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!

Posted in Mommyhood, Pregnancy

The Date Approacheth . . .

No baby today. Some uterine discomfort, but that’s about it. I feel too heavy for my legs.

If Baby doesn’t come tomorrow, then I will be calling in to Labor & Delivery around 6:30 or 7am on Thursday, with the intention of arriving (if there’s room for me) around 8am to begin . . . duh-duh-DUUUHH! . . . Induction.

I was righteously opposed to induction at the beginning of this pregnancy. I prefer natural labor–onset and duration–and I’ve heard Pitocin can make even the strongest proponent of natural childbirth cry for drugs. Also, I didn’t believe there could be any reason induction a week prior to the due date would make sense.

Well, it was explained to me that it was best for a baby with a two-vessel cord to come out a little early, while he still had room for his cord. Much later, and the risk of starvation/asphyxiation could increase, since there’s only one artery providing blood and oxygen. Okay, I could live with that explanation. I still wanted to go full-term, but this also works out with the time Sweetie can get off of work. I feel a little twinge of guilt for letting inconvenience be a factor in when he’s born, but there you go.

Anyway, I asked the nurse at my non-stress test today whether the midwife who will be on duty Thursday was at the hospital today. I wanted to meet her beforehand (never seen her before, I don’t think). She wasn’t, but the nurse assured me she is awesome, and I’m going to love her. She is also willing to work on “other” means of induction, leaving Pitocin as a last resort. I was relieved to hear that! I like her, already. πŸ™‚

I got a little time today to visit a couple stores, pick up some bobbins for my sewing machine, a couple crafting tools, some fleece from Goodwill. Totally exhausted when I was done! My legs are so tired of carrying around an extra person and about 20 lbs of water, blood, and fat. I got pretty lucky today, though: I found a pair of BRAND NEW leather-soled baby shoes for $3 at Goodwill! They’re ADORABLE. I can certainly wait till the baby’s big enough to wear them, but I was so thrilled to find them!

Going back to my non-stress test: I had one last ultrasound today (I think–I don’t know if they’ll do another before induction) and the nurse tried hard to get a good view of his face. We haven’t been able to do so yet. In the first anatomical ultrasound, at 22 weeks, he had his arm in front of his face and refused to move enough to get a good view. Since then, his head has been so low and he’s been so obsessed with his hands that any attempt to get a good frontal view of his face has been impossible. We’ve gotten some good profile shots, but nothing clear, front-on.

Today was really funny, though. The nurse turned the monitor to me just as he was playing with his tongue and chewing on his fingers. The mixture of X-ray vision and slight 3-D capability of the ultrasound machine made it look pretty creepy, to be honest, but it was funny to watch him actually act like a baby while still stuffed inside me. I didn’t get much view of Pie in utero, since he didn’t have to be monitored like Baby #2. This was a rare treat.

I’m looking forward to meeting the little man. I’m hoping labor is as easy this time around as it was for Pie, too, despite induction. But hopefully he’ll come tomorrow, and we can dodge that bullet.

In the meantime, I should probably pack Pie’s bag for Grandma and Grandpa’s, since we’ll be leaving him with them tomorrow night . . . Man, I can’t believe it’s almost THAT TIME. πŸ™‚

Posted in Insomnia, Mommyhood, Pregnancy

SPEAKING of INsomnia . . .

So, it’s 5am. I’ve been awake since about 3:30am. FOR NO REASON.

I’d love to say that I’ve been awake because I’ve been feeling labor pains, and they’re getting worse, meaning Baby will make his appearance today. However, that’s not true. I’m just AWAKE. πŸ˜›

It’s possible when we got coffee last night that mine was not actually decaf, like I’d ordered. I trust my husband said decaf (he ordered for me while I went to change our son’s diaper), and maybe the barista messed up. However, I could also just be sensitive to the little bit of caffeine in the decaf coffee. That latte was awesome, though . . . (Pumpkin Creme Latte from Seattle’s Best in Borders Books.) Alternately, I’m just awake, ’cause pregnancy’s like that.

I was also a bit hungry, and some other discomforts of pregnancy were nagging at me, so I decided to just get up and take care of the issues instead of playing Solitaire on my DS in bed. Unfortunately, the yogurt I ate has given me more heartburn. *Sigh* I can’t escape it.

At any rate, I was going to write the other day about some of the hilarious things my son is doing these days. I find I suddenly have the time . . .

WHY WE PROBABLY WON’T WIN “PARENTS OF THE YEAR” ANYTIME SOON:

My two-year-old–who, for the sake of this blog, shall be named (at least for the moment) “Pie”*–has a few favorite movies and television shows (on DVD or NetFlix streaming; we don’t have cable). We’re a little lax in the electronic distraction department, so he gets to watch these favorites quite often.

[*”Pie” is short for “Sweet[ie] Pie” or “Cutie Pie”. I just started calling him “Pie” one day, and it stuck. Who knows what kind of ridiculous nickname our second son will have. Give me time . . . ]

Here is a little lexicon that we’ve finally developed so we can communicate what he wants to see:

Sussues = Blues Clues
Bob de Boer = Bob the Builder
Pippard = Clifford
Diet = The Iron Giant
Froggies = The Princess and the Frog
Sheep = Shaun the Sheep
Dyosaur Tain = Dinosaur Train
Elmo = Elmo in Grouchland
Nemo = Finding Nemo
Monsters = Monsters vs. Aliens
Cars = Cars
Up = Up

He can sing almost all the regular songs from Blues Clues (not fluently–mostly just the last couple words in each line–but with enthusiasm!) and some from Elmo. He can say “Can we fix it? Yes we can! Yeah, I think so . . . ” from Bob the Builder. That, for a little while, was the extent of his memorization. Lately, however, I’ve been noticing that he’s been repeating a few more lines from a couple movies he’s seen twenty times or more (DON’T JUDGE ME!), and now he’s acting out a couple scenes from Iron Giant.

Now, this doesn’t worry me, beyond “Oh, now we need to start paying actual attention to what he watches.” It’s really funny to watch! What I should do is get some video or screenshots for reference, but you’re just going to have to bear with me here . . .

I first noticed him acting out a scene when Hogarth (the main boy character in The Iron Giant) first meets the giant. Hogarth sits on the ground, and the giant imitates him. I watched Pie sit down the same way while he was watching that scene. Pie also brought a toy car up to me one day and tried to feed it to me. When I refused to take a bite, he gently bit down on the front of it while watching the movie. This is the boy who barely eats anything more solid than oatmeal and bananas, and rarely, if ever, stuck anything non-food in his mouth that wasn’t a spoon. I knew immediately that he was pretending to be the giant eating a car–’cause iron giants eat metal, dontchaknow.

Later, I noticed Pie walking around with his shirt all bunched under his chin and his hands in the air. I had no clue what he was doing–he’s a two-year-old with a fertile imagination. Yesterday, Sweetie (my husband) and I were watching him watch Iron Giant, and he pulled up his shirt and put his hands in the air when the giant transformed into a big weapon and started shooting things (this is where the “No ‘Parents of the Year’ Award” comes in, ’cause some people don’t condone this kind of play). He wandered around the living room like that, checking the movie every once in a while to make sure he was still in sync with it. Then, when Hogarth intervened, Pie said “Hogarth” when the giant said “Hogarth”, and put his shirt down when the giant transformed back into his “peaceful” gianty form. A few more minutes into it, just as the giant is about to [***SPOILER ALERT!!!***] sacrifice himself for the good of the people, Pie crouches on the floor, just like the giant does, and repeats the line word for word, along with the relevant gestures: “Hogarth. I go. You stay. No following!”

Sweetie and I were about to EXPLODE, it was so cute and hilarious! But we didn’t want to laugh out loud, in case we ruined the show. πŸ™‚

Well, yesterday, Pie wanted to watch Cars again, after a long hiatus (it needed a rest). I noticed he was repeating lines from that, too. Doesn’t surprise me that much, since he really has seen that movie more than twenty times. Possibly more than [*ahem*] thirty times.

I know there are parents and experts out there who would condemn this as a real parenting no-no. To a certain extent, I agree that we probably let him watch too much during the day, which MIGHT contribute to some inattention and (lately) late-ish nights and early wakings. However, often the TV is just ON, and he’s playing and doing other stuff without actually paying any attention (well, much attention, anyway). Also, some would condemn the violence in Iron Giant, and tell us we shouldn’t let him watch that kind of thing when he’s so young. It’s become PC to heavily filter even children’s programming. I agree with some reasoning behind that, because I think some children’s programming is a complete waste of time and seriously irritating. But, you know, I practically cut my teeth on Star Wars, Superman II, and an abundance of Looney Toons and action-figure-related children’s programming. My family, growing up, was even more TV-oriented than we are. I think Sweetie’s was, too. Aside from having the gall to want to learn martial arts and how to shoot a gun to defend myself, I’m pretty sure I turned out okay. I knew, either instinctively or through my own brain working out the causes-and-effects, that one should probably not use dynamite as all-purpose pest control and gravity will not take a holiday just because you accidentally ran off the edge of a cliff. Duh.

Similarly, I don’t expect Pie to grow up thinking he can take out the U.S. Army with his robot super powers or actually eat cars for breakfast.

On the flip side, I have seen the effects of too much video game and television violence on a young brain. I do not attribute, however, the behavior issues this child had to the games or movies/TV he was exposed to (which is the popular thing to do). I attribute the issues to a lack of parenting and limits, either due to disciplinary confusion/acting out (results of shared custody and different value systems in each home) or inattention because both parents worked outside the home every day (yet another value system in school or day care). I’ve also seen a child who is absolutely sheltered from everything violent, morally unacceptable to his parents, and even mildly vulgar, who exhibits so little self-control around other children that it’s hard to believe he doesn’t watch violent cartoons all day. Well, what in the world could THAT come from? Too much constriction? [Just FYI: I’m not condemning these parents, though I might not agree with their parenting styles sometimes. These kids are fairly good kids, overall, and I only see them once in a while. The first example has grown out of much of his fixation, and I believe the latter one will soon do so, too. Children are what children are, and it’s not like they’re born with their very own personal manuals. You have to roll with the punches when they’re young. Goodness knows my children will have a few more things up their sleeves for us before they’re old enough to leave the nest.]

What I’m saying is that in today’s day and age, our parenting choices wouldn’t win any awards for awesome, wholesome, modern-day, magazine-cover parenting. But I AM a parent, and my kid’s pretty well-behaved, for the most part (for being two-and-a-half, anyway). I’m there, watching him, and moderating his behavior. My JOB is to parent him. His job is to obey me and test his boundaries. He’s a smart kid; I have no worries.

Although, this early-waking thing is getting old. We need to find a way to nip that in the bud . . . but maybe after his brother is sleeping through the night. Until then, what’s another kid needing your attention at ungodly hours of the morning? πŸ™‚

I love my job. πŸ™‚

Posted in Mommyhood, Pregnancy

Counting the Weeks

I counted the weeks I have left before my due date. They fit on one hand! Four weeks till week 40. I honestly doubt I’ll make it that far; I also doubt they’ll let me get that far. I know they won’t let me go late.

Yesterday, I was wondering if I was going to go into labor this week. Merely turned out to be late-stage pregnancy discomfort en masse: Swollen ankles, gastric issues paired with normal contractions, baby squashing my bladder and various other sensitive nerves, raging heartburn, sinus pressure, headache, and poor sleep. I left church after Bible class to go home, lay down, and drink water for a couple hours. Except for being really tired, which comes with the territory, I feel much better today. Unfortunately, I’ve also eaten pretty badly this afternoon (how come I can’t stay away from the dairy and carbs?), so the heartburn will byvaet (that is, “visit”, in Russian) again soon.

I’m ready for this pregnancy to be over, though I have to say it’s still hard to believe I’ll have a wriggly little newborn outside of me in a few weeks. Weeks! πŸ™‚

I hope and pray he’ll come out fine, with no complications, perfectly cute and healthy and squalling. So far, on the inside, he’s monitoring just fine and growing like a little parasite weed.

He has what’s called a “single-artery cord”, a.k.a. “two-vessel cord”. A normal umbilical cord has three vessels: Two arteries bringing blood and oxygen to the baby, and a vein carrying away the waste. Isn’t the human body amazing? πŸ™‚ Anyway, he only has one artery. Sometimes, it just means that his umbilical has one artery and that’s it. Sometimes, it means minimal to more serious birth defects. I opted out of the quad test at the beginning of my pregnancy, because often that test results in false positives, which can lead to more painful and risky testing, only to show that nothing was wrong in the first place. While it would be nice to know some of those things (like whether he has Downs Syndrome), that’s not something that’s going to affect my pregnancy or my love for him after he’s born.

By the time the 20-week ultrasound rolls around, it’s too late for the quad test, but many defects or symptoms of defects can be found at that time. I don’t know that a two-vessel cord can be detected in a quad test, but some of the defects of which it is a symptom might be discovered. Still not worth it to me, though, to justify the worry caused by false positives and the pain and risk of extraneous, invasive testing to disprove them.

In our case, so far, the two-vessel cord has been nothing more than an anomaly. His heart looks and sounds great, his brain is present, it appears all limbs are present and accounted for. They’re worried about weight restriction (not growing well) and constriction of the cord in the late weeks. So I have to go in for “non-stress tests” twice a week, where I’m strapped to a contraction monitor and a fetal heart monitor, to make sure that the baby’s heartbeat remains strong, even through contractions and movement. It has to naturally accelerate when he moves or when I contract. Deceleration means he’s not getting enough blood or oxygen. Then, once a week (during one of these tests), I get an ultrasound for fluid levels. If my fluid drops, the possibility of the cord becoming constricted goes up. Then, periodically, I get a weight check in the “big” ultrasound department to see if he’s growing at the right pace. The tech told me before that he’s just fine, if a bit short–but it appeared to her it might run in the family (she’s shorter than me, so we both had to laugh at that).

So far, all testing has shown him to be normal and healthy. He will probably be monitored a bit after he comes out to make sure everything works properly apart from the womb. Fortunately, I got them all (that would be the obstetricians, midwives, and Comp[licated] OB nurses) to agree that someone messed up my due date after my first ultrasound, so they aren’t expecting me to be overdue when/if I make it to my real due date of October 21st.

I now say I’m due anytime between the 15th and the 21st, because my original due date, determined by the first date of my last period, was October 15th. The date they adjusted to was the 9th. I told them that was impossible, because my periods are long, not short. The baby measured at 9.5 weeks, and the first day of my last period was January 9th. I can see where the mistake was made. An obscure note was appended to my file to say that it was Oct 21st, but the 9th was written in all the pertinent places. When the Comp OB was talking to me about induction at 39 weeks, he was STILL under the impression that I was due on the 9th, but didn’t really give me a straight answer when I asked him whether he knew it was really the 21st. I had to see the report after that visit to find out they still assumed my due date was the 9th.

Don’t listen to the pregnant woman. Paperwork can’t lie. *eyeroll*

I managed to convince my midwife that the 9th was wrong, and to review my file to find the right date. She did, and now everyone is on the right page. However, because it took so long and all the people who did the original measurements had transferred to new duty stations, they had to go by the 15th, but would allow for the 21st. I was fine with that. At least they weren’t going to assume that the last week of September was the 39th week. If I can avoid induction, I will, but at least I understand the reason for it: As the cord ages, the coating around it can lessen, and as the baby grows, there is less room. The possibility of the cord becoming crimped grows as the baby does, so the original plan was to get him out before he could get too big. Of course, they didn’t tell me that when reviewing the “original plan”; I had to ask my midwife at my next appointment.

I did ask at the Comp OB appointment to see if I could go to full term, and they said it would be okay. The midwife is convinced (as am I) that he will come before the 40th week, anyway. He might make a liar out of both of us, but that’s when I’ll allow talk of induction.

I should probably pack my own go-bag for the hospital sooner, rather than later, and pick up the infant car seat. Last time I gave birth, I’d packed my bag and washed all the baby clothes the day before I went into labor. Talk about a close call! πŸ™‚ I didn’t even know what contractions were supposed to feel like before that day. Now that I do, I’m very aware that I have them more often now, especially when I’m walking around or engaging in much activity. I’m not really a bed-rest case, but I’m not nearly as mobile as I was a few weeks ago.

Aha, there’s the heartburn. Just in time for dinner! Oh well. Comes with the territory. πŸ™‚