Tag Archives: whining

work

I go back to work in less than a month. 25 days, but who’s counting? Cayenne will go to day care, where someone named Miss Vaunda will feed him bottles and put him down for naps and absolutely not just strap him into a bouncy seat to wail for the rest of the day. I will pick him up in the afternoon, when he will definitely not have forgotten who I am, and will certainly not have come to prefer Miss Vaunda and the day care center to me, my husband, and our house. Right? Right?

To exactly no one’s surprise, I am feeling a lot of anxiety about the whole going-back-to-work thing. I know I am incredibly lucky to have had as much time off as I did (24 weeks, unpaid after I used up my vacation and sick days) and that lots and lots of brave mamas go back after 12 weeks or even less. I’m actually a bit of a trailblazer at my company, it seems — my HR rep was very surprised that I wanted to take the full 12 weeks of FMLA as opposed to coming back as soon as I was medically released, and when I requested an additional leave without pay it had to go all the way to the director of the company, as no one had ever asked for such a thing before and there was no precedent for it. So yes, I’m grateful, and I know I’m incredibly privileged to be in a situation where we can make do without my paycheck for so long, but still. I look at Cayenne, and he’s a baby! How can I possibly leave him?

After waiting so long for the chance to have him, and watching him pull through all the scary, scary stuff at his birth, and just now after nearly five months finally starting to get the hang of this momming thing (though I still suck at the housewifery thing), I’m supposed to just drop him off?

Dramatic handwaving aside, I know that day care is not actually prison, and that it will probably be good for him in the long run to be with other kids all day since he is so unlikely ever to have a sibling, and that millions and millions of kids kiss their parents goodbye every morning and say hello again in the afternoon without having forgotten them in the meantime. I know this. And yet …

Would anyone really notice if I discreetly slipped a pack-n-play into my cubicle?

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eat

Thank you to everyone who stopped by from LFCA. I appreciate your taking the time! And thank you to the person who submitted my posts.

I have so much to say about breastfeeding. So much. I live in an area where formula feeding is common, and as I mentioned before I was very nervous about breastfeeding since my body had let me down so many times before. I wanted to do it, though, and I had been assured by my OBGYN that the hospital staff would help me get established with nursing.

The first thing Cayenne ate was sugar water via a tube down his throat. This was while he was getting supplemental oxygen, and the idea was to get him some nutrients while working on the more acute problems.

The second thing Cayenne ate was formula. A NICU nurse gave him a bottle when he was 15 hours old. He drank an ounce; I watched it happen from my wheelchair. I was not consulted on whether this was a good idea. (I actually think it was, considering how difficult it would have been to nurse him from a wheelchair in the NICU — but I did find it a little strange that no one even asked me.)

I started pumping the night he was born. The nurse wheeled a pump into my room, turned it on, and handed the flanges to me. She said “10 minutes every 3 hours” and left. I didn’t know until two days later that the reason I wasn’t getting anything from the left side was that the tubing wasn’t attached properly. I also didn’t know what to do with the colostrum I pumped — I had no way to get it to him in the NICU, as I couldn’t walk, and I had no refrigerator. I ended up throwing out most of the colostrum I pumped.*

When he was released from the NICU he came to stay in my hospital room, and suddenly everything I did was wrong. He ate very little over the next few days, which I later found out was common behavior for a late-preterm gentleman like himself, but I didn’t know that at the time. I was panicking and I asked every shift nurse for help.** These are all things I was told by the people who were supposed to be providing care for me and Cayenne.

  • “He’ll eat when he’s ready. Just keep trying.”
  • “You really shouldn’t try to feed him so often — he burns more calories trying to eat than he takes in.”
  • “Don’t worry. You’re going to be able to do this. You’ve got great breasts.” (I appreciate that she was trying to encourage me, but seriously, what does that even mean?)
  • “You can always feed him pumped milk from a bottle if he’s not ready to latch.”
  • “Don’t pump. You will end up with oversupply and he won’t be able to latch because you’ll be too engorged.”
  • “Don’t pump. You can’t build supply by pumping, and besides you don’t want to cause nipple confusion. Just keep putting him to the breast.”
  • “You need to prime your breasts by pumping a little before you try to feed him.”
  • “You need to put a little pumped milk on the nipple to encourage him to latch on.”
  • “No, really, you shouldn’t be pumping. You should stop now.” (When a nurse came into the room while I was pumping.)
  • “You should supplement with formula until he’s ready to nurse.”
  • “Of course he won’t nurse! You gave him formula. That stuff just sits in his stomach like glue, you know.”
  • “He’s lost a lot of weight. Keep supplementing until he starts gaining again.”
  • “Oh, people are too concerned about a specific percentage of weight loss. Don’t give him any more formula.”
  • (about my Boppy) “You won’t be able to use that. They’re made for super skinny people.”

By the time we were discharged from the hospital I was a wreck. I felt like a total failure — I couldn’t conceive him, I couldn’t carry him to term, I couldn’t deliver him, and now I couldn’t feed him either. I didn’t know what to do, and as usual my husband was the voice of reason. I tearfully asked him how I could possibly know what advice to listen to, and he said “I’m going with the one who fed my child” (the lactation consultant we finally saw, who looked at how he was behaving and how long it had been since he’d eaten, and immediately fed him some formula). Yes. Of course.

When we got home I kept pumping and kept attempting to nurse. It was over a week, two pediatrician visits, and an additional lactation consultant visit before he got the hang of nursing, and if I didn’t have a completely supportive spouse I know I would have given up long before he learned how to eat. Nearly five weeks in and he is gaining weight, nursing on demand, and taking an occasional bottle of pumped milk from Daddy.

What I’m trying not to lose sight of is that this is Not About Me. It’s not about my feelings, it’s not about whether I get my Exclusively Breastfeeding Merit Badge, it’s not about how I feel when he does or does not nurse, does or does not take a bottle, does or does not eventually need supplemental formula. It’s about my son, and whether or not he is getting enough to eat, and whether or not he is growing. I don’t get some kind of cosmic brownie points for feeding him only from the breast, and I don’t get demerits when my husband gives him a bottle.

* Clearly this is a problem I could have solved by advocating for Cayenne better. I could have insisted a nurse take the colostrum to him, or I could have insisted someone wheel me over to see him more frequently, or I could have asked again for some nipples so I could feed him what I was pumping after he came to our room. I certainly don’t blame the hospital for my failure to think of these obvious solutions. When I finally saw the lactation consultant she looked absolutely stricken to hear that I had thrown out colostrum — she said it was “liquid gold.”

** I asked for a lactation consultant right away, but unfortunately Cayenne was born on a Friday, so that wasn’t possible till the following Monday. When I finally saw her, she told me part of the problem with the conflicting advice I’d been getting was that the nurses had been treating Cayenne like a term baby and not like the preemie he was proving himself to be.

 

happy

My life is so different now than it was a year ago. Two years ago. Three years ago. Four years ago.

Four years ago I was starting to wonder if there might be something wrong with me. Three years ago I was stuck. Unable to get pregnant, no diagnosis, and no idea what to do next. Two years ago my depression/anxiety was eating me alive. Last year we were grieving the third failed IUI and I was really coming to terms with the idea of IVF-or-never-have-a-baby.

And now? It’s like the magical Life Fairy has waved her little wand and made so many things better. I mean, obviously, Cayenne is almost freaking here (holy shit) and I am in a state of constant gratitude for that, but it goes beyond that as well, and a lot of it has to do with money.

I know I write about money a lot in this space and I probably seem a little obsessed with it, but it has really astonished me over the past year as I have watched how much of a difference it makes. People go on and on about how money doesn’t buy happiness, and they’re right to a certain degree, but on the other hand, yes it fucking does.

I would not be pregnant right now if I wasn’t able to borrow the money for the IVF cycle. It is so hard for me even to write that, but it’s true, and the sentence I’m about to write is so fucked up in so many ways that I almost can’t begin to parse it:

Cayenne would not exist if I hadn’t been able to pay for him.

Because my husband landed that magic tenure-track job (go husband!), and because I totally lucked into probably the only job in the world that actually uses my weird collection of skills, we are able to live in a way that wasn’t even thinkable for us in the first nine years of our marriage.

We have less debt every month now, not more. We are talking about buying a car that doesn’t come from Craigslist. When we needed to buy baby furniture, we just drove up to Ikea and bought it instead of spending weeks combing thrift stores. When I need new clothes, I go to the store and buy them. Sometimes I even pay full price. I like paying bills now because there is always enough money to pay all of them. I know I’m not supposed to care about stuff. I’m supposed to get all my happiness from intangibles and to meet life circumstances with equanimity. But really, there is a quality-of-life difference when I don’t have to live in fear of our 13-year-old car breaking down because how the hell will we get it fixed and then how will I get to work. Everything is easier now, and the only difference is money.

I make twice as much money as I used to; I’m not smarter, or harder-working, or more congenial, or more anything than I was then. They just pay me more. I’m also not smarter, or harder-working, or more congenial, than the similarly overqualified person who is now doing the job I used to do. So what, exactly, is different now that makes me deserving of this demonstrably better set of circumstances?* It feels like dumb luck.

And I keep circling back to Cayenne: am I somehow better, or more deserving, or more ready to be a parent than I was before, because this year I could come up with the necessary scratch for his conception?

I am going to love the living heck out of him (I already do), and I am going to teach him compassion and tolerance and how to make mashed potatoes, but I would have done all of that when I didn’t have any money too.

* And the ugly, sweat-drenched, 3-in-the-morning corollary: what makes me think it isn’t all going to vanish one day in an equally capricious way?

it’s more complicated than that

I find myself completely unable to parse my feelings in relation to this pregnancy. It continues, seemingly without my really having to do anything, and I watch my belly* with awe and amazement, and I faithfully read my weekly updates in my Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy, and my house is full of things that shock me every time I see them — a car seat, a changing table, a freaking crib — and I am still, incredibly, unable to believe it is actually happening. I must be pretty dense.

In a way I guess I can’t believe my luck.

I really didn’t believe the IVF was going to work. I did it because I didn’t want to be 80 years old and regretting not having tried; I did it because my husband had hope; I did it because it was finally possible, and I’m not getting any younger, and why wait any longer?

But it did work, and this is happening, and I haven’t fucked it up yet, and I’m at 23 weeks, which means that I may be more than halfway to an actual, live baby.

And this post … this is why I haven’t been blogging. Because I don’t want anyone to think I’m not happy about this. I am over the freaking moon. I am weeping at sappy commercials and smugly rubbing my belly and melting over tiny socks and totally rocking my maternity pants (dude, why does the panel go all the way up to my armpits? Why?). I have a short list of names. My husband has rigged up a transducer mic for my belly to try to record the heartbeat. Let me say it again: I am over the freaking moon. So no, I’m not trying to say I’m not happy or excited, and I’m afraid that’s how it’s coming off. It’s just … more complicated than that.

It’s a mistrust of my body, after four years of failing. I have no faith that any part of me is going to do what it’s supposed to do. I’m secretly grateful for the scheduled C-section that is part and parcel of having had a myomectomy because I know I could never deliver a baby. Breastfeeding? Well, of course I’m planning to try, but I’m reading up on formula, because my body? It doesn’t work.

So, to no one’s surprise, I’m sure, I am a mess. I am thrilled every day to wake up still pregnant, and I am overjoyed every time he kicks me, because there is a part of me that can’t stop thinking it’s all going to go to hell.

* Like, literally watch it. The other night I SAW Cayenne** kicking me. Why did no one tell me this was a thing?

** I’ve resisted giving the fetus a blog nickname, but I’ve been secretly calling him Cayenne for months, so I’m going with that, especially since he kicks the crap out of me when I eat spicy food (which is all the time). I figure that means he either likes it or hates it; I’m going with “likes it.” And yes, I just footnoted a footnote. My name is gingerandlime, and I have a problem.

new year’s i.v.

I thought I was done with nausea! Apparently not. I was up all Sunday night vomiting, and when I called my doctor first thing in the morning they told me to go to the emergency room. They gave me some Zofran and some IV fluids, and checked to make sure all was well with the fetus, then sent me home. Scary and unpleasant, but not dangerous. Hopefully there will not be a repeat of this.

photo(1)

so, this happened

I had an OBGYN appointment today* and this happened.

DSC04494

conveniently labeled to avoid confusion

I go to a high-risk OB clinic (supposedly the best in the state, which I am repeating to myself like a mantra these days. Best in the state. Best in the state. That means nothing can go wrong, yes? Wait, don’t answer that.) in the nearest smallish city. Because it’s a clinic, I see a different doctor each time, and I won’t really have any control over which one of them does my C-section when the time comes. Mostly I am OK with this.

But today?

Maybe I shouldn’t have been weirded out by this, but the more I think about it the less comfortable I am. Please tell me if I’ve gone off the deep end in feeling grumbly about this appointment.

The doctor (whom I’d never seen before) came in and asked me if I could feel the baby moving yet. I said no, and he said “Good! It’s too early. I was just asking that to test you. If you’d said yes I would have known you were making it up.” At the time I laughed, but now I’m just pissed off at the assumption (even in humor) that a pregnant woman’s perceptions of her own bodily sensations are up for mocking, questioning, and pre-emptively disbelieving.

He had me lie on the table, and then addressed my husband. “Are you responsible for this?” High-larious, dude.

He showed my husband how to use his hands to feel for my fundus, which was kind of cool, I must admit, and I tried to get him to show me once we got home but I couldn’t find it. Once they had found it, the doctor whipped out a pen and started drawing on my belly. (See Fig. 1.)

He outlined my uterus (and labeled it “uterus” in his inscrutable doctor’s handwriting) with a ballpoint pen. On my belly. During my appointment. While addressing only my husband.

Was I even fucking there?

I mean, seriously, does this sound OK to you? I know I have kind of a thin skin, and it’s true that Hormones are making me Feel Things lately, but the whole thing felt very dehumanizing to me. And if I’m not totally manufacturing my dudgeon, should I call the clinic?**

I think probably the best course of action is just to hope that (a) I don’t have to see that doctor again, and (b) his actual, you know, clinical skills far surpass his sense of humor.

* Today? Yesterday? Who can say when I’m blogging at 4:30 in the morning?

** And tell them what? “Excuse me, but the doctor drew on my belly and it made me uncomfortable?” Even I know that sounds loony.

the worst pregnant lady ever — a sordid confession

I had to go on a little internet diet for a while there due to Reasons. (Explanation below, but first the short version for those who were worried.)

Still pregnant. 10w4d. Still shocked every day that I wake up and it hasn’t all gone to hell.

Last week I was a featured artist at a music festival. I committed to this almost a year ago, before we had even done the IUIs, and it never occurred to me that I might show up pregnant. Let me tell you, it was HARD. I did lots and lots of bad-pregnant-lady stuff to get through it. In fact I think I may be the Worst Pregnant Lady Ever, and if there is a live baby in my future I am quite sure he or she will come out shaking his or her tiny adorable fist at me.

If you’re still trying, be warned — there is some Ungrateful Pregnant Bitching and Moaning ahead. Were I in your shoes I would either click away or start pre-emptively rolling my eyes.

I have the easiest job in the world, which consists of sitting in a cubicle and making shit up.* So work isn’t super stressful, but while I was preparing to do the festival it was just about all I could handle to get my sorry ass to work, come home and practice. I think I said it in a previous post, but I didn’t know tired like this existed. I will be very interested to see (presuming we get there) how tired-because-newborn compares to tired-because-pregnant. I suspect they are quite different. So. Work, then lying on the couch trying to get up enough energy to practice, then bed. I was a Fun, Fun Lady for a few weeks there.

I did exactly what I needed to do to get through it, which included giving in to cravings and aversions, and eating things that I would not have believed possible a few months ago. Like, for instance, did you know that food comes in cans? As in, you don’t have to stand in the kitchen smelling all the food smells that used to be amazing and now are terrible, but can instead just tell your husband to open said can and heat up the contents? And did you know that sugar exists? Because for a few weeks there I was eating sweets like they were a new invention. This is deeply weird for me. I’m one of those sanctimonious make-it-from-scratch whole foods assholes, and that all went to hell when my nausea got bad. I couldn’t stand to be in the kitchen and I let a lot of perfectly good food spoil because I couldn’t bring myself to cook or eat it. So I sent my husband to the grocery store and he came back with things I would have rejected SO HARD before.

The Wise Internet says that the proper response to nausea is to ease into the day, not getting up too early, then to eat a wholesome breakfast consisting of whole grains and fresh fruit. After my lovely breakfast I am to do some appropriate low-impact exercise (yoga, or walking, or swimming). Either before or after the exercise I am to spend at least ten minutes quietly thinking about, or talking to, the fetus. Only after I have accomplished these things am I to go to work, where I am to take a walk at least once an hour.

Yeah, I didn’t do any of that.

I stayed in bed as much as possible, then ate frozen french fries and canned soup and apple slices and popsicles and cookies (so many cookies). For weeks. I am apparently four years old.

And that’s where the Bad Pregnant Lady stuff comes in.

  • Rolling out of bed for work? Check.
  • Processed food? Check.
  • Too much sugar? Check.
  • Not enough (OK, any) exercise? Check.
  • Inability to believe there is a live fetus in my uterus? Check.

And then I got to the festival.

Shockingly, my nausea did not magically go away just because I had to be on stage six times over the course of three days. (I know, right?)

So what did I do? I POUNDED diet ginger ale. Lovely fizzy gingery chemicals, settling my stomach right the fuck down and likely poisoning my fetus.

Then we got home and I felt a lot better. I’m hoping the worst of the nausea is over, and I even cooked twice this week (yay!), but then The Craving hit. It needs to be capitalized because it goes so far beyond any desire for food I’ve ever felt before.

All I could think about was Japanese food.

A Japanese restaurant just opened in our town,** which is amazing and delightful (“ethnic” food here means homestyle Italian and truly appalling “Chinese” buffet), and I want so much for them to NOT CLOSE DOWN. I have brought this up at least daily over the last week, and I know my husband is really ready for me to stop talking about cold soba and seaweed salad and pickled ginger. And sushi.

Lovely fresh clean delicious cool sushi.

I think you can see where this is going. We decided to go to dinner at said Japanese restaurant last night, and I called my doctor’s office to check on The Sushi Question. It seems people are divided on this, and of course no one in Japan stops eating sushi just because they’re pregnant (or so went my rationalization), so I thought it was worth a try to see what they would say. The nurse was frank: “We don’t recommend that you eat that.”

And we got to the restaurant and I ate it anyway.

I had two lovely, melt-in-your-mouth pieces of salmon sushi.*** It was quite possibly the most amazing thing I have ever eaten.

And now guilt has overtaken me. I am not sure if I am looking to be reassured, judged, or both — but these (the cookies, the processed food, the diet pop, the sushi) are the things I have done to get through the first 10 weeks.

Maybe I will be able to do better starting in week 11.

* Seriously. It’s totally bizarre. I got promoted from data-entry land to something more creative, and every once in a while I look up and say, “They’re paying me for this?”

** Strangely, the craving started before I knew about the restaurant. I got a flyer in the mail for this new place that was promising exactly what I wanted SO MUCH, and it was like mailing drugs to an addict.

*** I did check on mercury levels — salmon is supposedly one of the better ones.