Thursday, January 7, 2010

It was twenty years ago today...

that I became a mother for the first time. I was fairly young, though I certainly felt that I was "all grown up". I was 12 days past my Christmas Day due date, retaining an unbelievable amount of water, and just plain miserable. For three days, at the direction of my doctor, I had been calling in to the hospital to see if they could induce me; the first two days, I was told they were too busy... on January 6th, I was finally told to come in. I showered and dressed in one of the few things that I could still fit into - a sorority sweatsuit from my time at Florida State - and my sneakers which I could no longer even tie over my chubby edematous feet.

My body was showing no signs of going into labor spontaneously, so I was hooked up to a pitocin drip around noon. All day and into the evening this continued... yet my body wasn't responding well - I was dilating very slowly. Finally, at 10pm, the decision was made to stop the drip, move me onto the OB floor for the evening and restart the next day.

Of course, things don't always go as planned, especially where I'm concerned. Though they stopped the drip and gave me sleeping pills, my labor continued and progressed; I was up all night in agony - First Born was facing front and I had terrible back labor. At 5am, I convinced the nurse that I NEEDED an epidural so they called for the anesthesiologist. The contractions were so intense and so close together that it was difficult for me to remain motionless during the procedure - and I worried that I would be paralyzed because I failed to hold still (this was before I went to vet school, and I had very little medical knowledge).

The epidural was heavenly, for a little while - I watched the monitor recording the strength of the contractions that I could no longer feel... but shortly, the tubing slipped out and the anesthetic wore off - and again I could feel everything. The nurse called the anesthetist back in and he placed a second epidural, but it didn't seem to function properly. I could still feel the contractions but I couldn't move my legs at all (?!?); very strange for me.

Finally, finally, I was "complete" and they wheeled me down the hall to the delivery room (this was before the days of birthing centers - with First Born, I started out in a labor room, was moved to a delivery room for the birth, and then taken upstairs to the OB hall for recovery). They only allowed two people to go into the delivery room with me - my husband and my sister - and they both had to change into sterile clothing. I was so very tired at this point - I had been in labor for nearly 24 hours - AND I'd been given sleeping pills; most of the time in delivery is a blur, but I do remember that I was covered in sterile drapes and the doctor kept telling me to keep my hands under the drapes, which was driving me nuts for some reason.

At 12:33pm, after pushing a half dozen times, I delivered First Born -- 13 days late. He weighed in at 8 lbs, 9 oz... a big boy!! He was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen.

I grew up a lot in the next year - I had to. I was married, but I was still a single mother - my husband at the time was of the opinion that the house and children were a woman's burden, despite the fact that I also worked a full time job. Might be part of the reason that that marriage didn't last...

Fast forward 7 years, and lo and behold, I'm back in the hospital giving birth AGAIN!! I was 12 days past my Christmas Day due date with son #3 at my OB visit on Monday; my doctor told me that induction was inevitable and asked me to pick a date. It was the 6th; First Born had asked me NOT to have the baby on HIS birthday (LOL), so we chose the 8th for the induction. I was to report to the hospital on Wednesday at 6am.

Of course, things don't always work out the way we want them to... and I went into labor on my own that night about 10:30pm. By 3am, we were headed for the hospital as the contractions were less than 7 minutes apart. At 6:30am, the doctor delivered Little Man (strangely enough, it was also HER birthday!!) - he weighed a whopping 9 lbs, 10 oz!!

First Born has grown into such a wonderful man - truthfully, it's hard for me to think of him as a man... though he's nearly as old today as I was when he was born, he'll always be MY baby. He is strong and flexing his wings as he becomes more and more independent, yet when he comes home, he's my little boy again. I see less and less of him, which I suppose is the natural order of things - he prefers the company of his girlfriend to that of his mother, and I try to remember when I felt that way myself. It's nothing personal; he's just growing up.

Little Man still has some growing and maturing to do, but his heart is as big as the sky; he is such a loving and thoughtful soul, and so sensitive that I worry for the hurt he endures at the hands of his brothers and other thoughtless people. I know that I can't protect him from that, but I still try as he's my baby.

Today my boys turned 20 and 13; they are brilliant, loving, caring, sensitive, thoughtful children and every day I feel blessed because truly they have taught me as much as I have taught them over the years. I believe that I am a much better person because of my children, as I strive each day to be "good enough" to be their mother. I'm far from perfect and I have failed them in little ways at times, but I guess that's part of being human.

Monday, January 4, 2010

My grandmother passed away last night

and I am terribly sad, not that that is so unexpected... and not that her death was really unexpected either. But,she was always such a vital, vibrant woman - it's almost inconceivable to me that she is permanently and forever gone from this earth.

If I look at is objectively, I know that she (and by extension, we) were blessed as I honestly cannot remember a time in my 42 years that my grandmother was ill, except for the last 7 months of her life. Now, I'm sure that she had her share of colds or had the flu here and again, but she lived to the ripe old age of 91-1/2 years old and her only chronic affliction was mild arthritis. She was still very active, travelling yearly with my mother, taking care of her household, enjoying her life, even though she had slowed down a little bit these last few years.

It still doesn't feel "real" to me. I'm not used to seeing her all that often, and to be honest, I was a less-than-perfect granddaughter as I also failed to call her as often as I should have. I think that it will really hit me next December, as I have spent every single Christmas in the last 42 years with her.

The last 7 months have been difficult for my grandmother. The surgery was very hard on her and left her wanting to die. But, gradually, as she recovered and gained strength, she began to feel more positive and began to get back to her life. It seems that, just as sht had resumed a relatively "normal" activity level - though she still seemed very weak and frail to me, almost as if she had aged greatly overnight - there was a set back... wevere inflammation of her GI tract that left her very uncomfortable. Her appetite decreased again, and my uncle and mother had to begin administering the morphine to try and ease her pain. On the third night of this, my uncle and his girlfriend sat up in my grandmother's room as she slept because she was breathing very shallowly - her hands were cyanotic, my uncle tells me, and he was very worried about her. Finally, he woke her and gave her anotherh dose of morphine - and as the drug entered her system, her breathing eased and leveled out and the color returned to her hands... they felt comfortable enough to leave her and go to bed themselves as it was getting late.

They had set up, some time ago, a baby monitor so that my uncle could listen for and care for my grandmother at night... my uncle says that approximately 10 minutes after he retired to his own bedroom, my grandmother just stopped breathing... and she was gone.

He called my mother shortly after midnight and she went to the house; as there was nothing to be done, M and I weren't called until this morning.

I am grateful that she is at peace; I am grateful that she did not suffer for long; I am confident that she is in a much better place tonight; but my heart is broken and I miss her.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Welcome to 2010!!

OMG! I can't believe it's another new year!! We spent New Year's up in Philly - took Baby Girl and hopped on a plane (she's no more fond of planes than she is of cars, unfortunately!)

We flew up on Wednesday (the 30th) and were in Philly by noon; we got some hoagies from a real sh!thole of a place - B assured me that they are the best hoagies in Philly - and they WERE really good (and huge)!! We ate them at Uncle B's shop while having a little visit. Baby Girl warmed right up to him again and was soon crawling up in his lap for snuggles!! He was absolutely tickled pink.

We stayed at one of the downtown (Center City) hotels - on the 24th floor... It snowed Wednesday night which Baby Girl thought was wonderful. Thursday, we went to the Benjamin Franklin Institute, which was really neat - I'd never been there before - lot of hands on stuff for Baby Girl, even though she was a bit young to appreciate most of it. We kind of caught the early fireworks on New Year's Eve (I say "kind of" 'cause we were stuck in traffic...) and then ate dinner at a tiny, but very authentic place down in Chinatown.

I woke up sick on Friday... not as bad as B and Baby Girl have been, but just feeling "puny" - we watched the beginning of the Mummer's Parade on the TV while Baby Girl was napping, then bundled up and went down into town. We couldn't get to any of the places that the string bands were performing, but we did get to see the elaborate costumes - Baby Girl watched intently! The parade wasn't progressing in a very "normal" manner - there were huge, huge gaps between the bands - sometimes more than 15 mins - and after a while, B declared that "this sucks" and we went back to the hotel. For all the bundling that we did, poor Baby Girl was freezing - she refused to let me cover or warm her hands and I worried that she might never warm up, even though it wasn't really ALL that cold outside - it was in the low 40's I think - but, still, she's so little!!

We had to get up at an unreasonable hour this morning to get to the airport; our flight was scheduled to leave at 7:40am, but the check in line for Southwest was truly ridiculous (took us about an hour to get through), so they delayed take off to wait for all the stragglers - we didn't actually leave until nearly 8:30... despite the fact that they allow more than ample time required to physically fly, we were late getting into RDU - we stopped in Raleigh at an iHop for breakfast and Baby Girl gobbled down a huge portion of cheesy eggs!! Despite the continually running nose, she seems to be feeling MUCH better.

I tried to pick the dogs up this afternoon, but B had failed to mention that the kennel was closing at noon today - he says that he didn't see the huge sign that was prominently displayed on the door... I think he just didn't bother to read it... either way, now they're stuck until Monday, with no medication and without their own food, and it's going to cost me an extra $80, so I'm none too happy. B did apologize for not seeing the sign, IF it was there when he dropped off the dogs on Wednesday... whatcha gonna do??