Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Baby shower

Need to hit something lighthearted.

My cousin and my best friend handled my baby shower. It was lovely. We had trouble getting a venue together because my dad's aunt is on oxygen and Mark's grandmother can barely walk, and the first few venues required stairs or parking far off. They picked a not-glamorous but perfectly located burger joint with a "banquet room," and it was excellent. If anyone wanted a drink, the bar was steps away. The food was good. The room was great. Go figure!

Another "problem" was that so many friends had their babies or were days from having babies. Jessica was due a week and a half later, and she started serious Braxton-Hicks the day of my shower. I'd actually hoped for that to happen, because I picked that day in the pool at her shower haha. I ended up losing. So it ended up being mostly family, but that's okay.

The theme was baby monsters and Yanna found some super adorable baby versions of classic monsters. It was right before Halloween, so it was perfect. Gender-neutral. They had a table set up and labeled "Treat Yo Self," with my amazingly delicious cake and a candy selection.

Got some great gifts that were on the registry.

Most importantly, by having the two in charge who were in charge, no games were even attempted. It was a classy affair that was just my speed.

They tagged me in pictures on Facebook, but I didn't approve them to appear on my timeline and I also don't allow most people to see pictures tagged of me anyway.

However, a few high school friends saw pics because they are also friends with my mom and saw her get tagged. It was getting close to the end anyway, so it wasn't a huge deal. Plus, I was about to see some of them at my friend's wedding in a couple weeks, so the cat would be out of the bag with them anyway.

We brought everything home and it landed in my kitchen. A few weeks later, Mark's cousin brought over a bunch of her baby items. That all ended up in the kitchen, too. Mark couldn't keep up and I couldn't lift anything. It was a mess. It stayed that way until the weekend we came home. I mean, we got a lot of things out of the way when my parents came to help us one weekend. But it sucked having to take so much rest.

The girls made thank you cards for me that matched the invitations. They made a booklet to match to write down gifts and they included a print out of all of the addresses to make thank you card writing simple. It was genius. I highly recommend that when planning showers for people. Especially baby showers, when the new mom is going to be overwhelmed, exhausted, uncomfortable, and scatterbrained.

I actually didn't get around to finishing them until after he was here. I have no idea what I wrote, because I did them on pain meds hahaha. I'm sure they were lovely.

We had to vote in an election right after the shower. The ladies were all fishing over my belly. We went back for the primaries in March, and they really couldn't handle him. And every time we vote (every election), they gush over him and how they remember the day I came in so huge. I guess we're the only "young" regular voters. We rarely miss an election. Most people in our neighborhood are renters who don't stay long and old people who have been here forever, so I guess we stand out. I appreciate that, but damn. Go vote, people!!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The first Christmas

I don't know how I skipped this part.

His family is an hour and a half away from us, and with a due date of December 8, I started stressing over Christmas. What if he came late? What if I had to have a section? What about an episiotomy? How was I going to bring a brand new baby that far and how was I going to last through the car ride? What about nursing? And since that was such a disaster, it eventually turned into "what about pumping and all of the paraphernalia involved?"

My parents had the same thoughts. We were being told to come for his family's Christmas. No one gave thought to the exhausted new parents, and especially not to the new mother and her comfort levels. But my parents did. They offered to host his parents and his brother and his sister-in-law on Christmas. My parents are a 15-minute drive away in the same city we live in.

When he called to extend the invite, they originally thought he had asked to have them and they were very squirrelly about it. He kept inviting them and they kept blowing it off with a "we'll see."

At my shower, my mom asked his mom in front of their family and mine if they would please come eat. She was kind and generous. And his mother said "oh uh well we'll see." My relatives commented at various times about how strange that response was. My mother was flabbergasted.
My BiL and SIL were planning to do Christmas Eve in his hometown and in hers, 20 mins away from his. Then they were making an 8-hour drive to northeast Louisiana to visit her extended family. But the more his mom begged off about coming to my parents' house, the more they discussed the fact that his mother was really going to miss her only grandchild's first Christmas. So they planned to detour to New Orleans because there was no way she would miss BIL and the grandchild together.

After two or three months of us practically begging them, they came.

After Christmas, Mark called and thanked them for coming. Another gaslighting situation arose wherein she said that they were always planning to come, what was he talking about? Thankfully, my SIL and I had had extensive Facebook conversations via messenger, so I know for a fact that we weren't imagining their hesitation. He told them that he was glad they came because he was worried that they were being rude and that they had never once committed to coming and had blown my mom off at the shower. But they kept on gaslighting us.

To combat gaslighting, it is suggested that you keep listing things you know to be true. Every time I bring up what they're doing and he starts making excuses, I lost this as one major situation that we know to be true but they keep denying ever happened.

Monday, January 15, 2018

That escalated quickly.

I loved my job. I loved what I did. I loved my students. I loved my coworkers. But to get close to a living wage, I had to have five stipends. Most of them required me to be at work late at night. With a child, I couldn't afford to work there any more. I'd always called it my happiness tax, but I had to take care of my family, first.

I tightened my social media pages and stuck my inlaws in that tighter security group. It was something I'd always wanted to do. I just wasn't sure when would be appropriate. I never wanted to accept their friendship on there because I felt like it was too much. Mark isn't friends with most of my family, but since he's more of a public figure due to work, he's a little less strict with who can see his stuff.

A few weeks went by and I was back at work. One day, we got a phony call demanding that I allow them access to my page. Um? What now? Mark informed them that I was job searching, hence the heightened social media security. That is 100 percent correct. I didn't block or unfriend them. I just locked them down. No more pats pr photos were visible to them. A little more time passed. And at Easter, Mark called to wish them a happy one. And instead of exchanging pleasantries, they chose to tear into him and rip him a new one. He, who never raises his voice, raised his voice to them. He tried setting boundaries and explaining that we feel like they do not respect us as adults. That they don't respect us as parents. Every time we ask them not to do something, they do it. If we ask them to do something, they don't. Like buying the base for the car seat, for instance. Spoiler: that base could only be used with the bucket seat. When we upgraded to the bigger seat, those were useless. They never once used it and were miffed.

Anyway, I refused to try to tweak my settings because I was job searching. I'd planned on eventually letting them back in, but I decided against it. Eventually, unnoticed his mom unfriended me, based on the fact that she popped up as a person I may know, haha. C'est la vie.

At this point, I said they needed a time out. They were not exhibiting sane behavior or wise actions. I banned them from the house until further notice. They were going to be allowed here for his birthday, but that's a more tragic story yet to come.

Basically, they are allowed supervised visits and they must be in public. If it's something in their hometown, I chaperone.

I'm sorry. This is too unstable.

After some time, they claimed that when Mark called them out on condemning us to hell and saying what they said about the miscarriage, they denied it. They began a gaslighting campaign that keeps rearing its very ugly head. Gaslighting is scary.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Listen to new parents

If it isn't your baby, you get no say.

If it isn't your baby, the parents get all of the say.

I don't care how many kids you had, how many kids you didn't have, how many kids you've taught, or whether your child is one second older or five decades older.

Not your kid, not your say.

Think the parent is neurotic? Crazy? Depressed? Ignorant? Don't care.

Is the child's life or safety in danger? Ok.

No matter what the parents say, that's what you do. And when you are in their home, you are the guest. You. Have. No. Say.

The next visit from my in-laws was a major turning point. I never did care much for them. I lost my respect for them when they blamed my third miscarriage on us not attending church.

As of this point, they were buying things we told them not to buy. They were trying to visit every weekend. We managed to hold our feelings and stay polite up until that day. She insisted on whispering. She constantly accused the baby of having a pain.

When they visited, they sat on my couch, leaving her perfume smell and his cologne smell for days afterwards. They held him and whispered and took pictures. They stayed for hours. They kept bringing things into our house that we asked them not to bring. And then it happened.

They brought us food from Zea's. I was trying to finish my meal and the baby was in his swing, a.k.a his favorite place in the world. She wolfed down her food and grabbed her camera and went to the baby. I asked her to please wash her hands.

He was maybe two months old? Just shy of it? He hadn't gotten those important vaccines yet. It was still cold and flu season.

My M-I-L only eats fried shrimp when she goes out to eat. I like to bring them places without fried shrimp in order to make her branch out. Then she orders whatever I'm eating, because I guess she figures if I eat it, it can't be bad. So that's when I get things with hummus on them haha.

Anyway, Zea is a rotisserie restaurant and she ordered, you guessed it, fried shrimp. You know, a high allergen food. And it's greasy. And! She hadn't washed her hands before eating. So, barf.

I asked her to wash her hands first. She ignored it. I repeated myself.

"Oh, I will."

Please. Please wash your hands first.

"I will."

Shoot a glance to Mark.

"Mom. Please wash your hands before you go near him."

"Oh, I did."

What. The. Actual. Fuck. No. She. Didn't.

I said "No you didn't. You came in. You handed out the food containers. You sat down. You ate. You went to the baby. Please wash your hands."

"Oh, I did it at the restaurant."

I almost exploded.

So you went to the restaurant. Used the restroom. Washed your hands. Touched your credit card. Signed the receipt using a pen at the register. Opened the door. Walked to the car. Used the handle. You yourself talked about how everything was covered in pollen. Touched your door and your seat belt. Touched then again to get out. Shut the door. Rang the doorbell. Came inside. Ate without washing your hands. Ate greasy shellfish. Didn't wash your greasy shellfish hands. Went straight to the newborn.

"I'll do it."

She sat there.

Mark: "Mom. Just please wash your hands."

She ignored him. I was boiling. I was trying to finish my food and couldn't get the last bite of corn grits to stay on my fork. On the fourth failed jab, I went "Oh, son of a bitch."

His dad was sitting across from me. He spoke:

"I heard that."

This is a man who will drop worse curse words at times. Not often, but he's not clean.

I looked up, confused. Was he joking?

Then I saw the hatred and anger on his face. He was practically shaking.

I said "I'm sorry. I didn't know I couldn't swear in my own home."

He continued glaring and shaking. "I. Heard. What. You. Said."

And then it hit me: He thought I was calling his wife a bitch.

I'd like to go on record as saying I wish that I had. Because if I had, I would have had something to apologize for. I also wish I had because, you know what? That was a bitchy thing to do.

I was a teenage girl. I made it through my teen years without EVER calling my mother a bitch. Do you know what an accomplishment that is for many people these days?

I said "Ohhhh. Oh. I was mad because my food wouldn't stay on my fork."

He glared.

"I was frustrated. I said son of a bitch. About the food."

He continued to glare.

"Didn't you see me repeatedly stab it? You're sitting right across from me."

Pause. Why was he so convinced I called her a bitch? Was it because that thought crossed his mind? That she was doing something extremely bitchy?

Mark didn't hear this happening. He came to see if he could grab my empty takeout container. I slammed my fork down and said yes. I got up, grabbed my pump, and went in the baby's room. I stayed for a while. I kicked them into a tighter privacy setting on FB. I was job hunting anyway. I needed my profile on lock.

When I finished pumping, I put the milk away and cleaned my parts. I said nothing to anyone and went into my bedroom and shut the door. I refused to go by them. Mark eventually came to see what was up. I said I was not going anywhere near them. He had no idea what had happened. They finally left, hours later. He told them I was napping because I was going out with friends that night and needed to rest. I hate that he lied. Lies are his family's language of love.

When they were gone, I filled him in the rest of the way.

I assumed it would blow over. I was very wrong.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

We're home. Now what?

We were discharged on Friday, Dec. 4. Mark was DJing winter formal for my school, and Alicia had offered to come give me a hand. I was so grateful. She did a few things and helped me out.

You don't realize how much you rely on your nether regions until they are stitched up and recovering from a trauma, no matter how "normal" that biological process may be. I couldn't get out of the chair or bed. I had so much trouble shifting once I was seated. It was almost impossible while holding J. It got better as the days passed, but holy crap.

That night, I asked Alicia to be his godmother. She squealed and hugged me so hard that she bent my glasses haha.

We discovered that the baby swing was the key to us doing anything so quickly.

We decided that since it was so hard for me to get up and move, the best case scenario was to put him in the Rock 'N' Play next to the bed on my side. We are strongly opposed to the concept of cosleeping. ESPECIALLY at the newborn and infant stages. Don't try to tell me benefits and convince me otherwise. What works for you may not be what works for me. So back off and get your own blog.

Anyway, I barely slept all night. Infant breathing patterns are terrifying. They pause. They gasp. They breathe in different speeds. It's insane. And woke me up immediately every time. I managed to get some sleep and woke up to that beautiful little face staring back at me on Saturday morning.

When I opened my eyes and saw that little face, I melted. He was here. He made it home. He made it through the first night! This wasn't a dream.

People always complain about the baby keeping them up all night, but other than my own insecurities and terrors, he slept about six hours. We had the best baby everrrr. We thought.

That day I realized I could reenter the world of deli meats. I'm not a vegetarian, but I don't eat a lot of meat. I went through a brief period of craving meat and had Mark make a lot of meatloaf and burgers and tacos and chicken and stuff. It's weird how every pregnancy is different. One pregnancy had an aversion to chicken. This one couldn't get enough meat. That is highly unusual. It also made me grossed out by cheese. I always keep microwaveable mac and cheese that has a long shelf life at school just in case I forget my lunch. One day, I reached into my bin to grab one early on and was repulsed by it. I could handle shredded cheese or cubes or wedges or whatever. But melty liquidy cheese turned my stomach. I had to walk down the block to get a sandwich that day haha. Cheese is my favorite food. That was rough.

Anyway, I never really want meat. But because I wasn't allowed to have deli meat, I had Mark order po-boys for us. While we ate, the delivery men brought my glider and ottoman. We ordered it from a local store on Halloween and it took that long to come in. We had registered for a chair and then it was discontinued and we didn't get the email in time. It was the only chair I liked that I found comfortable and would be good for anyone to sit in with the baby. I didn't find out until the day we went to buy it. I was heartbroken. I hated all of the other chairs. We tried chairs in so many stores. None were good. But this furniture store had a great saleswoman who asked what chair we had wanted. They carried that brand but not that chair. She brought me the catalogue and we found one very similar and ordered it. She was my hero. I'm sitting in it right now, waiting for him to go back to sleep. I love this chair.

In addition, my friend Michelle dropped by with a gift. She had her third son in September and couldn't stay long. We also had a visit from my brother and his new girlfriend. They started dating about halfway through my pregnancy. She only knew me as pregnant. It dawned on me that a lot of people at work only knew me that way. Very odd to think about.

Most people never knew they knew me as pregnant. We kept it so low key. If you knew, it was because you saw us frequently or you were a relative. We didn't ever publicize it anywhere. After he was born, Mark took a picture of him. While we were enjoying our hour of skin-to-skin, he sent it to me and I finally got to talk about the baby on social media.

We blew a lot of people away with the news. They had no clue. Some people thought they missed it. Some people were a little annoyed. Almost everyone was surprised and ecstatic. When I shared his birth, I just explained that we had a hard time getting him here and that I never felt comfortable sharing it. That is 100% true. I didn't want it posted and have people see it, then have something go wrong, then have people not see the follow-up. I didn't want to be subjected to Timehop pulling those statuses up. I just didn't want any trace of it online. Almost everyone was very understanding and kindly did not push for details.

It has taken more than two years since giving birth for me to put any of this down. I wasn't sure I wanted to go public. But I think it is extremely important to do so. So many people suffer in silence. I want to be able to be there for them the way that my pen pal was there for me. Because try though they might, unless you've been through it, you WILL say the wrong thing. You won't mean it. But you will. I have a thing typed up on The Care and Feeding of a Habitual Miscarrier. I wrote it way before J. I'll dig it up one day and add it here.

Anyway, back to that weekend.

On Sunday, Mark had to go to work. Craig and Aryanna came to help me around the house for part of the time. We never truly had it ready for J because I was on bedrest, sort of. I couldn't lift or carry. Bending was no good. Sweeping made me bleed that one time. So the house just wasn't ready. Honestly, two years later, it still isn't haha. His room is finally complete, so there's that. But we moved my office into the back room, which is now the room where things go to die. Also where the cats mostly hang out. My office became the nursery. But because I couldn't do a lot, it wasn't really ready. He was sleeping in our room at first, so it was okay if it was not ready.

The Saints were playing (hence Mark having to work) and normally that meant going to my parents' house. But for the first two weeks, they came to me instead.

They lost that day, so that was disappointing.

Mark and my mom had both taken off the next week. I wish they had staggered things better. She was able to run a few errands for us, though, so that was nice.

The one week doctor appointment found that he wasn't gaining weight. When the doctor heard he was sleeping for six hours at a time, she put a stop to it. We had to wake him every three hours and feed him without fail in order to get his weight up. He hadn't pooped since the hospital and was a bit jaundiced. She said once he pooped, it would probably clear up. She wanted to see us two days later.

He still hadn't gained weight and still hadn't pooped. He wasn't constipated. He just was using up his food. The problem was me. I wasn't producing enough milk. He was sleeping so much because he was essentially giving up on eating because he knew he wouldn't get any more. We started using the supplemental formula in addition to breastfeeding. I was an emotional wreck. How could my body, which finally didn't fail by successfully carrying a baby to term, fail that baby in this way? How could I, as a mother, fail my child in this way?

It was decided that I needed to exclusively pump. That way, I knew what he was eating and I knew how much to supplement. The most I ever got in the beginning was one and a half ounces in an hour of pumping. That was a good day. I drank so much water and ate so many lactation cookies. I ate oatmeal and took fenugreek supplements. I drank that disgusting Mother's Milk tea (I hate licorice and it tastes like licorice). I massaged and hand pumped and everything. I was on a tight schedule of pumping. And it didn't help. Not. One. Bit.

But I wanted him to get what he could. I set a goal of getting him what I could for six months. I limped across that finish line. It didn't take long for it to dry up when I stopped. I'll revisit this later.

He did poop that afternoon though. Jessica and her husband and their 5-week-old stopped by to visit. While they were there, poop! We had a hearty chuckle over how excited all four of us were.

That following weekend was the first visit from my in-laws. In it, they said they planned to come every weekend. Mark didn't even have to see my panic-stricken face. He said that since he's only off on Saturdays, that was not going to work. We needed our four days a month to be a family and adjust to each other. They offered every other weekend. He gave them a "We'll see." He told me later that he had no intention of saying yes. He just wasn't playing all of his cards immediately. He didn't feel like an argument.

It took a lot of us telling them no and then a pretty major incident in February to get them to quit asking for that visitation schedule. I'll get there.

When they came to visit, they insisted on whispering. We kept telling them that we wanted noise. It's unrealistic to make a baby sleep in silence. Keep your normal routines and make them learn to sleep in chaos. They'll be better sleepers as a result. But they insisted on whispering. They bought a car seat base and had it installed by local police. We had already said multiple times that they shouldn't. They live an hour and a half away. We're not leaving him there without us. Save your money. But they didn't listen. Every sound this newborn made, his mom asked if he had a gas pain. Every. Single. Noise. No. No he didn't. You would KNOW if he did. There was one day where I snapped that at her. I said please don't say that any more. Why? Because she was holding him and he made a content sigh in his sleep. And she asked him "oh, do you have a little pain?" NO! Have you never seen a happy baby? Lord.

These little things were the first pebbles in a major avalanche that was on its way.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Hospital days.

I was essentially awake from 10 a.m. Tuesday, December 1 until J was born at 3:07 p.m. Wednesday, December 2, 2015. And I still wasn't able to sleep. We waited for me to be sewn up after the episiotomy, for the room to be cleaned, for the baby to be checked and cleaned, for an attempt at breastfeeding, and for an hour of skin-to-skin. Then the families came in to visit. And I was finally able to eat. I scarfed down the sandwich like there was no tomorrow.

I mentioned how my in-laws burst in first and monopolized everything. They took photo after photo of themselves holding J. And of Mark holding him. And not one single person took one of me or the three of us. I was so out of it that I didn't think to ask. I think they would have followed us to my room, but my parents made a big deal about letting me get some rest and giving the three of us time to be alone. I guess they actually got the hint for once.

It was about 7 p.m. and we were finally alone. But could we rest? No. Nurses kept coming and checking on the two of us. Mark went home at one point to feed the cats. He returned a little after visiting hours were over.

Our friend's ex-husband worked in the hospital. They were still married and he was working there when I had my first miscarriage. He was the friend who came to check on us a few times that night. When my dad had his heart attack a few years ago, he checked on him. And his girlfriend was the one who was due two days after me but had the baby four weeks early. He had seen on social media that J was here and came to visit, which was nice, even if we don't see each other any more.

Every time we almost dozed off, a nurse would come in for one of us. I was not having success with breastfeeding due to his tongue-tie. We got a nipple shield and a lactation consult. They decided I should try pumping and consider having a frenulectomy done on J to make things better.

It was at least 1 a.m. by the time I could finally doze off. I woke up all night long to check on J because we delivered at a baby-friendly hospital and he was rooming in. So I was basically awake and delivered a baby during the hours of 10 a.m. 12/1-1 a.m. 12/3.

They woke us a few times during the night. At 7:30 or so, L came to check on us on her way to the hospital. And right after she left, the photo people arrived. We were not prepared and I should have asked them to come back later but rolled with it. I'm wearing my hospital gown still. Mark needed to shave. Poor J is in 0-3 month pajamas because we didn't realize that was different than newborn. So they rolled his sleeves and tucked the pajamas as best they could

Not long after that, the pediatrician came in. He was one from our practice, but not the doctor we fell in love with when we interviewed pediatricians. He said if we wanted the frenulectomy, let them know. We wanted to try breastfeeding again first and would then decide. But I was bleeding from it already.

As soon as visiting hours started, my in-laws burst onto the scene. And they stayed the whole day, except for when we were under the hospital's cuddle hour. An hour for us to do whatever with no visitors and no doctors. Exceeeept he needed his 24-hour labs done during that time. So they took him. I got to shower finally. We tried pumping again. And as soon as cuddle time was over, there they were again, loaded down with gifts. Cause that's exactly what every new mother needs: a ton of shit to take home in addition to the tiny baby.

My friend Melissa showed up, as did my cousin Alicia. Mom came by after work. The small room was crowded so his parents actually left. They were staying in a hotel nearby and had to start the hour and a half drive home. They took J to get circumcised, and so she and I were able to privately visit. L stopped by to say he'd done well and was recovering. She did the surgery herself. And every doctor had compliments for her on how well it was done. Go figure. My aunt, uncle, and cousin stopped by for a while. Mark had gone to dinner with his parents during this and then he was heading home to feed the cats again. He also put the baby swing together.

J finally got to return right before my last visitors left. After Mark came back, we had one last visit from our best friends, Craig and Aryanna. They brought me a bottle of Moët which I saved for a while because Mark doesn't drink champagne. I needed someone to savor it with.

We had another restless night with one sweet night nurse sneaking us a few bottles of Similac supplement formula. Thank god. I was hurting. He couldn't latch properly. It was a miserable situation all around. As a baby-friendly hospital, they push breastfeeding on you. It's insane. I was already on board for trying it and had no plans to do otherwise. I was sold. You didn't have to be so...militant.

The next day, we had a different doctor from the pediatric group. She suggested the one we saw the day before to do the frenulectomy because he apparently enjoys doing that. J was gone for a while for that. I got to eat lunch and then we left a couple hours later. It was time to head home.

Induction

Recap: Dr. L said that based on what Dr. C recommended, she felt it was best to induce a week early so that the baby would not get any bigger. If she couldn't use any tools to assist in delivery, the baby needed to get out. Otherwise, I'd have to have a C-section.

I didn't want a section, but more than that, I wanted a safe, healthy delivery of a safe, healthy baby. Whatever my doctors thought was best, I was on board 100%.

Both doctors seemed to think the early induction would be enough to let me deliver safely. I was glad to hear it.

My due date was December 8. They like to induce a week early, so that meant December 1: my dad's birthday. It was also the day my coworker was being induced.

Unfortunately, it looked like I was getting a 10 p.m. slot. The hospital was full of sections and inductions already. My coworker had a morning slot, so her daughter was born the same day. There was a slight chance that some women would deliver early, clearing the way for me. But no.

On Saturday, we went to dinner for my dad's birthday. We went back to their house for cake. Then, my nesting instinct was kicking in. We went to buy a table for the humidifier, a rug for the room, and blinds for the room. A student's mom dropped off a baby gift while we were gone. She hadn't realized that the Friday before Thanksgiving was my last day. It wasn't originally, but when we scrapped the due date in favor of the induction, it didn't make sense to me to go back for one day. So when I went on Thanksgiving break, I was on maternity leave.

Sunday had Mark working and so I went to my parents' house, as usual. Monday had us taking care of things around the house, resting, and my final NST appointment. I also had to go to my pre-op appointment. History, blood pressure, paperwork signing.

I woke up Tuesday and couldn't believe that that night was hospital time. I was nervous but scared but excited but terrified but pleased. I was tired of hauling myself in and out of bed, of needing Mark to shave my legs, of having to consider ingredients, of peeing so many times a day. But how terrifying is birth? Especially when our country has such high rates of mortality during childbirth.

I haven't mentioned it yet, but we didn't know what we were having. I didn't want to know for a few reasons. One was that if it was a girl, I didn't want pink everything. Oh it would happen later, but if I could head it off at the pass, then I would. Another reason is that if we're doing this only once, we should enjoy the full ride. Another reason: There's so few real surprises any more. Another? It pissed off my in-laws. Another? If I knew what I was having, I would get attached. I'd think of the baby by name. I'd imagine activities with him or her. And if something went wrong, well...

It drove everyone crazy. Surprisingly, Dr. L couldn't stand it haha. After I'd been to Dr. C for the big anatomy scans, she looked at the notes and knew.

When the baby had the reversed urine flow, I looked it up. 90% of the time, or something like that, it happens to boys. I originally felt I was having a girl. I'd changed my mind and started thinking it was a boy. Once I heard that, I was convinced it was a boy. But I had no proof.

It was exciting to finally know what this little person would be and look like. The last 4D ultrasound was close. I couldn't imagine life with this little person and was hoping I would get that chance.

We got IHOP for dinner because they said I could and should eat something, just nothing major. Pancakes sounded perfect. I took a shower and watched Mark hang one set of blinds. I intended to help, but I was too uncomfortable. Soon enough, it was time to go. We grabbed our bags and got in the car. We checked in on the women's floor and were hurried to my room. I had my SLR camera with me, and I wanted Mark to do a picture. But I had to take everything off and put on the gown and get in bed. I was so nervous that I forgot.

For about three weeks I was dilated about a centimeter. I had a lot of work to do.

My nurses were all dolls. One was new to the hospital and one was new and had someone paired with her at all times. Every one of them was just awesome.

The new girl went to do my IV and missed. Then blew the vein. Then the other nurse blew the vein on my right hand. And finally got it on the side of my left hand. So that was fun.

The nurses got the little pill in me, which was also fun. They checked me later and decided I did need the second dose of it. Because I tested positive for group B strep, I had to get antibiotics in my IV.

I tried to get some sleep, but between the IV and the early contractions that had started and the fact that if I tried rolling over, the baby would get off the monitor and a nurse would have to come in to reposition things, it didn't happen more than about five minutes probably. Meanwhile, Mark was out for a good while.

Around 2 a.m. I was ready for the epidural. It wasn't bad yet. But it was starting to give me flashbacks to my first loss. And my third. And my fourth. And I was feeling anxiety. A lot of it.

I sent Mark to tell the nurses. I was first in line. It would take 45 minutes for the anesthesiologist to arrive and it takes a while for the procedure. They had me curl up like a shrimp and sent Mark out of the room. For the best. He passed out once watching me get two stitches on my arm. The relief was so quick and amazing. I loved it. But I did have to get a catheter, which I thankfully couldn't feel. I tried to sleep again, but the baby kept getting off the monitor.

I had already said I didn't want anyone but Mark in the room. Around 7:30, the visitor worst case scenario happened. Mark was on his way out of the room to get some breakfast, and I watched as he walked to my door. The door opened, and there were his parents. We didn't give them my room number on purpose. He said he told them not to come in, but there they were. Breaking rules and ignoring decorum, as usual. He escorted them out with him and I was saved.

I texted my mom to complain and then my parents showed up. I didn't really want them there, but at least they're MY parents. I had given them my room number. While they were there, L came to check on me on her way to work. She said I was at 3 cm finally, and was going to break my water to see if she could move things along. She would be back at lunch to check on me. My parents left when she went to break my water and I didn't let them back.

A weird thing that happened with the epidural was that I felt like I was wearing velour pants. I know that makes no sense. I had no pants on, and I certainly don't own velour pants. But for whatever reason, I was convinced I had some on. It all had to do with how numb my legs felt. I still think that's hilarious.

Anyway, when L came back at 11-ish. I was only 5 cm. Everyone was disappointed. Mark found Criminal Minds on TV and I was watching that. I was fine. Why not go get lunch? Just take your phone.

About five minutes after he finally left, a nurse came in.

"How are you doing?"

"I'm okay."

"How are you feeling? Any pressure?"

"Uh, I don't know."

"Well, do you feel like you need to, uh, use the bathroom?"

Embarrassed, I admitted that I did feel like I could, so I wasn't looking forward to the fact that was going to poop while delivering.

"Ummmm I'm going to check you. I've been seeing some things on your monitor that we only see when it's time to push."

She checked me and said that half an hour after being only at 5 cm, I was suddenly at 10 and ready to push.

I panicked. I tried texting Mark but it didn't go through. I called him. They were calling L. I was startingg to feel contractions despite the epidural. They got the anesthesiologist to add something to my IV to take the edge off. They sat me up like a frog. I felt like the baby was going to slide out, so I crossed my ankles and squeezed.

I don't know why they don't tell you that if you feel like you need to take a huge shit, it's time to push. Everything is just called pressure. Or urge to push. No one mentions you think you're going to crap.

L made it from her office and I started 3 hours of pushing. The baby was stuck under my pubic bone for half an hour. They were about to give up on me but he shifted.

I started to tear, so I got a nice big episiotomy.

At 3:07 p.m., I delivered a healthy 7 lb., 14 oz. baby boy after 17 hours of labor.

I held my breath until he cried. I stared at him in wonder. I delivered the placenta. They took him to bathe him and my doctor stitched me up. I lost count at six stitches. Ugh. When they finally sat me up, I was shocked. It looked like an episode of Dexter. I thought it was weird that they had the tarp all over the place. But then I saw why. Holy hell. Blood everywhere.

They tried to get him to nurse, but the lactation lady basically gave up. She got me a plastic spoon and squirted a small amount of milk on it and spoon fed him.

He was tongue-tied, which gave him a lot of trouble.

While I was being stitched, Mark went to tell our parents and siblings that we had a son. When he came back, we had our hour of skin-to-skin. Finally the families could come in. And who led the way? HIS parents. Not the people whose daughter's life was hanging in the balance. But the assholes who have no social skills. I was so hungry. I had sent word to my parents to please bring me food. They went and got me a chicken salad sandwich. It was probably the best I've ever eaten but only because I was ravenous.

I had to get the catheter back in because I hadn't urinated. Once that happened, they wheeled me to my room. It was room 468. And everyone made the joke of it being easy because it was 2 4 6 8 blah blah stupid lameness.

Everyone finally left. They were all so busy holding him and my in-laws were so busy taking pictures of them holding him that NO ONE took a picture of me with him or of the three of us as a family. I'm still very bitter.

But he was here. He was healthy. We both survived. I was exhausted but got basically no sleep.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Hitting the third trimester

Once I hit the third trimester, things started feeling like maybe they would work out. I didn't relax, but I did slowly start releasing that breath I'd been holding. At the same time, my anxiety went up. I couldn't bear the thought of what would happen if something went wrong at this point.

I've mentioned before that August 29 is evil. It's the anniversary of Katrina. It's the weekend I started losing my first baby. It's the due date of the second lost baby. It causes me anxiety every year.

So in 2015, we decided to take it back.

I had resisted doing a registry. But now it was about three months until my due date and my cousin and my best friend were planning a shower. I needed to get some things on the registry. I decided that August 29, which was the tenth anniversary of Katrina, would be the day we would go. It had been such an awful day for ten years. We were going to give it a good event and would also keep my mind off of things.

We made it through almost the whole store and ended at the breastfeeding stuff. I was worn out and my feet hurt and I was just ready to give up because I had no idea what I needed and what I didn't need. So Alicia said she'd go back and walk me through it another day. She called while we were registering to ask my opinion on a few things for the shower because she and Yanna were planning the party at the same time. And while that happened, her son took his first steps. 😁

Anyway, other than being so tired and dealing with a sizeable amount of round ligament pain, we went home. It was as close to at peace as I'd felt on this day in ten years.

Slowly, my friends were having their babies. All of the summer ones were here. The August one was here. September was gearing up. And as each baby came, I moved further up to the front of the line.

I failed the first glucose test and passed the second. I started my NST tests twice a week at week 34. At 36 weeks, I saw my MFM specialist for the last time. More on that later.

I was working my ass off at school. I had to keep up with my extracurricular activities as usual.

That meant bowling with six teams of four kids every Wednesday and keeping stats. Thankfully, my friend Doris, who was in her second year at school, had decided to be my assistant coach. So I started training her to handle all of the bowling responsibilities: schedules, stat tracking, rules and regulations, etc.

That meant coming up with a schedule of events for the year and making sure a journalism kid was assigned to take pictures at every event, as well as assigning yearbook pages through February.

That meant coming up with lesson plans for the week before Thanksgiving (just in case) until Mardi Gras break. And compiling everything for all four preps into a huge binder. That meant running copies so the sub wouldn't have to worry about it.

That also meant directing the school play. I had to hold auditions in August and begin rehearsals in September. Rehearsals started ending at four and ran Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday until November. I moved the play up a week just in case, too, so I had one less week to prepare the kids. By the week of dress rehearsals, I was there until 6 p.m. Every day. I was also 36 weeks pregnant at the time.

The play was Romeo and Juliet. Doris was my art director and also the person I was training to take over in case I got put on actual bed rest or went into labor early.

I had to get two senior parents who always helped with set builds and Doris to help me out. I couldn't be around the paint, sonart teacher Doris handled it. I came up with designs and she made them come to life. I couldn't lift anything or carry anything. The year before, when we did Aladdin, I made most of the costumes. This year I had the kids get their own. Doris was my angel. She did everything she could to keep the kids from raising my blood pressure haha. It was one of our best shows ever.

The weekend of our final build, we were building Juliet's balcony. I brought the giant cardboard box the baby's dresser arrived in to cut up and paint. And then the blade slipped and cut my left hand pretty bad. I almost went to the ER, but I got the bleeding under control. May have needed a stitch or two, but liquid bandages helped a lot and I survived. I was up-to-date on my tetanus shots anyway.

But the best thing of all? The dresser's name was on the box. It was: Verona.

Too good.

The play was amazing. Probably the best show we ever did. I was so proud of them. They presented me with flowers, a card, a Babies R Us gift card, and a framed collage of goofy pics of the cast and crew (including me). It was so wonderful. I love those kids.

That night, we left the play and went straight to Morgan City for his grandparents' 60th anniversary dinner. I thought my bladder would burst. That's an hour and a half in a car at 36 weeks. I don't know why I thought that was a good idea. I was so uncomfortable. But we weren't really given a choice. Remember that several posts from now.

In addition to work stress, I had emotional stress. I mentioned that my Dad's ulcerative colitis was at its worst. We really thought we would lose him. His doctor finally said she'd done all she could and that surgery was the only thing left. He finally had come to terms with this possibility about a month prior. His surgery was scheduled for mid-October. They moved it up a week when he went for his next appointment. Then, they moved it up again. The hospital didn't want to do the surgery then, we found out later, because he was so dangerously anemic. The doctor and the surgeon fought for him and said that if he didn't have his colon removed, he would die. It was an emergency. And so they let it happen.

I left work early that day to keep my mom company at the hospital. Everything went well. It took hours for them to let us see him. They finally let us go to the recovery room. He looked awful and you could see he was in terrible pain. They moved him to his real room and we went to see him. He was so groggy and kept saying to the nurses "That's my grandbaby there."

The next day, I had an MFM appointment. We had my mom come with us since it was at the same hospital where my dad was. She was so excited to see that little face in 4 D.

When that was over, we went to see Dad. He kept saying things like "Take care of that grandbaby for me."

Please note that my dad thinks ultrasounds are disgusting and that he refused to look at any of them. He didn't even want to hear about that appointment, not even drugged up, haha.

Every Halloween, the faculty dressed in costumes to a theme. I started that my second year there, and it was my responsibility to pick the theme. I usually picked it based on a costume I had for camp already, or for a costume I just wanted to do. This year, I had to consider my new body. What would I be? I'd been googling pregnant costumes, and everything sucked. Well, I did see Carl from Aqua Teen Hunger Force, so I would do that for our friend Halloween party. But what could I do at school?

Watching a Saints game one day, there was a shot where I went "Who's that pregnant woman?" Then I realized it was defensive coordinator Rob Ryan in profile. I knew. That was my costume. I bought a grey wig and a maternity Saints shirt. I got sweatpants, too. I borrowed Mark's headset mic for his computer and got grey face paint to make a beard. I decided the theme was celebrities. Our religion teacher came as Sean Payton and the secretary upstairs was Drew Brees. A lower school teacher was Marques Colston. So that was a fun group costume. We had a half day that day, so we went to Fat Harry's for lunch. I was a huge hit in my costume.

I was Carl for our friends' party and then I was a black cat on Halloween.

My school held a Thanksgiving Feast the Thursday before Thanksgiving break. There's a picture of me and the girl due right after me standing in the hallway. We both look so done. I was 37 weeks, she was 36. She had a girl. The bellies we have prove that. I had a boy and carried him so low. Her girl was up very high. I also had dropped already. The Friday of the performance, one of my coworkers came to congratulate me after the show and she said "Somehow, you look way more pregnant tonight than you did this morning!" That's when I knew he dropped.

I was thankful that when he dropped, he turned. More on that in a minute.

The Feast was a half day, and then we had a staff meeting. I was very annoyed until I found out that the staff meeting was a cover for a small party for the two of us. Kelsey had a scheduled induction on December 1 to make sure her mom would be in town for the birth. I had an appointment that afternoon and would see what my doctor had planned.

The week before, I went to the MFM. Some good news: the baby had a urine issue early on. That had completely resolved itself. She was very serious as she told me important information that had me slightly worried, though. She said the baby was breech and also that the stomach looked bigger than the head. While that didn't mean anything was wrong with him, it did present a problem for delivery.

The head is supposed to be the biggest part. It paves the way for the rest of the body. The birth canal adjusts to the head size. So if the head is bigger, the rest should come out easily. But if the belly is bigger, it presents a problem. The birth canal will have trouble adjusting to release the rest. It didn't mean that I had to have a c-section. But my doctor would not be allowed to use forceps, vacuums, etc. to remove him. She would have to go slow and be careful.

But other than that, I was done with her.

The Monday of Thanksgiving week, my doctor basically said the MFM had her scared on the phone that day. She thought she'd have to cancel her appointments and scrub up haha. But she did agree that we should probably induce a week early, which would be December 1, my Dad's birthday. The same day as Kelsey from work. That meant we had a week and a day to prepare.

Thanksgiving was an NST day for me. My doctor would be having Thanksgiving with her family in Cut Off and was bringing my MFM doctor with her, since it was Dr. C's first holiday without her parents around. That's incredibly sweet, but I was concerned. L told me not to go into labor, because they would be together and the food was too good to leave and/or miss. So since neither of them could do my NST, I had to go to the hospital. I parked on the women's center floor of the garage and walked all the way down to the entrance only to realize that because it was a holiday, the entrance was closed. Waddled all the way back to the car and drove to an open level. Cruel!

So an NST is easy. You lay on the exam table propped up. They attach two Velcro belts around your middle. It measures heart rate and movement. You hang out quietly and listen to the heartbeat. The test checks fetal movements. You get left alone for a while and they have the volume up loud enough that they can hear it down the hall. One day, he had hiccups and kept smacking the monitor. So you heard the heart beat and then what sounded like someone smacking a microphone over and over again. L came in at one point to see what was going on, because you could hear him in the lobby!

I used to love listening to him and watching him move then.

It was at one of those appointments after he dropped that we discovered that he was no longer in breech. We know because when the nurse went to hook me up to the machine, she couldn't get it in the right spot to find the heartbeat. She said "oh maybe it flipped!" and she put it cattycorner to where he normally was. Boom. Nailed it. I was so excited.

Oh and one day, I was trying to put the sheets on the crib, but I misjudged the space I had. I turned badly and smacked the hell out of my belly. I bruise easily anyway, and since I take aspirin for the MTHFR, I bruise spectacularly. The nurse had a hearty laugh when I explained my disgusting belly bruise.

Have I mentioned that nurse is named Hope?

Anyway, the test went quickly Thanksgiving morning. I had to go alone because Mark was at work. The test went quickly because he was so active. The nurse running the test at the hospital would be working while I was being induced. As I left, she said "See you Tuesday night!" It was Thursday. Holy crap. Things were getting real.

Confident that I was going to make it to Thanksgiving across the lake at my aunt and uncle's house, I happily left. I had been nervous about the drive, but my aunt and their two daughters are nurses and my cousin's husband was in anesthesiology school, so I knew I'd be in good hands if I went into labor. Spoiler alert: I didn't.

But guys. God's gift to pregnant women is 9-months-pregnant Thanksgiving. I ate all the things. I had on a maternity dress, so there was no tight pants situation. I could just eat. And eat I did.

They wanted to take a group picture of the great-grandkids and they wanted my stomach in there. I didn't want that all over FB. I also didn't want the memory if something went wrong in the next few days. I regret it now. But at the time, I couldn't handle it.

The next day was Black Friday. Mom and I always have lunch and hit sales in the afternoon. We went to The Esplanade because it would be practically empty. I barely made it out of Macy's. We needed pajamas I could wear in the hospital that buttoned. We slowly made our way to Target and I had to take a break. The end was near and I just couldn't do it. So we went back to their house for dinner.

The countdown was on. One last NST on Monday, and checking into the hospital Tuesday night with hopefully a baby Wednesday morning.