Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Invasion of the Usurper

"No really. I come in PEACE!"
My first experiences with pregnancy tests were mystifying. I remember buying a two pack so that we could be absolutely sure I was pregnant. We bought the cheapest test we could find because our budget was too low to afford the top-of-the-line name brands. I would say that in retrospect we should have just shelled out the extra bucks, but when I get to the story of my second-born it's clear that price doesn't really matter.

I made my appointment with my first ever official OBGYN (Paragon) when I was pregnant with Lilah, and went in assuming that they would give me a pregnancy test in the office to make absolutely sure. Imagine my surprise when I was simply led into a comfortable office and given a welcome packet and some papers to sign. I was told "Congratulations!" and sent on my way. I asked the midwife about the pregnancy test, and she said, "Wait. You don't know if you're pregnant?" So I had to explain to her....

No. We were not 100% certain we were pregnant. I actually ended up taking three tests to make sure. Every single one I took came up with the same result. The lines were faded and it didn't look as if even the test could tell for sure one way or another. So I had hoped that they would confirm my suspicions at this office visit. She scheduled me for an ultrasound the following day and it turned out I was right. That's a relief for someone who's always had a regular and predictable menstrual cycle. I was starting to suspect I was having one of those phantom pregnancies, because I wanted a baby so bad.

Fast forward nine months from that point and you've already read that story.

This story is not about Lilah, but pregnancy tests are how we open the tale. Exactly one year, five months, and twenty-three days after Your Future Overlord came into this world, I walked half a mile up the road to our local Dollar Store to pick up another pregnancy test, which cost me one whole dollar, while my husband as at work, to confirm whether or not my suspicions were true.

One test.

One dollar.

One undeniably positive result.

I did not expect to have much luck in getting a result as unmistakably clear as the one you see above. Given my previous experience with trying to determine whether or not I was right about my first-born, I was absolutely stunned when this happened. So stunned that I took a picture! This test should have come with a Genie inside to tell me just how certain it was that things were going as planned. Minus dejected Aladdin wandering away. I was so thrilled that it took every ounce of willpower in my being not to text my husband right away to tell him what I had done. I'm proud of myself for managing to wait until he got home from work. It probably helped that I had a demanding toddler keeping me distracted.

We announced we were expecting #2 at a Father's Day brunch at my sister-in-law's house that year. I didn't do a very good job of hiding it. I'm sure I was glowing so brightly the news could be seen from outer space. I said to my sister-in-law, "We have an announcement to make." To which she said, "What. You're pregnant?" Ding! Her mother-in-law said pretty much the same thing. So much for surprising everybody! Haha! We saved our worldwide Facebook announcement until after we got our first ultrasound.

Jamie and I had talked about having kids since before we even got married. That was one of the selling points that sealed the deal of spending our own personal eternities together. We both wanted children. Before we ever started having any, I knew I wanted three. He tells me he's happy with however many I want to give him, even a hundred, even if we adopt. 

Now that I have two I've been rethinking my original plan. One child is a piece of cake. Two? Two is hard.

If I had known then what I know now... I probably would have still gone through with it. 

During our discussions, we talked about how close we wanted our kids to be in age. I remember a young man I knew more than a decade back, before I met my husband, telling me about how he and his brother grew up to be the best of friends. They were only a year apart in age. Such a testimony from someone I knew, though not exactly well, left an impact. I carried that concept with me up until the day Jamie and I decided we were ready to have children of our own.

So we planned to have our second one close enough in age to Lilah so that they could be friends. Not so close that it would be painful for me, though. One cesarean had been pretty rough. I wanted to try to go for a VBAC with the second one, having felt like the complications Lilah gave me cheated me out of that experience. I was still at an improved, healthier weight from my first pregnancy, having only lost twenty pounds of my ending pregnancy weight a year and a half after her birth. While mentally I was totally prepared for it, and the doctors assured me that I was a prime candidate for vaginal delivery, fate decided otherwise yet again.

Whereas my firstborn came to us three weeks earlier than expected, our second child came one week late.

On Superbowl Sunday.

At my 40 week well-visit, the doctor told me that if she didn't come by the weekend then they would schedule a c-section for me for the following week. Doctors apparently don't like to let babies gestate longer than 41 weeks. I guess that can cause unwanted complications if they cook that long. Baby #2 must have heard her eviction notice, because she started to put in some effort that morning starting at 7:00 AM.

That was the first time I ever felt contractions. They weren't strong, but I felt them. Just like they're described on just about every single website on the great wide Intrawebz. I kept a log, timing them. How long they lasted. When each one started. Until about 3:00 when I called the nurse's hotline at the hospital, because my doctor's office was, of course, closed. They told me to come in. I did.

Get this monster out of me!
I was 41 weeks pregnant. Fat. Tired. My feet had been swollen for practically a month. I could hardly breathe walking down the stairs. I was done and ready to get that baby out of me! She was making an admirable effort, but not enough. My preliminary exam showed that I was not even dilated a single centimeter! Still, the doctors wanted to admit me and hook me up with some pitocin, because she had been in there for so long. It was time, they said, and I wholeheartedly agreed.

We ended up watching the Super Bowl in the birthing room, because what else was there to do! We were more prepared this time around. I had my bag packed a month ahead of time. We brought my husband's laptop and availed ourselves of the free hospital Wi-Fi. I walked laps around the maternity triage. An hour later, they checked me and were happy to report that I was one centimeter dilated. I was starting to feel stronger contractions. I rolled around on the yoga ball. I whimpered and whined. Another hour later, they checked me again. Still only one centimeter.

Eventually the doctor came in. He looked concerned. He told me that generally they liked to see a progression of one centimeter every hour after the administration of pitocin. That wasn't happening with me. He said if I didn't start progressing soon he was going to have to do a c-section, that the longer this went on the greater the risks became.

I was tired. I finally asked for some drugs. They gave me morphine. When the doctor came back in some time around 10:30, he still looked concerned. I was ready to get that baby out of me! So I gave in, and at 10:54 PM on February 3, 2013, the Usurper to the throne of Your Future Overlord came into this world.

She's been a daddy's girl ever since.
We named her Amelia, because Doctor Who. Some time years before, after Lilah was born, I remember seeing a name rather frequently in magazines and online articles. So we chose that as her middle name simply because I liked the look of it. Also: Charmed. Thus was the Usurper dubbed with the name Amelia Paige.

Her sister is solely responsible for the majority of all the other nicknames we've called the little monster since. Sometimes she's Mia. Other times she's Millie. Don't ask me why, but I find myself referring to her as Bugbear now and then, too. Probably because she's grown into a little, unstoppable, bulldozing toddler. Did I mention her first birthday is less than a month away already!?

At 8 pounds, 8 ounces and measuring 20.5 inches long, she came out a big bigger than her sister. I imagine a world when as teenagers they'll be sharing clothes from the same closet. Hopefully peacefully. Without arguing. If the Usurper keeps growing the way she has been, that future may be closer than I initially predicted! This time last year, her sister was wearing the same size clothes she is now!

Did I mention that raising two kids is hard? You know . . . it's easy to forget that when there are moments like these:

"Bye, Ma! We're goin' to the moon!"

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