Sunday, September 30, 2007

Top Five; Also, Comfort Food

And now for a fun change of pace, I shall fascinate you all with a list of products that save my life!

1. Swiffer floor cleaners, wet and dry. And the dusters. These are SO much less annoying than sweeping, and also more effective at getting up dust and dog hair. My only worry is that I am compounding my Debt To Mother Earth by adding these disposable cloths to the amount of trash our family produces. Perhaps there are washable microfiber-type floor cleaners that work the same way?

2. Uncle Ben's 90 Second microwavable rice bags, especially the whole grain varieties. Genius, genius! We use these at least once a week.

3. The Prince Edward wipes warmer. I think the warm wipes prevent me from being peed on, because they're not a cold shock in the middle of the night, and therefore diaper changes don't always completely wake Eli up and cause him to let loose in midair.

4. The Kiddopatomous swaddler blankets, which velcro shut and keep babies nice and snug. Both my kids have always seemed to sleep much better when swaddled, so these blankets have been a big help with Eli, as he has already grown big enough to squirm out of those little flannel receiving blankets.

5. The Infantino baby sling. I never had one with Addy, but purchased one for Eli when he was about two weeks old to try to deal with his need to be constantly held and my need to USE MY HANDS every now and then. So far it has worked very well. Only downside is that my movements seem to put him to sleep, and then it's tricky to get him out of the sling and laid down without waking him up.

Also, I have figured out the reason behind my lack of weight loss with this baby. It is a two-fold problem: First, I am up at night a lot more than I was with Addy, leaving me unspeakably tired most of the time. My body, in a mode of pure self-preservation, screams to me, "Carbs! Eat carbs! The sugar and flour and chocolate chip cookie dough will keep you awake with short bursts of energy!"
And then secondly, my mind, also in survival mode, whispers, "Eat the brownies! Bake another pie! Eating yummy things is the ONLY thing you are doing for yourself these days. Do you blog daily anymore? No. Do you read for pleasure anymore? No. Do you take long scented bubble baths? Oh please. But scarfing down another another cookie while breastfeeding? This I have time for, and this I will do.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

To Eli

Dear Baby,
I can't believe you are four weeks old already! I mean, I seriously can't; I feel like I am just now starting to resurface from the postpartum fog I was swimming in, only to find that my tiny baby has been switched out for a real, giant boy while I wasn't looking! I am terrified I have already lost some of your precious, fleeting newborn sweetness to the demands of toddlerhood and laundry and the delirium of sleeplessness. Every day there is a moment in which you seem to me suddenly bigger, and my heart lurches a little in panic. I want to freeze you until I have thoroughly soaked in every second of your littleness, of the way your dark, downy head still fits in the palm of my hand. The way your eyes shine up at me while you nurse, the color of ripe blueberries. The way your lower lip thrusts out when you try to eat in your sleep, and the scent of your hair when you're tucked in on my shoulder.
Today we took a walk around the neighborhood, and Addy fell to her knees and wept inconsolably when I tried to put you in the stroller and have her walk with me. So I let her ride, and I carried you against me in your sling. Every few minutes I would peek down at you, just checking, and that bright blue gaze kept meeting me, steady and calm, just taking everything in. Then after about twenty minutes I peeked and you were asleep, your body curled against mine to fit, your dimpled little hands resting serenely on your cheeks. You looked so precious it was heartbreaking. I nearly walked the stroller into a tree staring at you.


Addy calls you E-yi, as in "Eeyi, eeyi, yo." Lately we have all begun doing it, and sometimes without meaning to. "Oh, Eyi, don't cry," I will croon sincerely, not even noticing that I am calling you the chorus of a song about barnyard animals. I hope that you are ok with this and we are not scarring you for life. Come to think of it, I spend a lot of time worrying that I might be scarring you for life, by not rushing to you the second you start crying because I'm in the middle of putting on Addy's shoes, or by watching TV while breastfeeding at night instead of staring at you raptly (because when I WAS staring at you, I kept dozing off accidentally.)
You seem fine, though, and you even seem to like me- you perk up when you hear my voice or see me walk by, the same as Addy did, so I must not being screwing you up too much yet. And you're getting so chubby and cute and even starting to bust out some smiles, and surely I can take some credit for these things too, right?
Just now you looked up at me and smiled, open-mouthed and half asleep, and then stuck out your tongue and kind of snorted and chuckled. You are the noisiest little guy! Unless you are sound asleep, you're almost constantly gurgling and stretching and grunting and snarfling, often in apparent displeasure. In these instances, the grunting is generally followed by a crescendo of gunshot farts. It always amazes me that a nine pound infant can produce burps and farts as loud, if not louder, than those of a fully grown adult. Other times it's because you're hungry, which you are almost constantly. We call you Grumpy Bear because you really hate to be kept waiting if you're getting hungry!
Well, you're awake now, and it's getting tiresome to type one-handed while you wriggle on my lap, so I'll end this. Happy One Month Anniversary of being in the world! We hope you're having an ok time so far! We're sure enjoying you, Grumpy Bear, farts and all.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

As Regards Swistle's Mother In Law

This is really just getting silly. This woman is INSANE. Bat-shit crazy, even. Secrets as power! Refusing to reveal DATES of cross-country, weeks-long visits. Nonchalantly dumping the responsibility of hotel finding onto other people, DAYS before intended visit. And that's not even going into the anticipated behavior during the actual visit. What is this?
Here's what I propose: Everyone is to observe an official Think of Swistle moment of silence each day for the duration of the hostile takeover of the Swistle home, aka MIL's visit. Here's what I will be thinking: "Zoloft and Dove chocolate. Zoloft and Dove chocolate." There is no shame in it!


Also, in case you needed some proof of what a rock star of a mom I am, I offer to you Exhibit A- Adelay now chirps, in a voice fueled by hope and desire, "Fries?! Fries?!" every time we drive down the fast-food joint lined road near our house. Guess it's time to start cooking again.
And here's Exhibit B- frequently, within the last few weeks, I have heard Addy say to me or Eli or even the dog, "Jus'a minute! Jus'a minute!" in a reassuring but slightly frantic tone which rings all too familiar in my ears. These are not my proudest moments.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Early New Year's Resolution

*Random complaint before launching into an unusually complaint-less post*
I am really tired of missing half of church because I have to get up and go sit and nurse in the bathroom. At least they have a couch and pillows in there. But WHY are the speakers which pipe in the sermon never turned ON? That would seem to be the point of their existence...

But I digress. I was going to say that this week my goal is to try to remember something from one of the songs in church on Sunday, which was about God's joy being our strength. My ears perked up at the lyrics, as strength and energy are things which I am chronically lacking these days. So decided to try to savor moments of joy with the kids, instead of just being depressed about how tired I am, and derive energy from that. Moments like when Addy is actually being cooperative and sweet and fun, and moments like today when I gave Eli his first real bath and he LIKED it and didn't cry and was so sweet and round and yummy smelling afterwards.
So far it seems to be working... I had a bit of a setback when Addy decided to cry and throw a fit about her nap, which is very out of character, and then yell and bang around in her room for an hour and a half and keep me awake during the brief window when I could have gotten a nap myself. But I rebounded and moved on.
Besides, how can I be grumpy when I do still have some help, in the form of Beth the Babysitter Extraordinaire, who still comes by Monday mornings for an hour or two, and Friday afternoons for about three hours. These are my Hours Of Sanity, when I can clean the house without interruption, or even (theoretically) sleep, or escape the house and do shopping without diaper bags and carseats and crying. And also there is my mom, who came and took Addy to Kindermusik this morning when I was unable to get myself ready in time to take her (despite the presence of Beth... I know, I know, I'm pathetic.)
And also I really do have a wonderful husband, who helps with kids willingly and gives me chances to escape the house without them. So there. See how grateful and joyful I am? See how I am not complaining about things like ninety degree weather and endless laundry?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Postpartum Post-Its

This post has been slowly composed all week long, in a series of yellow post-its stuck randomly around the kitchen and den. Here for your reading pleasure are snippets from my postpartum haze which I found amusing/horrifying enough to commit to paper.
1. I realized with some alarm that I was laughing out loud, kind of wackily, for an unreasonably long amount of time at one of those "Real Men of Genius" Budweiser radio commercials. There was no one else in the kitchen, mind you. Just me, unshowered and dripping milk, standing there chortling uncontrollably about the Overly Aggressive Touch Football Game Player.
2. I spent an entire day avoiding opening the fridge because every time I saw the pile of leftovers and expired crap that needed cleaned out, it literally overwhelmed me and put me on the verge of tears.
3. On Friday, Adelay's breakfast consisted of strawberries, raisins, and a glass of milk. Guess what she ate? The glass of milk, which she consumed by repeatedly dipping her toothbrush into the cup and sucking the milk from the bristles. I did nothing to stop this, only watched wearily as I sat at the table (what else?) breastfeeeding.
4. Two words: Muffin top. There is muffin top happening everywhere, even when I am not wearing pants. It just sits there, a shelf of fat embracing my hips.
5. I find myself feeling resentful towards people who get to sleep all night. I also feel irrationally angry when people hear that I went to bed at nine, got up every two hours to feed Eli, and then they do a little mental math and say, "Oh, so altogether you got about seven hours of sleep though, huh?" I want to shake them violently while explaining that I could have gotten SEVENTEEN hours of sleep, and if it was broken up every two hours by a hungry baby it still would not provide the same amount of rest that an uninterrupted eight hour night would.
6. On Thursday I fell asleep at the kitchen table while eating lunch. Just fell asleep with my chin propped in my hand. It kind of scared me.
7. One night while sitting up during a feeding, I was literally mesmerized by an informercial for "The Weight Loss Cure." I found myself thinking things like, "Wow, that could work for me! I need to order this book! Maybe I really can drop these twenty extra pounds with no real effort! I just have to read about this miracle fat cure!"
8. My vertigo seems to be returning on and off, in varying degrees of severity. But I notice it only crops up when I am getting really tired. So sometimes I feel myself getting woozy and wonder, "Is it my ear again- or am I actually falling over with exhaustion?"
9. After several weeks of feeding every two hours and sometimes even more than that, I am about ready to take on caffeine as a lover on the side. Unfortunately, Eli's tummy does not tolerate caffeine well at all, which we discovered after about a week and a half of almost constant fussing and gassiness after feedings. So it seems that, in a cruel twist of irony, I am on a temporary caffeine strike just when I need it more than ever before in my life.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Glamorous Life

Just a short rant here about how the milk, it is in. And about how the kid, he is hungry- but only for the boob. Eli is a breast man. He loathes bottles and pacifiers; they are his NEMESIS, his arch enemy, and he will fight them to the death. Which means that while theoretically, I could pump and have bottles at the ready for other people to occasionally take one of the daily dozen feedings, in reality, there is only one person on the face of this earth who can feed my son. That person is me. I'd be the girl who, last night at an office party, sat propped in a corner, forcing her eyelids open by raising her eyebrows in order to not appear drugged. I also tried not to engage in conversation as I could not recall a single person's name. I forget important information like my daughter's age and birthday (in front of the Kindermusik teacher- nice,) and words like "mailbox" (what, it's a hard word!) My brains are being slowly, methodically leached from my body through my nipples.
My son, besides being a picky eater, is a grazer. He does not wake up, get hungry, eat for fifteen minutes from each side, burp, and then happily stare into space for another two hours until his next feeding. He wakes up hungry, eats for about two minutes, falls asleep. I play with his cheek and try to wake him up, change his diaper to try to wake him up, convince him to drink for another three minutes or so at the other side, and then he's napping again. Ten minutes later, when I have finally given up and packed the girls away, he's awake again and starving. And so on and so forth. I feel like a human pacifier. A soggy, gross one, which leaks milk all over the couch and the bedsheets from whichever side I happen to be laying on.
Oh, and how's this as an example of both my mommy brainedness and my glamorishousness? This morning, a half hour before Addy's first swim class at the Y, I'm packing her up to go and suddenly realize that her swim diapers and bathing suit are still at my mom's house. Where they have a pool. Where I thought it would be SO convenient to store all the swimming paraphernalia. So I'm flapping around crazily in my nursing gown and hot pink slippers, throwing half-dressed children into their car seats and tearing out of the driveway towards my mom's, which luckily is about five minutes away.
I managed to get there, get the stuff, and get back in about ten minutes, which means it is now roughly fifteen minutes until the start of class. The Y is approximately fifteen minutes from our house. So Jim and I are putting forth this amazing team effort, with me changing a poopy diaper and putting on a swimmie diaper while Addy stands there in bewilderment, and Jim pulling her dress over her head and gathering up swim trunks and beach towels and keys and hustling them both out the door. The poor kid looked dazed, yet smiled and waved weakly at me through the slamming door. Her first experience with the Y is off to a swell start!
Also, for a quick pick-me-up, there's nothing like being made to feel like a drug addict by the nurse on the other end of the phone. See, I finally got up the nerve to call and ask if I could get more of my prescription, right? And good old Mary Lou (yes, I knew her, which made it that much worse) pauses, then says rather severely, "Well, I'm pretty sure he's not going to order more of that. Those are very strong narcotics you were taking. I'll ask, but it's very doubtful. Call back later- maybe he can prescribe something that's milder." Guess who hung up sheepishly and never called back?

Friday, September 14, 2007

New Link

Hey, check out my latest link down there- my little sister has decided to follow in my footsteps of coolness.
Also! This is my two hundredth post. Let's all have a moment of silence.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

De Je Vu, Soccer, and Mommy Guilt

So yeah, woke up today to the pleasant surprise of DIZZINESS and NAUSEA! Much like a certain hellish two-week illness in my not so distant past! What the frick, as my friend Elliot of Scrubs would say. It's not nearly as bad as it was before, but I am most definitely light-headed and wobbly and weird feeling. I'm really hoping it's just some sort of dehydration thing due to a combo of the stomach flu and nursing every two hours nonstop, and does not in fact have anything to do with my inner ear. But either way, it certainly threw a wrench in my plans- two doctor's appointments, which had to be rescheduled. I have done nothing today but lie on the couch or bed, drinking water and either sleeping or woozily clutching an eight pound baby to my chest.
So! Here's hoping tomorrow I wake up and this is just a memory. I feel irritable, like I cannot catch a break, health-wise. A week after Eli was born, I got a bladder infection requiring antibiotics, and now this crap again. Does anyone know, once a person gets an inner ear virus, is their equilibrium kind of off for the rest of their life, or easily unbalanced, or something? Can I expect random occurrences of vertigo FOREVER now?
Anyways, other than the seemingly never-ending string of weird health problems, we are doing pretty well around here. I haven't had any more big tearful breakdowns, which is a relief to everyone, and Eli is fattening up like a... Like some kind of farm animal which gets fattened up. Is it pigs? Geese? Suffice it to say, he has chubby and squeezable cheeks, and bellows much more loudly than his sister ever did when his meals are not delivered promptly. Also eats in a much more round-the-clock manner than she did, not that I am bitter.
I am feeling truly bitter AT MYSELF, however, for encouraging Jim to coach soccer this season when he literally approached me with the idea in this manner: "Well, there's this coaching opportunity, but with the baby and your being sick and all it's terrible timing. You probably don't want me to..." And here's Sarah, the smiling, eternally supportive Good Wife: "Of course I want you to! You love coaching! We'll manage, don't you worry!" I think if I could take back any spoken words of my entire life, those would be the ones. It was just one thing too many, for all of us. It would have been fine earlier in the summer, or later this year. Any time but RIGHT NOW, what with his being behind in work anyways from having to take off so much due to my various hospitalizations and incapacitations, and what with me or Addy wanting his attention every spare moment, and the rain suddenly pouring down every other day and turning our acre of yard into a knee-high swamp. He so did not need this on his plate, too. I actually feel guilty, because I think if I hadn't encouraged it he would totally have just said no. I am chalking this up to a lesson: This is what comes of trying to be giving and supportive instead of rational. Always go with rational.
Also, someone assuage my guilt about Eli, please, please? Tell me it's okay that I haven't written in his journal yet, and I haven't even BOUGHT a baby book, and I haven't gotten pictures developed and cropped and painstakingly scrapbooked. That I never got his Tigger crosstitch finished, and that I'm not taking at least ten snapshots a day of his kissable newborn cuteness the way I did with Adelay. Is this normal? Will he forgive me? It just feels like all I can do to stay on my feet right now, to get a shower and keep the house and laundry reasonably in control and make sure that everyone has been fed and changed somewhat recently. I am enjoying him very much, but I also felt delirious with exhaustion and pain killers the first week or so. And now it's pretty much just exhaustion, but then also the bladder infection and the flu and then this nonsense today with the wobbling around drunkenly. He's not going to have middle child syndrome as a direct result of my lack of recording every minute of his first few weeks, is he? (Hint: Say no.)

Monday, September 10, 2007


1. I have rediscovered a delightful little combo called brownies and ice cream. I find that late at night, when one's oldest child has been hanging on them and crying and one's youngest child has been ever so slowly nursing and hogging that coveted commodity, Mommy's lap, a nice bowlful of this carbohydrate-laden treat goes a long way to bring down the stress level.
2. I took my last precious pain pill today, and feel sad and mournful tonight. Also crampy and sore, but there is no solace other than plain old Tylenol.
3. Speaking of general pain, they should really warn an eleven-day-postpartum mom who gamely brings her toddler and newborn to the first session of Kindermusik that this program involves the PARENT jumping and leaping and wriggling and dancing as well as the child. Laying on the floor and wriggling like a fishy. Need I say more?
4. In a similar vein, does anyone have any thoughts about Kindermusik? I want to try to introduce more structured activities into Addy's day, as she seems to be going really stir crazy, but this program seems somewhat expensive. I really enjoyed today's session, though, (residual aches and pains aside) and Adelay certainly did as well. Is it worth the money?
5. The skin on my stomach feels like bread dough. Yummy.
6. Sleep is really like a drug. Yesterday I didn't get much of a nap at all, and by bedtime Addy was unraveling and so was I. We both just sat there crying, and everyone was frustrated and despondent. Today, having gotten almost three hours of nap while both the kids slept(!), I felt strong and capable and the evening went smoothly.
7. Any ideas about how to clear up baby acne, short of wiping him down with Stridex pads? I know it's shallow and it doesn't matter to him, but it makes me feel like a dirty mom when my baby's face is all oily and breaking out.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

A Week Ago At This Time

(which is four forty-five AM)I was just waking up from my mid-labor nap, feeling restless and grumpy. I am currently hanging out with a wide-awake Eli, but again feeling distinctly rest-less. And fairly grumpy, because I keep thinking about how in three hours we have to leave for the doctor's office, so there will be no sleeping in for me this morning.
I can't believe he'll be a week old tomorrow. It seems impossible that it's been only a week, but also impossible that it's only been a week. Wasn't I just being wheeled to recovery? But then again, hasn't he been here forever? Hasn't the house always smelled like a diaper pail?

Twelve hours later. Just woke up from a nice, drug-laced nap, which felt like heaven after a long morning of doctor's office, hospital, and errands (picking up necessities such as donuts and industrial-sized pads.) I ended up leaving at eight fifteen with Eli and not getting back until noon. First it took forever at the ped's office because of all the new patient paperwork I forgot I had to fill out for him, and then he ended up looking kind of jaundiced still, so we got sent to the hospital for another blood draw to check on the bilirubin levels. I hadn't stopped to eat breakfast, and I had foregone the pain pill in favor of driving legally, both unfortunate choices. By the time I was leaving the hospital, I was so hungry and tired and achy in all sorts of body parts that one of the old, frail looking volunteers asked me kindly if I was all right, or if I needed him to carry the infant seat for me.
I was all right, of course, although let me just say that I think when our hospital spent millions of dollars on new patient ammenities and an extended lobby/outpatient area, they might have thought to include a freaking chair somewhere in which a mom could nurse her screaming baby! So that the mom does not have to stand in a bathroom stall for twenty minutes with a furious infant yanking on her knockers.
Beyond that, thank goodness lots of people, including many of you, reminded me of the insane weepiness which follows birth. I cannot stop crying, over completely random things. This morning, waiting outside the hospital for the valet service, I saw a little girl about Addy's age playing in the fountain and I got all teary and nearly burst into a weeping fit in front of about twenty people. Because... ? I cry if Addy is happy with the baby because it's so sweet; I cry if she's angry because I feel so bad for springing this new sibling on her. I cry if I'm hungry or tired or sore or if Jim forgets to affirm my self-worth every hour on the hour. I cry more than the baby does, seriously.
Apart from that, I am very happy with this new guy who's moved in here. I am especially happy, and things seem simple and very handle-able, when I have taken a pain pill and all the children are asleep and I am eating a delicious meal brought to me by someone else. It reminds me of being in the hospital, which, frankly, I love. I don't understand why people are so desperate to leave the fresh crisp sheets and the nursery at night (I had him brought back for feeds, don't worry!) and the pain pills and ice water brought to you cheerfully any hour of the day.
'Kay, just got back from cleaning up a poo explosion which was dropped literally in my hand. I think I am done trying to write coherently- let's just have pictures, shall we?

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Lots More Details!! Maybe More Than You Wanted!!

Whew, okay, my brain is a little addled with pain killers and my bum is too sore to sit here for TOO long, but here goes!
So yeah, my friend had her little guy, Gabriel, on Wednesday, and as mentioned I was more than a little motivated to have my own labor day. I talked to the doula that night, she suggested all the usuals (sex, walking) but advised not to ask for induction, which I reluctantly agreed with. So I took all her advise, then sat and bounced and bounced and bounced on this exercise ball Jess had loaned me while I talked on the phone. Gradually I noticed that my discomfort was going from "generalized pregnancy achiness and misery" to "menstrual-like cramping but extra deep and with lots of lower back and hip pain." So I got up and walked around for a while, until I began to see an actual pattern emerging.
By about ten that night I had them coming every five to seven minutes. Not that this was anything new, but I was resolved to KEEP walking and KEEP having contractions, so I did laps around the house for another few hours. Finally around midnight we called our doula, having determined that this was indeed the real thing (I was also having bloody show and stuff, which was new, unlike the contractions, so that helped convince me. Sorry, TMI!)
Stacy got there around one in the morning. We all watched movies, she and Jim took turns fetching me ice water and rubbing my back, and I walked and swayed and stretched on the birth ball and ran back and forth to the bathroom frequently and did all the normal early labor stuff. But the hours kept passing, and while the contractions stayed regular, they never got harder. They hurt, but no more than period cramps. We were all so surprised things weren't moving faster. Finally around two or three Stacy suggested I try to take a nap, since I was getting really exhausted and it seemed nothing was going to happen soon.
I laid down reluctantly, terrified to sleep lest my labor once again disappear, but finally my body won out and I slept. Around five when I woke up, sure enough, it was as though I had never been in labor. I was beyond frustrated. Stacy had me keep walking and bouncing on the ball, and in about an hour it did get going again, five minutes apart, but they were barely even hurting. We were now going on about eight hours of labor, since I had started timing things around nine that night. Addy had been BORN in eight hours!
At last around six we called my mom to come stay with Addy while Jim and Stacy and I went to the hospital to have me assessed and possibly even have my water broken or get a dose of Pitocin to try to get things moving. I had not wanted either of these interventions, but I was beginning to feel like I was in a labor twilight zone, and all I wanted was for the actual work to get started so I could see my baby! Not to mention we were all already bleary-eyed from lack of sleep.
We got to labor and delivery around seven Thursday morning, and when checked I had only progressed to five centimeters in all that time- only one more than I had been at my checkup. I was fully effaced, however, and baby's head was very low- the nurse told me I could probably sneeze him out if I really wanted to! They decided to break my water, but first I had to wait to get a full bag of antibiotics since I was group B strep positive. So for four hours we just paced the halls, or rested and listened to Stacy's collection of soothing labor music while we waited for the penicillin to go in. My contractions stalled out even more, to about every fifteen minutes, and still barely more pain than a cramp. Very boring, frustrating, and exhausting, since it was hard to really sleep with all the monitors on.
At last, at eleven thirty, Dr. D came in and broke my water. For the first hour or so the pain got worse, but the contractions still didn't really pick up in frequency. Pitocin began to be thrown around as a very real option. Then finally, just when I was convinced I would never go into "real" labor and would wander the halls of the hospital forever as some sort of eternally pregnant phantom, the pain began grinding down into my hips and pelvis, coming in waves one after another. I was suddenly having to use all my breathing and visualization techniques, and then soon after could only get through the contractions by leaning into Jim, moaning and swaying.
They checked me again, and I was at seven. Progress at last! The nurse had me lay on my side with one leg up in a stirrup, which was torturous but effective, and transition began in earnest. I was shaking uncontrollably and having to work very hard to stay in control during the contractions, which were now about every two minutes. In five minutes they checked again, and I was eight. Ten minutes more, and I was nine. Another contraction, then complete. After hours and hours of nothing, I completed transition stage in twenty minutes of fast and furious pain.
Our poor moms, who had gone to get coffee when I reached seven with the assurance it would be at least another hour, had to be called back frantically and told that I was pushing! When they got back I was already on my back, legs braced, enjoying a brief phase of relief from the constant pain before the urge to push kicked in.
It soon did, however. My doctor was great and really honored my birth plan- there was no stirrups, no shouting and counting and breath holding. He just sat and waited quietly while I found my own rhythm, and Jim and Stacy held me on either side and offered encouragement. It took a few tries for me to figure out how to push effectively, but once I did there was no going back. Boy, there is just no feeling quite like a head emerging from your body! There is really nothing with which to compare the experience. It was excruciating and bone crushing, and also exhilarating and thrilling.
I think in total I pushed for about twenty minutes, and then suddenly he was here with us, his head and then his big hulking shoulders, which did not exactly just slide out the way I remember Addy's doing! It was such a rush when he emerged and was lifted to my belly- I was shaking and crying and laughing all at once. He had lots of dark hair and looked very similar to newborn Addy, I thought, although I could see immediately that he was substantially larger (not that I hadn't FELT that already!)
I also saw immediately that the name we had chosen, Beckett, did not suit him. I stated my thoughts on this even as I was delivering the placenta and the cord was being cut. Granted I was a little delirious and everyone was kind of smiling indulgently at me at this point, but I knew we had to find something else.
In about a half hour we finally got a recovery room free to move to (there was a major rush of births happening- it was so crowded I ended up having to share a recovery room the second day, which really sucked.) I also had gotten my dose of Percocet to counteract the afterbirth pains, and was flying high on endorphins and narcotics.
As we were settling in, we started throwing around all the other names we had discussed, and nothing seemed to be working. I was getting really frustrated that my poor little boy was nameless, and then from the corner of the room I heard my father in law talking about the lyrics to some old Three Dog Night song- "Eli Come Home," I think. Something about an Eli. Anyways, I immediately knew that was his name; he was SO an Eli, and it didn't take long to convince his daddy, too. Jim wanted to make it something with two syllables though, and use Eli as the nickname, so we settled on Elias, and then Marek as the middle name- a German name we had found in a baby name book a long time ago and both really liked. And that is how that happened!
So... I think that's about everything! Here's the wrap-up thoughts: Labor was a long and tiresome process, but so much more satisfying this time than last- I was much more prepared, much more in control. It still hurt like nothing else ever can, of course, but it was also amazing and powerful to experience that life-force working through my body. In the end it's almost like you have to remove yourself and just be this kind of channel that the birth can move through. Very empowering, I thought. But let me just also mention again the words bone crushing and excruciating, so as not to overly romanticize your vision of how things went down!
Having a doula was great, especially during the long tedious hours. I think what she did best was to prepare us ahead of time and to reinforce the work Jim and I were doing together in labor. I was so happy that's how it turned out- I was afraid Jim might be more in the background with having a doula, but in fact it was the other way around. He was very confident and comforting, in part because of the reassurance of her presence and the things she had suggested; he seemed to know all the right things to say and do throughout the process. We were both a lot more prepared and not as scared and unsure as we were the first time, I guess. Which makes sense!
Addy was also wonderful. She's certainly a little emotionally fragile right now, but overall she has been a very good sport about having Mommy gone, and has been very embracing of the baby. It's really precious how sweet she's been. She says his name, and kisses and pats him and doesn't get TOO jealous when Mommy has to breastfeed and can't hold her. It will definitely take some time, but I think we're going to be fine in that regard. It's just hard to feel torn in two directions. A couple of times I've gotten teary and upset trying to deal with both of them needing me, but hopefully I will get the hang of it.
The recovery time was a little rougher than with Addy- I didn't realize the afterbirth cramps hurt so much more the second time around! I also have a problem with a "lazy uterus," so I lost a lot of blood again and had to get lots of Pitocin throughout the first twenty-four hours. I felt pretty lightheaded and shaky and awful for a few hours, but by Friday I was tons better. Except for the whole having a roommate thing, which really sucks when you have to share the bathroom, too. Postpartum is one time when your own bathroom should be a given, I think! As should naps whenever you need them, instead of having them interrupted by other people's loud yakking relatives all day long. But I digress...
I was going to talk about how wonderful and delicious the BABY is, what with his dark hair and long toes and little shnarfling kitten noises and pursed, chubby lips. I felt such a strange recognition of him, even in the first few seconds- I felt I knew him. His head movements and stretches and hiccups all seemed familiar to me already, I guess from when he was inside me. I was amazed that I could be just as in love with a second baby as I was with the first- I really didn't think that could happen. But of course it did, and I could just sit and smell his intoxicating little newborn head all day long! If I could I would bottle it and sell it- I mean GIVE it!- to all of you.
So, there you have it, every single juicy detail (except the truly disgusting and unnecessary ones!) and there will be more pictures later, too. Now I have to go spray my perineum and have my sore breasts sucked on. Oh, the glamorous life for me!
Love, Sarah
P.S. Thank you all for your comments!