Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Things We Do For Love

Five months, two days out. And some days, the Cesarean section is still firmly on my mind.

I think there are a few different types of people out there. To some, having a C-section is sort of like getting a cavity filled. No huge deal, it's done every day, blah blah blah. To others, of course a vaginal birth is ideal, but good old technology is always there to lend a helpful hand, so get over it. As always, there remains that ever-present refrain:

"At least you have a healthy baby."
Of course I do. I grew her myself. I prepped my body for one whole year pre-conception. I ate organic produce and milk, took prenatals, ran and did Pilate's. I read, did research, and listened to my instincts. During pregnancy, I ate organically, took prenatals, did Pre-natal Yoga, did research, and listened to my body. The big difference is- we did not choose a hospital birth. Not for us, and sure as hell not for our baby. Not at first. A huge difference in our eventual C-section was that it wasn't programmed out by doctors, our labor wasn't on the clock, and together, in the dark bathroom of the green room at the birth center, Mr. Clarateaches and I both made the gut-wrenching decision to choose something we absolutely did not want, in order to make sure that tiny, wrinkly little girl was okay.
One persistently asynclintic head later, one ambulance ride later, one hoarse command-fest to the entire OR staff later... my abdominal skin, muscles, peritoneal cavity, and uterus were sliced open and my little girl was pulled out of me. My incredible surgeon, God forever bless her, took a lot of time stitching everything separately so that a VBAC is a huge probability in the future. I think she realized, as I was shouting (in my laryngitis voice) at the surgeons, anesthesiologist, nurses and techs all of my "Do Not Consents," that even though I was a first time mom, I had clearly done some research. She saw my heartache, and she was what she is supposed to be- a doctor. Not a medical business practitioner, she was a true, good old fashioned service provider. She did no harm.
Laying on the OR table, with my arms stretched out to my sides (and blissfully, not tied down), in my darkest moments, I tried to imagine what Mr. Clarateaches was going to do by himself with a baby. Surely I was dying- this had to be the way dying feels. It feels like your world is upside down and everything you worked so hard for was shaken and blended and poured onto the ground and stomped on. As the doctors worked, I mentally wrote my will.
Then, she was there.
With my nose. And my forehead. And my cleft chin. What an odd thing for a girl to have. There was the bump on the side of her head where she originally crowned, so many hours ago, when I left the birth center. Death vanished. I had a job to do. Even though I had made this choice for her, I still remained firm and unmoving about everything else we had decided: no over the top meds for me, we were breastfeeding and she was not leaving our room without one of us, and no one was injecting her with a single, solitary substance. Each and every shift of nurses made sure to mention to me that they don't give out medals to C-section recovering moms who only take Tylenol 3 and breastfeed their baby over the layers of incisions. They had obviously never failed their child on her first birth-day before.
The next several weeks were not pretty. Baby Blues is a song about eye color, not the name of what I went through- not even close. They need to rename it- maybe call it Dark Time. Nothing Time.
Five months out, though, I can safely say I'm fine. I'm good. In fact, some days I feel great. The new me actually believes in her body again. Most importantly, I look at the way Mr. Clarateaches and I are forming our family, and feel blessed. I'll always mourn my C-section. That has nothing to do with my little Gianna, though. The best part is that the C-section gets further and further behind me every day, while my girl grows and thrives.

Monday, December 17, 2007

These Dreams Go on When I Close My Eyes

4:06 Am. Darkness. And then, from somewhere to my left...

"Tsssst. Thhhhhht. Tsssth." Rustle, rustle. "Ah Da? Ah dadadadat." Then, in Batman fashion, KABAM! White fireworks as a little fist punches the air, seeking an audience, and landing precisely on my eyeball.

Sigh. All it took was one early morning of thunder, lightening, snow plows, and snow to totally convince the Little Nipper that we all wake up at 4 now. There was little more to do than lay quietly, and hope she'd soon go to sleep. I was also able to ruminate on the fun of sleeplessness. I don't know how mothers who work outside of the home do it, other than they must trade off with their spouse and probably not breastfeed all night. (Ha- you thought I'd get through a post without breasts. In a Chris Griffin voice I say to you, "Boobies!") For those single, working, nursing moms, I totally bow down and kiss your feet.

This isn't college anymore- sleepless nights don't mean I get to down a Red Bull the next day and wander about, all wide-awake and with a cute belly showing anymore. Or, that one memorable Biology exam that I stayed awake all night studying for, drinking an entire six-pack of one liter Mountain Dews, to have the professor come up to me mid-exam very concerned that I hadn't blinked in the previous 45 minutes. Sigh. Nope, these are the days where I have to plan my caffeine carefully, as it zips like lightening to the child, who is more than willing to then spend the day all wide-awake, and with a cute belly showing.

Sleepless, but the day must go on. Go on, it does, and usually consists of more than one occasion of staring at the calendar, wondering which day it is. Or, standing in the kitchen for ten minutes, searching high and low for the lid to a raisin canister, to find it in the other hand when I reach the point of despair and try to fashion a new one from plastic wrap. Very often, the day ends with the baby finally going to sleep as I sit in my dark bedroom, Mr. Clarateaches sleeping blissfully unaware that the most hilarious local news at 11 is happening on the muted, closed-captioned TV. Hilarious laughter is very hard to do without waking up a baby.

Fortune smiled on me- by 5:20, my little babbling bambina fell back to sleep and I was able to catch 25 more minutes of sleep before Mr. Clarateaches' alarm clock went off. Time for a new day... where the heck am I?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Chomp, Chomp

Let's go backwards in time to the four month well baby visit on Nov 16th:

Me: "I think she's teething. She drools, chews on her hands, and is irritable sometimes."

Physician's Assistant: "Nah... She's too young."

Fast forward to the week after Thanksgiving. What's that, there on the bottom gums? A tooth? No.

Two teeth! There on the lower jaw are two of the sharpest things on the planet. What's better is that she's decided that Christmastime seems like the perfect time to start anew with some more teeth.

We all have our methods for dealing. I like the Hyland's route- it's easy and natural and Gianna likes it a lot better than the teething gel, which burns like a mo-fo (I tried it on my own gums- yeeeowch!) When the times get tough, good old Infant Tylenol does the trick, albeit in a less crunchy (but much more direct) way.

Mr. Clarateaches likes the Jim Beam method. He fills up his shot glass, generously douses the sprout (who LOVES whiskey and happily licks it off her gums- good grief, who knew?) and then shoots the rest down and heads happily to sleep, while I spend the night feeding a slightly buzzed baby.

Gianna has decided that she needs to chew fabric, and will also only suck her thumb after carefully maneuvering her sleeve or a blanket over it. It's like a moth attack, but whatever works.

Alas, this also means she can do some serious damage to me now. She bit me in her sleep a few days ago, and I almost passed out trying not to scream (I didn't want to wake her up, and I'm so sleep deprived, a wildebeest could have torn off a limb and I wouldn't have woken her up). Last night though, she was crabby and potentially sprouting a new tooth (or God help me, new teeth) and she bit me HARD. I screamed like I'd been shot, and the look of anguish on her face broke my heart. We both cried, and then when we pulled ourselves together, we went ahead and put an earring into the little hole she made.

She clearly has no idea that Mommy has feelings of her very own, and won't know this for a while, so I feel bad. We're going with the "stop nursing when it happens, and eventually she'll equate biting=stop nursing immediately" and that'll be the end of it. I've heard some random goofballery about poking or thumping or flicking babies when they bite, but it sounds like a quest for more ways to need to comfort a hurting baby. Or ignore a hurting baby, which is more sad.