Saturday, August 2, 2014

Family of Five

The last month of my pregnancy was no joke. For 18 days, I was on labor-alert. It all started with a middle of the night GI issue (TMI, I know), which falsely put into my head thoughts of "you'll have this baby early, before your due date" and those thoughts stuck around, day after day, until I was a week late and woke up to my husband saying "let's go to the water park with the kids today" as though that's a perfectly acceptable thing to do when you're 41 weeks pregnant. I mean, I guess if I hadn't been having contractions that morning when I woke up - which he didn't know about yet, at that point... he's not so cruel as to suggest the water park with a 4 year old and 1 year old while his 41 week pregnant wife is contracting - I would have been game to go. The previous weekend, we hit up the beach on both Saturday and Sunday. I even stuffed my 40 week pregnant belly into a swimsuit and got in the water with the kids a few times!

So this particular Sunday morning, when he suggested the water park and I hadn't yet told him about the contractions, I unfairly cursed at him in my head but in reality I said "I don't think the water park is gonna happen, I'm feeling crampy and contractiony." But at this point, since I was on day 18 of saying "maybe THIS will be the day" with feigning enthusiasm and confidence, he just slightly rolled his eyes at me and thought "suuuuuure" and suggested we walk downtown to get donuts instead. Now he was talking. The donuts part, I could get behind. The walking downtown part, not so much. It's about 1 mile one way, and my gut knew that was no bueno. I told him as much, and agreed to drive downtown and meet him and the girls there, as he was bound and determined to get out and get some fresh air.

I had a few contractions at the donut shop, but they were weak enough that I could manage to just slightly grimace instead of letting out primal, embarrassing noises. I'd save those for later. I texted my mom - who lives 45 minutes away - and waved the "probably in labor, but wait for my official call" flag. It only took about 30 minutes for me to follow it up with a "okay, yeah, why don't you come over" message.

She arrived, I asked her to snap a "last picture as a family of four" shot, which turned out like this, mid-contraction which I admit is kind of awkward to look at:

And then this, once the toddler joined us: 

It was a gorgeous summer morning. We took off towards University of Michigan hospital and I cursed the city of Ann Arbor for their shitty roads. Nothing like driving over potholes while your vagina is stretching open to make you have strong opinions about where the road budget should put their money. Luckily for me, my water I didn't break in the car like it did with my last labor. 

Arrival! Amen!

I was 6 cm when we arrived at the hospital, and even though this wasn't my first tango with childbirth, I was nonetheless relieved to get confirmation that I was indeed in labor. I think that inherently, I'm a rule-follower and someone who listens to authority, so I was sort of, I don't know, waiting for the authority figures - the doctors - to tell me I was in labor. I know that sounds silly, and I'm one of those people who's all "listen to what your body is telling you, no one knows your body better than you, you'll know what to do and when to do it"; sort of a wanna-be crunchy type. Not full blown, obviously, since I was waiting for the person with the medical degree to confirm that "yup, that horrible feeling of your vagina stretching open is indeed your vagina stretching open". Man, how many times should I work "vagina stretching open" into this post? 

So once it was established I was in labor, my labor nurse asked me to get into the wheelchair to go into the delivery room. "What? You're not going to wheel me down there in this triage bed?" I literally asked out loud. Which was probably one of the ONLY perks of my last labor - that they wheeled me in the triage bed down to a delivery room when I was 10 cm dilated with a head about to be birthed when they checked me upon arrival.

So I found the energy to get into a wheelchair to make our way down to a legit room. It feels funny and lazy and dramatic to write that, but honestly I didn't think I could move from a hospital bed to a wheelchair. My labor nurse, who had this really dry sense of humor and communication style, promised me "I really think you have it in you" in this Darlene Conner voice. Can you picture that? I simultaneously wanted to throttle her but also kiss her. I loved the honesty but I really didn't want to commit to that level of cardiovascular activity when I had a much larger task at hand. 

Once in my real room, I labored in the tub for a while. At one point, I painfully proclaimed my water had broken. "That, or I just totally forcefully peed in this tub." Enter the primal, embarrassing noises. I just didn't know what else to do but say different variations of Ouch, Ow, Oh Man, Fuck, Damn, Shit with different variations of moaning, yelling, groaning. So yeah, that happened. Then came the instruction disguised as a polite suggestion to get out of the tub and into the bed. I wasn't hoping for a water birth, and I wasn't necessarily opposed to getting out of the tub, but you guys had better rig up some make-shift construction equipment to haul my wet naked body from this tub to that hospital bed, is what I was thinking. Something along those lines. 

By some magic voodoo force, I did indeed make it to the hospital bed. I have no idea how, I think I might have blacked out and they brought out catapult equipment, or just dragged me by my shoulders battlefield style. I don't really know. All I know is that I was on the bed, with my ass and back facing the doctors, hands up at the top of the bed, continuing with The Noises. I vaguely remember hearing another polite suggestion, this time coming from the young male resident, asking me to move into a laying-on-my-back position to check me. I just went right ahead and pretended I didn't hear him, and as I did, I heard my doctor whisper to the resident, "it's okay, she can deliver in that position, whatever feels best to her." I seriously could have kissed her. Seriously. I sent her a ESP high five. That was exactly what I wanted to and needed to hear. My wanna-be crunchy "birth however I want to birth" Mama spirit wanted to birth in some hippie yoga position. Funny though, because once I heard her say that, I did realize that I'd rather deliver in the typical "on your back" position, even though it felt like death to try to actually exist in that position while a baby was crowning. 

So again by some voodoo magic, I was able to pull off the unimaginable physical feat of moving from kneeling to laying on my back. Soooo dramatic, I know. But I felt like that 100 lb gymnast who was on American Gladiator or whatever that show was that went around Facebook. I felt like an Ironman. And I hadn't even pushed the baby out yet!

So I finally make it into position, and this is the funny part, he was just born. Just like that. With one contraction, his head emerged, and the next, his body. He birthed himself, I swear. That's not to say it didn't hurt like a motherfucker, because trust me, it did. But the nice part was that I didn't really need to push. Out he came into this world, just like that. A darling little boy, a son. I was a mom again. My childbirth amnesia set in immediately, and my natural birth high took over. I took this picture shortly after he was born. 

Here he is in his newborn nugget glorious state!  Seven pounds of beautiful baby goodness. 

My mom and mother-in-law brought the girls to the hospital to meet their baby brother and it was... crowded. We were elated but it was also... overwhelming. It was... requiring ellipses. ;)

But ultimately, it was really happy.

We were at the hospital for two nights due to my group b strep status, and we were a little bored by day two. We watched TV... we took so-bored-please-help-me selfies,

we introduced the baby to the glorious state of Michigan, 

we took postpartum "look I'm just like Princess Kate LOLOLOLOL" selfies, 

we were just excited to get home and out of our hospital prison. Well, let me tell you, that was a rookie mistake, the being bored and wanting to go home part, by two not-so-rookie parents. I don't know what we were thinking. Because the second we got home, we both secretly wished we were back in the hospital. The girls were so loud, so excited but so loud, they were totally off of their schedule, they were still adjusting to the fact that all of this "soon we'll have a baby" talk finally came true. I went upstairs for a postpartum cry and ended up napping for three hours. The first night home was a little rough. Hell, the first week was a bit wobbly, to say the least. But things got a lot better after that first week.

This baby does a lot of the following: 

Occasionally he opens his eyes!

All in all, he is a keeper. We will keep him. The receipt on him has expired anyway, and we'd just get store credit for the lowest marked price anyway, but that matters zero amounts and I don't want to trade him for another model anyway. He is wonderful and lovey and soft and sweet and I love him so. <3

Monday, June 16, 2014

Tick, tick, tick...

Thought it was worth trying to squeeze in one post on pregnancy, seeing as how today marks my 40th week of pregnancy with my third child. Every morning I wake up and say to myself, "Could today be the day?" And then every night, once I go about my day and it turns out it wasn't the day, I wonder, "Will tonight be the night?"  There is nothing that makes you feel more like a ticking time bomb than being nine months pregnant, I tell you what. 

I'm still working full time - so I get it from my coworkers when I walk into work. ("She's still here!")
I'm married - so I get it from my husband every morning before he leaves for work. ("Should I go to work today, honey?")
I'm a daughter - so I know my mom and mother-in-law are waiting with baited breath. (If I send any text, everyone think it's the inevitable "I'm in labor" text.)
I'm a mom - to two toddler girls who are so (mostly-delightfully, occasionally-dreadfully) needy, that every physical move I make to try to meet their needs, I'm reminded of this other human child I have incubating inside of me. (Bathing two kids, leaning over the bathtub to try to wash sand out of their hair? Nearly impossible. Making lunches for daycare? I consider that a workout at this stage in the game; reaching for the lunchboxes is a stretch that leaves me breathless; moving quickly to get lunches made before I have to load the kids up in the car in the morning is my cardio that gives me a little brow sweat, if I'm keeping it real...)

Needless to say, it's impossible to forget I'm this ticking time bomb.

To say I've been anxious about this upcoming birth would be the understatement of my year. My last daughter was delivered less than an hour after getting to the hospital. It was... an intense hour. Being that she's not even two years old yet, that hour is still fresh on my mind. And effing with my mind, to tell you the truth. I woke up in the middle of the night a couple of weeks ago with some... how shall I put it? Waste management stomach issues. I thought it was perhaps labor. Once I realized it wasn't, I still spent the rest of the night waking up every half-hour, with mild anxiety about what it would feel like when it really WAS labor. That night messed with my mind big time.

Tonight, my husband let me know he preferred my three hour labor over my twenty-four hour labor. "It's like I got to stand there and support you, but then we just fast forwarded to the part where we get to hold the new little baby really quickly." Uhhh yeah. OK. Easy for you to say, buddy. He's a gem, though. He also likened this stage of parenthood (the waiting-for-your-wife-to-go-into-labor part) to Christmas. "It's kind of like I asked for a Nintendo for Christmas, and then I didn't get it. Except it'll be Christmas next week, and I WILL get the Nintendo." I think he should write a book, no? I can't say I blame the guy, though... I've dubbed myself The Mom Who Cried Baby. For the last two weeks (ever since the Waste Management night), I have gone to bed with closing comments such as "Well I have felt really run down, and walking is getting hard, and I'm crampy" only to wake up at my usual 4:30 AM to pee and let Nick know "nope, just peeing" and not to get too excited because he's definitely going to work today. So yes, I understand that he feels like he asked for a Nintendo and didn't get one. I have burst his bubble that Santa isn't real, but that The Stork is and to just be patient because The Stork will deliver his Nintendo soon.

But I've got to keep my eye on the prize. The prize being the amazing privilege of getting to call myself Mom to another amazing child. And worry less about the short term labor stuff. I've got to remember the joy I get from watching my daughter play in a lake for the first time, or see a balloon in the far-off-distance and yell "booooon!", or have one fall and scrape her knee and the other run over and kiss it for her, or to hear my daughter tell Daddy, unprompted and out of nowhere, "I love you to the SKY and back!", or have a conversation with my four year old about babies and how they grow in your belly and "wow that's AMAZING" (and also, "Adopting a baby is so cool, cuz people can share their babies!" - we covered a lot during that talk), or to ask my 1.5 year old how her day was and she replies "Good. Pay ow-sye." These things never get old to me. They're such darlings and delights, I can't wait to meet this other little soul and see how he fits into our little family. Just as I said when Amelia was baking, I can't even imagine having another child, but I know from experience that once we meet him, we'll wonder how we ever really lived without him. I cannot wait.