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Taking one day at a time...

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  • Monday, February 21, 2005

    A Brand New World...

    Today is February 21st and it's been thirteen days since I gave birth to my son, Jack. And let me tell was the scariest ride of my life.

    I went into the hospital on February 6th at 8pm to be induced. It was Jack's due date, anyway, but it wasn't the day he arrived. They gave me an application of Cervidil, which was supposed to prime my cervix to make it soften and open up for delivery. It was extremely painful as they wedged this hard piece of plastic into my unopened cervix. I screamed in pain because it hurt so bad and I was never prepared for it to hurt the way it did. The following morning I was to receive an IV of Pitocin. The next morning, the Pitocin drip was started and increased at periodic intervals. By the evening of the 7th, I had been having contractions that were anything but productive. They discontinued the drip and let me walk around, go to the bathroom, eat regular food, take a shower, etc. I was offered the option of trying the same thing that night and the next morning. I chose to try again. I was sure all of the contractions I was having at that time would start things moving in the right direction.

    The night of the 7th, after I'd been relaxed for a short while, they put another application of Cervidil in (major ouch again) and I continued to have unproductive contractions throughout the night. Each time I had an internal exam was more painful than the one I'd had before that. I must've had almost two dozen vaginal exams that were progressively painful, each one informing me that my cervix was still not ready. After another Pitocin drip that night, I thought I'd die. I never heard of anyone not progressing, especially with the contractions I was having and with the Cervidil and Pitocin I received.

    My doctor had told me I could get a shot of Numorphan for the pain, but she didn't write it down in my chart. When I'd finally asked for it, the resident doctor on call said he couldn't give it to me because it wasn't written in my chart. By that time, I'd been in labor for 24 hours and needed it badly. Since I couldn't understand a word he was saying through his thick foreign accent, I hung up the phone on him (He didn't come to my room; he called, instead.). Of course, I screamed my head off at him (I won't tell you what I said.) before I hung up the phone and two minutes later, my nurse came in with the shot.

    The morning of the eighth, I'd been up all night with serious contractions and in labor for 36 hours. I was hungry and thirsty. All the ice chips in the world couldn't satisfy me. I was nearly delirious. Every move I'd made brought on monster contractions and I'd been vomiting all night long. I'd been hooked up to an IV since I'd walked in on Sunday night and I was just plain spent. My husband had continued to spend each night with me on the floor of my room because the recliner was too uncomfortable. I wound up being in the hospital for six and a half days, my husband spending five on the floor. My brother had brought him two sleeping bags to cushion himself with. He wound up getting sick from exhaustion, running a fever and all, and he just had to go home. We couldn't risk him getting me or the baby sick. Since my Dad was staying at our house taking care of our dogs, we didn't have to worry about them while we were in the hospital.

    The morning of the eighth (I think), the student doctor tried to break my water bag. Later that afternoon, we'd found out she'd been unsuccessful. My doctor wound up doing it (successfully)and I was royally pissed off that she had even let this other woman do this to me, especially without any anesthetic or painkillers. It hurt so bad I kicked her. Believe me, there wasn't a soul on that floor that didn't hear what I had to say to all of them. And I never held back my feelings. I was in labor for two days and I wasn't about to hold my tongue. When she had asked me if I had a problem with the student doctor being there, I didn't have a problem with it, but I had no idea she'd let her perform any kind of procedure on me. I made sure they kept her away from me after that and I won't tell you what I said to make sure of it. My doctor tried stripping my membranes and everything. I found out that my body is just as tough as my mind. My cervix just wouldn't cooperate. And every time they did an internal exam on me, I'd scream in pain because they were literally trying to open up my cervix and it wouldn't budge. I couldn't dilate past 4cm. I was in so much pain I wanted to kill them all. My poor husband was there the whole time and he just didn't know what to do and didn't like seeing me in so much pain, especially from internal exams that weren't supposed to hurt in the first place.

    Finally, Mr. Epidural Guy came in and gave me the goods. I'd originally thought the epidural would hurt like hell, but I never felt a thing. It was wonderful. I had a "walking epidural" and could still move my feet and legs, but not feel any pain at all. I was very glad that I'd decided to get it. It made tolerating the rest of the internal exams easier. That's when my doctor had ruptured my water bag. I could tell she was having a hard time with it, though. I felt a lot of tugging and a lot of pressure, so I know that without the epidural I would've gone back there with a gun later.

    The evening of the eighth, I told my sister that I needed our Mom there with me. I was delirious at that point. When I saw the look in my Mom's eyes, I knew something was wrong. Apparently, I'd gotten a fever from an infection I got while I was in the hospital. It could've been the two dozen vaginal exams by a variety of different hospital personnel. It could've been the student doctor trying to rupture my membranes. She thought that because the hook was bloody, she'd done it successfully. It could've been the fact that I'd been in labor for almost 48 hours, at that point. My blood pressure had dropped dangerously low and my baby's heartrate had risen dangerously high. We were literally dying right then and there. I'd always said that I would never have a Cesaerean section unless I or my baby was dying, and guess what...we were and I had no choice at that point. My body was blowing up like a balloon. I couldn't even recognize myself anymore. I'd retained all the fluids they had given me and my body was becoming septic. I came very close to dying. I was mad at the world, delirious, exhausted, hungry, and terribly sad that mostly everything I never wanted to happen during childbirth, in fact, happened. I did, however, get a healthy, beautiful baby boy who didn't give me a single stretch mark! I got lucky, as far as I'm concerned. A six-inch scar (no, I didn't get any staples; they just glued me back together) is a small price to pay for what I got out of the whole experience. And all of it was worth it.

    My baby Jack was cut from my womb at 7:36pm on February 8th of 2005. He was 6 pounds 5.7 ounces and was 19.5 inches long. My husband was at my head on the left; the anesthesiologist was at my head on the right; and my arms were strapped down, as if I were on a cross. It was the most scared I'd ever been in my whole life. After I'd kissed baby Jack, they whisked him away to the Special Care Nursery, where he'd be taken care of for the next six days. He'd gotten the fever from me and needed to be monitored carefully. They even had to put in a feeding tube to make sure he'd get nourishment. While I was stitched up and put into the recovery room, my husband stayed with the baby the whole time. My Mom, Dad, and Brother were there, too, as they were all worried about us. I stayed in the hospital for six and a half days and came home without my baby. He came out two days later and those two days in the house without him were the worst days of my life. I never stopped crying. I went to half of his feedings each day to make sure he was eating and getting stronger. I couldn't stay apart from him for longer than twelve hours at a time. He became the center of my life, for the rest of my life. It didn't matter to me that I'd had major abdominal surgery. I needed my son. I literally walked through my own pain and took my meds when I needed them. My son was all I wanted.

    The day after I'd delivered, I looked down and my legs were bigger in circumference than my head. No one ever told me what happens to your legs after you have a baby. They didn't even look like they were mine. It took about ten days for all the swelling to go down and for me to get back into my own shoes. I'd been wearing my husband's slippers because I couldn't fit into any of my own. It feels good to have my own legs back now. My gut still hurts at times, but nowhere near as much as my heart did while my son wasn't with me. I can't even remember my life before him.

    The physical part of all of this, I can recover from. The emotional part, I will never forget. The ignorance of some of the hospital personnel, I can't forgive or excuse. But it all doesn't sour me. I will again get pregnant someday and maybe be able to deliver vaginally, like I'd originally wanted. And if I don't deliver the old-fashioned way, then it wasn't meant to happen that way. All I know is that I have a beautiful son who is surrounded by lots of people who love him; I'm in awe of the support we received from our families and friends; I have a new appreciation for my husband, as a father and as my soulmate; and I have many reasons to be grateful for being alive.

    I feel I've entered a brand new world with a fresh perspective on life. And this new world is better than the last one, richer, and much more satisfying than I ever thought it would be. I am a mother. I never knew it could feel this good.

    (If I think of anything else I can add to my Labor Story, I'll add it in later blogs. I don't recall every single minute and truly wished I'd written it all down as it happened. Next time, I'll remember that.)

    Sunday, February 06, 2005

    Scared and Excited...

    Tonight is the night I'll start inducing my baby into this world. I'm scared and excited, but it's hard to distinguish between the two. I am feeling both of those emotions at the same time, every single minute of the day. I cry. I stop. I cry. I stop. I just don't know how or what I should be feeling.

    While I never wanted to induce or ever thought I would be doing it, I am semi-relieved that it will soon be over. Sometime tomorrow, with any luck at all, I'll be a mother. I've made a choice to induce and I will have to live with that for the rest of my life. Nothing would've pleased me more than to have my son come out at his own choosing. However, Mama is tired, his due date is today, and I know deep down I'll feel better when it's all over. It's the waiting that's killing me. The longer he stays in there, the bigger he's going to get. I want to avoid a C-section at all costs and this seems the best way to do it. Even the difference of a half pound could make the doctors knife happy and I just don't want that to even enter the picture. Unless I'm dying or my baby's dying, no one's coming at me with a knife.

    I know labor won't be easy, but it's not the labor I'm afraid of. Once it starts, there's no turning back, so my body will make decisions for me. I don't have to. It's the starting of the whole process that scares me, since it's of my own choosing. I don't want any regrets. Also, I'm scared of an episiotomy. I don't give a shit how many women have them. I don't want one. I'd rather tear. Who cares if it's easier on the doctors? What about the Mama and what she wants? And I know it'll come to that point and I don't know if I'll be able to kick the doctor in the face the minute she suggests it. I may have an epidural, so I won't be able to do that. One thing that goes hand in hand with an epidural is a urinary catheter. You think I want one of those? Hell no, but I don't have much of a choice and it pisses me off.

    I so much wanted to have my early labor at home, barely making it to the hospital in time so I wouldn't have to be hooked up to every machine, monitor, and hospital apparatus available. And because I'm choosing to induce, I don't have any options now, not even the ability to walk around. They're going to do whatever they want to me and that's that. I have to give up all control over everything in order to bring my baby into the world. I never wanted it that way. I'm going to be getting internal exams left and right, even in the middle of the night. And I don't like that to begin with; strangers assessing your privates is not optional. Childbirth is humiliating.

    This whole process is going to piss me off and make me wish it never happened. However, I'm hoping that the minute my baby is placed in my arms, I'll be able to forget all about this nightmare and realize that I will only go through it a few times (I hope) during the rest of my whole life. At least I can take comfort knowing that this doesn't happen every day.

    I will be welcoming my baby into this world sometime tomorrow, hopefully. And he will be the light of my life and everything I ever dreamed he could be. It will be a new day and a new beginning for us all. The best part will be bringing him home to meet his Labrador sisters and introducing him to the place he will call his home. It will be a joyous occasion for us.

    While I'm scared and excited about tonight and the events that will take place overnight and tomorrow, I am also aware that this doesn't happen often in a person's life. He is my first baby, so if I wasn't scared, I wouldn't be human. I just know that the minute I smell his baby smell and look into his brand new eyes and hear his new-to-my-ears noises, I'll be reminded that this was what I was built for, what I was meant to do. And I'll have the rest of my life to enjoy his discoveries with him.

    My next post will be through the eyes of a mother and I will look forward to the day I get to wear that new hat. I just wish I could blink and he'd be here right now, all the middle steps bypassed. Hospitals don't make me feel safe. They make me feel cornered. Having my son, however, will hopefully erase all of that the minute he arrives.

    Welcome home, Jack! We've been waiting for you to arrive and there is so much to tell you and show you.

    Saturday, February 05, 2005

    The Day Before Admission...

    Well, tonight will be the last night I spend in my own bed before I have a child of my own. Tomorrow night at 8pm, I have to be at the hospital's Labor and Delivery unit to get prepared for Monday morning's induction. They will place prostaglandin gel (Cervidil) on my cervix and I will spend the night there, patiently waiting for contractions to begin. My husband will stay with me until we leave with our baby. It will most likely be the only time he'll be able to do that in our lives together. Next time, we'll have a child he'll need to stay home with/go home to, so I better take advantage of this while I can (unless the hospital allows children to stay,too). My Dad will stay with our dogs at our house, so I feel much better knowing that they'll have company and that their schedules won't be disrupted too much as long as he's there to take care of them. They are, after all, our first babies in a sense.

    I'm less scared about inducing now that it's sunk in that that's what we've decided to do. I'm more anxious and excited I'll see my son in just a matter of days. Our house will never look the same to me again. This is where we will begin our family. This is where we will start (and hopefully stay) to watch our children grow up. This will be our Bethlehem. It's funny how we were so excited about getting the house almost two years ago. We envisioned this event, but never really knew what it would feel like. Now, we're 99% there and it's going to happen in a matter of days/hours and I feel that I'll never look at this house the same again. It will be home in every sense of the word.

    I was always lucky. My parents never moved. I was born into that house and they still live in that house, too. I never had to uproot, change schools or friends, or "miss" the old house while getting used to living in a new one. The one thing I could always count on was that I could call that house "home." My room was always my room. While it was hard to have it all to myself after my sister moved out, it was fun to finally have it as my own. I could no longer make her clean the closet, though. And cleaning my room always consisted of throwing things under the bed or in the closet until it was time to clean those parts of the room.

    We didn't have the perfect Leave It to Beaver family, but who ever did? We had family, though, and that's worth it's weight in gold. It's not until you move away from your family that you realize how important they are to you, good times and bad. Whether you had a perfect family or not, they were always still your family and you loved them for being who they were and teaching you and preparing you for life outside of them. My family and I learned so much from each other. We learned how to love and that's the most important thing your family can teach you. Love isn't love without family. It's a broad word that covers so many aspects of your life. You learn things like how to love to read, how to love to sing and dance, how to love or not love chores, how to love yourself, how to love someone else without conditions when you're in a family. You learn how to love potty-training your niece, how to love crocheting and making kolackys, how to love cooking big meals, how to love dogs, how to love bad haircuts. You learn how to love so many things when you're in a family that you forget about all the things you love to hate.

    Family is very powerful and I feel bad for people in this world that have no one they can turn to for guidance, advice, shelter. Being in a family like mine has taught me that you can't count on anyone but the ones that love you for who you are. Being in a family teaches a person that they are never truly alone. While no family is without conflict or problems, every family is a family when someone new is born into it. All rejoice, all sing, all dance around the crib, all rush to help the scrambling, bumbling new parents. Family is a partnership unmatched by any other. It's a silent agreement that we'll all be there for each other when ill, in a bad mood, sad, proud or elated. Family is the most important thing in the world. It is the ties that unite us with a common goal...the drive for something better for those that come after us. In our tight little group, we see honor, devotion, laughter, and strength. We teach each other something valuable daily. You can't get that anywhere but in your family. It's the only gang you truly belong to...the gang of people you're born into. And you accomplish things together.

    You listen to advice, but always pick your own path. You disagree without becoming enemies because your love is stronger than any opinion you have. You don't hold a grudge because it's not productive; it only destroys the ties. You jump for joy when one of you succeeds. You share in sadness when one of you hurts. You fix the broken things when they are damaged. You make the good better and the better best, together. You share a common goal in preserving the love and passing it on. You cultivate the love when you're in a family.

    Love to a family is like sunlight to a plant. It can't grow without it. And it has to be tended to regularly in order to thrive. A family is a garden of many plants and herbs and trees. Each form of life is different, but they all require the same attention to become bigger and better than what they began as. We all began as seeds and have grown into many different types of plants. We are each a tree that can only branch out when it's ready. Trees don't grow overnight; they take decades to provide shelter, fruit, and shade. Family trees are the same. The family you belonged to as a child is never viewed the same as the one you have when you're a teenager or an adult. Families evolve. They teach and learn with each other throughout the years and they bloom into magnificent structures.

    In a matter of days/hours, my husband and I will begin our own family tree. Each of our own trees have come together to create a new one and we will begin our lives as parents. We will no longer be just a man and a woman, a couple, owners of crazy Labradors, a teacher and an operations manager...we will be parents, too. We will begin cultivating our own fruit from our own tree. We will be passing down the love that has been passed on to us. We will start a journey that will have its own ups and downs, its own joys and sorrows, its own love and laughter. We will foster and nurture a new life that we created together. And our lives will never be the same again.

    One day, we will wake up and look at our child while he is sleeping and wonder how we ever lived without him. We will make up songs about him, dance around the living room with him, bathe him in our kitchen sink, let him run around naked when no one is around, and one day make him mow the lawn (hee, hee). We will give him siblings with whom he can fight, chores to do, dogs he can be responsible for, and hugs and kisses he won't be able to squirm away from. We will watch him change shoe sizes every season, scold him for drinking milk out of the carton, and ground him for when he's out of line. We will rock him, teach him how to go on the potty, hear his first words, and listen when he's trying to find the right words to express himself as a toddler. We will love him, hold him, snuggle him, appreciate him, feed him, and eventually argue with him someday. We will guide him, mold him, and build him.

    We will love him forever. He will always be ours and he will always have us. He will be our firstborn son, our first journey into parenthood, our first at-bat. We will make mistakes and we will learn from them. We will experience doubt and frustration, experience the most love we ever could, take risks each day, and never forget how we felt the day he was born. He will teach us things we never knew about ourselves and feelings we never knew we had. He will teach us as much as we will teach him.

    I've waited for these moments my whole life. My husband and I will never forget the love that brought us together, nor will we ever forget the defining moment of becoming parents for the first time. We will watch our history be made, our lives be changed, and our genes be passed on. We will see what the love inside us has created and we will watch it grow each day. Just when I thought I couldn't love him any more than I love him right now, he gives me a child that we can love together. While I don't know what the future holds, I do know that I have a love inside me that I didn't know I was capable of having. The power of the connection you have in a family cannot be put into words. You are born into a family, one day to create a family of your own. And the power of that is more than words can hold. You care more than you ever dreamed you could. The family branches out; the bark protects the tree; the tree stands strong in all kinds of weather; the flowers unfold; the fruit is revealed. And the cycle begins over and over again. If it weren't for the structure and care of the tree, the fruit could never be.

    I will one day get to experience parent-teacher conferences in a brand new light. I've been the student and the teacher before and now I'll get to be the parent. Yikes! A whole new world will open up to me. I get to branch out now, my own chance at leaving my own physical mark on the world. My son will be born from my body and into this world to one day affect someone else's life. We all affect someone's life, at some point, so we all leave our mark somewhere along the way. I get to provide humanity with someone that will one day be someone's hero somewhere in the world. The power in that is freakishly humbling. My own flesh and blood will be the light of someone else's life someday and everything I do until then will affect that. It's amazing how closely the human race is tied the strings of parents all over the world. Without parents, no one is born.

    I will no doubt blog again tomorrow before I leave my prepared nest for the unchartered territory of parenthood. But I will return again, days later, to tell my tale of labor and joy, fascination and fear, humility and victory. And I will sit at my computer, morphed into a parent of a newborn, acutely aware that my actions now and in the future will affect everything my son will view about the world we live in for years to come.

    While the responsibility of raising a child in this day and age is daunting, it is also refreshing to know that my husband and I are more prepared than we ever thought we could be. With loving, responsible, actively involved support systems like our families, we will have the opportunity to carry out our dreams of having a family of our own, knowing we are not alone and having the confidence to build upon all that they have taught us along the way.

    This will be our greatest achievement ever, the greatest gift we can give back to the world, and the most defining moment of our lives.

    Friday, February 04, 2005

    To Induce or Not to Induce...

    Well, I'll be seeing my doctor at 11:30am and we're going to see if my body is cooperating with this whole preparation-for-childbirth thing I've gotten myself into. Our baby's due date is this Sunday, February 6th, but he hasn't decided to make an appearance yet. Yeesh.

    The plan is to have them prime my cervix with prostaglandin gel Sunday night and start Pitocin Monday morning. With any luck, I'll have the baby sometime Monday (or Tuesday, if he's stubborn or my body doesn't comply). I'm scared. I'm wary of the whole process. I'm in unchartered territory. I have no idea what to expect and nothing I read seems to prepare me for any of this. I just get more scared.

    So, I've put down the books and have managed to clean my house as best as I can right now. I'm so huge I can't even turn the faucet on in the kitchen without doing it with my arm extended from my side. I can't wait to be able to NOT have things hit my belly first when I reach for something.

    I will miss being pregnant, but I will be glad to be lighter in the weight department. I'm struggling. I didn't know the last two weeks of pregnancy would make you want to blow your head off. I've loved being pregnant up until this point. Now, it's just taxing my body. While I'd rather nature took its course, I'm open to the option of inducing, as it will get this baby out of me and allow me more physical freedom. I didn't know how much I'd miss being unencumbered.

    Don't get me wrong. I love my baby and the fact that I grew him to full term. Many women aren't that lucky. I am, though. And I know that many women would give their legs to be able to accomplish what I have so far. I'm not out of the clear, yet, though. Once I know he's healthy, I'll feel better. Once I know he has all his faculties and is healthy, strong, and perfect, I'll feel better.

    I'm nervous about this whole inducing process. I don't want to do it, but I do want to do it, if that makes any sense at all. I'm not opposed to an epidural, but I want to see how far I can go without it. I know labor's going to be a bitch, but I'm not scared about that. I'm scared about messing with Mother Nature by forcing him out. What if he's not ready? (How can he NOT be ready after 40 weeks?) My body needs a rest, a break. He'll be permanently attached to my nipple in no time, which will still be like being pregnant, just with him on the outside. But at least I can hand him to his Papa and walk away for a moment, even if it is just to pee.

    So, I'm dreading the doctor visit today. I am hoping that my stubborn cervix has made some progress, but I'm not holding my breath. So far, it's been unwilling to cooperate with nature and it may need a nudge to get it going. It does make me feel less than womanly, which I don't know if anyone understands. I just can't wait any longer for this beautiful little boy to enter my world. Electing to be induced weighs heavily on my psyche. I wanted things to happen when they'd happen, not because I choose when they should happen. While I have my doubts, I also am anxious and excited about meeting my new arrival face to face.

    I'm hoping labor is short and that delivering him into this world makes me forget how scared I ever was about it. I loved being pregnant and will no doubt do it again. And when I do, I will remember how long the last month of it really is and I will be prepared for it mentally. And maybe next time, we'll keep a little mystery in it by not finding out the sex.

    I'll probably blog again after my doctor visit today. And most surely again before I go in Sunday night. If I get my wish, maybe he'll arrive tomorrow and I won't have to choose to be induced. If not, then I'll induce and probably feel guilty about it until he's in my arms. A girl can dream, can't she?

    Wednesday, February 02, 2005

    I'm Back!

    It's good to be back! I must admit, after being away from the Peanut Gallery for so long, I am delighted to be back "home." I fell astray and became a member of another blogging site, only to have them "lose" my diary recently. Every time I send in a tech request, no one addresses my concerns, so I've divorced them and am humbly seeking your forgiveness. I never should've left you.

    Right now, to update you on what I've been doing in the last year, I will surprise you with the fact that I've spent that time away constructively. I've been pregnant since last May and I am due on Sunday, February 6th. The baby is a boy, so I'm very excited about having a son!

    I plan on sticking around with you this time and have no plans on "moving" anytime soon. I may not blog as often, especially having a newborn pretty soon, but I don't plan on deserting you, either. It was comforting to know that you didn't throw me out, even though I probably deserved it.

    Until the next blog, I wish you the best. I will be spending the next few days anxiously awaiting the arrival of my much anticipated son. Wish me luck!