Adult Brace Yourself

I had my braces off yesterday!!

It was a glorious day. I’m not at the end of my normal human smile journey but this was a big hurdle. Something I’ve wanted since after high school.

My teeth have always been a huge issue for me. I’ve always hated my smile. I have two giant front teeth with a massive gap and I never grew a right lateral incisor and my left one was just a pointy tiny one. I think this is genetic? And I believe it’s called a peg lateral incisor.

So when I was in high school my lovely parents paid for me to get braces. Unfortunately, my family dentist at the time did them and not an orthodontist. He removed the peg and I wore the braces for around 2 years to close the gap and make space for the incisors and at the end was fitted with a partial denture with the 2 teeth attached. A denture… at around 16 years old… prime boy kissing age!

And the denture wasn’t perfect either. One of the teeth was really small. It would later be dubbed “tiny tooth” by my nearest and dearest and it became a part of me. Something I would try to hide from cute boys but something we all openly laughed about in trusted circles.

Sadly, because I was too busy living life, dental care was the least of my worries my teeth eventually moved and my giant gap came back.

At this point I was well into University and too old for my parents to pay for braces again so I suffered through my 20’s with these shitty teeth and I vowed to get them fixed once and for all one day when I had a grown up job with grown up money.

Grown up jobs came and grown up jobs went. Every time I started a new job I would visit a dentist and get a quote for a dental overhaul and every time it was just too expensive.

And then I met my husband and one of the ways I knew he was the one was that I told him I had a denture AND I even removed it in front of him and he never ran for the hills. (I don’t tell many people about the denture. You guys are in my inner circle now as well) But I just hated everything about my smile. I felt like it was holding me back somehow. I didn’t like taking pictures. My dreams of Instagram fame were dashed because my selfie game was non-existent :).

At my previous job before this one I did my “new job dentist check” and the dentist had promised a quick fix that he would do himself and since he wasn’t a dental surgeon I decided to hold off until I found a new job yet again. So when I found this job I was so excited to start the ball rolling. I met with my dentist and a surgeon and an orthodontist and we put together a plan and two years ago around my birthday I was fitted with braces and was on my way to find true happiness.

One of my favourite things to watch on tv is makeover shows (see Queer Eye and Botched). I relate to these people so much and to love see the joy on their faces at the end result. I wanted to feel that joy. I needed it. And yesterday I got to experience it. And it was amazing.

Granted I’m not done yet. I have to go back to the surgeon to get dental implants that will take 3 months to heal and then after that back to my dentist for crowns and right now I have a retainer with two temporary incisors.

But yesterday was the first time I saw my smile with all my teeth being the correct size in the correct spot. Yesterday was just another dream come true for me. It was a great day. I still can’t stop smiling.

It was so worth the wait, I’m so happy. And my orthodontist office deserves special mention here. It’s run by all women and they’re just the best. They’re very caring and thorough. I’m glad they fell into my lap (dentist recommendation). I couldn’t be happier with the care I received there.

If you’re thinking about fixing something cosmetic on your body but you’re not sure and feel a bit trepidatious, take this post as your nudge to DO IT! DO IT! DO IT!

You won’t regret it. You deserve it. It will be worth it!

 

Before:

 

During:

t2

 

After:

 

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D-MER and Other Adventures in Breastfeeding

Oh no, not another complaining post. I promise my next post will be a bit more sunshiney and rosey :).

Before giving birth I’d mentioned that I wanted to do a post about breastfeeding. At the time I was petrified of the concept. I absolutely was not interested but I didn’t know how to articulate it without sounding ridiculous. I went to two breastfeeding classes to prepare myself and I even told the teachers about my fears but no one helped. They just said, you’ll get over it…  Gee, Thanks guys.

Sad to say, I was in the “no breastfeeding in public” group. Wait wait, let me clarify before you unfollow. I fully defend everyone’s right to breastfeed in public. I’ll go to the protests and I’ll fight our rights to do so but it always made me uncomfortable.

For me, breasts were sexual so it just made me uncomfortable thinking about them differently. And I didn’t buy that I would just get over it.

Thankfully, when Lucky was born, I was quite drugged up I didn’t have any emotion. So all the fear and creeped out feelings were gone. The nurses were a little forceful with my breast and his little head but at the time I really couldn’t be bothered. I remember him screaming and not getting it initially, poor guy.

I was one of the lucky ones though, despite my initial unwillingness to breastfeed. My milk came in on day 3 and he was doing really well by the time we left. But did I suddenly love breastfeeding? Nope. I still had no feelings about it. Bad or good. It was like I was on autopilot.

About a month into breastfeeding it became very easy and even enjoyable at times. It felt amazing to be able to be the only one who could calm him down. I was the most important person in his life and that was awesome.

Around month 2 everything changed again. Thrush, engorgement, pain pain pain. I was in tears almost every night for about 3 weeks. I just hated it but I couldn’t quit. I felt like the minute I quit he would get seriously ill or he would hate me. That mind game is something else, let me tell you.

Eventually the pain stopped and my body regulated but then something else happened. I started feeling dirty every time I breastfed or pumped. Dirty and full of shame and disgust. Like I was doing something extremely sexually perverse. But it only lasted a few seconds just at the beginning. The feeling was so deep and dark and disturbing and it made me sick to my stomach. Why did something so natural feel so wrong?

After a little while I started feeling it randomly throughout the day. Out of nowhere. If I was eating I would instantly lose my appetite and this terrible feeling of shame and disgust would wash over me for a few seconds and then I would feel a tingling at the top of my breasts. A slightly painful tingling.

I knew this shameful feeling though. I sometimes felt it after sex. Just for a short while. I would just feel awful and wrong and dirty. Why was it happening now?

I tried to ignore it but it was getting worse. But I still I could not quit breastfeeding. This incredibly awful experience was being trumped by guilt. He would most assuredly fall seriously ill if I stopped.

Sometimes while lying in bed I would scroll through Kellymom.com, the breastfeeding site, and I stumbled across a post about letdown. I’ve heard the term but I never really understood it. Letdown is when you breast fill up with milk and it’s usually triggered by hearing a baby cry or laugh or seeing your baby or nipple stimulation. It feels like pins and needles trickling from the top of your breast down. I finally figured out what it was. And then the last line jumped out at me. (paraphrasing) “Some women experience negative feelings just before a letdown”.

What? Really? That was me! I was some women!

I decided to do some digging. Searching terms like “anxiety before letdown”… “feeling dirty before letdown”.

A whole world opened up. My digging led me to this site, this book, and this facebook group. I couldn’t believe it. Firstly, I wasn’t crazy and Secondly, I wasn’t alone.

Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex, or D-MER, is quite simply a condition where lactating women feel negative feelings a few minutes/seconds before a letdown and it goes away shortly after as if nothing happened.

Feelings like sadness, anxiety, irritability etc. the opposite of euphoria.

It is a reflex, so there is nothing I can do to control it since it’s controlled by hormones and anecdotal evidence shows that it’s controlled by dopamine. The way I understand it is that you need prolactin to produce milk and to increase prolactin you need dopamine to drop. This sudden or irregular drop in dopamine for women with D-MER will cause the dysphoria and it usually lasts for 30-90seconds. Fascinating.

Another thing to note and what made me feel a bit better is that D-MER is physiological and not psychological. So, in essence, I’m not losing my mind, like I thought I was.

Can it be cured? I don’t know. The website said depending on the severity that you can take medication. But I don’t think a lot of doctors or lactation consultants know about it from what I can tell on the FB group. Also just eating healthy and staying hydrated can help. And awareness actually helped me a lot. Once I figured out what it was, it stopped being terrifying and awful. I could breathe through it and knowing it would pass in a few seconds helped as well.

What I didn’t and what I still don’t like is when it happens sporadically throughout the day for no reason what-so-ever. But for the most part it’s become something I can live with and can generally stave off if I drink my body weight in water. Recently, it happened while I was watching N take Lucky for his very first swim. It was horrible having an attack right while I was having the best experience.

But this discovery was huge for me and it made my breastfeeding journey okay again. I wasn’t experiencing the internal battle of quitting and being a terrible mother vs pushing through and hating every second of it.

And here we are, almost 7 months in and it’s… okay.

There’s a breastfeeding scene in a recent episode of the Handmaid’s Tale **possible spoiler** and boy was it made to feel like breastfeeding was the most glorious feeling and experience between mother and child. The over-the-top music and the lighting. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. Granted the situation in the show was extreme. The show in its entirety is extreme, of course, but that’s for another blog post.

I’m also suffering from a bit of breastfeeding aversion which is new. He’s started using me as a pacifier and I really hate it. The extra sucks irritate me and set my teeth on edge and if I pull him off he whines and if he’s asleep he’ll wake up and cry. I’ve tried quickly swapping a dummy for my nipple. It doesn’t always work. I’m still working on this. Lately I just clench my teeth until I can take him off successfully and either distract him or hug and shush him back to sleep. It’s not fun for either of us.

But anyway, as it stands now, physically, breastfeeding is very easy. My supply has dipped somewhat since I started work but I have a room in the nurse’s office (no lock but there’s a sign that says “do not enter”) and with new laws I can pump as often and as long as I’d like and I don’t have to explain anything to anyone. My child can switch between breast and bottle easily. He just loves breastfeeding and that makes me happy even though it’s not my most favourite thing to do. I’m happy that he’s happy. Everything else aside, it’s really being a blessing that it’s been so easy to just pop him on and everything is right in his world.

I feel bad that it’s come relatively easily to me knowing that some women struggle and wish they could. I struggle with the fact that I want to quit so badly sometimes after a bad D-MER attack or when the feeding aversion hits me, and there are women out there who dream to be in my shoes.

I often ask myself, what’s the end goal here? How long do you keep wanting to do this. And the simple answer is

Just one more day…

 

 

Thoughts on the Birth

When I reflected on the day that Lucky came into the world I used to get very angry and sad and I would always temper those feelings down with “But he’s here and he’s safe and the surgery was perfect”.

This constant internal battle with my feelings was extremely difficult for me in the beginning and I kept it all to myself because I didn’t want to seem ungrateful so I spent a lot of time explaining away my feelings and not dealing with any of them.

Eventually it all came to a hold when my parents left when Lucky was just over 4 months old. I cried for days. A mixture of missing my parents and my family and this nagging voice in the back of my head to talk to someone about how I wasn’t happy with his birth day. At this point I hadn’t even talked to N about it.

In the end I found a therapist and in that first appointment I just bawled and bawled incoherently and I finally got it all out. A few days after that I found the courage to talk to N about it and bawled and bawled some more and it really helped. It helped so much. It was just a tiny sentence with big meaning that immediately after talking about it I felt better. It took me 4 months to say “I wasn’t happy with my birth experience”.

I wanted to write about it as well but I just kept making excuses and blaming myself and I’m really glad to say that I’m done with that now. I’m still very sad that it wasn’t perfect but I’ve let go of a lot of the anger a little I think and that’s a start.

And I don’t think it was PPD. My therapist agrees. It didn’t feel how PPD was described to me. I was just unresolved feelings coupled with hormones and homesickness.

And usually my tagline is “Next time”. We didn’t get it right this time but next time will be different. But we don’t have the guarantee of a next time here. In my mind, this was it and it was ruined. And even if we did there will always be this black mark on my first son’s birth and I hated that feeling. I didn’t want to be angry. I wanted to be okay with it. But for a while there I couldn’t read or hear birth stories. Anything to do with birth made me angry and resentful and I didn’t want to feel like that anymore.

So I guess the simplest way to explain my feelings is to break down the three things that made this experience unpleasant for me and how I dealt with it all in my head. I apologise if this post feels all over the place. My hope here is to help myself heal some more and perhaps if someone else out there is feeling the same to know that they’re not alone and the words “at least your child is here and safe” doesn’t always make it better. Your feelings are valid.

The surgeon

If you read my birth story, you may have noticed that the operating surgeon was fairly non existent in this story. At the time I thought it was par for the course but the more I thought about it the more I realised that this woman failed us. People always make excuses for surgeons. Especially if they’re good at their job. And she was great at her job. As I’ve said, the surgery was perfect. I healed up really quickly and that’s all thanks to her but the way we were treated by her as first time parents going into a very scary situation will always leave a bad taste in my mouth.

First, she never explained anything to us. She did the ultrasound, declared that we would be having a c-section and I didn’t really see her again. I saw her for 2 seconds when she offered me pain meds and I barely even heard her while she was cutting me open. Not once did she explain to us anything about how a c-section works, risks involved, etc. Not once did she even look either of us in the eye to say the words c-section. Not even the nurses talked to us about it. They just came with endless forms to sign.

But D, you might say, maybe it was an emergency and she needed to get in there quickly. Well, I was told in the OR that this wasn’t an emergent situation and the anesthesiologist spent at least 15 minutes explaining what he would be doing. Also, a few years ago I had my appendix removed at this same hospital. I would venture to argue that an almost ruptured appendix is an emergency situation and while I was high on morphine the operating surgeon found a few minutes to come and talk to me and my husband about the procedure. I think the least she could have done for a scared couple was talk to them about what was going to happen. Especially since we had questions regarding the gentle c-section that we had to ask to the nurse.

She was also incredibly rude. She seemed annoyed with me when I wouldn’t relax while she was doing a cervix check and she barked at my husband when he asked if she’d done delayed cord clamping.

But D, you might say again, surgeons aren’t known for their bedside manner. You take what you get as long as you survive. Now, I tend to agree with this. I’d rather you save my life than be a nice person but we were told by the nurse and my OB that this is what the hospital offered and we were told that that’s what we would get. If the surgeon had taken a f*** second to talk to us she could have told us whether this was the case or not but she was nowhere to be seen.

And lastly, I never saw her again. She did no post op check or anything. My OB did the post op which I guess is standard but we wanted to discuss our disappointment with the operating surgeon and it was like she never existed. We spoke to my OB about what happened and all we got was a weak apology and shrugging of the shoulders. What could my OB do? She wasn’t there. We also spoke to my doula about it and she said we should write a letter to the hospital and/or the surgeon. It may not result in anything but may help us somehow. We have yet to write this letter,  however. I should just copy and paste this blog post :).

The doula

Let me preface this by saying the this doula group is fantastic. Doula L who was with us on the night was amazing and both her and my doula came to visit after baby was born and also checked in a few times via text for a few months after. I can’t fault them on their care on the day. However…

This mostly probably me not knowing what a doula’s role is and me not taking the reigns as far as letting her know what I want. I let her narrate what I should expect if I wanted a natural birth. And also, I’m talking about my doula R not L.

First, she wasn’t there. In the contract we signed she said that she would be on call for us 2 weeks before the birth and she went on vacation. I was due the 23rd and my ECV was scheduled for Tuesday the 19th. She said she would be there for the ECV, she would leave her family in Maine and drive to be with me for the ECV. At the time I was grateful that she would cut her vacation short to be there but technically… technically, she should have been available for me since I went into labour on the 18th. Anyway, I guess it was a blessing in disguise because L was incredible in R’s absence.

We were also not really educated on or prepared for a c-section. I understand that doulas advocate for natural birth but in an emergency will assist you through a c-section. I feel like my doula didn’t want to believe that I would need a c-section just because he was breech. That might be true but he was not turning and she kept saying I had time I had time. She never entertained the notion of a c-section so we weren’t adequately prepared and even more shocked. We met with our doula weekly for discussions about all kinds of birth but very rarely did we discuss c-sections. On the day when we were told we were going to have one doula L had to prep me and get me into that mindset in a very short space of time in between painful contractions. I think if we’d had this discussion prior I might have been more at peace.

Anyway, I’m not really angry about this. I just feel a little meh and sad about it.

And lastly,

Me

I’m so disappointed in myself for not advocating better for myself and Lucky. Why didn’t I speak up when I felt we weren’t being looked after properly?

Being wheeled into the OR I remember thinking okay this isn’t the worst, at least they can do the gentle c-section but once the spinal block was in and they were laying me down they put a sheet over me and it wasn’t the clear sheet that my OB mentioned and I just knew, I knew this wasn’t going to be a gentle c-section and I didn’t say anything. I clamped up. What was I afraid of? Why didn’t I just speak up? That green sheet is emblazoned in my mind. The moment I failed. My first mom fail and he wasn’t even here.

I’m telling you, friends. Living with that was killing me. And after he was out and they didn’t give him to me before cleaning him and they didn’t delay the cord clamping and seeing N’s irritation with the way the surgeon spoke to him. It was just awful.

 

Nothing went the way we wanted it to go and no “at least” was making me feel better. It was just crashing wave after crashing wave every time I relived the birth.

The only thing that have helped was talking about it. First to the therapist and then to my husband and now to all of you. And I do feel better about it. I’m not over it. I don’t know if I ever will be but I’m getting there.

Having Lucky in my life is also one of the only things that has brought me some peace. Because even though I feel the way I feel he IS here and he IS safe and being around him makes everything bad disappear.

I’m glad I got this off my chest. N says he doesn’t believe that I did anything wrong. He thinks that even if I did speak up, the surgeon would have done her own thing and not listened anyway. He’s probably right. It seemed like she didn’t want to deal with us. I often wonder if some surgeons have their backs up when they hear that you have a doula with you. That’s the sense I got from her. When we protested a little when we heard about the c-section she probably just wanted to get us the heck outta there.

Anyway, so that’s where I’m at with the birth. It’s not nearly as all consuming as it was, which is a relief.

I just want anyone who’s going through something like this to know that it’s okay to be disappointed. It sucks. Granted my birth had a very happy ending and my issue with it seems superficial when you think of how badly things can go during birth but everybody wants a perfect birth. Perfect for them. Don’t we deserve a happy birth after carrying a child for so long?

My wish is to be able to laugh about this one day. I’ve always wanted my birth to be a funny story and it had some very funny bits. While I’m processing this I’ll just be sure to cling to the funny memories and hopefully they will overshadow the shitty parts.

 

 

 

She’s Aliiive!

I certainly didn’t intend to take an almost 6 month hiatus from this blog. In hindsight, I really shouldn’t have waited this long because I’ve had some good stuff to write about but I guess now that I’m back at work I can make some time to write again I hope to get back into the swing of things rather quickly.

First things first. Lucky, is doing wonderfully. I don’t know where to begin. He’s just wonderful. I could talk about him for ages of course but this post isn’t about him. I just wanted to quickly write down what I want to cover to catch you all up on the past 6 months. Here are a few topics I want to write about:

  • Thoughts on the birth
  • Thoughts on being on this side
  • My experience with breastfeeding
  • My husband is now a dad
  • Next time?
  • Therapy
  • My journey with adult braces
  • Mom’s groups
  • My tribe
  • Favourites (I’m gonna bring them back in earnest)

I think that’s enough to keep me busy for a few weeks.

I’m slowly keeping up to date with all of your blogs and I’m right there with each of you (even if I’m a few weeks late). Reading all of your posts is motivating me to get back in asap.

I’ll leave it there for now. But know that we’re doing well. We have found our groove I think even though I’ll admit that I have no idea what I’m doing most of the time. I just know that he is loved immeasurably and I like to think that the way his face lights up when he sees us that he feels the same way.

Until next time friends.

xxx

Last Post of 2017: A Birth Story

Last year’s last post of the year was a tough read. Sure I was hopeful because we had 1 pgd perfect embryo on ice but the year itself was so so rough. And here I am a year later writing my very own birth story. Wow.

Man, I wish I knew where to begin. I want to start with how I’m feeling but those feelings are just too complex to unpack right now so I’m just going to start at the beginning and just recount his birth as it went from start to finish. Just the facts. This is going to be a long post.

I wrapped up work on Friday the 15th. It was a relief but didn’t really feel real since it was a Friday. The weekend was pretty uneventful. Had dinner at my mom-in-law’s, Went to a Christmas party and Sunday we had friends over then N and I went to watch Star Wars as our last hoorah together.

On Monday I had the fullest schedule. In hindsight I wonder if I did too much. That morning I was feeling a lot of the contractions and I told N to keep his phone nearby but I’d been having them all the time so we both brushed it off.

9am: I had an appointment with one of the cats. All is well, just a check up and some shots.

10:45am: Chiropractor appointment in Providence. Set up a follow up appointment for Friday. He wishes me luck for the version the following day. Stop at Target to buy a baby book.

12pm: Get home and rest for a while but all the while I’m running through the laundry list of things we have to get done. I still have to finalise my and N’s bag. There’s no telling what could happen at the version the next day.

2:45pm: Go to last OB appointment before the version. Everything looks good. We set up an appointment for next Wednesday in case everything goes well with the version.

3:45pm: Head straight from OB to Orthodontist appointment to tighten braces. I’m feeling a bit anxious about the next day because that damned bag isn’t packed. why didn’t I pack it last week? It’s okay, I have all night to get myself calm. I’m just doing my checklist in my head but I’m also going through the things I haven’t done. Like I haven’t really taken the gentle birth classes seriously. I haven’t really listened to my hypnosis tracks. I bought my affirmations but haven’t read them really. Can I really do this? Shit is getting real now. But it’s okay, the version will go well and I’ll have time to get my shit together. There’s time.

4pm: Walk into the orthodontist office and check in. As soon as I sit down I feel a quick sharp pain in my vagina and warm liquid starts flowing down my thighs. WTF! Luckily my pants are dark and there’s only one other lady in the waiting room. I make a mad dash for the ladies room but I know this is my water breaking. It stops when I get to the toilet. I check and there’s nothing red or brown. My heart is racing and I’m suddenly very excited. This is it. But what the heck do I tell the receptionist? and how wet are my pants? I check and it’s not too too bad. I could leave without a big scene.I text my girlfriends back home to tell them what’s up. One is the best nurse in the world so I’m hoping she has good advice. They all just say to go home and get my ass ready to go to the hospital. As I pull my pants up to contemplate and exit strategy another big gush. There’s no time to think. I stick my head out the door, the receptionist desk is right across from me. She looks at me curiously. “I’m just going going to leave if that’s okay, I think my water just broke”.
“What’s that?”
“Um, my water just broke, I’m gonna go, if that’s okay.”
“What?!! Yes Yes go go oh my god go!”
“Okay, everything is okay in there, I’ll reschedule the appointment when I…”
“Oh my god it’s okay just go!!!”
I run my wet ass outta there as quick as I can and I hear “That’s so exciting!” as I close the door behind me.

I call N on my way home. He’s at Home Depot looking at trim. He’ll drop everything and meet me at home. Not to worry, we have time. Contractions shouldn’t really start for at least an hour. I’ll go home and shower and pack that damned bag in the meantime.

I call B to recount the story and have a laugh. She also says to go home and take a shower I have about an hour to kill. While I’m talking to her I feel my first real contraction. Like what I’ve been feeling before but way more painful. But bearable. Hmm, I thought they only start a little later. No worries, that was a little one. I have time.

I call another friend to have another laugh for some company. Another contraction during that call. Hmmm.

4:20pm: Walk into the house. Parents are laying on the blow up mattress in the tv room
“Okay guys, please please don’t panic. Please don’t panic. My water just broke. I need you to not panic and go to the car and please wipe my seat down for me. I’m going to jump in the shower and then I’m going to need help packing my bag”
They both jump  up simultaneously and panic ensues. I leave them behind and jump in the shower.
Two more contractions while I’m in there and the stuff just keeps coming out of me. It is really cool how it all works. The heat of the water on my back is great and I’m able to collect my thoughts. I’m excited. N walks in and he sticks his head around the curtain and we chat about our feelings and stuff. We’re both calm but we both say we have time. But I tell him I’ve now had 4 contractions. I should probably time them.
I tell him to text the doula even though she’s at a resort with her family and she likely won’t make it to the hospital. It’s okay. We’ll text the backup doula, L.
I get out of the shower and instruct everyone to eat. N says I should probably eat too and he’s right but I have zero appetite. Everyone is eating, I’m standing in the bedroom looking at the closet… What the fuck do I wear?
“What do I wear??!!”
All the while I’m texting my friends to keep them up to date. Consensus is wear any damn thing. I’m opting for pyjama pants, nursing sports bra to labour in maybe, a sweatshirt and slippers, no socks. Another big contraction. This one is big! I yell for N to come and put pressure on my hips. One of the techniques the doula taught us.
I’m starting to panic a little. I’m not dressed yet and the bag isn’t packed!
I put mom on bag duty but I’m remembering little details that are putting me in a tail spin because I’m now on a steady schedule of contractions but there’s not rhyme or reason to the severity. Some are small and quick, some are long and painful, some are short and painful. 3 to 5 minute breaks in between. This can’t be right. It’s not been an hour yet has it?
N gets in touch with doula L who will meet us at the hospital but we should call ahead and see if we can talk to our doctor.
At this point I realize I have no phone numbers for the doctor or the hospital. I’m in full blown panic mode right now because these contractions hurt and I am not ready for this to be  happening so fast.
My husband is shaving and is then going to jump in the shower because the last time we spoke I was the picture of calm. But he hasn’t seen me since I got out of the clothing debacle and that one big contraction.
While he’s in the shower my mom is now on hip duty since I need someone to put pressure on these hips when I’m contracting. I’ve also for some reason instructed my dad to cut my toenails because that’s clearly what’s important right now.
So, I’m laying on the bed googling a number for the hospital while breathing, my dad is cutting my toenails and my mom is running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off because I’m barking orders at her about what to put in that damned bag.
I get through to the hospital but I don’t know what to ask for. I ask for maternity and then the mother of all contractions starts and I’m up off the bed screaming for my mom who has a million stuff in her arms. I throw the phone at my dad and stand up leaning on the bed yelling for mom to push on my hips. My foot still in my dad’s hands who is still calmly clipping. He calmly picks up the phone and takes over with N telling him what to ask for. Apparently Dr L isn’t on call but we should go in.
The contraction passes and my mother is flipping out.
Mom: Let’s just go, I don’t understand why we haven’t left yet
Me: Mummy just calm down
Mom: *Not in English* Don’t tell me to calm down!!
Dad: Okay okay *still clipping nails* Your nails are done. I think N should finish shaving, not shower and let’s just go.
All three of us: N! Don’t shower, Let’s just go!

5:45pm (I believe): I don’t know how but we’re all in the car even that damned bag! I’ve stopped timing contractions but last I checked they were 2 – 3 minutes apart and ranging anywhere from 20 seconds to 1minute 10 seconds.

6pm: N drops us at the entrance. I have another C (I can’t type contraction anymore. I will refer to them as C’s from now one as there are lots of them) as I get out of the car. The 3 of us walk in while N parks the car. I’ve been to this hospital. I think I know where the maternity ward is but we stop at reception anyway to ask.
The oldest man in the whole entire world is sitting at the front desk with and another old lady who’s on the phone.
“Where’s maternity?”
He leans forward scrunching his face, ever so slowly.
“Maternity??!!” I shout
“Rezendes?” He asks
My mother and I look at each other incredulously and swear in Afrikaans. The lady gets off the phone and points us in the right direction. When we get to the elevator N is right there. Then N’s mom is there too.
We find the ward and drop the parents off at the waiting room and we make our way in.

Maternity Triage

There’s obviously no one at reception because why would there be. Eventually a nurse strolls in and says they’ve been waiting for us.

6:15pm: We are checked into triage in the maternity ward. Intake Nurse N is asking me a million questions that I have no time for. She warns me that she has a lot of questions and she understands but they’re necessary. In the meantime she has me strip down and put on the Johnny. Then I remember the damned bag. Everything I need for my perfect labour is in the bag!! The bag is in the fucking car! The pretty pusher johnny I bought so I wouldn’t have to wear the hospital one. The fairy lights. My affirmation cards. My Birth Plan!! The bluetooth speaker for calming  music! Oh my god another C! Fuck it. Put the hospital Johnny on. Fuck everything.

I’m on the bed now and Nurse N need to test the amniotic fluid to make sure that’s what it is. Oh you mean the stuff that’s pouring out of me right now as I’m contracting that’s definitely not pee? Sure go ahead. I feel a little bad for her because we all know it’s amniotic fluid but there’s also that hospital policy. I ask when we’ll get results through gritted teeth.

20 minutes.

I look up at N in desperation and start doing C math. That’s at least 4 more C’s. She walks away and that’s the first time I show weakness. I tell N I don’t think I can do this, it hurts too much. Where is Doula L? I don’t know if I can do this. N looks me in the eyes and says that I absolutely can and I will. He obviously doesn’t love me and wants to see me die. I’m alone here and I’m going to die alone.

Doula L is at the hospital but they won’t allow her into triage. Are you fucking kidding me? Only one person allowed in. It’s okay, we’ll talk to her in a bit because the on-call Dr is here.

Dr H… A tall woman. A bored smile. She introduces herself and proceeds to do a scan. “Oh I see a little butt down here, someone is breech… Okay we’ll have to do a c-section. Let me check  your cervix”. I’m protesting a little bit. Let’s just do the damned surgery, just don’t check my cervix!

Cervical checks are awful. This one in particular was horrendous. It feels like she was in there for hours and up to her elbow I’m sure. I’m kicking and moaning. When she pulls out I have another huge C and as I roll over I see her pull and exasperated face to Nurse N. I don’t think she got a good reading on that. She leaves without a word.

Things are ramping up now. 2 more nurses come in with forms that need signing and more and more questions that need answering. N and I are trying to wrap our heads around this new outcome. Should we protest? Why can’t we wait? But I’m in so much pain. N looks scared. He did not want this for us. It being major surgery and all. We decide that he should go get Doula L for a talk and maybe swap out. I’ll be okay I think. They’re putting an IV in.

Once I’m alone Nurse N asks the personal questions about whether I feel safe with my husband. Am I being abused etc etc. While she’s asking another C comes and I beg her to rub my back. She obliges. When it’s done I ask her if the c-section is absolutely necessary. Can we wait til her turns? Can we try an ecv now? She says now because I likely don’t have enough amniotic fluid to turn him and best to get him out sooner rather than later. I’m sad now because I’m having a moment of clarity between C’s. My first in a while. I’m able to get my wits about me.

In all that craziness I’ve assessed the C’s. It feels like small, small, big, really big… small, small, big, really big. And if my calculations are correct I have two small ones coming. That means I can do this!! As Doula L walks in she throws her coat and bag on the chair because she sees my face contorting. She comes over to me really quickly. She bends her whole body over mine holding my right hand and rubbing my lower back and whispering in my ear “You’re doing so awesome! You’re doing a great job!” over and over. Where has she been all my life? It’s like she was sent from the angels. That C was bearable again. Okay we have  small, then big then really big coming. I have time to fill her and in answer questions and sign forms. Oh the forms.

The anesthetist comes in to explain what he’s going to do. While he’s going through his spiel I realise my calculations were way off or my body is changing the rules. It’s big.. It’s really big and it’s fast. I roll over to my side and I can’t see straight through the pain. I’m remembering to try to keep my eyes open and not scrunch them. Breathing isn’t helping so I’m now loud moaning. Doula L is still whispering in my ear but she sounds far off. I only feel pain. Why is it lasting so long? It feels like hours. I want to climb the walls to run away from the pain but I can’t move. Finally it’s reached the peak and it slowly (I mean slowly) calms down. “What the hell?!”. I hear the form filling out nurse say “Wow that was long”. Doula L tells me that breech babies make irregular contractions. I’m very frightened now. I definitely can’t do another one of those. Thankfully, the next 2 C’s  as small and small again but with 30 seconds spaces in between.

Doula L asks me how I’m feeling. I’m feeling sad and relieved. I feel a bit like I failed. She reminds me that I’m in labour right now. I did it. I got to experience labour. I’m in good  hands here and c-section is not the end of the world. We’ll see our son soon. I feel a little better. She says she’ll stick around until after he’s born but she’s going to swap out with N again. She grabs her coat and bag and looks back at me and it’s time for another big C. She drops everything and runs over to me and for some reason both of us are laughing a little through this one. Just a little because it still hurts.

Okay she’s off. While I’m waiting for N to come back. Dr H sticks her head through the curtain “Hey do you want some painkillers?”…. “Hell yes!” I say, forgetting that point #1 on my birth plan was Please don’t offer pain killers, I will request them.

This was really a mistake. I’m given Stadol through the IV. N comes in and I am incapacitated. The Stadol makes me completely woozy and speaking is very difficult. My head seems to be lolling about. But it doesn’t take the pain of the C’s away. It’s worse now because I can’t tell N what I need. I need him to whisper in my ear that I’m doing  great job. All I can get through the next few C’s is “Say something nice to me”. He chuckles and tells me I’m beautiful and kisses me. It works.

It’s just N me and Nurse N. N asks her about the c-section and how it’s going to go. The hospital is supposed to offer gentle c-section so N asks if that’s what we’re getting. She assures us that it is. They’ll do delayed cord clamping and I’ll get skin-to-skin and we’ll get him very soon after he’s out, etc. etc. N won’t be allowed in immediately though. He’ll stay behind and get changed into the full zip-up outfit and they’ll come get him once they start cutting.

Operating Room

OR Nurse B and another Nurse come to get me for surgery. I’m still not really able to speak and I don’t remember saying goodbye to N. Nurse B and her friend are bubbly and lovely and telling me things that I don’t remember. I’m so woozy. But nurse B has a very pretty rose pin on her shirt. I’m so focused on this pin. It’s all I can see and think of right now.

We’re in the OR now and I’m asked to sit up. They’re talking about the epidural or spinal block or whatever. I have to curl over a lot and push my lower back out as much as possible. I still can’t really believe I have to have a c-section but there’s no turning back now. People are saying things but it’s just me and my thoughts. How is this happening? I’m starting to freak out and here comes another C. A big one. I can’t curl my back!! Nurse B has me rest my head on her shoulder. I see the pin again. I strongly believe the pin is keeping me alive because it’s the only thing I can see and focus on. Why is the epidural taking so long? I can hear them saying things to me about curling my back but I’m moaning loudly over their instructions and focusing on the beautiful pink petals on the rose. I’m now on C number 2 moaning again and there is still no epidural in. What’s the hold up?!

C number 3 has started and I hear them say they’re all set. Really? I didn’t feel a thing. I thought he was just digging his thumbs into my back. They lay me down and I think maybe the stadol is wearing off because I’m feeling a bit better. Nurse B is telling me how well I did through those C’s. But now I’m panicking because I’m about to have major abdominal surgery and where is my husband?

Stay calm, stay calm. They’re talking to me about what I should be feeling. The anesthesiologist says something about no more C’s. I realise he’s right and my legs feeling tingly. Someone says they’re going to put the catheter in now and I can feel them doing so I’m really panicking now. I frantically tell him I can feel things. I can still feel!!

He assures me that I’ll still have a bit of sensation but no pain. I don’t like it. Where is N?! I don’t want this. Stay calm. Stay calm.

They put the draping on my chest and start pulling it up so I can’t see. I really don’t like that. I’m the IVF patient who watches them draw blood. I’d like to see what you’re doing to my body please. But do I really want to see them cut me open and not feel it? Better leave this to the professionals.

Dr H walks in. Where the fuck have you been all night. She’s different now. No fake smile. All business. “Okay, I’m going to poke you and you tell me if you feel it”. Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes. “Okay we are good to go… Agree?” then everyone in the rooms says “Agree!”. But no! no! I said yes to all your pokes!

I look at the only person who’s talking to me. Larry the anesthesiologist. “But I said yes to all the pokes”… “Not all of them” He smiles. I’m not reassured. I want my husband.

The room goes very quiet now and it’s just me and Larry but I can’t see him without craning my neck. I smell something. They’re cutting! or cauterizing! Finally N walks in stage right and sits down and grabs my hand. He looks calm. That calms me down. “What’s that smell?” he asks.

I chuckle. I’m okay now. We’re okay. It’s still deathly quiet. No one is talking. Waiting to feel that tugging but it’s not coming. I look at the clock over N’s shoulder. 8pm. Then I feel the tugging. It’s weird. Then someone says “Look up mama”. I look up and  up pops a little head with a hand on the forehead then it’s gone.

“Oh he just peed again”… Everyone laughs.

So that’s it, huh? I just had a baby. Boy, is he screaming. Poor guy. I wonder what they’re doing with him. Aren’t I supposed to get him for skin to skin? What’s taking so long? I look over N’s shoulder again. 8:05 I think. What’s taking so long? N is also starting to worry. He leans over to ask where the baby is. Everything is fine they’re just cleaning him up. But aren’t they not supposed to do that really? This doesn’t feel very gentle c-section to me. It feels cold and harsh. N asks if they did delayed cord clamping. Dr H snaps back “No.”

N’s face changes to irritation. But as he’s about to protest Nurse B’s friend brings over our little bundle and places him on my chest. He’s warm and squirmy and difficult to get a good hold on. He’s laying across my chest and crying. I can kind of see his face. So this is the baby I just gave birth to. He’s cute and little but I can’t hold him. He keeps slipping up to my face. I tell N to take him and do skin-to-skin. The nurse says no at first because N would have to take his t shirt off. He unzips the suit they gave him to reveal no t-shirt “Way ahead of you”. She laughs and moves Lucky to his father.

His father. My husband. A father. To my son. Our son. I look over at the two of them and he is beaming. A beam I’ve never seen before. It’s beautiful. I could look at them forever.

Okay I want him back now. I think I can handle it. N puts him back on my chest and we let him try to rooting around and crawl to maybe find my breast. He finds his way but never latches but it’s okay.

I’m not sure how much time has passed but they tell us that N and Lucky have to go to recovery so they can finish up with me. I’m still feeling like this isn’t real.

I hear counting. They’re counting the swabs or whatever. Just like on Grey’s Anatomy. I look up at the bright lights and I catch a glimpse of my incision in the reflection. Cool!! I can’t tell what they’re doing but the fun part is over. Everyone is talking about vacations to Cancun. The drape comes down and Nurse B is including me in the conversation but I’m just smiling. Did I really just have a baby?

Eventually they’re ready to wheel me into recovery. I’m enjoying the ride I keep hearing babies cry as we pass rooms. Then I hear my baby’s cry! Why are we going passed it? “Stop! stop! I know that voice!”

Both nurses laugh at me. They were just turning me around. I see N leaning over the baby in the warmer bed thingies as I’m wheeled in. He’s still beaming. Baby is still crying and I am still trying to understand how this is real life.

N comes over to be with me while the nurse swaddles up our little bundle. They adjust my pillows a bit and we try to get him to latch. It’s not very easy but we got him eventually. But he’s lazy and probably tired from you know.. being born.

While I’m watching this little person familiarize himself with his surroundings I notice that the nurse has my leg in her hands and I can’t feel her holding it. It’s freaky as hell so turn my attention back to the little person.

Once we’re all settled our family and doula L are allowed in to come say hi. I only vaguely remember this because I’ve been given some morphine before they come in. I know that my mother is crying big mom tears and my dad just has the biggest smile on his face. I don’t remember much about the conversation. They don’t stick around for very long but doula L stays for a bit to drop a few words of wisdom. Again,  I wish I could remember all that she says but it’s similar to her words in triage. I do remember that she is holding my hand and squeezing it lightly and reassuringly. I’m sad when she leaves. I know I’ll likely not see her again and she was pivotal in this story. I’m sad.

10pm: We’re a family of three now. N and I are in my hospital bed in room C210, holding this little body watching him sleep. I’m trying to take everything in. Wondering if I should be feeling a certain way. Shouldn’t I have cried by now? Shouldn’t my heart have grown three sizes? Aren’t I supposed to be experiencing a love I’ve never known?

None of that is happening but I can’t take my eyes off him. He’s so fuzzy. He has so much hair. I knew he would have lots of pitch black hair. The way his little top lip sticks out looks exactly like his ultrasounds. His eyes look like my nephew’s. His perfect little nose is… perfect. Is this really my child?

***

I don’t know how long we stared at him while he slept. I don’t know how the night ended actually but I remember we just stared and stared silently at this person we made.

So the birth didn’t go as planned at all and everything is not how they said it would be. I thought I wouldn’t be able to get over the fact that it didn’t go as planned, but 2 weeks in and I’m feeling much better about it. My incision is healing nicely and my baby is breastfeeding with the best of them. And while I didn’t feel that instant love that you read about when I saw him the first time but, again, 2 weeks in and I find that I worry about him constantly and I can’t stop looking at him and kissing his little fingers. It makes putting him down to sleep very difficult. I would be happy if he could sleep on me or N forever thank you very much. Maybe that’s the love they’re talking about?

My favourite part of all of this is watching my husband as a father. He does a lot of things better than I do. He’s so patient with Lucky. He can’t seem to get enough of him. It really is the best thing in the world. I hardly recognise this man but I love it and I love him more and more because of it.

Okay, it’s 2 minutes to midnight here. My parents are sleeping on the blow up mattress at our feet. N is playing Zelda on the Nintendo Switch and I’m typing this while little Lucky is sleeping on my lap.

Life is fucking fantastic at the end of 2017.

 

Christmas Came Early This Year

A week early to be exact. I had every intention of at least having a birth story by his due date which I thought was today but I was wrong. It was yesterday. Lol. 

So I’m going to be realistic and wait to tell the story I’ve been dreaming to tell for a very long time. I’m just going to enjoy Christmas and not worry about plans and due dates and timelines. My baby certainly does not 😁.

But I wanted you all know that he is here and he is safe and he is so wonderful. He was born on Monday December 18th at 8:03pm weighing 6lbs 5oz (2.86 kgs) and measuring 19in (48.26cm). 

If you’re on instagram please feel free to add me on doit4babym as I have some pics of him. It’s my IVF account so it’s private but I’d love to follow you all too.

 I also wanted to wish all of you a merry Christmas. It can be really awesome or really shitty but I hope that if it’s shitty you can find moments of awesomeness to cling to to get through and if it’s really awesome I hope you revel in it. I’ll be sparing a lot of thoughts for everyone who might be having a hard time this Christmas. I am here for you and I am always rooting for you.

xxx

2-ish Weeks to go

Still breech.

Every morning I wake up and I rub his little noggen on my left side underneath my boob. A little sad that he hasn’t turned but a little glad that I know exactly where he is and sometimes when I rub he responds and that makes me smile.

My parents arrived on Sunday. It’s really good to have them here but I feel bad that the living arrangements aren’t perfect. Of course they’re fine with everything and it won’t be for much longer but still. We just have to do the floors upstairs then we can start moving things up there but for now they’ve opted to take the blow up mattress in the tv room because they don’t want me sleeping on it. And they’re unable to unpack their suitcases because there’s nowhere for them to put their clothing. But we’re making due. I’m just very happy they’re here.

My appointments yesterday went well enough. As we suspected, he’s fine, he’s just smallish. He’s up to 6lbs (2.72kgs) now which isn’t bad IMO. My parents joined us at the level 2 ultrasound. I warned them that they may not see much because of his position and most of it was just the tech measuring his belly and the femur and his head. She struggled to get his belly because his little knee was pressed into it. I don’t understand how that’s comfortable but I guess they’re just different. She was all business at first but after she got his measurements she actually tried to get us some 3D pics. It wasn’t easy because there were hands and feet in front on his face but we saw a nose and a set of juicy lips and some cheek too. He may only be 6lbs but I think 2 of them are all cheek. My favourite was seeing the little dimples in the knuckles on his fat hands. He’s cute. He’s mine. Wow.

During the 3D scans the high risk OB popped in to say that baby’s doing great and if we’re planning on doing an ECV that we do it at 39 weeks and induce that same day. Then she popped back out. Seems like the best job in the world to me :).

At my OB appointment later that afternoon N came with me. I was really relieved because I felt calm and confident and ready to ask questions about what our final plan is going to be. While the nurse was taking my BP I mentioned the cramps I’ve been having. Oh, btw I’ve been having a lot of cramps. Especially at night. My friends think I’m in early labour which is very exciting to me but the cramps seem to sporadic so I don’t want to get too excited. I timed them last night and they’re really all over the place. Anyway, so I mentioned the cramps and then she had me undress from the waste down so that the dr could do a cervical check.

As I was undressing I told N I didn’t want to do it and I was again disappointed in myself. But these people just tell you to do things seemingly in passing and run away before you can say something. She said “okay since you’re having cramps you can undress, Dr will be in in  a second” and then she was gone. In my mind I didn’t have time to protest. I need people to give me a second to digest what’s going on. Anyway so I sat through the doctor’s visit half naked screaming at myself to say something and thankfully at the end of it she got up to check me and I asked if she really needed to and she said no so I said okay then let’s rather not because I really don’t enjoy them. She said that was fine and that was that. Yay! Go me!

So what we discussed at the visit. When she walked in she said that she had the version scheduled for next Tuesday at 8:30. If he turns successfully then we’ve decided to go home and wait for him to come on his own. If he doesn’t turn we were given the option of going home and waiting for labour to start then we can go in and do the c-section. We also have the option of picking a c-section date if the version isn’t successful. We’re going to go with former right now. There’s also the chance that he goes into distress during the version and if that happens they’ll do an emergency c-section right away but she said she’s never had that happen.

She said that they would give it 3 good tries and if he doesn’t budge then they won’t force it. He seems so comfy cozy I wonder if he will want to move. Either way I’m glad that we have the option to try and I just hope that he’s co-operative.

And that is where we are so far. She also wrote a note getting me off work this week which is a huge relief. I don’t think I would have made it next week. So I only have 4 more days of work left! Woohoo! I actually have a bunch to get through so let me sign off for the week.

Thanks everyone who’s hung around for this ride with me. I appreciate everyone’s kind words and everyone’s positive thoughts and baby turning vibes :). You’re all awesome and I love you for it!