Monday, April 24, 2006

'ow was it, ringo?


*My favorite bit from the movie "Yellow Submarine". Ringo went exploring, you see.

First things first. Finn is here and he is adverb-not-invented-yetly beautiful. He is an almondine elf-egg, a weird little old man wizard, the barest rosebud sketch of a human being. Line for an eye, line for an eye, little fluff mouth falling open, done. When he's lying asleep in my arms, I can't believe we made him. I stare at him and feel reverent and ferocious and unfairly blessed.

My friend Elizabeth, with Finn. She's one of the
key players in this story, along with many others
who will be named and thanked in subsequent posts.

I can't tell the whole story of his birth here, now. Too much. Too tired. I'll just do a sort of line drawing of the event. We'll see how much detail makes it in.

Wednesday, April 19th.

Labor begins early in the morning with persistent lower back pain. I spend the morning sitting on the bed and the couch and the birth ball, frowning and feeling inward. At 2pm I have a spurt where I don't want to look at anyone or speak to anyone. I stare down at my chest and feel weird and quiet, like I'm waiting for a drug to take effect. At 3pm the labor starts taking on a pattern and I feel more outward and talkative. We start timing contractions.

From 5-6-:30pm, things start blurring up and getting more serious. I'm working now. I'm on the birth ball in the living room or standing in the bathroom hanging on to the sink or a towel bar and someone's hand (whose hand varies). I must be getting close.

6:30-7:30. It gets as difficult as I thought it ever might get. I think things are moving quickly. Where is the midwife?? With every contraction, I have to choose anew to dig unprecedentedly deep and find something strong and positive and graceful with which to handle it. Graceful, why, you might ask? Maybe you can not be graceful while giving birth! Well, no. As it happens, for me, the search for grace turned out to be one of most important blades on the Swiss army knife of childbirth. I would have perished out there without it.

7:30-oh let's say 9:30. Assistants arrive, our midwife Felice arrives. Measuring, working. Tub lady arrives to set up tub. Tub is set up. It's dark out. I get to get in the tub. I have a reaction. Tub lady and Felice have never seen this level of enthusiasm for tub. Back labor. Everyone is taking turns squeezing my lower back during a contraction. I urgently grunt out directions, and as the contraction winds down, I attempt to thank the person who was squeezing me while I have a thankful word still floating in me somewhere to be ejected.

9:30-11:00. Don't want to talk about this part much. Everything is slow, then everything gets bad. Last part of this time, a decision has been made that I need to go to the hospital. It is a long, long road to the car. At top speed, I am traveling 20 fph*. Concern, a feeling of grimness is underneath everything, but on top we are all spreading the frosting of equanimity.

*feet per hour.

11pm. Arrive at Swedish. I make my friend Martha stand next to me in triage because she smells like Ammachi, the Indian hugging saint that I love. Sandalwood trumps meconium. The nurses keep bumping my knee pillow, which is inconceivable to me. You can't bump a woman's knee pillow at this point. You'd think a nurse would know better. I am as ugly and messy as I have ever been. It can't get worse. This has to be the worst. I'm to be given Pitocin and

an epidural!****

****these letters can't be sparkly enough

1am. I've been transferred to my labor and delivery room. It's nice. Nice lighting. Lots of wood. I have a standard sound I make when the contractions hit, I know just how to make it. It's low and has a lot of "O" in it. My i.v. is in and the fluid is getting in. Enough gets in. They give me the epidural. I wait. It hits.

The possibility of Dave and I having more than one child is re-opened.

1am-8am. I have an infection and a fever, and Finn's heartbeat is all over the joint. I'm shaking uncontrollably, but I can't feel the contractions, except for in my neck and shoulders. People sleep, leave, come back. Doctors come in and out. The sun rises. I'm not interested in seeing it. I like my sleep mask. There's a tissue with lavender oil on it on my chest. I like it.

8am. Enough has happened and everything is okay enough that we can try to have the baby vaginally. At 7:30, a doctor saw Finn's ear up there. He was trying.

Ah, hell. I can't tell any more, now. It kills me, that he was trying so hard. Maybe I'll tell you later about how we tried it with me pushing, in front of a crowded room full of people, and then they came with a vacuum, and then they said it wouldn't work and rushed me off for a c-section. We were in the hospital until Sunday morning. Finn was in Special Care until Saturday morning.

I for sure can't talk about it, now. I'm still reeling, and my little baby is out in the living room with his dad and grandma and I miss him. I'm going out there. We're out of one set of woods, but we're in another, now. Recovering from a cesarean is hard.

It felt good to take a break and tell this part. Thanks for checking in, everyone. I'll post again as soon as I can.

moonbeam, minutes old

Thursday, April 13, 2006

the towel and the feeling, or, NOW, we WAIT

I said something to Dave last night as I was doing my nightly moaning organization of myself into my elaborate system of pillows. One of the things in my bed arsenal is a carefully folded-up hand towel that I put under my waist to align things so that my hip won't attack me in the night. The placing of myself over the hand towel is TOUCHY. The towel is folded in quarters horizontally, and every night I say to myself, "Tomorrow I'm going to sew this thing closed so it'll stay like this." I have been using a towel like this for a month and a half, and tomorrow has never come. So, I refold the towel every night and then get myself propped up on one arm all sideways amongst my pillows, and aim the towel at the place where I think my waist was before all of this happened. Once I've moved the towel up and down my side a few inches and feel satisfied that I've sort of hit the "waist", I gingerly start to lower myself to the mattress. The towel begins to curl and flop. I innerly begin to curse. I grab one end of the towel with the hand at the end of the propping-myself-up arm, and wind my free arm around my back to try to grab the towel from behind my back and pull it straight before I hit the mattress. I am never successful. The towel is lumpy and hurting me. I launch myself back onto my propping-up arm and with the other hand I assess how fucked up the towel fold has become. Do I have to sit up and refold it? Can I sort of just smooth it out beneath me and pull it into place? The towel has usually ended up totally diagonal and I have to strain to reach the back end of it to try my next maneuver. This is where the towel-related moaning starts (some mild pillow-related moaning will have already happened).

Last night, when I reached this stage with the towel, Dave asked if he could help. I agreed, and he grabbed the back end of the towel while I held the other end and tried to both lower myself and direct the towel accurately to its intended place. Having someone else involved in this towel thing is tricky. It's like a one-armed man inviting a blind man something where it would be great if everyone both had two arms and could see. Dave pulled the towel taut but it wasn't touching me so I couldn't tell if it was in the right place and then suddenly some part of my body ached in a minor but annoying way and I said to Dave:

Stop, I'm having a feeling.

I know it's wrong to be all delighted about something that comes out of your own mouth, but I was and I am. I love the idea that "a feeling" is enough for a universal time-out. I imagine people in business suits everywhere stopping on city streets and making the time-out signal whilst looking inward for the source of a little feeling, while the world and traffic respectfully stop and wait for the results.


In other news, I went to the midwife on Tuesday, and what do you know? She did strip my membranes after all. I was wrong that she couldn't. She could and she did. When she did it, she said, this might do something or it might do nothing, and if it actually helps we'll never know. Since then, nothing has happened. Or, no, lots has happened - Larraine, Dave's mom, got here from Australia and she is the BEST and having her in the house is THE BEST and makes me want to weep for joy. And the baby seems to be threatening to be backwards. Sunny-side-up. When he moves now, I can feel a little knee coming out the front of my belly. And as I'm sort of on a pre-eclampsia* watch, I've now been told by the midwife to pretty much stay lying on my left side as much as possible. So how I'm organized now is either lying like a queen sideways on my couch or on all fours on a yoga mat trying to wiggle Finn into alignment. And I'm eating protein bar after protein bar, since giant amounts of protein may or may not help prevent pre-eclampsia.

*Pre-eclampsia is a...bad thing that involves overly high blood pressure and headaches and seeing stars and swelling and not getting to have a home birth, and it's a precursor to eclampsia which is a worse thing, a very bad thing, but, thankfully, a very rare thing, whereas pre-eclampsia isn't that rare.

Might I recommend the Promax Chocolate Mint Energy Bar? I will! I do. It's soft, minty and delicious.


We had a sketch back when I was in the now-defunct Bald Faced Lie wherein I played a character called "The Puppy", who was the fur-coat, fur-hat wearing head of a bizarre little crime syndicate. At the end of the sketch, we're all gathered around a table where we've been on an important phone call. The Puppy hangs up the phone and says momentously, "Now...................................................we wait." And the lights dim painstakingly slowly, and the sketch ends.

Monday, April 10, 2006

going for the oven mitts

We're going to the midwife tomorrow (today, perhaps, from your perspective - TUESDAY). At that midwife appointment, they're going something to encourage labor to begin.


Yes. Last Thursday we had a midwife appointment and she was like, ain't no reason for you not to have this baby sooner rather than later. We're keeping this eye on my blood pressure and on things not developing into preeclampsia, and we got what might be a big baby in there. So, the feeling is, he's cooked. Let's maybe encourage him to emerge from the oven.

I'm for it, I'll tell you. Who is the elephant in the picture? Is it Finn? Am I the elephant? That's a possible yes and a definite goddamn yes. OOF OOF UGH DAVE HELP ME GET OUT OF BED HELP ME UP TO A SITTING POSITION ON THE COUCH OH MY HIP MY FEET MY BELLY.

And then also it's like....hmmm. I think I have to pee. I'm going to get up and OH NO THERE'S NO TIME I MUST RUN FOR IT AAH AAH PANTS DOWN GET THE PANTS DOWN IT'S A RACE AGAINST THE PEE AAH WHO WILL WIN?! Now, miraculously, I have always won. But by a nose, motherfuckers. By a nose. By a nosehair. The pee is looking strong these days.

Also, it's like, here's a plate of eggs and toast. I eat it. Three hours later, nobody from my digestive system has come to retrieve the eggs and toast. They sit there, making me feel creepy. I burp forty times. Nothing is happening.

Also, who is this baby? I keep picturing random babies, because I've never seen a baby of my own. I can't wait to see his actual face. It's like I'm looking at a picture frame that I bought at the store that still has the flimsy model picture in it, standing in for my loved one.

Dave's mama arrives from Australia tomorrow night (tonight....TUESDAY). Hurrah! It's all getting so real.

I wonder what Midwifey will do. She can't strip my membranes because I got a situation where that's not supposed to go down. Will I get acupuncture? Will she give me an herb? A talking-to? Is she going to feed me spicy enchiladas? Is she going to try and have sex with me? Just how are we going to convince this baby to get out of the oven?


P.S. I send a large shout-out to Miss Bladio Blogio, who took me on a great shopping expedition to Target and Whole Foods yesterday (day before yesterday....SUNDAY), so I didn't have to drive. It was a fine time and she was a honey to do it. I bought all manner of whack shit as I have no idea what I'm doing.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

peaceful more added

Thank you, sweet everyone who has sent their good wishes and offers of help. I was really touched by all the kindness that swung my way after that last post. It's a little embarrassing to overtly plump for people to pet you, but man, ask and ye shall receive. You all are just lovely people.

My mom's out of the hospital and safely home, and Dave and I are back at our Pink House. Mom's a little wobbly and nervous, feeling a little like a time bomb, but she should be fine. Thankfully she has a friend staying with her tonight, to make her feel a little more secure. I visited her today and found her clutching My Therapy Buddy!* (It arrived. And it's a lady! I mean, it's a lady's voice. I remembered the buddy sounding more androgynous, and sort of interpreting it to be an effeminate male. But it's all woman. But it's built like a man. An out of shape man. It actually sort of looks like my dad.) Anyway, there she was, hugging the buddy, and she was all, "You can get another one. This one's mine."

*I re-read this and realized that the sequence here made it sound like My Therapy Buddy was the "friend" staying with her. No, she had a real human friend person there. (Sorry, My Therapy Buddy. I should have told you to cover your ears.)

The buddy is remarkably comforting, I have to tell you. We bought it for a joke, but it is really perfectly shaped and squishy in just the right amount and IT FEELS GOOD TO HOLD IT. The hypothesis that 98% of people can be helped by a buddy...I have to say, I believe it. You don't even have to believe in the power of the buddy. IT FEELS GOOD TO HOLD IT. You could have a tiny, shrivelled, vinegary heart, you could be the world's most cynical bastard, and you might be able to deny outwardly that it's doing anything for you, but inside you would be like, Hold me, buddy. Tiens moi. Don't let go.

So the buddy is hers. I feel very good about that. We can order another one. And we're going to.

Our sweet friend Morgan came to our house and worked like a dog for four hours yesterday, helping us clean and organize the space. She was amazing. Blim! Blam! Taking charge! She and Dave toiled away while I lay on my left side feeling guilty. So much progress was made, it was incredible. And besides all of your lovely comments, we got some beautiful, heartfelt offers of help. We feel so supported. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

Thank you, everybody. You all very much added more peaceful to our order.

We won't.

Monday, April 03, 2006


Let me tell you straight out, this post is written to elicit sympathy. I understand that posting a Hang In There kitty picture for myself was a risky maneuver in that light, but there we go. Love me despite the fact that I've already provided my own kitty.

This last week has been no good. No good. My mom had a sort of collapse last Tuesday, and it turned out that she had a couple of blood clots in her lungs. We had to get her quickly to the hospital, where she's been since and will be for a couple more days. She'll be all right, it's treatable. They're giving her blood thinners and she's stabilizing. But she came close, there, and that was horrible. And even though she's better and will be fine, you know how it is - there's a chapter in a novel I read once, the title of which (the chapter) was "The Prospect of Rescue Undoes You". My mom and I had a fine weep today as we contemplated how close she came to...yeah.

We've been staying most of this last week up at my mom's place with my brother, who has some chronic situations that require support. The bed there is not good for gigantic pregnant mofos who have enough trouble sleeping as it is! And, goddamnit, I am about to pop. No kidding. Trying to be all bustly and efficient for my mom and brother is a physical challenge right now. I can barely freaking walk! I'm having the Braxton Hicks contractions, but where they used to just feel like a sudden curling of my belly into tight armadillo formation, now they're getting painful and not-fuck-around-y. Saw the midwife last Thursday, and I was 60% effaced and a centimeter dilated already. I'm certain that things have advanced since then, because these contractions are, as I said, not fucking around. I'm trying to make peace with them as they hit, because hopefully they're sparing me some time during actual labor, hopefully they're getting the sort of early work done on my body that Dave and I have NOT been getting done on our house. Nice to know that my body isn't a procrastinator, even if my mind and my husband and I surely the hell are. Our house isn't quite ready, and I really suspect that Finn isn't going to sit around and wait for his due date. So that's freaking me out. Trying to juggle my beloved mom and brother and our baby readiness and my aching lump of a body is bringing me down.

And also, I'm the driver in the household, and driving's getting tougher all the time. I'm getting close to giving that shit up until the baby comes. So, waah to that as well!

It's all a bit much, I say. I feel that it's enough to be facing imminent birth and parenthood. Life was an asshole to throw motherly blood clots into our scene.

That's the suckball report. Bring on the pity! Come to the party! I'm totally throwing it!

For those who may be feeling ballsy: don't even think of invoking My Therapy Buddy right now.