It wouldn’t be a pregnancy of mine, if I didn’t terrorize a triage resident

A week ago, I started experiencing extremely strong Braxton Hicks contractions that I recorded as coming every 3-5 minutes for over an hour. On the advice of my doctor I made my way to labor and delivery to have them monitored. Because of their strength and frequency the Labor and Delivery nurses thought surely I’d be having our baby boy that evening, but after my examination the on call doctor told me the contractions weren’t causing me to dilate any further and she was sending me home.

I burst into tears.

This would be less embarrassing if this were my first child instead of my second, or if this exact same scenariohadn’t occurred with my first babe. In the midst of my blubbering it was impossible to explain that I wasn’t upset, perse, about going home – in fact, I had no interest in having my baby early, actually, I was just concerned I wouldn’t know when actually to return to labor and delivery.

“Come back when your pain is a 10 out of 10,” the resident said, backing away. It’s something the nurses reiterated, and a measurement I knew to be preferred by the hospital at which I plan to deliver – the hospital performs over eleven thousand deliveries a year and has two floors expressly dedicated to delivering babies – its capacity makes it one of the premiere mother/baby hospitals in the nation but also means little time can be wasted on the Braxton Hicks contractions of an reactive second time mom-to-be.

I left triage a hormonal, sobbing mess, trying to explain to Ian that I was crying because I felt silly, and because I was concerned I wouldn’t know exactly when to return to the hospital – I wasn’t crying because my baby boy hadn’t been born yet. I managed to calm down by the time I got home, relieve my friend who was babysitting Grace, put Grace to bed, and eat dinner before I could laugh at myself, even a little bit.

“Waiting until the pain is a ten out of ten before going to the hospital is just so, so fucked,” I said to Ian. “In what other instance would any patient be advised to do that? You wouldn’t advise someone with chest pains to wait for the pain to grow to a ten – definitely not a cancer patient. You wouldn’t advise someone with a gaping wound to wait, either, or a post-surgical patient. But laboring mothers have to wait until they truly believe their contractions are 10/10 on the pain scale before heading to the hospital.”

“When you say it like that, it does sound ridiculous,” Ian agreed.

Over the course of the last week, it’s dawned on me more and more why this scenario bothers me more than it did the first time around. It bothers me because I know just how badly laboring contractions can be, and with no family in the area and Grace to consider, I feel like waiting until my pain is a ten out of ten to head the hospital means my judgment might be compromised when it comes to making sure Grace is properly cared for. Oh, we have a wonderful, dependable list of friends ready and waiting to take her into their homes, or come into ours, should I go into labor before my parents arrive to help, but friends can never be quite the same as family and Ian and I have discussed the suddenly very real possibility that he could miss the birth of his son if the stars don’t align and my labor begins prior to my mom and dad’s arrival. It is – intensely nerve wracking – to prepare for my son’s birth without the benefit of family in the city.

And, of course, I REALLY hated the pain of labor last time, and our baby’s due date draws nearer that pain becomes more and more of a reality for me! I’ve been debating whether or not to get an epidural but I think I probably will this time, with the hope of the possibility of enjoying delivering my baby instead of desperately clutching Ian, claiming I knew it would hurt but I never realized how much!

So this is where I sit, in the middle of January, anxiously awaiting the arrival of our baby boy but hoping he doesn’t come before my parents can get here and, if we are being completely honest, maybe not before I finish the first book of Game of Thrones,either.

Starting the New Year Off Right – First Bullet Post of 2014

I had really hoped to write at least one or two more blog posts before the conclusion of 2013, but a confluence of events, beginning with a sinus infection for me, morphing into a really rough illness for G, and then a stomach virus (me), combined with family visiting from afar, meant that many things had to take a back seat at the end of the year. For the first time in my life as a grown-up, my Christmas decorations are still up (I usually take them down on New Year’s Eve), many Christmas cards are scattered about the the house, unsent, and we aren’t as prepared for this baby boy as I would ideally prefer although, certainly, if he were to be born today he’d have everything he needs. My brain feels rather cluttered, but there is nothing like a bullet blog post to organize my thoughts!

* Despite concerns I presented in this blog weeks ago, our Christmas was absolutely lovely. I could say it didn’t “go” as smoothly as I had hoped, but by that I mean such *small* things – like, we didn’t make it to Christmas Eve service because family members faced such travel struggles simply getting to us that by the time everyone was under one roof, we didn’t want to leave each other. I got to step back and watch G begin to really form relationships with her grandparents and her aunts and uncles, and I loved every minute of it. Our holiday was full of cooking and relaxing togethers and a little lighter on traditional Christmas activities than usual, but I know it is one I will remember positively for the rest of my life, which, after our last few family holidays, is really such a joyous statement to be able to make.

* Last year, my main New Year’s resolution was significantly improved fiscal responsibility. I did fairly well in this area for several months but things sort of fell apart in October during my mother in law’s stay with us when my purse was stolen and I had to put a fraud alert on my account and our bills got messed up, only to be quickly followed by my account being screwed up thanks to the Target breach as well. On the plus side, we paid off a couple of bills, one of my student loans will be paid off this month, we made significant improvement on our house, and paid for most minor crises (car troubles, house troubles) with cash. We also saved money for Christmas and even had a small bit leftover! On the negative side we still carry credit card balances and I don’t feel like I have good sense of budget – I also feel like the bill-related paper work in our house is ludicrous, so this is an area I plan to concentrate on again in 2014 with renewed vigor.

*For a long time, I beat myself over the state of our finances. I felt this was one area we should constantly be doing better than we were and I wrapped up parts of my identity in in the way other people wrap up their identity with their weight. Ian has helped me settle down about this somewhat, pointing out that we paid for most of our educations ourselves and we chose to have kids – two separate choices many of our friends and family haven’t made. We prioritized education and are still paying for that priority, but I have absolutely no regrets about it – and I wouldn’t change motherhood for anything in the world. To that end, instead of constantly choosing to look at our financial situation and think we don’t have enough, I’m instead working on changing my attitude and offering thanks when I handle our finances – thanks that we can afford a home and children and our bills. Coach bags, diamond earrings and extravagant vacations might not be a part of our lives, but our lives are infinitely rich and blessed and gorgeous. Changing the way I look at money has actually made me quite a bit better with it – a skill I hope to build on in 2014!

*Other than that, my only resolution for this year is more of a mantra than anything else: day by day. I intend, quite simply, to take this year day by day. Knowing what kind of chaos a newborn can bring, I really want to focus this year on establishing, in the words of our pediatrician, our family’s “new normal.” I’ve given myself permission to cease worrying about postpartum weight loss or my writing or my career for one full year and instead concentrate on the growth of our family from three members to four. If we rebound particularly well and I have the focus and energy to move outside of this mantra then I absolutely will, but if I don’t that’s okay too.

*Which brings me to this blog. When I started this space this time last year, I did so needing a more anonymous space from which to write. I shared my old blog with too many friends and family members over the years and gradually began writing from a place of fear (what will my mother think if I reference my past smoking? What will my cousin think of my interpretation of our uncle’s death? Etc) I posted 34 times over the course of the year and while it was difficult in a way to leave my previous, somewhat established blog and watch much of my readership collapse, it’s been a wonderful decision overall. My readership here is steadily, quietly growing, I am able to experiment with subjects I want to write about (some succeed, some fail) and I’m able to use the blog to write around the edges of my life. It is tempting to create some lofty ambitions for this space in 2014 – I have so many ideas – but whenever I start ruminating on those ideas I remind myself day by day. There will be time enough for a loftier blog in the future.

* I started the year off reading Game of Thrones.Initially I thought it might end up being too complex in terms of number of characters and plots happening at once for this pregnant lady’s brain to handle but I decided to go forward anyway and I’m glad I did – parts of it are the tiniest bit campy but otherwise it’s the perfect January read – I enjoy starting the year off reading a “chunkster” and this book completely transports the reader to a different world -I’m glad I finally decided to tackle it.

*My television watching has slowed to a crawl in recent months which is never a bad thing, but I thought I’d give a quick shout out to two programs I enjoyed in the fall – The Black List on NBC and the Crazy Ones on CBS – both excellent shows that continue to uphold my theory you can never have too much James Spader or Robin Williams in your life.

I hope your 2014 is off to a wonderful start, whether you are taking it day by day, like I am, or whether you have larger ambitions for the year. I am looking forward to another year of blogging in this space – thanks so much for reading, commenting, liking and all the other sundry internetish actions we take to show we like one another – we really LIKE one another!