Sit back and relax folks, and I’ll tell ye the tale of the second time I had a baby.
Pop some popcorn, you’re going to be here for a spell. If you’re so inclined, read TJ’s live-blog. It’s funny and has more pictures.
On 2/17 I was 3 days overdue and completely over being pregnant. I was scheduled for a NST at my OB’s office; everything looked beautiful and they gave me Kool-Aid, which is always a win. My OB did a cervical check, told me I’m at 1cm and suggested that we schedule induction for 2/19. At this point, I’d shown exactly zero labor signs so I was anxious to get the show on the road.
On 2/19 we get out of bed early and get ready to leave as if I’ll be induced. I called in at 7:05 (didn’t want to seem TOO overeager pfft) and whaddya know–apparently late February is a popular time to be born…there’s no room at the inn. I was less crestfallen than when this happened with Caroline, so that’s good I suppose. They scheduled me for another NST on Friday and we re-scheduled the induction for the following Tuesday. That night, as I was hoisting myself into bed, I was feeling especially cantankerous and uncomfortable. I told TJ there was no way I’d still be pregnant on Tuesday.
Sure enough, I woke up around 6:30am and realized I was having timeable contractions. Halle-friggin-lujah! I fired up the ‘Full Term’ app (which tracks the frequency, length and intensity of contractions–highly recommended for mamas like me who don’t math well) and just laid there waiting. I’d never gone into labor naturally and I didn’t want to rush to the hospital to just be sent home again.
By 7:30 I could already tell it was baby day. I roused TJ, told him that he’d better take Caroline to his parents’ house, and got myself into the shower. By 10am, I had done the dishes whilst contracting my way through a few episodes of Friends (thanks be to Netflix) and I had lots of good data recorded, so I called the OB. Clearance to go to the hospital? Aw yisssss.
At the hospital, after we got through the intake/registration process (why they have you pre-register–I’ll never know. They asked me the same questions that were on the forms) we walked on up to L&D, and they parked me in an available room immediately. Things seemed pretty calm there–I was expecting to see bassinets piled up in the hallways or something. A lovely nurse got me hooked up to monitors, recorded all of my information, and checked my cervix. 2-3cm (DAMN. I was hoping for more!) She informed my OB of my progress, and suggested that I walk the halls for an hour to coax some progression. I had yet to be formally admitted and didn’t want to be sent home, so I was happy to hoof if it meant progress.
I set to pacing the hallway and drinking a ton of ice water. (As an aside, hospitals have the best ice in all the land. I am a cruncher of ice and consider myself a connoisseur, and I’m here to tell you if you want an excellent ice-crunching experience you should partake in the offerings at your local purveyor of institutional medicine.)
An hour of pacing and icing later, I crawled back into bed and had my cervix checked. 4cm! They decided to admit at this point, and TJ and I did a happy dance. I told them that I’d like an epidural please, just in case it took anesthesiology time to get to me.
Less than 30 minutes later, the anesthesiologist showed up to place my epidural, the nice lady from…the department that places IVs..showed up to replace the med student’s uncomfortable IV job, and my nurse popped in because the leads on my heart monitor were acting squirrely. (There was a lot going on, you guys, not to mention the tiny person rhythmically trying to escape from my uterus.) Epidural went in and ahhhh sweet, sweet bliss.
My water broke 10 minutes later with a delightfully surprising ‘POP’! It was meconium-stained, so I could count on a few more people in the room once the baby was born.
Fast-forward through the remainder of dilation to the pushing portion of the afternoon. It was a lot harder for me this time. I felt like I was making zero progress with each push, which was frustrating. I could feel every single contraction; a departure from my epidural experience with Caroline. I was ready to punch kittens, guys. The nurses kept telling me to keep my hands behind my knees which I didn’t like at all. I would have rathered holding on to the bed rails to help crunch down and curl myself around the baby. Looking back, I wish I had advocated for myself a little more. In a moment of quasi-clarity, I remembered that someone on Reddit recommended that you keep your pushing muscles engaged between contractions to keep the baby from sliding back. I made fast progress from that point on. Also, I pooped. A lot.
I have to pause here and mention that my OB was herself ready to pop with her first child, so the entire time I’m pushing she’s sitting at the end of my bed and talking me through. She ended up delivering the very next day and is, officially, my hero.
Finally–crowning! It’s the most intense, painful, animalistic I have ever felt. I was ready to fire the baby across the room ASAP but everyone told me to WAIT! WAIT! WE HAVE TO GOWN UP! and again with the punching kittens because OMFG THERE IS A CHILD TEARING ME IN HALF WHY DIDN’T YOU PUT ON YOUR BABY-CATCHING SUIT SOONER. I would have probably bitten someone if they were within gnashing distance.
Next contraction comes along, I channel my inner Salt ‘n Peppa, and all of a sudden she’s flopped on my chest. SHE! I was convinced I was having a boy, and was soundly flabbergasted.
Corinne Rose Kelly was born at 8lbs 5oz and 21 inches long. Not surprisingly, the 1lb 3oz difference between Caroline and Corinne made a big difference when one considers squeezing it through a bagel-sized hole. Also of note: she was exactly her estimated birth weight. Good on you, ultrasound people!
I did not deliver the placenta easily. Apparently the umbilical cord was attached at the very edge of the placenta and my OB had to do some…tugging.. to get it out. I had tearing, again, and felt the stitching happening this time. It was small potatoes compared to labor and crowning, and I didn’t really care since I was all kinds of weepy and happy and hopped-up on post-partum adrenaline/hormones.
She was right as rain with no complications from the meconium, so I was able to hold her and nurse her immediately. TJ parent’s showed up a little while later with Caroline for introductions, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Postpartum with a 2-year-old underfoot is the most trying thing I’ve ever done. There is no time, it’s a simple as that. There is no ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’, no time alone to nurse your woeful undercarriage. Someone is always hungry, or needs a diaper, or is into something dangerous, or someone is visiting, or that load of laundry needs to be washed because it contains all of your nursing bras.
I just want to hide in a closet sometimes.
Here’s a reality bomb: Truly, I have never felt as strung out as I feel now. I feel like a shell of my former self. I feel pulled in every direction, and I feel like every aspect of my life suffers as a result. There just isn’t enough of me to go around. Honestly, if someone asked me for my advice, I wouldn’t recommend having two children under 2.
Physically speaking, recovery has been a little easier. I didn’t have much swelling and it didn’t hurt to pee at all. I was able to pull on non-maternity jeans at 18 days post-partum. They were snug, but they fit! I celebrated that little victory.
Two Months Out
We’ve been lucky again in that Corinne is an easy-going, uncomplicated baby. She sleeps in her crib without complaint, she eats like a champ, and she is forgiving of Caroline’s Lennie-esque smothering love.
Speaking of Caroline, I’m kicking myself for not signing her up for playgroup or tumbling or swim lessons or SOMETHING. I’ve learned that most of these activities a.) are sign-up only, b.) run concurrently with the school semesters, c.) fill up fast, and d.) are not cheap. It’s probably not surprising that we watch a lot of PBS Kids around here. I console myself with reminders that it’s educational TV, at least. She’s running me ragged.
Three Months Out
I wrote most of this post on April 17th. It’s now May 31st.
Things are better after 4 weeks. Corinne sleeps through the night, and I can’t say enough about how awesome I felt after a few nights of uninterrupted sleep. She’s less of a potato baby, and I enjoy her coos and giggles, and the fact that I can put her on the floor under her play gym without worrying as much about her physical well-being.
WITHOUT FAIL every night around 7pm, she starts screaming. Walking around the kitchen table 192,374,757 times is the only thing that will quell the tempest in her tiny teapot, and we’ve dubbed that time of day to be “Walk O’ Clock”. My FitBit loves this time of day. I do not.
Here’s some real talk:
1. For fuck’s sake, take care of yourself.
You’re tits-on-a-bull to your kids if you’re a puddle of overwhelmed anxiety. Seek help from friends and family, and swallow your pride about it if you’re anything like me. Take showers at night if it means you get 120 precious seconds to yourself. Shave body parts that have been neglected over the past months. Make yourself a latte every morning.
These things sound small and contrived, I know, but they will save your sanity.
2. For my breastfeeding friends: Take care of your nipples.
Is your latch deep? Are you sure? YOU NEED A DEEP LATCH. Check kellymom.com for more tips, or your local La Leche League, or your lactation consultant.
After nursing, inspect each nipple for cracks or blisters. Wipe them clean if necessary and gently pat them dry. Change your nursing pads and apply some kind of nipple balm. You will thank yourself, I promise. Walk around your home topless if necessary, and let your MIL learn the hard way that coming over unannounced isn’t ok. Unless you’re ok with your MIL seeing you topless–in which case…ok (????)…but whatever the case, your nips will thank you for the extra TLC.
3. In line with recommendation #1, remember that you cannot do everything.
TJ’s sister showed up at our door two weeks after Corinne was born with a full load of groceries and I could have kissed her. I was immensely grateful that I wouldn’t have to drag myself and at least one of the girls up and down the aisles of the grocery store for another 10 days or so. I never thought that a trip to the grocery store would seem like an insurmountable task. Someday, I hope to return that favor.
Remember that your life is different now, and it may mean you’ll have to let go of some things. I have sat upon Oliver precisely one time in the past 8 months. I have been running precisely 4 times since Corinne was born. The post history around here…well, it speaks for itself.
I’ll admit that I have not let those things fall by the wayside in a graceful manner, but I’m working on it.
As I close this post, I feel a lot better than when I opened it. There’s no doubt that things can get pretty fucking dark when you’re in the thick of it. We’re tweaking our new definition of normal every day, and every day we get a little better at it, and that’s really all you can hope for.