Six Things I’d Do Differently During Labor and Delivery (and some things I wouldn’t)

On this day last year, I was induced to give birth to my first child.

I can’t believe it’s been an entire year…it went by super fast.  As I usually do, I’ve been looking back on my experiences a year ago and have been having all the feelings.

I plan to eventually have another kid, and that makes me think of what I might like to do differently with the second labor and delivery.  And even as I write that previous sentence, I realize how pointless it would be to count on my wishes coming true, because for all I know, my second labor will be totally different because that’s how the universe works.

But, for the hell of it, here are some things I’d do differently, followed by some things I did that were totally right for me.

Things I’d do differently whilst expelling a baby from my body

  1. Advocate more fiercely against being induced

We have Kaiser Oregon insurance, and for some reason they have a guideline to push induction at 41 weeks.  I know plenty of other midwives/doctors/facilities who won’t induce until 42 weeks.  Either way, I don’t like feeling pushed to force my body into doing something it clearly isn’t ready to do.  Next time, I plan to bring this topic up sooner with my midwife and advocate for as natural a process as possible.

2. Ask my midwife when she plans to go on a frickin vacation

My midwife went on vacation the very week I was due, and then I had to have the induction discussion with a midwife I had just met.  It sucked.  Medical people – please tell your pregnant patients well in advance when you’re planning a vacation.  Grr.

3. Bring (even more of) my own crap to the hospital for delivery

Our Kaiser hospital claimed to be a “breastfeeding friendly” hospital.  What that really translated to was, “We won’t provide you with simple things like breastfeeding pillows, and the things we do provide, we’ll judge you for not bringing your own.”

I’ll start with the breastfeeding pillow.  I had one, but I left it at home.  My hospital only provided those thin, plasticy hospital pillows, and I had to stack 6-8 pillows around me in order to get my kid in the right position to even try latching.  It was awkward and very inconvenient.

Since my boy had trouble latching, they asked if I had brought my breast pump.  I said no.  They gave me one, but it came with a glare.

Next time, I am bringing all my own stuff.

4. Do everything I can to minimize interruptions and distractions

Nurses and doctors and photographers and clowns and dancing bears were coming in and out of my room juuust about every 30 minutes.  Are you frickin kidding me?!  There is no way anyone can get any sleep or try to breastfeed with that parade of crazy.  This hospital claimed to offer “collaborative care” for my baby and me, meaning that the baby’s doctor and my doctor would work together as a team.  Well you know what?  That never happened.  It didn’t help to have my doc come and take my vitals and then my baby’s doc came to take his vitals 20 minutes later.  After this happened to us many times, my husband and I finally had to actually yell at a nurse to get her to leave.  And my husband doesn’t yell.  We were pissed.

Next time, we plan to tell everyone straight up to take our vitals at the same time and to minimize visits.  And we’re bringing paper and tape and a pen to make signs to put on our door telling the photographer to stay the hell away.  And you too, dancing bears!

5.  Advocate to switch nurses if one isn’t meeting our needs

There was one nurse who came in juuuust after I was finished trying to get my boy to latch.  And by try, I mean that we spent 20 minutes wrestling with my boob and his mouth and he was having none of it.  I put him down so we could both sleep and we’d try again later.  Enter nurse, and she insisted that it was time to nurse.  I told her we’d just tried.  Like, just.  She didn’t believe me.  She brought my baby to me and insisted that she watch while I try to get him to latch in front of her.

Looking back, I should have asked for a new nurse right then.  If I have to do it over again, I hope I have the ladyballs to do it (ask for a new nurse), because she made me feel like crap and she sucks at her job.  At the very least, I’d have my husband go to the nurses’ desk and request a new nurse.  Passive-aggressive advocating is better than no advocating at all.

6. Advocate for leaving the hospital sooner

My boy was having trouble breastfeeding, and so it took us a bit longer to figure out a feeding plan that would work for us.  I am thankful that things didn’t turn out worse, because had my boy lost any more weight they would have discharged me and kept him and I would have been very worried and peeved.  Buuut, I still feel like they took their sweet time getting us ready to go.

We were in the hospital postpartum for 2 days, but when you tack that onto being induced and laboring in the hospital for 2 full days prior, it felt like a looong time.  We were tired and cranky.  I wanted my own bed and my own shower.  Next time, I am going to be packing my bags much sooner as long as we’re all good and healthy.

———————–

Now, I know I’ve just done a bit of bitching, but overall I am satisfied and have made peace with my experience.

Hell, there were even some things we did really well that I’ll totally do again:

  1. Brought my own pillow

Cannot emphasize this enough.

2. Brought my own snacks

Because you can’t always (or ever) count on hospital food.

3. Brought my own DVDs

Our hospital room had a DVD player, and I think watching Ryan Gosling helped to move labor along.  Seriously.

4. Made a labor playlist

Music really helps to calm me down, and although it didn’t magically end up taking the pain away, it definitely helped.  Perhaps Led Zeppelin will work for you, too.

5. Yell at people who aren’t meeting my needs

This includes husbands.  Sometimes, you just need to take your pain out on others.  It’s not healthy, but it’s like giving birth: you don’t always get what you want.

A Day Not Entirely My Own

Today is my birthday, and this birthday feels different.

I have realized how giving birth has changed my entire perspective on birthdays in general, but especially mine.

Up until now, I’ve always thought of my birthday as belonging to me; it’s my day.  The anniversary of the day I was brought into the world.

But really, the passive voice of that last sentence is misplaced.  In actuality, my birthday is the anniversary of the day my mom brought me into the world.  My mom worried and labored and felt pain and sweated and cried and felt crazy beautiful joy and relief.

I guess I couldn’t really get it until I had done the same thing for someone else.

My mom was in labor with me for 24 hours.  My dad drove her to the hospital, which was about 30 minutes away from home.  My mom remembers being pissed that my dad’s breath smelled like potato chips as he led her in the Lamaze breathing in which they had taken classes.  My parents talked about a very insensitive nurse who couldn’t get some medical reading because my mom was writhing in pain during a contraction.  I would like to be able to track down that nurse and punch her in the ear, exactly 32 years late.

At some point during the labor, my mom announced she wanted an epidural.  Apparently, someone informed my dad that it was too late in the process for an epidural to do any good, and so my dad ended up lovingly lying to my mom, telling her the pain meds would be coming any minute now.  I can only imagine how much of a champ my mom was for getting through the remainder of the laboring process completely unmedicated.

And so I came into the world at about 2:15am on February 10th, a Thursday, head first but facing up.  At that time, few parents knew the sex of their baby before birth, and my parents were no exception.  My mom wrote in my baby book that I was alert and had strawberry blonde hair, which are the exact same phrases I ended up writing in my son’s baby book.

So today, I celebrate my first birthday as a mom even though it’s not entirely my day.  And in six months, my son will get to smash his face into sweet, damp cake for the first time, but it won’t really be his day.  Not all the way, at least.  That will be a day when I’ll be telling anyone who will listen how I brought this perfect creature into the world.

…maybe that will be a day when I should make myself my own smash cake.

And by smash cake I mean celebratory booze.

No News Means No Baby

I basically wrote this post in my head last night while laying wide awake in bed because I took a nap way too late in the day because we got home lateish from our first trip to Home Depot as HOMEOWNERS.

It was very exciting, but so physically taxing for this 40 week + 5 pregnant lady that I sweetly had to ask some employees if there was a place where I could sit a spell.  The dude jumped into action and was like, “You stay right there” and he went and got me a chair and had me sit right where I was in the middle of the flooring aisle.  He then asked if I was ok (I think he was asking if I was going to pass out or give birth or both), and I assured him that all I needed was to sit until my husband was done shopping.

He left and then came back with a bottle of water for me.  How freaking kind is that!  And not only that, but he came back several times to check on me, and other employees asked if I was ok as well.  Never have I encountered such nice, helpful folks.  Really renewed my faith in the goodness of this world into which I am about to bring a screaming, pooping lovebucket.

And that brings me to the entire point of this post:

Don’t ever ask a pregnant lady if she’s had the baby yet.

Ever.

Like, not even if you word it differently.  Or if she’s your best friend.  Or your best friend’s Home Depot coworker.

You wanna know why?

Because, I’d think it’s safe to say, most 40-ish-week pregnant ladies would love nothing more than to just have the thing already, get to meet their screaming pile of joy, and get to reclaiming their bodies a bit.  We’re exhausted.  We’re cranky.  We’re feeling heavy as hippos.  We’re fucking done-zo.

And it’s because of that, that pregnant ladies are usually ready to squeal that they’ve given birth by SHOUTING IT FROM THE FRICKIN ROOFTOPS.  You’d have to be absolutely deaf not to hear.  Trust me.  They’ll be inundating your Facebook feed with pictures, videos, and stool samples demanding that you agree that this baby and its poop is the cutest poopy baby who ever lived, ever.

You won’t have to ask.

And if there’s no news – THERE’S NO BABY.  Say it with me.

Either that, or for some reason momma hasn’t told you because she’s simply not ready to.  Maybe you’re not very close to her, and not all of her friends and family have gotten to see the baby yet.  Maybe there were medical complications that momma is still dealing with and doesn’t feel like sharing.

At any rate – if the momma wanted you (yes, you) to know that baby was born, YOU’D KNOW.

You won’t have to ask.

And honestly, do you really want to ask knowing that the answer is most likely a thinly veiled, “Fuck off, the baby ain’t here yet and I hate my body and my life and omg, will this mucous ever stop leaking out of me?!

No.  Of course not.  Because everyone would like to avoid talking about excess mucous.

And don’t say that you’re on pins and needles waiting for this baby as a means of justifying your need to ask.  You know who’s even more anxious about it than you are?  You know who wins this one?  You know who doesn’t give a fuck how you feel about the baby not being here yet?

You guessed it – the momma.

So please, don’t ask.  Be patient.  The momma can’t plan for this, and so neither can you.

Now get this baby out of me so I can start drunkenly Facebook feed-bombing about how my baby is cuter than your baby.

Today is my due date

I’m due today.

Holy crap

Well, actually, you’re due.

To come out.

Little Duck

We really can’t wait to meet you

Even though I feel like I know you already

You dance and hiccup and kick

And squirm your way up under my ribcage on the right side

Ouch.

You test the boundaries of your squishy little world

I can’t wait to show you my world

Little Duck

 

We’ve had our bags packed for weeks

We pretend to be ready, but we’re really not

Don’t worry, though, cuz we can’t wait to love you

and squish you

and pinch your little fat rolls

and sing you to sleep.

 

I don’t know what’s going to happen

And that’s pretty scary for me

So if you know, please tell me

Otherwise, we’ll just figure things out

together

as we go.

 

So get here soon

If you only knew the joy that is waiting for you

But then again, maybe you do

because how could you not?

So what are you waiting for

Little Duck

 

Come on out

So I can love you more

Holy crap, holy crap, holy crap

A Look Inside My Pregnant Head – A stream of consciousness

Hey everyone amazing news we actually closed on a house last week can you believe it we’re HOMEOWNERS

and not a moment too soon.

cuz immediately following getting our keys we went to the Oregon coast for the weekend to celebrate our first wedding anniversary and I can’t believe this year has gone by so freaking fast omg but the decision to go to the beach/coast was an amazing one because I am DYING IN THIS HEAT and we have to wait before we can get help to move into the new AIR CONDITIONED house which means this baby had better STAY PUT so I can labor in the house not only does it have AC, but it also has a soaking tub and a shower WITH SEATS it’s like it was made for pregnant ladies

fast forward to now where we’re moving small things everyday and waiting for the big move on Saturday and omg it’s HOT and I feel crappy that I can’t physically help pack and I have zero energy and maybe I’ll just put a few books in this box but oh I can’t do too much because what if I trigger the labor to start NOT BEFORE SATURDAY

maybe I should sit down I AM NOT MOODY SHUT THE FUCK UP

my hips hurt and I am hungry again

I am so BLESSED and I can’t believe everything is falling into place right in the nick of time and I am SO EXCITED and I still can’t believe that I am going to have a little human soon and a house this kinda makes me a real grown up now and oh crap now I’m crying

again.

that seems to happen more often these days

my feet are swelling up again maybe I should sit down and eat something WHERE IS MY FAVORITE MUG is it packed already WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO MY LIFE

no labor til after Saturday Little Duck you stay in there til after Saturday

time for a nap.

The Opposite of Awesome

I was weighing myself because I’m pregnant and it was Monday.  I lead a very exciting life, I know.

Brian: “I wonder when you’ll weigh as much as me?”

Me: “What?  I’ll never weigh as much as you.  You’re always going to be fatter than me.  Always.”

Brian:  “Oh yeah?  Let’s see then.”

I write down my new weight for this week.  On average, I’ve been gaining about 2 pounds a week for a while now.

Brian then weighed himself.  To my horror, it was only about 3 pounds heavier.

Me:  “I don’t think so!  You didn’t eat enough for dinner!  Here, have this muffin.”

Brian:  “See?!  Only about another week and a half and we’ll be the same!”

Me:  “Hang on, let me pee and I’ll weigh myself again.  I probably have a few pounds of pee in here.”

Brian:  “But now you know how I feel!”

Me: “Please, Brian, tell me how it feels to be you.  Because this is so the same.’

Brian: “…it feels awesome?”

Me:  “Yes.  My swollen hands and feet feel awesome.  So does your baby’s head pushing on my cervix.  Do you know what that feels like?”

Brian:  “…the opposite of awesome?”

Me: “Now get in the kitchen and go eat some muffins.  But make sure to save me one.  Or ten.”

Fast forward to last night – another Monday night weigh-in.

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s happened.  Brian and I now weigh the same.

He did an odd sort of happy dance.  I got into a sumo stance, pushed him over, and sat on him.

It felt awesome.

Hey, pregnant girl…

Hey y’alls.

In case you haven’t heard, my online shirtless husband Ryan Gosling is now my online shirtless babydaddy, complete with memes.  (Reposted from Today.com)

 

 

 

For the record, nothing is sexier than reminding me to take my folic acid.

If you’re Ryan Gosling, that is.

Riding the Moody Train

I think it’s time to admit it – this pregnancy has turned a corner.

I’ve been getting a little moody.

Usually, I love the heat.  I am a California girl, and I had been living in the central valley for the past 5 years.  I’m now realizing that what made living there in the heat even remotely bearable was that AC was pretty standard in both public and private dwellings – overused, even –  and because I wasn’t pregnant with an exothermic squid.

Recently, it got warmer here in Oregon than it was in my homeland, which doesn’t happen very often.  And we don’t have AC in our box-filled second story oven.  Result: I get a little moody, drenched in sweat, and exhausted from doing exactly nothing.

I’m starting to not see the point of clothing.  Or having to get up to use the bathroom.

The heat has also been causing my normally dainty hands and feet to swell like Johnsonville brats in a beer bath on the 4th of July.  In Hell.

I’ve taken to soaking my feet in ice water while doing nothing.  It helps on days that end in killmenow.

Speaking of beer baths, there’s this random cooking show that comes on TV in the middle of my day spent waiting for death, and today they were concocting delicious-looking cocktails paired with mouthwatering, listeria-laden deli meats with a side of E Coli-infused hollandiase sauce.  I wanted to punch someone and then put the entire contents of the show in my mouth.

In an attempt to stay alive, I’ve been trying to waddle down to our complex’s pool when it’s empty or nearly empty, which is never.  The water isn’t heated, but it’s still not cold enough.  Maybe next time I’ll bring down a tray of ice cubes to add to the mix.

I must say, being submerged in water feels pretty damn nice.  It actually reminds me of what it must feel like to be in the womb – all safe and suspended and weightless.  You’d better count your blessings while you can, Little Duck.  Cuz if being expelled from my uterus is anything like me having to heave my now heavier-than-ever body out of the pool, you’re in for some hard times, my friend.

I vote for staying in that pool until my due date.  It would definitely solve a number of my current issues.

Trying to sleep has been fun.  If by fun, you mean setting my feet on fire, mashing my calves in an electric mixer, and pounding a mallet on my bladder.  Either that, or by shoving bamboo under my rapidly-growing fingernails.  Either one.  You know.

The most interesting part is trying to turn my Moby Dick body over in the middle of the night without a) waking my husband, and b) falling out of bed.  The process is quite simple, actually.  Step one: wake up for the 1000th time to a full bladder, which isn’t really full, it’s just being squeezed down to the size of a raisin.  Shove my arms against the mattress in an attempt to right myself.  Try again if needed.  And a third time.  Waddle to bathroom, trip over the cat in the dark.  Pee – in the toilet this time.  Waddle back.  Gently lower myself into bed onto the side of my body whose hip burns the least.  Decide this side still hurts like a motherfucker (this word has gained new meaning since getting pregnant, btw), and begin the classic 8-point turn while holding up my belly with one hand, lest its dense weight slosh over before the rest of my abdomen, causing severe pain and discomfort.  Lastly, gently punch unborn baby back into a reasonable position that chokes my liver, rather than my bladder.  It’s not like I am using it, anyway (the liver, I mean).

So yeah, I’ve been having to waddle for quite some time.  I get it now, you guys.  My muscles are being stretched in ways they should only be stretched by Gomez Addams during foreplay.

And I know pregnant ladies complain about not being able to see their feet, and I suppose I get that.  My abdomen has never stuck out quite this far before, even after eating a few burritos.  But you know what concerns me more?  I haven’t been able to establish a visual with my ladygarden for far too long.  I mean, I can sense her, I know she’s there – but how is she?  I can’t tend to her anymore (because god knows I am not even going to attempt to approach with anything sharp with the aid of a mirror – everything being backwards and objects larger than they appear…), and that makes me sad.  She’s about to go through her biggest performance to date and she won’t even look her best (leading up to it, anyway).

I’m sorry, my dear friend.  You’re on your own now.  I’ll see you on the other side.

Psychos, I’ll leave you with a memento of happier times before The Fall.  This was taken several weeks ago when my list of ailments was considerably shorter.

AAF_0250

 

A Crazy Good Beverage Container

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Lookit what I got for writing a post on Crazy Good Parent!  Thanks, Janice!

That’s right, now I can consume schnapps-flavored coffee during 2am feedings and no one will be the wiser.  No one.

If you missed my guest post, be sure to check it out.

And now we’ll return to our regularly scheduled pregnancy nap.