Infant Acid Reflux Survival Guide

Welcome to the infant acid reflux club!

Infant acid reflux occurs when the ring of muscle between the esophagus and stomach doesn’t fully mature, causing food to head back north. Your beautiful bundle of joy has either been diagnosed with infant acid reflux, or you highly suspect he/she has it.

If you’re not sure, it may be prudent to see your pediatrician if the following is your life:

  1. Baby spits up a lot. Like everything you just worked so hard to get in him/her. Whether you’re feeding breast milk or formula, it’s frustrating, and messy, and scary to see such a volume of liquid come back out of your infant.
  2. Baby screams/cries after spitting up. This could be an “I’m still hungry” cry, or it could be pain from their stomach acid. Either way, you want to fix it so your little one can enjoy the full-belly feeling of a good meal, and you can enjoy the post-meal snuggles with a happy, content baby.
  3. You feel like you’re constantly feeding your child. Or cleaning up the mess. Lather, rinse, and repeat.

If your baby has been diagnosed with acid reflux:

Congratulations! You’re one step closer to helping your baby enjoy eating and feeling satisfied. And you’ve joined a club that many parents have been admitted to. A sloppy, smelly, messy, frustrating club. It sucks, but you’re not alone. (And keep reminding yourself – there are worse problems to have.)

I was told this stage should clear up by 18 months. “Eighteen months!” I cried. “But that’s solid food!” My son’s doctor patted my hand and said, “I could be sooner.” And he was right. My son’s massive spit-ups stopped at 9 months old. I was able to enjoy feeding him again and not always smelling like sour milk.

Here are some tips for getting through infant acid reflux:

  1. Ask your pediatrician about medicine.
    We were given a prescription for the generic form of baby Zantac. We were supposed to give it to him 20 minutes before we fed him a bottle, but we often forgot, so he got it just beforehand, and eventually, we just added it to his bottle. We got lazy, but it still worked its magic. Keep in mind, it can take a week or two to start working.
  2. Know that the medicine won’t stop the spit-ups – it just stops the acidy pain your baby feels after he/she throws up.
    I know… it’s not fair. Why isn’t there a medicine that will stop the puking? The puking will continue until the valve in your baby’s throat fully forms to stop the food from returning. But at least the painful screams/cries are gone.
  3. Consider a safe way to put your baby to sleep propped up.
    We kept ours in a bassinet, and we propped it slightly up in the crib using rolled blankets and towels, so he was elevated while he slept. It helped reduce the bedtime crying. There are products for elevating a crib mattress, or you can elevate one side of the whole crib. (Just make sure you consult your doctor and do it safely!) An incline can’t be too severe or your baby will roll to an unsafe place. Also, we placed our baby on his left side, which helped keep food down. (You may remember sleeping on your left side during pregnancy. With the shape of the stomach, it helps reduce heart burn.)
  4. Become a burp master.
    Feed small amounts, an ounce or two at a time, between burp sessions. If we burped as we fed him, the amount of spit-up was lessened. There is nothing worse than feeling the entire bottle empty down your back or your front the second you lift your child. Learn different burp techniques. You may find one way works better than others for letting out the air. For a hot minute, this technique worked wonders.
  5. Always have multiple burp cloths around.
    Not the ones marketed as “burp cloths” that you probably got at your baby shower. Those thin, flimsy things are not prepared for acid reflux. Get the generic cloth diapers that come in packs of 10. Get at least 30 of them. (Besides, you have a child now. There will always be messes to clean up, and they work great!) They are superior at soaking up liquid. We had a stack of them in every room in our house. There was always one within arm’s reach, in my purse, in our cars, diaper bag, etc. We never handed our baby off to a family member without first giving them a burp cloth or two. It’s also convenient if you have an older child who likes to pour water everywhere or smear yogurt from her breakfast all over her face. There’s always a cloth nearby.
burpcloths
These things are your new best friend.
  1. Be prepared to do a lot of laundry, and find a good stain remover/laundry detergent.
    The baby’s clothes and your clothes will always have spit-up stains. Don’t wear your fancy clothes until this stage passes, because your baby will puke on them. Or wear a robe or sweatshirt over your outfit until you get free of the baby. You’ll be doing laundry a lot, unless you’ve got a good stock of clothes to go through. I always washed clothes when the kids’ laundry baskets got half full. It helped to reduce the unpleasant smell in the house. (I also enjoy doing laundry for some reason. I’m weird like that.)
  2. Stock up on bibs and keep one on your child.
    You’ll often get so good at burping your child, you’ll be able to catch the returned food in the bib before it hits your lap or the floor. We also kept a stack of bibs on the couch where we fed the baby, right next to the burp cloths. My son dirtied at least 10 a day.
  3. Consider rolling away the nice area rug to avoid the spills. And cover the couch.
    Rugs are awful to clean — get them out of the way. Also, we put beach towels down on our couch. It didn’t look pretty, but wet scrubbing spots on the couch don’t either. And whatever chemical concoction makes up formula spit-up doesn’t want to come out. You can spot scrub all day, but only a spray, soak and full wash would get it out of our couch covers.
  4. Find a non-toxic air freshener or candle you enjoy, or open the windows.
    I was horrified when my best friend came over and told me my house smells like baby puke. It’s amazing what you can get used to. Don’t get nose blind.
  5. Enjoy the clean smell of your partner and your baby after a bath or shower.
    It is fleeting.

Acid reflux is a frustrating stage but you will get through it! One day, not far from now, you’ll realize your baby hasn’t puked on you in a day or two. And it’ll be time to wean him/her off the medicine and put this yucky time behind you. Until then, hang in there! You got this!

Got a suggestion or question? Leave it in the comments!

Parent of a Soon-to-Be Kindergartener

As a new mom, I’m struggling to figure out the school system in Los Angeles, the second largest in the nation. There are roughly three-quarters of a million children in the LAUSD, over 720 square miles. In my hometown, if you live near a school, you go to that school. No big deal. At least, that’s how I remembered it.  In LA, you are surrounded by schools. But some are not so great. And some are great. But they are all packed to the gills with kids, so you have to compete/win a lottery to get in.

Our assigned public school has a GreatSchools rating of 4 out of 10. Of the few reviews I can find on it, they report that the kids don’t speak English, hence the poor scores. And because the parents don’t speak English, they’re not involved. And the school struggles with funding. I don’t want to see my daughter in a Kindergarten where she can’t speak the language of her classmates. I haven’t toured the school yet, and I know I should and not make judgments when I haven’t even seen it, but it just doesn’t get me excited for her. I mean, yeah, she can pick up a second language while she’s there, sure, but I don’t want her to feel alone. New schools are hard enough. I couldn’t imagine being in one where no one understood me.

So, I learned about Magnet schools, and I applied to two. We’ll be entered into a lottery for our first choice, and if we’re not chosen, we’ll be entered into a lottery for our second choice. If not chosen, we remain on the wait list. There’s some sort of matriculation point system for applying to magnet schools, and we have 4 points. We can get 4 points a year for up to 3 years for applying and remaining on the wait list. You can also get points for other things, most that don’t apply to us. The students with the most points get chosen first. If we’re chosen and choose not to attend, our points disappear. But please. It ain’t happening.

So, then I learned about Charter schools. I’ve found 5 or 6 in my area, and I’m in the process of picking up applications at those schools to apply, but again, we’ll be put on a waiting list for a lottery, along with probably hundreds of other kids, and there are several qualifications we don’t have that will put us at the bottom of the wait list. We find out later the results of the lottery and where we are on the list.

Then there’s something called Open Enrollment, where schools with spaces have applications available the first week of May and hold a drawing in early June. But why does this just seem like a pipe dream? Are there really schools in LA who aren’t full? Really?

And then there’s something about inter- or intra-district permits, and at this point, my head has just exploded…

After all that… I don’t know what’s next. Walk into the neighborhood schools I like and beg? I’m a ball of stress about this – and she’s only going into Kindergarten! Why is it so hard to get my kid into a Kindergarten? I mean, how hard is it to run a good Kindergarten?! My daughter is bright and funny and delightful – schools should compete to get her enrolled! What the fuck, LAUSD?!

I know Kindergarten is not required. I could carry on with her in Preschool and enroll her in 1st grade next year, or pay someone to homeschool her, but I really want her to have a stable, positive school experience, starting with Kindergarten. I want to know where she’s going beyond that year, and relax a little. I want to have faith in her teachers and her curriculum and the district that they’ll be good for her, and she will be happy. I just don’t know how to make it happen.

This is reason #859,346 why I don’t think we’ll make it out here. Los Angeles, you make it so hard.

Update:
After learning we were #180 on the waitlist at our dream school, on the waitlist for our first magnet choice, #27 at another school and #6 at another school (sigh) …. We learned that C1 won a lottery spot at a Charter! It’s a school I randomly found online, noticed that they allowed online applications, so I applied without giving it much thought. As it turns out, it’s a well-respected school with a great reputation. I took a tour and loved what I saw. It’s 10 miles away, so not the easiest commute, but it feels like such a load off to know she’ll be in a good school, I don’t even care. We got lucky. Whew! Thank you, Universe! My sweet baby will get a good education in her first year of school.

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Slow Down, Baby

Mom confession: I couldn’t wait until my newborn wasn’t a newborn anymore. Those first three months dragged by, in my opinion. I’m sure it’s a combination of sleep deprivation and out of whack hormones, plus my dislike of and struggle with breastfeeding, but man, those days were hard. Happy to report I survived and am feeling a little more stable now. I find parenting a 9-month-old so much more fun and rewarding. He’s not so delicate now, he sleeps mostly through the night, he’s eating real food, and slamming bottles and growing chubbier. His spit-ups and acid reflux seems to be getting better. He smiles and laughs with abandon at his sister, crawls around and pulls himself up to explore the house … it’s delightful to witness.

My only problem is now I want him to slow down! He literally went from getting up on his hands and knees, to crawling, to pulling himself up, to cruising along furniture within 5 days of each other. He’s trying to climb things now. (Thankful I have no stairs in my house.) I know in a blink he’ll be walking. It’s all moving too fast! He already tries to get away if I snuggle or kiss his cheeks too much. I know the days of running away from mom are coming.

Just not yet, baby. Let me carry you some more, smell your head, cradle you in my arms after your bottle as your eyes slowly blink closed. Let me keep whispering in your ears, “You are so beautiful. I love you so much.” I relish you right now. Please don’t grow.

9mosb

I remember these days with my first child, and how quickly they flew by. There was that period of time when she ran away from me, not to me, and she didn’t want me to carry her or hug her. She was too busy exploring. It took forever before she was happy to see me when I picked up from the nanny’s. Now she’s 4 1/2. And she wants to cuddle and spend time with me and play with me … and a lot of times I can’t because her baby brother needs my attention first. My heart breaks a little each time she asks, “Mommy, will you play with me?” And I can’t. “In a little bit,” I tell her, “First, I have to feed your brother/put him to bed/change him/make dinner/get laundry going,” etc. I know she needs me. And I’m sad for her. I hope she’s growing up a little, and not being neglected in this phase of her childhood. She’s learning to play by herself, which I know is good for her development. But I know we need more mommy/daughter time. She’s so hungry for my attention, I mustn’t dismiss it.

In the meantime, her father makes sure to spend time with her, while I have the baby. It’s just how it goes. He adores her. They have dance parties. They read books in a tent outside. They go out for ice cream or donuts and walks around the block. They play Candyland and race cars. They do the messy stuff I hate: playdoh, painting, jumping in puddles. When we get our time alone together, it’s usually to go to one of her friend’s houses for a playdate, where the kids play and the moms chill. What I need to do is schedule more mall dates. Nail appointments. Lunches. “Just us girls?” she asks. “Yippee!” Just us girls.

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How do you moms of more than one balance time with each child? Did you have any jealousy issues when your first child became a sibling?

Hollywood Dreams, Empty Wallet

One year and 3 months ago, I lost my job of 13 years. I was making really good money, though I didn’t really know it at the time. (It never seems like enough, does it?) In an industry with high turnover and even higher employer expectations — television — I kept my head down and tried not to get much attention. I never got a promotion, really — but I never got fired either. It was the safest way to operate here. Coast through the middle, mostly unnoticed, get my paycheck and go home. After 13 years, I still enjoyed parts of my job. I knew that what I had was pretty great, so I appreciated the consistent work.

Then the millionaire host of the TV show I worked on decided he was spending too much money and started laying off entire departments of his show. No one understood why. We were a crew that built his brand from the ground up. He was very successful. But as the years went by, he wanted more money. Blatant advertisements went into the middle of his show, including his wife’s product lines. His staff was expected to work on several other shows and websites he and his family were producing. We promoted his books like they were the new Bible. It seemed like everything was about money in his pockets. Just as season 14 began, they eliminated my department, the website. They let go of 10 of us, kept 2 and brought in the parent company to take over all the sites. (I can only imagine how those people were shitting themselves. It was a massive undertaking keeping all his balls in the air.)

I was newly pregnant at the time. So were two others. It was shocking when they called me in first. “We’re eliminating your position. Here’s a check for the rest of this week and two more weeks. Good luck.” By the end of the day, the entire department was gone. I got home and thought, well, it wasn’t going to last forever, and I certainly earned a little time off. I worked on my resume and job search, but maybe not as hard as I should. I was also growing a baby, and the relaxing part felt really good. After a few months, when I was visibly pregnant, it seemed like a job was impossible at that point. Who was going to hire someone so close to needing maternity leave? No one. I did get an initial interview with Oprah.com, and worked for three days on a producer test that I thought I nailed, but that didn’t get me anywhere. So, I chilled. I had unemployment, then pregnancy disability, then I pushed a baby out, then I had family leave… It was nice. Money was tight, but we were doing OK.

Unemployment ran out, and then I scrambled. A friend got me a job – Yay! But it was less than half of what I was making before. Boo. It was nice to have something to get me out of the house for sure, and I was grateful to be working somewhere in such an uncertain time. But it wasn’t a great job. The company seemed shady. The commute was long. I had no leadership, not enough work, no feedback, and I had to clock out for lunch. (At one point, I was in an office that had rats. You could hear them running in the ceiling over your head.) It’s like the last 13 years didn’t happen, and I was down at the start again. After 3 months, they laid me off.

My child is 9 months old now. And we’re on our way to not being OK. We are $2-3K short every month. We need to work on our budget and cut everything back, but other than cable, I’m not sure how or where. We only have a couple grand left in our savings account. So that means in about 2 months, we’ll be in the red. Excuse me while I have a small panic attack.– ………

I used to be a Web Producer. But now, I just can’t get excited about it. I read the job descriptions and technical requirements, and I don’t feel like I’m a match. I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to be doing anymore. I came out here to work in film but landed in television, which up til now was really good to me. I love the entertainment industry. I don’t want to give up. I still want to get on another show, in any capacity (except one which requires nights and weekends, obviously.) But more and more, I’m thinking I’m going to have to go down to the local Target/Costco/Bevmo/Trader Joe’s and just work there. I’m not above regular work. But it scares me. The longer I’m out of the industry, the harder it will be to get back in. And then why live here?

Here’s a peek inside my brain most of the time:

I need to get a job. What is wrong with me? Why am I so bad at this? I suck. No one is looking at my resume. I can’t promote myself. Networking, ugh, it makes me sweat. I have a horrible time making phone calls, reaching out. I have no idea if my resume is any good. I don’t even know what my passion is anymore, or what my talents are. I’m just sooo tired. And fat. I have bad self-esteem, no self-confidence, and I’m sure there’s some depression thrown in too. Who’s going to hire me? I just want to curl up in a ball in bed and escape in sleep. The pressure on my husband is horrible, I’m sure. I know I need to work harder. I clearly need therapy. But I have shitty health insurance. I need to get to a healthier place, but I also just want to go to bed. I can’t sleep. My neck has been jacked up for about a year. I’m in a bad mood most of the time, and I’m sure living with me isn’t very fun right now.

And Donald Trump just became our president. Fuuuuuuuuuucccckkkkk…. How on earth are we going to survive this?

I know, right?! I’m a mess. Am I the only one? Hello? Anyone else out there? Panicked moms unite!

scream

Transitions

Rejoice! We’ve moved the baby out of our bedroom! He’s 8 months old and sleeping through the night. Mostly. We had to give up our office, which is now crammed into our too-small bedroom, but the benefits outweigh the headaches:

1) I will now get more and better sleep. I still wake up a few times a night to check on him. He’ll become half awake and start “singing” (his soothing noise) and although he falls back asleep on his own, I still gotta go make sure he’s OK and covered with his blanket. So, I don’t sleep through the night yet, but that time will come. (Maybe. Maybe not. I’m a sleep flunky.) Now we just gotta work on the 4.5-year-old not coming into our room at night and asking for a hug.

2) Our relationship has been put on hold, basically, up til now. You try making time and energy for romance with a baby 2 feet from your bed. Not happening. So now he’s in his own room, and while I am currently making sleep a priority, I do have plans for making other activities happen soon. (Ewwwww… I know.) Kudos to my awesome hubs for being so patient (and also tired.)

Of course, now that we’ve reorganized the rooms, which involved quite a bit of sweat and effort on DH’s part, I am looking around at our tiny rental house we can barely afford, crammed with toys and baby stuff, and I want out. I never wanted to live here this long (2.5 years now. The roof leaks for crying out loud!) All I see around me is an increasingly unaffordable city, whether you rent or buy. I don’t know where we would want to live outside of Los Angeles, but my desire for a house of our own is only growing, and this city squashes home-ownership dreams like a bug. At this rate, even if I got a better paying job and got us back to our pre-approved $500-550K home loan quote, the only city we could afford a house is Tujunga. (Meh. It’s doable, but meh.) Our valley dreams would have to involve a condo or townhome. I’m open to that, especially if it’s spacious and has cool amenities like a pool or gym, but DH is not. He’s really stuck on the back yard thing. But me, I just want to start investing in something. Rent will continue to go up. And ownership is going to be the smart choice long-term.

I’ve been reading real estate sites and came across an article that recommends knowing exactly what you want — and what you need. So here we go:

What I absolutely need in my next home:

  • 3 bedroom, 2 bathrooms. I’m done with sharing one bathroom. The twice a year stomach bug we all catch is reason enough.
  • Near good schools. The LA school system is complicated when your assigned public school is not rated well, and you want better for your kids. I want out of this headache.
  • Central air/heat. This is CA and if we’re still in the valley, it is hot as hell in the summer. I don’t need a pool, but I need to feel comfortable in my house.
  • Mostly updated appliances, features, and structures. I don’t want a fixer upper. I can repaint and replace a crappy stove, but I don’t want to tear down walls, replace floors or anything to do with plumbing.
  • A quiet street. No high traffic, no freeway noise. The only annoying neighborhood noise I will accept is dog barks, leaf blowers and helicopters hovering (because they’re everywhere.)

What I would absolutely love in my next home:

  • A big backyard. For playing, for entertaining, for our future dog to go poop.
  • An open concept.
  • Storage. We have too much stuff.
  • Hardwood floors.
  • Laundry room.

See? I’m not so complicated. A girl just wants room for her family to grow in a nice neighborhood in CA. Is that too much to ask? (Yes, I know. Don’t tell me.)

natickhouse
Get me out of here.

A Mom of Two

I’m still getting used to the fact that I had two kids. Kids! There’s on S on that! I have more than one! So weird.

New babies are hard, y’all. I’m just now, at 6 months in, emerging from the constant fog that enveloped me during the newborn stage. Not my favorite phase, that one.

Little C2 is a bit of a challenging baby. He’s got acid reflux. Or, as I call it, The Pukes! Supposedly a valve is underdeveloped or something, so a lot of times, the formula that goes down comes back up. In the early days, there was much screaming because of the acid. We got that under control with Zantac, thankfully. But that doesn’t stop the mess. Pick up the baby – he spits up. Burp the baby – he spits up. Lay the baby down – he sits up. The poor kid is constantly covered in his own yuck. He’s a mess. And our house smells like baby vomit. And that outfit I just put on? Yeah, it’s gonna get dirty. We do a ton of laundry. And we are single-handedly keeping the old-fashioned cloth diapers in business as they make great burp cloths. We have them stashed within arm’s reach all over the house. You don’t hold little C2 without one. And bibs – we switch them out for a clean one about three times an hour.

He’s also a rashy baby. He has eczema on his cracks – behind his ears, inside the elbow, back of knees, etc. Turns out sensitive skin goes along with eczema, so a common heat rash makes mom go, “OMG, WTF is happening to you?! Call the doctor!” He keeps me on my toes, that’s for sure. Speaking of toes, he has ingrown ones, thanks to his father.

I know C1 was sleeping through the night around 3 months old because I blogged about it. We are still waiting with C2. He’s also still in our bedroom, so that could account for some of my inability to sleep. We blast pink noise from my phone to help calm him at night and knock him out. It sort of works. But it’s not the most restful atmosphere for me. When he’s asleep, I turn it down, and sometimes I turn on brown noise, which is less grating, but it’s still there, that constant noise, noise, noise. When I shut it off in the morning, it’s a delicious relief.

We’ve got to get the baby moved out of our bedroom. I think everyone will start to sleep better then. (And our bedroom won’t smell like poopy diapers anymore – yay!) We do get occasional nights when he will sleep a good 4-6 hour stretch before waking up. But even then, I wake up and check on him. Because he’s so quiet. Which is suspicious of course. (Insert eye roll here.) Other nights, he wakes up a lot. We had him bottle trained at night, meaning we didn’t feed him for eight hours at least. But then he got sick, and before we knew it, we were back to middle of the night feeds just because it’s easier. He doesn’t take a pacifier and won’t suck his thumb — which is BEYOND frustrating —  so feeding him is the only way to stop the crying. Most nights we’re up 4-6 times trying to get him back to sleep. It’s these nights that I say to myself: “It’s going to be OK. You’ve been sleep deprived worse than this and you lived. It won’t always be like this. You’re a good mom. You’re there for your baby. He needs you. He’ll sleep again soon.” It helps to repeat positive messages in my head. It’s pretty amazing how a mom can rally for her kids. We really are superheroes.

He’s only six months old but has already had at least 5 illnesses (thank you, big sister.) He currently has had a running nose and cough for two weeks. It really makes it hard for him to sleep well. Stuffy noses are not OK. He hasn’t had his 6-month shots yet because at his checkup, he had a fever. That lasted for five days. Now this current crud. I keep having to push back the shots. His immune system better step up because the germs are not going away with an older sister in preschool. Poor little nugget.

But despite our current struggles, it’s WAY easier than it was. The newborn stage nearly did me in. The sleep deprivation, the frustration … it was rough. I don’t know if he’s a more difficult baby or if it’s just because I’m older and more tired now, but sheesh, had I known it would be like this, I would not have jumped on the two kid bandwagon. There were nights where I could do nothing but cry with my child, until DH could tap in. Now we’re through the worst of it, fingers crossed. We can actually enjoy him now and each day we’re more excited to spend time with him.

Our little nugget is sitting up on his own now – until he topples over. I’m so excited for this stage. He doesn’t love being laid down to play, and you can only keep him entertained for so long while holding him. The jumperoo thing works for a little while. I see him get frustrated when he can’t reach things, so I look forward to seeing him reach for toys without falling and crawl to them. We have some serious baby proofing to do though. C1’s tiny toys are everywhere, just waiting to end up in his throat. Gah!

So, this post really highlights the shit that comes with new babies, huh? I’m sleep deprived, covered in puke and constantly moving, trying to figure out how to entertain my 4-year-old while feeding my baby, or make my baby happy while trying to make dinner, unable to stop moming until my husband comes home from work or they’re both asleep at 9pm. And then I grab my glass of wine and high five myself for another day survived. Whew. Yay me!

momoftwo
A poor mom’s bumbo seat. Don’t judge.
6mos
A happy little gentleman

Welcome Baby #2!

Introducing C.A.D.! (I decided to keep their names anonymous. You never know what they’ll mad at you for when they’re grown.) Or C2 for short.

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My little nugget

 

C2 was born May 2, 2016 at 8:57am. He was 8 pounds, 8 ounces and 21 inches. He was born in a little over 6 hours from when we started the process, and after only 15 pushes in 16 minutes. (They aren’t kidding when they say birth goes faster after #1! Thank you Jesus!)

Here’s how it all went down, as I try to recall it using the notes I jotted in my phone:

Because I was going to be induced, we checked into the hospital at midnight. A little later, actually, because we couldn’t find the right parking lot and entrance to the labor and delivery unit. Thankfully I wasn’t in actual labor as I was already exhausted and fuming, standing on the street while I waiting for DH to park the car wherever he believed he needed to park. Check in took a  long time, and I remember having to waddle from one part of the building to another and back, trying to find the area I was supposed to be in. We got ushered into a room that was so tiny, the lady could barely close the door with me sitting down in front of her desk. All I remember from the questions was this one: “It seems like you have a balance of $7,000 or so. Would you like to pay that now?” Um… no? “Ok, that’s fine. I’m required to ask that.” Whew! Having shitty insurance is so fun!

We eventually made it to a labor and delivery room, and I made myself comfortable in the bed while DH tried to figure out how he was going to rest in the half-cot-looking couch thing. He was rescued by a nurse who informed him, “It pulls out.” “Unlike you!” I joked. Bah-dum-bum.

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Let’s get this party started!

 

They gave me Pitocin at 2:45am. Around the time DH was asleep on the couch, and I was trying and failing to rest. Contractions began 15 minutes later, and oooh, boy, they were intense immediately. DH was resting, so I was trying to breathe through them and just deal. I don’t know why, but I felt like I should wait a bit to ask for the epidural. I mean, surely they won’t get that bad so fast. Maybe I can even sleep a little…

Hahahaha!

At 4:00am, I was almost crying. I held out for a few more minutes and finally rang for a nurse at 4:20.

“I’m ready for the epidural.”

“Oh, you want that now?” (What I heard was, “Oh, already??”)

“Yes, please. This really sucks.”

Ten minutes later, I was bracing myself through a contraction, trying but failing to breathe, when my water broke. Whooosh! A nurse or doctor was there, and I groaned out, “Aaaaand, my water just broke.” No one really reacted. I was sitting in a puddle, expecting some sort of reaction, when I think maybe a nurse went, “OK.” I mean, come on, this is news! Shouldn’t I get some applause or something at this point? (I’m joking. But I did think the non-reaction was funny, because in my head, I was thinking, “Ohmygodohmygodohmygod here we go!”

Shortly after my water broke, I got The Shakes. Uncontrollable shaking from my head to my knees. It was like I was convulsing. I couldn’t control them, couldn’t talk and couldn’t even joke. It was so weird. DH was trying to comfort me, but all I could do was grit my teeth so I didn’t bite my tongue off. I remembered this with my first child as well.

At 4:40am, this beautiful, young, Asian doctor walked in to give me the epidural. Now, it could be that she seemed so lovely because of what she was bringing. I’ll ask my husband. But I remember her as strikingly beautiful, and I swear, a lovely light shone around her head as some beautiful harp music accompanied her every move. As DH tried to hold my hands still while she inserted the needle in my spine, he suddenly said, “I have to go sit down.” The nurses all looked at him and said, “Yes, yes! Go sit!” because he looked pretty pale. My guess is fainting husbands are not on their agenda. I would’ve laughed but I was still feeling contractions and The Shakes, so I just concentrated on not vibrating right off the damn bed. I didn’t feel anything at first when the beautiful doctor did her thing. I was still having pain, so every second was like “hurry up, hurry and work already” for me.

Then The Itching started. I started scratching my arms. Then my chest. Then my legs. At first it wasn’t that big of a deal. In fact, it was a welcome distraction to the pain and the clock watching as I waited for the epidural to kick in. It took 30 minutes for me to realize I could no longer feel contractions. But now I was in full on want-to-scratch-my-skin-off itchiness. A nurse, or maybe it was my doctor (I’m not sure when she arrived) told me it was a side effect of the drugs. It was very uncomfortable (though still better than before) and I struggled not to pull out my IVs while I scratched my scalp, face, neck, etc. They offered to get me something to deal with the itching but I either turned it down or it didn’t work. I can’t remember.

Around this time, some alarm in the room started going off. This happened repeatedly. It was a drawer to a drug cabinet that no one could shut properly. I think we watched nurses come in at least 6 times to shut the drawer and shut off the annoying alarm. So relaxing….

At 5:50am, I threw up for the first time. I knew this part would come. In fact, everything I ate in the last few days of my pregnancy had me asking myself, is this going to come back up, and will it hurt? Turns out that giant bowl of pasta I ate wasn’t painful, but I did regret the amount. DH handed me puke cone after puke cone as I filled them. A nurse came in at one point, having seen the spikes on my contractions monitor, and asked, “Are you vomiting?” Yes, yes, I am. “I thought so,” she said.

At 6:05am, my doctor informed me that I was 5 cm dilated. “That’s it?!” said me and every pregnant woman there ever was.

I puked some more. And then I was 7cm. More puking. Then 8cm.

Then I got tired. So tired, I felt drugged. I wanted to close my eyes and drift off, but that didn’t feel right. I remember thinking, I could slip into a coma right now. This can’t be normal. My doctor then told me the baby’s heart was elevated. The strong contractions do a number on the little fella. I told her that I felt like I could sleep forever. She looked at my machines and said my blood pressure was low. The doctor got a team together, and they decided to move me. Perhaps my position was putting pressure on the baby or the cord or something. So it took several people to roll me back and forth, back and forth. I ended up on my side. I’m not sure it worked. My doctor ordered two shots – epinephrine for me, and something that started with a T for the baby. The shots worked, and both of us were stabilized.

At some point, my doctor introduced me to the teams of people who were at the ready in case anything went wrong. There were so many people in my room, it was like a convention. There was the baby team, ready to receive the baby and check him out on the warming table. There was the C-section team, in case shit went down. And there was the team prepared to do something in case I started hemorrhaging, like after C1. Plus my doctor and lots of nurses in and out.

As I was gearing up for pushing time, I heard my doctor comment, “I don’t like all this blood.” She examined me, then told me I was bleeding a lot, and she wasn’t sure why. She feared it would be a placental abruption, which is when the placenta tears away from the uterus. It’s no bueno apparently, and she said, “We might have to get this baby out of you immediately.” I was like, oh no. I don’t want a C-section! My vagina is already fucked up. Can we just be consistent?! And the idea is terrifying. I said “OK” like a good patient, though I’m sure she could see on my face that the idea scared me. She decided to manipulate my cervix, to see if she would get it to open up so we could give pushing a try. Hands up my hoo-ha, she did her thing, and it worked. “OK, let’s try pushing!” she said.

Amidst a flurry of activity, someone handed her a pair of waders. Giant rubber boots that she pulled on and up over her legs (to protect her from the blood, I’m guessing. Smart. No one likes bloody shoes.) I remember looking at all the people moving about and saying to DH, “Look at this. There is no dignity in childbirth.” The doc did kick out the C-section team, saying she’d call them if she needed them. So maybe 12 people in the room now? It’s a party!

I started pushing at 8:40, giving 3 pushes for each contraction. A nurse counted to 10, and I was supposed to push all through the count, but found myself giving up around 8. They told me to pull my legs into my chest, and I asked a fellow nurse who had one leg, can you help me pull? No, she said, because that could lead to an injury. It had to be all me. This is always when I wish I would’ve stayed in shape while pregnant, or at least attempted some cardio from time to time. Pushing is hard, y’all!

There was five rounds of pushing, and although it was only 16 minutes, at the end I was begging for it to be over. Thankfully it was quick, and I heard “Yes, yes, yes! Here he comes!” His cord was around his neck, but they got it off, and he was good. Hurray!

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Look at all the hands, frantically at work

 

A few minutes later, my doctor informed me that my placenta was already out. No weird complications there, like with C1. She sent it off to pathology anyway, to see if it was tearing and maybe that’s where the blood was coming from. I checked in a few weeks later, and she said there were no signs of abruption — but there were early signs of an infection, so “we got him out just in time.”

Compared with #1, this time was much easier. Not complication free, but all is well and I don’t feel traumatized. My doctor was wonderful, and all the nurses were very nice to me. This was a much much better birth experience. Thank you Cedars Sinai!

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I make gorgeous babies!