Thursday, September 29, 2011

Griffin's Birth Story

I currently have a sleeping baby with a full tummy, so I am taking advantage of that fact to write his birth story before all the little details slip from my exhaustion-addled mind into the oblivion of new motherhood.

First of all, Griffin's birth was very different than Carter's two years ago. My labor with Carter was fairly textbook (that is, until the cord-wrapping, oxygen-needing, fetal-monitoring part), with a clear beginning and gradual build. With Griffin, it seemed as though I was in labor for weeks before he actually chose to grace us with his presence.

I had been having Braxton-Hicks for months prior to his birth, and they had gradually become stronger and stronger in the two or three weeks beforehand. The weekend before Griffin's birth (he's another Tuesday's child!) the contractions had begun to intensify, but there was no regular pattern, and they still weren't particularly uncomfortable.

On Friday night, I had a couple of trickles of fluid that I thought might have signaled a water leakage, so on Sunday we went to labor and delivery to check and have the baby monitored (yes, we are idiots and waited 36 hours to call - the midwife was not pleased with us). Fortunately, my water was intact and baby was fine. The attending physician offered to strip my membranes, but I decided to hold out until my Tuesday appointment and let my midwife do it then if they baby hadn't already come.

On Monday I went back to the hospital for more fetal monitoring - evidently this is standard when you've reached FORTY-ONE weeks of pregnancy. Again, all was well.

Finally, on Monday night I lost part of my mucus plug - hallelujah (if you're squeamish about such things as mucus plugs, you should not be reading this blog)! Mind you, this happened SIX DAYS prior to Carter's birth, so I had been on the lookout for this impending-labor sign for days, but to no avail. Fortunately, within an hour I began feeling contractions, and they were finally beginning to feel somewhat productive. This was around 5:30 or 6pm that evening, when I was on my way home from preschool with Carter.

Contractions continued all evening in a fairly regular pattern - 10-12 minutes apart, but only 30-45 seconds each. They intensified that night, and I labored all night long as contractions hit anywhere from 5-10 minutes apart. Much like Carter's labor, no sleep for me. They were much stronger while I was lying down, but still weren't particularly painful and each one lasted only 30-45 seconds, so I didn't think too much of it. Again, at this point I was pretty sure I was going to be pregnant forever.

In the morning, my sister-in-law came to take Carter to school and Max and I optimistically prepared ourselves for what would hopefully be baby's birthday. We went to Starbucks and took a walk around the neighborhood (total deja vu from another Tuesday almost exactly two years ago), during which contractions increased to four minutes apart and about a minute long, and I began to feel the first glimmer that this might actually be the real thing.

Unfortunately, when we arrived back home, things slowed down again - back to 8-10 minutes apart and of varying intensity. My mother had just flown in from Sonoma County that morning, and arrived at our place to find a cranky, exhausted pregnant lady who was feeling quite certain that it was all a cruel joke and Little Brother would never arrive. The three of us set off to the hospital for my weekly midwife visit. Just before we left I had more mucus plug-losing action (I will definitely spare you the details here, as it wasn't pretty, people). Fortunately, hope bolstered by the arrival of this additional bloody show (icky term, no?), we had the good sense to bring our hospital bag with us.

At my appointment (still having contractions, but only 8 minutes apart and not particularly painful), the midwife checked me (DRUMROLL) - 4-5 centimeters and 90% effaced! Get your ass to labor and delivery, stat! Well, what she actually said was not to go home, and that she would strip my membranes to see if that would help things along. The procedure was quick and painless, and she sent us on our merry way with instructions to take a walk around Westwood and then check in to L&D.

Almost immediately after the membrane-stripping, things began to pick up. Contractions began coming about five minutes apart and getting longer and more intense. After a brief jaunt around Westwood during which I freaked out droves of UCLA students by getting my contraction on at every available street corner, we checked into labor and delivery at about 4pm or so. When I was examined again upon admittance, I was 5-6 cm and 90% effaced. Progress!

Max and I wandered around the wing for an hour or so and he rubbed my back with each contraction. Exactly like my labor with Carter, I felt almost all the pain in my back, so I forced my husband to rub it as hard as humanly possible (and I still have the welts to prove it). At one point his hand gave out and he started using the wooden massage roller instead, jamming it into my lower back with each contraction like his life depended on it. Good man. My mother was once again in charge of the hot rice sock, although I was more ambulatory with this labor than I was with Carter's (when I basically just lay there on my side for a couple of hours, attached to oxygen and fetal monitors) so I didn't need the hot sock as badly. Still, good mom.

Eventually, the midwives (I got two for the price o' one - they were training a newbie, Katie, so she did most of it while Shadman oversaw everything) suggested that they break my water to speed things along. Normally I would be wary of such interventions, but at this point I'd been at it for almost 24 hours and by damn, I was tired. BREAK IT, BITCHES.

Instead of the massive gush that occurred when my water broke with Carter, there was only a tiny trickle - it was really the most anti-climatic water-breaking ever. However, almost immediately afterwards I was in transition. While I had labored on my side in the sleep position with Carter's birth, I found that position to be much more painful this time around, and I knew it wasn't the best position to speed things along and help the baby to descend. Instead, I felt like I needed to be on all fours on the bed, so that's what I did. Around this time I started feeling like I wanted to push, but was told that I was only 8cm so I couldn't. This was BY FAR the most difficult part of the birth, as it had been with Carter's as well. Basically, I think the best way to describe "breathing down" (is that what it's called?) is that it's like having a freight train running through your body, and you're just trying to contain it. I did a lot of groaning at this point, and yelled "I can't!!" a few times.

...and then it was over - midwife Katie checked me yet again (upon my insistence that I NEEDED TO PUSH, LADIES) and I was fully dilated and ready. I flipped onto my butt, pulled my knees up as high as I could get 'em, leaned forward, and within five or six good contractions (pushing two or three times with each) his head was out, followed quickly by the rest of him. Griffin was born at 7:14pm, about three hours after we checked into L&D, and just in time for dinner. They placed him immediately on my tummy, where he stayed for the next hour, latching on and nursing like he'd done it all his life.

Compared to Carter's birth, with the cord wrapped three times around his neck, his heartbeat decelerating with each contraction, me attached to an oxygen mask and a continuous fetal monitor, baby coming out blue and whisked off to be examined before I could even touch him, high white blood cell count leading to two days of antibiotics, etc etc etc - compared to that, Griffin's birth was a walk in the PARK. We went home the very next day and weren't even in the hospital for a full 24 hours. After all, we had a big brother at home to get back to.

...more to come.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Introducing Griffin Thompson Draitser, born 9-20-11 at 7:14pm. 7lbs 9oz, 20 inches. 25 hours of labor and 9 days late but worth the wait. We are very proud!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


To distract myself from the monotony of doing my baby rain dance around the living room for yet another day, I have decided to let you, dear readers, embark with me on my latest quest - that for the perfect diaper bag.

Since Carter was born, I have carried this:

My sweet husband bought it for me shortly after the Roo arrived because I had been obsessing over its pattern for months. Damn if I don't love me some stripes, people.

Now, that bag and I have had a good run, I must say. However, I'm beginning to suspect that it's not ideal for two (GAH!!) kids, and all the accompanying schlepping that goes with that territory. I can hardly jam it full of Carter's stuff these days, so how on earth can I possibly pack accoutrements for a whole other person in there? Plus, there's no zipper top, which I think most moms can agree is a major bummer - I'm constantly paranoid that I am leaving a trail of crackers, diapers, car keys, sanity, etc. in my wake whenever I go out. Not cool.

Thus, inspired by the recent diaper bag quest of Rebecca over at GGC (who lives right down the street and just had her twins YESTERDAY **OH, JEALOUSY**), I am going to document my hunt for the ideal diaper bag. Huzzah! This should occupy some space in my weary, bloated brain that would otherwise be obsessing about the distinct lack of newborn in my arms!

Like many women, when I first began to outgrow my striped friend above, I sought refuge with a variety of non-"diaper bag" alternatives and began just throwing everything into bigass purses, like this one from Gap (bought on super-sale for about $12 two years ago):

I'm not usually into flowery prints, but what you can't see in this photo is that the entire interior of the bag is BRIGHT ORANGE, which is flat-out awesome. Issues: serious lack of pockets = haphazard tossing of crap into bag = can't find shit. Again, not ideal.

Another husband-purchased alternative (thank you, LOML!) is this Etsy find:

I love this one for its simplicity, its redness, its ginormity, and the fact that it has a ZIPPER closure (I mean, really, diaper bag people, get with the program). The fact that it is somehow super-inexpensive while being handmade in Turkey is also fairly badass. However, although there ARE several inner pockets, I still find myself fishing for kid stuff often due to the bag's depth and lack of structure, which allows for a strange quicksand effect of everything I seem to need sinking to the bottom, just out of reach. Hrmph.

So there you have it. Three good bags, with downfalls to each. If I weren't 40 weeks, 3 days pregnant, I would probably just suck it up, jam everything into one of these suckers and call it a day - but by damn, I am an American consumer! Let's throw this economy a bone and buy some stuff we don't especially need! Yeeeeeehah, folks.

Some parameters - I'm not really into the whole "diaper bag that looks like a briefcase/office bag/fancypants expensive leather dealie." Like this one:

Yes, apparently that is a diaper bag. Sleek, no? But here's the deal - while I don't necessarily want a bag that screams "KID SHIT WITHIN!" I also am not in the market for something that looks like I really should either be shopping at Bloomies or about to enter a boardroom. I'd like SOME sense of whimsy to it. I mean, have you met me?

For instance, I find this (craaaazy expensive) one kind of awesome, but I think it just might take itself a little too seriously:

So here goes nothing. Some contenders:

OiOi Bags:

In case you don't know, I am a big fan of anything red. Thus, I love these. And look at all that cool stuff that comes with it. Plus, I found them for only $112 online (normally $160). Oh, AND they are made from organic cotton with a water-resistant finish and phthalate-free everything. Be still my heart. I think I like the hobo shape more than the satchel-y one, because I'm not a big fan of hardware on bags and the contrast of the black on red is too distracting to me. It also comes in a very nice blue shade, but I just don't know that I could commit to something outside of my signature color.

Although it's not as unique, I also like this one, in all its preppy, Nantucket-y glory. I found it for only $99 online (normally $150). However, I fear it's ultimately a little too boring. I mean, I'm looking for whimsy, after all:

I am very fond of this one, which seems to possess an endless array of pockets which I could stuff with all manner of kid crap:

It comes in a truckload of colors, but I'm strangely partial to this navy, even more so than the red. It's less fun than the red OiOi bag, but more interesting than the office-y type bags, and it looks sufficiently massive to suit my purposes. Price is pretty great, too.

I've heard good things about the Le Sport Sac bags being very lightweight and stuffable, but MY GOD isn't this just the most incredibly boring thing you've ever seen?

In other options, people seem to really dig these Timi and Leslie bags (same as office-y black one pictured at beginning of post), but I just don't know if they're ME.

I like this one, but it's pricey ($200!!), doesn't have a top zipper, and I can't find a better price online. I did, however, find it in another pattern for only $99, but it's nowhere near as awesome.

I weirdly like the quilted effect of this one, but don't think I can commit to all-black (booooring):

This is a total daddy bag, but I weirdly like it. So many pockets! So much stuff to cram inside! And it's red! And cheap ($79!)!

I like these bags (in all patterns except the lame peace symbol), but they don't have a zipper top and come with no cool accoutrements (hello, changing pad?!). Plus, I suspect that it may not be massive enough for my purposes.

All right - I could and would go on, but I've already been looking at diaper bags for several hours and I'm beginning to have some crampy contraction-ish stuff going on, so I'm going to go take a walk outside and see if I can have a baby today.

Before I go, tell me folks (all four readers of my blog) - what diaper bag do you carry? Thoughts? Recommendations? Help a lady out!


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Yes, Still Pregnant

**Be forewarned - cranky pregnant lady venting below**

I have officially reached the point where I am quite certain that I am in fact going to be pregnant forever. Little Brother is now two days late and doesn't seem to be in any particular hurry, as evidenced by the fact that 1) I still have not lost my mucus plug (gross, but deal with it) - with Carter, I lost it on my due date and he wasn't born for another six days (yes, I am aware that some women never lose theirs and just go ahead and HAVE BABIES anyway, and I am hoping that's the case here), and 2) I've been having contractions every day for the past, oh, FOREVER, but nothing feels even remotely painful or productive. Every night I think tonight's the NIGHT! and then I wake up the next morning, STILL pregnant.

So there you have it. Last week we had a heat wave, with temperatures reaching into the 100s. I just thought the baby was wisely choosing to wait it out until cooler weather, with plans of being born last Saturday, 9/10/11, which would be a fairly badass birthday and match well with his brother's, 9/1/09. Nope. Then I thought perhaps he was planning to hang out until the full moon yesterday, 9/12/11. No dice. Now I'm thinking that maybe he's just a very considerate child and is going to give his Grandpa an awesome 77th birthday present by being born on my dad's birthday tomorrow, 9/14/11. Fingers crossed.

So there you go. That's me. That's all I've got. I am now going to bounce on my birth ball and watch bad television and/or movies on Netflix. SIGH. I love being pregnant, but JUST ONCE can't it be for the normal amount of time? Yes babies, I get that my uterus is really comfortable, but COME ON! Give a lady a break. Little squatters.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Waiting Game

Things I Have Done On My Maternity Leave (all four days of it thus far):

- packed birth bag
- swept and mopped the kitchen, dining room, and living room floors
- scrubbed the bathtub
- disinfected the toilet
- cleaned the counters and sinks
- washed the bassinet cover and bedding
- washed the Boppy and My Brest Friend covers
- washed the padding for the My Little Lamb swing
- sterilized breastpump parts
- washed nursing bras
- washed Carter's carseat cover
- attempted (in vain) to vacuum 87,000 crackers out of said carseat
- ordered pictures online
- ran 87 million errands
- gone to two movies
- awoken before 6am daily with a damp toddler calling my name (note to self: please invest in nighttime diapers, stat)
- baked and frosted (in four different colors) four dozen mini cupcakes for said toddler and his preschool pals to enjoy on his birthday
- bounced on birth ball
- reorganized Carter's closet
- washed/folded baby clothes
- gone to midwife appointment
- read birthing books

Things I Have Not Done On My Maternity Leave:


Ahem. I'm still ten days away from my due date, and I don't particularly anticipate this kiddo gracing us with his presence anytime soon, despite the strange pressure that I have periodically been feeling in my nether regions, like someone jamming themselves onto my cervix (yeeeehaw, run-on sentence!). For about five seconds the other day I fully suspected that I was about to go into labor in the middle of IKEA, but then it passed. I suppose there are worse places to have a baby - the bedroom showrooms are really rather cozy, after all.

I'm not particularly good with "down time," I suppose. I've been reading and responding to work emails constantly - yesterday a coworker wrote "Quit replying to emails and go have a baby." Hey, I'm TRYING, dude. The truth is that work has been so all-consuming this year that it's tough to unplug. Evidently I'm not even supposed to be checking work emails while I'm on disability - HR would not be pleased.

For the past nine months, between the office and mothering a toddler, I have hardly had a chance to focus on the fact that OH YEAH, I'm pregnant. On one hand, I feel fairly guilty about this (or as guilty as you can feel when you're existing in a state of exhausted delirium and functioning on pure adrenaline). When I was pregnant with Carter, I sang to my uterus for an hour a day (AM/PM commute), read books to my belly, played Mozart and Beethoven to my abdomen through headphones, ate like a saint, practiced my contraction simulations and relaxation exercises, yadda yadda yadda. In short, all the stuff I have NOT been able to do this time around.

This kid gets either Lady Gaga on the radio, or Carter's favorite, the "Construction Site" theme song played a trillion times during our daily commute. I haven't read to the belly even once (but we do read to Carter, so that's something - right? Right?!?) I attempt to plug the uterus up to some classical tunes, but generally pass out drooling on the couch immediately thereafter and then stumble to bed. Strictly organic eating fell prey to leftovers scrounged from whatever meeting somebody had at work on any given day (hellooooo, greasy noodles from random hole-in-the-wall! Fancy meeting you here!). Every time we attempt to practice our contraction simulations/relaxation stuff, my husband and I pass out cold. In short, I've been decidedly less Type A and more, well, human this time around.

On the bright side, less obsession equals fewer neurotic fixations - only a small fraction of my brain is spent vexing over all the unpasteurized cheese that waiters have potentially served me, for instance. Bonus!

We are ready - all of us. Carter keeps telling us everything that he wants to show the baby - "I want to show the baby the big red bulldozer." Or the yellow dump truck, or the green crane, or the brown cement mixer (yes, we are into machines these days).
He likes to attempt to lick my belly, which he finds endlessly entertaining: "I want to LICK the baby!!" followed by a pink-tongued lunge in the direction of my stomach.

Yawn. I could pass out over these keys right now.

Today is the Roo's birthday, which means two things: 1) WE MADE IT ANOTHER YEAR! and 2) unless he joins us in the next 8 hours, my kids will not have the same birthday. Hopefully Little (still nameless!) Brother will also refrain from disrupting Carter's birthday party this Saturday (just a family dinner this year, because I have come to the conclusion that I am NOT Superwoman and therefore did not wish to attempt a 40+ person party in the scorching heat of summer while 39 weeks pregnant) with his arrival too. My husband politely requested that I wait until next week to have this baby, because he's very busy in the office this week, thankyouverymuch. I told him that was between him and the uterus, so he gave my belly a stern talking-to.

Oh, Braxton Hicks. Welcome, my friend. How have you been?

Two years ago today, I was in the hospital, gazing raptly at my beautiful, perfect newborn. And every day since, I've been able to stare at that same sweet face, and wonder how it is that I became so lucky as to be his mother.