The Day My Life Was Changed Forever

Yesterday Outlaw Mama celebrated her first blog anniversary or “blogiversary.”   When I read her witty words, I was all “awwwww, I never took the time to remind you that I had been on the world wide interwebs for a year!”  Since that ship sailed over a month ago, I’d like to indulge by reliving a different bit of history.

My post, Beautiful Boy, is consistently the most read piece on this blog.  It is the birth story (sort of) of my first child and it has probably gotten more views than every other post combined.  I have two people to thank for that: my son and Christy Turlington. Continue reading

WTTM Giuliana Rancic

Late last night when the news that the Rancic’s surrogate was in labor, I breathed a big sigh of relief.  Finally, a celebrity mother I could stomach!

This week has been full of some pretty grim “famous” baby “news”.

Holly Madison, Hugh Hefner’s ex-girlfriend is pregnant.  Who?  How am I supposed to feel about that?  Good for you for realizing an 80-year-old might not be your best shot at having a family?

And as adorable as those McConaughey children are, Camila pregnant again with a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old only gives people an easy segue into “so Carinn, now that Chloe is 18-months, are you thinking about another?”  Another what?  Another glass of wine?  Sure.  Oh you meant another baby?  Only if you’ll take the two I have now.

It was honestly looking like I would have to put Snooki on a pedestal – no, not so she could reach the kitchen counter, a metaphorical pedestal – for tweeting that she “loves nursing [her] little man” four days into his life.  Or showing us how she’s grown spiritually since becoming a mother with this gem, “#BreastPump insteada #FistPump.”  The Huffington Post even congratulated her for being a vocal breastfeeder saying “at a time when women are constantly being shamed for breastfeeding in public, it’s important to many nursing moms that public figures endorse the practice.”  I was about to take a sip of the Kool-Aid myself when you broke me of the crazy spell with news of Rancic labor via Twitter.

So thank you G, for sharing every bit of your heartbreaking journey with us; from your struggles with infertility, your experiences with IVF, your gratitude for the gestational carrier willing to bring your baby into this world.  You are what Welcome to the Motherhood is all about – putting a face to our modern-day mama struggles and letting so many of us know we aren’t alone in the rollercoaster that is the journey of motherhood.

Finally, Edward Duke Rancic entered the world last night at 7lbs 4oz.  Welcome to the Motherhood Giuliana!  Enjoy the ride.

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WTTM Jessica Simpson!

Jessica Simpson gave birth to daughter Max Johnson earlier this…

What?

She’s still pregnant?  Are you kidding me?

I’ve said it here before pregnancy is a long road. But Jessica really proves it.  Let’s recap the past 10 months:

 

In NYC on October 27 – visible bump

 

With the cat out of the bag, Jess thought this was a cute way to go public on Halloween

 

The fact that this hit newsstands in mid-March makes me think these photos were taken when she was about 30 weeks pregnant.  You think?

March 27. This was the bump Miss S was sporting at the time Elle was released…shopping in Beverly Hills

Looking serene, she finally ditched the skyscraper heels for some flip flops earlier this month

US Weekly is keeping close tabs on the situation and delivering important updates:

Jessica Simpson is due to give birth to a baby girl any day now, and rather than wishing for a flatter post-baby belly like most new moms, she’s more concerned about her lonely footwear collection.

“I can’t wait for the day I can walk in heels again! My feet feel homesick!” the pregnant star tweeted to her 4.9 million followers Tuesday.”

She’s opted instead for Havaianas flip-flops.

“I actually had to train myself to walk in them!”

As any good piece of investigative journalism does, reading this provoked a few thoughts:

1.  Jessica Simpson has 4.9 MILLION people who want to devour every 140 character morsel she doles out and I have to remind my husband to visit my blog.  Because a page view is a page view my friends.

2.  MOST new moms wish for a flatter post-baby belly?  Really?  They don’t wish the bleeding would end or the baby would stop crying or the night sweats would ease up just a bit?  I know I’m not normal, but I was always wishing I had a minute to brush my teeth.

3.  “I can’t wait for the day I can walk in heels again!” she exclaims, as if it’s right around the corner.  Honey, I’m still waiting.

Welcome – whenever it happens – to the Motherhood Jessica Simpson!  Enjoy the wild ride!

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Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)

I was on the fence about posting my son’s birth story.  It’s not as fast-paced or sweet as my daughter’s.  In fact, all 16 hours were entirely uneventful as far as labor goes.  Textbook delivery.

It was after he was born that shit got hectic.  But I never want to put that on him.  He carries enough weight on his tiny shoulders.

So this is not his birth story.  This is my story and the lessons we can both take away from that day.

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Dear baby boy,

We checked into the hospital early on a unseasonably warm Friday in February, nine days after the first time they told me I would be induced.  I resisted as long as I could.  I knew you weren’t quite ready (even if I was!).  But as my due date passed and my fluid level decreased to alarming levels, I could no longer demand more time.

After 16 hours of pitocin induced labor and 4 hours of pushing, you arrived.   3:46am on Saturday.

Immediately I began to hemorrhage.

355am.  I lose consciousness.  Daddy tells me my eyes roll back in my head and I go limp.  With some oxygen they revive me as they call for the crash cart.  Your nana, who is with you in the nursery, hears the code blue call to maternity but cannot imagine that it is her baby that might be dying.

4am.  They wheel me to an operating room.  I am crying and confused but mostly terrified.  Your daddy’s face is white even though his voice is strong.  He is willing me to stay with him.

408am.  The doctor is trying to explain.  The placenta.  They can’t deliver the placenta.  It has grown into the uterus.  She needs to perform a D&C.  Here, sign these forms.  We may have to remove your uterus entirely.  Yes, I was asked to consent to a hysterectomy twenty seven minutes after giving birth for the first time.  “Hope you enjoyed that experience because it will probably be your last,” the universe taunted.

411am.  Your nana left you in the nursery to come check on me.  When she enters the delivery room it is empty of people but covered in blood.  What looks like buckets and buckets of blood.

418am.  My doctor is working.  Working to save my life.  There are no less than eight nurses and doctors around me.  The room is full but I feel so alone.  No one is talking to me.  Staring up at the glaring white lights I bark questions into the air.  No one answers.  So I listen.  We need blood.  What’s her count?  2 units.  Look at her tongue.  It’s white.  Four units.  Carinn, you are going to need a transfusion.

420am.  I am crying.   What is going on?  Everything is a blur.  Suddenly I realize you are not there.  “I miss my baby.  I want to see my baby.  When can I see my baby?”  My pleas are ignored.

422am.  They won’t let daddy in the OR.  He receives the cold shoulder from the nurses going in and out of the room.  At best, a vague update.  “We are doing everything we can.”

5am.  The D&C was successful and the blood transfusion complete.  I am wheeled to a recovery room.  I STILL HAVE NOT HELD YOU.  Thankfully it is only me that is deprived.  Your daddy and your nana are loving you every second that I am gone.  And they are making damned sure you don’t get a bottle.  The doctor agrees.  You can wait.

6am.  After my incessant begging, they bring you to me.  With a warning.  “Do not sit up, do not stand, do not feed.  You may hold him and nothing else.”

As I hold you for the first time I am starry eyed and breathless.  You return the look.  What has this experience been little smoosh?

We meet again

Three years later you are a serious and sensitive soul.  You are reserved.  You take your time and you don’t like change.  You are deliberate.  Everything needs to make sense to you.  You ask a lot of questions.  You soak up the answers like a solar panel, stored, to be used later.

You seem to carry the weight of the world.

I wonder if the way you came into this world made you that way or whether it was you who dictated the way you were born.  Either way, my lessons to you will always be about letting go.  They are my lessons as well.

When I checked into the hospital, I had my birth plan printed and in tow.  It involved my feelings on epidurals (no), episiotomy (no), immediate physical contact upon delivery (yes), breastfeeding (yes).  I scored 50% on the plan that applied.  I scored a zero on the rest of the days events.  Because my birth plan never contemplated most of what actually happened.

Life is not perfect.  It surely does not always go according to plan.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make plans.  You should make plans.  Big ones, small ones, practical ones, grand ones.  But don’t lose it when life gets in the way.  Just roll with it.

In the mess that life can make of your plans, it’s your job to find the beauty.  Not to try to make sense of it all or to try to make it perfect.  Instead, it’s your job to find the humor (like when I tried in earnest to convince everyone that I didn’t need surgery, that a little oxygen would do just fine).  To find the good (like how you stayed strong through the trauma of 4 hours of travel down the birth canal, how your heart rate never even so much as dipped with the stress).    To find the positive aspects of the outcome (like the fact that you were born completely healthy, with a perfect APGAR score no less!).

In the mess of a mother I am at times, I always see the beauty in you.

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Before you go to sleep
Say a little prayer
Every day in every way
It’s getting better and better

Snuggle time - February 2009

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy

Snuggle time - February 2012

Before you cross the street
Take my hand


Life is what happens to you
While you’re busy making other plans

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy

-John Lennon

Heated arguments, drug pushers, soulmates finding each other. No, it’s not a show on the CW. It’s your birth story.

Dear baby girl,

You were born on a Saturday but your story begins on a Wednesday.  Your brother came down with an ugly stomach virus.  He threw up all night long.  Every hour, I nursed him to health one tablespoon of Vitamin Water at a time.

Thursday:  By morning he was fine.  And then I got this ugly stomach virus.  Liquids spewing out both ends.  10 months pregnant.  It wasn’t pretty.  I nursed myself with Vitamin Water all night long.

Friday:  By morning I was fine.  And then your daddy got it.

That’s when shit got hectic.

Saturday

1am.  I wake to hear your daddy covering the entirety of our four square foot bathroom with puke.  As I wonder who is going to clean that up, I notice that in the 5 minutes I have been awake I have had 5 contractions.  Seriously.  But they aren’t strong, so I close my eyes and try to go back to sleep.  Good luck with that one.

3am.  I call the doctor.  Thankfully the midwife is on call.  We speak for 10 minutes, debating what to do.  Clearly I am not in much pain but the contractions are coming regularly, one minute apart, and second babies come quick.  I insist I want to stay home as long as I can.  Your daddy is still locked in the bathroom.

5am.  The contractions are farther apart, but stronger.  I call the doctor again.  Three minutes apart.  Yes I can still talk, but they stop me in my tracks.  Get ready, she says, and call soon.  I know that your dad can’t accompany me to the hospital in the shape he is in, so I call your eagerly waiting nana.  She lives two hours away.  I ask her to leave now.

7am.  Stepping over the mess that was my bathroom floor I shower and pack a bag.  The contractions are getting stronger.  I know I am in labor.  It feels oddly calming.

8am.  Your nana arrives.  She isn’t sure what to make of my calm so she freaks out.  I insist that I will walk to the hospital.  This only elevates her freak out level.  She pictures you being born in a puddle of Starbucks, dog urine and late night pizza scraps on the corner of 31st and 2nd.

815am.  We leave the building to make the half mile trek.  And then I remember, “oh, I need a bagel and juice!  They won’t let me eat at the hospital!”  Your nana’s eyes bulge out of her head.  We have to go!  I ignore her and walk in to our regular bagel shop.  My friend behind the counter asks when the baby is coming but he doesn’t expect me to say “right now” as I double over with a contraction.  We make our way out.  There are almost no cars on the road.  It is a quiet Saturday morning.  It isn’t cold for February, but it is so windy.  The contractions are getting stronger.  I feel you moving down.

840am.  We arrive at NYU reception.  They take one look at me, how calm and relatively pain-free I am and send me to triage.  “You aren’t ready to be admitted but we’ll have your doctor check you.”  I go to triage where they hook me up to the fetal monitor.  Every moment of sitting is sheer pain.  Stabbing feeling in my abdomen.  My doctor comes in.  The one who saved my life (but that’s a story for later).  She checks me.  5 centimeters.  She knows I want more than anything to do this with no medication, no intervention.

9am.  “Walk around the hallways.  Do not leave.  I will check you again in two hours.”

Elated that I don’t have to be admitted yet, I jump up to walk around.  As soon as I pop up, a gush.  My water breaks.  And so does my calm.  In a split second I am S-C-R-E-A-M-I-N-G my head off.  THE PAIN.  I DEMAND an epidural.  I cry about how tired I am from the events before, I haven’t slept in three nights.  The sickness left me drained.  I stand, I jump, I shush everyone.  I squeeze my eyes shut.  My toes curl.  The pain.

910am.  WHERE IS THE ANESTHESIOLOGIST??  I screech.  A 12 year old boy who swears he isn’t Doogie Howser and that he is old enough to have completed med school comes in.  He barks some legal mumbo jumbo.  I say yes, yes, yes, whatever you need, just BRING IT NOW.

My doctor hears my screams and wants to know what happened.  “Her water broke,”  Doogie explains.  She checks me.  “Carinn, you are 10 centimeters”.  Oh God, what?  I’m still in triage!

915am.  My doctor, two nurses and the jilted anesthesiologist beg me to sit in the wheelchair but I am busy swaying and jumping and doubling over and curling my toes.  It’s not an option to walk so I climb on like a petulant child who won’t sit in his stroller facing you and instead faces the wrong way, kneeling and grabbing the back of the seat.  But I am not smiling, only wincing and writhing with pain.  One of the nurses finally notices the pad that was discarded.  The one I was sitting on as my water broke.  “MECONIUM” she screams.

MECONIUM they echo.  PEDS (short for pediatrics)!  PEDS, PEDS PEDS they yell to reception as we race by.  There was meconium in the water.  WE NEED PEDS HERE NOW.  I swear they were only yelling so loud to drown out my screaming.  My primal, guttural, indescribable shouting.

920am.  There were no delivery rooms available.  They are quite literally wiping blood off the floor of one as they wheel me in, still kneeling, still hollering.  They push me in and the team disburses.  Doogie leaves with his unsigned waiver.  I have a moment of “holy shit I am really going to do this without any meds, all on my own, not even hooked up to a freaking monitor.”

One nurse scrubs in while another grabs instruments and another gets the baby blankets ready.  My doctor scrubs in.  All this activity fades as I realize an important piece of business that needs to be taken care of before we get on to delivering this baby.  I’m in my head trying to figure out how I can ask this at such a tenuous and inconvenient time.

“Can I please go to the bathroom real quick?  Bathroom?  Please?” I say to no one in particular.

“Um, I HAVE TO POOP!”  A little louder this time.  “Can someone help me to the bathroom?”

It’s like I have never seen 80,000 a few episodes of TLC’s A Baby Story.  I truly believe I need to go #2.  My doctor explains that is the baby making me feel that way and if I was a little less delirious from the pain I would have shot her a dirty look for saying you are making me feel like shit.

Lightbulb.  Oh.  The baby is coming!

925am.  The nurses are still getting ready but I climb up from the wheelchair on to the hospital bed, still kneeling, and begin to push.  Completely unattended.  The nurses take time from their busy work to notice my silence and signal to each other.

“Somebody better get her, she is pushing,” their masked mouths whisper.

I finally realize I don’t know where your nana has gone.  Wait – she’s in the corner on the phone.  Really?  I see her hang up and put her coat on.  REALLY??  Not sure this is the time for a coffee break.

She explains.  “Ian and I are going to switch off.  He has stopped throwing up.  I am going to go home to watch the baby (your brother was the baby right up until the minute you were born).  Ian will come now.”

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!  This baby is coming RIGHT NOW!”  I shriek.

Not that I blame her.  Last time I pushed for 4 hours.  She thinks she has time.  But I know you are coming now.  I know you will not wait.  Not for your brother to feel better, not for your daddy to arrive, not for anyone for anything.  This is your time baby girl.  Your time, your terms.

935am.  I ROAR.  This is not an exaggeration.  I ROAR and your perfect little head peeks into the world for the very first time.

939am.  You are born.  Small and pink with bright blue eyes.  You make your presence known instantly with your strong baby lungs.  Flailing and agitated, you don’t settle until they put you back in my arms.  Physically, you look nothing like me, but the connection we have is deeper.  It’s evident in the way we stare at each other in silence and awe.  It’s in our DNA.

Welcome to the world my beautiful daughter.

Epilogue

940am.  I feel more amazing and alive than I have ever felt.

I am a self-professed adrenaline junkie and this feeling surpasses any other.  I feel more vitalized than I did after swimming with sharks in Tahiti.  More exhilarated than after jumping off a 30 ft. cliff in Maui.  More inspired than when I finished writing my screenplay.  It’s like I can actually feel life coursing through my veins.

It’s transcendental.  Pure euphoria.

I call your daddy before they even cut the cord.

“I’m so sorry, I couldn’t wait!”

“It’s ok, I’m coming now.”

“She is amazing, Ian.  A real force to be reckoned with!”

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The natural high eventually faded, but in that moment it brought me real clarity.  Because one year later, those words I uttered just minutes after your arrival, they never felt truer.

This is what a real force to be reckoned with looks like on her birthday.