Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Babies and Kittens and Ronald McDonald

There is a kitten on my head as I type this.

Natalia's kitten, Lucky.
Lucky is a pain in the butt for a cute little kitten.

I am all done with kittens.

They are cute and all...but they really need to live with somebody else. This one hasn't even gotten into my yarn stash and I can say that, so you know I really mean it.

Babies...I was going to tell you about our first baby.
We tried for three years to have a baby. Any baby. I would borrow them when they were around every chance I got. I was that annoying person who stopped strangers in the street and asked to hold their babies.

(Totally kidding. I w]as0-m n12 ok, see- that was the kitten. I am SO not having]] a kitten.

I was in Macy's once, with my 2 nieces. They were about 6 months old, and chewed everything like puppies. Some lady walked up to us and squeaked about how cute they were. And they were; dressed to the nines, immaculate, and cute as a bug. My sisters beamed; I went into defensive linebacker position (psycho- alert went off). She reached into their stroller....AND PUT HER FINGER INTO ONE OF THOSE BABIES' MOUTHS FOR HER TO BITE ON.
Can I just say she's lucky to still have her finger? And her head?
I'm pretty sure she learned exactly why that was a bad idea, and I'll just bet the taste of my own dirty germ-filled hand in her mouth lingers to this day.)

It took us so long to get pregnant, our midwife had to review the steps necessary for conception with us.

She questioned the copius amount of bleach present in our day to day lives, and asked if I secretly soaked parts of The Big Guy while he slept. I had fantasies about doing just that for months afterwards.

When we finally gave up, and decided to travel and spoil our nieces and nephews...I suddenly, unexpectedly became pregnant.
First words out of my mouth? "Oh my God, my Father's going to know we had sex!"
I made my Mother tell him about the baby.

I had a perfect pregnancy, and I loved every minute of it.

One morning I woke up, and went through the usual morning routine (though without coffee!).
When I got down to the kitchen...I felt a most unwelcome sensation, and thought I had become incontinent.
"Oh, lovely," I said to the cat.
"If you tell anyone about this, you're moving out!"

But I had a funny feeling, so I called my friend Linda, my midwife.
I showered while I waited for her to call back. The Big Guy showed up moments later.
I yelled at him through the door (huh, before the kids, we actually shut the bathroom door!) not to go far, that we might be going off.
It was January 26th. I don't just go off in January. Even on a beautiful, windless, cloudless day like that one.
He knew.

He was packing before I finished showering, and had already called one of the guys for a boat ride over.
Linda said, "Oh, come see me...we'll have lunch!"
Which meant 'Marissa will freak if I let on that she has 7 weeks left to go so I'll just make her think there's a party involved. She never turns down an invitation.'
And I don't, so I went.
But I knew, too.

My water didn't 'break', but it was leaking. Baby was fine.
Linda shipped me off to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor (awesome place to be shipped to), and I've only recently forgiven her for not coming with me.
She was swamped that day.
I tried to kidnap her. She's teeny tiny. I was pretty sure she'd fit in my suitcase- especially since it contained 8 pair of undies which I never got to wear, and one pair of pj's. That's it.
No clothes.
That worked out really well for me later on.

When I got to Bangor, they checked under the hood, changed the oil, etc., and determined that I was not actually going to give birth.
(I could have told them that; I wasn't planning to give birth. In fact, were it up to me, I'd still be pregnant with that kid today...) In fact, I never did go into labor.

They tucked me into bed, told The Big Guy he could sleep on the floor, strapped the baby monitor on me, and left me there for a week.
Seven whole days.
One of those days, a nurse came in to look at the monitor. She looked at the graph and asked, "Are you having any contractions?"
I said," Oh my God, I'm having contractions??!!?"
She said, "Oh My God, You ARE? You're having contractions??!!"
The Big Guy shut us both up by pointing out the fact that I was sitting on the edge of the bed, and that the roof was still on the hospital. Lynne got the picture immediately, and never asked again.
I loved those nurses! We had a blast with them. It's fun to be in a hospital when you're not really sick, and when you aren't working. We provided them with comic relief; they provided me with the best grapes I've ever had. And ice cream!
And though there was some underlying fear about the baby; I always knew it would be ok.
There was some question about the date of conception, for starters, and she was healthy. Just small, and a bit early.

A week later, they offered me a c-section.
It was an offer I couldn't refuse. It was one of the easiest things I've ever done...almost enjoyable, but I could be delusional.
And, you know, there was a baby at the end of all that!

She was 4 pounds and 2 ounces. Yikes.

Anybody who says they couldn't bond with their baby because they had a c-section can kiss my butt.
Anybody who says their relationship with their baby suffered because the babe stayed in the NICU for a bit can kiss my butt, too.

( I'm not talking about severe situations. I've seen it, and now I know what it feels like. God Bless You who suffer through those situations.)

We never left that NICU unless they threw us out (nicely, of course. But a few times, forcibly.)
The Big Guy missed one feeding the whole 9 days, and that was because he had a Doctor's appointment himself (previously scheduled). I was pumping milk every 2 hours and was sometimes strapped to the 'milking machine' at the feeding times. But, you know, I was doing my part!

I stayed in the hospital for 3 days, and when I was 'released', I left my room and walked across the hall to the NICU with my suitcase. My plan was to set up residence in the hallway. There was never any question or just was the closest place to the NICU and I was fine with that.

There was also the fun fact that all I had for clothes were what I'd had on the day we left the island.

My Mother and Father came up from Boston (in a snowstorm) the day Thing One was born, and took my clothes to a laundromat.
I wore them for the next 9 days. We burned them ceremoniously when we got home.
Dad left after a couple of days to go back to work, but my Mother stayed with us for about a month!

Those NICU nurses were all over the situation, and got us a room at the Ronald McDonald House across the street. They were making calls, making deals, offering bribes, while I sat in a rocking chair and talked baby talk to Thing One, completely unfazed and unworried. I would have just slept in that chair. The Big Guy and Mother would have slept in the car, or a waiting room. None of us were going far!

Apparently other people's c-sections have pain involved, for weeks afterwards. I had some pain going from a lying position to a sitting position, but that was only the first week or so, and truly- that was it. I've had a worse time at the dentist.

That ripped -off toenail was worse than either of my c-sections!!
Update:it's totally off now. There is some new nail underneath. It looks so disgusting I cannot put a picture on the blog...I know one of you will pass out, hit your head, and spend a month in a coma, all because of that toe. It would be totally irresponsible of me to do that.

We all stayed in one room at the McDonald House. There were 2 twin beds and a cot. We had no clothes or towels; they provided us with bedding and towels.
For the next few years, every time we passed a McDonald's my nieces and nephews asked if that was the one we slept at when the baby was born!

Before we left The House, my Mother and The Big Guy went to Walmart. They bought a mess of towels, big bottles of shampoo and laundry detergent, bars of soap, pillows, blankets...I can't even remember what else. All the things that we had found we needed, and that housemates let us use while we were there. (We shared bottles of shampoo, and liquid hand soap at the sinks...stuff like that.)
We left everything by the washer and dryer with a note that said 'Help Yourselves'.

What would I have done without that washer and dryer right outside our room? (Besides walk around in those skanky clothes??)
I changed into pj's after the 2am feeding, and snuck out into the hallway to wash my clothes every night. I pumped for the 45 minutes it took to wash, then snuck out again to put the clothes in the dryer.

I only got caught twice in 9 days. By two different husbands, who I'm sure are still receiving therapy. Sorry, guys.

After 5 or so days of this routine, we were buoyed by the fact that our daughter had needed no medical interventions, and was putting on weight. My milk had come in, but she wasn't nursing, so I continued to pump.


I pumped around the clock, every 2 hours, for 10 weeks.
I don't know what I was thinking...I just got into the routine, wasn't sleeping at all, and just kept at it. You only do things like that with a first baby!

We started making some noise about going home. It took four days to convince the nurses and docs that she was ready. We had all become very attached, but by this time we'd been gone for 19 days, and were dying to get this baby home, and be a family.

All in all we spent 19 days in Bangor, 10 days in the hospital, 9 at The Ronald McDonald House.

I couldn't be more appreciative of all the attentions we received, all the favors we were granted, all the kindness bestowed upon us.

We make a donation every year at Christmas, to show our gratitude.

And I am so pleased to report, I am making a Very Large Donation in Thing One's name with the fundraising done on the weekend of August 8th and 9th!

Thank You all for your support!!


I am no longer 4 pounds.


  1. You are a fantastic person and writer! Although I may not always comment, I do read your posts. Love them. I had 4 c-sections and pumped exclusively for at least a year with 3 of them - the fourth unexpectedly decided to nurse, go figure. Anyways, thank you for sharing your story!

  2. Oh, my goodness! I did the same thing with our 5th kid. 5 days in the hospital before he was born. I felt like I was on vacation! He was in the NICU in Minneapolis for 3 or 4 days, and then transferred to our local hospital for about 5 more days. And the pumping...and 4 other kids. I don't remember most of his first year!

  3. what a wonderful story with a fantastic ending, you made my day reading this

  4. DId you really stick your finger in that crazy lady's mouth???? HA HA!!! I"ll have to remember that - some people have no filter I guess with babies.
    My best friend from high school just took home her son after nearly 6 months in the NICU (born at 26 weeks - crazy!!!! Just at viability!!) so your story hit close to home.
    Note: my second baby was just 5 lbs when she was born, and dropped a few ounces after birth (which is totally normal for all babies) so the nurses freaked and didn't want to send her home "because she's too small". My doctor all but said "Bite me". Love that man.
    Keep those great stories coming!!

  5. What a wonderful post.
    I know a few families that have benefited from the RMH. It's worth everyone's support.