Cosmo Kramer, Nine Months Along

Today is my third son’s eighth birthday.  He would have been an April baby if everything had gone according to plan.  But, as these things often do, things went awry.

Andrew is the only baby whose labor was completely different than the others.  With all my other kids, I went into labor a few days early, had steadily increasing contractions — which increased with walking — and less than seven hours later, I was holding a baby in my arms.  Jonathan and Maddie came in less than three hours from the time labor began in earnest.

Andrew, however, was at the mercy of his foolish mother who got excited about a game of Cranium in her enlarged state, and he arrived ten days early.

We were living in southern California at the time, and the men of the church had gone out of town on a retreat for the weekend.  The women who were left home alone decided to get together for a game night.  Although my husband had stayed home from the retreat for fear that I would have the baby while he was gone, he told me it would be good for me to get out of the house and have some fun.

So I went to my friend Amy’s house, where the night began with some karaoke.  We had some snacks and moved on to Cranium.  If you haven’t played it, Cranium is a combination of drawing, singing, trivia, and charades.  And naturally the charades would fall to the pregnant lady.

As I remember it, the question was an “all-play,” which means that I was competing at the same time as Amy.  We were given the name “Kramer,” as in Cosmo Kramer, as in Jerry Seinfeld’s neighbor.

HERE IS THE PROBLEM.  We were in a room full of women who were either too young, too holy, or too busy to watch Seinfeld.  It ended up that Amy and I were the only people who knew who Kramer was.  So basically we were given the impossible task of getting people to guess something they would never, ever guess. The closest thing we could hope for was that maybe someone had seen a commercial with him in it.  Or lightning would strike and someone would just happen to say the right name.  Let’s just say the odds were LONG.

But Amy and I were good sports and maybe too competitive for our own good, and so as the timer began, we started our Kramer impersonations enthusiastically.  Since we were in Amy’s front room, right by the door, I decided to use the door as a tool, because Kramer is known for his entrances:

This exit/entrance strategy was especially perplexing to a few team members because they thought I was going home.

Onward we forged, for the full minute allotted, with our poor team members shouting out, “You’re coming home!  Hair!  Door!  Oh, it’s that guy…oh, I don’t know his name..Sorry!”

As the time ran out, I made one more spectacular attempt, sliding in the door and up against the wall.  I continued my Kramer-esque jerky movements along the wall, hoping someone – anyone – would have a moment of inspiration and shout out the right name.  However, whereas Michael Richards (the actor who played Kramer) is a lithe, sprightly man with obvious physical comedy skills, I was a thirty-five-pounds-overweight, off-balance, pregnant woman who carried WAAAAYYY out in front.

I slid along the wall and suddenly realized that my weight was causing me to steadily gain momentum.  I can see it even now in slow motion…sliding, sliding, jerking, faster…faster…until I was headed in a definite downward direction towards Amy and Uel’s beautiful white ceramic tile floor.

To the women in the living room, I imagine this looked like I was going along with the imitation until I suddenly dropped out of sight behind the couch.  They just thought I was really into it.  Kramer is REALLY clumsy sometimes!  They all roared with laughter!

Meanwhile, I was face down on the floor checking to make sure all my teeth were in place.  Miraculously, I hadn’t fallen on my belly, but I remember my face hitting pretty hard, and I was laughing at the time, so I quickly slid my tongue over my front teeth to make sure they were all there.  Yes, (phew!) yes, they were.  The last thing I wanted was a picture from the hospital with my new baby, smiling away looking like a hockey player.  Vanity, thy name is Kelly.

I remember the moment when the girls realized that I hadn’t popped up yet, and they all yelled, “OH! KELLY!” at the same time.  They were all sympathy and compassion and I was laughing at myself, feeling humiliated.  I wish someone had been videotaping…it would have been a GEM.

After the games were over, I drove home and started having contractions.  They were on and off all night, and then finally stopped.  We got up for church as normal, put a chicken in the crockpot for lunch, and headed off for Sunday service.  As soon as I sat down in Sunday School at 9 AM, contractions started up again.

It was a sluggish labor, and contractions never picked up unless I remained absolutely still.  Eventually, at six that night, my doctor gave me pitocin to help things along.  It certainly did that.  Andrew was born shortly after seven.  In the picture from the hospital — which is in storage, or I’d post it — you can see my top lip is slightly swollen.  This change is an improvement for me, since I normally have almost no upper lip.

I do have all my teeth in that picture.  I haven’t tried impersonating Kramer since.

Labor Day

In honor of my friends Erin and Stacey, both of whom had a baby yesterday (both girls, named Clara and Landis respectively), and in keeping with Shannon’s timely meme, I am playing along with the Labor Day Labor posts. If you want to join in, please leave a comment and tell us where to find yours!

How long were your labors?

Kid #1, 8 hours
Kid #2, 8 hours
Kid #3, 10 hours
Kid #4, 3 hours

Kid #5, 4 hours

How did you know you were in labor?

Kid #1, contractions
Kid #2, contractions
Kid #3, contractions
Kid #4, contractions

Kid #5, contractions

My water has never, ever, broken on its own. Apparently I make tough uterine sacs. I still have to fight off a shudder when I see a crochet hook.

Where did you deliver?

With all of them, at a hospital. Where the drugs are.

The first hospital I delivered at (for #1 and #2) is a teaching hospital, and I had a whole posse of students come in and “check” me during my first labor. I was an excellent example of a woman who was fully dilated but with an intact sac, so they marched everybody through to see the statistical outlier (me). So many people came in and out I felt like I should have been serving tea and shortbread or something.

Drugs?

Yes, please. I had an epidural every time. However with #5 it didn’t take and they didn’t have time to do it again so she was my first “natural” birth.

Pitocin did bad things to me the one time I had it. It was for child #3, and as soon as they upped the drip, I had one contraction that made me feel like I was being ripped in half even on top of the epidural. It dilated me 5 cm in one shot. That was *ahem* unpleasant, and I vowed to never let that stuff enter my bloodstream ever again if I could at all avoid it.

C-section?

Never.

Who delivered?

Doctors every time, though with Maddie the doctor almost missed her entrance. They had me breathe through a contraction to wait for him. Grr. I thought David was going to punch the labor nurse when she said that.

I’ll never forget the lady who delivered my first child. She relieved my own OB in the last hour of my labor. She was very no-nonsense; she reminded me vaguely of a softball coach from my hometown. When it came time to push, she looked at me and said, “OK, Kelly, when you feel the next contraction, just take a deep breath and push like hell.” Now those are directions I understand.

Here She Is, Part 2

So here’s the rundown, for those of you who care…I went to the doctor Thursday morning and he gave me what I thought was discouraging news. So I decided to make it a normal day as much as possible, since as far as I was concerned, I certainly wasn’t having a baby anytime soon. I ran some errands, gave the boys haircuts and bathed them, baked banana bread, and made blueberry crumble for dessert.

We had friends over for Bible study, where one (male) friend prophetically told me that I couldn’t go another day pregnant.

After everyone went home, contractions started in earnest around 9:45. We called my friend Erin around 11, and when she arrived we were off to the hospital, pulling up at exactly midnight. After triage determined that yes, in fact, I was in labor, we were ushered to a delivery room around 1 A.M. Epidural was ordered, IV was put in, labwork done…etc. The anesthesiologist arrived and did the epi. I’m not sure what time it was at this point, but suffice it to say that the pain meds didn’t have time to “take” completely. Contractions took over and did their work, and by 2:15 I was ordered to start pushing.

I was a little discouraged by how long I had to push. I didn’t understand why it was taking so long compared to three pushes for Jonathan’s birth. When Maddie finally arrived forty or so minutes later, I felt huge gratification when the doctor said, “This is a HEAVY baby.” I laughed as the doctors and nurses made me feel better with, “and that is a LONG cord!” “and that is a BIG placenta!”. So that’s why I couldn’t breathe…it makes perfect sense now….

She’s doing great — nursing well and eating like a horse.

Getting cleaned up
Meeting Mommy
Meeting Daddy
This is what a Keller girl looks like
Not that much different from a Keller boy 🙂
Meeting the brothers
A friend came over to visit last night and said, “I can’t believe you have five kids!”
Knock it off, Mom

Welcome, little Maddie! We’re so glad you’re finally here!

She’s Here!

Please join us in welcoming

Madeleine Hope
August 8, 2008
2:50 a.m.
9 pounds even
21.5 inches

The delivery went well. The only “complication” was its relative speed…we arrived at the hospital at midnight and she was born less than three hours later. Maddie and I will be heading home from the hospital later today and then I hope to post pictures and more details.

List-o-mania

  1. Another night of contractions last night…I think I slept for three hours total. I really thought last night was it…anybody else get that horrible ache in their legs when they’re in labor? Yeah, I had that last night. And every contraction was over 60 seconds long. Yet at 6:30 I woke up and looked at the clock and thought, “Oh, I guess they stopped.”
  2. So another doctor’s appointment this morning, with the guy who delivered Jonathan (not my usual OB). He gave me the happy news that I am now 3 cm along, but also gave me the unhappy news that I am only 70% effaced. What? I went backwards? Grr. So subjective, all of these measurements.
  3. He gave me the option of scheduling an induction, to which I politely said, “I’d rather stay away from Pitocin if possible.” What I didn’t say was, “I had that devil-brew once and it gave me ONE contraction — A SINGLE CONTRACTION — that dilated me FIVE CENTIMETERS. AT ONE TIME. And yes, I had an epidural at the time. And yet I STILL felt like I WAS DYING.” I’ll save that speech for later. What was nice was that he said, “we can just break your water if you’d rather do that.” Oh, OK. That’d be nice, thank you. But let’s wait another week to see if my body can get its act together on its own.
  4. I found this handy device online last night…some of you might want to bookmark it: Contraction Timer. It times the length of each one and the time in between. So I laid on the couch by the light of the laptop and just reached over and clicked the mouse every once in a while. I still sort of felt like I was sleeping, apart from the glare in my eyes.
  5. Not pregnancy-related…books I’m excited about that just came in the mail today:
  • Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder.
  • This was recommended both by Al Mohler and NPR (it’s not often you see them agree on something!). A quote from the author: “The children and nature movement is fueled by this fundamental idea: the child in nature is an endangered species, and the health of children and the health of the Earth are inseparable.”

  • On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness
  • Written by one of my favorite songwriters, Andrew Peterson, this book is number one in his Wingfeather Saga.

  • The Creative Family
  • This book is penned by a woman in Maine whose blog I frequent: SouleMama (Amanda Soule is her name). She has her little ones doing amazing, quality workmanship in crafts and nature. I cracked it open as soon as it arrived and I’ve already got some plans cooking….

  • The Seashore Book
  • This book was purchased in anticipation of our November trip to the beach; beautiful illustrations are paired with Charlotte Zolotow’s prose of a conversation between mother and son about the seashore.

Even better is that I paid for these books with “found money”: a voucher I received from a Coinstar machine. Yay for loose change!

Preparing for baby…the home stretch

Well, we are still here awaiting some baby action. I realize my official due date is still almost two weeks off (8/12), but when every child has been early so far, it’s hard for me to not get a little impatient at this stage. The boys have been very patient, but starting tomorrow that may change. They know that the baby is coming in August, so this week I’ve been answering a lot of “HOW long until August?!” questions.

The official stats are…as of Tuesday morning, 80% effaced, 2 cm dilated. Sorry if that’s TMI for some of you. I have friends who want to know 🙂 My weight is holding steady, which is a happy thing in my mind, because the baby is picking up weight and I’m losing it. Blood pressure is golden.

I have a feeling this may be a large baby…I am bigger than I was with Jonathan, and my RIBS! OH, MY RIBS! Can I have them back, please??!! I forgot to ask for a guess on the weight at my appointment yesterday. Suffice it to say I can’t wait to take that first deep breath after the baby’s born.

I am trying to stay busy but I don’t really feel like doing anything. So I’m looking around the house, trying to find things to do. This means I’m doing exciting things like washing random household items (throw rugs, duvet covers, and the like) and making a ton of basil pesto (both green and purple!).

We are also taking full advantage of the fact that our church has dinner for all the families before their evening VBS begins. I haven’t cooked dinner all week! What a unique provision…thank you Lord!

Pregnancy Update

Not much has been going on in this department that’s notable…just growing, growing, growing. The doctor tells me that I am just the right size for a woman of 34 weeks’ gestation (1 cm per week, did you know that?), no matter how house-like I feel or how many questioning looks I get when I say I have about six weeks to go. My official due date is August 12th.

Here’s a tip: please don’t ever, ever say to a pregnant woman, “are you sure you’ve only got one in there?!”. That might have been a funny thing to think about before the days of regular sonography, but nowadays it may get you punched in the face depending on said pregnant woman’s mood.

A few women have told me that I’ve “dropped,” which cannot be true. I still can’t take a deep breath when I lie down, so I think that means that baby is still pretty high 🙂

Next doctor’s visit is in two weeks’ time…