June 27, 2012

Beginnings and Endings

Squishy baby face
As you might recall, ten days ago I was totally exhausted, and totally tired of being pregnant.

Ten days ago, I was doing everything I could think of to get RH out of my uterus and into my arms.

You might recall, things were not exactly going according to plan.  My doctor had started to hint that he thought I was going to be unable to have a VBAC.  That my uterus was... weird.

That was ten days ago.

And ten days ago, I had had enough.

M and I watched a youtube video on accupressure to induce labor.  And we tried it.  We were both dubious, but we figured that moxibustion had worked so well... who knows?

The results were absolutely immediate.  He started squeezing my ankles at around 9pm.  By the time I went to bed, the contractions were 10 minutes apart, lasting for about a minute.  RH was moving CONSTANTLY.  I had gas that would embarrass an eight year old boy.  *Things* were *happening*.  Finally.

I woke up at 5am, still having contractions.  They were more painful.  They were ever so slightly closer together.  They were still regular.  And I promptly lost my mucus plug.

I was thrilled.  I texted my doulas, I double checked my bag for the hospital, and I started snacking.  Strawberries, almonds, cashews, coconut milk.

And the pain kept getting worse.

I'm not talking about the contractions- those were sort of a breeze.  In fact, with my back in as much pain as it was, each contraction was actually a relief.  It took more pressure off of my spine, and I could close my eyes and breathe through it.  I kind of liked the contractions.

The pain, though... that was something different.  It didn't come with the contractions, it came with RH kicking.

Each time she moved, I felt a screaming pain going through my lower abdomen.  And that just got worse.  Stronger.  Sharper.

RH, about fifteen minutes old
I lay down.  I took a nap.

When I woke up, the contractions had stopped.  Completely.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zip.

But RH was still moving like mad, and the pain from that?

They always ask you to rate your pain from a one to a ten.  Ten being the worst pain you've ever experienced.  I've experienced quite a bit of pain.  I've gone into shock from dislocating my shoulder and breaking half of my fingers.  I've spent forty hours getting tattooed.  I've had five day migraines.  I've been dumped out of a dump truck with two tons (literally) of recycling, and compacted a few vertebrae.

By the time I went to bed, I would have called that pain a seven and a half.  As I tossed and turned for the next two hours, the pain just got worse.  At midnight, I texted my doulas.

I told them something about the pain just didn't seem right.

They told me to call my OB's office.

The doctor on call didn't hesitate.  She told me to go straight to labor and delivery.  She told me not to dawdle.

By the time we were seen in the hospital, the pain was easily an eight.  Maybe eight and a half.

Not quite one day old
RH was totally cooperative about being located and monitored.  She was perfect.  No signs of distress, no signs of danger.  Whatever was going on was entirely my problem.

The doctor listened carefully to my description of the pain, when it hurt, where it hurt...

Then she told me about my rock hard cervix.  My cervix that still had not dilated even one centimeter.

My cervix that was apparently much, much stronger than my previous c-section scar.

What was happening, she said, was probably that my uterus was getting ready to rupture.  That uterus was literally about to explode.  Probably.

She didn't use those words.  She was very, very calm.

She told me we had a window.  She didn't know how long the window was, and this wasn't *really* an emergency, but that I really needed to have a c-section.  Because if I didn't, if I kept having contractions, I was going to be in REAL trouble.

She told me we'd have the c-section in an hour, and we started getting ready.

Of course, there were *real* emergencies in the hospital at two in the morning.  My surgery kept getting pushed back, because there was somebody in genuine distress who needed a c-section first.

And the pain just kept getting worse.

Finally, two and a half hours later, the OB on call came in and told me that my own doctor was on his way.  We'd wait until he arrived, and then we would go into surgery.  That was a little before 4am.  The pain each time RH moved was up to a nine.  It was pushing nine and a half.

Numb from the waist down, but not panicking
My doctor finally walked in, clutching a cup of coffee, bleary eyed and awkward as always.  We went into the OR, and they administered my spinal.

It took FOREVER to take effect.  The anesthesiologist kept telling them to go ahead and get started, even though I wasn't "technically" numb enough.  I started to have a full fledged panic attack.  My doctor kept telling the anesthesiologist to keep waiting, that I would be numb soon enough.

The second the anesthesiologist said I was good to go- which I simply couldn't believe- they put up the blue curtain, rushed M in, and started.

If he hadn't been there, I think I would have been screaming the whole time.  But I was basically numb, and M was holding my hand and telling me how everything was going to be just fine.

And then she was there.  Eight pound on the nose.  Twenty one inches long.

Nothing else seemed to matter.  We were all going to be just fine.

The anesthesia took ten times as long to wear off as it should have.  We waited and waited and waited for my legs to start working again, so that we could leave the recovery room and go to sleep.  It took four hours before they decided to just send me up to a room anyway.  Still almost entirely numb from the waist down.

But RH was perfect.  She was bright eyed and beautiful.  She looks like a cross between DD and my Granny.  I was exhausted and overwhelmed and in love.

The next two days were hard.  So, so much harder than my last delivery.  Each time something seemed worse, or harder, or more painful, I would ask a doctor or nurse, "Is it just me, or was this easier last time?" And they'd all say the same thing.  "No, the second c-section is just plain worse."

One week ago today, my OB stood in my hospital room and did what he does best.  He told me the truth.  He didn't sugar coat it.  He didn't mince words.  For all of his flaws, it's this trait of his that has kept me with him through the last few years.

The last baby I'm ever going to have
He told me that my uterus was about to rupture.  That it had thinned severely around the old c-section, and that we needed to operate when we did, or it might have been too late.

Then he told me what to expect if I ever became pregnant again.

What I should expect is for my uterus to split open.

That thin area is still there- still thin, still damaged.  And now there's a new scar.

If I were to ever be pregnant again, we would need to plan on a c-section, and early.  Very early.  Before I could start having contractions, period.

We'd be talking about intentionally delivering a baby prematurely, possibly earlier than the twins were born.  We'd be talking bed rest and "seriously high risk."

Between the pregnancy skin cancer and this...

I'm done.

The baby shop has closed.

One week ago today, I learned that I had just had the last baby I was ever going to have.

My big girls
I didn't know whether I wanted to have more.  I didn't know whether I wanted to be done or not.  It doesn't matter now.  Now it's out of my hands.  I'm done.  That's that.

M is talking vasectomy.  I'm talking Implanon.  We're both thinking... both.

It's strange.  Part of me is totally ambivalent.  We have three babies.  We have three wonderful girls.  What more could I possibly ask for?

At the same time...

One thing I didn't write about doing as we had constant outings and field trips and what-have-yous was the visit M and I paid to our old fertility clinic.  The place were we did IVF to conceive the girls while M was in chemotherapy.

We filled out all the paperwork to dispose of our stored embryos.

Part of me is grieving that.  And now, part of me is grieving my uterus.

My children
There's still time- we had ninety days from the time we filled out our paperwork to change our minds.  I could run in there and scream not to dispose of my embryos, and then I could hold out some crazy hope that someday M and I could afford to get a surrogate or something to gestate another grubling.

But it's not happening.  I need to accept that all of this is over.  That we are done.

I have a ten day old infant.  I have two wonderful almost-three year olds.

This is what I get.

Someday, I still want to adopt.  I still want more children in my family, in my life, in my heart.

I just can't have them in my uterus anymore.

...I am done having kids.

I am not ready for that kind of absolute.

June 26, 2012

Nursing Woes

First things first
The birth story is coming, I promise you that.  But right now, I'd like to talk about nursing RH.  Or rather, the hazards of nursing RH.

She's a good nurser.  She gobbles down milk like no babe I've ever seen.  She chugalugs mightily.  You can hear her little glug glug glugging from across the room.  It's incredibly adorable.

Her latch?  Horrific.

Nursing in the hospital
Utterly terrible.

She has a few problems when it comes to latching.  For one, she holds her tongue to the back of her mouth when she opens up her mouth.  Even when she screams.  No, she has no tongue tie.

That means that, once she latches, she does one of two things.

A) She pushes the nipple out between her gums while she sucks it back and forth.  This is excruciating.  She also sometimes manages to catch a bit of areola in between her gums and lip while she's doing this.
B) She scrapes the front of the nipple incredibly hard with her tongue while she sucks.

Sometimes she does both.

This results in purple and blue, scraped and bleeding, achy nipples of constant misery.  Sometimes with blistered areolas.  Yes, that it every bit as painful as it sounds.

Of course, once she's had a few gulps and starts to get sleepy, I can disengage her and re-latch.  A couple of tries in and she's latched fine- happily chugging away and not causing anybody any pain.  At that point, nursing becomes positively lovely.

Before that can happen though, there is the first part.  The part where I am terrified of putting my nipple into her mouth, lest she mutilate me some more.  The part where I scream and cry and thrash, trying not to cause any more damage before I can get her the hell off of me.

Four nurses in the hospital evaluated our feedings.
My doulas watched this procedure.
RH's pediatrician has chimed in.
They all agree.

There's basically nothing I can do.

The girls know that this is how babies eat
She's getting better, but as she gets better, she also gets stronger.  And as she gets stronger, she gets more aggressive.  She has over the last thirty six hours (or approximately twenty nursings) discovered that she is a speed demon.  She is now capable of snapping her jaws just and beginning to suck so fast you can't even see it happen.  So fast, the my nipple ends up caught perpendicular in between her gums while she begins to suck hard enough to move a golf ball through a garden hose.

There is nothing I can do to fix this, but to wait.  To try to be patient and keep correcting her latch.  While my nipples swell and ache and bleed and maintain a vivid purple color.

The thing is, this isn't exactly unusual.

This is the third baby I've nursed, and the second who seemed determined to inflict pain in the early days.

SI?  She was vicious.  Entirely different, though.  She would get her latch, she would nurse perfectly for a few moments, and then she would clamp her jaw shut like a vice.  There was no opening it.  And I would scream and cry and beg and plead, and do my best to pry her tiny jaw open, all to no avail.

DD was a perfect nurser, almost from the word go.  She never did anything to cause me pain until the day she weaned.

So I know how this goes.  I went through six weeks of agony with SI before she just nursed like you always assume a baby is "supposed to."

And now here I am with RH.  Who keeps fixing one problem, only to invent a new method of torture.

Only this time, DD and SI are around to watch.

DD is terrified whenever I start to nurse the baby.  She wants to know if RH is going to hurt me, if she's biting me, if I'm going to cry, if I'm okay.

She's making cute little noises!
I feel so guilty.

And Grandma and M... they don't like it either.  I wouldn't if I were them.  But frankly, their repeated suggestions that I pump and let somebody else take a turn feeding her for a day just make me mad.  I don't WANT to take a break.  I worry that taking a break is just going to set her back instead of moving her forward.  But it's tempting.  Because my nipples?  They're usually in agony.

Yes, I want to pump.  That's because I have such ridiculous over supply.  Because frequently, RH will torment my nipples and then have nothing to eat.  But I *like* nursing.  You know, once the ungodly awful part has passed.

I'll snap at M about it.  But I won't snap at my MIL.  I'm too grateful that she's here, taking care of my home and my toddlers while I'm recovering.  (The three of them baked delicious sweet potato muffins today.  Who could complain?)  But I'm just going to keep up putting my nipples directly in harm's way and trying to stifle the screams.  And trying anything I can think of to make them hurt a little less.

Gel nursing pads keep them raw, but help with the bruising.  They make my nipples ache each time I take them off.

Cloth nursing pads stick tot the drying blood and then peel away the scabs when I try to take them off.

No nipple shields mean that I'm constantly leaking milk on myself.

Every time a cool breeze goes by, my nipples scream.  Every time I step into the shower, each drop of water makes me wince.  When DD or SI or even M try to give me a hug, a flinch away from the pressure against my chest.

Nursing?  Not so glamorous.

I know it's going to get better.  I know it is.

I know how to get us a good latch.

Me and my girls- you'll be seeing a lot more of this picture
I know what a good latch feels and looks like.  I know how nursing works- I was an awesome cow for almost ten months with my twins.

But I am a sore and tired cow this time around.

One week down.  One week of improved nursing, one week of improved attacks.

Hopefully this time next week things will be better.


And if not, I suppose at least I have one recourse when it comes to bolstering my spirits that was denied to me for most of the last year.

At least now I can pour myself a drink.

FYI- My MIL is awesome.  As I type this, I am eating pigs in blanket (with fake pigs) and a spinach/strawberry/raisin/almond salad with black currant vinegar, she has put my children down for a nap, and she is snuggling my infant.  She is awesome, and I mean no disrespect whatsoever.

...also, I have spoken with a lactation consultant, who is perplexed enough that she's making a house call this week.  Here's hoping I'm doing something wrong and she can fix it.

June 25, 2012

Reuniting My Family

My three girls
I am so pleased that Baby X is here- who from now on will be known as RH.

She's sweet and cuddly and beautiful, and very much beloved by her family.

Yes, I'll be posting the birth story.  That's coming soon.  But in the meantime, a little more photo spam.

DD and SI meet their baby sister:

When they walked in the door, I expected them to yell, "Mommy!" and run to me.
After all, I had missed THEM during the last few days.  They didn't even notice me-
they only had eyes for their baby sister.

She's funny!

Kisses from SI

Kisses from DD

DD is more in love with her little sister than I could possibly have hoped.

I mean- LOOK at that face.  :)

DD is the proudest big sister in the world.

She always wants to take care of her  baby sister.

...well, maybe SI is the proudest big sister,  She tells everybody about
how the baby has tiny fingers, and drinks milk, and has soft hair...

I guess that makes me the proudest mommy.  :)

I love how grouchy RH looks here.  Really, she's a very cheerful infant.

SI just can't get enough of that baby.

More on the baby, on the family, and on me coming up.

There is much to tell, and I will tell pretty much all.  Just not today.

June 18, 2012

15 Hours Ago

15 hours ago, we welcomed this little lady into the world.

Tomorrow, her big sisters and grandparents get to meet her.  I couldn't be more thrilled.  :)

June 17, 2012

Sunday Blogaround - 6.17.2012

Welcome to the Father's Day edition of the Sunday Blogaround!

And what better way to celebrate than featuring a few of my favorite blogging daddies?

"Summer Has Officially Started" - sisters
In case you're not familiar with this daddy's blog- go check out his ENTIRE ARCHIVES.  Seriously, some of the best photography of anyone's kids you'll ever see.  This dude is seriously clever.

"Fishing = Happy" - EduDad
EduDad writes about his own strained relationship with his father, and learning to find common ground.  As always, short and sweet... very, very sweet.

"For A Bunch of X Chromosomes, There Sure Are A Lot of 'Why's'" - The Kopp Girls
Kyle remains one of my favorite bloggers.  His twin girls are the same age as mine, and his singleton daughter is over six months old now, I believe!  And I *love* reading about how solicitous of her the twins are, and all about the things his twins do... because it's kind of a mirror into my own life, with every single detail changed.  And this post?  Yup.  Sounds like many of my days.

"Small Bump" - The Daddy Dialogues
Brandon does this awesome thing where he introduces his readers to new music and movies and whatnot.  It's just another way he manages to prove on a regular basis that he's cooler than me.  That said, this whole post is going to make you cry.  You know, unless you have no heart.

"Sometimes" - Dad of the Decade
This post is more than a week old, but you should still read it.  It's another vignette in the story of DotD first year with his daughter, who you should know is now a remarkable ten year old.  Knowing that makes a lot of his posts bearable.  What he has gone through, though, should humble and horrify any parent.  He has done it with remarkable strength, and is reliving it now with a remarkable gift for telling a story.

A(n) (un)Common Family

...there is one other post I'd like to share.  It has nothing to do with dads or fatherhood, but I thought it was beautiful and profound and important.  And so here it is.  It's not what you would think from the title.

"How Much Independence is the Right Amount of Independence for Kids?" - A(n) (Un)Common Family

June 15, 2012

Nope- still pregnant

We've been busy.
...is what I'm considering changing my voicemail message to.

I know I didn't post today.  We didn't do anything exciting.  I spent a lot of time laying down and being miserable.

Baby X is posterior, past due, and probably a giant of a baby.

...this means that whenever she kicks, on top of my stomach looking as though an alien is about to burst through, I suddenly have a terrible flu.

Fluid rushes behind my eyes, my ears, and my throat, and I lose my voice.

That, and the pain is excruciating.

So... still pregnant.  Sorry.

Here's a quick visual recap of what we've been doing since the week before this baby has been totally ready to evacuate my uterus:

I graduated from college
We went to the Children's Museum on Navy Pier

We went for a cruise down the Chicago River

M graduated with his Master's

I had a baby shower

We went to a baseball game

We visited with Great-Grandmommy and Great-Granddaddy

We saw Jonathan Richman at Millennium Park

We went to the Chicago Botanic Gardens

We went to the Museum of Science and Industry

We went to Margie's Candies

We went bowling

We went to the beach

We went to the bumpy slide

We went to Indian Boundary Park

I achieved approximately the size and shape of a bloated, dead Beluga whale

Have a happy Father's Day weekend, lovely readers!

Hopefully by Monday morning, Baby X will be here and I can quit complaining.  :)


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