Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Little Star

"Shining brighter than all the stars in the sky / You are a treasure to me / You are my star"

Four weeks ago, I became a mother for the second time. I’ve been meaning to write about our newest family member for a while, but with two kids under two years old in the house, I’m lucky if I get to shower once a day. My darling husband is on double duty right now, so before either of the girls wakes up, let me finally declare:


Tala Elsaleta Everman

Tala [pronounced TAH-lah] is the Tagalog goddess of the stars in Pilipino mythology. Tala's big sister is Diana, the Roman goddess of the moon, so now we have two wee celestial goddesses in our family. "Tala" also means "star" in Tagalog. Elsaleta is a combination of "Elsa" and "Leta". Elsa is my favorite aunt and second mother. Leta was Dusty's favorite great-aunt.

Born on: Monday, March 8, 2010 at 6:01 AM
Weight: 6 pounds 13 ounces
Length: 18.5 inches
Hair Color: Honey Brown
Eye Color: Slate Blue
Fingers: 10
Toes: 10
Cheeks: Nummalicious
Minutes between Our Arrival at Hospital and Tala's Birth: 16
First Nickname from Daddy: Bright Eyes

My little star is on the accelerated program: she arrived 10 days early, latched on perfectly for feeding on her first day, and gained almost three pounds by her two-week checkup. She is already holding her head up quite well during Tummy Time and she has broken free of nearly every swaddle wrap we have tried. We think she plans to enroll in university for the fall semester.

Giving birth this time around was pretty much the polar opposite of my experience with Diana, who made her debut into this world after 41 hours of labor. Here is Tala’s complete birth story, as best as I can remember. I will have to print and paste this entry into the journal I was supposed to be keeping during my pregnancy with her . . . which I hope to start and complete before her first birthday. [Note: I have not yet had a chance to write down Diana's complete birth story and she will be two years old in June. Sigh.] Although Tala's arrival took us totally by surprise, it happened almost exactly the way I would have planned: short labor done mostly at home, no drugs, no interventions, quick delivery.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

8:30 PM I’m having some SERIOUS back and tailbone pain and INTENSE [what I thought at the time to be] Braxton Hicks contractions. About an hour earlier, during dinner, my jaw starts aching inexplicably, as do my hip joints. As Dusty is putting Diana to bed, I decide to unwind with a little Interwebs time. At 8:32 PM, I update my Facebook status: “Cookie Hiponia Everman feels underprepared and overwhelmed.” I go to the bathroom and my cervical plug falls out.

8:55 PM Dusty bundles Diana up and we all head to Grey Nuns Hospital for my non-stress test. The labor and delivery nurse I talked to on the phone when my plug fell out said it was unlikely I would go into labor that night, but I should come in “just to be safe”. In the car on the way there, I note that 03/07/10 would be a cool birthdate because 3+7=10. Dusty says, “There’s no way you’re giving birth tonight. It’s already 9 PM. Even if you went into labor right now, you wouldn’t give birth before midnight.” I reply, “Yeah, she’s not even due until the 18th and if she’s anything like her sister, it’ll take her two days to get here.” We shake our heads and laugh a little.

9:30 PM Nurse Heidi says everything checks out with the baby and I’m only 1 cm dilated. She says it could take weeks for me to start labor if I’m not having any contractions. My jaw still hurts, though, and my tailbone is KILLING me. Dusty and I are amazed at how well-behaved Diana is, especially considering that she should be asleep. We all go home.

10:40 PM I send an update email to my family and Karin, just to let them know that I went to the hospital to get checked out, but that my due date hasn’t changed. The last sentence: “One more week . . .”

Monday, March 8, 2010

Midnight-ish I can’t sleep. My back and joints are really hurting and the contractions are becoming more intense. I still think they are BH contractions at this point, and I try to just get through them as “practice” contractions. Dusty holds my hand as we lie in bed and I try to breathe through the pain. He asks me what I can do to keep my mind off the pain, so I chant E Ho Mai in my head and visualize myself riding the crests of ocean waves crashing to the shore. I think of when I have felt most powerful and visualize myself dancing with my old halau to Ho’o Puka E Ka La. I breathe through the contractions the way I would blow into a conch shell to call down the sun.

1:30 AM I feel like I have to pee every five minutes. When I do pee, there is bright red blood. Dusty and I attribute it to the cervical exam I had gotten at Grey Nuns. We try to go back to sleep.

2:00 AM There is no way I can sleep. I ask Dusty to make me a sandwich with peanut butter, banana, and honey. I can’t explain it, but I knew I absolutely had to have that exact sandwich combo right then. I’m sure it was my body telling me exactly what I needed to build up strength for what was coming next. As I eat my sandwich, I write in my journal, “LABOR?! NOOO . . . OUCH OUCH OUCH!!!”

3:00 AM The contractions are really strong. The only thing that relieves the pain is getting on all fours and rocking back and forth. In retrospect, I was most likely having back labor. I ask Dusty to run a bath for me, and the hot water begins to relax me a little. The contractions continue to intensify and even in the tub, it becomes automatic, almost instinctual, for me to get on all fours and rock back and forth each time a contraction comes.

3:30 AM Dusty starts timing contractions with an actual kitchen timer and they are closer together, longer, and MUCH MORE INTENSE. Dusty places my tiny figurine of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the rim of the bathtub, in front of me, so I can focus on it as I breathe through the contractions. I no longer think these are BH contractions, but a part of me is so fixated on the original due date of March 18 and the fact that Diana was five days late, I consider the possibility that this might go on for ten more days.

4:00 AM I say to Dusty, “I think I’ve peed myself.” I vaguely remember thinking that my water may have broken, since there was STUFF in the bath water, but neither Dusty nor I remember if I said it aloud or not. There isn’t much blood in the stuff, and when my water broke during labor with Diana, there was meconium in the stuff, so it was hard to tell what was supposed to be there and what wasn’t. In any case, the contractions were still slamming me, and I keep flipping back onto all fours to relieve the excruciating pain. It is getting harder to focus on waves cresting onto the shore.

4:30 AM Dusty calls Grey Nuns labor and delivery and they tell him to bring me in “just to be safe”. We are both pretty sure this is some kind of labor, but because our only experience with labor taught us that this could last two days, we think there might be a small possibility it is false labor. I get out of the tub and try to get dressed, but I can only do so in two-minute increments, in between which I fall to my knees and try to focus on breathing deeply instead of hyperventilating. At one point, I’m on the floor in my office, head pressed up against the rails of the baby’s crib, howling for Dusty to put counterpressure on my hips. The heater comes on just as I yell in pain and I’m glad it masked the noise so Diana wouldn’t wake up. I am screaming at Dusty to push harder; later he will tell me that he could’ve used me as a pommel horse he was pushing down so hard. Before the next contraction comes, I start crying and say, “I can’t be in labor NOW. The house is a mess!” Dusty laughs and reassures me that he will clean it all up.

5:00 AM We are finally ready to leave. Dusty calls Karin and Patrick to let them know we are headed over to their place and loads up the car. He wakes up poor sweet Diana and gets her ready to leave. I go to Diana’s room just as another contraction comes and I fall to the floor, gripping the glider chair’s ottoman. Diana looks at me with a mix of real concern and “WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING?!” I try to reassure her that I’m okay, but I’m not very convincing. After the next contraction, I walk quickly toward the door, but I only make it 15 feet out of Diana’s room and into the dining room before I fall to my knees for another contraction. I use one of the dining room chairs as support and Dusty pushes on my hipbones. After the contraction, I get up as quickly as I can and tell Dusty, “We’d better go now or I’ll have this baby right here.”

5:10 AM We finally manage to leave the house. I try to keep my shit together on the way to the Weekeses’ place because I don’t want to scare Diana. I can’t look back at her in the car, but she is unusually quiet and I’m proud of her for keeping her shit together. Another contraction has me panting and I think, “If this is false labor, I will DIE before we get to the real thing.”

5:18 AM We arrive at the Weekeses’ house. I have to get out so Dusty can get Diana and her car seat and stuff out of our two-door car. I’m leaning against the car, bent at the waist and pounding on the car frame when Patrick comes out of the house. “Hi guys,” he says. “Heeeyyy,” I breathe. Patrick quickly steps away and helps Dusty with Diana. I feel like I’m about to faint, but I somehow had the presence of mind to remind Dusty to bring Diana’s blue diaper bag inside. I hear Diana cry just as I see Dusty sprint out the front door and back into the driver’s seat.

5:35 AM I see Karin at the intersection to turn into the Grey Nuns compound. She waves excitedly at me and I smile wanly before another contraction comes. I lift my bum off the seat and pant through gritted teeth. I recall my prolonged labor with Diana and think I can't possibly do this for 30 more hours with no painkillers. It never occurs to me that I may be in the transition phase and nearly ready to push out a baby. I feel disappointed in myself as I tell Dusty that I may have to go with an epidural after all. "Whatever you need, honey," he says. "Whatever you need."

5:40 AM Dusty jumps out of the driver’s seat and runs through the ER doors. Karin jumps in his place and we begin to talk. Dusty comes back, incredulous, and says, “They said you have to WALK in by yourself.” Almost simultaneously, Karin and I say, “WHAT?!” Karin says, “You are kidding.” Dusty apologizes on behalf of the hospital staff and helps me out of the car. Karin seems to teleport to the other side of me just as an EMT shows up with a wheelchair. At the ER door, I’m racked with a really long contraction. I feel a lot of pressure and I sense the baby is COMING. Oddly, I don’t feel the need to push. Karin wheels me up to the Admitting window, where they ask me too many questions. Both Karin and Dusty try to hurry things along. Karin says, “We should just get her upstairs.” People keep asking me if I feel the need to push, but all I feel is panic. I tell Karin, “Change of plans. I want an epidural.” She says, “Okay. Whatever you want, sweetie.” As Karin wheels me toward the elevator, some jackhole EMT near the ER exit door says, “Don’t push.” Karin makes a note to kick his ass for me later.

5:45 AM The nurse at the front desk of the maternity ward says only Dusty can come into the assessment room, so Karin heads to the waiting area. I was in this assessment room just eight hours ago, being told that labor was probably days away. I try to climb onto the bed, but my legs are shaking. There’s a LOT of pressure bearing down in my ladyparts area.

5:46 AM The assessment nurse introduces herself as Sarah. She shares a name with the Supernurse at Stony Plain on the last shift of my labor with Diana. Sarah’s voice and eyes are steady. She checks my cervix and says, “Cookie, we’re going to get you to the delivery room and you’re going to have a baby.” I’m 9 cm dilated. First thought: She must have mismeasured, just like the Not-Supernurse at Stony Plain on the first shift of my labor with Diana. There’s no way I’m at 9 cm right now. Second thought: FUCK. I kindof wanted an epidural. Now I have to put my money where my mouth is and REALLY do this with no drugs. FUCK.

5:50 AM Karin FLIES into the delivery room and says, “You’re just trying to pay me back for when I gave birth to Gavin before the midwife arrived.” I laugh. I was obviously between contractions. She takes my left hand in hers and smiles. “Here we go.”

5:55 AM Sarah tells me to push with the next contraction. I kindof don’t want to. I feel like I’m about to poop. SOMETHING is coming out of me and most of my brain knows it’s a baby. My baby. But a small part of me is scared it may be my lower intestines. I am delirious with pain. I look into Karin’s eyes and whimper, “Mama.” She smiles and says, “That’s what you’re going to be for the second time. VERY soon.” I nod. Then I feel my eyes grow large with fear as the next contraction comes.

5:56 AM I need to see Dusty’s eyes. “DUSTY! Where’s Dusty?!” I ask desperately, even though I can feel him holding my right hand and I can hear his voice telling me he is here. The doctor who is supposed to deliver my baby is not here yet, so a resident is filling in. The resident shouts at me to push when she says so and not stop until she says so. I do not like her. Not one bit. Her shouting causes me to start shouting with pain when the next contraction comes. Karin and Dusty crowd my vision so I can’t see the resident and they talk to me in relaxed, soothing voices. Their eyes are calm. Blue ocean on the left. Green trees on the right. Thank you, sister. Thank you, husband.

5:57 AM I am losing focus. I’m clutching at Dusty’s shoulder, arm, shirt. In a very even voice, Dusty says, “Think of the ocean, honey. You’re riding the waves. Think of how you make a sound with the conch shell.” He puffs his cheeks up and blows. I mimic him. “That’s it,” he says. I ride the wave. The resident starts shouting something. Karin translates in Calm-ease: “With this next one, pant instead of breathing deeply. Then hold it in and push.” I try to focus, but I am too far gone in Panic Mode. I say, loudly and clearly so everyone can hear, “I can’t do this. I really can’t!” Dusty and Karin simultaneously respond, “But you already are doing it. You’re doing fantastic!”

6:00 AM Sarah tells me to push, pant for a bit, and keep pushing while holding my breath. I pant. I push. I hold my breath. I feel my baby leaving my body. I say, “I’m scared! I’m scared!” Sarah says, “Look down.” Dusty and Karin say, “Look down.” I see my baby emerging into the world.

6:01 AM She is here! My baby is here! She is in my arms. I lift up my shirt so she can be against my skin. She is covered in vernix. She is crying mightily. She is pissed off. She is perfect.

6:02 AM I look into my baby girl’s eyes and say, “Hi, Tala. I’m your mama.”

"Little Star" by Madonna

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Time After Time

"If you're lost, you can look and you will find me / Time after time / If you fall, I will catch you; I'll be waiting / Time after time"

Dusty and I were cuddled up on the couch watching The Time Traveler's Wife last Friday night when Diana woke up, whimpering. We listened for a few moments, to see if the whimpering would turn into something more alarming. Like the pained cry that immediately made Dusty jump up from the couch to go to her room. Usually, Diana is soothed back to sleep with a few minutes of rocking and singing, but then I heard Dusty's shaky voice: "Mama, we need you!" I don't remember the last time I moved so fast with so much baby belly.

I won't go into the gory details of what I saw when I flicked on the light in her room, but it turns out that Diana had caught the stomach flu at daycare. As soon as Dusty got within arm's reach of me, Diana practically leaped onto my belly, wrapped her arms tightly around my neck, and whimpered "Mama" between racking sobs. Everything and everyone between her room and the bathroom seemed covered in yuck. I'd like to think that Dusty and I are generally fairly level-headed people who manage all right in tough situations, but this is the sickest we have ever seen our kid. We panicked.

I somehow managed to haul myself and Diana into the shower, gingerly peeling each of her trembling limbs off me one at a time and washing underneath, all the while whispering, "Shhh, it's all right. Mama is here" so she would stop freaking out. Meanwhile, Dusty scrubbed the bedroom carpet and the hallway and bathroom floors, then threw a big load of laundry in the washer. He and I nearly collided a couple of times in the bathroom and hallway as we tried to get ourselves and our daughter calmed down and cleaned up. It was the most unfunny Keystone Kops routine ever.

Diana was still listless and clingy on Saturday, eating very little and keeping down even less. She stayed in her pajamas all day and mostly sat or slept near me while I did light household chores. That evening, the bug hit me hard and I spent most of the night and the next day in misery. The long weekend was supposed to be a celebration of Family Day in Alberta, but when Dusty was taken down by nausea and chills on Monday evening, we decided that Tuesday would be Family Sick Day.

It actually turned out to be a lovely day, except for the "sick" part. I piled up a bunch of blankets and pillows on the living room floor, where we made our base camp for the day. Diana gave it her enthusiastic seal of approval: "Is cozy, Mama!" We drank juice and water from teeny tea cups. We ate English muffins and dried berries, our plates and bowls balanced on our laps, and cheered on Daddy as he played Mass Effect 2. We watched HOURS of television and napped in between episodes of Wonder Pets. Sure, we broke a few house rules, but anything goes on Family Sick Day!

Oddly enough, Family Sick Day made me reflect more on The Time Traveler's Wife, and not just because it was the last thing we were watching before everyone got sick. The movie focuses on the love story between Henry and Clare, naturally diverging a bit from the book. I enjoyed both the book and the movie on their own merits, and the love story was certainly compelling, but the movie rang truest for me whenever it explored the bonds and bounds of familial love. That theme actually resonated more for me than the romance, whether it was Henry and Clare's struggle to have a family of their own, or Henry trying to build relationships with his parents, or Henry and Alba being "parental" to themselves and each other. Time may be fleeting, but family is forever.

Like Henry and Clare, Dusty and I initially had trouble starting a family. I cried all-too-familiar tears during the scenes depicting their heartbreaking miscarriages. I remembered similar discussions and arguments that we had over whether or not we were meant to be parents. I cried again--happy tears--when they finally had their beautiful daughter. I remembered those first days after Diana was born, when we were all getting used to our new family. But I cried most when sad little Alba climbs into bed beside her grieving mother and they just hold each other close, clinging to what is still left of their wee family.

In just four short weeks, our family of three will become a family of four. It might seem like a strange time to think about my mortality, but one is never closer to death than when giving birth. Dusty recently said to me that he never feared death until he became a father. Now he is terrified of dying before Diana and her sibling have a chance to know him. The movie touches on this fear, that a time traveler like Henry will not be there to catch his child when she falls, that he will not be there for her when she feels lost.

I know that someday I will die. I know that someday sooner than that, my children will leave my home and my side. They will get sick and maybe nobody will be there to pile blankets and pillows on the floor for them to snuggle into until they feel better. They will get scared and freak out and maybe nobody will be there to calm them down. But until then, I can continue making Family Sick Day "cozy" and save a spot next to me when they just need to know that Mama is here.

"Time After Time" by Cyndi Lauper

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


"She used to be my enemy and never let me be free"

The Non-Adventures of Wonderella continues to make me suspect that Justin Pierce may be spying on me. How did he know I have a daughter?

[Click image for full comic]

Cookie: I want to order this print, frame it, and hang it in the girls' bedroom. Would that be wrong?

Dusty: Yes, love. That would be very wrong.

Cookie: Awwww! You NEVER let me do ANYTHING! Gaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwd!

"Mama" by the Spice Girls. Who knew?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Hazy Shade of Winter

"Time, time, time / See what's become of me"

My friend Carlo calls February the Hump Month of the year and I am inclined to agree. December was all about racing to our deadlines and gearing up for the holidays. January was consumed by Mass Effect 2 madness and the giddy anticipation over finally seeing our game in stores and playing it on our big-screen TV. [If you haven't yet bought/played ME2, go do it now. Seriously, OUR GAME WILL BLOW YOUR MIND.] 

I'm due to pop in just about six weeks, and this month is my last one at work before I go on maternity leave for a year, but we are sortof between projects at the moment, so there's not a whole lot for me to do.

You would think this blessing of quiet downtime might prompt me to update this blog more often, but third-trimester inertia has sunk its claws deeply into my being and I am disinclined to shake it off. Every morning, I think, "I'm going to write today! No, for serious this time!" And then every evening, after Diana is to bed, I sit my phat ass down at my computer and find that I have just enough brainpower left to dick around on Facebook. See how evil that damn thing is?! [Hi, everyone who got here through my FB link!]

Anyway, here are four conversations from this week that I think pretty much sum up what my life is like these days. First, a discussion that may be the closest thing geeks have to "Dear Penthouse: This sort of thing never happens to me...":
Corey: Hey, so I'm stuck on DA:O. How can I get Morrigan to join my party?
Dave: Did you have sex with her?
Corey: No. You can have sex with her? [nods all around] I mean, yeah, we made out a little at camp, but it was just kissing and stuff.
Me: You didn't get past second base?
Corey: No. Did you guys?
Dave and Keith: [almost in sync] Oh yeah.
Dusty: I got the underwear dance and everything. Unh! [mimes dancing... and humping... That's my man: all class, all the time!]
Corey: You saw underwear? I didn't see underwear.
Dave: Well, did you give her gifts?
Corey: I gave her a couple of things...
[A small discussion ensues over what sorts of gifts Morrigan should be given.]
Dave: She likes baubles, man. More gifts = MORE SEX.
Me: Are we seriously having this conversation in the middle of the parking garage? Do you guys realize you are talking about exchanging gifts for sex with A CHARACTER IN A VIDEOGAME?
Dave: Yes. HELL YES.
Me: Sometimes working at this company...

Second, a logistics chat with P-Tricky:
Me: My parents are getting here the day before I'm due, but statistically, second babies tend to arrive earlier. Your lovely wife has volunteered your services to watch Diana if I go into labor early.... Wait... she DID tell you this, right?
Him: [I could almost see the word "Loading..." flash across his forehead.] Y-Yes? Yes! She must have...
Me: [suspiciously] Are you cool with this? Can you keep my child diapered and fed? Maybe help her do a commando roll onto the snow if she catches on fire?
Him: Yes, I can keep your child alive for a period of 24 hours or until Someone of Authority takes her from me.
Me: You are made of awesome. So, maybe at some point soonish, you can accompany us to the daycare and we'll introduce you to the caregivers there.
Him: You mean I can't just show up in dirty sweatpants and a stained t-shirt? I can't spend a few minutes lurking over the kids while stroking my beard, then point to Diana and mumble, "I'll take that one"?
Me: NO. Please and thank you.

Third, small talk in the hallway that has got me thinking about how I can make it happen:
Adrien: Do you guys know if you're having a boy or girl?
Me: It's most likely a girl, which is great because we don't have to buy a lot of new clothes.
Adrien: I know, right? All my friends who are parents spend crazy money on kids' clothes! Kids grow so fast. They're like little Hulks, busting out of their clothes all the time.
Me: Yeah, the baby basically gets an entirely new wardrobe every three months.
Adrien: We should just invent some sort of eco-friendly--yet fashionable!--garbage bag with holes for the arms, legs, and head. It would have adjustable drawstrings to size it up or down. And the material is sortof a cotton/nylon blend so you can just hose it down at the end of the day. You wring it out and put it right back on the kid. Done!
Me: I may have to prototype that...

And finally, a sucker punch that occurred in the middle of the night, when I was at my most exhausted, emotional, and unguarded:
Diana: [wailing] Mama! Mama! Maaaaaaamaaaaaaaaaaaaa!
Me: [entering her darkened room and kneeling by the crib] I'm right here, baby. What's wrong? Are you okay?
Diana: [heaves her entire body over the crib railing, wraps her arms around my neck, and sobs] Mama! Mama's bed?! Please?!
Me: [gently, but firmly] You have to sleep in your own bed, sweets. You're a big girl now.
Diana: [sobbing] Maaamaaa! Pleeease! Mama's bed! Please! I WOV YOU, MAMA!
Me: [hoping I only said this inside my head] Oh for fuck's sake, kid.

I carry her to our bed and lie down next to her. She wraps her chubby little arms around my neck and whispers, "Mama, please sing?" She falls asleep like that, with her cheek pressed against mine, listening to me sing her a lullaby. Big sister knows change is a-comin'. I guess I'll allow her to be the baby for just a little while longer. And I'm supposed to be the "bad cop" to Dusty's "good cop". There goes all my street cred.

"Hazy Shade of Winter" as covered by the Bangles. Yes, the Bangles. I know Simon and Garfunkel wrote it, so shut up.