Photo Journey thru Phoebe's first month

An Open Letter to my Family

(Writer's note: I've been estranged from much of my extended family on both sides for several years now. I won't go into the details now...)

Ok, I give up. I've tried on numerous occasions to offer an olive branch and make peace with you.

For those of you on my father's side, I know we disagree regarding several things, but you could have at least informed me of my grandmother's death yourselves. The first notice I received from an actual family member was when I received a check with my father's share of her estate almost SIX MONTHS AFTER SHE DIED. I thought that was pretty tacky, but I can forgive it. I'm sorry that Aunt Kay passed away. Like my grandmother, I found out about her loss from the same family friend - who you also seem to be punishing for her contact with me.

For those of you on my mother's side, specifically those of you that decided to out and out ignore me at the mall Sunday. I have tried to make peace. As far as I can see, the sins I'm being punished for were my mother's. Mother could hold a grudge as well as any of you and did in the last years of her life. But I don't know why you punish me as well. I've only ever wanted to be friends with you. For my aunt particularly, your behavior hurts me the most. Long before I met my husband, you and I were buddies, going to shows and galleries. I thought we enjoyed each other's company and I miss that. I've hoped that we could at least be civil with each other and to that end, I made sure you knew that I was pregnant and were informed when Phoebe was born.

So, I'm sorry. I'm sorry for whatever it is that you think I did. If I knew what I did, I'd apologize for that, but I don't know and you won't tell me. What punishment you deal to me, I can handle, but you are the losers here because I have a daughter who looks just like those you loved the most. It's in not knowing her that will be your punishment.

If you could see her puzzled look, you would see my father and grandfather. I swear every time she gets a thoughtful look, I feel like my father is watching me. She has the same wonky knees and long legs.

But her smile - oh, her smile is my mother's and uncle's. When she smiles, she lights up my heart and I am reminded of my mother laughing at some joke or my uncle Larry at some mischief.

This is what you are missing and for this I am sorry for you.

Childbirth as Therapy

When Phoebe was born, I found myself missing my mother and father so much. In the first few days after her birth, particularly during late night/early morning feedings when it's quiet and I have time to think, I could barely make it through a feeding without weeping all over her tiny head.

I never knew that the hormones would be this crazy nor that having Phoebe would open up so many old wounds. She reminds me of my parents and other loved ones in so many ways and during the quiet of the night, I look at her in wonder and love and think about all those people who would love her so much if they were here.

It seems like having her has ripped the band aid off of things that I thought were healed but in reality were just scabbed over. Do we ever really heal from the death of a loved one? Or do we just kind of get used to their loss?

While I am able to think about my parents and remember the fun and aggravation of both of them, it's during the late nights that I think about how much they loved me and how much, were they here, they would have loved Phoebe.

How we got here...

Tuesday, July 15 found me at home. My back was still killing me. If you remember, I went to see Hellboy II on Saturday and the baby dropped while we were there. She was sitting directly on my sciatic nerve causing me extreme pain and difficulty walking.

I spoke to a midwife via phone Monday night when the pain just wouldn't ease up. She suggested a couple of Tylenol PM and a warm bath and visit to the office the next morning.

So, I stayed at home Tuesday and Moo did as well. He is so sweet and took really good care of me.

Tuesday afternoon, I had an appointment at House O'Babies and the Perinatologist. Just before we left for the OB/GYN appointment, I got a call from the perinatologist's office. It was Jen, one of Dr P's nurses to update me on the amniocentesis. Spider Monkey's lungs were now mature and they were going to consult with House O'Babies.

So by the time I got there, Dr R (a very nice doctor from South Africa) was ready to talk about our next step. After talking about the size of the baby, my back and how tall I am, he asked me to strongly consider a c-section. I was in so much pain that it didn't take much to convince me.

So we were scheduled for a c-section the NEXT morning. Meanwhile, I needed to get over to the hospital for blood work and preregistration, go to my appointment with Dr P, get our animals to the vet for boarding and eventually get some dinner. Needless to say, there was a lot of running around which was REALLY difficult considering how bad my back was.

At Dr P's office, we got a final look at Spider Monkey on ultrasound and a final estimate on weight (8 pounds 11 ounces) and then we were off to the hospital across the street for blood work and paperwork. Then it was back home to get the pets packed and taken to the vet for boarding.

About 8PM, we were finally able to get some dinner.

Next morning, I was awake bright and early. My back was still killing me. I was having trouble walking. Moo dropped me off at the door of the hospital and I got signed in. Quickly, everything started to move ahead.

We were sent to the c-section pre-op area where I put on a clean gown and was prepped for surgery. A cavalcade of folks started to introduce themselves to me: the OB/GYN who would be doing the surgery, the assisting OB/GYN, their nurse, the OR nurse, and the anesthesiologist's physician's assistant (to be known as the Gay PA).

I was walked to the OR and was helped onto the table. Because of my back, this was a slow arduous process. Finally, I was on the table and positioned for a spinal block. I had to practice arching my back while they swabbed my back with the coldest stuff on Earth. I asked if they kept it in the refrigerator just to torture folks.

The anesthesiologist came in then and started to place the block. This was not the most pleasant thing I've ever experienced, but compared with the last amniocentesis was no big deal. The doctor was futzing with the needle and it was my job to stay in position and to tell him what I felt. What I felt was a shock down first one leg and then the other. The Gay PA then asked if I could stretch my back out anymore. Sure I said and bent over a little more. That allowed the anesthesiologist to slide the needle right in. The Gay PA said, "Why didn't you do that before?" I said because they said they wanted me to arch my back like a cat - leaning way over didn't feel like I was arching anything.

Anyway, the doctor started putting in the medicine and I had to quickly get into place while I could still move my legs. I seriously felt for a minute like I was falling off the table, but the Gay PA grabbed me and said that I wasn't falling. I lay down and quickly felt this lovely warm feeling through my legs and into my back.

How can I describe what it feels like to have a spinal block? For one thing, you still feel things. I couldn't feel pain (the doctor was poking me with a scalpel and all I felt was a brushing feeling), but I could feel movement. It felt a lot like when your foot falls asleep. You can still feel it when you touch it with your hand, but you can't tell what's happening.

The Gay PA kept me well informed the whole time. When I felt my legs being moved, he told me that a catheter was being inserted - sorry, you don't get any modesty while having a baby. Then, my arms were extended and strapped down. Things were attached to my fingers and a drape was placed. I could feel the same FREEZING cold liquid on my belly as they got my belly ready for surgery. Then, the surgeons came in and started poking me to be sure I was good and numb. Moo was brought in and seated in the chair of honor next to my head. He was suited up in a gown, cap and mask so all I could see of him was his eyes.

Seemingly within a couple of minutes, an odor wafted through the air. Gay PA leaned over to me and said, "What you're smelling is the cauterizing knife we use to minimize bleeding."

"So, that's the smell of my flesh burning?" I asked.

"Uh, yeah."

"Smells like bacon," I said more to myself than to the PA.

"I don't like to tell people that cause they freak out, but yeah, it smells like bacon," said the Gay PA.

"Bibbity bobbity BACON!" I declared with my eyes closed.

I mostly dozed thru a lot of it. Within what seemed like just a couple of minutes, Gay PA told Moo to get his camera ready. Then I could feel some pressure and then something like a PLOP! And then they were saying she was out and Moo was snapping photos like crazy.

Moo and the baby were taken to another room for examination while the doctors patched me up. I dozed for most of it, but I remember one particular moment when I felt like I was suffocating. Gay PA started giving me meds to combat the feeling and at my request, moved a blanket covering my chest away from my face.

And then it was over. They were removing the drape and releasing my arms and I was moved from the operating table to a gurney to be moved to recovery.

In recovery, I was placed next to Phoebe who was explaining to the staff in very loud uncertain terms her opinion of being in the world. She was struggling to breathe a little and a NICU nurse was evaluating her and suctioning fluid out of her lungs. I didn't find this surprising since we'd just gotten the all clear on lung maturity and the fact that she didn't get the benefit of the squeeze in the birth canal to help her clear them.

After a few minutes, they took us to our room on one of the Mother/Baby floors. I have to back up here. The hospital where Spider Monkey was born has an amazing Maternity area. They have a separate building dedicated to Birthing. One floor is dedicated to birth, the other 4 floors are all post-partum rooms. And the post-partum rooms are GIGANTIC!!

We got to our Mother/Baby (post-partum) room and then my nurse decided that SM was struggling a little too hard to breathe and sent her down to NICU for evaluation. This facility has a level 3 NICU unit and has a sub-unit called "Transitional NICU" for babies that are either close to being discharged or just need a little extra care but don't need full intensive care. Phoebe was sent to "Transition" for about 5 hours. Before she was sent, I got to hold her for maybe 30 minutes.

If anything, this is the thing I regret the most. I only had a few minutes with her before she was whisked away and when she was brought back to me, the spinal block had worn off and I was beginning to feel some pain.

Nevertheless, I was able to bond with my baby that night as she screamed her way through the evening. At one point, Moo and I were looking at each other at about 3 am like "What the hell have we done?" She passed out at about 5AM and we followed her.

Next day, she was sweet and engaging and just a joy to be around.

Stir Crazy

Let's meander thru Amanda's thought processes a little, shall we?

First, I went to my primary care doc last week to check on my back. I love my PCP. He was also the doc to my grandmother, father and mother and he sees Moo as well. He's covered us all and he's only in his mid-forties. He oohed and ahhed over little Miss Phoebe and then checked me out. He agreed with the sciatica diagnosis, but wanted me to have a urine culture too to eliminate that from the list. Yesterday, I got a call that I do indeed have a urinary tract infection and I'm on lovely Bactrim to deal with it.

What's so bad about this is that I haven't been feeling good at all, but have been ignoring it largely because I'm almost 4 weeks postpartum and figured it was all part of that. I've actually been healing quite well from the c-section, but have been really tired and achy lately and just figured that I was overdoing my activities.

As noted in another post, my back and the c-section healing have caused me to become a little stir-crazy, so when I do get out of the house, I am more likely to do something incredibly stupid like wander around the mall or around Baby Nirvana (BRU) for long periods of time until my back is starting to tighten up. As with other things with me, I have no idea what "slow and steady" means. As a result, when we get home, I'm on the couch or in bed bitching and complaining about my back and crying in frustration.

The baby is doing really well. Moo and I seem to understand how to take care of this little creature and with the exception of a few times, our home is still relatively quiet. She's a really good baby and just doesn't cry that much. (except for today when she wants to be held all day!!)

As noted above, there is still a little bit of weepiness, but it has largely passed (THANK GOODNESS!!). Now, I'm into feeling guilty.

When my back is bothering me at night, I need help from Moo and it just kills me to ask it of him. Yes, I know this is his kid too and yes, I know I just had major surgery a few weeks ago now along with a UTI making me feeling like crap. But, logic doesn't apply here.

I feel like since he's leaving home everyday to go to work that he should be able to rest a bit when he gets home. I hate to be the kind of wife that comes up with some insane number of tasks that need to be completed the moment he walks in the door. I'd like to enjoy his company and would like him to have time with Phoebe as well.