A Letter To Parents of Colicky Babies

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Dear Parent Of A Colicky Baby,

I know your pain.

I know how it feels to walk the floors for hours and hours every day, and night. I know how it feels when you read the definition of colic – crying for more than three hours a day, more than three days a week – and think, “there are babies out there who cry THAT LITTLE?”

I know how it feels to look jealously at couples in restaurants who are casually eating their dinner while their tiny baby slumbers peacefully in a car seat next to their table.

Meanwhile, YOU left your baby with a selfless friend or relative and you are trying to have a brief meal together to salvage your relationship even though you know that at this moment that your friend/relative is walking back and forth while your baby screams and screams.

Maybe you have said to each other “never again”.

Maybe you have already decided that your first born must be an only child because there is no way you can survive this a second time.

I know how that feels, too.

But.

Let me tell you about a different kind of baby.

Meet Fritter.

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She just turned a month old, and almost all of my photos of her feature her doing something very strange…

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The 2nd Labour Story Part III: In Which I Bond Very Quickly With A Doughnut. Yes, An Actual Doughnut.

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A lot of women talk about that magic moment when they see their baby for the first time. I have a theory about it.

You see, I didn’t have that magic fall-in-love feeling when I first saw Owl. I was just like, “hey, look, a baby.”

Some people claim that a heavily medicated birth, such as Owl’s, interferes with natural bonding hormones and prevent that awesome gush of love that some mothers feel on the birth of their child.

But I don’t think that’s it.

You see, I have friends who have felt that rush of love despite an incredibly traumatic/heavy intervention birth, and I know people who didn’t feel it despite a completely natural birth.

Here’s my theory:

It has nothing to do with the kind of birth.

It has to do with the kind of person you are.

I believe that if you are the sort of person who believes in or has experienced love-at-first-sight (in the romantic sense), you will be the kind of person who experiences love-at-first-sight on the birth of their child.

On the other hand, if you are a more practical, slow-to-warm-up kind of person, like me, you’re less likely to fall head over heels in love the moment a squalling newborn is dumped on you.

It’s a shame, because I would love to have that rush of mother love.

Still, when I watch videos about natural birth, people always talk about that rush of endorphins that comes with it, and it made me wonder if maybe that really would help. Maybe my theory is wrong.

So when I was told that I wouldn’t be getting an epidural, the part of my brain that was still ME and separate from my body was actually pleased because this way I might get to experience the big endorphin rush.

Yeah, I didn’t feel any kind of rush when I was giving birth.

I don’t know if I ever have endorphin rushes. Maybe I don’t have endorphins. Maybe there were endorphins but I didn’t notice them. Maybe if there weren’t I would have hurt even more. I don’t know. But I definitely felt no elation, no rush. Just some anxiety because I still hadn’t seen my baby.

Finally they brought her over to me and laid her on my chest.

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The 2nd Labour Story Part II: In Which I Display An Embarrassing Lack of Stoicism

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We listened to Ben Folds on our drive to the hospital.

We love the piano on Songs For Silverman and I tried to sing along instead of moaning uselessly during contractions.

So we drove to the hospital with me groaning, “I’ve got YOU… to THANK… for THIS…” and hoping that PH didn’t think I was extrapolating the lyrics to suggest that I was blaming him for my current discomfort.

“The problem is,” I told PH, “that the contractions are so overwhelming that for a while I feel like everything in the universe is hurting me. So when the contraction starts it feels like the piano is hurting me and I’m like “DAMN YOU, BEN FOLDS,” and then when the contraction eases I feel like the piano is making it feel better and I’m like “THANK YOU, BEN FOLDS.”

I also noted that when my contractions came closer together they were less intense, but that if the space between them stretched to three or even four minutes then it meant that a real doozy was on the way.

I actually preferred the doozies, because at least I got three or four minutes of relief first, rather than barely time to catch my breath before another one hit. I think that was what made my labour seem so awful last time – the fact that sometimes contractions were coming one on top of another with no real relief.

We pulled into the emergency parking lot of the hospital, expecting that PH might have to drop me off and go find parking, but unusually the parking lot was almost empty. Apparently early morning on a Monday is not the most popular time for emergencies.

It took me three contractions to get into the hospital. I had to finish one before I could get out of the car and then another one came on almost immediately and I had to stop in the middle of the lot. This one squeezed so hard that for a moment I felt a straining sensation, like you get when you have to poop REALLY badly and you’re struggling to hold it in.

That was weird.

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The 2nd Labour Story Part I: In Which Castor Oil Is Put To The Test

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Most women I speak to tried something or other to kick start their labour. It seems strange to try to trigger an event which is generally recognized as one of the most painful experiences a woman will endure in her lifetime. But I guess we do it for the same reason that PH always eats the least favourite part of his dinner first – to get it over with.

For me, the real spur was fear of being medically induced, which I had already experienced and was not anxious to repeat.

I knew that castor oil was my best hope, but I also felt rather pessimistic about it. I suspect that if left to its own devices, my body would carry the baby past the 42nd week mark.

Probably, castor oil would just cause me horrible diarrhea and I’d still have to be induced on Tuesday.

So I started with a small spoonful on Saturday. Most recipes that I saw involved 1-2 tablespoons.

I took a TEASPOON and waited for the diarrhea.

No diarrhea.

No baby, mind you, but no diarrhea.

So with increased boldness, I took two tablespoons on Sunday, mixed in with my yogurt, and waited.

…and waited.

….and waited.

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The 2nd Labour Story, The Prequel: In Which I DO NOT WANT AN INDUCTION

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I was terrified of being induced again.

I didn’t really enjoy the 30 + hours of non-productive painful contractions occurring every 2-3 minutes, or the one-on-top-of-the-other contractions on the pitocin drip. And while I did like the epidural and thought it likely that I would want one again, I didn’t want to be basically forced into it because really, anyone who is on a pitocin drip but refuses an epidural is either a martyr or a Viking.

Women have a love-hate history with pain control during childbirth. During my nesting phase in the last month of my pregnancy I read a bunch of non fiction books on child birth, and I learned some interesting things.

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Because “Call the Maternity Admitting Office” Doesn’t Have The Same Cachet

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In case you’ve been wondering, I’m still thoroughly dissatisfied with my prenatal care situation.

I really, really wanted a midwife.

But I let fear stop me.

Because the wooshing noise was back and I was getting mysterious itchy rashes and I had internists talking to me about brain surgery.

But the itching has gone away and so has the wooshing noise, my optic nerves are back to normal, and it is way too late to find a midwife.

So I’m stuck with the OB who clearly wonders why she’s stuck with me, too. I can tell she is pretty uninterested in my case. She glanced over my history, asked me to make sure with the opthamologist that my intracranial pressure was low enough that it would be safe enough to push, and that was it.

My OB appointments don’t feel… like real prenatal appointments somehow.

Part of that is because the OB shares an office with several other specialists all of whom do completely different things. One is an oncologist, and she’s the only one whose specialty is actually listed on the door, so basically I attend my prenatals in a clinic which advertises ONCOLOGY.

The waiting room is very fancy. It doesn’t have that public-healthcare feel that other doctor offices have. But it’s also very generic so that all the specalists are equally accommodated. It’s the only doctor’s office I have ever been in that has NOTHING MEDICAL hanging on the walls. No informational posters, nothing.

Nor is there anything baby-related. My previous prenatal care clinic had corkboards filled with photos of babies they had delivered. Even my family doctor has black and white photos of Korean babies looking all artsy and charming.

Not this place.

This is what I see when I sit down to wait for my OB appointment:

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Does that seem normal to you?

There isn’t even a little corner for children to play at. You know, the obligatory pile of worn out Golden Books and that ubiquitous wooden bead maze that you find in every single doctor’s office EXCEPT THIS ONE.

The only, the ONLY THING in the entire place that suggests “prenatal care” is the key to the bathroom, which has a teething ring hanging off of it.

Even the receptionist is generic. While I sit waiting for my prenatal, she is busy calling patient after patient for one of the other doctors, advising them to get fleet enemas before their appointment the next day. When I called to ask if I should be concerned about my liver hurting or craving cardboard she had no advice for me and told me that if I was concerned I should see my family doctor.

The OB is only actually there two days a week and those days seem to fluctuate wildly.

Clearly there would be no point in calling with questions about contractions, etc.

As for the OB herself, she’s… fine.

She’s young, friendly, and she seems relatively caring. But she doesn’t seem particularly INTERESTED.

She puts me on a scale, takes my blood pressure (it seems weird not to have a nurse doing these things before she comes in, but she doesn’t seem to have a nurse), measures my fundal height, and puts the doppler on me, and then asks if I have any questions.

I have lots of questions but I don’t actually think there’s any point in asking them.

She’s made it clear to me that there’s a good chance she won’t be the one actually delivering the baby. I get whatever OB is on call that day in the hospital. Could be her, could be someone else. But hey, they’ll have access to her notes, so there’s that.

So is there any point in asking questions like, “can we delay cutting of the cord? Will I be allowed to have skin to skin right away when the baby is born? Would it be possible to attempt a breast crawl, because I think that would be really cool to see”?

I was also expecting her to check my cervix at my 38 week appointment, because I’m pretty sure my doctor did when I was pregnant with Owl. But maybe I’m wrong. Anyway, she didn’t. I guess she will this week at my 39 week?

This is all so not what I want.

After Owl’s heavily-interventioned birth, I want to experience something different. I want to go into a natural labour. I want my baby to be delivered by the person who provided my care, so I could have a sort of continuity. I want support during labour, because last time I just kept getting sent home to suffer through contractions with no real help. That being said, I also want to labour at home for as long as possible, because being in the hospital sucks.

Well, I can only have some of these things, if any.

I can still hope for a natural labour, although the OB likes to induce at 41 weeks, so I’m on the clock.

I can try to labour at home for as long as possible, and just kind of help myself through it (I mean, yes, PH and possibly my mother might be there to hold my hand but my mother only ever had one labour and that was in a hospital on a pitocin drip and that is still more labour than PH has ever experienced). I’ve been reading on recognizing signs of true labour, when to go to the hospital etc. My big goal is to only have to go ONCE. No more back-and-forth half hour drives over speed bumps while painfully contracting. NO MORE PLEASE.

That’s about all I can do, really.

I’m trying hard to focus on the positives.

For example, I’ve been having some mentrual-like cramping pains lately. I didn’t get that feeling until after the prostaglandin gel last time, so maybe my body might actually be preparing for a real labour?

I’m also negative for group B strep this time, which means I don’t have to get put on IV for penicillin the moment my waters break.

I’m also less scared of labour this time round. I’ve survived it before, and dangit, I’ll survive it again.

And, of course, most important of all, the baby seems ok. My diabetes is mostly under control, with insulin. She’s now only measuring two weeks too big instead of three, so that’s an improvement. She moves a lot still. All important things.

Cross your fingers for me. I have two weeks to get this thing going on my own, without an induction.

In Which We Risk Medical Emergency/Financial Ruin To Meet Firefly Stars

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Everyone said we were crazy to do it, and we knew that they were right.

You do not travel two weeks away from your due date.

You especially do not travel close to your due date IN THE UNITED STATES.

The cost of American health care is infamous. BC radio is filled with Pacific Blue Cross commercials featuring John Cleese, in which he plays a greedy American (?) doctor called Nigel Bilkington who does x-rays on you just to make sure you have your wallet on you before you even receive care.

(Want to hear? I found one here.)

On the way to the border there are big signs reminding you that even a day trip can result in a broken bone and thousands of dollars of debt.

It’s important to remind Canadians of this because we take free health care for granted.

PH and I have cross-border insurance.

But no insurance will cover you if you wander into the states while totally full-term and end up having a baby there. I can’t even imagine what an emergency C-section or something would cost.

So why would we go?

comiconlogo.jpgWe go to Emerald City Comicon in Seattle every year. It has become a family tradition. Every year we get a new family portrait with some geeky-famous person. The first year was George Takei.

can you come up with a caption awesome enough to go with this photo?

The next year was Patrick Stewart.

My new favourite family photo

My new favourite family photo

I didn’t get around to posting about it last year, but we went again and got our photos taken with Alan Tudyk, otherwise known as Wash from Firefly as well as about a million other characters.

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He put his arm around me. It was awesome.

This year, Levar Burton was scheduled to be there, and I couldn’t miss my chance at getting a photo with Geordie LaForge/The Reading Rainbow guy.

So we bought tickets. I bought a maternity shirt that read “The Next Generation” right over my belly.

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We also packed a hospital bag.

We figured that if we drove like hell, we could probably get back to the border within a couple of hours, and there was a hospital just across the border. All I had to do was hold the baby in ’til we got there.

Everyone told us it was a bad idea.

They were right.

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Adults Ruin Everything

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Grown ups are no fun.

We have known this since we ourselves were children.

But it is sometimes impressive to see how great they are at ruining a fun time.

Take the Easter Egg hunt we went to today.

We thought a community Easter Egg Hunt sounded like a fun time, and since entry donations support a local woman’s shelter, we also thought it sounded like a good cause.

The place was packed. Swarming. We were a little surprised. PH had to drop us off and park a klick up the road.

I got Owl registered and we found our way to the section for ages 3-4. I thought it was smart of them to divide it by age group so that big kids wouldn’t be snatching from little babies.

When we got there I discovered that “hunt” was a bit of a misnomer. The playground area had been roped off and little bags of chocolate eggs were strewn willy nilly over every horizontal surface within the small boundaries. I realized it would be less of a hunt and more of a grab-what-you-can. Think of the Cornucopia Blood Bath in The Hunger Games.

I positioned Owl close to the ropes, handed him his basket, and quietly advised him that if he was having trouble getting any candy, he should head up the playground equipment because the kids would probably scramble for the stuff on the ground first.

They started the count down. 10… 9… 8…

When the count go down to “go!” something strange happened.

I had been expecting all the kids to rush in and mob the playground.

Instead, the adults standing around the edge all grabbed their kids’ hands and shuffled in, creating a solid wall that Owl couldn’t get past, and sweeping up all the candy like Roombas so there was nothing left for the kids behind them.

I directed Owl to dodge between a pair of adults and try to get in front so he could actually, you know, hunt for Easter eggs.

He disappeared beyond the wall of adult bodies.

The adults had zombie-shuffled across the entire field, and it was packed with adult and small child bodies. The playground equipment was in complete gridlock, with children wedged into every available space and practically overflowing around the edges. None of them were my son. None of the kids around the base of the equipment were mine. Nor could I see him around the edges of the play area.

Now, I don’t usually worry too much if I lose sight of Owl. I may suffer from anxiety, but I also trust my kid and for the most part I trust other people. Owl knows he’s not supposed to go out of my sight and he isn’t the type to completely disappear. He doesn’t leave the general play area without permission. So when I lose sight of him it’s usually because he’s behind something or under something and simply out of my sight line.

But in this densely packed environment, with adults and kids swarming everywhere, I could see how easy it would be for a child to get snatched.

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General Life Update Featuring A Lot of Urine, Some Unfounded Fretting, and Wood Pulp

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Well, it’s been long enough since I posted about my life that I’m now in an awkward position because I can’t post about my current life because you wouldn’t know what the hell I was talking about. So I need to clear up some of the backlog.

I know some of you are wondering how PH is doing.

He’s alive.

Generally, he is closer to staying alive than he was a couple of months ago.

But we aren’t out of the woods yet. No miracles.

If you asked me how I was doing, I could say “that DEPENDS”.

Depends, get it? No of course you don’t.

But you will.

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