I started this blog one year ago. And what a year it’s been.
I admit I have been in quite a funk lately. To the outside observer, I may seem just fine. But those who know me well (my husband, especially) have witnessed my roller coaster moods and bouts of depressing homesickness. I don’t even know if it’s homesickness that is making me this way. I can still blame it on hormones, right?
There are days when I don’t make any phone calls because it’s just too much to think of actually initiating a conversation, but I get sad when nobody calls me. Other days I busy myself with errands and socializing to the point of exhaustion, only to arrive home at my empty, quiet house that hasn’t changed. What was once a sanctuary can now sometimes be an isolated, lonely tower.
This blog has helped immensely. The other day, during Kyle’s nap, I set out to “get things done” but I wound up sitting here at the computer reading my blog from start to finish. It was like somebody else had written it, and I laughed and cried along with myself from the time I got pregnant last year until the very end. I had forgotten the excitement and discomfort of pregnancy, the struggle to get to this very day. I am so happy that I recorded it all. I have always kept a journal, but I was never very consistent. Blogging makes it much easier – after all, it’s far easier for me to type than to write with a pen. The only drawback, I suppose, is that I can’t publish my innermost secrets here, because I know you all are reading. So I hope nobody ever steals my journal, because then I’d be screwed.
So, in my trip down memory lane, I realized that there are posts in which I added teasers that I never satisfied, places where I skipped huge parts of the story, and things that I just want to update for you (myself, I mean). Ready? If you have been reading this blog since the beginning, you’re in for a treat. You’ll feel like one of those people who watched “Friends” from the very start and knew everyone’s storyline and had to explain it to your husband every time he watched it with you.
The Walking Man
The Walking Man, whose name is Mark, still walks (as James Taylor will tell you). But now he’s seen Kyle twice, and he likes to remark to Kyle that he first saw him “in there” (points to my belly).
When I cleaned out my closet during the remodeling process, I counted 35 pairs of shoes in my possession. I even bought more shoes since then. But here’s the terrible thing about it: 95% of those shoes don’t fit me anymore! My feet have gotten bigger since the pregnancy, rendering my cute little sandals and kitten heels and pointy boots unwearable. The only good thing about that is that I will be obliged to go shoe shopping.
It’s a Boy
Yeah, I guess you figured that out. I posted a teaser back at the end of November telling you that I was about to go to my ultrasound that would reveal the rascal’s gender, but I never actually posted the answer. Or the ultrasound pictures, for that matter.
If this were a book or movie, and I had an editor, I would be so fired. One minute I’m posting that my water broke, and the next thing you know there’s a baby in my house. Um, isn’t there a STORY there?
Every mother I met when I was pregnant felt it necessary to share with me the intricate details of her deliveries. Complete with the “I blew out my rectum and couldn’t sit for a year!” type detail. Nice, I know. Made me really excited to go through it all. Apparently giving birth earns you the right to share such things, so now I qualify, and I’m going to bore you with at least the general story and a detail or two.
11:00 PM My water breaks.
11:01 PM I run around the house like an idiot while Stewart watches me groggily from the bed. “I don’t know what to do!” I scream.
“I can’t believe you don’t know what to do…” Stewart moans.
I call the hospital, and they suggest I take a shower, and come in. I take a shower.
11:15 PM I call my parents. It’s 2:15 AM where they are. They don’t answer. I call my brother. He’s still up, partying. He answers the phone with “Are you in labor?” I finally get ahold of my parents, and beg my mother to fly out early. The contractions begin. They’re mild, like menstrual cramps. “I can handle this…” I think.
11:30 PM We’re on our way to the hospital. I’m jumping out of my skin with excitement and fear. Stewart is nonplussed. He is put off, I think, by missing out on timing my contractions. He hadn’t planned for my water to break suddenly. I call my best friends and wake them up.
12:00 AM I’m in my delivery room, gowned up and waiting. The hospital is quiet, clean, and dimly lit. This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for! It is surprisingly calm.
1:00 AM I have been trying to use the calling card I purchased in advance to call my family and friends and let them know what is happening. The hospital had warned me not to use my cell phone from the delivery room and that a calling card was necessary for long distance calls. The card is not working, and nobody in customer service seems to be able to help me. I explain to them that I am in labor and trying to reach people and at the end of my rope but nothing works.
2:00 AM The nurse comes in and sees me crying with the phone in my hand and says “You know, the policy changed. You can use your cell phone.” I call my parents and Katie and Lisa, who agreed to come to the hospital for the birth.
3:00 AM The contractions are getting worse. Stewart is sleeping on a reclining chair next to me, and every so often he wakes and checks on me. He asks me if I want him to massage me, the way he learned in childbirth class. I am not following any of the instructions we learned in childbirth class. “Don’t even TOUCH me!” I hiss at him. I am rigid with pain, not breathing. Exactly the opposite of what we were taught.
4:15 AM The nurse comes in and sees me sucking in my breath and my body stiff and humming. “Do you want me to start your IV?” she asks. “Yes,” I answer gratefully.
5:00 AM The anesthesiologist finishes administering my epidural. I am given a little button to push when I want more. Throughout the ordeal I keep forgetting to push the button and the nurses have to remind me. The epidural takes effect almost immediately, and I thank the nurse and doctor and tell them how much I love this hospital. I remember telling them how we were planning to fire our gardener. I don’t know what that had to do with anything, but hey, I was high. I spend the next eight hours drifting in and out of semi-consciousness, unable to feel anything from the waist down.
7:00 AM Shift change. I am sad because nurse Lori is leaving. I liked her. After the epidural, I loved her. A new nurse is in charge of me, and she is nowhere near as nice. She doesn’t laugh at my jokes. She is all business.
Stewart whiles away the hours watching the Masters Golf Tournament on television. I simply sit in my bed and wish I could drink 10 gallons of water. The nurse checks on me once in a while. The anesthesiologist comes in and asks if he can take a picture of me and my baby once it comes out. He is retiring soon and wants this picture for his scrapbook or something. I joke “as long as I don’t see it on the internet!” I think I’m very funny.
I had packed plenty of things to do during labor. I burned 3 CD’s that I thought could be the soundtrack of the experience. I brought a book, cards, change for the vending machines. I brought cute nightgowns. We didn’t even open the suitcase.
9:00 AM My contractions have lessened in intensity. The nurse calls the doctor, who hasn’t shown up yet. She tells her to give me Pitocin to get labor going back in the right direction.
11:00 AM I am still only 5cm dilated. I have been semi-reclined this whole time. The nurse sits me up, not an easy thing since I can’t feel my legs. She thinks this will help.
12:00 PM In fact, it does. I am 8cm dilated! She says the doctor will be in soon. I call Lisa and Katie and tell them now is a good time to come.
12:30 PM The doctor arrives with her 7 year old son. She asks if I mind. I don’t care. I love her, and I love her son, too. I love everybody, because the epidural is still working. She says it will be time to start pushing soon. I tell her I’ve been having pretty bad heartburn, and she says she will tell the nurse to give me Pepcid via IV and that she will be back.
Katie and Lisa arrive. I barely remember this. I think they went to get food for Stewart at some point. Maybe they will help me with this part of the story.
1:30 PM The nurse checks me cervix and hey guess what! It’s time to “practice” pushing. She employs Stewart to hold my leg. She orders Katie and Lisa to help, too. They are not sure. I haven’t warned them about this. In fact, I wasn’t sure I even wanted them in the delivery room during the actual delivery, but now I don’t care. I just want to get it over with. Katie holds the other leg, and Lisa holds my head.
The monitors have fascinated Stewart since we got here. There are two monitors on my belly – one that registers the baby’s heartrate and one that registers the intensity of my contractions. We have both been comforted by seeing the heartrate, and Stewart enjoys watching the intensity of my contractions. It helps him do his job: counting. When a contraction comes on, he can see it, and he counts to ten. While he is counting, I hold my breath and push like my life depends on it. Which it kind of does, actually.
The nurse has us do a few pushes to get me used to it. I can’t really feel anything so I have to learn how to do it. She pokes her fingers around in there and she has NO sense of humor about it. This actually helps get the job done. She is brutal. “That’s not good enough, Kim, you have to PUSH HARDER or this baby won’t come out!” Well. Nothing like an angry nurse to inspire you.
1:45 PM The nurse declares that we’re doing a good job and she leaves the room. Luckily, Lisa has delivered babies before, so I feel safe. We keep pushing. I am silent during the pushes, completely focused. I think to myself “I CANNOT do this” but not saying it out loud. More than anything, I don’t want to be a screamer and a crier. Stewart is amazed, because he knows how much I hate pain.
2:30 PM The nurse has come and gone more than once. The anesthesiologist isn’t very interested anymore, because suddenly there are C-sections to attend. My heartburn flares up between contractions, and I haven’t been given the Pepcid yet. I cry out for it. “This is ruining my experience!” I yell at the nurse. There is a knock at the door. Someone says “Do not come in this room unless you have Pepcid!” The knocker goes away.
I continue pushing. I have no concept of time. Stewart watches the monitor and calls everyone to attention when a contraction comes. I am sweating, and my ponytail holder has fallen out. I am so thankful that I brought a pillow from home. It has a pillowcase on it that my mother gave to me in a bed set for my birthday when I was a teenager. It’s flowered and ruffly and looks like I’ve had it since I was a teenager.
2:45 PM Lisa holds an oxygen mask up to my face between contractions because the baby’s heartrate is starting to fall while I push. The doctor has joined us and she and the nurse are shouting out orders. The doctor starts to count during pushes but I ask her to let Stewart do it. I am used to his voice, it soothes me.
2:55 PM The baby has crowned. Everyone looks and exclaims that he has “so much hair!” I wonder if that old wives’ tale about a hairy baby giving you heartburn is true. I have gotten my Pepcid but it doesn’t seem to be helping. The nurse tells Stewart to come down here and look at your son. I clutch his arm desperately. “You don’t have to, honey!” I plead with him. I don’t want him to see that area of my body the way it is right now. I mean, I haven’t had a bikini wax in many months. He goes anyway, and he is overwhelmed. “Wow, that IS a lot of hair!” he says, and he doesn’t mean on me.
3:00 PM The nurse drapes everything with sterile blue paper drapes. Since I watched so many episodes of “A Baby Story,” I know that means the baby is about to come out. I am filled with joy and anticipation that I will get to stop doing this. I feel like I won’t make it another second, but I don’t tell anyone. The doctor says “Kim, what did you and I discuss about episiotomies?” SHE DOESN’T REMEMBER?! I remind her that she told me that the chances were less likely for me to get one with HER than with her partner. That doesn’t help. She says she has to give me one anyway. She cuts away. I try not to think about it. My heartburn distracts me.
3:06 PM In one heroic push, the baby’s head comes out. It is accompanied by searing, burning pain. The umbilical cord is draped around his head, so the doctor tells me not to push. DON’T PUSH! BUT I HAVE TO PUSH! I MUST PUSH! Okay, now I can push.
3:07 PM The rest of the baby follows his head, and I feel an amazing sense of deflation and relief such as you will never understand unless you do this, too. The doctor holds my purple child next to her hip like a football. Everyone is freaking out. The baby gives one quick squawk (see earlier post) and then he is quiet. The nurse (and another nurse who has suddenly materialized) whisks him over to the side of the room, out of my eyeline. I can only see the doctor, who is now explaining that she is about to commence sewing up my vagina.
After that everything is a blur, really. Here are some highlights, however:
-Katie, in tears, looks over at me and says “he’s perfect!”
-Since I can’t see him while he’s getting the wipe-down, snot-suck treatment, I call out to Stewart. “What does he look like?! What should we name him?!” Stewart says he looks like a Kyle. (The other name we had considered was Tyler, which beat out Geronimo and For-Real in a heated competition.) Lisa shows me a picture of the baby on the screen of her digital camera so I can see what he looks like. In the picture I think he looks like me.
-I called my parents to tell them the news. My mother had been freaking out for hours. She even called the ward and asked for information about me, even though she knew nobody would tell her anything. I told them “He’s beautiful! He looks just like me!” And then I fell asleep in the middle of a sentence.
-After the smoke cleared and Stewart went with the baby to the after party, I was to be transferred to my post-partum room. The new nurse piled all of my belongings on top of me on the gurney and brought me out into the hallway between Labor & Delivery and Postpartum. Something needed her attention, so she said “I’ll be right back” and left me there. I used my cell phone to call one of my friends.
-Finally in the postpartum room my dinner was waiting for me. It was meatloaf and broccoli and mashed potatoes and ice cream! I was overjoyed, but I took one bite and thought I would instantly barf.
-When the nursery nurse brought Kyle in to see me, I didn’t recognize him. “Are you sure you brought the right baby?” I asked her. I made her check our ID tags to make sure they matched. I really didn’t want to nurse the wrong baby. He looked so different all cleaned up and well rested. He was pink instead of purple. He was calm and blinky. Stewart went home to let Frida out and get some sleep, so Kyle and I had all night to get to know each other, now that he was on the outside.
Sorry I left that whole part out five months ago. It’s so amazing that I’m writing all of this with Kyle watching me, or sitting in my lap. Biology is so incredible, isn’t it?
And lastly, an update. I really think my breast milk supply is dwindling. Kyle is never satisfied anymore, and I never have much left over to pump. I tried to give Kyle some formula today, the same formula he gobbled up in August, but today he shoved it aside with clear distaste. Later, he watched me eat a cinammon roll and looked at me as if to say, “THAT’S what I want, mama!”