Well, THAT was an experience!!
I am, of course, talking about childbirth. The baby girl is now almost four weeks old and Mike and I are adjusting to our sleep-deprived lives as new parents. ADJUSTMENT is right. Did we have ANY idea how difficult it is to care for a newborn?? Hell no! The overwhelming emotion we felt upon leaving the hospital: OVERWHELMED. We were overwhelmed with overwhelment. I think we both looked like deer-caught-in-the-headlights people. Looking at our tiny, precious baby, all we could say to each other was: OH MY GOD. WHAT DO WE DO NOW???
First off, I went into labor a week ahead of my due date. Which was bad, bad news since I was hoping to finish Au Pairs 4: Crazy Hot before the baby came. Which meant I was IN DENIAL about being in labor. My thinking was, "I can’t be in labor, I have a book due!"
But when your water breaks, you have to have your baby in twenty four hours due to the risk of infection.
So off to Cedars-Sinai we went. It was all pretty surreal. Contractions actually weren’t as bad as I thought. I think it was because I had had a miscarraige, so I had experienced that crampy pain before. When we got to the hospital, I was already 4 cm dilated and 100 percent effaced (both terms those of you who have had children know the meaning, and those of you who don’t, I’ll spare the icky details. Just know it meant the baby was coming soon!). The nurse couldn’t believe I had gotten to 4cm all on my own without any drugs.
Mike and I proudly told her about all the Lamaze and breathing exercises we had done, which really really helped. So a few hours later, we were moved from our tiny pre-labor room into our labor and delivery room, complete with fab pullout couch and flat screen tv. Everything was clean and renovated and gorge. The contractions were becoming more and more painful but with the breathing, I was still able to bear it. Finally, when I was about 5.5 cm, I asked for the epidural.
I was always going to have the epidural. I’m not one of those freelovin natural birth ladies. Hell no! Give me drugs!!! I love Cedars because we went to this Epidural Class (they call it Pain Management Class) and the anesthesiologist told us the epidural was actually invented and perfected at Cedars and that they would make sure "I had a good time." Woohoo.
Epidural kicks in. It feels awesome. The monitor is showing huge contractions but all I feel is euphoric…I go to 7 cm, 8.5, 9, and finally 10. However, baby is still way up above in the pelvis, not even down to "zero station" which is where you can start pushing. My doctor had told us I might need a planned c-section because she was worried I wouldn’t be able to get the baby out, "baby is looking huge" she said.
The nurse and the OB/GYN resident check me out. Baby is in face-up position (not a great one for vaginal delivery). So they decide to WEAN me off the epidural to hopefully INDUCE the baby to come out. Of course, they do this WITHOUT telling me so gradually I start feeling some PAIN. Just out of the blue. Like in my NECK. Which is so weird. I totally didn’t even think it was part of labor, just the way I was lying on the hospital bed. But apparently it was.
So finally, after I whined and begged, they put me back on the epidural. Ahhh, Bliss…. Then four hours later, baby is still not coming down the pike, so they take me off again. And decide I should now try to push.
I have to say at this point, I was feeling EVERY contraction, and oh my goodness, that hurt like a MOTHER. It was seriously the most pain I have ever felt. It’s like being ripped in two. I think it wouldn’t have hurt so much if the baby actually was coming down. But she was stuck. And you know how they make you give birth now?
Well, let me tell you. First, a nurse holds one of your feet, and your husband holds the other. Then they tell you to push when you feel a contraction. Apparently I was not pushing the right way, because the doctor then had the nurse bring out A MIRROR. And hold it up to your YOU KNOW WHAT.
And the doctor keeps saying "Look at the head! Concentrate! Focus! Bring the baby out!"
And all I could think was, OH MY GOD, THAT IS SOOOO GROSS!!!! I can’t look at that!
Then they bring out this bar that you put your feet on and you try to push against it. All the while, with that mirror in your face.
All I can say is, I didn’t see the baby’s head. And I didn’t want to. Finally, after half an hour of pushing and pain. I was crying, sobbing, and seriously delirious..AND I have to add, totally NOT ON DRUGS. Which I did NOT want to be. Doctor finally said we had to have a c-section. And put me back on the epidural.
THANK THE LORD. It was such a relief to be back on the drip that the thought of a c-section was not that scary anymore. I was looking forward to it…
So they wheeled me into the operating room (the OR), they made Mike put on scrubs (he looked so cute in scrubs with the little plastic cap on his head) and off we went. Ok, so I have never had surgery before…did you know there are like TWENTY PEOPLE in the OR? There are so many doctors and assistants and nurses. It was a party in there.
And here’s what they do…they put you on this tiny little slab of a table (it was maybe two inches wider than I was). And they put you on there, NAKED. And while you’re lying there naked, all the people in the OR are just chatting, getting ready, sharpening their scalpels, whatever… and you’re like, just lying there naked. Totally surreal.
Then the anesthesiologist, a young guy with a really corny sense of humor (I’ll tell you the jokes he made later. Let’s just say the guy was no Dave Chapelle), switches you from an epidural to a full epidural block…which means you can’t feel anything from your neck down. And also, they make you lay your arms out to the side, so you look like Jesus on the Cross.
Then they put up the curtain, and get going. Fifteen minutes later, the baby was born. And oh my god, she was soooo beautiful. We cried, we took pictures, we kissed her madly. It was AWESOME. It made everything worth it. And she was so loud. A real screamer, which was great. Agpar nine! Six pounds and five ounces. 19 inches long. And gorgeous!!!!
Our family photo in the OR looks a lot like Anna Nicole Smith’s. So here’s Anna’s. Just picture me and Mike and baby in the place of Anna, lawyer/lover Howard and baby. Hee!
So apparently I had a fibroid the size of a baseball bat blocking her way down the pike, and also she had her hand to her face, that’s why it was so hard for her to come on down.
Finally we were sent to our room, and we had forgotten to request the VIP suites but whatever, they were all taken anyway, so we had to make do in a tiny little room, which I have to say, are NOT as nice as the labor and delivery rooms. NO flat screen.
I called my sister and she asked how I was doing, and I said i felt GREAT! No sweat!! She said, call me on day three, that’s when you start feeling it. Well, she was right. I forgot I was still on morphine. (Yummm morphine!) And I was even hallucinating a bit. But again, feeling NO PAIN so it was great.
The gross thing about having a c-section was that they don’t let you shower, since the wound is fresh, so I didn’t shower for FOUR DAYS. I was in the hospital on Sunday, and they didn’t let me shower until THURSDAY. On Wednesday my mom gave me a sponge bath since I was so grossed out by the LAYER OF GRIME on my body.
I had all these fantasies of having my friends visit, and being all cute and new-mom-glam in my cute new nursing outfits. But the reality was that I looked like a mess, my hair was a rats’ nest, and I was SWEATING in my hospital gown. Oh, also, when you come down from giving birth, your hormones work overtime, and I was like, having hot flashes. (Also, I got the shakes from labor. It was weird. And itch from the epidural. I felt like a heroin junkie.)
So yeah. Not very glam at all. Childbirth. It’s not glamorous.
Then we decided to room-in with the baby, so Mike and I were up every hour to feed and change her, and breastfeeding hurt like a MOTHER. My doctor visited us on day 3 and told us to send the baby to the nursery so we could get some rest. It was really really hard to send the baby to the nursery. I almost cried and couldn’t sleep. But it was also great to have some rest.
Anyway, I think I cried several times at the hospital just from the sheer enormity and intensity of the experience. Our pediatrician said it’s totally fine, all new moms cry a lot. Wow, I really sympathize with those post-partum depression sufferers. You are really happy to have a baby, but your hormones are so bonkers, you feel rage, emptiness, depression as well as joy and ecstasy.
I’m fine now. She’s the most precious thing to us. We sing her the Star Wars theme song to make her sleep. (Actually it’s the Imperial March.) And we call her "My Prehhhhshussss" as a joke as we hand her to each other. But seriously, she is just the cutest, most adorable and sweetest baby on earth!!!
I feel weird about blogging about my child. Although my writer friends tell me by the time she’s old enough to read this stuff, this stuff won’t even be online anymore. (Or will it?)
The hard part about new mommyhood is that I have all these deadlines I still have to finish, and it sucks because if I didn’t have to feed the kid every 2-3 hours, I could bang them out, but with the interruption, it’s hard to get the groove on. But, like anything, I’ve discovered that as long as you keep at it, the pages get chipped away, and I was able to turn in the first couple of chapters of AP4 to my editor this week and almost finish my horror story for Scholastic. PHEW. I thought my horror story was done but then I re-read it and I hated the ending so I rewrote it.
Sorry I have not been posting in a while. The shopping has ceased since I never leave the house, except to go to Target, where it seems I now must buy everything Behnaz Sarapfour has designed. And I’m so dying to go to Barneys since they have a sale… sigh. But with a newborn, who is being breastfed only, it’s impossible. (I am trying for supermom. I know, I have a martyr complex. I am going to start pumping though. But for now, I have not supplemented with formula. My sister is supermom. So I feel the pressure to live up to her standards since my nephews are beyond perfect.)
I just have to say, that having a kid has taught me IT’S NOT ABOUT THE STUFF. We have amassed SO MANY things for the kid. The Bugaboo and its accessories alone take up half the garage. So many clothes, so many toys, so many gadgets…. But I realized we bought all that stuff for us–for our ego (for my ego)…the kid is happy just to be near us and the most precious thing I can give her is my time and energy and love, and the stuff really doesn’t matter at all.
Especially when you realize all those cute baby clothes you bought from Saks have BUTTONS instead of SNAPS and are a BITCH to put on the baby. And so she is in Target couture – Carters jammies and undershirts.
Although I have to say, the Babystyle clothes are DIVINE. They are adorable AND comfy and come in the best colors. You HAVE to get the cocoa pants. They are the coolest shade of brown. And when we put them on her with the baby Splendid t-shirts, she looks like the coolest hipster.
She is too small yet for all the cute Marie Chantal and Tea and Jacadi outfits we bought her, so for now, it’s babystyle coupled with Carters style…
Breastfeeding is good for reading though…you can’t really do anything but hold the baby, so I prop her up on one hand and have a book in the other. So far I have finished A YEAR IN PROVENCE by Peter Mayle (whose daughter, Jane Mayle, owns the fabu label and store MAYLE), which was a great, escapist read and made me want to go live in an old farmhouse in Provence, Emily Giffin’s SOMETHING BORROWED and SOMETHING BLUE, both the best kind of chick-lit novels, in that you read it and it totally reminds you of you and your friends…I bought them on a whim at Target, and I really really liked them. Go buy them! And Nora Ephron’s I FEEL BAD ABOUT MY NECK, which my mom lent me. And was a great read as well–very funny, especially the essay about her apartment.
I just bought a slew of fun YA novels that I have always been meaning to read but never got around to, like Meg Cabot’s AVALON HIGH, Scott Westerfeld’s UGLIES trilogy, and some more fun chicklit like Karen Lutz’s THE BACHELORETTE PARTY. I had resisted buying these books because I am published by both HarperCollins and S&S and I thought I could just get them for free next time I go visit my editors. But fuckit. I won’t be in NYC until next spring, and I feel shy about asking editors for freebies all the time. Also, I’m a reader as well as a writer, and why shouldn’t I pay for books too?
I think I hear her crying, so I’m out for now.
Hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving!