What's in a name? Everything.

[My mom, with Semisi, the day we took him home from the hospital.]

Tonight my mom went home after having been here since Semisi's birth, and it's difficult for me even now to think of the words I could use to thank her for her presense during the transition of bringing out little man home. Tonight, for the first time, it's just Paul, Semisi, and Me, and tomorrow, it will just be my son and I.

Wow. My son.

My mom told me once that having a kid is like losing a parent in terms of the depth with which it impacts your life...only in reverse, because it's a joyous occasion and obviously you're bringing someone in to the world rather than saying good-bye. I could relate to this, because when I lost my father over two and a half years ago (good God...it's been that long?), I remember feeling like my friends who hadn't lost a parent - though AMAZINGLY supportive in every way possible, simply couldn't understand the way it changes your life. Someday they will, but after my Dad passed away, I had a deep connection with those friends of mine who'd lost parents. It was a sort of "knowing"...an unspoken understanding...particularly with the friends of mine who'd lost a parent to cancer, as that's a cruel disease and a terrifying way to watch someone pass from this life to the next.

Now that I'm a parent, I feel as though I have an understanding among my friends who are also parents. Let me be clear: many are probably like, "FINALLY! She GETS it." Certainly I'm no WISER than I was before, but I am already beginning to see the world they way they've seen it since their children entered their lives. I'll continue to learn, they'll continue to suppress their "I told you so's", but from here on out I understand that nothing will be the same.

There will now always be three where there was once two.

At least until he's 18.

Right Semisi? You will be 18, and not 32...RIGHT?

Because of what my mom said to me that day, when my husband suggested, were we to have a son, we name him SEMISI, Tongan for James, after my father, I couldn't think of anything more fitting. His middle name, Michael, is my step-father's first name.

So welcome little man. You've got a lot to live up to. Either way, we still love you...because after all, that's what parenthood is about. I've already learned this much.

[Me, with my Dad...30 years ago.]


Parenthood 101: Keeping Your Baby Alive Without Having a Nervous Breakdown

Warning: I'm too tired to proof read this. Don't judge me for typos.

Dudes. This shit is hard. And I have it easy, because Semisi? The kid never cries. I shit you not. He sleeps, eats, poops, and lets out an occasional grunt, and that's. about. it. So you're all probably like, "Cry me a river!" and "Where's my violin?!?!" and "I suppose your diamond shoes don't fit either, you lucky bastard!??!" You would be right to say all of those things on the baby front. He's rad. But it's not him. It's ME!

This sounds like a bad break up story. NO I AM NOT BREAKING UP WITH MY BABY. Come ON. It hasn't even been two weeks yet. I have to at least let him take me out for Thai food first. DUH.

Okay, but in all seriousness, trying to keep this kid alive is tough work. I almost had a mental breakdown the first week. There are a few reasons for this.

After having the little man home for a few days (two...TWO days) we were scheduled to go in for a quick follow up appointment with our doc to get him weighed...and we did not get good news at this appointment. We discovered that he's lost almost a whole pound since his birth, and that he was getting little to no nourishment from the boob. Basically the little guy was just a sucking away and was getting NADA from me...much to my surprise.

Of course, because he'd only been born a few days earlier, I was a damn basket case, so this, along with the tumbleweed blowing across the doctor's parking lot, made me break in to tears. We were sent home and forced to feed him formula, which we've been doing right along side some serious attempts on my part to pump some milk out of these gigantic boobs of mine.

For a few days, I got nothing...NOTH.ING. Then I'd get an ounce a pumping session, which is basically enough to keep a knat alive for an hour. However, slowly but surely, I'm getting a little more at a time and we're able to give him what little I can pump while supplementing with formula.

Why am I telling you all this? Well I don't know!??! Why are you reading? I guess I expected breast feeding to be some damned hippie ass experience where I would casually lift of my shirt and my son would nuzzle in and drink to his heart's content, giving me a slight hand signal when he'd have enough...upon which he would roll away and begin hiccuping and rubbing his belly in satisfaction...maybe saying something like, "That's some good shit."

But instead, I was basically starving my kid. NOT exactly how I pictured all of that playing out.

Partner this with my uncontrollable urge to cry every five seconds and my constant fear that every thing ELSE I was doing was putting my baby's life in GRAVE danger too, and well, the "experts say breast milk is best" warning on the side of the formula can label can just go F*@& itself.

My psychotic fit of hormone induced wailing has been a damn joy ride for Paul, let me tell you.

Because everything I do feels like it's putting my kid in danger. It's like, if I hold him this way, or burp him that way, HE COULD DIE. AND OTHER BABIES MIGHT DIE JUST BECAUSE I DID IT WRONG. JUST BECAUSE.

But it's getting better. I wake up each morning with a huge sense of relief that we've managed to keep our child alive for yet another day - this brings me a great feeling of accomplishment. And our kid seems happy.

Yet, I'm still a total basket case, and I'm looking forward to the day when I can just enjoy motherhood without being scared to death of it. But the good news is Paul is leading me through this adventure - and he stays as calm and collected as always, which is precisely why I married him. And my mom, who just retired after 35 years of doing day care, is here helping. So really, I have nothing to worry about, right? RIGHT???


So...tell me something good! Tell me you thought you were going to accidentally kill your baby every five minutes too! Tell me it gets better! Tell me it will all be okay! Tell me that not breastfeeding my kid every ounce he takes in will not result in a major arrested development!

Or tell me to shut the hell up and go eat the cheeks off of my sweet baby boy.

Yeah, that sounds like a plan.

Ohhh...and here's our week, in photos. As you can see, Paul is doing everything...likely because I'm off crying in a corner shouting "I'm killing him!"

In between those fits of hysteria, I managed to get these pictures:

Yes. That's a maxi pad. That's the shit they give you at the hospital. Scared yet, mom-to-be-who-have-never-been?

It's not the baby that's exhausting him. Trust me.

Pure bliss. OH YEAH. THIS is why I had a kid with this man.


The...ehem...birth story.

WARNING: NOT for the faint of heart.

Dear Kid,

Welcome! We're so glad you're here. Mostly, my troll feet thank you for finally evicting yourself so that my ankle bone might once again make an appearance. Seriously, I think my colleagues at work were sick of me saying, "GET A LOAD OF THIS!" every time they walked into my office as I lifted up my pant leg to show off my club foot of an ankle. Apparently the side effects of pregnancy just aren't that interesting to everyone.

So, you're a dude. BIG SURPRISE there. I'm not even being sarcastic there. That was a big. effing. surprise...to everyone except your grandmother, and she'll be the first to tell you that because no one loves being right more than she does. Except for me. So, although I'm just tickled pink (sorry, bad choice of words) that you're a HE, I hated saying I was wrong about something.

Here's how we found out you were a boy:

About 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, the 26th of October, I was getting some serious signals from you that you might be making your grand appearance. (Actually, that's kind of a lie. One of my colleagues was like, "Girl! You're in LABOR! GO HOME!" (Hi Shelley!)

So I headed home from work, called your Dad, and then called the hospital. Of course, at that point, the hospital was all, "Dude, quit calling. Your contractions are like, 10 minutes apart, fool! Call back when they're two to five minutes apart."


That seemed like a damn eternity. But WHATEVER. I was determined not to be that girl that gets sent home mostly because I couldn't handle that type of discouragement.

But then around 2:00 a.m. it was clear that you weren't messing around, so I stuck it out for a few more hours then I made this dramatic phone call to nurse and really hammed it up so she would believe me, and so she was like, "FINE, you can come in." And off your dad and I went to the hospital.

When we got to the hospital, the nurse checked me, and I was dilated to a 4. You don't get what that means. Some day I'll explain it to you, but anyway, it basically meant I could stay. But THEN the nurse was all, "You need to go walk the hall for 15 minutes" and I was all, "Bitch PLEASE!"...because walking at that point seemed like, SUPER hard. But I did it, and had contractions the whole time, and you made it very clear that you were ready to GO!

Then I was dilated to a 6, and the nurses were all, "Epidural?" and I was all, "Yes, please!" and HOLY SHIT SWEET NECTAR OF THE GODS OF ALL THINGS THAT ARE FUZZY AND WARM THAT'S SOME GOOD SHIT.

Except you like, can't feel the bottom half of your body with one of those things. Did you know that? Could you feel the bottom half of YOUR body? Because I could not.

Checking on the dilation progress after that point was interesting, because remember when I said I couldn't feel the bottom half of my body? Well your 300 lb lineman of a father had to help move my legs so they could check out the progress DOWN THERE, and I swear to you that my legs felt so heavy I was all, "HONEY YOUR ASS IS GONNA NEED SOME HELP LIFTING THESE THINGS."

But he was able, apparently, and low and behold! I was dilated to a seven and shit was getting SERIOUS! Your grams and gramps drove on over (from three hours away) and were there by our sides by 7:30 a.m. and I was encouraged that you and I were going to meet one another REAL soon.

Then, ummm, things just stopped.

Fast forward to 6:00 pm THAT NIGHT and I was STILL at a seven. Dude. WORK WITH ME. You were not. By this point I had conceded to a bit of pitocin, but you were annoyed with that so we had to stop. Then I was annoyed enough to go ahead and give myself a 102 degree fever, then you were annoyed and raised your heart rate, and things were getting out of control. Then the physician (bless her sweet lil' heart!) was all, "We're not messing around anymore. We're-a-gonna-go-ahead and get shit moving." And she, well, "checked" me again and did some handy work up there and we finally got things going.

Then just before 10:00 p.m., I started to push (for those of you who aren't keeping track, this means I have been in labor for 30 hours...but nbd. Whatevs). At this point, I'd lost ALL sense of modesty, and although I had originally wanted it to just be Paul and I in the room, I was totally fine with two of your grandmas setting up shop, too. Then your dad had to hold up my 300 lb leg and a way we went!

For another 2 hours.

And then finally (FINALLY) the nurses and doc were all, "I CAN SEE HAIR!" And between you and me I knew they were talking about YOUR hair, so I really gave it the good ole' college try. And I'm sorry, but when they offered to use the vacuum, even though I knew it would give you a cone head, I was all, "HELL YEAH I WANT YOU TO USE THE VACUUM!"

(Your father would want me to mention that he was trying to encourage me NOT to use the vacuum. There are a variety of reasons why his opinion, at this point, did not matter. When you have a wife and kid of your own, I'll be sure to remind you that your opinion won't matter either.)

And then BOOM! Out you came! Of my vagina, I mean. And you were screaming your ass off. And aside from the epidural, that's the best thing I felt all day. And people were all, "It's a BOY!" and I was all, "Nu-uh it ISN'T!" But you were. You were a boy. You are a boy.

And I am so, so, so, so, so OKAY with that.

Because I didn't think I could love another boy like I love your Dad, but here you go proving me wrong already.

So welcome, little man. Thanks for being cute, and thanks for...you know...changing my life...and stuff.


P.S. Shannon - this one's for you. I totally pooped. Cheers!
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