Thursday, February 01, 2007

Coming clean

I've come to realize I can't keep this up. I think having a blog, you have certain responsibilities. I can't meet them. I have the boy, the husband, one full time job and a part-time job (my own consulting business) I'm trying to make into a full time job. I feel guilty that I don't update, so I wanted to come clean. I probably won't update.

I'm still interested in what's going on with all of you, so expect to see me in your comments. But for now, I'm admitting to the hiatus I've been taking.

Thank you all for sharing pieces of yourself with me. It's cliche, but true - it has meant more to me than I can say. I feel honored to know you.

Monday, November 27, 2006

*sigh*

Ha. So I thought, sure, I'll blog more often. Really, Elle, get a grip. So not going to happen. Oh well. I have the best of intentions. It's certainly not for lack of drama. Related to the last post - now I have a milk blister on my nipple. And Jack's teething - screams bloody murder when he nurses - sometimes. I feel like g0d is laughing at me - "You foolish woman! You dare to nurse! I will break your will to live!" But I trudge on. Now that Jack's 6 months (!?!*&%!!!) we're going to try big boy foods and see where that takes us. I'm hoping to have him and me weaned by the end of January. {and just to make it perfectly clear, I do supplement with formula - I"m not that crazy}

Ladies, can we talk frankly here? For those of you who had vaginal births, are you having problems with sex? I am. There's nothing going on down there - like I've been denatured. It's a major bummer, to put it mildly. Ok, not nothing, but very little sensation. Like James could work out all night for naught. It's so depressing. I wonder if it has anything to do with my tearing at Jack's birth, or the fact that - apparently - I lost pieces of my inner labia. That's what they tell me. All this is incredibly upsetting - the fact that I may never have an orgasm again and that our sex life - the very little there is - is forever changed for the worse. At least it's not super painful anymore. But really, this is shitty payback for giving birth. Wasn't all that enough?

And the stretchy vagina - does anyone else have that? Where you are walking down the street and it makes a loud, suction noise? It's fecking horrifying.

*sigh*

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The bummer of breastfeeding

That last post was pretty scandalous - I shouldn't just drop off a picture and walk away. I feel like that's cheating. I keep thinking "egads, I'm so busy right now", but if Jenn can manage to pen meaningful entries, I can at least try.

Right now, my problems are with breastfeeding. Actually, it's been like this since Jack was probably 1 month. As I have Lyme, the recommended protocol is to stay on antibiotics while breastfeeding as a protective measure. I say "stay" b/c I have been on amoxicillan for my entire pregnancy. That makes two years total, including treatment to make myself well enough to get pregnant. I know all about how bad long-term ABX is, but, well, I'm not going to get into the complications of Lyme disease. You can g00gle it and earn your MD as you read.

So, Jack has not been a great nurser - he's always been fussy and disagreeable. Some days I would try to force him (as nicely as I could) to nurse. I'm thinking - why is he being such a pill?! This would be a source of endless frustration. Nursing was already half my day, now a baby that puts up a fight makes it infinitely protracted. It got so bad in August, we went back to the lactation consultant. She diagnosed him with thrush (yeast infection in his mouth). I had thought the white veneer on his tongue was milk. (because I'm just a dope) And this thrush gave him reflux. "Worst mother of the year" doesn't begin to cover how badly I felt. I had thought he was putting up a fight because he was cranky, but he was in pain when he'd nurse from the acid reflux. No wonder! Looking back, I realized our entire nursing relationship had been defined by thrush and reflux. (btw, he is not the "scrawny screamer" mentioned in the website - he's gaining well b/c I realized if I pumped and put it in a bottle, he'd drink it. We also use formula - I'm not a purist).

As I say, it was diagnosed in August. It's now October and we're still dealing with it. He and I are both taking acidophilous, which I think is keeping the problem from getting worse, but not rectifying (I am still on the antibiotics, after all, and have to be while I nurse. The catch-22). He's been on nystatin, which didn't help at all. Gentian violet worked amazingly and immediately, but in the short term only. For reasons unknown to me, it can't be used for more than 3 consecutive days without a significant break in between. And all his ineffectual nursing means that I have developed clogged ducts. How have humans survived thousands of years by nursing? It's so complicated! I guess they didn't have amoxicillan.

So, tonight, despite the mess it makes (blue lips and boobs), we are back to the gentian violet. I'm also going to cut WAY back on my sugar intake and hope that this finally does the trick.

And as everyone must think I'm an uber-grouch, I'd like to say that I do now like nursing. Some days it's hard, (like Saturday morning after a night of boozing and little sleep) since I'm the only source of food, but I enjoy the breaks. I'm one of those people who works like a maniac (I stay up some nights til 3am to get things done while he sleeps) and having this little person saying "take time out to care for me" is a gift. It was something I resisted for a while and found hard to adjust to, but now that feeding times have become more manageable, and even though we still have our difficulties, I really enjoy it. It's our special time together. I'll miss it when it's over.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

I'm a terrible blogger

but you all already knew that. I read Thalia's comment from some weeks ago and agreed with it whole heartedly. I really did. But there have been things about being a new mom that I couldn't bear to state out loud.

For weeks I thought "who is this baby and why won't his parents come take him out of my house!" It was an amazing shock that breastfeeding, at least for the first 6 weeks or so, is a 24-7 job. Non-stop milk machine. That made me angry. I felt really frustrated and smothered.

Then I read other blogs where their natural births were described in beautiful, lovely terms. Where strangers would read the entries and weep over the poetry of new life. Not here. Again, bad bad mother. I only remember great pain and trauma. There were no Disney moments in it for me. No feelings of strength or waves or overwhelming joy. Just "thank f*&%ing g*d that's over".

And wow does he take up an amazing amount of my time. I know, I've heard it before that babies are a lot of work. And it's true! So for a long time I felt resentful towards not having any me time. No time for me to pursue my dreams.

I had days where I cried as I rocked him in his car seat while he wailed. I couldn't pick him up, I felt exhausted from touching him all day.

I've found motherhood to be really hard. Not bad, but hard. It's not apple pie and stardust. It's spit up, poop and exhaustion. And I thought it was me. I'm a bad person. I wanted a baby for ages, and now my perfect, healthy little boy is here and I'm a horrible mother. But reading Pru's entry, bolstered my nerve to come out of the closet.

About a month ago, I felt like I was starting to get the hang of it. And now, finally NOW I feel like he is mine. Or of me, not really mine. He is himself, I was just a vehicle for him to be here. And he is here.

Now I miss him when he naps. I think about him when I'm at work. I hover over his crib to smell him at night. I cry over the fact that soon he'll have teeth. I'm over the moon when I make him laugh.

I don't feel so much like a mother, but I do feel like his mother. I'm defining it as we go along.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Monkey Man

Our little Monkey is a boy! Jack was born May 26 at 6.15am, weighing 7lbs 1oz (NOT a small baby, hmpf) and 19 3/4" He's been with us for not even a week yet, and it already feels like he's been in my life forever.

The labor, however, was another story entirely. Twenty-five hours, twelve of which were utter hell. Honestly, I don't know how women do it (even though I just did). Pre-labor started at midnight Wed/Thurs with lower back cramps like a period. By 4.30am I woke James up - contractions had started. We spent early labor at home. Our doula came about 9am and was invaluable in offering pain management ideas and in talking about what was ahead. By the time we got to the hospital it was 4.30 pm and I was 3cm dilated. I was pretty disappointed that I hadn't gotten further along in twelve hours.

By 10pm I was only at 5 and deliriously exhausted. The contractions for these 2 cms were unbearably awful. I had been framing the whole ordeal like a marathon, thinking I could cope with the pain. But it wasn't anything like a marathon, unless there are marathons where at every mile a body part is sawed off and no pain medicine is administered. I have never felt so out of control in my life. I'm fairly certain I could have been declared legally insane.

In addition, I was getting dehydrated. I had been vomiting everything I took in and was hysterical sobbing that I couldn't do it - I was so tired. I was given stadol, which helped my outlook on the world enormously. It allowed me to sleep for about an hour and made the contractions manageable. I had the weirdest dreams though - like Alice in Wonderland kind of stuff. There was a bald man with a green suit who looked like Fred from I Love Lucy. We were in a concert hall filled with empty chairs. When I had a contraction, one of the chairs would turn a color. I asked what it was - "oh that's a contraction, but it's not yours". The drug, it was good.

The next few hours passed with me in good spirits - which is not right for someone in active labor. At 2.30am we found out why - I was still at 5cm - stalled. The midwife decided to break my waters and get things moving. That's when the fun really began. The pain was beyond anything could be put into words. It was like being on a ride that had gone wildly out of control. At this point, I was screaming for help, that I was going to die and couldn't take it anymore. I wanted to go home and threw myself on the floor, trying to tear the IV out of my arm. I started begging for an epidural. My husband and doula were telling me "you can do it" but I started screaming "I don't WANT to do it!" The pain was terrorizing - when I wasn't going through it, I knew it would come back just as bad in seconds.

And fuck Lamaze. That was a COMPLETE waste of time and money. The little "tricks" I was taught to deal with the "rushes" HA laughable. I wanted out.

So an hour and 40 minutes after my bag of waters was broken, the midwife and nurse came in with a wheelchair to bring me upstairs to labor and delivery for sweet release. Unfortunately, the pain had changed. When I saw them I yelled "I have to PUSH!". They checked my cervix - I was at 10cm. Dilated FIVE cm in less than 2 hours. Yeah, the very definition of pain, right there.

So now I'm pushing on contractions. The medical staff checks my abdomen for contractions and the baby's heartbeat, husband administers cold compresses and I keep yelling for them all to stop touching me. I had read that pushing is a relief. LIE! It's different, but extraordinarily painful just the same. They ask if I want a mirror. No. Pictures of the delivery? No. What do I want? To go home, for the horror to be over. The baby? Who cares!

One hour to crown and then...another hour to get the head out. James and I were instructed to place our hands under the armpits and pull him out. So now my gray-blue little baby boy is lying on top of me, my husband is sobbing and kissing me and I am just numb. I don't care about anything but that the pain is over. I had no reaction to having him there. I had dreamed about the day I would hold my Monkey in my arms, and my reaction was empty, cold, indifferent. Ah, the beauty of natural childbirth.

I wanted to be truthful here about what my experience was like for me, because it took me days to get over the betrayal I felt. I felt as though I had been lied to by birth mothers. My birth experience was horrible, the pain - which "legitimized" the process - was so awful that it left me devoid of all feeling for my newborn. I still feel guilty about it - I don't know that I'll ever get over feeling that way. I've since spoken to other women who feel guilty about their own experiences - for having an epidural and experiencing little pain, for having a c-section. It's so sad that we are burdened with this emotional baggage after having to bear the physical ordeal of our lives.

But it's over. And he's here. My heart has been torn wide open.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Ah, Free at Last!

It's official! Today is my first day of maternity leave. And how do I feel? Crappy, I have a cold - fever (slight), sinus pressure, stuffy nose, sore throat. How this is possible is beyond me. But here I am, about to give birth, and I'm sick! And I have a report to finish up, so really, it's not like I'm not working.

As for the birthing part, I had another pelvic exam yesterday. Am 1cm dilated. Have been feeling pms-y, SO tired, and just out of sorts. And as of this past weekend, have had pain in my left groin. I thought I pulled something, but no, those are contractions apparently. So, it has begun. My midwives tell me I could go any minute - the baby is ("whoa!" "wow!", etc) WAY down there, apparently. I think Monkey wants to come out.

I hope I make it to Saturday. James and I have dinner plans, it would be our last hoorah. And I have an amazing sounding pedicure appt prior. I need a little tlc at this point.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

How Did I Get HERE???

I hate when you all don't post regularly. HATE IT! Cuz don't you know I need my curiosity sated? I want to know you are ok, that things are working out. And here I am - oh, it's evil. I can't believe the last time I posted was in February! That seems impossible. That three months have gone by. That this Tuesday I'll be THIRTY-EIGHT weeks. I am not making this up. I am full term and so could go any day. wow.

And the "going" - well, I think I am finally wrapping my brain around that. For quite a while I have been slightly terrified about the prospect of giving birth. That said, I want as natural a birth as possible. I have midwives. We are using a birthing center. I read books, which sort of helped. The Lamaze classes were useless. We just found a labor doula (I knew she was the one when she had to find where she'd written down her cell phone number, b/c she hardly uses it - ah a kindred spirit). It doesn't seem that those two disparate pieces go together, I know, the fear and the naturalness. But I feel really strongly that I want as little intervention as possible, in spite of the terror.

I remember running the marathon, and how impossibly awful that was - how I sobbed at mile 19, but managed to keep going. I didn't stop once. It wasn't pretty, bleeding nipples, impossibly sore legs, chafed thighs. And how much it helped that James managed to cheer me on a mile 5 AND mile 24. Mile 24 I was desparate, and there he was. I think this will be similar, at least, that is how I am framing it for myself.

Other updates - had a pelvic exam on Monday - I'm effacing! I was rather shocked to hear that my cervix was softening up - I thought I would somehow know I was transitioning. But then again, the fact that I have had Braxton Hicks contractions was a total surprise to me - I don't feel anything. The baby is head down, way down apparently, and weighs 6 lbs 13oz. And the amniotic fluid is the "perfect" amount. So, Monkey's looking good. I still don't feel super pregnant. Like when I tell people, oh, I'm due the 23rd, as in THIS month, I'm lying. I've only gained 23 lbs and the baby is way in there, so my belly makes me look like a fraud. (Note to world: DON'T tell a pregnant woman her baby is tiny. It will result in a foot up your ass).

Something else that puzzles me - the need for random strangers to comment on my pregnancy. Like the shout out - "baby girl, 9lbs, 3 oz" or "it's a BOY, it's a BOY". Um, I live in a city with 8 million other people, I can't be the first pregnant New Yorker. So why do people treat me so weirdly? It creeps me out so much that I run from other pregnant women - I don't want to be part of any cult. It also freaks me out to see women wheeling strollers around. I don't know why. Something about soon joining their ranks, it's disturbing. Maybe because despite the fact that the baby moves around all the time, that things look good, it is still so abstract. I have no idea how my life will change - I just know that it changes dramatically and permanently. And I can't wait for that, but there is something about the private part of the three of us vs. the public face of the three of us. I can't explain it. I ate too many brownies and my mind is racing.

I'll write more soon, I swear. Thanks, everyone, for checking up on me :-)

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Pregnant Belly in Puerto Rico

Finally! At 25 weeks pregnant, I felt like I was pregnant to the outside world. James and I went to Puerto Rico for some fun in the sun last week. Given the lack of winter clothing, people on the street would smile or comment. Of course, one woman asked me if I was 4 months. FOUR! Anyway, the first day was rather freaky, with people staring at my belly. I soon got used to it though, and it was fine. I felt pregnant, people were treating me like I was pregnant. Weird.

I know it's blurry, but this is the best belly shot of me I could find (I forgot to pack my strapless bra, hence the shopping...)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Feeling better

James and I spent a lot of time this past weekend chewing on all this information - again - and, we are feeling much better. We came back to the same place, we think they are full of it, we don't want amnio, we think the baby is perfect. It was a really hard place to be, but I feel really good with our decision. The thing with the amnio, it's such a slippery slope. People say that they are happy they did amnio usually if they have a positive outcome. but what if something is wrong? Then you spend the next 5 months miserable. I really doubt it helps to "know in advance", at least, it wouldn't help us.

We also decided that this is what we signed up for as parents. There will be lots of unknowns through the life of this child, and none will have tests that will tell us definitively what the outcome will be. James said peace of mind comes from within, not from amnios. I know, it makes him sound like a Zen master, but believe me, he's not. This idea really resonated with both of us, and it feels like the right decision for us.

For days it was oppressive to think about, it made me miserable. But truly, I feel like I "dealt" with it and now it's over. Now I can enjoy the movements of my little monkey and think it's all going to be ok.

I did have weird dreams last week, most involving someone with Down's syndrome. The last one I had Monday night was with my baby - a boy born with a dark mop of hair (from me) and big blue eyes (from James) and...chromosomally perfect. James thinks it was the baby saying hello (although he thinks it's a girl). It was very comforting.

So, I am back to enjoying being pregnant. It just came over me, week 19, that the worry lifted and I started believing I would actually get a baby out of it. It's a weird feeling, but wonderful.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

I feel like Pigpen

You know that character from the Peanuts cartoons? He is very dirty and has a black cloud following him? That's what I feel like (except I shower pretty regularly).

December 30th we had our anatomy scan sonogram. Everything was perfect - our little monkey already weighed 12 oz (at 19 wk, 3 days) and had all it's bits and bobs. One highly disturbing and totally unexpected thing was the finding of intracardiac echogenic foci in the left ventricle (aka a white blob - the heart's anatomy was perfect). Apparently about 10 years ago these were thought to be correlated with chromosomal abnormalities - like downs, and so amnio was strongly recommended. These days, only half the literature thinks its correlated to anything, calling it a "soft marker". Still, they had to tell us it was there - ONLY b/c I am 35. If I were 34, they would never have pointed it out.

So, instead of a pleasant morning watching our little monkey thrash about (what an active little bugger!!), we spent 5 hours in the hospital talking to doctors and genetic counselors and crying (well, that was me). It's crazy, b/c our integrated screening calculated risk for the monkey was 1/10000 for downs and 1/2500 for tri 18. Since a severe genetic problem would have shown something anatomically incorrect on the scan, they were pushing the downs theory. The dr. even went so far as to say that this "finding" made the genetic screening moot! (which is strange, b/c according to the genetic counselor, there is NO agreed upon correlation btw this "white blob" and ANY problems!) Another problem was that the genetic counselor couldn't give us a new relative risk or contextualize it at all. And there are lots of babies that have this and are perfectly healthy. After a long discussion with James, we decided this was pure scare tactics. We were feeling really pressured into an amnio, but we don't want one. We weren't convinced that it was worth it.

And we felt that Monkey was perfect and felt really good about our decision. I didn't even turn to Dr. Google.

Until...

Until I had my 21 week appt with my midwife yesterday. I wasn't prepared to hash out all these details again. The parts of the discussion that scared me were that James and I think we wouldn't terminate for Down's syndrome. But the midwife talked about how everyone thinks it's like Corky from TV, but he is the exception as a highly functioning person with Down's. How there are other medical complications - cardiac, leukemia. How stressful it is on the marriage, finances, etc. How most women would choose to terminate. It scared me. It made me think I am being too pollyanna - that we could "handle" it. But handle what? What does it mean to have a child with a disability?

I know, we don't know for certain. But for some reason, this feels like a death sentence to me. I can't shake the feeling that my monkey is doomed.

Anyone who has anything positive to share - please do. I need some encouragement here.

More on intracardiac echogenic foci