If you haven't read part one, you might want to do that first, but then come back here and read the rest of the story, okay?
So, we left off with Peanut Head unpacking my kitchen and the sky is falling, right? Things can only get better.
The movers came and went. I had been home and on bed rest for about four days and I was going out of my mind. Granted, I didn't have far to go, but I was crazy in a my-head-will- implode-if-I-have-to-bed-rest-another-minute kind of way. I had already mentally scrubbed my house from top to bottom, painted the entire inside of the house, arranged all the furniture, completely assembled and decorated my dream nursery, and emptied out the kitchen and unpacked it my way. I had nothing left to do.
In the fantasy world inside my head.
I could not take another minute. I had to do something productive. So I crawled into the master bedroom, rationalizing that technically I was still semi-horizontal, sat on the floor of the closet and started unpacking and arranging shoes. In private. Peanut Head was downstairs wrestling with the new water softener he was installing.
And then I peed my pants. Right there. On the floor.
Can you believe that mess? I hadn't peed my pants since the first grade and I had that teacher, Mrs. Scary Face. I was too scared of her to ask if I could use the restroom so, of course, the logical thing was to just pee my pants instead. Well, I wasn't doing that anymore, so what the pregnancy bladder was this all about?
I decided to just ignore it and pretend it didn't happen. Denial is my BFF.
Then I peed myself again. And again. And again.
And Jiminy Cricket, what is going on? I don't pee my pants. I'm OCD and I wash my hands obsessively. And I don't pee my pants.
Well there's a time for everything, and I'm sure one day, hopefully a very long time from today, I will pee my pants again. But that's not what really happened, you know that right? I'm sure you are much smarter than I was. What really happened was my water broke. I didn't know that though because I hadn't gotten to that chapter in my pregnancy books, and therefore, it could not happen yet. DE-NIAL.
Obviously, the next step was labor. I have a relatively high threshold for pain, so in my world I was having Braxton-Hicks contractions, not labor. It was perfectly normal and I had experienced the contractions before. They got stronger and stronger and then man, did it hurt like a Mama. I had to crawl back to the living room and lay back down on the couch. I had a couch now, isn't that nice?
It got progressively worse and then I decided I should tell Peanut Head what was going on. I yelled to him to come out of his Expletive Fun House of installing the water softener, and he was not happy about being called upstairs to cater to me again. Until he saw my face.
Then he grabbed the car keys and we were off. He dropped me off at the ER and he went to park the car. I walked up to the admit desk and said in as chipper a voice as I could muster "Guess what?! I'm in labor and I'm only 32 weeks. Y-a-a-ay!" Even in times of trauma I can't suppress the sick sense of humor.
I was in a wheel chair faster than a speeding bullet. In spite of all the pain, it was a fascinating thing to witness the medical machine in all it's efficient motion. I was on a bed with a stranger's fist up my hoo ha before I knew it. And I didn't even care.
A lot is a blur to me eight years after the fact, but certain things fade slower. Like the pain. The Fist up my hoo ha told me I was dilated to 9 cm, which as I mentioned, I did not possess that knowledge yet, so I didn't really get what was about to happen. Then The Fist said something about baby parts hanging out and I was all "What? A WHAT? There's something inside me?"
Let me explain. When I was pregnant with Zoe, the whole thing was very fantasy-like. I don't think you can ever really prepare yourself for parenthood and understand what your life is going to be like when you are responsible for a little alien 24-7. I think that's the way God intended it to be. I remember being handed a baby to hold when I was six months pregnant and it really startled me. I clearly remember thinking "Oh crap. I'm about to pop one of these things out. What have I done?"
So, you can maybe understand my surprise when learning that reality was about to crash my party. The rest of Zoe's arrival was an absolute blur, but I do remember the pain. Peanut Head was sitting there, trying to hold my hand and stroke my forehead and I was all "DON'T TOUCH ME! GET A-WAY. I can't do this. I HAVE TO LEAVE NOW!" It was the worst feeling I've ever had. In my pain I just wanted to be left alone to deal with it, and I couldn't handle any unnecessary touching. I was on sensory overload and all I wanted to do was stand up and get the alien out. Alone.
Except that no one would let me get up. I really saw red then. Being on my back when I was in that kind of pain almost sent me to the crazy house. Thankfully I didn't have to endure it for very long. Since Zoe was breach, I had an emergency C-section right after the announcement by The Fist. That was a pretty cool experience. The anesthesiologist is my other BFF and he paralyzed me from the waist down. Temporarily, of course. The sensation of the tugging and then Zoe being popped out of my body like an overripe zit was bizarre.
The next several weeks were surreal and exhausting. Zoe was born 8 weeks early, but still a pretty good size for a preemie at 3 lbs. 12.5 oz., and we were very fortunate. That butt shot really did the trick, because she never needed a ventilator, and we were so thankful for that. She was in the NICU for four weeks though, and there were some ups and downs during that time period, but it was all worth it in the end.
Looking back, we're so thankful that this happened with our first. I can't imagine how people deal when they have kids at home. How do you even survive that?
Becoming a Daddy changed Peanut Head. When I was pregnant he was pretty detached, at least outwardly, about the whole thing. After all, his body wasn't being occupied by an extra terrestrial, why should he feel any different?
But once Zoe came, it was all over for him. One day I rushed to the NICU to be there in time for Zoe's 11:00 a.m. feeding and he was there. I was a little bit jealous that he beat me there, but at the same time very touched that he would sneak out of work for an early lunch to feed his baby.
I spent most of my days in the NICU, but every night when Peanut Head got home from work, we would go to the NICU together. He would rock Zoe and sing to her. It was the sweetest thing.
We were very fortunate to be so close to a hospital that was equipped to care for preemies. The doctors and nurses were amazing and we will be forever indebted to them. We have so much to be thankful for.
I have a hard time remembering just how small Zoe was. I look at the preemie clothes that she was just swimming in then, and I can't even comprehend it. It doesn't seem real. And there were much smaller babies than Zoe in the NICU. And much sicker babies.
It was very hard to leave her there every night. Even though we knew she was getting the best care, we wanted her at home.
We got to participate in much of her care in the NICU, and that was a good thing because we had no idea what we were doing. We were clueless newbies and we needed classes.
And apparently I also needed some product and a new do. Geesh.
This is the look that Zoe would give us every evening when we tucked her in for bed. It was a piercing look as if she were saying to us "Are you really going to leave me here?" To this day, she gives us this stone faced stare when she's unhappy with us. It's the knife that she plunges into our hearts, with a little twist at the end.
This was the first time Peanut Head bathed Zoe and it was so entertaining for me. He was flustered and awkward and I just watched and gave him helpful advice. He loved that.
After four weeks Zoe had gained a pound and learned to suck so we were able to bring her home. I'll never forget that day when we walked out of the NICU with her in the car seat. We kept nervously looking behind us for security to apprehend us. We whispered quietly "Can you believe they're just letting us walk out of here with her? Don't they know we have no idea what we're doing?"
Does every parent feel like this with their first?
Then we got her home and we really had no idea what to do with her. We put her in her cradle and then we just watched her and said "What now?"
I was a nervous wreck because I didn't want to leave her alone in case she stopped breathing, yet I couldn't stay with her every second. That first day home I sent Peanut Head out to buy a baby monitor and then we stumbled on to the next new parent learning experience.
Feeding Zoe was the most difficult part of those first weeks at home. I had been nursing her some in the NICU and pumping a lot, but she was supposed to get X number of ounces every two hours, so we couldn't rely on that since there was no way to know how much she had gotten. We had to rent a baby scale and weigh her before nursing, then after nursing, and then we had to give her a bottle to make up the difference for what she didn't get. Half the time she would fall asleep before we finished and we would have to try to wake her up. And this had to be done every two hours around the clock. It was exhausting.
That time eventually passed though, and Zoe quickly began packing on the pounds. She turned into a little chub within two months of coming home, and she hasn't had any lasting impairments from her prematurity.
Having Zoe early was a huge inconvenience, sure, but it was a good reminder that we can't control everything. Sometimes it's best to just let go and roll with the punches. That's what we had to do with Zoe Bug, and we've been rolling so much since then that we're pretty good at doing somersaults now.
Except don't ask me which way is North when I get up. Ask Peanut Head.