If you give a mouse some glitter eyeliner…

After Lena was born, days blurred together. I couldn’t remember when I’d slept, showered, eaten, peed… I definitely wasn’t brushing my teeth or hair, my contacts sat untouched for months, and I wore the same clothes night and day because I wasn’t leaving the house in that state anyway. Neither was Lena, so she lived in the same clothes until a diaper change indicated they needed swapping. This didn’t help my brain adjust to this new normal state post-partum: ignoring my own needs for the needs of some screaming creature.

With roughly 2 months to go with Olly, I decided I neeeeeded glitter eyeliner. It just looked like a Thing to Own while I was browsing Sephora’s website at 3am with pregnancy insomnia. Once it arrived, I also decided that glitter eyeliner was now an everyday look, because it made me feel good for no reason other than it exists (no matter how shallow that sounds). I even purchased a second color of it hours before she was born, in case I ran out before she was born (lol). After she arrived, I saw no reason to stop wearing glitter eyeliner every day; it seemed like an easy-to-reach daily goal that made me feel good about myself.

But if I was going to wear glitter eyeliner, it looked better when I wore contacts. And if I’m going to wear contacts, I should probably wash my face before I put them in. Plus, I needed to remove yesterday’s glitter. If I’m washing my face, I’m at the bathroom sink, so I might as well brush my teeth, too. Since I’m at the mirror and my hairbrush is right there, I’ll run that through my hair. Oooh, but I’m standing up and I see that last night’s pj top is pretty soaked, so I should change that. And my bra. And everything else I’m wearing. And if I’m bothering to get naked before fixing my hair and stuff, I probably ought to run through the shower. Just real quick, and then get dressed. If I’m dressed, then it’s a new day, so Olly should check out some of these super cute onesies before she outgrows them.

If we’ve both just gotten dressed, let’s leave the house. Or take selfies together. Or just admire that we’ve both gotten ready for a day, all because I wanted to wear glitter eyeliner. Which makes me feel good about things for no reason besides it exists.

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The two of them

Where Lena had never missed legs day, Olly has never missed arms day. Strong arms! In motion even while sleeping! With claws! I didn’t see the point of the baby mittens with Lena, but Olly’s the reason those were invented.

Lena and Olly together has been adorable. Lena’s smitten with the “babby”, though the newness and novelty is starting to wear off- one session of crying Olly in her lap, and Lena was ready to swear off babies forever. Lena likes to describe all kinds of things to Olly, like about how to use a fork (which she may or may not do herself), about how to walk, about her day, and just about anything she can think of at the time. Olly’s started to turn her head towards things, and Lena’s her favorite thing to stare at, it seems.

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Playtime!

I’m having a little bit of a hard time balancing getting enough dedicated 1:1 Lena time with everything that Olly needs from me and everything that Olly takes out of me. Mornings are the hardest, since I’m pretty exhausted from the inevitable 4am Olly poop and difficulty getting her back to sleep, so I’m spent while Jeremy is being super with getting Lena up, lunch packed, and off to school. I’m really thankful that his school isn’t back in session yet, though I know that’s coming next week (and I’ll have to make sure to put on pants and that I’m rested enough to drive.)

Olly and I have been getting out of the house (on the non-snow days) for things more than appointments. She seems to like the Boba carrier, so trips to Walmart have been acceptable, and she seems to do ok in the swing at home, so I’ve gotten things done besides watching Netflix. In fact, while I binged several shows while home with Lena, I’ve watched surprisingly little tv with Olly. Instead, I’ve done things like bake cakes! Read car magazines! Write blog posts! Do grocery shopping*! Walk around!

*It’s really a combination of Amazon orders and using the grocery pickup service from Walmart, which is available in the next town over. Here’s a $10 off your first order link. Sure, it’s a 25-minute drive each way, but I don’t have to actually find the groceries on the shelves and can add things to my order as we run out, and then check out whenever I know I’ll have time to pick them up. It’s a big win for the whole household.

Everything the one before wasn’t

I am still amazed at how Olly’s birth was a correction of everything that happened poorly with Lena’s.

My biggest anxieties all revolved around repeating what happened with Lena- a 40-hour induction, the midwife with something other than her patients on her mind, midwife not communicating procedures, calling me “kiddo”, the feeling of being dismissed as unreasonable because I wanted information and to have some control over any part of the situation, the overwhelming feeling of failure (my body failing to do what it was supposed to). It brought out one of my favorite memories of Jeremy, when I was feeling utterly defeated after yet another intervention (midwife breaking my water and then leaving without saying a word or answering questions about color, etc..), and needed help to go to the bathroom, where he said “I know this isn’t how you wanted to get here.” Midwife leaving with the kiddo comment, and how glad I was she was leaving, despite me switching to the midwife specifically to make sure I knew who would be delivering. Shift change to a wonderful set of nurses and the panicked changing of positions and need to get naked shortly thereafter.

The screaming time, where Jeremy heard me making sounds that I didn’t know I could produce (and I didn’t recognize were coming from me). Going from 2->10 in <30 minutes. An epidural that arrived in minutes and was perfectly placed (to me) slightly lower than normal, so I didn’t feel a damn thing when my 9lb 10oz kid arrived.

On Wednesdays, we wear pink

Olly’s birth started with a trip to the bathroom at 8:20pm where I couldn’t tell if I had surprise pee or my water broke. Another trip, plus more surprise pee when I stood up made me think that’s what had happened. I confirmed that Jeremy had finished his bourbon and already switched to water and then thing about putting more than socks, a sharpie, birth plan and baby clothes in my hospital bag. I took out the orders for induction that we’d set up for the evening of 26th, packed the new gold glitter eyeliner that I’d purchased after my appointment that day, and ignored the rolling, mild back pain that was starting. I texted my doula, and gave Lena bedtime smooches. By 9:30, I needed to pause at the wall for these back cramps. I decided to watch Mean Girls with Mom while sitting on the yoga ball, but me sitting and these waves weren’t compatible- I needed to stand and lean over. During the movie, I repacked my bag with enough socks for a week, and eventually moved the ball downstairs so I could kneel on the floor and hold on to it every 3.5 minutes. Jeremy took a shower and got dressed, I stood in the shower for a while. It was ok.

Mom and I, both wearing pink

After getting out, I took stock of the hospital bag again, added snacks, and needed external support during these contractions. I thought that I did not want to deal with hospital check in if they got much stronger, so we made the decision to head to the hospital, and my doula, Stacey, would meet us there. I had done everything at home that I could. We were out the door around midnight and the roads to the hospital were much bumpier than I ever recalled. Sitting was, again, terrible and I was actively managing them. Jeremy dropped me off at the doors to the er while he parked, and I checked in to the hospital between contractions- Jeremy was able to park and walk in before I’d finished. Jeremy wheeled me the 30 feet over to the hospital elevators entrance to wait on someone from l&d to get me, Stacey arrived during an extra long contraction, followed shortly by the person from l&d with a different wheelchair. On the way up, we stopped a few times for contractions and arrived on the floor at 12:44am. Triage was dirty, so I headed to a room with a nurse to compete check in.

She set up the initial monitors, asked questions to fill out paperwork and, despite me not technically meeting the admissions criteria at initial check, decided to admit me anyway and to call my doctor, who just that day had put my name on a “call if they come in” list. Contractions were starting to pile up, I needed to hold on to the bed rail to ground myself. Where I’d chosen the left rail with Lena, the right rail felt better this time. I asked to move around and the nurse was super excited to try out the new wireless system- she had used it, but not applied it yet, so was reading the directions. Jeremy and Stacey were allowed in around this time, and suddenly the contractions kicked it up a notch. After applying the wireless system, I still had to stay in bed for another 5 minutes to get readings. I’d guess this was somewhere around 1:20? 1:30?

Stacey started applying counter pressure during this (helped tremendously), Jeremy was making sure I drank water between contractions, and I was holding on to Jeremy during them. I loved that he was able to just be there for me, to hold onto his hands and arms. The nurses were quickly having me sign paperwork (“just mark it however, we anyway talked about this, just need a mark on paper”), and placing a saline lock in my hand. How I kept that hand limp and still, I have no idea. I was (and had been since the house) making sounds through all of these contractions, but they were reasonable, managed sounds, with vowel combinations being suggested by Stacey. My world was getting very small, consisting of the bed rail and Jeremy’s hands.

The nurse said something like “I think things are changing”, checked me during the brief pause between contractions and said, “yup, I thought so” with a knowing look at Stacey, who agreed, and I knew that meant we were ok-go. Things were moving fast and I felt pressure to poop. I knew on my head that it was the head, but all I could say out loud was the need to use the restroom.

I heard everyone telling me not to push, and I was not- this kid was coming no matter what.

Stacey tried to take my glasses, and I’m pretty sure I would have bitten her hand off if it was closer.

I could still talk during contractions to say as much (both that I wasn’t trying to push and don’t touch my glasses). As Dr. Mize walked in, the bed started getting broken down and Stacey told me that many women would say that they couldn’t do it during this next part, but that I totally could do it. I remember feeling shocked that it was already time (I don’t know why), and as I rolled over, I got that brief pause in contractions that I’ve read about. I relaxed for that pause and waited for that next contraction to finish bringing this kid into the world.

Even though I knew what was happening and that it was ok, the only word I could think of was “no”. One push “nooooo no no no no”, two push “no no noooo no no”, Dr. Mize told me that the kid was helping me (I could feel feet pushing out from the inside), a panicked look at Jeremy who told me that I was doing it, a reminder from Stacey to relax my face that I finally heard and remembered which muscles controlled my face, and then I found my game face- three push and there was a head, with a “let’s get this shoulder out” mini push, and the kid slid out. The shoulder was the weirdest feeling- some knobby thing. And then a kid was born, our daughter. And I could not believe it, again, that this thing had been inside me and was now here. And I could not believe that it was only 2am- it felt like an eternity had passed in minutes.

Earlier that day, I’d overheard the doctor scheduling the induction, arguing about doing it so “late” (at 41 weeks) with a predicted large baby and me with “advanced maternal age”. I had declined to hear about estimated weight at the ultrasound visit, preferring to only hear about the “normal head size”. For some reason, I also had it in my head that the kid would arrive early Saturday morning, the 23rd and had discussed that with my doc, as well as my feeling that the kid had finally tipped over into heavier than Lena at birth, though the feet felt smaller. On the phone call, my doc said that she was just scheduling this induction to have an end date, that it probably wouldn’t be kept, “the mom has been right about everything else so far, she’s probably going to be right about this, too.” Looking back, that gave me a ton of confidence in her, in me, and that things would be fine. After she was born, the doc asked if I wanted to know that day’s size prediction- it was 10lb even.

I watched this new alien’s ears unfurl, admired her smoosh face, and then it was time to cut the cord. Jeremy declined, so I did it. We snuggled, the placenta took its time, but was another weird feeling- delivery of a whole temporary organ. Jeremy commented on my glitter eyeliner, which I’d applied when it was clear to me that this was happening, and made a “you did it, kiddo” joke. All through everything, I kept the kid on me while getting stitched up, while the bed was put back together, everything. Dr. Mize left before we checked weight, though we all took guesses. My guess, at 9lb 15oz, was closest to her actual weight of 10lb 3oz, and new weight record holder for the hospital. With normal head size and a chest bigger than her head, just like her sister.

At some point after her birth, I got my l&d hospital bands, and I stayed an extra hour in the l&d room because they had to finish the checking in process and assign me a recovery room.

We saw the placenta like I’d requested- bag attached with the small hole in the side. I thought about other things on my birth plan that didn’t happen, but I didn’t care about them. I realized I’d never gotten out of bed, something on my “fears” list, but hey, I sort of tried out the wireless monitor. If nothing else, I didn’t worry about subscribing the bands or the pokey monitors themselves: my belly got to be iron man. We didn’t even open the hospital bag until afterward, to get out snacks. There was no music, no walking around, no interventions, no time to even think about pain meds, not even a bag of saline until afterward.

With Olly’s speed, my birth plan might have well have been “show up, have a baby”.

It wasn’t what I’d envisioned at 38 minutes from being admitted to baby (from the timestamps on the calls to the doc), but it was a correction of everything that contributed to the negative feelings around Lena’s birth. It also corrected my view on what happened- the screamy time was my body trying to do what it does, fast labor, and the high pitocin levels augmented the sounds, not the speed. Epidural didn’t take anything away from birth and unmedicated didn’t gain me anything. With an overarching goal of a birth story that starts with positive words instead of highlighting the negative, I think we achieved that, and more.

Home stretch

And man, how much things are stretching: my skin, my shirts, my pants…

Pretty sure this thing has also dropped a bit, based on having less room to actually pull up said pants. Working from home has gotten much more enjoyable since the purchase of a large exercise ball and a stand (to keep it from rolling too much.) I start going to the once-a-week visits now (delayed a week because of the Atlanta trip), and they all come with an ultrasound because of my “Advanced Maternal Age.” I think I would have declined the last growth scan if I’d known this, to eliminate the ultrasound tech measuring everything and grimacing at me based on her size estimate given without reference to what babies normally measure. Doc isn’t worried, I’m not worried, this is kind of just extra stress to me. I also feel that a weight estimate based on abdomen size is going to be a slight overestimation, based on Lena having a larger chest circumference than head, and being so long (as is this kid- I trust the femur measurements.)

The Alien and I played “poke the feet” after lunch each day, and then she’d have a dance party in the evening- a violent, might-escape-from-the-front dance party. This kid isn’t as explosive in their movements, but is more constantly squirmy (though seems to chill after I poke back.) Maybe more of a snuggler, if that’s possible? Who knows?! Alien liked to play poke the feet on my right side, while Predator is all over the top of the bump and the bottom corners (by my hip sockets). I have more Braxton-Hicks contractions than with the Alien, but it also may be that I’m noticing them more or that I’m just more constantly active myself this time vs. the either running around or sitting with Lena.

We started interviewing birth doulas after I went to Girl Scout camp with Lena and got the adult version of spooky camp stories, the ones about the hospital and the nurses that want laboring women to stick with things that make monitoring easier vs. labor easier. After talking with one of the 3 doulas in town, found out it’s a byproduct of having 100% male obygns in town until the last year who have an idea of a very managed birth being ideal and would come down on the nurses when a patient would “misbehave”. My doc’s all about better experiences that lead to better outcomes and was all in for finding a doula to help with that, having an ordered list of doulas she’d worked with and would recommend, and the doulas all seem to love working with her. Hooray for randomly-assigned doctor! Now, to hope that she’s on call if I’m there over a weekend.

We close on the Atlanta home on Monday. The house in Oxford is still so full of boxes. Focus right now is on getting the guest room set up, so that room is clear, and then we’ll move on to getting Predator’s room set up. The moses basket has clean bedding and the infant stuff is washed (at least, what I’ve found so far of infant stuff), so the first few days can be ok. I still feel the need to get the room painted to be brighter, so I’m not 100% on top of the whole assembly of everything, especially with so many boxes everywhere. It’s like they multiply when we’re not looking. Lena’s room is coming together, with a toy bench painted (woo, IKEA!) and a magnet board and her bed and a smidge of closet organization… Our room is a room of boxes and hesitation to unpack too much because of our desire to get the carpet replaced in at least our bedroom, since we can feel the carpet tacks at the thresholds. And most of the stuff in the boxes doesn’t fit me and we’ll have to do _something_ with the closet organizers when we replace the carpet, since they’re sitting on top of the carpet and the organization they’re providing isn’t really suiting our needs, but then we’ll have to figure out the organization of the closet to make the space usable again… it’s like a slippery slope of project pieces.

What we’ll probably do: talk about painting and the carpet for a year and then do nothing. Maybe replace the stove since the racks are bending, the storage drawer has eaten a pan and the splatter shield, the burners are placed to be most inefficient, and the programming is a fine example of exactly following specifications written without taking the use cases into mind. Or thought behind why one start button that controls both the timer and oven temp (why does oven temp need to be started after selecting it?!) is ok to pair with separate “cancel” and “stop” buttons for the two things, that work differently depending on the mode. “Start” is needed to start the oven getting up to the selected temperature and to start the timer, unless you’ve already turned on the oven, then the timer starts automatically. “Stop” stops both at once, or stops the timer alone when using the timer alone. “Cancel” is what you need to hit if you want to turn off the timer without turning off the oven. Having written specs for an offshore team, I can see how each line item made sense to the people hastily writing the specs, and the programmers writing the code followed it to the letter, since they were likely writing it in a vacuum without using the software or needing to think about how it would be used, and the QA team could write up their test scripts, again without closing the loop to a usability team. Waterfall development at its finest. Anyway, it’s frustrating, the oven handle is wearing out, and the sticking racks have caused us both to burn ourselves (I’m getting a lovely scar on the inside of my upper arm from them), so I feel like I still need to justify replacing a working oven that’s not working super-well for us. Ditto on the dishwasher- we both miss the efficiency, noise level, and capacity of our Kenmore. Not that the interior size was different, but the water jet placement allowed us to load it in a way that got more dishes in and they all got clean. We feel like we’re constantly running this dishwasher because of this. (Not that it matters all that much- plastic things still need to get wiped out after going through the dishwasher because of the silt left on them from our brown water.)

One thing that has shown that it definitely needs replacing is my car- the little annoyances, like the windshield with a million micro-dings in it, the right turn signal not turning off automatically, yellow hazy headlight covers, etc… have combined to be really annoying and the alignment keeps going out so quickly that it seems to have a permanent “gonna die” feeling in the rain, wind, or bumpy road (of which we have miles in both directions exiting our neighborhood). It’s going to need either a bunch of $$ invested in it soon-ish or the decision to use that money on a down payment for a car and, knowing that what I want isn’t likely to be on a lot in the southeastern United States, I’ve contacted a dealer and should have a replacement in the next week or so (whenever they find someone to drive the car from Oklahoma to Mississippi). I’m trying to feel better about the move from hatchback to station wagon by reminding myself that the new car has more hp and a turbo. And the sunroof is nearly the whole top of the car, like I could perhaps use it as a greenhouse. Also- still not a minivan or a reference to suv in the category.

This last trip back to Atlanta is a little strange. I’m staying with Georgia and then at a hotel once my little family arrives- not at my house. I rented a car to come over, so that’s even something unfamiliar (my car decided a few days before I left that the steering wheel needed a good third of a turn to make the wheels go straight + extra squirrely-ness in the the front wheels). So this definitely feels… like a visit, not a return home. I still miss the house here, especially the kitchen. I don’t trust that someone else will love it like we did, or appreciate the quirks.

 

Third

I had a “growth scan” today, which is not something that happened with the Alien. It’s measuring over 4lbs at this point, which could be wildly inaccurate, but I have a feeling it’s not, based on the size of the enormous feet we saw. I still find it amazing that this kid has surpassed babies born weeks later (but I’m looking at their pictures as preview.) Anyway, still on the charts, long leg measurements, predictions of another large & long baby. So far, this kid has their moments of activity and feels more constantly in motion than Lena, but not quite as explosive. Anterior placenta probably has a lot to do with it, but we still play poke-the-feet.

Everything else in me is gearing up for this kid, just like last time. Poor sleeping is happening (2am wakeup, every night, no matter what time I went to sleep), the leaking, the hip spread, the need to bake everything. Finally, I feel like putting things away in MS at at least shedding some of the hoarders aesthetic that’s going on. I’ve also gotta get to actually exercising again, so I’m hoping that water aerobics at the campus rec center will be my thing. I loved getting in the pool for the faculty & staff family night last week, and I’m ready to get back in.

Went through the newborn clothes that I could find and I am super impressed with some stain patterns on the onesies. I tried getting the stains out and, while they’re lighter, they’re still present, so I’ll try a tie-dye experiment with Lena, and if they’re still terrible, we’ve at least had an art project.

A question that’s bugging me in the middle of the night: What do I call this kid on Twitter once it’s out? Lena is “Facehugger”, so… Predator? Sequel? Something else?

Baking everything! I got a breadmaker finally- the gf bread here is super expensive and I just don’t have time to babysit loaves of bread. The loaves I’ve made with this recipe have turned out pretty well- a basic bread! That’s good without toasting or anything on it! It also doesn’t last long because of these properties!

Bread! Snapchat
About 5 minutes after I said we could try it.

Lena was Star Student in her class last week, so we made a poster of her favorite things:
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And then Jeremy and I went to talk with her class one day and I did a little coding of an important daily function with them: recess. They asked lots of questions, they’ve obviously been working on questions that aren’t “Listen to this story”. Favorite things, least favorite things about jobs, what we studied, how long we’ve been working, etc…

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28? 29?

Last time, I had every week memorized. This time, I look at my calendar, because I’ve offloaded keeping track of the weeks onto the scheduling tool designed to keep track of weeks. Most of my belly pics are on snapchat, and I usually remember to save them.

We’ve both been growing! The Predator has also become sentient, kicking back when I poke at it. It first became aware of me about a month ago while I was on a plane for hours and kicked the same spot repeatedly. Now we have afternoon poke-the-other-one sessions, which is all fun and games until this alien starts stretching. It likes to dance at night, and it is amazingly strong. What I find amazing is that now I can look at pictures of friend’s babies born way too soon and see the development stage of this alien/predator, and then I can marvel at the four-year-old that the smallest one has become.

I went back to Atlanta to do some things at the old house and was surprised at how much I wanted to fix things up at that house and get them ready and how little interest I have in unpacking or getting things ready at the new house. Mostly, I want to replace the carpet in the new house, and that’s about it. I washed the box of infant clothes, but haven’t folded it or anything- I just wanted the maternity clothes that were also in the box.

I’m still not sure about joining the campus-employed-affiliated women’s group. I went to another meeting (the first one, I was asked exactly zero questions about myself- they were all about my husband or child(ren)), and I put my “going to talk about me” plan into action, answering questions about my husband’s employment (beyond he’s a professor in the business… thing) with answers about my own employment, and then asking about theirs. In my small sample size of “the people I sat near”, it turns out the spouses of professors are under-employed and have mostly taken jobs outside of their professions just to do something. I also learned that the county schools are severely underfunded and still use corporal punishment. So, you know, yay.

Speaking of school, I dropped my class this semester. After finally seeing the syllabus, I realized that a) I’d done nearly all of the material in undergrad, b) it was going to be way more work than I’d anticipated, c) it wasn’t going to be a well-run class and the stress it was going to cause wasn’t worth it. I’m still getting updates from the forum (though I’ve definitely dropped the class), and yikes- those post titles stress me out, about typos in tests, typos in assignments, assignments needing revisions, projects and quizzes being released late, grades being release in waves, weeks after I figured they’d be finished… I believe I made the correct decision.