the potty diaries

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We’ve been having some..struggles…getting Zo to change her diaper. Most days we’re fine. She cooperates.  No blood is drawn.

Tonight, however….

Tonight she was all piss and vinegar (heh), flopping facedown so I couldn’t easily get the diaper off, shrieking like I was performing major surgery without anesthesia. After I finally wrassled it off her, I realized the cloth insert was bone dry…despite having been worn for well over an hour.

“Uh.” I squinted at my scowling daughter. “Big girl potty?”

“!!!!!” she said, and jumped up. Off we went to the bathroom. Onto the potty she went. I sat down across from her.

“Go potty, baby,” I said, and she gave me an exasperated Look. “Pssssss,” I said, making what I thought was a helpful sound. Another Look, saying, Back Off, Mom. I’m WORKING ON IT.

(My toddler can’t roll her eyes. But if she could, I’d have gotten such an eye-rolling.)

And whaddya know? I heard the music every parent wants to hear: tinkletinkletinkle in the potty.

She seemed pretty cool about the whole thing, but this maaaaay be an indicator that she’s becoming aware that there’s a connection between wet pants and her bladder. Who knows! She’s shown potty enthusiasm before, only to drift away when it stopped being fun.

Anyway, she got lots of applause and cheers tonight…then promptly tried to run off without wiping.

Ah well. One battle at a time.

Waiting for Zoe

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At some point on Sunday, when we were still in a holding pattern, I opened my mouth and said with a complete lack of irony that we were “waiting for Zoe”.

It took four days to “get” Zoe, and during that time I spent many hours in the NICU feeding, holding, and getting comfortable with her. I held her as much as the IVs and the blue light therapy windows let me. Toward the end I made a point of showing up for every feeding with at least some pumped colostrum or breast milk, because I knew in my bones it would help.  At first it was only 3ml, then it was 10ml, and toward the end I had a full ounce. Getting her away from formula was one of the tangible, helpful things that I knew only I could do, and so I did it.

Waiting would have been harder if I’d been less exhausted; as it was, my own fatigue kept me in and out of consciousness for the first part of the hospital stay. From Saturday night to Monday afternoon, I didn’t eat — wasn’t allowed to — and I didn’t walk until Monday evening. Sleep came fitfully. I didn’t want sleep. I wanted my daughter.

The L&D nurses were incredibly kind. I’m sure it’s fair to say they’ve seen all this before and will see it all again and I wasn’t anything new to them. The NICU nurses blew me away with how confident they were with even the tiniest tiny baby, but of course they have to be. Even though people who see Zoe now say, “Oh, she’s so little!” — compared to some of the babies in the NICU, she looks like a linebacker. She was the biggest baby in the NICU at that time, and she was six pounds, three ounces when we took her home.

I made it clear to the NICU nurses that I’d never held a newborn before (I really haven’t, aside from very brief moments with my friend’s children), that I felt awkward and uncertain, and they quickly swooped in to help. It’s fair to say that most of the confidence I have now with handling Zoe comes from the hours I spent there, with several extremely capable women holding my hand and showing me how it’s done.

For all that, I also found the NICU frustrating. At times it seemed like there was no good reason for Zoe to be there, and toward the end an error in her chart (“apnea” — it was intended for another infant’s chart) almost kept her there another night, compounding the sense that this was a formality, not a necessity. The initial reason — her glucose levels — resolved in less than 10 hours. The extended reason — a blood culture that took 48 hours — turned out to be nothing.

So in the end, my daughter was in the NICU for no truly good reason other than a doctor decided she should be there. I know this is just how hospitals work, especially in the case of little, little babies. Take no chances. I wouldn’t want them to risk my daughter’s health just because I’m obstinate and a bit impatient.

It’s still incredibly frustrating. When I see the fading blood pricks on my daughter’s heels, or the remnants of tape around her ankles, I’m reminded that we spent our first 24 hours apart….

…and then I make up for it by holding her as much as possible. It’s all I can do.

We’ve stopped waiting. We are home and safe. The hospital did its job.

Now it’s time for me to do mine.

Zoe’s First Story, part 2

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Here is the thing about miscarriage: it strips away confidence.

All the optimism, all the nonchalance I breezed into my first pregnancy with got completely blown out of the water by that loss. So when the second pregnancy happened, and happened so quickly, I spent nine weeks with a mixture of disbelief and dread.  I just didn’t want to go through that heartbreak again.

And even though I knew better, I found myself questioning how “real” this one was.  Did I have enough symptoms?  I didn’t, I couldn’t, I wasn’t nauseous or tired enough.  I didn’t “feel” pregnant.  I felt like I was holding my breath, expecting it to go wrong.  Mike and I agreed not to tell anyone this time, though we did reveal it to our parents.  We pinky-swore them to secrecy.  I had a bit of gallows humor about the whole thing, though I did continue to take vitamins and eat “right”, as defined by me.

I slept poorly the night before my nine week appointment.  Anxiety had me waking up three times.  When we got there, the CNM didn’t spend much time asking questions — she knew I’d had a miscarriage two months before, so we got straight to business.

We started with the fetal doppler to try and listen for a heartbeat.  Not the CNM’s idea, but she was interning a woman that day, and the intern wanted to try.  Nothing.  The head midwife brushed this off — too early, she said.  Then the ultrasound gel got applied, and the monitor came up, and —

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Zoe’s First Story, part 1

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Our lives are a series of stories, some short, some long, some with epic arcs, but mostly vignettes connected with a common theme: our selves.

Zoe’s first story began with an ending: the miscarriage of my first pregnancy.  This will probably be the only time I talk about it because, truth be told, I talked about it enough when it happened and at this point it just feels gratuitous.  Also: it’s done.

But I also don’t like pretending it didn’t happen; that doesn’t seem fair to the kid-who-could-have-been, even if it never grew enough to have eyes or a heart or a voice.

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