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.
Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015. T-minus 12 days until delivery.
I went in for my 37 week ultrasound and I was informed by my OB that we needed to check into the hospital on the following Monday, the 9th to induce labor. Peanut was getting too big too quick and she didn’t want me to have a difficult natural birth. Well, neither did I!
That same evening while relaxing on my couch, I felt as if my brain was going to explode! The worst headache I have ever had in my entire life. It literally kept me up all night until 8am when I could call the Doctor’s office to ask them what to do. They advised me to come back in immediately and to have my husband drive me. I had already been warned of signs for preeclampsia (if you want to call a Google search “being warned”), so Cedrik went ahead and put our hospital bags in the Jeep just in case. When we got there, they concluded that the cause of this horrendous brain buster was a blood pressure reading of 190/100! They gave me blood pressure meds and some serious narcotics and sent me home. Ain’t that some crazy shit? You are definitely not allowed to take Aleve for all your pregnancy symptoms, but by all means, take these highly potent narcotics for pain. Your baby will be fine. Regardless, I was grateful for them.
We were still on for Monday the 9th. If all went well, we would have our little Peanut by Tuesday the 10th at 11am.
I couldn’t believe it. I had a date and a time for when this little guy would finally be here. A week earlier than I expected, but it still felt like an eternity since I first found out I was pregz. The little nugget that had been kicking and playing soccer in my belly for 9 months was finally going to be evicted and meet us.
What will he look like? Is he going to be huge like daddy? Or tiny like mommy? Daddy was 11lbs at birth so I was really praying that wasn’t genetic. Would he recognize our voices from the endless conversations we had with my belly? So many questions! And so many things to do before his arrival!
I woke up early Friday morning (12pm is early OK… leave me alone) and got started on my errands. I put a load of laundry in and headed to the grocery store. I get to Food Lion and I felt a little familiar pain in my tummy.
When I left the grocery store and was driving to the post office the gas pain intensified a little. Just a little. Not enough to disable me from driving, but just enough to make me angry at myself for eating that beefy 5-layer burrito for lunch.
“Ugh, freaking Taco Bell,” I thought.
I picked up my package from the post office. From Deutschland! My mother in law sent us a box with some adorable baby supplies in it! I thought it had gotten lost in the mail since she sent it like 45 years ago and I kept waiting for it. While I’m waiting to sign for the package, I felt like I really needed to get out of there in case this gas pain turned outward, if you know what I mean. I signed for the package and speed walked to the Jeep. I felt much better now that I was alone and didn’t have to worry about any accidental poofs happening.
I got home around 3pm and this gas pain would not go away. I tried taking some Pepto. I tried going to the bathroom. I tried lying down sideways. I tried an African rain dance. I tried freaking everything. Nothing was working. The pain was coming in little uncomfortable waves.
“Ummm…… am I having contractions?”
Well, I had done some serious research (Google again) for the past 9 months and I was totally aware of Braxton-Hicks contractions. Those are little practice contractions to get your body ready for birth, but they’re just like the dress rehearsal before the big show. I read countless and countless horror stories of women checking themselves in to the hospital during Braxton-Hicks because they thought they were really in labor, only to be sent home like 12-24 hours later because nothing was happening. I DID NOT, I repeat, DID NOT want to spend 12 pointless hours in a hospital, when I could just be in my own house. So I just ignored it and let it run it’s course.
Cedrik is still not home. It’s Friday before drill and he always stays late. I called him.
Cedrik: “Command Post, Sergeant Aiken.”
Me: “Ummm boo? I don’t want you to panic, but I’m pretty sure I’m having contractions. I’m pretty sure I’ve been having them since like noon today but I just realized what was happening.”
Cedrik: “WHAT? Do you need me to come home?? Do we need to go to the hospital??”
Me: “Nah. I’ve never felt this before so it’s probably those fake contractions I was telling you about.”
Cedrik: “Ok. Just try to relax and I’ll be home in about an hour. Call me immediately if something goes down.”
“If something goes down.” Like he was waiting for a basketball game score or something.
“Ok I will.”
It’s coming in waves and I can’t even concentrate on anything. I just want to lie down and wait for this to pass.
But it’s really not that bad. Every 5 minutes I get a little crampy for about a minute and then it goes away. Nothing to write my congressman about.
Contractions are between 5-7 minutes apart and I still feel like I can handle it. I REALLY REALLY, I mean REALLY do not want to go to the hospital for no reason. At 7:15 I start timing my contractions. There’s literally an app for that.
Cedrik gets home around 8 o’clock. It had been about an hour since I started timing my contractions, but it was like they waited for him to get home to really let me know what was happening. As soon as he walked through the door, the pain was really intensifying.
“Yeah we really need to go to the hospital. I can’t see you like this much longer.”
I don’t know what other people’s experiences are like moments like these, but mine was very calm. I didn’t panic. I didn’t yell. All I said was….
“Are you kidding me?!?! I can’t go to the hospital looking like this! People are going to be checking my “stuff”! I need a bath! We need to eat something! And the house is a wreck!”
My husband looked at me like I had seven eyeballs. “Who cares about the freaking house??! And how can you eat at a time like this?? I need to get you to the hospital NOW!”
I started running my bath like a crazy lady.
“You go to Arby’s, get me a turkey wrap. When you get back, if this bath hasn’t helped with the pain, then we’ll go to the hospital.” Suddenly, I’m barking orders like an Army general.
He wouldn’t leave. “I don’t want to leave you like this.”
“Just go,” I said, sounding all Lifetime movie-esque.
His ADD kicks in and he starts filming me. Yes you read that right. He started filming me while I was in the tub. A video that Jesus himself will never see if I make it to Heaven. I imagine it looked something like Jesse rescuing Free Willy and having no place to put him, so he put him in a bathtub.
Finally I convince him to leave. He brings me my cell phone just in case I need to call him while I’m in the tub. I mainly just used it to keep timing contractions.
Another half hour goes by and this contraction situation is the weirdest thing I’ve ever experienced. During the minute or so of the contraction, it felt as if Satan himself couldn’t find a portal to this earth in that moment so he chose my insides. The second – I mean the very second – the contraction was over, it was like nothing had happened. I was totally fine between them and it was very peaceful.
Cedrik comes back with some bags from Arby’s and I cannot wait to munch down on that turkey wrap. He starts getting his things together for the hospital.
“You need to eat,” I said.
“HOW CAN I EAT WHEN MY WIFE IS ABOUT TO HAVE A BABY AND ALL SHE WANTS TO DO IS TAKE A BATH AND EAT AND CLEAN THE HOUSE?!?!?!”
Damn. Who’s having the contractions again?
I put on a dress (because that’s the only thing that fits at this point), I threw on a strapless bra (because if I needed to take that joker off, I wouldn’t have to fumble with straps), I threw my hair up in a ponytail and I started eating while Cedrik just kind of stared at me in awe. Every time I had a contraction, I was literally on my knees in pain for a minute. Every time it ended, I would just go back to eating like a Fatty McFatFat. Meanwhile, Cedrik was pacing the house trying to figure out what to do.
“Call the doctor”, I suggested.
Of course the doctor’s office was closed at 9pm on a Friday but there’s always an on-call nurse. Cedrik calls the doctor’s office and hits the number for the on-call nurse.
I can’t hear what she’s saying but I can hear Cedrik.
“Uhhh yes…. I think my wife is in labor. Should we go to the hospital?”
The nurse tells him that we can check into the hospital if we want to, but it would be more comfortable to wait out the contractions at home too.
See? Even the nurse says I’ll be fine. I called my mom and tried to explain very calmly what was going on. “OK I’LL BE THERE AS FAST AS I CAN,” she says in a panicky voice.
For the next hour, we contemplate whether or not we should go to the hospital. We could either A.) spend a pointless day at the hospital with no baby OR B.) spend the night at home contemplating if I’m in labor or not and wondering if I could have had drugs this whole time.
11pm rolls around and Cedrik has had enough of watching me go through this. “Stop timing them. We’re going. Let’s go.”
He eats his 2 hour old Arby’s sandwich in like 2 bites and starts turning everything off in the house. Our dogs could tell something was up this whole time too. They would just look at me all sad every time I was fighting through a contraction. And when they saw Cedrik loading bags in the car, they definitely knew something was “about to go down” as he would put it. I gave them a kiss goodbye and told them I would see them soon. That Sarah McLachlan song played in my head as I left them. You know the one.
We get in the Jeep and in between contractions, Cedrik and I are like two giddy little girls. Is this it? The moment we’ve been waiting for since February?? It isn’t at all like the movies. I called my mom again.
“Mom, we’re on the way to the hospital. Better safe than sorry.”
“OK I’LL BE THERE SOON! I CAN’T THINK!”
I could hear the panic in her voice again.
Cedrik calls his dad and all we can hear is club music in the background. “Hey you! We’re partying! What’s going on?”
“Well, I am taking Leilani to the hospital. I think this is it, dad” he says.
There was a silence on the phone followed by “Ok. Ok. Ok. Ok. I’ll be there as fast as I can.”
We get to the E.R. and the lady at the front desk takes one look at the planet I was smuggling inside my dress and says, “Labor?”
“I think so,” I say.
“L&D!” she screams very dramatically.
They send me to the VIP section of the E.R. where the preggos and missing limbs go to get checked in. The lady checking me in seemed very enthusiastic about her job and seemed like she loved it. Not. Luckily, I had already provided the hospital with all of my information a few days before so that I wouldn’t have to go through all of it when it was time.
“Someone will be down to get you in a minute.”
That minute seemed like an eternity. There were people coughing in the peasants section of the E.R. There was a guy who walked down the hallway reeking of pot. Pretty sure Cedrik and I got a contact high from it. There was a couple who looked like they came straight from the club who would not stop staring at me or my belly.
A nurse finally comes down the hallway with a wheelchair and I give a huge sigh of relief.
“Ya’ll ready?” she says in a low Southern drawl.
“We think so.”
The next 12 hours were going to be simply life changing.
If you ask different mothers what the most difficult part of their pregnancy was, you will probably get different answers each time. Nausea. Heartburn. Indigestion. Upset stomach. Diarrhea. And while those answers may sound exactly like a Pepto Bismol commercial, they can prove to be not as entertaining.
I was actually very lucky. I never had vomiting or weird bipolar moments (that I know of). There was one time where I can recall getting randomly sick. Cedrik made me laugh too hard as we were coming back home from dinner and I just projectile vomited from the entrance of our house, all the way to the bathroom. I was mortified. It was like something from Supernatural. Even though my husband was SUPER nice about it and even cleaned most of it up, he still had that “I’m going to call Sam and Dean” look in his eye after it was over. He told me 100 times not to worry about it, so I didn’t. Not only was I hot air balloon pregnant and feeling extremely un-sexy already, but now I just added another bullet to the “reasons my wife is gross” list that I was sure Cedrik was keeping somewhere.
I never sent my husband on strange missions to get weird food in the middle of the night. I kept hearing stories of pregnant women doing that. The key words here are: “In the middle of the night”. In the middle of the day, I had no problem asking nicely. Him being the supportive husband he is, and also to avoid any problems out of a pregnant Puerto Rican wife, he would take his happy-go-lucky attitude to wherever I asked. Mostly to Sonic to get me a DEELISHUS crack cocaine slush – I mean blue raspberry. Thanks boo.
Sleep has always been a challenge for me as most of my college roommates can tell you. I swear I’m part vampire. Being preggo didn’t help either. But I think that was mainly due to my without fail 4pm daily naps. I mean it was like clockwork. Get home. Take uniform off. Nap. And once I stopped working it was more like wake up at 6am just to eat, go back to sleep, wake up at 10am just to eat, go back to sleep, wake up at 2pm and pretend to feel guilty. Oh and of course to eat.
There’s only one symptom that truly destroyed me during my pregnancy. HEART-muthafuckin-BURN *Samuel L. Jackson voice*. It happened very suddenly. No heartburn that I can recall in 27 years and then BOOM. The 7th layer of HELL had erupted right there in my chest. I would literally have my mouth gaped open trying to release the burn. Just take a minute, close your eyes, and envision me in bed, in the dark and silence, with my eyes and mouth wide open like a hooked fish. Ridiculous. Tums you say? HA! Those little chalky bullshits did nothing except make me regret eating them. Seriously, everyone who has ever bought Tums should get a refund. Whatever.
In addition to the no sleep and heartburn, two very strange things happened during my 9 month baby baking session:
1. The texture of toothpaste in my mouth made me want to puke every morning and night
2. I disliked bacon very much. *gasp*
That second one was exceptionally difficult to deal with.
Besides the bad heartburn, my dislike for toothpaste and my unfortunate hiatus from bacon, it was nothing in comparison to the hardest part of my pregnancy – THE WAIT. Being in the military has prepared me enough for “hurry up and wait” but this was just too much! Waiting for the first doctor’s appointment. Waiting for the first ultrasound. Waiting to find out the sex. Waiting for every doctor’s appointment to make sure everything was ok. Waiting to feel the first sign of a kick or movement. Waiting for the nurse to hear a heartbeat. Waiting for the doctor to tell me everything was all ok. Waiting for the paint to dry in the nursery. Waiting for the baby shower.
WAIT! WAIT! WAIT!
If you have never been pregnant, you should know that midway through your pregnancy, they make you take a blood glucose exam to check you for gestational diabetes – which is basically just diabetes during pregnancy only. You don’t eat anything after midnight the night before and when you come in they make you drink something that tastes like a bucket of sugar fell into a Gatorade vat (not bad actually). Then they make you wait an hour while the drink kicks in and you feel like you’ve been roofied and then they take your blood. They call you the next day or two to let you know if you passed or not. Another wait. If you pass, you’re good to go. If you don’t pass *cough cough* you have to come back in another time for a 3 hour exam. It starts off the same as the first except after you drink the sugary Gatorade you wait an hour, they take your blood, and then you have to repeat about 2 more times. So that means you’re starving all night, you get roofied, and then you’re held prisoner at the doctor’s office for 4 hours so they can finish the test. They should really consider this method of torture down in Guantanamo Bay.
Even when I needed to call the doctor’s office, their messaging system makes you WAIT. You have to leave a message for the nurse and if it isn’t an urgent matter, they’ll get back to you within 24 hours. Another wait. Don’t they know every matter is an urgent matter when you’re pregnant! Luckily they never made me wait long.
The worst wait was obviously waiting for the baby. I knew he was coming regardless of whether or not I was ready, but it seemed like we were working this never-ending to-do list! No matter how many things we did, there was always something else to do. According to my mom, I needed to get my butt in gear because that baby wasn’t going to wait for me to be ready!
I decided to go with my husband’s words of wisdom instead: “It’ll all work itself out. Just relax.”
I remember thinking “THAT Day” was the happiest day of my life – even after the hot mess and excitement. I was happy, my husband was happy and both of our families were so supportive and genuinely excited. On April 1st, 2015 I hopped up on an exam table, had a pint size ultrasound technician lube up my belly like a Thanksgiving turkey, and put my insides on display on the big flatscreen in front of me. It was then, I saw and heard the most beautiful thing I had ever laid my eyes and ears on. “Peanut”. That little heartbeat was going a million miles a minute. And just like that, I was in love with someone I had never even met yet. I think I even hugged my own belly.
After “THAT Day” and the happiness surrounding the first sight of Peanut, I had a whole new list of questions I needed answers to. The main one being “is it a boy or girl?” My OB informed me that we would find out at my 20-week ultrasound. Well, 20 weeks can seem like an eternity at 8 weeks pregz. So naturally, I turned to the inter webs for assistance.
First of all, when you Google “how to tell if it’s a boy or a girl” you get all these quizzes that ask about different symptoms, how you’re carrying, your weight gain, skin complexion, mood, etc. And then I came across some websites that provided you with things to try at home to determine the sex of your unborn child – the doctor doesn’t even know yet. One site said to tie your wedding ring to a strand of your hair and hold it over your belly. If the hair swung the ring in a back and forth motion, it’s a boy. If it swings in a circular motion, it’s a girl.
What sort of voodoo witchdoctor got on Google and told people to try this? I had so many questions. What if I wasn’t married and didn’t have a wedding ring, but I wanted to know the sex of my baby? What if a bald woman Googled the same thing and was all, “Damn, too bad about that hair part.” Were there other alternatives then? Like a frog’s tongue or a snake eye?
Being Puerto Rican, I tend to stay away from those brujerias (Google it). And also, having lived in Mississippi and visiting New Orleans way too many times, I keep AWAY from the voodoo. KEEP. AWAY. I saw Skeleton Key, I know what happens. *makes Holy Trinity sign*
So a week later at work, yours truly here was tying her freaking ring to a strand of hair. *sigh*
A coworker and I held the hair-suspended ring over my belly and ALAS! It swung back and forth! IT’S A BOY! We even purposely tried to make it go in a circular motion and it went right back to the back and forth motion. WEIRD.
So far, I was convinced it was a boy. It’s like I just knew it from THAT Day. My mom tried to tell me to keep an open mind so that I wouldn’t feel disappointed if it was a girl. “I am mom”. Secretly I really wasn’t. I knew it was a boy, damnit, I just knew it!
The next few weeks leading up to the ultrasound were the slowest weeks of my life. I wanted to shop for the baby but I didn’t want to buy stuff for the wrong sex! I didn’t want to buy neutral baby clothes. If it was a girl, I would buy her the girliest girly girl princess unicorn cotton candy tutus I could find. If it was a boy, I wanted to get Patriots gear, dinosaurs, bow ties, mustache gear, etc. My mom, however, had a master plan. “Let’s just buy clothes for both sexes and when we find out, we’ll return the other ones!” She was already in training to be the best grandma ever. My master plan involved just staying away from the baby stores until after week 20. Good thing they literally just built an outlet mall nearby with 47 new baby stores, otherwise, I would have been tempted……….
Finally, the day we had been waiting for had arrived. I laid out my outfit the night before to go to the appointment. My mom, Cedrik and I were all going to meet at the doctor’s office. She was coming from out of town, Cedrik only had a short break from work, and I was just trying to get there. I couldn’t believe it. We were about to find out what Peanut was! On the drive there, I’m playing visions in my head of us crying embarrassingly in front of the ultrasound tech.
My cell phone rings. It’s Cedrik. “Oh he must be there already,” I thought. “Hey boo….” He sounded really disappointed. I instantly started crying. All he said was “hey boo” but what I really heard was “I can’t come”. Sure enough, there was a deployment headed out that day and due to airplane maintenance issues, it was delayed. Guess what that means? Cedrik has to stay until it gets fixed. FML. It’s 8AM in Savannah. I’m stuck in traffic bawling my eyes out at the wheel, 20 weeks pregnant, about to find out the sex of our child, and I was alone. My mom was meeting me there, but in that very moment, I was alone. He could tell over the phone I was about to lose it. He promised that he was going to do everything in his power to meet up with me that morning, but I ended the conversation very quickly before I could turn the waterworks on HIGH.
I decided I couldn’t let my mom or the nurses or Peanut see me like that so I stopped at a nice gas station to splash water in my face and to buy a Pepsi. Pepsi solves everything. After I composed myself and got back in the Jeep my mom calls, “Helllllllooooo where are youuuuuu? I’m here already, HURRY!”
“Stuck in traffic. Almost there.”
Instantly, I went from feeling sad, to just as excited as before. Why was I crying? AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT! This is the day I had been waiting for! I couldn’t be sad. I WASN’T GOING TO BE SAD! So what if Cedrik couldn’t make it because he’s a slave and the military owns him? So what if we had to wait a little later? I got this… Woman up, Leilani! Weird ass pregnancy bipolar hormones.
I walked into the office and the lovely nurses working the front desk didn’t recognize me out of uniform at first until I told them my name. “Oh hi! Today’s a big day!” Yes… Yes it is. As my mom and I sat in the waiting area, we discussed that we were going to ask the ultrasound technician to write the sex down and put it in an envelope. That way, we wouldn’t have to find out without Cedrik, and we could all cry sans embarrassment.
“Leilani to the back please”
EEEEEEK! I’m pretty sure we teleported back there. Before she could fire up the machine I told her that I didn’t want to know the sex and to please write it down for us. Right then and there I get a text from Cedrik. “Leaving work now.” I knew he wouldn’t make it in time for the ultrasound, but at least we wouldn’t have to wait all day to find out!
We get to the part where she’s checking out the sex and she says “Ok I’m about to look and see.” My mom and I turned our heads away from the flatscreen in front of us and just looked at each other while she took her pictures and typed what it was. We were like two giddy school girls in there. Thank God for her being there.
“Ok I’m done”
About half an hour later and she’s finished taking measurements and doing whatever else she had to do. She gave us a folded ultrasound picture with the word “GENDER” messily written on the outside with a janky ass pen. Whatever. I spoke with the doctor and she said all was well.
Cedrik was meeting us afterwards for brunch and I couldn’t wait to zoom to our favorite breakfast spot! I left my Jeep at the doctor’s office and hopped in the car with my mom. WE WERE SO EXCITED! When we got to the restaurant we see Cedrik walking towards the front door. I rolled down my window Russian mafia style.
“GET IN!” I yelled.
He gets in and we are all on the edge of our seats. We decided to let Cedrik open the picture. When he opened it, it was upside down, but that didn’t matter. I saw three tiny little letters upside down.
I screamed “IT’S A BOY!” and I busted out into the happiest ugly cry of my life. We had like a mini happy cry-fest……. right there in the Original Pancake House parking lot. Good thing for tinted windows.
So it’s settled. Our little Peanut is a boy. Now we can browse ONE section of the baby stores instead of two. Now we can obsess over coming up with just boy names. The night before the big ultrasound I made two lists on my phone of my favorite boy and girl names. I deleted the girl list.
We sat in the car for what seemed like an eternity just staring at the ultrasound pictures and crying and texting and calling everyone. I totally forgot we were at the restaurant! The three of us waltzed into the place with big ridiculous grins on our faces. We were seated immediately.
“Can I get y’all something to drink?”
“I JUST FOUND OUT I’M GOING TO BE A GRANDMA TO A BABY BOY!”
………. Oh mom.
“She’ll have the fresh squeezed orange juice and some fruit. Gotta make sure he’s a strong healthy boy.”
……… Oh Cedrik.
I knew the next 20 or so weeks were going to be an adventure.
(Dear son, when you’re old enough to read this I just want to apologize in advance for displaying your baby genitals on the internet for the world to see)
Ten months ago, I’m sitting at my desk at work thinking, “Damn, my boobs hurt.” So obviously, I needed to get home and rip that bra off. Except, I got home, took my bra off and my boobs still hurt. Hmmm… “Stress,” I thought. One whole week later and I could barely stand under the freaking shower stream without feeling like there was someone hitting me with buckshot. Another week later I get an app notification on my cell phone… “Did you forget to input your period this week?”
Oh damn… I guess I did… But not because I forgot. Because that shit DID NOT COME. Instant “freak my shit” mode kicks in and I ask my boss if I can take a longer lunch than usual. Guess I’m going to CVS to buy an unnecessarily overpriced pregnancy test – you know, because rich people get better results. I get to CVS and my heart is about to jump right out of my uniform top. I had no idea I could have so many thoughts while walking through the pharmacy. What if I AM pregnant… Would I even be a good mom? What if it’s negative? Will I be disappointed? Is Cedrik ready for a baby? How will I look in uniform? Will I be cute pregnant? Seriously…. I get to the counter and the dude is looking at me like “Mmm hmm I know what you did…”. So I paid my $30 and snatched it out of his hand and got the hell out of there.
They say don’t text and drive, but there should really be a “don’t stare at your pregnancy test and drive” disclaimer because that is exactly what I did on the way back to work. I asked for a long lunch but who was I kidding, there was no way I was going to eat anything! Not now! As I’m approaching the gate I feel like everyone in the world knows that I’m about to pee on a stick. I hid my pregnancy test in between the seats as if I was concealing a weapon. I pulled out my ID and gave it to the MP and I felt like I was smuggling explosives. “Have a good day, Sergeant,” he said. Whew….. As if I just got away with something.
As I got closer to my building I could feel my face getting red and my heart was slamming the inside of my chest at this point. “How am I going to sneak this test in?” CARGO POCKETS! I took the test out of the bag and I opened the box and shoved the 3 tests into my cargo pocket. Smooth.
The longest walk of my life was to the bathroom that day. I had tunnel vision and all I could see was the toilet. That’s where I was headed trying to look calm and dying a little on the inside at the same.
“Hey did you eat already?” My boss.
I must have looked like a deer in headlights. “Umm yes… no… I… I’ll meet you in the break room.” *facepalm* Finally, I reach the bathroom. It is completely empty. Now it is just me and my 3 pregnancy tests…… because you already know I used all 3.
PREGNANT. PREGNANT. PREGNANT.
How the hell was I supposed to sit in the break room with my boss, eating lunch and pretending like all that didn’t just happen. Now I had a new set of issues I was working with. Should I tell her what just happened? Should I tell anyone before Cedrik? Should I tell anyone PERIOD? While I was working through these questions inside my head, I realized she had been talking to me the whole time and I had no idea what she said. Finally she asks, “Are you ok?” I finally just pulled out my phone and showed her a picture of the pregnancy test. “HOLY SHIT.” Exactly…
She let me go after lunch to “sort things out”. I called a doctor to make an appointment and I did what every woman does when she just found out life changing news…. I went to Target. As I walked around with a stupid grin on my face, I looked up at the different sections.
SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! I’m going to the baby section so everyone can see I’m in the baby section and so everyone can know…. EVERYONE MUST KNOW. Calm down. I was in search of a cute onesie and found one immediately that said “I get my good looks from my dad.” Two dollars for a onesie? Baby clothes are cheap! (I figured out later they are so cheap because you can’t stop buying them and Target knows that).
I drove to Cedrik’s work on the other side of town. “Don’t stare at your pregnancy test and drive.” I walk into his office with a Target bag and he’s all, “Oh hey you brought me some food.”
I brought you SOMETHING that’s for sure.
Heart still pounding, I told him to close his eyes. Obviously he looked at me like “I don’t have time for this shit, just give me what’s in the bag.” He finally closed his eyes and I laid out the onesie and the pregnancy test on his desk. And now that I think about it, I put a stick with my pee on it on my husband’s work desk. Cool, Leilani. He opened his eyes and said “WHAT?!” And one tear formed in his eye. Just one. It didn’t even roll out. Either way, I saw that damn tear and he can’t deny it.
We still needed a full on confirmation so three weeks later we are at the doctor’s office. EIGHT WEEKS PREGNANT. Hmmm… That would have been right around the time the Patriots won the Super Bowl (Go Pats).
Cedrik and I were too excited about our journey ahead.