Powerball, a birth story.

Right, I owe you a birth story!

First, the facts:

Powerball was born at 9:36am on Monday, October 3rd in an unmedicated VBAC.  He weighed 6 pounds 11 oz and was 20.5 inches.  He has dark hair and long toes.  He’s perfect.

As I said, the facts.  As for the story:

Late in the week before Powerball was born, some time on Thursday night I think, I started having occasional cramps.  They were irregular, and low in my pelvis.  It felt like Powerball was trying to bust his way out, but wasn’t quite sure what to do.  I also wasn’t quite sure what to do, so took the sensible approach of ignoring what was going on.

On Friday morning, as I dried off after my shower, most of my mucous plug came out. I was interested in a “bodies are fascinating” kind of way, but also had to get Bingo to daycare and didn’t have much time to over-analyze.  Besides, a quick Google search told me that labour could still be hours, days, or weeks away– nothing I didn’t already know.  So, again, I ignored what was going on. My only nod to the possibility of Powerball’s birth was switching my work calendar to October.

Over the weekend I had more cramps and lost more of my mucous plug.  The cramps were still irregular, and mostly background noise.  I took Bingo to the park, went to an event downtown, and spent time with friends.  Sea and I finally packed a hospital bag, but ignored the rest of our to do list.  There was still time, we figured.

I went to bed on Sunday night fully prepared to get up for work on Monday morning.

Instead I woke up at 2am.

It was mostly the cat’s fault.  Sea’s cat (and, by default, mine) is an unfriendly animal, demonstrating his disdain for us by staying in whatever room we’re not in.  The exception to this is in the middle of the night, when he is suddenly desperate for attention and spends hours walking across us and trying to eat our hair.  It was his aggressive purring that first woke me up.  Then, a cramp.

The cat continued to purr.  Another cramp.

Sea rolled over and tried to push him off the bed.  Another cramp.

The cat batted at the back of my head, maybe noticing I wasn’t really asleep.  Another cramp.

Sea got up and kicked the cat out of the room.  Another cramp.

Sea went back to sleep, but I lay awake wondering if maybe– just maybe– I shouldn’t ignore what was happening.  Another cramp contraction.

I opened the contraction timer app that I had downloaded onto my phone the week before.  I had felt ridiculous downloading it, certain that there wouldn’t be anything to time, but now I was using it to monitor contractions that were already between 7-10 minutes apart.  It was 3am.

I left Sea to sleep and went downstairs, still convinced that if I just walked around for awhile and drank some water the contractions would stop.  Instead, they got closer together and stronger as I spent the next two hours silently walking my dark kitchen, holding the counter through contractions.  By 5am I realized it was time to wake up Sea.

Sea was surprisingly coherent for somebody who had been woken up at 2am by a cat and at 5am by a contracting partner.  She asked if she should shower.  Yes, I said, probably.  She asked if she should call our two “on call” friends: one of them being Bingo’s babysitter, the other being The Doctor who we had asked to be there for the birth.  Yes, I said, probably.  She asked if I should page our midwife.  Yes, I said, probably.

So Sea showered, and I called the pager system used to wrangle our midwives.  Between contractions (now less than five minutes apart), I gave my name and phone number and the person on the other end of the line promised that somebody would call me back within fifteen minutes.

Fifteen minutes passed.  Sea got out of the shower.  Another fifteen minutes passed.  Nobody called.  Sea suggested we call again and I agreed, but told her that she would have to do it: I was going to throw up.

While I threw up in the toilet, Sea paged again.  Nobody called.  I showered, finding relief until the hot water ran out. Sea paged again.  Nobody called.  I dressed, our friends arrived, and still nobody called.  It was after 7am, it had been an hour and a half since we started trying to page a midwife, and my contractions were now between 3-4 minutes apart.  Just as we decided that we were going to the hospital anyways, a deeply apologetic person called on behalf of the midwives clinic.  Apparently the paging system wasn’t working, none of the midwives were answering, but somebody would meet us at the hospital.  “Who?” Sea asked.  They weren’t sure.  But somebody.

The Doctor drove us to the hospital, a four minute ride that lasted two contractions and approximately four million hours.  As we pulled up to the hospital, I announced that I had to be let out of the car immediately so that I could throw up, which I did in the hospital’s neatly pruned flowerbed.

After that glamorous arrival, we made our way up to the “family birthing centre” (standard labour and delivery unit) on the seventh floor.  There was nobody at the reception desk, but a nurse on her way by told us to go directly down the hallway to triage.  Unfortunately, triage seemed to be in the middle of a staff meeting.  We stood in the hallway waiting and, between contractions, I eavesdropped on a litany of nurses’ complaints.  The first was that a nurse, Norma, was always late– sauntering in for a 7:30 shift when it had already begun.  The second was something to do with the process of wiping beds.  The third was a demand by a particularly bossy nurse that nobody bother her that evening, because she would be at the Adele concert and not answering her phone. The fourth, and probably most pressing, was that all of the beds were full and nobody else could go into labour.

Which is when Sea and I decided to let them know that– bed or not– we were there to have a baby.  The Adele-loving nurse, unimpressed by our interruption, told us in no uncertain terms that we couldn’t have a baby until we had checked in at reception.  So we went back down the hallway.  A receptionist had materialized, but told us that we couldn’t check in until our midwife– or at least a midwife– had arrived but that there might be one already in triage.  So we went back down the hallway.  It occurred to me then that one of the (many) themes of Powerball’s birth was shaping up to be administrative failure.

Thankfully, a midwife had just arrived.  She was from the same clinic as our midwives, though we had never met her before.  Apparently, the paging system had attempted to call any and every midwife, and she was the one who had answered first.  Our own secondary midwife– Skim Milk– was also on her way.  By the time I had changed into a hospital gown, Skim Milk was there and ready to check my progress.  As the person in the next triage bed yelled, “ALLAH, ALLAH, ALLAH”, Skim Milk announced that I was already 5cm and fully effaced.  She also told me that Powerball was still high in my pelvis, really high, and that a c-section might be necessary.

“Okay.” I said.  And, in that moment, I realized that it really was okay– that months of processing and worrying had made one of my birth intentions true.  I wasn’t sad, disappointed, or angry in that moment.  I trusted that Powerball was going to use whichever exit he had to and that, no matter what, we were going to be fine.

We went down another hallway, one I had last walked almost three years ago when Bingo was born, to a delivery room– the very last one available, we were told.  It was smaller and darker than the one where Bingo had been born, and had also been totally raided of supplies: everything from gauze to the computer mouse was missing.  From the next room, we could hear somebody’s labour music playing– Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” on repeat.  As I tried not to think of the Titanic, Skim Milk and the student midwife (who had just arrived) strapped wireless monitors around my contracting belly, explained that constant monitoring was a requirement of VBACs, and attempted to hook up an IV.

The IV was necessary because, two weeks earlier, my Strep B test had come back positive.  The midwives were unconcerned, 25% of Strep B tests are positive, but explained that I would need four hours of prophalctic antibiotics during labour to make sure that Powerball was protected.  The IV was also necessary if I wanted to have an epidural, which I was becoming increasingly sure that I did.  Hooking up the IV was also an exercise in frustration.  I have terrible, awful veins that make even the most routine of blood draws challenging.  Add into the mix some dehydration (remember all the puking) and the fact that I was leaping up at every contraction because sitting felt unbearable, and finding a vein took seven tries over twenty minutes.  To make matters even worse, as soon as the IV was hooked up, the bag of fluid exploded all over me.  (Sea would later joke that this was my water breaking…)

With a new IV bag finally hooked up, I waited for the requisite half bag of fluid that I had to receive before I could have an epidural.  Screw natural birth, I thought to myself.  Natural birth is for people more natural than me.  I would rather have a nap.  During each contraction I would hold on to the bathroom door, bracing myself against the handle and swearing under my breath.  Between contractions I would watch the painfully slow drip of the IV, just waiting for that half bag to be done.

(WARNING: here’s where things get graphic.)

We never made it to that awaited half bag and epidural.  Instead, there was a flurry of activity as Powerball’s heartrate suddenly dropped and then became undetectable.  “GET HELP.” Skim Milk instructed the student midwife.  In the same tone, she told me to lie down on my left side on the hospital bed.  She adjusted the monitors around my belly then– giving up– used her doppler to find Powerball’s heart again.  There it was, steady in the now very busy room.  I was reassured, but Skim Milk seemed less so.  She found an oxygen mask, ordering The Doctor to hook it up after the student midwife froze.  There were suddenly two nurses and an OB in the room, and talk of fluid boluses and a prepped operating room floated around my head. The contractions, which had hurt badly when I was standing, were excruciating now that I was lying on my side.  “This isn’t a good position for me.” I complained between contractions.  “Well,” Skim Milk responded, “It’s the best position for the baby so you’ll have to stay there.”

The OB checked my dilation before breaking my water to attach a scalp monitor to Powerball– I was now fully dilated, but Powerball was “sunny side up” with his nose pointed to my pelvis.  As my water broke, meconium gushed everywhere.  More people appeared in the room– nurses, two pediatricians, medical students.  I only caught glimpses of them, mostly keeping my eyes tightly closed against the chaos.  Then the bed was transformed around me, my legs lifted into stirrups: it was time to push.

I pushed with each contraction, red faced and yelling.  In between contractions, the OB reached inside of me and tried to manually turn Powerball who was stuck against my pelvic bone.  This, friends, is undoubtedly the worst pain I’ve ever experienced– a stranger’s arm inside my contracting, exhausted body, trying to twist a baby unwilling to turn.  “Stop, stop, stop,” I begged/yelled, but there was no stopping.  Instead the OB told me that Powerball was going to need help to come out– maybe an episiotomy, maybe a vacuum, maybe forceps, maybe a c-section.

I told her to do what she had to do, and kept pushing.  The OB, who was brilliantly bossy, yelled at me to stop yelling and ignored me when I told her I couldn’t do this.  Skim Milk and Sea stood by my shoulders, reassuring me and telling me that I was doing a good job.  The rest of the people in the room all just became background noise.  And then, in the two longest/hardest contractions ever, Powerball was out– lifted, squirming and filthy, onto my belly.

He was only there for a moment before being handed off to the pediatricians and gaggle of medical students to be cleared of meconium, cleaned, and checked for any issues.  As I delivered the placenta and had a second degree tear stitched up (they had never gotten to the episiotomy), Sea went to go and check on Powerball.  She cut his cord, and shouted over from the corner of the room that he had hair.  (Bingo was pretty bald, and we were expecting a repeat…)  Then Powerball was delivered back to my chest, and a second of my birth intentions was realized: I held my baby.

The room was suddenly very, very still.  The doctors, nurses, and students had all disappeared.  The Doctor had gone to buy us breakfast.  It was only the midwives, Sea, Powerball, and me.  Skim Milk and the midwife who had been the first to appear that morning, quietly filled out paperwork, checked Powerball, and marvelled over my placenta (which had, unbenownst to any of us, stopped functioning on one side at some point late in pregnancy).  Sea and I stared at Powerball, tiny and bruised from birth, here.

We were released from the hospital a couple of hours later. Twelve hours after I had been woken up by Sea’s cat, we were home, a new family of four.


Baby feet, for making it all the way through.

Two week wait.

There’s something I forgot to mention in my post about birth intentions.  It’s less of an intention and more of a decision, anyways: I won’t be induced.

As you know by now, my induction with Bingo at 41 weeks and some days was less than ideal.  It limited my options, restricted my movement, included a series of interventions and complications, involved almost two full days of ouch, and still resulted in a c-section.

I hope that Powerball comes out of my vagina, if only because I’d rather not be recovering from surgery parenting both a toddler and a newborn.  My efforts to make that happen include crossing my fingers and toes, eating all of the pineapple from the fruit tray at a staff meeting, and even making another acupuncture appointment (it turns out I still have some insurance money to spare…)  But if s/he doesn’t take the hint and vacate my uterus soon, my efforts will not include Cervidil or an IV of Pitocin.

Instead, if Powerball doesn’t want to be born, we’ll skip the middle step and jump right to a planned c-section.  So planned, in fact, that we scheduled it at our last visit with the OB: October 13th, at 4:00pm.

Sea isn’t keen on the date.  It’s an older cousin’s birthday, for one.  And it will mean that some of Powerball’s birthdays fall on Friday the 13th.  But it’s the time that fit best into the OB’s schedule.  That’s how it goes, I’m realizing: some birthdays are about the end of a 40 week count, a hormonal shift, luck, fate, a full moon, whatever, and other birthdays are about what fit most neatly into a stranger’s calendar.

It occurred to me this morning, as I switched my own calendar from September to October (just in case I don’t make it back into the office next week), that Powerball’s scheduled due date means I am– without a doubt– in my last two weeks of this pregnancy.  Very likely my last two weeks of pregnancy ever.

It’s a strange kind of two week wait, with plenty in common with the one from 38 weeks ago.  There’s anticipation, anxiety, a desire to know exactly how things will play out.  There’s the over-analyzing of ever twinge and cramp, and the compulsive toilet paper checking.  There’s also an urgency that’s all its own.  I clean my desk, procrastinate on packing the hospital bag, try to make sure the cat food bowl is full, make plans that I may or may not keep, click “interested” but not “attending” on every Facebook event, count the days until my favourite midwife (Diet Coke) is back on call, insist that friends and family keep their phones on, and wait.  Just wait.


“The last time I felt that was on a DOLL!”

The process of bringing babies into the world has carried me many places over the past four years, but perhaps none so many as last week.


It all began on Tuesday, with a visit to our midwives clinic.  Though the appointment was with Herbal Tea, her placement student was the one to begin. I lay down on the exam table and the student, a friendly young queer woman with asymmetrical hair, began to feel for Powerball’s position.  “Hmm,” she said, grasping at my right side just above my bellybutton, “this feels like a head.”  Then, moving to my left side, still just above my bellybutton, “and this feels like a bum.”  She took out a stethoscope to listen to Powerball’s heart:  “I think… I think the baby might be sideways.”  Herbal Tea took over and confirmed: Powerball was sideways, stretched across my abdomen, transverse breech.

“WOW,” the placement student exclaimed, “the last time I felt that was on a DOLL!”

It seemed that Powerball’s placement was neither conventional (odds are 1 in 2500!) or conducive to being born.  At 37 weeks it was also not especially likely to change.  Herbal Tea looked at me with concern and explained that it isn’t great news that Powerball keeps switching positions, seems to have no clue where the exit sign is, and was sideways.  Then the woman who once told me about birthing her own children at home under a full moon, gently explained that a scheduled c-section was becoming increasingly likely and that it was time for another visit to the OB.  She also suggested things that I could try to get Powerball to flip: chiropractic, moxibustion, acupuncture.


Armed with my work health insurance and an unexpectedly strong desire to get Powerball to listen, I booked the first chiropractic appointment of my life.  The appointment took place in a small ground floor office downtown, full of natural light, exposed brick, unvarnished wood, and the smell of essential oils.  The only seating in the waiting area was what seemed to be an uncomfortable wooden church pew, so I stood instead, reading the posters tacked to a bulletin board in a corner.  “Learn about orgasmic birth!” one extolled, while another urged children to consider the chiropractic alignment of their backpacks.  The chiropractor, a stylish woman who looked like she would be quite comfortable in the financial district or the pages of a fashion magazine, welcomed me into the treatment room: an open space with no door, and four or five exam tables.  We were the only ones there.  She felt my spine, checked my balance, and explained that she would be using the Webster Technique to try to get Powerball to flip.    I climbed onto a table, cushioned with hollowed out pillows for my belly, and the chiropractor marveled at my mobility: “You may be the most agile 37 week pregnant person I’ve ever met!”  Given my face down position on the table, I can only speculate about the treatment from that point– she felt my spine a bunch, pulled at my neck, head, and back a bit, and used a metal clicker that reminded me of a hole punch to apply pressure to various points on my back and hips.  In less than 20 minutes we were done.  It was… fine.  The earth didn’t move.  Neither, as far as I could tell, did Powerball.  But it was easy and painless, and who couldn’t benefit from being slightly better adjusted?


I considered booking some community acupuncture on Thursday, but decided to focus on the out-of-utero child instead, and took Bingo to a nearby farmers market.  While I was there, I stopped by a booth being run by a natural health centre.  I explained my transverse baby predicament and the naturopath on duty immediately took out her appointment book, insisting that we needed to treat this “aggressively”.  So, while the people around me bought apples and local cheese, I booked an appointment for the next morning.


The appointment with the naturopath was in a slightly worn high-rise downtown: its long hallways carpeted in brown.  It seemed like an unlikely place for a naturopath to work– hidden behind a maroon door wedged between a men’s dermatology clinic and a law firm.  The clinic was dimly lit and smelled strongly of incense. The receptionist blinked up as I opened the door, seemingly surprised that anybody had come in. She was still staring up at at me when the naturopath came over with a stack of intake forms, asking everything from my digestive health history to the three most traumatic events from my life, and welcomed into a small treatment room.  After reviewing my digestive health and life traumas, the naturopath asked me to lie down on the treatment table.  She explained that she would be using several techniques to get Powerball to turn: moxibustion, acupuncture, guided visualization, and craniosacral therapy.

She began with the craniosacral therapy, which I would later learn has been described as both a “pseudoscience” and “quackery”.  Though I imagined a practice referencing my cranium would focus on my head, this particular version involved the naturopath/craniosacral therapist feeling/holding several parts of my body, including my ankles, hips, and butt.  Honestly, it mostly felt like a gentle version of an airport patdown, with some additional tugging on my ears.  As she felt/held, she asked me about everything from my plans for placental encapsulation (none), to my use of visualization (also none), and experience with acupuncture (still none).  Then, holding my butt/hip, she turned her attention to Powerball.  While I stared at the ugly drop ceiling and tried not to twitch, the naturopath/craniosacral therapist/motivational speaker spoke to the fetus in soothing tones and told Powerball that s/he should move comfortably into a head down position and work with me as a team.  It occurred to me then that, while her low tone was probably too quiet for a fetus to hear, the naturopath/craniosacral therapist/motivational speaker was still establishing more of a rapport with Powerball than I was with her.

A full 45 minutes of airport patdown and motivational talk later, the naturopath/craniosacral therapist/motivational speaker was ready to move on to acupuncture and moxibustion.  I was keener on this part of the treatment, having come across plenty of anecdotal- and some empirical- evidence on the benefits of acupuncture in particular.  As a lifelong needle-phobe, I wasn’t particularly excited to be stabbed with dozens of them, but you do what you have to do when your fetus is lying transverse across your abdomen. The needles were impossibly thin, almost too thin to feel.  I could only really guess at where the naturopath/craniosacral therapist/motivational speaker/acupuncturist was placing them, based on where she was hovering around my body: some in my scalp, some near my elbows, some in my toes.  Leaving the needles, she went to light a thick stick of incense.  As a sweetish smoke filled the room, she added some bonus psychotherapy into the mix.  “How do you feel about the pregnancy?” she asked.  Fine, I responded.  Ambivalent.  She seemed thrown by this answer, but continued: “And how do you feel about the baby being born?” Though I think I was supposed to have been soothed by both the treatment and the naturopath/craniosacral therapist/motivational speaker/acupuncturist/moxibuster/psychotherapist’s dulcet tones, I hadn’t been.  So I brushed the question off, answering that I felt fine but had a lot to do before Powerball arrives.  “Tell me more about that,” she insisted gently.  I explained that the room wasn’t ready and that there was still a lot to get organized: “We still need to make space.”  As the words came out of my mouth, I realized that I had just given her the perfect psychotherapy bait– and she caught it.  As she held the incense dangerously close to my little toes, burning one slightly, she mused, “I see a parallel here.  Space in your home, space in your uterus.  You need to find the fit.”

Maybe so, but as my eyes began to water from the smoke, I realized that I wasn’t going to find that space in the strange offices of strangers.  That the hour and a half I had now spent lying in the naturopath/craniosacral therapist/motivational speaker/acupuncturist/moxibuster/psychotherapist’s* office was an hour and a half that I could have spent doing pretty much anything else.  That I was wasting both my time and my (rapidly diminishing) insurance money.  That Powerball wasn’t the only one in the wrong place.

True believers in any/all of these things, please don’t take offense.  It isn’t so much that I don’t believe in chiropractic treatment, naturopathy, visualization, acupuncture, moxibustion, psychotherapy, or any of the other treatments that you might hold dear.  It’s just that I think that any treatment (including western medicine) requires a belief in it to be effective.  And with somewhere around two weeks of pregnancy left to go, I just don’t have time to cultivate that belief.  I would rather spend those two weeks making out-of-utero space for Powerball, wrapping up loose ends, playing with Bingo, enjoying life as a family of three.  My visit to the naturopath/craniosacral therapist/motivational speaker/acupuncturist/moxibuster/psychotherapist had actually done me quite a lot of good, in helping me to come to that realization and in preparing me for…


Our return visit to the OB’s office, as recommended by Herbal Tea.  The visit was designed to both check Powerball’s “uncertain lie” and schedule a c-section based on the results.  We had met the OB a few weeks prior, at the visit required for all midwifery patients considering a VBAC.  She was friendly and funny, features I’ve rarely encountered in OBs, or in doctors more generally.  If anybody was going to cut Powerball out, I thought, it might as well be her.  As I lay down on the exam table, I prepared to pick a birthday.  It wasn’t resignation, just acceptance: an understanding that however Powerball comes out will be okay.

The OB felt my stomach: “It feels to me,” she said, “like this baby is head down.”

Yes, somewhere between seeing the midwife, the chiropractor, the naturopath/craniosacral therapist/motivational speaker/acupuncturist/moxibuster/psychotherapist, and the OB, Powerball turned head down.  I can’t tell you when it happened or why.  I also can’t honestly tell you that Powerball’s change in position has changed my mind about any of the treatments I tried.  Sure, maybe it was one of the treatments.  Or maybe it was luck.  Or maybe it’s just a temporary turn.  If Powerball’s change in position has made me a believer in anything, it’s that Powerball is the only one who knows what s/he’s doing in there and the best thing I can do is trust that s/he’s got it figured out.

 *I forgot, she was also a dietician!  Not really, but she told me not to “overnourish” the fetus because s/he would turn more easily if s/he was small.


Birth intentions.

Recently, in a Facebook group that I’ll call Sheer Llamas for the sake of anonymity, a member asked what she should tell a friend who had just had an unexpected and traumatic c-section.

“I would tell her,” another member responded, “that all births are beautiful”.

This answer hit a nerve in me, and I responded vehemently.  No, no.  Not all births are beautiful.  All babies?  Maybe, arguably.  But not all births.

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Bingo- a birth story.

Somehow, Bingo is six months old. I want to write a post about her transformation from squishy newborn to funny, active little person, but right now I’m painfully aware of both my overall failure to blog and my specific failure to blog about Bingo’s birth. I’ll begin with the latter in an attempt to remedy the former. Still following? Good!

Bingo’s birth story was mostly written at the time of the event, time- stamped updates typed into my phone by me and then, later, by Sea.  If you don’t want to read it, here is the summary:

After the contractions brought about by induction #1– cervical gel- tapered off, induction #2- pitocin- went ahead as scheduled, beginning on November 21st. Labor was long, painful, and scary at times. It culminated in two hours of pushing, followed by a caesarean after I spiked a fever and labor stalled. Of course, what it really culminated in was the birth of the fabulous Bingo. This end product- and the care/love of Sea, our friends, and our fabulous midwives- make this a happy story, even though, at the time, a lot of it felt like anything but.

And here is the long version, written on November 21st and 22nd, 2013.

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(Yesterday, now.)

I text my friends to wish them a happy due date, telling them that I’m excited for them.  Text sent, I go and look in the mirror.

The wrinkled t-shirt I pulled out of the pile of unfolded laundry in our room is even more wrinkled after a restless night. Its front is stained with milk: in the next 10 minutes its shoulder will also be covered in spit up. Under my stained shirt, my stomach is stretched in a way that still feels unfamiliar.  The stretchmarks are always a surprise.  I look tired, and my hair is too long. I try to think when I last had a haircut, I can’t remember. I try to think about when I might go for another haircut, and I can’t imagine. I’m pulled away from my pathetic reflection by the sounds of a stirring baby: the same sounds that pulled me away from my bed no fewer than four times the previous night.

I go into the baby’s room. Picture-perfect before she was born, a basket of unfolded laundry now sits in the middle and books are flung across the floor. I turn off the humidifier and the white noise machine, mechanisms necessary for sleep. I’m greeted by a smiling baby. She is kicking happily in the center of her crib, surrounded by a small ocean’s worth of spit up. Despite yesterday’s bath, she smells like sour milk. I pick her up, and immediately realize that she has pooed out the sides and up the back of her diaper. Again. 

After the first of the day’s three outfit changes, I have breakfast while I feed the baby.  This, in itself, is a feat: I’ve eaten cookies or nothing more mornings than I care to admit.  Today I balance my bowl of cereal in the hand partially pinned under the baby’s head, and try not to drip milk onto her clean outfit.  I eat lefthanded, a newly acquired skill.  While I eat, I think about my friends, awaiting the arrival of their any-day-now baby.  I think of our own anticipation in November, and the days that followed.  Even remembering, I feel overwhelmed by the exhaustion and the pain.  I think about the long labor that ended in a c-section, about how I could barely turn or pull myself to sitting afterwards, about how my body leaked and bled.  I think about the night when Bingo cried constantly, and all of the tears (both hers and mine) that came both before and after.  I think about how I really had no idea, and how often I still don’t.  And I think about my friends, and how some of these things might still be ahead.

And then I’m pulled back to the here and now, mostly because the baby has managed to sink her elbow into my bowl of cereal despite my breakfast gymnastics.  Finished eating, she turns her head and smiles up at me.  In the past five and a half months, she’s transformed from a fragile newborn into a sturdy (and pudgy!) child.  I think now about all of the things she does.  She rolls, and sits (sort of), and wrinkles her nose when she laughs.  She has likes and dislikes, favorite toys and games.  After an absence (no matter how short), she greets me or Sea with an enthusiasm that radiates through her entire body.  She is more herself every day, and I am more myself with her.  As exhausting and chaotic as these days sometimes still are, they are palpably different from those first overwhelming weeks when I found myself wondering– more than once– what we had done.  These days are different, filled with more with joy than fear.  I am wrinkled, I am exhausted, I am happy.  And I am excited for my friends.

Year in review.

This morning I received an e-mail from WordPress, directing me to my year in review. I read, with some interest, the statistics summarizing the number of visitors to my blog, most popular posts, most common search terms (“lesbian pregnancy” was the winner, in case you’re curious). Really though, this summary of posts written and read isn’t my year captured- my year is captured more by the stories the posts tell and, of course, by the small person currently lying stretched across my lap.

My year, in review:

January brought the disappointment of a third failed IUI and the last attempt with our first donor. February was the month that worked, March was the month where we learned that it had. In the middle months of the year, my belly slowly grew as did the number of people anticipating Bingo’s arrival. As I sweated through the late summer, we went Facebook public. We learned Bingo’s sex: a badly kept secret until she was born. In the fall we worried about about our maybe-breech baby. In October we anticipated her early arrival (ha!) then I lay inverted on an ironing board and she flipped. In November I left work and waited. On November 22nd Bingo was born- though I did not give birth. She came into the world almost two weeks late, after almost two days of induction and labor (story still owed). The rest of November was spent in flux, split between the physical and emotional exhaustion of post-birth/early parenthood and the wonder of learning and falling in love with our daughter. December has brought increasing stability, as Sea and I have learned a little more about who Bingo is and who we are as parents. It has been a month filled with amazement, frustration, spit up, dirty diapers, uncertainty, sleep deprivation and love.

2013 has been a terribly hard year for many of the people I care about the most. For me it has just been a year of much change and growth- both literal and figurative. There have been many moments- over the past five and a half weeks in particular- that have left me feeling raw. This is no bad thing: it comes with the potential for more change and growth. I have no resolutions for 2014, but I am full of hope and anticipation. Part of that hope is for those people I care about- including all of you. I hope that 2014 brings only good things, and finds you and your family exactly where you need to be.

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Induction, Part 2 (or not).

Once again, as captured at the time.

7:59pm: We arrive back at the hospital, which is much less crowded than earlier.  The receptionist working the evening shift directs all of her questions towards Sea.  When she asks for insurance information and I hand her mine, she says “Oh, it’s you?”

8:57pm: I’m hooked up to the monitor again. I’m still cramping, muscles gripping in a way that reads (slightly) on the printed traces. The nurses are talking about food poisoning and heart attacks.

9:13pm: The nurse comes and reads the monitor’s printouts.  She tells us that the regular cramps are, in fact, contractions.  She’s pleased with this, but less pleased with the fact that Bingo seems to be sleeping.  She leaves and comes back with a styrofoam cup of too-sweet orange juice, which I drink/spill inelegantly down my front.

9:38pm: The doctor, the same doctor as before, comes to check my progress.  He looks at the recorded contractions, before doing a very uncomfortable, thorough internal exam.  I’m now apparently a fingertip dialated.  Contractions + dialation = enough progress to result in the cancellation of gel, round 2.  He summarizes: “Things are progressing… slowly.”  Sea and I are told to go home and come back either when labor picks up or at 10:30am, whichever comes first.

9:45pm: Sea and I are worried about the cancelling of gel, round 2.  On our way out we ask the doctor if he thinks labor will stop or progress overnight.  He tells us that he’s “impressed” with my progress, that earlier he had been sure more than one round of gel would be necessary, that labor could stop but that it’s more likely that it won’t.  Way to impress the doctor, Bingo!

So now we hurry up and wait, once again.  Our support people are on standby, and we’re home to try to sleep.  Contractions are coming frequently but not intensely.  We’ll see how much of the next 24 hours I can blog, but I expect they’re going to be big ones!

Eviction notice.

While we were eating breakfast this morning, I turned to Sea and said: “I think Bingo has inherited my time management skills”.  You see, I’m perpetually late.  Ten minutes before I need to be somewhere twenty minutes away, I’ll be running around trying to find my keys and my right shoe.  I imagine that’s what Bingo is doing now: turning circles in my uterus, looking anxiously at a small watch, saying “I just need to…”

You see, Bingo is now eight days past due.  In addition to this, Bingo hasn’t yet dropped fully into my pelvis.  In addition to this, a biophysical profile done on Monday shows an… *ahem* hefty fetus, at an estimated 9 pounds.  Based on these facts, induction has been scheduled to begin tomorrow.  Sea updated her personal blog with the details of today’s midwife appointment, which I’m copying and pasting here in lieu of my own play by play.

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