29 December 2010

Color outside the lines

Live a gutsy, self-aware life.
Ignite the spark in your soul and lay down the
tracks to the songs in your heart. Define your reason for being; go deep, soak up your essence,
then honor your authentic self.
Break the chains that bind you.
Free yourself from your self-imposed restrictions
and be courageous towards all that you dread.
Don’t let the fear of judgment quell your spirit.
Proudly flaunt your humanity,
with all its exquisite imperfections.
Experience the edge of life.
Make mistakes. Color outside the lines.
Go to the brim of what is familiar and jump off.
After all, a vibrant life is filled with stops,
starts and stumbles.
Participate in your dreams and have faith.
You are standing on the edge of bliss.
Do it. Do that next big thing.
Become your own hero. ©

27 December 2010

the bottle

So yeah, the bottle.

Today is a bottle only day from 9-3 or so... we are working up toward full days. It turns out I don't have enough banked in the freezer to do a full day since I started pumping once a day not for banking but for bottle feeding practice, and the amount I was pumping in the beginning was so small it is taking the output of 3 or 4 pumpings to make one feeding.

So... my strategy (guess there wasn't one) wasn't one. So hear me people of the pump-- before you do the pump/bottle only transition as if you are at work again, make sure you bank more than a day's worth so you can make the transition AND have some left over for emergencies. Or you can do the transition on formula.

A confession: I am hating it. The pumping is a little persnickety-- got a GREAT double pump (Medela Freestyle) on super sale. Used cones that were too small for the first month. Got bigger cones and felt a little better. If the flanges are not exactly right, there is no suction which is evil and you have to take it apart and reassemble. I was pumping in the morning, Doug offered a bottle to Della, then I would finish by nursing for a while-- this was a great bridge for both of us-- feeding via bottle then soothing via nursing for both baby and mom. Then we moved to bottles and no soothing in the morning feeding. And today, bottles, no soothing, and I hate not nursing. I miss feeding her. Snuggling. I hate what it means (to me at this time) which is work is about to begin again.

Two weeks from today I start back at work. I am not sure how many days a week or if I will have a job at all. But. But I am thinking about options that support my/our highest and best, trying to imagine balancing our very real need for financial income with my very real need to not be drained emotionally and with my consuming desire for more time with Della. And I might get laid off anyway. So. I am just not enjoying this.

In fairness, I have a pre-existing hate relationship with pumping because of my experience in the hospital (no milk at all) then at home trying to increase my supply. It made me feel like a failure to see so little milk (or no milk) in those bottles after pumping. God. I hate it. It made me feel like I was failing at One More Thing. Damn IF sets us up for this incremental self (esteem) destruction. Everything that does not work easily or well or at all feels so symbolic. Gah. Add baby screaming while feeding at the breast and not screaming at all while taking the bottle and.... yeah.

Now taking fenugreek and blessed thistle, drinking mother's milk tea. reading the book Making More Milk which is excellent but hard to read (It should have caveats like: THIS IS REALLY HARD, and THIS IS TEMPORARY).

For all of you who have fought your way through to your own conclusion about this thorny issue, I hear you. This is one of the thorniest.

25 December 2010


I spend a lot of time thinking about gratitude, steeped in it, reveling.
Even with tears and hard times, I cannot think of anything I would rather be doing than this. Yes, even with the fumbling newness of me in this role.

I am beyond lucky.

I got a call from Boston IVF checking in on me (I called when she was born but apparently it was not communicated to my doc's office specifically) and I got choked up telling this perfect stranger about her.

What if they had not said yes?

Today we go to my beloved sister's to celebrate being together more than anything else.
Tomorrow a snow storm will complicate our travels.
And, believe me universe, there is no place I would rather be than this.

Happy holidays to all of you, however you celebrate, and even if you don't. For me this is about the return of light and gathering with loved ones.

Ands a sincere hope: May all your wishes come true in the new year.

22 December 2010


Just a short post today- new snow, big big moon and the nights (these darkest days) are flooded with light and magnificent shadows.

Lengthening days, ahhh, just believing it to be true is balm, but this, my friends, is based on belief, it sure does not feel that way and won't for weeks. Dark at 4:30 here.

A good OB appointment today, lots of questions answered. 6 months. Until pelvis stabilizes, until scars heal more fully.

Speaking of doctors , a new medication for Della for reflux. Ahh the ongoing mysteries of the crying baby. So very hard when she is Just Wanting to Nurse and can't. BUT yesterday was more peaceful. I am hopeful.

Me, today a haircut (6-8"!), lightheaded.
A rite of sorts, not sure what I am shedding-- weight for sure.

19 December 2010


First, an overdue link to the wonderful
Susan Mullen photos she has on her blog. Of the others that she has sent to us, I love so many... oh my. What you can do with talent and a mostly empty diner... for fun I chose just one for this post of Della yawning-- (prelude to a roar perhaps?)

Miss Della is doing wonderfully, lovely lovely, beautiful and very funny. She smiles a lopsided grin that is completely disarming and she does not give it up easily. Doug makes her smile more easily than I do, but she often smiles at me when I am not expecting it, and oh, my heart. She talks to us too, loads of vocalizations, and watches us so intently while we talk.
She's begun to drool and spit up after doing neither for the first 5 weeks. And she snorts. That's my girl.

On wednesday, I adventured out, meeting Baby Smiling In Back Seat for a three act event of craft fair, lunch and diaper shopping. Ever want to be humbled? Meet up with a now time-tested mother of toddling and delightful twins, while wrangling your own 5 week old and your own awkward if hard won new fumbling motherhood. Oh my. She is lovely (truly, as in beautiful) and was such great company-- patient, helpful, smartsmart, pragmatic, supportive, genuine. Her not-so-little ones are beautiful miracles, and I realized once again just how quickly time has passed, since I thought they were about 6 months old and they were born last October!

I survived, Della survived and we made it home and collapsed feeling vaguely successful.

Then, bravekate, I went out to dinner with my dear friend Tammy last night and brought Della, and it went fine. So, look at me! A big girl! Going out!

Good grief. I swear, it is scary although I am not sure exactly why.
Ok that's a lie.
I am afraid of failure and screwing up, I don't like feeling incompetent. But this is not a life stopper, just an awareness I have to work around. I am pretty sure at some point once I get the basics down it will get less intense.

And in the something-to-look-forward-to category, I might get to see Sprogblogger early in the new year! (WHOO HOO).

That's it for the moment, much more to write about (breastfeeding/bottle/pumping, my belly, more advice from a newbie), but must run. This post has taken two days to write. I am absolutely in the midst of the newbaby vortex. I am not sure I have ever lived so intensely.

13 December 2010

week 5, first snow

Today is Della's 5th week birthday and we woke to our first real snow of the season. yes, only about an inch, but lovely, and the woods are so still that it hardly looks real.
Snow brings the trees closer, and all of a sudden, my house in the woods feels like a house in the woods. In the fall, everything steps back, opens, but now, it feels like I can reach out and touch lichen on a tree trunk.

This weekend we did an overnight in Maine-- a last minute and perhaps insane trip that resulted in Della sleeping 4 hours or so in a row which was magnificent but a one time deal. And, because she has never ever done anything like that ever ever, I could not believe it was happening and spent a lot of time watching her, wondering if she was going to wake up soon.... so I got more sleep than usual, but she really did.

Saw my delightful friend Susan (our insanely gifted photographer) and yes, she took some photos while we ate lunch. Doug was wrangling Della in his easy made-for-this way, and I am so excited to see photos. (LOVED seeing her.)

But the trip itself, we just did it, we just packed up and went as if we could, giving ourselves every out if it did not work out. But you know? It worked out ok. But I confess: I feel I could go anywhere with Doug. He is magnificent with Della, and totally patient and does not flip out or assume difficulty. Changing the baby in a bathroom? You just do it, figure it out, no worries. WOW please god/goddess/all-that-is, please let his wonderful personality rub off on me, and please please let Della have gotten more of him than me in this way.

I am an all-that-can-go-wrong overthinker (not ultimately to the exclusion of all else, not terminally, but I confess, it is my nature), so it is really good for me to be with someone who just does things. They get done. No trauma, no duress. Options to change.

I nursed in public and it was not an issue at all, just need to remember that I am not ok with full boob (mine) exposure in public, so I went under rather than over, and had smartly arranged for belly coverage which also mattered and made me feel more at ease (and warmer!)
Anyway, things worked or they didn't and we adjusted (instead of freaking out) and it was all ok.
Only one regret: I did not take any photos of the ocean on saturday, but maybe I was meant to have it be a memory-- the sky and water the same color, with a slightly darker line at the horizon, and lighter along each wave crest. I am not sure I have every seen anything more beautiful.

Today has been designated a rest day after I felt like crap yesterday- just tired I think, and emotionally raw. I would hike but I need stillness today more than movement. But tomorrow might bring an adventure and I need to have my feet under me.

Tireegal, I live in Southern New Hampshire which is why the cold and snow and ice. But yesterday was balmy truly.
And I went on a mini adventure- no, not the coffee shop, but a solo with Della trip to get snow tires and an oil change, and we survived just fine.

Fear sucks ass, as does the presumption of failure/calamity/hardship/incompetence. I hope I can shake some of this useless stuff. It is like trying to run with really heavy shoes with no flexibility in the sole.

07 December 2010

heartache for Elizabeth

Oh my heart aches for my dear friend Elizabeth, who lost her husband Will to complications from acute lung rejection (he had CF and a transplant) on November 29th. In my more intermittent internet time, I just learned about it today.

There is such strength and love in all that she has written, including this most recent post. Please, if you can, go send love. I do not know how folks manage coping with the loss of a loved one after an acute or chronic illness, where you know loss is possible or maybe even probable, but fight every fight to keep it at bay.

I can only send love, which I am, which I do.

brown sugar and cinnamon

28 days since Della was born.
how is that possible?
I write a letter to Della every week, to try to capture some of the details of the week since she changes so quickly. But she is also so very much her own self in very stable and consistent ways. We are getting to know her facial expressions, and starting (slowly!) to understand her different cries.

Doug is singing to her right now, they are rapt in each other's attention.
Doug is a goateed fellow and kisses Della in a way that tickles on purpose to see her smile and laugh. Totally addictive.

Sparkle lights around the window make it dreamier.
I cannot quite believe this is real.
Yes, diapers, and laughter and tears and happiness and tired and tough moments, yes complexities, and expected radical life changes, but somehow, it feels a little like I might wake up from a Versed nap and hear a kind nurse tell me apologetically that I only had 2 eggs retrieved. Or something. And this whole thing was a dream.

Last night I spent mostly awake, uncomfortable with bladder and urethra issues, so I called the doc today, went in and peed in a cup. But I've been tested already since the delivery and there was no infection so I think it is just irritated. The catheter and I are not friends. Functionally? Absolutely. It was fabulous not to have to get up to pee that first day after Della was born. But physically? Not so much.
I'm on some numbing stuff and cranberry extract until the results come back (48 hours). Clean catch is much easier when not working around a giant pregnant belly.

I will write about my belly soon, but a different post I think.

I have been thinking, on and off, about details. They come back at strange times and in strange ways. Last night, shivering briefly in bed (I shiver when I am tired, and oh was I tired) I realized/remembered how shaky I was during the contractions, how I could not stop shaking once they got intense. How it was one of the first things Doug noticed when I woke him that morning.

I also was thinking, as I ate my morning oatmeal, of my first food after Della: oatmeal with brown sugar and cinnamon. God it was good. Manna.
Of course I had not eaten anything but apple juice for 2 and a half days by then so yes, it was really really good.

And one more thing before I go-
Ok-- a small unpaid plug here for a product we like: the power of email aside, there are some folks we wanted to send real live baby announcements to, like the Boston clinic and Dartmouth, our families, etc. Our baby announcements came today from tinyprints.com. Very nice quality, shipping as specified, and really easy to do (I had 2 minutes and had it done and ordered in that time). They have great customer service although a strange grasp of grammar, they had a suggestion for a change and sent me an e-proof that I was able to review and select for printing or not as I chose. They even called to make sure I received the email with the proof and were really, really nice about it.
The default finish is matte and is very nice (card stock, very nice digital printing).

And no, I did not go to the coffee shop yet. That will probably wait (more) until I have a sudden brave urge. I promise I will let you know how it goes!

05 December 2010

ice crystal baleen and international orange

So today I did one of two things planned: I hiked.
The coffee shop may happen tomorrow, we'll see.

I put on my bright orange vest and hiked up to the first overlook, much farther than I expected.

I left late and the sky was filled with low clouds and soft yellow light.

At the base of the trail, I watched my feet on the slippery oak leaves, the glimmers of ice on rock, and crunched my way across ice that pushes upwards, stalagmites, opening the soil and raising it-- amazing really. In some places this ice is so high and so uniform, it looks like baleen, striated curtains. I remember thinking this every year, rediscovering it, surprised by the power of the formation of crystals to move the earth.

As I climbed higher, I started to look up and out. The light was so soft. The hillsides are nearly totally bare of leaves, even the oaks are nekkid this year, only a few held any leaves at all. So the woods were open and the feeling as I made my way up was one of openness too- sky and empty branches. I loved looking out across through the woods, seeing so much sky even in the thick of it.

I made my way slowly, honored the budded blueberry bushes that are thinking about next year's fruit...
I stayed long enough to breathe, to thank my body for the journey thus far, to really look out, to see the familiar lump and roll of the land and hillsides as they fall away and rise across the little valley, and take note that the ice on the bog is actually visible from up there....

I knew Della was safely taken care of, and I did not feel that I needed to rush. But oh, I missed her. So coming home felt warmer even than usual. And I got home before dark.

I wrote to my mom to tell her of my adventure, and I just got this amazing, beautiful reply:

and there I was peering through the trees knowing that the
sky was glorious but only seeing fringes of the gold, peach
and slight grey and white and pale blue and and and....
but you were IN it !! How perfect.
so glad for your mini adventures.
xox momma

And I wonder: What will I write to Della?

baby steps (mine)

Kate at 9 months pregnant noticed things the unpregnant or not-quite-as-pregnant kate did not notice:

In the parking lot of a mini mall, a well dressed, well put together (clean) woman saunters by with a newborn tied in a mai-tai (baby hawk) carrier, looking totally comfortable together. Kate misses seeing the mom tie the baby carrier on, but the baby is peaceful and asleep, so much so, that the mom shops slowly and deliberately in the second hand store...

In the grocery or target or wherever, it seems millions of parents are there WITH THEIR BABIES-- most in car seats, some (once sitting) in nifty little germ protecting nests of brightly colored cotton... nearly all are peaceful.

Coffee shop-- women with babies, sitting and talking, their babies asleep in carriers or on laps or nursing or in car seats. How is this possible?

All of which I am now considering to be evidence of some serious parenthood MYTHOLOGY on the hoof.

Well, in my real life, I have a baby that does not like to be put down, ever, for longer than a few minutes... I cannot soothe her like Doug does unless it involves one of my (borrowed and enhanced) body parts... In the carrier, I need to be in motion. HOW do people do this?

So, the other day, to celebrate 3 weeks, I took Della out in the car. Just the two of us. I live in a drive-to place, since we live sticks (I envy Sprogblogger's walk-to city life sometimes).... so I bundled Della into the car seat, wrestled the car seat into my sub-compact for the first time with an actual baby in it (I have an old Scion Xa that has 5 doors. 5 doors = forethought no kidding, I really thought about the baby seat issue even way back when, but shallow back seat is NOT amenable to giant Graco seat base or seat, which will only get bigger as she does...)

We drove for about 45 minutes, around the block. There was some crying but none of it was mine.
Then home safely.

Last week, Doug and Della and I took a ride that required that I nurse in the car in parking lots, twice. And I needed to learn to tie on the mai tai myself while sitting in the passenger seat (awkward but not at all awful). Doug did the turbo cold weather back seat diaper change. We did take his bigger car since mine will not allow a passenger any comfort when the baby seat is in the car.
There was some crying, but none of it mine.

Today I am hoping to do this:
I am hoping to have the umph to bundle Della into the car seat, wrestle the car seat into my car, drive downtown (15 minutes) and bring her into a coffee shop with me (in my arms or in a front carrier), order something (tea? I am currently off of soy, and therefore also off of my occasional soy chai lattes to see if I can help Della's stomach be calmer). Back into the car and back here.

Friday, I will do a solo trip that includes nursing in parking lots at least once, and at least one diaper change ... and this is after our Dr appointment where I will do something similar but with Doug as my wingman.

Incremental baby steps, out into the world. Learning learning learning. I am not sure how long (if ever) it will take to feel comfortable or remotely competent or capable. This seemingly simple stuff is really surprisingly hard.

Days pass where I literally do not step out of the house (which for me is nutty).
So today or tomorrow I hope to take a walk alone, even though it is long underwear cold with a biting wind. Start the incremental treks up my hill that I somehow equate with mental stability. I don't have clearance to exercise but I can walk. So I will walk uphill. Slowly. Until I realize I need to stop.

B--although we have walked, I have yet to hike with Della since she does not quite have the stamina (nor do I, I bet). And even in the front mai tai carrier, I am not sure how to dress her to be warm enough but not too warm since our bodies are against one another. Hats and hoods just fall into her eyes (her hair is like teflon), zipped up jackets end up biting her under her chin.
And thank you for the moby offer, but I think we're good. I am open to a cast off Ergo carrier though-- anyone? Pretty much dislike the Bjorn, but love its simplicity.

I am stuck by just how much feels foreign. How do I.....?
But somehow, we do. We all do.
We figure out how to stick needles in our bellies. Over and over and over.
We chart.
We temp.
We learn new languages.
We show up for weird invasive procedures. And then show up and do it again. And again.
We use GPSs to find our way to new clinics.
We get creative with finances and debt.
We somehow do foreign and crazy things each step of the way, don't we?
And we do it. We just do. Because it matters to us so much.
We figure out how.

So, if I can just get Over It, and realize (with my actual non intellectual self) that this not knowing is a life long thing, and expected, and totally ok, and all will be fine....
just try it, figure it out, if the baby cries, you can leave a 2o on the table and walk out.
If the baby cries you can leave a cart full of groceries.
If the baby cries you can turn around and go home, make another choice, change your mind, adapt to the situation.

So I wonder why it is so hard to remember it?
It is because I have images of competent women mothering in the world and figured you either are or aren't and I fear I know what category I am in?
Thanks culture, I appreciate that.
Sort of a marthastewarting of the parenting process.
no poop just gold dust and (well arranged) flowers.
(It is not culture's fault really, it is mine for buying into it even a little, subconsciously, unconsciously, in spite of my advanced age and all that I know to be true- just enough to feel like I must be doing it wrong)

Isn't it interesting what mythologies we create for ourselves? What impossibilities we set out for ourselves to never be able to live up to? (dangling participles notwithstanding?)

So yes, finding my way. And yes, this is oddly about me. Della will be Della, she is not tied up in oughts and shoulds. Hope I can allow myself to move more and more toward her way of being, which is so blissfully unfettered and weighted down by expectations and assumptions. Her way of being is just that: BEING.

She may be my littlest teacher, but her voice is mighty.

03 December 2010

how we are today

Just another short hello--
I lose track of days, day of the week, day of the month- day and night I still have pretty well sorted, but now these short days, well, that could change.

Sleep happens in little pieces
but joy happens almost every moment, except the screaming, those moments/minutes/hours suck ass. But there is such calmness in this so much of the time. Sleeping baby, warm and heavy, laying across my body. Or tucked in to nurse. Or a smile (yes! already!) that is nearly heartbreaking and certainly breathtaking.

Belly issues are being dealt with with mylicon, or colic calm depending on how bad it is. If she can still nurse, I do mylicon. If she is too distraught to nurse, then colic calm (which I think has baby crack in it-- she loves it a little too much). We rock and jiggle, walk and sway and bounce.

My tenderness remains, and for all I know may always.
this kind of rawness, well, the only thing like it is acute grief, but this isn't that. It is not that soul sucking. But it is that surprising in the intensity.

Della is beautiful, Doug is magnificent, and me? I wish there was some way to just be home with her. Work looms, but in these moments, being here with her is all I need to do.

There is so much I want to write, and so little time to do so. I hope I can remember.
I hope I hope I hope.

01 December 2010

colic calm

Thank you, sincerely, for all of your sympathy, help, suggestions and honest disclosure. You all rock. I hope to write more soon, but for now...

just a short one -handed post to say:

Colic calm gripe water

hot damn
CVS $20 mysterious black liquid magic.

28 November 2010

how we are

So how are we?

Here I am with a beautiful miracle of a baby- yes, as expected, sleep deprived, yes, time deprived. Yes, challenged beyond belief at this astonishing little being who can only communicate in at least one language I do not know.

She smiles in her sleep and my heart melts, and I did not expect to be cracked so wide open, and feel SO TOTALLY VULNERABLE to all of my own feelings of insecurity, inadequacy, incompetence... I can now change a diaper masterfully, thank you, but there are so many parts of this that I simply make up all day long, every day and I do not feel I am gaining on it.

I am torn to pieces when Della cries and I cannot console her, especially while she is nursing... but Doug is masterful, patient, and is able to help her calm when I cannot. Sometimes I can stay very calm for longer than I would ever have expected but come evening time, well, all bets are off.

I hate that I don't know what to do, how to help, what it means, or how BAD it is for her-- really hungry? tired and can't let herself sleep? just frustrated? maybe just blowing off steam?
We do the happiest baby stuff- swaddling, really loud shushing, swaying, etc, and it does work (hurrah Dr. Karp) but it is hard to do that for hours. No idea how to keep her settled and still(?) once settled with noise and motion. Ideas are welcome.

Breast feeding is going fine and I am so glad it is working. Della was up over 9lbs this past week at her 2 week appointment which is great and is clearly thriving. But it is a little challenging just by being so frequent and so lengthy- an hour of feeding every two hours, with some multi hour marathons, and of course I know it will get better as she gets older but right now it is hard hard. We do get occasional longer stretches that are lovely (thanks Doug!) and I sleep when I can.

I am already dreading pumping, trying to get her to take a bottle (already failed on our first attempt), going back to work, being away from her at all.

Several of you asked about how I am writing at all in the new baby vortex-- I write by writing fast and not editing, stolen time during Doug's baby wrangling (he is singing and dancing with her in the kitchen)..

We are all wishing we had more time here, to just be, to settle in, but I have a month or so before I have to go back to work
and Doug goes into the office tomorrow
and Della will be 3 weeks on tuesday, how is that possible?

So things are amazing, wonderful, great, difficult, teary (me, gosh darn), teary (Della), fun as can be (Doug), and I would not trade it for anything in the world.

Hormones suck ass though, I'm just sayin.

I did not expect to spend so much time crying or trying not to cry. No, no, not every day, not all day long, but tired+ crying baby+ feelings of inadequacy mean that gosh darn, every few days I come apart over something, feeling of extra tenderness, and then it is hard to get everything back under wraps the way I prefer. I am FINE being happy, but being sad/teary makes me feel horrible as you already know. I know it is hormones, and it is not always at all. I have many more moments of peace and happiness than sadness. But it still sucks ass.

So anyone out there have ideas for managing a fussy baby?
And I am open to ideas about how to prepare for pumping/bottle feeding during work hours.
Any favorite bottles for the discriminating baby?

27 November 2010

birth story, part 5

They checked me every half hour or so (NO PAIN during the checks which was lovely, truly, what a relief), and after each check, nurse D cranked pitocin up and up and up and up, and at 2:45 am or so, she had the doc come by.

Sarah came in from the lounge where she has been listening to her mind race, Doug woke from the sofa...
and the doc checked me after the nurse did, and said what I had feared: after 3 hours of monster pitocin plus the epidural, I had progressed in the smallest possible way, I was still only 7cm dilated.

At this point, the baby was starting to show stress/exhaustion. Heart rate of up to 170 then down, then up again--and by far the most important thing for me ever is/was safe baby-- so it was no surprise at all when she said it was time for a C section.

Doc D was called (was still in the hospital)-- there was some fun trying to get me ready for surgery since Doc D had threaded the epidural through my tank top, and remember, that little sucker (epidural) was only in by 2 cm... so there was some undoing, unthreading, Was I even in a hospital gown? or was I nekkid? no idea, just that things moved very swiftly.

Doug got a big white mechanic jumpsuit that made him look like an Elvis impersonator, and they wheeled me down the hall. We got to wait for a while outside the scrub area while they prepped the room, put my hair in a net, told me about the other people who would be in the room (a mean nurse, a guy named Steve who keeps track of the Things so they make sure nothing is unaccounted for when they are done sewing you up) then into the OR where it was damn cold. Dr D was with me, by my head, the whole time and incredibly present.
Dr S from my OB practice was the OB on duty that whole night and I have failed to say how great she was with me- how clear, and how compassionate, and Kendal (whom I adore) was with her in the OR so I felt that I was in really really good hands.

Mean nurse would not let two folks be in with me, so Sarah waited in the room (now, without the bed, she said it was bizarre to be there waiting)-- and apparently they decided Doug's goatee needed to be covered too--

In the OR, they moved me to the table, careful of the epidural (I was practicing handing over control), then on the table they started to prep me, put in the catheter, swab my belly, etc, while Dr D gave me more medication to make me go numb. Luckily the window of aliveness in my crotch was not in the window of pain for the C section, so after testing me for sensation (full sensation of pressure, none of sharpness in the zone)-- they started.
Dr D kept saying, look at me, look at me, stay with me here, don't let the anxiety get you-- and I remember a few weird things:
Looking up I was impressed at how present he was for me, considering that he had been so grouchy during the epidural,
and how he looked me right in the eyes like I was a real person in real stress/duress not just one of a thousand of these he does each year...
I was impressed at how carefully he shaved his neck, ending perfectly at the border of his underchin goatee, and

suddenly, they had begun, I felt the pressure of the scalpel...
but Doug was not there!
I remember saying over and over, Wait! where's Doug?
Where's Doug?

they so clearly were trying to get me open and get the baby out...
there was a new sense of urgency (or new that I noticed)...
then, just about exactly at the time they were yanking and I do mean YANKING the baby out of my body
Doug miraculously arrived at my head, (Doug saw my body lift each yank)
Dr. D took the camera, we had a lens fault (classic),
got that cleared up by turing it off and back on again...and he took photos over the blue curtain...
then we heard him say, here he comes... no wait,
you have a daughter! and then, finally, a cry
and we burst into tears

They showed her to us over the partition, so briefly, a pissed off red faced baby- ALIVE.

And that, my friends, is the single most amazing moment of my life so far.

Very soon they brought her up near my head. Dr D took the photo of Doug holding Della near my head, and he undid one of my arms from the soft restraints so I could touch her face. I could NOT believe she was real, it was over, and all that happened, the whole long journey was over.

Doug and I asked each other what her name was, that moment, as they took her away- and we agreed, Della.

And then Doug went with her, and I got sewn up,
and just kept thinking about her
Our Daughter.

birth story, part 4

After hours of hideous nubane contractions (see Sarah's comment on the last post for her take on this whole chapter)... cervix recheck, still at 4-5cm.

I could not believe it. I think this is when I started to think I might not be able to do this. I mean, really not.
I am not sure, but I think this may be when I started to say OW and fuck or shit instead of just my weird single note toning during contractions, but maybe it was a little later.
It was evening now-- 24 hours since my water broke. Nurse D came on.

My lack of progress was incredibly disheartening-- I just felt like I was sinking each time they checked and each time it was the same. Pitocin was discussed with doc. And we all decided that it might help kick my dilation into gear-- they promised to be gentle, to start slowly. I asked about an epidural since I was so scared about the increased pain, but we all decided to see how I did, and then decide. If progress was quick, it might not be necessary.
D asked if maybe I would be more comfortable laboring in one of my own shirts- YES, and somehow we all changed me into a tank top.
And we started pitocin.
I also got a dose of antibiotics that tasted horrible in my mouth.

And then hours passed. Pitocin was increased twice.

They kept checking me, but even with the pitocin, I was barely dilating. Barely. 4-5? 5-6? The baby's head was deep and engaged, totally ready. I was even getting rectal pressure (sorry folks, but truth)-- and I would reward my own survival with tiny micro pushes, tiny ones, just hello body, I am pushing a little. I remember hearing Sarah say at some point (then? or before at the tub?) that it sounded like I was in transition. Well I sure was, but my body wasn't.

Late at night we conferred with the doctor again, decided on an epidural and very strongly increasing the pitocin. For those of you who know me, you KNOW how tired I was, how intense the pain was if I agreed to an epidural. Doctor D was summoned, a cranky interesting man, the bringer of pain relief and surly grumpiness.
But, oddly, he also brought the first laugh in a while--

he told me all the Bad Things That Could Happen, which I asked about and wanted to know- then I leaned into Doug and Doc D began to try to do the epidural while explaining the process out loud to Kendal, the magnificent med student at my OB's for her rotation-- I remember him remarking that "since I was slender"..... (??? SLENDER? Like a beluga whale?) but I guess from the back I was. I have no idea where Sarah was (Sarah, did you watch?)-- but he did look around at one point and ask me if the stuffed elephant on the window sill was a childhood toy. And I said, no, it is an adult toy. And then said oh my god, no, I did not mean that! and we all laughed-- two docs, med student, nurses, Doug and Sarah.

I remember Doc D feeling my hips, my spine, telling me the needle would not really hurt much, and you know, it didn't much, just a sting (menopur wins)--then he put in the epidural, I felt pressure, but nothing alarming, the beginning of warm heaviness in my legs, and then he said Uh Oh. Apparently it went into a vein not an artery, he backed it out, told me everything that was happening-- of all the uh oh's this one was not a bad one, he was able to reposition it rather than redo it, but then the epidural was in just 2cm. Taped into place, and I was told to stay pretty darned still so it did not dislodge.
There was an immediate and subtle abatement of most of the pain, a moment of sparkling sparkler feelings in my left thigh, and then, substantial relief.

I told him I thought that maybe I loved him.
It turns out, that there was one window of 1" x 3" in my crotch, in the contraction pain zone, that did not get numb at all. And so while things were *MUCH BETTER*, each fiery contraction came and went through that window, enough so I felt awake or at least conscious during each one, but was able to do something like doze/rest in between. The relief was immense. But that window sucked rocks.

Sarah went to try to sleep on the sofa in the lounge, Doug passed out (once he saw my face relax) on the sofa thingy in the room...and for a while, it was just me and the nurse and the monitors and the pitocin.

26 November 2010

birth story, part 3

I did forget things-- like how during the first contractions at the hospital, a gush of fluid exited me. It was almost funny,
contraction+ gush
contraction +gush
and each time I would announce, panting, "Another Gush!" because for me it was so remarkable, and I guess I could not believe how much fluid there was.

So, the tub.
Somehow, I said yes to the tub and they started to fill it.
I'd seen the tub during the tour-- a big tub, BIG. And we all laughed since they had little aquarium skimmers handy for, um, skimming any unintentionals out of the water.
They have arm length gloves for in-water cervix checks and for baby delivery...
and they asked that dads please bring swim trunks if they wanted to join their beloved in the birth tub at any time.
Let me say this: Doug is NOT a water person. So there would be no "joining".
Never mind the skimming.
The gushing.
I am not knocking folks who share the whole experience but gosh darn, I don't think I am ready to bond that fully (come, my love, and share in a soup of my bodily excretia).

So the time comes to walk down the hall. My IV was unhooked.

The only way I think I made it was to imagine the instantaneous pain relief of hot water, of buoyancy, of that big tub.
I don't know how we made it down the hall, how long it took, I only know my eyes were mostly closed. I do know Doug walked me.
I do know we got into the room.
I got nekkid.
they put a truly green exam glove over my IV port hand, taped it around my wrist and asked that I keep it out of the water.
I do not remember getting in
how I remember being in the tub.
BLISS feels like an odd word to use the in the landscape of such intense physical sensation, but it was blissful. Warm, I tried to will my body to relax around the intensity. Asked my shoulders to stay low and soft, asked my friken cervix to open, asked my hips to release the pain.
Bloody show! Nurse W would exclaim and then work some magic with her skimmer. I hung on to Doug at the edge of the tub. The bottom of the tub was smooth and it was deep, there were no handles, no places to sit, just straight sides about 2.5' deep, hot water.
My sister arrived when I was in the tub. I remember her voice, and her hand in mine. I opened my eyes only long enough to register her presence. Hopefully said something welcoming. I do not know.

About thus time Nurse G arrived to take over for nurse W (split shift) and they realized they needed to monitor the baby since I had been in the tub for several hours. I remember a long process of them putting goop on transmitter, transmitter into water toward baby/belly, goop washing off transmitter... over and over and over until they asked me to get out so they could monitor the baby.
Getting out sucked ass. The water was getting cool so they told me they would refill the tub.
Stepping out of that tub, over that ledge, was insane. I remember being toweled off, lying on the bed, monitors back on, maybe a cervix check. As Doug says, they did that a lot.
They did.
A lot.
Because almost nothing was happening.

It was afternoon I know now but did not know then. I think I was finally as far as 4cm.
Back out of the tub we talked about pain management. The doc was consulted, nubane prescribed since it had a lower chance of causing nausea. So back I went to the room (no recollection of this journey), back on the IV, nubane administered. And what it did for me was not to take the edge off at all-- no relief at all-- I ended up calling it "the consolidator" (my sister calls it the exorcist drug) -- it took my gaussian contractions (ramp up, sustained bad, ramp down) and took away the ramping-- now a rect function (instant on, sustained bad, I don't remember how they ended)-- so the contractions slammed me with their intensity.

I got on my hands and knees, it helped some, but then they needed to check me again. So back on my back. And once I was lying down, it was nearly impossible to talk myself into moving.

Hours passed.

24 November 2010

birth story, part 2

And so, late on the 7th (11:30 pm-ish?), after maybe dozing or maybe not (hard to sleep when you realize this is real, and a baby Will Be Coming Soon, somehow, through your body), real contractions began. This was not an ease-into-it, gradually-increasing-sensation sort of beginning... this was a holy shit, pedal to the metal sort of 0-60 in 2.3 seconds sort of beginning...with a second shitty surprise: the contractions were entirely unlike menstrual cramps, and instead were pelvis-is-breaking hip/back/butt radiating firepain I rated 10/10 in my notebook.

I woke Doug at 1:45, who pointed out that it was snowing.
no kidding.
Thus my criteria for real labor was met.

On my way to pee and I had another big gush of liquid. Staggered to the bathroom, assessed fluid as copious and pink, and called the birth center. I had not been timing the contractions so we did that for an hour-- they were not all the same intensity, but the strong ones seriously sucked the breath out of me. About 4 minutes- 4.5 start to start, and lasting a minute and a half each...
I called again at 3-- E said to come in even though the criteria was 3 minutes apart-but not to rush. So I showered (it was part of my birth plan to begin the journey clean....)--the hot water felt good but most was spent bending over, hands braced on the edges of the tub, gasping... we dressed, already had stuff in the car, called my sister to confer about the weather (she lives two states away), and decided that she should wait until daybreak to head up but only if the snow had stopped. I kept having to stop our conversation to heave over the kitchen sink-- no barfing, just heaving, with the pain.

Off we went--much less jauntily.
The snow turned to rain as we headed north...
This time I could not walk-- to the car, to the hospital. I felt broken, breaking. I cannot describe the pain it was so intense and so unexpected. I expected the semi-familiar landscape of uterine, or cervical pain, and with maybe some back pain. I never heard about this option, this broken/breaking pelvis and hips option. I was completely paralyzed with it.

In we went, stopping, starting... but this time into a labor room not triage... I was asked to get nekkid again, into the tent like gown again, by then fluid in pad was greenish which I knew was miconium and knew that it put us into a different category... E tested the pad, and yup, my water had broken. So we were there for the duration.

Dilation? None. Horrible painful check, and fingertip/1cm but thinned nicely. Contractions 3-4 minutes apart. Baby heartrate great. Doctor called.

In between contractions which took me totally inside, one part of me asked in a Very Whiny Voice how could I have been having contractions that felt so shitty for so many hours, water broken for what, 8 or 9 hours? and not be dilated? I felt I might go insane.

I want to talk about the internal process of this, since it was another part that was unexpected. Bring cards or a movie or a magazine, the sites say-- early labor can take a long time and is mostly painless and you may want to have something diversionary with you to help time pass. My ass.

For me, the pain drove me inside, eyes closed, focused entirely on my breath, imagining opening of my cervix which each blown exhale... open I said to myself, begged my body, open. My eyes felt nearly glued shut. In between I opened them in reverse blinks, like tiny snapshots of consciousness. But each moment was just each moment.
I think, at least in the beginning, the sound I made was largely the blowing of my exhalations. I am not sure when I began to make sounds, but they surprised me too. A tone, hum, would just come with the exhalation. Loud to me, beyond my control, it just came out of me.

I was checked how many times? There was much celebration for each bloody show, but dilation remained at none for a long while, and I have no idea when that began to change, but it did not change much. Thankfully the baby remained fine on the monitor, and my contractions were good and strong and regular.I did ask for pain relief and was given an IM shot of morphine plus an anti-barf med. It did nothing. But I was hopeful. They said it would help me sleep which was complete bullshit.

I'd like to point out two things: first, epidurals scare me more than most things. second, we all thought "I can do this"-- that somehow I could do this.

At some point in this, 12 hours after my water broke, E's shift ended, and Nurse #2 came in. I will have to ask Doug who it was (W who I barely remember but what I remember is nice but I have literally no recollection of what she looked like)- a split shift I know, since she was there only for a while then we were handed off to another, G. W placed an IV but now we cannot remember why it was at that point.

Reality check: I imagined this-- walking. walking a lot. maybe using the birthing ball. the birthing stool. I imagined moving, swaying against Doug, being there with him in some way that he could feel.

In reality, I hurt too badly to move, and the pain had driven me so far inside, I just hoped he knew how much it mattered to me that he was there.
I did not even squeeze his hand during contractions. My hand was too far from the pain to help me channel it.

A birthing stool was brought in at some point, but I could not imagine moving. W wanted me to move. Heck, I cannot tell you how much I wanted to want to move. But there was NO WAY I wanted to move with this specific breaking bone pain.

Mid morning W suggested moving to the tub.
Ahhh the tub. The tub that I had imagined floating in in my fantasy birth.
The tub that was all the way down the hall.

22 November 2010

birth story, part1

I have a confession:
I am not sure what to write about Della's birth story.
I mean, I have one, but it is more of a fractionated fairy tale, or a hallucination, not a record of events. Some folks have this amazing clear narrative-- " At 10:45 they placed the epidural, I was 3 cm dilated and completely effaced, my contractions were coming 3 minutes apart and lasting 72 seconds"...
Um, yeah. Mine is more like a series of impressions, a much more hazy rendering. So I have been having a very hard time figuring out where to begin, what to say, what to share.

Well, that's never stopped me here before, so! Lucky you! You get Birth Story a la Kate. There will be no unicorns. Except for that one.

Let's begin with a brief overview of anticipated narrative arcs:
early diagnosis of placenta previa: scheduled c section 39 weeks
vasa previa: scheduled c section 36-37 weeks
no vasa previa! but placental venous lake: scheduled c section 39 weeks
no placental lake! vaginal birth! but since IVF, additional monitoring (NST week 38?/ BPP@ 40 weeks), and kate's increasing fears that Something Bad Will Happen, maybe we should induce...
week 40 comes, begin discussions about induction, make tentative date for week 41...witness kate's increasing fears about induction, culminating in deciding to give the baby a few more days to show up the old fashioned way (NST and BPP show baby is thriving)...
week 41...
All day regular BH with new lower back awareness...
to my immense surprise, my water breaks at 6:45pm while standing at the stove serving myself dinner (turkey meatloaf YUM). It is just this: remarkably hot liquid, silent (no pop, or deep percussion), suddenly exiting my body. 5-6 tablespoons...I put in a liner, and a second little gush happens right away...this time I can see it (clear/pinkish, no odor) call the doc. He calls back instantly, tells me to go in to get checked to see if it really was my water breaking since it matters and these might be the only gushes I get... Enter beginning of surreal/dissociative feeling.
Jauntily make drive to hospital, enter birth center, meet E, our first nurse. She asks me to change, get nekkid, into circus tent sized hospital robe... clean catch urine sample, then onto the bed for testing (damned uncomfortable dry vag swab, 1 min, then paper strip on finger-- both mostly external in clean zone after clean catch...), monitoring (NST-ish for baby heartrate and contractions--mine were every 5 min or so--still painless). Both tests say no water broke, which I disagree with silently as I am quite aware of liquids that exit my body in small warm gushes...
I don't remember if she checked me for dilation then or later or both...
she sends us home but says she will not be surprised to see us again during her shift.
We get home and as I get out of the car I laugh and say "see? it couldn't be labor yet since it is not snowing..."
finished the cold supper, aware I might need fuel...
and to bed, nerves jangled, and this is where the narrative starts to get really fuzzy.

19 November 2010

bloggy anniversary and things I am learning

I missed my blog anniversary on the 12th, happily busy with other things. 442 posts, 2 years, 100k+ visitors, a place to spill my heart out, whimper, wail, rage, celebrate, ponder, wonder, delight, think out loud, explore fear and loss and, now, revel in all that it means to have somehow magically succeeded...
I cannot thank you all enough for reading and lurking, commenting and sending such love and hope and support and positive energy--I cannot imagine how I would have made it without you and this amazing community.
Thank you, truly, deeply and humbly.

Something I have learned about fear from my baby daughter:
Gas pains** bring rigid body wailing, heart wrenching howling cries, tears and gasping, then a moment later, it is over, peace reigns, her face goes calm, she nurses, body relaxed.
She is not holding fear it will come again, or maintaining the pain by holding on to the memory of how bad it was. She is just simply being.
Me? I am a creature of dread and habit, of emotional regurgitation and an infinite capacity for replaying discomfort...

Oh universe.
I have so much to learn.

**all hail the mylecon drops

17 November 2010

unsolicited advice part 1

From a newbie:

Take all of the hospital underwear they will allow you to take
trust me on this
take them all
ugly or not
they stretch, wash well, and you do not want to wreck your own

order boxes of your favorite big pads before you give birth-- if you are sensitive like me, I cannot say enough about Natracare Maternity Pads-- big, long, cushy, free of plastic, and covered in cotton. no kidding. available at drugstore.com.

Bring a bunch of tank tops with you-- preferably ones you can cut off if needed (if you're on an IV). At some point in the laboring process they let me change into a tank from the damned hospital gown-- bliss and worthwhile. bring loose ones, not tight ones.
Do not expect you'll be in any kind of pants until they put you in a pad.

Bring your favorite maternity pants with you to go home in.

Do not underestimate the amount of pads you will need, you will change one each time you go to the bathroom and you will be peeing a LOT. Get more than you think you need. Expect to leak.

Clots are frightening but common, big ones are terrifying, but unless they come with worsening in bleeding or clotting, you're ok. Check with your doc always, but don't panic just because it feels like you lost your liver.

Pain-- take the medication, do not try to be superwoman, pain means slower healing and that sucks... so
also take colace. Trust me. Prunes. I cannot overstate this enough.

Sweating-- at night, I go through 2 shirts and would actually go through more if I could haul my ass out of bed. Soaked shirts, sweaty beyond belief-- wet with sweat-- I'm just sayin'.

Diapers-- praise the disposables for now-- I am very crunchy granola envrio aware geeky whatever but to be able to throw them out at this point is great. Simplifying is key here. We did get unscented bio degradable bags for them and no kidding, they do not smell. Some magical something of breastmilk. So no diaper genie. When food begins or we have to do formula again, this would change.

Breast care-- I use a microwaveable hot pack big enough to drape across my breasts... mine is from The happy company, and is vaguely moist. I had to cut lace off the rim, but it works just great. Also great for draping across my belly. I had one bloody nipple day. It corresponded with The Dark Day. Nuff said.

Breastfeeding more generally-- ask for help, but do not necessarily ask the zealot. Ask the pragmatist. I had the most shitty 45 minute visit with the lactation consultant. What I wanted was a gap solution to feed a hungry baby with no milk in yet-- what I got was a .... lecture is not fair, but a full fledged philosophical treatise that was not only unnecessary, but left me with a screaming pissed off baby with no improved ability to help. Enter pragmaticnurse that night-- she saved me. SAVED ME. I cannot say enough that you can mmm your way through a shitty consult, and then ask for help from someone else...

Growth spurts of your little one will be prefaced with 24 hours or more of non stop feeding, and general irritation. This will cue your body to ramp up production. Expect at least one nearly sleepless night when this begins, and expect you will wake with amazing breasts a day or two later ready for the increased demand.

Tears-- I have cried more in the past week than I have in a long while-- happy stunned tears, only one day of shitty sad self esteem from hell tears, all others are just near the surface, waiting for a look or a thought or beauty and whoa... they just come. No warning no control and it is weird to just have them spill out complete with crumpled face and throat lump.

Healing-- let's talk briefly about The Belly.
It is down to half what it was when I left the hospital, but completely foreign. I am trying not to look at it very much and am relying on other senses to send love to it...I love the soft skin, will miss my flush belly button. I can actually see parts of myself kept under the cloak of mystery these past 6 months at least...my weight is down to 10 above pre-baby, I am wearing maternity pants, a tank with stick-in ultra soft breast pads, and a big soft shirt over that...and no bra since none of the so called nursing bras that I have will actually work for me, and hospital underwear.

Nursing bras--
hm. Might want to wait until you and your little one figure out the basics so you can know the way you prefer to access your body. I am globally disappointed. And at this point, I do not envision a solution for me, except maybe a good old front closure bra. Screw one handed operation. Full access is more important to me.

Do not underestimate the power of a hot shower-- even three minutes, no shaving, just hot water, gentle cleanser, cetaphil for the underpinnings, blot yourself dry, put on clean clothes, you WILL feel better.

Drink more water than you can imagine needing. You will need more than that. Beware the lightheadedness, eat dried fruit for a quick shot of sugar while you think of something to eat that makes more sense.

Belly binding-
the hospital bound me up after surgery-- helps make the whole region feel supported, which is really nice. But, my skin HATED their binding thingy, so I ditched it. Got a cheap one. Wore it a few hours each day when I wanted to feel less immense and more supported. It helped with both things. But, finally, it is just not comfortable. I admit I spent $20 on it not 60-80 (not a belly bandit) so perhaps I chose too cheaply.

Nail file not nail clippers for the little one's talons. His/her face and your breasts will thank you.

Baby clothes--cute outfits with shirts and pants are cute, indeed, but totally impractical. Get the snap or zip up footed sleeper thingies. They rock. Our one day in shirt + pants lasted 1 hour. All of our side snap t-shirts will be in giveaway. Onesies and pants will be fine, but for now we are addicted to simplicity.

The happiest baby on the block-- the book is too long, rent the video. Worth it. It really works- not always but often.

Learn to type with one hand. I am learning but have yet to be able to let go of my desire for punctuation (even if incorrect and sporadic) and capitalization. I will get over it. My desire to document and communicate will win over typo paranoia.


Della is rocking our world--
one week old yesterday
eyes changing from slate gray to brown we think...
she smiles in her sleep sometimes and I will be completely doomed when she can do that on purpose.
Tears are new, and break my heart.
She has the saddest sad faces in the world.
She laces her fingers together, nurses with them tucked up by her face, stretches big big stretches now that she has room to do so! and has the hiccups much of the time.

Last night was hard rain and hard wind, a wild weather night. Today is all fast clouds, moments of brightness, moments of darkness, moments of rain. The sun came out and all the rain drops in the woods sparkled like they only had a minute to show off- a dazzling display.
Now, back to dark and moody.