Food, Sleep and Closure

When I went into Labor on 6-30-07 at 8:30am, I got a pretty good night sleep the previous night. That is to say that I sleep on the couch, in the upright position for a few hours at a time. In between the 2-4 hour bouts of rest, I was up and around the house. Usually thirsty, or having to use the bathroom. But, occasionally just wandering around the house, or reading. The last months of pregnancy were like this.

I have said in previous ruminations that this was a prep for parenthood, or so I thought while I was pregnant. What I wasn’t prepared for were the hours and days immediately following the birth of my son. From the time I went into Labor on Saturday until I left the hospital on Wednesday July 4th, I slept about 15 hours in total.
Saturday night while I labored, I of course didn’t sleep. My husband and my Doula took turns taking cat naps (which I barely noticed). I delivered on Sunday evening, and was put on Percoset, and moved to L&D to recover. That night and subsequent day, I couldn’t sleep and barely noticed the difference between day and night. I was so afraid that if I closed my eyes my son would stop breathing or choke to death on his lung fluid (when you have a c-section, even when you labor first, the child doesn’t fully benefit from traveling down the birth canal and getting the fluid squeezed out of their lungs, in the same way). Every little noise he made had me up, checking on him. This was coupled with the nurses coming in every 2 hours for stats, and every 4 hours for meds, housekeeping, food service (see below), and my doctors and the pediatricians. My doc started rounds at 5am, and I was apparently first on the list. Oh, and since UCSD is a teaching hospital, you see a student and a doc–2 separate visits.

Since I had a C-section, I couldn’t co-sleep with Elliott as I had planned and he in turn slept in a little plexi-glass crib next to my bed. The inability to co-sleep was due to a variety of valid, although frustrating reasons. The first was that I was on pain meds, the second was the bed was sooooo small, and the third is that I could barely move without assistance (the surgery, the IV, the catheter…). Had I delivered him vaginally in the Birth Center, both baby and husband all can sleep together. They have normal beds (not mechanical hospital beds), that are Queen size. They encourage baby and Mom to sleep together. UCSD is also a baby friendly hospital, and as such they don’t have a nursery. If you need to take a break from your baby, you can ask the nurses to watch them. At this point they will wheel them into the nurses station and keep an eye on them in there. I never opted for this.

I ate lunch on Saturday, at the Bar Mitvah. But, the remainder of the day I just wasn’t that hungry. Maybe it was nerves due to wondering if this was “IT”, or not. The evening only brought nausea and lack of appeal for anything food related. I did manage to eat a few lolli-pops and a bite of fruit. But, mostly I was thirsty and drank a ton of water. By the time Sunday afternoon rolled around and my labor had basically slowed to a snails pace, I was hungry! However, since I was going into surgery…there would be no food for me.

I wasn’t allowed to eat on Sunday night, nor Monday. All they gave me beginning with lunch was liquids. Broth, jello and juice. Plus, vicodin, gas pills and stool softeners. Yummy!

By the time I was allowed to eat, and I was begging the nurses for food by this point (sometime on Tuesday)-the meal that the food service people brought in was mostly wheat products (lasagna, a dinner roll, etc.), of which I am allergic. So, I was foiled again.

How are you supposed to function/parent/nurture on so little sleep, without food, and all doped up on meds? It seems counter intuitive to me. There are a lot of things about pregnancy and labor that are backwards in my opinion. Let me give a few examples.

When you get pregnant, usually you take a home pregnancy test to confirm. And if you are like me, I knew on day one of my missed period. Once you confirm, you are sooo excited (lets assume this is a planned pregnancy), that the first thing you do is schedule a doctors appointment. If you have an HMO, they wont schedule your first appointment until you are somewhere around 8-10 weeks along. Now, isn’t the first trimester the most critical as it relates to development of the baby? Why would you leave a newly pregnant person on their own, without advise or guidance during the most sensitive part of their pregnancy?

The second situation/example is during your post-partum period. Since I had a c-section, I spent 3 nights after the birth in the hospital (although they wanted to release me on the 2nd night, I declined). They removed my staples (13 of them), on the third day, and gave me instructions for caring for my incision. They also instruct you to schedule your follow up appointment for 6 weeks later. Now, I just had major abdominal surgery and a baby…wouldn’t you want to see me sooner than 6 weeks? Apparently not.

The sleep has improved since I have been home. And I suspect we are faring well compared to some. Elliott on most nights, sleeps from 9-12 or 1, eats, and then sleeps again from 1-4 or 5 am. Then he eats again, and occasionally will sleep again from 6 to 7:30am. Although, when we are struggling with the let down problem, he is less likely to sleep for such long periods, and is awake for longer time periods in between. So far I am OK with the sleep patterns, and feel good most days. I can see how the lack of sleep can be impossible to handle, especially if you have more than one child, or have to go back to work sooner rather than later, or don’t have a lot of help or support from your spouse.

Well, after all of that typing…I am not sure what the summation of my thoughts are. But, I wanted to share what was on my mind anyway. I am all for closure, but for this post, there is no closure… to my dismay.

The tightrope

I often feel bitter about the fact that women bear the brunt of the ‘burden’ of child rearing (please don’t read this as regret or anger towards my son or my decision to have children). From their conception, we as women are limited in our activities (food restrictions, medication, alcohol), our mobility (exercise, movement, sleep), our consumption, and our freedom. After the pregnancy, we are further tied to them via breastfeeding, diaper changes and the endless soothing and nurturing that is required. Later we are bound by morality and lessons, school schedules, and play dates.

In a moment of frustration and bitterness at my husbands freedom to do whatever he wanted (he spent the majority of the day on the computer working, and the evening watching baseball–although in all fairness he did take the dog to get washed), but get nothing done (I asked for a couple of simple tasks-my honey-do list was small and had carried over from several days ago). I asked him for one day to sit with me, and not move every time I had to breastfeed. I wanted him to know what it felt like to be constrained (perhaps he would be less frustrated when I asked him for something). He basically laughed in my face, and said no. Just as well. Who would get me water if he was tied to the couch too. But, then again who is going to get me water come Monday when he is back at work?

I do not want to imply that I these things aren’t done willingly or with love for my son. I just want to bring to light the great amount of sacrifice and selflessness that it takes to be a good mother. I wonder with all that we give up, why it is also accompanied by such vast amounts of guilt and grief.

Are we giving enough time to our child, did we handle that situation correctly, could I have done something different, given more, shown more patience, love, or guidance…The list is endless and the guilt never ending for some. It is a tight rope to walk, and unless we all find balance both in parenting and in our marriages, we are bound to fall.

Who gives to Mom’s? Who makes sure we are alright? Who nurtures us? Who takes care of us when we are sick, or sad, or lonely? I am working the details out now, and hopefully will be able to find my balance soon.

Is this it?

Whoo hoo, I lost my mucous plug today. It hasnt been exactly like I expected, as it has been expelling gradually over the last few hours. It was similar in consistency to the very sticky cervical fluid that monthly was an indicator of when I was ovulating.

On top of that, this morning I started having contractions shortly thereafter, and that was at about 8:30am. They have been consistent through out the day. I will keep you posted as they continue and let you know if they stop. So far they are about 30 seconds long and 3 minutes apart. They are manageable, although uncomfortable. My lower back is sore, but my spirits are high!

More details later, and as they come!

38 week appointment

Yesterday Hubby and I attended our 38 week appointment. We met yet another midwife in the clan o’midwives. There are 12 or so, and they all rotate on clinical duty and with being on call. I think so far I have met 4 of them during my 4 month tenure at the birth center. My regular appointment was moved from Friday AM to Wednesday PM, and the gal I was seeing on Friday mornings is now out on maternity leave. And then next week due to the holiday, we move to Tuesday and will likely meet yet another (a fifth) midwife. In a way I wish I didn’t meet them in advance, since any one of them could catch Elliott when he is born-depending on their on call rotation. Meeting them in advance has allowed me to form opinions about each one, and being as judgemental and opinionated as I am…. in my head I have already made my like and dislike list. Had I not met them, I wouldn’t have any pre-existing biases or preferences towards them.

The appointment was kinda odd, as this midwife offered unsolicited advice, and it was kinda out of left field. Luckily, I had a couple of questions based on random paranoia of my own for her.

  • I wanted to know if she could judge his size at this stage. I am starting to worry that he is going to be to big, and I am not going to be able to birth him. She said she could, but never told me and I forgot to ask, as I got caught up with the other questions.
  • I also wanted to know if he was going to keep on growing, as I don’t feel like I can get any bigger and still move around. She said yes, he would continue to grow…and yes, so would I. Damn it.
  • I have been getting sharp shooting pains in my breasts, and assumed that it was a sure fire sign that something was starting to brew. She confirmed that yes, that was likely a sign that my milk or pre-milk at this stage was beginning. And assured my all was well.
  • Lastly, I wanted to confirm that I had enough amniotic fluid. For some reason, I am all of a sudden paranoid about this. I think that it stems from several things. The first is that the birth class gives you all of these random things to look out for, and one of them is when you water breaks at the top, and just slowly trickles out. A lot of women don’t realize their bag of waters has broken…and infection, etc. can occur. They give you some acronym to check for…but I forgot what it was-COAT I think (color, odor, appearance and time…?) The second wave of paranoia is that I am excessively thirsty (I asked last week if this was common, and the midwife said yes) and don’t feel like I have to pee as much as I consume. So, I was all wrapped up in the idea that maybe I was so thirsty because I was loosing amniotic fluid, and needed all the liquid I was drinking to replace and replenish Elliott’s supply. The last reason I started to get worried is that when I move into certain positions, I can actually hear and feel the fluid displace in my upper torso. Imagine you are in the bath tub leaning back, and you go to move or sit up, and then water moves from the back side of you to the front. It kinda feels like that. Phew, after all of that worry-everything is fine there too. She prodded my belly, and squished him around and confirmed that he had plenty of fluid.

I asked what the next couple of weeks held as far as setting expectations for my appointments. I asked if I would be having any vaginal exams (I haven’t had one since I have been with the birth center-my only one was my initial exam at 9-10 weeks with my previous OB) or other tests. She said that they will continue with weekly appointments for the next 2 weeks, weight, BP, make sure the baby is head down and his heart rate is normal. Then on week 41 if I am still pregnant, they will want to see me 2 times a week to perform the non-stress tests. Then at 42 weeks, we can start discussing other options. She said that they do not perform any vaginal exams until after 41 weeks because they are invasive and unless there is worry-unnecessary. She also said that they are also uncomfortable for the mother, and tend to get a women’s hopes up with out being based on any definitive data. She said that regardless of how effaced or dilated you are-that at any time you can go into labor…so it instills a false sense of hope.

For me, all is well. The appointment was fine-BP is normal, a small bit of swelling but nothing major, Elliott’s HR is good, he is still head down and in position. I stopped looking at the scale, partly because I cant see it from my vantage point, partly because if there was an issue I am sure I would have heard about it, and mostly because it just serves to depress me (and why would I want to stress over my weight, when there will be plenty of time for scrutiny and self doubt after the delivery!). *Laugh*

Mobility is limited and energy levels are low. But, my attitude is good and I am 90% ready to have this baby. I still have a few more things to get settled (make sure my disability paperwork was completed and sent, finish packing my bag for the hospital, and do a final pass at cleaning the house), but if I went into labor right now, I would be happy.

Lessons-day 5

I am going to use Friday as a lesson that all good things come to those who work for them. Saturday started out a bit rocky but turned out great. Sunday was awesome too. I felt great both days. I think that my ‘cleanse’ made some room in my stomach for Elliott, and he has finally begun his slow decent into my pelvis. He is dropping!!! There is a noticeable visual difference in the shape of my tummy. I can breathe easier, move around easier and best yet…i think I might be able to sleep lying down in the bed again (for those of you unaware, I have been sleeping propped up on ladybug pillow in Elliott’s room).

The lightening has left me feeling a bit apprehensive about the inevitable of course, but what can you do! Just wait…

We meet with a prospective nanny yesterday. She has been nannying for a close friend of ours for 1.5 years, and they love her. However, they are going to need her less after the fall, and that is perfect timing for us to pick up her hours. After a bit of a rocky start, we finally arranged to meet with her for an interview yesterday. She doesn’t have any experience with newborns, and it seems that our friend has taught her most of what she knows about kids (aside from some classes in school and family obligations as it relates to watching kids). But, she seems very loving and willing to raise and handle the upbringing of our son however we direct her to. She realizes that we are the parents, and looks at herself as more of a helper than anything. The hours would work out for everyone, and she is in our price range (although at the very top). All of this assumes that I will be able to take a day off a week when I return to work after maternity leave. Hubby will be taking a day and half off from work to be at home with Elliott as well.

I crossed a couple of things off of the to-do list over the past few days.

  • Instead of buying a new bathrobe, I sewed belt loops onto my existing one
  • I printed out the pictures for Elliott’s baby book
  • I bought a nursing tank top for the hospital (since I have no idea what size bra I currently am or will be after my milk comes in)

I love checking things off of the to-do list!

Day 2

I thought last night would be as good as any to take my first dose of milk of magnesia since becoming pregnant. The recommended dose is 2-4 caplets at bed time with a full glass of water. I decided to take 3 just to be safe. Well, I awoke 3 times last night with severe cramps and a belly ache.

But, on target this morning the digestive track cleared all things…and then has keep clearing all day. I am also severely nauseated (which to me is the WORST feeling in the world-I would rather throw up 100 times than be nauseous) and cranky. I even had to cancel my lunch plans. I haven’t gone anywhere for fear of being too far from the restroom (and I feel like shit…how fitting). You would think that i would be grateful to have rid myself of this burden, but alas….I am an ungrateful wench, and wish it wouldn’t have come with a day of belly aching pain and suffering. Welcome to my negative side-where negativity, ungrateful behavior and bitterness prevail.

On a side note, I read last week about a voluntary recall of Thomas the Train toys My nephew is in love with Thomas and Friends, so I sent the info to my sister-in-law. Well, apparently it has become more serious. Click here for the NPR story.

Day 1

Today was my first day off from work. I have to report that not working is relaxing. However, I do feel a bit frustrated by my lack of ability to complete tasks due either to the basic lack of energy, mobility or both.

Last night was spent with a friend of a friend. Hubby’s best friend was in the peace corp. for 3 years, and in the process met his wife and some cool peeps. One of them was the chap we had dinner with last night.

He lives in Texas, but was out on SD for a work related conference. He sent us notification that he would be in town, and asked if we wanted to get together for drinks and or dinner, which we happily accepted.

We picked him up at the convention center, took a leisurely drive around town, and then decided on a fancy Mexican joint in Old Town (hubby picked the place, in spite of my resistance). The meal was nice, the company enjoyable and the weather was wonderful. We all came back to the house, and I checked email and played on the computer, while the boys built a fire in the backyard and chatted over a 6 pack of beer.

I dropped him off this AM, as hubby had an early work day this AM. I got a few chores done, and then went to Target to purchase a few necessities (Tums, Milk of Magnesia, x-large maxi pads for my hospital bag post-delivery) and return some unwanted items.

My girlfriend (who is out of work currently) came over, and we broke out my sewing machine. Gave it an inspection (this will be her maiden voyage), and set a date for tomorrow to purchase some fabric for what I hope is a very simple purse. If anyone is interested in a sewing date-we have one tentatively scheduled for Saturday during the day. BYOSM (bring your own sewing machine).

37 week check-up

I am officially full term in my pregnancy (as of yesterday). While it would be better for Elliott to bake a little while longer and gather some additional fat stores (which if he is like his Mommy-that shouldn’t be ANY problem)…if I did have him today he would be developmentally fine!

I went to the Midwife for my now weekly visit and all is well. My TB test was negative, my Group Beta Strep test was negative (yeah, no antibiotics post delivery), I (for once) didn’t gain any weight, my belly is measuring at 38.5 inches, and Elliott’s heart rate is a steady 130. Only light swelling, and my BP is normal. I am a model citizen! Apparently week 37 is when they talk to you about post-pregnancy contraception. She basically said-no matter if you are breast feeding full time or not, that if we don’t want to worry about a subsequent pregnancy after Elliott is born, to use protection every time we have sex. I told her about the great experience I had being on Depo Provera for 4 plus years and she suggested an IUD (with hormones), so I need to look into that.

Today, is also my last day of work. It was a busy day with 4 plus hours of training and therefore very little time for regret or reflection. Everyone keeps referring to my maternity leave as a vacation. Which, I keep reminding them is not really correct. Since, part of the reason I am not working is because of the overwhelming amount of discomfort I am in. I am trying not to be resentful at the inference.

I also have a long ‘to do’ list of things I need to get done while I am out on leave:

  • Pack my hospital bag
  • pack Elliott’s diaper bag
  • pick an outfit for him to wear on his journey home
  • finish organizing his dresser and room
  • get my car seat tested at the fire dept. or wherever they do that
  • file my disability paperwork
  • print out the pictures I want to include in his baby book
  • write a letter to him to include in his baby book
  • Buy a couple of nursing bra’s
  • buy a new bathrobe (for the hospital)
  • depending on my energy level-go to the dinner studio and prepare some meals to help after the baby is here
  • finish reading the birth books that are on my list
  • sterilize my breast pump and accessories
  • figure out how the Diaper Genie works (how can it be so complicated…?)
  • make sure i have the paperwork ready to sign Elliott up on my insurance (there is a 30 day window)
  • interview the pediatrician
  • decide on a birth control method
  • look into WW for after the baby arrives, and find out the protocol for nursing mom’s
  • Check on the classes offered at the hospital, enroll if any sound beneficial
  • Get paperwork, insurance docs, medical file, etc. ready for the hospital bag
  • get email/phone list prepared for when I go into Labor

I think that is it for now. I will add more items to the list as needed!