Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Obligatory Halloween Post

It's a day before November. Wooo-hooo. I've always like November. There are four family birthdays this month. Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away. The weather is getting cold enough to bundle up for, and if there's one thing I love, it's bundling up.

When your mother is a pentecostal charismatic evangelist Christian with a capital C, you don't go trick or treating when you are a kid. Halloween is Satan's holiday, and that is not something to celebrate. You don't dress up as scary ghosts, goblins or witches, because those are products of the devil and of the world, and you are not of the world. You belong to Jesus.

Anyway. My mother and I don't share the same religion anymore (that ended for me in high school), but my apathy towards Halloween is easily explained by my childhood. I never participated in Halloween as a child, so I don't really see the big deal about it now. Yep. I'm a big old fuddy-duddy.

Stick-in-the-mud Cheryl. That's me. I don't decorate or dress up for the holiday. In my head, I mock adults who dress in silly costumes for work. But, like my feelings for a lot of other holidays, I don't publicize my true thoughts (the blog doesn't count). I just hang back and find something else to do.

I know. I'm a mom now, and I would be depriving my kids of the chance to be like all the other kids if I don't get into the swing of things. Okay. I get that. Ben isn't even two yet, so I figure I still get a year off.

Next year. I promise. Next year, we'll dress up Ben and parade him around the neighborhood, begging for candy that we probably won't let him eat much of. Anna will sit in a wagon in a cute costume and be part of the fun. I'll attach dried cornstalks to the columns in front of our house. No real pumpkins, though. Those are just asking to get smashed by some hooligans or ruffians.

This year, Chris will be handing out candy at the front door, and Ben will wear his Clifford hat around the house. We have no decorations. I thought of putting tea lights in some weighted down paper bags with cutout pumpkins on them, but the forecast is for lots of wind, and I don't feel like chasing those down the street. We don't even have a porch light installed, so I don't know how the kids will know we're open for business. Ugh. Should be fun. I'll be playing Freecell online.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Banana Epiphany

Me: Hey Chris. Did you know that our children's names together say "Banana?"
Chris gives me a puzzled look.
Me: "Ben. Anna. Benanna. Banana."
He rolls his eyes at me.
Me: "This is what I spend my days coming up with. What do you do?"
Chris: "Go to work. Earn money for the house and the family."
Me: *scoff* "Eh. Not nearly as important or as interesting as benanna."

Anna, 13 days old

Friday, October 26, 2007

Reflection on the Last

In all the reading I did leading up to having a second baby, I came across someone who said that the first time you see your firstborn after your baby is delivered, you'll be amazed at how grown up and not-babyish he is.

It's so true. I don't think it hit me until the first time I changed Ben's diaper after Anna was born. I was already used to changing the delicate newborn diapers, gently squeezing warm water over her bottom to clean off the poop without having to use harsh soapy chemicals, slowly and quietly snapping her sleeper back together so as not to disrupt her. Then there's Ben. All arms and legs and long body. 25 pounds of flailing toddler to wrestle and wrangle and pin down. Poops the size of Anna's head. Diapers bigger than the huge sanitary napkins they gave me at the hospital. He's a giant.

Anna is still a petite little thing. Less than seven pounds. Every once in a while, though, I glance down at her and it seems like she's grown again. Her cheeks are puffier, her head a big larger, her arms a little chubbier. I vaguely remember Ben being this small. And now he's not. You know what that means... soon Anna will be a toddler and no longer this precious little bundle that fits perfectly between my breasts as she sleeps while Mama blogs.

She's our last baby. We're not going to have another pregnancy. Maybe we'll add more kids to the family some day, but I'd rather adopt a toddler or preschooler. Save the babies for those families who weren't blessed with pregnancies and newborns. So she's it. The last perfect little wrinkly pink squalling babe that I can call "mine."

In ways, I'm cherishing every moment with her more than I did with Ben. The first baby was exciting and wonderful, but it was also overwhelming and exhausting (not that this isn't), and I was getting used to being a mommy. I'd stare at Ben with awe and delight, but I didn't realize how fleeting those moments would be, how empty my arms would feel when he stopped being content to just curl up in my arms to watch the world.

With Anna, I know that this won't last. If I close my eyes for too long, she'll be a little girl instead of just a little baby. There's something magical about newborns. A tiny clump of potential. I don't know what her personality will be like. For now, she's a treasure for us to nurture and love, and I'll love watching her evolve into her own person, but I still wish I could capture this time in a capsule to hold onto.

She's a week and a half old now, and she's almost completely to breast. She'll even nurse while she's sleeping, which seems like a miracle to me. I love watching her suckle when her eyes are open though. So curious and enchanted with the world, she moves her eyes back and forth and around to see what she can see, every once in a while, stopping on my face for a bit, and I feel like I've been given the most amazing gift. Those eyes are still a dark blue, and I can't help but wonder what color they'll end up. Ben's eyes were a muddy blue until after he was one, when they changed slowly to a deep chocolate brown. Maybe Anna will get Chris's blue eyes.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

What it is like

Our little Anna has been outside of my belly for 11 days now. It was odd that first weekend. I could remember everything I was doing the previous weekend when I was still pregnant. And now I'm not. Felt strange.

She's a good baby. Only has started crying in the last day or two. Sure, she doesn't really sleep on her own without being cuddled, and she eats every hour or so, but she's a good baby. Not much bothers her. It seems like it's true what they say about babies getting used to their surroundings when they are in the womb. Ben has been just as noisy as before, and she barely flinches.

On Monday and Tuesday of this week, Ben spent half days at his old daycare. He went absolutely wild with joy to go back there. The time without Ben around has been crucial for my relationship with Anna and my mental health. I'm able to ease into this whole newborn thing... It's tough, but there's something very sweet and instinctual about these early days.

He can't stay at daycare, though, and I have to figure out how to take care of both of them at the same time without help. So yesterday, Ben stayed home with us and Chris went to work. Wow. It sucked.

We really have to figure out a way to get Ben to nap. Yesterday morning, he was giving me the sleepy, naptime cues, so I put Anna in her bassinet and walked with Ben upstairs. We cuddled for a little bit, and I tucked him in. Then he freaked out and had a meltdown at the babygate, throwing his nuks and his blankets over the barrier. I went back up after 10 minutes, this time with Anna, and we cuddled some more and talked about naptime. Anna and I left, and another meltdown insued.

Maybe it was because I was desperate for a nap myself. Maybe it was because I knew that he needed a nap, too. I let him cry it out. He screamed and hollered (not crying) for 45 freaking minutes. Eventually, he passed out in his cuddle chair without a blanket and without a nuk. And he only slept for about thirty minutes. Oh well. I got some more sleep.

The afternoon went better. I set him up with a couple art projects, and he was a little happier with life. Sure, he was so unbelievably tired by dinnertime, he had huge bags under his eyes, but I survived the day without duct taping him to the highchair, so I consider it a victorious day. He went grocery shopping with Chris after dinner and went to bed without much struggle. (Of course he's gotten up about six times since then, crying whenever Anna squeaks, but hey. Can't win them all.)

I feel for the kid. I really do. This new life isn't as much fun for him. He has to share my lap with a squirmy little baby who he can't hold and hug as much as he would like. We are almost constantly doing some kind of care for Anna, and it's tough to interact with him as much as we used to. I've started singing songs with him while I'm nursing Anna, but it's not the same if I can't do the hand motions with him.

Anna is good. Love her to bits. So sweet and precious. I even love her cry. It's adorable to watch her whole face look so pitiful and miserable and hear her gasping, angry cries. She was getting really wound up this evening when we were trying to nurse, and I couldn't help but giggle. Chris thought I was nuts. Hey. It's a coping mechanism.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Interview With a Cheryl

Questions Provided By: Candace and Anna.

The way it works: She was interviewed by someone whose blog she reads. I read her blog every day, and I volunteered to let her interview me. Here are the questions she asked and my answers. If you want to volunteer to answer five itty-bitty questions, just leave a comment or send me an email. I love getting to know people, and it'll give me some use of my almost-received journalism degree.

1) I know you aren't overly fond of holidays. Tell me what you want Ben and Anna to remember about Christmas or Thanksgiving.

You're right. The holidays don't really mean much to me. I've never really gotten into the whole decorating and preparation thing. As a matter of fact, I usually forget to shop for gifts. Maybe my SAHM status will change my feelings about it (not this year, maybe next); we'll see. Regardless of whether or not I ever make wreaths or create a paper turkey centerpiece, I know already what I want Ben and Anna to remember about the holidays. Family. I'm blessed that all of my brothers and sisters live in the same state. As adults, we still try to get to my parents' house for the holidays, though sometimes we miss each other by a few hours.

For the longest time, the only children in the family were my nephews who are now 14 and 7. Two nieces were added by marriage, now ages 13 and 8. Then my sister and I got married and started families. Then my sister-in-law announced a third pregnancy. By Christmas 2008, there will be at least four children under the age of three gathered at my parents' house, creating chaos, joy and lovely memories. We have a large extended family that is totally wrapped up in our children, celebrating all the precious moments, exciting developments, etc. I want Ben and Anna to remember how focused we all were on the children in our lives.

2) What is the most sentimental thing you have in your home? Tell us about it.

This was the hardest question for me. Since college, I've worked very hard at editing my possessions. Maybe I watched too much "Clean House." I don't have a lot of keepsakes lying around. I have a few sentimental items, though I don't know which is the most sentimental and none of them are important enough to me to carry out with me if the house was on fire. I'd grab my children and their most loved things, not mine. I think this lack of sentimentality relates to my apathy for the holidays.

The sentimental items that I have include a framed cross-stitch that Chris's Grandpa Garrett made for us to commemorate our marriage. He finished it about a week before our wedding. Another is a painting of a lighthouse that his Grandma Dixie painted and gave to us as a present. Then there is the framed collage of our first year of marriage. It includes our wedding announcement, a picture of Chris kissing my cheek at our reception, pictures we had taken three weeks before Ben was born, one of which has Chris hugging my hugely pregnant belly, and our first family picture taken at the hospital with Ben all swaddled and wrinkly and cute.

Beyond those, there are some items I've kept from my years as a single girl. A wooden statue of a yogi in melancholic contemplation. The first carving I ever had really strong feelings for. He looked so sad in that pose, I knew I had to take him home with me and keep him safe while he sorted through his despair. It doesn't take a psychologist to realize that I transferred my own feelings onto the statue. For what it's worth, he's in a box in the attic right now. I also have half a dozen 5x7 framed prints of lovely fine art scenes. Lots of soft, subtle colors and happy images. I plan on hanging those on Anna's side of the room. I selected each print carefully because it reminded me of something from my childhood or something from a favorite book.

3) Nursing was a HUGE part of my relationship with my Anna. What is your favorite part of nursing? I know it is early to ask this question but I am assuming you nursed Ben as well. I am proud of you for your determination to keep trying with Anna!

My mom nursed me exclusively for the first year. She always told me that nursing her children was the most precious part of being a mother. She still recalls fondly the soft caresses of tiny little hands lovingly petting her bare skin. Naturally, the concept appealed to me.

With Ben, I expected to nurse him. Of course I also expected to go to full term with him. I didn't, and Ben struggled to go to breast. He latched on a few times, our lactation consultant approved the latch, and his pediatrician discharged him from the hospital at the normal time, not the standard 4-5 day minimum they now have for all babies who spend any time in the NICU. When we got home, we spent a frustrating two days trying to get him to breast again. He didn't. All he wanted to do was sleep. At our two-day follow-up at his pediatrician's office, we were quickly sent back to the NICU to be re-admitted. He had lost too much weight, was severely jaundiced and had the awful label of "failure to thrive." With a lot of tears, my life as a pumper began, and we made the decision to pump exclusively and give up trying to get him to breast.

With Anna, I wasn't going to just automatically start pumping without trying really hard to nurse. Part of it was remembering the words of my mother who still glows when she talks about how wonderful nursing was, part of it was that I knew how terribly hard it would be to pump all the time with a newborn and a toddler to take care of by myself. Imagine then, my utter joy when I not only got Anna to latch, but got her to nurse for ten or fifteen minutes at a time. We've had a few setbacks since she got home, but she'll go to breast at least four or five times a day. I'm loving it. I'm loving the close contact. I love how her eyes cross when she concentrates on a point right in front of her nose.

I'm not forcing the issue with her. When she's hungry, I offer her a choice of positions at each breast, but if she doesn't latch, we give her the bottle. It's getting to the point now where she'll usually go to breast at least fifty percent of the time. I only need to pump twice a day to make enough milk for all of her supplement bottles. Yay us!

4) Is it true? Does your love just grow and expand to make room for the second one?

This was something I thought about when we were thinking about another child and even more when we were expecting. Ben is my sunshine, he's my favorite part of life, he's a constant source of delight and wonder and bliss. How on earth could I feel that strongly for another baby? I didn't worry a lot about it. I just figured I'd deal with whatever happens when it happened.

When Anna was born, I was immediately filled with overwhelming tenderness and concern. Did I love her the same way as I love Ben? No. It's different. A lot of my feelings for Ben involve our history together, how we've bonded over the months, the love and laughter we've shared, etc. It's not just instinctual mother love. I love Anna, and I'm falling more in love with her every day. The place where Anna is in my heart is separate from Ben, so she's not replacing him or crowding him out, and my love for Ben is not constricting my ability to love Anna.

By the way, Candace, you're right about postpartum depression affecting the bonding process. When I had that meltdown a few days postpartum, I was ready to leave. Just pack up my stuff and get the heck out of town. I wanted to leave Chris, Ben and Anna and just go away and not ever have to be a mother or a wife again. It just shows you how much depression can overtake any feelings of love and commitment. My hormones are balanced better now, and I'm back to my usual self for the most part.

5) What is your dream vacation (family or couple)? Where would you go and what would you be sure to do?

In reality, any vacations we take as a family "need" to be to visit Chris's family since they live so far away and have only seen Ben once. We're going in February. In my head, I know exactly what I'd rather do.

Before I became a proofreader, I was a nanny for a lovely family in town. They weren't filthy rich, but comfortably well off and with some family money. Their extended family owns a villa in the Bahamas. They let me and a friend use the villa for a week several years back. It was lovely. Absolutely wonderful. It's a very quiet location, not very public and touristy. Perfect for children. That's where I'd go with my family. We'd wake up in the mornings and cook pancakes. Then we'd go for a walk on the beach and build sandcastles.

The End.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Home Again Jiggety Jig

Anna was discharged yesterday afternoon. I was shocked, but happy. She was eating well in the hospital, all of her blood tests were coming back fine, and she wasn't overly jaundiced (a 9.7 at that point). So I intermittently packed up our room and nursed her throughout the day, waiting for the eventual discharge that takes so long.

Ben and my mom stopped by for an hour, and Ben got to spend some quality time with Anna. So darn cute. Hurt to breathe. When he came into the room, he walked right up to me holding her, and gave her a big hug and pet her head like she was a cat. Then we went though the labeling game. "Where's Anna's ear?" "Where's Anna's hand?" "Where's Anna's nose?" That last one was probably a mistake since he promptly shoved his finger up her nostril.

We took the obligatory pictures of Ben holding her on his lap. He was very gentle with her, and even pressed his cheek against hers a few times. His excitement levels kept growing, and he got a little manic. Soon, he was bored and shoved her off of his lap, and I had to catch her quickly and bring her back to the safety of my arms. I laughed at that, since it was so typical and so totally what he does with his baby doll.

Ben smiled and pulled her back onto his lap and pulled a blanket over her like he was tucking her in. I laughed at that, too, since it was so sweet. Something clicked in Ben's head, and he figured out a great way to get Mommy to laugh. He shoved her off of his lap immediately, and then quickly pulled her back on, covering her with a blanket. Then shove. Then pull back. Blanket. Repeat about four times until I was totally sure that he was just doing it for my reaction, which was joy and laughter and amusement.

For the record, I was guiding Anna back and forth and at no time was she actually in danger.

My mom took Ben home with her to Minocqua so Chris and I will have a couple of days home with Anna alone. We're busy with Anna, but the house feels so empty without him. He'll be brought back tomorrow evening, and then the fun will really begin.

Anna has been a sweetheart, and Chris and I are very busy falling more in love with her every second. When we got home, she decided she wasn't going to nurse anymore. My milk had come in like gangbusters, and I'm hard as a rock. Even with the engorgement, she still has to suck at least fifteen times before the flow starts, and she got so frustrated and refused. Over and over again. We're on orders to supplement her nursing with either expressed breastmilk or formula every two to three hours, so she wasn't starving, but it was still kind of upsetting that we were taking a step back with the whole nursing thing. I pumped a couple of times, and I'm producing so much, we now have a supply of breastmilk for more than eight supplemental feedings.

This morning before we left the house for her NICU check, she finally came around and nursed. She did it twice before our appointment. She was so hungry after we gave her the little bottle of supplement, but she wasn't starving enough to freak out with frustration. Such a relief to finally get that going again.

I made a promise to myself that even if she kept refusing to nurse, I wasn't going to give up, and I would keep trying to get her to breast for at least a month before letting go of that dream and just pumping. Her neonatalogist says that after two weeks, I can wean her off of the supplements and can insist on her going to the breast, and just wait it out until she gets hungry enough to do it. But we can't do that until she's at least gained enough weight to be at her birth weight again. (6 lbs 8.1 oz, today at 6 lbs 1.5 oz). I have faith that she'll keep up with the nursing though.

Her jaundice level is up. She's an 11.7 today, but that's still low enough to forego treatment. We have another appointment tomorrow afternoon, so we'll see how she's doing then. We have to keep feeding her almost constantly to keep her bile levels down, but that's okay.

Right now, Chris is at work for the afternoon, and Anna is curled up against my chest, fast asleep. The laptop is resting on the boppy on my lap. Life is pretty good. I could fall asleep at a moment's notice, but that's normal.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Portrait of an Anna as a newborn

Anna is out of the isolette now and in a little crib. She's totally off oxygen and is keeping her temperature up well. Hopefully, the IV will be off by tomorrow. The best news of all: They're letting me put her to breast every three hours, and she's actually latching on and sucking for a few seconds before she loses interest. The first time she actually wrapped her mouth around my nipple, I felt like Super Mommy.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Time For A Story

Here's a more detailed version of Anna's birth story.

I was sound asleep when I felt the subtle "pop" down below that reminded me of Ben's "pop." Chris was still at work, as he is every Saturday night. I stayed in bed, not moving, holding my breath in wonder. After about three minutes, I had a sharp contraction that felt more painful than the ones I usually had in bed. When I shifted position to get out of bed to use the restroom, I felt the gush of water that confirmed my suspicion that my membranes had ruptured.

I waddled to the bathroom, fluid leaking slowly down my legs. After spending a minute on the toilet, releasing more of the water, I went slowly into action. I called Chris at work and told him it was "go time." I called my mother to tell her it was Anna's birthday. She needed to be called since she was going to be Ben's childcare during the labor and delivery process.

Since I hadn't taken a shower at all on Saturday, I stripped down and climbed on in, washing quickly and enjoying the warm water through a couple more contractions. Chris came home while I was in there, and boy, was he mad that I was on my feet. I told him to bite me. I said it could be hours before I delivered, and I didn't want to be stinky through that whole ordeal.

While Chris was running around like a headless chicken, packing our still unpacked hospital bag, gathering clothes for me to wear, etc., I dried off and got dressed again, then again since I quickly soaked my pants when the next contraction provided another deluge of fluid. Chris woke up Ben and got him bundled into his jacket and blanket, and we all piled into the car with me sitting on a much-needed towel.

I was contracting every three minutes, and they were quite uncomfortable. I was irritable and snapping at Chris for talking to me while I was concentrating. We live ten minutes from the birthing center, so the trip didn't take long. He got me a wheelchair, and our little family rode the elevator to that wonderful destination where they provide epidurals and drugs.

By the time I got undressed and into bed, my contractions were awful. The first thing I said to my nurse was that I wanted the epidural ordered as soon as possible. She said we'd have to wait for my doctor to get there and she'd have to check my dilation. Soon, I was contracting every two minutes, and I was crying and wailing through each one. The nurse checked me and said she had good news and bad news. The bad news was that there wouldn't be time for an epidural, and the good news was that I was already 8 centimeters dilated. I cried even harder.

Mind you, poor Ben was in the room for this whole thing. He was sitting on the couch on the other side of the room, bundled in his cuddle blanket, watching all the flurry. My mom lives 75 minutes away, but we were expecting hours of labor and time for drugs, so we hadn't arranged any immediate childcare for Ben. That was a mistake. By 2:40, I was screaming with every contraction, begging for drugs over and over again. The nurses took Ben out to the nurses station where he stayed and played catch with them and played happily.

Everything went so quickly, though it felt like an eternity to me at the time. I was on my left side, hanging onto the side rail for dear life while my body put me through the most awful agonies. Chris stayed behind me, massaging my low back as hard as he could. The only time I even felt like talking to him was to hurt him for yelling at me to breathe through the contractions. I couldn't concentrate enough to breathe. I have a low tolerance for pain, and I was in a total panic with how intense "transitioning" was.

Around 3:15, amid the terrible spasms, I felt a sudden burning down below, and my instinct was to crawl out of my body, away from the pain. I screamed, "The baby is coming!," and my nurse told me that it wasn't possible since the doctor wasn't even there yet. I told her I didn't think that would matter, and a whole rush of people came into the room, rushing to get ready. My doctor walked in at that moment and quickly suited up while everybody was yelling at me not to push. I still don't know how women manage not to push in moments like that. My body was acting on its own, and I had no control over it. I did manage to not push really hard, and they did get the bottom of the bed removed, my feet into stirrups and an incredibly quick cervical exam to verify that I was complete.

Five seconds later, another contraction rocked my body, and I pushed with all my might. I took a quick breath and pushed hard again, and in the middle of that push, Anna shot out like a torpedo. There wasn't a delay after the head was delivered where they could suck out her nose and mouth. There wasn't a pause for the next contraction. I felt a rush of pressure and felt her slithering out, all slick and bumpy. The ring of fire people talk about had happened before I had even gotten into position, since I was already crowning when I screamed that she was coming.

She was quickly put in an isolette where they rubbed her and sucked out all the gunk and vigorously handled her until she cried. They kept working on her while my doctor stood in front of me with her gloved fingers in my whacker, massaging me until I had another contraction when I expelled the placenta. They swaddled Anna and let me hold her for a second before they took her to the NICU.

My OB was shocked by the state of my placenta. She said it was what a 41-week placenta should look like. Very calcified and aged. "No wonder you delivered at 34 weeks." She hypothesized that I had probably never implanted very well.

She worked on cleaning me up, and ended up having to put in a row of stitches almost a centimeter long. Since I delivered so quickly, my skin had absolutely no time to stretch, and I ripped right open. Oh well.

After it was all over, I was just in shock as to how quickly everything went. And I was just a little miffed that once again, I probably wouldn't get a lot of respect from my friends about my childbirth experience. With Ben, I wimped out and had an epidural, so that birth didn't count. With Anna, sure it was natural, but it only lasted an hour and a half. :)

My mom arrived about 15 minutes after the birth, much to her shock and sheer surprise. She stayed for about 30 minutes until she and Chris got the go-ahead to see Anna for the first time in the NICU. Ben was wired like a top, and she took him home to wind down and sleep.

So where are things now? Anna was on her CPAP oxygen machine all day, though I went into the NICU often to hold her hand and touch her and marvel over how damn cute she is. Surprisingly dark hair and perfect features. They finally took her off the machine around 6 pm this evening, and they'll let me feed her tonight at 9. I've been pumping all day to get a supply going, and I'm looking forward to getting her to latch on so we can stop washing the darn pump parts.

Ben has visited me a few times when my mom brought over visitors, but he won't be able to see Anna until she's in my room and out of the NICU.

I can hardly wait to hold her close and nuzzle her. I've been beaming all day, happy as a lark and oh so proud. I have a daughter!

She's Here!

I'll write out a full birth story later, but for now, I'll just share the main points.

I kept contracting on Friday and yesterday, even with the procardia. My bedrest became more total, but I wasn't very uncomfortable.

My water broke last night around 1:45. We got to the hospital at 2:15. I was 8 centimeters dilated already, and they cruelly refused to even consider giving me any pain medication. :) Jerks.

At 3:15, my doctor hadn't come in the room yet, but I felt Anna crowning. I screamed, "That baby's coming," and involuntarily started pushing while they were shifting me over onto my back. My doctor jumped into her scrubs and quickly checked my cervix, but Anna was halfway through the canal already. It took a push and a half to get her out. She was born at 3:20.

6 lbs. 8 oz.
18.5 in.

She's doing quite well, considering how early she is. She's on an oxygen machine, and I haven't been able to hold her yet, though I get to talk to her and touch her a lot.

Isn't that a kick in the pants? Such an insanely quick labor. I'm doing okay. Started pumping already, and I'm already expressing a decent amount. Anna should be off of the machines by tomorrow morning.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

My New Job

I'm no longer a stay-at-home mom. I'm a stay-at-home pregnant lady.

I was discharged this morning with a prescription for procardia to relax my uterus. I'm on total bedrest with bathroom privileges.

So how does a mother of a toddler go on complete bedrest? Yeah. I don't know. For now, my mom is taking my precious sweet boy home with her until tomorrow night. Chris will be here over the weekend. And next week, we'll play it by ear. My mom can come down a couple times at the beginning of the week, and we might have to have Ben go back to daycare closer to the end of the week.

I will be bored out of my mind without Ben here to keep me company. While I was in the hospital, I started working on some concepts for Anna's birth announcements. What's the use of having a mommy with reasonable graphic design abilities if you don't get kick ass announcements? As a special offer to my readers, if you'd like to receive one, just leave a comment and I'll contact you by email to get your address.

My hospital stay got rather exciting yesterday afternoon. After my magnesium was increased because I was dilating and thinning, I started getting really nauseated and uncomfortable. Felt like I either had to vomit or crap my butt out. I managed to have a BM, but things only went downhill after that. I got so groggy and pale and shaky. Chris pressed the call light when my skin color turned pale yellow. By the time the nurse came in, I was almost unconscious. I remember lots of panic and things happening around me, but I couldn't for the life of me respond very well to anybody. I couldn't take anything but very shallow breaths and my eyes wouldn't stay open. Very odd feeling.

It was a small room meant for mothers who are recovering from c-sections, so when all of a sudden there were three or four nurses in the room, scrambling, it was loud, bright and chaotic. My nurse stopped my magnesium drip right away and ordered a stat blood draw for mag levels. I got an oxygen mask. After about fifteen or twenty minutes off of the magnesium, I started coming around again. It was a slow climb, but eventually I was better. It was about an hour before I could walk again, so I had the indignity of using a bedpan. I was perfectly normal two hours later.

The weirdest part of the whole debacle was that my mag levels weren't toxic, I just started reacting very badly to it, even at the normal level. They can't explain it, but I don't think I was faking it or just trying to get attention.

While on the procardia from then on, the contractions were minimal and didn't extend throughout the uterus so they didn't show up on the monitor. By this morning, I had only had a handful of cramps overnight. So I got the greenlight to get the damn IV out of my hand. I HATE IVs. They hurt, they are uncomfortable, and I hate having to drag the IV stand with me into the bathroom.

Anyway. I'm home now. I might be blogging more often. Might not. It depends on if I come up with anything dazzling to say. In the meantime, enjoy a terrible picture of me in triage!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A Mind of Her Own

So late yesterday afternoon, my Braxton-Hicks contractions changed in feeling. More like a burning. I called my OB's office to ask if I should do anything, and I was told to go to the birthing center to get checked.

I did. We were there by 4:45 pm. And I'm still here. My contractions were crazy regular, like every five to eight minutes. I was only dilated to a fingertip and very "thick", but they gave me shots of that "t" word stuff to try to halt the contractions. They didn't work, even after three doses.

I was off of drugs for the overnight for observation to see what would happen. I wasn't dilated anymore by morning, but my contractions weren't going away. My doctor ordered a course of magnesium and a shot of steroids to help Anna's lungs develop a bit more.

The magnesium hasn't been doing its job. An OB checked me around one, and I was dilated to two centimeters and thinning. They upped my dose of magnesium a bit, but there's not much else they'll try to do to stop labor from starting. I've been contracting regularly. They are tolerable, just uncomfortable. I'm only miserable because of the IV in my hand that hurts like hell and the fact that the IV makes me have to pee almost constantly and I can't just get up and go when I want because I'm hooked up to everything. (I refused the catheter.)

So tomorrow morning, they'll check me again. If I haven't dilated anymore, they'll probably send me home to wait for active labor to start. Isn't life interesting?

Monday, October 08, 2007

Thunderstorm Invitation

I had a talk with the baby in my belly yesterday after I read the weather forecast. The forecast called for thunderstorms throughout the day on Monday (today) followed by a nice, long cold front.

And since I'm rather superstitious about today anyway, I told Anna that she was welcome to come on this fateful day.

There's a few reasons for this. 1. I love thunderstorms with a passion, and I think it'd be rather romantic to have a baby during one, especially when there's very little risk of the scary stuff like tornadoes. 2. Thunderstorms in October in Wisconsin are rather rare, and we probably won't get another chance. 3. It'll be the last hot day in a long time (hopefully months), and we don't have central air, but the hospital does. 4. Ben was born at the end of a three-day weekend, too, and this is our last three-day weekend before her due date.

Having explained all of this to Anna, it's entirely up to her. No pressure. She'll do whatever she wants to do, and if it won't be today, I'd rather she wait another couple of weeks.

When my doctor said she'd see me in two weeks, I almost scoffed at her and I had this insane idea to bet her fifty bucks that I'd see her at the birthing center before our next appointment. I didn't because I was depressed at the time and didn't have the energy for a witty exchange of words.

So anyway. At my last appointment, I asked for a bladder infection test. And since the nurse didn't give me any anti-septic wipes, I had a feeling the sample would be contaminated. And it was. But they did find yeast. Which means that I have a yeast infection. Now that news I wanted to argue with. I haven't had sex in over two months and I wasn't itchy or having the yucky discharge. But if yeast shows up, I must have an infection, so I have to treat it.

I hate treating a yeast infection almost more than having one (when I have the symptoms). I'm very sensitive to the creams, and it makes me burn. The cream inserts haven't been very effective for me in the past, but I certainly can't take the oral meds while I'm pregnant. Oh well. If I do go into labor this week, I feel bad for the nurses at the birthing center who will have to check me.

I'm thirty-four weeks now. Still very early, still in the preemie territory, but getting safer and safer every day.

This week should go by quickly. Chris is home from work today (thank you Mr. Columbus), Ben has a doctor's appointment that I have to take him to by myself tomorrow morning, and my mom is going to be in town on Wednesday.

Update: It's almost seven in the evening, and Anna hasn't initiated any real excitement (although I just realized that it's been three days since I had a bowel movement, and that's while on stool softeners, folks). Sure, there's a chance some fun stuff could still happen tonight, but I'd have to really hurry to get her out before midnight. And besides. There wasn't any thunder this afternoon, just a lot of rain. Such a letdown.

Friday, October 05, 2007

The Baby Doll

Ben has started playing with the baby doll we bought him a few months ago when we learned we were having a girl. He loves babies in general, and he's very sweet about greeting babies we meet. So it's interesting to see what he does with the doll.

Forty percent of the time, he plays "mommy" or "daddy." He cuddles and nuzzles the baby, feeds the baby from his sippy cup, takes the baby for motorcycle rides around the house with the baby draped over the handlebars. It's freaking adorable.

Considering that before, his only play with the baby doll included shoving her head first down his potty chair, I feel he's showing real progress. The other sixty percent of the time still involves stuff like that. He tosses her across the room to see how far she'll fly. I'm just waiting for him to realize what a thrill it would be to throw her through the basketball hoop.

We've realized he's just too young to understand what we're talking about when we discuss a baby in mommy's belly or bringing a baby home or living with a baby. He doesn't get it. That's okay. We've taught him the trick of rubbing my belly and saying "baby." Of course he rubs Chris's belly and says the same, also his own.

I think once the reality is here (reality, thy name is Anna), he'll have a few weeks of rough transition, and then he'll be fine. I think he'll love her a lot. And I think I'll spend a lot of my time encouraging him not to crawl all over her like a jungle gym.

A note about depression:
Last night I realized there's probably not enough Zoloft in the whole world. Living with depression is odd. I find lots of moments of pure joy during the day. I enjoy Ben and my husband. But I have these moments and hours where I just crash into wallows of ick and despondency.

I've convinced myself that all this awful cramping and contractions and "wrongness" that my body is feeling is totally normal and I'm just a whiner. Who the hell cares if I can't walk around my house for more than five minutes without doubling over in pain and almost collapsing from the strain. I doubt my OB will even check my cervix. I'm just going to be a prisoner here until I finally get to go to the hospital to deliver this baby.

Poor Ben is stuck here with me. I can't take him outside because I can't walk without having terrible contractions. I give him free rein in the house, more or less, and he gets to climb on things and run, but he gets most of his activity when Daddy comes home at night.

These "blues" are debilitating at times. I totally get the whole thing about one of the major problems with pregnant women being depressed is that they don't take care of themselves. I find myself skipping meals because "I just don't care anymore" about eating. My OB appointment was rescheduled to this morning, and I wasn't that upset. As a matter of fact, I don't even want to go today. What's the point? I don't feel the need to go somewhere to have someone tell me that everything I'm feeling is totally normal and nothing to worry about. Anna's still jumping around in me like crazy, so she's probably doing just fine. So why bother going?

I have a husband who cares about me, and he's making me go anyway.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Gate

Last Friday night, a momentous event occured in our lives. While we were fruitlessly trying to get Ben to settle down and go to sleep at my parents' house, he managed to climb out of a packnplay. I felt a sense of foreboding, trouble to come, tribulations down the road.

And I was right.

My son is a climber. His favorite activity is to find an obstacle course and climb it over and over again. Yesterday evening, for example, the course included launching himself up on my legs (that were perched on the ottoman), climbing onto said ottoman, squirming onto Daddy's legs (that were perpendicular to mine), onto his lap, and then launching himself over the edge of the chair to do a handstand on the floor and then a "thump" to to the ground. We counted. He did this twenty-one times. A few instances, he'd change up the routine and crawl in a circle on the floor around the ottoman, underneath the tent of our legs.

Other times, he'll simply climb up on a blanket chest to jump on a bed and then dive off of the bed to the floor in an attempt to do a flying somersault. Sometimes he is successful. Mostly he's not, but he rarely complains, unless he lands on a dump truck or the edge of a laundry basket.

So when he climbed out of the packnplay, I knew our time was up.

For the last several months (since February), our precious one-year-old has had the easiest bedtime routine ever. At some point between seven and seven-thirty, we see the signs of sleepiness. The delayed reaction time, the glazed over eyes, the tendency to fuss. And we suggest he head upstairs to go to sleep. About ninety percent of the time, he takes our advice and starts climbing the stairs, with Daddy in pursuit. Once upstairs, they may cuddle for a few minutes, and then Ben crawls into his bed on his own and finds his nuk, Chris pulls up the sheet and sweeps the blanket over him, up to his chin, Ben holds out his arm to then place on top of the blanket to tuck himself in. "Good night, buddy. Sweet dreams." The lullaby cd gets turned on, and Chris leaves the room and locks the gate (there's not a door to Ben's room).

And Ben falls asleep. Every once in a while, he'll wake up in the middle of the night crying. If his cries aren't the intense I-fell-out-of-bed-and-I'm-frightened or the I-had-a-bad-dream cries, we usually let him be. He cries at the gate for less than a minute, and then he puts himself back to bed. In the morning, he starts talking and moving about upstairs, and I head up to open the gate and cuddle with him for a while before he's ready to brave the downstairs.

So that's all over now. Our wonderful little boy didn't want to go to sleep last night, and we finally just locked the gate on him at 9 pm. (In fairness, my mom is here, and he was excited.) He screamed for about a minute, then we heard a thump, the pitter patter of tiny feet, and the quiet shush-bump-swish-bump of him coming downstairs on his little diapered butt.

He made it over the gate. What the hell are we going to do now?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

If a Baby Drops in the Forest

Yesterday morning, Anna dropped. She's now very engaged in my pelvis.

There's a few downsides to this. 1. I'm only 33 weeks, and with Ben, I dropped only four days before my water broke. 2. She's not a large baby like Ben was. I doubt she's even five pounds right now. 3. The extra pressure causes almost constant cervical spasms whenever I move, sometimes even when I'm just sitting. So now I can't walk around much and bending over is a joke.

My OB is on her honeymoon until tomorrow. I have an appointment tomorrow around lunch time. I wonder what she'll say about my silly baby.

Like rubbing salt into the wound, I'm also on stool softeners, but I still can't poop.

My dear mother is on a state-wide tour to visit her grandbabies. She has two in Green Bay, three in Oshkosh and of course one here in Wausau. That's not including the two that are gestating. Ben, Anna and I are on the itinerary for an overnight tonight and the whole day tomorrow. It'll be nice to have her here, especially since she'll be cooking the whole time she's here. Our meals, but also extra stuff we can freeze.

She's threatened to take Ben home with her for the rest of the week if the doctor is worried about Anna. I think I would go absolutely insane if I were stuck here in the house without Ben to keep me company. Right now he's playing kick the can with an empty soda can. It's very loud, and he loves loud activities.