It’s 2018. I feel we could use technological improvements in these areas. Feel free to use these ideas!
Hair coloring – it stinks and burns my eyes. I know, major first world problem, but I’m still going to complain about it. Us ladies need better than this.
Birth control pills minus all the risks like blood clots, cancer, etc. Again, ladies, we need to demand better for our bodies and lives.
A garbage bag holder/opener so when u collect garbage the bag doesn’t fold over and stuff gets everywhere. There HAS to be an invention around the corner for this.
A baby diaper pail product that actually controls odors. Nothing has worked. Ever. We tried them all and air fresheners only go so far. Best solution: use grocery plastic bags in a regular garbage can and dump twice/day.
A fold up bike. I feel like I may have seen this on shark tank but I have yet to see it in stores. Unless you have a massive SUV or long trunk or put on a bike rack, you cannot travel anywhere with your bike. I have to drive to most bike trails to get my workout so it doesn’t end up happening.
A glaucoma eye test that doesn’t involve the air to the eyeball that makes me cringe and squirm and takes 15 minutes on wimps like me.
13 Reasons Why is all anyone can talk about recently so I decided to tune in. I admit I got sucked in rather quickly and wanted to see how everything unraveled. In a nutshell, there is a high school student who has a run of bad luck, then is bullied and taunted, and eventually horribly raped. She ends up committing suicide and leaves 13 tapes behind to all those who contributed to her outcome.
I am incredibly torn on how I feel about this show. Having dealt with depression for most of my life, I find it a bit refreshing that the topic is being addressed. As a huge advocate of removing the mental health stigma, I think this is so important. However, the main audience who is watching this are pre-teens and teenagers. I personally feel this is entirely too much for anyone under 16, and should be watched and discussed with parents if they do watch it. I agree that mental health, bullying, depression, rape, drinking, and suicide all need much more awareness brought to them. So for that, I think the show is a good thing. On the flip side, I think this show can be dangerous for those who are battling severe depression, and possibly even glorifying suicide. Allow me to explain.
The main character who kills herself ends up getting community-wide attention. Through these tapes, a wide circle of students are constantly talking about her and reliving things that happened, reflecting in their part in it all and figuring out how to cover their asses. Parents in the community are offering sympathy, and the entire school is shaken up by it all. The message portrayed is suicide=attention. If someone is bordering on suicide, this just may push them over the edge.
Hannah, the main character, also takes things WAY too seriously. Being put on a list for having a great ass is not the end of the world. Granted, the only social media we had growing up was MySpace, so it was a different time. But the photo of the girls kissing was not a big deal to me. Or people spreading rumors. I’m not saying it’s always easy, but we dealt with things like that ALL the time in high school. Sometimes you had a bad week or two and then everyone moved on. You either laughed it off, cried or hid as much as possible, and I’m pretty darn sensitive so that is saying a lot. Here is some of what I went through:
I was bullied by a gal named Lisa in one semester. She was a total bitch to me for absolutely zero reason. She went out of her way to humiliate me on a daily basis in our class together. I seriously had no interactions with her EVER. She just decided she was going to target me. I hated her. I wanted to kick the shit out of her. I really did. I threw out one of her class projects when no one was in the room. I messed up another. I had a friend who had a car and we gave her house a “lawn job”. It was my small way of exacting revenge. I’m not saying it was easy. I cried, often. I shrunk down at the beginning of each class and prayed today wouldn’t be too bad. I ignored her. I had a great time with those at my table. But inside I was cringing and counting the seconds until I could get out of a class that I actually loved.
I also was bullied, badly, by this shithead named Danny if I remember correctly, on the bus, who was like 2 years younger than me and a total waste of air. Despite me being older, despite me having plenty of friends, despite me ignoring him or swearing at him, he still made fun of me every day, out loud, for the whole bus to hear. So I ended up walking to school. It was like a 2 mile trek everyday, but I did it just to avoid him. I’m pretty sure he’s in prison now.
There were 2 Amy’s that taunted me. One was on the swim team, one was in my gym class. The latter was a fat ass (at least compared to me at the time), loud mouth who wanted to be an actress or something. She was the definition of obnoxious. So when she went to town on me, the entire room heard. They both teased me when I would change in the locker room because I’m Hispanic and therefore hairy. I had hairy arms and hair on my back. I always shaved everywhere else. I tried bleaching my arm hair, using Nair, wax, nothing really worked. I eventually shaved my arms. Actually, I was teased for this since 5th grade and to this day, am still self conscious about it. We’d be on the pool deck during a meet, and the other Amy would start on me. She was nothing to write home about so I figured it was her own insecurities but it still sucked.
My point to all this is that so many of us dealt with shit growing up. It’s par for the course. It’s a rite of passage. Were there kids who had it a lot worse? Absolutely. Was I an asshole to some kids? Sure, I definitely wasn’t perfect in high school. I tried to be nice to everyone who was nice to me, and I had friends in all circles because I didn’t care about that crap. Everyone wants to fit in on some level and high school can be brutal and drama filled. However, if I let every one of those instances haunt me to the point of being suicidal, then they win and I was NOT about to let them win, nor was I ready to give up on life. The show portrays Hannah as having 2 loving, caring and supportive parents. Yet it made no difference to Hannah when I think in a lot of cases it would.
I do remember vividly how certain athletes, especially male, could do no wrong. They got away with all sorts of things. The show has a whole lot of people covering up for a rapist, who is a top athlete. It’s extremely disturbing to me and although I wish this was far from the truth, we’ve seen plenty of examples of rapists getting away with it in real life. Brock Turner, David Becker, Nicholas Fifield, and John Enochs anyone?
The show portrays 2 graphic rape scenes. I personally did not see these as necessary. You can get the point across without showing it. But the show has a lot of shock value, and I think the intention was to show just how traumatic it is for women who have been victims. Possibly to make someone think twice. Possibly to encourage someone to come forward.
The show also graphically shows Hannah slicing her wrists open in a bath tub, bleeding out and her parents finding her. This literally traumatized me on some levels and I’m 36. I’ve known at least 6 people who have tried to commit suicide. To see it in action was horrific. Was it a scare tactic to show how awful suicide is? Was it to show how much pain she was in? Why show her slitting her wrists? This could be so triggering.
The show never addresses any mental conditions per se. I think it is implied that Hannah was severely depressed. I wish it would have explored this a bit more on a deeper level. I did appreciate how the show showed her visiting her guidance counselor in an effort to seek help. That sadly did not go anywhere. But I wish they would have showed her maybe talking to her parents about it or talking to Clay, trying therapy, trying medication, calling a suicide line, something else to emphasize she saw it as absolutely her last resort.
My hope in those young, vulnerable minds watching the show is that they see suicide as a very last resort, if not an option at all. If they are engaging in self destructive behaviors such as self mutilation, heavy drinking, etc. maybe this will be an opening to seek help. Maybe guidance counselors and teachers and students know what signs to look for now. It isn’t always so black and white and obvious. Maybe kids will think twice about what they say and do to others. The potential impact it could have. Overall, I’m glad discussions are taking place around these serious and all too common issues. I just hope the second season brings about more understanding and education.
I don’t know if that was 13 reasons or not, but who’s counting?
I’m opening my blog up to guest posters. If you’ve always wanted to take a stab at writing or just have something important to say, or funny to share, here is your opportunity. You can be anonymous or not. My only stipulation is I have final editing rights. Feel free to send me a message if you’re interested.
The NICU. My second home for 46 days. It has taken me a while to write about this topic. I will try not to be redundant of previous posts. I want to start with the positive.
We were, by far, incredibly blessed that Nathan weighed as much as he did (go mama for eating for 3 when there was only 2), that he didn’t have any serious problems and that he grew and got better each day.
Some of my absolute favorite comments from the nurses that made me chuckle, helped comfort me, and helped me get through the day:
“Nathan, there are ladies present,” when Nathan let out a loud fart.
“It’s okay to touch him. He’s yours” when I was so afraid of doing anything, even touching him early on.
“We’re gonna call you ‘chubs'” when he hit 4 lbs.
“He’s getting a reputation,” on his explosive poops that most of the nurses had to clean up.
“Everyone wants him. We’re fighting over him.”
“He has so much hair!!!”
“He’s been pretty crabby today,” when he was wearing his little crab outfit.
“I will take care of him like he was my own,” when I was hesitant to leave him early on.
“He will be okay. I will check on him again right now,” when stopping at the exit door, hesitating to leave and crying.
“God bless ya. You are a fantastic mother. I would have given up a long time ago,” on my struggle with producing enough breast milk.
“What is wrong? Are you sleeping? Are you eating?” when I didn’t look so hot and a nurse was checking in on me, making sure I was taking care of myself, in that scolding but well-meaning European manner.
“I am happy, I am good,” in a sing-song voice from Nathan’s point of view upon my arrival
“He yanked out his feeding tube. I guess he wants out,” on walking in one morning to see his feeding tube on the counter (and not in him).
I know there are so many I’m forgetting, but these stood out. I’m sure it’s not easy trying to do your job while also keeping parents at ease and these ladies definitely try their best.
I think the roughest part is the first couple weeks. You’re still reeling from the shock of everything that just happened labor-wise and coming to terms with not bringing your baby home. You’re still recovering from delivery. You know everyone means well, but you don’t have the energy to constantly send updates. The last thing you want right now is visitors. You’re exhausted, your breasts are hurting and raw, you’re obsessed with germs, you’re so depressed and anxious from what life has just thrown you. The NICU is DRAINING. Mentally, emotionally, physically draining. You have no choice but to trust the people caring for your son. You feel helpless. While still in the hospital yourself, you have to get “delivered” to the NICU every time you want to visit. This involves paging a nurse and then waiting to be wheeled down and around. It’s a long walk for someone who just had a baby. The second thought constantly on my mind was about money. How the hell are we going to pay for this? What will insurance cover? Will we have bills for the next 5 years?
You want all the information. Asking what all these machines and tubes do. You want to know what each alarm, chime and beep means. You’re coming up with a schedule of sorts to coordinate visits with your baby so he is left alone the minimum amount of time. You have to adjust to them doing a ton of tests on a regular basis to check everything. You look at the very long checklist of things your baby needs to achieve before you can take him home and wonder if that day will ever come. You have to LEAVE your baby. Every single day.
I had more than one meltdown having to leave. Those first few days my husband and I just hugged and cried and reassured each other that he was in good hands and that we’d be back in the morning. It also helped so much that we could call to check-in 24/7. Sometimes you just needed that nightly report before you went to sleep.
I will say it is difficult when you get a new nurse. You get used to the first set that are the primary nurses and they all have a system in place. You know the routine. You know how they are with your son and it comforts you. It makes it so much easier to be away. When a new nurse comes in you begin questioning if they are attentive, if they care, if they will get his care right. There was one time when I was not comfortable leaving because I felt my son wasn’t being attended to. I cried at the exit, and then hysterically sobbed in the car for 15 minutes deciding if I should go back in. I think that was my first big release of pent-up worry.
Day in and day out, I would race to the hospital filled with anxiety, like I couldn’t get there fast enough. You enter Fort Knox by identifying yourself to the camera and waiting for the doors to be unlocked. Never a worry about security there which was awesome. The lovely gal at the front desk would always greet me with a warm smile. I walked down the same hall, smelled the same smells, heard the same chimes and beeps. Said hello to all the familiar faces. Knew 80% of the nursing staff’s names.
Once I got the morning report telling me everything was still okay and saw my little angel, I immediately calmed. Your days are filled with staring at your baby from the couch or chair, pacing, touching your baby and holding his head, lots and lots of pumping of breast milk, labeling breast milk, cleaning pump supplies, endless breastfeeding crap. Making lists of things that need to be done, watching and learning from your nurses, coloring, 200 bathroom breaks, texting updates to family and friends. You also scarf down some food somewhere in there too. You quickly realize you will need all kinds of lotion to combat your cracking, red, dry hands from so much washing and anti-bac. You become willing to pay anyone your life savings if they can just stop your nipples from hurting. You know you’ll need to bring in a box of Kleenex because it’s either tissue paper kleenex with 5 sheets in a box or sandpaper paper towels to choose from. You want to pop-in to other rooms and say hi just to have someone to chat with but you’re not sure if it’s allowed or welcomed. You feel so bad for other babies that have it so much worse. You try napping on the couch or in the chair but your nerves are too fried to sleep, plus it’s cold and there are so many interruptions. You sleep with your phone on high volume and your heart stops every time it rings.
Once I got encouragement from the nurses to touch and handle my baby more, all I could hope was that he was comforted by my touch. I talked to him all the time. He’d often struggle with eating via tube, spitting up or squirming with gas. I’d always say “mama’s here, it’s okay” and I swear he’d calm down even long after we brought him home when I said this. I did worry quite a bit about if he would have any attachment to me with me not being there all the time, and all these other people caring for him.
I must point out the large majority of staff were phenomenal. The amount of time spent and detail given when nurses switched shifts is mind boggling. It shows you just how on top of it all they are. These little lives are literally in their hands and it takes a special person to hold that job. All the doctors gather each morning at each room to review the progress and any problems and the plan for the day for every patient. Someone was always there if you needed anything at all.
There was nothing like getting to hold him for the first time which we had to wait I think 5 and 6 days after he was born. You look at all the tubes taped to him and you’re thinking “how on earth am I supposed to hold him?” They just bundle them all up! I was instructed to wear a tank top and as I pulled it out at the chest area they placed him right in there and covered him with warm blankets and a knitted hat. We were obsessed with that cute little handmade hat. He was snug as a bug. It’s crazy how his whole tiny little body fit perfectly in there. He would always be so calm when we held him. Like he was so at ease. You study his every feature. His ears that keep folding and staying folded over. The little hairs on his face, his perfect and peeling lips. How his nipples are SO tiny. How his fingers are perfect. It was always the highlight of our day. We would want to hold him for hours but at some point, nature calls, your arms are numb, you are dizzy from not eating, you have to pump, and so on.
We, and anyone visiting would always be so amazed by how much this little boy moved and stretched. He was constantly shifting. They’d put him in the middle of his incubator and he’d end up in a corner. Every time they checked on him or adjusted something he’d stretch on and off for a good 5 minutes. He held his head up on day 2 while lying on his stomach. Day 2! And his faces. This boy was dubbed “the man with 100 faces”. Every few minutes he’d be making a new face. It was SO entertaining.
Wide eyed and saying hello
One of his many faces
When you have a baby in the NICU every single thing is a milestone. An accomplishment. One more thing getting us closer to home. Every time he opens his eyes you gaze into them and whisper how strong and handsome he is, into his incubator. Removal of the throat tube thingy. Then removal of the nostril oxygen. Every tube that gets taken out deserves a cheer. His IV line taken out was huge. Going off caffeine. Increases in feedings. Licking breast milk off a Q-tip. Taking formula for the first time. Poop! Poop is a big deal. Poop is a celebration. Holding our finger. Hiccups. A gassy smile. Self-regulating his temperature in the incubator. Being able to wear clothes. Latching on successfully. Every time a sticker on his progress train moved from red to yellow. And our first green sticker! Most important of all: weight gain! Every ounce up is significant and every pound hit is huge. There were so many celebrations. Even still, I’m so proud of him for every new thing he does. I’m just in awe of him.
I felt I had become an honorary nurse after the first few weeks. The things I learned about the development of the brain, nervous system, heart, skin, bones, lungs; things the baby books don’t go into detail about. I knew acronyms and fancy terms. I knew how to do everything the nurses did from watching them so many times. I knew how to work his feeding machine. I knew what the numbers on the monitor meant and what alarms were urgent and which were not. I could take his temp, change his diaper, rearrange his cords/tubes, take him out of his crib on my own, and fix his incubator “pillows” and sheets. It was a pretty neat feeling as a new mom to have so much knowledge about your baby. Not that I wasn’t still scared shitless when he came home.
Celebrating his 1 month birthday in the hospital was hard. But we brought the stickers and made it work, doing our hospital photo shoot.
Shortly after he removed his feeding tube we started trying bottles. Then he was graduated to an open incubator, then an open “crib”, each huge progress. The morning of our delayed baby shower we went to visit Nathan beforehand. We had walked in to see him in the open incubator and we were overjoyed at the unexpected surprise. As he gained more and more ounces, the nurses were starting to prepare us for bringing him home. There’s a certain criteria babies have to hit in order to go home. It involves 5 days without spells. Spells involve their own criteria with alarms going off for very specific things for a certain duration of time. You have to wait until day 5, or the very last-minute, to find out if you are officially bringing your baby home that day. Even with several baby books, years of working in a daycare and babysitting, I still had a zillion questions. I guess I didn’t trust that he was a normal baby like any other. There were some things that were going to be different of course, but overall, same rules applied. I kidnapped a couple of nurses asking pages of questions. They reassured me that I knew what I was doing. And they were so gracious with answering all my questions. They did have other patients after all.
That last week was very stressful. I felt like everything was crammed into 5 short days. All kinds of preparations. A heart ultrasound, blood tests, car seat check, other final tests. It was a LOT. When we came in on that 5th day hoping he would be going home, we found his train had all green stickers and a note saying he was ready to go!
We had his official hospital photo shoot which was a lot of fun. We packed up so much stuff! We watched a baby CPR video. We asked our final questions. We held Nathan. We cried. We thanked the nurses personally, 2 of which will always hold a special place in our hearts, although they were all great. How do you properly thank people who kept your son alive, safe and healthy? Words cannot do it justice.
I suddenly forgot how a car seat worked, I was so nervous. I don’t know what the hell I did, but the one nurse was laughing at me. I was like, oh boy, I can’t even get this right. But in my defense, neither could my husband. We made this cute sign and Nathan provided the perfect pose. He’s like “Hear ye, hear ye…”
As we were being wheeled out I could not believe we were taking him home. Finally. It was bittersweet. We had gotten to know the staff and they were our second family for the past month and half. I was going to miss them like crazy. I was actually going to miss those rooms, the halls, having experts care for my son, those beeps and chimes. I so wanted to kidnap a nurse, for real this time. It was a bit terrifying that it was actually happening. It was over.
We made it through day 1 at home with only one panicked phone call to the NICU asking what to do. There were days I couldn’t believe this was happening to us, days when it didn’t feel real at all, days that were bleak and grim and days that held hope. But we made it. Nathan is a happy and healthy 8-month-old and we are all stronger for the experience.
One of the very best things I heard when we were going through the tough newborn stage, getting no sleep, irritable, anxious, etc. was about give and take. During the early stages, all babies do is take, take, take so you may find yourself not just exhausted but drained. Once your baby begins to look into your eyes, smile at you, coo at you, they start to give back in such a meaningful way that makes it so much easier to handle the tough stuff. The advice really was to hang in there. They’re going to give so much back to you very soon and it will make it all worthwhile.
Before I get into our NICU experience, which I promise is coming, I wanted to explain a few things to people about what we have been through and why we have made the decisions we have. I apologize for this rant being so angry, but honestly I am beyond angry, hurt and confused.
We spent 4 years on and off trying for a baby. We were literally just coming to terms with the fact that it may not happen, may not be in the cards for us, when voila, we found out we were pregnant. Like I was already planning our honeymoon (it has been 5 years) in my head, how life would look without kids, how different things would be. So it really came as a shock to both my husband and I when we got the news. The head shift went from making all kinds of plans without children to “yikes, we are going to be parents now”!
The pregnancy wasn’t bad at all. I expected and had heard much much worse. Dare I say, I even enjoyed it? Sorry ladies who have had it bad. I really do feel for you. Things were going as expected…a little pressure on my nether regions kinda early, but everything checked out ok. Then one morning, 11 weeks early, at 29 weeks, January 25th, my water broke and our little man emerged into this world really damn early!
Did I mention I am a control freak? That I had about 100 things I still had planned to get done before his due date, April 8th? That our house was an absolute mess? That none of the baby things were ready to go yet?
So Nathan was sent to the NICU where he stayed for a month and a half. As amazing as everyone was at the hospital, it was a pretty hellish experience for me personally. I was pumping every 3 hours around the clock with lots of pressure from the doctors to get that breast milk flowing for my baby who desperately needed it. Nurses checking in with me every shift to see how my milk was coming in. My breasts were raw and hurt like hell. I was recovering from having a baby, absolutely exhausted, and dealing with the beginnings of post partum depression. Well, just like with Nathan coming early, my body still was not cooperating. I only pumped 15-20 ML at most per pump session. It took 8 pumping sessions to equal just ONE feeding. I told myself I had to do it. I had to do anything to help my fragile little guy. Luckily, the hospital had donor breast milk to give Nathan at some point since I clearly wasn’t producing enough. I was never so frustrated with my body.
From day 1, the doctors told us no children under 12 were allowed to visit and no one sick was allowed to visit. Hospital policy. They will even kick parents out if they are sick enough. I wore a mask for 2.5 weeks because I felt like I was getting sick. It ended up being stress related. Turns out my body was shutting down on me. So our plans of bringing the baby home, showing him off to all our family and friends over the coming weeks and enjoying our time as new parents came to a screeching halt. Now we had to be vigilant, so careful of everything. Being told to wash our hands constantly and the nurses washing theirs like crazy too. We trusted the doctors and their instructions because, why wouldn’t we? We don’t know better than doctors. Certainly not neonatologists. We also wanted to be there when anyone would visit. I don’t expect anyone to understand this but we had to take every precaution possible. Little things, like washing your hands after you touch your phone, or touch your face, turning off your camera flash, being careful of the wires, being cognizant of overstimulation, things people would forget or not think of because they don’t know about things like overstimulation of a preemie. The list goes on and on. Unfortunately we could not be there 24/7. We wish we could have, but we had other responsibilities and, as I said, a ton of things had to get done for when the baby was actually released from the hospital. So I typically spent 3-6 hours a day there, and my husband would come after 11 pm, sometimes midnight to stay with our little boy as long as he could.
As a result of the hospital rules and doctor’s instructions, we had to make a lot of tough decisions on who could and could not visit. That meant a lot of the children in our lives could not visit and it broke our hearts. We even had to limit what friends and family could visit. Believe me, only close family was allowed. Due to all this, there was a lot of resentment, hurt feelings and anger directed our way. That only made things for us 1000 times worse. We were already worried sick about our son constantly because you feel so out of control. You can only sit on the sidelines and watch and wait. The ONLY thing we had control over was who would visit and when and keeping him safe and healthy during the process. Overkill? I’m sure. But until you are in our shoes, and you watch this little baby who you tried so hard for, struggling with every feeding, breathing heavily and so on, you should try to understand how hard these decisions were for us, and that right or wrong, we felt we needed to make them at that time.
Making things worse was the fact that everyone assumed, rightfully so, that once we brought Nathan home, anyone and everyone could visit. Again, I point blank asked the doctors and multiple nurses, more than once: “When can we have children over? When can we do family gatherings? Can we use a mask or anything so they can just meet him? Is there anything we can do?” Over and over again, they told us no exposure to children until summer. Yes, summer! I was like, seriously? It’s only March. I know RSV was one of the most dangerous things to catch, and I guess was prevalent at the time. They also said we had to basically stay indoors. No grocery store, Target runs, no malls, no parks, no parties, nada. Only a couple people over to our house at a time and only if they are not showing any signs of illness. I could take him on walks in the stroller which was my saving grace. I was told not to worry so much (basically saying to ignore the doctors) and I bit my tongue but wanted to say “Oh, can you find that switch on me? Can you turn it off for me? Great, thanks.” It was a big blow to us, and a huge disappointment. I cried many tears over the situation and the fact that all I wanted to do was show off our little bundle to the world and I still was not allowed to. But again, who the hell are we to not follow doctors orders? So once again, many people got upset with us. And once again, our feelings were even more hurt and for us it was like “we KNOW this sucks, we KNOW this is hurting you. We are not enjoying this believe it or not. In fact, we hate it.”
Once he came home, it was a rough adjustment. I mean really rough for both of us. Still pumping like crazy and getting no sleep (at least I got a little sleep before), still worried about Nathan’s feedings and breathing and of course germs, with a ton of doctor appointment follow-ups in the first 2 weeks, it was a recipe for disaster. After about a week or so being home, and I just broke. A switch literally flipped and my depression spiraled. I was crying non-stop, for hours. I could not breathe I was crying so hard. I blamed myself for everything that happened. I hated what was happening. I hated that people were so angry with us-like we were purposely punishing them. There were so many unknowns racing through my head. “What if this never gets better? I’m not equipped to handle this. I’m not cut out to be a mother. I knew I couldn’t handle a baby. How are we going to pay for all this? What if he has problems down the road? What if we are seeing doctors on a regular basis for the next year? His whole life? Will he ever be able to play like other kids? Will we ever get out of the damn house again?” I mean, it was all repeating over and over in my head.
I think I broke down when I did because I was holding it together (at least on the outside) while he was still in the hospital. After coming home I could let that wall down, be vulnerable, feel everything over the past month and a half, come to terms with our new normal. Also when he was in the hospital, the first thing listed on his chart was that I had a history of depression. The very FIRST thing. Above his medical issues, his medications, his history, everything. So every nurse, doctor, consultant saw that first and foremost. I was honestly worried that if I showed too many signs of depression they would hospitalize me, or even worse, the state may get involved and I may be an unfit mother. I mean, I didn’t know what could happen. So I held it together.
I got involved with an intensive therapy program because my regular therapist, although wonderful, was not enough at the time. It ended up being a great decision for so many reasons. I realized there were so many other women, “normal” women, who were going through the same thing. Some much worse, some less so. But they were all kind, honest, amazing women just going through mental hell. But at least we were going through it together. Bravo to anyone who can just “get over it” but for many, this does not work. It’s not how depression works. True depression. True anxiety. It sometimes takes a village of help.
I’m much better than I was and came away with hopefully new gal pals. Unfortunately it is still too soon for playdates. Ugh. Again. Ugh. I will always have to work at my depression and anxiety, and staying positive as a new mom, and reminding myself I’m doing the best I can. But I’m getting there.
I know in time, things will calm down and get better. I swear I don’t know where the days go. It’s making bottles, washing bottles, feeding bottles, diapers, laundry, food, little sleep. Repeat. Repeat. My husband and I are lucky if we get any time to chat, or god forbid cuddle for a few minutes. I would like to thank all those around us who were understanding of our situation, supportive, offered to help and have been so patient with meeting our little man. You have no idea just how much it meant to us. He is lucky to have you in his life, as are we.
This is the story of my little man coming into this world, 11 weeks early. As always, I’m not holding back. You have been warned.
My due date was April 8th. I woke up around 12:40 am on Monday, January 25th to feeling wetness between my legs. By sheer coincidence, I had just spoken to a co-worker on Friday about what it felt like when your water breaks. I was 95% sure my water just broke. I grabbed a towel and woke up my husband, Luis. I said, “honey, I think my water just broke”. He was shocked. I think his reply, was “WHAT?!” I explained what was happening. I started to panic for so many reasons. What do I do first? Call the doctor, finish packing my hospital bag, call my parents, get directions to the hospital, call the hospital? I kept saying over and over, “This isn’t happening. It’s too early.” I called the emergency number at my doctor’s office which paged the doctor on call. No answer. I got a voicemail saying if I don’t hear back from the doctor in 15 mins to call again. Then if I still don’t hear back to go to the nearest hospital. This is not what I expected when I called the emergency line at the practice. I could not believe that no one was answering. What is the point of the emergency line if I can’t get a hold of someone? Luckily 10 minutes later the doctor (whose name I could not decipher) called, sounding very sleepy, and told me to go to the hospital where they would evaluate if my water broke and go from there.
I knew there was a good chance I would be having this baby in the next 24-48 hours since I did know once your water breaks you are prone to infections so they usually deliver you, or put you on hospital bedrest. I also knew there was a chance that they could delay or stop the labor, if in fact I was going into labor.
My husband and I scrambled to get all of our necessities that had not yet been packed. I told Luis to look up directions and feed Gorilla, our parrot, while I finished packing. So off we went to the hospital. I called the hospital in the car to ask where I was supposed to go because I had no idea. (We were supposed to have our shower that next weekend and our first childbirth class in 2 weeks!) The class was supposed to get us ready for everything of course, including labor. I began getting contractions on the way to the hospital. It did feel like menstrual cramps after all, at least initially. Reading up on this, there was much debate as to what contractions actually felt like.
We went to the ER at Northwest Community Healthcare Hospital. I told them I thought my water broke and they had me wait a few minutes until someone came and wheeled me in. I started getting very nervous at this point. Luis called the insurance company for pre-certification in case I was admitted.
They had me change into a hospital gown and I met my nurse, Dee. There was also a lady named Tessa who helped get things that the nurse and doctor needed. They took all my vitals, and a random OB that was at the hospital at the time came and checked me. I was already dilated 2 cm. She said my water did break and they were going to try to stop the labor if they could. I never heard anything else about stopping the labor. The next thing I knew they said I was going to have the baby today. We called my parents just in the knick of time because they arrived just before I was starting to deliver. And here we thought we had a ton of time.
They gave me a shot in the butt, either steroids or magnesium that hurt like hell as the fluids went in. The magnesium left me having the worst hot flashes of my life. I felt like my entire body was on fire which they did warn me about but it was BAD. Of course, the neonatal doctor took that opportunity to come talk to me and Luis about what we can expect, with the baby being so early. He also prepared us for worst case scenario, literally saying there is a chance our baby will not make it, but said a whole team would be taking him right after delivery and checking him/helping him.
I should mention that I was shocked I could do a vaginal birth. I thought with him being so early they had to do a c-section. I remember telling Dee that I hadn’t had the childbirth classes yet so she needed to walk me through everything and help me with breathing and such. She could not have been kinder or more reassuring. Luis saw at some point as she was doing her thing that she had a tattoo on her arm, and asked her if it was a Harry Potter tattoo. She smiled and said yes and I was thrilled. I told her “it was meant to be” and explained what a huge fan I was. She brought over another nurse who had a golden snitch pinned to her name tag. I believe in all kinds of signs that the universe shows us and I was genuinely so happy that these were the people taking care of me. This little sign put my mind at ease and I knew I was in good hands.
At some point I told the female OB that I wanted an epidural. She asked if I wanted it right then, and I said, “whenever you think is best, but I don’t want to wait too long and miss the opportunity”. She said that now was good, which surprised me because I thought it would be hours before I needed one. I assumed I’d be in labor for hours. Just as they called the anesthesiologist I got the worst contraction. It hurt like hell and I was like “I think now is perfect. I just got a bad one.” So he entered, had me sit on the side of the bed and lean over a pillow. Dee stood in front of me and they got a chair for my husband saying “some husbands pass out”. He looked at me and cringed. The doctor cleaned the area, explaining what he was doing as he was doing it. Dee told me “try not to jump” and held onto me. I braced myself for what I thought would be the worst pain of my life, or so I had heard. It was a large pinch as the needle went in, and in 3 seconds the pain was over. I still jumped a bit but I remember thinking ‘that was it?!’ I think I even said that to the nurse. It wasn’t bad at all. Once the epidural kicked in, I didn’t feel a thing which was pure bliss. They kept asking me if I felt the contractions and were surprised when I said “I do not feel a thing.” I guess there were some pretty strong ones coming at that point.
The OB from my OB office finally arrived and checked me. I went from 4 cm to 6 cm in 30 minutes. For some reason they decided to give me Pitocin to speed up labor even though it was moving along pretty quickly. I’m still confused about that one. I had never heard of the doctor that showed up and at some point asked if he was part of the group just to make sure they contacted the correct practice. They assured me he was, just part of another group of doctors. This bummed me out immensely because here was a virtual stranger delivering my baby when I had met all 5 of the doctors I thought I would be getting. And he had zero bedside manner. He honestly seemed frustrated and completely impatient the entire time. I don’t know what his deal was but I didn’t like him. None of us liked him. Thank the heavens for my nurse.
At some point the nurse checked my dilation again and I was at 10 cm. She said “Ok, this is it.” and instructed someone to tell the doctor I was ready. A whole swarm of people came rushing in: nurses for me, the doctor, trays of equipment, the neonatal team of 4 or 5 people. It all happened SO fast. My mom and I looked at each other with a look that said “oh my god, this is happening now.” I started to panic a bit, but honestly had no time to process what was happening. They threw my legs up, turned on the spotlights (you really do lose all modesty) and said “Ok, we’re gonna start. When I tell you, you are going to take a deep breath in, hold it and push with your contraction.” She had told me earlier that if you feel like you are pushing to poop, you are pushing correctly. And off I went. Luis and my mom were to my right. I had kicked out dad…too weird having him there.
It took a few tries to get the hang of how to push properly, especially when I could not feel the contractions, but I got the hang of it. I had to push 3 times in a row which made it really hard to breathe. I told the nurse I couldn’t breathe and she checked my oxygen, told me I was a-ok, and on we went. In my head I was thinking, “you better hope I don’t pass out soon.” By the 3rd set of pushes I was getting further and I think by the 4th or 5th set, he emerged. And boy did it hurt like a motherf*cker as he came out. It is difficult to explain, but that epidural did nothing for the pain I felt with that last push. It was a huge relief however, once he was out. It was the 2nd push in that set and they said ‘he’s almost there’ and then he slid out. All in all, it was 15 minutes of pushing. The doctor asked Luis if he wanted to cut the cord, and he did. He let out a tiny little cry as they rushed him over to the heating area and checked him out. I only saw him for a split second as they lifted him up. When he was on the table I could only see his little chest area between all the doctors and nurses attending to him. I was dying to see his face which I never got to do until later. They called out his measurements. 3 pounds, 2 ounces, 15.5 inches. I remember thinking that was good. They were saying other things that I don’t really remember. Luis kissed me and said “good job baby, you were amazing.” He said that Nathan was so cute. My mom was in awe and watching them work on Nathan.
After maybe 5-10 minutes they whisked him off to the NICU. I still hadn’t seen his face. All I wanted was to see his face. The doctor was flopping the umbilical cord around as he was trying to get the placenta out. I remember that really grossing me out. He was pressing awfully hard on my stomach and “massaging” it to try to get it to detach. He explained that when it’s so early with delivery, the placenta isn’t supposed to come out/detach so often times it doesn’t want to come out. He had both hands in there digging away and tugging. It was super painful and honestly the worst part for me. I just wanted it to end and it seemed to last forever. The doctor was also getting irritated which didn’t help at all. He explained that he needed to get it out quickly so I didn’t lose any more blood, and if he couldn’t I would have to be put under to get a D&C to remove it. He finally got foreceps of some kind and was scraping it out of me. It finally came out in large pieces which they put in a large plastic tub. I would rather have not seen that. I was never so happy to have something end.
They let me relax for a bit while they cleaned up. Tessa came over and cleaned me up (there was a lot of blood). She was very kind, and reassured me that Nathan looked really good and that many babies are born that small and early and turn out just fine. It was exactly what I needed to hear in that moment.
Two excruciating hours went by with no word on Nathan. Dee tried calling a couple times but didn’t have any updates. It was absolutely brutal waiting to hear if our son was okay. Finally they were taking me to my recovery room in a wheelchair and I was going to get to see Nathan along the way. As they wheeled me down the hallway everyone said congrats and they played the little hospital music signifying a new baby born. I waved to my nurse and thanked her. I wish I could have hugged her goodbye and told her what a difference she made, but I was so out of it and exhausted and wanting to see my son. The new baby music made me cry.
I was prepared for bad news: his lungs would be under developed, heart problems, brain issues, my mind was racing. I remember they put me next to his incubator and I was taking it all in. I was shocked by my little man having a tube down his throat. That broke my heart. I still could barely see his face with all the stuff on it (wires, tubes, etc.) The doctor was telling us how he was doing which was honestly a blur. I never heard the words that he would be okay in all that was said. It killed me inside to ask this, but I had to know. I said “how long until we know he’s out of the woods?” And the doctor replied “oh, he’ll be just fine”. And I just let out a sob like no other. My mom saw me and was crying too, and came over and hugged me from behind. It was such a massive relief knowing my baby would survive and be relatively okay. Why the hell didn’t he begin with that?!