Monday, December 16, 2013

Tad's birth story part seven: In which I don't really almost die

Warning: Don't read this if you're squeamish or know me in real life and don't want to think about my reproductive organs when you're chatting with me over dinner.

Part six

After a while I felt something strange and said to the day nurse (Night Nurse had left by then), all casual-like, "I think I might still be bleeding a bit." (By which I meant "I am reasonably certain that a large amount of blood just gushed out of my body and I'm kind of freaked out.") She checked and said something like, "Yeah, I'm going to call the doctor back."

So she got somebody to track down Dr. B and then went to the little table with the scissors and everything and started preparing a vial of something. I asked if it was Pitocin and she said, "I'm going to wait for the doctor to order it, but I'm just going to get it ready."

Dr. B came back and put on a fresh scrub gown over his clothes. My saline lock got uncapped and the vial of Pitocin attached to it. I commented that I had expected to get a shot and the nurse said that it worked faster intravenously.

Dr. B asked me to lie flat back and I did so, asking if Pitocin was supposed to make me feel hot, because my ears got really flushed-feeling just then. Dr. B said something noncommital about everybody's reaction being a little different. It occurred to me later that that might just be how I react to anything going into an IV--I felt exactly the same when I had a CT scan back in September and that was some kind of iodine-based contrast solution--nothing like Pitocin.

While we waited for the Pitocin to take effect, Dr. B started doing some serious fundal "massage." I put that in quotes because OUCH. I told him that I wanted an epidural for my third stage and he said that technically this wasn't third stage anymore since the placenta had already been delivered. Normally having somebody get all technical on me in that sort of situation would have made me mad, but I could tell in context that Dr. B just didn't have anything else to say. (I mean, what else can you say? "Sorry for trying to make you not die" sounds even more smart aleky.)

After a few minutes, I handed the baby to Scott because I was worried that I was going to thrash around involuntarily and drop the baby or otherwise hurt him. While I worked on not thrashing, Scott wandered around the room and bounced on the birth ball. I told him to stop doing that and he tried to explain how there was no way he was going to drop the baby because...and I cut him off. I may have even played the, "I just gave birth to your child so you can do as you're told" card.

So Scott sat in a chair with the baby and I got "massaged" and eventually the bleeding stopped. Dr. B went on his way (he did not tell me how much blood I lost the second time), the nurse and Scott helped me move a little, and the nurse took the giant pile of bloody linens and things and put them in a corner somewhere.

I got the baby back and asked how long we were going to be in the room and found out we weren't leaving until close to 10:00 because the 2-hour count didn't start until the placenta was delivered. Plus you have to be "stable" to go to the postpartum floor. (When I got there, the nurses all commented on my hemorrhage and said only half-jokingly, "You're not allowed to do that here.")

Since we were going to be a while, I got a breakfast tray and Scott called our families to tell them that the baby had arrived and what his name was and everything. I talked to my mother a little, but I don't remember what I said. Something about breakfast, probably.

The baby did try to nurse a couple of times, and I don't remember what else happened. I wish I remembered more--I don't know if it was just that nothing much happened or if I was too out of it at that point to really form any permanent impressions.

Finally it was suggested that I get up and go to the bathroom before I was taken to the postpartum floor. I did, but as soon as I stood up afterwards I felt very sick to my stomach and said so aloud. Day Nurse (who was nice but much more brusque than Night Nurse) came in and grabbed me around the waist. I yelled at her a bit because that hurt, and she apologetically pointed out that I was looking very pale and she didn't want me to fall down and hurt myself. So I washed my hands with her hovering about and then sat down carefully in the wheelchair that had been brought up for me. Scott put Tad in my arms and we were wheeled over to the elevator and down to the postpartum units, where I got a second breakfast tray.

And I think we'll end with second breakfast. I like ending on that note. :) There's a lot more I could write about my postpartum stay and my general thoughts on childbirth and all that, but let's call this the end of the birth story and put those other things in a different story.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Tad's birth story part six: Waiting

Warning: Don't read this if you're squeamish or know me in real life and don't want to think about my reproductive organs when you're chatting with me over dinner.

Part five

As soon as Tad was placed on my belly, I checked to make sure he was really a boy. (I mean, nobody wants their first experience of the world to be their mother calling them by the wrong pronoun, right?) Then I noticed he had long, long toes.

We just sat there talking to and looking over the baby (who kept crying for quite some time) for a few minutes, and then Dr. B came dashing in, wearing a sweatshirt and jeans, which made him look very different. The nurses teasingly told him, "Yeah, you missed it."

Dr. B let the resident go and sat down to check me over and keep an eye on the placenta. I was again convinced with much effort to move--from a sitting to a reclining position. The baby was placed as high on my belly as he would go--his cord was too short for him to stretch up to my chest--and Dr. B looked me over and found only one superficial first-degree tear that didn't require stitches.

Then it was just a matter of waiting for the placenta. The baby kept crying, and I commented on this, and Dr. B said, "He's just telling his story." Dr. B also made a comment about how he had another patient laboring just then and he was going to go check on her when he was done with me--not in a "hurry up" way, just making conversation. He also invited me and Scott to feel the cord pulsing, which was amazing. It was warmer than I expected, like a living thing in my hands. When it stopped pulsing Dr. B invited Scott to cut it (which involved more force than Scott anticipated, judging from the fact that he had to saw it a bit) and Scott did, even though he'd had no specific plans of doing that either.

My uterus clamped down for a while, but then got "boggy" again, which seemed to concern Dr. B. However, after about 30 minutes I finally started getting back pain again (yes, even third stage had back labor) and pushed something out, which was apparently a large clot rather than the placenta. I remember being annoyed, because I wanted to get to the sentimental bonding period, but in a moment the back pain was there again, more intensely, and this time I did deliver the placenta. I didn't look at it, which I regret a tiny bit in hindsight, but not that much. At the time I was just glad to be rid of it finally. That was at 7:50.

Dr. B sat with me for a few more minutes until I stopped bleeding and then told me I'd lost 400 ccs of blood (I'm not sure why; maybe he thought I'd find this fact interesting--which I do), and then he counted his sponges, of which there were five, and then he de-gowned and went to check on his other patient and we were left to have that golden bonding hour finally.

To be continued...

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Tad's birth story part five: Primal

Warning: Don't read this if you're squeamish or know me in real life and don't want to think about my reproductive organs when you're chatting with me over dinner.

Part four

At about 6:30 I suddenly needed to be out of the tub. So Scott helped me out and then we went back and the nurse reappeared (perhaps she'd been there the whole time) with warm blankets. I thought she was the best person ever in that moment. (It was COLD once I got out of the tub.)

This whole time I had been carting around my plastic cup of ice chips. I commented to the nurse that every time I ate an ice chip I felt like I was going to throw up. "I need, like, lemon or mint or something," I said, not in a "fetch me this" kind of way but just complaining. The nurse made sympathetic noises. I thought briefly that I might really be in transition if I wanted to throw up that much, but dismissed it. No sense getting my hopes up.

I asked for the birth ball to see if that helped at all. While we waited I leaned on the wheeled chair and the wall some more. Scott was once more enlisted to rub my back. I usually signaled the start of a contraction by saying "Ow" pointedly, but once I said, "Okay, we're going to sing again." (Referring to the vocalizing I was still doing.)

By the time a birth ball was fetched the nurse was telling me apologetically that she needed to get another strip. She said something about letting me sit or stand next to the monitor, but as soon as I got the Ace bandage thingy on I just flopped onto my side in the bed. The contractions hurt a TON that way, but I was too tired to do anything else.

After I'd been on the monitor a minute or two, the nurse and I started having an argument about whether or not I should be checked. (Well, not really an argument, but the sort of conversation you have with a woman in labor where you have to use very small words.) I wanted her to wait until after she finished her strip. See, I had decided that I needed to be at least an 8 when she checked me, because if this wasn't transition then I was just done, because I couldn't take anything worse than this. But I wanted to put off the check as long as possible, even just another 15 minutes, to give myself a shot at hitting 8 and getting a med-free birth. (My mental debates are a little weird sometimes.)

So the nurse kept saying, "I really think we should check you," and I kept saying, "Wait until we finish the strip" and then suddenly I felt like I needed to push. I knew exactly what it was as soon as I felt it, which was interesting. I reported to the nurse that I was "feeling pushy" and she reiterated that she really thought I ought to be checked. I finally conceded, but since I was still lying on my side she couldn't do a very good check. She thought I was 8 or 9 and told somebody (I have no idea who; I was deep in Labor Land with only Scott and Night Nurse as my companions) to call Dr. B and tell him to head to the hospital. At this point it was about 6:45.

I was both relieved and disappointed to be 8 or 9. On the one hand, it meant this really truly was transition and soon it would be over. On the other hand, I felt like even another centimeter of transition was too much. But I'd promised myself that if I was at least 8 I could do this without an epidural, so I steeled myself to do it.

I vocalized my way through a few more awful contractions and then suddenly told Night Nurse that I was pushing involuntarily, because I was.

She managed to convince me to get on my back so she could check me more accurately. I don't remember if I was 9 or 10 when she did, but I remember the baby was at 0 station. She said that was kind of high, and I made a comment about how maybe it was because my water hadn't broken yet. She said, "Oh, I don't feel your water." I said, "Huh," and we moved on with our lives. (I do recall thinking that this was more good news for my pain tolerance; everybody knows contractions are worse after your water breaks.)

(Later she would have to put in her chart when my water broke and we conferred for a while and then just said 6:00 arbitrarily, because we figured it probably broke while I was in the tub and that's why nobody noticed.)

At this point it was about 6:50, and Night Nurse told whoever it was to tell Dr. B to hurry and grab the resident on-call just in case.

I think I must have been a 10, because after that I just went with the pushing thing and didn't worry about whether it was the right time or whether I was going to get in trouble. And the nurse was well aware that I was pushing. On the other hand, I complained after a few pushes that it was NOT better than transition, and then a few pushes later it did get better, so maybe I had a tiny bit of cervix left.

At another point I asked anxiously whether the baby was tolerating contractions well, and Night Nurse said yes. (I don't know quite what order most of these things happened in; I was so deeply into the experience that my memory could only capture little clips of what happened rather than a long video.)

At some point the resident on call, a very young-looking Asian woman, came in and introduced herself. I didn't form any memory of her name even at the time. I didn't introduce myself either. I just said, "Don't cut the cord right away. Just put him on my chest and let it do its thing." She did not protest, just went and got set up.

At another point I saw that the clock read 7:00 and I asked Night Nurse, "Is your shift ending? Are you going to leave?"

"No," she said, "I'll stay until...I won't give a time. I'm staying." It was a relief to me that things wouldn't be getting all switched up while I was in the middle of pushing.

Earlier on, I had asked for a squat bar to be brought in, just in case I wanted it, and now suddenly I felt that I needed gravity. I had only been pushing for about twenty minutes at that point and it wasn't like the baby was stuck, but I just went with my gut.

The squat bar was set up and I pulled myself up on it and started pushing that way. The resident kept asking me to move up on the bed a little bit and I kept ignoring her, but finally I was convinced to move and aided in doing so by Scott and Night Nurse. The resident checked me and I was +2 station. Me: "How many stations are there?" Her: "+3 is crowning." Me: "GOOD."

I couldn't get as good a grip on the squat bar after moving back, so I demanded a towel and Night Nurse helped me loop it over the squat bar and hang on the ends. She gets points for knowing exactly what I meant when I tersely said, "I need a towel." I am not even sure where I got that idea; I think I might have seen it on TV once.

After that things started getting uncomfortable again and I suddenly got worried that I was pushing too fast and going to tear. I asked the resident if she thought I would and she said "Maybe" in a tone that said it made no difference if I did or not. That was strangely freeing and I pushed without further worry about tearing.

A few more pushes, and the resident was saying that the baby had dark hair. Scott shocked me by moving forward to look--he had not expressed an interest before in actually watching the birth. Then again, he's always been more a go-with-the-flow type and I didn't need physical support just then--I was doing fine with my towel.

I pushed a few more times, expecting to feel the baby slide out of my body at any moment. I never did feel that; just one minute I had the irresistible urge to push and the next minute I didn't and there was a baby squalling on my belly. (I don't remember what happened to the monitor bandage thingy--I have this vague image of it being cut off with scissors but that's so dreamlike it might not have really happened.)

I remember that my first impression was that the weight of him felt right--like we fit together.

To be continued...

Friday, December 13, 2013

Seven Quick Takes 12/13

Another random thing I want to remember: Sometimes, Tad will be lying awake on my lap and he'll make eye contact with me and then slowly and deliberately stick out his tongue. And it seems to be effective for him, because I do nurse him after I finish laughing at him.

(Edited one week later to add: I had already forgotten this. Good thing I have a blog.)

Also, he is capable of raising only one eyebrow at a time. So far it's presumably involuntary, but I bet in a few years he will be giving me the Spock Eyebrow just as effectively as his father does.

Tad weighed 8.2 when he was born, 7.11 when we left the hospital when he was 2 days old, and 7.9 at the pediatrician's office when he was 5 days old. The pediatrician wasn't too worried, but still scheduled a weight check for the following Monday, at which point Tad was 12 days old and weighed 7.13--an improvement over his lowest weight, but still far from birthweight.

I felt horrible about this, of course, though I didn't let too much of that show through when I posted about it on Facebook. Anyway, one of my uncles (the earthy gray-mustached type you'd expect to meet over coffee at a truck stop) commented, "Do you think that people in the old days even thought about this. Just feed him he'll be fine".

Coming from anybody else, that would have earned a reaction of, "Stop minimizing my 
FEEEEELINGS." But coming from him it somehow worked, because coming from him it felt like love--which is what it would have been coming from anybody else.

Things I had to deal with last week included a cluster-feeding newborn, a jury duty summons, and a tax audit.

No, seriously.

The newborn still eats constantly, but I've been excused from jury duty and the tax thing should be sorted out as well.

Having a newborn is still HARD, but we might be finding our sea-legs a bit. I haven't sobbed in a while, anyway.

I had a big breakthrough last Friday when I realized that this whole thing is hard on Tad too. He's not constantly hungry and needy out of pique. He's just confused by having been thrust into a world where we have pain and hunger and cold and loneliness and everything. No wonder he wants to spend all day nestled up listening to my heartbeat.

I still get easily overstimulated by the constant being touched, but it's at least a little less frustrating when I try to see it as both of us in this together.

We also think Tad might have a bit of reflux. (He is SO his father's child, poor scrawny indigestiony little thing.) I called the pediatrician's nurse line on Friday and got the advice to burp him a lot, sit him up for half an hour after feedings, etc. He got worse over the weekend, though, so on Monday I called again and we ended up snagging a 3:45 appointment, where we got a prescription for Zantac. So we stopped by Kroger pharmacy on the way home and then Wendy's because even reheating leftovers seemed like too much work that day.

I joked on Facebook that I need to step up my game if I want to get a reputation as the paranoid first-time mom--I definitely expected to have to work a little harder to get taken seriously when I called the pediatrician, but they took me seriously right off the bat. Is it always like this with 2-week-old babies or do I just know the magic words?

I seem to have developed the flu yesterday. I am supposed to keep an eye out for mastitis, but in the absence of anything but fever and achiness I am to take Tylenol or ibuprofen, rest, chug fluids, and wait for it to pass. So far Tad seems unaffected, fortunately.

I am SO TIRED, you guys. When does life in general get easier?

If you found these takes boring, you will experience an even greater sense of ennui reading my birth story. I'm about halfway done, because my powers of navel-gazing know no limits.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Tad's birth story part four: Hail Mary

Warning: Don't read this if you're squeamish or know me in real life and don't want to think about my reproductive organs when you're chatting with me over dinner.

Part three

Finally I got saline locked and cleaned up and we went on our way to the actual L&D rooms. I think my nurse introduced herself, but I wasn't paying much attention. I made a point of asking her name later, but for the sake of this story we'll call her Night Nurse.

I asked if I could go in the shower and she said she'd go get a bag for my saline lock. So I handled the next few contractions leaning on the arms of a chair that happened to be in front of me. It was a chair with wheels, which was really annoying, but I managed to wedge it against the wall well enough for it to work. (I supposed they want the armchairs to have wheels in L&D in case somebody crashes and all the medical professionals have to rush in, pushing furniture aside as they go. But maybe they just like to be annoying.)

Then the nurse came back and I got bagged and we went to the bathroom, which was really not impressive. You know those labor tubs you see on the natural childbirth blogs? I did not get one of those. I got one that looked like your basic suburban home guest bathroom shower/tub combo.

I had been wearing two hospital gowns (one in front and one in back) for the trek from triage. Now, I am the sort of person who doesn't use the bathroom while her husband is taking a shower (this caused some problems during pregnancy, let me tell you), so you'd think I'd be reluctant to disrobe in front of a nurse. Nope. I was all, "Here, hold my beer" with the hospital gowns and clambered into the tub.

Since I was still having killer back labor, I asked if I could get a shower chair to sit backwards upon, thereby allowing the shower to hit my back with maximum effectiveness. Night Nurse said no. I said, "You're a hospital and you don't have shower chairs?" Her: "Well, we're not allowed to have them. Probably somebody slipped and fell and sued us once."

I didn't have enough energy to devote any more to being indignant about not getting a chair, so I didn't protest further. The nurse pretty much left us alone for a while after that. I apologized to Scott for my flagrant nakedness and he didn't care. I experimented with various positions in the tub and finally settled on standing, my back to the shower, clutching the tub rail with one hand and Scott's hand with the other. (He was standing next to the tub. He tried rubbing my back a few times and I told him to stop; it felt weird on top of the shower.)

At some point I asked Scott to start praying Hail Marys. I think that might have been while we were still in triage, actually. It was especially helpful during the tub part because the contractions were getting longer and I couldn't cope with a whole contraction at a time. So I coped for the length of one Hail Mary and then started over. (By the time I got out of the tub they were four Hail Marys long apiece, and remember my husband is a slow talker.)

After a certain amount of time standing in the tub contracting for up to four Hail Marys at a time, I got absolutely exhausted and decided that I needed more prayers if I was going to get through this without an epidural or general anesthesia or something. So I asked Scott what time it was and it was about 5:45. I decided that it was still a little too early to call our families and we could call them at 6:00. (I would later learn that my mother had been up rocking Matthew and praying Hail Marys and Our Fathers for she knew not what since 5:00.)

After way too many contractions, 6:00 finally came. I told Scott to call our families and he left the bathroom for a few minutes. I got down on my knees in the tub and leaned my elbows on the side. I was too exhausted to stand anymore. I tried praying Hail Marys myself but couldn't talk, so I just started vocalizing through the contractions. I don't know how to describe it beyond that. It wasn't screaming; it was actually sort of controlled, though not in a cerebral way. My primal brain knew what pitch was going to help me get through the contractions and I made noises at that pitch every time one of them came.

Scott came back into the bathroom after a few minutes to say that everybody was praying for me and his mother said that considering I'd gone into labor at 1:00 and was dilated to 5 or 6 by 5:00, I probably didn't have long to go. I dismissed this optimism. I was going to be in labor forever, opinions of mothers with seven children notwithstanding.

To be continued...

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tad's birth story part three: I think I hate you a little bit

Warning: Don't read this if you're squeamish or know me in real life and don't want to think about my reproductive organs when you're chatting with me over dinner.

Part two

In the car, the contractions were really really awful. I could tell that my entire body went rigid every time I felt one coming on and knew that was just making it worse, but my very best deep breathing skills did little for this problem. That might have been when I started to think that giving birth would be harder than I had been anticipating.

We got to the hospital at maybe 4:15 and parked next to the ER and walked in. I told Scott not to bother trying to drop me off by myself at the entrance, because it was a really short walk from the parking lot and I needed him with me.

Anyway, we walked in and the first thing I got asked was if my water had broken. I said no and gave them my name and maybe a few other details. The ER desk person asked if I wanted a wheelchair. I said, "No, sitting is bad." (Recall I had just been in hard labor in the car for about 20 minutes.) So she drew on a hospital map with a highlighter and sent us on our way to L&D.

It was kind of hard to navigate when we had to stop 2 or 3 times to work through contractions. Fortunately we ran into a helpful janitor about halfway who kept us from getting lost.

We got to triage and just as the front desk person there asked something or other, I started having another contraction. So I told her, "Sorry, I can't talk to you right now" and leaned against the wall while Scott rubbed my back. (Can we just assume from now on that Scott rubs my back during all contractions in this story unless I specify otherwise?) When it was over I asked Scott without looking up, "What does the nice lady want?" After another second I got off the wall and answered her questions about who my doctor is and who the baby's pediatrician is going to be and whatever else it was that she asked. I don't remember.

Then Scott had to wait there while I was taken back to my triage room. The childbirth class instructor had warned us about this part a few hours previously, which was good because I probably would have lost it on the nurses if I hadn't been prepared for being briefly deprived of my husband.

Back in the tiny triage room, Young Triage Nurse introduced herself and asked if I had anybody with me. I told her my husband. She asked all in one breath, "Is there anything you can't talk about with him in the room any history of STDs do you feel safe at home?" Me: "No, no, yes, can he come back now?"

I was given a hospital gown to change into and Scott was brought back and the nurse said she had to check me now. I remembered that I should probably take off my underwear as well and felt bad briefly for the fact that I was probably going to get their bed all messy. (No, my water hadn't broken, but I'd been having bloody show for 2.5 days at that point and I didn't figure it was going to stop.) Then I remembered that the whole point of giving birth in a hospital is making a mess on somebody else's stuff. So I de-underweared and clambered up on the bed.

I started having another contraction in the middle of being checked and asked the nurse to stop. When that did not produce a response within 1/10 of a second, I told her, "You need to get out NOW." She obeyed like her hand was on fire. After the contraction was over I asked if she had finished and she said no apologetically, so she had to start over but managed to finish really fast before the next contraction. At that point I was at "5 or 6", so it was pretty much a given that I was going to be admitted, but they still needed to get a strip and start an IV and all sorts of other stuff.

At this hospital, they don't exactly have monitor belts in L&D. Instead they have this thing that's like a big cylindrical Ace bandage that you're supposed to step into and pull up around your waist, and then they stick the monitor leads underneath.

Ha ha ha. Have you ever tried stepping into a very tight-fitting garment when you're very pregnant and in active labor?

Still, I managed it, and then I sat cross-legged on the bed, facing the side with the monitor. Scott stood on the other side of the bed and...well, you know the drill. I also tried to get him to tell me comforting/encouraging things, but that didn't work as well. I think he didn't know what to say and felt awkward. Maybe we should practice those before the next baby.

The nurse went off to do whatever and we sat there and watched the monitor. At first I just watched the baby's heart rate (I think it was in the 140s or so, but I don't recall.) but then I figured out which number it was that went up and down with my contractions. It actually helped to watch, because then I could see it going up and prepare myself, then see it going down and know for sure that the contraction was almost over.

In the last few minutes on the monitor, Scott said, "Hey, you're in the bonfire now." It took a minute to figure out what he meant, and then I remembered that he had described the third line on this chart as a "bonfire" during one of our childbirth classes. (I can't remember what he thought active labor was, but early labor was some gently rolling hills and pushing was volcanoes.) And he was right that the numbers on the monitor would go up (way, way up) and then bob around for a while before finally going down. I didn't get too excited, though; neither of us are experts in monitor interpretation and surely I wasn't already in transition. That would be too easy.

Also, at some point in here I got a cup of ice chips. I didn't want to bother asking for any "real" food or drink before getting settled in L&D, so I just went with the ice chip rule for a moment. This will become mildly important later on.

After I finished my 15-minute strip, Young Triage Nurse came back and started trying to get an IV in. She asked if I wanted an epidural and I said no; she asked if I wanted a bag of fluids just in case and I said no again. (I had not yet been fully disillusioned about the difficulties of childbirth.) It was decided that she'd draw blood for whatever they needed to do with my blood and then give me a saline lock.

So she tried three times to get the IV in. After the third time she had one measly vial of blood sitting on the spattered sheets. I asked her if she had what she needed yet. Her, apologetically, "No." Me: "Is it okay if I think I hate you a little bit?" Her: "Yeah."

Young Triage Nurse then went and fetched Older Triage Nurse, who managed to wedge an IV into my left wrist and draw the necessary blood. Partway through I noticed my hand felt warm and sticky and looked down to see that blood was dripping out at some point between where the IV entered my wrist and where the nurse was drawing blood. I pointed it out and she said, "Oh, that's never happened before." I always feel so good when medical professionals say that.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Tad's birth story part two: Expectations v. Reality

Warning: Don't read this if you're squeamish or know me in real life and don't want to think about my reproductive organs when you're chatting with me over dinner.

Part one 

According to my to-do list, I spent the rest of the day making chicken carbonara. I mean, there was a little bit of putting laundry away and general tidying, but mostly I made dinner. And I barely finished that on time. We stuffed our faces, grabbed our things, and ran out the door to childbirth class. (Scott had been working from home so that he wouldn't have to worry about catching the bus after my appointment.)

I can't remember what the theme of the class was supposed to be, but I remember we talked about our plans and expectations for childbirth. I mentioned that my mother thinks that shorter labors are not always better--she was in labor for 3 hours with my sister and 6 hours with me and the second was apparently a far better experience all around. I put on my worksheet that my ideal length of labor was 6-12 hours. Really I meant 6, but I didn't want to sound completely unrealistic.

We also talked about our expectations for when the baby would arrive. "Now, I know all of you are thinking early, or at least on time..." she said, and I shot my hand up and replied, "Not me!" When she conceded the floor, I explained that I thought 1 week late sounded about perfect--you have plenty of time to prepare, but you don't quite get to where you have to start talking induction.

We also watched a video that had actual births in it. That was kind of cool, especially since they showed alternatives to the typical TV hospital birth. (For example, one mother was depicted giving birth on her hands and knees.)

At the end of the class, we did some "practice contractions", which involve sitting around in a dimly lit room with soft music playing and taking deep breaths while our husbands rub our backs or whatever. I commented that this was not very realistic without real contractions involved--I loved practice contraction time because it was so comfortable and relaxing.

Then again, I did actually manage to have at least one more-or-less real contraction during practice time. I had three or four altogether over the course of the two-hour class--my belly would tighten painlessly like with your average Braxton-Hicks, but then my lower back and hipbones would ache. So during the practice contraction I had Scott apply counterpressure to the top of my hips (you know that hollow sort of space just above one's buttocks? Or is that just me?) and it actually helped with the achiness. I made sure to point this out to Scott so he could remember it when I was actually in labor.

(See that paragraph right there? THAT is foreshadowing.)

When we got home, I sat up past my bedtime so that I could make quota for the day on my NaNoWriMo novel. I finally got off the computer and went to bed around midnight, but I had a hard time settling. I think I got up to use the bathroom after about half an hour, and then at about 1:00 Scott came to bed and woke me out of my light sleep and I went up to go to the bathroom again. When I went back to bed, I lay back down and immediately felt like I'd thrown my back out in the process. When lying still and taking deep breaths didn't help, I got up and hobbled over to my computer and sat down to check Facebook or whatever and distract myself.

The back pain went away after a bit, but then it came back, and went away again, and came back. After half an hour I was deeply suspicious, so I went and took a shower, because false labor goes away when you take showers. We had literally just talked about that in childbirth class.

The shower helped, but the take-your-breath-away back pain was still coming at regular and very close intervals. I almost talked myself out of thinking it was labor because nobody just wakes up and has super painful contractions 2-4 minutes apart, so obviously I was imagining things. Finally I shuffled into the bedroom and said something to Scott along the lines of, "Scott, dear, you need to get up now." (Don't worry, I got much less sweet and gentle later on.)

He got up after about 15 minutes (which is fast for him), came out, gave me a hug, and then sat down at his computer.

"Why am I awake at 2 a.m.?" he said after a dazed pause. (Turns out, he thought I was just waking him up so he could go to work.)

"Because my back hurts and I want somebody to share in my misery," I said. I am pretty sure I never actually said that I thought I was in labor. Eventually Scott figured it out, though.

Scott opened a file on his computer (I think he actually opened his code editor thingy, which is amusing in hindsight) and we started writing down start times for contractions. I couldn't handle the mental work of figuring out how long they were, so we skipped that part. In between, we got the duffel bag out of the closet and started putting things into it. This took a very long time because every 2-4 minutes I had to stop and have a contraction, and Scott had to stop and rub my back.

After half an hour of this Scott suggested that maybe we should skip to the part where we called Dr. B. I was wishing I could do the same, but I was determined not to be that first-time mom who calls way too soon, so I kept going in that manner doggedly for an entire hour.

(Side story: Dr. B has a rule where if you call the on-call number you have to disable your caller ID before the doctor can call you back. We had just installed a new cordless phone base and handset that have caller ID, unlike our ancient corded phone. I was trying to read the user's manual in between contractions, but Scott finally said we could just unplug the cordless and let Dr. B call us back on the other phone. So that's what we did.)

At about 3:15, I tried calling Dr. B in between contractions, but by the time I listened to the OB office message and got transferred and listened to Dr. B's on-call phone message, I was starting to have another one. So Dr. B got a message that included me snapping at my husband because I asked him how long he thought my contractions were and he started giving me a paragraph-long analysis. (It boiled down to "at least a minute long.")

Dr. B called back almost immediately after I hung up and said that it sounded "like a labor-like pattern" and he'd call the hospital and tell them I was coming. "Okay," I said. I still kind of wonder if he was basing his assessment on my 3-1-1 contractions or the fact that I was starting to sound snappy.

It took us a long time to finish packing the hospital bag and otherwise get ready to leave our apartment for what would probably turn out to be 2 or 3 days at least. It was 3:50 or so by the time we shuffled down to the car.

Then Scott accidentally scraped the corner of another car pulling out of our parking space (he's normally inhumanly good at pulling out of tight spots, but I guess he was distracted). So we had to stop and write a note and leave it under the wiper and then we were on our way to the hospital.

(They never called us. Either the note blew away or they didn't care.)

To be continued...

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Tad's birth story part one: Foreshadowing

Warning: Don't read this if you're squeamish or know me in real life and don't want to think about my reproductive organs when you're chatting with me over dinner.

37 weeks
I could start this story in a lot of places, but I have to start somewhere, so let's go back to my 37-week OB appointment on Tuesday, November 19. I had asked Scott to come along for a few reasons--he hadn't been to an appointment since the anatomy scan, he had never met Dr. B, that sort of thing. (He had met the other doctor in the practice, who moved away in June, and he had met the nurse practitioner.) When I got the first appointment of the day on the 19th, it seemed like perfect timing. Plus I was feeling more anxious than usual about the appointment, though I couldn't quite figure out why.

Anyway, off we went, first thing Tuesday morning. We arrived a few minutes before 9 and were taken back promptly. I weighed 212 pounds (1 pound up since the week before and 29 pounds up overall), had blood pressure of 122/something, and was otherwise in pretty good shape. The MA asked if I wanted to be "checked" and I said no.

Then Scott and I sat in the exam room and made fun of tabloids for 40 minutes until Dr. B finally showed up. So much for "first appointment of the day." We talked about how my iron levels had dropped further, to 9-point-something (at the end of the appointment I got free samples of prescription iron supplements), and we listened to the baby, who was in the same position as usual and whose heart rate varied from the 130s to the 150s. I asked if that was normal and Dr. B said it was actually quite reassuring. If a fetus' heart rate stays at one level all the time, it could just mean said fetus happens to be sleeping, or it could mean that it's in distress and trying to conserve energy by not moving.

Anyway, then we sat down and talked about mucus plugs (I'd started losing mine on Sunday morning but was determined not to read too much into it and Dr. B seemed to think this was a sensible approach) and the last few bits of my birth plan, which happened to be the hospital's ice-chips-only policy (Dr. B: "I've been trying to get them to change that.") and third stage management. We agreed that Pitocin is superior to bleeding to death but inferior to the body's natural oxytocin response. After a little more conversation, we were on our way. I scheduled an appointment for the afternoon of the 26th on my way out.

See, if I was editing this birth story for dramatic effect, my anxiety about the appointment would have actually been a premonition that I was, for example, going to get sent straight to the hospital for an induction and would  need my husband with me. But it was not.

To be continued...

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Seven Quick Baby Takes, Extrauterine Edition

So, this is the Tadpole, looking rather less tadpolish than he did back in April. Scott still isn't sure he wants me using Tad's real name in connection with other biographical details, so he gets to keep his nom de blog for now.

He was born on Wednesday, November 20, at 7:14 a.m., weighing 8 pounds and 2 ounces and measuring 21 inches long--pretty impressive for a 37-weeker. (Yes, I'm very sure of my dates, and he's a pretty typical 37-weeker apart from his size--very sleepy and not the most enthusiastic eater so far.)

I'm working on an incredibly long and detailed birth story, but for now I will mention that despite being a few weeks out from my due date, I went into labor spontaneously and it lasted for a little over 6 hours with no augmentation whatsoever, so apparently Tad was just really eager to be born.

Also, I am not sure if I got my first-timer-with-control-issues comeuppance or not. On the one hand, I had to go in without a written birth plan because, well, I hadn't written it yet. On the other hand, my nurse and the OB resident on-call were both awesome. And by awesome I mean they did exactly what they were told.

And yeah, my kid got delivered by a random OB resident because Dr. B didn't arrive until 10 minutes later. It wasn't exactly his fault, though. (The nurses called and told him to head to the hospital only about 30 minutes before Tad was born. And that wasn't their fault either; I was only at 6 the last time they'd checked me.)

The only time we had to resort to plan B was when I started hemorrhaging about an hour after Tad was born, but third stage and beyond were not parts of the plan in which I had a strong emotional investment. Dr. B was there for that.

Apparently you're supposed to have some kind of "look" right before you give birth. I say this because two different people have marveled over how I didn't look like I was about to give birth when I was.

First I called Dr. B's office to cancel my 38-week appointment and schedule my 6-week follow-up. The secretary said that I was the talk of the office on Wednesday because I'd just been in on Tuesday morning and didn't look like I was about to deliver and they all came in on Wednesday morning to, "Hey, Megan had her baby."

Then I called the instructor for the unmedicated birth class to tell her that Scott and I would be skipping the last three sessions. (We kind of had the final exam early.) It took her a few minutes to connect "I had the baby Wednesday morning" to the childbirth class that took place on Tuesday night, but when she did she was all awe, because she never would have guessed.

(Can I make an aside here to say that I am SO HAPPY I did not go into labor during the whole process of driving downtown and back for the class? We didn't exactly have a backup plan for that situation.)

Things I want to remember:

The baby's very long and impossibly detailed fingers and toes. (His long toes were the second thing I noticed about him after he was born. The first was checking to make sure he was still a boy. Yeah, I'm odd.)

The fact that his hair looks dark most of the time but is a sort of brown sugar color in the right light.

How velvety soft his skin was for the first day or two--I said once that his head felt like the end of a horse's nose. (It's still soft now, don't get me wrong, but there was a certain never-exposed-to-air feel that went away quickly.)

How sometimes when he's getting ready to nurse he waggles his head back and forth enthusiastically a few times before latching on. Probably this has some important role in positioning, but it sure looks like he's just REALLY EXCITED.

How when he's crying he'll cut off mid-sob in order to eat.

The look he gets after he's had a good long nursing session--slack-jawed, loose-limbed, milk dripping out of the corner of his mouth.

His ambiguously dark eyes--sometimes they look pretty much black, other times a very dark murky brown, other times iron gray.

The way he curls up his legs so his sleepers end up working more like sleep sacks, with the empty legs dangling.

And a million other things that I've already forgotten.

Scott has really taken to this whole fatherhood thing. For the first few days we were home, sometimes he'd just take the baby and sit down and gaze adoringly at him for an hour or two. (Then he had to start telecommuting and had less free time for baby-gazing.) He also sits up at night with the baby in his lap and reads stories aloud to him. (This usually happens during the time when he is in charge of the baby for a few hours so I can get some solid sleep before having to deal with Baby Snuffleupagus in my bedroom.) And he sings to the baby, and shows him funny internet videos, and all sorts of stuff like that.

He was really good in the hospital too. I started telling him several weeks ago that the one rule for him after the baby was born was stay with the baby. So when I was lying around being anemic, Scott made a nuisance of himself following the nurses everywhere. They could not even bathe the baby on the other side of the room without Scott getting all up in their business. I thought about telling him to give them a little space and then thought better of it.

Random side note: When I'm talking for the baby I refer to us as Beard Man and Milk Lady. I don't know why this amuses me so much; maybe sleep deprivation.

I feel like I should interrupt all this sappiness to note that having a newborn is really, really hard. There have been plenty of crying-in-the-shower moments--and for that matter, lots of crying-while-not-in-the-shower moments. Apparently it gets easier, though, and having a kid is not 18 years of doing nothing that doesn't involve some kind of bodily fluid. And yes, I promise to talk to somebody if the shower crying persists beyond a few weeks.

I've had a TON of help, too. Eldest Younger Brother stopped by the pharmacy to pick up a prescription for me and then came over and helped us get settled last Friday, when we brought the baby home. Tad thanked him by peeing on him during a diaper change.

Then on Saturday my mother and Andrea came over and cleaned things and held the baby and made food. My friend Grace also stopped by briefly on her way to Liza Jane's baby shower, saving me the trouble of finding a different way of getting Liza her present.

Then on Monday I called my mother-in-law and asked if she could send somebody over so I could take a nap. (Scott was telecommuting and couldn't commit to much baby-tending.) Oh and I also needed more prescriptions. (Apparently narcotics only come in 3-day doses, plus nobody had thought to get Scott more of the medicine he takes for his digestive problems. Side note: Should it bother me that random relatives were able to pick up my narcotics prescriptions with no trouble?) She dropped off Youngest Younger Brother, who took things out to the trash and unloaded the dishwasher and was generally useful if big-footed. (He's the tallest of the brothers now and might grow more if his feet are any indication. He made our apartment look very, very small.) My father-in-law also came by for a while after he got off work and hung out. Later that evening MIL stopped by with pasta and ice cream. The ice cream was supposed to be a belated birthday present for me, but I'm pretty sure it was actually an "If she called her mother-in-law asking for a nap she had to be really desperate and needs some chocolate" present.

On Thursday we went over to the in-laws for Thanksgiving and stuffed ourselves with awesome food while other people held the baby.

Yesterday my mom and Andrea came over again and did more cleaning and cooking and general helping out.

And now my whole family is coming over so Dad and the littles can finally meet the baby. (Teresa was sick last week so they were waiting for her to be un-contagious.) Which means I should probably wrap this up.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Two Quick Baby Takes: 37 + 1

This is a picture of me and Tad on Sunday night, when I was 37 weeks and 1 day by my NFP-inspired count.

And this is a picture of me and Tad on Wednesday afternoon, when I was 37+1 according to the OB's Cardboard Circle of Destiny.

There will be more here when I'm not typing with a sleeping baby on my lap, and in the meantime visit Conversion Diary as always.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Seven Not So Quick Baby Takes: 36 weeks

I had my 36-week OB appointment yesterday morning. I still weigh 211-point-something (gain of less than 1 pound since 34 weeks, about 28 pounds overall), so maybe I won't gain half my pregnancy weight in the last 2 months. Of course, for all I know I could have been gaining in 5-pound bursts all along and I just never knew because I was only weighed once every 4 weeks. I don't own a scale because I can't behave moderately around scales. Or chocolate, but at least I'm happy when I'm being immoderate with chocolate.

My blood pressure was 116/68, or something like that. I think I might be dead, because I sure haven't had any reduction in my overall stress level.

After being weighed and sphygmomanometered, I had blood drawn for a repeat iron check. (This is routine; I don't get specially stabbed because I was anemic before.) I have a nice purply-red bruise now, even though I let the MA use my good arm and everything. (My right arm, in addition to being more adept at writing and other fine motor skills, is better at surrendering its blood.)

After having my veins mutilated, I was taken to an exam room and given the opportunity to change into a super flattering paper skirt. Then I sat and read a book until Dr. B showed up, at which point I had my Group B strep test. It was much better than I anticipated, and I'm glad I declined the cervical check. (I had the passing thought that if I was going to be practicing my abdominal breathing anyway, I might as well get a cervical check, but I did not have to practice anything.)

Then Dr. B stepped out so I could get re-dressed and came back and did the usual finding the position and heartbeat on the baby. (Side note: They always give me something like 10 minutes to get dressed at this OB office. How long do they think it takes to put on some pants? It's not like I'm redoing my hair and makeup before they come back in.) Tad is head-down still, and "low". I'm not sure if that means the same as "engaged" or if he's still floating but just less so. Anyway, let's hope my little gymnast doesn't figure out how to get his giant noggin out of my pelvis and flip over; that would make me a bit nervous at this stage of things.

It took probably a full minute to find Tad's heartbeat, which of course bothered me even though I pretended it didn't. Dr. B checked on the right side first and didn't find anything, and then checked on the left and found the umbilical cord (you can tell the difference because the cord is whooshier, apparently) but nothing else, and then finally went back to a different spot on the right side and was successful. Even when we found it, the heart rate was only in the 140s, but it jumped into the 150s during the minute or so we were listening. Yes, I have spent the last day and a half reminding myself that everybody sleeps sometimes and a resting heart rate in the 140s is excellent for a fetus, why do you ask? (He had been doing his very best bag-o-snakes impersonation just an hour before the appointment, so probably he was sleeping extra-deeply to recover. And he's been as hyperactive as usual since.)

After that we talked about different things, including my Birth Plan O' Doom. At one point I was talking about immediate skin-to-skin contact (which seems to be promoted pretty hard at the hospital where I'm giving birth, but I wanted to make sure that Dr. B and I were clear on the meaning of the word "immediate.") Him: "Well, I delay cord clamping, so the nurses can't take the baby away because he's still attached." Me: "That was the next question on my list." Seriously, I geek out so much at these appointments. I'm dragging Scott along to meet Dr. B at my next appointment, which is on Tuesday. (Scott claims that he's met Dr. B before, but I'm pretty sure he hasn't.) Though I probably should keep the geekery to a minimum since Scott gets paid by the hour and all. (I apparently don't care that Dr. B gets paid the same whether I have a 3-minute appointment or a 30-minute one.)

I'm going to a chiropractor for the first time ever on Monday morning. I feel like such a hippie. (I'm also taking probiotics and my mother has promised to give me some Vitamin E for my itchy skin.) Liza Jane tried to talk me into it ages ago, but I was busy with other things and anyway only wimpy people seek medical attention because they're 8 months pregnant and everything hurts. (That's just how it works, right?) Plus why bother if I'm not going to be pregnant that much longer?

Then I started taking Tylenol several times a week so I'd be able to sleep, and figured that yeah, even four more weeks of that is not okay. Hence the chiropractor. I will make sure to report back. Remember to hold your breath in anticipation.

(I made sure to run it by Dr. B first and he says he generally trusts chiropractors who specialize in pregnancy because they can't order fancy X-rays and stuff so you know they're not in it for the money.)

Scott and I started our weekly "unmedicated childbirth" classes last Tuesday. I was worried that everybody in the class was going to be due in March or something and I'd be the cautionary whale, but of the 8 pregnant women in the class, 4 are due in December and 4 in January. (The class ends December 10.) So everybody procrastinates just as hard as I do in signing up for these things.

I really enjoyed the first class. The instructor is Dr. B's next door neighbor (she says that he's nice and they talk about childbirth while raking leaves). I discovered that birth balls are the most comfortable thing on the planet. Really, y'all should try them. I am large and have poor coordination/bodily awareness, and I did not fall off or anything. After about 2 minutes I was threatening to steal mine and take it home just to use as an everyday sit-upon-thingy. (And if Scott sits on a chair behind me, he is just the right height to rub my back. Everybody knows Scott's sole purpose on this earth is rubbing my back whenever I want it, so that's convenient.)

The second class was not as fun, since we had a guest lecturer telling us about "nutrition." Nutrition apparently involves having super-detailed information about portion size and how to lose weight as fast as possible after you give birth. I ate blueberry muffins (we're allowed to bring food to class) and ignored most everything. (Remember, I chose not to own a scale because I decided being fat and happy was better than being fat and hating myself.) Anyway, that's supposed to be our only guest lecture, so next week should be fun again.

We also had our hospital tour last night, which was fine. I learned some stuff, but I also got tired and cranky walking around so much. And there was a video that I just could not take seriously because they used dolls as stand-ins for actual babies. I know, babies are not good actors, but I still found the dolls too funny.

I apparently spoke too soon when, in my last update, I talked about how we have a crib that's "close enough" to being ready for a baby. Scott had the day off on Monday, so we started assembling the crib and promptly discovered that two of the pieces don't actually fit together. Manufacturing fail. So now we're in the middle of wrangling customer service to try to get a replacement or a refund or something.

I also still haven't installed the car seat. I should probably do that just in case it turns out to not fit in our car or something.

I did order some diapers (from here--supporting missionaries while saving money ftw), but they're not supposed to arrive for another 1-5 weeks, so I am maintaining an air of detachment.

I also impulse-bought this car seat cover (except in tan) for my not-yet-installed car seat. Scott wants to know how the baby is supposed to breathe with the flap closed. I told him I'm pretty sure that the cover isn't completely airtight; it just keeps the wind off a little.

Our biggest accomplishment of the week was making progress on the baptism front. (Who needs a crib when you have sacramental grace, right?) Our godmother says she checked with her calendar and her husband and can definitely come, and the godfather says that he doesn't have anything going on in January and would reschedule even if he did. (Awww.) (You can say those things when you're young and single.) I called the parish secretary today and got us penciled in for January 12 and then sent out an email to the godparents and grandparents so they can object if that date doesn't work for them. Hopefully it'll work for everybody. And I'm pretty sure we won't have to return the godparents to the manufacturer for defective parts. :)

(Edited to add: Since I wrote this take both grandmothers have emailed me back and indicated that they have no objections to the date, so things are looking good.)

November 9 was my last day with my Saturday babysitting gig, and yet somehow the prospect of free weekends has not materialized. Scott and I have a new patient orientation at a pediatrician's office tomorrow afternoon, and then next week I am attending Liza Jane's baby shower. (She is expecting a little boy in January. She never blogs, but I'm pretty sure that's public information by now.)

I miss Saturday afternoon naps.

And here's the obligatory belly shot, at 36 weeks. I wonder if I am going to look back in another month and think, "I was so tiny!" I thought I was huge when I first wore this shirt at 24 weeks, and now I look at that picture and think I was pretty svelte back then. I am seriously surprised every time I do a belly shot, because I apparently have no concept of how big I really am. (For example, I periodically hit myself with the fridge door. I feel like that summarizes the entire third trimester in one awkward moment.)

(P.S. The belly button is gone for good now. I forgot to report that when it happened, which is certainly a failure of proper bloggerly navel-gazing.)

When Liza Jane saw me on Sunday (a few hours before this picture was taken), she said it looks like her guess of a 10-pound baby is going to be correct. I told her she's looking nice and fat herself. (That bag in the corner contains her baby's present. If she's mean to me I might just keep it, though. :))

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Seven Quick Baby Takes: 34 weeks

As you might assume from the title, I had my 34-week appointment on Thursday. There is really nothing to report, but I am going to update you all anyway because I can.

First off, I arrived right as Dr. B had to run over to the hospital for a delivery. The office staff were all sorts of apologetic as patients quietly stacked up in the waiting room over the course of the next hour and a half. Fortunately, they did take us back one by one for our pre-appointment stuff before sending us back to the waiting room to wait some more. (I say fortunately because I come prepared for the whole urine sample part of the appointment, and I don't think it would end well if I had to wait an hour or more longer than I expected for that.)

I weighed 211, so 5 pounds in 2 weeks. Eep. I got nothing but crickets in response to that, though, perhaps because my blood pressure was better than usual. (118/something.)

Anyway, Dr. B finally got back and I got my 3 minutes of, "Here's the baby's head, here's his bottom, here's his heartbeat, any questions?" Tad is still head down but floaty, and kicked Dr. B when he was feeling around for his bottom, and had a heart rate in the high 150s, as he often does.

We did actually talk about some stuff, though I didn't whip out my giant birth plan o' doom. (There were LOTS of people in the waiting room, and I'm sure they all wanted to go home too. Plus it was time for my nap.) And Dr. B warned me that I get my Group B strep test next time. (Pardon me if I don't leap for joy at the prospect; I'm rather large and cumbersome at the moment.) He also said that he does offer to do cervical checks starting at 36 weeks but he doesn't really find them useful. Me: "Yeah, what are you going to tell me? 'You're going to have a baby sometime in the next 6 weeks.' I already knew that." And he agreed that it's not good to read too much into anything. So we had a little meeting of the minds over that topic. I kind of like him, though he talks really fast even when he's not running 90 minutes behind. (I was never good at keeping up with fast-talking people, and then I married a slow talker and became a hermit, so now anybody who talks faster than Scott does--which is everybody--seems rather frantic to me. Actual fast talkers are almost impossible.)

We got a crib this week! Well, my uncle got it for us and it showed up on our doorstep. I have some awesome relatives.

Conveniently, the day it showed up was the day I felt compelled to rearrange the bedroom so that there would be space for a crib. So now the box is lying on its side on the floor, with the box o' crib mattress on top of it, and then some other baby things on top of that.

I really want to make Scott set it up tomorrow, but we've had a busy week and we're going to have a really busy day on Sunday, so I should probably give him a break. Of course, with all these nesting urges I've been getting, what's likely to happen is that I'll try to start setting it up on my own while he's at work or something and he'll come home and have to do most of it because I'll realize it's too heavy for me right around the time I have little screws all over our bedroom floor.

Anyway, I'm kind of excited.

With the advent of the crib, Tad now has three of the four things on my mental List of Absolutely Essential Things. The four things: Carseat, crib, diapers, milk. Of course, the carseat is sitting on our dining room floor, the crib is unassembled, and the milk is not actually here yet as far as I can tell, but we're close enough on all those things.

On the diaper front, I do have two cloth diapers and about 30 wipes, but two diapers do not a stash make. I'll have to get budget approval to buy a bunch more sometime soon, and maybe get a package of disposables because everybody says you don't want meconium on your cloth diapers. (My mother can probably attest to this; apparently I ruined her favorite nightgown right after I was born. I claim no responsibility; I was a baby and by the time you're 23 and having your second child you should know better than to wear your favorite nightgown while giving birth.)

Also, Tad has a LOT of clothes. See?

(From left: Bucket with hats and socks and things, 3-6 month clothes, 0-3 month clothes, sleep sacks, bunting.) It actually doesn't look like very many, but that's only part of his collection (I'm still working on washing stuff) and he keeps getting more things. My mother has been taking first-time grandmotherhood very seriously and buying all the clothes she can get her hands on. I only need a few odds and ends in 0-3 months (which I will purchase myself as soon as I have time to wander up to Carter's again), so I suggested that she could buy him some 3-6 month stuff and she accordingly got a big pile of things at the thrift store the other day. Assuming they're true to size he should now be set in the 3-6 month category. And I even have a few things in 6-9 months, though I'm keeping the tags on those for the time being. (Cotton sleepers and onesies never really go out of season; I'm mostly leaving them that way because I have enough baby laundry to wash already.)

My body clock seems to think that the baby is here already or that we need to practice or something, because I have seriously not been sleeping. Last night I actually kept track (because you have to do something when you're not sleeping). I went to bed at 11:00 and woke up at 1:00, 2:30, 4:30, and 5:30 before my alarm went off at 6:45.

Seriously, body, I have nesting to do. We can practice the lack-of-sleep thing later.

Another thing slowing my nesting roll is this silly foot-swelling problem I've been having the last few weeks. It wouldn't bug me except that my feet always swell lopsidedly and then I freak out about DVTs and my anxious brain just doesn't need that. (I actually called Dr. B at about 8 p.m. the first time I noticed my right foot being decidedly puffier than my left. He told me not to worry about it unless I had other symptoms, and it hasn't killed me yet, so he was probably right.)

Anyway, driving around and being on my feet a lot both seem to trigger the problem, so I spend an irritating amount of time sitting with my feet up. And lying in bed not sleeping.

Scott has managed to figure out how he's going to handle work around the time the baby is born. I am especially pleased by this because he worked it out entirely on his own. I had not even thought that far ahead, but about a month ago he mentioned that he had been thinking it over and did it sound like a good idea for him to do thus-and-so. I said yes and then got busy again. I was just thinking that I might want to ask him how that was going yesterday, but I did not. Then today he told me that his manager had approved of the plan (and said congratulations) so he just needed to do a couple more things and we should be all set. And I did not have to remind him at all!

My husband is pretty awesome.

And here's a picture of Tad and me at 34 weeks. I couldn't wear my preferred shirt because our sink got clogged and I managed to get dirty sink-water all over my only clean skirt. Hence, wearing a dress to Mass and for my picture. (I wore a white sweater over it for Mass to make it look less casual.)

The nice thing about having such a big belly is that I'm pretty sure it makes my backside look smaller. (If you've seen me in person and disagree, just don't say anything, okay? :))

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Seven Busy Takes

I have been out of the house every day this week. In fact, I think I have been out of the house every day since about last Tuesday. 0.0 I dislike this. It makes me tired and crabby.

(Mostly errands, but a couple of doctor's appointments and one visit to family which I will mention right in the next take.)

Last week I made what I intend to be my last "long-distance" trip until next spring sometime, driving the 80 miles to my parents' house for Teresa's 7th birthday. (Yes, I did just drive up there the week before for my baby shower. The gas budget is going to be shot this month.) Anyway, here's a picture of the birthday girl:

Isn't she getting SO BIG? Woe. 

And here she is with the present Scott and I got her--we stopped by Wal-Mart on the way into town, because I plan ahead like that. She liked it anyway.

(She is wearing all black because she was dressed as a black cat earlier in the day. I think she pulls it off nicely.)

When we first arrived at my parents', Matthew pointed to my belly and asked, "What's that?" Mom told him it was a baby. He thought for a moment and then pointed again and said emphatically: "Ball."


That night, he woke up crying at 3 a.m. I woke about halfway up and thought in a panic, "The baby is crying! Where is the baby?" Then I woke up all the way and realized that it was Matthew and that he was sleeping in my parents' room, so surely they would take care of him. And I went back to sleep.


I think this is supposed to be a lamb outfit, but Matthew said he was a bear, rawr.


On Sunday morning, Mom and Dad went out on a date while Scott and I babysat the littles. (We had all gone to the vigil Mass.) Matthew was up with the sun, so he was wreaking havoc in the family room when Teresa finally woke up and came downstairs.

As soon as he saw her, Matthew yelled "SISSIE!" in the happiest little voice, as if he hadn't seen her in days. It was pretty adorable.


On Monday night, Dad was giving Matthew a bath and as they were drying off Matthew was babbling something about "Mommy, sissie, baby."

"What baby?" Dad asked.

"Mennin, Dott," Matthew replied.

I think he figured out it's not a ball.


Playing with the trains I got him for his birthday and Christmas last year.
He recently hit the phase of being OBSESSED with "choo-choos."

I don't think I ever mentioned that my grocery spending for September turned out to be $199.61. Hooray for being underbudget!

So far in October I've spent $198.15. Other than being out of mayonnaise, we're pretty set as far as food goes, too. (I could probably get mayonnaise with that $1.85 remaining, but I am lazy so it probably won't happen.)

I am super proud of myself, by the way, because I have been diligently tracking our spending this month--putting things into the budget spreadsheet once or twice a week, instead of once every month or two. It makes for a lot more accurate accounting, I'm sure.

Not that it really matters; it just lets me know exactly how much of our savings account we're bleeding this month.

(The Medical > Other category is $999.23 so far for October. That is...not exactly a number compatible with our income.)

My little luxury grocery purchase this week was pre-cooked chicken nuggets. I have a major aversion to processed foods, but at this point in pregnancy (I'm TIIIIIIRED and everything HURTS), it isn't really a choice between chicken nuggets and nice balanced home-cooked meals. It's a choice between chicken nuggets and candy or ice cream. (Which are also processed AND which mess with my delicate, insulin-resistant metabolism.)

I ate those for lunch on Thursday after I came back exhausted from grocery shopping, and they were seriously delicious, maybe because they only took 2 minutes of microwaving and I didn't have to touch any slimy raw meat.

On Wednesday my mother called and woke me up in the middle of my nap to ask about a no-bake cookie recipe. I sent it to her, at which point she realized she was out of oatmeal. So I was awoken for no reason.

Except then on the way home from the bus stop later that day I was telling Scott about the dream I had been having when the phone rang. It involved playing a video game, the details of which I will not bother giving. Scott thought my dream game sounded so cool that he spent the entire evening pacing around writing game design notes on index cards.

We are weird but awesome.

I don't have any particular plans for the next several days except going out with my husband (We haven't had our monthly ice cream date yet, and when you're dealing with a thousand dollars in medical bills you might as well throw in four dollars of ice cream...) and making cupcakes. From scratch. To eat with my chicken nuggets. :)

It's kind of the deep breath before the plunge, though, because our calendar for November is already packed with getting-ready-for-baby type events. And I still have half a thought of doing NaNoWriMo, because that isn't so much another obligation as it is forced time to sit down and breathe and do "me things." I might need that in a few weeks so I don't completely freak out about how we're poor and/or how I'll be full-term the Saturday after Thanksgiving and the carseat is in our dining room and the crib is in pieces.

Yeah, not thinking about that.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary! Clan Donaldson!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Seven Quick Baby Takes: 32 weeks

I had my 32-week appointment on Tuesday. I am up to every-two-week appointments now, so you all will get subjected to my navel-gazing twice as often! Aren't you happy?

(One of my least favorite things about pregnancy is that I have to pay so much attention to things going on in my body. Really, it's tough for us brain-in-a-jar types. So I force you all to suffer through it as well to make myself feel better.)

Anyway, not actually much to report. I weighed 206 pounds--5 pounds in 4 weeks/23 pounds overall. Which means that I'm totally going to overshoot the 15-25 pounds that fat ladies are "allowed" to gain, but nobody at my doctor's office cares so I don't either. I'd like to stay under 222 just because that's what I weighed back when I got my PCOS diagnosis and started on this crazy taking-care-of-my-body train, and I'd rather not start over totally from scratch after the baby is born, but whatever. Breastfeeding burns calories, right? (Of course, I bet that only works if you don't eat everything that doesn't bite back...)

Also, Dr. B thinks that my anemia is borderline enough that I don't need to bother with iron supplements, so YAY. I am still going to put spinach in weird things, though.

Also also, Tad seems about the same as usual. It's getting easier to find his heartbeat, I think because he's too big to run away and hide now. It was in the 160's this time--got almost up to 170 when Dr. B was rubbing his head. Dr. B claimed that the increased heart rate means he liked it, but I kind of wonder if he wasn't just annoyed. I'd be annoyed if random strangers were rubbing me on the head.

Also, Tad is head-down again/still. (Dr. B was rubbing his head to determine position, not just for funsies.) I wonder if that actually means something at this point. There was something else about how far he was into the pelvis, but I didn't quite catch that. I think it was something about how he's still all floaty but should get more engaged in the next few weeks. I find this all interesting in an academic sense but am having a hard time feeling as if it's significant to my life. I am pretty sure this baby will be in whatever position he wants to be in at any given moment, regardless of what's the norm.

And then we talked some about how hospital birth works. Dr. B explained that basically my nurse is going to do everything while I'm in labor at the hospital. (I should start doing a novena for a good nurse. Maybe to Tad's patron saint; that might be a good pick for the situation.*) I think I might have hurt his feelings a little bit because after he was done explaining I said, "So, you just show up and catch the baby, or what?" Him: "... You could think of it that way." Apparently he also fulfills a very important role of watching the monitor readout from the computer in his office.

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate having an OB around (hence my lack of homebirth plans...) but every now and then I think about how I'm paying him $3000+ to be present for only a tiny portion of the labor process. (Well, my insurance company is paying him.)

(*No, we're not naming him Gerard. Trust me that it's even better, though. Incidentally, Scott referred to Tad by his real name last night, which is something we do far less often than you might imagine, and it gave me a funny little thrill, like when you're first married and have to say "my husband.")

Fun fact: My OB's office writes you a prescription for a free breast pump even if you don't ask. Note: They don't offer to write one. They just do it and the secretary hands it to you on your way out.

(I don't plan on filling it, since I'm not going to be working. I imagine I'd find the whole situation even more presumptuous if I wasn't planning on breastfeeding at all for whatever reason.)

We actually managed to make some progress this week in potentially getting health insurance for the baby. I'd rather not talk about it because boring and frustrating and private information, but prayers for things to work out would be appreciated.

I had my baby shower on Sunday (I might write a recap later) and got a LOT of clothes. Mostly blue clothes, too. I'm not sure if that's because people like buying gendered clothes for babies or because everybody who knows me knows I really like light blue things. (Side note: I went to an actual Carter's store today and was suddenly glad to be having a boy. The girl side of the store was way too overstimulating with all the bright colors. I liked being able to stick to the soothing light blue side.)

Anyway, earlier this week I was cutting tags off of things and throwing them in the hamper, and suddenly the whole baby thing seemed much more real. I was telling a friend the other day that Tad has such a personality that I just think of him as being himself; I almost never generalize and think of him as being a baby. Plus, the whole pregnancy thing is so surreal and outside the realm of my previous experience that it doesn't really connect to "There's going to be an actual baby, who will be somewhat like every other baby ever, in this apartment."

Doing his laundry, though, made me realize that pretty soon this whole baby thing isn't going to be a surreal tangent from my normal life. It's just going to be normal life, with laundry and all the other things I totally already know how to do.

Speaking of my baby shower, this is Wiggles:

He was a random off-registry gift from one of my mother's friends and I think he needs to feature largely in Tad's baby pictures. Like those monthly pictures people sometimes do with their baby gradually dwarfing a stuffed animal? 

I named him myself, by the way, in honor of marsh-wiggles from Narnia. I was going to name him Puddleglum, but he's far too cheerful looking. 

And here I am at 32 weeks, after getting home from my baby shower. Everybody tells me I'm getting SO BIG, and I think they mean it to be a compliment. I'll pretend, anyway. Less than 10 weeks to go!

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