Sunday, November 22, 2009

My Many Colored Days

I very firmly believe that postpartum depression is real. After Ei was born, I found myself anxious and angry and sad for no good reason. Prozac is a wonderful thing, by the way. I told my doctor, she wrote a prescription, I took a little blue pill each morning, and in a few months I felt better. It's hard when you're in the middle of it though. You've got this perfect little baby and a wonderful life and then your stupid hormones and sleep deprivation get in the way and make you cry because you're out of toilet paper in every bathroom and you start to think that if you can't even keep toilet paper stocked how are you ever going to remember to feed and bathe two children and what was God thinking entrusting all of this to you. If you've been there, you're nodding your head knowingly right now. If you haven't, just trust me.
It's not like that this time. If there's a such thing as postpartum elation, that's what I've got. I am so sleep-deprived it's ridiculous, but I am getting by on this baby high that feels amazing. All I want to do is hold him and stare at his face. The older boys are all doing fine (to my relief), my recovery was amazingly simple, the baby is healthy and nursing well, and life seems to be falling nicely into place.
And that's all. I don't have anything earth-shattering to write tonight. I just wanted to let you know that my absence in the bloggy world is not due to crippling postpartum depression or even being overwhelmed with my new life. It's just that right now I'm just content to sit and hold this baby and do nothing else. So, I'm going to get back to doing just that. He'll be big far too quickly.

Nolan, 12 days old

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Nolan Maxwell Sharp
Born Monday, November 16, 2009 at 10:30 a.m.
He's well-loved already.

His birth story is still whirling in my mind. It's wild. Let me share...

After much debate and discussion with my husband and my doctor, we decided to induce his labor on Monday morning. We were concerned that he might not have enough amniotic fluid because this had been a problem in all three of my previous pregnancies. I was disappointed because I really wanted to do this completely naturally. My doctor told me 2 weeks prior to the induction date that I was dilated to 3 cm and already 90% effaced, so I really thought I would have him soon. So I was also a little relieved to finally be done with the pregnancy and meet my baby.

We arrived at Parkwest at 5:30 Monday. They got my IV in and we signed paperwork, but nothing much really happened until 7:45. That's when they started pitocin to encourage stronger and more regular contractions (I had been having mild, irregular contractions for about 2 weeks). At 8:00 my doctor arrived and broke my water. She confirmed that I was still 3cm. They turned up the pitocin every 15 or 20 minutes, so it didn't take very long for me to be in hard labor. I was having painful contractions every 2 minutes (lasting about a minute each) by 9:00, and they gradually got stronger and lasted longer after that. I had signed the consent form for the epidural but told the nurse I wanted to wait to get it. The truth was that, although I had suspected I would need an epidural to get through an aggressively induced labor, I was disappointed about not having the natural childbirth I had dreamed of for so many months. So, just kept telling myself that I would wait 10 minutes and then ask for it if I still wanted it. After 10 minutes, I'd tell myself the same thing again. I kept watching the clock and, when the deadline came, setting a new goal time. At 10:00, I was holding strong.

At 10:15 my dad brought my children back from the waiting room where they had been playing. They were loud and busy. They climbed on the bed where I was laboring and made noise and broke my concentration. It was at this moment that I realized I couldn't go on for 4 more hours (I was expecting a 2:00 delivery, which was pretty consistent with the labor time for my second and third children, minus just a little bit due to wishful thinking). I don't know if the pain actually got worse at that point or if I just lost my concentration and ability to deal with it with all the noise, but that's the point when I could no longer look ahead 10 minutes. I told Mike to call the nurse and ask for my epidural. He gladly did. I guess everyone must have realized that I was in a lot of pain at that point because my mom took the boys back out of the room, and my dad left altogether saying that he'd be back around lunch (and not to have the baby before he returned). My nurse came in right away and went immediately about the business of preparing for the epidural. As she was unpacking the kit on my tray, I told her that I needed to use the restroom before the anesthesiologist arrived. She told me to wait because he would be there in 10 minutes and put a catheter in place. I assured her that there was no way I could wait 10 minutes, and she helped me unhook the 50 thousand cords which tethered me to the hospital bed so I could go. Leaning on my IV pole for support, I made it to the restroom, where I was hit with the most unbelievable contraction. I was dizzy with pain, and I felt pretty sure I was going to die in that bathroom. I called to Mike who helped me cross the room back towards the bed. I had another very painful contraction just as we reached the foot of the bed, and I stopped there to wait it out before I tried to climb back in. It was different though. This was no ordinary contraction. This was a prepare-for-your-death kind of pain.

I told Mike and the nurse that it was suddenly extremely painful. They ignored me, minus a few consoling pats on the back. I guess, "THIS REALLY HURTS!" is just something that women in labor exclaim, so no real reason for alarm. After repeating it over and over and OVER the nurse finally asked if I thought maybe the baby was ready to come. I told her I thought maybe he was already coming. Mike wanted to assure me that the baby was, in fact, NOT going to fall out of my body, but first he looked to be sure that he knew what he was talking about. That's when he said, "The head is already out!"

The rest is a bit of a blur, but here's what I know. The nurse insisted that I lay down on the bed, but I absolutely couldn't move due to pain and panic. So, Mike pushed me backwards onto my back. The nurse grabbed the towel she had just put out for the anesthesiologist to use and caught my baby with it (because she didn't even have her gloves on at this point) at 10:30 a.m. after 2 and a half hours of labor and zero pushes. There was a little nursing student observing (it was her first day on the maternity floor). She couldn't have been more than 18 years old. The nurse sent her out to get help, and she gladly bolted. Within seconds, a crew of nurses descended on my room. Meanwhile, the nurse who delivered the baby was cleaning him up at the foot of my bed. I hadn't delivered the placenta yet, and the cord was not yet cut. She wanted to wait for the doctor to do those things. The doctor did arrive quickly (out of breath from running from her office) and delivered the placenta. She discovered that it was abrupted, likely the cause of the "I might die" pain I felt while walking to the restroom.

The anesthesiologist arrived shortly afterwards. We thanked him but told him his services would not be needed.

So, minus the induced contractions, I got my natural childbirth. I would highly recommend it. I felt GREAT afterwards, and the high of what my body is capable of still has me smiling three days later.

Oh, and the best part? He's wonderful. He's tiny and squishy and velvety soft and smells divine.

And that's the story of how 7 pound, 6 ounce Baby Nolan was born and made his mark on the world. Welcome, little guy. I hope you always have as much enthusiasm for life as you showed Monday.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Parenting is hard. I've written that before, but this time is different. We're having a really hard time at the Sharp household right now, and I'm struggling. The big boys have started fighting, which I know is normal for siblings, but it's aggressive and ugly and makes me so sad. They refuse to clean up their toys. They talk back. The last couple of days I've been standing there looking at them, scratching my head and thinking, "What has happened to my family?"

Yes, I know we're in the midst of major life changes. The baby should be here any day now (the doctor said on Monday she'd be surprised if I lasted another 10 days), and that alone is bound to cause some ripples in our usually still waters. Aaron is outgrowing the baby stage and becoming both a playmate and a real nuisance to the big boys. We've started homeschooling, so our days are no longer full of free play (although we do still get plenty of that). So, I know that there's a lot going on in their worlds, and I've tried to be understanding. But enough is enough.

I got really strict about time outs. I started using a timer and had very specific rules about what constituted a successful time out. I was consistent, for the most part anyway, and tried to be calm but firm when sentencing. Aggression was a non-negotiable time out, as was talking back and acts of defiance. And they just didn't care. 5 minutes later they came bounding out of their time out spots, offering a half-hearted apology only because it was required. Nothing changed.

The other day I did something I thought I would never do. I spanked my child. Ei bit Jackson on his face, leaving a nasty looking bitemark next to his eye. I asked him why he would do something like that (not that there is any good reason, but I needed to know if Jackson also deserved punishment), and he said that they were playing ball and Jackson got to the ball first which made him mad. I wanted to cry when I realized that my sweet little boy had the potential to be so very mean. So, I spanked him twice, while Jackson watched, and thought that this would surely put an end to this recent streak of ugliness. Afterwards I felt like throwing up. I'm not judging others here--just being honest. I just can't figure out how someone can spank a child and walk away feeling good about her parenting skills. All day I wanted to grab Ei in a big hug and tell him how sorry I was, that returning violence for violence was a terrible thing to do. But I talked to Mike about it, and we decided that it might be good for him to see that parents do have bigger ammunition than just time outs and that he better get his act straight. We agreed not to use this particular method of punishment on a regular basis (in fact, I think I'm done with it), but we thought maybe some good might come of it. It didn't. He has bitten Jackson 3 times since then.

Today I walked into the bonus room of our house and took a good look around. There were toys (so many toys) on every inch of the floor, despite my pleas that they clean up for 4 days in a row. I walked the boys into the room and showed them what I saw and asked if they thought it was acceptable. They said no. They asked if they would still get their allowance this week, but they made no effort to pick up their toys. I wanted to bang my head into the wall. What have I created?

And so, today begins a new experiment in my parenting career. We skipped our regular trip to the library for storytime, and instead I emptied the toy room. I gutted it. While the boys screamed and begged for me to stop, I loaded up all their toys into boxes and took them to the garage. Afterwards we had a discussion about how they are not entitled to a room full of fancy toys, dessert after every dinner, and fun outings every day. I told them very calmly that they've become spoiled brats, and that I'm accepting part of the blame for what's happened because I'm the one who buys all the toys, gives them treats, takes them for outings, and doesn't expect an ounce of respect in return. And I told them that today things change. They will earn their toys back by keeping their room clean, respecting others, following directions, and refraining from acts of unkindness. Time outs will continue. Rewards (treats, fun outings, etc.) will be just that--rewards for good behavior, not a part of our regular routine.

Yes, this is poor timing. The baby will be here before we know it, and all of this will be put on the back burner while we just try to survive those first few weeks. Yes, it's going to be hard on all of us to change our old habits. But it's a good start, and I feel hopeful about things for the first time in weeks. Parenting is such an incredible responsibility. I have such a short amount of time to teach these little people to be responsible, compassionate, KIND adults. There's no room to be wishy-washy, even if it's more fun and seems to make the moment easier. I get it. I know this. Now, doing it is the hard part. Prayers, please.