Thursday, September 24, 2009

I'm on Day 5 of a seven-day cleanse...

... and I feel like I'm on steroids. SO. MUCH. ENERGY.

Don't know whether I should run up the side of a mountain or pick a fight with a stranger.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Meet Morris

Morris Frederick Emmerson was born at 2:23 June 08, 2008.

In the 6 days since his arrival, Morris has been a totally mellow little baby, staying awake for several hours at a time each day (and night, alas) while contentedly examining the brave new world in which he now finds himself.

Here's how the main event last Sunday morning went down...

(Warning: if an open and frank discussion about girly bits or, um, things of a more scatological nature make you go "eeew" you might just want to look at the pretty pictures instead.)

At about 7:30 p.m. on Saturday June 7th, I felt a gush that suggested my waters had finally broken. At least, that's what I thought had happened. I'd already experienced about a million false alarms ("Oooh, yay, I'm having contractions! Oh, wait a minute, no I'm not. Yes I am! Nope, guess not. Am! Not! Am! Not!" Sigh... NOTHING tries one's patience more than waiting for a baby to arrive. Seriously).

At any rate, I wasn’t sure whether I'd actually felt what I'd thought I felt, so I just continued to hang out with Rob and Milo and see what happened.

Sure enough, by 8:30 I was experiencing regular contractions that were coming every 5 minutes or so and lasting about 45 seconds.

I called "Oz," my Australian-born midwife at 9:00 p.m. to let her know this was happening, and she said she’d come over and see how I was doing. I’d had several false labour episodes in the days leading up to this, so we knew that this might be the real thing – or not.

Oz showed up around 9:30 p.m. and checked me out. (This was my first – and last – internal exam.) Turns out I was 3 cm dilated, and about 50% effaced. By this time the contractions were coming every 4 minutes and lasting about a minute. They were pretty strong, but I could still talk through them and walk around no problem. (I was having lots of fun bouncing on my yoga ball – it definitely helped keep things loose down there.)

Oz said she thought this was probably the big lead-up to the main event and that I would be having the baby either that night or the next day. Since she lives only 10 minutes down the road, she went home to sleep for a couple of hours and suggested we do the same, to make sure we were well rested when the time came. She told me to call her when the contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and had become too strong for me to talk through.

Rob and I went to bed and lay down to listen to my “hypnobirthing” relaxation tape. I found it really helpful to listen to a whole bunch of positive affirmation messages, such as “relax and let yourself open to the sensations flowing through you,” and “trust your body and your baby – they know what they’re doing” -- and of course, that old chestnut, "I'm good enough, I'm strong enough, and gosh darn it, people like me."

(Kidding on that last one.)

By the time 11:00 p.m. rolled around, I was feeling too restless to lie in bed any longer. The contractions had slowed down somewhat – they were back to happening every 5-6 minutes or so – but they had become significantly stronger, and I figured it would be better to climb aboard and ride that bullet train to Babytown than continue trying to relax – especially as “relaxing” was getting less relaxing by the minute.

So I told Rob we should get back up and start preparing for the baby, as it was coming soon. He still wasn't sure whether to believe me or not (!!! Note to men: when a woman says "this baby is coming SOON" you had best believe her, or at least act like you do. If you value your life, that is.)

But despite his skepticism -- or mere reluctance to get up from a cozy bed -- Rob got up and went downstairs to light a fire in the wood-burning stove in our family room (aka ground zero) and start gathering all of the stuff we needed for the home birth.

Meanwhile, in between my ever-intensifying contractions, I called the midwife and told her she should probably come over. She was back at our place by 11:30, by which time I had gotten to the point where I could no longer talk through contractions and it was taking all my concentration to deal with them. I could no longer sit comfortably on the birthing pool or walk around during contractions. From this time on, I spent most of my time on my knees (on pillows) leaning against more pillows piled up on the couch, while Rob pressed a hot water bottle against the small of my back.

(That poor guy… he was running around trying to do a million things at once – all things I’d asked him to do – yet was forced to drop whatever he was doing and come back to help me through all the contractions, which were coming a minute apart by this time!)

The midwife got busy setting up all her equipment and Rob started filling the birth pool with hot water. By this time I was bellowing and mooing like a cow through each contraction, making sure to keep my voice low and the rest of my body as relaxed as possible. I tried to practice non-focused awareness and concentrate on what the rest of my body was doing and feeling, e.g., What were my fingers touching? Was my mouth loose and relaxed? Could I wiggle my toes? And gosh, where the heck is Rob with the FREAKIN' HOT WATER BOTTLE ALREADY – that sort of thing. Phrases from my hypnobirthing relaxation tape kept on coming back to me, and helped me deal with the overwhelming force of each contraction. Every time I reminded myself to relax INTO the pain, I would have a wicked strong one – but I could really feel that things were opening up down there.

... But maybe they were opening up too much? Suddenly, I had felt an intense need to go poo. "Oh, this is embarrassing," I thought.

I told the midwife and she said, “Okay, it’s time for me to phone Petra (the other midwife).”

Silly Oz -- she thought the pushing stage had begun.

I, however, was still convinced I was about to poo, and thought I'd better get that over with before the baby came. Somehow I managed to get to my feet and go to the toilet -- where I remained for many long and frustrating moments. The contractions were coming on so fast and furious I simply couldn’t move. Oz kept saying, “You DON'T want to have this baby on the toilet.”

I just looked at her, dumbfounded. There was no way I was moving. Besides, I still REALLY needed to take a poo.

Then she asked me to feel inside myself to see if I could feel the baby. I reached up and felt something very squishy inside me. "I think I feel the umbilical cord," I told Oz.

Her eyes grew huge. "What?!" she asked, clearly alarmed. "Uh oh," I thought. Oz reached inside me and then smiled. "That's the head, Erin," she said.

The realization that the head was so low helped me find the strength I needed to get off the toilet. Once Rob told me the blow-up pool was filled with water, I somehow managed to stumble my way out of the bathroom and into the pool. As soon as I got into the deliciously warm water, my entire lower body relaxed and I was soooo happy no longer to be on the toilet.

The second midwife showed up just a few minutes after I was in the pool. The pushing stage was really intense this time around and the position I was in for my first boy wasn’t doing it for me, so I did some moving around until I finally found a position that worked. The next thing I knew, I was bellowing my way through an enormous push and dimly aware that Rob and the midwives were saying something like, “Here it comes! Here it comes!”

For a second there, I thought they were talking about my poo. A small grenade exploded between my legs -- "Ewww, that can't be pretty. Does that mean they're going to make me get out of the pool now?" I dimly wondered -- then to my utter disbelief I heard Rob and the midwives say, "There's the head! You're doing awesome!"

"Geez, I hope it doesn't have any poop on it," I thought.

The rest of the body came out on the next push, and then my midwife was placing the most beautiful little boy on my chest. His eyes were wide open and he was staring straight at me, just the most chilled one-second-old baby on the planet.

And of course, he didn't have even the tiniest speck of poop on him.

Morris was born after 7 hours of labour, from start to finish. Three of those hours were pretty intense -- including the 30 minutes of pushing I did -- but just like that it was all over. I couldn’t believe how quickly and how well it had gone.

After I was out of the tub, the midwives left Rob, Morris, and I alone to bond and introduce Morris to a very important -- and very enlarged -- part of my anatomy:

After about an hour, Oz and Petra came back to check on Morris and me and see how well we'd survived our ordeal. I needed a few stitches, but pffft! Like I could feel them, after everything I’d just been through. Morris scored 9 - 10 - 10 on the Apgar Scale (which basically means he's rocking some major good mojo). He, Rob, and I finally crawled into our bed to go to sleep at around 5:45 a.m.

... Only to be awakened just over an hour later by a sleepy-headed Milo, who came into our bedroom at 7:00 a.m. rubbing his eyes and holding a book he wanted Rob and me to read to him. Milo, that hero, that superstar, that all-around fabulous guy, slept through the entire thing.

Needless to say, he was blown away to discover he suddenly had a new baby brother.

Since then, one of the midwives has come by to examine Morris and me every day, to make sure we’re recovering well. (That’s one of the best things about having a home birth, in my opinion – the post-partum home visits!)

I must say, I’m amazed at how well my recovery is going this time around. Even though I had stitches, I’ve experienced very little perineal swelling and almost no pain or discomfort. I think I can thank Arnica (and, um, Tylenol 3 and Ibuprofen) for that!!!

So that’s how Morris made his grand entrance into the world. And a pretty grand entrance it was, I must say.

… Now, if only the little mouse boy could learn that the hours between midnight and dawn are NOT super-fun stay-awake party time...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A movie just begging to be made

... Here's hoping it doesn't get the Afternoon Playhouse treatment:

Note to self: Never, ever, EVER forget Milo's birthday.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Not just another reason to spread 'em for strangers

The cervix: a body part whose existence you're entirely unaware of, until you have a baby jumping up and down on it, sending you a very clear message: "LET ME OUT ALREADY!"

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Linda Blair paid us a midnight visit

You know that feeling you get when you say something aloud -- then immediately wish you could swallow those ill-considered words because you know you've just put a horrible jinx on yourself?

Yes. Well. That's exactly the feeling I had when I bragged to my mother last month that my 2 1/2 year old Milo had *never* been sick. Not to the point of vomiting, at least.

Fast forward to last Thursday: Rob and I were awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of Milo crying. Not so unusual -- he wakes up once or twice a week and calls for us because his precious blankie has fallen to the floor (or, much more rarely, because he himself has fallen to the floor).

So I got up, stumbling and squinty-eyed, and made my way to his room. When I opened the door, there was Milo sitting in the middle of his bed, wailing as if he'd just awakened to discover himself on a sinking raft in the middle of shark-infested waters..

"Mommy!" he sobbed. "My tummy hurts! And I spilled something on my pillow!"

Insert ominous music here...

Sure enough, the little guy had thrown up all over his bed. And himself. And -- horrors! -- his beloved blankie. So while I got him changed and held him close (even as he continued to vomit into hastily grabbed towels), reassuring him that he was all right and hadn't done anything wrong, Rob stripped the bed and threw everything into the washing machine. Even the blankie, the presence of which Milo usually considers to be as necessary to his survival as oxygen.

But the poor boy was so zonked out by the whole experience that he just wanted it to GO AWAY. "I want to sleep! I want to sleep!" he cried, over and over again. So when the vomiting was done, and the sheets and pillows were replace with clean ones, we laid him down and let him sink immediately back into sweet, sweet oblivion.

For Rob and I, of course, it took a lot longer. We were so wired by the experience that we couldn't relax enough to fall asleep, and every rasping cough from Milo's room jolted us back into heart-pounding alertness. The positive side to this was that we were still awake when the washing machine finished its cycle, so Rob figured he may as well get up and threw everything into the dryer, just in case we needed to change Milo's sheets again in the middle of the night.

So when Milo woke up a couple hours later, crying for his blankie, I was overjoyed to run downstairs and grab a clean, soft, warm fuzzy dry blankie. "This'll trump anything he gets for Christmas," I thought. And when I put it into his outstretched arms, his chortle of glee told me that we were all going to live to see the dawn.

Sure enough, when I went into his room to get him the next morning, he greeted me with a cheerful, "Milo's feeling better, Mommy! Not sick anymore!" And then he proceeded to scarf down an entire waffle and half an egg. Ah, the resilience of youth.

... I certainly wish *I'd* been able to recover as quickly when the same damned stomach bug struck me down on Saturday night.

See all the fun you're missing, all you childless people out there?

Monday, November 19, 2007

To sleep, perchance to dream some really messed-up shit

If you've never been pregnant, you probably have no idea what happens in the subconscious mind of the impending mother-to-be.

... Frankly, neither do I -- but I can tell you this: it does make for some pretty fucked-up dreams.

Last week, for example, I had a dream in which I relived the entire 2 1/2-hour final episode of M*A*S*H, which I haven't seen since it first aired in 1982. (Okay, so I'm dating myself.)

I woke up sobbing into my tear-soaked pillow, silently crying, "But it WASN'T a chicken, Hawkeye! It was a BAAAY-BEE!"


And then last night, I dreamed I was Cordelia -- the spurned daughter in Shakespeare's tragedy, "The Madness of King Lear." (Speaking of "pretty fucked up," that describes King Lear in a nutshell.)

In the real play, Cordelia gets banished because she doesn't want to compete with her two evil sisters in a contest to describe how much she loves her father the king, who plans to give the choicest parcel of his kingdom to the daughter who claims to love him most.

(Cordelia thinks the contest demeans the love she really feels for him. Stickler. Whereas her harridan sisters, who feel no love for the king at all, suffer from no such compunction.)

And so because Cordelia refrains from waxing poetic, her self-absorbed daddy kicks her out of the kingdom in a huge huff -- and then gets punished for his hubris as his two remaining daughters plot and scheme to de-throne him, destroying his sanity in the process.

(Amazing how a king can be taken in by a smooth line as easily as a teenaged girl. "But... but... you said you loved me!" )

In my dream version of the play, Cordelia got banished because her sisters set her up to make it seem that some small deceit on her part resulted in the death of a man. Lear didn't care about the man who died -- he just wanted to get me (Cordelia) to admit my guilt. And when I refused to, he accused me of lying and got so pissed off he booted me out of the kingdom, while my two evil sisters looked on, smirking and giggling behind hands held over their mouths.

Again I woke up sobbing into a tear-soaked pillow, my protestations of innocence falling on deaf imaginary ears.

Then I spent the next two hours trying unsuccessfully to get back to sleep, because I couldn't stop myself from plotting elaborate revenge fantasies against the two evil sisters who set me up.


When I finally DID fall back asleep, I ended up having a dream in which I had to interrupt a couples massage two of my ex-boyfriends were getting, in order to extend a lunch invitation to the one I still considered a friend -- but that's a tale for a different day.

(Pregnancy: Time to bring out the crazy!)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The glass is 99% full, dammit

So I went to see my very nice (and very male) family doctor a couple of weeks ago to tell him I was pregnant.

(I will be continuing my prenatal care with a midwife, but as Milo was due to visit the doctor for his much-belated two-year-old check-up, I thought I may as well get the ol' stethoscope treatment, as well.)

After congratulating me, the first thing to come out of the doctor's mouth was, "So I guess you'll be wanting me to get you started on your tests, then?"

Oh. Right. The tests. The not-so-joyous part of being pregnant.

Thanks to the wonders of western medicine, doctors are now able to test for certain birth defects while the baby is still in the earliest stages of development, so excited young mothers- and fathers-to-be can discover within weeks of conception whether their child to be is going to be stricken with a chromosonal abnormality such as Down's Syndrome.

The risk factor for such chromosonal abnormalities increases dramatically once a woman passes the age of 35.

I'm 37. And I'll be 38 when this baby is born.

Which is why my doctor quite strenuously advocated that I undergo all possible testing. Just "in case."

Never mind that I do yoga and ride my bike to work four times a week (a 13-km round-trip journey). Even given my state of optimal health, my ability to pass on healthy chromosones is apparently decaying with each passing day.

Meanwhile, merely contemplating the remote possibility that something might be wrong with my baby is enough to make me wrap my arms around my burgeoning belly and run to the hills, to find a nice dark cave to hide in for the next seven and a half months or so.

Yet despite my doctor's well-intentioned fear mongering (backed up with statements like, "Well, my wife and I just had a new baby daughter two months ago and we had the testing done." -- Yeah, dude, but you spend ALL DAY considering all the myriad things that can go wrong with the human body! Me, I'd rather not), I keep reminding myself that the "dramatic increase" caused by my age means going from a 1 in 178 chance (for women who are 35 years old) to a 1 in 100 chance of having a baby with birth defects (for women who are 38).

Which means there's still a 99% chance I will give birth to a perfectly "normal" healthy baby. Those are the odds I'd prefer to put my money on -- not the 1% long shot.

But even if I do go ahead and get all the testing done -- and the results come back and confirm my worst fears have been realized -- what then?

What does one DO with that kind of information?

Is it better to know ahead of time -- so I can spend the next seven months resenting the malformed child growing inside me?

(WOULD I resent the child, in such a case? Or would I research the malady and prepare myself so I could be a loving and welcoming mother once the baby had been born? Could I ever be that much of a saint? That's something I honestly don't know.)

Or is it better to go through my pregnancy, cheerfully anticipating the arrival of a perfect newborn -- and then be crushed when the baby doesn't meet my expectations?

(WOULD I be totally crushed? Or would I learn to love the baby no matter what, once I held it in my arms? Again, it's impossible to say.)

When faced with such unanswerable questions, all I want to do is close my eyes, plug my finger into my ears, and scream, "LA! LA! LA!" at the top of my lungs.

Ignorance is bliss.