Thursday, November 29, 2007

On Not Being Pregnant Any More

Now, I am not saying I miss being pregnant. Do not misunderstand! I am so glad I am not pregnant any more it isn't even funny. But I've been surprised by how quickly it all was over. Does this make sense? I spent weeks and months becoming more and more pregnant, and then all of a sudden it was over, and that has been kind of weird. Even though as an experience I didn't enjoy it very much, I was surprised after the fact to find how much of my identity had become about 'being pregnant' during that time, and how abrupt the shift to post partum has been. The physical sensations of being pregnant ended so abruptly -- the nausea was gone, the acid reflux over, the sciatica, the aches and pains, the belly itself. The only physical symptom that lingered was swollen feet and ankles, but a few days ago I noticed that my normal feet were back. Hooray! I missed my feet! Another thing that didn't go away quickly was the emotional stuff -- I've still cried a lot post partum, but that has more to do with the hormonal crash and sleep deprivation I've been experiencing (and even that seems to be abating now).

One thing I miss quite a bit, is feeling the baby move around inside me, especially the little windshield wiper action he used to make in my ribcage with his feet. I loved that that experience was mine and the baby's alone, and I kind of miss having that. There are moments when I feel a physical twinge inside me, and it feels similar to a kick or a tap, but I know it is just my body still returning to normal after all the stretching out, but I find that I have to remind myself of that.

Another thing I miss is all the time Munchie spent hanging out on my belly waiting for the baby to kick. She's starting to act normal again, but for the first week and a half or so she was not interested in any of us, hid a lot, and was not wanting to spend any time on any one's lap, let alone mine. I can't blame her, as it was pretty chaotic around here, but I really missed my cat! She's acting more herself now, and even sitting on us again, so I think everything is returning to normal in that department. Hooray!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Two Weeks!

Hank is two weeks old today! I am happy today to mark the milestone, as everyone tells me the first two weeks are the hardest -- in fact one girlfriend described the first two weeks as "grim". And truly, in many respects, the first two weeks were pretty grim, albeit interspersed with some really wonderful moments.

Henry, Hank, and I are all getting to know each other. In the calmer moments, we actually seem to enjoy parenting quite a lot, and neither Henry nor I can imagine life without Hank. There is usually one point in the morning where we are all together, no one is tired, no one is crying, and we are all feeling happy. This morning it was during "tummy time" -- we had Hank on the floor on a blankie so he could exercise his head and neck muscles, and at the end of tummy time we washed his hair again. We love washing his hair and combing it into funny shapes. He is pretty tolerant, but doesn't like it all that much, but we more than make up for it at the end by bundling him up in a towel and giving him all kinds of hugs and kisses. We love him so.

There's been a lot of hard stuff, too. The sleep deprivation has been a real challenge, but we seem to be getting through that fairly well. The hardest thing has been breastfeeding -- well, not the breastfeeding so much, as the fact that Hank still hasn't gained back any of the weight he lost after being born. We've seen lactation consultants and pediatricians and everyone has different advise. For me this has been extremely emotional and upsetting. We have to supplement every meal of my breastmilk with formula. The first time we had to do this it just broke my heart -- not so much that we were giving him formula, but that I felt like I was failing at feeding my kiddo. Like I said, this has been an extremely emotional and difficult thing for me to go through, but by the same token I also know that we need to do whatever we have to do to get Hank to put on weight and start growing. We go to Kaiser again tomorrow for a weight check, so hopefully we will see some forward progress. I will just fall apart if he's lost again, though.

Another hard thing has just been the hormonal crash I've been on. Luckily I was warned about this in advance so I was expecting it. But it has been quite a roller coaster, with lots of tears and headaches and (the worst part) night sweats and anxiety dreams from which I wake up thinking I've been nursing Hank in bed and can't find him in the sheets and blankets. I wake up soaking wet and freezing cold.

But like I said, for every hard moment there has been an equally lovely one. Everyday Hank looks older and wiser and begins to show signs of interacting with the outer world. He makes all kinds of new sounds, including this high pitched shriek that has earned him a few new nicknames -- Pterodactyl, Dinosaur, Mommy's Little Bird of Prey. And even when he's screaming bloody murder on his changing table, I'll look down at him and just sigh and say "he is just soooo cuuute!!!" Some days I can't even believe that I made him. I am completely in love. Other new nicknames include The Boob, Little Boob, Pumpkin, and Hiccupy Hank (which will also make an excellent cowboy name one day).

Over the last couple of weeks I've been remembering a couple of things I keep meaning to write down. These details are probably meaningless to anyone other than myself, but they were observations I made and when I notice these things again they will remind me of this massive life transformation.

1. Persimmons. Early in the pregnancy I looked out the bedroom window on to the neighbor's persimmon tree. It was still late spring, but tiny green persimmons had begun to grow. I remember looking at the fruit, and placing a hand on what would become Hank in my belly, and thinking, 'when those persimmons are ready to be picked, this baby will be ready to be born.' Throughout the pregnancy I watched those persimmons grow. In the last weeks the persimmons turned bright orange, and I started seeing persimmons for sale in grocery stores. The weekend before Hank was born the neighbors were outside picking their persimmons, and I just knew it was time.

2. Fingernail moon. When we were driving to labor and delivery the night before Hank was born, there was a tiny sliver of a fingernail moon hanging in the sky. This has always been my favorite moon. We had a fingernail moon grace our wedding, so these are meaningful for us. By the time Hank was born the next afternoon, it was a crystal clear perfect fall day.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Today I am thankful that it is Hank's actual due date, and that he has already been born!

Happy One Week Birthday to Hank!

Nov. 21, 2007

Dear Hank –

Today you are one week old! Your dad and I sang happy birthday to you at 1:49 this afternoon as we were driving down Broadway on our way home from seeing the lactation consultant. She’s helping us figure out what to do to feed you really well so you grow big and strong and stay healthy.

We can’t believe it has already been a week. We are all smitten with you and fall more and more in love with you every day. We are also so surprised to see how much you have already changed! When you were first born you would make little squeaky noises – now you tell ferociously loud, making me think you got the Raymond Family Lungs. You like to eat, and we’ve figured out how to get you to sleep without having us hold you – we play the radio on static. It is still hard for me to sleep, mostly because I want to be sure you are OK all hours of the night, but I am glad you are sleeping and growing. You have all kinds of funny expressions – when you are sleeping you squash up your face and look really angry – we call this Pissed Off Baby. And then there’s Suspicious Baby, where you squish your lips together, open your eyes really narrowly, and dart them back and forth.

We’ve got tons of nicknames for you too – Hank A Poo, Hank A Doodle, Doodle, Doodle Bug, Poodle, Noodle, Potato, Sweet Potato, Hot Potato, Potato Bug, Bug, and Buddy. My favorite is Potato.

I’m enjoying you so much, and already I can’t imagine my life without you in it. I can’t wait for milestones like recitals and graduations and your wedding.

Lots of love,

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Baby Hank Is Born!

On Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 1:49 pm Henry Raymond Wagner burst into this world following 4 hours and 49 minutes of labor.

The long story begins a few days before then, early in the morning the Saturday before, when I woke up to what I thought were contractions. We even went as far as to have our doula come over to assist, because we really thought this was it, and it seemed that things were moving swiftly. But by 4 a.m. the contractions had stopped completely, and we chalked it up to false labor caused by dehydration – par for the course seeing as I had still been vomiting that day, and the ‘episode’ was in fact inspired by a bout of nausea at 12:30 a.m. during which I threw out my upper back (as an aside, I remember thinking at that time that if labor pains were going to be that far up my back an epidural, if needed, would have to be started in my neck!).

The next evening we made a visit to labor and delivery so I could get IV fluids – I can’t believe that was the first time during my pregnancy that I went in for fluids! I felt like a new woman the next day, and Henry and I were able to get the last of the baby errands accomplished, and the last of the organizing finished. I spent the next couple of days cleaning and putting things away, and I was hell bent on finishing reading Jon Krakauer’s “Into Thin Air”.

On Tuesday morning I refused to get out of bed until I had turned the last page. I knew that that morning I had to take a shower, finish cleaning the bathroom, clean out the refrigerator, and go to Whole Foods to pick up some things that our doula suggested we have on hand for early labor and recovery. I got through the shower and cleaning the bathroom. At about 11:15 I had just about finished cleaning out the refrigerator when I felt a gush, thought maybe I had wet my pants, and then another much larger gush, which made me realize instantly that my water had broken! Immediately I was seized with a surge of adrenaline the likes of which I have never experienced. I called Henry at work and said “It’s time! My water broke!” I called Treesa, my doula. I called my parents. And then I waited.

Henry made his way home after stopping at Whole Foods – he was laden down with rootbeer and comfort foods, and was nervous and excited as I was too. But nothing was happening. Every so often I’d leak more fluids, but contractions never came. Late in the afternoon I started bleeding bright red blood. We called Treesa to ask her about the bleeding and she suggested we go to labor and delivery to rule out any complications. There were still no contractions, but off to L&D we went.

At L&D they put me on monitors and everything looked fine. The midwife who worked with us, Adele, ruled out any complications and also agreed that although my water had broken, I wasn’t technically in labor yet. We discussed the pros and cons of staying at the hospital or going home. Even though we had everything with us that we needed for the hospital stay, we elected to go home. I had really hoped for a fully natural childbirth, and we knew that if we stayed that night, they would likely want to induce As Soon As Possible due to hospital policies concerning the length of time that had passed since my water had broken, and I felt like I still hadn’t given my labor enough of a chance to get started.

Before we could leave, though the OB/GYN on call had to come read me a riot act about all the bad things that could happen if I left, and warn me that I was Leaving Against Medical Advice, and made me sign all kinds of waivers. When we finally walked out the door I wasn’t sure what to think, but I was pretty sure that I wasn’t going to die (which was one of the possible outcomes the doctor had mentioned in her diatribe).

We got home around ten and on Treesa’s advice decided not to try any natural induction methods, and just get some sleep instead. I had a hard time though because every now and then a contraction would wake me up, but they never got regular. At 5:00 a.m. I woke Henry up and said “We’ve got to go back to the hospital”. Even though my labor still hadn’t gotten under way, I had reached the limit of my comfort zone, and I couldn’t wait any longer.

At labor and delivery they were waiting for us, so we skipped triage and were taken right to a labor room. I saw Adele, who was about to finish her shift, as we arrived, and said to her “we’re back”. She came to our room to talk with us about the next steps. She helped me decide that a low dose of pitocin would be the right thing to do. We made a few phone calls to family, checked in with Treesa who was on her way (and also helped me feel a lot better about the decision to use pitocin), and then I spent a little time adjusting to the change in plans and getting comfortable with it (I admit, I was feeling a little disappointed about deciding to use the pitocin, and I was terrified that it was going to lead to a string of interventions ending in an emergency c-section, and this all took some getting used to).

At 9:00 a.m. they started the pitocin. I was happy to find that one of our nurses was Jennifer, the same nurse who helped me with the IV fluids a couple of nights before. She and the other nurse (also Jennifer) were both terrific and made me feel really comfortable. The midwife who would actually be attending the delivery, Lorraine, was wonderful from the get go, and also made me feel good about my decision to use the pitocin. Treesa arrived just as the pitocin was starting to work, and she and Henry made an amazing team right from the start. The labor pains were strong to start with and Henry and Treesa worked together to help me be as comfortable as I could be for as long as possible. At some point my parents showed up. My dad went out to the waiting room pretty quickly, but my mom wound up staying for the entire labor and delivery, something that I am very happy about.

My recollection of how things went from about 10 a.m. on gets pretty fuzzy, pretty fast. I know that at some point they turned the pitocin from a 2 to a 4 to a 6 and then back to a 2. I know that I detested the sensation of the monitors strapped around my abdomen and begged during each contraction to have them removed, as they sat right on the spot in my back that hurt the most during each contraction. I remember Henry and Treesa helping me to breathe each time the pain got to be too much. I remember projectile vomiting when contracting on my hands and knees. I remember being in the bathroom with Treesa and asking her if I was delirious and her telling me in a comforting way that I was just in labor and helping me get back in my body and back with my breath as the strength of the contractions continued to skyrocket and the pain became more and more unimaginable and indescribable. I remember being so surprised by how the contractions felt. I remember asking Treesa when I was going to start feeling empowered, like the women in Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. I also remember telling Treesa that Ina May could shove her book up her ass. I remember my friend Beth coming by with lunch for Henry and yelling that she couldn’t come in. I remember feeling like everything was spiraling so far beyond my grasp, and the terror that came with that. I remember saying to Treesa “I think I’m having a panic attack” during one of the worst contractions, Treesa placing a finger on my forehead and instructing me to open my eyes, look at her, and breath. I did, and it worked.

At about this time I also remember being told I was at 5 cm dilation and thinking there was no way I could make it to 10 if it was only going to get more intense from there. I asked Treesa to talk to me about an epidural, and hearing my mom ask if there was just some drug we could use to take the edge off instead. We decided to use fentanyl, and within seconds of the drip starting I was able to get a break for the first time in my labor. For the next 15 minutes I rode the contractions, which were coming with more intensity and velocity, but nearly slept between each one. And then all of a sudden I had to push in a way I’ve never had to push before, and I could not wait.

Henry tells me that the nurses and Lorraine sprang into action to get ready for the actual delivery. Someone did an internal exam to verify that I was in fact ready to push, but I was already crowning. Treesa took the camera and she and Lorraine coached me through the pushing. Henry had one of my legs and my mother had the other. I pushed through about 12 contractions and Hank was born, wiggling and purple, and just about the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life. Henry discovered the sex and announced it was a boy as Hank cuddled and wiggled and hiccupped on my chest. The time was 1:49 p.m. He weighed 9 lbs 13.6 oz, and was 22.75 inches long.

I’d had some tearing, so as Lorraine stitched me up we got to know Hank who was so warm and squishy on my chest. Everything had happened so fast that I hadn’t even been able to take off my bra, so one of the nurses cut it off so we could be skin to skin and Hank could search out my nipple and eat for the first time. My mom told me during this time that as the baby was crowning all she could think was how big its head was. She also said Lorraine sort of massaged it into a cone as it was coming out, making the delivery easier (you’d never know this from looking at him – his head is a round as can be). They had offered me a mirror during the pushing, but I refused it, knowing I wouldn’t have the ability to concentrate on pushing if I’d had the distraction of watching the baby crown (so I reached down to touch his head instead, which felt like a water balloon). Lorraine worked the placenta out and showed it to us – it was huge! No wonder I’d been so sick for so long!

It has been a few days and I have been feeling so relieved that the entire experience – from pregnancy to delivery – is over. Simultaneously I’ve also felt so grateful for the people who helped me survive the experience. We returned to the hospital yesterday for Hank’s two-day check up, and just driving up to the parking garage I felt a surge of emotion – relief that I was not coming to make another pregnancy related visit, love for the child in the car seat next to me, gratitude for my extraordinarily loving and kind husband, thankfulness for my entire family. Tears were pouring out of my eyes. This whole thing has been such a ride that it has been hard for me to express what it feels to be at the end of it. I find it equally impossible to express what it feels like to be at the beginning of the rest of it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Let the Wild Rumpus Begin!

At least, let the wild ride begin -- I'm not sure I'm feeling enthusiastic enough this morning to call it a rumpus knowing that in the book that leads to a big wonderful party. Currently I don't feel like we are headed for a big wonderful party at all, I just feel like I am headed for a world of hurt!

I'm really grateful that this was my last week of work. I'm officially on maternity leave and feeling really happy for that, as for the last few days I've been having intermittent contractions, and growing increasingly uncomfortable and irritable. The contractions at times have actually been quite intense, but nothing consistent or regular, and nothing that could be considered productive.

I'm basically copying and pasting the rest of this installment from a message board where I communicate with other pregnant women about what's going on for us (which I know is kind of a cop out, but you'll see why I am too tired to type much after reading the rest)...

We had just about the worst night ever around here last night... I went to bed around 11, woke up at 12:30 when Henry got home from train club, and found I was having another one of my irregular contractions. I also felt sooo incredibly sick. Somehow I managed to make it to the bathroom in time to vomit up everything I'd eaten since lunch (I wish I were exaggerating), while riding out a contraction at the same time. In the process I managed to throw out my upper back. We didn't know what to do, the pain was so intense, and I didn't even realize that I had thrown out my back, I just thought it was part of the contraction. I could barely breathe, and I certainly could not get on top of the pains that kept coming and going. Henry called our doula who told us to call labor and delivery, and who also came over. I was in way too much pain to talk to either the hospital or the doula.

By the time the doula arrived, I was having contractions about every three minutes, but they petered out after an hour or so. It really looked for a while there that we might be having a baby last night... When it was pretty clear that my body was done doing whatever it was going to do for the night, our doula went home with instructions to call her if anything started up again. She also counseled me to consider going to the hospital for some IV fluids, given how much I have still been throwing up. She also told me that if friday had not have been my last day at work, she would have forbidden me from going back.

It was 4 a.m. by this time, and we tried to get some sleep. Henry fell asleep almost immediately and slept like a rock. Thanks to the spasm in my back, I could not find a single comfortable place anywhere in our apartment, and I think I've had a total of an hour of sleep since this ordeal began at 12:30 (it is now 9:30 a.m.). It has been such an awful night. Heat didn't help the spasm, tylenol didn't touch it, a shower didn't work. I've coincidentally got a massage scheduled for this morning, so hopefully that will make a difference. There's no way now that we'll be able to check anything off our baby to do list, which of course has me fretting away over here, because our doula thinks we've got maybe two or three days before it is go time, and we are both way too tired (and I am in way too much pain) to even consider running any errands. If my massage therapist can just make me comfortable enough to lie down and get some sleep today, I'll be happy, and I guess I'll just have to deal with everything else when my body is ready to deal again. man. what a hellacious night.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

A Good Weekend

It is already Wednesday night, but I still want to record some thoughts about the good weekend I had a few days ago. Saturday I had an unintentional day of pampering -- manicure, pedicure, eyebrow wax, and new hair! I felt like a million bucks. I felt so good that I actually wanted to eat chinese food for the first time in I have no idea how long, and it was good! and didn't make me sick! It was great!

On Sunday three of my girlfriends threw a baby shower for me and the kiddo. We held it at my parents' house and it was really fun. Most of my closest friends were there and throughout it all I kept having brilliant realizations of how lucky this kid is, to be born into such a loving community. It has four adoring grandparents, two excited uncles, two very loving and fiercely protective parents, and a multitude of extended aunties and uncles who are also anxious to meet it. It was actually kind of overwhelming -- in a good way, but overwhelming nonetheless. It was also just such a nice opportunity for me to actually see people for a change. I've been feeling a bit reclusive lately, and I'd been looking forward to the shower as an opportunity to socialize and spend time with people I love. That's exactly what I got, and it made me so happy. Tons of love to Dana, Beth, and Jen for all the love they put into the plans and execution. It was perfect.

38 Week Rant and Rave

Oof, I just keep getting bigger and bigger, and I'm not sure that first picture begins to do this "bump" justice... will this ever end? I'll admit to some anxiety over the last few days about how close we are to the end, but the truth is I really cannot wait. I'm tired all the time, I pee all the time, my feet and ankles swell up to unrecognizable proportions in five minutes flat, I haven't slept properly in I don't know how long, I can barely stand up from any seated position (forget it if I'm laying on my back!), not to mention the continuing nausea and acid reflux... whaaa whaaa whaaa... I find myself wondering if I am more eager to meet the kiddo or just not be pregnant anymore... sigh... (and if one more person tells me 'you think you are tired now? you may never get a full night's sleep again', I will slap said person... see above!!) That being said, I actually am enjoying pregnancy now more than I ever was up until now. But I'm still going to rant about the discomforts! I'm entitled!

Rant aside, I really truly can't imagine how there can possibly be any room left in there at all... All I feel most times is baby. It is everywhere at once, and while I thought a few weeks ago that I could no longer bend in half? Well, now I really can't bend at all, so I can't even imagine what it is going to be like the longer this pregnancy lasts.

My leave starts on friday at 5, and I can't wait. I'm not making any plans at all for next week, in some weird hope that I'll actually have a baby, but I suppose I shouldn't hold my breath either. We've still got quite a to do list outstanding, but mostly I still want to get the baby space organized. It is almost there, but not quite. Munchie's new favorite hiding space is under the crib, and Riley keeps trying to use a shelf on the changing table as his hidey-hole, so I guess we are on the right track.

Friday, November 2, 2007


I've had some crazy dreams while pregnant and people keep telling me I ought to write them down. What better place than here?

1. The Take A Break From Pregnancy Dream. A few months ago I had a dream where I just needed to take a break. So I popped open a little hatch on my belly, reached in, and pulled out a perfectly clean, dressed, little baby. It looked like the baby that is in the looney tunes cartoons(not the one with the cigar!), had a big bonnet on, and was wearing one of those baby-creeper-gown things. We couldn't tell if it was a boy or girl, and we didn't look because we didn't want to spoil the surprise. We put it aside with every intention that we'd pop it back in the hatch in time to actually have the baby in November. People kept asking if we'd had the baby already, and I'd say 'no...., I just needed a break, so we took it out, and I'll be putting it back in in a couple of months...'

2. The Going Into Labor Dream. A few weeks ago I dreamed I was losing my mucus plug. The dream was so real and exciting that when I woke up I had to check to make sure that it hadn't actually happened! It hadn't, but it did get me really excited about labor an delivery finally being around the corner.

3. The Henry Calls Me And Tells Me I'm In Labor Dream. I'm driving alone in the Kaiser parking lot when Henry calls and says "you are in labor! you need to get home immediately to put the baby back in so you can give birth to it!" Panic and hilarity ensue.

I know I am forgetting some other good ones, but these have been the best.

So I am up in the wee hours again -- tossing and turning started at about three this morning and wasn't stopping so I just got up. Watched some TV, checked email, ate an apple, fed the cats, spent some more time in the baby space sorting clothing. I am so in love with all the tiny socks. I keep hearing that they aren't exactly practical, yet I love them so nonetheless. A coworker gave me some tiny sneakers, and I love those so much too. I can't wait to see the tiny fee that are going to wear those things -- they are going to be so wonderful! After I finish getting everything organized this weekend I'll take a few pictures -- the crib, which had caused me so much anxiety, looks cozy and inviting, and I'm just really liking spending time in that room right now.

We've got an appointment this morning with the midwife, and I need to ask her about all this swelling that just started a couple of days ago. My feet, ankles, and hands have just ballooned up beyond control, and they ache! The only thing that marginally helps is when Henry squeezes them -- oh sweet relief.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Halloweeney! 37 Weeks

Halloween has come and gone, and it was such fun. As tradition dictates, we headed out to my parents' house which is always right in the middle of all the action. We went through 20 bags of candy, as well as few packages of pencils and pens. My dad captured each kid who came to the door in a photo, that he then put on his website for everyone in the neighborhood to see. My mom brought a bunch of stuff home from Genentech as a surprise for Henry to use as a mad scientist costume, and that was a total hit.

November! November!

I never thought I'd see the day, but November is finally here! We get to meet our baby this month, and I can't wait. I feel very happy and positive today, knowing the big day is likely right around the corner.