My god, the last time I did a blog post I was still pregnant. With a baby. A baby who is now a little person and is, as of two days ago, 7 months old. What the 1Q&!72?! (that combination of random keystrokes really works, doesn’t it? I never get that cool of a fake swear word any other time.)
There is so much I could write about these last seven months. That they have been challenging and fulfilling and nerve-wrackingly beautiful all at the same time goes without saying. I have been so completely changed that I do not recognize the girl who was writing on this blog a year ago, the girl who knew NOTHING about having a baby but had every answer as to how she would parent one. It is amazing how you can truly go from being SO SURE of everything you want to do when you get to be someone’s parent and then how utterly stupefied, unprepared and clueless you are when it actually happens.
My labor and delivery went a little something like this:
Started having contractions on Monday the 20th at 6am. Toughed it out until 4 a.m. on the 21st after having one of the midwives tell me I was experiencing “false labor” five hours earlier (at which point I wanted to reach through the phone and strangle her). Got to the hospital at around 5, sure that I was about to have a baby. The nurse checked to see how dilated I was, hoping for a 5 or a 6. I was at 1cm. I almost lost my mind. My midwife (hey Jackie!) came in shortly after and agreed to let me stay as they monitored me and I went from a 1 to a 4 by 11 but my contractions, though painful, were not in a “consistent pattern.” I had a nurse tell me that I had a low pain tolerance and that I was in for much worse pain and to basically “suck it up.” I’m pretty sure I almost punched her.
They decided to admit me because, well, I wasn’t leaving the hospital and Jackie knew it. I agreed to have them put me on pitocin to get my contractions to where they needed to be, I was super uncomfortable because of the severity of the contractions and I asked for stadol to take the edge off, and take the edge off it did. I was so happy that I wanted to have ALL THE BABIES IN ALL THE WORLD. I told my nurse I thought she was a dick and that I didn’t like her in the beginning. Luckily she didn’t try to poison me. They gave me an epidural at 2pm (I say “they” but I mean a woman who used to be a man gave it to me. No judgement here, I’m just saying), I laid back in bed at 2:09 and my water immediately broke. The epidural had taken to my right side but not my left so I was experiencing terrible contractions on my left side and feeling nothing on my right. They fixed that problem by rolling me onto my side and letting the fluid drain there. Awesome.
Did I mention that I hadn’t eaten since 9pm the night before? I was starving. I was eating all the ice chips and all the lollipops I could get my mouth on and had Jason smuggle me in a snickers bar which I later threw up. I was freezing for a good four hours, chattering teeth and shaking limbs and the whole bit. Freezing and starving but otherwise in a fantastic mood.I hung out from 2-9, I couldn’t sleep and hadn’t slept since I woke up the morning before at 6. I was pretty delusional, I think, but in a pretty good mood, except for when I’d feel like throwing up and then pee myself. Labor is not pretty. At all.
At around 9, Jackie came back in and told me that I was at 10cm and that if I wanted or felt the urge to push, I could. I wasn’t feeling much of anything except that the epidural was just starting to wear off on the right side. At 9:15, Jackie came back in and insisted that I try pushing and then promptly left the room to go deal with another patient. Deciding that I DID NOT want to remain in the birthing position for any longer than absolutely necessary (my husband and my surrogate mom were helping to hold my legs…necessity: 1, dignity: 0), I pushed like I was trying to win a medal. With the first push, I guess Liv was already making an appearance, the nurse had to page Jackie urgently to come back into the room because I was such a kick-ass pusher. At one point, I actually let out a “hiiii-ya!”
Olivia Quinn was born on May 21st at 9:34pm with a fantastic head of dark hair and a not-so-fantastically coned head that had us all a little worried (her newborn hat barely fit down to her ears because of it). Luckily it worked itself out, and even with it, we could see that she was beautiful, and Jason may or may not have cried, and all I could think was “I am still so damned HUNGRY!” So I got food and we were left with our very own baby to try and figure out.The next few days were a blur of poop and milk and crying (mostly from me) and pure wonderment.
To say that I am a different parent than I thought I’d be is an understatement. While at a family holiday celebration recently, I had someone look at me when I said that Liv sleeps in bed with us, “Oh no,” she said, “no way, that’s just going to create problems!”
Oh! That look! I know that look, those words! You have no children and you know everything. It’s okay, I did, too, seven months ago.
Here is my suggestion for those of you who are about to have children: write down everything you plan to do/not do when you have a baby. Put it somewhere you’ll be able to access it at a later point, say, six-months in, it would be best if you could actually hide the list from yourself and then have someone send it to you at a pre-determined date. My list would have looked like this:
1. My baby will sleep in the crib from the night she comes home.
1a. This means she will NEVER sleep in our bed. Ever.
2. I am going to breastfeed her because it is the cheaper option and I will do it reluctantly.
3. I am okay with letting a baby “cry it out,” I will be unmoved by her cries.
4. I will be okay with leaving the baby with other people so that I can go have “me” time.
(numbers 2-4 could pretty much be summed up by saying that I was VERY anti-attachment parenting..)
5. I will not be any different than I am today aside from having a baby at my house.
6. I will not allow my daughter to be covered in pink, in hair bows, or to be spoiled with toys.
7. She will not be allowed to play with, see, or know that my phone exists.
This is what my list looks like presently:
WHO WROTE THAT LIST UP THERE? WAS SHE DELUSIONAL?
In short, yes. I was absolutely crazily uniformed and unprepared. I had all the answers to everyone’s child-raising conundrums. And so, I would like to apologize to all the moms I judged for co-sleeping and baby-spoiling and doing whatever it is they have to do to get by, too include:
letting the baby chew on your phone for a second while you wash your face
holding your baby in your arms while you pee
buying that toy that you’re sure will be the TOY TO END ALL TOYS because it will finally keep your baby occupied (hint, it won’t, it never will)
using a feminine pad in place of a diaper because you ran out after a long day
letting that strange man at the restaurant hold your baby while you eat dinner and then wonder if you will get her back
mastering the art of holding your baby with one arm while you wash your hair with the other while taking a bath
having your baby sleep with you because it’s easier than running to the crib to console a crying, scared, starving baby
using some dry-shampoo in your babies hair because you won’t have the time to wash it
MAYBE using some whisky in place of teething gel because you are stuck in the middle of nowhere with no one to help you at 10 pm (I don’t remember if I used the whisky on her or if I took a shot of it, but in any case, the crying seemed to dissipate).
Honestly, I wish I could go back and slap some sense into myself for thinking that I had all the answers.
The only thing I am sure that I have done right in the last seven months is love this baby with all of my heart and I hope that in the end, that will be enough.