name, I’m terrified to Google it and see how many other people (and what kinds of people) would share it with our little Batbaby.

This last month of pregnancy has — well, it hasn’t crept up on me, but I am not ready for it. I feel ready for the delivery and for having my Baby, but I don’t feel ready to have a fourth person living in the house yet. I have one week left of Christmas vacation and am going to spend a considerable portion of it trying to rectify this situation…

Can’t wait to find out what Baby looks like! For a long time there I had this tendency to imagine H Part Two, but then I looked at baby pictures of myself and my little sister, and R and his little sister, and reminded myself that siblings don’t necessarily look very much alike at all. I know that genetic probability doesn’t exactly favor my chances of getting a little redhead, but it is still marginally possible. We can bank on blue eyes (there’s a small statistical possibility of green, but not a good bet) but will he be a dimple-templed little Brokawling like his big brother? Will he have the longer, more angular facial structure his Aunt B was born with? Will he be basically bald like H, or will he have a full head of hair? Will that hair be dark like his daddy’s, blonde like my dad’s (and H’s), or… could it be red like mine, and his Aunt M, and my mom and grammy? Will he be a snuggler? Another independent little cuss? Will he love music and trains and letters and numbers and Muppets like his big brother? Will he be a good eater? A good sleeper? Will he take his sweet time talking, or will he go full speed ahead to try to catch up? What will he weigh? Will he get the Baker eyebrows? The Hoffman eyes? And what will H think of all this anyway?

With any luck, I’ve got 3-4 weeks to wait before I find out. 🙂 I’ll try to do better about posting here in the meantime, or at least, I’ll come back to introduce him. 🙂

Little Boy Blue

So despite what 4-5 out of 9 stupid online quizzes had to say, Baker Baby #2 is apparently a little brother!

All the appropriate body parts accounted for, no visible abnormalities, healthy squirmy kiddo all the way around. Long legs that he likes to put over his head. 🙂

ultrasound

Both times, with Henry and now with “Gotham”, I’ve come away with a lot of different thoughts and feelings. One that struck me this time was that I wondered what our OB* thought of our reactions. Logically, I suppose he probably doesn’t care one way or another — I imagine people have a wide range of emotions in those moments. But I can’t help but wonder if we are reacting in a….. normal way? I have heard many stories of exaltation, tears, etc. — of big emotional reactions as the machine reveals whether the family in question will be welcoming a little boy or a little girl. And we don’t outwardly do that. I know we are feeling big emotions, but something about that environment and that moment brings out the quiet “huh!” in me. Like, “huh! that’s interesting”… I just find myself without anything to say to this guy who is basically a stranger as he prods my belly and tries to get me to decipher the between-the-legs shot for myself.

Oh, and so with Henry, it was so incredibly obvious exactly what flavor of child he was. The very first shot was right between the legs. And with “Gotham” the OB kept trying to get us say what the gender was, and we were both just like, “um, could you just say a pronoun now?” We couldn’t tell at all! So for the first day or two I think I was telling everyone “Well, according to the doctor, it’s a boy……” I never did really see it with my own eyes!

Anyway, so it turns out that “Gotham” is a boy. According to the doctor.

And I honestly thought that I had been telling people the truth when I said that I didn’t have a preference for a boy or a girl, so I was pretty surprised when I realized that that wasn’t actually the case. I had a little bit of a rough 24 hours there, and if you’ve ever had the dubious pleasure of experiencing pregnancy hormones you can just imagine what that might have looked like. The worst of it was feeling like absolute scum for feeling any sort of sadness over being pregnant with a beautiful, healthy baby of any gender — after all of the months and years of fearing I’d never have my babies, while knowing all of these people who haven’t yet, or won’t ever, have theirs.

And then I got over it and now I’m unambiguously happy and excited.

I mean, I felt a bit of a pang when I walked into the Old Navy baby section and saw clothes in the most seriously adorable pink buffalo plaid, because COME ON, pink buffalo plaid? Is there anything more amazing? Why isn’t this in my size?

pinksuit

But it’s okay, because they had the exact same adorable little suit in a blue buffalo plaid, and it came home with me.

blue buffalo plaid suit

This is Gotham’s second little warm thing for when he arrives in January. The first came from his Grandmommy, who knows exactly what a little Gotham needs:

gotham suit

I am wishing that I could find the “big brother” correspondent to this cute pair of navy-and-orange jammies:

little brother

We don’t need a ton of clothes for Gotham, since he has a very fashionable big brother, but Henry was tiny in fairly warm months and Gotham will be tiny in January/February — which is bitterly cold around here — so I’ll enjoy collecting a few little warm fuzzies for him. I do the vast majority of my baby/toddler shopping at consignment shops but couldn’t resist hitting a few Labor Day sales this weekend!

Sidenote: Now that the gender is known, people are very interested in what name(s) we might be considering. I would like to direct those folks to some of our previous thoughts. 🙂

* I am seeing a fantastic certified nurse midwife, but she shares a practice with an obstetrician who is very talented with the ultrasound machine, so he runs that aspect of things.

 

Pink or Blue, Part Two

gender-revealAlmost three years ago, I wrote a blog post about the silly futility of trying to predict the gender of a not-yet-born baby without the benefits of modern technology. We were getting close to time to find out whether we were having a blue or a pink, and I made a vague sort of guess that he (because it was a he, we’d find out later) was a boy because I couldn’t come up with any boy names that I loved. By that logic, we’re definitely cooking up a girl this time — I’m ready to name a boy but can’t settle on any girl names! Still, that’s hardly any way to figure it out, so tomorrow — hopefully — we’ll find out the new-fangled way.

In the meantime, though, I thought I’d go back to that 2012 blog post and try out some of the same gender predictors to see what they had to say this time around. Last time, I took 8 online gender prediction quizzes. Four said I was going to have a boy, and four said I was going to have a girl. How do we do this time around?

So as you can see… totally conclusive! Fifty/fifty, just like last time!

Obviously, I need a tiebreaker. Fortunately, the Me of three years ago planned for this occasion and wrote her very own gender prediction quiz based on highly unscientific nonsense (sample question: How many freckles are on your right hand?). I just took it and got the following result:

Your result: Girl!

You are going to have a child of the anatomically feminine persuasion.
Start stocking up on baseball bats, shotguns, and other devices to repel unwanted suitors.

There you have it, friends. Gotham is scientifically proven to be a girl. Or something.

1b65cc2c254090d25e40993698542346

I guess we’ll see what the fancy schmancy machine has to say about that in the near future.

Baker Addition FAQ

Wait… you’re pregnant?

So they tell me. I hope they’re right; I’d hate to think my current physique is entirely the result of ill-advised quantities of pizza. It’s possible, though.

When are you due?

According to Arbitrary Birth Calendar, we’re looking at January 15. Did you know that 40 weeks is merely the average length of gestation, not the “correct” length? Apparently a lot of OBs don’t know that, hence a ton of unnecessary inductions. Big Brother was a good eleven days past his ETA so I’m figuring “mid to late January” is a pretty good answer. [Read a bit about the 40-week myth here or many other places.]

How have you been feeling?

The first trimester was a little rough (in comparison to not-pregnant me, not in comparison to people who get well and truly miserably ill during pregnancy). I was exhausted and nauseated pretty much all day, although I could manage it fairly well with snacking. I actually had worse evening sickness than morning sickness. As with Henry, I didn’t actually vomit until the start of my second trimester. At almost exactly the second trimester mark, the nausea shut most of the way off and was replaced with my old maternity friend, Crushing Heartburn and Indigestion. My midwife suggested chewable papaya tablets and I was shocked to find that they actually work better than Tums. I feel stronger and healthier now, although when the exhaustion hits it really hits, and the stomach upset is often worse, although for shorter periods of time. And since I started the “waking up all night to use the bathroom” routine waaaay earlier this time around, there’s a little bit of sleep loss in there too — although after having a newborn, I’ll never complain about four hours of sleep at a stretch again!

Wait… in that answer, did you say “midwife”?

I did! The OB who I saw with Henry left the practice, and his erstwhile partner replaced him with an awesome Certified Nurse Midwife. So not only do I have the benefit of a care provider who better fits what I want in my pregnancy and delivery, but she’s got an in-house OB right there in case of complications. Best of both worlds! [If you watch this video, you can “meet” my midwife at about the 2 minute mark.]

So other than papaya tablets, any other weird cravings or aversions?

Let’s be clear: I don’t exactly like the papaya tablets. But they taste better than Tums.

The main thing I’ve been experiencing, food-wise, is trouble finding anything that tastes very good. As with Henry, I’m gravitating toward really flavorful (read “spicy”) food. Most recently, Sonic’s Cheddar Peppers have been a pretty reliable source of calories. (So good for my heartburn, too. Haha.)

I completely lost my taste for coffee, which is a tragedy, and I can’t stomach soda unless it’s a fountain drink on ice. Seltzer/soda water with lime (or other) juice has been an absolute lifesaver. I’ve enjoyed Dasani Sparkling, Schweppe’s flavored seltzers, and Canada Dry flavored seltzer, but the very best is plain soda water from a fountain drink dispenser with the juice of about five lime slices squeezed in.

What I really want to eat is Jimmy John’s. Boooo, listeria. That, and a really good margarita. Oh well. Worth it.

You called Henry “Kermie” until his name was official; what’s this one’s nickname?

Gotham.

gotham

So do you know it’s a boy?

As of right now, all we really know is that he or she might be an alien.

Yes, that's actually him/her. Bad enough before I rotated it and made it green, huh, Ryan? :)

Yes, that’s actually him/her. Bad enough before I rotated it and made it green, huh, Ryan? 🙂

How far apart will Henry and Gotham be?

Rarely more than fifty feet, I’d guess… oh, you mean age-wise? My bad. Henry will be a little more than three months shy of being 3 years old when Gotham makes his/her grand entrance.

Are you hoping for a girl this time?

Gotham would make an excellent name for a little girl, don’t you think?

Do you have any real names picked out yet?

I’m still pulling for a Xerxes or a Hurricane.

What’s the best thing about being pregnant?

Getting to wear stretchy pants and snugger shirts that show off my belly without feeling like I seriously need to go on a diet or something. I love the way I look when I am pregnant!

What’s the worst thing about being pregnant?

Unexpected sneezes. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, count yourself lucky.

How is the second pregnancy different than the first?

Lord have mercy on all pregnant women who have toddlers. I’ve been at home with Henry this summer while Ryan teaches summer school, and Henry is a very willful and high-energy kid, and that can be tough to wrangle when you’re exhausted, overheated, and nauseated. Some days I count it as a triumph if I actually put in my contacts, much less getting dressed!

The flip side of that is, I don’t have as much time, etc., to dwell on this pregnancy. When I was pregnant with Henry, there wasn’t a single second of the day that I wasn’t on some level thinking about the baby-to-be. I would talk to him (usually in my head, because gestating babies are telepathic, doncha know) all day. This time, every so often I remember that there’s a baby in there! Which means I had to have forgotten! I’m unendingly conscious of my own bodily changes and discomforts, but their root cause gets pushed to the background by all the Henryness. (Should that be Henriness? Possibly…)

Are you excited?

Sooooo excited.

Is Henry excited?

Henry is excited by Sesame Street characters, Thomas the Tank Engine, unsupervised cell phones, and peanut butter treats. He is, as far as I can grok, utterly oblivious to future threats arrivals.

What questions — serious or silly — didn’t get addressed? Ask them and I’ll add them!

 

 

Perfect Date

I’ve spent the past several days thinking that there was something going on today that I needed to remember — some reason that I should be keeping April 25 clear on my calendar. I’m kind of bad that way. Chronologically challenged. I can’t seem to keep a clear calendar in my head despite every best effort.

Try as I might, I couldn’t figure out what it was that was happening on April 25. Nothing for work. Not book club. Not performing in a concert. No one’s anniversary or birthday…

Oh.

Ha ha.

I guess I just got programmed, which is gonna happen, I reckon, after nine months of thinking about a date. I spent the entire 2012-13 school year with “April 25” blinking in big red letters in my head. Toward the very end, my doctor told me that April 24 was a more accurate date, but by then the damage had been done and April 25 was branded in my brain.

Not that I’m a big believer in due dates, especially now, but my little guy was allegedly due on April 25, 2013. Or maybe April 24. One way or the other, he blew past that date and percolated for over a week, finally making his appearance at the very tail end of May 4.

And you know, I have trouble remembering that date. When people ask me what his birthday is, like at a doctor’s office or whatever, my brain always stutters for a moment before I come up with the correct answer. I’m glad that he was born on a holiday, so to speak, because it helps anchor his birthdate in my mind. I guess I just spent so much time thinking his birthday would be April 25 that it’s hard to convince myself that he’s actually a May baby!

perfect date

The Difference a Year Makes

One year ago, all I knew for sure was that our most recent attempt to summon the stork (thank you, Piers Anthony, for enriching my collection of euphemisms at an early age) had been unsuccessful. As I geared up for another school year, my emotional strength was analogous to the physical strength of someone just completing physical therapy; our lost baby had been due July 4, 2012, and it hadn’t been the easiest of summers, but time and the power of writing therapy/talking therapy courtesy of the Boise State Writing Project summer institute had done a lot to glue me back together.

At the beginning of August, I knew that I hadn’t been pregnant a few weeks before.

But even though I hadn’t taken a test, by this time last year, I had a pretty strong feeling that the stork had finally checked its messages. And it wasn’t too much longer before my suspicions were gleefully, fearfully confirmed — fearful because I was so scared that we were in for another heartbreak.

Nine months of pregnancy lined up with nine months of teaching. There was a scare early on with some bleeding that cleared up. There was a point at which I really just didn’t know what to do with the idea that this little miracle inside me was going to be (duh duh DUH) a boy. There was exhaustion and terrible heartburn and the weirdest appetites. Some afternoons I’d have to pull over halfway home, not to throw up but to desperately scarf down potato chips or crackers or whatever else I could find in the car to stem the tide of stomach acid.

We were due April 25; I squirreled away my sick and personal days and began my maternity leave a few days early so that I could feel well-rested and ready. What a funny joke. By the time this baby — my baby — my son — arrived, it was four days into May, I was so exhausted I almost couldn’t remember how to use a toilet, and I felt just about as prepared as I had for weeks before. Not that I wasn’t ready — I was no more ready. I was so, so ready to be a Mama.

And now, I am the Mama of a beautiful, hilarious, so-sweet-it-gives-you-cavities three-month-old little boy. This kiddo wrinkles up his nose, snorts, and lunges like a hungry wolf puppy if he loses his grip on his dinner. He sleeps with his arms thrown over his head, just like his daddy, and his feet together and knees sprawled like a little froggy. He’s ticklish. He can sit up for a long time if he’s supported by a person or his Baby Snug, and when you put him on his tummy he holds his chest and head up practically forever, or until he remembers how to roll over onto his back, which is usually within thirty seconds. He has finally decided that it isn’t the Worst Thing Ever to be carried facing his carrier, which means he gives all kinds of great baby hugs. He tries constantly to fit his entire fist into his mouth, and currently likes the taste of his fingers or his little blanket-bear better than his pacifier. We had to remove the cushy newborn insert from his car seat, and now he fusses and squalls when we put him in it unless we can adequately distract him with funny faces and baby talk. He still loves having his diaper changed — Nakey Baby time, or Pants-Off Dance-Off — but has gotten a little nervous about his baths for some reason. He smiles and flirts at anyone who catches his eye and smiles at him. He babbles and hoots and has started to really delight in seeing how high he can crank the volume when he “talks” to his lambies or to us. Sometimes he sleeps for hours at a time. Sometimes he’s up every two hours on the dot whining for food. He lifts both legs at the hip as high as he can and then drops them, simultaneously, with a crib-shaking thud that helps him rotate a few inches at a time until he ends up 90 to 180 degrees from his original position on the mattress. We still can’t decide what color his hair is. His eyes are so blue, it’s astonishing. He likes music, from raucous hip-hop to meandering lullabies with misremembered lyrics. Sometimes, when I’m holding him, he lies there and stares at my face with the most adoring look in his eyes, for what seems like hours. I can’t tear my eyes away.

IMG_4538

My husband and I are both employed, full-time, by the same school.

Things that had fallen apart have come back together.

We are parents. We are a family of three. We have him. It’s like, you thought all the lights were on in the house, but it turns out there’s a dimmer switch and you’d never had your lights on all the way before.

What a difference a year makes.

41?! Still Waiting. Also: Monsters.

As of yesterday, I am 41 weeks pregnant… which I guess means I am now in my 42nd week of pregnancy… thanks, Douglas Adams.

41 weeks pregnant

41 weeks pregnant

I’m still feeling pretty much just fine. I’ve had a little bit more indigestion, and it’s clear that my hips/pelvis are getting a little more stretchy and a little less functional (at least, where function = walking). But I don’t feel especially uncomfortable, exhausted, miserable, anxious, depressed — none of that stuff. It’s funny what a simple conversation and an extension can do for one’s peace of mind.

It seems like my family is really much more tired of waiting than I am. I wish that I knew when it would all happen so that we could stop having this, “Now? Today? Tonight?” anxiety! It is really wearing on everyone. For me, [REDACTED] is already a physical reality; he has gotten more aggressive about his kicking games, for example. But everyone else is just having to sit around waiting to experience him, and I know they’re getting tired of waiting!

We went in for our first (hopefully last) monitoring yesterday afternoon, to make sure it was okay to keep waiting for the baby to choose his own time. We had a non-stress test and an amniotic fluid check. Interesting side note: if you leave the hyphen out of “non-stress” when typing it on an iPhone, you end up scheduling yourself for a monsters test instead.

monsters test

Anyway, we passed the monsters test with flying colors. His heart rate was strong and in the right range, although it sure did vary a lot over the course of half an hour or so!

According to the nurse, I actually had a couple of contractions while we were in there — but I didn’t even feel them. So weird. I have been operating under the assumption that contractions = pain. If that’s not the case — if you can have contractions that you don’t even feel — then have I been having contractions for the past several days? I’ve had several of what I’d identified as strong Braxton-Hicks contractions — a sense of downward pressure without any real pain — and some mild intestinal cramping that I thought was just gas. Maybe I’m not being as contraction-incompetent as I thought!

Then they did the world’s gooiest ultrasound, checking all four quadrants to make sure there was enough amniotic fluid in there. They wanted at least 8 (cubic centimeters, I assume) and I had in the neighborhood of 24.

So, yeah. I’m feeling a trifle inefficient. But other than that… all is well…

My favorite hobby this week is going to a store (or an estate sale, today) and hoping that someone asks me when I’m due, because then I get to say “Last Wednesday” — and the looks on their faces are PRICELESS. Apparently I am “holding up awfully well,” “very upbeat for being as far along as I am,” and “so tiny!” I gotta say: I could get used to being called tiny. The thing is, I fully attribute my general sense of well-being (both physical and emotional) to having some time away from work; I really do love my job, but it has been very stressful this year, and it’s exhausting any year (especially for someone who doesn’t get her “batteries charged” from human interaction).

I don’t have a great deal to say about anything, honestly. I think I am probably not going to update this site again until after the stork shows up; there’s really just not much to say. I am on Facebook, and posting fairly often over there, if you’re eager to know about my daily goings-on. 🙂

Still Waiting – Part 2

This is a continuation from this post from earlier today.

Okay! Doctor was able to squeeze me in at 1 PM. They went ahead and checked my weight (the same), blood pressure (the same), fundal height (he didn’t say anything), and baby’s heart rate (140bpm — apparently his heart is a little faster right after lunch!). Then he asked me what I wanted to talk about.

(Meant to say in my last post that I felt like I couldn’t think straight at the 40-week appt because he started tossing out all of these induction options while I’m sitting there half naked under a paper tablecloth — so part of my thinking for today’s meeting was that I needed to have a conversation with my doctor with my pants on!)

I started off by saying that I was having a lot of anxiety about inducing on Thursday, and felt that it stemmed from having some unanswered questions. That’s about as far as he let me get on my “script” — my doctor isn’t really the best listener in the world — before telling me that he was completely comfortable with pushing back induction. In fact, he had a pre-planned Plan B ready to go (I’ll get to that momentarily).

I steered the conversation back to my list of questions. He reassured me that cytotec wasn’t dangerous in the hands of someone who knew how to use it correctly, and that I’d be very carefully monitored, and that there was an “antidote” that could be administered if I overreacted to it. He said that he couldn’t anticipate my pain tolerance levels, etc., but that there was no reason to mandate an epidural with induction — that pitocin didn’t make labor any more painful, it just shortened the amount of non-painful time in between contractions. I again tried to emphasize my sensitivity to medications; he acted like he believed me, and told me that the sleeping pill was totally optional, but I don’t think he really believed me (then again, it’s the nurses who need to know that stuff anyway). The catheter dilates you up to 4cm, he said, and can definitely jump start labor on its own.

The important part is that he rescheduled induction from May 2 to May 7, with two “checkpoints” along the way in which I’ll go to L&D and have some monitoring done to make sure that there is adequate amniotic fluid and that the baby is still happy and healthy in there. At either point, if baby is in any way NOT happy and healthy, we’ll go ahead and get him outta there (that’d be Wednesday and Saturday of this week). Otherwise, we’ll let things take their natural course unless the natural course doesn’t get going before Tuesday…

Feeling MUCH better about all of this. It’s really only a couple of days, and I still believe that he’ll show up on his own, but now I feel like I can relax and just let him come — and that if he doesn’t, that I did everything I could to give him the opportunity before it became unsafe for him. It’s a much better feeling. I was feeling completely okay about everything EXCEPT the “deadline”, which was making me CRAZY — so this is definitely an improvement!

I’ll try to do better about keeping y’all posted…