It's Like "The Real Housewives of Orange County" Meets "My Life On the D List"

Sweet hotcakes, it's summer.

I wish I could sound like a sane person and claim that the reason I'm excited for summer is because I look forward to Savannah whining at me all day about what we're going to do FOR KIDS. (By the way, this tragically does not include Target, Trader Joe's, the mall, Starbucks, or the gym. It does however include the pool, the park, and looking at puppies that I'm going to be harassed to buy.)

But, that would be lying. The real reason I'm looking forward to summer is because I have a crippling case of social momxiety. I don't know what it is - I have no problems making friends elsewhere. Maybe it's that I'm traumatized from the hell on earth that was kindergarten. Or maybe there's just something about moms at school that makes me a complete moron.

Like last week when I finally got up the nerve to invite another mom for coffee under the guise of planning the class party, but then she misunderstood my email and thought I was referring to the meeting where ALL the 1st grade class moms were getting together to meet about the party. So, I showed up at 7:00 a.m. at school with flat ironed hair and mascara and a pedicure wearing a PEASANT TOP for godssake and she wasn't even there, her husband was.

And then I tried to casually ask him if his wife was coming to school this morning? Because we were supposed to have coffee? Maybe I misunderstood? And then he was like "I have no idea" and he looked at my patent leather sandals a little sympathetically I think? And then he suggested I call her and then I'm like DO YOU HAVE HER NUMBER?

It was just...bad.

That probably would not have stung so much had I not just had to convince someone that I wasn't pregnant.

God, it hurts to even write about it. I'm typing with my eyes closed.

So. It was my daughter's party. Yes, P-A-R-T-Y. Of which I was the host. I was standing at the front door (of the ridiculously overpriced loud petri dish of a bouncy entertainment center which they should just rename You Need a Bath and I Need a Drink) and I had the joy of welcoming everyone's children.

There were a few mothers milling about at the entrance signing in their kids when one of the moms leaned into me conspiratorially and whispered "Lena? You're pregnant?".

At first I felt nothing. Kind of like those stories you hear where someone gets their leg bitten off by a shark and they fight the shark off and feel nothing and keep swimming to land and have no idea they lost their leg until they try to stand up? It was kind of like that.

I laughed at first. "Oh, no! It's just the shirt". I patted my stomach for effect. Not very convincingly because THEN SHE NUDGED ME WITH HER ELBOW like "C'mon you can tell me."

She insisted "Yes, you are. It's IN YOUR FACE."

And then? I swear to god, she puffed out her cheeks and POKED THEM. I'm assuming this was in an effort to break me down, me and my tall tales of gaining 20 pounds from wine and Bristol Farms cheese samples instead of, you know, a growing human.

I shook my head again, without a smile this time. "I wish" I said.

In all honesty, she looked a little horrified. I almost felt bad for her. Almost.

I spent the next few days trying to pretend this conversation never happened and to secretly but frequently make fun of her hair.

But, then I saw the pictures from the party. And I saw this:

And, um. Yeah. My bad. So. Thanks H&M for making me look pregnant and then reminding me I'm barren! You rock.

That picture scared me straight and I've been back on the program ever since - eating right, exercising and all that jazz. And you know what? I kind of hate it. But, I've lost 4 pounds and I keep slinking around the house asking Chris if he still recognizes me, so I think it's paying off.

Friday was finally the last day of school putting an end to my social misery. Not only did Savannah get an excellent report card (all O's! Which I think are better that A's. Not sure.), but I caught Are-You-Pregnant mom checking out my new workout pants and then went to lunch with Stood-Me-Up-For-Coffee mom.

I think this means 1st grade was a huge success for me. Savannah is so proud. But, I'm in no hurry for September.


Savannah's Birth Story ...Because She's 100 Now and It's About Time

So. I've been working on Savannah's birth story since, well, eight years ago this October 14 I guess (along with her birth scrapbook album, which managed to cost me $1500 in stickers, but never actually materialized into photos or a birth story and then I ended up selling everything on Ebay last month for $75 so ANYWAY). It finally took Discovery Health's Baby Week to nudge me along into finishing it*. So, voila! Enjoy. Be forewarned, most of this story takes place with my pants off.


I think a small part of me knew when I found out I was pregnant that I would barely make it out alive. After all, I am the girl who was caught in a riptide in the Bahamas and almost drowned while taking a "Getting Comfortable With Snorkeling!" class. The girl who got tangled up in the dog's leash and skidded on my face down the sidewalk. The girl who, unlike the previous 35 people in front of me who walked across the grass and into the gym, managed to step directly into the pile of dog poo and then carried it unknowingly into the spin class on my shoe.

Yeah, I guess you can say I'm just a lucky girl.

But, when I saw those 2 lines, I felt like my luck had finally changed. A baby. A wee one! With my chubby cheeks and Chris' perky nose! (Please God, let her get Chris' perky nose and not my Italian beak I prayed. Also, let her be a physicist. Amen.)

And when we had our first ultrasound, it was official. She did have Chris' nose. She was also completely and miraculously perfect. With all her heart chambers and no loose screws or anything. We were off to a good start.

But, by my 32nd week we knew something was wrong. Very wrong.

It started with The Tired. A fatigue that was so all consuming that even my organs felt tired. All that pumping and inhaling and exhaling and filtering and digesting was about all I could handle. Just laying there felt like a huge energy drain. Now, admittedly I'm not the most energetic person to begin with. Eating potato chips while watching Tivo'd reality shows tends to be my default position. (Although I totally tricked Chris when we were dating by climbing Half Dome. Sucker!) But, this Tired was to the bone.

Anyway, The Tired was quickly followed by The Weepy. And not that usual run of the mill "commercials make me cry" weepy, but more of a "I think the cat insulted me" weepy. I spent the majority of my day bawling.

I even went to visit the doctor at this point because Chris was concerned that I might run out of tears and start crying amniotic fluid. He's so selfish that way.

The doctor - let's name him Dr. Inahurry - and his nurse - let's call her Nurse Annoyedbyyou - dismissed these as "normal pregnancy symptoms" that didn't require further investigation.

Their reaction wasn't entirely unreasonable, except the same thing happened when I called them the following week because a new symptom had joined the party: The Ache.

Oh, The Ache. Now, unless you yourself have had organ failure, you won't even begin to understand what I mean when I describe this ache as being an ache in my soul. The Ache was mostly located above my ribs, which at this point in the pregnancy, was just below my hairline. But, it radiated out from there and around my back. It throbbed day and night. It made me want to come out of my skin with anxiety - there was no relief to be had. I tried taking a bath, stretching backwards over an exercise ball, inducing vomiting.

Everyone had their ideas about what was wrong. "It's the baby's foot stuck in your ribs!" "Your pants are too tight!" "Try yoga!" "Did you eat that entire box of Hot Tamales?"

But, I knew. Something wasn't right. There was an internal panic going on inside my body and it was sending S.O.S. signals to my brain.

I was now 34 weeks. It was early Friday morning when I called Dr. Inahurry. Nurse Annoyedbyyou answered the phone.

"I need to see the doctor today. Something is wrong with me."

"What's wrong Mrs. Lotsey?" she sighed.

"I'm just so tired". Of course I started weeping. "And I have a throbbing pain in my upper abdomen."

"Well, the doctor isn't seeing patients today. I'll page him and see what he says."

Dismissed, I waited for his call. ALL DAY.

That evening I called the office again.

"I thought you said you were going to page Dr. Inahurry."

Characteristically annoyed, she responded "I did. He didn't call back. Dr. Inahurry is playing golf today."

"He's playing golf?! That's why he didn't call back? What if I'm dying?"

"You're not dying. I'm sure it can wait until Monday."

It couldn't. Forty-eight hours later I was at death's door.


The next day was mostly a blur. I do recall my mom deciding inexplicably that what I needed was a Barcalounger. She and Chris hauled one into the front room for me to stretch out on, but that did nothing for the throbbing ache. We tried hot compresses, cold compresses, stretches. My overarching memory of that day is pure misery.

Then the nighttime set in. I couldn't sleep. I was in and out of the bath. I was vomiting. I was crying. I was a hot mess.

By the next morning I was stretched out on the couch moaning.

Chris stood there looking at me. "I'm calling your doctor. This can't be normal."

I could hear him on the phone.

"So, Dr. Inahurry is golfing all weekend? Well, who's the on-call doctor? Ok, have her call me back right away."

A few minutes later the on-call doctor called. We'll call her Dr. Angel. Dr. Angel listened to my symptoms and told Chris to get me "straight to the emergency room" adding "don't stop to even pack your bags".

Dr. Angel hadn't yet arrived at the hospital when we checked in. But, she had called ahead and prepared the nurses for the tests she wanted run. A sweet nurse set me up in a room and tittered on about the names we'd chosen, my due date, how great I looked. I was actually feeling a little better - the ache had subsided somewhat - and was starting to wonder if I had overreacted. Maybe her foot had been stuck in my ribs? I did actually eat that whole box of Hot Tamales.

The nurse fluffed the pillows behind my head while the technician prepared me for the ultrasound. We were all chatting and laughing when suddenly our baby's little face filled the screen. Chris and I exclaimed over "our luck" that we got a freebie ultrasound out of this.

But, as we continued to talk and laugh with the nurse, the technician grew somber. She kept rolling the ultrasound wand over my upper abdomen and looking at the screen intently.

"Is everything ok?" I asked, worried.

She turned to me before rushing out of the room. "The baby looks great."

Looking back, I give her points for her clever answer.

The nurse left and when she returned, she was accompanied by two other nurses. One wanted to put a hospital wristband on me. The other needed to take my blood. "It looks like you're going to be staying a bit longer" the nurse said cheerfully without looking at me. I saw in her face that something had shifted.

"Is everything ok?" I asked again.

"The doctor is on her way in and she's going to talk to you."

I turned to Chris and my mom, who had just arrived. "Do you think something is wrong?". They were flipping through the newly printed ultrasound photos and assured me everything was fine.

A short while later Dr. Angel breezed in.

She was about 12 years old. And wore jeans.

"Sorry, I'm late. I was at the mall."

(I can't make this stuff up.)

I started to say something, but she quickly pulled up a chair and took my hand. The look in her eyes stopped me mid-sentence. She meant business.

"You are very sick."

My head started spinning.

She told me I had a severe case of HELLP Syndrome. My liver was dangerously enlarged and bleeding. That was the ache I felt. It could rupture in a matter of hours. My liver was failing. My kidneys were following. My platelet count was extremely low, less than 50,000 and dropping (normal is 150,000 - 300,000 for those of you slept during whatever class it was that I should've learned this in).

Dr. Angel told me they were going to start giving me phenobarbital, an anti-seizure drug. She said they would have to take the baby. Now. They needed to do a c-section within the next hour or my platelet count wouldn't be high enough to survive surgery.

The word "survive" shot through my body like a bolt of electricity.

The realization hit me.

I asked my first question since she had started talking.

"Am I going to die?"

There was a beat. A flicker of indecision across her face before she said "I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure you don't".

My mom hovered behind the doctor, her mouth gaping open, her eyes goggling at this statement. I couldn't look at her. I looked straight ahead. Chris and my mom blurred out of focus.

I felt fear like an enormous wave surge into my heart and rush through my ears, deafening me. All I wanted was to have a baby, I thought in shock. Women do it every day. All I wanted was a baby and now I'm going to die.

I started to pray out loud.

"Please help me. Please keep me calm. Please save me. Please keep my baby safe. Please please please please please. Help me."

I didn't care who heard. I prayed out loud and stared straight ahead. I felt more alone than I had before or since. For all the love they had for me, neither my mom or Chris could save me. My life and my baby's were in this doctor's hands. And I had to have faith.

I felt a feeling of resolve wash over me. I needed to stay calm for the baby. I needed to keep my weak heart from racing through my battered organs.

It must be ok. I can't leave my baby. It must be ok.

Nurses rushed in and prepped me for surgery. My mom and Chris hugged me and each other and cried. We all spoke encouraging words with terrified eyes. Family was summoned quietly.

Chris asked if he could bring a camera; we had planned on recording the birth. No, he was ordered, because we don't know what to expect in there. They didn't want him to record my death.

A whirlwind of surgery prep and then I was laying on the operating table under the bright lights. Two doctors and three nurses attended the birth. Chris sat at my head. The sheet went up.

All was quiet except for the beep of my heart rate.

There was pressure. Tremendous pressure. And then, of course, THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SOUND IN THE WORLD: my daughter's strong cry. My Savannah.

Everyone in the room cheered.

Chris was elated, running back and forth between Savannah and my head, reporting on her fingers and hair and eyes and ears and who knew babies could come this perfect and she scored 9 on her Apgar she's obviously a physicist! Never had there been a prouder daddy.

Meanwhile, I was having chest pains. Strong pains that shot through my chest and down my arm and which, frankly, my anesthesiologist seemed mildly concerned over. Especially with my teaspoon of a bloodcount and whatnot.

An adjustment to the drug seemed to calm that issue down. The doctors sewed me up, someone may have made a comment about me looking as if I were never pregnant (that's really why I call her Dr. Angel), and then a bundled little peanut was laid beside me.

My baby.

My baby was perfect. Five pounds and nine ounces. Not bad for arriving 5 weeks early in a broken down mom.

Once I was back in my room recovering and attempting to nurse (why did it take 2 days for someone to finally show me the football hold?) the nurses started taking my blood every hour.

My blood count continued to drop.

The day after I delivered Savannah, my blood count was 12,000.

After that, the nurses stopped telling us. We tried to focus on this new baby girl and had vistors coming in and out, but every time a nurse would enter the room, my mom and I would look at them with baited breath.

"Still low" they started saying.

On the morning of the 3rd day, the doctor came in and told us we would need to take drastic measures if my platelets didn't start turning around on their own.

It was later that afternoon, that the nurse came in and announced with relief "The numbers are coming back up!".

Chris hung his head and started to cry. It was going to be ok. We were going to get our happy ending.

And we did.

I told you I was a lucky girl.

*By the way, I was not paid by Discovery to write this story. I just think you should know that because...I don't know. I just do.


I'm Like the McRib. Back For a Limited Time. Except Not At All Like That.

So, this one time? Like two years ago? I had to start working because we were about to lose our house. Or was it our job? Our minds? I can't remember - it all runs together after so many months of ENDLESS JOYS. Anyway, if you remember, I started my own business which was fun for about as long as it took to run out of color coordinated post-its. Which is to say, briefly.

I then quickly reverted back to my old ways of womanly manipulation which involved evenings spent rolling around on the floor drunk - and not in a good way - moaning to Chris about how haaaard it was to work and also raise oooone chiiiild and why can't you just go play the Lotto or maybe you belong to an Indian tribe have you checked lately because they get checks for just BEING ALIVE?

Tragically, the whining episodes didn't have the same effect on Chris they had in the past. I was mostly left there, tufts of carpet in my hair, staring at the ceiling contemplating how I could quit working while maintaining the fantastical standard of living we had grown accustomed to complete with indoor plumbing and 99 cent Taco Night.

How exactly does one get into organ harvesting, I wondered.

But, alas, it was my plight.

Then when my business started getting busy, one of my clients - okay, my ONLY client - asked me to come work in-house for them. It was more money and seemed like a great excuse to buy some Gap straight leg trousers, so I accepted. And that's when I started spending my days hoping to catch a staple in the eye so I could go home.

Life Lesson Learned: I do not like working. No matter what pants I'm wearing.

It's hard to believe that it's been two years since I started working and yet if you look at my floors, my weight, or my cuticles, it's not hard to believe at all. I'm no multi-tasker that's for sure. But, I have performed well if I do say so myself considering that I reentered the workforce with no real marketable skills other than Wii tennis and picking up things with my toes (like hammers). Also, an uncanny ability to choose the winner of the Bachelor on the first episode. (Leaving that off my resume was painful, because come on. The first episode?)

We may not have a fully funded 401K yet, but I can hardly remember the last time we paid for milk with nickels, so I THINK THAT MEANS I WIN.

So, I'm done now. I think we can afford for me to quit working. Which is good because I quit my job yesterday. And it feels pretty damn sweet.

Now, can we get back to discussing more important stuff around here like why a mom at school asked if I was pregnant and then when I said I wasn't, ARGUED. WITH. ME? Not. Even. Kidding. I'll give you the details later. Right now, I'm going to go celebrate no longer being a contributing member of society. Way overrated.

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