Monday, November 21, 2011

How Does Any Parent, Anywhere, Ever Get Anything Done, Like, Ever?

So, remember when I used to get all stressed out and announce all dramatically that I had to take a break from blogging, because doing half-assed As Seen on TV! workouts and keeping track of all of the various Gossip Girl plot lines simply took up all of my free time, and doing all that plus writing about my pubes on the Internet was about to just push me over the edge?

Ha. Ha ha ha ha. Hahahahahahaha. Oh, hindsight, you are such a sanctimonious asshole.

Before I had S., I imagined that the days of my maternity leave would be full of long, languid stretches of baby nap time that I could spend reflecting on motherhood, thinking up funny things to say about it, and regaling you with stories that would catch the eye of some book agent who would sign me immediately for a debut nonfiction bestseller, Mother Eff: Getting Through The First Year Gracelessly.

I thought that at the very least writing one post a week would be easy. But S. has other plans. I have, I am learning, what some might call a "high needs baby." He sleeps restlessly. He cries easily. He eschews Mary J. Blige's call for no more drama. Look, I love him forever and there are a few hours a day when he is a sweet, gurgling charmer, but a mellow baby he is not. When he gets really worked up, Jeff and I have taken to quoting from Say Anything:

"You must chill! You must chill! I have hidden your Firebird keys! Chill!" 

He doesn't get it.

The first thing people always ask is if he is sleeping. And the answer is, it's complicated. I mean, yes, he sleeps, but he prefers to sleep on my body, and does not enjoy being removed from the warm embrace of my spit up-stained sweater. If I wait for about twenty minutes, sometimes he will stay asleep when I gingerly transfer him to the bassinet like I am holding a live--and irritable--bomb. But most of the time he will instantly wake, giving me a look that says, "Bitch, you did not just do that." And then he will cry.

Even on my lap, his sleep is not always sound. If, for instance, he falls asleep nursing and then loses his vise-like grip on the nip, a violent Stevie Wonder-like head bob ensues, accompanied by a shrill wail. "WHERE IS MY NIPPLE?!?" he seems to say. "WHERE THE FUCK IS MY NIIIIIIIIIIIIPPPPPPPPPLLLLLLLLLLEEEEEEEEE?!?!?! SHAKESPEARE CAN GO FUCK HIMSELF, FOR THIS IS REAL TRAGEDY. THIS IS TRUE PAIN." Other times, I will move ever so slightly, or Jeff will cough, or a flea somewhere in the country will softly sigh, and he will startle, and we'll have to start the sleep process from scratch, bouncing wearily on our giant exercise ball.

This is all a long way of saying that I have about ten minutes total during the day when I have free use of both hands, and if there is a muffin anywhere in the vicinity the blog is screwed.

On Thursday, he is two months old. I am told it will get better. Please hang in there until it does.

Lucky for him he's cute.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Of Mice and Very Small Men

There is a mouse in my house.

I saw it for the first time last Friday, while I was nursing S. and watching my fiftieth consecutive episode of Mad Men. I closed my eyes and hummed and stayed in my rocking chair until Jeff came home... forty minutes later.

I saw it again--or thought I saw it; it was a corner-of-my-eye kind of thing--on Wednesday, and immediately left the house under the pretense of getting a latte. S. was my unwitting accomplice.

It had been well documented that I am terrified of rodents. If Carrot Top giving me an erotic massage is my 10th circle of hell, my 11th is the hallway at the Museum of Natural History which is part of the "North American Mammals" exhibit but which I have alternately christened "The Hall of Rats." It's literally a bunch of rodents tacked up to the wall. (Granted, they're behind glass, but seriously, anyone with a hammer and some nails could do this at home.)

Anyway, I don't know what to do. Most days I spend 6 hours alone in the house with no one to protect me from four-legged critters but a tiny man who spends most of his time vomiting on himself and smiling toothlessly at walls. Moving, according to Jeff, is not an option. Any tips that don't involve just growing a spine? I'm thisclose to ordering an anvil and some sticks of dynamite from the Acme Corporation...

P.S. For those of you not sick of baby posts, I wrote about failed sleep-training over at Aiming Low. I may or may not call my son "the world's greatest cockblock." (He totally is.)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What Childbirth Feels Like, And Other Burning (Pun Intended) Questions Answered

First, two disclaimers:

1. I started this post on Monday, which just goes to show you how much free time I have these days. S. only naps in his bassinet for about an hour; the rest of the time he insists on lying across my body like a cooing, grunting sack of flour, trapping me and forcing me to re-watch every episode of Mad Men while eating mini Clark bars. So every day I have a Sophie's Choice* of shower, meal that does not come in individually wrapped packaging, or dicking around on the computer (which encompasses blogging, ordering more baby shit from Amazon, and trolling my Facebook feed for breaking news, because I just don't have time to read the paper, let alone pick through the gonzo slush on

*Only not, you know, as important

2. I know that there are some (maybe a lot) of you who could give two shits about babies and boobs and everything else that comes with new motherhood, and I want to take this opportunity to say that I appreciate your reading it anyway--if you still are--and that sometime soon I hope to be able to write about topics other than poopy balls and sleep-deprivation. For now, though, please cut me some slack because this baby is all-consuming, and I mean that literally. He consumes me on a daily basis, 8 to 12 times. 

And on that note, here's another post about orifices and the human beings that sometimes come out of them:

So, no one actually asked me what it felt like to push a baby out of my body, but I'm going to tell you anyway, because when I googled "What does childbirth feel like?" in order to try to do a Karate Kid montage of mental and physical preparation, all I found were a bunch of Yahoo message board posts in which women basically just said that it hurts, that they'd blocked it out, or that they couldn't really describe it.

Before I gave birth, I kept joking to my horrified mother that I was going to live-blog the experience, but even if I'd done that it wouldn't have clarified anything for you. It probably would have looked something like:

5:50 am: First contraction!!!!
5:55 am: Shit, these are close together.
7:30 am: Owwwwwwww.
8:00 am: [Retching sounds]

In between contractions, I focused on looking pretty.
10:00 am: Hi, guys, this is Jeff. Una says if I try to get her to type anything else into her phone she's going to kill my entire family. She's mostly screaming now. It sounds like Gilbert Gottfried got stuck in a garbage disposal.
1:00 pm: Jeff again. Dude. I can never unsee this.
1:30 pm: I've been to hell and back. Baby is bare-assed; I'm wearing a diaper. How is this fair?

So before I block it out completely I want to document the sensations of my* birth as best I can.

*Obviously, everyone's experience will be different. One woman's stabbing vagina pain of death is another woman's unrelenting, shooting genital hellfire.

First things first, I skipped early labor. That's the beginning stage in which you supposedly feel relatively mild contractions every half hour or so, but can still do things like bake cookies, watch movies, and walk places without crying. So I don't know what that feels like, but compared to active labor I'm going to assume it feels like dry-humping the Stay-Puft marshmallow man.

Active labor, for me, felt more or less as follows: First, it's like the baby is putting a corset on you, but being a bitch and making it too tight on purpose so you'll pass out at cotillion and ruin your chances of ever dating the heir to an oil fortune (everything I know about high society I learned from Gossip Girl). The pain of contractions wraps around your belly and shoots down through your pelvis. At first you can breathe through them, but soon you have to moan and then yell into a pillow. The corset is suddenly made of knives, and they are stabbing you in your ladybits.

The worst part, for me, was "transition." This means that you are fully dilated and that the baby's head is moving through your cervix. Of course, at the time I didn't know I was in "transition." I thought I was in Dante's heretofore undocumented tenth circle of hell, except instead of Carrot Top attempting to give me an erotic massage, I was simultaneously splitting in half and feeling like I was about to shit on my duvet.

For the record, these are my other circles of hell.
After transition comes pushing, which most people assume is the really painful part, but for me it was a bit of a relief, because I got to be an active participant in the birth and not just a moaning, writhing, passive victim. From movies and TV you think that after pushing for five minutes the baby comes out, which is sometimes true for second or third births, but for first-timers pushing usually lasts for a few hours. But! The good news is that you won't know how long it's taking because you're too busy concentrating on each contraction--which now feels like you're attempting to push a barbell out of your ass--and the sweet, sweet sixty to ninety seconds of peace and painlessness you get in between them. The bad news, of course, is that it ends with a human head coming out of a place you equate with recreational pleasure.

The head coming out hurts, y'all. I won't lie. I can't describe it any better than that it feels like what it is: a head coming out of your body. There's a stretching, burning sensation that gets more intense with each push. But by that point you're all, "GET THIS THING OUT OF ME, NOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWW!!!!" so the pain takes a backseat to the most focused bearing down you will ever do. Birth makes your worst poop experience seem like shooting down feathers out of a T-shirt cannon.

So basically what I've just told you is that childbirth hurts. Who knew? My insights are invaluable. But seriously, here's something no one else says: the most alien sensation of all is when the body comes out. Because even though you've done the head, and your vagina is passed out cold and your central nervous system is shuddering and pouring itself a shot of Jameson, nothing will prepare you for the feeling of having a set of little arms and legs pulled out of your abdomen and through your baby chute. It's not so much painful as it is incredibly weird. But then you get your wrinkled little spawn plopped on your chest, and the oxytocin starts flowing, and suddenly you are dry-humping Mr. Stay-Puft... with your heart.

Are you vomiting yet? Good. Onto the Q&A, straight from the comments/Facebook!

Did any of your neighbors hear the labor/birth? When you give birth at home, how do you get a birth certificate?
Luckily, both our downstairs and upstairs neighbors were away for the weekend, and our fourth floor neighbors didn't hear a thing. I should totally take back that wine and earplugs, right? And when you give birth at home, your midwife has the birth certificate application form with her, you fill it out, and she mails it to the city clerk, or whoever handles that stuff.

How did Jeff handle things? Was he nervous about the home birth, were you? How long did it last? Are you one of those ladies that say it was the most amazing and beautiful experience ever or was it just "worth it"? 
Jeff was amazing. He was there for me throughout the labor, holding me, whispering that he loved me and telling me that I was doing great. He stayed behind me while I was pushing and didn't make any inappropriate comments about my compromised vagina, although he did later tell me that S.'s debut looked like "a hair volcano," since our son's flowing locks preceded him out of the womb.

Neither of us was especially nervous about the home birth. Obviously we knew that if anything went wrong we would need to be rushed to a hospital, which is never a comforting thought. But then again neither of us likes or feels comfortable in hospitals, so we were happy to be in our own apartment. As it turned out, I had an absolutely ideal home birth. My labor only lasted seven hours, and there were no complications whatsoever. And while my birth was amazing in many ways and I wouldn't change a thing, it hurt like fuck which kind of cancels out the beauty. So I'll go with "just worth it."

Circumcised or uncircumcised?
Un. You might have already guessed that based on the fact that I had a hippie home birth. And I know people are VERY opinionated about this issue, but my decision was based on two things: 1) It was not important to Jeff; and 2) We had no religious reason to do it. Sure, I'm not super excited about reading up on how to teach my son to properly clean his wang, but I also couldn't bear the thought of snipping off a part of him. That said, I don't judge anyone who makes the choice to circumcise. And I'll thank you to extend me the same courtesy.

I could not help noticing your eyebrows. Did you wax just before your due date? They look amazing!
Yeah, I put this question in just to flatter myself, but since I spend most days in sweatpants and a vomit-covered sweater, sporting a hairstyle that can best be described as "side ponytail struck by lightning," I need a boost. The answer, gentle reader, is that no, I did not wax my eyebrows pre-labor. It's just that years of maintaining/fighting off a unibrow have given me plucking skills that make me quite the Operation hustler. But like Eeyore might say, thanks for noticing.

And now I will distract you from the fact that I have no ending to this post with a smiling baby.

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