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.

The Dryer, and extra sheets

I. A few weeks ago, we went shopping with Sus-babe and Susan. We went to Pottery Barn and checked out the kid area, where Lena was drawn to some expensive dolls and an inexpensive crib sheet (I don’t know why she liked the sheet, but that’s Lena.) We let her hold on to the crib sheet while looking around at other things, and she was enthralled by the different modes of transportation on the sheet- bicycle! Train! Bus! Truck! Car! Another car!

When it was clear that snack time was overdue, I tried to exit gracefully and wanted to just put the sheet back and let the Sus-babes shop, since we’ve done fine with the two matching rocket sheets that we have and I didn’t want to introduce some kind of bedding inequality into the mix. Lena apparently decided the best way to make sure she got what she liked was to start licking the sheet in front of store personnel. Yay. We went home with the sheet, but I put it away.

II. Last week, we discovered that something had entered our house through the outside dryer vent and chewed a hole in the dryer tube to get into the laundry room. We replaced the tube, but I started finding poops (not identifiable to me other than, yes, that is poop) in the room.

III. This weekend, Lena and I had an epic playdate on Saturday with friends from college (one visiting, one just moved to GA) and kids. Lena played hard, ate pretty much everything we put in front of her- two red peppers, cheese crackers, turkey, mixed veggies (but not the cauliflower), two string cheeses, banana sauce, grapes, cold milk for lunch and applesauce, two more string cheeses, fruit snacks for snack, and then nearly an adult portion of pulled pork plus a full serving of her own (and some of mine) of green beans for dinner. She ate more than I did!

IIII. Sunday morning, Lena woke up and still had too much food in her and it apparently needed to exit through the closest exit. There really is nothing like waking up your partner with a drive-by shouting of, “there’s a diaper full of poop on the dresser, soaked clothes, and puke in front of her closet, I’m putting her in the shower.” In all that excitement, we missed the poop + pee on her sheets until nap time. She was fine after that until snack time, when Jeremy served her a snack and Lena just puked on it. (I was out at a soccer game.) Then there was more puke, and then a shower after “dinner” (where Lena just sat with us and had a banana + juice while we ate) because she’d bubbled poop out of the top of her diaper (something we hadn’t seen when she was an infant because cloth diapers have real elastic at the top.) Yay.

Also Sunday morning, we discovered that the animal had chewed another hole in the dryer hose. I’d really wanted to put the sheets I’d washed Thursday, then again Sunday morning before checking on why Lena was crying in her room right after waking up (because I’d forgotten that I’d washed them, and they included Lena’s spare sheet), into the dryer. After that is when we discovered the poop on the bed. So it really was fortunate that Lena had insisted on licking that sheet in Pottery Barn because I actually had a clean spare fitted crib sheet to put on her bed.
Extra sheet!

Tough Cookie

TCB and a neighbor were outside talking. Neighbor’s son was playing in Lena’s pushcar, and Lena had decided that she wanted the pinwheels from the front porch. So she took off up the driveway, up the front steps, grabbed the pinwheels, and started back down the steps.

(Don’t worry, there’s no ER visit in this story.)
She stumbled a little on the first one, but regained her composure and made her way back down the steps, down the driveway with pinwheels spinning like crazy, and back out to the cul de sac. TCB and Neighbor had watched in amazement (yes, TCB had dashed after her, but backed off once he saw that she was going to be fine with the task) and Neighbor commented that his son would have totally been crying after that stumble.
With her pinwheels, Lena was as happy as a well-fed Hungry Luma. Deedle-dee-dee! Deedle-dee-dee!

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More difference

As I sat with TCB in the exam room after Lena’s first-year checkup, I thought about how, a year before, I’d been sitting across the hall, crying because I felt like a complete failure. And Lena cried because she was hungry. And I also cried because nursing her was so difficult.
And now, I was crying because the difference was so big: I was feeding her for comfort after her shots, she was crying because of them. And nursing her was no big deal.