Thursday, June 28, 2012

Birth Story Part Deux, or Am I Going to Have to Catch This Baby Myself?

I’d been nervous it would take an eternity for the anaesthisologist to come to me but as luck would have it, it was only a few minutes. This was very good news because by this point, it was apparent I was having the dreaded back labor.  Its what I had with Primo and my sister and David needed to press on my back with ever iota of strength they had for hours on end. David even had the gall to complain that his hands were hurting him.  It felt just the same this time around, so I told David to ready his hands.

He looked at me like, “Really? I mean, I did it with number one but you need me this time too? Don’t you have this routine down by now? Can’t you just take care of it yourself, like a pioneer woman?”

When you are married nearly 10 years, all this is communicated in a look.

I told him he had to press, hard, now, on my lower back.

Here?” he asked, pressing in entirely the wrong spot.

“No!” I gasped. I wanted to point him in the right direction but the fucking contraction hurt so much I had to concentrate on just getting through it and talking was not really an option.

When it was over, I showed him where to press, and told him, please for the love of God, get it right next time. But within a minute or two, when the next contraction rolled around, he had already forgot the spot.

“Here?” asked David.

“No!” I gasped.

Repeat every two to three minutes.

When the anaesthisologist arrived, David was as relieved as I was. I didn’t even flinch when the Drug Man loaded up his big needle. I was too busy salivating. Within five minutes, I was stuck and the morphine goodness was infiltrating my blood flow. I don’t remember it working so quickly last time. Maybe they’ve improved the epidural in the past five years. All I can say is, I give it two thumbs way, way up.

Once I was juiced up, at about 6pm, Dr. Malley came in and broke my water. There wasn’t much of it and she told me that’s because my fluid was already low. On account of my AMA.

“This should help make your labor progress,” she told me, “So if you feel like the epidural is wearing off, let me know, because that may mean it’s almost time to push.”

Now that I had a constant drip of drugs directly into my spinal cord, I felt great so settled in for a long night of comfortable laboring. I didn’t know how much I was dilated but it couldn’t be more than 4 or 5 and that had taken a while, so I figured I wouldn’t be pushing til midnight. David and I chatted. I called the kids, who were at my grandmother’s house.

“Did the baby come out yet?” asked Sec.

“Not yet, but soon,” I promised.

“Call us when she comes out!” yelled Primo, “In fact, call us WHEN she is coming out so we can hear her first cry.”

“Ummm . . . I’ll be in touch,” I assured him.

Within an hour of getting the epidural, it started to feel like it was wearing off.  Now, I’ve had the epidural twice before and it NEVER wore off. Moreover, I never had to push the little button they give you so you can give yourself extra drugs. You should know that I prided myself on this, by the way. I’m such a wimp that I would’ve gotten the epidural at 1 cm if they’d let me yet I still prided myself on being so disciplined and moderate in my administration of pain relief.

Now, for some reason though, it was hurting again, and so soon after the drugs had started. That was weird. There was also the fact that I was feeling a lot of pressure in my pelvic floor, the kind of pressure one feels before one pushes a human out of your vagina. So I buzzed Dr. Malley.

“What’s up?” she said, popping her head in the door.

“I feel like the epidural’s wearing off and I feel pressure,” I said, “Can you check me?”

She put on some rubber gloves and did.

“No change,” she said, “You’re still at about six centimeters.”

“That is impossible,” I said, “I feel a lot of pressure.”

“Well the baby is very low,” she said, “Very low. But you’re still at only six centimeters and you can’t push until you’re totally dilated.”

“Ok,” I said. I was not convinced.

“Give yourself more epidural if it hurts,” she said on her way out the door.

I pressed the epidural button but it didn’t seem to do much good. And then, too, the pressure just kept increasing exponentially every minute. In less than ten minutes, I was feeling like I had to push. 

“Get the doctor back,” I told David, “I have to push.”

 “She was JUST here and you were only six centimeters dilated,” he said.  Great support network. Ideal patient advocate.

“I don’t care,” I said, “I’m buzzing.”

Dr. Malley came in, looking visibly perturbed.

“Yes?” she said, with a tight smile.

“I really feel a LOT of pressure,” I told her, “I really feel like it’s time to push.”

“Well, let’s check,” she said and then, a minute later, with what sounded like great satisfaction, she said: “Yeah, you’re still at about six centimeters.”

“Are you kidding me?” I asked, feeling a bit deranged, “I am telling you -- I feel tremendous pressure. I feel like the baby is moving down my pelvis. I feel like I have to push.”

“Well she is really, really low. I can almost feel her head. But you’re still not dilated yet. So we have to wait.”

“Ok,” I said uneasily. There was really nothing else to say. Plus, another contraction was coming. Plus, the doctor was halfway out the door.

No sooner had she left then the pressure doubled and became constant. In a few minutes, I was moaning, not from pain but from the exertion of not pushing. My legs were clamped together. I was literally keeping the baby inside by pressing my legs closed.


David looked disturbed but made no attempt to get the doctor.

“Get her,” I gasped, “I have to push.”

“Nicole, she was just here, less then ten minutes ago.”

“What do you want me to tell you? The baby is coming out, OK? SHE IS COMING OUT! GET THE DOCTOR!”

The nurse came in then, probably hearing the commotion.

“I have to push,” I panted.

In a minute Dr. Malley was at the door again.

“Is this for real this time?” she said.

I am not kidding. That’s verbatim.

“OOOOOOOOOOOH,” I moaned in reply.

She pried my legs open and then, she didn’t need to check how dilated I was because she could SEE the baby’s head. My baby was actually crowning. David confirms this. It freaked him the fuck out.

“Yep, the baby is right here,” she said, “So push.”

“Ok,” I said, “Right now?”

“Yes, now. Go!”

And I did. I pushed. You know, a tentative push. A starter one.

“Push Nicole!” Dr. Malley barked.

“OK,” I said, and I pushed harder.

“Nicole, you need to push this baby out,” she said, raising her voice, “Now! Now!”

It’s not that I wasn’t pushing. I was, with what at any other time in one’s life would be considered a lot of energy and effort, at about 100%. It’s just that in childbirth you have to push with a supernatural, no-holds-barred, 1000% percent, so that your arteries come close to popping and you nearly stop your heart from the exertion. I’d forgotten this. Also, it’s not something you know how to do instantly. And in my past two childbirths, when the doc on call had deigned to hang around for more then 2 minutes at a time, I’d pushed a few times before the baby’s head crowned, so I had a chance to get the hang of pushing. I’d had some leeway, did a few practice pushes, got some feedback from the doc (“Harder! Harder!”) and then gradually upped my game til I was doing it right. Now there was no time. The baby’s head was literally almost out and I had to go from 0 to 100 instantly. And since I’d been actively trying NOT to push the baby out for the past half hour, it took a few minutes for me to change gears. This is why when the doctor yelled “Push! Go! Now!” I still had my legs closed. I didn’t realize this, of course. I was too busy trying to figure out what was going on. David pointed it out.

“Nicole, open your legs!” he said. He’s not an expert but even he knows you can’t deliver a baby with your legs closed.

“What?” I asked. I was on another planet, far far away. I was wondering if it was actually possible for me to split into two right down the middle from the terrific, mind-blowing pressure in my pelvis.

“Open your legs!” he said again.

“Now! Push! Go! Now!” barked the doctor.

Then David, wise man that he is, just grabbed my legs and pushed them open himself and I understood what he was talking about, “Yes, right. Got it. Pushing the baby out now.”

And I did. Gave it 5000%, bellowing like a dying animal. I pushed one massive, epic push and the baby came flying out, head, body and all.

That’s how you do it the third time around. One push. Done and done.

They placed her slippery, squirmy little body right on my chest and I was shaking and crying and taking her in. She was so tiny and bird-like, a perfect minute human being, all warm and gooey and writhing on me. Could words ever describe the feeling of seeing your baby for the first time? Any attempt seems cheap and unworthy.

“Do you want me to take your baby now?” Dr. Malley asked, and I was confused because I didn’t, not at all, I didn’t ever want anyone to take my baby, not even for a second. I wanted to baby attached to my chest, warm and wiggly until she was grown herself, until she had to deliver her own baby, and even then it seemed like it could work if she just attached that baby to her chest and we’d be like a bunch of matrioshkas, eternally nested together.

Then Dr. Malley said it again, “Do you want me to take your baby and make her cry?”

It occurred to me then that I hadn’t heard the baby cry yet and then I realized what she meant – that they wanted to make sure everything was Ok – and I said, “Yes, yes. Make her cry.”

No sooner had they lifted her off of me than she did, a delicious, tinny caterwaul which reverberated around the room and made everyone laugh.

“Is she OK?” I called over my shoulder to where they had the baby in the bassinett.

“She’s perfect,” the nurse said, “All six pounds three ounces of her.”

And though she’s considerably bigger two months later, she still is.

Every time I see her I feel like I can hear the song “Lets Stay Together” playing distantly in the background. “I . . . I’m so in love with you . . . whatever you want to do . . . is all right with me . . . “ Though the whole experience feels somewhat familiar – I know what milestones to expect and what obstacles I may encounter - - it feels at the same time, all brand-new. The joy isn’t muted because I’ve felt it before. Quite the opposite in fact – the happiness feels even more expansive because it isn’t hemmed in on all sides by terror and confusion, the way it did when I was a first timer.
And I think the same thing I always think about childbirth, after its over: “What a ridiculously small price to pay for all this. Worth every labor pain. Especially with the epidural.”

Monday, June 25, 2012

Birth Story or, You're Putting a WHAT in my What?

i know its my third childbirth and by now I should be over the whole thing but Mother Nature keeps the experience fresh and interesting and -- most importantly -- comical. So I've taken the liberty of sharing Terza's birth story, as well as the considerable risk that this will be, even for you faithful readers, way TMI.  

The day after my due date was a Thursday and I had an appointment for my weekly bio physical sonogram, which oldsters like me have to undergo every week in the last month of pregnancy, on account of “AMA.” I think they use the acronym not only for speed and convenience but so you won't be insulted every time you hear the term, which stands for Advanced Maternal Age. It didn’t matter that I’d barely slipped over the breakoff point for AMA, that I was only a few months into being 35 – I was still such a dried-up old sack of bones the docs needed thorough, weekly assurance that my dusty old womb could nourish life.  I didn’t mind, of course: getting a sonogram every week was a dream come true, totally enabling my neuroses. Plus, the Maternal Fetal Medicine Center warmed the sonogram goo, had a Kleurig coffee maker and always gave me a 3D close up of the baby’s face. Sheer luxury.

Since I'd made the appointment first thing in the morning, David could come with me. We dropped the kid off at school, reminding them again, as we had every day for the past three weeks, that today could be the day I had the baby, so don't be surprised if one of their grandparents showed up at pickup. The kids were over it by now - they'd had so many false alarms, they figured mine was hysterical pregnancy and there'd never be a real baby produced. 

I’d had the bio physical sonogram so many times I knew exactly what they were checking for – heartbeat, signs of practice breathing, signs of movement, and amniotic fluid levels. This time around, the radiologist noted that my amniotic fluid levels were a little low, but not to worry, she’d show the doctor on call and see what they thought.

David and I waited for longer than usual and finally the OB on call told us to come into her office, that she had Dr. Malley, from my OB's office on the phone for me. 

“Is there a problem?” I asked Dr. Malley.

“Everything is fine,” she assured me, “Its just that your amniotic fluid is a little low so we’re going to go ahead and induce you.”

“OK,” I said, “When?”

“Today, “ she said.

“Wow,” I replied, surprised. “Is this dangerous? Should I be worried about the baby?”

“No, no, no need to worry. This is common after 40 weeks of pregnancy,” she replied, “Its not dangerously low.”

“If it was, then what would happen?” I asked, never at a loss for worst-case scenario questions.

“Then we’d be doing an emergency C section, and we’re not,” she said, “Its just that when the amniotic fluid is low it’s a sign that the placenta is not working as well as it should be to nourish the baby. And as soon as we see that, we get the baby out. ”

“OK,” I replied, “So should I go home and get my stuff?”

“You could do that,” Dr. Malley said, “Or you could go now.”

“See, that makes me feel like this is dangerous,” I said.

“Its fine. It’s not dangerous. Just go right over to the hospital, OK?”

I decided that rather than waste energy deciphering the mixed messages or freaking out, I'd just get my ass over to the hospital. And get excited. After all, I was going to meet my baby today!

The hospital was just a few avenues east of the sonogram center so we walked over, stopping at a Ray's Pizza on the way for a 10:30am slice. Once we'd gotten through all the paperwork and I was situated in the waiting room, just hanging out til a room was ready, left for Brooklyn to get my hospital bag and other necessaries. By the time I'd explained to my grandmother on the phone where and when to pick the kids up from school -- an ordeal which took no less than forty five minutes --  the room was ready. 

The doc on call was a very young, very perky doctor from Chicago, Dr. Goldman. When I met her for the first time a few months before, I'd said to David afterwards, “Has she even graduated from college yet? Is she starring in the reloaded series of Doogie Houser?" I have a terrible bias against young people now that I am saddled with AMA, and bitter. On the upside, she was about the sweetest, kindest and most gentle medical professional I’d ever encountered. She explained the induction process in detail to me. It was pretty simple, actually.

The whole induction method relied on a balloon they’d be sticking in my vajajay.

I am not exaggerating. Its called a cervical foley and it’s a balloon, filled with sterile water, that they sliiiiiiide into your cervix to mechanically force it open. It sounds crazy and outdated like bleeding people with leeches but this is what is done. Apparently, mechanically dilating the cervix triggers the body to take over and start dilating in earnest on its own, especially if that body has already been through labor twice already. The balloon only gets you to 3-4 centimeters and then you do the rest, sort of like a cervical jumper cable.  While they were waiting for that to take effect, they’d give me a very low dose of Pitocin just to help things along. And hopefully, it would take.

“Sure,” I said, “Stick the balloon in.”

Dr. Goldman pulled out this plastic tube attached to a tiny plastic bulb.

“This is what the foley looks like,” she said, “Not so bad, right?”

I had to agree – it looked pretty harmless. But of course, what she neglected to tell me was that the balloon she’d shown me had been empty. Those sly suckers -- they insert it empty and then inflate it once its inside of you.  Then you’re stuck, in all possible ways.

“Is that comfortable?” she asked once the deal was sealed.

“Ummmm, I don’t really know how to respond to that,” I replied, “I mean, I have an inflated balloon in my private parts. But I guess, given that, yes, its OK.”

“Great,” she smiled, nonplussed, “Once you’re dilated 3-4 centimeters, we’ll be able to just give it a gentle tug and it will slip out. So I’ll come back in a few hours to check on you. Until then, feel free to move around.”

I figured this was her idea of a joke. I was hooked up to an IV, a fetal heartrate monitor and one for contractions AND I had an inflated balloon in my cooch with a tube hanging out so they could tug it sporadically and see it their insane technique was working. I didn’t plan on leaving that bed until the baby was out and the whole labor and delivery was behind me. Of course, I forgot that when they set up the Pitocin, they also started approximately 500 gallons of water pumping into my veins to hydrate me. Which meant I had to pee about every five minutes.

Walking to the bathroom, which was only ten steps away, was a total farce. I think it could actually appear as a circus act in a progressive, avant guard circus. Every time I attempted it, I got tangled and the monitors would get screwed up, causing a nurse to rush in, alarmed, and then I’d tell her I only had to pee and could she please get a team of experts to come in and help me do that please and then I’d get up and hobble over to the bathroom with the nurse wheeling my equipment and THEN I had to figure out how not to pee on the balloon tube hanging out of me because THAT didn’t seem hygienic in the least. Fun.

After an eternity, David returned from Brooklyn with my stuff.

“Finally!” I said, “What, did you stop at a bar on the way? Pop into a strip club for a few lap dances?”

“The subway is really far away,” he said, “What did I miss?”

“Oh, not much. They inflated a balloon inside my vagina.“

David set up the ipod and we started listening to my Labor Playlist, which relied heavily on the Beatles and Wilco. Then Dr. Goldman appeared, perky as ever, and with Dr. Malley in tow.

“I’m going now,” said Dr. Goldman, “But Dr. Malley is taking over and she’ll take good care of you.”

Honestly, I was relieved. Dr. Malley was a respectable age, mid to late thirties. I wouldn’t be the first delivery of her career.

Before she left, Dr. Goldman checked to see if I was dilated and still, after about an hour or so, I wasn’t. At all. Not that I was surprised. Call it whatever fancy name you will, these people were still relying on a balloon to magically evacuate my baby from the womb she was clearly loathe to leave. I didn’t see it working.

“Its still early,” said Dr. Goldman, ever the optimist. “Dr. Malley here will check on you in an hour or two.”

Within a half hour of them leaving the room, however, I started having labor pains. Real ones. The kind you don’t smile through. The kind that make you think you were fucking delusional to think those Braxton Hicks contractions could have possibly been real labor. The kind that make you want your doctor to come back. ASAP.

“Oooooooo,” I moaned to David, “This hurts. Get the doctor to check me. I’m sure I’m 3 or 4 centimeters by now.”

“But she was just here and you were still less than one centimeter,” replied my husband. He hates making a big deal.

“Ooooo,” I moaned, “oooooooh. I don’t care. Get her.”

David urged me to wait another half hour or so.  I lasted five minutes.

“I remember now. I remember the pain. I blocked it out but now I remember and I need that epidural. I need it soon and what if the anesthesiologist is busy and I have to wait? What if he's doing an emergency C section or two, or three and I have to wait an hour. Or more? David. I need that epidural. I need it.”

I'm not brave and I'm frankly not interested in pretending I am. The epidural I had for each of the last two childbirths was one of my favorite parts. I was really looking forward to it, especially now that the pain had begun. 

“Ok,” he said, “Let’s just wait a little while longer before we call the doctor back.”

Then I had an idea. A genius idea. We didn’t need the doctor.

“If I’m 3-4 centimeters dilated they can give me an epidural. And if you tug on the balloon and it comes out, then I know I’m 3-4 centimeters dilated. So tug on it.”

“Are you crazy?” he asked, horrified, “I am not taking it out. That is MEDICAL equipment. You need a doctor to take it out!”

“Its just a goddamned balloon!” I cried, “Tug on it!”

“No. No! I am NOT touching that.”

“Fine,” I panted, “Then I’LL take it out.”

“Nicole,” he warned, “Don’t do it.”

“All it needs is a little gentle tug . . . “

“Nicole!” he cried and he was begging now, “Don’t!"

Poor, beleaguered David. Ever steadfast and generous, he more or less always gives me everything I want, and all he asks in return is sex every so often. Now I threatened to maim the only part of me that he consistently likes, the only part he never gets mad at, the most critical part, really, the part keeping the marriage glued together. So I hesitated. And at that moment, the nurse walked through the door.

“Great,” David sighed, “Can you check her?”

“Sure,” she said, “I’ll just tug on the balloon.”

I gave David a look which said, “See?” as the nurse took hold of the tube and yanked, hard. Not exactly my interpretation of “gentle.” As she yanked, the balloon slipped out, fast, all at once, causing her to recoil slightly.  David, too. I just said, “Whoa.”

“So, you’re dilated now,” she said, dropping the balloon into the garbage. “Do you want a – “

“Yes,” I cut her off, “I want an epidural. As soon as possible.”

She left the room to fetch the Drug Lord. David was visibly shaken by witnessing the balloon extraction.

“Did you see the size of that thing?” he said.

“No,” I replied, “Was it big?”

“Was it big?” he repeated, “I’ll show it to you.”

“Oh, gross, don’t—“ But it was too late. David had walked over to the surgical room garbage can, reached in and pulled out the balloon. And then I was glad he did, even if he might contract some infectious disease from rifling through the hospital garbage. Because that was a sight to behold. The thing was MAMMOTH.

“Now I have an inferiority complex,” he said.

I laughed, “Allow me to remind you that that balloon, while massive, is still only a fraction the size of the human head which will soon be coming out of my vagina.”

And I think we’ll leave the story at that for today. Tune in tomorrow for the exciting conclusion. Less allusions to balloons in my vag and more tear-jerking, heartfelt moments. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

"Keep your eyes peeled."

Is what I told Sec yesterday, enlisting her help with finding the address of an apartment building we were headed to. To which she replied, aghast:

"No Mommy! I'm much to scared to peel my eyes! What are you, crazy?"

Kids. So woefully literal.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Don't f%^k with me, I'm pumped up on oxytocin.

My Mommy Maternity Leave ended a long time ago, and so now I'm totally back in the game of pick up and drop off and playdate hosting and after school playground-ing. Mostly, its going OK and I'm handling the immersion back into playground politics plus baby pretty well. But the other day on the playground, something happened which made me realize that I am still under the influence of powerful Mommy hormones. I am in Hyper Mother Bear Mode now and if you fuck with my baby bears, yoll probably get mauled. Even if you're also a baby bear. I blame the oxytocin.

It was a lovely spring afternoon after school and the kids were bounding around the playground, narrowly avoiding more tooth-chipping experiences. Within a few minutes, Sec came running over to me, where I was nursing Terza, and said, "Mommy! Mommy! This bad boy punched me!"

Now, Sec tends to get into scrapes and it is sometimes hard to discern who is to blame. She also can sometimes be sensitive to injury, so I try not to get too reactive. I try to let her work shit out. Especially when I'm in the middle of suckling my newborn.

"Well, if you don't like how he's playing, just stay away from him," I counseled her.  She was off and running before I'd even finished my sentence.

Less than five minutes later and she was back, this time hysterically crying. You should know that my daughter is basically made of steel and can withstand terrific assaults on her person: this is probably a result of being beaten down by her big brother for several years now. When she was 4, a first grader punched her right in the gut and she didn't even shed a tear. She's one tough cookie and it takes a LOT to make her cry. So when I saw her crying so hard she wasn't making any sound, I got alarmed. And mad.

"What happened?" I asked, trying not to sound like I was freaking out.

She couldn't speak for a minute or two, just sputtered and gagged on her tears. Then finally she said, "He punched me. Really hard."

That was all the information I needed.

"Where is he?" I asked, trying to mask the quiver in the voice that clearly indicated I was on the brink of a rage fit, "Bring me to the boy."

Sec took my hand and led me, with my newborn strapped to my chest, through the crowded playground, until we got to a very small blond boy wearing a Ramones T-shirt.

"This him?" I asked, nodding in the little boy's direction, just like I was a mobster.

Sec nodded and then darted away as fast as she could, hiding herself under the playground equipment. This wasn't in my plan. My plan was to stand by Sec as she communicated her feelings to the little boy, providing emotional support and guidance but letting her do the heavy lifting herself. But though I tried to cajole her out of her hiding place, she wouldn't budge. And the boy was looking at me expectantly. And I was mad. So I decided to wing it. Never a good idea in my case, especially with all the oxytocin.

"That's my daughter over there," I pointed to Sec hiding under the monkey bars, "Did you punch her?"

He nodded.

"You hurt her. Very badly. See how she's crying?"

He looked un-fazed.

"Well,  why, WHY did you hit her?" I asked.

"My friend told me to," he replied matter-of-factly.

I was dumbstruck -- but only momentarily.

"Now you listen to me," I said, leaning down so I was at his eye level, "You do not hit my daughter. I don't care who tells you to. Don't punch her, don't chase her, don't hit her. Ever again."

I came close, very close, to adding an "Or else," but I stopped myself. Instead I said:
"Do you understand?"

He nodded.

"Are you SURE?" I asked again, for extra measure, my eyes boring into his, mafia-style

He nodded again.

"Good," I said, standing, "Then I think we're done."

I walked over to Sec and told her what had gone down. She was satisfied and within minute or two was back swinging on the monkey bars without a care in the world. I went back to where I'd been sitting and found my diaper bag on the ground, spilling open and my wallet, unfurled, laying beside it. It took me a second to remember that I'd been in the middle of rifling through my waller, to see if I had enough cash for a coffee when Sec had run over. I flew into such a rage that I literally dropped everything to take care of business, including, I guess my wallet. Thankfully, it had no money in it anyway.

A minute later Primo came over and I asked him if he'd seen what went down with the little boy and Seconda. He said he hadn't seen anything except Sec cry after she was punched.

"I'm sorry to say it Mommy." he said, "But after that, I tried to punch the boy as hard as I could. But don't worry, I missed."

"You don't have to be sorry," I said, and then, even though I know its not the park slope-y thing to say, I went on, "I'm proud of you for protecting your sis. That's my boy."

"And you know what I said, Mommy?" Primo smiled, "I yelled, 'You punched the wrong kid's sister!'"

That made me guffaw. Primo's such a gentle creature it pains him to kill a cockroach but when push comes to shove, he's still a hot blooded Italian, and loyal. Even without the oxytocin.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Date Night, Plus One

I was just telling a friend that David and I sneaked out on Sunday night for a date.

"Wow, that's amazing." she said, "Who watched the kids?"

"My grandmother," I said, "For an hour or so."

"That's great that she can watch all three of them," she replied.

"Oh she can't," I clarified, "We took the baby. We always take the baby on date night."

This is one of the things that happens when you have three kids, I guess. There's no one in our life who could handle Primo and Seconda PLUS a newborn baby, so the baby always comes along. I genuinely don't mind. She's easy. I stick her on the boob. I bounce her around. She doesn't interrupt constantly and ask a million questions about physics and theology I can't answer and talk about farts and vomit at the dinner table. She's cool. I don't even notice she's there really, until someone observes that she is adorable and then I beam with pride. Its all positive.

But it makes me laugh because I remember when Primo was a few months old and David and I were so desperate to leave the baby with someone so we could have a real date. It was so ponderous to have the baby under our care. We needed to liberate ourselves from the terrific burden and be fully unfettered so we could stare into each other's eyes and do other shit I don't even remotely recall. Now, being unfettered means having only one baby with us. Of course there are things that happen on date night that can't happen with the baby in tow, and that is why God made babies nap so much. See? With only one kid in tow, we've got marriage and romance fully covered. Now if we can only figure out how to manage with the rest of it thrown in.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Its hard with your first

The baby has developed a cold and this threw me into a panic attack. I'm not exaggerating either. When I woke up and saw that she had a snotty nose, I started crying. And praying. It just seemed just too soon for her to be sick - she's not even two months old yet. None of my other kids had colds as newborns. So I called the doctor's office and had the pediatrician on call paged. It was Saturday morning at 9am.

"What's up?" the doctor asked. It was the old-timer doc, perfectly nice and all, just not as alarmist a medical professional as I like to work with.

I explained all her symptoms in detail and he told me that she had a cold. That seemed like a waste of two minutes.

"Yes, but what can I DO about it?" I asked.

"There's nothing you can do really." he said, "Except nurse her more frequently."

"What about steam showers and aspirating her nose and putting her to sleep upright and using a humidifier?" I asked.

"All that sounds good," he said.

"I mean, should I be worried? Does this happen? Do tiny, defenseless little newborns like this get colds and are they still OK after?"

"Yes, they do," he assured me, and then he added, kindly: "It is scary when they get sick for the first time but its completely normal. Its hard with your first."

I didn't correct him. After all, I want the guy to keep calling me back when I emergency page him on weekend mornings.

"Yes it is," I agreed, "It really is."

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Did I really leave the house looking like this?

I haven't considered myself hot stuff for quite some time and for many years now, I've been shopping for clothes at Target rather than sample sales and failing to apply makeup and often wearing the same thing for two days in a row. Still, since I had the baby two months ago, things have taken a definite turn for the worse in terms of my physical appearance. Thats a polite way to say I look like shit. Not even shit warmed over. Just ice-cold, old, decaying shit. I know I have a newborn and two other young children to care for but still a person has got to have some standards, right?

This morning, my husband let me sleep in until the glorious, amazing hour of 8am. That was stupendous. But it also meant that I had 15 minutes from the time I flickered my eyelids open to get myself, the baby and two uncooperative children dressed, fed, armed with school stuff and out the door. It was an insane race with lots of nagging and yelling and other bad parenting strategies. You can imagine what I looked like when I exited the front door. But in case your imaginations not so good right now, fear not, I will elaborate.

After I'd dropped the kids off, I ran into a Mommy friend at the coffee shop across the street from school, where I'd beelined so I could feed the baby, who I hadn't had time to breastfeed before we left. The baby didn't particularly need to eat but I needed her to eat. There's nothing like walking around town with one normal breast and one massive, rock-hard breast which is shooting milk out onto your clothes like a lacto-geyser. So there I was, nursing the baby when my friend walked in.

"I feel like I look just repellent," I told her.

"Oh you're all right," she muttered, looking away.

"Are you kidding me? I am covered in dried spit up, including in my hair whose roots are about two inches too long to be fashionable. Forget putting in my contacts - I haven't even had time to clean the spit up from my glasses. I am fairly sure I have poop on my pants - the baby's, not mine -- although at this point, anything is possible. And I have a huge glaring, sticky wet spot in front of my right breast. Also I haven't shaved my pits in like three months because I can't find a razor. And I've worn this tank top - which I bought at Walmart -- for approximately two weeks straight. I'm gross. I'm disgust myself. I am like a public health hazard at this point. You could get cox sackie from looking at me."

"Oh, come on, its not that bad," my friend laughed, "But you should know that your fly is unzipped."

I looked down. It was true.

Heaven help me.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Touchy People

I feel like I need to do a PSA about people touching newborn's hands. Because now that the weather is gorgeous and I've got my baby out and about with her little hands exposed, I've noticed people are getting really touchy and it drives me crazy. My mother -- an avowed nutface, but still -- always taught me never to touch a baby's hands. Better to breathe your foul, germ-laden breath directly in her face or to kiss her on her forehead rather than touch her hands. But I guess other people didn't have germophobe moms because everyone is freaking laying hands on my baby's hands.

The other day I was in the elevator, holding the baby and standing next to a little toddler throwing an epic tantrum. When he saw the baby, he piped down.

"She's small," he said. It was very cute. You could tell his mother was relieved for the distraction. And then he put his scheevy, dirt-laden hands right on top of Terza's pristine fingers and just pawed them incessantly until we reached my floor.

His mother stood there watching.

"Is that OK that he's touching her?" she asked.

What was I gonna say? The deed was done already. But I would have liked to reply: "If you have to ask, lady, I think the answer is clear. And in case its not -- allow me to clarify. No fucking way. I'd had two toddlers and I know that they stick their fingers up every orifice they've got, and orifices other kids have too. So forgive me if I don't want those streppy-rotavirus-cox-sackie finger tips caressing those of my newborn infant who hasn't of course, been immunized against jack shit yet."

I just smiled and tried to swallow my indignation. Then the mom said, "You should probably wash her hands, though. He's been to the park."

The elevator door opened just in time. Yeah, I might want to wash her hands. I might want to douse them with antibacterial spray, then hose them down with rubbing alcohol and then steam-sterilize them.

As it was, I was running late to pick up my other kids from school so I settled on just simply washing them with soap at the sink. I say "simply washing." but have you ever tried to wash a newborn's hands while you're holding her? The baby can't even keep her head up yet. Its too much to coordinate with my my two arms. She ended up soaking wet. I ended up late. And Seconda ended up giving me a stern talking-to about being the last parent at pick-up. Thanks a lot Elevator Mom.