My Initiation into Motherhood

April 30, 2007

As promised, here is PJ’s birth story.  I still can’t believe I hadn’t told the story before.  It’s one of my favorite stories to tell, and I’m always looking for a new audience.  There’s really nothing that private about it either, and I’m sorry I gave that impression.  You guys should know by now that I’m open enough about everything else, so why not his birth too?

Everything started with the rough pregnancy.  I won’t list all the issues again, but I do suspect the hematoma contributed to the early birth.  We were informed when it was finally diagnosed that there seems to be some connection between hematomas and premature labor.  Unfortunately, despite the connection, I was not eligible for any preventative measures because I didn’t have a history with the problem.  I shrugged it off, sure that wouldn’t be a problem for me.

Still, I worried about premature labor for the next few months.  I memorized every possible symptom for premature labor and made deals with fetus-PJ that he wouldn’t come until after 30 weeks.  I took his kicks in response as his agreement.

Somehow even after all that worry and preparation, I didn’t recognize what was happening to me when it did happen.  It started late one Thursday night at 31 weeks 5 days, about 10:00 (actually right after “adult activities,” a fact I often leave out of the story, even though I wonder how it factors into what happened next).  I had some come-and-go lower back pain that felt more achy than anything.  I put a heating pad on my back and tried to go to sleep.  The pain continued to get more severe, so I got up and took a hot shower, moving the shower head so that it would focus right on my lower back.  It felt good but didn’t stop the pain.  At some point after that, I noticed the pain in the front of my abdomen as well as the back.  I took some extra-strength Tylenol to help the aches and pains go away.

The rest of the night was spent fighting with the pain.  It would go away for a few minutes, so I’d try to sleep.  But then it would come back before I could doze off.  I noticed that if I counted slowly to thirty at first, the pain would usually ease up by the time I finished.  Then it was 45, and by morning, it was 60.  I alternated between lying in bed, trying to find a comfortable position, and pacing the floor of our apartment during the worst of the pain.  About the time the sun was rising, I was feeling the need to go to the bathroom every time the pain hit.  My bladder and bowels both emptied themselves over the next few hours, a little with each pain.  I remember sitting on the toilet, looking through my well-worn copy of What to Expect, trying to diagnose what was wrong with me.  The pain felt nothing like labor, especially the descriptions of premature labor, so I looked at other possibilities.  I finally decided I must have a killer kidney infection because of the sharp back pain.  I knew all they would do at the doctor or the ER would be admit me to the hospital to feed me antibiotics through an IV (I still couldn’t swallow most pills).  Not wanting to spend that much time in a hospital an hour from home and M, I kept hoping the pain would go away on its own.

Finally at about 11 or 11:30 am, M persuaded me to call my doctor.  He hadn’t realized just how much pain I was in all night and I was starting to worry him.  The doctor was somewhat comforted that I assured her I knew it wasn’t labor and was willing to let me wait it out over the weekend as long as things didn’t get worse.  Just to cover her bases, though, she told me that if I had six pains in an hour to head to the hospital.  Twenty minutes and four excruciating pains later we packed up and started the hour-long drive across town for the hospital.

We had no idea where we were going in the hospital, having never been there before since we missed our chance to go to a birthing class at all.  We got sidetracked on the wrong floor and had a kind nurse help us to the right place.  I think she knew what was going on at the time even though we didn’t.  I walked all the way to the triage area on my own power, refusing the offer of a wheelchair.  While I was changing into the hospital gown in the bathroom, I was hit with the worst pain yet.  I couldn’t even move while it was going on.  Still, I didn’t think I was in labor.  Five minutes later, in bed with the monitors strapped around my belly, I wasn’t the least bit surprised to see that it was registering contractions.  I figured they were Braxton-Hicks and unrelated to my current pain.

The nurse went to check me, just to make sure I wasn’t dilated.  Before she could get the speculum in me, she dropped it and rushed back out of the room.  She managed to call over her shoulder calmly as she left that all she saw was my bag of waters.  From there, I remember chaos.  There were frantic calls to my doctor, having my bed laid all the way back so that my head was lower than my belly (calling on the aid of gravity, I think), talks of admission and NICU and not to push.  Through all of it, I recall utter calm, as though every panicked nurse was crazy, as though I knew every step of what was going to happen before it did.  It was like I was watching the whole situation on tv and it didn’t affect me at all.

There were phone calls to the family in the brief seconds we had between signing papers, getting checked again, a quick sonogram to make sure PJ was head-down, having my water broken, getting a last-minute epidural (yay!), and the million of other things I’ve forgotten.  Suddenly I was pushing.  I remember this period as a fun, relaxing time (laugh if you must).  It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be and didn’t last long at all, about two contractions total.  The contractions still weren’t regular, so I had long, painless periods between each contraction.  I remember sitting there with my legs in the stirrups laughing and making jokes with M and the doctor and nurses.

Then suddenly the doctor was holding up PJ for us to see.  M tells me that the doctor wasn’t prepared for how light he was and almost dropped him when he flew out of me.  He was crying from that first second, and I knew as I’d known all along that he was going to be just fine, early or not.  The cleaned him up and called out his apgars as that icky placenta was delivered and I had the one stitch put in my tiny tear.  “*8!” one nurse called loudly right away.  A few minutes later I heard, “9 1/2” called out.  I beamed in pride at each successful score.  I had a brief moment to hold him before they whisked him away to the NICU.  I remember feeling quite detached as I looked down at this tiny baby they told me was mine, the little squirmy thing that had been kicking my belly for all those months.  It was impossible to believe at the moment that he was mine.  That was the only time I got to see him for another eighteen hours.

Fast-forward through both his and my hospital stays.  There were good days and bad days.  I sank into a deep depression that was only eased by getting to see my son for that one hour each day (sandwiched between a one-hour drive across town each way), and even then only if things went well that day.  He never did have any of the serious issues they predicted when they talked to us in the first hours after he was born.  The only issue was apnea, and that was never even proven.  The pulmonologist we were referred to in the months after his birth never could determine why he had been sent home on an expensive apnea monitor that hampered his development until he hit six months or so.  I still have hurt feelings when I remember that time of our lives.  It was traumatic, even if it was an easy experience compared to that of many NICU moms.  I never want to have to go through any of that again, which is why I tend to be paranoid about every little difference with this pregnancy.  At least now you know why I succumb you to all my worries and complaints.

There’s so much more I could tell you and feel like I’ve forgotten, but I suspect this is plenty long enough as it is.  I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures from PJ’s early days.

PJ being checked out right after birth (taken with M’s cell phone–we left without the camera)

the first time I held PJ (also a cell phone pic)

a day or so later in the NICU

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Another Busy Morning

April 29, 2007

I forgot to set my alarm last night to wake us up in time for church this morning.  Good thing my bladder is almost as punctual as an alarm these days.  It woke me up about ten minutes late.  M and I debated making ourselves get up, but we finally did.  PJ was up and ready for breakfast anyway.  We were a couple of minutes late, but not enough to be embarrassing.

Church went really, really well.  All the questions we had after last week were answered, and quite satisfactorily.  PJ made it all the way through church in the nursery.  This was the first time ever that we hadn’t had to be called halfway through.  It’s hard to even explain how satisfied I feel after such a successful morning.  We’re hesitant to absolutely declare that this church will be our church, but after this morning, we are certainly leaning that way.

After church, we made plans with a co-worker of M’s who happens to live pretty close to the church.  The co-worker’s wife is going to watch PJ for us on Tuesday when we go for the ultrasound, and we all thought it might be a good idea for us all to spend some time together before then.  We’d met before once but hadn’t gotten a chance to know each other.  Lunch went really well.  M and the co-worker talked shop while the wife and I talked babies.  PJ insisted on entertaining us the whole time, especially with his method of eating a grilled cheese sandwich (opening the pieces of bread, peeling the cheese off and eating just that, not the bread).  She also has a newborn, so I got to ooh and aah over the adorable little girl.  I’d forgotten how tiny, helpless, and floppy newborns are!  I guess it’s good I got the reminder now so I have a better idea what to expect in another five months.  We are probably going to offer to watch their little girl sometime to make up for this huge favor, and that will be a good chance to practice dealing with a newborn and a toddler at the same time.

PJ was dead tired by the time we made it home.  He’d been in a great mood all along–thank goodness–but he’d needed a nap at least two hours earlier.  Yay for long naps!  I may even be able to sneak in one of my own before he wakes up.

By the way, I’ve hit the insatiable stage of the pregnancy.  I’ve been starving ever since I woke up yesterday.  If I keep eating like I have been, I may just start to gain some of that weight back at last.  The M&M’s I suddenly started craving while M was conveniently at the grocery store last night will probably contribute much to that weight.  At least this is way more fun than being nauseous all the time!


Spring Cleaning

April 28, 2007

Guess what we’ve been doing today?  Since most of you are smart enough to read the title first, you’ve probably already figured it out.  I’ll call it spring cleaning, but I have a sneaking suspicion both M and I are nesting.

It all started when I woke up to discover M was vacuuming.  This is not unusual; he often vacuums on weekends since that’s too big a chore for me to try right now.  While he was vacuuming, we realized how dirty the floors were, so we decided to move the furniture to vacuum under it.  And while it was already moved, why not rearrange the living furniture to make it more PJ-proof?  So we did.

That led to moving the books into our room, the last step of our PJ-proofing plan for the living room.  We were left with an empty wall, so we had to put up the pictures we’d been accumulating for ages and didn’t have a good place for.  And while we had the nails and tools out, we thought it was appropriate to put up the shelves we bought for PJ’s room a month or two ago.  That was a task we’d been putting off for a long time because of how complicated it was going to be.  We had to find a time when a) we were both motivated to do it, b) PJ was awake, c) M was home, and d) I was feeling good enough to keep an eye on PJ and give M a helping hand.  It takes a long time for the stars to align just right for all four criteria to fall into place.  That finally happened today.

Now I want to find the cool decorative stuff I want to put on the shelves.  It would be easier if I knew who this new baby was going to be (we have one shelf for each kid), but I think we’re going to go out tonight to find something more generic to start out with.  Getting the shelves up makes me anxious to get the room completed as well.  It’s way too empty at the moment. 

M and I actually discussed the possibility of getting the new baby’s crib soon to finish the room, but we decided it was best to wait.  We’re both having difficulties doing anything permanent for this baby yet.  We are both afraid that something is still going to happen to keep this baby from making it.  I guess PJ’s premature birth was a reality check.  Before, we had assumed from the first positive pregnancy test that we would be taking a baby home with us.  Now we know there are no guarantees.  I know it’s stupid to be so scared about it that I’m halfway through my pregnancy without one thing bought for this baby, but I feel like I’ll be jinxing things if I start acting like I’m sure everything will be fine.

Irrational fears…I could go into a whole post on those alone.  At least I know it’s irrational, right?


Cool Pregnancy Talk

April 27, 2007

So this totally doesn’t fit with the title, but I feel the need to follow up from yesterday first.  Did you know that yesterday’s drama actually got me my record number of hits, even more than the pictures that started the whole drama?  The trend is continuing today, too.  Thanks for your support and your patience as I deal with all of this.  Also, I had a “d’oh” moment last night when I was trying to sleep.  Duh, why don’t I give you my flickr address so that all you have to do is click it then my profile to add me to your contacts (once you’re logged in or signed up of course).  Here it is: my flickr address.  Or if you’d rather, you can send me your own flickr address through e-mail and I can add you instead.  I’m planning to start adding and re-adding pictures through flickr later today.

Now for the cool stuff.  Baby is getting super active.  S/he is liable to start kicking me any time of day now, not just when I’m lying down at night before sleep right after my nightly milk and cookies.  I think all of the movement could be related to the kid’s apparent sweet tooth.  S/he has me eating cookies and ice cream and sugar of any kind all day long.  With PJ it was a better balance of sweet and salty, so this is kind of fun.  I love having an excuse to eat junk!

Despite all the junk I’m eating, though, I’m still not really gaining weight.  I feel victorious every time I step on the scale to discover I’ve gained another half a pound.  I’m currently a mere two pounds below my pre-pregnancy weight, which is a gain of about five pounds from my lowest weight.  The doctor doesn’t seem concerned about my weight at all, so I’m not worrying either.  I keep reminding myself how easy it will be to lose the pregnancy weight after if I hardly gain anything.  I just can’t figure out how my weight is being re-proportioned.  I don’t feel like I’m losing anywhere; my belly and boobs just keep getting bigger without sucking fat from anywhere else.  I don’t get it.  Not that I’m complaining!

The Braxton-Hicks I mentioned feeling for the first time last week have continued sporadically.  I read shortly after the initial panic that they usually start around twenty weeks, or earlier for a second pregnancy or a small-framed woman.  I’m both, so it’s completely normal.  I’m just crazy paranoid about contractions after my experience last time.  I worry every time I get a B-H, and if two occur close together, I make a point to lie down and relax with a bottle of water.  It’s a good excuse to take things easy for a little while anyway.  If they keep happening as frequently as they have for the past week, I’m going to drive my doctor crazy with calls to her worried I’m in early labor.  I’m not making the same mistake I did last time.  (By the way, it came to my attention last night that I’ve never explained what happened in my last pregnancy to make PJ come early.  I’ll tell it sometime this weekend or early next week probably.  That might clear up what I keep referring to.)

The coolest pregnancy news is what happens on Tuesday.  That’s our day for the BIG sonogram.  I’ve been counting down the days for a week or so now (four left!).  I can’t wait, not only to find out hopefully that everything is normal still, but also the gender.  I feel like I’m at an intersection of two roads, one paved with trucks, mud, and frogs in the laundry, and the other with glitter, bows, and kitty cats (okay, ignore the disgusting part of that statement).  I know which path I hope I get to walk down, but I’ve come to accept either happily.  I’m just anxious to know which path I’ll be taking and maybe even start walking down it just a little.  I just hope each path means what I think it means, because otherwise I have a much longer path to acceptance than I ever expected to take!

I could write a whole post about my excitement over that sonogram on Tuesday and my hopes and dreams and possible disappointment if Baby doesn’t cooperate.  As long as I have other things to talk about, though, I’ll spare you.  And you know I’ll let you know what we find out as soon as I get a chance after the procedure on Tuesday.


Success!

April 26, 2007

I finally found what I am pretty sure is a foolproof way to show you pictures without leaving a trace–sort of.  If I upload the photos to flickr, then send you to the picture’s address on flickr (but not post the photo itself here), flickr will only show you the photo if I’ve added you and your flickr account as a friend.  I don’t like asking you to create a flickr account merely to view my photos, but I’m willing to make you make a bit of an effort to protect my own security.

If you don’t already have a flickr account, go here to create one.  Then request to add me as a contact.  If you don’t know how to do that, search (upper right corner) for my e-mail address (top of the blog’s sidebar).  View my profile, then add me as a contact using the link on the right.  They will send me an e-mail letting me know you’ve added me, and I’ll add you right back as long as I can tell who you are (e-mail if you don’t think I will be able to).  This will enable you to see all my private pictures on flickr.

I have my first practice picture here.  I will leave this post up so that you can check whether all this is working by clicking on the link to the picture.  You won’t be able to see it until you’ve signed into your flickr account and I’ve added you as a contact.  (Incidentally, if you’d rather not add me as a contact but want me to add you, e-mail me with that information and your flickr account name or e-mail address so that I can find you.)  Oh, and if you know an easier way to add a contact, please tell me.  I’m still kind of a newbie to flickr and don’t know all the tricks yet.

Questions?  Problems?  Found something I’ve overlooked?  Please let me know in the comments or by e-mail.


Not Sure What to Say

April 26, 2007

Did you know that if you google “afterthoughts,” this blog shows up on the first page of results?  A week ago or so when I tried, it didn’t show up in the first twenty or so pages, which is when I finally gave up looking.  According to my computer-savvy husband, google lists their results by the number of links to that name.  That means that the word “afterthoughts” links here about the sixth most times in all of Internet-world.

I thought that if that ever happened, I would be thrilled.  It would mean the popularity of my blog had radically increased.  All of a sudden that’s not such a good thing.  I love having lots of readers, but I’ve determined I’d rather have a few devoted readers instead.  You guys who read regularly are my friends now.  I feel like I can trust you.  That’s why I post pictures like the ones I’ve posted here.  As long as only my close, trustworthy friends see those pictures, I feel secure posting them.

But the fact that I am suddenly google-able sent off warning signs today.  M used some of his computer skills to test just how safe wordpress is with their password-protected posts to see if that one post could be the reason for my sudden popularity.  In a matter of a minute or two, he was able to bypass the password and see the pictures anyway.  (You could also see my full name in the address bar, but that was a mistake of mine to use my name as my photobucket username.  I didn’t realize every picture I posted there would show that name.  At least that’s relatively easy to fix.)  That terrifies me.  These pictures that were meant to be private were instead wide open to the public for anyone who really wanted to see them.

Now I’m doing damage control.  First and foremost, I deleted the pictures off photobucket and will be cancelling that account soon (to be restarted under a different, anonymous username).  I deleted the link to the non-existent pictures off the posts themselves.  I’ve left the posts in the hopes that I will be able to find a truly secure way to post those pictures eventually.

If I can’t find a way to post those pictures, I’m faced with a huge decision.  Do I stay with wordpress or switch back to blogger?  The two are much more even in my eyes if I can’t do password-protected posts to show you guys pictures.  Sure I like the customizable header, and the templates are more interesting…but I feel betrayed by wordpress.  I was led to believe if I posted pictures I was uncomfortable with the general public seeing that I could post them safely under the protection of a password.  And that’s not the case.  So now what?

Update: Still trying to find foolproof ways to upload pictures without leaving behind a specific address to the picture that people can access without a password.  In the meantime, I will only be uploading innocent pictures and I will change the password to any already protected posts.  I will forward the new password to all of you who have asked, but please, if you doubt you can keep the password an absolute secret, let me know right away.  Do not share the password with anybody without checking with me first.  Sorry to set such firm ground rules, but I’m quite paranoid now (lol).

Okay, I need your help apparently.  This is what I’d like to do ideally, if it’s even possible: I’d like to find a site to host photos that will let me set up a completely private profile.  That means that even if someone directly types the address to a specific photo, they will be forced to enter a password before they can see it.  Photobucket doesn’t do that, and I’m fairly confident flickr won’t either (may still play around some here to see for sure).  Does anybody know of a photo-hosting site that would do this?


Leave Your Brains Behind

April 25, 2007

Sometimes I just get into a mode where I think–a lot, all the time.  I think you can tell when those periods hit by the posts I write.  They’re the more introspective or thought-provoking ones.  Then other times I get into a phase where someone flipped the off switch on my brain.  All I can think to blog about are the events in my life, plainly stated with no analysis involved.  I feel boring when I write those kinds of posts, but I feel like I’m cheating you if I neglect the daily minutae by delving into one otherwise insignificant event each day.  So today, partly because I’m too tired to think and partly because stuff has happened that I haven’t told you, I’m backing off from the deep posts for at least today.

Yesterday I took PJ grocery shopping during the day.  Usually we save that task for M to do when he gets home so that I don’t have to get ready for the day by any specific time.  Yesterday, though, PJ was anxious to get out of the house, so we took the lengthy list to do Daddy’s chore for him.  I felt like quite the experienced mom, out doing such housewife-y errands with my little kid in the front of the cart with me.  That feeling only multiplied when I reacted to PJ’s tantrums in the store with nonchalance.  It wasn’t that long ago when a crying spell like that would have embarrassed me to no end and quite possibly rushed me out of the store before my errands were finished.  I think I’m growing up in this whole mom thing!

Today didn’t go so well.  I took about three steps backward with the morning sickness.  I narrowly–very, very narrowly–avoided getting sick this morning.  I’m glad I still have plenty of those meds left.  Even then, they didn’t get rid of the nausea altogether.  Now that I think about it, though, (oops, I thought) the nausea may have been the first warning of the migraine that hit later in the afternoon.  My headache meds made me super drowsy instead of waking me up like usual, too.  I’m glad PJ also had a sleepy day so that I could get a decent nap.  I have felt quite a bit better since waking up.

I have a zillion PJ stories to tell, mostly on the other blog so that the grandmas can read about them, and I can’t find the motivation to tell them.  I feel like I’m neglecting the other blog right now and that my regular readers, especially the family, will feel like I’ve abandoned them.  If I can’t find the motivation, though, I can’t blog.  Oh, well.

My right knee has been killing me.  Whenever I kneel down, say to change a diaper, the tiniest bit of pressure against my knee sends shooting pains all through it.  It’s getting really annoying and a little bit worrisome.  Last night’s, uh, “adult activity” was interesting trying to work around the handicap.  I think our inability to avoid the pain altogether is what has made the knee worse today.  It’s totally worth it, though.  This is one part of pregnancy I certainly love.  I feel like a horny teenage boy nearly all day every day these days.  M seems to like it too. 🙂