Monday, December 17, 2007

The one where I need oxygen

Final installment of the 4-part birth story series (you can read the first three here, here) and here:

My fourth child was due on October 27, 2006, but somehow I just knew I would be having this baby earlier than expected. My mom was in standby mode in SC, waiting for the call to drive up to help out while I was in the hospital and for a few days after I came home. I called her on October 18th and told her that I thought it would be a good idea for her to come on up. She left on the 19th. That night she called to say that she was staying at a hotel for the night rather than driving through and would arrive the next morning. I had contractions on and off all night, but nothing regular.

The next morning, the contractions began getting more regular. My oldest daughter headed off to school, and at 7:30, I called my mom to find out how much longer she would be. She arrived at our house around 9:00 or so, which was a good thing, since about 15 minutes after she walked in the door, my water broke. Well, not so much broke as leaked a little, just like happened with my first child. So by 9:30, my husband and I were headed to the hospital.

[We interrupt this post for info regarding a previous post: I forgot to mention in the post about the birth of my second child about the two child doctors who came in to watch the birth, one male and one female. One of them even stitched up a little tear afterward. Apparently, I chose to give birth in a TEACHING hospital, which means that I consent to doctor wannabes practicing at being a doctor on ME. Really, I didn't care, since at that point random street people could have wandered through asking for a look-see and I would have said, "Sure, why not?" And now, back to our regularly scheduled post...]

When we arrived at the hospital, the nurses put me in a triage room to check if, indeed, the trickle I had felt was amniotic fluid. But before making that determination, a nurse checked my cervix. Then two child doctors arrived. (Apparently, they travel in pairs, specifically male-female pairs. This could be for breeding purposes; further study is needed to know for sure.) The female half of the duo checked my cervix. Then, the male half asked if he could as well. "Sure," I said, "join the crowd." Then they used this little strip of paper to see if the fluid that kept leaking out was amniotic, or if I was just peeing on them. It was amniotic. Really, now, you didn't think I would go around peeing on people, do you?

So I was moved into a labor room and given pitocin to get things moving. My regular doctor was not on shift, but would be in about a half hour, and then he would go off shift again at 4:30 in the afternoon. I was hoping he would be the one to deliver my baby. Eventually, the time came for the epidural. I requested Dr. M for my anesthesiologist if possible. You will remember him from the last birth story. Unfortunately, he was not there.

[Another aside: At a regular prenatal office visit, I had asked my doctor if I could request a particular anesthesiologist. He wasn't sure, but who did I have in mind? When I told him Dr. M., he looked at me askance and said in a surprised tone, "Dr. M? Really?"

"Why, is there something wrong with him?"

"Nooooo, he's just..."


Laughing, "Yes."

"I don't care how miserable the guy is, he's good and I want him."

"He is good."]

I got another Dr. M. It was something Hispanic, I don't remember what, but his first name was Luis. Anyway, I told Luis about my small spinal spaces issue and my problems with getting epidurals in the past. He assured me (as did the nurses that were there) that he was just as good, if not better, than Dr. M. He was certainly friendlier. And he was telling the truth. He got the epidural in in one try. Of all my births, this was the most pleasant epidural insertion experience.

HOWEVER, it was not the most pleasant of epidural side effects. I had never before had an adverse reaction to an epidural. This time however, I started feeling lightheaded and nauseous like I was going to pass out and my blood pressure crashed. The nurses turned off the epidural and gave me oxygen until I felt better. So then I was okay for a while. I started to feel the contractions again and asked them to turn the epidural back on, which they did. Then I crashed again. So more oxygen and then the epidural was put on a VERY LOW setting.

A nurse decided that since I hadn't peed since triage, that she would straight cath me (you'll remember this from the last time, when that action resulted in freight-train baby). I informed them of the freight-train baby episode, and said that they might want to be prepared, just in case. And then one of the nurses said that she was there for that birth. I hadn't recognized her; she had lost a lot of weight! This time the catheter didn't result in immediate baby, but things did get rolling along. About ten minutes later, I said that I was feeling that familiar pressure. The nurse checked my cervix and said that I was fully dilated except for a tiny bit that didn't seem to want to get out of the way. She called in the doctor (who you'll recall would be off-shift at 4:30) at about 4:20. He checked my cervix, said, "Yeah, there's that little bit there, but she's crowning, I'll just push it out of the way." He did, and I pushed. Twice, I think. (By the fourth baby, I had the whole pushing thing down, and no it's nothing like pooping if you're doing it right, even though they say that it is.)

My fourth daughter arrived on October 20, 2006, just as the doctor's shift ended at 4:30pm (but he was nice enough to stick around for the after birth clean up stuff). She weighed 7lbs, 1oz, the smallest of all my babies. She didn't cry at first, which freaked me out, since I didn't remember any delay before the crying with the other ones. But then she did, as you can see in the picture. Very loudly.

Here I am with her just after she was born, still with the IV in and everything:

All our girls:

Friday, December 14, 2007

Easy chicken corn chowder

You may have noticed that this week lacked an update to the world's most reluctant stage mother series. Yeah, well that's because I didn't finish it. I'm like that sometimes. It'll show up eventually. In the meantime:

For those of you who like measurements for your recipes (like I generally do), this recipe may not be for you (though somehow I manage). If you like just throwing random amounts of things together with crossed fingers, like Flibberty's fiance (how do you make those stupid accent things?), then this is for you. It is a good wintertime chowder, and it is easy easy (I meant to type it twice) to make. You will need:

  • regular old white potatoes (I usually use 4-5 medium-sized ones - I see you measurement people are already cringing)

  • one medium onion

  • water - I'll tell you how much in a minute

  • a small can of evaporated milk (I don't know how many ounces - I've only ever seen two sizes, a small one and a bigger one. Use the SMALL one.)

  • one can of creamed corn (the 15oz size, or is it 16? Who cares - just use it)

  • one can of kernel corn (again the 15 oz size, or I suppose you could use frozen - hey, go nuts)

  • one can of chicken breast meat (I KNOW, I didn't realize these little cans of meat had any use either! Other than, you know, BOMB SHELTER supplies. Oh, and for you vegetarians, this is optional, you could have plain old corn chowder. OR, for you folks who like a lot of meat and want to use up what the vegetarians are letting go to waste, add more. I'm kidding vegetarians; don't attack me.)

  • butter, the real thing, no margarine people!

  • salt and pepper (preferably fresh ground cracked peppercorn pepper from your pepper mill. You do have one, right? If not put it on your shopping list right now.)

Okay, so now what you do is first peel and dice the potatoes into chunks approximately the size of, I don't know... DICE? Throw them in a pot and just cover them with water. Yes, that's how much water to use, just cover the potatoes. Chop the onion and throw it in. Boil until the potatoes are done. The onion will be done then too; it works out nicely that way.

Add the can of evaporated milk and the can of creamed corn. Then add the can of kernel corn, but DRAIN IT FIRST! Add the chicken, also only after draining it first. Then add a big chunk of butter. No, I don't know how much, how much buttery goodness would you like it to have? Add that much. I usually use about 1/3 of a stick. You can always add more to your own bowl later. Salt and pepper to taste. Heat it through and serve.

I don't have a picture, because I made it and we ate it before I realized that this would be a quick and easy post that maybe people would like. But it looks yummy. Just take my word for it.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The one where I throw a bed pan

Part 3 of the 4-part birth story series (you can read the first two here and here):

My third child was due on December 18, 2002, but that day came and went with just some nightly contractions that subsided around 2:00am. Like in my second pregnancy, I had a couple nights of this, but finally, on December 19th, they did not subside. In anticipation of the birth, my mother had arrived on either the 18th or the 19th, at this point I don't recall exactly, but she was there to keep the other two when we went to the hospital. We arrived at the hospital around 4:00am, the morning of December 20th.

I wasn't quite dilated enough to move into a labor room, so the nurses had me walk the hallways for a while. It didn't take long, and we were ready to go. I had asked my OB/GYN several months previously if I could ask to NOT have a particular anesthesiologist (the one I had the last time). He had informed me that I didn't have to worry, as that one had retired. Instead I got one with an unconventional method of having the patient lie on her side in the fetal position rather than sitting up hunched over a pillow, as most of them do. He complained that I had extremely small spinal spaces, and he had a difficult time getting the epidural in. At one point, he got it in the wrong spot and caused my heart to race and me to get all lightheaded. He finally did get it in right (or at least he thought he did) and left.

A little while later, I noticed that while the contractions weren't horribly painful, I could still feel them and they WERE somewhat painful. So I asked a nurse about it, and she paged anesthesiology to have someone come and take a look. Dr. M, the chief anesthesiologist, or whatever you call the one in charge of the others, was on call at this point, so he came up. He was a very grumpy guy, obviously not thrilled about having to come correct someone's screw-up. He said to whoever (whomever?) was listening, "See how there's blood in the line, this shouldn't be there. It was put in wrong." I told him that the other anesthesiologist had said I had small spinal spaces, to which he replied, "Well, he was sure right about that." Despite his grouchiness, he was amazingly skilled, and it only took him one shot to get the epidural in properly.

When I had first arrived at the hospital, my OB/GYN that had delivered my second daughter had been on shift, but at this point another doctor had come on. I had seen her a couple of times in the office, and she had been the one to perform my D&C after a miscarriage that I had had the previous February. She was really nice and would have been my next choice anyway, so I was happy. She checked in when I was 6-7 cm dilated and told the nurses to give her a call when I had dilated more. My husband went to rest in the armchair that was about 15 feet from the labor and delivery bed, and immediately fell asleep.

Around 8:20 or so, one of the nurses decided that I needed to have my bladder emptied. She told me that she was going to straight cath (catheterize - if you don't know what it is, you don't want to, but at least you can't feel it when you have an epidural) me, and to let her know if I felt any pressure, because sometimes a full bladder is in the way, and once it's emptied things kick into gear.

She was OH SO RIGHT. Before she got back from emptying the bedpan that she had filled with my urine (aren't you all so glad to be reading this?), I yelled at her, "Pressure! A LOT of pressure!" She came running out of the bathroom, checked my cervix, yelled to another nurse, "She's crowning! Get Dr. J in here, STAT!" All this yelling, and my husband was snoring away, 15 feet from the commotion. So I was yelling at him to wake up, the nurse was yelling at him to wake up and telling me not to push, and he continued to be dead to the world. Finally I picked up a bedpan (empty, and PLASTIC, not metal), and flung it at him. He did wake up when it bounced off his head. Meanwhile, I forgot about his lazy ass, as another nurse and I had this conversation (at very high volume):

Nurse: Don't push!

Me: I HAVE TO PUSH!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nurse: Don't push!

Me (holding the rails and kind of flailing my head and shoulders around with the effort of NOT pushing): I HAVE TO PUSH!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nurse: Don't push!

Me (still flailing): I HAVE TO PUSH!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nurse: Don't push!

Me (pushing anyway): I HAVE TO PUSH!!!!!!!!!!!!

The doctor literally came skidding through the door on her little blue hospital booties as the baby's head emerged after only two pushes. One more push and my third daughter was born around 8:30am on December 20th. She had an Apgar score of 10 at the moment of birth and barely any cone head at all, due to her freight-train-like trip through the birth canal. She weighed exactly 8lbs. Now she's a tiny little thing, weighing in at only about 33lbs, even though she'll be five in ten days. But she still lives life like a freight train. See how red her nose is in the picture? It was a birthmark down the length of her nose (which faded after a few weeks). We called it her skid mark because of her speedy entrance into the world.

And because it's a much cuter picture than me with my pudgy pregnancy face:

Monday, December 3, 2007

The one with the little old man

Part 2 of the 4-part birth story series (you can read the first here):

My second child was due on January 6, 2001. Starting on January 4th, I experienced nightly contractions that would start around 11:00pm and continue until between 2:00 and 4:00am, when they would stop. So the night of January 6th, I was VERY ready to get this birth done. Our next-door neighbor's daughter invited my daughter over to spend the night, and my husband and I went out walking. Since it was icicle-hanging-from-your-nose freezing and my husband needed a few things from Staples, we did our walking there. I pushed the cart and would have to stop every little while and try not to moan when a contraction would hit. We went home in hopes they wouldn't stop and we could call the doctor. This time they didn't stop, and we went to the hospital around 4:00am.

After the doctor checked me and determined that I was dilated enough to put into a labor room, we got all settled into one. By that time, I had dilated more and the doctor made the comment that I dreaded to hear, "You might be moving along too fast to have time to get the epidural." To which I responded, "Get the anesthesiologist in here right now, I WANT that epidural." But you know, NICER than that. More like, "Please can we just try? Pleeeeaaaaassseee?" You must understand that I signed that "I want an epidural" paper the moment I discovered I was pregnant. Positive pregnancy test? Fax that epidural paper to me and I'll sign it and fax it back. I know I don't need it for a while, and that my first office visit isn't even for 6 weeks, but you can never be too prepared.

So anyway, about 10-20 minutes later, this little old stooped shuffling man, who must've been just shy of 90, walked in pushing the anesthesiologist's cart and supplies. I assumed that he was just dropping off the cart and the anesthesiologist would arrive in a minute or two but NOOOOOOOO. This little old man with one foot in the grave WAS the anesthesiologist.

I swear the old guy must've been half-blind and suffering from Parkinson's, because it took him no less than a dozen agonizing tries to get the epidural in properly. But he finally managed, which was the important thing.

Soon enough, it was time to deliver. But every contraction and push resulted in a drop in the baby's heart rate. The nurse was looking quite concerned, which of course made me concerned. The doctor began to explain to me that the umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby's neck, and that every time I pushed, it was restricting the blood flow to the baby's brain. So it was very important that we get the head out as quickly as possible, so that he could unwrap the umbilical cord from the baby's neck. So on the next push, I needed to try to push long enough and hard enough to get the head out. One, Two, Three... PUSH! I gave it everything I had, and got the baby's head out. The doctor got the cord off of the neck, and then one more push and there she was. My second daughter, born January 7, 2001, around 8:30am. She weighed 7 lbs, 5 oz.

The below picture is my oldest daughter holding her baby sister. I didn't have any decent ones of me in the hospital with her.

Weekend dinners and a question

As some of you are aware, I was making Easy Cabbage Roll Casserole from Beck's Recipes on Saturday. I want to first thank Beck for giving my family a much more interesting week food-wise. I had gotten in a rut of the same meals week after week, so it was nice to branch out a little. As usual, due to my being lazy lazy, I looked for any way to shortcut the work. So instead of shredding cabbage, I used this:

It contained a few shredded carrots as well, which I thought ended up adding a little extra flavor.

Here is what the casserole looked like while cooking:

I served it up as suggested with mashed potatoes. I didn't post a picture, because I didn't want to scare anyone away from making it. It did not look at all appetizing. HOWEVER, I LOVED IT!!! I thought it was great. A perfect winter meal. My husband thought it was "okay for something that has cabbage in it." My oldest daughter was not a fan, but she did eat it. The other two, as you know, don't eat, and as usual, since it wasn't a smooth puree, the baby gagged. I froze the leftovers for future lunches for myself.

On Sunday, I completely forgot that we would need to eat dinner, and therefore when dinnertime arrived, there were lots of frozen things in the freezer, but nothing thawed and ready to cook. But I had planned to make yet another of Beck's Recipes last week that I had not gotten around to, and it had not one frozen ingredient. So, Beck to the rescue! We had Sweet Potato Soup and sandwiches. The soup was wonderful! I don't have pictures, but imagine tomato soup, but orange, and that's what it looks like.

Originally, I was going to post an episode of the modeling story each Friday for however many it took, but apparently MadMad can't wait that long, as she reminded me on Saturday that she is still waiting for the rest of the story. It's really not all THAT exciting, and I almost feel guilty for making anyone think that it is. But not enough to stop leading you on. Anyway, my question is: Should I stick with my original plan and do the modeling story posts on Fridays, or should I throw one up at whatever point in the week I have one ready?

Last Monday was my first birth story, and in keeping with that, today and the next two Mondays will bring my other three birth stories. You can't wait, can you?

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Oops, forgot to tell you about dinner

Thursday, at the end of [a post called "You know what bugs me" that I haven't transferred yet], I promised to tell you about the Rosemary Chicken with White Beans that I made for dinner Wednesday night. But then I forgot. So I'll do it today.

I got the recipe from Beck's Recipes. It's a slow-cooker meal, which I like in the winter. There's something about a bunch of different food groups all simmering together in one big mish-mash for hours that screams warm and cozy food. Plus, they are generally easy, which appeals to my laziness.

This particular meal was quite easy. It only took about 15 minutes of prep-work, including browning the chicken and chopping the celery. I cheated on chopping carrots by using those bagged, pre-washed and peeled baby carrots. Hey, I'll take any shortcut I can get. Here's what it looked like when it was just about done:

I should note that the house was filled with a mouth-watering aroma all afternoon. The first words out of my daughter's piano teacher's mouth when he showed up for her lesson were, "Wow, something smells really good in here." And he's a vegetarian! Apparently one that appreciates the smell of cooking chicken breasts. Anyway, I served it up with bowtie pasta and here is what it looked like all dished up:

See the veggies? Beans, corn, celery. What a good mom! But only one of my kids ate it, the others are either picky eaters or babies who have chewing and gagging issues. Anyway, the one kid who ate it and the two parents LOVED it! So Beck's Recipes are two for two. I'm making another of her slow cooker meals for tonight, the Easy Cabbage Roll Casserole. A little heavier on the prep-work, which makes the lazy in me unhappy, but it's cooking now, so we'll see if the end result is worth it. I'll be sure to let you know. Because I know the suspense is killing you.