What is this “Birth Plan?”

If you are a birth planner, try your hardest not to take offense. There are plenty of planner -mom-bloggers out there to appease you. Trust me.

Sometime between the generation before me and my own, women invented birth plans, to the collective delight of all OB’s. Out of curiosity, I downloaded a template. It was 4 pages long. Some of my elective favorites:

The ability to wear your own contacts.
The ability to request a mirror to see ev.er.y.thing.
The ability to feel torturous pain, or to feel nothing.
The ability to bring your own props, with a suggestion of a beanbag (?)
The ability to request props, with the suggestion of a squatting bar. WHAT IS THIS HORROR?
The ability to be in pain in whatever position you want, no matter how bizarre.
The ability to request songs at intervals (cue: Enya at hour 6 please).
The ability to walk and eat.
The ability to request a cot for your partner and/or kick him out.
The ability to dictate the fate of any little masculine parts, Old Testament style.

And this is only the tip of the iceberg of the crazy. I didn’t even get to the room temperature, light dimness, bedding, and photography. See, yes, I was thankful that the facilities were nice, nice enough to birth a baby. But I didn’t really want to be here. Planning it like a vacation felt like we would be staying a while, and I just wasn’t down with that.

I was, however, down with making my hospital bag a vacation:

Instead of this form, I decided to ask my doctor the questions that really mattered:

Q:Will I die?
A: No (I should note it wasn’t a firm no)

Q: Can you guarantee that this person’s head and body will fit through this opening…can you guarantee it 100%? What measurements do you have to go off of? Can you x-ray the skull and pelvic area so we can be sure? (this was quickly ruled out for baby safety).
A: No

Q: Will you be adding a catheter or enema to the mix?
A: Yes

Then I informed my doctor that I did have a birth plan:

Keep us both alive. And if you have to pick someone to save, pick me.

Thankfully, she had big picture vision.

High Risk Diva

By 20 weeks of pregnancy, I was on my fourth doctor. He was dubbed a “maternal fetal medicine high risk perinatologist.” He had the magic sono technology that would hyper evaluate little nugget, running through a checklist of maladies that would make any parent cringe.

His demeanor and harried look reminded me of the sort of character that might play the creator of Frankenstein. Without my wits about me and my nerves on their highest setting, I politely reminded him we didn’t want to know the gender. He brushed it off like I was irrelevant to his work. But I had been promised he was the best, albeit a bit of a loon.

He explained what things he would look for- while looking- to determine the baby’s propensity for spina bifida, down syndrome, etc.

When he panned in on the tiniest hand I’ve ever had a crush on, we could see that that “it” was giving a thumbs up sign. Just as I was about to squeal with delight, the MD butted in.

“Well….this is a sure sign of mental retardation,” he wryly said.

{Insert pause that was probably 5 seconds and felt like 5 minutes}

And much to my surprise, he started laughing.

For the record, no, I’m not familiar with the “Gig ’em Aggies” sign and thus did not get the joke at all. What a terrible human being! It hailed back a series of memories where I categorized people in ill-fitting professions.

Only a few years back, I had been standing with my brand new family who was selecting a plot of land to bury one of our most cherished members. While essentially looking for a double plot with a view, we found the perfect location. The funeral director cheerily chirped, “Well, great! We can just kill two birds with one stone.” The irony was not lost on any of us. That chick needed a new vocation.

And so did this guy. He went on to warn me that my biggest risk was making it to full term, and thus 38 weeks it would be.

When we left, my husband and I studied the sonograms over and over, until we were sure we saw a problem in that thumbs up. There was a sixth finger. Just look at it. We decided to keep quiet, and it wasn’t until he was born that we could actually vouch for 5 fingers.

El Preggo (2)

If this is awkwardly in the middle of a story for you,  read Part One here.

Through what was sincerely dubbed the “miscarriage panel,” I discovered that I had two genetic mutations, and not in the cool way that amounted to four awesome teenage mutant ninja turtles…the way that indicates you are fundamentally defunct. One was called MTHFR, which I so politely referred to as mother-bleeper, as I would have assumed it to read that way on a license plate. It meant I couldn’t metabolize folic acid, a useless building block in bearing children. Bring on the spina bifida.

Then I was given this number: Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome, or the blood’s tendency to clot. The rush of oxygen needed to get to the baby triggered the blood clotting, which cut off air, and amounted to the bad reruns of the previous summer.

And as a cherry on top, B and I have opposite blood types, dubbed the “RH Factor.” Albeit an easy fix with a shot in the butt (how can I count the ways…), my body would undoubtedly attack the fetus at some point for having the opposing blood type.

I was to alert the doctor immediately if I fell pregnant again. This is how they say it in the UK, as I know from all my forum-hunting.  As it turns out, I couldn’t even out-hypochondriac myself on this one.

Regrettably I took the test on a Friday night (day 25 for you other nuts out there), when NO DOCTOR’S OFFICE is open. How very stupid of me.  To kill time, I went to the State Fair, ate corndogs, and was practically running two-a-days to keep my blood moving for sanity’s sake.

Fast forward to 7am on Monday, and there I was at my doctor’s office getting pawned off to the local fertility clinic, where I was pale-faced learning how to inject a cartridge of Lovenox into my stomach. I was to do this every single day of my pregnancy at the same time each day, or else.  I came in 4 times in the next two weeks to measure my hcg levels. Then at six weeks for a sono, then at 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13 weeks. They told me I was probably going to have a baby. They told me not to fall or get in a car wreck as I would probably die of blood loss. I figured nugget and I both had equal odds and went on my merry way.

I had to psych myself up every morning for the shot. Sometimes I would pretend that I was in some sort of mortal combat game and that if I didn’t administer the shot right then and there, we would all die. Sometimes I stood in front of the mirror for five minutes faking it, like a pool player. Sometimes, I would put down the shot, walk away, come back, and pretend I had no idea what was coming. I was so clever. I ordered a heart rate monitor with jelly so I could obsessively listen in on my little person, freaked that I was going to stab it. The first and only time I ever forgot the shot, my husband randomly texted me a question about it that reminded me, letting me know that heavenly homeboy was looking out for nugget.

The bruises started mounting and I would count them as my battle wounds. I learned to avoid veins and arteries at all costs, which if you’ve ever been pregnant before, is like throwing a dart at a road map and trying to hit countryside. Perhaps a little more than you bargained for- but here is a glimpse of a normal day. And yes, thank you for asking, I do regret that eyebrow-ring-in-place-of-a-belly-button-ring I so loved in high school. Every.single.day. RIP fab and white trash stomach.

At least 3x at work someone would usher their hand toward my stomach with a…”ummm, something…ummm” and I would have bled through my shirt from that morning’s shot. As it turned out, blood thinners are incredibly good at what they do. I Amazon-primed my way through bandaids and cotton balls.

I called the doctor one day in tears, sure it was game over. I was bleeding! She told me to calm down and measure quantity over the next two hours. It was an hour before a well-placed mirror proved a shaving nick on my upper thigh was the culprit (thank you, thinners). I gave up shaving; it was too dangerous. I could see the obit now… “she was just trying to groom her fat legs.”

{more to come}

El Preggo

I’ve been lackadaisical at best this year in adding new blogs. Mainly because my whole life revolves around this crazy nugget; maybe even bigger still because I wasn’t sure how to broach the massive gap in between my normal storytelling and the fact that there is a new person in the world. I write funny, still personal anecdotes. I try not to get close to “the other side.” But there’s a little of both in this truth.

How ironic that I have always been so terrified of an accidental pregnancy.

Hours of teenhood were lost marinating on the asinine topic that I would somehow fall pregnant the way people fell in love. When we were finally “ready,” I did what most normal individuals do- I insisted on reading a mammoth-sized textbook to learn exactly how this happens. After all, if one couldn’t become pregnant from hot tubs or toilet seats, there had to be great mystery in this feat. Note: I was one of the children excused from the 7th grade Reproductive Series a la my momma.
The textbook I settled on took me no less than 8 weeks straight to read.  How had I been so unaware of the art of getting pregnant? This wasn’t a love fest, this was straight up science. 
A thermometer by my bedside and copies upon copies of fertility charts folded in squares and stashed in my nightstand, I charted my body like a zealous dieter.  I crept my way into countless online forums to see if my non-existent signs were signs of pregnancy.

Forums where I read ridiculous stuff like this (truly, I was seeking advice..):

And on the earliest possible day of the first real month on the books (cue “First Response tells you FIVE days before your missed..” blah blah blah), I had everything I had been hoping for right on a little white stick.

I had just returned from NYC and it was May of 2012. I had eaten my way through the city…an entire Grimaldi’s pizza for lunch by the Statue of Liberty (hey, they didn’t sell by the slice), followed by a Magnolia’s Bakery German Chocolate Cupcake, and a snack in Bryant Park. I slept until 11am every morning and felt like a lazy college student. I knew before I tested that things were about to get wild.

It was a Sunday when I found out. I kept my mouth shut while I strategized breaking the news to my husband. I read about 37 terrible ideas (buying him a book called “my boys can swim!” ranking high on the list) before settling on a couple pairs of shoes from Target in a box that was ‘mailed’ to the house and addressed to my husband. Unfortunately, the dual shoes sent an unintentional message that screamed TWINS, which had to be cleared up. But precious nonetheless.

And this is the way I will always remember the excitement of being pregnant (thankfully captured in this picture)! Because if you do the math, it’s not hard to deduce that this magic white wand wasn’t Augie. Nor was the next one, or the other ‘maybe’ that was lost in the shuffle.

What followed was like a bad movie. My husband left town for work travel and THIS happened (no lie). I went to work and had a stern talking to (which has rarely happened prior or since). Something didn’t feel right so I went home. I showed up at the doctors office unannounced the next day in hysterics (my apologies to all of Dr. G’s patients!), and confirmed the worst. I was insane, like literally. Something snaps in your hormones that are beyond what can be articulated in writing. Pregnancy has nothing on miscarriage in that department. At one point, I flung my entire body onto our hardwood floor, gasping for air from crying uncontrollably. Oh the drama. But I couldn’t have helped myself if I had tried. After some time things returned to normal.

And then it happened all over again. This time, it did what life does best- combining itself with every other macro-level terror in your life. Another work trip for my spouse, a massive rundown of work events I was responsible for debuting that month, a grandmother’s illness escalating, and my poor, sweet little parrot falling ill and dying after 15 years of camaraderie. And yes, you better darn well believe that parrot was the last straw keeping me together in a time like that!

When the parrot passed (at the unmerciful hands of a stupid vet who chatted about his new mattress while he put her down and whom I have audibly cursed in Central Market), I had nothing left. I missed 2 weeks of work. I nearly threw up everyday. I lost 9 lbs. People asked if I was pregnant….perhaps it was morning sickness. The irony burned.

But thanks to God’s grace the story doesn’t end there. You can laugh, but I sat bawling in my car in the driveway, blubbering to my mom about how I just knew, I just really knew that my bird had to head north before I was going to be able to carry a pregnancy to term. And as it so happens, it was that week exactly that commenced the journey for my little nugget.

So I guess I owe it all to my birdie after all. Nugget has a lot to live up to because I really, really loved that bird 🙂

{more to come}

How Did I Get Here?

And here it is; my proverbial “pink slip.” Actually, I think I would have rather been handed a pink slip. People can look for new jobs, but they absolutely cannot undo what is about to be done…eek!

I can’t help but think with all the modern branding and euphemism’s for things that are pretty awful, that they couldn’t have worked out a more enthusiastic way to say this.

For starters, as I learned with one of my non-pregnant friends, “ripening” sounds far too much like “rip-ening,” which was how she read it back to me when I  handed her the sheet. “No, I assured her, that starts on Wednesday…on Tuesday, we “ripen.”

Then there’s the sorry blackened pictures of a stork holding a bag about as far from their body as they can, which showcases ( I assume) a deformed baby storks head, affirming the fact that, yes, my baby will probably also be ugly or misshapen because these things do happen. Though I ‘m hoping I won’t hold my package so far away from me? It looks like the classic resentment of the new babe because they just ruined their mothers body. Mercy!

Lastly, the most irksome part has to be, “GOOD LUCK!!” The all caps and double exclamation points insinuate that this feat of nature may or may not just be guided by the stars. Don’t worry, you’re not coming to one of the top delivery hospitals with all of our bells and whistles to ensure you not only live, you love this experience, you are coming to roll your own dice in a war against pain, death, or life. GOOD LUCK!!

With only four days left, perhaps it’s time to invest in a value pack of tarot cards.

Gender Reveal!

When you’ve had a pregnancy like ours (I know, I know, details will be forthcoming in other posts), you know more about your baby/pregnancy on day one than normal people ever deduce in their entire nine month stint. Since our baby felt more like a math equation than a miracle up front, we decided to leave the gender in the sacred mystery category. Also known as, “leave the gender to God.”(because not all of it was up to Him anyway?)

I am still shocked how much this angers other people. How dare we defy modern technology and instead insist on a pointless surprise? How impractical we must be- painting the room pale yellow, buying blue and pink outfits only to have to return half of the batch, slaving away on multiple naming selections, and just overall not being prepared for a baby- because knowing if it had a tiddly winks or not would change our entire parenting perspective.

“I don’t think I could do that,” says the snide lady performing my maternal massage.
“I think you know and you’re just not telling us” say relatives trying to prod.
“So you’re just doing yellow and green?” says everyone with zero sense of style. (See picture for not so much…)

What follows is another great charade of questions:

“What do you want more- a boy or a girl?”

This is hands down the strangest yet most common question. So you want me to cast my vote, only to have a strong 50% chance that I will get the alternative, and this wayward child will be branded from the start as the person that “should have been” my son or daughter. It’s like a bad Lifetime Movie: “Isabella, if only you could have been the son your father wanted!”

And then I’m always asked, “what do you think it is?”

This question is loaded. This question implies that surely I have developed some sense of maternal instinct as a result of this pregnancy and have a bond so close with my baby that I know it is either a boy or a girl. Worse yet, I tend to get the one-over look, whereby mothers from around the world make a decision based off of how much fat landed in my butt/thighs. I cringe when they take their guess, knowing well what they say about the differences in carrying between girls and boys. Hint: girls are supposed to steal your good looks, which would lend people to be judging how hideous you appear).

And the truth is, I don’t know. Sure, I have a guess, just like the rest of the world, but I don’t actually know.

They say you have vivid dreams, and that’s how a lot of pregnant women “discover” the sex of their baby. Well, perhaps you dream readers out there can shed some light. I’ve had two dreams with very, very ugly baby boys. I’ve had one dream with a precious little girl. And I’ve had one dream that my child (genderless in the dream) was a black baby. Take that.

I still regret during everyone else’s overspun (no offense) gender reveal in pink or blue cakes….I missed out on a prized opportunity. I should have staged our cake reveal.

Imagine, as we are cutting it open and people are confused seeing plain white cake, and we exclaim, “OMG! We’re having a caucasian baby!”


Baby Name Game

“Do you have names picked out?”

Of course we do. Defending their privacy seems to be a small obstacle as everyone not only wants to hear the names, they want to react, give you feedback, and ultimately, tell you long stories about how they knew someone with the same name. Typically, it was a bad ex situation, a kid who always peed themselves in the first grade, or the name rhymes or sounds very similar to something unfavorable. 
When my mom was pregnant with my youngest brother, she was bent on the name Avery, when someone commented that it sounded like “Overy.” And that was that. Also unfortunate and tragic, she was sold on the name Harrison, with a nickname of “Harry.” Combined with my maiden name of “Reddick,” which I will delicately point out has two syllables, it could have been a train wreck. Thankfully, she did garner some honest feedback on that one.
Like not knowing the gender, people easily take offense to the holdout on not sharing baby names. In the fitting room at Anthropologie, I was asked yet again by a salesperson. When politely letting her know we were keeping those close to the chest, she sputtered back, “oh, I see….not even the anthropologie fitting room girl, huh?”(as if I wasn’t having a tough enough time of cramming my large rear and gut into their $$$ clothing to begin with).
So I developed an alternate course of action. I change my selections on any given day, but for your delight, I’ll share my list here:
If it’s a boy, we’re going to name him {Adolph/Judas/Osama/Saddam}…it’s a family name.
If it’s a girl, we’re going to name her {Jezebel/Bertha}
The trick has been to pick one name and stick with it. Of course if you gave up the rest of the list, people would be onto you. But it’s surprising how long you can run with just one. It’s had the effect of both pacifying their curiosity and getting me off the hook for the zillionth time. 
What’s best, no one has any personal stories about these characters because they have never met one. How strange!

Baby Basics

The short description for the 2.5 hour Baby Basics class indicated an instructional session to learn about swaddling, diapering, and general do’s and don’ts for first-time parents.

We walked through the hospital doors as I commented that  I wouldn’t mind my husbands company at the upcoming b-feeding class just in case I couldn’t remember all of the information. Then he asked if we’d have to see someone’s actual chest. I scoffed, “of course not!” How inappropriate. I was sure they had other ways of instructing. No one would volunteer to have their chesticles on video display.
We sat in our seats and surveyed the room. Five couples, each with a dummy baby, swaddling blanket, cap, and outfit. I scoped out the snack table and grabbed some s’mores chewy bars and a Sprite. At about that time, classmates began asking pregnancy questions of the instructor ‘at random.’ One asking about the amount of sugar in soda and how it could affect the baby (literally as I was drinking it). I was already in pregnancy hell- being judged for my motherly tendencies. It was all I could do to not also publicly ask the question about maintaining a healthy weight as I was at least 75 lbs less than the non-soda-drinkers in the room, but I tried to harness my inner WWJD and instead decided to expel my sinful thoughts onto this blog.
The instructor kicked off the class with a 15 minute video, where we found out that this was a class where they would not only show someone’s chest (really? in the diapering class?), but nearly the whole enchilada. And why, I kept wondering in my too sober state, why was it necessary to have both boobs out when the child only nursed off of one. It was natural geographic at its finest, showcasing boobs from around the world- not an ethnicity or color left undiscovered. 
I had failed my husband so miserably I could do nothing but laugh until they all decided I was too immature to be having a baby.

The next half hour was spent on a list of questions addressed to the group, whereby the instructor would read a statement and ask us to go around and respond, “mom,” “dad.” or “both.”

Question 1: “I am worried about driving with the baby in the car.”

Well, this was stupid to me. How else were we expected to take the baby anywhere? The rest of the room piped up with paranoid parents (they fell into the “both” category) insisting that there were so many crazy drivers out there, that they’d rather keep their baby at their house, etc. We looked at each other in disbelief. I must just be too trusting of our crazy world.

Question 2 was interrupted by a voluntary statement from the woman across the room. She looked up in despair while her husband looked forlornly down in the direction of her belly, avoiding any eye contact with the room. “Well,” she stammered, “I’m just….I’m just worried he’s afraid I’m going to forget about him.” Her slight nod indicated she was referencing her husband.

I leaned into mine and whispered, “that guy just lost his pants about a 1/2 mile back.”

The rest of the room chimed in to support her and assure it wouldn’t happen. I thought this was a bad idea as it looked kind of like it already was happening.

When we left our group therapy (ahem, class), I veto-ed the idea of bringing my spouse to b-feeding. I didn’t need anyone else in our house over-sensitized to global assets or the male-version of an emotional breakdown.

I Sat on Frieda

Bless her heart.

It was one of those wrong place wrong time scenes gone terribly wrong. There I was, nearly twenty pounds my normal weight with a soccer ball in my stomach, lethargic after a long day. I had somehow managed to uncage the birds when I got home from work while I rifled through the pantry for snippets of dinner.

Too tired to eat any more, I wandered back to the couch to prop my fat feet up. I melted into the couch seat with the greatest of relief. But beneath me I felt a twitch, followed by a muffled shrieking. Strange, I thought. So I picked my bottom up slightly and rearranged my seat back into the couch. Again I heard shrieking, though this time I realized what happened. I couldn’t have gotten up any faster, trying against gravity not to ‘push off’ against the couch.

When I stood up, what remained was a scuffled parrot. Her mohawk all aflurry, feathers every which way, beak slightly parted. She ran in a very fast circle, hissing at this and that into the air. It was like a UFO had bopped her and she wasn’t sure where to direct her natural defenses. Her waddle was a little crooked and I freaked out, trying to examine her bone structure for breaks. She seemed relieved to have me hold her near, obviously completely unaware that I had nearly been her angel of death…twice.

She had fit so delicately into the seam of my bottom that I shutter to think what would have happened had her vocals not enacted.

However, I feel most badly for Fred, who she took out her sentiments on later (see picture).


Always in search of the perfect hair removal trick, I was at it again.

When I found this device called the Epicare- retailing at less than $20 with free shipping- I was like a June Bug flying towards the light. The YouTube’s on it were sensational. I watched as some Norwegian woman lightly ‘buffed’ all of her unwanted facial hair off in a matter of minutes. Except I knew it wasn’t buffing, it was pulling, but if she could endure it with that pretty face, so could I.

When it came in the mail, I tore open the outer packaging to reveal a skinny black box of about 10 inches. Etched in gold was the cursive word, “Epicare.” Fancy.

I pulled out the product- a long narrow pipeway of metal coils, capped by what looked like old school pink pencil-topper erasers at either end. What an absurd contraption. I flung it around by one handle, amused by its slinky-bow reflexes.

I heard my husband in the driveway and threw it to the side, embarrassed by yet another strange vanity product that ‘most women’ probably never have to use.

When he came through the door, he saw my half-sorted mail and went to see if there was anything for him. He saw the Epicare.

It was like I had been hit with genius. Struck by a source of wicked that shocked even myself.

“Oh, I got that for us.” I said.

A confused look (rightfully) came across his face.

“It’s a ….. toy,” I stammered. We all know very well where I was going with this. Of all uncharacteristic things to do, this was surely it. I was trying to convince him that I had not only been looking but also purchased a bedroom product, and then had it shipped to the house.

Confusion continued. So I did what I do best- I elaborated in the free air space.

“See, this side goes in the front; this side goes in the back.” I bowed it to show its flexibility.

As soon as I was out with it, I had to mask my own horror. Can you imagine? Can you imagine if someone chose to use this device in such a way? It would literally tear all the hair from between your seams. I shuddered.

“I bought it on Amazon. That way we won’t be receiving any trashy magazines or anything like that and it was discreet.” The lies proliferated, but I was sturdy as a rock.

He got up from the couch and just walked away. Just like that. No amusement, intrigue, just a linger of concern and disgust.

As soon as he was out of eyesight, I grabbed the Epicare and a box of Cheez-its (which I figured I may as well return to the pantry since I was getting up), and went running in his direction to spill the (true) beans. But my platform shoes were no match for the race I was in and I ended up sprawling on the hardwoods, Cheez-its crushed and Epicare rolling right at his feet.

About 30 minutes later, he came upstairs to find me ‘buffing” my facial hair off with the Epicare. Boy that had to be weird.