Happy Thanksgiving, from one messy little Tater Tot!
What a great day! I made my grandmother's (famous) Jello Salad, and while no one else seems to like it, it's one of my favorite foods ever. I can eat it for days and days after holidays and it never gets old. Thank goodness we make a large pan of it!
Granny French Fry's Jello Salad 2 packages of strawberry, lime, or cranberry Jello (not sugar free) 1 package of lemon Jello 1 8oz package of cream cheese (cubed) 1 small package of walnuts or pecans 1 small flat can of crushed pineapple
Combine 3 pkgs of Jello with 3 cups of boiling water and 2 cups of cold water in a large bowl. Stir and put in refrigerator to thicken for 30 minutes. Mixture should still be liquid. While thickening, combine cubed cream cheese, pineapple, and crushed nuts in another bowl. Add Jello mixture to this and mix with a hand blender for 2 minutes (until frothy). Pour into 9x13 Pyrex pan and refrigerate overnight. Makes 12 4x4 squares.
In a costume made and assembled by Mama Spud! I'm so proud of myself to be able to make by baby's first Halloween costume. I may not be able to make all of them in the upcoming years, but at least I was able to make her very FIRST one.
Happy Halloween! We went to Reid's Orchard to pick our pumpkins (one big, for mom and dad, one small for Tater Tot!) and had so much fun! I love this tradition and hope to be able to continue it year after year. It's so much fun doing all the "family things" I've wanted to do with a family for so long. Now - we can! She might not be able to remember it, but she'll have lots of wonderful pictures to look at later and know how much her parents cared about her.
Playing in the corn box, it's like a sandbox, but with corn.Walking through the corn maze. Crawling through the tunnel.
Trying out a little self-feeding with a biter biscuit. Thank goodness all she was wearing was a diaper and a bib. Everything got hosed off - the tray, the high chair, .... the baby. She was an hot mess!
So Michelle Duggar is pregnant with her 19th child. Some people may not know the Duggar family, but they are a conservative Baptist family from Arkansas who home-school their children and believe in the Quiverfull movement - have as many babies as God will give you.
Her youngest, Jordyn-Grace, was born a mere month before my Tater Tot. As you can read from the title, Tot is only 8 months, making the youngest Duggar 9 months old. Michelle's due date for #19 is March 18th, 2010, making her (as of publish date) 14 weeks along. Jordyn is roughly 37 weeks old, making her merely 23 weeks (or 5 months old) at the time of conception. Sorry... I think about those kinds of things.
And I also think of how exhausting that is going to be for Mama Duggar. Having a 15 month old toddler running around with a new baby! By her newest baby's birthday, she will have 5 children under the age of 5 (not to mention the other 14 kids too!)
Her granddaughter is due to be born October 18th, 2009. Mckynzie Renee, as she will be called, will be 5 months older than her aunt and 10 months younger than Aunt Jordyn.
Not here to judge... just to inform. Not really any of my business... but I just feel tired THINKING about this woman's life!
When I was 7 months pregnant with the Tater Tot, I went home to visit my family and take care of my mom. I got to visit with my 8 month old niece, Hash Brown, and was so exhausted after just one evening babysitting with her. I love her to Reese's Pieces, but being that pregnant and hauling around a kid who can't walk yet was really tiresome. I couldn't even hold her on my lap - my belly was too big!
Eventually, Spud and I want to try for another child again. I think I want to be pregnant again so I can fix my "mistakes" with the last pregnancy. They weren't actual mistakes, but errors in judgment. I allowed my doctor to scare me into an induction when he just wanted to get a nose job and get me delivered on his schedule. I ignored my instincts when I thought I had an infection and let the doctors and nurses talk me out of getting a test. I chose to stay in the hospital, while I could have labored at home. I gave up too easily on breast-feeding, when I should have not let my fears get to me. I caved and asked for pain relief, which made it harder for me to stay awake while pushing because they gave it to me too late in labor. The list goes on. The things I didn't know will (hopefully) be changed the next time around....
....IF there's a next time around.
Oh, by the way, Tater Tot is: eating tiny chunks of food, like carrots and cheese. standing up and holding on the edges of furniture. getting bumps on her head from too many falls. sleeping 12 hours a night. eating 24 ounces+ in a day. discovering rain and the sounds it makes outside.
My plan was to lose all 38 pounds of pregnancy weight that I gained in the 9 months after I gave birth. Technically 40 weeks, but since I only went to 38.5 weeks - should I push up my deadline? I have 6.5 to 8 weeks to lose 8 pounds. I'm only 4 pounds away from the weight I was when I took the pregnancy test, but 8 pounds away from my normal weight. My 15 pound plateau was broken a few weeks ago and I'm ALMOST there.... but it seems we've hit another plateau. I should start walking again but... I'm just too tired.
On the upside, I think I'm getting sick so hopefully that will knock a couple pounds off! Haha!
Tater Tot is doing really well, seeing the chiropractor once a week, trying to stand up, and laughing like a two- year-old! I love her and I love her cuddles.
Normally, this blog is all about the Tot. But today, I made something really tasty in my kitchen, and I thought I'd share. After all, it's a mommy-blog, right? Mommies cook.... sometimes.
White Trash Pizzas (updated version)
When I was in college, I was super-poor and only made just enough money each week to buy $30 worth of groceries for two weeks. So I improvised. Of course, there were the staples like Ramen and grilled cheese sandwiches, but every once in a while I'd crave pizza (like any other normal, red-blooded American college student). Even though there was a pizza shop below my apartment, (and a brewery across the street - it was heaven, believe me) sometimes all my money went for beer instead of food and... well... here we are. White Trash Pizzas. The cheap version is to make toast, spread some marinara sauce on, a few slices of cheese (preferably mozzarella, but these were hard times, folks), and a few seasonings. Voila! Pizza.
Here's a version involving a few more (but still cheap) ingredients.
5 pack of plain or egg bagels (or French bread, English muffins, etc.) 2 cups of marinara or pizza sauce 15 Roma tomatoes, sliced length wise 30 slices of mozzarella cheese (or one 8 oz bar) 1 small can of sliced mushrooms 5 slices of turkey bacon, cut into 4 pieces 2 Tbsp of butter Garlic Rosemary Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Separate and lightly toast 5 bagels, or 10 bagel halves.
Place butter in a small microwaveable dish and sprinkle in garlic and rosemary. Microwave on high for 1 minute, or until thoroughly melted. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the cut side of bagels with mixture.
Place on medium size cookie sheet prepped with cooking spray.
Microwave bacon on a plate covered in 4 sheets of paper towels (two under bacon, two above) for 2-3 minutes until done but not crispy. Once cooked, cut or rip into four sections.
Using a spoon, spread sauce onto each bagel half. Lay 3 pieces of cheese onto each mini pizza. Top with 3 Roma tomato halves, and two small sections of bacon.
Sprinkle garlic, rosemary, and Parmesan cheese as desired. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is thoroughly melted and slightly golden.
There ya go mommies! "But Mama Spud," you may say, "You're an idiot. I've been making bagel pizzas forever."
Well.... too bad. It's delicious. Try the tomatoes and bacon. Try the seasonings. Don't buy the pre-packaged Bagel Bites with the scarily-symmetrical pepperoni. Mine are made with love. :-P ..........................................................................................................................................................................
Also, I took Tater Tot to the chiropractor again today. We're going next Monday again too. They're so very sweet and easy to get along with. It really irritates me when doctors offices get so demanding about payment. They want you to come to the office every week or so, and some expect payment as soon as you walk through the door. The office we are going to is very relaxed about it. They understand that they are asking you to visit a lot and they don't want you to suffer just because you can't afford it. I probably could have afforded it today, but I wanted to make sure all of my bills went through first, just in case.
Or if the house blows up tomorrow. You know, just in case.
Meanwhile, in baby land:
*She sits up for 4-5 minutes on her own. *She crawls/creeps from my bathroom, through my bedroom, across the hall, into the kitchen, through the butler's pantry, around the dining room, and into the hallway again. *She plays with Tupperware while I clean up the kitchen. *She eats Banana Puffs (Wal-Mart version is cheaper - sorry Gerber, even though you give me coupons) *She pretends to eat a puff and even says, "Yummy yum," but then sticks it to the front of her shirt. *Chicken and Broccoli is not her fave. Nor mine. *Apple Yo Baby yogurt IS a fave, though. It tastes like apple pie and heaven. I know. Trust me. *She says "Hi" to Dr. Chiro, but doesn't like to be oppressed and be forced to lay on her back.
We had an eventful day today. Woke up only once through the night and we all got up at 7:45am this morning. Back on schedule! By 10:30am, Tot was ready for a nap. When I came in to check on her... ... She was happily playing in her crib. So we tried a bottle again and then fell asleep for a long time. I came in to get her after a nice long 2 hour nap, and saw this.... ....The Tot was just barely awake, but using the bumper as a pillow, sucking her thumb, and pressing her little face up against the railing. Then, we decided to crawl around on the floor a little bit....
... And play with Mommy a little more....
... Then we went to the chiropractor. I was really impressed and, if we can afford it, I would like to have her go as many times as needed. The chiropractor is a lovely young woman who is specially trained for pregnant women and babies. She offers better eating habits and sleeping patterns once her spine has been aligned. Also, help with her "crooked crack", digestion, fussiness, constipation, diarrhea, and a host of other ailments. I'm so excited! So far... so good.
I'm taking the Tater Tot to the chiropractor's office on Friday. I just want to see if there's something in there that just isn't right.... or if I'm crazy. Probably the latter. But that damn crooked butt-crack bothers me because there's a history of scoliosis and corrective shoes on BOTH sides of the family.
Will let you know how that goes. One of the chiropractor's specializes in pregnant women and infants. Whoo-hoo! (Must remember to bring article from this month's Parent's magazine....)
Carefully, place thick pillows around the edge of my bed and slid my arm out from under my sleeping babe. I tiptoed out of the room, decided this would make a cute picture, and went to find my camera. Even though I held down the flash, it still made a clicking sound and woke up Tater Tot just a little. Quickly, I ducked down under the footboard and waited until she fell back asleep. If I let her see me, it would be all over.
And then I snuck out to the computer to work on my blog. It's been a while, I know. My laptop died sometime in May. I've been using Spud's laptop, but the wireless internet has been spotty lately. So then I use the office PC that's plugged into the wall, but Jeff needs that sometimes too. Plus, vacations, two sets of out-of-town weeklong guests, RA training, move-in (Spud works for a college campus) and a baby that doesn't nap as long as she used to --- all add up to less and less time to sit and actually type.
I think I need to gripe for a moment though, before I leave to go check on the Tot. Last week, while my mom was visiting, a student came to the door of my house/Spud's office. The sign said CLOSED and the sign with the hours was clearly posted in the front window and on the glass door. It was lunchtime and Spud was not here. The student knocked and I called out from the living room, "We're closed!"
He knocked again.
I got up from the couch with my mom, the baby, and my mom's friend and went over to the door. I opened it slightly and said, "We're closed." I went to shut the door, and he said, "Is Spud here?"
"No," I said, pointing to the sign, "We're closed."
"Can I ask--" he started.
"No! We're closed. See? He's not here!" I went to shut the door again and as he turned off the stoop he said, under his breath, "B*tch..."
At that point, I was livid. How dare you come to my house and call me that with my family and child in the next room?! I got all "trailer-trashy" and re-opened the door, yelling, "What did you just say to me?"
As he was walking away, he said again, "I called you a b*tch."
"It's not my fault you can't read! It's closed!" So incredibly angry!
Apparently, his coach was made aware of the situation and supposedly the student is going to apologize to me and Spud. I saw him yesterday several times, and he made no effort to do so. It's sad that he has no manners and wouldn't even consider apologizing to me, if his coach had not given him the option of a bus ticket or an apology.
What was more upsetting to me is that I fear that someone will take it to the next level next time. What's next? A rock through the window, landing next to the Tater Tot? A drunk person fighting in my home at 2am with my sleeping daughter in the next room? A gunshot?
I'd rethink this student's admission, Admissions Department. Apparently, he failed the reading portion of the SAT's.
Raising a child on a college campus will be interesting....
She blows raspberries. She rolls all over the place. She pulls my hair while eating. She sings like a pterodactyl. She calls "Mam am mam" when she wants me. She can sit up - for a little bit. She's eating stage 2 foods. She loves apples. She hates peas. She really wants my yogurt. She pulls herself into a standing position, with my help. She can balance on Spud's hand. She's teething. She can wear 6 months clothes, and still fit in newborn pants. She can sit in her high chair. She tries to sit in the shopping cart. She will sleep through the night every once in a while. She'll have a dance party in her crib more often. She's the love of my life.
By the way, that leaves me only 3 more months to lose the rest of the baby weight. I managed to get over the Plus 15 plateau and am now Plus 11! Hooray! Just a few more to go... I have a theory. It takes 9 months for you to put on the baby weight - the bulk of which comes on in the last trimester. Then, as soon as you have the baby, the bulk comes off and all of the "maternal fat" is left. That's the hardest and most people just stop after the initial amount is lost because they get frustrated and just give up. By God - I will see the 130's again!
But... mommies are meant to be a little squishier, in order to give better hugs.
In the meantime, I have many many ideas for starting my own little baby "crap" line and selling it on the inter-webs. There's a whole sub-culture out there that love to give and receive handmade baby junk. And if my price is $1 less than the others out there... the easier it will be to sell!
A Day in the Life 5am - Baby wakes up for early morning feeding. Crawls into bed with us and sleeps a little longer. 5oz bottle. Diaper change.
7:30am - Dad wakes up and gets ready for work. Baby starts hitting me in the face to wake me up.
7:45am -Dad goes to work.
8am - Mom and Baby get up and put a bottle on the warmer while we change her diaper, get her dressed, open the blinds, turn off night lights, and make the bed.
8:15am- 5oz bottle. Bowl of cereal for Mom.
9am - Mom gets a bath while Baby plays in bouncy chair placed next to bathtub. After bath, she is moved (chair and all) into the bedroom to watch Dora the Explorer (etc.) while I get dressed, do my makeup, etc.
9:45am - Clean up kitchen, take out trash, load dishwasher, start laundry (if needed), or make bottles for the day (if needed). There's usually a poopy diaper in here somewhere!
10 am - Nap for Baby.
11am - Wake up from nap. 5oz bottle. Reflux medicine. Diaper change.
11:30am - Playtime on the floor for Mom, Baby, and cats.
12pm - Lunch! Dad may or may not join us during his lunch break. Baby has two spoonfuls of baby food, sometimes mixed with a little rice cereal, while she sits in bouncy chair (no high chair yet!)
12:30pm - Clean up from lunch while Baby plays on floor or in bouncy chair.
1pm - Nap for Baby (and sometimes Mom).
2pm - Wake up from nap. 5oz bottle. Diaper change.
3:00pm - Playtime on the floor of nursery while I put away clothes, finish laundry, re-organize her clothes, or get the room ready for her bath if I have to work that evening.
3:30 - Read books or look at Baby Einstein flashcards while we cuddle in a chair.
4pm - Nap for Baby.
4:45pm - Dad gets off of work (even though he works mostly from our home). Mom and Dad cuddle until Baby wakes up.If Mom works, gets ready and does hair.
5:30pm - Wake up from nap. 5 oz bottle. Diaper change.
(5:45pm - Mom leaves for work on only 1-3 nights a week).
6pm - Dad cooks dinner while Mom either assists or takes care of Baby.
6:30pm - Eat a family dinner with Baby in bouncy chair. Two-three huge spoonfuls of baby food in a small bowl, sometimes mixed with rice cereal.
7pm - Mom cleans up kitchen, makes bottles (if needed), loads and runs dishwasher, irons Dad's clothes for work the next day (if needed) and has "Mommy time" while Dad plays with Baby.
7:30pm - The "Cranky Hour." Not quite time for bed, too late for a nap. Try to keep her occupied with walks or trips outside to sit on the porch swing.
8:00pm - Bath-time! Mom and Dad both get Baby settled in the bathtub, run the water, and get the rubber duckies. Mom usually bathes Baby while Dad checks his email, but calls for him when it's time to get out.
8:15pm - DAD! Baby is dried off, lotioned, and pajama'd by Dad (who is also the expert swaddler) while Mom warms a bottle, gives her some reflux medicine, and gets the room ready for bed.
8:30pm - 5oz bottle.
(9:15-10:15pm - Mom comes home from work if it's a working day).
12am-2am - If Baby wakes up, it's around now. Sometimes she falls asleep by herself, other times she crawls in bed with us and sleeps until morning. Diaper changes and 5oz bottles if needed.
The "Mommy" Purse Through the week I have my "Mommy Purse." It's one part diaper bag, one part purse, and partly covered in spit up. I condense my wallet to a small-size ID holder, with room for just my ID and Debit Card. There's diapers and wipes, of course, but I also have a formula divider that my sister gave me. It's a small, round, plastic container that has three divisions so you can dole out just enough formula that you need (i.e. 3 scoops = 6oz bottle). Just bring a bottle filled with the water you need, shake, and go! No refrigeration!
Oh, and my coupon wallet. Yeah... I'm THAT mom.
On the weekend, though, it's all about my red leather purse. Room for my cell-phone, gum, and HUGE wallet. I take it back and forth to work, complete with my name badge in the front left pocket.
But on Monday morning...... back to the "Mommy" Bag.
I found this article on a Natural Mothering website and, of course, saying that the breast is best. I believe that whole-heartedly. But, I just do not believe that it is right for everyone. If I choose to feed my child in a different way, please do not give me a guilt-trip and say that I am depriving my child of brain cells, glowing skin, and pleasant smelling poop.
It's been a long time since I've been able to write because I have been really busy lately! This little girl is really active now and doesn't nap as much as she used to, so there's not as much downtime as there used to be. Spud is really busy working on updating the residence halls, buying and loading and unloading furniture, and working his butt off (literally - I think he lost about 10 pounds sweating it all off!)
Tater tot's great-grandparents came for a week to visit from Pennsylvania. We only got to see them for a few hours when I came back home, so it was nice to have them visit and help out around here. We painted the kitchen, living room, butler's pantry, made and hung new curtains, went to Mammoth Caves in Kentucky, and Lincoln's Boyhood Home in Indiana. Mammoth Cave (pictured here) is beautiful, immense, and has the ability to magnify a screaming infant's cries 20 times and reverberate off of the walls.... That was fun! It was a little cool in there and I think the darkness freaked her out too. She was in a front-carrier with Spud, but I think she really wanted her mommy. I finally put her in my sling and gave her a bottle and she managed to settle down a little bit! Craziness!
Speaking of the tot, her crying jags have started to lessen a little bit. She still may have them, but they're not as bad as before and we're starting to be able to interpret her cries and help her settle down more. We went swimming yesterday! Well, kinda. I blew up the orange Dino baby pool for Tater Tot, threw some plastic balls in there, and we sat under a tent in the backyard while Spud worked outside. She liked it.... for a little bit. But I think the water was too cold (even though it was 95 degrees outside) and she'd get a little too chilled. So, out she'd go, onto the beach blanket on the grass, to warm up and play, then I'd try to set her in the pool again to cool down.
It was really hot. In fact, it's been really hot here. I like summer and wanted to move south so we'd be warmer all year round, but with the ice storm, tornadoes, and heat waves, the only thing that moving south has done for us, has made us learn to survive natural disasters! One thing that is rather nice, though, is the small rose garden we have in the backyard, started by the nuns that used to live here. Spud's also been working on planting vegetables alongside the house -he already has some beans that are growing!
I took a series of pictures with the baby next to the roses. Unfortunately, the early growing season expired, the roses died, and now we have lilies. Nice, bright, orange summer lilies. Pink roses for spring, yellow lilies for summer. Mums for autumn?
In a little over a week, we are going to North Carolina on vacation! My grandmother, aunt, uncle, various cousins/spouses/babies, and my dad live down there by the beach. That will be exciting! My grandmother, Granny au Gratin, is in her 80's and her birthday is on January 23rd - three days away from mine, and two days away from Tater Tot's. When I was younger, we were "birthday buddies" and she gave me one of her garnet rings. (Garnet is January's birthstone) It will be really nice to see four generations of my family together, just like when Jeff's grandparents were here and we saw the oldest and youngest generations of his family together.
So, we'll be leaving before the 4th of July, traveling across the Appalachian Mountains, going through Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and then back into NC again on the east coast - right by the beach! We'll be back by the beginning of the next week. Already, I'm planning by buying bathing suits, beach towels, sunscreen... the list will go on and on....
Spud, Tater Tot, and I went to the pediatrician's office yesterday. She weighs a whoppin' 13lb, 6oz (I thought she was over 14... but that's ok) and 25 inches long! Tot's 4 months old now, so she got another Dtap shot and was checked over from stem to stern... poor little thing!
I really don't know what else to write about! Every day is pretty much the same, and then I go to work on the weekends and Jeff gets to spend some quality time with her. Although, when I came home from work on Saturday, she took one look at me and started crying inconsolably! Bath, bottle, bed.... then Spud and I went out on a "double-date" of sorts while the baby slept at home with a sitter (aka. One of my Macy's co-workers that I called in last-minute!) Actually, that whole weekend I really didn't get too much quality time with her because I would come home either just before or just after her bed-time and leave in the late morning. I felt kind of disconnected... but it could be worse. I could be working full-time and never get to see her at all.
I know people may think that I don't pull my weight or that Spud supports me, and he does, but that is the life that we chose. It's not for you to judge. I supported him through college and grad school... paying rent, buying things for our house, taking care of him and his mountains of laundry... now it's time for me to connect with my little one and be a mommy for a little while. I don't see a need in getting a job where I would just have to hand over my paycheck to my babysitter! What's the point? Use that time to let my baby bond with me - not a babysitter!
I pull my weight plenty. I take care of a huge house. I load the dishwasher everyday. I do upwards of 4 loads of laundry every 3 days. I take out the trash, feed the animals, clean up after the animals, shovel poop all day long (ours and theirs).... it's a rough job! Yes, there's down time. But there's also really hectic/crazy/stressful baby craziness time. I'm so glad that I have someone else to lean on... I don't know how single mothers do it!
Anyways... not gloating about the (joys) of being a partially-stay at home mom... but if we're able to afford it (roughly) for right now, then why not?
There's also some crazy family issues that are going on right now. I don't even know where to begin but I hope it works out.... for Tater Tot's sake. Nobody ever said new mom's were perfect!
Tomorrow will be Tater Tot's One-Third Birthday (haha - how's THAT fraction for ya?!). She's getting so big and I can't wait to see what kind of child she is going to become.
We go to the doctor next week for another round of immunizations, weighing, measuring, and to start talking about eating rice cereal and other mushy/disgusting baby concoctions. I'm toying with the idea of making our own baby food once we're at that level, so we'll have to see how that goes. Although, I may give in and buy a few "treats"...
Unofficially, I'd say she's around 14 pounds and is about 24 inches long! She's either getting a tooth soon or thinks that her hands are really tasty! I'm still having trouble getting her to increase her feedings, but they're starting to get on more of a regular schedule.
Last night, though, she skipped her bedtime feeding completely and the woke up 7 hours later wanting a bottle. She'd gone from 6:30pm to 4:15 am without any food! And slept from 9pm (albeit, with some crying in my arms until she fell asleep) until 4:15am. That was manageable, though, and I fed her and let her crawl into bed with me to sleep until 9:15am. You'd think she'd be starving, but she just barely finishes 4 ounces (5 if I'm lucky.... most times 3.5) and then pushes the bottle away like she's sick of it! She's a funny little thing... but not starving, that's for sure! Growing... growing... growing....
Meanwhile, Mckenna has her first boyfriend at the tender age of 4 months. Bekk (to the right) is a younger man - by three weeks! His mom and I were best friends in high school and we even nicknamed ourselves "The Tuff Girls." Hope was Tuff Girl #1, Ruth was Tuff Girl #2, and I was Tuff Girl #3. Hope and I both married men named Jeff and had babies within weeks of each other (Tuff Babies #1 & #3). Look at them holding hands! How cute! She started to cry when I put her down, but I think he was trying to calm her down so she'd take a good picture. Hope joked that we were going to show this picture at their wedding someday!!!
(Meanwhile, I'm freaking out because I just realized my baby is going to get married and have HER own babies someday! AHHH!!! And I'm gonna get gray hairs and have to pay for a lavish wedding!!! Oh no!! :-P )
Upcoming: Preparing the house for my grandparent's-in-law's arrival in June. Trying to clean just so when they come, they don't feel obligated to clean it for me! Ha! Also on the agenda... buy a highchair. Nothing plastic and "cheap" looking... something that will look nice with our furniture, of course! We'll see what we can find that's affordable too!!
Tater Tot and I took a week long trip to visit people in Pennsylvania while Spud worked on graduation. We stopped by our friend Katie's house and she took some gorgeous pictures of us! We also received two huge trash bags full of hand-me-downs from her cousin Hash Brown. I thought I had enough clothes before! Whew!!!
Updates: She's smiling. She's a supported sitter. She can pull herself into a sitting and standing position with little help from me. She can balance in the palm of Spud's hand. She's sucking on her hands for comfort instead of a pacifier, which will be harder to wean her from later. She's 3 1/2 months old. She follows me with her eyes. She squeals with delight when I enter the room. She still has colic and tummy problems... but she's getting better. She falls asleep easier. She gives hugs. She drools.
SUNDAY I packed everything, washed everything, and cleaned everything so that I would be all ready to leave Kentucky in the evening. Jeff watched the baby while I took a nice long nap (thanks to some Tylenol PM and blackout shades) and when I woke up, we bathed her, fed her and put her to bed in her car seat. Travel-wise, the easiest part of the trip was going from Owensboro to Columbus. It took us 5 hours, without stopping, and she stayed asleep the whole time.
MONDAY We arrived in Columbus around 2:30am and met Emily, who was going to help me feed Mckenna while we ate a VERY early breakfast at a diner, and then follow me back to Pittsburgh. After a few unsuccessful tries, we finally found an all-night Waffle House that wasn't too scary looking, ate, peed, fed the baby, then got on the road again. Except, I got on the East-bound road, and Emily went West! We eventually met up at the next exit, and away we were. A few more stops (MCKENNA'S CRANKY MOMENT #1), some rain, and head-lights that blended into all the other head-lights behind me put us a little behind but the baby and I finally arrived in Butler at 7:15am. Whew!
We cleaned up, ate a morning bottle, and then visited Grammy in the hospital for a little while. Then we went back to my mom's apartment to attempt to nap, but I was so pumped up on enough caffeine to kill a small horse and just stared at the ceiling. After unpacking and showering, we went back to the hospital to pick up my mom from her treatment but it took a while because Mondays require more tests. (MCKENNA'S CRANKY MOMENT #2).
After dropping Mom off at her apartment to sleep, MK and I went up to Slippery Rock to visit with Deanna and Baby Ellie. How cute to see those two theatre babies together! (MCKENNA'S CRANKY MOMENT #3) She also got to be held by Reba, until we had to fly out of there to meet my in-laws for a very early dinner (I'm still on central time, mind you).
Oh, and I haven't slept.
Dinner with in-laws at Snack-n'-Pack. (MCKENNA'S CRANKY HOUR #4) She really needed to nap but just didn't want to close her eyes with all the people and noises and lights around her! Oh my.... Then back to Grammy's for a nap, bath, bottle, then bed! Whew! I've been up for more than 36 hours!!!!!
TUESDAY Take Mom to hospital bright and early, then go back to bed! I think we're both still exhausted! Pick Mom up and then drive over to visit the girls that I used to babysit (who are now 8 &12!). Back to Grammy's for dinner and a visit from Aunt Julie and Baby Cousin Ava.
WEDNESDAY Hospital. Shower then run errands to Wal-mart, Verizon store ($42 for a battery?!?!), then breakfast at my beloved Sheetz. Oh how I've missed you.....
Then a short jaunt up to Slippery Rock to visit with Sonya, Anna, & Monique at Airport Orbit, a travel-extraordinaire company that I used to work for (and live above). They just ate her up! Back to the hospital to pick up Mom, and I see Vanessa and two of her 3 kids, Victor and Naomi, about to get on the elevator! We stand and talk for a while and Victor says, "Excuse me, I have something very important to tell you...." How polite! (You'll find out the important thing later....)
Take Grammy home, then it's a much needed nap time for all. In the evening we drive out to my sister Julie's house and visit with Ava, Mark, and Julie. Two huge trash bags full of baby clothes, and a sack full of Rice Cereal later, (plus another Sheetz run) we're back home and ready for bed!
THURSDAY Hospital. Back to bed. Hospital again. Then Mom gets her hair finally cut and colored by the mother of the girls I used to babysit (Follow that? I just saw them all on Tuesday). It was so long and so gray and thinning and in dire need of some help. What a pick-me-up, what a nice boost for my mom! It's colored and highlighted and cut and styled and so refreshing!! It took us a while because Mom was so exhausted, but it finally got done!
After that, we rested and took a bath, and went over to Hope's house so Mckenna could meet her new boyfriend, Baby Bekk. We took pictures of them laying on a couch, "holding hands," and "in love." We're going to show them at their wedding, 20 years from now!!
On to dinner at Chili's with Becca and Emily, while the baby ate and fell asleep in her car seat. At least it was nice and dark and quiet in there!
FRIDAY Mom's last treatment at the hospital! She graduated! Yay!!!!!
After we dropped her off, we went to Katie's house and met Baby Nicco. We drink coffee, eat doughnuts from Stanley's, talk Mommy-stuff, and take some pictures that I can't wait to see! I think Nicco fell in love too.... when it rains it pours, little girl!
Then we do laundry at the laundro-mat and pick up Grammy at the hospital for her last treatment! So exciting! I run and pick up some prescriptions for her, while the baby tries to eat lunch but ends up screaming through it instead. It takes a while to get on the road to Jeff's grand-parents house, and when we finally do, I realize that my mom's cell phone has been left behind in my car.
Turn around. Back to Butler.
Once we get to Gug and Pap's, we eat dinner and I try to nap but I can hear her screaming in the other room from too much stimulation. FREAK OUT!!!! Then I realize that I don't have the right cell phone charger... I have my mom's. My phone dies and I haven't napped, so I just decide to get up, help calm Mckenna down, and leave their house in the very early morning after her middle-of-the-night bottle.
For the first time in her life, she sleeps nine hours! Needless to say, we didn't end up leaving until around 9:30. Then we stop in Somerset to buy a car charger, make a few other pit-stops, and by 11:00 it's time for her to eat and we're going past my in-laws house. After two other failed attempts to get them to see her again, at least we get a few more minutes to spend with them while she's changed and fed.
Actually leaving Pittsburgh at noon. After that, it's a crazy blur. All I know is that around 7 we were past Louisville when I got pulled over for doing 60 in a 55. It was an obvious speed trap (from 70 to 55 in an instant?!? Come on!) but as soon as the cop saw the SCREAMING HUNGRY BABY in the back seat, he let me go. I told him I was looking for a place to pull over with her, which I was, and was in a hurry to feed her, which I was. I had a feeling he would have just warned me anyways, but I gave the baby extra kisses for being such a good girl and saving Mommy hundreds of dollars!
Finally arrive home at 9pm CT and I can't wait to get home, eat, relax, unpack, and clean bottles (sick huh?). It was a whirl-wind trip that sounds busier than it actually was, but I was glad I was able to spend time with my mom, meet all of my friends babies, eat some good food, and try to schedule in short visits where I can.
There are two very hard things about being a new mom. One is trying to appease everybody and make sure they all get their chance to visit. God forbid someone spends 20 minutes more with the baby! It's so frustrating and I tried so hard... but I can only do what I can do. The second thing is listening to other people tell you how to raise your baby. I am the expert in my daughter, that's the end of it. I know when she needs to nap, needs to be held, wants to look around, needs to eat and is still hungry. It's very frustrating too to have to listen to people say, "Let her scream, it's ok." No, it's not!!! AHHHHHH!!!! But we'll get through this.... someday!!!
( I need to inject that my in-laws are otherwise know as Gramma Dede and Grampa Bill, Cookie and Bill, Coleen and William. Is that specific enough? But to me... in my narrative... they're my in-laws)
I've given up living on 1000 calories and eating salads until I'm green in the face. I opted for the maxi-dress and I'm giving up on pants entirely.
Meanwhile, Tater Tot is 12lb, 10oz and 23 inches long! She just got two more shots in her chubby little thighs on Friday. We're trying to space out some of her shots in case she has a bad reaction to them. I don't think that little tiny babies need all that stuff in their system when they're so little!
And, she's been babbling a lot lately. We talk. Momma-to-baby.
There is light at the end of the tunnel, my friends....
Oh, and if anyone knows anyone who is having a baby and asks what they should buy in preparation, say, "Batteries." All shapes, all sizes.... you will need them all. Do NOT (I repeat, DO NOT) buy bibs, washclothes, teddy bears, onesies, socks, baby shampoo, or hairbrushes/combs yourself. You will get a ton of that stuff at baby showers or from random passerby coming to gawk at the baby. And the hospital gives you some stuff too.
How does a ten pound baby take up an entire double bed?
As I write this, I'm precariously perched on the edge of my bed, while my precious little baby (only 22 inches long!) lays sideways in the middle of the bed... napping. And there's no good way to move her. Every scenario I can think of (transferring her gently, moving her with a blanket underneath, etc.) always ends up in a disastrous hour long burst of crying and snotty noses and tears and wailing and kicking and...
Well, it's just not worth it, my friends. So the Tater Tot is completely zonked out - sleeping on MY good pillow! - unmovable, un-TOUCHable, and frankly I resent her laziness. It's five o'clock, for Pete's sake! It's time for Mama Spud to be making dinner (or, at least, be watching Spudly make dinner...) and I have things to do! But no, my little Tot, I have to watch you while you're sleeping in my dangerous double bed of death, because every good book says not to let you sleep around all those pillows, blankets, and soft matteresses.
What can I do? Tell her not to fall asleep after an exhausting day of finding her hand and making poopies? Should I try to move her and make the long, bouncy, jarring walk down the hall to her own crib where she's sure to wake up and then be cranky because she's sleepy but doesn't want to sleep??
And, I'm going to break down and admit something that most people are afraid to admit. We're co-sleepers. Yes, I have the potatoes to admit it. We're co-sleepers. The family bed, sleep-sharing, whatever you may call it, when we're tired of going back and forth to her crib at night, we plop her down between us in bed and cling to the edges for dear life all so we can get a solid 5 hours of sleep.
I don't know how she has this control over us. She's not every a foot wide, but somehow I manage to fall off the bed every night and Spud wakes up with a crick in his neck every morning because he's contorted himself into some cheerleader-alphabet postion so he won't roll over her in the night. I may be making more of a deal out of this than it really is (I mean, come on, my shoulder will pop back in place.... eventually) but you may be wondering why we even bother.
"She needs to learn how to stay in her crib at night." "Let her cry for 5 minutes the first night, then ten, and by the end of the week she'll sleep by herself." "She'll own you if you let her sleep with you." I heard it all. And even believed some of it at first. And felt horrible guilt when I started co-sleeping in the hospital and the nurses thought I'd kill her in my sleep. To be honest, you know what you're doing when she's with you. She knows how to cry and move her head and if she DIDN'T, then she'd either have SIDS with you or in her crib, alone, where it could be hours before anyone found her.
We bother to do this, because we love to cuddle with her. She's a tiny little ball of fury, sometimes, but other times she becomes a little lovebug that I just can't let go of. And sometimes she starts off the night in her own crib. Then she comes into ours when she needs fed and we both fall asleep to the light of a Tinkerbell nightlight so aptly placed in our grown-up bedroom. Then, after the second feeding, she may go back to her own crib again until I'm done with my shower. To be more accurate, I'd call us "50% co-sleepers."
What is the fraction for 1/3 of my bed, 50% of the time?
The Tater Tot's cousin Hash Brown turned one year old yesterday! I was there for her birth and it's one of the best memories of my life.
I woke up on the morning of the 6th in a bad mood. I hopped in the shower, took the dog out and headed out to work the breakfast/lunch shift at the dining hall for the college Spud worked for. It was cold, miserable, and all I could think about was this student who kept stealing from the dining hall and would give me dirty looks while she did it.
About an hour after I got to work, my phone rang. I couldn't reach for it fast enough but I recognized my mother's ringtone and knew what was going on. My sister (Curly Fry) was having her baby today! I took my phone into the hallway and called my mother (Grammy Spud) back. Curly Fry's water had broken and they were on the way to the hospital! I ran back into the kitchen and exclaimed to my newly appointed bosses, "My sister's water just broke!"
"Well, what are you still doing here?! Go!" I started for the door.
"Wait! Will you be back in time for lunch?"
At the time, we lived in Cleveland and the rest of my family lived near Pittsburgh. It was a two hour plus drive (one-way) and she still had to go through the labor process. I said no, I don't think I'm coming back for lunch, dinner, late dinner, or even for breakfast the next morning!
I hightailed it out of there, ran home, packed a bag of things that didn't even match, and drove home to Pittsburgh. It was the longest two hours of my life. I called everyone I knew. Had updates from my mom about how Curly Fry was doing, prayed, and drove faster. Turns out, I could have taken my time, had a bit to eat, done my hair, and watched a movie!
When I got to the hospital, my mom proclaimed, "She's one and a wiggle!" meaning, just over one centimeter dilated. We'd pause every few minutes and hold her hand while she writhed in pain from the contractions. 'I'm not going to be like that,' I thought. 'She needs to breathe and relax.'
The nurses started her on Pitocin (the evil EVIL drug) and the contractions got worse. At three cm, she begged for an epidural. After 12pm, life got a little better for Curly Fry. She still had heartburn and was starving for something other than ice chips, but at least she was calmer and not in pain. She couldn't move her legs, but she was calmer.
Around 4:30 or 5:00pm, the nurses and doctors kept coming in and checking her a lot. They were worried about Hash Brown's heartrate. They tried inserting an internal monitor into the baby's scalp, putting Mama on oxygen, and turning her on her side to get the baby's heartrate to stablize. It would dip after every contraction - which is normal, but not to such extremes as they were seeing.
Just before 6:00pm, the doctor said, "That's it - we're doing a c-section!" Crying, Curly Fry signed papers, had her epidural amped up so she was numb from the neck down, and was wheeled away to be prepped for an emergency c-section.
Her fiance, Home Fry, changed into his scrubs and everyone in his family hugged and kissed him and wished him luck. They went into the waiting room but I stayed behind until everyone was out of the delivery room. I gave him a big hug and said, "I love you, you know that right? You're my brother in law, no matter what. And you're about to be Hash Brown's daddy. You be good to Curly Fry, ok? I mean it! You talk to her and hold her hand and comfort her. And if you hurt her, I'll hurt you, ok? You got it?" I gave his neck a little squeeze.
"Ow! Ok, I know! Man...!" he said.
"Ok. Now go take care of her!"
At 6:01pm, March 6, 2008 Ava Marie was born weighing 6 pounds, 11 ounces and just 19 inches long. She had black curly hair that was wispy like feathers, but thick and full enough to give her mother heartburn. While Curly Fry was in the recovery room, we watched as she was given her first bath, wrapped in warm blankets, and dressed in a tiny t-shirt and cap. It wasn't until after 8pm that my sister could finally see her baby, but when they wheeled her up to the window, it was such a beautiful sight. Her hand flew to her mouth and she started to cry and I got a great picture of our mother comforting her, while they both looked at the baby.
We stayed at the hospital until 11pm and then Grammy Spud and I went for cheeseburgers because we were starving. The weather was pretty mild and then the next day we went to visit again. As I left to go home to Cleveland, I looked outside and saw giant snowflakes falling faster and faster. Where had this come from?? It took me over four hours to drive home (usually a two hour drive) and by the time I got home, there was nearly a foot on the ground. The next day, the snow was up to my hip, which made travels back and forth to the hospital a little difficult for Home Fry and Grammy Spud.
Mom and baby were released on Sunday and spent the first night at home, just the three of them, as a new family. And now, just one scant year later, Hash Brown is healthy, happy and has three teeth! She walks a few steps and then starts to lunge forward when she gets scared of her own independence. She can say, 'Mommy, Daddy, Baby,' and one time we thought she said 'Button.' She has beautiful brown eyes and a mischevious grin that makes your heart melt. All of her dark curly hair is piled on top of her head, leaving just short, tiny ringlets underneath.
She's my beautiful niece, Tater Tot's cousin, Grammy's first grandchild, number 5 of the great grandchildren on my dad's side, and holds all of our hearts in her tight little fist.
Last night he giggled like a school girl out of exhaustion. I don't know what he's so exhausted about, I'm the one with the baby all day and night! But it helped to boost my self-confidence about my budding stand-up career (yeah right) because everything I said, he laughed like I've never heard before! At one point, he was trying to suppress his laughter so much that he was shaking, rocking the bed and about to wake up the sleeping Tot.
He rolled off of the bed and lay on the floor, tears in his eyes, shaking with laughter. And I'm not even sure what it was about! But every time he'd think it was under control, he'd start up again!
6 week checkup Well, it was disappointing, to say the least.
I made sure to read all the articles about what to expect at your six week post-partum visit. I expected an internal exam and for Dr. Blah Blah to make sure all my organs were back to normal after being shoved out of place for nine months. And I thought he would at least ask me how I was handling being a new mother and if I was experiencing any baby blues (I am, but it's manageable, really). I also thought he would say it was safe to get back to some normal things (exercising, sex, etc.) and let me know how my stitches were healing. I thought he might explain some of the thigns that happened during the birth, like how he forced me to have medical interventions and treated me like a slab of meat on a conveyor belt!
Actually, I'm wrong. I got a lot of explanations about how he pays $60,000-100,000 a year in malpractice insurance so he's wary of people who want to walk the halls during labor because they might want to do drugs during labor. That's another rant about the drug companies later...
But I didn't get a go-ahead from him about anything. I didn't get a reassuring pat on the back as I sat in the exam room and cried about mourning my delivery. He said, "This is going to sound cold, but you have a healthy baby in the end."
He smirked at me too.
That mo-fo smirked at me when I told him I was bottle-feeding. I had just finished crying and telling him how he didn't respect my wishes to do everything natural. And apparently, the fact that I was bottle-feeding and therefore "un-natural" amused him, so he smirked. I lied and made it seem like breast-feeding didn't work out for me and Mckenna, which is true in some sense. I just didn't give it the best try that I could have.
He replied, "See? Where would you be without modern bottles (and formula)? Your baby would starve!" in his country-bumpkin-doctor-twang.
I replied, "Well, no, that's why they had wet-nurses back in the day!" and put my feet in the stirrups.
As I left the office, I made sure there wasn't anything else he needed to tell me (like.. uh... have a nice life??) There wasn't. Just to go to the front desk and get your bill straightened out. So I went to the desk, flopped my chart onto it, and asked for a copy of my records because, "I need to be moving on. Away. From my doctor. Now." .................................................................................................................
Meanwhile, yes, my baby is healthy. The tot has chubby chipmunk cheeks and is starting to smile when I sing, "Good Mornin'" from Singing in the Rain to her every morning. She doesn't sleep through the night, or anything, but I wouldn't expect her to do that yet. She still needs a lot of food and I'm ok with that.
It's the getting back to sleep part that I'm starting to have troubles with.... More on sleep training later....
I started to scoop some peanut butter cookie dough ice cream and thought that it looked like a carton of yellowish-brown baby poop.
I routinely walk into a room and forget why I was going in there. I have to say to myself, "What am I here for? What am I doing? Why am I here?" I *usually* remember.
I threw away a crisp, new $20 bill. I found it. It was in with the junk mail that was in my hand with the bill.
I've forgotten to buy toothpaste at least three times. I go to Wal-Mart with all intentions of buying it and walk out with $30 worth of stuff - except the toothpaste.
The first couple weeks, I would scoop the powdered formula into the container of water to make up a pre-made batch ahead of time and lose count halfway through. It wasn't like I had a lot of scoops to count... just 6. Somewhere around 4 I'd start to forget where I was. Now I make up a larger batch in the morning when I'm well rested (sort of) and I don't have to do it several times a day.
Along the same lines, I have trouble adding. Especially fractions. I've started just estimating about how many ounces she's eaten in a day.
I was standing in the grocery store with a screaming baby, looking at my watch, and desperately trying to remember her last feeding. For the life of me, I could only remember feeding her around 2pm, although it was now going on 9pm. I knew she ate sometime in between there, I just wasn't sure when.
One day after said trip to grocery store, I completely forgot that we went and said, "Hey, we never did go grocery shopping! Why don't we go now?"
I think my baby's breath smells like Cheez-its.
My sentences change in the middle. For example, "Karen is inciting a 'mommy-hub-bub' about starting with Dora the Explorer."
Hopefully, I regain my mind soon... Isn't 6 weeks supposed to be the magical time when the baby starts sleeping through the night and your body goes back the way it was and you can have sex again and feel great???
My baby: - was 6 lbs, 4 ounces and now weighs 9 pounds! - growls when you pick her up. - mews like a kitten when she needs to burp. - makes Daddy gag with her diapers. - is getting used to the bathtub. - cries when you rub lotion on her. - almost slept through one night. - failed miserably the next night. - smiles when we sing.
Mommy: "Having a baby is like having a pet shark. You take care of the shark. You feed the shark. You may even love your pet shark. But you live in constant fear of the shark because one loud noise, one quick movement, or one false move and the shark will rip your arm off.
"Having a newborn baby is just like that.
"You speak a little too loudly around the baby and then you spend the next two hours dressing a gaping wound from being bitten by the shark. Two hours of crying and screaming and hair pulling (mine, not hers) and changing the diaper and changing it again because maybe that wasn't right and feeding and pleading and rocking and begging and crying (mine, not hers).
"It's best to tread lightly around your little pet shark."
Now, this may be a controversial subject but I'm going to go for it. I am strictly bottle-feeding my little Tater Tot. I weighed my options and decided that this would be best for both me and the tot.
I am disgusted how people will try to guilt you into breast-feeding your baby by saying that she'll become a mentally retarded axe-murderer with hay fever. Half of having a smart and healthy baby is to love and take care of her and the other half to have a happy and healthy mommy. I truly believed that it just wasn't the right choice for me to breast-feed and that if I did, I would just be miserable. I'd grow to regret my decision and to resent my baby and her constant feeding.
So I saved myself the trouble of trying to learn to nurse, infections, latching on troubles, and enduring cracked and bleeding nipples only to have to give up and feel like a failure. I went straight for the bottle and didn't look back.
I had a moment of post-partum blues one night after a particularly troublesome night and day of trying to get the tot to take enough formula and at the right times. Because I could see how much she was getting at each time, I was obsessively focusing on the amount of each bottle and I was crying in the bath tub, afraid that she was going to starve. I toyed with the idea of trying to start to supplement with breast-feeding because I still had some milk available.
But, eventually, she and I worked out what was wrong and learned to accept that sometimes she's just not as hungry as she may be some other days. Switching to a gentle formula helped too and I learned to let go a little bit. As long as she's peeing and pooping and happy and healthy and chubby - that's all that matters! She's still eating and I need to stop worrying about exactly how much down to the 1/4 ounce!
Don't let anyone tell you that bottle-feeding is so much easier. I just assumed that you stick the bottle in their mouth and it's done, but sometimes it's a long process with the same latching and sucking problems one would have if they were nursing. Feeding a baby can be frustrating, but it is important to realize that no matter how you do it - you're still providing nurishment for your child! I still have a chance to bond with her, snuggle close, and look into her eyes. And I don't feel pulled apart in every direction by being forced to nurse because I can hand Spud a bottle if I want to go have some "Mommy time" and not feel guilty about it at all!
In the end, if she is ever upset that I bottle-fed her, I'll just say that I did it to benefit her because she deserves the happiest and best mommy she can get. It's important to do what's right for you and your lifestyle, and not to let the "Breast-Feeding Nazis" influence you. I was comparing it in my head to being pro-choice. While an abortion may not be my personal choice, I'm not about to tell someone that they shouldn't have one. That's not my place because I have no idea what's best for them in their lives. And bottle-feeding is what's best for me in my life right now.
We'll see what will happen if I ever have any other Taters.....
Mommy & Tater Tot Take a Walk I hate walking by myself. I feel awkward and soon enough I get bored and start talking to myself. Inevitably, I'll be singing away and some guy in his huge, honkin' "I'm from the South and don't you forget it" pickup truck will pull up beside me at a street light. Then we'll have that awkward moment of, "Did you see me singing to myself? I wasn't.. wasn't doing anything.. umm... Will that light turn green already???"
But for some reason, I'm more comfortable taking a walk around town with the Tater Tot. I pack her up in the baby sling and we walk the 8 blocks down to the riverfront. I've done it a couple times now (it's 71 degrees here, in February - don't worry, she's not freezing!) and I think she enjoys it! The gentle rocking while I walk reminds her of being in my belly and she's not in a stroller, away from me, with the sun shining in her eyes and cars and fumes assaulting her. She's tucked away, close to my body, where I can hug her and pat her back if she starts to get upset. Plus, it's good for me to carry a little bit of extra weight to build some strength in my arms and back (as well as all the good exercise from walking!).
The other day, Tot and I walked down to river and passed by the court house. We recently had an ice storm and there are still a bunch of tree limbs and debris on the ground. I noticed people cleaning it up, like they're doing all around town, but then I noticed the van next to them. On the side of it was printed, "Daviess County Prison."
Then I read the men's t-shirts. Their MATCHING t-shirts, as well as matching pants and hats. "Daviess County Inmates." Now, I know that they're paying their debt to society and doing their time and are out on a work-release program because of good behavior and there is a strong possibility that these inmates may be in there for only tax evasion but.... I was walking very close to INMATES! AND ONE OF THEM HAD A CHAIN SAW! A chain saw! To cut up fallen branches ----- and my limbs! Granted, he couldn't get the damn thing to start up but I didn't see an officer anywhere and Joe Convict had a dangerous weapon near my baby!
So, I start talking to myself. "What do I do? Mama, it's ok, they're probably not even going to notice you. There are plenty of people driving and walking by and you're being elitist. Just let it go. Ooh, the 'Walk' sign is going - to the right. I could... no, I shouldn't. They'll know that I'm crossing because of them. Maybe I just... want to look in the window of that shop over there. Yeah, yeah, that's it."
I give Tot a reassuring pat. And sprint across the street just as the orange hand starts flashing.
Ideas for upcoming blogs that I think about in the shower:
- Baby products that they should make, but don't.
- The first bloody 48 hours after giving birth that will scare you more than the actual delivery.
- How to train your husband (spouse, baby's daddy, etc.) to know exactly what your baby needs, so he doesn't have to wake you up even on those nights he promises to take care of the baby ALL night for you. Not that you're bitter.
- What to buy with the random $25 gift cards that people throw at you when you have a baby (or get married).
- Foods/drinks you can eat again!
- Things that you thought were once important about childbirth that aren't any more.
Monday, January 19th, started off with my now weekly doctor's appointment at 9:20am. Everything seemed to go fine until the doctor noticed a bulge on my right side while I was laying down. He said, "Does that baby look sideways to you?" I said no, that's just the way her feet lay and that she's usually in a "7" configuration - her feet under my ribs, her bum in the middle of my tummy, and her head straight down. He checked me to see if I was progressing and then measured my tummy. At 38 weeks, I should have been 38 cm from my pubic bone to the top of my uterus. He claimed that I was much smaller than that, even though last week I was supposedly right on track - 37 cm for 37 weeks!
The doctor said he wanted to get an ultrasound to see how big she was and it turned out she was in the 10th percentile for weight and size. They estimated her weight to be 5lb, 14oz and assumed the cause to be a problem with the placenta. Apparently, it had stopped producing nutrients for her and she stopped growing. The doctor said that the best course of action would be to have her on the outside, rather than in so she could thrive (even though she would only be a week and a half early). He quickly scheduled an induction to be started Tuesday night at 8pm. My responses were that my mother is flying in on Wednesday afternoon and that my 26th birthday was on Tuesday. He wanted to put me in the hospital right away, actually, but I had breakfast that morning and they like you to not have eaten for 8 hours before an induction.
So the rest of Monday, and through Tuesday (my birthday) was spent cleaning the house, packing my bags, doing laundry, buying preemie clothes, going for a birthday dinner, and putting finishing touches on the nursery. By 8pm on the 20th, we were ready to go to the hospital.
And then, I got a back cramp. And then a few in the front. And a few more back and front.
When they hooked me up to a monitor, once we arrived in the Labor and Delivery Unit, I was contracting around every four minutes and was one centimeter dilated. I wanted to go home and work through this on my own but that idea was shot down because the doctor and nurses really wanted this baby to be out soon. With all the problems with her growth and the placenta, we all agreed that it was best to start on Pitocin and try to get her out of me as soon as possible. Which was a shame, I thought, because my body KNEW what it had to do and was going at it's own pace to safely birth this baby. And the doctor didn't have enough confidence in my body's own ability to progress. At least they didn't need to use Cervadil or Cytotec to help prep for dilation - I was already on my way!
I talked with the nurse (Sue - wonderful lady) about my wishes for wanting to give birth as naturally as possible, to use the bath tub to help labor, to be able to sit and walk and kneel and lean as I needed to, and how I wanted to wear my own nightgown to give birth. All of my requests were denied. I also was not able to eat or drink for over 24 hours (once it was all done with) and with all of these frustrations and limitations.... I started to cry. Nothing seemed to go like how I wanted. One thing after another that I had read about, been told to request, and given advice upon was quickly been cast aside like my wishes didn't even matter. When I asked if I can try a natural method of induction, my nurse said, "Your doctor doesn't really like to do that kind of stuff." Well, he's not the one pushing a baby out of his whoo-ha!!
So after my crying spell, the nurse came back in and asked me why my chest was red and splotchy (if you know me, you know that when I'm nervous, upset, over-heated, or stressed out that my chest breaks out in hives). I said simply, "It does that sometimes," and then she noticed that I had been crying. She pulled up a chair and sat and talked with me for a long time about my birthing experience. That's when things started to change for me and I started to relax a little about everything. Sue said that what really matters is having a healthy baby and I knew that deep down inside, I think. Relaxation had to be key and then we tried to change things up a little bit so I wasn't stuck in the bed all night long. She got a rocking chair and slid it into my room so I could sit (even though I was on a MILLION monitors and wires), which was nice of her.
6am finally arrived, as did my doctor (who had been absent and sleeping peacefully all night long - unlike us!). After 10 hours on Pitocin, I was still at 1cm so he decided to sweep my membranes. Which hurts. Very much. Then, without hardly talking to me or looking at me, he asked my nurse for the amnihook to break my water. I started to object because then I would have to be confined to the bed, not even allowed to get up and go to the bathroom. He just said, "You're not going to progress on your own," and went ahead anyways. I thought that wasn't very fair because I MIGHT have been able to progress on my own if I was allowed to move and walk and bounce on my birthing ball (which was still sitting, deflated, in my tote bag).
8am - still 1 cm. The rest of this hour is a little personal, but lets just say that Jeff was a trooper and helped me out a lot. Some very embarrassing instances, and lots of crying and apologizing, but my body is just doing the things it does while giving birth! I get a new nurse named Karen who encourages me, tells me about her 7 natural births, and wants me to flip and flop from side to side and most important of all - RELAX!
9:30am - still 1cm. I start asking about my pain relief options. I absolutely don't want an epidural (in my mind, Pitocin + Epidural = C-section!) but I start asking about Staydol. They mention morophine but I rule that out because that just seems so... extreme. Right? Isn't morophine, like, for drug addicts??
9:45am - I ask if they can just get a syringe ready of Staydol for me. Just in case.
10am - These contractions are out of control. I have about 15-30 seconds of relief between each one and am not relaxing at all! It doesn't help that my bed is as hard as a rock, I keep having to pee, and my stomach feels like I've taken Saran Wrap and suctioned the baby to me. I can now feel every kick, every knee and elbow, and everytime I lay on one side and switch to another - everything "melts" down towards the bed. The lack of amniotic fluid is really an odd sensation!
Oh, by the way, I'm still 1cm after 14 hours of labor. I give in and get some Staydol. Jeff is able to take a nap (he was getting WAY too cranky and I was pretty "snappy" too) and I don't neccessarily nap, but I zone out during my contractions. I began focusing on a little icon of a TV on the side of my hospital bed. It works. We play some music and I begin to visualize the lyrics. Stevie Nicks was doing some awesome things in my drug induced haze. I also tell my nurse, who's name is Karen also, that we're both cool because we spell our names "K-A-R-E-N" and not some retarded way like, Caryn.
12pm - Whoo-hoo! 6cm! The window is also closing on whether I'd like another dose of Staydol. Thinking I had a lot more time to go until she arrives, I say, "Yes, please!"
12:30pm - I get a strong urge to push all of a sudden. I'm shaking, starting to go crazy, can't keep my eyes open because I'm on just a bit too much medicine, and these contractions are one on top of another. I yell out, "Can we turn this frickin' Pitocin off?!? I need a chance to catch my breath!" Then it feels like I have to retch. But not upwards - downwards. My body curls and tightens on it's own, like I'm going to uncontrollably vomit. It's the oddest sensation that no one really ever explained to me before. They check me again. 10cm. I've progressed 10cm in 2 and 1/2 hours!
But my lovely doctor is no where to be seen. In fact, I've actually only seen him for 5 minutes when he broke my water! Apparently, the good doctor is in the parking garage, on his way into the Labor & Delivery Ward. They tell me to "Heeheehoo" breathe in order to stave off the uncontrollable urge to push. I guess it works, but I would rather just hurry up and do it. They strap an oxygen mask to my face and before I can protest, they say that it's not for me, it's for the baby. That's enough to make me keep it on, even though it's hot and forces my stinky breath back into my nose!
Finally, the Great Nurse Karen says, "He's here, go ahead, start pushing," and she gets into position. She's a great coach, as is Jeff who stays by my side and helps hold me (and my right leg) up. Jeff told me later that everything happened so quickly once it was showtime. The nurses wheeled in tables full of instruments, my bed was raised up to standing height, the overhead light dropped down from the ceiling and was turned onto full blast. Furniture was moved out of the way and our computer and blankets were all shoved into closets. I had no idea about any of this. And even though I wanted my glasses on, I totally forgot about them once it was time. Turns out, they weren't so important after all.
I heard someone say, "See? That Staydol did the trick! You just had to relax!" That made me feel better, even though the most recent dose was bothering me because I just couldn't keep my head clear and focused. Then the good doctor finished his cheeseburger, wiped off his mouth (I assumed), and strolled leisurely into the room. He waited, at my crotch, with his arms and palms open like Jesus, and just stared non-chalantly. Karen, the awesome-ness, started helping me out saying things like, "Get mad, Karen! Get mad at Dr. (Blah Blah)! Come on! Push! You're doing it! She's right there!" When she told me to get mad at him, it didn't take much. I just laughed (yes, laughed, in the middle of the most painful thing ever) and had a renewed strength.
My blood pressure cuff went off on my right arm at one point during a push and I yelled, "Get this frickin' thing off of me!" I waved my arm and Jeff was totally confused, thinking that I was talking about my hospital gown. Another nurse knew what I was talking about and hit the switch to shut it off. I had been concerned earlier that my blood pressure was getting too high (150/90's - eek!) and that interventions were going to have to happen. But luckily, everything turned out just fine!
The baby nurse, Thelma, was a kindly old woman, who I later found out had been there for over 40 years. She saw me in distress and looked at me and said, "You need to relax in between contractions (pushes). Just think of a beach." My eyes, she said later, had a twinkle in them when she said that and Jeff started to talk to me about our wedding just three and a half years earlier on the beach. It was enough to help me calm down and then, all of a sudden, there was her head.
It was the oddest looking thing. At first, I thought her head was really small, like a doll's. Turns out, it was just the tip of her "cone-head." A few more pushes, and then there she was. They told Jeff to get his camera ready and he took a few pictures of her getting wiped off and the cord clamped. Turns out, too, that I forgot to mention that I wanted the cord to be cut after it stopped pulsing. Guess that's not as important as I thought either.
As soon as she's out, they rip the oxygen mask off of me and I pull my hair out of the disgusting ponytail that it's in. Ever the narcissist, I fluff out my hair and await my first picture with my daughter. Then they tell Jeff to cut the cord and I rip the camera out of his hands (seconds after birth, mind you) and take a picture of him cutting the cord!
Then she's placed on my stomach, "cream cheese" and all and I kiss that little, screaming face. God, she's beautiful! Baby Nurse Thelma takes her to the warmer and she and Jeff fill out paperwork while I'm being worked on and cleaned up (which, by the way, still hurts.... a lot). He asks me, "Kathryn, right? With a 'y'?"
I answer, "Yeah, whatever! ARruughhhh!!!!"
"Honey, do you want her to have a Hepatitis B shot?"
"Oh my God, I don't care! RRaawwwrrrrr!!!"
She's wrapped up, cleaned up, and so is her mommy. They leave us alone for a little bit and I say hello to my little Mckenna Kathryn. 6 pounds, 4 ounces. 18 inches long. January 21st, 2009**. Just one day after my own birthday. What a wonderful birthday present!
More to come about the days following.....
**As a friend of my dad's mentioned, she'll never have to live one day under the Bush administration. :-D