Sunday, July 31, 2011

Questions We Should Be Asking

Does anyone NOT get devil farts after having more than one Fiber One product? Those bars are so flipping delicious, but I just won't keep them in the house for fear of eating them too often and turning my guts into the land of poopy nightmares.

Does anyone like saxophone music anymore? It's like it died with Seinfeld. Am I the only one who just can't stand it these days?

Is summer TV hiatus just a terrible joke? Or some kind of betting opportunity where producers compete to see who can get the most people to watch the most terrible show?

Does MTV see no irony in the commercials that come on during 16 & Pregnant and Teen Mom (2)? Every commercial break is basically several minutes of twentysomethings pretending to be teenagers who are about to be/in the middle of/talking about having sex, and then MTV suddenly gets all contrite and says, "Teen pregnancy is 100% preventable!" and gives a website that does its best to give teens info about getting tested for STDs and hides the "100% preventable" portion through a link below the fold. At least they actually mention that abstinence is pretty common (not "unrealistic" as many would have you believe), and wishing you had been abstinent is common too. But honestly, what can we expect of teens whose parents aren't doing the most important part of raising them: not letting them watch MTV, where (judging by the commercials) EVERYONE over the age of 15 is DOING IT?

Why does Apple keep making devices that could be awesome, but then crippling them into expensive status symbols? Like a $500 Angry Birds playing machine that also lets you read Cracked online—do you really need that?

Just how much can I dye my hair before I start to look high maintenance or crazy?

Why, when there are such good cartoons out there like "Avatar: The Last Airbender," are so many kids shows these days so terrible? Any time I somehow get stuck in front of children's TV, I feel like the show was written not only for 8-year-olds, but also by them. Not even talented or creative ones. Thank goodness the old X-men cartoons are on Netflix. Hopefully TMNT from when I was a kid will be available for when Finley is the right age!

Why is nursing clothing so DANGED expensive and/or ugly and/or ill fitting? It's normal to be large-chested while breast feeding, right?

And back to the Fiber One thing: Is all of the fiber in those things really worth the sugar and fat in them as well? I mean, shouldn't I just be getting my veggies and roughage?

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Today was Baby Girl's estimated due date, but she came due early in the morning four days ago. After my Tuesday appointment we made the rest of our preparations: installing another car seat, hanging the curtains, doing the things I figured would keep me from going into labor if left undone. My body has interesting timing that way, but unfortunately the last thing I needed, a good night's sleep, was not on the list of labor-preventingly important to-do items (curtains, yes, but not sleep).

So I woke up at 1 am with what I assumed was just even more painful false labor. The contractions seemed to close together to be real labor, because I certainly wouldn't have missed the 8-10 minute apart contractions that were supposed to signal my call to the OB and trip to the hospital. Ha! So an hour later when they were so painful that I woke up Tim and started timing them, two things that will almost always put an end to false labor, I saw that they were 4-5 minutes apart and figured they MUST be false. But then at 2:30 AM (ish) I called the OB's office, because if I was going to have false labor that painful, I was going to do it with some pain meds.

It wasn't until I actually got in the car with the admit paperwork and had the second contraction of the trip (slowest tollway drive ever, by the way), that I became sure that Baby Girl was actually coming. That thought and a good grip on the "oh crap" handle in the car got me through the rest of the drive, and most of what tied for the worst hour of labor. The rest of that worst hour was mostly me begging every hospital employee from the ER entrance to my OB nurse for that epidural. Dr. Bradley can shove all of his pain management techniques up his butt.

Fortunately by about 3:30 AM I had that tube in my back, GBS antibiotics going, and all those lovely external monitors hooked up. I got 5 nice drowsy hours before I was almost fully dilated and getting nervous about the pushing part. We waited a while past full dilation for that urge to push, which is where the other tied-for-worst hour of labor hit. I grabbed my knees and strained for a good hour without much progress, because I pretty much had no idea what I was doing. As it turns out, I have a lot of different muscles in my abdomen, and it took a pretty specific combination to really get baby moving, and until then I basically wanted to hop off the table, take this terrible constipated poo I was feeling, and be rolled into the OR for that repeat Cesarean section.

I didn't want to deliver on my back, but as it turned out baby was a bit particular about wanting me reclined and back down before she would budge past that +2 position. Once we got there, the nurse called anesthesia in to welly up my epidural. They often try to let them wear off so moms can feel the urge to push, but I was feeling too much urge to push to even focus on pushing. Or breathing. Or anything but GAAAAAHHHHH. Once that extra dose of spine narcotics hit (that nurse gets super bonus points for knowing what I needed), I was good to go. Dr. G showed up to ask if I wanted vacuum help, but I actually felt like I was ready to push for another hour. I could finally feel the just right time, push for long enough, and focus on which muscles I was using. Suddenly the nurse was calling Dr. G back in for delivery! Tim broke the "above the equator" rule when the head started to show up, and that's when it got really exciting. The head exited, the umbilical cord was eased off of the neck, and after barely any more effort I heard, "Look down!" And there she was!

I don't think it was 12 milliseconds before she was in my arms. I think the first thing I did was yelp for joy and say, "Hi! We did it!" I kissed that little head (which wasn't really coney at all) and told her I loved her and held her oxygen mask until they absolutely had to take her to the warming bed to get her turning pink (thanks, Colorado's thin air). I watched her blink and squirm while my tiny tears got stitched up (OW). The tears weren't really bad enough to need repair, but the bleeding was enough to call for it.

Minutes later I had her back, and she nursed like an old pro and cuddled like only a newborn can for over an hour, and then it was time for all of the weighing and measuring and shots and eye goop. She weighed 6 pounds, 5.6 ounces, and was 19 inches long. She has SKINNY feet. Her hair looked dark and wavy, and her coloring was a lot like mine when I was born—a lot more ethnic than I look now.

We named her Kella Rose. It's a Gaelic name that means warrior, much like Finley. And after meeting her, I'm sure about the name. I actually picked it out months ago. I mean the end of January. I fell in love with it, told Tim about it, and no other name has really caught my eye since.

She is beautiful and perfect and has a tiny kink in one ear that I hope stays forever. She has my crazy fingernails and Tim's big toes and grandma's nose, with grandpa's unfortunate hairline. That weird M shape with fuzzy corners must be severely genetically dominant, because so far no child in my dad's line has avoided it. She looks a lot like baby me, the same way Finley looked so much like baby Tim.

She spends her spare time staring at me and Tim, squirming, and apparently getting jaundiced, because she's needed a bilirubin light since yesterday. The little light strip gets stuck in a blanket with her and makes her look like a cuter version of one of those glow worm toys Hasbro used to make. We're hoping she won't need it after her test tomorrow morning, mostly because we don't want her to be jaundiced, but also because having your newborn tethered by a very short cable to a heavy machine that plugs into the wall makes things a bit more difficult than they otherwise would be. She seems happy with it, though!

I love her so much. There wasn't a doubt in my mind that I would, but she isn't my first second child, and so many second timers seem to wonder if they'll love the second as much as the first. They are so easy to love—whether they've just come home from the hospital with you or they're 16 months old and having a bit of a challenge not being the only center of Mom and Dad's universe anymore. We're in elliptical orbit around these two, and I'm so proud of the ways my boy has grown up. Having another 6 pound baby (Finley was about a pound heavier when he came home) around has made me realize that the last year has turned Finley into a big, sturdy boy. He's not a baby anymore, and he certainly isn't fragile like he once was. He gives toddler hugs and cuddles, has a child's soft skin, and smells like exactly as many days as it's been since his last bath, and now I have to recognize how much he's grown.

We've been so blessed with another miracle. It may not have taken extraordinary medical interventions to bring Kella home, but it took so many things going just perfectly for her to be born healthy via the normal route and come home after only two days. She tolerated the entire labor like a champion, and never made the doctor worry about needing to surgically remove her. I went into labor at just the right time, 39 weeks and 3 days, and she had every day she needed in the womb.

So now we're home and enjoying the little things, like witch hazel (me) and breast milk (her) and not having hemorrhoids (both of us). Finley loves to see his baby sister and is learning to be gentle, and Tim is being the hero of the house and making sure I get sleep and meds and food and all of the important things. He even let me sleep in Saturday and took both kids with him to the doctor's office alone! I don't know how he does it all, but he does it without complaining, and I know no other men who do so much for their families. He even slept in that horrible hospital chair so he didn't have to leave me alone after the baby came. He wakes up in the night to comfort the baby after she eats. He loves us, and he knows how to show love better than anyone. I have always been in awe of him, and I know our Baby Girl will never have to wonder how a man should treat his family.

I'm exhausted, and in a bit of pain, and I'm quite tired of needing Rx meds to be able to walk at better than a snail's pace, but overall I have too much to be grateful for to complain. If you really needed something, though, I will say that I can't quite forgive my doctor for showing me the placenta. Honestly, I just lost a good amount of blood, my iron is low, and you expect me to eat meat after seeing that?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Little Shoes

Saturday we bought Finley's first pairs of real shoes. Not the little newborn ones you stick on their helpless little feet for show, but the kind babies wear when they're learning to walk. He is learning to walk. He holds on with one little hand and wobbles around like an itty bitty drunk. He got small, puffy feet from my side of the family, and we had to buy special baby shoes because they're the only ones that would fit. I don't think my last three or four pairs of shoes cost as much as the two pair we bought.

But sitting in the shoe store, debating the costs of teeny tennies and soft-sole dress shoes made for 6-9-month-old babies, I suddenly wanted to cry. Not because my boy is growing up, because that's what we always wanted him to do, but because my other boy is not. I found myself thinking we should be buying twice as many little shoes, and wondering if Oliver's feet would have been round and stumpy, too. I started to think of what our life should have been like, when I realize that I can only guess what it would have been like. What should be is certainly only God's area of expertise. I only have selfish shoulds—to keep a baby in this world that so valiantly went to the next. Who is in God's own hands instead of mine. Who will have the blessings of eternity and our forever family as much having gone when he did as if he lived a lifetime in this world. I can say it would have been different. But it isn't. And who am I to say it should have been?

Later that day at the cemetery I see the tiny footprints we had placed on his gravestone. They aren't much smaller than his footprints when we was born—or were his feet that small? One was turned in from the small space he had in the womb, and both were swollen from their station blocking Finley's exit and saving his life, even though he had never before been first in line to be born.

I looked down at my belly (and it's hard to look down and see anything other than belly these days) and almost gasped at the realization that there was no teeny tiny baby in my womb anymore. The feet that will come out in the next week or two will be much, much larger than the tiny footprints on the gravestone. And they might even be average, thin baby feet instead of the roly poly feet I managed to pass to my little almost-walker. I wonder if we'll buy her expensive shoes to learn to walk in, too. Probably, at least for that stage, but maybe not because nothing else will fit. She'll probably learn to walk at the average age and have average feet. She might be what people consider totally normal, or maybe even bright and developmentally ahead. I don't know what to expect from a term baby—not even "early term," because we're so close to her due date now that she'll have every gestational advantage a baby could want.

I'm seeing a pattern now. Will I gestate my next baby for a year? I suppose that child will come out a superhero, possibly with long, gangly feet. My children so far are shaping up to be unexpected and unlikely people with unpredictable fates. To die, to thrive in the face of difficulties, to come despite heavily stacked odds and be uniquely safe and healthy. I wonder who they will be in ten years, or twenty, or when we meet in the next life. I wonder if, in Heaven, there will be a pair of very tiny feet that I can buy expensive shoes for and watch learn to toddle, so many years from now.