Sunday, December 7, 2008

Nothing less than pathetic

I have been sick for the past week with a severe cold, I am tired, and I am growing increasingly unstable. On Friday, I talked with my therapist about my struggles. She suggested that I ask for help. A great idea, but it's a bit more complicated than that. I can't ask for help, or rather, I can't deal with the consequences of asking for help. I don't ask for help for the same reason that I don't invite others over to my house or host parties. I am terrified that no one will show up.

After that meeting with my therapist, I did take a friend up on her offer to come over and hold Pepper while I got a few things done around the house. It seemed like a safe first step to learning how to ask for help. She doesn't have any children herself and by all of her accounts her schedule is very open and flexible. She agreed to come over for coffee this morning. She never showed up or even called. So much for trying to overcome my fear.

Paying someone isn't even an option. Having only one income is quickly catching up with us, and it is only by the power of persuasion with the gas company that our gas and electricity is still turned on. So the suggestion that we get a sitter seems pretty ridiculous when our budget for food for a single week is $20 and I can't go to see my psychiatrist because I don't have the $130 to pay for the visit.

It's all starting to build now. I am frustrated. I feel defeated by mommyhood, my bipolar illness, and this cold. I need some continuous sleep. I need a break. I need some help, but I am terrified to ask.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My day in a nutshell

Here's the daily dialogue in my head:

"What did I come in here for again?"

"Now, where did I put those keys?"

"Where the fuck is my cell phone?"

"Where did I put my coffee mug?"

"What day is it?"

"Where is my [insert the name of any given part of my breast pump here]?"

"I wonder where I put my wallet."

"Who the hell put this here?...Oh...me."

"Seriously, where the fucking fuck is my cell phone?"

I think you get the gist of it. It's a true miracle that Pepper doesn't get left in the Neverland that my cell phone tends to occupy.

On a side note, I met Meredith Small (author of Our Babies, Ourselves) today. More on that meeting another day.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Who are you calling a waste?

How did a month go by so fast? I just realized that it has been over a month since I last posted. Honestly, not a whole lot has happened since then. Our sweet Cusco left the world very peacefully and I can only hope to leave this life with the same grace. I am still working at the wine shop, although much more frequently now. As such, Husband and I are playing baby relay. The up side is that Pepper is always with a loving parent. The down side is that those two loving parents are rarely with each other. Sigh. And before you read the rest of this post, please know that every single thing that we struggle through is worth it. I am eternally grateful for our little Pepper, and I wouldn't change a thing.

That's not to say that each day isn't difficult, because it is. I have gone from a fast paced life of endeavoring to obtain a profession to a much slower paced life of endeavoring to raise a child. The adjustment has been a challenge. I often sit in our neighborhood coffee shop watching everyone bustle off to their important business meetings or "save the world" efforts. Sitting their literally attached to my little one, I have this twinge of sadness. My old Ph.Duh. mentor mentioned the other day that I was wasting my talents by working at a wine store. This mentor is the same person who is often out of town for weeks at a time and is lucky to see his wife and daughter for an hour a day when he is in town. That's when I wonder who it is that's really wasting their talents.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

When love isn't enough

We adopted our German Shepherd, Cusco, over 4 years ago. He was a senior dog at the time and we knew that our time with him would be limited. Nevertheless, we wanted to give him a few good years in a loving home. Cusco has given us more love and loyalty than we will ever be able to return to him, even if he lived the next 30 years. But, now it seems that the time has come to say good bye to our giant cuddle bug. His back end no longer works and he has lost much of his control over his bladder and bowels. His mind is still complete though, and that makes it even harder to say good bye. He can no longer go for walks, or fetch his favorite tennis ball. He can't herd us anymore or bring us his ball over and over again. He can still love us though, and we can still love him. But for a working dog, I am not sure that love is enough to keep him happy and living a quality life. Tomorrow, we will take him to the vet for a final assessment and opinion that will either confirm or reject my instinct that the time has come. I pray that we have given him the full and happy life every dog deserves to live.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Scars

Almost three days have passed since my mother and stepfather returned to California after visiting us here in New York. For the first time in my life, I have connected with some fraction of how my mother feels about me. I am still processing the visit, but I must say that it was the best visit I have ever had with my parents. Sharing this phenomenal joy of motherhood with them has opened new doors of understanding and new avenues within the mother-daughter relationship.

Running perpendicular to my forearm are over 20 scars, like tics of reference on a ruler. I fear what my mom sees in those lines. We have never discussed them. Now with a daughter of my own, I am overwhelmed with guilt for how sad those white puckered interruptions of my smooth skin might make her feel. I secretly plead with the universe that I may never have to see those same scars on my own child's skin. Is there anything my own mother could have done to prevent them? Is there anything I can do to prevent those wounds from forming on my daughter's arms? Or is the damage that my DNA brings to Pepper already done?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A View from the Edge

Have you ever wondered what the view from the edge looked like? No? Me, neither. But I can tell you what the view is anyway. I sit here checking out the view as I type. It's a bit scary. And instead of waking my husband to tell him what my edge's view looks like, I am typing. From my view from the edge, I choose manically cleaning my house and doing all the things that I couldn't get done during the day because of my new baby. I choose this over taking my meds tonight. After all, if I take those meds, then I will have to sleep. How can you clean a house while you're asleep? Let's just say that when you are examining the view from the edge, it's best to not look down.

Friday, July 11, 2008

I'm pooped.



I was fully prepared for the new relationship I would have with baby poop once Pepper arrived. In fact, I expected to be constantly talking about Pepper's poop, assessing Pepper's poop, and just generally obsessed with all of her heiny products. Having the expectation prepared me for it and helped me accept it. What I did not prepare for was the other poop I would be confronted with and how this other poop would slowly wear me down and threaten my fragile sanity.

When Husband and I got home from a long day out and about, we found the remnants of a Macaroni n' Cheese box distributed about the downstairs. Cheese powder was strategically ground into the carpet. One of our Jack Russell Terriers, Wilson, had discovered the box of food stuffs that I had neglected to remember to bring to a local food pantry. Apparently, Wilson had also found an old packet of seasoning to make Thai Fried Rice. Cleaning cheese powder out of the carpet would turn out to be the easiest part of the clean up job.

The fallout began when Wilson puked in our bed at around 2 am that night. The next morning, I came downstairs to find trails of diarrhea all over the living room carpet. I quickly discovered that it is very difficult to hold a one month old baby and scrub runny dog poop out of synthetic fibers. Pepper didn't like it very much either, actually. I finally gave up, sat down on the couch, held my baby and my nose, and quietly wondered if other mothers are thrown into a spiraling depression by the thought of their baby some day crawling around on carpet infested with petrified dog diarrhea. It certainly seems possible.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Outings

We only have one car. For the most part, this isn't really a problem. But now that we have Pepper, things are a bit more complicated. In order to get Husband to work and still arrange it so that I have the car all day, we all get up early and take him to work.

The first day we did this I decided to make the most of being out of the house by going to my favorite neighborhood cafe for some espresso and to read the paper. It felt so good to be out on the town with my baby. I was still significantly worried, however, about exposing my newborn to the public's germs. And, I think a substantial part of me was also worried that other people thought I was a bad mom for exposing my newborn to the outside world.


Nevertheless, I was thoroughly enjoying the experience of sitting in the cafe, reading my newspaper, drinking my latte, and rocking my baby. This lasted right up until I heard a woman ask another woman, "Is that a real skunk?" At that point, I looked up just in time to see a real live baby skunk peering out of the woman's handbag, about 4 feet away from me and my vulnerable baby.

What was I thinking? How could I take my baby out on the town without considering the possibility that people would bring their newly rescued baby skunks into the cafe with them. Just when I thought I had considered all the dangers the world presented, a woman takes her skunk out for coffee.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Pepper's Birth Story

I had delusions of grandeur regarding the telling of this birth story. Perhaps if I had more than two arms, 6 more hours in the day, and more than 2 hours of sleep in one stretch, the writing of this birth tale would actually do the real thing justice. But, I suppose it's time to lower my expectations of myself for a little while at least. So the following will have to do...

Sunday, June 8th, I awoke around 9am to what felt like little more than pre-labor pains, very similar to the low back and lower abdomen discomfort I feel during my periods. Husband promised we wouldn't just sit around waiting for something to happen again and he took me out to breakfast. By 11am we were having waffles and I was making trips to the bathroom for digestive distress about every 10 minutes. Husband was noting the time of any pains that seemed more uncomfortable than the usual. They were probably happening every10-15 minutes without any defined beginning or end.

When we got back home, I got in the bathtub with the hopes of settling my aching lower back. Once I did that, the discomfort seemed to get organized. Suddenly, I could identify a start and stop for the low grade pain and pressure in my pelvic floor. So we called the doula and she decided that it was probable time for her to come over. By the time she got to the house it was around 2pm or so. I was getting out of the tub because laying on my back back was no longer cutting it. The doula and husband helped me to remember to breathe and relax my face with each surge of the growing pain. I think by this time, I could actually call it pain and finally started to believe that I was really in labor. We enjoyed some smoothies that husband whipped up and then the surges were coming every 4-6 minutes. At that point, we all decided that it was time to go to the hospital.

Husband loaded up everything our little car could hold and we headed out for the 40 minute drive. It was great to have the doula in the car to coach me through the contractions while husband focused on driving safely. When we arrived at the hospital it was about 5:30pm, and I could no longer talk or walk when a contraction came on. It required all my concentration to breathe through the pain of them. Once admitted, they put me on the monitor and Curry was looking good. From there, I couldn't wait to get into the tub.

Once again, the tub seemed to ramp things up a bit. The water felt fabulous between contractions, while the surges were surprisingly intense and yet still manageable. Time becomes a strange thing when in labor. It went fast and yet so slow. While in the tub, the nurse checked me and said I was only 2 cm but 100% effaced. About an hour later, she checked me again and I was fully dilated. In that hour I experienced more pain than I thought was humanly possible. I moaned and groaned, despite my hope to make it through labor without a single cry. I vomited and then pronounced that I couldn't do it anymore and that I didn't want a baby afterall. Classic transition signals, apparently.

Shortly thereafter they put me back on the monitor to check how Curry was handling the rapid progression. She was struggling. With each contraction, her heart rate took a dive. I didn't realize it at the time but there was a fair amount of concern in the room and suddenly the room was filled with nurses. The lead nurse yelled to another nurse to call the doctor and tell him that he didn't arrive soon, the baby would arrive without him as I was already pushing. In those moments they put in an IV and shoved an oxygen mask in my face. Thankfully, I had no idea why. I was too caught up in my urge to push. But once I did see the IV I recall telling everyone, "Bring on the drugs!" Luckily, everyone had read the birth plan and no drugs were brought.

I pushed for about 20 minutes at the most. In between pushing, I begged the doctor to just take her out. Turns out that they were considering it after all. The doctor was concerned that Curry wouldn't be able to take many more dips in her heart rate and he was quietly preparing to do an epiosotomy and vacuum extraction. But Curry had other plans. She came so hard and fast that there was no time to stretch my perineum as I had hoped. At 9:20pm, Curry the fetus morphed into Pepper the baby when she emerged from my body. She was wide eyed as they immediately laid her down on my bare chest. Pink and perky, Pepper let out a tiny cry and was quiet again as she scoped out the room. At that moment, all pain disappeared and I was totally in love.

Meanwhile, I bled and bled while we awaited the delivery of the placenta. 750mL of blood loss makes me a very weak girl. Plus I had two second degree tears from the quick delivery. My cervix decided its job was complete when it closed up for the night. The doctor had to pry it back open and that my friends is not pleasant. It took about 40 minutes for them to get the placenta to come out. I no longer believe that the afterbirth is the easiest part of labor.

All in all it was a fast furious labor that went basically to plan. I go over the labor and delivery in my head at least once a day, trying to remember more details and seal the memories in my head forever.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

DOB: 6/8/08

Our baby daughter came safely into this world at 9:20pm on Sunday, June 8th. She's a little guy at 6 pounds 2 ounces. We are well and a birth story will be forthcoming. For now, I need to keep up my sleep to maintain the slim hold on sanity that I have at this time. Promise to write more later.

Until then, here's some baby love for ya...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Progress

At 39 weeks and 6 days, I am mentally totally ready for this baby to make its appearance. I had my doctor's appointment today and from the finger test, my doctor says that I am 2 cm dilated and 75% effaced. Good news from my perspective. While I know that these numbers don't necessarily guarantee a delivery any time soon, I am still reassured that my body is willing to get into the game. To keep my body motivated, I went for a good long walk after the appointment.

I am not sure that I totally buy into the idea of imagery and visualizing but I figure it can't hurt. I have been making deals with the baby and giving her instructions on how I want things to go from here on out. I also do goofy things like picturing my cervix yawning casually open very wide and then imagining the baby settling down into just the right station.

The funny thing is that I really want a natural birth and yet I really don't want to go on being pregnant for the next two weeks. So when the doctor said that he would give me another week at most, I was a bit happy about it, even though I knew that meant induction. And the word "induction" doesn't usually have a great link with the term "natural". To reassure myself I reminded my body that my sister had to be induced and still was able to proceed naturally after the initial kick start.

And, so we wait and see.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Uncharted territory.

I have no school, no job, no pressing duties, and I really don't know what to do with myself. This may be the very first time in my life where my sole responsibility is to rest, eat well, and wait. It's the road less traveled in my journey. Weird stuff.

The idea that I, like so many other first timers, will likely gestate well into the 42nd week is a bit depressing. Unwisely, I have focused on my due date of June 4th. Now I am starting to realize that I may be looking more at mid-June. Ugh...

On the bipolar front, the mood coaster has been fairly smooth these last 9 months. I got the clearance from my psychiatrist to go ahead with trying to breastfeed after labor. This was a great relief considering her original plan was to put me right back on mood stabilizers as soon as the baby was born, meaning no breastfeeding. I am hell bent on trying to breastfeed, and now she is on board with the plan as well. So long as I don't show any signs of PPD or psychosis. Just typing that last word makes me shiver.

Spending time just lounging fosters unfounded guilt. So, I pass the time by visiting you all and your lovely posts. Speaking of which, Aurelia has great news, if not eventful. Stop on by and see for yourself.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Trust Issues

Yesterday, I lounged around all morning. After about 3 hours of doing nothing, I realized that I hadn't felt Curry move all morning! Panic set in pretty quickly and soon I was drinking a liter of juice, laying on my left side and begging Curry to give me a nudge. No movement. Husband and doctor were contacted. Within 15 minutes, I had thrown my pre-packed hospital luggage into the car and we were on our way to the hospital for a non-stress test. I practiced doing some deep breathing relaxation on the 30 minutes drive there. By the time we were 5 miles from the hospital, I felt her give me a little punch in the ribs.

While I waited to be hooked up to the external fetal monitor, we could hear a young woman screaming in labor in the next room. Every once in awhile we could make out the words, "It hurts!" I have no problem in general with women needed to scream out in pain. But, I could have used some ear plugs during those few moments.

Finally, they hooked me up and I heard the sweet sound of my baby's heartbeat. The nurse smiled and said things looked really good. Apparently, I even managed to have a good contraction that popped up on the monitor. At least that's what they told me, I didn't feel a thing. Nor did I feel any of the movements that they said Curry was busy making. Perhaps, she had turned herself around so that most of her kicks were into my back. Who knows what my naughty daughter was up to yesterday, but by the time we left the hospital she was back to her tricks and kicking me firmly in the ribs.

On the way to the hospital, I realized that I have some trust issues. All of the natural birthing books I am reading consistently emphasize that women must trust their bodies to do the right thing during labor and delivery. I am not so sure that I trust my body to know what to do. It's sad that miscarriage and mental illness has convinced me that my body doesn't know a damn thing about any of the stuff that it should.

Monday, May 12, 2008

To Term

Done! All the work is handed in and I walked at my graduation yesterday. I am still in a graduation haze and the fact that l@w school is finally over is very gradually settling in. Now, I can focus completely on having this baby without feeling guilty that I am neglecting school or other obligations. For the next 3 months, I have only one obligation and that is truly exciting. It's a whole new idea to me and I am hoping to milk it for all it's worth.

The nesting instinct is starting to take hold, although not in the most productive way. Instead of feeling energetic and feeling the need to organize and clean, I just dream about it fitfully. Then I wake up and remember that nothing has been done and there is still so much left to do.

On the humor front, I fielded a junk phone call the other day. For some reason I felt the need to humor the person and tell them what types of magazines that I was interested in reading. The caller latched onto the idea that I am pregnant and suggested Fit Pregnancy. Not a terrible idea. She quoted a price and I asked how long that would be for. Answer: 5 years. Um, I'm not sure that I am going to be pregnant for five more years, but hey, what do I know?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

One down, so many to go...

Just finished one final. I have one more final to go, plus a paper. I feel so close and yet so far.

I am having almost daily emotional breakdowns which are just fun for the whole family.

We had a scheduled meeting to interview our preferred and highly recommended doula. She never showed and when called professed to forgetting. We rescheduled for today, despite my husband's legitimate doubts about her at this point. I am unwilling to give up on her, but am unsure why. Lunacy does that.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Overwhelmed

Just a quick post to tell you all that I am totally and completely overwhelmed by the number of things that need to be done in the near future. I am working on writing 2 papers for an incomplete I opted for in one of my classes last semester. I have 6 clients in my clinic class, instead of the usual 2 or 3. I am working 10 more hours a week at the wine shop because a colleague is out with a serious illness. I have a presentation to make on prison mental health care (a sad story for another time). I am preparing for graduation in May. And, I am trying to get ready for Curry to come in June (God help me if she comes earlier). I could go on, but I think you are getting the gist of it.

Plus, while procrastinating all of this stuff, I surfed to a blog where a woman described losing her fetus at 36 weeks (go see Serenity's blog for the link as well as her own happy news). I am still in mourning for this couple. And as a result, I relentlessly poke and agitate Curry to get her to move and show me that her heart is still beating.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Can you hear me now?

Sorry for my silence. Apparently, l@w school really is a full time affair. Sheesh, what a bother.

After reading some info on the development of Fetus (nicknamed Curry), I found that her ears have developed enough so that she is hearing a lot of what I hear in a day, even if its significantly muffled. I spent a little time thinking about what it is she hears during an average day. The list looks something like this:
  • long boring lectures about family l@w, education l@w, and social security
  • my snoring during aforementioned lectures
  • litigants screaming at each other during so-called negotiation conferences (I am externing for a county judge)
  • loud thumps as litigants' attorneys bang their heads against the wall during aforementioned conferences
  • a whole lot of crunching, gurgling, slurping and other sounds originating from the beginning to the end of my digestive system
  • my voice singing to the many lively songs of the Violent Femmes
  • many, many episodes of The Simpsons
It will be a miracle if after hearing all of this, Curry wants to come out and live with us at all.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Back from the sun.

Sorry for the long pause, my friends. I flew to California to see my family (3 sisters and parents etc.) for about a week or so. My mother succeeded in guilt tripping me into flying out. It has been over 2 years since I have seen them all, so it wasn't that difficult to guilt me into going out there. Plus, there is the added bonus of seeing the sun during the Winter. A rare site in upstate New York in January.

Every time I see my sisters, I am subjected to a mini-makeover. The sisters are wholly disgusted with my undyed and graying hair, my unshaven legs, my unkept eyebrows, and unmanicured fingernails. They delight in sneaking in trips to the beauty salon. This time I got a manicure and my eyebrows waxed. While they know I won't be dying my hair any time soon, they never miss a chance to feign surprise at how many gray hairs I have grown since the last time they saw me. Maybe next time, before I go out there, I will dye my hair gray. That'll shut them up...for a minute.

On the fetus front, the AFP (alpha feto protein blood screen) came back negative (which is a positive on the relative scale). However, I am having a new anatomy scan done in early February because there was no sign of the right kidney in the first scan. I guess we are going to be greedy and insist on finding two. Doctor seems totally unconcerned and confident that Fetus just wasn't feeling like a show-off the first time around. I am confident that we will see both kidneys next time. Honestly, I am just excited to be getting another scan. Maybe this is the wrong attitude, but it keeps me sane (relatively) for now.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

If it's not NPR, it sucks.

While driving through our tiny downtown area the other day, I was bopping along to our local college radio station. You know the type. They play some good alternative music, along with episodes of music where I wonder out loud whether the college generation has gone totally tone deaf, and then those station saving sections where they have a theme like jazz, or acoustic, etc. After one of their better songs, the DJ comes back on and starts talking about the end of 2007. This is what she said:

"Well, I am sorry to see 2007 go. It was an incredible year. We saw Britney shave her head and Paris Hilton go to jail. What a year! Can't wait to see what 2008 has in store for us."

Um, what?!?!? That's how they mark the incredible events of 2007?!?!? Fucking unbelievable. Granted, 2007, wasn't a great landmark year, but surely the supposedly half educated among us (in other words, college students) can find real things that happened, and not what the latest tabloid-queens have been doing. Pathetic.

Just another example that proves, if it's not NPR, it sucks.

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In other news, Husband and I went for the anatomy scan yesterday. It was to say the least, spectacular! This whole pregnancy feels so much more real and apparently there really is some kind of baby in there. One that moves, even. And, since the technician couldn't find anything that resembled a penis, we are running with the idea that it's a girl or a baby boy without a penis. Take your pick.

And now for your viewing pleasure, here's an image of her very strong arm.