Friday, July 29, 2011

Laboring On and On

I assumed that my failure to answer "How long were you in labor?" with Dianthus was because he was induced and I spent an extra day in the hospital with "unproductive" contractions. This time, I was sure, it would happen "naturally" and I would be able to answer the question definitively.
That's hardly the case.
It turns out that I'm really not sure what counts when people ask about labor. The process is much less well defined than I imagined.
I'm fairly certain I wouldn't count the contractions I had on Wednesday that made me tell everyone Thursday that the baby would arrive over the weekend. And I wouldn't say I was in labor 3 a.m. Thursday when contractions dragged me from bed and prevented me from falling back asleep**. 3 a.m. Friday morning I was awakened again by contractions and one could fairly say that I was in labor, because I didn't stop having contractions until RuthRob emerged. Of course, one could fairly say that I wasn't in labor because they weren't painful contractions coming at even intervals. Then again, if one goes with contractions at regular short intervals defining labor, I may never have been in it, or my mother or mother-in-law if I correctly understand their stories.
My water broke sometime Friday afternoon. I realized it about 7 p.m. (yes, it is possible for the amniotic membranes to rupture without one realizing it). I was in the hospital about 8, cervix dilated 3-4 cm, but so far back in my body that it took 3 nurses to find it. At that time, lying down and strapped to 7 cords (monitors for fetal heart rate, contractions, blood pressure and my heart rate, an IV and blow up cuffs on each leg to prevent blood clots), my contractions eased up considerably-- was I in labor? Or was it not until 1:30 a.m. when the contractions (strengthened by pitocin) made me gasp each time. Or 3:30, when I was measured at 6-7 cm? Or 4:15 or so when I told the Mister to get the nurses because I was about to push the baby out? Or 4:56 when the doctor told me I could go ahead and push so RuthRob could emerge at 4:57*?
So, depending how you count, I was in labor 48, 24, 12, 9, 5, 3, or 1 1/2 hours, or 1 push.
I'm genuinely curious-- those of you who ask or have been asked this question, what do you count?
In any case, one week ago and 2 years ago, I was in labor, of sorts. Happy one week to RuthRob and two years to sweet Dianthus.

*For a long time I thought that labor was the same as pushing, so was absolutely in awe of women who had 12 hour labors.

**Which is when I finished Heart of the Matter, by the way. If you read the June or July STIR books, please let me know.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Black Widow Bite Was Worse

Labor was not fun, and not pushing because I was suddenly ready and the doctor wasn't here when my body was ready for pushing was torturous, but altogether, bringing Dianthus's little brother out this morning was less painful than the black widow bite.
Anyway, our second son emerged right about 5 a.m. this morning. He weighs 7 lbs. 6.9 oz. and is sleeping soundly at the moment. The rest of us are all okay, too.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

And that was before I started molting

Contrary the impression one may have gleaned from earlier posts (like this about early physical symptoms and my recent self-description as weepy and irritable), I have been generally healthy throughout this pregnancy. Queasiness subsided at the end of the first trimester, my weight gain and blood pressure have been good, my ankles have not swollen, and RuthRob has always demonstrated good growth, kicks and heart rate, despite phantom heart holes and whatever caused her brain ventricles to swell. Still I remain surprised at how very different this pregnancy feels compared to my pregnancy with Dianthus and how many uncomfortable and irritating symptoms I've encountered that turn out to be "normal".
So, at the risk of making SalSis squirmy again, here's a further list of issues I've encountered with pregnancy, reported in order to help you grasp the huge range of what's normal and healthy:
Pain in the butt: Fortunately, it was only for a week, but there were a few evenings when every change in position led to acute pain in the rear end. Turns out RuthRob just hit my sciatic nerve for a while. Had to convince my doctor that I was being literal when I asked about it, but she eventually laughed and told me it's normal and should go away.
Red patch of not-zits: I'm not even totally sure if the red, sorta-flaky, sometimes rash-like patch of skin that's been on my face since March is actually pregnancy related, but red patches, zits, and dry patches are all listed as "common" in pregnancy so the combination very well could be.
Varicose veins where one doesn't want them: Okay, I'm not sure where one would want varicose veins, and I'm fortunate not to have hemorrhoids or visible varicose veins on the legs, but it was still startling to find little black bumps on sensitive skin I don't ordinarily see. V.v.s are considered common in pregnancy.
Fatigue to the point that I watch Wheel of Fortune every day.
Yeast infection: I've never been diagnosed with a yeast infection before this week. Oh my. Boy do those of you who frequently deal with such fire on the crotch have my sympathy. Yeast infections are "very common" any time in pregnancy.
Black widow bite: Unlike all of the above, not mentioned in the pregnancy books. But if there are, on average 2,500 reported black widow bites in the US each year, and about 4 million women are pregnant each year, and if having a black widow bite is independent of pregnancy (and I see no reason why it should not be), there are an average of 30 pregnant women with black widow bites in the US each year. I should be so lucky.
And then there's the molting. (image of the skin peeling off of my hand goes here).

Don't worry, this is the last pregnancy post. Unless I still happen to be pregnant next week.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Bring on the grandparents

Every weekend recently is a long weekend, and generally not in a good way. Dianthus doesn't seem to get that we can't go play when it is over 100 out (and once a week we have an official high of 98 but otherwise it has been over 100 since we returned from May travels). We're in a small town with no mall, no ice rink, no children's museum, no indoor play area, and no shady mountain or lake escapes: once we go to Walmart (which we did on both Saturday and Sunday) we've pretty well exhausted the air conditioned public spaces.
I'm sweaty, irritable, nine-months pregnant and feeling it. The Mister is dealing with an irritable wife, a classically two-year old son and a scorched landscape. He's feeling it.
Fortunately for us, my mother arrives Wednesday, my father arrives the next week and the Mister's parents are hopefully visiting shortly therafter.
Still, I'll admit that as I look towards August with a newborn, a two-year-old and a continued "exceptional" drought, I'm scared.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Why The Mister is Right For Me, Part X to X+2 of N

x. He follows international women's soccer.

x+1. He's the best at playing bucking bronco with Dianthus.

x+2. He mentioned, quite seriously (and accurately), "I think we're more like Harry and Ginny than Ron and Hermione."

Summer STIR updates and requests

Jennifer and I are starting to discuss The Secret Eleanor. If you read it, let me know so we can include you in the discussion.
Janet and I are both enjoying Graham Greene's The Heart of the Matter. I'm still not sure where it is going, and if I really want to go there, but as Janet points out, the "writing is fabulous. I just love the way he puts things and the details he notes." THofM feels like a book of substance: extremely well written and addressing real issues (colonial politics in wartime, marriage past its prime, and I think we're about to get some spying), without being a chore to read. (I'm reading a large print edition, so the pages turn very quickly, but I imagine I'd be cruising through a normal font as well, and it's only 288 pages long in normal). Let me know if you'd like to join us on it.
I'm accepting recommendations for books to read in labor (as this baby is not going to be induced, I hope I do not have as much sitting around strapped to monitor time as I did with Dianthus, but it wouldn't hurt to have the right book at the ready) and books to read while nursing. The limiting factor of nursing books is that they need to be paperbacks that I can bend in weird ways and hold with one hand (yes, I suppose a Kindle would solve the problem but I have a hard time seeing me pulling out an electronic device at 3 in the morning) and preferably fun and fast-paced. In irritating induced labor with Dianthus, I wanted Endurance, an adventure of people far-worse off than me (and inspiringly hopeful), and during early breastfeeding Lloyd Alexander's Pyridian Chronicles were fabulous. I guess I'm looking for light but not trashy, engaging but can be absorbed in small doses, and generally up-beat.

Friday, July 8, 2011

How sweet that vacuum is!: the pragmatic romantics take on iron and candy

I'm a romantic. I surround myself with fresh flowers, will willingly pay for delicious food, and soak myself in long, scented baths. I cry at weddings, at happy endings, and sometimes Hallmark commercials. I love stories of Hope, Love, overcoming odds, and the glories of Nature. My parents are romantics, my brother is a romantic, and, cleverly disguised by his geeky exterior, the Mister is a romantic, too.
Yet, when, after we had been dating about a month, the Mister swooned, "You're so pragmatic," I took it as the compliment that had been intended.
I asked for, and received, a simple band for an engagement ring.
After our wedding, we worked and wrote thank-you notes for a week before we spent the first night of our honeymoon in Newark, NJ (and the rest, to the bafflement of local bartenders, in Newfoundland). We're practical as well as romantic.
Still, I am somewhat surprised at how very excited we both are about our anniversary present to each other: a new, super-suction, giant beast of a vacuum cleaner.
Happy six years Sweetie!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Black Widow Bites Lucky Pregnant Woman

There is just so much good blogging potential in being hospitalized for a black widow bite at 36 weeks pregnant (at the beginning of a holiday weekend, right after my husband and son had left town) that I hate to write about it when I'm not up to the witty post that will do it justice.
But I want your sympathy and I want you to know what's going on, so I'll stick to a basically factual post.
Thursday morning a black widow bit me in my right underarm. I did not notice at the time.
Thursday morning I also brushed a spider off of my stomach (while sitting at my kitchen table) it was black with red on its abdomen, but not what I think a black widow should look like (i.e. no distinct hourglass).
Thursday about noon the Mister and Dianthus headed north to the in-laws for the weekend and I was looking forward to getting some stuff done around the house.
Thursday morning (prior to the bite) I also had a hormonal crying jag and was sweaty because it was over 100 degrees here already. Rutherford Robinia has also been recently putting pressure on my pelvis and abdomen in weird (relative to Dianthus as a fetus) and very uncomfortable ways, although not so much on Thursday morning.
Those last two lines are added to explain why, when I started sweating profusely, having abdominal and back pain and wanting to cry, and saw that the sharp stabbing pain under my arm was a spider bite, I did not immediately seek medical attention-- who wants to be a hypochondriac when you're also pregnant weepy and suddenly alone for the weekend?
But my symptoms exactly matched those of a black widow bite and were not going away and it was lunchtime, so I drove myself to the "convenient care clinic" two blocks away. I described something incorrectly, spoke too coherently, and they must be more used to drug addicts or something, because they paid absolutely no attention to the fact that I was in such pain that I was unable to sit in the waiting room, was sweating everywhere, and probably short of breath-- told me is wasn't a venomous spider and sent me home with a prescription for antibiotics.
I went home, tried to nap, tried to take a shower, tried to cry, tried to use yoga breathing to breathe through the pain, tried to feel if RuthRob was moving and failed miserably on all counts. I thought at the time that whatever I was feeling, it was worse than labor, because at least during labor I knew why my body was in such an uncomfortable state and that the pain would not last forever.
Perhaps a bit foolishly, considering that the pain was in my legs by this time and I wasn't totally sure I could control the gas pedal, I drove myself to my OB's office about two miles away.
She had seen me in good health and good spirits at a check up that morning so everyone in her office immediately knew that something was wrong as I stumbled in in my sweaty state.
They checked RuthRob whose heart was beating just fine, checked with a family doc (my OB is, shockingly, not an expert on venomous spider bites) who agreed that it certainly could be a black widow and that RuthRob and I should be monitored, and had a nurse drive me to the hospital (a block away).
Soon all sorts of testing began (they took blood for cardiac enzymes and ran an EKG-- someone asked later if a heart attack is a common symptom of a black widow bite-- the answer is no, but a heart attack is a common cause of a person sweating uncontrollably with fluctuating pulse and blood pressure, shortness of breath, tight chest and intense pain in the arm) and another super-uncomfortable hour or two ensued as there was absolutely no position that was not painful-- but I kept squirming trying to find the elusive less-painful position, which is not not advised while hooked up to fetal monitors, an IV line and oxygen. The nurses did a fairly good job of trying to keep me talking about other stuff, but later revealed that I was in really bad shape.
Long story a bit shorter-- after fans, oxygen, fluids, time and care have kicked in and I can speak a sentence-- I realized that it's Thursday and not Friday and I do know somebody in town. The nurse called my fabulous secretary who came by, bringing good cheer and good sense and helped me contact my parents who helped me contact the Mister's parents so that the Mister could arrive at their house from a 5 1/2 hour drive with a 23 month old in 100 degree heat to learn that his wife was in the hospital.
The doctor told me that it was a black widow bite, that the toxin is very rarely fatal*, and that most of the things that could make me feel better (antivenom, narcotics, muscle relaxants) are unsafe during pregnancy. I'm told I will be observed overnight, at least, to find out how much my muscles deteriorate, and because most symptoms are likely to reoccur.
A miserable night (but much better than the afternoon) ensued (with the interesting added bonus that was pumped with so many fluids that there is a three hour stretch between 1 and 3 am during which I peed 700-900 mL an hour!). The baby remained great throughout, at least judging by heart rate and movement.
They discharged me in the morning. I returned home and a woozy swollen day ensues. The Mister and Dianthus returned home Friday afternoon.
I still feel suddenly tired, hot and then cold, and weak in spells today, but am much better.
I am to expect such symptoms to fade, but will not be surprised if they persist in spells.

So that's the story. Witty and weird take may come later. In the meantime, stay away from venomous spiders.
*This is supposed to be reassuring, but as I really didn't think that I was going to die once I made it to the hospital, it had somewhat the opposite effect.