Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Car Story Part II

Has it really been more than an entire week since I posted part one of my Car Story? Shoot! Well, at least there was a good intermission.  All good stories need an ending, so lets hope this is it. I'm not caffeinated so it may be more coherent or more boring.

Car Story Part Two

Our four car family
The greasiest, tannest, skinniest, pot-smokiest, talkiest, Vietnam vet who ever did work out of his double wide trailer turned out to be a good mechanic for the Mr. and Mrs. He took longer than the agreed upon duration of the repair but since the Mr. and Mrs. were a four car family, they weren't too concerned. He was able to fix what needed to be fixed and tell the Mr. how to repair the radio on his own, which was important for the Mrs. as she had become convinced that no one in their right mind would ever buy a car with a busted radio.

The time had finally come where the Neon was drivable. The Mrs. did some cleaning. In the glove compartment, she found the package of Jolt gum that the Mr. had given her when she was always tired and doing a lot of driving in grad school as well as some outdated electronics manuals (weird). The rest of the car yielded an old Lemonheads CD, gas receipts from 2005, M&Ms that didn't quite make it into her mouth, a bag of books that were denied passage into the local used book store, and a lot of other kipple. A car wash removed bird poop that had been caked on to the hood for longer than she cared to admit (a sigh of relief was breathed as she was worried the poop had eaten away the paint) and some vacuuming removed the embarrassing amount of dirt that had accumulated on the floors. A quick photo shoot, a short write up praising the virtues of a car 10 years old, and viola! The car was Craig's Listed.   

Within ten minutes, calls inundated the Mrs. It was as if she was selling The Most Desirable Thing on the Planet. And let's face it, it probably was. Teenagers, non-English speakers, people calling from work on the sly, people offering an additional $50 if the Mrs would hold it for them, those who would only communicate via text (RU still selling the Neon?) name it, they called. One guy called and wanted to see it but didn't have a ride. Sorry buddy, that's your responsibility. Appointments were made for people to see the car that night; subsequent callers were told to call back the next day to see if it had sold.

A few hours later, when the Mr. was home (the Mrs. did not want to be kidnapped and then beheaded by the Craig's List Killer), they showed the vehicle to their first inquirer, a college sophomore named Oscar who was accompanied by his mechanic grandfather and his chatty mother and stepfather. The Mrs. thought it was a good omen because she wanted to name their first born Oscar (the Mr. was not into that one). Like all good shoppers, they looked under the hood, gave it a test drive, and talked in a huddle. The Mr. and Mrs. put on the pressure, explaining that two other people were coming over to look at the car within the next hour and that the people had been calling non-stop since the ad was posted. It didn't take much convincing though, because Oscar knew he had found the car of his dreams. Sold!

The next evening, an inspired Mr. adjusted his ad for the Buick. The price was lowered about one hundo and some extra adjectives were used. It must have been buy Old Cars Week in the Old Pueblo because now the Mr.'s phone was ringing ringing ringing. Sure enough, that same guy who religiously called all those other times called right away...

"Hey, is the 1995 Cutlass Sierra Oldsmobile still available?"

"Yeah man, you are welcome to come see it" said the Mr.

"I'm already on my way."

"Uh, hey man, we aren't home right now."

"When are you going to be home?"

"Probably like a half an hour."

"That's OK. I'll wait in your driveway."

That's how bad he wanted it. The Mrs. was a little irritated as she was not yet finished with her piece of pizza (it was Costco dinner night) but this situation was not in her control.

When the family got home, that man was waiting in the driveway, as promised. The Mr. gave him the 411, reminding him of the broken door handle, the faulty windows, and the lack of AC. The guy assured the Mr. that he wanted the Oldsmobile and proceeded to give the Mr. a $200 deposit, since some logistics had to be worked out the next morning, during business hours. The Mr. tried to assure him that wasn't necessary, but the man was adamant.

The next morning, the man showed up a half hour early. The Mrs. explained the Mr. was at the bank, getting title and bill of sale notarized.

"Oh, I just thought I'd come early, just in case he was ready."

"I'm sorry...he'll be here in a 1/2 hr, just like you guys arranged..." She was not about to let him in. He wasn't suspicious, per se, but she still did not want to take a risk because you just never know who the next Craig's List Killer could be.

"Oh, that's all right...I'll just drive around for a while, I guess." He later told the Mr. that he came early because he wanted to get a jump start on repairing the windows and door... The man had found his soul car.

This is the end of the story. It is probably incredibly anti-climatic but it was kind of a big deal for the Mr. and Mrs, seeing as they were a four car family for a long time and then, in the space of two days, they were a two car family again. They learned that it is kind of fun to sell something on the internet, especially when you don't get killed by the Craig's List Killer. They also learned that once in a super moon, someone can be obsessed with the type of car you are selling, which is a match made in heaven, but only if you price it right. The Mrs., having met someone named Oscar who was perfectly acceptable, learned that Oscar should definitely be the name of their second son, if one should ever come into the picture.

A month or so has passed and the Mr. and Mrs. haven't heard from the Oscar or the Oldsmobile lover, which is good news because that would have sucked big time if they had sold their cars and then had them blow-up or something on their new owners. The Mr. and Mrs. lived happily ever after, with the Mrs. being the fairest of them all and the Mr. eating four dozen eggs every morning to help him get large. Pretty soon he'll start eating five dozen, making him roughly the size of a barge. 

 The End.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Car Story Intermission

While we're all waiting for Alison to finish the epic Car Story, I thought that the least I could do would be to provide some halftime entertainment in the form of a trivia question/vocabulary lesson. The vocabulary lesson comes first. Please read this definition carefully:

Poop-kick [poop-kik]
1. to strike excrement with the foot or feet
2. to defecate while striking an object with the foot or feet or while making a thrusting motion with the leg
3. to transfer excrement which is pooled or caked on one’s foot to another surface by striking it with the foot

Now for the question. Which of these did Russell do on Sunday?

A: 1
B: 2
C: 3
D: 1 & 2
E: 2 & 3
F: 1 & 3
G: All of the above

What you may not have completely understood from the above is that this is one of those questions where somebody asks you something like "Guess who the Bachelor gave the final rose to?" and then immediately tells you that it was the crappier one before giving you the opportunity to guess.

The correct answer is G: All of the above. Russell was definitely wiggling/kicking around in a strange way while he was defecating as evidenced by his ability to somehow poop out of his diaper and into the footsie of his sleeper with minimal poop trailing on his leg. Since I was the one who touched him last, I assumed the responsibility to clean up the mess. After Russell's sleeper was removed but before the full extent of the poop spread was realized, Russell decided to re-enact the day of his birth by kicking his excrement-slathered foot against my shirt thereby transferring his footprint in feces instead of ink. Russell later went on to kick some of the poop that made it onto the changing table via his back.

Now you know a new word that you can use while parenting, babysitting or watching or playing soccer.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Car Story

I'm doing it again folks. Writing a multi-part story. Except this time, it doesn't have anything to do with having a baby (thank goodness). But you know, whatever. I'm feeling kinda goofy. I did drink Diet Coke today so you better watch out. I'm not usually caffeinated although I kinda like it.  Here we go....    

Car Story, Part One

For a time, we were a four car family. Well, lets back up. For a time, we were a two car family—as is standard in Middle America. I’ve always dreamed of living in a place where we could be a one car family but alas, this is not 'I’m-So-Awesome-‘Cause-I-Live-in-a-Big-City-Story'. That will never be our story. Sigh. I’m OK with that because I love our life, but I’m not going to lie, I watch Sex and the City a lot these days and day dream more than I care to admit about expensive high heels and taxis. Anyways, our car story had, for the entire span of our 3 ¾ year marriage, previously consisted of a 1995 Cutlass Sierra Oldsmobile and 2001 Plymouth Neon. 

We were getting to a point in our relationship with the said cars where long car rides were no longer a good idea and where the Mrs. of the family profusely complained when having to ride in the Olds (which she often called The Buick for reasons unknown).  

This is mostly because a.) The passenger side door did not open from the outside b.) It had automatic windows that usually got stuck when in the down position which was especially problematic because c.) It did not have a working air conditioner and we live in one of the hottest areas of the country.  Furthermore,  d.) The engine frequently over-heated despite the Mr.’s repeated attempts to play mechanic.  

Yet the Neon was no dream, either.
It didn’t really like going over 70 as it would get all shaky and feel like it might fall apart. Also, the Neon was not manly enough for the Mr. as it was rather small and had no vroom.  Those cars probably would have been driven to their pending deaths if it weren’t for the fact that both the Mr. and the Mrs. felt leery of driving a wee one (whose arrival was imminent) around in either car.

The time came when enough money had been saved to make some car adjustments. After some Craig’s Listing, we found the family sedan of our dreams.  2007 Toyota Camry, baby. Oh yeah.  Around the same time, we acquired an Acura with significant body damage, just as many years as the Olds, but with many more miles.  We snatched it because it was $800 and in much better mechanical shape.  Plus leather seats and a moon roof.  Holla! (No, I did not just misspell hola).  We were in car heaven.  Things were really working out.

We had plans of doing some more Craig’s Listing (only in the opposite direction) and getting back to our two car family status. Only we moved. And then had a baby. And then had the holidays. Plus it gets dark so early in the winter. Suddenly, being a four car family was much easier than being a two car one, especially since our new house had a very spacious drive way that made having some extra vehicles no big deal.  As a result, we were a four car family for way too long. About seven months, actually.     

The Mr. made some meager attempts at selling the Olds, but no one was biting. Well, one person kept biting every time the ad was posted. He would always explain how he used to have that very same car (which he dearly loved), only it was recently totaled and his insurance company was only offering him X amount of money to replace it, which was several hundred dollars less than our asking price. Yet this man never asked to come see it and never made Brandon an offer. The conversation always awkwardly fizzled out.  He was still out his car and we were still stuck with ours.

Then, when the Mrs. was ready to momentarily leave the new baby to prepare the Neon for market, the battery was dead. Of course. When the battery was replaced, the wrong size battery was installed. When the engine started, wires were crossed and there was a lot of smoke. When the correct battery was installed, the car still started, but the check-engine light still came on. And the radio didn’t work. Grr. It was ultimately determined that the alternator now needed replacing. The Mr. gave it an honest–to-goodness attempt to fix the problem, but quickly discovered that a Neon's alternator is apparently in the most awkward and cumbersome place ever and then decided that wasting a Saturday gathering the know-how and the supplies for an alternator.  Phew. The Mr. did some Googling and found a local mechanic who seemed affordable, likely because he was the greasiest, tannest, skinniest, pot-smokiest, talkiest, Vietnam vet who ever did work out of his double wide trailer (but he was really cheap). 

Part Two: To Market to Market

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Baby Aftermath, Part Three

OK--this is the last blog about this topic!!  

Also, the more I think about it, the more I think that personal medical experiences are so intriguing. We all have them or will at some point in our lives--childbirth, a broken bone, an illness, getting your gallbladder removed. They cause us such discomfort and disruption and the stories themselves are filled with gnarly, sometimes unbelievable details.  And then, for most of us, they heal and then we forget.  Anyways...      

Part Three

I made steady improvements in short amounts of time, even though I often didn’t notice until Brandon or my mom pointed out a new accomplishment that I wasn’t able to do the day before. The first 48 hours were the worst and then the first week was a close second. By the end of the second week, however, I was able to do most everything without Brandon's help. A month later, my family still noticed that I hobbled everywhere. I was able to take short walks in my neighborhood, although I was usually pretty sore the next day. 

During those first few weeks, I tried not to use the internet as my doctor (I didn’t want to get lured into forums of people trying to freak each other out with their grizzly physical ailments). Yet in a fit of despair, I couldn't resist the pull of the world wide web and ended up Googling my symptoms.  I ended up in some panic-inducing forums but I also found descriptions for Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction and Pelvic Girdle Pain. Each accurately summed up my experience and helped me to know I was not the only one with postpartum back and hip issues. 

When my six week OB follow-up appointment rolled around, I was adamant that I see my doctor rather than the nurse practitioner,as was standard. I went in, hoping that I would explain my symptoms to her and she would say, " sounds like you have a classic case of Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction" and then tell me how crucial it was for me to do XY&Z.  But instead, she just nodded her head over and over. She was sympathetic but just explained that sacroiliac issues are fairly common. She also recommended a physical therapist but her reaction made me realize that I wasn't going to die or be permanently maimed.  I decided to push myself in my walks and give it more time.  I also decided that if I was still pretty hindered after 6 months, then I might take her up on the physical therapy recommendation.  

And that was exactly the right approach.  After about two months, the waddle was gone and I was no longer as sore after my walks, even the longer ones.  I even took Russell on his first hike, carrying him in a Bjorn.  Now, I have only small remnants of those crazy sacroiliac issues. I have some days where my right hip is achy, mornings where my lower back hurts when I wake up, and instances where my back and hips tighten if I've been in a certain position for too long and I wince and groan as I straighten myself out again. I don't know how ready I am to do any major hikes but I've been able to incorporate some running into my walks without any major consequence (other than being short of breath!). The small bits of pain I still have pales in comparison to the daily aches that many have all the time. Chronic pain is something I hope to never experience.  It really is debilitating both in body and in spirit.
In other words, the tincture of time really was really the trick. When I was in the thick of my discomfort, time moved so slowly. In hindsight, I can clearly see how quickly I healed although it certainly didn’t feel like that was happening. While I may have had something like Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction or Pelvic Girdle Pain, it didn't really change what I needed to do--give it time and gradually push myself.   

Fortunately, I look back on those first few weeks of Russell's life with fondness. We made the most of getting to know our new baby and relished in the fact that we had a beautiful and perfect little son. Nothing, not even some discomfort, was going to change that.        

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Baby Aftermath, Part Two

Thanks for reading so far...these posts probably venture into the 'over-sharing' category and I normally cringe when I see others do this.  I'm also not doing this to glorify how bad I had it...I also don't want to freak people out, especially those that may be pregnant. You'll be fine! I don't really have a good explanation for these posts other than I just felt the need to write out and share the story. 

Part Two

Looking back, one of the saddest things was that I didn't hold Russell much during those first few days—Brandon changed every single one of his meconium poops. Not because I didn’t want to, but simply because I was so out of it and so unable to, that they just came and went. The only times I really held him were when we were trying to breastfeed, which was a whole other ordeal that could likely be another three-part blog. Even trying to breastfeed (you just sit there and hold your baby!) was terribly uncomfortable. As I worked with the lactation specialist, I remember pain just radiating down my legs and throughout my pelvis.  Just as Russell would be making progress with eating, I would have to shift positions. I wanted so badly to focus on him, but sometimes couldn't get past the throbbing.    

Luckily, Russell was very easy going those first few days.  He slept a lot and never cried. He had quite the cone head, a big bruise on his noggin, and wasn't too interested in eating or socializing--the nurses said he was recovering from the delivery as well. In fact, when the nurses described what Russell was going through, they would preface their comments with, "Babies that have traumatic births..." What?! That actually was a fairly traumatic thing to hear and they kept saying it over and over. It seemed like his his birth was fairly ordinary... there was no c-section and he didn't have to go to the ICU, etc.  He just got a little stuck.  

During our stay in the hospital, Brandon, my parents, my doctor, and the nurses took great care of me. I was impressed by the quality of care we received. I have a whole new level of respect for nurses and medical assistants. I would never want their jobs! Everyone believed me and did whatever necessary to help; no one told me to suck it up and most importantly, no one made me feel like a burden. That would have made those first few days unmanageable. Furthermore, everyone was really proactive about trying to figure out what was causing me the pain as it had become obvious that I was having some out of the ordinary experiences.   

Initially, the medical staff thought either the epidural was to blame or that my tail bone had broken during delivery. After some check-ups, it was evident none of that had happened. I was nonetheless offered x-rays and the doctors and nurses suggested bumping up my meds to Oxycontin, but I passed knowing neither would get me what I wanted—long term relief and mobility! Once we understood that nothing was grossly wrong, the tincture of time became the prescription. That actually became our inside joke as each specialist that saw either Russell or me said, "It's just going to be the tincture of time." Who knew that such a phrase was so rampant.  

Both my doctor and the physical therapist who came to consult on my case said that the ligaments in my sacroiliac joint had loosened and weakened, making it much harder for that crucial joint to support me (see the sections on signs and symptoms and pregnancy in the link). 

Those ligaments naturally stretch and loosen during pregnancy to help the body adjust to the new weight from the baby. For some reason, those ligaments went totally bonkers in me, possibly because the pushing stage of delivery lasted about 2 1/2 hrs. That made sense as all my pain seemed to be radiating out from the sacroiliac area. I was told that those ligaments just needed time to heal, just as an athlete might take some time off after a bad muscle tear. My doctor suggested I stay an additional day in the hospital--this suggestion was a huge relief as the thought of going home was inducing panic. I still couldn't walk to the bathroom alone, and that was just a few steps away. How was I going to move through our much larger house?  

A few hours later, we also learned that Russell needed an extra day too—the bruising on his head had caused his bilirubin to rise and he needed some bili light treatment. 

That extra day made all the difference.  I began to force myself to get out of bed more frequently and to do things on my own, even though it was often slow and painful. I was starting to understand what hurt the most (shifting weight) and how important it was to keep on top of the pain medication. That helped me know what to expect and how to problem solve. Furthermore, the pain was decreasing. Although it was in small increments, it was enough to start doing more and for longer stretches. That last day was actually the most exciting.  The skies were clearing and we knew it was only going to get better.  

We had checked in the hospital around 8:00pm on a Wednesday and didn't leave until about 4:30 pm on a Monday. When the time finally came to leave, we were so ready. We couldn't wait to be home with our baby.  Putting Russell in his first outfit was marvelous. This was our son! I don't know if I had ever felt so fortunate. 

Nonetheless, that first week home was hard.  Part of it was definitely learning how to parent a new baby who didn't like to eat and liked to scream from 2-4 in the morning. Yet Brandon and I were prepared for that part. We knew babies weren't easy and we still chose to be parents.  We very much wanted Russell.  We did a great job figuring out Russell's needs and never let ourselves get overwhelmed by the unpredictability of the newborn lifestyle. We laughed a lot and reveled in the wonder of it all. Most of the difficulty was my stupid pain as I continued to need help getting in and out of bed, standing up from the sofa, and getting in the car. Brandon handled everything like a champ.  He never showed any frustration, concern, or exhaustion. If he ever was any of those things, he never showed it and deserves the big gold medal for Best Husband Ever.

Basic things like sitting up in the morning, putting on my pants, going up a stair, and walking took a lot of effort and a lot of time. Laying in bed was one of the most uncomfortable things, especially since I no longer had the hospital bed to raise up and down and an endless supply of pillows to position around me. I tried sleeping in our bed, in the guest bed, the sofa, and even the floor. Often when I finally got positioned, I would then hear and feel my lower back and pelvis shifting around--it was like the sensation you get when you turn to crack your back on a chair, except x100, in a different area, and without me trying to do that. 

I remember trying to run errands and feeling so defeated; getting in the car was painful, the vibrations from the car aggravated my back and hips, and walking from my car to the store was more than I could bear. I was exhausted before I began. On several occasions, I actually used the motorized carts and didn't feel one bit guilty. It was pretty comical, actually. I also considered using handicap parking spaces but ultimately didn't because I didn't want to pay fines if I was caught.  In hindsight, it seems silly that I even ran errands during that time as Brandon would have gladly done them, but I remember wanting to get things done, wanting to work back my independence, and wanting to prepare myself for when Brandon went back to work. It was just going to be a matter of time before I’d have to do it all on my own anyway.  

Part Three to contain: The tincture of time

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Baby Aftermath, Part One

I'm tempted to write a little Juggalo 101 so you can all understand Brandon's last post...but I'm not really in the mood.  Just know that Juggalos are groupies to the band Insane Clown Posse (ICP) and we laugh, groan, and even lament that whole subculture a lot in this house.

But instead, I'm feeling the need to gather some thoughts about some of my postpartum experiences and thought I would do it here since many have asked me questions about it.  I’m going to divide this post up to make it more bearable and not so long. I’ve already written everything so you don’t have to worry about me saying ‘more on this later’ and then never getting back to the topic. I’m the queen of that sort of thing. I’m also going to try to make this fairly benign…I’m not going to mention the word uterus, vagina, dilation, placenta, etc anywhere except for in this very sentence.  And that’s not because I’m too squeamish to do so but because a.) my husband has heard those words way too many times in the past year and I’m going to spare him and because b.) this is a postpartum story, not a birth story. So here we go…  

Part One

Childbirth is a really crazy thing.  I'd go through it again in a heartbeat.  And yet, I've been surprised on the toll it took on my body.  The main thing that happened--the thing that totally caught me off guard, was that my lower back, hips, and pelvis took a pretty serious beating. I'm fairly sure it all happened during the delivery process although some of the reading I've done suggests that certain hormones (relaxin and progesterone) were probably doing some of it throughout the pregnancy.  

The process of laboring that little baby was a long one...from the time my water broke to the time he was born was about 37 hours.  The final 4 were the most dramatic, with the final 2 ½ being the most physically intensive. Needless to say, everyone was exhausted by the time Russell made it. After the commotion of his arrival had quelled, our new little family was transferred to our recovery room and we finally got the opportunity to rest. Brandon had the nurses take our baby to the nursery so we could get a few hours of much needed sleep. I slept for 2-3 hours and woke to the most excruciating pain. At first I could not tell what was what...where was I feeling the pain?  Was it pain or just the sensation of the epidural wearing off?  Was supposed to be feeling this way?  I had, after all, just delivered an 8lb 10z baby.   

I still don't know how much of what I was feeling was normal, but I was in pain and it was both awful and scary. I couldn't sit up, move my legs, switch positions in bed, let alone get out of bed without yelping in pain.  My hips were sawing into my muscles and my tail bone was stabbing felt as if I was a dried out tree branch and any sort of movement would potentially snap off my limbs. Getting out of bed was a nightmare; the nurse and Brandon moved me because I couldn't do it myself.  Shifting my weight made me cry out in pain and I was terrified of moving because I knew all subsequent movement would bring agony.  The anticipation of pain was almost as bad as the pain itself. When finally standing, I couldn't support myself and again needed the nurse, Brandon, and sometimes even a medical assistant, to help me.  

Getting to the bathroom was quite the challenge. For a normal person, it was about five steps away. For me, it was about a 15 minute team effort. In the bathroom, I couldn't even sit on the toilet...I had never been so helpless.  Getting back into bed and getting comfortable again was another team effort.  I think I swore, screamed, whimpered, cried, and then begged for pain medicine.  I didn't do any of that during the actual birth...I postponed the epidural for as long as possible, shed only a few tears, and kept pretty good composure during those long hours.  But this, this was something else.     

That intense level of discomfort continued for about another 48 hours.  It took a while for people to understand that the pain wasn't coming from my lady part areas but was instead in my lower back and hips. We finally got into a routine of pain medication--rotating between the maximum doses of Percocet and ibuprofen. The meds made the pain somewhat manageable, but I still couldn't get in and out of bed or go to the bathroom by myself, and definitely noticed when I was due for another dose.  Walking around our little room took all my effort--sometimes even to the point of getting dizzy and almost fainting--but the nurses wanted me to do it periodically to help the recovery process.  I dreaded getting out of bed and would postpone it for as long as possible, which then created its own set of problems, as I couldn't manage the pain and hold my bladder at the same was humiliating.  I remember tears just streaming down my face on multiple times because everything was just so hard.      

Part Two to Contain: Figuring out the pain and going home