So there we were in the clearance aisle at Target – you know, the one near the entrance that has a bunch of stuff for a dollar – looking for a few new inexpensive toys to satisfy Brooklyn during this weekend’s five-hour car ride to Ohio. I was perusing the selection, trying to decide what would make a good car ride toy, when I heard trickling water. It took me a minute to realize that we weren’t anywhere near a water fountain or anything else that should have trickling water. I looked at Brooklyn who looked back at me with a sheepish grin and that’s when it hit me; the trickle of water was running down the front of the cart that B was sitting in and I was pushing.
Horrified, I looked up to see if anyone has noticed the pooling water at my feet. Thankfully, no, or at least they hid it pretty well. So we made a bee-line for the children’s clothing section to pick out the cheapest pair of pants we could find, and it just so happens that one of the things we were there to buy in the first place was new undies for B, which we already had in the cart. We quickly checked out and headed to the bathroom where I changed her into clean undies and pants and then we swiftly walked out of the store hoping to go unnoticed and feeling sorry for whoever gets that cart next.
That was last night’s adventure and it wasn’t B’s fault at all. She has been potty trained for months and does a great job of telling us when she needs to go. She probably told me 20 times while we were in Target that she had to go potty, but I didn’t listen. I was hoping she could hold it until we checked out since they don’t let you take merchandise into the bathrooms. Alas, I pushed the envelope too far and the dam broke.
By now, if you’re reading this, you’ve realized that I’m back. August 11, 2011 was the last time I posted on this site and it’s hard to believe it has been a year and a half since then. But I’ve made the decision to start it up again for a couple of reasons.
For one, a couple of days ago Carrie and I were trying to remember how far along she was when I started the blog a couple of years ago. It was fun looking back at the posts from her pregnancy and the first few months of B’s life. So much has happened in the year and a half since I stopped posting that I wish we had those memories to look back on as well. So basically, I’m starting it up again to serve as a digital journal/scrapbook/photo album of Brooklyn’s life and our job parenting and raising her.
Secondly, through a friend’s link on Facebook, I stumbled across an amazing post about what it means to be a dad and the power a dad has in a child’s life. Apparently it was written in 2010, but it might as well have been written yesterday as I had never seen it before. It’s still perfectly applicable and a good reminder for all dads. Reading through it, as well as other posts on the guy’s site, I realized how much I missed sharing the stories of B growing up and of the joy it is to be parenting her.
As for B, she’s full swing into the questioning stage where everything we say is met with endless “why?”s. Carrie gets tired of it because she hears it all day, everyday. I like it because I can just see the gears spinning in her little mind as she tries to learn and understand new things. My time with her is precious because I only get to see her for a few minutes in the morning, about an hour after work while we eat dinner and then I put her down, and on the weekends when I’m not out of town for work.
She’s also little miss independent, wanting to do everything herself. “I do it?” she always says. She carries her little stool around with her all over the house so she can climb up onto the kitchen chair, reach something on the counter, climb onto the potty by herself, etc.
She’s infatuated with grandma and grandpa (“gamma and gampa”) as she calls them. We’ve been fortunate enough to have seen them quite a bit over the past few months, so she’s getting nice and spoiled. If we forget to pray for them, she always reminds us. We’re going to visit them for Memorial Day, so she has been talking about it all week.
So anyway, that’s where things stand right now. I’m not sure how often I’ll be posting, especially in the next few weeks as I’m finishing up the Michigan football season preview magazine for Lindy’s Sports again, but I’ll try my best. And I don’t think I’ll be going back to the Wheaton Target anytime soon.
So I said in the post earlier this week that it didn’t seem like two months since I had last updated this blog, but I’ve been so busy the past couple of months I haven’t had a chance to sit down and write. Now that Carrie and Brooklyn are in Michigan on vacation while I had to stay home for work, I’ve had all the time in the world to get you caught up on the latest happenings.
I’m sure you know by now, but at the end of May, we moved to the suburbs of Chicago. We were wondering how much we would miss New York, and as the early results trickle in, we’ve found that we don’t really miss it at all. In a sense, our last year in Manhattan acted as a buffer to our exodus, since Washington Heights wasn’t exactly the city we loved for our first few years there.
Since then, we’ve done pretty much everything. We went to my grandma Bush’s 85th birthday party and the annual Potts 4th of July reunion in Ohio, vacation with my family in Edisto Island, SC, back to Ohio to throw a surprise 30th anniversary party for my parents, and now vacation in Michigan (I was there for the weekend, but couldn’t stay the week because of work). Oh, and sandwiched in between all that, I’ve traveled to Charlotte, Denver, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore for work.
In the past two months, Brooklyn has become even more beautiful and continues to show more and more personality. She still won’t take a bottle or a pacifier, but I did get her to eat rice cereal once. Other than that one time, she rejects it. And by that I mean spits it out so it gets all over her face and stuck in her neck rolls.
On vacation in Edisto, we took her to the pool and the beach, and to our surprise, she had absolutely no reaction at all. No laughing, no screaming, nothing. She was just content to be held in the water and even almost fell asleep in our arms. If only she was that chill when we’re trying to put her to sleep.
She had an ear infection when we got back from vacation, so that messed with her sleep schedule a little bit and now the pediatrician thinks she might be a little bit colicky. I think we were lucky the first few months that she was able to sleep through the night pretty well, but lately she’s been waking up once or twice in the middle of the night.
Like I’ve said before, it’s hard for me to complain because Carrie’s the one that has to endure the most of it. Since Brooklyn still won’t take a bottle, Carrie has to be up with her every time. Because of her GERD, we have to keep her upright for 20 minutes after each feeding, so it’s not as easy as just feeding her and putting her back to sleep. I’m trying to help out as much as possible by getting up for the 5a.m. feeding so Carrie can go back to sleep while I hold Brooklyn up and then put her back down. I really can’t adequately describe how much respect and admiration for her mothering of Brooklyn. I know she’s always exhausted and sometimes frustrated, but watching her raise Brooklyn and take such great care of her is just amazing.
They get home tomorrow, so I can’t wait to spend the weekend with them before more work travel starts up again.
I can’t believe it’s been almost two months since I’ve posted on here. It feels like last week. A lot has happened in the past couple months and I haven’t really had much time to just sit down and write a post. But now I’m home alone for the week while Carrie and Brooklyn are in Michigan with her family, so I might as well get caught up.
More to come in the next few days, but I thought I’d post a few pictures to give you a taste of what’s been going on the past couple months.
Last weekend, Brooklyn got her first taste of Heaven on earth when we stopped in Ann Arbor on our way home from a trip to Ohio. Even though I didn’t actually go to the University of Michigan (although I did get accepted), most of you know I’ve been a die-hard fan my whole life, and my family used to take yearly trips to Ann Arbor for a weekend each fall when I was growing up. I grew to love the university as much as the football team and have been dreaming of the day I could take my kid(s) to visit.
It certainly didn’t have the same feel as a college football fall Saturday, but the couple of hours we spent on campus gave Brooklyn (and Carrie, who is a Notre Dame fan) a glimpse of the greatest university in the world.
We started out with lunch at Zingerman’s Deli. It’s an amazing restaurant in the Kerrytown district of ann Arbor with way too many sandwiches to choose from, and lines down the block on college football Saturdays. Carrie was lusting over the the massive amounts of cheese they sell, but she can’t have it because of Brooklyn’s GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease). But anyway, the food was amazing as always and Carrie loved it. Brooklyn just slept the whole time.
After Zingerman’s, we drove into central campus and went to Moe’s and MDen to find Brooklyn a floppy hat since it was so hot and sunny. We found a good one and then walked the diag before Brooklyn started to get fussy, so we then went to the Big House to get some pictures. It was Brooklyn and Carrie’s first time seeing the mecca of football stadiums and it was the first time I’ve seen it since the renovations added a new press box and luxury boxes to either side. It looks amazing and the only thing missing was the scoreboards, which are being replaced from the old outdated ones to widescreen HD video boards.
Before we got back on the road, Carrie had to feed Brooklyn, so we were parked in the Crisler Arena lot right next to the Big House. The next thing we knew, a UofM golf cart pulled up about 50-feet away, right where we had been a few minuets earlier getting pictures, and the basketball coaching staff got out and walked into Crisler. Too bad we weren’t still standing there, or Brooklyn could have met Coach Beilein.
It was a short visit, but I’m glad both Brooklyn got to see campus and the Big House, even though she’ll never remember it. At least I got pictures to show her someday and I got the indoctrination started!
In Arcade Fire’s song Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains), Regine sings about the conflict between getting sucked into the suburban sprawl and the lure of the city lights. The entire album, which won album of the year in 2010, focuses on the suburbs, but this one song rings true right now since we are moving from the city out to the suburbs.
I grew up in the suburbs of Dayton, Ohio and went to college in the middle of the Indiana cornfields, but most of my adult life so far has been in the concrete jungle that is New York City. I reunited with Carrie while she was living here for grad school, and if not for that, I probably wouldn’t have ever lived in a major city. Five years later, I’ve discovered that everything that drew me to the city in the first place has been overshadowed by annoyances.
Five years ago, as a single guy recently out of college, the city was energizing, the subway was exciting, and the diversity was charming. Now, as a married man with a two month old daughter, the city is draining, the subway is taxing, and the diversity is annoying.
The chorus of Sprawl II goes, “Sometimes I wonder if the world’s so small; that we can never get away from the sprawl; Living in the sprawl; Dead shopping malls rise like mountains beyond mountains; And there’s no end in sight; I need the darkness, someone please cut the lights.”
I think if you’ve always lived in the ‘burbs, it’s easy to take for granted the quietness of your backyard, the ease of hopping in the car and driving to the store, and the community of a small town. But once you’ve lived in the throngs of a major city for a few years, you realize how much you miss those things.
When I worked at the NHL, one of my co-workers had lived his entire life in Manhattan. He had never played soccer on grass and didn’t even have his driver’s license because there was no reason to get one. He was a great guy, but I couldn’t imagine what that childhood must have been like.
I want Brooklyn and my subsequent kids to grow up playing soccer at the local fields on the weekends, learning how to drive when they turn 16, going to the mall with their friends, and doing all the things I used to do. I still hope they are able to grow up well-rounded with a respect for other cultures and types of people, but frankly, I don’t want them to be influenced by the many negative aspects of the city.
Now, I’m not saying that NYC (or any big city for that matter) is the only place that has problems. Every small town, every suburb, has its share of issues as well. But due to the sheer population and hodge-podge of cultures living in such close quarters, there are many more negatives than there are in the ‘burbs.
We loved our time here, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I will always believe that New York is the greatest city on earth and I think everyone should live here for at least a year. As Frank Sinatra sang, “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere,” and I certainly think that’s true.
After four years on the Upper East Side, we chose to move to Washington Heights last summer in order to save money. We knew we wanted to start trying to have a baby, so we decided it was time to really start saving. In the past year, we got a dog, had a baby, and were able to save a good chunk for an eventual down payment, but it became apparent that city living was no longer for us. As we counted down the months and days to Brooklyn’s arrival, we knew we had to move closer to family. Fortunately, my company was gracious enough to grant my request for a transfer to the main office in Chicago.
I look forward to Brooklyn growing up with her cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents close by; to coaching my kids’ little league teams; to not having to spend every penny of vacation money on trips home to visit family; and to buying a house with a yard so we don’t have to trek to the park for some fresh air.
We will always cherish our time here, the experiences we had together, the friends we made, the preaching of Tim Keller, the amazing food, and the lessons we learned, but now it’s time to close the chapter on New York and begin our journey in suburban Chicago.
With the impending move, we felt like we needed one last romp around the city, to remember what we will be leaving, and especially to show Brooklyn what this amazing city is like outside of the little Washington Heights bubble she has lived in for her first two months of existence. While it was a little sad to know we may never see these sights again, we realized just how right the decision to move is at this point in our lives, and we gained a new appreciation for the handicapped and those with small children who live their lives in the city.
My good friend from college, Jon (Snake, for those of you from Taylor) was in town for work, so we met up with him for lunch at Shake Shack on the Upper West Side. We ate on the benches outside the Museum of Natural History (yes, I somehow made it five years in NYC without going to a single museum…sad, I know). Brooklyn was pretty good up until this point, but was starting to get fussy, so we walked into Central Park and walked all the way across to our old neighborhood, the Upper East Side.
After a quick Starbucks visit (always a must), we got some pics at the reservoir in Central Park, and then walked back through our old haunts. Luckily, our favorite bartender in the city, Jara, was working at Bullpen, our favorite sports bar on the UES, so we went in to say goodbye and introduce her to Brooklyn. She served us many a drink and meal on college football Saturdays the past few years when Michigan and Notre Dame were playing at the same time and we were forced to go to a bar to watch.
We then got on the train and went down to the Brooklyn Bridge because Brooklyn can’t leave NYC without ever seeing the famous bridge she’s (not really) named after. We walked halfway across, got some good pics, and walked back. By that time, Carrie had to feed Brooklyn again, so we stopped at some benches at the foot of the bridge. A guy nearby started counting down, “5, 4, 3, 2, 1….” and surprise! the clock struck 6pm and the world didn’t end today after all. Who knew?
We walked over to the 2/3 train and took it up the west side to our favorite Thai place, Land. When we got off the train, to our amazement, the ground was soaked and people were just folding up their umbrellas. It had been perfectly sunny the entire day up until that point, and somehow, for the 30 minutes we were on the train, it stormed like crazy, but was done by the time we came back above ground.
The train was a pain in and of itself, as Brooklyn wasn’t feeling her stroller, so Carrie was carrying her in the Moby wrap and I was holding the stroller on the PACKED train, feeling the dirty looks burning holes right through me as people were forced to contort their bodies around the stroller (that wasn’t even holding a baby) to hold onto the poles.
Dinner at Land was amazing as always, except that Brooklyn always has this knack for waking up and getting fussy right when the food comes. I mean, there are certain things you can count on in this world, like the sun coming up, the wold not ending on May 21, 2011, and Brooklyn not letting us eat peacefully.
After dinner is where things got really interesting, as if God was confirming to us that it was indeed time to leave this city. We left Land, which is at 82nd & Amsterdam, and walked across to try to catch the A train on Central Park West. We carried the stroller down the subway stairs only to realize that the A was running express from 59th to 125th, so we would either have to take the downtown A to 59th and transfer to the uptown, or walk across to the 1 at 86th & Broadway.
We didn’t really want to go back downtown, so we walked across to the 1. We got down the stairs just as a 3 train was pulling away. Hmmm, that’s weird, the 3 train shouldn’t be stopping here. Apparently the 1 train was skipping that stop today. The 2 and 3 go to the Bronx, not anywhere near our place, so we have to take the 1. So we got on the next train that came by, a 2 train, and took it to 96th and transfered to the 1. Then, we found out that the 1 was only going to 168th (we go to 191st) due to construction. Great. It’s 9:30, we’ve been out all day, Brooklyn is so tired, and we don’t want to get off at 168th because it’s not a great neighborhood and hard to catch cabs there.
We decided we would take the 1 to 125th and transfer to the A. Unfortunately, that involved carrying Brooklyn and the stroller down a huge set of stairs from the 1 train, and then walking a few blocks across a dicey neighborhood at night and then down more stairs to the A.
We made it just as a train was pulling in. Whew, finally some luck, we thought. Nope. As soon as we got on, Brooklyn lost it. Screaming as if we had just ripped off her arm. We were trying to calm her down, but she was tired and hungry and overstimulated from a long day, and nothing was working. It’s hard enough being “those people” with a screaming baby on the subway, annoying everyone else. But then, this lady gets up and comes over to us and has the following exchange with Carrie:
Lady: “What’s wrong with her?”
Carrie: “She’s hungry and tired.”
Lady: “Well why don’t you give her a bottle?”
Carrie: “She’s breastfed.”
Lady: “Well you’re supposed to pump so you have bottles.”
Carrie: “Yes, but she won’t take a bottle.”
Lady: “She won’t take a bottle? Well what about a pacifier?”
Carrie: “She won’t take that either.”
Lady: “Well do you have one?”
Carrie: “No, we don’t have one with us because she refuses them.”
Lady: “Well shouldn’t you hold her?”
Carrie: “We’re getting off soon, so I’ll just have to put her right back in the stroller.”
Lady: “How far are you going?”
Carrie: “To 190th Street.”
So then the lady goes back and sits down and says to her friends, “It’s okay, they’re getting off in a couple stops.”
It took everything in me not to punch the lady, and it infuriated Carrie as well. She handled it amazingly, but was really upset because she was already horrified that her daughter was screaming on the subway and there was nothing we could do about it at that point, but then this nosy, meddling lady pretty much made her feel like the worst mother ever in front of a train full of people.
It was a great day overall and some of the places really made us sad to leave the city, but the difficulty of taking a baby in a stroller through the city, and having strangers who always think they know better tell you how to handle your kid really made us glad we’re moving out to the suburbs. We realized how hard it must be for handicapped people in this city because it’s really not designed for them at all. Most of the subway stations don’t have elevators, MTA service has gotten continually worse over the past five years while prices have continually risen, and sidewalks are so packed with people rushing past that it’s hard enough to push a stroller, let alone a wheelchair or anything like that.
We lived the city life for five or six years and loved it, but now that we have a family, and life is about more than just having a good time together, it’s time to go.
It has been way too long since we have posted anything and I’m sure you’re wondering if we fell off the face of the earth. The past five weeks since the last post have been very busy and filled with smiles, squeals, and lots of crying.
Through the first few weeks, Carrie had been having some trouble with breastfeeding and getting a good latch. I’ll let her get more into that later, but she hired a consultant to come in and help her out and since then, things have been great. The only problem is that it’s working so well that we’re having trouble getting Brooklyn to take a bottle now. She just won’t do it.
Sleeping has been good and bad. I guess it depends on the day. She’s starting to sleep longer at night and some nights she goes 6-7 hours, eats, goes right back to sleep, and all is grand. But last night, we put her to bed around 9pm, she slept until 3:30am, and wouldn’t go back to sleep until almost 6am. Carrie & I took turns trying to rock, bounce, and will her to sleep and it was pretty frustrating. So we’re trying to find the right balance of sleep and awake time throughout the day.
During her awake time, we are really starting to see more of her personality emerge every day. She smiles and squeals a lot and she’s just on the verge of laughing. Carrie heard her laugh once in the middle of her sleep, and now we can tell she tries to laugh but can’t quite figure out how just yet. I think within the next couple weeks she will be laughing.
A week ago, I had to go to Chicago for work, so we decided to do a pre-move and drive from NYC to Chicago by way of Ohio. We left Friday night after work and made it 3-4 hours before stopping for the night. On Saturday, we drove to my parents’ house in Tipp City, Ohio, where we went to dinner with them and then went to their new church (www.thebridgetippcity.com) for the first time. They got to show their granddaughter off to their friends. On Sunday, we went the rest of the way to Nana and Pappy’s house in Winfield, Illinois, where we spent the week.
It was Brooklyn’s first road trip, and she did really well. She only screamed a couple of times. One was when we were stuck in bumper-to-bumper construction traffic on I-80 for about 45 minutes and she screamed the entire time. The other time she screamed for more than a minute or two was while driving through Columbus. I kid you not. Further proof that she’s a Michigan fan. All-in-all, she did great, and so did Buddy, who came along as well.
Brooklyn got to meet her three cousins, Gavin, Eldon, and James, and they all loved her. Gavin was so proud that he got to hold her all by himself and he couldn’t quite figure out how old she was when we told him she was seven weeks. “She’s seven?” said Gavin.
It was a great week, and we left Buddy with Nana and Pappy while we returned to NY for our last three weeks here. Now, we’re trying to pack and get everything ready for the big move. We’re also trying to take in all the fun things (and restaurants) we love about NY before we go. This Tuesday is our three year anniversary, so we’re looking forward to celebrating that!
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Brooklyn is now a little over three weeks young and she couldn’t be more amazing. She’s not very talkative (haha) but she’s the best daughter we could have possibly asked for. For the first week or two, she slept on and off and we established a feeding schedule of every two hours. Those first couple weeks were exclusively breastfeeding.
Around the end of the second week, she began sleeping a little longer during the night and we adjusted the feeding schedule to every two hours during the day, and then whenever she wakes up hungry during the night. Lately, we’ve been getting three to four hours in between each night feeding, and last night we even got a five hour break.
Of course, this is much harder for Carrie than me, since she’s the one tasked with feeding her. It takes between 30 minutes and an hour each time, which means if there are two hours in between feedings, Carrie only gets a one to one-and-a-half hour break. Throughout the night, I wake up each time to change her diaper either before or after the feeding and then put her back to sleep afterward. I might be speaking for myself on this one, but I feel like we have been very lucky (and blessed) so far, since she’s not colicky and sleeps fairly well.
In the first few days, we didn’t think that would be the case. We started out trying to get her to sleep in her pack-and-play (we don’t have an actual crib yet), but she wouldn’t sleep laying on her back. Then we tried her swing, but again, that wasn’t working. Finally, we tried the car seat, and bingo! So she now sleeps in her car seat on top of the pack-and-play, right next to our bed.
One of the funny side effects of new parenthood (which I’m sure happens to every new parent) is that we have become so paranoid that it affects our sleep. Whichever one of us is laying on the side of the bed right next to her, looks up every time she makes a noise, to make sure she’s ok. When she’s sleeping, going in and out of REM sleep, she makes a lot of little sighs, grunts, whines, and yes, farts. She’s perfectly fine, but when we’re laying there trying to fall asleep, we have to keep reminding ourselves of that, or else we’ll go crazy sitting up and checking her every time she makes a peep.
The other part of that is waking up thinking she’s in the bed with us. We have never had her sleep in the bed with us, but sometimes Carrie feeds her in the bed. On different occasions, we have both woken up and searched frantically through the sheets and covers for her, as if she was smothered underneath. Of course, we finally realize that she’s safe and sound in her car seat next to the bed. The other night, Carrie was already asleep, and so was Brooklyn, by the time I came to bed. I got in bed and tried to hug Carrie, but she pushed me away, and in her sleep, said, “Don’t; you’ll break the latch.” When I told her she said that the next day, she had no recollection of it. Apparently, she subconsciously thought she was feeding Brooklyn in her sleep.
Despite the paranoia, things are going well. In the past few days, Brooklyn has started taking a bottle and sucking on a pacifier. When we first tried both, she rejected them, but now, both are able to calm her down if she’s crying, which she really hardly ever does unless she’s hungry.
We have also been fortunate enough to have plenty of help. Carrie’s mom came for about 10 days right after we got home from the hospital. Carrie’s dad also came out for a day and Carrie’s sister, Lisanne, came for a few days this past week. My parents are coming next weekend to see their very first grandchild. We are very blessed and can’t wait for the rest of you to meet her!
She was so tiny when she was born (five pounds eight ounces) and then went down to five pounds two ounces after a couple of days, but she regained her birth weight by the first appointment with the pediatrician three days after birth. The next time we went, a week later, she was already up to six pounds three ounces, and I think she’s even bigger now, though she’s nowhere near the size of the baby boy that some good friends of mine just had (nine pounds one ounce). Congrats to Jared and Mandy!
She has definitely become more alert, animated, and vocal over the course of the last three weeks. Sometimes during the day she’ll just sit in her car seat and make noises, flail her arms, and look around. It’s hard to picture her older and bigger, but I can’t wait to see how she grows and develops in the coming months! Stay tuned.
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No turning back
I went to bed Thursday night feeling good, but really tired. It was the only day since going back to work that I had stayed all the way until 5pm…go figure. Around 12:30, I got up to go to the bathroom, and was hardly awake, when suddenly my legs were soaked and I realized this was not normal. Suddenly I’m running the 10 feet to the bathroom yelling, “J, I think my water just broke!!!!” I sat there in disbelief as I realized that, in fact, my water had broken and that meant there was no turning back now. Justin came into the bathroom trying to wake up and comprehend what I was saying, and to process exactly what it meant.
We decided not to call our doctor because we knew that we would then be “on the clock” to deliver within 24 hours, but labor had not started at all at this point, and we didn’t want to risk being induced. Justin called Tanya, our doula, and she agreed with our decision and told us to get as much rest as possible and to text her when contractions started, and to then call around 5am.
We went back to bed and contractions started within 30 minutes or so. I told Justin to go to sleep, that I could easily handle these early contractions without any help, and I needed him to be as rested as possible in the coming hours. This lasted probably an hour and then I really needed his help to get through each contraction.
As I was lying there, I was trying to relax every part of my body so that my uterus could take all the energy it needed in order to make the contractions effective. I pictured my uterus as a piece of machinery that was gaining power with each contraction. I envisioned it pulling all the energy inward from each of my limbs, which were totally limp. With each contraction, a little bit more of my uterus would light up, and eventually the whole thing would light up, and that would be when I was ready to push. This worked for a while, but eventually, lying down was no longer an option.
There were some really challenging contractions, and all I wanted to do was take a hot shower or bath to help me relax. Unfortunately, our building has a sub-par hot water heater so Justin kept checking for me, but there was zero hot water, so I just had to wait until it kicked in again. I was really emotional at this point, and kept crying in between contractions about how I wanted so badly to do this labor naturally, but I just wasn’t sure that I could actually do it. Justin was amazing at keeping me focused on the present and telling me that not only could I do it, I was actually doing it, so just keep it up! I could feel myself becoming more and more dependent on him with every contraction as the intensity picked up and my energy level was dropping.
Justin helped me sit up and that helped some, but it limited how much I could relax the rest of my body. We tried sitting on the birthing ball (an exercise ball), leaning over it (NOT a good position for me), and anything else we could think of to help relieve some of the pain and allow me to relax. Eventually, I ended up sitting on the toilet and that was the most comfortable I was for the next eight hours or so.
Yes I can!
Around 7am, Justin ran to Duane Reade for me to get some drinks and other things I needed. At first, I was totally terrified to have him leave. He had been with me for every contraction and was so encouraging that the thought of him being gone even for a little bit was almost too much. I really needed him to go to the store, though, so I decided to get into the shower and thank the Lord we had hot water. As I stood in the shower, I rocked back and forth and started chanting, “Yes I can!!” I realized that mentally, labor was getting away from me, and if I was serious about doing this med-free, I was going to have to gain control of my mind and work hard to focus.
While Justin was gone, I started throwing up during contractions, so as soon as he got back he called Tanya and told her this. She said she was on her way over right away, since this was a change in my labor and indicated that things had stepped up. When Tanya arrived and rang our doorbell I had just started a contraction and Justin started to head to the buzzer to let her in. I think it’s a miracle that my nails didn’t dig into his arms to keep him with me until the contraction ended. He had no more than opened the door for her when another one came and I was screaming from the bathroom for him to come back to me—I think he covered the length of our apartment in about 3 leaps to get to me!
Tanya and Justin talked for a minute and I remember hearing her say, “Oh she looks great, she’s really doing it, this is great” so that was encouraging. I was really doubting myself because I didn’t think I was doing it “right.” I told Tanya this and she was so sweet—she said of course I was doing it right, I’m having my baby and I’m doing exactly what I needed to do!
We had arranged for our dog Buddy to go to a dog sitter’s house while we had the baby, so once Tanya arrived, Justin was planning to take him. While he was getting dressed to leave, Tanya asked me where Justin needed to go, and when I told her 27th street (we live on 196th), her face totally changed and she immediately went to tell Justin that Buddy was on his own because that was NOT an option at this point. I must say, I was really relieved because I really didn’t want him to leave me.
Next time, have a home birth…
Instead, she said we were going to the hospital because I was in a lot of labor at that point. Suddenly, I was really scared at the prospect of going to the hospital and really having this baby. It also didn’t help to think of getting into a cab and driving down the West Side Highway while contracting, but as Tanya explained, “Next time have a home birth, but right now, we’re going to the hospital”.
I think that was what I needed to hear—that we’re going and that we’ll take it one minute at a time, and at the end I would have my baby girl. I had 2 contractions before we got to the front door of our building so I’m sure the people on the first floor thought some animal was dying in the lobby, but it was really just my moaning.
As we got into the cab, the driver looked totally terrified and started yelling “ambulancia, ambulancia!!” Tanya assured him that I was fine, this was not an emergency and he needed to get us to the hospital. As we were driving, I was holding my head halfway out the window and Tanya was putting counter-pressure on my hips to relieve some of the tension and pressure. This was by far the longest car ride of my life and ended with a trip down what I have labeled the road from hell—where potholes in NYC go to die!! As we pulled up to the hospital I heard the driver (speaking Spanish), giving our credit card number to the dispatcher and he was saying, “Run the number, this woman is going to give birth in my car!!!”
As we got into the elevator at the hospital, someone had the nerve to get in with us and press for a stop at the 5th floor (we’re going to the 12th). Even in my state of semi-awareness I wanted to tell them how annoying that was to me in that moment. We also stopped at the 2nd floor so someone else could get on, but they took one look at me and decided it was not worth it! Finally we got to the 12th floor and I was so relieved to be there—the final leg of the journey!
Been here before
The waiting room in triage was packed, but at this point I couldn’t open my eyes, I was just focused on each contraction as it came so I just kept doing my thing. After about 20 minutes of waiting (and lots of contractions, and throwing up in front of a bunch of strangers), we were called back into triage.
As we went back, I felt myself getting really defensive because our hospital separates the laboring mother from her spouse to do a domestic violence screening (yes, WHILE she is in labor!). The triage nurse started to tell us that we needed to be separated and at that point I was yelling, “He is NOT leaving me, there is no domestic violence, we have been here before!” She was not fond of my behavior and said, “Well if you’ve been here before then you know how to put the gown on—last room on the right,” and walked off in a huff.
Once we got settled, Dr. Shulina came in to examine me and see our progress and this is where things went downhill for me, mentally. She said I was at 4cm (I was expecting 7-8). I wish I could say at this point that I was brave and courageous and kept my eyes on the prize, but I wasn’t and I didn’t. I lost it. I was sure she had made a mistake and was totally beside myself. Justin was working so hard to keep me calm but I was truly in a state of panic. Dr. Shulina had to really talk me down and get me to re-focus on what I was doing. Contractions were really strong and I figured I had a good 8-12 hours to go and was convinced that I couldn’t do it—there was no way. I told Justin I wanted the epidural and that I wanted it NOW. I figured I would have it eventually, so there was no need to wait! Again, I became really emotional, because I was so disappointed that we wouldn’t have the birth we both wanted so badly, but I was drowning in self-defeat by this time.
Justin was amazing—he just kept encouraging me to keep it up, that I was doing great, even though I kept telling him just the opposite. Finally, Dr. Shulina decided that I was severely dehydrated because I was continuing to throw up all the water/Gatorade I was drinking, so I needed an IV. She explained that my uterus was not relaxing between contractions because of the dehydration so in essence I wasn’t getting a break between contractions. Although I wasn’t able to verbalize it, this made a big difference to me. Knowing that something wasn’t working 100% the way it should made me think that maybe I could do this once my body was back to laboring the way it needed to.
The same nurse who greeted us at triage was responsible for getting my IV ready and in my arm, and she took her sweet time. Even in my state of labor I knew this was taking a long time, and when she finally came in, it’s a miracle Justin didn’t smack her for not getting there sooner! Originally, I did NOT want an IV because I wanted to be free to walk around between contractions, but at this point I had no interest in walking, so I figured an IV couldn’t hurt. The feeling of that cold liquid going into my arm was like pure adrenaline going into my body.
I had the IV in my arm for only 5-10 minutes when suddenly the room was full of nurses and doctors. They were telling me that they couldn’t keep Brooklyn’s heart beat on the monitor and they needed me to turn onto my side. I told them I couldn’t but the resident looked at me and said, “Your baby is in trouble—get on your side.” Suddenly, what she was saying clicked in my mind and I rolled to my side and they started me on an oxygen mask. Again, I really started to panic because I didn’t know what was going on but all of these people in our room made me think something was REALLY wrong.
I HAVE TO PUSH!
They did another exam to check my progress and just as the resident announced, “She’s fully plus two, go get Shulina,” I had the most unbelievable urge to push. Dr. Shulina came right in and they started to move me into a delivery room (we had been in triage for about 30-40 minutes at this point). As they’re moving my bed, my arm was lifted into the air because my IV was still attached to the wall. A nurse told me to keep my arms inside the bed and Justin kindly reminded her that it was because my arm was attached to an IV which was still in our triage room!
As we were moving into the delivery room I told Shulina, “I HAVE TO PUSH”, and she responded with the calmest voice, “So push!” That was a great comfort to me—I had been in a panic mode in triage and Shulina made it clear that this was the most natural thing in the world, so if I wanted to push then it’s time to push and that was fine with her!
Once we got settled into the delivery room, Shulina started talking to me about how to push, and preparing me for the “ring of fire.” I had read a LOT of labor stories and knew a lot about the stages of labor, so I was prepared for this, but I still found that I was scared. Many of my friends had pushed for several hours and I told her I couldn’t do this for 3 hours! Again, she was totally calm and said, “You won’t—you’ll be done very soon!” She probably couldn’t have really known that, but at that moment I needed to hear it, and it helped change my attitude to an attitude of “Yes, I can do this—my body is designed for it!”
With the next contraction, I had the most satisfying feeling of pushing. Finally, instead of trying to relax into contractions, and allowing my body to take over, I could do something in response to the urges. I was mostly on my back but sitting up to push when again, Brooklyn’s heart rate was not steady enough for Shulina’s liking, so she had me lay on my right side. Again, Justin was AMAZING. My entire upper body was supported completely by him, and from my hips down I was on the bed on my side. Between contractions I just wanted to bury my face in his chest and hold his hand because it was such a comfortable and safe place. With each push it was amazing that I could feel Brooklyn moving through my body, and I knew I was so close to meeting her.
As she was starting to crown, Dr. Shulina took my hand so I could touch her head and I remember yelling, “I don’t want to touch her; I want her OUT!” It sounds bad, but what I really meant was that I didn’t want just the top of her head; I wanted to hold my baby girl!
The most beautiful sound
Finally, she was there, screaming bloody murder, and it was the most beautiful sound! The cord was around her neck once, which was why her heart rate was dropping (it was being compressed), but once she was out everything was perfect!
When they handed her to me I couldn’t believe how tiny she was. I also couldn’t believe that I had gone from 4 cm to holding my daughter in an hour and fifteen minutes (maybe less)!! They took her away a few minutes later to get her foot prints and do the eye ointment, foot prick etc, and while I HATED being separated from her, it was a beautiful sight to see Justin over there with her with his hand covering almost her whole upper body. Finally the nurse brought her back and Tanya helped us get started on breast feeding.
By far, this was the hardest most emotional experience of my life, but it was also an intensely empowering experience. I felt like if Justin and I could handle this, we had a good start into parenthood. I have never needed another human being the way I needed Justin during those 12 hours, and seeing the way he took care of me took our relationship to an even deeper level. He was my rock– emotionally, physically and mentally throughout this labor. I am so deeply thankful that we got the labor we wanted and that we did it together—Praise the Lord!
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