My Month Long Labor Experience

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Labor can’t be a month long! Can it? Unfortunately, as myself and other unlucky women have discovered with no help from our doctors, it can.

I had my daughter three years ago, and it was rough from start to finish so I thought I had a good idea of what to expect this time around! And while picking my husband up from work, he, too, noticed I was not myself last month. I was crouched forward in some unusual position instead of leaning back, fully upright in my seat, glaring out of the window and barely moving my eyes between him and the road when he was speaking to me. I didn’t even have to explain I had stumbled into Stage One Labor to him at that point, he was on the phone with his friends and family explaining he had to cancel some plans with them because I seemed to be progressing. This was the stage I only stayed in for two hours when I had my daughter.

A week went by, and I was still stuck going between bed and the shower. Irregular contractions, tipsy emotions, severe pressure, and the instincts that come into play during Stage One Labor can make you feel like you’re going to snap as it is, but when a whole week passes… But, I had read in a couple of places that it could last a week for some women so I continued to wait. It had been a week by then, maybe it was going to be over that night, or the next. …Or the next?

Two weeks in, maybe I was mistaken. This couldn’t be possible! How could I still be sniffling my days away in bed and only able to sleep propped up in the bath with no baby to show for it? Crying, I made my way to the hospital and told them I needed to be seen, someone needed to check me and tell me what my body was up to, and at that point I didn’t care if the janitor was the one to do it. They chuckled and showed me to a room, where I changed into hospital gown and climbed into bed with those horrible monitors. I know they bring some people comfort, to hear all of their baby’s movements and see their heartbeat on a screen beside them, but for me they were just two, tight bands around my sensitive belly and I was unable to move to find comfort for myself without freaking out the machine and bringing a nurse back in to tell me to lay back in the same, painful position a while longer. A nurse eventually came in on her own time to check me and remove the straps, and her words shattered me. “Labor is no where near.”

No where near!? No! But I simply sat there, as frozen as my husband was in the chair beside me, withdrawing into my shell as she explained. My contractions were not strong enough, my water had not broken, I was not dilated enough, the baby was not in distress, and the waves of my back locking up until I could not breathe properly were likely from my anemia. Feeling broken, I quietly signed the forms to let me go home, and shuffled back to the car where I stared out of the window for the hour drive back. The next day, we went to see some in-laws, who asked if I was feeling better yet, only to realize I was truly hurt by the news I’d received and later apologizing.

I entered week number three with a trip to the doctor, not feeling any more hopeful than usual. My regular doctor was on her own maternity leave, and the one filling in for her never listened to me when I tried to ask questions. In fact, he often talked over me altogether. Still, I had written a list of my concerns and symptoms to give to him. Even if he ignored the list, or wrote them all off, they would be a file; if they were on file, maybe someone, at some point, would realize I had been trying to tell someone something was going on all this time. It might not help me this time, but it could make them listen to another woman more seriously, and save her some pain.

The nurse came in, who I had learned was only nice when she was being watched by a superior, and took my vitals. She read my list within two seconds it seemed, and laughed, “You may as well have written down that you’re pregnant!” and “There’s nothing we can do.” before walking out. I scowled and got my list off of the counter, sitting back down next to my daughter, who patted my arm and said, “The doctor will make you better, Mommy. My daughter is obsessed with doctors right now. She has three little doctor kits, a tiny white coat, and goes through too many cheap boxes of bandaids treating her patients that consist of us, the dogs, and a basket of stuffed animals. The house is constantly filled with her shouts about how we have to let her take our blood pressure and that she has a diagnosis for us. So when I go to the doctor, she loves to come and tell the nurses about taking blood pressure, patients need shots, and how to use an eye-chart so people can see right. As long as she was with me, I wouldn’t complain and ruin it for her. She wouldn’t understand at her age, and no parent wants to wipe the look of excitement and wonder off their child’s face.

Much to my surprise, a different doctor came in. He asked how I felt, and when I told him as honestly as ever, he asked into it and then he looked at my list. He checked me all over for signs of underlying issues, which made me feel better. Still, he did not offer me any comfort when it came to the pain I was still in. That was my biggest concern, what if there was something I could be doing and I didn’t know it? What if no one listened and I had a surprise home birth? I had my daughter in the bath with my husband, but this time I had severe anemia and couldn’t risk that kind of blood loss with over an hour to go to get to the hospital. So when the doctor walked out, I slowly gathered my strength to go back to the car in tears. Again, my daughter patted my arm, which made me feel worse for letting her see someone leaving a doctor’s office in a negative way. She told me, “It’s okay, Mommy. We’ll come back.”

More surprises! The door opened again and another doctor came in! I paused and was about to tell him I was just leaving if he needed to use the room when he shook my hand and said, “I heard you were ready to be done!” …Yes. Yes I am! He sat down and looked over everything on his own laptop, forming his thoughts I suppose, while my daughter hurried forward and told him with her hands on her hips, “Mommy doesn’t feel good! You need to take care of her!” He looked surprised and amused, told her he would try, and then asked me if I would be okay with being induced at the hospital. I lit up like a Christmas tree and nodded nonstop, saying yes, when could I go? He chuckled and explained the risks I already knew came with induction, and I quickly told him at this point I did not care. I just had to be done with this before I literally broke.

So I left the office smiling, having been given a box of newborn samples such as soap, rubber duckies, and the like, and was just waiting for someone to call me back with a day and time to go in the hospital. Someone listened to me! That was all I needed at the time to keep me going, someone who did not think I was exaggerating how I was feeling. But no one called me back that day. No one called the next day. My husband had to call before the office would close for the weekend and bug them until they could answer him. My appointment was set for the end of the following week. When I was told the news, I laid there as it sunk in, and tears slowly came out. Another week? How could I live through another week? If it really took that long, when I delivered I would be unable to do anything for my baby out of exhaustion. I could see it: laying in the hospital while the nurses and his dad did all the care taking for him while I did nothing but sleep. Or laying in bed at home with him, recovering my own self physically for the first days and missing out on the same first days of bonding that I had with my daughter. I knew how that had gone before, I could not face it again.

I searched all over the internet with anything remotely similar to my situation in the hopes of finding out what I could be experiencing. If I knew what was really going on with me, maybe I could accept it better, maybe I could call the doctor again and they would believe me one more time. Finally, I found the term “Prodromal Labor.” It lead on to describe a lot of what I had been going through, and lead me to other experiences with it women had shared, and more sites that I could look through that might be able to help me either cope with it in the meantime or perhaps speed things along. Again, I was crying. But now they were happy tears. I wasn’t imagining things! There wasn’t something wrong with me! There were things I could try to help myself with! I excitedly showed the link of information to my relatives, posted it online for my friends to see since they had spend many nights listening to me repeat my distress to them, and joined a small, online support group for others in the same shoes.

My days and nights are still the same: I wake up every twenty minutes at night from the voice in my head demanding I wake up and pace the house one or two times, the slightest comment or too many people talking to me in the same minute can make me either cry or scream at someone, my husband has to help me balance to avoid running into walls and support me on the toilet since it hurts too much to sit down properly, I have to ride in a wheelchair outside of the house or my anemia makes me pass out, several times every day and night my back locks up until my husband has to push on my back to let me breathe so much he risks bruising me, I can’t roll in or out of bed on my own, I can’t dress myself or dry my legs on my own between the stomach, back, and broken rib pain, and the irregular but constantly obvious contractions leave me wasting daylight in the dimly lit bathtub to hold off some of the pain. When it’s time to get out, I cry simply knowing that the moment I am out of the warm water, it will all crash back into me – I won’t be able to move properly again, and all the weight cracking down on my pelvis will come back in what can be knee-buckling proportions. Every morning I get up before everyone else and stare at the clock thinking, “____ days left until it’s over. It’s so far away…what can I do to make it through today?” and then begin my quest to make it to the next day be it by dozing on and off in the tub again, sitting outside on a lawn chair to get some fresh air, or just laying in bed folding and refolding baby clothes.

In a few days, I will be posting my birth story on here, and probably mentioning somewhere in that I finally made it. I cannot wait. 🙂

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Be Prepared, and Listen!

It is around this time of year when more horse lovers come back out into the weather to travel and explore with their equine friends, and in honor of that I am writing this post about the time my friend and I found ourselves stuck in the woods when a ride took too long to complete.

I grew up learning to ride horses, and went on to get my own (Skeeter) when I had severe depression. He and I were too close for it to be described. We were riding around the neighborhood when I met my friend, T, who needed a companion to ride with since she was still gaining confidence and wanted to learn the area better. For years we rode together; up and down mountains, swimming in creeks and rivers, exploring trails long overgrown in the woods – things to be thankful we spent time building trust doing before we became stranded.1964800_1462136380670224_794634784_n

Just like any other ride, we left with the sun high in the sky, saddlebags full of snacks, water bottles, first aid supplies and our phones. Her horse was not up to the ride that day, so she borrowed one of mine (Reno) who I had used to train many beginner riders before then, but he was still capable of riding on advanced trails when asked to.

I knew this trail. It was the first one I had ever ridden since moving to Tennessee, and I had ridden it start to finish and back again; in the winter, fall, spring, and summer; on four of my horses and a neighbor’s horse. I knew this trail. It’s called “Mayham,” annually used in part of off-road vehicle races, and on horseback it takes two to three hours to cross. No problem when you leave early in the day, right?

T and Reno seemed to get along well, and quickly her confidence came out upon adjusting to his easy pace and familiar riding grounds. However, somewhere around half way through our trip both horses began to slow down and become unnerved. Normally they plodded along half asleep, but now their heads were held high as they looked back and forth through the trees and flared their nostrils, sniffing the air deeply until we rounded a corner to find something surprising. In the middle of our path sat a truck, burned to it’s shell. We could still smell it, I can’t imagine what the horses could smell. It was obvious this truck was not some wrecked off-roader – it was an older flatbed, sitting calmly in the middle of the trail, miles from where vehicles could safely travel.

The horses refused to pass it no matter how much we kicked them forward, instead, trying to turn around and hurry back the way we had just come. It got to the point that we lead them past the truck ourselves, cautious of how tense they were in case they suddenly jumped sideways or off the trail entirely. Once on the other side, and back in our saddles, we focused on finishing the ride without anymore unusual finds and taking things slow until our mounts calmed back down. And then the thing I never expected to see happened: Reno lost his cool. His eyes rolled into his head, his mouth opened wide with spit flying out, and he bolted down the trail ahead of Skeeter and I with no sign of stopping.

Poor T! She, much like myself, had been sure he would treat her like he had so many other riders: calm and steady. This was a horse that had been with me in parades, walking through traffic, stood in rapids, seen wild wolves and bears, and survived a vicious dog attack without being phased – and now he was running from something in a panic about …well we didn’t know. Eventually I realized he was not going to stop, and we were getting off the trail, so I told T she was going to have to jump off. She did, and stood with Skeeter while I ran up to Reno who had gotten blocked by some trees further ahead. He was pouring sweat and between wide-eyed glances behind us, he would kick out at the air. I checked his saddle, I looked for cuts, or even a wasp that could have gotten him – nothing.

10365815_1482350345315494_3346993002586189067_nNow T and I were both as nervous as the horses. We know they can see, hear, and smell far more than we do out there. Who or what was behind us? But there was no escaping. By the time I had caught up to my runaways, gotten back on the trail, and walked as far as we could in the remaining daylight, we had reached where the trail narrows between cliffs and vertical caves. I don’t know about you, but I am not riding through an area like that in the dark with nervous animals.

I got my phone out and called my family, and T called hers to update them. We told them we were okay, we were towards the end of Mayham, but it was too dangerous to ride down in the dark so we were going to sit right there. Then I called the emergency line, and told them the same thing. To save our batteries, the operator only called us back to tell us when the search and rescue team had reached the mountain we were on and to make sure we were still okay. And we only called him to update him when things got scary (as if sitting in the dark in the woods on a mountain with wild predators would ever be enough for us!). The horses had spent the time dozing off while standing over us, occasionally leaning down to nuzzle our cheeks to be comforting when we were getting too emotional about the situation between jokes and stories, but now they were standing tall and staring into the darkness, sniffing the air again.

The operator was less than thrilled to hear our update was not that we had been found after hours of the initial report, but rather that we could hear men on the ridge above us, see lantern light up there, and occasional gunfire. It was not any sort of hunting season – anyone who who was up there firing guns at night was not a good guy. I hung up to get rid of the phone light, and we stood petting the horses to keep them quiet until the other people seemed to move on. It was the longest part of the night, to be honest.

Around 2:00AM, the S&R team found us. We were relived to see them, our horses, not so much. By now I’m sure Skeeter and Reno thought anyone else up there was bad news, and they were quick to puff up and step between the team members and ourselves, staring intently at them and snapping their teeth at them when they tried to let them sniff their hands. No one was upset with them, thankfully, we all knew they were just trying to protect us, and we began to follow the trail by spotlight the short distance down to the end of the trail. Still, looking side to side and seeing the cliffs and wide cave mouths was intimidating when it was in your head that you could have blindly walked right off the edge anytime earlier in any attempt to escape the mountain’s night.

When we reached the road, the S&R team immediately had to leave and go back into the mountain on yet another call of someone stranded up there, and T and I were tackled into a crushing hug by her mother who had parked alongside our rescuers and waited all that time for us.

The next time we rode up there, however early we left, we took a tent and spotlights just in case.

Impossible

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It was some time after John had gone to bed that I decided to follow. He’d left a lot for me to do again, and the idea of following the same nightly routine caused me to take longer to pull myself up from the cool tile. It wasn’t really his fault. He spent every day going between classes and work, and while I had no experience with either of those, I can only imagine sitting in one place listening to someone go on and on about one thing while you wrote so many notes that your fingers threatened to fall off is enough without going spend the remainder of your time standing behind a counter doing whatever was asked of you when someone walked up. At least, I wouldn’t want to do it.

My eyes drooped heavily, not seeing what movie was playing now as I pressed my nose against the power button, a little irritated to hear the static right before the television fully powered down. I was glad he had colored the different knobs with different markers. Sure, they were for him when he was too out of it to focus on anything, but it also helped those of us who couldn’t read. It was easier for me to spot the red circle than it was to make out the strange characters that spelled out the options. It was also easier to toss his discarded shirt over my back than it was to carry it between my jaws as I went on to my other tasks.

Again, he’d left the back door unlocked. I know it’s not facing the street, but how was this acceptable? I came from the woods though that door, didn’t he know there were things out there that needed to stay out there? As the deadbolt clicked into place, I sighed. He did know. I remember looking up when he came outside to see the pack of angry wolves coming for me when I found myself laying on the porch, seeing a gun anyone else would have pointed at me pointed at them instead. It probably wouldn’t have done more than sting them if he had used it, but they let the chase go. Still, why didn’t he just leave me out there?

After pulling the curtains and turning off the bathroom light, I stepped into the bedroom, pausing to glance at the sleeping figure on the bed as I continued to think about him. I spent months rejecting him after he took me in; not letting him pet me or even sit near me, sneering at the food he kept giving me, growling when he kept trying …I’d even tried to leave the next day after being saved, but for some reason hearing him ramble about how animals from the same species could be so unforgiving to each other, knowing he didn’t actually mean the pack coming after me made me stick around.

My limbs shortened and lost the dark fur as they lifted me onto the bed, sending me from a walk to a crawl, my scratchy and sharp clawed paws slowly recognizing the feel of the sheets as they softened into hands and flimsy nails. Even if my parts changed, my senses stayed focused on the sprawled out form that snored beneath my gaze, no longer sharp and yellow, but round and soft eyes to look over his terribly attempted facial hair and shadowed eyes. For nearly two years now I had been the least friendly house pet anyone could have, and he was always nice to me. Even on bad days he had never taken anything out on me, and I doubt it was because I was technically bigger than he was. He was just a good guy all around, and the most I could do in return was to lay silently nearby while he occasionally told me about what weighed on his mind.

Shaking my head at his silliness, I leaned forward off of my knees and brushed the back of my fingers over the side of his face. My claws were gone right now, but my mind would always warn me not to hurt him. His skin was warm and instinct told me to curl up against his company, but I knew to stop here. Any more and I would wake him, and I was already lucky not to scare him the way he knew me. Poor John …he didn’t know he had something in his house that he would never want around.

With a final sigh, I turned for the foot of the bed, my bones crackling and insides groaning like the bed as he shifted in his sleep, covering up my late night return to something no one liked. The thought of John being one of those people – if he knew – made my eyes burn as I settled in just in time to hear his breathing pause. I held mine, too, listening to him slowly sit up. The silence carried on until he eventually reached out to pat my back.

“Goodnight, girl,” he yawned, laying back down, probably thinking it was just my climbing onto the bed that woke him.

Poor, naive John. The fur below my eyes soaked up tears unnatural for a wolf as I closed them for the night. Poor, dumb me.

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Disclaimer: The photo is not my own, nor do I claim it.

The words in this scene, however, are my own! Thank you for reading!

– Caitlin Popplewell, http://www.fiverr.com/mrspopplewell

I got a Promotion!

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First and foremost: Thank you all so much who helped me get this promotion! I could type it a hundred times, and put just as many exclamation marks, but it would not be enough to express how grateful I am to have been able to come this far. It really means a great deal, and it’s something I have been looking forward to since I started.

Honestly I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning, and then things continued to throw wrenches into my daily grind, but then I logged online to look for any new messages. That’s really all I expected: messages, if anything. So to see that I got another order (From someone I have worked with in the past, no less! That makes this experience all the more meaningful for me.) that got me promoted to a Level One Seller simply blew me and any negativity away.

Now, for those of you who do not understand what this promotion means, when you begin at Fiverr, you start out as just that: a beginner. You work your way up from there – Level One, Level Two, and finally earn the title of a Top Rated Seller. To have reached this first huge milestone is just amazing. So again, I thank everyone who has helped me get here!

Link to Fiverr: http://www.fiverr.com/
Link to Levels: https://www.fiverr.com/levels
Link to my Fiverr Profile: http://www.fiverr.com/mrspopplewell

Beginnings

I spent the majority of my childhood alone, and in place of physical friends and adventure my mind came up with various characters I could pick stories and feelings for. Though I was too young to write what I could envision down when this began, I continued to come up with more and more that I would one day write down. When that day came, my writing never stopped. Since then, I have written up countless stories and also a great deal of informational papers on things I had researched to ridiculous lengths. And when I’m not busy filling blank pages with my research and imaginary adventures, I have enjoyed helping out others in proofreading and adding on to their own papers before they turned in their work.

For years I brushed off suggestions to take it further, to see if I could earn any money by doing what I obviously loved. It was simply a hobby in my mind and I only took those suggestions seriously when I became a stay at home mom. Why not spend my free time between cleaning and chasing down kids doing something I was passionate about if I could continue to help others and also turn a profit from it? So I did what I love to do: I researched. Eventually, I came upon the site I currently use to market my gigs, and began to reach further and further out into the internet community in order to gain experience, advice, and popularity. I do not regret what I have started, even if I am still a small time freelancer.

One day I hope to go on to bigger tasks, expanding from research and reviews for my clients to writing far more in-depth works and editing for others before I consider going even bigger – possibly publishing one of my own stories. For now, however, I am glad to be building things up; my name, my confidence, my sales, and most importantly the trust I get from my clients.

– Caitlin Popplewell, http://www.fiverr.com/mrspopplewell