Category Archives: family
the second most important thing in my life
i’m sharing the story of my son’s birth this week. if you missed yesterday’s preface to this story, you might want to read it for the background on my bizarre start to labor.
the day before graham arrived, ten days before his due date, i decided to drive to my hometown to work one final day with an author there who was thisclose to finishing her book. my hunch was that baby boy was going to hang out in there a few days longer than calculated, anyway, and i wanted to finish up this editing job.
i spent the evening visiting my amazing titu and enjoying a late-nite chat with my dad. i finally went to bed around midnight, not even sorry that i would be probably be tired at work the next day.
i woke at 3:00 am with a full bladder, cursing myself for forgetting to set my pee alarm. my bladder was bulging, again, but this was the first time that i could not urinate no matter how i positioned or pressed. i was freaking out, running through worst-case scenarios in my head as i did acrobatics around the bedroom, trying desperately to make the baby move.
after practicing every prenatal yoga inversion i could remember and pleading out loud with graham to please move, i was finally successful. relieved (in more ways than one), i went back to bed about 4:00 am hoping to at least doze in an upright position for a few hours.
but every time i shifted a bit, i felt a little gush down there. my thoughts immediately associated this with my crazy condition and the previous scary incident. great, i broke my bladder. now i’m peeing myself.
and then i realized that every time i felt a little leak, i also felt kinda crampy. hmmmm, were the gushes and cramps coinciding with my movements or coming periodically? i gave up on sleep and got up to evaluate.
after about half an hour of occasional cramping and padding my underwear with tissues to determine if it smelled like urine (pregnancy is so glamorous), i texted our doula an “is this anything?” message, not wanting to alert too many people if i was just gassy and incontinent. i didn’t know.
when a response didn’t come quickly, i decided to called my midwife. she recommended that i at least come to the hospital and get checked out. she knew. when she said to bring my bags just in case, i didn’t tell her i was actually an hour and a half away.
i delayed calling lee until around 5:30, when i knew his alarm would be going off, anyway. still not sure i was experiencing the real thing, i told him to go on in to work and just be on standby. he knew. when he seemed shocked that i hadn’t yet woken my dad, i didn’t tell him i was thinking about going to work for an hour or two before heading back.
uncertainty played around in my mind as i gathered my things. everyone says you’ll know a real contraction when you feel one, right? if my water had broken, wouldn’t contractions be more intense? this has to be a symptom of my weird bladder issue. but the gushiness and crampiness continued, so i put on a huge pad (that i’m sure had been in the bathroom drawer for at least a decade) and prepared to head back to okc.
my early-bird dad was already awake when i went downstairs. (little did i know, he had been up for awhile wondering about all the movement he heard upstairs.) i told him about my change in plans, assuring him it was probably a false alarm. he knew. when he told me to let him know what they said at the hospital, i didn’t tell him that i was thinking about just heading home and waiting it out there.
even as i pulled onto the highway,* i still wasn’t convinced i was in labor. that would soon change.
check back tomorrow for part 2 of graham’s birth story. it gets better.
*i’m still surprised that my dad let me leave and didn’t insist on driving me himself. way to play it cool, dad.
when i imagined what childbirth would be like, i suppose my vision was pretty cliché. i figured i’d spend the last few days before my due date wondering if that would be The Day. when the time came, i thought i’d labor at home for awhile, while lee timed contractions and we excitedly asked each other “is it time to go yet?” i hoped i’d have the bags all packed and waiting by the door, and we’d strategize which route to take based on the traffic that time of day. maybe i’d even get a dramatic water-breaking moment like they do on tv. buuuuut life is unpredictable, right?
let me take a moment here to say that my pregnancy was a breeze. my biggest complaint was not being allowed to sleep on my back or stomach, and i felt pretty normal even through the third trimester. let that be an encouragement to all the pre-preg girls out there who, like me, have read the loooooong list of horrible symptoms of pregnancy and assumed it would be nine months of misery. while it’s true that most women endure at least a handful of chronic discomforts and strange or gross indications of pregnancy, it doesn’t have to be miserable.
however, in the last two weeks of my pregnancy, things got weird.
my long baby had grown to the point that he seriously crowded my bladder (normal). but when i would lie down at night, he would shift so that he shoved my bladder to the side (not normal). i would wake up with two bumps rather than one – one for the baby and one for my distended bladder! (when i showed the gruesome photo to my very experienced midwife, she actually pulled the Seinfeld-esque, “um, i’ve never seen that before,” and hurried out of the room to consult a specialist.)
it was such tight quarters in there that graham’s little head actually pinched the urethra closed when he was in this nighttime position. this made it impossible empty my bladder in the morning without manually pressing on it from the outside to force the fluids out. kinda funny, kinda scary, really annoying.
the specialist was concerned enough for the long-term health of my bladder and urinary tract that he had me setting an alarm for every two hours at night to get up and pee, and measuring my output to make sure i wasn’t getting overfull. how unfair is it that all that extra pregnancy fluid is processed more quickly while you’re sleeping?
when the oddity persisted, i resorted to “sleeping” sitting up and leaning over a tower of pillows to prevent the baby from wedging himself in the corner of my belly (i was paranoid that reclining would give me a posterior baby.) i guess that’s what karma gave me for having a breezy pregnancy, right?
i know we’re bordering on TMI, now, but all these gory details are necessary to set up why i spent more than four hours in early active labor before i realized it.
stay tuned for part 1 of graham’s birth story tomorrow morning…it’s a good’un.
motherhood is engaging.
i’m drawn into each new day with a transformed sense of purpose, as if i’m finally flexing all my muscles. i wake with an energy that has nothing to do with how much sleep i’ve had.
i connect more with other mothers now that i can relate to the endless source of conversational topics. i can see, now, why moms never seem to tire of comparing notes and swapping advice and stories.
i’m absorbed in a dialogue of coos and sighs when my son interacts with me as i talk to him. my whole world stops and my complete attention is gripped by his audible response to me.
graham has really started “talking” and responds to us with breathy “hoos” and “ahhs.” i love this preview of his sweet little voice. i would feel rather special when he talks to me if he didn’t also find the toys hanging above his play mat equally good conversationalists.
sometime over the last month he opened up his fists and started using his hands. when he sits propped up and clasps them together he looks so grown up to me. and he is growing up – or he’s growing long, at least. he is now more than 40 percent of of my height (26.25 vs 62.5 inches) and he fully fills out the length of his six-month clothes.
and now for your monthly dose of grainy phone photos.
where do they put the “pause” button on babies?
every nursing mama knows that breastfeeding can be an exhausting, wonderful, frustrating, rewarding, confusing, tender journey. most women welcome experienced advice and encouragement in the beginning, which is why lactation consultants have full-time careers mentoring breastfeeding mothers, and volumes have been written on latching, milk supply, positioning, “let down,” pumping, and every other aspect of this amazing gift.
however, i’ve found that there are a few cautionary tips missing from the standard literature on breastfeeding, and i feel it is my duty to pass along this information.
what the experts say: breastfeeding can be a sweet time of bonding between mother and baby.
what they forgot to mention: don’t try to connect with your infant by talking to him while he is feeding, as he may decide to stop drinking and smile at you while the milk is still flowing, drenching you both.
what the experts say: nursing mothers need to consume extra calories to produce milk for the baby.
what they forgot to mention: refrain from snacking while nursing. crumbs falling on your baby’s head may cause him to jerk his face upward while still latched, and this is to be avoided at all costs.
what the experts say: with practice, baby’s latch will become more effective and comfortable.
what they forgot to mention: even professional athletes miss the target sometimes. if something should go awry on the approach and your baby’s latch lands an inch or two off-mark, try to keep your screaming at a volume that won’t damage the baby’s hearing.
maybe these advisories can make it into the next edition of The Breastfeeding Book and help other new mothers out there.
motherhood is invigorating.
my body is energized by a rush of endorphins every time he captivates me with his delightful grin. it doesn’t hurt my ego, either, that he smiles in recognition of me, now.
my spirits are lifted by small successes and steady progress in parenting. it’s amazing what proficiency in bathtime and baby cries can do to brighten your mood.
my imagination is excited by thoughts and prayers about who this baby boy will grow to be. his personality is showing stronger all the time, and i’m eager to see him exhibit his individuality more and more.
we’re still taking loads of grainy phone pics, because while i try to keep the schmancy camera handy, it’s not always within arm’s reach like the phone. at least now i try to follow up with high-quality shots if the moment doesn’t pass too quickly.
but we may be stuck with gritty photos in all poorly-lit settings for awhile, because using the flash either makes him cringe like a vampire in the sun…
or go bug-eyed as if someone got a little aggressive with the diaper cream.
month three is my favorite so far.
motherhood is exhausting.
it’s physically tiring, of course, to devote so much energy to meeting another human’s every need. add to that sleep deprivation and the stress of a learning to nurse comfortably and…i don’t think this is new information, here.
it’s mentally demanding to read, learn, talk, think (and worry) about all the things that could potentially harm my baby or his growth if i am not vigilant to protect against them or promote the proper development. i only thought the info-overload during pregnancy was overwhelming!
it’s emotionally draining to love someone this much. i feel like my heart is being stretched every day.
when i feel sluggish, i usually turn to movement to get myself energized again, so the fact that running was off limits for awhile was very disappointing. i spent six weeks waiting and sighing and tapping my toes and checking the calendar, anxious to get to that six-week mark so i could be cleared by my midwife to run again. my body was itching to get moving, and just walking was not doing it for me.
THEN, six weeks rolls around, bringing with it a completely different baby, and all of a sudden my energy is zapped by sleepless nights and rocking and shushing and singing and standing on my head or whatever-works-to-make-the-crying-stop. thankfully, this fussy stage seems to be fading, validating the dreaded 6-8 week period that has been every bit as trying as we were warned it could be.
in general, graham’s days are pretty cushy. he gets to go back to bed after breakfast, take a scenic ride around the neighborhood in the afternoon, and snuggle with dad every evening.
the weather has been so unusually nice that we’ve been savoring leisurely daily strolls for weeks. i keep waiting for winter to arrive and break up the party, only to enjoy an encore of sunny 70-degree temps. i’m truly grateful for the chance to get outside and let the fresh air clear some of the fog from around my tired brain.
thanksgiving gatherings this month brought the opportunity to finally introduce graham to some very important people, and he spent the week being cuddled by family in three different cities.
when you’re only two months old, you have a lot of “first” experiences. for graham, this month included his first bedlam game, during which he might have encountered his first curse words.
as you can see, he didn’t get to choose his allegiance. we’ll see who he roots for as he grows, but either way, he’s been born into a house divided.