Monday, November 10, 2014

Nipple Shields, Mama Juice, and Baby Food

So, it's almost been two months since I blogged in what was supposed to be some kind of catch-up-on-Eli's-life-before-I-forget-everything series.  I constantly have this blog in the back of my mind, and keep thinking that when I'm not busy keeping my kid alive I'll try and crank out some posts.  But then I remember I need to work out.  Or clean my house.  Or go grocery shopping.  Or finish some real estate classes.  Or take a nap.  Or have grown up time with my man.  Or sit on my arse and watch Netflix.  And by the time I get even the slightest hint of motivation to write a post, Eli wakes up.  And, you know.  

So, before my child's emerging teeth make him wake up screaming like a possessed velociraptor, here's a little catch up on how my baby has eaten for the last 7 months.  Just when you thought it couldn't get any more exciting than sleeping and pooping.  Wee! 

Before I had Eli, I had my heart set on breastfeeding my babies.  Between the countless health benefits, the increased mother/child bonding time, and the fact that it was free baby food - I was convinced it's what I wanted to do.  (And before anyone gets all bent out of shape and worried that I'm about to go on some "Breast is Best" tirade - I totally understand that not every woman wants to or even can breastfeed, and that's okay.  There's no judgements coming from this humble slice of the internet.  Promise.)  Anyway, as eager as I was to nurse Eli - I still found myself a tiny bit apprehensive.  I wanted so much to believe breastfeeding would be this magical experience where rainbows and happiness shot out my life-sustaining milk makers, while unicorns and puppies pranced through fields of glitter in the distance.  Unfortunately nothing shoots that illusion to hell quite like horrifying stories of infected/engorged boobs and raw, chaffed, bleeding nipples.  I remember someone jokingly suggesting that I just needed to rub some sandpaper on my nipples to toughen 'em up beforehand.

After hearing so many stories about how difficult and painful breastfeeding could be, I was sure that I wouldn't be able to do it.  Not only because the sliver of pain tolerance I do have is microscopic - but because after having to pay someone 15 thousand dollars to get me pregnant, I still didn't totally trust that my body would even cooperate.  

So, Eli is born, and after him and I are both cleaned up, the nurses shoved his face onto my chest to see if this whole breastfeeding thing was going to happen.  And, I'm not going to lie, having a tiny human sucking on my boob was the most bizarre feeling ever.  It was bizarre in a wonderful way, of course - but still incredibly weird.  It was pretty clear that neither Eli or I really knew what the hell we were doing - but luckily it looked like we were going to be able to make it work.

That first night, a lactation consultant came in several times and showed me different ways to hold Eli as I fed him, and how I needed to more or less smash his face onto my boob until he opened his mouth.  Which seemed, well, forceful.  HERE.  THIS IS FOR YOU.  EAT.  *SMASH*  But hey, it worked.  Shawn and I were both pretty amazed at how quickly little dude caught on.  Once he really figured out how to get a good latch and suck, I finally experienced that pain people had warned me about.  It's definitely not pleasant.  It's amazing how something so cute and tiny can feel like it's sucking the everloving life-force out of you.  However, to my surprise, the pain didn't last as long as I expected.  It was maybe for several seconds when he'd initially latch and go to town, but then it'd fade away into the distance.  You know, with the unicorns and puppies.

I was and am pretty elated that breastfeeding wasn't nearly as traumatic as I had been sure it was going to be.  In fact, I really couldn't have asked for a better experience as a beginner.  Sometimes I feel pretty guilty admitting that, because I know so many women who did have a hard time.  Sure, my nipples were pretty tender - but I kept them smothered with lanolin in the beginning, and that seemed to help.  But my real Hail Mary was when we were at Primary Children's Hospital on day 4 for Eli's jaundice, and the lactation consultant gave me a nipple shield.  I had heard of nipple shields before, but never realized how simple they were.  It was just a small, magical piece of silicone that made nursing immensely more enjoyable.  Eli had latched fine before the shield, but after, it was effortless.  My nipples weren't getting chapped.  I wasn't bleeding.  And it was totally painless.  Nipple shields, FOR THE WIN. 

When my milk finally came in, Eli would usually nurse for about 10 minutes on each side - which always seemed super fast to me.  Sometimes all I could get out of him was 5 minutes on each side, and I was so paranoid that he wasn't getting enough.  I'd scour the online forums and read about women who nursed their babies for like, an hour - but then there were some that did it really fast like Eli.  I quickly learned that there really was no "normal".  As long as he was gaining weight and peeing, we were good.  And I think we all know that he gained weight just fine.  

In fact, Eli was so good and efficient at eating, that he'd give himself some pretty gnarly gas from eating so quickly.  And by that, I mean it was really my boob's fault.  As worried as I had been that my body wouldn't cooperate enough to breastfeed - I couldn't have ever predicted that it'd be a little too productive.  I eventually self-diagnosed myself with an overactive letdown - which was one of the many reasons Google said babies could have issues with gas.  Eli would start gulping pretty quickly after latching - which meant my milk was coming in super fast and he was swallowing a lot of air with it.  That made for some fun nights of struggling trying to get that air out of the poor kid's body.

Another fun side effect of overly productive milk makers, along with constantly spraying my kid in the face, was engorgement.  Eli would decide to sleep an extra hour or two, and I'd suddenly transform into a porn star over night.  Then when he'd try to eat, he couldn't, because my knockers were so damn big.  I know there's several methods to relieve engorgement - but because I wasn't nearly patient enough to take a hot shower or just lay there with cabbage leaves on my boobs (weird), I'd usually end up just pumping if Eli couldn't even the ladies out.  I realize pumping is pretty much totally counter-productive, as it will stimulate more milk production.  But as far as quick relief was concerned, it worked like a gem.

Fortunately, I never had to worry much about pumping a huge supply to go back to work, because I work at home, and luckily I'm in a position where I can nurse Eli while I work and it works out just fine.  However, it was nice to have some pumped milk when we'd go out, so I didn't have to try and discreetly maneuver a baby onto my boob without flashing 50 people.  And I still wanted Shawn to be able to feed Eli every now and then, because it's totally good parent-child bonding time.  The only problem I had was not knowing how much to feed Eli when it was from a bottle.  The first several times we tried to give him a bottle, he'd eat just fine - until about 5 minutes afterward when he'd throw what seemed like all of it back up.

As the months passed, I started pumping less and less - because not only was it just easier to throw him on my boob and not have to deal with him throwing up a ton, but the upkeep to clean and sanitize all those freaking little pump parts was a colossal pain in the ass.  Unfortunately, because we weren't more consistent with a bottle - I'm pretty sure Eli forgot how to use one.  Either that, or he was just playing dumb, because he preferred the real thing.  We tried several different types of bottles, and he just hated them all.  Not only could he not figure out a bottle - but even to this day, he can't figure out how to keep a binky in his mouth.  As a result, I've become pretty much his own, personal human pacifier.  And I won't lie, it can be pretty exhausting.  Knowing that I can't ever be away from him for much longer than 2-3 hours has definitely changed the way we do things.  There have been several times where I've wished he could just suck on Shawn's manboob so I could take a break.  However, even as exhausting as it can be, it's about 8,000 times more rewarding.  I feel so lucky and blessed to be able to provide that kind of comfort and nourishment for my own little person.  I love knowing that when no one else can calm him down, I can.  Because I'm his mom.  And I have the magical mama juice.

Eli is 7 months now, and I'm still nursing him every 2-3 hours.  Instead of doing one side, changing his diaper, then doing the other side - we're down to just feeding him on side each time - and he's usually finished in about 4 or 5 minutes.  He's got it down pat, and I am not complaining.  Nursing him at 7 months is definitely different than nursing him when he was younger.  He's the most distracted eater ever.  He'll be going to town, and if Shawn comes in the room and starts talking, he'll yank off my boob to look at him.  And heaven forbid he sees the cat walking by.  He swats at everything while he eats - which makes trying to cover myself in public super fun.  I'm still not totally pro at stealthily nursing him without giving everyone around a show.  When he was about 4 months old, I nursed him in a restaurant for the first time and was sure I was going to flash the everyone there. If I did, no one said anything - and I think I'm okay with that.  I even breastfed in a movie theater once, to make sure Eli stayed quiet.  (That didn't last long.)  And I know there's people who say, "Who cares if people see you breastfeeding?  It's natural!"  Which is great and everything - and if that's how you roll, I don't judge you.  I'm less concerned what other people think, and really more concerned with not wanting everyone and their dog to be staring at my boob.

Then you have the mother's room at church.  Which, the concept is nice.  But in reality?  I hate nursing in there.  It might be more enjoyable if the changing table wasn't right there.  But even if no one is in there changing a diaper - the room constantly smells like a shitty diaper and it is so. nasty.  And not only that, but I can't even handle the awkwardness of nursing in there at the same time as someone else.  It's like being in an elevator.  I just prefer to do it alone.  I know that's not the case for everyone, but... no me gusta.


And I think the least fun part of nursing now is doing it now that Eli has mother fluffing teeth.  I have vivid memories of my mom sternly telling my siblings "Don't you bite me!" when she nursed them - and I remember being pretty horrified and equally confused as to why anyone would let a baby with teeth near their boob.  Weren't they just kind of asking to be bitten?  I had to laugh to myself when I found myself saying the same thing to Eli.  Before he had teeth, his favorite game was to clamp down as hard as he could on my nipples, then pull away to see just how far it would stretch before it snapped back.  That didn't feel good.  So now that he has sharp little demon teeth - when he's done actually eating and gets bored, he'll try to do the same thing and doesn't get very far before I scream OUCH and scare the poor kid half to death.

When Eli turned 6 months, we finally let him try some "solids".  He was had become extremely interested in all the food we were eating.  He'd just stare at us while we ate - so we figured it was time.  I was pretty happy to have been able to exclusively breastfeed him for those first 6 months, but was excited to start him on some other foods.  

We started off with sweet potatoes, which I hate.  So I was interested to see if he'd take after me, the picky eater - or Shawn, the dude who will eat pretty much anything.  Most of you probably saw the video I posted to Instagram of his first sweet potato experience - and I'm not sure he knew what exactly to think about it - but he kept opening his mouth, so I figure it couldn't have been too bad.  You can watch the longer version of the video here, because really, it's too hilarious not to.  

Since then, he'll eat pretty much anything we put in his mouth - just like his dad.  Dude loves his food - just like his mom.  We pretty much skipped the whole rice cereal/oatmeal thing, mostly because I couldn't be bothered to pump milk to mix it with.  And I know you can mix it with water - but, meh.  I Googled enough to figure that it wasn't a huge deal to skip it.  Now we'll feed him fruits in the morning and veggies at night - and he's definitely a fan.  He'll sit and smack the tray of his high chair until we give him another bite.

Occasionally we'll experiment with tiny bits of random food.  Foods that I'm sure that some parents might totally judge us for.  But, meh.  Last night I let him lick a Sour Patch Kid - and it didn't even phase him.  Then I gave him a tiny bit of ice cream - and he gave us the most sour face ever.  He does the same thing when we forget to nuke his baby food for a few seconds in the microwave - not quite used to the cold stuff yet.  On Halloween, grandma gave him a lick of her Tootsie Pop - and needless to say he was a fan.  

We're pretty lucky that Eli has been such a great eater.  There's nothing we've fed him that he doesn't like.  Heck, he even ate the "Turkey & Turkey broth" baby food that Shawn fed him.  (It smelled like cat food and made me want to throw up, in case you were wondering.)  The thought of him weaning is a tiny bit relieving, but mostly sad.  I really enjoy the snuggle time I get with him - and I know when I'm done nursing him, I'll totally miss it.  My goal has always been to make it to a year - so, we'll see how things go. 

In conclusion, here's some space to relieve all the excitement that was this post:

Until next time, yo.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Magical World of Baby Poop

Between having a serious case of firebutt for the last few days and just changing an epic Eli poop-splosion - I figured it was the universe's way of telling me it was time to post the next segment in the "blog six months worth of baby-related everything before I forget it all" series.  (You know, because I couldn't possibly have better things to do.  Like maybe changing the shirt I've been wearing for three days straight.)  Anyways.  Next topic?  Poop.  Pee.  Diapers.  Because what kind of parent would I be if I didn't post things that will horrify my son as a teenager.  (You're welcome for that, by the way, Eli.)   And, you know, heaven forbid I forget about his pooping habits.

So, of course we start at the beginning, when Eli was born.  While we were staying at the hospital, I never changed Eli's diaper once.  Not to say I wasn't willing - Shawn was just smart enough to know that not only was I busy peeing all over mydamnself and changing my own stupid diaper - but I had just pushed a small human out my crotch and was kind of exhausted - and even though he was pretty exhausted himself, he stepped up to the plate, like usual.  Up until that point, he had changed a grand total of ZERO diapers in his life.  Zero.  That changed very quickly.  So, between him and the nurses, I pretty much avoided all that mess for the first few days.

So, we finally get home, and Shawn had to go work for a little bit - and I'm left alone with a tiny pooping machine that I still hadn't actually changed yet.  Now, another one of the (several) things people take it upon themselves to warn you about prior to having your first child is the meconium - which is pretty much a fancypants word for nastyass, black tar, poop your kid will have for the first several days of his or her life.  Just when you think poop can't get any grosser, it does.  So, here I am, ready to change my son's diaper for the very first time, and admittedly, I was a little nervous.  Up to that point, I had changed no less than 8 million girl diapers - but I had never actually maneuvered my way around the tiny twig and doodleberries.  So, I take off his diaper, and of course the first thing he does is pee right in his own face.  He continues to pee for what feels like forever while all my simultaneous efforts to cover his peter mid-stream prove absolutely futile.  By that point, he was laying in an almost-impressive puddle of baby tinkle.  I then made the colossal mistake of picking up my butt naked child while I tried to dry him and the surrounding pee-zone off.  That is, until I heard a fart and a subsequent squirt that no one wants to hear when they're holding a naked infant.  I pulled him away from me to see that I had sticky, black tar poop all down the front of my shirt.  I finally just laid a giant towel down and put him down on it while I hauled serious tail to get him wiped off and covered.  Of course, that wasn't before he had a chance to pee on me.  Again.  After finally getting a diaper on him - I spent the next 10 minutes trying to wipe his poop off my shirt.  That shit's like glitter.  It's pretty much on you forever.  Proven by the fact that you can still see the outline of where he pooped on the shirt I was wearing.  So, you could say I was well-initiated into the boy diaper-changing scene.  Thanks for that, son.

The next several weeks were a constant battle of not getting peed or pooped on.  And by weeks, I mean months.  I can't even begin to tell you how many times Eli has peed or pooped on me and/or himself while I've been changing an already poopy diaper.  Luckily for me, he usually would pee in his own face instead of mine - but that meant he was peeing all over his onesie as well.  Which meant that there were days that we were changing his onesie at least 20 times.  People had suggested getting Eli some Pee-Pee Teepees.  Because apparently that's a thing.  I couldn't bring myself to spend money on a penis party hat, when I figured a washcloth would work just as well.

Anyway, we finally figured out that the cool air hitting his baby bits may have been shocking him into peeing the second we took off his diaper - so before we'd completely take the diaper off, Shawn and I would sit there and blow into his diaper until he peed, which might be totally weird, but it worked just about every time.  That's not to  say he still wouldn't pee again if we weren't fast enough.  Or poo, for that matter.  Because that's really half the battle: being fast enough.  It's just a race against nature.  And there's nothing quite like a baby farting on your hand as you frantically wipe ass cream on their crack to let you know you're not moving fast enough.  And sometimes, say, at 3 o'clock in the bloody morning, you won't move fast enough.  And you want to know what happens?  You get pooped on.  Not once, not twice, but three times.  THREE. TIMES.  Every time he does it, you'll be sure that Mount Vesiuviass is done erupting the yellow, seedy poopsoup that is your life.  You'll put a nice, clean diaper under him - and before you even have a second to blink, he'll be frothing out the poop chute onto his nice, clean canvas again.  And just when you're about to scream and throw all 3 poopy diapers at your sleeping husband, your kid will give you one of those all-elusive actual smiles.  Although it might seem totally cheeky, given the current, literal shitty circumstances - your heart will gush and it suddenly doesn't matter that you've spent the last 20 minutes wiping your kid's butt, because baby smiles make everything better.

We've had some wins though.  You know, when we are fast enough and everyone can walk away human excrement free.  That's a pretty triumphant feeling.  Triumphant until you hear your kid pooping 5 minutes later.  Admittedly, I've had moments where I've pretended not to hear him poop - because... reasons.  I know.  Mom points.  There's also other times, where you think you've been triumphant - until you find your kid's poop on the wall, or in your hair, or in his hair, or smeared on your pants, or in your wedding ring - with absolutely no recollection of how it got there.  So now, in addition to worrying about surprise poop-splosions, you now get to worry about secret, ninja poop.

I remember reading on the internet that it was completely normal for an exclusively breastfed baby to only poop once a week.  Say WHA?!  My breast milk must have had some serious fiber, or something, in it, because that was not the case for Eli.  Dude had poop in every. single. diaper. for the longest time.  Sometimes it was only the shart marks - but nevertheless, poop.  Every time.  At some point in his life (which, of course, I can't remember), I started getting the occasional pee-only diapers.  And instead of basking in the glory of no poop - naturally, I panicked.  That's when you know your kid poops a lot.  And that you're a paranoid psycho. 

One of Eli's many endearing poop faces.  I call this one The Quasimodo.

Anyway, these days are going much better than when he was younger.  We have a nice, normal amount of poopy and wet diapers.  He doesn't pee/poo on us nearly as much as he used to - which is refreshing.  But he'll obviously do it every now and then - you know, to keep things exciting.  It's usually at really inconvenient times - like, at church, or when I'm changing him in the backseat of our car.  But, eh, what're you gonna do.  I'm even starting to predict better when he's going to poop - which is usually right after he's eaten.  I'm this close to buying him a baby potty to see if I can get him to go in there.  You know, for funsies.

Oh, and considering Shawn was a diaper-changing virgin before Eli came along, he has become a master of changing diapers since. That is, when he isn't being a tight-wad and doing everything he can to conserve our diaper supply.  He hates wasting diapers.  Which, I suppose I can appreciate.  What I don't appreciate is holding my son, suddenly feeling super warm, and realizing a little too late that I'm being peed on because my husband tried to TAPE the kid's diaper shut after the little velcro thinger ripped off.  A little tip?  Just get a new freaking diaper. 

And with that, I'm going to go ahead and wrap up this episode of everything you've ever cared (or not cared) to know about my not-so-tiny-anymore human.  

Youuuuu're welcome.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About My Kid's Sleeping Habits

So, you'll have to pardon my absence.  Between keeping a human alive and happy - working - trying to get a weekly shower in - taking real estate classes (because, yeah, that's a thing again) - trying (and failing miserably) to stay on top of our infinite mountains of laundry - trying to get our house ready to sell (because, yeah, that's also a thing), I haven't had much time to sit down and devote the time that I'd like to my blog.  This post has literally been sitting in my Drafts box for almost 4 months.  I've started it about 800 different ways and ended up hating them all.  (And then almost threw my laptop through the window and gave up altogether when Blogger decided it would be fun to not save a crapton of stuff I had written.)  I didn't want it to turn into one of those boring mommy blogger posts that drones on about all the things people only pretend to care about - you know, like my kid's head circumference.  But of course, that's exactly what it turned into.  And as I write this "intro", I'm not even finished with the entire post.  So, instead of inundating you with 5 months worth of all things Eli all at once, I'm just going to post a little now - and you'll get the rest in separate posts. Otherwise you'd be reading this post for 3 weeks.  So, for today, I present to you, everything you'll ever care (or not care) to know about Eli's sleeping habits since birth.  Yeah.  An entire post about sleeping.  Try to contain your enthusiasm.

Before you have a kid, people are constantly warning you about how you're never going to sleep again.  Like, ever.  So naturally, when Eli came along, I felt totally mentally prepared to have completely sleepless nights.  (I say 'mentally', because there was no way I was even kind of physically prepared.  I was getting 10 glorious hours of sleep every night Pre-Eli.  So, I was fully aware that quitting sleep cold turkey would likely kill me in a major way.)  

So, Eli is born, and those first few nights in the hospital were so. exhausting.  The morning after having Eli, Shawn and I went to this breastfeeding class - and it was just this nice, old lady and us.  At the beginning she had told us that it was totally okay if we started nodding off, she understood - and I remember thinking, "I'm tired, but who falls asleep having a one-on-one class with someone?  Not me."  I was wrong.  So very wrong.  It took every ounce of will power I had to keep my eyes open - and apparently my will power was severely lacking.  I mean, as riveting as pictures of engorged boobs are... I just couldn't.  I was damn near drooling when she finally ended the class and commented on how tired we looked.  Yeah, just a little bit.

The first night at home was, well, just like everyone said it would be.  It felt like Eli woke up at least 800 times during the night.  He and I both bawled pretty much all night long.  I'm sure Shawn was like, "What fresh hell is this?"  Because I can't imagine waking up to your kid screaming and your wife sobbing uncontrollably that she doesn't know what's wrong with him and why he won't sleep is even kind of fun.  Unfortunately for him, that wasn't the last time he woke up to his family having a complete freak meltdown.

Although waking up every half hour was beyond exhausting, Eli slowly began to get the hang of the whole sleeping at night thing.  Slowly, but surely.  He was already a pro at sleeping through the day.  Dude would sleep for hours.  I had to constantly check on him to make sure he was still actually alive.  Babies can be so lifeless when they sleep - sometimes you just have to go poke them to make sure they're still breathing.  Well, if you're a hot, paranoid mess like I am, anyway.  But rest assured, there were (and still are) three sure-fire ways I could wake him up, if I needed to:

#1 - Fall asleep.
#2 - Tell someone how long he's been sleeping.
#3 - Sit on the toilet.

Every. Time.  Not to mention he seems to wake up the second Shawn and I take our pants off.  You know.  We make it work though.  Hopefully not to a point that Eli's going to have horrifying, therapy-inducing flashbacks someday.  *Cough*

Anyways, I digress.

We had (and still have) Eli sleeping right next to our bed in a Pack 'N Play.  I know there's a lot of people who aren't fans of baby sleeping in the same room - because of the noises they make and what not.  I'll admit that Eli's grunting took some getting used to.  Kid would grunt in his sleep all the time.  Imagine a billy goat trying to fart - and that's pretty much what he sounded like.  It was was pretty amusing.  Luckily, the grunting (and all his other random baby noises) were something I got used to and could sleep through.  Though, back then I'm pretty sure I could have slept through the apocalypse.  Because, you know, so tired.  

With Eli constantly waking up throughout the night to eat, the first night he decided to sleep for 3 whole, glorious hours in a row was a Godsend.  Granted, he didn't actually sleep in his own bassinet - it was in a Boppy pillow right next to me.  But, he slept.  Every night it seemed to get harder and harder to stay awake while I was feeding him.  There was no amount of playing on my phone that was even remotely interesting enough to keep me awake at 3 in the morning.  I can't even begin to count how many nights I ended up completely passing out with him still attached to my boob, and then waking up hours later in the morning to find Eli still in my arms and my shirt completely soaking wet because my boobs had a girl's night out.  A charming scene, I'm sure.

The first few weeks of Eli's life, I was making sure to feed him at least every 3 hours - even if it meant waking him up to feed him.  (Yeah, I know.)  It was what the folks at Primary's told me to do when we were there for his jaundice - and I never really thought to do it any differently.  So, when we went and saw his pediatrician at his two week appointment, I had mentioned that I was waking him up to feed him.  After giving me a totally dumb look like, "WTF are you waking up a sleeping baby?", he told me I was okay to just let little dude sleep to his heart's content.  I almost didn't hear him, you know, with the all the choirs of angels belting out the Hallelujah chorus and all.

Up until he was almost two months old, he was sleeping 3-4 hour stretches at night fairly consistently.  Of course there were the random nights when he'd flat out forget how to sleep.  Or the nights when he'd refuse to fall asleep unless it was the ass crack of night.  Or the nights when he'd almost be asleep, but would keep farting himself awake.  Then there were the nights when he decided sleeping on mom was funner than sleeping in his bassinet.  I must make a damn fine pillow, because right before he turned 2 months he finally slept for six hours straight.  Granted, that was 6 hours of me sleeping in a totally weird, less-than-comfortable position to avoid smothering the kid to death - but it was totally worth the extra hours of sleep.

For the next few nights following his initial 6-hour stretch, he continued to sleep for 6 hours at a time at night - in his own bed, even.  I was finally starting to see the light at the end of this metaphoric, sleepless tunnel.  I figured that he was probably going to be too fat to sleep in the bassinet attachment on the Pack N' Play pretty soon - so I'd better get him used to sleeping flat on his back in his crib.  He would sleep in his swing just fine - but I was worried that he'd struggle sleeping in his crib.  So, I swaddled him up and laid him in his crib where he proceeded to prove me wrong for the next three hours.  I was so proud.  I went into his room to find him just laying there all smiley and content - just like he usually is when he wakes up (not a trait he even kind of inherited from me).  It really is amazing that I'd even know he was awake half the time.  How I'd wake up in the middle of the night knowing he was awake and ready to eat is beyond me.

So, I thought I had figured out the secret to keeping him asleep in his crib.  I had to swaddle him.  Up to that point, we really had only been swaddling him at night.  For the next few days I continued to swaddle him when I'd lay him down for a nap in his crib.  Of course, at the time, I didn't realize that it was pretty much the worst idea I had ever had.  Ever.  He slowly started falling asleep later and later at night - until I was consistently staying awake until 2 and 3 in the morning with a wide awake baby.  I had somehow managed to completely eff over his entire concept of day and night - and when it was appropriate to sleep.  Way to go, mom.

For the next few weeks we tried just about everything under the sun to help him fall asleep at a less horrifying hour.  We stopped swaddling him for naps.  We started doing nightly baths.  We tried using lavender shampoo.  We tried using J&J's "Bedtime" lotion - which he hated with the white, hot passion of 7,000 suns.  (In fact, he really just hated any lotion at all.  He would scream bloody murder every time we put it on him.  We thought that maybe it was just too cold - so we'd heat it up with a damn blow dryer - but he'd still scream.  That's when I realized that maybe it was actually stinging his skin.  Mom points.)  We tried not using lotion. We'd play white noise on YouTube.  We sang to him.  We tried taking his arms out of the swaddle.  We tried a binky.  We tried Gripe Water.  We tried gas drops.  We rocked him.  We'd put him in his swing.  We'd push his stroller around the house.  And when we finally felt like we had exhausted all our options, we'd lay him on the floor on his tummy - and subsequently both pass out on the floor while he just hung out, happy as a clam.  To no avail, homeboy insisted on staying awake.  Not even a grumpy awake.  Just an I-don't-want-to-sleep awake.

After a few absolutely exhausting weeks of trial and error, he started going to sleep earlier and earlier.  We finally were able to nail down a bedtime routine that put him to sleep and kept him asleep - for what would eventually be a solid, consistent, and beautiful 8 hours each night.  To this day, his routine is still the same.  We give him a bath - which he loves.  Like, a lot.  We figured out that my Vaseline lotion for extra dry skin didn't make him scream - so we use that to give him a little mini baby massage.  We put his jammies on and swaddle him.  We turn off all the lights, so there's no mistaking that it's nighttime.  We turn on the "oscillating fan" on a white noise app I had downloaded.  And then I nurse him to sleep.

From about three months on, he's slept through the night fairly consistently.  There's been random spurts of him waking up in the middle of the night wanting to eat - which I can only assume is either due to growth spurts, his schedule being messed up from vacations, or him just being totally random. Luckily the spurts, whatever their reason, don't usually end up lasting for that long.

When he does wake up in the middle of the night, he still doesn't wake up crying.  Between 3 and 4 months when he'd wake up, he'd just lay there and sing/babble to himself.  Shawn would try to nudge me awake, as if I hadn't been laying there for the last 15 minutes listening to Eli already.  Some nights he'd just babble himself back to sleep - others, he'd sing until I picked him up.  His new favorite thing to do when he wakes up is kick the shi out of his mattress.  He'll lay there and kick over and over and over again.  Again, sometimes he'll go back to sleep - other times, not so much.

These days, he's usually in bed by around 9-ish and he'll sleep until around 7-ish and I am not complaining.  Contrary to what this post may have made it sound like, I'm actually really happy with how good of a sleeper Eli is - lengthwise and just solely what he'd sleep through.  (I've been amazed at what that kid can sleep through.  People are always quick to be more quiet if they realize he's sleeping - but we like to make sure to tell people they're welcome to talk normally - so he can learn to keep sleeping through loud things.  Like, you know, our dumbass dog barking.)  Anyways, obviously we've had our rough patches here and there - but, eh.  It's not anything I wasn't already expecting.    

As far as sleeping throughout the day goes - he's still pretty much a champ.  He obviously doesn't sleep nearly as much as he used to - but he still gets some good naps during the day.  Around 4 months, he started taking some naps on his stomach.  Up until that point, I've always had him on his back - because that's what his doctor had told us to do.  And far be it from me to not listen to his doctor.  Gasp.  He didn't mind being on his stomach, but I didn't like, want him to die from sleeping that way.  Which is completely absurd, I know.

Anyways, so when he started falling asleep on his stomach, I literally could not stop watching him to make sure he was still breathing.  In the beginning, he would fall asleep during "tummy time" - because, you know, lifting your head off the ground is hard work.  So he'd just sleep in the middle of our living room floor - which made it easy to sit and watch him breathe.  At first, he'd only sleep on his stomach for maybe a half hour or so.  Now, I can put him in his crib on his stomach and he'll get some good 2 hour naps in.  And hey, he's still alive - so there's that.  (Don't worry. You think I'm paranoid now.  Just wait until I publish the, "Things that freaked Mom out" post.)

When he's not sleeping in his crib, it's usually in his swing, in his carseat, or snuggling with me or Shawn.  We got one of those detachable swings that you can carry around the house with you - and I've loved it.  Luckily, so has Eli.  Unfortunately, he's scary close to being way too fat for it.  He's still not technically to the maximum weight - but the swing is starting to creak when we have it turned on.  Yeah swing, we get it.  Our kid is huge.

When we aren't home, and he starts to tired whine - I can usually get him to sleep by putting him in his carseat and either pushing him in a stroller, driving in the car, or just swinging him around (which, given the kid's size, is getting infinitely more difficult).  Sometimes if he's really cranky, he will not let you stop moving, otherwise he'll lose. his. shit.  Example: If we're driving and he's not happy, he'll scream as soon as he realizes the car isn't moving any
more.  The second the light turns green and we start moving, he'll stop crying.  Sometimes, if we see that we're going to get stuck at a red light, we'll stop way before we need to and slowly inch forward then hit the breaks over and over again - to try and trick him into thinking we're still actually moving.  Unfortunately he's getting smarter, and this doesn't work so much anymore.

If he's not in his crib, swing, carseat, or on the ground - he's sleeping with either myself or Shawn.  There's been so many times where I've been nursing him in my comfy chair, and he'll fall asleep, and instead of laying him down and taking a shower - or doing something productive - I'll just sit and snuggle with him for however long he decides to sleep.  Because, guys, snuggling with babies is the best.  Not to mention, way more more fun than doing laundry.  Shawn is convinced he has magical powers of getting Eli to sleep.  I mean, I have magical powers too - magical boob
powers - but on the days that I had exhausted my human pacifier abilities, Shawn could always manage to get him to sleep when I couldn't.  It was relieving and frustrating all at the same time.  But I'd manage to get some pretty adorable baby + baby daddy napping pictures out of it.  And by 'some', I mean I probably have like 800 pictures of Shawn and our kid sleeping.  Such a swoon-worthy moment.  It's really too bad the pictures Shawn manages to catch of me passed out with the kid aren't nearly as cute.  Meh, what're you gonna do.

And because I can't fathom possibly writing any more about my kid sleeping - we'll end this post with possibly my favorite video of Eli sleeping ever.

I've got plenty more where this post came from.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Adventures in Postpartum Land

Well, it's been another month - so it would seem it's time for another blog post, eh?  So, if you've ever wondered just how blissful postpartum life can be.  Read on, my friends.  Well, unless you don't want to read about bloody baby makers and postpartum bathroom trips.  In that case, just don't.

That said, I present to you: 

Things I've learned will happen after you've pushed a tiny human out your even tinier love tunnel.

1.  There is so much blood.

So. Much.  Nothing is quite as horrifying as feeling like all of your insides are going to fall right out of your vagina every time you stand up.  No amount of mental preparation can really prepare you for the amount of gore your crotch will produce.  And as if the pieces of your uterus free falling out your love hole wasn't already appalling enough, apparently you need extra help.  Nurses will come into your room and give your belly a nice little "postpartum massage".  Gushing of the vaginal variety will ensue.  It's quite possibly the worst "massage" you'll ever get. 

2.  Bladder control?  Gone.  Vanished.  Done-zo.

I've never had all that great bladder control to begin with.  I've peed my pants way more than any normal adult should.  I'm talking like, pre-pregnancy here.  Although, as I've mentioned before, pregnancy didn't help my situation at. all.  Anyways, I had always heard about child birth extinguishing any ounce of bladder control you might have, but figured it couldn't get much worse than it already was.  And guys, I was wrong.  So, so wrong.  I can't even begin to tell you how many times I went to the bathroom, and was already peeing before I even had my pants down.  I'm not even talking a few drops either.  Full on stream of urine, people.  No amount of clenching, will power, or praying all the way to the bathroom was going to stop it from happening.  And with every drop of pee that didn't get into the toilet went a little shred of whatever dignity I had left.

And, you know, speaking of peeing...

3. You will be in the bathroom forever.

Seriously.  If you've given birth recently, you can just go ahead and prepare yourself to be in the bathroom all the live long day.  Going to the bathroom was such a giant, literal pain in the crack.  I would try holding my pee as long as I could just to avoid the huge process that it entailed.  ('Try' being the operative word.  See above.)  For the first few-ish weeks of postpartum bliss, you can expect your trips to the bathroom to be similar to the following: 

Step 1: You can't use toilet paper, so you have to get your fancy cooter-cleaning water bottle and fill it with water.  Make sure you check the temperature of the water, because accidentally squirting your raw, gaping wide open vagina with scorching hot, boiled-in-Hell, water is not an experience I'd recommend.  

Tip: If you're already sitting on the toilet and have forgotten about the water bottle, which you will, scream to your husband.  He'll fill it up for you.  (Note: This is where you really want to check the water temperature.  Trust no one.)

Step 2: Get the rest of your supplies.  Including, but not limited to your Tucks pads, vagina numbing spray, ice, big ass diaper, and a pair of giant, sexy mesh underwear.

Yep.  That's real life, folks.  Except your stomach won't look nearly that good.

Tip: Unless you want to be in a constant state of feeling like Hulk's giant, freezing cold hand is trying to force it's way into your sewn up vagina, don't put the ice chips in a rubber glove.

Step 3:  Try to make it to the toilet without completely wetting yourself.  You'll probably fail, and that's okay.  

Step 4: Try not to die when you pull your pants down and see just how much blood is there.  Because it really is miraculous that anyone can lose that much blood and not die.   

Step 5: Do your thing.  You know, if there's anything left.

Step 6: While you sit on the toilet, start preparing your underwear cocktail - placing the Tucks pads ever so carefully so that they don't get sucked into your giant V-hole, never to be seen again.

Step 7:  Grab your spray bottle, and clean all the garbage away.  It will keep coming, so keep squirting.

Tip:  When you look down there to see if you're all clean, your vagina will look like it's been turned completely inside out.  It's pretty much the ugliest, most horrifying thing ever.  It will get better, I promise.

Step 8: Try to stand up while balancing your concoction of crotch numbing supplies on your huge mesh underwear.  

Step 9:  Clean up the murder scene you left behind.  Or let your husband do it, if he's awesome like my husband and will.

4. Your first postpartum poop will be absolutely terrifying.

When you're pushing a baby out your business, they tell you to push like you're pooping.  And it's clearly no secret that the whole birthing experience leaves your entire lady garden just a little bit traumatized.  So no one can really blame you when you have a major PTSD flare-up as you're about to take your first postpartum dump.  I don't care how many stool softeners you've taken.  That shit is scary.  We were about to leave the hospital, and I was taking my sweet time in the bathroom when all of a sudden my body was like, "IT'S TIME."  I immediately grabbed the handicap bar next to the toilet to brace myself for the agony that I was certain would ensue.  And without going too overboard with the details, let's just say that I'm proud to report that it wasn't nearly as traumatizing as I thought it was going to be.  

Tip:  Stool softeners.  Take them.  Religiously.  Do it.

5. Sneezing isn't much fun either.

You thought pooping was scary?  Just you wait until you ramp up for your first big postpartum sneeze.  There's nothing quite like that snotty explosion to make you feel like your crotch stitches are going to burst out in a raging blaze of glory.  It brings a whole new meaning to the phrase, "Ripped a new one".  Pardon the mental image(s).  But seriously.

6. You will learn just how much your husband loves you.

Like when you do finally poop, and don't know if you actually cleaned it all off afterwards, because you're too scared to actually wipe with vigor like you used to, because... second degree tear.  And the chatchie squirt bottle can only do so much.  So, what do you do?  Call to your husband to look and make sure you're not going to have shit crusted to your butt for the rest of the day.  It will be so many levels of horrifying.  So. many. levels.  But he'll do it, because you just had his baby, dammit.  And he loves you.

7. Antibiotics are gross.

If you get an infection, like I did, they'll pump you full of antibiotics.  When you wake up in the morning, your mouth is going to taste like armpits.  It's not pleasant, to say the least.

8. You will have the mother of all meltdowns when you leave the hospital.

If you're anything like me, that is.  All your hormones will gang up on you all at once.  You will feel all the feels and bawl the whole way home.  It will be because you're happy.  You're scared.  You're tired, so tired.  You're worried.  You're excited.  You're exhausted.  You're grateful.  Pile that all on top of being paranoid that you'll get in some freak car accident on the way home.  Because now you're a mom, and that's what you worry about.

9. You'll still look pregnant for the next few weeks.

Pregnancy and birth leaves you with some serious pooch-age.  It will probably be pretty unnerving to see just how stretchy and jiggly your stomach is.  You'll probably have a few meltdowns about it.  But you grew a baby in there for 9 months, so it's okay.  That's what sweats are for.  Plus, people will tell you you look great for just having a baby, even if you totally don't.

10. When your milk comes in, you'll have porn star boobs.

It will hurt like a mother, but your husband will sure enjoy it.  Men.

11. Sometimes your nipples will go rogue and you'll jet stream your kid right in the face with milk.

It's okay, he'll forgive you.  Even if you stop to take a picture.

12. You'll never feel like more of a cow than when you use a breast pump.

The first time I used one was when we were at Primary Children's Hospital with Eli for his jaundice.  He was 4 days old, and that's when my milk decided to really come in.  The lactation consultant noticed, because, how could she not when my enormous knockers practically had their own orbit.  She told me that she'd bring in a pump so I could relieve myself.  Thank goodness.  She came in and had me place two funnels against my boobs and flipped a switch and I started laughing so. hard.  Not because it tickled (by any stretch of the imagination), but it was just the most freaking ridiculous looking thing ever.  I'm sure the fact that I was running on little to no sleep probably was making it seem a lot more amusing than it really was.  But watching that machine suck the shi out of my nipples was hilarious.  I looked at the lactation consultant and not even trying to stifle my laughter said, "Is this real life?"  We were all laughing pretty hard.  The things we do.  

13. Discreetly breastfeeding in public is not easy.

At least for me, it isn't.  You get so used to just whipping out a boob at home, that when you're sitting in a living room with your entire family, trying to whip it out and get your kid attached without flashing your grandparents is kind of a giant pain in the ass.  Especially when your kid starts screaming because he doesn't understand why the hell he's in a hot, dark tent being squirted in the face by your crazy ass nipples.

14.  Your hospital bills will be nauseating.

Several weeks after you give birth, all the hospital bills will start rolling in.  It's not even kind of fun.  And it won't be one big giant bill.  It will be 800 million separate bills that you get randomly for the next month or so.  And just when you think you've paid everything off, you'll get a bill from the hospital pediatrician that you talked to for maybe 10 seconds.

Tip:  If you don't want to feel stabby, don't even bother looking at the itemized list of what the hospital charged you.  Unless you think paying 5 bucks for one pill of Ibuprofen isn't completely ludicrous.

15. It'll be damn near impossible to get anywhere on time.

Especially if you were always chronically late before.  Now you have to make sure your kid is fed, changed, and dressed on top of getting yourself ready.  Then you have to make sure you have every supply you could ever possibly need in the diaper bag.  And right when you're about to leave, your kid will take the most massive, juicy dump in the history of ever, so you have to change him before you leave.  And while you're changing him, he'll manage to pee in his own face and all over you - and then he'll projectile poop again.  By this point you just give up going wherever you were planning to go, because it really just isn't worth it anymore.

16. There will be days where you feel like you accomplish absolutely nothing.

Your husband will come home from work and ask, "What'd you do today?"  Answering with, "Kept your kid alive" is a perfectly legitimate response.

17. "Sleeping when the baby sleeps" is B.S.

Because if you're sleeping when the baby sleeps, when are you supposed to do the 800 loads of laundry that need to be done?  Or shower?  Or clean your house?  Or any number of bazillion things on your to-do list?  You can just go ahead and plan on not sleeping again.  Ever.

And speaking of laundry...

18. You will always have laundry to do.  Always.

How three people can produce so many dirty clothes is beyond me.  I currently have three loads sitting on our bed waiting to be put away.  With a 4th load that I'll have to run through the wash for the 3rd time, because I keep "forgetting" to put it in the dryer.  

19. Postpartum boinking is not glamorous.

I realize that ending the "6 week draught" can be drastically different for everyone.  Let's just say our first attempt at a postpartum romp was an epic failure on so many levels.

Tip:  You do not want sperm in your eye.  Ever.  Also?  If you're nursing, keep your bra ON.  

20. Every time you see your man napping with your kid, your heart will melt.


21. You will take 700 thousand million pictures & most of them will look the same.

You'll hover over your kid with your phone for hours to try and capture all the adorable faces he makes.  Then your camera roll will look something similar to this:

22. You'll feel more love than you ever thought was possible.

I know everyone always says this after they have a kid.  That they didn't know they were capable of loving someone so much.  But as cliché as it is, it's completely true.  It's a pretty ridiculous amount of love.  Even when your kid poops on you.  And pees on you.  And barfs on you.  And constantly kicks you in the boobs.  And refuses to go to sleep before 2 in the morning.  You'll love that chubby little stinker more than you could ever imagine.  You'll live for his snuggles, his smiles, and his sleepy giggles.  And although parenthood is completely exhausting, it's so fulfilling and worth it on so many different levels.  So worth it.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

That One Time I Gave Birth

Ah, the much-anticipated birth story.  We'll just pretend that it isn't a whole month late.  I know a lot of you are chomping at the bit to see juuust how much I'll overshare, and I can assure you that I will spare no detail of my birthing experience.  Well, you know, short of posting some pretty horrifying pictures/videos of my gaping wide open vagina - because no one needs that shi permanently burned into their brains.  Yoooou're welcome.

(Also, for those of you who are feeling extra lazy and don't want to read this long arse post (seriously, it's LONG), there's a long arse video you can watch instead at the very end of the post that's full of pictures and some videos from the hospital.  I promise the only person's junk you'll see is Eli's - something I'm sure he'll forgive me for someday.)

So, as you may recall, my blood pressure started getting pretty ridiculous towards the end of my pregnancy - "Gestational Hypertension", they called it.  As a result, my doctor was planning to induce me sometime between 37 and 38 weeks.  After Shawn and I collectively crapped our pants upon hearing the news, we started hauling major ass to get everything ready - because we still had no idea when exactly this kid was coming, just that it would be a few weeks earlier than we had originally anticipated.

On March 24th I went in for my weekly check-up, secretly hoping that I had progressed from the 2+ and 75% that I was the week before so I could just go straight to Labor & Delivery and have my baby.  And by secretly, I mean it wasn't a secret at all.  I had my mom and Shawn with me, the hospital bag ready to go and everything.  I was ready.  Well, as ready as any first-time mom could be to push a tiny human out an even tinier hole.

My doctor snapped on her gloves and went elbow-deep to check my progression.  Much to my dismay, she told me that I was maybe a "generous 3" and still 75% effaced.  My heart sank as I realized that meant more waiting around.  (Because it's not like I would have had to wait 2-3 more weeks had I nooot been getting induced.  Cough.)  She told me that she was going to strip my membranes to help ripen my cervix.  Because apparently my cervix is a fruit.  I had heard from friends and the internet that this particular procedure was not pleasant, to say the least.  So I laid there, half expecting her to pull out some medieval looking cheese grater to "strip my membranes" when she suddenly was all finished and telling me to pants it up.  I was confused.  I hadn't felt any more pain than I already was feeling when she had her whole effing hand shoved clear up my love tunnel digging for gold.  And granted, that certainly wasn't my favorite feeling - but it was manageable, I suppose.  So, not knowing whether or not she had set my cervix on the path for "ripeness" or not, I asked her if she was still planning to strip my membranes.  Of course she told me that she already had, and I immediately felt like a giant dumbass.

She began going through her calendar to see when she could schedule me to be induced.  She started talking about sometime the next week, and I immediately began sending her frantic howaboutTHISweekinstead vibes.  Because...  seriously.  I figured if she was going to induce me, and I was already "full term", let's just get on with it.  Luckily she finally decided on that Friday, March 28th.  She handed me a paper full of instructions and told me that the hospital would be calling the night before to give me "special instructions".  I was pretty excited.

That is, until the hospital never called.  It was finally about 9pm on Thursday night, and I had no idea how "special" or crucial these instructions would be or not.  So I finally just called Labor & Delivery myself to ask.  The special instructions?  "Make sure to eat a good breakfast tomorrow morning, because we're going to starve you for the rest of the day."  Anticlimactic much?  She went on to tell me that they'd call me, likely some time in the morning, when it was my turn to be induced.  She let me know that they could call as early as 5am - because that's a fun time to have a baby.  I hung up, praying to sweet baby Jesus that we wouldn't get called in at an inhumane hour - whether that be 5am or 10pm.

Friday morning felt like Christmas.  I was so anxious and so excited and not nearly as nervous as I thought I'd be.  Apparently I was so anxious and excited, that I decided to get up at the asscrack of dawn to get showered and pretty so I'd be ready to go whenever the hospital called.  Luckily, they ended up calling around 8:45am, so I really only farted around for an hour or two waiting.  She asked me if I was ready to have a baby, and I told her I had been ready for years.  She told us we could come in at 9:15am, a nice, humane hour.

(Semi-Related: Turns out it doesn't matter how much you shower or get ready beforehand, if you're anything like me, you're going to look like an enormous, swollen rhinoceros in your hospital pictures.  Seriously.  Yikes.)  

Shawn and I started throwing everything in the car, and quickly took one last bump selfie for funsies - because we all know how much I love those.

As we drove to the hospital, I instantly felt shaky.  The nervousness was apparently starting to kick in.  And although I was nervous about any number of things going wrong during my labor, my excitement and pure joy overshadowed any doubts by a long shot.  I had been waiting years for this day.  I was finally going to be a mom.  As I sat and daydreamed about what our boy would look like, Shawn and I noticed a car a little bit ahead of us driving like a bat out of hell.  I'm talking weaving in and out of traffic, blasting through red lights, cutting everyone and their dog off - whoever was driving that car clearly had somewhere to be...  Or was completely plastered.  After a few minutes of watching the car, I told Shawn, "I'll bet you any amount of money that they're on their way to the hospital."  After that, we lost the car as they pulled out from behind another car stopped at a red light to go through the intersection.

Sure enough, as we pulled up to the hospital's Women's Center, we saw that same car parked right in front of us with a man frantically pushing a very pregnant woman in a wheelchair into Labor & Delivery.  As we walked into Labor & Delivery, the sound of sheer horror echoed throughout the halls as that same woman in the wheelchair screamed bloody effing murder from, what I can only assume, was supposed to be our room.  I mean, hot damn, it sounded like the poor girl was being shanked to death - probably by a medieval cheese grater.  We exchanged worried glances with another couple who had just checked in as well.  Nothing like the deathly shrieks of a woman in labor to reaffirm just how much I wanted needed an epidural.  The woman at the front desk told us we'd have to wait for a little bit while they found another room for us.  So Shawn and I sat there for a while, just listening to this poor woman moan and scream.  If I wasn't nervous before, I definitely was now.

We finally were put in a room, only to be moved to the room right next to it - because apparently it was the wrong room?  They had me put on the super pretty hospital gown, and I'm proud to report it wasn't nearly as traumatizing to get it on as my first trial run in Labor & Delivery had been.  I was hooked up to an IV (which was pinching me like a mother, but I decided to just deal with it instead of having them re-do it) and in bed around 10am-ish.  The room we were in was a nice and toasty 75 degrees. I quickly let my nurses know that unless they turned it down, I was going to sweat to death before I even got an epidural.  They were super nice about it, and cooled the room down to a chilly 64 degrees.  I'm pretty sure everyone else in the room was freezing their keisters off - but I was gooood.
The nurses checked to see if I had progressed any further since when my doctor had checked me on Monday and, of course, I hadn't.  I was still dilated to barely a 3 and 75% effaced.  So much for a ripe cervix.  They started me on some Pitocin to get things moving.  Once that had a chance to surge through my system, I started feeling contractions.  They were bearable, like period cramps, but not my favorite.  My nurse asked me if I was going to want an epidural, to which I responded with a resounding "HELL. YES."  She then asked me on a scale of 1-10, what my pain would have to be at to get the epidural.  I told her a 3, as my mind replayed the blood-curdling screams I had heard earlier from the woman down the hall.  I was kidding, but only kind of.

At around 11:30, some random man doctor came in that looked like he might be my same age and told me that he was going to break my water.  Alrighty then.  He told me it wouldn't hurt at all - which is good, otherwise homeboy wouldn't have gotten anywhere near my lady garden until I had drugs.  I obviously wasn't down there to really see what he was doing, but according to Shawn (who, purely out of fascination, stayed South of the equator most of the time), said that Dr. ManChild pretty much just took a hook and poked my water bag.  It took him a second, he said I had a tough sac - so, yeah.  He finally was able to break through and I instantly felt like I was totally peeing my pants in a major way.  I was leaking fluid all. day. long.  Nothin' like soaking in a puddle of your own amniotic fluid.  Yum.

At this point, the contractions were getting stronger - still manageable, but I was getting a little antsy to get the epidural.  My nurse came in around noon and told me that the anesthesiologist was about to go into a C-section, so I could either get my epidural right then, or wait for another hour.  I think it goes without saying that there was no way in hell that I was going to risk waiting another hour without drugs.  (Hi, I'm Chelsea and I'm a drugaholic.)

The anesthesiologist showed up with the good stuff and started doing his thing.  The whole process was actually a little more painful than I had anticipated.  You know, for something that is supposed to numb pain.  (Says the girl with absolutely zero pain tolerance.)  Shawn actually had to switch which hand I was holding, because I was squeezing him a little too hard, apparently.  And of course I was all sorts of paranoid about moving and totally paralyzing myself.  At one point, the anesthesiologist told me I might feel a "little electric shock"...  And by that, he meant my entire leg was going to completely convulse out of the bed - it was the most bizarre feeling ever.

I like to call this the, "Oh shit, what was THAT?" moment of my epidural.

After the anesthesiologist finished with the drugs, I started getting super shaky. - because apparentlshivering like you're wandering buttassnaked through the North Pole is normal after you get an epidural.  My nurse told me even though it might seem like I was shivering because I was cold, it was because of the drugs.  Nevertheless, since I had our room set to cold as balls - they got me a warm blanket, and that seemed to help a little bit - but I was still shaking like a doofus.

At this point, I was still a 3 and 75% effaced - and my contractions were coming in nice and steady at 3 minutes apart.  Contractions that I, luckily, could no longer feel.  Thank you, Western medicine.  As my legs started to numb, I could tell that my left leg was way more numb than the right one - and I was suddenly paranoid that I was going to have one of those half-assed epidurals that everyone seems to love telling horror stories about.  The other leg started to get a little more numb, but I could still move both my legs and feet around with some extra effort.  Granted, I wasn't about to get up and do laps around the hospital, but I (along with everyone else in the room) was still surprised at how much I could still move.  I had always imagined I'd just be a giant pile of dead weight.  So, that was... fun.

After I got the epidural, they put the catheter in and shoved some wire thing up my cha cha that would monitor the intensity of my contractions - because, you know, I couldn't feel a dang thing.  They had to re-do the vag monitor like 3 times, because I kept bleeding, or something?  I don't even know - all I know is that I couldn't feel it, so they probably could have shoved a crowbar up there, and there's a solid chance I wouldn't have cared.  Afterwards, I kept feeling like I really had to pee, but I couldn't.  I kept telling my mom and Shawn how badly I need to pee, and they'd just respond, "Then go!"  I kept telling them that I couldn't, and my mom finally walked over to my pee bag, lifted it up to show me that I clearly had no problems relieving myself.  Swell.

Around 2, my nurse and CNA came in and cranked up the Pitocin - because my lazyass vagina needed some extra encouragement.  Afterwards we shot the breeze about all the cray crays they see come through Labor & Delivery.  They told us about some women who do water births with the baby daddy sitting in the tub with them - and how sometimes they both end up soaking in a pool of poop stew, iiiiif you know what I mean.

They finally asked about the horse head mask that had been creepily sitting in a corner all day long.  We tried to assure them that we weren't some freaky ass fetish couple, and that it was purely for entertainment's sake.  I actually didn't even realize Shawn had put the mask in the car until we were at the hospital.  All I know is that I'm sure glad he did, because that thing is damn hilarious.  Our first nurse (who I absolutely loved and was so sad that she had to leave us) told me she wanted me to put the mask on when they switched shifts, just to freak out the next nurse when she came into our room.  And really, how could I not?

They checked me again around 3, and I was dilated to a 4 and 90% effaced.  Naturally I was totally bummed out, mostly because I was antsy to meet my kid - but also because I was so effing hungry.  Bitches weren't lying when they said they were going to starve me.  Watching my family eat Chick-Fil-A was pretty much sheer torture as I tried to pretend that the 800 cups of cherry-flavored ice chips I had just inhaled had done anything to stave off my hunger.  Though, in the ice chips' defense, at least they were flavored.  I'm not sure I would have been able to even pretend flavorless ice chips were even kind of helping.

Anyways.  Around 4, I started feeling crampy and realized that the cramps were lining up perfectly with the peaks of my contractions.  And although they weren't necessarily super painful at that point, let me just emphasize how not okay I was with the fact that I was feeling anything my babymaker had going on.  I had asked my nurse earlier about all the epidural-wearing-off stories that I had heard, and she assured me that epidurals could technically last forever, if you wanted them to.  (Yeah, and I'm the damn Pope.)  So as I was starting to feel more and more small cramps, naturally I started beating the shi out of that little epidural button they give you.  Because so help me, if the drugs wore off, I was going to fly off the handle.  My nurse tried to convince me that I had the "perfect epidural".  I could still move my legs around, and I could tell when contractions were happening without feeling much pain.  I finally conceded that, fiiiiiine, maybe it wasn't so bad that I could feel when contractions were happening - maybe it would help me push better.  Just as long as they cramps didn't get any more painful, I'd be okay.

At around 4:40, they came back to check my progression and of course I was still a 4, but I was finally fully effaced, and little man's had had moved down to a -1 station.  My nurse explained that it was totally normal to not progress very quickly with your first baby and that sometimes the epidural can slow things down as well.

The next few hours consisted of hanging out with my family, taking ridiculous horse head pictures, and downing as many cherry ice chips as humanly possible.  It had been a long day.  I felt like my vagina was going to be eternally dilated to a 4.  As 7:00 rolled around, the epidural button was quickly losing its charm as those contractions I was feeling earlier began to multiply in intensity by at least 800 million.  Shit was getting real and I was not thrilled.  Panicked, I pressed the button again, and the machine I was hooked up to started beeping and told me that my "reservoir was empty".  I immediately called the nurse and asked if we could kindly get my reservoir FILLED THE EFF UP.  The anesthesiologist came back and re-dosed me with some feel-good juice and, thankfully, the contractions slowly started disappearing back into a land where they should stay forever.

They came and checked me again at around 7:30, and I was full on prepared to hear that my vagina was closing back up, when all of a sudden I heard the number 9.  I was a nine.  Last time they had checked me I was a 4, and now I was A NINE.  I turned to Shawn and told him it was a dang good thing they re-dosed me when they did, or I probably would have died.

I'm going to be honest, I don't really remember anything in particular that happened over the next two hours other than me shivering like crazy from the epidural.  I also remember getting really tired and worrying that I'd be too tired to bother pushing a kid out my cookie.

Around 9ish, my nurse came in and told me I was a 10, and she was going to have me start pushing.  I knew from all the YouTube videos I had watched and forums I had read that I just had to push like I was pooping.  So, before I started pushing, I was already apologizing to her in advance if I totally pooped on her.  Of course she acted like it wouldn't be a big deal if I did - I'm sure they see it all the time.  But still.  Poop coming out of a baby's butt is one thing, poop coming out a grown ass woman's butt?  Kind of different.  Anyways, I started pushing as she counted to ten.  Initially, I may have held back just a tiny bit, because I was so sure I was going to rocket launch a turd right into her face.  Luckily I got over that pretty quickly.

I pushed for about a half hour, and it was exhausting.  Like, the world's most epic bowel movement ever.  I can't even imagine dealing with pushing and feeling contractions.  No wonder some women scream bloody murder during labor.  They'd have me do the pushes in sets of threes, and by the third push, I could barely even inhale enough to get a good breath and push.  Luckily they hooked me up with an oxygen mask, and although it helped, I was starting to loudly exhale at the end of each push.  (A super pretty noise you'll probably notice in our birth video.)  

My doctor had finally come in and told us that Eli was posterior (face up), and if we couldn't get him turned around, I was going to be pushing for a lot longer.  As fun as that sounded, I was pretty antsy to get him turned the heck around.  They had me stop pushing for a little bit and put me in some weird position on my side with my leg in a stirrup to see if they could get him to turn around.

After laying in that position for about 10-15 minutes, my doctor came back in and shoved her tiny hand up my lady and confirmed that Eli was all turned around and ready to go.  Thaaaaank goodness.  I continued to push in sets of 3, with Shawn holding my right leg and my mom holding up my left leg.

I ended up getting an infection towards the end of my whole birthing fiasco and had a fever that was rapidly increasing, so my doctor decided that she was going to give me some Tylenol rectally.  After she shoved the pills up the ol' poop chute, I told her, "You realize the second I start pushing again, those pills are going to go shooting across the room, right?"  She laughed and had me start pushing again, after the first push she was like, "Ah, yep.  There they are!"  She assured me that at least we knew that meant I was pushing correctly.  Lovely.

After Eli turned, I ended up pushing for another half hour before he was born.  My doctor later told me that she only counts the half hour after he turned as my "total push time".  Even though I technically pushed for an hour, and had some pretty gnarly hemorrhoids and burst blood vessels in both my eyes to prove it.  During the home stretch, my doctor excitedly told me that he had plenty of hair and that she was giving him a faux hawk while we waited for the next contraction.  I finally knew that my heartburn had paid off - my baby had hair.  Woo!  It was so fun to see Shawn's face light up when he finally saw Eli's head.  He was all smiles the entire time.  It was relieving to know that my disgusting, inside-out vagina didn't send him shrieking in horror in the opposite direction.  Because boy howdy, when I watched my mom's cell phone version of the birth later - that shit is not pretty.

Towards the very end, everyone was starting to get really excited and told me that he was so close to coming out.  As I was pushing, one of the nurses got up on the table and put all her weight onto my belly.  I had absolutely no idea what the hell was going on.  Just that I had a nurse on top of me, and I was trying to push what felt like an effing St. Bernard out my crotch without completely destroying what was left of my babymaker.  I later found out that Eli's shoulder had been caught on my pelvic bone, and she was trying to get it dislodged.  He had been turning blue, so time was of the essence.

Eli was finally born at 10:45pm.  The moment the rest of his body finally came out was the most relieving moment of my life.  He didn't cry until my doctor put him on my chest, and it was the sweetest, most beautiful little cry I've ever heard.  I felt so much love in that brief moment they let me hold him for the very first time.  Naturally I was just sobbing the most ugly cries in the history of ever.  Like, seriously.  Of course they were happy cries.  Well, and totally exhausted cries - but happy, nevertheless.

(You know, just in case you didn't believe the whole ugly cry thing.)

(Ya'll can thank Shawn for that stellar editing job.)

They had Shawn cut the cord and they whisked him over to the other end of the room to weigh and measure him and make sure he hadn't broken his clavicle from the whole shoulder ordeal.  Luckily he was pretty much perfect, with the exception of a small fever he had gotten because of my infection/fever.

 Speaking of my fever, I was boiling hot after he had finally come out.  They told me that I was going to need to go on some antibiotics to help with the infection.  (Luckily Eli never did need antibiotics, as his fever went away pretty quickly.)  I laid in bed with a fan that we had bought from WalMart the day before - a fan we had tried to find the week before, but a WalMart employee told us they weren't in season.  Because apparently there's a season for fans?  Spare me.  Anyways, I was trying to cool off as my doctor delivered my placenta and other...  stuff.  She told me I was going to want to hit my epidural button a few more times as she stitched up my 2nd degree tear - and, of course, my stupid reservoir was empty again.  She told me it was up to me if I wanted to get re-dosed again or not, but that she strongly suggested it if I wanted to be in less pain.  So, I'll let you guys go ahead and guess what I decided to do.  (Hint: DRUGS.)

Eli weighed in at a hefty 7 lbs. 15 oz and was 21.5 inches long.  Let's just take a brief moment and appreciate that those were his measurements two weeks prior to his due date.  Homeboy would have been enormous if I had gone to or past my due date.  (Just like his 10 pound mama.  Yeesh.  Sorry mom.)  I asked my doctor to see my placenta - even though I knew it was totally gross, I was kind of curious.  She showed me that it had begun to calcify - which apparently means it was starting to be totally less effective.  So between Eli being a big ol' chunk and my placenta crapping out, it ended up being a really good thing that I delivered him two weeks early.

That day was literally one of the best (and most exhausting) days of my entire life.  I've dreamt of becoming a mother for so long, and it is more wonderful than I ever could have imagined.  Eli is worth far more than every single penny we spent to get him here and I thank God every single day that he's in our lives.  I truly couldn't ask for a more perfect, adorable kid.

I have plenty more to talk about as far as recovery, breast feeding, and not sleeping is concerned.  So stay tuned for more of that fun.  Until then, enjoy this totally novice video I put together with some more pictures my amazing friend (hi Julia!) took throughout the entire day along with some video clips.  I had to zoom in the video clip of him actually being born, so you guys didn't have to witness my Grand Canyon of a vagina - so the video clips aren't super great quality - but you'll get the gist, I promise.


(If YouTube is being obnoxious and won't let you watch the video with the music, you can try watching it here.)