Friday, October 31, 2008

Eating and Sleeping

So Penn is now eating! Since she finished the medication that closed her heart valves (yay!), she was given the last of my colostrum (yay!!) starting late yesterday and into today. They were giving her "microfeeds," about 4 millileters (under a teaspoon) at a time; at today's earlier feed, there was a lot of undigested milk in her tummy, but when she ate again at 5:30, there was a lot less -- a negligible amount. So her "gut is waking up," as they say.

Today's nurse was Mary, from Calgary. Very sweet. A hockey fan, of course, and very sad to see her team beat by our local San Jose Sharks every goshdarn year. She and the rest of the nurses continue to flabbergast me with their coolness. Penn had another terrifying booger today -- Randy held her first while I went and got lunch, then he went to trick-or-treat with Eli and Max while I held Penn. I intended to introduce her to Righty and see if she'd latch on again, because my milk production goes up so much when she nuzzles the raspberry (as it were) (oh god, sorry dad). But the minute I picked her up I could see she was having trouble again: breathing through her wee mouth, and unable to latch (though she really wanted to!) because her nose wouldn't work. Then she seemed to really be in trouble, and I called Mary over.

The nurses get this "nurse face" that I really appreciate. As someone who broadcasts her every emotion (no poker for me), I marvel that the nurses can glide over, smiling encouragingly, and sit my choking child up while reaching for the sucky-tube and reaching up her nose, all in a flash, before she has time to be in any serious trouble. Out popped yet another booger that had to have been bigger than her brain. How is she making such large items?! And then she was fine, but exhausted. Righty will have to wait till tomorrow; all we did for the next couple hours was sit, me with my feet up (please, please let my ankles return to normal), her curled against my chest like a little snail, fast asleep, padding her little knees and hands against me.

My iPhone playlist is so excellent, if I do say so myself. Today Penn heard at least some of the mixed-up lyrics of: Stone Blind Love (Tom Waits), Hallelujiah (Jeff Buckley), Champagne Supernova (Oasis), Baby I'm Amazed (well, i felt guilty skipping that because I knew her dad would want her to hear it, so I allowed the cheese), and The Briar and the Rose (Tom Waits again). Honestly, this was the first time I was alone with her, I think -- with Randy gone -- and it was a different experience to just focus on her, listen to the music, and not worry about anything else.

WHen it was time for her 5:30 feed, I pumped and then -- oh, my gosh, it was Halloween, and everyone was in costume, including most of the nurses (ears and tails, mostly). I made my way home, stupidly stopping at the grocery store on the way (I solemnly promise not to do THAT again), and now I'm home, waiting for Randy to come back, cooking up some nice dinners and lunches for the next few days. There's a fridge at our disposal, so all I have to do is think ahead a little and we can stop eating like crap during the day, DUH.

Tomorrow the kids come meet her. I'm nervous about this to say the least. Randy will drop me at the hospital in the morning, and bring them over in the afternoon. augh. no. my attitude is positive. yay.

The Terrifying Booger

Oh, forget the stupid birth story. If I try to catch up and bring everyone up to speed with every dramatic moment, I'll never make it to today. So: Today Penelope is in the Neo-Natal ICU, she's getting excellent care, and she is in very good shape with normal preemie problems. She is supposed to stay here until gestational week 35, which means she'd be released from the pokey on Thanksgiving Day -- apropos, because we're incredibly grateful for the care she's getting. We show up every day around noon and hang out till the nurses' shift change at 7pm.

Penn gave us a run for the money yesterday. We were still waiting to hang out with her -- it was an odd day, because she'd been moved to a quieter bay with fewer kids, but her neighbor was having a lot of consults with various doctors that meant we had to scram. (I mean, thank goodness shes not having the same consults, because she's not having any surgery or anything, but still. I just wanted to hang out with my bebe, snf snf.)

It was such a busy day that when I had to do my 2pm pump, there were no pumping rooms available, and Husband was all "you can't wait! you have to stay on schedule so your body knows blah blah something something!" so we were standing in the hallway at loose ends when a nurse came by and said "oh, we'll set you up with a bedside pump." voila, ten minutes later I was hooked up to the machine and producing like the fountains at the Bellagio.

That's when Penn started acting weird. She has these "As and Bs," apnea and bradys: her breathing slows and her heart-rate drops. It sounds alarming but most of the time she resolves them on her own. If not, she gets stimulation: pat her back, squeeze her foot to annoy her, pick her up. That, so far, has always worked. Some babies need a mask at that point but she hasn't.

But yesterday she had a bunch in a row, while I was pumping and talking to my mom, and it was alarming. I unhooked from the pump while Randy and Sarah, her nurse for the day (and wonderful, as are all the nurses, but Sarah was particularly great) were checking her to see what was wrong. Sarah said she sounded a little "wet" and had to go get some kind of replacement probe at the same time. A respiratory specialist nurse (Husband says she was at the birth, what the hell do I remember) came over and started sticking a tube up her nose. Penn was freaking out. I was coming close. And then out popped... a giant booger.

Yes, a giant booger had been making all the lights flash and the machines beep and my daughter have As and Bs.

Post-booger, things settled down and we tried some "recreational breast feeding," which is also Husband's favorite thing. She's not got enough coordination to actually breastfeed yet -- she gets her food via a tube or IV, depending on the medication she's on -- but she can latch just for shits and giggles. She did it! She and Lefty are now BFFs! And later, when I pumped, Lefty was definitely ahead! So we're going to try Righty today and see if she likes that as much, and then see how Righty does in the Pump-o-Lympics.

For those who knew about this -- she had the heart scan, and the valve closed up -- no murmur.

Head scan results should be in today, but no news is good news.

Off to the hospital!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


we interrupt this pregnancy to bring you... a baby!

wednesday night I felt like absolute crap. I was going on my third day of dull, nagging, distracting pain that didn't get worse, but didn't get better. i discussed it with my midwife and with my insurance's phone-nurse, and given where and how bad the pain was, everyone just thought it was round-ligament pain. I felt like kind of a wussmeister, because i couldn't work and just kept crying because i felt so bad and tired.

I stopped by my local natural-mommy store and picked up a belly-support band to ease my pain. it seemed to help but by the time i got home i just hurt no matter what. i lay down on the couch and just cried and cried because I couldn't imagine two more months of feeling like this. other said they'd felt the same way so i just figured i had to toughen up and get through it.

we went to bed at around 11pm and as usual, i couldn't sleep despite my exhaustion. i was just wired, hot, prickly. i felt this weird crawling sensation under my skin. at around 1am i fell into a deep sleep and awoke at 3 with the odd feeling that a balloon had popped inside me. I knew. I flinched. Randy woke and asked what was wrong; I said "it feels like a balloon popped inside me." I lay there for a moment, waiting to see if some liquid would dribble out; i expected a little adn then I'd call the doctor. I got a little. I sat up a little. Then I got a lot.

I called out my husband's name and he woke u completely. "What's the matter?" "Don't get upset. But there's a lot of liquid coming out of me. Oh my god." He ran for the phone, I called my doctor, the midwife came on the line right away. I remember the operator stopping when I started crying, asking "What was that?" and realizing i had just said "oh my god" again, and then the midwife came on. "You need to go to the nearest hospital. Are we the nearest hospital?" Yes. "Come to labor and delivery."

I was afraid to stand up. She said an ambulance could come if I was scared but we had to get in to the hospital. I just wanted to go. My husband helped me up and it just kept gushing out. I remember looking at my hand to make sure there was no blood. We put on a robe and my uggs, he pulled them on for me. We hurried down to the car. I remember driving down Cesar Chavez and him saying "I'm running some lights but it's okay, there's nobody around" and I said something like "go ahead, i trust you." We pulled up to the ER and i said "Oh, remember?" because we'd been there when my back was having muscle spasms. We got in the door and I saw the midwife. she brought us up to labor and delivery.

i went into a room. i forget how -- they verified that my "bag had ruptured." "my water broke?" "yes." okay. in walked my doctor. "Sorry to wake you," I said, and he tld me they were going to give me steroids for the baby's lungs. after that we'd hope to keep her in there at least 48 hours for her to have the full benefit, but the benefit would start immediately. he told me they were going to transfer me to another hospital and I'd eventually give birth there, maybe in 2 weeks, maybe in 5. i'd be on hospital bed-rest till then. "I'm so bummed!" he said. "I was looking forward to going through this wtih you." "I don't know any doctors tehre," i said, and he told me he'd trained there, he knew the doctors, they were excellent, and I was in the best hands. "You'll go through a mourning period for the birth you thought you'd have," he said, and I understoood.

The EMTs came in and put me on a gurney. I was hooked up to IVs of various kinds, I guess the steroids and something to stop my contractions.

More later. Spoiler: the baby is fine.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Here's what my pregnancy is like right now:

Baby and body are across the table from one another. Baby glares at body. Body glares back at baby. Baby concentrates, focuses, strains... GROWS! Body flings itself backwards in agony. Works overtime to compensate for extra baby. Finally, body adjusts, and peace reigns in the land for, oh, a week.

Then it begins again.

Holy shit, this hurts! Apparently it's "round ligament pain?" and "relaxin," the least-aptly-named hormone in all of recorded history? and just my baby resting on my lower colon??? holy SHIT. i can't sleep because the only comfortable position i can find is a modified downward dog, and that's about as restful as -- fuck. I can't focus. Everything hurts!

I'm waiting for a decent interval, please.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Four! Hours! Of Glucose!

Okay, that was brutal. I flunked my one-hour glucose test and had to do the four-hour one, a fact I am loath to mention publicly for fear that my mother will take it as permission to call up and harangue me for my eating habits. The poor woman has invented a strain of diabetes that "gallops through both sides of your family." Seriously, she says this. And yet I cannot place a single blood relative in the diabetic tribe. Not a one. My grandpa's mother had it, and died of it, quite traumatically after fasting on Yom Kippur; I have to assume that this handed-down tragedy has tainted her view of my genetic insulin-resistance. Either that or she's cuckoo -- you take your pick.

Anyway, so the test: Aieee! I had to fast for eight hours before -- no problem, I just rolled down the hill to the hospital first thing in the morning, sans coffee and breakfast. And then the process was this:

Blood draw, right arm.
Sit around.
Blood draw, left arm.
Sit around for 1 hour.
Blood draw, right arm. (Shit! OW!)
Sit around for 1 hour
Blood draw, left arm. (What the FUH! OW!)
The End

It truly does not sound like much, but an hour is an odd amount of time. Not long enough to leave, not short enough to fly past. There wasn't an internet hookup at the hospital, so when I realized I had to check in with work, I had to run like a bunny up Valencia to sit outside a coffee shoppe with free WiFi. Have you ever smelled coffee and pastry while in the middle of a 12-hour fast? While pregnant?! For that matter, have you ever run like a bunny while pregnant? Imagine a pregnant, hungry, cranky bunny with a laptop. Now take away the cute ears. That was my first hour.

Second hour, I thought, oh, I'll try to lie down. To minimize the amount of space I would take up, I leaned sideways over the magazine table. This resulted in a cramped arm, many hairy eyeballs from actual sick people also in the waiting room, and no respite from my misery. I tromped around the block, Twittered that I was starting to feel a little stoned from the lack of food and blood situation, and sat in an alternate waiting room till my iPhone alarm buzzed me back over to the lab.

Third hour. First of all, I knew I was i bad shape when I almost started crying during my blood draw. It does hurt more when your veins look like you're an extra from Trainspotting, but come on! Labor? Delivery? A pin-prick? BUTCH UP, PEEGEE! At this point, I couldn't really focus on the book I was reading, which is really a testament to how bad I felt, because it was written by the amazing Jennifer Egan. (She's too good even to envy.) At one point I actually went down the street to the hospital's coffee cart, scoped out the snack I'd have, and wrote down the address so I could be sure there was no delay in getting the cab right where I needed it.

Final blood draw: Oddly drained, I called the cab, made for the coffee cart, and pounded espresso (sorry, kid) on my way up the hill. Then it was leftover Turkish food and -- and then I was supposed to sit and work. There was no work. There was only a deep, chaotic sleep so sweaty and heartburny, it was like napping in a crockpot. I awoke with a headache, drove to my therapist's office, and announced my intention to just quit this whole pregnancy business.

After a good night's sleep (made even more sound by the absence of my husband's snoring -- i had no idea THAT was what was keeping me up!), I felt worlds better. I mean even better than I'd felt in weeks. Plus, my feet were normal-sized, and when I opened my eyes, I suddenly realized why the previous night's dinner had been so lifeless: I'd been so out of it, I'd left the kasha out of the kasha varnishkes. Murgatroids!

So the wasted day stunk, but the leeway I gave myself in its aftermath turned out to be the tonic I needed. Here's hoping this is the start of a third-trimester trend.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

My Brilliant Shrink: She's Shrinktastic!

I'm lucky and smart enough to be surrounded by great health-care professionals. Here's my in my most recent therapy appointment:

PG: I feel like shit. I'm anxious and depressed and I hate my third trimester, and I can't stop crying.
Therapist: When was the last time you felt excited about your pregnancy?
PG: Couldn't tell ya.
T: Well, let's do an exercise.
PG: [eyeroll]
T: I know, and you don't have to really mean it. You can just fake it, I don't care.
PG: Fine.
T: Tell me what a typical day will be like after your baby comes.
PG: I don't friggin know!
T: Well, imagine it.
PG: I'll probably be up at friggin five a.m.!
T: So let's not start at five a.m. What might you be doing at two in the afternoon?
PG: I don't friggin know!

It goes on like this for a while. Finally, FINALLY, my patience-of-a-saint therapist gets me chatting about how I'd been to Target to look at nursery accoutrements. I brightened slightly as I talked about how I didn't want to surrender to the Power of Pink, but that this one brown-and-pink pattern from Dwell was so pretty... it was such a tiny, tiny, and let's face it, inconsequential thing, but as T reacted with what I knew was manufactured, overzealous delight designed to encourage me -- I felt, for all the world, slightly encouraged.

It's like that rule I used to write about in women's magazines: If you don't feel like smiling, smile anyway -- because that action of the muscles releases a small amount of endorphins, and a faux smile can become real.

I'm not saying this was a cure-all. Within a day or so, I was back to feeling so blighted, I was weeping in my anxious husband's lap while Tina Fey pulled out all her Palin-tricks to cheer me up (well, not just me, but by all rights I should have been laughing at the TV, not sobbing helplessly). But the simple act of sticking my head up out of my groundhog hole of third-trimester blue period did save me, for a little while. I'll try a little positive thinking along with my kegels.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Smelly Hippies: Hating You

Oh, please cast your eyes across the announcement I got not one, but twice, from my local organic baby store.

This place is a great place to buy stuff, especially fancy organic baby stuff, but they've proven over the past months to have a seriously mentally-differently-abled staff. One gal told me they offered no prenatal classes at all. Another spent 20 minutes trying to demonstrate a simple unfold function on a stroller, nearly getting devoured, Lucille Ball-style, by the unruly contraption. But this really takes le cake:

How to have a Healing Pregnancy
We used to believe that a baby's time in the womb was blissfully peaceful - safe and protected from the influences of the outside world. We now know that everything a mother thinks and feels as well as what she eats, drinks and breathes affects the child growing inside her. In this seminar you will explore ways you can go back into your own beginnings, discover exactly what feelings, thoughts and environmental influences were operating and release any unconscious anxiety and frustration held in your body ready to be triggered by the pregnancy.

Please explain to me: Who are these cruel, fucked-up bitches? Seriously. It's not enough that every bite I put in my mouth is scrutinized (seriously, people, the coffee-miscarriage connection was only valid for women drinking more than six cups per day, so back the fuck OFF). Now, I have to worry that when I get weepy over memories, I'm screwing up my child's life -- while simultaneously looking back at my mom's pregnancy, some 40 years ago, and blaming that 29-year-old woman for my current problems?

(Seriously, people, if you want to blame my mom, there's plenty she did in the interim. We don't have to get all fucking woo-woo over the fact that she was protesting the Vietnam War and arguing about Barry Goldwater while I was in utero. I'm sure she'd agree!)

You know what? I am in no doubt that my pregnancy is triggering anxiety and frustration. I know for a FACT that I am feeling anxious, frustrated, and pretty depressed at the moment. So, you know, a nice SOOTHING description of the class would be nice.

But couching it in guilt-inducing, blame-the-mommy-and-the-mommy's-mommy terms like this? That's just shitty and rude. And my baby thinks so, too.

We're driving by later to hurl granola at the windows.

Postscript: my awesome gyno just called to say I have to do another test. Since it involves sitting around for three hours, she said, "Ya know, you just stroll up the street, go to the [name of this store]. I'm all, "No friggin WAY, those crunchy hippies are working my nerves right now," and told her why. And she laughs and we discuss the rest of my lab results and then, right before she gets off the phone, she goes, "So you're physically fine, but DON'T LET THOSE EMOTIONS HURT YOUR BABY!"

That's I love her.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Third Trimester: It's Not for Sissies

So here's the little update:

  • I have a stripe! A real stripe!
  • My feet are so fat and swollen, my toes look like snausages, and it takes me half a block of walking to settle into my giant soft clogs.
  • My butt's on fire
  • I'm not sure I still have a vagina
  • At least once a day, sometimes twice, I barf up pure stomach acid into my mouth, which makes me cough disgustingly. I feel like Richard Pryor: "When your esophagus is on fire, and you runnin' down the street... people will get out of your way!"
  • Somehow these barfing coughing fits are tiring? I always want to lie down and nap after one. Sadly, this is not an option on BART.
This last one is a bit of a shocker. My last post, which I just didn't have the energy to finish, asked "Who am I? I feel as if I've vanished inside this pregnancy." It seemed whiney and more of the same, so I jettisoned it, but the feeling is back, and much stronger as I plod through my days.

I have no idea who I am right now. I don't know if it's working too many hours, or worrying too much about the nursery, or stress over the last round of physical changes, or hormones, or a mix of everything, but I have absolutely NO buffer zone right now. I am a giant raw nerve. It feels like depression, actually. If the bath-mat isn't on the side of the tub, I want to cry. If I smell tuna fish, I don't just want to retch -- I want to make someone PAY. Nay, I need to. 

In the past few days, I have outright wept over: (a) a photo of a mourning marine in the New Yorker, (b) being snapped at by a 12-year-old, and (c) the end of Living in America. An Eddie Murphy vehicle. 

No less than 4 girlfriends have heard me rant in the last 24 hours. I mean Pacino-level rants. I have very, very patient girlfriends. (Though 2 only had to listen via email, 1 is my sister and therefore HAS TO, and 1 is just awesome.) One of these rants took place while hiking on the big hill, while wearing the white iPhone headphones and petting people's dogs and crying at the same time. People are very nice!

On the other hand, I just ate a piece of rugelach, wondered mildly if I were about to throw it up, and then enjoyed an internal happydance from Sluggo, which i could see (looked like the vibration of a drum) when I looked down at my stomach.

It's just 3 months out of my life, and I'll look back and barely remember what this was like, but it's a completely insane and overwhelming combination of joy, anticipation, fury, and desperation. That's all I can -- that's the only way I can describe it.

That's today. 

Thursday, October 2, 2008

An Open Letter to My Vagina

Dear Vagina:

A yeast infection? Seriously. Seriously?

I mean, I know you're feeling neglected and forgotten, but there are better ways to get my attention. 

Come ON.

Love (and yes, I miss you too),