Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Bringing Home Baby J

During my pregnancy, I had immersed myself in books and other tidbits of information on newborns.  Intellectually, I thought I was prepared for the sleep deprivation, caretaking responsibilities, and loss of independence.  However, nothing I had read could have prepared me for feeling extremely overwhelmed, anxious, and out-of-my-element.  After I returned home from the hospital, I felt like an intruder in my own life.  My house, my marriage, my relationships with others all felt foreign and unfamiliar.  I actually experienced a mourning phase, in which I grieved my life pre-baby.  Every night, around 6pm, after that night’s sleep deprivation came to a culmination, I would sob to Jon.  I told him I missed him, missed us, and lamented my independence.  Although Jon admitted to me later that he had thought my emotional torrents were rather amusing, he took care in projecting understanding and compassion.  And he would have gladly injured his proverbial back by assisting with my emotional luggage, but his body was not the one recuperating from childbirth.
One of my childless friends, but an amazing aunt, declared to me one day that every new mom is a single mom.  She meant that no matter how supportive the husband, the mother always shoulders the burden of caring for her newborn baby.  Another bit of advice given to me years ago by my father was: Give 60% to every relationship and expect 40% in return.  Of course Jon had only the best intentions when he decided to “assist” with random household chores like organizing the spice rack and re-arranging the Tupperware shelf.  However, what I really needed assistance with was putting Baby J to sleep, a foot massage, or a back scratch. 
I could not have been more grateful that my mom took off of work the second week of Jordan’s life. Although Jon was off during the first week, it had progressed in such a frenzied blur, as the first four days were spent in the hospital and the last three days we were home dealing with Jordan’s escalating jaundice levels.  During the second week, my mom consoled me as I cried to her about my cornucopia of post-pregnancy woes.  I think that very few new moms will ever admit to feeling some of the emotions that I experienced that first week.  However I think that it is important to explain what those feelings were, so women can have a better understanding of the blight of post-pregnancy hormones. 
In the beginning, I actually regretted having a baby.  Yes—you read that correctly—I actually regretted having my adorable little son.  Along with the compounding feelings of mourning my life and my marriage, a miniscule part of me wished that I could travel back in time and never have conceived.  Because I was now a mom, my first priority had transferred from me to him. I enjoyed my life and loved traveling on a whim and had a free-spirited pick-up-and-go attitude.  Now, I had another human being completely dependent on me for meeting his basic needs of survival and my own wishes and desires were forced to the back burner.  Since my moments of solace were few and far between, I actually found myself contemplating which basic need to achieve first when I did secure a free minute—should I eat, shower, sleep??
It is no surprise that Baby J ended up being very stubborn on the nature of napping.  For the first six weeks, he adamantly refused to close his eyes during the day and I had to endure hours upon hours of fussiness.  Eventually, I conjured a very involved rigmarole to lure him to sleep.  The napping recipe was as follows: 1. Swaddle a screaming, overtired baby in a straight-jacket looking apparatus, 2. Blast a hair dryer on the highest setting, 3. Shush him in my arms until crying ceases, 4. Place a dazed-looking baby into swing, 5. Jiggle the back of swing vigorously until baby passes out. 
I also felt extremely overwhelmed at the new responsibilities imposed by motherhood.  As if having a new baby is not enough to cause one to feel completely and undeniably subjugated, I had to learn how to operate baby gear.  Of course, I did not have time to quietly contemplate assembly of this new machinery, but everything had to be completed under the rapid fire of a screaming baby.  For instance, I had to learn how to remove the car seat out of the base of the car and into the stroller (and the stroller had its own, separate adaptor that had to be installed for the car seat to click into place!).  While I loathe assembly, I am not a wimpy person but the weight of the car seat plus baby seemed like an impossible maneuver.  No wonder so many moms have guns that can rival the arms of an accomplished body-builder!
During the first few weeks of motherhood, I experienced major insomnia.  The old adage of “sleep when the baby sleeps”, continually annoyed me when uttered by people who either had a baby thirty years ago or those who had not yet experienced parenthood.  An anxiety-producing sense of extreme responsibility and hyper-vigilance kept me awake throughout the night, even while Jordan slept.  I had such a difficult time unwinding and succumbing to sleep since I never knew when Jordan would awake crying and I would have to jump out of bed, 100% alert to care for his needs.  After about three weeks, my body and mind eventually adapted and I did sleep during the night while he slept. 
While I would definitely describe my first few weeks of motherhood, as experiencing something like the baby blues, I think that it is important to mention that I never had any thoughts of harming myself or my baby during that time period.  Many specialists agree that thoughts of endangering oneself or one’s baby are the defining factors in differentiating post-partum depression from the baby blues.  Prior to these feelings, I thought that post-partum depression was synonymous with the baby blues and did not distinguish between the two.  However, after discussing my feelings with other first time moms, I realized that the baby blues is extremely common, even in the most well-adapted and competent new mother. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Post-Partum Unit and Beyond

Talk about being thrown into a fire; totally blind-sided and unprepared for the unprecedented chaos.  I was handed this adorable little baby and had absolutely no clue what to do with him.  Naively, I had thought that my nurturing, motherly instincts would immediately kick into effect and I would have no trouble adapting to motherhood. 
Initially, the art of breastfeeding seemed such an insurmountable obstacle and a painful endeavor.  My new little baby appeared something akin to a parasitic leech, rather than a defenseless, little newborn.  Explosive cries emanated out of his little body and he bit into me with a ravenous determination.  During the second night of my hospital stay, and overcome with exhaustion, I literally tried to return him to the hospital.  Wheeling his bassinet into the hospital nursery, I seriously asked if they had any magical panacea to cease his infinite crying.  The night nurse looked at me like I had delivered both my baby as well as my brain, because apparently my head had been vacated.  After she sternly told me that there was nothing she could do, she pitied my frazzled state and offered to watch Baby J while I slept for a few hours.  Apparently, all sales were final. 
When it was finally time to be discharged, I felt as though I was being thrown into the world of motherhood with no instruction booklet or training manual.  The discharge nurse instructed me to sit in a wheelchair (although I had been walking around the floor for days now), with Baby J swaddled in a blanket on my lap, and Jon proudly striding beside us.  Obediently, I agreed to this picture-perfect looking happy-family procession.  However, in reality, my body was still aching from childbirth and my deflated stomach pancaked over my maternity sweatpants (not my size four skinny jeans, which I had packed just in case).  Also, Jon really needed the wheelchair more than I did, since he was dizzy from his own accumulated sleep deprivation and sleeping on a hospital couch for five nights (he had also managed to contract an allergic reaction from the harsh, hospital laundry detergent used to clean the bedsheets).  In light of how we were really feeling, we fabricated false smiles of happy newbie parents and continued our parade toward the exit. 
As soon as the valet pulled my car into the hospital driveway, the fa├žade quickly unraveled:  Jon and I had asked a friend to install the car seat a week earlier and we had both mistakenly thought that the other one had known how to use it.  Of course, when we tried to secure Baby J into the state-of-the-art, $400 contraption, neither of us knew how to operate the damn thing.  Poor Baby J, losing his patience with each failed attempt, succumbed to a red-faced temper tantrum as we fiddled with the straps of his car seat. Bystanders stared at our frazzled spectacle, wondering what on earth we were doing with this poor newborn.   A desperate Jon solicited total strangers, asking if anyone knew how to operate a Peg-Perego car seat.  When no solution sufficed, I ordered Jon to drive home slowly and safely.  I cradled my new baby close to my chest and prayed that our faces would not appear on the evening news.  Luckily, we eventually arrived home, intact and grateful.

Venturing into our own house also proved to be unfamiliar territory.  Little Jordan took one look at his new surroundings and spontaneously combusted into a meltdown.   Looking quite dapper in his carefully coordinated homecoming outfit, there was little I could do to quell his tempter.  How could someone in such a well-attired, monkey outfit behave in such an embittered fashion?  When Jon repeatedly commented that he was acting like an animal, I suggested that perhaps we should stop dressing him as such. 
Jon and I were befuddled and took turns playing hot potato with Baby J.  We learned quickly that despite the expensive baby furniture, creatively adorned wall decals, and cutesy baby toys, the only thing that acted as a remedy for Jordan’s fussiness was Mommy’s boobies.
Those first turbulent days at home were quite an adjustment for all of us.  My fluctuating hormones as well as Jordan’s moods were extremely erratic and unpredictable.  We devised all sorts of creative ideas to cease Baby J’s endless crying such as blasting a blow dryer (this sound supposedly mimics the sound of the womb), taking him outside for a change of scenery, and when all else failed--back to the boob…

Monday, August 15, 2011

Labor Pains

I am back by popular demand (well, I don't know about popularity, but a couple of my friends were quite demanding that I continue blogging again)!  So, since I have had ions of free time (in between raising a baby, working, being a wife, keeping a household in order, and trying to instill some semblance of sanity back into my life), I have continued journaling about my experiences as a new mother.  To not overwhelm my dear readers, I will post a new blog every few days in order to catch up on the past four months.  In doing so, I will attempt to censor my story, omitting graphic details and TMIs.  So, imagine what life was like four months ago....on April 11, 2011, to be exact, and read on for the full story of Jordan's entry into the world....

Labor Pains
This is not a drill, I sardonically thought to myself when my water broke for the second time, two days before my actual due date.  I was winding down from a rather busy weekend, in which I was feeling great: my energy had returned, the nesting instinct was in full effect, and I had spent the past two days enjoying the beach, movies, and my brother’s 30th birthday party.  
 Of course, I hoped for one more good night’s sleep before admitting myself to the hospital yet again.  However, as my luck would prevail, the minute I snuggled into bed at 11pm on Sunday night, my water broke for the second time in my pregnancy.  Just in case this was another false alarm, I crept into the bathroom, careful not to wake my sleeping husband, and called my doula.  She confirmed that this was in fact the real thing and I needed to go to the hospital in the next couple of hours, as I was experiencing irregular contractions.
When I woke up Jon, he bolted towards the garage door before the words had even passed my lips.  Since the last incident, in which I had teased him about primping like a woman, he was now lickity split, while I took my time leisurely showering, washing my hair, and preparing my last meal before a diet of ice chips.  Of course, when I was finally ready, Jon admitted that he didn’t think that he could drive me to the hospital, since he had taken a sleeping pill that night.  Grabbing the car keys, my zombie-husband, my birthing ball, and my bump, I drove us all to the hospital and was ready to finally meet the little stinker who had already given his mommy the torture treatment.
While it would have given me great pleasure to report that I delivered baby J as soon as I was admitted to the hospital, drug-free, pain-free, and extracted him out of the womb myself, that is not my life.  Once I was whisked off to triage, admitted, and checked into a room, the nurse informed me that my doctor had instructed me to sleep in the hospital that night, since my contractions were irregular.  After a rather sleepless night, my contractions were still irregular and the nurse implanted garvasol, an insert to induce labor.  Although she had instructed me to exercise extreme caution after the implantation, I horrifically discovered that the insert eventually journeyed into the long lost chasm of the hospital toilet bowl.  
Of course, my labor had still not progressed and my doctor decided it was time to call out the much-dreaded pictocin.  My mind immediately corroded of horror stories, told by friends who had received the big P.  One of my friends admitted to abusing her poor husband by throwing inadimate objects at his undeserving head; another friend hysterically screamed that the anesthesiologist wasn't moving fast enough, scaring the drug-monger out of the hospital room, never to return.  I feared the worst: unbearable pain was in my imminent future and my contractions would feel 100 times worse than the somewhat bearable bodily spasms I was now experiencing. 
I soon discovered that my fear was very real; the Pictocin magnified my contractions to such an extent that I vomited after each one.  Having no respite from the contractions and the repetitive puking, and after enduring eleven hours of labor, I eventually relented to the epidural.  After the anesthesiologist kicked my entourage out of the hospital room and administered the spinal injection, my pain quickly vanished.   Because of the epidural, I no longer felt as though I was in labor, in any type of pain, and could not even tell when I was experiencing a contraction. 
Prior to my labor, I was adamant that I did not want an epidural.  I did not want to be a prisoner of the hospital bed, but wanted to be free to roam around the room, exercising my contractions as calmly as the women in the birthing movies and pamphlets.  However, Jon reported that upon his re-emergence into the hospital room, I had a huge smile on my face.  During the seven more hours of labor, I was actually able to nap, watch TV, play scrabble, and carry on everyday conversations—some semblance of normalcy was restored. 
Ironically enough, my favorite part of the birthing process was when it finally became time for me to push.  My mom and doula each held one leg while Jon stood next to me, holding my hand.  I felt like I was about to cross the finish line of the longest marathon of my life and I had my own, personal cheering squad, urging me towards the final leg of my journey.  Also, I had not experienced a full cardiovascular exercise in months, and the endorphin/adrenaline rush of the momentum felt invigorating.  After an hour and a half of extreme pushing and cheering, Baby J erupted out of my body and was greeted by the world. 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

In B.E.D. with Tea

Disclaimer: The following information contains somewhat technical/boring informational material geared towards women in their third trimester of pregnancy.  If you were hoping to be entertained or enlightened by my misadventures, stay tuned for the next blog!

No, I am not sick nor am I having contractions.  I devised this little acronym to assist me in recalling the three important things that I need to ask my doctor during each office visit until my labor commences.  B.E.D. stands for: Baby Station, Effacement, and Dilation.  I also thought this acronym rather fitting since pregnancy is usually instigated with a woman being in bed and ends in bed (albeit a hospital birthing bed).  As I was recently informed, the components of B.E.D, are the three main indicators that specify when a woman is about to go into labor.  Please keep in mind that despite any of these factors, I am a living example that anything can go awry at any given point in time. 

The other night, when I met with my doula, she instructed me to ask my doctor about my B.E.D. progress.  Copiously, I scribbled notes and attempted to untangle her detailed description of each of the three components, but I was still quite lost.  When I turned to Jon for understanding, he was involved in a game of pet n' purr with Tiger and his face appeared equally blank.  So, when I waddled into my doctor's office on Thursday, I suddenly realized with a jolt -Omigosh I left my paper with questions in my car.  I felt like an irresponsible student who had forgotten her homework at home....In haste, I texted my doula--What were those three things again (and what do they mean?)?

Luckily, my doula was quick to respond and my doctor was able to give me the lowdown on Baby J's newest statistics.  I have discovered that here is an entire quadratic formula utilized in order to evaluate the labor and birthing process. As I have so expertly demonstrated thus far, the obstetrical community can measure, quantify, and qualify just about anything.  Yes, big brother has been watching over me and Baby J!

For all of my fellow preggers nearing the tail end of pregnancy, I will attempt to describe B.E.D. as well as exercises and routines that can assist in the progress.  For all of you non-preggers, but loyal blog followers, I apologize in advance for the overall dryness and technicalities of the following information. 

Firstly, baby station is the baby's location in relation to the mother’s pelvis and how low down the head is positioned.  This is measured by the relationship between the baby's head and the mother's sit bones.  The range is from -5 (floating, bouncing baby) to +5 (crowning or moment of extreme pain followed by immense relief).  This is usually measured by the practitioner via an internal exam during the last few weeks of pregnancy.  Supposedly, women whose babies have not properly descended feel immense pain when the doctor checks for the station, as it feels as though he is reaching upward, towards the tonsils.  My baby station is currently at -2, and like all expectant mothers, I would love to hop on the express train to the +5 station!

Effacement refers to the shortening of the cervix as the mother’s body readies itself for labor.  This is measured in percentages, ranging from 0-100.  My doula described effacement as an aligning of the cervix to the uterus; in which the cervix eventually becomes a part of the uterine wall, allowing the baby an easy passage downward (it helps me to visualize a zigzagging water slide which straightens out at the end, depositing its components into an awaiting pool).  When a woman is fully effaced, she can lose her mucus plug, which has so far acted as a sealant to the uterus and the outside world.  I am at 0% effacement, so clearly I have some work to do in this department.

Effacement is as equally important as dilation, although few people realize this.  According to my doula, women who are not effaced as they reach their due date are more likely to be induced, as their body refuses to labor on its own accord (the medicine administered in inductions can also lead to additional medical interventions, as contractions are usually severely heightened).   Pectocin, the main medication used for induction, contains a synthetic chemical, which is also present in semen.  This chemical helps launch the cervix into action, so it is actually advisable for women to get busy during this time, as sex has yet another added benefit!

Dilation is the most popular term, although not the most important, associated with childbirth.  Dilation is the process of the stretching or widening of the cervix, in order to accommodate the passageway of baby.  This is measured in centimeters, ranging from 1-10.  Until a woman is well into her third trimester, she should be 0 cm dilated and the number should gradually increase as labor progresses.  Supposedly, when a woman dilates, it feels similar to cramping and the contractions intensify.

A woman can choose to have an epidural around 4 cm and the window usually closes around 8 cm.  Again, according to my doula, women usually believe that 8 cm is the moment of extreme angst and pain, but she explained that the contractions do not intensify; the body just readies itself for the final stage in delivery.  As per my doctor's visit, I am only a "fingertip" dilated.  A woman is usually advised to go to the hospital around 4 cm or the cardinal rule of 5-1-1 (contractions are 5 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute, for a 1 hour duration).

As I previously mentioned, I have some work to do to help move my body along with the labor process.  My doula instructed me to walk at least twenty minutes a day and to perform 20 squats, and 20 lunges on each leg daily.  Since I have been on bed rest for two months, my muscles have greatly atrophied and prior to two weeks ago, I easily became short of breath.  Now, I have two weeks for my muscles to remember all of the hard work they accomplished prior to bed rest. 

And I almost forgot about my Red Raspberry Leaf Tea!  This tea is advisable for women to drink at the end of third trimester, as it is supposed to help strengthen the uterus for childbirth.  Red Raspberry Leaf Tea can be purchased at GNC, Whole Foods, or any natural market.  Like Popeye with his spinach, I am envisioning my uterus becoming so tough that it will eventually thrust out Baby J like a cannon ball. 

So, preggers, as you near your due date and the vaginal intrusions begin, don’t forget to ask your doc about your B.E.D progression and whether there is anything you can do to assist in expediting this process.  As I have learned throughout my pregnancy, I am the best advocate for myself and for my baby.  I would highly encourage others to adopt this approach at the onset of pregnancy, since you are carrying and protecting your most valuable, treasured asset. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Bamboozled Birthing Plan

On Friday evening, when Jon walked in from work, he adorned a huge smile on his face and told me that he had it all figured out.  "You have what figured out?" I demanded, eyeing him quizzically.  As he enjoyed keeping me in suspense and took ample time divulging his news, I couldn't help pondering what he was referring to.  Did he receive a promotion at work?  Did he unravel string theory and discover life on another planet?  Did he finally figure out how to fold the city mini baby stroller and move it into the garage?  Settling into the couch beside me, he calmly, yet seriously explained to me that he had contrived his very own birthing plan. 

Still skeptical, I responded: "Oh that thing I had you print out from Baby Center?  I already filled that out two weeks ago and it is in our hospital suitcase."  Of course, this was not what he was referring to...

Jon, my meticulous, organized, logical husband, devised a strategic timeline of events in which he planned for us to deliver our baby.  According to my dear husband, the imperatively mapped blueprint went as follows: "You will begin having contractions on Thursday, March 31st and I will take you to the hospital after work, after I meet my monthly quota;  On Friday, the baby will be delivered and I will have the entire weekend to spend with you in the hospital; On Monday, I will take my week of paternity and will return back to work promptly on Monday, April 11th." 

Questions, sardonic responses, and confusion simultaneously befuddled my pregnant brain.  I wondered: If I went into labor on Wednesday, did that mean that I would have to drive myself to the hospital, give birth, and have Baby J while Jon resumed work on Thursday to finish his quota?  What would happen if I actually had the baby on my due date (April 15th) and Jon had to miss the middle-end of April and he couldn't make his goal?  Would our new baby have a resentful daddy?  Of course, I immediately realized that my fears were null and void and Jon would be there whenever, wherever Baby J decided to emerge.  Yet, at the same time, I had to laugh at the irony of it all: With everything that we have been through these past two months, didn't we already accept the fact that the rest of our lives would no longer be based on a delineated sequence of events?

As previously stated, I have learned throughout this entire process is that it is oftentimes futile to plan and control our lives.  Also, the emergence of a new being further complicates the plot.  While I told Jon that I was OK with his contrivance, I indicated that there was now a third party in the picture and I didn't know if all was copacetic on his end.  Baby J has already demonstrated a fair amount of indecisiveness in his unborn life as he initially thought that he wanted to debut two months ago, then decided to remain in mommy's incubator.  Also, my contractions began at 30 weeks and then abruptly ended at 36 weeks.  Now, at just over 37 weeks, Baby J is fully cooked and this is usually the time when contractions become more intense.  My body is showing zero signs of going into labor and I am starting to think that my unborn child may have to be forced out of his protective womb. 

This morning, when I had my ultrasound, I once again explained to the technician that Baby J is not a morning person and enjoys keeping me awake at night with his dare-devilish acrobatics.  When she responded that I better find a way to change that pattern quickly, I could do nothing but laugh.  Again, another person under the wrongful assumption that I can just press a button on my remote control and TIVO Baby J to play at a more suitable time.  While I have purchased a pile of baby books on healthy sleep patterns and so on, I have already learned that I will be unable to operate my baby like a machine. 

For now, my only birthing plan is to eventually coerce this little rugrat out of my body and into the world.  I continue to live my life on a day by day basis, and wonder each evening if tonight will be the night...Although Baby J is still in the 12th percentile in terms of weight, he is now approximately 5 lbs, 11ozs and continues to pass his biophysical profiles with flying colors.  Jon and I completed his nursery this weekend and the monkeys are all hanging around, waiting expectantly for their honored king of the jungle.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Dumb and Dumber: Politically Incorrect Pregnancy Comments

If I had a baby each time somebody felt the need to comment on my pregnancy, I would have produced enough offspring to double the entire population of the United States.  The comments began when I first disclosed my pregnancy, then simmered down while I was in the hospital and people had restricted access to my baby bump.  Now, that I am completely off parole, the comments are so out of control I sometimes feel the urge to re-admit myself to the hospital and seek refuge in a dark utility closet until Baby J shows his little face.

At the dentist's office this morning, the questioning commenced when the receptionist asked if I had my baby yet.  I had to do a double take of my protruding bump before seriously answering her, just in case Baby J accidentally fell out in the parking lot.  Not sure how to respond, I pointed down to my stomach and answered: "nope, he's still in there...."  When the hygienist called me in, her eyes practically bulged out of their sockets as she too was overcome with an intense need to comment: "Wow--you look like you are about to pop any second!"  For the duration of the cleaning, I was praying that my water didn't break all over her sterile station, contaminating the numerous dental devices. 

Last week, while I was waiting in the doctor's office for my sonogram, a nosey soon-to-be grand-mother began an endless tirade of questions regarding my pregnancy.  As I tried to answer her questions in a rather subdued and conservative manner, she simply could not restrain herself from asking: "Do you know that your whole life is about to drastically change?" Dumbfounded, I could do nothing but look at her, without acknowledging her response in a less-than respectful manner.  Instead, I caustically thought: Really lady?  Thank you so much for alerting me to this unprecedented news flash.  Before you unveiled this secret, I had absolutely no idea whatsoever that I am about to be thrown into a completely foreign world, in which I will I have to be available around the clock to care for an infant...

The other day, while I was getting my haircut, the stylist informed me that I looked really pregnant.  After I confirmed that I was indeed over nine months pregnant, she continued to quizzically look at me as though I should be locked away in a sort of pregnant convent.  I had no prior knowledge that at nine months, my hair cut privileges would be revoked due to displaying anything other than a miniscule baby bump.  I thought, if I don't look really pregnant now, at what point would my body suddenly metastasize itself into this spectacle?  Also, when I was first pregnant, nobody ever told me that I looked a little pregnant and luckily they knew better than to tell me I looked a little fat....

When I was about four month's pregnant, one of my colleagues told me that I had "pregnant face".  Caught somewhere between wanting to correct her grammar of neglecting to use the preposition "a" and taking offense, I was rendered speechless.  As implied, "pregnant face" was simply a symptom of the pregnancy virus.  Another colleague asked me if I was sure there was only one baby in there, as my bulging stomach dared to explode out of my dress.  For a few weeks, I remained in a state of mortification that I had put on so much weight so quickly and wondered if maybe the ultrasound technician had overlooked another baby....

Really people??  Is it that difficult to think of a somewhat flattering remark to say to a pregnant woman? Just in case, I have compiled a list of politically correct, acceptable comments (I have to express my gratitude to friends and family for providing me with some of these positive remarks):

1.  You are carrying so well (as opposed to you look like the Goodyear blimp)
2.  Your hair looks so shiny or your skin is glowing!
3.  You hardly look like you've gained any weight
4.  You have the cutest little belly (thank you, nurse Sharon!)
5.  Omigod, you are hardly showing!
6.  You look like you are seven months pregnant, not nine (much credit to my mom, who is usually brutally honest). 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

36 Weeks and Getting Ready to Shed my Fat Suit!

Incubation Baby made it to 36 weeks--a HUGE milestone!!  Yesterday, my doctor finally unlocked my jail cell, handing me the keys back to my old life.  As he instructed me to move around with caution and stay close to home, I strategized about planning the numerous opportunities, once again within my grasp (regular doctors appointments, dentist, haircut, organizing my nursery, nesting)!  No longer do I have to depend on my mom and my husband to be at my beck and call--I can even drive within a five mile radius of my house! 

Now that I am able to roam around freely, I have noticed that my body is vastly different compared to when I was first admitted to the hospital.  Baby J is now the size of a watermelon and my protruding belly is no picnic.  Small endeavors such as doing laundry or washing dishes leave me panting and exhausted.  Between two month's of extremely limited activity and accumulating extra weight, my physical endurance is a far cry from what it was a few months ago.  Yesterday, I looked at my reflection in the mirror and asked: Who is this person and what has she done with my figure? 

Like Gweneth Paltrow's character in the movie Shallow Hal, I feel like I am trapped inside a fat suit. Any day now, I expect my old self to suddenly emerge when I shed my extra layer like one of Baby J's zippered onesies.  Since I have been on bed rest for so long, I have not gradually acclimated to my shifting form and continually miscalculate the new parameters of my body.  Last night, not accurately calculating the proximity of my desk to the closet, my belly swept over the desk, knocking off half the contents.  These past couple of days, after I have administered Tiger's eye drops, I cannot lift my body from the floor and have had to crawl to the nearest piece of furniture in order to hoist myself upright.  Whenever Jon is home, he acts as my human fork lift and in turn, receives his daily workout.   

Baby J seems as though he is outgrowing his confines as well.  I have begun noticing tiny little limbs, hands, and feet stretching my belly to its utmost capacity.  His movements have become less frequent, but when they do occur, I fear that he is going to tear through my skin like Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  Baby Bonaparte better be at least five pounds when I return to the perinatologist on Monday or else...!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Purrrfect Parenting?

If mothering my cat is any indication of the type of mother that I will be to my son, then, I will probably be an obsessive, over-protective worry-wart.  As I have stated before, prior to adopting Tiger, I was indifferent to most animals and even slightly annoyed if someone's dog drooled down my leg or wouldn't cease barking.  Never having pets growing up, I really did not comprehend the whole people/animal connection and was never truly empathetic on the topic of animals.

Now, with Tiger, Jon and I would sacrifice almost anything for his health and well-being--if Tiger is only a cat how will we be with our only son??  For the past two days, I have been mothering my little powder puff and pieces of my heart break away each time I see him in pain.  With each eye drop, he squeaks a little yelp of protest and then five minutes later, I have to administer another drop.  When Baby J is sick, Jon will probably muster all of his energy to not have me committed to the asylum.  Because of that damn cyborg cone wrapped around Tiger's head, his whiskers are confined, and he now has difficulty sensing spaces,  jumping, and eating and drinking (for those of you unfamiliar with cats, whiskers are a cat's sixth sense and act as another pair of eyes to help guide them).  I have attempted to wrap him up in a kitty burrito to spoon feed him, but he is already so freaked out with my numerous medical interventions, I doubt he is eating enough.  Flash-forward to a few weeks from now--is Baby J receiving enough breast milk??

Five years ago, when Jon had to say goodbye to Smokey-the-Satanical Kitty for the sake of our matrimonial harmony, I did not understand the urgency when he called me on my cell phone demanding to know my whereabouts.  I had promised that I would meet him at his apartment as soon as he returned from the vet and was running an hour and a half late.  I had insensitively explained that I went to the gym, had to run errands, etc. etc and I would be there eventually.  Poor Jon had to return to an apartment devoid of both his cat and his unsympathetic girlfriend.  I never comprehended that grieving an animal is so similar to grieving a person.

Jon also had his share of fathering his cat, as Smokey had numerous behavioral issues.  Before I met him, Smokey went through a period of anorexia and Jon had the vet install a feeding tube in his throat.  Each morning, afternoon, and evening, Jon liquefied cat food and poured it down Smokey's feeding tube.  Until one night, Smokey began choking on the contraption, Jon haphazardly ripped it out, and that was the end of the kitty-starvation-fiasco.  Smokey was eventually prescribed Prozac and other medications, but sadly, nothing could curtail his mentally deranged personality. 

Whether feline friend or foe, cats are family and can often be as helpless as infants.  Jon and I commented last night that because of our cat-parenting skills, we should be somewhat competent at parenting an infant.  Since I have not been able to meet the vet in person, we have developed a phone correspondence and he commented that "Tiger is lucky to have a good mommy."  With my daily assault of incessant questions regarding Tiger's numerous ailments, I was shocked that he actually thought I was a good mother, and not a cat-crazed-lunatic.  Now, if only I could find a pediatrician who is patient enough to deal with my constant harangue of questions and worrisome behavior....

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Misadventures of Tiger the Cat

Call it mother's intuition but I inherently knew that Tiger's newest eye infection was not something to be ignored.  Since December, Jon and I have taken Tiger to a slew of different vets and have treated him with multiple antibiotics and eye drops.  Eventually, our last vet threw up his arms in exasperation and referred us to a cat optometrist.  Of course during my hospital confinement, bed rest, and complicated pregnancy this priority trickled down our to-do list until poor Tiger absolutely needed medical attention. 

Yesterday, Sheldon (AKA Tiger's fairy god-father), drove Tiger to the kitty optometrist.  Three hundred dollars and five prescriptions later, the vet explained why Tiger has had repeated infections--basically, as I have told my husband numerous times, we had been treating the symptoms, not the underlying cause.

As loving and sweet-natured as a cat can be, it turns out that Tiger is also a little white furball of an unhealthy handful.  Where to begin.....Firstly, he has a scratched cornea in one eye, which usually intensifieses when his eye is infected.  Although we thought that we were treating his eyes with topical ointment, he continued to paw away, which resulted in an ulcer, on top of the scratched cornea.  The vet also diagnosed him with feline herpes (which thank god cannot be transferred to humans) and Bartonella virus (aka cat scratch disease).  Luckily, I am now on partial bed rest, because my new role is feline nurse extraordinaire as well as human incubator--I have to administer three eye drops six times a day and two oral antibiotics twice a day. 

Because Tiger is prone to scratching at his eyes, he has to wear the cone of shame over his head for a one week duration.  However, this presents yet another challenge and I am sure anyone familiar with Persian cats can relate to this conundrum--how is he supposed to eat and drink with his flat little face??  This morning, I spoon-fed Tiger wet food doused with water and he was able to eat a little but I am worried that he is not ingesting enough water.  Anybody have any ideas on how a cone-headed-Persian can eat and drink independently? I am currently waiting for the vet to return my call.  Also, can anybody recommend a good pet insurance for cats??

Now, I definitely feel for all of the bed rest mothers who have other children at home!!  Between Tiger the Cat and Baby J, I certainly have my hands full.  If I didn't know any better, I would say that my two little boys are vying for my attention...

Monday, March 14, 2011

Baby Bonaparte

I embarked on another fieldtrip today to the exciting office of the perinatologist.  This was the prized appointment, in which I had screamed, threatened, and cried, in order to obtain.  My histrionics were well, well worth the effort and let it be known to other pregnant women that a touch of pregnant theatrics is sometimes necessary to garner the attention of others. 

The doctor informed me that my body is not poisoning Baby J or presenting any other toxic, life-threatening barricades to his arrival.  Every morose condition, which surfaced when I googled the words "PROM" and "placenta previa", do not apply to me or Baby J.  As a matter of fact, I was shocked when the US tech said that my placenta was 5 cm away from my cervix!  During my entire stay in the hospital, my placenta gravitated back and forth, barely 2 cm away from my cervix.  So, this means that I am most likely able to have a natural birth and no longer have to worry about pushing for twenty-three hours before being whisked away into a c-section. 

It turns out that Baby J liked the doctor and sonographer as much as I did, because he was more than willing to cooperate on his bio-physical and scored a super-duper, A+++ (8/8 in all four areas).  Although his lips were slightly parted, he did not feel inclined to stick out his tongue and made his mommy and grandma proud by demonstrating good manners.  Also, he did not feel the need to play flasher-baby and kept his jewels hidden.  We were all thoroughly entertained with his baby olympics performance and the sonographer even commented that he is a "very active baby" and not a "lazy baby" as the other tech stated on Friday. 

While Baby J appeared to be in excellent condition, the doctor does want to continue to monitor his weight, as he is only 4 lbs, 12 oz and is in the thirteenth percentile.  Every Monday, until I deliver, Baby J will be weighed and evaluated.  Sadly, the five pounds that I have accumuated since being home have not re-routed their way into my uterus.  Also, I was taken off of total bedrest and have now graduated to partial bedrest--celebration!!  After the doctor took his time explaining everything in great depth and detail, my mom and I were so overcome with gratitude it is amazing that neither of us proposed marriage.

So, in conculsion, my theory-of-the-day is that Baby J has a Napoleon complex.  Due to his teeny-tiny status, that he was worried he would not be taken seriously during gestation.  So, five weeks ago, he decided to throw a temper tantrum and let it be known to the world that he has a larger-than-life personality.  Like most men, he did not anticipate the consequences of his actions, which lead to the imprisonement of mommy and the anxiety of daddy.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Hello Again Dear Hospital

The labor and delivery unit of Memorial Regional Hospital would start charging me rent, if they weren't already billing exorbitant amounts to my insurance company.  Yesterday, Jon and I uneventfully embarked on our third excursion to l&d.  I use the word "uneventfully" only because neither of us were too concerned anything was really wrong.  However, after a series of events which transpired on Thursday and Friday, I was peer-pressured to return to the hospital for monitoring. 

Firstly, let it be known to all that it is a fact that once a woman is well into her third trimester, the fetal movements appear to decrease, as the baby has little room to wiggle around and his body is usually squished against his mother's organs.  He is still squirming, dancing, and partying inside, but to the unknowing first time mother, something has gone horribly astray and this warrants immediate attention. 

Every night, as soon as our cat hears the garage door opening, signaling that Jon is home, he begins the crazy-cat-cry spectacle, which lasts until Jon retrieves the mail and makes his grand entrance.  Usually, as soon as Tiger recuperates, Baby J begins his nightly gymnastics routine for his daddy and all is well.  Well, on Thursday night, Baby J must have had performance anxiety and refused to follow Tiger's opening act.  When Jon and I noticed this decrease in activity, we were concerned, but not yet alarmed, as this has happened before.

On Friday, I had some friends over from work and I was happily fed mass quantities of cheesecake and chocolate cake.  Expecting Baby J to be overcome with enthusiasm and to spontaneously burst into song and dance, I was disappointed when the little guy only reacted with a few sluggish movements.  A couple of hours later, while I was undergoing my weekly ultrasound in my doctor's office, little bugger refused to cooperate yet again!  He scored high on the breathing, AFI, and heartbeat, but other than a few slight manuevers, would not budge.  After shoveling more candy and sugar down my throat, the tech, me, and my mom watched as he again opened and closed his mouth, sticking his tongue out--mocking us!  And I have to say, I really did take offense when the tech commented that I had a "lazy baby" since most of the other babies that she sees in this stage move around their confines quite well. 

On the way home, my mom and I, now both nervous, stopped for more sugar-induced ice cream and he still barely moved!  That night, I monitored his kick counts, and although he passed ten kicks in one hour, his movements were still lethargic.  Yesterday morning, my mom called the house and strongly encouraged us to call the doctor.  Afraid of hearing about the re-emergence of her devastating eye tick once again (she now has acquired a post-nasal drip and cough), we called the doctor and he instructed us to go to l&d, just to be on the safe side. 

Everyone in the triage/l&d unit appear to know me on a first name basis.  Jon and I are so accustomed to the drill--valet car in main entrance, check-in downstairs, present ID bracelet to security on the second floor, then head to the triage department on the left (I am going to start providing hospital tours to expectant mothers complete with informal introductions to all of the nurses).  Anyhoo....the nurses hooked me up to the monitors for an hour, of course, baby's non-stress test looked beautiful, and we were free to be on our merry way.  Once I escaped near-imprisonment once again, I thanked Baby J for allowing his befuddled mother to blissfully return to house arrest. 

While we were there, the triage nurse further explained to me that if I had been eating more food than normal, my enlarged stomach was another factor in diminishing the baby's movements.  I neglected to tell her about the mass quantities of cake, ice cream, and sugar I had ingested as well as the fact that my pregnant, Ethiopian-esque figure was long gone since being discharged.  She also gave me my own pair of monitoring bands, since I have exhausted the hospital's supply (they cost a whopping $10), and advised me to hold on to them for my return visit (let's hope that will not be for another few weeks!).  During my brief stay, I encountered one of my antepartum nurse buddies, was able to distribute another knifty knitter hat to one of my fellow incubators, and donated the enormous stack of magazines and books I compiled for the mother's-in-waiting.  So, I guess my visit wasn't a total loss after all....

Of course, the second that we arrived home, Baby J began with his usual daily ritual of kicking and punching my ribcage, internal organs, and sitting on my bladder.  We have since decided that we are adding another two months to his grounding period.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Broken Down Bump

A few months ago, there was a news story that featured a motorized couch on wheels, invented by students.  At the time, I thought that college students could be quite moronic to design a concept which endorsed a lazy, couch potato society.  However, I would now do anything to be the proud owner of that ambulatory couch!  Idiotic college students: You have found your niche market! Imagine the wide world of opportunities a couch on wheels could present to bed rest preggers!  For one, we could venture outside, wheel around the block, without the fear of a baby falling out en route.  We could couch surf into restaurants, nail salons, the movies, even the beach and still be abiding by our doctors' strict bedrest ordinances.   

The other morning, I drenched my shirt in coffee, but patiently sat on my couch for an hour before my bladder was full and I had an actual excuse to move, without breaking protocol.  Yesterday,  I accidentally knocked my water bottle over, and could do little but stare as water gushed onto my hardwood floors (at least it wasn't water gushing out of my body!).  To make matters even worse, I no longer had any water to quickly fill my empty bladder and had zero excuse to peel body and bump from couch.  So, for a half hour, my eyes bore into the water-drenched wood, utilizing Jedi mind tricks, compelling it not to warp.  Eventually, my cat discovered this fascinating mini-water park and by then, I realized I literally needed to throw in the towel, full bladder or not.

I know that someday I will barely remember that I spent the last two months of pregnancy confined to couch and bed.  However, for this short glitch in my otherwise busy existence, my life is lived from the perspective of a couch potato, complete with a sack of potatoes in my tummy.  Sometimes, others sit alongside me, and other times I find ways to distract myself, even if it involves a daft, pathetic attempt at naming the fleeting squirrels in my backyard. 

Last night, my husband gave me a congratulatory pat on the back and commended me on "doing well" these past couple of days (I have not had a pregnant meltdown in three days--woo hoo!).  As he distributed a forehead kiss with a proverbial gold star sticker, I neglected to tell him that these past few days have really been quite uneventful and the feral animals living outside are now my dear confidants.

Unfortunately, my couch has not been hampered with by college students and my broken-down bump continues to remain in a stationary, horizontal limbo until I receive the green light out of the premie danger zone.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I Love my Girls!

And no--I am not referring to the two growing mounds on my chest that will provide nourishment to Baby J, but I am talking about my actual girlfriends!  Since I have been on bed rest for over a month, I have continually blogged about how stressful this situation has been for both my mother and my husband, who have shouldered the majority of my burdens.  I don't think that I have given enough credit to my girlfriends, as well as the countless other women in my life who have all been mothering this soon-to-be mother. 

A few days ago, I experienced another meltdown, when I called my doctor's office to request a referral to the perinatologist.  The receptionist informed me that my doctor had a death in his family, would be out of town for at least one week, and she was unable to complete my referral request without his consent.  Well, when I heard this news, I did what any high-risk, hormonal, pregnant woman would do--I completely majorly, flipped the hell OUT. 

I had no nifty nurse call button to press for assistance, no exercise regimen to turn to, no vitamin P to pop--it was just me, my house, and a freaked out cat, now hiding under my bed.  In need of ASAP crisis intervention, I frantically called my girlfriends and sobbed about all of my fears, anxieties, issues, etc.  They listened to me seriously as though I was not a bona fide lunatic and helped me devise a plan to self-advocate.  After numerous phone calls, and pleading, I finally scheduled an appointment with the perinatologist which is scheduled for next Monday. 

Yesterday, my amazing girlfriends came over and helped me assemble baby gear, organized the nursery, laundered clothes, and even successfully completed the daunting task of shopping at Babies R Us.  Everyday, I have been fortunate enough to have at least one well-wishing-woman find some way to make my house arrest more bearable.  Instead of a single pre-baby extravaganza, I have had hours of showers in which I have received food, chocolate, gifts, counseling, and much needed words of encouragement.  

People keep reminding me that when I do finally have Baby J, my husband will always be my first baby.  However, without the support of the women in my life, I don't think that I would have escaped the loony bin in my present situation.  Girlfriends are truly a lifelong investment and I am not selling off my stocks in this lifetime.  True, my immediate family will be comprised of my husband and son, who I will undeniably love and cherish, but my girlfriends will always remain an integral, necessary part of my foundation.   

Love you girls!!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Male Shopping Syndrome

Before I launch into yet another saga about how my husband does not understand my severe nesting urges, I must give credit where credit is due.  On Friday, I completely forgot that it was our five year anniversary until Jon arrived home with beautiful white roses.  I have been feeling so frustrated and helpless, doing little but ordering him around with unrelenting demands and constructing to-do lists since I returned home from the hospital.  In his efforts to appease me, he has kept the kitchen immaculate, has kept up with all of our laundry, and has been following all of my anal-retentive house rules that are forever drilled in his head.  Now, to entertain my loyal readers as well as document a typical marital moment, read on....

After my morning to-do list was completed, I sent Jon to purchase monkey bedding, wall borders, a window valance, amongst other important items (diapers, burp cloths, receiving blankets) at both Buy Buy Baby and Babies R Us.  When I initially completed my registry, I did not plan on being on bed rest and did not think it would be problematic that these two stores are located in completely opposite directions (one in Aventura and the other in Coral Springs).  Jon, who carefully calculates a systematic, pragmatic approach to most things in life did not think that it was logical to visit both stores in one day.  Whereas I, on the other hand, tend to be slightly impulsive, energetic, and would have gladly traveled to two opposite ends of the universe to go shopping.

Our disagreement resulted in a slight bicker-fest that left both of us feeling quite exasperated and frustrated.  Then, in Jon's haste, he looked up directions to Toys R Us, not Babies R Us and had to travel an even further distance.  When he finally reached his destination, he suffered a bout of male-shopping-syndrome, in which he was suddenly overcome with disorientation and panic.  Between the fluorescent lights, pregnant women, screaming infants, and baby paraphernalia , Jon's internal calculator went haywire.  In a frantic phone call, he relayed that the store was too crazy/dirty, the sales people unhelpful, and he was unable to locate a single item on our carefully constructed list of "immediate things for baby".  He eventually returned home empty handed, with the exception of an additional car seat base, in a beat up returned box (which happened to be on the "eventual things for baby" list).

Jon and I have varying expectations on the immediate needs of a newborn.  Logically, we need the bare minimum to maintain Baby J's survival--food (aka my breasts), shelter, clothes, and diapers.  While I believe that the nursery should be completed before we bring home baby, Jon's number one priority is not picking out monkey bedding or wall borders.  After complaining to my mom yet again about my incapacitated state, she courageously volunteered to be our personal nursery interior designer and is now scouring the universe for all things monkey (although I may be tempting my mother to flee the country, I sincerely hope that she does not embark on a trip to Costa Rica at the present moment).

With everything else, I chalk this up as another lesson in relinquishing complete control.  That being expressed, I am still saddened by not being able to nest or decorate Baby J's room to my liking.  As Jon said this morning, my immediate priority is incubating baby while his is taking care of his pregnant wife.  So, from my eternal stance on the couch, I continue to look at the white roses and view them as little white flags of surrender....

Friday, March 4, 2011

To Birth or Not to Birth?

There are two types of women in the world: Those who have been through the torturous, unfathomable pains of childbirth and those who remain in blissful ignorance.  Currently, I am a member of the latter group and am absolutely terrified of my initiation ritual, desperately trying to bide my time.  Although I have read scores of books and articles, asked numerous questions to my inducted friends, and have tried to garner as much information on the planet about the process, I cannot truly know what childbirth will entail until I experience it firsthand.

As I remain on bed rest, I can't peel my eyes away from the baby shows on TLC, in which the newbie mothers all appear to have vastly different experiences.  I wonder: Will I be the hysterical, screaming woman, whose eyes threaten to bulge out of their sockets? Will I be the calm, ethereal woman who can practice ritualized breathing, meditation, and an I-am-on-the -beach-not-in-the-most-excruciating-pain-of-my life self-guided imagery?  Or, will I be the woman who self-righteously denies all drugs until the pain becomes so intolerable that she is screaming for the maximum legal limit??  My husband thinks that I will be a member of group #3, but his theory is quite unsubstantiated, as he has never before been a spectator in delivery-room sports (he also used to think that Baby J would simply just emerge out of my metamorphosed belly button).

My initiated friends are completely split down the fence in terms of their own, personal, labors of love. Some of my friends relish in the thrill of sitting around a campfire, reliving traumatic stories to unsuspecting novices of their birthing horrors.  Some simply shrug off the experience, as though it is an everyday outing to the grocery store; instead of bringing home 8 pounds of groceries, they picked up an 8 pound baby.  Other gal-pals have endured twenty-two hour marathons, while some almost had their baby delivered in their car en route to the hospital.  With the way that my husband drives, I may simultaneously experience both the twenty-two hour marathon as well as giving birth in our Honda. 

As women living in the United States, we are barraged with numerous options and decisions in terms of creating and managing our own, unique birthing plan.  Although these options are supposed to empower us, they are little more than a false illusion of control, as many other factors can contribute to necessary, but unplanned medical interventions. Before Baby J decided to launch into action two month's early, I had my own expectations on how I would deliver. 

After diligently researching the effects of an epidural, I decided that I did not want to be a rotisserie chicken, cooking away in the strict confines of the bed until baby popped out.  I craved freedom, and wanted the ability to move around the hospital, utilizing my birthing ball, walking around the delivery room floor, proactive in all of the labor poses that I could muster.  I signed up for a hypno-birthing class, with hopes that I could utilize self-hypnosis as a means to transport my mind somewhere far, far away.  Also, I hired a doula, or professional labor coach, to alleviate some of my anxiety and discomfort as well as my husband's.  Quite ironically, I have already experienced being chained to the hospital bed, all limbs fully incapacitated, hooked up to IVs and other contraptions.  Also, since I have been diagnosed with questionable placenta previa, there is a good chance that I may need a cesarean after all.

Each night, before I go to bed, I wonder if tonight will be my initiation ritual.  I have not drafted a carefully manuscripted birthing plan to distribute to the nursing staff, I never had the chance to take the highly anticipated hypno-birthing class so I will be unable to disconnect my mind from my body, and my doula will probably flee the delivery room, husband in tow, at the first sight of my head spinning around, exorcist style.  However, in the end, I will be 100%, fully ingrained as a lifelong member of the tribe.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Probation Station

So, as I eventually developed a routine within the hospital, I now must develop my own routine at home.  I desperately want coffee this morning, but Jon has already departed for work, and I no longer have my nifty nurse call button dangling from my bed.  I may have to forgo my morning cup of joe or wait until I venture into the kitchen for lunch.  Although I am the proud pet owner of Tiger the Super Cat, his abilities are quite limited.  I will gladly sacrifice coffee and will take all of the purring and snuggling I can get!

Ideally, Jon would like to find an ankle bracelet which administers an electric shock each time I am on my feet for more than a one minute duration.  When he realized the anklet bracelet was impossible to find, he suggested buying an electric fence at Pets Mart, which would zap me each time I attempt to enter restricted territory.  I informed him that I was done being tortured for another few weeks and my next feat would be the actual labor process.

If one more person tells me that I need to stay off my feet, they are not getting past my security gate at the front of my development.  Believe me--I do not want to end up back in the hospital and I desperately want to carry Baby J full term.  Being on hospital bed rest is truly a test of character and strength--and to be honest I don't know if I completely Aced that test (I had many questionable moments).  However, I will say that I have so much respect for the women whom I encountered both in the hospital as well as the online community.  Many of my counterparts have been on hospital bed rest for months, without any hope of going home before baby.  My hearts and thoughts are with these courageous women, who I know will soon be AMAZING mothers.  

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Homecoming (And No More PROMS!!!!)

When I walked into my house yesterday for the first time in three weeks, everything felt like a novelty.  Tiger, practically falling outside as we opened the front door, was beyond excitement until my squeal of delight at glimpsing his squishy face scared him into running in the opposite direction.  Eventually, when things were settled, he resumed his normal position at my feet, just like old times.

As I settled onto my couch, my mom helped create a probation station, arranging everything in arm's reach, magazines, kindle, computer, waters, snacks, etc....My flat screen TV looked colossal compared to the hospital's and I marveled at all of the shows Jon had Tivoed in my absence.  I desperately wanted to walk into the nursery, view the new lawn furniture in the backyard, inspect my kitchen for cleanliness, but I relented, vowing not to go anywhere in my house that is not absolutely necessary (ie. bathroom).

When Jon returned home from work, I prioritized my numerous demands and just asked for the basics: food and water, in which he happily obliged.  He went to the market on his way home from work and filled our fridge with all of my favorites--no more tragic Greek salads or French toast surprises.  Last night, as I readied for bed, I realized that I had even missed my electric toothbrush, my full length mirror, my shower!!!  As I viewed my pregnant body full length for the first time in weeks, I gasped--who was this emaciated figure with a giant pineapple in her stomach?  Although I had read about other women losing weight on bed rest, I did not think that I would be one of them--I was enjoying way too much chocolate and sweets.  However, as I stared at my Ethiopian-pregnant-esque image, it looked like my stomach had literally sucked the meat from all of the other parts of my body.  I looked like a bowling ball with protruding limbs!

I snuggled into bed next to hubby and relished in the peacefulness, no more monitoring, no more waking up for vital checks every couple of hours, no more needles threatening to invade my skin.  Just a purring Tiger nestled in between us....

Monday, February 28, 2011

I Caught a Case of the Crazies!

I am a total wreck today--and let me just specify--I don't feel like any ordinary, fender-bender collision, but more like a commercial jet plane catastrophe.  Imagine a pregnant woman, in solitary confinement, two night's sleep deprived, completely dependent on everyone else for her physical and emotional survival.  Today, I am envious of those women.

Now imagine Yours Truly--this is my third attempt at being released on probation and I am anxiously still awaiting my doctor's interpretation of my test results from this morning.  I am simultaneously crashing, hallucinating, and twitching from all of the sugar I have ingested since 6 am this morning (my 5 month glucose tolerance test does not hold a flame to the present situation at hand).  If you still can't conjure my Night of the Living Dead reference, add the following components: crazy sugar high bed rest preggers on steroids+possibly false illusion of hope+anxiety ridden with intermittent hot flashes from pg hormones+staring at the same four walls for three weeks.  The outcome equals a not-so-pretty picture.  

Everything is making me cry today: I sobbed when I didn't receive the nurse I requested and started a mini-revolt with the nursing staff; tears erupted when I did not receive my whole wheat French toast as requested, and after I received a less-than perfect score on my ultrasound, the crazies were finally unleashed (how did I not receive a grade A?)  After I cried on the phone to my mom, she consolingly suggested that I request to the nurse (who by then decided to ignore my calls) a soothing cup of chamomile tea.  Chamomile tea was not gonna cut it...

So, I am armed, ready, and dangerous to confront Doctor Conservative that at 33.3 weeks, it is totally normal for a baby to fail the four-minute breathing section of the test.  However, like always, his professional rationale will ultimately conquer my feeble, twenty-minute Google attempt.  I am trying to anticipate his daily visit, in which he will tell me yet again to hang in there, pat my feet, and bid adieu until tomorrow.  As I try and try to imagine this scenario over a celebratory I-get-to-go-home-victory-bed dance, I know that there is nothing that I can do to prepare myself for the inevitable tears once again.  

My only hope is that this time around, the nurses won't transfer me to a padded room, revoke my good patient privileges, and I will eventually find a cure for the crazies....

Another Jail Break Attempt?

Why have I been up since 4am downing water, coffee, and every processed sugary item in my jail cell?  Why is my IPhone strategically positioned on my tummy, blaring 80's rock music?  I have another ultrasound scheduled at 7am and this baby needs to be up and moving.  He doesn't just need to be awake, he needs to be training for the baby Olympics, because this morning's ultrasound could possibly be his poor mother's last chance at FREEDOM!!

I am beginning to despise that damn proverbial carrot that has been looming over my head for the past week.  Is it healthier to just accept the fact that I will be hospitalized indefinitely until the arrival of Baby J or to have constant glimmers of hope every few days that I may possibly be released on house arrest?  

On Friday, my hopes and dreams were viciously shattered as baby J absolutely refused to cooperate and is already displaying acts of defiance (shouldn't he wait until he is a teenager for that phase?)  In a nutshell, my AFI (amniotic fluid level index) have been stable, since I have been admitted.  Because of this, my doctor thinks that my premature rupture sealed over (which is great news, but a pretty rare occurrence once the water breaks). On Friday, if my AFI had again been stable, I was to be released.  However, as many of you know, that was not the case.

Three days ago, I woke up ten minutes before the arrival of the sonographer and was probably a little dehydrated, with no food or sugar in my system (maybe I am rationalizing the outcome?) .  When she measured my AFI, she could not get a good read because Baby J was fast asleep and REFUSED to move out of the way.  In last-minute desperation, I devoured five tootsie rolls, blasted my IPhone in hopes that he would start dancing, and the US tech even administered a bit of shock therapy with her mini-buzzer.  I watched in both horror and fascination as his only response was a languorous opening of his mouth, expressing an I-couldn't-care-less yawn, ending with sticking his tongue out rebelliously (both the sonographer and tech laughed hysterically but I did not share their humor).  Needless to say, my AFI levels (9% compared to a stable 12%) were not up to par and doc ordered a repeat of the tests for this morning.

This morning, I am already feeling him perform somersaults and cartwheels--this baby is wide awake and the sonographer needs to arrive ASAP before he is fast asleep again!  Keep your fingers crossed!!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Other Incarcerated Incubators Unveiled!

Well, it certainly took me long enough to discover how to use the internet and reach out to other hospital incubation mommas (I will refer to them as IMs from this point forward).  Before this experience, I minimally used the computer for non-work related issues and am embarrassed to admit, had little knowledge of searches that didn't involve Google.  Finally, after relocating my thinking cap since it was lost on my elementary school's playground, I came up with the ingenious idea of reaching out to other IMs through popular baby websites and the responses were a bit overwhelming.  I have finally uncovered other pockets of this underground society! 

I was contacted by another IM, (I still don't know her name or where she is incubating) who is having a very similar experience and is also humorously blogging away about all of her hospital escapades (her blog is theromaezis.com).  She also experienced PROM (again, not the celebratory prom that is the culmination of high school) at twenty-three weeks, was being poisoned from high levels of magnesium sulfate, and lives in constant fear of having her bathroom/shower privileges revoked for negligent behavior.  Unlike my experience, she has been incarcerated for eight weeks (after reading about her trials and tribulations, I am thoroughly inspired by her spirit, character, and humor).  

She sardonically describes occupying a cell near the emergency room and learning to interpret the different codes, which are blared daily on the hospital intercom (still trying to investigate the mystery behind Dr. Red?), describes a weekly socialization hour, in which her antepartum buddies are all invited to a conference room to discuss different subjects (I would love a socialization hour here!), and quips about her Christmas tree still being up at home and her house being in shambles (I can totally relate!!)

I still have yet to follow up with a few other IMs who have responded to my post.  However, one of them wrote about her hospital providing an "antepartum services booklet", which lists an array of mobile service providers such as hair stylists, masseuses, and nail salons (I feel another project coming on!). This same IM also related to my blog about giving up control and even compared her pre-incubator-self to Meg Ryan's character on Harry Met Sally, who neurotically takes fifteen minutes to request a very specific lunch order.  Another respondent shared a quote which pretty much sums up this whole experience:  "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning how to dance in the rain."

So, in between my bouts of visitors today, I plan on gathering more information on these IMs and discovering their secrets to how they have coped thus far.  Also, I have finally connected with a fellow hospital incubator, who is renting space three doors down the corridor, third cell on the right.  I request wheelchair visits to her room, where we swap stories and ooh and ahh over the knifty knitter, like cave women discovering fire for the first time.  Will keep you all posted on my fellow Best-Rest Buddies!