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Still Here

4 Nov

Hey all
Just a quick note to let you know I’m still here. It’s been nearly impossible to blog because my laptop died and Bunny has been having some pretty bad stomach issues these last few weeks (don’t worry, it’s just a bad case of reflux that we haven’t found the right treatment for, which means she is just very fussy and needs extra cuddles).
I have a lot to write about this but not at 2am and certainly not on my phone. But soon, I promise.

Though I will leave you with a slice of awesomeness, one of Bunny’s first ever smiles:

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The Liberation of My Lady Parts

18 Oct

Warning: If you couldn’t tell from the title, this post deals with my female bits. Please don’t read on if this in any way disturbs you. This warning is specifically aimed at my brother who vocally complains when I TMI on here. Sissy – stop reading now! Kthnksbye.

Yesterday was my six week postpartum check up. I packed Bunny up in the car to show her off a bit and we headed over to see the Russian.

I haven’t talked much about my postpartum body here, so here’s a quick rundown:

I only had one first degree tear that required stitches. Ute cramping was a bitch and a half for the first week or so, but then that pretty much went away. My blood sugar leveled out almost immediately after the placenta was evicted. My feet were hella swollen for about a week. I get the occasional stabby pain in my nether regions but that should stop soon. I’ve lost about 20 pounds (bunny’s almost 7 and the placenta included) since Bunny was born. No diet, I assume all of it (or at least most of it) was water weight. Heavy bleeding lasted only about a week, and then I had light bleeding for another 3 weeks. There’s still quite a bit of fat on my bones and I am much heavier than I would like. I’m carrying the weight of five pregnancies, 6 months of modified bed rest, and 3.5 years of comfort eating to treat my depression.  A Weight Watchers membership is in my very near future.

So considering all of that, my folded over stomach (which is in desperate need of some yoga – also in my near future), and my epic stretch mark collection, my body has bounced back remarkably well. I really do count myself quite lucky. I know that recovery is a biyotch for a lot of women. My biggest issue was the horrible chemical anxiety loop I had. My body, on the other hand, made it out in very good condition.

So I wasn’t expecting any surprises when I went to see the Russian.

And guess what? For a change – there weren’t any.

I walked in, he took a look at Bunny and deemed her “Very nice, she has your nose.”

Then I had a magical date with Ole’ Wandy (oh how I didn’t miss him) and was pronounced “just fine.”

Once back at the Russian’s desk, he half laughed as he asked me if I wanted birth control, since he knew my answer would be “hell to the no.” He gave me a referral to get my blood sugar assessed just to make sure that the gestational diabetes is all gone, and that was it.

Me: “So I forget – how often do I have to come in to see you now?”

The Russian: “Once every six months for a check up. So six months from now. My secretary will call you with a reminder.”

Me: “So that’s it?”

The Russian: “Yep.”

I got up, grabbed Bunny’s carrier, and with that – my lady parts were officially liberated.

Seriously you guys – there should have been a ceremony or something. Imaginary trumpets went off in my head, but I really do think plaques should have been awarded. There also should have been some sort of interpretive dance or something to celebrate the occasion. They could have gotten Jimmy Kimmel to host.

Ok, so there was no fanfare, but my lady parts are officially on parole! After 3.5 years of getting poked and prodded down there by what seems like All the People, my ute, cootch, and all peripherals have now gained their independence.

Shmerson and I made a deal while planning for Bunny’s arrival. If all went well, talk of going for a second will resume NO SOONER than when Bunny is 18 months old.

It wasn’t an easy thing to agree to. After all, my biological clock is a moody diva. I didn’t write about it here but it took us 6 months to conceive Bunny, and I was monitored and took clo.mid. 18 months means we won’t even start trying until I’m going on 35. That does make me a little nervous, especially considering that my current pregnancy to live baby ratio is 5:1. Those odds aren’t exactly stellar to say the least. But Shmerson insisted, and I really was compelled to agree: My body needs a freaking break. It’s been through the ringer and needs some TLC.

So no hormones of any kind (condoms will do just fine in the meantime, thankyouverymuch). No pee sticks.No speculums or surgeries. No ultrasounds. No blood tests.

A cease and desist letter has been sent. The papers have been signed. The judge’s ruling is final. And so forth.

For the next 18 months at least, my lady parts are officially free. And I think I feel pretty good about that.

Fly lady parts, fly!

Infertile Parenting 101 (Month 1)

9 Oct

(Bla bla I haven’t posted in a while. Bla bla stuff about babies being hard. Bla bla more rambling about the future direction of the blog, followed by the statement that I will just be winging it and a promise not to abandon it. Bla bla, apologies to those still in the trenches, with an understanding that they don’t have to keep following if they don’t want to. Bla bla bla.)

So being a parent after 3.5 years of longing for a living, healthy baby is kind of a surreal experience. Since I’ve been doing it for almost 5 weeks now  (which obviously makes me a pro, right?) I thought I’d share with you some pearls of wisdom. Because let’s face it – though parenting is similar for everyone, parenting after infertility and loss comes with its own set of challenges and revelations. I’ve labelled this post “Month 1” because this may become a regular monthly thing. Then again, it may not. Because lesson 1: If you have a newborn, you really shouldn’t make promises. Lesson 2: If you have a newborn, you will find yourself typing out cliches like the one you just read.

So here we go:

  • You will most likely not break your baby. It’s kind of hard to believe, but once they’re out in the world, they become fairly durable. So chances are if you, say, accidentally bump their head on the corner of your laptop while you’re typing up a blog post (this is a purely hypothetical scenario of course), then you will most likely not cause any brain damage. And no, the fact that they keep sleeping because they barely felt the bump anyway does not mean that even more serious damage has been done than you initially suspected. Babies sleep, and they don’t really care if their head occasionally grazes a laptop corner (hypothetically, of course).
  • You will wish your baby had one of those collars like the dogs had in “Up.”  Babies can’t talk. That becomes incredibly frustrating at times because you really want to know what they want/what they need/what hurts/etc. Therefore you may spend your very rare spare moments fantasizing about acquiring a fictional collar from an animated film.

Source
  • You will realize that constantly making sure that he/she is still breathing while they are asleep is impractical. Eventually you will understand that you need sleep, and that chances are that your baby will keep breathing even when you’re not looking. And the worst-case-scenario: You have that high tech monitor you spent way too much money on to alert you if something goes awry, FSM forbid.
  • You will apparently never be able to post cynical things on Face.book ever again. If some of your FB friends are even remotely aware of your struggles, their unbridled “I’m so happy for you!” sentiments will be the rainy cloud over any of your attempts to be a cynic about your newfound status as a parent. So if you post a status asking people to ban you from their feeds if you discuss your child’s digestive habits publicly, you will get very few lols and lots of “you do whatever you want! You deserve it! Yay you!”s. And though you will appreciate the sentiments, there will be a small part of you that will quietly wish that they would just appreciate your cynicism and lingering bitterness and no longer single you out as being different. Though another part of you does think that yes, you are different, and how awesome is it that everyone is celebrating? This scenario is purely hypothetical, of course.
  • You will walk into baby stores and actually enjoy shopping there. You may as well get used to it. The places you spent so much time and energy avoiding all those years will now be taking all of your money.
  • You will see other people with babies and smile at them rather than avoid their gaze. At first this will surprise and even anger you. Then you will get over it.
  • You will find yourself doing all the annoying things you’d never thought you’d do.  Shamelessly showing pictures of your baby to total strangers? Check. Discussing their bowel movements and other digestive habits with anyone willing to listen and some who would really rather not? Check. Dressing the baby up in adorable outfits with “gender appropriate” color schemes? Check. Being all “Wait until you have kids and then you’ll know what tired is” to people, even if you only think it and don’t say it out loud? Check.
  • You will find yourself parenting via google. And most of your search queries will be somehow linked to either eating or poop.ing. Because you don’t have one of those handy collars from “Up” so you read your baby’s digestive system as if it was a pack of tarot cards.
  • You will have an app for recording your baby’s bodily functions. And you will use it. All the time. See above.
  • You will feel guilty. A lot. Did you wait too long too feed them? Did you not wait long enough? Why aren’t they gaining more weight? Are you giving them enough stimulation? Is it ok that you’re watching “Top Chef” while you’re feeding them? Is leaving them for 5 hours to run errands and get a manicure evidence that you are a horrible mother? The last two scenarios are purely hypothetical, of course.
  • You will feel pressure to constantly be happy now that you’ve achieved what you’ve wished for. Whether that pressure is self-inflicted or external, it will be there. And I have no words of wisdom to make that feeling go away. Just make sure you’re taking care of yourself.
  • You will not be constantly happy. And that’s ok. There is a whole new person that’s invaded your life. And they’re not really a whole person yet. They don’t make eye contact, they only smile when they’re gassy, and all they do is eat, sleep, poo, pee, and cry. Taking care of this whole new person is hard. And sometimes you have a hard time grasping that this person is yours. And sometimes you’ve barely slept and they’ve been fussy and you just want to cry because you don’t know how to make things better, and you really just want to sleep for longer than three hours at a time. Apparently, it’s normal to not be overjoyed 24-7. You can be tired. And frustrated. And anxious (OMG so anxious). And yes, even sad sometimes. Really and truly – it’s ok. And taking care of yourself during those times is ok too. (I need to remind myself of all of this constantly, and you should too).
  • You will still feel like you’re different.  Your past losses, frustrations, and traumas will not magically go away. They will get a different perspective, yes. They will change color and tone. They will morph into something different. But they will still be there. There will still be moments that you remember and cry. You will see that a friend of yours, who was married a year and a half after you, is already pregnant with or raising baby number 2. And it will sting, because deep down inside, you will know that though most of the world thinks your baby is “baby number 1”, it’s not. It’s number 5 of 5 pregnancies. Or the second baby you physically gave birth to. Or the 9th embryo transferred. Or the first successful cycle after 25 failed ones. Or the 3rd time a birth parent chose you. Your losses are still your losses. And it could be that no one understands that except you. Don’t bother explaining it. Let them celebrate your “first”. You celebrate your strength to make it through and bring this baby home. And I’ll say it again: Always, ALWAYS remember to take care of yourself.
  • You will find yourself doing things you never thought you’d be capable of doing. Like organizing the baby’s room, doing a load of her laundry and folding it and putting it away. Or washing bottles. Or tidying up the living room. All while a baby is strapped to you in a Moby (that you magically figured out how to use). And you never did these things before. Ever. You would leave your clean clothes in a separate hamper that the cleaning lady would fold when she came every two weeks, and then you would still keep those folded clothes on the guest bed and not bother putting them in a closet. You would leave things in piles everywhere. Now you’re all – ORGANIZE ALL THE THINGS! And even though you still suck at it, you’re making an effort. Which is just plain crazy. These scenarios are purely hypothetical, of course.
  • Nobody is coming to take your baby away from you. Chances are that because of the time you’ve spent wanting to have a baby, and because of how hard you’ve worked at it, you’re pretty much as emotionally ready to be a parent as anyone can really be. Which means that you’re most likely a pretty decent parent and no one will come and take away your baby. You will find yourself standing in line in a department store, holding a pair of swaddle blankets, and swaying your hips back and forth. Then you will realize that your baby isn’t currently strapped to you, and is in fact back at home with her grandmother. But she has become such an integral part of your life that you instinctively rock her, even when she’s not physically there. And then, for a moment, you truly get that she’s yours to keep, and what a fucking miracle that truly is.

That’s a purely hypothetical scenario, of course.

33.

26 Sep

Yesterday was my 33rd birthday.

This is what 30 looked like (pregnancy #2).

This was 31 (about to get pregnant with Nadav, thinking the worst was behind me).

This was 32 (trying to achieve pregnancy #5, mourning, mourning, mourning Nadav).

On Tuesday night, I was feeling a little down. I understood that it was connected somehow to my birthday but I wasn’t quite sure how. Then I realized, it was just a bit of a sting. A hint of what should have been. 33 was not “supposed” to be the year I became a mother to a living child. That was “supposed” to happen at 30. I spent Tuesday missing Nadav, and reliving my first three losses again. It wasn’t horrible, just a heaviness that sort of sat on my shoulders for a while.

So the night before my 33rd birthday, I spent mourning what could have been.

But that mourning was short lived.

On the morning I turned 33 I left Bunny at home with her dad. I got in the car after not having driven for over 6 months. I went to the mall and to the supermarket. I went grocery shopping alone for the first time in months and months. I went window shopping for a dress for my brother-in-law’s wedding.

I walked around the shops for a while, browsing, mostly ignoring dresses and looking for something cute for Bunny. I didn’t buy her anything, but I casually looked around. It was nice.

When I was done shopping and was loading the groceries into the car it hit me like a ton of bricks. I had been out of the house for 2 hours. This was the longest I’d been away from Bunny since the day she was born. On the drive home I was singing a little happy song to myself. It had been two hours, and I was so excited to be seeing my daughter again. I realized how much I missed her and just wanted to see her little face.  The prospect of seeing her again made me feel like a giddy teenager.

When I walked in the house I didn’t care that one of my best friends had come to visit and was waiting for me with a present. I made a beeline for Bunny and kissed her all over. It took several minutes until I even acknowledged anyone else in the room, or the fact that there were groceries that were still waiting in the trunk of the car.

In the evening, my parents came over to watch Bunny so Shmerson and I could go out (thank you formula!). We headed to our favorite restaurant and ordered a bottle of Cava, which I attacked with appropriate relish after not having a drop of alcohol for ten months (and of course after calling to check on Bunny).

Sometime during dinner I went to the bathroom, and found myself looking in the mirror.

And it hit me.

I haven’t looked in the mirror – I mean REALLY looked in the mirror in over three years. Always in passing, never truly looking. I looked away for three years. I avoided myself. Always.

And yet over the past three weeks I’ve been looking in mirrors. Examining myself. Looking at myself holding Bunny. Even asking Shmerson to take the occasional picture of me with Bunny. Because I want pictures of us together. I’m supposed to hate getting my picture taken. Not so much any more. I look tired. I’m fat – there’s no getting around that fact. I have stretch marks up the wazoo. But that doesn’t really bother me that much. Because I also look vibrant. I look happy.

And when I look in the mirror, I no longer feel the urge to look away.

We enjoyed the restaurant, but we didn’t stay too long. As soon as the check was paid I didn’t want to linger. Yes, it was nice to be out. It was nice to be tipsy.

It was even nicer to be heading home to my daughter.

I got home and covered her in kisses. And cuddled her for hours.

meandbunny

 

This is what 33 looks like.

Two Weeks as a Parent: Some Stuff I Learned

20 Sep
  • For the anxious mom, formula feeding is awesome. It’s amazing how much peace of mind you have when you know exactly how much your baby has eaten.
  • There is no such thing as ‘casual pumping’ either you pump like a madwoman, or you don’t. A few days in and my supply has pretty much dwindled. Lucky I’m loving the formula. No guilt left, and the major upside: I finally get my blessed Xan.ax back. Sweet relief.
  • Another upside of quitting breastfeeding: We have introduced the pacifier. Or as I like to call it: The magic crying cork.
  • You become obsessed with bodily functions. Bunny had a bout of gas and was having trouble pooping. When she finally did go, there was audible cheering in the Shmerson household.
  • It’s hard, but not that hard. I find myself with endless wells of patience for her. Things may be challenging sometimes, but at the end of the day, it’s for her, so it makes it ok.
  • Nothing grosses you out any more. I’ve been pooped on, peed on, and spat up on. It’s all good.
  • “Lots of sleep” is a relative term. These days a three hour stretch leaves me downright refreshed.
  • It doesn’t really sink in. Sometimes I look away for a few moments when Shmerson is with her, and forget that I have a baby. I look back and it hits me for a moment, then becomes incomprehensible once again. People say her name, and it takes a while to hit. Right. They’re talking about my daughter. Then my head explodes, and I go back into a quiet state of non-comprehension once again.
  • You will never care for anyone more. When I think she’s in pain, I hurt like I never would for myself.  I was told this would happen, I just didn’t grasp how deep the feeling truly is.
  • The cliches are true. Like – all of them. There were a few I never used to buy. “I’m excited to see them grow up and discover the world”.  That one always sounded weird to me. Or “cherish every moment”. But it’s so true. Every day she is becoming more of a little person, and it’s thrilling. I’m cherishing every moment, and at the same time I know this baby girl is going to grow up to be a total rock star, and I can’t wait to see that happen. It’s really rather amazing.
  • The joy is pure and unbridled. About once a day, sometimes twice, it dawns on me. She is here. She is mine. I could be singing her a song, or watching Shmerson hold her or play her some music. Or seeing her grandma melt when she has her in her arms. And it hits me. And I cry and cry and cry. Tears of pure joy like I have never felt before in my life. This is what love is.

 

bunny

A Break Up Letter

17 Sep

Dear Bo.obs,

I’m sorry, but the Bunny and I have to break up with you, though we hope we can remain friends. It’s not that you’re not perfectly nice – because you are. You’re great boo.bs. But you’re not making enough milk for Bunny, and I don’t have the strength, patience, or time to coax you into trying to make more. Plus – while you were being lazy, Bunny got used to getting fed from a bottle and she doesn’t like latching on to you guys any more. I don’t know if you noticed – but she hasn’t latched on in three days. And you know as well as I do how hard we’ve been trying. We even brought in another Lactation Consultant and her help didn’t make a difference, as good as she was. Frankly, I don’t think there’s any going back at this point. So it’s really time to move on to milkier pastures.

It’s not that I don’t plan on keeping in touch. We definitely should. If you don’t mind, I’d like to pump you guys about 3 times a day so that Bunny can get the benefits of as much milk as you can muster, without me being a slave to the pump. A mom’s gotta keep her sanity after all, and there’s only so many hours of mooing and milking I can stand a day. I hope you don’t take that personally, and give me what you can. I promise to ask nicely, and to only use the fancy electric pump I just rented, because you deserve the best.

So fare thee well my dear boo.bies. I hope there are no hard feelings. The Bunny and I will keep in touch.

Sincerely,

Mo and the Bunny (Though she can’t read, write, talk, or convey complex ideas just yet, I assure you she shares my sentiments completely.)

 

*********

Thank you all for your advice and words of encouragement on my last post. I think what I really needed was “permission” to let it go, and so many of you gave me that, which made me feel better and allowed me to be more forgiving of myself. I hope I continue to make peace with this decision. I truly think it’s the best one for my sanity, and therefore, for Bunny’s well being. To quote what so many of you said in the comments: I am feeding with love, and that’s the most important thing. Now I just hope I can continue to remember that and not feel too much guilt about this. I think it just wasn’t meant to be. If there will ever be a Bunny 2.0, I’ll take the lessons I learned this time and try again. But for now, we move on.

The Hard Stuff

14 Sep

Like I promised in my last post, I want to be honest about this experience. So bear with me, this one is going to be long, and hard.

We got released from the hospital when the Bunny was 2 days old. The first day home was awesome. I was still riding on a complete high. Breastfeeding seemed to be going ok (though the Bunny kept falling asleep while nursing), we were getting in a groove. Mind you, I hadn’t slept a wink literally for a week, but at that point it didn’t bother me.

The next day, my milk came in, my hormones crashed, and that’s when the fit started hitting the shan.

My back started spasming and hurting like a mofo.

I was beginning to feel anxious, all the time.

I didn’t have an appetite, and was having problems keeping food down.

I couldn’t sleep a wink. Even when Shmerson sent me to the bedroom while he watched the Bunny I would shut my eyes, and nothing would come. It was like this animal instinct. Whenever I would start to fade into sleep I would immediately wake up with a start, feeling panicky. It was like this chemical cycle was triggered in my brain to stay awake at all costs, and nothing would shut it down.

This went on for three days. I had gotten all together maybe 3 hours of sleep. The only time I could sleep was when I would put the Bunny on the couch, and then curl up right next to her on half the couch and put my hand on her chest so I could feel her breathing.

By the third day I was melting down. I knew this was a chemical thing. I was frustrated beyond belief because I also knew that all I needed to make it go away was a single dose of Xan.ax. But I knew I couldn’t take it, because it would transfer into my breastmilk. I was in hell. I’m not exaggerating. Here I was, with this beautiful baby girl, so exhausted I couldn’t function, and too anxious to enjoy her even one little bit.

The next day in the morning I made some phone calls, talked to my shrink, and finally found a pill similar to xan.ax (though much weaker) that was safe while breastfeeding. Shmerson went to pick up the prescription, and within hours I finally got some blessed sleep. The pills are helping to keep the anxiety managed, but I’m still feeling anxious and I find myself crying, a lot. I know some of this may go away in the next week and it’s normal, but I’m not sure how much of it will linger. At least now I can sleep.

But even with the pills, things kept on getting harder. No matter what I tried, Bunny would not stay awake while nursing (and I really did try EVERYTHING). And with every session, she would detach quicker and quicker, and fight me at every turn. Every feeding was becoming a battle, and yet another source for anxiety.

My cousin, who is a lactation consultant, was supporting me through this, but all she could do was give advice. At this point I was truly getting worried that Bunny was not getting enough to eat.

Then on Thursday, when she was a week old we went in to get her weighed, and my concern became justified. She hadn’t gained an ounce since we were discharged. She wasn’t eating enough.

After losing it for a bit, I talked to my cousin and we started a new regimen: Every three hours we try the boo.b, then I pump for 20 minutes while Shmerson bottle feeds Bunny either pumped milk if there is any, or formula if there isn’t. Feeding has become an hour long ordeal, where I fight with Bunny for her to stay awake and latched, we fail miserably for about 30 minutes, she finally latches but barely sucks anything, and then off she goes to get real food from her daddy while I pump.

24 hours after starting this, there was another crisis. Bunny hadn’t peed for 20 hours straight. After consulting with a nurse she told us to go straight to the ER, so we did. I was crying hysterically the entire way. I don’t think I’ve ever been that scared in my life.

Of course, the second Bunny was put down to get examined, she peed like a champ. Shmerson and I laughed with relief, the doc examined her, and she was pronounced perfect as usual.  She also gained a little weight since the day before, which made me feel better.

So back to the feeding nightmare we went.

I think what happened was that I have a supply issue as a result of Bunny’s sleepiness in the first days when my milk came in. At that point I was in such a haze that I did what I could to keep her eating, but it obviously wasn’t enough to get my supply up to scratch.

I’m on day three of pumping and I’m not feeling as if there’s an increase in my supply, and we’re still in a serious struggle to get Bunny to latch, stay awake, and suck when she’s on my boo.b.

I know when we bring her in to get weighed tomorrow she’ll have gained because of the bottle feedings, but I just don’t know what’s next. I’m not sure my supply will increase, and once we’ve started supplementation, is there really any going back?

I’m starting to think that maybe it’s time to give up and move to formula. I hate that every feeding becomes a fight. I dread the clock going off and having to start it all over again. I’m not enjoying my daughter enough because of this, and I’m seriously starting to wonder if it’s worth it. Why not just give her formula, stop the fighting, and always know for sure that she’s getting enough to eat?

Do I really need MORE reasons for anxiety right now? If I move to formula I also know I’d be free to take whatever meds I need to get my moods stable and truly enjoy my daughter.

But then there’s another part of me that says that we’ve worked so hard, it’s a shame to throw it away now. And the guilt of course, and the fear of missing out on all of that bonding and all of those benefits that are supposed to happen when you breastfeed (though right now there’s really none of that, just the anxiety).

But I was brought up on formula, and so was Shmerson, and honestly – so were a lot of people I know. We all came out just fine. Is it really worth all of the drama?

As of now, the decision is to give it till Wednesday and re-assess. If my supply isn’t up by then and we’re still relying almost completely on formula, I think I’ll probably give up the boo.b. Shmerson is going back to work in a week and it’s critical we get a good routine established (and my mood stable) before that happens. So Wednesday seems like a good day to cut things off and assess the situation.

I’m at a loss about what to do. I thought that giving up or pushing on would be an easy, clear-cut decision, but it’s murky and emotional and anything but clear-cut.

I just want to enjoy my daughter, and know that she is eating enough. But I don’t want her to miss out on things that would be good for her. This is so freaking hard.

Just a note here: I know breastfeeding is a touchy subject. I appreciate all of your feedback and please do leave it, but for FSM’s sake – no preaching, it’s the last thing I need right now. And no fighting amongst yourselves either. Breastfeeding and formula feeding are both legitimate choices and we shouldn’t judge anyone for choosing either. That being said, I would love to hear what you guys think. Let’s just keep it civil and non-preachy please. Thanks. 

Redemption: A Birth Story

11 Sep

The Bunny has been successfully fed and she’s sleeping, Shmerson is out on an errand, and I finally got some sleep. I figured this is as good a time as I can get to type this all out. Let’s just hope I manage it in one sitting. Oh – and this may be long. Sorry! I just don’t know if I can split it up into a bunch of posts. I figured one long info dump would be better.

First let me start by saying it has been a challenging few days. My anxiety issues coupled with some breastfeeding challenges and an obscene lack of sleep made things kinda sucky. But some BF-safe meds and a good night’s sleep later, and things are looking up. I promise to write about this soon. I think it’s important to put the good, the bad and the ugly out there.

But first, the good.

Sept. 3rd (Tuesday)  was my due date, and we were supposed to go into L&D that morning. All speculation was that they would decide to induce me then and there, because of the GD. On Monday night, Shmerson’s birthday, I actually had 2-3 very strong contractions, so I had some hope that maybe things would get started on their own. But no dice. The result was a Monday night spent completely sleepless. I was boiling over with anticipation and anxiety. The terrible part was the frustration. I knew I had a hard few days ahead, and my body’s refusal to sleep was a huge source of frustration. It turned out to be the beginning of almost a week with no sleep at all.

So Tuesday morning we arrived at L&D. They checked me out and of course the Bunny rocked it as per usual. However, she was still way up and my cervix was closed. I have to say that it’s completely ironic that we spent as long as we did trying to keep that puppy long and closed. I guess it did too good a job listening to instructions.

So after the check up the Doc came in and told me that she hoped I packed a bag because we were not going home. By 2pm I was checked into L&D, and had a pessary inserted to dilate my cervix.

The next 22 hours were basically spent with on-and-off contractions, no sleep, and quite a bit of frustration. They had me on a fetal monitor for an hour on, then two hours off throughout that entire day and night and it was a nightmare to go through the contractions on my back, as mild as they were relatively. I began to hate that monitor, as reassuring as it was to hear the Bunny’s heartbeat that often. I also had a couple of emotional meltdowns during that time. All the waiting was taking a huge toll on me.

At around noon the doctor came in and did a check. I was about 2cm dilated, so he did a membrane sweep and decided to send me for an enema (yep! Fun!) and to a delivery room. The sweep and the other fun times certainly helped get the contractions moving, and they started coming on harder, though still not regularly.  At that point my doula came as well, since it was clear things were getting moving, at least partially.

By 3pm there wasn’t a lot of progress, and they decided it was time to start pito.cin, a drug that was meant to make the contractions more regular and effective. This was the first of what was to eventually become 6 (!) IV drips. I hated the idea of pitoci.n mostly because I knew it would mean having to be hooked up to the monitor continuously, and the only way I was handling contractions was by standing up. That was about the moment I resigned myself to the fact that I was doomed to labor on my back, and that there was definitely an epidural in my future.

By around 6pm I had dilated a bit more (I think about 3.5?), but not by much, and the doctor on call (Rosh Hashana was starting so everyone was in Holiday mode) decided it was time to break my water. I decided that it was time for an epidural, since I knew breaking my water would only make things hurt more.

This was also about the moment I had another freak out, because I was scared of what was to come. I cried quite a bit and somewhere between the nurse midwife, my doula, and Shmerson, they managed to calm me down.

This is also the point where everyone realized that I had a really bad UTI, so on top of the saline drip they added to prep for the epi,, I also got an bag full of antibiotics. That would be the second and third IV’s, if you’re counting along at home.

Getting the epidural was a nightmare, and without a doubt the worst part of the whole ordeal. The anesthesiologist on call was a complete douchnozzle, which was surprising since the staff at the hospital was generally so sweet. Anyway, after he kicked Shmerson and the doula out he spent more than 20 minutes trying to get the line in, and informed me that I have a “giant back”. I was hunched forward and he kept on yelling at me to be quiet and not move. By the time he was done, my upper back and neck had completely seized up. I wasn’t feeling the contractions anymore, but the pain was horrible.

To make matters worse, though I had been warned that the epi may cause a bout of low blood pressure, nobody said anything about the effect on the Bunny’s heart rate. It was only momentary, but right as my blood pressure dropped, the Bunny’s heart rate did too – and they had to put me on oxygen. She recovered within seconds but I was freaking out at this point. To make matters worse, they still hadn’t let Shmerson back in the room. I spent 15 minutes alone, terrified, and trying to fight the urge to nod off. There was a lot of crying that lasted at least an hour before I managed to recover somewhat.

I don’t regret getting the epi, as I think it did make laboring on my back bearable, but I wish I had known about all of that ahead of time. If you’re keeping count by the way – we’re up to drip #4.

But it was weird. On one hand I couldn’t feel anything from about the chest down. On the other, everything from the chest up hurt because my muscles had seized. The result was that I basically couldn’t move. At all. Just turning on my side became a task that required three people.

At this point they also started a diabetes protocol, which means drips #5 and 6 were hooked up, with sugar water and insulin to regulate my blood sugar levels. From that point on they checked it hourly and adjusted the drips as needed.

They broke my water, and found a bit of meconium. The doc wasn’t worried (that woman was completely chill, and had a great bedside manner), but of course I was. Cue another freak out.  About an hour after that, I was dilated to 4.5. But that’s where I got stuck. For about 2 hours. I was frustrated beyond belief. But Dr. Chill just gave me some sort of injection, and from that point on, things really began moving.

The funny thing about the epi was that I couldn’t feel the contractions, but as I was dilating more I did feel pressure where I was supposed to. That would prove to be crucial.

By midnight, I was almost fully dilated, and I was starting to feel the urge to push. But at the same time I was exhausted, and scared beyond comprehension. The midwives had just switched shifts, and when the new one came in and asked me something – I don’t even remember what – I cried and said that I didn’t care anymore, that they should decide for me.

Looking back on it now, I guess that was the “transition” part of labor they talk about. This is the one point where I think my doula did play a crucial role (honestly I was kind of disappointed with her – she was too passive, and a bit emotionally detached for most of the time). She looked me in the eye and told me that this was not the time to be passive. That I needed to take control of the situation just like I knew how to do. It was the push I needed.

And with that, I was ready to push.

The midwife was this tough Russian woman. I had had a stream of really sweet sensitive women take care of me in the 36 hours prior, so when she came in I was skeptical. It turns out she was exactly what I needed. A drill sergeant.

She taught me how to push and cheered me on in an amazing way. At one point she left the room and I started crying out “I want her here! I need her here!”

Shmerson, thinking I was talking about the Bunny, tried to calm me down and said “She’s on her way, she’ll be here soon.”.

I answered – “No! I mean the midwife! I push better when she’s around!”

I think out of everything, I was most scared of this stage of labor. And honestly, you find very few good descriptions of what this truly feels like, but what “they” say is true. It really is the easiest part.

As the pressure mounts, things become more and more painful. But pushing truly does make everything feel better. You finally feel like you’re doing something active. LIke you’re making things happen. Mind you, it wasn’t a walk in the park, and my seized up neck and back only made things harder, but I kept going, because I knew I had no choice. I knew that each push was getting me closer to my Bunny. I screamed and cried that I couldn’t do it anymore, but I pushed on. Literally.

I had also been scared of the crowning, and how much that would hurt. Again – it was a walk in the park. Here’s the thing they neglect to mention: Yeah – you feel a “ring of fire” and it hurts, but at that point, you could care less, because OMG that is your baby’s head coming out! And that is the most amazing thing in the world.

An hour and 15 minutes after I began pushing, the Bunny came into the world. There were a few scary seconds as the midwife suctioned her lungs, but then she let out a tiny little cry.

And I was in ecstasy. All I can remember is screaming out her name over and over and over again for what seemed like forever, It was joy and relief like I have never felt before in my life.

The midwife put her on my stomach while we waited for the cord to stop pulsing. I couldn’t see her, but I had my hand on her, and that was amazing. Then she cut the cord and they took her away to get cleaned and weighed, and handed her off to Shmerson while I delivered the placenta and got stitched up. All in all the damage wasn’t huge – a couple of internal tears requiring a few stitches, but nothing big.

Bunny came out weighing 3.122 kgs. Her 1 min. APGAR was 9 and her 5 min. was 10. She was – and is – perfect. My perfect, rock star daughter.

Soon afterward we had some cuddle time and took pictures with her and the staff. Then they took her away to get her blood sugar monitored (it’s perfectly stable, BTW), and Shmerson went with her.

I spent two hours behind a recovery curtain not quite believing what just happened. Heck, it’s been almost a week and I still can’t quite believe it. Who knows when it will fully sink in.

But here’s the takeaway from the experience, that I really want to share with you:

My body came through. Three years of mistrust came to an end on the night of September 5th, when my body, despite 100 different challenges (and 6 IV drips!), pushed out my perfect and amazing daughter in a mere hour and 15 minutes.  My body did that. It gave me my daughter.

And it’s been feeding her and protecting her ever since.

If that’s not redemption, I don’t know what is.

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