Sunday, May 24, 2009

I'd Rather Be Shot



With all of the excitement of my birthday last week, I forgot to write about a major event in our little girl's life. (Weezy, please forgive Mama for being so self-absorbed.) Our sweet, darling, gorgeous baby girl had her first shots and I mean to tell you- they nearly killed me. (There I go being self-absorbed again. Sorry.) Ugh! It was awful! The whole experience was stressful. We started the day off smoothly. I swallowed my nervousness and focused on getting us ready and out the door by a reasonable time. This, I've learned, is often easier said then done. Most of the time I can get Eloise and myself up, fed, dressed, and ready to go within an hour and a half. I have a complicated system involving boobs, burps, bouncy seats, and bribery. The system works like clockwork... until it doesn't. Then all hell breaks loose. The system generally hangs-up when we have another B-word; blow-out. Blow-outs are a real bitch (to continue with the B-theme). On the morning of Eloise's first shots she had not one, not two, but three blow-outs and a spit-up. That is four outfits, people! It is no wonder the laundry is never done.
Once we finally got out the door, I started the drive into the city. Eloise is not in love, or really even in like, with her car-seat. Like her mother, she cannot be bound. So she cried until I remembered her affection for country music. As Kenny Rogers (she is an old school gal) crooned in the back-ground, Weezy softly snored in the back seat and I battled Monday afternoon San Francisco traffic. We left at 2:00pm for our 3:00pm appointment. At 2:50pm I finally pulled in front of the parking garage which is conveniently located about ten feet from the pediatric building entrance.


Or rather it would have been convenient if the lot had not been full. I panicked. I had counted on Brake's TomTom to direct me this far and I didn't know how to reprogram while stuck in traffic. Horns honking and TomTom's clipped British voice chirping, "You have reached your destination. You have reached your destination," I made a snap decision and randomly turned left. Then right. Then left again. I am not the best driver under optimal circumstances. The traffic, the appointment time, and my anxiety about her immunizations proved to be too much and by the time I found another parking garage and I had hiked six blocks with Weezy sloshing around in her sling, I was a sweating, swearing mess.


While in the waiting room I noticed another mom calm, cool, and collected with her baby who looked to be about Weezy's age. In her bag I spied (I am nosy like that) Baby Tylenol. Crap! The one thing the appointment reminder nurse had told me was to remember to give Weezy Tylenol before her shots so that they would not hurt too badly. I was a bad mom. I forgot. Sigh.


Once in the appointment I began to relax. We saw Eloise's pediatrician, whom we adore. We were supposed to transfer to the office 10 minutes from our house once Weezy's jaundice cleared up, but we like Dr. A. so much that I bear the drive to the city for her appointments. I liked this part of the day. This was where Dr. A. told me that my perfect girl is adorable and healthy. I know that all parents think their kid is aces, but I think we can all agree that the Weez is truly, exceptionally cute yet also brilliantly beautiful. Dr. A. certainly seems to think so. That lady has got great taste!


Then the moment I'd been dreading for days: the needle (dunh, duh, dunh, duh)! Weezy was scheduled to get three shots and a nasal vaccine. The needle was huge! It seemed several inches long. Now my girl has got luscious thighs, but I still don't see how a needle that long did not pierce bone. When the needle bit, Weezy went strait as an arrow, screamed louder than she had ever screamed before and her poor face turned beet-red. By the time needle two and three hit her I too was bright red with tears in my eyes. Crying tears, you ask? No, tears of laughter. I, the worst mom in the world, was having one of my very-typical (unfortunately) inappropriate reactions. I was laughing almost as loudly as she was crying. The poor nurse must have thought I was nuts, and as soon as we could we hightailed it out of the injection room (What an awful name!) into a private exam room where Eloise had a little nosh and I loved my poor baby with food to finish off my A+ parenting for the day.


On the way home Weezy slept and I pulled myself together. Brakes was waiting for us with open arms and we spent the rest of the night huddled together with our little baby putting compresses on her bitty bruises and doling out baby Tylenol. She didn't get a fever, which is what I was so worried about, she was just a little more sensitive than usual. All in all, she handled her shots really well, though I think she would agree, perhaps Daddy should take her next time.

Lots (and Locks) of Love

Friday was my birthday. There are a few things I take very seriously in this life; my health, my family, and my birthday. Ask anyone who knows me, I start anticipating my special day at least a month in advance and in the days leading up to May 22nd poor Brakes is bombarded with questions (nags) about my gift and what fabulous event he has planned to celebrate me (I've never claimed humility). It must be spectacular and it must be a surprise. Needless to say, Brakes somewhat despises my birthday and likely the whole month of May. Around May 18th I begin having an irrational middle-child-esque fear that people will forget my birthday or that it will not be a big enough deal. By the time my birthday eve (which I absolutely do celebrate) rolls around I am practically in a frenzy of worry and anticipation; excited yet scared all at the same time...
Well, this year (and to be honest, every year before this year too, I told you my concerns are irrational) I had no need to fear! My husband came up with the most special, most thoughtful, most fantastic birthday present/event ever! He got me a... MAKEOVER!!!!!!!
I love makeup and I am especially vain about my long and luxurious hair however as of late I have been feeling a little lack-luster about my appearance. Call it the baby weight or maybe it is the lack-of-sleep induced black circles under my eyes, but my self-image has shifted slightly since the baby was born. I no longer pass each mirror with a wink and a smile (to my reflection: "loooookiiin gooooood!") and I'll admit there has been some swearing in the bedroom when I try on yet another pair of pre-baby pants that don't fit anymore. Apparently Brakes noticed my sentiment and decided to do something to address the problem head-on. He instituted: Project MILF (Mom I'd Like to Flirt With (I am a nice girl after all). He called his sister, Diana, (who happens to be my BFF and a total beauty guru) and said, "Make it happen!" She planned a fabulous day in the city complete with a trip to my new Mecca, Sephora, and an overhaul by Miss Sarah Mya (http://misssarahmya.com/).
My look, while formerly fabulous, was in definite need of an overhaul! I've had the same hair and make-up routine for the last 9 years; it was time for a change.
Lovely Lena at Sephora gave me a new face (which includes covering up the dreaded dark circles) and taught me how to use make-up brushes, primer, and bronzing shimmer. I now have a day look and night look! Who knew all this fabulous stuff existed? Diana and Lena threw stuff into a sack and Brakes, or as we called him all day, Money-Bags, footed the bill! It was so cool to be spoiled like that and I walked out of Sephora feeling like a million bucks (and it only cost Brakes a couple of hundred, what a deal?)!
Then after a quick stop at Westlake Shopping Center (Diana, Miss San
Francisco, coyly informed me it is a shopping centre, not a mall!) to nurse the Weez, we headed over to Sarah Mya's new salon, Ketér.
My haircut was the cherry on top of my birthday surprise sundae because it gave me the opportunity to do something I have been wanting to do for ages. I donated all of my hair (which is extra thick and healthy thanks to all the pregnancy hormones) to Locks of Love (http://www.locksoflove.org/)! Sarah Mya cut 2 ponytails off! I was not the least bit nervous and it really makes me feel good to know that my hair is going to help make some little kid smile and wink at their reflection in the mirror! It doesn't get much better than that!



Lena, Diana, Sarah Mya, the Weez, and Henry did an amazing job on my birthday surprise makeover and lets just say, I've got my swagger back! I had so much fun being spoiled and pampered; I feel like a better version of my old self again and that is the best birthday present in the world. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go kiss my husband and then put my face on, dahlink! I use bronzer you know? Muah!

Before

After



Saturday, May 16, 2009

Is She Like Paul or Vin?

After alluding to Eloise's birth-story in the last post, I felt it was only fair to share. For those of you who wish to preserve the mystery and not know all about the inner workings of my bodacious bod, I advise you to check back again labor (I mean later) because this post gets down and dirty into the knitty gritty details of Miss Eloise's fast and furious labor.

I guess it is only fitting that our little girl would choose to enter the world a la the stylings of that fantastic film: Fast and the Furious. Brakes got 6 speeding tickets the first 7 months we dated all while tooling his bright red 3000 GT down to Phoenix to visit me, his lady love. (Sigh. He was such a bad-boy.) And F&F is one of our mutual guilty pleasures. Brakes loves the drag-racing scenes and I love watching Paul Walker and Vin Diesel flex their umm... acting chops. Ehmm. Anyways, Eloise has obviously internalized her parent's preference because, on the night of her birth, she demonstrated a definite need for speed.

For organizational sake I will proceed in a bullet point format:
*Sunday and Monday 3/15: Bits of mucous plug (MP) start coming out and Braxton Hicks contractions continue.
*Tuesday 3/17: I implore Eloise to make her appearance by midnight so that I can toast St. Patrick's Day. I begin the "Go Into Labor Campaign," which includes a 2 mile walk up and down steep hills, raspberry-leaf tea, swimming, and bouncing/rolling my hips on the yoga ball. Campaign somewhat successful: painful contractions 4 minutes apart all night long and the rest oh my MP falls out (for you weirdos that want to know: it was not bloody, just looked like thicker EWCM).
Wednesday 3/18: Contractions stopped by my 10 am doctors appointment, where it was discovered that I was 2 cm dilated and had begun effacement.
Thursday 3/19: I slept great and I had tons of energy! I cleaned the house and did a hard swimming workout around noon. After swimming I noticed that the bottom of my suit was slimy. I appeared to be leaking something. I went for another long (a little over 2 miles), hilly walk and bounced on the yoga ball for over an hour. I took a long shower and made a great dinner (salmon and sweet potato french fries). At 8 pm, I had just sat down on the couch to text my BFF a happy birthday message when I felt an unmistakable pop. I propped my hips up and yelled to Brakes that it was time. He brought me a towel and I caught the rest of the water. I went potty and felt more gushes. Brakes was not convinced my water broke because I managed to keep most of it off the couch (impressive, I know!). Once I showed him my soaked shorts he called labor and delivery. Because we wanted to avoid pain medicine L&D recommended that we stay at home as long as possible. They said to come when my contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and to call back after 3 hours. We futzed around the house for an hour.
* Thursday, 9:15 pm: Brakes implored me to sit down and start timing contractions. Over the past hour I had been having painful contractions, but they didn't really hurt that much (in fact, I was laughing through them!) and they were not coming at any interval. We started watching The Office and before Dwight had given me my first gut-busting laugh I had a major contraction (level 5). 6 minutes later, I had another one (level 5.5). 3 minutes later, I had a third (level 6). 1.5 minutes later I had another, and another, and another; every 1.5 minutes for about 10 minutes at which point we decided to go to the hospital. We snapped a couple of pics right before we left:

Final Belly Shot: Last Picture of cue music Just the 2 of Us:












*Drive to the Hospital, 10:00 pm:
We live 25 minute from the hospital. 25 minutes has never taken so long. In the 10 minute it took to get from our house to the freeway I felt Eloise move much lower into my pelvis, so much so that it I felt huge pressure. Contractions were still coming every 1.5 minutes and now they really hurt! I was afraid of freaking Brakes out so I quietly breathed through them and applauded myself for my self-control. When I looked at the odometer and realized Brakes was going 45 mph on the 280 freeway at 9:30 pm on a clear Thursday night with NO TRAFFIC, I gently suggested he pick up the pace. He said we had plenty of time and kept tooling along. 10 minutes later contractions were still coming so quickly and the pressure was so bad; I urged him to run a red light. Apparently his, "bad boy of the many speeding tickets" days were over because he went at a snails pace to the hospital and paused once to tell me that I was not in fact having contractions every minute and a half and that, "he can tell when I am having a contraction." Apparently he could "feel," my contractions better than I could and I had lost the ability to read the clock. Sure, pal. This was the one and only time I felt like smacking my husband while in labor.
*Labor and Delivery, 10:30 pm: Brakes dropped me off at the ER entrance and went to find parking. In San Fransisco, this is no small feat and I am proud to say Brake's broke down and parked in the pay lot down the street. In the ER they put me in a wheel chair and drove me up to L&D. The male nurse that admitted me questioned that my water broke and half-way smiled when I said I was hoping for a pain-med free delivery. He said all first time moms thought they were in labor when they weren't and he rolled his eyes when I breathed heavily through another contraction. He asked me to go into the bathroom, change into a gown, and swipe my pachina with the slide to check for amniotic fluid. I had just managed to get undressed when a major-major contraction hit me (level 9.5). I hit the ground on all fours and rocked back and forth groaning until it passed. It was here that Brakes found me; buck naked on the bathroom floor mewling like a badly injured cow. And the rest of my mystery began to fade away. Sigh.
He helped me back to bed, put down the 3 bags of crapola we had brought as labor tools (FYI: A mini-DVD player and aroma therapy wickless candles are probably not necessary). A really nice nurse, Bethany, came in and hooked me up to the monitors (which were by far the most irritating thing about labor. They were so tight around my tummy and I cannot be bound. Ask anyone.) and put in a heparin lock, which is like an IV that is not hooked up to anything. I did not want to be trapped to my bed with wires and tubes and I was plenty hydrated so I did not need an IV but they wanted to make sure, in case of an emergency, they could get medicine into me quickly. I explained to my nurse that I wanted to go pain med free for as long as I could and she was like, "more power to you, you crazy lady," but in a very nice way. A really sweet doctor, who looked no older than me, came in and asked me how I was feeling. I told her I felt a ton of pressure in my hienie and because my contractions were still coming so close together she decided to check me. I was 4 cm dilated, fully effaced, and at + 1/2 station. (To deliver you have to be 10 cm dilated, fully effaced and at +2 station, you start at -2 station which means the baby is very high in your pelvis.) She said I was in transition labor but that that could last for a really long time for first time moms and that she would check in with me again in 2 hours.
For the next 2 hours I labored. There is no other word for it. I felt like I was at the end of a very long and hard work out. I was out of breath, sore, and bone tired with exhaustion. Towards the end of the two hours I was actually falling asleep for the few seconds between contractions. To deal with the pain I mostly just breathed and held Brake's hand. My tip for pain-med-free labor: stay calm, quiet, and focused on not reacting . Don't think about the pain and don't give into the impulse to cry, writhe, and yell. It makes the pain worse and is zaps your energy. Also, have a really incredible husband! Brakes was soooo amazing. He gently nurtured me and whispered reassurances that I was doing a good job and that I could handle what was coming. I don't think we have ever worked so effectively together. He anticipated my needs before I even recognized I needed something. When I started throwing up he was right there holding the bucket, and yes, puking while contracting is the absolute pits! He fed me ice chips and pedia-lyte to keep me hydrated, though they did eventually give me fluid through my heparin lock because I was loosing so much liquid, ralphing.
I changed positions a few times in labor; I sat on the ball, leaning over with my head and shoulders on the bed, I kneeled on all fours on the bed and rocked, or I lay on my side with my knees curled up. The contractions were heinous; much worse then menstrual cramps, and the pressure on my bottom was terrible but to be honest, the worst part was that there was no break! I was so tired and my body did not give me anytime to rest. Everyone says I lucked out only having a six hour labor, and I am sure in some ways I did, but for four out of those six hours I was contracting every minute on the minute. That meant my body was in an almost constant state of contracting. I am not sure how many women could have handled that without pain-meds, thank you very much (yes, I realize I am smug). It was only a six hour labor but it was fierce, fierce, fierce!
I was beginning to worry about my ability to push her out because I was so tired when the doctor came back to check me. I had decided that if I had not made significant progress then I would get some pain meds so that I could sleep before I pushed.
There was no need for pain meds! I was still fully effaced, at +2 station, and 7 cm dilated. As soon as I dilated to 10 I could push. I asked how long that would take and she said it would be another 2 hours probably and I said, "Oh no! 20 minutes! I am pushing in 20 minutes!" The doctor just smiled. Seriously, less than 10 minutes later I felt the urge to push. It is indescribable how strong that urge was for me. It was like my body was doing it on its own and I had no control! I looked at the nurse and said, "I have to push," and then did this face distortion thing and started grunting. She gave Brakes a freaked out look and yelled into her walkie talkie, "Urge to push! Urge to push!" The doctor rushed in and checked me. I was at 8 cm. She said, "Gas, calm down. You are not ready yet. It is still going to be awhile." I had another contraction and made the grunting/yelling animalistic noise again. Surprised, she quickly checked me. I was at 9 cm. She and the nurse rushed to get the tools set up and I had another contraction. I was at 10 cm. Every contraction dilated me another centimeter. The nurse and doctor were shocked at how fast I was going. My body was pushing by itself but now that I had permission I was able to help it along. Brakes held one leg, the nurse held another, I grabbed the back of my thighs and pushed with all my might for the count of 10. We did 3 counts of 10 with each contraction and let me tell you, there is no better feeling than finally being able to push. It alleviated soooo much pressure. They wheeled a mirror in so that I could see what I was doing and on the next contraction you could see Eloise's head. They pointed it out and I felt a panic because I knew I would never be able to get a baby out of such a small hole (I have very small crevices). On the next contraction I pushed again and reached down to try to touch her head with my fingers. It was then that Brakes realized that I was confused about which hole Weezy was coming out of; he pointed to the right hole and I immediately felt hope. (Sorry, Weez, Mama had never seen her hienie so up close and personal before!) As soon as I saw her dark hair I became super motivated to meet her in real life! I gave a mighty push and part of her head whooshed out. All the sudden everyone was yelling at me, "Stop pushing! Short pushes, short pushes!" The nurse showed me how to do little pushes which I managed by making gorilla grunting noises which somehow reminded me of a sitcom I watched as a child, the one with the little boy that said, "What you talking about Willis?" I was laughing about that when Eloise's shoulders and body slid out and I swear I have never felt such blessed physical relief in my entire life! It was amazing. I savored it and then demanded to see my daughter. I said, "Hi, baby! There's my girl!" She looked totally different than what we had thought she would look like but somehow I recognized her. I held her to my bare chest and kissed and cooed at her. She was beautiful. Blue but beautiful. Brakes cut the cord (after it quit pulsating) which made blood splatter all the way up to the ceiling while the nurse wiped her off. It took her a minute or two to pink up and to start crying because her cord was wrapped around her neck but I barely noticed. I think I instinctively knew that everything was going to be fine.
And everything was fine, with her. Me and my hienie were another matter. I had an external 2nd degree tear and an internal tear on my cervix. The internal one they had a hard time stopping the bleeding. Soon there were 4 doctors around me and they were talking about giving me pain meds so that I would hold still while they sewed me up. I was not about to go through a pain-med free delivery only to get drugged up after birth. They took the baby away from me because I was wiggling around so much and Brakes did something to make me fall even more madly in love with him, if that was even possible! During my pregnancy I had read that the best way for a newborn to regulate their body temperature was through skin-to-skin action with mom or dad and it was really important to me that Eloise got that right after birth, so when they took her out of my arms I looked at Brakes and communicated distress with my eyes. He took one look at me and ripped off his shirt and clutched Weezy to his chest. What a man! What a Dad! Sigh.
They finished stitching me up and Brakes held the Weez. Soon I was drinking a juice box and basking in the post birth glow, which for the record is strictly an internal thing. I looked like hell after birth. I had broken all the capillaries in my face, chest, neck, and shoulders, and my face was swollen to almost unrecognizable proportions. I will not post the pics of directly after birth, as I do not want to remind Brakes that I have ever been so unattractive, but I will share one from 2 days later so that you can tell I am not exaggerating.

Making and birthing Eloise was the best experiance of my life. It was my greatest privledge and it has forever changed the way I view myself and the world. I am so grateful I had the opportunity to have this experiance and words cannot describe the joy and sense of rightness I felt going through this with the best man I know, my amazing husband, Brakes! Thank you, Love!

... now go change the baby. She wooped.

Eloise’s Fast and Furious Birth (edited version)

clip_image002

Thursday 3/19:

It was a week and a half before Eloise’s due-date and I was really beginning to get the hang of this whole maternity leave thing. I’d slept in, swam laps, taken a long, hilly walk, bounced on a yoga ball, and painted my toenails… well, tried to paint my toenails. I did deep condition my hair and shave my legs though. (Do you like how all my nesting centered on personal hygiene? My house was a wreck and my husband, Brakes, had not had a home cooked meal in weeks, but by God, my skin looked fantastic!) This was by far the most productive day I’d had since stopping work a week earlier.

The first week of my maternity break was pretty much dominated by my unsuccessful but valiantly attempted, “Give-Birth-in-Time-for-Mama-to-Toast-St.-Paddy’s-Day Campaign,” which included copious amounts of pineapple core, raspberry leaf tea, sex (okay, just reasonable amounts of sex), spicy food, walking, swimming, bouncing, more walking, and direct instructions to my daughter via me shouting at my stomach, all to no avail. She teased me on March 17th with semi-painful contractions three minutes apart all night long, which only resulted in the birth of my mucous plug the following morning. Brakes blushed bright red at work when he got a text from me that said: “The mucous plug has landed.” And for you weirdoes that want to know: my MP was not bloody, it just looked like thicker EWCM.

Anyways, on March 19th I had finally decided to embrace my life of leisure, while I still could, and I concerned myself with nothing besides the beatification of my body and tivoed back-episodes of Must-See TV. At 8:00 PM on the dot, I had just settled in for the newest episode of The Office when I felt an unmistakable pop followed by a warm gush. I shouted for Brakes.

Brakes is a scientist and a bit of a know-it-all so he was not convinced my water had broken because I managed to keep most of it off the couch. (Impressive, I know. I owe it all to Mr. Kegal.) Once I showed him my soaked shorts he called labor and delivery. Hoping to avoid pain-meds (needles give me the creeps), they recommended we wait until my contractions were three minutes apart for at least an hour and that I call and check-in with them again around 11:00 PM. We dilly-dallied around the house for a bit and then settled back down to watch The Office.

Before Dwight had given me my first gut-busting laugh I had a major contraction (approximately a level 5, said in my best geek-voice). Six minutes later, I had another one (level 5.5). Three minutes after that, I had a third (level 6). A minute and a half later: another. And another. And another. They were 1.5 minutes apart and getting more intense with each one. We decided to go to the hospital (but not before snapping these adorable pictures):
clip_image003
clip_image004
*Drive to the Hospital, 9:45 pm:
Okay people, we only live twenty-five minutes from the hospital, so riddle me this: Why did it take us almost twice that long to get to there on a fine-weathered, traffic-free, Thursday night?

Because Brakes decided to be extra prudent and not go above 45 MPH on I-280, bless his heart. At one point, after I had urged him to pick up the pace because I was having contractions every minute on the minute, Brakes made the mistake of informing me that I “only thought I was having contractions every minute, and that he knew when I was having a contraction.” He reasoned that I had lost my ability to read the clock when labor started. I reasoned that he had lost his ability to read an odometer or his wife. From that point on, I quit trying to be brave and vociferously narrated each contraction so that there would be no mistake about the rate in which they were occurring. Brakes’ foot developed some lead.

*Labor and Delivery, 10:30 pm:

Brakes finally dropped me off at the ER entrance and went to find parking; in San Francisco, this is no small feat!

Before they admit you at L&D, they have to confirm that your water broke. They ask you to swipe your pachina with a glass slide. After nearly slicing off my labia (that glass slide was scary-sharp), I had barely managed to get undressed when the worst contraction yet flooded me (level 9.5 according to my analysis, snort snort). I hit the ground on all fours and rocked back and forth groaning until it passed. It was here that Brakes found me; buck-naked on the bathroom floor mewling like a badly injured heifer. The rest of the mystery in our marriage slowly drained away right along with my dignity…

He helped me back to bed, put down the three bags of crapola we had brought as labor tools (FYI: A mini-DVD player and aroma therapy wickless candles are probably not necessary) and we met our nurse. After reading that knife-like slide, she started hooking me up to monitors (The most annoying part of labor. I hated them; I can’t be bound- ask anyone.) and discussed my pain-management preferences. Upon hearing my hope to go med free she very nicely said, “Okay crazy lady! More power to you!”

Next a very sweet doctor, who looked about ten, came in and asked me how I was feeling. “Just grand,” I told her, “ other than the ewok trying to claw out of my abdomen and the diamond point drill bearing down on my hienie.” She decided it would be prudent to check me. She determined that at 4 cm dilated, fully effaced, and at + 1/2 station, I was in transition labor. She warned me that first time moms can be in transition for hours and hours and with that blithe message, she skipped out of the room.

For the next two hours I labored. There is no other word for it. I felt like I was at the end of a very long, very hard work out. I was out of breath, sore, and bone tired with exhaustion. Towards the end I was actually falling asleep for the few seconds between contractions. To deal with the pain I mostly just breathed and held Brakes’ hand. My tip for pain-med-free labor: stay calm, quiet, and focused on not reacting. Don't think about the pain and don't give into the impulse to cry, writhe, and yell. It makes the pain worse and is zaps your energy. I also recommend having a really incredible husband (or partner, I don’t judge). Brakes was so amazing. He gently nurtured me and whispered reassurances that I was doing a good job and that I could handle what was coming. I don't think we have ever worked so effectively together. He anticipated my needs before I even recognized I needed something. When I started throwing up he was right there holding the bucket with nary a sympathy gag. (Puking mid-contraction is pretty much the definition of rotten.) He fed me ice chips and Pedialyte to keep me hydrated.

I changed positions a few times in labor; I sat on the ball, leaning over with my head and shoulders on the bed, I kneeled on all fours on the bed and rocked, or I lay on my side with my knees curled up. The contractions were heinous; much worse then menstrual cramps, (You people that told me they were like having a bad period? Liars! All of you!) and the pressure on my bottom put me in an ungodly amount of pain. But to be honest, the worst part was that there was no break! I was so tired and my body did not give me anytime to rest. Everyone says I lucked out having a relatively short labor, and I am sure in some ways I did, but for four and a half strait hours I was contracting every minute on the minute. That meant my body was in an almost constant state of contracting. It was a fierce, fierce labor!

I was beginning to worry about my ability to push Eloise out because I was so tired when the doctor came back to check me. I had decided that if I had not made significant progress then I would brave a shot to take the edge off and hopefully get some rest… But thank goodness, I could put off meeting Mr. Needle until another day! I was still fully effaced, at +2 station, and 7 cm dilated. As soon as I dilated to 10, they said I could push. The doctor turned to leave, murmuring she would be back in another couple hours but my roar stopped her dead in her tracks: "Oh no!” I insisted, “I will see you in twenty minutes! This baby is coming out in twenty minutes! I WILL NOT do this for more than another 20 minutes.” I think I scared her, because with an odd little smile and a quick nod, she scurried out of the room. “Don’t go far!” I shouted at her retreating back.

Less than ten minutes later I felt the urge to push. It is indescribable how strong that urge was for me. It was like my body was doing it on its own and I had no control! I looked at the nurse and said, "I have to push," and then did this face distortion thing like Linda Blair in the Exorcist. Then came the grunts. Brakes said I sounded like a wounded animal; half wolverine, half wart-hog (like I said, he’s a scientist. He would know). Whatever species I was imitating, it got the nurses attention because when she heard the grunt she yelled into the intercom: "Urge to push! Urge to push!"

The doctor rushed in and checked me. I was at 8 cm. She said, "Katie, calm down. You are not ready yet. It is still going to be awhile." I had another contraction and made the grunting/yelling animalistic noise again. Surprised, she quickly re-checked me. I was at 9 cm. She and the nurse rushed to get the tools set up and I had another contraction. I was at 10 cm. Every contraction dilated me another centimeter. The nurse and doctor were shocked at how fast I was going. My body was pushing by itself already; I just needed permission to help it along.

Finally I was given the okay and while Brakes and the nurse each held a leg, I grabbed the back of my thighs and pushed hard for the count of ten. We did three counts of ten with each contraction and let me tell you, there is no better feeling than finally being able to push. It alleviated so much pressure. It was like my bottom was finally able to exhale.

They wheeled a mirror in so that I could see what I was doing. At first glance I experienced a panic unlike anything I've ever felt before. There was this tiny hole with this gigantic mound trying to come out. As the nurses told me to push, and I shoved with all my might, and the hole only became marginally larger, I cried to Brakes that I couldn't do it: "I have small crevices!" reverberated down the hall. I pointed to the hole as evidence of my small crevices and a knowing smile appeared on Brakes' face. He gently pointed about two inches higher in the mirror where there was another hole... in which a hairy head was beginning to emerge. (That's right, folks; in my daughter's first moments of life I mistook her for what may or may not have been a piece of woops trying to escape the confines of my rectum. Mother of the year over here… Oh, and BTW, my kid looks nothing like a poop. Just wanted to clarify.)

As soon as I saw her dark hair I became super motivated to meet her in real life! I gave a mighty push and part of her head whooshed out. All the sudden everyone was yelling at me, "Stop pushing! Short pushes, short pushes!" The nurse showed me how to do little pushes, which I managed by making gorilla noises, which somehow reminded me of a sitcom I watched as a child. The one with the little boy that said, "What you talking about, Willis?" I was laughing about that when Eloise's shoulders and body slid out. (I may have gone a little crazy by this point.) I swear I have never felt such blessed physical relief in my entire life! It was amazing. I savored it and then I demanded to see my daughter.

I said, "Hi, baby! There's my girl!" She looked totally different than what we had thought she would look like but somehow I recognized her. I held her to my bare chest and kissed and cooed at her. She was beautiful. Blue but beautiful. Brakes cut the cord (after it quit pulsating), which made blood splatter all the way up to the ceiling while the nurse wiped her off. It took her a minute or two to pink up and start crying because her cord was wrapped around her neck but I barely noticed. I think I instinctively knew that everything was going to be fine.

clip_image006

And everything was fine- with her. Me and my hienie were another story. I had an external 2nd degree tear and an internal tear on my cervix. On the internal one, they had a hard time stopping the bleeding. Soon there were four doctors crowded around me and they were talking about giving me a transfusion and pain meds so that I would hold still while they sewed me up.

I’ll be honest, I felt pretty violated by this time. I had done my part; I pushed my darling girl out without so much as a swallow of whiskey to anesthetize me. I had carried my baby to term, happily giving up seafood, wine, and stomach sleeping. I had joyfully put on thirty pounds, watched hair sprout from my stomach, and dark blotches appear on my cheeks. I felt like my job was over, the pain should stop, and I should be able to enjoy these first precious minutes with my daughter without needles and sutures flashing and an angry attending holding my hips still. I burst into tears for the first time since my water had broken.

They took the baby away because I was wiggling around so much. I was instantly devastated but in one silent action Brakes managed to simultaneously calm me down and give our baby-girl the bonding and warmth she craved. Brakes knew how important skin-to-skin touch right after birth was to me, and he saw the panic in my eyes when they took Eloise out of my arms. Without me even saying a word, he ripped off his shirt and snuggled Weezy against the warm (and substantial!) muscles covering his heart. She listened to it beat, and with that, my pulse slowed down too. I was able to relax and the doctors finished sewing me up successfully and I did not have to get any pain-meds.

Soon I was drinking a juice box and basking in the post birth glow, which for the record is strictly an internal thing. I looked like hell after birth. I had broken all the capillaries in my face, chest, neck, and shoulders, and my features were swollen to almost unrecognizable proportions. I will not share the pictures taken directly after birth, as I do not want to remind Brakes that I have ever been so unattractive, but I will share one from two days later so that you can tell I am not exaggerating; I really did look like I’d been hit by a truck.
clip_image007

Making, birthing, and mothering Eloise has been the best experience of my life. It is my greatest privilege and it has forever changed the way I view the world and myself. I am so grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to participate in this experience and words cannot describe the joy and sense of rightness I feel doing this together, with Brakes by my side.

clip_image009

Friday, May 15, 2009

She is a Woman of Action

Eloise has been quite busy these last few weeks. She has composed a bucket-list (bucket-of-crayons list, that is) which is comprised of things she wants to accomplish before she enters preschool. She got several of them crossed off right away:
First Plane Ride:
Modeling Prairie Bonnet

Spending Time with Family in LA

Flirting with Older Men:
Mingling with Other Babies
Gossiping with Cousin Roscoe
Palavering with Granmov
Making Mom's 1st Mothers Day Super Special!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Journey to The Weez

As of 1:50 last Friday morning Weezy was officially 6 weeks old. In typical obsessed mommy fashion (I am truly, weirdly obsessed with my daughter... I crave her smell even when she is a little ripe. Sick? Maybe.) I already feel nostalgic over her youth. Sigh. My stiches still haven't completely healed yet already I remember her delivery with warm fuzziness (though after re-reading my yet-to-be-shared birth-story, I am reminded it was definitly not warm or fuzzy). I cannot believe how much bigger she is; I cried when she outgrew my fave pj's (they have ruffles on the butt for Lord's sakes!). The only consolation is that with getting older she is doing new and fascintating things like smiling and and moving all four limbs at the same time- kind of like the Roger Rabbit dance move to all you children of the 80's. Also, apparently her eyes can speak the words she cannot yet say: Brakes swore that her eyes said, "Back off, D-bag," last night when he was changing a dirty dipe (when he leaned over she grabbed his chest hair and would not let go! Ouch!). Her eyes are obviously gifted.
So in the spirit of nostalgia I will share a pictorial timeline of the events leading up to Weezy's existence:
This little guy was my secret weapon in my TTC (trying to concieve) campaign. We met my gorgeous nephew, Roscoe, at Christmas. By Valentines Day I'd convinced Brakes to "pull the goalie":
This pic was taken 15 days before the Weez was concieved at my cousin Kristy's bridal shower. I was enjoying several pre-pregnancy mojitos with my mom (on the left), Kristy, and Meghann (my sister, on the right). Please note how thin I am.
Here are some of the dozen tests Brakes made me take before he conceded that I might be pregnant:
He still wasn't convinced until he saw this:

Apparently he needed it spelled out for him.

Soon I went from this: To this: To this (yikes!):



Then, after 6 hours of agony, we got this:


And we've never felt so lucky!


Happy 6-week birthday, Baby Girl!


XOXO