Birth, Wind, and Fire

c-sectionI knew from the very moment my first pregnancy was confirmed that I would have to have a c-section.  I had a sneaky suspicion I was pregnant, and wanted confirmation right away. My current doctor was booked for the next three months, and in my zealousness to be in the know immediately, I found a new doctor on the Internet.  There were warning signs that this doctor (whose name I couldn’t pronounce) would not work out: A) I asked when I could come in, and she said all time slots were available, B) her office was located above a King Kullen, C) she said if I didn’t have insurance, we could “work something out.” Shady, but still, I was excited.

Despite the empty waiting room, I had to wait for 20 minutes, until I was ushered in by a receptionist named Oksana, who appeared both overwhelmed and barely 20 years old. The doctor looked at the ultrasound. And looked some more. And made a grunting sound while rolling the camera across my belly. Then she called Oksana in, and they had a heated argument in Russian, while looking some more. Finally, the doctor turned to me and yelled “Why you no tell me you have fibroids?!”

Fibroids. I thought it sounded like the name of a curiously strong mint that also regulates digestion. My husband said it reminded him of a 1980s video game. While I was picturing my ovaries quaintly shooting at pixilated sperm, the doctor informed me that fibroids are tumors. She neglected to use the word “benign,” but she did use the words “miscarriage,” “intolerable pain,” and “pre-term labor,” all of which made me freak the heck out. She mentioned nothing about the baby. This was not how I pictured our first doctor visit going.

The doctor continued to accuse me. How did I not know I had fibroids? Why hadn’t I had a sonogram before I got pregnant? I thought to myself: Who has sonograms before they’re pregnant? Is that a thing? Apparently the symptoms of fibroids are awfully similar to the side effects of Mexican food. Naturally, I had no idea.

The doctor poked her head into the waiting room. She asked my husband if he knew where the receptionist was. “You see where she went?” the doctor bellowed at him.

“Um. No. I don’t work here.” My husband was starting to get a bad feeling about this.

“OKSANA!!!!!” The doctor screeched from the other room. Oksana skittered in (she was stocking the storage room) and was asked to draw some blood, since she was also the staff phlebotomist. Six band-aids later, with bruises up and down my arms, Oksana sighed that this was my fault because my veins were “difficult.” If these people couldn’t extract blood from my veins, there was no way I trusted them to remove a baby from my minefield of a uterus. On my way out, I asked the receptionist (Oksana again) for our paperwork.

“Why? You go elsewhere?” she said in a way that was more a portentous suggestion than a question.

I cried the whole way home.   I cried the whole way to our second opinion doctor, an older German fellow with a polka dot bowtie and a much kinder bedside manner. Yes, I had fibroids. Yes, they were pretty common. The symptoms my other doctor had described could very well happen, but probably wouldn’t. And then he giddily congratulated me on having two heartbeats.

“@$&*%!” I yelled. “Twins?!!!!!”

I was informed that one of the heartbeats was my own. And that I probably shouldn’t kiss my baby with that mouth.

The only side effect of fibroids that proved to be true was the necessity of a c-section. I was told that I had a fibroid the size of a grapefruit right near my cervix, so there was no way I could deliver naturally. I was not particularly attached to a mode of childbirth, since all of them sounded awful, but I was dismayed to learn that I would be awake for the c-section. No being put to sleep. No nitrous oxide. No shots of whiskey or horse tranquilizers. I would remember every moment of this.

And that was okay. It’s not the method I would have chosen for delivery (that method would be “concussed with a hammer and woken when the baby is three months old and sleeps for six hours a pop”). But since I had no choice, it became part of my story.

So…you want to hear my childbirth story? You DON’T?

Fine, whatever.

Travelin’ Light

packing-bagAt my last doctor visit, I was informed that my baby is the size of a cantaloupe and weighs more than most toddlers.  Which means I can literally drop this sucker at any moment, even though I am not due for another week and a half.  To start getting ready, it’s time to pack the hospital bag.

Pack my phone and charger, toothbrush, toothpaste, lotion, deodorant, and hairbrush.

Realize that I need these items on a daily basis.  Remove from bag.

Pack an oversized hoodie, slipper socks, and a pair of XXL jogging pants purchased specifically for post-birth.

Those jogging pants look comfy (and would probably stretch over my cantaloupe stomach.)  Put them on.

And the hoodie.

Pack some snacks in case the hospital food is disgusting.  Granola bars, some crackers, chocolate, a bottle of water.

Worry that food will go bad if left in bag too long.  Eat the granola bars.

Pack reading material for down time: “What to Expect…,” parenting magazines, Us Weekly, Sudoku book, some Oprah recs I never got around to.

Remember that most down time was spent sleeping or trying to shake down nurses for pain meds.  Plus, those books are heavy.

Remove books.  Leave Us Weekly.

Should probably eat the chocolate now, so it doesn’t melt all over the contents of bag.

Add items to relax me during the delivery: aromatherapy candles, soothing music on my iPod, massage oil, lighter.

Husband reminds me that I am having c-section.

Add my insurance cards, ID, and some cash.

Need these for my last doctor appointment (when I’m sure he will tell me my baby is the size of a watermelon, and is big enough to start shaving).  Put back in wallet.

Eat the crackers from bag.

Add an outfit for baby to come home in.

There is a small stain on the front of the sleeper.  Try to find another outfit.

Really like that first outfit, except for stain.

Can only picture my newborn in that outfit.  Remove it from bag so I can wash it.

Will probably have to wash my jogging pants too, since they now have chocolate and crackers on them.

Try to locate my camera for newborn hospital pictures.

Can’t remember the last time I actually used a camera to take pictures.

Also, I hate how I look in pictures.

Will probably want pictures of the baby, though.

Unless she comes out looking like Hume Cronyn from Cocoon.

Still can’t find camera, but did find more chocolate.


Okay, if my water breaks tonight, I will grab my bag that contains the following:

1. Slipper socks

2. Us Weekly

It helps to be prepared.

Nervous in the Cervix

nervous2Considering how much of our youth and adulthood we spend actively trying not  to get pregnant, it’s unsurprising that when the time comes to finally fill our ovens with buns, things don’t always go as planned.  Here is a timeline of common fears involving the fine art of reproduction:

You will get pregnant in high school.

You will get pregnant in high school and not know which of the two boys who work at The Bagel Patch is the father

You will get pregnant in your early 20’s and not know which of the two bartenders at The Leopard Room is the father.

You will never want to get pregnant, until your best friend gets pregnant and makes it look fun.

You will get pregnant and find it is not fun.

You will not want to get pregnant until after you travel to Greenland.

You will never travel to Greenland.

You will not be able to use mind control to manipulate when you get pregnant.

You will be scrutinized and questioned by “loved ones” as to why you are not pregnant yet.

You will be mistaken for pregnant after eating a large stack of pancakes at IHOP.

You will not realize you are pregnant until after Tequila Tuesday.

You will accidentally poop the baby out.

You will have morning sickness that lasts for nine months.

You will gain weight, but people will simply think you’re fat.

You will gain so much weight that your doctor will offer you clipped recipes from “Diet Weekly.”

Your innie will become an outie.

You will give birth before you get a chance to go away on a romantic child-free retreat with your husband.

You will give birth during a romantic child-free retreat, in a log cabin in Pennsylvania, with nothing but a retired midwife and a boiling kettle of water.

You will not be able to recognize the signs of labor, and will tell your husband you have indigestion.

Your water will break and you will merely think you are incontinent.

Your water will break while you are wearing your new cashmere sweater dress.

You will go into labor while on the subway…and still not be able to get a seat.

You will go into labor while teaching, and a 7th grader will have to run and get the school nurse.

You will give birth on St. Patrick’s Day, and there will be no empty hospital beds.

You will go into labor and the hospital will be fresh out of epidurals, and they will offer you ice shavings instead.

You will be in so much pain, you will promise your nurses monetary awards if they fill your spinal column with the sweet nectar of anesthesia.

Your labor will last longer than all of Peter Jackson’s movies put together.

You will give birth, and the doctor will inform you that there is an extra “surprise” baby in there.

Your baby will look like Benjamin Button.

The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Gwyneth

nameWhat’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet.  Possibly, but if said flower was called “fart monster,” I bet fewer people would actually try to smell it.  Names are important, which is why my husband and I have devoted 99% of my pregnancy to trying to choose one wisely (and the other 1% to actually learning how to care for a baby).

The Top 10 Categories for Naming Your Baby

1.) Type of Name:  Sports Authority
Sample Names:  Peyton Manning, Jeter, Madden
What this will say about you: Your raging fandom extends to your wee ones.
What your child will be like:  Due to mild asthma and flat feet, the only thing your child will play is the tuba in the marching band.

2.) Type of Name:  Literary Heroes
Sample Names:  Hammett, Huckleberry, Lolita, Holden
What this will say about you: You are a well-read intellectual
What your child will be like: Super-cute, but dumb as a bag of pop rocks.

3.) Type of Name:  Old-fashioned
Sample Names:  Esther, Beverly, Dorothy, Maude, Irving, Ira
What this will say about you: You had an unusually close relationship with your great-grandparents
What your child will be like: Male or female, they will grow up to look like Bea Arthur

 4.) Type of Name: Celebrity Trends
Sample Names:  Khloe, Angelina, Scarlett, Taylor, Katy, Ashton
What this will say about you: You have your finger on the pulse of pop culture and current events.
What your child will be like:  Will someday get paid in singles.

5.) Type of Name:  Gender Benders
Sample Names: Jeff, Trevor, Gregory (for girls); Kimberly, Diana, Sue (for boys)
What this will say about you: You refuse to conform to societal norms
What your child will be like:  British.

6.) Type of Name:  Kreative Spellor
Sample Names: Jenyphr, Derryk, Peeta, Jazmene
What this will say about you: You like to think outside the box. Or are possibly dyslexic.
What your child will be like: Constantly pissed off that, at amusement parks, they will never find a keychain with their exact name on it.

7.) Type of Name: Presidential
Sample Names:  Monroe, Jefferson, Van Buren, Taft
What this will say about you: You have a strong sense of patriotism and history.  Also, you just read a restaurant placemat that lists all the presidents.
What your child will be like: A budding anarchist.

8.) Type of Name:  Random Stuff Around the Room
Sample Names: Apple, Salami, Twig, Blender, Luger
What this will say about you: You clearly do not care if your child is mistaken for a household appliance
What your child will be like: Frequently mistaken for a household appliance

9.) Type of Name: Music Lover
Sample Names: Ringo, Beck, Morrissey, Cher
What this will say about you:  You want everyone to know what good taste in music you have.
What your child will be like:  The best karaoke star at their prep school.

10.) Type of Name:  World Traveler
Sample Names: Seville, Cairo, Orlando, Geneva, Newark
What this will say about you: You want your child to have a meaningful connection to the place of their conception.
What your child will be like: Really, really grossed out by their name.

Your Bouncing Baby (and her Bouncing Stuff)

registryCreating a baby registry is like getting to commit legal armed robbery: you point a gun at an object, and eventually someone gives it to you.  Here are my Top 10 tips on how to use your registry for your own amusement.

1.)   Register for big-ticket items no one will ever purchase

If you register for a minivan, that $400 stroller will seem like a bargain.

2.)   Turn your registry into a grocery list

The whole point of a registry is to list things you want or need, and have other people buy them for you.  So if they’re already getting you diapers and detergent, why not throw in light bulbs, toilet paper, and eggs?

3.)   Register for items that will cause your family embarrassment to purchase

If possible, choose items/brands that must be purchased in-store, so your friends and family have to directly ask sales clerks for said items.  It will be nothing short of pure magic having to open the box of butt cream or panty liners your Aunt Margaret was forced to buy, since there was nothing else left on your registry.  And make sure you tell her you’re thinking of her every time you use it.

4.)   Register for as many items as possible that have the word “nipple” in it.

When you open the present at your shower, make sure to say the name of the item multiple times: “Grandma Becky got me the nipple paste I asked for!  Thank you, Grandma, for the nipple paste.  I can’t wait to use my new nipple paste.”

5.)   Use your registry to confuse people as to your baby’s gender

“Wait, she wants a onesie that says “Daddy’s Princess” and one that says “Mommy’s Fancy Man?”  Blue and pink swaddles?”

They don’t need to know that you plan on returning all of that stuff anyway to purchase more nipple paste.

6.)   Do not register for clothes

90% of your baby’s 1st year wardrobe will be gifted to you anyway.  And as long as you don’t mind receiving at least five pink velour tracksuits, or dressing your infant son like a turn-of-the-century paperboy, there’s no need to waste a potential gift on a duckie romper.

7.)   Make sure there are lots of super-cheap items on your registry for your super-cheap friends to get for you.

And you knew that when you gave your friend a serving spoon as a wedding gift, she would someday pay it forward by gifting you a single pacifier.  Serves you right, you tightwad.

8.)   Don’t forget about a bouncer/ swing/ rocker/ vibrating chair/ playmat

Pick out the most expensive one in the store.  Your baby will probably hate it, but may end up liking the box.

9.)   Register for as many mattress pads, burp cloths, changing pad covers, and plastic wraps as you think people will shell out for. 

Babies spew fluid from every orifice.  Their fluids are gross, and will make your home seem like a dog park unless you take proper precautions.  Remember when your grandmother kept her couch wrapped under layers of plastic?  It wasn’t a fashion statement; she was trying to keep children from literally shitting all over her furniture.  You’d be wise to follow in her footsteps.

10.) See if you can snooker someone into gifting you a Netflix subscription

You will spend a lot of the wee hours feeding, rocking, or passing out while holding your baby.  And nothing says “quality bonding time with newborn” like a Game of Thrones marathon.