A Child Is Born | Labor And Delivery Pt 2

**This is the second part of a two part series: Labor And Delivery. A lot of people have been asking me about my experiences so I thought I'd share. DISCLAIMER--if you have no interest in reading about labor or my labor, you should stop here. Things will get pretty graphic**   V grabbed my bag and ran to the parking lot to pull the car around to the front of the complex. I called my OB office to let them know I was headed to the hospital. Another rush of fluid. Gross. I quickly cleaned up and grabbed some towels for the car in case there was any more that needed to escape before we got to our destination.

I felt every bump, every hole, every acceleration, and every sharp brake. Luckily it was 9pm so there wasn't really much traffic on the road. We got to the hospital relatively quickly, within 15 minutes, and checked in at the emergency entrance. The nurse grabbed a wheelchair and wheeled me over to the labor and delivery unit, where I changed into the most unflattering backless dress in the history of hospital fashion.

Despite the pain, I was getting really excited. It was just a matter of time before I would meet the baby who was growing inside me. I laid back on the bed and the nurse hooked me up to some monitors. The needle on the monitor drew a low, flat line, followed by a sharp peak. I grimaced. "That's a contraction," the nurse remarked. She sat and studied the monitor. After one of the most awkward silences, the nurse pivoted in her stool, turning towards me.

"It's still too early. Your contractions aren't getting any stronger and they're still pretty far apart. I think you need to go home."

"Well my water broke, and I'm group B positive, so I need to be hooked up to antibiotics ASAP."

"Ma'am, I don't think your water broke."

I couldn't hide the expression on my face, the "you're an idiot" stare. Surely, she was the medical professional and she should know better than me. I humored her.

"Okay. If, like you said, my water didn't break, what exactly is the reason for my leaking vagina?"

"Ma'am, if your water broke, it would still be flowing out of you right now. It was probably incontinence. It's actually not unusual for pregnant women."

At this point I was completely and utterly annoyed and disgusted. Here I lay, fighting with a nurse between contractions. V sat silently and continued watching the exchange.

"I think I would know if it was urine. It didn't feel like urine coming out, and it didn't look like urine after it was out. I lost my mucus plug. I don't know what else to say to you, but my water broke, and you need to hook me up to the antibiotics."

The nurse left the room since it was no use arguing with a stubborn,  laboring, pregnant woman. She returned with the doctor. I explained everything to her that I previously explained to the nurse. The doctor then turned to the nurse with a puzzled expression and asked,  "why is this an issue? Why don't you just test her? " The nurse took some samples with a swab and took them for testing.

It was around 11:30pm. The nurse returned.

"Well it looks like your water broke. It says here that you're group B positive. We need to hook you up to the antibiotics right now. "

"Yeah. I know."

Unfortunately the gloating didn't last long since it was cut off by another series of contractions. The doctor came back in to explain what was happening and what was going to happen.

What she said was:

"Right now you're not progressing as quickly as we want you to. We're going to administer pitocin, which is going to help your body along in the process."

What she meant was:

"We've already admitted you and we can't wait all day. We're going to inject you with this devil drug from hell that is going to make you hate everything about your life."

She asked if I wanted the epidural. I declined, since I was managing the pain well enough. She assured me that there was still time to ask for it if I felt like I needed it.

Then the pitocin kicked in. What I had experienced up to this point was mere child's play.

Pre-pitocin contractions: "Ow, I'm in labor, this hurts. Hold my hand to help me get through this. Ow, but we're having a baby, I love you"

Post-pitocin contractions: "Aaaahhh shit shit shit shit aaaaawww no no no no stoooooooop aaaaaaaah aaaaaaaah I caaaaaaaaant no no no aaaaaahh I'm going to throw up! "

I was a complete mess. I was all over the hospital bed. I was leaning on my side, holding on to the metal bars with a death grip with my feet dangling off the edge. I was down on all fours doing involuntary pitocin-induced downward facing dog. I was sitting at the edge of the bed with my head between my knees, aimed directly over the vomit vessel I requested.

The pain was unbearable and indescribable. It was like every muscle from my abdomen to my thighs was trying to rip itself free and out of my body. It felt like grabbing and twisting and punching simultaneously, from both inside and out. It felt like literally being stabbed in the back and left to die in a dark alley. It was everything I never experienced and never again wanted to experience. While I shouted and screamed externally, I was having a profound internal dialogue. How can people do this? This is not natural. This is not normal. Why would people go through this more than once? Is it too late? Can I just opt out of labor? I never signed up for this. How can people do this? Is it too late? 

I had had enough. It was time for the epidural. But I felt like a sweaty gorilla. In my state of laboring delusion, after my contraction I pleaded with the nurses to let me take a shower.

"Are you crazy? You're not going anywhere!"

"WELL GIVE ME MY EPIDURAL! NOW!"

The timing of my request was such that my next contraction started before the anaesthesiologist made it to my room. I feebly suffered through the torture of another contraction while he set up his instruments. I never expected to feel so much relief at the sight of a needle so monstrously huge. It was that big, so it had to work.

Almost instantly, my pain quite literally melted away along with all other sensation in my lower body. The nurses hooked up my catheter. I was on cloud nine. My body was furiously working to bring our baby into the world and I didn't feel a thing. I never pictured luxury as being in a hospital bed, watching animal planet, eating a Popsicle, and peeing into a bag taped to my leg, but this sure was it.

It was 1am. I drifted off to sleep. The doctor and nurses came in to check on me periodically but that did little to disturb my slumber.

It was 9am. The nurse came in and peeked under the sheet. "You're crowning. I'm getting the doctor in here right now!"

I asked V what he saw.

"I see hair. A lot of it."

"Now is not the time for jokes. Now what do you see? Is it a head?? "

"I'm not kidding. It's a head, and a whole lot of hair."

The doctor came in and told me to push with my next contraction.

"Contraction?! I can't feel a thing! How the hell am I supposed to know I'm having a contraction?! "

"It'll feel like you need to poop. Trust me."

I waited. Then, sure enough, there was the sensation.

"I need to poop!"

"Puuuush!"

I pushed 4 times for 10 seconds each push. Well, at least I thought I pushed, because I was completely numb and had no idea what I was doing (that epidural was no joke). On the fourth "push", the doctor grabbed a tiny curled up baby from under the sheet and dropped her onto my chest. She was crying and I was crying. It was surreal.

V and I were smitten. She was perfect. She was ours. In one split second, our family of two grew into a family of three. Our lives were changed forever.

39 Weeks Pregnant | Labor And Delivery Pt 1

**This is the first part of a two part series: Labor And Delivery. A lot of people have been asking me about my experiences so I thought I'd share. DISCLAIMER--if you have no interest in reading about labor or my labor, you can stop here. Things may get a little graphic** My due date fell in the middle of Thanksgiving week. At 39 weeks pregnant, I was exhausted and anxious. I had planned to work right up until the day I delivered. I dreaded going into labor while I was at work, and my boss was gracious enough to let me work remotely starting the week before my due date.

It was the first day that I was scheduled to work remotely. I felt horrible, which is pretty standard at 39weeks. I started the day with an early morning doctor's appointment. My OB could see that I was ready to get the show on the road. Her assurances that I was progressing "like a rock star" did nothing to make me feel less like a beached whale. She did her best to calm me. "Just hang in there, " she said, "any day now, you're doing great."

I headed back home to start my work day. By the time I got home, V was already on campus for his last day of final exams. I had minimal distractions so that I could get through the day-- just me and Ella.

I had been having Braxton-Hicks contractions and they seemed to be getting stronger. By 5pm I could do little more than curl up in bed. I knew that I would feel better if I took a little nap...

The pain woke me up around 7pm. These weren't Braxton-Hicks. I had never felt anything like this before-- this was the real deal. V's last final was scheduled to end at 8pm. I carefully contemplated calling him. I waited for the next contraction. They were far enough apart that I decided not to call. He needed to focus on his exam--the baby wasn't going anywhere anytime soon. Plus I didn't need him speeding home and, heaven forbid, getting into an accident. I ran a bath and got in.

The warm bath definitely helped. My contractions still weren't in the danger zone yet, so I waited some more. V called at around 8:15 and he immediately knew something was going on. I told him that I was in labor, but not to rush because it wasn't "time" yet.

As I sat in the tub, I revisited my "birth plan", which was, up to this point: Step 1- go to hospital; Step 2-have baby. I kept going back and forth about the epidural during my pregnancy. A part of me wanted to experience the magic and wonder of "natural" childbirth, but my practical side wanted to be admitted with the anaesthesiologist waiting in my room. Though painful, I thought the contractions were bearable. I decided to hold off on the epidural until I thought I really needed it. That was the biggest decision I had left to make since I had already ruled out a water birth, birth ball,  a "room with a view" (I didn't want to see anything that couldn't be unseen), mood lighting, and music. I figured I was having a baby, not going to a Cirque Du Soleil show.

V got home around 30minutes later. I transitioned from the tub to the bed. He helped me time contractions while he scarfed down his leftovers from the night before. We were in for a long night and he knew it. I got up to check my prepacked hospital bag one more time to make sure I hadn't forgotten anything. As I rose from the bed, I felt warm fluid trickling down my legs.

"It's time."

The Myth Of The Restful Weekend Getaway

The weekend of the fourth coincided with my older cousin TK's birthday weekend. He was having a hard time coming to terms with turning the big 4-0, so to help him get over himself, his wife Sammy planned an elaborate weekend retreat at a mountain cabin so that he could share his milestone with family. We set out on Friday afternoon. I was exhausted after another hectic week on the road. V loaded up the car and we started our journey towards radio silence. We got to the cabin an hour later, in awe of the beauty and tranquility that was practically at our doorstep. The huge deck overlooked a gently flowing river and we knew we were in for a peaceful weekend.

We thought we were in for a peaceful weekend.

We had food catered for the weekend so that we would avoid the stress of having to prepare meals for the entire family. We were, however, the first ones to arrive and the food was not yet on its way. Tired, hungry, and unable to wait, we left the cabin in search of food. We drove with no destination in mind partly because we wanted to see what the small town had to offer, but mostly because we had no reception to operate our phones for GPS. We approached a Gas Station that had a sign up out front that read "BBQ". I screamed out to V and he pulled into the gravel lot.

**Don't judge me... I know most people wouldn't trust barbecue from a Gas Station, however, in all my travels across these United States, I have learned to have more of an open mind when trying food from establishments that may be "off the beaten path". But back to the story**

The trip to the barbecue joint was actually quite uneventful. (Sorry!) We got a few dinners and some homemade ice cream and headed back to the cabin. Not bad for Gas Station food.

Now that we were good and content, it was finally time to relax and unwind. I went to our room to change into some more comfortable cabin-in-the-woods-appropriate clothes. V's bags were in the closet.

Did he really just leave my suitcase in the car? 

No biggie. I am strong, invincible, woman, and all that jazz. I can get my bag out of the car.

Except for the fact that the car was completely empty. 

Rewind to us packing at the house. V declared, "You get ready, I'll load up the car." So naturally, I got ready while he packed the car.

Except for the fact that he never packed my suitcase. 

Fast forward to the current situation. A simple misunderstanding. I thought he was packing my bag, and he thought I was packing my bag. I still needed my (and Mimi's) stuff. So we headed to our house and back.

This night set the tone for the rest of the weekend. Don't get me wrong. It was an amazing weekend. Food, drink, and family bonding.

It was almost cathartic to be shut off from the outside world (albeit involuntarily) and TK clearly appreciated having us all there to celebrate his milestone with him. But between Mimi's clinging due to separation anxiety, cooking breakfast for the household because I was up early with Mimi anyway, and our multiple trips back home to let Ella out (I still regret not boarding her--lapse in judgment), I was completely and utterly exhausted.

I spent all my free time after this "retreat" stealing naps and trying to recharge. Now, two weeks later, I finally feel like a human being again.

I was naive to fall for the promise of a restful weekend getaway. This elusive ideal is reserved for the single and carefree or the couple with no obligations. While I can't say that I'll avoid weekend trips in the future, I will say that I'll avoid delusions of rest and/or relaxation.

Don't Pity Me

This morning I shared my row on the airplane with a woman and her young son. As we waited for the aircraft to finish boarding, the boy peppered his mother with questions, at times interjecting with exclamations regarding the progression of his video game. She turned to me and apologized on his behalf for his outbursts, and warned that he was likely to continue for the duration of the flight. I warmly smiled and assured her that I had no problem with it since I have a young one at home and I know how it could be at times. Her brows furrowed as if she wanted to ask me what circumstance would lead to me traveling without my child. Instead of asking directly, she began the delicate dance of asking indirect questions to satiate her curiosity; a dance I have grown accustomed to, yet despise.

What do you do for a living?

How often do you travel?

Do you like it, though?

That must be really hard. I could never do that! 

Hey, can you do me a favor?

Don't pity me. 

Because I left the security of my parents' home at 18 to move to a new country to go to college, have new experiences, meet new people, and step outside of my bubble.

What's it like moving to a new country and starting over without a support system? Can't run home to mommy and daddy!

Do you miss your friends back home? You must be so lonely!

Don't pity me.

Because I did it all over again to go to grad school. New city, new state. New challenges, new expectations.

Yeah that's cool and all, but what are you going to do with a PhD?

Oh, you're stopping with your Master's? What's the point? That's kind of a waste of talent. You're smart, why don't you just get a PhD?

Don't pity me. 

Because I did it all over again to start my first job: same state, new city. Because I married my best friend and we were preparing to welcome Mimi into the world.

Do you have any family here? Does your husband?

How are you going to do it by yourselves?

You're only taking 12 weeks of maternity leave?

You're going to put Mimi in daycare?

Don't pity me. 

Because I do what I need to to for my family. Because we do what we need to do for our family. Because it's hard as hell but we're making it work.

She Should Be Speaking At Two

Mimi had her 18 month checkup last week. Poked and prodded, measured and compared, we got "the stats" from her pediatrician.

She's 80th percentile for height but 30th percentile for weight (Non-parents: that's pediatrician-speak for she's taller than 80% but heavier than 30% of toddlers her age). She should be speaking by two, but more specifically, she should be saying between 3 and 50 words.

Between 3 and 50?

That's right, folks. Quite a spread.

That "recommendation" or "guideline" is the embodiment of what the modern parent has to go through. No longer can children learn and grow at their own pace. They must be evaluated and charted and compared to their peers. But as if that wasn't enough, you're now telling me that she needs to say between 3 and 50 words. You know what that metric tells me? That you have no clue what normal is. We all worry that our children won't hit their developmental milestones, but now we also have to wonder what that milestone is. Is it 3 words? Or is it 50? Is a child who speaks 3 words any less "advanced" than once who speaks 50?

We as adults fight for our individuality and we acknowledge that we are all different and as unique as snowflakes on a winter morning. Why, then, do we seek to pigeon hole our children into these set molds and expectations?

She's too tall, she's too skinny, she shouldn't suck her thumb, she should be saying more.

Well I happen to think that she's not a statistical anomaly. She's an individual. She's Mimi. She'll do it as soon as she's ready and she'll be just fine. Because after all, she can't do it before she's ready.

Can she?

I May Not Be Perfect, But My Husband Is

I know, I know, *gag* nobody's perfect. Bear with me, people, it's Father's Day weekend!!

I still have feelings of mom guilt. Standard, I think, for the working mom, but even more severe for the working mom who happens to travel for work.

Every Monday morning at 5:30am, I dutifully head to the airport. I leave my precious Mimi at home sleeping peacefully in her crib. She never knows when I leave, but she always knows when I'm gone. V is tasked with keeping the household going; he's captain of the ship Monday though Friday.

He always keeps me updated about Mimi's progress throughout the week. "She sprouted a new tooth!" Or "she started singing her A-B-C's!" My favorite was "she used the potty!" (This last announcement was accompanied by visual aides). He does everything without complaint, and is so gracious and loving.

When I get home on Friday afternoon, he doesn't just tap out and let me "take my shift". That's when he kicks in to high gear, mowing the lawn or tackling small projects around the house (like building our dining room table and benches... Did I mention he's perfect?) I don't know where he gets the energy, honestly.

The weekend is usually split into girls time, family time, and couples time. Couples time naturally occurs whenever Mimi is asleep, so during daytime nap and any time after 7pm. This time is so valuable because it helps us recharge, well, as a couple! Girls time happens so that he can have V time to decompress, and Mimi and I can have "we" time. We start with brunch, then run errands, and usually finish up by visiting family across town. Family time occupies the gap between couples time and girls time. (Did I mention I'm type A?)

But back to the mom-guilt bit. I can't help but feel like Mimi is growing up without me, and that I'm not "carrying my own weight" in the household. V has been so amazing and supportive in not only taking care of everything on the home front but also constantly reassuring me that he's okay, she's okay, we're okay, and that I should be okay too.

This has been the most significant Father's Day because I am able to truly appreciate everything that V has done and is doing as a husband and a father. He's pretty amazing, if you ask me.

I'm definitely not perfect. And I'll admit, he may not be perfect, but he's pretty damn close.

5 Ways To Make The Most Of Your Weekend

When I'm on the road it's easy to become consumed by thoughts of the coming weekend.

"What should we do this weekend?"

I come up with such grand ideas. We'll go to a festival! A picnic in the park! A trip to the lake! Then Friday rolls around and all the plans I carefully considered morph into "I think I just want to stay home and relax". After all, being on the road all week makes a person want to take it easy. Right?

That's exactly what happened this weekend.

While making my final descent I pictured Mimi, V, and I, all sitting out on the deck, enjoying the calm content that is being together again. That was it. That's what we would do. It was settled....

I stepped in the front door and Mimi squealed with excitement and leapt into my arms. Then V asked,  "What should we do this weekend?"

I walked right into that one because I deviated from the proven system. Here are five ways to guarantee maximum enjoyment for your time spent at home:

1. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate! I can't stress this point enough. It doesn't matter what you planned all by yourself. You need to have buy in from your significant other to make sure you can hit the ground running with your weekend plans. Nothing pops plan balloons like two people having conflicting ideals of how to spend your weekend.

2. Do The Ground Work Before You Get There You both know you want to do something but you don't know what to do. So you waste precious time on your weekend together fumbling around trying to a) see what's going on around town and b) plan for it. Where are we going? How long are we going to be gone? Would we need a sitter? Should we drive or take an Uber? These are all questions that should be answered before you walk through the front door.

3. Not Doing Anything Counts As Doing Something

Sometimes all you need to do is uncork a bottle of wine, snuggle up on the couch, and binge watch Amazon Prime Video (yeah, we're not really a Netflix household). A "date night in" takes the stress out of planning. Plus you don't even have to dress up! Unless of course you want to, then you should totally dress up.

4. Keep It In The Family Sometimes I worry that I don't have enough time to make time for my extended family. The best way to counteract these fears: make time for them! Every once in a while (read: every other week) we like to host a family get together just to eat, drink, hang out, and get in on some good ol' family bonding. Because family is the whole reason we moved here, right?? It's great having that support system practically on our doorstep.

5. Love Unconditionally And Cherish Every Shared Moment Because-- need I say more?

Apprehensive And A Bit Scared

I remember when baby Mimi was born. I went to the hospital apprehensive and a bit scared, but left with the deepest love I had ever felt. She needed me; she needed us. A tiny little thing who snuggled so perfectly in our arms. Her personality blossomed, and her smile was infectious...

I remember when baby Mimi first started daycare. I dropped her off, apprehensive and a bit scared. It was hard letting go, but I'll admit it was even harder getting her photo updates throughout the day. She's having fun! She's having fun! She's... Having fun? She's not terrified? Miserable? Lonely? Home sick? Missing me? Missing us? That's when it hit me that she was becoming independent. She was becoming her own person, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. She didn't NEED me to be happy; she didn't NEED us...

I remember when baby Mimi went to visit her cousin for the first time. I was apprehensive and a bit scared. Would they like each other? They laughed and played, rolled around, fought, pulled hair, shared toys, shared bottles, shared food, and all the fun stuff babies do. This was it, this is what we had been missing. Isolated and in our own world, we realized that Mimi needed more. Mimi needed family. That's when V and I made our decision: we're moving!!!

I remember when I got the job offer of my dreams. I remember being apprehensive and a bit scared. I had moved to a new country, to multiple states, but this would be the biggest move by far. It wasn't just about me. It was about my entire family. Were we doing the right thing???

I remember when I started my new job and I learned that I was going to have to travel every single week. I had initially anticipated that the travel would phase out as I transitioned to an office role. Not so: the travel was a permanent fixture. I couldn't help but be apprehensive and a bit scared. How can I travel when I have a young child? A young marriage? That's when V stepped in. "If this is what you want to do, I'll support you 100%". He did exactly that. And more....

I have learned that it's okay to be apprehensive. It's okay to be scared. It's okay to wonder if you're doing the right thing or going in the right direction. It just means that you're stepping away from everything you know and venturing into the unknown. It could end up being the best thing you ever did, or, you could fail miserably. Either way, success or failure, relish in the fact that you tried something new. No risk, no reward.

And So It Begins

The past few months have been a whirlwind. Abandoning the comfort of complacency and daring to delve into the unknown, we made the exciting transition to a new chapter in our lives. We leapt at the promise of new jobs, becoming homeowners, continuing the pursuit of academic excellence, but most importantly: family. Family has led us in this journey from state to state, finally settling in and feeling a sense of belonging. It's a daunting task keeping it all together, but we're making it work. We're figuring it out and making the rules up as we go-- one day at a time.