Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It Happened

This past Friday, it happened. Everyone said it would. And it isn’t that I didn’t believe them, but it just didn’t seem possible. Everyone’s story had similar threads, but I just couldn’t see how Evan would be able to play the starring role. The role that would cause him to be the hysterical screaming inconsolable baby. But, he did it and he earned an Oscar.

He had been getting progressively fussy all last week. I had absolutely no idea why, but he was still mostly sleeping through the night and when he did get fussy Daddy was still the magic potion. And then Friday came and it was as if he was just rehearsing all week for that moment.

It started around 9:30 PM. Brian had just fallen asleep on the floor (he has been finding it difficult to fall asleep) and Evan started to cry. At first there was nothing alarming about the crying, it seemed pretty normal. I woke up Brian and sent his behind to bed. I figured I would feed Evan, settle him and be off to bed myself soon. Wow, was I wrong.

Almost immediately after Brian went to bed, Evan let out his first blood curdling scream. On Friday, he was 30 days old and I had not yet heard this cry coming from him. His body was acting gassy (legs pulling up, hard abdomen, etc) so I figured it was gas and it would pass. I sat him in my lap (one of his favorite positions and a gas remover position) and he continued to scream. I put him on my shoulder, abdomen hard against the bone, and hit his back to help him release the gas. He continued to scream. I paced back and forth with him throughout the first floor, rocking him as I went. He continued to scream. I put him in his bouncy chair, turned on the vibration and now his screams had a vibrato effect to them. I took him into the guest bedroom and lay down with him on the bed. He continued to scream. Finally, I whipped out my fail-proof weapon, the boob. He didn’t even blink, just continued to scream. And, it was 11:00 PM and I was all out of bright ideas on how to soothe him, so I did the only thing that came naturally to me and started to cry.

Let me try to explain this to the few readers I have who don’t yet have children (because I know anyone who is reading this with children is shaking her head in understanding right about now). Society and nature teaches mothers that when babies cry, mothers respond and soothe. In most cases the mother does have the secret sauce (or whatever you want to call it) that will soothe their child. This feels natural and right. So, when you face a situation in which your powers have no effect (or at least no discernible effect) it rattles your confidence as a mother. Put on top of that the beautiful face of your baby, scrunched in pain, all red, with tears being squeezed out of the corner of his eyes and your heart starts to crack. Add the final piece de resistance of the scream, primordial and pain filled, and you are done. There is nothing quite like that. The worst part is you can’t tell if your baby knows you want to make it better and you wonder if he feels you just don’t care. Hence the tears.

And so we cried together, we walked together, and we rocked together on and off for about an hour. And yes, your math is correct, it is now about 12:00 PM.

So far we had gone through 2 stages of the inconsolable crying. Stage 1 was that I still believed as his mother I could make it better. Stage 2 was accepting I couldn’t make it better and crying out the emotions. I was about to enter Stage 3 – acceptance of the crying and emotional distancing.

The emotional distancing happens fairly slowly until you all the sudden realize you’ve been holding a screaming baby and watching TV but for the last 15 minutes all you heard was the TV. You realize nothing you do will make it better so you do nothing but be there. You have convinced yourself that your physical presence means something even if you can’t emotionally empathize anymore. Of course your 30 day old can’t tell you if you are right or wrong because he is too busy screaming.

And now we enter the final stage – exhaustion. At around 1:00 AM Evan had started to tire himself out. He would scream for 10 minutes and fall asleep for 5 minutes. I found that I too was falling asleep for those 5 minutes and then startled awake by his screaming. I was concerned that the startling would turn into dropping and I knew I had to call it a night. I had calculated that Brian had slept 3.5 hours and could sleep in tomorrow so it was time for tag team parenting. I went upstairs, woke up Brian, told him I didn’t care if he let Evan cry all night but someone had to make sure he didn’t fall on the tile and crack open his head and I went to sleep.

When I woke up, Brian told me Evan had pretty much pooped himself out and would sleep as long as Brian held him. IF Brian tried to put him down, bloody murder would return. And you think to yourself, how am I going to react to this baby today? How will I get over the frustration from last night?

And then you see this:

And you no longer care what happened because the only thing that matters is that your precious is no longer in pain.

Incidentally, last night was the first night we all slept through the night again. Recovery was a little bit longer than expected.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Before Evan, I was very time focused. I never left the house without a watch and was never far away from a clock within my house. I was never late anywhere and even grew up in a family where being on time meant you were 5 minutes early.

My typical day started with my alarm going off at 5:50 AM. I would hit snooze for 8 minutes and it would go off again at 5:58 AM. This continued until I got up at 6:14 AM. I would get ready for work and then go downstairs for breakfast. If I was downstairs by 6:40 AM I would have eggs for breakfast. Any later and I would have cereal. I at breakfast, read the paper, and left the house around 7:15 AM for work. It took approximately 35-40 minutes to get to work and my day started at 8:00 AM. Throughout the day I had meetings dictated by the clock and an hour for lunch. At 5:00 PM I would call Brian to see if he was ready to leave and we would usually leave work around 5:30 PM. We would get home about 6:10 PM, I would get changed and start cooking dinner at 6:30 PM. We would eat by 7:00 PM and all would be cleaned up by 7:30 PM. We would watch TV until 10:00 PM and then off to bed.

Just imagine how many times during the day I had to look at a clock/my watch to be able to give you those exact times.

And then I gave birth and time became something completely different.

The first difference is the concept of “AM” and “PM.” These abbreviations were very important in my life before Evan. They dictated my schedule - where I was supposed to be, how I was supposed to dress, etc. Now, they only dictate what I eat. For instance, at 7 AM, I eat cereal and at 7 PM I eat meat.

The next difference is how I use the clock. Before Evan, 7:15 AM meant I was supposed to leave the house for work. There was an action associated with a specific time. Now, the time is only used to measure hours in between. I am not interested in 7:15 AM as a point of time, I would only be interested in it if I had fed Evan at 4:15 AM and therefore would need to feed him 3 hours later at 7:15 AM (after I ate my cereal at 7 AM). My clock has been split into 3-4 hour segments and not big hands and little hands.

I know that outside of my house, time still means something to other people so I try and keep track. I have doctor’s appointments and try to get there on time (I haven’t yet, but I’m working on it). I need to call a very busy friend and I keep trying to follow her schedule and call her at a time she is home, but I still haven’t been able to accomplish that (if only she was up at 4 AM, that is my most free time).

I imagine that at some point time will creep back into my life. I’ll sleep through the night which will create a distinction between day and night. There will be play dates, school start and end times, and a myriad of other clock related items.

I can’t say I’ll miss this weird cocoon of timelessness. It makes you feel as if you are watching everyone else as they ride the merry-go-round. They get to go around and around and all I get to do is watch. It’s nice when someone comes to visit and after a day or two they find themselves standing next to me, watching the merry-go-round. Or the days when Brian is home and not working and he abandons his plastic horse to come and stand next to me.

Well, it’s 8 AM, baby sleeping and doesn’t need to be fed until 9:30 AM. Time for some cereal.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Here is how I know I’m a mother…

When we first came home from the hospital, I spent a lot of time waiting for Evan’s mom to show up and thank me for babysitting. Just because someone at the hospital said I was his mother didn’t mean I could fully grasp that.

But, no one has come for him yet so I guess it’s up to me and I’m even beginning to believe that I’m his mother. It’s only occasionally now that I look for a strange car outside my house.

There are a few events that have occurred that make me feel like a mother....

Bodily Fluids

I can’t say I was ever the squeamish type but I definitely tried to avoid bodily fluids. Now, however, they have become so a part of my daily life that when my beautiful baby boy vomits all down the front of me after a big bout of breastfeeding, it doesn’t even bother me that I’m wiping vomit out of my cleavage with a dishtowel because that was the most handy.

And it’s gone beyond bodily fluids not bothering me, I find them humorous. The other day I was changing a dirty diaper. While I was wiping his bottom, Evan decided he wasn’t finished. And as some projectile poo came out, I just started to laugh. Then, while I was still chuckling, Evan decided to raise the hilarity ante and peed all over himself, me, and the kitchen table (no worries for those of you who eat at my house, the table has been sanitized since then) and I couldn’t control myself for a few minutes. Maybe you had to be there but my God, it was super funny.


I now have the ability to sleep anywhere at any time. I swear – it’s become a gift. For example, after running an errand the other day, Brian, Evan, and I stopped by Brian’s office. Brian had to pick something up. I sat down in one of his office chairs and an hour later Brian was waking me up. I had no idea I fell asleep but I was super refreshed.

I have also perfected sleeping through his late night feedings. I get in to position, give him the boob, and nod off. When he is ready to switch he lets me know. And when he is done, we often sleep together in the chair before going back to bed.

Every Child is Evan

I was warned about this, but I didn’t truly understand. The other day I was reading an article in the paper. A man had realized, after 6 hours on a 100 degree day, that he had left his son in the car instead of dropping him off at daycare. His son had suffocated in the heat. This story is not new and I have read it many times before but this time I burst in to tears. Because as I read it, I could see Evan in the back of the car, crying for someone to come and help him… and there I go again. Brian thinks I’m nuts, but now all stories about children are stories about Evan.

But the main reason I feel like a mom is because I have no idea what I’m doing and all I want to do is give Evan peace and I know I would try anything to do that for him. That and sometimes I feel like Goldie Hawn in Overboard when she cracks and they find her sitting on a chair saying “blub blub blub blub blub blub blub…”

Friday, September 18, 2009

What I learned at the hospital…

So, I gave birth to Evan on Wednesday, August 26. Since I had a c-section, I knew the earliest I would be able to go home was Saturday. For 4 days, all I had to do was sit back and learn about my new baby and my new life.

Here are some things I specifically learned from the hospital staff:

1. No one will agree. Not about when or if you should take your meds. Not about how active you should be after a c-section. Not about the appropriate weight of your child and how to maintain that weight. And definitely not about breastfeeding. The only thing to do is to use your intuition – find the one person you trust and only listen to them. Politely nod to everyone else.

2. Since no one will agree, it is inevitable that you will be told you are doing something wrong. It might be that you are keeping the room too hot (or cold) for the baby or it might be that you aren’t trying enough different breastfeeding positions. This will make you feel like shit (partly hormones, partly insecurity). Refer back to my solution in the previous comment. Hopefully, whoever you choose to listen to will not be judgmental.

3. Just because someone is a nurse or a physician, it doesn’t mean they aren’t crazy. I had a nurse tell me how immunizations are related to autism in children. Yes, this is a belief held by some people, but held by very few people in the medical community. Of course she told me about this after she spent 15 minutes telling me why she would never have children.
4. Apparently, according to hospitals, sunlight is not necessary to speed recovery. I had an interior room for 4 days with artificial light in a fake window. I never knew what time of day it was or what the weather was. When I left, it felt like an escape.

5. If you need medication, more maxi pads, and yes, even tissues, call your nurse. No one else will be allowed to fetch you anything.

6. If you are modest, pray that you have a vaginal birth so you are in and out. Otherwise, get over it. While you are breastfeeding you may have any type of visitor from a nurse to the food delivery person. When the nurse comes to check out your incision, whoever is in the room will also get to see your incision (and remember where your incision is). And, not all personnel knock so always shut your bathroom door even if you are the only person in the room.

And perhaps the most important thing I learned about the hospital:

7. A hospital is simply a place of policies based on risk assessments. No one will agree on how best you should feed your child, but everyone will agree that if your child gets close to losing 10% of his birth weight there is a problem. Everyone will also agree that you can only take your baby out of the room if he is in his mobile crib. And God help you if you try to leave the hospital without the baby securely (according to the discharge nurse) fastened into his/her car seat. All of these things are cardinal sins (read – high risk) and you will get tagged as a lacking (not yet bad) parent.

And the final thing I learned about hospitals:

8. You will leave them. And when you do, whatever happened in that small, cramped room with one bathroom, one sink in the main room, 2 sets of grandparents, one bed and a cot won’t matter at all. You will have your baby and you will get to decide what is best for him.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Introducing the Evan: Part 2

Disclaimer: From here on out, the actual timing of things gets a little fuzzy in my head so I apologize to anyone who reads this and was keeping track of every minute and finds my recollection lacking.

So, noon on Tuesday, August 25 the devil drug was hooked up to my IV and started to enter my body. I sat and waited for the contractions to begin. While we wait together, let me take this moment to explain to you why I don’t like Pitocin. As a drug, Pitocin is extremely effective. It is used to induce labor or in some cases speed up labor. And it does both of those things amazingly well. Simulating natural labor is NOT one of its purposes, as you can tell since it was left off my list. This means that the labor Pitocin induces or speeds up is like labor on steroids – the contractions are stronger and faster than natural labor. By stronger I mean that most people find it difficult to use Pitocin and not have an epidural. By faster I mean the resting period between contractions is shorter than in natural labor. So, my beef with Pitocin is not with its effectiveness, but its impact on a natural labor.

Of course, at this point I’m not sure why I care since there was nothing natural about my labor. The Foley balloon, water breaking, IV, fetal monitor, blood pressure cuff, and newly added Penicillin (I tested positive for Group B Strep so in anticipation of a vaginal birth, I had to be dosed with Penicillin so my baby wouldn’t be impacted – IV Penicillin felt like nails being injected through your veins, over and over again) – none of those things screamed natural birth.

At some point, the Pitocin kicked in and contractions began. And, I was hypnobirthing through them – breathing, imaging, and it was okay. Again, time is fuzzy so I don’t know when the contractions began or when the first pain shot through my back – yes, my back. Apparently there is such a thing as “back labor” – look it up. To me, it felt like I was trying to pick up a 100 lb weight and my lower back was telling me it wasn’t going to happen.

I got on my birthing ball, Brian applied counter-pressure when the contractions began, I imagined and tried to relax. I lasted probably about 15 minutes of this type of labor (at least that was what it felt like to me) before I threw in the towel and called for the epidural. I got into bed, was drugged up and now the day starts to become even more fuzzy. I know at one point my physician came in and checked my progress. I had dilated to 6 cm, I was 80% effaced, but the baby had not settled in to my pelvis – apparently Evan was still bee-bopping around. But there was progression so we were hopeful. My OB said she would be back in later to check again.

I slept on and off, watched TV, talked with the parents, and basically floated along on my epidural. Later that night, I think around 7PM / 8PM, my OB returned to look at my progress and announced there had been none. I was still at 6 cm and 80% effaced with no head in my pelvis. The Pitocin had done all it could do in the time period we had given it (remember, my OB broke my water which meant I had to deliver within 24 hours to reduce the risk of infection). The Pitocin was turned off and I was going to have a c-section. The only catch was that another patient of my OB was ready to deliver any minute so my surgery would wait until that delivery was complete (since I wasn’t an emergency). And so, after another delay because a woman was in distress and needed the OR, I was prepped for surgery early in the morning on Wednesday, August 26 and eventually wheeled into the OR.

Before I tell you the scant moments I remember about my c-section, I need to take a second on my soap box. Those who were part of this story but not the star (the parents and Brian) seem to share the opinion that my OB prolonged my labor too long – that the c-section should have been done a lot sooner than it was. I honestly can’t imagine what their experience must have been, just waiting around and watching me go through this, but I have to vehemently disagree with them for 3 main reasons:
  1. At no point was I or the baby in danger. Our bodies were doing what they could do with little to no strain on either of us. I don’t blame us that vaginal birth didn’t happen – my body wasn’t ready which meant the baby wasn’t ready. If I had naturally progressed through labor it could have lasted days (as long as there was no harm to me or baby) so a few hours was nothing.
  2. I was not the only patient giving birth and was actually the least imminent. How could I blame my OB for attending to an imminent vaginal birth when I could have waited until almost until 8AM before I HAD to have the surgery?
  3. My physician knew what I wanted and was giving me every opportunity to have it. I wanted a vaginal birth. I had discussed this thoroughly with my physician. Therefore I appreciate everything she did to give me the chance to have that birth.

And now back to my c-section. I received my epidural for the c-section and here is what I recall:

Trying to desperately stay awake because Brian was freaking out that my falling asleep was really me falling into a coma. Brian wearing some sort of space suit to be able to go into the OR. Being wheeled in. Seeing my OB and wondering if she had to stand on a stool to cut my belly (she was 33 weeks pregnant and actually gave birth 2 days after me). Thinking how weird it was that I didn’t feel anything. Trying to stay awake. Hearing a very faint cry and wondering what that was. Someone telling me the cry was our baby. Brian going away with the baby. Turning to my left to see Brian holding the baby – very far away, hardly able to see anything, but I knew he was beautiful. Trying to stay awake. Wait a second, what was that. All the sudden searing pain across my stomach. Brian coming back to see what was happening. The anesthesiologist asking me if I was feeling a sensation or pain and my responding pain. Grabbing on to some bars and feeling more pain. My physician telling Brian I was just feeling sensation and me telling them all I was feeling pain… and lots of it. The anesthesiologist giving me more drugs and still feeling pain. The anesthesiologist going to some closet to get me even more drugs. My physician telling Brian that they were going to have to put me under. Pain gone away. Floating, flying, wait a second, how did the Pigs in Space from the Muppets get here – aren’t I having a baby? Being rolled away, away from the Pigs in Space. In a different room, Brian next to me, someone saying tachycardia, trying to surface. Trying to talk, my God when did my lips get so big. Brian telling me the baby is fine. My OB showing up and telling me I didn’t need to talk. Sleeping and then not sleeping. Being wheeled back to my labor & delivery room without the baby. Sleeping and then not sleeping. Brian there. Nurses there, moving the entire bed, wheeling me to the post-partum room. There is a baby, the parents arrive, and I sleep.

And now I have this amazing, beautiful, wonderful creature that somehow I’m supposed to believe came from my belly. He is too perfect to have come from there. And, I do think that having the c-section made him almost a little more foreign to me. He was born at 3:19 AM and I don’t remember seeing him for the first time for hours and hours later. I didn’t get to experience his entry into the world – thank God Brian was there and lucid enough to welcome him! And so the end justifies the means. He came to this world, healthy and happy and I can’t regret anything.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Introducing the Evan: Part I

So, it’s been 3 weeks since I last posted. Needless to say I’ve been a little busy, but I’m back and ready to share with you the next event… Evan’s birth. Sorry for the delay, but I promise that Evan is worth it (and this isn’t just a biased opinion from his mother either… I have a lot of people who agree with me).

When last I left you, I was getting ready to go into the hospital for my induction. So, at 5:30 on Monday, August 24, Brian and I made our way to the hospital. Meanwhile, my mom and Brian’s parents were on their way to Austin. They were arriving at times that would make it difficult for us to pick them up and be at the hospital so luckily our friend Huey was willing to pick them up and drop them off (thanks again Huey!).

Brian and I made ourselves “comfortable” in the labor and delivery room and met our first of 1000 nurses that we would meet while in the hospital (well not 1000 really… but they all start to blend together after a while). This was our “check-in” nurse and while I was answering tons of questions about me and about our birth plan, the nurse realized that I was only 38 weeks and 6 days pregnant. Why was this an issue? Well, as it turns out, it is hospital policy that you can not be induced before 39 weeks without a valid medical reason (and macrosomia – or suspected giant baby – was not considered a valid reason). And since someone early on in my pregnancy chose an arbitrary due date of September 1 for me, I wasn’t getting induced until midnight and one minute on August 25.

In the meantime, the hospital was able to make me feel extremely at home by hooking me up to an IV of saline, a blood pressure cuff that took my pressure every 15 minutes, and a fetal monitor. The IV just made me had to pee, the cuff hurt my arm over and over again, and the monitor stressed out Brian. It was literally tracking every movement of our baby – sometimes his heart was fast and then it would slow down tremendously. While this was all normal, apparently Brian’s medical education (or lack thereof) had not made him aware of what was normal and what wasn’t. Sadly, once Brian’s dad arrived (a former Pediatric nurse and current ER nurse) his main job was to watch the monitor and tell Brian everything was normal.

And so there we were… Brian and I, his parents, and my mom sitting in the labor and delivery room with no labor being induced and no delivery imminent. Thankfully, I was able to fall asleep (in preparation for labor the next day), there was a place for Brian to rest, and the parents were able to find their way back to our house so they could get some sleep before they returned to the hospital the next day.

Around midnight, my midwife woke me up to start the induction. The first phase of my induction was to use a Foley balloon (on a Foley catheter) to dilate my cervix (by the way the picture below is the first I’ve seen of this catheter and I swear it looks much more ominous than it feels). The idea is that the balloon portion of the catheter would be placed between my amniotic sac and the bottom of my uterus and then inflated. The goal is that the balloon would cause my cervix to open and hopefully induce labor. The plan was to keep it in there for the night and then check me around 8:00 AM. I swear I went right back to sleep and didn’t even know the balloon was in there.

The next morning, the midwife came back to check on my progress. The Foley balloon fell right out which meant that it had successfully dilated me to 4 cm. Now since I was dilated, the next step was to break my water to induce labor. My physician showed up around 9 AM and used some tool to break my water. I didn't see this tool either - my main belief in life is to let professionals do what they have been trained to do. The only thing that would have happened if I saw the tool (or the Foley catheter) is I would have anticipated horror. Instead, I didn’t feel much of anything, but I did hear the fluid. There was A LOT of fluid. Seriously, I think I lost 10 lbs right there. Even my physician was impressed.

Now all we had to do was wait. Since we broke my water, the only thing I knew for sure was that within 24 hours I would have a baby – how I would have that baby was still up in the air.
My physician gave me some options. She said that we could wait as long as 6 hours or as short as 3 hours to see if breaking my water would induce labor. If nothing was happening our next step was Pitocin (a drug I like to refer to as the root of all evil, but more on that later).

I ate breakfast, chatted with the parents who showed up in the morning, napped on and off and was checked by a nurse about every hour. Around noon I was still only 4 cm dilated. At this point I had to accept a few things:
  1. Breaking my water was not going to induce labor.
  2. The next step was Pitocin… and I had gigantic doubts about my ability to stick to hypnobirthing with the unnatural contractions Pitocin would induce.
At noon I made the decision to get this labor going and okayed the Pitocin. I was hooked up through my IV and waited for the contractions to begin.