Monthly Archives: January 2012

Why Pregnancy is Temporary Purgatory: The Finale with Labor and Delivery

My third trimester began bittersweetly. I finished my tenure at a company where I was growing comfortably (professionally, not girth-wise), finished decorating the nursery, and wondered what on Earth I would do with the next three-ish months of my free time. The dogs had a lot of cuddle time, Battlestar Galactica was watched (along with The Guild and several British series, including Robin Hood, Sherlock Holmes and Merlin), lots of baked goods were made, and mostly unimportant trips to Target were taken. All the blood pressure/ hypertension issues I had seemed to escalate and I was supposed to be on modified bed rest in September. For someone with an obsessive need to scrub baseboards and vacuum who has three dogs, bed rest of any kind is next to impossible. Any time I did lay down, Fletch took it as his cue to practice kung fu. We half-jokingly called him Chuck Norris. If he had been born with a beard, his name would have been Charles Norris Gwinn. For real.

I walked and did prenatal yoga every day that I felt comfortable enough to do so. Little known pregnancy pain- the hormone called relaxin, which your pregnant body produces to loosen joints for labor, can cause joints to loosen too quickly in some places. My knees gave out at random, and I had intense pubic bone pain when I walked or shifted position in my sleep. Ahh, sleep, or lack thereof. I started sleeping less and less. Our once generously sized bed could barely hold our entire family, given that my stomach and butt were in a race to see which could get the biggest. When I did sleep, I had five pillows: one for my knees, one for my feet, one for my belly, two for my head. In the wee hours of the morning, when the little guy usually got his hiccups for the eighteenth time of the day, I wished to fast forward a year so I could be back in shape (mostly), have a baby on a schedule, and feel normal again.

By October my face, ankles and hands had swollen considerably. At my baby showers I felt like an actual elephant in a room, worried I might step on someone and break a foot, or eat too much cake and have eyebrows raised. Those very lovely parties (with very lovely ladies!) ended up being the most fun I was afforded all month. I went to labor and delivery triage twice during October for significantly high blood pressure and was put on bed rest. Every weekly visit I wondered if they were going to tell me I had to stay in the hospital and plan for delivery. Part of me worried for the health of my baby boy, and part of me wanted to have the whole ordeal over and done. The week before Halloween my doctor told me to plan on having a baby within the next few days- almost an entire month earlier than his due date. The ultrasound technician told me, “I don’t know how you’ve been able to walk, he’s sitting so low.” I told her when I walked I felt like I had a bowling ball falling out of my hips, and she showed me why- his head was pushed up against my pubic bone.

Captain Laser Pants went with me to the doctor a few times through the course of pregnancy, but the man has a job, so I didn’t ask him to go to all of them. He went with me on the appointment on November 1st because we were pretty sure they were going to tell us that they were going to schedule a delivery for that weekend or the next week. What we weren’t expecting was the semi-urgency with which our doctor said we’d have a baby the next day. My fluid levels were low, I was having mild contractions, and my blood pressure was still disconcertingly high. The little guy’s heart seemed strong, and he was just at thirty-seven weeks, technically full term, so the doctors were playing it safe and taking him as early as was possible.

CLP and I stared at one another in disbelief most of that night. We watched TV, made dinner together, cuddled on the couch, and tried as much as we could to enjoy our last evening alone. We were both anxious, for different reasons, but neither CLP nor I slept much at all that night. We got to the hospital around 7:30 AM on November 2nd and settled in the delivery room for a day we’ll both more or less remember for the rest of our lives.

CLP walked to pick up some breakfast for himself as I was strapped into a bed with lots of scary contraptions and monitors. Pitocin, for those that are not in the know, is a drug to, well, basically “get things moving” if they aren’t doing so naturally. They gave me my big fat dose around 10 AM. Very shortly after I got my dose, I started having regular contractions that increased in intensity. My original plan was to have a completely natural birth, but since I was given a drug that I reacted strongly to, my contractions were basically on Red Bull- they were more intense, by a long shot, than if I hadn’t been given Pitocin. For the record, I handle pain pretty darn well. I don’t mean like, paper cut pain, I mean the kind of pain that takes your breath away. Btdubs, contractions on Pitocin are that kind of pain. I had one that lasted five minutes- I stayed silent and as still as possible, but my legs were shaking from the intensity. Captain Laser Pants looked on helplessly, but supportively (poor guy). The previous week my very wise sister had told me to consider my husband during labor- watching his wife go through something of this caliber would be very difficult for him. I opted for an epidural. I warned the labor nurse that I would most likely be allergic to the epidural, so she gave me benedryl in hopes that it would help the reaction. CLP stepped out of the room to get more ice chips and water while they stuck the eight foot needle in my back for the epidural. In minutes I felt horrifyingly itchy all over. My ears and eyelids felt like there were ants crawling all over them. I couldn’t scratch, knowing I’d leave marks all over my skin and achieve nothing. The nurse gave me something else for the allergic reaction, which helped tremendously. The next few hours were a waiting game.

We watched Anchorman and Elf (two of my favorite movies), dinosaur documentaries, and I slept. Around 5 PM, things started to get rolling. The little guy was ready to make his appearance in the world, and good Lord, I was ready to stop playing landlord to a lecherous parasite baby (whom I love dearly!). The bad news? He was face up. Again, for those not in the know, babies are supposed to pop out with their faces facing their mothers’ backs. After some unusual positioning, Fletch turned minutes before I started pushing.

Ok, so you know, my opinion of labor is very biased. Mine was incredibly easy. I pushed for fourteen minutes, no pain, no horror movie worthy effects, and ta-da! A baby. Other women have a much harder time. I really was only in labor for eight hours, if that, and as far as first time efforts go, I understand that to be very quick. They plopped this little guy on my chest, screaming and writhing, and my breath caught in my throat. I almost started to cry (gasp!), and couldn’t believe this warm, insanely loud little boy was something CLP and I made. I looked up at my husband (who had graciously stayed at shoulder level to avoid any sort of scarring images) with awe and love. Holy crap, we were parents.

The nurses whisked away my husband and little guy to make sure he was breathing ok. I was told he rolled over a few minutes after he was born, and they commented on his very muscular little legs. He was six pounds, six ounces, twenty inches, born at 6:05 PM, a head full of dark hair, and had a hair line just like his daddy’s.

They made me wait about forty five minutes before I could hop up, which I proudly did, and proceeded around the room with no assistance (yay!). The nurses wouldn’t let me walk to my recovery room, but I tried more than once. We settled in, ate a delicious Jimmy John’s dinner, and let the grandparents ooh and ahh over him. We were a family- a tired, hungry, family. My heart swelled every time I looked at the two most important guys in my life, and I felt complete for the first time.


Sagacious Teachings I Will Probably Forget to Impart to My Son

Through the course of raising a child I would imagine there are countless opportunities for teaching poignant, effective life lessons. I also imagine that, in those times, I will probably be caught off guard, distracted, or overwhelmed by the situation, or more likely than not, completely forget how to speak eloquently. What little ability I once had to weave words intelligently and speak them as such has already gone out the window since the birth of the little dude. When I make attempts to verbally form sentences, they usually come out disjointed and incomplete, at best, or incoherent and without any real English words at worst. So, in those rare moments of mental clarity that I brilliantly come up with a way I’d like to teach my little guy something in the future, I desperately cling to the idea in hopes that I will remember the gist of what I’d like to convey. Here are just a couple teachings I’d like to impart to my son when he is old enough to both understand what I say and appreciate the sagacious methods for which I will pass on my wisdom.

We’ve all seen those ridiculous gigantic pencils, usually sold in tacky novelty gift stores, that rarely attract children when placed next to plastic light up whirlygigs. Less often seen are the monstrous erasers that are the size of books. When mini- Gwinn starts kindergarten, I want to give him a gift on his first day: a gigantic pencil, a gigantic eraser, and a letter from Captain Laser Pants and myself that says:

This big pencil is for all your really BIG ideas – anything you can imagine, anything you can think up, write it down and live it out. Nothing is too big for this pencil and you.
This big eraser is for all your really BIG mistakes – it’s ok to make mistakes and it’s ok to be wrong. You have a giant eraser and two parents who will ALWAYS be there to help you. We love you and we know that you will have some awesome big ideas and some big mistakes too. We can’t wait to see what you come up with, and we can’t wait to be there for you when you need us.
Love, mom and dad

I think that in our society today kids aren’t truly allowed to be “kids”. They’re expected to go to gymnastics, piano practice, karate, ballet, soccer practice, chess club and more all before the tender age of five. It is great to have your child learn discipline or new skill, but it’s also equally important for children to be children. I wonder how much pressure little ones really feel from their parents to be perfect in a society where perfectionism reigns supreme. I know that I want to teach my son that it’s ok to dream big and to fail big, as long as he’s giving it his all.

The second teaching epiphany I had will (hopefully) not be needed for a very, very long time. It stemmed from a conversation CLP and I had about the importance of being selective in one’s mate.

I am an incredibly picky person, not about everything, but about many things. One avenue of my life in which I am particular selective is the produce I buy. I pick up every bag of fruit, every apple, every carton of berries, and turn it over carefully. I don’t grab the ones from the front- they’ve been handled by grubby hands too often. I make sure there are no mold spots, no brown spots, no holes, and no weird markings. If it looks like it has been dropped, or doesn’t look absolutely fresh, I move on. As a result, the produce I have in my home is always beautiful. My sandwiches have crisp tomato slices. My vegetable dishes taste fresh. The fruit my husband eats is carefully selected so that he enjoys it at its fullest potential. Would you want to eat something that lots of hands have been touching? Would you want to eat something that has been passed around, dropped on the ground, sampled by a toddler and then placed back in the bin, or left to rot? Of course not. And if I am this obsessively picky about my produce, and if you are selective about what you eat, then why wouldn’t you be that much more selective about the kind of person you date, and eventually marry? You don’t want to be that person who has been passed around, and you don’t want to be with someone that way, either. It would leave a rotten taste in your mouth, emotionally speaking, to waste time with rotten “produce”. My brother had a phrase in high school for girls like that- dirty pizza. Would YOU want to eat a piece of pizza that had had been dropped on the floor by someone else? No? Didn’t think so.

I sincerely hope to instill selectiveness in my son. And gentility. And to treat women with respect. Is this premature? Some may think so. It is my experience that children learn from infancy by watching what goes on in their home. How a husband and wife treat one another, speak to one another, treat and speak to others all greatly influence the way a child perceives how social interaction should take place. I was truly blessed in this regard- my dad is loving and respectful to my mom. My mom adores my dad. She raised us to speak with proper grammar, to respect our parents, and to be kind. My siblings and I may not be CEOs of fortune 500 companies, but we’re all the kind of people that others like to be around (I’m probably the surliest of us all, so I can’t really claim this one one hundred percent). Do I want my son to be successful? Of course. More importantly, though, I want him to be the kind of man that people respect because of his good heart, solid judgment, and his kindness towards others. If I forget to impart all my other brilliant pearls of wisdom to him, it will always be my goal to teach him to be a good man. He may be my child, but I’m really just a steward of his for now.

Why Pregnancy Is Temporary Purgatory: Part Deux

Because pregnancy is a ten year test of endurance and one’s willingness to suffer, I had to break up my pregnancy story into three separate blog postings. In case you hadn’t caught on to the source of the three part series, it’s based upon my pregnancy trimesters. This one is dedicated to my second trimester.

By the time my second trimester began, I was hopeful that all the crappy ailments of first trimester would lead to the rumored “easy” trimester. Some of the rumors were true- my energy mostly returned, I looked pregnant but not like a house boat, and I honestly wanted to try to enjoy pregnancy. It was difficult to do so. I felt too fat to go to the pool, it was hotter than usual carrying around the extra pounds, and clothes were increasingly unflattering. The upsides? I felt Fletcher kick at twelve weeks, Captain Laser Pants felt him at fourteen weeks. We knew our little guy was strong and feisty- just like his parents. As an aside, EVERYONE comments on how strong he is now, and I am quite proud of my little Chuck Norris.

I had been too sick through the end of my first trimester to continue to work out, which was good, because every time I was at the gym, the movie Knocked Up was on. I resorted to walking with CLP and the dogs and doing prenatal yoga (which I totally attribute to having an easy delivery and staying physically flexible). I tried to eat healthily. I saw my counselor twice a month. I made efforts to move in the “right” direction for pregnancy, you know, the Pampers and Dreft and whatever else commercials tell us pregnancy is wonderful and beautiful. I wasn’t expecting to have any worse side effects of being pregnant other than the pregnancy itself, which I considered bad enough. Until I developed kidney stones. For the record, I’m allergic to any kind of “fun” drug, including but not limited to: codeine, vicodin, lortab, hydrocodone, etcetera etcetera. I took a few low dose codeine with Tylenol pills when the pain was intense, got hives, and tripped like I was touring with a rock band. I threw the rest of the pills away- kidney stone pain was tolerable in comparison. By my next doctor’s visit, my blood pressure had risen substantially. The OB office found protein in my urine. I was seriously worried about preeclampsia, which was ruled out, even though my blood pressure stayed high throughout the rest of my pregnancy.

My engagement ring had to come off because of weight gain and swelling. My hair was growing around an inch a month. I had dreams about having alien babies. I had dreams about CLP leaving me. Not only was my body unfamiliar, but my mind was too. I felt… vulnerable. This was a feeling I had stonewalled myself against wholly. I worked to be emotionally impenetrable, and here pregnancy was, making me feel like a crazy hormonal woman. I had never before been “that girl” who cries at commercials, or movies, and now Battlestar Galactica was making me emotional. I felt like I was a stranger to myself.

What added insult to injury- most of my friends and some of my family forgot that I had any other personality trait aside from “being pregnant”. I think this happens to a lot of women, actually. People think that the only thing that makes a pregnant woman herself is that she’s pregnant. Later, these people assume the only thing about a mom is that she’s a mom. Many women believe this about themselves, from what I have seen. They forget their comedic timing, or their sense of fashion, or that they had hobbies/ interests/ passions and invest completely in the idea that all they can be is a mom. That’s not to say that a woman shouldn’t invest completely in her child. I know that in the future I am looking forward to silly samurai costumes with Fletch as we battle with foam swords on a random Wednesday afternoon while CLP is at work. I can’t wait to help him put up glow in the dark star constellations on his bedroom ceiling. I think one of the best things you can give your child, and your husband for that matter, is all the best things that make you “you”. My weird humor, my love of comic books and sci-fi, my geeky interests in genealogy and astronomy, and ten million other things that make me freaking awesome are going to be seriously fun learning tools and gifts to my son. It began to seriously make me mad when people that originally liked me for all these reasons just forgot them and began only asking about pregnancy. I didn’t want my thirty seven weeks of pregnancy to define who I was to anyone, especially my husband and child.

When we officially found out we were having a boy, we were both relieved and thrilled. CLP said he would need a shot gun collection for having a daughter, and I didn’t want to have hair bow/ barbie doll/ mini-skirt/ hoodlum boyfriend battles with a daughter.

I dropped my work from full time to part time, started reading pregnancy books, and wished for the whole process to speed up. By the end of my second trimester, I had read enough books to terrify myself into believing my body would never be the same; the scales echoed that fear. I had put on nearly forty pounds. I was blessed in one way to weather all this- no stretch marks. That didn’t keep me from slathering on obscene amounts of Vaseline’s cocoa butter oil gel all over every inch of me between my armpits and knees. The experts say stretch marks are mostly genetic, but I say that healthy moisturizing certainly assists in keeping those scars off your skin. Once I went through the third bottle of the stuff, I gave up on reading pregnancy books and switched to books about after the kid is home with you. After all, the doctors and nurses will make sure the baby comes out of you a-ok, and they make sure he stays alive at the hospital, but once you leave and take the mini- you home, that’s all on you. So I started reading books on basic baby care, breast feeding, reviews on baby products (and subsequently making my baby shower registry), and postpartum self care. I had no intentions of beginning motherhood with a sagging belly, big butt and a sack of weepy emotions. When my third trimester began, I had already laid plans for how I wanted to come out of the gate, or in this case, the hospital doors.

Have I mentioned my plans usually don’t go accordingly?

Coming Soon: Why Pregnancy is Temporary Purgatory: Part Three