We’re Lost: Saving the World Together Every 108 Minutes

the newborn orientation

By Matt

Preface: This post will literally make no sense unless you have see the tv show Lost, specifically the episode “Man of Science, Man of Faith.”

Welcome. I am Dr. Marvin Candle, and this is the orientation film for station 1 of the Eng Dynasty Initiative, the Newborn. Every 108 minutes, your baby must be fed. From the moment she starts crying, you will have 4 minutes to insert milk in either breast or bottle form into the micro-human. It is highly recommended that you and your partner take alternating shifts. In this manner you will both stay as fresh and alert as possible. It is of the utmost importance, that when the baby cries, the milk must be given correctly and in a timely fashion.

During that 108 minutes, you will develop a rhythm around these six specific things:

4: The number of actual minutes you sleep every 108-minute period.

8: The number of times you fantasize about your partner telling you “I got this” when the baby starts crying again.

15: The amount of times you say you are “going to the bathroom,” but in reality are just closing your eyes for four to five minutes of peace on the toilet seat.

16: Equal to two 8 oz. cups of coffee, which is the minimum amount you will need to survive each 3-hour period.

23: Michael Jordan’s uniform number. He had so many illegitimate children. Did he care for any of them? Is there any way you can “be like Mike?”

42: The number of years it will likely take to recover from the sleep you lost during the newborn phase.

4 18 15 16 23 42

Station 1: The Newborn
Station 1: The Newborn
Let’s flash sideways six years ago. St. Louis, Missouri.

I was at a conference half way around the country. This woman comes up to me. Her name is Angela Harrison. She is beautiful and weird. I remember that I wanted to kiss her after talking to her for five minutes. So I do the bold thing and ask her out. She agrees and we eat empanadas and drink mojitos at a restaurant down the street. That was it. It was soon a “race” for her heart. I was “lost” in love. We started to date and got married two years later.

Flash forward. 2012-2013

We bought a dog and a cat and started our small family. Angela said that we could save the world together. So we did, and that was lovely. But we needed more. We moved away from our comfort zone in Hampton Roads to start a new life in the Washington, D.C., metro area. It was time. We needed somebody else to inhabit our island.  So we started to try to get pregnant with no result. I wanted to give up, but she kept telling me to “not tell her what she couldn’t do.” She was adamant that it would happen. Months later, it finally did.

We went through the pregnancy. Even if I felt like an “other” from time to time, we got through it, even if the ride was a bit bumpy. Some days it felt like we had survived a plane crash. As such, the birth was far from smooth sailing. Within the first day after our daughter Zelda was born at the hospital, we wondered where our normal lives went. We had to go back.

We came home and settled into our new station. We saw the orientation films online. We read the documents and prepared ourselves. We were told to react to our child every 108 minutes. It’s what our parents said; it’s what most of the books and documents stated ad nauseam. Approximately every 2-3 hours, something had to be done in the form of changing and, most importantly, feeding. This is of course more of a burden for Angela as it is for me because I lack the necessary equipment. The clock counts down, and a “code” must be entered. After a while, we started into a routine. Every 108 minutes.

It all starts with the crying.

JackEye

Our eyes open. Four minutes to go before a complete meltdown. We wake up, wipe away what minimal sleep was in our eyes, and go straight to the child. She is hungry. The “code” must be entered – she needs to feed. For fear of triggering an electro-magnetic pulse of crying, we ready for the task at hand with military precision.

So we enter the “code:” mother’s milk. Down the hatch. The warm substance enters the test subject. The crisis is averted and the countdown begins again…for now. 108 more minutes to go. What to do now? When sleep does not come, we occupy ourselves with other tasks.

It starts with music. If it’s very early in the morning, we try to go for something catchy that will keep us awake. Not exactly Mama Cass, but not heavy metal either. Soothing is the key.

The routine continues to kick in. Now two weeks into a routine, much of what we do runs on auto-pilot. After nearly 40 minutes of running around and feeding our daughter, less than two hours remain. Time speeds up and slows at the same time. With the music playing softly in the background, we go into our nightly montage:

  • Pick up empty bottles, used burp cloths, pacifiers, etc. and wash accordingly.
  • Empty the Diaper Genie and throw away used diaper bags. It is also beneficial to take out a few diapers for the next emergency/emergencies (as they can come in waves).
  • Take a shower. It is always invigorating to wash the stink of the day and/or my daughter’s poo and spit up off my skin.
  • Do the laundry. Although the quantity of laundry differs on any given day, it is guaranteed that our 7.5 lb. little girl generates at least a load of clothes a day. Newborn life is serious business.
  • Food and drink. Most of the time, we skip the food and go straight to the coffee. Although I do recall standing in the kitchen in my underwear last week at 3:45am eating leftover wonton strips. During the first few days at home, I was averaging 3 cups of coffee in each 108-minute period. I may have a problem.

With the time left (and there isn’t much by then), a strategy is devised for the next round. By then, the crying alarm sounds once again, and it is once again time to save the world together. One step at a time…even when we feel at times, for the lack of a better word, lost.

24/7 the First 48 Hours

Well, I’m over a week into motherhood and I think it’s pretty rad so far. Sure, there’s some not-so-wonderful aspects to it (sleep deprivation, round the clock feedings, poop explosions, etc.), but when Zelda smiles or grips my finger, all those not-so-wonderful things wash away and I’m left in awe.

I’ve been wrestling with what I want to write about this round, and I finally settled on talking about my experiences with 24/7 rooming at the hospital. If you’re not familiar with the concept, it means the baby is in your postpartum recovery room with you all the time, day and night. The purpose is to promote a stronger bond between the mother and child, encourage breastfeeding, and more or less familiarize the mother with the baby’s cues. In our childbirth class, we were told that we would be doing the 24/7 rooming, and Matt and I thought it was great. I looked forward to the time we would spend getting to know Zelda right away.

Well, it was great in theory.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand how important 24/7 rooming is. I have no problem believing that it fosters stronger bonds and teaches the mother to interact with the child. However, my experience was marred by a few factors.

  1. I had absolutely no recovery time. After about an hour of recovery time in the birthing room, I was popped onto a wheelchair, baby in arms, and wheeled to the postpartum room. Once I got settled into bed, she was plopped in my arms and that was it. Matt and I were on our own. For the first day, I was unable to get out of bed. Literally. I’d suffered a first-degree tear during the birth (funny enough, getting a tear was my biggest fear and it did come to pass, but I didn’t give a damn one way or the other in the end), so my ladybits were packed with ice packs, witch hazel pads, and a hospital grade menstrual pad. All of it was wrapped up nicely in the equivalent of an adult diaper. And it HURT. The first time I had to pee, it took two nurses to walk me to the bathroom. Needless to say, every time Zelda started to cry, I was completely dependent on Matt to get up and hand her to me, change her diapers, try to swaddle her, etc.
  2. We got no sleep. I know, I know, newborns and sleep don’t belong in the same sentence unless you’re talking sleep deprivation. Maybe this rooming in was a way to prepare us for it, I don’t know. I’d been awake since 2 AM, birthed a child at 4 PM, and by 12 AM I was ready to have a breakdown. I was unable to form complete sentences. We could not sleep and hold Zelda at the same time; we had to sign a disclaimer saying we wouldn’t due to the safety hazards (which is completely understandable). When we hit 24 hours, I’m pretty sure both of us were safety hazards. We begged the nurse to take her to the nursery for an hour (since Zelda would be due for another feeding) and she told us to tough it out. We finally managed some sleep after 26 hours. As sleep deprived as we are, we have yet to go 26 hours without sleep.

    IMG_0392
    3 AM and going strong.
  3. I resented not having options. I was eager to start breastfeeding and bonding with Zelda, and I dove into the task with enthusiasm. The enthusiasm waned as the lack of rest and pain overtook me. I was so exhausted. I appreciated the opportunity to bond, to learn to breastfeed, and to get to know my baby better. However, I started to resent the fact that I could not get a break. Again, I know. When you go home, you don’t get a break and the nurses aren’t there to help you. But if those first couple of days are so crucial, I didn’t want to spend them so sleep-deprived and resentful that I don’t know heads from tails. My baby and my relationship with the baby is important, but so is my headspace. If my head isn’t in a good place, I can’t be the best I can for Zelda.

    IMG_0379
    A moment of respite.

Even as I type this, I feel like I’m whining. It wasn’t all bad. I got a lot of quality time with Zelda. We did establish a breastfeeding routine, got lots of skin-to-skin time, and I learned the ol’ check the diaper-offer the breast-rock-soothe-swaddle routine. I’m not saying that the 24/7 rooming in should be abolished, but I am saying that there should be options. I didn’t want to sleep all night. I just wanted to rest so I could not endanger my child.

I would have liked more options. I would have liked my health to be considered a little more. Rooming in is painted as a totally rosy experience, and in truth it was stressful. In the end, everything turned out OK and I think the rooming in was beneficial. I only say it was great in theory because my expectations of what it would be like vs the reality were so drastically different.

But touting the perk that mothers get more rest when the baby is in the room 24/7?

I don’t think so.

FullSizeRender
All worth it, regardless.

 

Sleep Rules Everything Around Me

IMG_1917

By Matt

No more struggle, no more energy. 

Holy shit. I am tired. I’m not the kind of tired that you tell your friends about when you chat at a bar the following day (even though we just know you were watching Netflix until 4am). This is a restless kind of tired – the kind where you can’t sleep when you want to even if you tried.

It’s not very often that one compares the film The Deer Hunter to having a baby, but these last few days have made it incredibly apt. Our nightly routine is truly like playing Russian Roulette. Every time we put her down to bed, it’s like loading a bullet into the chamber of a gun. You have to ask yourself if doing so is worth the next two to three hours trying to calm her down. When you step away and the trigger is pulled, will you come out alive? It’s been almost a week of repeating this process, and I can’t tell if I’d rather be in a Vietnamese tiger cage with Robert DeNiro and Christopher Walken. Want to sleep a few hours? You gotta play with a few more bullets.

Every moment is an “oh shit” moment as we struggle to find a rhythm. As a former drummer, I would hope that I’d be able to strike a beat with Zelda. Wrong. The great philosopher Gloria Estefan once said that this “rhythm” would inevitably “get you tonight.” She ain’t lying. Although we haven’t exactly got it down pat, this is pretty much how it’s gone so far:

11pm: The grandparent(s) go to sleep. Zelda is mostly quiet at this point, as she is still feeling the warmth of granddad and/or grandma. Both Angela and I are semi-awake and alert to the realities ahead of us. The storm gathers.

12am: By now, Zelda has been changed and breastfed. She is either dead sleep or completely awake and crying. Thankfully, I have developed “the touch” for getting her to calm down. The problem is that it never lasts. When I am able to settle her down, I feel super human. And tired. But mostly super human. I have the touch. I have the power (yeah!). I’m a winner.

2am: Four alarm crying. It’s like she has “transformed” into something completely different. That angelic beam of light that sleeps so soundly during the day has now turned into a 7 lb. fog horn that loves to exercise her new lungs. “The Touch” will not save us now. Stan Bush himself couldn’t help at this point.

4am: Still. Awake. Four in the morning used to be the “witching hour” back when I was in college and graduate school. I always felt that if I could make it to 4am, I could be good for the rest of the evening. I hate that it still rings true as a new father. When she is wide awake, I am ironically wide awake as well. My patience with her, however, slowly wears thin. Four straight hours of crying has not dampened her spirits in the least. I find other things to occupy the time. I keep playing the “did she poop/pee in her diaper” guessing game and lose just about every time. It’s a long, long night. But the night is darkest just before the dawn.

6am: Dawn. She is finally asleep. I am too tired to sleep. I HATE that feeling. I have just enough time to rest my eyes before she wakes up screaming to start the process all over again. The hard part is, once the day starts, you are still required to be a fully functioning adult. I don’t know how other parents do it, but I am very thankful that we have some time to figure out how to get into the groove.

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Nips.

Cry Baby/Cry, Baby

I used to get really upset when I heard a baby cry, mostly in public places. How dare that little shit interrupt my meal? I’m paying good money, here, right? How dare those parents bring an infant into a movie theater to sit and view a film that I AM watching. When I hear my child cry now, the only thing I feel is worry.

Does her crying mean that she needs something? Not always. Every time I hear her cry, I go through the same mental checklist in my head. By the time I figure out that she is just acting like a newborn baby, she has already started a new round of screams and tears.

Despite her incessant cries, she is a constant reminder that I am truly blessed. It’s still so amazing. I helped create something so perfect. ME – the guy who sharted during a GHIST 101 test in my freshman year of college and had to keep going and finish because bathroom breaks weren’t allowed.

On our first night home this past Thursday, we got zero sleep. ZERO. CERO. ZILCH. NIL. NADA. She cried straight from 1am to 7am. My mind raced around about everything I thought I needed to do to prepare for the next cry attack. On top of that, I have developed a hefty dose of anxiety about all of the work I need to do that I am simply not doing. I tend to do that WITHOUT a baby. How the hell am I going to handle it now that I have something living and breathing to care for? For all of you that do it without blinking: I salute you. I don’t want to let anyone down, especially my coworkers who have given me so much leeway these past few weeks. It’s like a fresh wound. I just need air and time to heal. And sleep. So much sleep. But this is still all very new, and I still have to honestly pick and choose what I have time for while my daughter reenacts an Edvard Munch painting. I don’t think Fugazi wrote “I’m So Tired” about me, but the song speaks to me in ways I cannot describe. I am constantly feeling “sick but not sick” due to the lack of sleep and the constant moving around at night from hot to cold.

Next Level Tired

That 4:30am feeling.
That 4:30am feeling.

She may be less than a week old, but I am pretty sure she knows EXACTLY what she is doing. She can be an absolute joy for grandparents and visitors during the day. The minute it is just the three of us for the night, it’s like BOOM: TINY FUCKING TERROR – complete with all the tears to make you constantly ask yourself, “what the hell am I doing wrong?”

We aren’t doing anything wrong. We just haven’t found out what it takes to get it just right yet. And that is okay.

Despite how tired I constantly feel, I find that I always get a huge burst of energy the minute I hold her. It is still a rush for me, and the excitement of a newborn certainly supersedes my own feeling.

Zelda brings all of it out of me. All of these feels bring about a new form of tiredness. I’ve thought about it a lot lately. In case you didn’t know, there are five different kinds of tiredness most of us have felt at one point throughout our lives:

  • Drunk Tired: The feeling of wanting to go to sleep anywhere possible, as fast as possible. Drunk tiredness is brought about by too much alcohol in one sitting.
    • Symptoms include: Loss of motor skills, dignity, and self-control.
  • Work Tired: The feeling of drowsiness brought on by several overlapping projects at work.
    • Symptoms include: Irritability and the desire to get drunk tired as soon as possible.
  • Fun Tired: The euphoric feeling brought on by a long succession of activities and interests of a given individual.
    • Symptoms include: The need to rehash how awesome the process was to get to “fun tired” on social media.
  • Not Fun Tired: The feeling of angst after experiencing something unpleasant, unwanted, or generally hated.
    • Symptoms include: Extreme irritability and a general “stabby” feeling. Overconsumption of alcohol may ensue.
  • Baby Tired: A new and visceral sensation; a combination of all four forms listed above.
    • Symptoms include: Vomiting, diarrhea, overconsumption of coffee/wishing it was alcohol.

Well, it’s almost that magic hour. Time to load the gun with bullets and pull the trigger. The coffee is brewed and the kid is working up to a good cry. Here’s to Zelda: the only girl who can make me smile and feel complete love and general simultaneous stabbiness.

“I am climbing a distorted mountain of agony”: Zelda’s Birth Day

Skin on skin moments after birth.
Skin on skin moments after birth.
I think the past 48 hours are among the most insane I’ve ever had. Even as the hours tick by, making the 9th of February fall further and further behind me, the more surreal and dreamlike the entire experience becomes. I still have trouble believing everything has happened, but I’m watching Zelda sleep in her bouncer nearby, clad in jammies that are way too big for her and occasionally kicking a tiny, perfect foot out. I like to think she’s dreaming.

What do babies that are only two days old dream about?

During the day of the 8th, I started getting cramps. They were irregular and mild, but they were new. Then they started to get more regular. I kept expecting my water to break; I’ll sadly admit some expectations I had were the result of popular culture. In the movies, women always have a huge moment where the water breaks and then the scene cuts to them in the hospital. Not so, this was a slow buildup, almost a cycle. I knew this was the start. After days of a sign, of uncertainty, of asking friends what to look for, I knew my body was sending me the signals I’d been waiting so desperately to receive.

I am the centre
Of a circle of pain
Exceeding its boundaries in every direction
The business of the bland sun
Has no affair with me
In my congested cosmos of agony
From which there is no escape

I was pleased the process began on its own and I didn’t need inducing; it was a big deal to have this done on my own terms. That would change later, but I’m still glad the machinery of birth was started by my own body and not the Pitocin. We got to the hospital at 5 AM and the day went by in a blur. I ate breakfast, I chatted with my parents and my in-laws, who came mid-morning, and walked laps around the nurse’s station in my stupid gown to speed up the labor. The contractions got more intense and I would have to stop everything to breathe through them, but the pain was manageable.

Around one, the doctor checked my cervix and told me the labor wasn’t progressing fast enough. I wanted to keep walking and working through the contractions, but the doctor wanted to give me a low dose of Pitocin to bump things up a little. I consented, but I wasn’t happy about it. I was perfectly content to let the labor progress naturally all day. I wanted the contractions to get more intense on their own, not at the speed of medicine. I wouldn’t be ready for the speed of medicine and I knew it. I refused to let them break my water, though. Come hell or high water, that was happening on its own.

Sure enough, after the Pitocin came the contractions got much more intense. Soon I wasn’t just breathing through the pain, I was gripping hands and writhing on the bed. I didn’t scream, but I was pretty close. I finally asked for the epidural. I think a small part of me wanted to hold out, just to see if I could do it. I knew going in I would want an epidural; it was written in my birth plan. However, I think a teeny tiny part of me wanted to try and stick it out. Nope. God bless all you natural birthers out there. You are some amazing ladies.

I am climbing a distorted mountain of agony
Incidentally with the exhaustion of control
I reach the summit
And gradually subside into anticipation of
Repose
Which never comes.
For another mountain is growing up
Which goaded by the unavoidable
I must traverse
Traversing myself

Due to some miscommunication, it took over an hour for the anathesiologist to get to my room. By then, the pain was a white-hot bolt of lightning that seared through my lower body. I didn’t scream, I didn’t call Matt any names, I didn’t go all out crazy. But I sure as hell wanted to. I’m pretty sure at some point when I was holding his hand I thought about biting through it. Funny, since one of the tweets from a friend echoed that thought:

Matt and I had seen the process of getting an epidural though birthing class. No doubt it would be unpleasant, and it was. At one point, I got nailed with a set of contractions while the needle was going in my spine. I remembered thinking if there was a hell, this was it. I’ve reached the tenth circle, and it is childbirth. Matt held my head between his hands and told me I was doing great. When the epidural finally kicked in, I didn’t regret getting it one bit. I still felt things, it just didn’t hurt as much.

At one point, I started to feel pressure towards the back of my body instead of the front. My mom and mom-in-law said that was important, as that meant Zelda was moving ever so lower. That pressure also hurt like hell. It built and built, and then out of nowhere my water broke. Holy crap, that was weird. I could almost hear the pop. It felt like a balloon attached to a faucet, just filling up more and more until it was so full it burst. And it felt like gallons. All I could think was, thank god that didn’t happen in bed or in public. Not long after I was checked again, and it was go time.

There’s something to be said for this entire process. You can’t be modest, and you can’t be shy. Everyone sees every part of your body, and there’s nothing you can do about it. So when I was on that bed with my legs in the air, Matt holding one up and the nurse holding the other, I thought again about the pregnant body as a public body. How every part of you is on display and you can’t control it. The amusing part about this experience is that, at one point, you just say fuck all.

Four pushes. That was all it took. It didn’t hurt, but I felt it happen. Matt, holding one of my legs up, had a front row seat for the festivities, which he may or may not write about later. But when the doctor pulled Zelda out and placed her on my stomach, my heart rose up in my mouth, tears spilled down my cheeks, and I let out a quavering “Oh, shit.” Funny those were the words, especially since about nine months ago, on the day I found out I was pregnant and showed my dad the positive test via FaceTime, his exact words were “Oh, shit.” We’ve come round full circle, folks.

via GIPHY

The only thing I do regret about the experience is not asking to see the placenta. Bear with me, here. It’s pretty cool to create and grow a child. However, to have your body create and grow an organ is pretty damn amazing as well. It might sound silly, but I kind of wanted to say goodbye to the piece of me that helped Zelda get here safely. Matt saw it, said it was gross and looked like a Portuguese man o war. I might have thought the same, but that small and curious part of me wanted to see. Oh well. If there’s a next time, maybe then.

Relaxation
Negation of myself as a unit
Vacuum interlude
I should have been emptied of life
Giving life

So now I’m navigating the waters of motherhood. I’m already making mistakes, learning, and celebrating small triumphs. After such an emotionally difficult pregnancy, I’m finding that this part, the start of our life with her, is unbearably sweet. Even through the sleep deprivation and the crying and the poop explosions, I am more than happy. This adventure truly is grand.

Stir of incipient life
Precipitating into me
The contents of the universe
Mother I am
Identical
With infinite Maternity
Indivisible
Acutely
I am absorbed
Into
The was-is-ever-shall-be
Of cosmic reproductivity

First Breath

  
It’s been a crazy 24 hours. Words cannot begin to describe how amazing it’s been. I am typing this from my phone right now on the world’s most uncomfortable chair. My ass is sweaty and a little Stanky. Angela is asleep in the hospital bed next to me. I have a day old newborn, fresh from her latest rounds of shots (sorry anti-Vaxers/not sorry Jim Carrey), sleeping  somewhat soundly on my left shoulder. She is warm and smells sweet. Her skin is soft despite her newborn rash (which I already freaked out over). And despite the massive shit I cleaned up earlier (gross), she couldn’t be more perfect. 

I am still struggling to wrap my head around what just happened. We went from contractions at 2am yesterday, to hospital admittance at 5am, to an epidural at 2pm, to lastly a beautiful baby girl at 4:31pm. 

Last night was a bit rough. Angela managed to get a few hours and I got about an hour myself. Other than that, it was a constant cycle of breastfeeding, rocking, and drinking coffee. I seriously drank 10 cups of coffee from 9pm yesterday to about 8am this morning. My piss today smelled like French Roast. Super gross, but also super worth it. I say that now, but at this point I mean it. I know there are many more nights like that to come. I would honestly give just about anything to get a solid night of sleep. Everything but Zelda, obviously. 

I want to personally thank all the readers of this blog and our friends throughout social media. It’s been a big source of support and a big morale booster for Angela, who had almost a perfect. Almost perfect, but I’ll let her talk about that. Our parents have been especially amazing, and I know they are so proud of Angela and elated at their new addition. 
Me? I’m just the new dad holding the little girl, who may feel tired bit really doesn’t have shit to complain about. I did notice something yesterday: women rule. Childbirth is reason alone for every woman to get all the rights they need. All. They are super humans. Angela is made of fucking steel. If you don’t think so, or believe men deserve any more rights than women, I invite you to push a mini basketball out your pee hole. I am slightly proud of myself for watching the entire thing from start to finish. If you didn’t see, I live tweeted the whole thing on our Twitter account. That was fun. 

I can’t wait to take Zelda home. I can’t wait for her to meet Torrance and Gozer. I have so many emotions going around my head right now. The only one I can muster to express is gratitude.

Changing my first diaper.
 
Ah shit. Zelda is waking up. I better go make sure she hasn’t dropped off any secret potions. 

I can’t wait to continue writing about our new life. My heart containers are full. 

My Life is About to Change (soon)

By Matt

Well. Here we are. I’m blogging this on a mobile phone as Angela goes through her last non stress test (NST) before we go to the hospital and deliver the baby. Still no word if that will happen today or tomorrow, but it will be coming by Wednesday come hell or high water. I am so nervous and excited. The dog was acting really weird this morning. I think she knows. Angela had some fairly painful contractions last night, but they are short and unevenly spaced apart. No emergency yet.  It’s been a healthy pregnancy for Zelda, so let’s hope she finishes strong. 

 

Standby to standby. It’s all beginning. 

Parati semper ad loca: Always Ready for Sharks

“I got over 100 hours in a T-38, plus demo flights in an F-14, F-15, and F-22. Well, what do think I’ve been doing since L.A.? Semper Paratus, right? The world is ending, Fin. You need to be prepared.”
– Nova Clarke, Sharknado 3

By Matt

Don’t call it a comeback. I said I was going to not post anything more before Zelda was born. But in the words of Bennet in Commando: “I lied.”

Here is the problem: I thought Zelda would be here by now. I thought we would hit the jackpot right around the due date, and have our bundle of joy home with us. No such luck. As it turns out, our trip to the doctor on Friday revealed that Angela was NOT dilated yet and will likely need to be induced Tuesday evening. At least that is finite, although we would love for it to come naturally. So what do we do in the meantime? Wait, wait, wait, and more waiting.

I wanted to clean today to distract myself, so I cleaned. I also took Angela to Tyson’s Corner mall to walk around and grab some lunch. It was a great way to keep Angela distracted and my mind occupied, but it only lasted into the early afternoon. There are only so many times you can look at American Girl dolls, although I am sure I will be much more familiar with them in the coming years (grumble grumble). I think Zelda will enjoy my story of how Kit Kittredge is a metaphor for the white American elite thriving during the Great Depression under Roosevelt’s New Deal initiatives. Yes, I think I will like being a parent. I hope she is as weird as I was. More on that later.

We came home from the mall, relaxed, and did a little more work. Angela took a nap and I did a little more cleaning. I think I am taking all of her nesting instinct, which is crazy if you ever saw what a shit hole my college apartment was. Spaghetti stains were always a great reason to get a rug. Unfortunately, I can’t get away with that anymore. I need my house to be allergy free, wiped, swept, vacuumed, and steam cleaned. This has all been almost impossible given that the recent snow melt has made our back yard look like Swamp Thing’s taint.

LOOK AT THAT CARPET. Vacuumed AND Deep Cleaned. Boner material.
LOOK AT THAT CARPET. Vacuumed AND Deep Cleaned. Boner material.

The cleaning was over. So again we waited. More waiting. Tuesday seems like an age away, and I am getting more and more nervous. It doesn’t help that one of our doctor used the words “past due date” and “stillborn” together. I was not happy about that. Yes, there is a possibility of that happening as you get farther and farther from your due date. But we are talking three or four days at this point, not weeks. In the words of Stephanie Tanner, “how rude!”

After I made dinner (which I ate alone because, at 9.2 months in, Angela still doesn’t have an appetite), I suggested we watch a movie. I wanted something light and fluffy to keep her mind off of everything. We decided on Charlie’s Angels. I was okay with it because I always had a thing for Drew Barrymore and the movie was just dumb enough to keep both of us entertained.

Sharknado3

The movie ended with little fanfare. We had to go deeper. It was only 7pm and I didn’t want to go to sleep yet. We had to go dumber. We decided to go as dumb as possible for the next film. We chose Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!

I can’t say it was the stupidest movie I have ever seen, but it is certainly close. Admittedly, it was fun to see the Sharks topple all of the recognizable monuments now that we live fairly close to Washington, D.C. I would tell you about the premise, but if you are a regular consumer of popular culture within the last two or three years you know about it: water tornados filled with man-eating sharks. I usually shut movies like this off within the first ten minutes, but I somehow stuck with this one. Color me surprised. Of all the crap that happened during the movie, my biggest gripe is that both Michelle Bachman and Anne Coulter are in the movie and do not die immediately. I mean, come on. Even the kid from Malcolm and the Middle, albeit insufferable, had a fairly gruesome death turning into the Black Knight from Monty Python.

Wut (via DigitalSpy)
Wut. (via DigitalSpy)

There was quite a bit of symbolism in the film for being such a stupid movie, especially when it came to pregnancy. Towards the end of the movie, Tara Reid’s character April, both pregnant and sporting an Ash-like axe on her left arm, gives birth to her child INSIDE of a dead shark that fell from space. This comes just seconds after 90210 alum Ian Ziering worms his way out of the mouth of a shark (also fallen from space, surviving a trip through the atmosphere) like a baby straight out of the womb. It was almost poetic. Angela thought I was crying when I saw this. Admittedly, my eyes were watering. But they were watering because I haven’t taken my allergy medication in a few days (I am allergic to my cat, who happens to rub her fur on me constantly) The film was ridiculous, but I almost found the allusion to birth comforting. I don’t think I want Angela to bring Zelda into the world clutching a Louisiana license plate, but it is a fun thought. It was distraction, and I am ending the day with less anxiety than I began with thanks to that stupid ass movie. You have my vote, Fin Shepard. I look forward to Sharknado 4 coming out this year.

Maybe this movie is just a metaphor for my life right now. Am I the tornado and my anxiousness and anxiety the sharks swirling around? Should I be mindful for life’s other complications as they fall from the sky and try to bite my head off? I don’t know. All I know is that I am armed with a double chainsaw of expectations for the next few days.

I think I am reading too much into this. Maybe I need sleep more than anything else.

Good night.

 

“A Melon Strolling on Two Tendrils”: The (Almost) End of Pregnancy

 

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So.

Here I am, on the due date and still no premonition or telltale signs that Zelda’s on her way. I’ve asked a couple of friends if there was any secret to it, like some kind of mother spidey-sense or small bodily signal that could be a sign, but it looks like I’m out of luck and just have to wait.

Quite frankly, I’m getting anxious.

Not anxious in a bad way, mind you. I’m not talking about the anxiety associated with birth and the pain and the fear of things going wrong. I’m not talking about the anxiety associated with trying to balance work and no sleep, the lack of maternity leave, or the dreaded feeling that I’m going to somehow fuck this up royally. That’s still there, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not as overwhelming as it was before.

I’m getting anxious because I want to meet Zelda.

Truthfully, I’m a bit relieved at this feeling. I’ve gone through this pregnancy with what I’ve considered a large amount of ambivalence. I’ve been what Rebecca Walker phrased as

viewing motherhood with more than a little suspicion. Can I survive having a baby? Will I lose myself—my body, my mind, my options—and be left trapped, resentful, and irretrievably overwhelmed?

In a way, Walker has said what I’ve been feeling and even writing all along in this blog: I’ve been concerned about my body, what’s going on in my head, and the societal impact of becoming pregnant this whole time. I’ve been worried about losing my autonomy, my body revolting against me. Me, me, me. I, I, I.

The Plath poem was the first one I can recall reading about motherhood that wasn’t completely rosy or cute. She makes her amusing comparisons (the melon on two tendrils image always made me smile), but her tone changes near the end, sort of trailing into a lamentable state of being “a means” and a “cow.” At the end she realizes that the pregnancy is only the start of the journey, and the journey will continue into motherhood. It may be ominous to quote Plath, but her poem resonates with me. Our lives are about to massively change.

A friend of mine said that becoming a mother more or less means saying goodbye to the person you once were. I’ve already had one perception of myself laid to rest a few years ago, and that was a difficult lesson. I’m not saying that fresher perception of myself is inaccurate like the previous one, but I am feeling the transition into a newer version of myself is happening. I think I realized it as much as a week ago, when I was showering. As I went through the ritual of washing myself with my much-coveted Snow Fairy Lush soap, I paused while I was soaping up my belly and smiled. I felt comforted by the presence of my bump, of Zelda. It was a fleeting moment, but it was there long enough for me to acknowledge it.

And that was the start the change. I found myself talking to Zelda more and more, resting my hand on my bump more frequently, and imagining what her personality will be like.  I informed Matt she would be an Aquarius, and therefore would be a force to be reckoned with: progressive and independent, but temperamental and aloof. Matt thinks astrology is a bunch of mumbo-jumbo, and opts for the more Chinese route as a way to pinpoint her personality. She’ll be born in the Year of the Monkey, the same sign as myself, so that means she’ll probably be a lot like me. While Monkey signs tend to be curious and intelligent, they are also impatient, irritable, and stubborn. God help us.

I spend more time sitting in her room and trying to imagine what it will be like getting up in the morning and seeing a baby in the crib right away. I think about what it will be like to take Zelda to the National Mall or the waitingZoo on a weekend, if she’ll have the same sweet tooth I have, or if she will inherit Matt’s calm demeanor. The big change here is that I’m not thinking about me and how I’m going to survive anymore. I’m not fully
concentrated on the injustices of the social world around me. My head’s not spinning with the thought of me, me, me, I, I, I. Instead of think about Zelda and how pleased I am that we’ve come to the end of this part. I hate not knowing when she’ll be here, but one thing’s for sure: it could happen at any time.

I’m not as afraid as I thought I would be. I’ve gone through this pregnancy dreading the end because I know it ends in a trauma of sorts. But, as everyone who has been through it says, it’ll be more than worth it. I have no doubt in my mind.

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                                        And here she is. Crazy how she’s got Matt’s nose.

I’ve boarded the train, there’s no getting off.

And I’m looking forward to the journey.