It's week two at home with baby #2, and things are going surprisingly well. Probably because I have such an involved husband, an amazing Mom who lives with us, and a pretty chilled out newborn. Cole has also been adjusting incredibly well, though he needs more Mom snuggles these days. Our greatest fear right now is that he'll accidentally headbutt Maeve's soft spot or poke her eyeball out while trying to give her some toddler "love."
"Look! Dat guy eyes open!" *Poke* Yes, Cole calles Maeve "That Guy!" Because she has short hair, clearly she is a he. For the record, my Mom is also a boy.
Yet despite this relatively easy transition, due to all of the support that surrounds me, there is one thing that all the help in the world can't change—postpartum hormones.
From what I remember last time, there are two phases. First is the CRY EVERY DAY AT DINNER PHASE. I remember with Cole, this happened daily for the first two weeks. Salty tears would literally roll down my cheeks and land in my spaghetti. And again with Maeve I've found the same thing is happening—when the sun goes down, my emotions kick into high gear. I feel overwhelmed, but mostly with love. I find myself crying, not because I'm sad, but because I feel like my heart could explode at any minute. I worry about anything and everything that could happen to my babies. I feel such a maternal mama bear instinct to protect them, yet I feel vulnerable because I know I can't protect them from everything.
I know from experience that these feelings will pass, and already the happy tears have subsided considerably, and we are entering the RAGE AT YOUR HUSBAND FOR NO REASON PHASE.
Oh my poor poor husband. I almost feel sorry for him. He's such a trooper. Truthfully, I'm a pretty emotionally stable person 95% of the time. But lack of sleep and postpartum hormones can change a person.
Here is a list of things that my husband has done in the last 48 hours that have caused me to snap on him.
He farted. I was breastfeeding while sitting on the couch and he let one rip. And then I raged. His farts always make me rage, but to leave me trapped on the couch with nowhere to escape pushed me over the edge. My eyes turned into hot laser beams and I screamed at him, "Why must you shit yourself and leave me here to die in your fumes? What is wrong with you? Do you have a dead animal rotting up your asshole?" He tried very hard to contain his laughter, but couldn't. Eventually, I was laughing too, but it was still a rage-filled laugh.
He accidentally headbutted me while we were co-changing Maeve's explosive diaper. He called for backup when he opened the diaper and realized it was going to leak everywhere. I ran in with an extra cloth, and while trying to clean up our daughter's bum, he accidentally headbutted me (note: I hate getting hit in the head. Specifically the nose). So, I snapped on him. Clearly he was an asshole for having accidentally hit my head!
He closed the fridge door while I was in the fridge getting something. "What is wrong with you?" I scowled. "Ask me to move next time, don't just shut the door on me!" Aghhhh. I was highly annoyed and thought we should probably get a divorce. I mean, who does that?!?
He bumped my leg while sitting down on the couch. "AGHHHH!" I screamed, irritated beyond belief. "I'm feeding Maeve, be careful! Why can't you be more graceful?" Yes, I actually used the word "graceful."
As you can see from the instances above, my husband is clearly the biggest asshole on the planet. Why do I even put up with this shit, right?
*hangs head in shame*
But, my friends, this is what hormones can do to you, and I'm going to play that card as long as I can. I just gave birth to a human and pushed her out of my vagina. I'm a feeding machine 95% of the time, and I get little sleep. You can't expect me to be rational right now. And luckily, my husband doesn't.
I'll get back to normal very soon, and he knows this, too. It's all a part of the process, and from what I understand, it's all very normal. I feel great most of the time. I feel happy most of the time. I shower most of the time.
But on those days that I don't feel great and I haven't showered? Just shut up and deal with it!
I am now a mother of two. It's amazing! After only being in our lives for one week, it's already hard to imagine what life was like before Maeve. Now here is the story of how she came into the world on Monday, March 17th, 2014.
I had been dreading the date of March 17th. Not because I'm afraid of leprechauns or have a weird St. Patty's day phobia, but that was the date I was scheduled to be induced. I would be 41 weeks on that day.
In the week leading up, I was trying everything to evict my cozy baby. Sex. Spicy food. Walking. More sex. Acupuncture. Visualization techniques. Having "rational" talks with the baby. Yet nothing was working. I woke up every morning and looked at the calendar—"Is today the day? Is today the day my baby will be born?" Yet the days passed without a single sign of labour. I was starting to get anxious, because I really did not want to be induced. At all. I'm petrified of IVs, and didn't want to be confined to a bed. With my son, I was able to have an all-natural labour, and spent 10 hours in the hospital jacuzzi tub. I wanted the same experience.
Well, my little baby had other plans.
On the morning of March 17th, we hopped into the car and made our way to the hospital for my 8am induction appointment. I wanted to vomit, but I was trying to stay positive and calm. As we approached the hospital, I had a strange feeling in my stomach, but I welcomed that strange feeling, because it was a CONTRACTION! A real, painful contraction!!! Instantly, I became hopeful, "Maybe I can do this on my own today!" So, when we checked in with the nurses, I let them know what was happening. They got me to walk around a bit, and I came back an hour later to meet with our OB.
He checked my cervix and I was 2-3 cm dilated. I got excited. He offered to break my water, but my nurse had another suggestion. "What about we do a stretch and sweep and let her walk around a bit more, and see if she can get things going herself?" My OB agreed, and off I went to wander the halls with my husband for the next several hours.
At this point, we called my Mom and she joined us on our hospital walking expeditions. She held my water bottle. My husband held the stopwatch. We talked, laughed, and excitedly timed my contractions, and slowly, but surely, they became more painful and were coming closer together. I had never been so excited to be in so much pain! When the contractions were about 2-3 minutes apart, I decided I needed to get into the tub. I instantly felt relief from the warm water. I continued to labour in there for the next hour or so, and then it was time to meet with the OB again and see how far along I was. Tyler, my Mom, and I took bets on how dilated I was, and we were all pleasantly surprised when they told me I was 6cm!!! All of that walking and visualizing was working! I agreed at that point to let the Doctor break my water, since it had been six hours or so, and we needed to get this show on the road.
Well, that's when everything changed.
I was sitting up on the bed and felt the warm gush of my water breaking. And then I heard his low voice, "There is meconium." Instantly, my heart leapt into my throat and my eyes filled with tears. My baby was stressed, and had pooped. This was dangerous. "Are you sure?" I asked the Doctor in a scared voice. He said it was just a little bit, but nonetheless I was going to have to stay in bed and be hooked up to the monitors. I started to cry a bit. I was certain this meant I was going to need an emergency C-section, but the nurse reassured me that this happens all the time and that I could still have a vaginal delivery as long as the baby and I were carefully monitored.
I felt deflated, but I was mostly worried about my baby. I knew I couldn't dwell on that, though, because another painful contraction was starting and it was going to take all of my focus and energy to get through it. I closed my eyes. The pain was intense. This wasn't going to be easy. I needed my tub. How was I ever going to do this in a bed?
I actually remember thinking, "I can't do this on dry land. I'm a mermaid. I'm a Bubble Guppie. I need water." Haha. Yes, that's right. I referenced my son's favourite pre-school show. Oh, the random things we think of when we are overcome with pain.
The next couple of hours were the most painful hours of my life. My Mom brought me a cold cloth, because I started to sweat and shake. I kept the cloth over my eyes, so I could block out all visual stimulus. The contractions were coming hard and fast. I began to moan in a deep low voice, slowly rocking my head back and forth. I tried to focus on my breathing and I was envisioning my cervix opening up further, like a flower with each new contraction. Yet, despite my best efforts to stay calm and focused, the pain escalated to a point where I finally admitted to myself, "I don't want to do this anymore. I don't want to feel this pain." So, that's when I did something I really didn't think I'd do—I asked for the epidural, and I was embarrassed.
For whatever reason, I kept apologizing to the nurse. "I'm so sorry. Don't think less of me." She scoffed, and thought I was crazy. "Ninety-nine per cent of my patients get the epidural, don't worry about it." But for me, it was a big letdown. I had already delivered a baby, posterior, without pain medication. Why wasn't I able to do it again? I felt like a failure, even though I knew it was silly to think like that. I guess, deep down, I did have certain expectations of myself, ones I wasn't even aware of.
Anyway, my Mom and husband asked me if I was sure about the epidural, and I nodded yes. The nurse reminded me that I'd need an IV, and I told her I didn't care. I was already confined to the bed and couldn't get into the tub anyway. So, she went and told the anesthesiologist and came back to check how far along I was—7cm. This was transition. I knew it was the hardest part of labour and hoped to God that the nice medicine Doctor would come quickly.
One painfully long hour later, the anesthesiologist came into the room. I couldn't see him (I was still hiding under my cold cloth) and he verbally got my consent to administer the pain medication. I nodded to everything and urged him to hurry. He told me I'd have to sit on the edge of the bed in a hunched over position. It's almost laughable, the pose you need to hold in order to receive the needle. But I was determined to be the most obedient patient ever, so I hunched over through my contractions and buried my head into my husband's stomach while I squeezed all of the blood out of his hands. The Doctor was struggling to get the needle into my back and in the right position."Wow, you have a really muscular back, I'm having trouble getting the needle in," he told me. "I bet you say that to all the ladies," I replied through clenched teeth. He laughed, and minutes later the needle was in place. Thank. God.
I laid back and wondered what the next contraction would bring. Unfortunately, it brought all the pain that the previous one had. Nothing had changed. The epidural wasn't working. For the next 5 or 6 contractions, nothing changed. The nurse was confused, it should be working by now. Then, finally, about 20 minutes after the epidural was put in, I started to feel some relief. And then, I felt a lot of relief. I could still feel my contractions, but they were so mild. I was able to open my eyes. I was able to talk. I even cracked a few jokes. I think one was about selling T-Shirts that said, "I *heart* Epidurals." I was ecstatic to not be in pain anymore, and instantly wondered why the heck I didn't get an epidural with my son?!?
Then, about an hour and a half later, the nurse asked me if I was feeling any pressure or an urge to push. I said yes. So, she snapped on her rubber gloves and collected a small team of nurses, and the respiratory therapist (due to the meconium). The room instantly filled with a happy and excited energy. I was holding back my tears knowing that very soon my baby would be in my arms. I really took the time to indulge in that moment. To look around the room. To look at my husband and my Mom. Their eyes were glassy with excited tears.
The nurse then instructed me on how to push and, again, I wanted to be the best patient ever and deliver an A+ performance (and a healthy baby), so I focused on what she said to do. After three contractions, she told me to wait, she needed to get the Doctor. We were so close. All I could do was close my eyes and say a silent prayer. Please let my baby be healthy. Please let my baby be okay . . .
In came my OB and he got right to work. "Okay, with the next contraction let's push again." And so I did. He told me to reach down and feel my baby's head. "Is it there?" I asked excitedly. I reached down and felt a soft goopy head. Yeah, it was sort of gross, but mostly it was amazing. At least I didn't shriek this time.
This was all the encouragement I needed, because with my next contraction I pushed and out came my baby. Everyone was quiet and the doctor said, "We don't want the baby to cry just yet . . ." They didn't want the baby to breath in any meconium. So, I held my breath, too. They passed my baby over to the nurses and the respiratory therapist. I was crying happy tears, but felt like I couldn't fully release my happiness until I knew my baby was okay.
"What is the gender?" someone asked.
As they viciously rubbed, patted, and suctioned my baby, one of the nurses said, "It's a girl!"
I started bawling. We all started bawling. I was right all along. I had always felt like we were having a little girl, and I knew that since she was born on St. Patrick's day we would have to go with our Irish name, Maeve: The Irish warrior goddess. It was all too perfect. It's like she knew she wanted to be born on this day. On this incredibly special birthday that she would share with one of the most amazing women in the world: her Nana, my Mom.
When they finally suctioned her and we heard a small cry, I opened up the floodgates fully and was filled with such a sense of joy and relief. Our baby girl was okay. Maeve was here, and now I could hold her in my arms.
They placed her on my chest and I kissed her perfect little head. I was shocked how much she looked like her brother, but with darker hair. I instantly noticed her fine, yet distinct, eyebrows and her high cheekbones. She had her Daddy's crooked pinky finger (that her brother also shares) and her Grandma's long toes. This is Maeve. This is my daughter. I'm holding my baby girl. In that minute, and in every minute since she's been born, I've felt like all of the pieces of my life are finally together. My heart is at capacity, we were just waiting for Maeve.
And now that she's here, I'm sure she will help Cole provide me with more content for this blog, so stay tuned and thank you so much for reading and sharing in this experience.
Despite the fact that I consider myself a feminist, I can't bring myself to grow a full-on '70s bush. I just can't do it.
I'm sorry. I guess I'm part of "that" generation. The generation that just can't stand pubic hair. Maybe I've been brainwashed by the media? Maybe I'm not a very good feminist? (Question: is body hair a pre-requisite for feminism? Probably not, but it seems like all the good ones have pit hair, at least . . . )
And now that I'm 40 weeks (and 2 days) pregnant (not that I'm counting), one might think, "Surely, you don't care about pubic hair at this point, right?"
I still care. I can't help it. In fact, it's the least I can do to still feel somewhat sexy and womanly (cue the rage of the avid bush-growers). Does my OB think that I'm a stripper when he does my cervical exam? Yeah, maybe. Or maybe he's thankful that he doesn't have to pull out his hedge trimmers just to gain access.
I'm sorry if this is too much information, but I'm just being honest, and I know I'm not alone. This has actually been a common theme of discussion amongst the various birth clubs and online mom groups I belong to.
"Is it inappropriate of me to shave before my Dr's appointment? Or is it more inappropriate if I DON'T shave?"
"How are you ladies managing to groom with such a large belly?"
"I've given up all hope. It's a jungle down there..."
I've heard it all, and have come up with a list of tips and tricks if you are someone who is interested in keeping things groomed throughout your pregnancy.
TIP #1: DON'T GET A BRAZILIAN WHEN YOU'RE PREGNANT (Unless you're a sucker for pain): Your lady parts are already engorged with so much blood and are quite sensitive. It will hurt a lot more, and probably isn't worth the pain. You might want to look into alternative methods for the next 9 months or so.
TIP #2: USE A MIRROR: When the belly gets too big and you can no longer see what you're doing, check your blind spot and use a mirror to help!
TIP #3: ASK YOUR PARTNER TO HELP: Now there is no way in hell I'd let my husband anywhere near my vagina with a razor (I barely trust him with nail clippers), but if your spouse has excellent fine motor skills, this could be the way to go for you!
TIP #4: HAVE BLIND FAITH: Even though you can't see what the heck you're doing, just go for it. Use a good razor, take your time, and hope for the best. If you miss a few spots, I'm sure no one will judge you. Heck, you tried!
So, if you're someone who is on the fence about grooming throughout your pregnancy, just think about it—you'll be saving the Doctor a step if you need to be stitched up after labour (won't need to shave you first)! And despite the fact that your ankles are swollen and you have a bundle of hemorrhoids, at least your vagina will look fantastic! Maybe you'll even want to pull out the be-dazzler? *Note* I've never gone that far . . .
If you'd like to read more about being stitched up after childbirth, check out my blog post entitled 5 Things To Say When Being Stitched Up After Childbirth.
Or, if you'd like to read about my optimistic view of pregnancy, check out The Perks of Pregnancy.