Bionic Mamas

you're not losing a vagina, you're gaining a son

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Birth Story, Part One

This is hard to write. I still feel strange about parts of this story, and I can’t seem to get it to coalesce into better writing. But I told myself I would get it done before the arrival of several specific babies, two of whom are now past their due dates. So here goes. The first of …4, maybe? [Ed. — who am I kidding? Maybe 8.] parts, which I’m going to post as soon as I have them written, since sitting around thinking about how to do it better isn’t getting me anywhere.

Right after the Bean was born, people started asking whether it had been a long labor. I always said emphatically not, that it had been the shortest first-baby labor imaginable, barely a blink of an obstetrical eye. …Which is only true if you take in account that I was in deep, deep denial about what was happening until nearly the end. So while I want to include the week before, which now seems part of it, keep in mind that any sense of inevitability is strictly revisionist.

Since this is so long overdue, let’s start with a little context, shall we? Y’all might have forgotten what brands of crazy I was.

Monday, 2/21: Week 37 begins. Sugar and I meet the pediatrician our friend has recommended, who holds information sessions for expectant parents on Monday nights. Sugar thinks she’ll be late because she’s coming from work; instead, she is on time and I am 20 minutes late because I’m too tired to walk there and the subway is all messed up. I use both hands to haul myself up the railings of the subway staircases.

Tuesday: Hahaha, Tuesday. That was a fun one. Crampy. Exhausted. I get told my insurance has been canceled. This is all my disastrously fragile mental state needs. (I’d forgotten how bad it was until I reread this post. Yikes.)

Wednesday: First cervix check. One cm dilated, 50% effaced. Or one of them is; Dr. Skinny claims only one is active, which she somehow knows without checking. I don’t argue, because ouch. Spotting afterwards and feelings of general emotional turmoil, such as always seem to accompany any cervix-poking. I trot out my fancy math skillz and figure I’ll be pregnant for another six and a half years.

I spent another hundred years on hold, trying to figure out what the hell is going on with my insurance, while I wander Target, looking for that dark-colored nightgown and robe they say you’re supposed to have for the hospital. I can’t find anything, which I figure doesn’t matter since I have another six and a half years to deal with it, and I can’t bear the thought of taking off any clothes to try on nursing tank tops, so that will have to wait. I buy a pack of newborn onesies, since I’ve just found out that “newborn” isn’t the same as “0-3 months.”

I go to my last pre-term acupuncture appointment and plan to start the “preparing for labor” series in a few days. Oh, but supposedly my insurance is fine, no need to panic. (Aside: basically this same thing just happened to us again, only with Sugar’s insurance. And after the panic attacks and the insomnia and the endless waiting on hold, it turns out everything is okay, but I WANT EMOTIONAL REPARATIONS, DAMMIT. Or at least someone to really, thoroughly yell at.)

I am finally driven to drink.

Thursday: I visit Schroe and meet the illustrious Speedster, Speedy, and the whole marvelous menagerie. We eat cookies and drink tea while Speedy gives the dogs acupuncture treatments and exclaims over her new love of cooking dry beans. Speedy wins my heart by stating with absolute assurance that my didelphic tendencies aren’t going to be a problem in labor.

I spend 95% of the visit gawping at Schroe and internally (?) panicking. Look at the way she handles the Speedster! She knows what to do! She knows what he wants! She can nurse him and change diapers and everything. I have no idea whatsoever what to do with a baby, I realize. This is going to be a disaster. Also: they have a real washer and dryer! We just have a little washer that hooks to the sink, no dryer at all. We are so unprepared.

I spend the bus and subway ride home looking at the adorable newborn sized clothes Schroe has given us. At least the baby (Aaaahhh!! Baby! Aaaaahhhhh!!!!!) won’t have to be naked. There’s that.

I get home and the washing machine breaks.

Friday: We are having dinner guests! I drag myself to the hippie coop grocery — via subway and bus; the last time I tried to walk there and back, I couldn’t walk at all the next day — and undertake the first of what I plan to be two or three major stocking up trips. Two cases of cat food, that kind of thing. [Hindsight sez: Nesting. Check.] I assure my supervisor that I’ll be in for my next shift unless, haha, I go into labor. I look so pathetic when the cab arrives that the driver puts my bags in the trunk for me despite what I belatedly realize is a major hand wound. Blood is coming through the torn strips of cloth wrapped around his palm. Seriously: it’s like we’re in a movie about the Crimean War, shot in Park Slope. I tip well, at least. (I think. Car service tipping is confusing!)

On the way down the ramp of my building, my granny cart breaks.

In lieu of cleaning the house even a little bit, I collapse on the bed. Later, I stumble my way through a passable lamb tagine, and Sugar saves me from burning the couscous beyond recognition. I have to sit down a few times because of extreme, stabbing cervix pain, but that’s been happening for at least a month. We show off our fancy stroller — the guests are the expectant parents of one of those aforementioned slightly overdue babies — and realize we don’t really know how it works. Suave. We show off the “nursery” and assure them there is a mattress in the crib, somewhere under all that junk. Good thing we have like 3 more weeks to clean up in there….


Early Notes

Hi folks. Thank you for all the well-wishing. It is very appreciated. We are, predictably, tired, overwhelmed, and very, very happy.

You shall have a real post one of these days, but for now, a few notes and some pictures:

Note: Epidurals are really, really wonderful things. I have altered my original position towards those who would discourage their use (not those who would not choose them, which is entirely different) from anger to cold, murderous rage. More on this later.

Note: Anemia is a really sucky thing. My deep sympathies to those of you who run in this direction. I’ve never been like this before, and sweet mother of pearl, I hope it’s over soon.

Note: There must be some non-dippy lactation consultants out there, but they don’t seem to work for Kips Bay Mega Hospital. Breastfeeding is going pretty well now, no particular thanks to the class we attended, at which we learned a lot of vague and racist stuff about women’s huts in “traditional societies” like “China…and, um, India.” Quoth Sugar: I’ve been to China. They live in high-rises. We also learned the terribly pertinent information that, “if you swaddled newborn puppies, they would DIE.” The more you know.

Note: All those ridiculous things people say about their babies? About how their particular pooping raisin is the most beautiful, most perfect, smells heavenly, and so clever already? Yeah, it turns out that’s all true — only it’s true of our son, not theirs. (We will not discuss how I may have found myself transfixed by emerging meconium.)

Note: Sugar has had occasion already to learn that diapering goes a lot better if you remember, after undressing and un-velcroing and cleaning and ointmenting but before re-dressing, to put an actual diaper on the baby.

Sugar and the squeaker are snoozing next to me, and it’s about time to hit the hay myself. So. Pictures. Soon we will make the inevitable move to wordpress and put up some with us in them, because there are some of Sugar that you simply must see. (Pro-tip: you can also see some if you click over to flickr — thanks to those of you who’ve warned us about this breech, but we’ve decided that we aren’t worried if y’all find out our true identities; the pseudonyms and so forth are to keep bosses, etc., from finding this place with a quick google.) We’ll get you his name in some non-googleable way, too. xo

Working On His Dance Cycle
Rehearsing his dance cycle.

Pope in Oven Mitts
We call this look Pope in Oven Mitts

Thank heavens for internet people! The Bean’s first bed, courtesy of Shelli. Wardrobe by Schroe (all pictures — yeah, we were totally prepared, why?).

Nanny Michaela
Michaela is taking her nannying very seriously.

The Creature Regarded Him Balefully
Orson is less convinced.


Notes from Week 36

Item: Thank you for the nice comments on Sugar’s painting. The likeness is a tad off, but the boobs are exactly accurate. Um, Sugar? My face is up here.

Item: We had our last growth scan on Monday, and all is well. As Sweet Sonographer covered my midriff (sounds too cute…mid-raft?) with icy glop, I said lightly that she ought to make them buy her a fancy glop-warmer, like they have over at the high-risk place down the block. “Oh, I do have one. It’s over on the counter.”

I still love Sweet Sonographer, and it was cute that she tried so hard to find something adorable for us to see at this scan (we settled for hiccups, since the Bean’s face/dragon snout was obscured by its low position in my pelvis), but I must admit that her halo is a bit tarnished by this revelation.

Item: According to the u/s, which I understand has a remarkably enormous margin of error, the Bean weighs in at a respectable 5lbs. 7oz. at 36 weeks, which means it’s been listening to my chanting “over 6, under 9” at it. Good Bean.

Item: It has recently come to my attention that “0-3 month” size clothes (of which we have a respectable number) are not the same as “newborn” size clothes (of which we have none). What the hell is 0 months if not newborn? Do we need newborn clothes? How in the hell is a person supposed to figure these things out, anyway? And what hope have I of managing the actual work of raising not killing a baby if my limited brain power is being wasted on stupid clothing sizes?

Item: Thanks to Schroedinger, there are at least some diapers in the house. Lord knows if they’re the right size, but diapers I know where to buy.

Item: Group B Strep test was also Monday. The GBS test involves a vaginal and anal “swab,” which caused me much worry on Sunday, as Sugar had celebrated Valentine’s Day early by giving me the GI bug she’d had on Saturday. (Sub-Item 1: despite what you may have assumed, bouts of diarrhea are emphatically not improved by having someone kick at your intestines throughout. Sub-Item 2: Nor by things-we-are-not-calling-hemorrhoids.) I needn’t have worried. I scarcely noticed the butt part, so distracting was the vaginal aspect. “Swab” might be better described as “vigorous scrubbing with what appears to be an old mascara brush.” “Just wait until the cervix checks,” said Dr. Russian, with an evil grin.

Item: Dr. Russian loves shoes. On Monday, she was wearing black patent leather platform stilettos with wide ankle straps. They did complement the mood, I must say.

Item: I will not be in pretty shoes any time soon, as it’s all I can do to waddle around in clogs. Speak to me not of stairs, either. I am even taking what elevators (not enough!) exist in subway stations, despite the aromas inherent in that process. Today, an old lady cut me in line for one, forcing me to wait for the next round. It was a blatant cut, too, no simple misunderstanding. Those hooligans think they can do whatever they please, all tricked out and speedy with their canes.


Photo Friday + Come and Eat Update

Since Calliope’s fantabulous Photo Friday theme this week is food, I’m going to cheat and just re-run my the pictures from our inaugural Come and Eat post….

Yes, this is in fact a shameless plug invitation for you to use your Photo Friday submissions for Come and Eat, too.

C’mon, y’all. All the cool kids (Schroe, starhillgirl) are doin’ it.


summer is coming

filled in with peaches



Come And Eat

My mother’s favorite verse in the Bible is John 21:12. It’s after the resurrection, and the disciples are fishing. A man on the shore calls out to them, hears that they are not catching much, and gives them some advice — Try putting the nets on the other side of the boat. The nets fill up, the disciples realize the man is Jesus, and they begin to shout and carry on. Peter jumps into the water to swim to him. And Jesus says to them, “Come and eat breakfast.”

Don’t worry, my non-Bible-thumping ones. I’m not going to start sermonizing regularly. (For one thing, Sugar would have a fit. For another, I’m an Episcopalian, and we know our limits. Ours is not to preach but to polish old wood pews, to wring our hands over “tradition”, and to try not to spill our martinis on the needlepoint pillows….) Take comfort: the Bible-thumpers are clucking their tongues over my lowercase “him” above — I like Jesus better as a son of man than as a son of God, sometimes. I am an equal-opportunity offender.

Come to it, that verse might be my favorite, too. It gets to the heart of my beliefs about human connection: that the best way to show (and to build) our love for each other is to break bread. This idea is hardly unique to Christianity, I realize, nor to religion.

So, please: come and eat with me.

I’d like to invite you to last Sunday’s dinner. It was a quiet affair, at home in our cluttered apartment. I’d rather cook and drink wine and talk to you than wipe down the backsplash; I hope you don’t mind. I started cooking a little later than I meant to, so we’ll all have to sit around and talk while the food finishes. Sugar made a pie, whose crust she almost wouldn’t let me take pictures of, because the weather is damp and the dough was testy and she was afraid you’d disapprove. But I know you’ll see that pie as more perfect because of the fingerprints left from her mending the dough. (And I assure you, it tastes just fine.) The pie is made of rhubarb — which always makes me think of Sugar’s grandmother, who grows stalks taller than she is — and strawberries for the coming of summer and peaches from the freezer, a last-minute improvisation when the strawberries and rhubarb didn’t fill the shell.


summer is coming

filled in with peaches

You’ll meet my most long-standing friend, who sat on my mother’s pregnant belly as a baby and started crying when I kicked her. She’s still threatening to get me back for that, but I say it was fairly dealt: she SAT on me, after all. Our mothers were close during their pregnancies and her mother watched us both as babies, so we are built of some of the same food. (These days, I take some comfort in the knowledge that none of that would have happened if my mother had been able to get pregnant when she’d first wanted to. No Bug in my life? Impossible.) I can’t believe that after being separated as young children, we’ve ended up living three blocks from each other, hundreds of miles from our various early homes. Womb Buddy’s talking about moving away, and we’re trying to talk her out of it but mostly trying to feed her well while she’s here, make sure the bonds of shared food stay strong.

Israeli couscous with broccoli rabe — I don’t know how this is supposed to be cooked, but this is how I cook it.

And now, if you’d like, it’s your turn. I’ve read some beautiful posts about food and eating together on your blogs recently (to say nothing of my ongoing delight in starhillgirl’s requests to log my lunch) which inspired this attempted meme. Add your name and blog to the Mr. Linky list, and write a post about a meal this week. The ways food bonds us are multifarious, so your post can be pictures of a meal you made, a favorite or new recipe, a shared croissant with an old friend at a coffee shop. It can be wordy or just a picture.

I’ll write one of these every week and invite you to do the same, like an edible version of Mel’s (late, lamented) Show and Tell. Visit each other’s posts, please, and write comments to let folks know you’ve come to the table. If you’re writing about kids or babies — and I hope you will, because I believe feeding children is about much, much more than just making sure they don’t starve to death — put a * after your name, in case ALI (adoption/loss/infertility) folks aren’t in a good place for that. (Tip o’ the cursor to Calliope’s excellent suggestion at her Photo Friday project.)

(This is my first time using Mr. Linky, so maybe leave a comment, too, in case I didn’t do it right.)