Friday, July 31, 2009


There's been a fair amount of talk around the blogosphere lately about how our babies came into the world and the feelings that invokes in us. Linda over at All & Sundry and Julie at A Little Pregnant both wrote wonderful eloquent posts about it.

Its a topic that is often on my mind. Every time a woman a work gives birth or announces that she's pregnant I can't help but look back on the experience that I had and mourn the way that I thought it would be. I wanted to try an all natural birth (please note the word "try") because I didn't like the idea of bringing my son into the world with my body full of drugs (Also, I know that I would feel like a total bad ass if I managed to do it drug free). I wasn't closed to the idea of medications, but I was firmly on the side of "Give it my best shot."

When I was told, in my 30th week, that my amniotic fluid was almost gone and that Alex wasn't growing I still held out hope that things would work out the way that I wanted. My doctor (who is wonderful by the way, if you live in Knoxville and want a recommendation for an OB/GYN shoot me an e-mail) put me on bedrest at home after my Thursday appointment, with another ultrasound scheduled for the following Monday to check on things. By Monday, thanks to the GALLONS of water that I had consumed, my fluid had come back up enough that I was allowed to return to work on light duty, sit-down tasks only.

A little less than 2 weeks later I was back for another appointment (I had a lot of appointments and ultrasounds because I was high risk). Another Thursday, June 26th. This time there was so little fluid that the ultrasound tech couldn't even measure it in most places that she tried. And worse news, my placenta was in full blown deterioration mode, failing to supply enough blood to my son. I was sent immediately to Labor & Delivery, hooked up to monitors and an IV and placed on bedrest. I was allowed to get up to use the bathroom and for 15 additional minutes each day (trailing an IV pole around... fun!). The neonatologist visited, my doctor consulted with a bunch of other doctors and I spent a lot of time crying in that hospital bed.

I was told that unless everything fixed itself by Monday morning that I would be having a C-section, that my son would need to spend weeks in the hospital. I hoped, against all hope, that things would get better. I was on IV fluids and drinking as much water as I could stomach in order to get my fluid levels back up. I urged my body to fix my placenta (it doesn't really listen to me, but I had to give it a try), I begged the universe to make Alex grow so that I could stay pregnant longer and give him a better chance of being born healthy. I received my steroid shots, but not happily, because once you get those you pretty much know that you're having a preemie.

By Saturday night I was starting to come to terms, in a very superficial way, that I was having a C-section. I hadn't even begun to process the emotions, but the realist in me was gearing up for action. I knew that a healthy baby was all that mattered and my head was ready to deal with that.

Sunday morning, very early, I woke up with a blinding headache. They gave me Demerol; it didn't work. They gave me more Demerol; it didn't work either. My blood pressure was spiking so they hooked me up to a magnesium sulfate drip; it didn't work. I was in too much pain to panic and the drugs made me stupid, so I didn't really process what was happening. At some point a nurse came in and gave me a bunch of consent forms. She read them to me because I was too far gone to comprehend the written word at that point and before she would let me sign them she asked me if I knew what was happening. In the only funny part of the morning I said "You're going to cut me open." In response to her horrified look I informed her, "To get the baby out, duh." In my mind she was obviously confused about what was happening and I had to set her straight. My mom, who was with me at the time, laughed her ass off.

Shortly after I was was wheeled in my bed to the OR, in my bed (Just like on TV, yay!). My spinal was put into place, they laid me back and I got a catheter (which is just as much fun as you can imagine). I remember that I kept asking for Jym, but not much else. Then Jym was there, with his hand on my arm. Finally the spinal had me numb and they began. I'm told that it was very fast, just a few minutes from the first incision to Alex's birth, but I couldn't swear to that in court because I kept going in and out of consciousness. I don't remember his first cry, I didn't get to hold him, I didn't get to nurse him. I didn't even get to see most of him. One quick glimpse after he was cleaned, weighed and swaddled and then they took him to the NICU and me to recovery.

The rest of the day is a blur. I know that Dana came and saw me because there are pictures. I know that I was taken in my wheelchair to see Alex (catheter, IV and all), because there are pictures. A picture of my hand cradling his tiny head, seeming to engulf it. A picture of his perfect face, dwarfed by the pacifier laying next to it. A pacifier that looks like it was made for a giant baby, it covered half of his face, but it was the smallest that the NICU had.

I spent many hours next to his isolette, staring at him, memorizing his features. And all the while, regret and grief coursed through my body. I knew that this was the one chance that I had to do this. My health is not conducive to making babies. My doctor didn't really expect me to make it out of my first trimester and when I did I really began to hope and dream about the experience I wanted to have.

I still grieve over the loss of what I wanted. I know, we all know, that the end result is what's important. The baby at the end of the process is what matters, not how he got here. But...

But I look at my beautiful, perfect, happy, healthy son and it just doesn't seem all that important.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

No Cool Spots On My Pillow

Is there some law of the universe that causes all babies, upon turning one year old, to become deranged monsters, intent on destroying the home they live in and their parents' sanity?

Alex was always such a laid back baby (except when he first came home, but that doesn't count, he only weighed 4 pounds). He was content to lie on a blanket, to play with his with his toys, to explore the areas of the house that we deemed safe (i.e. no litter box or sharp pointy things). I could go to the bathroom, eat a meal, check the mail, make a sandwich... no problems. He slept through the night, except for a few peeps that quickly passed. He ate everything that we placed in his general vicinity (okay, this is still true, but it seemed like this list needed three things... you know, to round it out.)

No more easy going baby. He has left the building, replaced in the night by this active, mobile, curious, loud, demanding, angry child.

Put him down: wails and teeth gnashing along with noodles for legs that leave him crumpled on the floor in a pathetic heap.

Leave the room: howls of outrage and despair and possibly even betrayal (How can you go to the bathroom!! Don't you love me anymore?!?!).

Try to give him the milk when what he wants is the banana: look of disgust, cries of anger, cup to the floor and an attempt to hurl himself from the highchair.

The sleep, though. That's what's killing me.

He wakes up and howls sometime between 2 and 3, but settles back to sleep with relatively little trouble. The trouble come about 6:30. He wakens, realizes he's alone and turns on his music box. This amuses him for about 0.3 seconds. Then he gets bored and since he's still exhausted (he went to bed at 11, after all) he starts screaming. Immediate satisfaction is demanded. My sleep fogged brain is yanked from slumber, adrenaline pumping. Is the house on fire? Did someone break in? Did someone break in and set the house on fire? Did someone break in and set Alex on fire?

The answer, of course, is none of the above. He just wants Mommy and Daddy. I stumble to his room, pick him up, cuddle him and dry his tears. He is now content and sleepy once again. They I try to put him back in the crib. This is a huge mistake, as I should know by now. He switches back into full blown panic mode, so I pick him back up and make my way back to bed.

Alex collapses on my chest and immediately passes out; I do the same. Jym has slept through all of this. Sounds good, right? Everyone's asleep so it should be good?


Jym is a furnace. Sleeping with him is like sleeping next to a campfire... in the middle of the summer... is equatorial Brazil. Alex has inherited this trait. What this means, for me at least, is sweat, and overheating and NO SLEEP! I wake up, over and over again. I try to switch to a cooler spot on the pillow. Sadly, it turns out there are no cool spots left on the pillow. But it is damp with sweat, so that's a great bonus!

Jym and Alex sleep on, blissfully unaware of the heat wave under the sheets while I doze fitfully until Alex wakes up for good, around 9:30 or 10. Then its time for breakfast and to start the day. Zombie Mommy strikes again.

This gets better, right? He will start sleeping better before college, right? Right?!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Alex - One Year

Alex turned one on Monday, June 29th. He had his one year check-up today.

Birth Stats
3 lbs, 7.7 ozs
16.25 inches

One Year
19 lbs, 9 ozs
28.25 inches

What a difference a year makes.

A year ago he was lying in the hospital, impossibly small. Today he grins at me and squeals with delight when I make one of his toy cars flip over. He pulls up on anything that will hold still (furniture, grown-ups, the cat... poor long suffering cat). He climbed up into my chair today, pulling on my pants leg and hoisting himself up with just the strength in his own body.

A year ago he had his first meal, 3 milliliters of expressed breast milk. Today he ate oatmeal,carrots, cereal puffs, most of a banana, what seemed like an entire zucchini and squash, mashed potatoes, juice, milk; I had to stop giving him the zucchini because just because its veggies doesn't mean its not overeating.

A year ago we had to weigh his diapers to make sure that he was peeing enough, checking that he was getting enough fluid from his IV and the milk he was tube fed. Today... well let's just say that we're no longer concerned about whether or not he pees enough.

A year ago I was crying in my hospital room, recovering from an emergency C-section, knowing that I would go home without my baby. Today we popped him in his car seat and took him to Pizzeria Uno (where he ate most of the previously mentioned veggies), just that easy.

He's strong and he's healthy. The heart murmur they picked up early on has vanished. His umbilical hernia has healed itself. He has eczema, but so do I, so no biggie. We'll put some cream on it and thank the universe for sparing us.

He's a normal one year old, this close to walking. He has several words and he actually listens to me when I tell him to put something in his toy bucket or to bring me something (I don't expect this to last long).

This year has been terribly hard and wonderfully easy at the same time.

Breastfeeding was hard, so hard. Milk that never came in, nipples that were bigger than his mouth. Giving it up was painful, but necessary for my sanity and my relationship with Alex. Feeding was never easy in those first months, but letting go of the guilt about my "failure" made meals a pleasure again. A time to smell his sweet hair and nuzzle his cheeks. Now, he eats like a champ and will even share with me (i.e. forcibly shoves food in my mouth when he thinks something is especially tasty).

Co-sleeping, once I gave up on the bassinet, was sweet, lovely and hard to give up, even when the karate chops to the throat and the kicks to the crotch made sleeping difficult. Snuggling Alex to sleep at night is still one of the greatest pleasures in my life. Sometimes I get him out of his crib when I go to bed just so I can wake up to his sweet smile.

He is an active, sweet, demanding, generous, sometimes cuddly, all-boy kind of boy. I can't wait to see what happens this year.