Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Love Letter to My Parents

Hey, is anyone still hanging out in this corner of the internet? No? Well, I've been pretty crappy about posting, so that is completely understandable. But I'll happily post to no one!

This morning my parents drove off to get back to their lives. The last couple of days have been tear and dread filled as we got closer and closer to them pulling out of the driveway. Granted, the emotions have been heavily influenced by my messy postpartum state. But that is a post for another day, hopefully one in the near future. Now that I'm alone again during the day I hope to get back into the swing of things blog-wise.

So Mom and Dad. They drove up here 5 weeks ago thinking I'd have C at any moment. Um, it was a really long two weeks and one day for all of us. Especially me. Especially Z. Especially my folks. Yup, for all of us.

Since I became a mom I've had several occasions to spend extended time with my parents. And unsurprisingly it makes me think a ton about growing up. My family life hasn't been perfection and daisies and unicorns, I'm not trying to whitewash anything here. None of us were or are perfect. We've all hurt each other in pretty catastrophic and creative ways. But what family doesn't do that stuff? No one is perfect. People hurt each other, it's life. It my opinion it's worth it because the good so far outweighs the bad. That comparison is something a boyfriend once said as he was breaking up with me. He said it doesn't make sense to stay together when the bad outweighed the good. It was an awful relationship, thank god he had the balls to end it. And what he said really had a profound influence on the way I view any kind of relationship, that one sentence was one of the best things he gave me in our more than two years together. Over the years it has made me think of the ebb and flow of good times and hard times in any close relationship in my life. It made me start to accept that people won't be perfect and things will be hard no matter what. It helped me start to forgive people close to me for perceived hurts that I nursed for more than a decade and made me realize I'd done plenty of hurting myself. I bet you a million bucks he wouldn't remember saying it. It's funny how small moments in life can be so important to one person and so insignificant to the other. So yes, my family isn't perfect. But there is a lot of good there.

It isn't like I won't talk to them every day. T will still see them via Skype (the world's greatest invention for grandparents who live far from their offspring). But living with them again for a month made me feel like a kid again. Or it made me remember being a kid more than I usually do. And there is something incredibly melancholy about knowing that time is gone forever. As a kid all I wanted to do was grow up. Don't get me wrong, now that I have my own family I wouldn't give it up for anything. I just wish I'd appreciated my life as a kid when I had it. The other reality is my folks are getting older. Thankfully they are in great health, but they aren't the same people I lived with in high school more than a decade and a half ago (gulp). This idea that I could exist in a world where they do not is inconceivable to me. I still need them. My boys need them. Again, they are totally fine. In my mind they are going to be around for several more decades. But it makes every moment we can spend with them feel important.

They were a tremendous help with both T and C, and frankly, with me as well. I was in pretty rough shape for the first two weeks after leaving the hospital. Having my Mom there to take care of me and my kids helped me get better faster. They did the cooking and cleaning and childcare. Z only missed teaching two classes while I was in the hospital, they helped make it unnecessary for him to have to miss anything else. We were spoiled rotten. Of course I'm going to miss all that stuff. It made my life ridiculously easy. But it isn't what I'm going to miss the most.

To me the best part of their visit was how much I like them and enjoy being around them. Swear to god. I'm not blowing smoke up anyone's ass here. I really do feel like they are friends that I look up to and seek out for advice. I also have a ton of fun with them. We laugh all the time. And the way they are with T? I'm so grateful he's exposed to their brand of silliness. Every morning my mom would bring T into their bedroom so he could wake my dad by jumping on him. And my dad would throttle him with a pillow as he laughed hysterically. My mom would shout "Cowabunga!" and jump on the pair of them. Before I put him down for a nap today T pointed to his belly and said "Operation! Liver! Onions! Bologna!" to me. Every day my dad would pretend to operate on him by pulling liver and then onions out of his belly and telling him his belly was full of bologna and it needed to be sewn up before it all fell out. When he said goodnight to T he'd pretend to pull birds out of his ears. They both would chase him around the first floor of the house, all three of them shrieking and laughing. And T's constant refrain was, "Again! Again!" My folks know how to have a good time with a two year old.

They know how to have a good time with a 34 year old as well. I admire them and I don't have the words to express how grateful I am to them for everything they do for us. I already miss them so much.

He really isn't supposed to be in the bassinet. 

And yet, here he is, having a ball.

 Um, here it is being used properly.

He loves chewing on metal. We have no idea what it means, but it makes us laugh pretty hard. 

Super-Grandma and her boys. 

The two Ts. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

C's Birth Story

The first several weeks postpartum are completely overwhelming. Duh. And yet, I sort of forgot they would be. So sorry for the lack of posting. I keep meaning to, I keep wanting to, but life keeps getting in the way. Which I've realized is totally OK. There is a lot about the last week that I do want to write about, but I'm 10 days out from giving birth to C and I'm already forgetting details, so I'll go back to hospital visits 3 and 4 and delivery for today.

Shortly after midnight on the early morning of August 31st I felt a gush of water that woke me up. I waddled to the bathroom and felt a bunch more come out in the toilet. Then I peed. Then I woke Z and my mom and we got going to the hospital. Since it was my second visit in a 24 hour period they put me in triage. I explained what happened to the nurse and she got the resident to do the test for amniotic fluid. No dice. They waited two hours to redo the test and to see if I progressed from 4cm dilated, all the while my contractions strengthening. Again no dice. I asked what they thought happened. They said there could have been a second amniotic sack (they did an ultrasound and my fluid levels looked good) or I could have peed myself (I really didn't think so. I'd peed right after, they were two completely different sensations. But I was still only 4cm dilated, they'd talked to Doc A and he said to send me home.

At this point I was so frustrated I didn't know what to do. My contractions were really strengthening and getting longer, and I knew I shouldn't go home, but I was so confused and upset and exhausted I didn't communicate that to anyone. My mom came and got us at around 4am. When she pulled up I was having a contraction that was so strong I couldn't move to get into the car. Back at home Z took a snooze and mom timed contractions. After an hour I couldn't bear it anymore and we roused Z and went back to the hospital. The receptionist clearly thought I was a nut ball, but the same nurse was there and she said she thought she might see us again before the end of her shift. Even though we were back in triage I told her I wanted an epidural as soon as possible. I was scared it would be too late because I knew I was progressing fast.

You need to have tests and be hooked up to machines for a while before the epidural can happen. The resident came back and found I was more than 5cm, so I was admitted. Shortly after that Doc A showed up. He said I could get out of bed and move a bit to work through the contractions, even though they want a bunch of fetal monitoring before they do the epidural. It really helped to sway and hang on to Z and moan and grunt through the pain. By then the contractions were so severe that when one would happen I'd be rooted to the ground, the pain was so profound I remember thinking I wouldn't know what to do if I didn't get an epidural. I had no idea how I'd push because the contractions paralyzed me completely. Doc A checked me out, and sure enough I was already at 7cm. Thankfully the anesthesiologist was waiting. Z was fascinated by all his glass vials and needles and the two of them hit it off discussing the intricacies of the procedure. Even through the blinding pain I was amused and a little proud that Z has such an incredible thirst for knowledge. So Z watched his new buddy insert the needle in my back with great interest while the student nurse in the room suddenly rushed out. Turns out she got lightheaded.

Within one contraction I realized I had no idea what an epidural really was before. The one I got with T helped for a few hours, but when it was time to push the pain was bewildering. I had no idea what to do or how to push past it. This time I was as jittery as hell, and my left leg was extremely numb. It's not a group of sensations I'd ever seek out recreationally, but sweet jesus, it was a million times better than the contractions. After about 5 more I could sort of feel when I was having them, but the contractions were a very far off sensation, and not at all unpleasant. At the next check I was 9cm dilated. I continued to drift. Not loving the jitters. Not loving the numbness. And I did want it all to be over. But I was so grateful to be out of the pain. I started to feel some pressure, again it wasn't unbearably painful. I just knew it was time to push. Doc A confirmed my suspicions.

There was a flurry of activity. The room was filled with my nurse, the student nurse, the nurse who was teaching the student, a med student, my doc, and the Chief Resident who'd been my doc on the first two visits to the hospital, and of course Z. They gathered around in a semicircle and the doc told me to start pushing like I had to poop. So I did. Even though I thought I'd have no idea how to do it, I somehow did. I had wanted to grab Charlie's shoulders and pull him on to my stomach the same way I did with T, but there wasn't enough time. It was all over in 5 pushes. On push 3 my water broke, on push 4 his head was out, and on push 5 his shoulders slipped out right along with the rest of him.

He was set on my belly and as soon as Z saw his face he said, "Another Cordano baby!" I didn't get a good look at the face until a while later, I still can't get over how much he looks like T. Delivering the placenta was easy as pie. In fact, I pushed so hard that it shot out and Doc A said, "Hey! Slow down or I'm gonna drop this thing!" And Z did get to use his great grandfather's snips to cut the umbilical cord. As I lay there holding my baby and feeling so completely happy with everything in the universe I heard Doc A mumbling to the Resident. Turns out I tore along the scar tissue from T's birth. From what I could make out it was clear he thought the original repairs were not well done. As Z and I cooed over our New Guy I half listened as Doc A explained to the Resident how to fix me up right. It was Greek to me, him telling her that it would look fine if he just went through the blah blah tissue, but tearing would happen again unless he went deeper into the blah blah blah tissue. It was so cool to hear him teaching, and I felt like I was in such good hands. I was also 100% happy with my epidural decision. I wouldn't have wanted to go through the stitches without one.

When the stitches were done I asked Doc A if all the placenta was really there. I didn't get to see it with T, and I was shocked at how small it was when he held it up. For some reason I thought it'd be as big as the baby. I guess it's held such ominous significance in my life it really has seemed larger than life. He said it was all there and then he explained to everyone why that was so. It was something about the veins crisscrossing the entire thing. All the people in the room (save me and Charlie) had gathered around him to check it out, even Z. The camaraderie in the room among the medical staff was amazing. It was just so fucking positive and awesome to see people learning. I felt relaxed and grateful and I was thrilled Doc A was using my placenta to teach new medical professionals. It was the least I could do after having a birth where I felt supported and encouraged and comfortable with my care.

 Ellie Leonardsmith and her lovely wife/photo assistant were in town yesterday and they did a newborn shoot with C. Naturally, all photos by her.

And here is the photographer herself. Photo by Kelsey, the lovely wife/photo assistant. Thanks to both of you wonderful ladies!

Friday, September 2, 2011

New Guy Is Here At Last

Charles Abraham Cordano Leonard was born August 31st and 10:05am weighing 7lbs 2 oz at 20" long. He'll go by Charlie. We are in love with him. As much as I cringe in writing this (it's the kind of turn of phrase that usually makes me want to gag) his birth was a deeply healing experience.

There are these kind of birthmarks called "stork bites" or "angel kisses" that tend to fade within the year. T had some on his nose and eyelid. C has them all over his face, but the best one is the lightening bolt on his forehead. He's my little Harry Potter.

I can't wait to write about trips number 3 and 4 to the hospital, and his delivery. Especially his delivery. That is going to be one happy post. But I'm going to skip ahead to about 6 hours postpartum first. Get the kind of gross story out of the way so I can really focus on the happy stuff. First, let me assure you guys that I, and most importantly C, are 100% fine. Second, I know, I know, if it's not one thing it's the other with me, but certainly nothing is every easy...

Bare bones: I hemorrhaged kind of a lot. The amazing staff at this hospital handled it with compassion and efficiency. Everything is totally cool now.

Details: Postpartum it appeared that my uterus was shrinking nicely. The bleeding made me nervous, but it was more the memory of what happened postpartum with T than a super excessive amount of blood. Z was monitoring things for me and when I suddenly passed a large clot he sort of freaked and grabbed the nurse. The nurse and I thought he was being nuts. But then more came out, and then more. And then the nurse got her supervisor. The supervisor thought it wasn't a big deal. But then more came out while she was there. And then more. And the supervisor got a resident. During this process my parents and T arrived and got to see C for about 15 seconds before they were hustled out to the waiting room. 

The resident started pulling really large clots out. It was painful, I was starting to have contractions again, and I was really starting to panic. Z went to the waiting room and sent my folks and T away. I'm pretty grateful about that part because they didn't hear the screaming that came a few minutes later. A call was placed to my doc. The chief resident came in. So did a third resident who had experience with "boggy" uteruses. They were trying to be gentle because I had a 3rd degree tear along with several other tears (will explain about that in the birth post to come). But they were reaching into my uterus to get at the clotting. It hurt more than the contractions before I got the epidural. That's when I started screaming. I'm deeply ashamed that I also started begging the poor woman who was helping me by taking away the clots to stop hurting me. Z was by my side the whole time, usually he is incredibly stoic during crisises, but he was terrified.

Meds were being administered to try and contract the uterus, lots of pitocin in an IV, a shot of something in my thigh, tablets wedged between my cheeks and jaw that slowly disolved, pink pills. And the amount of clots combined with the blood flow was completely overwhelming. And the pain, the pain felt never ending. Finally the docs seemed sure all the clots were out. The bleeding began to slow. They cleaned me up and the bleeding stayed under control. Everyone became much less worried.

So what the hell happened? There was no retained placenta. A clot blocked the flow of blood, so a bunch of blood got caught behind it. And more clots formed. And more blood got caught behind them. And so on and so on and so on. My uterus seemed to be shrinking and firming up, the bogginess was sporadic. And when they pressed on my belly and it would seem soft, some blood would squirt out (sounds gross, totally normal postpartum) and it would feel firm again. My medical care was excellent. It's my uterus that is the problem.

The upshot is I lost more than a liter of blood, so I've been pretty damn weak. But I don't need a transfusion. They are giving me iron pills and vitamin C tabs to help with absorption. As painful as the vaginal and rectal areas are, it isn't as bad as it was with T. I've been rockin' the percocet and they are going to send me home with a prescription for more. My recovery is going to be a bit longer, but my folks are here to help. Z has been amazing. And best of all, Charlie is total perfection.

I'm leaving a bunch of stuff out, but it's the middle of the night. The only reason I'm up is because the percocet has worn off and I'm waiting for more. The climb out of the haze of pain relief and into my ladybits throbbing and burning sucks and I couldn't sleep.

Again I want to emphasize that everything is now cool. I'm still going home tomorrow afternoon. C is doing a great job nursing. T thinks C is the most awesome thing going. My care at the hospital has been fantastic, both by the nursing staff and the doctors. Doc B showed up briefly after the hemorrhage to check on me. She checked on me again early this morning and my wonderful Doc A was here later in the morning. It's easy feel relaxed about this whole thing when the care I've received has been so wonderful.

OK, now that we have the unpleasantness out of the way the next post will be full of the warm fuzzies and details about C, all the really blissed out good stuff.

I think we're gonna keep him. 

Yup, definitely. 

Doesn't Z look particularly handsome here? 

T dropped to the floor and begged to hold him when he first arrived. He cried when anyone else tried to take a turn. He says C is his baby.