Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I'm no Anne Geddess

"Send me pictures" a number of people cried.

And then *I* cried.

'Cause seriously, it was hard enough to get a picture of my pregnant belly (the DB *did* finally take some photos, which are of course now lost somewhere on his computer leaving me with only my lame attempts) and now I'm supposed to photograph this tiny wriggling baby?  One handed, or course, because she will just Not Stay Still.  Honestly, I ask her to smile and hold that pose and she sticks her hand in her mouth or bursts into tears or makes a monkey face.  WORK WITH ME CHILD!!


This is not my child, but they share the same hairdresser.


And then suddenly she'll smile.

But the minute I hold the shiny silver box up to my face, she loses the cute "oh, I'm going to lay here and smile and coo at you" face.  It's remarkable.  I have an adorable child, but you'd never know it from the photographs.  And when I finally get a good shot and I crow with joy, I then discover that the flash didn't go or the auto focus chose the floor or my foot to focus on.  Turns out I am a lousy photographer.


The Last Belly Shot - taken a few days before popping


I gotta work on my aim...


It's out of focus, but seriously, it's the best picture I have taken so far!!

I can take great pictures of inanimate objects.  I'm even pretty good at cats.  Sleeping cats, at least.

But I am lousy, awful, terrible, and just plain bad at photographing people.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"That's my girl!"

We are intensely proud of our little girl.  Of course, at this point, there is very little that we can be proud of, because it's not like she does a whole lot.  She eats, sleeps, poops, and stares up at us with this "I cannot believe that of all the parents in the world, I got stuck with these two bozos" look, right before she launches into what we call "Very Angry Baby."

"Very Angry Baby" is a performance art piece involving red face, arched back, and an enviable lung capacity.

But while other people are impressed with the Spawn's full head of hair (it's straight like mine, but dark blond, like the DB's) and strong neck muscles (all the better to head-bang into the soft and bouncy boobies, my dear), we are a impressed by something slightly different.

I'm proud to say, my girl can burp like her mother.

It's an impressive, full-bellied belch that rips forth from her tiny body like an angry volcano demanding a virgin sacrifice.

BUUUUURP-ARUUGHA!

"That's my girl!" I proudly proclaim, much to the DB's disgust (he's grossed out by burps and has spent the last 8 years unsuccessfully trying to get me to tone it down).  "Better up than down," I tell him.  But it seems he disagrees.  Surprisingly, because I never knew he felt this way, the DB is far more proud of her farts.  The more explosive, reverberating, and involving poop, the better.

Last week, while I was attempting to bathe a Very Angry Baby, she managed to shoot poop out of her little bottom a full 30 centimeters across the bathroom floor to nail my leg, and the DB was ecstatic.  "That's my girl!" he crowed.

And when I was changing her just the other day and she managed to get me IN THE FACE, his glee and pride could not have been bigger.

So imagine my satisfaction this weekend when, after her bath, she got the DB well and good, with a force and quantity so strong that it not only covered his pants, it soaked though to his underwear.  He stripped and finished dressing the Spawn before bringing her to me for the reloading refilling feeding.

AG: Oh my!
DB: *hands the babe over* ???
AG: Did you forget something when you got dressed today?
DB: *looks down* ???
AG: Didn't you have pants on earlier today?  And you know, underwear?
DB: *sighs* She got me.
AG: *laughs so hard it's difficult to keep the boob in the baby*

A day later she tried to get him again.  He's learned a trick, though.  It's grab the baby's arms and get her to sit up, so the firing mechanism butt is pointed down.  So the next day, she tried to surprise him by letting rip not once, but multiple times during the change.  The DB went through a stack of clothes and cloth diapers (which we use to cover the changing pad for this very reason).  But he remained poop free. Much to the Spawn's dismay.

The DB remains proud, however, of his daughter's achievements.

I only hope he stays this proud when we get to potty-training.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Boob Wars


This post is NOT about the ongoing battle debate over breastfeeding in public.  Nor is it about pornography or topless bathing or whether or not nipples are the line between tasteful and ZOMG BOOBS!

This is about a war I have with the Spawn.  Over my breasts.

***NOTE: This post may cause some to clutch their chest or squirm in pain/embarrassment/discomfort.  It involves nipples, blood, and an imaginary gospel choir.  You have been warned.***

*I* happen to view my glorious mammaries (oh, yes, the engorgement has served me well) as miracles of modern milk production (does anyone else feel like bursting into a Gilbert and Sullivan sing-a-long?  Oh, that’s just me?  Right, carry on then…).

The Spawn sees them as her bestest playthings eveh!  What great drums, they are!  Hear the change in tone as she slaps them when they are full and when they are empty!  Need to wear down those baby nails?  Here, just scratch at my breasts, sooner or later that pesky nail will catch on my skin - better that than the soft baby cheeks!    And don’t get me started on the fun you can have with NIPPLES!!

To paraphrase my husband: Babies are really sneaky.

The Spawn lulled us into a false sense of security.  Those first 24 hours were so EASY!  She nursed straight away!  She nursed quietly and calmly, with great dignity.  She slept easily and gave all the right cues so that we knew when to change her diaper and when to cuddle her close.

Lies.  All lies.

Soon we learned that I’d birthed a piranha.  No, worse, I’d birthed a vampire.

My child bites. 

And worse than that, she has a little vacuum of a mouth that can Hoover mammary tissue out though the teat.

I began to bleed when I nursed.  Not just a little bit, but full on dark red blood.  Once, in a desperate act to keep my child from drinking my blood, I rushed to grab some paper tissues from the bedside table.  During that 5-second dash, I bled down my chest, into my pants, dripped a trail across the floor (from the directionality of the drops, we conclude the victim was alive and hobbling at the time of the blood loss) and soaked the paper I grabbed.  My child looked up at me with blood all over her face and down the front of her onsie and squawked,

“Feed me Seymour!”


Or something.

Now before leaving the hospital, everyone and their supervisor had a look at my feeding techniques.  This is because Evolution Failed.  Apparently.  See, the story goes, we aren’t born knowing how to nurse and it must be taught.  How we survived as a species for 4 million years before the arrival of the Lactation Consultant, I’ll never know, but there it is folks - Babies R Stoopid.

I’m getting the place where I may pop the next person in the kisser who says the word “latch” to me.

“You just need to have the right latch.”

“Wait until the baby opens her mouth wide, then bring her to the breast, and you will have the perfect latch!”

“You will notice with the perfect latch, there will be no pain.”

BULLSHIT!

First of all, most of those women, looking at my darling succubus, cooed “oh, she has a great latch!” and then when I said, “Oh, but it hurts” they replied, “yes, it does hurt, but that will pass.  You just need to toughen up.  And make sure you have a good latch.  It won’t hurt if you have a good latch.”

M’kay.

So a week later the midwife comes by and checks me out.  We do the nursing before the judge and the midwife proclaims, “what a nice latch!” And I bring up the pain.  And the bleeding.  The copious copious bleeding.  My husband points out the biting.  The midwife watches the nursing a bit more.  I think she sees the way I bite my lip and hum loudly that this is not the uterus-shrinking pain that I was supposed to feel (did I?  Who knows, my nipples were being sawed off by Gummy McSpawnsen!) nor the let-down tingly pain (which brings me to point 2 - God is NOT a Woman because WHO ON EARTH THINKS BREAST PAIN IS A GOOD DESIGN COMPONENT?).  She suggested a nipple shield and then went and fetched one for me.

If I may bring in my imaginary gospel choir for a moment…

PRAISE JESUS WE HAVE BEEN DELIVERED FROM THE DARKNESS AND THE END TIMES!

Hey, did *YOU* know that breastfeeding wasn’t supposed to cause that much pain and suffering after the first week?  I cried for HOURS afterwards.  Tears of joy.  Of sweet, sweet relief!  Feeding my child would no longer be a trial and I would no longer dread that small gaping mouth.*

*Except at 3 in the morning when momma has to pee REAL BAD.  That shit still sucks balls.

So now we had the pain wrapped up.  There was just that pesky bleeding.

Did you know that if you feed your child bloody milk, they don’t poop the right color of poop?  True story.  And not pooping the right color is A Big Worry to midwife-y sorts.

Now we’re at a week and a half old and I’m sitting in front of another midwife (because I’ve got a new goal of showing my nipples to every health care practitioner in Denmark) for the baby’s hearing test and yet we are again discussing latch and nipples.  It was a fair enough question; I had just bled all over her office.  “But,” I proudly pointed out, “it doesn’t hurt any more.”  

She looked slightly ill.  What?  Do not all women bleed profusely from the nipples at this stage?  THEY DON’T??  Please lord, don’t tell me it’s the latch…

She sends me to another nurse who also looks at my mangled nipples in horror.  “Didn’t they give you something to put on your nipples?” she asked.  “They told me to use breast milk and air dry,” I say, thinking about the $10 salve I’d bought in the chemists that was languishing on my shelf (I hadn’t had time to google the ingredients so I didn’t know if it would be harmful if ingested or not).  The nurse hurried off and brought back a little jar of what we think is lanolin.

LORD WE THANK YOU FOR SAVING US NO GOOD SINNERS!  HALLELUJAH! 

Oops, please pardon the imaginary gospel choir; they get a bit over excited.

OVER EXCITED FOR JESUS!

Zip it!

Ahem, anyway, that lanolin was AMAZING!  I healed right up.  And this was very good because I’d been trying to wear woolen nursing pads and the damn things kept sticking to my wounds.  The nurse suggested I flip the pads over and use the silk side instead.

Bloody nursing pads need to come with a damn instruction manual.  “In case of copious bleeding, try using the flip side, the silky side, instead.  Oh, and get yourself some lanolin, girl, cause DAMN!”

And within another week, I was healed.

HEALED! 

I’m now working on weaning the Spawn (and my nipples) off the nipple shield.  So far there has been pain, but no blood.

Of course this would be easier if she hadn’t decided that the correct latch was for sissies.  What are you supposed to do with a child who decides that nursing is best accomplished by opening the mouth wide and going “haaaaaaaaaaa” while waving her head back and forth over the nipple WITHOUT SUCKING??  “I’m sorry,” I holler over her screams of hunger, “but that’s not how the milk will get in your belly!”  And then, just as I ‘bring the baby to the breast’ she shoves BOTH HANDS into her mouth.  Forget the part about babies not being born knowing how to nurse, this child is actively participating in Darwinism, only she’s trying to win the Darwin Awards.

But when she’s got both hands in the mouth and is beet red from screaming and has this look of complete and utter ANGER on her face - “why won’t these DAMN HANDS give me MILK!?” I find myself laughing.  Sometimes ‘Angry Baby’ is just FUNNY.

This is not the Spawn.  This baby is not nearly angry enough.

Friday, April 01, 2011

A Birth Story


How did it get to be April Fool's Day?  Thankfully, I'm so out of it I haven't noticed it and so far have missed all the great pranks that people keep talking about.  

Since I have a few minutes while my child sleeps on my belly (slowly deflating, but still quite "bowl full of jello-licious" - that whole "you won't be able to get back into your pre-pregnancy clothes right away" is BULLSHIT, they should write "you'll be wearing your maternity clothes for WEEKS afterwards, lard butt, so don't even pretend you'll be wearing even 'comfy' clothes on the way home from the hospital, you'll be wearing whatever you wore IN"), I'm going to write up the birth story.  Apologies in advance for any dangling modifiers or odd word usage and/or order - I have a baby on my lap so I can't see the keyboard and my boobs are slowly becoming engorged... and that shit hurts, okay?

Friday, March 11th, 9:15 pm.  Week 38 + 6 days.  My water broke, right after we sat down for dinner.  That was a bit of a surprise.  I expected contractions FIRST.  But there were no contractions, other than the Braxton-Hicks that are completely normal, but not very helpful.  The midwife suggested that we try to get some sleep and talk again in the morning.  It was a pretty long night.  I kept waking up with more water gushing out and one or two big contractions that made me think that things were underway… but morning came and the Spawn was still snug in my belly.

We’ve called everyone on my side of the family - or at least tried, since my poor mother kept not being near a phone when something happened.  We called the DBs mom, who decided to come down and help out.

Looking back on this, the DB and I decided that next time, we are SO not calling anyone until things are much further along.  This is because...

Saturday, March 12th, week 39 - nothing happened.  We went to the midwife who suggested we go to the big hospital in Svendborg.  My dreams of a natural birth were slipping away.  I had to start active labor before the last ferry boat left or I was going to go to the hospital to get induced.  

So we waited all Saturday for contractions and they started at 7:30 or so in the evening and we figured she was on her way so we didn’t go to Svendborg, instead we went to the local hospital.  Ooooh, those were some good contractions.  They gave me some morphine to take the edge off the pain and it was so good I fell asleep and the contractions stopped.  Boy was the DB not impressed.

***Note: at this point in telling the story, many listeners have gotten very upset about the morphine.  While morphine has been known to slow down labor, it is still listed as a drug that can be used in labor, provided that the midwife or doctor doesn't think that birth will occur in the next 3 or 4 hours.  Maybe the midwife gave me to strong of a dose or maybe the labor was not nearly as active as we thought.  Maybe the morphine had something to do with aborting the labor or maybe it had nothing to do with it. Either way, morphine is still AWESOME and I highly recommend it... for pain.  But maybe not labor.  But for pain, oh heck yes!***

So the next morning, March 13th, week 39 + 1 day, we caught the ferry to Svendborg.  We got a ride in the ambulance, which was quite comfortable.  Once we arrived, things progressed pretty quickly.  Because the water had broken so long ago, I needed to have penicillin, so I was hooked up to a bag right away.  About half an hour later they asked if I had any allergies to medication... like, you know, penicillin.  We all had a good laugh about that one.

***Note: if you have an allergy to any medication, mention it up front when you go to a Danish doctor or hospital or maybe just have it tattooed on your arm, because in a slightly stressful situation, like where you go in to have a baby 48 hours after your water is broken on the same weekend that half of Denmark decides to have babies and every midwife is called in and there aren't enough assistants SHIT GETS CRAZY.***

Then they also needed to monitor the baby, so I had a big fat belly-band for her heart rate and one for the contractions.  Which weren’t happening.  I had visions of an upcoming C-section.  I really really wanted to get this baby out (SORRY MEN) vaginally.  But before they hooked me up to the “drip” - the drug that would induce contractions, the midwife asked if I’d like an enema.  

Now I'd read about the chances of me pooping during labor and it put me off.  Alas, I was already pregnant and you can't "tag back" pregnancy, so I was totally down for an enema anyway AND THEN I read a blog post just a few days before where women who had just given birth were discussing how awful that first poop was after labor and I thought, "if I can put that off as long as possible, I'll gladly shoot salt-water up my butt!"  Why, yes, kind midwife lady, I *will* take that enema!  Make mine a double!

That kick-started contractions.

Seriously.  I had a heck of a time getting off the toilet.  Mercy.

Over the next two hours I went from 1 to 3 centimeters dilated and it hurt so bad that I could only cry BETWEEN contractions.  I was trying to roll with the pain, but my god, that was just awful.  I moaned like Tarzan and sobbed like a baby.  I could barely breathe, so when the midwife looked at me, face full of concern, and asked if I wanted something stronger than the laughing gas (which was SO NOT WORKING) I said, YES!!

So I opted for the epidural.  I hadn’t wanted to do an epidural, I’d wanted to be all natural and glorious, but MY GOD THE PAIN!  They kept me on a low dose, so I could still get on my feet (this is because the baby was “sunny side up” instead of “over easy” and they wanted me on my hands and knees to encourage her to flip - but she didn’t, my stubborn girl) but it took the edge off.  I was able to stand on my own, I could feel my legs and my belly wasn't numb, so it wasn't that crazy.  Also, despite all the wires and tubes now running down into me, I was surprisingly mobile.  Even if it required two people to help me roll over by holding all the wires and tubes out of my way.

They also put me on the “drip” because this child needed to be OUT, I was still gushing water, so there was a desire to move things along before it got REALLY COMPLICATED.  Two hours later and I was at 7 centimeters and just a little while after that I got to 10 and entered Transition.

The midwife really wanted the Spawn to roll over, but she wasn't listening and the second time I was on my hands and knees I was screaming into the pillow with every fiber of my being and that was IT.  I rolled back over and between gasps told the midwife I was NOT going to do THAT AGAIN.  They could go on and cut the baby out of me, but I was NOT going to get in that position again.

Around about this time I have a hard time remembering what happened next.  I’m afraid the reason why was the pain.  It was terrifically awful.  The DB was a champ, he pitched in and helped in a way that I don’t think either of us really intended.  I had wanted him to hold my hand and say encouraging things while labor continued.  I really did not want him down there at the business end of things.  Something like that could be a bit traumatic and *I* didn't want to watch it happening, so why force him to watch it?

Oh well, I'm sure he's blocked it from his mind.  At least the really gruesome bits.

Anyway, as the pain progressed, DB held my right leg (you may hear me complain about this leg later in life, I think he wrenched it… it’s certainly not been the same since) and ran about getting me drinks of apple juice and water, and drying me off with a towel.  I think he grew two extra sets of arms to do all of this at once.  But it means he had a front row seat in the birth of our child.  

During the final stages, the midwife, the assistant midwife, and a doctor were all in the room with us.  As the DB pointed out later, it was a bit worrisome that a doctor was there.  The doc said "well, I don't really have anything better to do" but now that we know how many other women were giving birth that day, it suggests that there was some worry that I'd have to be rushed off for surgery.  

So there we were.  The assistant held my left leg, DB held my right, the midwife encouraged me, and the doctor was on stand-by.  And I pushed and pushed and screamed and screamed and then pushed some more.

I’m proud to say that I pushed her head out all on my own.  Then the doctor had to reach in and pull her the rest of the way out.  I think her shoulders had gotten stuck.  And although they say there is no such thing as a dry birth, because even if the water breaks in advance, the mother’s body continues to create amniotic fluid, I cry BULLSHIT!  It felt like she was covered in sandpaper.  The DB said the Spawn was pretty dry upon removal.  I barely remember a thing.  I think I glanced down once when they said the head was out, because I didn't believe it and I was determined to finish pushing out this child.  I saw her just after she was pulled out, before they hurried her over to the warming table to check her out.  The DB followed her, just as I'd asked him to do, but probably because he was so worried, and not because of any request of mine.  Despite being warned that babies are blue and often limp directly after birth, he did have a bit of a panic.  But then she grabbed on to his finger and let out a terrific yell.  And the DB cried.  I was mostly relieved.  I’d finally gotten her out, she was fine and the pain was finally OVER! 

She nursed almost immediately.  And pooped.  I had to get stitches because I did have some considerable tearing of my perineum.  I even tore my sphincter muscle slightly.  And why yes, that first poop after labor SUCKS, even with (SORRY EVERYONE) stool softeners.  

If we do this again, I'm opting for NOT having my water break two days in advance and for a doctor with smaller hands.  Sweet Jesus.

But as I look down at her, not quite three weeks old, sleeping on my chest, it was worth it.  She is just perfect.