My How the Mighty Have Mommified

I’m meeting a friend for dinner and drink(s) in Milwaukee on Friday.  Why in the world is this of any interest to anyone? you ask.  Well, hey, good question.

I’m meeting a friend for dinner and drink(s) in Milwaukee on Friday and I have nothing decent to wear.  I have a pretty okay wardrobe in size 6-8.  I mean, Tom and Lorenzo won’t be featuring me anytime soon, but I could always cobble together a presentable ensemble.  In my current size of: Not-Even-CLOSE-to-Losing-the-Baby-Weight, I have virtually no wardrobe.  Luckily, we’re not going anywhere terribly fancy, just delicious! (TOTALLY not gonna help with that baby weight thing.)

I’m meeting a friend for dinner and drink(s) in Milwaukee on Friday and I have conflicting feelings about it.  Yes, feelingS, plural, about a casual dinner with a friend.  In my past life, those feelings would be easily summed up as: Yay.  But NOW…  Now I feel overly excited because an evening out is such a rare occurrence for me.  And I feel guilty because I’m leaving my husband home alone with the kids all night after leaving him home alone with the kids all day and that can be a lot for one person to handle, especially one person who hasn’t experienced that yet.  And I feel annoyed because I have to figure out how best to work the feeding/pumping thing without disturbing my tenuous supply or exposing my friend to my pump-clad breasts… again.  That’s a disproportionately large amount of feelings to have about a laid back meal with a friend.

I recently read a book called As Good As I Could Be, by Susan Cheever, and it contained this passage:

“To say that having a baby changes your life is a great, great understatement.  Having a baby explodes your life and you may or may not be able to find your old self among the pieces.”

It rang so true that I dog-eared it, in a LIBRARY book, so I could maybe remember to write it down somewhere or something (now I have this great feature instead).  It’s more than pumping and babysitters and weight loss.  It’s a total upheaval of everything you had come to know yourself to be.

Sometimes I get bummed about being boring now.  Sometimes I don’t want this responsibility anymore.  I want to give it back.  I think, I don’t want to be a mom today.  Which you’re totally NOT supposed to think in this society where we are all striving to be the BEST mom.  I think, I used to be fun.  I could have a night out drinking any time I wanted one and blow half a paycheck on cowboy boots.  I could put time/effort/money into my appearance.  I could make plans and decisions based on my own wants and needs.  And most of all, BEST of all, I could SLEEP when I was tired and relax when I was sick. 

Sometimes I truly long for those days.  A coworker tells me they spent a lazy afternoon watching non-cartoon movies on TV, and I am a puddle of envy.  I look at the lives of the people I know who have no children, more money, or both, and I notice the fun things they are up to.  I wonder if they feel kind of sorry for me and my comparatively tedious life.

But I have impromptu 7am dance sessions with a very eager partner.  I am a pirate, a froggy, and magical hurt-healer all in one day.  I know the divine bliss of witnessing a first-ever belly laugh.  I have sustained human life beyond my own for a total of 79 weeks of pregnancy and 12 months of nursing (and counting).  And on Friday night I’m having fajitas and mojitos and I might just get a bit tipsy.  I might even order dessert.

This is a life full of color and motion.

 

Welcome, Corbin

Disclaimer: this is a detailed account of my birth experience.  I have typed it all out here, for me, and in response to Danielle’s comments on this post.  Every birth is an amazing story, and this one is long; longer than the actual labor I think.  If this isn’t your cup of tea, feel free to sit this one out

I was DYING for labor to start.  I am just not good at being pregnant, and by the end of my second pregnancy I was sick, I was in pain, and I wasn’t sleeping.  Every night that I went to bed still pregnant, I was flat out angry about it.  I had lost all sense of humor.

Brian and I got into repeated almost-arguments about it.  I kept crying and telling him the baby would never come.  He kept assuring me with exasperation that that wasn’t really possible.  This angered me.  What angered me more was that he adamantly insisted that the baby would come early.  He could not possibly know this, but he acted like he KNEW.  I’m not sure why that made me so mad, except that EVERYTHING made me mad because I was so crabby.

When I went to bed on the night before I was due (yes, I was this crabby long before my due date even arrived), I cursed him for getting my hopes up.  Here I was, still pregnant.  And now I was hoping to hold off another day or so anyway, so the kids didn’t have to share a birthday. 

In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, I woke up with stomach pain.  I had been having so much indigestion lately that I didn’t think much of it, I tried to fall back to sleep.  It woke me up again.  I really thought it was gas.  I had an unusual labor experience with Lola, so I never experienced the slow build of contractions.  Every single feeling in my abdomen for the last few weeks had me saying, Is this how it starts?  I really didn’t know what to expect.  This mild pain on this early Wednesday morning didn’t feel anything like the intense, excruciating Pitocin-induced contractions of my first labor, so I really thought it was just gas.

I did NOT want to be the crazy woman who showed up to the hospital claiming to be in labor, and then got sent home with indigestion.

But then I started thinking, this discomfort keeps coming and going at fairly regular intervals…odd for gas.  Brian was still awake.  He was up playing video games or whatever he did while I SUFFERED ENDLESSLY with the Hell that is the end of the 3rd trimester.  I tried going to the bathroom and then walking around for a while to see if this feeling went away.  It didn’t.  I spent about 30 minutes wondering whether I should tell Brian “it’s time!”, or just go back to bed.  Finally I let Brian know that SOMETHING might be happening, and I called the hospital Birthing Inn to ask them what they thought I should do.  They paged my Dr.

By the time the Dr called back, the pain was increasing and it was coming regularly, I was sure I was in labor.  On Lola’s birthday, dammit!  My Dr asked me how far apart the contractions were.  I told her I hadn’t been watching the clock because I was scrambling to get presentable-looking and she laughed.  She told me to head in at my leisure.  We called my dad to come for Lola.  By the time he got there, I was doubled over with every contraction.  By the time we were ready to walk out the door, I was struggling with the pain.

How a woman gets through labor pains is a pretty individual thing.  I had read a book or two about childbirth in the hopes of somewhat preparing myself for the med-free labor and delivery that I so sincerely wanted this time.  But I didn’t have the time or money to take any classes or anything.  I just did whatever felt like the right thing whenever I needed to.  In the beginning that was rocking on all fours while Brian compressed my pelvis with all his strength or rubbed my low low back area. 

It’s a primal feeling.  The pain would overtake me, and there was nothing but the pain, and I would become just my pain.  Normal human decency goes out the window with the pain.  Whatever position seemed like it might help was assumed.  Whatever I wanted from someone else was barked out in as few words as possible.  Everything becomes as efficient as it can be because all energy is spent dealing with the contraction until it subsides.  I discovered that having contractions in the car is pretty brutal; there is no comfort.  I estimated how many minutes it would take to get to the hospital and how many contractions would happen in that time.  MATH!?  While I’m going through THIS!?  UGH! 

But then the pain would go away for a few minutes, and I was back to feeling excited and being able to carry on a conversation.  I reminded Brian that I would PROBABLY beg for an epidural at some point, and he was to tell me no.  He wasn’t really down with this idea, but I really needed him to remind me, later, when the pain would get so bad that I would be unable to cope, that I REALLY wanted to do this naturally.

I got into my hospital room and immediately asked the nurses if I could get in the big jacuzzi tub.  They seemed hesitant.  What the EFF is the point of the brand new Birthing Inn with the big new jacuzzi tubs if you don’t want anyone to use them!?  But I didn’t want to be a difficult patient, so I waited for my Dr.  My Dr verified with me that I wanted to do this with no meds at all.  Are you sure?  Because it might get too late in a hurry.  Well, how could I be SURE sure?  Yes, I really think I can do it.  But what if there are complications at the last minute and things get extra painful and now it’s too late?  Well, no one ever died from pain, right?  RIGHT!?

I had been conditioned by many things in my life to believe that having a natural birth in a hospital was next to impossible these days.  They’re all just dying to pump you full of drugs and cut you open!  Even my own first birthing experience had left something of a sour taste in my mouth.  But as soon as I made my intentions clear to Dr. Robinson, she nixed the IV and told them to fill up the jacuzzi.  Take that, Ricki Lake!  I love Dr. Robinson.

I labored in the tub for a while.  It was okay.  It wasn’t the magic pain reliever I thought it would be.  Soon, the contractions were getting too painful, and I wanted more freedom of movement, so I got out of the tub.  I tried the birthing ball for a while.  I knelt over it.  I bounced on it.  The sitting on it while bouncing up and down actually was surprisingly helpful.  Maybe that’s why Corbin likes bouncing so much!  The Dr. examined me again, and here was the news I feared. You’re baby’s facing the wrong way. Try kneeling on all fours for a while to see if you can get him to turn around.  Ah!  So THIS is what back labor feels like!  I knelt on all fours and hoped like Hell he would turn.

The pain was getting so bad.  Brian rubbed my lower back, or he squeezed my hips together like a vice, or he pushed really hard on my tailbone area (I think this is called counter pressure).  These things helped a little, but a little help is not much of a dent in the pains of later labor.  I tried visualizing relaxing things: swimming in a tranquil sea with a graceful polar bear (yeah, that’s weird, but it’s my happy place), my body opening up to let my beautiful baby into this world, my breath blowing the pain away.  None of this took any pain away.  But I knew enough to know that getting tense and crazy would only make the pain worse and I had to find a way to keep my body loose through the contractions so they could do their job.

I told the nurse I couldn’t kneel anymore; I HAD to lie down.  She examined me.  9 centimeters!  I was almost there!  They kept telling me to let them know if I felt like I wanted to push.  For the duration, I couldn’t figure this concept out.  Of COURSE I wanted to push, I wanted this pain to go away!  EVERY molecule wanted the pain to go away.  I still don’t know what feeling they were referring to.

Dr. Robinson examined me.  And this was the worst moment.  The nurse was mistaken.  I was 7.5cm.  I told the Dr. how demoralizing that was.  She agreed.  But she also told me that meant it was too early to be totally losing my head with every contraction.  I had to find a way to stay calm.  She recommended NOT closing my eyes during the contractions, that puts you alone with your pain.  I couldn’t keep them open.  I fell back on my trick from my first birth experience- the shower.

I got in the shower and alternated standing and sitting.  I had Brian take the shower head and spray my belly, then my back, then my chest.  I was barely barking out single word commands.  In between the contractions, I was just so exhausted.  I just had an overwhelming feeling that I wanted to take a nap.  I whined to Brian like a small child, I don’t wanna be in labor anymore.  I told him that I didn’t think I could do it.  And then I had a contraction that was considerably worse than anything I had felt yet.  I couldn’t control myself.  I yelled and moaned and the nurses came in and brought me back to bed.  I think, in retrospect, that was when the baby finally turned around.

Some women swear that birth was joyous and they felt no pain.  Others acknowledge the pain, but qualify it as Not That Bad.  I am neither of those women.  My experience has been- it f***ing hurts!  I was blessed by the fact that this labor was going quickly; the whole thing took about 5 hours. 

I screamed that I wanted to push the baby out!  There was a rush to get the bed ready and the room ready and everything ready for the big moment.  I was completely lost in the pain by this time.  I yelled a lot and I think I cried.  Brian claims I hit him (I have no recollection of this).  I gave a strong push and HOLY CRAP!  I had heard that the actual pushing-the-baby-out part was a welcome relief from the pain.  Not in my book!  This was a pain beyond pain, but there was no going back now.  There was a moment where they told me to wait while he was crowning, they were trying to prevent the tearing as best they could.  I begged them to just pull him out of me; I can’t do this!   They had to keep reminding me, You ARE doing it. 

And then I pushed the baby out.

And there he was.  I noticed his big cheeks and his orange-yellow hair first.  This was the little person I’d been dying to meet.  This was the boy who would make Lola a Big Sister and turn Us into a family of four.  I had had reservations about having a boy.  But when I held that little bundle on my chest, I was overwhelmed with love and gratitude-my son!

 

The Language of the Brag

I have wanted excellence in the knife-throw,
I have wanted to use my exceptionally strong and accurate arms
and my straight posture and quick electric muscles
to achieve something at the centre of a crowd,
the blade piercing the bark deep,
the haft slowly and heavily vibrating like the cock.

I have wanted some epic use for my excellent body,
some heroism, some American achievement
beyond the ordinary for my extraordinary self,
magnetic and tensile, I have stood by the sandlot
and watched the boys play.

I have wanted courage, I have thought about fire
and the crossing of waterfalls, I have dragged around

my belly big with cowardice and safely,
my stool black with iron pills,
my huge breasts oozing mucus,
my legs swelling, my hands swelling,
my face swelling and darkening, my hair
falling out, my inner sex
stabbed again and again with terrible pain like a knife.
I have lain down.

I have lain down and sweated and shaken
and passed blood and feces and water and
slowly alone in the centre of a circle I have
passed the new person out
and they have lifted the new person free of the act
and wiped the new person free of that
language of blood like praise all over the body.

I have done what you wanted to do, Walt Whitman,
Allen Ginsberg, I have done this thing,

I and the other women this exceptional
act with the exceptional heroic body,
this giving birth, this glistening verb,
and I am putting my proud American boast
right here with the others.

Husbands and Housework

I admit it: I’m one of the martyrs.  It’s not a shocking admission.  I am not quiet about my suffering.  I am guilty of bitching like crazy complaining politely about all of my many responsibilities while whining obnoxiously mentioning that my dear husband seems to have far fewer responsibilities.

And really, I am stretched too thin.  Just like most mothers who are not wealthy enough to hire a full staff of helpers.  It’s a lot of work to be responsible for a whole group of people every second of every day.  Especially when one of those people refuses to ever be put down, ever, and another shows her resentment of this fact in totally inappropriate ways.  Especially when you have the added stress of working full time (on the opposite schedule of your husband) and still just getting by and being the one in charge of all the financial stuff.  Plus, just the fact that I AM overwhelmed by my responsibilities makes me feel like a failure right off the bat.  ‘Cause my mom did all this.  And so did her mom.  And they did it so well, back before husbands were EXPECTED to help with the dishes.  At least, that’s how it’s always seemed to me.

I was all prepared last week to create a post about the inequities in marriage.  What happens to otherwise helpful husbands when the kids arrive that suddenly shifts all the work to the Mom?  My theory: they’re still helping just as much, it’s just that the AMOUNT of work has increased dramatically.  So, percentage-wise…you get the picture.  Which is why they feel like you’re nagging too much, and YOU feel like you’re nagging too much without any perceptible results.

But then, I took this very cute picture yesterday:

That is Brian, not only cleaning the kitchen, but keeping Lola entertained AND teaching her how to help clean as well.  And that was before he cooked a delicious meal for us plus company.  And then did a lot of the cleanup from that, did the whole bedtime routine thing with Lola, handwashed all my pump parts so they’d be dry and ready in the morning, and volunteered to take the baby in the middle of the night when he was fussing.  I didn’t take him up on that offer, but he did offer without any discernible huffing.

When I think about it- I’ve never had company planned without Brian helping a great deal with the preparation.  I am never made to feel guilty when I go out with friends (I DO feel guilty, but it’s not his fault).  I rarely pump my own gas, I have taken our garbage to the curb exactly ONCE since we moved into our house 4 1/2 years ago, etc. etc. ad nauseam.  I don’t really have it so bad.

I do have more to do than I can find the time for.  And honestly, the responsibility sharing is not 50/50; I don’t know that it ever will be, and I’m not sure how I feel about that being the reality for the vast majority of households.  But we’re both working so hard and giving so much of ourselves to this monumental task of raising a family.  My husband deserves a pat on the back just like I do.  Thanks, Baby!  (even though I totally know you’re STILL not reading this!) 

—–

In other news from the weekend…

I love to bake.  I have less time for it lately (see preceding paragraphs), but I tried my hand at it this weekend.  I made Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownies that I saw at Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives.  I had the help of a lovely assistant:

 

 I wonder if Julia Child ever had to put her assistant in timeout for flagrant sink splashing?

I was a little disappointed with my results.  I don’t know if I underbaked them; I feared the edges were starting to look overdone, but most of it ended up soggy when I cut into it.  They tasted good though, and this morning, when I woke up, the consistency was much better after sitting overnight.  And I ate at least 3 pieces, just to be sure.  🙂

A Public Service Announcement

I know plenty of preggos right now and I want you to follow this piece of advice:

Record your baby’s birth.

Some of you are probably thinking “duh, what sort of cretin would FAIL to record the BIRTH OF THEIR CHILD!?”  And some of you are probably thinking, “yeah, I don’t really need repeat viewings of me being cranky and sweaty and on gory display, thanks.”  I was one of the latter.  I didn’t want to watch the baby come out.  When the nurse suggested that I might want to feel the baby’s head as it was crowning, I thought the nurse’s head should maybe be checked.

Recently, Brian suggested that if we ever have another baby, I should have them put up the mirror for me to watch.  Um…thanks but no thanks.  First of all, now that I’m on the med-free L&D bandwagon, I think it is difficult enough to FEEL that happening to my body, I don’t think I could bear to WATCH it happen, too.  But also, YUCK, right?  I really do appreciate the miracle of birth, but visually… I can’t even watch the videos of other women.  It’s just … not aesthetically pleasing I’m just gonna go ahead and say it- it’s kinda gross.

And he said, well, maybe I could just videotape it, for you to watch later if you want to.  And again I was pretty sure that was just not something I needed to see from any perspective other than the one I lived through the first time.  But then…

You go through all the work of pregnancy.  The swelling and the back pain and the vomiting and the sleeplessness and the exquisite pain of seeing that happen to your body. Eventually you pray for labor to start, SOON!  And then, there is the labor.  Labor is work!  Plus it’s a little mortifying, having everyone and their brother seeing you in all that…glory.  And then you push the baby out. And you feel like this might be a feat you just can’t accomplish. And maybe you yell “someone just pull him out of me!” (oh, just me? okay then.)  And you worry about swearing or tearing or pooping on the table (!) or cutting off all blood flow to your huband’s fingers.  And then…there it is.  Now is the moment when that amazing, beautiful being suddenly enters this world, and through your delirium or your pain or your exhaustion, you hear that amazing, beautiful cry.

That might be something you want to remember.

And the first time you hold your son or daughter.  And the look on your husband’s face. 

You think you’ll never forget these things.  I’m devastated to admit that a lot of it’s already fuzzy from Lola’s birth.  Corbin’s birth is still pretty clear, and I think “how could I EVER forget these sublime moments of humanity?”  But really, the haze of motherhood makes remembering even your own phone number sort of a challenge.  (And really, don’t even try asking for my social security number unless you have a few minutes to wait while I start telling you my husband’s and then my checking account number and then, wait! maybe this is it!)  So now I’m wishing we were having another just so I can have that damn video.  Sure, you’ll be later embarrassed by moments like these:

nothing says sexy and sophisticated like a hospital gown, an IV pole, boot socks and slippers. Hi Matty. 

welldeserved big

me, stuffing my face with McDonalds shortly after giving birth.

But it’s pretty much made worthwhile by ones like these:

IMG_0170 

Lola, a few seconds after being born.

Moments after nursing my very first baby for the very first time.

Good stuff that I wish I could remember better.

Also, book the expensive newborn photography.  I mean it.   You can always cancel later, but I don’t want you to spend hours crying one day because your baby is getting big so fast and now it’s too late (I totally did that.)

Trust me.  I’m giving you pearls of wisdom here, people.

I am so sleep deprived….

…that I was halfway through brushing my teeth the other day before I realized I was using a tiny, Tigger-shaped toothbrush.

…that Corbin’s medicine, which requires refrigeration, had to be refilled THREE times in the first month due to me leaving it on the counter.  I wonder what I was putting in the fridge.

…that people do a double take and say “you must be tired!”  Translation: You look like crap, lady; couldn’t you at least make an effort on your hair?

…that I repeatedly turn off my alarm without any knowledge of this occurring.

…that when I sit down to go to the bathroom, I spend a few moments questioning whether I REALLY need to get back up now, and another few moments finding the motivation to do so.

…that I’ve been meaning to talk to Brian about some things after the kids go to bed for the last WEEK AND A HALF, but I never make it ALLL the way to 8:30 with my thinking and conversing skills intact.

Meanwhile, here is a photo of the men in my family:

Lucky Basterds.  (yes, I can spell, I am just SO IN LOVE with this movie).

What sort of sleepless antics have you been up to?

The Happiest Part

Corbin is kind of a morning person.  I actually was too, back when my mornings weren’t preceded by MAYBE 5 or 6 hours of sleep captured in 20-30 minute increments.  I believe I mentioned that he really digs the bathroom rug.  Well, he REALLY digs it.  And every morning when I get ready for work, he lies there (yes, its lies, I checked, cause I really wanted to type lays.   Why is that one so hard for me?) and we just smile at each other.  I would imagine that sounds like a THRILLING morning to the majority of folks, lol. 

But yes, first I change his diaper.  This is his second favorite thing, and the thing that starts the smiles.  I sit by him, and I smile at him, and he smiles even BIGGER.  Until eventually I have to get up and start getting ready, because HELLO- I leave for work before 7.  But we continue the smile exchange.  For once, I don’t feel all awkward smiling like a weirdo while I put my blush on.  (I do, however, still feel like a weirdo when I get 3 inches away from the mirror and do that open-mouthed, stupid face that somehow makes the mascara go on better.)

He has to take reflux medicine every morning.  Which he HATES. HATES.  And I feel like such a rat as he smiles at me while I get ready to shove that stuff in his mouth that makes him spit and gag and cough and cry.  And then I’m all- Look, here’s the bathroom rug! <smile>, ..aaannd..we’re right back at it.  🙂

I tried to photograph this today.  Because seriously, a baby who looks cute when he smiles?  This is earth shattering stuff!  But every time I held up the camera…nothin.  After acting like a complete idiot and trying to trick my infant into smiling for my blog, I finally remembered that- HELLO! Work! 7am! 

I think it would be awesome to be SO. DELIGHTED. by the wonders of a bathroom rug or a diaper change.  Alas, my delight requires something more sophisticated.  Like a 2 for one sale on Crystal Light.  Or opening my sock drawer and actually finding a matching pair of socks in a color somewhat close to the one I need.  Or a smiling baby who distracts me for so long that I never really manage to get my hair curled.  It’s the happiest part of my workdays.

Allow me to introduce…

Okay, so I know the only people likely to read this are my husband and maybe my friend Matty (oh, who am I kidding?  My husband probably won’t read this blog.)  But just in case someone comes upon this someday who HASN’T known me for the last decade or two (or three, hi Mom!)  (oh, who am I kidding?  My mom TOTALLY won’t read this blog.), I am going to make my first real post one where I introduce my kids.  They are likely to be the subject of most of this blog anyway.

Lorelai (aka: Lola Bean, Beaner, Beanarino, or Poopsie but ONLY Grandma can call her Poopsie):

Lola is 3 years old and she’s a pistol!  On the one hand, I sometimes wish she weren’t so difficult.  On the other, I am stoked about being able to use the phrase “she’s a pistol” in an appropriate context. 

She enjoys Candyland, macaroni and cheese (though she’s starting to branch out to other types of noodles), cartoons of all kinds, whatever half-assed crafts her mom manages to come up with and hurriedly implement, asking endless streams of questions, and going to preschool. (Okay, I actually don’t know for SURE that she enjoys preschool cause she doesn’t give me much info on that front, but judging by the fact that she actually uses the toilet for THEM, I assume she likes it at least as much as her homelife.)

Lola entered my life and changed it forever.  She is smart, funny, passionate and mischievious.  She is also Big Sister to:

Corbin (NO, we didn’t just make that name up off the tops of our heads, and NO, I won’t tell you where we got it from cause I’m afraid you’ll make fun of me):

Corbin is… well, for starters, he’s a boy!  I KNOW!  While that seems rather less than unique to many people I’m sure, coming from a girl with only a sister and roughly 4 thousand girl cousins, it’s kind of a head scratcher. On the one hand, I’m not craaazy about all of the annoyances that the whole penis thing entails. On the other, this short little strawberry-blonde boy hair is totally my new favorite thing!

Corbin enjoys hanging out on the bathroom rug, having his diaper changed, waking up between 3 and 4 every morning and laughing about it, and crying when my boobies go away.

He’s just about 3 months old now, and I can’t wait to see the little person he turns into.  And by that of course I mean kid; I have no reason to believe that he will be an actual Little Person.

I’m looking forward to updating this blog with our tales of adventure.