Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My normal

Okay, so I have a 5 1/2 year old, a 3 year old, and a 5 week old.  Most days I'm up by 6:30--not by choice mind you, but primarily because either George or Bear are awake by then.  On the days that Bear wakes up first, Archer gets up with Bear so I can sleep for a few more minutes.  During an average day, I am able to get a shower (I generally shower at night to ensure I do get one), get dressed, and make at least one meal.  I have been to the grocery store, to my office (only once), to pick Wild Man up at day camp, and out to lunch with my entire family.  Most days, my clothes match (although I may not be altogether happy about what I'm able to wear right now), and my hair is brushed.  I gained about 30 pounds, and through no effort other than breastfeeding, I only have about 10 pounds to lose (no, I'm not back in my pre-pregnancy clothes, nor do I think I will be anytime soon).  I have managed to go shopping once (with George in tow) as I needed some shorts that I could fit into.  I've also managed to submit two reports for work, read two books (for pleasure), and make notes on one project (these notes are so rough that I don't even want to admit how rough they are, but they are notes).  I've ordered birth announcements (which may never get mailed), and I've had George's portrait taken.  I've taken (with Archer) Wild Man and Bear to the pool, been to friends' houses for dinner, and taken Wild Man to several play dates.  I'm also trying to potty train Bear.  Most days I feel like I get nothing accomplished, and most days I'm okay with that.

Why am I listing all of this?  Well, I had coffee with a good friend this morning, and she asked how I was doing.  I said, "Fine.  I've got some stuff to do for work this week as my leave doesn't officially start till next week, and I'm trying to find the time to do that."  She was equally aghast and impressed, and I don't get why.  I don't feel like any of the above makes me superwoman.  It just feels normal for me.  I am not the kind of person who can not do things.  In fact, the more I stick to a "normal" routine the less likely I am to get overwhelmed and/or anxious.  If I don't have things to do, I tend to feel out of control, and feeling out of control leads to anxiety, which isn't good for me.  My friend implied I was doing way too much, but I don't think so.  I told her, "This is my normal."  It's what feels right for me, at least most days.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Clutter and unnecessary remarks

Over the last few weeks, both my mother and Archer's mother have called to check on me.  With Yetta, I keep it simple.  I tell her I'm tired, but fine; we're all adjusting well, and no, we don't need anything.  That's my standard line, whether it's true or not.  With my mom, I'm a bit more honest.  In fact, yesterday I was not having a good day.  It had nothing to do with my children and everything to do with the clutter that was threatening to consume my house.

You see, Archer, as wonderful as he is, isn't great about putting things away.  He routinely fixes something and then leaves his screwdriver lying on the kitchen counter for 3 weeks.  That is one example; I could name many others.  I have grown to accept this as a flaw that I cannot fix.  I've tried.  I've tried nagging; I've tried behavior modification; I've tried everything.  So usually I just put the stuff away.  It's easier.  If I get really irritated, I pick it all up and dump it on his desk for him to put away.  And rather than put it away, he will push it aside so he can access his papers and his keyboard.  This leads to lots of minor arguments.  I put something away, and he's sure he left it on top of the refrigerator (which is, apparently, an optimal spot to store tools, loose batteries, belts).  He goes to locate said item, and when he finally deigns to ask me if I know where it is, I tell him, "I put it in your toolbox in the basement because, you know, that's where your tools go."  He then gets irritated because he has to go to the basement to get said object, and I'm irritated because if he just put it away in the first place we wouldn't have this discussion for the 9 millionth time.

Add to that the fact that we have two children who have free reign over the house and that their puzzles, books, cars, and Legos often end up in places where they don't belong.  Oh, and let's not forget all the ephemera that accompanies a new born--burp cloths, blankets, socks, and the like.  Yes, my house was more than a bit cluttered.

Typically I take an hour on Saturday and put things away.  It is the most efficient way I've come up with as I can't retrain my entire family (although Wild Man and Bear are well on their way to putting their things away at the end of the day) nor can I hire a professional organizer.  I don't mind either.  But George has made this almost impossible lately.

Yesterday I was at my wits end.  I was tired and needed a nap, but more than that, I needed my house to be clean and de-cluttered for one day.  I was less than pleasant as everyone and everything was preventing my plan for de-cluttering.  I will not go into details, but I will say that Archer and I had discussed this plan on Saturday night.  Thus, when I came downstairs to find Wild Man and Bear had dumped out their extensive Lego collection all over the living room and that Archer was napping with George rather than taking out the vacuum cleaner I was annoyed.  My mom happened to call when I was finally able to get everyone to accomplish a specific task to de-clutter the house.  I told her what was going on.  She replied, "Well, M, you have three boys now; you may have to accept a certain amount of clutter, at least until George is older."  I was so irritated with that comment that I changed the subject and then got off the phone.

Why was I irritated?  My mom is absolutely right; for a while, at least, I'm going to have to deal with some clutter.  Other things trump having a neat and tidy house.  I can (and usually do) live with that.  But every. single. time. I talk to her she reminds me that I now have three children.  And I want to say, "Really?  Three?  When did that happen?  Oh right, I do vaguely remember giving birth to the third.  Thanks for the reminder, Mom."  Yes, my impulse is to be snarky and sarcastic.  But she says it very snarkily too.  As though I should have realized life would be so hectic and chaotic when we decided to add a third child to our family.  Yes, I'm being testy and a bit immature, but honestly, I could live without hearing that unnecessary remark ever again.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Birth Story, Part 2

Part 1 is here.

10:00 am
We met Dr. V, and I knew her.  In fact, as she stood beside my bed, I looked at her intently, trying to remember where we’d met.  She introduced herself to Archer and me, and then she gave me a quizzical look and asked why I looked so puzzled.  I said, “We’ve met before.”  To which she said, “It’s possible, but I’m very bad with faces.”  Suddenly I knew where we’d met, so I asked, “Do you know J?  She’s my good friend.”  Dr. V said, “Yes, we’re quite good friends as well.”  Then I said, “I think we met at her daughter’s birthday party over a year ago.”  Her face lit up.  She said, “Yes, I remember.  You have two little boys, and we talked about schools.”  We continued to chat as she examined me, and I was more comfortable with her since I knew her a bit.  She had also been J’s doctor and knowing how much J had liked her put me even more at ease.

During the exam, the baby moved again, and Dr. V was unable to get his heartbeat.  She became a bit concerned and decided to put in an internal monitor.  While she was trying to get the monitor on the baby’s head, she inadvertently broke the rest of my bag of waters.  It seems that L had not fully punctured it.  As the amniotic fluid literally poured out of me, Dr. V joked that I was going to ruin her new shoes that she had purchased during her recent trip to Europe. 

At that point, I was still only 3 centimeters dilated, and Dr. V asked me what sort of birth I wanted.  I said that I wanted as few interventions as possible.  She also asked about my previous labors, and after learning how fast both Wild Man and Bear and been born and that Wild Man had been induced by only breaking my water, she said, “I want to give it a bit before we run the oxytocin.  I’ll check back in about 90 minutes, and if you haven’t progressed at that point, we’ll talk some more.”

So for the next 90 minutes or so, I got up as I wanted to and moved around a bit, but mostly I stayed in bed, trying to rest.  Archer and I chatted with my nurse, as L moved between my room and her other patient’s room.  Around 11:45, L asked me if I would mind if she went home to shower; she’d been at a birth the day before and had gone home to sleep that evening, without showering.  I said, “I’m still only having contractions every 15 minutes, so sure, please go shower.”  At that point, the contractions were becoming more uncomfortable, but they were still not painful.  I figured that L had plenty of time to go home and shower.

12:30 pm

My nurse studied the printout of my contractions and noticed that they were getting a bit closer together, about every 12 minutes.  As we were talking about this, I had a strong contraction, and the baby’s heart rate dropped to 80, and it stayed down.  After a minute, a crowd of people came into my room—2 NICU nurses, 1 other nurse, and 3 residents.  My nurse was standing right next to me, and Archer was holding my hand.  The head resident (he’d only introduced himself by saying, “I’m the head resident”) pulled on surgical gloves and declared, “I need to check you.”  I rolled over, and without as much as asking my name, he proceeded to check my cervix.  Now, I have an oddly positioned cervix.  If this resident had taken a moment to read my chart, to talk to my nurse, or to ask me anything, he would have learned this.  But he didn’t.  Instead, he proceeded to check my cervix as though he was digging to China.  It hurt—a lot.  He also started another contraction.  My nurse, looking aghast, said, “She’s not medicated.”  Knowing he needed to see if labor was progressing and if the internal monitor on the baby had moved, I gritted my teeth and let him check.  But when he said, “Her cervix is really high and posterior; I can’t seem to get to it,” I quietly said, “Take your hand out of my body.  We need to wait for Dr. V.”  He was clearly embarrassed, but he moved away from me.  By this point, the baby’s heart rate had come back up, but Archer said quietly, “M, it stayed down for 3 minutes.”  I sighed heavily, as I knew what that might mean.

Dr. V arrived at that point and started asking questions.  She said, “Has she been checked?” My nurse said, “She asked to wait for you.”  So Dr. V checked me.  The internal monitor was still in place, and she said I was now 5 centimeters dilated.  We then had the C-Section discussion.  It went like this:

Dr. V: “If the baby’s heart rate drops again like that, we will have no choice but to get him out as quickly as possible.  I will have to perform an emergency C-section.”

Archer: “Since M has not had an epidural, what will happen with anesthesia?”

Dr. V: “We will try to get her an epidural, but if it is a true emergency, we will have to put her under completely as it is faster.”

M: “I don’t want a C-Section, but I obviously want the baby to be safe.”

She then asked me why I didn’t want the resident to check me, asking if it was “because he is male or because of his technique?”

M: “It was his technique.”

Dr. V: “I see.  I need you to understand that I’m in charge of the entire floor.  I cannot always get here immediately, but the resident can.  If he can’t check you, that slows things down and doesn’t let us see how the baby is doing.”

M: “Yes, I understand that.”

Dr. V: “Plus, this is a teaching hospital, and he has to learn how to do it properly.”

M: “Yes, I’m teacher, so I understand that as well.  He doesn’t, however, have to learn on me.”

Dr. V looked a bit surprised and told me she’d be back in an hour to check on me, reassuring me that she could see my monitors at the main desk.

1:00 pm
My midwife returned from showering and getting some lunch.  My nurse updated her, and she apologized for not being there. 

1:15 pm
My contractions started coming a bit faster, about every 8 to 10 minutes, and they were getting stronger.  I also experienced a lot more back pain.

1:45 pm
By this time, I was in active labor, with contractions every 4 to 5 minutes, lasting for 2 minutes, and I was in back labor.  At some point, the baby had turned, and the pain was excruciating.  I was hooked up to 3 different monitors, and every single time I moved, the baby’s heart rate fluctuated, so just as I did with Wild Man, I labored lying on my left side.  My midwife applied lots of pressure to my hips with every contraction, and Archer did the same on my lower back.  This helped some, making the pain manageable.  I have to admit though I was less than pleasant.  After my conversation with Dr. V, I had decided I was going to have a C-section; this was my way of preparing for that.  On some level, I figured I was going to need the epidural anyway so managing the pain became much more difficult for me. 

2:30 pm
I had an overwhelming desire to push, and I told everyone so.  My nurse called the resident back in, but this time a female resident came to check, and she was much more pleasant than the male resident.  She checked me, and said, “I’m sorry, you’re only 7.  You can’t push yet.”

After she left, my midwife leaned over and whispered, “If you feel the need to push, do it gently.”  So when I felt the need to push, I did.  I continued laboring with her help and Archer continued encouraging me, despite me telling him that I really, really wanted the epidural.

3:05 pm
I again said, “I need to push now.”  So again, everyone came back in, and the resident said, “Yep, she’s fully dilated; let’s get set up.” So the nurses began setting up, and I pushed with L and Archer’s help.  Dr. V walked in and said, “Why isn’t the table set up?”  The nurses couldn’t get my bed broken down to set up the stirrups, and in the meant time, I was still trying to push.  The bed was finally together, and my legs were forcibly put in the stirrups—I hate stirrups.  The resident kept telling me not to push, and I ignored her.  Dr. V looked at me and said, “We need to make sure the baby is in the right position, so stop pushing or you will hurt yourself and the baby.”  So I managed not to push.  Then the baby’s heart rate dropped to 60, and the resident said to me, “M, we’ve got to get your baby out now. Push as hard as you can.”  I wanted to say, “Gee, that’s what I’ve been trying to do for the last 10 minutes.”  So I pushed, and 5 minutes later, George was born.  The NICU nurses wanted to take him right away, but Dr. V quickly determined he was doing well.  She insisted that Archer cut the cord (in fact, she gave him no choice in the matter, which I loved as he hadn’t cut Wild Man or Bear’s cords) and that I be allowed to hold George for a few minutes.  The nurses then took him to the warmer and checked his heart rate and breathing.  He was doing so well that he was back with me in about 10 minutes.  While the resident gave me two stitches (without a local; she reasoned that I’d need 6 “pokes” with stitches and a local but only 4 “pokes” for the two stitches.  I said, “They aren’t exactly ‘pokes,’ but fine.”), Archer and I debated names.  We chose one that hadn’t been in the running long, but that really seemed to fit the baby.  We then had a brief conversation with Dr. V, and she returned me to my midwife’s care. 

In the end, after 15+ hours at the hospital and about 2 hours of active labor, George was born on July 24th at 3:20 pm, weighing 7 lbs 5 oz and measuring 20 inches long.

Friday, August 17, 2012


All of our family visitors have left, and as odd as this sounds, our house is quiet again.*  Yes, Wild Man and Bear make lots of noise, but it is noise I'm used to.  Slowly we're settling into a routine.  The hardest thing is that I'm nursing, and George is eating on demand.  I can be in the middle of cooking dinner or reading to Bear, and I suddenly have to get Archer to take over. He is doing a lot of the heavy lifting, so to speak, and that is frustrating for both of us for various reasons.  George is a laid-back baby, so that makes life a bit easier. 

*At some point I'll describe Yetta's less than fun visit, but for now I'll just be glad to have my house back.

Getting back in the game

George is now three weeks old, and my mind is already thinking about the projects I want to try to accomplish while on parental leave.  I am not expected to get any work done, but most people manage to get a few things done.  My plans are not overly ambitious, and now I'm still in the thinking/planning stages.  I'm optimistic, albeit cautiously, that George will nap for several hours each day (in fact, he's napping right now), enabling me to get at least an hour's worth of work done each day.  Bear will be home with us 2 days a week, so those days will likely be more hectic, but I hope to have their afternoon naps coordinated by October.   And I am fully aware that none of my plans may come to fruition, and I'm okay with that too.

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Pseudonym

I have finally chosen a pseudonym for the baby.  He will now be known as George, as in Curious George.  Why?  He is already intensely curious.  At not quite 3 weeks old, he is already trying to hold his head up, tracking objects, and listening for his brothers.  I think he's going to do everything early!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Birth Story, Part 1

I have sat down to write G’s (I’m still working on a pseudonym) birth story several times, and every time I’ve been interrupted.  I’m currently writing as he nurses.  I should be trying to rest I know, but I want to get the bulk of this down before I start to forget details.  His birth was long and difficult, so I’m going to use a timeline in an attempt to replicate that.  I’m also going to divide this into at least two posts as I doubt G will cooperate long enough to let me write the whole story in one sitting.

July 24, 12:15 am
A contraction woke me up.  I had been having Braxton hicks contractions for weeks, months really, but this was the first time a contraction had woke me up.  It was stronger than the B-H contractions, but not necessarily painful.  It felt like a long menstrual cramp.  I stayed in bed for a few minutes, and then I had another one.  After three or four, I got up, went to the bathroom, got some water, and then went back to bed.  I wasn’t sure they weren’t B-H contractions, so I was trying to determine if they would stop. 

12:45 am
It was clear they weren’t going to stop, so I woke up Archer.  We talked for a few minutes, and he started timing for me.  They were coming every 4 to 5 minutes and lasting about a minute.  Given my history of fast labor (Wild Man was born after 4 ½ hours of labor and Bear after 2 ½ hours), we decided to call my midwife, and she said she’d meet us at the hospital.  I got dressed, tossed a few things in my bag, and brushed my teeth (weird yes, but I did) while Archer woke up my mom.  She came upstairs to sleep in our bed so she’d be sure to hear Bear and Wild Man when they woke up, and we left for the hospital by 1:10 am.

1:15 am
We met my midwife in the parking garage at the hospital, and she walked us to the labor and delivery ward.  I was checked in, and then we discussed the plan.  My midwife, L, took my vitals, and we discussed how strong the contractions were.  She wanted to get set up, so Archer and I started walking as the contractions weren’t very painful.  We were hopeful that walking would get labor moving along. 

2:00 am
L was set up, and she gave me an IV.  I had tested positive for Group B Strep early in my pregnancy (if fact, L thinks I am one of those rare people who always has it in my body, although my body doesn’t see it as an infection, as I’ve tested positive with every single pregnancy), so I had opted to have the IV antibiotics to prevent the GBS being passed to the baby.

2:30 am
The antibiotics had gone through the IV, so Archer and I started walking again.  We walked off and on till 4:15.  At that point my contractions had slowed down.  I was having them about every 10 minutes, and they were not painful at all.  L offered to break my water, after she checked my cervix (I was 3 centimeters dilated when I came into the hospital, and almost 3 hours later, I was still 3 centimeters).  By this point, I was getting tired, so I agreed.  I reasoned that Wild Man had been induced by simply breaking my water, so maybe that would speed things up. 

4:30 am
L broke my water, and it was painful. It took her several tries to break it, whereas  when it had been broken to induce my labor with Wild Man it didn’t hurt at all.  She told me my cervix hadn’t thinned out at all and that the baby hadn’t dropped.  Considering that we had already passed the 4 1/2 hour mark I was really disappointed.

5:00 am
After L broke my water, I did not have a single contraction.  They stopped.  After waiting for a half an hour or so, I told her that nothing was going on.  She suggested we get some rest. So Archer went to sleep on the couch in the delivery room while I tried to rest in the hospital bed.  I say tried because L checked the baby’s heart rate every 15 minutes, which meant I had to change positions so she could find his heart beat.

6:45 am
L woke me up to check the baby’s heart beat and to ask me what was going on.  I told her: nothing.  She asked me how I wanted to progress, reminding me that since my water was broken we were under a timer of sorts.  I said I was unsure.  I was frustrated because the labor was not progressing, which I had not experienced before.  She reminded me she was in no hurry.  She assured me she was happy to wait labor out, but she did say that if I wanted oxytocin that she’d have to refer me to an OB as in our province midwives are not legally permitted to give a patient oxytocin.  That one threw me, as I didn’t realize that fact.  She encouraged us to go get something to eat and walk some more.  She told me to eat as much as I wanted because an OB wouldn’t let me eat anything from the moment I came under her care.  Archer and I went to the cafeteria, where I ate some fruit salad and a bagel.  I called my mom, explained the situation to her, and checked on Wild Man and Bear.  Then we walked.

8:00 am
We made our way back to labor and delivery where I told L my contractions had not resumed.  I had had several while we walked, but they were not regular nor were they strong.  I said that I was tired, and I wanted to be done.  As much as I didn’t want any interventions, I asked to be assigned to an OB.  L understood, but she suggested trying one more thing.  She had a breast pump, and she told me to pump to see if that would start contractions.  I agreed, hoping it would work.  I pumped for 45 minutes, and I had one strong contraction. 

9:00 am
L contacted the OB on call, after learning it was a doctor she really likes.  Dr. V was in the middle of rounds, so it would be about an hour before she could get to me.

Mothering three

Last week I wrote that the move from 2 to 3 has been less stressful from the move from 1 to 2 and most definitely less stressful then the move from 0 to 1, which I think is the most stressful of all.  I still think that is accurate, although today I had my first experience parenting all three at once by myself.* 

I'll start by saying that today was not an ordinary Friday.  Wild Man has been going to a theater camp for the last two weeks, and today was the day of his performance.  We kept Bear home from school so he could go to the "show."  The show started at 11, and it was over at 12, which is lunchtime.  Archer needed to go to his office to sign a few things as he is acting department chair this week (his department chair is out of town, and he's really the only full-time faculty member in town right now).  So he headed up to campus while Yetta and I took the boys home for lunch.  The minute we walked in the door G woke up and wanted to nurse.  Yetta happily made lunch for the older boys and me, while I nursed.  After lunch, Wild Man went to the play room to read, and I tried to get Bear upstairs for a nap.  He was not being cooperative, so I had to carry him upstairs and put him in his bed.  He had a temper tantrum, and then G, who I had put down in his bassinet, woke up.  I had to leave Bear to get G, and I tried nursing him while I rubbed Bear's back.  Bear adamantly refused to go to sleep.  I finally gave up, took G to my room, and left Bear to go to sleep on his own.  When Archer got home 20 minutes later, I was still nursing G while Bear sang to himself in his bed.  Archer decided that a nap was pointless and let Bear get up.  He reminded me that Bear has been cutting out naps a few days a week, to which I replied "he has to nap!"  He has to nap the two days a week he'll be home with me and G or I may lose my mind.  In the meantime, Wild Man was patiently waiting for one of us to come play with him downstairs (he had actually gotten Yetta to read with him).  So now, I'm left feeling like my first attempt to manage all 3 boys on my own was less than successful.  What would have success looked like?  A sleeping Bear, a sleeping G, and a reading Wild Man--oh and about 20 free minutes for me to nap.

*Technically, I wasn't by myself, as Yetta is visiting; however, there are certain things she prefers not to help with.  She prefers not to play any part in disciplining my children.  She reasons that she sees them so infrequently that she doesn't want them to remember her being "stern" with them.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Um, right . . .

I am the mother of three children.  I keep forgetting that . . .

Checking in

We're settling in a bit, now that we have three children.  Lots of people told me that the transition from 1 child to 2 children was much, much harder than the transition from 2 to 3 children.  I was, admittedly, skeptical, especially given my own initial uncertainty regarding my pregnancy.  I have to say, 11 days in, that the transition has been fairly smooth.  There have been a few glitches.  Wild Man has felt left out, and that was compounded by the fact that he went from full day camps the week of the baby's (I'm still working on a pseudonym) birth to half day camps this past week.  There have been several times this week when Archer and I have been occupied with the baby, and Wild Man has played Legos by himself for 3+ hours, making for a cranky 5 1/2 year old by dinner time.  Bear, however, has been remarkable.  I was a bit worried about his reaction, as he is, in many ways, still babyish, but he has blossomed before our eyes.  He checks on the baby, he wants to hold the baby, he sings to the baby.  He is incredibly gentle, loving, and protective.  Archer and I have repeatedly said to each other that we feel like we're seeing a whole new side to Bear.

As for me, I'm tired, but I'm not the dead tired I was with Wild Man, who had colic.  The baby wakes up in the night to nurse, and he goes back to sleep fairly easily.  I'm trying to get a nap in every morning, which helps a lot.  Archer is handling almost everything with the house, which will have to change soon as he starts teaching in about 4 weeks, and that is helpful.  My mom was here last week, and she was some help, although not a lot for various reasons.  Yetta arrives tomorrow, and she'll run errands and pick up the boys, leaving me to focus on the baby and let Archer get some writing done.  We're getting a bit more of a routine day by day.  And if I get a bit more time, I'll write the birth story, as well as the 1 million and 1 other things I want to write. . . but that is for another post.