Sunday, June 29, 2008

Shhh...It's a Seacret!

Yesterday, I ventured out to our local luxury mall (you know, has all the stores that are fun to look in and think...someday...) so that H could have some good (free) play time in their gorgeous new play center while J slept off his night shift. I loaded the double stroller, both kids and a full diaper bag to find at the end that I had a trickle of sweat dripping down my face. Looking outside from the comfort of my central a/c, it was foggy and overcast. Silly me, I had forgotten that in Massachusetts that doesn't mean the same thing that it does in Portland, because it was already in the mid-seventies...'Hello Mr. Humidity, it's so nice to see you again!'

While I was walking from our lunch at California Pizza Kitchen, I decided to take a lap of the mall before heading to the elevator (no, I'm not lazy, but there's no other way to get a double stroller to the next level) when I was accosted by Mr. Kiosk. He started out simply by handing me a foil packet sampler of lotion. Easy enough. I smiled nicely and attempted to keep walking. Argh...I was sucked into the vortex. Why did my parents have to raise me to be one of those people who can't just snub someone once they've made eye contact and start a conversation with you?!

After noticing my snaggly nails and dry cuticles, he made the astute assertion that I 'keep my nails natural.' I told him that I'd recently taken off my acrylics; although I love the way they look, they take too much time and money as I have to go in between fills to get them filed since I like them really short. Prenatal vitamins + faux nails = too much time and money to maintain for something that any SATC character would scoff at anyway. ("I only saw her shoes and her nails...both acrylic.")

Back to Mr. Kiosk. He asked if he could demonstrate something on one of my nails, and I grudgingly let him take my hand and start using one of those square nail files that they use in the salon with a foam center and a different surface on each side. As he was working with the vigor of a meth addict who cleans the floor with a toothbrush, he explained in his thick accent the purpose of each side, how often I would need to do it, and for what duration. As the name of the company was Seacret, and one of their primary products was dry Dead Sea salt, I think that he felt it very important to let me know that he was from Israel; perhaps lending credo that the product he was hocking really was the real McCoy?

When he was done, he had me close my eyes before revealing a nail that he proclaimed would astound me with its sheen. Okay, I was ready for that natural nail sheen that we've all seen when we get our nails buffed. What I wasn't prepared for was that it looked as if I had two coats of clear nail polish on my nail, an effect that he assured me would last a full two weeks. He soaked a cotton ball in a liquid, asked me to smell-onize it and was happy that I knew it was acetone. He asked if I thought it would take the sheen from my nail, and I replied dryly that I was assuming not, or else he wouldn't use it as an example.

I then asked the important question; How much? The nail care kit was 'only' $69.95, but carries a one year guarantee and the cuticle oil is re-fillable for that period of time. I politely declined. He then let me in on the seacret that his supervisor had approved for him to give a free gift to a 'very special customer'...did I mention that he had an eye goober and looked like he hadn't brushed along the gum line in about a year?

He had me hold the file, which he said that I could purchase for only $45, and then I'd get the rest of the kit for free! Wow! I smiled and again politely declined while wanting to let him in on a seacret of my own. While I may have slogged through two years of Deutch in college to avoid taking the ONE math class that would have given me a BS instead of a BA, I am not a math retard. If the entire kit costs $70, you are not doing me any favors, or losing any profit if I pay $45 for a file (which I found on Amazon, brand new, for $4 later that night.) So long Sucka!*

Needless to say, I moved fast enough to shame any mall walker when I spotted the 'straightening iron' kiosk. While it's fine to have only one shiny nail, Mr Humidity had not been kind to my coif and the last thing I need is to look like Cruella De Ville because I couldn't buy the darn thing.

*However, my nail that was buffed is still super shiny today, so I'm using my customer credit on amazon to snatch up that nail file and cuticle oil...if you're interested you can find it here, and I'm actually recommending it...just not at the mall kiosk price.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Budding Artist?

I was watching the documentary My Kid Could Paint That, which was really interesting and pointed to how the value of some forms of art really is in the eye of the beholder (or the bidder).

Por Exemplo, yesterday H mixed up all of his playdough colors and then flattened it with my rolling pin.

I was standing at the table with him, when he beamed up at me "It's Water!" Now, whether this was him putting a name to his masterpiece or just more confirmation that he is most likely color blind, I guess that will have to be in the eye of the beholder as well.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

It's the Most WonderFALL Time of the Year

I'm looking outside my window, and I feel a bit like the little kids on The Cat in the Hat. It's been raining all day, sometimes sideways, others straight down, but it all adds up to one thing...a day spent inside.

It was fortuitous that I got an email from Mom Central about Beaches' Resorts WonderFALL celebration. It's often hard to plan one more thing to do in a summer that is jammed with activity. Beaches has thought of everything for you, as they're running a special that will help intice you to travel this Fall. Right now when you stay 5-6 nights (between September 1 and November 4, 2008) in any one of 4 locations, you'll get 1 night free, and if you stay 7 nights, they bump it up to 2 free nights! Next to planning my dream home, I love to plan dream vacations, so I immediately went to the site and started to click away. I have to admit that while I was browsing, my attention was initially focussed on the 'honeymoon' and 'girlfriend getaway' packages and not on those that included taking your children with you.

Last year, J and I went to Maui while Granny and Papa stayed with H at our house, and it was the best vacation I've ever had. While I know that I'll treasure the memories created at future family trips, I've always felt like it was really important to continue placing importance on the relationship that made you a family in the first place.

Those sentiments aside, I rolled over to the "Fall Family Fun" and found that they're doing a whole Elmo/Sesame Street themed getaway for families, as Beaches is a sponsor of the beloved PBS classic. Ever the consumate viewer of PBS kids, this was something I already knew, and have to admit that those commercials are such smart marketing, as I'm sure I'm not the only mom sitting at home bleary-eyed with lack of sleep with her kids from about 5:30am until 9 when we turn off Super Why.

Oh yeah, and the vacation is obviously on a beautiful island resort and is could it get any better than that?!

Perhaps the most family friendly feature was found at the very bottom of the page; an offer for single parents to receive up to $190/night in savings, making it more affordable for them to take that vacation on a single income.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Starbucks Can Cure What Ails You...

So imagine how stoked I was to read Lil' Mommy that Could and find out that Mel over at Life is Like a Box of Chocolates has reached the milestone of 500 posts and is giving away a Starbucks card and chocolates to one lucky reader?! two favorite things, caffeine and chocolate (which is really just more caffeine).

So, today I decided to go on a little trip to my local bead store, which I love, in order to get supplies to make earrings for my sister's wedding. I'm always amazed when I see the prices for earrings in the department stores, after knowing how much the supplies cost. What a racket! I left the house as soon as J woke up, leaving H behind as he'd been having a particularly challening morning, necessitating the taking of a break by moi. C and I were securely in the car and on our way when I realized that the store didn't open for 45 minutes. Hmm...what to do, what to do?

Lightbulb came on as I realized I still had the remains of a Starbucks card, which was perhaps my favorite in-hospital baby gift. I stopped in and enjoyed my grande non-fat light whip mocha (my 'weekend drink'); note the chocolate and caffeine combo.

C sat quietly in his carseat, leaving all to comment on what a beautiful baby he is, and I got to alleviate the slowly building withdrawl headache.

What a great day! I was insanely tempted to fill out the application for part-time baristas, if only for the free coffee.

If you want a chance at the giftcard, Mel is leaving her post open for comment until next week. Just comment on the post, that's titled "My 500th Post".

Saturday, June 21, 2008


My friend, Alex, is hosting a Happy Birth Days Carnival on her site asking moms to write the birth story of their children. While it seems that many times moms getting together start launching into labor and birth stories, how often is it that you get to tell the story of your child's birth from start to finish without another eager mom jumping in with a detail from their own that resonates? That's exactly why Alex has opened up her site for this forum. She'd like moms to be able to talk about what really amounts to the most important day(s) of their life.

I already talked about C's birth story when I wrote I Fell In..., but I haven't really talked about H's. Being a larger woman with hips of ample girth, I had never even considered the fact that I might not be able to have a 'normal' birth. I had watched my oldest sister have three c-sections, the second two were after looooooooooong trial labors, the first being due to a breech baby. I then proceeded to watch my little petite sister squirt out her little Mexican jumping bean babies like a feral cat in the closet...quick and dirty. I really thought mine would go that way as well. I imagined myself just having to bear down a couple times and having the child roll out of my body.

At the time that I was pregnant with H, I was working very full-time as a protective services worker for child welfare. There were also about 7 other women in my unit and surrounding units who were pregnant at the same time. We were all commenting on the high number of c-sections, and wondering how much the stress of the job played into that result. However, nobody ever thought for a second that my Swedish hips would need surgical intervention to remove a child.

When I was about 34 weeks pregnant, I found that I had already started to dilate. I went to the doctor and was put on modified bedrest. I immediately started to cry for several reasons; I am a planner and had made arrangements for my maternity leave, but had lots of loose ends on my open cases as I wasn't planning on leaving work for another 6 weeks. I wanted every second of sick leave to be used with a baby at home, not waiting for one. But perhaps more sad to me at the time, was that my baby shower was scheduled for that weekend in my hometown, and I would not be allowed to travel the four hours to get there...I know...petty. However, your first baby is your time to shine, and I'm from a really small town, where everyone would come and it was going to be a lot of fun.

Never ones to let me down, my mom and sisters piled into their car and drove the cake and gifts across the state to me.

When I was allowed to return to work at 37 weeks, I placed my cankles on a pillow and continued to type up open assessments so that I wouldn't have anything to worry about but my little cherub while I was on maternity leave.

Finally, my due date rolled around and my doctor decided that I was a favorable candidate for induction. I was ready to have a baby the following day bright and early, so I left work at half-day to get a pedicure. What?! Priorities!

My sisters, mom and dad and best friend (oh yeah, and my husband) were all present for the majority of the labor experience. I made it about 5 hours without pain management, but once that pitocin really kicked in, who was I kidding? That epidural was amazing!

At about 7pm, I was fully dilated and started to push.

And push...

Ahahahhahand push. My doctor seemed baffled, as he could tell that the pushes were effective and could feel that I had ample room in my pelvis.

After 3 hours, my doctor said that he'd try the vacuum for 1/2 hour, but that after that, we would need to start thinking about a c-section. This brought me to attention, as a c-section was something to which I was violently opposed. I did NOT want one. So I pushed some more, made a comment that wasn't so ladylike to my doctor reiterating my formerly stated violent opposition, and then the tears began to fall when my family was asked to leave the room, and they made me sign the consent form.

I was exhausted from pushing for so long, and nauseous from the medication. I remember the nurses and anesthesiologist kept commenting 'man, you're tall' as they pushed more drugs into my body, so I couldn't feel their little scratch test. H was pulled from my womb at 10:48pm on August 6th almost three years ago. Through an anesthetic haze, I saw his face for the first time, and kissed him awkwardly. In the recovery room I was physically sick, and didn't have the confidence to hold him, so it was essentially the next day before I really held my baby.

I was SO disappointed. My body had failed me. It wasn't until he was delivered that they realized he had been positioned face-up, which makes it harder for a vaginal birth.

I know that some people will be angry or annoyed, saying that I need to be grateful that I have a healthy child. I am eternally grateful for that, and I love him very much. The second night he was in the hospital, it all finally clicked and I let him just lay sprawling on my bare chest and we both slept so well. I was in love with him by that point. I do have to say, however, that having a successful VBAC has put the final touch on my 'healing process' from the c-section. I had a really easy recovery from my surgery, so it's not like I was traumatized by that, I think it was truly just the overwhelming sense of failure on my part.

After talking to some other people who had unplanned c-sections, I know that my feelings and reaction are not abnormal, which is why I'm being so frank in this entry. I want other people to know that it's okay to feel this way, but that it ultimately comes down to 'healthy baby, healthy mom=successful delivery.'

I can now look at my scar and realize that it doesn't matter how he was born, I'm just glad that he was. He's such an amazing kid, and I feel really blessed to have him in my life.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ding, Dong the Cord is Gone!

I awoke this morning and looked through my un-spectacled eyes noting that C's torso was strangely, well, beige. There was no longer a black stump hanging from his midsection. I quickly grabbed my glasses from the bedside table as the first thought that raced through my mind was 'Please God, let it be in his diaper and not stuck to my body somewhere!' There is just something so sick about that little remnant of the life cord that bonded you to your child in utero. What started as such a beautiful thing is now an atrophied little lump that you're not really sure what to do with because you really just want to be able to give your kid a good old fashioned bath.

I was relieved to find that it was safely contained and quickly doffed his diaper while almost simultaneously filling the little plastic tub, so that he could be inducted into the world of the freakishly hygienic family of which he is a member. I have not ever been the person that can get up late for work and just decide to skip my shower...nope, I'd rather be late and in trouble than feel greasy all day. (Don't worry, I won't bathe my newborn every day, I'm not that out of control.)

Today is glorious for another reason; a friend offered to take H for the morning, so that he could have a fun outing with a friend, and come home in time for a nap. I felt so strange being able to just nurse C and then sit and rock him as long as I wanted afterward, without having to worry that I was neglecting someone, or something. I vacuumed H's room while he was gone, since the sound of the vacuum still freaks him out (as do all loud noises, I'm so thrilled to find with the summer thunder storm season here.)

This two-kid thing is tricky, but I'm finding that I'll like it. These rough months will hopefully be rewarded with two boys who enjoy playing with each other. Not all the time, I'm not delusional, but I hope my kids can have the kind of relationship that I have with my siblings; like my parents always said to my little sister and I 'We had both of you so you'd have a friend, now go play!'

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Double the Pleasure, Double the Fun...

Half the attention for everyone! I am quickly learning that the hardest part of being a parent of multiple children is trying to decide how to best divide your attention. While I feel bad that H is getting less attention than normal, I also feel guilty that C is getting the short end of the stick from the get go. When H was born it was all naps on my chest and gazing into his eyes as long as our little hearts desired.

Now, it's changing a diaper, and latching C on just in time to help H climb up into the chair to start the 20 questions about the anatomy of my breast and whether or not it would be appropriate for him to 'hit C's milk.' (Which translated to him trying to smack my chest...nice.)

How is this going to work?! It may come down to Mommy getting a job and having the daycare split the difference. Or maybe I should let the ole post-partum hormones run their course before I make any drastic changes in my life.

I threw H a "Big Brother Party" which my lovely ER doc husband dubbed the 'choking hazard luncheon' as I served hot dogs, grapes and popcorn (and the sweet cupcake display above). Gotta love those hubbies.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Nursing with the Enemy

It's amazing to me how many little details you let slip your mind from the first child in order to psych yourself up to create the second. While I clearly remembered crying due to H's poor latch (prior to discovering the glorious nipple shield), I neglected to remember before stepping under the pelting blast of the shower that first day home from the hospital that it 'may sting a little' in those first weeks. I quickly remembered the trick of aiming the shower head a little higher so that a gentle cascade of water trickles over your tender area (read: areola) instead of the direct nettle-like 'massaging' spray of the head.

You might ask yourself why I only found that out after returning home...that's right, my room aparrently had no warm water coming out of the faucet labeled hot so I got to use the 'irri-bottle' filled with glacial run-off which is, incidentally, not so soothing to the nether regions. Also, it took a hot shower, or a shower of any sort, off the menu. Thank the lord I had a VBAC, or it would have been a looooong four days in the hospital. I would have been writing a blog called Sex and the Nasty instead.

Back to the subject at hand. I was very relieved to find that C is a much better nurser that was H, as confirmed by the lactation consultant who visited me in the hospital. That said, there is a limit to what will fit into their tiny mouths in the beginning which, when coupled with the fact that normal people don't have something creating a vacuum on their chest about 8 hours of the day, creates a bit of what one might call tenderness.

After the first couple of nights home, and the initial cringe and quick intake of breath still preceded the rhythm of normal nursing, I turned to my mom and exclaimed "It feels like he's nursing with knives!" This, of course, made her laugh. Well, I guess that's not an 'of course' to everyone, but we are the family who responds to the discomfort of others by laughing because we're nervous. The moment being lightened, my mind started flooding with all the quotes about bad dentistry from the movies that H has watched a million times and I started blurting them out like I had tourette's causing more laughter, which caused C's latch to be off, which caused pain, so we laughed more, because nipple pain is HILARIOUS!

In short, if you hear me saying 'I'm a piranha!' or 'He's got teeth like Ginsu knives!' followed by me laughing, just chalk it up to being sleep deprived. Because if you ask for details, I'll give them, and I'm sure you don't want to hear that much about my breasts.

*On a side note, this is a little historic moment for the ole knitty as this is my 100th post! It's exciting for me to see an increased readership and I appreciate all the feedback I've received...keep the comments coming!

**The image is of Darla from Disney's Finding Nemo which is from where I've taken the "I'm a piranha" quote. 'Teeth like Ginsu knives' is from Curious George the movie.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

I Fell In...

Since I spent so much time moaning and complaining about being overdue, I figured you deserved to get 'the story' now that he's arrived.

After several days of waiting, my doctor instructed my tear-stained self to report to labor and delivery on Monday morning at 8am, so that he could break my water and 'get things going', although he told me that he really wanted me to be able to just go into labor on my own.

Initially, I was ecstatic to finally have a real end in sight, but as the day drew nearer, I became worried that it was not the right decision. Hadn't my goal the whole time been to have as little intervention as possible? I wanted a successful vaginal birth this time so badly, and didn't want to let my impatience over-ride that goal.

Granny and Papa were scheduled to arrive from Oregon on Saturday night, and J got off a string of 10 days of overnights on Sunday morning. After getting to see SATC on Friday night, I had been feeling a little off all weekend, and confided in J each night as he went to work that if felt like "this could be it!" only to greet him with a sullen smile each morning in an even more pregnant state.

My friend Alex accompanied H and I to the airport, as I thought it would be more fun to give birth on I-95 with an audience than by myself. After not seeing my parents for almost a year, I was ecstatic to have them with me in the flesh. H was just as excited and didn't make it to his beddy-bye until 1am, although he soon landed in mine. After a brief 'lie-in' (aka waking at 7am instead of before 5), H and I were in the living room settling in for some awesome PBS Kids when Granny ambled down the stairs to H's delight.

We spent the morning walking around Davis Farmland while J got some rest; H excitedly showing Granny and Papa all the animals and also got to discover the 'fishing pond' with Granny.

For dinner, we decided we'd "Go Outback tonight" and I had a nice bloody steak with some brocolli...I guess I knew I'd need the extra iron? On the way home, we stocked up on the basics; Snickers Ice Cream Bars, frozen Chimichangas and about 400 gallons of milk.

I set my alarm for 6:45 so I'd have time to shave and wash my hair before heading to the hospital the next morning, and went to bed at about 10:30. I awoke at 12:30 to a cracking pain in my head, as J had rolled over in his sleep and head-butted me...nice. It was at that point that I realized I hadn't really ever fallen into a deep sleep, and that I wasn't feeling well.

I decided that if I wanted to shave my gams, I better get in the shower. After four consecutive 'pains' and one leg left to go, I envisioned getting out of the shower, wrapping up in my robe and sitting on the couch with a pot of tea and the heating pad so that I could ride out the pain and decide if it was serious enough to go in.

As I was trying to put lotion on my legs and couldn't concentrate on that simple task, I whispered J's name and announced it was time to go. Ever the Ranger, he was out of bed and dressed in about 30 seconds, while I was still struggling to moisturize...what? Who wants dry legs when you go to all the effort to make them silky smooth?

I pulled on what had become one of my two pairs of maternity pants, which were still damp on the chair where they'd been carefully lain to dry overnight in order to be ready for the morning, and slid into some flip-flops. After obsessing to J all afternoon about needing extra batteries for the camera, my mom knew that she needed to stand back when I snapped at him that I didn't much care about the camera batteries just then, as I was bent over the kitchen table with a contraction.

I did, however, apparently care about applying my facial moisturizer, as I instructed him to retrieve it from the bathroom prior to our departure. I silently thanked my friends who'd talked about packing a hospital bag, as it was now patiently waiting in the car for just such an occasion.

We arrived at the hospital at about 2:30am, after a drive that felt like it took about 10 hours and was full of the lovingly maintained streets of Worcester. I announced to J that I didn't know what I'd been thinking when I'd talked about 'going natural' this time, but that I'd be requesting an epidural upon arrival. I called my doctor's office to let them know I was on my way, and stopped several times in the parking lot to let the pains that were wracking my body ease before continuing.

I don't think I was prepared for the pain...

About five minutes after being in the room, I quickly turned into one of those women who I always make fun of on Baby Story and any other birth show who were avoiding pain management and used the utterance of 'low moaning tones' to help the pain pass. I was no Katie Holmes, that's for damn sure!

The resident came in and checked me to announce that I was at 6, which prompted my query "so I can have an epidural?" Seriously, they need to streamline that process and just have a little stool you can sit on in the triage where they put it in...

I fell in love with my anesthesiologist, and was told that I was now at 8cm. I let everyone know that before things got going, I wanted it to be made very clear that I did NOT want a mirror so that I could see the baby coming out. They laughed and assured me they only bring that in if it's specifically requested.

The on-call doctor arrived, had already been briefed about my case by my doctor, due to my impending induction, and was extremely positive about the outlook after checking me to say that I was at 9. She broke my water and I immediately felt the urge to take the biggest dump of my life.

They told me to wait before pushing, so they could make sure that I was really fully dilated...uh...okay...I'll just resist this all-consuming urge to...ooops...sorry, can't help it.

J reports that there were glances between the nurse and the doctor at one point since my polite banter had quickly turned into something reminiscent of how dock workers talk to one another, but I didn't really care...I now know what people say when they talk about the ring of fire. Nobody really tells you that the vag is not affected by an can still feel it all. I had a brief moment of panic in which I wondered if it was not too late to have that c-section after all.

Twenty minutes of pushing and I glanced through my squinted eyes as I was 'curled around the baby' and saw in the reflection of the doctor's face shield the most amazing (yet kind of gross and farm animal-esque) baby gushing out of my body followed by a blast of fluids that would put Niagara Falls to shame.

It was surreal. I had come to the hospital expecting several hours of pain and craziness, but in just over three hours I had what I'd waited for, and he was perfect. They laid him on my chest as soon as he came out and I kissed his slimy little head (something I thought I wouldn't be able to do, due to my personal issues with goo), ecstatic and feeling the biggest sense of accomplishment that I think I'll ever feel.

My doctor was so happy to come in at 8am to find me recovering, with the epidural and IV's already removed, and a healthy baby boy resting with Daddy J.

So there you have it. Sarcasm aside, it was amazing, and worth every second of over-due status. Welcome to the knitty fam, baby C!