Boobs, Mustard, & Disturbia

The Pamela Anderson moment arrived in the dark hours, early Tuesday morning.  I was awakened by the baby’s cry’s but as I had Charlie help me out of bed, my arm brushed over a large mass on my upper body.  He helped me sit up and I felt a heaviness on my chest area, so I felt my breasts… They were my breasts no longer.  I flicked on the light in the bathroom and gazed at them in awe.  I looked like Pamela Anderson, my boobs were huge cartoon boobs!  This was the mysterious event all the mommy’s in my life had warned me about…”oooh, just wait until your milk comes in” they would say.  And being slightly obsessed with boobs my whole life, I had excitedly anticipated the day when mine would all of a sudden grow a cup size or two without any kind of surgical procedure.  That day had come and it was awesome, except for the fact that they were totally engorged and a bit painful.  Luckily, my hungry baby boy soon eased the pressure.  When he was finished, he looked like he was drunk.  He was full and relaxed, eyes droopy with delight, “the drunk eye” as my husband calls it.  Apparently, breastmilk must taste like the worlds best chocolate shake with a shot of whiskey in it.

My precious baby boy arrived on 08/08/08.  It was considered a very lucky date, the opening day of the Olympic games in Beijing, and a very rainy Friday night in Albuquerque.  I had gone to work in labor and finally checked into the hospital around 5 or 6pm, at which time they gave me an epidural (a spinal drip to block the pain of the contractions) and I was feeling good…

Long story short, a few hours later when they broke my water at 7 centimeters dilated, the babys heart rate dropped from 140 bpm to 60 bpm at every contraction.  When they couldn’t get the baby’s heart rate to stabilize, the doctor made the call to do an emergency C section and 10 minutes later the baby was out & in my arms.  The doctor made the right call because the umbilical cord was wrapped around my baby’s neck TWICE!!  Had we gotten to the point of actual pushing the baby out (at 10 centimeters dilated), it probably would have been a devastating situation for the baby in the end.  I’m so glad the doctor knew her stuff and made the call when she did.

Childbirth is a very immodest experience, especially when something is wrong. Every doctor or nurse within a 5 mile radius wants to come “check out” the situation.  You feel like a drive thru, “hey, everybody come take a look, feel around, and take a souvenir if you’d like.”  OMG!!  Labor leaves no room for modesty or embarrassment.  But I must say, I have a whole new found respect for nurses after being in the hospital for 3 days.  For $50K or so a year they sure can deal with a whole lot more than I could deal with.  I am not a clean up blood & guts kind of person but I’m glad God made people like them.  The world needs them.  They are awesome and they were so great to me, Charlie, & baby the whole time that we were there.  Presbyterian Hospital nurses ROCK!!!!!  Seriously.

The first week home, I was completely overwhelmed by the vulnerability and fragility of my brand new baby.  I would check on him 100 times a day to see if he was still breathing.  I would hardly let him out of my sight.  I was so nervous and anxious about everything.  I knew part of it was probably the anxiety issues that my sister & I have seemed to have since childhood (we get major anxiety over seemingly little things) but I couldn’t see a way out of it.

I was breastfeeding & changing yellow mustard diapers every 2 hours, waking throughout the night to hush the babies cry’s and feed him, change his diapers, rock him, burp him, swaddle him in his blanket, try to get a meal of my own in during his naps, and doing it all over again day after day, night after night.  The days blurred into the nights & I felt exhausted, like when you go out drinking for St. Patti’s Day on a work night and end up staying up till 3am and getting only a few hours of sleep and trying to function normally at work the next day.  It’s that strange disco buzz tired feeling, only instead of just 1 night of it, it had been every night for 2 weeks straight.  The routine sort of seemed like that old lady in Requiem for a Dream (that movie with Jared Leto & Jennifer Connelly) when she was all crazyied out on those diet pills.  That’s how I was starting to feel.  Crazy.  People would talk to me and come visit me & the baby, and I would be on a 2-second delay, totally out of it.  It’s like I was drunk & my reaction time was delayed.  I went grocery shopping one day and I felt like a complete zombie, like I wasn’t in my own body, peoples words seemed muffled and far away.  I’d have to check and re-check my basket and my list because I couldn’t remember what I had already gotten.  I was beyond exhausted.

On top of that, I was emotional.  Emotional for no reason.  This is apparently because once you have your baby, all of your pregnancy hormones just crash and leave you stranded on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere.  Charlie would come home from work and ask me how I was doing and I would just cry.  I think it was out of complete raw exhaustion & feeling overwhelmed with worry.  I would just look at my baby and cry because I was so anxious about doing everything right (being a perfectionist sucks when you become a Mom).  I saw no way out of the anxiousness, the situation felt hopeless and endless.  I felt trapped in my own head.  I wanted to go back to work just to escape the suffocating anxiety that I felt at home.

After doing this routine over and over again and being stuck in my house 24-7, in my new wardrobe consisting of a nursing bra, panties, & a bath robe, hair a mess, no make-up, puffy-eyed, & exhausted for week after week, I discovered I might be suffering from cabin fever because Charlie came home and I suddenly felt like Jack Nicholson in the Shining and I felt the urge to chase him through the neighborhood with a knife while screaming “red-rum, red-rum”.  I’m only kidding but I finally realized that I needed to have more visitors or take trips out of the house more often.

This led to a discovery that you have to pack up everything you own just leave the house with a baby.  OMG!!  Gone are the days of a quick trip to the store for some batteries.  It takes hours to gather all the baby loot & get the baby ready & in the car.  If it’s not one thing, it WILL BE another.  He’ll need to be fed again, have another diaper change, he’ll throw-up all over himself (or all over you) or have a diaper blowout all over himself (or you), or you’ll need to replenish the diaper bag, or do a quick load of laundry…  It’s amazing how a little 7 pound person can take so much prep.  It’s almost easier to just stay home and figure out how to make a rechargeable battery than to go to the store and buy one.  Again, kidding. Sorta.

It’s also amazing how you can be awakened from deep REM sleep every 2 to 3 hours and stay awake for 30 minutes breastfeeding before going back to bed and after a month of doing this, it somehow begins to feel semi-normal and you don’t seem as exhausted as you did in the beginning.  The human body is an amazingly adaptable thing.  And it’s a good thing god made babies so damn cute & sweet or I’d be tempted to run screaming when I’m awakened for the 3rd time in the middle of the night.

I had a long list of things that I thought I was going to be able to get done with all my “free time” during the 3 months that I would be home from work after the baby arrived.  I had high hopes of being able to work on my clients websites, fill my wedding photo album, organize my closet, etc.  All that “free time” ends up being just a few sporadic hours per day where you’re just trying to get your own meal ready, or a shower in, or a nap in, or reply to a few emails, and if you get any extra time on top of that, you’re too exhausted from the sleepless nights to do much more than sit on the couch and gaze at your sweet little baby while watching the bits & pieces of the worthless crap that you don’t know why you’re paying $80 for on TV.

These experiences may sound negative but all in all, motherhood has been great.  After 7 weeks, I’d be lost without a baby on my arm and if I wasn’t woken up every 3 hours I’d be panicked.  It’s great to love something 100 times more than myself and to have a definite greater purpose in life now.  There is something wonderful that blossoms from being forced out of selfishness.  It makes you more giving, caring, and more laid back about things.  I saw a magnet on our friends refrigerator on our trip to Colorado, it said “Nothing scares me, I have children”, I’m only 7 weeks in but I can already attest to that being so true.  I look forward to the rest of the adventure and even adding a few more characters to the story.

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