Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Baby Talk

I’d always heard that giving birth is beautiful.  I grew up in Berkeley in the early 80’s, so most of my friends were born either at home or in the back of their parents’ VW bus while the “midwife” was smoking a joint and an Indian drum circle was chanting to welcome the new soul into the world (not surprisingly, I had a disproportionate number of friends named Willow, Forest and Rainbow).  When we studied reproduction in science class, the section on birth mostly involved watching the movie The Miracle of Life, where a lady with a full 70’s bush has two seconds of labor and then, voila, out pops a baby!  Apparently in real life, labor is not quite so cinematic.  In fact, from what I’ve heard, it sounds downright terrifying.

Apparently I’ve reached that stage in life where telling everyone you know the harrowing story about the birth of your offspring is considered acceptable dinner party conversation.  In the past week I’ve heard stories of 36-hour labors, cesareans gone wrong, insensitive obstetricians, and fainting Husbands; you name it I’ve heard about it.  Usually while I was trying to enjoy a delicious steak. 

I don’t mean to sound insensitive.  I think it’s amazing that my friends have brought children into the world and are somehow managing to raise them without going completely insane and without prescription drugs.  However, I’m not sure I’ll be able to look at these women again without picturing a crime scene in their nether regions.  Thanks to my friend Leslie, I’ve now seen the video of the birth of her son; all 27 hours of it.  Let me tell you, I haven’t had such horrible nightmares after seeing a movie since the first time I saw The Shining.

Despite my squeamishness about the realities of birth, I think that hearing other women’s birth stories is helpful.  I didn’t necessarily need to hear all the gory details of Janice’s episiotomy, but at least now I know what that word means (Google it – just be sure not to click “images”.  *shudder*).  I do hope to have my own child someday, so I feel thankful to my friends for warning me of what giving birth really involves.  Sure, making babies may be fun, but it’s all down hill from there.  I’ve also learned a really humbling lesson about myself: I may be a Berkeley hippie at heart, but when it comes to giving birth, I’m pretty sure that when the day finally arrives I’ll be screaming for the epidural.  However, if you happen to know of any drum circles willing to work at Cedars Sinai, please send them my way.  

Friday, April 6, 2012

In Sickness & in Hell

For the past week I have been playing nursemaid. I know that all five of the men who read this blog have fantasies of me in a sexy nurse costume, but I can assure you nothing quite so cute was going on at Casa Lane. Picture, if you will, me, un-showered and dressed in dirty sweatpants, trying to lift my 190 pound husband out of bed and help him to the bathroom. Yeah, pretty sexy, right? For five days straight I have run up and down the stairs carrying ice packs, hot tea, and doses of prescription painkillers that could tranquilize an elephant.

I do not consider myself the caregiver type. Sure, I’m a loving and caring person, but I don’t normally excel at activities that do not have me at the center of them. Putting my needs last in order to take care of someone else… not my forté. Knowing this about myself, I married a guy who is older than me, a tough manly-man, and likes to take care of people. It’s the perfect match! In fact, for the past five and half years that we’ve been married, I’ve been the one who needed to be taken care of, through bouts of pneumonia, a miscarriage, depression; you name it, I’ve probably thought I had it. My Husband, Chris, is great at taking care of me. He’s sweet and loving, he brings me flowers and donuts from Babycakes, and he rubs my head while I moan and complain. But even though Chris likes to act super human, he is fallible, and after suffering with crippling pain for over a year, he finally had to have surgery. Which meant he would be flat on his back and unable to do much for himself and I would really have to live up to those “in sickness and in health” vows I took.

While I may not have tons of experience in the nursing department, I decided to tackle my task head on. In the week leading up to surgery day, I made lists, read articles in medical journals about proper post-surgery care, and I cleaned the house from corner to corner to ensure that there would be no possible causes of infection lurking behind the refrigerator (I don’t know why I thought Chris would be sleeping behind the refrigerator, but I digress). I even went to Whole Foods and stocked the kitchen with every kind of delicious healthy food imaginable and I made blueberry muffins for Chris to enjoy after he got home from the hospital (unfortunately, they were terrible and I had to throw them out. Hence the reason my version of “cooking” is ordering delivery). I was ready to be the perfect, care giving wife.
The surgery went fine, and after just a few hours, we were dispatched for home bearing multiple prescriptions, an ice pack, and instructions to call 911 if Chris started to bleed heavily. I managed to get us home without my driving making him carsick (no small feat) and I carefully half-dragged Chris upstairs to our bedroom. Everything seemed to be going perfectly. I brought him lunch on one of our fancy bed trays that we got as a wedding gift, he took a nap, watched a movie, and then it was time to change his bandage. I should mention that the reason I did not become a doctor, in addition to the fact that I flunked most of my science courses, is because the sight of blood makes me ill. On the rare occasion that I’m forced to give blood I have a panic attack, then I cry uncontrollably, and I usually finish off the experience by either passing out or vomiting. I’m the patient for whom they have all those smelling salt tubes taped around the doctor’s office. Cut to three days ago: Chris is sitting on the toilet in our bathroom and I’m staring at a three-inch long incision covered in dried blood that I’m expected to clean and bandage. And that’s the point at which I fainted dead away, in the process clocking my forehead on the sink and falling into the bathtub. Since Chris couldn’t move without my assistance, and he certainly couldn’t bend over, he was totally powerless to help me. Apparently I lay there for a few minutes before finally coming to wherein I heard him yelling my name and telling me to wake up. My head hurt like the dickens and I was seeing stars, but I was not going to be defeated. I climbed out of the tub, borrowed my husband’s ice pack for the giant bump rapidly swelling on my forehead, and I got down to business. I took a deep breath, gritted my teeth and bandaged that wound like a pro.

While I may never be awarded the “caretaker of the year” medal, I feel that I made a decent showing. My Husband told me I did a great job, and while I know he’s lying, I still appreciate the sentiment. I am definitely more comfortable, and better, at being the center of attention, but I love my Husband like crazy which means sometimes I’m going to have to do things I’m not very good at. I just hope the next time I have to play Nurse Nancy it’s for something that doesn’t involve blood.

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