Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Gaggle of Moms and a Lunch Rush

Darla wants to be the only baby at lunch

Going to a restaurant with one baby and two adults is a horrible experience for me.  I nervously look around at all the patrons, wondering where their hatred may lie on a scale from one to ten.  My guess is usually that it hovers somewhere around five when she’s quiet and ten when she’s screeching.  This is why Greg and I only go out to eat at 4:30 PM. 

Picture this nightmare scenario, then.   Myself and six other moms walk into The Cheesecake Factory during their lunch rush. Five of us carry our babies in Ergo packs on our chests.  We hush our respective baby’s screams.  Two other women roll strollers through the front door as us Ergo wearers struggle to hold it open for them.  Our names have been submitted to the hostess, who shows us the various options we have for seating.  We opt for the one in which we have an entire section to ourselves. 

We toddled to our table, while the women with the strollers attempted to roll their behemoths away from the center of the aisle.  Their SUV strollers, however, are still planted right in the middle of the restaurant.  I had to give them credit for trying.

We sat down and chaos (or at least what I felt was chaos) ensued.  The mothers politely argued amongst themselves over whose baby was the fussiest, therefore earning the seats on the end.  Each baby cried intermittently.  Drinks were ordered and, with the exception of myself, waters were ordered all around.   I worried over whether the server hated us because we took up eight tables in his section.  I neglected to change Darla’s diaper for fear of stretching out the experience.  What if, after I ordered, the server came to the table to tell me that they’d run out of the bacon bits for my salad while I was in the restroom with her?  I would hold up the entire table’s order, thus forcing all involved to sit at the table even longer.  I sat tight and apologized profusely to Darla in my head.  All of us mothers struggled to keep a steady conversation going between “shhhhs” and “ummmms” as we lost our train of thought. 

I tried my best to stave off a headache as I inched closer and closer to a panic attack.  After waiting tables for years, I had become a hyperaware restaurant patron. I’ve always been careful to order politely, tip in cash and not ask for water that I won’t drink.  I like to walk lightly through the whole experience.  The mom brigade descending on the Cheese Cake Factory, however, was more like a destructive stomp in the middle of the restaurant.  I really enjoyed every mother who was there, but it's better in a one on one situation.

In the end, I needed to get out of there so desperately that I just started throwing cash at the situation.  I overpaid my part and felt it was money well spent because it got me home to my quiet, empty house all the sooner.  Once I walked through my front door, I breathed a sigh of relief and vowed to only go out to eat with one mother at a time. I’ve made good on that promise so far.   

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Darla's Laugh Track

Given that I've recently gone to work and Darla's sleep has become horribly disturbed, I've been unable to muster up the time or energy for anything more than posting videos.  But, I have to admit, they're FANTASTIC videos.

Enjoy this minute of Darla laughing!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Darla's First Music Video

My lovely and talented niece, Madeline Follin, started "Cults" with her boyfriend, Brian Oblivion, last year and posted some songs online at Bandcamp.  The songs blew our entire family, media, music industry and New Yorker's minds.

Fast forward to a little over a year later: Cults is huge.  They've signed to Sony.  They're album is a chart topper on iTunes.  They're constantly on tour.  They're in every magazine you open.  They're so totally mega!

Baby Darla was given the opportunity to ride on her cousin's coattails this past Mother's Day when Madeline asked if she could be in the video.  Darla fretted over her thighs and her thinning hair, but ultimately agreed to it.

This is the amazing, haunting video.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

First Comes Baby, Then comes Marriage

Last July, Greg and I were a young couple drifting through life with barely any responsibilities.  Then, we took a pregnancy test.  In a blink of an eye, our lives had become nothing but responsibilities and we are infinitely better for it.  It opened up a world of challenges and new opportunities, which eventually led to Greg's proposal.

I never knew I wanted a baby.  I always thought my freedom was the only thing of any value in my life.  I thought I would crack under the pressure of having a human be 100% reliant on me.  I thought I wouldn't be able to wake up five times a night to a crying baby. I thought I would never want the blueprints of my life to be laid out before me. To me, this seemed second to death.

Nothing I thought was true.  My freedom was boring. I spent my nights watching TV and fearing any new experiences.  I wake up every morning excited to spend the day with baby Darla and we make it through the day unscathed.  I respond to her cries nightly without much thought because my only concern is to make Darla feel loved.  The rough outline of my life has been presented to me, but there is plenty of room for surprises.  Far from death, I've been given a new life.

Finding out I was pregnant with Darla was an amazing surprise that pushed my life in a beautiful, exciting, wide open direction.  I look at her round, smiling face and feel so much gratitude that she chose me (at least, this is what I would like to think).

This is why I have no regrets about not being married to Greg before we found out we were pregnant.

Since I wanted our baby girl to be in our wedding, we decided to wait until after she was born to tie the knot.  With lack of foresight and clear understanding of what it takes to be a parent, we went forward with these plans.  The following is a list of reasons why one should get married BEFORE the baby is born.

1. The Wedding Dress: Wedding dresses are hardly ready to be worn off the rack.  They are altered to fit the bride's body perfectly.  This requires numerous fittings.  It's no easy feat to do this flying solo. When you add a baby to the mix, it's like walking through quicksand.

I initially didn't care about the dress, but my mom convinced me I needed this Valentino dress.  I had to oblige.  (Poor me!)

This dress isn't allowed to only look "ok" on one's body. It needs to look stunning, which is why I made three 4 to 5 hour trips to Beverly Hills to get the dress altered.  I drove in a frenzied state, with a crying Darla in the backseat and an ever increasing anxiety as traffic inched along on Wilshire Blvd at a snails pace.

Luckily, I knew Darla loved the dress.  How do I know this?  She pooed every time I put it on in the Neiman Marcus fitting room.  It made her feel relaxed.

2. The ever-present danger that the baby will steal the thunder from the couple: In conversations with Greg regarding the wedding, I spoke mostly about Darla's part in it. I wanted her to be my bouquet.  I wanted her dress to be the show stopper. (Unfortunately, mine trumped hers).  I wanted her to shout out when the minister (Greg's dad) asked "Is there anyone who thinks these two should not be married?"

Greg, on the other hand, was afraid she would babble through the ceremony (I hoped she would) and shout out an objection.  Clearly, we weren't on the same page regarding Darla's part in our wedding.

In the end, although we thought it was all about us, it was really all about her.  We thought everyone was clamoring to talk to us, but really they were reaching out for Darla.  All were competing with one another to hold her.  It worked out for us as it freed up our arms to do nothing.

3. Setting up the chapel and reception using one hand: I've gotten adept at typing using one hand or else waiting for her naps.  This is all while maintaining the cleanliness of our house, grocery shopping, checking Facebook (very important) and running errands.  Prior to planning a rushed wedding, there was barely time to keep up with these chores.  All things suffered as I attempted to coordinate with wedding planners and the restaurant.  What should have taken an afternoon got stretched across three weeks.

4. Dying my hair: It's already expensive to get a really good dye job in LA.  Tack on the cost of a sitter that you need to book weeks in advance and you have a monumental cost on your head that's really only going to look good for the next few weeks.

5. Picking up the thirty little things that pop up when you start peeling back the wedding onion layers: Precise strategy is the only way to maneuver out in public with a young baby.  However, when you keep forgetting the minutia, all plans are thrown out the window.  I darted all over Los Angeles, spending too much money and sweating through the guilt.  I continuously apologized to Darla for not singing and reading to her all afternoon like I should have.

This is my list of reasons why one should get married before the baby comes.  At the end of the day, these are high-class problems and I feel ashamed of myself for throwing a pity party for myself during the planning.  I'm incredibly fortunate to have a fantastic wedding and an amazing, new family that I'm absolutely crazy about.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A New Mom Going Back to Work

Erin, myself and Sabrina in the bakery's early days
I'm going back to work in a few days and my anxiety levels are through the roof.  Despite my extensive experience at BabyCakes NYC (I've worked there pretty consistently since 2005.  I know that place like the back of my hand.  I set up it's counter procedures, POS system, Front of the House policies, bookkeeping practices and inventory), I feel as if I'm starting a whole new career.  The reason for this has to be because I've never worked there with a bitty baby strapped to my chest.

I'm lucky.  My sister runs the bakery at which I work and she is giving me a dream mom job.  She's allowing me a trial run of bringing the baby with me and is setting up an incredibly flexible schedule.  This is fantastic; I couldn't ask for a better job!

This doesn't mean, however, that it will be easy to adapt to the new identity of a working mom.

Even as I write that last line, I get upset.  Being a mom has to be one of the most difficult, non-stop, anxiety-inducing jobs I've ever had.  To tag the word "working" to the front of it is a redundancy.  I've worked pretty damn hard.  I guess it might be best to say that I'm taking on a second job.  And I don't know how good I'm going to be at it. 

I never thought going back would be this hard.

Come to think of it, I didn't think much of motherhood before she was born.  I thought hiring a sitter and leaving the baby with her would be simple.  I imagined I would jump at every opportunity to have one.  I wondered, "why in the hell do people lose so much sleep because their babies are crying?  Can't they just easily ignore them for the sake of sleep." I believed that I would be chomping at the bit to go back to work.    

Every one of these assumptions were ludicrous. I hate leaving Darla with the sitter and miss her the entire time I'm gone.  My heart hurts when the baby cries, so I do everything in my power to try and calm her in the middle of the night. 

As far as going back to work is concerned, I don't want to go back for many reasons, many of which I'm sure most moms will understand.

I'm nervous about strapping her to my chest and, basically, having to ignore her babbles as I work.  (She won't know the difference.  She'll probably think I'm talking to her).  I'm scared that bringing her to work isn't going to be successful and I will have to hire a sitter, which will basically mean I'll be working in order to pay for daycare.  I'm afraid I'll get so exhausted from doubling up jobs that I won't be able to be a present mom.   I'm anxious that I won't be able to write at all because all my energy will be expelled.

I guess what it all boils down to is fear.  And, since I can't get around it, I have to go through it.  Only time will tell if my anxieties are founded.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Darla's First Cut (I'm to Blame)

I feel too guilty to post a picture of the cut!
Darla's learning to grab things.  She can pick up small toys.  If she's sitting on my lap without something bright and colorful to reach for, she starts to cry.  She pushes her hand into those of whoever is holding her.  My least favorite part of this development is how she fiercely claws at my chest when I feed her.  I have little purple scratch marks up and down my chest as a result.

Typically, I avoid cutting her nails for as long as I can for fear of what the clippers will do to her delicate fingers.  Most recently, however, I allowed her nails to grow long because I was too damn busy.  Between keeping her fed/diapered, the house clean and planning a wedding (post to follow), incidentals like that fell by the wayside.  With the wedding behind me and our bags unpacked, I couldn't avoid it any longer. 

I sat her down on my lap, the dryer whirring in the background, and began cutting her nails.  I got cocky.  After nearly four months of cautious nail clipping leading to no major disasters, I decided I was an old pro.  I chatted with her as I worked.  She babbled back at me. 

For a moment, I thought, "I feel bad for those people who accidentally cut off a piece of their baby's fingertips."

Not one second later, Darla began to howl.  I didn't even move the nail clipper for fear of what I knew I'd see.  I took a deep breath and looked down.  Blood flowed from her tiny thumb tip.  She flailed her arms, smearing blood on her arms, onesie and my face.  I carried her into her room to grab the first aid kit.  I was dizzy.  The world was spinning around me. I was short of breath.  And the blood continued to pour out.

I put antiseptic and a band aid on her finger.  I fed her to keep her from screaming.  She ate to soothe herself.  I wondered if I were teaching her bad habits. Would she forever calm herself by way of food? 

The blood wouldn't stop. 

"On no," I thought, "I have to take her to the hospital.  She's so tiny. She doesn't have that much blood."

My phone wasn't charged and I had no other way to contact my sister's but through email.  With a shaky hand, I typed out: "I cut of part of her fingertip! What do i do.  ,y phone is out of bats and have no ones number~!"

I looked down at her hand as I got up to walk her around.  The band aid was gone.  

"No, no, no, no, no," I thought. 

I looked in her mouth to try and pull it out.  There was nothing there.  Had she swallowed it?  I quickly thought over everything I'd learned in my CPR class.  My mind was blank.

"Please, God.  Please help me find the band aid."

I walked in circles, with her screaming in my arms.  I stared at the floor.  I found a flower petal, a plastic tag, lint and a bottle cap.  No band aid.

"Please, please, please, please," I said out loud.

I looked down. It was by my foot.

I sat down on the bed and fed her some more.  Her cries were completely gone.  The blood had stopped dripping.  In Darla's world, the cut was but a distant memory (or, at least, that's what I kept telling myself). 

In my world, my guilt steadily increased.  My heart pounded and there was a pit in my stomach that wouldn't go away. I wondered whether the cut would get infected.  I wondered whether she would have a scar.  She would tell all her elementary school friends about how her mother had cut her when she was a little baby and that's why her thumb was disfigured.  I wondered whether I would ever get over this.  I wondered whether she would ever forgive me. 

As I wondered, I sat Darla up, looked at her and kissed her chubby cheeks.  She clasped her little hands together and gave me one of her big grins.  My heart ached for her.  She didn't realize she was smiling at the enemy.   I wished she would just yell at me and get it over with.  She just continued to smile.

I had only clipped three of her fingers and left the other one's long.  I couldn't run the risk of hurting her even more.  As her nails dig into me when she eats, I just assume I'm paying penance for my sin.    

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Today's Top 5 "I Feel Guilty Because..."

1. I sometimes fake laugh to get Darla to giggle.  She'd feel so dumb if she knew!

2. I think everyone at Starbucks thinks I'm a horrible mom for talking on the phone and typing while Darla babbles next to me.

3. I have to drive long distances with Darla in the back seat.

4. I kept her out two hours past her bedtime. 

5. She has a cut of unknown origin on her finger.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Mom Time

This story gives Darla and I a headache
Nowaday, I lose everything.  My card isn't an exception.  This is why I made sure to have cash on hand in order to pay for the Mommy and Me movie (Super 8) that I had plan on going to with my new mom friend.  I left it in the car so I would know where it was when I left the next morning. 

Darla was strapped in her seat and calm.  We were ready to roll.  I looked down in the cupholder to make certain the cash was there. 

It was gone.

I tore the car apart.  Sweat rolled down my temples.  I knew I only had a finite amount of time before Darla grew frustrated and started to scream.  I threw all the dry cleaning on the floor.  I knocked plastic cups out of their holders. I threw paper everywhere.  I even checked the glove compartment (clearly, the most unlikely place because it's the most logical spot to put cash). 

I called Greg, not knowing what else to do.

"I took out money so I would have cash today and I can't find it anywhere," I said.

"Ohhhhhh...Was it a few bills?" He asked.

"You didn't," I said.

"I thought it was a bad idea to leave cash sitting out like that, so I picked it up on my way to work," He said.

"I have no money!" I said.

"Sorry," he said. 

This was when Darla started to cry and I realized I was going to be over 20 minutes late meeting my new friend, whose cell phone number I didn't have because we'd only ever emailed each other.  I remembered the humongous bag of change that sat on the floor of my car.  I was just going to have to bite the bullet and use those.

I raced over to the the theater, reaching into the backseat every few seconds to shove the pacifier back in Darla's screaming mouth.  I, panic stricken, rolled her stroller into the theater and apologized profusely to my friend.

"One please," I said to the person selling the tickets.

"That's $10.50," she said.

"I'm so sorry about what I have to do, " I said as I started counting out stacks of four.  "One, two, three, four....Crap, I don't know if I have enough...five, six, six seventy five, seven, eight twenty five, nine...How much was it?...ten, ten fifty."

Mortified and ashamed, I collected my ticket.

"I'm so sorry," I said to my new friend.

She waved her hand as if to say get over it, but I couldn't.

We watched the movie and, after, she bowed out of lunch (which I would've had to pay for in quarters anyway).  She claimed she had a stomach ache.

I knew better and worried the whole way home that I had lost a potential friend.  I decided to write her an email in which I lied and said: I am usually far more put together.

She replied back that in Fiji everyone is late and they have something called Fiji Time.   We're on Mommy Time, she reasoned.  She then moved on to tell me that Ian Ziering (Steve from 90210) was the celebrity actor the woman in our mom group was referring to as being her husband.

I told her I had figured that out through a one handed google search within an hour of leaving the Mommy and Me group. 

My flakiness from that morning wasn't acknowledged any further.  All was right with the world.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The McKenna Family's Road Trip

Mama’s Losin’ It 
Thank you Mama Kat for the inspiration!

Kids wear sweatshirts tied around their waists and stand in front of beaming parents who “accidentally” dress in matching khakis and white collared shirts.  These are the pictures that sit on mantles or line the walls that lead up to the second levels of Middle America houses.  They stand next to Anne Getty calendars and mugs that read, “I don’t do mornings.”  The people who take these photos are the ones who store memories of family vacations in the parts of their brain marked “precious” or “beautiful.”  Parents remember the orgasmic rush of the seemingly bottomless Grand Canyon.  Kids only have visions of lines, boxes and zigzags burned into their retinas from their Gameboys.  Families look back on childhood and laugh at how the kids incessantly asked, “Are we there yet,” in nasally, lethargic voices that pinched eardrums with obnoxious cuteness.  They were probably on their way to Florida or Grandma’s house.
These memories are mundane and fade quickly.  The trips frequently orchestrated by my dad still burn bright in my mind and I can only hope to create vacations half as memorable for Darla. 
We would travel to Julian to pick up an apple pie.  We would trek to Anderson’s to enjoy their famous split pea soup. The highlight and motivation for every trip was food and usually required at least an hour’s worth of driving.  One of his favorite vacation spots was Knott’s Berry Farm.  He would throw out a net to catch as many of his twelve kids that he could and toss us in his Station Wagon.  Typically, this number hovered around eight, as the oldest ones had the good sense to hide or move out of the house.  

With all his kids loaded up, he drove North on highway 5 as two layers of brothers and sisters endured two to three hours of sore knees, numb limbs and a mild claustrophobic panic.  We might’ve ignored the spasms in our legs had we been allowed to play music, but my dad said he would get in an accident if we turned on the radio.  How could he be expected to pay attention to the road AND sing along to Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline?”  We respected his desire to not kill us, so we stared out the window or at his comb over to pass the time.  Usually, right when I thought I was about to have a panic attack because Sarah had been pinching my arms for the past two hours, we would pull off the freeway.
Entrance into Knott’s parking lot was just as long and tedious as our journey to it.  Cars slowly snaked through the packed parking lots hunting down a spot.  We eight pressed our noses against the window of the car and watched ravenously as the rides swooped, jiggled and plunged.  I would hear the sound of fading screams and my heart would fall.  I wasn’t destined to enjoy the rides or even step foot in the park.  Despite the fact that we traveled there bi-weekly, we only went inside a handful of times.   
As my dad reasoned, “Why da hell am I gonna pay $400 for all yous kids to sit on rides when you can just experience da lord’s splendor every day.”  This came from a man who would later spend $60 on fresh squeezed orange juice in one sitting.  His frugality was selective.
We had made the trip not for the rides, but for the long deceased Mrs. Knott, whose restaurant was typically a side note on anyone else’s vacation.  Before we could make it to the restaurant, however, we had to go through the ritual of showing the parking attendant his two-toed foot so we could park in the handicapped spot.  A disability placard would’ve remedied this need, but he derived too much pleasure showing it off. 
My dad and my sister Sarah
Here is how it would typically go down:
As we entered the parking lot, my dad quickly spotted the parking attendant.  He slowly drove over to her. The high, hot sun beat down on her large straw hat and ray-ban sunglasses; beads of sweat ran down her abnormally tan nose.  The woman glared at my dad as he interrupted the steady flow of traffic.
Our mom, who up until that moment, hadn’t said a word, decided to speak up, “please, Frank.  Not today.”   
He, intentionally ignoring the woman’s irritation and our mom’s request, waved the parking attendant over.  Instead of beckoning with his index finger, like most people would, he utilized his middle finger.  The gesture, which crosses all cultural and linguistic boundaries, told her, “I’m not dicking around.  Come talk to me right now.”
The previously agitated parking attendant shifted gears and cautiously approached the car.
I, six years old and in my usual spot on my sister Mary’s lap, screamed silently. I knew I wasn’t the only one who was afraid of what was going to happen next. I fidgeted with the frayed hem of my daisy dukes and kept my face turned away from the parking attendant; I nervously ripped out the string until it began to make tiny cuts in my hand.  That pain was more tolerable than the anxious anticipation.
Our dad said, “Sweetheart, it seems we have a problem here.  Err, I’m a man whose got a lot to deal with, like da twerlve kids sitting in da back.”
It didn’t matter that this point failed to drive the story forward in any way and there weren’t twelve of us in the backseat.  As long as we roughly looked like that amount, everything was cool.  The woman peered in the window and was confronted by an unkempt, bitter group of pale, freckled, buck-toothed kids.  She probably wondered why he was showing us off.  
He paused a moment both for dramatic effect and to let the parking attendant process the information.
“The reason I tell ya dis, sweetheart, is because I have a bit of a praablem with my foot.  I had a little boomp boomp and, well, I can’t walk too good.  Here, I’ll let ya see.”   
He quickly threw the car in park and we all watched with horror as he pulled off his black tennis shoe.  He peeled off multiple layers of torn, black socks to expose the most memorable foot that parking attendant had ever seen.
He thrust his exposed appendage through the window, right under the parking attendant’s nose.  (For how round he was, he was astonishingly limber).  The bright sun illuminated the foot perfectly and the moist puss and scabs glistened. It was a glorious body part, peppered with scar tissue and gashes.
The woman looked as if she were going to faint and I am pretty sure I saw her gag.  She wanted us out of her face and she waved us into the disability section as fast as she could. 
I took a sidelong look at her as we passed and saw she was holding her head in her hands.  Her eyes were squeezed shut as if she were trying to erase the gory image from her head as we pulled into the parking spot.  We headed into the restaurant.
Groups of tourists wrapped around the waiting area in the log cabin-esque restaurant.  I would’ve assumed they had made the trip just to eat like we did, but their sunburnt noses, souvenir Knott’s Berry Farm cups and large plastic pencils/piggy banks told a much different, far more exciting tail than my own. The only thing we had to look forward to was watching our dad devour her famous fried chicken, fluorescent pink rhubarb and mashed potatoes.
Once seated, we’d listen to the lighthearted, high-pitched screams of the adventure seekers faintly in the background as we watched our dad rip into heavily breaded fried chicken with intense passion.  As I looked around the restaurant, I could see he enthralled all the other patrons.  Were they admiring how he was able to spread chicken all over his face?  Or, maybe, they were wondering how he got so much butter on the back of his neck.
My dad could lose himself in a meal.  He was a prize-winning gurgitator that made Kobayashi look like a snail and outshone fireworks on the Fourth of July. (One of my brother, Patrick’s, friend specifically requested that he be put on alert when my mom purchased corn. He wanted to be sure he could make it over to our house in time to stare at my dad with wonder.  A kernel could somehow shoot across the room, make a lap around the dinner table and wind up on his forehead in a matter of seconds).  Us kids, however, had grown bored of his skills and immune to the fascination of this sight. We wanted to ride roller coasters, not watch grease drip down our dad’s chin; we could do that at home.
             After fifteen minute, he had left a mess that spread all over the table, his face and a five-foot radius of his chair.  He would pay the bill and usher us all back in the car.  He wanted to get us home in time for dinner.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Mother: Protector/Caretaker/Ghost Hunter

Thank you to Christine from All About Momsense and Nadine from Musings...By Light of the Moon for setting up the lovely, engrossing May Mom Blog Tour.  It has been a joy reading all the submissions and a true honor to be a part of the cool club called motherhood.   

I barely got to hang out with Darla the day she was born.  Our hospital room was overwhelmed by visitors, nurses, first pees, adrenaline, hearing tests and even a stray delivery man (who bounded into the room without knocking while I was getting a catheter put in).

Once everyone had gone home, all I wanted to do was sit in the glider and stare at Darla.  Since I was in the hospital, uninterrupted child-adoration wasn't allowed.  Two minutes after everyone left, a nurse came in.

"I have to draw blood," she said.

 I moaned.  "I can't take another needle. I'm so tired of feeling pain."

The nurse shook her head.  "This one's for the baby."

With relief, I replied, "Thank God."

As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I wanted to punch myself in the face.

"Why the hell would I prefer my baby to go through pain than myself?" I asked Greg.

He shrugged, too preoccupied by Darla's screams.  She had just been pricked with a needle and the nurse was drawing out blood from her foot.  All I could think about was how that was the exact wrong thing to say.

That was the first and last time that the fear of Darla feeling pain didn't faze me.  What a good ole carefree day that was.   Since that day, I have become a mom and been on constant "Is Darla in pain, sad or hurt" watch.  Her pain hurts more than my own to me.  I touch her head and imagine she has torticolis because I think I feel a flat spot.  She cries, and I think that she is in tremendous amount of pain. She gets her vaccines and I'm shaking even though she barely cried for a minute.  (Once they gave her the sweet, oral medicine, she was very calm).

I'm so worried about her all the time that I can barely sleep.  For weeks, I lay awake at night, staring into her bedside bassinet.  I watch her stomach move up and down with each breath.  I touch her cheeks to make sure they were warm.  I secure her swaddle frequently so it wouldn't end up over her face.  I do this to make sure she's OK, but also to protect my own heart.  Every time I think her world is anything but perfect, my heart breaks a little.  If anything serious were to happen to her, my world would completely fall apart.

Three months into motherhood and gone are the days of holding vigil at her bassinet.  She's outgrown it and punches the sides of it with her chubby little fists whenever I put her in.  She's like a fat man in a Miada.

Now, I watch and listen to Darla through a gray screened monitor.  This is a nightmare and has brought a whole new level of fear into my life.  The eerie creeks and far off barking dogs that the microphone picks up coupled with the dark shadows and lonely looking baby resting in a huge crib have a horror movie quality to them.  I hear a whistling howl and I think of The Ring.  I see her hand move slowly and I think of The Ring.  Basically, everything about the monitor makes me think of The Ring.   I look at the screen both to see if she's breathing and to ensure that ghosts aren't whisking her away.

If I'm going to be honest, I could very well shut off the monitor and still be able to hear her very clearly in the next room over.  (I can even hear her sigh.  Our house is that small). But, I'm just not going to do that.  Especially now that I've recently come to believe that "ghost hunter" has been added to the motherhood job description.  I'll be damned if I'm not watching the monitor when the bogey man spirits off my daughter.  I want to be able to catch it in the act and recite some incantations that will send it out of the house.

Hopefully, I'll capture the ghosts or else get enough sleep so I can get over this fear before she's old enough to say, "mom, I'm afraid.  I think there's a ghost in my closet."

I don't want my reply to have to be, "I think there's one in there, too."

Don't forget to hop over to read Allana's submission at Blog and Vlog Musings tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Today's Top 5 "I Feel Guilty Because..."

1. After a long night of crying every time the pacifier fell out of her mouth, Darla is having a very calm day.

2. I forewent the mommy and me group experience for some solitary mommy and me time.

3. I should be doing something more productive with her nap time.

4. I bought her a dress with money that might have been used to pay the gas bill.

5. Darla is the only person I've talked to today.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Smiling Self-Esteem Booster

Ever since I was in kindergarten, I've had incredibly low self-esteem. I spent most of my high school years asking every person I met or knew, "do you hate me?"  This was quickly followed by an, "I'm sorry."  I'm amazed that I even had friends given that I literally didn't know any words beyond those six.  If I could curl myself up like a rollie-pollie, I would've. 

Over the years, I've slowly acquired further reaching verbal skills, poise and self-love.  Externally, I've been on the up and up.  In the back of my mind, however, I've endured a nagging doubt about my worth.  Every social interaction has been peppered with self-doubt and flagellation.  In private, I analyze every part of myself.  Am I a good enough writer?  Does my hair look alright?  How long before everyone finds out I'm a total fraud? 

All that doubt goes away when I see this face:

How could I feel bad about myself when she looks at me like that?  I'm raised up from the mire of self-doubt and become the funniest, most intelligent, beautiful and important human being in the world.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Today's Top 5 "I Feel Guilty Because..."

1. Baby Darla is sleeping for longer stretches at night.  I shouldn't be allowed to have 6 (albeit non-consecutive) hours of sleep.

2. Sometimes, Darla sleeps until 9:00 AM after a prolonged 6:30 feeding and I sleep with her.

3. I'm not playing with Darla right now.

4. The house doesn't look very clean right now and I'm on the computer rather than fixing that.

5. I put Darla in a vibrating chair and allow that to calm her from time to time.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Just Give Us a Reason

My sister once saw a middle aged man making lewd gestures at two young girls while she was stopped at a red light.  She yelled for the girls to look away and honked her horn to get the pervert to stop.  He was too absorbed to even hear her.  Once the light turned green, she pulled up right next to him and got out of the car.

"I'm coming for you," she yelled at him.

He took one look at her and ran.  She chased after him.  She was ready to beat him up real good.  Unfortunately, he got away.

I understand where she's coming from.

In a fifteen minute drive, my imagination goes wild and I think of twenty different horrible scenarios (none of which I want to repeat because it makes me too upset to even think about) in which I have to save Darla.  I wish I didn't have these thoughts, but I have to live with them.  I just call them my security guard boot camp ; a mental obstacle course so I can best protect my cub.  Nothing will catch me off guard.

I envision myself jumping out of the car, my fists turning into knives and saving my baby.  I see myself picking up a full grown man and throwing him into a dumpster.  I watch as I tackle a line backer.    

If there were ever a tie that binds between myself and my seven sisters (pictured above) together, it's the desire to want to beat up anyone who messes with kids (any kids).  I've always had this strong desire to take down such men or women, but it's only intensified now that I'm a mother.  Before, I would have equal measures sadness and anger.  Now, I only see red.  I walk around with my claws out, ready to pounce on anyone who looks at me funny.  I think in my head, "give me a reason" over and over again.  This, to me, is what makes me a true mom.  This is motherhood.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The More the Merrier

I spent much of my adoloscence, young adult life and mid 20's actively struggling with an eating disorder.  With poundage varying within a 25 lb radius of the weight I've maintained since being in recovery, I'd wax between over-eating, starving and over-exercising.  The end result was that I lived a life of chaos as I ran away from life's problems at top speed and a steep incline on the gym's tredmill.  In an attempt to make sense of my troubled life (from childhood on) I developed an unhealthy obsession with my weight. If the scale went up, I was a failure.  If the scale went down, I wasn't as big of a shithead as I thought I was.  I believed my weight was an appropriate barometer by which I could gauge my success.

As a mother, I have found I still adhere to this belief.  Now, however, tipping the scales is the object of the game and the focal point of my obsession is my baby.  My own body is let off the hook for awhile.  

During her first visit to the pediatrician, Doctor Chan told me that she was still 3 ounces under birth weight.  He gave me a goal to work towards.  She needed to be at least 8 ounces heavier by the following week, which was when I was to bring her in to be weighed.

I left the doctor's office a wreck, worried that I had been slowly starving my baby.  There I was, thinking everything was hunky dory, shoving my boob in her mouth and imagining she was getting stuffed.  My inadequacy was more than I could handle, which was unnacceptable for my perfectionist brain.  I vowed to remedy the situaton quickly and made it my sole mission to turn Darla into the fattest baby on the block.

Her bi-hourly feedings were amped up to hourly feedings.  Darla was more than happy to oblige by eating whenever I offered food to her, so she quickly accepted the new feeding regiment.

By the following week, I was certain she had lost another pound.  I showed up at the doctor's office twenty minutes early and nervously tapped the toe of my oxfords on the tile in the hallway.

All my worry was for nothing.  When the nurse weighed her, she was up 19 ounces from the week before.  My chest puffed up with pride.  I began to acknowledge the rolls on her arms and thighs.  I applauded myself.  I had a thriving baby.

In the weeks that followed, I daily texted pictures to my family to show of a new chin she'd developed or the fat that puffed up on her wrists, which made it appear as if she were wearing a too-tight bracelet.  There was something so primal about these acts.  It's such a basic maternal instinct, spanning centuries, to fatten up your child in order to brave the wild.  Although the invention of contained heating units and refrigeration has done away with the need to accumilate fat stores to survive sub zero weather, the tradition remains.

Yet, I have found that some women don't want to adhere to the seemingly natural inclination to fatten up one's offspring.  Rather, they want their children to follow in the footsteps of heroin chic models and liposuctioned reality stars.  They envision a future for their children in which they carry the torch of their mother's neurosis.  Not me, I would never wish that ever tightening spiral of shame and self-loathing on my sweet Baby D.

In one mom support group, I heard a woman worrying over the rolls on her childs thighs. "I really hope I'm not over-feeding her."

In my book, there is no such thing.  A baby can eat as much as she wants whenever she wants and it still isn't enough.  When it comes to fat rolls, my mantra is "the more the merrier."  As far as Darla's concerned, her body is a veritable gala of chunkiness.

I watched with pride (and sadness/melancholy) as Darla grew out of newborn clothes and into 0 to 3 month attire.  I knew we were making progress.

This was all confirmed at our two month visit.  I speculated, before walking in, that Darla weighed a little over 11 lbs.  Needless to say, I was elated when she weighed in at 12 lbs 8oz.  I was even more excited when I found out she was in the 90th percentile.

A perectionist at heart, I rejoiced at my stellar performance.  But I can't leave well enough alone.  A 90 is an A-, which I can't consider an A.  I won't rest until Darla achieves that 100% or, in other words, she achieves an A+ in the weight division.  

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Evolution of a Darla Nursery

When I envisioned her nursery, my mind went blank.  So, I just started collecting pieces.

Our landlord had all the floors in the house painted green.  They horrified me at first, but they grew on me as time went on.

Blank mind and canvas
Although I was falling for the green, I knew I needed to hunt down a large rug to tone it down a bit.  I found the perfect one at Ikea.  I began to wonder if Beatle Juice was an appropriate design inspiration for a nursery.

Ikea rug, Target table, Restoration Hardware lamp
I ransacked our house.  Anything that was good, went into her room.  Our room may have been sparse and ugly, but Darla's was starting to look a little chic.  

Chair and dresser are thrift store finds and curtains are Target
I found the perfect crib at Restoration Hardware.  It took my breath away and I knew that baby Darla needed this heirloom piece.  My mom and dad were going to buy the crib together, but my dad cancelled his credit card after my mom had already placed the order for it.  She had to put down her card to pay for it.  This happened after she already sent him a check for half of the crib.  My dad, somehow, had made a profit. The crib ended up being a gift from Darla's grandmas.

Restoration Hardware crib and bedding

I had everything I needed to make her nursery perfect, but I didn't have the eye to piece it all together.  So, after Darla was born, my sisters Kathy and Bridget came in and worked their magic.  The finished product is a unique, colorful, precious room fit for a Darla.  

Warm, comfortable and inspiring
Unfortunately, since I can barely sleep when Darla is right in front of me, this room has become a fancy changing and feeding room.  She sleeps in our sparse, unchic room where I can keep an eye on her.  

Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Family is Born

On March 3, 2011, / braved a natural birth and had a Darla.  This is my battle story.

I thought my water broke at 9:30 PM on March 2.  (It turns out it was just a high leak, but that was neither here nor there in the end).  I was ready to finally start timing my contractions without fearing I was clocking my gas.   They came every four minutes and lasted anywhere from one to one and a half minutes.  Even if I wasn't in real labor yet, at least I knew they would have to induce me since I was pretty sure my water had just broken. (They won't let you go longer than a day without going into labor for fear that bacteria will pass through to the baby).

I texted my sisters and called my mom to give them an update.  I lay down on the couch and tried to watch TV, but couldn't focus.  I was going to meet my baby soon.  How could I be expected to pay attention to The Office with that kind of thought rolling around in my head? I wondered whether we would have anything to talk about. Would we have similar interests?  Would she like the same music as I?

By the time my sister, Bridget, and my mom arrived, I had taken a shower, rolled around the bed in significant pain for a few hours and ordered Greg to clean the house.  I had even gotten up a few times myself to organize some random piles of junk that were scattered about.  I was more nervous about my family thinking I was a slob than the potential increase in pain.

Once they walked in the door, I was ready to usher them right back out so we could go to the hospital. I couldn't bare the thought of having to ride in the car if the pain got worse.  It seemed unlikely that I could even sit still long enough should the pain, which already felt as if someone were squeezing and wringing out my uterus while I was having the worst cramps in my life, intensify.

As is never the case with me, I was packed (had been for at least a month) and ready to leave.  We hustled out, drove over in two cars and made it to the hospital in 8 minutes.

By 1:30 AM, I walked into the hospital, leaving Greg to figure out what to do with the car.  I toddled, with my mom in tow, right to the entrance to the maternity ward.  I stopped.

"I don't know how I'm supposed to go about doing this.  What do I say to them?" I asked my mom.

She shrugged.

I pushed the intercom button and said, "I think I'm in labor."  I was embarrassed about having to say this in front of the family in the waiting room.  In my head, I thought it would be mortifying to walk back out in front of them after the told me I was still in false labor.  They would probably say, "look at that jackass.  I bet she wouldn't know a contraction if it kicked her in the face."

The door buzzed and I pushed it open.  I stood at the counter in front of five nurses, holding my pillow awkwardly.  I waited.  I walked a step closer and one of the nurses finally looked up at me.

"I think I'm in labor," I repeated, as if she wouldn't remember buzzing me in.

She took my already-filled-out paperwork and ushered me into triage where I was given a gown.  They laid me down on the bed and administered the stress test.  My contractions were pretty hard, but when they checked me I was only 1 centimeter and not effaced by much.

I was dejected.  I thought all my hard work should be worth more than that.  I felt cheep and, apparently, so did the hospital.  They told me that I could either lay on the crappy triage bed for the next four hours until Dr Tomayo came in at 6:00 or go home.  I wanted to die and started shaking (and continued shaking throughout the rest of labor).  I didn't want to have to walk past that family sitting in the waiting room.  I pleaded my case.

"I can't go home.  Please don't send me home," I said.  "I know I'm going to get through this labor quickly.  In my family, when we get to four centimeters we go to ten really fast.  Please."

A few minutes later they had me talk to the doctor in between contractions.

"You're doing the Bradley Method, right?" She said.  "What would you like out of this labor."

"I want to be able to get in the shower and move around freely.  I don't want to me stuck on the monitor for the entire labor," I said.

"You don't want to labor at home?" She asked.

"I can't go home. 100% of the 21 births in my immediate family (12 for my mom, the rest for my sisters) have all been the same.  It takes us awhile to get to four centimeters, but once we get there we race through labor.  If I go home, I'm going to have to come back in a couple of hours," I said.

Ten minutes later, I was wheeled into a large delivery room and immediately got into the bed while my mom, Bridget and Greg sat around it.  The contractions were getting harder and I worked through them.  I rolled from side to side.  I tried to shower, but it was too cold. I was pissed about that one because it was so hard to dry off and get dressed.  I went to the bathroom frequently, supported by Greg.  Between contractions I closed my eyes, feigning sleep.  At one point, I started throwing up.

Greg stood by my side the entire time.  When I would roll over, he would pick up his chair, my barf trash can, a cup of ice and a wet towel and carry it all to the other side of the bed.  I squeezed his hand when the contractions came on.  He turned away from me, once, to adjust the volume on the music.  I reached out for his hand and it wasn't there.  I yelled for him.  I had never felt so alone.

In the midst of the madness Mary materialized out of the darkness.  I beamed up at her, relieved.  I wasn't expecting her to come.  My support system was complete.

I looked over at my sisters and mom sitting on the couch.  Their eyes were all closed.  I felt really guilty for being so quiet.  In my head, I assumed they were wondering, "why in the hell did we come? This is so boring."  I wished I could entertain them more.

Suddenly, a disturbing image popped in my head.  A video of a female who swings her newborn baby around dangerously played over and over in my head in between and during contractions.  I was getting increasingly upset by it and couldn't stop thinking about it.  I didn't know where the "stop" button was, so I had to just deal with it.

At 3:30, the nurse came in to check me.  I was only two centimeters and 50% effaced after two hours of hard labor.  I felt defeated.  I wasn't going to make it.  I let fear over take me.

"I can't do it.  I need the drugs," I moaned.

"You can do it.  We know you can," my support team said.  Or, at least, they said variations of that.

"I know I can," I said through gritted teeth.  "I just don't want to."

My family continued to encourage me, but I insisted.

Finally, someone addressed my request.  "You can't get it until four centimeters," Bridget said.  She had heard that once.  We had previously discussed how she could help me get through the labor naturally.  My only request was to hold me at bay for as long as she could. She helped me over this major hurdle.

The nurse, confused, asked, "did you want an epidural?"

I was in the middle of a contraction and didn't respond.  She took my lack of response as a "no."  She left the room and I continued to labor.  At 6:00, when Dr Tomayo checked me, I was only at four.

"Can I please get that epidural now?"  I begged.

She looked shocked and spoke sternly to the nurse.  "Why haven't you gotten her an epidural?"

"I didn't even know she wanted it," the nurse said defensively, just as shocked as the doctor that I felt they were holding out on me.

They immediately set me up with an IV, set it to the fastest speed and took my blood.  Cold washed into my arm.  I had to wait for the bag to empty and the blood work to come back before I could get my epidural.

I cried and moaned my way through the hour as contractions came one on top of the other.  It was nonstop.  When they would start, I would sit up in bed, grab Greg's head and pull his hair.  He stood there, completely unfazed.  I buried my head in his neck, biting him and repeating, "I can't, I can't, I can't."

After contractions, in the few seconds I had to breath, I said, "I'm so sorry I am being so loud."  I worried I would scare the other laboring women.

At 7:00, the new nurse, a sweet woman, checked me.  I was at eight.  There was some truth to the saying, "when we get to four we go to ten" that I had heard over and over again throughout my pregnancy.  The nurses rushed to prep for the arrival of our baby.

My sisters saw them turn on the warmer and bring in the swaddling blankets.  Both began to cry. They remembered what all this pain was about.  They were going to meet a brand new baby girl and it was going to be amazing.  It was all becoming real.

I still wanted my epidural.  I didn't trust I was almost done.  I looked up at the nurse, "I want an epidural."

She scrunched her face up, "Are you sure?"  I began to doubt my decision.

My desire to do it all naturally solidified when I heard the anesthesiologist come bounding into the room at 7:15.            

"Alright, everyone clear out.  I need to be alone with her for 20 minutes." the hulking woman said.

Panic ripped through me.  My support network was going to leave my side AND I was going to have a needle shoved in my spine AND I would have to be alone with this monster?  What if the baby was born and she was the only one there to witness it?

"I don't know if I want it," I whimpered.

"Well," the woman said, "If you don't want it, I have another woman who does."  She stormed out of the  room.  You would think she was volunteering and not actually one of the highest paid individuals at the hospital.

At 7:20, the nurse checked me.  I was at 10.

"Where is the doctor," I yelled.

"She is 40 feet away," said Mary, an answer which I accepted.

At 7:30, I felt like I had to poo and began to wonder where the doctor was.

"She is 20 feet away," said Greg.  Again, I accepted it.

"I am going to poo," I repeated over and over again and then it hit me, "I am pushing.  I can't help it."

The nurse said, "go ahead.  That's fine."

I began to push weakly, waiting for the doctor to come.  

At 7:45, Doctor Tomayo came in and was put in splash resistant gear.

At 7:52, I was in the position and pushing hard.

"Her heads right here, you can push however you want," said Dr Tomayo.  Bridget didn't believe her and she looked.  There was the baby's head.

I pushed and felt a ring of fire.  I pushed myself up to the head of the bed, trying to escape the burning.  Then, something Bridget said about her own labor popped into my head.  She said, "I realized I could push through the pain quickly or slowly.  I chose to push quickly."

I bared down and, after three counts of ten, the pain dissipated. I felt a complete loss of pressure and then our screaming Darla was placed on my chest.  Our baby was here and she was absolutely perfect.  We all cried.  I was so overwhelmed by the power of her energy that my face contorted in a tearless cry, a shit eating grin and awe.  The overall effect wasn't pretty, but it was significant.  The pain meant nothing.  All there was was her.

And she was crying in the warmer, ready to bring immense chaos, exhaustion and pure joy into her parents lives.  They swaddled her and handed her to me. I held her and we posed for our first picture as a family. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Baby Bump Chronicles in a Nut Shell: the third trimester

Week 29- We finally found someone to rent the loft.  They graciously give us three days to clear out.  At seven months, we found a place to move into, packed up, repainted the loft and transported everything we owned to the new house.  We, also, managed to squeeze in our last New Year's Eve dinner as non-parents.  In the back of my mind, I was ashamed that I hadn't listened to the doctor's orders, but really wanted to move away from all the crackheads, partying college students and drug dealers.  I thought Darla would understand.

I had been having vivid the entire pregnancy, but they had become more anxiety inducing in the last trimester.  The one from this week was about me forgetting to feed Darla for three days.  I had this dream about four more times before the end of my pregnancy. 

Week 30- I went into nesting overload and unpacked our entire house in one afternoon.  I couldn't sit still.

At this point, I realized that, although I was able to do such heavy manual labor, I didn't have the energy or attention span for a full-time job.  With my sister, my boss Erin's, blessing, I cut down to part-time.  I had freed up some time to sleep.  

Week 31- My sisters along with our sister-in-law Michelle planned my baby shower at the Yacht Club in San Diego.  Darla acquired the chicest nursery furniture imagineable and the best outfits.

I thought back to that day months ago, when I went to Target thinking I could pick out all her nursery supplies in that one trip.  I looked at the cribs, got dizzy and ended up crying in the baby section.  I was grateful I had been able to make it this far with only a few more meltdowns. 

Week 32- I brought all my baby shower loot home, looked at it all in a pile on the floor of her nursery, felt my head explode and went to sleep.  I'd wait until that last few weeks to organize it all.

I had a private celebration since I had made it to the week at which her chance of survival, if she had been born early, was at 85%.  I had kept my eye on that prize since I went into the doctor with contractions from working too hard.

Greg and I started our Bradley Method Birthing Class.  I had decided to not hire a Doula AND have an unmedicated birth.  Greg had convinced me he would step up his game and be my birthing coach.  I am skeptical.  My sisters and my mom all have the same reaction.  They all said, "good luck" and laughed.

I hoped I would meet some friends at the birthing class.  I remembered too late that I had long since lost my ability to make friends when the class ended and the only person I had spoken to was Greg.

Week 33- I called up a customer service agent for Restoration Hardware and chewed her out because Darla's crib hadn't arrived yet.  Suddenly, I, who usually treated sales associates with the utmost respect, had turned into a high maintenance mother who needed everything to be perfect for her little princess.  She offered me a 10% discount, which I accepted.

I had another anxiety dream.  This time, it was about how Greg picked up Darla by the ankles.  I discussed this one with my sister Joanne.  She told me that I needed to sit Greg down and tell him why it's not ok to pick up a baby by her ankles.  I did as she said.  Greg wasn't pleased.

Week 34- During my bi-weekly check up, I found out that Doctor Yun was 33 weeks pregnant.  Her scrubs hid her pregnancy well; I made mental note of this for future pregnancies.

Her hostile attitude from my first visit made more sense.  She was in the first trimester, too, and was probably as miserable as I was.  I felt closer to her and was sad she wouldn't be there at my birth.  I finally was comfortable talking about going through labor without an epidural once I found out her last labor had been unmedicated.

She gave me the best information.  She said, "It doesn't hurt as much as being hit by a truck, but you will probably be able to go without medication if you're willing to be in a whole lot of pain."

The crib finally arrived and the delivery crew assembled it.  I tried to manuever the furniture around the room as best I could with a basketball shoved under my shirt, but felt I had lost all my ability to make aesthetic decissions.

Week 35- I managed to speak up during our birth class.  I spoke about how my mom had twelve kids, six of which she had naturally.  I impressed everyone there, but still hadn't made a friend.  The girl I had thought was the pick of the litter (an elementary school teacher whose sweater looked much like my own) barely returned my smile, but Greg informed me that he had spoken to her husband in the bathroom.  I hoped that, with this in, we might make it to the chit chat point.

Week 36- I had my third and final baby shower.  I wanted to keep it simple, so requested that everyone give me their favorite book.  My mom came up for the shower and helped me organize my closets and the baby's drawers.

I spent a lot of time trying to not think about the pain of labor, walking with my only pregnant friend and reading birthing books.

I went to what would end up being my last class and still had no friends.

Week 37- I had made it to full term without any problems.  I planned on going into labor that weekend after my sister's wedding in San Diego.

Although I had zero energy and felt my stomach tightening throughout the night, I didn't have the baby in San Diego.  In fact, I didn't start having really painful contractions until I made it back to Los Angeles.

I couldn't sleep that night.  I felt as if I had incredibly bad gas and horrendous period cramps.  I timed the pains, but they were too sporadic to mean anything.  I was nervous that I had been timing my gas and put away my timer.

When the pains didn't go away by that afternoon, I went to the doctor's office where they gave me another stress test.  The nurse didn't realize the machine was broken until 20 minutes had passed.  I wanted to kick her in the teeth for making me deal with that discomfort for nothing.  After they made sure the machine was working, they confirmed that I was having contractions.  Doctor Yun came in and checked me.  I was certain I was five centimeters dilated and fully effaced.  Quite the contrary.  I was 0 centimeters dilated and 0% effaced.  She assured me, though, that I would probably be in labor within three days.

Three days came and went.  It was my birthday and I was thoroughly depressed that I wasn't holding my daughter in my arms.

Week 38- I was still in false labor and had slowly grown used to the pain.  I continued to walk with my pregnant friend, hoping that it might help me go into real labor.

Greg had finally been offered a job, which brought us both a lot of relief.

I tried to go about my life as I normally would and even helped Greg pick out work clothes two days after he had been offered the job.  I was pissed off, very uncomfortable and at the end of my rope.  I sat in the dressing rooms, trying to pay attention to him trying on clothes, but could barely see straight.  I thought the contractions were getting stronger, but chalked it up to wishful thinking.

At home that night, I worked on my mom's taxes until my computer shut down and erased all my work.  I decided I had reached my limit.  I formally declared I was sick of being pregnant, felt a pop in my stomach and a small rush of liquid.  I was pretty sure my water had broken.  I texted my mom and sisters about this development and started timing my contractions.  I was relieved that I had gotten my haircut the day before.