In the morning, it’s hard to find anything worth watching. You’re stuck with baby reality television shows, infomercials, or biased news talk shows. So, I generally chose the baby reality shows. It makes me feel better than I’m no longer pregnant anymore and I get to laugh at how silly they look talking about normal things making it seem like they’re the first person to have to make a cold lunch for one child while pregnant. Yeah, we’ve done that move on. I find reality shows are really just comedies for me to sit around with my popcorn because the way they make every day life seem like an over-dramatic soap opera is really just hilarious.

Something did catch my attention on Monday, and I decided to watch 3 hours worth of these shows for an experiment. On the first show at 7 am, the husband of this woman who was having a difficult time with the pain begs for an epidural after several hours. Her husband stood outside talking to the camera while they were putting the epidural in and said “we really wanted a natural childbirth so we’re pretty disappointed by this. Maybe next time.” I took the controller to rewind this (thank you DVR) to see if I heard this man correctly. It turns out, I did. I couldn’t believe my ears that a person could be that idiotic.. or selfish I haven’t decided yet. So I watched for a week and it turns out that in more than half of these shows the husband or partner says something like “we had hoped to have a natural birth/breastfeed but she couldn’t do it and we’re disappointed.”

If I had heard my husband say anything like that, I’d probably punch him in the face. It wouldn’t be hormones, it would be my short temper. The “we” part of the baby process ended with the making of the fetus. “We” cannot have natural childbirth, “I” can  have natural childbirth. He can be a part of the decision and most definitely was a part of every decision that was made. But there certainly was only one of us squeezing a child out. You could say “my wife wanted a natural childbirth but was disappointed she couldn’t” and it would be perfectly acceptable. I understand, maybe the “we’ makes him feel more involved. But it seemed like “he” wanted the natural birth more than she did, and to be disappointed that she “failed” him is incredibly aggravating.

Personally, I’d like to see him pop out a baby naturally and see how long he lasts. I give him 5 minutes before he offers to do unspeakable things to the anesthesiologist for pain relief. Then I hope he’s too far along to get one and has to go at it alone. No, I don’t feel bad for saying that. The most important point of this whole rant can be applied in mostly every situation in life: It’s easy to make decisions for other people without knowing what they’re going through. In pregnancy and birth, nothing ever really goes as planned. And no one ever realizes how excruciating it is until going through it. Instead of being disappointed that your wife couldn’t “suck it up”, sit by her every second of the way at your place next to the bed and let her decide if she’s in too much pain. Get her ice chips and rub her back and make her feel better, not worse. And to you reality show “supportive” soon-to-be dads, understand that any woman who had gone through childbirth and sees you say something like that, realize that we’re all thinking about punching you in the face.

6 Weeks Later

I’m sitting there, embarrassed that my first “holy crap I leaked, and it’s obvious and embarrassing” happened, but pleased at least it was at the doctor’s office where they’re used to that sort of thing. I’m waiting in the uncomfortably cold room wondering why if they’re going to hand you something to “keep you warm”, they don’t give you something that’s actually warm while you wait to be examined. It could be worse though, I could still be pregnant. Or maybe that wouldn’t be a bad thing considering I got more sleep and could sit down and enjoy more of a meal than a granola bar or something else I only need one hand to eat.

Then the door opens, a troupe of people cheering and applauding me. My midwife comes in with a microphone… “3 minutes?!! 3 MINUTES??!! How does it feel?”

I look at the camera and asked “..3 minutes…?” I had no clue what was going on.

I shook my head and closed my eyes a minute, they were drooping from being exhausted. I opened them and my midwife and her student P.A. were standing there, waiting for my answer. “Seriously, what’s going on?”

She laughed, “I think you set a record. A 3 minute push time. How does that make you feel?”

“Really, that only took 3 minutes? It seemed a whole lot longer…”

“Don’t tell your friends, you’ll lose them all afterwards. Both deliveries happened quick and the last one was 3 minutes. I’m afraid to see how your next one goes. I might have to hospitalize you before your water even breaks. You might not last the 10 minute drive.. in fact you probably won’t. You’re famous. Everyone was talking about it. It’s even in your notes all capitalized.”

I laughed. I wanted to be a famous writer… apparently my claim to fame is getting a kid out of me because it was the only way to stop the pain. I’ll take it though. Obviously I ignored the whole “not telling anyone” thing, because honestly it just makes a funny story. Or gives me something to brag about. I don’t get much to brag about but how awesome my sons and husband are. This achievement.. this one is mine. I should feel sad that this is my accomplishment, but I made a friend with the labor nurse who said to call her next time.

The real lesson here is no matter what you do, you take pride in it. Whether it’s mastering making one son breakfast while holding an infant and making his bottle and feeding him after while making your son his cold lunch for school. These may seem minor, but minor victories are all the rage. Even the littlest of them to others are huge moments for you. Embrace them. No matter how boring or meaningless they seem to everyone else.

And Like That, He Appeared.

Last week, I was in the hospital doing the baby thing. As a result, my normal blog week didn’t exist. Then again, neither did sleep or the privacy of my anatomy. Welcome to childbirth.

As I discussed in my last post, I was scheduled to go into the hospital to be induced. I was started with my medicine an hour later. Much to everyone’s surprise, I didn’t need a second dose of the Cervadil, nor did I need to get the Pitocin. The best part was not needing the C-Section the midwife told me to get to accepting I’d need this done. My water broke on its own and twenty minutes after that, there was a poor bruised faced little newborn. Ok, he was almost 8 pounds so he wasn’t that little as far as newborns go. Aside from cosmetic issues, he is in perfect health. That’s all any parent wants to hear. (Though one bit of cosmetic malformation actually requires a surgery to fix, which is sending me to a pediatric surgeon in the close future.)

Giving birth wasn’t the problem; for being induced, I had it pretty easy especially since I only spent roughly around 20 minutes pushing. The problems came after, when it was time to start feeding my newly born son. The hospital was an avidly breastfeeding only environment. I had more people than I’d care to remember poking at my bare chest trying to get something to work that obviously wasn’t. Finally, one night while my poor chest was cracked, swollen, and sore and both my son and I were beyond tired and frustrated, I begged for formula. The nurse charged in, making me sign “The Paper of Shame” for pleading for something to make him not hungry and crying. I don’t like to give up, so the next 2 days I tried everything they suggested while being in so much pain, I cried. Finally, the lactation consultant on my discharge day made a realization that no one bothered to make: it wasn’t my fault and sometimes babies just can’t. I felt relieved. It’s bad enough on your esteem as a parent when you can’t do something that everyone tells you that you should, it’s even worse when people make you feel ashamed that you couldn’t.

I didn’t give up on the idea that my son should get the best nutrition. After renting a double pump there, I realized that this was the best compromise. I don’t care that he gets the breast milk from the bottle, just that he gets it. Even that is a side concern, as long as he eats and thrives I’ll be perfectly happy. My first son turned out perfectly and he was formula fed. Breastfeeding doesn’t make you a better mother no more than natural childbirth does. It’s a personal choice people make, and we need realize that as long as the child is growing up healthy that it doesn’t matter how it happens. There are too many comparisons that do nothing more than make one person feel less like a mother than they should.

The Advantages the Second Time Around

I’ve decided my midwife doesn’t lie to me. She told me “you’re going to show sooner, you’re going to be bigger, and it’s not going to be like your first pregnancy at all”. She was right, and I appreciated her honesty and not making me think that I was just getting really fat too soon. She tries not to laugh at my husband, who is guilty of being neurotically overprotective normally and more now that he’s responsible for keeping me extra safe to keep his 2nd child perfectly safe. I have to admit it’s a bit endearing when before I ingest anything, he goes on Google to “make sure” everything’s safe. I won’t complain, it’s this sort of neurosis that keeps me in massages and homemade fruit salad.

Lucky for me, I’m told the second time labor is generally much easier. I like the phrase “generally”. It gives me hope that maybe, just maybe, I can sneeze and there he is. My midwife informed me that if I could do it once without an epidural, the second time I won’t likely need one either. No, I don’t have a moral reason for not wanting one nor do I think anyone who has one is less of a woman or a baby when it comes to pain. My reason is more childish: I hate needles. The fact that I hate needles is only worsened by a lack of faith in a medical professional to be that close to my spine without either killing me or paralyzing me or some other unpleasant side effect because I happened to have the doctor who’s working off a hangover. Yes, I’m aware of how irrational and crazy this sounds, but you won’t convince me to change my mind. The unfortunate side of me being irrational and crazy is that I’m also incredibly stubborn.

The biggest advantage is that you know what you’re walking into. You know that your plan doesn’t always pan out the way you planned it, and you lack that anxiety of “what do I do now?” Even better, you don’t have that anxiety of “will I be a good parent?” If you didn’t kill the first one and they ended up basically decent, you’re in good shape this time around. That’s what I keep telling myself anyways. It comes back to you, every part of the labor and first year of being a parent though it sometimes comes back slowly. My midwife informed me when I told her I was afraid I’d forgotten the pain, that I never really forgot and it’ll come back to me quick. I hope she’s wrong on that front though, I would like to never remember how painful it was. If Michelle Duggar is still in pain with the amount of children she popped out, I don’t think there’s any hope for the rest of us.

Worst Expectations

I have a problem with expectations. Granted I have a problem with a lot of things, so that probably doesn’t shock you much. I blame this on the cynic in me, the part of me that believes the minute you allow yourself to believe something good that the universe finds a way to screw it up. The rest of me doesn’t fare better in this aspect, even the most optimistic part of me. Yeah, that optimistic part of me I pretend I have when things go wrong and I need to assure everyone else everything is ok.

What’s my problem with expectations? In truth, I think one of the worst things you can do in life is go into a situation with expectations. I’m not suggesting you go in with complete ignorance and end up surprised what you’re walking into. I would never suggest a surprise because I hate surprises. For instance, when you vote you’ll ideally know the candidate you want to vote for based (hopefully) on the informed decision you make. However, don’t expect he’ll keep his promises because he’s a man and they lie. (That was a joke.) The real reason is because he’s a politician and they lie.

The main point is expectations on pregnancy, labor, and the result: the child. The worst thing you can do is expect that “you got this” and go in there blind. Even worse, going in there and expecting “I’ve done my research, this is my birth plan and I’m sticking to it”. Why not? Because in life, you can’t expect anything because anything can happen. Sure you might go in expecting that the knowledge made you invincible and that because you’re informed, you can do it without pain medicine. You know what statistically is more likely to happen? You’re going to beg anyone who will listen for relief. If you go in expecting a calm water birth, you’ll probably end up with a scalpel cutting out your insides.

I know you’re probably thinking, “what’s your plan?”. I’m a “just go with it” type of person. I researched what medicine I’d want if I wanted it, and made sure I was ready for any situation that I could come across. Do I want an epidural? I managed the first time without it, I’d like to not have it this time either because I don’t trust anyone with a needle near my spine. In fact, I generally expect the worst. For instance, I imagine this one will be a colicky pain in my butt. If he ends up as angelic as the first one? Well I’ll be pleasantly proven wrong and I’m ok with that.