Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ava's Birth Story

Now, here's a novel idea for a post, right?

It occurred to me this morning that I haven't written about Ava an awful lot. And this blog being named "All About Avacakes" I figured I should probably rectify that little situation. What better place to start than her entry to the world? Although I guess this really isn't as much about her as my experience with her getting here.

Little Ava was scheduled (loosely) to arrive on June 3, 2008. I say loosely, because my due date shifted no less than 3 times during the pregnancy. So around the end of May/beginning of June I would leave my office every night and tell my boss "I may see you tomorrow, I may not".

June 3 came and went with no baby. June 4 I left work as usual and headed home. I decided to lie down on the bed for a short rest while Darin started dinner. After a few minutes I got up, thinking I would head into the shower. When I got up, I felt liquid running down my leg. Umm....did I just pee myself? Turned out I couldn't control it, so I knew at that moment my water had broken. I went into the kitchen to tell Darin what happened. I said "Honey, my water just broke. This is it." He looked at me with a huge grin and said "Really?" I assured him, yes, this was the real deal. He of course wanted to rush to the hospital. I told him to go ahead and eat his dinner, since it would likely be a while before he got a meal again. So while he did that I hopped into the shower and got dressed. Yep, you heard me, I showered. God knows why, considering it was all for naught about 2 hours later. But I digress.

So off we go to the hospital at around 7pm. We tell the admitting nurse what has happened. They test the fluid to make sure it is indeed amniotic, and check us in. Off to the birthing suite!

We get settled in, hooked up to IV, monitors, the whole nine yards. But before that happened I had to go in and change. And throw up. That strawberry sundae I had at lunch came back to haunt me.

About an hour later, the contractions started. They weren't too bad at first, mainly just felt pressure. Fast forward a few hours, and I asked for IV pain meds. It was ratcheting up. Push IV drugs, which made me feel dizzy and loopy, but did NOTHING for the pain. So now the room is spinning AND I'm in pain. Great. Awesome. But I suffered through it for a few more hours because to be quite honest, I was freaking TERRIFIED of the epidural. The mere thought of a needle in my spine was more frightening to me than the pain.

Sometime in the wee hours of the morning, the nurse doctor, somebody decided that the contractions weren't strong enough, so they decided to administer Pitocin. What? I'm writhing here, and you're telling me it's going to get worse? So the Pitocin gets pushed and the contractions ramp up. A LOT. As in HOLY MOTHER OF GOD. At that point, I didn't care WHAT they stuck in to me or where, as long as I got some relief. So I broke down and told my husband I wanted the epidural. Turns out it wasn't anywhere near what I had feared. I finally got a little relief. But it only lasted a few hours, before one side of my body began feeling pain again, and the other, not wanting to be left out of all the fun, soon followed.

Anywho, this went on for several hours, until about 9 or 10 am. Finally got the word that we could start pushing. YAY! Doing something! WOOHOO!. So with each contraction, I pushed. And pushed. And pushed. And pushed. THREE SOLID FRICKIN HOURS. Still, no baby.

Turns out the only thing tiny on my anatomy turned out to be my pelvis. Ava simply could not fit through. Doctor ordered a C-Section. Now, what's funny here is I spend 9 months terrified at the thought of being cut open while awake. And here it was happening, and I was actually relieved. I didn't care at that point, I just wanted it over and to see my baby.

They got me prepped, doped me up again, this time REALLY good. I could barely even move my arms. My anesthesiologist was awesome, telling me everything that was going on as it happened. Soon they let Darin come back in and he took his place up by my head. Before I knew what happened, I heard Darin say to me "Did you hear that? Do you know what that is?" I shook my head no. He said "That's our daughter crying!" OMG!! She's out, she's here! I barely got to see here before they whisked her off for cleaning and assessment. I told Darin to go with her, that I was fine. And I was. My baby girl was finally here.

Welcome to the world little one.

Ava Elizabeth Riggs
Born 06/05/2008
7 pounds, 6oz
20 inches

****Edited to add weight, height, etc, because Momma is a moron who forgot to put in original post.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Yesterday I read and commented on a blog post regarding the WOHM (Work Outside Home Mom).

I read the blog author's post, and immediately wanted to go hug her. She's having a tough time transitioning back to the work place. She has a full time job, kids, a business on the side. She's had to deal with sick kids, and an obviously not understanding boss. She's got a tough row to hoe.

Yet instead offering her sympathy, most commenters went on the attack. Sure, she could have phrased what she was trying to say a little more clearly. But that does not excuse the vitriol I saw. Stay at Home Moms, Work At Home Moms, even some WOHMs jumped all over her for what she posted. Outraged that their way of parenting/contributing was being diminished and insulted. Telling her to quit being a crybaby and if she doesn't like it, change it.

What I don't think any of them saw was the irony. Here we have moms insulting and demeaning other moms...for judging and demeaning other moms.

I saw several comments stating that for them, it was more important to be with their child, implying that by working, a mother who does so doesn't value time wtih her child. Many of us today don't work because we want to, although some of us do. I went back to work after Ava was born because I had to. I have this crazy habit of wanting to keep a roof over our heads. That requires both of us working to pay the mortgage. And before you jump on me and tell me I could sell my house and rent...I could do that. But in this market, I'd sell for less than we owe, and then be faced with renting for approximately the same amount as my mortgage payment. So what does that leave? Squatting under a bridge? Moving in with parents?

I keep coming back to this question. Why do mothers feel the need to judge other mothers? Why are we so quick to say "I am better than you". Why do we feel the need to tear each other down? And most importantly, why do we give complete strangers so much of our power? Why do we let words on a blog upset us so much? Are we all really that insecure in our mothering that we attack and go on the defensive every time we perceive an insult?

I can't speak for every mom out there. I can't speak to the situation of a stay at home mom. I was one for only four weeks. For three of those, my husband was home with me. I've never really worked from home. I have no idea what that's like. So I can't begin to judge what either of those sorts of mothers lives are like. As a working outside the home mom, I can speak. It's difficult. I watch other moms who get to stay home with their kids, working or not, and I am jealous. I wish I had that kind of time with my daughter. You may be juggling phone calls, and proposals and deadlines, but you can at least look over and SEE your child. I have pictures. I can't hold her, kiss her, touch her soft hair. I have days where it is almost too much to bear, and I want to walk away from my job. I leave her at her gramma's house and I walk away in tears. Days when she is sick, and I feel I need to be with her and I'm afraid to call my boss because I think "what if this time is one too many" and I lose my job.

I guess my point is if we all felt more secure about our choices and situations, we wouldn't be so quick to judge another mother's life. Maybe we'd be quicker to offer love and encouragement when we see someone asking for a life line.

**Note, I will not post links to blog post in question here. I don't want to drive more traffic that might upset her.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Once upon a time, we had two cats. Two cats that we adopted shortly after buying our house. We had lived in apartments for three years or so and were unable to have pets. So about two weeks after we moved in we trotted down to our local Humane Society and found Rufus. We fell in love with him. It was almost like he picked us, instead of the other way around. We took him into the little room they use to let prospective pet owners interact with the animals and found him to be a really loving cat.

Unfortunately, he had a hold placed on him. Which meant somebody else thought he was special too. If that person chose to adopt him, we would be out of luck. So we waited. For twenty-four hours, we fretted and worried and wondered, “Would he be ours?”

Luck was on our side; for whatever reason, the people who placed that hold decided to pass. Rufus was ours. I went down the very next evening after work to start the adoption process. When I got there, they had moved him to a very large cage in their lobby. Rufus was a big cat. Easily 15 pounds. So he was very visible. While I waited my turn at the adoption desk I went over and kneeled by his cage and spoke to him very softly. I asked him if he was ready to go to his new home. Now, in the time that we had spent with him prior, he had never once uttered a single “meow”. But on that day, at that moment he looked at me and howled “MAWR”. Which I took to mean, “Yes, get me the hell out of this cage!” So I did. I completed the paperwork, and went out and got my Rufus. He had to go through some last minute exams, temperature taking, and what not. Being a large cat, and being rather uncooperative at that time, it took 4 people just to get him into his carrier. But they did it and we were soon on our way to our home.

He settled in quickly, made the rounds of his new home, and eventually flopped on the bed with me to hang out and watch TV.

Because my husband and I both work during the day we felt a bit guilty about leaving him home alone. We thought having another cat there would make him feel less lonely. Enter LGK (Little Girl Kitty) or as she would sometimes be called, LBK (Little Bitch Kitty). Rufus was very accepting of her, in the mellow way that he had. I always said if he were a person, he’d be the surfer dude, who smoked weed and said “duuuude” a lot. He welcomed her to our home, his home. LGK/LBK unfortunately did not reciprocate his feelings. We did not anticipate how territorial she was or would become. She spent her first few months trying to mark her territory in the way that cats do. We tried lots of remedies, eventually finding a spray that did the trick. Problem solved, right? Well, sort of.

Things went along pretty well for the next six years. The two cats got along fairly well about 90% of the time. There would be a flare up and a fight once in a while, but over time it became fairly uneventful. Rufus was definitely MY cat. He loved to lay on me, near me, head bump me. If ever I was not feeling well, or had a bad day, he was right there to try to make it better. He always seemed to sense when I needed him most. I remember once when I injured my back, I was sent home from the ER after being given a shot of Demerol (woohoo). I passed out on the bed, to wake up hours later with him on my pillow, above my head, with both front paws framing my noggin. Watching me. Protecting me.

LGK/LBK on the other hand, was Daddy’s girl. She lived to lie on her Daddy’s lap. Anywhere he was, she wanted to be. And heaven help anyone, or any cat that got in her way.

So this was life for six years. Our cats were our babies, our “children”. We doted on them and we were one big happy family.

Then I got pregnant. Almost from the first, both cats seemed to sense something was different. As rooms got changed around, new furniture brought in, new, tiny little clothes purchased, they seemed to know there was a shift coming. And they did not know how to react to it. We tried to make them feel like they were still important to us, because they were. But they still seemed confused and agitated.

Then last June, we brought our beautiful baby Ava home. Their reaction at first was complete terror of her, followed by a marked indifference. We still tried to give them attention, but any parent of a newborn can tell you, after dealing with diapers, feeding and whatnot, there isn’t much time or energy left.

So once again, they acted out in the only way they knew how. They started marking. And marking. And marking. Our lovely home was being turned into a giant litter box. Eventually, urinating outside the box wasn’t enough. The litter box was shunned completely. We’d come out of our bedroom in the morning to find little poopy presents in the hallway.

We consulted with veterinarians. We called the Humane Society. We contacted shelters, literally scoured the internet. Tried every device and chemical known to mankind. But it. would.not.stop.

So we made the most difficult decision any pet owner can face. We had to surrender them. We tried No Kill shelters first. Unfortunately, it was kitten season, and every shelter within 100 miles of us was over capacity. Our only alternative, besides just tossing them outside was to take them back to the Humane Society we adopted them from. So that is what we did.

I have never cried so much or felt more guilt in my entire life. As I sit here now, recalling that God awful day I still feel an ache in my heart. I feel as though I failed. I spent six years telling them that this was their home, and it always would be. But I lied to them. I kissed them goodbye and handed them to strangers. I ripped them away from the home they loved. I spent weeks agonizing over it. I would break down and scream “what have I done” as I imagined them cold, lonely and terrified sitting once more in a cage. I would constantly visit the website, looking for their adoption listing, so that I could have some hope they weren’t immediately euthanized.

I know in my head, I did the right thing for my family, for my baby girl. A house full of urine and feces is not a safe place for a baby. Nor is it the way I would want to live. But my heart, oh my heart. There is and always will be a piece missing. The piece Rufus took with him.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Friday, June 5, 2009

To Ava, on Your First Birthday

Dear Ava,

Today we celebrated your first year here with us. And what a year it’s been.

Somehow, we got from here:

To here:

Really, really fast.

Before you were born, I was afraid of being a mommy. I wasn’t sure I had enough love or patience to be the kind of mother a baby deserved. I didn’t have a cuddly, nurturing mom. My mother didn’t kiss boo-boos, she wasn’t a hugger or any of that stuff. Didn’t mean she was a bad mother, it’s just who she was. I wasn’t sure I knew how to do that stuff.

And then you were born. Your Daddy placed you in my arms, and my heart exploded with love. From that very instant, I knew that I would love and protect you with every fiber of my being.

You’ve made it easy for me to be your Mommy. I look at you and I see such a wonderful, beautiful, happy little girl. You’ve always been that way.

In the last year, I’ve watched you grow from newborn, to crawling infant, and just today to walking toddler. Every step, every milestone has made me so proud. You have such a zest for life. Absolutely no fear. Every morning, you wake up with a smile, ready to face the day.

I love watching you develop and grow. I delight in watching you discover the world around you. I revel in watching you dance and sway to your favorite music. You have brought me joy that truly cannot be measured in words. Your laugh is the most beautiful sound I have ever heard. Seeing your face is the very best part of every single day.

Nothing in this world will ever make me prouder than you. We have just begun our journey, my love. For the rest of my life, I will be here with you. I will always be your mommy. And you will always be my baby girl.

Happy Birthday, Angel.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009