Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween 2011

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. People who know that it is also my birthday assume it is because of that. However, my birthday never made much of a positive impression on me. Halloween, on the other hand, did.
My little China girl.

It was never about the candy either. Every year we'd have to throw the previous year's candy out so I could use my bucket again. For me it was all about the fantasy. For one day you could be anything you wanted. Dress any way you wanted. And no one could fault you. As a child who would have dressed up every day if allowed, this permission was priceless. Not only that, but you were encouraged, required even, to go out and show off to as many people as you could find.

I was thrilled that my birthday was also on this special day. Growing up I knew I had the best birthday ever. It made me special. I never felt very special in any other way, and those feelings were reinforced by most people I knew. But my special birthday was something no one could take from me. And aside from two very bad years in a very bad town in Minnesota, no one ever tried. (Those people were evil, horrible creatures that I may or may not choose to write about at a later date.) Most people I've encountered have thought my birthday is as cool as I do.

Two years ago I got the best answer to the day's question of "Trick or Treat?" Although some days I'm not sure which one I got. On Halloween in 2009, my beloved little girl made her debut at 4:50 pm. In her honor I channeled my inner poet. Here's the result.

Two years past this night
our beautiful daughter
made a grand entrance.

The past two years have been the most rewarding of my life. You are the first of my life's greatest and only meaningful achievements. No career could be as important as that of being your Mommy. I look forward to another year of adventure with you and your sidekick, baby brother Wriggly.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Last Sunday was a fun-filled adventure day. I borrowed an Ergo from a friend (best thing ever, does anyone want to get me one?) and wore Wriggly around the whole day, except for the short time that I put Squiggle in it and carried him. I felt like Supermom or Rani Lakshmibai.
My husband posted this photo as how he sees me. Sweet, yes?
However, when I woke up Monday morning I was in pain. Breathing was difficult and I felt like someone had hit me in the ribs with a baseball bat. I went to the chiropractor and resolved to wake up feeling healed on Tuesday. It didn't happen.

Tuesday morning I added a pain in the neck that matched the one in my ribs/back. The weird thing was that it was all on the right side. My left side felt fine. I decided to rest for the day and parked my bottom in my recliner to do just that. Tuesday night I realized that there was no way that I could walk upstairs, and even if I could I probably wouldn't be able to lie down. So my recliner got some extra time with me.

I managed to sleep about two hours when an incredibly painful cramp in my back brought me wide awake. It felt like a Charlie horse in my mid-back. I could only take shallow, excruciating breaths. I woke Bug up.

Wriggly was in my lap sleeping. I couldn't move to get him re-latched so we had to wake my mom up and bring her downstairs to hold him while we tried to figure out what to do. Bug wanted me to go to the hospital. I just wanted the pain to stop and breath to return. It seems the inability to breathe is worrisome and unpleasant. It did give me a chance to practice my Bradley relaxation techniques though. I kept telling myself not to panic remembering that panic is what ends up killing people in desperate situations.

I decided that I had to go to the doctor but didn't know what to do with my nursling. Even though it's been a while since I've been to an ER, I doubt they've gotten faster at seeing patients. I put in a call to my midwife/LLL leader/massage therapist friend. I figured she'd be the most likely to give me advice about what to do with Wriggly while reassuring me that what I was experiencing wasn't life threatening. I really wanted to be talked out of going. I wouldn't have been able to move myself, so we most likely would have had to call an ambulance. I would have been wearing only a bra since I couldn't move to put on a shirt. And the bill. I really didn't want the bill.

She told me that they probably wouldn't do anything but give me painkillers. (Doing nothing to address the problem.) Since they don't know me they would probably dismiss my reaction to the pain as overreaction and not take me seriously. In my experience doctors are dismissive of patients and that's one of the reasons I avoid going to them whenever possible.

She recommended that I try to tough it out and go see a chiropractor in the morning. After discussing it with my husband we decided to try that.

I sent everyone else to sleep and stayed up watching a marathon or "Kidnapped" on Netflix. In the morning I called my chiropractor. He told me to come in before lunch to have his undivided attention. He worked with me and using ice, the TENS machine and the wall I got adjusted a bit. He told me that based on my symptoms he suspected an out of place rib and a torn muscle. He told me I would get some relief soon, but that it wouldn't get noticeably better until Friday. His predictions have been accurate in the past so I think he's probably right about this as well.

Today is the first day that I've been able to take a half of a normal breath without a stabbing pain, so that is improvement. I can also sit and just exist without agony. So that is good too. It is the first time I've been able to type so that is why you're getting this update.

I still don't get out of the chair without help, and I haven't had a shower in days. I hope to get one today with Bug's help. At least I can make it to the toilet and am not forced to use a bedpan again. I don't prefer doing that. We have a party tomorrow for a combo Squiggle's birthday and meet Wriggly. I'd like to be able to move for that, even if I won't be able to clean for it. I miss holding my baby. The past few days we've been forced to use the Boppy to prop him on my lap. I miss snuggling him on my chest. On the other side, Squiggle has spent much more time sitting with me on my chair. So there have been some near-cuddles there.

I am counting on my chiro to be correct that by tomorrow I'll merely be in pain and not agony. I'm tired of being immobilized and want my family fun back.

Apologies for anything that doesn't make sense. My neck pain is getting intense so I am posting without proofreading.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Three Weeks and Change

My darling little boy is three weeks and three days old. He is wonderful. I'm loving almost every minute right now. Wriggly is happy if he is snuggled up to me, especially if he is nursing. The only time he is unhappy while I hold him is when he has gas pain. That is not fun and I sincerely hope he masters his intestines soon.

One of my fears has proven unfounded so far. When I was pregnant I was concerned about jealousy. Squiggle never liked me to hold other babies. Holding another child was about the only way I could get her to sit in my lap. But she has not had a problem with the attention I give Wriggly. In fact we've had the opposite problem. She gets upset when she can't hold him. As she is not quite two, she cannot be trusted to hold him unaided. We don't always have the time to assist her so she doesn't get to hold him as much as she'd like. He's not too fond of it either.

He is the baby I wanted. I love my daughter but her infancy was a nightmare. She had severe "colic" and we spent 5 1/2 months with a baby who slept less than ten hours a day and spent most of her waking time screaming. But her story is a different story. The point is with her I felt robbed. Everything was a battle. Breastfeeding, sleep, even poop. She was in pain for most of her first six months of life. And we all felt it. I desperately wanted that snuggly, sleepy, smiley baby that everyone else seemed to have. Instead we were in purgatory. As wonderful as she has been the past 1 1/2 years, I have mourned missing out on the newborn bliss. Now I have that.

I am clearly his favorite person. I do realize that it is partly biological. After all, I am his food source. But when I smell his delicious newborn scent with his head buried in my neck I feel loved. When I look down at his closed-eye smile with his head or hand resting on my breast, it seems more than just biology.

Before his birth I couldn't imagine loving another child as much as I love my daughter. She is so wonderful that it just didn't seem possible. Now, it does.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Denoument

So here's where we're at. I'm sitting on my toilet holding my slippery and none-too-happy newborn. Bug is on the phone with the midwife. I ended up not laboring in my tub, not attended by my midwife, throwing up and probably pooping (I was a bit preoccupied so I'm not sure) and giving birth on a toilet. But after his head was out and before his body was, he was silent. That was the moment that I realized what truly belonged on my list. I wanted a healthy baby. The rest was just icing.

I ended up getting in the tub to spend some time there. It also seemed like a better place to have the placenta come out than on the toilet. The water was warm and nice and I just got to lounge there holding my slightly odd-looking son. (Sorry Wriggly, but you were an odd sort of beautiful.)

While we waited we decided to get out the camcorder and make a video to document the event. I'm glad we did because it helped cement the events in my memory and also gave us a record of what happened. Then we just waited for our midwife and photographer to arrive.

Wriggly snuggled and started nursing while we waited. Around 4:45 the placenta came out and a few minutes later my midwife came in. We chatted a while and then she started her thing. That's when I realized that the main use for a birth attendant is in case something goes wrong. She checked Wriggly and then checked me. Everything was fine. I did have some retained membranes, but she wasn't too concerned and said we should just be aware of it.

She offered to take Squiggle to Pinkpeas, the parenting center she runs, so that we could get some sleep. Squiggle came into the room as I was about to fall asleep. She gave us a big smile and left happily. I snuggled around my new baby and we slept.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Oh, What a Night.... (or Labor Begins)

Late September, the 27th to 28th to be exact.

I talked about my "practice" contractions in a previous post. The short version is that Tuesday I went to a friend's house. I started having them again, but they were a bit more painful. She told me that I was in labor. I denied it. It turns out denial is a great way to handle labor.

After leaving her house I went out to get some groceries. Then I came home and dealt with an exceptionally whiny toddler. Actually it was more a tantrum. Something about wanting me to "open" stickers. It was very frustrating, but provided an excellent distraction from the slightly less annoying contractions.

After Daddy came home the early night was pretty uneventful. Squiggle calmed down and went to bed. I had some cottage cheese. We watched an episode of SG1 on our projector. Then we decided to go to bed.

I was tired. Contractions, even or especially practice ones, are draining. So are upset toddlers. The contractions were slightly painful, but very irregular. Following advice that so many women don't. I decided to try to get some sleep. They'd either fade away or build momentum, and I had no say either way. If they were real I'd find out soon enough.

Around 1ish I gave up trying to sleep. They were still irregular, but painful enough that sleep wasn't going to happen. Knowing that labor can be a long process I decided to get things ready. Keeping busy is supposed to be helpful in early labor.

At this point I thought it was probably the real thing. But I still didn't want to call anyone. After all, labor has been known to stop. I didn't want to wake anyone in the middle of the night and then have it be a false alarm. This included my husband. I wanted him well-rested for when I needed him. I was regretting not having him set the birth tub up earlier. (Another reason to pay attention to your instincts. I almost suggested it, then didn't.)

I pulled the tub out and realized that I couldn't set it up myself. I decided to find birth tub info online. That's when I found the Internet connection was out. I sat around a while and decided to wake him up. You see, one of my fears was not having the tub ready for when I needed it. I knew I wanted to labor in the tub. (Other fears included having a short and consequently incredibly painful labor, that my midwife wouldn't make it in time, pooping or throwing up during labor (silly I know, but honest), giving birth on a toilet like those "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant" women, having to transfer to the hospital and something happening to my baby.)

He stumbled downstairs and set it up while still half asleep. I guess my labor had picked up some. I managed to climb upstairs and get towels and my "barf" bin. It was painful enough that I decided not to do that again. From then on I sent Bug to collect the things I thought I'd need during labor.

While the tub was filling up I sat on my birth ball timing my contractions. They were still irregular, lasting anywhere from 45 seconds to 1 1/2 minutes, having as much as nine minutes between to coming with no break. I believe it was during the 2 o'clock hour that I broke down and called my midwife.

I described my contractions and said that I thought I was in labor. She said she agreed and said that I'd see my baby sometime "today or tomorrow." Inside I groaned at the thought of doing this through an entire day. I even told her that if early labor was this bad I didn't know if I could handle active labor and transition. She said that her alarm was set for 6am and that I should call her back then to check in. If anything changed, like my contractions settling into a pattern or water breaking or just needing to talk to her, I should call sooner. Finally, she told me to eat something light, in case my nausea during the peaks of the contractions caused me to revisit the meal.

Bug made me some consomme because I thought that I'd be able to keep it down. I never got the chance. During one particularly nasty contraction I lost everything I'd eaten in the past half day. After that food lost a bit of its appeal.

Time passed. The contractions were pretty horrible. Between them I thought that I was the biggest wimp in the world, during them I thought I'd die. I kept thinking of the dreaded transition and how I'd never survive it. After all, I was experiencing things in early labor that matched the description of transition. I started trying to walk, roll or squirm away from the contractions. The half-filled tub looked heavenly to me. Even though I knew that getting in the tub too early could cause problems, I decided I was getting in. Of course I knew that I shouldn't use my labor techniques until I had to, that I should try to keep up with normal activities until I couldn't anymore, but I didn't care. I was in pain!

So I decided that I'd go to the bathroom before getting in the tub. I intended to be in there for hours until my baby was born and I didn't want to pee or poo in the tub that I'd then have to sit in. As soon as I sat on the toilet my contractions came one on top of another. Needless to say I was not happy with my choice. I'm pretty sure I started crying. It was so intense that I knew I couldn't change position. I was stuck.

I felt like I had to go to poop. That's when I realized that I was further along in my labor than I thought, much further along. While I thought the irregularity of the contractions meant that I was in early labor I was wrong. That assumption caused me to ignore the signs of transition. Even when I thought that I felt like I was in transition I discounted it.

Once I felt the urge I realized that it wasn't poop that needed to come out, it was a baby. I screamed for my husband to come downstairs. I really can't say that I pushed, that implies a conscious effort. My body convulsed a couple of times and my baby's head was out. I was nervous because there was no sound or movement. Then a slight movement made me less worried.

That was about the time my husband got to me. He asked me, wide-eyed, what he should do. I shouted at him that he should call Corrine. He went to get the phone and the baby came out. I said, "Come in here and see your son."

As I've been writing this for over a week, I'll stop here and publish this. The rest will come later. Probably. I'm fairly tired and one-handed these days.