The time that I have been both dreading and anxious for is finally here. I am on my first deployment.
We left Savannah around 0900 on a Monday morning and rode the same plane all the way to our final destination on Tuesday night at around midnight. It was a loooooooooong trip over here.
First we stopped in New Hampshire. When we got there, there was an entire terminal dedicated to soldiers, airmen, sailors and contractors to enjoy some coffee and donuts before the long haul overseas. There were WWII, Vietnam, and current veterans there to talk to us and see us off. They even gave us a little history of how that terminal is there to provide support as the last stop before deployment. It was so sweet and they even did a short little ceremony where they said a prayer and sang the national anthem. It was an amazing send off!
Next stop, Ireland. They let us get off the plane, stretch our legs, grab breakfast and they allowed us to have one beer. We were in Ireland so naturally everyone wanted to try a Guinness and eat a traditional Irish breakfast. After we walked through customs and headed towards the restrooms, we see about 10 really tall, built dudes in black suits. I made the joke, “What are they secret service or something??”
Well….. yes. Yes they were. Lo and behold, Ivanka Trump and some White House staff were at the bar. It was midnight. We were in Ireland. And Ivanka Trump bought everyone a beer and breakfast. Probably the most random Tuesday of my life.
Next stop was Greece for a crew change. They told us we would be there for about an hour and to not get off the plane. I kept dozing in and out of sleep and every time I looked out the window we were still grounded! FOUR. HOURS. LATER. We finally took off to our final destination. It was brutal.
It has now been one month overseas. That’s one month of hard work. One month of heat. And one month away from my family.
We have officially reached Groundhog Day status. Living the same day every day. I wake up at 0500 and at 0545 I start my half mile trek to my work site. I work until around 4pm and then I go to the gym. Then it’s another half mile trek in the desert heat to go eat dinner, and another half mile trek back to the room. Needless to say, I’ve already lost 11 pounds since I’ve been here.
Besides the extreme temperatures and the even hotter wind, the hardest part is really just missing my family. The time difference is so drastic, that I can mostly FaceTime them just on the weekends. Daycare and bedtime are both tricky and if I want to see my family during the week I’d have to wake up at around 3am. Even though I work weekends, I still look forward to them because I know I’ll get to see them a lot.
When I get to see Noah it’s either so sweet I just want to cry with all the things he wants to say and show me, OR, it can get really heartbreaking because he’ll just cry and say “Mommyyyyyyyy”. It’s really tough when he’s like that.
Regardless of that, Cedrik is truly killing it at home. They have a good schedule, they’re eating good every night and all of Noah’s outfits match – which is a huge relief.
I turned 30 a few weeks ago! It was a very eventful birthday week. I was able to take my first day off since we had arrived here and it was going to be an awesome day. Except it wasn’t. Every week on Wednesday they do surf n turf. Since I had already tried it I went to go eat it again. I spent the rest of the afternoon and the following 5 days playing Russian Roulette with my guts. I had about a 10 second grace period to get to the bathroom. I went through an entire bottle of Pepto Max, drank what seemed like a million gallons of water and prayed to God to please let this not be the way I go. On the 4th day of feeling like an active volcano, I finally decided to take my ass (literally) to medical. In an interesting turn of events, I was told that 13 other people reported being sick from that exact same meal. Now, public health is getting involved and they’re doing an investigation. Cray-zee. And that’s how I spent my 30th birthday. Yayyyyyyyy-no. Now my diet consists off dry ass chicken, with some dry ass rice, and a salad. Yippee.
For entertainment over here I’ve been going every Thursday and Sunday night to play bingo like an old lady. On my one off day I have a whole routine. I sleep in and then I go get a coffee and a muffin. Then I go to the gym and just relax and play Xbox all day.
Ramadan just ended so I will start seeing about going off base and seeing what adventures I can get myself into.
I tend to ask myself this question every day. As mommies, we never feel like we’re doing it right, or less than perfect. So without further ado, here’s what kind of mother I am.
I am a hugger. No. A squeezer. I am a kisser. Like a lot. Right in the mouth. I am a Chick Fil A mom and no I don’t always order grilled nuggets. (So sue me). I am a baby wipe mom-to clean butts, faces, shoes, counter tops, chairs, my car, you name it. I am a “let’s get you to daycare in time for breakfast” mom. I am the mother of a two year old with a tablet newer than mine. I am a “he doesn’t need anything else” mom and then I later go buy way too many unnecessary toys. I am a nose picker mom. Shove my giant finger up that lil baby’s nostrils and fish those boogies out. I am a no shame mom. I am the mother of a two year old who still uses a paci. I am a mother who gets criticized for having a two year old with a paci. I am a mother who doesn’t care about being criticized about having a two year old with a paci.
I am a military mom. I check on my son at least three times before I go to sleep so I can soak in as much of him as I can before my deployment this year. I am an EXTRA squeezer here lately. I am a sad mom sometimes but grateful for technology for when I’m gone. I am a worried mom that he won’t always have matching clothes to daycare when I’m gone; or that dad didn’t scrub his hair enough during bath time. I am a stressed mom because I pay attention to the little things and dad is more a big picture kind of guy. I am a grateful mom. Without my husband, I couldn’t do any of it.
I am an oversharing mom. Everybody gets videos and pics of my son and I have no shame. I am a messy mom. But like, organized chaos. I am a dog mom and now I am a fish mom because my husband has no self control AND NOW WE HAVE 8……. *deep breath*
Finally, I am a proud mom. I made that kid and he is awesome. I am not perfect but I am perfect to him. On Saturdays when I look like a crazy bag lady all day, all my son wants to do is love on me and play.
Yesterday I made one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make. And today I had to follow through on that decision.
April 7th, 2009 is your birthday. I’ve had you since you were 3 months old! You were such a fun pup. My mom was so mad at me for getting you because I had a job at the time and she said everywhere I went, you went too! So guess what buddy? I took you to work, the beach, the bars and literally everywhere. You were my best friend!
I took you to Mississippi with me and we spent 3 fun years there too! I took you kayaking, I took you to the dog park WEEKLY, and I used to set up doggie play dates for you!
In 2010 I met Cedrik and in 2012 you met him. The second he walked through our apartment door you jumped on the couch and peed on it! I got so mad at you! I spanked you and sent you to your bed. But Cedrik came with Snoopy! You guys didn’t hit it off the first day but after the initial meeting, you two became BFF’s!
Cedrik and Snoopy invited us to come live with them in Savannah, Ga and we happily obliged! We got married and you and Snoopy became official brothers! We had so much fun! And you were never alone during the day again!
While we still had fun, I know we stopped doing a lot of the fun things I used to involve you in. We stopped going to doggie parks and I didn’t have any friends to set up play dates with. At least you and Snoopy had a big back yard to play in!
In 2015 I started getting really fat and cried into your fur for weird things, but you didn’t care. You were loving every minute of it! One day, Cedrik and I had to leave the house in a hurry and you were so confused and concerned! I gave you a pat on the head and said I’d see you soon.
Three days later I returned with another human! A little tiny one! You were so curious and stressed out that first week! Every time he cried, you cried. Every time I picked him up, you stared him down and sniffed him all over! I thought you two would be buds!
I went about this whole baby/doggie integration thing completely wrong. Every time you got near the baby I would say “No!” or “Go!” No wonder you were stressed out! And I’m so sorry for that. As the baby got older, you started getting more and more tense around him.
One day, the tiny human was playing with Cedrik and you thought Cedrik was being attacked! So out of instinct, you lunged at the baby and nipped him on his cheek! I screamed. Cedrik screamed. And you got a spanking. We were so angry at you, we discussed several options. Ultimately, you don’t just give away a family member because of one small incident so we decided to just be patient with you to see if you could get along with the baby.
Things were fine since then. Until yesterday. The tiny human got too close to you and you got so angry, you bit him on the mouth. He bled a lot. He bled so much that we couldn’t really see the damage so we took him to the ER. I screamed a lot. And Cedrik yelled at you and you got another spanking. Luckily he is okay and will probably just have a small scar at the most. You bit him hard, Zeus and it was very scary.
I’m sorry, Zeus. I’m sorry I didn’t do more research on how to get you ready for a baby human. I’m sorry I created a tense environment for you. I’m sorry I always got angry instead of trying to work with you.
Because of this incident, Zeus, I decided it is not safe for you to be near the baby anymore. I have decided it will be less stressful for you and more safe for the tiny human if you go live with my friend, Lyndsey. Remember her, Zeus? She used to go with us on all our adventures back in the day and you love her!
She has a dog named Charley and he looks sort of like Snoopy! She already loves you so much so you don’t even have to go with a stranger! I know she will take great care of you Zeus da moose. You will be much happier and much more stress free with her.
You will always be my first baby. My spotty boy. My lumpy head. My moo moo. My Zeus da Moose.
The end is near! I made a 90 on my fourth test and I have one more test to go before I am completely finished with this!
Cedrik and Noah are flying in next week! The anticipation is unreal… Every single day I wake up more excited than the last. It’s finally here. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I can finally go home soon.
This past week, I got to see Katherine again. We went tubing down the San Marcos River and it was UH-MAY-ZING! We know each other from growing up in Mississippi, so getting to float down the river was very Mississippi of us. I also invited a classmate and his fiancee to join us, and Kat invited one of her friends too. It was an awesome relaxing day. It would have been even better if I made it all the way through without losing my Maui Jim’s. I broke the first rule of river tubing: DON’T TAKE EXPENSIVE SHADES TO THE DAMN RIVER. *a moment of silence for the $200 sunglasses please* At one point I was thrown out of my tube because no one told me my butt was about to play the role of an anchor on an upcoming rock. That’s when I lost the shades. I also got stuck on a rock (sans float) while the river kept rushing against me. Needless to say, I look like I got into a prison fight and the other person had a baseball bat. Still, it was a very fun day.
Notice how I made sure I was tied to the beer tube LOL
These past 5 weeks, I have been amazed at how baby Noah is growing. He started to crawl the day I left home. He is now pulling himself up on everything and standing. All of those things I saw on FaceTime. Today, it happened. Cedrik took him to a baseball game and they FaceTime’d me afterwards. When Noah saw me on the phone he said, “MAMA! MAMA!”
I’ll just wait while you soak that in for a second
MY BABY SAID MAMA! I had to point the phone upwards at the ceiling while I burst into tears. Tears of joy because I finally heard my baby call me mama. Tears of sadness because I haven’t been able to hold my lil peanut in over a month and now he’s calling me mama. Four months of hearing him say da-da and I finally hear clear as day “MAMA” and its through a phone. It was truly a bittersweet moment.
This week has been unusually hard for some reason. Even though I have about 5 days until I see my family, I’ve been extra sad lately. I guess my positivity well is running a little dry and being away is slowly taking it’s toll on me. I just have to keep fighting and keep studying and stay focused for the home stretch. One more test and I am out of here!
I made a 100 on my second and third tests and nothing or no one is keeping me from graduating! I got my eyes set on the end and nothing can bring me down.
Before I came to Texas, I was told by practically everyone, even doctors, that I would not be able to resume breastfeeding after these 6 weeks. Well guess what? With a little determination, a LOT of pumping, a hope and a prayer, I have been able to keep a steady supply all on my own. TAKE THAT SCIENCE! (or is it biology?) All that work, an entire foam cooler of breast milk that never made it home, people telling me to just let it go… I overcame! In two weeks, I will see my lil peanut again and we can go back to breastfeeding until his first birthday like I originally planned. BOOM. *drops mic*
Baby Noah is a crawling machine and he just recently started pulling himself up on things to stand! *faints* I feel like I am missing everything 😦 I missed his whole crawling phase and now this… I cannot wait to squeeze that little guy.
Cedrik is still doing ok but I think his energy is slowly but surely starting to wear down. I feel bad for the hubs but I’m sort of glad he’s going through it. For the first 6 months of Noah’s life, he was working on testing for Master Sergeant. That means he would work 10 hours a day, and then come home to study. Or he would stay at work longer to study. So what did that mean for me? 24/7 baby duty. He changed the occasional baby diaper, but occasional diaper changes don’t even tap into your energy stash. Now that he’s doing everything, he’s had a front row seat to being a full-time parent, and full-time military. It’s tough work but we can tackle it together when I get back.
I went bowling with some classmates last weekend. It was actually pretty fun! There were TV’s at the end of each lane where you could choose what you wanted to watch in your lane. The place was packed and we had to wait an hour and a half for a lane, but luckily there was a margarita place called Chuy’s right across the street where we passed the time.
One of the nicest bowling alleys I’ve ever been to.
These were so comfy!
Last weekend I also got to see a very good friend from high school! Katherine and I are more like sisters, so it was so amazing to get to spend a day with her. This weekend we’re going on a super fun outdoor adventure, so I’m pretty excited we get to see each other again. She lives in Austin now, and I haven’t seen her in about 5 or 6 years! So much fun!
After this coming weekend, I will just have one more weekend to spend here before I start packing my bags for the trip back! Cedrik and Noah are coming for my graduation and to accompany me on the drive back. Knowing they are coming has given me more motivation than ever. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! Being away from your family really makes you appreciate every single minute you have with them. This has been tough, but I am on the home stretch now.
Just as quickly as this training began, that’s how quickly it is getting nearer to graduation day. Week 3 flew by in a flash and now I’m pretty much halfway finished with this course!
We have been jumping from instructor to instructor because our original one was on medical leave until Wednesday of this past week! He informed us that we were about 3 days behind on material, but that if we worked hard, we would still graduate on time. As if we weren’t stressed enough about passing tests… Overall, he seems like a great instructor and he prepped us well for test 2. I made a 100!! Woop Woop! 2 down, 3 more to go!
You remember that freezer full of breastmilk I shared a picture of in week 1? I shipped it home!
Countless hours I researched “How to ship breastmilk” when I was pregnant finally paid off. Thanks to YouTube and Google, I learned how to do this safely with a styrofoam cooler, dry ice, packing paper, packing tape, a box, and LOT’S of patience. Not to mention I had to stand in the post office with a giant box that had “PERISHABLE BREASTMILK” labels all over it. People were staring at me as if the box had said “BEWARE, EBOLA VIRUS INSIDE”. I held that box proudly and looked every one of those judgy bastards in the eye with a “And what?” smile.
And now for the bad news…
The cooler never got to Cedrik. It was supposed to arrive on Friday… Well, here we are on Thursday the following week and my shipment full of 3 week’s worth of breastmilk is turning into cottage cheese somewhere. I will be paying a little visit to the post office and expressing the importance of the liquid gold that is breast milk. And I learned my lesson. Next time, use UPS or FedEx…. Ugh…
On a brighter note, Lil’ Peanut is just getting cuter and cuter by the day! He’s crawling, holding his own bottle, and swears he’s carrying on a conversation with people. The other night I was Facetiming them and all of a sudden he just pushed himself up on Cedrik and stood up for a minute. So many milestones in the past month! At least I got to see it though. He and Cedrik seem to be having some amazing baby/Daddy bonding time which makes me really happy too.
I can’t express enough how FaceTime and the baby monitor have helped me get through this time away. Even though he gets to see me through the phone every day, I’m worried he’ll cry or not want me to hold him when he sees me in person. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.
This weekend I mostly studied, but I did get to see an old friend from Savannah who is stationed here now! We went to an adorable cuban place off the Riverwalk for dinner and spent the rest of the night at an Irish pub drinking whiskey and Irish ale like a couple of grizzly men. It was amazing!
Week 2 has been better than week 1. Training has me so busy with studying and notecards and homework, I don’t have time to mope and think about how much I miss my family. I’ve developed a nice routine.
0545 – Wake up
0600 – Brush teeth, do hair, get dressed, pump.
0645 – Go downstairs and eat breakfast
0700 – Head out for training
1100 – 1300 is lunch. Thank goodness for those 2 hours! I have time to eat, pump and take a little nap before I have to go back!
1300 – 1530 Finish up training day
1630 – Pump, Workout
1730 – Shower, dinner and study for the rest of the night
In between all those after-training activities, I try to FaceTime with the baby and husband as much as possible! Every time that little face smiles at me and flashes me those dimples, I tear up.
Sleep is hard to come by in a hotel with thin walls. I can hear little kids excited to go to Sea World in the morning stomping around all night. I can hear other people’s TVs. One night I heard rhythmic, Arabic/Muslim chanting from about 9pm-midnight. I had to call security that night. Not to mention, I’ve always loved sleep and yet I can never get any at night. And of course I just stare at Noah through the baby monitor until I fall asleep.
On a brighter note, I passed my first exam with a 94! Woo!!! One test down, 4 more to go! The sooner I can get through all this, the sooner I get to squeeze my loves!
The hotel I’m staying at has a stove, full fridge/freezer, and it includes pots and pans, plates, glasses, etc. So at least I don’t have to eat out every single night! I’ve been alternating between burger patties and chicken breasts this week. Lunch is usually a healthy choice steamer or a lean cuisine. I’ll have to alternate two other meats next week to switch it up. This hotel also has a “Social Hour” on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights. They cook or grill food and have free adult beverages for the long term residents! The best part, IT’S FREE!! I went last Wednesday night and enjoyed a baked potato bar and salad. It was actually delicious!
Training wise, everything is going steadily. Being on Lackland again for the first time since basic training has given me some flashbacks of getting yelled at in the 100 degree heat in the middle of the street. Ahhh, the Air Force. The good thing is, now that I’m a Staff Sergeant, most of the brand new airmen are terrified when they see me walk by and either pop to attention or get really nervous. You should see their faces when I’m like, “HELLO THERE!” and smile. It’s like they just saw a unicorn or something. I never yell at them. They’ve had it hard enough.
There are 17 students in the class and 5 of us are prior service. That means that we have all been in different career fields and are now cross-training into a new career field. The rest are NPS (Non-prior Students). Those are airmen are straight out of basic training. Being prior service has it’s perks in tech school. 2 hour lunches, we get to show up 30 minutes later than the NPS, and we get to leave 30 minutes earlier than them in the afternoons. Not too shabby.
As far as Texas goes….
On a scale of “Damn, it’s hot!” to “I’m melting”, I would say it’s about “Satan’s asshole” degrees outside. Like literally in the 100s almost every day. I don’t know how the NPS are making it marching everywhere. Let’s just say our classroom always has a certain “new airman musk”. I’ve learned to keep Febreeze in my backpack.
I decided to go be a tourist this July 4th weekend!
I mentioned last week that I would probably go to the Alamo and I actually got off my butt and did it! It’s pretty cool to see, but a little disappointing as well. Much respect to the Alamo and it’s history, it’s just a bit of a tourist trap. I didn’t go in because there was a huge line and the Texas sun was already melting my face off. But I did take some cool photos while there and bought a few souvenirs. In my mind, I pictured the Alamo being like out in the middle of the desert somewhere with tumbleweeds blowing around it – like the church in Kill Bill or something. Nope! It’s right in the middle of downtown San Antonio! Across the street there was the Guinness World Record museum and other novelty stores. I also went in the Guinness museum. Worst $20 I ever spent. It was like $10 more expensive than a Ripley’s, and 10 times smaller with more lame stuff. I definitely do not recommend that one. (Suddenly I’m a Trip Advisor review writer).
Saturday was definitely a day of firsts. I went to the Alamo, I had my very first Boba tea (bubble tea), and I went to ‘In n Out Burger’ for the first time ever. All three were pretty amazing. You already read my Yelp review above on the Alamo, that boba tea though…
It was definitely something to write home about. If there was a place to buy boba tea in Savannah, I would probably keep it in business all on my own. In n Out Burger was good but nothing too special. I gave it like a 7 all around.
I finished up the holiday weekend grilling out with some classmates at the hotel pool and waiting for the fireworks from SeaWorld. My hotel is literally 5 minutes away from that kill shelter…. I mean park.
It turns out, the fireworks were blocked off by the hotel itself and we could only see like the very end result of the fireworks…. I wound up going back to my room, putting on my July 4th “Merica” socks and FaceTime’d Cedrik and Noah for the rest of the night. Week 2 was good to me.
Those are a few examples of what I’ve been hearing since I found out I’d have to be away from my baby and husband for about 2 months this summer.
I know, I know. It sounds a bit dramatic. I realize there are mommies and daddies that are away from their families for a year or longer in military situations. I realize that in retrospect, 2 months is an overnight stay compared to what others have experienced. That being said, I haven’t been away from home that long since I went to Basic and tech school almost 9 years ago! I didn’t care back then. They could have sent me away for a year. I didn’t have a husband or baby. I would have gone. Things are different now.
The FIRST night away from my peanut was hard. The morning that I left, I just hugged him and kissed him and cried my eyes out and talked to him and took a video in bed so I could watch it every morning while I was gone. My eyes were super puffy from crying the night before too.
I also cried a few times in the car. Especially when the little receiving blanket I brought with me to smell him while I was away got some coffee spilled on it. “Hi, my name is Leilani, and I’m obsessed with my kid.”
I spent the night at the halfway mark which was Biloxi, MS. I was exhausted and sad and all I wanted to do was lie down. Instead, I decided to get out, go get some supplies for the other half of my trip, and ride around in Biloxi for a little bit. Luckily, my husband positioned the baby monitor so that I could see Noah in his crib like I usually do every night at home. That helped.
I’ve never been away from him for more than 8 hours at a time. And now, the first time that I’ll be away from him, it’s for almost 2 months. For a breastfeeding mommy, this has taken an emotional toll on me. My goal was to breastfeed for 1 year; now he’s almost 8 months and I may be finished. I’m one week in and still pumping – and very successfully actually.
Hopefully I can maintain a supply so that I can resume breastfeeding when I get back home. According to Noah’s pediatrician, my supply will slowly dwindle until it drops completely, due to being away from baby for so long. I will keep trying! I have to remind myself that it’s ok if my milk supply dwindles. I breastfed for 7 months and still the baby is drinking breastmilk due to all the stash I froze!
Besides the baby mama firsts, I’ve never driven so long in a vehicle by myself. 18 hours from Savannah, Ga to San Antonio, TX with an overnight sleep in Biloxi. That’s rough. Props to all you truck drivers out there. If I knew I had to make those long interstate trips for a living, I would probably choose another job. I’ve made the trip to Biloxi from Savannah before and it seemed like an eternity. However, knowing that I had to drive the same amount of time two days in a row (roughly 8-9 hours) made the trip seem like a piece of cake. No GPS needed for that one.
While I stay busy, I forget about missing home. My training begins at 0730 and ends at 1600. By the time I get back to my hotel, I have to do homework, study, workout, eat and get some sleep. But yesterday, Friday, I was really missing home. There was no homework. No alarm to set for class in the morning. It was just me, in my room, creeping on the baby through the monitor again.
It’ll get better.
This morning I woke up feeling rejuvenated and well rested. Something I haven’t felt since before I was pregnant! And even though it felt wonderful, I still missed my peanut and husband. #DatMomLifeTho
I’ll do my best to stay busy this next weekend away. Maybe go to the Alamo. I’m about 5 minutes from SeaWorld as well, which is actually free for military, however, after watching Blackfish, I just can’t. I could maybe check out Aquatica too. I would go to Six Flags but I may see if my fellow prior service classmates want to go as a group.
Cedrik is doing amazing daddy things at home. I left him a “Noah’s Day” checklist on the fridge to go by and it seems to be helping. We FaceTime at night which is nice. THANK YOU, TECHNOLOGY. Also, my baby has started to crawl. *cue waterworks* I’ve been away literally 5 days and he is crawling. Who knows what else he’ll develop while I’m gone! What if I get back and he doesn’t warm up to me? What if he cries out of sadness when he sees me again? I can’t think about that right now.
The quicker I get through this training, the quicker I can progress militarily and the quicker I can get back to my family!
The moment we had all been waiting for was here. Our little Peanut had finally made his grand entrance into the world and we were just in love.
As soon as they sewed me back up from the C section, they wheeled me in the bed to a recovery room of some sorts. I could see Cedrik holding our little guy as they examined him and whatever else. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on him! He was so little and gray and wasn’t making a peep.
The nurse was asking me questions (I think) but all I could do was stare in amazement. What just happened? A tiny human being – like a future businessman or police officer or actor or Patriots quarterback – just came out of me. Whoa.
Finally, the moment of truth.
“Are you ready to hold your baby and try to nurse?” – I don’t know who said it.
I was ready. 9 months of YouTube had prepared me for this moment. I already knew what to do: football hold, bring baby to nipple, stay calm, stare forever. The nurse tried to do her job and instruct me but I was steps ahead of her.
“You’ve done this before I see!”
“Nope. YouTube.” I said, proudly.
I was prepared for the “how to” portion of nursing. What I wasn’t prepared for was the bursting of emotions that would occur from it. You know that high pitched noise in movies when they pull all the sound out for a key moment and you see people’s mouths moving in slow motion but there’s no audible? It was like that. Tears. Just more tears. And more tears. Nurses were talking, but all I could zero in on was my little Noah.
He was just there, nursing as if he had been training for it in the womb. His little cheeks and mouth moving like he hadn’t eaten since he was conceived. I was aware that all babies don’t latch right away and that it might take some work. I was aware that breastfeeding wasn’t for everyone and that I might not be able to do it. I was aware that with a little persistence, a difficult latch could be fixed. I was NOT aware of the fact that a newborn baby had the sucking power of a fresh-out-the-box Hoover vacuum cleaner. Now THAT was definitely a surprise. A little grit of the teeth and it wasn’t that bad. *sheds tear*
Cedrik and I were just staring with tears in our eyes. At him, at each other. It was very surreal. After who knows how long, I asked Cedrik if he could tag out and send mom in for a few minutes. At first he didn’t want to leave so I just let him stay and enjoy the moment for as long as he wanted.
“Ok, I’ll send her in”, he said.
As soon as he left, I looked up and realized I was in another “bullpen” type room where I also realized there were other mothers recovering. Low and behold, someone left the curtain a little open in front of me. There she was…… Gypsie lady and her new gypsie baby (see Chapter 5). Instead of wanting to strangle her this time, I just smiled at her. She didn’t see me, but I was happy for her.
After a few moments, I heard my mom basically sprint down the hall and come into the recovery room. “Oh my God he is so little and looks like a tiny squirrel!”
We burst out laughing together with tears rolling down our faces. I don’t think I had ever seen that type of joy in her. The nurse then asked her to hold him while they checked both of our vitals. Of course she was overjoyed and was extremely eager to do so.
It was during this time two nurses wrapped me up in this big white velcro band. I was still numb from the morphine but I could feel the pressure from it. It felt like all my guts and insides were being held in place by a lovely hug. It was really nice.
Finally, they were ready to move us to our own room and they gave me Noah back. Mom and Cedrik tagged out again and we were all off to the private room together.
At this point, everyone was starving and I was informed to just eat juice and crackers because anything I ate post surgery would surely make me vomit. Obviously, they didn’t know they were dealing with ole Iron Gut (no one has ever called me that btw). Juice and crackers? Puh-lease. I sent Cedrik to get me a giant cheeseburger from McDonald’s and a Sprite. I ate the juice and crackers while I waited for him to return.
We enjoyed a few hours of family, baby and cheeseburgers and then it was time for everyone to leave around 6pm. It was just me, Cedrik and Noah again. Cedrik passed out because of all the hard work he just went through *wipes sarcasm off that last sentence*. So now it was just me and baby.
Now what? He’s here and I have no idea what to do. He was supposed to sleep in a little rolling bed/shelf/box thingy but I couldn’t seem to let go of him. The first night I just sat there in the hospital bed, holding him and staring at him. The night nurse came in and refilled my ice water like a thousand times. No one tells you how thirsty you get after having a baby! She checked mine and the baby’s vitals every 2 hours so even if I wanted to sleep, it would have been for nothing. Peanut pretty much slept the whole time (a trait I wish he would have kept) only waking for feedings every once in a while *RIP nipples*
I spent my first night as a mom having a staring contest with a little version of me, except I was the only one playing.
When the shift changed and a new nurse came in the next morning, she asked me how many diapers I had changed. SHIT! I guess I DO have to do that now. Cedrik and I looked at each other like OOPS and then I said, “Umm, none?” She just looked at me funny and said, “Yeah you may need to do that every once in a while.”
What I wanted to say was “Bitch, don’t you antagonise me, I just had a human sliced out of me like an avocado pit and all you can do is judge me for forgetting I needed to change diapers?!” But what I actually said was, “We’ll remember from now on.”
At my next vitals check, the nurse was checking my little hug wrap thingy and apparently I had bled all the way through bandages and the wrap so she took it off me and bandaged me back up, but didn’t put my wrap back on. I didn’t ask any questions because everything moves in fast forward when you’re in a hospital and I felt totally clueless. The next day when my doctor came in to check my wounds and when she noticed that my wrap wasn’t on, she turned into a nicer version of Maleficent.
“WHERE IS YOUR BINDER?!”
“My what?” – I said in a stoner voice
“YOUR BINDER! THE WRAP THAT IS SUPPOSED TO BE ON AND HELPING YOU HEAL! IT’S IMPERATIVE THAT YOU WEAR THAT THING 24/7 FOR THE NEXT MONTH!”
“Umm, the night nurse took it off?” – I was terrified. She was so pissed.
“WAS IT A YOUNG NURSE? DID SHE LOOK NEW? SHE MUST NOT KNOW WHO YOUR DOCTOR IS”
I watched my doctor have a personal little power struggle with herself and at that moment, the nurse walked in. I had a little mini heart attack. I thought for sure I was about to witness a homicide.
“WHERE IS LEILANI’S BINDER?!”
“She bled through hers so we took it off.”
“AND YOU DIDN’T THINK TO PUT ANOTHER ONE ON?! SHE NEEDS ONE ON AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.”
While I felt sorry for the nurse for being yelled at in front of me, I kind of thought the doctor had a point. Still, it seemed like all the people in the hospital were terrified of her.
After about 24 hours post birth, they removed my catheter. It was time for me to try to stand up and use the restroom on my own. Let me tell you, that sounds like nothing, but 24 hours after a C section, it seemed like they were asking me to go run a marathon. Just turning to put my feet on the ground felt like my midsection was just going to tear open like a ziploc bag. I was still on narcotics, so I wasn’t in THAT much pain. But no amount of narcotics can prevent ALL the pain. With a lot of help from the nurse and Cedrik, I did it. I stood up. And that’s about as far as I made it that first time. We tried again about a half hour later and we walked, very slowly, to the bathroom. Now to sit on the toilet… Well, I could write a whole other blog on just that but I’ll just spare you the details.
Just kidding I will tell you all about it!
It was bloody. Like SUPER bloody. It took about 5 whole minutes of just cleaning up in there. The nurse gave me these AMAZING mesh underwear. That’s not sarcasm folks, those panties were truly a miracle. So comfy. She also gave me these giant maxi pads that I’m 100% sure could have saved the Titanic from that iceberg scrape. Those were super sexy too.
The doctor told me that I could shower in about another 24 hours (2 days after giving birth). I was excited for that, and I also was terrified of it. I was barely starting to get the feeling back in my legs! When the time came, I was too scared to even look down at my wounds. I stood in the shower facing away from it and watched the floor of it fill up with blood from my midsection (and other places). I was so thankful that I packed some good smelling body wash.
Our last night in the hospital and we would be all set to go home with our little guy in the morning. I was able to slowly get in and out of the bed on my own, and I was able to stand at the sink for about 5 minutes to brush my teeth. That last night while Cedrik and baby slept, I had to fill out all the paperwork for his birth certificate, I had to read this whole packet on newborn care for the first few days, and I also had to read like a whole pamphlet on circumcision care.
The next morning, before we left, it was required for us to make an appointment with a pediatrician in 3 days. Crap! I never picked one! While I immediately got on my phone and started Googling local pediatricians, the nurse recommended a few to us so I basically just picked the closest one. That was done.
And now for the packing and going home part.
As if healing from surgery wasn’t enough, but I had to watch as Cedrik just shoved everything “wherever”. SOMEBODY was ready to go. We called for “transportation” and a nurse I had never seen before showed up with a wheelchair. Cedrik went ahead to get the car and mom stayed with me as they wheeled me downstairs.
ALAS! Cedrik had properly installed the car seat and we were about to take it and baby Noah for a test drive! Literally!
After waiting what seemed like an eternity, I was finally in the hospital about to have a baby. And by waiting an eternity, I mean in the waiting room… but I digress…
I was wheeled up to the third floor of the hospital where they posted me up in a room I liked to call the “Preggo Bullpen”. It was literally a big hospital room where me and about 5 other women were waiting to see who was going to pop next. We were all separated by curtains of course. It was pretty quiet except for all the little heartbeats I was hearing on the monitors in there. They told Cedrik to wait outside the maternity ward until they got me in a gown and hooked up to a monitor. WTF? This is my baby daddy and you want him to wait while I put on a gown? A little too late for modesty don’t ya think?
Anyway, my contractions at this point are pretty much the same as they had been for the past 6 hours but it was like Peanut knew I was in the hospital. So he went ahead and kicked up the pain by about 5X. They called Cedrik after about half an hour and they wanted to check me to see how dilated I was. “Gotta be at least like 6 or 7cm,” I thought.
“You’re about 1 cm right now.”- the nurse
What. The. Actual. ^#$%^&#%^&#%^&. All those hours, all this pain, and just 1 measly little centimeter? “Impossible,” I thought. These contractions were so damn painful, I’m surprised I don’t still have the bedrails attached to my hands. I knew we were going to be there for a while and it was just now midnight.
My worst fear of being sent home started to set in at around 2 am when the nurse checked me again and I was still supposedly at 1cm. Not only that, but I could hear the other baby mamas in the bullpen getting dismissed one-by-one. I kept hearing, “We’ll try again on (insert day here). Feel free to come back and see us if you feel (insert symptom here).” After a few hours I was the only one left in there. Just me, my husband, the labor and delivery nurse and my contractions. They couldn’t send me home because my blood pressure was like 1 billion over 1 million. All of a sudden they wheeled in someone who I believe made my contractions worse. We will call her “Gypsy lady” because obviously I caught a glimpse of her and she looked like a gypsy and she was speaking a language that I couldn’t quite figure out. Definitely a gypsy.
Gypsy lady was moaning so freaking loud, I wanted to tear through my curtain and hers like Godzilla through Tokyo and just put a pillow over her face. Not to kill her. I’m not a murderer. I just needed her to shut up. As soon as moaning Myrtle arrived, my contractions intensified. Not only were my contractions unbearable, but mine and Gypsy lady’s contractions were offset. “Leilani, what do you mean by that?” you say. It means the 5 minutes or less of “peace” that I had between my contractions were now interrupted by Gypsy lady’s loud, awkward moans. I get it lady. You’re in pain. I’m in pain too. We’re about to have tiny humans headbutt their way into this world through our pikachus. It’s understood. But right now, I hate you. I hate you, Gypsy lady.
After about an hour of Gypsy’s cries, I heard her doctor come in and tell her it was time and that he was going to break her water and “deliver that baby”. *JEALOUS*
I was hoping my doctor would swoop in and do the same. SPOILER ALERT: Didn’t happen. Regardless, they removed the gypsy from the bullpen and we were again alone in there. The nurse then came back and said she was instructed to give me blood pressure meds and keep me there overnight for observation. WHEW. Having high blood pressure sucked, but it sure as hell beat getting sent home.
Up until this point, what you see in the movies is definitely NOT how labor happens. Our trip to the hospital wasn’t anything like Hugh Grant and Julianne Moore’s in Nine Months. My water didn’t break like Charlotte’s from Sex and the City. And what the hell is lamaze anyway? Want to know how I got through my contractions? I didn’t. I died. And now I’m the reincarnation of my former self, sent to tell the story of how my first born came to be.
“Deep breaths,” is a joke. “Relax,” is an unrealistic command.
My mom arrived around 3am and shortly after they moved me to another room. I could see the little baby warmer station for when he was born and I knew I was getting closer and closer to having him. I was given a different nurse after I was transferred and to protect her identity we will call her “The Trunchbull.”
The Trunchbull looked very unimpressed with my contraction pain and very sternly told me “They keep telling me you ain’t in labor, but I see you. You are in labor.” Madame Trunchbull then took about 7 years in getting me some pain meds.
“On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate your pain?”
“10!” I yelled as my baby tried to leave my body through my belly button.
Trunchbull looked at her computer screen like “yeah ok”. And then she verbally gave me an “Ok.” She comes back with what I like to call “a miracle”. Morphine with an on demand button. It kicked in almost instantly and my contraction pain was but a horrible memory of the past. Suddenly the Trunchbull turned in to Mary Poppins and I loved her. I think I may have even told her that.
My husband thought it would be memorable to take photos of me during some of my contractions. Just imagine what those look like because you will never see them. My father in law also brought the baby a little foam Patriots football that I used to squeeze during my contractions. It will forever go down in history as the “contraction football.”
5 am rolls along and I’m still high on morphine and only about 6cm dilated at this point. It’s almost baby time!
6am-noon I was at 8cm with no sign of progressing. My doctor comes in looking energized and well-rested (that bitch). “I see no signs of progressing so I’m going to have to break your water. We are going to have to do a C-section. Is that ok?”
What was I supposed to say?
“Ok.” I said.
Immediately, my body went into a panic without me realizing. I was shaking uncontrollably. Up until this point, I had never had surgery. Not only that, but the doctor also said that only one family member could be in the operating room and I could see my moms face turn from exhausted to really sad. Obviously, my husband was going to be the person in there, and I knew my mom would be ok once she saw the baby.
Shortly after, the anesthesiologist comes in with a whole set up for the epidural. I don’t remember this, but apparently I told the guy he was an angel from Heaven. “I’m here for your epidural.” He was super friendly and walked me through what to expect. He said I would feel a pinch and then the fluid from the epidural would either run to the left or right side of my body. He told me to tell him which side. I felt the pinch and then I felt cold fluid on the right side of my back.
“The right!” I said. It didn’t hurt since I had been hitting that little miracle morphine button every 10 minutes for the past 4 hours, but it did feel cold and weird. Like I had somehow managed to pee on myself… from the inside. Whatever. It was weird.
The nurse comes back in with Cedrik’s “daddy gear” as I like to call it and tells him to put it on.
Before I knew it, I was being wheeled off to the operating room. My mom gave me a kiss and told me I was going to be fine.
I don’t know how long it was but I was lying there on the table and two nurses and the doctor transferred me from the bed to the operating table. If you’re ever going to feel like cattle being prepped by a butcher, this is the time. Not only was I the size of a cow, but now it took 3 (maybe even 4) people to move me from one bed to another, so I was really feeling like one. Since the morphine and the epidural were long since kicked in, I was totally numb. The only thing I could feel was my whole body trembling uncontrollably and tears running down my face! I could also feel my legs taking turns sliding off the table. That was another crazy part. My limbs were like dead weight, so they kept sliding off the table and I had to watch a nurse keep putting them back on.
At this point, another anesthesiologist was there pretty much coaching me through the whole thing. He sat in a round rolling stool beside my head and narrated the operation like a sports announcer or a coach.
“Alright Leilani, what kind of music do you like to listen to?” he says.
“I got you.”
So as Clocks starts up on the surprisingly amazing speakers in the operating room, they call Cedrik in so they can start the C section.
“Leilani, you’re going to feel touch, but you will not be able to feel anything else ok?”
Sure enough, I felt the doctor’s hands on my belly but I didn’t realize that they were slicing and dicing. There was a huge blue curtain that prevented me from seeing my own guts. To the left of me was the “coach” and to the right of me was Cedrik. He looked so calm and just kept telling me I was going to be ok.
During the C section the doctor was telling the nurse about her vacation home out in the country. Seriously.
Behind the “coach” I could see about 4 giant tubes that were filling up with red stuff.
Oh holy shit. That’s my own blood.
More tears. More shaking. I wasn’t in pain. I wasn’t scared. I was anxious. There was literally about to be another human in this room and in my life.
Coach says, “Ok dad get ready. When I say go, you’ll have time to peek over the curtain, take a photo and sit back down ok?”
Oh my God.
I see Cedrik fumbling through his doctor-like attire for his phone and prepare the camera. Meanwhile, I’m just waiting. More freaking waiting.
All of a sudden, I heard the most beautiful sound I have ever dreamed of hearing in my entire life and the past 9 months just flashed before my eyes. My baby boy. My Noah Hendrix Aiken. My little Peanut. My life. My love. My world. A little cry that wouldn’t scare a kitten.
“OK DADDY, GO!”
Cedrik stands up, manages to snap two quick photos and sits back down. He shows me the picture and I can barely see it over the Nile river of tears that has overtaken me. The doctor shows me my sweet baby boy and then they called Cedrik over to cut the cord, take more photos and help with cleaning him up.
It was over. He was here. Right in the middle of “Yellow” by Coldplay.