Friday, October 26, 2012

One for Good Luck (The Birth Story)

It seems to be a thing among BLMs to have natural childbirth. Maybe it is wanting to be as close as possible to our rainbows when they are born? To physically feel everything about the birth? Knowing that no physical pain is worse than the emotional owies on our hearts? Well, I tried to be one of those BLMs. And I almost succeeded.

And I am just so damn competitive that I am still a little disappointed in myself! As I was getting the epidural and could finally think and breathe and even talk, I said to Mr. E, "I'm a wuss."

Let's start from the beginning. My due date was October 25. Two Fridays ago when I left work I got a sort of nesting urge to make a to-do list. I used to work in sales and that was something that was emphasized for sales reps, that if you don't have a road map of the day then you won't know where you are going. I often make to-do lists. But this was a comprehensive to-do list, prioritized and all. I guess part of me knew it was time to just be prepared. I also took home my Fitball, because I thought I might bring that to the hospital with me to help with labor pains (a very good call, BTW). I told my secretary about the list, and we joked that we'd see each other on Monday.

On Saturday I hosted a wine tasting event that I've been organizing for 5 years now. It is supposed to be by bike, but obviously I was just riding in the car this year. We still had a few bikers and a few more also in the car. I had a few tastes of wine and drank a glass with we like to joke that the wine started my labor. A friend on the wine tour who plays poker with Mr. E had guessed October 14 as Sprout's birthday...and there was money on the line. He thought he had picked the 13th and he was getting a little crabby that I hadn't gone into labor by the end of the day. Which is sort of funny because at 4:30 on Sunday morning I half woke up to a few mild contractions. I realized that I was starting labor, and I got up and washed my nursing bras (which only ended up being like 2-3 sizes too small), came back to bed and told Mr. E and he fell back to sleep for a while but I was having trouble relaxing. About 7:30 I was able to fall asleep for about an hour, then I started getting hungry and the contractions were enough to keep me awake.

I sent a few texts to family that my labor had started. Such a funny thing, two of my West Coast cousins called that day. One that I talk to regularly but hadn't for a week or so, so that wasn't weird, but another that, no matter how we try, we fail to connect more than once every few months. It was like we were talking to each other some other way. While I was on the phone a few times I couldn't talk through a contraction. But they were still erratic, even though steadily gaining strength. I had been warned to stay away from the hospital as long as possible. Around 3 or 3:30 I ate something and we started getting ready to go get checked.

We arrived at the hospital around 4:30, and waited in triage until a little after 5 for a resident to come check my cervix. In the meantime I watched the baby's heart rate on the monitor and noticed the number for contraction strength rising as I went through them. The worst was around 50 or 60-something I think. Sprout's heart rate was high at around 170 beats per minute, and when the resident came she thought maybe my water had broken some time before that day and the high heartrate might be sign of infection. Later when I saw the doctor he said there was nothing to worry about. Shew. The resident also bore some good news when she said I was 5-6 cm dilated. I would have cried if she had said anything less than 4. So I was admitted.

The couple who introduced me to Mr. E came by to hang out for awhile. I've known M since first grade. She actually stayed all night and watched the birth. T left, bored, after about an hour or so. He was there long enough to see me doubled over the Fitball a few times though. The contractions were getting really strong and painful and I had to "dragon-breathe" to get through them. At one point when Mr. E raised his voice playfully to M across the room I did, yes I did, tell him to shut the f up.

The nurse wanted me back on the bed to get checked again but I refused to move off the ball until the person checking me was in the room. I was kneeling on the floor and rocking back and forth over the ball, resting my head to the side between contractions. It was getting to the point where there wasn't much time to rest. At the next check I was 9 cm. Which was a bit disappointing because I was going to ask for the epidural. On the other hand I was like, OK, I made it, I can do this, not much longer. But the baby's head was high. As the resident (a different one) reached in to check his head position, another small bag of water broke. I'm not sure if that was relevant or not to her discovery that I had a "ridge" on my cervix. I guess there was some swelling that was created when the baby descended? I'm not sure, it was all a little fuzzy, I know I was checked again at 9.5 cm and the resident was kind of pissed that the nurse said I couldn't have the epidural. M told me that the nurse had said that--the nurse whose shift was over, thank god because I didn't really like her. For that and other reasons. Anyway the resident explained that it was too early to push and I had to wait until the swelling subsided otherwise I would tear my cervix. That sounded bad. She said if the anesthesiologist would agree to do the epidural that I should do it, because I was really feeling the urge to push. I was getting vocal with each contraction and trying hard not to push but it was kind of impossible. (Update: I saw the doctor the other day and I guess the "ridge" on my cervix was just that last half-centimeter or cervix that had to move aside. I'm not sure if I kind of stalled at that point, or if the urge to push, combined with not being fully dilated and the baby still being a little high all indicated that the epidural might be good to slow things down a bit. The doctor also said that if I hadn't had the epidural I "would have delivered a baby." But maybe would have gotten a laceration on my cervix, that he said can be fixed, but still. I think I'm still glad for the epidural.)

He came in and did his thing, I couldn't even look at him I was trying to get through the contractions. He wanted the bed raised up but I wanted to be able to push away with my feet and finally Mr. E squatted next to the bed so I could step on his legs. I thought the guy was taking long and I knew I was going to have another contraction while he was putting in the epidural. And I did so I just breathed and yelled and kneaded Mr. E's shoulders. There were one or two more painful contractions before the epidural kicked in.

And suddenly I could look around the room, hold a conversation, stop cursing at my husband. I have to say that having the epidural was good not bad. I do see how it slows down labor...but I needed to slow down my labor until I could get to 10 cm. I watched the contractions on the monitor without always knowing they were happening. That was pretty awesome. They were going up to 112. M said before the epidural they were up past 120. No wonder that shit hurt.

So at some point the doctor came in and said I was 10 cm dilated and it was time to start pushing and have a baby. That was around 10:15 p.m. on the 14th. Lots of pushing and two hours later...there he was! My gallery was getting bored, and tired. My mom, mother-in-law, Dad and M were there in addition to Mr. E, who held one leg and watched everything! I felt Sprout's head as he was trying to emerge but still rocking back. It felt like I was pushing and pushing for nothing for a very long time. I was feeling the contractions as they happened now, but they didn't hurt. After Sprout's head came out they told me to stop pushing so they could move the cord from under his neck. The doctor said that happens in one out of three births, so it's apparently nothing scary. Then back to pushing and I think when his shoulders came out I felt a pop that actually did hurt and I said "ow." I wonder what I would have said at that point had I not had the epidural! The doctor had asked if I wanted him on my belly after he was born and I said, "Yes, please." That was really the ONLY thing I wanted for the birth that was non-negotiable. Everything was fine and he came straight to me, that's when I said "oh my gosh" repeatedly as Mr. E cut the cord. M took pictures of Sprout on the warming table, getting weighed, the look on Mr. E's face as he watched all of this. She also took a picture of the placenta in the rectangular silver catering dish, haha. I just spaced out a bit and waited for the stitching to stop...I had a small tear that took "one long stitch" as the doctor described it. The resident did the work with the doctor directing her. I recall his saying "you can do it in two if you like," so I don't know if I have one stitch or two. I also don't know if I am still stitched or if it dissolved by now. I just know it gets a little better every day but is still not right down there. (TMI? Sorry.) 

So that's it. I'm a wuss. Jed is great. Since he was born after midnight my discharge date was Weds, but I wanted to leave on Tues. It felt like two nights already to me. And my room was right outside the nurses' station and the nursery and it was loud and annoying and I couldn't go outside and I wanted to take a shower but not in the hospital shower, and on and on. They let me go so long as we went to the pediatrician the next day. We had a deal.

As for two hours of pushing and getting the epidural and slowing down my labor...well, I guess it was meant to be that Jed was born on October 15, the day the real-life rainbow visited our town. Blue working some spirit baby magic? It was a double rainbow, actually, if you look closely you can it was the day of three rainbows. One for good luck? My favorite day in all my life.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Two Rainbows

There was literally a rainbow the day my son was born. Utterly. Fucking. Amazing.

I didn't see it myself, but I heard and saw pictures. It's probably not amazing that there was rainbow somewhere in the world on October 15, 2012, but there was a rainbow in our part of the world on October 15, 2012.

Not only that, but he was born on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day of Awareness. (His due date was the 25th.)

Without further ado, meet my rainbow Jed Leon:

He looks JUST like his dad:
Seriously, if I hadn't spent two hours pushing this kid out I wouldn't be sure he was mine. Oh, actually, he has my ear lobes. :)

Funny we have all these pictures of relatives holding him. A few with his dad holding him. And no pics of me holding him without a boob in the picture!

Here's the one from the delivery room. Our new family.
(Whoa. Babies look weird when they are just born!)

He made his entrance just after midnight on Monday. At 12:13. He was 8 pounds, 2 ounces. I can't believe I gave birth to an 8-pound baby! A week and three days before at the OB the doctor eyed my belly and said he was probably 5.5 to 6 pounds. Not. He was 20.75 inches long. So kind of a big guy.

I am having a little sadness thinking about his brother who isn't here. But for the most part I am just so overwhelmed with joy and happiness. When the doctor put him squirming on my belly and the nurse was starting to clean him up, I just couldn't stop saying "oh my gosh." I'm from the Northeast--we use the actual curse words. I don't think I've ever said "oh my gosh" before except to be polite around strangers.

Speaking of his brother...I think in a way I am lucky now that EVERYTHING is different. Blue would not have been part of THIS family. It would have been a different family. Just me and my baby. So Blue and Jed are so completely separate from each other. (Although when I was pregnant and we were calling Jed "Sprout" I would mix up their names every once in a while. Of course, I also mixed up Sprout's name with our horse Fuzz.) But I am still sad from the sadness of it all. We went for a walk in the park the other day and I was struggling to keep up and I remembered how the day after the abortion I was walking slowly around the National Zoo with my parents and just breaking down crying about every 20 minutes. So there aren't really comparisons, but reminders of how different it is between then and now.

You know, I feel like such a cliche saying this is all wonderful, it's everything I ever wanted. I spent a good number of years thinking maybe kids wouldn't fit my lifestyle. I travel, I rock climb, I do triathlons, I get drunk. Making those things past tense seemed like such a sacrifice. And when I started to feel like something was missing, and I wanted to meet a man and I wanted to have a baby, I still felt like I wasn't quite ready for ALL the changes. And then came Blue and I loved him so much from the moment I knew he existed. I remember a comment another mom posted on Glow in the Woods: I wasn't sure I had time for a baby, now he's gone and all I've got is time and nothing to do with it. Those were my sentiments exactly.

My point now is that...this is not that hard. I know it will get harder, I know there will be nights that seem to never end with a fussy baby. Days of boredom, fatigue, irritability. But I signed up for this. I signed up for all of it. And I wouldn't want it any other way.

Next post preview: The Birth Story.
In a nutshell, I got past 9 cm without the epidural. Ended up getting one. Everything worked out.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Nothing to Say, Saying It Anyway

Somebody did some growing in the past four weeks. Here it is. 38 weeks, 2--or whatever--to go. Just please not 4 more weeks.

We have done everything to get ready for Sprout's arrival. Car seats are checked--and no we did not install them properly ourselves. Breast pump purchased, baby clothes and bedding washed. TV hanging on the wall so we can properly arrange all our furniture. My little freak outs about Sprout dying are not as bad as they used to be. Somehow. But I keep thinking about how nobody else's baby is maybe mine will. My cousin had her little guy six weeks early. He's still in the NICU but gaining weight and doing well. My sister-in-law had her little girl right on time and she's just perfect. Friends galore having healthy babies with no complications. I think I would like to stop having this conversation with myself now.

I had a pretty strong contraction today that also lasted a long time, which gave me slightly renewed hope that I could have a 10/11/12 baby. But it's not to be. Ah well, I just wish he would remove his feet from my rib cage and drop and be born! And then I could stop worrying about the pregnancy...and start worrying about whether he's breathing while he's sleeping.

So, yeah, as you can see, I have NOTHING to talk about. But I'm home along tonight since Mr. E has poker and I guess I still feel like talking. Sorry you had to listen. :)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


On Sunday I went to a book launch for a book called Moments Like This. The editor is a grief counselor and she got a book deal through happenstance and she compiled a book of essays written by her about her clients, and also written by her clients. This is not about marketing the book, but here's a link to it on Amazon

She is a friend of my mom's and when I asked if I could submit an essay she simply said yes. My mom also wrote an essay about losing her dad, my Giddo (grandfather in Arabic). I was only 18 months old or so when he died, so I don't have any memories of him. Just pictures and stories. His wife, my Sitto, died in May, while Mr. E and I were on our mini honeymoon. It was expected and it was time, and we had a wonderful visit just a few days before her death. I am getting teared up now...just thinking how Sitto told us "young love is the best love," how we told her I was expecting...when I never told her I was expecting Blue. It would have been too confusing for her. I was unmarried, she had Alzheimer's.

Anyway...I asked my dad to go to the book event with me because my mom couldn't go, and though I thought it might be fine to go alone I'm really glad I didn't. Because when Silvia introduced the contributors, and asked me to stand up, I. Lost. My. Shit. I don't know why. I was sad when we got there, because when I think about the essay I wrote for the book, I think about the ending and it still makes me cry. So I was thinking about that. And the couple sitting next to me lost a young adult daughter to a car accident, and the dad was crying and when I see other people cry, not just men, I cry too. I don't even have to know them, obviously. So when Silvia asked me to stand up, and she praised my essay as one of the most touching in the book, or something like that, I don't even remember, I burst into tears. I had to sit down. I even made a little gasping, crying sound! And I saw my dads eyes for a millisecond because I couldn't look at him either because he was crying too. If I remember correctly, I saw my dad cry two times in my life before Blue died. And since, I've seen him cry more than twice. Was he previously hiding his crying from me before because it wasn't about me? Or was he never really crying about stuff? I don't know. I'm balling right now and I don't know why either. (Hormones?)

Another anyway...More than one woman came up to me after the program and shared her story of baby loss. And that was gratifying. Eventually I pulled myself together enough to talk to the people in the room. In the end, it felt so nice to make those connections in the real world, and to be able to help another BLM. That's the whole point of this, right?

Here's the end of my essay. Another gratifying thing was that I advised Sylvia as to an ownership clause for her to publish the work of the contributors without controlling our own use of it. So it's totally legit that I am sharing it here. If you want the whole thing, let me know and I will post. It's only the last three little sentences that get me, but I had to provide a lead in. You may recognize a few lines, as I wrote the essay based on six months of blog posts. (Love to my loyal fans!)

I’m not sure when I stopped wanting to die. Somewhere in the way that life just went on, it started moving on for me too. The heavy fog of my sadness began to burn off slowly, without my really knowing it. I don’t mind thinking that the sun had come out. Still some days my grief is anything but pure. Some days it is so much anger and frustration it is rage. Some days I am still irritable. Some days I am belligerent. Some days, still, I am brittle, unpredictable, and utterly inconsolable.

But these are not the early days, and many days I feel light. The dark days are shorter, are less dark, and are fewer and further between. I may still not like where I am, but I am getting somewhere.

And everywhere I go, I know I’m not alone. My baby travels with me. His name is Blue. With a capital “B.” My baby’s name is Blue.