My baby turns five tomorrow. I can hardly believe it. She's a great kid and I am so proud of her. I get compliments on her all the time. From my boss, for example. He is a really great boss (and no, I didn't write that because he reads this blog. He doesn't know about this blog, unless he walks over to my cube right about now...). He gives us wide rein to do our jobs, (no micromanaging) and is there to advocate and help us when we run into conflicting deadlines or whatever.
He doesn't have kids, so he doesn't know what it's like and how much pressure it is to be a parent: leaving work when your kid is sick, the guilt that comes from having them in daycare, etc. I have brought OC to work with me when she's been well enough to leave the house, but too contagious to go back to school. I don't bring her when she isn't feeling well, but the rules are that you can't bring your child to school until they've been on medication for 24 hours. So when she's up and feeling well and wants to play, but can't go to school, I've brought her to work. I could tell that he was not thrilled with the idea at first, but at the end of the day he came by and told me that she was the most well-behaved 4-year-old he's ever seen, and could come back anytime. That was a big deal.
Another time our workgroup went out to dinner. We normally go out to lunch once a month (something I began to organize because I am all about food-related social events) but switched it to dinner so we could have a drink. We are so smart! Anyway, I brought her to that dinner with me because I didn't have a babysitter. She was so good. Everyone said what a great girl she is. And she was! We were in the very cool restaurant, where it was dark and the appetizer was toasted pumpkin seeds. She was an absolute angel. She sat fairly still, ate the pumpkin seeds like they were going out of style, and kicked back and relaxed. She was shy at first, but then as she got more comfortable she joined in the conversation. Her contributions were mainly to do with her teddy bear and pink blankie, but it was cute and enjoyable all the same.
Her new uncles think she is great. One of her uncles is not really a kid person. He doesn't dislike little kids, but is happy enough not being around them. He enjoys the heck out of OC, and told OH what a great kid he thought she is. This is from a guy who earned 5 bachelor degrees in 5 years (all in some kind of engineering/computer/math area), and studies languages like Portuguese for fun. And he thinks my kid is smart!
It makes me so proud when people say things like that. I feel that way, but I am her mother, so of course I feel that way! She is a talkative child. Not only can she keep up her end of the conversation, but she can lead it into new areas entirely and carry you along with it. You have to see it to believe it, but she is an absolute whirlwind of conversation.
I just love my little girl and don't know where I'd be without her. She is sweet, thoughtful, caring, polite and kind. When I tell her I'm going to miss her when she goes somewhere, she tells me, "Don't worry mommy, my spirit will be with you!" She is also smart and funny. I write much of the funny things she says, but I forget some of it. If I followed that girl around with a tape recorder, I would never run out of blog entries and you would never stop laughing. I could learn a lot from her about lightening up and enjoying each moment. She really knows how to have fun. She puts her heart and whole self into everything she does.
I can't believe it's been five years since she was born. My due date was December 16th. By the 18th I was really, really ready to have my baby, already. I had taken two weeks off of work, and if I didn't have the baby by th 26th, I would have to go back to work in order to keep my family leave. Talk about pressure.
The morning of the 23rd, I went outside to chase off the neighbor cat from my cat's food dish. When I came back inside, my water broke on the bathroom floor. I hadn't had any contractions yet. I called my nurse-midwife's office and they said to walk around to get the contractions to start. I walked, and the contractions started an hour after that. I remember sitting in the wooden rocking chair, with Dakota nearby, rocking and contracting and thinking how great it is that I finally would get to meet my baby. I didn't know at that point if I was having a boy or a girl. I didn't want to know. I really wanted the moment, you know? The moment when the baby is born and they say, "It's a (girl or boy)!" I figured it would give me something to focus on during the pain of labor, like thinking something like, "Allright, is it going to be a boy or a girl? Ow! Ow! Ow!" was really going to help, but, I had never had a baby before. What did I know?
Anyway. I walked, rocked and contracted for two hours or so before I went to the hospital. Once there, the admitting nurse said brightly, "Okay! We'll just go verify you're actually in labor before we admit you!" Now, I had no idea about this step in the process. This stupid, humiliating way to treat a pregnant woman. Seriously, you're going to check and see if I'm really in labor? Um, is this right next to the room where they put women who don't know they're pregant until they sneeze and out pops a baby? Please. How often do women come to the hospital when they aren't really in labor? Is there an epidemic of pregnant women who lie or don't know they're in labor in order to get to experience a hospital room, so much so that we now must be treated like a liar, then herded into a little room and inspected? Because if I had known that, I'd have headed to the hospital long before, just to experience the fun! "No thanks," I should have said. "I'll just take a seat in the lobby until my baby crowns and then you motherfuckers will know whose really in labor." But this was before I was into that whole 'speaking up for yourself' thing.
As it turned out I really was in labor! Wow! Then another nurse says, "Okay, let's get you to a room." And takes off down the hall like a shot out of a cannon. I'm waddling behind her, going slow because I was really in labor, and she looks back at me like I'm just being lazy. I didn't like her.
I got to the room, waited a while, and in came the epidural woman. She asked me to roll my back like a ball, which is a very hard thing to do when your stomach is already a big ball. Why do they expect so much from a pregnant woman? The epidural relieved all the pain from contractions that were becoming very strong, but things slowed down. I was dilated to 5 cm, and made slow progress for the next few hours. It was 3 pm. At about 5 pm, pitocin was administered. After the pitocin, I started to get very, very uncomfortable. My aunt came to visit me before she had to drive back to Bend, and I couldn't even enjoy it. I was getting really uncomfortable, and waiting waiting waiting to dilate.
That and, the room was 82 degrees. It's for the baby, I was told. What kind of heartless woman would I be if I argued with that logic? It might've sounded as though I said, "Screw the baby, I'm hot!" I think there was room for compromise somewhere between the 82 degrees that the room was, and a humane 68 degrees that it should have been. I didn't like that nurse, either. Meanwhile, I was getting really sick from the heat. (When my mom came in later, she was like, it's way to hot in here! And the heat was turned down. Thanks, mom!)
I wanted a nurse-midwife because I wanted it to be a less clinical birth experience than what I imagined a medical doctor-assisted birth would be. That was not the case, however. I labored with nurses who were mostly nice, but were all business. There was no encouraging atmosphere, no woman-to-woman 'I know what you're going through', no rubbing of the back or massaging the perineum. The weird thing was, one nurse looked a lot like one of my friends, and every time she came into the room I would think, "Why is Misty here?" But then she would be a total bitch to me, and I would remember that Misty is not a bitch at all, and so no, that was definitely not Misty.
I should say there were plenty of nice and competent nurses attending my delivery. Overall the experience was disappointing as far as being treated like a human being, and the bad experiences stand out more than the good. And as far as the nurse-midwife, whose presence I was hoping for to create all that lovey atmosphere? Was attending other births and had no time to personally be with me until moments before OC's arrival.
I pushed for 45 minutes, which was not hard at first but soon got very, very hard. I remember the nurses working with me during this were very encouraging. I could feel the head every inch of the way. I did well until it hurt so bad that I started to cry and say, "Help me! This hurts! I can't do it!" Part of what made me lose it was that one nurse (Notmisty) was yelling out the door, "Get the (nurse-midwife) in here NOW! She's bleeding everywhere!" I thought I was going to die. I didn't know if what was happening was normal, but I suspected it was not from the tone of the yelling. No one reassured me of anything, there was only the yelling. Plus, I felt woozy but that was mainly from the tropical heat under which I labored to deliver a brand new human being.
Once the head was out, I felt relief and joy, as OC was born at 7:58 pm! She weighed 7 lbs. 15.8 oz. I remember anticipating two things: the sound of my baby's cry, and the announcement of either a boy or a girl. She didn't cry right away, and was all purple. It was scary because no one was saying anything, and there were two people kind of suctioning out her mouth, and then she cried. Hooray! The announcement of a boy or a girl, had not happened yet. I waited for somebody to tell me, and when no one said anything I finally asked, "What is it?!?" And then they said, "Oh! It's a girl!"
I got to hold her briefly after she was born, and looked at her beautiful face. Then I spent the next hour being stitched up by two (TWO!!) people. I had 4th degree lacerations, and hadn't had an episiotomy. My mom came in the room, said it was way too hot, and turned down the heat. Then Notmisty said it was time I got up to go to the bathroom. I managed to get out of bed, arrange the IV so it would follow along, and then fainted on the floor. When I recovered consciousness, I thought the floor felt so nice and cool that I lay there awhile, much to nurse Notmisty's irritation.
At this point, I think she found me a very uncooperative patient, what with the complaining about the heat, the excessive bleeding, and now this pesky fainting business. She left me and said she'd come back to help me up when I was ready. My mom was there and I was so glad for that. Recovery time for such an experience? Six months. I did not feel normal again "down there" for SIX MONTHS.
I was in love with my baby all through my pregnancy. When she was born I loved her even more. She was the most beautiful baby in the whole, wide world, and is now the most beautiful and sweet five-year old on the planet. And I get to be her mother! Lucky me.