Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pediatrician Time

Most people don't appreciate the medical profession. Medical professionals make too much money, don't listen to their patients or talk down to them, any number of other bullshit excuses not to get a shot or perhaps doctors and the sickness that could possibly be discovered by their expertise simply scares them. I know several individuals who refuse to go to the doctor (then again these same people don't use banks so take it for what you will). Others love doctors, or at least it seems so, as they often spend their afternoons at a doctors or specialists office battling some uninteresting and most often insignificant ailment. But their ironically pristine or quite ill health doesn't prevent them from discussing at length each procedure and its most intimately disgusting details. Personally I stand in the middle as I don't mind doctors, shots, or coughing to the left as much as my inability to focus for more than 16 seconds as the nurse takes blood and I try not to pass out.

A pediatricians office doesn't seem as large as I remember from my former experience as a wee lad. The fragrance of grubby toys, worn books and weekly magazines remains eerily familiar save for the newly underlying savor of Purell. I shudder to think at all the germs that penetrate the foyer each day, and then there are the unhealthy tykes. I stand corrected, perhaps I should join my black brothers in their stereotypical repulsion of all places of medical practice. I would, if not for my own newborn who needs checkups, and vaccines, and generally has me at a high state of anxiety with each delicate cough or sternutation.

Quick disclosure: I was sick this week which is why this post was delayed and Sarah is now. We spend every five minutes checking the baby to see if she's sick. The miracle continues for now (as I jinx myself) (that was a double reverse jinx) (and this is the reverse triple jinx flipped to counter) (confused yet?)

At the ripe old age of four days Manya's 6lbs 7 oz pooping machine of a newborn was requested at the pediatricians. She had a small eye goo issue and the doctor wished to check on her. Taking a child out of the house for the first time in a car seat is nerve wracking enough but bringing her to a office littered with sick children is quite nerve wracking. We were ushered out of the waiting room into a solo waiting room while I expertly rocked the car seat away from all the curious vertically challenged individuals of viral activity. Of course the infant sanitary rooms were all occupied and we were ensconced to the bowels of a 'regular room'. Simply put, we were less than thrilled.

The room was hygienic and spotless and mostly all tidy except for a baby gnat. I know, how did a minute insect thwart an army of disinfectant sprays and bleach byproduct? How did it survive hundreds of diminutive children hands, mothers' evil eyes, and the nursing staffs scorn? How did I know it was a baby gnat? Well the bastard was microscopic, nimble as hell and a remarkably annoying nuisance. The Gilbert Gottfried of flying insects. For forty five minutes (yes who makes a four day old infant wait forty five minutes in a non-infant room) this brat of a bug covertly bombed, weaved and twirled around our heads until I lost my cool and quietly and discretely berated the receptionist into placing us into a recently unoccupied sanitary, infant room.

While waiting for the doctor to finish with her final patient (she apologized profusely as there apparently was an epidemic of annoying Jewish Baron Von Munchhausen's who brought their Yeshivas in for sick calls) we were fortunate enough to listen to a young child being tortured with the impending doom of a routine vaccination.

Doctor: Look how tall you are. How high can you jump?
D: Very nice. Can you show me your muscles.
Kid: [screaming] No no no!
Mom: But you're a big boy now.
K: I don't want to! No! I DON'T WANT TO!
M: Easy now.
K: You lied! I told you I didn't want to do this. This isn't fun.
M: It will all be over soon.
K: If I would have known I wouldn't have agreed to come today!
M: Hold still.
K: Owww Oww Oww!
D: Who's a brave boy.
K: You said it wasn't going to hurt.
D: Its over now.
K: I don't like you anymore.

Ah children. Oh hey, hi nurse, yes its good to see you too, I almost placed an order for take-out but yes I'll strip my baby and parade her through the hall to the weigh station so she can proceed to poop a combination of meconium and yellow mustard all over your mini-digital scale. Revenge: a dish best served in black tar and mustard diarrhea on a digital instrument sensitive enough to weigh even the smallest stool sample. Now please wash your hands before taking my child's height.

She's healthy, gaining weight and spits up a little if you are a doctor and accidentally push on her right after a feeding.

First trip outside the home. Frightening, check. Lengthy, check. Successful, check.

Baby Manya strikes a pose

Grandpa tries to eat a foot but monkey foot surprises with first attack


Friday, September 23, 2011

Such a Baby

Sorry for the delay between posts I've been a little busy with the research and purchasing of cloth diaper covers. I have now officially completely rounded out my stash (this is the third time I've said this btw). But I'm going to leave you all in suspense as I'll do a whole (or a few) posts on cloth diapering, pros, cons, why I'm doing it, ect. in the future. So that delayed me some, oh, and the baby has decided that after slowly transitioning into a 1 o'clock bedtime which was awesome for us, that the last two nights she wants to scream her bloody head off until 4-4:30 in the morning. Oh, not straight because then Sarah and I could work as a team to calm her down. No, steady unpleasantness would be too straight forward. Manya approaches her parents well being with a more subdued forms of torture; suspense, like an old Hitchcock film.

For the past two days Manya has been cranky. Normally she fusses a little, we walk around, bounce on the yoga ball and then ultimately send her to momma for the Melkys. Dad really has no power except as a large jungle gym who makes noises. Mom's Melkys is the true saving grace. The crankiness has revved up a little into a new discord. A high pitched screech that sounds similar to a Pterodactyl flying full speed into a F-16. There's little warning as such astounding decibels apparently can be generated with little to no air intake. She's a true miracle of science. I have my ears checked three to four times a day for leaking blood.

The screaming more often than not occurs during an important scene of a TV show (thank goodness for DVR it makes me feel bad for past generations) or during meal time (we do shifts in high anxiety, its hard to enjoy a meal when someone is yelling at you). All of this is fine and we take it in stride. We knew what we were getting ourselves into. Come 12:30 the real games begin. Manya fusses and cranks, and after the right combo of babying and rocking and singing she's fast asleep. Into the bassinet or onto my chest for a quick nap to make sure she's sound asleep. The lights drop, music is muted, dog into the corner and the family settles in for some much needed rest. Just as we dip into mindlessness, two kicks, a back bend and the high pitched scream. Repeat over, and over, and over, and over. But I'm awake now and I'm sure tonight will be better [face palm].

Manya is such a baby. She can't speak. Not a word. And she has no idea what I'm saying. At all.
Which is great because I can still curse without feeling too bad about it. I figure I've got a few more months till I really have to watch what I say. I practice around other children who have the ability to comprehend my more colorful vernacular. But don't let this lead you to believe that Manya and I don't talk. We talk constantly. I explain the nuisances of life, music and the arts and she makes some of the most insane hilarious noises of all time.

Manya is a noise machine. She's best after eating and releasing an impossibly gigantic bowel moment (of equal force and volume). This Herculean effort leaves her especially comfortable and lively which in turn enables her to babble a plethora of phenomenal coos, waas, meeps and and array of indescribable sounds. Of course when I attempt to tape them she immediately stops and/or just grunts and breathes loudly.

I spent the last hour trying to get this video to work. It should but it's not. I'm leaving it up hoping Al Gore will come and fix it, if not, disregard the impossibly cute video of a baby girl making noises and wiggling her feet that for some odd reason will not work on 'blogger'.

I think it's amusing that babies are essentially similar to really loud adults who make noises ALL THE TIME. We like the little coos and giggles, are amused by the silly unique noises, and love the special moments. We are so entranced with the cuteness that we totally embrace and forgive the grossness. We cheer when my baby farts louder than I do, especially if she hasn't made a poopy in over 6 hours. This makes no sense! If I were to go to the bathroom at noon , if it turns 7 I know Jeopardy is on TV and I should start thinking about dinner. If Manya hasn't, we wait in heated anticipation, the suspense building with each hour, and when she makes a noise that sounds like a watermelon being crushed inside a trash compactor that's being sucked through Shop Vac I cheer like when Jeter tagged Jeremy Giambi on the ankle as he attempted to cross home.

A couple of days after we brought Manya home she was sleeping in her bassinet next to our bed. It was mostly dark outside, but there was just enough light slipping in through the edges of our black-out shades to see the outline of each piece of furniture in the room. I was half asleep as its impossible to fall into the abyss of a deep sleep after the hospital's nurses have spent the last 72 hours scaring the shit out of you about SIDS. Ever since I've started carrying and rocking a baby multiple hours a day my back hates me. Maybe there's a technique in never learned but I'm in a fair bit of pain a good deal of the day and anytime I stretch, I crack 4-7 vertebrae like its nothing. (That prob shouldn't happen should it) I was rolling around as I tend to do, attempting to make myself comfortable despite a locked lower back, arms that will fall asleep with the slightest pressure, and the slowly increasing quantity of light creeping into the room, when I hear the oddest sounds from the side of the room. It was a low gurgle with raspy undertones. An alien chuckle of an unusual distortion mixed with an airy bubbly oddity of sound.

Me: You hear that?
S: [half asleep] Yea.
Me: What's that sound?
S: [incoherent mumble]
Me: Baby drowning in milk?
S: A Gremlin is getting wet.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Proverbial Grand Slam Natural Disaster Style

Seldom does an individual experience regular natural disasters unless its the Apocolypse or you're one of the insane who place their residence directly on a fault line (looking at you San Francisco) or in the path of monster storms (Southern Florida), live far enough north that summer is barely a week is it snows forever (Buffalo and above), or just like dirt, college football, obesity and deadly twisters (Texas and Oklahoma). Manya was born in New Jersey a state whose closest natural disaster is Camden, yet despite all odds she had in her first week of life experienced as many natural disasters as I have in my 31 years.

While Manya was in utero, Jersey got slammed with three blizzards dropping upwards of three feet per 24 hours. Three times during the course of the winter New Jersey was blanketed with an excessive amount of wet, heavy and thick snow that shut down highways, ruined upper and lower backs and caused school sessions to continue almost into July. Days after her birth Virginia attempted to film their own Roland Emmerich film which resulted in a massive (for East Coast standards) earthquake that send rumbles up the coast and deep into the country as far as Chicago (or so they say). Days later the first hurricane to make land fall in New Jersey since 1903 created a State of Emergency from North Carolina to Vermont and filled our basement with water (yay newborns and flooded basements). At the same time the swirling winds of the outer storm was dropping tornadoes around us like we were Dorothy and her yippy black dog.

Four different natural disasters! It's amazing for history's sake, but she experienced all this within the first week of her life. She of course slept through each and every one, ignoring the lightning, thunder, gale force winds and crashing branches yet jumped with extreme fright every time I laughed at the array of summer comedy programming, but I digress. This baby's interpretation of fear and danger is entirely convoluted, as is her interpretation of sleep patterns and general common courtesies regarding bowel movements.

I'm beginning to notice that babies are pretty selfish in regards to possibly everything as it all seems to revolve around them. They do say you can't spoil a baby but if they're wrong, I'm sure I am as much to blame as is her mother as she really is quite relentlessly egocentric. For example, her cries if not tended to within moments transform from a quiet, one might say, incredibly cute 'cooing' to a rapidly increasing in frequency and decibel demanding squall. And it's not the stereotypical 'waa', oh no, we've decisively skipped all endearing pleasantries and moved directly onto the obviously egotistical 'meee!' She actually cries out 'ME!' just to make it abundantly clear who it is who a) runs the house and b) needs must be immediately attended to. This is not to say I don't immediately jump to her beck and call within nanoseconds but let me pretend for a moment that I haven't relinquish all my authority so quickly from second to third in the totem pole of power here on Duclos Lane. (at least I'm above the dog 60% of the time)

*And now I must leave my writing for the fifth time since starting this blog post to tend to the princess's needs (or perhaps just act as a throne as she wiggles, coos and cranks for no apparent reason). I'm back! Could have been six hours or fifteen minutes you'll never know.

Babies and sleep are like oil and water when you shake it up. Let me explain. Babies sleep all the time, but they formulate their sleep schedule in the exact opposite manner anyone would care for. Any time guests are over and you have a break, baby is sleeping. Any time you need to eat, shower, brush your teeth, get an important phone call, want to sleep, need to go to the bathroom, want to change your clothes, need to do laundry, check your email, or something interesting is on TV, baby is all eye balls. People always say to sleep when you can, if the baby naps, you should nap. Easier said then done. I'm not a good napper. In fact I fail at napping daily. But I'll watch her sleep and then day dream that it's 2 in the morning. They call it 'sleeping like a baby' for a reason. So peaceful, I couldn't sleep like that again in a thousand years.

1 to 3:30 is the witching hour aka the time I'd love to pass out and quite obviously the time Manya is totally wide awake. It's cute, me dancing around the kitchen in the pitch black, trying 14 agility moves to get her to calm down and after 15-20 minutes of silence due to gymnast style bouncing techniques I assume she's asleep. A quick shot of moon light and her eyes are shut, sweet innocent bliss. Deep breathing and quiet baby coos. Tippy-Toe to the bassinet. Small beam of moon light, wide open dark eye balls. Go to place her down, wait, eye balls? Shit. Repeat. Some would call it 'bonding time', it's also akin to 'workout time' as I do a variety of squats, lunges, leg presses, triceps extensions, shoulder lifts and bench presses with the newborn. My routine is often performed to music as Manya is a big fan of Classical especially Mozart and Beethoven as well as Bon Jovi (she's Jersey).

Going hand in hand with the comfort maneuvers is the old faithfull swaddling. There are 500 different blankets used for swaddling but our favorite is a soft pink swaddle specific blanket with four pieces of Velcro (which tear apart all clothes in the washing machine). The intended effect is to comfort Manya by strapping down her arms and legs ala a womb. Houdini escapes one mini-finger at a time 97% of the time. Personally I love the initial swaddle look as all babies essentially become a Burrito. Our Manya transforms into her alter-ego "Chipotle Mexican Manyaritto".

Relaxing after a diaper change

Best outfit - look at those shoes!

"Chipotle Mexican Manyaritto"

Thursday, September 15, 2011

2 1/2 days at St Peters

Manya was born at 12:50 AM. After childbirth, a mother is routinely given a stay of 2 midnights. Thanks to those 50 minutes we were able to stay Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. 51 minutes earlier and technically we'd only be able to stay Tuesday and Wednesday. Not that it mattered because we were officially about to enter the land of the zombies that I've been floating in and out of for the past four some odd weeks and couldn't tell you if it were Tuesday, Friday or Bastille Day.

After a baby is born the nurses like to put them under an egg heating lamp to make sure they're ready to survive in the world. I don't think it works very well as most newborns I've seen look subdued to say the least. Their eyes float around in their head moving in opposite directions, the head flops around as though being operated by a drunken puppeteer. Hell, horses stand within minutes of being born, and most amphibians are born fully functional, yet humans just lie there unable to roll over, screaming with frustration.

Apparently my child also wasn't a great fan of these tests. As soon as she was brought over to the heating table she sought out revenge against those who pulled her away from her warm, dark comfort. Three nurses set to work on cleaning her with towels (normally there's one but we had the SWAT team running point on this one) and she promptly projectile pooed across all three creating the most unusual scene as two nurses cleaned the baby while one nurse simultaneously cleaned baby and the other nurses. Clean, weighed, swaddled and fitted with a cute blue and pink gangsta do-rag (Jersey is weird I guess [see last pic from prior post]) there was a solid hour of momma-baby time and then I somehow found myself in the nursery to 'oversee' the baby's first bath and basic exam.

Besides the fact that I just brought my first child into the world, was dreadfully exhausted and my parents and brother were on the other side of a glass partition watching the two of us as if we were a zoo exhibit, some other new father had been wrangled into the nursery with his newborn as well. This 6'4, lanky, slightly awkward and totally alert young man was a talker. Now I have never claimed to be a decent small talker with acquaintances never mind strangers. I'm fine for 20-25 seconds and then my mind drifts into a plethora of strange thoughts, ideas and day dreams. Its difficult for me to focus at times especially when the adrenaline is leaving my blood stream and my vision is blurry from sleep deprivation. My head was probably bobbing like his newborn daughters but that didn't stop him.

One hour I was there. Trapped behind the glass wall with two screaming babies (Manya was perfectly content but his baby was angry at the world and apparently someone forgot their baby or was asking for a refund because there was a lone soul camped out in the corner, and s/he wasn't pleased with the lack of attention) and the talker. This mouthpiece just had his second girl, had wanted a boy, had refused the Vitamin K shot, was entirely against vaccines, drove to Pennsylvania to buy he family special whole milk from specific cows(WHA?!?), blah blah blah... yea I get it, you're all about being all-natural. And his wife is resting and coming down from her epidural because she loves the drugs during childbirth. Normally I wouldn't bat an eye but firstly, I didn't say a word (probably because I was focusing on maintaining my balance as chairs don't exist in the nursery and I would have paid $50 for a seat) and a man who is deathly afraid of vaccines and Vitamin K shots is perfectly okay with injecting his wife's spine with pain meds? (Excuse me?) Maybe I was dreaming but that sounds like a paradox to me.

For all the nonsense we had to deal with from the Labor and Delivery staff, the Nursery ward was phenomenal. They were helpful, considerate, supportive, positive and sensitive. We couldn't have asked for a better experience, just a little more sleep. Between the nurses and techs, specialists and visitors, never mind the newborn, there wasn't a sleep session that lasted longer than and hour and a half straight. Who really needs to take blood at 4:12 AM? All of it was done with the best intentions but the three days were more for observation than actual rest and recovery. My personal joy has been meticulously logging every feeding and bowel movement for the last four weeks with time and duration (no, not mine, I forget about those quickly and decisively).

Breastfeeding is always an adventure. Apparently many women have issues with breastfeeding. Despite thousands of years of women breastfeeding, they never tell/warn young women all the fun that comes with a newborn. Latch issues, soreness issues, injured nipples, consistency, milk supply, leakage, ect. Sarah didn't have many issues with breastfeeding but dear lord is that a lot of possibly extremely stressful variables that could and often do go wrong (to no fault of anyone). The stories, why are they only told AFTER the baby has been born, never mind the horror of the healing process of going from pregnant to birth to normal body again. Ah, life.

Hey lets hear it for newborns, all 6 lbs of them. And by 6 lbs I mean that's how much they poop and pee each day. Holy shit, 'here comes the poop' is right. Not only do they wait until you're changing them to spray (imagine if I was dealing with a boy) but the first 60-80 poops are meconium aka black tar that sticks to skin, cloth and everything else. To make matters worse, when it stops being that evil satanic sticky tar, its simply mustard seedy liquid that apparently has a max speed of 48 mph and can catapult over 6 feet with the strength to shoot off unfastened Size 1 diapers. I was tempted to call the Guinness people (the book not the beer) but for some reason I feel like god's practical joke is to make all baby's sphincters the strongest muscle in their body.

Additionally if you're not on top of the diaper changes every 20-30 seconds a newborn will fill their diaper so rapidly that it'll reach maximum absorbency and literally shoot green/yellow poop out of their diaper in a wave of pure madness. My good friend Josh termed the phrase "Poo-Na-Mi" (trademark pending) to describe the true disastrous implications of said tragic and unruly misfortune for all unfortunate parents. These Poo-Na-Mis are seldom quiet and always heart-stopping. The trepidation I feel when discovering that the latest explosion somehow engulfed my daughters onesie up to her throat and simultaneously filled her socks must be seen to fully comprehend. Simply put, she defeats physics once or twice a week.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Birthing Experience Part II


Sarah isn't the biggest fan of my driving. I'd like to think most people think of me as a reliable driver. I get from point A to point B in the time needed with no accidents and minimal road rage. I know she thinks I'm a talented driver with lots of skill, but Sarah hates bumps and despises driving over man holes and pot holes. We have two vehicles. A truck which although it's a beast, bounces a great deal with any bumps, and an Acura which has nice power but is made for short Asians (so we have issues getting in and out of the car) and its sporty so its made even lower to the ground making it not ideal for driving over road imperfections. That said our trip to the OBGYN during the tail end of traffic was not my favorite driving experience of all time.

Apparently Sarah's womb hate bumps more than her, and despite my enhanced sensitivity to locating and avoiding each and every hole, any change in altitude of the car causes our baby to kick and punch Sarah with such force that she transforms into a red faced drunken Irishman unleashing a phenomenal barrage of colorful epithets. (Note: turning on the radio when someone is yelling at you is no longer a smart idea) Additionally I had to track our doula (Jill) who was attempting to follow behind us in her SUV, but had issues maintaining focus on our vehicle in the 'sea of small white cars' that apparently travel down Riders Lane at 7:06 on Mondays.

Dr: Looks good. (bunch of gross details)
Sarah: Doesn't feel too great when I'm having contractions.
Dr: You're able to talk, that's a great sign.
Sarah: So what do you think?
Dr: You're 2-3 cm, contractions of a full minute, every 5 minutes for over an hour.
Me: (literally sitting in a closet half behind a curtain) on the ride over here there were every 3:30-4 minutes.
Dr: Well you could go to the hospital but you want to stay home for as long as possible, so stay there for another 2-3 hours and then I'll meet you at the hospital. Call me when your glasses come off and you are covered in sweat.
Sarah: hahaha, right.
Dr: You'll see.

Nurse: You're having contractions every five minutes and laughing?
Sarah: .....
Nurse: This is where most people are dying for pain meds.
Sarah: [In mid-contraction]
Me: Strong like bull.
Sarah: [Evil Eye]
Me: [Pulls curtain all the way across closet opening]


Back at the house Cojack is in full protective mode circling the house on the lookout for any robbers, mailmen or possible baby snatchers. Sarah, our doula Jill and I play musical chairs from room to room to make Sarah feel more comfortable. She goes from bouncing on yoga balls to walking stairs, sipping water to massage, rubbing rocks and coral, rocking on our glider and receiving counter pressure.

Jill gave Sarah some concoction of aroma therapy and within 10 minutes her contractions jumped in intensity and frequency. It was 8:45 and for the first time in five days Sarah looked like the contractions were actually taking hold of her. For the past 100 so odd hours each contraction was more of a nuisance than a breath stopper. Sarah actually joked several times that she was afraid if the contractions didn't get more intense then she wouldn't know when the baby was coming. At this point I don't think either of us worried about that anymore.

If Jill hadn't been there we would have left for the hospital by 10:00 but thanks to her experience, support, and understanding of the signals of a woman in labor we were able to stay much longer than I could comprehend. Not that I was thinking properly.

Labor takes you places you've never been before. Women talk about the meditative state they fall into, pulling strength from inner regions only tapped during deeply emotional and physical strain. Men up until a few years ago (well decades, but you know what I mean) weren't even allowed in the delivery room. Seeing a loved one in that state of unique discomfort is entirely foreign and surreal. Is there a way to help? To alleviate the pressure, to undo the exhaustion, to remove the initial spike of pain from each contraction. There's nothing. We're helpless. A total waste of space besides a few meager words of encouragement and some feeble lower back rubs which pathetically tire out our wrists and hands after twenty seconds anyway.

The lack of sleep the past few days was creeping on us both and I was a complete deer in headlights. The room was dimly lit and filled with loud breathing, the faint smell of sweat and the odd shadows of an anxious but supportive panting old dog. I took a shower (in 1-2 minutes) in an attempt to clear my head. Nope, everything was just as surreal as it was before.

Jill turns to me a whispers, "Ok David, it's time. Put the bags in the car and lets start moving to the hospital."

And I felt, relief. And then high anxiety.

Butterflies into my throat. A rush of adrenaline. Found myself moving in slow motion in circles. Jill walks Sarah to the car. The house is locked up. What now? Oh right, hospital genius.


I was so jittery, it felt like I was behind the wheel for the first time. It was like watching myself drive from behind my head. 3rd person. Don't crash! There's a pregnant woman in the passenger seat about to give birth. Don't crash! Why's everything blurry? Oh, windshield wipers, right, great invention. Better use those.




We got every single light through town and with two cars on the road we made it to the hospital just in time for Sarah's third contraction. The contractions were solid enough she didn't even mind if I drove over a bump in the road. I probably could have gotten away with a little off-roading and parked half on the curb.

The hospital 'valet service' we were told to expect had long since retired to their beds (I personally was dreading having to deal with a birthing wife and some 15 year old kid trying to park my car, luckily I didn't have to deal with either as Sarah was staring out the front window in meditative silence as we pulled up) and with an empty waiting room, all I had to deal with was the lone security guard. I flipped out of the car reverse Dukes of Hazard style and bounded into the lobby to retrieve one of seven semi-functioning wheelchairs while simultaneously failing to deflect all offers of help from our poorly shaven slug of a security officer.

With my new companion in tow the two of us half heartily attempted to coerce Sarah out of the car and into her new jalopy of a deathtrap/wheelchair only to discover that 70 second contractions occurring every two minutes don't give two fumbling fools very long to assist a pregnant woman into an awaiting two wheeled hoopty. Out of no where Jill appeared and six seconds later Sarah, her and a smoothly running wheelchair were through the glass doors and down the corridor.

At this point I realized despite my earlier shower I was soaked in sweat and had defeated my deodorant.


I parked the car without taking out any ones doors and shot a quick phone call to my parents updating them on the situation. My call awoke what sounded like Marianne Faithfull but claimed to be my mother and explained we arrived at St Peters and the baby would be born in about an hour.


Reception = Filling out all the paperwork I filled out during pre-registration and promptly mailed directly to St. Peters to avoid filling out paperwork at St. Peter's reception. I'm pretty sure they staff St. Peters administrative position with DMV personnel.


Welcome to Labor and Delivery where your room is not really set-up and although you're totally in labor and filled out a ton of forms already, lets ask you 1000 other irrelevant questions.
IE: Are you guys married? (does it matter?) Do you have a history of heart failure? Do you have a living will? ... Seriously? Right now? Wait, did you just ask us for the forth time if we have AIDS? Four times?


"You have a birth plan?" Yep.

The head nurse checked Sarah. "5 to 6 cms. You're no where close. Another 3 to 4 hours. You're still faced posterior. I'm telling your doctor to wait, we have time" We tried to explain that she was progressing and was almost ready and stopped being posterior two weeks prior and Sarah's family has a history of quick progressions and even faster pushing times and that we had already seen the doctor and he knew and that it didn't matter what we said because the nurse was a complete bitch who gave Sarah a nasty, painful, insensitive, obnoxious exam and didn't give a damn what we said because she was the nurse and always right.

Then, even though she knew our birth plan she asks, "Epidural?". Thanks woman but no, are you being serious? So she began setting up the IV. When I explained we weren't going to be using an IV she fled the room questioning our relationship with our doctor due to our birth plan.


So we were, alone.

In a hospital room.



Apparently waiting 3 to 4 hours to dilate to 10 cms.

Dilation as the main barometer for the duration of your labor is a crock of bullshit. Mark my words.

Jill hands me a flat yoga ball to pump. "Lets get her off this bed and moving". Sarah in obvious discomfort and totally besides herself due to the nursing staff rises to her feet. I take a seat on the green plastic sofa chair in the corner that a nice wear pattern informing me of exactly where to place my skinny butt and begin to pump.

Pump, sqwee, pump.

Sarah: Oh god it hurts!
Jill: You're doing great. Screaming won't help you. Low tones, counter the contraction.

Pump, sqwee, pump.

Sarah: I can't do this anymore!
Jill: Sarah, you're yelling.

Pump, pump, sqwee.

Sarah: [Colorful epithet] at an increased tone.
[Jill pushing nurses button]
Jill: Sarah, its not helping.

Pump, pump, [water breaking]

Sarah: Oh my god! Oh my god! Owww! I can't do this anymore!
[Jill pushing Nurses button]
Jill: Sarah you're almost there its almost over. David... get the nurses NOW!


Everything here becomes a bit of a blur.

I open the door to an empty hallway. Behind me Sarah screams FUCK! at the decibel level of an F-16 taking off. Every door on the floor flings open and over 15 nurses fly out and swarm into the room. A passing nurse snidely remarks, "that's what the call button is for". Oh really bitch, cause we weren't pushing that button and being ignored.

Five residents try to join the party excited to see a fully natural birth for the first time but we quickly send them on their way. As if 15 people weren't enough with my wife in the most vulnerable position of her life?

Normally I'd gather it takes 45 minutes to put the room together, get out all the equipment, lights, the egg warmer for the baby, ect. With the SWAT team, the room was fully functional for battle command in 3 minutes.

Sarah was put back up on the bed and was covered in sweat. "I need to push!" The nurses begged her to hold on claiming they had to check her. Jill, holding her hand simply stated, "If you need to push, hon, you push". The room nurse peeks, "10 cms she's ready". The head "3 to 4 hours" nurse pokes her head in, "Dr is on his way, 20 minutes out". The room nurse looks at Sarah, looks back to '3 to 4', "not gonna make it."


The room freezes. Every ones done setting up. Sarah is in position ready. Nurses are watching. I'm holding a leg.

No Doctor?

Now what?

Jill: Ok Sarah, push.

Sarah proceeds to do the most amazing pushing sound of all time, three times in a row, its all noise and face. It's spectacular. Until the nurse tells Sarah, push with your stomach.


Is that hair?


The head is out. The head is out! Wait, the head is out! Where's the doctor? Dr. Patel runs in with two gloves on and half a doctors gown flowing behind her.



Patel pulls out a healthy baby... no one says anything. I yell, "Its a girl!" Sarah looks down, smiles, looks at me and says,

"I just gave birth to your brother."

Well, not really, but Scharf babies do look similar.

The birth of your child is the most amazing personal experience. Its such an awesome joy to experience the birth of my daughter and the incredibly deep awe of watching my wife's will and determination through the process of natural childbirth. What I experienced through all nine/ten months especially the last ten hours was nothing short of astonishing. To have all the pain, all the anxiety, excitement and exhilaration culminate in quiet coos of our 6 lbs 12 oz Manya Lea Scharf is a joy that will never be matched.

To be continued in Part III

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Birthing Experience

Sarah's due date was Friday, August 12th.

No matter how many books and articles you read, classes you take, experiences you hear about, or hours of "TLC presents: random couples giving birth on national TV" you watch, you'll never be prepared for your child being born. So technically this entire blog post will be a complete waste of time to prepare any future parents for the experience. Thankfully I'm not qualified or prepared to teach birth, and none of you are using this blog as your educational preparation class. If you are, well done, you're a more brave soul than I.

Sarah had a very long labor. I have no idea what you're picturing in your head, but that's not what I experienced. Sarah started having contractions on a Thursday afternoon it made sense because she was due the following day. They were light and manageable and occurred every 20-30 minutes or so. Some people would say they were Braxton-Hicks, others contractions, whatever they were they started on Thursday, and remained exactly the same all throughout Friday. They didn't stop us from doing anything as we went to the mall to 'walk it out' but we had to stop often to rest and make sure nothing crazy happened (like a child being born in the back corner of Bat Mitzvah Dress Clearance Section of Nordstroms).

Saturday they picked up pace to 10 minute spacing and triple the intensity. We changed our activities from hiking from Macy's to Footlocker, to circling a four block radius of our house. I was going through the motions, our dog was ecstatic (no different than if we go for a car ride, see a park, eat a treat or go for a walk any other day), and Sarah was totally uncomfortable and frustrated.

Saturday turned into Sunday which turned into Monday. And the rain began. For those of you who don't know, water is my enemy. Our basement can take up to a certain amount of rain before it come in from several evil corners saturating our half finished basement and causing either $1000 worth of damage and/or taking up five days of my time of clean-up. I do not need to explain the anxiety I was feeling while calmly lying "no the basement looks fine. I know we've gotten 5 inches of rain in 48 hours. Yea we should be good". While praying with all my soul for no more rain.

So the contractions shortened to 7 minutes apart and we walked to speed up the process and move the baby even more into position. Everyone told us, walking will help speed up the process. "Speed up the process"? We were 'speeding up the process' since Thursday. That's, one, two, three, four, five days now and the amount of walking we were doing you'd like we were training for a 5k. Over a hundred hours of steadily increasing contractions, definitely never sped up anything. It did make Sarah feel better by taking the pressure away and allowing her body to slowly adjust though so it was worth it. What a sight we must have been wobbling through the rain with our 11 year old, 50 lbs. pit bull-something mix who even at his ripe old age, refuses to walk with us and needs to be pulling his leash and half choking himself at all times to remain 'pack leader' (which he totally is not) all the while stopping at every tree, car and bush to mark his territory with his three bladders of never ending urine.

At 5 o'clock in the afternoon Sarah's contractions reached 5 minutes apart for over an hour at a time. This is the point everyone normally high tails it for the hospital to begin the process of 'making everyone comfortable' for the birth of the child. We hoped to sweat it out in the familiar comfortable confines of our home for as long as possible and the shoot over to the hospital (literally less than two miles from our home) for the birth just as Sarah was transitioning over into the pushing phase. The ideal situation would enable Sarah to be 'comfortable' and in control of her birth process rather than inundated with the unfamiliar sterile and medical environment of the Labor and Delivery room in the hospital for a extended period of time. (again, in an ideal situation)

Our Doula was on the way and we were going to swing by our OBGYN just before he closed for the evening to get his opinion before hunkering down for the night ahead.

Coming soon... Part II

Friday, September 9, 2011

The long awaited first post

I have a lot of catching up to do. The past three odd weeks or so have been a whirlwind of insanity, joy, exhaustion, excitement. Night turns to day, morning to dusk. I have no idea which day is which and whether I'm sleeping or standing, eating or lost in my own house. Needless to say, although there have been a plethora of life altering events to write about, even during my most cognisant of moments, I have failed to begin this blog and opted for what seemed at the time to be the more rewarding choice of staring at the floor or trying to find the ever elusive 'second-wind'. (I also despite what they naysayers said, still watch a lot of bullshit TV) After numerous requests I finally washed my hands of poo for the 7,000 time and put finger to keyboard (side note: pen to paper sounds much more romantic than this technology speak). In all seriousness after procrastinating for no reason at all Sarah told me, "Are you going to start the blog? At this rate she's going to have her first birthday". So here it is. I don't promise poetry, editing, spelling, or skill. I'll try to report parenthood in the most subjective, uncensored, a dare I say, entertaining way I possibly can.

This was our trip to Point Pleasant when there were only two of us. Of course, technically there were three of us but we didn't need a car seat yet. As you can see Sarah never looked incredibly pregnant. At our Lamaze class Sarah was by far the smallest woman there, yes, most of the women in the class could be described in the politically correct terminology of, fat to obese and perhaps that's why they looked mostly like they increased their daily eating to 7000 calories, but we'll just say Sarah held her child high and to the back so she never really 'popped' the same way. We actually joked that she would 'pop' soon deep into the 8th month. We also were only one of two 'white' couples in the class (although according to the US Census Bureau and my college applications we're a white and Latino couple). It was a perfect demographic breakdown of New Jersey from black to Indian, Asian to Puerto Rican, there was even the teenage pregnancy, a single black mom and a random 6'5 Norwegian parents expecting twins. Stereotypical MTV casting crews would be proud. (No, no gay couple)

Life with the fetus was fun. It was an easy pregnancy, no morning sickness, no Braxton-Hicks, no real issues. Heart burn arrived daily and Sarah loved napping from week one to week 41 although her napping may be due to the fact that our fetus liked to kick, punch, headbutt and hiccup each night from 1-3:30 (note the time for future posts). We nicknamed our fetus Francios because only a Frenchmen could be that obnoxious. Actually weeks prior our Zygote was lovingly referred to as Ziggy the Zygote and only matured into Francios once the evening selfishness and daily minor violence began.

As most of you know I'm not a hippie. Sure we all have some hippie tendencies from time to time although now it just makes me anxious and edgy but with a new child on the way my hippie tendencies fell more toward the 'nature and natural' approach with life rather than horticulture (btw I wrote herbiculture first). In this particular example I'm talking about the BIRTH OF A CHILD. Kinda mind blowing. We were totally about doing it natural. Totally natural. No drugs, no help, no nothing. Just like people have been doing it for thousands of years, or if you believe in Adam and Eve, 5772 years, give or take. Our main qualm with the drugs was the negative effect of drugs on the baby. We wanted an alert newborn and as uncomplicated a birth as possible (although we were thoroughly aware complications happen all the time and each birth is different).

The problem is, I've never seen Sarah freak out from the pain of a child inside her and I had no idea how 'strong' I'd be once she had lost her mind from pain. I needed backup. We hired a doula. If you don't know, google it cause they're great and they can explain themselves much better than I can. Long story short, we interviewed several and in the end picked Jill. Cool chick, Jersey through and through with the right bit of Hippie flavor, tons of experience with babies coming out of vaginas rather than through surgery and done drug free. Her plan was to work with us in the comfort of our home for as long as possible in order to spend the least amount of time in the hospital and arrive there to have a professional staff work with us to deliver the baby. Jill used counter pressure, aroma therapy, breathing techniques, massage and support for both Sarah and I throughout the pregnancy, delivery, and post partum.

Next post, birth experience, everything leading up to it and perhaps a few tidbits for the following 24-48 hours.

Side note, if ever traveling for more than 15 minutes with a pregnant woman, make sure to bring, food, water, a plan for a bathroom and ability to exit any and all situations you have planned for said trip. Actually, prep as though you're going camping for three days and for the entire trip prepare as though you're Jack Bauer. Additionally, when in doubt, shut your mouth and accept blame.