I Want My Maternity Leave Back

I feel awful saying this out loud but I really didn’t enjoy my maternity leave.  When I was nearing the end of my 40 week stint as a professional incubator, I had visions of snuggling with my squishy baby while watching TV and reading books.  Long chats on the phone with friends and family.  Shopping trips and lunch with the ladies.  Catching up on blogging, email and Facebook.  Basically just six whole weeks of Saturdays and Sundays. 

Instead I pushed out a child and was thrust into this brand-new life with an itty bitty (well, not that itty bitty at 8lbs 4oz thank you very much) baby who was easy by most accounts, but still, a brand new baby.  And we had a lot of stuff to figure out together.  Like those hours in the early evenings when she just cried.  For no good reason.  And I wanted to throw myself on the floor and cry right along with her.  Or the times that she projectile vomited and I wanted to run for the phone to call my husband, my mother and the doctor because O MY GOD a baby should not have that much stuff coming up.  Or the never-ending challenge of trying to determine if she was hungry or tired or just pissed that she pulled the short stick and had to go home with me. 

Then there was the coming to terms with the new me.  The me that had to choose between bathing and eating some days.  Bathing almost always won because it was the only that made my lady bits feel better.  And speaking of lady bits, I spent 5 damn weeks medicated, sitting down ever so carefully and scared to death that I was going to forever feel like someone took a baseball bat to my crotch.  It took me a good two weeks to pull out a mirror and check out the damage for myself.   The new me was always in sweats, never in make up and desperately wanted to slip into my pre-pregnancy jeans. 

The thought of leaving the house seemed like both an escape and a death trap.  I wanted to leave the house, see people, be human again, but that meant leaving my child or taking her with me.  Leaving her seemed to go against every fiber in my body, but taking her?  That means putting her in a car and driving.  On a road.  With other people.   You see where I’m going here? 

I figured it out.  As my six weeks came to an end, the lady bits started to feel a bit more like normal (although it would be another four weeks until the bleeding stopped – that’s right folks, I bled for TEN EFFING WEEKS).  I got some of my energy back. I mastered the Happiest Baby on the Block soothing techniques.  I learned how to bath with the baby in her bouncy chair and grab a granola bar on the way out the door.  I took a deep breath and took C with me when I left the house.  I finally got back into those jeans. I met a friend and her little one for shopping and had a jolly time pushing the girls around in their strollers. 

And then two days later I went back to work.  So now that I sort of feel like a better version of my former self, I think I would like a redo on my maternity leave.

Let’s talk about stretch marks, shall we

Because on a quiet Friday night there’s nothing better, right?? 

Craig went to watch a football game and after a long week of being sick and going back to work, I spent most of this evening curled up on the couch watching Say Yes to the Dress with Baby Girl.  After her last bottle, I hit the bathtub where I finished the Happiest Baby on the Block.  (She’s a good baby, but I still believe in the 5 S’s.)  I wrapped up my “me” time by rubbing cocoa butter on my stretch marks. 

Yes, folks, my stretch marks.  The very marks I said in all of my weekly survey posts that I did not have.  By the end of the pregnancy I think I was even gloating about escaping my child’s incubation period without those bothersome marks.  Only to find out that I DID, in fact, have them.  They were just on the underneath side of my belly so I couldn’t see them.  Awesome. 

Now, here’s the thing.  In the last four or five weeks of my pregnancy I was accompanied to doctor’s appointments and non stress tests by my husband, my mother and my mother-in-law.  All who sat in the exam room with me during the heartbeat checks and had a view of that part of my belly.  All who read this blog and saw me declare my belly stretch mark free.  You would think that one of them might have handed me a mirror or sent me an anonymous note.  🙂

When does it stop?

Disclaimer:  If you’re not wild about TMI posts or if you’re my husband you should probably stop reading now. 

But I really need to know… when does the bleeding stop?  Six weeks ago tomorrow, I birthed this baby.  How can I possibly still be bleeding?  Granted for the last couple of weeks it was really pretty light but in the last two days I have been reliving my junior high years of bleeding through pads and ruining sheets (only in junior high, it wasn’t a $200 bed set that I was sleeping on).  WTH??  I assume this is normal and I shouldn’t be calling my OB, right?  I go for my check up on Monday, it can wait until then? 

Mission Accomplished

Spent the morning cleaning my house – mopped floors, ran the vacuum & scrubbed the bathroom. The good news is it now looks better than it has since the day we brought the babe home. The bad news is my lady bits feel like someone took a swing at them with a golf club. When will I learn to pre-medicate?

The Choices We Make

People warned me about this… sort of… I heard “your life is going to change” so many times during the last nine months that I wanted to throat-punch anyone who dared give me that knowing look and start to open their mouth to grace me with their words of wisdom about how I wouldn’t be able to pick up and run to WalMart when I wanted or how Craig and I would have to arrange child care if we wanted to go out for a hot meal or about how all around wonderful my life would be once I had a baby.

Nobody told me that there would be days that I would have to choose between showering and eating. They gave me advice about “sleeping when she sleeps”. Sounds easy enough. Except some days this child only sleeps in 30 minute increments. Which means that by the time she falls asleep – deep enough that I can lay her down I have about 15 minutes before she’s up again wanting to be held or fed or needing a diaper changed. So in those 15 minutes do I take a quick bath or eat something? And if I chose sustenance over hygiene what exactly do I eat? Nothing that requires microwaving since the beeping will surely wake her up and nothing that takes longer than a few minutes to prepare because I want to have time to actually eat it. So, if anyone goes to the grocery store could you grab me more cereal and bread please? (side note, this is probably why I’m only 4 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight.)

My Labor Story

Before I forget the details, I wanted to get my labor story documented…
First of all anyone who knows me knows that I did not want to be induced. Remember the post where I laid out my labor plan… To go into labor on my own – on or before the 23rd of September; go without an epidural and not have a c-section. Well one out of four isn’t bad, I guess.
At our 40-week and 1 day appointment, the doctor scheduled an induction for September 30th, which would have made me one full week over due. I never thought I would actually be that late or need that appointment, but apparently the baby had another opinion. So at 7:45 on September 30th, Craig and a very pregnant me walked into the hospital and knew we would be leaving for a baby. On the way to the hospital Craig talked to the baby about putting me into labor right-this-very-second and I joked that I would be OK with it if they checked things out and discovered that I was in the early stages of labor and sent us home with instructions to come back later. Neither of those two things happened and at 8:30 I was still barely 1cm dilated, not effaced enough to break my water and hooked up to pitocin to start contractions.
For the first hour or so, the contractions weren’t that bad. They just felt like good old fashioned cramps. Then they started getting a little stronger and were a little harder to breathe through. I asked for some pain medicine around 10:00 and before the nurse gave it to me she checked to see how I was progressing. I was 2cm. Barely 2 cm. She gave me some pain medicine to take the edge off, which it absolutely did not, and increased the pitocin. A little while later, the contractions were really, really painful. Craig tried to help by telling me to breathe deeper – (thanks honey!) and I realized there was no way I was getting through labor without the epidural. When the nurse came back in to tell me the woman in the room next to me was getting an epidural, I told her to send the doctor to me when he was done with her.

They put the epidural in around 11:00. That was probably the most uncomfortable and awkward part of labor. Trying to hold still, sort of curled up in a ball, with a nurse standing between my legs holding onto me to make sure I didn’t move while having contractions that felt like like the baby was having her own version of ultimate kickboxing. I was surprised at how long it took to put the epidural in and that it didn’t take effect right away. After they finally got it all in and I laid back down on the bed, I did start feeling some relief… on my right side. On my left side, however, I was still feeling each contraction. They had me lay on my side for a while and that helped the numbness work its way over.
At 12:30 the doctor came back to check my progress, break my water and (after making fun of me for having the epidural when I had said for weeks that I didn’t want it) announced that I was fully dilated. I politely asked her if the drugs they gave me went to my head or hers. I didn’t quite believe her. This wasn’t the way I thought it was going to go. It was early afternoon, not late at night or mid-morning. I remember thinking that I wasn’t quite ready for this yet. She told me that I could start pushing when I was ready.
A nurse came in and turned the warming lights on for the baby and said that we could start pushing. Because I was still so numb from the epidural, she had to brace one leg and Craig took the other – breaking the strict “stay shoulders up and don’t look down there” orders. I tried pushing for about half an hour but it wasn’t really working. I couldn’t feel anything and was almost falling asleep between contractions and pushes. The nurse turned the epidural down and told me to relax for a while. I fell asleep for about an hour.

When I woke up, I started pushing again – this time with a roomful of doctors and nurses. Besides my OB, there were two nurses helping me push (Craig was on camera & phone duty), a nurse for the baby and a doctor from the neonatal ICU to make sure the baby was OK because there was meconium in the water when they broke it and they were afraid she had swallowed some. So, with the team of medical professionals talking me through the pushes – I could feel pressure but not pain – I pushed for about 20 minutes and at 3:33, my baby girl was born.

She cried her little head off while they wiped her off and laid her on my belly. Craig cut the umbilical cord and then they took her, cleaned her off and pronounced her healthy. When they wrapped her up and handed her to Craig to hold, I thought my heart would break from happiness. I will never forget the moment of seeing him fall in love with his baby girl.

All in all, I really couldn’t have asked for a better labor experience. I had a doctor that I trusted completely and who acted like a real person, a nurse who was comforting and walked us through the whole process, and a husband that didn’t do or say anything stupid. That being said, I have discovered that the reason the pain of labor is quickly forgotten has less to do with the love for your child and more to do with the fact that it’s replaced by the pain of recovering from labor – sore boobs, a crotch that feels like someone took a baseball bat to it and cramps from a shrinking uterus that are worse than any PMS I ever had. As I type this and look at my now 2-week old little girl who I love more than I ever thought possible I can say with conviction that it’s all worth it. Maybe someday, I’ll even think about doing it again!

Well there goes that plan…

So, I learned yesterday that the fastest way to get me to forget all of the questions I wanted to ask my doctor is to ask me if I wanted to schedule an induction for next Wednesday. NEXT Wednesday?!? I’ll only be 39 weeks on Wednesday are we really talking about this? I politely declined, listened to the heart beat, put my pants on and left the office. But before I left the doctor told me that we’d have to talk about it at next week’s appointment. I think by now everyone knows how I feel about being induced, but I’m starting to get the impression that it may come down to that. That nature is not interested in taking its course with me and that it might not happen on its own. So if it’s not going to happen without help from cervadil & pitocin is it better to schedule it for the week after next (which would be my due date) or the week after that?!?!

I think I’m about to take up jogging, eating spicy foods or any and all of the old wives tales that they say get labor started to see if we can get things going on our own here. Clearly this child is going to be just like his/her father and do things on his time frame, but it would be SO unlike me to not try to control it all!

The Best Laid Plans

Over the last few weeks I’ve had more questions about labor than I thought a girl could possibly get. When it became OK to publicly discuss the status of my cervix (nope, not dilated yet, not even a little), the position of the baby (don’t think he/she dropped yet, but not really sure) and my opinion on high-test pain medicine, I’m not sure. However… the following is what I want (or don’t want) as far as labor goes:

  • I want this to happen on or before September 23rd. I am not interested in going past my due date. I leased out my ute for 40 weeks, not 41, not 40 weeks and 3 days. When we hit the 40-week mark I’m signing eviction papers.
  • I don’t want to be induced. As much as I want to go on or before my due date, I also would much rather go into labor on my own, be able to spend the first few hours of it in my own house, in my own clothes, maybe my own bathtub or shower than to have to spend that entire amount of time in the hospital. Add to that the experiences of others that I know who were in labor for 20+ hours after being induced then by the time they got to push were exhausted from being awake for so long and not having anything to eat and it just doesn’t sound like a good time.
  • I don’t want a c-section. Self-explanatory, I think. I hear the recovery is longer, steps are tough etc. All things that will mean I will need to lean on others for help more after I come home and I don’ t want that either. And, with a c-section you can’t get out of bed for a longer period of time, you can’t eat solid foods for a day or so… I want to pop out this kid, get up and take a shower and eat a cheeseburger (with something chocolate for dessert.)
  • I don’t want to be in so much pain that I need an epidural. This one really makes people’s eyes go wide and then they get that look on their face like “uh-huh, good luck with that” and I can see them mentally making bets with themselves as to how far I’ll be before I ask for the needle in my back. Something about the epidural just freaks me out. Maybe it’s the side effects – the headaches, the maybe it only takes on one side, maybe it effects the baby’s heartbeat, the fact that it’s a big ass needle going into my spine, etc, but I just don’t like the idea of getting one. And I get that I don’t know what the pain of labor is going to be like, but I also know that a) it’s temporary, b) people used to do it without them all the time and c) if you have an epidural they give you a catheter. I’m pretty vain and it’ll take a lot of pain for me to be OK with having a catheter and my husband in the room.
  • I want our time at the hospital to go fast enough that we don’t need to call for reinforcements. Long shot I know. But my absolute hope is that Craig and I can do this on our own. I understand that if we’re there for a long time we may need to have someone come keep him company or bring him something to eat or someone to sit with me while he takes a break. Best case scenario, we make it to the hospital and have the baby before anyone misses us.
  • I want to remember everything about the first moments after the baby is born. I’m absolutely looking forward to that 45 minutes or so that we get with the baby before the nurses take him/her to the nursery for whatever it is they do (bath, weight, ear test, etc). I hope to be alert enough to remember the first cry, to know whether Craig cries or not, to commit to memory the look on his face when he holds his baby for the first time and the look in the baby’s eyes when he/she sees me for the first time. Those few precious moments when it’s just us (even if we have to lock the room down like Fort Knox to keep anxious grandparents at bay) are when we become a family and I don’t want to forget them.

So there you have it, my birth plan. I know other chicks whose plans include things like exercise balls to sit on, soft music, low lighting, focus points, etc… not me… I don’t know how that stuff is going to go. I’m willing to make all of those things game day decisions as will most of the other things I mentioned, I suppose. But Craig knows how I feel about most of these things and it will be his job to gently remind me of what I wanted weeks and months before delivery when I was calm, not in pain and not an emotional nutcase.

Dear Munchkin,

We have another doctor’s appointment tomorrow and two things will make Mommy very happy. First of all if you’re heartbeat is all nice and rhythmic again and secondly if you’ve done as I asked and started to plan your departure from my belly.

According to my boss I can’t expect people to do things if I don’t make their goals and objectives very clear, so I wanted to be sure you understood what was expected of you tomorrow. If you have yet to accomplish these goals you still have about 18 hours to work on it. I expect big things of you tomorrow! Okay?

Thanks baby.

Top 10 Things I Learned in Childbirth Class

  1. People who let themselves be taped for childbirth videos in the late 70’s early 80’s were funny looking
  2. Labor is gross
  3. I need to get over my desire for modesty
  4. Some people should not be reproducing
  5. Attempting breathing exercises in a room that’s full of strangers is a good way to give me a fit of the giggles.
  6. Labor is gross
  7. It’s bad to smoke during pregnancy (yes, someone in our class asked this question)
  8. If Craig spends the night at the hospital, he is going to be very uncomfortable in that little reclining chair.
  9. I plan to stay in the comfort of my own home (and more importantly the comfort of my own clothes) as long as possible when I go into labor.
  10. God does not answer prayers for the VCR to eat the childbirth video tape.