Category Archives: Pregnancy

Birth Story Two

Oona close-up

I started having frequent contractions Wednesday evening, August 26. I had them for three nights in a row, then nothing, then another night, and I remembered that with Shea they had started six days before he was born. So I figured she probably wasn’t going to go long past her due date. I was NOT in a good mood that week. I wasn’t sleeping well (from heartburn, insomnia and contractions). I was finding it difficult to concentrate or enjoy anything during the four hours of contractions I had most days, and I was overall just feeling crappy and uncomfortable. I think, psychologically too, I was stressed out about the birth. So unlike with Shea when I was happy to go long past my due date (10 days), this time I wanted to get it overwith ASAP.

Contractions began again at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 3—my due date! Once again, I didn’t know if they were going to last or stop, but I started timing them and they were about seven minutes apart and more regular than before. So at 3 p.m. I texted my doula to let her know that I’d keep her updated. Around five she checked in and I told her they were continuing at about the same rate. By then I was pretty sure I was in labor, but she told me to just wait and see if they increased in intensity and/or grew closer together. Martin’s mom was here watching Shea for a few hours because I was exhausted, and I warned her that she may have to spend the night. During dinner while she and Shea ate, I emptied the dishwasher because moving around distracted me from my contractions. It was different from when I went into labor with Shea because, having drunk castor oil, things progressed much more quickly the last time. This time the hours passed and not a whole lot changed, but the contractions continued and slowly (too slowly for me) grew stronger. By 9 p.m. I could no longer sit through them and would get up and walk around through each one. By ten I called my doula to come over and got into the tub just afters she arrived (Shea and Martin’s mom were in bed by then, which worked out perfectly). Unlike before when things were so intense in the tub that I wouldn’t get out, this time after an hour or so not much had changed, so I got out and walked around. By 2 or 3 a.m. I was very sleepy and would lie down between contractions and jump up each time one hit and bend over the piano. By then they were very consistently five minutes apart. My water didn’t break, but I had the bloody show and passed the mucus plug and asked my doula when we should leave for the hospital. My bags had been mostly packed for a week, and I had put them by the door earlier that afternoon.

After eating a quesadilla, I left for the hospital at 3:30 and checked in at 3:45. My contractions weren’t as strong as they were with Shea when I arrived, but by the time I was up in triage getting examined, I was in a lot of pain. I remember people smiling and saying, “Hi” to me as I arrived and me just staring blankly back, unable to even attempt a smile or a hello.

Once in my room, the nurse put the monitor on me, which I was NOT happy about. I wanted to go in the shower like last time, and she said first she had to monitor the baby for 20 minutes. After what seemed like hours, I asked how much longer I had to stand in one place, and she said 13 more minutes. SEVEN minutes had passed! At 15 I told her to take it off and when she insisted I wait for the full 20 minutes for the sake of my baby, I said, “NO, TAKE IT OFF.” I couldn’t stand there for one more minute, I was in such a tremendous amount of pain. So I went into the shower and did what I did before, which must have looked absolutely ridiculous to anyone watching. Each time a contraction hit (and of course, I was naked at that point), I would mash my fact into the corner of the shower (because the cold tiles felt good on my skin) and moan. Last time I swayed my hips, but this time I just squeezed the bars on the shower as hard as I could and dug the toes of one of my feet into the other foot. Somehow it all seemed worse than last time. And whereas before I suddenly had a clear urge to push, this time I felt a change but wasn’t sure what it was, so when my doula said the doctor could break my water if I wanted and that would hurry things along, I said, “Yes, I can’t do this anymore.” And during those face-mash contractions, which seemed to last an hour but probably were closer to half an hour, all I could think was “WHY WHY WHY didn’t I get an epidural this time? Why am I putting myself through this? WHY WHY WHY?” Once I got out of the shower, I went to the bed and had a horrible contraction (bent over bed) and my controlled moans (which were intentional, to get through the pain) turned into real ones. The instant I lay down on the bed, I panicked and yelled, “I wanna push I wanna push I wanna push!” It was such a terrifying feeling because it came on so fast and I wasn’t even in the position to push yet. My water broke then, before the doctor could do it, and when I started pushing I screamed. (I never screamed the last time.) After two or three pushes like that, the doctor told me I was going to get a sore throat (and I’m thinking, a sore THROAT?) and that I should hold my breath when I push, and then I remembered, yes, that’s how you push! I’d completely forgotten. So I tried again like that and after about four pushes, out she came, only just her head and the rest was still inside, and I was in so much pain, I screamed, “take her out! take her out!” and then with another push her body came out. Then of course, the fun of getting stitches while they were laying her on my chest. (I had a second-degree tear. Not as bad as last time). It’s hard to enjoy your baby when your private parts are getting stuck with needles (first a local anesthetic and then the needle, which I could still feel). Oona wasn’t crying enough, so they wouldn’t let me breastfeed her and, after giving her a bath, took her to the nursery to give her a couple of shots to get her to cry and clear her throat, which worked. They brought her back a half hour later, and she was fine.

Another detail that I forgot is that when I arrived they asked me if I was Group B Strep positive or negative and I said negative and told them the paper was in my bag. They looked at it and said the paper said I was positive. I know my OB told me I was negative, so they called the lab and eventually found that I was indeed positive, which meant I needed antibiotics. I had already refused both the IV and the hep lock, which pissed the doctor on call off (I did not like her any more than the doctor I had last time), so now, while PUSHING, they had to get me set up with an IV. They did it pretty quickly, but since the pushing went so fast (my doula said it was 8 minutes, although it felt more like 30), I didn’t get much antibiotic. It had to go into me before the baby was born to protect her from getting the bacteria from me as she came out. Of course, she came out so quickly she didn’t have time to catch anything from me!

I was thrilled when Oona came out to see that she had all her fingers and toes (and so thin and dainty compared to Shea’s fast paws!) and that she was healthy. She even had a fair amount of dark brown hair. Shea was so bald for so long, but he also had light hair, so it barely showed. Oona was big when she was born—8 lbs 11 oz—even bigger than Shea—and her eyes barely opened. As big as she is, though, she seems SO tiny. She is just this cute (and funny looking) little ball of jelly. As exhausted as I’m sure we’ll be over the coming weeks and months, it’s so fun to have a newborn again. Toddlers are super awesome because they walk and talk and learn new things every day, but babies are adorable, too, for the very reason that they don’t do much of anything at all other than drink a lot of milk and fall asleep with one cheek mashed against your chest and a little milk drooling out one corner of their mouths. SO CUTE.



Filed under Motherhood, Pregnancy

The Week in Review


Oona will be one week tomorrow, and I haven’t even blogged about the birth yet. I’ll do that next.

I forgot how much time with a newborn is spent sitting on the couch breastfeeding. I remember now that I watched a ton of TV and movies after Shea was born because that was the easiest thing to pass the time. Oona hasn’t quite woken up since her arrival into the world, so she pretty much eats and goes straight back to sleep and that’s all she does all day. Her awake time, unfortunately, is from about 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. During that time I feed her and then Martin watches her for three hours, gives her back to me, I feed her again and she falls asleep in my arms.

I’ve spent most of my time while she’s sleeping during the day running errands to buy baby and toddler things we still needed, like a table and chairs for Shea, a second diaper pail, a shade for the stroller, pump accessories, etc. etc. My recovery has been much easier this time than last, or maybe I just knew what to expect this time, but I don’t remember running errands at all for the first week or two after Shea was born. And my first day back from the hospital I walked to Safeway and back with Oona, and I certainly wasn’t doing THAT last time. I have fewer stitches this time, so it’s easier to walk.

Breastfeeding, unfortunately, is just as painful as before. Well, just enough LESS painful that I am suffering through it without the nipple shield this time because it caused so many problems with Shea gaining enough weight. Every time she latches on I squeeze her blanket as hard as I can and say, “fuck fuck fuck” under my breath until her sucking relaxes a little. One day I just burst out crying, I was so exhausted from all the pain (after the birth). But yesterday I stopped taking my Motrin, so things are slowly improving.

I ended up gaining 42 pounds and have lost 15 so far (without trying). It’s hard to watch my diet when I’m starving after I breastfeed, but I’m trying to at least eat healthy snacks (fruit, yoghurt) instead of cake and cookies and ice cream. I do eat Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches, though.

This week has been pretty manageable, and there as only one day that I was extremely sleep deprived, but I don’t know how I’m going to manage once Martin goes back to work. He’s off for three weeks and then somehow I’m going to have to figure out a way to take Shea out to parks with Oona. Should be interesting. I haven’t taken her anywhere in the stroller or car seat yet because I feel like she’s just too little. She’s fine snuggled in the Moby on walks, but she’s so incredibly small and fragile right now that I hate to even put her in the stroller. Maybe next week we’ll give it a try. Right now she’s just this little ball of jelly with her eyes mostly closed and her mouth rooting around like a fish. She is beginning to open her eyes a little more each day, though.

I bought Po Bronson’s NurtureShock today and am really looking forward to reading it. I even forked out the $27.50 to get it from Pegasus in order to support our local Solano Ave. stores before any more go out of business (It’s crazy how many have shut down.) I watched “Entre Les Murs, or “The Class” in English, today and what a GREAT movie. Reminds me of my time substitute teaching for the Oakland School District only the Oakland Schools are much worse. I could relate to the “incident” that happened, too, because something similar happened to me. I just lost it one day and told a student to get the hell out of my classroom, and about 10 students all ran down and reported me to the principal. The principal was NOT nice to me. That was also the day my eye glasses were stolen (by one of the kids in that class) and I had to pay $250 to get a new pair since I didn’t have vision insurance. I think I made $100 that day. Not a fun job.

Trying to get motivated to take another look at my book and decide whether to keep sending it out or to revise it further. Not really in the mental place to think about writing right now. I’m more interested in reading, watching movies and spending time with my munchkins. At least this week. I really want to get my other projects done, too, before I get back to work: updating two baby books and making our wedding photo album and Shea’s first year photo album – both long overdue.

That’s about it for this week. Next post: Birth Story


Filed under Motherhood, Pregnancy

Nine days and counting every minute

Oh Lord, I can’t do nine more days of this! I’m having contractions like crazy. I’ll be surprised if she waits until the third to arrive, but who knows. I didn’t swim yesterday, started timing contractions today because I was having so many, but nothing consistent yet. Did get woken up by them both last night and from a (short) nap today. Feeling more and more uncomfortable. Ready for her to come out. Too lazy at night to do any “goals,” so just chewing through Mad Men episodes like crazy.

Leave a comment

Filed under Family, Motherhood, Pregnancy

10 Days to Go


Well, 10 days until my due date, but it may well be longer than that since Shea was 10 days late. The baby room is mostly ready – all cute and pink, although I haven’t put anything on the walls yet. I have decals on order that will spell out her name, but I’ll wait until after she’s born to put them up since her name is a secret.

I’ve been having contractions on and off, but nothing major. I found out the Friday before last that the baby was no longer head down, but transverse, so I went in for a version this past Friday and when they did the ultrasound they found that she was head down again, so I didn’t have to do anything – thank God, since versions are supposed to be painful and are only successful 50 percent of the time.

I’m still swimming on Mondays, working Monday afternoons and Wednesdays, tutoring two nights per week, editing one morning per week and taking care of Shea Tuesdays, Thursdays and Friday afternoons. Last week we had a lot of fun, and it felt good to spend some quality time playing with Shea. I feel like I’ve been spending too much time dragging him around on errands lately instead of taking him to parks. But Thursday morning we went to the Oakland Zoo (and went on the merry-go-round, too). Thursday afternoon I set up his new kiddie pool and his grandma brought him a beach ball sprinkler and we hung out in the backyard for two hours. It was so nice to do something fun outdoors without driving (or even walking down the street) to a park. I really wish our backyard had some landscaping (the gardens are wild and the deck is about to collapse), but it will happen SOME day! Right now I have a big long list of things I want to do before the baby is born. Friday we went to Live Oak park for our French play group and today we had a BBQ in Tilden with the same group (it was FREEZING in Tilden this afternoon!), and taking care of Shea is so much easier when there are other kids around for him to play with.

As for my to-do list, I’m still sending my book to agents. Three of them have it now, and I queried a fourth today. Three rejections so far – two with very encouraging e-mails telling me that I just need to find the right agent, and the third a form rejection.

I’m writing 15 minutes a day on my new book, which may seem like nothing but is incredibly difficult when a) I have a million other things to do and the days go by incredibly fast (it’s usually 9:30 p.m. and I’m sitting down to watch Mad Men and then think, “I’d better do my 15 min first or I won’t get it done) and b) when I don’t know what the heck to write because the concept of the book is still so fresh/vague in my brain.

Still editing, still doing tutoring prep, still learning Scrivener, still reading blogs about publishing, still planning to get my photo albums done one of these days. Busy busy busy.

Shea is doing great. He’s talking more and more, so much that I can no longer keep up with his list of new words. He’s running a lot, climbing up bars and going down slides, coloring every day, kicking and throwing balls constantly (his favorite pastime), ALWAYS on the move. He seems to like babies and loves the baby girl doll and stroller we bought for him. He put her in the swing today and rocked her back and forth. Let’s hope he’s as gentle with the real one when she arrives!

I haven’t blogged much about this pregnancy because it’s gone by so fast, because it’s been uneventful, because I feel fine and know what to expect this time. I can’t say I’m looking forward to labor and can’t say I was terribly upset when I heard she was transverse and that I may need a C-section. A C-section sounds way less painful than labor without drugs, but I’m happy that everything is okay. I’m looking forward to the birth, but not the hours preceding it.

I’m totally hooked on Mad Men. We’ll probably finish Season One tonight and start Season Two later this week. It’s my only break from work. I’m up past midnight every night, often on my computer, and it’s really nice to take a break every few nights to watch TV. Speaking of which, it’s time I logged off and did that right now.

Leave a comment

Filed under Motherhood, Pregnancy, Writing

The Countdown Begins!

Old-fashioned typewriter

In writing news, I’ve received two very nice rejections from agents (with comments like, “great writing, compelling story, you should pursue this, you just need to find the right agent, feel free to send me other work,” etc. while two others requested to see the full manuscript and will get back to me after vacation in mid-September. So right now my goals are to:

1. Query four more agents
2. Get my website redesigned
3. Learn as much as I can about blogging, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
4. Work on new book (need to start entering notes into Scrivener)

Besides writing-related goals, I still have to:

1. Finish decorating the baby room
2. Read my friend’s manuscript
3. Get a lot of editing work done for my client before the baby comes
4. Continue tutoring
5. Work on photo albums (wanted to get these done, but so far it doesn’t look good)

And I want to:

1. Sleep
2. Watch TV
3. Swim
4. Spend a lot of time with Shea while he’s still the only child
5. Sleep some more

19 days left! Maybe less, maybe more. How much can I get done?

Leave a comment

Filed under Motherhood, Pregnancy, Writing

Turn Baby Turn


I went to my OB appointment yesterday to find out that my baby is no longer head down. She’s not completely breech, but she is sideways (back up, feet down, head on the side), so next Friday, if she hasn’t turned back by then, I’ll go to the hospital for a version, where they try to flip the baby by pressing on your belly (at least I think that’s how they do it). Not supposed to be the most pleasant experience. If that doesn’t work—and it often doesn’t—there are 16 other things I can try, including swimming to the bottom of a pool and acupuncture. Some of the suggestions sound a bit hokey, like “place iPod headphones inside mom’s pants toward her public bone and play classical music for 10 minutes 6-8 times a day.” I guess I’m reluctant to try too many of these techniques because what if she flips the wrong way and becomes completely breech? Right now she’s only at a 90-degree angle. Either way, though, if she doesn’t move, I’ll have to have a C-section. Doctors don’t generally deliver breech babies anymore, and since mine is feet down, my OB said that’s the most dangerous position because if my water breaks, there is no head or butt there to seal the opening and all the fluid will leak out, and possibly even the cord. So should be an action-packed last couple of weeks. (I have 19 days to go).

In other news, I taught Shea how to swear the other day. I set the hand soap on the windowsill in the kitchen where it always goes, but because it was a very hot day the window was wide open and the soap fell out the window. I said, “Oh shit” and Shea, who was coloring on the floor behind me, said, “Oh shit. Oh shit.” I had to try really hard not to laugh, but I did and said nothing and he hasn’t said it since. He’s in total parrot mode right now, repeating everything we say. And the language thing is funny. He always says, “l’eau” for water, but all day yesterday he was asking for “agua” and when he wanted his small sippy cup, “petite agua” and the big one, “grande agua.” He knows little and big, and we’re trying to teach him colors since his favorite new activity is coloring in coloring books (and on the couch, the kitchen floor, the placemats, etc.) I think he understands that the baby is coming because the past few days he’s started this fake crying thing that’s really annoying. When he doesn’t get what he wants (like to play games on Martin’s iPhone), he pretends to cry, and he is NOT much of a crier, so I’m not used to it. We bought him a little stroller and an anatomically correct girl doll to prepare him for the baby, and he loves both. He took his “baby” to Target Thursday and to the park yesterday. Just hope he doesn’t throw his sister into the sand when he’s bored with her like he does with his baby.

1 Comment

Filed under Motherhood, Pregnancy, Writing

Dr. Shea

Yesterday I was unpacking Shea’s old baby clothes and came across this little machine that makes a heartbeat sound to calm the baby. We didn’t use it for Shea, but I turned it on for him to hear. He took it from me, pressed the button again to turn it back on, then lifted up my shirt and rubbed it up and down on my belly. WTF? I hadn’t told him it was for the baby, and couldn’t figure out how on earth he knew to associate it with my belly. Until today. I went to my weekly OB app and the doctor did what she always does – lifts up my shirt, places the ultrasound machine on my belly, rubs it up and down and – poof! Heartbeat sound! Shea comes to my appts with me and has evidently been observing this procedure and decided to give mom an ultrasound yesterday! Amazing how much they take in that we don’t realize.

1 Comment

Filed under Family, Motherhood, Pregnancy