Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dr. Lwin, or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned To Love the Epidural

Us, minutes after delivery.

It's been two weeks, and I'm finally getting around to writing about the process that brought Miss Monkey from the cozy confines of my womb into the cold and cruel world. For a few days, I'd been having a ton of Braxton Hicks contractions, and some even kind of hurt. The night before I really went into labor, I thought that I was starting labor after a couple of strong BH contractions, which in retrospect is kind of hilarious; BH contractions are like little love tickles from a butterfly compared to real contractions. Anyway, my real labor started at about 1:30 am, which was unfortunate because I'd only gotten an hour or two of sleep, so I was starting out tired. I tried to rest and relax during the early stages, but the contractions came pretty fast almost right away, and they were 6 minutes apart by 6:30 am. When they're 5 minutes apart, you're in active labor, and the hospital doesn't want to see you until then, but that looked imminent, so I took a quick shower, and Alex started to pack up the car.*

Apparently my uterus kind of sucks, though, because when I got out of the shower, the contractions basically stopped. I only had 5 contractions or so in the next couple of hours, but rather than going to sleep, I was keyed up and waiting anxiously for the next one. At 9 or 10 am, they started up again and kept going for hours and hours, never really getting much closer together than seven minutes apart. At 7 pm (for you non-math majors, that's EIGHTEEN HOURS OF LABOR LATER), I was on the living room floor sobbing because I was so exhausted and in so much pain and so frustrated because they were STILL 7 minutes apart, which again for you non-math majors is two whole minutes away from the goal, which is a very, very long time in contraction land.

So you don't think I'm a total wuss, I will tell you that the first twelve or so hours were fine. Not fine in the sense of, "I'm going to whip up a quick quiche between contractions for when we get home because I feel dandy" fine, but more like, "Okay, I'm in agony, but these only last for a minute and a half and I can do my breathing exercises and shift positions and make weird scary noises that make Alex think I'm dying but make me feel a lot better" fine. So it was tolerable, for the first TWELVE hours. Then, I started to ask Alex pretty much every time how much closer they were getting, and sadly, they weren't getting closer at all. They were even up to 8 or 9 minutes apart at times, after say, FIFTEEN HOURS, and that's when I started to lose it.

So, like I said, at about 7 pm, Alex finally called the hospital for I think the third time. I don't really remember the conversation, but I'm pretty sure he threatened whoever was on the phone with bodily harm, so they finally said to come in and check out why I still wasn't closer. They said that the worst that would happen would be that I would get sent home, which is funny, because I was NOT going to leave, even if it meant administering a C-section on myself the second I got into a relatively sterile environment.

Fortunately, the minute we got to the hospital, I had 3 contractions within 10 minutes. They checked me, and discovered that I was actually well on my way, and had been in "active labor" for a while (what they were really looking for when they said they were looking for 5 min apart). I chose to get an epidural after all because I was so spent after 18 hours of labor on 2 hours of sleep, and really, at that point, it was an easy decision. I was a little bummed not to have been able to do it naturally, but at that point, I was just wiped out. I'm so glad I decided on the epidural, because I had 8 more hours of labor to go. Fortunately, after the epidural, the rest of labor involved lying resting in the darkened room while Alex slept and I felt occasional pressure. Then at 3 am, I buzzed the nurse and told her I was feeling a lot of pressure and the urge to push, and she said, yup, you're ready!

At that point, they let the epidural fade a bit so that I could feel enough to push, and wow, that anesthesiologist was a genius. I was at the perfect level, where the contractions hurt, and I could really feel what was going on and felt in control of my legs and lower body, but not so much that the pain was so intense to be a huge distraction. I stunk at being in labor, with contractions that came and went the entire time, but boy, did I rock the pushing. The nurse actually told me not to push quite so hard so that the doctor would have time to come and deliver the baby. After about 15 minutes of easier pushing, my OB showed up and I went to town. Normally on TV and such you see the doctors and nurses telling the women to push, and keep going, and encouraging them... I was the one telling my doctor and nurse that HEY! I'm ready to push again! Let's get with the program, here, people, because I am getting this baby out NOW!

After about 30 minutes of serious pushing, out she came. I have never felt a more primal urge to do anything in my entire life. I was screaming and hollering like the Scots in the battle scene of Braveheart, and I have absolutely never worked harder at anything in my life. It hurt like hell, of course, but in a lot of ways was easier than labor. At least with the pushing, I was in control, and I felt like I was making progress and actually doing something.

Looking back, getting the epidural was the best decision I could have made, because I think if I hadn't had the 8 hours of rest to regroup and refocus my energy, I'm sure I would have gone into the delivery portion completely exhausted and it would have taken me three hours to push her out. As it was, I had a second wind, I knew the end was near, and I was able to put every last bit of energy I had into delivery and got her out very quickly. There were definite drawbacks to the epidural, though. I was confined to bed, and my blood pressure dropped very quickly which required medication. As I mentioned, my contractions also stopped and started, and I have to wonder if being up and moving around would have kept them coming, and would have allowed me to avoid Pitocin. Really, though, I would absolutely do the same thing again.

Anyway, out she came, which was quite the interesting sensation. Imagine: that area where you usually just pee? Whoops, a human just came out of there! She was pink and screamy, which was perfect, and they put her warm, slippery, perfect little self on my chest immediately. Alex was adorable, and was overjoyed and we were both just a big fat wad of cliches, which I can't seem to avoid while writing about this. About two minutes after delivery, while I was holding her on my chest and just enjoying how wonderful it all was, I turned to Alex, and said, "That wasn't so bad." And I guess that really sums it all up. I was in labor for 27 hours, completely exhausted, and had just gone through by far the most difficult and painful thing I'd ever experienced, and truly and honestly, when I had my perfect and healthy daughter in my arms, it really just wasn't so bad.

*And yes, I do mean "pack up the car," rather than "throw the one suitcase in and go". You wouldn't believe the amount of crap I brought. I had read all sorts of things saying you should bring slippers, and CDs and movies, and clothes for the hospital stay, and snacks and an exercise ball and on and on. Guess what? When you're in labor, you're in agony! You won't want your monkey-scratching CDs, I guarantee! And then, when you have the baby? You have a baby, and you won't even have the capacity to care about anything else. The best part was that I brought makeup. HA! I thought I was going to put on some mascara before people started taking pictures... Ah, I was so young and foolish then. I am glad I brought our own pillows, though. And the snacks. Definitely the snacks.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Progress!


Somebody call the newspaper, because Sweet Baby Jesus, I think we may have finally turned a corner. I got up and out of bed before noon today, put in my contacts for the second day in a row, and I'm wearing jeans and a real shirt instead of groggily wandering around the apartment in my pajamas with the top all the way unbuttoned. It's also been well over 24 hours since my last crying jag. Woot! I know, right? I'm waiting for the sucker punch later on tonight at 3 am, and I know I shouldn't even be writing this because it's tempting fate, but whatever! I've been feeling good all day, and I'm not hiding it anymore! Oh, and if that wasn't mind-blowing enough for you, Alex and I left the little monkey with the grandparents for a couple of hours, ate lunch OUT, and went to a store! Full disclosure: I didn't really enjoy my lunch because I had been away from Evelyn for a full 20 minutes by that point, and we were at least a mile and a half away from the apartment, and even though we all had our cell phones just in case, my stomach was in knots the whole time. But I was OUT.

Evelyn is now 11 days old (go double digits!) and her umbilical cord has fallen off. She's getting noticeably chubbier, especially around the chin, and is spending longer and longer awake and alert and looking around. She had at least two periods of being awake and alert for an hour and a half or more today, and is definitely focusing more with her big blue eyes.

Someday, I imagine that I'll have the time and energy to write something funny again. Maybe I'll try a little right now... This morning, as I was changing the monkey's wet diaper, she sprayed poop all over my hand. Is that funny? Yes? Adorable infant pooping on unsuspecting adult? Maybe we need a video. Oh, you know what else is funny? She was up and periodically screaming from between 4 and 6 am! Ha ha ha! Hilarious. I'm sure I'll have many other stories like that to tell y'all soon. For now, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sometimes...


Sometimes, when the baby has regurgitated pretty much all of what she just nursed for the second time in a row, you just start crying. Sometimes, when you read in your baby care book that the sleep deprivation will really start getting to you after three months and it's only been a week and you're desperate to sleep for more than two and half hours at a time, you just start crying. Sometimes, in the late afternoon or early evening when you are normally winding down, and you know there's just more of the same cycle of feeding, changing the constantly wet diapers, and trying to sleep for a couple of hours, you just start crying. Sometimes, when your tiny helpless infant is obviously uncomfortable and you just don't know what to do to help her, you just start crying.

And then, sometimes, when your husband is holding the baby, and her head smells so sweet, and she's quietly looking around with her big blue eyes and you're able to take a deep breath, it's all okay again.

We love you, Evelyn. You're worth it.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Adventures in Poopland


Those of you who have had babies knew this was coming, and we knew it was coming, and yet, it took me a little by surprise: Evelyn's first projectile poop.

I was feeding the little darling, and about halfway through, it began. Since I was pretty sure that she wasn't smuggling a nearly empty ketchup bottle in her diaper, that PLLLSSSBTHH I heard meant a freshly dirty diaper. No problem, we finished, I got her up onto the changing table, and began wiping her down. Multiple wipes later (the kiddo has been eating really well), I was ready to put her diaper on, when PSSSBTH, out came a little more magical baby juice. Ok, no problem, another wipe took care of that. Ready for the diaper again. (Some of you exceptionally clever ones may see where this is going... I didn't.) PBBTHSK. Okay, I got it, we're just going to have to wait it out. I wrapped her loosely in her changing cloth, and brought her out into the living room to laugh over how very poopy she was with my parents. They didn't really think it was that funny until PPPPSSSSSKKKKBBBBTHHHHHHHLLLLLLSSSHHHHHH, darling Evelyn doused me from waist to lap with her magical baby juice.

I'm pretty sure those are the moments that everyone says to treasure forever, because they're just gone so quickly...

At that point, it was on. I thought that little Miss Evelyn was no match for Mama's biggest guns: the bath. My mom and I stripped her down, I changed, got a bath ready, and cleaned that poopy baby off. She squawked and screamed like we were torturing her, because OBVIOUSLY, MOMMY, I want to stew in my own poo! We washed that little girl all over, and just as I was toweling her off... any guesses, folks? Yep, you got it.

At least we know she's getting plenty to eat.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

And now we present to you...

The Little Ninja Monkey

video

Evelyn Summer was born at 3:46am on Tuesday, September 15th. She weighed in at 7 pounds 14 ounces, and 20 inches long. And she has big feet. We knew that she was kicking Elena's ribs with something substantial, and now we have a more complete understanding of the bludgeons Evelyn employed.

We're getting to know her better with every moment that passes, but we already know what a blessing she is to our new family. Anyway, I'm sure that Elena will post lots of good stuff about her recent "experiences", shall we say, and of course our terrific new baby girl. Right now, though, she's a little tired and busy watching our little bundle sleep.

-Alex (aka Daddy)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Say no to plumping!


My mom and I were watching TV earlier, and she saw a Foster Farms chicken "No Plumping" commercial with the grotesquely swollen chicken sitting up on a doctor's examination table, and immediately said, "Hey, there's Elena!"

...Thanks, Mom.

I can't blame her, though. If I had a picture of myself on the doctor's exam table, I'm sure it would be an undeniably strong resemblance. The doctor is starting to think about a timetable for inducement as I keep on creeping past the due date. I have an appointment to be monitored on Sunday, to make sure that being overdue isn't stressing Baby out. I have another appointment on Wednesday to check on things, and I am guessing from her attitude today, if things aren't ready on their own on Wednesday, she's going to induce me. She said that my amniotic fluid was "merely adequate" and that it was getting pretty crowded in there for Baby. She stripped my membranes today, so hopefully that'll get me going this weekend. In the meantime... I still totally look like a plumped chicken.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Keep on rubbing it in, why doncha?

I've been getting weekly emails from my hospital telling me what fascinating side effects I can expect as my pregnancy moves forward (e.g., Week 23: You look like a manatee! Put down the Ben & Jerry's, or, Week 31: Your baby is now developing eyelashes and that part of the brain that will make her a horrible adolescent who will inevitably listen to something you won't even recognize as music!). They've been less than helpful for the past few weeks, because my baby is still INSIDE OF ME, you jerks. So yeah, tips on getting enough rest after giving birth, and how much milk/formula my baby needs is really not all that interesting to me now. How about some tips on overly strenuous exercises that might induce labor? Or how to perform your own C-section at home with vodka and a kitchen knife? That's the kind of advice I could use.

I'm really trying hard to be patient and wait for the li'l darling to come out when she's ready, but it ain't easy. Since she's obviously brilliant already, I'm guessing she's hanging on until tomorrow, because how cool would it be to be born on 9.9.09? I hear September 8th is a pretty awesome day, too. We've got a few hours... Go, Baby, go!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

40 Weeks


40 weeks pregnant! Pretty huge. This baby is ready to come out at any moment; she's dropped, I'm dilated, and she's DUE! When we're in the car, going over bumps knocks her little noggin against my pelvic bone. It's an... interesting sensation.

Alex has also gained a bit of sympathy weight.



He's just glowing, isn't he?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

US Open!


Well, it's the first week of September, and that special time is finally upon us: the US Open started! I've been keeping track of my pregnancy in terms of the tennis season since the Australian Open, which besides being the first major of the year, was just about when I figured out that I was pregnant. Then came the long break between majors, then the clay court season, then Wimbledon, and here we are at the end of the season and the end of my pregnancy. Well timed, USTA!

Okay, I know I'm not normal at all, and most pregnant women due at about the same time weren't thinking, "It's August, and the hard court season is starting to wind down. I hope that baby is getting ready!" Well, I did, and Baby, I'm sorry, but your Mommy is kind of crazy, and I hope that you're going to be okay with that. The sooner you realize this, the better things are going to be; Mommy REALLY likes sports. In fact, the only reason that I'm not going completely stir crazy while sitting around waiting for this baby to decide to come out is because ESPN2 is showing the early rounds of the Open for TEN hours per day. Which is just about perfect, if you ask me and my busted foot.

And now, because you asked so nicely, here are some of my thoughts so far:

  • If Roger Federer wins... Yikes. I'm really not sure if I'd be inspired, and think, "If the man can win a Major with newborn twins, I can do anything with just ONE newborn," or something more along the lines of, "Being able to measure your wealth in nine figures probably makes raising infant twins a little easier," and then be forced to resent him forever. Also, he and I were born 2 weeks apart, are just having our first kids at the same time, and both really like tennis. I really think he and his wife should come over for dinner. It'd be good. We'd get along really well. And then he could sit on our couch, and when he leaves, there would be like $400,000 stuck in the cushions, I'm pretty sure.
  • Go Kim Clijsters! I think she's one of the few (only?) highly ranked women on the tour who's given birth.
  • WTF is wrong with women's tennis? Honestly, it's been sort of exciting, but only because NONE of the ranked women can hold it together for an entire match. And don't get me started on choke artist Dinara Safina being ranked #1.
  • And finally, Venus? I think it's cool that you're designing your own line of clothing, but there's one wee little problem... It looks like you're designing your own line. Ugh. Cut it out. Eyeballs all over America will thank you. (And why doesn't anyone wear a white bodysuit anymore? Come ON!)