Saturday, December 20, 2008

The WRONG Kind of Digital

Last night dearest and I experienced our first soiree into the exciting world of Labor and Delivery. After an extremely insane week of work, my body had clearly drawn the line and responded with a bevy of contractions, particularly on Friday, to the point that it was getting uncomfortable and, frankly, a little alarming. When I came home and hit the couch, they slowed greatly but never came to a total halt and when, by Saturday afternoon, I was still having a couple an hour, I called the hospital triage to see what they wanted me to do. They, of course, said come in please, we will be happy to check you out. I was a little hesitant, I didn't really feel like I was in LABOR, but I did want to be sure that all of this contracting was not doing anything to my dear cervix, especially since we are supposed to go to South Florida in a couple of days. So in we went.

Our little local hospital is, in truth, a lovely place. The obstetrics ward was precious, so shiny and clean and quiet- we were the only ones there. The nurse was kind and funny and put me at ease. Well, she started to put me at ease, until she described what was going to happen, "We just want to monitor you for a little bit and be sure the babies are not stressing because of the contractions. You can change into this gown, we will check your cervix and we'll need a urine sample to rule out infection, so you are going to need a catheter."

Excuse me?

The world stopped.

I am no sissy. I have a scar on my neck from a point-blank paintball shooting, and I am rather proud of it. I gave myself 4 shots a day this summer. I survived a kidney stone. I really am ok with necessary pain. Truly. But a catheter? WHY? Can we just forget this whole thing, because that is SO not working for me.

I did not say that. I did manage to murmur "I'd really be thrilled to pee in a cup..." and made my very best puppy dog eyes at her. She hemmed and she hawed and she said, "Do you think you can give me a REALLY good sample?" I was like "YES! DEAR GOD! IT WILL BE THE MOST PERFECT URINE YOU HAVE EVER ANALYZED!!!!" Mercifully, she allowed me to pee in a cup. Which was a good and kind thing, because I can tell when I have a bladder infection and I knew I did not, and plus don't catheters GIVE you bladder infections?

Anyway, excellent urine sample obtained, gown on, now for the monitors. Easy, right? Ha! See, the monitors are all big, and because there are 2 babies, the plan was to get a heart monitor on each baby plus a contraction monitor on me so they can all monitor together. Except the problem with 23 week babies as opposed to the full termers they are used to, is that they still have enough room to get the hell AWAY from the heart monitor, which seemed to be exactly their plan. Actually that was plan B. Plan A was to ATTACK the monitor when it was put anywhere near them. I don't know what it was they did not like: the cold gel, the pressure from the monitor, the noise, but it became evident that the babies were INTENTIONALLY kicking the monitors with all their adorable might. This was making the nurse laugh, which of course was making me laugh, and the whole thing was turning into a giant three-ring circus. Eventually, after like 30 minutes, she managed to get a heart rate on both girls. Then she put the contraction monitor on. Mind you, I had not had a single contraction since the word "catheter" was muttered like 40 minutes ago (hey, maybe we found a cure for pre-term labor!). Then she started with the interview portion of our competition, featuring such exciting questions as: spent any time in jail in the past 2 years? ever gotten a positive result on an HIV test? diabetes? high blood pressure? exposure to measles, mumps, chicken pox? About halfway through I just told her to put me down for the most boring answer to every question, because I really had nothing exciting to share. She replied with "Oh, you would be surprised the answers we get sometimes..." and when she got to the "Have you had anything in your vagina in the past 24 hours?" question I REALLY wanted to reply with "A live weasel, 4 cumquats and a cinnamon candy cane" or something, just to keep things interesting.

By then it was 7:00 and time for the nurses to change shifts. So we said goodbye to Nurse Catheter and hello to Nurse Digital. Nurse Digital got the crummier end of the deal. First, she had to do the Fetal Fibronectin test, which is where they swab the cervix to be sure that you are not shedding a protein that would indicate that you are in fact in premature labor. I guess she looks at cervixes all the time, so maybe she doesn't really care. Then the waiting game began, monitoring contractions while waiting for the test results to come back. The monitor managed to pick one up here and there but nothing to write home about as far as I was concerned. By 8:00 the test came back negative (hooray!) and I figured we were out of there home free. Nurse Digital told us she was just going to call our doctor and let her know how things were, and she'd be right back. She returned and said "OK, all we need to do is a digital exam on your cervix and if it is still closed you guys are out of here!" I thought, "Yay! Just one more little thing, a digital exam, and we can go eat." (By this time Dearest was pretty hungry.) I waited for her to bring in the digital machine that she would use to do the digital exam. Instead, she sat on the edge of my bed. And put on a glove. And put a lot of goop on the fingers of the glove. And still I'm sitting there, like a trusting child, waiting for the digital device she was going to use. She told me, "Just relax, this is going to be a little uncomfortable," and still I was a little confused. It was the second or third time that she JAMMED me in the cervix with her fingers that I realized... "Oh THAT kind of digital? Like with your DIGITS. NOW I get it!" Ow ow ow ow ow... "So sorry dear. I know that's no fun. Good news, cervix seems to be closed. Doctor wants you to take it very easy, lots of fluids, let us know if things pick up again so we can check you out."

I'm thinking "Yeah, right lady. This evening started off with threat of catheter and ended with your digits prodding my cervix. I think next time I will just stay on the couch."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

All that Glitters...

This is, without a doubt, the best time of the year to be a Kindergarten teacher. There is one reason for that. You might think it is the magic of those innocent little children in breathless anticipation of Santa's arrival. That is very sweet and all, but the REAL reason this time of the year is so great is simple: the craft possibilities are nearly ENDLESS. And every craft REQUIRES glitter. It's a dream come true. This year, we have made letters to Santa (glitter), angel tree toppers (lots of glitter), handprint Christmas trees (sequins), Italian ornaments (gallons of glitter), footprint reindeer (ooh, no glitter, but the next best thing: googly eyes!), and gingerbread houses (glitter). The only downside of this glittery time of the year is that, as the leader of glitter-saturated projects, you come home with glitter in the most UNLIKELY places. Starting with your scalp and eyebrows. It's an X-rated snow globe in my shower every morning as yesterday's glitter goes down the drain. Blow your nose? Glitter. Take off your socks? Glitter. And the craziest of all, because BELIEVE ME I teach fully clothed, is the glitter in the bra. I am not alone in this festive discovery, Kindergarten teachers everywhere would be mistaken for exotic dancers were they to be strip searched this time of the year, so inexplicably saturated with glitter are our bodies.

In an extra show of holiday enthusiasm this year, I seem to be growing a white beard of my very own. Ho ho ho! It started with a tiny bit of white downiness in the sideburn area, and has continued to get more luxurious with each passing week. I understand this is the work of runaway hormones, and that additional facial hair is just one of those completely bizarre things that goes along with pregnancy, but between that and the round little belly that shakes when I laugh like a bowl full of jelly I am starting to wonder if I should try to hire myself out to the mall. "Have you been naughty or nice little boy? Ho ho ho!" Maybe the glitter I am covered in will add to my magical aura.


Sunday, December 14, 2008


Things around here are getting more uncomfortable. Especially at night.

I can really relate to this little guy.

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

Friday, December 12, 2008

Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful...

Um. OK. That was a lie. Actually, the weather is quite nice.

But that's not my point.

My point is that fake snow is in my book a MAJOR MAJOR violation. I can not STAND all of the "cute, rustic" yard signs in people's yards here in Central Florida that say "Let it Snow!" The inflatable snowmen and the spray-on window frost are equally completely offensive to me. Dearest thinks I'm a bit oversensitive about it, since I now reject even snowflake wrapping paper or greeting cards down here. Also when our neighbors put up their front yard snowman I said I was going to encourage Coda to pee on it. And I won't even START to talk about Disney's fake snow machines, which in fact produce little tiny bubbles which, when falling, look fairly snow-like, but when landing on the tongue taste distinctly soap-like. Trust me. I know.

So maybe I am a little over the top about it. But fake snow just seems so... desperate. Depressing. Face it folks, you can put all the "Let it Snow" signs and little decorative sleds on your front porch but it AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN. If some guy in Minnesota put a plastic palm tree and some pink flamingos in front of his house this time of the year, he would probably be taken away by the men in the white coats, or at the very least gawked at. It is no more likely that Minneapolis turn into a tropical paradise than it is for Orlando to be a winter wonderland. Let's just enjoy it for what it is, sunny and cool, and not try to pretend like we're something we're not.

Sorry. Just my serious pet peeve.

In baby news, we had an appointment today, and everything looks good! Both babies are growing beautifully, Sophie's weight was 1 lb., 3 oz, and her heart rate was 145 and Livi weighs 1 lb., 1 oz, with a heart rate of 143. Sophie is measuring a little ahead and Livi is right on track. I have certainly felt a lot more of Sophia's movements, and she was, as always, the more active during the ultrasound too. She was facing out, sucking on her toes and touching her face with her hands. We could really see her face and it was just too sweet. Olivia was snuggled in quietly, facing my spine, so even though we didn't get a good look at her face this time, we could tell she was cozy. I think she might be a night owl like her dad, because one of them actually woke me up in the middle of the night this week with their squirrelyness, and I am pretty sure it was Livi. It was a relief to see them and know they are ok and also to know that my cervix is still long and closed (because I KNOW you were just dying to hear the status of my cervix), I was a little worried about it with the contractions lately, but so far so good.

I will leave you this evening with some extreme Sophie cuteness. The first one is Soph waving hi, and the other one is her sucking on her own foot (it's a little blurry because she was moving). Aww...

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Oh. My. God.

I’m not Catholic. Never have been.

I did go to Catholic school for a little while. We lived in inner-city Detroit, and the public schools there in the 80’s were just not an option for us. So my folks sent me to a Catholic school in Grosse Point. I was the only non-Catholic kid there, at least as far as I knew. Nobody else was stuck in the pew when everyone went for communion on Wednesday mass. Everybody else there had grown up together, in their fancy suburbs: had gone to church together and school together for as long as they could remember. I was the non-Communion getting freak from the city. We each received a cross, which, in case of an emergency, was engraved with “I AM A CATHOLIC, PLEASE CALL A PRIEST.” I proudly showed mine to my folks when I got home from school that day, and asked them if I was allowed to wear it since I was, in fact, not a Catholic. My dad replied, “Honey, we should probably get you one that says ‘I am an Episcopalian, please call a bartender.’” My parents both started cracking up. I went to school the next day, marched up to my teacher, Sister Margaret, and announced to her, “My parents are going to get me a necklace that says “I am an Episcopalian, please call a bartender.” I grinned, and waited for her to have the same reaction that my folks had. All she said was, “Is that so?”

These days, if someone were to be so unfortunate to find my unconscious carcass somewhere, they would immediately call a Catholic Priest. Why, you ask? Because, despite my severe lack of Catholicism, I am covered in Catholic medals and trinkets. How the heck did this happen? It started when Dearest and I went to the Vatican when we were in Rome. It was, even for a heathen such as myself, awe-inspiring. Caught up in the excitement, at one of the many well placed gift-shops I bought myself a beautiful cross charm that was blessed by the Pope himself! I should never fall for that trick, Disney is the Mecca of well-placed gift shops, it seems so transparent there, but at the VATICAN? Surely the things they are selling THERE are different. Hmm. Anyway, I put the cross on a silver chain and have worn it since, as a reminder of our beautiful trip.

Then there are the medals. These are not my doing. We tried, as you know, for a long time to get pregnant, and people wanted to “help” in whatever way they could. So, since we had not invited them into our bedroom to offer us useful procreation tips, they had to resort to things like praying for us. Poor them. Anyway, my mom-in-law got for me a medallion with “Sancta Mater Anna,” the patron saint of mothers. Couldn’t hurt, I figured, plus my mom’s name is Ann, so it kinda works for me, so I put it on my necklace next to my cross. Then my friend Kel took a vacation to Saint Augustine, from which she brought me a medallion of “Madonna de la Leche,” AKA our Lady of the Milk. She is the patron saint of childbirth and breastfeeding. Mrs. La Leche’s medal came with instructions: it must be pinned to your bra. Fair enough. Couldn’t hurt, might help, right? Worst-case scenario, maybe it will make my boobs get bigger.

Well, I’m not really superstitious, but I am a creature of habit, so wearing this stuff has just become a part of what I do. I AM pregnant, though I am thinking the Reproductive Endocrinology team had more to do with that than Our Lady of anything. But you never know. So I religiously (totally non-religiously, actually) wear my Catholic paraphernalia. But if you find me unconscious somewhere, please do call a bartender.

This brings me to the point. (“You have a point?” you are asking yourself.) What we are going to do about my daughters’ religion. We don’t go to church. At all. We are both, truthfully, a little concerned about what organized religion can do to people, how it can claim to teach love and then exclude people: women, gays, those with other life experiences and views. How the Baptist church here spent more than a million dollars erecting a 199-foot cross, when I have a child in my class whose family sleeps in the truck on cold nights because their trailer has no heat. I am not claiming to be perfect. But I am kind and compassionate, and I know right from wrong, and I think my kids will too, even without Sunday School.


I also know it’s not all about us. Dearest’s mom IS a REAL Catholic. And my Episcopal Dad would go to church every day if he could. They derive a lot of comfort and strength from their religions and I think that is great. They are two of the most upstanding, loving, empathetic people I know. And I know it’s really important to them that these girls be baptized and, at a minimum, exposed to some religion.

As of now, we are probably going to take the path of least resistance, the same as we did with our wedding. We will baptize the babies in a non-denominational church, maybe the same place we got married. Maybe my uncle, who is an Episcopal priest, will be able to do it, or maybe we will get some other Protestant minister to perform the ceremony. (The Catholics, you see, will not touch us with a ten-foot pole. The church by us would need me to get my first marriage annulled to the tune of about $1K, then I would need to convert ($3K when it’s said and done) and we would need to be tithing members in good standing for 2 years before they would do the baptism. Uh… no.) But if we do it as we imagine, it will be lovely, we will all feel a part of the day, and it will be a great opportunity for everyone to reflect on whatever forces they think came into play to get our two “miracle” babies to this earth.

After that, the vision gets a little more hazy. I guess my hope is to expose them to all types of religions and philosophies, helping them to formulate their own “moral compass” that allows them to treat others the way they would like to be treated because they really understand that we are made up of our experiences, good and bad, not because they are afraid of some mystery deity smiting them.

What would Jesus do if they were His daughters?