Posts Tagged 'hormones'


I am the target audience for mass hysteria. Killer bees in the ’80s was hard for me because I really liked swimming in the pool, but there were bees everywhere. Traveling with the wife to visit her Midwest family in summertime gets me scanning newspaper headlines for the words West Nile or malaria. Now see, none of those things have gotten to me (and here’s the psychological issue) because I worried about them. So by not taking the flu seriously this year and forgetting about flu shots, all three of us have been sick all of January. Yes, it is my fault. And for it, I got pneumonia—one of those arcane diseases of the past that I think barbers used leeches to kill or something. Oh! It’s just like how I spent so much energy during my pregnancy worrying about getting a C-section that I didn’t even consider worrying about episiotomies and forceps—I mean, that’s so boil some hot water and grab some towels, right?

Don’t waste a moment worrying about my twisted narcissistic logic for how the universe works. I’m always in therapy.

With that said… I have been in bed for a few days now, which does not seem possible. How is the world going on without me? Right now, Josie, who is almost done coughing completely and hasn’t borne the brutality of the external nasal suction device in days, is out playing with the sitter while Kristy is at work. I did sneak out and vacuum as soon as I had the house to myself because in my brain the enormous amount of our dog’s shedding is somehow connected to illness. But I also showered, without rushing, which is huge.

Being out of commission has made it painfully clear to me how little Josie needs me now (I mean really needs me). She’ll be brought in to the sick chamber for an occasional nursing but is otherwise out of my sight for hours at a time. When I’m healthy, I am the upended marionette with Josie holding onto my pointer fingers as she walks around the house over and over. I had been moaning a bit about the unkind ways of her puppet mastery and the pain in my back. So, of course, I get fluid in my lung! Do you see? Now I’m in bed instead of walking her around—i.e., I did this to myself. Okay, enough with the self pity and frightening misguided views of cause and effect.

Josie is at this taking off point between baby and toddler that both Kristy and I have noticed very suddenly. She turned 13 months old, and wham! a toddler. She still doesn’t walk on her own, but there’s just something different about her. She’s started signing and/or saying a ton of new words, like book, car, all done, more, shoe, sock, all within a week. This is huge when the one word forever was “Hi” (spoken in three syllables like a flirty Southern Belle). She’s got at least a million teeth now, too. She walks behind her walker wagon and scoots while sitting on her car—things it seemed she would never do a few weeks ago. I’m so happy to see all of this. So happy and also kind of sad, which is understandable (the tiny baby Josie is growing up!) but also stupid because letting someone like me with depressive tendencies get a little sad is like giving a kid carte blanche access to the ice cream container; I’ll gorge and get messy with it. When I’m not with her on these long lonely diseased days, I feel a physical ache, like I need her near me (I mean really need her). Is it because I’m still breastfeeding? Can I hope that this is all just hormones inducing what in any other relationship would be deemed codependency? I freakin’ hope so. Ich!

Now, for what you’ve all been clambering for, another FoGy (Funny or Gross) Moment:
We were making a video of Josie for a friend’s birthday—ya know, to post on his Facebook page kind of thing. We have the hardest time taking photos and video of Josie, so we thought we’d do it in the bathtub where she can only move so far. We made the video and were watching it later to see how it came out. Panning up from the adorable baby to a taped-up sign that reads Happy Birthday the camera catches a UBO (unidentified brown object) sitting in the soap dish on the wall. It unfortunately does not resemble the pumice stone it actually is but instead looks alarmingly like dookie. Now, most people may see this and not assume poop, but if you know Josie like we know Josie (and have told others about Josie), you have to wonder/shudder. See for yourself:


The Birth Story

The birth has been something I’ve tried not to think about because, though the greatest thing in the world resulted from it, the birth story includes some really difficult and scary scenes. People say it’s important to get it all integrated for the psyche’s sake. So I’ll do my best.

On Monday afternoon, Dec. 19, I had some stimulating acupuncture. Since I was already in my 38th week, we went ahead with some labor promoting (I won’t say “inducing”) stuff. At 6:20 a.m. on Dec. 20, I got up to pee (which I’d been doing several times a night for weeks), and what I assumed to be my mucal plug came out. I went back to bed and told K. From then on I began having contractions. Since we knew I would be in early labor for a while, we stayed in bed and I breathed through them. Then K got the Droid with the contraction app and started recording. She noticed that the contractions were presenting more like actual labor contractions than early labor. She called our doula, who said she’d get up, shower and come over. But during that time the contractions got much stronger, so K called a nearby friend and mom of 3 to come over while we waited. By the time the doula arrived, we were ready to head to the hospital. Quite uncomfortably, I began transitioning on the ride over and my water broke as we arrived. I couldn’t walk and it took forever to get a wheelchair.

By the time we were in the delivery room, I was fully dilated and ready to push. This was what I’ve since heard called a freight-train labor. For weeks I had been making iTunes mixes and gathering special comforting items to have at the birth, and K and I practiced the various positions we learned in our birthing class to be prepared for the hours before pushing would begin. None of it was used. Nothing came out of the bag. I pushed and it was the hardest thing I’d ever done. No pain meds, no tub. I pushed for a couple of hours, and the baby’s heart rate was monitored the whole time. Her heart rate dipped, and the nurse midwife called in the OB/GYN on call. He suggested we try a different position, and the heart rate returned to normal. We could see the head, and I’d keep pushing, but then the head would retreat. When the baby’s heart rate dropped again, the doctor came back and said it was time for intervention. I had been so worried about a C-section that I never considered what other interventions might be suggested. But even in my state (screaming like a lioness), I knew that the baby was almost out and a C-section would be going about things kinda backward. I was told that I would be getting an episiotomy and forceps would be used. I was a little dumbfounded because I thought I heard/read somewhere that my hospital didn’t do episiotomies anymore. There wasn’t really time to discuss it. The next thing I knew, I was in the O.R., and with only a few shots of local anesthesia, I was cut (3rd degree), the forceps were inserted, and the baby pulled out. I heard the doctor say the cord was wrapped once around the baby’s neck, and I could see a white baby being taken away. Then I had to deliver my placenta, which I was stunned by as it came out. It was huge and beautiful. K was staying with me while the doctor stitched me up. But then the doula came over and strongly suggested (without panic) that K go over to the baby. The doula stayed with me and told me to say hi to the baby who was on the other side of the O.R. I found out much later that the baby was unresponsive for 5 minutes, and the nurses were sucking major meconium our of her lungs. When K got over to her, the baby was blue. Once she started talking to her though, the baby began breathing and pinked right up. They brought her over to me and she nursed while my stitching was being completed. The most painful part of this was when the doctor pushed the packing inside of me. Had I had pain meds during the labor, I wouldn’t have felt it, but…

The baby was fine. I, on the other hand, continued to bleed. And bleed and bleed. In the recovery room, I turned paler shades of white while the nurses came in and out to change the bloody pads and sheets. One nurse suggested I get up and go to the bathroom, since a full bladder could be pressing on the uterus and causing the bleeding. Well, it was a good idea gone awry. The elderly nurse helped me roll over and stand up without a second to just sit and adjust. After 2 seconds upright, I fainted and apparently stayed unconscious for a while. Poor K was freaking and calling my name over and over. When I came to, I was all, “What?” But I realized I had started to dream in that short amount of time and was glad to be woken. All hell broke loose at this point. The nurses were freaking as if they’d never seen a person pass out before. They put a catheter in, but a full bladder was not the problem. They didn’t know why I was bleeding so much. They ordered 2 bags of blood, and I was told that after I got those transfused, the OB/GYN would be going back inside me to try and find the source of the blood loss. I was also told I would have to have pain meds this time — preferably a spinal. Having made it through to the other side with a healthy baby, I was damned if I was going to have a spinal. But after the options were discussed with the frat boy anesthesiologist, I agreed to the spinal. I was told that the doctor would have to go into the uterus to see if the bleeding was coming from inside there, and that I would not want to feel any of it.

After hours of waiting for the blood and then more hours of waiting for an open O.R., I was wheeled back in. The anesthesiologist overrode the OB/GYN to say K could not come with me. But my nurse midwife was there, and she was very comforting. The doctor added a few stitches to my vaginal wall where a lot of tears had resulted from the forceps; luckily he did not see any abnormal bleeding from the uterus. He did have to pack me with much more gusto this time to try and stop the bleeding, but thanks to the spinal I felt nothing but some pressure. Some hours later (into the next day), I was given another transfusion since I had lost so much blood. The OB/GYN came in and told me I had lost 40% of my blood volume. Yikes! That news put a lot into perspective for me. I realized just how scared K had gotten, and that brought back some memories of how scared I had gotten when she was so ill in ’08.

I was feeling and looking a lot better with the blood in me. Unfortunately, my blood count had not improved by the next morning, and the hospital likes to see good numbers. The new crew (doctor, nurses, midwife) thought I must be bleeding internally somewhere to explain the lack of improvement (again, just according to the numbers); they had no point of reference (except to listen to and believe me) that I was really doing better. They wanted to get the IV port reinserted, give me more blood, and do CT scans. This would involve getting the dye injection, which would mean no more nursing. K and I were at a total loss because we thought we’d be headed home that day. Luckily, the original OB/GYN happened to come by (on his day off — what a mensch!) to check in; we tattled on the new crew and he saved the day by setting them all straight. He said they must have forgotten that with blood loss like that, it would take 2 weeks to see the numbers improve and that we should go home.

I was still taking pain meds every chance I could, but we left the hospital two exhausted moms and a newborn with a paper prescription instead of pills. Once we got home K fell apart and could not for the life of her get to Walgreens to fill my Rx. We called a couple people over to run some errands and help us cope. Then it was my turn to fall apart. All the postpartum hormone stuff hit me at once and I was bawling about how much I loved the baby and couldn’t stand it. That kind of crazy got worse — a lot worse, with dreams you wouldn’t wish on a death row inmate — before it got better.

Jump to now. We’re at 4 weeks postpartum to the day. Josie is eating well, mostly sleeping, and getting bigger. She is unbelievably gorgeous and sweet. I’m still healing from the blood loss and episiotomy. I’ve gained a lot of ground on the blood count front, while the discomfort in my southerly tissues seems like it’s gonna take a while to resolve (much like the stitches to dissolve). We’re being battered by the lack of sleep — about an hour at a time here and there throughout the night, but we are doing much better, getting used to nursing, changing diapers, listening to screaming when there’s nothing we can do. And it’s all wonderful because we have, after all these years of trying, the best little baby in the universe.


The other night K and I got the opportunity to revisit past trauma. She’s been having blood pressure problems the past couple weeks, without any clear cause. Migraines were added to her list of discomforts as well. So when she came home from work in terrible pain — around her kidney — we got in the car and headed back to the place where it all went down.

It’s a no-brainer to go to the same hospital where her nephrologists work, even though it’s not the closest to our house. They knew enough to save her life over that long month when we lived there three years ago. But walking in to the same ER and harboring the same fears was not so easy. I was trying to keep it together (which I rarely do when we watch movies about someone losing a spouse), but seeing her in such pain and waiting to be seen brought back the helplessness I felt when she first got sick, and I lost it — I started sobbing like someone had just told me my spouse had died. That is not the way to be supportive.

I called up our good friends to come give me spine so I could be brave-ish. They sat with us in the ER while K got her everything tested and scanned. Thank godfully, all her tests came back normal. Unfortunately, we still have no idea why her blood pressure has been getting high while on her meds and what the heck that horrible pain was. So we went home, exhausted and shell-shocked and grateful.

What really shocked me was how seriously, I realized, I still need her around. I mean, I’ve got this big growing baby inside me that needs me to stay around, and I still don’t think I could do this life without K. Maybe that’ll change once baby is here here. But the love of a good wife, in my opinion, is a once-in-a-lifetime thing that I’m just so not okay with losing.

Today her blood pressure has been great and she seems to look and feel good. I like that a lot, and still I think any sense of security I could feel (which I really don’t) would be False (capital Ffffff…). So, I just keep going, right? I begin my 7th month today and I guess I pretend it’ll all be fine. I mean, Fine.

Fava Beans & A Nice Chianti

Did you know that besides certain marine animals, we humans are the only mammals that don’t eat our placentas? If you haven’t figured it out, this post has a medium-to-high ick factor. Be warned.

So, of course, I never heard of the concept until moving to Portland. It’s the exact kind of thing I would use to explain part of the unique culture here. That said, I also never thought I’d consider it. But then I heard about its benefits, and, more importantly, that you don’t have to “eat it” eat it.

Nuthin' says love like home-grown placenta!

Our doula can take mine, cook it, freeze-dry it, grind it, and then put it into capsules.

Why do something so barbaric?
Well, homosexuality is barbaric, so I’m cool with it on that level.

Why do something so disgusting?

  • It can help replenish the iron and protein often depleted during childbirth due to blood loss.
  • It can stimulate breast milk production.
  • The oxytocin in the placenta enables the uterus to contract and quickly return to its pre-pregnancy size, as well as slow postpartum bleeding.
  • The pills can be frozen and saved for menopause; it’s a completely natural source for hormone-replacement therapy.
  • My favorite reason (even if it’s proven later not to be true) is that it can help curb postpartum depression. Since I’m a depressive chic already, I figure I can use all the help (natural is nice) I can get.

Here’s something I learned from our doula as well: hospitals sometimes sell women’s placentas to pharmaceutical companies and cosmetic companies — thus making money off our hard-won placentas!  I think the hospital will get enough of our money as it is. Plus, it’s a bit disingenuous to have you sign a form that says they’ll be using the placenta for scientific study, when really a pharmaceutical rep comes with a big bag and loads up on ’em for drug companies or make-up companies. That’s an ick factor I can’t stomach.

Okay. So you think I’ve gone a little too far off the left coast, huh? Lemme hear it! (but don’t think it’ll make me change my mind)

What You Don’t Know

…may not kill you, but it can sure hurt a lot! Here’s a list of things nobody told me I’d possibly experience when pregnant. They are none of them game changers; however, a heads up would’ve been nice:

  • extreme nausea can persist past the first trimester and mild nausea can persist throughout the entire show
  • despite what the internet says, round ligament pain can last much longer than a twinge
  • I need at least 5 pillows of various sizes just to rest on the couch
  • sleep only happens in the minutes between trips to pee
  • I have on more than one occasion found myself eating a protein bar while on the toilet, unconscious, in the middle of the night
  • my belly shrinks and softens overnight so it appears I am less pregnant each morning
  • ribs expand; they seriously move apart and it’s freaky and it hurts
  • belching becomes the new breathing
  • my brain has lost a significant amount of memories and verbal accuracy (i.e., Honey, can you get the thing from the thing and put it on the thing?)
  • nasal congestion and postnasal drip to rival the worst of hay fevers
  • proliferation of brown age spots
  • clumsiness and spilling (on my clothes, which I do not see until many hours later)
  • a baby can choose to hang out on just one side of the abdomen for weeks
  • nightmares abound: last night, for example, she had the umbilical cord wrapped around all her appendages
  • volume sensitivity
  • hormone persistence (I thought once we were done shooting me up with stuff to get pregnant that I would be done with the random crying and night sweats)

Mind you this list only covers the first 6 months.

So Close

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, mostly because I’ve been feeling so deathly. I heard about morning sickness, but I never imagined it to be so overwhelming, so long lasting. I have become an agoraphobe with an eating disorder. Seriously, I do not leave the house for fear of feeling sick in public and I cannot deal with food. If I know I have to eat something, I start to panic. People say this will end in a couple weeks, but since I don’t understand the hormones and the process, I don’t get why it would. I’m at 11 weeks 4 days, and I don’t feel well at all. I banked my entire summer fun on this being over by the end of the first trimester. Now I fear that when my family comes to visit next month, I’ll spend the whole visit moaning and crying and begging for relief.

I’ve been getting an earful of the saying/proverb/old wive’s tale that as rough as the sickness is, so is the good health of the baby. I want to care that this could be true. I want to be happy about how far we’ve come. But I’m a miserable sack of pathetic.

We had our appointment for genetics testing (i.e., Down Syndrome check) made for next week. But neither of us felt good about going through with it, so we canceled. K did some research, and apparently these 12-week tests often give false positives that would just stress us out for the rest of the pregnancy. We know we will not abort this baby, so why go through that? We’ve heard from friends and family who have been glad they did the tests because of the relief they got. But what if they’d gotten false positives? These tests only give you percentages of the chance anyway. Where’s the relief in that? Maybe we’re letting our fear of fear make this decision. Maybe we’re being naive. But am I missing something? Is getting an inaccurate likelihood going to change anything? And what if I was still 34? Would we be magically spared from this decision?

On a lighter note… we’ve started referring to the fetus as Baby Mochi because when I can eat, all I seem to get in is rice or rice-based. It’s also about the right size. Would it be the worst thing in the world if the baby was a delicious rice dumpling with ice cream in the middle?

Pregnancy Is Real

I’m 9 weeks pregnant. My fetus is 2 centimeters long. Other than these facts, I have no proof that what I am going through is for anything real.

Real is nausea so bad that a vomit phobic wishes she could vomit. Real is when one burp begets another burp with a 2-second intermission of fiery acid. Real are hot flashes that could set a bedroom ablaze.

I began this week with an unexpected visit to the doctor. I had a day of much fluid loss (we’ll leave it at that), and there was concern of dehydration.  I was so ill, and she was squeezing me into a full schedule. After almost an hour of waiting (with  my pants down), I told myself that if she wasn’t in in the next 5 minutes (and if I was still alive) that we would go home unseen. I was that miserable. So I counted 300 seconds. Literally. Then I put on my pants and told K we needed to go. We were, of course, intercepted by reception who called the doctor over. She insisted she get a look in me, saying (with her very pregnant belly between us) that she knows exactly how I feel and that it sucks. I tearily (new word) told her I just wanted to go home, like I was a POW or something. But I was coaxed back in, and she did the fastest ultrasound in the world to confirm the fetus was fine. Nice fast heartbeat and good size. As for my condition, well, she prescribed an anti-nausea med that is supposedly safe for pregnancy and gave us a recipe for a rehydration beverage that K made for me later but that I knew there was no way in hell, not for me and not for this baby, that I was going to consume. Three days later, I can say that I’m feeling slightly better, but not enough.  I still hate all food — can’t think about putting any of it but rice in me. I can’t get regular. I have an unsustainable amount of nausea and heartburn. And I swear, I have tried everything that’s out there.

Now, do not let it be said that I am complaining. I know I worked to get pregnant for a long time. I know I bitched and moaned about it not ever happening. I know I am lucky and got what I wanted. I am very happy. The happiness is just hard to access from this place of physical distress and misery. But NOT complaining.

Tomorrow, we get to celebrate (which I’m sure involves eating, so I’m freaking out already) the great news with E2! He’s back from Europe and in town for a moment before heading off on his U.S. tour. I had no idea this was going to happen, so K and I are super happy to get to see him and smile big and goofy. I wonder if being around him might settle the stomach. If so, he’s moving in.

(Disclaimer: No men were harmed in the making of this blog.)

The Family

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