Thursday, January 29, 2009

Labor & Delivery...

The only thing worse than birthing pains is the incessant background noise of my mother-in-law arguing with just about everybody in the hospital, (i.e. the most horrible place on earth according to her). The anaesthegeolist almost swore at her. I could see the f-bomb seething at his mouth. He gave her a look that screamed, 'Get the fuck out of here biotch, before I inject this huge ass needle into your behind to make you shut the %^&* up.'  I guess I should clarify what predicated this hostile situation. 

6:30 am. My mother-in-law (hereafter referred to as Ms. Barbara, a southern way of addressing your elders) and sister-in-law (Lily) arrived at our cramped NYC apt after driving for thirteen hours from South Carolina. They both wanted to attend the birth, but Ms. Barbara was delaying it because she wanted to attend two other births in her hometown. FYI: She is a doula and 'lives for' homebirths. Needless to say, she was extremely disappointd when she found out that I was planning to deliver in 'God forsaken, germ-infested place where doctors think they're gods and disrespect the family's wishes'. She's only a little biased against the medical establishment. (I hope you note the sarcasm. This is a woman who sends me email newsletters and petitions to stop killing babies in utero almost every week.) Point being, after many rounds of phone calls, telling her that the baby was practically waving 'hello' down there (I was 4 cm and 100 percent effaced), she finally got in the car and drove, all the while crying of course that she was missing the births in SC. Coincidentally, one woman gave birth while Ms. Barbara was on the road. I knew that if I didn't deliver that baby in 24 hours, all hell would break loose. I wouldn't stop hearing about this for many years to come. In fact, when she arrived, I think I heard her say, 'If I had just listened to what God was prompting my heart to do, I would've been there and not missed the birth.' Little did she know that at....

9am. My water broke. Correction: At first it was a trickle. I thought I was peeing in my pants. After not sleeping for the past two nights, I thought I was actually wetting myself. Degrading since I never peed my pants as a child, I thought. I excused myself and realized that the pads were soaking fast. As I tried to change one more, a warm gush of liquid oozed out down my leg. Everyone screamed the obvious, "Your water's breaking!" Holy shit! I hadn't even packed my things. I waddle over to my bed to try to stop the ensuing flood, but just as I was hoisting myself (and yes, at 40 wks, you are indeed hoisting yourself) into bed, all the liquid I had been storing seemed to be rushing out. I felt like a sea creature in Moses parted Red Sea as the waters were coming together again, swallowed by the surrounding water. Anyways, my sister put it best when she said, 'Dude, it smells like an aquarium in here.' My entire apt was one giant slip-and-slide as my amniotic fluid ebbed and flowed about us all.  

10am. Contractions start. They're not so bad. Someone is timing them, but they all start blurring for me. One miserable contraction to the next. Alex is running around, trying to get everything prepared, checking in on me, smiling with a concerned, excited look. I love him. 

11am. Fuck. They hurt. Fucking asshole shit. I'm resisting actually saying this is front of Ms. Barbera, but we'll see how long this lasts. 'Relax' they chant. 'You're doing a good job. Just breathe'. I don't feel relaxed as I hunch over a chair, about to vomit from pain. I used to wonder what it feels like to be in labor. Honestly, at first, it feels like super intense one likes to revisit that time of the month, but imagine that pain...times a hundred. I had just watched 'The Business of Being Born' (excellent documentary on homebirths) and most of those moms looked like they relaxed, grunted, and shot a baby out of their vagina in two seconds. The mom I liked best was the midwife who swore, got angry, and demanded that they put her out of her misery. Yea for realism! 

11:30. In car. Contractions are 2 minutes apart and I can barely hold myself up. Stuck in traffic. Of course, what's New York without traffic? O crap. Am I going to have this baby on the Queensboro bridge? I am breathing, panting, trying to relax. The key word is 'trying'. 

12:00. Hospital reception office. I want to strangle the disgruntled receptionist who keeps looking at me like I'm a freak and won't lift her fake nailed finger. HURRY you lazy ass! I'm in labor. Stupid questions like, "Are you in labor?" bombard me as I try to squat on the ground to alleviate the pain. She asks me to fill out forms I've already filled out. What an ass. Finally, someone competent comes in and sees what's going on, puts me in a wheelchair, and admits me. 

1:00. I have IVs and random other things injected in me. They don't follow my birthplan. I am really starting to go crazy. The pain is shooting in my back. It turns out that I have back labor. It feels like incessant stabbing in my back. I can't even feel the pain in my stomach but my back feels like there's glass rubbing itself down my spine. 

1:20. Anestheologist comes in and introduces himself. Ms. Barbara gives him the staredown. He represents all that is wrong with the country in her eyes. He numbs the natural pain of childbirth and drugs up the mother. What's so wrong about that? Anyways, I think I can manage at this point. How much worse can it get?

1:30. My OB comes in and says hello. She thinks Alex is adorable and loves us. Tells us that she will not be here for the birth. Family engagement. I try to bribe her. Seriously, I try to bribe her with money. I think I offered her 20,000. That's how delirious I was. I would've probably chained her to the stirrups if I wasn't bound by tubes and my enormous pain. 

2:00. In bathroom. Squatting on toilet. Clenching anything around me. Looking around like a frenzied animal. Trying to relax. Failing. God, it hurts so bad. My sister's face also tells me that I'm in a lot of pain. Fuck!

2:05. Ms. Barbara keeps telling me to take a walk with her. Is she crazy? I can't even stand up. I am  grunting, moaning, you name it. She wants me to take a bath to relax. I can't even imagine another five minutes of this. 

2:15. The doctor says I've progressed only 1 cm since labor began. Fuck! Get me the epidural!! Alex asks me to reconsider and get in the tub. I hit him and ask him if he's the one in labor. Don't mess with a woman in labor! 

2:17. My OB comes in again and asks how I'm doing. I look up from my birthing ball and faintly whisper one word...."Epidural". After the birth, she tells me that I looked like I was in the worst pain, a look of complete agony.

2:20. I get the epidural and I am in love with Dr. What's-His-Face. I would marry him except that I'm pretty sure he's gay. Ms. Barbara is crying outside because I got the epidural and ruined my chance for natural childbirth. If I didn't feel the glorious course of drugs running down my body, I think I would've said something, but at this point, I really don't give a damn. I am in heaven. 

2:40. My legs are numb and hot, but no pain in my back. Yipee. People keep telling me to try and sleep, but I'm too excited to meet my baby. 

3:30. Ms. Barbara, Lily and my sister go down to the cafeteria to get something to eat. Oh, I wish I could eat something right now. Not supposed to in case of surgery. I keep asking nurses if I'm gonna get a c-section because I got the epidural. Those books brainwashed me into thinking that an epidural always leads to a c-section. They laugh because as my doc said, the baby is practically falling out of me. 

4:15. Alex looks at me lovingly. I feel bad for hitting him on the arm earlier. I apologize and he forgives me. He tells me that he cursed at his mom for giving me a hard time and stressing us out. I'm touched, but I know he'll have hell to pay later. Still, I'm glad my baby daddy stood up for me. 

6:00. Waiting for my doctor's colleague to come. She is supposed to be here by now but there is traffic. Of course! 

6:20. Young man comes in and says he is going to examine me. I decline. Uh, I guess this isn't an option. He says he has to. I relent. Sticking his gloved hand up my numbed vagina, he asks me to relax. Funny. There is a reason why I have a female gynecologist. 

8:00. Time to start pushing. I can't feel my legs but they assure me that I can push a baby out. "Push like you're making a bowel movement." That doesn't reassure me much since I had a hard time making any bowel movements during pregnancy. If that's a sign of what's to come, I'm doomed. 

8:10. Ms. Barbara brought olive oil to rub on my cootchie. Apparently, it's supposed to stretch out my vuh-jay-jay (scientific name: perineum) so I don't tear. Ouch! Honestly, they could be rubbing salsa down there and I wouldn't flinch...though I imagine the smell might be a little nauseating. 

8:17pm. Doctor comes in. By the way, she looks like Doogie Howser, child doctor prodigy from the 80s sitcom, (did I just date myself?), and rolls right up to my straddled legs. Alex is right beside her, dressed in scrubs and gloves because he wants to catch the baby. I think he's brave. I don't want to see anything down there. "Mirror?" No, thank you. They lined plastic on the floor beneath me and all over their shoes....What exactly are they expecting? A flood? 

8:20pm. I push...once, twice, three times and she is born! It happened so fast. All I remember is pushing until my head felt like it was about to explode and people saying they see the head and whoooooaaaa!, the entire body just slid right out. Alex had no time to catch her so the doctor had to catch our superfast tornedo of a baby. She came out like Superwoman, with one hand up. Cool beginning to life, but it also made me tear. When I say 'Ouch!' this time, I mean it! 

8:27pm. My Adelle is finally here. She is 7 lbs, 10 oz, with brown hair and blue eyes. She has the receding hairline of her daddy and the shape of my eyes. She doesn't cry at all but looks around, stunned to be in this world. Is that normal? I suspect that she will be this curious her whole life. Ma petite cacahuete, my little turkey, oolee aegee yah, you are here to stay! 

8:30pm. She starts sucking at my nipple. Damn! She's a fast learner. Her hair's not even dry and she's already eating. Nothing's really coming out, but she seems to like it. She looks at me with immense curiosity and I think I have to get used to this. I'm probably going to be her source of entertainment and food for years to come. 

9:00pm. I am in awe. I am so tired but I cannot sleep because I want to be near this precious new addition.  They tell me to try to pee. Uh, do they know that I can barely feel my legs? I guess I'll have to try. 

9:20pm. We are in our new, private, expensive-as-shit, room. Sorry, but I don't want to hear another crying baby in the middle of the night. I have to get used to hearing my own. 

10:00pm. They wheel baby off to get bathed. Alex goes with her. After watching too many Lifetime movies, there's no way I'm letting anyone take off with my baby without supervision....You know, just in case they mix up my little one with, say, another half-south-carolinian-half-south-korean child. 

11:30pm. The drugs are wearing off. I need to go to sleep. After a few minutes of staring at my baby girl, I pass out. Good night. 


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

YEAST...Can't Live With It, Can't Live Without It...

I never looked so skeptically at a piece of bread. Over the last few months, I have been raging an all-out war against yeast. Most people think of
yeast with less emotion than I do. They may even consider the term with a smidgeon of fondness as they smear their favorite spread on a soft roll. I used to be in this camp until I developed a yeast infection in my breast. Since then, I can't so much as look at a piece of bread without cringing.

I won't deny that I was
and am a carb addict. At any given time, I will tote around a 'snack bowl' as all my dearest friends and family have termed it. Yes, this bowl, is as big as a salad bowl but it's filled with everything except salad. The items rotate but they include at least four or five different things. Staples: Popcorn, rice cakes, dried seaweed strips, almonds, crackers, and chocolate. For some reason, I never tire of these things. On a typical day, it's not surprising to catch me refilling this bowl over a dozen times. Yes, I know it's sick, but unless you're a carb addict, you have no idea what it's like to crave your favorite snack. I could literally eat two steaks and still want my snack bowl afterwards. With breastfeeding, it's impossible for me to give this snack bowl up. It's the one thing I can wake up and eat without preparing and it allows me to go back to sleep without feeling too gross. If anyone is breast feeding, has breast fed, then you know what I'm talking about. The hunger that consumes you is ridiculous and all consuming.

So despite the fact that I have this unbearable hunger, I have to limit my food groups because of the damn yeast infection. It's spread to my milk ducts and sends shooting pains throughout my breast. They suck. After researching endless hours on the internet and meeting with several breast feeding specialists (yes, they do exist), I can tell you that almost everything has some form of yeast. Here's a list of top ten forbidden foods:

Wheat--Yes, the thing that's supposed to be good for you is BAAAAADDD for yeast.
Anything with wheat including bread, crackers, etc.
Vinegar--Kill me now! I love balsamic vinegar and this has been the hardest to give up. Anything with vinegar is off limits; ketchup, BBQ sauce, mustard, soy sauce, and the list goes on.
Sugar--absolutely the hardest to give up. Before the yeast infection (hereafter referred to as YI), I would eat, on average, at least 2000 calories of sugar. Yes, I know it's sick, but I have a major sweet tooth. Sugar and sugar derivatives make me happy. Like heroin for some people, it takes the edge off for me. (I can't believe I just compared sugar to heroin, but I bet if you looked at the chemical processes inside the brain, it'd be similar). I can pinpoint my full blown yeast flareup to Halloween when I consumed entire bags of chocolates and twizzlers. I went through at least 4 candy bars and 10 packs of random candy a day. Sugar feeds yeast and so those little buggers were 'making a little love' and multiplying from my sugar binge. Even fruit is off limits....oh, what has my world come to?!
Mushrooms--I love mushrooms. I love them in soups, on pizzas, in stir fry, raw and they are now off limits. Mushrooms are a fungus so it makes sense that fungi feed yeast which is a fungal infection.
Peanuts--Believe it or not, they're made in factories with mold. Mold = FUNGUS = BAD!
Cheese/Dairy--I'm already lactose intolerant, but now I can't even eat yogurt which was the one dairy item that I could tolerate. (Thank you Asian genes for not allowing me to indulge in pints of Ben and Jerry's).
Flour--No flour of any kind. This also feeds yeast. No noodles, rice, pitas, basically anything baked.
Wine--Made with yeast....My fiance is a sommelier. Can you imagine the temptations in my kitchen!!!
Soy--Apparently, soy is a heating agent (as described by a natural medicine doctor) and can aggravate YI.
Kimchi, Pickles, and anything Fermented--My grandma would have a heart attack if she knew I couldn't eat kimchi. For those you don't know, kimchi is fermented spicy cabbage that absolutely wreaks but tastes divine. Anyways, it's not as though I'm eating it everyday, but still, there are moments when a bite of kimchi with ramen would just hit the spot.

The list above is only some of the restricted foods. (Can you believe there are more??) These are the ones that are hard for me to follow. I have the least amount of restraint when it comes to food, but the one visual image that has helped me is imagining the yeast doing a happy dance inside my breast everytime I eat something yeast friendly.

There are moments when I break down, when the scrumptious piece of Alex's toast beckons me beyond hope, when the possibility of cereal with cold milk is too hard to resist, but those moments are few and far between. As I look at my little Adele, it's hard for me to take a bit of my Godiva when I know that a raging YI in me makes it harder for her to eat and be happy.

She is my new deterrent. If I can't do it for myself, I try to do it for her. It's hard being a parent. There are sacrifices that we make before they are born (no booz, bad sex, swollen poofy body) but it's the sacrifices after they're born that make me rethink singledom. Those days of following my own desires, not giving a rat's ass about anyone but myself, seem far away. I don't always succeed at this altruistic new 24 hr gig called motherhood, but I know I give my best 'go' everyday. I try to remember this as I have guilty tears streaming down my face as I finish off a very sweet, sinful toasted english muffin with raspberry jam. yum. 

Monday, January 19, 2009

Sexy Back

A hot summer day in London, stripping each other naked, as we made out to Justin Timberlake's hit song. This is how I will always think of this song, even if there's spit up dribbling down my not-so-sexy back. I'm slowly reclaiming that part of my life, even if it is one five-minute-tryst-while-the-baby-is-in-her-mobile-hope-she-doesn't-remember-this event at a time.

Sex after baby requires skills that, unbeknownst to me, comes with birthing an eight pound watermelon out of your vagina. Time is always an issue: where to find it when you are both struggling to get through the day? Location is another: on the bed with laundry that hasn't been folded or on the couch with boppies, blankies, binkies and other baby paraphenalia? When those two elements are in place, what about the mood? Slow foreplay is out of the question since said baby may burst into blood curdling screams for no reason.

I usually resort to dirty talk. The whole "Get naked biotch" and rough grab at the crotch may be a less-than-elegant approach to seduction, but with five minutes left, who's gonna be picky? Certainly not Alex who is hungrily looking at my breasts which have been usurped by our child for the indefinite present. I don't understand how men can still muster up the courage to fornicate with a milk-producing, hormone-raging, post partum ticking time bomb....I'm guessing it has something to do with a deeply ingrained instinct to survive and fornicate...Is that too base? Maybe it does have something to do with the bond created by being intimate. Perhaps men aren't merely physical beings. Then again, looking at the overabundance of tits and ass on TV and film, there is a strong case for the biological need scenario.

However, I will make the case for my dear fiance. He is not the typical drone hubbie who looks at porn and gets stimulated by the fake-and-bake look so rampant in L.A. and NY. He is one of the few good men who really does care a rat's ass about intellect and personality, who actually looks at a woman's face when he speaks to her, who actually cares whether or not she can carry on a conversation without using the words 'like', 'um', and 'whatever' as verbal resting points.

I will say that things are looking up, largely due to the fact that Alex is as patient as they come. Even though we aren't having sexual escapades on the couch with JT as our amorous soundtrack, we are still drawn to each other, regardless of whether or not we can prepare a perfect moment. In fact, I find that what we have now is refreshing. There is no need with frivolities, just a need for each other. And that, in and of itself, makes it perfect.

Sleepless in New York

My baby is decidedly against sleep. She dozes for about thirty minutes at a time when we can manage to "get her down" (our military code for getting her to sleep). Mind you, this is only after walking around like a maniac around our cramped New York apartment, jiggling and wiggling like a human trampoline, singing random ass Korean/French/English songs (which degrade into chants because my voice can't carry a note), rocking with her in our too-cheap-falling-apart rocking chair until our knees go numb and our backs feel like there are needles embedded in muscle layers (a backward take nodd to the ancient practice of acupuncture), and praying like a crazy person that she'll stay asleep while you transfer her to the crib. 

All of this reminds me of a primal dance, a two-step with the ancient practice of wooing your baby to sleep at the center. In the doctor's office, I 'll glimpse that baby who coos and gently falls asleep on her mother's lap while sucking her thumb, who withstands the noises of civilization (other crying babies, loud doors, creaking steps, harsh Long Island accents, trains rushing by, passionate spanish/italian/russian) and fall into a deep womb-like trance. Such is not the case with our little turkey. She resists the lull to sleep with an all-out attack on her drooping eyelids and our incessant methods with her flailing arms and buckling legs, her ear-piercing screams, fists that grab at anything near her (often my poor mangled hair or Alex's chin) and her rolling tears. Our little turkey fulfills the label on her bib, 'high maintenance' to a tee. 

If bibs could prophesize, I would make some that read, 'good napper', 'gentle crier', 'minimal stinker', 'no thrower-upper', 'won't-choke-during-let-down-nurser', 'won't-scratch-boobies-during-nursing'. And if these bibs worked, I'd make her wear them into adulthood; 'won't-go-through-hate-my-mother-stage', 'will-date-the-class-nerd-instead-of-rebel-boy', 'inspired-by-jane-austen-instead-of-gossip-girl', 'loves-radiohead-over-hannah-montana', the list could go on. 

For now, I'd settle for a 'will-let-mommy-and-daddy-sleep-for-at-least-ninety-minutes' bib. 

Monday, January 5, 2009

New Year, New Family

Just a year ago, I was spending New Year festivities with my sister in a loft apt primely situated in Hollywood. Just twelve months ago, I had no obligations to anyone but myself and my then-boyfriend who loved me for the crazy spazz that I am. 

We started that night off with a quiet dinner and some good wine. I remember trying to find something to wear that even remotely spelled out New Years with glitter, gold, or something mildly slutty. I had to settle for a zip-up dress with boots. That was my hipster version of New Years debauchery. I remember climbing into my cousin's z3 and sitting in (what else?) L.A. traffic for about an hour when we could've walked faster in our tight-ass dresses and mile-high shoes. 

My friend Mike (who was so kindly hosting us) offered us champagne and hors d'oevres when we arrived. I called Alex and wished him a drunken Happy New Year. He was well on his way towards fulfilling that goal as he sloshed his drink around with buddies in an East Village pub. 

Surreal is the only word to describe it. For the past year, I had been living in my Upper West Side, subletting an apartment from Mr. I-haven't-decorated-for-25-years (Hideous, I tell you! Wooden cats and floral prints galore). During that year, I had met and fallen in love with my fiance, coped with the stresses of my job, and traversed to Europe for the summer. I had stepped on and off  a plane/train at least a dozen times around the world. Yet, here I was, sipping champagne in the other metropolis, the arid wasteland of Joan Didion's Play It As It Lays (still one of my favorite books) and looking at the ball drop in my beloved New York, with a deep desire to kiss my love and instead settling on clanking glasses with a long lost friend. 

"Happy New Year!" Alex says amidst a roar of chaos beyond the phone. I shout, "Happy New Year too!" but suddenly feel as though I was screaming across the ocean. He feels so far away and I suddenly want to whisk myself off to his side. I think it was at this moment that I realized how much I love him. 

Dec 31, 2008, Midnight. Just a week before I became pregnant. I can't fathom how it was only a year ago. I pinch myself this New Year's, as I look at my 3 month old child and realize that we've created, birthed and are raising this little person. Goodness, we are parents. As I say this, I hear my little hellion roar. I'm off. The days of sipping champagne are on hold, but I guess there are worse things than looking at your baby, fulling understanding the deep, unrelenting love of motherhood, and kissing the creases on her chubby little wrists. 

Funky Title, I know...

I guess you could call it power of association. Upon creating the site, the first two words that made its way into my brain were 'breast milk' and 'cheerios'. I can understand breast milk since I feel like my whole life revolves around nursing and pumping, pumping and nursing. This is a twenty-four hour job that no one mentions when you're laying in a hospital bed, telling the nurse your preference for doing the best thing for your baby. No one informed me about a lot of things. 

Where should I begin? I'll start with pregnancy. Most people know about the cravings, the pickles-and-ice-cream state of hunger, but no one ever mentions constipation. Bowel movements, and lack thereof, became dinner table conversation topics. Walking, eating fiber, and relaxation were all great for the baby's development, but they were secondary to the real reason I was walking my ass through Central Park and eating the produce section of any grocery store within a five block radius. The real reason is simple. I had to go!

Another thing not mentioned...shooting leg/hip pains. These things feel like grenades launched in the pelvic area. They happen so fast. Walk walk walk and boom, I'm down. No rhyme or reason. Going on my daily walks were as painful as sex (I'll get to that later). I tried to calculate and time my explosions, but I wasn't always successful. Sometimes, I would get to the park restroom with just an iota left of restraint. I would often prairie dog it for about 15 min into my walk. Pregnant women should just carry a portable toilet seat. 

Sex sucks. The whole reason I ended up pregnant was because of sex; hot, sweaty, can't-get-enough-of-you, do-it-five-times-a-day sex, sex that makes you want to call in sick, that type of sex. From the moment the stick turned pink, I couldn't muster the energy to have sex. At first, it was the terrible morning sickness. Eventually, it was constipation and then just feeling absolutely disgusting and uncomfortable trying to maneuver my GInormous belly around the bed and trying not to crush my svelte fiance. The vaginal yeast infections (none of which I had before) didn't help matters either. 

Post-partum sex isn't any better. The process of birth should come with a warning label. No one tells you about the blood, the drugs, and the way your vagina looks after giving birth. Just looking down there turned me off to sex and any consideration for doing the dirty absolutely shut down after experiencing my first trip to the toilet. The blood curdling screams were only after going pee, imagine what I did when I had to poop. 

Sex does eventually get a little better, a little more comfortable but it resembles nothing of the passionate trysts we had daydreamed about during pregnancy sex. I think Alex had to imagine me during the height of my sexiness to get through the rounds of sexual foreplay with a forever-hungry, sweaty (at the peak of summer in NYC) soon-to-be mama. I am hoping that it will one day. I already starting cleaning off my french maid outfit, although, quite frankly, I think he'd appreciate anything that wasn't a loose button-down soiled shirt with sour breast milk stains. 

I should get to sleep. They always say to sleep when the baby sleeps. Who came up with that? I can't control my sleeping habits more than my 3 month old baby who refuses to sleep for more than 15 min at a time during the day. But like all of parenting, I'll try.