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#1 of 8 Old 04-24-2005, 03:16 PM - Thread Starter
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Hello and welcome to the Mothering Writing Group Portfolios. Please readWeek 4 before creating your portfolio.

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*To add to your portfolio, simply edit your thread each time you want to add new or revised text

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#2 of 8 Old 04-26-2005, 02:11 PM
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I would like feed back on this please. especially for cliche's and another term for "magic member" b/c that's pretty bad but I'm up against a wall

pregnancy test

I guess i knew
before the lines appeared
I knew inside of me
When I dipped the stick
I didn't think
the lines would come
yet almost instantly
they were dark pink
and through my head
I bounced back and forth
between excitement and a
single shocked phrase
"Oh My God"

In super speed I saw
my belly grow, the birth
I saw this little one

I will have to get back later

Courtney and Cree, baby made 3, added one more then there were 4, sakes alive, then we had 5, another in the mix now we have 6!

A Momma in love with her Little Women-Jewel Face, Jo Jo Bean, June Bug, and Sweet Coraline.



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#3 of 8 Old 04-26-2005, 09:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Go ahead and post that in the Feedback forum if you want feedback and I'm sure folks will oblige!

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#4 of 8 Old 04-28-2005, 05:03 PM
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I am sitting on the couch watching TV when all of a sudden I am sweating and the room becomes oh so small. Back behind my eyes and down deep in my ears the spinning starts and I am lost in a wave of nausea that carries me away and pulls me under. I can feel it coming coming coming up and I rise and make my way towards the bathroom. I stagger stumble almost fall into the dark coolness of the bathroom. I hit the light and the brightness seems to make the feeling in the back of my throat even worse. I kneel in front of the toilet my hands against the cool porcelain of the sides of the bowl. I think to myself that just being in this position makes one want to throw up. I retch and pay my dues to motherhood just as thousands of mothers-to-be have done before me. My ears are roaring with the dizziness and the thoughts in my head are fragmented broken short. Why…so sick…all day…every day…stop…now. I flush and rise slowly very slowly. Shaking all over I reach for the mouthwash and catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. My face is pale almost translucent and my hair is sticking to the sweat on my forehead. But my eyes tell a different story. There I see a small glow a flicker an…anticipation.


The world is spinning around me but I am sitting still. The stall is freezing but there is sweat trickling down my neck and in the space between my breasts. I stare down at my underwear trying to comprehend what I see there. I am still spotting. It has been over 12 hours and the dark red brown blood assaults me like a fist to the stomach. I can’t breathe for the fear. I lean my head against the cool tile wall as I am sitting there and I try to slow the thunderous pumping I can feel in my chest. Time doesn’t matter. People come in and out of the bathroom do their business wash their hands leave and still I sit. I must get up. I must move my heavy legs and get to a phone. I must call my doctor. But still I sit. I concentrate on breathing in and out in and out. The coolness of the tile wall seeps into my forehead and the trickles of sweat slow then stop. Slowly the thumping in my chest subsides. Finally I am able to breathe evenly without gasping. There is quiet peace. As clear as if someone is standing next to me I hear “It is okay my child it is okay.” I concentrate inward and feel that somewhere deep inside me there is the life force of a tiny tiny baby. And that is enough for me. It will be okay.

It’s Twins

I am lying on my back on a paper covered table with my bare feet in freezing cold stirrups. I am staring at a poster on the ceiling of a white sand covered beach and blue blue water that you can almost see through. The water rolls up onto the sand and I wish that right now I was standing there with my toes curled into the sand with the water lapping over my bare feet. Instead I am waiting for the doctor to come in. Instead I am chanting over and over in my head “there will be a heartbeat there will be a heartbeat.” It is a mantra and I say it and say it until I believe it. The belief overshadows the doubt that has been planted deep within by the blood on my underwear. I feel the presence of a life within, but the fear is trying to take root. The doctor comes in sits down puts her hand over mine smiles. I am thankful that she does not say something stupid trying to erase my anxiety as though words have that power at this moment in time. The ultrasound machine is cold as it slips inside me and the image pops up on the screen. I see it before the doctor says a word. Two separate individual sacs that look like little jelly beans; one little body inside each little jelly bean; one little heart beating away inside each little body. They squirm and dance in their water filled world. I feel my heart beating in my ears my chest my toes as I stare in wonder at those two tiny little heartbeats. There are two and they are both okay and there is nowhere else that I would rather be at this moment than on this paper covered table with my bare feet in freezing cold stirrups staring at my dancing babies on a black and white screen.

No vitamins

I stand at the kitchen counter the green box of vitamins clutched in my hands. My stomach is churning but I must try again. I must try to swallow these pills which make my stomach ache and churn and heave. They tell me that it is so important for my babies that I take these vitamins. They fill me with a sense of dread that my babies will have stunted growth or insufficient nutrients or birth defects. I want to take the vitamins. I really do. My body does not want to take them to accept them to use them. Each time I take them my stomach sends them right back up again. I feel the kitchen floor beneath my bare feet. I hear the ticking of the clock in the other room. Somewhere outside a dog barks. And slowly I open the box and remove the foil packets. I set them in a row on the kitchen counter and plead with them to be kind to my stomach. The glass of water sits ready and waiting and I open the first foil packet. And that is as far as I get. The smell of the vitamins is too much is too strong and it slaps me in the face. As I am running for the bathroom I think that maybe I will try again…tomorrow.

Abby’s headlice

This is so not what I want to be doing this afternoon. I stand at the kitchen sink pulling a fine toothed comb through my daughter’s long wet hair again and again. A double diagnosis of strep throat and headlice makes Abby tired and grouchy. I feel a mixture of concern for my daughter and worry for the two unborn babies nestled deep in my belly. The chemicals that I comb through Abby’s hair aren’t good for her so how can they be good for two tiny people busy at the work of developing. Isn’t there a better way to do this? A sigh escapes my lips as my impatience with Abby’s squirming mounts. My poor girl is miserable but I feel nauseous and sweaty and tired. I am tired enough that I could lay down right here on the hard cold kitchen floor and fall asleep. But I don’t. I keep combing I keep telling Abby that it is okay that surely I am almost done. I think I must have been combing for hours but I want every last bug every last nit removed from her hair. I don’t want to do this again. Every time I think I am done I find another nit or bug. I want to cry I want to rest. I want to throw up. And I look around realizing that when I am done here I must start the task of vacuuming washing cleaning every inch of my house. Tears threaten to spill over. Oh but my poor Abby. She must be ready to cry now too. I know her throat is burning with infection and her neck must be aching from the awkward position she is sitting in. I comb and I bite back impatient remarks and I worry. I close my eyes for a split second long enough to voice a prayer. Please don’t let these awful chemicals cause any harm to my precious girl sitting in front of me with her pale little face and big blue eyes. Please don’t let any harm come to the two precious ones I harbor inside of me whom I have yet to meet yet already know.

Moving in With Mom & Dad

I am standing in the doorway between the kitchen and the living room. From here I can see the empty kitchen empty living room empty dining room doors that lead to empty bedrooms. We have only lived here for one year and most of that time I have felt as though trapped in the claws of a nightmare. If I concentrate on remembering I can close my eyes and see good memories. I can see my little boy walk for the first time across the living room floor in front of the big window his steps wobbly and unsure the sun shining in on his dark curls. I can see my daughter holding a wiggly spotted puppy on Christmas morning her hair in her face and sleep and a smile in her eyes. But my husband’s illness and his unwillingness to deal with it have taken over our lives. There are moments days weeks when I am screaming wondering why no one can hear me realizing it is only in my head. I am a mother of two…I have two more on the way…I am almost thirty…I don’t want to move back in with my parents. But I have no choice. My husband has quit his job and spends endless hours staring at a TV with no sound; endless hours telling me that I don’t love him that I never loved him that my family is out to get him. The rooms in front of me around me are beginning to swim in tears. I steady myself with my hand on the wall as the sobs shake me hold me consume me. I take the few steps to the kitchen door and step out into the sun. The brightness mixes with the tears in my eyes and the world is a fog. I think it is fitting that as I close and lock this door for the last time that I cannot see the rooms I am locking inside. Now I will go to the car where my children and husband wait and I will drive them to our new home in the basement of my parent’s house. There I am sure he will find another TV to stare at for hours on end until the day comes that I am ready to let him go.

David leaves

This is it. This is the moment. I have known for days that it was coming but I have not known how to prepare how to steel myself against the inevitable pain. His eyes are glazed over empty and cold. He is already gone even though he is standing here in front of me looking at me as if he doesn’t know who I am. His wedding ring that he took off and gave to me weeks before is cold and hard in my pocket and my hand is shaking as I wrap my fingers around it and pull it from its hiding place. I hold onto it as though it is a talisman. I put my arms around him hug him and he stands unmoving like a piece of stone. This man that I pledged my life to several years ago who was once so full of life is now just a shell of lost promises lost dreams. And I am broken. Deep in my belly the babies are rolling tumbling fidgeting as though they know all that I know; as though they can feel the coldness of my pain. I step back from my husband and find solace in my sister’s arms. My family forms a circle around David and offers up a prayer for his safe journey while he stares straight ahead unseeing. I try to hold it in but the sobs escape from me primal and loud and frightening. My sweet little girl places her skinny arms around her daddy’s waist buries her face in his stomach for a split second. And then she is gone into the other room hiding not wanting to see him walk out the door. My baby boy knows something is terribly wrong even though he can’t comprehend what it is. He clasps his chubby fingers together behind his daddy’s neck and buries his tiny nose in daddy’s shirt and refuses to let go. He cries and we have to pry him away from the man who has held him and loved him and cared for him and who isn’t capable of doing any of those things anymore. I see a flicker of pain cross my husband’s face but just as quickly as it was there it is gone and I see nothing. It is time. He follows his brother out the door and he doesn’t look back. I watch his retreating back and shoulders and I want to shout “STOP!” But I am quiet.

It seems like it has been mere moments but in reality it has been more like an hour and I find myself sitting in my favorite chair in the living room. How did I get here? What is time anyway? Why do we chart the pains and agonies of our lives in minutes and hours when those things know no time? I am staring up at the ceiling as though I can see through all the sheetrock the wood the shingles out into the bright blue blue sky under which my husband is driving farther and farther away from me.

It’s a girl & a boy

I could sit here and watch this all day long. My babies are turning looking right at me on the screen. They are sucking their thumbs and twisting and stretching and kicking one another. I can see their perfect little hearts beating and notice that one of them has a full bladder. The black and white screen is the only thing in my universe at this moment besides the comforting presence of my mom and sister and daughter at my side their eyes glued to the screen as mine are. We are rocking on the tide of this tiny yet expansive universe together. I know these babies; have known them since the beginning and I know that I have a girl and a boy as surely as I know that the moon will shine tonight but I wait for confirmation from the doctor. And now I hear that Baby A is a girl and the tears start to come slowly trickling out of the corner of my eye. And Baby B is a boy and the tears catch in my throat as my mind forms the prayer of wonder that my lips cannot. They are perfect and whole and mine and I sit and stare at their little bodies with a silly ecstatic grin on my face. And no matter what may be going on outside of this cool darkened room for this moment everything in this universe is as it should be.


I wonder if my legs will ever look normal again. They are swollen and water-filled and enormous. I sigh. And I have months to go yet. I am only in my second trimester and I cannot begin to imagine what my legs will look like in the last months of my pregnancy. I play a little game of leaving fingerprints in my skin. I can push my finger into my foot my ankle my shin and the imprint of my fingertip stays until it slowly fills back up with water. I wear flip flops everywhere I go because my feet will not fit into any of my other shoes. And I am beyond caring about how unprofessional it is to wear my flip flops to work. I flip flop flip flop down the hall to the bathroom and then flip flop flip flop back down the hall to my desk. And I wish I had some way to elevate my feet as I sit and can feel the water filling filling filling up my already swollen legs. I try to work but my legs are throbbing with the pressure and I just want to go home and lay in the recliner with my feet up and my eyes closed the ceiling fan blowing wisps of hair around my face.

The fan

The tiny little fan clipped on to the shelf in my cubicle is whirring whirring and still I sweat. My shirt is sleeveless my shoes are off my head is leaned back in my chair and the sweat drips down the back of my neck and my bra is sticking to me. I am hot and miserable. And I know it is not really hot in here. It is my raging hormones the weight of two babies the extra blood pumping through my body that makes my face red and my skin sticky with sweat. My co-worker is shivering in her cubicle and she complains that just the sound of my little fan makes her cold. What I want is a really really big fan sitting right in front of me blowing cold air in my face on my hot arms and sweaty neck. But my little fan blows away and makes this hot stuffy little office space with its pink/purple walls seem not quite so small. I put my face right up to my little fan and close my eyes and I sit and I breathe. And I will my skin to somehow absorb the cool air to pull it inside of me to where the heat starts and rages and spreads. But the phone rings and I jump eyes opened and still I sweat.

Steroid injections

I am 26 weeks pregnant with a shortening cervix and for the fifth time in three days I find myself sitting on a hard hospital table in the labor and delivery unit waiting for someone to come in and poke a needle into my hip. The room is hot and stuffy and unfriendly and my dad sits in a chair by the door his head leaned back against the plain white wall. I lie back on the crinkly white paper covering the table and close my eyes. The exhaustion is getting to me making my head hurt and my body ache and I know it is getting to my parents for I can see the fatigue behind their eyes and the dark circles underneath. For the past three days they have driven me the thirty minutes to the hospital every twelve hours so that I could get the shots that would help my babies’ lungs to develop faster. I hear the door open and I startle not realizing I had dozed off. A heavyset nurse walks in and asks me the same questions I have been asked over and over every time they stick me. She asks me which hip and I answer it is the left one this time. I roll over and pull the edge of my pants down exposing myself in this too bright room. I feel the familiar needle stick and then the pain of the drug begins to spread outwards. And on the long drive home I lean on my right hip my face pressed against the glass of the car window and chant in my head behind my closed eyes “just one more just one more just one more…”


I settle back into the stack of pillows on my bed and look out the opened window at the sun and the sky and the bright red flowers growing in the flowerbed. And I remember. I remember the way I had felt not quite right for the last couple of days. I remember the crampy tightness of my stomach and the effort that it took for me to walk from my chair in the waiting room to the table in the exam room. I remember the doctor’s hand inside of me and the words that my cervix was dilating. And I am only 28 weeks and I am falling falling inside of myself reaching grabbing for something solid and sure to hold onto. I remember the nurse in the labor and delivery unit trying and trying again to get an iv into my hand and the pain that made me bite my lip and the blood that spilled from a blown iv all over the bed. I remember the relief when the needle finally slipped in and I could feel the cool fluid rushing into my veins. I remember waiting waiting watching a stupid soap opera on the tiny tv. I remember a nurse and her not so gentle exam and hearing that my cervix had not changed any more that labor had stopped. I remember being handed a prescription for a blood pressure medication that would keep my uterus from contracting and the written instructions that I was to go home and to bed and that I was not to get up except for trips to the restroom. And now here I am stretched out on my bed my enormous belly rising up from me like the moon rises at night. The babies are still right now and I slip my hands under my shirt and place them on my bare stomach and close my eyes. They feel the pressure of my hands and respond with firm rapid kicks. The simple sweet love I have for them washes over me and resonates as a beautiful humming melody in my head. And I know that I will do anything and everything to keep them safe inside of me for as long as I can. I feel myself relaxing surrendering. And I am grabbing onto my will my strength my faith and they are solid and sure. I fall asleep with a smile playing on my lips like a feather floating in the wind.

Washing my hair in bed

I haven’t had a shower in days. I am confined to my bed and although my body has been sponged off repeatedly my hair is hanging limp stringy oily sticking to my face. I cannot get comfortable in this bed and I cannot stand to lie on my greasy nappy head. My frustration is heavy almost palpable.
And in walks my mom pulling the large green laundry basket behind her. She has emptied it of the dirty clothes and she instructs me to lie down my head over the edge of the bed hair hanging into the basket. She brings pitcher after pitcher of warm water to pour over my hair and she massages the shampoo into my scalp. It is hard for me to lie like this with the babies pressing upward onto my diaphragm. I concentrate to breathe at the same time relishing in the feel of her gentle fingers working the dirt and grease out of my hair. Again she brings pitcher after pitcher of warm water to rinse my hair. Breathing in this position is becoming increasingly hard and I am ready to turn back over onto my side. My mom wraps a fuzzy towel around my head and offers me a hand as I slowly clumsily manage to roll my body enormous with baby onto my side. I have developed a headache and I am still finding it hard to breathe a full breath. Oh but I don’t care because I am clean. The towel is removed and the comb is pulled through my pregnancy thick hair. And I fall asleep with my wet clean hair fanned out on the pillow around me.

Admitted to the hospital

For three weeks I have been laying on my back in bed. For three weeks I have had to explain over and over to my two children why mommy can’t get out of bed and play with them why they can’t get up on the bed and crawl on mommy. For three weeks I have stared out this window into the beautiful September sunshine aching to feel its warmth on my face. Instead I have settled for watching hour after endless hour of the CSI marathon. And now I lay here on the exam table watching my doctor’s face as she examines me and I know that the news is not good. She withdraws her hand and pulls off the latex glove. And then she says the words I have been expecting and dreading. My cervix has dilated another centimeter and my bag of waters is bulging. I am being admitted to the hospital this afternoon. They wheel me downstairs in a wheelchair so that I can tell the kind elderly couple from my church who have driven me here today that I am to stay that they can go ahead without me.
I am wheeled into a room and given a hospital gown. I am told that I am allowed to get up and use the restroom and that I am allowed a ten minute shower every day. The shower part thrills me as that is more than I have been allowed at home. I put on the ugly flowered gown and crawl into the bed with its stiff sheets and realize that I have nothing here. I have no toothbrush no comb no lotion no books to read and most importantly no clean underwear. I will call my parents later and ask them to bring me what I need. For now I just lie here and look out my window into the parking lot. Cars come and go people come and go and here I lie. And the truth sets in. I am thirty minutes away from home and I know I will not be able to see my kids everyday. I will have to settle for brief agonizing visits on the weekends. My heart aches inside of me at the thought a quiet ache that is furled tight and spreads outwards. Their dad has left has deserted them and now I am leaving them too and I catch my breath with the pain. In the same instant that I am reeling from the blow the gratitude comes quietly like a gentle summer rain lightly pattering on the grass. Oh what I have to be thankful for! I didn’t want to move in with my parents three months ago but I am beginning to realize that it was all a part of some divine plan for I know I will never have to worry about whether my kids are safe or getting enough to eat or enough love and care to sustain them. They are with my parents and I know that their every need will be provided for. I have only been here for a few minutes but I am already lonely for them and I cannot help the tear that rolls down my face onto my belly full of babies. In that moment I am reminded why I am here what all of this is for. And I put my arms around the stomach that is holding protecting the two little ones that I have yet to meet. I hold them and love them and breathe in and out willing myself to be strong to do what needs to be done.


I think I am dying. It starts out as a raging ball of heat in the center of my chest and then it expands outwards until I can feel it in the tips of my fingers and toes. I can’t breathe and I feel like I am going to throw up. This must be what hell is like. I want to rip this iv out of my hand. I want to be somewhere cold freezing arctic. I press the button to page the nurse again and again until she calmly walks in my door as though she doesn’t realize this is a serious emergency. I tell her that I must be dying that I am going to pass out that there is this unrelenting heat coming from somewhere inside of me. She tells me that is perfectly normal and turns the thermostat in my room down to 65 degrees. Normal? Is she crazy? I start to cry and my mom arrives. She takes one look at my red face and the sweat dripping off my hair and asks for a fan. She then promptly puts her coat back on.
For three days this drug is pumped into my body in an attempt to stall labor to keep my cervix from dilating past 4 centimeters. My family takes turns staying with me wrapped in their coats and blankets while I am in a thin cotton gown sweating profusely. The drug numbs me and I cannot even tell when I have to pee. Every so often they help me to get out of bed to use the portable toilet the nurses have placed in my room. I have no control over my legs they are heavy like lead and useless so they use their hands to pull one leg and then the other to the edge of the bed where they put their hands under my arms and pull me to my feet. And I sit on the toilet and go and go and I did not know I even needed to go. My speech is slurred and my vision is blurry. I cannot concentrate to watch tv or read a book because everything is swimming in front of my eyes. I cannot roll over in bed because the wires attached to my stomach lose the babies’ heart rates and nurses come rushing into the room ordering me to lay this way or that way. My hips begin to ache a dull steady ache and my sister rubs them trying to relieve the pressure. I cannot eat anything but jell-o and chicken broth but I am starving and overdo it and promptly throw up bright red on the white sheets on myself in the little kidney shaped bowl that my mom holds. I go back to drinking sprite and water. I don’t sleep at night. I am hot I am hungry I am stiff and uncomfortable and in need of a shower.
But I close my eyes and think of my babies that are too tiny to be born yet. I visualize them getting bigger stronger fatter. As much as my arms ache to hold them it is not time yet it is not safe yet.
And on the third day the iv is turned off. Labor has stopped. Four hours later I am allowed to return to my room and allowed to take a shower. I sit on the plastic chair letting the warm water run over my belly and breasts ripe and beautiful with pregnancy and I pray.


I am trying to write in my journal but my hands are shaking so hard that I cannot seem to hold onto my pen. My handwriting resembles the scratchings of a child learning to write. The terbutaline is keeping my uterus from contracting but I cannot seem to quit shaking and I can feel my heart thumping away in my chest. I let my pen drop to the bed and a drop of red ink spreads into the sheets. I settle back into my pillow and think. Some more. For that is what I do day after day after long day in this hospital bed with the unchanging view out my window. I am lonely and tired and angry. My anger colored in red and orange reaches out over the miles the oceans the countries to my husband far far away who has left me to do all of this alone. I have missed him I miss him still. But my anger at his immaturity his self-centeredness his willingness to abandon his children abandon me is becoming stronger than the ache of missing him. In the back of my clouded mind a realization is dawning that I will never see him again. But I do not cannot acknowledge it yet. For now it is easier to focus on the anger. I bite my lip to keep from disturbing my roommate on the other side of the thin cotton curtain with the words that long to spill out of my angry mouth. I am quiet. My fan blows cool air across my hot feet and hairy legs and I wish there was some way to get that air into the hot sweaty place between my enormous belly and the tops of my thighs. My heart is racing racing and I sigh and fall into a not so deep sleep for it is late.
It is 5:30 am and the nurse comes in to give me my meds and attach me to the monitor for my non-stress test. The room is still dark and I hear another nurse talking quietly to my roommate. My nurse takes my blood pressure and checks my heart rate. And she cannot give me my meds because my heart is beating too fast. I could have told her that. Only minutes out of sleep I can feel every hard fast beat pounding pounding in my chest and I feel faint and nauseous. It seems that the room with its white walls and pukey pink curtains is spinning around and around. She comes back in two hours and my heart is beating even faster and I feel so sick. I wonder if I am going to have a heart attack. And at the advice of the maternal fetal specialist they discontinue my dose of terbutaline. I am at 34 weeks and they have done all they can do. And I know that this is the beginning of the end. And at that end waiting expectantly for me is a new beginning. I close my eyes and go back to sleep.


My eyes open and I am not sure why. The clock on the wall says it is 2am and the room is dark and quiet. If I listen carefully I can hear my roommate’s soft steady breath and somewhere down the hall a door closes. And then I feel it. A cramp in my lower belly that starts in the center and spreads outwards like a shaft of lightning spreading across a black sky. I wait. And five minutes later I feel it again and this time I catch my breath. It has only been a little over twenty four hours since my last dose of terbutaline and already my body is ready to complete the journey towards birth that was started 34 weeks ago. I watch the clock and every five minutes or so a powerful surge grips my belly. The babies are active twisting and turning and kicking from the outside I can make out little feet and hands pushing against my too tight skin. And I smile knowing that today I will get to meet these little people that I have sheltered inside of me. My nurse will come in at 5:30 for my non-stress test so I decide to just wait for now quietly and peacefully. I want to be alone with my babies. I want to anticipate the moment that I will see each of them and the moment that they will be introduced to their big sister and big brother. And I pray. In the quiet darkness of this room with the view of the moon and the stars outside my window I pray that they are big enough that they will be okay that it is safe for them to come now. If I could kneel on this cold tile floor I would but instead I lie on my side in my narrow hospital bed and let my prayers swirl around me and above me. I let them lift me up. I wish I could reach my hands up up up to the sky and grab a handful of the stars to hold for they are so very bright tonight. And every few minutes I stop to breathe deep through the pain.

Is there an end to this non-stress test? I look again at the clock with its slow moving hands. It is 6:30. I have been hooked up to this machine with its wires criss-crossing all over me for an hour. And still the pain comes every few minutes making me close my eyes tight and breathe cheeks puffed out and I want to pull these wires off of me and throw them with gusto into the trash can. And every so often the nurse comes in and looks at the paper that is printing out my contractions and the babies’ heart beats. She studies it as though it makes no sense to her and then she leaves as if she thinks when she comes back the next time the paper will say something different. I want to scream at her “I am in labor don’t you understand that?” But I say nothing to her. I am afraid of what I might say. Instead I reach out my hand pick up the phone and call my mom.

The machine has run out of paper. But the tightenings the crampings the surgings continue with force. The nurse comes in and wonders why I did not call her to tell her the paper was gone. I just look at her and decide that it is not worth it to tell her that I don’t need a paper printout to verify that I am in labor. She would not understand. They have decided to put in an iv and pump me full of fluids to see if they can stop my contractions. I try to object but am told it is doctor’s orders. My mom and dad and sister arrive in time to see the nurse attempting to put the iv in my arm. Of course it blows and blood is everywhere and finally I cannot take anymore. My arms are covered in bruises varying shades of purple and green and black from my weeks in the hospital. I am tired of being poked and prodded and I cry and scream that I just want to be left alone. I am sure I must look half crazed with my red tear streaked face and uncombed hair and bright angry eyes. And I no longer care. But my mom takes my hand and whispers to me that today is the day that it is almost over that I can do this. So I only cry softly as the nurse tries again with the needle and this time succeeds. The fluid drips drips drips and the bag empties and flattens and still my belly surges. As I knew it would. And then the nurse reaches inside of me and calmly announces that I am still at four centimeters as I have been for weeks. And I do not understand. How can that be? But she smiles at me and says that because my little girl is lying transverse there is no pressure on the cervix with my contractions. And my eyes close over the tears as another pain grips my abdomen and I am lost somewhere inside of myself. Surely they will not leave me like this in this pain. The nurse throws the latex glove in the trashcan and goes to talk to my doctor.

My family sits with me their quiet presence loud with its love and support. And almost before I realize what is happening my nurse sets my chart thick with weeks worth of hospital papers on my bed and the brake is being released. And this is it. I am wheeled past my quiet roommate out the door of the room that has been my home and down the long hall towards labor and delivery. My family grabs the video camera the other cameras and runs to catch up. I hear their feet behind me on the tile floor. I am wheeled into a room where my mom dons a sterile gown and cap while my dad and sister make sure there is film in the cameras. I am given a sour purple liquid to drink to keep me from becoming nauseated during the surgery. The taste of the horrid liquid itself is enough to make anyone nauseated and I swallow against my gag reflex. My gown is lifted up and my hair is shaved where the incision will be made. I scrawl my signature on a consent form for the anesthesiologist. And all this time I am fighting not to lose myself in the pain spreading through and through me. It is time. I am wheeled into the OR with my mom beside me my dad and sister waiting outside the door.

The Delivery

I had been hovering on the brink of a turning point for weeks but was unable to give myself over to it. I had spent six weeks on my back in bed and I had been here at the hospital for three of those weeks. I had been poked and prodded and drugged all in an effort to keep my precious babies inside of me for just a little bit longer. And just a few minutes before I had rounded my back and tucked my chin to my chest and felt the stick of a needle go into my spine as I tried to breathe. I felt something spreading from my toes and then I felt nothing at all from my chest down. The nurses picked up my legs and helped me to lie down as they moved my body into position. And here I was with a blue curtain in front of my face so I could not see what was happening on a table so narrow that I felt I would surely topple off if I could have moved my extremities. An oxygen mask was being strapped to my face and my mom was given a stool to sit on right next to my head. My body had given up it had rebelled and my babies were going to be born today. And I was no longer hovering on the brink of my turning point but falling into it with fear and unacceptance. In the back of my mind I had known for weeks that I would probably end up having a c-section but I had refused to think much about it hoping praying pleading that my babies would move and turn. But they hadn’t. And now I wanted to cry as I realized that my babies would be cut from me in this cold white sterile room. I stared at the white tiles in the ceiling and concentrated on counting them concentrated on keeping the tears from spilling over down my cheeks and dropping to the ammonia bleached floor. Nurses were all in a bustle around me and my doctor was scrubbing up and the doctors and nurses from the NICU were putting on their sterile gowns and preparing the warmers for my babies. And in the noise and ordered chaos around me I also began to face the reality that I would not be taking my babies home with me like I had hoped. I now knew that they would spend time in the NICU hooked up to wires and machines that I would not be able to hold them immediately that I would have to leave this place empty handed. I had refused to confront this for weeks but with the incision about to be made in my belly the time for illusions and fantasies had gone. My swollen overtaxed body simply could not contain their growing little bodies any longer. I had fought and fought to keep them inside of me for this long but the time had come. And as my mom sat beside me her hands gently on my head I also confronted the reality that my husband was gone and that he really had no place at the birth of these children. My parents had loved and cared for my kids and me for months and it was right and natural for her to be here with me. It was at that same instant that I began the journey to knowing and understanding that my life would continue to move on without him that I would be happy and at peace without him even though I did not yet realize it.

And before I was ready an incision was being made in my belly and I felt pressure and I was scared and straining waiting praying to hear a cry. And at 11:37 am my little girl filled the room with her angry cry and my heart soared at the sound and the tears of relief joy thankfulness rolled from my eyes. I wanted to see her to touch her and hold her. I could hear her cries as the doctors worked on her as I felt more pressure more pushing on my stomach. Oh please let him cry too let him be okay too. And at 11:39 am my little boy was born and he cried. And my heart leapt into my throat and I cried with him the joy and the love filling me up from the inside out and overflowing into that operating room that had looked so unfriendly just a few minutes before. My mom was smiling and taking pictures and telling me they were beautiful. I ached to see my babies to look on them with my own eyes and tell them how much I loved each of them. But my doctor was stitching me up and there was pressure and I felt hot and I couldn’t breathe and I was sick. Too late the anesthesiologist injected the anti-nausea medicine into my spinal and I missed the bowl that my mom held in front of my face and threw up on her and the floor. And while I still had the rancid taste in my mouth my babies were brought to me wrapped tightly in blankets before being taken away to the NICU. I touched Malaika’s pointy little nose and Isaiah’s tiny tiny ear and I marveled at the small packages of beautiful perfection they were. And I hoped that somehow my touch would comfort them.

As my babies were taken from the room I had to repress a sob for this was not the birth the beginning that I had wanted for them. But in spite of my sadness my disappointment I knew that I had gained a release of monumental importance. As my mom had tended to my needs as I had thrown up bright yellow all over her as she had talked tenderly to me and advocated passionately for me I had realized her deep love for me. In those moments her love had lifted me up to a place of peace. And I had turned the corner given myself up to the experience and accepted what was.

Post Partum

I am alone. Totally alone in a cool empty room reaching my hands down to my stomach and for the first time in months not feeling a kick in response. My babies are down the hall in the NICU my family is with them and I am alone in this recovery room. And I miss my babies. I miss the reassurance of their kicking and twisting inside of me. And I am lying here aching to hold them to make sure they are alright. I am so tired and I close my eyes and almost immediately I am spinning into sleep bright colored lights behind my eyes. But the door opens and in walks the social worker. She has news about my babies and I am instantly awake. She says that Malaika is four pounds two ounces and Isaiah is an even five pounds. Malaika is doing fine and I knew she would be and I begin to relax. But Isaiah has to work too hard to breathe on his own. They have given my sweet boy a dose of surfactant to help his lungs contract better and he has been hooked up to a ventilator. I imagine my tiny little man with tubes down his throat and I want to run to him. But I can’t. I cannot even feel my legs yet. The social worker assures me that he is doing very well they are just being cautious she is sure everything will be fine. But I am crying and she is uncomfortable and she shuts the door quietly behind her as she leaves. And now I know I will not be able to sleep and I turn my head to the wall and let the tears run down the side of my cheek to soak the pillow under my head.

I am propped up on pillows in my bed in the post partum unit and I am watching the hands of the clock tick slowly by. I want to see my babies. My family has been in the NICU with them all afternoon and two of my friends have been allowed to see my babies but still I sit here in this bed the spinal finally beginning to wear off. And now I am itching. My face itches deep deep inside from the morphine I was given to make me relax for the spinal. It feels like something is crawling in there and my face is red from the scratching. I am beginning to feel stinging stabbing pain in my lower abdomen and am given oral painkillers. I want to see my babies. I am told I must wait a little longer until my legs are stronger. I cannot go to them just yet. I clench my hands into fists over and over. And I wonder what kind of a mother I am allowing someone to make me stay here when all I want is to run across the hall to my babies. My heart aches for them a slow steady pain in the deepest part of myself.

Finally. It is just now after 7pm and they are finally helping me into a wheelchair and slinging the bag from my catheter over the bar on the back of the chair. I am pushing myself against the pain catching my breath in short little gasps. My fluids iv is attached to a pole on wheels and we begin our slow procession across the hall. My heart is pounding in my chest and I want to leap out of the chair and run to the NICU because I do not like moving this slow. The only thing that stops me is the pain in my belly. I sign my name to the sign-in sheet and wash my hands and suddenly there they are. Perfect and tiny and almost hidden behind the wires and tubes that are crawling all over them. My heart melts. Isaiah is on his back and I can barely make out his face behind the breathing tube that is taped to his face before it disappears into his mouth. But I can see enough to know that he looks exactly like his big brother. There is a rag over his eyes to keep the bright lights out and he has an iv run through his belly button. He is covered in wires that lead to machines that read his heartbeat and his respiration rate and the level of oxygen in his blood. And he looks so tiny and helpless. He hears a loud noise and startles arms flung out to the sides. I put my finger into his bony little hand and he squeezes tight body relaxing. I am not allowed to hold him because of the breathing tube so I run my hands over his fuzzy hair and his perfect nose and feel the soft warmth of him. I stroke his stomach and his legs and can feel all of his soft little bones underneath his skin and I whisper in his ear that I love him. And he turns to the sound of my voice and something inside of me begins to sing for even though he was taken from me and I have not yet held him my son knows me. I continue to speak softly to him stroking his hair and he breathes evenly and sleeps. And then there is Malaika. She is even smaller bonier pointer than her brother but she is strong and immediately turns to me and opens her eyes up wide for there is no rag over them. She too is covered in wires but she has no tubes down her throat or iv’s in her belly. And I am allowed to hold her. She is tiny and feels weightless in my arms like I am holding nothing but a fluffy white cloud. She has closed her eyes and gone to sleep and I am left to study her moon shaped fingernails and her little eyelids that have no eyelashes yet. I can feel her breathing softly and she has snuggled down into the crook of my left arm content and quiet. And I know that she knows me too. I run my fingers along the outline of her soft spot on her head and I unwrap her feet and notice that they aren’t even as long as my littlest finger. I lean my head back and close my eyes and just feel her body next to mine. But they notice that I am looking tired and take her from me. Before I leave I kiss the tops of my babies’ tiny heads and I am given Polaroid shots of them to take to my room with me. I clutch them in my hands and to my chest knowing they are no substitute for the real thing and that I want my babies sleeping in little bassinets next to my bed within reach of my arms and my eyes. But that is not to be and so I sigh blinking back the tears as they release the brake on my chair and wheel me away from my little ones.
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#5 of 8 Old 04-30-2005, 07:13 PM
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Free writes for “Mothering” Forum

These three were written on 4/3/05

Hi everyone. I am glad to begin this journey of sharing and processing and celebrating togeher. I'll try for 10 minutes...we'll see how long my daughter lasts with her papa trying to entertain her.
I almost didn't take a pregnancy test when my period was "late" way back in March of 2004. I often have strange cycles that last anywhere from 28 to 65 days! So, I had given up on the rythm method and hoped for my intuition to guide me. I had been in Belieze traveling so I had a small time frame when I could have gotten pregnant, but I still was reluctant to take the test because I had "wasted" so much money in the past on them, and they were always negative. My man and I had been together a little over a year at that point in time. I bought a test one day after having had the sorest nipples for about a week. I went to a sauna that night with my friend (who is also a midwife) and her little son. Her son was so interested in my belly that night...and then I got light headed in the sauna and I began wondering what was going on. Hmmmm. I awoke the next morning at sunrise after having dreams that I was pregnant (also a common occurance in my life). So I woke up and groggily made it into the bathroom, peed on the stick and yawned for a minute or so. I look over at the stick expecting to show a negative as usual, when I see those two very distinct pink lines. (I am now writing one handed as Amaya is nursing...does this count as setting time aside?! ) As i looked all I could think was whoa! I have desired to be amama and have a baby for a long time, but also was finishing college, living separatley from my man, had no steady source of income etc. But..I was pregnant!!! I got up and went on a walk at the local marsh. As I sat and watched the mist rise off the bay and the godwitts pick up sand creatures I sat and thought about the miracle that was budding within me. I rejoiced as I also began to think about all those things you wonder while you are pregnant. But I knew I wanted this little being in my life and I felt so amazed and blessed. That's it for now, my fiance is complaing about me being on the computer and him being hungry etc. It is quite difficult to have 10 minutes...as it is I have been interupted at least 3 times. Ahhh...life with a babe!

Ahhh...pregnancy cravings. People were always asking me what I craved. When strawberries hit their peak in the season the Co-Op had flats of them for $21. So what did I do? I spent $21 dollars on strawberries! Now if that isn't a total pregnant move I don't know what is. I ate them for weeks and froze the rest for smoothies. Yum! I also visited our local organic blueberry farm with a pregnant friend. We picked our own berries and then lounged under the bushes and ate at least as many as we eventually paid for. That was a piece of heaven. I was hooked on pesto pasta with salmon for a while...all this good food in the summer. Also I craved naps, swimming in the nearby rivers and visiting my favorite, Moonstone beach. I wanted tuna sandwiches but mostly held out due to Mercury issues (isn't sad what we are doing to this beautiful earth?!) Another craving just popped up, I remember wanting to ride horses when I was about 6 months along. I just had all these visions of riding down the beach in fluid motion with a horse. Once Amaya was born I began craving inari (Japanese rice stuffed in fried tofu), and meat! I've been a fish eating vegetarian for 8 years and just recently have been eating chicken and turkey (free range organic only)...I surprise myself. But, I realize, part of this whole lesson of mothering is to be fluid and to go with the flow of things...to be patient with ourselves and our familes...and to let go if we need to. So I give thanks and enjoy my turkey sandwiches.

Anticipation is the real kicker of pregnancy. I anticipated so much, and was both rewarded and deeply dissapointed. I had magical dreams, and long sweet days of pregnancy. I gave birth to a healthy baby girl who is the light of my life, and yet her birth was far from what I had anticipated. I assume we will write about birth stories in teh future, so I will save the details for then. However, I will say....
I had amazingly vivid dreams of birthing a baby girl. In each of my birth dreams I was alone with a helper nearby. While they took place in various settiings each was similar in that I calmly pushed her out and watched her emerge from my yoni. As soon as she was born I would bring her up to my chest and marvel at her. The birth always went so smoothly. I feel that through my work as a doula and midwifery student, and my time spent at births, and my general attitude about birth, that that I could absolutley have a smooth labor and birth at home. When after two nights of contractions, a full 22 hours of active labor, and 7 hours of pushing at home we transported to the local hospital birth center where I pushed out my baby three hours later with the help of a vacum, I was shocked by this very different outcome. This was deeply dissapointing as she was not only not born at home, but I was exhausted and didin't watch her birth as I wanted, I was surrounded by nurses and protocol, her cord was cut immediatly and before I could see her she was whisked to a warming table for respiratory work. Not the begining I envisioned for my most precious babe. (Well...I guess I did go into it a little...I hope you will all read my birth story in its entirety when I write it later). So while some of anticipations about labor where lived...time in the birth time, being in the comfort of my home, having my loved ones with me, many where not. I've learned that it is quite hard to let go of expectations!
On a brighter note, let me say that the last few weeks of pregnancy were sweet even with the waiting. Amaya Madrone was 16 days past her due date. We spent lots of time at the beach and I would talk to the ocean and feel the tides, my man and I snuggled at home, watched movies, took walks, ate good food. I took naps and slept in (remember that?!) We even collected maple seeds one day while taking a walk to start labor going...they are now sprouting into little trees. Each day was one day closer to meeting our baby, and at the same time one last day of autonomy and couple hood. A truly special time in my life.

I wanted to add something about "anticipation." While I anticipated that having a baby would bring joy and beauty into my life I could never have imagined the immense LOVE I have for this sweet daughter of mine. I love her throughly, with the essence of my being. She lived in the innermost part of my body (inside an organ...how much more in can one go?), and now the love I feel for her permeates every inch of my being, and somehow continues to grow as she and I spend each day together. There is no way to anticipate this magical mama/baby love.

I held up her sweet little onsie...the one that was long and tiny all at the same time. The one with little bees buzzing across the fabric. I wondered as I looked down at my taut, round belly, at the miracle that within me was the being that would one day wear this small piece of clothing. All those wonderings about who this little being would be, what would s/he look like, was she a she? Yet, the certainty that my baby would one day wear this incredibly small onsie was relatively concrete. A stone in the flowing river of possibilities. I would often hold up her clothes while I was pregnant, always marveling that yes! I was pregnant, and yes! one day my babe would be in my arms and in her clothes. Amazing.

She walked in the door of that room, with the door open, covered only by a curtain...for "privacy"...and announced, after briefly looking at me and acessing "the situation" that I would probably have a c-section and that I could not drink any more fluids. This after 18+ hours of labor and 7 hours of pushing at home. This after the hugely dissapointing departure from my home. This cold statement after I had been working with all my might to bring my baby into this world...into the light. I, though exhausted, knew I would not submit! Not to this woman or her c-section that she I needed since I had been pushing so long. No! I looked to my man and saw the deep worry in his face...the dispair. I looked at the nurse next to me, a woman I knew and trusted as she had previously been a midwife. I looked at her and she leaned close to me and whispered in my ear, "I know you can do this. I know you can push this baby out." Thank you Joanne. Thank you! I ignored that doctor, though I did not drink any water, and endured terrible reflux burning my throat as I pushed for 3 more hours. And yes...I did push my daughter out...not into the peaceful hands of my midwife in the comfort of my home...but, I did give her a natural birth. At least there was the relief that I gave her that...and did not submit to the ideas of that doctor.
(I am adding to this story a couple weeks later....)
Yet I wonder sometimes, of what I did allow once in the hospital in a state of such exhaustion. The other doctor, the more compassionate of the two, she suggested using the vacum. So, for the last half hour or so (I'm supposing here, as time was unmeasurable at that point) a hand controlled vacum was aplied to my baby's head. I could not see this, as I couldn't see the mirror, and was on my back of all places! Words did not come to me to ask for the mirror to be angled better...and I still feel regret over this. Missing the visual aspect of my daughter's birth. Sigh. So, with the mightyest (how the heck do you spell that?) of pushes, and the help (or hinderence?) of the vacum, I pushed my daughter out. Does this still count as natural? Perhaps not entirely...but unmedicated, yes! Dedicated? Absolutley!
Mother's day was the other day and at the end of the day I was feeling sad about Amaya's birth. I constantly try to remind myself that her birth occured as it did for a reason. I did re-write my birth story on my own recently...and focused on the more empowering aspects. I also must remind myself that I am strong and gave all of myself in my labor. I worked with all my energy to bring my daughter into this world and she is healthy and beautiful. Wow...I am really rambling now...so I'll end for now.

1st Trimester
telling Ward...sunlight dappled afternoon
telling close friends...laughter
butterflies in the belly
reading all my pregnancy and midwifery books...baby looks like that?! right now?!
driving to SF to tell my family...nervous and more butterflies
relief at their reactions
mmmm strawberries
when will I begin to show?
long naps
clear dreams
distractions of constant thoughts of baby to be
trying to finish classes
giving in to having an ultrasound..and then being awestruck by seeing baby on that screen...and hearing that sweetest heartbeat, "like a hummingbird" said Ward...such a magical moment, admist technology
lounging, naked days at nearby rivers
sun shining onto my belly
tender, tender breasts
fuller breasts
first prenatal with the midwives
matzah in the mornings
trips to the baby store...already
a very special time!

2nd Trimester

beautiful belly
swim class with other lovely, vuluptous mamas to be
laughing about it all
eating, and eating some more
driving to San Francisco for a visit, and dining out the whole time...yum!
summer time lounging in warm sunshine by languidly flowing rivers
swimming, weightless in cool water
sweet time with my partner
lots of photo sessions
feeling those first amazing movements
hearing that sweet heartbeat with the fetoscope
always resting my hands over my belly
falling in love, in love, in love with this being
renovating the house
my partner moved in
navigating the newness
and patience tested
the most wonderful blessing way
and the baby shower that followed
my partner feeling baby and begining to talk to her/him
going with the flow

“Turning Point”

I had been pushing for about 5 hours...so I guess it was about 3 in the morning at that point. The vastness of that night is beyond measure. My small house trying to contain all the energy of a laboring mama...me. I was exhausted, yet with each contraction pushed with so much might. My man and my midwives encouraged me to stand and walk as perhaps that might aid my pushes and bring this baby down and out. "How about walking outside" they suggested. The eternity between the bedroom and the sliding glass doors...I could not fathom the long journey. So I stood and hung from my man's shoulders. That pressure...the most incredible, intense, un-explainable force surging through me. I could barely handle it. Yet I did, for hours more. I stood when I could, and even braved a shower on my own. My babe's head pressing against my inner most being for hours and hours and hours...that was a turning point. Struggling with that pressure,trying to work with it, to bring this baby out was intensely challenging.
Yet, she was not born...not yet. I asked my man the time, he told me "4 and some change" (though after the birth he admitted it was 3 minutes to 5). Another turing point in my labor. Though there were few to no thoughts outside of labor, I was able to do the math... I had been pushing for 7 hours. Another turning point. Why was she not here yet? What was hindering her descent? Desperation and exhaustion led me to the tub once more. It was there that one of my midwives told me that the heart beat was starting to be off and that we really should go to the hospital birth center. I knew that we had to go at that point...for my baby. Yet the despair of leaving home and the birth I had envisioned left me feeling so dissapointed, worn out...Actually there aren't even words for those few moments of time. The realization that the dream was not to be. Getting out of the tub, into some pants, slippers, a robe. Unable to talk to any of my beloved birth team. Beyond tears.
Out the door into the pre-dawn morning. Pausing for contractions. The car ride, surreal...the midwife's car ahead, her rear lights, gleaming red in the darkness. Pushing in the front seat. Drenching my pants, pee, amniotic fluid. And pulling up to the hospital. Turning point? Yes, in a most profound way.
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#6 of 8 Old 04-30-2005, 11:00 PM
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Me too!

I'll be back!

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#7 of 8 Old 05-04-2005, 11:45 AM
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I see red flesh pulsating
dancing and spilling out
flowing liquids

little did i know
that you would come out of me like
a tight sweatshirt opening
being pulled over your young
toddler's head.

thirteen months ago you dived down out of my uterus
and said goodbye to that sweet placenta
my cervix thinned out
and you made your way
through an ever dilating undulating passage

focus pocus
I've found my focus
I did
I did
can I keep it?
or will it shift?

I couldn't have known then how I would birth either of you.
But i could of kept the faith and known that I would open.
I doubted myself. but I never doubted you.
I did open
I did it
I did
in my own lotus way I opened to both of you
and continue to do so perpetually

To be powerful in life, birth and death, the beginning and end, the during and in between: the transitions, most of all the transitions…if I had known then, what I know now, I could have made it through transition without an epidural. I did not want one, but fear set in when my water broke full of meconium and I was suddenly eight centimeters. Fear set in as it often will in a medical environment when you are left to labor without any real support, with a partner still traumatized from your previous hospital birth, with a nurse whom you do not know and who doesn’t know if the tub has jets or how to run it because no one had ever used it to labor before, when everyone is scared--everyone including your doctor.

My first labor and delivery was attended by a southern Baptist doctor who almost thought he would have to give me a c-section three times over, but then said that God had pulled me through, but that he was to “witness, to us (my husband and I) because we did not know him…” This left me feeling extremely distressed in the midst of my post-partum hormones raging as much as his statement made me rage. After a very long labor ending with my child being sucked out of me by vacuum extraction and then pulled out with forceps; I wanted to shout back at him, and let him know in no uncertain terms that God was teaching him a lesson: that women sometimes need a long time to labor and that eventually the baby will come out, that threatening with a c-section isn’t go to speed things up. But, I didn’t say anything. After all, he was the doctor, the authority figure. I was the first-time mom, at his mercy.

I’ll never forget at the birth of my first son during the last pushes, I said, “Dr. Richmond, please hold my hands ( I needed to sit up and pull on something between my legs).” I felt so stupid when my mother in law and nurses said, “he’s sterile, he can’t touch you.” He was delivering the child inside me—but he could not pull my hands to ease delivery? What blasphemy. This would never happen with a midwife in your home. A midwife would never look at you with disdain and say, as one of my doctors did, after being asked if you could squat while laboring, “I’m not getting on the floor to catch your baby.”

My power was taken away when I become a patient instead of being what I was: a birthing mother. My husband was unsupportive of homebirths due to the birth trauma that he experienced with our OB in Alabama (that man put the fear of birth right into my man), and unwilling to pay more than the $10.00 that the in-network prenatal care and hospital delivery would cost under our HMO. So, for our second child it was back to the hospital for me. I believed and trusted my doctors until they gave me information that was contrary to my own research. For example, my doctor told me that an episiotomy would prevent damage to the pelvic floor. I had just read In A Good Birth, A Safe Birth: “In their (Enkin, Cheirse, and Chalmers) complete review of world literature, the authors found no research to support a medical need for episiotomies. ‘In fact, the liberal use of episiotomy is associated with higher overall rates of perineal trauma.’” (Korte and Scaers) The doubts began, and finally I began the process of trusting myself more than the doctors.
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#8 of 8 Old 05-04-2005, 03:03 PM
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freewrite on this story
What I want for this story is that it tell my truth, my not knowing, still, how to place it, how to say it, how to fix it, because it is still in the un-fixable space that I am in relation to birth. I have so many feelings about my birth, her birth, our birth. Joy, relief, fear, pain, sadness, mourning, deep deep pain, anxiety, elation, calm, strength, pride. This story needs to say it all, and it needs to remain open--it needs to show me and its readers how important it is to me and how I hope next time will be better, but how grateful I am that she is here, safe and sound. That those two things can sit side by side. That gratitude and joy live very close to disappointment and sorrow. That many, many women feel like this, and many who don't might never know the greater joy that could be theirs. And of course, many who know, quite simply, that birth is what it brings us, and not how it is brought.

Turning Points
labor was sucky throughout but a turning point was when i finally said yes to the c-section at the end, because i had to, and because i couldn't do it anymore. the defeat, the letdown, the air out of my balloon, my baby wasn't "tolerating" labor, no progress, i was going to ask for meds anyway, it all came to a head. another turning point was probably being in the room with the stress test, about to be let go, when everything happened and they all came running... not knowing what to do, totally panicked, i found chuck's eyes, which held me up completely. i just knew i had to be still and let them all work. he just knew he had to hold my eyes and keep me focussed. so we locked eyes and souls even though our very insides and cores were overflowing with fear. i was weeping silently, could feel the tears running down my face, but held my head still to look at him. he mouthed "it's ok" over and over and over. after it all passed, and they explained that i would be admitted immediately, there was a brief calm. a turning point. i knew that he would be everything i needed him to be. even though i had wondered before. i let myself turn everything over to him, and i concentrated on sending our baby good feelings. other turning points: breathing through pain, asking questions, finding i could stand up for myself.

TURNING POINT (2nd freewrite)
the crucial turning point for me in a writing project is when I find and can SAY what my central argument is. Usually, I've been gathering notes and observing details and have a general sense of what I'm feeling about the texts I'm studying, but when I can actually SAY it in a sentence or two, the rest is cake. Well, not cake in the sense that it's all easy and fluffy and wonderful, because it isn't, but cake in the sense that the rest of the writing is like the solid substance of cake, the part that gives the icing form and taste in its contrast and support, the part that establishes it as GOOD and delicious and that carries it out in more subtle forms in its body. In labor, in my labor anyway, or rather, in the story of that labor, I haven't been able to crystallize that turning point yet. The labor as an experience is over, and I can't re-visit it until I give birth again, which of course will be a different experience, in part because I will understand it in reference to how my story about this first one develops. The story of the labor, in print 'final' form or in how I think about it, is still being formed. I'm still trying to figure out (FIND and SAY) what it means to me, how I will interpret it. It isn't fixed now, and it doesn't have to be when I write the story, but I'm struggling to find a form for all its many parts, and I now know that I'm searching for my 'thesis' or a way to summarize all those different parts into a concise statement that will describe all its complexities. Somehow I have to get outside of this way of writing and thinking, (or do I?) The story needs to match the experience, but the experience and the meaning it holds is constantly evolving as I create a story about it. I want my story to contain its contradictions and celebrate the amazing places it has brought me, even as it honors the sadness and pain involved in the experience itself--which resulted in part as an effect of other stories that led to my expectations for a certain type of experience! Complicated, yes, but pretty simple too. An unmediated experience of birth wasn't possible for me, (is it for anyone?) and I need to honor that aspect of it as central to my experience of it

the baby race
telling the girls
relief...and fear
partner pride
starting to show
Christmas party nonsense
fried chicken
finding a doctor
changing doctors

maternity clothes
the first flutter
my winter coat
the classroom
back acne
the ultrasound
finding a changing table
getting uncomfortable
the diabetes test
crying at the doctor's office
pregnancy theatre
finding a bikini
taking pictures
it's a...

birth plan
birthing ball
sign on door
the bed pan
mom's role
my cd
my body
giving in

birth certificate
being sick
not remembering some details, like first holding her
his hand on cart
organizing the room
showering delicately
asking for a chair
TV lady
favorite baby
tee shirt and pediatrician
magic bed buttons
changing diapers
breastfeeding clinic...being away from free

the story of my baby's birth begins long before the day i spent laboring for her to emerge, long hours of work that birthed only pain and frustration and led to a c-section which brought immediate relief and safety but longterm disappointment and sadness. Her birth begins with our birth as a couple, our dreams of beauty and love and passion and forever, which never took such perfect form as in her, our firstborn. her birth story doesn't end with me on my back, separated from the sight of her perfect face by a curtain. it continues as i sift and shape it, create and recreate it, remember and forget it, tell it and think it and quiet it. somehow the event itself evades me, which is what makes the story not the event itself, but what led up to and followed it. that is the story of her birth, his, and mine.

STORY DRAFT (just basic edited freewrites so far)
I had so many fantasies about how I would tell him we were pregnant. Fantasies that gave me the power of telling, of inviting him in, of sharing or withholding that news until the time was right. Power plays like that all disappear in the moment, because it makes you lose control. When the time came, I felt a strange panic about being the only one who knew--I ran down the hall, pee-stick in hand, shoving it awkwardly into his while studying his face earnestly, carefully, while he looked down. "Oh my God" and we were off, a new world of shock and awe and reality set in against the fantasies, created by them, led by them, but diverging from them already in significant ways. He went to study the stick, opening it and exposing the urine-stained tip. ugh--I reached out quickly to stop him, embarrassed and helpful--not there, it's my pee. So silly considering where that test would bring us.

We told others sooner than we planned. The word spilled from me even as I held my terror close, terror of losing this thing I couldn't yet feel or see or touch. My pregnancy was filled with anticipations of things going horribly wrong--losing the baby, something being wrong with the baby, something happening to me, losing touch with my husband, losing control, changes in me and marriage and the world. Scary stuff, like someone bopping you on the head out of nowhere and you losing vital functions because of it. Anticipating birth is like anticipating the hottest summer day in the middle of a snowstorm--you can't do it with any real knowledge of what the experience will be if it's never happened, and after it's happened, you lose that sort of visceral experiential knowledge--memory has a way of softening and obscuring some edges, heightening others. In fact, anticipating birth is like trying to anticipate a toddler's bumping, chaotic way of striking out around him as he learns to navigate the world--you know there will be great, bubbling joys and discoveries but there is also the potential for deep pools of pain, hurt, trauma. And the thing is, you can't have one without the other. The joy, the pain. Being pregnant, you carry the truth of that with you--your body doesn't just represent that, it feels and is that. Suddenly out of nowhere you are connected to something that has changed you--it carries you, and the weight of the cord that links you to this thing is heavier than worlds, stronger than stars. because if it cuts you loose, or you it, you don't know if you'd survive. and now that you have tasted this fruit of this tree of knowledge, you can't go back. and so you wait, and you grow, and you change. and you fear. and you love.

anticipation of birth is often thought of in fantasy terms, as an escape, as a longing exploration of desires and wishes. But its twin is anticipation of the worst, as a sort of self-protection and rehearsal. I know it won't help me really prepare for bad things should they actually happen. But the myth I tell myself is that they might, so I go on worrying, go on anticipating the bad, right along with the good. The way an infant may learn to cry before she bumps or gets splashed with water, because of a memory--but also an anticipation--of what might come.

what if she disappears in the night, quietly slipping away to dance with fairies, leaving me cold, to discover her body left behind like some shell that got too heavy, too tiresome to carry around?
what if i become paralyzed in the bath and she slowly covers with water, unable to save herself, unable to see the love and shock in my eyes?
what if i drop her, fall down the stairs, have one careless second and slip or don't watch her closely enough?
what if i forget she's asleep in the car and leave her there?
what if i don't love her enough?
what if i love her too much?
what if she doesn't love me back?
what if nothing happens, and i waste tears and worry? what if this fear keeps me from her?
what if i die and leave her motherless?
what if she inherits my depression?
what if she never knows how much i want for her?
what if all her dreams come true?
what happens then?
what happens if, after a sunny day in july, when her dream has flown in like a bird lightly landing on an open window ledge, she's too busy worrying about the clouds in the sky behind him to listen to his song?
what if she's just like me?

My armpit
a warm, soothing, softly flowing shower. body exploration amid a steamy fog. my soft, large breasts with large, expansive areolas around my dark nipples. my growing belly, stretching wide to welcome my new world. my strong back, achingly sore and covered with unsightly rashy bumps. my bushy undergrowth, bustling like a heathery moss thriving in the shade of that full moon. my legs, also covered by a soft, dark down since efforts to groom gave way to others--the efforts to sooth, accept, embrace. my feet, tired but strong, supporting two bodies, eight limbs--a sturdy stand for my spinning globe. my arms, my hands, traveling across my face and neck. my armpit. all other changes, i will come to love. even the rash, i can happily ignore. i feign distaste and disgust for his sake only, for i do not have to see it. (it baffles my doctor, and resists all treatments and scrubs, persisting until the baby comes, then vanishes overnight.) but this armpit. i have developed an unsightly skin tag, like ugly debris on a pristine and sacred ocean. this was unexpected. my body--inhabited by another, accepting and embracing everywhere but here, where one little eruption sends up a petulant, insistent complaint. i sense it will be soon forgotten. but for now, i study it, giving it its due. i mourn the loss of a perfect armpit, virgin territory from a brazen, virgin youth.

he stayed with me
when my daughter came, i didn't see her head, slick with birthing juice, followed by a curved, trembling little body naked and vulnerable to the light, the eyes, the world that waited for her. not my eyes. mine watched his, which watched her--after she was brought outside the curtain that separated her from her mother's view. he stayed with me. i thought nothing of it until later, when someone told me that was unusual. they noted his loyal care of me--it was noteworthy, i guess, that he stayed by my side. but it never occured to me, or to him i think, that he should make a choice. he naturally stood by me, as he always did, and formed the link between us all. i watched him, as he watched her. he touched me, and reached out to her with welcoming love. i listened, and i watched, waited for some glimpse and sound and sign of her. they flashed her quickly to me--no warning or lingering glance allowed, i didn't see enough to take her in. i don't remember much between that and going to the recovery room. when did i get to hold her? when did she first see my face? does she feel sadness at all about the mess i may have made of her birth? does she hold the memory of it? of my not greeting her? of silence and blinding light in the room? where is her mother? i focus on the joy. on the love. on the link between him, her, and me. he stayed with me, and we reached out to her.

onesie freewrite
A beautiful little pink, worn onesie. Packed and repacked in my hospital bag. As other things are taken out, replaced with something else, deemed unnecessary, that gets unfolded, held, touched, fondled, refolded and repacked carefully. it is the smallest of the baby clothes i have, handed down from my baby's cousin, washed and worn and shrunk and soft. it seems to breathe love, care, tiny but worn, familiar. it gives me hope that i can do this. not like the other clothes--new, crisp, too clean, tags intact, threatening, like blank canvases waiting to be imprinted with my mistakes. this one, this feels better. like shared mother-knowledge, a gift from others who have come before, learned, loved. they will be with me, but the onesie is mine now to dress the baby in alone. my baby. i am overdue, and everyone says my baby will be big. i am big, heavy, tired with waiting. the onesie looks small, too small, too pink for an unknown gender. my feminist instincts lose courage--will i want to put a little boy in pink? will others laugh, judge, think i am a bad mother? i pack other pieces, soft greens, blues, yellows. but the pink stays. i know i will love it the most. as i love this baby. the most. more than all others come before, lost before, to other mothers. more than myself. more than him. a love that grows and grows, feeding on itself, tossing aside remnants of old lives. this baby will soon outgrow this onesie. and perhaps my love? maybe it will never fit. i pack it anyway. when she comes, i slide her carefully into it. a perfect fit.

alone, not alone
lying on the hospital bed, on one side, unable to move and having to ask for permission to pee. i wait and hold as long as i can just to savor the treat of moving, getting up and walking the few feet to the bathroom, untethered to monitors, allowed to operate my body. back in bed as quick as you can so we can keep tabs. damn. these threads hanging from me like spiderwebs, clinging to me, controlling me, saving me. keeping me in place. sucking the power from me. the power to birth my baby. actively. instead, i wait. alone, not alone. the worst part. i ask to pee. i've waited too long. they bring out the bed pan. now i am really imprisoned. can't even get up to pee. they all watch me. mother, husband, nurse. anytime you're ready. "it's a lot." yep, it's fine. "it's a whole lot." she's not even listening. they're watching. i can't go. i tell them to look away. i can't believe i ever knew how to pee while lying down. i let loose. the rivers flow. and flow. and flow. i feel wet. the nurse comes running. i've overflowed the pan. i'm uncomfortable, embarrassed, but also a bit smug. told you so. later, they break my water. it comes out, dribbles at first and then a second river. i could swim in these waters. my baby has. follow the water, sweet girl. swim to me so that i can swim to you.

One More
one more. contraction, doctor, nurse, hospital round, intervention, injection, disturbance, one more thing and person to fight. one more time to insist on a choice, some power, a fragment of my birth fantasy. breathe deep, focus in, look in his eyes, concentrate, hum, relax, hold yourself together, let yourself go. hours slip by. no progress. pitocin goes in, tears stream out. monitors beep constantly. doctors tell me again. c-section, c-section, c-section. circling in their minds, a foregone conclusion, spinning their web over me as i weaken. one more crisis. heartrate plunges. one more rush of staff to flip me, tickle her head, check me, break my water on the sly. i cry. one more time. will i have nothing that happens on its own? will no-one trust my body? not even me? she was not ready yet. that is all. leave me alone. but wait. tell me you're close. one more time. that nothing will happen. like it did that other time. use your furrowed brow to send me a clear message, even as you reassure me. i know there are no promises you can make. none you will. you know what i want. i know what you want. one more try. to do it my way. until one more doctor comes on duty. no-nonsense. sending sharp edicts to end my torture. to begin your life. i give in. they cut me open. you are perfect. relief floods in. and yet, i am sorry it took a while for you to see my face. to feel my arms. to be with those you belong to. a fantasy slips away. a new life creeps softly in. and now, i think, one more.

i crave the company of other mothers now, but not just other mothers, other mothers who feel and think and worry and care in the same ways or similar ways that i do. i remember sending c out for pickles and ice-cream and honestly not realizing, until he pointed it out, that it was such a pregnancy cliche, and then i just laughed and laughed and thought how absolutely wonderful it is to live out a cliche and discover its original roots, like coming to a myth backwards by experiencing it firsthand as if it never happened to anyone anywhere before. the connection, of course, between this and my opening sentence, which i've just seen, is that i want to be with others and feel connected and share with them, and i also want to be unique and special, but mostly i want to have support in the form of another mother who nods approvingly at every little new thing i discover and acts terribly excited by my discovery, because that's how i feel. like i've just discovered a new moon or somethng. which i have. because my daughter is a new moon. her curves and smells and kisses that slobber and fingers that scrape and eyes that go on and on remind me of my best view of myself but are also so amazingly separate and new that i want to get lost in all of it. and share it. learning her is self-indulgent, like learning myself. like learning a new language, one that you get to help create. i crave her, and i crave that craving. beause, of course, it's not always there in clear or obvious ways. so when it's gone, i miss it and call it back with all that i do, even if it's resistance. i craved her when i was pregnant and i craved affirmation that she was really there, really going to be, with all the worry that that entailed. my cravings for salt and sweet were like twin sides of worry and anticipation--wanting the perfect birth, baby, being, and fearing the worst--loss, sadness, desperation. that fear can act on you like a craving too, sucking out your energy, becoming your focus, creating itself in weaving, spinning coils of wasted tension.
my mother helped relieve that tension. she was and is that perfect support i described. she is selfless enough, and old enough, to not need anything in return. or perhaps, being my mother, seeing me in the role of mother-discoverer continues her own journey of discovery as my mother. at any rate, i am relishing living in the selfishness of celebrating my child and my cravings for her.

so much of our birth story comes before the birth, in the days and nights of dreaming about the moments of transition, where body and soul and mind stretch to open up to this new life. the birth itself pales in comparison to those dreams. disappointing, full of pain and fear and letdown, but also of relief and reality and tender moments. and what is a perfect birth, but one that meets or surpasses our dreams, our expectations? there is no way to anticipate or expect birth, really. it is not known in the moments it happens, but in the thinking of it, before and after. they took her from me, and she was born. but our togetherness was born, is born, repeatedly and infinitely, in the joys, dreams, and fears that bind us.
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