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Mixture

It's very strange to have a mixture of emotions as I have now. I'm feeling the loss of my dad, but at the same time, I still get joy out of my baby; it hasn't really tempered that. I don't feel that guilty admitting it, as I think my dad would have wanted me to savor this newborn-baby time with Henry. On that note, I'd like to lighten the mood around here with a list of products that have become even more useful than I expected:

  • My Brest Friend: first recommended to me by Jodi. This thing has saved my back, literally. Before buying it, I had upper back pain that eclipsed even my c-section incision pain.
  • Multi-purpose waterproof lap pads: another Jodi recommendation. These are excellent to put over the changing pad, and they're great for possible accidents while co-sleeping (which I hadn't wanted to do, but we're in survival mode, so oh well).
  • Hotslings. I heard they had them at Target, so I got one. Henry and I love it, so I got one more. We don't have an infant carrier (one of the ones with a handle that attaches onto a car seat), so when we've gone out with Henry, I've carried him in it. (Fun fact: my mom carried me in a sling too, especially on days I had to have shots at the doctor. She said I wouldn't let her put me down after I'd had a shot, so she'd have to carry me in a sling the rest of that day.)
  • Baby t-shirts (not onesies). The day after tomorrow, Henry will be three weeks old, and his umbilical cord stump STILL has not fallen off. I want to keep letting air get to it, so t-shirts that don't go all the way over his belly button have been indispensable.

I never really saw myself as one of those mothers who adheres to the following constellation: breastfeeding, co-sleeping, baby wearing, home birthing, home schooling, cloth diapering, anti-circumcision, anti-vaccination. But so far I'm almost halfway there. I'd like to do cloth diapering, but I haven't yet been able to find plastic outer pants in Henry's size. (For the record, I'm very PRO-vaccination, we did have H. circ'ed, and I wouldn't want to try a home birth myself.)

1937-2008

Last night my mom called to tell me that my dad passed away in his sleep. Some of you know that he had been very sick (emphysema and prostate problems) for years now, so this isn't unexpected, though it is obviously sad. Emails are fine, but I'm not really up for talking on the phone yet.

The plan now is that he will be cremated -- both of my parents have always said they wanted to be cremated -- and that a memorial service will be held at a later date, probably sometime this summer. I'm still recovering from surgery and can't travel yet; plus our pediatrician advised us not to take the baby out in public in the first month.

I wish he and Henry could have met and known each other. My dad only saw photos of him and heard him cry over the phone.

Birth Story

At 28 weeks, ultrasound revealed that my little guy was breech. We figured he had plenty of time yet to turn, so I didn't pay it too much mind. But still, I wondered. My mother had a scheduled c-section because I was breech. My aunt on my dad's side was breech. My first cousin Kristie's baby (on my mom's side) was breech and also delivered by c-section. I know there's no real proof that breech birth runs in families, but it only happens in about 3 in 100 births, and I know of at least four breech presentations in my family. Just saying.

Anyway, time passed, and he didn't turn. I started getting physical examinations in which the doctor felt my cervix to determine which part of the baby was presenting. It was always the baby's bum. We talked about my options: external cephalic version, or c-section. I read up on version, and it didn't seem to have a very high success rate; it seems that often, these women have to have c-sections anyway. The thought of forcing him to turn made me a little uncomfortable, too. My doctor said he'd done versions before, but not very many, and that his success rate was not all that high. So scheduled c-section it was. We scheduled it for April 29 at first, but due to some early dilation and effacement, we moved it up a week.

On Monday night, I went to sleep about 11:00 p.m. At 12:30, I woke up and cried until I had to get ready to go to the hospital (we had to be there at 5:30 a.m.). Part of me had a feeling of, ha! I won't be made to feel a single labor pain! I'll get some good drugs, the baby will be out in 10 minutes, I'll be closed up by 30 minutes, then I'll be relaxing with my beautiful baby and watching the Suns/Spurs game that night. But another part of me was so terrified: afraid of the needle in the back, afraid the anesthesia wouldn't work and I'd feel the whole thing, afraid that my own terror and anxiety at simply being awake and conscious DURING MAJOR SURGERY would cause me to jerk my arms and legs, tighten my abdomen, and in turn complicate my doctor's job. My movement would cause the doctor to cut the baby, cut my bladder open, or who knows what else.

Tuesday morning we got to the hospital, and I was in a bad way emotionally. I was sobbing almost the whole time, except when I was giggling hysterically at the most shamefully inappropriate things, including:

1. the bed they put me in when they assigned me to a room. There wasn't room for Jonathan to lay in it with me to comfort me, and I started laughing about how this obviously wasn't one of those special beds for the morbidly obese.
2. the fact that, at least on House MD, they have to use MRI machines from a zoo for the morbidly obese (I know! I'm sorry. But this is an ugly, honest narrative)
3. this one nurse who came in, looking confused, and without a single word, took my blood pressure and temperature. This was literally about one minute after another nurse had done the same thing.

This was all before I actually went to the operating room. By then I was a mess again. I explained to the curious and bewildered nurses why I was so scared, and that if I weren't conscious during the procedure, I wouldn't be afraid. My doctor told me that they could give me general anesthesia if I wanted, but that the reason they don't is so that I can be part of the birth process (way to make me feel even worse!). Then the anesthesiologist, an assertive man in an Army beret, tried a different tack. He explained that they wanted to give me a spinal block and said that if they were to give me general anesthesia, there would be a higher chance that the baby would have to be intubated and given supplemental oxygen or put on a respirator. That just clicked. The image of intubation alone was awful enough to make me buck up and do this thing. The anesthesiologist said a lot of other things too, like that my baby was a blessing, that I'm young and healthy, and that as soon as the baby was out, they could give me something that would get me more sedated and out of it, but that I just needed to wait until the baby was out. It would all be worth it when I got to see my baby as soon as they got him out. But I was already persuaded. Jonathan was escorted off to dress in scrubs, which ended up taking a lot longer than I expected.

The nurse anesthetist felt along my vertebrae, digging into the spaces in between with her fingernails, as I leaned onto another nurse who was standing in front of me. They told me to take deep breaths. I started doing the breathing exercises I do when I'm in a plane and there's turbulence, sort of a rhythmic breathing. They gave me a local anesthetic, which made me nervous, but I tried to keep breathing through it. When the big needle went in, I cried out in response to the dull pain, but the medicine acted immediately. The nurse said, "your legs will probably start to feel warm and tingly," and as soon as she said "-gly," my legs got the most warm, fuzzy-blankety feeling. I underestimated how much the anesthetic would also act as a sedative for my mind. And I needn't have worried about jerking my arms or legs or tightening my abdomen; the medicine paralyzed me completely. I couldn't do so much as wiggle my toes.

I kept asking, "Where's Jonathan?" Finally, after they got the drape up and my catheter in, they brought Jonathan in. I might have started crying again out of relief when I first saw him, but I think I calmed down soon enough. I had told him before that he'd better just talk to me and keep on talking -- about anything at all, but I suggested the playoffs. Talk about all the permutations of possible second-round matchups; speculate about who would win in those games. He talked and talked about that, and I don't really remember what he said. At one point, when the doctor was about to pull the baby out, he got Jonathan's attention. Jonathan looked over the drape. "Don't look at it!" I said. I was afraid he'd get grossed out, but he didn't.

I heard Henry cry, and I burst into tears: the happy kind. The anesthesiologist was right; it was all worth it just to hear the cries. Then they showed Henry to me, and I was kind of stunned. The nurse anesthetist pushed what I think was some morphine through my IV, and I completely relaxed. I barely remember chatting with the nurse anesthetist while I was being closed up.

The rest of the day consisted of holding Henry, first attempts to nurse, watching TV, and talking to a couple of people on the phone. By the time the Suns and Spurs played, my head was lolling back, and I was falling asleep with my mouth open. I saw a little bit of the game, but then I was out.

Ever since, I've been walking around in a state of pure awe. I can't believe we have a baby. Even though I went through a full term of pregnancy, it still feels sudden (but wonderful), like someone dropped this perfect tiny boy on our doorstep. I can't think about his physical and my emotional vulnerability too much, or it'll overwhelm me. It often does. I'll tell you one thing; I can't wait until that first pediatrician appointment, when I can get confirmation that he's really okay, that I'm doing this job well.

Bullets of Truth

Uh-huh, a bullets post.

  • When I look at Henry, I wish I could have a nice long conversation with Keats. The sight of Henry's serene, utterly beautiful little face fills me with tearful and inchoate reflections on beauty, ethics, love, truth, nature, fragility, and deep respect for life. I expect Keats would say, "Yes, this boy is the embodiment of all that I wrote."
  • Nursing is not easy, but we're muddling through. I wish I had a baby scale so I could weigh Henry every day.
  • Our house is still in a state of disarray -- unpacked boxes, unshelved books, uncabineted dishes, etc. We just need to hang on for a couple more days, though, because on Tuesday...

    Mom.
    Gets.
    Here.

    and stays for five days. I can't wait. The NBA playoffs will get us through today and Monday.

  • Here's an example of something that could not be otherwise (via):

    Really, I don't see how anyone could do anything else. Maybe celebrities with baby nurses/nannies.

Precious Little Henry

Whew! Our baby made it out safely and has been doing great since yesterday. He was 20 inches, 7 pounds, 10 ounces at birth. We had to be at the hospital at 5:30 in the morning yesterday for the c-section, and the time of birth was 8:40. I intend to write a more detailed birth story later. I'm interested in writing it just to see what it'll look like, as it may be a bit against type as far as birth stories are concerned. You don't read too many planned c-section birth stories, in other words. Here are some pictures we've taken so far:

Just out of recovery room, morphine/spinal block still in effect

New Family

DSC00958

He has hair

DSC00963

Up a Week

Two centimeters dilated, 80% effaced: that's what the doctor told us at today's exam. Given this progress, we've decided that it will be less risky to move this c-section up a week, to April 22 -- less than a week away now.

Since Baby G. is breech, there's an increased risk of prolapsed umbilical cord, so we want to try to make sure we do this surgery well before I'd go into labor. Prolapsed umbilical cord wouldn't necessarily happen even if I were to go into labor, but if it did happen, it would be very dangerous for Baby G. My mom had a scheduled c-section because I was breech, and she went into labor beforehand but I turned out fine, but we don't want to take any chances.

Various cool people he'll share a birthday with include Sheryl Lee (Laura Palmer from Twin Peaks), Jack Nicholson, Charles Mingus, and Vladimir Nabokov.

High-pregnant

Oooh, I just remembered that I am now (and have been for a while) høygravid. By the way, I can't tell you how jealous I am of Jill's March 24, 2008-January 2009 maternity leave. Ah, to live in Norway.

April 29

This handy ticker pretty much sums it up:


The little guy is still breech, and this is what I'm opting to do, assuming he doesn't turn on his own (not likely, and I'm not interested in trying an external cephalic version, just so you know). I'm frightened, but I'd be frightened regardless of how this birth happens.

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