Stress Dreams

18 Mar

 

dream-haunting

My body has been telling me that I am stressed out. I didn’t think I was, but I went to the dentist recently, thinking I had my first cavity in about a decade, or possibly more, as several of my teeth were hurting. My dear dentist tried very hard to find a cavity but concluded that my teeth couldn’t look better (thank goodness). He then used a device to make them very cold (which was a super fun sensation), and determined that my nerves were upset, probably from stress, extra grinding, and lack of sleep due to the new baby. My bite has always been an issue because of my TMJ problems, so he adjusted one tooth and sent me on my way. I had to agree with him, thinking about how my jaw has been hurting more than normal, causing me to wear my nightly retainer occasionally during the day.

I was under the impression that I was getting great sleep. After the first couple mind-numbing weeks of trying to sleep while holding a baby (because sweet Rex wouldn’t sleep if he was put down), we have been slowly figuring out a system. This system evolved to what we do today, which is swaddle him tight and put him down around 11pm. He sleeps about 5-6 hours, I feed him once, put him back down, and he sleeps for another 4-5 hours. This is what I would call “winning”. But as both he and my husband can be somewhat noisy sleepers, and I am a light sleeper, and the baby is still in our room, I have taken to finishing out the night on our deliciously soft guest bed in the purple room, guaranteeing me a couple more hours in the wonderful land of nod.

However, and I’m not sure exactly why, but every night (well, really morning) for the last week, I have had intensely vivid stress dreams. Maybe because of the shortness and intensity of the sleep?

  1. I was trying to call 911 because a girl was choking. A firefighter was helping her, but 911 thought I was making a prank call, so they hung up on me. The girl died and the firefighter threw her roughly onto the floor. After a moment she got up again (but was still dead) and chased me around the room.
  2. I was at my childhood home hosting book club. I was trying to cook something and I couldn’t control the flames on the gas stove, so they rose too high and burned the cabinets. A small panda was apparently on top of the cabinets, getting burned as well. I handed him to a friend and his singed hair came off in clumps as I tried to clean him up.
  3. I was hosting my birthday party at a new house I purchased with an awesome basement. My realtor was there and he built a human sized sling shot which he wanted to use to catapult the baby across the room. Everyone was drunk and I was mostly sober, and when I went to the fridge to grab a beer, mine were gone, having been drunk by other people.
  4. I was at a hotel, smoked some wacky tobacky in the gardens, and then attempting to get back inside I realized I was in charge of the baby, had to pass by my in-laws to get to the baby, and some lady stopped me to tell me how strongly I smelled of the illegal substance.
  5. Walter had his first soccer match. Instead of attending, Dave and I dropped him off and went out to dinner (maybe book club) with our friends. We got the timing wrong, and I realized not only had we missed his entire match, but we were ten minutes late to go pick him up. Dave argued with me, saying we had more time to go get him, but I left anyway and tried running there, which I was having a hard time doing and at one point my wedding ring caught on something in my hurry and part of it ripped off. When I realized it was too far away to get there by foot, I tried calling an Uber, but I couldn’t use my phone correctly or get my credit card number entered or sign up again or all the things I needed to do to get to my son.
  6. I was trying to find my new coat to leave a very large school (everyone else had their coats but someone told me mine had been destroyed), and I realized I was dreaming. Once I realized I was dreaming, people started looking very crazy and I wanted to wake up, but I couldn’t figure out how to wake up. I realized if I could find my way out of the school into the parking lot, I might wake up in real life too — and that’s exactly what happened!
  7. I was in class and knew I had to take three different tests. Afterwards I was supposed to go directly to the symphony, but I realized I had worn my pajamas to class and milk was leaking all over my shirt. I didn’t have my car with me, so I figured I could Uber back home and make it back in town just in time to make it to the symphony. I tried to get the baby in the car seat, but the car seat was flopping around and I couldn’t figure it out. So I found another car seat that worked, but this time when I looked down the baby didn’t have any arms. Bypassing that issue, I wondered whether I should grab Walter from his class to take him home with me, but I couldn’t find the Kindergarten classroom, and none of the teachers I asked in the hallway could tell me where it was either.

I think maybe I need to take a Xanax before going back to bed.

Rex: Male Model

28 Feb

img_20170221_175556“Have you ever wondered if there was more to life, other than being really, really, ridiculously good looking?” – Derek Zoolander

Last Monday night I was getting ready for bed when my friend texted me about LalabuBaby wanting newborn models. Because I was a model for a midwifery magazine ad with my parents when I was three days old, I thought I’d give at least one of my sons the chance at the same type of stardom.

Newly joined to Instagram, I figured out how to DM them a super cute picture I had recently taken of Rex and some basic contact info. After a little back and forth, I agreed to bring my sons the next day, completely unsure of what this adventure would entail.

Tuesday after lunch and my six week postpartum appointment, I wasn’t sure why I had agreed to go do this. It was looking like rain, and we had just gotten back from Ohio, plus the baby had basically been crying since we got home. We figured he was either going through a growth spurt or thoroughly expressing himself after being in a car seat for four days straight. However, I had made a commitment, so I got the boys in the car yet again and trekked into town. We made it to their office in Old Fourth Ward only five minutes late.

When I approached the door a very nice woman came out and told me filming was running late. I could only go in if we would be absolutely silent. With a four year old and a new kiddo I knew that would be impossible, so we went back to the car to wait. Walter played on his Leap Pad, and I nursed baby Rex. Soon they were done, and we headed back in to wait some more. Turns out they just wanted newborns on call, to work as possible stunt doubles for the model and her newborn who were really doing all the shots. At this point I was genuinely wondering why I had bothered to leave my house, but I decided to wait it out so that I could get the free $75 baby-wearing shirt they had promised.

Two other new moms were there. One was a first time mom with a 5 week old boy. She and her husband own The Big Fake Wedding, which was really interesting to hear about, especially since I love all things wedding. The other mom had a 5 day old boy, one of a set of twins, the other still in NICU at North Fulton, even though he was ready to come home. I was super impressed that she was there. She had brought her husband as well, and they also had a two year old girl at home. It didn’t take long for all of us to start talking, and it was a great, albeit brief, new mommy support group. It made the whole trip worth it.

Right when we were about to leave to avoid rush hour traffic, they asked if anyone could spare their baby for a few. Rex was just finished nursing and happy. The other boys were either nursing or sleeping, so Rex went to makeup… just kidding. I put him in a white onesie, and he got to be the baby model in a video showing how to get a baby in and out of the shirt. When he started fussing after a couple of takes, it was time for us to go.

We were parked in the neighboring church parking lot. The car next to us had its windows open and the three occupants were in there drinking beer and smoking some wacky tobacky. I had to ask them to shut their windows before we got close to the car because the smoke was billowing out around my car, which they did of course. Walter didn’t mention it if he smelled anything funky!

Gotta love in-town Atlantans and random experiences.

I am Woman, Hear Me Roar: the most extreme road trip I’ve ever been on

24 Feb

I don’t know which makes me feel more accomplished as a person: giving birth twice without any drugs, or road-tripping up to Cleveland, OH for a long weekend with my husband, 4 year old, and 6 week old in an RV.

We left Wednesday night around 9pm. I tried to sleep, as the boys, our most precious cargo, were both asleep, but somehow the back of an RV in the dark feels like a plane about to take off. And I don’t really like planes that much, so every time I was about to drift away, I would suddenly wake up fearful we were going to crash into something or drive off the road.

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One of Dave’s best friends, a former Marine like himself, was getting married. We’ve been friends with the couple for a long time, so we knew we wanted to all attend, especially since Dave was asked to be a groomsman and W was asked to be the ring bearer. And there was no way I wanted to leave young Rex with grandparents for the weekend. After Rex’s birth I became unsure if I would attend, and this uncertainty stayed with me until I got into the RV to leave. I was even texting Jason, who was staying at our house with the animals, thirty minutes into the trip that I was insane and I should have stayed at home.

But I didn’t.

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I won’t lie, it was rough. It was a long trip for an already tired woman, but honestly I did it for Dave. He wanted his boys there, and his wife, to be with him as he celebrated this grand event with some of his dearest friends. There were other Marines there with their wives and kids whom we get together with every couple of years. We are scattered across the United States, but these people are very important to us, so we all make the effort to see each other when we can.

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Wednesday night we stopped at an RV park in Knoxville, TN. We figured the only way we could sanely make the 10+ hour drive was to not have to do it all in one day. We didn’t buy plane tickets because of the expense, for one, and also because we could never be sure who would go, given that Rex’s birth was so close to the wedding.

The first night was a bit of a disaster. We got in around midnight and tried as quick as we could to set up the RV for sleeping. Walter woke up and asked questions as we moved stuff around, and I got Rex fed. Then we all settled down for the night’s sleep (or what was left of it)… and the heat in the RV didn’t work properly. It was also 34° outside. The furnace would turn on briefly, get nowhere near the temperature we set the thermostat to, then turn off for good. If we wanted it back on, we’d have to restart the heat ourselves by getting out of bed and flipping the switch.

Walter seemed cuddled in his comforter (thank goodness I had brought a million blankets), but I was super worried about the baby. My face and hair were freezing to the touch. I bundled the baby up (which made me worry about him sleeping with loose blankets and a hat on in bed), and I climbed in with Walter in his twin — I abandoned Dave in the double bed because it was too cold on his side near all the windows. Eventually we just turned the RV on and ran the heater. I was having visions of all of us dying from exhaust fumes when I finally passed out around 3am. Soon enough I woke again because the inside was too hot, and I immediately ripped the blankets off the baby, worried about him overheating, and turned the engine off, worried that we were going to run out of gas. Falling back asleep, this cold/warm cycle continued until we all, rather tiredly, woke up later in the morning.

img_20170216_091557_648The boys were completely unfazed, of course.

img_20170216_091251_283First time in an RV park. Made me think of this romance novel I once read where they traveled around the country in an RV.

img_20170216_101413Keep both hands on the wheel, little man.

Thursday we drove the rest of the way, and I have to say, I love traveling in an RV. Dave has lots of experience driving large military vehicles, so during the day he seemed very at ease, plus the front seats are more like recliners than regular car seats. Walter got to watch TV, sleep, or draw on his clipboard. Rex slept for the most part. We had food, cold drinks, and a toilet at our convenience, and a comfy and easy place to nurse Rex when we stopped. And best of all, I got to buckle myself in to the couch and rest and read books when I wasn’t tending to other things. That’s the way to do it if you’re going to spend that much time traveling!

img_20170216_142006You know you’re redneck enough for an RV when your food prep area is the same as your diaper changing area.

Around 7pm we pulled into the hotel parking lot in Cleveland, unloaded our stuff, and parked by the trees. We quickly took showers to wash off the drive and headed into the chilly night to meet up with our friends for dinner.

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After a wonderful meal with the group, I actually asked Dave if we could hurry and go, which is very unlike me. I’m usually literally the last to leave any type of party, but I was about to fall asleep on my feet. Another night passed uneventfully. I had been very worried about all four of us sleeping together in the same space, but Rex only woke me during the night when he wanted to nurse. Walter, thankfully, is as deep a sleeper as his daddy!

Friday was reception-prep and rehearsal day. We were late to the reception venue to help everyone and drove the RV there (what else could we do?), and unfortunately a Pyrex dish fell during a turn-around-pothole-miscalculation and shattered all over the tile floor. Consequently we learned where the RV vacuum was and how to use it.

Later that evening we piled into our friend’s van, rather awkwardly but gratefully, to get to the church. I sat there nursing while the big boys practiced their roles. Because of my annual Christmas card mailings, I was approached by the best man’s wife, Dina. She said our card was on her fridge, and she loved the book list I put on the back. It was nice to make another friend, and we chatted during the rehearsal and sat together during dinner as well. She was a very lovely Jordanian woman who is a performance aviation engineer for GE. I find it very interesting to learn about the different, highly specific engineering jobs out there.

img_20170218_095822_584Walter knows how to dress sharp.

Saturday was the big day. It turns out that David had many hours of obligations as a groomsman, so for most of the day I was on my own. This brought out a few tears as I was exhausted and hadn’t made this big a trip so quickly postpartum to be on my own. It was made worse when Walter, after having come to sit with me mid-ceremony when his ring-bearing duties were over, saw Daddy walking down the aisle with a bridesmaid and asked, “Mommy, did Daddy just marry that other woman!?!” I kinda laughed and said “No, honey, he’s only married to me” and Walter replied, “But that was David.”

img_20170218_123409175_hdr#handsomemen #idontliketoshare

img_20170218_175051767We had several hours to kill in between the ceremony and reception while Daddy took pictures around town with the newlyweds. We played in the RV since we had checked out of the hotel earlier that day. Plans were to leave that night and repeat the driving procedure we had followed on the way up.

img_20170218_175129152#cutebaby #cutebabyjeans

img_20170220_095637After watching the first dance, finally in the same room together, Dave bee-lined for us. We ate a delicious dinner — one of the best wedding menus we’ve had — drank some tasty beer, took photos in the photo booth, danced (me with the baby at the breast, Dave holding an almost sleeping Walter, who had run around the dance floor with the other kids all night), and left early around 9:30pm. I didn’t want to go, but we knew we had to get out of there if we wanted to get to Cincinnati at a decent time.

img_20170219_032826631We rolled in around 2am and the blackout shades in the brand new hotel room proved to be very effective. We all slept until 9:30am, ate our last breakfast in the RV, and drove home. We even got to enjoy an extra hour and a half of driving time due to Sunday night road construction. Thank you, Georgia.

img_20170217_121004Thank goodness he loves his car seat. He probably thought we were going to leave him in there permanently.

48 hours of travel, 48 hours of partying. Totally worth it.

Round 2

10 Feb

This time pretty much couldn’t be more different than the first time, except it’s still a story of Mama Johnston having a little boy. I am definitely more prepared, having gone through it before, but having my husband stay home for three weeks made all the difference in the world. We also had lots of grandparent help. So while I was busy getting my physical footing again after the marathon months of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum, we were all getting looked after. And as it turns out, I didn’t need to be scared about how Rex would fit in to our family. He, and we, transitioned like he was always meant to be with us, was always with us.

And I’m so glad he is here.

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Taking the boys to the playground when he’s six days old. With Walter I had a hard time making it to our front porch the first couple months.

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Everyone needed their hairs trimmed, and we even made it on time! When I had Walter, Laura made a house call for the first trim I needed postpartum.

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First sushi in 9 months at Ra with Dave’s coworkers.

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Walter is the best big brother. He loves soothing Rex when the baby cries and singing him songs to make him happy.

And then David went back to work. I was scared. I cried the morning he left, missing him more than I’d ever missed him before. Those three weeks with him at home were the best three weeks of my life.

But I forced myself to get out of the house (thank goodness for W), and we got to storytime at our local library. I even cleaned the house when we got home.

img_20170130_112402555Homeschooling benefits me as much as Walt!

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Walter also started a computer class – this month’s theme is Lego robotics – that first week Dave was back at work. I swear this kid turned into a teenager when we were busy blinking.

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Rex even came with us to Couples Book Club. Here he is meeting Uncle Luke.

img_20170209_140314042We haven’t slowed down at all — thank goodness Rex is a fairly good sleeper already (though I still haven’t gotten more than four hours straight in a month). Having so many activities scheduled is a bit difficult, but I get to meet up with friends too, which is very important for new mommy sanity.

I feel a little drained, and I wish with all my heart that David could still be at home with us, but we’re more than surviving. We’re having a blast.

A Sweet Husband Story

21 Jan

It’s been a bleak day. The weather in Atlanta has been dreary. Many of the people I know are marching in protest of the President who was inaugurated yesterday. This, however, is a story about socks. Really great socks that make me happy every time I look at them.

When I was getting together my last minute things for the hospital while in labor, I picked out my favorite pair of socks to wear. I actually thought to myself, “Maybe they’ll be my lucky socks for labor.”

Once I was done with triage, the nurse had me put on super anti-slip, hospital-issued socks so that they wouldn’t get sued if I fell — I mean, so I wouldn’t fall. Because I was having contractions and my pelvis was still hurting from my huge belly (I hadn’t been able to comfortably put on a pair of socks or shoes for months), in an attempt to hurry I put the socks on over my lucky socks.

An hour later, while I was busy holding my newborn, the midwife or a nurse pulled off one soaked hospital sock in an effort to help me clean up. She didn’t realize that one half of my lucky sock pair was still inside said hospital sock. I had a brief thought that I could deal with that later, but alas, when I next thought about it, it was missing.

My husband, after our magic bonding hour with our new baby, spent a good 15 minutes donning gloves and digging through the biomedical waste baskets in an attempt to find my socks, which at this point had both gone missing. He found one, and I implored him to give up on the other, that it didn’t really matter.

Several days later, while at home, an Amazon box arrived at our door. It was a new box of Betsey Johnson socks (only the coolest socks ever), and the designs were even better than the socks I had had before. Some people might want diamonds for a push present, but this thoughtful gift from my husband means I now have seven lucky pairs of socks and a smile on my face whenever I look at my warm toes.

sock

 

Channeling Ina May: Rex’s Birth Story

19 Jan

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All week – longer – I was having “symptoms” of impending labor, but nothing would come of it. I knew from my doula that second babies were like that, so I just decided to be patient. This patience was made easier by the fact that I was terrified to give birth again from pretty much the moment of conception. When I got pregnant with Walter, I knew from the beginning he’d come early. I had a feeling my entire pregnancy, and I was right. With little Rex, I had no idea when he would come. For all I knew, he could be two weeks late instead of one week early. As it turns out, I cooked him exactly the same amount of time that I cooked Walter: one day shy of precisely nine months.

Once the weather reports started coming in that a snow/ice storm would arrive on Friday, David started predicting that that would be the day I would have baby boy #2. He knew he’d have to drive to the hospital in harrowing conditions, and he told everyone that the whole week. On Thursday I met my mother for lunch and to exchange Walter so he could have a night with his Nini. After that I met my friend Sophia for a walk to a coffee shop at the High Museum for a latte. I was hoping a walk would stimulate the baby to come, plus it was a very pretty, but cold, day.

Thursday night I had several contractions in the middle of the night, and I thought upon waking that I would have to tell Dave not even to bother going in to work that day. But, I didn’t have any more once I woke up, so I thought it was another no-go day. I lounged around with the kitty, staying warm, and spent some time with the jigsaw puzzle we got for Christmas. Dave luckily had a short day due to the storm, and he went to go pick up Walter from my mom’s. Walter had been sick all night and day, so shortly before they arrived home around 4:30pm, I was at the grocery store getting sick-kid supplies. The self-check-out attendant asked me if I was going to have a baby soon, and I said, “Any day! My due date is in five days!” I had no idea that in reality he would be out seven hours later.

I got home and fed Walter some chicken soup that David made. We sat and watched TV and tended to the sick boy, who after some soup, ginger ale, and Pediasure made a somewhat miraculous recovery. As I sat on the couch with him, I started having really random contractions around 5pm. Every time one came (and they weren’t bad or long) I would say, “Dave, there’s another,” and he would look at me with excitement. The way things had been starting and stopping for days just like this, I didn’t believe anything was really going to happen, especially since they were ranging from 6 to 45 minutes apart and lasting for about 30 seconds.

I decided to take a bath to see if that would ramp things up or slow things down. My doula said that and a big glass of water would be good to evaluate labor. I had a couple contractions when I first got in the tub, but then nothing for a while. I got out and told Dave I was going to go lie down for a minute to get some rest, around 8pm. Starting then, I had one contraction every ten minutes. Lying on my side, holding my belly, I decided to tell my baby, “You can come now; we can do this” which I repeated throughout each contraction like a meditation. I was tired of fearing birth and figured I just needed to get it over with. I was also pretty much sleeping in between each contraction. It was a nice 30 minutes.

At the end of the third contraction like this, I heard and felt a “POP” inside of my uterus. I thought to myself, “Hm, was that my water breaking?”. I hoped it was because otherwise that sound would be a bit terrifying. With Walter, my water hadn’t broken until the L&D nurse broke it for me while I was pushing, so I had no idea what it was like. I hurried out of the bed (well, as fast as I could at 9 months pregnant), wondering if water would stream out of me. I felt a little bit come out and went to check it out in the bathroom. Nothing too much happened, but peeing on myself is not one of my pregnancy symptoms, so I called my doula to ask her about it. I was sitting on the bed cross legged, and she said to lay down for ten minutes. If when I sit back up again it drips or flows out, that’s my water. After the call, I stood up to change underwear, and a lot came out. I texted her back and then called Dave into the room to tell him what had happened. He got super excited and finished packing his hospital bag. I hadn’t had another contraction since my water breaking, so I told him he didn’t need to call his mom to set the Walter plan in motion. I wanted labor to truly start because I felt it might slow down if we started any action plans too early. I didn’t want anyone watching me, waiting for another contraction that may or may not come. However, I did call my midwife group to tell them what had happened. They weren’t concerned about me coming in right away because my fluid was clear, but the weather was getting worse outside. I said I’d come in probably sooner rather than later, since the hospital was 30 minutes away. I didn’t feel too bad yet, but I was thinking the sooner we got the drive out of the way, the better.

My contractions took a break while I had made all my calls, but they started again soon after, and were much more intense than before my water had broken. I wasn’t timing them, but to me they seemed to come every couple of minutes and not last very long. Soon enough though, I had one or two with pressure, and I thought to myself, “Oh my! That happened fast!” So I called David back to the room and said, “You need to get Walter to bed now, and call your mom to get here.” His dad ended up coming with her, which at first I didn’t want, but it turned out to be a blessing that he was there to stay with Walter, because Mimi came with us to the hospital.

img_20170106_2135434471Getting Walter ready for bed during labor!

By the time we got Walter in bed (and I sang him two sunshine songs in between my contractions), I was really ready to go. Mimi asked if we wanted her to ride with us. At this point, I was a little worried about having the baby in the car, because I was definitely feeling pressure during some contractions, so I said yes. We all climbed in, walking through slippery ice in the carport, around 9:30pm. During the drive my contractions kept up. They were short and intense. Mimi would ask me how I was doing or hand me water when I asked for it, and David was busy driving through the slush and sleet. I kept telling him to drive slowly and carefully, because to me he seemed to drive fast and swerve around other slower cars. At one especially long light, both my husband and my MIL wanted to run the red light, but I kept telling them they didn’t need to. We got to the hospital around 10:10 and slowly walked in over the ice.

David helped me the entire way to L&D registration, which was good cause we stopped a couple times, and I leaned on him during contractions. I signed in and would lean my head on the desk during a contraction. They took me to triage, where, to be honest, the nurse was rather rough and completely unaware of me as an individual person. They did two tests to check to see if my water broke (because I guess the leaking for an hour and the first test weren’t enough), and she actually said to me, “We’ll check to see if your water did break otherwise we’ll send you home to labor some more.” This was spoken to a woman who had just driven 30 minutes in an ice storm and who was, as it turns out, an hour from delivery. I told her there was no way this wasn’t real labor, but I don’t think she heard me. She then strapped me in to monitor the baby’s heartbeat during contractions and had me lie down. When I asked her if I could sit up during the 20 minutes of monitoring, she said no, to which I should have fought harder because lying down during contractions without drugs is awful. I wonder if that might have been why I had back labor later. I would squeeze Dave’s hand super tight trying to get through the pain. This was the only time labor was really bad.

She checked my progress and told me I was 3-4 centimeters and 70% effaced, which surprised me. I thought I’d at least be around 6cm. I’m pretty sure that because she so roughly checked my dilation that I closed up a bit, which happened to me last time I was in labor (even though the nurse had been nice about it then). But we’ll never know because I never had the chance to get checked again before Rex came out.

We went in to the labor room and dealt with the lights. I was also hot at this point so I took off my sweater. I asked for a glass of ice water and was told the nurse would have to get approval from my midwife before I got anything. I said, “No, I need some water now,” and David got me some as soon as he could. We put the back of the bed up so I could try to lean against it during contractions, as my doula had suggested during our meeting the week before, but it wasn’t a position that really worked for me. My doula hadn’t been able to make it to the hospital due to the snow, so when Jan, my OB/GYN MIL, mentioned that she was going to go, I asked her if she would stay. At that point I honestly didn’t really trust the staff at North Fulton, because they seemed to be ignoring me and the true state I was in. I thought the baby was going to come fast, and I wanted someone there I trusted to catch the baby. I trusted my midwife, but she hadn’t shown up yet, and the nurse, Vick, didn’t seem in a hurry to grab her. In fact, she kept asking me intake questions during my contractions, and there was no way I could answer her. At this point I was deep in my contractions, and I heard Dave have to either answer for me or tell her that she would have to ask later. She even continued bustling about the room doing gosh-knows-what, and I wanted to yell at her to leave and give me some privacy. The only thing I can fathom for her attitude is that I wasn’t screaming and crying; in fact, I barely made any noise at all. One of the only things I said the whole time was “Ugh labor is hard work!”

This labor was very different from my first in that I wanted to be touched by Dave this time. Even just his hand on my shoulder was soothing. Last time I think I felt self-conscious when people touched me. This time I didn’t feel that way at all. I had some serious back pain during my last half hour of contractions before pushing, which Dave and Jan tried to help by massaging, but that made it hurt worse. If they touched my back around the pain, that did help, but I could barely get out any instructions to them. I had no idea how long or close together my contractions were and no one was telling me, even if they were timing them (I had been told in triage that they were three minutes apart lasting one minute, but Dave said he thought I was making them slow down because of how I was being treated in there).

The only position I really liked was facing Dave, holding my arms around his neck. I could dangle in between contractions and the gravity and support I felt from him got me through during. I stood up for a little while doing this, but soon that was too much height, so I squatted on the edge of the bed being basically held up by him. He and Jan would say things to me that really helped my mindset. Jan once said, “Don’t fight them, let the contractions do the work,” which I really think helped me move forward. Many times I considered an epidural. I even asked Jan if I should at one point, and her response was “You’re doing great” which annoyed me, but she probably recognized that it wasn’t going to be long until the baby got there.

I thought of a few things such as getting in to the shower (which seemed way too far away) or sitting on the toilet because I felt the urge to poo. But I knew from my previous labor that that feeling is usually because the baby is getting ready to join you on the outside. And honestly I didn’t want the intensity of sitting like that again. It was when I sat on the toilet with Walter that I felt fear and the labor kinda went out of control (i.e. the doctor started leading the show instead of me). So I just thought to myself, “I’m going to try to poo here, and if it comes out, if whatever comes out, so be it. I’m trying to get a baby out of me.”

It wasn’t really that long after I was squatting on the bed, holding on to my husband, going with the flow, that I started to bear down. My body totally took over and knew exactly what it was doing. I said, “I think I was pushing on that one” and Jan said, “I saw that”. The nurse came in around then, and Dave tried to tell her I was pushing, but she basically ignored him. Jan then reiterated the sentiment, and the nurse said, “OK, the midwife is coming down. I’ll let her know so that she can come check her.” I believe she left the room at this point, and during my next contraction I really beared down. It was probably one of two or three big pushes I made to get my little boy out.

Jan went to the door to tell the nurses to really get in there, and then came back to me to tell me not to push and to breathe through the next contraction. But I think my body listened to her, and I didn’t really have a big urge to push. I certainly, this time, felt the “ring of fire” that everyone describes as the baby sits in the birth canal. I think this brief calmness helped me to go slow and not to tear like I did last time.

After that I continued pushing regardless of who was in the room. I knew Jan would be able to catch him if no one else got there in time, but I did sense when a bunch of people rushed in all at once. I was still wearing the “underwear” they give you in triage, which is very stretchy mesh, and the nurses were having an interesting time trying to remove them to catch the baby. I pushed when my body told me to push, and his head came out. I had another brief break, then pushed again and heard the word “shoulders”, so I believe the midwife had to turn him a bit to ease him out, but out he came! I was still wrapped up in David’s arms, and he later told me that I was pushing my belly against him, and he could literally feel the baby move down inside me with contractions and pushing. Once the baby came out they had me sit back and hold him to me. His cord was short and everything was covered in various bodily fluids, but it was a miraculous feeling to hold another sweet, warm, slippery baby of mine to my stomach. It was less than three hours after my water had broken and about an hour after we arrived at the hospital.

This birth was healing in many ways. I’ve never felt closer to my husband. I felt like we went through that together and that I couldn’t have done it without him. He literally held me through one of the most profound experiences of my life. And even though my first birth went pretty much as I wanted, I had this lingering fear from the pushing stages. After Rex, I feel only exhilaration when I look back at his birth. Despite the hospital scenery and regulations, I gave birth the way I wanted to. I conquered my fears… even though labor was so short I don’t think I could have done it any other way (i.e. with medication).

Oh Rex, how your father, brother, and I love you. You are a light in our lives and oh so welcome already!

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Pregnancy leaves no woman untested

2 Jan

Though maybe it does? I’m sure some women breeze through pregnancy as they do life. But I’m not talking about those women. It doesn’t matter how much you’ve wanted a baby, pregnancy is no joke. I don’t like the complainers though, because they’re missing the point of their incredible miracle.

I currently have an almost fully cooked babe in me, and I still don’t really understand or grasp what is happening. I remember looking at Walter as a newborn and just being amazed that he came out of me. It is truly unbelievable. I am growing another life. I will give birth to a human who with all luck and good fortune will grow into an adult who will have all sorts of experiences life will grant to him.

As I near the end of this pregnancy, a much wanted pregnancy, there are so many thoughts floating through my mind. First and foremost is, when will he get here? I thought maybe he’d come at the end of December, but my dad was right and he’ll be a January baby. Of course then I think, how will his birth go? What will Walt, Dave, and I be doing when he decides to join us on the outside? Will it be fast and relatively painless or a big struggle? These are huge unknowns.

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I’ve endured months and months of nausea, pain, self-discipline, and wonderment to get to this point (and yet I’d characterize this pregnancy as pretty easy-going. I’ve felt very lucky to feel as good as I’ve felt most of the time and all my testing went well). And yet, standing on the edge of bringing in a new life to our family and the world makes me wonder: how will it go to have another? Will he fit right in? Who will he be? Will he be as awesome as Walter? Did I do enough right for him? Mentally this has been a very different pregnancy than my first; did he absorb all of that? In a good or bad way?

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I just have to trust in him. And enjoy these last few days of us being together, as close together as two people could possibly be. From the moment he comes out, he’ll be experiencing the world without me, no matter how long I hold him tight.

Last bit of the year!

31 Dec

Many of my friends currently disparage 2016, but it’s been been a great year for me. I will admit, it wasn’t always easy. But, I think that about every year. My life, especially since 2008 (when I finally set myself free from depression), has always had an upward trajectory, no matter what the hardships or setbacks. I try to enjoy myself, because what else can you do unless you want to be miserable?

Here we are, almost a new year. I can’t believe it’s been 17 years since Y2K. The last bit of this year has flown by, as I knew it would, with all the holidays and hustle and bustle of life, making my anticipation of baby #2 an easy one. He is due right around the corner — any time in the next week or more.

However, I’ve had some anxiety about his upcoming birth. I’m not really sure why, but I think it’s because I had an unmedicated birth with Walter, so I set the bar high out of the starting gate. Poor #2 might not have his own nursery, but doesn’t he deserve the same entrance into the world? I believe in the natural birthing abilities of women like I do in homeschooling, but, I’ve still been scared. Scared since pretty much week 16 when I knew he’d come barreling out of me at some point, and I didn’t want to drug him and me doing it if I could help it.

So today was a good last day of the year in preparation for that. My awesome doula Alice came by to talk about birth #2 and soothe my fears. It helped more than all the great birth stories I’ve been reading to try to bolster my spirits (stories which actually were making me more nervous by talking about overcoming all the pain). We chatted for a couple hours, and I feel once again like I did with Walter, that I can do this.

Then I met a lovely friend for a latte and lunch at Bread and Butterfly, followed by a pampering mani-pedi at Serenity. My boys had flowers waiting for me when I got home, so it really was a perfect day despite the dreary weather outside. Sometimes that makes me feel extra cozy inside, especially when things go so right!

img_20161231_143223115I channeled my inner-Dave and ordered the burger, which was delicious.

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Cool blue for baby boy!

If I make it to midnight, we’ll be enjoying our annual 12 grapes of good luck. And tomorrow collards and black eyed peas will be simmering after breakfast. Looking forward to that and the new boy with many emotions swirling inside. When will he get here?

Pregnancy/Fertility Thoughts

28 Oct

29-weeksAlmost 7 months pregnant!

I have been growing this little one with so much joy inside my heart. It is different though, after secondary infertility and fertility treatments. I think that was why I was so anxious about the birth of this one even from the very beginning. For so many months my body had failed to give me what I wanted, and I don’t think I was truly trusting myself, even after my pregnancy continued to progress smoothly.

The first time I got pregnant, it happened after one cycle of trying. This time it took 2 years almost exactly from the date I wrote “We can start trying!!!” on our Google calendar to getting a positive pregnancy test. By the time it finally did happen, we were trying so many things at once, only God knows what did the trick. It takes three months for eggs to develop from follicles; the egg for baby boy #2 originated from the month we were doing our anti-inflammatory diet. I was going to acupuncture every two weeks. I had an endometrial biopsy the previous cycle. And, we did a Femara IUI cycle.

I think there honestly is a different feeling (for me) to getting pregnant in the quiet intimacy with my husband vs the public happenings at an RE’s office. I suppose some people can hide that aspect of their lives, but I needed the support of my friends and family throughout our years of trying. And by the time I was going to an RE’s office several times a week, it’s hard to hide from the “did you take a test today?” questions — not that I minded. I enjoyed sharing the journey.

The book on orgasmic birth really did help my anxiety. While there were things I didn’t like about that particular book (the author was a bit aggressive, for one), it helped me get in tune with the feeling that “all this is natural, just let your body do what comes naturally.” And that’s when I realized I had a block against those type of thoughts because of how this little one came to be. But the truth is, if God, or the universe, hadn’t wanted it to be, it wouldn’t have happened, no matter how many interventions. I know many people who try fertility treatments for years with no success. So I’m slowly getting back to that assurance I had with Walter that my body knows what it is doing and can handle a birth. Can more than just handle a birth.

My goal this time is to push the baby out with a smile on my face, instead of hyperventilating. My goal is to feel the joy coursing through me every moment of his birth, as I have for every moment of his pregnancy… well, since the unbearable nausea ended. It’s amazing to me how negatively I felt, after trying so hard, when I finally got my wish granted. I’m glad that has passed, and I’m only looking forward to the things to come, like holding this little one as close as possible for as long as possible, and sharing him with all those who love our little growing family.

What to do with apples

25 Oct

We had a full bushel of apples when we came home from apple picking. Besides eating as many delicious apples as we could (plain and with peanut butter, which Walter declared was worth his taste buds), we scoured our canning books and the internet and came up with some good recipes.

Dave made apple jelly and “Mom’s Apple Pie in a Jar”, which is something you’re supposed to put on top of ice cream and other desserts. Some are going out for Christmas presents while others are waiting to be opened and consumed during the cold, hard months of winter. And we still have lots of apple cider leftover to use elsewhere.

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Walter and I made apple pie, apple muffins, and applesauce muffins.

img_20161018_171937The best of our three attempts at pie crust was Walter’s version. I had made some modifications of Julia Child’s recipe after one failed version and one medium success (we used less water and had to figure out the flour ratio since we had pastry flour instead of cake flour), but still. He worked that dough all by himself, and it was great.

img_20161019_163639769Only had to cut up 1 million golden delicious apples.

img_20161019_174019511We made these for an early family Thanksgiving lunch in a couple weeks, but we just had to try one slice before it went in the freezer. And it was délicieux.

Whole Wheat Apple Muffins by Smitten Kitchen

Because of this recipe I’ve started substituting whole wheat flour in other muffins and wow. My banana bread muffins have never tasted so good. Just replace 1 cup all-purpose with 3/4 cup whole wheat flour.

Apple Pie by Crafty Creative Gal

We used the pie crust recipe directly out of a Julia Child cookbook, but the filling and everything else from this recipe. And YUM.

Applesauce

For the applesauce muffins, I just did my banana bread recipe but replaced three bananas with homemade applesauce from three apples. Boy, a kitchen never smells as good as when apples have been simmering in cinnamon and sugar all day long. I did the slow cooker version, which turned the apples a lot darker than the picture, but as it was going in to muffins, I didn’t care.

Most of the muffins are sitting in our freezer waiting for midnight snacking sessions after nursing #2. I can’t wait for those all-night cuddle sessions. Just 2 1/2 more months to go!