Tag Archives: doctors

Um Yes, I Have a Question

Nora had a second surgery on Monday to remove a cyst that had developed on one of the suture sites, and to remove one of the four silicone slings holding her eyelids up.

Surgeon (right before surgery): “[lengthy explanation of everything he will do, process and risks of anesthesia, post-op care, etc ]….and that’s it. It should be a quick surgery, about 20 minutes. Do you have any questions before we take her into the operating room?”

Me: “Only 20 minutes? So I won’t have time to get an ice cream downstairs?”

Surgeon: ms-I9ZTfk.gif

 

I had time.

IMG_7837-1.jpeg

 

 

Nora Left Eye Lopes, Part 3

(Continuation of Nora Left Eye Lopes and Nora Left Eye Lopes, Part 2)

So last I left you, Nora was doing great but sporting a somewhat funky-looking cyst on the corner of her left eyebrow, at one of the sling surgery incision sites (there are four such sites, two on each eyebrow. The other three sites are completely fine and healed, barely visible). Here’s a diagram of the situation on her left eye, for visual learners:

surgery.jpg

As mentioned previously, the cyst does not seem to bother her at all (except when we have to clean/medicate it), but the problem with leaving it be is that it is constantly opening and reforming, and every time that happens, it runs the risk of becoming infected. That would be crappy for many reasons. I don’t think I need to explain them.

Plus no one needs a cyst permanently sitting on their face. Life is hard enough.

In a last-ditch effort to get rid of the cyst (we’d already tried various topical steroids and antibiotics, to no avail), the surgeon prescribed an oral antibiotic. He hoped that this would do the trick– if not, it would mean that it’s the silicone sling itself causing the chronic irritation, and so it (the sling) would have to be removed.

So Nora took the oral antibiotic and the cyst went away and we all lived happily ever after because LIFE IS RAINBOWS AND BUTTERFLIES AND UNICORNS THE END!!!!!

tenor-1.gif

Bwahahahahahahahahh jk guys. But you knew that.

You’re on MY blog, not [insert name of someone I’d hate]’s blog.

Life never gets tied up in a neat little bow, so here we are at the next boulder in the road. Get out your chisel. (Is that what one uses to break through a boulder? Listen I’m not outdoorsy nor have I ever used a tool).

The cyst remains. And while we’ve grown so used to it that we’ve considered giving it a name, starting a college fund and raising it as our own, the doctor feels it needs to go. And the only way to do that is to remove the sling (you know, the one holding her eyelid up).

So we have another surgery scheduled for Monday. Yes, this Monday. July 22nd. Because some people go to The Hamptons in the summer, but honestly we prefer the bright florescent lights of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Day Surgery Division.

th.gif

Same doctor. Same hospital. Same general anesthesia. Same crippling anxiety thought spirals of hell positive attitude leading up to it.

The doctor seems hopeful that because there are two slings in the eyelid (refer to professional diagram above), the inner sling will be sufficient in keeping the lid up. If the lid DOES droop, to the point where it could affect vision, he will be able to discern that mid-surgery, and we will then have the option of putting in a replacement sling in a slightly different location (all this can be done in that same surgery). The downside to this is that Nora will then have three incision sites in that one brow. And, of course, the chance of another cyst-like reaction at the new incision site.

The good news, again, is that the surgeon seems confident that the one remaining sling will suffice (especially since this was the better, less droopy eye to begin with), and that removing the troublesome sling is not going to affect the cosmetics, or her vision, at all (then why did he put it there in the first place? Standard procedure? Slightly better chance of symmetry with the other eye? IDK guys I guess I missed the day they taught that in the medical school that I didn’t go to).  Furthermore, he feels that if he DID have to put in a replacement sling, the likelihood of a cyst forming again is small, especially since the other three incisions healed so nicely.

His confidence seems promising, and the odds do seem to be in our favor– however, this is only the THIRD time in his TWENTY YEAR career that he has had to remove a sling, so I’d say my faith in odds right now is akin to my faith in Eric’s hair-regrowth shampoo.

tinafeyeyeroll.gif

Thankfully, Eric remains positive and hopeful (regarding both the surgery and his hair), so I don’t have to. This is a marriage strategy and not an accident. It’s written in our ketubah: “In sickness, and in health, Emily will constantly assume the worst and Eric will keep the entire ship afloat by himself, so help him God. He’ll also get Emily iced coffee and egg salad and never comment on how much she’s sweating.” It’s all there in Hebrew.

IMG_7735.jpeg

So that’s where we are. One of the four silicone slings will be removed on Monday. The surgery is slated to take 120 minutes, from prep to finish. I will eat my feelings next to the hospital’s frozen yogurt machine, which likely still has my chicken-nugget-greased fingerprints on it from February. Eric will wander around introducing himself to various dogs.

Nora, I assume, will handle it better than both of us, because she’s still zero years old and life is just a series of eating, pooping, and maniacally swaying to Queen:

 

And I’m sure all this hardship will make Nora stronger, and it will all work out in the end, just like it did for Freddie Mercury.

url

No, I’m kidding. Obviously. I DO believe this will all be fine, I’m just sorry my sweet little tater tot has to go through this. AGAIN. I’m not necessarily confident that this is the last time we will deal with this issue, but I AM confident we’ll be able to look back one day and this will all seem like a distant memory and a minor roadblock. I know that day will come, because, no matter how hard life has been at any point, and no matter how hopeless things have seemed at any  given moment, a good dose of distance and perspective has always made the value of the struggle seem crystal clear.

But right now it’s surgery-anticipation mode, so I’m sorry, I’m just not there yet. But I will be.

And until then, I’ll cope in same way any other loving, caring, fiercely devoted mother would.

rs_500x283-150522135111-amy-schumer-oversized-glass-of-wine.gif

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nora Left Eye Lopes, Part 2

(A continuation/update of Nora Left Eye Lopes )

Yesterday I received an email from a reader asking me about the progress of Nora’s ptosis, and it dawned on me that I never actually posted an update on the blog. I’ve kept friends informed through Facebook, but hearing from this woman (who also has a baby with congenital ptosis) made me realize that I owe an update to blog readers as well. I am always hopeful that my experiences can help and provide information/insight for others, so here’s the spiel (I tried my damndest to keep it short but, choice of husband aside, I’m pretty bad at keeping things short. Ba-dum ching! url):

Soon after my last (and also first) blog post about Nora’s ptosis, we had our next ophthalmologist appointment. The diagnosis up until that point was “mild” ptosis in her right eye that was (so far) not impacting her vision or development. We were told to patch her left eye in order to force her to use the right one, with the purpose of maintaining vision in that eye and preventing Amblyopia, aka “lazy eye.” This patching phase is when she earned her “Nora Left Eye Lopes” nickname. Because, I mean, just look at this photo and tell me she is not one badass bitch:

45505048_10160935416825545_484783794902007808_n.jpg

You can’t, right? I know.

So yeah. We left that first appointment thinking this was a relatively minor issue that we’d just have to watch, and if down the line we wanted to consider surgery for cosmetic purposes, that would be an option. Thankfully, the ptosis was not severe, and surgery was not something we needed to even have on our radar yet.

giphy-2.gif

So imagine my surprise when I took Nora to the next appointment (Eric was traveling for work) and was told that, in fact, BOTH eyes had ptosis (I kind of already suspected this, but also kind of talked myself out of it and chalked it up to my BFF, Paranoia, rearing her ugly persistent head). The doctor classified the right eye as “severe” and the left as “moderate.” No “mildness” about it. While Nora’s vision was thus far intact, the extreme head-tilting she had to do in order to see would likely start to affect her physical development.

Surgery was recommended.

The good thing is that even though this was not at all what I expected to hear, I remained totally calm. I listened to the doctor’s words and stayed completely composed, because instinct kicked in and I knew I had to be strong for my baby girl.

raw.gif

I cried like a little bitch.

tenor.gif

The recommended surgery was Bilateral Frontalis Sling, where an internal silicon sling is inserted to connect the lid muscles to the eyebrow muscle, so the brow muscle can lift the lids for her. Using silicon as the material for the sling is usually only a temporary solution– as a baby’s face grows, the silicon does not grow with it, and therefore the lids typically start to droop again after a period of time. An alternative material to silicon is a thigh tendon  (aka “fascia lata”), taken from the child’s leg through a very small incision. This is typically a more permanent solution, as the tendon will grow with the child’s face. It also has the added benefit of not being a foreign object in the body, and therefore infection or rejection is unlikely. Unfortunately, the tendon can not be used until about 3-4 years of age, because it is not developed enough before then.  So our only option at this point was silicon.

Luckily, through the amazingness of social media (Facebook gets a bad rap but I’ve already nominated Mark Zuckerberg for a Nobel Prize), we were able to locate and be connected with one of the top doctors in the country for this kind of surgery: Dr. William Katowitz at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). During our consultation with him, he agreed that Nora’s case was severe, and surgery was scheduled for February 21, just a few days shy of her 6-month birthday.

The nice thing about waiting for a surgery date to arrive is NOTHING.

THERE IS NO NICE THING.

I thought I was handling the anxiety of the approaching date well, but in hindsight I was just channeling my anxiety into other aspects of my life. It was anxiety just the same. I didn’t eat well, sleep well, or think well for months. Wine through a straw helped. Until it inevitably didn’t.

Finally, the date arrived. We drove to Philly the night before, stayed at a hotel, and arrived at CHOP around 8am the next day. Here’s a visual summary of surgery day:

52663250_10161328643690545_4287995563351212032_n.jpg

Nora was a brave (re: oblivious) little saggy-cheeked champ, Eric befriended every dog he came across, I ate my feelings/smiled so I didn’t cry, and then I sang to Nora post-surgery and mentally transported myself to a place where I wasn’t staring at my bloodied, swollen, groggy, whimpering child.

Seeing her after surgery was terrible. It was a long car ride back to NYC. I sat in the back with her, but covered her car seat with a light blanket as she slept, because I couldn’t bear to see the evidence of what we had elected to do to her. Yes, it was medically advised and yes, it would probably be better for her in the long run, but in that moment all I could think was “I caused her this pain.”

Well, no worries, because as it turns out, my daughter is a fucking warrior.

tenor-1.gif

We got home and she slept through most of the night, waking only once for a bottle because, due to the anesthesia, she hadn’t eaten in about 24 hours. After a 3am feed she went right back to bed and, I shit you not, woke up like this:

56985472_10161495220765545_7894736702839717888_n.jpg

Happy as a goddamn clam.

For real, WHO MADE THIS CHILD?! It seems that somehow, despite the fact that I carried and birthed her, she inherited zero of my DNA. Because if it were me, I’d be handling the situation with exactly this much grace:

giphy.gif

As you can somewhat see in the photos of Nora above, the surgeon tied the sling at four separate incision sites, two on each brow. He then put in a temporary stitch on the bottom of each eye, for the purpose of keeping her eyes cinched tight post-op, in order to prevent her from scratching a cornea.

Two days after surgery, we returned to CHOP and he removed the temporary stitch. The results took my breath away (it was at this point I realized I hadn’t, in fact, breathed in 2 months):

53208689_10161338648030545_6845494549117140992_n.jpg

Nora instantly stopped tilting her head back, and we were able to see, for the first time, just how beautifully blue her eyes are. I praised Jesus. Yeah, I’m jewish, but still. This felt like a moment for Jesus to be involved. Allah, Buddha, whoever Wiccans worship– everyone was welcome at this prayer party.

Since then, Nora’s eyes have “settled” a bit, which is to be expected with this surgery:

IMG_6250.JPG

As far as I’m concerned, her eyes now look typically-developing.  Yes, sometimes her right eye still looks “droopier,” especially when she’s tired. And yes, there’s still a little bit of a “sleepiness” to them, but it’s so minor I’m pretty sure I’m the only one perceiving it. She sometimes sleeps with her eyes a bit open, which we were warned was a possible side effect, but it has not had any consequences other than to kinda creep us out.

giphy-1.gif

So all in all, a huge success with virtually no complications!!!!!!

BWAHAHAHA giphy-3.gif

Not how my life works.

About 3 months after surgery, Nora woke up with a swollen eye, and one of the suture sites on her brow looked irritated. We went to the opthamologist and they gave us some cream and didn’t seem too concerned. Weeks later, the irritation had only gotten worse. We went back to the surgeon at CHOP.

It turns out that a small cyst has developed, a minor and fairly common healing complication. The cyst varies in its appearance, and every so often it pops, draining some pus and blood (I know, gross– but this is actually a good thing). Some days, it looks like nothing more than a small little scab on her brow. Other days, it takes on a life of its own.

ms-ZXGv5G.gif

Fortunately, much like the dude above, Nora is blissfully unaware of its presence and, in terms of cosmetics, gives a total of zero fucks. Ah, to be no years old.

It isn’t causing her any harm or discomfort, aside from when we have to put hot compresses on it, squeeze it a bit, and apply the cream. That, she does not care for (#grossunderstatement).

The doctors seem hopeful that the cyst will eventually resolve itself and fully drain on its own. I’m not so sure. It continues to fill, pop, scab, and then the process begins all over again. If it doesn’t improve soon, we will have to consider surgery as an option.

I know– another surgery?! Whhhhhhyyyyyyyyy? Especially for such a minor thing that only seems to be a cosmetic issue at this point?

Well the problem is, the more the cyst opens, the more likely it is to get infected– and if it DOES get infected, and THEN the surgeon goes in to remove it, there is a much higher chance that he might have to remove the sling, too. And if that were the case, we’d have to wait for the cyst surgery to heal, and then do ANOTHER sling surgery. Granted, this is a worst-case scenario, but the fact that it’s even in the realm of scenarios makes me want to ugly cry, Kardashian style.

ugly-cry.gif

So nothing’s perfect. Which falls under the category of “duh.”

But overall, we are so grateful for the surgery and the results, despite the non-perfection. Nora can see. People no longer look at her and wonder if something is “wrong” with her (you might think that’s me being cray, but I actually had a former student’s parent, pre-surgery, ask me exactly that– “Is she ok? Is something wrong with her?” It was the first time in my life that I considered murder as a viable conflict resolution tactic.)

Nora is now completely thriving in all areas of development, and she’s just the happiest little rope-a-dope. I mean look how thrilled she is about a banana that I bought on the street for 15 cents:

And yes she’s eating that banana naked because do you really expect me to feed AND clothe her? What am I, a wizard?

So that’s where we are in our ptosis journey. We have the possibility of cyst-removal surgery, as well as the eventual possibility of fascia lata sling surgery to replace the silicon sling a few years down the line. All that being said, Nora is happy, healthy, and thriving– we are thrilled with our decision to surgically treat her eyes, and have never looked back (no pun intended).

A huge thank you to ALL those who have supported us along the way (and there have been so SO many of you). The brightest, most silverest (back off, spellcheck) lining of this whole experience has been a renewed faith in the human spirit. Anyone who thought they might be able to help, did. We were connected with the best doctors, given the most helpful advice, sent the sweetest gifts, notes and kind words. There is simply no way to accurately express my gratitude, so in lieu of the perfect words, please accept this photo of Nora making the world’s most absurd face:

IMG_4456.jpeg

The end.

(are YOU exhausted? I am)

 

 

The Birth, Part 2

(Continuation of The Birth, Part 1)

So there I was, doing nothing.

200w-3.gif

Eric was trying to stay upbeat and positive for my sake, but every once in a while I’d glimpse over and see this:

200w-4.gif

My cervix continued to be poked and prodded but, like my 4-year-old nephew at the seder table, remained completely disinterested.

Then the doctor had a theory– perhaps my water broke not because I was about to go into labor, but because there was some kind of threat to the baby, such as a virus or infection. So she took my temperature, but it was perfectly normal. “Phew,” I thought, “a fever right now would be bad.”

But you know what’d be worse? Having a thermometer stuck up your butthole. Which is exactly what they had to do in order to get a more accurate reading. Luckily for all involved (besides, I suppose, Eric), at this point in pregnancy I had zero percent shame left, and so had virtually no reaction when they rolled me over (a team effort) and prodded me in my 3rd-trimester-inflated tush.

“Yup! Fever!” determined the nurse excitedly, I guess because that finally offered an explanation for the nothingness that was occurring, but given that I was crouched there with my ass blowing in the breeze, I resented his merriment.

So it turns out I had some kind of minor infection, which triggered my amniotic sac to say “We gotta get this baby out!” and burst, but in its hysteria forgot to relay the message to the rest of my body, including the second body living inside my body, who remained so high up I swear to god I could feel her in my throat. Nora had no interest in coming out, and I can’t say I blame her because as far as she knew, the outside world consisted only of sitting on toilets, vomiting, and the Kardashians.

But now we were on a clock. The longer you sit around with your water broken, the greater the risk of infection for the baby. It was already determined that I had a fever, and although they gave me antibiotics to protect Nora, it still made things slightly more urgent– and as everyone knows, a ticking time bomb is exactly what an anxious person who has been instructed to stay as calm as possible needs.

raw-2.gif

The doctor presented us with a choice:

“We can do a c-section now, or we can give it some more time and see if anything starts happening. If we do give more time, it seems unlikely that anything will happen without the (induction drug) Pitocin, which we have to stop giving you because it’s lowering the baby’s heart rate. But it’s your choice.”

“Ok, well. Let us talk it over,” Eric said, as my catheter bag filled with nervous-pee.

She left the room and we discussed the pros and cons, deciding that it probably couldn’t hurt to wait a few hours. Perhaps we’d get lucky and things would suddenly kick into gear, and I could avoid a c-section. Plus it would give my mom, already on her flight to NYC, more time to get to the hospital and be there for the birth.

So when the doctor came back we told her, “We’ve decided to wait a few hours and see if anything happens.”

Doctor: “Ok, but nothing is going to happen. Your body is not in labor at all, and is showing no signs of starting. There’s really no point in waiting.”

Us: “Well, we just figured something MIGHT happen on its own…”

Doctor: “It won’t.”

Us: “So you’d recommend not waiting?”

Doctor: “There’s no reason to wait. Waiting will just increase risk.”

Us: “Oh. So when you said we had a choice…”

Doctor:url

What the actual fuck?

Thanks for letting us spend half an hour in this hospital room discussing a choice that was not a choice, and having us select an option that was not an option. Cool use of tax dollars!

tumblr_m42vpxhBTM1r9c1z7.gif

I was then told I was getting a c-section.

Now.

They were going to have a 5-minute team huddle, then come wheel me into surgery, and the baby would be out in 15 minutes.

So 9 hours of 200w-2.gif morphed into giphy-3.gif in a matter of 4 seconds and I gotta say, it was a little jarring.

In what seemed like no time, a medical team of six wheeled me into the operating room and whisked Eric away to outfit him in his surgery gear (side note: nothing made Eric happier than when they gave him a hairnet– “See, they think I have hair!” Then moments later he saw that the literally hairless anesthesiologist was also wearing one. Apparently it’s just protocol. They would’ve put Britney Spears circa 2007 in a hairnet.)

giphy 3.gif

So Eric entered the OR expecting, naturally, that there’d be a sheet blocking the scary parts. Instead, he walked smack into my naked body on a metal slab, spread eagle and covered in orange goo. The doctor was literally already cutting into me when Eric opened the door. His demeanor remained calm but his eyes said “I’m am screaming on the inside.”

giphy 2.gif

Fortunately for him, even though a nightmare of epic proportions was taking place below the curtain, above the curtain was nothing short of glam-squad allure:

IMG_0763.jpeg

The nurse asked if I’d like any music playing.

Me: “Ummm…I guess Adele would be soothing?”

So he whipped out his iPhone and Spotify-ed that shit, as any professional would do mid-surgery. But then he continued to look at his phone for another 2-3 minutes, on what I can only assume was Tinder. Which of course is completely fine but if you’re going to be online dating during my c-section at least have the decency to let me see who you’re swiping right on. I mean have some fucking respect.

As Adele played, I closed my eyes and tried to take in the hugeness of this moment, but found the only thing I could think about was my post-surgery snack. I silently prayed that Eric had already picked up one of my favorites, and it’d be waiting for me in post-op. Most people pray for their life before undergoing surgery– or, if nothing else, their child’s life.

I prayed for a muffin.

After a few minutes of tugging and digging through organs, the team began compressions right below my ribcage. Nora was already in the correct position (head-down) so the standard method is to then compress from the top, by her feet, which would force her head to emerge from the bikini-line incision and her body would eventually be entirely force-squeezed out of me. You know, like a sausage.

tenor-3.gif

But damn was this one uncooperative little chorizo. Right before her head was about to emerge, Nora decided “Nope- fuck this noise!” and TURNED AROUND.

Like her mom on a  Monday  work day  day, she caught a glimpse of the outside world and decided

nope-1.gif

She managed to somehow contort her body 45 degrees so that she was now laying across my stomach in transverse position (aka horizontal instead of vertical, aka nowhere near an exit hole). Not sure where this little bozo thought she was going. Clearly someone forgot to read the fine print of her 9-month lease agreement, but eviction day was upon us and, if resistant, tenant would be removed by force. 

The team continued compressing from my ribcage, but with her new positioning, instead of moving down, Nora just swished from side to side. The compressions became more forceful and I could hear and see my body flopping around like a beached jellyfish. I have to trust there was a method to the madness, but eventually the medical strategy simply devolved into this:

0.gif

She would not come out.

I heard the doctor call for an attending, and then for a vacuum. I looked up pleadingly at Eric. He lovingly stroked my hair and, in the most reassuring of tones, whispered, “I have no fucking idea what’s happening.”

I then turned to the anesthesiologist, and he assured me that everything was just fine. You know, like a liar.

tumblr_odzxx0NOoI1qmtcj8o2_540.gif

A few more minutes of flopping, a couple rounds of suction, and a few buckets of sweat pouring from Eric’s pointless hairnet later, Nora emerged to the song “When We Were Young.”  And it was beautiful.

The song, not Nora.

Nora looked like this:Nora birth.jpg

Which some people might argue is beautiful, because everything about pregnancy, birth and motherhood is beautiful, and to those people I say GET OFF MY BLOG.

raw-1.gif

Thankfully, they cleaned her up before handing her to me, because, for christ’s sake, I’d been through enough.

And then, she was beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that I simply could not believe she was mine.

“By the way,” said the doctor, “the second I took her out of you, she shit all over me.”

Ok yup she’s mine. woman-raising-hand-medium-light-skin-tone.png

IMG_6495.JPG

 

The Birth, Part 1

(I started writing this 8 months ago. I got one paragraph in and then forgot about it, because #mombrain. “The Birth, Part 2” will come at some point, but this was getting too long and I’m tired and someone should probably check on Nora. Where IS she….)

The evening of August 24th, 2018 was like any other evening in my third trimester of pregnancy: I was rip-roaringly uncomfortable, sweaty, and crippled with impatience. Eric was bored out of his goddamn mind. This general state of misery (misery being a relative term, I’m aware that this all falls under the umbrella of #champagneproblems) had been on repeat every day for the entire summer, and with my due date two days away, I had lost all hope that this baby would be arriving early.

One of Eric’s best friends was having a birthday party that night, and even though I could have technically gone into labor at any minute, I assumed I was going to be pregnant for another 3-7 years, and therefore urged Eric to go. I would’ve gone myself, but alas, breathing while standing was a luxury I could no longer enjoy.

“Have fun,” I told him, while yearning to be in a body that didn’t contain a whole other body.

200.gif

He swore he was only going to have one drink, just in case. “No, whatever,” I replied. “Get drunk. Enjoy yourself. This baby is never being born and I will forever be two people and I’ll never poop alone again and I’ll have two vaginas forever and that’s just a fate I’ve now accepted.”

raw.gif

So obviously after this diatribe he slowly backed out of the apartment, sprinted down the hall, fled to the west side and had himself a few hearty drinks.

And obviously, my water broke.

He got home from the party around 10:00pm, which is when people in their mid-thirties get home from parties. At 3am, I woke up thinking I had to pee, but when I stood up, I found I had no control over it, and bolted penguin-shimmied to the bathroom, luckily making it to the toilet before the major “break.”

tenor-1.gif

“How do you know the difference between your water breaking and just peeing?” many people have asked me. “Doesn’t it feel the same?” Yes, it feels the same in the way a light ocean ripple feels the same as a category 5 tsunami.

NO IT DOESN’T FUCKING FEEL THE SAME.

One thing is normal and the other thing is giphy-2.gif.

If your water breaks and you think it’s just pee, you’ve been peeing wrong.

I flipped on the bathroom lights and screamed, “Eric! It’s happening!” Though questionably drunk, he was out of bed in .5 seconds and ready to call an Uber when I casually removed my torpedoed granny panties and got into the shower.

A strange calm took over. I knew this was it, but I also didn’t feel panicked. I knew I wanted to feel clean going into the hospital, and that I had time. In a voice I didn’t recognize, because calm is a distant stranger I’ve never met, I told Eric to call the doctor while I enjoyed my last shower as a non-mom (had I known what I know now– that Nora would insist on watching me shower every day, curtain open, like a complete tater-tot-sized creeper, I would have cherished that last lone shower even more).

nora.jpg
(actual pic of her outside the bathroom door watching me shower and, I suspect, body-shaming me.)

The doctor said I’d probably start going into labor soon, but it was my choice if I wanted to go to the hospital now and induce, or wait at home for things to get moving. Asking an anxious person to sit around and wait is like asking my sister to emote– technically it can be done, but it will be painful for all involved so why torture ourselves.

We hopped (well, Eric hopped. I groan-waddled) into an Uber where I immediately called my Mom to let her know my water broke, and then immediately learned that you shouldn’t let your Uber driver know your water broke. They definitely surcharge that shit. I assured him that I wouldn’t leak in his ride, because “Don’t worry, Sir, I’m wearing a pad the size of Atlanta,” which definitely smoothed things over and made everyone feel more comfortable and less disgusted.

My mom, who was in the Outer Banks, where my entire family was vacationing without us, picked up the phone. She was 99% excited but I definitely caught that 1% of disappointment that I couldn’t kegel-squeeze this baby inside of me for another week so that her vacation could continue uninterrupted.

“I guess I’ll book a plane ticket!” she said, and I assured her, one last time, that she didn’t HAVE to fly in for this, but Cha Cha is no dummy and knew there would be social media evidence of her absence.

So she flew in for the optics.

When we got to the hospital I was asked by the nurse if I was SURE my water broke. I explained that I’m no medic, but if this isn’t my water breaking then either my body forgot how to pee right, or it turns out I’m a mermaid. For reasons I cannot place, she remained skeptical, and so took me into the bathroom to “test” the liquid.

“Alright, your funeral,” I shrugged, and as predicted, pulling down my underwear triggered another gush, which went all over her shoes. I’d assume labor nurses are used to and cool with this kind of thing, but she didn’t seem the least bit amused when I suggested she grab a boogie board so I don’t know maybe it was her first day?

“Ok, let’s check you in,” she said, now convinced that I was not in fact a mermaid and was maybe just having a human baby.

Another, more chill nurse thankfully then took over, and as she got me settled in my bed I caught a glimpse of my shitty-looking nails and said, “God damnit, I KNEW I should’ve gotten a manicure yesterday,” because that’s something that someone who is ready to be a mother says.

The nurse laughed and told me you wouldn’t believe how many women have glam squads come to the hospital to fix them up for the instagram birth series. That’s cool. I looked like this:

IMG_0753.jpeg

I was then asked if I wanted drugs, to which I replied YES PLEASE THANK YOU AND ALSO NOWWWWWWWW before the nurse could finish saying the word “epidural.” Please note that I was in absolutely zero pain at this point. I just wanted the zero pain to stay that way for as long as possible because, I don’t know, I guess I don’t hate myself?

But seriously, to the women who choose to suffer through the contractions or go all natural all the way, I gotta say damn you are brave. But also why? WHY?!

does-not-get-it.gif

So they started the epidural and then the Pitocin, a drug to induce labor. And then I sat back and relaxed while nothing happened.

NOTHING.

Literally nothing.

When the doctor went to check my cervix, she saw this:

200w-1.gif

Apparently my amniotic sac had decided it was go-time, but forgot to inform my cervix, which remained as closed as Donald Trump’s mind. (Relatedly, if Trump really wants an impenetrable border wall, he should build it out of my cervix).

No man, woman or baby was breaking through that barrier any time soon. I was 0 centimeters dilated. I know this because no less than four arms went up my hooha to check.

You know what’s a bad sign? When your doctor removes her fist from your vagina and says “Hmmmm, that’s odd.”

So we continued to wait while nothing happened. NOTHING.

200w-2.gif

So much nothing, in fact, that when the nurse came in to check on me, he just walked in, grabbed a seat and joined our binge session of The Sinner (great show, btw), which we were watching on Eric’s laptop. He didn’t even ask how I was feeling or if I needed anything– it was clear from the zero things happening that I was feeling nothing and needed nada. So he watched tv with us. Because Netflix n’ birth.

Clearly, it was going to be a long day.

Or so we thought.

giphy.gif

*I’m totally kidding about the optics joke, Ma! I know you love me. Probably not as much as you love the Outer Banks, though, which is fair because the Outer Banks never called you a bitch when it was 16.

Bonehead Decisions

Yesterday Eric and I went to the hospital for our 36-week growth scan (a thorough, more in-depth ultrasound to track baby’s growth/health, generally performed every 4-6 weeks in pregnancy). After the hell parade that was Sunday, we* were pretty anxious about what this scan might reveal.

*we = I . Eric doesn’t scare easily. See “marrying me” as evidence.

The first thing the technician said before performing the scan was “So, now that you’re 36 weeks and 3 days along, baby should definitely be in the head-down position, preparing for delivery.”

“Funny you should say that,” I countered. “Because we ended up in the hospital on Sunday due to contractions, nausea, and shortness of breath, only to learn through a quick ultrasound that baby flipped to breech, even though she’s been head down since week 30.”

“Ugh,” said the technician. “What a little stinker.”

I immediately liked her, and wondered if she’d be interested in nannying my child as a side-gig.

“Yes,” I agreed. “We’ve been using the term ‘bozo,’ but stinker works too.”

“Alright, well let’s see what Stinker’s up to today.”

She placed the ultrasound wand on my belly and immediately determined that baby had, somewhere in the past 36 hours, flipped back to head-down (the correct position).

“Oh, thank god,” I sighed, followed quickly by, “Fucking…seriously, though?”

My initial interpretation of this behavior was that this baby is exactly like Eric– an energetic bunny hellbent on filling her day with activities, despite the person sharing space with her being in NO MOOD.

giphy.gif

A true Lerman baby, by contrast, would have found a cozy spot at week 6 and not moved a muscle until she was tugged out with forceps, suction, and a blowhorn at week 43. But this kid has been kicking, jabbing, and playing my ribs like a xylophone for months now. Activities!!!!!!!!!! 52a0e87bb80b3b54af4cff0f2a2266bb imgres-252a0e87bb80b3b54af4cff0f2a2266bb imgres-252a0e87bb80b3b54af4cff0f2a2266bbimgres-2

Textbook Eric.

But upon further contemplation I realized this late-in-the-game-flip-trick was maybe less a display of restless hyperactivity and more indicative of chronic indecisiveness. A sudden, crippling fear that she was doing everything horribly wrong, and attempting to change course when it made absolutely no rational sense to do so. Or perhaps it was just straight-up bitchery performed for her own amusement. All clearly traits of her mother. img_1179-1

Terrifying realization that my daughter might be exactly like me aside, I was relieved that our little gremlin found her way back home because no breech = no automatic c-section, which, sure, might still happen anyway, but at least now it’s not a set inevitable. (Side note: after listening to several women in the throes of excruciating labor on Sunday, a c-section did actually start to sound appealing. But in general I have a rule about avoiding knives to my body if/when possible. Nose job at age 15 aside, of course. That was obviously necessary, according to my mother.)

Then, suddenly, something dawned on me, and I quickly formed a medical hypothesis about Sunday’s trauma that no doctor had offered up, because apparently in this pregnancy it is up to me, with my BA in Sociology, to accurately diagnose all health conditions with no help from the people who attended 7+ years of medical school (see: Hypothyroidism section of this post for further evidence of how I am smarter than all doctors everywhere my own best advocate.)

So I presented my hypothesis to the technician: “Wait, so– on Sunday they chalked my nausea, contractions and difficulty breathing up to dehydration or something I ate. But is it possible I got sick because of her breech position? Because honestly everything felt different and so uncomfortable for that one day, even the way I was able to move and lay, and I think maybe it was because she flipped to breech so quickly?”

“Oh, that’s absolutely possible,” replied the technician/my future nanny/new best friend. “At this stage in pregnancy all of your organs have shifted up, and there’s not much space left in there. So when baby flipped and pressed her head against all those organs, it definitely could have made you sick.”

tenor.gif

What exactly did I know? That this was ALL HER FAULT– NOT MINE! The doctors kept trying to tell me I’m not drinking enough water (literally impossible– I’m blogging this from the porcelain whiz palace, because I live here now) or that I “shouldn’t have eaten that chicken salad” when in reality I drink 20 vats of water a day (as something had to replace the wine) and Gracie Mews Diner would NEVER hurt me.

No, Sunday’s disaster was the result of baby’s choice, not mine, and to be honest I am slightly resentful that I had to take the heat for HER poor decision.

Although I suppose, in the end, this is exactly what parenthood is– begrudgingly accepting responsiblity for your kid’s bonehead choices.

And fine. I accept that. I guess I was just kind of hoping the boneheadedness would hold off until toddlerhood. Or, at the very least, birth.

Anyway, she heard all this so here she is trying to give me the finger.

IMG_0602.jpg

I’m sure she’ll have that down by the time I meet her.

 

 

Sunday Scaries

Yesterday I woke up having contractions, shortness of breath, and nausea.

So, thinking there was a slight possibility I might be in labor, as I am thisclose to full term, we called the doctor and described my symptoms. She advised us to check into the hospital’s labor and delivery building.

Eric: “Ok, and where is that?”

Probably a pretty fucking good sign that we are not quite ready to have this baby.

So the doctor gave us the address and politely decided to not acknowledge the fact that we were basically the pregnancy version of Dumb and Dumber.

We got to the hospital and eventually someone came to give me an exam. The monitors showed that I was in fact having contractions, so they wanted to check if my cervix was at all open (a possible sign of impending labor). I thought maybe this was the kind of thing that could be easily detected on, say, a sonogram. But no. Turns out this “exam” involves the doctor sticking her entire arm up my hooha and apologizing profusely, while Eric hides in a corner.

After a minute of intensely uncomfortable digging she declared “Nope! You’re completely closed off!”, confirming that my cervix does indeed match my personality.

She then performed a sonogram to check on the baby. “She looks perfectly happy in there!” she declared in a sunshine tone. “But you know she’s breech, right?”

Ummmm NO, Dr. Hooha Hands, we did NOT know that.

“But she’s been head down since 30 weeks, including when I went to the doctor 5 days ago!”

“Oh. Yikes. Well, now she’s breech. Her head is up here (points just below my left boob). It’s unlikely she’ll flip again at this point, but you can discuss options with your regualr OB, such as a planned c-section….but anyway, that’s not why we’re here.”

No, it’s not. BUT NOW THAT’S ALL I CAN FOCUS ON SO THANKS FOR NOTHING.

“So let’s get back to the contractions and nausea,” she continued.

“Ok. Yeah. Why is this happening?”

She might as well have answered with this emoji shrug_1f937

“Possibly dehydration? Or maybe something you ate?”

giphy <— that’s me being impressed with the expertise and insight one gains after 7+ years of med school.

“Either way, we’re going to give you this anti-nausea pill so at least you can get some relief on that end, and then we’ll see.”

I swallowed the pill.

Ten minutes later, I vomited profusely, filling two bins so quickly that two nurses and Eric (poor, poor Eric) were not enough helping hands to prevent it from spilling everywhere.

After they changed my entire bedding, wiped down my plastic mattress and re-dressed me in yet another gown that did nothing to cover my pale, pregnant tush-sag, they hooked me up to an IV to rehydrate me and dripped some meds through it, which eventually put me to sleep for about an hour. This was nice because it allowed me to tune out the woman next door in the throes of what seemed to be extremely painful labor. Eric still got to listen, though, because everything about his life right now is roses.

When I woke, I felt much better.

The doctor came back and looked at the monitor. “You were contracting a lot while sleeping so I’d like to check your cervix again.”

img_1179-1

So, one more painful round of arm-up-the-vajayjay and Dr. Hooha Hands officially confirmed that I am definitely closed, not in labor, and can go on my merry way. The nurses then came to check on me one last time, and Eric took this opportunity to clarify, “So, when we DO give birth, we come HERE?” imgres.jpg They smiled, because nurses are angels, and cofirmed that yes, Lloyd and Harry, this is where you two will come to have your baby.

They then discharged me, advising me to drink lots of water (duh) and not eat chicken salad from diners (oh.)

There is no real wrap up or moral or point to this story other than in case you haven’t been listening for the past 8 months, (this) pregnancy sucks.

Happy Monday.

 

13?!

My endocrinologist, who I now see for my newly acquired thyroid problem (thank you, pregnancy) is VERY old and the NICEST man, but also quite possibly the weirdest, and he never lets the appointment end without giving me parenting advice that I did not ask for.

Doctor: “The books are going to tell you all kinds of things, and everyone is going to have their opinion, but let me tell you right now, the best thing you can do is have your baby sleep in the bed with you.”

Me: “Oh, yeah I mean I have no judgement about that. I’m not sure it’s the route we’re going to take, but–”

Doctor: “I’m telling you, do it. It’s just the most wonderful thing to have your kid in your bed with you. And don’t let anyone tell you it’s dangerous, or it’s not healthy. That’s nonsense. Don’t listen to the critics– you can have them sleeping in your bed with you ’til they’re 13!”

Me: (laughing) “13!? Alright well THAT’S a little extreme.”

Doctor: “That’s what my wife and I did with our son.”

Me: img_6189-3

Doctor: “Yeah and I’ll tell you what, he grew up to be a very nice Jewish man. Very successful, very smart, very well-known. Went into politics. ”

Oh. Is this him?

AP_Anthony_Weiner_Mayor_MEM_160829_16x9_992.jpg

 

 

My Uterus is Wearing a Catcher’s Mitt and Now We Can’t Go to the Beach

This post is intended to serve as both a PSA to those of you who do NOT want to get pregnant and perhaps a reassuring bit of news for those of you 35-and-ups who hope to have kids (or MORE kids) at some point and have underlying anxiety about the non-stop, aggressive warnings from the medical community that it is much harder to conceive after age 34.

Now, I’m not here to argue with science. Clearly, there is medically researched backing to the idea that conception becomes more difficult as you get older. I’m just here to make you aware of the less-talked-about phenomenon that occurs in your mid-30s, but is just as real* (*have no scientific backing for this claim, based solely on personal experience and, you know, “what I’ve heard”)– it’s called Catcher’s Mitt Syndrome** (**not a real syndrome. Don’t quote this to people without a sense of humor– they won’t get it, and then they’ll research it, find out it’s fake and report me to Snopes).

Catcher’s Mitt Syndrome is when your geriatric*** uterus (***not my term– actual medical term for when you are 35+ and trying to have a child) overperforms. See, thanks to your 17+ years of popping birth control pills like tic tacs and/or using other means to impede its life work, your uterus hasn’t been given any opportunity to fulfill what it believes to be its life’s purpose (I am not saying this IS its life’s purpose, I’m just saying that’s what your UTERUS thinks. I fully support a woman’s choice to never have kids, and in fact encourage that choice. Trust me, I’m a teacher– I’ve met far too many parents who probably shouldn’t be parents.)

And so when your Guterus (celebrity couple name for geriatric + uterus) DOES get that one opportunity to shine, it gets so fucking excited that it dusts off the cobwebs, sprouts 27 limbs, and slips a catcher’s mitt on each of them. Then it does everything in its power to catch one of those incoming suckers because it knows this might be its only opportunity. This “last chance” mentality also causes your Yogi Berra uterus to text-alert your ovaries, encouraging them to release every available egg from their dark, abandoned storage room, which is why twins are more likely**** as you get older, even without the assistance of IVF (****statistic based on what my 35-year-old friend who just had twins told me. But she claims her doctor told her that, and I believe her because it sounds legit, and also this friend is a general knower of stuff and we used to share custody of a bunny when we were teenagers, so let’s just say I trust her. Yes, we ended up giving that bunny away because it was too much work and not as much fun as we thought it’d be, but that’s a story for another time and hopefully not at all reflective of our parenting abilities).

Needless to say, Eric and I did not know about Catcher’s Mitt Syndrome when we headed off to our 2-week South Africa/Seychelles honeymoon in late November. Like most people with a Guterus, I assumed that making a baby would take about 6 months if we were lucky, a few years with medical assistance if we were less lucky, or just wouldn’t happen at all. In fact, as proof of the absolute and utter uselessness of anxiety (my therapist would be so proud right now), I have spent the past 8 years worrying that when the time came for me to start a family, I would be unable to. This fear was based on absolutely nothing other than the knowledge that I would probably not get married until my mid-30s (because when you’re having a mental breakdown, living at home, and sleeping in your parents’ bed at age 27, you can safely assume marriage isn’t happening for a while).

Eight years of worrying I’d miss my chance, only to conceive on the first try. Anxiety, you deceptive bitch! Don’t get me wrong, I am EXTREMELY grateful that it turns out you’re nothing but a lying whore– I’d just like those 8 years of wasted energy back. It was exhausting.

So before we left for the honeymoon, I looked at my handy dandy ovulation app and noted that my “fertile days” would begin and last right through our 5 days in the Seychelles, at the end of our trip. Smack in the middle of paradise seemed like as good a time as any to get started!

Well, in true-to-me fashion I managed to contract a stomach bug of death during our last day in South Africa, which had me projectile vomiting through 2 countries, 3 airports, and 2 aircrafts (one of them a 20-seater so again, fellow passengers and unamused flight attendant who aggressively tried to block my path to the toilet during taxi, I’M SORRY.)

We finally arrived in the Seychelles, where I threw myself dramatically onto the sweet salvation of the bed and, with this exact level of energy and enthusiasm r7qewnm.gif , turned to Eric and said “Sooo….I’m ovulating…”

I still had dried throw up on my chin.

“Alright, well….maybe not tonight,” he replied gently, from the furthest corner of the room he could find. Because even Eric has his limits.

While I did stop puking that night, I never fully recovered from my illness in the time we were there, but we still put in some minimal baby-making effort because it just felt irresponsible not to.

It was only on our last day in the Seychelles that we decided to actually consult a calendar and calculate when this baby would actually be born, should we conceive. To our horror, we realized that it would be during our annual 2-week trip to the Outer Banks, the family vacation to end all family vacations– and, more importantly, the one that is fully financed by Big Steve. My siblings and I literally spend the year counting the days until this trip, and it’s pretty much what gets us through life. Eric has grown to love the Outer Banks as much as I do, so the idea of not going was unacceptable to us both.

Me: “Alright, well, we only tried once. Luckily the chances of getting pregnant on the first try when you’re 35 are zero*****.” (*****Again, all quoted statistics are based on NOTHING.)

Well, you know how this story ends– I never felt fully recovered from that stomach bug and by our second week back in the US, I decided that I definitely contracted an African parasite. Shortly thereafter, we confirmed (via 4 separate home pregnancy tests, because reading lines is hard), I DID have a parasite, but technically it was of Seychellian (Seychellese? Seychellite?) origin, and that parasite was going to turn into a human.

So, of course, we’d like to thank Catcher’s Mitt Syndrome for this blessing that is our daughter-to-be, but we also wish we had known about this phenomenon ahead of time, as we would have scheduled accordingly.

“Yeah, but your parents will just switch the vacation dates, right?” many of you have queried.

Oh, you sweet, naive people from normal families.

Here’s how the conversation with my mother went:

Me (right after taking pregnancy test): “So…we’re pregnant! The only issue here is that the due date is August 26, literally smack in the middle of the Outer Banks vacation…”
Mom: “Well, we don’t know that’s the due date.”
Me: “Ok. We do, though.”
Mom: “Let’s see what the doctor says.”
Me: “The doctor is going to say that’s the due date, because I used the exact same calculation method a doctor uses.”
Mom: “Em, let’s just see what he says, ok?”
(after going to doctor)
Me: “The doctor says the due date is August 26.”
Mom: “Ok, well let’s just see what happens.”

So no. No one is switching anything.

The takeaway from all this? It’s six-fold:

  1. Ignore research-based science and listen to my unfounded generalization that is based on one thing that happened to me once– conception at age 35+ can actually occur very fast, because your uterus has now become Hamilton and it is not throwing away its shot.
  2. Be grateful for this phenomenon, but schedule life plans accordingly. All-expense-paid vacations are precious. Yes, so are babies, but I’m just saying– shifting things a month never hurt anyone.
  3. Everything I’ve presented in this post is based on stuff I heard/experienced. I don’t know if it has any general merit so do not quote me, unless you’re doing it in a light-hearted, jokey way. Like, don’t tweet this at NIH.
  4. If you think these theories DO have some merit, google them and see if you find anything to back them up. I’d love to know what you find! “But why didn’t YOU google them to see if they have merit, Emily?” Because that’s not my job here. I write a blog, not a medical journal.
  5. No, this post is not an ungrateful, whining complaint about missing a vacation to have a baby. We are of course thrilled that this happened so easily for us, know that we are extremely lucky, and this post is all in jest. It annoys me that I even have to include these disclaimers, but there is always that person who takes offense, and while I don’t understand then why you continue to read this blog, I still feel the need to address your complete misunderstanding of how humor works.
  6. For this entire post, I am sorry, Eric.