My war story (or how I really ended up birthing that baby)

Well, Baby Monkey is here and she is… well, can you still love someone and want to put them on the next flight to Russia with a note in hand?

It would be a direct flight…

The past five weeks have been a challenge. After actually giving birth (oh lawdy, have I got a war story for you) I found that I’m suddenly responsible for this little chubby cheeked, A&D ointment smelling, bundle of gas- and she isn’t too happy about it either.

I’ve graduated from the school of the “5 S’s” to soothe her colicky hours, I’ve learned that if you don’t want your baby screaming and trying to nurse every 45 minutes you better burp her right, and I’ve thrown myself at the feet of the baby Zantac gods with their amazing cure for baby acid reflux.  Baby acid reflux- it sounds so cute and little when you type it out, but not so much when you hear the screams of the baby with it.

No, my baby isn’t broken and I have been informed there are no refunds or exchanges anyway… She is just sensitive or some crap like that. Anyone who knows me or The Mister shouldn’t be surprised that we ended up with an itt-bitty drama queen with stomach problems-she even made a dramatic appearance that would make Liza proud.

We call her drama hands

Our first sign that we were in for trouble was the last three weeks of my pregnancy, which were anything but the calm before the storm. I had three seriously painful bouts of contractions, and one trip to the hospital that ended in my going home with my head hung in shame and a dose of Ambien in my hand. That night will henceforth be known as the one wherein I espoused on how my dog was just like pizza while cordoning off quadrants of the bed and crowning rulers over each.

Flash Forward

Somewhere in Kentucky a bunch of fancy women were wearing big hats and sipping mint juleps while feigning interest in the odds of Super Saver actually winning the derby, and I was going into labor. Either Baby Monkey had decided she was done torturing me, or things were getting as uncomfortable for her as they had been for me.

As the mid-afternoon St. Louis skies began to darken and the tornado sirens shrieked their first of many wails that day, I started having irregular contractions with a strength that made my face pale and sitting a chore. Through the night the storms, sirens, and contractions continued. The electricity even gave out during what I would eventually learn was my final, intense nesting trip. I had to get picture frames and a clean fleece for the dog’s bed or I was going to die and the baby would grow up dysfunctional, right?

I went to bed, but by 3:30am I was so uncomfortable I couldn’t sleep anymore-this crap had been going on for nearly 12 hours. I got up, drew myself a warm bath, and begrudgingly pulled out my iPhone to start timing my contractions with my “Labor Mate” app. We had been down this timing road more times than I care to admit, and even the app was rolling it’s eyes when I launched it. The contractions were averaging under 5 minutes apart, but there was the occasional outlier at 7 minutes messing up my baby birthing game. All I could think was Damn, my doc had said all of them should be under 5 minutes (insert pregnant lady hissy fit here).

By 6 o’clock Sunday morning I was cursing the female reproductive system and my stupid desire to find out what it was capable of. I was especially irritated with what I thought was probably just an extra miserable special session of false labor. During our previous car ride to the hospital the contractions had stopped all together so we figured we would drive around God’s creation pretending we were going to the hospital (which means telling the baby that was what we were doing), but not until after a Starbucks run.

It was at the fast-coffee shop when David Bowie signaled me that it was show time. What was David Bowie doing in a St. Louis Starbucks you may ask, but probably didn’t? I’ll explain anyway: just before my wedding my maid of honor eased my nerves by busting out one of our favorite songs by our favorite artist, “Magic Dance” by David Bowie from the Labrynth soundtrack. That morning, as we were waiting for our car ride coffees, our barista busted out with… “Magic Dance,” and I made it known to all within earshot that I had my sign. I knew it was my labor day. Mr Barista said, “Somewhere David Bowie is smiling,” as he handed me my decaf latte.

We waited until noon to call the doc though, you know “just in case”. I explained to her that my contractions weren’t getting more intense or closer togehter, but she had pity on my miserably pregnant self and said I should come on in anyhow. We grabbed our labor bag (which, btw, sat completely unused the whole time) and our suitcases, then headed… to lunch. What? I was warned multiple times that I wasn’t going to be allowed to eat for a while, and I knew this would be my last free pass for dessert. So we ate our last DINK meal a hearty lunch, and split a piece of gooey butter cake to bid adieu to the baby bump before we headed to St Johns.

Almost 24 hours after that first stabby contraction I arrived at the hospital and I was in good spirits. They asked me at the desk why I was there, and I told them I would like to leave with a baby… and this time I did. But not after going through the bodily equivalent of the Vietnam War and learning just how much insurance companies suck.

The way the nurses and doctors saw it I was in too good of a mood for their liking (at least without narcotics), and only dilating an additional centimeter an hour so they broke my water to speed things up. Yea, I was robbed of the dramatic breaking of the waters in public and getting wheeled down the hallway puffing scene, but boy did the rest of the night make up for it. The very first post-water-break contraction had me singing for the epidural, and once that sucker kicked in I was happier and more comfortable than I had been since I had started growing a whole person in.my.stomach.

We hung out, watched the end of the Cardinals game, and The Mister let me turn it on my “Crime Crap” (I am obsessed with all that Dateline and 48 Hours trash). While I sat there on cloud nine we watched footage loops and talking heads report on the attempted bombing in Times Square (btw, cable news stations, you seriously need to start editing together longer video loops). Baby Monkey picked quite a dramatic day to make her debut, that should have been our second glimpse at what was to come.

Around 10pm I began to fell “the pain.” I told the nurse I hurt, but I guess she didn’t realize I had labored on my own for about 20hrs before coming in and I wasn’t just being all wussy about it. So she told me to suck it up in labor and delivery nurse language, and left me to my writhing. It got worse. And worse. Finally my MIL had pity on my soul and went for a nurse to check me. Turns out when I told them I was in pain it wasn’t just “some pressure” – my epidural had worn off. I will always thank that nurse…

In the half hour we were waiting for the anesthetist I went from six to nine centimeters, and just as the drip was barely starting to take the edge off the contractions I was ready to push. So… they turned off those sweet, sweet baby birthing drugs. And I began pushing, screaming like a banshee, and nearly loosing consciousness. For an hour this went on.

They called my doctor in and she determined right away what I had been telling the nurse, in no uncertain terms- the pushing wasn’t working and there was something wrong here. The doctor confirmed that Baby Monkey was literally stuck. I begged her for a c-section, she told me not to give up. She finally got the vacuum and said she was going to give it two shots, and she really needed me to give it my all. That was at 11:50pm.

On May 2 at 11:52pm, Grace MaryAnn was unstuck and screaming in a pitch I thought was cute for about 24 hours, and have since become too familiar with. And, if you didn’t notice the time, eight minutes later my first day in the hospital was over… Yea, even though the doctor was still stitching and fixing me all nice like well after midnight, they counted those eight minutes as my first day. Bastards.

For those of you who care about that kind of thing, she weighed 7lbs 10oz, and measured 20in.

For those of you who have done the giving birth kind of thing before- she had come down with her head crooked so the whole head plates overlapping to make it easier stuff… yea… that didn’t quite work the way it was supposed to, hence the whole stuck thing.

Lesson: beggars can’t be choosers- she was going to be evicted that following Friday anyway.

Baby Monkey is officially five weeks old now, and yes I have called the doctor or one of our Moms at least twice for every hour she has been alive. And yes, all of you who gloated “just you wait,” it is tough and I have definitely threatened her with deportation and returning her to whence she came. But she’s adorable, we love her more than anything, and there is no denying she is mine…

That's my baby!
That's my baby!

Let’s make a deal: you get out & Momma will buy you pretty dresses

To the little princess in my belly,

I love you, but we are rapidly approaching a situation similar to this…

No offense, but I am starting to look like a crazy person here. Walking around the neighborhood compulsively (and since we live at the top of a hill, I am not exaggerating when I say uphill both ways), consuming enough pineapple to cripple the luau industry, plowing through spicy dishes that I would never eat on a sane day, and trying to figure out what exactly they mean by nipple stimulation. Not to mention begging your Pops for foot massages nightly (he hates touching feet almost as much as I do, but he grins and rubs them) and getting pedicures with abandon in the hopes that he or the nail tech will hit one of those allusive pressure points that will get you to wiggle your butt out of there. I have even taken to brazenly alerting the prenatal masseuse that she has permission to target all the trigger points for labor. What’s more I have been caught by enough neighbors to possibly prompt a mental health evaluation talking to the big old bump you are hiding in, trying to encourage any grass is greener on the other side of the womb thoughts you may be harboring.

My crazy persona is only complimented by the cleaning frenzy that has struck me in the last week. I have never been a fan of laundry… why spend all that money on water, electricity, and soap powder when you can just put it towards a new top? I was lucky to make it through the mound of dirty clothes that not only filled, but encased all sides of, the laundry hamper once a month. Now we barely have enough drawer and closet space to contain all the clean clothes… and everything is neatly pressed?! That iron has seen more action in the last couple of weeks than it has in the last five years. Oh, and dishes- they actually get done everyday in between the floor scrubbings, bathroom detailings, and compulsory dustings. You could eat cupcakes off the bathroom floor (but why would you want to do that? If you do, let me know because we need to talk).

So, I look crazy and you look smooshed. I can tell the tummy-condo is getting to be a tight squeeze for you because every time you move you are hitting at least two of your walls. You must be making a wreck of the place with all that squirming and so little room. Well guess what? We have an entire bedroom for you, complete with toys and books, that is a frillion times bigger than your current digs. And just so you know, your dog, Sasha, is starting to resent the fact that she was banned from the room some time ago (she and a nary used elliptical machine had laid claim to it before you were even a little wiggle of a sperm tail), and you still haven’t come to claim your space.

You have had a day or two shy of 38 weeks to do what you need to do. Now you are just sitting in the belly getting fat. I know this. I have read the books. You can totally get fat out here with the rest of us and give my stomach, back, legs, feet, hands, and all other affected body parts a break. In fact, the United States is best known for fattening up their kids! It’s a win-win for us both.

While I promise I am not going to take any dramatic steps to evict you, please know that Mommy has served you notice. The doctor has warned that if you decide to hang out for 42 weeks you will be escorted from the premises. On a happy note, she also said you are starting to do all the right things by being low in my belly with your head down, releasing enough hormones to dilate my outer-cervix and soften it a bit, and moving the cervix forward. Good job! Now, let’s work together and get the rest of it finished relatively quickly? If you get out, Momma will buy you lots of pretty dresses…

Love,

Mom