Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Expose: How babies are born ...

Contractions are like cramps. And cramps, I've always thought, feel like a giant fist wringing my uterus like a sponge. Being swabbed dry with a cotton ball. The dull ache in my lower abdomen starts at 3 a.m. after a night that included a backyard fire, hobo dinner, a few s'mores and a bunch of episodes of "How I Met Your Mother." The pain eases in, it's tidal, and I start the stopwatch on my phone but fall asleep before it ends. This pattern suggests a lack of urgency.

At some point Chuck wakes and I tell him he probably isn't going to work today. It's like someone hit the eject button on the bed. He's upright and wearing pants before his second blink. He's downloading a contractions app. I'm throwing various chargers into a duffel bag.

"We should have gone to bed early," Chuck had said when we crawled in at about 1 a.m. "Since we're going to be going to the hospital at 5 a.m."

Actually it was 6 a.m.

Sometimes I suspect I'm a pussy. That the urinary tract infections and the recent migraines really would be damn near pleasant for the majority of women and that my default setting is jammed in the "ouch" position. Is there really a giant fist wringing my uterus like a sponge, or is it the downiest of feathers giving my uterus a cartoonish tickle. I have to stop a few times during the walk from the parking ramp to the birthing center.

In the latter half of my pregnancy I took on the look of an anteater. It has to do with my posture, my slightly pained expression and the shape of my glasses. No one here pays attention to my walking zoo exhibition. I might be having the most extraordinary experience of my life, but to these hospital employees I'm just another round-shouldered woman mooing into a window ledge.

My fear is that the inner mechanics of my body won't be able to keep up with my level of discomfort. The contractions will pulse, but the crypt won't budge. The professionals will say, "Nice try. Come back when you've got something real to show us." That would be a nightmare. Back in the car, across town, into our living room where I would continue to moan through ebb and flow while Chuck squeezes my hips in comfort. His eyebrows clenched into two points.

The common rubber exercise ball is rebranded as a "birthing ball" on this floor of the hospital. And this is my happy place. I spend hours rocking through the contractions. Sometimes they roll in while my own personal nurse is in the middle of a story and I have to say: "I want to hear more about your son's baseball tournament, I do, but I need to drop my head, rock my hips and perform a Gregorian chant for the next 45 seconds." She watches the monitor I'm plugged into and lets me know when the pain is at its apex. She uses a soft, meditative voice to coax me over the hump. This is both awesome and infuriating. It's allows me to follow my pain like a dot on a map, but wish it would hurry its way to Point B.

We have movement in the crypt and the doctors seems surprised. It's opening at an acceptable rate. I imagine a sort of Vincent Price creak and groan. Bats, cobwebs, condensation.

"I really hate this," I say to Chuck or my mom or the nurse. Anyone who happens to be sitting across from me and might be wondering how I'm feeling. "This is like ... being tortured."

There is a new worst-feeling-in-the-world: Having a contraction while getting stuck in the spine with the epidural. I'm knocked breathless. The progressive squeeze in the front, the pinch in the vulnerable part of the back. It's a double assault. The epidural guy yields to the whims of my uterus, then continues his numb job. The only thing standing between me and a huge HOLY FUCK THAT HURTS is the promise that I'll soon go dead legged.

Pregnancy seemed to drag on forever and ever. I'm neither patient, nor do I have much stick-to-it-ness. If it was anything else at all -- growing a plant, writing a novel, learning French -- I'm sure it would have been abandoned. A project lost in storage next to my old easel, a pair of hockey skates and a set of free weights. Still, when the doctor tells me that they are going to break my amniotic sac I get panicky and start to cry. It feels too soon, too fast, too real. Later Chuck tells me that this cloud burst was recorded on my chart, along with the information that "Patient says she has been emotional during pregnancy" -- which makes me feel like I'm in the fast lane toward electro shock therapy.

And then a massive gush leaves my body, a creek after a rainstorm, and the bed is warm and my legs are wet. Every time I laugh or cough or shift I get another burst of flow. It's a new level of gross. A glimpse of life with incontinence.

Chuck is standing next to the bed when the nurse points to something on the sheet.
"That's the mucus plug," she says. "It's been a while since I've seen one that is perfectly intact."
I grimace. This is a bit of science that terrified me from the beginning. I'd never heard the words "mucus plug" before I got pregnant. Truly, it is among the most visual of two-word combos. In my head it would look like a baby rat: pink and wet with a tail. Chuck tells me it looks like something that would come into play during cold-and-flu season.

"I'm sorry you had to see that," I say to him.
My plan had been to keep as much of this gushing, squirting, bleeding, tearing away from him as possible. I'd like for him to be able to look at me after I sneeze without forever thinking of this slug-like thing that oozed out of my body.
"I'm glad she explained what it was," he says. "because that was horrific."

I spend much of the day with no feeling below the waist. I'm assured that I will still feel contractions, but they will be in the form of a blooming pressure. That will prove true. And that pressure feels like the sort of urgent lower abdominal, slash bowel weight that accompanies a night of binge drinking and terrible dietary decisions followed by one too many cups of black coffee.

I touch my right leg and nothing happens. It's like a slab of dead animal. Something to stuff an apple into and roast over a spit. There is an impulse to see what all I can do to my leg without feeling pain. Pass the fork. Every time I shift positions, I have to physically lift my leg, which has suddenly become the heaviest part of my body -- though I'm not convinced it's even still attached to me.

In my head I refer to her as The Fluffer. There is a new nurse on my case, a woman who has been doing this since the white paper hats were en vogue. She reminds me of my mom, even moreso when the two collapse into lengthy conversations and the nurse later tells me that my mom is such a fashionable dresser.

The Fluffer's role, it seems, is to prime me. Get me close to delivery. Do the dirty work so that the doctors can scoot in, suit up, and dislodge a set of baby-sized shoulders. The Fluffer is holding one leg, poking at me, circling the exit with her finger and directing my pushes through the contractions. They don't tell you that there is nothing vaginal about pushing. This feels closer to constipation.

Meanwhile, one rubber-gloved hand seems clenched around ... something. She makes repeated trips to the garbage can and returns to the bed wearing a new glove. Later Chuck reveals that she was carrying fistfuls of yuck. He is on the other leg and tells me that during these 10 second push intervals I look like a power lifter.

The Fluffer encourages me to think of the baby as a car that is stuck in the snow. With each 10-second push cycle, I'm rocking the baby under the pubic bone and toward freedom. I struggle with this imagery. I think we can all do better. The Fluffer asks if I want to watch TV or listen to music. I hadn't noticed that the room had been media free all day.

I could use the distraction. I rock the snow-stuck car free while watching "Bourne Identity." Only later will I realize that the Powerful Baby Girl was born into a pun.

The Fluffer has done the staging between contractions: Tools here, wardrobe supplies over there. She asks if the sight of the tool table is going to freak me out. No. It's not like there is a power saw visible.

Once there is a visual on the baby's head, the team of doctors are introduced. All the efficient donning and tying and scurrying feels like being backstage at a play. Within minutes I've rocked the baby loose and a few squawks later I've got a little hairless squirrel mewing on my chest. I can barely breathe. She looks exactly like I imagined: Her forehead creased like Yoda, slits for eyes, dark hair wet against her head. Her limbs flail, her back arches and I recognize all of her movements from when she was in utero. That leg kick would have popped out of the right side of my body; The tiny fingers that clawed at the walls of my uterus; That's the familiar round of her back. I'd recognize that bony little tush in a crowd of bony tushes.

Later Pa Pista will watch her squirm and say: "I can't imagine what it was like to have her moving around that much inside you" and I'll feel validated.

Meanwhile, things are happening around me. Chuck cuts the cord, despite early reluctance. She's cleaned. Photographs are taken. I am asked to push out the placenta. I receive stitches. People congratulate us and doctors say things but all I see were moving mouths and whooshing noises. None of it penetrates the baby bubble I'm in.

Here is the truth: Giving birth didn't hurt a lick. It wasn't hard to do.  At all. It's just pushing and resting and pushing some more. But there, in the back of your mind, is the inkling of knowledge: This doesn't hurt a lick ... now. But tomorrow. Tomorrow it will feel like you made love to an aggressive bowling ball.

Before I could use the bathroom, the nurse told me, I had to call her. They would need to make sure I was steady on my feet after the epidural. She didn't tell me that I was going to be spilling liquids like an overflowing rain bucket. That I would leave a trail of blood and urine that started on my legs and ran the length of the floor to the bathroom. Adding to the insult: Two nurses holding a size XXXL maxi pad/diaper -- one in front, one in back -- as I walk.

When I'd first held the baby, I'd caught a whiff of pee and assumed it was from her. She had been swimming of a stew of her own for months. But now, on the toilet, with nurses scrubbing my route, I realized it was me. It was me that smelled like pee.

"I could tell your bladder was full when I felt your uterus," one tells me.

I've never been more glad I'm not a nurse.

The Powerful Baby Girls is 11 days old today, in what continues to be the most surreal science experiment of our lives. She looks exactly like Chuck, it's even in her expressions, so when I look at him I see her little face.

We've both succumbed to a new disease called "Where's the Baby." On our second night home, I was frantically searching for her in the blankets on the bed and Chuck woke me to tell me she was in the cradle. I was dreaming. He had "Where's the Baby" the next night. I had it the night after that.

She peed on me during a doctor's appointment and peed on Chuck, her changing table and her rug just a few minutes ago. I've witnessed projectile poop. It shot out as she screamed. I accidentally pinched her chest in her car seat and dropped Fig Newton into her ear. She spent 80 percent of yesterday crying and today I breast fed her in a high traffic area of a public park.

Chuck's convinced that she is freakishly strong. She's becoming exponentially more alert. Sometimes she makes faces that smack of incredulous teen. She smells good and has hilarious feet.

And every single day I wake up happy.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

One of earth's newest people ...

Here she is: The Powerful Baby Girl. Born at  10:24 p.m. Saturday. 7 pounds, 2 ounces, 21 1/2 inches and she looks so much like Chuck that it is creepy. Case in point: I recognized a certain look she was giving me while nursing and realized it was Chuck's makeout face.

Other views:

First few minutes

Cheerleading in her sleep

Friday, July 19, 2013

It's Friday and I'm Pregnant: Week 40 ...

Just practicing. 
Well, the due date has come and gone and the PBG continues to happily perform a rudimentary version of the "Thriller" dance in my uterus. All day, every day.

"She seems pretty happy in there," the doc says at the appointment.
They've given her a non-stress test and I've clicked a clicker every time she moves. I'm finally dilated, but I'd have to be nine times more dilated to get even the tiniest person through that crack in the boulder.
"She's not coming out until college, is she?" I ask him.
"Maybe third grade," he says.

Actually, he says, she could come tonight. But for everyone's sake, she's getting evicted on Tuesday whether she's ready or not. A plan is in place. Our girl has gone from probably a Cancer to maybe a Leo. I'm told this makes her Most Likely to Want to Appear on a Reality Show, a dominant gene I'm assuming I've already passed along.

Chuck and I were both a wreck on the way to the appointment. Last week I got the sense that if the headaches continued -- which they have, in spades -- they would induce. This would not prove to be true. We didn't know that so we made dumb jokes and then cackled too hard at them. Then we admitted we were making dumb jokes and cackling too hard. My palms turned bright red with white spots. He peed twice. We walked to OBGYN through a gauntlet of infants, each tinier than the last. All O-shaped mouths and splayed toes the size of ice cream sprinkles.

"I have an idea," I whispered to Chuck, repeating the sentence I said last August that started all of this. "Let's stop trying to NOT get pregnant."


I had the onset of a panic attack in the shower on Wednesday. Crying and hyperventilating and wondering why the hell we are doing this. We have a nice life. A house we can afford, regular travel to our favorite city, a CSA membership. We're happy, healthy and we have hobbies. The cloud burst lasted 45 seconds -- as therapeutic as they are, I can't commit to anything longer -- and I remembered that we wanted this. In better and more rational times, when my hormones were more easily lassoed, we had made this decision.

And besides: We already know we like her. That lava lamp thing she does to my belly is comedy gold. Her unwillingness to budge from her current cramped quarters suggest a resistance to change -- which we can both relate to. She can't be blamed for the headaches, she's just too powerful. A superhero, probably. Though I might use the headaches as justification for making her wear a rain slicker in public or buying her elementary school graduation dress from Sears. That's what I learned from my mom.


Chuck and I were sitting on the front porch when a young ginger exhaustedly pushed his 10-speed bike up the sidewalk.

"Gah. I'm so glad we're having a girl," I said, which is always what I say when I see nerdy boys.

The kid was holding a paper cup, then he wasn't holding a paper cup. I saw it on the ground next to an electrical box a few paces behind him.

"Oops. You dropped your cup," I said to the kid.
He turned around, picked it up and continued on his way.
"Thank you," he said. Which makes me think he was a nice kid who had simply gone astray for a second.
"You're welcome," I said.

Then I shook with silent laughter as he made his way to the end of the block.
"I wonder how long until he feels comfortable dropping it again," I said. "Or do you think he's scared straight?"
"I think he's scared straight," Chuck said.
Then the enormity of the situation was revealed:
"I just used my authoritative adult voice," I said. "For the first time."

This seems like good timing.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

What happened at my house today: Wednesday ...

Sung to the tune of "You Say It's Your Birthday": "You Say It's Your Due Date." This causes great amusement in the wee slap happy hours of the day.

The sleeping, thanks for asking, was torturous. But any night not spent pacing the house is better than a night spent pacing the house, so I'll keep my complaints minimal.

I receive a package from Motherhood Maternity. I've become addicted to their nursing tank tops and plan to build a summer wardrobe around this signature piece. Toward that end, I've ordered the complete collection. The package comes with samples of butt paste and includes a gift card for an "Udder Cover" modeled by a sexy woman with bedroom eyes whose bracelet matches the apron-like spread. She seems to be saying: "You can't tell by looking at me, but my breasts are bared beneath this material."

A few nights ago on my way to McDonald's, I heard this song -- "Please Come to Boston" by Dave Loggins -- on Adult Contemporary Radio that I recognized from a deep, deep place in my subconscious, but couldn't quite recall. Still, I found the storyline intriguing. Rambling man moves all around the country, tries to get his artist lady friend to join him, she repeatedly says, basically, "No. You should bring your fool ass back to Tennessee." I'd have to know more about the couple to understand its circumstances, but I don't really get why they can't find some sort of compromise. It certainly feels like there is something broken within me that I secretly side with the guy: Why won't she just join him? She can paint anywhere! And why wouldn't she want to live in Los Angeles? FOOL!

I play the song for Chuck, tossing out some of my theories about this fictitious couple. Then, hearing my own voice in my head, I admit: "I've been spending too much time alone. Thinking." He nods. He reminds me that I can go outside today.

"Happy Friday," I say to Chuck as he walks out the front door. "Happy Due Date! ... Think it'll happen today? While you're at work?" I raise my eyebrows. "No," he says.

A few days ago Tuska sent me a text asking if I'd taken the huge cleansing crap that seems to indicate labor is looming. No, there had been nothing cleansing about my time in the bathroom yet. But now every day I wonder: Will I take the huge, cleansing crap? And will I know I'm taking it when I take it? This is just part of the birth canon I didn't know about.

Chuck sends a text that the heat has broken, so I wander to the porch glider. Two doors down, my favorite neighbors make frowny faces when they see me. They dang-near boo. I'm glad we all feel the same way about me lugging around this lugga-lugga.

I read a graphic novel in its entirety and am completely charmed. But when I go to review it, I find myself ranting about how everything from the 1990s sounds the same. Must be crabby.

I worry that I will do the unprecedented, at least in the sober era: Eat an entire frozen pizza.

We finish watching "Orange is the New Black." Except we don't call it "Orange is the New Black," we refer to it simply as "Jail." Or, when being more enthusiastic about making the switch from the constant stream of "How I Met Your Mother" to the weightier show, "Jail! Jail! Jail! Jail!" Verdict: Totally loved it. Thanks, Netflix, for again justifying the time we quit cable.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What happened at my house today: Tuesday

"Up top," I say to Chuck when he opens his eyes. I think I've picked up a Barney-ism from all the episodes of "How I Met Your Mother." Chuck's still dewy, but he responds with a high-five. He knows the drill. He's been watching, too. Yes, I woke up about seven times in seven hours, but I also slept-slept in relative comfort. A year ago, it would have been a horse shit sleep; Nowadays I'll take it.

Chuck cocks his head and studies me. "What is this outfit?" he asks. I cackle. He's on the porch glider drinking coffee. It's a green romper, a successful wardrobe mission from the summer of 2012. Of course, now it looks stuffed with pumpkin. In its current incarnation, this is an outfit with a leash. I cannot wear it off the porch. But on this "Feels like 92 degrees" day, it's fine for the glider.

"Is today the day?" I ask Chuck, chopping up every fruit in the house to make a breakfast salad. "No," he says. He said that yesterday, too. And the day before.

Ma Pista sends a text asking how I'm feeling. "Still pregnant," I tell her. She has a strange text personality that I don't quite recognize. Her sentences are structured stiltedly and she refers to herself as "Grandma." Sometimes I wonder if I should make her send me a photo of herself holding the current issue of the Rochester Post Bulletin.

I've mistaken seven hours of not-the-worst-sleep-ever for a new lease on life and head to Target to return a duplicate gift. Somewhere between receiving a gift card for the exchange and the greeting card aisle, the entire weight of my belly settles low. Real low. Like, the kind of low that requires gasping "oof" every step. My mission to buy a cover for the changing pad is dismissed. I oof my way back to the car and crank Max AC.

The grocery store is less daunting. I play the Supermarket Sweep home game, grabbing as much food as I can carry in a hand basket as quickly and as with little thought as is possible. FYI: Though Kraft might have set the bar in macaroni and cheese, it's really the Velveeta brand that has become the dominant force. Unfortunately, the shelves in this joint are post-Apocalyptic. I'm not sure what hungry horde invaded, but they've done a number on the stock. Kraft it is.

I read a bit about N.W.A.'s role as villains in the 1980s, then nap with the cats -- who must be repeatedly reminded to "Don't step on the baby."

True confession: I've been to McDonald's twice in as many days. Yesterday I ordered a meal, came home, ate it. Today I just went for a small, 54 cent vanilla ice cream cone. I think that's legit. Calcium, yo. When I pulled into the lot, a boy was standing on a picnic table ramming a teenaged girl's head into his crotch, simulating. The line at the drive thru was long and the guy in the hot rod behind me kept revving his engine. I thought: This is the worst place on earth. When I got back to the house, an undefined bug flew boldly up my right nostril and I'm not sure it ever got out.

We stay up late watching "Orange is the New Black." It's fun to pretend that the main character is played by superblogger Dooce.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Adult Contemporary Series: "Overkill" by Men at Work ...

I have no business writing this. I'm being hugely disrespectful to the Men at Work song that has more meaning to me by even mentioning "Overkill" in what is obviously the sacred space of my Adult Contemporary Series.

So, first I pay homage:

I was probably about 6 when the band released the single "Down Under," which remains the No. 1 source for everything I know about Australia. Such a catchy song, all flutes, Vegemite sandwiches and just the faintest touch of an accent. My brother was equally enthusiastic about the song and it became a sort of anthem around our house. I have to imagine a cassette was purchased and that there were repeated plays well beyond the song's life on "American Top 40."

Meanwhile, my dad is a loyalist. I can only think of one musician he's ever expressed appreciation for: Marty Robbins. Yet, somehow, he let Men at Work needle its way into his brain. That is where his contemporary music knowledge started and ended.

We took advantage of this. Every time we heard "Down Under," we asked him: "Dad, WHO SINGS THIS?!" and he'd earn a victory with his "Men at Work." Then we started doing it with other songs very obviously not by Men at Work, but "Men at Work" remained his favored response.

(Oddly enough, during one of his most recent visits we were at Menards and a song was playing and he looked up from the beadboard he was studying and said "Boy George?" He was right. I sense he was holding out on us all along).

Anyway, it's "Overkill" that has become my new favorite old Men at Work song ever since I saw the episode of "Scrubs" where Colin Hay performs an acoustic version of it. It really changes the song in a way that takes it from something upbeat to roller skate to in the 1980s to something to throw on an emo mix CD with Iron & Wine in the early 2000s. Plus, like all songs reimagined acoustically, it really showcases Hay's unique voice in an intimate way. Now, it's the original version I heard today on Adult Contemporary Radio. But the original just reminds me of how much I like the acoustic do-over.

The Adult Contemporary Series explores the hits of the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s and what they meant to me, inspired by a song heard while listening to Adult Contemporary radio in my Adult Contemporary Car.  

What happened at my house today: Monday ...

I slept until about 1:45 p.m., popped arthritis medication that has been rebranded as migraine medication.

I reminded Chuck of the myriad of ways the world is conspiring against my comfort right now. Then I remembered to ask how he is doing and felt like an asshole that it has taken me this long to learn that he is stressed.

A 20-something walked a dog past our house in the middle of the afternoon and I thought: "Who does that? Who just gets to walk a dog in the middle of a day? That's the luckiest girl in the world, right there."

I considered penning a Netflix Original Series. I have the opening scene scripted in my head right now.

I looked at thousands of photographs from JCrew's wedding and decided that I should be using my free time to find an attractive resting position for my face.

I tried to sit on our porch, but got bit by three mosquitoes within seconds. I blame Chuck's bestie, The Great Archivist, who recently posted on my Facebook wall an article about why mosquitos are attracted to pregnant women.

I found a way to arrange pillows and The Seahorse so that it doesn't make my head hurt to read a book. I used this brief period of comfort to read two chapters of Chuck Klosterman's new collection of essays.

I heated up a burrito for the amount of time suggested on the wrapper, but it was still frozen when I went in for my first bite. I threw it back into the microwave for two minutes.

I observed our neighbor as he performed his bizarre daily ritual involving his beloved car and a parking fetish.

I took a very long, very therapeutic shower. This has become the lone item on my daily to-do list. Showering. It makes me a feel a bit more human.

I watched about 14 episodes of "How I Met Your Mother," which is quickly becoming one of my favorite sitcoms. It is completely changing my opinion on Jason Segel, who I previously found to be a weirdly Eeyore-ian and loathesome actor.

Monday, July 15, 2013

It's Sunday and I'm boring: The 'Law & Order' edition ...

My new reality is that I can only sleep-sleep between 6 a.m. and 1 p.m. The rest of the time I split between wandering the dark house and testing different sleeping surfaces and lying quietly, trying to envision soothing things like the palm-sized head of the baby I'm waiting on or how it feels to be at the apex of a really great run when your stride is perfectly synched to a song by MGMT.

This morning I have a dream that George Zimmerman is keeping track of my contractions on Facebook.

Midway through my rare sleeping hours I wake up starving, groggily make for the kitchen. I eat two organic pop tarts, a bowl of grapes and a glass of orange juice. Please note that the words "Organic Pop Tarts" are hilarious to me. At one point I drop a precious chunk -- I'm eating these with a fork -- but catch it between my knees before it lands it in the cats' water dish. Sticky knees. Meanwhile, I read about the dead "Glee" actor and think of how he is someone's River Phoenix.

I write a book review of a parenting book for Minnesota Reads, then I write an apology to Jodi for reviewing a parenting book for Minnesota Reads. I'm either making the site so punk rock that it can totally host a review of a parenting book, or I've done irreparable damage to its street cred.

Yesterday I was on the highway next to a car with a teenaged boy in a scouting uniform sitting in the passenger seat. They were pulling a trailer with bumper stickers from, I assume, scouting events. The boy looked miserable, which could have been the weariness of a long day of do-gooding and stick whittling or the weariness of spending every weekend doing this. Not even taking the time to slip out of uniform and into a T-shirt after an event. Hearing his khaki-clad dad say over and over and over again: "I'm so proud of you, son," interrupting thoughts about skateboards or girls.

I put away a load of laundry. I change the water filter on the kitchen sink. I futz with baby things like carriers and onesies and tiny chairs. I watch our neighbor mow his lawn and wonder if that's really our neighbor or if that is someone related to the neighbor helping out our neighbor in a pinch. I brush my teeth and floss. I drink ice water and think about how Sundays hold no special power when you've no place to be on Monday. Correction: On Monday I'll go to Target.

My new hobby is to completely zone out and watch vintage episodes of "Law & Order: Criminal Intent." It's like a satisfactory level of yoga. This show is almost good. Almost. Each episode lasts just about 15 minutes too long and each plot is just about interesting. There are some curious design decisions in the show: The lack of romantic chemistry between the lead characters. Neither is unrealistically attractive, they could be your relatives. Eight episodes in and I don't know either of their names, though. The male lead, a savant, is always right and his boss, not a savant, is always wrong. The woman really brings nothing to the table aside from a wall to toss hypothesis at.

The "It's (Insert Day of Week) and I'm Boring" is a series that Jodi and I do to pay homage to the beauty of old-school blogging. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

It's Friday and I'm Pregnant: Week 39 ...

You would not believe how great it feels to have an acupuncturist hold a tuning fork against the soles of your feet. It's one of those things that makes you think: Huh. How did this idea happen and how much magic bark had been consumed beforehand at that solstice bonfire? 

Doesn't matter. The fact remains, it feels amazing.

Between the well-place needles and the hum of vibration, something in me unwound and I found myself 100 percent headache free for the first time in more than a week. Not only headache free, but also lazily happy and carefree. A portrait of barefoot, pregnant summer living. "Why does this work?" I asked this woman who was surrounded by a perfect cloud of calm. She was a week less pregnant than me and making my membership in a CSA a laughable level of fake earth friendliness. She explained something about channels, but none of it stuck in my head because I was just too calm and pain-free to retain information.

"Where are you giving birth?" she asked me, her own belly one of those high and adorable orbs built from person plus placenta and none of the pizza-ice cream-I'm stuffing my face in the Arby's parking and yes that's Horsey Sauce on my nose bellies someone like me might try to fit behind a steering wheel every day.

"Essentia," I told her. "And you?"
But I knew the answer.
"Right here," she said, indicating a room with an acupuncture bed, a wall of herbs and, I guess, a tuning fork or two.

Anyway, this feeling only lasted two hours -- same as two Tylenol -- but it was a level of comfort that felt worth it. Not to mention I've been able to stave off serious headache attacks three times. In fact, I've only cried once. It was one of my favorite things that has happened to me, headache-wise, in ages.


I now have the ability to look at the portraits of OBs and nurse practitioners who work at the hospital where I will be delivering and to rank each one's dexterity with checking a cervix. They all fall on the spectrum between Ninja and Stranger Rooting Around in Your Pocket for Your Car Keys Because You're Too Drunk to Drive. Is it weird to have a favorite? That, if I had a choice, I would say: Hm. You know what? Her hands are just ... less invasive. No offense. 


As you know, hyperboles are just about my favorite form of communication. But I truly mean this: Week 39 has been the worst-most comfortable week of my life. The sleeping is horse shit, the headache is horse shit and the feeble feeling of watching Chuck use the household's daily allotment of nesting hormones is horse. shit. I can't even laze about eating grapes and reading Chuck Klosterman or watching the Netflix Original Series D'Jour because I'm only pain-free in about hour-long increments.

I keep thinking: This is the week you take to the local junior high, fill an auditorium with impressionable young girls, and say "DO I LOOK HAPPY THAT I'M FINALLY GOING TO HAVE SOMEONE ALL OF MY OWN TO LOVE ME AND DEPEND ON ME, OR DO I LOOK LIKE SOMEONE WHO WOULD STAB YOU FOR AN OSCAR MEYER CHEDDAR HOTDOG WITH MUSTARD?!"

Then I remember that if I was 14, this would all be easy peasy. My tiny little bod would be ripe for this business of procreating, rather than this old bod that checked the expiration date on the cartoon of eggs, winced, gave them a good whiff, shrugged and forged tentatively ahead, whipping the results into a light yellow froth with soon-to-be arthritic wrists.


In other news, I've temporarily eliminated my daily obligation. I planned to continue going to my daily obligation until the baby fell out. Then I planned to stop going on Friday. Then I was hospitalized for two days and never went back. So. There is no longer that for the next three months.


Do you know how weird it is to respond to the "When is your due date?" question with not an abstract number in the future, but an actual day that is identifiable as occurring this week?

Q: When is your due date?
A: Wednesday.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

And then I went home ...

Somewhere around 11:30 p.m. on Monday night, the hospital staff decided to keep me around for another night. No matter how many "... but I'm a night person" explainers I spat, they just couldn't let me leave. Especially not with the way I was rubbing the side of my head and mumbling. "No way," said a nurse practitioner I was told was schooled in the ways of midwifery.

This, by the way, has become my favorite word. It's not mid-WIVE-ery. It's midwifery. Like wiffle ball I suppose, or like a pretend word the British would use. "Have you met Liam? He's been practicing midwifery. Please pass the bangers."

She had with her a sidekick resident and they had a great rapport. I asked them if they ever felt like they were on the show "House." I really got the sense that they were going to question me and then go back to a room, put their feet up and toss a tennis ball at the wall while they considered my symptoms.

"I'm really stuck on this 'One side of the head' thing," one would say. "Do you think she rammed her head into the cereal cupboard so hard that she forgot she did it?"
"I'm stuck, too," the other would respond. "Are you sure 'midwifery' is a real word?"

Sometime after Chuck left I found the resident sitting on the side of my bed explaining something to me I could never understand that soon removed from REM. I was fed some more drugs, different drugs, and quickly fell into a state that resembled neither sleep nor wakefulness. I call it "That episode of lost when they stole Claire's baby" although I'm not even sure that's an accurate description. A few times I woke up moaning and saying "No no no no no" and walking dizzily to the bathroom. I was conscious enough to know that a lot of people were coming in to look at me and then leaving. Like a People Zoo. Around sun up it occurred to me to seek more pain relief, which I did.

The next time I woke I had breakfast waiting for me. I salivated thinking of the sensational meal from the previous day. I pulled the lid off what should have been fluffy scrambled eggs and found a hard boiled egg. The honeymoon was over.

I was sent home with lots of prescriptions, a crypt that is going to require the tender but forceful touch of Indiana Jones and a headache they believe is related to tension -- but insist that doesn't make me a looney hypochondriac faker.

Now I spend my time making sure I don't exceed 4000 mgs of Acetaminophen in a day, which is Math.

Fun fact: I filled two gas tanks with urine, plus a little went into a third. I'm told the lab person on the receiving end said: This is all from one person?!

Mission. Accomplished.

Monday, July 8, 2013

It was the weekend and I was boring (and it made my head hurt) ...

The Migraines returned sometime Wednesday, then really dug in with spurs on Friday. I spent the wee hours of Saturday morning pacing the house looking for a surface suitable for sleeping so as not to further disturb my sleeping partner. The bedroom was the temperature of recently used sweat socks. The Atomic Lounge slightly warmer. You could make popsicles in the main level. The basement is unusable since the great sewage debacle of 2013.

I opted for first pacing, then pacing and moaning, then settling into the main level where I slept for two hours, occasionally waking to find Hal's nose inches from mine. Around the time the sun started shining in the east-facing window, the cats decided to throw a rave and I was forced, tearfully, to warmer climes with secure, cat deterring doors and a scratchy mattress I now realize was not suitable for our recent house guest.

Eventually, when I knew I could behave myself, not squirm and moan and constantly, invasively reshuffle, I went back to the bedroom and caught some real, quality Zs.

I stayed in bed most of Saturday, saving my Tylenol consumption for an hour before I was scheduled for a relaxation massage. That way I'd be able to get there, get it done, and come home without losing my mind. Because that is as a fear: Losing my mind. Headaches hurt, friends. And they get in the way of, like, everything. Reading, writing Thank You notes, going to see your favorite band perform. At least twice I thought: What if I just let myself go. Just went a little crazy. Not too crazy. Just a little catatonic and pajama pants crazy. Would that be so wrong?

The massage, meanwhile, was a comedy sketch about massages. 1. I double checked to make sure they knew I was pregnant and that I was getting a massager with a preggo touch, but when I got there, they hadn't prepared by putting down a preg-belly friendly cushion. "I didn't realize you were going to be pregnant," said the girl, whose most noteworthy characteristic was a lack of confidence. "Have you ever given a massage to a pregnant woman?" I asked. "Yes," she said. "But in school we had special tables with cutouts for the belly."

In. School.

She left and returned to the room with the proper preg cushions, but showed a lack of familiarity with using it. I tried it like this, I tried it like that. I stuffed my boobs into weird divots, then restuffed them into different divots. All while teetering on my belly, which was way too large for the cutouts. Just once it occurred to me that the rookie as being exposed to some terrifying preggo nipples. More like sandwich meat than anything that ever enjoyed even the most modest of feminine successes. "Ah, well," I thought. "She's a professional." Except in my mind I put quotation marks around the word "professional."

"You know what?" I said. "Let's just turn that 45 minute massage into a 20 minute chair massage and call it a day."

2. She seemed to think that I was going to go get a chair massage in the salon's lobby like some sort of animal. If I wanted a very public massage, I'd go to the mall like the rest of the human beings who crave human touch badly enough to have their shoulder blades kneaded in the corridor outside of Victoria Secret. My face must have telegraphed my thoughts because she quickly regrouped and told me she would bring the chair back to the massage-specific room.

Fun fact: The average chair massage chair does not accommodate a pregnant belly. But I readjusted this and that and it was game almost-comfortably on.

Still, this was no fix. I went into the experience expecting the well-oiled soothing touch of a professional who would wipe away my head pain. It worked, well, worked-ish, during my first trimester. What I got on Saturday was the dry-handed pinches of an uncertain newbie. She did something funky to my head that was a step in the right direction, but mostly I felt like I was part of a circle of virgin cheerleaders -- not those sassafrass, award-winning cheerleaders, but the default kind whose skirts look too long and Keds a size too big -- engaging half-assedly, not to be mistaken for homoerotically, in pre-game prep. I spent the entire walk to the checkout trying to reassure her and memorizing the layout of the salon because I believe this was our swan song. I'm breaking up with this place for good. It's not me; It's you. I gave you eight good years and now you've given me a ridiculous massage and no one will color my hair the color I want it.

Back at home, still with a headache, I decided my only option was to wrap Havarti Cheese in Lefse over and over and over again and to watch "Law & Order: SVU," which I didn't realize was the rapiest of rape shows until Chuck called uncle on the series and asked me to please find another brand of "Law & Order" to pair with my lefse.

In the wee hours of Sunday morning, Chuck jumped ship early for the Atomic Lounge knowing that my moans were going to keep him awake. I did some more pacing. I sat on the porch glider at 4 a.m. and once again considered going a little crazy, growing emaciated, carving poetry into my arm.

Later on Sunday I watched more "Law & Order: SVU" and ate more lefse and cried twice in pain before calling the Nurse Helpline, where they advised me to come in to the birthing unit.

They extracted blood and pee; they took my blood pressure and asked tens of questions. They found protein in my urine and decided I should stay overnight in case I have preeclampsia.  Every three hours I pushed a call button and said "HELP MY HEAD HURTS SO BAD!" and they brought me drugs, which I washed down with glasses of water chilled with the tiny ice chips that are my current favorite food. They monitored the baby's heart beat and my contractions and checked the crypt, which remains crypt-like. I slept a grand total of about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, they've been collecting my urine in something the size of a gas can. My goal is to fill four of them, which HAS to be a record. Sometime after late night TV tonight they'll decide whether they should rip the baby from my body, or send me home.

A real screamer was born in the middle of the night. This baby just wailed and wailed and wailed and I thought about how cruel it is to take this poor defenseless human being, currently happily treading luke warm amniotic fluid, and squeeze it into the big chilly and cruel world. I had no idea babies could be that loud, that angry. At least not until they were denied car keys after the high school football game. ("BUT EVERYONE IS GOING TO SA-A-MMY'S FOR PEEE-EEE-EET-SA.")

Now my headache has dulled, my breakfast was kickass and MTV is showing a "Laguna Beach" marathon. My prediction is that I'll be released from here at about 11:30 p.m. with a prescription that barely works and sometime around July 24 I'll co-star in a C-section.

The "It's (Insert Day of Week) and I'm Boring" is a series that Jodi and I do to pay homage to the beauty of old-school blogging. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

It's Friday and I'm Pregnant: Week 38 ...

Hey, everyone. Sit back. Relax. Looks like we're going to be here for a while. Don't let the 38 Week Mile Marker fool you. This baby seems intent on hanging on until she's evicted. It's an impulse I understand. Back in my more festive days, I liked nothing more than to suck the marrow from a party. Arrive home around the time tots were lining up on corners for the school bus. Find a newspaper waiting on the front steps.

Who am I kidding. She's doing her part. She's in position and ready to rumble. Pelvis helmet secure. As for me: Nothing inside my body indicates that it is any more ready to release this girl into the world than it was last week. It is only a fingertip-width more ready to release this girl into the world than it was five years ago when there was no little girl and my entire reproductive system was just a bit of abstract art that made me appreciate Lillith Fair.

"What do you expect?" the doctor said after one of those uncomfortable white coat vs. preggo moments. "It's been sealed shut for 37 years."
"Like an ancient crypt," I nodded.

I understand our birth stories become these sort of prophesies. A line is always, always drawn between some part of how we came into the world and what we are like in the present tense. Me, I was face down. This means:

"You always did like to do things your own way," Ma Pista might say, for instance.

And so, as I sit here, 38 weeks pregnant -- but maybe even four weeks from giving birth -- it's starting to look we'll say this to her: "You've always been ready to do things before we are ready to let you."

This whole appointment had me in the dumps. I thought we would get to see our moon baby in the next two weeks. But her space shuttle might have flight delays. Not to mention that I was feeling so close to a good old fashioned stomach-sleep that I could almost taste it.

Meanwhile, my headaches have returned. It's like the greatest hits montage at the end of the movie. Revisiting the phases of the pregnancy. This time it might be worse:

1. Tylenol takes an hour to work;
2. It only lasts two hours;
3. I can only take it every six hours.

I'd discovered during months 1-12 that I could lie on my back with a washcloth on my forehead to ease the pain. This doesn't work anymore because when I lie on my back, I'm conscious that every organ located in my torso is getting bulldozed by a mini person and her weighty bubble of protective fluid. Also, this makes her encasement shrink and she revolts by trying to kickbox her way through my skin, sometimes getting a foot wedged into my rib cage.

I told my doctor about my headaches.

"Did you take anything?" he asked.
"Tylenol," I said.
"Try eating dinner outside," he suggested.
"You think I'm just stressed?"
He shrugged.
"I just know it's relaxing to eat dinner outside," he said.

The only thing I've found that works: Doing laps around my block. I'm not sure why, but walking makes me feel better.

I will say this for being 38 Weeks Pregnant: The aesthetic is amazing. My stomach has dropped so there is huge, fake-looking orb at waste level. It's hilarious. In fact, someone this week said it looked like a watermelon. That's good comedy.

Monday, July 1, 2013

It's Sunday and I'm Boring: The Fresh Prince Edition ...

I sleep until nearly noon. No, really. It's like my bladder saw me sleeping, thought, "she looks so peaceful. I just can't bear to wake her," and entertained itself for an extra four hours. I'm greeted by a photo sent to me by Ma Pista in the early morning hours. She wonders if I think the PGB will look anything like this:

Chuck says I still make this face whenever I make a pun. 

Chuck outdoes himself, taking his famous scrambled eggs into hyper drive by adding cheese and basil. It just keeps getting better.


I buy a pair of $9 shoes from Ragstock that would normally be a half-size too big and commit to wearing them, regardless of whether they -- LOL -- look good with what I'm wearing, until my body parts deflate. "This is how it starts," I think, "Function over form." I wonder how long until I get a perm.


Then I have shoes on the brain so I'm distracted by a display at the mall. All sorts of flats that don't require the wearer the burden of bending.

"Whatch you got going on today?" the sales girl asks me.
"Excuse me?" I say.
"Whatch you got going on today?" she repeats.
I give her a weird look. What are we? Roommates that haven't advanced yet beyond acquaintance both studying the same cereal box at the breakfast table?
"Just. Looking around?" I say.
"Oh, cool," she says.
And I have to leave. This exchange is brutal and we should all be embarrassed. It's definitely not worth the price of investigating Top Siders. Here is a situation where a "Can I help you with anything" would have made the experience unremarkable and therefore satisfying.


"Parents Just Don't Understand" plays on the Adult Contemporary Station during the weekly retro playback of Rick Dees' "Weekly Top 40 80s Edition." I struggle with the verse about clothes shopping, but the one where Fresh Prince steals his mom's Porche, picks up a beautiful girly girl and treats her to a Big Mac and Large Fry at the drive thru is still in an accessible part my head.

I'm a little concerned about the amount of child abuse the Fresh Prince endures after committing this crime.

I think, even though it's been more than two decades, that I am still favor his actions over that of his parents.

Meanwhile, when this episode of the countdown first aired in the 1980s, George Michael was celebrating his 25th birthday, which is amazing to consider, and Michael Hutchence was going to live in Asia for awhile because he preferred it to the United States. The band, however, planned to stay together.


I buy a caramel with sea salt and toffee cookie at Barnes & Noble and then drop part of it onto the floor of my car and it's super good so I open the car door, root around on the floor, find the chunk and eat it.


The day ends too early for the likes of me. My to-do list still has that new car smell.


The "It's (Insert Day of Week) and I'm Boring" is a series that Jodi and I do to pay homage to the beauty of old-school blogging.