Thursday, September 10, 2009

10 Things I Wish I Had Known...

1. Breastfeeding can be HARD. It's a round the clock effort and exhausting. But it is very rewarding when everything finally clicks.

2. If you have to pee, do it BEFORE you settle in to feed the baby. Nothing quite like yanking your pants up and down with one hand while trying to keep a hungry baby latched on because she SCREAMS if you try to put her down.

3. It takes about six weeks for the human body to harden to the effects of sleep deprivation. Before that, you WILL walk into things in a fog. People who haven't been there just don't understand and they never will. They think that because they pulled an all-nighter once in University, they know how you feel. Uh-huh. One all-nighter, eh? TRY TWELVE IN A ROW, BITCHES!

4. The don't intervene medically until the baby hasn't pooped for TEN DAYS. Sure, they look for signs of a blockage before then but they do nothing until Day 10 and even then it's only a glycerin suppository.

5. A baby's laugh is the very best sound in the whole world.

6. If any book/website/person tells you ALL THINGS MUST BE THIS WAY, you have my permission to ignore anything that book/website/person is saying in perpetuity. Babies are little humans. Their needs are simple, but their behaviour does not fit in neat little boxes. Anyone who says that it does is a fucking idiot.

7. They're best off when you leave them the fuck alone to figure out their own bodily functions. Once they've regained their birth weight, waking them up every 2 to 3 hours to eat just makes you AND baby miserable. How would you feel about getting woken up from a "deep" sleep to someone shoving food in your face? Yeah. You'd probably tell the person trying to force feed you to piss off.

8. Watching your baby meet a new milestone will make your heart swell. My baby rolled over today for the first time and it brought tears to my eyes.

9. Sure, you're a parent now, but you're still a spouse too. Having sex while keeping one ear out for the baby on the monitor is NOT hot at all. But if you want to keep a happy marriage going, you have to find the time to treat each other like a couple in love.

10. It'll be no time at all before you can't remember a life before baby, and it doesn't matter because a life with baby is just SO much better.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Labour Story

You know, I had most of this story sitting in my drafts folder for months. I debated whether or not I even wanted to tell the tale or if I'd rather just block it out completely. But then I thought I'd better record it while I can still remember some of the details. When I last updated, it was one day before Maggie's due date, and there was still time for her to pick the day she was born on her own.

Alas, that didn't happen. But she wasn't born on the day the doctors picked either so I suppose that's a victory of some sort. On April 22nd, I reported to the hospital promptly at 6:00pm for a Cervadil treatment. And then I waited - impatiently - for three hours for my scheduled appointment. I said to my husband at about 1:00 in the morning “They’re going to cut me open again. I just know it.” I had a total meltdown because the loss of control and spent the night tossing and turning over it. I was so busy being upset about my baby being forced out before she was ready, I totally lost sight of the fact that I was finally going to meet her.

At 7:30 the next morning, feeling exhausted and totally defeated, I arrived at the hospital to be hooked up to the synthetic oxytocin, aka Pitocin. Labour that is induced or enhanced with Pitocin is known for being very, very hard. Already intense contractions are amplified, and when you're going from a cold start like I was, it's a very difficult process. Oh, and didn't find out until I arrived at the hospital that once the drip was hooked up, I couldn't eat. I was induced because of Gestational Diabetes. I'm not sure what fucking rocket scientist decided it was a GOOD idea to starve the diabetic, but I'd kind of like to kick them in the face. Repeatedly. Anyway...

I was determined to go for as long as I could without medication because I knew that between the Pitocin and the epidural (my only pain option) I was on the fast track to a surgical delivery. I *JUST* had abdominal surgery in November, so I was none too keen on the idea of being cut open for the second time in five months, and during pregnancy to boot. I laboured for 6 hours until the contractions got hard to cope with using natural pain management techniques. I wanted to make sure I was at least at 5cms before screaming for meds to reduce the likelihood that my labour would stall, so when they got pretty intense I asked for a check. A resident came in and said "You're at 6 to 7 centimeters!" Buoyed by this progress, I decided to hold off a little longer hoping to make it to the end without meds, but a couple of hours later I couldn't take it anymore. I asked for the epidural.

The nurse tending to me checked with the same resident who said he wouldn't be surprised if I was fully dilated and ready to start pushing, so perhaps she (the nurse) should check again. Apparently, my cervix has a "tricky presentation". WTF? I was not, in fact, close to ready to go, I was only at 1cm. It was like running a marathon and thinking you’re near the end, only to be told that you were on the wrong track and had to start all over again. Totally took the wind out of my sails. Another resident, this time with anesthesia, came in to administer the pain relief but she freaked me out with her shitty bedside manner. The stress, exhaustion and disappointment came to a head, causing me to have a another meltdown and falling into a fit of tears and hysteria. She was one of those people who talk about patients like they’re not in the room, and that’s just not cool when you’re talking about me and about to stick something into my spinal cord. I kicked her out of the room and was about ready to just unhook all the machinery and go the fuck home. For a second, I really didn’t care what happened to me or the baby. I just wanted to hide.

The nursing staff talked me into letting another anesthesiologist come in to try to place the epidural – not a resident this time. I agreed, it went in, and for two hours I rested. And then the epidural wore off. After much debate, they topped me up with one of the meds in the epidural cocktail. And for two hours, I rested. See where this is going? Yup. Off and on all night, every two hours the epidural wore off and they topped me up. One by one, I maxed out the drugs in the cocktail. The anesthesiologist kept saying she was “confident” that it was placed properly and what I was feeling was the normal pressure that all women feel, even with an epidural. And I kept saying that I wasn’t feeling pressure, I was feeling PAIN. Extraordinary pain. At 5:00 in the morning, I was begging the nurse to page the OB so I could beg her to just cut the kid out of me already because I couldn’t take it anymore. She patted me on the hand and said I was doing well, hung another bag of Pitocin (my third) and ratcheted up the setting. Again. At 7:30, now 24 hours into the ordeal, my OB came in to report that she was going off shift – but hey, I was at 9cms so it wouldn’t be much longer now! I think I said bullshit, but maybe I was just too tired to speak.

I was still in pain, and another anesthesiologist came on duty. He was NOT “confident” that the epidural was placed properly and wanted to re-insert the tube. For obvious reasons, I wasn’t feeling terribly confident about the competency of the whole department by that point and I was supposedly almost at the end anyway so I declined. At 10:00, I felt the urge to push. The same cervical lip (and I’m not sure I want to know what that is) that caused the tricky presentation was in the way so they maneuvered a bit to get me to 10cms and told me to start pushing. THREE HOURS later, there was hardly any movement. She was not even close to crowning. I had now been in induced labour without eating or sleeping for 30 hours. I was done. I had nothing left in the tank. The on-call OB said if I could push her 1cm further down, she could vacuum assist. I gave it one more push and collapsed into tears. I felt like such a failure, but I could not do any more. It was agreed I was going in for a c-section.

Yet another anesthesiologist was waiting in the OR. This guy, I actually kind of liked. He didn’t speak to the nurse as though I was some sort of intellectually delayed child, he spoke to ME, like I was an adult woman, on the verge of being somebody’s mother. He tried injecting various drug cocktails into the epidural and checking with ice cubes or a sharp pin every couple of minutes to see if they had kicked in. The dialogue went like this:

Him: Can you feel this?
Me: Yes.
Him: What do you feel? (Cold, sharp, etc.)
Me: Cold, about two inches to the left of my navel (or wherever it was)
Him: OK then, we’ll try something else.

Wash, rinse, repeat. Five or six times.

I now had a metric fuckton of drugs in my system, and the baby’s heartrate was showing variable decelerations. There was no choice but to put me under a general anesthetic. I didn’t care anymore, I just wanted it over. So there, in the sterility of an OR with her mother unconscious, at 13:13 on Friday, April 24th, 2009 my baby made her grand entrance. I don’t remember the first time I held her. I barely remember her first 24 hours of life. I have finally reached a point where I can separate my love for her from how much I HATED the process of getting her here. I’ve learned things, I have a lot of “If I had it to do over again I would…” But you know, even if I knew I was going to have the exact same experience over again, if I was guaranteed the same outcome, I would do it. For her. In the end, it’s all about her.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Status Report - ONE Day to Go!

Tomorrow is our due date. There are 10 or so signs of impending labour, of which I have had precisely ZERO. There are also many "natural" ways suggested to bring on labour, and I have tried them all - to no avail. If I could get her out using sheer force of will alone, she'd be sitting beside me on the couch right now. OK, not sitting, but you know what I mean.

She's got three more days to get out on her own or I'll be induced because of the risk of calcification of the placenta in gestational diabetes patients. It's been 9 months of anxiety with all kinds of complications and stress and worry, and as much as I wanted a natural, intervention-free pregnancy, I'm kind of relieved it's soon to be over. Motherhood is the next phase, and I'm looking forward to it with fear and excitement.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Status Report - 21 Days to Go!

FULL TERM! This kid is full term! Anything from here on out is straight-up FREELOADING. It's time for this kicky little baby to make her own way in the world. Yes, her. At last week's ultrasound, even *I* could see that those are girly bits.

Dear Maggie,

You have spent more than enough time punching me in the bladder. Get out.


More on her Grand Debut later...

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Status Report - 31 Days to Go!

The due date is exactly one month away today. A maximum of one month until this wriggly little kicker gets her eviction notice. The 3rd trimester fatigue is reaching a peak, and furious nesting activities do little to help with the battle. I have two more weeks at work and then I'm free to spend all the time my heart desires washing and scrubbing and sorting and clearing. God help me, I'm excited by this prospect.

I have started drinking red raspberry leaf tea, taking evening primrose oil, and walking everywhere I can. None of these things will trigger labour in a body that's not ready to go on its own so it's not like I'm wishing pre-term delivery on her, but helping the body to prepare for such a major undertaking can never be a bad thing.

The big booming kicks have become more subtle (and gross) wriggles as she has run out of room in there. I have a Biophysical Profile (Medical-ese for a really fancy ultrasound) on Tuesday morning so I will have one final, last ditch opportunity to see if this kid will allow their gender to be 100% confirmed. We're still only 75% sure it's a girl, and given the amount of pink stuff and frilly dresses I have received as gifts, even if it is a boy it's going to be a cross-dresser for a little while.

Soon this parasite will no longer live IN me, it will just move to the outside and spend 18 years living OFF me. Excited? Hell yes. Now if you'll excuse me, I must go wash baby blankets. Again.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Status Report - 50 Days to Go!

The Sacroiliac Joints are at the bottom of the back, helping to make up the rear part of the pelvic girdle. Sitting between the sacrum and the ilia, there is one on either side of the spine. When this joint is strained it is, quite literally, a pain in the ass. A pain the likes of which I have never felt before. I suppose I should consider myself lucky to have made it all the way to well into the third trimester without a lot of the typical pregnancy discomforts, but when you're lying on a hot water bottle, writhing in pain because your back hurts so much that it's difficult to breath, it's harder to appreciate the little things.

This brings me to item #14,236 that nobody tells you about pregnancy:

It hurts. Everybody knows that labour and delivery are going to be a little bit ouchy. You're pushing a 7lb+ object out of an opening that, thanks to years of kegel exercises, is not just not that large. Of course that's going to hurt! But every step of the way, there's something that hurts. Up to and including a literal pain in the ass.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Status Report - 69 Days to Go!

*tee-hee* I said 69! Another joy of pregnancy? A weakened immune system. This serves an eminently practical purpose, you are playing host to someone else's DNA, after all. But when you reach this stage of pregnancy - 75% done! - it starts to take a toll. At this point, sleep is an elusive friend. It's virtually impossible to find a comfortable position, and even when I do finally manage to, it only lasts for an hour or two before I have to shift and start the process all over again.

This lack of sleep on top of a weakened immune system means that we pregnant folk are highly susceptible to viral invasions. Oh, and it's winter so avoiding the sniffles is pretty much impossible. I've got my second cold in two weeks turning me into a walking snot factory right now, and my pre-pregnancy coping strategy of doping the fuck out of myself is not available at this time. My only defenses are plenty of fluids (which I pee out at an alarming rate anyway) and plenty of rest. HA! Plenty of rest. So funny! *grumble*

Friday, February 6, 2009

Status Report - 74 Days to Go!

Holy Fatigue, Batman! I've caught a cold bug that's been going around, but barely adds to the already omnipresent fatigue. I could have a nap at pretty much any time of day. Like now. Now is good.

The teeny one is now over three pounds and almost as long as she's going to get. All the books say that she's running out of room now and will now slow down on the kicking front. The books lie. I've actually been woken up thinking "WOW! That feels like someone just kicked me in the stomach!" And that is because someone DID just kick me in the stomach. Hard.

I continue to control the Gestational Diabetes with diet alone, which is excellent because the idea of giving myself a needle in the belly 3+ times a day was just not appealing. Though as I've already learned, there is nothing I wouldn't do for this kicky little girl. These parasites suck you in while they're still in the womb so that they may continue to live off the host for years to come.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Status Report - 85 Days to Go!

Before I got pregnant, I ran and did fairly strenuous weight training a few times a week. After the positive pee stick, my heart rate and energy level have dictated that I had to back off the regular training routine, but that was OK. I could live with it as long as I was able to keep some semblance of fitness by walking a lot at an incline and lifting lighter weights.

Then I had surgery in week 19 and had to take 6 weeks off exercising at all to recover. Ever since, I have felt rather crappy. Not in a "Gee, I'm pregnant and this baby gets heavier to lug around every day" kind of way, just in a "I have no energy at all to do even the simplest of things I would like to do." I still haven't really gotten my strength back, I'm exhausted most of the time, and finding things that I can actually do activity-wise has been a real challenge.

Yesterday, I went to an Aquafit class. It was me and a bunch of 60-something women, half of whom were recovering from hip replacement surgery. I gotta' say, it was a lot of fun geeking out to the cheesy golden oldies. Also, being the fittest person in the room was kind of cool. Not to mention that I felt downright sexy in a pool full of blue-hairs. Last night after the class, any swelling I had was virtually gone and I'm still feeling pretty damn limber today. You know, I think those little old ladies are on to something!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Status Report - 87 Days to Go!

I'm in Week 27, the start of the 3rd trimester. Some of the pregnancy guides say the final trimester actually starts at Week 28. But fuck those guys, I don't like them very much anyway. It's the home stretch for this kicky little baby and I.

The worst symptom for me in the 1st trimester was the exhaustion. Fatigue has reared it's ugly head again in the 3rd. I get home from work and can't be bothered to make dinner. I want to nap pretty much all the time. When I'm not too tired to go to the gym, which is rare, I can get through a whole workout no problem but walking up a flight of stairs to go pee leaves me gasping for air. That one, I just don't understand. Otherwise, symptom wise I'm doing OK so far. I haven't had any of the more unpleasant digestive problems that come with the squished internal organs, which can probably be attributed to the shitload of fibre I take in every day. I also drink water like a thirsty fish, so there's been no swelling extreme swelling of the extremities, though I did break down and buy a bigger pair of shoes because my current shoes are pretty snug by the end of the day and my wedding band and engagement ring have been on a chain around my neck since about Week 9.

I had planned to work right up to the bitter end, but knowing how tired I already am, I moved up the start of my leave to give me the last two weeks of pregnancy in the comfort of my own home. I feel no need to expose the world to the last two inches of my giant belly when the maternity clothes can no longer keep things under wraps. My biggest concern about going early was having the baby late, as in "What if I go on leave two weeks before the baby is due and then I go two weeks late?" That's four weeks of leave I would burn off for nothing! But I have Gestational Diabetes (it's only a big deal if it's untreated) and with this condition, the placenta can deteriorate rapidly at the end of the pregnancy. If we get all the way to the due date, I'll be induced. It's crazy to be excited about having a condition that requires strict management, but when it means I know I have a definitive end date, I'll take it!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Status Report - 100 Days to Go!

My kid is a demon who fucks with her mommy. She has been gradually getting more active every day and on Friday the activity level bordered on frantic. And then yesterday... virtually nothing. I did a few kick counts throughout the day and we always got to the required 10 movements within an hour, but unless I was REALLY paying attention there was no movement.

Naturally, because pregnant women are ever so rational, I assumed that during her super active day on Friday she had wrapped the umbilical cord around her neck and was going to struggle for oxygen until her death and it was going to be all my fault for not doing something to save her. Yup, perfectly reasonable assumption.

I did another kick count this morning, and while there were still the requisite number of kicks in a short period of time, they were still not strong enough for my liking. I decided I was going to shower and then call the midwife. I had to shower because they'd probably instruct me to go to the hospital (to save my dying baby) and I wanted to be fresh as a daisy while there. See? Perfect reasoning!

While I was in the shower, she hoofed me in the cervix so hard (seriously? what is with this kid and her hoofing me in the girly bits?) I nearly hit the floor. Or tub. Whatever. She has continued to hop around like a Mexican jumping bean in there all day since. In other words, she had turned herself around and spent yesterday kicking at the back where I can't feel them and has since turned back around so that I feel every single one. Totally fucking with me!

I had a nightmare last week that my car got stuck on some train tracks while I was driving with the baby and as the train barreled towards us, I couldn't get her out of the car seat. Between the horrible nightmares and managing to convince myself that she was at the brink of something awful last night, I have come to the conclusion that there is yet another thing about pregnancy that nobody ever tells you:

The entire process is fraught with anxiety. For as long as she's in MY belly, she's my exclusive responsibility. And it sucks. Putting that kind of pressure on a body that's already physically stressed and hormonally taxed is Totally. Not. Fair.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Status Report - 106 Days to Go!

Well, silly little me! I always thought that when they told you the sex of the baby during an ultrasound, they'd do so with some degree of certainty... I mean, they're supposed to be able to tell if my baby - still only the size of a small doll - has a cleft palate or club foot, but they cannot tell me if that's labia or testicles? Fuck!

Anyway, they're 75% sure it's a little...


Margaret Rose is still expected to join us on April 21st or somewhere thereabouts. We will call her Maggie. With every squirm or kick, I love her a little more.

Also done today... The Glucose Screen. This test checks for Gestational Diabetes. It's one blood test after fasting overnight, then they give you the nastiest shit in the world to drink and take your blood one and two hours later. Making a pregnant woman go 14 hours without food is just plain mean! Given that I am not much of a fan of the sweets, the nasty McDonald's Orange Drink of Death was a real treat for Kicky who noted her approval by hoofing the crap out of my cervix. At one point I swore I was going to look down and see a foot sticking out. But no, just random Mommy abuse. I look back at those early little flutters with much longing.