Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Not Gonna Win Mother of the Year...

I walked head first into a closed door. Unfortunately it was with Liam's head. Yes you read correctly I ran my baby's head into a door. The lights were out and that particular door is NEVER closed. Well, apparently almost never... I cried harder and longer than he did... Man, I suck.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

A Great Life, The Perfect Death

You may not think there is such a thing as a perfect death, but I believe there is. I will always be so grateful for this past Saturday.
My paternal grandfather, whom I am VERY close to, went from not looking so great when I visited last just before delivering, to dying, all in about a month and a half. He went from ambulatory to bedridden in a week. We were told his days were numbered, due to a non-operable mass on his lung, and I made it my mission to get Liam to his great-grandfather, as fast as possible. They thought Grandpa had 6 months to a year, but I was not taking any chances. In the meantime, I took a picture of Liam on a sign that said "I love you Great-Grandpa, I can't wait to meet you!" Had it blown up bigger so he could see it. My parents took it to him and he wouldn't put it down. He fell asleep holding Liam's picture. So, at Liam's last visit to the doctor on the 8th, I got permission to travel with Little Man. Friday, Liam met Grandpa B for the first time, but he was so out of it on Morphine, that it wasn't the best visit. Grandpa perked up at the sound of my voice, knew who I was, and looked at Liam, but it was not the introduction I had imagined for so many years. Grandpa B is the last blood grandparent for either Chris or I. It broke my heart that my Grandma M died before meeting my child, but at least she met other great-grandchildren. Liam is the only great-grand child on the "B" side. So Saturday we returned. Almost everyone was there, surrounding Grandpa with love and attention. All of my cousins but one, my brother, who almost NEVER can bear to be around people he loves when they are hurting, and all of Grandpa's sons except one. And he came Sunday. So in Liam and I walk and Grandpas eyes lock on Liam. Then he looks and me really long and back at Liam. He knew. He knew Liam was mine, and I was his. Later he reached out and grabbed a foot. He shook his head when I asked if he wanted to hold him. The oxygen mask made Grandpa's throat too dry to talk. Liam was so good. He never cried. Later, I set Liam down next to Grandpa and Grandpa reached out and rested his hand on Liam's head. Later still, Grandpa put his hands out, reaching towards Liam, wanting to hold him. And he held him, awake and content for quite some time, while Liam slept peacefully. We stayed for hours. When it was time to go, I kissed my grandpa and told him we would be back as soon as possible and that I loved him. Grandpa died just one day later. He met his great-grand son. He knew who we all were. He was surrounded by people who loved him. He was in the comfort of his own home. He was not hooked up to machines. He did not linger. He joined my Grandma B, who he missed and adored. I will always be thankful, for this visit. My tears are selfish, they are all for me because I miss him. But it was the perfect death, after a beautiful life.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Liam's Birth Story, AKA Misery, Agony and Ecstasy

All friends, buckle up, because you are in for a wild ride. I just couldn't stand to do anything easily, so I thought, if labor/delivery is going to suck, let's make it suck at epic proportions. This story has all the makings of a Lifetime movie. We've got laughter, tears, near death experiences and thrills galore! So here goes. Grab some coffee, and maybe a quick potty break, because this is going to be a long one...

August 21st Started out normally enough. Chris' sister "Cee" was helping us move and so was Big Mike. Big Mike is Chris' partner. No, not like alternate life style, type partner, but like "I've got your back in a big way while we patrol California's highways" kind of partner. I call him Big Mike because he is 6'4 and built like a mack truck, but wow does he have a heart of gold. He and Chris are hilarious together; if Mike were a girl I would be jealous. They talk on the phone aaaaaallll the time, even though they were split up and sent to different offices months ago they still call each other their partner. They will be reunited at the Oakland office in January so they will be official partners again, soon. We BBQ on their days off and now we live 1.5 miles away from each other. Thank God his girlfriend Nikki and I get along! Knowing Mike is like being embedded in the Mafia; our realtor is his aunt and he also hooked us up with his loan agent. Mike has a side job of gardening called "Dirty Mics" that Chris has joined, too. I don't know if I spelled Mics right but it is the one that describes Irish men, in a way that only other Irish men can use or you get your a$$ kicked...While I am writing this, Liam is in his swing. He is soooooo good. I paid up front big time, and had the world's worst pregnancy/labor/delivery, but boy did I strike it rich in the good baby department. He almost NEVER cries. Only when we suction boogers out of his nose, he must think we are suctioning out his brain, or he is wet. He can sit in poop for hours (not literally) but one drop of pee and he has a near coronary! So back to the delivery from hell...

So on moving day I was having Braxton-Hicks all day. I was off bedrest but I just stayed in bed while furniture was removed around me, all day. My bed was the last thing to go into the moving truck. So we get on our way; Chris in the moving truck, Big Mike in his Exploder and Cee and I in my truck. It is about an hour drive to the new house. So Cee and I are chatting away and we are just coming up on Tracy, which is about 3/4 of the way there and I feel this weird pop and the top of my diaphram. I said, "That was weird...So anyway..." and I went back to whatever it was we were chatting about. A few miles later, I felt a trickle come out of me. "I think I peed my pants again." I said, "Again?" Cee says, "I am just kidding, but seriously, let's pull over at the Carl's Jr, up there, just in case. Don't freak out, I doubt it is anything. Um, but how about you call Chris....Now." Who of course didn't answer the next 25 increasingly frantic calls. So we go into Carl's restroom, I check, and say, "Um, Cee, can you go get some pads for me out of my bag, my water did break...in the Carls Jr restroom.....(sigh)." I totally freaked out the employee who was in there cleaning. She told the other employees and they all started running around the restaurant like chickens with their heads cut off---as if I was going to deliver right there in the bathroom! So Cee and I push past the spazzing employees and meet up with Chris and Big Mike in the parking lot. Just like at my wedding, I was the calmest, coolest headed person around. I think it is my 911 training, I just got in the zone. So I call my doc and the one on call tells me....Hang on Liam is attempting to chew through his shoulder strap of his swing, I will be right back.....

Ok, so the doc says go to the nearest hospital, get cleared and come on in to the hospital I planned on giving birth in. You know the one that is 15 min from my OLD house, and in the traffic currently going, about 3 hours away! So we rearrange drivers/vehicles and we pull into the ER in a 25 foot moving truck. It is about 7pm. So I am being wheeled into the L/D section by Chris with Big Mike and a nurse following. Remember all those times in the crowded obstetrician waiting room that Chris said, "So, who is the father of this kid anyway?" or went up to the receptionist and asked, "Is this where I get my prostate examined?" Well it was payback time... So I say to the guys, "Which one of you wants to be on the birth certificate?" You should have seen the nurse's face! So I get checked in, and I am barely dilated, and my contractions are no big deal so the on call doc says if I was his patient he would tell me to go home until they are worse and faster. He said I was looking at 18 hours of labor, it being my first time and all. Thanks doc for that. So I decided, since my doc H is one of 5 doctors in his practice, I am not driving all the way to Redwood City to have my baby delivered by a stranger, if Doc H wasn't even the doc on call. Might as well stay put. I called and thank God, he would be the doc. So we had plenty of time to get to the right hospital. We checked out and decided to drop off our moving truck at our new home and then leave. It was 9:45pm. Our new home, which by the way we had still only seen once for 10 min on a day we saw 8 other houses. I couldn't even remember half of the details. So we toured our new house and I loved it even better than I remembered it, but.... I was so mad, the guy who lived there before left it a mess! Crackers on the floor, Q-tips all over the place, hair--THAT kind of hair---in the drain, broken ceiling fans, wax dripped down the fireplace, all the phone jacks ripped out and all kinds of other bizarre things. I was crushed because I was certainly not in the mood to be scrubbing the floors. What was up with the former owner? Why break and trash certain things and then leave us the expensive window dressings? So weird. So while we are there, my contractions started in earnest. Time to go, it was about 10:30pm. So me, Cee and Chris head for RWC (RedWoodCity). We had never driven from our new house to RWC. We thought we could figure out the way there. Right. Sigh. So mind you for the rest of this story, until birth, my contractions are coming harder and faster. We got lost. We were looking for something called the Dumbarton Bridge and ended up on the Bay Bridge...In San Francisco...Which has a toll....And we had no money... Needless to say, while Cee and Chris scrounged for pennies in the seat crevices, my head came off and spun around while I roared, "Just F$%&ing tell the guy I am in labor!!!!!!!" And on we went. Much, much later we arrived at the proper hospital. I tried saying the Our Father or Hail Mary through my contractions but after about an hour, I couldn't remember the words anymore. So we get there and get checked in and I am dilated about 3 cm. You have to be 10 before you can push. So my nurse, an awesome lady named, Kay, got me all hooked up to the monitors and checked on me every 30 min or so. It was starting to really, really hurt and I didn't know how on earth I could stand to wait until 10 cm to get an epidural. About 5 cm and about an hour later, Kay says she will call the anesthesiologist. I was so relieved! I didn't know I could have drugs so early! He showed up at about 2am, which was only 30 minutes later. Before arriving at the hospital, the epidural was the part of L/D I was most afraid of, well that and catheters. I laugh now at my naivete. The epidural was NOTHING. (The catheters, however were EXACTLY as horrific as I had built them up in my mind to be.) The contractions were across my belly and from mid back to tail bone and wow, they were sooooo painful. I cannot describe them. So the drug guy shows up and I told him I would rename my kid after him if this worked. So a tiny pin prick later, the contractions ease up from an 8 on the 1 to 10 scale to a low 2. Whew. Then more time goes by and the epidural stopped working. Well, my legs were numb, so you know, if I was there for foot surgery, I'd be good to go but....No. So the drug guy comes back and tries again. OK, I do not have a hairy back, but when he tore off the tape holding the port in my back off, I screamed like a little girl. That was some industrial strength tape,let me tell you! Second epidural and it helped, but let me make it very, very clear, it did not work. I could feel EVERYTHING in my crotch-al region. Also I could still feel the contractions but less so. Maybe it is for the best, Liam David Shapiro (the drug docs name), doesn't have the same ring to it that my real last name does. Finally at about 5 am I made it to 10cm and was allowed to push. Remember how I said, I am extremely modest and Chris would not be "down there" seeing the "show"? Well we both still felt that way, but it just wasn't to be. Chris still walks around the house muttering, "There were supposed to be blankets covering you, where were the blankets?" or "Some things, just cannot be unseen." Oh, well. So I have my knees bend up to my chest and one foot on Chris' hip and the other on Kay's hip. And I can push. "Push like you are going poop." Says Kay. Well apparently I aim to please because I pooped all over the table. A lot. The whole time. That was one for the memory book. So I am pushing and pushing and Kay keeps saying I am almost there. After about an hour of her saying that, I begin aiming the pooh in her direction, because, for gosh's sake how long can a person be "almost there" before arriving?????? Chris did so good. I only yelled at him once. He kept saying, "You can do it, you can do this." To which I finally responded, "No sh%$ I can do this, I AM doing this, pick something else to say, damn it." To which he promptly and wisely did pick something else to say. He then said, "I am so proud of you." Which worked much better for me, and I decided to let him live. About 6:30ish, Kay said we could finally call Doc H to come deliver the baby. Maybe that was what she meant when she said "Almost there" like almost there to being able to call the doc...Maybe she should have shared that with me. So Doc H comes in. I've run the marathon and here he is to run the victory lap. I almost spit on him when he came in all cheerful and well rested. So I push and I push and I push and it hurts soooo bad. Liam had been crowning, but stuck, since like, 5am. Where as Kay was gently stretching the "opening" all night long, Doc H reached in and pulled and yanked it around like he was ready-ing pizza dough. I began to cry, because this hurt even more than pushing. And again, I could feel everything down there. So Liam just isn't budging, and I am now on oxygen, because he isn't getting enough. Doc H says, OK, lets get the vacuum and I said, yes, let's. "With the vacuum, he will be out within 4 contractions.", and I say, "Yes, bring out the Hoover. No, get the Dyson, let's get him out in 2." So out comes the vacuum, which judging from the feel of it was industrial sized, (I never looked, down "there", an offer of a mirror was met with expletives that I didn't even know I knew.) And exactly 4 contractions later, Liam comes flying out, and I shattered, vertically up through the birth canal like broken glass. I cried with relief, thinking the worst was over and reached down to my belly and touched my slimy, perfect, screaming son. "Want to cut the cord, Daddy?" "No!" we both replied! "Look at the placenta you guys!" "No!" we both yelped. Why do people want to see/do things like that? So all of the sudden Liam gets taken away, like 50 nurses show up and I hear Chris say, "Do something, now!" In a voice he reserves for situations where he is about to open a can of whoop ass on some one. I am suddenly overwhelmed in pain, and I glance down at the doc who is wearing glasses and in the reflection, all I can see is blood. From here until, Humpty Dumpty (me) was put back together, I am re-telling this mostly from Chris' recollections because I was OUT of it. I popped an artery. Blood was shooting out of me to the cadence of my heart. Doc was singing a song about my placenta, literally and Chris was about ready to shoot my him, literally. Chris felt the doc was not acting fast enough. I remember seeing Liam under the heat lamp, crying and alone and all the 50 nurses were tending to me. "I want to be thinking of Liam right now but I just can't!" I sobbed. A nurse wisely told me I would have the next 18 years to think of him, right now I had to think of me. Doc H says, let's get her some Morphine, and I say, "Yes, drugs. Lots of drugs. NOW." and I hear Chris say, from a great distance it seemed, "Do NOT give her morphine! That is a bad idea." So into the hand IV goes the Morphine and Chris says, my eyes sunk into my head, rolled back and I just puked! Chris told the doc, "I told you that was a bad idea, she can't handle narcotics." So I went back to crying and sobbing, and Chris was so sweet smoothing my hair back and whispering how good I was doing, how amazing I was and how proud he was of me. Chris told me later that through this whole ordeal, someone head brought Liam over for him to hold, and the whole time, Liam's eyes were open, and he never once broke eye contact with Chris. So, even though I could feel every stitch, the doctor proceeded to sew me up. It took the better part of an hour. Normal tears are about 4 stitches. I lost count at about 40. I lost a liter of blood beyond the normal amount lost during L/D. I was as white as the bed sheets. I know people say that, "white as a sheet." but I really was, and it looked weird. So after I was all put back together and on lots of Ibuprofin, they brought Liam to me, and all the pain and trauma, melted into the background. For me. Chris told everyone he almost lost me. I don't know if that is true or his honest perception of the events, but he sure thinks so.

Liam looked perfect. Well, he had a really bad cone head from the vacuum and for a while Chris and I thought we would be buying a lifetime supply of hats, but that got better. Both me and Liam's faces were so swollen! We had matching triple chins. So then the visitors came in. Chris' 2 brothers and parents and Cee all came and met the little man. There was a lot of crying and happiness. Then my parents came. More tears and happiness. I was only in massive pain when I got up to go to the bathroom. Nothing like pee on an open wound to bring fresh tears to your eyes. Chris gave Liam his first bath and never left his side, except for food, and bathroom breaks, the whole first 3 days. He spent the nights and walked Liam around the room the few times he fussed through the nights. I got released on Wednesday, but Liam had to stay until Thursday. He had jaundice and had to bake under the UV lamps for about 15 hours. The nurses were awesome, they "hoteled" me in an empty room down the hall from L/D, so I could feed Liam throughout the night. They didn't tell my insurance company either which would have been so expensive, so that was really cool of them. I decided from the beginning that I would breast feed no matter how much I didn't like it or it hurt, if I was able. It hurt so bad the first week or so. My nipples cracked and bled. A lot. But Liam was a pro. He latched on the first time he tried. We have gotten much better at it and now I enjoy the time. Well except in the very first few minutes. After I peel myself off the ceiling, I enjoy it. The "What to Expect the First Year" which I LOVE, says babies have different eating styles, such as the "Nap/Sipper" who naps and sips or the "Shy Nurser" who is gentle. I was blessed with a Gourmet/Barracuda. He latches on with a ferocity that suggests I may suddenly decide to starve him to death and then he pulls away and savors the milk as if it is fine wine. I accidentally stabbed him in the eye once, with my nipple. That traumatized him for life I am sure...Funny stuff. Did I mention he was stung by a wasp, at just a week old? Isn't that just evil? Chris was holding him outside in the sunlight, to help the jaundice, (which is gone now), and he got stung! On the face! Isn't that so wrong. He screamed for all of like, 10 minutes, which for him was a lot. I mean, whose newborn gets stung by a wasp for gosh's sake, honestly????? Mine. Of course.
We had him circumcised. What kind of idiot says that was painless? It looked horrible and he cried for so long. That time it was like a whole 20 minutes. Chris went with him for the procedure. Chris says we should never expect him to be alone for things like that. Chris came out all proud because our pediatrician, (who by the way, looks like he is not a day over 12, but whom I adore), said he had to change tools he was using because our son was, "so big." Don't think that didn't come out during his and Big Mike's first post baby beer-fest. Sigh. So speaking of Big Mike.....

I was dreading coming home to a dirty, refridgerator-less and dark home. Dark because we hadn't bought lamps yet and we hadn't yet picked out a black-to match our other appliances-refriderator yet, you know thinking we had 3 weeks to prepare, and all... So we walk in the house and into the kitchen, the spotless kitchen. And there is a brand new black fridge! And in every room there were new ceiling fans--with lights! And every room was spotless! And our furniture was all there, in perfect places! And Liam's crib was all set up too! Mike had bought and installed all new fans that had lights. And he used "lightbulbs that will be soothing to the baby's eyes." He had bought us a fridge and hired Molly Maid to clean the whole house! He won't take a dime from us either, no matter how hard we try to get him to take our money. He says it is no big deal, that it is just a tax write of for his rental company. (He owns a house he rents out.) Yeah, no big deal.... People actually cry when I tell them what he did. Did I tell you this could be a Lifetime movie or what??? Liam sat in his swing contentedly rocking this whole time, (minus the one time he got hungry and tried to eat his way out, in search of a Big Mac. I am so blessed. Oh, and I gained almost 40 pounds, and now, 3 weeks later I only have 15 pounds left until I am at my pre-pregnancy weight. Which means I have 30 pounds to go before I am at the weight I want to be at. Not too bad.
I can never have another baby by vaginal delivery. Chris won't let me, and it is quite obvious, my body just wasn't made for it. Would I do it all over again? In a heartbeat. In 3 weeks at my 6 week check up I am going to ask if, knowing what we know now, can I be guaranteed a C-Section next time? If the answer is yes, I will do this one more time. I will joyfully throw up 35 times a day. If I may not be able to get a C-Section, we will happily adopt a little girl some day.
Well, now we are all caught up. How many potty breaks did you need? Is anyone even still reading this? Hello? (Crickets chirping...) I'll write back soon. Shorter.