Posted in Children, Insomnia, Mommyhood

Sleepy Logic

I decided sometime early this morning — perhaps around 3:45? — that the word “hate” (which I never use for people or animals — unless they’re spiders) is just not as strong a word at 3am. (I think I may also have concluded that violence performed in a sleep-befuddled state might well be pardoned in a court of law if they just knew why — but, again, “sleep-befuddled”.)

I went to bed kind of late last night, partly because I just wasn’t sleepy, and also because I was waiting for my hair to dry a bit after my shower. I was happily making some writing progress, too, which, in my opinion, is reason enough to stay up until my body forces me to sleep.

Which, of course, occurred half an hour after sitting down. Natch. :\

ANYway, I got to bed probably around 1:15, maybe? Maybe earlier? And was well into dreamland when Beanie woke up crying at 2am. Not just stirring and fussing, which I ignore until he settles or becomes inconsolable (don’t judge me! SLEEP!), but standing up and wailing. *Sigh*

I usually take him into the living room and watch a show (or two . . . or three), but I was tired enough I thought I’d just snooze while he had a bottle or nursed.

We both ended up falling asleep. This is okay; at least I wasn’t fully awake for two hours, but it did make it harder to put him back to bed. He fussed when I put him down, which just about made me cry (inside), but as I resigned myself and searched for socks to wear while I stayed up for the rest of the night, he plopped down and fell asleep.

YAY! This is good! But here’s where my sleepy logic came into play: My stupid cat — whom I really do love very much, but would often like to turn into a pair of luxurious gloves — kept meowing as I was getting into bed. It’s like that Crappy Pictures blog post about pet annoyance, before and after kids. She wouldn’t shut up! And Beanie kept stirring! His fragile sleep state was in the balance! WHY CAN’T YOU UNDERSTAND THAT, STUPID CAT??!!

And that’s when I thought it: Hate is so much less a powerful word at 3am, because I so very much hated my cat just then. She wouldn’t be still. She kept making noise. I thought I’d never sleep again! She didn’t understand how close she was to death just then!

(Or maybe she did, because I always threaten to kill her, but I never do. 12 years of that probably taught her that I’m just bluffing.)

Then, this morning, after a couple hours of semi-uninterrupted sleep, she started chewing on plastic, and digging into stuff near the baby’s crib. Once again, HAAAAATE!!! But, instead, I squirted her with a water bottle and tried to go back to sleep.

And then Pie woke up, followed shortly by Beanie. And the cat was vindicated, because she knew that now I would HAVE to get up and feed her, which was her ploy all along.

Grr!

But now I’m up, and less filled with hate, because coffee makes everything better. πŸ™‚

Did any of that make sense? Or am I still running on sleepy logic?

UPDATE: I am extra cranky today, so it was a good thing we were planning on going to a friend’s house, so Pie and his friend could beat each other senseless while my friend and I talked and took the edge off. Turns out, our kids are cranky, too! And we’re all sleepy! So, even though we had a good time, I was still cranky and tired when I got home. My husband got home a little early, and both kids are ensconced in quiet/nap time, so I am drinking a much-needed homemade mocha and listening to MY music on MY headphones. Just for a little while. And reading Crappy Pictures, to make myself feel better about being a cranky parent. πŸ™‚

Posted in Children, Mommyhood

I Miss Sleep

It’s probably the biggest complaint of any parent with small children: “I’m so tired!” If the small children are newly-born, sleep-regressing, or teething, it kind of catapults into: “I’m so freaking tired, I want to curl up in a ball and hide from life for the next decade.”

Yeah, you know what I mean. Just an FYI, I can’t guarantee the coherency of this post. Bear with me while I vent ramble blubber vent.

My cute little baby — sweet little Beanie — has been running a three-digit fever for the past few days. I suspect it’s from teething, but we’re quarantining, nonetheless, in case it’s something else. No other symptoms but the little spikes under his gums, mild stomach upset from gas, and inability to sleep through the night without significant help from Tylenol are presenting themselves.

But, let me tell you, I sure have plenty of bodily complaints to add to his list! My left elbow and wrist will never be the same, from hours of holding an arching, kicking, thirteen-pound infant and bouncing to get the gas bubbles out. My left foot is feeling the pressure of that extra 13-ish pounds. I get upper-back spasms and tight lower back, despite weekly-ish visits to a chiropractor. I’m irritable and seriously lack patience, because being awake from two AM to four-thirty AM every other night seriously messes with my already dwindling energy levels and brain function. ** TMI: Also, sore boobs, from trying to nurse a teething infant whose latch changes daily, and whose jaws clamp shut when he falls asleep. *wince* **

And the screaming . . . Not my screaming, mind you. The screaming at three AM, when I’m pretty sure he’s almost asleep enough to detach him (see “TMI” above) and put him to bed, but he wakes and arches and I have to start all over again for the fifth time — bouncing, walking, nursing, etc. Then, almost like clockwork, he passes out just about four AM, but I have to wait an extra ten minutes or so to make sure it’s FOR REAL this time.

I know there are countless parents out there who deal with this. I’m just complaining because, y’know, sometimes ya just gotta vent or you’ll explode. I don’t cry — I’m not a crier. I get frustrated and angry. I resent it about myself, then get depressed. If I don’t vent once in a while, I just bottle it up and carry it around with me. It causes anxiety and more depression — ’cause, seriously, why can’t I cope? Parents deal with this stuff all the time! Parents did it for generations before parenting books came out! Grr!

For reasons that really only make me look lazy and incompetent, Beanie is still in our bedroom. We have two bedrooms in this house, and, eventually, the boys will share one. For now, I LIKE that I can separate them for simultaneous nap and quiet time. Beanie goes to his bed in our room, and Pie has his whole room to play in for a couple hours. The two activities don’t always coincide, but when they do, you get a blog post! Hooray! Or I can choose from literally hundreds of activities of my own that will be put off to do the dishes or websurf. I’d nap, except I’m afraid I’d just be more tired later, when the nap turned out too short to make up for hours lost during the night.

Oops, rambling again. ANYway, Beanie is also a light sleeper. If Pie wakes up in the night (which isn’t often), Beanie is apt to wake up, too. And be LOUD about it. And insistent. (Maybe he’s a bit spoiled to nursing in the middle of the night, but he’s also still not eating solid food (and has been off the formula train lately), so I kind of have to feed him every time he asks.) And our house ECHOES like you wouldn’t believe, so to let him cry it out in OUR bedroom means neither me nor my husband sleeps, and my husband gets WAY crankier than I do if he doesn’t get a solid six to eight hours. To let him cry it out in Pie’s room means NONE of us sleep, because my husband is unconsciously geared to waking up with Pie while I take care of Beanie. It’s a lose-lose. So, I get up with Beanie when he wakes up, Pie sleeps on blissfully unaware in his own room, and Sweetie puts a pillow over his head and sleeps the deep sleep of the Daddy Who Has To Get Up For Work In X Hours. Beanie screams, and I . . . do a mother’s duty. Bounce, walk, nurse; lather, rinse, repeat; and maybe watch more Star Trek on Netflix — because I ran out of Castle on DVD, and Star Trek has subtitles so I can watch with the volume down low.

I should count my blessings, though. At least I can almost get another three or four hours of sleep before Pie wakes me (and Beanie) up the next morning, and then Beanie is ALMOST guaranteed to take a long nap. And the nights Beanie DOESN’T wake up, he’s apt to sleep nine to twelve hours, depending on bedtime and morning sleep disturbances. </Segue in 5…4…3…> I’m EXCEPTIONALLY THANKFUL I’m not this mom, who thinks it’s normal or okay for her two-and-a-half-year-old to wake her FOUR TO SEVEN TIMES a night to nurse!(!!)

Now, I have no problem with a mom wanting to nurse her toddler. I weaned Pie when he was fourteen months, and I probably won’t wean Beanie until I’m sure he’s eating enough solid food to make up for it. He might be two years old before I wean him. But I believe that’s my prerogative. I might throw in the towel early and trade my milk for raw cow’s milk and formula, because I’m so tired of being tied down and being the sole source of his nutrition in the middle of the night. I understand and sympathize with much of what that mom wrote about, and daytime nursing every three or four hours makes sense — that’s about Beanie’s average, too.

But, dang it, if my child’s not teething, gassy, sick, or soaked, I do NOT want to be waking up multiple times a night to nurse him. ESPECIALLY if he starts eating solid food like a normal child. Children that age should be sleeping through the night. Granted, I’m a lot more lenient with formula than I was with Pie, so I’m more likely to offer a bottle before bed at times Beanie’s more hungry so that he will last through the night; and I don’t always mind waking up just once to feed him, because he is pretty dinky and really does need the extra calories over a span of twelve hours.

But FOUR to SEVEN TIMES A NIGHT? Good grief! I’d be a raving lunatic, and it would have NOTHING to do with the idea that self-pity or guilt makes me more exhausted than just pure sleep deprivation. I just couldn’t do it! Waking up with Beanie means a two-minute trip to the bathroom so I’m not uncomfortable while nursing him, a two-minute or so diaper change, a walk to the living room and a settling into the couch, and a nursing session that may or may not actually result in a sleeping child at the end. Then, whenever he’s finally asleep again, a moment of touch-and-go where I lower him carefully back into his bed despite the muscle spasms, and crawl into my bed to try to go back to sleep. That’s at LEAST half an hour to forty-five minutes! Four to seven sessions like that a night, and I would be in a mental institution. It’s bad enough he doesn’t get to sleep till eleven some nights, and wakes at two and stays awake till four. I know that’s NOT normal, and I’ll do my best to make sure that it doesn’t happen every night, and it ENDS when he’s mostly done teething.

To be fair, she probably co-sleeps, which is something I cannot and will not do. Kudos to those who can successfully sleep with a wiggling baby between them, and good luck transitioning that baby to its own bed; but I cannot do it. I won’t even let the cat between my husband and me. Also, the last time I brought Beanie to bed to nurse because I was just too exhausted to stay awake, he bit and pulled and drew blood. I still shudder to think about it, so we don’t nurse in bed ANYmore.

To each parent his or her own, of course. If you’re fine with waking up every hour for a two-year-old to nurse, then, by all means. Most parents are thrilled when their four-month-old QUITS that habit after the four-month sleep-regression and starts sleeping through most of the night again. Excuse me if I look funny at any parent who doesn’t do their darnedest to teach their toddler how to sleep through the night without having to fill his or her belly every one or two hours, because that just looks like insanity to me. It’s insane enough having to stay up four hours out of every eight at night to bounce gas bubbles out of a one-year-old.

Hm, it appears this vent has turned into a rant, and I’m getting redundant and repeating myself. I’ll stop now. πŸ™‚ And I can finally close that tab on my browser . . . But, more immediately, Beanie’s awake from his nap now and I hate typing one-handed. So, I’ll write again later, because there’s another article sticking in my craw. But I’ll wait till I’m a little more coherent for that one.

Posted in Children, Mommyhood

My Weird yet Talented Son

Clearly, this little boy is autistic <eyeroll>:

Sorry, I’ll be riding that horse for a while. The more I compare the autism criteria that the doctor thought matched Pie’s behavior to Pie’s actual behavior, Pie appears less autistic and the doctor appears more on crack. Today at OT, he said hi to everyone he passed (I’m not kidding: EVERY.ONE.), trying to engage them in conversation about Elmo, no matter whether we were running late for our appointment, crossing the street, or getting into the elevator. He gave hugs to the OT staff freely, showed them his Cookie Monster book, and laughed at every opportunity. (If anything, he’s bipolar — and you’d agree if you’d seen the Mr. Hyde routine he’d put on before we left for OT, and then the 180Β° he pulled in the car!)

Anyway, this video is brought to you by the fact that my son is ΓΌber-adorable when he “reads” “What’s Wrong Little Pookie?” by Sandra Boynton. I’m just thrilled he’s starting to love books. He wants to be read to at night, and sometimes during the day, and he’s willing to go quietly to quiet time and actually BE quiet (relatively) while reading his books in bed. He almost never naps, but he actually fell asleep today — with his backpack on. It was cute, and I should have taken a picture. πŸ™‚

I’ll have to try to get a video of him reading “10 Little Dinosaurs”, because that is hilarious, too. πŸ™‚

Posted in Mommyhood

New Theme! Cute Banner!

It’s not that I didn’t like the old theme. I just wanted something new. I was hoping for something a little more fun or whimsical, but I actually figured out how to personalize the banner at the top, so I’m pretty happy with this turnout!

And, since being distracted by the boys and various other things this evening, I forgot the question I was going to pose about the banner, so what you see is what you get! Until I remember whether I was going to make something different.

Ah, motherhood! πŸ˜‰

Posted in Children, Mommyhood

The “Autism” Hammer

I’ve often wondered if the great number of autism diagnoses were misdiagnoses of children who just had a different way of looking at the world, didn’t conform, or patients of doctors who believed the criteria were absolute and not a matter of early childhood training getting in the way of whatever some medical council has declared “normal” should be.

Is the huge spike in autism statistics a matter of awareness (i.e. “We have a name for it now!”), the aforementioned misdiagnoses, or an ACTUAL change in the behavior of our children for the worse (due to whichever popular evil du jour, be it excessive stimuli of our day and age, vaccinations, BPA, power lines, or chemtrails)?

Before you power up your flamethrowers, I believe autism is a real thing, and that there really are children who have it, and I’m glad there is so much awareness and help for it today to make parents’ lives easier.

I just don’t think MY child has it.

Yes, he’s a little wild sometimes; he doesn’t care to play by the rules; he tends to think outside the box, play alone, and say whatever comes to mind, ignoring your questions completely; and he doesn’t hold your gaze for the magical amount of time doctors want while things are going on around him or he has a bunch of new things to look at. But how much of that is due to the fact that I might be sub-par at training him to develop according to the standards, and how much is due to the fact that he’s only three years old?

Here are the criteria for diagnosing autism. The doctor (the developmental specialist at the hospital we go to–who specializes in autism, no less) circled (a) and (b) of (1); (c) and (d) of (2); and (b), (c), and (d) of (3).

(a) of (1) says there is a “marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors, such as eye-to-eye gaze,”–(the latter underlined by her)–“facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction.” When we went to see her, we were in a brand new room, with lots of toys and a person he didn’t know. He busied himself with the toys, and rarely met my eyes because he was busy with the toys. He didn’t meet her eyes, either, because, like I said, he was busy with the toys (and he didn’t know her and she was kind of a severe person who scared even me). That, apparently, is what she considered to be a processing problem. There’s so much to see and do, that he can’t pay attention to the person talking to him. I was kind of in listening mode and processing mode, myself, so it didn’t occur to me till later to mention that HE’S THREE. And he’s A BOY. It took me a long time and lots of courage to meet the eyes of people I didn’t know (and even those I did), especially if I had other things going on around me. Goodness, maybe that makes ME a candidate for autism!

But a “marked impairment“? He doesn’t try to avoid your gaze, he just doesn’t look at you when he’s busy. He has LOTS of facial expressions that convey what’s going through his head. And he gestures all the time. If he doesn’t have the word (or want to say it), he points. Then he points more emphatically. Then he says something (or whines) and points. He’s communicating well enough for a busy three-year-old.

I’d also been watching him lately, and I’ve realized that he meets my gaze very well, especially when being defiant. To get the attention of another child he tries to catch their eyes and say hello. Which brings me to (b) of (1), which says “failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level.”

I will admit failure on that part. Again, he’s THREE, and we live in the boonies. It’s not like he can pick up my cell phone and call his playtime buddy, or jump in the car and drive to the Imagination Station for some peer-to-peer interaction whenever he wants to. But when the next door neighbor’s grandchild comes over to play, Pie is thrilled. He runs and screams and plays with other kids, wherever we are, whether he knows them or not, and he talks about his cousins (one of whom is six weeks younger than him) all the time. If I got out of the house more often to play with other kids, he would have more appropriately-aged children to play with. But let me tell you: The fact that he’s played with kids who are older than him has led him to be more resilient, and the fact that he’s played with younger kids has helped him be more nurturing and gentle. Just because I have failed to create a regular cohort for him (or enroll him in preschool already) does not mean this criterium applies to him. When we were meeting at a playdate once a week, he never clung to me or sat by himself the whole time, but preferred to get into stuff, play with toys, and scream and run with the rest of them.

(d) of (2) is kind of weird. Pie has the toys he’s familiar with, and he will do all sorts of things with them: Act out his favorite movies, use them for purposes unintended for them (he has a travel alarm clock that is apparently his Blues Clues PDA, and the battery compartment is the perfect size for a broken crayon–that seems pretty imaginative and spontaneous to me), or make stuff up like any normal child. When faced with a new toy, or bunch of unrelated toys, he wants to see how they work first. He doesn’t just jump into expected patterns of play behavior because he’s exactly three years and seven months, and that’s what a child of his age should be doing.

The doctor had him sit in one spot and brought out several groups of toys in quick succession, trying to engage him in some imaginative play defined by her. The first was a baby, some birthday paraphernalia (plate, fork, knife, small dowels for candles, napkin), and play dough. The doctor wanted him to help her make a cake, then put candles on it, then sing Happy Birthday, cut the cake, and feed it to the baby. Pie, who doesn’t do food, just wanted to play with the play dough. If the candles really were on fire (or even looked like candles), he might have sung Happy Birthday and then helped her blow out the candles (he’s done that before). If there really was juice in the cups, he would have helped her clean up a spill. As it was, he was interested in touching everything first (which, for a kid with a touch of tactile defensiveness, is actually kind of commendable). By the time he might have engaged with her, she was already putting things away and getting out something new. She wasn’t even giving him time to use his imagination. I mentioned that he really loves to see how things work, and is very mechanical in nature. I thought that was a good thing, but, to her, it meant he wasn’t playing at an age-appropriate level (I guess because it seems to fall under (3)(d)).

As for spontaneity, he recites and acts out his movies at the drop of a hat, sings random songs he knows and hums tunelessly, and every day objects become toys if he wants them to. His favorite toys at the moment are his hands stuffed into a couple fake salt and pepper shakers that came with his kitchen that are nested inside cups that also came from his kitchen. He looks like he has hooves instead of hands, and, to him, they’re endlessly entertaining. Soon, he’ll drop his interest in those for some other occupation. As I said, he’s a busy kid. (After writing that paragraph, I hung out with him and Beanie in his room, where he entertained himself building with blocks, crawling through his tunnel, and making pizza in his kitchen (making microwave sound effects, no less)–which, of course, he did not pretend to eat.)

Sure, he has some rigid adherence to certain routines and activities, but, in case I didn’t mention it before, he’s THREE. I’m not a terribly structured individual, so his need to have routines amongst my daily chaos seems pretty normal to me.

There is much to his behavior that, admittedly, could be attributed to lackadaisical parenting on my part. I told the doctor that some parental training would probably have to be involved to see better results from him.

I stewed over this diagnosis for days. That first day, I felt pretty emotional and weird, because I was warring against a professional opinion (she’s a specialist, after all!) and my opinion as a mere parent (heh). Later, my husband said he couldn’t see it. Pie’s OT said she could see some trademarks, but nothing about him screamed “autistic!” to her, and she’s been seeing him for almost a year now. The Pediatric GI doctors got fifteen minutes with him and didn’t see anything peculiar about his behavior. The audiology tech seemed perplexed by the diagnosis, as well, and said Pie merely seemed stubborn (and he was less cooperative with that guy than with the specialist). A speech therapist friend of mine has had dealings with this doctor and said that she (the doctor) is prone to diagnose a large number of children who come to see her as autistic, and it would be best to get a second opinion.

So, we’re going to seek a second opinion. Fortunately, the specialist is NOT the boys’ pediatrician. I’m hoping the pediatrician, whenever she comes on staff, is not likely to bend to the will of the specialist or the diagnosis, and give me her genuine professional opinion. Then I hope to get referrals to a new therapy group in Tacoma that was recommended to us by the GI doc, who said they have seen more progress in behavioral issues from them than where Pie is going right now, and evaluations from a local special-needs preschool in the district.

I feel better now than I did a week ago, now that I’m armed with more knowledge and know better what to look for to counteract the doctor’s knee-jerk diagnosis.

It seems to me that rushing into such a diagnosis really detracts from the severity of true autistic children, who need those resources more than kids with mild behavioral issues, like mine. It sours the need for autism awareness when children who really need a little extra consistency in their lives are diagnosed with such a weighty label. It seems that someone who specializes in autism should know that, and be a little more careful in her diagnoses.

But, as the saying goes, when all you’ve got’s a hammer . . .

Posted in Mommyhood, Organization

Routine Thing

I really need to work on my cleaning routines. I’ve known this for a looooonnnng time. Last night, I cleaned the kitchen after I put Beanie to bed. I realized that that was a routine I could get behind: Put Beanie to bed, tidy/clean the kitchen. Then play on the computer. πŸ™‚

It’s a start, anyway. πŸ™‚

I’ve been putting off a lot of my computer use during the day, because a) I don’t have a good place to put the computer for easy access by me and no access by munchkins, b) it’s not as easy to use the computer while nursing Beanie anymore, and c) I’ve been on the computer too much as it is. If I use my phone to check Facebook and email during the day, I don’t really need to check the computer except in cases where the phone can’t handle what I need to look up, or I need to print, or whatever. Like updating this blog, for instance. πŸ™‚ There’s an Android app for it, but the reviews are not pretty, so I’m not even going to bother.

I’ve always struggled with a morning routine, though (mainly because I hate getting up earlier than my children–who already get up too early, in my opinion), and that’s the most important time of the day to have good routines set up. But I often don’t gain momentum as much as I fight inertia all morning. By the time afternoon rolls around, I sometimes feel like I’m just waking up, or falling back to sleep again. Bleh.

I am usually an all-or nothing person, but I’m slowly teaching myself that small changes build up. What I ought to do, though, is find someone to watch the kids (preferably somewhere else) for a few hours while I attack my bedroom or another area. Or take a nap so I can do it another time. πŸ™‚

I should revisit my Flylady book again . . .

Posted in Identity, Mommyhood, Organization

If my day were a tag cloud . . .

. . . the word “NO” would be utterly massive in the center and eclipse all other words, with perhaps the exception of “GENTLE!” and the boys’ names. (Incidentally, Beanie can say “no no” — his second word after “da da”. You’d think he’d be more proficient with “ma ma” with as often as Pie says it, but oh well!)

I was just thinking of that, as I told Pie for the fiftieth time this evening to NOT BE WILD AROUND YOUR BROTHER!!!11!

Anyway, remember my last post? Oh, well, neither did I. I had to go reread it. πŸ˜‰

A lot has been going through my head lately, much of it centering on “Oh my word, HOW do I organize my day when I can’t even find the time to put away my own laundry??!” I know there are lots of tips and tricks out there. My father- and mother-in-law recently visited, and she helped me with some cleaning and organization. That woman cannot sit still! I wondered how I could be like her. I, personally, LOVE sitting still. Which might actually be my problem . . .

I’ve been noticing a serious lack of movement on my part (other than carrying a ten-month-old on my hip while making the three-year-old’s food, or lifting the three-year-old up to the changing table — which will hopefully end soon, as we’re trying to potty train), due to a serious lack of energy, which has led to an increase in bodily aches and pains. I’m just barely under 170, which is pretty good for me, but I’m sure more of it is fat than muscle, like it was when I was first pregnant with Pie. I desire activity and exercise, but not quite as much as I desire not having to wake up before 8am. Obviously, I have some priorities that need to change. πŸ˜‰

(By the way: This is why one should have children at a young age. Because starting when you’re 30 means you’re dealing with energetic toddlers and preteens on your way up and over the hill!)

I have lots of other whining I could be doing, but I find I have no desire to. I’m actually in a pretty good mood, though I could easily crawl into bed and go to sleep right now. But I just got the kids in bed! I have time to myself! Umm . . . what should I do with it? I have LOTS of choices. One might say too many choices, because I get overwhelmed and don’t do anything. Argh! I should make a list. But first, some tea . . .

‘Night!

Posted in Mommyhood, Pregnancy

He’s Here! Part 3

Part 1
Part 2

I probably shouldn’t have waited too long to write this part, since the mother of a new baby loses about 80% of her brain to sleep deprivation and cleaning up various bodily fluids. The mother of a new baby and a toddler loses the other 20% to trying to figure out how to parent a toddler while stuck on the couch with a baby attached to her.

So . . . where’d I leave off . . .

As soon as the new IV was in place the the Pitocin drip began, the nurse told me I also needed to do what I could to get the baby to turn around, so he didn’t come out “sunny-side up” (that is, facing up instead of down–can be a bit painful on the pubic bone) or in any other position than the textbook one. She brought an adjustable side-table over and made it tall, put a pillow on top, and gave me a stool to prop a foot on while I stood there. I was to switch feet every so often. Gravity would help him move down, and the position of my legs would encourage him to turn around.

I did that for about an hour or so, watching some TV on DVD we brought with us (although we couldn’t watch more than the first episode on either side of the disc, because there was no remote and no controls on the TV). If I have another baby there, I’ll remember to bring my computer, even though there’s no wireless. The TVs were much better than the last time I was there, but pretty useless without the remote.

They told me I could use the tub if I wanted to, but it would take about 20 minutes to fill, so I needed to let them know early. As much as I wanted to use the tub before I had Pie, I had no desire to use it this time. It was a lovely, deep tub (no jets, because they’re too hard to sterilize), and I fantasized about it before Pie was born–mainly because we had no tub in our house at the time. This time, we had a nice, deep tub at home, and getting out of it while hugely pregnant was not terribly easy, even with a handle. The idea of trying to climb out of an even deeper tub, dry off, put on one of those annoying gowns, and cross the room to get into a bed to finish giving birth did not really appeal. Experience has its drawbacks. πŸ™‚

Probably around 10pm (or later?), I called in the nurse because I was getting tired, the contractions were getting stronger and more regular, and I needed a more restful position, especially since I didn’t know how much longer I would be laboring. She had me sit on the yoga ball, leaning up against the side of the bed. I was feeling pain in my lower back, so she applied counter-pressure (that is, pressing on the lower back to counteract the pressure making it hurt) when the contraction began, and let off when it stopped, all the while watching the monitor and resetting it when the contraction waves “topped the charts”.

When she had to leave the room for something or other, she showed my husband how to apply the counter-pressure. I had her bring me a barf bag, too, because the stronger the contractions got, the more nauseous I became. I only threw up once when I was in labor with Pie, but I hadn’t eaten anything yet that morning. I’d had one or two meals already before the Pitocin, and as time went on, I knew there was no way I’d keep them down. Sure enough, probably around 10:45-ish, I filled that bag.

I hate throwing up. It’s gross, it hurts, and it’s embarrassing–but, hey, what I was in the process of doing was even more so, so I just let it take its course. πŸ™‚ Throwing up during a big contraction–now there’s a new lesson in discomfort! I’d say pain, except that the act of throwing up kind of distracted from the pain of the contraction. I think I did feel my water break, though, or at least partially. I’m one of the vast majority whose water doesn’t break before labor starts. They had to break it for me when I had Pie, but I’d felt it leak when I threw up before leaving for the hospital.

Once I’d emptied my stomach, I actually felt somewhat better. The nurse cleaned me up with a damp cloth and brought out a fan for me. It was pretty cool in the room, but my big, pregnant, laboring self felt like I was in an oven, and the fan on my face was a Godsend.

Probably around 11pm, labor had progressed to the point where the nurse could tell by my breathing and moaning that I was probably getting to the pushing stage. I could feel it, too–the contractions had changed. She left my husband pressing on my back and me moaning into the side of the bed to go page the midwife. While she was gone, I felt the first urge to bear down. I lifted my head and said, “Hurry up, guys.” My husband (possibly on the edge of panic; I’d have to ask him), asked me if I needed to hit the call button. I nodded my head, but didn’t move, so he asked me if I needed him to hit the call button. I nodded, tried to ward off another urge to push, and waited probably a couple seconds till the nurse, midwife, and midwife’s student/assistant (who would do the actual catching and follow-up, including stitching) burst in the door.

I told them I needed to push. The nurse smiled and said she had a feeling that would be the case. Everyone (a surprising number of people, I recall later) went into action getting stuff ready, including trying to get me up into the bed. There was a veritable crowd in there after the baby came (like, maybe three or four nurses or techs, the midwife and her assistant, and one or two obstetricians) but that was kind of a blur.

When you’re in labor, the smallest movement can feel like a Herculean task, so I’m still not really sure how they got me up in that bed. It’s hard enough climbing into it after having the baby! Somehow, in the few seconds between contractions, they coerced me into climbing up. I didn’t want to go. I was perfectly happy down on the floor. I would have knelt and given birth right there if they’d let me. Getting into that bed was the last thing I wanted to do! But, they got me up there.

Next thing they did was lower the foot of the bed to what seemed like the floor, and installed the squat bar (sticks up over the bed, and kind of out past the end of it). Then the nurse, who was a most patient individual, talked me into grabbing hold of the bar and leaning forward. I didn’t want to do that, either. I wanted to lay back in the bed like when I was delivering Pie. I wanted nothing to do with gravity, or holding myself up, or anything like that–but she got me to do it. What she couldn’t get me to do was stand on the lowered foot of the bed. She let me have that victory, at least.

I used to think when I saw television births that women shouldn’t yell or scream when they’re pushing, because it’s counterproductive. You need that energy to do the pushing! That worked just fine for me when I was having Pie. This time, though, I found that I couldn’t keep myself from groaning and yelling. I shut myself up whenever I caught myself doing it, so I could focus on pushing, but I was very noisy. I hope I didn’t scare anyone outside the door. πŸ™‚

I had one moment of pain-free clarity in the midst of this all, between pushes. I don’t remember if it was before or after Beanie crowned, but I do remember opening my eyes and catching my breath. It was like this tiny oasis, and it was awesome. Thank you, God, for small favors!

Almost as soon as they had me take hold of the squat bar, my pushing began in earnest. I couldn’t take it easy, I couldn’t slow down–this baby was comin’, and coming fast. At one point, the nurse had me touch his head, and I think that helped me realize that it was almost over, and gave me another burst of energy. I didn’t want him hanging out there–I wanted him OUT.

It was four minutes of pushing, total–or so I was told. Even though it felt much longer, it really did seem fast, compared to my first child. That first delivery, which was pretty fast for a first delivery, was downright leisurely compared to this one.

When Pie was born, I had a mirror so I could see his birth. With Beanie, I was looking down at him when he came out–and I had to suppress panic, because the cord was wrapped around his neck twice, and he wasn’t crying. My first words to him were, “Breathe, little man, come on–cry!” But the nurses had it in hand. They got the cord unwrapped and got him rubbed, suctioned, and wrapped, then put him on my chest where he continued to nap peacefully until I could coerce him into trying to nurse. He wasn’t that interested at first–I’d woken him up from a great nap, after all! If it had been his choice, he wouldn’t be born yet!–but after a few moments, he latched on like a pro and ate for a good half-hour or more.

During that time, the afterbirth took place. The midwife assistant told me that she had a) never had a baby come out all at once like that (usually, it’s head, shoulders, then body, but he just shot right out–my husband says, “Think ‘muzzle velocity'”), and b) never seen such an immediate afterbirth. She thinks that the cord being wrapped around him (probably from him turning to exit the birth canal so quickly) detached the placenta and brought it right out with him. I didn’t really even have to push again, which was nice. I had her show me the placenta, because I didn’t get to see it when Pie was born, and I was curious. Yeah, it was gross, but it was cool, too! But I’m a geek when it comes to biology. πŸ™‚

They cut the cord but didn’t bother to trim it while Beanie was eating. It kept getting tangled in my IV tubes. I didn’t care so much, though: My baby was healthy, near as I could tell, and eating like a champ. The stitching took much longer than the first time, because I hadn’t had much time to let things stretch before pushing a baby out. The tear was still minor, but a little more complicated to fix up–and there are just some places lidocaine will not work. I had my sense of humor back (my “defense mechanism” I’d called it earlier during the uncomfortable cervix checks), and was kind of humming to myself and singing about the pain, and biting down on my thumbnail, like I did when the guy tried to put an IV in my hand so many hours before. The adrenaline shakes came on then, too, and the midwife’s assistant was awesome about her careful stitching while I was trembling. I tried to relax and keep from shaking too much, but, hey, I was tired.

Only physically tired, though–my mind was on full power. The endorphines kicked in, and I was cheerful, talkative, and starving. The kitchen usually packed a snack for late-night laborers–kind of a bag lunch kind of thing–but the nurse produced a TV dinner (mac ‘n’ cheese, too! My favorite!), with juice and salad (and possibly dessert, but I don’t exactly recall). I ate as much as I could while juggling a nursing infant and leaning back in the bed. I think I cleared that table in half an hour. πŸ™‚

My husband stayed by my right shoulder the whole time. I’m not sure if he felt more helpless this time around, or if he was relieved not to have to do too much. I feel a little bad that I’d forgotten much of his presence during and immediately after the birth, because I was so focused on Beanie. I’m not sure where he went when things died down and Beanie was nursing, but he might have sat on the couch to take a nap or use his computer. Beanie kept right on eating–he probably ate for about an hour, maybe. My sense of time after he was finally born was pretty skewed. He didn’t get his first bath or measurements until after midnight.

When I was done nursing him, the nurse came to detach the IV and see how we were doing. I told her I needed to use the bathroom (not something I was looking forward to, but when nature calls . . . ), so she took Beanie and . . . did something with him. That might have been when they did his vitals, or she swaddled him and laid him in the bassinet . . . I don’t remember. Maybe she gave him to my husband, who wasn’t asleep at that point? What I do remember is getting out of the bed and doubling over, because it felt like I’d been punched in the gut. I surmised later that the combination of heaving while contracting did a number on my already-strained gut muscles, and then gravity having its way with my innards after they’d been squashed up into my upper half did the rest of the work. If I held my abdomen up with my hands, the pain wasn’t as bad. I was short of breath for several hours, though, and it took a couple days for that pain to go away.

The bathroom thing was not too bad. I didn’t need much help, because I’d done it before, but she set it all up for me. It didn’t hurt as bad as the first time after having Pie, either. All the ingredients to the “underwear sandwich” that is such a wonderful, soothing blessing after giving birth were not available, but there were enough to make myself comfortable for a while. Despite having more stitches after this birth, I found that I was more comfortable without the ice packs the second day. I still used as much medication as possible, but I reserved the ice pack for when I really needed it.

They may have been in the process of weighing and measuring Beanie when I got out of the bathroom. I remember the nurse having me sit in the chair and hold him for a while, because it was a little more comfortable than getting back up in the bed. Sometime during this time my husband took a nap on the couch. I think there was a gap of time between when I sat down and when Beanie got his first bath, of like an hour or so. He wasn’t real thrilled with the bath–but what babies are?–but he liked the heat lamp just fine. They laid him on the changing table, under the heat lamp, and he just laid there, blinking and making tiny sounds. I dozed a bit in the chair, then got up to go see him and take some pictures (one of which you see in Part 1 of this story).

Around 3am, or so, the nurse helped me get into bed and feed him while laying on my side. I was never good at that with Pie, but Bean took to it right away. I had Sweetie help me move him once so I could turn over (I think) and feed him from the other side.

I didn’t sleep very long that morning. I was wide awake by 5:30, starving and bored. I put Beanie in his bassinet, went to the bathroom again, and decided to change out of the hospital gown. I’m SO glad I brought black stretch pants and a nursing tank with me to the hospital! I felt like a whole new person when I had normal clothes on. After having Pie, I didn’t change out of the hospital gown till the last day, and I felt icky, self-conscious, and at loose ends the whole time. This time, just donning some comfy clothes made me feel like a human being again. I think I even washed my face and brushed my teeth (I hadn’t brushed the whole night, so I really needed it) and got my hair back into ponytails.

I wandered about the room, taking pictures and watching the clock, hoping breakfast would come soon. I probably could have taken Beanie for a walk in his bassinet, but I wanted him to sleep. I raided my snack supply that I’d brought with me, but I wasn’t really in the mood for mixed nuts, and drank one of the cans of juice left over from the night before. It seemed like an excruciatingly long time before the breakfast tray finally arrived.

Our hospital stay was much better this time. Beanie slept a lot, barely cried, and ate like it was going out of style (Pie didn’t eat well until several days after he was born, and then only with help from some nursing shields). The nursing staff were more prompt when I hit the call button, and my room was well-supplied. It helped that they weren’t slammed like the second day after Pie was born.

I will say, something I didn’t anticipate was how much more painful the cramping would be after the second child. The midwife mentioned it the morning I came in, but I hadn’t expected it would feel quite as bad as birth contractions! They gave me Motrin (they cleared me for Percocet, but I never asked for it), and I tried to breathe through them, but, dang, they HURT! At one point, I began to feel nauseous and wasn’t sure I’d make it to the bathroom to throw up (no matter how good you might feel, you just don’t move very quickly after having a baby), so I hit the call button and had the nurse (a guy this time) find me a barf bag. I’d intended to hand the baby to him and run for the toilet, but the nausea subsided before he got there.

I had some visitors: My mom and Pie came that morning (Beanie didn’t poop till Mom held him–I guess she has the magic touch!), then later that afternoon my brother and newest sister-in-law showed up. My dad had visited the day before, I think. He’d been hoping Beanie had arrived by then, but was just too early.

Sweetie went off to do . . . stuff–get food, take a shower and shave, go to the store, etc. I wasn’t as dependent on him this time around, so he was free to do whatever it was he needed. Day two at the hospital wasn’t that exciting. πŸ™‚

This post has gotten pretty long, so I’ll wrap it up now and do the last of the posting in this series later. The day we left the hospital is worth a post all its own . . .

Posted in Mommyhood, Pregnancy

He’s Here! Part 2

(Part 1)

Just as an FYI, I tend to forego my mental filter when telling my birth stories, so be prepared for the occasional graphic account. I don’t go all out, but if you’re at all squeamish, you should know in advance. πŸ™‚

So, Cytotec.

The first quarter-pill went in just fine, and I had to lay down for an hour so it would stay put and take effect. I think I tried to watch a movie or TV on DVD–I can’t remember anymore. I had two pieces of Cytotec over the course of a few hours, and I know I watched a movie during one and tried to nap during the other. It may have dropped my blood pressure, too, because the machine didn’t care for the readings it got. I had to be hooked up to the machine, which went off every ten minutes, or so. Not really conducive to napping, but I got a little snoozing in so I wouldn’t be too exhausted later.

Between Cytotec administrations, I sat on the yoga ball and talked to my husband, played the newest Professor Layton game, which my husband bought me the day before (he’s awesome!), and watched TV. Unfortunately, the remotes for the new flat-screen LCDs in the birthing rooms disappear completely, so we had no way of working the DVDs if we wanted to switch between episodes, or watch extra content. Sweetie ended up buying a small universal remote (the next day, I think), but it still didn’t let us switch episodes. We could at least change the channels without getting up; that was something.

At one point, I tried to sit on the ball and it rolled out from under me. I caught myself before I hit the floor, but I used the hand with the IV in it to hold the ball and bear my weight while I regained my balance. OW. I thought I’d injured my vein, or something, but I had a nurse take a look at it later and she said it was fine. It hurt the whole time after that, though.

Sometime in the afternoon, my husband went off to do something . . . get lunch, maybe? . . . and food service brought me a meal. A BIG meal. Whoah! I was surprised that they were going to let me eat at all. I don’t know why; it just didn’t occur to me that a full meal was authorized before going into labor at any time. The midwife’s assistant said it was perfectly fine. If you have to throw up later–and you will–you might as well have something to throw up, right? I don’t quite agree with that logic, because I hate to throw up, especially after eating. Yuck. But it would be good to have the fuel for the work I would have to do later, so I ate: Ribs, a roll, corn, salad, and dessert of some kind–cookies, I think. Pretty tasty for hospital food!

Hours passed, my cervix dilated, like, half a centimeter, or something, I got more Cytotec, killed time . . . I wasn’t having very regular contractions, but they were feeling different, and more frequent than earlier that morning. The midwife’s assistant, who spent more time with me during the day, told me to try nipple stimulation: Stimulate till you feel a contraction start up, stop, then start again when the contraction goes away. I could get some decent contractions out of that, but nothing with any conviction.

There was a change of staff in the afternoon or evening, too. I was glad, because the tentative nursing student wasn’t going to be helping anymore. It wasn’t that he was a bad guy, I just didn’t want that hesitant a person around me when I was going to need firm direction.

With the last cervix check came an epic membrane sweep (separating the bag of waters from the lining of the uterus–actually sounds worse than it is, though it is NOT a comfortable procedure) and a change of tactics. It was about 7:30-ish, I think. I agreed with the midwife and assistant that it was time to introduce the Pitocin. I really didn’t want to be tricking myself into labor all night. It was time for the big guns.

The nurse came in with the Pitocin drip around 9pm. She tried to hook it up to my heplock, but the darn thing just wouldn’t take. She brought in another machine, but it wouldn’t work, either. The IV was going to have to be replaced. Fortunately, she knew exactly what she was doing, had a very sure hand, and I did not skip the lidocaine. The IV went into my other hand at a weird angle, which was the only way it would work, so she taped it down like crazy so it wouldn’t go anywhere and managed to get the drip started by 9:30.

Minutes later (literally!), Real Contractions began . . .

Part 3 later. I dislike typing one-handed. πŸ˜›

Posted in Mommyhood, Pregnancy

He’s Here! Part 1

Baby Boy #2, currently nicknamed “Bean” or “Beanie”, made his appearance on October 14th, 2010, at 11:08pm. He was 7 lb 6 oz, and 20 in long.

2 hrs old

I’ve been wanting to write this post for weeks, but it’s hard to put my precious bundle down for anything other than caring for my two-year-old or taking a nap. Or maybe a shower. They’re both few and far between these days. πŸ™‚ I have gotten better about putting him down when he sleeps, though, so I can actually get stuff done. Currently, Beanie is taking a morning nap and Pie is distracted by Elmo in Grouchland on Netflix Streaming. I’ll probably get halfway into this post before Beanie wakes up again. Thus, “Part 1”.

MORNING, OCT 14 2010

We left Pie with my parents the night before, so all we had to do that morning was throw stuff in the car and head to the hospital to begin . . . duh-duh-DUUUUH! . . . Induction.

I slept moderately well, but I did wake up once or twice to pray that labor would start up on its own during the night, or that the induction would go smoothly and I wouldn’t have to get a C-section in the end, that the midwife would be helpful and fight for my choices, that the nursing staff would be awesome, that the baby would have no health difficulties, etc. I wanted another good birthing experience, but now that variables were being thrown into the mix, I was nervous.

Fortunately–aside from being at the hospital for many hours before anything even happened, mainly because I didn’t want Pitocin right away–I don’t think the experience could have gone more smoothly. πŸ™‚

We checked in a minute or two after 8am. I donned an oh-so-dignified butt-(and-chest-)revealing delivery/nursing gown, got hooked up to the contraction and fetal heart monitors, and then the staff parade began. With the nurse who would be helping me came her nursing student. With the midwife came the midwife’s student and–I think–a student of the student, unless he was another nursing student . . . Navy Hospital is a teaching hospital, so not only are you a patient, you’re also a guinea pig! This isn’t always a bad thing, but it does mean there can be a lot of wasted time and no real long-term connection with staff or doctors (LOTS of turn-around as students graduate and people get transferred). It can also mean the occasional mistakes or less-than-efficient procedures.

For instance, just getting the heplock for the IV inserted took a painfully long time–emphasis on “painfully”. Though I can be hooked up to a blood donation bag, fill it, and walk out in about ten minutes, I apparently have a poor vein structure for getting stuff INto my blood. Didn’t help that my hands were cold, too. The nurse’s student, unfortunately, was too tentative and inexperienced to get it right on the first try. Or the second. Or the third. And I had decided to skip the lidocaine, thinking that it would just hurt worse than the IV insertion, anyway. I was a big girl; I could handle it!

Here’s a tip: If you have a nervous nursing student putting an IV in your hand, DON’T SKIP THE LIDOCAINE. In fact, if they have a hard time just finding a vein to insert the IV into, don’t skip the lidocaine. They may have to stick you more than once, and the less you feel, the better! Just take my word for it. It probably would have been more comfortable to get an epidural at that point . . .

I focused on listening to the baby’s heartbeat, or the midwives talking to me. I’m not afraid of needles, it just hurt like the dickens. The poor guy was just so intent on not hurting me that it hurt more the longer he took. Finally, another, more experienced nurse walked in and found a vein in my other hand, but had to insert a smaller gauge just to get it in right. This will return to haunt me later.

I was required to sit on the monitors for at least 20 minutes before I could get up and do . . . whatever. The midwives checked me–dilation to about 3cm, about 50-75% effaced (I think)–and then discussed options. I told them I wanted to leave Pitocin as a last resort. I’d heard stories of gals on a Pitocin drip for most of the day, never progressing until they had to up the dosage hours later. I’d heard other stories of labor stopping or becoming too intense, and the birth ending in an unwanted C-section . . . I wanted to avoid that, if possible. If my body could get labor going on its own, I’d rather work with that.

So, first option: Cytotec. It comes in a pill, which the midwives break into four pieces and insert a quarter of it into you to ripen the cervix and hopefully get things moving naturally after that. It at least gets you to a point where you can start using Pitocin, if nothing else. I’d heard something bad about that, too, but at the time I couldn’t remember what it was. The midwife seemed confident that it was safe and effective, so I just prayed she was right and nothing bad would happen. They ordered it, the pharmacy took their time getting it, and more time passed . . .

Beanie just woke up. Part 2 later!