An Ode to the Epidural

epidural

If I were to rank the things I want to do in life, having a baby without an epidural would rank just above visiting Iraq and just below seeing the Grateful Dead in concert (did I just alienate some Grateful Dead fans? I’d like to say I am sorry, but I am not. I just don’t get it.) But sometimes the gods have other things in mind.

Seven months ago, I had a baby. He’s a chill little guy who pretty much grins at everything and has been that way since he was born. He is a stark contrast to my extremely energetic (read – holy shit, he’s crazy) three year old. I have decided that I was granted such a chill kid because I delivered him without an epidural. Not by choice.

When I arrived at the hospital and we realized that the baby was going to make his appearance, the doctor asked me about my birth plan. I blinked a few times and said “push the baby out?” Being my second baby, I had not given an ounce of thought to a birth plan because I was too busy chasing around a two year old and trying to ignore the blinding pain in my pelvis from being pregnant. The one thing I did know, however, was that I wanted that damn epidural more than an Italian sub. And since I am from New Jersey, you know that is saying a lot.

After informing the doctor that (1) I am a very big wimp with an even bigger mouth and (2) she should immediately call the anesthesiologist to avoid me scaring the other unsuspecting women trying to give birth in peace, I settled in to watch some tv and wait for things to happen. They hooked me to up to an IV, gave me some fluids and assured me that the anesthesiologist was on his way. This was around 5:00.

About an hour later, I had gone from cracking jokes about my low threshold for pain to screaming at my husband WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME, over and over. Why, you ask? Because the anesthesiologist never showed up. And when he finally did come strolling in at 6:10 while TALKING ON HIS PHONE, it was too damn late. My son was born at 6:18. That’s right. One hour and 18 minutes after I got set up in the delivery room. Those second babies, they come fast.

As a side note, my recovery with my second baby was much quicker than with my first (where I did have an epidural). Do I know if there is a correlation? No. But I tell myself there is because then it feels like I planned it this way.

The moral of this story?

1. Don’t stop at a deli on the way to the hospital to get a sandwich because you think you aren’t really in labor. (Yes, I did this. Obviously I love sandwiches.) Just go right to the hospital and let someone else actually qualified to make that decision check you out. Then get a sandwich. You are pregnant and you deserve it.

2. The women who voluntarily choose to give birth without an epidural are superheroes. Each one should have a monument erected in her honor. I labored for about an hour and pushed twice and thought the world was ending. I can’t imagine how it feels when labor and delivery take the normal amount of time.

3. If you want it, ask for the epidural immediately. Don’t wait until you feel pain. Trust me, the pain will come. The anesthesiologist may not.

Traveling with Two Kids

travel with two kids

This past summer, in a sleep deprived moment, I agreed to meet my husband in Chicago to visit some good friends. Sounds fun, right? But there was a catch. I would be traveling by myself with both of my kids since my husband was flying out earlier in the week to attend a conference. As the trip approached earlier this month, I began to experience the same emotions as the stages of grief – Denial (seriously, what was I thinking?) Anger (who on earth thought this was a good idea?), Bargaining (if my three year does not have a meltdown in security, I will stop online shopping), Depression (there is no hope for me) and then finally, the morning I was leaving, Acceptance (FINE, I will go).

Since I am writing this, I obviously survived. It wasn’t pretty, but the three of us made it to Chicago, uninjured and in one piece. There may have been a pee incident in the airplane bathroom, but what happens at 30,000 feet, stays there. Along the way, I came up with a few tips about traveling with two small children.

1. Bring as little as possible. My inclination is to always overpack. I bring a fully stocked diaper bag to the park around the corner just in case there is a zombie apocalypse. But when you are wrangling two kids, pare down your carry-ons as much as humanly possible. I ended up with one diaper bag for the baby, a backpack for the three year old and a purse for me. I also brought a single umbrella stroller and an Ergo to wear the baby. Although my three year old would prefer to walk, I put him in the umbrella stroller and wore the baby through the airport so I didn’t have to worry about his propensity for making a break for it. I debated bringing the double stroller, but I am glad I did not because collapsing that stroller would have been torture while wearing the baby and keeping the three year old close.

2. Don’t be shy about asking for help. I am the worst about asking for and accepting help. Couple that with an aversion to talking to strangers and I was seriously out of my comfort zone. But in a couple situations, I just didn’t have a choice. (Grabbing bins at security while wearing a baby in an Ergo and holding your preschooler’s hand is just not humanly possible). And every person I asked was more than happy to help me. Asking for help made my life so much easier.

3. To a preschooler, airports are like amusement parks. These days, most people dread the thought of air travel. But to a young child, everything in the airport, from the machines at security, to the airplanes, to the snack section at Hudson News is SO. FREAKIN. COOL. Allow a little extra time to let your little one explore the airport and make the trek through security and to the gate an adventure. We had a rousing game of I-Spy that got us through the whole process.

4. Board last. Conventional wisdom says to get on the plane quickly so you can get settled. But have you ever met a preschooler who settles down? I found that letting the three year old move around the gate until the last possible minute made life much easier when we got on the plane. He also loved walking to our seats and waving hello to the other passengers. Boarding last also allowed me to put the baby in the stroller while my three year old walked around a bit, giving my back a break. The Ergo is a really easy way to carry a baby, but a 22 pound 6 month old (yes, you read that correctly), would make anyone’s back hurt.

5. Sit in the back of the plane. Most people hate being close to the bathroom. But when you have a baby who needs diaper changes and a potty trained preschooler, being close to the bathroom is key. You also get to take advantage of the space in the back of the plane if you need to stand with a baby and rock them. Plus the noise is surprisingly soothing to help the little ones sleep. Because a sleeping kid is the best traveler of all!

Photo credit: shyb / Foter / CC BY-NC

Kindermint

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I love shopping at thrift stores which carry brand name clothing, especially for my littles.  My rationale is that kids grow out of everything so fast, it’s a shame to buy things at full price, especially dressier attire which may only get one or two uses.  I love our local thrift shops, Once Upon a Child and Milk Money, but it’s hard to find the time to get over there to browse.  I recently discovered Kindermint, which is an online thrift shop for kids, size 12 months and up.  They have beautiful clothes, and I found myself with a shopping cart of adorable attire for my children in no time – all for an extremely reasonable price!

Here’s how it works: If you are interested in buying, then shop to your heart’s content, and pay a flat fee of $6.95 shipping for all your goodies.  If you are a first time customer, shipping is free!

If you are interested in selling, for the price of $4.95, Kindermint will send you a Mint Bag, which you fill with new and like-new children’s brand-name clothes and send in.  The clothing is appraised and you receive cash or a credit for the clothes which they turn around and sell.  Once you send in the bag, you are credited back the $4.95 amount of the Mint Bag.  Anytime you make a purchase, a complimentary Mint Bag is sent to you!  Clothing Kindermint chooses not to purchase from you gets donated to Habitat for Humanity.  And you get the tax write-off.  It’s a win-win!

Happy shopping, mamas!

Stuffed Baked Potatoes

Making stuffed baked potatoes is a quick, easy and fun way to involve your kids in making dinner. You can either make the same potato for everyone in your family or you can set out a topping bar so your kids can pick their own. It makes a great weeknight meal.

stuffed baked potatoes via @twohappymamas

You will need:

4 large baking potatoes
1 bag of frozen broccoli that you can steam in the microwave
4 tablespoons of plain fat-free Greek Yogurt
1/2 cup of diced ham or turkey
1 cup of sharp cheddar cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste

1. Wash and pierce holes into the potatoes with a fork. Cook the potatoes either in the oven at 400 degrees for approximately one hour or in the microwave for 15 minutes on high. Let cool.

2. After the potatoes have cooled, steam the broccoli according to the package instructions. Remove from packaging and chop the broccoli into bite sized pieces.

3. Lay the potatoes lengthwise and cut the top 1/4 off. Remove the inside of the potato, leaving a sturdy shell since you will be restuffing it. Combine the potato, 3 tablespoons yogurt, salt, pepper, ham or turkey 3/4 cup of cheese and broccoli. Fill each potato shell with the mixture. Top each potato with remainder of shredded cheese and yogurt.

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