Friday, June 27, 2008

Moving forward but looking back

Luke turned 1 year old yesterday and we celebrated with family, friends, good food and my first entirely homemade cake. I have realized I am no Martha or Ina, oh well, the cake tasted wonderful but was a tad sad in the "looks" department as you can see in the pic!

Aside from all of the party preparations, cooking, baking and cleaning, I have felt like I've been mourning all week, living my life in the past. Every day I would say to John, "Last year we were doing this or that", waiting for Luke to arrive, hoping to not be induced, laying in bed dreaming of what it would be like to have a little one lying between us kicking, cooing and growing. On the 25th I reminisced all day about how at 7am we left for the hospital, 12 days overdue, excited and defeated by the fact that we were heading in to be induced. Leaving the house just a couple, knowing that the next time we walked through the door we would be carrying a new life, our baby, over that threshold. I thought about that day and how we just watched tv and listened to his heartbeat on the monitor, talked to the nurses, walked the halls and just waited for something to happen.

That night they switched up the induction drugs and I went from no pain to discomfort and contractions throughout the night. At 9am the next day, Dr. Finkowski broke my water and hooked me up to more wires and contraptions than I knew existed, by 12noon I was screaming for an epidural. I started pushing at 3pm and kept pushing and pushing and the epidural ran out and the pain, oh my God. The pain. Thankfully they were able to refill it but then I couldn't feel to push, it was frustrating and the words c-section were whispered to me by the nurse. She didn't want me to be alarmed but thought that it was a very clear possibility and I should be aware. I didn't care, just get it out I thought. The drugs wore off again and when they checked me again and had me push there was all of a sudden a flurry of activity. The fluid was infected, I heard the word meconium. On top of that the baby still was not entirely engaged and was stuck, the heartrate was dropping, I wanted more drugs (the wanting of the drugs surprised me as I was all about natural all the way and working through the contractions. However Pitocin and Cervidil and Cytotec or more powerful and synthetic than I had anticipated), my mom was told to pack up my things and move our stuff to another room. Distractions, pain, confusion. I was left alone in the room for what seemed to be 5 minutes of hell when the anesethiaologist came in and I got out the words "c-section", and "drugs now" somehow between contractions. He told me he couldn't do anything without a doctor's orders. I told him to get the hell out of the room then, don't stand there and not help me asshole. Ouch. But hey I was in survival mode, half of my body was on the bed, half of it was off trying to bet my bearings and control myself, but clearly I wasn't able to do so. Confusion resumed, doctors and nurses, "we're taking you to the OR sweetie, you'll be fine".. the walls whooshed by, the medicine tingled down my back in the most amazing rush of pain relief I have ever felt. John was there in the room wearing scrubs, and I was shaking from head to toe. Shaking, uncontrollable shaking. Unaware that they had begun, I then heard the cries, the yelps of new life. I was so weak I asked if he had hair, all I wanted to know was did he have black hair? Something was wrong . Something about a knot, and how things could have been so much worse if it weren't for the c-section. They told John to follow them with the baby to the special care nursery. I was alone with just the nurses and doctors. No baby, no husband. Just the shakes. Was he okay, what's wrong? He had a true knot in his cord and it was wrapped around his neck, his head had been severely impacted in the birth canal and his blood sugar was low, they had to get him on an IV, but it's okay, he's fine. He's a big healthy boy they said. This kind of "complication" as normal for babies born through traumatic deliveries. I remember thinking but aren't all births traumatic! I digress

It was after 8pm now and I was sent to "recovery" which was essentially a hallway by a desk where Dr. F dictated the labor and delivery. My blood pressure was monitored as it was wacky and all over the place. A young nursing student came to clean me up and I kept apologizing to her that she had to see such a sight. A nurse from the special care nursery came rushing in with digital pictures of Luke to show me, it was the sweetest thing. She was so happy and excited as if he was part of her family, she told me all of the details, how he looked, that he was fine but had an IV in and promised me that on my way back to my room I would get to hold him. She cried with me both tears of happiness and tears of understanding that after all this waiting I still couldn't see him. She had to get back to him though so I let her go. John arrived next. He was so full of pride and joy and love. All I could do was lay there and shake. The shakes are apparently a side-effect of the drugs and I think nerves played a huge part as well. At about 11pm I was finally wheeled to the nursery to see my baby but alas they weren't able to bring him to me, I would have to wait a few more minutes. So we headed to our room where my mom was keeping watch and as I was wheeled through the door all she could say through tearful eyes is, "he's so beautiful, oh my God is he beautiful". The relief that it was over, that we were all okay was about to take its toll. A few moments later he was brought into the room, this beautiful boy with his arm in a splint and an IV bag was finally laid in my arms. I melted. I cried. I breathed and I stopped shaking.

My mom finally left after sitting with us from 9am. John held my head to his chest and the three of us became a family. We had a wonderful experience in the hospital those next three days. I felt special and that Luke wasn't just another baby but was so special too.

I thought about all of these moments non-stop. I was completely distracted at work, unable to concentrate or focus on anything but the fact that all of that anticipation and longing, the wonderment of parenthood is now just old hat (well, semi-old hat, we're still new at this whole thing!). My baby weighs 28lbs, he stands up and says "tickle, tickle, tickle", he doesn't want to drink from a bottle anymore (which is good, he's such a master at self-weaning), and he's loosing some of his babyfat. I am completely saddened by all of this, even though it's all amazing and wonderful and we're entering the next phase of watching him grow and learn which is nothing short of fun and awe-inspiring. I still can't shake this feeling of mourning for his baby-ness. For those nights when he needed me, for that night-time cuddly bottle of warm mom and Luke time, those first smiles and all that came after that. My emotions are hovering at the surface with a new baby on the way and how this new one will change what we are. For the better of course. I hug Luke longer before he goes to bed now, clinging to him and him to me as if he knows we don't have much time left to be so selfish with him. I want to go back to those early days even though they were hard, they were so, so amazingly special. The reality is that I can't go back. I have work to do, meals to cook, games to play on the living room floor, books to read, laundry to fold, and thankfully a few more nights to rock my baby to sleep.

I often seem to think back to the past. About how great life was with my mom and dad, how romantic our honeymoon was, the excitement of painting our house and fixing it just so before we moved in...all of those moments are ingrained in me as I'm sure they are to everyone. These moments, so fleeting, so wonderful, so life-changing are just that. Fleeting. Enjoy them, relish every minute of them, learn from them and remember them. I hope that by getting this all out I won't feel so stuck in the past because right now, this entire week I have felt that way. I want to go back, but I have to go forward.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

"Don't paint the room pink just yet"

There we sat, two proud parents and one playful little guy anxiously awaiting our name to be called in the waiting room. We got in quickly, the warm goo was squirted across my midsection, Luke yelped and cooed, John bounced him up and down making him laugh and I laid there beaming in excitement. In my pregnant idiotic state I forgot to drink the 28 oz. of water, my bladder she said, wasn't full. We might not get a clear picture of the sex, but we'll get what the doctor needs. OOF. How did I forget this little detail? GRRRR. The baby kicked, and all looked good. S/he had their legs curled over their head, doesn't that make it easy I thought? Guess not. She didn't see any boy parts, but also couldn't make out the girl parts. She was certain it was leaning towards girl, "but don't go and paint the room just yet". Oh well. We'll have a 3D ultrasound in 11 weeks. 11 more weeks. So far away. On the plus side the baby is healthy and that's really all that matters.

We met with Dr. F afterward and listened to the wonderful sound that is a babies heartbeat and then he measured my belly. His reaction to that was, "hmm, I'm really glad that I have these ultrasound pictures because if I didn't I'd be almost certain that you are much farther along than you are, OR that you're carrying twins." He looked the ultrasounds over again and said, "well I guess you just make big babies."

Phew. No twins here. I would have fallen off the table if that were the case. The "big baby" comment makes me glad I don't have to try to push it out, not that a c-section is a piece of cake either.

So I guess we have to wait to announce if we're going to have pink ribbons and princess lunchpails in our future. John being the proud parent has already called his entire family to tell them that it's a girl, and after their initial excitement he informs them of the's more than likely a girl.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Tomorrow is the "big" day

At 8am tomorrow morning we'll have our "big" ultrasound! Will we continue the chain of all boys on both sides of our families or are we about to break it with a pink little princess? We're thinking it's a girl, but obviously it could go either way. The next 12 hours can't get here fast enough. These little kicks are starting to get stronger, the flutters are turning into pows and just the other day at the grocery store Luke put both of his hands on my belly as I pushed the cart and then "kissed" it in his open mouth "kiss" sord of way. I'm sure he was just fascinated by this newfound expanse of mom but it was sweet nonetheless.

Cooperate tomorrow morning baby, show us the goods, we can't wait to see you in all your glory!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Rest in Peace Tim

It was a few weeks before our wedding and I was on the search for a meaningful gift to give to my brother. He had the duty of walking me down the aisle. The aisle that I was supposed to share with my dad. I knew it was probably not going to be easy for him to do someone else's job, and I wanted to give him something special to say thanks. I was in the Hallmark store in the mall, it was a week or so after Father's Day and all of the Dad paraphernalia was on sale. I glanced at it quickly and saw the book "Big Russ and Me" sitting on the clearance shelf. I picked it up, started reading and before I knew it I was in tears. Tim was an Irish Catholic raised in Buffalo, the son of a sanitation worker who seemed to live life with pride, honesty, huge love for his family and never forgot his roots. This was my father and my brother, well except that we're Italian Catholics, but I digress. I had to get it for him, this was the gift. Later that evening I was looking through my family photos and came upon one of my brother, father, and nephew on Father's Day a year or two before he died. It was perfect, the framed photo and a son's memoir of his father's legacy. When my brother opened it, he choked up. There were no words to be said, just a mutual understanding. A life cut short. Shared regrets for not thinking this would happen to us, for not appreciating all that he was until he was gone, for not kissing him goodbye the last time we saw him.

Tim Russert died today. He was 58 (my father died at 57). His son Luke graduated from Boston College last month. They just yesterday returned from a trip to Italy to celebrate his accomplishment. I was in tears watching Andrea Mitchell and Tom Brokaw memorialize their beloved friend, and honored boss. I feel for his son, his wife, and his father. Why do the honest and true good ones, the larger than life do-gooders have to leave this earth so early?

I am heartbroken and once again reminded to not take anyone in life for granted because you just never know. Live with honor, integrity, and do good things. Thank you for your books and for sharing your story. What a gift to your family, a lasting legacy. God bless.

The Irony

I don't really like birds. In fact I think they're kind of creepy, their claw feet and pecky beaks send shivers down my spine. And here I sit at 4:45am listing to birds tirelessly chirp throughout the neighborhood at an annoying clip as I work on a logo of, yes, a bird.

Luckily the bird logo does not send shivers down my spine but the increasingly loud and uber-annoying bird rant going on outside the dining room window is about to send me over the edge.