May 31, 2012

They Interrupt...

The Cat Daddy is smart; he locks the door every time.  Then the boys knock and ask him what he's doing, because they want details every time.  I don't need details, so I generally leave him alone.  Every so often I'll knock, but generally only if I have a good reason or want to throw him off his game a little. 

I rarely lock the door, especially if I'm the only grown-up present. Sometimes I do, but usually it's an extra step for which I just don't take time.  Heck, I usually don't even take the time to shut the door completely.  While in the shower, I'll hear the door creak open, and I'll sing-song, "Who's there?" and peek around the curtain. And just as often as not, it'll be Zoe or Max:

"Hey Mom, just taking inventory.  I found everyone else, but you left for like two minutes and I had to make sure you were still on the premises.  I'll go now, and leave the door open so all this warm steam can get out and you can cool off."

"Thanks for nothing, Zoe."

So then earlier today, I stole a moment away to, um, take care of some business.  Little E (Yes, I'm thinking that fits nicely. Maybe.) came with me, because at her age she goes with me everywhere about 98% of the time.  It's just not a good idea to leave an almost-8-week-old unguarded in the presence of her extremely well meaning, extremely affectionate, extremely ambitious, and somewhat clumsy brothers.  So she was on the floor, lounging against the Boppy.  This is how we roll.

Obviously, then, within seven seconds the door cracked open and two little eyes peered through, right about the height of a small-ish three year old.

"I'm peeting, Mommy!"


"PEETING! I'm peeting at you!"

"OH! I see you peeking at me. I'm going potty. Can I have some privacy?"


"I'm not surprised."

And then the Cat Daddy called.  And did I answer?  Yes I did.  I don't every time, but in this particular moment the timing worked out, and no one was screaming.

"Hang on, Littler One, lemme talk to Daddy for a minute."

"Daddy's on the phone??  LemME talk to him!"

"No. Hang on kiddo."

Then I talked to the Cat Daddy for long enough to commiserate with him about the cost of our car maintenance this time around (timing belt, etc...'The Big One,' as he calls it), before he was summoned back to work-ish things.  So we hung up, and I got myself together and so on.

"Mommy really likes privacy sometimes.  I might start locking the door."

"Otay, Mommy."

And then of course the Littler One shut the door completely--with me, him, and his little sister still inside--and helpfully locked the door.

"Thanks, buddy"...

May 24, 2012

Homebirth-A-Go-Go 2012--Part IV...

Part I     Part II     Part III     Part V

Well, let's get down to brass tacks. Or is it brass tax? As I was leaning on a chair during a contraction I started to feel pressure down low, as in my butt-region. In short, I felt like I needed to poop. It is estimated that about 30% of women do in fact poo in labor, and if you are familiar at all with my history, then you know it's a "gift" of mine. I poo, and then out comes a baby. Gross, but reassuring if you think about it. Because as I got that sensation part of me thought "Eh, it might just be poop," but most of me thought, "Alright, almost there!!"

But having the (neurotic) desire to remain cool & calm all the time, I said something like, "Carol I'm feeling pressure down low. I might have to go poop." And we talked it over & came to the conclusion that I would sit on the toilet for a little bit and see what happened, with strict instructions not to strain or push. And oh-by-the-way, to give a yell if a baby came out. It was a good plan.

Well, I sat on the toilet through a couple of contractions, but the results were, um, miniscule at best. It was so disappointing. But soon another contraction came, producing a higher quantity of mucus than before, simultaneously grossing out and encouraging me. As I was coming out of the contraction the Cat Daddy knocked to see how I was doing, and I told him to hold on a minute, that I was in the middle of a contraction and would talk to him when it was over. Except in way fewer words. I left out the part about the mucus, because he is squeamish about a lot of things, and talk of mucus right then might have put him over the edge.

Now by this point I knew birth was imminent. Things were moving along nicely. And what did my brain choose to obsess over? Whether or not to put my underwear and jammy-pants back on. I mulled it over for probably a few seconds, but it felt like ten minutes. Seriously, I couldn't decide and then I was all "Who cares, Skerrib, you're in labor for heaven's sake!" So finally I kind of settled in the middle, walking out with my pants draped over my shoulder and explaining myself: "So, I think my pants are staying off, but I still have my underpants on for now." And I told Carol about the mucus.  I can only imagine the things that Carol & Marte hear in the course of the labors they attend. I mean, to me it's mildly outlandish, discussing the state of my pants/underwear and the quantity and hue of my mucus, but it has to be something they deal with all the time, which might explain why they took it all calmly in stride. That, or they are great at pretending to take it all in stride and then giggle about it later on the way home.

So as I was walking out of my bathroom, through the dining room, toward the living room, the next contraction came on. I stopped and grabbed a chair, and within my brain there occurred great chaos, as I could feel everything happening at once. The baby was dropping suddenly, and was going to come out shortly, and the reason I knew this is that the real poop was coming out, and I swear I wasn't consciously pushing, but there my body was, making it all happen. What I consciously thought was, "The baby's coming out." And I think in my desire to be overly-precise and not mislead Carol into believing the baby was coming out at that exact moment, I actually said, "Something's happening."

Over in the living room the Cat Daddy sprung into action, recruiting Marte to help him get the plastic sheet down on the rug. To an extent this made sense, as I gave birth to the Littler One in there. However, in my mind I said, "I'm not making it over there; the baby is coming out here." I don't know how the poop got removed, but I know that it came out into my underwear, and I know that I did not do the removing. I'm not sure exactly what I said, but I know in my mind I was thinking about how to tell Carol that she was going to have to remove my underwear for me, and somehow they ended up about halfway down, right around my knees.

This might seem incredibly gratuitous and unnecessary, but there's a reason to remember it; I promise.

As far as I can tell, Carol put down a chux (?) pad and some towels on the wood floor where we were standing. And then began the yell. With the last birth it snuck up on me, but this time around I was ready. The baby was coming out, and somehow a little yell gives me the oomph to get the baby out as well as the patience not to push too eagerly. I think so, anyway; you'd actually have to ask Carol because she said she didn't remember me yelling too loud, but to me it seemed pretty loud, so it's one of those things that is just whatever it was. And with the yell came the ring of fire, and feeling increasing relief as, still standing in my dining room with my underpants down around my knees, I felt the baby's head come out, and then her shoulders, and then there was one last hangup--I think she had her arm up against her chest or something--and then she was out. Carol might have said "The baby's out," but I don't know. I do know that I thought in my head "I know she's out, because I feel so much better."

Carol had caught the baby from behind me and sort of fed her thru so I could pick her up from the front, but my gifted baby delayed things slightly because she reached out and grabbed onto my underpants on the way! I think this is rather resourceful; I mean, for all she knew she was falling, and when you're falling you save yourself by grabbing onto whatever you can find. She had no idea that she wasn't falling, so it's understandable. But I'm trying to pick her up, and thinking (saying?) "Let go of the underpants so I can hold you!" and I pried her tiny hand open, and then I had to sort of maneuver the cord around her leg a bit (giving me a chance to verify that she was in fact a girl), and then I know I told her "I am so glad you're here!!"

The others rigged up some pillows and towels and such so I could sit down/lie back for a bit. In the dining room. The Cat Daddy took a couple quick photos with his phone, and Carol and Marte did their thing. I know there was observing and charting out the wazoo. There may or may not have been Apgar scores; I don't remember. I might have babbled like a brook or just sat there taking it all in. The things I remember vividly, as with all my babies' births, are the intense relief and gratitude to be not only not pregnant anymore, but also holding a healthy and perfect little kiddo...

Part I  Part II   Part III   Part V

Homebirth-A-Go-Go 2012--Part III...

Part I     Part II     Part IV     Part V

So the midwife and her assistant (Carol & Marte) arrived around 8:45 pm.  I was to the point in labor that I was still wearing pants, and I had to stop and concentrate thru contractions, but otherwise I was all, "Come on in, would you like a drink?" as if we were getting together just for fun.  I don't know why I do that. 

Actually, I know exactly why I do that.  Here's my deal with labor--it is hard work.  I don't ever want to minimize the work of it and tell someone "Oh, it's no big deal," so please kick me in the shin if you hear that come out of my mouth with regard to labor and birthing.  At the same time, while I am entering in and respecting the process and all of that, I don't want to feel completely consumed by it, or I will freak out. The part of me with control issues needs to control something. If I can stay present enough to say things like "please," "thank you," and so on, then I feel like--while it is big and important--it is manageable enough that it will not overcome me, and I will indeed make it through to the other side.  So there's that.

Anyway, if you've been in my living room, you've seen the big rug, the 2 rocking chairs, and the blue & khaki couches.  Really the khaki couch is just tan, but somehow when His Highness started learning colors we started calling it khaki.  And why not?  Khaki sounds so much more interesting than boring old tan.  So picture two very nice ladies sitting on the khaki couch, the Cat Daddy on the old rocker, and me sitting cross-legged on the floor next to a white fitness ball except during contractions, when I draped myself face-down over the ball.  We all sat & chatted.  The Cat Daddy regaled us all with tales of a co-worker who shattered his ankle in an avalanche while ice climbing.  I shook my head in amusement at first, and then a little later I was getting a little annoyed, mostly because labor was moving right along and contractions were getting harder to breathe thru, so I was beginning to hum through them. 

Also during the process I was having a hard time deciding whether I was hot or cold.  When the ladies arrived I had the windows open and they were all, "Gosh, are you feeling warm?" And I was for a while, but then I got cooler and shut the windows, and eventually started shivering a little bit, which I suspect was at least part due to nerves, but when I put on socks & a sweatshirt I stopped shivering, so there's that.  But then I got warm and took the sweatshirt off...and started shivering again before long.  So my clothing was variable.

During all this Carol had listened to the baby's heartbeat a few times.  I liked how she approached it--she didn't seem to have a particular time schedule, but she listened under different circumstances.  For example she listened once in between contractions, once as I was coming out of a contraction, and I forget what the third one was; maybe as I was going through a contraction?  But the cool thing for me is that she could tell me the overall pattern or whatever she was listening for.  And thankfully, the baby was following the normal patterns, giving all indications that she was doing well and was indeed getting ready to come out.

And let's not forget Marte.  From what I can tell, Marte is a champion of charting.  It is most definitely not the only thing she does in the birthing process, but it is one thing that she does prolifically.  I don't even know what all she wrote down, but I'm pretty sure there are lots of things they are watching for during labor in both mom & baby. 

The Cat Daddy finally switched the iPad from YouTube videos of his ice climbing co-worker to the Simon & Garfunkel station on Pandora, and I was grateful.  By this time it was somewhere around 10:30 or 11pm, I believe.  I'd moved over to the blue chair-and-a-half and had stretched out on it and the ottoman.  The dang contractions were getting more annoying though, which really put a damper on my desire to nap.  I can remember starting to complain a little bit by this time, saying I knew I had to get thru this to be done, but that I really didn't like this part of things. 

It's a tricky thing sometimes with labor.  By this point it was past my bedtime, so I was tired and wanted to rest in between contractions.  And not knowing exactly how long labor would go, it is reasonable to want to rest, especially around bedtime.  However for me, it was not the best choice.  The contractions didn't go away, but neither did they pick up or get stronger or anything like that.  So after a time Carol & Marte gently suggested I get up and walk around a bit.  I was good-naturedly-annoyed (is that even possible?), meaning I really did want to take a nap, but I also agreed that getting up would be the best thing to get thru labor and be done so we could all go to sleep for real. 

Awesome thing number 597 about home birthing:  I decided I wanted an English muffin.  So I walked myself over to my toaster, toasted an English muffin, chose to spread apricot jam and butter (olive oil spread, actually) on it, and ate part of it.  Entirely possible in a hospital, yes.  But not nearly as simple a process.

And guess what? The contractions did in fact speed up and even got a little harder, so we all agreed I was staying up and putzing around for a while.  Mostly I just paced around my living/dining room area, taking an occasional bite of English muffin, leaning on my dining chairs during contractions, and complaining that they were getting harder and I was super annoyed by them.  Carol said after the fact that she didn't remember me being all that complain-y, but I sure felt it. 

This is another thing about labor--it is sometimes difficult to remember what you actually said, and what you thought in your head.  There were a few things where I really thought I said them and neither Carol nor Marte remembered me saying them.  It's the ultimate case of "Did I just say that out loud?" except it's entirely possible that the answer is no...

Part I   Part II    Part IV    Part V

We Interrupt...

I soooooo want to finish up the birth story, I promise, but in the meantime I need to get a few throughts out of my head.  They're starting to pile up, and my head is getting full, and that's just...crowded.

--Moving time is creeping up on us a day, a week at a time.  Except that time is traveling at crazy speeds these days so while we're moving on July 9, it turns out that July 9 will be here, like, tomorrow.

--I'm a little Ecclesiastical these days.  I don't know if "Ecclesiastical" has a real definition, but what I mean by it is that I'm looking around in my world, seeing a lot of the same old things.  Cycles such as seasons (in the weather/climate sense)...moving (duh)...babies and kids growing and developing (and for some inexplicable reason wearing one boot and one Croc)...hearing people rant about politics, and baby/child care, and reality TV.  All these things are bombarding me, and I'm thinking "Nothing is new under the sun."  Which is both alarming and reassuring.  So I spent a little time in Ecclesiastes one evening, and I was all "Geez Solomon, you need a cookie, man" but at the same time going "It's so sad but he's dead-on."  And I wanted to skip to the end but I made myself stick with his moaning and groaning and I was still thinking "Cut it out, Solomon!" And when I got to the end...well, there aren't really any neat & tidy answers, except for God, who rarely seems to tie up our loose ends on this side of things.  Which is at once alarming and reassuring.  But I think more reassuring.  It helped me a little bit to calm down and wonder less what/if I needed to do differently to feel better.  My life is in a mildly chaotic place right now, but we are healthy and reasonably there's not much to do at this moment except keep doing what I'm doing (and trust that I'm doing plenty), and hang on for the ride.

--I love (LOVE) humor and sarcasm, but at my deepest, soft chewy core I am a Tenderheart.  Sometimes these things seem in competition, but I decided they are just aspects that come out at different times.  These days I'm a little fragile, so I lean toward Tenderheart.  It's not that things aren't funny, it's just that the fragile is a little more at the forefront than the funny. 

--I'm also what one of the major women's magazines calls a Ruminator.  Which basically means I think a lot, to the point that sometimes I need to shut it down a bit and go banter with someone. And maybe more often. But maybe not. 

--I did a great job keeping the house super-neat for, like, almost four weeks.  Then I let down for a bit and felt about 70% more relaxed.  Thereby proving that chores are the cause of so many evils in this world. Now I'm ramping up again til we sell the dang house...evil chores.

--The relationship of moving and relationships--don't even get me started.

These are the things on my mind lately.  Also these things: His Highness is trolling for food, the Littler One is going down the stairs in the pop-up tunnel, and the Wee One (eh, probably not) needs to eat. 

And chores...

May 6, 2012

Homebirth-A-Go-Go 2012--Part II...

Part I     Part III     Part IV     Part V

So then things were boring for a while.  More paperwork, more writing down start times for contractions...and dang it if they didn't start getting closer together.  And I thought, "Well, maybe something really is happening. I'd better get this paperwork done just in case." 

Unfortunately though, the paperwork was just too involved to finish right then.  It was a really long and really boring form requiring things like old addresses, people who "knew me when," alternate names for the color beige, and so on.  Things I would have to dig around a bit to find. And my 'puter was forcing me offline so it could do some updates for work.  Plus by now it was in the 5's, and the natives were getting hungry, and I thought, "If something really is happening I should probably feed my children."  So there was that. And then there were the early-labor tasks, like making up the bed (good sheets on bottom, plastic layer, and old sheets on top), and prepping the egg-bake for the after-the-birth meal, and so on. All to say, I put away the work stuff and got down to business on home stuff.

The interesting thing to me about the next few hours--except for the fact that I was fairly convinced I was finally in labor--is how ordinary was the course of events. The Cat Daddy came home at his regular time, having not even looked at my texts until I told him about them, thereby rendering all of them moot. I gave Carol a call just before dinner to check in, and based on my descriptions she said it sounded pretty labor-ish (my words), and to call again in an hour (or sooner if it all hit the fan--my words again).  Then there was dinner, and bathtime, and pulling the Littler One out of a mailbox a couple times (which wasn't nearly as bizarre as it sounds), though not in that order.  Then the Cat Daddy ushered the boyz to their slumber party and ran a coupla quick errands while I called Carol back.  She determined that, while it was still likely a little early in the process, she and her assistant (Marte, pronounced like Marta) would pack up their gear and head my way. For the most part I felt calm and happy and not-competitive, but there was that one part of me that went "YES!!" 

**I feel the need to clarify the nature and reason behind the "YES!!"  With the homebirthing, things can get hairy if two or more moms go into labor at the same time.  But not that hairy--quite simply, lots of midwives work back-up for each other.  So if the first-time mom's labor had progressed quickly and Carol headed over there, then the back-up midwife (a lovely and fantastic lady who was the primary midwife for a friend of mine, so I felt pretty comfortable about her even thought I'd never met her) would have come to me, and we all would have been quite content and well-cared-for.  While this is a fantastic and effective system of contingency plans, I was grateful for Plan A.  Hence the "YES!!"  And as it turned out, the first-time mom did not go into full labor that night, so no one had to "beat" anyone to anything, which made me feel good because I like it when things turn out nice & neat that way. End digression.** 

By this point it was 7:30ish and the ladies were shooting to arrive around 9ish (packing time plus a 45-min drive).  Also by this point, the house was as clean as it was gonna get, so we finished the early-labor tasks.  Then we were all "What do we do now?" and decided to put the office back together.  See, we had painted it a couple weeks prior, and the stuff was still out in our family/play room, so we figured we might as well do what we could before things got really intense, what with a baby coming out and all.  I did leave the bulk of the lifting to the Cat Daddy--my main tasks were running cables to the modem and so on so they would be nice & neat.  There were contractions every few minutes in there, during which I would stop & sit & breathe thru them. After that it was 8:30, and there were some ticky-tack-type tasks to do (filing, anyone??) but I got about 5 minutes into those before deciding I didn't really want to do that anymore.  I told the Cat Daddy, "I'm gonna go upstairs & hang out while I wait for Carol & Marte."  He teased me about bailing on him, and I made snide remarks that were equal parts "I love you" and "Tread lightly, Buster Brown."

See?  Boring...

Part I    Part III    Part IV   Part V