Friday, October 23, 2009

On Oprah

Since going on maternity leave, I must admit that I've become a fan of Oprah. It all started as a study. I watched her show to try to figure out why people worshiped her. I used to work at a book store back in high school, and her effect on book sales was unbelievable. She puts something in her book club, and it's an instant best seller. Why is that? How can she have that kind of power?

So, nearly four weeks ago, I started watching Oprah. And now, I'm one of them. I watch her and I'm mesmerized. She mentioned a certain brand of jeans yesterday, and all I wanted to do afterward was go out and buy those jeans. She had Chris Rock on recently promoting Good Hair, and since then, I've been dying to see that movie. Everything she does, everything she loves, I can't help but want to do and love also.

But the weird thing is, I still don't know why she has that affect on me, an otherwise independently minded, non-trend following person. Perhaps my removal from the working and social worlds has somehow shut down the part of my brain that can think for itself. Or maybe she really is that amazing. I have no idea.

The summer after I had meningitis was sort of similar to being on maternity leave, except for the caring for another human being part. I was mentally active, but physically unable to do much of anything. So I spent most days on the couch watching bad daytime television. That summer, I got hooked on the Rosie O'Donnell show. I loved her and watched her show religiously. She was part best friend, part therapist, part entertainer. When I was finally able to return to school, I never had a chance to watch her show during the day. It wasn't until about a year later that I happened to be home during the day and decided to revisit my old friend, the Rosie O'Donnell show — and I distinctly remember hating it. I remember thinking to myself, how on Earth did you get hooked on this show? It's mind numbing and insincere and in general, just plain stupid. But for whatever reason, when I was laid up and an emotional wreck after being sick, none of those things bothered me.

So maybe after I go back to work and my post-pregnancy hormones aren't raging quite as much as they are now, I'll catch Oprah again one day and wonder the same thing. Or maybe she'll feature some new product, and no amount of willpower will be able to keep me from going out and buying it.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


It's flu season, and I have an infant, so we haven't left the house much. Which has been fine by me, because I've been resting, relaxing, healing and nursing and all that good stuff. Also, it's been really, really crummy outside for days. So, staying cooped up with a newborn, having soup for lunch everyday and not doing much day after day hasn't really bothered me.

Until now. I'm ready to get out of the house now. I'm kind of surprised it took 3 weeks for me to get restless. Guess I needed the relaxation.

So it's official. The Wunder girls are ready to come visit you. Just tell me when and where, and we'll be there. Assuming you don't have the flu.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

When the baby sleeps

Oh my. It turns out finding time to blog when you have an infant is more difficult than I first thought.

You see, there's this magical time known as "when the baby sleeps." When I was pregnant, lots of people gave me the advice to "sleep when the baby sleeps." And back then, I was all gung ho about following that advice. Take naps everyday? Yes please. But it turns out that when that magical time arrives, it's my first chance to do other important things, like eating, drinking and going to the bathroom. Occasionally, I take a shower, do the dishes or change my clothes. And then if I'm really lucky, I'll do laundry or read. And sadly, blogging has sort of fallen to the end of the list. Which stinks, because I feel like I have so much to blog about. I write them in my head while nursing. Blogs about how Rosie's adjusting to her new sister, about Maya's well-developed sense of comedic timing, and about my bellybutton's refusal to return from outie to innie.

But those will have to wait for now because 1). Although I'm upstairs in the office, and Maya's sleeping downstairs in her pack n play, I clearly just heard some explosive poop action, and 2). Price is Right starts in 15 minutes.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The gory details

First of all, today was my due date. I can’t even remember what being pregnant and not being a mommy feels like right now. Crazy.

So, everything started two weeks ago today. That day was like any other Wednesday. Went to work, came home and went to the church to pick up our CSA food. We ate dinner, watched the greatest night of television ever (SYTYCD, followed by Glee, followed by Top Chef. God, I LOVE Wednesdays), and went to bed. But, I didn’t sleep too long. Around 3 a.m., I started having what I thought were Braxton-Hicks contractions. They weren’t too regular or extremely painful, but they were enough to keep me up. I went down to the couch so I wouldn’t wake up Chris, watched some TV and tried to get some rest.

The contractions continued through Thursday morning, and I wasn’t sure if they were the real deal, so I decided to stay home from work that morning to see what happened. The more I moved around, the less intense they got, so I went into work around 11 a.m.

At this point, even though I was pretty sure my contractions weren’t yet the real deal, I kind of knew labor wasn’t far off. So, I tried to tie up as many loose ends at work as possible. While there, the contractions continued about every half hour. Again, not terrible, but enough to take my concentration for a minute. I was also moving really slowly. So, just about everyone I saw at work could tell baby time was close, too.

That night, I just tried to relax and get some rest to see if the contractions slowed down, got more intense, etc. I was supposed to have a prenatal appointment Friday morning, so I thought I’d wait until then to see what was going on. We called my good friend and doula, Holly, to let her know what’s up.

The contractions were pretty steady through the night and started developing a pattern by Friday morning. Realizing this was finally happening, we called the midwife on call at our hospital to let her know what was going on. From the beginning, our plan was to labor at home as much as possible. I didn’t see any point in going to our prenatal appointment, and the midwife agreed, so we skipped it and stayed home. Holly came over and the three of us tried to get me to relax through contractions.

There were a few things that weren’t textbook early on. For one, the baby all on the left side of my belly. And second, although my contractions were getting closer together, they lasted between 60 seconds and 2 to 3 minutes each. (Normally, they should regulate to 60 seconds each.) To address to lopsided belly, Holly suggested a few different positions to try to get the baby to line up. Friday is kind of a blur now, but I remember walking around the backyard while Holly applied counter pressure on my lower back. It was a little show for the neighbors.

I also remember laboring with my yoga ball, laboring in the shower, and mostly, laboring in the rocking chair. That was the most comfortable position. Looking back on it now, I probably wasn’t helping myself my sitting in that rocking chair. I was so focused on getting comfortable, but if I had embraced the pain a little more, I probably would have moved things along faster.

Eventually, my contractions got to about 3 to 4 minutes apart (although their length still hadn’t regulated, nor would they ever regulate for another two days, but I’m getting ahead of myself), so we went to the hospital around 6 p.m. on Friday. Once there, we found out that I had fully effaced but only dilated to about 3 or 4 cm, which in natural childbirth terms, is pretty much nothing. I wanted to get to the hospital dilated to at least 6 cm or further. However, now I’m not sure that ever would have happened on its own.

So, we labored some more at the hospital. Again, Friday is kind of a blur, but I remember laboring in the tub, laboring in the bed, walking around and vigorously tapping my right foot to get through contractions. Chris would tap along with me to help. He and Holly took turns holding me, massaging me, applying counter pressure. My mom and sister came around 7 or 8 p.m. and joined in, too. I had an awesome support team.

At some point, I think after midnight but I don’t remember, the midwife checked me and I had only dilated to 4 or 5 cm. Frustrated, we kept laboring. My mom and sister left around 4 a.m. to get some rest, and my mom and dad went to my house to get Rosie and take her home with them for the night.

We kept laboring through the night and Saturday morning into the next midwife’s shift. (I feel like I shouldn’t name which midwives I had, but both were absolutely amazing.) Saturday’s a bit of blur now, too, but I remember trying out all kinds of different positions and techniques. I also remember starting to ask for drugs. I warned Chris months ago that even though I was totally set on a natural childbirth, when things got really bad, I knew I’d ask for drugs. And his job was to ignore me and change the subject and get me to work through it. So, he and Holly both got me to focus on each contraction and tried to distract me from insisting on drugs. It worked for the most part.

By Saturday afternoon, I still hadn’t dilated much more. We tried everything. The breast pump, showering, bathing, everything. But not only was I not progressing, I was starting to regress. The midwife said my cervix started to get swollen (sort of the opposite of effacement). We decided to break my bag of waters to see if we could get things moving forward. So I kept laboring. At this point, I was tired and weak and frustrated and scared. We were starting down a path toward a c-section, which was the last thing I wanted. (Later on, I would beg for one just to be done with everything. Luckily, my midwife rocks and talked me out of it).

Unfortunately, breaking the bag of waters did little to dilate me more. I think I got to about 6 or 7 cm, although Chris says I was further along. I don't remember. So, around 10 p.m. or so Saturday night, we had to move on to pitocin, a drug that makes you contract, and something I never wanted to have to use. But I pretty much had no choice at this point. This was the last option before a c-section. Pitocin makes contractions extremely strong, and I was physically kaput. I hadn’t slept in days. I hadn’t eaten much. I had been in active labor for close to 48 hours. I was done. So I begged for drugs again, and this time, my team didn’t fight me. So I got an epidural. I have to admit, it was pretty great. I passed out and slept for a few hours. Looking back, I wish I had been stronger. I’m disappointed because not taking drugs was extremely important to me. But I also know that I might not have gotten through pushing had I not gotten those few hours of sleep.

Which brings me to the happiest part of this whole experience. The pitocin worked, I fully dilated, and I was able to deliver my baby without having a c-section. (I’d should note here that I know a lot of women who have had c-sections and I don’t mean to suggest that it’s a horrible thing. Personally, I just wanted to avoid surgery at all costs. I’ve had enough surgeries in my lifetime.) We had to wait a bit for the epidural to wear off because I couldn’t feel a thing, which made pushing really difficult. According to Chris, I pushed for 2.5 hours. It didn’t seem like that long to me, but I hear it’s common for women not to realize how much time passes during labor.

Eventually, after three days of hard work, I had beautiful baby girl on Sunday morning. She came out slightly at an angle, with the umbilical cord around her neck (this is super common, and her heartbeat never dropped), and with her elbow up near her face, which explains why the labor was so long and complicated. But she’s perfectly healthy, and beautiful, and well, perfect. I’m a proud mommy.

So that’s my birth story. I’m sure I’m forgetting stuff, like how pushing hard made me dry heave, and the weird show about donkeys we watched on Saturday in between contractions, but this little post is nearing 1,500 words, so it’s time to wrap it up. I promise to post more often, especially because like other mommy bloggers, I’m getting good at this typing with one hand thing.