Thursday, November 2, 2017

Random Observations

I was driving around here, there, and yonder yesterday with the kids when I glanced down at the gas gauge. I had three quarters of a tank. Then it occurred to me that I rarely think about the gas tank anymore.

When I was working and driving seventy-something miles a day, the gas tank was always on my mind. Every day I'd look at the gas gauge, figure out how long it would last, and try to time my fillup for when I had the time in the cheapest location. There could be a 20 or 30 cent differential in price, depending on where I was.

It was a continual source of low level stress that I could not allow to get away from me because I could get stranded. I thought about it every day. And now, I don't.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Nursing Modesty The Fifth Time Around

I am happy to report that my health seems to be returned to normal. All the weird symptoms have mostly subsided and I am only tired in the sleep deprived way instead of the 'something is going awry' way. I am still trying to find the new normal and am most impatient with myself. I want to post more often and fail so here's a quick amusement.

Yesterday was Ella's one month appointment. I was running late because running late is my special charism. All my best efforts to the contrary, I will be late.

I drove into the parking lot and hurriedly pulled Ella out of her car seat. I put my purse on my shoulder, grabbed a burp cloth, and looked at her blanket. Do I need the blanket? In an instant I decided against it. It wasn't that cool, she had on long sleeves and pants, and it would be one more thing to carry. Off we go.

We are called into our room. The nurse tells me to take all her clothes off. Crud. I do need that blanket. How could I forget?

The nurses finishes and we are left to wait on the doctor. The naked Ella gets cold and fussy, and I have nothing to wrap her in except to awkwardly drape her discarded clothing over her. I set down to nurse her thinking warm milk and my warm body might make this wait a bit less uncomfortable.

Finally the doctor enters. "I have a blanket in the car that I should have brought in, but I just didn't think about it."

The doctor reassures me. "It's no big deal. Don't you worry about it."

"But I forgot she would have her clothes off and she is cold and I don't have anything to wrap her in."

"...Oh. You mean for the baby."

Half a beat passes. I look down. My shirt is hiked all the way up to my collarbone. It's all hanging out. All of it. It never crossed my mind.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Postpartum Wonkiness

I have a birth story post brewing, but that has been put on hold by the demands of a newborn and the fog that still resides in my head.

Birth and its aftermath was fairly routine. In fact from a pain perspective, this delivery has been probably the easiest I have had. I finally found a pain medicine protocol that works for me; it only took five times. I had minor tearing and, I think, two stitches that healed very quickly. I was sore for a few days, but overall the aches and pains associated with post-pregnancy has been mild. If only that was the end of it.

During the pregnancy, I continued with my low blood pressure that I have always had. Normal readings for me stay around 100/70 and 90/60 is not alarming. I had an annoying high pulse, but was told repeatedly it wasn't high enough to be worrisome. It just pounded in the 90s most of the time.

Within a day after delivery, my pulse blessedly returned to normal.

Within five days of delivery, I had a continuous low grade headache. I first attributed the headache to too much screen scrolling while sitting with a baby. I was still basking in my non-pounding pulse. After several days of this dull headache, I decided to take my pulse to see where it was sitting. I was expecting something in the mid-70s. I got something in the mid-50s. Huh. That's weird. I immediately wondered what my blood pressure might be with such a pulse, and being the proud owner of a cuff, I went to find out. I had no idea what to expect. 135/85. What? That was somewhat alarming.

Over the next few days, I kept a steady eye on my blood pressure. While not technically actionable, it was a lot higher than my usual and my head was dull. I even had a migraine aura. Over the course of a few days, it stayed in that same range, and after I stupidly spent two hours in an unair-conditioned barn for a wedding reception, it got as high as 150/90. Officially concerning.

I consulted my doctor and started keeping a regular record. That high reading was as high as it got. Over the last week it has stabilized into a more normal range with my high readings being 120/80 and the others hanging around 110/75. So maybe I am not going to have a stroke.

My pulse has not recovered as nicely. It is still hovers in the 60s or 70s during the day and I am sure falls into the 50s (or 40s) while I sleep. This slow circulation does not help the dull headache. My brain is foggy and slow. I have to reach for words.

And! I am getting heart palpitations. I think I have figured out they are exacerbated by stress, low blood sugar, and the slow pulse. The palpitations are much fewer when I keep my blood sugar level. However, regular eating is not my strong suit. Regular eating with a newborn is really not my strong suit.

The fun thing about heart issues is that thinking about them can cause your body to react. I wonder about my pulse and can watch it slow down noticeably on the monitor. I think about a palpitation and then my heart starts flip-flopping. I have to keep up with what's happening while at the same time not dwell on it and make it worse.

I have an appointment on Monday for vitals and bloodwork to make sure all this is on the side of annoying, but harmless postpartum complications and not something more ominous. In my saner moments, I feel confident all this falls under annoying but harmless, but this hasn't been enjoyable either. Half the time I wonder if I shall have a stroke or if my heart is just going to quit beating.

Hopefully soon the fog will lift and I will be able to tell you about my 7.5 hour labor. 7.5 hours!?! All the others combined were only 10.5 hours. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Hey Baby!

Eleanor Clare was born on Tuesday, September 12th at 3:40pm. She weighed 7lb 4oz and was 18.5 inches long. We are going to call her Ella. Labor was not precipitous. Weird.

We are both doing well. This has been one of my easier recoveries even though I have sluggishly done nothing for months *and* I'm officially old and all. Baby is back up to her birth weight. I think? She has an appointment tomorrow so I'll find out for sure.

All is well. We are in that strange, transitional time where it's hard to remember pre-baby life even though it was last week. We are taking it slow, but hopefully since my mind is not quite as dulled as it was during the pregnancy, I'll be able to post more soon. Pictures for now:

Thursday, September 7, 2017


I have the most ridiculous things happen to me sometimes and this is too ridiculous not to share.

Earlier in the summer, a couple of people from the women's group at church approached me and said they would like to throw me a baby shower. This was a pleasant surprise, even though I don't need that much, and they decided to theme the party for diapers and wipes. (Although now I have discovered I actually need a new playpen. Ain't that the way of things.) I have some baby shower trauma, which I alluded to back in this old post, but there is more to that story than is in the post. Let's just say that the experience of someone calling me to arrange a baby shower for me is not one I've had before now.

Initially, we set the date for the shower for a Saturday in August and for scheduling conflict reasons that are not entirely clear to me, it had to be cancelled. I wasn't upset. They told me they would reschedule later and it might not be until after the baby was born. Totally fine.

Now several weeks have passed. My family is involved in a homeschool book club that meets a couple of times a month for the children to talk about a book and run around like crazy people. Several of the families in book club also attend my parish. Yesterday was book club day.

One of the mothers at book club asked me about the pregnancy and my upcoming induction on Sept 12th.** I gave her the details and she looked at me, perplexed. She shared with me that she had received an evite to my baby shower just that morning. It is scheduled for Sept 16th. I blinked at her. She quickly realized I had no idea what she was talking about and started apologizing, thinking she had ruined a surprise. I explained it wasn't a surprise but had been cancelled back in August and that cancellation is the last I had heard about anything. I went home, bewildered.

Waiting on me at home was a message on the answering machine. It was the woman from church organizing the baby shower. She explained that they were having a hard time finding a date without conflicts so they scheduled it for Sept 16th. She also realized it was around my due date so maybe I would be bringing the baby to the party. "Call me back..."

My mouth was now hanging open.

They sent out invitations without ever asking me if I was available. They sent out invitations before even calling me to let me know they set a date without asking if I was available.


I am now faced with making a phone call to tell this very nice, but apparently clueless, woman that no, sadly I, with my fashionable adult diapers, will not be bringing my 3-4 day old baby to a party full of germy, old women approximately 24 hours after being released from a hospital stay that was necessitated by the fact I had to push said baby's head out of my nether regions.


I am astounded, astonished, flabbergasted. They have had children. How can they not know? But evidently, they don't. I don't even know what to say to her. They already sent out invitations. I cannot believe it. Now I have to pick up the phone...

**I have an induction scheduled for next Tuesday, Sept 12th, in order to control for my old friend, precipitous labor, and avoid the dreaded interstate delivery. I will be about 39.5 weeks and probably 5-6cm dilated at that point.

Monday, August 14, 2017


What a stupid, stupid day I have had. I knew today would not go my way when I awoke to find rain pouring from the sky.

Today was my first scheduled NST at 35 weeks at 10 am. I had to bring all the kids to my sister's house, which meant we had to leave home at 845. Really, we should have left at 830. I dropped the kids, gave a rundown of the schoolwork I sent along, and headed to the gas station because the van was out of stupid gasoline. I didn't have time to fill-up so I gave it about three gallons to get me there and back again. It was raining a deluge.

I get to the appointment about seven minutes late after having Dave call to tell them I was running a few minutes late. These appointments are not double booked because there is only one fetal monitoring room, but nonetheless it took them 30 minutes to call me back.

The nurse brings me back and asks if I have ever had an NST before. No. Is this my first baby? Why, no. She explains the procedure and then asks the loaded question: Did you have a good breakfast? Um, was I supposed to? "The test works better if baby has some glucose to work with." Nobody told me to eat well before coming. And I knew.

NB: I tend to have a low fasting glucose just like I tend to have low blood pressure. Nobody cares because all that matters is hypertension, diabetes, and a normal thyroid. I have a normal thyroid number so they all just shrug in my general direction. If this test relies on maternal glucose to goose the baby into proper performance, I knew right then this was not going to go well. Half a frozen sausage biscuit pair isn't going to go far. I was planning to eat for real after the appointment. You know, at 1030. IF SOMEONE HAD TOLD ME...

So she straps me all into a chair--mmm belly monitors, my favorite--assures me she will be monitoring our progress from her office over a baby monitor, and walks out of the room. Irony, there. Baby monitor. The pound, pound, pound of baby's heartbeat is being broadcast live over the air. I couldn't actually see the machine, but I guesstimated it to be around 150.

After some amount of time, she comes back into the room, looking vexed. She says baby is not responding appropriately so she takes this flashlight looking thing that vibrates and buzzes my belly with it two or three times before walking out of the room again. Pound. Pound. Pound. Move. Squirm. Pound.

More time passes. And I know. Eventually she comes back into the room, glances at the tape spit out by the machine and unceremoniously announces, "The baby has failed this test." Nice bedside manner, you have here. Don't try to soft pedal it. "You will have to have an ultrasound before you leave today. Go back to the waiting room and I'll see when Ultrasound can work you in" And then she utters the words that pretty much sum up the day. "I don't think anything is wrong, but we have to check." Of course.

Back to the waiting room, I go. It just so happens that the next ultrasound appointment is running late because of the rain. I get called back. Ultrasound nurse is a bit friendlier than NST nurse. She seems concerned. I tell her that if I had known I needed to eat a big breakfast for this test to function, I would have eaten better, but nobody told me. She says I don't need to apologize. I AM NOT APOLOGIZING. I am explaining the failure in communication WHICH IS IN NO WAY MY FAULT. Breathe, breathe. smile.

I climb onto the table. Good news! Baby is head down and has hair. Hurray. She measures all the things: heartrate (150bpm-called it), blood flow to the brain, breathing reflexes, limb movement, amniotic fluid. She announces that baby is passing the ultrasound with flying colors. Then she starts measuring baby for growth. And I know. Sigh. Let us all be shocked when she says baby is on the small side and she needs to discuss this with a doctor before I am allowed to leave. Of course. Except my doctor isn't in office on Mondays so ultrasound nurse, who I have only just met today, will discuss this issue with random OB in the office, who I have likely never met in order to decide whether I can leave.

I then deploy what I call the Grace defense. "My oldest was less than 6.5 pounds at birth and still is only in the single digit percentiles and barely weighs 70 pounds at 12 years old. That the baby might measure a little small is definitely within the realm of possibilities. We are a small people. My giant-sized daughter is only in the mid-30s in percentile." Her response: Sometimes it is just genetics, but we have to check to make sure. Of course.

Back into the waiting room, I go. By this point, I am starving. I had expected to be able to eat at least an hour prior. I think Ultrasound nurse forgets I am out there. Time passes. The door finally opens for her to call the next patient. She sees me sitting there and says, "Oh, the doctor said it was fine. You can go." Thank you very much.

It is now after 1230 and I. Am. Starving. I go to a restaurant, order too much food, eat it all down, and then feel bad for a good chunk of the day from eating too much, too fast. I have to drive home. Still pouring rain. There is a jack-knifed semi leaking diesel on the interstate blocking my way home because OF COURSE THERE IS. I get through that little traffic nightmare and have to stop and fill up the van again because I have burned up my three gallons from the morning and am now filling all the way up. I pull into my sister's driveway after 230. I am totally beat.

What a stupid, stupid day. This is why I am deeply skeptical of all this testing and interventions. At no point did I ever get the impression that any medical person I interacted with had any true concern about me or the baby. They all seemed to think everything was fine, as did I. But we sure as heck had to check a lot of boxes on our way. And I get to do it all again on Thursday when you will be sure I will eat more than one frozen sausage biscuit for redacted breakfast.

Saturday, August 12, 2017


Oh, hey! Another pregnancy post! I'll try to move on to other topics soon, but everyone loves a name post, right? You know how everybody knows those people who start dating and immediately start naming all their perspective children. I am not those people.  Most of ours have not been definitively named until transition is closing in.

I find naming children somewhat difficult. I think this difficulty is born of my given name, shared by half the girls born in the 70s. I feel almost completely disconnected from my name. It's more like a label than a name. One of the great mass of Jennifers. It doesn't feel personal or that it says anything particular about me. I did not want my own children to have the same disconnected experience from their own names. In practice this means I have gravitated towards more classic names and tried to avoid trendy names. It turns out all the other Jennifers feel the same way. (I tried, Olivia, I tried.)

I admit I am picky about names. I don't like a lot of them. I promise I love your kids' names whatever they are, but I cannot easily find names I love for my own kids. A name has to feel right to me and it is hard for me to describe what 'feels right' actually means. 

So now we are on our fifth child and our powers of naming are running low. This state of affairs is distressing to Grace. Almost every night at supper, she asks, "What are we going to name the new baby?" We all throw some suggestions around, but nothing seems to stick or feel right. Repeat again tomorrow night.

The current ex-utero children are named:
Grace Elizabeth
Olivia Rose
Samuel David
Marian Josephine.

The new baby is purported to be another girl. I tend to Englishy names, something Jane might name a character. So what do you think? What should we name the new baby? Help us, lest new baby end up being called Clare Annette.