The Lies I Tell

My kids love hearing all about how “when they were babies”.  They often ask at bedtime for me to tell them the story of the day they were born. I snuggle up next to them and tell them each a beautiful story of how one day, after being in my tummy for a long time, they said “It’s time to come out!” and started kicking my belly.  Mommy & daddy headed to the hospital and the doctor took them out and we all were so happy! They both were pink round chunky little turkeys and they giggled as soon as we saw them.  Then, they cuddled up next to us for the rest of the day and cooed and smiled as all of our family came to meet them for the first time.   They were perfect and the cutest little things I had ever seen.  I tell them both that each day they were brought into this world were both the best day of my life.  The thing is, the only good thing that actually happened on either of those days for me was that we added them to our family. Each time I tell this story, I’m telling them a long, concocted LIE.  Truth be told, I love the fact that they were born, but I hate both of the days that they entered this world.

My youngest child turned three this week. At thirteen months apart, I’m now living with a full fledged three and four year old. They aren’t toddlers anymore, they aren’t babies. They’re preschoolers. I’m not sure how I feel about this.

Their birthdays are always a mix of emotions for me; happy to celebrate a milestone for them and yet both their births were both such terrifying experiences  for me that I actually ended up having a panic attack the morning of my now three year old’s birthday. I started thinking what exactly was going on at this moment three years ago and as I then thought about my experience giving birth to my four year old (which was equally as chilling). I could feel my chest start to constrict and my body become clammy.  My breathing became short little breaths and my eyes were getting blurry. Sobbing, I called my mother, who helped me calm down.

I’ve written about this before, but the long and short of it is that  my first child was two weeks late.  After 31 hours of labor, I ended up with a horrendous emergency c-section.  My first act towards my sweet newborn baby was to push him away my because I was in the midst of the mother load of all panic attacks imaginable on the operating table. Instead of giving him a kiss, I literally pushed him away.  My experience resulted in me being drugged up for the entire first day he was born. He ended up in the NICU 24 hours later, due to irregular breathing.  In retrospect, I was so drugged up that first day that I realized I didn’t even attempt to feed him.  I had no maternal instincts. I didn’t even want to hold him, out of fear I’d drop him.  This fat 10 pound baby was probably starving, which caused him to hyperventilate. I failed him.  I waived my right as a post- op patient and joined my first baby in the NICU; sleeping in a chair in his room while recovering from major surgery and an exhausting and harrowing few days.

My husband and I were inexperienced and it’s so easy now to say what we should have done. We should have asked the nurses to feed him some formula, we should have had me transported separately to the hospital where the NICU was so that I was being taken care of as well as he. We should have never let this happen.  Hindsight is always 20/20.

With my second, the delivery went surprisingly well, but what followed did not. I couldn’t see over the sheet they put between mother and baby, but I could see my husband’s ashen face. My child was blue, the color of the summer sky before a torrential rainstorm begins. He was not healthy and he wasn’t crying. He wasn’t a chunky, pink fat baby. He was struggling to stay alive.  Something was very, very wrong.

brewingStormIceland

He was later diagnosed with a genetic issue: Respiratory Distress Disorder. Simply, if you can imagine blowing up a balloon, it’s tough at first, but then gets easier the bigger the balloon gets. He was born without the hormone that covers the lungs to help them expand. He was fighting to breathe, and we are lucky he didn’t end up with brain damage due to lack of oxygen. He was whisked out of the operating room before I could see him.  Meanwhile, I was in the midst of massive hemorrhaging. I had five nurses attending to me in recovery and I didn’t care… all I could think about was my baby who I couldn’t see or even help.

I was questioned humiliating questions by the NICU rep for the hospital in front of my husband, mother and mother in law ( while still hemorrhaging and basically spread eagle in my hospital bed.

  • Did I engage in illicit drugs during my pregnancy?
  • Did I smoke cigarettes while pregnant?
  • Did I drink alcohol while pregnant?

The answers were all  NO, but I could read between the lines : What did I do to cause this?  The weight of the guilt I felt was like holding up a 1,000lb rock above my head.  I couldn’t help it.   The first time I saw my sweet little baby, he was in a contraption that looked like a glass coffin to transfer him to the NICU.  He was sedated and all I could do was reach my hand into a little hole in this glass coffin and tell him I loved him.  It was four days before I was able to hold that precious peanut. These four days felt like four lifetimes.

Life is crazy. Life is hard. I am so thankful that they are both thriving, healthy children now, and I know that I am one of the lucky ones. I know people that may have had the perfect delivery but ended up with a child much more seriously sick than mine. I know people who have watched a child of theirs go through pediatric cancer treatments. In no way am I comparing my experience to anyone else’s, but mine is all I know. My story is all I can tell.

I selfishly can’t help but feel like I got handed the short stick both times. I was robbed of the first few weeks of my child’s life. I have no pictures of their first few moments. I have no happy pictures of us as a family on either day.  I have very few happy memories of their birthdays.  I wasn’t given the opportunity to create an immediate bond and connection with either child, and both experiences were so intense that four years later, I’m still suffering from PTSD.  I’m angry because this has partly effected our plans for any future children. I’m angry that I missed out on so much.  I’m angry that things were so much harder than I had ever planned on them being.  I’m angry over the amount of helplessness I felt in both situations. I’m angry with myself for feeling any of this at all.

I still Care

I’m hoping that one of these days, I’ll have told them each my fake version of the day they were born so many times that it will start to slowly sink into my brain; memories of the truth washed away, only to be replaced with my fairy tale that I have made up.  I lie and tell myself time heals all wounds, and one day, this will all be a distant memory.  I can only hope that this is true.

stronger

Throwing Modesty Out the Window: Things No One Tells You Before and After You Give Birth

Congratulations! You’re pregnant? 

SAY GOODBYE TO ANY SHRED OF MODESTY YOU HAD.

I was two weeks overdue with my first child and took a week off prior to my due date (in case he was early) and ended up sitting around for three weeks as a hormonal mess. 

I kept wondering if this baby was ever going to come out of me. Finally, the day before I was about to be induced, I went into labor. I waited nine hours before actually going to the hospital. 

One of the fun parts of labor they don’t tell you about is that your stomach muscles are contracting so much, you’ll probably end up shitting yourself at some point. Everyone is so worried about doing it while pushing the baby out, no one thinks to worry about what happens before the baby comes out. As soon as I arrived, the nurse gave me a hospital gown to change into and I headed to the bathroom. The toilet seat was obviously made for a NBA basketball player and was way too high. I hoisted myself up onto the seat and was sitting there, buck naked, 8,000 months pregnant, feet dangling 5 inches from the floor, literally going to the bathroom when the nurse casually came in to have a little “chat” with me. It was as if this was completely normal. I was a gigantic  naked, fat whale, having a complete coversation with a stranger while I was actually pooping at the same time. There were literally audible sounds coming from the bathroom that neither came from her or my mouth. She didn’t seem the least bit phased, and as I sat there in all my beluga whale glory, I answered her questions . I walked out of that bathroom in my cotton hospital gown and knew in that instant that any privacy I was used to was soon to change, very quickly. 

For the last nine months, as my belly grew,  I had been having external and internal exams by my OBGYN.  It’s like your yearly OB exam on crack- a super pleasant experience where as a bonus you get to weigh in every.single.time– reminding you that size 4 dress in your closet will forever haunt you as what could be considered “your former self, before children.”  You might as well use that tiny piece of fabric as a burp cloth, because your fat ass isn’t going to fit into it again for a loooooong time; if ever.

During the holiday season while I was out shopping, I was asked by no fewer than five strangers if I was “due any day now” or “carrying twins.” I was 3 months away from my due date at that point and my only answer was that I was carrying an enormous beast in my belly- but thanks for asking anyway.

I had come to the point where I just wanted to wear a tee shirt that said: 

“Yes, I am pregnant. No, I’m not having twins. It is a boy. We do not have a name picked out and if you even try to go near my belly with your grubby hand I will back hand you… have a great day!”

I started growing out of my maternity clothes and refused to buy new ones because I was just so sick of wearing them in the first place. I’d sit in weekly board meetings with my staff, 2 inches of my bare belly hanging out of my shirt, in spandex and wearing slippers because my feet were so swollen. I had given up. 

In this world, there are “hot” pregnant ladies and then there are…. the rest of us. My wedding photographer begged me to take maternity pictures to commemorate this time. I should have done it at 3 months along- because that was pretty much the only time I looked like a “hot pregnant lady”

By the time my first child decided to make an entrance into this word, I had been in labor for 31 hours and my 10lb pork roll child was born via emergency c-section because his fat head couldn’t fit for a regular vaginal delivery. My delivery was documented in a previous post so I won’t go over that again, but this was the first time I really valued how incredible modern medicine is. I counted my blessings because if this had been 100+ years ago, I probably wouldn’t have lived through that delivery, and neither would my child. Without that c-section, he was not coming out.

There were quite a few post-partum moments that my modesty just flew out the window again. The first time my nurse took out my catheter so I could pee normally, she insisted it was her job to  “monitor me”. At this point I couldn’t give two shits about what was happening, so I sat on the toilet, I watched her squat down in front of me and spray warm water onto my nether regions. I swear, if I could have kissed this lady, I would have. Nurses deserve a lot more credit for what they do. After carrying a gigantic human inside of me, EVERYTHING was swollen. As this nurse helped me out, I almost cried because it felt so good. There needs to be a tip jar in your hospital room. 

Four glorious months later of living with a colicky, screaming baby, I found myself miraculously pregnant again. We had talked about having more children, but certainly not this soon. I always joke that I got pregnant with my second baby alone. My husband had gone out for the night with friends and I decided to drink and entire bottle of wine alone to celebrate my child  finally sleeping through the night. My husband came home as I was throwing the bottle in the recycling bin, and the rest is history. 

I ended up having two c-sections,13 months apart. My second c-section was planned. For months, I hadn’t been able to see my feet, never mind anything else below my gigantic belly.  I had an infant to take care of, while waddling around pregnant with my second child and maintaining my lady parts was last on my list of priorities. As I was being prepped for surgery, the nurse asked if a student doctor could shave the area of the surgery site. I was in a good mood and replied “Sure, as long as she brought a weed whacker with her. ” My husband almost fell off the chair in embarrassment. I was a million months pregnant at this point and was happy at least someone was taking care of what I had been neglecting down there for so long.

I started some new medication earlier this summer and one of the side effects is weight gain. It had been 2.5 years since having my last baby and I remember wailing to my doctor “but I just lost all my baby weight!!!!” 

He assured me this medication caused the least amount of weight gain… and to some extent he was right- my ass stayed the same, my face stayed the same and my legs and arms look fine. Those lovely  extra few pounds have taken up shop in my gut and I look essentially early first trimester pregnant. I’ve been asked 4 times over the past 2 months if I’m expecting baby #3, resulting in a meltdown in my office one day that startled every one of my co-workers, including the Vice President of my company, who just stood there, wide eyed.  Like a crazy lady, I randomly screamed  “Attention! I have an important message for you all!  In case you’re wondering- I AM NOT PREGANT- THERE IS NO BABY IN HERE, just FAT, most likely caused by wine and hard ciders that I use to nurse myself to sleep each night, so spread the news, THERE IS NO FREAKING BABY IN THERE, suckers!” 

Once you’ve had kids, apparently these are the things you have to yell in your office to get the point across. I’m pretty sure no one talked to me for the rest of the day in fear I may bite their heads off.

Bottom line. Prepare for the unexpected. Prepare to be embarrassed, but know that no one else is. They’re professionals and see this stuff all the time. Having a baby changes things; I’m just glad I was married before going through all of this, because I knew my husband was bound to me, even after seeing what he saw, he legally couldn’t run away.

Prepare yourself to feel your heart burst with something that is unexplainable; a love that you never knew existed until you see those little eyes looking up at you and you realize you made this tiny human.

Once you get over the initial endorphin high, If you want to talk REAL FUN, we can discuss post-partum adult diapers and the dreaded first post partum poop sometime. I’ve got some great stories.

Until next time,

Coastal Mama 😘

Karma’s a Funny Bitch

“Be kind, for everyone is fighting a harder battle”. I chose this quote for my senior picture in my High School year book. I’m sure my parents were stunned when they didn’t find some Kurt Cobain quote under my name, or some proclamation of love for my high school boyfriend. Nope, I chose Plato. And I think of these words often, still today.

I’m not sure why they choose to circumcise little boys right before they leave the hospital.  The stress of bringing a new human being into your life and and home is obviously not terrifying enough, so having to care for a wound that is attached to an appendage that a mother is completely clueless about is just an extra little bonus that parents of boys who choose to do this get!

First of all, I don’t care if you have one or five children, for new parents, you can’t help but feel shocked when the hospital actually lets you leave with your child – without so much as a manual. Having this much responsibility placed on you at one time, after giving birth, and in my case, spending time in the NICU, can really make your feel a little faint of heart.

We spent two weeks in the NICU with baby #2 and the day the decision was made to release him, I had to go home and pick up my husband. He had been working full time and staying in the NICU at night, while I spent my days there and then returned to my 13month old, trying to feign some sense of normalcy during the evening, while I felt like my world was crumbling around me.  Thus, the day my second boy was circumcised, I was not in the building unfortunately, as  I was on my way back to pick up my husband and arrange child care for my other baby. When we returned, nurse was all smiles when we entered his room after his circumcision. “The doctor who performed the procedure said she knew you! What a coincidence! I guess it really is a small world.”

Wait a second. I knew her? I didn’t know anyone who worked in this hospital. I didn’t give birth there and my son and I were both transported, separately via ambulance to a specialty hospital with a state of the art NICU that my tiny seaside hospital that I gave birth in was unable to provide what he needed. Who was his doctor???

I vividly remember the day he was born. It was my second baby and a scheduled c-section. I had enjoyed an easy pregnancy and was loooking forward to meeting my little man. He was born at 8:25am and I knew the moment that they took him out that something was wrong. He wasn’t crying. I couldn’t see what was going on, but my husband could, and the look on his face made me shutter. After a few terrifying moments, a loud wail engulfed the room and I felt a sigh of relief. The nurse put on a brave face and brought him over to me to see him for a second and it was then that I knew something was really wrong. Instead of a plump pink baby, I was presented with a pale, grey infant, the color of a storm brewing, far in the sky. 

My husband left my side to check on the baby, while I waited anxiously for some answers. No one was giving me answers and I wracked my brain for some sort of question to ask. “What is his APGAR score?!” I yelled out. (From 1-10, 10 is the highest. My first child scored a 10. I had been reading so many baby books that my husband probably didn’t even know what I was talking about but returned to my side reporting that my baby was scoring a 4. My suspicions were confirmed and I knew in my heart- something was wrong with this baby. 

He was whisked away to a special unit where I was unable to visit him. My husband could, but he was under instense respriaatiry distress and they were making arrangements to transport him to another hospital with better facilities to take care of him. I, on the other hand, back in my recovery room, was suffering majoring hemoraging. I had six nurses surrounding me, intensely concerned, and yet, all I could ask about was the baby. My nurse said as long as I didn’t pass a blood clot the size of a grapefruit or bigger, I was going to be ok. A grapefruit?! Are you fucking kidding me??? I never looked down, but if that was coming out of me, I didn’t even want to see.

A doctor arrived from the NICU and peppered me with questions in front of my husband, mother, mother-in-law and nurses. Did I smoke during pregnancy? Drink alcohol? Engage in illicit drugs? The questioning  was necessary, yet mortifying at the same time. No, I hadn’t done any of those things. My entire pregnancy, I was sleep deprived and caring for another newborn at home. I felt dirty and guilty. I must have done SOMETHING TO HAVE CAUSED THIS. May I remind you that while this questioning was going on, I had my legs spread wide open, hemoraging with multiple nurses attending to my vagina. My perfect day was rapidly becoming a nightmare. 

The first time I actually got to see my baby, it was eight hours later. He was intubated and sedated. He was in what I can only describe as a giant glass coffin. It was a special contraption to transport him in the ambulance. I reached my hand into a little hole and touched his lifeless hand and told him I loved him. I couldn’t go with him, because as soon as he was born, we were considered separate patients. Emergency plans were made to pick up my other baby at daycare and I sat and sobbed as he left the room, my husband following in our car to meet him there. 

 I arrived via separate ambulance hours later and it wasn’t until 10pm that evening that I was finally able to see my baby. Surrounded by loud beeping monitors, sedated and intubated, I was informed I wouldn’t be able to hold him until he got a little better- it would be a day, days or weeks. No promises were made. Those two weeks in the NICU were hell. It was four days before I finally was able to actually HOLD my baby. I watched them poke and prod his tiny body with needles, shave parts of his head and as hard as it was to watch, I knew he was receiving the best care possible. I feel guilty because I know people spend much longer in the NICU, but for me, recovering from a c-section, with a baby at home I couldn’t forget, and I couldn’t help but feel helpless. 

When he finally was released, and the circumcision discussion came about I was caught off guard. Who did I know in that hospital that knew me? The nurse explained it was a prior bride I had. 

The moment she said this, my husband’s face went ashen. For the most part, I have a wonderful relationships with my clients, but there are always one or two bridezillas each season that he hears about.

“Please tell me you got along with this bride…” he looked at me with a serious face. I could see him visualizing some unhappy previous bride being in charge of his precious baby boys’ most prized position on his body.

I laughed. She was one of my favorite clients and we had gotten along fantastically. 

My point is that you never really know who is going to end up in your lives- or reappear. Be kind. It costs nothing to be kind. You may end up in a situation where you need to rely on someone from the past to take care of you or your family. I never thought in a million years that a former client would be taking care of my son, but as fate would have it, she did…. and she did a fantastic job.