Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Love love love

Today was much better.

It wasn’t that Amelia slept anymore, because she slept less, especially last night. But a lot of my misery seems to have fallen away anyway. It may be a hormonal shift, because I see my face is breaking out a little. It may also be that now I’m so tired I just can’t muster the energy necessary to feel guilty and overwhelmed. I think giving myself an hour and a half break between feedings is helping, too.

At any rate, yesterday I was bawling as James Blunt sang “My Triangle” on Sesame Street, and today I didn’t shed one tear.

Today was also the first day I really felt like I’ve fallen in love with my daughter. With Henry that happened right away. I was beginning to worry that maybe I’d never feel the same way about my little girl.

But then we were lying down in my bed, and she was reaching out at me with her pointy little infant fingers, and there it was. That crazy, all-encompassing baby love.

Also she makes this adorable face when she’s dozing while I’m burping her. She has her jaw agape and her eyes closed, and every minute or so she’ll bust out with a huge, open-mouthed smile. Sometimes she wrinkles her nose to go with it.

I still can’t fathom how this will work once Simon goes back to work, or, worse, once Simon starts traveling again in two weeks. But for now I am taking it one day at a time.

She’ll have to sleep someday.

Oh, one other thing. I did a weight check at the lactation consultant's today. Amelia is supposed to be gaining an ounce a day if she’s getting enough to eat. Last Friday she weighed 7 lbs. 8 oz. Today she weighed 8 lbs. That’s two ounces a day!

This girl is a champion eater.

She can’t sleep to save her life, but she has the eating thing down.


I'm watching Hillary speak at the DNC right now. I can't tell you how proud I am of how far she came. I mean, go Barak and all, but I will weep with joy the day a woman finally becomes president.

On a semi-related note, I am going to kick the next person who says something about me having "someone to go shopping with." Is that still all anyone can imagine doing with a girl? I hope Amelia is someone I can talk politics and baseball with.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The world's worst mother of two

Holy holy holy crap. She doesn't sleep.

Well, OK, Amelia sleeps great between about midnight and 7 am. She just doesn't sleep any other time, unless I'm lying down with her, which just isn't going to work with Henry.

Our days are spent doing a lot of jiggling, a lot of shushing, and so much breastfeeding that my nipples may pop off the next time she eats.

I am exhausted. Not just sleep deprived, but emotionally exhausted. She needs me constantly. Henry wants me constantly. I spend a quarter of the day sobbing. I feel like I am failing both of my children. And my husband, too, because I yell at him all the time. I think I'm bitter that his life goes back to normal next week, whereas mine never will.

I need a psychological epidural to get through the next three months. That, I have determined, is pretty much when I stopped feeling completely out of control with Henry.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Amelia Catherine

Yeah, that was labor.

I finally took it seriously when I got up to get a drink of water and literally fell to my knees on the kitchen floor. I started screaming for Simon. After about three minutes he called from the bedroom, "What?"

"What do you think?" I yelled back.

The contractions were still sort of irregular, but the on-call doctor told us to come on in and he'd check me out. Simon roused our next-door neighbors, who were kind enough to come over at 3:30 am to sit for Henry.

The contractions were so painful by the time we got to the hospital they had to send a wheelchair out for me, I think because it looked bad to have someone screaming on their front walkway. Once I got to triage I was already 5 cm, which surprised me because with Henry I was only 3 cm after 9 hours of labor and 4 hours of pitossin.

I asked for the epidural, because, well, it hurt, but it took them forever to get the required 1 liter of fluid into me, so by the time the anesthesiologist came along I was 8 cm. I got the epi anyway, which was silly. I've been beating myself up about that ever since, but, God, it felt nice at the time.

My OB called to say she was on her way, and that Dr. E, the on-call doctor, could break my water if he wanted. So he did, with this long white hook, and it exploded out so fast it got all over my feet. There was meconium, or baby poop for those not familiar with birth lingo, which can be bad, but I wasn't worried.

My OB arrived at 6 a.m. We chatted about her kids for a while. Then I said, "I think I feel some pressure," and sure enough I was 10 cm. Dr. S said I could start to push, and I pushed once and she crowned, which set off a whole flurry of activity involving disassembling the bed/delivery table and Dr. S stepping into some sort of official baby-catching robe.

I pushed again and her head was there, which I could feel just fine, thank you, epidural or no. Dr. S said I didn't tear at all at her head, but then baby got me with her elbow as her shoulders emerged, and so there were some stitches after all.

I pushed for less than 10 minutes, and at 6:43 a.m. there she was covered in poop and a girl. When they said it was a girl I sat up to check for myself. Then I cried. I had no idea I wanted a girl so much.

The meconium turned out to be nothing bad. They spent maybe two minutes suctioning her mouth and wiping her off, and then she was with me, and five minutes after that she bobbed her pink little head over to my breast and started nursing like a pro.

So I was in labor less than 6 hours. Not bad. I so didn't need the epidural.

So now we're home and adjusting. Henry is a champ. He loves the baby, kisses the baby, cuddles the baby, and then quickly loses interest because she doesn't do anything. Visitors have been very gracious about bringing gifts for him, too, so the whole ordeal has been kind of an extended birthday.

Amelia is beautiful and oddly advanced in her motor skills. Yesterday I put her on her tummy and she immediately turned her head to the other side. Then today I laid her on her back on the couch and she flipped over onto her tummy. I don't know what that's about.

She is also very, very hungry. We had to supplement with some formula before my milk came in because she was so damn angry and because poor Henry ended up dehydrated from lack of breastmilk and then never nursed again.

Oh, and she doesn't like to sleep on her back. Or in her bed. Or anywhere that is not my boob, which is sweet, but really not feasible. As a result, she ends up staying awake for four to six hours at a time, then getting frantic, then crashing for five hours.

Mostly it's great. She's great. It's so different from Henry. He seemed so fragile to me from the moment I saw his funny-looking face. Amelia seemed tough and confident from the get-go, even though she was smeared in baby poop.

I'm functioning OK now, although I have had moments of sobbing, wondering why I chose to go through newborn-hood again, mourning the days when it was just Henry and me, kicking around town, sleeping through the night. But then those moments pass, and I love her and Henry and Simon and our whole little family.

I have no idea how any of this will work once Simon goes back to work, but for now we are doing OK.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Labor. Maybe.

This better be the start of real labor, because it hurts like hell, and it's robbing me of desperately needed sleep.

I'm only about an hour and a half into it, and already I am thinking epidural. It's just past 2:30 a.m. I should be resting, I know. But I'm getting these 40-second contractions every 5 minutes or so that feel like my lower abdomen is about to rip apart. And as much as they hurt sitting in this chair, they hurt twice as bad when I'm lying down.

I'm timing them myself, because Simon's still asleep. I want to make sure this is the real deal before I drag him out of bed. Last night I was up for two hours with contractions--less intense, to be sure--and then they stopped dead, leaving me very, very tired and still without a baby.

Here's the thing: I don't really know when to go to the hospital. With Henry, my water broke, so we just got to go when we wanted. Now I am torn between not wanting to be sent home and really not wanting to give birth in the car.

What is it about the middle of the night that causes contractions? I was really hoping to get a good night's sleep before giving birth.

Meanwhile, my last contraction was shorter and further apart than the last ones. I am half hoping they'll just go away so I can crawl back into bed.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

My due date...and the sound of crickets chirping

My doctor says I am dilated 2 cm. Last week I was at 1 cm. At this rate I should deliver some time in October. Kidding! But I am caught in that surreal place of knowing I'll have a baby in a week, two at the most, and still feeling really surprised when I realize there will actually be a new baby in a week, two at the most.

Dr. S stripped my membranes this morning, which, for those who've never had the pleasure, involves her sticking her finger up my cervix and poking at the baby to make it come out. It's not extremely painful, but it's not in any way pleasant. The baby wriggled around a little like it was annoyed, but so far not annoyed enough to vacate the premises.

I'm calling my acupuncturist tomorrow.

Thank you to my friends who commented on my last miserable entry to let me know I'm not a complete monster for having some trepidation about the new baby. I notice I added nothing last week about how excited I am to meet and hold this new little person, too. I am, I just forget that sometimes.

And even if I weren't excited, my increasing discomfort is quickly overriding my doubts. Seriously--bring on the wailing infant. It's not like I'm sleeping anyway.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Mixed feelings

I am four days away from my due date, and feeling pretty schizophrenic about the whole idea of a new baby.

"Any day now!" people say.

I always respond, "The sooner the better!" This is sometimes received with a knowing little laugh, particularly from women who have been through the baby waiting game.

But really that's only sort of true.

Yes, there is the part of me that is dying for this baby to arrive. I am tired of being fat, tired of not being able to sleep on my back, tired of my parents and my in-laws and even my husband, who should know better, and who now probably does after I screamed at him the other night, asking, "Anything yet?" Like I might fail to mention that I'm in the throes of active labor. Idiots.

Labor also offers a bit of excitement in what otherwise is a deathly boring, repetitive life.

But there is also small, still pool of dread in my chest about the arrival of this baby. A fear that there's not enough in me for another child, another helpless, screeching, pooping human with an endless need for me. Honestly, I am so tired lately I can barely get through the day being Henry's mom, and Henry is practically emancipated compared to an infant.

How can I possibly love this baby enough? How can I possibly love it as much as I love Henry? How can I possibly not resent this child for stripping me of my already meager writing, reading, and sleeping time?

These are not the thoughts I share with most other people I know. I think the accepted feeling toward an impending birth is joy. Saying I am not completely thrilled about the arrival of my new baby would be equivalent to saying I was planning on leasing it to a Satanic cult for extra income.

No wonder this baby won't come out.

On another equally dark subject, I just got back from dinner at my mom's, so I am glowing with that special blend of anger and self-loathing that I get from spending time with her.

During dinner, I asked her not to interrupt her own meal to go play with him, because it's very important to me that he learn that there is a dinner time, and that although he doesn't have to sit at the table the whole time, other people will finish their dinner before they join him. That's reasonable, right? It's the radical notion that the world does not revolve around his every whim.

My mom, however, wants to give up her plate every time we have dinner together, because she can't stand to see him denied anything. So she looked peeved, and then said, "He just doesn't understand because usually when he's here I play with him the entire time."

I said, "I know. I can tell when he comes back home and can't tolerate playing by himself for five minutes."

OK, maybe that was snippy. But it's true. Henry is an angry little tyrant after spending extended amounts of time with his grandma.

But the comment obviously deeply hurt my mom, who hung her head as if to cry, and then didn't talk at all for another 10 minutes. Because, of course, we don't actually discuss things in our family. She prefers to silently communicate her victimhood, while I usually choose to smile, then go home and cut myself.

Again, no wonder this baby won't come out.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Henry has started calling me "Meg."

It happened in the last few days. He said something like, "Let's go, Meg," and I thought I must have misheard him.

"Did you just call me Meg?" I asked.

"Yeah, Meg," he replied happily.

I'm still "Mommy" when he's wailing for me in the mornings, but "Meg" when we're in casual conversation. I feel like maybe he'll start taking a morning coffee soon.

Meanwhile, D-day is 9 days away. I forgot how much I hate this end part. Maybe tonight! Maybe next week! Maybe two weeks from now! In the meantime, just go about your business as though life as you know it isn't about to end!

I did get my toenails and eyebrows done today. Those were the last things I really felt I had to accomplish before childbirth. I'm not really that vain, but when I'm sweating, grunting, and naked in front of a roomful of hospital people I've never met before, at least I'll feel, you know, groomed or something. Some shred of dignity while I'm pooping on the delivery table.