Thursday, February 28, 2008

On Motherhood: Part II: Labor

Part I

I had not considered what labor would actually be like. My husband and I had signed up for birthing classes, but they kept getting canceled. I just read books and kept telling myself that women had been giving birth since the dawn of time. I didn't give it much more thought than that. I planned on a natural childbirth, and I knew that pain would occur, but I wasn't afraid.

At 2:30 on December 19th, I awoke to go to the bathroom. I was very pregnant, so I use the term "woke" loosely, as I had perfected the art of getting out of bed, walking to the bathroom, urinating, wiping, and climbing into bed without ever opening my eyes. On this dark morning, however, when I bent to get back in bed I felt a little trickle of moisture. I thought it might be a "driblet" so I just went back to sleep.

At 4:15 I had to pee again. Giant babies tend to put pressure on the bladder, so I was accustomed to "waking" more than once in the night. This time when I woke, I noticed that my thighs were damp. But, since the heater was on, and I had about 10 pounds of blanket on the bed, in addition to my "raging pregnancy hormones," I assumed that the moisture on my thighs was merely sweat. Then I got up to go to the toilet, and the moisture moved, proving it was much more than dewy sweat. Then I felt pressure in my stomach, a little less than the pressure for a poo. I still wasn't convinced that I was in labor. I went to the bathroom and quickly crawled back into bed.

But I was unable to go back to sleep. I had to argue with myself. If my water had broke, I would have felt a rush, or at least been alerted to it. If I were having contractions, surely I would be hunched in screaming pain. I decided to just lay in bed until it was time to get ready for work. I refused to wake my husband; I knew no matter what, we had a long day ahead, and at least one of us should get some rest.

So there I was, arguing with my body until 6:00. That's an argument that few win, by the way. At 6:00 I allowed myself to get out of bed and shower. Surely in the shower I would know if I were in labor. Surely the "water" has some sort of coloring or odor that will scream to mothers "YOU ARE IN LABOR! PREPARE FOR LIFE CHANGES!" Washed, dried, still unsure, but again moist on the legs. This calls for expert advice, although there is still no need to wake the husband.

Thankfully, my mother decided to come down from Alaska to witness her daughter's graduation (good job sis) and the birth of her grandchild. I went timidly into my guest room and gently shook my mother. "Mom, I think I'm in labor."

This was the first time that I stopped arguing with my body since 2:00. I let it win. Little did I know that this was not even the beginning of the "conversation" my body was about to have with me.

I finally decided to wake up my husband. "Babe," I gently rocked him, "I don't want to freak you out, but I think I'm in labor. I need you to call in to work today."

"What?! Ok, let's go!"

"No, it's not time to go to the hospital yet. After you get ready why don't we drive out to my school and pick up my final exams. Maybe I can grade some before we go to the hospital." (Ha ha, silly me!)

So I called the midwife, and they recommended that I get to the hospital around 10:00, so long as I wasn't running a fever or feeling much pain. We decided to take it slow and drive to the next town to retrieve said final exams. While we drove I started to get excited, but not nervous. I was ready, I knew no fear. Slowly, amniotic fluid was draining out of me, but since there was no "pop, gush!" for this event, I felt very much at ease. We got to school just before classes started and I tried to load up my papers. As I did this, my students began to file in for the day. "Don't talk to me, I'm in labor. See you all next semester." They were respectful of this terse wish. I didn't know it at the time, but this was the first sign that I wasn't entirely un-nervous about this whole labor thing.

We drove back home and grabbed the luggage and installed the carseat. We called the family members that wanted to travel from out of town. We figured by the time they got through with their four hour drives, they would get to see the baby. We ate some breakfast, we straightened up the nursery, we grabbed the camera. Then we drove to the hospital.

By this point, my contractions were feeling about the same as period cramps. I used to have pretty uncomfortable periods (before birth control) so I was not in excruciating pain. I was totally over the whole wet-pants thing, so when we got to the hospital and they asked me to put on a gown, I was ready to do so. Except the gowns weren't just the stick-your-arms-through-the-sleeves-and-tie-at-the-but kind. There were snaps. The snaps were near the neck, but not for the neck. They obviously didn't snap down the back either. I enlisted the assistance of my husband. He, too, was flummoxed. We held it up in awe, as I stood there naked and dripping, wondering how two educated people could not figure out how to put on a simple hospital gown.

"Oh, the snaps are for the arms." I am still not sure why.

Gown problem solved, I lie back to listen for heartbeats and feel contractions. The midwife came in and gave me a once-over. Yup, healthy and ready for childbirth, but blood pressure is high. (God forbid a person's blood pressure rise when they are in a potentially stressful situation, it must be because of teh fat. /snark) So they wheeled me past the waiting area--hello Mommy, Sister, Brother-in-law, strangers, why yes those are my unshaven legs, thank you for asking--and into the labor and delivery wing.

The delivery room was wonderful. Fully private, with a shower, television, and two chairs that folded out for guests. We got comfortable and started timing the contractions. They didn't get much more painful nor did they get any closer together. My midwife suggested induction, but I wanted to wait. She said we would have to induce at 4:00 pm, since it would be well over 12 hours since my water broke. I agreed.

To speed up my labor, my husband and I decided to walk the delivery floor. We were doing our first lap when I heard a woman give out an animalistic moan/cry. I stopped dead in my tracks and turned to my husband. "What's wrong?"

Tears welled up in my eyes. "I don't think I've thought this through." I began to weep.

"Well, babe, we're doing it now." And we kept walking.

Family arrived, some impatient, but most were just excited. This is the first grandchild, and therefore very exciting. My dad arrived without his wife. I was relieved (and I felt a bit guilty about that relief). I invited my father, my mother, and my sister to be assistants in the birth of my daughter. Along with my husband, it was my truly immediate family, and I was glad that they all accepted.

4:00 came. Time to induce. I wanted a natural childbirth so that I could avoid needles. I'm not scared of the prick, but I am terrified of my veins being touched, let alone being opened. Well, to induce they have to give an IV and whatnot, so vein violation, here we come. I got my first IV that day, and it took three people to get it in. Then my contractions didn't progress. Oops, the IV isn't in correctly. Lets put it in on the other side, but in the hand this time. Gah, it gives me goosebumps just to think about it.

Now with a fully operational IV pumping pitosin into my body, I finally got a real contraction. It was more than uncomfortable. So, this is what everyone has been bitching about, I thought to myself. But I didn't want any further medical involvement, so drugs were not an option. I dilated away to nine, and then I got bossy.

"I have to push!"

"You should wait for one more centimeter," my midwife suggested.

"Ughhhh!" I did not heed her suggestion.

So I pushed. And I pushed. And I switched positions and pushed some more. My family held and encouraged me and I pushed. Lather, rinse, repeat for five hours.

Then my midwife noticed that I was fed up. It might have had something to do with my plea that she "just get the fucking salad tongs already." They did an ultrasound. Turns out that my baby was face-up. This makes labor more difficult. That information might have been helpful five hours earlier. So they consulted.

We decided that a C-section would be best, as no one really uses salad tongs anymore. At this point I had been in labor for about 22 hours. I was ready for some medical intervention. They gave me a drug to slow my contractions and told me not to push. Yeah, right. So I waited, but my contractions didn't really slow down.

The surgeon arrived. He was pleasant and had a great little sidekick in the form of the anesthesiologist. They joked with me and hauled me into the operating room. Then they injected my spine with glorious liquid that stopped my contractions (at least stopped me from feeling them) and made my feet cold. Soon they were tying up a sheet and bringing my husband in in scrubs.

"I'm sure you hear this a lot, but I love you all." They chuckled.

The surgery was fast, and soon I saw my daughter getting fussed over by nurses. Then they brought her to me and placed her on my chest. It was wonderful. Her head was smushed up a bit, but her eyes were wide open, and she had one eyebrow cocked as if to say, "Is this it?"

Already a smart ass.:)

So my husband took her to the nursery, and we soon got the last bit of rest for the foreseeable future.

Friday, February 22, 2008

On Sleepless Nights

Many of you may assume that this post will be about the association of sleepless nights with a new baby. Well, your assumptions are wrong. My beautiful daughter is endlessly kind, and has been sleeping through the night since her third week on earth. I count myself very lucky.

No, I can't sleep because of my own stupid mind. I am also going to blame movies, but it's mostly my mind. Let me take you to the beginning.

I was born the same year that MTV began. I grew up watching inappropriate content, but it never bothered me. When I was about 5-years old, however, I saw a mini-film, created by a Mr. Michael Jackson, "Thriller." This was an incredible work of art that stands the test of time to this day. However, in the eyes of a 5-year old, it was the most horrifying 15 minutes of celluloid ever produced. I watched this video from start to finish with my Uncle Jimmy (quite possibly now my favorite uncle), who remembers this scenario to this day.

I was not scared of the werewolf scene in the beginning, and I was only marginally disturbed by the dancing zombies. When those zombies chased the young woman into an abandoned house, I was worried (but I figured they would just encourage her to dance). When the zombies began breaking through the walls, I was scared, but I continued to watch. I felt immense relief when Michael Jackson returned to his human form, and it was clear that it was all just a dream on the part of the scared woman.

And then Michael Jackson turned around, and his eyes were yellow. He was clearly inhuman. It was not a nightmare, it was not her imagination. She was in true danger, and she had talked herself out of being scared. I ran out of the room screaming, and I could not sleep for two nights. Needless to say, Uncle Jimmy didn't babysit me much after that.

So began my irrational fear of zombies.

After that event, I avoided scary movies at all costs. I did my best to not even watch previews for scary movies, so as to avoid countless nights filled with either nightmares or sleeplessness.

Until my 20s. Then I began to trust myself as a rational grown-up. I began to believe that the fact that I knew that the existence of zombies was unlikely would win over any silly images on screen. I was wrong.

I have watched movies like Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, 28 Days Later, and I Am Legend. I know that in some cases, the "zombies" are really just "infected," but the result is about the same. These movies did not send me running from the room, as "Thriller" did. I watched them to the end, often commenting on how impossible the situations really were.

Yet, somehow these movies have affected me. I lie awake thinking things like, "There is no escape from this room if the zombies come," or, "What if I wake up to a zombie eating my baby?" And the worst, "What if my baby becomes a zombie?" In the light of day, these are ridiculous ideas to have, but at night I can't stop my brain. I think about all of the ways to fight off a zombie, but the most terrifying of all thoughts enters my mind.

It isn't the one zombie that you have to be scared of. They come in droves, and they are your neighbors. They don't stop coming.

And then I am in full-fledged panic mode, considering waking my husband. Instead I wake my dogs and make them come sleep in my room. Somehow, this keeps the zombies "at bay."

I used to get this way before tests in college, only zombies were replaced with burglars (really, I'm not kidding). It seems to be a manifestation of stress, but I am not feeling particularly stressed. This is just odd.

At any rate, the reason I am writing this is to hopefully rid my brain of these irrational thoughts. Hopefully now that it is out of my mind, it will stay out of my mind. Otherwise, I might lose it for lack of sleep.

I just hope I am not like the woman in "Thriller." I hope that there truly is nothing to fear.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

On Motherhood: Part I: Pregnancy

As most of you know I am new to the motherhood. It has been, and will continue to be, an incredibly humbling experience. I am continually amazed at what has been given to me, and I want to chronicle that amazement. I will start at the beginning, and continue as long as I feel like it.

I found out that I was pregnant on April 22nd, 2007. This was a rough week, as I was attending the funeral of my best friend's child. The whole week I was waiting for my period, and it never came. The previous month I had a week between new birth control prescriptions, and that is when I conceived. The day of the funeral, I was so glad that I did not know "for sure" that I was pregnant, because I imagined how tough that would be to get through. The next day I took a pregnancy test, and it showed a positive result almost immediately.

This was odd for me. As I was preparing to take that test, I held my breath, not knowing what I wanted the result to be. I was just ending my first year of teaching, and my husband and I were just ending our "reckless party phase." I worried that if the test was positive, I would be irritated and displeased. I called my husband into the bedroom to wait with me, but I didn't know how to say, "You need to wait with me while the pregnancy test I just took registers." Instead I just confused him by asking him to sit in the room with me. He walked into the bathroom and saw the white stick with the two windows. "Is that a pregnancy test?" he asked.


"What does it say?"

"It's positive." This is where I surprised myself. My eyes welled up with tears of joy and anticipation. My husband laughed and kissed me. Then I punched him in the belly. (There is another story behind that, if you need to know ask and I'll respond.)

So began our journey into pregnancy. It was a bizarre one. It began with extreme fatigue, followed by...well by nothing. I never got morning sickness, never felt moody (or no more moody than I already was). Up until the first kick, pregnancy was much like the rest of my life. I didn't even get the "omg look at my boobs" moment, because I have always been blessed/cursed with large breasts.

Then the kicks started. It was bizarre. I felt the alien inside of me. I kept having strange fantasies that involved bursting rib cages and fear filled onlookers. It took a long time for my husband to feel any kicks, and so I felt very isolated in this experience. No one told me about how your body is no longer for you. Each movement is for someone else. I had to eat when I didn't feel like it, and I had to eat foods that I didn't particularly like. No one told me about the strange side-effects of pregnancy. Did you know that increased sinus problems come with pregnancy? Yup, and you can't take any medication for it, because of the baby. I also got my first ever (and I include infancy with this) ear infection. It was awful. And the heartburn. I had always heard about third-trimester heartburn from the pressure of the giant fetus. But it seemed that I had heartburn from the moment that that stick said positive. It was incessant. My body was no longer in my control.

A very positive side-effect of pregnancy for me was the need to get organized. I had heard of nesting, the desire for a clean home for baby, but I never experienced that. I have never been much of a cleaner, so my sister decided to "nest" for me, thank goodness. I felt the need to become super-teacher and filing queen at home. It was stressful for many people. I had thousands of lessons ready in advance. I wrote 12 weeks of lessons for my substitute. I organized books at home. I just didn't feel the need to dust or vacuum.

I worked through my entire pregnancy. Many of my students have children, and they were telling me to take off, but I couldn't. To me, leaving before labor meant that I was a step closer to being a mother. I wasn't quite ready for that. I mean, a real person who needs me to love them, unconditionally? That is too much. I just needed to get through the semester, then I could think of motherhood.

My daughter was very accommodating about that. She waited until the day after I administered my last final before she broke my water. Then things got sticky.

Coming Soon: Part II: Labor

Friday, February 15, 2008

Blaming the Victim...

(or, What if we treated victims of other crimes like we treat rape victims?)

There was another shooting at a college. The details aren't important because this happens all the time and people should just get used to it already. It's obvious that random shootings are a natural response from young white men, so we should be complacent to this already.

Several people were shot, but they should know better. What are they doing, sitting in a classroom, not wearing Kevlar, unarmed? Don't they know that college campuses are hunting grounds for some? Those students should know better, and it is up to them to protect their selves from such violent acts.

If this sounds calloused to you, it should. I do not believe that shootings, or violence of any type, should be taken lightly. I am merely trying to make a point that we treat rape victims with this much disdain, insensitivity, and absurdity every day.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Help (again)

I am having computer problems. As I am an idiot, I am asking for assistance. I cannot access the internet through Firefox or Internet Explorer. I have gone through all of the tips available in the troubleshooting menu, so now I call on my throngs of readers for assistance.

I thank you in advance for your help.

Update: I think I fixed it!!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Super Tuesday

I caucused today. I woke up this morning consumed with anticipation. I have always loved voting. My parents took me with them when they voted, and today I got to carry on that tradition with my daughter. She won't remember it, but she went to vote with her mother for the first time, she was involved in a historical moment.

We had the opportunity to choose between Barak Obama or Hillary Clinton. I will be so pleased with either as the Democratic nominee. I look forward to a general election with either of these two. Both want to truly change the country for the better, both want to open doors for the disenfranchised in this country, both want to restore the reputation of the United States. I can't wait to see how either of these candidates take on the idocracy that will be promoted by either McCain or Romney (sorry Huckabee, I don't think it will happen).

We are on the edge of greatness, and I am glad that my daughter and I were a part of it.

Friday, February 1, 2008

A Conversation with Dad

So my father called the other night. I was expecting the usual, "How's the baby?" and "You should call your step-mother." We did talk about the baby for a while, but suddenly my dad brought up politics. This was odd, as my father has been almost gleefully ignorant of politics since Perot ran for President. He is mildly conservative, but uninformed enough that most conversations ended up with me shouting, "It is your duty as a citizen to be informed and to make an educated decision! Pay attention for Pete's sake!" This conversation was very different.

Dad: "So what do you think of Hillary Clinton?"
Me: "Well, she isn't my first choice, but I am definitely in favor of many of her ideas. If she's the nominee, I won't be disappointed."
Dad: "I agree. Do you think that Clinton and Obama will run together? That would be pretty amazing, and I would vote for them. I'm not always a Republican."
Me: "Really? I think it would be a great ticket, but it's not likely."
Dad: "I can't see myself voting for any of the Republican candidates. They are all so....I don't know, not good, you know."
Me: "Well, I think if we can't get a Democrat into the presidency after the catastrofuck we have had for the last 7 years, then we are doomed."
Dad: "Yeah. We let some tree-huggers come in to discuss emissions at the plant, and I am glad that we did. We were one of the cleanest plants around, and now the numbers are phenomenal. We put in a (some technical word for a cleaning system for the power plant) and it was well worth the money. I am proud, I just wish they would stop picking on us."
Me: "That's great Dad."
Dad: "I've gotta go. Kiss the baby, and call your step-mother."

I was shocked. And I am proud that my dad has decided to pay attention again.

About Me

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Farmington, NM, United States
Old enough to know better, young enough to change.