Friday, April 16, 2010


So, it's just hard to write while you're drastically trying to keep up with the basic laundry/groceries/billpaying/etc., even with an "easy" baby. But you already know that, don't you?

Just so you know, and "easy" baby isn't all that easy. I mean, he does wail inconsolably sometimes. He does want to eat every hour for at least part of the day. He gets fidgety in his car seat and he doesn't like to have his diaper changed. But that all seems kinda normal for a baby, so it's more or less what I expected.

My daughter was colicky and fussy and demanding and sensitive. I remember walking around the house with her for hours at a time, singing and rocking and patting and desperately hoping she'd conk out. Which she would, only to wake about two seconds after I carefully transferred her from my arms to a spot in her crib which had been strategically pre-warmed with a hot-water bottle. The frustration was so aggravating that I would cry at least twice a day.

This little guy is a piece of cake in comparison. He'll sit in his bouncy seat and stare at the light fixtures until he drifts off to sleep. (Sometimes.) He'll wake up and just coo for me instead of screaming his head off if I'm not right there. (Sometimes.) He'll gaze wondrously at the thrill of a warm bath, at the feeling of the water rinsing his head, at the leg massage I give him afterwards while he has some diaper-free time. I am astounded at the sheer amount of time that goes by while he actually looks happy. Which may sound ridiculous, but my daughter was so high-strung as a new baby that she had to be held all the time. One of her first words was "carry-you" since she didn't understand direct pronouns and we were always saying "Okay, I'll carry you" or "Do you want Daddy to carry you?". She said it like one word with a badly pronounced R, "kewwiyew."

Anyway, he's so much more laid back that I can put him in his baby-lounger in the bathroom and take a shower - or cook dinner, whatever has to be done. He wouldn't be happy in there forever, but I can get a half hour or so when he's fed and burped and freshly-diapered. He'll just watch us move around and turn his head to follow the sounds of our voices. He seems fine with just observing and relaxing. Or his eyelids will just get lower and lower and he'll conk out. Then we can have about 90 minutes, which seems like forever. It's kind of unnerving, really - I keep wondering if something's wrong with him, but hopefully he's just a mellow guy.

So, I'm not exactly at my wit's end, but I am trying to get one house ready to sell and organize another. I found a nanny-sharing arrangement, which is great, but I need to get to know her a bit before I decide if it's permanent. I had been telling everyone I knew that I wanted a nanny-share, hoping that something would eventually come of it. I didn't expect it to work out so soon, but it was too good to pass up. The other mother has 3 year old twins, so I think the nanny is happy to have a mellow newborn three days a week. She hangs out with him while I dash between houses - seems like she has the better part of the arrangement, but at least I am almost done moving.

Anyway, that's me these days. Mellow baby, part-time nanny, not working for at least a few more months... and I'm still propping my eyelids open sometimes, moaning about my creaky back and realizing almost every afternoon that I haven't eaten since six in the morning. If I am ever done fixing up the old house, landscaping the new one and figuring out how to get rid of half my husband's old junk without him knowing about it, I might actually worry about some kind of exercise. Meanwhile, elastic waists for me...

Friday, April 2, 2010

Post-Partum Post

So, the birth. I've tried to write this so many times and it always comes out rambly and bitter and weepy and just too long. I'll try to stick to just the facts, ma'am.

I was on low-dose pitocin overnight and my cervix didn't budge. I had been walking around at about 2 cm and when the doctor checked me at 9:00 am it was still 2 cm. So, my water was broken and the pitocin was turned up and my doctor was supposed to come back around 11:30 to check my cervix again. The nurses told my husband that I'd probably have the baby around 4 or 5 that afternoon, so he left to get some breakfast. My doula had called earlier to find out if she had time to take her kids to school, and was stuck in horrible traffic. I figured the contractions weren't that bad, so I'd be okay for a while.

You see where this is going, don't you? The contractions got steadily stronger and closer together until they were a minute and a half apart and lasted almost a minute each - so, thirty seconds of recovery between each little bout of agony. My husband came back as soon as I called him, but by then I was moaning for the anesthesiologist. My doula didn't even try to talk me out of the epidural - she took one look at me and said that the baby looked great on the monitor and that was all that mattered.

At that point I didn't care about the whole needle in the spine thing anymore. The nurse told me it would be just four more contractions and then I wouldn't feel them. After the fourth contraction the pain was somewhat duller than it had been, but mostly it had just shifted. It was less abdominal and more concentrated right between my legs. I kept saying that it still hurt and the nurse said that it should be getting better. Um, no, actually.

Then they were checking my cervix and telling me not to push yet and asking if I could wiggle my toes (yes) and my husband was putting the swing-tilt lens on his camera (a way of getting only some of the field in focus, which was one of my conditions of being photographed in the delivery room) and then my OB was there and I was having the baby. It was 11:00.

Everybody kept telling me when to push and when to hold my breath. I couldn't feel the contractions at all anymore but I could feel my skin tearing. I was screaming like I was auditioning for a horror movie. I couldn't believe that I had given in and gotten the epidural and I was in excruciating pain anyway. I heard the nurse talking about novacaine and then I could feel the needles and I just hoped I would pass out from the pain.

Maybe I did pass out, because the next thing I knew I could hear non-stop crying and somebody was handing me a baby. My baby. After 13 minutes of Really? This little puffy faced eskimo baby? I was still crying and holding him and my doctor said I had a little tear and needed stitches. No kidding, huh? Then the nurse was asking me to wiggle my toes, asking if I could stand up.

They took me to the postpartum room and gave me percocet. I finally slept for hours while my husband held the baby. When I woke up everything hurt and there was blood all over and I had swelled up so much that I couldn't even put my flip flips on to go into the bathroom. I had to walk with my toes curled under because it hurt so much to put any weight on my giant feet.

I was okay as long as the percocet kept me from feeling to much or thinking too much about anything. But they won't send you home with it, so I had to settle for vicodin, which just makes me feel stupid and constipated. I kept swelling for about a week after the birth - retained IV fluids, supposedly. I only lost about nine pounds after delivery because I was so full of excess fluid - and the baby was 7lbs 4 oz of that.

A few days later I stood up and blood poured down my legs, soaking my jeans. When I tried to wash up, clots the size of dessert plates came out in the shower. I had to go in for a uterine "massage" (external squishing) and a speculum exam, which believe me is NOT a good idea with fresh stitches in that general area. I drew the line at the vaginal ultrasound. Not a chance.

Whoever says there is "no medal" for having a medication-free birth is way off track. Who cares about even the stupid idea of a medal when you can't even hold your new baby because you're zonked out on narcotics? When you're hobbling to the bathroom while blood is soaking through your third pair of pants?

The only reason any of it was worth it was that when the doctor broke my water there really wasn't any in there. The baby had stopped moving much in the day and a half before I was induced, so things were definitely getting more precarious. And of course I would do anything to make sure that this baby was okay. And he is - he's great. More than great - he's a relaxed little guy, a good sleeper, breastfeeding is going well. I mean, it's exhausting but I couldn't really ask for an easier baby unless I was being wildly unrealistic.

I'll always feel sort of bitter about the whole birth experience, just because I felt like nobody cared how I was doing in anything but a technical way. My blood pressure was good and my oxygen was fine, so it didn't matter that I was completely dilated and still getting the maximum pitocin drip. And why bother checking me before the epidural? Just get the drugs into me and maybe I'll stop moaning so annoyingly.

Obviously, the most important thing is that in the long run everything is fine. And the truth is, after that first week, I'm doing pretty well. All the swelling and bleeding and pain is gone and I've lost about 25 pounds now. I'm getting almost eight hours of sleep at night (usually two, two and then four) plus a nap in the afternoon. I'm easing back into life again, going to baby-massage classes once a week and doing some strollering in hopes of someday actually exercising.

In the meanwhile, I will write about my mother's impending visit, the fact that somebody has already offered to buy my baby, and how to buy trees. Plus, maybe another photo or two of the little guy?