Monday, October 31, 2011

The Waiting is the Hardest Part?

Joaquin was born on 11/6/09, which was 12 days before his estimated due date (11/18/09). I was just over 38 weeks pregnant, and I went into pre-labor on a Wednesday.

Tuesday was my last official day in the office and we were having network testing for a pilot called THE QUICKENING. The actors testing for the lead roles were all a little thrown to see a very pregnant woman sitting in the room with them and I think many worried I would go into labor during their auditions. Fortunately, or unfortunately, no one's performance was earth-shattering enough that it brought on labor, but we did find people to cast.

The next day I had a meeting in the morning with one of the actors from THE CLEANER, the Benjamin Bratt show I worked on that only went two seasons on A&E. We met at one of my favorite places, The Alcove in Los Feliz, because I'd be working from home that day and wanted to stay on the east side. He had some show ideas he wanted to pitch me so so it made sense to take the meeting on that side of town.

Then I went downtown to meet Kiko for lunch. All the while, I was having contractions, but nothing major. They ranged from being normal Braxton Hicks to being mildly uncomfortable. Still, as a first time mom, I felt like labor was imminent.

That evening, I passed my mucus plug. Yuck! I wasn't prepared for that and freaked out a little when I saw it. Fortunately, our house keeper, Jorgelina was home, and she (a mom to 2 kids herself) reassured me that everything was normal. Now, I was convinced the baby was coming any minute and Kiko needed to get home. (I am strategically leaving out more details of this story for gross-ness purposes...)

That night, we went to bed, feeling anxious and excited, only for me to wake up just before midnight with more consistent contractions. These were the real things, I just new it, so we started timing them. They were ranging from coming between 4 and 7 minutes apart (strange for these early contractions, I know now) and NOW I really knew, the baby was on his way. We remembered from our birthing class that we should try to do something to distract myself in the early stages, so as not to run through our bag of tricks too fast. We watched FATHER OF THE BRIDE 2 on the TV and Kiko eventually feel asleep, but I stayed up all night, not able to ignore the excitement that our baby would soon be here.

At 6 am I called the doctor, who told me I could either come to the hospital to get checked or just wait till my 10 am appointment. I decided to try to wait it out for the office appointment, which gave me more time to clean the house and take care of last minute things. We went on a mad cleaning spree, because my brother and sister-in-law would be coming over to stay with the dogs over night. I needed the sheets to be cleaned, the floors had to be mopped and vacuumed. It was a sudden obsession. We left the house, saying a dramatic goodbye to the dogs and telling them "next time we see you, we'll have a new baby with us." Hospital bags in toe, we left the house.

Well, we were wrong. At the doctor, I was barely 2 cm dilated and she sent me home. I was so disappointed and also completely exhausted. She urged me to rest, which of course was impossible. I waited out the day at home with Kiko, trying to get stuff done and trying to relax, all the while feeling discouraged about when the baby would finally come. How will I know when it's the real thing?

That night, we kept our plans to take Matt & El to see a live taping of the NPR show "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me," mainly because our doula urged us to stay busy and keep my mind off things. We had dinner at Islands and I enjoyed a chocolate milkshake. My brother teased that we needed to call the radio show "Wait Wait, Don't Have Me," since I was having contractions throughout the performance. I think there was a part of me that truly believed Peter Sagal would be delivering my child. It didn't happen.

We went home after a fun night, and Kiko immediately passed out in the bed, exhausted from our "false alarms" the night before...I knew sleep was what I needed, too. If only I could force myself to fall asleep...

I lay on the couch, listening to my Hypno-birth tracks on my ipod, trying to relax and get in the zone, and the contractions kept coming.

Eventually, I started to cry, mainly because of exhaustion, but also because the intensity of the pressure started to really pick up. Not wanting to wake up Kiko, I kept to myself, but the tears kept coming. Eventually, I didn't know what to do and I worried that if I told him "this was it," he would not believe me after our previous experiences....I cried louder, convinced he would have to hear me and he would come to the den to rescue me. No dice.

I slowly walked into our room, leaned over the bed, and called "Kiko, Kiko..." He finally awoke, and rallied quickly to be an amazing support system, and yes, this was the real thing...

A little after midnight, our back-up doula, Joni, arrived at the house. We had never met until that night, but she assured me after going through one contraction together, we'd be like sisters...She wasn't wrong.
(Our original doula and my dear friend, Amy, contracted the swine flu and wasn't able to come near me or within a mile of the hospital, so she hooked us up with Joni.) I was initially skeptical of meeting someone new at this intimate moment in our lives, but Kiko texted her and insisted we get the help. I am so glad she was there.

We labored at home until about 8:00 am, at which time we all felt my contractions were coming fast enough that we could go to the hospital...well, it wasn't until about 5:40 that evening that Joaquin Porter Ochoa was born, so after about 19 hours of active labor, we had our little miracle.

Some day I'll write about the rest of the birth story, but for now what I am fixated on is this waiting...this pre-labor that can last weeks, days, or hours, depending on the individual. I find myself clinging to my experience with Joaquin's birth, replaying the events in my mind like a broken record, trying to remember the magnitude of every early contraction and all the other things my body was doing in preparation for his birth.

I reflect back to this because it is what I know, and there are so many unknowns in childbirth. My rational mind is trying to tell a logical pattern I can follow to help me know how this next birth is going to go. The thing is this - every birth is different and every baby is different. Though I had one type of experience with Joaquin, this one with #2 is already unique and different and I am realizing that no matter how much I try to get ahead of what my body is doing and to guess when she's going to come, it's really not up to me. Other than trying every natural way to induce labor I have read about, I have to realize that all I can do is be patient and wait...

She will come when she is ready and I need to be ready and rested whenever she (and my body and the other pregnancy gods) decide it's time.

In the meantime, it's so hard to just chill and go about with my life. I feel like at any moment, my water will break and it will be a mad dash to the hospital. But that's not the case. Though I am excited and anxious, I know patience is what I need to practice. Besides, today is Halloween, and I am determined to go trick-or-treating with Joaquin. In fact, I'd be heart broken if I had to miss out on it so now I am pleading with her to stay inside just a little longer...

Our plan was to take Joaquin to Disneyland for trick-or-treating one of these nights the past few weeks, but we just couldn't bring ourselves to pay the additional money it cost for the extra Halloween event...

So today we will wait...and we will do our Halloween thing with the soon-to-be big brother, and what will be his last Halloween as an only child...

Now if I can only learn to relax and enjoy this pre-baby time and realize that being pregnant at this stage is still probably easier than having a newborn.

Amen to that! Happy Halloween. Wishing everyone lots of treats...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Day at the Beach

One of the many reasons I love living in Southern California is the ability to access the beach or mountains with a relatively short car trip. Last week, Joaquin, his auntie and I ventured to Santa Monica for a day of fun in the sun.

The weather was perfect, not too hot and not too overcast, and I had to keep reminding myself that it is mid-October and we are at the beach. Awesome!

I realized that Joaquin hasn't seen real waves since he was a smaller baby, so at first, the waves really startled him. If I would start to walk into the water, he would scream from the shore "Be careful, Mama!" or "Don't fall!" But by the end of our time there, he was gleefully cheering "I want to see more BIG waves!" Our other beach trips to Orange Beach, Alabama, Hawaii, and Marina del Rey all had calm, still tides so the crashing waves were a new thing to him.

Hopefully, we can squeeze in a few more fall beach days before baby sister arrives...