Friday, September 30, 2005

Irritable Uterus

On Tuesday Bubbles wasn't moving enough to keep the mama happy. Luckily, OB-friend is always accommodating my fears - rational and irrational - and of course said to come right down for an NST. He has flipped himself from breech to vertex more times than I can count. You would think all that movement would make the mama happy, but it actually begins to freak me out, as I imagine he is strangling himself in his cord with each turn. (I need SOMEthing to worry about, right?) So off I went for my NST because he wasn't kicking me in the cervix. He was, of course, just having his morning nap, because as soon as I was hooked up it was clear that his strip (heartrate) was FINE. Mine, however, was not as wonderful. Laura came in after about 40 minutes on the monitor, said that Bubbles looked great, but frowned at my strip (the contraction contraption), saying that perhaps I should go upstairs to the hospital and get some terbutaline and more monitoring, as the contractions were FOUR MINUTES apart. Whoa...hadn't even noticed.
So off I went, except that the walk from one end of the hospital to the other, and the nervous energy I had worked up in between, worked out to equal contractions TWO MINUTES apart by the time I was hooked up to a monitor in L&D. Shit.
So I got a shot of terbutaline, then another, then another....and my body did the 'pppttttthhhhht' thing at the terb - as in 'haha you can't do anything to me!' - didn't even raise my pulse or heartrate, which is just something that is DOES, along with hopefully slowing the contractions. So I got to have an IV for rehydration (take THAT, contractions) and then we tried nifedipine, which finally did work - not only in slowing the contractions but also in causing a raging migraine (which has kept me from updating here). Then, because I was already such a captive audience, they gave me a dose of steroids (beta-methazone) to jump-start the development of Bubbles' lungs - just in case he decided to come this early (33 wks +1day). Of course this all took quite a few hours, with me calling dh from the hospital bed (no, don't come, just stay near the phone) and eventually realizing by 7pm that, not only had I skipped lunch to come to the NST (figuring I would pick up a hearty Dharma's sandwich on the way home...mmm...the Nuclear Bluff which has carried me through 3 pregnancies now), but also had been brought no dinner whatsoever from the hospital! I asked a nurse for some food, and she asked me if I was 'allowed' to eat! To which I responded, 'Oh, do you routinely starve just the pregnant mommies?' I was cranky. And HUNGRY! You know, that I am pregnant, don't fuck with me kind of hungry.
Now let me say something about the food at this hospital. I have had two children at this place and as far as care goes - nursing and my stellar OB - it is FABULOUS. But as far as the food goes...well, it's barely shy of poison. If you are not sick when admitted, you will be from eating the food when you leave. I had supergirl there four years ago, and it was really bad then, but it seems that someone has put a lot of effort into making it EVEN WORSE since then.
It turns out that I had not been brought food either as a precaution (anyone in L&D MAY have to have a c-section so better not feed her just in case) OR as an oversight (whoops, sorry cranky lady). Finally, one nurse found both of these excuses ridiculous and ordered me a tray of food just as they were trying to close down the kitchen. Unfortunately, I had forgotten the discovery I had made last time about the kitchen, which was that the ONLY edible foods they are able to produce and deliver are tofu dogs and cottage cheese. So what I got was not quite that edible. It consisted of some whitish chunks of mystery meat (resembled chicken, tasted like...well, rubber), covered in a shiny brown gelatinous 'sauce', sprinkled with 3 sliced canned mushrooms. To the side of this, umm, meat, were small piles of mushy rice and succotash - did I mention my fear of lima beans? And did I mention that the kitchen was no longer 'open'? They also kindly provided me with a small container of nearly frozen salad that would have made an airplane meal salad look like lunch at Chez Panisse! People, do you have any idea what nearly freezing a salad DOES to that salad? I would go into more detail but I am, after all, pregnant and slightly sensitive to DISGUSTING THINGS that have to do with food. You can talk to me about blood and vaginas all you want right now, but the food - that had better be smelling and looking and sounding GOOD!
Okay, so back to the important stuff. The contractions slowed down, Bubbles' heart rate stayed even and strong, I got to have yet another cervical check, and finally got to go home at around 10pm. Oh, it helps to have friends (OB) in high places!
All of this was somewhat nervewracking, but after so much time spent with my very own irritable uterus, I am also somewhat pragmatic now. I decided that if it was just a matter of me lying in the bed with a few inconvenient needles OR me visiting my baby in the NICU, then the answer was certainly obvious. Stay lying on my ass! There is no debating that one. We have lived through the NICU experience, and I have said more than once that it would be potentially a one way ticket to the asylum for mama to have to repeat that. Elijah spent three long weeks in the NICU at another hospital (about which I have nothing positive to say), and I did not make any friends there. Mainly because I would not leave my child. They don't like that - makes them feel like they have less control. GUESS WHAT, YOU MORONS???? IT'S MY KID!!!! We don't have to go there just now. Just take it from me, it's not an experience that they or I would like to have repeated.
The good news is that I got the results back from the fetal fibronectin test and they were negative. Which means that it is highly unlikely that Bubbles will be making his appearance this week. OB-friend is telling him to stay in until 37 weeks. I am predicting Halloween (which would be 38 wks exactly). BOO! With all these predictions, I am most likely to end up with an induction of a potentially large baby at 39 weeks.
Next week we have yet another growth scan with the Stanford perinatal diagnostic clinic - they who have been following the growth of this little guy very carefully, looking for signs of the mystery growth disorder that kept everyone scratching their heads about Elijah. So far he has been growing very well. Was 3lbs 10oz at 30 weeks. If this growth rate continues, he may be about 7-7.5 lbs. This, for us, is a BIG baby. So, as much as my vagina screams in protest at this possibility, we are hoping for another steady incline in growth at our appointment on Oct 7th. I think I will need a few more pumpkin frappucinos before then.
So I am home now, on bedrest, which I interpret as 'sit around on ass unless I have enough contractions to actually go horizontal'. It also means dh has to assume most of the childcare, cooking, laundry, entertaining of supergirl, and general maintenance. This is not such a bad thing. I DO love my OB!!!
By next week I will be ready once again to face the world, the shopping, the farmers markets, the library (which can provide me with more on-my-ass reading entertainment), acupuncture, etc. I am feeling very nesty. I may even venture into the 'washing of the crib bedding' and the 'stacking of the diapers' territory. This would mean that I have to think positively and expect to actually bring a baby home. I am just a little bit closer to that concept.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Birthday Wishes

We had a little last hurrah before Bubbles is born...a little birthday treat for mama a few hours away at a lovely little mineral spring resort. I got to have my birthday cervical check, which was really more than I asked for, but all worked out well (not dilated, 30% effaced, which is where I was in July) and we got to blow out of town for a few days. Really, where we live is so wonderful and peaceful that I have no complaints, but I frequently come up with reasons to leave, and then we pack up the van and head out to compare wherever we are staying with where we live. So when we could hear the traffic from our suite, dh had to comment on how silly we were to leave our quiet little home paradise. He is the agoraphobic half of our whole; I am the social half. Supergirl is the rocket-fueled frosting on our cake.
Speaking of cake, I have been feeding bubbles with chocolate mousse ganache cake for the past 3 days. I think he likes it, and I know I certainly need it to maintain my startlingly global figure. My belly has now reached the point at which people stare at it as they walk past. It is the dolly parton of bellies, and you know what I mean. No more eye contact. People actually step aside to let me pass in grocery aisles. I feel as though I am carrying around a 25 pound medicine ball. One that I can never really shift the weight of and frequently kicks me in the cervix. Never in my previous two pregnancies have I reached this state of protrusion, and I find myself simultaneously fascinated by my body and horrified at the potential aftermath. I spend a lot of time checking myself out in the mirror in disbelief. The Belly draws many (unsolicited) comments from friends and strangers alike. Yesterday I was told that I am 'looking chunky'. Today I was told that I am the perfect textbook looking pregnant chick. Guess which person I invited to live with me for the next 6 weeks?
Perhaps the chunky comment wasn't completely uninvited. In my quest to grow a bigger baby this time - and I have been putting a LOT of effort into this challenge - I have become addicted to Starbucks pumpkin frappuccino creme. I was never a real Starbucks fan, but I have become a zealot of the highest hormonal order of this heavenly pumpkin pie through a straw. If you know how many calories or fat grams it has, please keep that information to yourself. I have a baby to grow here, and that is my job right now. Now you do yours and don't bug me.
So I have just one little rant about my birthday getaway. First of all, let me preface this rant with 'I HATE to waste money.' Mainly because I don't have much of it, and what money dh has had better sustain us while I am not working for the next few months. So I don't even like to waste HIS money. So, before we left, I all but demanded (okay, I persuasively suggested) a prenatal massage for my birthday. After all, dh got to spend 4 glorious days in Dusy Basin and I was extremely jealous, staying home alone with Supergirl, and missing out on one of my favorite ass-kicking altitude hikes and had generously come up with a plan for him to make it up to me. Because dh has seen me pregnant twice before and knows better than to lose another argument to hormones, he, in his wisdom, consented. My dear acupuncturist (to whom I can attribute the success of no preterm labor this time due to my weekly visits since 23 wks!) suggested strongly that we make sure that the prenatal massage therapist was VERY experienced and not just another willing pair of hands with lavender oil. So I called the resort's 'treatment center' and asked if their prenatal massage was TRULY prenatal massage. I was assured by Ms Snooty 'I-can't-believe-you-even-have-to-ask-me-this' that it certainly was. Undeterred by her intimidation, I pressed my luck and asked if it was not only the correct type of massage table (like this), but really, REALLY an experienced massage therapist who would be on the job, since I didn't want to risk the induction massage. "Yes", sighed the unbelievably customer-challenged Ms Snooty. A few days later, dh called again to make the actual appointment and asked the exact same questions. He was greeted with the exact same responses - after all, they do advertise prenatal massage on their website. When we arrived, we shortened the one hour appointment to 1/2 hour...still concerned with overstimulating the irritable uterus that is mine and playing it safe. No problem, we were assured.
So I go in for my massage and am greeted by a 21 yr old nature girl - safe enough, I suppose. And then she shows me to my 'treatment room' and points out 3 pillows, with which I am supposed to 'make myself comfortable' and she would return shortly. At this point I should have just walked out, seeing no hole-for-the-belly massage table, but instead a similar set-up to what I create for myself each night in my own bed! But I was really hoping for a relaxing half hour, so I put my faith in nature girl and began the familiar task of propping up my shoulders, belly, and knees with the magic treatment center's pillows. When nature girl returned, she asked me if this was my first pregnancy as she slathered her hands with - you guessed it - lavender oil. I said "no, my third" - and walked right into that open door. Into the room in which I was further interrogated...."How old are my children?" "Umm...well, I have a four year old one year old son died a year ago."
Silence. Ah, blessed silence. But not for long.
"Ohmygod - what happened???"
Well, suffice it to say that I spent the next 25 minutes receiving the most expensive back rub of the year (massage? you call that a massage?) as I explained my son's death to nature girl.
WHY? The whole thing seems ludicrous to me now. Why was I so paralyzed that I didn't just refuse to answer? Was it that I felt too vulnerable being all nakey and at the mercy of her weapon of the knowledge (and I use that term loosely) acupressure points? Was I trying to make her feel better since she was so horrified at my disclosure? I am still trying to figure all that out. But I do know that when I returned to the room, I told dh that I needed to soak in the hottub for a while to relax after my massage!! It really was that stressful. And disappointing.
All would have been forgiven more easily had they not attempted to charge us for the full hour, and then acted like it was some great favor they were doing by crediting dh's card for the difference. Oh, the agony of running the treatment center...what, with all the treatments and the massage therapists to deal with. And the laundry, oh the laundry and the lavender oil. SIGH.
Okay, my rant is over.
What I really wanted for my birthday was Elijah. But I know better than to ask. Besides, who would I ask? But you know what? I got to dream about him and hold him in my dream. I snuggled his little head under my chin and breathed in his smell of cedar vanilla milkiness. It was divine. Of course I cried when I woke up, but this time I knew it was worth it. Because that's all I get of him anymore. And I'll take it.

Happy birthday to me. Thanks, tiny boy.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Watermelon or Nectarine?

Supergirl has gotten the drift that when I tell a story about her repeatedly, that it is usually funny. So she correctly assumes that she is funny, and thus I see the sense of humor being developed and honed.
She loves me to tell the watermelon story. She was enamored today with the checker at Trader Joe's who gave her four stickers (she's four and doesn't necessarily believe in coincidences...she believes this was a demonstration of his psychic abilities or just plain kismet) and she begged me to tell him the watermelon story...asking me of course, to do her flirting for her.
A month or so ago, supergirl was commenting on how much watermelon I love to eat when I am pregnant. I ate at least 3 each week when I was pregnant with her (and I often tell her she is made up of at least 60% watermelon), lots when I was pregnant with Elijah, and TONS with this one. All fruit is a real turn on for me when preggo, but watermelon is ambrosia! We have not been able to decide (or agree) on a name for Bubbles, so I told her that I knew of a woman who named her baby Apple, so maybe we should name our baby Watermelon, or Nectarine - since I eat so many of each. Supergirl gave me a disdainful look and said, "Mama, you are silly - you can't name him Watermelon! Watermelon is a girl's name!".
Mama: Oh. Then how about Nectarine?
SG: No Mama, Nectarine is way to plopular.

This girl, she listens in on too many conversations.

But to think that I had lived nearly 39 years and not known that Watermelon was a girl's name. Now THAT's embarrassing.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

How to throw a smashing baby shower

  • Invite the mama's very eclectic mix of friends to mingle together in joy.
  • Somehow pull together an amazingly plentiful spread of food, including sweet, salty, fresh, colorful, and delicious.
  • Insist- inspite of everyone's mild protests - on playing just one game and promise everyone that there is a GREAT prize for the winner (causing the mama to wonder aloud if perhaps it is a dildo?) if they would please just play along and take a tiny blue pin and try not to say the word BABY.
  • Spit chardonnay on the first person to say 'BABY'; point, laugh, cheat.
  • Announce that the word 'vagina' should, in fact be mentioned frequently at the estrogen rich gathering.
  • Participate in ensuing conversation peppered with many mentions of the words 'naked, vagina, epidural'.
  • Create a mild scene when the preggo mama gasps sharply and covers mouth at the audible mention of the forbidden word, causing everyone to think she has gone into labor.
  • Suggest naming the baby 'Braxton-Hicks'.
  • Bring your best camera and take many many belly pictures from many many different angles, including one with many hands on the biggest belly.
  • Insist on everyone else baring their bellies along with the mama's for the best group photo ever.
  • Insist VEHEMENTLY that the biggest belly is the most beeyooootiful belly ever exposed to womankind.
  • Deteriorate rapidly into a heavily scrutinized and showy comparison of stretch marks and sagging asses.
  • Serve large bowls of creme puffs to distract everyone from the talk of stretch marks and sagging asses.
  • Shower the mama-to-be with wishes for the healthiest, best baby in the world, emphasized by confidence and punctuated with heartfelt tears.
  • Present the mama with hand made quilts, tiny soft blue outfits, fuzzy blankies, and -TA~DA - a video monitor so that afore-mentioned baby will never be out of surveillance range, AND a hand-sewn (yes, SEWN) tiny suit and helmet made from bubble wrap to cover ALL facets of overprotective motherhood...causing the mama to break down into convulsive fits of laughter that - once again - have many convinced she is going into labor.
  • Present the winner of the game with a gift that is indeed lovely, and is indeed not a dildo.
  • Convince the mama that she really does not resemble the bulgy-the-whale ride at the boardwalk, causing bulgy-the-mama to shed grateful tears.
  • Promise the mama to shower her AGAIN with homemade prepared meals and perfunctory baby adoration AFTER the blessed event.
  • Send the mama home, because really, people, a hormonal preggo chick can only take so much showering of vagina talk, creme puffs, affection, tears of joy, false labors, and kindness, at this estrogen-laden event.

tiny little hearts

Well, it dawned on supergirl last week that she is going to become a big
sister - I mean, she has been VERY excited about this for some time, but
it was like watching a light bulb go on in her head.
But first she asked me very seriously if -IF - this baby was going to
grow up big like her. I had a hard time answering this one - because
these fears are plaguing me so much in my last trimester. I told her
that I certainly hope so, and that we all expect that he will be healthy
(biting my tongue on the - 'but we really don't know' part).
She then said, very excitedly, "Mommy! If THIS baby brother doesn't DIE, then he will grow up and I will get to play with him!!! Just like a playdate,
mommy! But he will LIVE with me and I can play with him ALL the
time!!! I can even teach him how to play!!"
By this point I was nearly in tears as I just agreed with her.
I hope I hope I hope everything is okay. It's one thing to get your own
heart broken, but to watch your baby get hers broken twice is more than
I think I could bear.

Friday, September 16, 2005

What do I know about Loss?

I realized a few months after my son Elijah died that when people asked how we were doing, they would listen to me say how I, my DH, or daughter were doing, and then as soon as I mentioned Elijah by name, they would look the other way, change the subject, cough, become visibly uncomfortable. I am guessing it is because to talk about a dead child, it means that they have to somewhat project themselves into the situation and imagine their own worst nightmare...losing a child.
After a few mos of encountering this over and over, I just decided that I really didn't care - it wasn't their 'cross to bear' as it were, and if they asked then they would damn well hear about whatever I had to say. I'd say about 98% of the time, I answer that question with full disclosure. I get asked alot right now if this baby I am carrying is my second. I say no, my third. And then they see supergirl (#1) and look around for #2, look back at me questioningly, so I usually have to fill in. My son spent over a year (13 months and 11 days to be exact) with our family - in my mind he IS my child, I want that acknowledged, and I also want the 'credit' for carrying him and bringing him into the world. I want my daughter to know that I am not discounting him in any way - she remembers him, so how could I act like he wasn't here? I think it's a bad message to give her.
Plus, some days I just feel like"it's nobody's fucking business but since you asked I'm gonna get in your face anyway and hit you with 'the sledgehammer'"...I guess you could say I am still pretty angry about my loss.
I struggle with this question, for often I find myself more engaged with a stranger than I would like to be, but how else to answer it without having that pit in my stomach later?
I don't know,maybe it will change someday, but even the thought of that makes me sad. I need for him not to be forgotten - he was my living breathing son. And if that makes other people uncomfortable, well, they get to make a choice about who they hang out with too.
One of my best friends now is someone I met AFTER Elijah died. She is totally amazing, in that most of my friends really weeded themselves out after this happened. I met her at a bday party with my daughter about a year ago. We had just returned from the summer away, and some moms that I knew were asking me how my daughter was doing. I replied that she was doing pretty well, but she spent the first 2 weeks in Maui going up to strangers and telling them that her baby brother died. The other mothers gasped, and this one mom who had her back to us but was listening turned around and said, laughing, 'Wow! That's a good way to get attention - did it work for her?'
They all gasped again, and I kindly told this new mom that yes it did, but unfortunately it was true - her little brother had died 4 mos ago. Well, this mom just turned beet red and said 'wow - could i put my foot in my mouth any further? I feel like an idiot! I just thought that was such a great way to get attention....very creative.' and I instantly loved her....because she reacted in such a real way and didn't try and backpedal out of it. I actually cracked up. Probably for the first time in four months.
A few weeks later this new mom invited me to her house for a playdate for our kids and lunch, and the first thing she said was 'Would you tell me all about Elijah? What was he like and what do you miss about him most?'
We became great friends immediately and I love her to this day. She is going to be at the birth of Bubbles if it all works out okay, because she is a bit of a bulldozer -like me- and she will make a better doula than any doula I know. Stay tuned.

Loss and Have

What brings me here? Loss, I guess. And Have, in 'I have a need to write about it' and 'I have a child which makes me a mama which gives me something else to write about' and 'I have a computer and a roof over my head which is more than many people can say'. So much of what spews out of my mouth or churns around in my brain is about or because of Loss. But since I have the ability and the computer and the power to combine those with words...well, I Have.
But I begin with the Loss....because that is what inspired me enough to come here, I suppose.
There is no great place to begin again when you have lost something so great, and I refer to the victims of hurricane Katrina (no, mrs bush, it is not corrina). When you Have, you need to give some of it to those who have Lost EVERYTHING. They need a place to start.
I needed a place to start. If you are still with me, then start here.
Also known as: How you can help w/hurricane relief without spending a bundle.
Why am I here?
What does a 8 mos pregnant mom of one live, one dead, and one fetal child do with her anxiety? Channel it into DOING something to help herself (distraction is the greatest weapon) and others (duh). No, I am not above selfishness. I live with myself, though.
The link below is to a local SantaCruz blogger that cyberspace connected with me...she and a woman in Mississippi are working together to cut out the middle man in donations...meaning no operating or administration expenses will be taken out of your donations. The CEO for Red Cross makes $450,000/yr. Granted, this is a drop in the bucket for their millions, but hey - them's the facts.
The woman in Mississippi (Victoria) is coordinating truckloads of donations directly to shelters. Grace (the santa cruz ground central coordinator) is doing much of the technical work. What am I doing, you ask, being a cashpoor technophobe?
Well, currently I am helping to update the website with fact checking - like which zip codes in Mississippi are deliverable by Fed Ex and UPS and which are not. Organizing readable shelter lists alphabetically, numerically, etc. Talking with Ms. NVH (not very helpful) at UPS. This requires a phone, web access, and much patience to wade through the automated responses I get when on the phone.
ANYWAY...please check out the following link and do what you can. Your donations - ANY donations- are much appreciated. GRACIAS!!!!!!!
there it is again - the link to how you can help.

Many of the things needed can be found in your own closets and garages (clothes, baby items, blankets, old towels, outgrown disposable diapers, etc...check the lists!) so the only expense you would have would be shipping, not shopping.....PLEASE START SORTING AND HELP NOW!!!
More info: ships free for any order over $25.00 - and it's only 3 bucks for 3 day shipping after that.
Also try

This is the sort of help that needs doing, not the uber-patriotic songs and schmaltz that seem to go hand in hand with wars and natural disasters.

And hey Grace....thanks for the gentle kick in the ass.
Here's my life.