You work with people

or How I stopped the flame war and learned to play nicely

Projects are people

Let’s all scream “It’s people!!!” together now. If you don’t get the Soylent Green reference, you need to read a non-tech book and are not a true nerd, but for now I’ll forgive you. (Argue with me later on the Internet!) Really, though, all tech products are the result of an idea by a person, or a group of smart people, realized by the hard work of said person(s). If you can’t get along with people, take criticism, or work out conflicts with others, you’re going to have a bad time. Find another career, seriously.

There will never be a company that hires so well that people will agree on everything all the time. Give up on that thinking and learn how to be nice and behave like a grown-up when things don’t go your way. It’s not an easy task, I understand that. No one enjoys hearing that they are wrong, no one wants to compromise their technical or artistic principles. But everyone likes having a pay cheque and being employed, so we all need to be a little flexible from time to time.

How to handle conflict

Your first reaction is likely the wrong thing to do. Become one with that. Quell your inner 17-year-old and get ready to behave like a grown-up. This multi-step process should be able to help you through the need to rage at the world. I started out as a much more angry Erin, so I understand what you’re going through.

1. Eat something. In my experience, hunger anger, hanger, whatever you want to call it, is responsible for most office arguments. I will not hold a meeting before lunch that does not include snacks for this reason. When you are in the groove of coding, designing, QAing, or whatever it is that you do, you might have forgotten to eat something. So go get something to eat and see if you’re still super mad in 45 minutes.

2. Drink a glass of water. Not coffee, not tea, not a multi-chemical power drink. Water helps flush toxins from your system, including anxiety, which can be a problem when you’re going into fight-or-flight mode. Caffeine will only amp you up, and the same goes for sugar. Drink a bottle of water and take a walk around the block, or office. Then come back to deal with the situation.

3. Tell yourself a story. Write it all out: what are you mad about; what did they say or do; what are three constructive things you can do to solve the situation; do you have any compromises; and what workplace policies do you think would help prevent these arguments in the future (if relevant).

4. Vent quietly. Write out all the things you’re mad about and can never tell anyone without looking like a jerk, print it, shred it, burn it, or make a paper airplane and throw it from the roof top of your building (so long as you did not name names in your document).

Now that you’ve calmed down, you are ready to talk to the person about your issue. If you are in a meeting while this is all happening, you might want to say something along the lines of, “I need to think more on that topic and get back to you,” so you can find time to calm down. But calm the fuck down, already. Take your positive inputs from telling yourself a story, make a list of things you need to go over, and get ready to be constructive.

1. Don’t make it personal. Focus on the impact on your work quality, timeline, potential money expended, user experience or project. Saying “this is stupid” will not help you. You are trying to get your way, so sell your idea.

2. Practice, practice, practice. Role-play what you want to say to the person you’re annoyed with before you talk to them. If you feel prepared and have bounced the idea off a buddy in advance, you’re more likely to be calm when you talk to the person with whom you have the conflict.

3. Choose your words carefully. Avoid telling people what they should do; instead focus on what is good for the project. No one likes to be told what they should be doing within the realm of their specific talent. They are the expert, and you are someone annoying them. So take that out of the equation altogether.

4. Listen to what the other person is telling you. Hearing Charlie Brown’s teacher’s voice in your head will not solve the problem. Incorporate what the person is telling you into your plan to solve the problem. If you have never heard Charlie Brown’s teacher’s voice, you are so young. Go to YouTube, and find it.

5. Compromise. This is the thing where you are capable of changing your mind a little. Be willing to do it. This is not a feature of life that will go away.

I need an adult

You have tried your very best to deal with the conflict on your own, and the person with whom you’re having issues with is not playing well with others. This happens to the best of us. Now you have to escalate your problem up the chain of command. This can be tricky. I like to have a documented state of what I’ve done to try and solve the problem along with my potential solutions. I always have a point form list with me to talk about so that I cover all the things I want to say and not get flustered in the heat of the moment.

Picking the right person to whom to escalate is very, very important. Often the project manager, if available, is that person. They are there to deal with team conflicts and are supposed to be in charge of project harmony (at least that’s how I viewed it). If you are in a small company, or the project manager is the person with whom you have a problem, a tech manager is a good choice. The key is not to jump a million ranks just because you have a good relationship with the CEO, or to start with HR. Give someone a chance to help you solve your problem without turning up the knob on the sucky-situation volume to 10.

When talking to the person, be calm and clear about your issues. Being the calm reasonable person always helps you win in the end. But do make sure that you feel you are being heard too. If you don’t feel that you were understood, there is a larger chance that the issue will continue later on down the line.

Girls vs Boys

You work with people. Not guys and girls. You are in a workplace, or conference, or in a space station — I don’t care. Regardless of who has what junk, if you can’t look at someone without thinking about humping them, that’s your problem. Get a therapist, for real. You potentially were raised improperly, or maybe you came about this problem all on your own (how you got there is not important to anyone but your therapist). If you can’t stand to be managed by someone of a specific gender, there is something wrong with you that you need help to deal with. Ditto on dealing with sexual orientation. It’s not them, it’s you.

If you are being sexually harassed by someone on your team, begin with the chain of command. It’s very important that you get some perspective from others before going straight to HR. Lots of people have different levels of what they consider harassment. I am a terribly raunchy woman. My family has a lot of truck drivers and rednecks who scoff at being politically correct, so I give more leeway than most. But I know that everyone has the right to feel safe and secure in their work place. Your concerns are super valid and they need to be addressed. Give a manager the opportunity to talk to someone about their behaviour and give the person the opportunity to change their behaviour. Some people are just oblivious about how their words affect others. Obviously, if someone has physically assaulted you, you need to shut that down completely. But still, go to the manager first and tell them that you want to file a complaint with HR, so that they are aware of the issue and they should help you through the process. If they don’t, this is when it’s fine to jump the chain of command and protect yourself.

Someone is wrong on the Internet

“But Erin, while I can completely hold my tongue in person, it seems as though when I have the anonymity of the Internet on my side, I become a complete douche canoe!” I agree, fighting on the Internet starts out as fun. I have argued far too long on threads in my youth and have got caught up in the trap of knowing someone is terribly, terribly wrong. You just have to ask yourself a few things:

1. Are you actually trying to change their mind?
2. Will calling them a Nazi of some variety do that?
3. Are you arguing constructively?
4. Have threats been involved in the argument at all?
5. Has it escalated to name calling?
6. Does the topic of your argument actually matter at all in real life?

If you answered ‘no’ to any of 1-3 and 6, or ‘yes’ to 4 or 5, turn off your computer and read a book. Draw something. Cook some food. Go through all the tasks you’d do in having an in-person conflict listed above. If you really just need the adrenaline rush, “go ride bikes” or go for a run. Try doing something constructive. Arguing on the Internet, instead of having an adult debate is only ever destructive. You got into this industry to create things, right? So stop being a person who tears everything down. If you realize that you cannot help yourself, stop reading the comments. By not doing so, I feel that I have a happier and more fulfilled life. Change comes from within, and sometimes people will just be wrong. Let it go. I know it sucks.

Don’t be a dongle

One of the steps in avoiding conflict is to be respectful of others and to have empathy. If your empathy is broken (I know these people), fake it. Everyone is trying to do a good job, and they all have valid reasons for why they do and do not want to do something. Find out what that reason is. Approach your co-workers as team members and not barriers to completing your task.

Seems like a lot of work, hey? It is. Being an adult and working productively isn’t easy. That’s why being a project manager is like being a referee for knife-wielding toddlers. But it’s better to do the work than end up in a knife fight covered in poop.

Next Story — How to invite your dead Grandma to Christmas
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How to invite your dead Grandma to Christmas

Reminders of people whom you cared deeply for, but now are dead, are never easy to experience. That game you used to play together, their favourite holiday, a gift they gave you… little flutters in the back of your mind initially make you happy, then a little wistful, ending in ‘there’s-something-in-my-eye’ sad.

My Grandma, who died just about a year and a half ago, did everything when we were little. She made my whole highland dance troop kilts (yes I highland danced - fuck you), sewed Halloween costumes, baked, hiked, camped, made all the grandkids their own stockings, dyed a wedding dress black for me in the start of my goth phase (again, yes and fuck you), taught me to sew and basically crafted like a crazed, bedazzling motherfucker. So, there are very few times that I go through daily life without being reminded of her.

This christmas, I wanted a happy reminder that she was totally kick-ass when she was alive, without the sad aftertaste.

Partridge in a pear tree

My family grew up fairly low income (for many generations) and have learned to be very creative. My Grandma had continued the tradition of making “jumble jar art” out of covering various items with modge podge and sticking interesting found ‘art’ to it. Grandma was so into this that she had an almost hoarder level of craft supplies when she passed and not much else. So, much to my delight, my inheritance was a couple of bags of miscellaneous beads, buttons and broken pieces of interesting looking crap. (Note: This was real delight, not bitchy “why have you forsaken me, Grandma” sarcasm.)

Crap craft pile in hand, a two year old who I wanted to impress, and some nap times I’d rather not fill with laundry left me with the question: How do you invite your dead Grandma over for Christmas?

Christmas tree tear drop from a hideous necklace and random beads.

I decided to make a Grandma advent calendar. I’d fill it with little toys and snacks that I thought Grandma would approve of, and I’d tell my son the story of how awesome my Grandma, his Great Grandma, was. I’d tell him how she lived, how she died and that now her ghost gives him treats in containers stuck to the fridge, every day for the month before Christmas. Boosh.

Disclaimer: I’m an Atheist, and I don’t believe in a god or ghosts at all. I kind of believe in Santa… but I firmly believe that childhood should be filled with magic, so lying to kids about things like fairies and dead Grandma ghosts is totally acceptable.

Frosty the jazz-hands snowman

I gave myself constraints, which I love for art projects. You always end up being intensely creative when you’re working with limited supplies. I only used the inherited craft junk and the traditional jumble jar methods, aside from some scrap book paper and puff paints, as Grandma only had ribbons and lace. I’m sentimental and all, but I have standards too. For the containers, I shelled out $53 for magnetic spice containers from the Container Store. Not the cheapest option, but good for space challenges and food safe for snack storage.

Santa Claus made from two earrings no one should ever have worn.

Making the calendar was time consuming and required proper use of modge podge. For those who actually want to make one, the trick is to paint it on thick and let it dry for a while or else you will be holding it while it dries, screaming the whole time about why-the-fuck your relatives loved using modge podge and not hot glue guns.

Then it’s all about what could you possibly make given a pile of random shiny things and channeling a dead Grandma, so that you can make your kids’ Christmas as magical as she made yours. When your child is thanking his “Great-Magga” for almonds on the 2nd day of December, the memories of her stay happy.

Happy holidays, from me and my dead Grandma.
Next Story — The stay-at-home mominatrix
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The stay-at-home mominatrix

So, you waited until after you had your career fully established before adding to global overpopulation — both to avoid poverty and because you enjoy working. Kids cost a lot of money and it’s expensive to live in your urban metropolis, rife with multi-thousand dollar rents for a tiny box in the sky. Medical care doesn’t grow on trees (unless you count money being made of paper, linen, cotton or whatever — but semantics won’t pay for that pediatrician who doesn’t take insurance, so shut the hell up) and the birth alone could set you back five thousand dollars. Plus, you had the crazy idea that you wanted to raise your child yourself, from home, so you needed to save up. Whatever you were before, you’re a mominatrix now, and there are a million ways to feel about that.

Mominatrix attack 
by me.

First, I’m well aware that there are some dads who stay home with the kids. Vag-high-five to those guys. But I’m a woman, and this is about me, so I may ‘gender bias this bitch up’. Don’t get your penis in a knot, and just sub in your preferred pronoun while you read, as I’m sure you might have some of these feelings too. Regardless of your genitals and how hard your job was in the ‘before-time’, there are a few critical variables that will dictate just how much punishment you will endure as a mominatrix, and whether or not you will find it relaxing compared to your prior career.

Have you slept in the last week?

If your brand new alien-hamster does not sleep, has allergies, has colic or anything medical going on, you are likely in love with a bundle of hellish wonderment. I didn’t sleep a full night for an entire year, so I feel your pain. In this situation, going back to work might seem fun just so you can nap during your lunch hour. But in reality, I have no idea how someone could be up all night and then actually think during the day too. I have pretty good chaos-tolerance and even I was fairly close to random stranger stabbing in the street as I strolled my kid for six to eight hours a day, trying to get him to nap. Meanwhile, attending weekly medical appointments to diagnose his particular brand of madness.

Is anyone really helping you?

Support will be critical in the success of your mominatrix career. If your partner does nothing domestic, or only the bare minimum (like my ex-husband) then you might go insane. At work, you at least had a team of people who were working together towards a common goal. In the Mom-sphere, it is baby/toddler/child versus you a lot of the time, and no matter how cute and cuddly they are, you are on your own in terms of task management. I remember in my son’s first year, pleading with my then-husband to tell me that I was doing a good job (or acknowledge my effort at all). If you’ve managed to get a horror child to nap, cleaned the house, did any errands, showered, made a meal and still have energy for sex, then you should be put on a pedestal and fed grapes by hand by nubile infertile young men at the end of the day. Partner: be helpful, it’s hard work. And at the very least, if you can’t bring yourself to be helpful, be grateful and appreciative. 

I have since initiated a divorce and miraculously procured a nice and helpful boyfriend. Having a partner who actually helps with child rearing and housework is the difference between zen parenting and sniping people from a rooftop. If you have no partner, I empathize — been there, done that, don’t want to do it again. I wish you the tastiest and strongest of scotches at the end of your day.

Is your child a tiny energy-filled monster?

The energy level of your child matters. I hear from mom friends who have mellow, introverted kids, who are content playing by themselves and want little interaction. This is not my child. He is a giant pile of screamy fun who pulls you off the couch to go be dinosaurs, or robots, or trucks with him. A seemingly endless source of energy and imagination, I would trade him for no other child, but I have considered selling him to gypsies for the ability to sit down for a fucking hour during the day. 

I have recently begun feeling that going back to work would be relaxing after two years as a professional mother. I was a project/product manager when I was working full-time so there are a lot of parallels. Life with my toddler is the equivalent of being in argumentative product meetings for ten hours a day, seven days a week, with a two hour break where you get to write documentation in the middle of the day. Then at the end of each day you get to reorganize your product plan because everything has changed on you. So, you have about three hours a day (should you only sleep for six) while trapped in the house, to do anything for yourself. 

My boyfriend, who works a minimum of six days a week (with at least twelve hour days), and co-runs a successful technology start-up, feels that my job takes a lot of effort. 

Do you have a fuck-ton of disposable income?

I stockpiled a year’s worth of baby clothes over two years, bought all the furniture for the nursery, and purchased all the initial baby gear by myself. I also saved up forty-thousand dollars for my maternity leave fund. All this said and done, the money only lasted me until my child was one and then I had to start relying on my then-husband for financial support. It might be cheap to raise a kid in other locales, but San Francisco is stupid expensive, and my kid was medically challenged. If you have a massive cash pile, you can get house cleaners, day nannies, night nannies, personal chefs and all sorts of things to make your life that much nicer. I want to go back in time and punch childless-Erin in the face for being snarky about stay-at-home parents getting house cleaners. Anything you can afford to do, do that. I endorse it and am jealous. Go team you!

Do you feel guilty for everything you do?

I feel incredibly bad for parents who want to stay home during the initial years but can’t afford it. I’m running into that issue right now because the outcome of my divorce is that combined child support and alimony in my situation is not enough to cover my expenses, yet I have full physical custody. The idea that my kid will be out of my parenting hold for fifty hours a week makes me want to throw up. Working sounds amazing, really, but the trade-off for me feels like a mini-death (and not in the French-euphemism-for-orgasm sense). I recently had cancer, so maybe I’m a little over-sensitive about spending time with him, but I know he is as awesome as he is because I really go to town on being a mominatrix. 

On the flip side, if stay-at-home parenting is not your thing, I’m sure there is a lot of guilt in that direction too. Welcome to there not being a good answer or a definitive approach that will result in a perfect child. Anyone who tells you they have the best way to do anything parenting related is a liar or an idiot. Fuck those guys. 

Then cut yourself some slack

If all countries allowed for government funded maternity leave until kids were in school, or corporations accepted that people have kids (so that society will continue) and had in-office daycare, then we’d all have a lot less angst about all these things. I know these exist in small numbers — little utopias sprinkled throughout the Earth, where people have fulfilling careers and still see their kids during the day. But they’re not prevalent enough to be an option for everyone. The goal is to not beat yourself up for what you have to do, choose to do, or feel you must do in order to stay sane. Stay at home, go back to work, put your kid in daycare, put them in early preschool, get a nanny, or ship them to your parents during the day. Whichever route gets you to feeling like a happy person and puts food in your kid’s belly is the correct path for you. Just don’t put on your judgy-pants when you look at another parent’s situation, because you don’t know the whole story, and you don’t live in their skin. Most people are simply trying to make it to the next day without their lives turning into Lord of the Flies. Let’s bond together, have a little empathy for each other, and please remember to bring martini fixings to all the play-dates. 

Next Story — Things my mom taught me
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My Mom crocodile wrestling my son

Things my mom taught me

Mother’s Day is a paltry slip of a day, heavily laden with overcrowded brunches and poorly molded hand print ceramics — but that’s why they made mimosas an acceptable breakfast drink. Really though, society? A single day for having manufactured a human? Or for raising and civilizing a tiny monster you otherwise procured? Seems like weak-sauce (this is a bad thing) to me. One should celebrate their amazing Mom on a daily basis. Showering her with praise and candy, so long as it doesn’t result in a concussion.

On this Mother’s Day, I would like to impart some amazing things that my Mom taught me. Things that inspired me to become the person who I am, and have heavily influenced the type of mom that I’m trying to be.

A grocery store is a good place for a water fight

Twelve-year-old-Erin and Mom were actively groping vegetables, as one does before you commit to taking something home. In the produce section of the grocery store, they occassionally “shower” all the vegetables that can benefit from a postmortem wet t-shirt contest . My Mom gave me a sneaky look, picked up a bunch of parsley and with the skill of a frat boy in a locker room armed with a wet towel, whipped a fairly sizable torrent of water at me — right in my face. After screaming and finding proper produce with which to retaliate (leafy ones are better — they hold the most water), the tradition of grocery store water fights was born. We weren’t kicked out of as many grocery stores as we should have been. However, I look forward to being banned from many stores when continuing this tradition with my son.

You can never have enough free condoms

I waited until I was eighteen years old to have sex for the first time, and by today’s standards that makes me an honourary nun. As my Mom and I had always talked openly about everything, especially sex, I told her that I was planning on bumping uglies with my boyfriend. She responded, “It’s about time, I would have done him a long time ago!”, attempting to horrify me. To which I replied, “I’ll take photos so you can give me tips afterwards.” It’s okay if you are all now jealous that you do not have sarcastic sex talks with your moms. I was already on the pill for two years because Mom put me on them when my little sisters started having sex (“Better safe than pregnant!”), but I did not yet have condoms. We didn’t have condom money (we saved that for things like food and rent), so Mom marched me over to the free clinic to pick some up. At the free clinic, they had a fish bowl full of condoms up for grabs. The assumption was that you would take two or three and be on your merry way. My Mom charged up to the front desk, the waiting room full, eyes burning holes into the back of my head, as she gleefully started putting handfuls of condoms into her purse. Like, more than twenty condoms. “Mooooooooommmm…” I protested in my best embarrassed teenager voice, trying to get her to stop. She looked up, elbowed me in the rib and drawled, “Well, we don’t want to have to come back tomorrow!” Then my head exploded and I died. I’m totally doing this to my kid.

Feel bad for bullies…their parents are stupid

I have always had opinions and have never been shy about expressing them. In elementary school, my opinions included: being an atheist at ten years old in a town full of Catholics; carrying a briefcase of books around school was an amazing thing to do; foraging for clover on the school ground to add to my lunch sandwich was wise; and it would have been better to have been born a druid so that you could train trees to eat your enemies. Also, I had unique fashion sense, got straight A’s, had thick glasses, a bad perm, braces and head gear. So, yeah — I was bully bait. I used to come home from school crying all the time because I was teased so badly. Sensitive Erin was sensitive. People couldn’t call me stupid, so they went with the traditional “ugly”, “weird” and variations thereof. Not a very creative bunch. Still, words hurt, and my Mom did not like to see me upset every day. So she sat me down and very earnestly told me, “Erin, people are going to be mean to you. It’s not because what they’re saying is true, it’s because they’re jerks and they were raised improperly. You need to feel bad for the bullies because their parents are stupid. Think of how awful it must be to have stupid parents.” While I understand this is not 100% true in all cases, I super loved this as a response. I did feel bad for those kids and their exceptionally stupid parents. I even told a few kids how I felt bad for them in the midst of some bullying sessions, which was met with entertaining reactions. The bullying did not stop, but I stopped caring what they said, and for that, my Mom will always be my hero. I hope I never have to use this line with my son, but it’s logged in my brain just in case.

So, I submit that we ramp this up and expand Mother’s Day to a full week! Seven days to celebrate the lady who raised you is hardly a chore, children of the world. And if you happen to have a terrible mom, you can use this time to reflect on what she did that you absolutely will not do to your kids, should you choose to have some. Those brunch mimosas, they work everyday of the year after all. To my Mom, who could most certainly beat up your mom, I want to say, “Happy Mom Day!” and give her virtual hugs all the way up in Canada. I’m here all Mother’s week… ba-dum-tish!

Next Story — Escape from the uterus
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Agent and Me after birth/All photos taken by Dustin Diaz

Escape from the uterus

My son Agent (yep, I named him that) is turning two in two weeks, and at this stage, lot of moms tend to start thinking about adding another human to their collection. The memory of labour has faded, your child is able to run about on their own, and your body has felt normal for awhile. I am currently husband- and uterus-free (I had cervical cancer). but instead of feeling sad that I cannot reproduce, I decided to vividly re-live my epic labour to remind myself that one is a fine number of children to own.

Pre-labour is the best part

I started labour at midnight on May 5th, 2011 with the baby face-up (yay for back labour!) and had contractions every thirty minutes, moving up to twenty minutes until 8am. I woke up my then-husband and told him that we were likely having a baby that day. I decided to live-tweet my labour, which I highly recommend, because now that Twitter allows you to download your archive, you can re-hash your specific insanity.

Then I called my sister-in-law/doula Lex, who was supposed to come to San Francisco from Calgary, Alberta, Canada two days later. She suggested I have a glass of wine to see if the contractions would stop because I was hoping she'd be here. I opened a bottle of South African wine we had been saving for the day of, because that's where Agent was conceived. Sadly, the wine did nothing but taste awesome at 8:30am and make me slightly tipsy while ginormously pregnant. I watched cartoons with my then-husband during the morning to try and distract myself from the pains, while we did the countdown until we were supposed to leave for the hospital.

Get your ass to the hospital

My contractions were five minutes apart at 11:15am, then moved to two minutes apart at 11:42am, so we called an Uber Taxi (the driver of which was a little terrified) to take us to the birth center at the hospital. The midwife and nurse didn't think I was reacting enough to the contractions and almost sent me home, until they noticed a drop in the baby's heart rate when I was on my back. Later they praised me for my calmness during the contractions and realized that I just dealt with it all in agony-induced-silence.

They decided to put me on monitoring and checked me in. At 3:10pm, I was 4cm dilated. At 7:08pm I was 6cm dilated. The baby's heart rate continued to dip every time I had a contraction, and twice an hour they would rush into the room and have me change positions from the birthing ball to the bed and back, flipping my belly to different sides and so on until his heart rate came back up. A few times I was on oxygen to help him get through the contraction faster. They thought at the time that he was pushing on the cord in an awkward position, causing his heart rate to drop. It was all very frantic and scary.

I had made a snazzily designed birth plan which was heavily geared towards a natural birth, and I was trying to tough it out without medication.

Take all the drugs

At 9pm, I had not eaten, hadn't slept, and just needed to rest so I requested a dose of Fentanyl, which just dulls the peaks (but not the sensations) of the contractions and allows you to rest. I had one shot at 9pm, then another at 10:15pm. At 11:15pm, I was 7cm dilated and had been able to have some rest between contractions, which had stayed at about two minutes apart.

All the while, my then-husband and wicked friend Ashley (who was standing in for my doula/sister-in-law Lex) were doing back compresses and kept a heating pad on me while I contracted. My friends John and Robert were also there entertaining me for a good portion of the hospital labour. Robert brought burritos, which I immediately decided needed to leave the room due to smell and John was aiding my iPad cartoon-watching. Then I had a final shot of Fentanyl at midnight, which didn't do anything for me but give me a headache — not ideal. My then-husband was sleeping and Ashley and John were at home resting. I was by myself in the room awake on a birthing ball with contractions, now every minute, wondering if it would ever end. I was checked again and I hadn't progressed in dilation at all, so I decided to ask for an epidural at 1:30am. Spinal needles for the win, yo.

Just take this baby out of me now

By 2:30am I was 8.5cm dilated, but the baby was still having distress. By 6:13am, I still hadn't progressed at all and the baby was still in distress, so we decided to break my water manually and try to induce with Pitocin. The baby seemed unimpressed, and it didn't make me dilate any further. They injected me with something to stop the contractions, which made me shake like I was having a seizure, but it didn't really stop the contractions. They then wheeled me to the emergency surgery area, and the OB came in to talk to me about the options. We decided to continue with a low level of Pitocin to see if it would do anything before opting for a c-section. It just dropped the baby's heart rate more, so they prepped me for surgery.

C-sections are spooky-cool

As I headed into the surgery, my then-husband nearly passed out. But he managed to recover and get some sweet-ass photos of our baby being torn out of my body. They lowered “the veil” so we could see him being taken out of me, clawing his goo-covered self into the world, and my then-husband went with the nurses as they checked him out.

At 8:32am I delivered a lovely 6lbs baby boy, who had the cord wrapped around his neck twice. He was 19.75 inches long, and had pooped my uterus as a result of his distress, so it's good that we just got him out of there. He pooped all over everyone, apparently (over-achiever like his mom), and then they brought him to me and put him by my head for a while so I could nuzzle him before they took him to pediatrics to see if he had suffered any trauma from the blood flow issues he had been having.

By 9:30am I was done with surgery, and at 11:30am I got to leave recovery and was able to meet Agent properly. I wound up with a fantastic baby, a nice scar that looks not-unlike a smile right above my vagina, and a spectacular war story to tell at my kid’s wedding.

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