Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Husband: Nesting, Contractions and AJ Burnett

It’s been almost a month since I last blogged. A lot has happened. There was the Great Fall of 2012, the three-hour stay in the hospital, our first “HOLY CRAP BABY IS COMING NOW” scare, a couple baby showers and lots of baby gadgets that are now assembled. The curtains in the nursery have been hung, her swing is built and we finally got a lamp in the nursery, meaning that Susan’s room is now officially finished and ready for her to move in.

Mary is now nine months pregnant. She’s having contractions like crazy (“Like Crazy” is medically defined as “a shitload”). The doctors, several of them since we’ve been to about 72 unscheduled appointments in the past two weeks, all say that they aren’t real contractions, only practice contractions. Her entire belly gets as hard as a rock for about 20-30 seconds, sometimes accompanied by a shooting pain that Mary describes sometimes as “pressure” and other times as “MAN this hurts.”

The doctors, of which we’ve seen at least four recently, told us those contractions are Mary’s body’s way of preparing itself to give birth. Her uterus has to warm up before real labor like Mariano Rivera has to warm up before he cleans up the mess that A.J. Burnett left behind in the ninth inning. The only problem is that Mariano has been bailing out the Yankees for over a decade, and my wife’s uterus is just now getting started. It’s obviously new at this because the contractions are all over the place in timing and intensity, and not much is getting done. “Inefficient” is the word they’ve been using. Maybe it’s more like Burnett than Rivera after all.

If Mary's uterus had a face right now.

We have another appointment on Thursday, and Mary has sworn that if she’s not dilated yet and these contractions have been for nothing, she’s going to go Pregzilla on anything in her path. I feel her pain (figuratively, not literally) because the waiting has been brutal. We both want Susan to hurry up and get here, but we’re now at the mercy of our unborn daughter as to when she wants to make her debut. She’s not even here yet and is already treating us like her pawns.

Your move, baby.

Mary has recently started passing the time by cleaning the house and organizing Susan’s room over and over again. I woke up one morning to find her folding sheets in the upstairs linen closet…at 6 AM...on a Tuesday. I thought that was strange, but was still waking up so I didn’t inquire. Thirty minutes later when she didn’t come downstairs, I went up there to find her folding Susan’s clothes…clothes that were already folded. She had a huge smile on her face and was moving around like Speedy Gonzales on speed. The ensuing conversation went something like this:

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“Folding her clothes!” she said.

“It's 6:30 morning?” I said.

“Yeah, come look! Ok so I was thinking this would be her coming-home outfit…and this one she can wear in the hospital…and this one would be so cute at the beach…and THIS one, awwww SO cute. So I have her little onesies here in this drawer organized by color and material. And then HERE are her socks…these are like newborn socks, and she probably won’t fit into these, so I put them on this side…but THESE will be great! I don’t want her little feet to get cold. And then the hats are up here – which one do you like the best? I think this one’s my favorite. Oh and I organized her closet. Come look – her summer outfits are on the left…”

…and so on. In my first 30 minutes that morning, I drank half a cup of coffee and read three paragraphs of the sports page. My wife, who apparently launched herself out of bed at 4 a.m. like Usain Bolt out of the starting block, had already organized and re-organized the entire nursery running on nothing but pregnancy hormones.

Pregnancy: The ultimate PED.

Come to find out, there’s something called the “nesting instinct” that most pregnant women experience at various stages of pregnancy. I consulted the internet, and it had this to say:

At the end of pregnancy, the "nesting" instinct can set in. This is an uncontrollable urge to clean one's house brought on by a desire to prepare a nest for the new baby, to tie up loose ends of old projects and to organize your world. Females of the animal kingdom are all equipped with this same need. It is a primal instinct. Just as you see birds making their nests, mothers-to-be do exactly the same thing.

The cause of the nesting instinct is both physical and emotional. A woman’s hormones during pregnancy are responsible for the most of the nesting instinct, and residual survival instinct is responsible for the rest. The nesting instinct can be observed in all pregnant mammals as they prepare for birth.

Source: The Internet

After watching my wife labor up stairs for eight months and fall asleep before 9 p.m. every night, I thought nesting had bypassed her this time around. Not the case. Since the first morning of nesting a week ago, she’s spent more time in the nursery than any other room in the house. She washed every single piece of clothing that Susan has and has sterilized all of her bottles twice. I’ve helped out a bit, but she hasn’t asked me to do any of this because I think she enjoys it that much. I feel like I should be doing something, but I usually end up just standing there while she folds and irons tiny dresses.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Wife: Epic Fall (Fail)

I should have known yesterday morning when I gave myself a huge paper cut opening my new box of contacts what the day was going to be like.  Instead of going about my regular day, I should have just gotten back in bed, closed my eyes, and waited for the day to be over.  But no, I missed the signs and instead, continued about my business.

All that was missing was one of these.

Chris was not feeling well.  He woke up feeling nauseous and sick.  But we had a doctor's appointment with a doctor he hadn't met yet, so he was bound and determined to go with me.  When we got to the doctor's office, he turned completely white and made a beeline for the bathroom.  I headed back to deposit my sample.  For those of you who don't know, when you are pregnant, you begin every doctor's appointment by peeing in a cup.  Anyway, after I finished, I saw Chris.  He said he didn't get sick but really wanted to.  He looked like death. 

The nurse came and called us back.  We went to weigh and then to see the doctor.  I was still measuring about a week ahead and Susan's heartrate sounded great.  She was head down (I knew that because when she hiccups, my butt vibrates) and was doing great.  Dr. Andrews remembered seeing us on Tuesday night touring the Birth Place at Durham Regional.  He asked us if we enjoyed the tour and we told him we did.  For me, it still did not feel "real."  For Chris, I think seeing the labor and delivery rooms and the mother/baby rooms made it feel a lot more real for him.  We did enjoy the tour and it was good to see where everything was and how it would go.

After the appointment, Chris went home, where he promptly threw up and then laid down to try to recover.  My plan was to work until three and then come home to nurse him.  I would have taken the whole day to do that, but alas, my office book club was meeting that day.  So I went to work.  The morning was fairly normal without any big issues.

At 12:30, the members of OADLOER (Office of the Appellate Defender League of Extraordinary Readers) gathered to walk from our office to Mellow Mushroom.  I was wearing one of my standard maternity outfits with shoes that are cute but admittedly not really "made for walking."  The walk began fairly normal.  The pavement of this part of the American Tobacco Campus is very uneven.  Also, I cannot see my feet or where I am walking anymore.  To top it off, pregnant women are clutzy and have completely lost their sense of equillibrium at this point in pregnancy.  All of this is true for me.  I wobble a little bit now and drop things all the time.  However, none of my previous clutzy experiences prepared me for what happened next. 

I may as well have been walking on this.
As we were walking on the concrete sidewalk, I tripped.  I thought I could catch myself but because my weight is so unevenly distributed, I couldn't. So as I began my elegant, graceful swan dive toward the concrete, I instinctively turned  toward my right side to protect Susan.  It was like somehow I knew to try not to fall directly on her.  As I hit the ground, I landed on my right side.  So my shoulder and right arm took most of the fall.  Then, I sort of rolled onto my back and my left shoe came flying off.  As I said, it was very graceful.  So after I landed, I slowly sat up and my friends were trying very hard to keep me calm.  I didn't get up right away but just sort of sat there dazed on the sidewalk thinking, "I cannot believe I just fell."  Actually, there were expletives running through my head, but this is a family friendly blog.

I didn't think I landed on Susan but I wasn't sure.  So my friends sat there with me while we waited to see if I wanted to get up.  Right away my shoulder hurt and my arm was kind of tingly.  Jon, who used to be a fireman before turning attorney, came up from the restaurant to assist and assess.  My injuries were not life threatening, but we decided to walk to the restaurant and call my doctor just to be safe. 

While on the phone with the doctors, I was doing a pretty good job of staying calm.  My friends were reminding me to breathe deep and drink water and trying to reassure me that things were okay and that Susan was okay.  But I hadn't felt her move since the fall, and she is super active so that made me really nervous.  Finally, the nurse picked up and I explained what happened.  At first, she told me to eat and drink something and see what happens.  But the she said she wanted to double check with the doctor.  When she came back, she said that the doctor wanted me to go to labor and delivery at Durham Regional to get hooked up to the monitors to make sure everything was okay.  As she was saying that, I sort of began to lose it...nothing like a pregant weeping woman at Mellow Mushroom.  So I told my friends what the doctor wanted and Jon, who also used to drive the ambulance when the paramedics were occupied, went to get his car. 

I started crying and tried to call Chris.  My friends were doing their very best to reassure me that this was just routine and everything was fine.  Of course, because my poor sick husband was at home, he was sleeping and trying to recover so he didn't answer his phone after the first couple of tries.  So then he called me back but I wasn't really able to get words out.  So I gave the phone to my friend Jonathan who told Chris what happened and that Jon was taking me to the hospital and to meet us there. 

We got to the ER (where we are supposed to go if we are in labor) and they called for a transport right away.  Chris walked in a few minutes after I got there looking kind of like a ghost and very out of breath.  I thought he was going to pass out.  Apparently he had run from his car to the ER.  Once we got up to L&D, they immediately took me to a room, and gave me a gown.  After I got changed, my very friendly and kind nurse Jennifer came in to hook me up to the monitors.  She strapped on the fetal heartrate monitor and after two tries, she found Susan's heartbeat.  It was beating super strong at 140 bpm, which is what she was beating that morning at the doctor's office.  Then she hooked up the contraction monitor because I had been having some very strong Braxton Hicks contractions.  The doctor came in next to check out my arm to see how it was doing.  The heartrate was still good, but I was still having frequent contractions. They were never painful, just a lot of pressure.  The doctor then did a quick exam and determined that I wasn't going into labor.  So they decided to give me some IV fluids to hydrate me and see if we could get them under control.  All the while, Susan's little heartbeat was just beating along.  And she was moving and wiggling again like normal.  That is what made me feel a lot better, just knowing that she was okay. 

So they monitored me for about two and half hours and my contractions lessened by the time they gave me the second IV bag.  But then my right forearm really started hurting.  Since Susan was okay and the contractions were much better, they decided to send me to the ER to be checked out.  So I was wheeled down to the ER (in my hospital gown) and put in a very not-as-nice cubicle to wait on someone to come look at my arm.  We waited for about 30 minutes and then the PA came to check me out.  He determined that my arm was likely not broken, just very bruised and swollen.  He told me what to do (ice and rest) and said if it did not improve, then to come back and get x-rays.  So we were discharged around 7 and after stopping for some much deserved Cook Out (I never got to eat my BLT from Mellow Mushroom), we went home. 

This almost made the entire trip worth it. Almost.
Today, my arm feels better.  Last night, I really couldn't use it at all but today I have been able to use it.  It is still sore and I have been icing it, but its definitely better.  If it isn't better by Monday, then I am going to go see my doctor and discuss some X-rays.  And Susan is great.  I was so worried that the fall might cause less fetal movement or some kind of change from how she acted pre-fall.  Well apparently, it did not upset her at all.  She has been the same active kiddo she was before all of this.  She has been moving all day long just like normal and hiccuping too.  I took the day off so that I could rest and recover.  Since Chris was still feeling pretty crappy, he stayed home too.  So my mom came to nurse us and take care of us.

It has definitely been an exciting 24 hours.  I was telling Chris this afternoon that at least now we know exactly what to do and where to go when the real thing happens.  But I am just so relieved the real thing wasn't yesterday.  I know she would have been fine if she had come that early but I really don't want her to come until she is 37 weeks.  That is when she is full term.  So in 2.5 weeks, she can make her debut but until then, she needs to cook a little longer.  Plus, we still have a few things to finish up.  Like watching our baby care videos and putting together a few last minute items. Then we will be all ready for her big day!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Wife: An Open Letter to My Husband

Dear Chris,

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you and to share with everyone how truly amazing you are.

Thank you for making me feel sexy even though I can no longer see my feet. When I feel puffy, fat, gassy and can't get up on my own, you still look at me like you are seeing me for the first time. You have no idea how wonderful that makes me feel.

Thank you for telling me I am not lazy, even though I feel like it. When I cannot bend down to pick up my shoes, or my pajama pants in the morning, you hand them to me. You have never sighed or looked at me like I am a sorry excuse for a person.

When I huff and puff up the stairs to the nursery, you always walk behind me to make sure you can catch me should I start to fall. Thank you.

Thank you for being my source of emotional support. I am sure that you feel anxiety about how our lives are about to change, but so far you have stayed cool, calm and collected. Meanwhile, I have had a couple of anxiety attacks and middle of the night breakdowns. Both times, you have calmed me down, hugged me, and told me that we are going to be just fine. And because I am doing this with you, I believe you. You really are my best partner.

Thank you for not looking at me like I am a fatty when I order both a side of hush puppies and french fries with my Cook Out order. And for not ordering a side salad with yours!

Thank you for getting up with me when I can't sleep at night. Insomnia is terrible, but it is even worse alone. Watching the Smurfs and Snorks with you at 3 a.m. when I can't sleep means a lot.

Thank you for rubbing my back every night. All day long, my back feels awful and I cannot get any relief. And every night, you rub and massage out all the pain so that I can feel better and get comfortable.

Thank you for making me laugh. Even before the pregnancy, you were always the person who could make me laugh like no one else. And now, with everything going on, you make me laugh harder than before. All of our jokes and special moments mean so much to me.

Thank you for actually reading the Expectant Father books and the Baby Prep books. Thank you for reminding me to take my prenatal vitamins and fish oil every day. Thank you for reminding me of all the things we can do to help make labor easier. I am so glad you are going to be in the room with me--by my head at all times, eyes on me! Hopefully, knowing the two us, we might even find time to make a lighthearted moment.

When I put my number in your phone 8 years ago at Beth's deb ball, and you asked me to dance, I could never have foreseen where we would be now. Not even two years later, when we finally started dating. You are my very best friend and I have loved every moment of our life together so far. And I know we are about to start a new adventure. And together, I know we can do it!

Thank you for being so wonderful and supportive these last eight months. Only six weeks to go!

Love, Honey 2