Monday, September 28, 2015

Sayanora, Ryan's big white truck.

It was midnight and the air was hot, heavy and silent but for the repetitive whirring of two tired box fans. All five of us were sound asleep when outside there was a long screech and a ridiculously loud smashing sound. My eyes snapped open and Ryan rolled over in bed.

"Did the fan fall over?" He asked, face scrunched and eyes foggy with confusion.

"That was definitely outside," I answered, ever the detective.

"Someone probably ran into my truck," he said, his voice a mix of sarcasm and an eerie sleep-addled prophecy.

And ohhhhh, "ran into" was the understatement of the year, folks.

We live in a townhouse on the corner of a residential street and a fairly busy commercial street. When we bought the place and moved in, we realized Ryan's big, manly, double-cab, full-size, Midwestern pick-up truck was too long to fit into our modest little Californian garage. But that was fine, right? There was plenty of street parking - it wasn't a big deal. So, the car went in the garage and the truck parked outside on the side of the street, along with a myriad of other neighbors' vehicles. And all was well...until one fateful hot night last week.

Ryan left the room to go look out the hall window.

"It was my truck," he grumbled, running back into our room and throwing on a t-shirt. "Somebody hit my truck."

"What?! You're kidding me?!" I was out of the bed like my buns were on fire, running out into the hall to stare out the window (forget clothes, you guys, this nosey homegirl was standing in the window in her skivvies, obviously) while Ryan went outside to deal with the aftermath.

The crash was so loud, it had woken several of our neighbors, who were also outside. On the deserted late night street a mustang, presumably driving WAY too fast, had slammed into the side of the truck.  It demolished the back side and launched the truck up onto the sidewalk where it took out a big metal pole and bounced back into the street. A mustang. Took out a full-size pick-up truck.

And then, the driver tried to flee the scene in his completely destroyed and non-operational car. When that didn't work, he tried to leave on foot. Because, as we later discovered, he was drunk, unlicensed and uninsured - I mean, we really hit the trifecta here.

An hour or two and many police questions later and we were back in bed - the hot scent of spilled gasoline and tire rubber still wafting through the open window, thoughts of insurance claims and lawsuits buzzing through our overwhelmed minds, sweaty, wide-eyed, one vehicle and several thousand dollars poorer than we were when we'd first gone to sleep.

It's almost a funny story now that the truck's been towed away and we have a shiny new vehicle we didn't want to spend money on sitting in our garage. Almost.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Dad time.

For us, bath time has always been Dad time.

At the hospital after Knox was born via Cesarean, pretty much the entire first three days of Knox's life were Dad time. Dad was the one who first laid eyes on our sweet baby boy. Dad was the one who cut his cord and first cradled him in his arms. Dad's was the first chest he laid against, skin-to-skin, while Mama was a room away having her insides sewn back into place by a team of doctors. Dad did all the swaddling, the booger suctioning, the diaper changing, the delivering of baby to Mama's chest when it was time for a middle-of-the-night feeding. When I think of those first few days of his life, in a way it breaks my heart a little bit to think of how I missed out. But at the same time, it makes my heart swell to know that Ryan got to play such a special role in the delivery of our son. To know that they got an early start on their father-son bond.

And now, as a work-from-home Mama, I get to be a huge chunk of Knox's daily life. I get to be with him while he nurses, sleeps, cries and sneezes, while he coos, grins, spits up and rolls over. But bath time is still his favorite Dad time - Mama just can't give a bath quite like Dad can.

This past Saturday was my first day "back at work" - I was gone for 12 hours shooting a wedding. It was by far the longest I had been away from Knox in his tiny little lifetime and it was Dad's first day being back at the reigns as full-time baby caregiver. I survived with more grace than I thought I might, and Ryan was elated for their first boys' day of watching football on TV and strollering to the grocery store on a beer run. As requested (demanded...whatever), he sent me photos throughout the day to let me know they were doing well. And in the middle of a busy wedding day, as I paused to look at a picture of my boys - Ryan cradling Knox in his arms as he fed him a bottle in the rocking chair where I nurse him - I felt that same simultaneous swelling of heartbreak and pride.

Oh, how I love my boys and I love the love they're growing for each other just as much.

Monday, August 10, 2015

You made me a Mama.

Seven weeks. Seven weeks in and I still don't quite feel like a Mama. Maybe it's because the majority of the daily cleaning that goes down in our house is completed by the Roomba (and yet I still put "Run Roomba" on my to-do list just because the act of picking up a few things off the ground and pressing the 'start' button totally gives me an embarrassingly oversized sense of accomplishment). Maybe it's because I'm still hanging out all day every day in my workout attire and with wet shower hair (because I never know when this nugget is going to drift off for a nap and I want to be totally prepared for an impromptu opportunity for fitness...and also, because in the interest of full disclosure, these sweatpants are still all that fits me well right now). Maybe it's because I'm still making immature jokes, listening to the Pandora stations of my favorite bands from Junior High (hello, Dashboard Confessional), and watching way too much Netflix. Or maybe it's because I still have essentially no knowledge of what to do with babies outside of the wee little daily routine Knox and I have created for ourselves. Our days of nursing and snuggles, reading stories and little bursts of play time. Lots of little cat naps and long staring contests with the tasseled garland I made for above his changing table while I change his dirty diapers.

I'm not certain what would make me feel like a real Mama right now (perhaps if a mini-van stocked with miniature sports gear and Disney CDs materialized in our garage and I instantly had the accumulated knowledge of 1000 moms combined?) but I'm sure it'll come with time, experience and the simultaneous blessing/curse of many more nights of inadequate sleep.

And for now, I know I am and forever will be "Mama", even if it seems too good and too foreign to be true just yet.

Our first family photos by Jessica M. Wood Photography during Knox's 2nd week. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Knox Elon: A Birth Story

On Wednesday, June 17th, we walked into the hospital for an appointment to see how our little guy was doing a full ten days past his due date. I was having fairly regular contractions, but they were nothing more than mildly uncomfortable and with a Bishop score of only 3-4 and hopes for a natural birth, we decided we would go home and give Knox a few more days to make his way into the world on his own before we would try an induction.
Just as we were preparing to leave, our doctor came back. She told us there was one quick thing from our non-stress test that she wanted to give a second look. It seemed that after a few of my contractions, Knox's heart rate was dropping very slightly. She left the room to confer with another doctor and when she returned she told us that because of the heart rate decelerations, she would recommend inducing that day. So, with Knox's health in mind, our plans changed - all of the sudden, it seemed his birth would be under way after all.
There wasn't a labor and delivery room available immediately, so we walked the maternity wing for a bit trying to get things moving on our own. My parents had arrived the day before (fully intending to be greeted by an already-born baby and instead greeted by a super pregnant lady and a still-empty carseat) and at noon they came to bring us food. We scarfed down a delicious lunch in the waiting room and then returned to our pacing. Finally, that afternoon they were ready for us and we checked into L&D room number 9.
During our pregnancy I'd spent so much time carefully creating a birth plan and preparing myself for my goal of a natural birth. I'd listened to my Hypnobabies tracks, I'd read all the natural birth books I could find and for weeks I'd been doing pelvic exercises, going to the chiropractor and bouncing on my birth ball until my butt was numb trying to get Knox into the best position to initiate labor. The first item on our plan was, "We would like to allow labor to begin and progress naturally". Goal number one - out the window immediately. Of course we knew that ultimately the particulars of his birth were totally out of our control, but we were still optimistic about reducing the number of interventions needed, so we opted for a foley bulb induction to help coax my body into labor.
Our doctor placed the bulb at 5:30PM on Wednesday afternoon and my contractions got stronger almost immediately. Things were happening! We were pumped and settled in for what we hoped would be a long but exciting night. 
We walked the wing and breathed through the contractions until it was time to go to bed.
With the foley bulb in place, Knox's heart rate had to be monitored for 20 minutes every hour all throughout the night. Between the monitors coming on and off, the steady contraction pains and my constant need to go to the bathroom, we slept very little.
At 8:30AM on Thursday morning, the foley bulb came out and I was dilated to 4cm. But the contractions weren't coming any closer together. The doctor on call recommended we start Pitocin to get things moving along. We asked to wait a few hours to try and encourage my body to pick up the pace on its own - so, we ate breakfast (my last meal) and back to walking we went. 
Because I had tested GBS positive during my third trimester, a nurse hooked me up for my first dose of pre-delivery antibiotics at noon.
The penicillin burned like CRAZY but at least with my battery powered IV stand, I could still roam the halls like a crazy woman.
At 2:00PM, still at 4cm and with Knox hanging out very high in my belly, we agreed to begin Pitocin. Boom - another big blow to our natural birth plan. But after a day and a half at the hospital, we were more than ready to meet our baby.
On Pitocin Knox required constant monitoring, so we were restricted to moving within only a few feet of my bed...
Thank God for a new season of Orange is the New Black.
And for rousing games of hangman to serve as a distraction.
Just before 6:00pm the contractions grew very strong, very quick. 
Ryan was my rock and got us through the contractions one at a time. At 9:30PM we called our doula, Lysa. I can't even remember her arrival, I was so outside of my body and in the zone. She checked for signs and listened to me labor and she thought we must be getting close to transition. We thought for sure we'd have a baby in our arms soon. 
At 10:30PM the doctor on call came and I gripped Ryan's arm as the doctor checked my progress. When he told us nothing had changed and I was still at 4cm, I was devastated. When he left, our doula helped us refocus on our goal, but my confidence was completely shaken. 
At midnight on Friday, after a full day without food and 10 hours of Pitocin, I was exhausted. No matter how hard Ryan and Lysa worked to relax my body through the contractions, I couldn't keep my muscles from shaking uncontrollably. We requested another exam and when we learned I had still made no progress at all, I begged for an epidural - I knew my body and my mind couldn't handle more pain without progress and I hoped I could at least preserve enough energy to push when it came time.
I was disappointed in myself and my body, but after the epidural my muscles finally calmed and we were all able to sleep on and off for a couple of hours. At 5:00AM I had still made no progress and now Knox's heart rate was decelerating with each contraction. They turned off the Pitocin to give him rest. Shortly after, I grew extremely nauseous. I asked Ryan for a trash bag and as I threw up I felt a huge gush - my water had broken simultaneously. We were pumped, hoping that maybe this would bring the baby down and things would move forward. But after another hour and another exam, I was still in the same position I'd been at 24 hours earlier.  
At 7:30AM they restarted the Pitocin and Knox's heart rate became erratic. The doctor on call told us that with Knox up so high, no progress in dilation and Knox not tolerating the Pitocin, a C-section might be our only remaining option. After a quick talk (and some exhausted and disbelieving laughs at how far we had deviated from our birth plan), we agreed. By 8:30AM, I was in the operating room.
At 8:48AM on Friday morning, our third day in the hospital and twelve days past his due date, our little Knox the fox was born.
I heard him cry right away and from behind the sheet I remember thinking how he sounded like a baby bird while they weighed and cleaned him on the other side of the room before Ryan brought him over to meet me. 
The surgeons told us that the way Knox was positioned, he was stuck on my pelvis and couldn't have made it through the birth canal on his own. 
It certainly wasn't anything like the birth experience we'd anticipated, but our Knoxy is finally here and as perfect and healthy as can be. We couldn't really ask for anything more amazing than that.