Do you ever feel like your life is like a TV show, but not in a good way? More like a Seinfeld kind of way, when all you can do to keep from crying is shake your head and laugh?
Episode one. I present for a labor check at 38 weeks (determined to be false labor), and find out baby boy is BREECH when at my appointment the week prior, he was firmly declared vertex! The plan is to do an external cephalic version immediately, as I am an ideal candidate. I wait nearly 11 hours, NPO, cranky, uncomfortable, and tethered to an IV pole, and at last the Ob team assembles to do the version. AS they are putting on gloves, all their pagers go off. Oh no. No. No! It’s a gyn surgical emergency, a stabbing!! A resident returns to give me the choice to wait several more hours with no guarantee of doing the version, or to schedule it for first thing the next morning. My hangry state tells me to postpone… which in retrospect is likely the wrong choice. My “false” contractions progressively and subtly transition into excruciating ones over the next 8 hours at home (I’ve lost confidence in knowing what’s real after the false alarm earlier), and at 2:30am I find myself driving alone to the hospital, jaw clenched, sobbing, and pulling over for contractions (my husband is at home with our daughter). I am 9 cm dilated - time for emergency C section - and our perfect son makes his debut with a bang thirty minutes later.
Episode two. I find out a week after our son was born that, by some miracle, I’ve received a research grant I applied for last winter. The catch? I’m required to attend the organization’s national meeting in 4 weeks to accept the award at a formal dinner. After weighing all the options, we decide to go as a family. It’s a fun city, only a 3-hour flight, expenses are partially covered, and I‘d have the opportunity to attend an awesome conference. A two year old and a 5 week old in a small hotel room together? No problem! The reality? Every day we desperately invest hours in the possibility of achieving overlapping naptime so we, too, could sleep.
Needless to say, I don’t get to attend much of the conference. I try going to talks, I really do. It’s a lot to ask my husband to watch both of them, so I go to a few presentations with the baby strapped on, hanging out by the exit door. The night of the awards ceremony finally comes. Milk pumped, baby topped off, toddler excited, husband feeling strong. But alas, this is how the evening ultimately ends.
Episode three. The number one question I’m asked during prenatal care? By multiple people at every single appointment, from 6 weeks through the bitter end? “What method of contraception do you plan to use afterwards?” This is to the point where I can only assume they think I got pregnant on accident and are doing anything possible to prevent me from letting it happen again. Every time, without fail, I say, “IUD.” Even while being prepped for my emergency CS, crying in pain, someone manages to come around and ask me if I’d like the IUD inserted... “NOT. NOW!!!” I scream. Finally, the big day comes to do my IUD insertion, at my 6-week postpartum visit (which of course requires me to bring my newborn along). When I make the appointment, they ask again if I want an IUD inserted so they can allot enough time. Mid-way through the appointment, my Ob tells me, “I’m sorry, but the administrator who gets insurance approval for IUDs is out for the morning unexpectedly, so we actually can’t do the IUD today. But don’t worry, we’ll schedule you for next week, no problem!” CUE FOREHEAD SLAP.
The stories go on and on. I will share a few more.
Feeling the sweet warmth of a blow-out spread across my sleeve as my son, who won’t nap in the crib, sleeps in the crook of my arm as I frantically try to get through the RISE exam before he wakes up (I don't stop taking the test, by the way).
Watching cake batter overflow and drip down the oven rack gratings in a million little chocolate stalactites at 4:30am while baking a birthday cake for my mother in law.
Dropping said mother-in-law off at airport. So out of it and exhausted, I accidentally drive in the buses-only lane at departures. I have never ever done this in my life. An airport official runs over and tells me to leave immediately before I get fined ($500!!) and I get out of there… but alas, a cop is waiting for me at the very end. Sigh. (But with a wailing newborn in the backseat, I fortunately get off with only a formal warning.)
We have a few warm days last week. I smell something weird. I am fearful it is something with the sump pump or crawl space (we live in a renovated brick rowhome). Long long story short, there is a dead rat in the crawl space. Yes. A. Dead. Rat. Next door had an infestation, exterminators came, rats ate poison, and one managed to get through a crumbling brick and into our crawl space. And died. No words. This is an ongoing saga. Involving the services of a mason- I never imagined I'd need a real mason, but apparently I do. But it will be ok.
And the clincher. What inspires me to sit down and write this. What drives me to actually throw my head back and laugh with tears in my eyes. Baby has his 2 month immunizations this morning, and poor thing is angry and uncomfortable… he just needs to take a nice long nap. And THIS is what I come home to- view from his window.
This is when all you can do is laugh. And be grateful for health and for even the capacity to laugh. And embrace all of this self-inflicted chaos, the q2-3 hour wake up calls that still aren't stretching out after 8 weeks, the blow-outs, projectile vomit, and laundry. So much laundry. Laugh at the fact that your parents, who had lived just an hour away, decide to move to Asia a month before baby is born, leaving you again without family support postpartum (we tell each other it's building character). Accept the frustrating feeling of hard-earned knowledge seeping out of your brain even after a few short weeks, trying to have the will-power to study and attend resident didactics and research seminars (sometimes with a sleeping newborn hidden under your jacket), but often failing.
But there are some TV/movie moments. When I sink my lips into the soft pillows of my son's cheeks, also becoming aware of my daughter's pudge melting away silently. The indescribable joy of seeing our daughter transform into a sibling. When my heart explodes witnessing first smiles and giggles. The sacredness of feeling the body of such a vulnerable little human relax in your arms. Awe that I can muster up secret stores of energy and patience that are fueled only by love when I have nothing left. And awe at the magnitude of this love. So it's time to celebrate- although it hasn't been pretty, we've made it through the newborn trenches once again.