Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Postpartum stomach: the effect of living backwards

You know how I posted weekly tummy pictures, getting pregnanter and pregnanter?

Watching your body back out of pregnancy is much more bizarre.

I haven't documented it with photos because truly, it's not a pretty picture.

So, I don't know what it was like immediately after Jordan popped out, since I didn't get out of bed for another day, but once I got up, I noticed how strange my stomach was.

I was used to it being up under my boobs. It was sort of like it just...fell.

It was back to maybe six months pregnant. But low and soft and droopy, like a deflating balloon. And it just progressed over the following weeks along those lines. To five months, four, three...And stayed somewhere around there.

Just a little low pooch. Soft, rather than firm.

On Sunday my mom took Jordan for the whole day as her anniversary present to us. In the morning Nick went for a run, which I can do, but I kind of hate how the motion jiggles my scar. Hell, I hate that I use the verb jiggle to describe the action of my stomach.

So I headed to the gym with the big red button in my office building.

Where I ran into my trainer. Who said as soon as I can work out hard, he is going to kick my non-pregnant ass.

All I could say is, dude, I cannot wait.

Monday, September 28, 2009

One of many reasons I will never be named a goodwill ambassador to anything

I love the boy, I do I do I do.

You know I do, right?

That said, the running in circles circus that is having an infant at home is just the most extraordinary birth control. Some days it makes me want to clamp my uterus shut for all eternity.

So the other night, one of Nick's colleagues said, "You know how you guys refer to him as "The Boy"? What if you have another boy? Then what will you call him?"

I looked sideways at Nick, who has every intention of impregnating me again, and said, "Well, if we DO have another child, we'll be buying him or her from Thailand. So the gender won't be any surprise."

She laughed, thinking I was joking, and said "And then you can name him something like Maddox. You can be very Angelina Jolie!"

"In fact, maybe we'll just call him Angelina."

"But then he'll ask you why all the kids at school tease him about his name."

"Not if we never teach him English."

Sunday, September 27, 2009

One big year later

We got engaged after only knowing each other - and I mean from very first laying eyes on each other - for about 10 weeks.

When you think about it, it could've been a very bad situation.

But neither of us wound up being an axe murderer, and actually, as we got to know each other, we found that the things we had initially believed about each other and our characters were absolutely true.

I absolutely adored our wedding. And I feel so lucky that my dad got to see me get married. He loved Nick, and I know it made him feel good to know that I was with someone who loves me for me, completely and absolutely.

Hell, it makes me feel good.

People say the first year is the hardest. And it was, boy was it, but that had nothing to do with our marriage.

Truthfully, I don't know how I would've survived this year without Nick.

I was thinking the other day about how happy I am to be with him, and how I couldn't imagine being married to anyone else.

So I said this. Well, I thought I did.

What I said was, "You know, I can't think of a single other person I'd rather be married to."

Turns out, doesn't exactly have the same effect.

He gave me a look and said, "That's probably for the best, you know."

Well, yah.

I'm so happy to be married to you. Happy anniversary, Nick.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

To sleep, perchance to dream - ay, there's the rub

You spend months and months just waiting for this little human to come out. You are so excited to see him. You can't wait to get to know him.

Finally! Finally he arrives!

And you wait and wait and hold your breath pray for him to go to sleep.

I decided the other day that I needed to stop doing that, to appreciate him in the here and now, because his here and now changes daily.

This is not to say that I've fully succeeded, that I'm never all, "Just sleep. Please, please, pleeeeeeeaaaaase sleep." Not because he is tired, but because I am.

And then he will happily sleep in your arms. But often, not so much out of them. Which means no sleep for you.

He can fall asleep within a second flat. Me, it takes me a while to relax and drift off. So very often, I will just be edging into the calm blue pool of lovely, misty sleep.

And I'll hear little grunty baby noises.

I'll silently chant, "Don'twakeup! Don'twakeup!"

And there I go, wishing more sleep on him.

Regarding sleep, one of the things we're learning is that he needs to wind down at the end of the day.

This seems funny, being that really, he spends his day eating, pooping, peeing, having his diaper changed, sleeping - although not a lot, crying, flailing his arms and legs in an attempt to get to know them, and looking around.

How wound up can he get?

But the days that he's had visitors, or we've had an outing, or we've been LOOKING! at a lot of stuff! or using! our! limbs! into late in the evening, he gets super agitated. You can see his eyes getting all puffy and tiredy, and you know he's exhausted.

You're sure he's about to drift off.

But instead of letting himself go, suddenly he's all, "I want to nurse! No, I don't! I want to look around! Ha! Kidding! Hungry! No, wait, just feel like punching my arms in the air! Maybe I'll kick kick kick! Mama! I'm hungry!"

And so I'd try to nurse and get punched and kicked, and then I give him a stern talking-to about how to treat his mama.

Like this got me anywhere.

We spent several nights going around and around with this. And finally, we swaddled the shit out of him, shushed and rocked him, and put him down.

He was outraged. For like 30 seconds. And then, sound asleep.

Monday, September 21, 2009

One month: being so many different sizes in a day is very confusing.

Saturday marked a month since Jordan was born.

We made it! A month!

We've all grown immensely in this time.

Jordan, he's a lot more awakey and present now. Instead of eating and falling right asleep, he spends a lot more looking at us, looking around, taking in the world. We look at him, and we think he's just the most beautiful thing we've ever seen.

How did we manage to make this perfect little human?

But getting to the point where we can step back and sigh with relief and happiness once in a while has taken some time and struggle.

Nick, in the beginning, Nick pretty much thought I was on vacation.

I knew he did, and it gave me this constant, bubbling below the surface, rage towards him.

Our second day home from the hospital, he looked around the bedroom, which was a complete chaotic mess. And being super tidy, I could see him getting more and more agitated.

I was lying in bed, still on pain meds - less than a week post-surgery - and I knew, I just knew what was coming. I was all, "That asshole is going to ask me to clean up."

And his very next words were, "Do you think tomorrow you and Betty could tidy up?"

To say I lost my shit would be an understatement.

But in his eyes, he was staying up with the boy and me, and then getting up in the morning and working 10-12 hours, and then coming home and working on the house and diving in again.

He was working really hard, with no break.

Where as I, in his mind, could sleep during the day.


We were just past week two that it really hit home for him how hard this was, and that I was in crisis.

He came into the kitchen with the boy - whose mouth was wide open, ready to eat, as usual - to find me sobbing into sink. I'm not kidding. There I was, soapy breast pump in hand, bent over, sobbing dejectedly into the crook of my arm.

"I can't do this! I hate my life!"

And I did. In that period, I hated my entire life.

Tori was in town, and Nick sent me out into the sun with her. He'd take the boy, and I should do whatever I wanted.

I was, at this point, on my pump or feed every two hours schedule, but that is a whole nother story. But even so, this bit of freedom helped a great deal. Although I was still in the never-want-to-go-home place.

But a few hours out is a few hours out, you know?

And when I returned home, I napped. I didn't rush to feed the boy, or to help at all. I left Nick and the boy to their own devices.

Because I just couldn't deal.

And for Nick, a whole day with Jordan made him realize just how demanding an infant is. And how actually, you don't really have time to sleep. Or pee. Or eat. Or do much of anything except meet! the! baby's! needs!

This changed his perspective and his behavior entirely. He returned to the super-supportive person I married.

I reached out for help, both mentally and physically. Thank God. It made all the difference.

Nick started doing more and more with Jordan, recognizing that while he does have a full-time job and he doesn't get a break, I don't really either.

Gramma Betty is happy to spend as much time as we want or need with him. I just had to ask. And I hated to ask and inconvenience her. And she didn't want to intrude.

So now, at one month, even though it sometimes still feels like we're living in a war zone, struggling for survival, those days are fewer and farther between. We're all much more used to each other, and we've almost gotten into a rhythm.

At a month, I think our Jordan knows that he is so very loved. He is more at ease, and less freaked out about the world.

But still rightfully suspicious of technology.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Change in perspective

Everyone said my perspective would change once I had a baby, and so far, it is true in myriad ways.

For example, I had a dentist appointment today. I've needed to have a lot of work done, and they couldn't do X-rays while I was pregnant.

And I have to tell you, I've always dreaaaaaaded the dentist. I have never been anything approaching relaxed at the dentist's before.

This time, it was practically like I'd snorted Xanax prior to arriving.

The fact that I only realized when sitting in the waiting room that my black shirt was studded with the shredded bits of Kleenex that clearly got washed with the darks and distributed throughout the laundry didn't faze me one bit.

It was clean. And so was I.

I held a People magazine with two hands. I snuggled into the reclining dental chair. The farther back they leaned me, the better. I almost napped in between procedures.

I go back in two weeks for more. It's kind of exciting.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

And then you wind up with a cabbage leaf on your boob

I don't know if you've ever used the words "engorged" and "my breast" in the same sentence.

If you have not, let me just tell you, it is a very hurty proposition.

And come to think of it, how often does one use the word engorged anyway?

The Engorgement happens when your breast fills with milk, but then doesn't get emptied, or not adequately anyway. And so then milk won't come out and it hurts like all fucking hell and a duct can get clogged and you can wind up with an infection.

The very idea of a boob infection just makes you do a cringy little twitchy dance, doesn't it?

So your engorged breast essentially looks like an overfilled balloon - it gets all huge and shiny and hard. And huuuuuuuuuuuuurts.

And you try to keep nursing to help get the milk out, which, until things improve, only serves to annoy your progeny.

My lovely boy awoke at 5:30 am to eat. And instead of being all, "Yay! Boobie!" he was all fussy and kicky.

Which annoyed me. Because if you are going to wake me up at 5:30 am, you are most definitely NOT invited to kick me in the abdomen. As if this needs saying.

So I was all, "Goddammit! No with the kicking mama in the scar!"

Out of context that would sound really bizarre-o, wouldn't it?

As it turns out, he wasn't getting any milk on that side, which was annoying him. Which he vented with kicks.

When I figured this out I felt bad about the profanity, but what can you do.

I spent my entire day working on my breast. Hot compresses. Massage (owfuckowowow!). Pumping (to no avail). Nursing (also to no avail). And starting again from the top.

An entire day trying to unclog my boob.

Finally I put a cabbage leaf on it - a suggestion on kellymom, which is a really helpful breastfeeding website. Also, I took an hour nap with the cabbage while the boy was sleeping.

It definitely helped.

And as I type, I'm holding a mashed fenugreek seed compress to my chest.

Which just goes to show that you will do pretty much anything for love.

Also, it's worth mentioning that if you ever have too much time on your hands, you should try calling around for fenugreek seeds.



Monday, September 14, 2009

The Suppository. Alternate title: The man I love.

When you enter the hospital on Tuesday night and haven't had a bowel movement by Saturday, the OB on duty suggests you try The Suppository.

And in case you're wondering why this story? Now? Because I had to write it before it got lost forever. Which, in my world, would be a travesty.

So. The Suppository.

It's not out of the blue. You've worked up to it.

After the baby is born, they start asking you if you've passed gas. Until you do, they only let you eat clear things. Good thing my Midwestern roots instilled a passion for Jello.

They ask about the gas every two hours.

And then, when you finally do, and it turns out to be while the very nice Canadian nurse is supervising you while you squarch your vagina for the first time, you're both so proud and so doped up that you announce it to her.

"I did it!"

She's very supportive.

And then they start asking if you've had a bowel movement.

Which you cannot imagine doing, because you are certain that pushing at all will just cause your abdomen to split wide open.

But they ask, every time they come in to check on you.

So finally, you get to Saturday. And a suppository sounds good.

Now, my nurse that day was this very kind but no-nonsense woman. She had a thick Massachusetts accent. She was tall and sturdy, with short, matter-of-fact brown hair.

All around the kind of unflappable, unfrivolous person you could imagine keeping children in order, farming, making her own clothing, and just generally colonizing these United States.

She came in to give me pain meds that evening, and I told her I probably needed the suppository. She returned with it immediately.

While she was putting on gloves, Nick, who was sitting in the corner, said, "If you'd like, you could just put it on the tip of my finger and have her back up into it."

She didn't crack a smile. In fact, she gave him barely more than a cursory glance.

He continued, "Really, it would be no trouble at all."

As he said this, he wiggled his pointer finger in a circle enticingly.

Me, I started to laugh. Hard. Which, as you'll know if you've ever had your abdominal muscles sliced, hurts like a motherfucker. Even loaded up on Vicodin.

So I was laughing but also crying. And begging Nick, who was continuing along these lines, to stop.

The nurse, ignoring him completely, said, "Could you please roll on your left side?"

I did, realizing this left my ass facing Nick. I never, ever expected to be this close enough to anyone. But life is full of surprises.

So there I was, bare, waiting-for-suppository ass facing husband, tears streaming down my face, clutching a pillow to my abdomen, shaking with laughter and pain, saying "Ow! Stop it!"

Which only egged Nick on.

"Or I can be of any other assistance. . ."

She did an extraordinary job of ignoring him.

I know she thought we were nuts. This made me laugh harder.

I cannot even remember what Nick was saying- probably offering some other inane suggestion - when she parted my butt cheeks.

And stated loudly, "You have hemorrhoids!"

I giggled like a maniac.

And Nick, who had lost his ass view with the nurse in the way, asked, "Would you say it looks anything like a dolphin's blowhole?"

I tell you, I could barely look her in the eye the rest of the time she was on duty.

Friday, September 11, 2009

I walk the line

For me, it's always so hard to tell where normal ends and too much begins.

Because so much of my life is on the slightly too much side.

So I saw one of the OBs this morning to talk about it. Because I was pretty sure that all the crying and struggling were on the other side of normal.

And she was in agreement.

I'd been wondering if it's just hormones and stress and sleep deprivation or the beginning of postpartum depression. So I made an appointment thinking that if I got on a more even keel, I'd cancel.

But with one thing after the other, I had to be honest that I was not getting evener-keeler.

Because don't you think that things like these can only be signs?

1. You cry over spilled milk.


The spilling, it throws you into a fit of hysterical sobbing. And although you are able to pause briefly to see the humor in this, it only makes you cry harder.

And while you are crying, and trying to assure your crying baby that breakfast is honestly on the way, you start thinking things like "Bird in the hand, two in the bush. A stitch in time saves nine. And what the fuck does that really mean anyway?..."

This makes you feel even crazier.

2. The DC DMV seems like a relaxing little break.

You had to go so that you could change your address and thus have the correct zone parking to park on your own street. You dreaded and postponed until it got to the point where you simply could not put it off any longer.

And so your mom hangs out with your baby while you go. And you stand in the line that stretches out the door, and you explain what you need and show your documents, and you take your number.

And then suddenly, as you're sitting there in this big old building in Southwest, crammed in with the rest of the driver's-license-needing hoi polloi, you catch yourself thinking the following:

"This really is a nice, quiet, organized place they have here."

3. Once you're out! alone!, you never want to go home.

Because on the way to the DMV, you realize the following: You have $40 in your wallet. You have two credit cards. You have your passport, in case they need another form of ID.

And you are not that far from the airport.

It takes every last shred of your self-control to return from aforementioned errand.

I put this all lightly, but the truth is, it's not. I've been crying and resenting - both the kid and Nick - and just wanting to LEAVE. And then feeling so guilty, because I have husband I used to really enjoy and I have this gorgeous, lovely baby.

And I kept having these fantasies of just walking away.

But I believe this will all get better with a little help. And better living through chemicals, you know? So please keep us in your kind thoughts. We're all trying.

Hugs to all, and happy weekend.

Friday, September 04, 2009

My sweet tender little bamboo shoot

I know I have been all lalala! Baby! Birthdays! Squarch bottles! Babybabybaby!

It's not fake. But it's not the whole picture.

But before I launch into it, I want to say that once again, you all have been so remarkably supportive and excited for us and lovely. I can't tell you how much I appreciate you reading and commenting.

I'm sorry I don't comment back, and I'm not reading your blogs regularly, but this is the state of my life at the moment.

At this point, when I blog, I'm choosing the pleasure of writing and reaching out over precious minutes of sleep. You all are my window to the outside world, to which I often feel I'm clinging by my fingernails.

Ah, the drama. I know.

So little J really is spectacular in so many ways. We wanted him so much and we love him like crazy.

But this is the fucking hardest thing I've ever done.

There is a lot of melting going on. I alternate between having my heart and soul melted into a big bowl of chocolate fondue sweetness, and being so upset and exhausted that my brain melts to the point where I cannot do much besides cry.

And oh, I've cried. A lot. A lot lot lot.

And Nick and I have fought, not a lot, but ugly. Uglier than any fight we've ever had. Much worse than the washer-dryer yelling stomping sobbing on the street corner.

I know that sleep deprivation is a method of torture, and although I don't know many torture methods or how levels of effectiveness compare, I believe it must be up there with being strapped to a cot over a fast-growing stalk of bamboo.

Honestly. Apparently it grows like an inch a day, right through you.

Basically we walk around like zombies with bamboo shoots growing through us.

I feel like a terrible person saying this, but there have been a couple points at which, if given the opportunity, I probably would've handed Jordan to a passer-by and said, "Here. Take him. Take my tender green little stalk of bamboo far, far away."

Good thing there are no strangers passing through our bedroom. Or really, our house, for that matter.

I feel like such an asshole for this, because for one, he's my baby! And, in the scheme of things, he's a really good baby.

But I am exhausted. And so tired of being one big lactating breast - and being scared that maybe I don't make enough milk and he won't grow fast enough (the pressure! he must gain an ounce a day!) which will ultimately lead to dropping out of high school and taking drugs and eventually joining the French Foreign Legion, never to be seen again - and pair of poo-diaper changing hands.

I called Nick the other day when I'd hit the thin, sharp, chartreuse edge of utter hysteria.

"I can't do this! I cannot do this! I cannot change on more fucking diaper in a row! And now! Now! Now he is finally asleep! After hours and hours and shit and pee and shit and more shit! And I just checked and his diaper is completely fucking soaking! And so I have to wake him up and we're going to start all fucking over again!"

I might not have it verbatim, but it was along those lines, and veryvery shrill. And I was crying hard and maybe hyperventilating.

Nick was home within the hour.

I know people all over the world get through this. And many of them have very good attitudes about it. And it's not that I don't love my boy, because I do, I really do. I love him more than I'd ever have imagined.

I'm just so very tired.

Thursday, September 03, 2009


Yesterday was Betty's birthday, and we took her to Cashion's to celebrate.

And in fact, we were celebrating several things. Her birthday, Jordan's two-weeks, my two-week checkup, our first outing as a family.

Betty started out her birthday babysitting, while mama went to the OB. I thought she should do something more fun for her birthday, but she is so in love with our boy, she was just happy to spend the time.

And Jordan is all kinds of happy hanging out with her.

As for me, I'm telling you, the freedom of heading to a doctor's appointment alone, without the three hour lead-up of feeding, diaper changing, diaper changing, trying to brush teeth and put pants on, diaper changing, rush rush to get in the car already late...was fantastic.

I seriously just handed the kid to Betty and sauntered out to the car, and Nick dropped me on his way to work.


Particularly on the heels of Tuesday, which was a massive cryfest. Me much more than the boy.

So at my two-week check, my OB - who as it turned out canceled his afternoon appointments to come to the hospital to do my C-section, and did a spectacular job - said my scar is healing well. And - life-changing news! - I can start driving again!

I had a momentary urge to kiss him when he offered up this bit of freedom. I hate hate hate being stuck, and stuck is exactly how I'd been feeling.

But just as I didn't force him to pinky-swear while I was still preg, I refrained from kissing him. Really would've made things awkward, you know?

And then I took a walk in the sun after the appointment. I went to Hello Cupcake and bought Betty a four-pack. I think their lemon ones are the best.

A morning of time with adults and air and sunshine temporarily changed my life.

We then spent the rest of the afternoon in the same old feeding-pooping-feeding-pooping-sometimes sleeping cycle. Jordan, I mean. Not Betty and me.

And then Nick came home, and Betty and I got ourselves ready, semi-clean and only slightly peed on, and headed out for dinner. As a family. It was delicious in so many ways.

As it turned out, we all had a really good Betty birthday.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The postpartum vagina: a brief owner's manual

So, one of the things that I either overlooked or was not mentioned in any of those prepare-you-for-birth books was the care and feeding of your postpartum vagina.

I'm kidding about the feeding.

Also, you may have guessed from the title, but if not, I should mention that this post contains a lot of the vagina word. And maybe a bunch of details.

In case it makes you twitchy. You've been warned.

It turns out that you bleed for weeks after giving birth. As I understand it, as your uterus contracts, it gradually squeezes all the post-pregnancy stuff out.

And so you need to wear these gigantor maxi pads. These of course are held in place by underwear.

Hospital underwear. Which is not like any underwear you've seen before.

They're a very soft, these hospital undies. They're made of white, fishnet-y mesh, trimmed in the same green stripes as many dishtowels. In fact, they look like something you'd use in the kitchen.

They are disposable. They are shaped like boy shorts. They are fairly hideous.

Actually, like many things, once you get used to them, you might start to think they have a certain charm.

I am in the extreme minority in this opinion.

Mainly, they are remarkably comfortable, even with a C-section scar. I might wear them for the rest of my life.

So when they get you up to pee for the first time, they introduce you to these underwear. You have a large stash of them in a bag on your bathroom door. Along with aforementioned enormous pads.

They also give you a squirt bottle.

On a side bar, the nurse who conducted the departure class from the hospital was Filipina, with strongly accented English. And pronounced it "squarch bottle" - which is now how I think of it.

So the squarch bottle.

You fill it up with warm water before using the toilet. So that you can squarch your vagina clean when you're done.

And every time you bleed, you're supposed to change the pad. As you may assume, you go through a tremendous number of pads.

And you spend a lot of time getting tap water hot, filling the bottle, and squarching your vagina.

Although, truth be told, it's kind of like a bidet - which is something I never actually got the hang of overseas, but it really is cleansing. I kind of like the whole idea.

It's not particularly practical for when you're out of the house. And if you wanted to squarch yourself off regularly, you'd have to carry a big enough purse for the bottle. And then I suppose a Ziploc bag to carry it in. And a cloth to wipe it off...

You see what I mean?

Plus the idea of filling it up in public bathrooms is kind of icky.

And then, at work, you know there would be a whole lot of "what the fuck?" with all the squarching noise coming from your stall.

I'd have to be all, "Don't mind me! I'm just squarching my vagina!"

Yes, somebody is all crashed out and mama got some sleep last night. Hi!