Friday, January 26, 2018

Labor Day - Part III

She never would have made it past my cervix.

The rush of the scrubs being put on my head. The assurances by the medical team that I wasn't actually a failure myself for not being able to push this baby out ("Maybe she's more than 8 pounds?").  Watching Viking pull scrubs on and being wheeled around the corner of the hospital on a gurney.  Asking "so what the hell I am supposed to do now that I need to KEEP Pushing?"  These are the hazy dreamlike visions I have of these moments.

And then I am in the operating theater.  And the sucky anesthesiologist on whom I have to fight a keen distrust is back, and I am suddenly panicked that she won't numb me properly and I will be sliced open and feel every gruesome second of it.  "I still feel you," I keep saying, and she keeps responding "You won't feel a thing, I promise."

They proceed.  And I feel tugging and pulling, but not actual pain.  And I hear my doctor say, "Oh wow, look, her head is completely tilted backwards, she was never going to make it through the cervix,"

And I suppose they pull her out and eventually hand her over to someone because I hear a cry. The most beautiful sound in the world.  Then I hear a stronger cry.  She's out.  She's actually out.

"Six pounds, ten ounces.  Wow, your girl has a ton of hair!"

She wasn't big at all.  She's in the same range as Niblet was.

And I am being sewn and stitched up and suddenly I am freezing.  Like ice cold, and shaking and this is the anesthesia actually working.  And YES, I want more warm blankets, my teeth are actually fucking chattering, and yes, please, I want to see her.  Viking carries her over next to my side and I don't have my glasses on so I can't see much, but I see her eyebrows. Or at least, her brow muscles, because she is blond. They are furrowed in a way that is entirely familiar to me. 

As with her sister, nine years ago, there is absolutely no question as to paternity with my daughter.

She looks exactly like her father. 

Labor Day - Part II

Somewhere in the time after that second epidural kicked in I started to remind myself that it would all be ok.  Pushing this baby out would be optimal, but if I needed a C section, we - like countless moms and babies before us - would be ok (Full disclosure, I'm not a fan of the Ina May Garten and the Business of Being Born school of thinking.  Are most births too medicalized?  Possibly.  Is this the issue I raise my sword at?  Nope).

Well a few hours later, much to my surprise, I am dilated to a 9.  You read that correctly, a 9.  This fucking process worked.  The hell of a foley bulb, useless stadol, multiple epidural attempts and pitocin cranked to the sky has induced my body into labor.  I can start to feel the contractions, and am instructed to increase my epidural as needed, by a nurse who is surprised that it is set to a level 6, when often it is set to a level 10.

Um, guys, bug mistake to give me that button.  Because OF COURSE I press the fucker, and then of course I start to feel queasy and dizzy again.  And oh, gee, guess what, I really react badly to this anesthesia, and my blood pressure is dropping.  And the doctor comes in and is all, "how many times did you press the button?" And I'm like "Three I think," but I am falling faint.  And they lower the epi and stabilize my blood pressure.  And Viking is angry.  "If you didn't want her to add drugs, why did you instruct her to press the button?  Is that the protocol?"  "Well, the drip won't allow more than a certain amount into her system." "Okay, but it allowed enough that her BP and the baby's started dropping."

Alrighty then.  I am now dilated to a 10.  it's all worked.  It's about 5:30 PM, so about 11 hours from when we first started.  The baby isn't optimally stationed, she's a tad bit high, but I am instructed to push.

And push I do.  For AN HOUR.  For those who have never experienced this, it IS in fact the feeling of pushing a bowel movement and you are supposed to push in the exact same way.  Now look, some of my pushes were weak ass pushes because I have a cold and it's hard to hold my breath, but some of them were EPIC.  And the doctor is actually yelling at me, "If you don't push harder you're going to wind up with a c section."  And I am now not only pushing but angry pushing during my contractions.  And we keep getting SO CLOSE and yet so far. 

After an hour of this the doctor looks grim.  Something is preventing the baby from coming out.  Maybe she's positioned badly?  There's a midwife there who is trying to have me move into different positions to jigger this baby out.  She has all kinds of tricks up her sleeve, but none of them are working.  After over 12 hours of hell - that was actually working - my labor is officially called a failure and I am now being prepped for a C Section.

I'm an overachiever.  I've never failed at anything.  Oh well.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Labor Day - Part 1

So, the morning of my induction I go downstairs to feed the cat at 5am and my Dad wakes up and says "How're you feeling?" And I respond "Too good."  Because I did not miraculously go into labor the night before, as I did with Niblet.  (I labored at home with Niblet for the first 11 hours, unmedicated, rolling on a yoga ball, moving around and breathing through the pain.  I arrived at the hospital dilated to a 4.  Sigh.).

We get to the hospital at 5:30 and the show gets on the road at 6am.  Now earlier in the week I was dilated to a 1, and my membranes were sweeped by Dr. W.  Surely this means that my cervix was going to be a little more primed for this, right?

You would be wrong.  I was dilated to a 1.  That's right.  A fucking 1.  Sigh.

In the midst of all this I meet the doctor on call who will be delivering, and a friendly Physicians Assistant who is reading my chart and wants to confirm with me the most miserable fertility history in history.

(e.g., "Were your miscarriages the result of your Asherman's?" "No, you have it backwards, my Asherman's came after a D&C for a partial molar pregnancy, and was treated and then I went on to have a million more miscarriages. And the MTHFR you just asked about resulted in the baby I lost with a giant omphalocele.  And how the fuck is this the time to be talking about all of this with me?")

So my induction plan then changed, and we would start with a foley bulb.  Go ahead, google that shit.  It's barbaric.  A catheter is rammed up my cervix (isn't this the story of my life?) and a balloon is inflated to manually dilate it.  Now, I've got a high pain tolerance, I've had in office hysteroscopies to treat Asherman's scar tissue without any anesthesia for fucks sake.  Well, this hurt.  Not unbearable crying pain (that comes later), but definitely unpleasant.  And I am basically chained to a bed with lots of IV lines and monitors at 6am.  Can I say how much inductions blow?

Ok, the bulb gets me to a 2.  My water is then broken (or at least, so we think, more on that later).  On to the pitocin we go.

I don't want to write a book about pitocin induced labor pains.  I'm sure someone has.  All I will say is HOLY MOTHER OF CHRIST.  Viking had never seen me in such a state.  The fuckhead even said, "you were quieter when you labored with Niblet."  NO SHIT.  Because pitocin is the devil.  That is all.

After surely looking like a possessed character in a 70s horror movie, all moaning and writhing and strapped to a fucking bed by IV lines, I beg for drugs.  It's too early for an epidural, so I first get a light narcotic to "take the edge off" - Stadol.  "You know how when you drink and you fall you don't feel pain?" the nurse says to me?  Bitch, my body is a fucking temple.  I haven't fallen while boozily lubricated on the street in like 15 years, what kind of mother do you think I am?

Let's just say that the stadol did NOTHING.  "Let me know when I need to advocate harder for you for the epidural,"Viking tries to helpfully offer.  Yeah Dude, you should get on that now.

It's now maybe 12 or 1 in the afternoon.  Viking is watching the monitor, all fascinated because he can see when I am contracting and isn't science cool?  "That was a long one," he says.  Yes asshole, I say to his face, that was indeed a long one.  And he laughs and calls himself Mr. Science to try to take the edge off that the Stadol couldn't, and I am officially crying and writhing in pain.  We are finally dilated to a four and the nurse runs fluids through me for an hour so I can get my precious precious spinal drug line.

Ok, so the epidural.  I've had one before, and as I've mentioned, I needed two tries.  Because apparently my back was "too muscular" to get a line in.  Dr. W thought this was total bullshit when I told her the story, "Maybe that guy was just a resident?  That shouldn't have happened."  Ahhh, not so fast.  Viking is bedside on a stool.  I am holding his hands and trying to breathe and count through contractions.  He gets a worried look on his face because this anesthesiologist ("she's new here," they tell me, "not new to anesthesiology of course, just new here") is taking a while.  She is poking and prodding, and asking if I can feel that SHARP JABBING PAIN and why, yes, yes I can.  When I should not be.  And whoa there's another pitocin contraction.  And this is just going on and on and on. And I stare into Viking's blue eyes, and wait, what the fuck, am I peeing on him, what was that GUSH?  Umm, no, apparently THAT is my water breaking, and oh look says the nurse, it appears as if there's meconium in there.  Sorry about those jeans Viking.

"Is this trouble related to the fact that my back is, ummm, sort of muscular?" I ask?  "Well, yes, I can't find a good space to insert the needle."

Twenty minutes after we began, the drip is in.  And I start feeling queasy.  Really queasy.  My blood pressure drops, and Nutmeg's blood pressure drops.  And the anesthesiologist sets the epidural level lower than usual, my BP (and Nutmegs) stabilizes, and I start to feel better.  (This will be a fun fact to remember in the next post, coming soon).

The edge has finally been taken off.  It's about 2:30 in the afternoon.  And I can nap.

Pre-labor ANXIETY

So, in the days leading up to my delivery, I was a fucking wreck.  A crying panicked mess.  Going through some mild braxton-hickish labor, but honestly, convinced that the scheduled induction set for Saturday January 20 would not only fail spectacularly, but in a way that the universe would give me the finger for thinking for even a moment that a blissfully easy pregnancy would lead to a living baby in my arms.  Or at a minimum, I could experience any of the clusterfucks of labor that are described on the birth boards.  I was set off by the tiniest things.  I was snapping at everyone and then bursting into tears, and then I would hide in my room like a 9 year old.

Viking wasn't having it.  Maybe he forgot my PPD after Niblet was born, maybe he forgot the level of PTSD I've experienced because the last 30 or so weeks were a cake walk for a recurrent loss mom like myself.  I don't know.  He's a solid loving guy, but he's not the most emotionally attuned dude on the planet.  Ultimately he wasn't helpful because he was basically all, like, "why are so you fucking crazy right now?"  I don't know asshole, perhaps because pushing a baby out on a round of pitocin sounds painful and scary as fuck?

The night before our induction I pulled myself the fuck together because my parents were coming to stay to watch the Nibble and the last thing anyone needed was their worry on this front.  They are a tad, well, smothering is the best word for it. In hindsight I wouldn't be surprised if some of Viking's ill-temper was related to their coming to stay. 

Friday came.  My parents came.  I pulled it together.  Niblet went to a school performance and I tried to temper all the crazy thoughts in my head and focus on the fact that I was in good medical hands.

All of this post is a cautionary tale to say that these demons haunt us to the end.  And that it's ok.  And hormones are the devil. And most importantly, stay off the interwebs before you're going to deliver a baby, the horror stories you'll google your way towards will make you wish the stork existed.

She's home

Nutmeg is home, safe and sound and beautiful. We are all in love.

I'm doing pretty well for feeling just a few days ago like I was run over by a truck and then having it back up over me again in reverse.  It's all good.

More posts to come.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

And now.... we wait

I cannot believe I am going to write the following words:  I am thirty-nine weeks pregnant.

Yesterday I said farethewell to my office.  My work-husband and friends took me out for lunch and I ate a ridiculous amount of spicy Ethiopian food (PSA - go for mild, the heartburn isn't worth the miniscule chance that you can jump-start labor).  I left all of my work in his capabale hands, and of course asked that he call me as much as possible to keep me in the loop of gossip and brainstorming for the next six months* because OCD.

I see Dr. W on monday, where we will learn whether my cervix of steel (can you believe it?) has budged.  If not, it's a scheduled induction in my future, likely a foley balloon.  You know why I love my doctor?  Because when I asked her for an explanation of the foley balloon, her exact words were "Yeah, it's fucking barbaric."  But waiting for Nutmeg after I hit forty weeks (friday) isn't an option, so barbaric obstetrical tools it may be.  As I write this I have the feeling that nothing is progressing.  Pretty much no braxton hicks going on here.  Viking and I took a walk today while Niblet was taking her ballet classes, and I plan on attempting a sort of modified hike tomorrow.  (And yes, we are attempting to sex this baby out of me and he is a fucking champ for a 47 year old). 

On other fronts, another co-worker just e-introduced me to - check this out - another 43 year old pregnant lady due at the end of January who lives maybe 15 minutes away, if that.  She's a musician and not from this country, and I just emailed her and was all "PLEASE please please be my friend cool musician lady." I know from my go-around with Niblet and PPD and birthing in the cold, dark, dead of winter that the isolation is the worst.  I've learned from those experiences and know that the more coffee dates I can set up after those first few weeks at home, the better I will fare.

So we wait.

* Yes, my leave is six months long.  There will be an essay on this topic, and what an insane stroke of luck I have working for such a generous employer.  My readers outside the US have no idea, I know.

Friday, January 5, 2018

and like *THAT* I'm fine

So I cancelled my chiropractor appointment because my back is miraculously healed.  Fuck if I know how or why.  I am thinking that maybe I did too much lifting last week?  Anyways, my hair color is refreshed, I am back to walking at my usual NYC speed, and things are good besides it being cold enough to freeze your face off outside. 

On other fronts, there's this semi-hilarious thread on the BBC January Birth Board, asking "how old is too old" to be pregnant.  You can just imagine the fun of this exercise.  Lots of 26 year olds on their second or third kid, aghast at the idea of being over 40 with a child.  My favorite response was this:

I am 26 with my second.
I think it's morally wrong to have kids when you reach 35. You need to think about your health and lifestyle instead of changing diapers. I always find it so sad when I see older women pregnant.
It's sick. 

My response:

Things that make me so sad:
 - Abused animals
- Homeless people without shelter in destructive storms
- Children who are abandoned and unloved.
Things that don't make me sad:
- Babies loved and nurtured by parents who happen to be over 35.
Now look,  Niblet will be having a long and hard conversation in her future about embarking on childbirth far sooner than me (if she is so inclined).  Because if I am a carrier for whatever genetic clusterfuck put me here, then she could be one too. 

But this notion that you're decrepit after 35 is sort of hilarious to me, especially since I live in an urban area where there are so many moms, even FTMs over 40.  Our economy is pretty much built on academics and PhDs, it's what you see in these parts.  Do I sometimes pause at the notion of having a kid in college when I'm 60?  Sure.  Am I particularly afraid of the age 60?  Ehhh, surprisingly no. 

"Grandma F doesn't seem 71 at all," Niblet was saying this morning.  "I thought she was in her fifties!  Same with Miss Holly (one of her dance teachers who is 70)."   I've always known that while in some critical ways I drew the genetic short straw, but in others I won the genetic jackpot.  Maybe because I've had too many people ask me if I plan on having another after this one is born.

I just feel so lucky to be in such exceptionally good health.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Dear Maternity Support Belt


And while I'm at it: 

Dear Car Defroster,

You really chose a bad time to stop working.  I hear that clicking sound behind the dashboard and OF COURSE there's nothing I can do about it now, I am certainly not taking you to the mechanic tomorrow when I am getting my hair color refreshed, because, hello, PRIORITIES.

Dear Ice Scraper,

I know you were likely manufactured in a factory in China by shivering starving workers, but you chose a shitty morning to split in half.  I think I threw out my already thrown out back by trying to scrape my windshield this morning using a little scrap of cardboard I found in my trunk. 

Dear Planet,

Stop fucking with me.  A BOMB CYCLONE?  This is what the latest weather system will be called to hit my region.  Are you fucking kidding me????

Monday, January 1, 2018

Dear Niblet (Happy 2018)

It's January 1, 2018, and I am so sorry you have the suckiest cold in the world.  But trust me, seriously, Mommy didn't want to go to that party with Dad anyway, everyone would have been drunk and annoying and I would have had to drive our tired asses home at night, and I'm 43 and my night vision sucks, and my back hurts, and curling up in bed with a trashy romance novel and falling asleep around 11 was TOTALLY the way to go this year.  I didn't lie at all when I told you that I will always be your mommy, and being your mommy includes wiping your snot and giving you tylenol and having your germ-ey self curl up next to me even when I am deathly afraid of catching whatever you have. 

I was staring at you this morning while you were sleeping and trying to breathe, and I couldn't believe I have you, that there's a gentle force in the universe that decided I should be your mother.  I mean, we all joke in our family that you have a face that belongs on a renaissance painting, which is shocking, given it's actually your Dad's goofy face, but so goes the great genetic crapshoot.  You are the reason why I am pregnant right now.  I love you so much - and shockingly I enjoy mothering you so much - that I needed to endure the indignities of pregnancy again.  The panic ridden ultrasounds, the morning sickness, the PIO injections, and now the excruciating pain of walking up a flight of stairs.... all of it is strangely attributable to the love I have for you.

You need to know and feel at your core that you have always been  - and will always be - enough.  There isn't another baby in the world to replace you or enhance you.  I used to wonder whether it was deeply fucked up that I wanted another so badly, because you are enough.  And while I used to get a kick out of imagining you as a big sister, I've never subscribed to the belief that creating siblings are a reason for procreation.  And yet, just a few short weeks away from meeting a sibling, I am excited at how excited you are at the prospect.  Because you will completely rock at this.

No, I think besides the inexplicable feeling that there is someone who has been missing from our household, there's the fact that you made it really fun to have a baby.  Now don't get all cocky, you were actually the most challenging baby in the world - the colic, the crying, the reflux, the temper, oh my god, you were not an easy baby by any stretch.   I had to wear you about 16 hours a day and we blew out a vacuum trying to satisfy your unrelenting need for white noise.  People came over to our house terrified of your colic - those screams.  Oh. My. God. And my PPD didn't help.  But your intelligence, the way you observed the world, jesus, what a trip. And I guess I must be a selfish mother, the ultimate narcissist, because I want to do it again. Despite the upheaval in our home, the craziness we are walking into willingly in our forties, the physical and emotional toll and face it the exhaustion we will all endure to keep another little human alive, here we are.

This will be a new baby, a new personality, a new set of adventures.  And I wouldn't want to embark on this adventure with anyone other than you by my side.  Nutmeg will be the luckiest sister in the world.