Tuesday, January 24, 2012

the mommy lens.

I know I've said this before, but it's worth repeating - having a baby changes EVERYTHING. Just in case you're not a parent and you get sick of parents saying that, let me tell you - never a more true statement may have been uttered in the history of life.

One of the ways it changes you is that you start looking at everything through a mommy (or daddy) lens. Everything is now looked at from a parental perspective.

Some examples (of things I have thought recently):

1. Watching the news. Before, I'd see a news segment about a suspect getting arrested for some sort of violent crime and go, "ugh. What is this world coming to." Now, I think, "ugh. Imagine what his poor mother is going through."

2. Sports. Sort of as the flip side to #1 - before, I'd watch an awesome athlete (my new fave is Cruz) and go, "man, he/she is good." Now, I think of all those athletes' mommies and the countless hours they spent driving their kids to hockey/football/etc. practice.

3. Work. Before, when I saw women dressed in suits/work clothes, I wondered what job they had. Now, I wonder if they left behind children at home to go to work and whether that was a difficult decision/process for them.

4. Penn State Scandal. Most people's hearts break for kids who've been abused, whether you're a parent or not. But now, as a parent, I not only feel heartbreak and sadness but extreme anger because it hits closer to home. I seriously think I'd be capable of committing a violent crime against someone who hurt my child.

Maybe this is obvious, but it surprised me. I'm surprised by how everything is now perceived through the mommy lens. And since I'll always be a mom now, I wonder if this will be the case forever. And I wonder if my mom, in her mid-50s with three grown kids, still thinks of everything through the mommy lens. Or I wonder if she's recently been surprised by the way she sees everything through grandmommy lens? Just thinking out loud on this one. And then I'm reminded that this is part of growing up - becoming a parent and learning to live and think and see like a parent, which ultimately is about, for the first time in your life, living your life dedicated to someone other than yourself. It's awesome but scares the **** out of me at the same time, I guess like all things worth doing in life.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

letting go.

Being a mom is a whole lot about letting go.

Even before Lana arrived, I was learning that lesson. The songs in my iPod playlist were carefully hand-selected for the occasion of birthing a baby. It was the perfect playlist, matching every possible mood and situation that could come up in the delivery room, with an appropriate tune - from the Amelie soundtrack (early labor, just getting warmed up) to MJ and Jamiroquai (getting a little harder) to Bon Jovi--specifically, Shot through the Heart--and Metallica (the real deal). After I made the playlist, I had this romanticized notion in my head of delivering Lana (in a mere 5 min. of pushing, obviously) with my beloved music playing in the background. And then I would be happy but tired but still look really good in my post-delivery picture and everyone would say omg you totally don't look like you just had a baby! Ok well, if you read my previous post, you know that this did not happen. (I looked bloated after the c-section and refused to take a picture for days.) It was hard letting go.

I am a control freak. And a perfectionist. Having a baby is completely at odds with these two styles. Life is not in our control, but before you have a baby, you at least feel like you have some control. For the most part, you sleep when you want, eat when you want, go out when you want, read when you want, make plans and then carry out those plans, etc. If you want to spend half a Saturday reorganizing your closet first by article of clothing and then by color (don't judge), you can. Then this little blob comes into your life and, well, frankly, it's a hot mess.

There is no rhyme or reason to what they do sometimes. Before becoming a mom I remember other parents talking about baby's sleep ALL. THE. TIME. I never realized how much of a battle it is. I thought it was easy - you just put baby to sleep. I had to let go of that stupid idea. I had to let go of the stories in those stupid baby books that make it seem like it's easy to get baby to do [insert whatever it is you want baby to do] (whose babies are those anyway?). I had to accept that babies do what babies do, which often means it takes an hour to put them to sleep for a nap which lasts 30 minutes. When you are so new to this utterly bewildering role called parent, you are so desperate for anyone to tell you anything that might help. I talked to mom friends constantly, I bought a million baby books and read them all, I read every baby blog and website there is. But I realized that in the end, what I needed wasn't a how-to on raising a baby. What I needed to do was let go. Don't get me wrong - you should do your research. I learned so much talking to friends and reading. But by 'the end' I knew basically everything I needed to know - what I was really searching for was a quick fix, one that would fit nicely into my control freak and perfectionist scheme. That, I assure you, doesn't exist. Once baby starts sleeping well (for us, at 3 months) and you start enjoying 12 hours of sleep with only one interruption, baby turns 4 months and then goes through sleep regression. Then baby starts teething. And on and on and on.

I'm realizing that all these difficult aspects of parenting aren't really anomalies but the norm. This is what being a parent means. You spend forever trying to get them to sleep well. Then they regress, sleep well, regress, then finally they sleep well. Then they don't eat well. Then it's a battle to get them to eat some veggies and not just half a chicken nugget, two french fries and a go-gurt. And then they go to college. So I better let go and enjoy it all before Lana goes off to college.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

part 2.

[and we continue...]

So at 9pm, my OB left to go see some other patients and think about what to do. At 9:30 she came back and gave me a look of pity and frustration. It's weird to say that someone is frustrated with your cervix but that was exactly the case. She said to me, "why aren't you dilating young lady??" then said she's sorry but it has to be c-section. I knew it was a hard decision for her, but she said Lana's head seemed to be stuck and it was best to just get her out. I was pretty upset but tried to remember that the end goal is getting Lana out safe and sound. After my OB made the decision, things happened so quickly. Within a couple minutes the anesthesiologist came by to increase the drugs to c-section level (you still have feeling in your legs/torso with the regular epidural but obviously that shouldn't be so for the c-section) and explain the procedure. I was wheeled into the OR and SH was taken to put on scrubs. As I was wheeled away I said bye to my mom (bc only one person is allowed in the OR). I could see the worry in her face so I put on a brave/"I'm cool" face and told her she would be seeing Lana soon.

The OR was so cold. I was transferred to the operating table. I felt like I was in a movie. I'd seen the OR countless times in movies but, thankfully, never in real life. Before I could really develop that thought there was a whole flurry of activity. Lots of people started coming in and doing lots of things. Maybe 4 or so nurses, my OB, another OB, the anesthesiologist and SH. SH stayed to the left of my head and the anesthesiologist to the right. He was like the coach through the operation, telling me how I was going to feel (or, not feel), what to expect, etc. It helped to ease my worries. The curtain went up at my waist so we'd be spared the show of blood and guts. Then the side effects kicked in - uncontrollable shaking and clenched teeth. So not pleasant. The docs and nurses gathered around me and for a few minutes things were quiet so I asked the anesthesiologist when they'd be starting. He responded, "uh, they did." Ok well good to know you did your job doc because I don't feel a thing! I was wheeled into the OR at 9:40pm and 14 minutes later, at 9:54, Lana was born! The first time you hear that cry...it is absolutely surreal. no. Unreal. Surreal implies a mix of reality and fantasy. It was UNreal - nothing real about it. For months you carry around this...strange thing in your belly that you love but are also a little freaked out by, but no matter how much you try to imagine it, you can't. You can't see it becoming a real live baby. Then, all of a sudden, There she is. Once she was out, the nurse called SH over to see her. She wrapped Lana up and handed her to him. He brought her over to me so I could see her. I heard SH sniffling behind the mask. (I totally knew he'd cry.) And there she was. I can't really explain how I felt at that moment. I thought it'd be a rush of love and joy. And don't get me wrong. It was. But honestly, it was also a good dose of shock. I smiled so big (well, as big as you can with your teeth clenched shut) but I was also just staring in disbelief at the same time. She was really a person! Imagine that. A person that belongs to us. Holy crap.

So, I don't really remember clearly what happened after that. I guess they finished up whatever they had to do with Lana (weigh her? clean her up some more?) and I was in the OR a little longer while they finished up with me. I was then wheeled to the recovery room. I think Lana followed shortly thereafter, and then the nurse called my mom to see Lana. I was so excited for my mom to see her. I can't explain why other than it sort of felt like the greatest show and tell ever. :) After grandma and granddaughter had a chance to meet, the nurse brought Lana to me to breastfeed. She latched on right away, like a champ. It was craziness! She breastfed for a little while but newborns are so sleepy so they often doze in the middle of eating. Once we got her to eat for a little while, she just hung out in my arms sleeping, skin-to-skin. If you don't know about kangaroo care, here's a link describing it. The human body is so amazing.

Once I got feeling back in my legs they wheeled me up to the postpartum room. By this point I hadn't eaten or drank anything in 24 hours except ice chips. My kingdom for a glass of water! When the nurse came by and asked me what I wanted to drink I almost kissed her. If you've never been to a hospital, you are lucky. And also you wouldn't know that they give you these tiny little juice cups. I asked her for apple juice. She brought over 2 of them and let me tell you. It was the most delicious thing I had ever tasted in my life. The nurse said there was a fridge with more juice if I wanted so as soon as I finished the 2 cups I made my mom get 4 more and I drank all those too.

I honestly don't remember all the details about what happened at the hospital after this point - it's all a blur of recovering from the c-section + intense sleep deprivation. But here is the general summary:

1. Lana was a great baby at the hospital. She never really cried unless she was hungry. I kept her with me for two days straight (I stayed 4 days because I had a c-section) but after that I was so sleepy that I had her stay in the nursery for a couple of the night feedings, which helped immensely. I originally wanted to exclusively breastfeed, but seeing as how Lana was still hungry after breastfeeding, I decided that supplementing with a little formula would be ok. At 2 days old she downed the 2 oz. bottle like it was nothing! Now I have the opposite problem - she WON'T take anything but the boob. It's fine now since I'm not working, but I'm a little worried about when I do start working.

2. The nurses were AMAZING. Between the nurses and SH and my mom, I think I changed one diaper in 4 days at the hospital. They were so helpful, so nice, so accommodating.

3. I didn't have much of an appetite my entire pregnancy. I waited my entire pregnancy for that "eat like a pregnant woman" phase and it never came...until I had the baby. My appetite RAGED the second I had Lana. Well, lucky for me, Hackensack has great food. I ate. so. much.

4. By day 3, my nipples were in so much pain. Stick your finger in a baby's mouth and see how hard they suck. It's seriously insane. It made me realize how hard it is to be a mom. My mom told me so many times about how she cried and cried trying to breastfeed me because it hurt so much. I now understood what she meant.

5. The hospital is like this dream world where everything's taken care of for you. The reality of baby doesn't hit you while you're in the hospital because of the adjustable bed (so key when you've had a c-section), the nurses who do everything for you, the fact that you don't have to move or go anywhere or do anything other than breastfeed and go to the bathroom. Other than losing the adjustable bed, I am so lucky in that nothing much changed when I went home. I stayed in our bedroom with Lana, and all my food was cooked and brought up to me by my mom or aunt. I don't think I went downstairs for days! I really think that I don't know how hard having a baby really is, because I was so spoiled after I had Lana. Before my mom left for China (when Lana was 3 weeks old), she even took Lana and slept with her a couple nights here and there so I could get a full night's sleep.

6. Postpartum blues - oh man. Before I had Lana I didn't think I'd get the blues. I'm a pretty level-headed not overly emotional person so I thought, oh, that won't affect me. I also wondered how you could cry when you have a precious new little baby. I have never been more wrong. It hit around week 3. I was SO hormonal and emotional. It's not constant blues. There are highs (staring in awe at your baby) but then there are lows. Low lows. I was crying over such random little things. I bawled when my mom left for China. I thought I was going to fail as a mom and that Lana would be ruined forever. Dramatic, much? But this is real stuff. For any moms-to-be out there reading this, know that it's a hormonal thing and that it will pass. If your lows are really low talk to your husband and ask him for comfort. SH was so amazing, reassuring me that it wasn't me, it was the hormones, things would get better, I'm a good mom, I can do it without my mom helping, etc. You just need a lot of warm and loving words and it'll pass. After about two weeks I felt much better and almost back to my normal self.

Lana turns 5 months tomorrow. The time FLIES! It flies so fast that I kind of wish I wrote this story down earlier because I feel like I'm forgetting a lot of things. Moms-to-be, write it down earlier if you can! I mean, the first two months are just a mess of sleep deprivation and poop but if you can muster up some energy to do it, you will thank yourself later.

Being a mom has completely turned my life upside down. Sometimes you wistfully remember the olden days ("honey, want to go out to eat? sure! let's go! and let's invite our friends! and let's get drinks afterwards!") but you realize those kinds of things are small pittance of sacrifices compared to what you have (going out to dinner at 5pm to a restaurant 5 min. away and shoving the food down in 20 minutes so you can get home in time to put the baby to bed before The Meltdown). Hopefully I can write regularly here to chronicle mommy life - the highs, the lows, the funny, the not-so-funny (usually deals with poop) and everything else.

Monday, January 9, 2012

interruption to regularly-scheduled programming.

We interrupt the regularly-scheduled programming (namely, the riveting ending to the l&d story, which will be posted soon) to bring you new year's resolutions. Yes. Resolutions. And maybe I've already lost your attention because you're probably thinking "I don't have time to read about yet another person's aspirations in 2012 of a tighter [insert body part]." And you're probably right... in that I don't have anything novel on my list of resolutions. But I think it's something worth saying if only to memorialize what motherhood is doing to me (changing my perspective, and making me super efficient - I wrote almost this entire entry from my iPhone while breastfeeding).

I actually just have one resolution. And I think it's funny (read: telling) because it's the first time ever that this is a resolution for me. In the past it was always about DOING something for self-betterment. A fitter, happier (I couldn't resist), wiser, better-read, richer, more philanthropic, more patient me. And all those things are good. But it's different this year because, well, a baby flips your life upside down and inside out. Thus, my perspective has changed, and it made me realize that this is all I really need in terms of resolutions. 

The resolution is this: enjoy and be content with NOW. Don't wish for the future. 

I've been doing this (as in, the opposite) my entire life. And now, I think this needs to be parsed out a little. I think this is actually made up of two parts: first, it's pessimism. I really think I'm a born pessimist. I'm always wishing for something better. In 3rd grade I distinctly remember walking through the halls of my elementary school unhappy with my middle-of-the-school-hierarchy situation and wishing I were a big cool 5th grader. Second, it's an overly results-oriented point of view...the journey/destination distinction. I hate being in-process. I want to be THERE. My wonderful hubs (an "I'm-enjoying-the-ride" optimist - it sometimes seems like a miracle that we wound up together) reminds me often that I do this, but shouldn't. But always gently. He reminds me how blessed I am, now. How I can't keep wishing for the next phase of life to happen. And of course I know all this but it was always a struggle to believe it. BUT. Having a baby has finally driven the point home for me. I enjoy every day I spend with her. I don't wish for the future. In fact for the first time in my life I feel like I'm wishing for the opposite, for life to stand still where it presently is. It is amazing to see Lana grow leaps and bounds daily. One day she's curiously examining her feet. The next day she's grabbing them. Tomorrow they'll be in her mouth. We all know that having a baby changes your life. Before actually becoming a mom, I thought I knew what those changes would be, that they were obvious - your time, energy and money all go to the baby, you have new feelings and emotions as a parent, you appreciate your parents more, raising a baby makes you feel completely clueless all of a sudden, etc. But now I'm realizing that it's so much more. Every nook and cranny of my life is changed. And, in a surprising turn of events (for me - not for all the parents out there who are reading this going, mmmmhm), parenthood has helped me confront and address one of my worst sins. At the root, pessimism and a destination-oriented mentality are lack of contentment. And lack of contentment is ungratefulness. Ungratefulness is believing that you deserve more. And I don't. I certainly don't deserve Lana. or my husband. or anything else. And thinking I do sets me down that path of entitlement which is so dangerous.

1 Timothy 6-7: "Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world." 

I guess these two verses will be my motto this year. If I follow it, I think I'm in for a great 2012.

Monday, January 2, 2012

and...we're back!

i guess now is as good a time as any to revive my blog! i've actually been writing this entry for a while now (on and off for the past 2 mths) but haven't had the time to finish it. it's not done but i wanted to start getting into the habit of blogging again so this is installment #1 of my labor & delivery story. installment #2 will come soon after that (i hope). happy new year everyone! i hope and pray that it is a healthy, joyful, blessed year for everyone.


hi everyone! i'm finally back, thanks to some nudging from my friend kyu. :D i've been meaning to write but it's just so hard with a new baby. just when you think you might have an inkling as to what's going on, babies switch things up, just to keep you on your toes. i've learned to never make any generalizations about lana (at least not yet) because as soon as i utter them, they are no longer true. anyway, with that said, since she's no longer a newborn waking every 2 hours (the time FLIES!) i thought now's a good time to change this blog from a pregnancy blog to a baby blog. the benefits for me are twofold - one, it's fun to write about (and get feedback from other moms about the extremely bewildering adventures of mommyhood) and two, it'll be a good way to record how things went with lana.

as fraulein maria sang, let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. the below is my labor & delivery story, so if you're willing to read this, might you take my suggestion to brew up a nice little spot of tea and curl up in a comfy position on the couch with your laptop bc it's gonna be long. o_O

my due date was aug 23, but bc lana was already pretty big, my OB decided to bring me in 6 days early to be induced. so on aug 17, my OB told me to come to the hospital at 7pm, but not before confirming with the hospital that they had room for me. so i called a little before 7pm, and sure enough, they didn't have room for me. (i'm telling you, it's the cold winter months that make august a very popular month for having babies.) anyway i digress. so i tried to take my mind off my impatience by watching airbender. that boy is so cute. after two hours, i couldn't take it anymore so i called back. still no room. i called again and again, but the delivery rooms were still packed. so by 11pm, we decided that it might not be happening that night and went to bed. of course, you know what happens next - i fell asleep at 11:15pm and got a call at 11:30pm to come to the hospital by 12:30am. so we got right back up and headed out. let me tell you - that was a very strange car ride. i mean, we looked at each other as we drove to the hospital and said, "so...this is the last car ride for us before we become parents. whoa." the craziness of those words rang in my ears the rest of the way there. it was such an anticlimactic drive leading up to a very climactic event.

ok, so moving on. i got to the hospital, got checked in, and the nurses set me up in the delivery room. i gotta say, the nurses at hackensack are awesome. they really helped me feel at ease through the entire crazy and sometimes scary process of bringing a baby into this world. ok, so first step was IV. i've never ever been admitted to a hospital, just been to the ER a couple of times. so this was my first time getting an IV. how come no one ever told me how much it freakin' hurts?? it didn't help that the first time the nurse tried, the IV needle thingamajig was defective so she had to pull it out and then try again on my other hand. the resulting bruise from that first attempt lasted two weeks. it really really hurt. second step was monitors - one for baby heartbeat and another for my contractions. turns out, i was having contractions already but i just didn't really notice bc they were pretty mild. third step was cervidil, this thing they put in your birth canal to help induction. the resident on-call put it in, and she also checked my dilation at that point - still 2cm, same as when i had seen my OB a few days earlier. (i predict that only people who have already had babies will read this, but in case i am wrong, i don't want to assume that you know the appropriate measurements, since i definitely did not until i was pregnant. you - or more precisely, your cervix - needs to reach 10cm of dilation to be able to push out a baby. i was at 2cm.) after that, i basically slept on and off till 7am. well, i would've slept better except the damn blood pressure cuff went off every 30 min. and as soon as it started constricting my arm i'd wake up.

at 7am, my OB came by. she checked my dilation - not much change. maybe 2.5cm. so she took out the cervidil, started me on pitocin and broke my water. that was a very weird feeling. all of a sudden this warm liquid gushes out of you...and keeps gushing out...and then you change positions, and more gushes out. once my water broke, the contractions started coming pretty quickly. by 8am, my mom came to the hospital. as soon as she walked in, i remembered something - all those times that i got into trouble as a kid and my mom would say "do you know how hard it was to give birth to you? i passed out afterwards for 24 hours! you'll get it when you're a mom." and i'd respond always with "yeah yeah whatever." man. at that moment those times came back to bite me in the butt and i felt immensely sorry and grateful towards my mom. but you know what? once your mom's kid always your mom's kid. the poignant thought lasted about 30 seconds (until my next contraction hit) and then i was whining for her to come massage my back. the contractions were quickly getting stronger and stronger. each time they came, sh or my mom would massage my lower back, which seemed to be the best thing to help me cope. i would also imagine really happy things like our honeymoon in hawaii or going snowboarding. i'm telling you, the mind is seriously amazing. the imagery really helped me cope with the pain.

at noon my OB came by, i was maybe 3cm dilated. still not much progress. she said she'd come back in a few hours to check again. at 12:30pm i asked for the epidural so my nurse called for the anesthesiologist. she came by and said, "he's coming soon. btw, he's the best anesthesiologist here. he can epiduralize me anytime." that, was weird...but i gotta say, slightly creepy and sexually charged comment aside, i did feel better knowing that he had my nurse's vote of confidence. so by 1pm the anesthesiologist came. he was my savior. seriously, the whole procedure was done in 8 min. and after about 10-15 min., i had complete relief from the pain. i was scared of the epidural needle bc i've heard that it can really hurt. and it did hurt but it was bearable, a small price to pay to have relief from the contractions. after that, it was mostly an uneventful day. as in, no events happened that should've happened. as in, i did not dilate as i should have.

my OB came back around 5pm - i was about 4cm dilated. a far cry from the average dilation rate of 1cm/hour since i had been on the pitocin for 10 hours at this point. -_- she looked concerned by now - she said that she'd give me another 2 hours to see how things were going, but that based on her exam, it seemed that lana's head was not as far down as it should be. so for two hours, i literally prayed nonstop. i visualized my cervix opening and dilating (though i have no idea what my cervix looks like so i just pictured a hole getting bigger). at 7pm, my OB came and said i was maybe almost 5cm dilated. since i had made the most progress in the hours from 5-7, she said she'd give it a little more time. so then it was another two hours of praying and visualizing. but when the 9pm hour of reckoning came, it was disappointing news. i had not dilated much at all since 7pm. my OB said it was pretty abnormal for me to dilate this slowly, and she attributed it to lana's big head and her inability to come down into the pelvic cavity. she said she didn't want to resort to a c-section but that we might have no choice. she said she would think about it for a bit and come back. i was pretty upset at this point. i really never even fathomed that i'd have a c-section. my pregnancy had been very smooth, lana was super healthy, and everything had been textbook till this point. plus, i was looking forward to giving birth naturally (as in vaginally, not sans drugs, of course). it really felt to me like a rite of passage that i wanted to go through in becoming a mom. my mom and sh were there to assure me that whatever happened, it was for lana's best interest, and that everything would be fine. and i knew that. but it's still hard to deal with a change in course when for months and months you had thought the delivery would go a certain (non c-section) way.