Sunday, July 29, 2007
In November I will have been soda sober for seven years. I still remember the day I gave up carbonated beverages. I was a sophomore in college. It was during the run of Hamlet and, in my fridge was a bottle of Sprite. I left it for too long and, when I returned to it, it was flatter than a pancake under the tire of a Mack truck. I very nearly spit my swig at my computer screen and, once I chucked the remainder of the bottle in the garbage, I was left to ponder this phenomenon and wonder if it was really the best idea to consume something that can, so drastically, morph into something else. (Don't give me any fruit of the vine lectures...I also do not drink wine.) Really, a liquid that is made of caffeine, bubbles, phosphoric acid, sugar, syrup, aspartame acesulfame-k, and sucralose doesn't really sound like something that should be put into our bodies. (Oh yes, I eat plenty of things that I shouldn't put in my body but seriously, one crusade at a time.) So, on that crisp fall day I decided to see how long I could go without drinking any of it--a real issue for someone addicted to the endless flow of fountain drinks in the university cafeteria.
In the beginning I would dream about drinking soda. I'd wake, in a cold sweat, thinking I'd failed. The dreams passed and I realized that I could probably do this for the rest of my life. It's not that I have to, that it's some kind of sin, I just think I can. I won't say that I don't, on occasion, wish I could drain a rootbeer float...because oh how I do. I won't say that I never wish I hadn't started such a silly crusade. Just last week, at my son's first birthday party, I thought about guzzling an orange soda. I could almost taste the bubbly orange fizz sliding down my throat. But I didn't.
I didn't because in the past seven years I have decided that nothing good, except, of course, for the taste, can come of carbonated beverages. I have also decided that caffeine is an FDA approved drug. It causes dehydration and a depletion of needed minerals. While I used to severely limit my caffeine intake, I now have virtually none, except for whatever you might find in a cup of hot chocolate or an occasional Milky Way. And while I don't think adults should guzzle soda because of its obvious adverse effects, I don't judge the adult soda drinker--for heaven's sake, I was among the worst of you a mere seven years ago. (And, well, my husband is a self-proclaimed Diet Coke-a-holic and I certainly love and respect him.) But I think the fact that we (and by we I mean humanity in general) pour it down the mouths of our children is appalling.
Apparently, teenagers are getting osteoporosis because of the high volume of soda they consume. Which is why Garrett is not allowed to have soda. (At least for as long as I can help it.) Now, with that being said, he's not going to be the poor little dork boy who can't have it at a birthday party when he's ten. I just want to see how long he can go before he puts it in his body and starts losing oxygen and ruining his bone growth. It will be an uphill battle because other children drink soda with wild abandon. We (yes, my Diet Coke-a-holic husband is enthusiastically on board with the plan) plan to inform Garrett that soda--or "Coke" *shudder* or "Pop" *shudders more fervently* depending on where it is in the country that we're ministering--is an adult beverage...or, at least, a big kid beverage. When children smaller than him start drinking it, I don't know what we'll do. But I imagine it like this:
Garrett: Mommy, Billy has soda and he's two years younger than me.
Me: Well, Garrett, Billy's parents don't love him as much as we love you.
Kidding. Just kidding. Seriously. I'm in a glass house throwing stones, I promise. Because my one-year old gets the occasional cookie or bite of ice cream. I'm a bad mom who is still ordering up some diabetes and some obesity for my kid (I really do love that commercial). Like I said before, I picked a battle. I can't win them all so I'm just hoping that by the time he defies me, or whatever, and chugs a can of Pepsi, he finds it gross. Because I just really don't want him to get teenage osteoporosis.
So, if you're reading this, please don't offer my child any carbonated beverages for a good long while. And please, always have a water option for him. And me.
Friday, July 27, 2007
Garrett and the Great Poopy Plane Caper
It all began en route to the Portland International Airport from my sister-in-law, Jolene's, house in West Linn, OR. We had barely turned the corner and were somewhere paralleling the Tualatin River when, from the back seat, we heard the grunting. I looked at Troy. "When we get to the airport, that diaper is yours," I told him with a smile. (He's not coming home until Wednesday so I figured it was only fair for him to have to change that one.) When we got to the airport, Troy got the kid out of his carseat and started changing him. It didn't take but a second for us to simultaneously realize that Garrett had exploded. Troy noticed the wet and stinky clothes he was wearing and I noticed the slimey substance on the carseat. "This is a two person job," Troy informed me. A two person job indeed, Garrett needed reinforcements. The spare outfit emerged from the diaper bag and we were good to go.
Fast forward through check-in and security and airport Wendy's being out of the bread they use for the frescatta club. Fast forward even through the first half of my flight from Portland to Oakland where we stopped for about 45 minutes. Fast forward through the woman who boarded the plane and told me, "She is so beautiful. I saw her through the window (I was in the front of the plane) and what a gorgeous little girl." Garrett and I had a good chuckle when she was out of earshot. He was wearing blue, mind you.
So there we are. Sitting in the plane at the Oakland airport. Everyone had boarded. We are preparing to get the heck out of Raiderville when I smell it. My first thought is, "How is there anything left inside of your little body with as much dung as there was all over your clothes and your carseat a mere two and a half hours ago?" My second thought, as I pick him up to see if it's him, is, "Why is my hand wet?" I look down. Outfit number two is covered in poo. There is nothing I can do because the seatbelt sign is on and will be for quite some time. (On the first half of the trip it never went off.) A few minutes later I realize that all the passengers within several seats of me are kind of looking around and sniffing. The red begins to creep up my neck and into my cheeks. I contemplate announcing that it is, indeed, my small child. Soon, the flight attendants are also attempting to find the source of the hideous smell. Garrett is trying to sit in my lap. I am making him stand. The poop...is literally...everywhere. The flight attendants come by for drink orders.
"What would you like?" She asks me.
"Nothing. Thanks. But is there a changing station in the bathroom?" (As it comes out I wonder why I am referring to something that has no bathtub and is about 100 square feet short of being considered a room as such.) She goes to check. She comes back.
"I'm sorry. Some of them have them but this one doesn't. You can change him on the toilet lid though."
I nod. I could. But obviously you, dear flight attendant, are not privy to the amount of poop we are talking about here. Finally the seatbelt sign goes off. I literally fling myself and my nearly seven-month-old at the lavatory. I have no idea what I am going to do. I know, however, that whatever happens, it will make a good story. What I didn't know was how much worse it was going to get before it got better.
I put Garrett on the toilet lid, which is long enough for about half of his body. The other half hung off the front. I took off his pants, the onesie was covered in the waste. As I attempted to get the onesie off, his hands somehow got poop all over them and he was getting mad. (Being that his body was hanging half off the toilet lid and it had to be uncomfortable. Not to mention, cold.) He slammed his fecal covered hands against the side of the lav. Poop on the walls. I tried to throw the diaper down the very small trash can. Poop on the trash can. I set the onesie in the sink. Poop in the sink. Poop on me. Poop everywhere. Garrett rolls sideways and gets momentarily wedged between the toilet and the wall. He screams. I laugh. Because there is seriously nothing else to do.
Eventually I wipe down the entire plane lavatory because no flight attendant signed on for that job. I think I was in there for about ten minutes. Toward the end of the fiasco, with my child half dressed, the plane hits some decent turbulance. Garrett bounces happily atop the toilet, and actually giggles like it's some fascinating ride. The captain turns the seatbelt sign back on. I grab my baby, who had no other pants (as he was already on his spare outfit) and had to wear the ones that had a hint of doody on them, and lug everything back to our seat. There I put his jacket back on him. He smiles, nestles into my arms, and munches mandarin oranges. Just before we land in the most beautiful city, the flight attendant asks if we are going on to Phoenix.
"No. We're getting off in San Diego." (Because we're San Diegans my little pooper and I.)
"Well, he is the best baby I have ever seen. He is so calm and happy. Here are some wings for him." We say thank you. And I smile to myself. Perhaps we are calm in appearance. But a mile above California, stuck in the smallest of bathrooms, with poop everywhere, Garrett was bouncing and wedging and screaming seemingly all at once. And I was laughing maniacally. Because sometimes, that's all you can do when it comes to babies.
A place that I was introduced to in the summer of 1995. And reintroduced to in the summer of 1996. And 1997. And 1998. And 1999. A place that I inwardly begged to return to for so many summers after I was too old to be in a high school youth group. A place that I had long ago resolved to mere memories.
(If you're having trouble finding me...I'm the one in the middle. The only one who, apparently, still thought it was cool to have bangs. Though, I should point out that at this time I was still very subconscious about having a forehead that rivaled small countries in land mass.)
A place that asked my husband to speak at high school camp this year. A place that is allowing him to bring his wife and twelve-month old son. Now, those of you who know how much I love this camp might suspect that I married Troy four years ago with the sole intention of one day figuring a way to get back there. You would be (mostly) wrong. Now, I will say that with marrying a pastor came the added bonus of having an "in" with the youth pastor. And, now that I am teaching part-time and have summers off, I fully intended to plead the case of why I would be the perfect girls counselor at camp this year. Imagine my elated surprise when my amazing spouse came home and told me he'd been asked to speak. Now I get to go and I don't even have to be a counselor. I just get to share a cabin with my two favorite boys. I've never shared a cabin with a boy at camp before...let alone two. Normally, at CBS, coed cabin sharing is strictly forbidden. In fact, if a girl is even found walking on the boy side of camp, well, I just...I...I don't really know what would happen, honestly, but I never did it out of fear of being thrown into the Pacific or deported back to the mainland or something far worse, like being forced to clean the kitchen after every...single...meal.
(It really is sad how the good Lord bestowed all the physical attributes upon me and left him to get by looking like that.)
Because the camp ended up needing another counselor. And being that Troy is the speaker, he somehow pulled some strings and Jon now gets to go back to camp for free. Now, if there were only some way I could get my parents there...stuffed in luggage anyone? And for the record, Jon actually looks more like this...
And so, though I know it will not be more than a sliver of a nostalgic experience, for few of my friends from eight years ago will be there, I am getting very excited. Because my Two Sets of Jones's friend is leading worship. Because my brother is leading students. Because my husband, who's a firsttimer, is leading large group. Because my son, though he won't remember, will get to experience it. Because I will experience it all over again and from a different perspective.
Jon and me, circa:1998 (Um, no, we weren't dating. Because gross. We were attemting to take a Christmas card picture.)
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Inane Ramblings of a Cheese Chucker
This morning, I contemplated throwing a block of cheese through my kitchen window. It isn’t that I actually want to pay for a replacement pane, or that there is something fundamentally wrong with my cheese. There’s no mold, I can’t even see any of that flaky white stuff that I judge to be some type of pre-fungus phenomenon. It is, in fact, a delectable hunk of Tillamook’s finest. Yet, with my entire being I ached to hurl the cheddar through the window. I know it’s asinine. The logic is flawed. But that is what this has reduced me to, a pathetic heap of cheese chucking estrogen. And I had these thoughts before nine am.
Later, I got to contemplate whose bright idea it was to put the diapers directly across the aisle from the tampons and the rest of the feminine hygiene menagerie. It wasn’t the work of the barren, that’s for certain. It’s like, there you are, passing mother after mother with baby after baby. You’re barely holding it together as it is. You turn the corner to throw your loathed tampons into the cart, mad at anyone and everyone who celebrates Mother’s Day, when wham—the Pampers baby screams at you with her bright blue eyes. It’s a conspiracy. Someone watching the camera for shoplifters gets a kick out of the occasional woman who unsuspectingly turns the corner and is instantly reduced to a puddle of hormonal tears. Personally, I want to pop that baby right in the jaw. Never mind that she’s adorable. Forget the fact that if someone left her on my porch I’d love her in a heartbeat. This morning, as I stood in the grocery store, I hated her. I despised her because some idiot put her across from my tampons. The tampons I don’t want in the first place. I don’t want to be looking at this side of the aisle; I want to be looking at that side—the side with the too-cute-for-her-own-good Pampers baby. Can the grocery store just maybe…move the baby section? Is that really too much to ask? Can it just get put in a corner? Maybe back where all the hard liquor is? Then all the drunks and all the mothers can just do their shopping together. Or perhaps, since that might perpetuate the notion of under aged drinking, we could put it in the back, behind a door that reads Employees and Mothers only. Or since that is probably some form of discrimination, maybe we could put it in the aisle with the matches and the Duraflame Fireplace Logs? Because really, how often do infertile women need to buy fire accouterments? I’ll even help move it all—well, no, for the safety of Pampers baby’s little jaw, I’ll send my husband to help. The point is that I really don’t care where it goes, just so long as it isn’t directly across from my tampons. Because really, think about it for five seconds. That’s just cruel and unusual punishment.
I did manage to escape the grocery store fairly unscathed, despite the fact that not one, not two, but every single magazine I saw in the checkout line had a baby story on its cover. From Ben and Jennifer; It’s a Girl! to Britney, with just weeks to go the mom-to-be celebrates with a baby shower! And as I shoved my cart quickly toward the door I had to dodge Mother-with-twins. I considered asking, “You have two. Mind if I take one off your hands?” I even contemplated just yanking one of them when she turned her back, but decided I didn’t particularly want to do jail time. I may be adopting my children. I don’t think an agency would just smile and say, “So, I see here that you were imprisoned for attempted kidnapping. Neat. That shows a real dedication.” So I forced a grin in their general direction and kept on toward the door. Personally, I think I showed a great deal of restraint. Perhaps a medal or special button is in order.
Once I got home, however, I had to use some serious control. I turned on my television and there were commercials for Home Pregnancy Tests, Johnson & Johnson No More Tears Baby Shampoo, even Chase financial services depicting love and then marriage followed very quickly by the baby in the baby carriage. Now, I’m not going to say that every channel needs to be infant free, even I know that would be asking way too much, but can we just have one? I don’t think there is anything on channel 87. Barren women unite! Children free TV. We bring you round the clock programming uncontrolled by baby paraphernalia. Featuring the new reality shows, “So Your Treatment Failed Again!” And “What The Heck Is Wrong With You Anyway?” In any case, as I do not currently own station 87 and cannot institute my policies, I had to keep my hand on the channel button so that at the appearance of any of these inconsiderate commercials, I could quickly rid myself of any impending evil thoughts. I considered calling the cable company and asking them to just turn it off—put me out of my misery—but I figured that then I would be childless and divorced. Instead, I decided to play computer Solitaire. Near as I can tell there are no babies in card games.
As afternoon drew to a close I decided to elect myself President of the I Hate Menstruating Club, ate a Little Debbie Fudge Round, got angry that she’s “Little Debbie” and not “Young Adult Debbie”, took an Excedrin for my pounding headache, scheduled my next appointment with my reproductive endocrinologist, and made a list of all the things I can do now that I know I’m not pregnant once again. The list includes, but is not limited to, getting drunk. Now, I very rarely drink at all and have never been drunk but I figure maybe you shouldn’t knock it until you try it? Bungee jumping. Buying a ticket to a major theme park and only riding the attractions that say, “Pregnant women should not ride.” Wearing nothing but a skimpy bikini for at least a week so that all the mothers in the world are jealous of me for a minute. Instead of the other way around.
And today was a pretty good day. You should see me on a bad one.
I'm kind of starting to think that I will always be that infertile woman...or, I will at least always process things like her...or maybe it's just that I will always think it's my personal crusade to enlighten the world about just how much it hurts. I mean for crying out-freaking-loud, I have one now. So why am I still so sensitive to the asinine comments and the questions? Why do I feel like it's my job to somehow telepathically distribute awareness? Why can I sometimes lose hours of sleep thinking about how some people should maybe have less and my dear friends should have ONE. And, obviously, God knows what He's doing. I know that implicitly in my soul. But my heart still breaks and my head still questions and I find myself growing but so far from grown. And I still dread the, "when are you going to have another one?" question. Because if I have learned anything through this journey it is that God's not in the business of letting me in on that specific information. So, just for the record, for all of cyberspace and anyone who happens upon my blog, if by "trying" you people mean "not doing anything in the wide world to stop it" than we're in the process, and we have been for longer than it takes most people to conceive and then get out of the first trimester. And no, I'm not losing sleep over it...yet...because I have my amazing son and, if anything, I've learned that the really great ones are on back order (please also realize that is a joke and I'm not calling your kid a dud). But I really have discovered that God's timing is perfect and I hope that this time around I can trust Him better. But I still hate the question. It still makes me feel like a failure. And I wonder if the other 12% of couples affected by this demon feel the same way...
I was cleaning the house and he was slowly starting to awaken from his nap when suddenly his gentle coos became a fierce scream. I thought he was being dramatic so I aimed to finish cleaning the counters. When the cries intensified I went to investigate. He was laying on his back with his blanket over his head shouting. As he writhed around I discovered the source of his pain. His chubby leg was inserted precariously between two rungs of his crib. The more he struggled to yank it out, the more he sobbed. I had to carefully jimmy it out from the rungs and once it was free the two of us discovered that it had, indeed, bit him, leaving two prominent red marks on his otherwise pasty skin.
For the rest of the afternoon he gazed skeptically at the nasty biter. Occasionally shooting it death looks.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
What no one told me about the hours following labor is that I would feel like I sat on an exploding stick of dynamite. The Epidural wore off and it literally took me about five minutes to scoot myself out of bed, shuffle to the restroom and take care of business, then lower myself back on to the bed. Now, generally speaking, I do not think it would be fun to endure this kind of pain on a regular basis, but when you have that little tiny human in your arms, the throbbing actually ceases to be relevant.
No one told me that my nurse would accompany me to the bathroom to explain how to use all the numbing sprays, etc and that then she would stand there while I attempted to relieve my bladder.
No one told me I would not be able to accomplish the aforementioned until an hour later when they were threatening another catheter. No, the nurse did not stay in there for that whole time. And neither did I.
No one told me I was going to get to wear special panties that looked like fishnet tankini bottoms. No one told me there would be a pouch in the crotch of this gorgeous garment that a stickless popsicle would fit into. They also didn't tell me that icing my unmentionables would actually be desirable.
No one told me that my roommate was going to be crazy. Very, very nice, but crazy. On the first night, my husband, who had only cat napped in the last forty hours, went home to get some much-needed sleep. My mom stayed with me, sleeping on the fantastically uneasy chair. Finally, we were all prepared to sleep. I also had not really slept in nearly forty hours and, well, I'd had a baby so I think I was legitimately tired. Garrett was swaddled and sleeping soundly in the plastic bassinet. The light finally went out. As the glow on my side ceased it flicked on next door, you know, on the other side of the curtain. The new mom paged her nurse and informed her that her daughter needed to go to the nursery. The nurse never came. (Which doesn't surprise me because that's not standard procedure anymore.) A few minutes later she paged her again. This time someone came.
"Can you please take her to the nursery and get her another shirt?"
"She's been in this one all day. She's mad because she's wearing a dirty shirt."
"Ma'am, she's a day old. She doesn't know whether her shirt is dirty or not."
At this point I am staring at my mom with giant eyes and concentrating ridiculously hard on not busting up laughing.
No one told me that my roommate's husband was going to sing the same four lines over and over and over and over and over again to his infant daughter.
Daddy loves his little baby.
Daddy loves his Abby.
Daddy loves his little Ah-BEE-Gail.
No one told me that mom-over-the-curtain and dad-over-the-curtain were both going to snore all night long and that when they weren't snoring it would be because their daughter was screaming.
No one told me that changing a meconium diaper is a task that involves at least two adults.
No one told me that newborn diapers would swallow my child and preemie clothing would look big—and he wasn't that small.
No one told me that I would welcome the extra day in the hospital when Garrett was kept so that they could monitor his jaundice.
No one told me that I would love my nurses and, kind of, want my night nurse to come home with me.
No one told me that, on the second night, anytime I put my son down he would scream. And so I would finally consent to letting him sleep in the bed with me. With Garrett snuggled up against me, exhaling little bits of heaven, no one told me that I would have done it all again in a heartbeat, just to have this one moment with this tiny angel.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Food, Drinks and Paper Goods: I don't even know…a couple hundred dollars
Watching your son smash his first birthday cake into his mouth: Priceless
I started planning Garrett's birthday party over a month ago. You see, as the anniversary of his birth rapidly approached I found myself dealing with a critical case of delayed onset postpartum despair syndrome and the only way to make it through his birthday without blubbering like some maniac was to pour my time into the preparation. (I would like to explain that my DOPDS was self-diagnosed—and also a self-invented syndrome—most people would call it simple nostalgia. I longed for the days of itty bitty Garrett who napped on my chest and needed head support in the carseat.) We decided to have a hot dog barbeque at Ramona Oaks Park, inviting all of our local family and Garrett's friends from church. His actual birthday landed on a Friday, so we picked that day, July 20, to have the Cars themed jamboree.
I already had all the paper goods, the piñata, the sodas, watermelon, ice cream, etc, so the morning began with my mom, Garrett and me getting the rest of the food. We headed down to Costco and picked up the buns, chips, and waters. Garrett started getting sleepy so we dashed to Stater Brothers to pick up the cake and get the ice. Almost a month ago I had ordered a Cars cake and I had checked on it on Monday because, well, I'm paranoid like that. So, early Friday afternoon I picked it up. They opened the box and the cutest Cars cake stared back at me. I made sure it said 1st birthday and that my son's name was spelled with two r's and two t's. It did and it was so we were good to go. I picked up an individual slice for Garrett so that he could dig in and we could all watch him before we murdered the beautiful Lightning McQueen confection. My mom took everything to her house (right by the park) and I took Garrett home for a nap. He must have known something was up because I could not get the child to sleep. When I finally did, he only slept for an hour. Silly Mommy. Don't you know that big boys don't take naps?
Around four o'clock we went out to my parents' house. Garrett played with Grandpa while my mom and I cut the watermelon. My mom finished her pasta salad and cooked the chicken nuggets (for the babies) while I headed down to the park with all the tablecloths, etc. When I arrived at the park I discovered problem number one.
Problem Number One
Ramona Elementary Schoolers, fresh from band camp, were setting up on the stage. Of course, they were having a concert. I decided to relocate to the oak trees by the pool. Unfortunately, this was nowhere near the playground for the little kids but thankfully, it was far enough away from the "symphony" that their off-key concert wasn't a terrible bother. However, this did lead to problem number two.
Problem Number Two
The park seems to have removed all the grills from the giant barbeques, one of which we were set up right next to. So, Troy had to cart—in a little red wagon—all the hot dogs across the bridge and over to a barbeque by the horseshoe pits, cook them there, and then cart them back.
By this point, Garrett, with only one short nap for the day, began to yawn. He perked up when we stuffed his mouth full of watermelon, chicken nuggets, and olives from the pasta salad. After the 44 partygoers finished stuffing their faces with Ballparks and Ruffles, we gathered the kids around to take a bat to a racecar—er, that is, whack Lightning McQueen, the piñata. Our particular piñata was designed for little children and had ribbon underneath that you pull to release candy. My intention was to let the babies go in age order from youngest to oldest: Nevaeh, Garrett, Madison…then let the bigger kids in on the action. Twenty ribbons. One would release the candy. Nevaeh pulled a ribbon. Nothing happened. I help Garrett grab a ribbon. As he starts pulling the trap door begins to release. Are you kidding me? I quickly have him grab a different one and shove the trap door back up inside Lightning. Madison pulls a ribbon. For the bigger kids we broke out the bat. Jadyn and Makenna took a few good whacks. Kian hit it and broke the rope. Troy tied it back together. Kaylie whacked it. Chloe whacked it. And it broke open and spilled its glorious guts and the kids gathered candy and went about their day on a sugar high.
By this point, Garrett was really starting to get tired so we opted to do the cake before the presents. We opened the lid on his cake and Troy took a couple of pictures. And my brother, who was taking some video, zoomed in…
Problem Number Three
"Um, why does his cake say Barrett?" For a split second I thought he was pulling my leg. But his voice had no inkling of this being a joke. Sure enough, and very clearly might I add, my son's name had been forever etched into his birthday cake not as Garrett but as Barrett. Somehow, and I honestly have no clue as to why this occurred, both my mother and I failed to notice, in Stater Brothers or anytime after, that his cake was actually made for someone who named their poor baby Barrett. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that Garrett was tired and crying and burying his head in my shoulder when I looked it over.
We had taken his high chair to the park so we put his cake on the tray and sang happy birthday. I blew out the candle and put him in the high chair. He began by squishing his hands around in the frosting and squeezing the cake. Unaware that it was food that he was playing with, I put a little taste in his mouth. Over the next twenty minutes, Garrett Barrett managed to consume nearly his entire (huge) slice of cake. And a mess he did make.
His outfit has been washed…and is in need of another washing to see if I can get all of the birthday bash food stains out of it. It took one sink, several paper towels, a new outfit, baby wipes, one mom, one grandma and one great-grandma to get him clean. When all was said and done, it was time for presents.
Most of the families with babies had to leave because their natives were getting restless, but we pressed on. Garrett sat on my lap and opened one gift. After that, he crawled away and ripped bows off of things and occasionally glanced to see what I was finding under all of the glorious wrappings. In the middle of opening the gifts, he decided to make a birthday doody. Because he is so horrible to change, it took my grandma and my aunt and possibly her entire family to get a new diaper on my child. By the end, Garrett was sitting, comatose, gazing at a tractor toy that lit up.
When the party was over the remaining people pitched in to help get everything cleaned up. Garrett's aunt Heather pushed him up and down the sidewalk on his Pooh ride-on toy while I hopped the fence into the pool area to wash the frosting off of Garrett's tray. My brother kept an eye out for security. Normally, the people the security guards catch in the pool area after hours are delinquent pot-smoking teenagers. I had a funny image of a security guard looking puzzled as he caught a pastor's wife in the locked pool, using an outside shower to wash a high chair covered in her son's first birthday cake.
All in all, we had too much food, too many drinks, way too many presents for one little boy—though he adores them all, and too much fun. Garrett was zonked in the backseat, nestled comfortably in his big boy carseat, when I pulled into my garage. It took Troy and I another two hours to get everything cleaned up and put away.
In the end I think fun was had. Garrett is one. He'll never be my tiny baby again. And at the party, I'm pleased to announce that I was too distracted by food and cake and piñata and birthday bliss to worry too much about the fact that in no time at all, his college applications are due.
Monday, July 16, 2007
And it's interesting how one day a baby's goldfish cracker can fall in the sand and when he puts it into his mouth he repels it out with gusto. But the same baby, on the very next day, can be found shoveling fistfuls of wet sand into his mouth and swallowing happily.
Babies who wake up with the sun whilst camping become very irritable by early afternoon.
The spot I missed on my shoulder and the other spot I missed on the back of my leg are still slightly red and still kind of hurt.
I gained a pound eating Costco muffins and pita chips and s'mores and burritos and pork kabobs and red vines and...
Camping is almost always very fun (exception: Mosquito Creek--no it's not figurative) and camping with a baby, while more challenging, is spectacularly fun.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
My son has now survived nearly a full year of living, which, naturally and obviously, makes me the expert on childrearing. I've learned that nothing can prepare a first time parent for what is about to happen to them. Oh sure, there are books and blogs and literature from the gynecologist's office. There's advice galore from every woman who has previously stuck her legs into stirrups and watched a child emerge. I will say that prior babysitting experience helps. Well, sort of. I mean, not with the birthing process and not with how to breastfeed or not go crazy in the middle of the night when the child will not stop crying. But it helps in terms of not holding the baby like a bomb or putting the diaper on backward. I was fortunate to have had such baby-holding-diaper-changing experience. Still, I was unprepared. And I knew it.
For starters, I was terrified about the actual birthing experience. I had literally begged and pleaded with God for my child. Babies don't come easily for my husband and me. We can't just wink at each other and get a positive pregnancy test in the morning, which, in case anyone is wondering, seems to be the sort of magic my sisters-in-law can invoke. And so, several failed infertility treatments, the beginnings of an adoption process, heaps of prayers, torrents of tears, and a great many months after my husband and I first, er, winked at each other in the hopes of manufacturing arrows for our quiver, I found myself carrying our first child. Words cannot begin to describe my elation. But, even from the beginning, I found myself terrified about getting it out. I wished myself a kangaroo on more than one occasion. Lucky marsupials, growing your young in your pouch.
My mother always told me that birth wasn't bad. "People wouldn't have more than one if it was that horrible." She made a good point. Just when I started buying her particular brand of making-me-less-scared, someone at church would say something along the lines of, "labor is absolute hell, but you get a baby out of it." Neat. Thanks. And every time I felt an anxiety attack coming on, I'd remember that I had sobbed hysterical prayers to the Lord for this baby. I felt as though feeling apprehensive was the deadliest of sins. Toward the end, I tuned in to A Baby Story daily. Maybe watching all of these women would somehow prepare me for the birth. Some made me feel better. The calm, epiduralized women were accommodating to the theory of peace that I was hoping for. The caesarian births actually made me start hoping for a breech baby who would emerge through a tidy scheduled slicing of the abdomen. But the screamers, wailers, extreme sweaters and moaners sent me right back into panic mode.
Thankfully (and it is with hesitation that I choose that word) my baby began giving me extremely bad pains where his little butt was ramming inconveniently into my ribcage. I say thankfully because after a few weeks of sleeping on top of rolled up socks (the only way to not feel the stabbing pain) I was ready to get that child out by any means necessary. In fact, on the way to the hospital I looked at my husband and said, in complete sincerity, "I'm not scared at all anymore."
I was induced. My child was growing a little slower than my obstetrician would have liked and she ordered him out a week before his due date, suspecting a failing placenta and a growth restricted baby. Because it was a medical reason, I was happy to comply. I have never supported removing a child early just for kicks. You know, because Aunt Betsy flew in and doesn't have all month to wait around for junior to make his appearance—or whatever.
So anyway, after a few days of calling morning, noon and night, I finally got in for the induction. When I got settled in my room the nurse gave me a gown and pointed me toward the bathroom so that I could get changed. I remember thinking that was peculiar. In just a few hours nurses, doctors and midwifes would be taking turns probing and investigating my hooha with outrageous abandon but for the time being we were all about the modesty. The other curious statement was that I should take off my undergarments unless I was of a religion that prohibited such an act. What religions are these? And how, exactly, does one give birth with her underwear on? Come to think of it, how does one end up in such a predicament at all? Seems to me if you leave your underwear on pregnancy becomes much less of a dilemma altogether. But I didn't engage the nurse in dialogue regarding either of these mysteries. Best not to reveal too much of my personality in the first five minutes. I simply went into the bathroom, took off my clothes, slipped into something a little more comfortable and a lot more revealing, walked out and climbed in to the bed.
It is here that I will explain that getting my IV put in was just maybe the worst part of the whole experience. Honestly. When my nurse put it in my arm I thought, "Oh no. I'm really not going to be able to handle this. I'm done. It can just stay inside. I'm fine carrying around the extra weight. Really. And that back pain, I'll get used to it. It'll probably build character—or something." But then again, I'm a self-professed needle weenie.
My doctor happened to be working that night so she came in, sat sideways in the extra chair and flopped her legs over the arm while she described the induction process. I tend to think of my obstetrician like I used to think of my teachers when I was in elementary school. She's like a mythical demigod who only exists within the realms of her office. It was both comforting and unusual that she, like us mere mortals, sits sideways in chairs from time to time—even if she does so while using the word cervix. Because she suspected that my baby was growth restricted, she wanted to try a slow induction process, to see how he handled slight contractions before we forced his little body to endure the real whoppers.
Cervidil would be, for lack of a more pleasant word, inserted. Twelve hours later she would remove the medication and examine me to see how I was progressing. In twelve hours you will come back and check? I was kind of hoping to have this whole thing over and done with by then!!! I thought forlornly to myself, but who was I kidding, my mother was in labor for 23 hours with me and then they still had to rip me out with a suction and forceps. "Don't worry," she said, "you probably won't have contractions and you can sleep all night." Now, I adore my gynecologist but I'd like to know what particular brand of crack she was smoking that night because I might have slept for a total of forty-two minutes and sixteen seconds. Maybe most women don't experience contractions with Cervidil but I was not one of these auspicious ladies—I don't have that kind of luck. They weren't unbearable by any means but sleep was certainly not in the equation. At one point, my nurse informed me that with the way my contractions were going I'd have a baby by morning. For your information, she lied. Steady contractions, minor but nonetheless in attendance, coupled with umpteen machines making clickity clackity hum tink tink noises all night and the occasional, "Dr. Soinso to Labor and Delivery such and such," made for nearly zero hours of sleep on the part of the laboring mother-to-be. Additionally, I had intravenous fluid racing out of my bladder every half hour and my first nurse wouldn't let me go to the restroom without her, personally, unplugging my monitors from the wall. I continually had to page her and it always seemed as though I was interrupting something important. It got to the point where I forced myself to stretch the potty breaks to every hour even though I would be in extreme driving-across-the-state-and-dad-won't-stop-the-car-for-any-reason agony for thirty minutes of that hour. I didn't want to inconvenience my nurse. I thought I was the only woman in the history of delivering babies who needed to pee that much. If, Lord willing, I ever have another biological child, I will inform the nurse that I will be taking myself to the restroom. When, every half hour, both my offspring's heart monitor and mine simultaneously flat line, she should not worry. "If I die, my husband will be sure to inform you, I promise," I'll say imperatively. Side note: My nurse was a perfectly delightful woman who made the early stages of labor very nice for me in every way other than relieving my bladder. And, in fairness to her, nothing fun happened while she was on duty…except for the incessant urinating. Oh, and she got to give me Tylenol for a headache I saw fit to develop. I'm sure it was the highlight of her night.
In the very early morning my nurse got to go home to sleep and I got a new nurse. She was an older woman who was present for the most miserable part of my labor. I asked her meekly if it would be possible for me to just take myself to the bathroom. She granted me my one wish in the world and seemed perplexed at my asking. At around seven-thirty my beloved doctor came to examine me. Despite having contractions all night I was only dilated to one. I was, however, seventy-five percent effaced, which was the only teeny tiny cause for celebration. My doctor gleefully broke my water, which quickly got the contractions coming harder and faster. I'm not even kidding about the gleeful part, she was positively chipper over the whole situation. And just let me tell you that I kind of always thought of the "water" as being, you know, clean, for one thing. And also I pictured it whooshing out all at once and having the whole thing over with. Well, for me it was more of a rather pathetic trickling for quite a long time. I should also point out that bodily fluids aren't, to my knowledge, ever the most hygienic of substances, so clean was out of the question.
Aside from the insertion of the IV, there are four and a half hours of my labor that I would like to forget. And really, what's 270 minutes out of a lifetime? Mom was right! But from 8:00 am until 12:30 pm on July 20, 2006, I was not the happiest of campers. I don't know how far apart my contractions were but it seemed like they were coming right on top of each other, ramming into one another like freight trains gone mad. I clenched my teeth. I gripped the side of the bed as though imploring the inanimate object to take away the pain. I made scrunchy faces. I did not laugh at Kelly Ripa talking about having a bidet installed in her home, but my husband did. It was the only time in the day that I entertained thoughts of punching him. Then The Price is Right came on and I decided I'd rather hit Bob Barker. He's a charming old man but when he was shouting, "Come on down" while I was contemplating gnashing my teeth, decking him seemed like a great idea.
At eleven o'clock the midwife who had replaced my doctor when her shift was over examined me. Expecting, with the way my contractions were raging, to be at a four or five, I was livid to discover that I was dilated to…two. Given that I was clearly not progressing at even a turtle's pace, she offered me my epidural followed by Pitocin. There was no reason, she said, to give me Pit, which apparently causes psychotically intense contractions, before giving me the painkiller. And yes, I was planning, from day one, to get an Epidural. Except that I was terrified of the process. Sitting still while someone shoves a needle into my spine has never been my idea of a good time. Couple that with the fact that at our birthing class some twit who already had three children said, Imagine me saying this in an obnoxious voice, "I'm going to try this one (she annoyingly pats her middle) without drugs. I've had the epi with my other children and every single time I feel this excruciating electric shock explode through my body when they put the needle in. It must be worse than natural birth." Now imagine thirteen first time moms staring back at her in nauseated horror. The doula teaching our class tried to do damage control but it was too late. So, I was terrified of the administration of the medicine and whatever this electric shock business was, but figured that even an electrocution had to be better than screaming and yanking my husband down to my level so that I could shriek, "YOU did this to me!" Plus, I've just never seen the point in trying to be a birth-giving hero. At the end all you get is bragging rights, they don't actually hand out medals for your triumph. And if your theory is that, "Mom did it without drugs so I can too," let me remind you that she also didn't grow up with an internet or a cell phone and I bet you don't have a problem using those. And your childbearing great-granny crossed the country on foot behind a covered wagon but you don't think twice as you board your plane and munch peanuts now do you? Um. Hold on a second, I'm climbing down from my soapbox. Okay, whew, I'm off. And oh, I don't hate people who don't get epidurals or anything. I mean, truly, yay for them. I just don't understand the reasoning. Okay, back to the story at hand. So, I'd been nervously planning an Epidural all along.
BUT I DIDN'T WANT TO HAVE TO GET IT AT TWO!
No, I don't need to be a hero, but I've always thought of myself as having a fairly high threshold for pain. I didn't even know they would give it to you before three. I was horrified for about four seconds. Then my next contraction hit. And it's possible that I might have signed my life away to get that needle rammed into my spine.
The anesthesiologist was going in to a c-section so I had to wait for about an hour. I took a shower. It was really less because I was dirty (although laying in your own amniotic fluid is probably not the cleanliest of options) and more because I was about to claw my way out of my skin and a shower could only help. Emblazoned in my mind is an image of myself standing in the water with both palms on the wall in front of me. My head is hung down between my shoulders and my teeth are clenched as I breathe through a contraction. I think it was the only time I cried. And it wasn't sobbing or blubbering or screaming or moaning; I just concentrated the full weight of the contraction into scrunching my face. And tears burst out.
Back in bed I waited for the anesthesiologist and just before he came in, my midwife examined me. It had been an hour since my goods had last been investigated. Guess what I was dilated to? Drum roll please…TWO! At this point it had been 18 and a half hours since I arrived at the hospital. I honestly think I could have labored for five days and not hit three.
I had the friendliest anesthesiologist I could have hoped for. Of course, it's not amusing to have a needle inserted into your spine, but it wasn't traumatic and there wasn't even an inkling of an electric shock. I wouldn't have one administered daily just for chuckles but the relief it brought made the remaining seven hours of my labor almost pleasurable. The only unfortunate part was that my inquisitive husband, who desperately wanted to watch, was banished to the corner of the room because, apparently, husbands tend to pass out at these sorts of things. But when the nurse said, "Excuse me, I'm going to have to ask you to step over there while the procedure is performed," I suddenly felt very lonely and very important in a way I didn't altogether enjoy. Following the Epidural, I got a nifty catheter and a Pitocin drip. Like magic, the dilating began.
The Epidural was administered with me on my left side so I stayed there for quite some time. Shortly after all of my pain went silently into the blazing heat of the afternoon, I got a new nurse. All my nurses were lovely but my last nurse was perfect. Not terribly older than me, she struck up conversation whenever she had a few minutes. She and my midwife were thrilled that Troy and I didn't know the sex of the baby. They couldn't wait to find out right along with us. Troy decided to take a lunch break and I was encouraged to get some sleep. I was nearly promised a baby by midnight. I tried to sleep. Really, I did. But the excitement of meeting my firstborn united with the violent shakes prohibited more than the half hour or so that I was able to get. I didn't feel particularly cold but apparently shivering is a side effect of Epidural. Shivering, however, would be the understatement of the century. My teeth were literally crashing together and if I managed to fall asleep, I would wake up with my tongue caught between my gnashing jaws. The only way I could stop shaking was if I very consciously resolved to keep still.
In the late afternoon, my nurse realized that I had been on my left side for a really long time and she had me turn onto my right side so that all the numbness wouldn't seep to one side leaving the other unepiduralized. It didn't take long for her to come rushing back in. Baby didn't like my right side. He kept pinching the cord and his heart rate would plummet. The midwife assessed the situation. I would roll onto my left side again to see if his heart rate improved. If not, it was straight to the operating room. And by saying, "I would roll," I mean, of course, that the nurse would roll me because I had no feeling from my waist down. I also had no clothing from my waist down and with my blessedly pain free existence, I suddenly became very aware of my nakedness while the rolling was occurring. Perhaps the serpent gave Adam and Eve an Epidural in the garden. I chose to ignore the fact that my merchandise was exposed to anyone who entered my room. Thankfully, the baby's heart rate returned to normal on my left side and no more naked rolling ensued. I did, however, have to get an oxygen mask just in case. In case of what I'm not really sure but it seemed like a good idea at the time and who I am to argue with the medical professionals. I got a B in biology and barely passed college chemistry.
The details of the blissfully numb afternoon are a little fuzzy. I cannot remember how many times I was examined or what I was dilated to during those probings. What I remember is that in five hours I progressed from an unwavering two to a nine. I recall feeling extremely panicky because my mother didn't answer her cell phone right away and I didn't know where she was. Troy and I had decided that we wanted to experience the birth of our child quietly, privately, serenely. I, in fact, had become fiercely attached to the idea of making it through the labor and delivery with only him. The mere conception of this baby had taken so many tears, so many prayers, so much of who we were that I only wanted to share his miraculous entrance into the world with the one person who had walked every aching step of the trial with me. But I needed to know that my mother was in the waiting room…waiting. Sending me moral support through the walls. Being there in case I suddenly decided that I needed her to come in and make it all better. Of course, she got there in plenty of time to sit and wait.
At 5:30 I was at nine. Blessed. Beautiful. Nine.
At 6:30 I started pushing. Thankfully, they had lightened my epidural so that I had control over the delivery.
I chose to have a mirror. While I never thought that was something I would want to see, the experience of watching my child's birth is an image I don't think I can ever forget—nor do I want to. I'd just like to say that giving birth is the most exquisite and the most revolting thing I have ever done. You're sitting there all confused and like, "How, exactly, do I get it out?" And the nurse is all, "It's like taking a crap." Well, actually, she says it more like, "It's as though you're having a bowel movement." But um…my bowel movements do not weight over six pounds and come out with heads that measure fourteen inches around. (It is here that I would like to add an emphatic Praise the Lord!) So I'm sitting, legs in stirrups, knees up near my neck, arms around my legs, attempting to equate my baby to a turd and in any case, I more or less figure out how this business is accomplished. And it's a frustrating activity because as you bear down you see this head start to appear. This, in and of itself, would be fantastic if you could push through eighteen contractions in a row but, well, you need some kind of air in your lungs so pausing becomes a necessity. Three counts to ten…then rest. Oxygen mask on. Oxygen mask off. Three counts to ten…then rest. Oxygen mask on. And during each rest that little head crept back from whence it came.
Now, I am one of the most competitive people I know. Luckily, my husband, on more than one occasion, has been made aware of this personality
One. Two. Three. Four.Five.Six.Seven.Eight.Nine.Ten. Breathe.
That is how Troy would count. Because he knew I'd be mad at myself if I couldn't get to ten each time. Eventually the nurse told him he was speeding up. He knew it. I knew it. He just kind of smiled at her and said, "If she doesn't get to ten she'll be mad at herself."
Though progress was being made, the midwife suggested an episiotomy and, by that point, I was thrilled to oblige. It was the only time Troy and I both looked away. The pediatric nurse was brought in. Moments later, his entire head emerged. They suctioned his nose and mouth and I said, "what do I do now?" Because it seemed that the shoulders would be a painful problem. My midwife smiled and said, "Nothing." And two seconds later, at 7:30 pm, 26 hours after I arrived at the hospital, the rest of him literally slid out. The nurse and midwife had told Troy that he could announce the gender when the baby finally emerged. He said, "It's a boy!" But he didn't need to. The tiny body was twelve inches away from my own and I think it only took a nanosecond for me to take him in entirely. Two arms. Two legs. A nose. A mouth. A…um…boy. Feet. Hands. Fingers. Toes. Flesh of my flesh. Vision of my dream. They laid him on my chest and what I remember most was how hot he was; still snug from being so very close to my soul. And what I recall after that was how he was staring at me in a heartbreaking way. Because for as long as I could remember I had waited for this moment and it had finally come. And if I hadn't felt four pairs of eyes watching the two of us, I would have wept.
"What's his name?"
Troy looked at the inquiring faces and answered, "This is Garrett."
And then he cut the cord. At the time the actual cord cutting ritual didn't feel particularly momentous. But now, in the quietness of night when my wiggly wormy one-year-old is still, I wish I had paid more attention to those few seconds where we were two spirits joined as one. If only I'd relished the time before he was severed from me; cut loose to split his head open and talk back and go to prom and get married and one day cut his own child apart from his wife.
He was whisked to the other side of the room for evaluation and his proud daddy never let him out of his sight. The midwife delivered the placenta. She answered the question of our curiosity. It appeared to be a normal placenta, healthy and unfailing. To me it just looked bright red and gucky. But then, I've never been educated on how to tell a good placenta from a sick one—we didn't, actually, cover that in any of my theatre courses. The midwife began the thrilling task of, uh, refurbishing my commodity and Garrett began to scream…loudly. Only minutes earlier he had been nestled comfortably inside me and now he was this whole separate person making noise all on his own.
Though it had only been about five minutes, it seemed like forever when Garrett was finally handed back to me. From then until the middle of the night, he made barely more than a peep. Troy went out and made the announcement to our families and then we had about an hour with him before they came in. I nursed Garrett for the first time and he did astonishingly well…but he'd sucked his thumb in-utero so he'd had practice. Of course, after the first time he promptly forgot how. That certainly made for a frustrating couple of days. But in the delivery room it was very calm. The three of us did quite a bit of staring at each other, savoring our new family, astounded by the incredible blessing that the Lord had bestowed upon us. With my husband by my side and my son in my arms, I felt that the deepest desires of my heart had been realized. And this was only the very beginning, the first few minutes, of our life together, as a family.