Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Four Things That Suck About Going Back To Work After Baby

Good news! I got a job!

Bad news! It is really hard to remember you have a blog to update when you work 8 hours a day and also keep up a house and also have a baby. Oh, and of course having to pump every 4 hours. That's fun.

This is pretty much how I wake up every morning now.

To preface this post, I have never seen myself as a stay-at-home mom. After doing it with one child for three months, I can easily say it was really hard, and, sincerely, I greatly admire all the parents out there who do it forever and with more children. I have no idea how you do not go insane, because kids are weird and things come out of every part of them.

So, as soon as I was mobile after birthing Ripley, I started applying for jobs. Luckily for me, my Bell's Palsy had gotten to the point at that time where people really couldn't tell there was something wrong with my face, so I really wasn't worried about interviews. Thank god for bangs, though, because the only thing that has really not come back has been my eyebrow. That thing does not move, like at all. It's kinda like a fun party trick at this point, really. An icebreaker, if you will.

"Ah, yes, that is an excellent story. Now, let me show you what I cannot do with my left eyebrow."
I digress.

So, to get back on point, I was offered a position at the university that Grey works at. I was really excited to get started. Then I started work, and realized there were things that I just was not prepared for. As always with my blog, my pain will now be placed on the Internet for all of you, and in list form.

"WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH why can't everything be easy all the time forever?"

The morning comes, I'm all dressed up for work, Ripley is in her car seat, and we drive to town. Everything is peachy. We pull up to the day care center. She's snoozing in the seat, looking so sweet, and we take her in. Still doing good. The ladies at day care are very excited to have the new baby to look after and are professional and good with the kids. We put Ripley in her designated crib, and she looks up and smiles at us while we walk out the door.


Okay, not good anymore. Opposite of okay. Smacked in the side of the face with a giant, slimy piece of hefty, terrible emotions.

The physical manifestation of my failures as a parent.
I start my day at work being introduced to my new coworkers and getting my desk sorted, and not paying attention to any of it because I was trying hard to not burst into tears. I kept seeing Ripley, in that crib, laying there, wanting her mommy and wondering why she abandoned her one and only child.

It was getting so bad that when my supervisor was telling me the timeline of my training, my only thought was that she was wasting her time because I was going to quit and go back home.

Screw this desk, my baby needs me!!!

Grey and I went to lunch with some of his coworkers, where I cried into my chicken pesto panini. I thought the husband was doing better than me, but while I was eating my emotions, he told me he was trying hard to not lose it too, which actually made me feel better. If you're going to be making a scene at a sandwich shop, you might as well make it a group event.

Now, since our munchkin eats like a grizzly bear, it is necessary for me to drop off milk to her during lunch. This provided us with an excellent excuse to go see her. We drive to her daycare, both of us sniffly messes. We go in, and contrary to all of my guilt fueled nightmares, our child is absolutely fine.

In fact, she's actually having fun, and interacting with other babies. When she sees us, she giggles and reaches out for cuddles, but once we put her back on the play mat with the other kiddos, she goes right back to playing. She didn't really care that we were leaving, and that was the best.

"It's alright. Our baby doesn't need us. We're free."

In all seriousness, she was and still is doing really well in daycare. The ladies who run the baby room are super sweet, and Ripley gets to play with other tiny babies. Seeing her giggling and not at all unhappy made both of us realize that there was nothing to feel guilty about.

That doesn't mean I don't still deal with a little bit of guilt. It's a weird emotion. I'll just be typing away, answering some e-mails, then I'll see my desktop wallpaper, which is, of course, my freaking adorable child, and BABAM, there's that stupid guilt again, telling me that there is something wrong with me wanting to work and not being home with her.

But I think that guilt is a totally self-imposed thing. No one besides a mean part of my brain has ever told me that I was doing the wrong thing; my baby is a ridiculously happy kid and our checkbook is a much happier being too.

So, basically, I need to just tell my brain to shut up, because it is dumb.

Shush you. You're not the boss of me.
2. Get Ready to Be Sick For Forever

Fun fact!

Day care centers are cess pools of disease and you do not have the immunities to fight against them yet.

Picutred: How I feel about pretty much all other children right now.
Grey, Ripley, and I have all been passing around all sorts of fun bugs, and everytime we all start to get better, a tiny child sneezes, and we start the whole fun coughing, sneezing, pghlemy grossness all over again. It's gross, but by the time we get through all of this, I think our immune systems may be made of pure steel.

Until then, we're just going to have to deal with a house full of snotty tissues and cough drops.

On the plus-side, Ripley really likes the electronic aspirator. It's super weird, but I'm not going to question it.

3. Pumping at Work Sucks

You know what's fun? Sitting half naked at an office desk attached to a super loud machine sucking boob milk out of yourself. That is awesome.

So cool to do, wish I could pump all the time forever, yay.
First off, let's start off with the logistics of even bringing the pump to work. There are many parts to a pump: the machine, the charger, the tubes, the breast shields, the bottles to go with the breast shields, bottles to put the milk in afterwards, and a washcloth with which to wipe things off with afterwards. So many parts, so many that I end up leaving something at home all the freaking time. This has resulted in me needing to hand-express, which suuuuuuucks and hurts your boobs and gets like no milk out, at all, so you are left with hurty breasts and a wet bra for the entire day.

"My boooooooooooooooobs, ugggggggh."

On the days I actually remember everything, this is my normal day. I take this giant bag of breast pumping goodness to my desk. Then, I go to a spare office, lock the door, set up and plug in the breast pump, attach the breast shields, take my shirt off, pop those boobies right on out, set a timer for 12 minutes, then sit in said empty office, pumping away. Then afterwards, I clean up, put everything away, then go to the bathroom to clean off the breast shields and bottles, which doesn't get weird looks from all the random college kids, at all.

This happens twice a day. Well, it's supposed to at least. My job entails going to meetings a lot, and unfortunately, the world does not schedule itself around my milk production. This results in quite a few days where I am sitting in a meeting trying to ignore my poor aching baby feeders. This is completely deal-able, but still sucks.

"Ugggggggggggggggh, boooooobs."

The worst thing about pumping at work is the one thing that makes most things awful: other people. Despite having a room with a lock, I have been walked in on several times. Having a locked room doesn't mean too much when other people forget they have a a nursing mother working at the office and they also have keys to rooms that have previously been open storage spaces.

One day, my boss accidentally walked in on me while I was pumping, with a guest speaker. This guest speaker served as an advisor to Ronald Reagan. So, a president has vicariously seen my boobs.

Can I add that fact to my resume now?
Since then, I have gotten a private room on a different floor, printed off a sign telling people not to come in, and I have never had anyone walk in on. Yet.

4. You Will Go to Work With Pee, Poop, and/or Spit Up on You


Sometimes you are late for work, so if you get spit up on, you only have time to wipe off with a burp rag, angle the car air vent down, and hope everyone is polite enough to not mention that you smell like semi digested breastmilk.

My tiny outfit ruiner.

It is just baby's way of reminding you that they love you?

Yeah, let's go with that.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

5 Tips For Taking Care of a Newborn (Written by the Incompetent for the Clueless)

I have absolutely no idea what to do with a baby.

Seriously. I have never baby sat, I have never been in contact with any baby relatives, and I have never taken a home ec class.

The extent of my knowledge of infants when we brought Ripley home was which end poop came out of, and which end food goes in. Not the worst place to start, but not ideal when a tiny human in completely dependent on you to not die.

Oh, wait, I also knew that you should not put your mouth anywhere near that area. So that's three things I knew.
Once we got out of the hospital, and away from the blessed call button, we were pretty much on our own. And, since Grey had to go back to work because he didn't get any paternity leave and used all his vacation days staying in the hospital with me, that meant I was pretty much on my own.

There was much crying and wailing, from both me and the baby, but somehow, we've made it this far, despite my previous lack of experience. Now, I think it's time to take my panicked quest for baby knowledge and do something useful with it, besides keep my child alive.

So, with this post, I will be presenting a crash course in baby. Having been with a baby for nearly three months now, I can verify that I am now an expert and that everything I say is exactly how things should be done with all children.

"Hello, my name is Ripley, and much like my diaper, my mom's previous statement is full of poo."

1. When in Doubt, YouTube

So, when I say I had no idea what I was doing with a baby, I meant that in the most complete way possible. I did not know how to change a diaper, how to put a onesie on something that is wiggling, screaming, and puking on you all at the same time, how to burp a baby, how to properly wash a baby, or any number of things that I did not receive a manual on when the hospital let me leave with a real life child.

Fortunately, there is a manual out there, and its name is YouTube.

YouTube - Not just for cat videos. Just mostly for cat videos. 
I first learned to turn to YouTube in college, when I had to find out how to unclog an overflowing toilet RIGHT THE HELL NOW OMG. So, when once again I was faced with a seemingly unending flow of excrement, I turned on my computer and typed in "how to change a baby." And there, in step by step explanations, was my virtual salvation.

Seriously, there is a how-to video for everything on that site. I did not know how to burp Ripley. There's a video on there, and the lady was lovely, had a fake doll and a burp rag, and told me I was doing a good job. I was having problems getting onesies on the child without getting stuck on various baby parts, and BAM, there's a video of a mom pulling clothes over a giant headed child without missing a beat. It's like magic. Wonderful, baby-skill teaching magic with some of the worst background music you've ever heard, but that's a small price to pay.

Plus, the benefit to using YouTube as opposed to asking an actual human for help is that YouTube does not judge you for not knowing things or doing them wrong. YouTube cannot hurt your feelings or make you feel dumb, which is something that people are good at, and when you already feeling dumb staring at a naked baby butt and a diaper, you just don't want to deal with that, now do you?

Pictured: Not YouTube

2. As Long As Your Baby is Fed, You Are Doing It Right

I really had my heart set on breast feeding Ripley. During the pregnancy, my breasts went from a respectable C cup to an awe-inspiring H, so I didn't want all that real estate expansion to go to waste. My kiddo, on the other hand, had other ideas.

A lesson I learned and that I am passing onto all of you out there without babies; newborns are dumb. Like, I know I shouldn't probably say that, but really, they are not smart at all. If they were, they would come out of the womb knowing that a boob is for food, instead of me having to juggle mine around my body until I could figure out a way for her to actually eat. The only position that worked was one that was called the "football hold." This is where you tuck the child to the side, and then, while holding her in the crook of your elbow, kinda just shove your boob in their face at an angle.

This is not the correct way to do the football hold. That's so silly, how would you even get your boob up there?
Even with this position, it was hard to get the kid to latch on. In the hospital, lactation specialists tried to help, but it got to the point where I had one person holding a screaming Ripley, and the other wrangling my breasts around to try to figure out how to get her to eat. Needless to say, it was not fun. Then, when I got home, it was even worse, because there was no one to help. I cannot find the words to adequately explain the frustrated feelings you get when you are half naked, covered in spit, and trying to force an extremely unhappy and very loud baby to keep your nipple in her mouth. Even YouTube was failing me. Plus, the comments on breastfeeding how-to videos are by far the creepiest things EVER.

"I believe this breastfeeding woman would benefit from me telling her that her nipples are 'scrumptious'," says the person who should never have access to the internet ever again. 
So, instead of wrestling with Ripley, I just turned to the breast pump, stuck the milk in the bottle, and bam, baby is fed and everyone is happy. It's a little annoying, because I have to pump at least every four hours to keep up with her, but it's alright, mostly because I like having a fully fed baby and also because formula is ridiculously expensive.

There are some out there who think I should have tried harder to get her to latch, because that's what a good mother should do. The nice thing about this, though, is that those people are a tiny minority of people out there. Most people don't care if you feed your child out of a bottle, or with formula, or straight from the good ole' mammory glands. Seriously. Unless you're cranking your newborn full of Monster energy drink and navy-style gin via water gun to the face, I guarantee the majority of folks out care more about the new Walking Dead episode than what goes into your kid and how that happens.  Those who do care and disagree with your method are usually smart enough to keep their mouth clamped.

I am currently keeping the gin water gun idea on the "to-do" list for Mommy Time later.
For those special few individuals who would say something to you, keep this in mind: it's cool, because they suck and are, in fact, big, leaky douchebags.

3. Breast Pumps are Weird

Let's talk about breast pumps. I have a love/hate relationship with this machine. On the one hand, it has allowed Ripley to still have breast milk, and that is awesome for her and my wallet. On the other hand, it is really loud, takes two hours a day (15 minutes every three hours), and makes me feel like a cow.

Not in a fat way. Like, literally, this is kind of what breast pumping looks like.
Pumps are actually quite useful to have around even if you are actually breast feeding; they allow someone besides your breasts to feed your child, which is useful if you and your boobs would like to be somewhere without the kid for any period of time. They come in either manual or electric form, and, at this point, are covered by all insurances, so you can pick out whatever works for you. If you know me, you know I am lazy, so of course I got a mechanical pumper. Specifically a Medela Pump In Style Advanced.

My little, yellow breast-sucking pal.
So, how it works is you take those two breast shields and put them on your breasts, with the nipples centered. You make sure the hoses are properly in the shield and the pump itself, then switch it on. Now, here you gotta be careful. The power on this thing ranges from the wind generated from butterfly wings to that one scene in Aliens 4 where the alien gets sucked into space through a tiny hole in the spaceship. It's a delicate balance.

Then you sit there while the pump does the work for you. I've taken to playing on the iPad or doing crossword puzzles while sitting at the dining room table. It's like relaxing "me" time, only with a background noise of "GSH GSH GSH GSH GSH" instead of a gentle ocean breeze. I also have my cellphone nearby with a timer on it, since I usually go for 12 minutes (the first 2 minutes is called the "let-down" which opens up the milk ducts, then 10 minutes of actual pumping).

Of course, this is the ideal time for people to call or knock on the door. If it's right after the let-down period, milk is pretty much streaming out, so it's awesome when someone needs you three minutes into this process.

"We come a knocking when your knockers are a'pumping!"
Oh, and one last thing about using a breast pump. Be super careful with the flange on the end of the shield. I tried to pry it off one day to clean it out, and without knowing so, ruined the suction. I went almost two weeks thinking there was something wrong with me because I was hardly getting any milk out, and my ducts were getting plugged, which hurts. Luckily, I had an extra set the hospital gave me, so as soon as I figured out what was really wrong, and switched them out, I was back in milky business.

4. Babies are Surprisingly Sturdy Little Buggers

When I was first handed Ripley, she was so tiny, I thought there couldn't possibly be anything more fragile than this itty bitty human. I was afraid of holding her tight. The idea of hitting her on the back to burp her was, frankly, horrifying.

You....you want me to hit this tiny, perfect creature? You MONSTER!
Here's the truth: babies may spit up all over themselves constantly and have the smallest, cutest feet, but they do not break as easy as you may think. That doesn't mean you should carry them around by one leg, swinging them around like some weird, wiggly medieval flail. What this does mean is that they are not going to break into a million pieces if you accidentally hit them on that stupid handle on the car seat AGAIN GODDAMMIT.

It's like a freaking baby head magnet is installed in that thing.
Plus, if you ever think that a baby is weak, you have never had one pull your hair unexpectedly. It'll make you want to cry, but you have to keep quiet because she just fell asleep, so you have to figure out how to get those little fingers out of your scalp without waking her up. Never underestimate your baby.

This point actually leads me to my final piece of advice...

5. This Will All Become Second Nature, Crazy Fast

I didn't know how to change a diaper. I didn't know how to swaddle. I didn't even know you needed to support a baby's head when you pick them up because otherwise those noggins go everywhere.

Despite my initial, scatter-brained handling of my newborn, she is a super happy baby. And, you know what? That's because I caught on. And if I can catch on to these things, I promise you can too. Whether it be from YouTube, helpful tips from other people, or just weird intuition, learning how to take care of a baby isn't as insurmountable of a task as I was terrified that it would be.

Diapers can be full of disgusting poop, but it is almost surprising how quickly you get used to all that excrement. Ripley has full on projectile pooped on Grey and I, and while we acknowledge that it is super duper gross, neither of us have freaked out or had a meltdown over it. I can honestly say that my child is the only person in the world who can spray me down with feces and have me not get too terribly upset about it. Not even my adorable kitties can get away with that.

They can get away with being so super cute in Boppy's though. Look at that face.
After a bit, you just kinda know what to do. You figure out what makes your baby happy (Ripley loves getting her legs played with), and you figure out what they hate (tummy time pisses off the child like nothing else). It's actually kinda weird. Basically, you don't even need this list. You got this, and even if you don't right now, you will.

And just remember, if all else fails, YouTube it.

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Friday, October 24, 2014

How to Recover From a C-Section (With Bonus Husband Bragging Section)

So, this whole once every two week blog posting thing has really been going quite well, don't you all think?


Don't look at me like that, Mr Spock. 
Actually, we are in the middle of moving, again, since the place we are renting got sold. We could've waited until our lease was officially over to do the whole buying a house, then moving to said house, but that would have involved moving in the middle of December, in Michigan, with a far more mobile baby. I think there is a layer of hell that revolves around that very scenario.

Ah, yes, there it is. Right between Sisyphus and the rains of fire storming down upon usurpers and blasphemers.
Between packing and taking care of a tiny, screaming human (who looks like a little old man when she's really mad, which is hilarious), it has been a bit more difficult than I had previously anticipated to stay up to date on stuff like writing or showering on a daily basis. Slowly starting to get more and more used to the new flow of things though, so here we go with the promised topic!

As you all know, I had to have an emergency C-Section to get Ripley out into the world. Sucked, and wasn't exactly what I had planned, but all in all the best and only option I really had left in the end. However, after the surgery, not only did I have a newborn, but also a fancy, new, recently closed massive abdominal wound to look after. I am now recovered quite nicely, so I'm gonna go ahead and list all of the things I did that I believe helped me, for anyone else out there who go for the non-vagina route of baby birthing.

One day, I'm putting this on a cake for Ripley.

1. Don't Be Afraid To Push the Call Button

Here's the thing about having a baby forcibly removed from oneself; afterwards, you cannot move, because there is a hole in your stomach that has just been sewn up and it does not feel good. I sneezed once in the first day I was out of surgery, and thought that I had to have punched at least 30 puppies in a past life in order to deserve such pain.

Right in their adorable puppy faces.
Due to this fact, the hospital provides you with a call button; it's a magical thing that brings an absurdly cheerful person to your side, no matter what time it is, to do your bidding. It's pretty sweet.

Despite this magical ability that I had gained to get professional men and women to bring me juice whenever I wanted it, I had a genuine aversion to using it. I wanted to do everything by myself, even with the high dosage of pain meds and the catheter. (Oh yes, as a reminder, I had a catheter. Pee bag and everything.) Well, actually, I think it may have been less wanting to do everything myself, but actually feeling bad that I was making these people do menial things. (Like bring me juice.)

This came to a head during one of the few times that Grey was not in the room with me. Ripley was crying, and even though she was in a bassinet right next to me, it was too high for me to be able to reach over to get her. I was able to prop myself up with my elbows, but not able to actually use my torso to hold myself upright quite yet. I felt really helpless and frustrated.

Much like this gif of a cat who is too fat to scratch its ear. Also, you're welcome for this gif.
Then I realized that I was being stupid and pressed the call light. A nurse came in, changed her diaper, handed her over to me, and everyone was much happier.

One of the things I came to realize was that it was okay to ask for help. More than okay, it was what I needed to do in order to heal. Besides the fact that these people were being paid to make sure I was getting the help I needed, people in general are actually more than pleased to make things easier for you and your new human. I just had to buck up and accept that help and push that button; and as soon as I did, life got much better.


I couldn't tell you the things that I'd do to get a button that brings someone to change my baby's diaper again.

Mostly non-evil things. Mostly.

2. Get Ready for Some Weird Medical Stuff to Happen to You, Be Put in You, and Come Out of You

So, this point is less about what I did to make the process easier, and more a mass info-dump of all the weird shit that comes with childbirth, and a C-Section in particular, that I just straight up did not know was coming up. Some of it is pretty gross, and I am not afraid of getting overly graphic, but really, I know that's why a bunch of you read this blog anyways, so here we go.

Ewwwwwwwwwwww....tell me more.
Let me tell you about lochia. Lochia is Greek for "relating to childbirth." It is also real-life for tons and tons and tons of stuff coming out of your vagina in the days following having a baby. Now, normally, after having a kid, this lovely combination of blood, uterine lining, and bacteria just kind of sloughs right on out while you walk around. Being bed-ridden, I did not have gravity to help me out in this situation. Know what I did have? A whole bunch of nurses who came in a few times the first two days to massage my uterus. By massage, I mean four people stood over me and compressed my stomach for five minutes at a time, telling me to breath through the pain.

This is not fun. I do not recommend it if you are not looking for intense stabbing pain through your uterus.

Also, if this is done to you, for the love of your eyeballs, do not look down. It is sci-fi/horror movie weird the things that are coming out.

Just lean back and think of potoos, the most amazing bird on the planet.
As I told you guys in my previous post, I was preeclamptic by the end of the whole ordeal. In order to stop me from going eclamptic, which basically means seizures and other general awful-ness, I was put on magnesium sulfate. It is standard procedure to keep a patient on magnesium sulfate for at least 24 hours after birth, since the danger of seizures doesn't really wear off till then.

Magnesium sulfate sucks balls.

Huge, huge, giant balls.

Goddammit Japan. I was looking for pictures of giant beach balls, what is this?

Side effects of this drug include the following:

  • Muscle Weakness and Lack of Energy (Had this, but I was also on some pretty strong pain meds, so really, I had no chance of not having it,)
  • Blurry Vision (Had this, wheeeee.)
  • Dry Mouth (Oh, man, did I have this one.)
  • Headache (Nope, but again, pain meds.)
  • Nausea (Yeppers!)
  • Vomitting (Just a little-ers!)
  • Heat flashes (Had this one like crazy)
Oh, and you are not allowed to eat or drink anything while on the magnesium. Not sure why, a nurse told me something about it building up in urine and they wanted to monitor the amount of urine I was making or something, but honestly, I was still pretty foggy at this point. So, I was allowed about 5 oz of water every 4 hours. This is not a lot, especially when you have the driest mouth and throat ever. 

Of course, I also really like not having seizures, so I didn't complain too much about it. I was super duper happy to be off of it when I was allowed to, though. I got like a 2-liter cup worth of water, followed by apple juice, and it was amazing. Then I ordered some hospital food, which was super not awesome.

....that's okay, I think I'll just stick to the IV fluid, thanks.
Also, don't do any of these things: sneeze, take too deep of breath, cough, or laugh.

Those hurt bunches. You also risk accidentally popping out a staple. I did not do this, so I can't tell you how it feels, but my brain tells me that I probably would not have liked it.

These actions also make lochia come out of you. And that's gross.

3. Take It Easy, But Not Too Easy

One major thing I noted about the C-Section was how notably similar it felt to when I had my gall bladder out last October. That makes sense, as both procedures knocked me out and removed a big ole' bundle of something or the other from my abdomen area.

This should really serve as a warning for all my other organs. Listen up, spleen. You start acting up and giving me crap and I will not hesitate to rip you right on out.

That goes double for you, appendix.

So, I pretty much handled this recovery the same as I did that one, and I think it worked out well for me. Basically, you just gotta listen to your body and take baby steps in doing things. Take going to the bathroom. The first thing I focused on was sitting up on my own, without getting anyone to help me. Then, I tried to stand out of bed by myself. Then, walking alone. Breaking it down into smaller goals that I knew I could achieve without pushing my body too hard made it easier on me.

Walking itself was actually pretty sucky during recovery. First day, I didn't even try. My day was uterus massage, pass out, uterus massage, complain about magnesium, sleep, look at my baby, sleep, and that was about it. The second day, I might have forced myself a bit too much, but with the reward of getting the catheter out being dangled in front of me, I really made myself work on that lap around the ward. The next time I got up was much harder, so maybe I should have slowed down. But dammit, I had a dream!

The reality of not peeing into a bag, hallelujah.
Essentially, if you want to get better, you can't just lay in the hospital bed and wait forever. At the same time, you absolutely need to listen to your body when it tells you need to lay your butt back down and watch TV. It's a balance, and once you get it down, you start feeling better and can start becoming a moving, normal human.

Plus, the sooner I was up and about, the sooner I could take my baby home to meet the kitties.

Then proceed to take a million pictures of how cute they are together.
Fun fact: after having a C-Section, you get pretty constipated. The way to fix this is to walk and have gravity work on the poop for you. So, there's that information. Do with it what you will.

4. Lean on Your Partner

I am really lucky. I have a great partner that I could rely on, and rely on him I did. Grey did a lot during this whole process which really made it easier on me. I think it's important for me to highlight how he's been an integral part of this whole thing, since, like I said, dad's get kind of a bad rap in the parenting world.

Things like this INFURIATE me.
Having a kid is, in the best of circumstances, a team effort. I have huge, crazy respect for those of you out there who do this on your own. I don't know how I would've been able to keep from just ugly crying the whole five days that I spent in the hospital if Grey hadn't have been there, so anyone out there who didn't have that support, you are amazing and impressive.

That being said, I did have my baby-daddy (I am not up-to-date on the proper way of this lingo, is there a hyphen, should it be baby's daddy, I have no idea) there and he did a good job. He stayed in the hospital with me everyday (even though he didn't have paternity leave), took care of Ripley while I was passed out on numerous occasions, helped me go to the bathroom, did not make fun of my hospital gown being backless even once, cleaned up the bedroom from my water breaking, turned on Jerry Springer for me when I was feeling the worst from the magnesium, and any number of other things that I know I'm missing.

Oh, and he brought me chicken fingers and french fries. If that's not love, I don't know what is.

Steak N' Shake is better than a bouquet of roses. Stick it in a vase and hand me some ranch sauce, I'm in love.
All in all, the hospital was not a bad place to be. Everyone was really nice and treated me well, I could have all the juice I wanted, and people changed my baby's diaper if I asked (yes, I'm still dwelling on this). C-Sections are not fun by any means, but I don't think having it took away from my "birthing experience" or anything like that.

Once I got home, the healing process actually went quite quickly, and all I have left now is a sweet scar. Oh, and a pretty sweet baby.

Seriously, look how cute this thing is. Ugh, she's so cute, I just wanna yell at people.

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Giving Birth Is Really Hard

Contrary to what I was thinking a month ago, the universe is not so unkind as to allow me to stay being pregnant forever.

That's right! Ripley Ellen Maixner was born on August 19th, 2014. She came in at 7 pounds 9 ounces and 19 inches. And of course, since my pregnancy was so hard, my labor was perfect, easy, and over-all a magical experience.


HAHAHAHAH. Just kidding, it was awful, and I'm gonna tell you all about it, in super-duper, graphic detail.

This post will be splattered with pictures of baby kittens in order to ease you into the story of me splattering out a human being into the world.
So, let us rewind to midnight of Monday night (or Tuesday morning, whatever is technically right in this situation). My due date was the 15th, so I was 4 days late and on high alert for any sign of baby coming. The main thing I was really hoping for was actually my water breaking. I had been having Braxton-Hicks contractions for like a month already, which are similar to real contractions, in that they hurt and suck, but unlike real contractions in that they don't do anything to bring baby out and if you go to the OB while having them, they'll just send you home and you'll just be in unproductive pain inconsistently throughout the day and be super confused as to what a real contraction should even feel like. If my water broke, then I would for sure be having a baby that day, instead of being "allowed" to go back home.

On a somewhat unrelated note, I was also having some lovely, intense pelvic pain, which upon Googling, discovered was called "lightning crotch," which is hilarious.

Like this, but in your vagina.
Anyways, I was laying in bed, playing Restaurant Rush on the iPad and kicking a ton of food ass, when I felt what I could only call a definite weird feeling. I woke Grey up, thinking that this was maybe my water breaking, then proceeded to stand out of bed to go to the bathroom to investigate.

This was evidently the right move, because if I wasn't sure about my water breaking previous to this, my amniotic fluid left no room for doubt.

What my OB had told me to look for when my water broke was a slight trickle or a light burst. This is not what happened. I essentially released what felt like three gallons of liquid in about 0.5 seconds. It was the Niagara Falls of water breakage.

Like this, but out of my vagina.
Cue new pants, and off to the hospital we went.

Well, first we dropped by a gas station and picked up an iced tea and a back of Ranch Munchies, because once you get admitted to the hospital, you can no longer eat, and I wanted to go in with the taste of Doritos and French Onion Sun Chips lingering on my tongue.

An interesting note on water breakage; it doesn't really ever stop. You just keep leaking water intermittently all the way up to baby coming out. It's pretty gross. So make sure to bring a towel to the car and try really hard not to sneeze.

Sorry for that image. Here's a cat mid-sneeze.
We arrived at the hospital around 1 in the morning, me waddling to avoid creating slipping hazards and Grey riding on a crazy adrenaline train that had him way too giddy for the time of night it was. First thing I had to do was assure the horrified nurses that I was in fact not having a stroke, and that my face was weird looking because of Bell's Palsy. (Yes, that's still totally hanging around, stupid not-working facial nerve.) Then, I got taken to another room and set up on this giant machine that monitors the baby's heartbeat and my contractions.

Once I was slightly comfortable, so began the long parade of people who would be sticking things in me. This first one was checking to see if I was actually leaking amniotic fluid, and hadn't just peed myself, which evidently is a thing. I am not a medical expert, but I know where pee comes from, and was really rather sure that's not where I had been leaking from.

It turns out that I was right, so I was whisked away to the magical labor and delivery floor, which, contrary to many movies I have seen, was not filled with the mingled cries and screams of newly-born children, women giving birth, and dads whose feelings are being hurt by previously mentioned women telling them how this is all their fault.

This is a physical embodiment of what I was expecting to hear.

Instead, I got lead to a quiet room, given giant hospital underwear (which were actually insanely comfortable), and got hooked up to an IV that, unknown to me at the time, would be my buddy for the next four days.

"I make you pee every 15 minutes, but I also deliver you sweet, sweet pain meds."

As soon as I was settled, I got asked about my birth plan. The hospital had a bunch of options; birthing tubs, aromatherapy, a whole lot of other things that were a huge, fat NOPE for me. Don't get me wrong, I think it is great that those options are available for those who want it. I just did not want any of it. My birth plan was pretty much, "please remove baby and I would like to not feel much of it, thanks a bunch." This was actually really close to what I got, so I can't complain too much. I'll just complain enough to make this blog post as close to what you're used to from me as possible.

That being said, I was actually pretty curious about how far I could go without getting the epidural. I have a pretty decent pain tolerance, and seeing as Grey and I have almost completely decided on Ripley being our one and only child, this was going to be my one opportunity to sit it out and see how much I could take.

The answer to this is around 8 hours of contractions. After that, I decided that curiosity was stupid and I wanted to never feel what a contraction feels like ever again.

Oh, and for those of you who have never had contractions, if you are a lady, I'd say think of the worst period cramps you've ever had, then make those wrap around your entire lower torso, then make them hurt about twenty times as much. For guys, think of the cramps you can get when you need to poop. Then make that poop weigh 40 pounds and also you have not pooped for nine months.

Spiderman understands what I'm trying to say here.
Getting the epidural was not a super fun experience either, though. It is, to be clear, a giant needle inserting a catheter directly into your spinal fluid. And, you do not have an epidural prior to getting an epidural, so you do feel the epidural, even though you get a general anesthetic beforehand.

Luckily, my anesthesiologist had excellent bed-side manner and was hilarious, and Grey let me crush his hands while I crouched ass-up on the bed getting a tube shoved into my back. After the initial pain of the injection (which really isn't that bad, especially compared to the super fun time I was having prior), the nurse flipped a switch, and I was nearly instantly the happiest person ever. No more pain!

Negative side to this: you cannot feel anything below the waist anymore, which means you cannot feel the need to pee, and even if you did, would not be able to walk to the bathroom.

This equals catheter in the urethra.

So, between that, the epidural, the IV line, and the frequent cervix checks, let's just say that, when it comes to the birthing process, the penetration only just begins at conception.

I am so, so sorry for that joke.
Another good thing about the epidural is that Grey and I were finally able to fall asleep after being awake for the past 36 hours. We turned on an ocean documentary and just passed out. Between whale calls and a continuous line of high level pain meds, I had some of the best sleep I had had since getting pregnant. It was awesome.

Speaking of watching things on the TV, we were instructed to watch the newborn videos provided by the hospital, and they were unintentionally the most hilarious things. The shining star of these was the Shaken Baby Syndrome video. Now, shaking babies is a bad thing. Going to go out on a limb and say that it is really terrible to shake a baby and you should never do it, and you really shouldn't make a joke of actually hurting a child.

That being said, this video featured grown men with serious faces shaking very obviously fake baby dolls, and for some reason, it made us laugh really, really hard.

Like, seriously, how could you not at least laugh a little at this?  Like an itty, bitty bit?
But, really, don't shake a baby. That's not cool.

Anyhow, let's get back to me trying to have my own baby.

Despite the hours of labor and contractions, I just could not get to the point where my cervix was really dilating. The doctor even put me on pitocin, which is a medication designed specifically to speed up labor and get the cervix a-going. I got to 4 cm, and stayed there. It needs to go up to 10 cm to actually get the baby out, so I only really had enough room for one nurse to get on up there and tell us, "Oh, I can feel that your baby has a lot of hair!"

Grey and I's response to this statement.

I was being checked every half hour or so, and nothing was happening. As time went on, my blood pressure, which was already not so hot when I arrived at the hospital, steadily rose.

This is where the story gets a bit scary, but it turned out well in the end, so no need for anxiety, gentle readers.

About twenty hours after my water broke, I began projectile vomiting. I felt incredibly light-headed, and when the nurses checked, my blood pressure had risen to 165/110. For those who don't know blood pressures, this is super bad. Like heart attack bad. My temperature had also gotten to 104, which put not only me in danger, but Ripley too. All this, and my cervix was still only 4 cm. This meant immediate C-Section.

This calls for a whole bucket of kittens.
This brought in, and I'm not even kidding, about fifteen people into my room, all talking to me, and generally freaking me out. I got wheeled to an operating room, with Grey left in the room I had been in till I would be fully prepped and ready to go.

Except he never got to come in, because I actually had to get put under completely because the anesthesia ended up not working for me at all. I did not really become fully aware of this fact until the first slice.

Aaaaaaaaand now we'll be needing multiple buckets of kittens, thank you.
I do not remember anything else here, besides saying, "Owwww, I can feel that." I wish I could have had somewhat of a delivery story to share with you guys, but that option just wasn't available for me. I went from a low-risk pregnancy to a high so quickly, I didn't even realize what was happening until I was awake one hour later. For this reason, I was really happy that we chose to come to the hospital we did. It was an hour drive (maybe less, because we may or may not have sped the entire way), but it was much more prepared for what I eventually needed than the smaller hospital in the place we currently live. I had become heavily pre-enclampsic and had managed to get an infection due to my water breaking earlier that day. This really could've been bad news for me or the kid, but instead, I just have a wicked scar and a healthy baby.

Basically, hospitals are awesome, and I feel really lucky. I could've died, and instead I'm here, getting to horrify you with the tale of how my baby got ripped out of my abdomen.

Kinda what I get for naming her after the leading character from this movie.

So, I woke up, and the first person I saw was Grey. Just to prep you guys, I'll be devoting an entire post to how great this guy was through this experience and the following days of my recovery. Dads don't necessarily get the credit they deserve, and he deserves a lot. Being able to open my eyes and see him standing with me made me feel stronger.

Alright, done with that mushy stuff, feel free to barf now.

"Gross, Sylvia. I came here for snarky baby talk, not for you talking about love and shit."

About two minutes after I opened my eyes, I got to meet my baby, and that was pretty rad. It's not a feeling you can really describe, and I was also still pretty drugged up, so I just cried and held my baby.

The horrible pain from invasive abdominal surgery came about an hour later, but I think I'll make yet another blog post about C-Section recovery, and instead leave you with the first picture of what I worked so hard to make.

7 pound, 9 ounces and 19 inches of the greatest baby I've ever had cut out of me.
So yeah. Totally worth it all.

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