All The Feels

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I hope to be in the nitty-gritty throws of labor in roughly two months and honestly, I cannot wait. Being pregnant for two years straight will do that to a girl, I suppose. With that first glorious contraction I may even burst into song. I swear I won’t even care if my husband tells me he’d rather check out the sale at Nordstrom than drive me to the hospital again. I’ll walk (or skip or dance) my own way there…

Then in the same instant, I feel infinitely sad. I have been loving my bump this pregnancy. Maybe it’s because when I was pregnant with my daughter I never really had a bump. I was just mushy all over. This time it feels like I have a basketball under my skin and I can’t help petting it and massaging it with lotion and showing it all the love in the world. Those old wives know what they’re talking about when they say being pregnant with a boy looks different than being pregnant with a girl–at least for me…

At the same time, I am terrified. Not of labor, surprisingly, but of what comes after. The sleeplessness, the breastfeeding, the packing up and moving from Miami to Jamaica with a very active toddler and a newborn. And even more than the terror of those initial few weeks, I am terrified of having a son. This is a dangerous world for brown boys in America. It’s true, my son may come out fair like me, but he also may be brown like his dad and sister. It is something I think about a lot–the future worry that will be added to the usual ‘crashing cars’ and ‘broken bones’ narrative of growing up male.

But I am also excited…..excited for my husband to experience having a son, a little him, like I have been able to experience having a little me in my daughter. I am excited for our family to be complete and for the opportunity to donate my maternity things to future excited moms. I am excited to have a tiny baby again who stays in one place when you put him down. I am excited for the new baby smell and the tiny baby clothes. Most of all, I am excited for the increased love in the house as we add one more person to kiss and snuggle to our mix.

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The Ugly Truth About Breastfeeding

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I remember last year during my first pregnancy, going to a breastfeeding class at Babies R Us and listening to a woman expose the virtues of breastfeeding. Breast is Best was her mantra–as is the mantra of most women, midwives and medical professionals. The woman was speaking as if you had a choice whether or not to breastfeed (which you do but I didn’t know that then) and I thought: why would anyone choose to not breastfeed?

Well, I certainly found out why (I’m getting there).

If you are pregnant for the first time, you’re probably focused on the wrong thing right now: how is this baby going to come out of me? Like me, you may have spent a fortune signing up for classes at your hospital and other private “child birth centers” so you can be fully prepared to get the baby out in a specific way (perhaps in a sterile drug-free environment with soft music and lighting?).

Let me burst this bubble for you: You are wasting your time. You have no control over how that baby comes out of you. Yes, you can learn breathing techniques for pain management and you can pack a hospital bag but when, where and how that baby comes out of your body is wholly subject to factors beyond your control. It very rarely goes according to plan so to spend night and day preparing for something that is over in a matter of hours is not the best use of your energy.

What you should be focused on is what happens AFTER that baby comes out. This is not something I paid much attention to the first time around and I found myself absolutely floundering with (you guessed it!) breastfeeding.

It all became very clear why the woman at Babies R Us was acting as if you have a choice about breastfeeding. Once you are trying to do it you may realize a few hard truths. Before I get to those truths I also want to share this piece of information (information I was really mad that nobody had shared with me). Breastfeeding is a choice. After that baby is born if you choose not to breastfeed the doctor can give you an injection to dry up your milk and your baby can go straight to formula. You don’t have to breastfeed. You can have some semblance of normalcy very early on and the skip the whole National Geographic routine that is breastfeeding.

With that being said, like a broken record it is my obligation to tell you again that Breast is Best.

So with that in mind I give you: Amanda Hanna’s Ugly Truths About Breastfeeding:

  1. It Hurts A Lot. Do me a favor, pinch you nipples right now. Pinch them as hard as you can. Imagine a pain that will stem from that hot pinch and radiate throughout your body until your toes curl. If you’re the kinky type, maybe you’re into it. If you’re the vanilla type like me, you’ve probably never given much thought to your nipples at all. Get ready to think about them day and night. That pain you feel is the pain of latching on. Tears may spring to your eyes–especially if your baby latches on incorrectly. If they manage to hit the right spot that pain shouldn’t last more than a short moment but in the beginning that is rarely the case. You may find that pain lasting for the entire time (roughly half an hour per breast). This is how you know that they are latching incorrectly. Do not allow this to go uncorrected because it will result in bleeding nipples and a lot of unnecessary complications.

2. Pain Is Not Limited To When You’re Breastfeeding: Initially your nipples will be sore and hurt all the time, especially when you’re in the shower and water falls on them. Expect the water to feel like razor blades cutting through your skin. This is normal. Also, if fabric (like a bra or t-shirt) first touches your nipples, it will hurt tremendously. I understand for most moms this pain subsides in the first few weeks. For me it lasted the entire period of pumping (but I will get to that later).

3. You’re Boobs Are Going to Triple in Size: I have always been amply endowed in the chest region so I was especially horrified, after my milk came in, at the sheer volume of my boobs. They were literally up to my chin. My nipples were bigger than my baby’s whole face. It was a latching nightmare. In retrospect I could’ve hired a lactation consultant or even tried buying some nipple shields to help my daughter latch, but I was so overwhelmed that I went down the hard and time consuming role of pumping seven times a day (the equivalent of 3.5 hours a day).

4.Pumping is The Hard Road: Think of me as a cautionary tale. Pumping may initially seem like an easier option to breastfeeding (especially if your baby is latching incorrectly). Be prepared to wash and sterilize bottles, nipples and pump parts 7 times a day. Be prepared for your hands to get so chapped from this process that it causes tears in your nail beds. Be prepared for poop to then infect these nail beds (from changing so many diapers) and cause painful boils in your nail beds that will further remove you from your child because you need to spend hours in Urgent Care (like me) getting painful treatment and suffering the threat of losing your entire finger nail. Be prepared for your boobs to constantly feel like they are on fire as the too-small pump parts turns your milk ducts to shattered glass (If you feel this way then you need to buy bigger pump shields. Google it). Be prepared to live on fenugreek supplements to keep your breastmilk artificially flowing. Make sure you have enough people always around you to take care of your baby while you are rendered useless as you pump. It is not the easier option–it is the mother-loving Mount Everest of breastfeeding. If I hadn’t had the support and if my daughter wasn’t my only child at the time, I could never have kept it going as long as I did.

5. Your Nipples are Going to Look Like A Horror Movie. You can lather yourself in Lanolin but at some point your nipples are going to experience one, all or some of these things: Cracking, Bleeding, Boils, Bubbles or Shedding Skin. Take each thing in stride. You may not even realize your nipples are bleeding until your baby starts spitting up blood. These are the times when you will especially wish you knew about the injection in the hospital that could’ve simply dried up your breastmilk and allowed you to skip this phase of life. Remember though: Breast is still Best!

6. Beware MastitisMost women experience mastitis at least once while breastfeeding. It can be treated with antibiotics but it is not recommended you breastfeed while taking these antibiotics. During this time your breastmilk may dry up and that will be the beginning of formula for your baby. It is extremely painful. The way to keep yourself mastitis free is the breastfeed on a 2-3hour schedule until your milk flow is established around the 6 week mark and apply cold and warm pads to your breasts in between feedings. Letting hot water run over your boobs if they get too engorged helps also, if you can stand the nipple pain (or cover nipples with a rag).

You are probably thinking hard about that injection in the hospital that can spare you all this hardship right about now. I don’t blame you. I think about it day and night as I approach my due date. I will say that my daughter drank only breastmilk for five months and ten days of her life and she has been extremely healthy and has grown tremendously over the past year. I can’t say it’s because of the breastmilk but it certainly didn’t hurt her.

At the end of the day we make a variety of choices that suit our situations. You can hear Breast is Best until you start singing it in your sleep but while you’re in the trenches it certainly doesn’t feel that way. My only advice is get yourself a lactation consultant for those first few weeks that can help you through this process as painlessly as possible. That is what I intend to do this go around. Also, if you have decided ahead of time that Breast is Not the Best solution for your situation then F* that noise and enjoy your injection! I wouldn’t blame you for taking this road nor would I allow anyone to shun you for making this hard choice. What is best for one may not be best for another so don’t lose too much sleep over it. It’s not like you will be sleeping that much anyway with a newborn in the house.

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I Have a Confession To Make

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My helper asked me this morning if I don’t realize I’m gaining weight. She sees me exercising and eating salad and can’t understand why my hips are getting wider and my belly is starting to look so puffy. Well, I have a confession. I’m pregnant. Yes, (in the words of the guy who brings me food in the days) again. 

I know what you’re saying. Penny isn’t even a year old yet. You live in a two bedroom apartment, Amanda, what if it’s a boy? You’re going to have to move out of your dream home at some point in the near future. You’ll never be able to afford to live in Manhattan again with two children. Forget Manhattan–you’ll never sleep again! Your husband will never be able to fit in your bed with two babies between you so you’ll also never have sex again. This is madness, chaos and clutter–all the things you hate in life. What in the world were you thinking?

Well, I’ll tell you what I was thinking the night when this little miracle occurred. My husband was grumbling about being neglected. I was spending all my time with the baby and basically zero time with him. So I decided one evening after Penny went to sleep, to spend an hour with my husband–besides, that movie “National Treasure” was on and I have to watch it every time. (In another life I would’ve been a treasure hunter if I wasn’t terribly afraid of everything involved like heights, guns, danger, unusually painful death by ancient undiscovered ruins etc). Well, that hour led me here. What can I say? Don’t spend time with your husband, (especially if he is as attractive as mine), if you don’t plan on having a second baby. Or rather: Get your tubes tied first!

The day my husband and I found out I was pregnant will be a day that lives in infamy. Matthew noticed I’d been eating a lot more than usual so he jokingly said, “Could you be pregnant?” to which I responded, “you don’t have to be pregnant to be hungry.” As the weeks dragged on with me ‘feeling like I’m about to get my period’ but never actually getting my period, my husband strengthened in his belief. “You’re pregnant,” he would say, anytime I’d yell at him or do something even remotely human.

One morning I decided to take a test to silence his argument. “You’re not going to believe this,” I told him as my mouth became so dry that I could barely speak. “You’re pregnant!” My husband said in sudden (and surprising) disbelief. “I’m so pregnant that I didn’t even have to wait for the two lines to appear,” I said in shock.

For the next two hours my husband curled up on the bed unresponsive, as if he was expecting the North Koreans to bomb Kingston at any moment. He wouldn’t talk to me. He wouldn’t touch me. He just lay there like the useless sack of sperm he was, as I changed and fed our daughter, (and cursed him because I was about to have two of these babies and he would be just as useless as he was that morning. Hey, I’m pregnant! Give me a break).

It wasn’t exactly the same reaction he had the first time we found out I was pregnant, but he quickly rebounded and started telling everyone of his incredible fertility (he even offered some women his sperm as if anyone wants an offer like that!). If there is anything that can cheer a guy up, apparently, it’s high virility.

Now, as I am almost 17 weeks along and starting to show (obviously if my helper noticed), we are getting more into the idea of having another one. Penny is getting more independent each day. She’s becoming more like a little girl and less like a baby. We are looking forward to our “Christmas Miracle” that is due to arrive around December 10th. Life is slowly becoming more manageable before we are hurled back into the endless drudge of diaper changing, pumping and sleeplessness. On the upside though, at least by next year this time we should be entering a state of normalcy once again. (That’s what I have to believe anyway, although I hear that if you have one really good baby then the other is a terror).

And hey, it’ll be great for Penny to have a sibling 16 months apart. My middle brother is three and a half years younger and my youngest brother is seven years younger, which basically makes me an only child in terms of growing up ‘with siblings’.

As for moving out of my dream house, I’m still not sure it has to happen. My plan is to stay here as long as possible but if the day comes when I have to choose between my kids and my house, then the choice is obvious. It’s the house. (Joking! Okay maybe I’m not, but I really don’t want to move, do you hear me Matthew!?!?)

Well, now that I’ve come out with the truth, do not expect me to do things like button my pants in public or leave the last kibbeh on the communal plate. I need all the kibbehs, damn it. I’m growing a mother-lovin’ human! I also reserve all right to refuse invitations to night time social events (although I rarely get those anymore) and openly scoff at any suggestion of squeezing my pregnant, swollen feet into the MAN made torture device known commonly as the high heel shoe. In other news, I am fully available to receive massages and delivery baskets filled with brown, salty Chinese sweeties (Jamaicans get this, Americans don’t). Send on the preggo-love people! (But don’t touch my belly without asking. I will bite you).

 

Hold up! I suddenly have TWO college tuitions to pay. Sign into your amazon accounts and buy these books! Midlife Wife, New York Catch, New York Socialite, New New York, (or the New York Series for all three in one), Red Rock Cafe and Dating for Dinner.

 

The Truth About Postpartum

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As much as I didn’t want to write this blog (and admit these things in print), I feel it is my duty to report back on this particularly undocumented period of pregnancy: The Fourth Trimester. You readers rely on my frankness so no matter how embarrassing it is, I have a duty to you to come out with it.

Before my baby was born, I read up on what to expect postpartum and nothing really prepared me for what I experienced. I wouldn’t be surprised if reading this doesn’t prepare you either–it’s a mother-loving head trip! Good luck to you. I’m only glad that I have recovered most of my hormones at three and a half months postpartum, if not all my memory.

So without further ado I give you:

Amanda Hanna’s 6 Truths About the Postpartum Period

  1. Like Adam & Eve in the garden of Eden, you will live your life without shame. I am speaking in total honesty when I tell you that I walked around the hospital (practically) buck naked, hemorrhaging from my nether regions for the first 24hours of my daughters life. I don’t recall ever brushing my teeth or my hair or even looking in the mirror. Once my epidural wore off I was asked to pee in a cup and that one endeavor left me covered in urine for the remainder of my stay because God knows I didn’t attempt to shower until I was released from the hospital two days later. I look back now and laugh at myself for packing things like dental floss in my hospital bag. Ha! If only I possessed the shame of a normal human, but in those first 24 hours I had no thought in my head besides the well-being and whereabouts of my baby. Even now, it’s like National Geographic over at my house. I rarely put a shirt on. My boobs are always out in front of company. A thin layer of breastmilk coats everything around me and I don’t even attempt to wipe it up more than once or twice a week. What for? It’s just going to drip again.
  2. Prepare to be crazier than you have ever been in your life. I had read that upon giving birth your hormones crash but I never fully realized what that would mean. Even me telling you about it won’t prepare you for when it happens. Like the Jamaicans say, yuh nuh ready! When that baby leaves your body, expect to go bat-shit crazy. I remember one night in those early weeks when my mother-in-law was staying with me and my husband in Florida. I had gone to lay down for a little while she spent some time with the baby. After about five minutes I raced out of bed to tell my mother-in-law that whatever she did, she must not give the baby any honey. In my mind I imagined my mother-in-law getting up, innocently to make herself a cup of tea with honey, and dripping a little honey on her finger by mistake. Then I thought she might let the baby taste the honey (as grandparents sometimes do) and I was beside myself with worry. I shot right up so I could let her know that honey could kill the baby and under no circumstances should honey be allowed near her. Thank God for my MIL’s patience because she very calmly replied that she would make sure to not give the baby anything other than breastmilk. All I can think is that she remembered how crazy she went after giving birth to her own kids. Another day I told my husband that I needed him to get me a baseball bat because I noticed all these drivers texting while they drove and I couldn’t have such criminals driving potentially explosive ‘weapons’ on the same road as my child. I fully intended to get out and beat the shiz out of anyone who had the nerve to text and drive near my child. My husband casually informed me at that point that in Florida, I would likely be shot if I attacked a stranger with a baseball bat in traffic. All I’m saying is: you go nuts after your baby is born, so expect it. Don’t let it surprise you like it surprised me.
  3. Get ready to weep. I am not a crier generally. I have had friends for over twenty years who have never seen me cry. I am just not that kind of girl. I’ll tell you what though–having a baby makes you cry all the time. I cried when she was born. I cried when she latched on to breastfeed the first time. I cried when the hospital staff pricked her to take her blood. I cried when she cried and I didn’t know why she was crying. I cried when they kept her overnight for jaundice and made me go home without her. I cried and cried and cried that night. I cried when I drank coconut water because I remembered being in labor with her for so many hours and drinking coconut water to stay hydrated. I cried when my husband would talk to me in anything other than ‘gentle tones’. I cried when I watched her sleep. I cried when she looked up and smiled at me for the first time. It was three months of non-stop crying, and apparently it was 100% normal.
  4. You will live in fear of two things: Taking a Poop & Having Sex. After I gave birth I had the distinct sensation that my downstairs area had turned into a wishing well. I could feel breeze swirling around an endless, deep, dark cavern of space. I imagined myself flinging coins into it waiting to hear the sound of them hitting water. Thanks to the episiotomy that allowed my daughter to be born after 25minutes of pushing, I was now held together by stitches. After a week, those stitches began to dry out and harden, making everything in that region uncomfortable. Just the thought of taking a poop or having sex, filled me with a sense of dread. I started to tell my husband that maybe he should take a lover because I didn’t think I’d ever have sex again. I stopped eating solid food out of fear that the food would eventually have to come out of me. It was an extremely tense time for me and therefore those around me.
  5. You will go between never wanting to have another baby, and wanting to have another baby right away. From the start I only wanted one child. I was a big advocate for the only child. Well guess what, I spent days swinging the pendulum between never wanting to have sex again to wanting to get pregnant again immediately. It was an irrational time of life. My husband was at his wits end. I’d tell him not to even thinking about touching me to literally throwing myself at him and telling him to just ‘do it now and get me pregnant’. I really have nothing to say for myself besides ‘hormones’. What are you gonna do, amiright? I was especially sexy with my topless, breastmilk-leaking, National Geographic, barely showered or brushed teeth, baby-weight-holding self. It’s a wonder I remain not-pregnant, right now.
  6. You won’t remember those first 6 weeks. Right before we left Miami I looked at my husband through a haze and asked him what had happened since the baby was born. My mind was literally blank. It was like I’d just woken up from a dream state and couldn’t decipher fact from fiction. Had I really told his mother not to feed the baby honey? Did I really walk around the hospital naked and unwashed? Was I a lunatic? (Yes to all three). It’s amazing I’m still married. This is why society tells you to get married before you have a baby because if there was anyway a man could easily leave you in those first 6 weeks without a legal obligation to stay, he would. Hell, if I could have left myself I would’ve. Half the time I didn’t even know I was there! It was a miracle I managed to function from hour to sleepless hour, but function we did and I can say at the three month mark I officially started to feel like myself again. Sure, it’s still National Geographic over at my house because I am pumping every four hours, but I get a lot more sleep and at least one shower a day. I have family that comes to help out when my husband can’t and a delivery guy that makes sure to bring me food when I can’t make it out on the road. I look back at those pictures and videos from those first few weeks and smile at how much my baby has grown since then. It feels like a lifetime away. All I can say is Thank God we got through it alive.

Best of luck to you expecting Mama’s out there! My only advice is take the help. People offer it and out of politeness your first instinct is to turn it down–don’t. Take it! Take all the help you can get because you do actually owe it to yourself and your family to eat, sleep and shower every once in a while. Oh yeah–and have sex with your husband. He needs that too.

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The Labor & Delivery Story

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The Lead Up to D Day:

I am a prepared person. No matter what it is I’m doing in life, writing a new novel, starting a new venture, even going on vacation, I do my research. Childbirth is no different. Before I even entertained the idea of getting pregnant, I watched numerous videos on childbirth. I read “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” BEFORE I was expecting. (You can probably tell I’m not the kind of girl who enjoys surprises). I watched “The Business of Being Born” 6 times leading up to my impending delivery. I signed up for “Prepared Childbirth Classes” at the hospital that painstakingly went through every stage of pre-labor, active labor, transition labor and postpartum. I took a crash Hypnobirthing class on my birthday so I would be ready in case I had no choice but to deliver the baby with my own two hands, in a pitch-black elevator shaft in the wake of a natural disaster. At the moment when I was driving to Costco on Monday, August 8th when I felt my first real contraction, I could not have been more prepared. I had 5 copies of my birth plan tucked neatly into my pre-packed hospital bag. I was going to stay at home as long as possible and hopefully get to the hospital when I was ten centimeters dilated and ready to push. My birth ball was inflated. My husband had been practicing effleurage and the breathing exercises. We could not have been more ready to go…

False Alarm:

The contractions started slowly. I’d get one then I wouldn’t get another until thirty minutes later. Sometimes they’d stop all together and start back up. By midnight I decided I was not in labor and went to sleep. On Tuesday morning (August 9th) when I woke up, I convinced myself that I’d imagine the whole thing. Surely a person would know when they are in labor, right? Wrong.

There is actually an entire show devoted to people who didn’t know they were in labor. They didn’t even know they were pregnant. This is what I thought Tuesday afternoon while walking in Dolphin Mall. Every step I took brought another contraction. Some were strong and others I couldn’t even be sure were contractions. Each one felt different. “I need to go home” I declared to my husband and father while we stood in line to buy a whale lamp for the baby’s room at Home Goods. The contractions continued throughout the day to come more regularly, ten minutes apart. Sometimes I could talk during and sometimes I couldn’t. By 10PM I told my husband we should call the doctor and ask what we should do. Yes, I was having contractions, but it wasn’t like I was dying. Wasn’t I supposed to feel like I was dying? Isn’t that how it looked on TV?

My doctor assured me that I should feel like I was dying.

I told her that the hypnobirthing teacher said I had a strong uterus because I didn’t experience menstrual cramps. Could it be possible that I am about to have the baby but my strong uterus is making it easy on me? She didn’t think so.

Around midnight the contractions started to go in the opposite direction. After getting stronger all day, suddenly they began to get weaker. Instead of coming in a regular 9 to 10 minute interval, they started to stretch to fifteen or twenty minutes. This is when I started to suspect something might be wrong.

“Let’s go to the hospital,” I told my husband. “Something is happening”. Well, that’s all my father needed to hear. He got so flustered he spent ten minutes running around the apartment in his underwear looking for his pants. Matt and I were in the elevator and he still hadn’t managed to get dressed and find his keys despite the twenty minute notice I had given him. Regardless, we went ahead. I wasn’t in pain but I wasn’t waiting any longer. I’d been feeling contractions for over twenty-four hours and I thought there was a good chance this baby was coming out. Her head was so low that the ultrasound tech was alarmed the day before when she’d tried to guess the weight. “Does the doctor know she’s this low?” the tech asked. “How low is she?” My husband wanted to know. “She’s as low as she can be without actually coming out,” the tech said.

We got to the hospital and I told the nurse I wasn’t sure if I was in labor. I told her about my strong uterus. She told me to fill out the forms and a nurse would be with me. She didn’t seem to know about people with strong uteruses. My husband and I sat patiently as I got hooked up to machines and waited for the internal exam. Was I in labor? Was the head about to crown? Could I be one of those people on TV who confused childbirth with food poisoning? Is it possible I could just sneeze the baby out with no discomfort what-so-ever?

“You’re about 1 and a half centimeters dilated,” the nurse declared. I couldn’t understand it. I’d been having contractions since Monday afternoon and here it was, Wednesday, August 10th at 1:00AM and I was only 1 and a half centimeters dilated. “If you want we can admit you and induce you,” she offered. No way, I said. I have a plan. I’m going to go into labor naturally and stay home for as long as possible. Then I’m going to arrive at the hospital when I’m 10cm dilated and start to push. It’s all in my birth plan if she would like to take a look. She did not want to take a look.

“Come back when you’re doubled over in pain and crying,” the nurse told me. “Then you won’t have to wonder if you’re in labor.”

We went home and went to sleep. The contractions had gotten substantially weaker since learning how little I had dilated. I went to sleep thinking that I would be pregnant forever.

D Day:

The clock said 5:45AM when I felt a dragon had bitten through my abdomen. The pain radiated down my legs and wrapped several times around my body like a boa constrictor, squeezing the absolute life out of me. I sat straight up in bed but couldn’t manage to get any further. The pain seemed to pin me in place and I couldn’t make a sound. All the air got sucked down into some dark place inside of me. I saw my husband sleeping beside me but he might as well have been miles away. I couldn’t reach him. I couldn’t cry out. It was as if I was encapsulated by my pain. It was so strong that it incapacitated me. I watched the clock for a full 90 seconds until the grip began to loosen. Just like that, I felt perfectly fine. I lay back down wondering if I’d imagined it. I’d just been to the hospital and the nurse told me I could be pregnant for another three weeks. There is no reason to believe that what I’d just experienced was a contraction. It was late. Maybe it was a dream?

Ten minutes later the dragon bit me again. This time I managed to roll out of the bed and squat against the bed frame. I realized very quickly that it was far more painful to lay down than to stand up, so for the next four hours I stood, bracing myself against the wall in silence as my husband slept. I started recording the contractions. They were coming in a regular pattern ten minutes apart. After the fiasco of the night before, I didn’t want to wake anyone up. Besides, wasn’t my plan to stay at home until I was 10cm dilated?

By 10:00AM I had taken two showers, bounced on the birthing ball and couldn’t labor alone anymore. I decided it was time for the husband to wake up and help me. “Get the F* up,” I caressed his face gingerly as I breathed through another dragon bite. “I’m having a F*ing baby over here!”

“No you’re not,” he turned over and stuck his head under a pillow.

I decided to try my Dad. “Dad, I’m in labor. I’m having this baby today,” I told him.

“That’s what you said last night,” my Dad sighed as he rolled over and went back to sleep.

I was the girl who cried labor and now nobody would believe me.

In my mind it was time to take another shower. When I came out I found my husband had roused himself to go to the mall and grab some breakfast. “Would you like anything from the Ebar?” he asked as he looked for his keys.

“I can’t eat anything, I’m in labor,” I declared. I had to admit, even to me it sounded unreal. How could I be in labor? I was just at the hospital and they told me I was nowhere close.

“You won’t go into labor in the middle of the day,” my Dad assured me, “you’ll go into labor at a far more inconvenient time. Nobody has babies in the middle of the day.” This logic seemed to convince my husband that he had plenty of time to grab a coffee and a bagel and even do a little browsing over at Nordstrom before coming home.

By then it was noon and I was in some serious pain. The problem was that neither my father, husband nor brother believed that I was anywhere near having a baby. At twelve thirty something changed. This time, everything got more intense. The pain lasted longer. The contractions came closer together. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t breath. I felt the baby’s head and it was low. “As low as it can be before coming out….”

“I need to go to the hospital,” I announced as my husband and Dad laughed at something on the TV.

“Why don’t you wait til later?” My Dad asked. “There’s no rush to go now. I want to watch the rest of this show.”

“Matthew, take me to the hospital,” I demanded. Matthew ignored me as he texted on his phone. “Just relax,” he assured me, “it’s not as bad as you think”.

I decided right then and there that I was 100% alone in the world and I would have to pick my ass up and walk to the hospital. The thought of that walk with the August Floridian heat met a contraction head on and tears sprung to my eyes.

“Take me now!” I screamed so loudly that my husband literally jumped up off his chair. Finally he could see that this wasn’t a joke. I was in labor. I was having this baby today. As far as he knew, I might be having this baby right there on the couch. He finally agreed. The seven minute ride to the hospital was one of the most painful and fearful of my life. I felt like I was sitting on the baby’s head. I felt like if I breathed too hard she could fall straight out.

We walked into the hospital to see a long line of people waiting to get through security. That is when I lost it. Here I was, (in my mind) minutes away from giving birth, and we had to wait for a bunch of people to submit their IDs and get processed before I could get to the maternity ward. I’d have to have my baby here in front of the imitation Starbucks in the lobby with a dozen strangers watching me. When the contraction hit me, I doubled over and started to weep. Yes, weep. I am a degree holding drama queen and when confronted with the scariest situation for womankind–natural childbirth with an audience–I weep. The security guard took notice and asked my husband what was going on.

Finally, Matt summoned the words he’d been denying all day. “She’s having a baby!” He declared. The crowds parted and I was ushered quickly to the appropriate floor. After filling out all the admitting paperwork for the second time in twelve hours, I was finally taken to triage to be checked. If you’d asked me, I was ready to push. The pain was ten times worse than anything I’d ever experienced. I’d watched the videos on youtube and I knew what ten centimeters looked like. That was me. If I wasn’t ten centimeters then I didn’t know anything about anything in this world. “I’m ready to push,” I told the nurse, expecting her to rush me straight into an ER. I saw visions of myself having this beautiful natural childbirth experience. Three pushes and the baby would be on my chest. She would look around with her alert eyes, crawl to my boob and magically latch on. I would feel endless relief, joy and exhaustion. Hell, I was exhausted now. I hadn’t slept much since Monday night!

“You’re three centimeters dilated,” the nurse reported matter-of-factly. That was it? 3 centimeters dilated? How could that be? I was in so much pain. I was literally weeping in front of strangers.

“I’m going to need the epidural,” I told the nurse. “As soon as possible”.

My husband looked at me guiltily. “Is there anything I can do?” He asked helplessly.

“Yes,” I told him. “You’re in a hospital. Find a doctor and get a vasectomy.”

The pain only escalated between the triage bed and me being moved to a delivery room. The contractions were getting much stronger and closer together now. I have no idea how women have babies without epidurals. I know that I never want to experience that level of pain in my life. The epidural was quick and painless. Once it was administered I fell straight to sleep for four glorious hours. Yes, I felt totally loopy and I loved it. I overheard my Dad, brother and husband idly chatting on the couch in my room as they watched some lunatic on the news try to climb Trump tower. They were wondering what would happen first, would the baby come before the guy reached the top?

Around 6:00PM the doctor came to check me. “You’re ready to go,” she declared. My Dad was about to go get something to eat. “Go where?” He asked. “She’s ready to deliver,” my doctor told him. “Is this a good time for you?” she wanted to know.

“Sure,” my Dad said, “we can wait to eat.”

The doctor turned off my epidural and let it wear off for about half an hour so I could have some feeling of where to push. I woke up from my nap feeling totally rejuvenated. Everyone left the room except the doctor, one nurse and my husband. I  told them to turn the TV off because my baby was not coming into the world watching FOX News.

With the first push my husband saw the head. (I told you she was low). Twenty-five minutes later my daughter was on my chest at 7:04PM weighing 7lbs and 4 ounces. I didn’t feel a thing. We were all laughing when she was born. The thought of my daughter entering into the world to the sound of laughter and absolute calm filled me with endless joy. In an instant, everything and nothing changed. It was like my life before was a dream, and she was always there with me. My husband watched her take her first breath. He cut the cord and held my leg steady as the doctor delivered the placenta and stitched me up. I saw none of it. All I saw was my baby girl. It was everything I said I didn’t want, but exactly what I actually wanted. I felt energized and calm from my nap. The room was quiet and intimate. My baby was healthy. My husband took the baby and came over to me. We cuddled together looking at her endlessly dark eyes and I felt nothing but complete wonder. It wasn’t a scary childbirth story, it was one hundred percent wonderful.

HEY THERE. I HAVE NOVELS FOR SALE: DATING FOR DINNER, THE NEW YORK CATCH, NEW YORK SOCIALITE, NEW NEW YORK, (OR 3-IN-1 NEW YORK SERIES), RED ROCK CAFE, MIDLIFE WIFE.

 

I Am Losing My Sh*t

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I am 38 weeks pregnant and I am losing my sh*t. My cellulite laden arms and cottage cheese thighs are protruding SO WIDELY from my overly plump bosom and belly that I literally have to turn sideways to enter my apartment. And laying down? Forget about it. It takes me a full 3minutes just to roll onto my side, on the couch and inch myself up when the need to pee strikes suddenly, as it does, every fifteen minutes. (I am not even talking about my hips, which I am pretty sure will always be the size of an extra-wide shelf). From the beginning of my pregnancy I have made an effort to exercise and make healthy eating choices, and despite all these positive choices, I have still managed to end up–today–at 170lbs! A 45lb weight gain. 12 of those pounds amassed in the last 3 weeks. I could literally punch the editor of Fit Pregnancy magazine in the c*nt right now. Where is the f*cking fairness in this world? Meanwhile, every other pregnant woman eats donuts and cake and tells me, “can you believe I lost a pound since my last weigh-in?”

Pass me a mother-loving box of Pop-Tarts!

And what’s worse–this baby is showing no signs of budging. I had my first internal exam today, fully expecting to hear that I was on the brink of going into labor only to learn that I’m not even 1cm dilated. “Everything still feels firm” my doctor said as she removed her entire arm from my hoo-ha. Never in my life have I felt more like the rhinoceros from Ace Venture Pet Detective. Just like that it hit me: I will be pregnant forever. This baby and I will continue to grow at a rate of 4lbs a week until she inevitably sheds me like a snake sheds a skin, and emerges as a fully formed teenager.

That is when the palpitations began and the panic set in.

After 6 months of living in Zika exile, totally isolated from my husband, family and friends, it is safe to say I am cracking. All I want to do is have this baby and go the f*ck home. I have been walking up stairs, squatting down low to pick things up and bouncing on a freaking yoga ball for half an hour a day hoping that today–August 3rd–the day before my birthday, I would finally go into labor. And all for what? What bloody good did any of it do? I’m still 15lbs over the healthy weight-gain recommendation for pregnant women, which means I will never F*ing losing this baby weight. Well and good for someone who wasn’t swimming 100 laps a day and walking 2 hours every afternoon for her entire pregnancy–but not good enough for me. Not good enough for me, who literally killed myself NOT to gain more than 30lbs.

And don’t you even tell me to have sex to start labor! I am f*cking humpty dumpty over here. Do you honestly believe I haven’t tried having sex? I cannot even reach my hoo-ha. I cannot turn or bend or lay down comfortably. I cannot go 15minutes without almost urinating all over myself. And thanks to a miscommunication with a hairdresser, my hair has been chopped short and curly so I can’t even try to hide my bulbousness under hair that never really got that pregnant shine in the first place.

Still I tried, and after several attempts at sex, and much threat of death, I have abandoned the idea that I will ever successfully have sex again. Anyhow, sex is the reason I’m in this mother-loving situation in the first place–so keep your “just have sex” comments to your mother-loving-self.

Yes, I am very grateful that I can even be pregnant. I recognize that I am lucky and that my baby is healthy and that pregnancy is 40 weeks so I should just suck it up and gain another 10lbs in the next 2 weeks, but f*ck it. I am only human and right now I feel like a Mac truck with a two ton load who’s being told I need to learn to drive on water. I am drowning in this pregnancy, and I am at my bloody wits end!!!!

Tomorrow is my birthday. I told my husband that all I want is for him to get a vasectomy. I have never wanted anything more in my whole life.

HELLO! I HAVE BOOKS FOR SALE HERE PEOPLE. DATING FOR DINNER, THE NEW YORK CATCH, NEW YORK SOCIALITE, NEW NEW YORK, (OR ALL 3-IN-1 NEW YORK SERIES), MIDLIFE WIFE, RED ROCK CAFE. 

Pregnancy Survival: What You Really Need!

Hello Friends, I am writing to you from the surface of the sun (South Florida) during the depths of my third trimester. It is an understatement to say my every waking (and sleeping) hour is a challenge of survival, between the constant heart burn, leg cramps and incessant need to pee. However, as with everything in life, I have approached this as a learning experience. I can happily report that my research in this area has produced positive dividends for those of you who are seeking ways to make pregnancy a little more bearable.

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So without further ado, (because if you are pregnant in the summer like I am, you have suffered enough) I give you…

Amanda Hanna’s Guide to Surviving Pregnancy:

1.Get yourself a Snoogle! I cannot say enough about how this pregnancy pillow has saved my life. It’s so amazing I got two–one for me and one for my husband. (It’s not like we can cuddle while we snoogle, so why not let his back get some support too?) I have stripped my bed of everything save a fitted sheet and my snoogle. A light blanket is nearby in case my husband gets cold at night. I sleep in next to nothing, in full on AC and underneath a ceiling fan, sweating half to death, yet comfortably tucked away to dreamland. It is my only hope of truly restful sleep, in between waking up to pee every half hour for eight hours straight. Trust me! This is a MUST HAVE item.

2.Wacoal One Size Fits Most Panties:  Just because your ass is growing faster than the national debt, doesn’t mean you have a bunch of money to throw away on new underwear every month. Get yourself a set of these stretchy, comfy, amazing panties and you will never go back to the Cooch-Mooching Victoria’s Secret crap ever again. I only wear these panties these days and half the time I forget I’m wearing underwear at all. It’s that comfortable! In fact, this is something I will continue to buy in my post-preggo life.

3. Jessica Simpson Maternity Jeans: Name a day of the week and I’m wearing these babies. I bought one pair of these jeans for around $50 back in February and they have served me well through 20+ pounds of weight gain. I have two months to go to my due date and I predict these jeans will see me through to the end. They are both slimming and comfortable. The elastic waste gives my belly support and also allows me to tuck my Belly Buds in tightly so my baby can enjoy her music while I enjoy walking the Mall.

4.TUMS: How would I live without my midnight snack? They say the more heartburn you have, the more hair your baby will have when she’s born. Well, I’m giving birth to Repunzel. I am not a fan of taking medicine while pregnant, so instead of the stronger ant-acids, I rely on a steady combination of TUMS and milk (about a gallon every 3 days) to keep me from literally breathing fire.

5.Vitamin E Oil & Palmers Cocoa Butter: As a girl who went to bed one night skinny as a rail and woke up the next morning with a hefty pair of boobs and hips, I am no stranger to the stretch mark. That’s why I took a very liberal approach to skin care from Day Zero of this pregnancy and I’m happy to report (as far as I can see) I am new-stretch-mark-free! Twice a day (or more if you’re in a particularly dry climate) has seemed to be doing the trick. Vitmain E oil is also great for your lady bits to help prevent tears during labor. (I will have to get back to you on if this works later on).

So there you have it, my tips and tricks for surviving pregnancy. If you have any tips and tricks of your own, feel free to leave them in the comments below. Happy Gestating Preggos!

And of course, before you bounce please BUY A BOOK. I have several for sale at the moment: DATING FOR DINNER, THE NEW YORK CATCH, NEW YORK SOCIALITE, NEW NEW YORK (OR ALL 3-IN-1 NEW YORK SERIES), RED ROCK CAFE & MIDLIFE WIFE.

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