Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Obligatory, new mommy birth story stuff.

My husband and I are probably the most annoying 1st time parents our friends have. We didn't do any of the “expected” things soon-to-be parents do. We chose a midwife, instead of an OB. We planned on, if the pregnancy and labor went by without complications, to have a water birth with no pain meds in a free-standing birth center. We decided that we wouldn't find out the gender of our baby. We didn't tell our friends the real names we picked for baby, and if pressed about names, gave fake one. (Fergus Bartleby for a boy, and Hephziba Beryl for a girl, if you're curious) And we're not crunchy, granola, hippy types. We just knew what we wanted out of our birth experience, and we kind of liked making our friends go crazy with the not knowing. (Does that make us bad friends?)

I was 10 days past my estimated due date and hugely, uncomfortably pregnant. Around 2 am on April 15, 2013 I woke up, thinking I was having more Braxton Hicks. Sore and unable to get comfortable I decided to take a warm bath. Sitting in the tub I started thinking that maybe it was real contractions afterall, so I started timing them. Around 10 minutes apart, for close to an hour.

The hubby had been working massive amounts of mandatory overtime at work for months and was sleeping like the dead. When I went back to bed at around 3:30 am it took a bit for me to get him conscious enough understand me when I told him that he wasn't going to have to go to work later that morning.

I was actually able to sleep a little bit more, despite the contractions. But by around 6 am, I was awake and the contractions were close enough that I told the hubby to call the midwife and let her know what was up. She told us to come to the birth center around 9 so she could check out my progress. We also called my parents, who live an hour away, and the doula. At 9 am the midwife concluded I was dilated to 4 cm, and so I went home to labor some more.

My parents and the doula helped coach me through the contractions that never seemed to let up. I would periodically take warm showers or baths to help with the pain. Around 1 pm while in a warm bath I suddenly had an incredible urge to push. Once I got out I told the doula about it and she said it would be a good time to go to the birth center. We got to the birth center around 1:30 pm.

Since I was a 1st time mom, and I wasn't having the typical long contractions, the midwife didn't think that I would be much more than 6 cm dilated, but I was 8! I labored in the birthing tub for a while until the midwife decided I needed to switch positions for more effective pushing. Moved to the toilet and stayed there until my legs got tired and I moved back to the birthing tub.

After about half an hour in the tub, I could feel & the midwife could see the baby's head coming down the birth canal. After one good, hard push, the baby's head was out. By that point I was so in the zone, so to speak, that I didn't even hear the midwife say, “Wait a little,” before the last push. I somehow just KNEW that one more good push and I'd have my baby!

After that last push things were kind of a blur for me. All I cared about was the beautiful, tiny baby in my arms. All the fears I had about whether I'd be a good mom or not vanished. The hubby described it as me going “from 0-mom in less than 60 seconds.” :)

Serenity Faye was born at 3:20 pm, weighed a healthy 6 lb 12.5 oz. Apparently she swam out wide eyed & waving (since she came out with one hand by her head.) I feel very lucky that as a first time mom, my birth went exactly as planned and that I have such a wonderful, beautiful, sweet baby girl.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The lingering fear of "What if"

Most of the time shared photo memes on Facebook fall into one of 4 categories for me.  1) Annoying political stuff. 2) Annoying gushy, feel-good stuff.  3) Annoying stupid, juvenile stuff.  4) Stuff that is actually pretty funny that I may or may not share.

But every once in a while someone posts something that, while it may not apply directly to me, breaks my heart a little.  This morning was one of those times.

When I checked Facebook for the first time this morning two of my best friends in the world shared stuff that simultaneously made me heartbroken for them and grateful that my circumstances were not the same.

Their posts about heartbreak that made me tear up at 7AM are related to this image...

So many people in my life have unfortunately gone through the tragedy of the loss of a child before they had a chance to hold their baby and tell him or her that they were loved more than anything else in the world.  And I can't relate. I can't begin to understand what it must be like to lose a baby. I hope that I haven't done or said anything thoughtless because of that.

I get to hold my beautiful baby girl and tell her she's the greatest thing that's ever happened in my life.  I just have the lingering fear of the "what if's" that plagued me during my pregnancy that all can be summed up in one phrase.  "What if something goes wrong?"  I have a feeling that while the particulars of those fears will change over her lifetime, the question of "what if something goes wrong" will haunt me as long as I'm alive.

Monday, July 8, 2013

My “List of things that may happen to you when you're pregnant that nobody tells you about BEFORE you get pregnant.”

I'm now 3 months into being a first time mom. Over the months of pregnancy I ran across a few pregnancy related issues that NOBODY seems to talk about to non-pregnant women. All the pregnant women I've come across in my life talk about the morning sickness, the baby using your bladder as a trampoline, labor pains, post-baby lack of sleep, etc. Then, there are those women that gush “Being pregnant was the best thing in my life. I felt wonderful!” (And any woman who has ever had even the slightest bit of morning sickness, or other pregnancy related issues that left them feeling less than wonderful want to smash in the faces of those gushy, feel-good women!)

But then there are the aspects of pregnancy that you don't hear about until after you get pregnant, start experiencing them, and start asking “Is this normal?!?!?” And of course, your wiser, more experienced friends will assure you, yes it's normal. And you begin to think that all women who have been pregnant and have kept this information to themselves must be closet sadists, because surely nobody who has experienced this would willing to want to do it again, nor wish it on a friend, right?

So, starting chronologically with symptoms I experienced, here goes my “List of things that may happen to you when you're pregnant that nobody tells you about BEFORE you get pregnant.”

#1 – Changes in your boobs

This is one of the first things that I noticed that made me think “Hmm...I wonder if I'm pregnant.” All those hormones flowing through your body will typically do a couple noticeable things to your boobs in pretty short order after you get pregnant.

First, my boobs HURT! If you've ever experienced hormonal boob ache right before you get your period, you have a tiny idea what I'm talking about. My whole boob ached, was tender & sore, but the most sensitive area, nipples, caused pain beyond imagination if I wasn’t careful putting my bra on in the morning. And accidentally rolling over onto my stomach while trying to get comfortable enough to go to sleep made me want to curl up into a fetal position and cry. Fortunately, as my body got acclimated to the flood of hormones, the pain eventually subsided and I didn't have to act like my boobs were made out of eggshells every time I put on my bra!

Second, my boobs grew. A lot. This is, of course, the body preparing to produce sustenance for your unborn child. That's no surprise. The surprise is how FAST it happens. I think gained an entire cup size seemingly overnight. And with that size gain, my boobs also felt like they weighed a TON.

Third, my boobs began to look different. Not just size wise. As a woman's body makes more blood for baby, she gets veiny, and it shows best, you guessed it, on the boobs. Also, all those fun little hormones also bring changes to the nipples & areola, making them darker and larger.

#2 – Morning Sickness.

What, you may be asking? People talk about morning sickness all the time! Of course they do. What they don't do is explain the difference between morning sickness and, say, the stomach flu, which up to this point is the closest experience I had to morning sickness.

My morning sickness resembled the stomach flu in 1 way. I felt nauseous & threw up. If it's the stomach flu, at best you'll feel better in a couple hours, at worst you'll feel better in a few days. With morning sickness (the name itself is misleading) if you're lucky will pass in a couple MONTHS, if you're unlucky will last through the majority of your pregnancy (like one unfortunate lady I know). Don't be fooled. Morning sickness doesn't just strike in the morning. For me, like many women, a more apt description was “All-day-OMG-I'm-Going-to-Die-from-vomiting sickness”. Everything & nothing at all can trigger nausea. Certain smells, or foods, or, if you're really “lucky” just slight movement of your body can trigger the complete emptying of your stomach. For a short period during my bout with morning sickness, I could not drink plain water without immediately getting sick and for the entire 1st trimester, eggs were no bueno. I had to steer a wide berth around the meat department at my local grocery store because the smell of fish made me sooooo sick.

#3 – The “Super Sniffer”

There's a scientific explanation, but I won't bore you with it. Simply put, when you're pregnant, everything, and I mean EVERTYTHING, smells more. You will think you've obtained the world's most useless superpower; super smell. And usually you will start gaining this “superpower” during the time you are battling with morning sickness. 

So that dude that bathes in cologne will make you wretch, your favorite foods will smell so strongly you may not be able to stand to eat them for a while, and you'll want to murder your significant other every time they fart. Best of all*, you'll start to smell...yourself. “Since when have my armpits smelled this bad, AFTER deodorant?” Or, even better, as you go to the bathroom “Ugh, my hoohah STINKS! Have it always smelled this bad? How can nobody else smell this? Ick!!”

*this is complete sarcasm, FYI

#4 – Stretching Ligaments

I first noticed ligament stretches in the form of pain in my abdomen. The first time it happened was frightening! It typically happens when you move, and the ligament stretches to make room for baby. Usually the pain doesn't last for long, and you do get used to it, but it can be scary the first time it happens if you don't know to expect it.

The other way you may notice stretching ligaments is in your feet. Ligament stretching is caused by those pesky little hormones, again. The hormones make your ligaments a little softer, so they stretch better to make room for baby. This is all well and good in your abdomen, where baby is. Unfortunately, hormones don't just target those ligaments. They affect ALL your ligaments. This is why a pregnant woman should not lift too much weight. Softened ligaments mean you are much more likely to injure your back than you would normally. Also, soft ligaments + weight on feet = growing feet, and the possibility of fallen arches. So more than likely you can kiss all your cute shoes good bye, because they'll never fit again...

#5 – Hair, Hair EVERYWHERE

You may have heard that prenatal vitamins are GREAT for your hair and nails. It's true, they are. But between the hormones raging through your body and the prenatal vitamins you will notice that it's not just your nails and the hair on your head that grows great. Leg hair and armpit hair grows at an astounding rate, and you will end up with thick, lush hair in places you NEVER wanted it on your body. If you're lucky, you'll just end up with a hairy butt. That's easy to hide. If you're unlucky, you'll end up with a hairy face. Much harder to deal with!

#6 – Random Disgusting bodily functions

Pregnancy is amazing. A completely new human life is growing inside of you. Pregnancy is also gross. Your body will involuntarily do things that are disgusting and/or embarrassing.

You will be gassy. The bigger the baby grows, the less room there is, and you'll find yourself releasing gas in the usual ways, only more frequently. And probably louder. You won't just burp. You'll belch. And if you have those certain special kind of friends (like I do), you'll garner applause. Your flatulence will be more frequent and inopportune. Move a certain way, or cough, or sneeze, and you may feel like you're trying to blow a hole in your pants.

Which brings another potentially embarrassing bodily function to mind. The more pregnant you get, the more coughs & sneezes frighten you. Because gas may not be the only thing to come out. There is a distinct possibility that you may pee your pants! Especially if your baby is going through a phase where they decide that right on top your bladder makes a FANTASTIC place to sleep.

If that isn't bad enough, at some point during your pregnancy you will battle with constipation. All the hormonal changes in your body affect the intestinal tract, making it easier to get backed up. That, plus room in your abdomen shrinking, can equal a very difficult time in the bathroom if you don't make fiber your friend!

#7 – Bloody noses

This is another fun thing caused by the extra blood & veins the body makes during pregnancy. Extra blood vessels grow in the nose, some of them too close to the nasal membrane, and next thing you know, bloody nose.

I'm one of those unlucky people who gets nosebleeds when my nose gets too dry. Usually it just makes me feel like I have a stuffy nose, instead of being like the stereotypical nosebleed where blood runs out your nose and down your face. However, being pregnant during the time I typically get my nosebleeds (winter) meant that I actually did have to deal with the stereotypical nosebleed. There were mornings where I woke up tasting blood because it ran down the back of my nose & down my throat. Which I suppose was better than waking up with blood all over my pillow & face. I just had to take the “wins” where they came, no matter how small.

#8 – Crazy, vivid dreams

Hormones, again, mess with the pregnant. Not only do hormones affect you physically, they affect you mentally. I never dreamed that I gave birth to a litter of kittens, like my mom did during one of her pregnancies, but I did dream I gave birth in an 1950's style hospital and that all the well-wishers from church who were visiting were annoying me to the point that I swore at them to get them to leave. And that's the most normal of the dreams I had. And each & every one felt entirely real while I was having them.

#9 – Itchy Belly & Boobs

I'm one of those unlucky people who has dry itchy winter skin, and that, combined with being pregnant meant the areas of my body that were growing exponentially, namely my belly & boobs, itched like CRAZY! And it typically got bad in situations where scratching would be socially unacceptable. Like at work. Doesn't matter that you're pregnant; you scratch your belly or boobs in public, you will generate stares!

#10 – Memory Loss & General “Dumbness”

While I've never had a fantastic memory, being pregnant wiped any semblance remembrance out of my life. If it weren't for my husband and writing notes & lists, I would have never got anything done, ever.
It was seriously so bad that if my head weren't attached to my body, I would've forgotten it. I was constantly losing or misplacing keys, cell phone, shoes. Fortunately, it got better after my baby was born!

#11 – Pelvic & Hip pain

As my pregnancy neared an end and my baby moved into the proper position for coming into the world things got very uncomfortable for me. My pelvis began to ache pretty much constantly, along with the occasional shooting pain as her head pressed into my bones. Soft ligaments, added weight and baby in my pelvis made my hips hurt. There were times where it felt like my legs would pop off at the hips like a broken Barbie doll, especially in the last couple weeks before I went into labor.

There you go!  A small, kind of personalized to me (sorry!) list of the things you never hear about pregnancy BEFORE you get pregnant.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Off into the wild blue yonder - of blogging

At midnight, when I'm once again the only creature in the house awake, I am embarking on my latest adventure in blogging.

The last active blog I had was on Xanga. (Soooooooo last millenium, I know!)  I kind of gave it up once I was a happily married woman.  I guess I thought the "trials" of a single college girl made for more interesting blogging than the life of a "boring" married woman.

But now, years later, pounds heavier, and hopefully wiser, I realize that I don't care if my life is boring. Other than being rather short on cash (thanks to getting laid off and knocked up in the same year), I absolutely love my life.  And maybe, just maybe, blogging about my boring life will make someone feel better about having a comparatively less boring one.  :)