Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Fletcher Andrew Schultz

Fletcher Andrew Schultz was born at 5:05 p.m. on Sunday, May 23, 2010. He weighed 8 pounds 2 ounces and was 21 inches long.

At 10:44 a.m. Sunday morning, after the "brilliant" idea to try yoga and while I was relaxing with the first Harry Potter book, I felt a contraction that was different from all the other contractions I'd had so far. It had me falling from the couch to the living room floor and lasted a good 30 seconds before I could focus and wonder, "What was that?"

It wasn't until 50 minutes later that I felt a repeat. Contraction No. 3 was ten minutes later. Contraction No. 4 was seven minutes later. And from noon until 3:30, they continued at between five and six minutes apart.

Around noon I knew we were in labor. But you know what they say... especially with first labors, it's supposed to take hours and hours. So should I sit at home and focus on the pain, or go to Andy's cousin's son's birthday party and focus on hiding the pain from everyone there?

So we went to the party and arrived a little before 1:00. We hung around for two hours at most, me hiding labor contractions by digging my nails into my thighs, making bathroom trips that were a little more frequent than usual, and just generally hiding my face every five to six minutes.

Andy's grandpa did wonder why I was on my cell phone so much. Using the "memo" option was my easiest way to time the contractions.

On the way home, I wasn't sure if the pain was escalating or if I was just able to focus on it now. I called the hospital to find out when it's time to come in. They said to come if I felt I was ready for drugs or if my water broke. If I felt the need to push, I should definitely come in. Mainly, it was up to me.

Five minutes later, we were home, deciding to spend the next few hours getting the house and ourselves ready. I went upstairs to change into something less binding but, halfway through, found myself panting on the bedroom floor. This was not just the effect of me "focusing on the pain." Things were escalating.


I called for Andy but he was busy in another room and didn't hear me. I looked at Bella, who lay on the floor next to me, looking at me as if the world wasn't suddenly spiraling into an alternate galaxy of pain and panic. "Andy?"

In between contractions was no longer a pleasant time of relief -- now it was sore muscles and leftover pain and wondering when the next wave would hit. I got dressed quickly and got downstairs, gripping the railing like it was my lifeline.

In the kitchen, I hit the floor again. "Andy, we're going." "Now?" "We're going now." But there were still things that needed to get done, so I held on. A trip to the bathroom confirmed for me that I was leaking fluid.

Hurry hurry hurry.

I was back in the impossibly hot car, as Andy tossed a few things into the backseat. "I'll be right back," he said.

Oh God, not again.

I got out of the car and leaned on the frame, moaning. A young girl across the street was at her lemonade stand. I don't know if she understood what was happening, but I'll never forget seeing her there.

Andy came back and asked if I wanted a lemonade. He kept talking to take my mind off things. I kept babbling for the same reason. Metallica's "Hero of the Day" was on the radio as we drove to the hospital, and it's been stuck in my head ever since.

Andy said he was convinced this was definitely labor when I yelled at him to stop hitting all the bumps in the road. And there were no bumps in the road.

I practically ran to admittance when we got to the hospital, weaving around everyone in the waiting area, feeling their stares on me. The woman at the desk could see that this was serious. "Just sign here. Just sign here. We'll get you right up to your room."

They sat me in a wheelchair, which struck me as a horrible horrible idea, but I wasn't in a position to argue. Not when I was panting. A woman sitting in the waiting room with a baby said, "It feels like just yesterday..." A number of rude comments entered and left my brain. I'm glad they didn't leave my mouth.

I got to my room and they told me to put the gown on and said I could use the toilet if I wanted. That's when my water broke... really broke. The thoughts and sensations were entering and leaving my brain so fast it was hard to comprehend anything, but I do remember thinking, "Thank God we left that party when we did."

I got on the bed, Andy was brought back into the room, and the screaming began. We were already dilated to eight centimeters plus. "Does that mean this is going to happen soon?" Andy asked. The answer was affirmative, and he had that "really?" look on his face.

"Did you hear that, Lindsay?" Andy asked. To me, he seemed focused on making sure I knew what was going on and what the doctor was saying at all times.

The room of women told me to turn on my side. This time, I was the one with the "really?" look on my face. But I did as they asked and found that if I wrapped my arms around the bed railing, I could pull and grip with all the strength in my body each time a contraction came.

"Where is my husband?" He came around to the side so I could see him. "Can Andy have a chair?" Andy pointed out that he didn't need one, but I wasn't asking for his sake. I needed to see his face. I could not be strong enough to survive this if I couldn't see his face.

When the contraction comes, you feel it build like a wave, and then you scream. At least, that's how it was in my case. The nurse will coach you on taking deep breaths, and while they do help, there is nothing that can be done for this pain. Nothing natural, anyway.

We had entered the hospital around 4:00 p.m. One hour later, I had my son. The pain of the contractions during that hour was, in a word, bewildering. It was impossible to comprehend. While the three hours of early labor contractions were about the same as my terrible menstrual cramps (thank you, primary dysmenorrhea, for preparing me for this experience), this last hour was beyond words.

Screw it. "Is it too late for drugs?" I asked. Anyone who would willingly go through this is mad. There was no way I could get an epidural this late in the game, but they gave me a half dose of the analgesics, saying, "She's a lightweight."

After the next contraction, I was pissed. "Seriously? *pant* I am not impressed *pant* with these drugs." So I got the second dose and didn't notice a change at all, though Andy said my screaming was a little less.

Meanwhile, I'm gripping the bed railing with all I've got, and the song "I'm Henry the Eighth, I am" starts playing through my head. Delirious, I start singing to get through some of the residual pain. Andy laughs. The nurses think I've lost it.

Almost immediately after being told I was eight centimeters, it seemed, they checked again and we were nine plus and ready to push. Again, Andy had his "really?" face on. "Did you hear that, Lindsay?"

There are two layers of shocking, bewildering pain during Delivery. The Contraction and The Pushing. You push, and you don't feel the contraction anymore -- you just feel the terrible, ripping pressure of the push, and it consumes the entire "female" area, all the way down to the butt.

I'm forced to listen to the nurse counting to ten while I push with all I've got, essentially causing myself the worst pain I've felt. But I'm not going to half-ass this one. The more pain I cause myself now, the quicker this will all be over. And I'm no lightweight, no matter what that nurse said. By the time the nurse reaches "ten," I'm so thankful I can stop pushing and take another breath.

Until I realize that that breath brings back The Contraction, which is just as bad if not worse than The Pushing. Three times I would push during each contraction, then "rest." Rest is in quotation marks because this kind of bewildering pain doesn't disappear in between contractions, and the anticipation that there's more to come doesn't comfort.

Over and over and over again. Pushing, breathing, pushing. I've got an oxygen mask on. I'm grunting. I'm lost in how fast all of this has happened.

When they said they saw the head -- and asked Andy if he wanted to see -- I could only think, Thank God and How Long Until It's Out?

It could've been a lot worse, I know, so I was surprised when there was a relative cheer in the room that the head was out. I kept pushing to get this over with, and someone told me to stop pushing. "Stop pushing? Seriously? I can't push? What's happening? Why can't I push?"

"Let the professional," I think I heard someone say, as the doctor maneuvered out the rest of the body.

RELIEF. Such relief I've never felt in my entire life. I saw my son. There was pain, but no more PAIN. It was over. It was the beginning. My son. The most beautiful thing I've ever seen in my entire life.

I lay on my side as someone else took care of pushing the placenta out, and then the stitching began. Nothing on my body mattered at the moment. I thought being torn would be awful, but in that moment, I didn't care that I had been torn in every direction to bring that big head into the world. I just wanted to see him, and never stop looking at him.

Andy was able to watch up close as they cleaned him up and checked him out. It wasn't too long before I was able to hold him and a helpful nurse took our first family photo.

All that waiting for our baby... and within six hours he was here. It was the greatest trauma of my life. It was the biggest miracle of my life.

"Look at all the hair," is something we've heard non-stop since the moment his head became visible. But all I keep thinking is, "Look at how perfect."


Let's go home.

Friday, May 21, 2010

38w 4d wait

Last night was a milestone of sorts, if you can count such things as milestones. It was the first time I felt I've reached the stage that (dictated by common sense) every pregnant woman must reach – the stage of major discomfort.

I am really, mercilessly, exhaustively uncomfortable. Whether sitting, standing, walking, doing stairs, carrying something, trying to sleep, bending down, using the restroom, cooking, petting the cats, attempting to get out of bed... I'm just plain uncomfortable and tired.

And it's not merely physical. I'm tired of my brain, of thinking about labor and wishing for labor and being scared of labor. My dad asked me last night if I was starting to get scared, and I didn't bother sugarcoating the truth when I blurted, "Yes." So many aspects of this moment and the next moment and the moment after that are bone-deep scary.

Still, I want it – I want to be in the throes of the main event and the euphoria that comes after. Of all the things to be scared of, and there are many, the biggest fear is something will go wrong with the baby. The second biggest? The wait.

I can't stand the suspense, and I can't stop the thoughts that swirl around and through every nuance of this situation. Why does it matter whether the baby comes tonight or in three weeks? Why does it matter if my body does what it's supposed to do or if I have to be induced?

I'm stunned by the similarities between the very beginning of pregnancy and the very end. Could I be pregnant? vs. Could I be in labor? ... When will I get a positive test? vs. When will I hold our baby? ... What can I do to make pregnancy happen? vs. What can I do to make labor happen? ... What if I can't get pregnant naturally? vs. What if I can't go into labor naturally? Both processes are long long long and exhausting. This one just has the added fun of the physically uncomfortable stage.

A month before we began trying to conceive, I wrote something about my frustration, wishing we could get things started. I didn't imagine, at the time, how much it would apply to me 18 or so months later.
In the Wait

In the wait
as if perched on a branch
wings trapped to my sides
wishing one swift wind
would carry me
into my life

On the upside... Hello, single digits countdown!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

38w 2d jinx

Things are progressing. I thought.

Braxton Hicks? Check. Drop? Check. Pelvic Pressure and Back Pain? Check. Effaced? Check. Dilated? A full 3 cm Check. Discharge and Mucous Plug? Check. No More Constipation? Check. Bloody Show? Check, and Andy's favorite pregnancy medical term, methinks. This "show" started after a longer-than-usual walk around Germantown last night before catching an episode of Parenthood and going to bed, where I lay awake thinking, This could be it.

The only things missing are labor contractions and water breaking. MIA. AWOL. Not happening.

I've done the biggest jinx you can do when you're anxious for labor to start. I've put the finishing touches on the overnight bags and stashed them in my trunk, where they will, undoubtedly, melt from the unseasonably high temperatures during the next, oh, Rest. Of. My. Life.

"I'm really surprised you made it this long," says the perky, suddenly cruel-seeming doctor. "Okay, I feel the baby's head. You've definitely had your bloody show, and you're at least 3 centimeters. I really don't think you'll make it much longer. Just keep doing what you're doing."

Cruel. Cruel. Cruel.

From "Impossible" by Kelly Clarkson:
Just woke up and thought I'd try
Try to step across the line
You know that I've been thinking
About it for a while
Starting to think it's time I leave
Does me good to know I finally feel
Feel this pain, it's real, it's possible

You say
Can't change the winds to say,
Won't matter anyway
Can't reach that far 'cause it's impossible
Can't rise above this place
Won't change your mind so I pray
Breaking down the walls to the impossible

Walking by myself I know
This lonely road's becoming my new home
But I don't stop
I just keep moving on, and on

Monday, May 17, 2010

38 weeks bomb

They say that the average (healthy) birth takes place between 38 weeks and 42 weeks of pregnancy, and the (meaningless) due date is merely the day in the middle of those four weeks.

So we've officially entered our due... month. Ah, the agony of unpredictability. As I was telling the family yesterday, I am no masochist -- I'm not interested in spending a large chunk of time anticipating a great deal of pain. It would be nice to get started on the good stuff. But there's no avoiding the fact that this is my first pregnancy and statistics are not on my side.

From 8 weeks to 38 weeks.

A message from outer space. Or Alyssa.

We received all the photos from our maternity photo shoot, and I couldn't be happier. Thanks again, Jenna!

Andy: "Are we really ready for this?" Me: "This is awesome!"

In an effort to straighten out our priorities and get the cats ready for the changes ahead, we've started locking the cats out of the bedroom at night. This is difficult for everyone. Nighttime has been the biggest bonding time for Bella and me. And now, not only is she being blocked by a big door, but if she dares to meow she gets sprayed with water courtesy of Andy, who only has my best interest at heart.

It all makes me sad. But as Andy reminds me, we don't want the cats near the baby when we aren't there (awake) to supervise. So I'm telling myself to suck it up.

Practice contractions haven't changed in frequency or strength. Probably the only thing that has changed physically is that I'm actually in better shape than I was a few weeks ago, thanks to all this walking and exercising. My only hope that labor could be coming (and I never thought I'd put hope in something like this) is a comical amount of gas bubbles that suddenly made an appearance today. Just gas? Or the work of prostaglandins, meaning labor is hours or days away? It isn't a good idea to hope when statistics say I've got AT LEAST two weeks of nothing to go.

I think anyone who's ever been in this position knows what I'm talking about when I say, I'm getting that "look" from everyone now. Like I'm a time bomb and, "Oh, are you at work again today? I bet you wish you'd gone into labor by now." Yes, thank you, helpful.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

37w 3d notes

All these sticky notes posted randomly around my work desk, in the pockets and lining of my purse, and in the nightstand drawer? That's me timing every contraction that flows my way. "It'll feel like the baby is balling up," the doctor said yesterday. But that's what non-labor contractions feel like, too.

These sticky notes? They are symbols. Hope. Disappointment. Annoyance. Forced Patience. Hope. Disappointment...

The doctor said I'm about 80 percent effaced and somewhere between 2 and 3 centimeters. It felt like very little progress to me, since I've finally convinced myself that these measurements mean nothing in terms of when labor will start.

No matter how many contractions there are, no matter how much hope, the subtext of all my thoughts is that I'm never going to go into labor. I'm going to have to be induced, just like every other first time mother on the face of the planet, and I don't want to be induced. I want to do all of this as naturally as possible.

I don't know why, really. Only recently have my feelings on this matter formed into conviction. I want it all to be natural, no drugs, no intervention. Just me, Andy, baby, doctor, and the screaming bloody horror show.

Am I going to ask to go past my due date, then?

Am I going to decline when they offer to induce?

Am I going to be pregnant for the rest of my life?

Am I going to get lucky, and all of this decision-making will never have to happen?

Is my conviction going to go down the toilet at the first serious contraction and make all this pumped up, kicking-ass-and-taking-names, au naturel determination moot?

On the off chance that I'll want or care about music in the delivery room, I've made an extensive playlist of mellow songs on my iPod and packed up the iPod speaker in my overnight bag. One song on the list is "Witness" by Sarah McLachlan:
Make me a witness, take me out
Out of darkness, out of doubt
I won't weigh you down with good intentions
Won't make fire out of clay or other inventions

Will we burn in heaven, like we do down here?
Will the change come while we're waiting?
Everyone is waiting

And when we're done soul searching
As we carried the weight and died for a cause
Is misery made beautiful right before our eyes
Will mercy be revealed or blind us where we stand?

Will we burn in heaven, like we do down here?
Will the change come while we're waiting?
Everyone is waiting

Monday, May 10, 2010

37 weeks term

Today, Baby Schultz is officially full term. And, according to my husband, the equivalent of a basketball.

He or she is expected to be about 19 or 20 inches long and 6.5 pounds now, and gaining half an ounce per day. He or she spends the day "simulating breathing by inhaling and exhaling amniotic fluid, sucking on his or her thumb, blinking, and pivoting from side to side." Around now, the baby also probably has a full head of hair.

According to the chiropractor, I've had an influx of the Relaxin hormone, making my ligaments quite loose. It seems my sense of balance is more affected than ever... After several months, I took a chance on the Wii Fit the other night. It was quite a sight, I'm sure, when I stumbled off the board.

I continue to exercise, though -- everything from walking to bouncing on the exercise ball to Denise Austin's "Fit and Firm Pregnancy." Her breathy, perky voice makes me want to punch something.

Braxton Hicks contractions continue on, and only once did I consider there was a chance I could be in labor (obviously, it was a false alarm). After two hours of painful contractions that extended to my back, I fell asleep and woke up feeling fine.

It took me a little while to realize what has changed for me in the last few days. That feeling of deja vu? It's because my preoccupation with finding labor signs is just like my old preoccupation with finding ovulation and pregnancy signs back in 2009. Continuously analyzing bodily fluids and cramps, counting days, Google searching obscure medical terminology...

Sometimes I pause just to "reconnect" with the baby and remember to slow down and stop obsessing, if that's possible.

Walker says, "Mine."

Friday, May 7, 2010

36w 4d bound

In my eagerness, I may have given the wrong impression lately.

I love being pregnant, especially now that the baby is just about full-term. I wouldn't mind staying pregnant another four weeks.

All the negatives are nothing compared to the positives. While it's true that I'm uncomfortable, fatigued, sleeping poorly, have dragon-esque heartburn, haven't felt sexy in months, and can barely stand waiting to see our baby, I do want to stay pregnant a little while longer.

I've never been this connected, this bound to another person before. That isn't (or isn't just) a metaphor. I am physically (and emotionally and spiritually and every other -ally) wrapped around and completely responsible for this person. Me, just me.

And what's going to happen when I reach that stage of labor? A nurse, a stranger, will hold my baby in his or her hands. Someone else is going to cut the umbilical cord. And my baby is going to be out here -- out there -- in the world, separated.

Suddenly, it will only be a metaphor. The baby will not be bound to me.

Is this belly going to feel empty? It probably won't matter much; there will be a million sensations, moments, and memories taking place in those first hours and days of our baby's life.

But it doesn't change the fact that giving birth is going to be the first of many instances in my life as a mother that I will have to come to terms with distance and separation from someone to whom I have been irreversibly bound in my soul.

So, yes, I will stay pregnant a little longer, and smile through it, because every stretch and kick and hiccup that belongs solely to me is numbered.

From the haunting a cappella song "Mercy," by Sarah McLachlan:
With sweet breath you'd come to warm me
But I held on too hard to only a memory
You lie there on the swollen ground
Deserted in your heart
Still longing for what yesterdays lost
And for all that tomorrow might bring

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

36w 2d favorable

A conversation at the clinic, with me in a "compromised" position...

Doctor: Did I scare you last week?

Me: *confused laughter* No!

Doctor: Okay, yup, you're about 2 centimeters now.

Me: Yea!

Doctor: Yeah, I definitely don't think you're going to make it to your due date. You're going to have a baby in the next two weeks. I'll be really surprised if you reach 39 weeks.

Me: Don't say that -- It's just going to make me depressed when I hit my due date!

Doctor: With your favorable cervix, if you were to make it to your due date, I would induce you then.

Me: *giddy with delight*

It looks like it's going to be a May baby after all...

From "Livin' on the Edge," my favorite Aerosmith song:
We're livin' on the edge
You can't help yourself from falling
Livin' on the edge
You can't help yourself at all
Livin' on the edge
You can't stop yourself from falling
Livin' on the edge

Monday, May 3, 2010

36 weeks songbird

I guess I was never really convinced I'd be 36 weeks pregnant. Of course I knew that I would be. I just can't believe that this is it; we're here.

It'll be the same when I'm a mother. How unreal.

Here's a comparison photo... 6 weeks, 16 weeks, 26 weeks, and finally 36...

However, if you want to see the real deal, check out the Songbird Photography Blog for fantastic photos by a wonderful photographer. I'm so glad we did this!

Meanwhile, I'm going for walks, bouncing on the exercise ball, stretching, and paying close attention to the practice contractions. I'm uncomfortable but not having any trouble enjoying what's left of this crazy ride.