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Monday, February 6th, 2012
Leaving the hospital with Baby Brother
I hate the sentence I’m about to write. But I’m going to do it anyway.
My two-year old is “mad” at me.
It sounds so lame. I promised myself I wouldn’t be one of those parents who project adult emotions on a toddler. But here I am.
It began the day I came home from the hospital with Emmett. Even though we had prepped Fia all about a baby brother coming into her world, she clearly hadn’t grasped it. How could she? I can barely grasp the magnitude of how one’s body “makes life,” so I surely can’t expect a 2-year old to fully comprehend.
But from the moment I stepped in the door something had changed. While excited about Emmett, she was aloof with me. She didn’t want me to hold her. She did, however, want to hold Emmett. She was clingy with Phil and her grandparents. With me, she ignored.
I thought, What have I done? I have destroyed the relationship that matters most to me in this world. (Another sentence I cringe at while writing. Seriously. But remember there are some raging hormones here too.)
I panicked that things would never be the same. That a “new normal” had set in. One I didn’t like. My mother-in-law, my best friend and my aunt all assured me Fia’s behavior was normal. They cited examples from their own childrearing experiences.
But they must not have had the connection with their kids I have with Fia, I thought hopelessly.We are symbiotically entwined.
Phil took Fia on a walk and asked her, “Are you mad at mama?” In her little voice, she squeaked, “Yes.” Then he asked if she was mad at baby brother. “No” she said.
Upon hearing this, my heart broke a little more. Yes, I’m putting a lot of stock in those two words, “yes/no” but having a new baby is a seismic shift in all our lives–and I do believe she feels a bit jolted and unable to express herself. Again, she’s 2.
Time, is what my mom friends told me. Give her time.
So I have. And it’s getting better. I’m getting my Fi back a little more each day. And my heart too.
I still can’t hold her, which is tough. “Mama hold you,” she pleads. I tell her to come sit on my lap.
I took a bubble bath with her the other night. I washed her hair and she dumped water on me. A welcome sign that normal was coming back.
What does seems to be her new MO of “not-so-fun-normal” is to go from 0-10 in a matter of seconds. She will throw herself on the floor, screaming, crying–real tears and all–because I brought her an apple-banana squeezie and not a yogurt. Such tragedy. Again, since I can’t physically pick her up, I have to wait patiently for her to stop wailing, then explain, distract or relent–depending on the enormity of the issue at hand.
I know this is typical 2-3 year old behavior. Hers just happened to coincide–or was instigated–by Emmett’s arrival.
She has also just spent the last 2 weeks being showered with attention from Phil’s parents. She and his mom were inseparable (his mom is like the grandmother everyone wants to have). So when they left yesterday, she experienced another jolt in her little life.
Again, all normal stuff I’m told. And I have no choice but to go with it. Kids are far more resilient than we are. I have to remember that. And to continue to tell Fia that I have her heart. And I’ll never let go.
Categories: Fearless Feisty Mama, Must Read, Newborn Care | Tags: behavior, big sister, birth, Emmett, hospital, labor, milestone monday, new sibling, newborn, sibling, toddler tantrum
Thursday, January 26th, 2012
Editor’s Note: Jill Cordes gave birth to a baby boy (her second child) on Wednesday, January 25, 2011 via c-section. While Jill rests at the hospital, please join us in welcoming her new bundle of joy! After her blogging hiatus, she will reveal the name of her new baby. Congratulations, Jill, Phil, and Fia!!!
“All good. 8 lbs. 2 oz.” (sent by Jill at 1:43 pm EST)
Tuesday, November 15th, 2011
The Wee Hours of Early Labor With "The Balloon"
I don’t think a vagina is pretty. Okay, I’ve said it. I also don’t find anything particularly beautiful about childbirth. I mean, the act of having a baby—yes, beautiful, magnificent, blah blah–all the adjectives and clichés apply. But pushing one out of your vag, while you poop on a table? It’s just not appealing, at least to me.
Having said that, I went through my pregnancy ready, willing–and I thought–able to deliver a baby “down there.” No women in my family or extended family had C-sections. I was in shape, had done all the yoga and breathing. I was ready.
My due date came and went. Two weeks later, I was induced. When we went to the hospital apparently I was having erratic contractions, even though I felt nothing. Because of that, the usual regiment of drugs for induction couldn’t be followed. Instead, I got the manual treatment.
Oh good, I thought. One less drug in my body. My yoga friends will be so proud!
WARNING: GRAPHIC SCENES TO FOLLOW
“Manual” meant a deflated balloon goes up between your locked cervix. Problem was, I was effaced, so the doctor’s hands kept slipping (I don’t totally understand, but that’s what he said) and he had to keep pushing his hands in me, prying the cervix open enough to slip the balloon in. He finally succeeded, then blew it up with saline (no, not his mouth) to manually force my cervix open. Phil held up pictures of Wayne Sanchez to distract me. All I could think is Wayne is having payback time. We cut off his penis and gave him a vagina. Now he is mocking me.
A string dangled out for the next 8 hours as the balloon did its thing. At 3 a.m. I was doubling over with cramps. The nurses assured me that meant it was working. Oh hooray!
She’d point to the monitor that showed contractions spiking like Kilimanjaro (which I climbed, and in retrospect was much easier than labor). They were all over the place. I remember having diarrhea too. And thinking, “What the f–k is pretty about this?“
At 7 a.m. I was dilated to a 3 and the balloon was pulled out. Then came the Pitocin. At first I didn’t mind because at least it regulated the contractions. I knew when to brace for a bad one. But when I dilated to about a 5, the pain was simply unbearable. I caved to the epidural. I felt slightly defeated. I’ve run marathons. I know women far less “tough” than I. How can I not hack this? The answer would be revealed later.
Hands down the best part of my labor was the epidural. It was like magic; like being on vacation in a war zone. I urge everyone to use it.
Around 3 pm my water broke. On it’s own. My doc rushed in and said I was dilated to a 9. That we’d start pushing soon. NO WAY! Phil and I practically did jumping jacks together. “We’re going to have a baby!!!” we shouted. She’ll probably be here in an hour. We called our friends and family. We were giddy.
I was wheeled into the delivery room. I remember so many women telling me they felt this urge to push when the time came. I felt nothing. My doctor whispered something to the nurse, and then explained to me how to push. Nothing about this felt instinctual. I pushed but it was like I was pushing against air. After 45 minutes my doctor told me what we were up against:
My baby, while head down, was sunny side up, meaning face up. Which explains the horrific cramping earlier. Our spines were grinding against each other. She also hadn’t dropped. He said if we could get her down a bit, they could reach up and try to turn her. Most babies rotate naturally through the birth canal. But the biggest part of her head was stuck on my pelvic bone. She couldn’t get under it.
He asked if I had it in me to do some serious pushing. Hell yeah! I said. I grabbed my iPod and put on the playlist that got me through the Boston marathon. I went into endurance mode.
Over the next 90 minutes:
Hands reached into me.
Different doctors tried to turn her.
A nurse with small hands, known for turning babies, gave it a shot.
I was turned from side to side, then put on all fours.
They brought in a mirror so I could see how it looked when I was pushing correctly. (That was like a gruesome horror movie—and I had a wax the day before, mind you).
In the midst of all this, with Pitocin giving me off-the-chart contractions, I felt excruciating pain. I tried to explain, but no one was listening. Everyone was so focused on getting her to rotate.
It was Phil who looked down at the table when I was on all fours, and said, “Um, I think that needle is supposed to be in her back.” In all the commotion and shifting of my body, the epidural had fallen out. So, not by choice, I was doing this natural.
It was then they called it. My doctor said that in my 2+ hours of solid pushing, Fia hadn’t dropped even one millimeter; that he had to do a C-section. I wept. I was so exhausted and in so much pain. And now I faced surgery. He had the nurse put ice on my swollen, bruised vagina. For 48 hours I would have to ice it. One nurse gasped when she saw it. It was that bad.
I was pumped full of drugs that made my arms flap like a bird and my body feel frigid. I was wheeled into the OR.
Twenty minutes later, I heard a cry from behind the curtains and it was all over. Fia was here and she was safe. She had a mark on her forehead from bumping against my pelvic bone. We both had war wounds. But she was perfect.
I know at the end of the day that’s all that matters. But physically, I felt like I had been through a train wreck. One friend who visited said it looked like I had been hit by a bus (she would have fainted had she seen my vag!). But even if I had had a regular birth, I’m not sure I’m the kind of person who would call this whole process “beautiful.” It is gruesome and gory; the end result is stunning.
Today I’m scheduling my C-section. I hear that when you are scheduled, the recovery is so much easier. It’s not like I’m looking forward to it, but I’ll take it over labor any day. But that’s just me. And my story.
Fia at 5 Days Old
Just for fun, my fellow blogger, Berit, who is pregnant with baby #2 and shares the same due date, had the opposite experience of me. Here’s her labor story.
Tuesday, October 11th, 2011
I’m a marathoner. And I have a baby. But running 26.2 miles while pregnant? I don’t think so. I wouldn’t do it at any stage of my pregnancy.
It’s being reported all over the place: the woman who ran the Chicago Marathon this weekend at 38 weeks pregnant, giving birth hours later. Sorry folks, but I think that’s just plain stupid.
The year and a half before I got pregnant I ran Chicago, Boston and New York. It’s not like you wake up and decide to run a marathon. There is extensive training involved. I’m going to take a wild leap here and guess that she trained throughout her entire pregnancy. Which means running in excess of 18 miles on a fairly regular basis in her 3rd trimester. No doubt about it, she put her body through some extreme stress.
Look, I’m all for staying in shape during your pregnancy. I ran through a decent deal of my first pregnancy. But more like 3 miles a few times a week. I ran slow, and took it easy. No sprinting. At around 5 months I just decided to stop running in lieu of long hikes combined with lunges–which are low impact. When I asked my doctor about running hard, he said, “Why have a baby bouncing around in there like that? It just doesn’t sound like a great idea.” And I agreed. It seemed well, dare I say, logical??
Yeah, I know, baby seems fine. Yeah, I know, she did a run/walk, finishing in 6 hours and 25 minutes (that’s about a 15 minute mile). But I think common sense should intervene on this one.
Forget the science. You are carrying a baby, not a bowling ball. This living, breathing thing is being sloshed around in your belly like a ship caught in a storm at sea. Who thinks that sounds like fun? As someone who gets massively seasick, not I. But it goes beyond that. When you become pregnant, priorities naturally have to shift. Or at least they should. And in case she doesn’t know, some of these sacrifices continue for the next, oh, 18 years.
Lastly, don’t forget, this was a choice. She wasn’t forced to flee from her burning village or walk 26.2 miles to a refuge camp. She made a conscious decision to do this. I truly think she was putting her own needs (and maybe those of the spotlight) in front of her baby on this one.
I just hope she is equipped for the marathon of motherhood. And the sacrifices that follow.
Categories: A Fi Grows in Brooklyn, Mom Situations, Must Read | Tags: birth, exercise, healthy, marathon, pregnancy, pregnant, running, running while pregnant, stress, stress and pregnancy, taking antidepressants while pregnant
Tuesday, September 6th, 2011
I was in the air when the first plane hit. Three minutes later I landed in Newark, oblivious to the world collapsing. Twelve hours later I would make my way to our apartment and fall, sobbing into my husband’s arms. Oblivion replaced by sorrow.
We had just moved to New York City 3 weeks prior. Phil was about to start his Master’s in film at Columbia.
My flight on September 11th was supposed to be at noon. I was traveling home from a Food Network appearance in Cincinnati. For some reason at the last minute I decided to change to the 6 a.m. flight. Unbeknownst to me, karma was on my side.
As our plane descended I distinctly remember looking out the window and seeing the towers. I remember feeling so lucky—so alive–to be living in this great city and starting this new adventure.
At that point in my life, kids were not part of the plan. I had no interest.
In the days following the attacks, I mourned like the rest of the country. Shell-shocked by the hate, inspired by the love.
Years went by and September 11th became part of me, just like it did for most of us. It was always there, serving as a timeline in life. “That was before 9/11.” or “That was after 9/11….”
On December 2, 2009, Fia came into our world. The cocoon we created during our stay in the hospital was nothing short of magical, even surreal. It was a bubble of warmth, safety and love. I felt panicked when it was time to go home. I knew nothing about taking care of a baby.
Phil and I gingerly loaded her into our rented car. I got in the back with her and we began the trek from 168th and Broadway to Brooklyn. It was snowing. Phil drove about 40 mph down the West Side highway. We were paranoid new parents.
When we passed Ground Zero I looked out the window and began to feel a heaviness like I’ve never felt before. It was deep and sad. It carried the responsibility and burden of bringing a life into this world. It said, “This is a dangerous place full of hate. Why did you do this to something you love so much?” It said, “This is an unworthy world. You are selfish.” Had I been standing, this profound pain would have taken me to my knees. I tried to push it away and force happy thoughts. As I looked down at my tiny, sweet baby I thought, She has no idea what her world outside the womb is. But it’s my job to teach her. And love her no matter what.
I believe it was at that moment that the real burden of parenthood began. I carry it with honor, understanding and respect. I’m on my 21st month now and will continue to carry it as long as I’m lucky enough to walk this world. This is life and it is fleeting. It is only by the grace of god, go I.
Categories: A Fi Grows in Brooklyn, Fearless Feisty Mama, Must Read | Tags: 9/11, Airplane, airplane travel, birth, born, Fia, motherhood, new mom, parenting, plane, September 11, tragedy, travel