Archive for the ‘Opinions on Parenting’ Category

Pause

There have been good days. There have been bad days. The bad days have been really really bad. I’m struggling with burnout. Hubster gone 17 hours a day just sucks. I think I’m seeing signs of my depression history creeping back. At least I know what to look out for. In some ways, it feels like delayed post partum depression.

It used to be when Seedling cried I had these mommy instincts to want to soothe her. Now I feel rage and frustration mounting. I’ve yelled at her. Yelled at a 6 month old. Completely stupid. I’ve had to put her down in a safe spot and walk away for fear I would accidentally hurt her.

This is not what I pictured when I pictured being a parent.

I mean, I knew it wouldn’t be all sunshine and roses, but this RAGE is unexpected. Since I can’t unleash at Seedling it tends to come out at Hubster. So take bad mom and add on a heap of bad wife.

Sure, there is lots going on. The travel to California, the move, and somewhere along the way Seedling became a rolling machine and so I’m having to take into account baby proofing now.

I think the idea of her autonomy is scaring me. It used to be she would stay put. But she’s becoming her own person, and while that is great and important, beautiful and normal, it is also scary. Scary as I watch my friends (who are great parents) struggle with battles of wills with their three year olds, these little people who have their own alien senses of logic that don’t make any sense to our adult logic.

I’ve been stress eating. I can literally see the weight gain in the last month when I look in a mirror. I’m scared for myself, for my health, feeling completely out of control. I can eat a full meal and ten minutes later my brain is saying “you’re hungry! Eat! EAT! EEEAAATTT!!!” I’m worried about being healthy to be around and active with my daughter, worried that my food addiction will mess up her own food associations, worried that if I can’t get my weight down I won’t have a shot at more kids (I highly suspect weight played a big part of my infertility)

Add to the cupcake of rage, the icing of eating addiction, and the cherry on top of it all? Hubster got laid off work on Friday. Turns out the plant has some budget issues and had to shut down until they confirmed some funding stuff. Taking us from a single income family to a no-income family. Thanks be to God we still have a little money left in his trust account. The silver lining is he gets time with Seedling. I will get a little (much needed!) help around here. He also now has time to job hunt. (He hated his job but between work and school there really wasn’t time to job hunt effectively)

About the only thing that helps is taking the time to pray. I love that in Orthodoxy there are prayers for everything. Morning, afternoon, evening, meals, prayers just because I am having a rough moment. I just need to actually make/take the time to pray. Because when I do, it makes a huge difference in the feelings of anxiety, depression, rage…

Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy!

Advertisements

Thoughts on Being a Poor Mom

We’ve been having car trouble. Repeatedly. It has been something every month… and it’s starting to be every week. Some small thing. $50 here, $100 there. So yesterday Hubster and I went in to a local car dealership. We weren’t looking for anything flashy or fancy. Just reliable. Admittedly, it was one dealer, one lot. But the way the numbers laid out, we realized that a new vehicle wasn’t realistic for us. Part of it is our credit. It’s not great, although we have been slowly trying to improve it. Part of it is that Hubster has not been at his job for very long, about 3 months. But part of it is just that we don’t make a lot of money. The dealer said several times “Well, you just don’t make a lot…”. Which is mind boggling, because I know people who somehow survive on minimum wage, and Hubster makes more than that. But money just doesn’t go as far as it used to… although that’s the history of the world, right? Inflation.

Regardless, we are technically poor. We qualify for food stamps and WIC. It’s a weird thing to really look square in the face. Even weirder to write a post about.

I guess it seems so weird because I don’t generally think of ourselves as poor. Hell, we are doing a lot better than we were a year ago! I think back two or three years… And it seems like we’ve come a long ways. We are able to pay rent. We have food to eat and clothes to wear. We are almost always current on our bills. We don’t overdraft the bank account on a regular basis anymore.

Sure, our clothes aren’t the height of fashion. Most of my wardrobe is several years old. It’s starting to look a bit worn. But if it gets stained, torn or holes I put it in the “to donate” pile.

I had a good cry when we got home from the dealership. It wasn’t really about the car thing. It was about being confronted with the fact that for all the progress we’ve made, we are still poor. Our finances is the main reason our surrogate stepped down all those years ago. It’s why various friends and families weren’t supportive of TTC. But Seedling has everything she needs! Heck, she has plenty of fun extras that aren’t necessity!

I don’t have grand plans for our family. My dreams are fairly modest, even a bit archaic. A little piece of land where we can raise our own meat and garden. Teach our children about God and faith and the value of working hard and doing the right thing. But I also want to be able to give my daughter dance classes, and horseback riding lessons or underwater basket weaving if that’s what really strikes her fancy. I want to be able to help her go to college. And it’s a tough pill to swallow to realize that with our current situation I can’t do that.

Generally, I’m content. I have a wonderful husband who us a fabulous father to our delightful little girl. My basic needs are met. We are surrounded with loving family, a strong church, and I’m slowly making lots of great new friends through my mom groups. I just wish that society could see that my life is rich, even if its not in material goods.

Thoughts on being a SAHM

Way back when I first met Hubster, and we started dating, I made the statement that I wanted to be a stay at home mom. Looking back now, I realize that I pretty much felt I was going to college to please my parents, society, and feminists everywhere. I basically figured I would get a degree and a job until I found a man, got married and had kids. I know, how very “unenlightened” of me. But from a young age I saw a great value in being a mom who was around!

This week my very dear friend Suzy and her husband Professor bought a house. Suzy and professor are the same age as Hubster and me. They got married the same year as us. They had a clear life plan. They stuck to it, going to college for a normal amount of years, graduating on time, obtaining jobs and saving up until they started their family, and now have two dazzling kids. Suzy is a SAHM now, but because per-kids they had both worked, they were able to pay off all their debt (including student loans) before buying their home. All before they were 30.

If left to my own devices I can’t help but wonder if we would be further along in our life. If we would be buying a home, instead if renting. If our debt would be paid off. Because here’s the thing: I was on the path. From high school I went to college. My first year is when Hubster, Suzy, Professor and I all met. We then transferred to different colleges, but we were on “the path”. Keeping in mind I was getting a degree… Well, mainly for fun. Because that’s what I was “supposed” to do. I was basically killing time until the whole married-and-babies thing happened. So what was I getting a degree in? Biblical studies. Until I changed majors to Theology. Until I realized that with Hubster pursuing a career as a firefighter I might actually need a job and career and what in the world would I do with a degree in theology??? So I took a year off. Floundering. Trying to figure out “what I wanted to do”. When the truth was that what I wanted could not be gained from a degree. But to say “I want to be a mom” was offensive to most people, like as if declaring I wanted to be a stripper. Because desiring to be a stay at home mom must mean I wasn’t very intelligent or intellectual. I was lazy and an unproductive member of society.

Finally I decided to go back to school to be a vet tech. And the truth is I fell in love with the field. So I had a new plan: vet tech/mom! But then we hit infertility. And a miscarriage. The miscarriage coming right as I was finishing my degree. So I made several highly emotional decisions in an attempt to work through the loss. Decisions that set my career back.

At the end of the day, there has never been a solid chunk of time where both Hubster and I have been working. One was always in school, or dealing with some medical issue, or just unable to find work in a struggling economy.

I know there are other reasons we aren’t on a debtless-home buying place of course. Things that were completely outside my control. My vehicle dieing, and having to take on a car payment a month into our married life. (That we just recently finally paid off! Woot!) The next month Hubster had a seizure at work, and was subsequently out of work with some pretty big medical bills. You know, stuff like that…

But maybe if I hadn’t floundered… Maybe if I could have embraced my SAHM desires, we wouldn’t have my student loan debts. I could have spent those years of I was in school focusing on learning better budgeting skills. Better housekeeping skills. Maybe we’d have a little less debt and a little more life skills.

Of course, can’t forget that becoming a mom (working, home, or other) wasn’t as quick and easy as we had hoped. So the real truth is that whether I had gone to school or not, our picture probably wouldn’t look that different. And I know I shouldn’t compare my life to my friends… The grass always looks greener. But I still have regret for money and time wasted. I lived the vet field, but I’m really glad to be home. To watch my daughter grow and change and learn. I’m even entertaining thoughts about homeschooling! (More on that later…)

I guess what I’m trying to say is I love being a mom. I’m so thankful I tried working (so I can’t wonder “what if?”) but even more thankful that now I’m home. I wish it hasn’t taken me so long to get here. But Im so grateful to finally be here.

LIES

The greatest lie of the feminist movement, and of our current culture, is “You can have it all!”. You can have a career and family, hobbies and a great body. “You can be anything you want!” But come on… I think it’s safe to say not everyone who wants to be president gets to be. Not everyone who wants to be an astronaut goes up into space. There is a limit to our time, energy and income.

I’ve really been struggling with my return to work. I still hold I couldn’t ask for a better boss or coworkers. But more its the time spent apart from Seedling. It used to be I was borderline workaholic. Anything that was asked of me, if it was in my power I would do it. 110%, going above and beyond for my job. But now… I find myself just wanting to get by. Do a good job and be done. 90% effort. I’m also finding that with breastfeeding-induced fuzzy brain, and coming in to work on 2-4 hours of sleep, I just can’t be the employee I used to be. I forget simple, routine things. When it’s pointed out to me all I can think is “Duh! How did I miss that?” I feel incompetent. I feel like my boss and coworkers are a little let down I’m not the employee I used to be. The truth is, my heart is just not in it like it used to be. My heart is in spending time with Seedling.

Maybe part of it is that I’m just a receptionist. Making little more than minimum wage. I went to school to be a vet tech. To draw blood, assist in surgeries, look through a microscope. The education feels wasted and I can sense that knowledge slipping away, “use it or lose it”. But the clinic I work at only hires licensed techs to work as vet techs. And getting licensed is a $500 process that includes a giant, intense exam I doubt I could do well on at this point.

Thursday I received an email referencing my résumé that is posted in a national vet tech database. I figured they had emailed everyone in the database and didn’t put much thought into it. Friday morning I received a phone call. Turns out its a state of the art emergency and specialty clinic that REALLY wants me to come in and interview. Without going into too much detail, in short it’s my dream job. But I gently interrupted the woman and explained I had just had a baby and that if it was any other time I would have loved to take it. She was very understanding, and said “When you’re ready to get back to work, let me know!”

I spent the rest of the day wondering if I’d made a HUGE mistake. Finally Hubster got home and I had someone to hash it all out with. I told him that I wish I could take it so he wouldn’t have to work. That it was potentially the golden opportunity of my career. I lamented that we really can’t have it all. I can’t have a career without some sacrifice to the time I spend with my family. I can’t have a family without sacrificing my energy for my career. Hubster told me he would support me no matter what. But he did say that if it came down to him working so I could spend time with Seedling, or me working so he could spend time with Seedling, that he would rather work. Not because he doesn’t want to be here – the truth is her loves and adores his father-daughter time! But because he believes that the mother-daughter bond is SO important. He sees the value in my ability to snuggle and breastfeed. And he recognizes I’m the same person who, a decade ago when we first met, had said I valued family above all else. And I still do. I could work, and Hubster could work, and we could put Seedling in daycare. Lots of families do! But it’s not what I want. I want to be there, to watch my daughter grow, to raise her. Am I sad to let go of one dream? Sure. It’s always sad to realize we can’t fit all our dreams into our life. But it’s also the mature thing. It was hard to realize we didn’t have the money for both a family and horses and I had to sell my horse. But when it comes down to family vs hobbies or career? I’m always going to choose family.

I think back to this fabulous exchange n “Mona Lisa Smiles”:
Joan Brandwyn: Do you think I’ll wake up one morning and regret not being a lawyer?
Katherine Watson: Yes, I’m afraid that you will.
Joan Brandwyn: Not as much as I’d regret not having a family, not being there to raise them. I know exactly what I’m doing and it doesn’t make me any less smart. This must seem terrible to you.
Katherine Watson: I didn’t say that.
Joan Brandwyn: Sure you did. You always do. You stand in class and tell us to look beyond the image, but you don’t. To you a housewife is someone who sold her soul for a center hall colonial. She has no depth, no intellect, no interests. You’re the one who said I could do anything I wanted. This is what I want.

Scott came home this evening from work saying his start time is changing from 6:30am to 4am. So he can’t take Seedling to day are for me in the mornings. It just feels like one more thing and one more thing keeps coming up … It’s just a matter of time for me to put in my notice. I’m not sure when it will be exactly… But it’s coming.

The Birth Story

Well, my big plans to sit at my laptop and write this has flopped. Between feedings, changings, trying to get enough food and sleep myself, AND get in moments of quality time with Hubster, there is no opportunity to chill with my laptop. So what that means is I will be pecking it out on my phone during nursing time, and the occasional nap time. And that means expect typos, weird auto-correct issues, and that it probably won’t flow well. But I need to get it down before it all fades away as birth memories tend to. Already it feels like it was ages ago and has a hazy quality to it…

I had been having Braxton hicks for a few days before Friday, December 28th 2012, and at times they seemed to have some regularity although not very close together. Thursday night showed some good consistency (and some intense discomfort!) and I was intrigued to find out what my cervix was doing Friday morning at my appointment with Dr. B. I went in at 8:45am to learn I was 4 cm dilated! The doctor wanted to rupture my membranes but I really wanted for them to break on their own. I was sent home with instructions to “walk vigorously” and come back for a recheck at 1:30.

I got home and after speaking with Doula P decided not to rush anything, but to try and rest. I tried but contractions were slowly coming closer and closer together and I could not sleep through them so I decided to take a shower, thinking it might help me to relax, the contractions to ease, so I could sleep. Instead they started coming more frequently! At this point Hubster arrived home after leaving work and swinging by the store for some last minute items. I called Doula P back explaining contractions were averaging 1:40 apart and strong enough I couldn’t sleep through them. She offered to come to our apartment, we could meet at her class space or go to the hospital. I was worried about my bag breaking (and I needed antibiotics due to the Strep B I had) and with the contractions so close together I thought for sure the baby would be coming sooner rather than later. (Haha!) So Hubster and I rounded up our bags, sent out texts and Facebook posts, and headed to the hospital.

The ride to the hospital was… Uncomfortable. Having contractions while forced to sit, unable to move or hip rock was tough. Then Hubster got confused as to where exactly the entrance we needed was, and turned one turn too early… turned around…. then missed the entrance we needed and turned one entrance too late… if it had been a movie it would have been hilarious. So I just tried to laugh.

We checked in at the hospital and I realized I had forgotten my purse! Thankfully they took me at my word that I was who I said I was, and I had pre-registered so they had all my info in the computer system. Then they insisted I be wheeled up instead if letting me walk… I wasn’t walking fast but I was still able to walk! Sheesh…

About 1:00 -1:15pm we got up to the correct floor and go into a “triage room”, meant to be where I would be assessed before being formerly admitted. However a nurse came in and said they need that room for something else and they are going to move me over one room… Which turned out to be one of the tub rooms!!! I was totally thrilled. It seemed like everything was going “according to plan”. I have to admit, I went into this labor a little elitist. I had done my research, I had a plan, I had the determination and will power. No way was I going to give in to interventions. No way was I going to “wimp out”. I wouldn’t be like all those women who can’t handle the pain – If countless women in history and in third world countries could deliver naturally, so could I… Of course, “Pride cometh before the fall”… In all seriousness, my first lesson as a parent is the importance of humility. It is amazing how in the two weeks since she has been born, I have done several things I always swore I would never do simply because I couldn’t understand the perspective until I was in the midst of it.

So we are in the tub room. Doula P and her amazing assistant L arrive, followed shortly by Jewel (who had so very kindly ran by the apartment and retrieved my purse!) and I was hooked up for my “20 minutes of monitoring”. The contractions had slowed and eased off a little, but I felt confident they would pick up soon, and it was just the car ride that had caused me to tense up and thus cause labor to slow. The hospitalist Dr.GrumpyPants came in (since Dr.B wasn’t there yet) to determine if I should formerly be admitted. He checked me – 4cm dilated. Fully effaced. Bag bulging. Baby at -3 station (still pretty high). I was disappointed I wasn’t any more dilated, but wasn’t overly concerned. Doula P suggested I try bouncing on a yoga peanut-ball so I was game. And then doing side lunges… It felt good to be “doing something”, but it wasn’t causing any super-fast changes. So then I elected to start walking, to see if I could get my labor back to where it was when I was home.

Dr.GrumpyPants did another check… maybe 4.5 cm? I could tell he wasn’t happy with that. By this time Dr.B showed up, and so Dr.GrumpyPants had him check me, to see if there was much change from my appointment with him that morning. There was a LOT of talk about something needing to change… Dr.GrumpyPants basically wanted me to either get Pitocin, or go home because I “wasn’t really in labor” – because apparently I was smiling too much. (I’m a happy person, I was excited, what can I say?) I wasn’t really happy about either option. I felt so strongly against unnecessary medical intervention, and I really believed that Pitocin was unnecessary at that point. I didn’t really want to go home because I dreaded having to sit in the car through contractions, and was worried we would lose the beloved tub room. (There are only 2 tub rooms, and it’s on a first-come first-serve basis) I was so committed to a water birth, and I wasn’t going to let it go!

Dr.B goes to do his check, and determines that I’m 5cm… and while doing his check he “accidentally” broke my water. At the time, I really thought it was an accident (he played it so well!) but in hindsight he must have done it intentionally, knowing it would be the card I needed to keep me in the hospital. Of course, to do it with just his finger the membrane must have been pretty ready to break anyway. My big fear of having my water broken prematurely was that it would cause contractions to unnaturally intensify, and that was why I kept putting it off. I wanted it to break when it was ready (I also had a teeny tiny hope it wouldn’t break and Seedling would be born in the caul, just because that sounded so cool) Well, any fears I had about it causing sudden-intense labor turned out to be unnecessary, because it didn’t do that. What it did do was cause me to finally be formerly admitted to the hospital! And get me started on IV antibiotics. But first we had to move to the other tub room… not sure why we had to move, but that space was even more beautiful than the first room, and it still had a tub, so I was fine with it. It took 3 tries to get my IV placed… dang my tiny veins! They actually had to call in the Charge Nurse to do it. So I got my IV set, and went back to walking… walking… walking… lunging, bouncing on the ball, lunging, more lunging… All without much change in my contractions. They would start to come more frequently and more intensely and then fade off.

It was frustrating, and I started to get more emotional that it didn’t seem like anything I was doing was helping. But Hubster, Doula P, L and Jewel were so amazing. They never seemed discouraged, they just kept encouraging me, getting me to laugh, suggesting new movements, giving me counter-pressure on my lower back during a contraction (WHAT A DIFFERENCE THAT MADE in the pain!). They made sure I was getting water and eating (The hospital provided 3 meals a day to me… and I think in the course of the 2 days we were there I ate 3 pieces of cheesecake… because, hello, CHEESECAKE! Mmmmm… But I promise I also ate other things.) I cannot imagine what my labor would have been like without those amazing people by my side.

Hubster was my rock, never far from my side, endlessly loving and patient. I could not have endured without him. Doula P was my guide through a road I had never traveled before, I would have been lost without her. L was quiet confidence, to keep up the journey. And my dear Jewel was a ray of sunshine, keeping my spirits up when times felt dark.

Doula P suggested I try some squats, to see if we could bring Seedling’s head down more. If we could get her to drop, then there would be more pressure on the cervix, and then we would hopefully see more dilation. So I started squat after squat… I wanted to make my body cooperate. After all these years of my body not working, the infertility struggles, the baby we lost… couldn’t my body finally do what it was supposed to? Reviewing “the worst pain” – the pain of wanting a child and unable to achieve it. That the pain of contractions wasn’t anything compared the the broken heart I had carried all those years. I kept thinking about all the women who had given birth without medical interventions and how much I wanted the best for Seedling. I wanted to do a good job, do everything I could. (Of course, the uterus is on the autonomic nervous system… much like you can’t consciously control when your heart beats, you can’t control when, or how strongly, the uterus contracts. Believe me, I tried.) I know at one point in the squatting tears came to my eyes, just feeling so frustrating and worried.

It was suggested I try getting in the shower. I’m so grateful for this – Not only do I just love the water, but it was a good change of pace (I was able to squat in there because they had handicap bars on the walls) and the water felt really good running down my back during a contraction, and down my tummy when the contraction was over. It was also the only laboring in water I ended up doing, and again I’m so thankful I got to spend some part of my labor in water of some kind. I also had some really great contractions, they felt closer together and stronger in the shower. But I was also starting to feel how tired I was… After 40 minutes I headed out of the shower, I can’t remember if I chose to get out or if the nurse prompted me because she needed to check me? But I do remember that I was checked… and keep in mind it was now well into the evening. (Sorry, brain way to fuzzy to offer an exact time.) I had been in the hospital for hours and hours. And the nurse found… No change.

No. Change.

I felt so at a loss. All my work hadn’t done anything. Doula P was so kind, but she pointed out that with how much time had passed, we needed to bring on some extra help. I felt crushed. I knew she was right, I knew I had been giving it my all and my all wasn’t working. But I couldn’t help but think about how much I had wanted to do this, I had wanted my body to work, I didn’t want to have to face my friends and family and admit that I hadn’t been able to have an unmedicated birth. I worried that Pitocin would be too much pain to handle. I worried that Pitocin would push Seedling into distress. And the thought of doing anything to harm Seedling made me nauseated with grief.

Doula P and Hubster sat and comforted me. I never felt forced to make the decision to get help, they were so kind and patient, allowing me to grieve and process the loss of a piece of my dream birth. It still felt like it was my call, my decision to make. We talked about that maybe the Pitocin would help kick-start the labor, and eventually we would be able to turn it down or turn it off and I could still do a water birth. I finally took a deep breath and agreed, to the lowest dose of “one”. (I’m still not sure if that is 1ml or 1mg or what…) Of course, by agreeing to Pitocin that meant constant monitoring, and Seedling had an unfortunate habit of “falling off” the monitor if I moved too much, so I was relegated to the bed. The “one” level really wasn’t too bad. I would feel a contraction coming, and someone would put pressure on my lower back, I would do my breathing exercises… and when it was over I would attempt to shut my eyes and rest until the next one came. However, after a while, the contractions were one on top of the other, with no relief between them. The pain and exhaustion were catching up with me – and my support team. Poor Hubster, he never complained, never made a peep, but afterwards he admitted to being exhausted, especially when he realized there wasn’t a break between contractions and I needed the pressure on my back for some semblance of relief. It turns out my nurse had slowly been upping the Pitocin without anyone realizing! I was at a “five”! Doula P got them to turn it down so we could discuss where to go from here. I’m pretty sure they did another check at this time… no real change. I think Seedling had dropped a centimeter, so was at -2 station, (I might have also been declared 6cm dilated at this point… like I said, it’s all a little fuzzy at points) but that wasn’t a very significant change considering how much time had passed.

Doula P suggested it was time to consider the epidural. I felt like such a failure. I wanted to say “No, I can keep going, turn the Pitocin back up, I can tough it out, I can be strong enough!” but she pointed out that we had a long way yet to go, and I was exhausted. I needed to get some rest so I would have the energy to actually push Seedling out. All I saw was that my body was failing me once again. That an epidural was the final pull of the rug out from underneath my dreams of a calm and peaceful waterbirth. I saw the tub in the corner and it was so close yet so far. All I saw was that the epidural would inevitably lead to a cesarean section. Once again Hubster and Doula P were so patient with me. I knew in my heart that Doula P was not a big advocate of intervention. So I trusted that if she was suggesting an intervention, then it really must be needed. (After the fact, Hubster admitted that he had really wanted me to get the epidural, but he knew that he couldn’t push, it had to be my decision. But he saw how exhausted I was, and he was so exhausted. As committed as he was to minimal interventions he saw how great a need there was for some relief.) Finally I agreed to the epidural, and tried to focus on the fact that there was still hope for a vaginal delivery.

The anesthesiologist came in. He was rather upbeat for a man about to puncture my dreams, but I’d rather take that than more of Dr.GrumpyPants. They prepped my back and explained what would happen. First the local anesthetic (yes, on par with a bee sting) and then he placed the epidural… and oh my did that HURT. All my friends who had gotten epidurals always raved about the relief they offered, no one prepared me for the fact that this would hurt. I think he must have tweaked a nerve because I could feel twinging running down the right side of my spine from where the catheter was being placed. But then the numbing started to take effect… (Just a heads up, when you lose control of your lower extremities, that includes your bladder. Yes folks, I voided my bladder in bed. Thank goodness I was very comfortable with the folks I had chosen to have in the room with me.) I had to lay on my back for a while because the drug works by gravity, and that ensured it was distributed evenly, and then it was a game of laying on one side, only to switch the other side a while later. I finally gave in to the exhaustion and started to drift to sleep. I could hear Doula P, L, Hubster and Jewel quietly talking about what was ahead, including the possibility of a cesarean section tomorrow, and what to expect if that happened. Of course I was 75% asleep so it had a dream-like-quality to it. I just remember hearing bits and pieces. Then Doula P came over to let me know she and L were heading home to try and get refreshed before the morning. Hubster and Jewel bedded down in the room with me. (Talk about commitment, Jewel slept on the floor! Hubster on a sad excuse for a roll-away-bed.)

Friday morning dawned. The nurse came in to remind me to roll over, and to check me. Still at 6cm. Although Seedling had dropped a bit. While feeling physically refreshed, my spirits were really taking a toll. I looked at the nurse and just said “That’s not enough, is it? If we are going to go in for a c-section, I just want to get it over with.” I just couldn’t handle any more waffling of “Maybe we will, maybe we won’t.” I didn’t want a c-section, but I felt it was inevitable. And if it was inevitable, let’s just “rip the band-aid off”. But the nurse said that Dr.B wanted to have an internal monitor placed to confirm how strong my contractions were. This is done by placing a small plastic tubing into the cervix, it doesn’t hurt the baby. A small part of me just sighed and rolled my eyes at one more delay of the inevitable, but figured it couldn’t hurt. However, Seedling was so low that getting the tubing placed was proving difficult, and my nurse had to call in another nurse to help place it. In some ways that was a good thing (the baby was really low!)! They finally got the tubing placed, and realized that even with the Pitocin, my contractions were not in fact strong enough to cause dilation! Suddenly there was some light at the end of the tunnel, because it was simply a matter of increasing the Pitocin! Back to napping and changing from side to side.

Sometime Saturday morning I remember Hubster coming over to the bed, with the icons and cross and prayer book and saying morning prayers. I tried to mumble along as best as my sleepy mind could… but it really touched me that he would initiate that, re-centering the entire experience on our faith. I still believe our pregnancy was a miraculous unexplainable gift from God, and it is only right to thank Him for the largest blessing of my life.

The nurses had a shift change, and the new nurse went to do a check… 8cm!!!! That was so exciting and uplifting to hear. Some real change! But I suddenly realized that I could feel my hands on my legs… was my epidural wearing off? With how high the Pitocin was running, I was terrified of feeling it, and kept repeating to the nurse that I thought something had happened to the epidural, I was starting to have feeling in my legs (Yes, nurse, both legs) and that the bolus-button did not seem to be making a difference. Could all my turning have pulled the epidural out? After much insisting they finally brought in an anesthesiologist to check. Yes, the epidural was still placed, and she put in an injection of super-special extra-strong meds… and my legs back went to being numb. Then another check, and in the course of the nurse checking she felt it stretch from 8 to 9cm! I asked her how the head was positioned… and she suddenly asked “Are we sure she is head down? I think I feel a butt.” Ummm… suddenly there was a flurry to get in an ultrasound machine… and the doctor that accompanied it was Dr. GrumpyPants. Oh joy. However, they determined that she was in fact head down. Whoo, crisis averted! But while we were waiting for the determination, Hubster had called Doula P to let her know there was a question as to the baby’s position, and she headed back in.

Then I started to feel some pressure on my cervix and rectum. It didn’t hurt, it just felt like I had to go to the bathroom. I tried to let people know what I was feeling. It was hard not to push. But I was also starting to have intense sharp pain between my should blades. All those rotations from side to side, when I had to use my arms to pull and push myself, had caught up with me. In hindsight I think I must have pulled those muscles. But the pain was consuming, taking over my ability to focus on the changes in my labor. Dr.B came in and determined I was 10cm and should start really pushing hard. But part of pushing is leaning forward, curling yourself into a ball. With my shoulder muscles in agony, that wasn’t really a movement I was inclined to do. He left, and Doula P encouraged me to just “labor down” – gently push during the contractions, but not so much that I was killing myself. That I really liked. But eventually Dr.B came back and said we had to start moving things along. He talked about using a vacuum or forceps, which I was not excited about. I didn’t want anything squishing or mushing my baby’s head! I may have had to give up most of my birth plan, but if it was possible, I was going to push Seedling out. All by myself. So I started pushing. Suddenly I heard heavy metal being played on the playlist. WTF?! Earlier Hubster and I had joked that if Hubster were in labor, he would want metal playing. But I have no idea how that joke turned into reality. However, I was so internally focused on the sensation of pushing, and the sensation of sharp pain in my shoulders to properly verbalize my opinion on the music. Hubster was listing off various metal artists and for some reason in my brain I thought I had to listen to metal, and so I threw out a band name… only to realize when they came on that I absolutely did not want to listen to that band, but I felt like I would inconveniencing someone if I complained so I decided to do my best to ignore the music. I didn’t like the music, I didn’t want to listen to the music, I didn’t want my precious baby girl born to such obnoxious, offensive music. But for some reason I had come to the conclusion I didn’t have a choice.

Of course, Hubster ever the supportive man, kept trying to encourage me and would ask “are you listening to the music?” to which my brain would think “I’m doing my get to ignore it!” but I couldn’t get those words out. (Hubster has since profusely apologized, he thought the driving beat would help. Ah, men!) Eventually the music stopped playing on its own, and nobody bothered to restart it… thank goodness. (Note to self, next time make sure to put together a playlist for the pushing stage of music I like! We had done so well with the laboring playlist I had put together…)

Most of my memory of the pushing stage is about hating the music, searing pain in my shoulders, nurses telling me to push harder (and me thinking “I am pushing as hard I can! Stop telling me to push harder!”) and Dr.B saying “Get angry” (and me thinking “I am angry!”) The pushing wasn’t actually that painful or difficult, (thank you epidural) it was my shoulder muscles that felt like someone was stabbing them over and over with a knife, that hurt. And every push someone would try to lift my head or shoulders, intensifying the shoulder pain, and that just made me angrier! And the tub was over in the corner mocking me. Suddenly someone exclaimed “I can see the head! There’s so much hair!” And they wheeled in a giant mirror so I could see – that was bizarre. It was hard to believe the view in the mirror was ME. (Because, let’s be honest, how often do you see that side of yourself?) But the next push I could see a little sliver of baby head and suddenly tears filled my eyes. More pushing and pushing… so many comments about her hair, one nurse said “the next push I could braid her hair!”. (According to Jewel, as she was descending, and the contraction would end and her head would slip back a little, her hair would continue to be sticking out. So, as Jewel put it, “She was born hair first!”)

At one point someone said “Her head is out!” and I remember there wasn’t any noise so I exclaimed “Why isn’t she crying???” and someone clarified that she was almost out.

I remember Doula P encouraging me to open my eyes and look in the mirror, or reach down and feel her head, but all I could focus on was the pushing and the pain in my shoulders.

There was a moment where I felt a flash of pain and I realized Dr.B had cut an episiotomy, and I yelled out “What’s going on?!” – we hadn’t discussed an episiotomy, but apparently I was starting to tear, and the doctor knew that if he hadn’t made a small cut, I would have had a significant tear. While it startled me, it’s another example of why I am so thankful for the great team I had, who was looking out for me when I was so vulnerable and in a state where I couldn’t be clear and rational.

Suddenly I felt a release of pressure, and I opened my eyes to see the doctor holding a baby, bum up, (she came out with meconium, so he was being careful she didn’t get any in her lungs) and then she was placed on my chest, warm and wet and slightly purple – and so incredibly perfect and beautiful.

There was more pressure, as Dr.B delivered the placenta.

I looked at the beautiful tiny face, and I found myself saying “Where did you come from?”. I couldn’t believe this was the same little being that had been in my tummy. “Surreal” doesn’t even being to cover it. But even as I wondered how this could be one in the same, how after everything I had been through I had somehow find myself at this inestimable moment, I knew that I loved this little girl. The word “love” doesn’t even cover it. The feeling I felt – and still feel – is primal. It is consuming. Complete, overwhelming adoration and protectiveness of this person. Delicious obsession. The desire to know everything, every curve of her face, every dimple in her fingers, to see her grow, to learn about what she loves.

I know it took 2 weeks for me to get this post out. What can I say – it’s hard to type when you find yourself lost in looking at a face for hours. But I hope to do a slightly better job of writing posts, in order to cherish these memories later. She is growing and changing so fast! Some favorite photos from that first day… taken by Doula P (all rights given to her, please feel free to check out her website!)

_DSC0077-001

_DSC0116

_DSC0195
***update*** I just want to clarify: although it didn’t go according to my “plan”, I have nothing but warm, fuzzy nostalgia for my birth experience. I wish I could return to that room, that time, that experience. I felt so loved, cared for, and safe. I feel so lucky, blessed and grateful for my experience. It was filled with much fun and laughter, even though it also had moments of difficulty and tears. Sometimes the most rewarding experiences have highs and lows, because we grow so much through both emotions.

Weird Mental Head Space

Yesterday a person in our church posted a prayer request, because a woman he knew had just had a miscarriage at 6 months.  Which is  where I’m at in my pregnancy right now. 25 weeks.  Approximately halfway through my 6th month.

(Thank you http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pregnancy#Progression for this handy chart…)

Sometimes, as excited as I am as we prep the nursery and decide on a baby name and accept various gifts and hand-me-downs, I can’t help but feel this is like a little kid dressing up in her mom’s high heels – that this is all some very elaborate make-believe.  Maybe it’s just that we’ve spent so long hoping and trying, it’s hard to imagine this all finally happening. Maybe it’s because a “due date” is a flexible thing, 2 weeks before or after are fair game. But mostly, I think it’s that I’m just so aware of how fragile a thing pregnancy can be.  Being involved in the ALI, and even PAIL, communities I’m surrounded by stories of loss and grief.  That is my norm.  That is my expectation in pregnancy.

So, as Hubster has moments of “Wow, we’re going to have a baby! This is a huge responsibility! Am I going to be a good dad?” I am stuck in this place of “The baby hasn’t kicked in a few hours, or most of the day, is she ok? Is her heart still beating? Are we really going to make it to a live birth?” It’s hard to look ahead, unless it’s in this abstract, detached way.  Such as “Oh, when/if there is a baby in the house, we have to start remembering to disinfect the counter-tops after Hubster spills uncooked steaks on them, instead of just a normal cleaning.”  All my thoughts on parenting are, in some ways, detached.  As if considering a concept that I may or may not actually get to attempt.  I hope to do something things, want to avoid others… but there is a sense of tangibility that seems remote.

In a lot of ways, it’s like when Hubster and I sit and dream of our someday-future-vacation to Scotland where we want to do a tour of the various Scotch distilleries.  Will this happen?  Probably.  But not for a long time.  That’s one expensive vacation, crossing the Atlantic, about $1,000 per plane ticket, then there is accommodations, food, trains…  It’s certainly more realistic than, say, dreaming of going to Narnia.  So I recognize the possibility of the reality of us having a child… it just still feels so distant, uncertain, even with the third trimester just ahead of us.

If I do ever worry about my parenting ability, it’s in this “I’m so stuck in the presence, I haven’t really been hit or overwhelming by the idea of being a parent yet, does that mean I will be unprepared if/when it does happen?”

I also seem to be struck by how my friendships are changing.  Do you remember, when you were really little, your parents were the coolest people?  If you got hurt, you went to them crying knowing they would kiss and make it better.  If you accomplished something exciting you couldn’t want to tell them or show them.

Then you start to get a little older, and suddenly your parents are kind of lame, they don’t get you, but you have these friends that seem more like family.  “The family you choose” we always said in High School.  You are sad or hurting so you would call them up, and go to the mall, or cry over ice cream.  You accomplish something and you can’t wait to share if with them.  These peers that understand all the crazy hormones, they like the same music, they relate to how annoying parents can be – it’s all very intense.  And you think, “we will always be friends”. And not just friends, but we will always be intensely friends, like we are right now.  Even after I got married, I still had friends that I would call up and we would go the bar and stay out late and had each other’s backs.

But it seems I’m entering into a new phase where my friends (as much as I love them and need them in my life) just aren’t so intensely important as they used to be.  My flesh and blood family is becoming the priority again.  Time with Hubster or my parents is just as, if not more than, important as spending time with my friends.  I find myself frustrated when my friends are not flexible, to accommodate my changing work schedule or my desire to also spend time with my family.  I listen to songs that (only a few years ago!) used to really speak to me about friends-as-priority, and now they just feel nostalgic… not my reality.

I know this is all normal, but it feels weird to be in the midst of so much mental change.  I may only be 27 but it makes me feel old; I always pictured that when my life came back around to family-as-priority I’d be older than 27… and even with a husband and children I would still have intense friends.  (They made it happen on the TV show “Friends!”, you mean that’s not real life?!)  But it just doesn’t work like that.  We only have so much time and energy to devote to relationships, and those intense friendships take up a LOT of time and energy.  And being pregnant and trying to prepare for a baby takes up a LOT of time and energy.  And starting a new job take a LOT of time and energy!  It just can’t all be done.

Then on the other side of the coin, it seems that for all the horror, grief and loss that I see around me (both IRL and online) I also seem to have several friends (IRL and online) that are pregnant with their second child, and struggling with fears of how the new child will take them away from their first child.  And I must say – while it seems to be a fairly normal emotion – I just don’t get it.  I don’t understand worrying about how the second child is unfair to the first child.  If anything, the firstborn gets an unfair advantage.  Because no subsequent child will ever get the kind of undivided, focused attention.  And perhaps it really isn’t good for them to have that – there is a lot of psychology these days about how children are raised thinking they are the center of the universe, and then can’t adapt to the real world of school or work where they are not the most important thing.  So I would think that having a second child as soon as possible would in some ways be better for the firstborn child.  Of course, I do understand a couple saying “We are not ready financial/emotionally/physically/spiritually to have another child (yet).” but I just don’t understand this concern for the first born child.  It’s not like anyone says “Oh, this secondborn child will be ripped off for having the firstborn child here, splitting my focus.”  Or maybe it’s just nobody I know has said that?  Please know, I’m not making a judgement here, it’s just been percolating in the back of my head, these musings that don’t make sense to me.

It feels good to get this all down, things that have been on my mind for a while!  I’m sure I could have done these topics much better justice if I had separated them into 3 different posts, but I have so little time to actually sit with the laptop and have the mental energy to write, I wanted to get it all down before I forgot.  Now to get in a shower before heading off to work!

A much needed, non stressful day :)

Friday was a great day!

Started by meeting up with Alex, and getting to meet her adorable girls (I even got to cuddle one!!! Squee!!!) and then a very tasty brunch at I.hop, and then some shopping at a baby consignment shop (I scored some much needed maternity tops to carry me into the fall!)

It’s always awesome to hang out with a fellow blogger, and not feel rushed or anything. It’s amazing to think back over Alex and my’s visits, because she lives a little ways away so we visit infrequently, so that it seems like each visit memory is a time capsule of where we both have been in the last year. Oh I’m a nostalgic sap, leave me alone! 😉

After that great visit, I went to visit Jewel (because they live relatively close, so as long as I’m going to drive an hour+, might as well pack in as much fun as possible!) she has been knitting longer than me, and I’ve been stuck on a spot in one of my Christmas gifts for a while, so she helped me to fix it, and then we knit happily in peace for a while with “Bo.nes” on the background. Then ran to grab some dinner (teriyaki stir fry! Mmmmm! I’ve been trying to be better about getting more veggies in my diet, and Asian food is so great at doing that) then back to her house where we watched not one, but TWO birth documentaries. (one was her idea, the other mine) we watched “Pregna.nt in Am.erica” and the “The Bui.sness of Being Bo.rn”, and chatted about the differences and similarities, some of my hopes and fears for my birth. (the first is more low-budget, traditional documentary style with lots if facts and statistics, and I love that they actually flew to various countries to talk with people there about their experiences compared to American birth process which is very different. The second is a little more accesable/entertaining, a little shorter, with more footage of actual births taking place. Both i would highly recommend!!!) I know Jewel is going to be a great doula 🙂 even though it was a very “baby centric” visit I tried to return the conversation to other topics; her career, her boyfriend, politics (so tired of talking about politics but they seem to be a constant topic these days!) books and fav tv shows… I try so hard not to do the annoying self-centered-pregnant lady thing. I think the thing I love about our friendship is we can say nothing for hours, or talk nonstop for hours. And it is all perfect and comfortable, even when we disagree (stupid politics…). The only problem was I lost track of the time and didn’t leave until 10:45! At least there was no traffic so it was just an hour to get home.

It really was a great distraction from over-analyzing my interview. I have a sinking intuition that I didn’t get it, since I’ve had no reply to the voicemail I left. I’m trying to let it go, and focus on where to go from here. The rest of this month is totally packed, so I really should save my energy for the long list of concrete things to do and not waste it wondering about the clinic job. As much as it would have been great, I have no knowledge of the other candidates, and can only hope they found exactly whatever they were looking for! I’m looking forward, in a way, to the “unknown-ness” of September after this over scheduled August. I’m sad my current job is ending but I’m feeling optimistic that once it is done and I’m not working so much, I will have the time and energy to adequately job hunt and find just the right job for me!

And on an end note: I’m typing this post on my iPhone, so any typos I blame on these stupid tiny buttons and imperfect autocorrect!