Saturday, October 3, 2009

Leaving Williamsburg

I just woke up for the last time in this apartment. Tomorrow, I suppose I’ll be Live from New Jersey?!? Maybe a new title altogether.

So many things are on my mind and I doubt I will even begin to get them all down.

My brother mentioned yesterday that my son will never remember living here. Which I’ve thought about a lot and probably bothers me the most. He won’t remember the little park I took him to down the street. He won’t remember taking his first walk right down Metropolitan. He won’t remember the window that he looked out every day and yelled and the people pumping their gas at the gas station. I’ll never get to ask him what he’s saying to them.

He won’t remember most of the people. The ones we’re close to and keep in touch with, sure, but it’s those every day people. The bartender who let me come in and have hot tea in the middle of winter because I had to get out of the house with a new baby and it was the closest place to go. The women at the laundromat who were always glad to see him. The guys at the corner deli who had watched him grow up...and me before him.

The same guys that were so excited to meet my husband. That always remembered my parents when they came to town. The same guys who years earlier had busted open their bandages and peroxide and fixed me up after being mugged on the street. Who years before that I had stood in the night across the street watching with a group of their patrons and friends to be a visible presence to the thugs that somehow thought that these men had something to do with the horrors that had happened in our city because of their race and religion. We were ready to fight that night. I don’t think many of us had ever seen a fight before.

He’ll never meet many of the people from Mommy’s crazy youth. Maybe that’s better. I suppose you don’t want people around reminding your child of all of your mistakes. But it really hasn’t been like that. The people who have known me here, the ones I still see anyway, seem to look at me with awe. Excited and impressed that I grew up so well, with that glint in their eye remembering who I used to be. The ones who didn’t know me well, doing double takes on the street...”Is that that girl I used to know?...Nah.”

I’ve lived within a 10 minute walk of this spot for 9 years. In this exact apartment for the last 5. Am I ready to have a home and a yard for my son? A place where he can hopefully have a childhood that has the best of New York, but is a little more like mine...quieter and more green? Yes. Am I ready to leave the place that I’ve called home for almost 10 years? These tears I’m crying seem to say no. I hope they’re wrong.

There are so many things I’m looking forward to in the future. And so many things that scare me. But today the future starts whether I’m ready or not. I’ll take the leap, because there is no other choice. Sometimes I wish for just one more day, but how many one more days can you wish for? Better just to jump with my family and know that somehow we’ll all catch each other.

Signing off. Live from last time.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

One Year

When Carter was born, I wrote his birth story. It took the better part of 3 weeks. I had intended to keep a blog about his life.

At three months, I realized I had gotten nowhere in that endeavor. So I opened a document and titled it “Three Months”, saved it and left it there for when my thoughts were ripe. A month later, there was the same blank page staring at me.

And while I had thoughts that I wanted to say, it just seemed I didn’t have the time to put them down.

I had wanted to say how quickly it had gone as it seemed like just yesterday that he had arrived. I had wanted to say how slow it was because it seemed like he had always been a part of our lives.

There were many more thoughts that supported those two main ideas and they have since all slipped away. As with everything else in his first year that I have not recorded in writing, they will be lost forever.

I took a lot of pictures, but I’ll be hard pressed to remember what date his first smile or step was because I didn’t write it down. And that makes me sad. But it also makes me hopeful, that perhaps I was living the moment instead of chronicling it.

This first year has been full of joy and full of hardship.

No one tells you how hard it is. Oh, they say, “It’s hard.” But no one ever tells you that you’re going to lose friends. No one tells you that even once your child starts sleeping, you’ll still be too exhausted to read a book. No one tells you that you will probably resent your child on occasion because you can’t do what you’d like. No one tells you that resenting your child for a moment will make you feel incredible guilt, because what did he ever do to be resented? No one tells you that your body won’t be fully recovered, even after all this time. Sure, there are the jokes about stretch marks and saggy breasts, but no one talks about the pains that won’t go away and the endless drain.

I don’t know if anyone possibly could.

No one tells you how joyful it is. I mean, they tell you it is wonderful and not to forget this special time. But no one tells you that one smile can change your whole day. No one tells you about the excitement when he starts holding you back when you hold on to him. The lift when he waves as you walk through the door. The calm in comforting him because you know that you are there to heal his pain. No one tells you that someone needing you is what you always needed.

I don’t know if anyone possibly could. Even harder I think to describe one’s joy than one’s sorrows sometimes. Not sure if that makes me a pessimist, or if that’s just part of the human condition.

My mom was mentioning a memory yesterday that I had forgotten from only 3 years ago. I thought about memory and how some things are so dear in one person’s mind while the other person involved may not recall them at all. I had a different memory of the same week that my mother had forgotten. Both good ones, both our own even though we lived them together.

And I realized, that no matter what happens, all these memories of this year with Carter will be mine alone. My husband will have different ones, maybe a few of the same.

Carter won’t remember it at all. Even if he could, would he remember it as I have?

I hope he wouldn’t remember my near breakdowns. The fear of seeing everything for the first time. And mistakes I may have made.

I would hope he would remember it as a time where he got to know his mother for the first time and they helped each other grow. A time where he learned a lot of things. A time that was sometimes scary but always safe because we were there for him.

Happy 1st Birthday Carter. We love you very much.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Birth Story

Sometimes, things don’t turn out the way you plan. And sometimes they do.

On Monday, July 28th, 2 days before our little one was due, I was on my way to my regularly scheduled OB appointment. On the way down the stairs of our apartment building, I missed a stair and fell two stairs, falling squarely on my behind on the landing. I hurt my ankle, but was able to get up and after getting over the initial shock of scaring myself half to death, I headed in to see my OB by car service, where DH met me.

After waiting for a while to get in, we were getting weighed by the nurse. I let her know that I had fallen. Soon the doctor came in and said they needed to put me on a fetal monitor due to my fall. Which they did. DH and I were really scared but the fetal monitoring turned out fine. His heart rate was great.

Then they decided to perform an ultrasound to check on him and that is where things started to go awry. My amniotic fluid was very low. So low that the doctor was surprised that my water hadn’t broken already. She was also surprised that the fetal monitoring had not shown decreased activity and heart rate. She called in another doctor for a consultation and between the two of them, they agreed, it was time for the baby to be born. I was told to go home, pack, eat a good, but light dinner and come to the hospital to be induced at 7 pm. She also mentioned to bring juice and light snacks as, unlike some doctors, she didn’t object to them during labor. She actually feels they are necessary for such a long process.

We made all the calls to the parents, my mom booked a flight to be there by later that night. We were scared, but excited. He seemed to be okay at the moment and if induction was what the doctors thought best, that’s what we would do. I planned to still try to labor without the epidural. Not because, as some people implied (male friends mostly), I was trying to be a hero, but because I didn’t like a lot of the things that go along with it. Not being able to get out of bed, catheterization and concern that I wouldn’t be sure of where to push. Though I had never been in labor before, so I had no idea how to weigh these cons against the con of the pain.

We arrived at 7 and were told that there was no labor room available at the moment and we’d have to wait in the waiting room...they were just cleaning one. An hour later, I sent DH to ask what was going on. We got a room right away. They were having a very busy night and had forgotten about us.

We get in the room and I get changed into a gown. And we wait. And wait. And rest a bit and watch TV and wait. My mom arrives at the hospital at close to midnight and we’re waiting. It’s a busy night and there is no resident available to come start my induction. So, we wait. DH, my mom and my brother take turns on the pull out chair.

At 1 in the morning, the resident arrives to insert the cytotec. It sits next to the cervix and gets it started dilating...though I was already 2 centimeters to begin with. She tells me that she’ll be back in 4 hours and they will probably give me pitocin at that time to start intensifying contractions.

And we wait some more. And watch the video of The Princess Bride on the really bad VCR in the room. We slept some during it. And we waited. And contractions came, but they weren’t we waited more.

Around 5 in the morning, they come in and run the pitocin. My doctor again encouraged a snack saying, “The anesthesiologist will kill me, but this is going to be a long day. I’ll take it.” So I ate and they ran the pitocin, which I didn’t think was that bad. My contractions got stronger, but still bearable and everything was alright. At some point, they increased the pitocin, but it was still alright. Carter’s heartrate was great and everything was going well.

At 9 am, I was still only 3 cm dilated. So my doctor decided that it was time to break my water to speed things up. She took the hook (looks like a giant crochet hook) and went to break the bag of waters. Nothing. She tried again. There was a tiny trickle and comments about how low the amount was. I should point out that I found all the cervix checking and breaking of waters painful and there was some screaming. My mom, who had been waiting behind a curtain, had to leave the room.

Then the fun began. Breaking the water sent me into very hard labor. Only I was only dilated 3 cm of 10. That would be 30% of the way...not even half. My mom and bro came back in an tried to look supportive. My mom kept looking worried, which I pointed out to her. And I was thrown into what I can only describe as excruciating pain. Over and over again.

After about 45 minutes, I threw my mom and my brother out of the room. As supportive as they were trying to be, they just felt like an audience to me. It went something like, “Get out, get out!” “Not YOU!” “You and YOU!” (to mom and bro). So they headed to the waiting room.

Another 15 minutes and I was begging for pain relief. I had tried many positions from my lessons in the time after my mom and bro left. Nothing seemed to be helping. I was on my knees, clinging to DH looking into his eyes while I screamed and tears streamed down his face to see me in such pain. I did say, “You SUCK!” once to him...the entire extent of anything bad I said to him.

When one calls for an epidural, it’s not like they are just right there on the spot. You have to wait for the one set of anesthesiologists to be done with whoever else they are with and come to you. That was a very long 15 minute wait. I truly wanted to die.

The anesthesiologist shows up and cavalierly tells me to sit up, roll over at the waist and “Don’t move.” I said, “I’ll try.” I think he prefers working with patients that aren’t awake. He chastised me for having eaten. I just let him.

The epidural in, they then said, “Now you can’t get up anymore.” Which the female anesthesiologist had assured me I would be able to do. Luckily I had been warned that this “walking epidural” was a myth, no matter what they tell you. I heard what I expected. I was confined to bed and would probably be getting a catheter to drain my bladder later.

15 minutes later, the epidural finally kicked in and I was comfortable again. They turned the pitocin back up which had been turned off while we waited for the drugs to kick in. And I let them get my mom and bro and bring them back in.

I was a bit embarrassed, I guess is the word, as I know my brother is against things such as epidurals, but he was very supportive when he came back in.

So we waited more. I was given a button to press whenever I felt pain. The nurse advised me to keep on top of it and not let it go until it was excruciating again or the button would be too little medicine to help and they’d have to wait for the anesthesiologist to come back and pump something directly in and then that might numb me too much. It was best to press it often.

Around 2:30 pm, my doc came back in. I was ready to push. Unfortunately, I’d pressed my button one too many times and felt totally numb so I wasn’t sure if I’d know where to push. We decided to wait a half an hour with me not pressing the button, so that my pushing would be productive right off and we wouldn’t waste 30 minutes of energy for nothing.

So she comes back around 3 pm, we send my mom and bro to the waiting room and we get ready to push. The doc keeps talking about the birth from that morning and how the woman pushed for three hours because she just wasn’t trying that hard every time. We all agreed that I would be trying super hard every time and we began.

And I pushed. Every contraction. For an hour. And his little head moved down. As soon as they thought I could see it, they put a mirror there where I could watch for motivation. And I pushed. Then...nothing seemed to happen. For an hour. I was pushing, but he wasn’t moving like he had been. I was pushing and he wasn’t coming.

And the pain was returning. I kept pressing my button, but it wasn’t helping the pain. And the nurse was annoyed and kept asking me if I was SURE it wasn’t pressure, not pain. Because obviously, I don’t know the difference. And I kept pushing, for another hour and the pain kept getting worse. The nurse is lucky I didn’t kill her and if DH hadn’t been there, I might’ve. Focusing on him was the only thing getting me through it. That and the ice and apple juice.

Soon I was begging just to have him out. And the doctor was discussing using forceps to avoid having to do a C-section. His head was right there, but just wasn’t coming.

So the doctor had to call the anesthesiologist back to “top me off”. In other words, to make me totally numb so they could put forceps inside me and help pull the baby out while I pushed. So he came and ran the drugs which they said would take effect within 5-10 minutes. 10 minutes later, my doc runs a metal object across my area and says, “Do you feel this?” “Yes, it feels like you’re poking me with tweezers.” “Really? Hmmmm.”

The anesthesiologist is called back and another dose is given. 15 minutes later, we go through the same routine. Yeah, I’m not numb.

The anesthesiologist returns in disbelief. Checks my epidural line to make sure it is still correctly placed. It is. Checks to see if I can still move my toes and legs. I can.

Gives me another dose. Making some menacing comment about how if that doesn’t work, he’ll come and fix me. It finally works.

In tromp 4 people from pediatrics, an extra nurse for me and a resident who is going to get training on a forceps delivery. So much for not cutting the cord right away, we’ve just become high risk from the amount of drugs and the fact that they’re going to wedge giant tong like metal things inside of me and help drag the baby out.

So the doctor tells the resident to check my station. That’s how far the baby is out. She shoves her fingers all the way up inside of me. Did I mention the baby’s head had been AT the opening for over an hour already. She turns to the doc and gives her assessment. My doc tries not to look panicked and checks my station herself.

Then quietly, she says to the resident, “When you check for station, don’t push the baby BACK UP INSIDE.”

I should’ve kicked her, but I was numb.

The giant forceps came out and they wedged them next to his head inside me and I pushed more while they pulled. I hear the doc telling the resident about what she’s doing. And saying, “this is when I like to take the forceps off and the rest of the baby just comes out.” it doesn’t. Because my baby is stuck with half of his head out. And my doc looks worried. So, I keep pushing while she jimmies my son out of my body with her hands, like getting a cork out of a bottle.

Our baby emerges. He’s not crying and his right arm is completely white, while the rest of him is pink.

DH and I watch the warmer next to us waiting for that first sound, which finally comes. His little arms slowly regains its color. The offending arm that kept him inside for an extra two hours after I had already pushed him to the gate.
Finally we hold our son.

I feel like I’ve left so much out. And there was more that came after this.

But this is a lot for now. So I’d edit and add more later.

So, his birth didn’t go remotely as planned. I ended up with pitocin, epidural and finished off with forceps (followed by incontinence and many other things I’ll write about later).

But our son is here. Safe and healthy...just like we wanted.