A New Arrival

New Year’s Eve, we went to my cousin’s house, ate bacon-wrapped smokies and chicken pot pie, and joked about going into early labor.

About 5 hours later, my water broke.

I woke up to go to the bathroom, and by the time I got my huge, waddly girth out of bed, I could feel warm liquid running down my leg. Hooray, I thought to myself. More laundry. (By the 9th month of pregnancy, the whole “having control of bodily functions” thing is no longer as much a priority – or embarrassment.) I made my way to the bathroom, discovered my bladder was still fairly full, and wondered idly whether my water had broken. I cleaned myself up, put on some new underwear… and discovered it was wet again.

“Hey, Ethan?” He opened his eyes blearily. It was 5:30 am. “I think my water broke… or I peed myself a lot.” I was still debating whether to go to the hospital, but Ethan was already up and getting dressed, grabbing our hospital bag. As far as he was concerned, he’d rather risk getting sent home from the hospital with a bladder control story than end up with a home birth.

I was checked into the hospital around 6, and by that time, I was pretty sure my water had broken. I was slowly leaking all the way down the hallway to my hospital room, and although I wasn’t having contractions, I was pretty sure this was the real deal. After confirming that my water was broken, we waited an hour or two and then started pitocin to induce contractions.

Now, I’m not going to tell tall tales about the horrors of labor. In fact, I’d like to take a moment to say that I spent most of my pregnancy terrified of giving birth, because of the way people describe the experience. And not just those who go natural – I’ve heard horror stories from people who were heavily medicated, too. Based on some of these accounts, I was expecting the epidural to make about as much difference as a couple ibuprofen. Maybe my labor experience was on the easier side of the spectrum – I don’t know – but I was dilated to 5 cm before I asked for an epidural, and once the epidural was in, I took a nap. I went from a 5 1/2 to a 9 in my sleep. And then I woke up, pushed for under an hour, and suddenly, there was a squirmy, screaming lump lying on my stomach!

He looked like a Smurf. He was cone-headed, gangly, and very, very blue. I took a good look at him and thought, “I’m supposed to love this child. This is one of the greatest moments of my life. I’m supposed to love this child.” And then I reassured myself that I was also supposed to deliver the placenta and get stitched up, so Ethan could love the child while he was getting cleaned off and warmed up. The nurses toweled off the wrinkled Smurf, and the doctor finished up with me.

With a little more oxygen and a little less mess, the Smurf transformed into a super-cute newborn. We named him Jonathan and spent the next 2 days staring at him. He is the cutest baby I’ve ever seen. (Unbiased opinion.)

When I got engaged, people told me to say goodbye to my social life, because that was the end of it. When I got pregnant, people told me horror stories about labor and delivery. And when I was finally sick enough of being pregnant to look forward to labor, people told me I would never sleep again once the baby was born, and that it was much easier to take care of an infant inside my body than outside.

Alright, doomsday prophets, the day of reckoning is at hand. You’re all liars. My marriage was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made – social life included. Pregnancy sucked, but it didn’t kill me. Labor was actually pretty easy, all things considered. And even though I’m writing this, sleep-deprived, next to a squirmy little boy who can’t seem to keep his own pacifier in his mouth, having a baby is way better than expecting a baby. This kid keeps us up all hours of the night, demanding food at unreasonable times, and fussing for no apparent reason at all. And we can’t seem to stay mad at him. We love the little guy too much. We get mad at him, pick him up, look at him, and just kind of melt.

I’m still alive, everybody. Tired, yes. But alive and well. ♥

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Merry Christmas, From David

Last Saturday, I had a prenatal “Coping With Labor” class. It was basically an extensive “how to keep from freaking out when you’re in pain” workshop, and I was kind of feeling alienated. For one thing, Ethan had his final graduation project due in a few days, and couldn’t come to class with me – so I was the only person there without a partner. I hadn’t slept well, and I was trying really hard not to fall asleep throughout, and my voice was way lower than usual (because I was half asleep), and I didn’t think I was looking too hot (because I was half asleep)… basically, I wasn’t feeling too social or too confident. And when you combine an unsociable mood with 8 months of pregnancy, you seriously just don’t feel like talking to people.

When the nurse mentioned that some people like to listen to more “peppy” music than others during labor, my brain immediately started playing “Dirty Deeds (Done Dirt Cheap)”. That was stuck in my head until the class concluded, at which point my brain switched over to “Highway to Hell.” Wow, I thought. I’m ready for motherhood. I was starting to think I was a total freak.

On top of all this, I’m usually a very active person, and I try to go out of my way to help people around me. During pregnancy, however, I apparently Animorph into a gigantic slug. I have zero energy, and not enough brain power to finish a sentence. Over the past few months, I have become a vegetable of sorts. I’m here. I live. I just don’t usually feel like I contribute to society. And when I try, I usually end up hurting myself.

Long story short, Saturday morning I was on autopilot – and by about noon, when the prenatal class ended, I was kind of feeling sorry for myself. I stopped off at Arby’s on the way home (the baby was driving, apparently), went in, and ordered more food than I probably had room for. I tried to smile and be friendly and all that, but I was also avoiding talking to anyone unless I absolutely had to. I got my food and went to a back table, where people would be less likely to see me.

That’s when a guy came in, sauntered over to the corner table across my way, and dropped his backpack on a chair. He sat down for a few minutes, looked around him with a smile, and then stood up and walked around the restaurant. He walked in a circle around the tables, glanced at the menu, ordered nothing, then sat down again. A minute later, he got up and walked another lap around the Arby’s. I began to suspect he had some kind of mental disorder, but he was enthusiastic enough that I started smiling.

After taking another lap, he came up to me, pulled a receipt out of his pocket, and wrote something down on it. I wondered if he were Deaf, and needed me to order his food. (But why wouldn’t he just write it down for the cashier? I thought.) He handed me the receipt, and I saw the words, “Corn Chex” neatly written in the corner.

Dude, I thought. You are in the wrong establishment. I must have looked confused, because he took the receipt back. When he returned it, it said, “Corn Chex, 1.49.” “Cost,” he signed – and said, with a thick accent.

I was still confused. The price wasn’t the problem, I thought. I signed, “You bought it already?”

“No,” he signed.

“You can’t buy that here,” I signed back at him. He laughed at me, took back the receipt, and wrote, “Maceys” on it.

At this point, I figured it out. My brother has Autism, and he sometimes brings us scraps of paper with lists of his favorite things: Swedish Fish, M&Ms, names of girls he likes…. I realized this guy was just really excited that Corn Chex were on sale. I looked up at him, and he signed, “My favorite.”

Suddenly it made sense. This wasn’t a question; it was just awkward small talk. “Oh, I see,” I signed. “That is a good price. My favorite is Peanut Butter Crunch.”

He seemed to think that was a fine choice. He introduced himself: his name was David. I gave him my name. He then told me all about his three brothers, which of them were Hearing and which were Deaf, which were “real” brothers and which were step-brothers, in addition to his place in the family (firstborn). He also told me about his ex-girlfriend in Wisconsin, his opinion on Oreos, and how much he liked talking to pregnant women.

By this point, I was actually out of my self-pity shell and enjoying the conversation. There’s something extremely relaxing and low-risk about talking to someone without having to physically verbalize anything. It’s also refreshing to talk with someone who won’t judge you if you change the subject suddenly and almost violently without warning. We discussed quite a few of our favorite foods, and I advised him not to put Arby’s sauce on his Oreos. (He doesn’t; don’t worry. Just milk.)

This whole time, David hadn’t ordered anything. After about ten minutes, a woman approached me and said, “Hey, since you can talk to him – will you ask if I can buy him lunch?” He ordered a number 9 combo, and thanked the woman, who wished him a merry Christmas. By the time his food was ready, his brother had arrived, and the two of them sat down for a few minutes to eat. I eavesdropped while David told an elaborate pantomime about deer hunting. He was a very funny storyteller.

They left after a few minutes, and I finally started eating. By the time I was almost done, David came running back in, got my attention, and asked, “What’s your name? I forgot.”

“My name’s Rachel,” I signed.

“Merry Christmas!” he signed. Then he turned to the manager and said out loud, “Merry Christmas!” while signing it. His speaking voice wasn’t great, so the manager looked at me for a hint.

“Same to you,” I said (and signed). “Merry Christmas!” The manager figured it out and repeated the sentiment. Then David bounced happily out the door, and I finished my meal. I took a pit stop at the restroom, then came out and asked the manager for a water cup.

“That was really nice of you to talk to him,” said the manager as he handed me the cup.

All of the awkward came back, and I didn’t know what to say. “He started it,” I blurted out like a guilty six-year-old, then realizing that didn’t make any sense, I muttered, “Thanks,” and went to fill my water cup. Then I headed out to the car and just sat there for a while, thinking about what the manager had said. Why wouldn’t I have talked to him, I wondered?

Well, if I didn’t know sign. That would’ve made things difficult. So I guess there was that. I was probably the only person in the store who knew ASL. And then it occurred to me that David came and talked to me because I was noticeably pregnant. I was the only in the store who fit that criteria. And that woman wouldn’t have been able to offer to buy him lunch if she hadn’t seen me signing. And then I realized that most people didn’t have any experience carrying on a conversation that had absolutely no rhyme or reason. I might have been the only person in the whole store who had the skill (?) to start a conversation with the price of Corn Chex.

“God,” I said (to God), “Thanks for that. I mean… I’m awkward. But apparently, there are some other awkward people out there and I can still brighten their day.” It made me feel good to know that even when I’m feeling useless and weird, God still knows I want to help. And He can send somebody to help me, too – maybe someone who fits in about as well as I do.

Merry Christmas! ♥

Happy Tuesday!

Lest I should only use this blog for venting and book reviews, I think I should point out a few things that make me happy.

  • It’s sunny today. Not just like, “Oh, look. The sun.” It’s a genuinely sunshiney kind of day. I went for a walk (to the end of the block, which is about as far as my baby belly will allow at this point), sat on a low stone wall and read a book, soakin’ up some rays. It felt great.
  • I’m nearly finished with a manuscript for a full-fledged book! That means I could actually get this thing published or something!
  • Know what I had for lunch today? Thanksgiving. In a tortilla. Stuffing, potatoes, gravy, turkey lunch-meat, and cranberry sauce, all rolled up into a tortilla. Thanksgiving taco.
  • Jurassic World is coming out on my birthday. I’m so excited for these dinosaurs.
  • This baby will be here in a month!
  • I don’t have to give birth to this baby for another month!
  • We have an apartment with ample room for this baby!
  • This picture has been my computer desktop for the past few months or so:
    hamster in a sweater
    Just look at this little guy. He’s adorable! He’s got that little sweater. I feel like the Hamster in a Sweater is probably my spirit animal.
  • Ethan will be done student teaching this week. Also, he got an extension on some of his homework, so he shouldn’t be keeling over dead anytime soon. I’m quite happy about this.
  • Nobody – I repeat, nobody – in our house is deathly ill right now. I am fine. Ethan is fine. Baby is wiggly.
  • There’s Christmas cookies everywhere!
  • Oh, right – Christmas!! ♦

Sickos.

For those of you who missed my posts (I flatter myself), I apologize. I literally dusted off my laptop today and checked my blog for the first time in weeks. Basically, what happened is, everybody died.

Well, maybe not died. But it’s been a rough couple of weeks. My doctor told me last month that pregnant women have very weak immune systems – I’m about as susceptible to the flu as an 80-year-old. That’s not good. (I got a flu shot.)

About 3 weeks ago, while preparing to move to a new apartment, I came down with a cold. Not one of those “sniffly nose” colds, either; it was more of the “feels like somebody shoved a wet octopus up your nose and into your sinuses” variety. Also, I was terrified to take any medication, because every box you buy over the counter tells you to ask a doctor before you breathe if you’re pregnant or nursing. So, while Ethan went student teaching during the day, I stayed in bed and blew my nose. By the time our contract at the new apartment began, we had almost started packing.

SweetBrown

Fortunately, we had paid through the end of November at the old apartment, and we had several weeks for the moving process. In the evenings, we slowly started packing and moving what we could spare. Between my stuffy face and my pregnant brain/body, I wasn’t much help – but between us and a few friends, we managed to get the bed and some necessities over to the new apartment and moved ourselves in, if not everything we owned. A few days later, we managed to get the rest of it all into the new apartment, cleaned the old place, and turned in our key. We were living from boxes, but we were all in one place.

By this point, the octopus had moved from my sinuses into my throat and upper chest, and I had developed a smoker’s cough. Lovely.

I was also spectacularly bored. Those of you who know me are well aware that most of the stupid things I do happen when I’m bored.* Ethan kept telling me I wasn’t allowed to move anything, because I was nearly 8 months pregnant, and we didn’t want me to go into early labor. Or hurt myself. Naturally, I got bored, disregarded his advice, and moved in some of the books. A book doesn’t weigh that much, I reasoned. Of course, a whole box of books does – and I ended up tweaking** a muscle between my ribs.

bad decision

This hurt for a couple of days, especially when combined with the hacking cough I had developed. Adding to my general health complications, an 8-month-old fetus leaves very little room for a bladder. That means that every time my hacking cough started, I went running for the bathroom. Few things hold as little dignity as sitting on the toilet with your pants around your ankles, coughing, peeing, clutching your side, and groaning all at the same time.

After a few days, the rib was starting to heal, and life was starting to get bearable again. My family came down to help us unpack (thanks, guys!) and we made some serious headway on the home front. Then I had a particularly bad coughing fit. After a spectacular cough, I felt something in my wounded side expand like a little balloon, then pop. A whole new wave of pain came, and stayed for the next few days.

At this point, I asked for a priesthood blessing – which brought some relief, especially by mentioning specifically that I would heal, and that the baby would be fine. I should also note that while my body was being shot to pieces, the baby was getting increasingly wiggly. This was good; it meant I wasn’t worried about him.

I slept on my left side for another week, while my right side started to mend, and the cough slowly abated. I made a breakthrough a few days ago, when I realized I could laugh or cough without any significant pain. Hooray!

Then a few days ago, Ethan called me on the way to student teaching. He had pulled over somewhere in Draper to throw up by the side of the road, and he needed me to contact his professor to let her know why he wouldn’t be at the elementary school. Having done this, I crawled back into bed (on my left side) to wait and pray he made it home alright. A long while later, he managed to drive himself home, and spent the next 32 hours bonding with the toilet.

diarrhea since easters

After much dysfunction and misery, I am happy to report that Ethan’s intestines have forgiven him whatever sin he committed, and my chest and sinuses are almost back to normal. I can now lie down on my right side for upwards of 10 minutes at a time, if I get the angle just right. And my head has cleared enough for me to do some writing/editing, if I feel so inclined.

I might not have any work to do for a while, though. My boss called today. He’s been sick all week. ♦


*This is closely followed by the category “Stupid Things I Do For a Cheeseburger.”
**Pulling? Tearing? I did something, and my muscle was not happy about it.

Motivation Has a New Name: Eggo

Last night, I was craving tater tots so much I would have killed a potato to get them…. if I thought I had a clue how to make them. Instead, I went to Wal-Mart late last night and wandered the frozen breakfast foods, debating whether it was a wise decision to buy the 5-pound bag. It was cheaper per ounce, after all. And I was so sure I could eat that many. Maybe at one go.

Instead, I made a responsible, adult decision. I decided to spend the extra 3-pounds-of-tater-tots money on a box of Eggo waffles and some breakfast sausages. Just look at those waffles, said my brain. They need a warm, welcoming home.

This morning, my husband and I woke up at 6 and started getting ready for the day. I poured him some cereal, then realized the Wal-Mart waffle box was in the laundry room freezer. I thought for a moment, considering the options. I could stay inside, warm and snug, or I could brave the cold to get to the laundry room next door.

Some things are worth the cold. I put on some pants and a hoodie, braced myself, and ran out the door.* I shivered my way to the freezer, shivered in front of the freezer, shivered my way back. But I had waffles! Beautiful, golden, toastable waffles! Oh, the joy. They were delicious. ♦

*When I say “run,” I actually mean that I meant to run. And then my body said, “Excuse me, ma’am, but you’ve got a growing baby in here and very little energy. No.” So substitute “run” here with “shuffled slowly while pumping my arms.”

In Which We Accidentally Prove My Father Right

Over the summer, while I was going through the wonders and delights of my first trimester, the temperature shot up to the high 90’s and low 100’s. Our apartment does not have air conditioning. My dad, concerned, asked what we were going to do about it. “Set up a fan,” we said. “Sleep in our underwear, and spray cold water on ourselves before bed.”

“What about moving?”

“Not in the budget,” we said.

I lay on the couch fighting morning sickness while Dad relayed information to Mom. “They’re probably going to rent month-to-month until they can find another apartment with air conditioning.” That’s not what I said at all, I thought. What I said probably just came out as moaning. It’s hard to win an argument while you’re trying not to throw up.

So we set up a fan and slept in our underwear and soaked our clothes and managed to survive the summer. It was hot, but we did it. And now it’s cooling down, and we’re very happy about it, and we’re looking around, saying, “Hmm. We need to make room for a baby.”

A few days ago, some friends told us they were selling their contract for a two-bedroom apartment. Hmm. Two bedrooms would be nice. We went to take a look at it. This is much bigger than our current apartment, we thought. This would be nice. We took a look at our budget. We can afford this. And, since our landlord still hasn’t gotten around to writing out a year-long contract for us, we’ve been renting month-to-month. Almost in spite of our best efforts, we have proven my father’s words correct.

But hey – we’re moving! As of next month, we’ll be living about a mile east, and with significantly more space. Hooray! ♦

And the Floods Came Up…

This morning was interesting.

Ethan’s alarm went off at 5am, but happily, Ethan had the day off today, and he just turned the alarm off. Unhappily, I felt like a donkey had kicked me in the small of the back. I have no idea why, but apparently pregnancy means you should not sleep on your back. I had fallen asleep that way and slept most of the night with steadily growing back pain. It took me an enormous effort to get onto my side and curl up, and the pain in my back eventually died down enough for me to fall asleep again.

Several hours later, Ethan got up because he heard knocking at the door. Nobody was there anymore, but after a few minutes, he tried to turn on the water and found we had zero water pressure. Not good. So he went to check with the neighbors in the studio apartment next to us. Apparently, our neighbor had gotten up early to discover his kitchen floor was wet around the door to the laundry room. When he opened the door, a wave of water came flooding through his apartment. The water heater had exploded – or at least, there was a sizable hole in it, and the laundry room had accumulated nearly 12 inches of water.

Fortunately, our neighbor is competent and clear-headed, and quickly shut off the water valve to the whole house. Also fortunately, our manager is much more proactive than our past management, and we had the problem fixed by noon. In the meantime, Ethan kindly massaged my lower back until the pain went away. No lasting damage to apartment or body. Just small-scale adventure. ♦