We go to the hospital: Friday 9/28

Now, who wants to hear the birth story?

As previously stated, the little oyster made her appearance on September 29. For anyone who was counting, she was due three days prior to that. Protein in my pee and excessive swelling in my feet the week she was due sent me first to the lab and then back to the ob’s office on Friday the 28th. At our 9 am appointment, my ob said the lab results were cause for concern, she had called the hospital and told them to expect us, and we could go over anytime in the late afternoon–they were quite busy that morning–to be induced. Oyster time.

Having been given the gift of time, the husband and I went out to lunch, got the husband a haircut, dropped Dietrich off at his sitter’s house, stopped by Barnes and Noble for some light hospital reading material*, and hit the road to have a baby. Our afternoon of laid-back preparation was the last time we controlled anything in the next 72 hours.

5:00 pm
Check in at the hospital was a breeze (note to expectant parents: pre-register at your hospital, if that’s an option) and we got to skip triage and go right to labor and delivery. We signed in at the desk and sat, giddy, in the plastic-upholstered chairs until the merry check-in nurse said, “Come with me, my children,” and led us to a lovely private L&D room. The husband immediately changed into his slippers (“I’m going to tell every new dad to take slippers to the hospital for delivery–this is great!”) while the merry check-in nurse fluffed my pillows and handed me a hospital gown and plastic bag for my own clothes. When I emerged from the bathroom in my standard-issue garb, the merry check-in nurse complimented me on my ability to put the gown on correctly–apparently too many people give free shows by putting the gowns on backwards–and tucked me into bed. I wiggled my feet into some hot pink socks the little sister had given me for post-Martha surgery and settled in.

On-duty ob 1: Hi!
Me: Hi!
On-duty ob 1: Dr. W (my ob) said you guys would be coming tonight. Ready to have a baby?
Me: Can I have dinner first?
The husband: Your body your choice, baby.
Me: Sorry, we make political jokes when we get nervous.
On-duty ob 1: Nice pink socks.
Me: Thanks. We bring the party with us.
On-duty ob 1: You guys are fun, I wish you had been here earlier.
Me: We heard there was no room in the inn earlier.
On-duty ob 1: That’s true, there wasn’t. Anyway, you can have dinner. Nothing but water or ice or popsicles after we start the Pitocin.
Me: Hokay.
The husband: Anything she should or shouldn’t have for dinner?
On-duty ob 1: No sushi, please. If we see it again, we prefer that we not see reincarnated raw fish.
The husband: Nice. Well, I’ll just dash downstairs in my trusty slippers and get some dinner for us.
On-duty ob 1: Nice.

6:00 pm
The husband and I split some pasta dish and a turkey sandwich for dinner. He was impressed with the food. I was distracted by the machine monitoring my contractions and those of the women in the rooms around me, all displayed on an eight-section screen next to my bed.

Somewhere in the middle of Apollo 13 and my first purple popsicle, Room 305 went into what I assume was active labor and began pushing. A smart woman preparing to have her own baby (not me) would have turned up the TV to drown out the horrifying screams of anguish but an idiot would mute the TV and stare at her husband in shock and awe. I don’t think I blinked for 9 minutes. Then the monitor for 305 shut off and we heard a baby crying. Holy cow.

7:00 pm
The nurse who was now taking care of me started the Pitocin drip and I was officially induced.

Me: How fast does this stuff work?
Nurse: That depends. We have you on a very slow drip right now.
Me: How slow?
Nurse: It’s on 4 right now.
Me: How high does it go?
Nurse: Up to 30.
Me: Ah, ok. Are those air bubbles going to get in my bloodstream and kill me?
Nurse: No. If there’s too much air in the line, an alarm goes off.
Me: Hmm. They are getting closer to my veins and making me nervous.
Nurse: Do you want me to reset the IV?
Me: Yes, please. Hurry, they’re getting closer!
Nurse: They really won’t kill you. Those are small bubbles.
Me: Still.

The nurse detached the Pitocin line, tapped all the tiny air bubbles out of it, and plugged me back in. So far the worst pain I was in came from the IV placed in the back of my left hand. The nurse who placed it had come in, introduced herself, stuck a needle in my hand and taped it down, and I never saw her again. It really did hurt and I wasn’t going to risk dying of air bubbles while my whole left arm throbbed in pain.

And so the evening went on. I wasn’t uncomfortable and it was actually kind of fun to watch my contractions register on the monitor. It was even more fun to watch other women’s. The little oyster was on constant monitoring because I was being induced and she was doing great. The husband and I chatted, watched Apollo 13 again (which, interestingly, I had been wanting to watch for probably four weeks, for no apparent reason), and napped as we could until about 1 am when I decided the cramps-that-were-actually-contractions were only getting worse, I was starting to feel nauseous, and it was time for an epidural.

But we’ll talk about that tomorrow.

* I chose the latest Real Simple and a copy of J.K. Rowling’s new book, The Casual Vacancy, which I returned for a full refund on our first non-medical trip out of the house. To my immense dismay, I found the book crude, rude, and not at all entertaining. I appreciated Rowling making that clear from the start, so that I didn’t have to read half the book to confirm my initial impression that the book was not worth my time. Consider this a review thereof.

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The Frugal Oyster Budget Tally #2

Today is not only the Papa’s birthday (happy 60th, Dad!), it is the day to update the Frugal Oyster Budget Tally.

The bet still stands as follows:

The bet is that we can come in at or under my self-imposed dollar amount, without sacrificing safety or comfort of baby or parents, when calculating everything spent by us on the little oyster from conception to the first birthday. This includes all furniture, baby and maternity clothes, toys, vitamins and toiletries, and equipment, everything included in the “average” budget. This excludes insurance costs when the baby is added to the policy and the cost of the food I eat if nursing, which are also not included in the “average” budget. I will save receipts, round to the nearest dollar, and keep a running total on the blog.

The amount to meet or beat is $2,700.

In this, our fifth month of tracking baby-related expenses contributing to our abbreviated version of the average baby budget, it was a quiet month and the numbers are thus:

The Frugal Oyster Budget Tally #2

May 17, 2012

Next update: June 17, 2012

Maternity clothes:

Gifts:

Borrowed:

Still usable from current closet: Some yoga pants, cardigans and open sweaters, some V-neck cotton t-shirts, some short dresses

Total: $0

Baby toys and books:

Gifts:

Total: $0

Baby clothes: The Lorax onesie, Target, clearance: $3
Navy blue cotton skirt, Target, clearance: $3

Gifts: Onesie with our alma mater’s name

Total: $6

Baby essentials:

Gifts:

Total: $0

Other: Vintage freestanding giraffe clothing rack, wood, antique store in Pennsylvania: $45
Bringing up Bebe book, Barnes and Noble: $21
Smart Mama Smart Money book, Barnes and Noble: $11

Gifts:

Total: $77

Running total for complete baby budget challenge: $412

Balance remaining in budget: $2,288

Percent of budget used: 15%

Months into challenge: 5

Months remaining in challenge: 16

Parlez-vous parenthood?

A few months ago, right after the husband and I found out the oyster is in the oven, we both found and read this article separately, then sent it to one another.

Why French Parents Are Superior

While Americans fret over modern parenthood, the French are raising happy, well-behaved children without all the anxiety. Pamela Druckerman on the Gallic secrets for avoiding tantrums, teaching patience and saying ‘non’ with authority. (WSJ, Feb. 4, 2012)

Although the title is misleading (that French parents are superior is not the author’s argument), the article was fascinating and on a date this week to Barnes and Noble, I stumbled across the book from which the article was adapted, Bringing up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman, and bought it.

The book’s subtitle, One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting, is far more representative of the author’s point and the book is fascinating and useful, particularly to someone who struggles with doing things simply because everyone else is doing them or “that’s just how it is.”

Bedtime story for maman.

Before the siren call of politics lured him away, the husband was a teacher. Thanks largely to his experience attending home school, public school, community college, then private college, and then teaching in public, public charter, and an alternative school or two, his view of education was and is remarkably holistic. Students are unique, individual human beings and treating them first as growing people with different needs and gifts and second as students with test scores is far more beneficial to the person, the student, the class, and society. (Try telling that to the unions.)

This holistic thinking, plus a strong libertarian streak in both of us, has shaped a lot of our early parenting decisions and is a worldview we expect to raise our kids in. Whether or not they adopt it is up to them (see? libertarian) but we will be parenting, building a family, and modeling a marriage that reflect a Biblical and balanced environment for developing.

Kids need boundaries, and we will set them, but they won’t be arbitrary and they won’t be insulated in themselves, they will be intended to set the child up for a healthy, balanced role in the family and in other relationships. From the WSJ article:

“Middle-class French parents (I didn’t follow the very rich or poor) have values that look familiar to me. They are zealous about talking to their kids, showing them nature and reading them lots of books. They take them to tennis lessons, painting classes and interactive science museums.

Yet the French have managed to be involved with their families without becoming obsessive. They assume that even good parents aren’t at the constant service of their children, and that there is no need to feel guilty about this. “For me, the evenings are for the parents,” one Parisian mother told me. “My daughter can be with us if she wants, but it’s adult time.” French parents want their kids to be stimulated, but not all the time. While some American toddlers are getting Mandarin tutors and preliteracy training, French kids are—by design—toddling around by themselves.”

The first two lines of the second paragraph are something of a thesis, for the book and for the kind parenting we want to do.

Yet the French have managed to be involved with their families without becoming obsessive. They assume that even good parents aren’t at the constant service of their children, and that there is no need to feel guilty about this.

The little oyster is a gift, a gift the size of my hand at the moment, and we love it. We want what is best for it and we believe that what is best for it is not allowing it to be the boss in the family, explicitly or implicitly.

Of course it will have needs that need to be addressed before our own for a few weeks and of course it will have more and different needs than we have for even months and years beyond that. But according to Druckerman’s observations, the sleep-deprived American parent, the mom-to-be who panics when she has fish for dinner, the parents who buy stock in the Baby Einstein kingdom so their kids get a leg up (on what?) are largely doing it to themselves. Being peers with these parents, I think she’s on to something.

If my generation was serious about giving decisions a good hard think, we wouldn’t carry credit card debt, we would provide solid marriages and futures for our children and we would vote. But my generation buys into a lot of crap, and over-stimulated, over-purchased, over-read and over-whelmed parenting is one of those things.

So count us out. Do the French have a corner on good parenting? Not necessarily, but if their kids are sleeping through the night at two months and maman et papa are enjoying one another, the family, and a glass of wine after le well-adjusted bebe is in bed, then I say there’s something worth emulating there.

Maybe it’s not French parenting, but it’s thoughtful, holistic parenting for sure, which they happen to do across the (middle-class) board in France. And that’s what we’re after.