Friday, May 26, 2006

Maternity Madness and Midnight Chicken

So I thought I would pause from my growing up stories to share some wackiness from the labor/recovery room. I just had my second child last week via C-section and had some very funny observations and odd situations happen to me during my three day stay - so I thought I'd share them with you.

1. Ceiling Stains - First, the stain above my bed. I noticed right away as they wheeled me into the recovery room. It was directly in my line of sight anytime I laid down (which was often) and almost gave the appearance of a rusty flower or water stain. My hubby and I stayed up late the second night thinking of what it could possibly be. Besides the obvious and slightly creepy thought it was a blood stain dripping down from the floor above, my personal favorite was the "explosive diarrhea" theory in which some poor soul must of had to flip over rapidly and crap 8 feet straight up. Almost laughed my stitches out on that one.

2. Sleep Deprivation - They intentionally don't let you sleep the first night after a C-section. Usually patients come in with little or no sleep to begin with the night before, and after what is considered a major abdominal surgery, they systematically come in about every 20 minutes to wake you up. Just as you drift off you'll get this big BANG on the door and someone comes barging in to take your blood pressure (hello, just shot UP due to the frightening BANG on the door moments before), emptying the garbage (just got here, it's empty you fool), or taking your blood. My favorite is after you get your new baby to sleep for the first time ever, some nurse is SCHEDULED to come in at 2am, wake them up, undresses them, and take them of to give them a shot. They return exactly 20 minutes later with a screaming, AWAKE infant who wants to eat again. I equate the whole process to Chinese water torture.

3. What Dignity? - So with any surgery, they shave the area. With a C-section they cut below the "bikini line" to hide the scar. Well they only shave maybe the top 1/3 of the general area, but not the whole thing. Which leaves you with something akin to a nether-region mullet of sorts. You know, business up front, party in the back. Also they have to measure your urine output. Sexy, I know, but true. After you waddle to the porcelain throne then you are forced to page a nurse and announce to the entire nursing staff that you have just gone to the bathroom and could they come take a look see. Makes you want to gussy it up or something... add a flower or a sprig of mint. They've been looking at urine all day long, how can you make yours extra special?

4. Nourishment Heaven - So there's this little known place in the hospital. I actually conceived my second child just to get back to it. It's the nourishment kitchen for patients. Located conveniently down the hall from your room is the ultimate mecca for post-pregnant woman cravings. There's not much in the way of actual "nourishment", but it's a little slice of heaven. Refrigerators full of juices, Popsicles, ice cream, pudding, crackers, snacks. All free and for the taking. I felt it my duty to stock up and get my money's worth. I couldn't get enough pudding and free juice. They give you these big ol' cups that hold 28 oz (or 700CC's). I literally had over 20 of these full of juice and crushed ice over the 4 day period. My hubby added that up, and it's FIVE GALLONS of juice. WOW. That explains the mouth full of canker sores I've got now and the unending need to pee every hour. But gosh it was worth it.

5. Passing Gas gets you Better Food - Never in my life has this many people been interested in the movement of my bowels. The question on everyone's mind and lips, from nurses to random doctors wandering by the door... had I farted yet??!! After abdominal surgery the way they tell if your body is getting back to normal is if you pass gas. One nurse revealed to me that farting would put me on the fast track to better food! What what what? Apparently I was on the "soft food" diet, nothing too spicy and everything just perfect for a grandpa with no teeth to eat. Try as I might there was no gas the first day. Finally the second night at about 3am it happened. I triumphantly thought of paging the entire floor and announcing my news, but held back and just told my personal nurse when she wandering in at 3am to make sure I wasn't sleeping. The next morning they brought in the breakfast tray. What wonders would I behold? The day before it had been plain eggs and a blueberry muffin. Today I open the lid and... it was plain eggs and a bran muffin. Was I jipped? The only noticeable difference was that they offered pepper, and coffee instead of tea. What a crock. However it DID pay off the third morning when they brought in strawberry crepes and sausage. Now THAT's the kind a food a fart should earn my friend.

6. Nurses are Mostly Nice - but I DID flip two of them off. My nurses were the best. Many went above and beyond the call of duty, and were very sweet. Day two I went wandering down the hall for the first time with my baby in her rolling bassinet and two nurses were at the station yapping it up to each other. I approached them and tried to ask a question. My throat was sore and my voice was quiet due to the tube they stuck down my throat during the operation. They either didn't see me, couldn't hear me, or were blatantly ignoring me. I asked the same question three times and they acted like I was invisible. They ended up walking away from me and into an office. I double flipped them off which made my husband laugh uncontrollably to see his wife in a robe, next to our new infant, with a double-armed bird flipped in the air. I felt much better after that. This one other nurse barged in mid-day and I had a room FULL of friends and family visiting the baby. She announces to the ENTIRE room that she has brought me my stool softener. Gee thanks lady. I wanted to die. Luckily my wacky father asked if they could all have a stool softener too. She then I think realized there were OTHER people in the room. How nice.

7. The beauty of Midnight Chicken - Well as you recall, I was on the "soft food" diet plan for the first few days of my stay. I had been on a liquid diet the day before the surgery in an attempt not to throw up after it. So liquid the day before and nothing the whole day of. By midnight I was really really hungry. My parents had brought some chicken for my hubby to snack on, but all of the sudden that sounded amazing. We ended up sneaking a fried chicken picnic in our room in the middle of the night, with pudding to boot. Totally contraband and very mission impossible-esque. I must say it was the best tasting chicken I've had in years.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Hottub Bedlam

OK, so I have this great sister. She is an amazing, funny, wonderful person, a caring mother of three, and a women's bible study leader. Of course we've had our share of sisterly spats over the years but our friendship has always remained very strong (insert the song "Sisters, sisters - there were never such devoted sisters" from the movie White Christmas here). I can't help but remember the one time though that this thoughtful, inspirational woman once left me for dead in our hot tub.

We were out in the back yard one summer night hanging out in the hot tub, chatting away and having a grand old time. What we didn't know was that our dad was about to put some trash in the metal garbage cans on the side of our house. All we heard was the garbage can's rustling with a definite "clang" as the lid slammed down and immediately we thought "rapists" were about to attack us. Now I realize that a normal person would probably just think, hey, someone must be taking out the trash. We were not normal.  We were the kind of kids that used to run home from school at top speed (we lived less than a block away) if we saw a van heading for us in the off chance we might be abducted. After the shower curtains and harks we were a little punchy to say the least.

So back to the clanging garbage lids. We look at each other in a wide-eyed panic and then my sister springs into amazing action. In one quick motion she literally DIVES head first out of the hot tub, lands on the cement on her head and arms, clamors and crawls up the wooden deck steps (ripping her legs and hands to shreds in the process) runs across the deck, throws open the sliding glass door, runs into the house, closes the door, LOCKS it, and SHUTS the curtains. My guess is she kept running all the way to her room, not looking back for a second. 

Where was I, you ask? Well in that old "flight or fight" response I guess I choose... freeze. All I can remember is sinking down low in the hot tub, till just my eyes and nose were above the water, waiting for whatever it was to just come and get me. With the door locked and curtains closed, I really didn't have many options anyway. It was dark and still for a long time... then, to my relief, the curtains opened up, the door was unlocked, and my mom appeared in the porch light laughing. She had been startled by my sister's panicked run through the kitchen and my confused dad had just returned from taking out the trash wondering what all the hubbub was about. They just stood on the porch and laughed hysterically at us. 

My sister sheepishly appeared moments later, bleeding in a few places and pretty banged up. I finally found my courage to climb out of the hot tub, now that the threat of an immediate attack was over.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Beware of Harks!!

So we did a lot of family bonding road trips in my youth. I have ton of fun memories camping and going on day trip adventures around Washington. Of course, some road trips were more adventurous than others. Heck, even trips down the hill and through the valley to church could take on an other worldly spin if you had a good enough imagination.

Luckily for us, my dad was a never ending spring of imagination, however warped. Whenever we would drive over a bridge, whether it was one that could open up to let boats through, or something very large like the Narrows Bridge in Tacoma, he would always pretend we were running out of gas and the bridge was opening. He would unevenly tap on the gas to give the illusion we would have to stop any second. As a child you would envision the bridge opening up fully and your van out of gas sliding off into the murky water below. But that wasn't even the really scary part of our trip to church.

We lived on a hill and had to go through the valley to get where we were going. It was always foggy in the early mornings and many people would drive with only their fog lights on. Dad decided to tell us that those yellow lights were not merely cars, but glowing EYES that belonged to the legendary creature known as "THE HARK". Yes the terrible Hark that was half horse, half shark - or rather a very large shark head (with lots of teeth) on a horses' body. It could run faster than a train and traveled the valley looking for broken down cars (and especially children) to eat. Needless to say that our trips to church were never dull or boring - matter of fact I think it enhanced our spiritual life, as we spent most of the time praying our car wouldn't run out of gas on the bridge.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Always check the shower curtain...

OK, so I've decided to devote the month of May to sharing a little bit of my wacky, sometimes frightening childhood with you. You see I have this father who is a huge piratical joker. He lives for scaring the bejesus out of you and making people freak out. Might I add I'm a grown woman now, but to this DAY am leery of walking down the hallway at my folk's house if I don't know where he happens to be...

One of his favorite things when we were growing up was to hide behind closed shower curtains. You go to the bathroom and get all comfy and situated (yes, he'd wait until you were "in process") then he'd throw back the shower curtain with a gleeful roar and scare the literal crap out of you. Ah good times.

I can't tell you what kind of lasting effect this had on all of us, because my entire life, even if I'm at somebody else's house, I will ALWAYS look behind the shower curtain before using the bathroom. Heck I was 1,850 miles away at college and STILL found myself checking behind curtains just to make sure he wasn't back there. He not only like to hide in the shower, but also just to stand in the darkened doorway of the bathroom with the hall lights off and wait for one of us unsuspecting kids to come down the hall and walk INTO him. Quite frightening. Sometimes he was just his plain self, other times he used "the mask". 

I must tell you about the "mask" in it's own blog, because it was a big part of my childhood but it definitely needs it's own space of reflection. Anyway, now I'm grown up and live in my own house and I have an opaque glass shower door, which is perfect because you can not only always see IN to it but OUT of it as well. Very important.
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