Monday, October 27, 2008

We might keep her after all

So, we got a good baby with a (mostly) sweet personality, an affinity for good sleeping, and the prettiest face you've ever seen in your life. I think that was just too much goodness in one kid, so they introduced a defect. My child is the spit-up queen. She went through four onesies yesterday, and one already today, by 7:00 in the morning. I've given up on even keeping myself clean. As long as it's not too wet or cold, I just leave the bespitted shirt on because it's only going to happen again in half an hour. The pediatrician and everyone else assures me that she's totally fine. This is normal! Don't worry!

Well, I'm not worried, but my knees are getting sore from all the time I spend on the floor, scraping up my dignity.

Oh, who am I kidding? I couldn't care less. Except for when it gets smelly. Remember what I said about neck folds.

I did care a little bit yesterday when I was at church. I looked down and saw that my pants (the only pair of fit-for-the-public pants I can wear without irritating my incision) had faint little spots here and there, all across the front. I put them on yesterday morning, thinking they were perfectly clean. That's what I get for dressing in the dark.

Church Friend's Friend stopped by yesterday with her husband and three seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I've never been much into TV, with the exception of my few favorite shows, but breastfeeding makes it a necessity. What did nursing mothers do before there was TV?

(I spend a lot of time talking to Grace and cooing at her when she's eating, but I can only do that for so long. Nursing, for me at least, is not this blissful bonding experience in which the rest of the world disappears, and it's just me and my baby. It's sweet for three minutes, and then I become totally bored. And so does Grace. She really likes to fall asleep at the wheel. And by "wheel" I mean "boob". Anyway, TV is saving my life. If I had a book stand or something, I suppose I could read books, but nursing an octopus requires both hands. She gets so excited about eating that she squirms and flails and loses her latch if I don't keep a vice-like grip on her. Just like her mother (uh, with the excitement over eating, not the nursing). Gluttony: it's genetic!)

So. Buffy. Love it. And I'm in fresh TV episodes for a long time now. So thanks, CFF!

Also, the two of them spent a long time oohing and aahing over the baby, and holding her, so James and I got a break, and our egos got stroked, and everyone was happy.

And why is it that when people think my baby is cute, I take it as a personal compliment? This makes no sense. Especially since she looks nothing like me. (Yet. Except for the nose. She totally has my nose.) It makes me even happier than when people compliment my own appearance. If someone can explain this to me, I would appreciate it.

The child ate last night at 11:30. I put her to bed at 12:30. No crying or anything, so she either went to sleep right away, or she amused herself somehow until she did fall asleep. She woke up at 6:30 this morning. Six. Thirty. Oh my gosh. This is why I don't mind the spit-up so much. I have a four-week-old that sleeps six hours at a time.

(And I'm not freaking out about that anymore. I've been reassured that this is totally okay, too, as long as she's exhibiting healthy growth and behavior. And boy is she.)

I highly recommend having an enormous baby if you can.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Munchable, crunchable HUMAAAAN!

Yesterday sucked. Since I woke up so early and couldn't go back to sleep, I spent the entire day in a trance. A very grouchy trance. I thank my lucky stars every day for a patient husband. He would have left long ago if he were a lesser man. I'm a real pill to live with when I'm tired. It's a good thing maternal love is so very, very strong, or the baby might have been put out on the porch all day yesterday. Not that she did anything wrong. She's just so demanding, with the feeding and the burping and the changing and the entertaining. All I wanted to do was lie on the couch and sleep. And eat. Always with the eating.

Yesterday I didn't even shower. Yuck. First day since mid-hospital stay that I haven't showered. We did take a walk. I'm glad we went a little before school got out, or the high school kids might have wondered what was with the greaseball homeless lady pushing a stroller around school grounds. I promise you this is a real baby in here, not a tin can sculpture or a used-up mop head. And this stroller was a gift! Honest! I didn't steal it!

Anyway, the weather is getting much, much colder all of a sudden. And windy. Pretty soon I'm not going to want to go for any walks, and then I will slump into a sunlight-free depression and die. Any suggestions? This happens every year around this time. With no baby and halfway decent sleep, I've always just ridden it out for the week or two that it lasts. I may buy some cocaine this year, though, just to cope. Any suggestions? For dealers or alternate coping strategies.

Grace did really, really well yesterday. She was awake and happy for a couple two-hours stretches yesterday. I think she stared at the ceiling fan, unblinking, for like an hour at one point; it always looks like she's contemplating the wonders of Ceiling Cat. I didn't think babies could focus that far away at this age.

Well, those long stretches of worshiping His Royal Catness meant that last night, she went way too long between her 10:00 feeding and her nighttime feeding. I don't bother to set the alarm for 5 hours after her last feeding of the day because she always wakes me up--usually at 5 hours on the dot. Well, last night, she went from 10:00 until 4:30. I do feel terrible about that; she's a little too young to go six hours with no food, but I feel amazing today. Which makes me feel even more guilty. I feel wonderful because I'm a bad mother. Go me.

But! Yesterday was Mr. Hyde. Today is Dr. Jekyll. (I always have to look up that story to keep straight which is which) From now on I set an alarm. My poor starving child. When I did feed her at 4:30, she ate and ate and ate and ate like we hadn't fed her since the day she was born. I was up for an hour with her, which is unusual; usually she's such a quick eater that it takes no more than 40 minutes, usually more like 20.

I must go. I have eaten a banana today. That's it. Mr. Hyde will be returning shortly if I don't get food in me soon. I may just end up eating that baby. Have you seen her cheeks?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Odds and ends

I'm a lunatic. The baby woke me up at 6:30 this morning, as she is wont to do. Instead of going back to bed after feeding her, I decided I was alert! and awake! and happy about it!

I don't know why this happens, but I wish it would stop. By noon I'll be a totally exhausted mess.

So we went downstairs, I held her in my left arm and made high-pitched girlie-voice noises at her (I always swore I would never talk to my child this way, and here I am) until she dropped off to sleep. Then I wrote a longish email one-handed. It took like twenty minutes, and it was kind of rambling and uninteresting. But! I managed it with no typos. I think.

I had to put Grace down a while ago, for fear that her enormous belly would start rapping on her vocal cords when her nose pick up the scent of BOOBS. I prefer sleeping baby to a baby who's 90% full but thinks she is STARVING FEED ME FEED MEEEEEE!

She is now in the bouncy seat with its Soothing Vibrations, and by golly I wish they made adult-sized chairs like that.

I am jealous of my three-week-old. An all-time low!

Then I found a clip of SNL's last musical guest, Adele, and I decided I needed to download a song of hers because wow. And that got me started on an iTunes binge. Oops. I only bought one album (Missy Higgins--oh, how I love her) and one song (Adele--I wanted the whole album, but just couldn't do it). But it felt like a binge.

Oh, iTunes. If you told me that one day I would spend the family fortune and bring us to our ruin, I could almost guarantee that iTunes would be the beneficiary of my folly. That or food. I love food.

Speaking of food, have you noticed that grilled cheese sandwiches always taste better with fake cheese than with the real thing? I don't like fake cheese. I like real cheese, the kind that comes in slabs and circles and sometimes has funny-colored junk around the outside. But when it comes to grilled cheese sandwiches, gimme the melty plastic stuff that Kraft calls "American Cheese".

I had reason to believe a while back that someone I knew in Real Life was reading my diary without telling me, so I went back through my entries just to make sure I didn't say anything too embarrassing. Oh my heck. My first, oh, 200 entries are totally embarrassing. I cringed through them all. I was tempted to delete them all or, at the very least, set them to private. But I didn't.

It's odd how in just four years, my writing has changed so much. And so have I, without even realizing it. I bet in four years when I come back and read my current entries, I'll want to crawl under the couch with the spiders and die.

I'm starving. I was going to write more, but these days when I'm hungry I MUST EAT MORE MORE MORE. And I'm prone to using all caps. I think it's the breastfeeding. Or just plain gluttony. But I'll blame it on the breastfeeding.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Coming soon to the cover of Vogue

The rooting reflex, it is strong in this one.


Once again, more photos up on Facebook. I should just put a permanent link to that photo album at the bottom of each post. Because I obsessively add new photos every single day. Pretty soon Baby Grace will take over Facebook and then rule the world. But my, will she be a cute little tyrant. Much more aesthetically pleasing than Hitler. Or Castro.

Okay, so it's not that I ever though motherhood would be like what you see in People magazine--beautiful celebrities toting around their beautiful babies, looking fresh and rosy and clean all the time. But dude. Nothing prepares you for how disgusting babies are and how unglamorous motherhood is. Things I have done in the last two weeks that I never ever thought I would be able to stomach or shrug off:

  • Picked another human being's nose.
  • Sucked snot out of another human being's nose with a miniature turkey baster.
  • Stuck my finger into another human being's underwear to make sure it's not grossified. Because possibly getting urine on your hand is so much easier and better than having to wrestle the **octopus out of her diaper for nothing.
  • Used my shirt to clean up another human being's spit-up. That burp cloth is just way too far across the room.
  • Accidentally squirted my entire couch and my sister with milk.
  • *Neck folds. Baby neck folds. They look delicious, but oh my heck be careful. No, it doesn't matter if you just bathed the infant. Hand and thigh folds are also DANGER DANGER CAUTION areas.
  • Cleaned an umbilical stump and contemplated ripping it off when it's just barely hanging by a millimeter-thick thread. No, I didn't. Yes, I want to.

There are many more. I'm sure I'll think of them soon, after the mental fog has lifted. In the meantime, I'm going to do some research and find out who invented the bouncy seat. He has a great big kiss and possibly a marriage proposal waiting for him. Even if he is a woman.

*Yes, I know this one ruins the parallel structure of the list. It's bothering me, too. But I couldn't really think of a way to make it work. So we'll all just have to live with it.

**Octopus explanation: If you look very closely at your average baby, he or she appears to have four limbs. If you look even closer, she still appears to have four limbs. But! Your eyes are wrong. Babies have at least eight. Maybe fourteen or more. So, while their torsoes and necks are as floppy as warm jello, their fourteen limbs wave about with the strength of six Clark Kents. This makes dressing and undressing them very difficult. Especially when they are the variety of baby that HATES TO BE DRESSED AND UNDRESSED OH MY GOODNESS WOMAN YOU'RE KILLING ME CAN'T YOU JUST LET ME LIVE IN MY OWN FECES?

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Borening

I wrote an entry yesterday, too, in case you missed it and feel like reading it.

But this entry is for Grace's birth story. I started out trying to make it fun and interesting to read, but then it got really long, and I got really tired. Please forgive.

I've always found other people's birth stories kind of boring (unless they involved espionage or Jennifer Garner pretending to be an Italian princess to break into a bank vault), but now that I have a kid, I think they're the coolest thing ever. So now I understand why people write them.

36 hours of labor
25 hours of LABOR
14 hours of sweet epidural bliss

So I was really only in bad pain for about 11 hours. Well, 12 if you count the surgery that I wasn't supposed to be able to feel.

Monday (the 29th), contractions started right around the time James left for work. At first they were just like the ones I'd had when I thought I might be in labor a few weeks ago--more intense and tighter than regular old Braxton-Hicks, with some tightness and a little pain stretching around to my back. I went about my business throughout the day, and they very slowly but steadily got worse.

My friend came up to visit for a while with her baby around noon, and they subsided for a few hours. But the ones I did have were far worse than they'd been that morning. She's the one who took that picture of me in the pumpkin shirt. When she left, we'd decided that it was false labor.

The second she pulled away, I had to lie down on the couch to ride out what felt like a ten-minute-long contraction. James got home a little while later and got to hear his wife moan every ten minutes or so, "What's going ooooon? Is this the real thiiiing?" I kept yelling at my womb, "You better not be messing with me, you old bag." Only, instead of "messing", I said something a little less appropriate for a preacher's kid. They were kinda-sorta getting more regular and closer together, but every time it seemed like there was a pattern, they'd suddenly stop for fifteen minutes.

I called like four people, and they all said, "Well, it probably means you're going to go into labor in a few days, but this probably isn't the real thing." My mom and sister both had false starts like this weeks before the real thing. I was discouraged. And angry. And about ready to take a scalpel to myself if she wasn't going to come out soon.

Then six o'clock rolled around, and they suddenly became unbearable. And they were almost all in my back. I spent the next six hours writhing around and yelling. James and I timed them, and they just would.not. hit that magical 5-1-1 (five minutes apart, one minute long, for one hour) pattern the hospital wanted before we showed up. My body is a tease. Finally James had enough and decided to call the hospital anyway. 6-1-4 is good enough, right? Oh, but first I had to shower and shave my legs. Cannot give birth to a baby with all the blood and gore that entails without having nice, clean-shaven legs and silky golden tresses.

I found that instead of yelling, a deep moan in the back of my throat seemed to help the most. So we're in the car, James is calling the hospital and the most immediate family members, and I'm mooing in the seat next to him. I felt like an idiot, but by that point I didn't really care anymore. In between contractions, I put on my makeup (but no mascara). Very important, that was.

Forty minutes later, we arrived at the hospital. The triage nurse was not a raging witch, as I'd been warned some of them can be. She was very, very nice. She had me change into one of those awesome gowns, fixed a monitor on my belly, took my blood pressure. Everything looked great. And then she checked my cervix. 1 cm. I almost wrung that sweet woman's neck right there. She said, "Well, normally I'd send you home right now--" Here I think I emitted a howling wail, and my eyes glowed red, and the flappy thing at the back of my throat started chittering. But I don't really remember. "--but since you live so far away, I really don't want to do that. You might get home and have to come right back, and that's an hour and a half right there. You want to take some laps around the triage wing for a while?" I nodded vigorously. "How about you come back around four? That's an hour and fifteen minutes. Grab a cup from the kitchen, keep drinking water and walking." She gave me another gown to cover my backside, and James and I took off.

That was the most miserable hour of my life. I felt like someone was grabbing my lower back muscles and attempting to rip them away from my spine. My belly hurt, too, but next to the back pain it was nothing. Poor James couldn't do anything right. On one contraction, I'd yell at him because he didn't take my water away from me so I could use both hands to lean on the railing. On the next, HOW DARE YOU TOUCH MY WATER YOU EVIL BASTARD. On the next, WHY AREN'T YOU MASSAGING MY BACK? AND YOU'RE NOT DOING IT RIGHT! The one after that, DON'T TOUCH ME, ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL ME? But he was amazing. He took it all with patience and understanding. I probably would have ripped my head off, had our roles been reversed. I've never been such a raging *bitch in my life.

*I don't like that word, but it's really the only one that fits here.

Finally, that hour was over, and we went back to triage. I was expecting to still be 1 cm, so I laid back on the table and cringed. I really wanted my childhood stuffed mouse right then (his name is Reepicheep). And then, the magic words! 4 cm! I almost kissed her.

They got me admitted as fast as possible. I wouldn't let them take me in a wheelchair, since I knew it was probably the last time I'd be allowed to walk for a very long time. I mooed my way over to the delivery room and waited for the epidural.

The anesthesiologist was amazing. I was terrified of Needle in Spine, so I clamped down on James's hand, clenched a pillow to my chest, and bent over. Barely felt anything but a little sting. I'm still skeeved out by Needle in Spine, but it's far less frightening to me.

The second that medication hit me, I ordered James to run down the hall and kiss the anesthesiologist. I wanted to marry that man. James refused to do my bidding. Jerk.

And then followed fifteen of the most blissful hours of my life. If you ever have the chance to get an epidural, I recommend you take it. There's nothing like it. Not only did it take away all the pain of the contractions, but it also removed all the hip and stomach and back pain I'd been having for weeks. It was beautiful.

I don't really remember a whole lot of what happened after that, except that sometime in the evening Dr. C checked my cervix again (it's a good thing I was so out of it and happy because this Dr. C is a Hot Old Guy, and there's nothing worse than a hot OB-GYN), and it was 9 cm. Still. Again. For the last two hours. Also, the baby was still sunny side up, despite all his efforts to turn her. The pressure of her head on my cervix and the angle she was at was preventing me from dilating any more.

A miracle could happen, he said, and she might come out vaginally. Since neither the baby nor I was in distress, he was fine with us waiting as long as we wished, but he was advising a c-section. I waited another hour, just in case, then went in for surgery.

Okay. I don't know if it's just because she was so huge and they had to work pretty hard to get her out of me or what, but my c-section was agonizing. It felt like Dr. C was eviscerating me. I had James on one hand, a nurse at my head, stroking my hair (I would really like to know who that was; it was so soothing), another person at my other hand (not sure who), and this really cool anesthesiologist who kept making me laugh even when I was wailing. So I can't complain about the way I was treated. Those people were wonderful. I just wasn't expecting so much pain when I was supposed to only be able to feel some pressure.

But then the pulling and tugging were over, and the baby was out. They briefly held her over the partition so I could see her, then they took her over to suck all the crap out of her nose that normally gets squeezed out during a vaginal birth. Dr. C was still cleaning things out and stitching me up, James left me to go look at the baby, and that's when it was the worst. It was probably just a minute or two, but it felt like twenty.

Then James came back with Grace, and he set her down on the table next to me so our faces were right next to each other, and I didn't feel a thing after that, except a few of the stronger tugs. It was just the two of us.

In the pictures, I can see that she was not that attractive when she first came out--purple, with swollen lips, still covered in some goo--, but at the time I thought she was the most beautiful baby in the world.

They finished up with me, brought us into the recovery room, and stuck me under a heat lamp because I couldn't stop shaking--both because I was cold and because that's one of the aftereffects of the drugs they used on me. They brought her in, and I got to hold her. One of my favorite nurses, Jean, kept me company while she entered stuff into the computer, and James popped in and out between me and our families, who were waiting in a room down the hall. That heat lamp was my best friend. I want one.

I was really disappointed to find out that I'd be switching rooms. I had to go up one floor to the post-op ward or whatever it was, which meant I'd be giving up the nurses I liked so much. But the sixth floor had just as many wonderful ones, so I got over it pretty quickly.

My favorite doctor, Dr. M, stopped by a couple days later just to say hi; he didn't have to check on me or anything. I was pretty impressed by that. But I was most impressed by the nurses. I want to make them all cookies. But I'm an awful baker, so that would less of a thank-you and more of a punishment.

I spent the next four days wishing to go home; I had no idea how good it was in the hospital. They sent us home, and the first few days back were awful. But I've already described that. So I'm going now. I need a nap. I'm getting a cold, and Grace is all snuffly too. She didn't sleep well last night, so neither did I. Ugh.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Shriekening

Hahah! Just kidding! It hasn't been that bad!

(here you must imagine a slightly crazed, hysterical note to my seemingly calm tone)

Also just kidding. The first few days were really, really rough. Mostly because I was an emotional basket case and just barely holding it together. If you know me in really life, this is totally weird. I'm not emotional. I'm rather robotic, in fact. So pregnancy made me almost a normal woman; I cried a little, I told my husband I loved him with at least some feeling, and I Am Legend just about killed me. New motherhood turned me into this useless, sopping, bipolar mess.

Wednesday was the absolute worst. I gave Grace a bath before a visit with a lactation consultant and after a night of very little sleep and pathetic attempts at keeping her awake long enough to eat for more than five minutes. Oh, she screaaaaaamed. So here's me on the bathroom floor next to the tub, my newborn daughter is screaming at me as hard as she can with very accusing eyes, and I'm sobbing as I lift her neck folds and try to clean between them so she doesn't get a weird fungal infection or a new life form springing from her throat. And then on the way back from the lactation consultant (turns out short feeding times are okay, as she's a super duper nurser and can suck down two ounces in less than five minutes), my mood took a manic upswing, stopping just short of telling me I could fly off the bridge over the Crawfish River.

Since then, things have only gotten better. My sister decided to fly in from Colorado on short notice, and she's like an angel of light. She instructed me in proper swaddling (I tried and tried but just couldn't get those little arms to stay), and that has made all the difference. She also cooks breakfast. And has really pretty hair.

This baby has had at least one five-hour stretch of sleep each of the last three nights. She's fussier during the day (because she's awake more during the day), but I can handle that. We also got a bouncy seat. Bouncy seat + swaddling = newborn bliss.

I haven't had any thoughts of throwing her out a window in a few days, and the thought of being a stay-at-home mom after all the helpful family goes home no longer fills me with a bone-crushing despair. I'm looking forward to it.

Even my recovery from surgery is going better. I only take my pills twice a day rather than two every four hours I required in the beginning. I'm tired and overstimulated pretty easily still, but if I keep it low-key, I feel great. Half an hour ago, when she made the most unholy mess of herself and her onesie and almost my couch, I was actually able to laugh despite her heartfelt protestations. On Monday, that would have had me grabbing James, telling him to take care of his offspring, and throwing myself into bed. And then we were done cleaning her up, and I picked her up and put her on my chest, and she was instantly calm and happy and gazing into my eyes, and my heart exploded into a million pieces. Life is good.

Again, thanks for all the well-wishes. As much as I'd love to respond to them all, I don't think I have the time. But just know that all of them made my day over the last couple weeks. Especially when I was feeling crummy and totally alone.

I also added some new pictures of Grace (see last entry, maybe the one before, not sure).

Sunday, October 5, 2008

What am I supposed to do with this thing?

Not dead. First full day home from the hospital. Have cried at least four times. I miss my favorite nurse Joan. She made everything better. I want to write her come-back-to-me!1 love letters, but that might be a little stalkery.

I hug my painkillers almost as tightly as I would hold my baby if she were unbreakable. I had a full day off them before my prescription got filled. No sleep + no pain meds + postpartum hormones = pure hell on earth. I know it all gets better. But that doesn't make me feel that much better. And my nipples feel like chewed-up hamburger. Also, they don't tell you what happens when you get home from the hospital and haven't gone number two in six days. Way too much information, I know, but I feel it's a public service to those of you who were not warned either.

That's all. James and I are going to watch a show while I nurse the baby. Then you might not hear from me for a while. Thanks for all the notes.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Oh my goodness!

All those notes! Thank you! I'll try to respond to them, but I might fall asleep halfway through. It's funny; I don't feel tired, but I find myself dozing off everywhere. Thank goodness I haven't done it yet while changing a diaper. That would be messy and not so good for the skin.

This is not a real entry. But you piranhas are all thirsting for some pictures, so I point you to my newest facebook album. It is incomplete, but I'm too tired to upload more. I give you one cute picture, one not-so-cute picture.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Will post longer entry later, but...

Little Gracie (aka Creepy Fetus, Ham Loaf, Squid, or Cephalopod) finally arrived Sept 30th at 7:42 pm.

Hours and hours of labor (once I got the epidural, it was very, very happy labor), I got to 9 cm and came to a screeching halt. For 3 1/2 hours. We finally decided to go ahead with a C-section, which was one of the most painful experiences of my life, but oh so worth it.

Grace came out, finally, and they put her on the table right up next to my face, and I bawled like a baby. She's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen in my life. And she's 10 lbs, 2 oz, and 22 inches. She is chubby and has a carpet of black curly hair (edit: now that she's been shampooed a couple times, it turns out it's super straight and spiky). James is wrapped around her finger and already knows how to soothe her like a pro. She's fed twice already for about half an hour apiece, and done it like a champ.

I've never been so in love.