If you haven’t already, see Part One here.
I fell apart. In all my worries, never once had I worried that my baby wouldn’t be healthy. I had to call my husband to take me home. He handled this news like he did everything else. Okay, we’ll deal with it. I did not handle it quite so well, by which I mean I FREAKED THE HECK OUT.
My counselor who was thinking “Great she’s doing better.” heard this news and actually uttered a curse word. He was in for it. I will always remember his kindness, because he saw me many, many times while I was expecting, often writing off my visits since I was poor. He kept me sane and out of the hospital. Sadly, he died just a couple of years later of a brain tumor. But I will never, ever forget him.
As it turned out, Thing Two’s brain was just fine – better than fine as we’d later learn. The specialist’s assistant looked at my belly, and then the specialist looked at my belly – and tried to walk right out of the room. I yelled at him to stop and asked how my baby was – after all I’d waited two weeks, fearing the worst but at last accepting that I would love this baby no matter what. He said in his thick accent, “Look like healthy baby girl.”
And she was, thankfully, very, very healthy. In fact, she was a soccer champion, kicking me constantly. My husband noted that she did this far more than Thing One because I complained far more than I did with Thing One. He also thought he should get to name Thing Two since I named Thing One. I told him, great, that’s fair, how’s about you also carry and birth this one? He shut up, but still refused to agree on a name with me.
As I got closer to the birth, weird things continued to happen. I started getting dizzy and short of breath when out in public. The doctors tested me for iron deficiency but I was just fine. Totally normal during pregnancy, they said. I also would sometimes get shooting pains when Thing Two shifted to certain areas, prompting me to simply stand where I was, trapped in some random aisle of Wal-Mart until I was rescued. This was also totally normal in pregnancy. I was fairly certain they would have told me growing a second head was also totally normal in pregnancy.
Thing One was very excited about the baby prospect, though she didn’t really understand it. I bought her a doll house and a family complete with a baby. She put the baby in the closet under the stairs, Harry Potter style. I would put it into the crib and she’d come back later, frown, and diligently move the baby back under the stairs. I was slightly concerned for Thing Two.
Labor was definitely different this time around. For one thing, I experienced actual labor pains. I did not like them. I went to the hospital, was told I wasn’t having good enough contractions, and sent home. Thing One went to her grandparents, but before she did she peeped over my hospital bed and said “I love you, Mommy” for the first time. I think I worried her just a bit.
Good thing she didn’t see me later. When I went back to the hospital after a few hours, I was in pain, and it was bad. The nurse put an outside baby monitor on me and said I was a big fakey whiner, essentially, because the monitor showed my contractions weren’t strong at all! I told her that the outside monitor didn’t work on my first child, so they used an internal one. Since my water had this time refused to break on its own, they couldn’t do that. So the nurse just rolled her eyes when I screamed bloody murder.
My husband finally related that you know, generally my wife doesn’t scream so loudly you can hear her down the halls of the hospital unless she’s actually, you know, in real pain. The nurse huffed and let me have some demerol, which was THE BEST THING EVER at least for a little while. My husband left to get a sandwich. About that time, the doctor finally showed up to check me and SURPRISE SURPRISE I had progressed from a 2 to an 8 with those teensy tinsey contractions! Go figure!
They hurriedly gave me my epidural and got my husband back upstairs. He didn’t get to eat his sandwich. Sadface for him. Since they waited so long to give the epidural, I found that it didn’t have time to actually work all the way. They still charged me all the way later, though. At any rate, I did manage to push anyway. At one point my husband said, look, the head! This was the point at which I decided I never wanted to see that part of me again, thanks. Minutes later, Thing Two arrived in the world weighing 8 pounds, a pound and a half bigger than her sister. And she was almost two weeks early. I am thankful I never went full term. I’d have had Hercules.
She had a bright red face and a shock of Pat Benatar-like black hair. After staying with me through that screeching labor, my husband declared “She can name the baby anything she wants.” I should have taken him up on that and named her something far out like Pocahontas, but fortunately for her, I chose a more suitable name. (Hint: their names are not actually Thing One and Thing Two, though it would not surprise me if there are real children out there with those names, considering there is a baby named North West.)
When we brought her home, we were told that I was not to carry the baby in with me so that Thing One would not feel like she was being replaced. So when I walked in and tried to hug my eldest, she placed her hands on her hips and demanded “Where is my baby sister?” Ah, well, so much for that. She thought Thing Two was the best thing ever invented, at least for a couple of years.
And you’ll be happy to know, she was never put under the stairs.
A long time back, I wrote about the baby story of Thing One. Thing Two has been most irritated that I have not written about her yet. There is a reason for this. A lot of that story is filled with OH THE HORROR but I will try to recall it for her sake.
Once we had Thing One a few years, we figured we pretty much had this parenting thing down. I wanted another one, because I had STUPID which makes one think BABIEZZ all the time. My husband was thinking more about diapers and money and our tiny house, but I was much more practical. I thought BABIEZZ. When we didn’t agree, I wrote a diary entry whining about how incredibly unfair life was. I also told several other people at a marriage retreat about my sob story. At this point, I was already pregnant, which people greatly enjoyed pointing out to me later. Ha ha.
I took the pregnancy test and bang I got just what I wanted so obviously I started to PANIC like crazy. What were we going to do? We couldn’t afford a baby! We had no idea what we were doing with Thing One! When in danger, when in doubt, run in terror, scream and shout. There was an entry in the baby book that asked what you first thought when you found out you were expecting the bundle of joy. Terror did not seem like a nice thing to put in a baby book.
My husband, in typical fashion, just took it in stride like he always does. Oh, a baby. Okay. Well, I have anxiety and depression, and combine that with pregnancy hormones and boy do you have a whale of a lot of fun. Speaking of whales, I didn’t show in my pregnancy with Thing One until well into my 5th month. With Thing Two, I was showing as soon as the stick turned pink. I tried on my old maternity clothes and they were already too small. Not a good sign.
In keeping with the animal theme, I was also sick as a dog, again, something I had conveniently forgotten about it. Only this time, I got to take care of a three-year-old at the same time. A three-year-old who had not yet potty-trained because hey, someone would change her diaper right? This is a theme that continues with Thing One. Why do it when someone else will eventually get around to doing it for you? Smart kid. For instance, she had a great way of letting us know she’ d like some juice, please.
We had a slight communication problem going on because, as it turned out, Thing One had a verbal delay. Her Sunday School teacher informed me about this, saying that by now she should be speaking in complete sentences. My husband and I just thought we were really lucky to have a quiet kid. Parenting Fail. So I took her to a school and had her tested and found out she was way behind in a lot of areas, at least according to them. “Hums herself to sleep as an infant” was not on their list. I thought their list sucked, but more on that in another post.
The plus side of this was that they were willing to take her in a preschool program without her being potty-trained. Hallelujah! Just one problem. I was so sick at this point that I couldn’t venture far without my good pal, bucket. Many times I was in debt to my mother, who drove 15 miles to take Thing One to school when I was too green to climb out of bed.
I was also a big, whiny lump. While pregnant with Thing One I managed to teach two graduate classes while also taking two graduate classes. She was born less than a month after I finished my studies. With Thing Two I was lucky to be able to walk from one side of the house to the other without either bawling or puking or some combination of both. Thing One was either blissfully unaware most of the time or she was ignoring me, it was kind of hard to tell at that point.
Once I got past the worst of the morning sickness, I thought, hey, maybe I can make it. We got a sonogram done, and I was anxious to find out what the gender was. The technician told me confidently that she had never not been able to tell the gender of a baby. She tried to get a lock on Thing Two, not knowing that my obgyn had tried that earlier and couldn’t even get a heartbeat because as soon as her stethescope touched me, Thing Two kicked her off and moved, then did it again, and again. Thing Two had attitude from conception, I’m fairly certain.
She kept her knees together stubbornly. The tech was determined though, and got her to turn over in my stomach. She did, keeping her legs together the entire time. Finally the tech gave up, concluding that it must be a girl because the boys liked to show off their, um, parts early on while the girls were more demure. Yes, demure, that sooo describes my Thing Two.
What I didn’t know at that time, was that they were also taking measurements and they found one they didn’t like. So I went back the next month, and later was told something absolutely terrifying. There was a possibility Thing Two might have down syndrome or possibly fluid on her brain. The doctor was new, and just told me this casually in her office. How would I find out? Oh, I could see a specialist. IN TWO WEEKS.
To be continued . . . but not in two weeks, promise.
For Part One of A Baby Story, see here. Now for the conclusion – I promise!
One thing was missing with this whole birth thing. The labor part. They had a solution for that. They were going to give me Pitocin to start labor since baby broke my water and apparently decided to go back to sleep. But then no one came for an hour, because someone had an emergency C-section. By the time they got back, labor had started on its own. There was some pain now, but a solution. Demerol. Oh, Demerol, my good friend, how do I love thee? My husband flipped channels and settled on Nascar. I watched the cars go round and round the track. Wheeee! I was seriously high. God, I miss Demerol. That would have been cool to have the entire pregnancy.
They put a baby monitor around my belly, but it didn’t work, because my baby was like, pfft, you ain’t measuring me, just like you couldn’t tell for certain what sex I was. Suckers. So I got an internal monitor, which is just as much fun as it sounds. I went to sleep for a few hours. Things were mellow. The nurses said I probably wouldn’t deliver until like late that night, cause first babies, right? My in-laws walked in and I was like, “hellllooooo” and then realized that I felt all this pressure which made the nurse freak out a bit and get the doctor. Hey, wow, turned out I was having the baby that afternoon, not that evening. I think now she overheard them and decided to once more screw with their minds.
I got an epidural and then came the fun pushing stuff that they always make you watch on TLC but which I won’t force you to endure here. One nurse did inform me I would have hemorrhoids which I was totes worried about while pushing out a freaking baby. But then she came, and the doctor said it was a girl, and my father and husband cried while my mother and I did the “yes” sign because while we said we only wanted healthy, hells yeah we wanted a girl. Thing One, my millennial baby, had arrived.
She was supposed to be tiny, like five pounds because she was early. She was 6 and a half pounds. We have enormous babies in our family. I was a nine pounder. Not surprising I was also the last baby. Anyway, everything checked out great with her, except a bit of jaundice, something about not keeping herself warm enough, and oh yeah, she didn’t cry. At all. The doctors kept poking at her but she was like, what? They took her to the nursery, and I saw this part on film. They bathed her and combed her hair and she looked mildly annoyed but still didn’t cry. When they put her back in the bassinet she was just lying there, waving her arms and legs, studying the dust motes. A doctor said he was tempted to put a chemistry book in there with her, since she was so serious.
Thing One continued to sleep through the day and part of the night (except the part where we usually go into a deep sleep) for about a month. I think she was trying to get in what she missed in the womb. It was great, though, because she totally became my doll. I dressed her in her new clothes, sat her in the bouncy seat, took pictures, dressed her in different clothes, etc. There was a lot of pink. My husband said it was like someone threw up pepto bismal all over the closet. I liked pink though, so I thought it was great. My friend and I dragged her everywhere with us. To the movies (snore), to the mall (snore), to get professional pictures made (snore and drool).
Then my friend had to go back home. And I was alone. With baby. And holy crap, she woke up, and woke up in a big way. And things have never been the same since. She continued, as she grew, to not do what the baby books said she was supposed to do when she was supposed to do it. She scoffed at the growth charts – who needed to be on those? Petite was totally in. And why crawl or walk when someone got you crap when you needed it? She did all these things eventually, just not “on time”. She did hum “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star” to herself as an infant, as she lay in her crib perfectly content, still staring at the dust motes. That wasn’t in the baby books. So I tossed them. I loved my Thing One just like she was. And I thought, wow, she’s such a good baby mostly, sitting there calmly playing with toys, and so quiet and sweet, wow, this parenting thing is not that hard. What is wrong with some people? And then karma did raise its ugly head, and I got pregnant with Thing Two. But that’s another baby story.
Before I begin, I want to give out a PSA to all you soon to be first time parents out there. You’ve just had the stick turn blue (or pink or say pregnant for the colorblind and/or exceptionally stupid) and you’ve got plans for just how the pregnancy is going to go. You will have a blissful nine months of looking like that serene lady in the rocking chair on the cover of What To Expect When You’re Expecting. Then when it comes time for baby to make his debut (by now you will know the sex and have its name printed out on the nursery wall and shower invites and everything else you can think of) you will not go to a sterile hospital with modern medical equipment. No, no, you will lie in a field of wildflowers and pleasantly give birth with Yoga breaths as a deer nestles your nose.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but whatever your plans are, drop them immediately. More than likely, they aren’t going to happen. As soon as you are “with child” you are “without plans”. Nothing will go the way you think because now there is someone else on board. The baby will do whatever the hell it wants no matter what you want because babies are devious little creatures.
Mine certainly were. Thing One made me sick as a dog. Where did that expression come from? Are dogs prone to serious illness? Anyway, I was sick for a solid four months. This did not help with my depression, surprisingly. I lost ten pounds. People were jealous that I was not showing yet. I was jealous that they weren’t puking their guts up. Still, I taught English classes to bored freshmen – or rather handed them notes and laid my head on the desk. Also I continued to attend my own graduate courses, although with even less enthusiasm than before, which was rather impressive.
Once I got past the so-called “morning sickness”, I was much better. I got an excuse to buy new clothes, even if they were maternity clothes. My fellow teaching assistant informed me that I could not have a baby because I was too cynical and I hated children. Pfft. I was fine. Well, until I started getting dizzy spells and eating ice like mad. Turned out I was anemic – the first true carnivore ever to be diagnosed with this. I got to take iron horse pills and that cleared up. My husband and I went to Lamaze classes where I was to learn how to breathe a certain way that would keep me from having pain while shoving a big old baby out of a rather small opening. All of us women looked at the picture of the cervix dialating to ten centimeters and decided we wanted off the ride.
People will tell you pregnancy is a magical experience. Do not believe these people. Pregnancy is freaking weird. You’re basically harboring a parasite. Once it gets a little bigger you will start to feel its movements and it’s all cute at first oooh a little tap. Then the kid really gets into it, and you can see your skin contort back and forth and suddenly you are in Aliens. Your boobs and stomach expand to places you never thought they would go. You will probably put lotion on thinking you will prevent stretch marks. You are stupid. You may also go into changing rooms with three way mirrors. You will feel and look like Elsie the cow.
I had a birth plan. Drugs. I’m not a big fan of pain, and somehow, I just kind of figured childbirth would involve some of that. And while I realize this is controversial, I can’t see the baby minding them much either. Childbirth has to freak them the hell out. They need some mellow. I continued taking the classes where they taught us how to recognize labor pains. Then one night, almost a month before I was due, I went to the restroom at about 2 AM. And I was peeing, but not. WTF. I informed my husband that I was leaking. We’d just fixed the toilet, so he was like, “Meh, it’s okay.” I made him get up. We both tried to figure out what to do as liquid continued to spill out of me. Duh. “Do we like, call a doctor or something?”, we dumbed.
We did and he told us to go to the hospital. I sat on a towel in the car. Poor towel. When we got there, they had me lay on a cart and wheeled me to my room that way, which was kind of scary, like I was in an episode of E.R. only no George Clooney. After a while, my doctor decided to wake up and head over. He said we were having a baby. I was not ready for this. I had one more Lamaze class to learn how to breathe and all that shit. We’d just put a car seat in the car the night before. We were totally unprepared, cause you know, crap, we still had a month, right? We called my parents who also thought this timing sucked. But Thing One thought the timing was a-okay. Like I said – babies do whatever the hell they want.
See the stunning conclusion (like, do you think I’ll have a baby or an emu or what?) tomorrow . . .