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  Topic Review (Newest First)
05-01-2010 09:48 AM
bajamergrrl He sat there and blinked. We were in the mall food court because he was working a second job at Macy's and I couldn't wait until he got home so I could share the news. "Is it mine?" He finally asked, half-serious. The cloud I had been floating on dissipated instantly. We had been trying to conceive for the previous three months. We both had Masters degrees and jobs that seemed stable enough so I figured we could safely become a family of three. Then came a weekend out of town for a wedding, a hotel room and a glass of wine (beer for him). I figured nothing would come of it. Four weeks later I realized that my period was five days late. Could it be? The last time my period was late it had been a false alarm. This time a dark plus sign appeared almost immediately in the window of the pregnancy test stick. I had to hold onto the bathroom counter for support. Now I was spilling the news of our success over a shared a plate of teriyaki chicken and rice.

"I have to digest this." He loosened his tie.

"Um, we were trying, remember?" This was not going according to my plan. He was supposed to proudly grinning not looking as though he was developing a nervous twitch.

"I''ll see you when I get home" Then he went back to work, shellshocked.

He later explained that he had been conditioned to panic upon being told he was about to be a father.

We didn't have the dynamic I wanted us to have while I was pregnant. I wanted what the movies said I should have. I wanted to come home to a house filled with flowers. I wanted breakfast in bed. I wanted unsolicited foot and back rubs. What I got instead was his confusion. His confusion about what he should do, or feel. Yes, he rubbed my feet. Yes, he eventually grew to love rubbing my belly once he could feel the baby move. Yes, he massaged my back while I was in labor. But it still felt like he treated this pregnancy, this baby, as abstract. He's a very concrete thinker so I'm sure that abstract feeling was incredibly discomfiting.

"She wants to give birth on the kitchen table."

That's how my husband would tell people that I wanted a homebirth. He was joking but that joke revealed his deep stereotype about homebirth. It conjured birth scenes straight out of Little House on the Prairie, complete with requests for him to go "boil some water." I never laughed at that joke. The majority of our friends are not hip to homebirth. They did not understand why anyone would choose not to birth in a hospital. But I tend to do things differently.

The last time I saw my friend, Nkwa, was at my wedding in 2005. She was the first of my friends to become a mother. I hadn't seen her in quite a few years, in fact, not since, well maybe once in the time I'd left the island where we both grew up. Now she was wearing a pink, frilly number celebrating with me at my wedding. She was her usual goofy self. She jumped into the pictures that were supposed to be "family only" with a big grin and her fingers forming a peace sign. I didn't mind. She was always bold like that.

A few days later she called my hotel room. She talked about her children. She had her oldest son, Kareem, sing for me over the phone. I think he'd won an award for singing either at church or at school. At the time I was a little nervous in talking to her. I hadn't really talked to her since we were teenagers and our lives had gone in very different directions. I'd left the island, gone to college and now had gotten married. She'd had her first child at age 16 and by age 25 had had three more. At the time I wasn't even in the planning stages for children at all. I'd squarely decided that 27 was the age I ought to start and I had two more years. One of the last things she told me before we hung up was that she was proud of me. She felt I'd done things the right way. She meant I'd waited to get married first and also completed my education before even thinking of having kids. I don't remember what I said next. But I remember feeling kind of embarrassed. I'd hoped that she didn't think that I felt I was better than her. We never spoke again after that call.

Two years later my mother called to tell me that Nkwa had died. Some perverse, effed up sequence of events led to her dying in a hospital from some unexpected illness. She was only 27.

I'm weird with grief. I almost never cry at first. It's usually days later when I fully feel the brunt of it and the tears come flowing out. This time it happened at the end of a yoga class. I was sitting in a semi-lotus, releasing, breathing and lifting her into the light. And then it all came out. Rivers of tears. Tears for the memories of our times together. Tears for the regret of not having spent more time together. Tears for what she doesn't get to do anymore -- see her children grow into adulthood.

The first time I saw my son, Ethan, crawl, my heart jumped. I was sitting at my computer desk while he played on the floor next to my chair. Suddenly he was crawling purposefully toward the surge protector under the desk. I knew in that moment my baby was growing up. I was so proud to see how he'd figured out something as complex as crawling all within a few days of just trying really hard. Trying so hard to move around on his own that he would grow frustrated and cry for me as if to say, "Mama, help me." I would but not before letting him try for himself first.

The defeats in life are what scare me about his growing up. He won't only have small, manageable ones but he'll encounter the large, scary, don't-know-how-to-handle-this kind of defeat. I won't always be able to pick him up when he calls out for me. I guess my job as a mother is to not just pick him up when I can, but to help him pick himself up and so he can keep going.
04-29-2010 03:27 PM
bajamergrrl Thanks, Tanya.

- Nicole
04-29-2010 12:23 AM
Tanya Taylor Hi Nicole,Lots of great writing here...I like the idea of you starting =
with your husbands reaction when you found out you were pregnant =
into..she wants to give birth on the kitchen table...into you loss of =
your friend ending with the first time I saw you crawl....see how you =
can put them together and please re-send.All best! Tanya

(your e-mail bounced back to me)
04-28-2010 06:23 PM
allingoodtime Tanya -

Here is the copy of my first draft. It worked out well that my email to you disappeared into your spam folder because today I decided to revamp the first draft and change direction. I feel much more comfortable with this first draft.

Thanks,
Amy

~~~~~~~~


I came across my old workbag the other day. A lovely maroon leather piece with everything still intact from the day I went on maternity leave. . . and never went back. A flood of emotions, memories & sensations came rushing over my body and mind.

So much has changed in the last year. So much of ME has changed in the last year. Occasionally when I see a woman dressed in business garb, I long for that particular rush of purpose, of authority that my past jobs gave me. Before that big birth day, I served as the Assistant Administrator at a retirement center. It was honestly some of the hardest yet also most fulfilling work I’d ever done and ever will do. I was a young lady in her late 20s. In my seniors’ eyes, I should be married with kids. They’d frequently ask, “When are you going to get married?” Then when I was married, their question became, “So, when you are going to have a baby?” More often to save my sanity than as a matter of truth-telling, I’d casually reply with “All in good time, all in good time”. This seemed to satisfy most of them, at least for the time being. For some, they’d forget our exchange and ask me the same thing all over again. . .a few hours later! See what I mean about responding to save my sanity?! Deep down though, every reply was accompanied by my own intense longing to be married and to be a mama. Some days I felt like “all in good time” couldn’t come soon enough! Then it did!

My water broke at a quarter to 5 that morning. Every time Matt made me laugh, more water would gush out. I was only having mild contractions so I decided to take a shower. Afterwards I felt refreshed & ready for the big day.

Matt pumped up the birthing tub at about 8:30 then proceeded to make omelets. As the delicious aroma of breakfast wafted through our home, I thought to myself, “He’s the best!”

We called our midwife, Michele, when my water broke. She had said to try to get some sleep. She called back around 7:30 to check my status & were told to call her as things progressed. I wrote in my journal, “It looks like it’s going to be a sunny day & I can hear birds chirping. Spring is on its way and so is our baby!”

By late morning, not much had changed. Michele gave me the option of waiting it out or taking a special tincture every ½ an hour in an effort to move things along. I was worried that because my water had already broke that if I waited too long without much progression I would run the risk of having to go to the hospital. Already a fan of and maker of herbal remedies I opted for the tincture.

My sister, Ivy, arrived with roast beef sandwiches & the makings for miso soup. Mmm, more food! I was so very hungry that day! After lunch & a couple of rounds with the tincture the three of us (well, really 4!) went into the back alley to walk. I liked the privacy back there. Every time a contraction hit me, I clung to Matt. We swayed together in the cold breeze. Somewhere in the midst of timing contractions Matt either got confused or they some how snuck up on us ‘cause I heard him say, “Uh, oh! Three minutes! We were supposed to call Michele when they got five minutes apart!” We hurried inside & made the call. I was filled with excited anticipation & wonder at the birthing process.

Upon her arrival, Michele began filling the tub. Still in my blue nightgown, I was so relieved to throw it off & climb into the warm water. It felt delightful to be naked & in the warm water. Between contractions, I could find deep relaxation in that pool of water. I found myself even joking with my gang of birth attendants. Matt would reassure me & encourage me, as the experience grew more intense.

Some time had passed in the tub when Michel informed me that my cervix was caught between my pelvic bone & Abe’s head preventing me from becoming fully dilated. Oh, such blinding, excruciating pain when Michele attempted to push it back. I yelled, “Michele, you’re killing me!” She graciously accepted my insult. I’m sure she’d heard worse. She kept asking me to lay back further & tilt my pelvis up but I just could not position myself the way she needed me to be. With much effort & a whole lot of assistance, I moved from the tub to the bed. Lying on the bed, propped up on pillows, my cervix was gently pushed open. I was fully dilated & soon found myself pushing. But that damn pelvic bone raised its ugly head again! Now my baby’s head was stuck up against it. Pushing with all my might didn’t matter ‘cause he just couldn’t get past it. Michele encouraged me to move to the birthing stool. Ah yes, the birthing stool. That’s where I’d anticipated birthing my baby all along. I was certain this would be a good move.

Moving, however, was a challenge, to say the least. The contractions were coming on so fast! I’d attempt to get off the bed & bam! A contraction! I’d take one step towards the stool & bam! Another contraction! It felt like an eternity moving what probably accounted for a mere five feet.
Matt sat behind me, cradling my body. He tried everything to comfort me . . . words of encouragement, relaxation meditation . . . but that stool was awful! I’d attempt to lean forward into the contraction then lean back into him when they passed. I felt that I could neither push adequately nor relax fully. No time to catch my breath and definitely no time to relax. The world was spinning out of control! Michele sensed my despair & seeing that the baby was still stuck behind my pelvic bone said, “Let’s move back to the bed” Oh, my heavens!” I thought. I didn’t know what to think. Hell, I didn’t have time to think! Moving sounded horrible yet staying seemed just as bad. Then I remembered our birth class training & knew I HAD to move!
Back into the bed I went. Immediately I found some relaxation & relief. I clutched both my husband & sister, certain I was going to break one or both of their hands. At Michele’s instruction, someone pushed one of my legs back. Matt? Ivy? Maybe I was holding my leg? I don't know. I just felt like a tangle of legs & arms & intensity. It was time for that baby to come out! Now!

Finally! Our baby was making his way past my pelvic bone because I head from some far off place, “Would you like to touch the baby’s head?” I was in the midst of full on labor - excruciating contractions & extreme doubt that I really knew how the hell to push out a baby when the midwife told me to touch my baby’s head . . . for the first time! “What?! What did she say?!” I thought to myself. “Touch my baby’s head?! Is she out of her mind?!” My body is being rent in two & she wants me to move my hand from it’s tight clench on my husband & reach towards the pain?! She must be crazy!” But I did. And then I REALLY felt the pain! Yes, I felt my baby’s head & it felt oh so strange but not in the way our birth instructor had said it would. The head didn’t feel squooshy or wrinkled. It just felt like pain! By touching our son’s head, it brought me more in touch with the pain I was desperately trying to deny. But I touched him! Then I recoiled from this new awareness that I had no choice but to carry with me through the next contraction.

Originally Matt planned to catch our baby but there was no way he was leaving my side now. When my midwife told me to stop pushing, I was certain I couldn't. She kept repeating, "Don’t push, don't push, breath through the contraction!" My sister fearing something was wrong, got right up in my face & with wild eyes yelled, "Amy, stop pushing!!!" Well, that's what did it! I was crushed between my sister's roaring face & our bed. I was crushed into this small mental space where I suddenly knew how to stop push. The next think I knew, in the blink of eye, our baby had arrived! He's screaming & everyone, including myself, is babbling, "It's a baby! It’s a baby!" Like most laboring women, I'd clearly forgotten why I'd been working so hard all day long!

I rested my head on a pillow & began cooing to our new baby. His umbilical cord was short, so he only reached to just below my breast. I comforted him from that position until it came time to cut his cord. Seventeen minutes after his birth he was voraciously nursing at my breast & I was euphoric! I was holding a baby, my baby! I was holding pure joy! Love incarnate. He was alive! He was beautiful! He was screaming his head off & his giant yells made me simultaneously laugh & cry. “We’ve been waiting to meet you for so long, little one,” I whispered.

What a wild ride! When I stood in the shower a while later, I marveled to myself, “My god! I just birthed a baby! I can do anything!”

For days & weeks & months afterwards, every time I’d touch his small head, I’d feel the mystery of that moment all over again. I was transported back to that first time I touched our dear Abraham’s head. That moment when I was caught between two worlds – the world of being a pregnant woman & the world of motherhood. Every time I felt the crown of his head it felt so sacred in my hand. Some days I’d place my hand on his head multiple times. I could close my eyes & be transported back to that life-altering moment when our son began his entry into this world.

I remembered those first weeks at the end of March when my dear baby Abe was so brand new. I remembered venturing out with him for the first time. . .when I tried out my new job title - “professional mom”. I was in the new Missoula Safeway on Broadway when I realized this was my new identity, my new job, a new daily existence and purpose! Oh, how it struck me! I was simultaneously filled with wonder and a giant dose of fear. I can mostly laugh about it now!

All in good time. . . It HAS been a good time. It's been a phenomenally good time! And not to mention challenging and frustrating and sometimes just downright disheartening. I now am married. I now have a child. Right now I’ll try to enjoy the present. . .those baby than toddler milestones that come and go so quickly, those fleeting but tender moments when my husband & I feel like more than just two ships passing in the night . But always, never without fail, more dreams and plans and prayers emerge that still warrant the reply, “All in good time, all in good time”.
04-28-2010 06:21 AM
MittensKittens My journey into motherhood was an unconventional one, much like the rest of my life. It was a journey that started with the search for a donor, because parenting was something I wanted to do by myself. Halfway into the journey that would end with birth, I boarded a plane, with a one-way ticket, to a new life and a new country. I was 20 weeks pregnant with my daughter, and we were in this adventure together.

Becoming a single mother by choice, or a choice mom (I prefer this “title”, as it takes the emphasis out of “single”, which is hardly my defining characteristic!) was not Plan B for me. It was not something I spent many agonizing hours thinking about after I failed to find a husband – since early childhood, I knew that I would love to have children one day, but that husband everyone talked about, I never did see him in the picture. I did do the whole relationship thing for a while, while I was studying. I have great memories of those years, and even of the man I spent them with. But I was not happy like that and, in the end, I returned to my original plan.

Finding a donor, and thinking about methods of insemination, was a necessary stop on this journey. It is not something I ever felt weird about. I am grateful every day that my donor helped make my children possible, and that he played an important role in their conception, but no more.

It’s something I learned from my mother, that DIY attitude. Moving on and pretending I didn’t just go through some rough years also came from her. Growing up, the stiff upper lip was all she modeled. “Your father did have some good things about him, and I have some lovely memories too,” I remember she told me, over and over again, because, presumably, she had read that saying such things to your kids was healthy, somewhere in some book.

Whenever I went deeper, and really probed, whenever I asked what those good memories were, then... ...She admitted there were none. She remembered the time she had to reanimate my father and his best friend after an overdose. She remembered how he used to hit her, and how she used to walk around with black eyes. She remembered how her father, my grandfather, called her for the first time in six months and how she was having the greatest trouble trying to make conversation and sound normal while high on magic mushrooms. Oh, and of course, she remembered opening the door to two police officers while holding me in her arms, a six-month-old baby. She knew immediately what they came for, before they even said a word. My father was dead.

It was a life she talked about often; the life they lead before my father died, and before I was born. Drugs, overdoses, domestic violence and poverty. Before I was born she had told my father, “OK, we’ll do it - the whole baby thing, but we are moving back to my country, and I will never, ever come back here.” She talked about the horrors they lived through so often, probably to keep me from walking the same path. I was fascinated by the stories in a disgusted way, and terrified of the realities of life in my Fatherland. Those stories that I listened to so often growing up were filed away in my mind, and stayed safely on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Me, I grew up in a different country, in my Motherland.

My mother must have told these stories to me from a very, very young age, because she told me later on how I enjoyed shocking kids in the playground at four by saying, “My father is DEAD! He died from DRUGS!” when they asked me why I did not have a daddy. I am very certain that these stories played a very important part in me wanting to fight for social justice, likewise from a very young age. When I first joined a political party, I was 16. I frequently caused trouble in school when I went to inform the director that: “I would not be in tomorrow, because I will be participating in a demonstration” or a party meeting, or a conference of some kind, or volunteering. I wanted to change the world.

Journalism appealed to me because it would give me instant power. Power to reveal the truth. Power to uncover the injustice that was going on all around, and power to make people stop and think. Perhaps, people would be more active if they knew the truth. Party activities fed my need for activism while I studied to become a journalist. Covering local court cases for the local newspaper never did give me any satisfaction though I, like many other young reporters, did do that for a while. I was frustrated by the lack of recognition from older and more experienced colleagues, and by being on the receiving end of ridicule for my party activities. I wanted more, and by nature I gravitated to everything that was extreme, everything that was radical, and most of all, everything that was inaccessible.

After spending a few years in developing countries and political pariah states, full of interesting stories and full of danger, I felt more disconnected from the country I grew up in than ever before. I felt the need to be somewhere else, more than ever before. The feeling of not belonging was one that had been with me as long as I can remember. I decided to travel around some more, spending money and enjoying the things that I had missed in the developing world - primarily freedom of movement and shops. Somewhere along the line I ended up working in Eastern Europe for a while, and I found a country I liked. I felt physically and spiritually pulled in that direction, and I felt at home.

A job I could do from anywhere in the world with an internet connection and my laptop found its way to me – a stable, at-home writing job that would enable me to stay at home with my baby while still providing, if I chose a low cost-of-living country. “Fresh Start Country” was the obvious choice for me. I had people who could help me settle in, and it met all my criteria. More than anything rational, it just felt right to be there.

When the final stretch of my journey into motherhood began, and the destination was in sight, I had a hard time believing this was really it. The contractions kept coming, possessing my body before flowing out of me again. They were five minutes apart. I know this, because I phoned my own mother to time them. She was at work, on the other side of the globe, calling me from her cell phone while I was laboring on the toilet. “Here’s another one, mom. Did you write that down?” It was an unusual and expensive, yet so real way to connect with my own mother.

When the contractions were three minutes apart, it was time to call the midwife - these were her instructions. She was the only homebirth midwife in this foreign country, and I was so lucky to have found her at 34 weeks. My midwife seemed like a kind and honest person, though I felt a clear distance from her. We did not speak each other’s languages, but on that day the ancient language of birth is all we needed, I thought.

The midwife arrived to find me 5cm dilated - the baby would be here soon, she said. I sat on my bed, quietly experiencing the contractions that were slowly growing stronger. What an interesting experience. Is this it then? I don’t know what the big deal is, but it really doesn’t hurt all that much. The streets were melting because of the hot weather, yet here I was strangely cold, shivering even. The midwife had mentioned that we could walk around the park in early labor, when we first met up. That sounded great to me when she proposed it, but now I just wanted to be in my bedroom, listening to my body, my baby and simply experiencing. People called to check how I was doing. I switched my phone off. This moment is one for me and my daughter, and the only person with the privilege of looking in is my midwife.

As the contractions changed shape suddenly, I realized that this must be where I push. My waters broke. “Olivia, jel’ ti sad pukao vodenjak?” What? What is she saying? “Voda, voda?” “Yes, my water broke!” I tell my midwife, assuming this is what she wanted to know. She checks my cervix, and tells me I am complete. The sensations I was having told me so already, and I was pushing.

The unbearable urge to reach down to feel my baby overcame me. I needed some extra motivation to finish this final bit. I reached down to feel a squishy skull, ready to be born. I looked down to see a tiny pair of scissors getting ready to cut. “No, don’t cut!” I yelled at my midwife. “Don’t cut!’ After a few more attempts, she finally gave up. I felt my daughter crown, and vomited. I pushed again, and vomited again. My urge to vomit was hindering my ability to push with each contraction, as my midwife was instructing. It was only a short 10 minutes since the urge to push overcame me, yet my midwife was already saying something about going to hospital. I recall her threatening me that I was putting my baby’s life in danger by not pushing her out NOW. I pushed harder, and trying will all my might not to puke. Finally, she slid out. I was naked, hot and not wearing my glasses, when I saw my baby for the very first time.

She was a white shape with and umbilical cord still leading to me. I looked at her face and saw my mother. This vernix-covered fresh, totally fresh, human being had something truly angelic about her. Looking into her deep blue eyes, I was humbled. I put her to my breast, and she nursed. This little squished creature with blonde hair, who was looking at me as she nursed, she was my daughter. I was a mother. My midwife took off soon after the birth, saying she had to go and bath another client’s baby. Thus, we were left alone. I put my daughter in her crib next to my bed, but she kept on looking at me. This little newborn, at a few hours old, was stretching her little hands towards me, through the edges of the crib. It is like she was trying to say, “I don’t want to be alone”. So I lift her up into my bed, folded my hands around her, and we fell asleep, together.

Unassisted Childbirth, giving birth without the assistance of birth professionals, was something that had appealed to me when I was expecting my daughter. It was the internet that gave me the knowledge that I wasn’t the only person who longed to birth in peace, away from everyone and everything, and I spent a long time reading Laura Shanley’s website before deciding that I needed to have a midwife at my first birth. I had no experience with newborns, and was not confident in my ability to handle the birth by myself. Never having been in labor before, I didn’t know what to expect. My second birth was different. I knew I could do it this time, and was much more informed about everything labor and birth related.

I didn’t really want another birth like the last one. My midwife was the only homebirth midwife in the whole country, and I didn’t like many of the things she did. I didn’t want an episiotomy pushed on me, and I certainly didn’t want to be yelled at again. I didn’t want to ask to cut the umbilical cord only to hear “Oh, I’ve done that!” and I didn’t want to ask where the placenta was and hear “Oh, that’s in the trash”.

I did make an appointment to see her again, and we talked for a while, about vegetarian food, yoga, and about how she now makes all her laboring women walk through most of their labors, because that is a great thing to do. Great if you want to walk through labor, yes, but shouldn’t that be my decision? I had already started researching UC and asked the midwife what her opinions were about the safety of birthing alone. “Oh, that isn’t terrible. I thought of doing that but I didn’t want to lose my hospital job so I decided against it.” By the end of that meeting, I was convinced I wanted to UC.

The next six months were spent preparing for my birth, researching all possible complications, and learning what the best way was to handle those. I also gained a lot of knowledge about the practices of the local labor and delivery hospitals. Laboring women are shaved and given an anema, and are not allowed to have anyone except their husband present at their birth for support – and that is only if they pay for it. Pitocin is given routinely to every laboring woman, either as a means of induction or to speed up labor. Every woman gets an episiotomy, and forceps and vacuum deliveries are still common. Laboring women are routinely shouted at and humiliated. If something happens to the baby, local OBs will yell at the mother that it is her fault. I was appalled. With every story I read, and every woman I talked to, I was more shocked. Oh wait, did I mention there is no such thing as informed consent of refusal here? And it is not uncommon for mothers not to see their babies, who are whisked off to the nursery, for days on end after the birth, after which the nurses bring the baby to be breastfed for 15 minutes every four hours. No thank you, was my conclusion.

If I opted to go to the hospital, my baby and I would have a rough and unpleasant birth at best, and a whole host of complications caused by medical malpractice at worst.

Instead, my second birth was an extremely spiritual and peaceful experience. Because I had to rely on myself exclusively, I felt every sensation, and was aware of the process every step of the way. I did ask myself whether I was doing the right thing, and if I should go to hospital, or call the midwife, but I knew, in my heart, that this was the best choice, the safest choice. Not just because of the medieval maternity system in Fresh Start Country, and not just because the midwife who attended my first birth did many of the things that they did in hospital too. No, this birth was so much more than an alternative to something unwanted. It was a rebirth for me, as a person, too.

My daughter, still so little, was sleeping next to me, her little body curled up peacefully. As my contractions increased in intensity, I remember crying. I love her so much. I held her tight, and hoped that she would enjoy being a big sister. I hoped she wouldn’t feel neglected, or sad. For a while, I watched TV and finished the article I was working on. I left my sleeping daughter and got in the tub to feel the hot water soothe my laboring body. I prayed. For a smooth birth, for the intuition to tell me if something was wrong. When the water grew cold, I got up, and went back to bed.

My son was born into my own two hands. He came out face up. My daughter was excited to meet her little brother. “Hello, little one. Hello, my little one,” I exclaimed, as I stared into his tiny but bright blue eyes, eyes that stared right into my soul. He was tiny. So much smaller than his sister. So fragile, and so perfect. The placenta came out with ease, very soon after my son did. After I was sure that the umbilical cord had stopped pulsating, I cut it. We bathed together and then got dressed. My daughter picked the clothes my son would wear for the very first time, and we went to bed. My children went to sleep peacefully. I couldn’t possibly let this precious moment go to waste by sleeping, and observed my two beautiful children for hours, just being. I felt at peace, yet energetic. For months, I was on a birth high. I felt euphoric.

Those first months, I remember with so much love. With a feeling of total peace, total harmony. I felt complete, perhaps for the very first time. My little family seemed so very perfect. I felt so very blessed. The country was in the middle of the coldest winter it had seen in decades. We snuggled up close under all the blankets we had. Just us, nobody else to disturb these first perfect moments. Whenever I remember that time, it puts a smile on my face.

Never once did I consider that this patriarchal culture would be one that would judge my family. I didn’t know that every single choice I made would be considered extreme. But it was a familiar song, and I admit that I was always the odd one throughout my childhood, and that unusual life choices always made their way to me. Controversy follows me, or I follow controversy. We go together. Now I know that – and I take the liberty here to generalize enormously – people here don’t like single mothers. People here don’t like homebirthers of any kind, let alone unassisted ones. They don’t like vegetarians, or women who like to do DIY around the house, or those who don’t vaccinate, or those who do anything differently to what their post-communist society dictates.

Now, four years and two kids later, I also know that this is not the right place for my family in the long-run. For my children, I wish a life free of the immense pressure to conform, free of pressure to fit into the mold. For my children, I wish the liberty to find their own paths, discover their own inner-selves, their own ambitions and desires. I don’t want to pre-choose the path that leads to most resistance for my daughter, in whom I already see the stubbornness and persistence, and the determination to follow her own heart that have accompanied me all my life. I want to give my children the gift of allowing them to be who they really are in their deepest fibers, and that is not something that this country can realistically offer them.

We, my family, have always been the International Traveling Circus in a way. The journey does not end here, that is something I know now.
04-28-2010 05:24 AM
scrappyhappymama I was a seasoned mama of two rough and tumble little toddlers. So I’d been through it all before- the months of roiling nausea and aching joints and swollen wrists and uncontrollable manly belches. We learned halfway through that we were expecting our third boy, so even that felt comfortable, familiar. I sorted through the tub of newborn clothing, tickled to be able to use some of my favorites yet again, marveling at teeny socks that barely fit my thumb. I revel in the opportunity to reuse the baby gear, the velvety baby quilts, the stacks of onesies. I was grateful for a few treats- handmade blankets, embroidered and personalized diapers, specially made for the new baby. One harsh novelty, bittersweet and sad, is a pregnancy loss only months before. Fear and dread taint the first few months, but give way to gratefulness and appreciation as things seemed to progress normally this time. As I felt the familiar kicks and heartburn, I was reassured by the sameness and relish the discomfort, at least in my heart if not so much in my demeanor.

Two weeks before my expected due date- something new. My water breaks to start labor, and I was caught unaware, unpacked, unready. I was disoriented by my water breaking and rather than laboring at home as planned, we headed in to the birth center during early labor. Once there however, I settled into a familiar pattern- long, long, long first stage of labor, slow to progress, waiting for baby to turn. Eventually, finally, after a long 30 hours of laboring, I sink into the embrace of a warm tub and push my baby into the world. Like his brother before him, he emerges into water and I sigh, exultant and relieved.

We pulled my son up, out, onto my chest, but the cord is not long enough and he cannot not reach me. My husband cradles our son in his arms, but the babe does not cry, he does not pink up, and we are startled as our new baby goes limp. Our midwife quickly sprang into action, rubbing our newborn and trying to cajole him into crying, into taking his first breath, but he does not respond. She clamps and cuts his cord and severs him from me for the first time. She fills his lungs with a mask and ventilator, she stimulates his body to breathe on his own, while her assistant breathes for him until he does. My husband speaks our son’s name aloud to him and continues speaking to him encouragingly while resuscitation efforts continue. From the tub, I watch this all play out, unable to help, unable to move. My arms and the severed cord floating in the water add to the surreal detachment and numbness I feel. I contemplate losing a child at the very moment of his birth, I shiver, and I pray fervently, trusting and hoping and willing my baby to live.

Years ago, I wasn’t even sure I ever wanted to have kids. We married young, so young. So young that people rudely assumed we were marrying because I was pregnant. But no. We simply met and were gobsmacked, in love, unable to imagine life without each other and so. We spent our 20’s playing, and working and going to school and travelling and wasting money and living for ourselves. It was lovely and we grew up so much during those years. We’d comment often on how no child should have to be raised by a couple of goofs like us. Someday, maybe. I did presume there would be a someday. When we were more settled, more ready, less self centered.

And now, here we are, blessed with four sons. I never imagined myself as a mother of sons, of all sons. In fact as a teen, I would have considered it to be a nightmare, a disaster. I grew up with sisters, four of us, driving my poor outnumbered father to seek refuge in his office to escape the overwhelming femininity and dramatics of a house full of girls. Finally, a baby brother came along. But he was a baby, and sweetly chunky and our precious little pet. He wasn’t a gangly, smelly, annoying teenager boy, at least not while I still lived at home. So boys- the raising of them and the care of them and understanding them as little men- all of that was foreign to me.

I was an awkward, late-blooming little girl. A bit of a tomboy, knobby kneed, legs covered in scratched up bug bites and clumsy bruises. My clothes were clean and well-fitting, but otherwise unremarkable, certainly not fashionable. I had mousy brown hair that was just wavy enough to look perpetually messy. I read incessantly- under the covers with a nightlight after bedtime, the backs of cereal boxes, at my desk at school after breezing through the busywork. I knew all the answers and offered them up too often, long before Hermione made it cool. I found myself a bit too eager to please- laughing at jokes I didn’t get, miming interest in shows I didn’t watch, waiting to be accepted by peers who were not much like me at all. And so, I have always been accustomed to not quite fitting in, never the mainstream, contenting myself with doing as I determined to be best, trying not to care what others thought of me.

As an adult, whenever I considered the idea of having children, I pretty much assumed that I would have an epidural and all the modern bells and whistles, after all- why suffer needlessly? My mom’s stories of giving birth in the pre-epidural era, especially her painful sunny-side-up delivery contrasted with her later, comparatively easy epidural delivery; well, that told me all I needed to know. Augmented by the report of my sister’s first labor: laughing and joking with family while blissfully contracting in epidural-induced comfort. In fact, the idea of a natural birth was so foreign to me, that having waited almost 10 years of marriage to conceive our first, I often joked that I was waiting until they could “beam the baby out.”

Pregnant for the first time, I made an appointment with my very highly regarded OB. I remember jabbering on to my husband about what a great doctor she was and how I looked forward to visiting the hospital and checking out all their high tech gadgetry. Somewhere in that conversation, he dropped the bomb: My husband wanted me to consider natural childbirth! He was very humble about it, not demanding at all, but expressed his concern about what all those drugs might do to his child. He asked me to please do some research on the effects of the epidural or any other common medications used in labor and then decide what approach I wanted to take. I was stunned, but told him I was willing to look into it, after all, I valued making educated decisions and wanted to respect his concerns. But privately, I felt like I would be able to easily find evidence to support the safety and efficacy of medically managed, anesthetized birth- after all, millions of women and thousands of doctors couldn’t be wrong. Right?

I started reading and researching and reading, reading obsessively. I checked out books from the library and spent hours online perusing the various baby-related websites. And quickly, I felt like I had stepped into an alternate universe- one where any and every decision one could make regarding pregnancy and childbearing had passionate supporters on all sides. Before I knew it, I started to question a lot of my preconceived notions about this whole baby growing and delivering business. I had a hard time believing that things could really be as bad as the books portrayed, that birth had become such a business, so far removed from the miracle of life and so focused on the bottom line. I found myself mesmerized by birth stories and wondering how women had managed to bear children for so many millennia without the benefit of all of the current medical technology. Of course, many women and babies died before our current era, so I appreciate the advances made on that level, but still, obviously many others lived, else we their descendants would not be here today. I had to wonder whether, under normal circumstances without any complications or emergencies, all this fuss was necessary? I finally realized that women do this all the time, all over the world! If they could do it, why not me?

I made a list of the questions I should ask my doctor, even then naively believing that the doctor I trusted, who had seen me through a pre-cancerous scare and who had coordinated my care in the years to follow, surely would understand and empathize with my concerns. I thought I’d be congratulated on becoming informed, at finally having something substantial to ask when she wondered if I had any questions. I was now leaning against getting the epidural beginning to question other common practices as well, like having a routine episiotomy, but I thought my list of questions would be easily answered and that I would come away reassured. Unfortunately, from the start, rather than welcoming my questions, my doctor was defensive and patronizing. Her eyes narrowed as I pulled out my list, her demeanor hardened as I asked my first questions. When I mentioned that I was considering the idea of foregoing pain medications, she laughed it off. When I queried the c-section rates for the practice or the hospital, she acted offended at the implication that the procedure was done any more than necessary. Although I was stunned by her attitude, I continued on, and asked whether she did episiotomies routinely or only occasionally. She crisply responded that almost all her first time moms had episiotomies, after all, how else could I expect a “great big eight pound baby to fit through such a small area?” My brave, bold self asked her, “How in the world did first time moms manage to give birth for the last few millennia, prior to the invention of episiotomies only 50 years ago?” My regular, non-confrontational self smiled sweetly, deeply disillusioned, and didn’t even bother with the rest of my questions.

I wasn’t sure where I was going, or how my precious little baby would make his way into the world, but I knew it wasn’t there. That pivotal day, I lost my faith in the myth of medicine, that doctors are infused with a power beyond the rest of us mere mortals, and that we are but to trust in their superior wisdom. Yes, I lost my faith, but that day I gained something greater. I started to believe in myself, in my own power, in my own body, that God had endowed me with an inner wisdom and not just the ability to conceive a child, but to birth one as well. How little I knew that day how far this journey of transformation would take me. At 32 weeks pregnant, I made the switch from one of the "best" OB groups in town to midwives in a birth center, and I never regretted it.

During this first pregnancy, although I was excited to become a mother, and intellectually aware of the changes it would bring to my life, I found was impossible to comprehend the depth of emotion I would feel for my own child. At the time, we had very close friends whose little boy was born about nine months before our first. I would often sit for him and came to love that little guy as if he were my own. We’d even keep him overnight on occasion, to give the new parents a break and to get in a little parenting practice for ourselves. I can still remember shopping at a maternity clothes store when already obviously pregnant, and having our little friend in a stroller with me. The sales clerk eyed the baby, maybe seven months old at the time, and then my burgeoning belly and said, “Wow, I bet your doctor was mad at you!” Although now I feel ashamed to admit it, I remember as I cuddled my friend’s sweet little baby, I loved him so much, and I wondered if I could possibly love my own son as much when he was born.

Seriously, I know I’m not alone in this. Another friend, pregnant at the time with her first, admitted to me that she couldn’t imagine loving her soon-to-be-born baby more than her dogs! Now, I can hardly imagine someone making such a statement, and I would wager that she would adamantly deny ever saying such a thing. But before you actually have a child of your own, I am convinced, you just don’t, just can’t understand the overwhelming love you’ll feel for the tiny, wrinkly little creature.

And then, pregnant with my second son, I found it difficult once again to imagine what adding another child would be like. I remember thinking that there was just probably no possible way I could love my second son as much as my little Elijah. Of course, once I met my wee Samuel, I learned that the heart really does expand and it is possible to love him just as much, without loving the first any less. It’s not something I could really comprehend until it happened to me.

I was eight weeks pregnant for the third time and excited about seeing my baby on ultrasound. We planned to let our three-year-old see and hear the baby on ultrasound and were anticipating telling our family about the new pregnancy once we saw that everything was fine. While my husband waited outside the door with the boys, I laid there and listened to myself churn while the tech silently did her thing. At first I wasn’t concerned- at each ultrasound it seems the tech wants to take a peek first and make sure all is well before turning the screen to show me my babe. But this time, instead of cheerfully pointing out a little peanut baby, the tech asked me, “How far along are you supposed to be?” Alarm bells. Swallow. I told her eight weeks, but that I had only had one cycle, so it could be earlier. In fact, that’s why this ultrasound is scheduled, in order to date the pregnancy. She continues her poking and prodding and pressing painfully on my sides and finally tells me, “I don’t see anything that looks like an 8-week baby in there.” It was as if I were riding “It's a Small World” and unexpectedly sped over the abyss of a roller coaster, struggling to catch my breath and feeling nauseated.

Outside the door, I heard my boys giggling and squealing while my husband played with them and patiently waited to be summoned in to introduce our boys to their new baby sibling. Instead, I dressed and stepped out into the hall. My husband looked at me quizzically, wondering if I forgot to invite him into the room, and I just shook my head and start to cry. Then we’re walking through the maze of hallways to get back to the midwives group and I am thinking that all I wanted was to listen to his heart beat. I felt like I had been sucked into an alternative universe- where everything seemed hazy and slightly off-focus- and that the door to the previous world had slammed shut behind me.

The midwife was compassionate, answering all our questions as best she could. She gently told me that they saw nothing in my uterus, not even an empty gestational sac, definitely nothing to substantiate that I was eight weeks pregnant. The tech had also checked for an ectopic pregnancy (hence the uncomfortable prodding) and saw no evidence of that either. The midwife suggested that perhaps I was not as far along as I thought I was, that if I were only about four or five weeks along perhaps that's why they did not find any evidence of the pregnancy yet. She cancelled my glucose blood test ( I drank the orange goop for nothing!), and had my blood drawn for an hCG level instead. Despite my midwife’s assurances of hope, I took the cancellation of the glucose test as confirmation of her true expectation. I felt like it really was the end of the world as I knew it- a world in which I naively expected a positive pregnancy test to guarantee a new baby in nine months time. Considering how many women have walked this path before, I guess this foggy dream world is actually closer to reality than mine. In my mind, I heard the refrain, “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Lousy).”

Not long afterwards, I dropped out of the playgroup for my toddler. After the miscarriage, I found it too hard to sit around making nice with all the other pregnant women. There. I said it. Of course, there are other reasons- real and good reasons- I decided to drop out, but in the end, that was the clincher. I felt like a jerk, but there are three other moms in the playgroup who are all due within a month or two of when I was supposed to be due. I just didn’t think I could handle being there each week and seeing them progress and hearing their quirky pregnancy stories and maybe even their complaints and not have it feel like a constant, rude reminder of my own loss. They deserved to be happy in their own pregnancies, not feeling like they have to walk on eggshells around me.

OK, that sounds more selfless than I really felt. I just didn’t want to have to pretend to be happy for them. I wanted to really be happy for them, but right then I just needed to be happy from afar, where my grimaces and petty selfishness wouldn’t intrude on their happiness and prove me to be the party-pooper Eeyore, instead of a supportive and excited friend. Plus, only one of the moms even knew I was pregnant and that I had the miscarriage. And honestly, when you are pregnant and especially in the first few months, the last thing you want to hear about are other people’s miscarriages. It’s hard enough when one is pregnant, trying not to stress out about the risks, without having it all in your face like that. So, I would feel bad telling them of my loss, but would feel bad sitting there without them knowing too. It’s a little awkward to bring up the subject, “Well, I had a miscarriage a few weeks ago.” Talk about a conversation killer. I brought it up with a few different friends, but it felt like fishing for sympathy. So I dropped out and hoped that in a few months, I’d be ready to “rejoice with those who rejoice” and not just weep alone.

Shortly after losing the baby, we travelled to Florida to meet up with all my family. Which made this trip a little bittersweet, because we were converging for a joyous occasion: the wedding of my baby brother. (note: “baby” brother getting married = oldest sister getting old). Plus, we were meeting my new little niece for the very first time! I was determined not to be a sourpuss or to ruin the happy occasions for anyone else. I mean, who wants to think about miscarriages and other sad sack stories while celebrating new partnerships and new life? So I put on a happy face and had a great time.

My brother’s wedding was simple and lovely and one of the most beautiful ceremonies I have ever attended. His bride is sweet, and pretty, and kind and exactly the kind of girl I would have hoped for my beloved brother to marry. They made a really striking couple. My new little niece was a vision of loveliness. She had porcelain skin and gorgeous red hair like her mother. She was petite and sweet and a joy to cuddle. She and I took a nap on the couch one day and it was a real treat to enjoy a nuzzling infant again and to breathe her fresh new-baby scent. My sister is a patient mama with a great attitude. When someone questioned how she coped with a colicky infant, especially all on her own with her husband serving in Iraq, she responded, “What else would I do? I wanted to have a baby and she is mine to care for her. I’ll hold her all day if I have to.” My sister is a strong woman and a good mother, and I am proud of her. We prayed everyday that her husband would return home, safely and soon, and finally get to meet his new daughter. It made my petty problems pale in comparison.

Finally we conceived again. And then the worry. Sometimes I wished there were a point where I could say, “Ok. We’ve made it this far. Now I can relax.” To be fair, I really do think it was easier once I heard a heartbeat and I made it out of the first trimester. Even so, the possibility of trouble remained and wondered if I could possibly be fortunate enough to dodge those bullets yet again. Of course, the great cosmic joke is that the even the end of the pregnancy does not end the worries. If anything, the horrors that can be imagined and the dangers that loom become even more terrifying once I have a real life little person depending upon me for their every need. But fortunately, the joys of parenthood and the great, expanding love I feel for this new little person, manage to overwhelm most of those fears. I expected my husband to be a lot more reserved about the pregnancy this time, but he told me that he wants to be happy about this pregnancy and this baby, right from the start, and not let the last experience taint it. I really needed to hear that, and in my mind, it gave me permission to be hopeful as well.

Our little lost baby’s due date came and no one remembered or said anything, but I didn’t really expect it. I’m certain I’ve never considered things like remembering the due date for the women I’ve known who suffered a miscarriage, although I feel that I’ll be more likely to in the future. I grieved for what could have been- that I should have been holding and cuddling a newborn. But for the most part, I wanted to be grateful and enthusiastic about the new baby I was carrying. I wanted to be optimistic and buy little baby outfits if I see one that takes my fancy, and not be worried about the what ifs. I wanted to honor the baby we lost, by appreciating that the baby we look forward to now could not have been otherwise. I wanted to enjoy my pregnancy and look forward to the baby moving and growing and doing it’s best to try to make me feel miserable. I wanted to focus on exercise and eating well and preparing for childbirth, rather than dwelling on pain and sorrow. I even wanted to be happy about being due in May instead of October, because it meant I won’t have to go through the heat of the summer pregnant, and I didn’t want to feel guilty about that. I chose to be happy instead.

And so, after an otherwise uneventful pregnancy, here I was, having just birthed my baby into water, and my baby is not breathing. Incredibly, I felt calm, even peaceful. I was unable to believe that my precious little newborn would not be okay in the end. That I could have come to this point only to lose another baby, in the flesh, in front of my very eyes. I heard my midwife pleading, “Breathe baby, breathe.” My husband soothingly, over and over, “Ezra. Ezra it’s Papa. Wake up baby Ezra. Papa’s here.” Our friend, wide eyed and scared, video taping the entire thing. My abdomen cramping and aching, preparing for the afterbirth, unaware of anything amiss. Praying, praying. The soft click of the pump pushing air into our baby’s lungs. My racing heart, but outward serenity. I later tell our midwife that her calm and professional presence was the only thing that kept me from breaking down, from shattering into panic and grief. And then, a cry! Weak at first and then quickly lusty and loud. Pink skinned and eyes open and breathing, breathing! Amazingly, after five full minutes, our little Ezra begins to breathe on his own. And then we weep, we weep from relief and joy. We are blessed and grateful and our little son nurses and cuddles against me and peers at his brothers, blissfully unaware of the scare he put into us.
And now, here I am at two in the morning; everyone is sleeping and I feel the stillness of the midnight and all is quiet. Well, except for you. Your sharp little cry roused me instantly from deepest sleep and now you are snuffling and grunting impatiently against my breast as I pop open my laptop and prop up the pillow on my lap. Finally I am settled and I raise my shirt and you thrust your face forward eagerly, quickly, like the jabs of a mini prize fighter- once, twice, and swiftly connected. You draw deeply and urgently, and then relax into my arms and I can feel rather than hear your sigh of contentment.

I yawn and stretch a bit, and your eyes pop open and search out my face in the dim light. I see the tiniest of smiles at the edge of your lips and then you turn slightly back toward my chest and dream as you feed. I gaze at the curve of your cheek and the familiar pulsing of your jaw and play with the wisps of hair that curl around your ear. I am tired, achingly tired, but I cannot resent your intense need for me. I know now that this time is shockingly fleeting and that in a flash you’ll be tumbling with your brothers and scraping your elbows and sleeping soundly through the night. You’ll still need me, but not so urgently, so tenderly, so intimately.

You shift and doze and a thin line of milk drools from your mouth onto my pillow. I lift you to my chest and rub your back and feel your body melt heavily into mine. I graze my lips across the top of your downy head and breathe in the smell of you- a hint of lavender, and sweet milk, and even a little sour on your collar. I settle you onto my other breast and your mouth is open and searching, but less urgently this time. You drink with purpose and a little greedily, but yet perfectly at leisure. I smile at your contentment and a wave of exhaustion washes over me, but I revel in it, feeling the spray upon my face and inhaling the salty air, ignoring my sandiness of my eyes.

I type a quick hello to a fellow sister-at-babe-in-arms, members both of us of the same secret society, the same quiet house and precious nursling and heavy eyelids. Suddenly you pop off, satiated, and sleeping soundly, nestled against my arm. I bid my friend a quick goodbye and shut the screen. I gently lie you down and you snuffle a bit and snore softly. I tuck your blanket around your toes, and then I tumble into bed and resume my former slumber.
04-28-2010 02:51 AM
thehappydeer I feel like there are still some pieces missing and a few bumpy transitions, but here's what i have so far



My body has been home to a most wonderful creature, a being so delightful, so filled with sunshine that she carries it with her and shares it with anyone who sees her face. Being pregnant with my daughter felt like coming home to me. I finally had a distinct purpose, and a motivation to feel all the happiness that I could. I've never laughed so much in my life, It was a newly born laugh, a woman's laugh and no longer a girl's, deeper and more rounded of tone, harmonious. I was proud of it, and enjoyed the blessing whenever it arrived. I loved seeing my body change, growing beautiful and round and full as it created life. Since high school I had been drawn to doodle this image of a full breasted round bellied super hero woman with wings. I drew her everywhere, it was kind of like my tag, my calling card. I finally understood why I was so captivated by her, and as my likeness became hers, I came into my super powers too.

I was filled with more patience than usual, on most days. I felt this strong desire to harmonize with my partner, to grow past the tensions we'd accumulated over the last 7 years together. I wanted to speak only gentle words, feel love and share this with the one growing inside my belly. My body was a temple of living cells, multiplying with tremendous intelligence. It was amazing to me that such marvelous work could be done under such a quiet surface. As I lay there resting, reading, or walking, talking, washing dishes, folding laundry, organs were being formed, swiftly, with perfect order and grace and with an endless diligence and directness of purpose. The greatest miracle to me, is the fact that in this span of time, I grew inside of me, a human brain. An organ of such magnitude, that we are only beginning to touch the surface of understanding it’s capabilities, it’s daily functioning so astounding in scope and depth, it's presence so absolutely essential to human experience. And I grew one, from scratch! A hand, a foot, a leg, these are all miracles, but the brain, to me, is the crown jewel, the divine connection to cosmic intelligence, the very thing that may most exemplify and mirror that limitless potential and intelligence that we glimpse when we imagine the grandness of the cosmos or it's creation. Knowing that on some level I am capable of such a feat fills me with awe and I wonder how I could ever dislike my body, how I could ever be anything less than tremendously grateful for it's gifts. The greatest of which, is the lovely little being I am privileged to share my days with now.




The day my baby was born.

It was late autumn, the time that feels like winter is here, but it has not technically arrived. When you can barely imagine the days getting shorter and darker, but you know that they will. We were snuggled into our home at the time, we had done our best to make the cheap place we found to live the kind of space you want to introduce a new life to . For us that meant wildly colorful, celebratory things everywhere. Some people (as my friends have mentioned since we left the house) found the visuals of our decor overwhelming, but I was always comforted by them. I liked seeing every color in the rainbow, and art from all over the world, thrifted, made, found, rescued. In preparing for the arrival of our new baby, we had piled even more into our room. Christmas lights strung up in every direction, my solution for gentle newborn friendly lighting. Towels were stacked on a shelf we'd moved in, the list of birth supplies our midwife gave us carefully attended to and checked off, waiting quietly. The crown jewel of the living room, a beautiful blue birth tub, open and ready for me to crawl into her deep pocket of comfort. I had no idea then that the time for me to be in that tub would never come. There was another thing in store.

What began as an inspired and intimate home birth quickly became something much different. The moment I knew I would be taken on a journey requiring massive courage, was an almost silent one. It was just the look on my midwife's face within moments of her arrival, followed by a speediness of action and an explanation I knew she did not want to give, but managed to delivery gracefully and with tremendous compassion. She knew how much I wanted a home birth, she knew that with every ounce of my being this was the way into the world that I wanted for my daughter, and I knew that she would not rouse me from this devotion without due cause. As she reached into me for the first time during labor, she spoke some of the most defining words of my life, the few words that set my birth into the path of the great unknown, out of my imagined zone of comfort and into a whole other realm. "This isn't a head sweetheart, this is a butt, your daughter is breech." Now I understand that in another time and place, this reality would not have altered the location of my birth, and many many women have birthed breech babies at home over thousands of years, and I honor this reality and in a way I yearn for this. But we don't live in that time or place any more. I knew in a swift moment, that this birth was beyond the limits of my dear midwife, and as much as it pained her heart to tell me, the delivery of this precious baby was now out of her hands. It's amazing the pace at which your heart and mind can change gears, and I could feel the most graceful part of myself taking the helm of all my responses. I had already shifted to this version of myself as the hormones and excitement of labor filled my body. I was on another level. communing with the protective spirits surrounding my home and family, and at this moment, I entrusted myself to them with this huge push forward.





The first time I see my daughter my truest self is way beyond the conditions of my birth. I had just taken a journey that inspired every ounce of bravery that could flow through me, and I had felt more love and gratitude for every thing around me than at any other time in my life, before or since. In 3D terms, when I first looked into her eyes, I was strapped to an operating table, in a room full of latex gloved strangers completely unaware of the heights of spiritual states I existing in, the entire ceiling above me ablaze in unearthly white light. But saying it this way does not begin to do the moment justice. The important thing was that i had transcended all this, i had found my connection to the love that pervades every.thing. that is. That is where I was when I first saw my daughter. Her tiny face so familiar, I felt compelled to tell her everything right away, to explain to her what was happening. My words felt hollow but necessary. " I love you, thank you so much for coming we are so happy you are here. I have to stay here, but I will see you soon, I will be with you as soon as I can be. Your papa will take care of you. Go with him. " My mind wrenched with the thought that I couldn't hold her right then, that the first hour of her life I'd be removed, separate. I had spent the last ten months learning just how important this time was, and now irrevocably it was gone from me. But I had been so brave up to this point, so fearless, I had made the best of every single thing, and I was proud of myself. For once in my life I knew I had done everything I could to be my best self, to be so full of love that I could walk into a room full of strangers about to forcibly pull my surprise breech baby out of my womb and not hate the moment, but love it for what it was about to be. Inevitably, this was where my daughter would be born, and I wanted to fill this room with all the love I could possibly emanate. And so I did. And while this magic lasted, it felt wonderful.


I was witness to the insane amount of chattery conversation that takes place in an operating room. I've always cared about human health and experience, and I had read about this once upon a time, something about patients listening to recordings of postive affirmations assisting in faster recovery time? The compassionate part of my brain, the logical compassionate side is telling me now that this chatter must help these people get through their day, but the noble idealist side says maybe thats no excuse. Thankfully, I was protected by a sheath of love and forgiveness, but still lay witness. I think I even may have found some of it funny, in a black comedy kind of way. Like, how could these people actually be talking about the latest football game while the have my abdominal cavity wide open? Is that really what they want to say into my uterus? the only words ever spoken directly into these precious tissues that just spent the last 10 months growing the beautiful magical child that now sleeps while I write? I am grateful that my spirit was cognizant enough at the time to cast a shield around me, I remember, as they stitched me up, wishing a strong blessing of healing into my womb, I think I may have even called upon the spirits of Vitamin C to protect me. Kooky right? Maybe genius? I think I'll always remember that moment, as clearly as I remember the moment of birth, the cesarean way of birth, when I used the powerful will and intention of my imagination, my energy body, to send as much love as i could muster, to say thank you with all my heart, to the daughter being pulled from my body at that moment. I couldn't physically feel the birth, I could feel the absence of physical feeling, the void, which may be why i was so able to clearly feel the non physical, the emotive, the spiritual, the invisible essence, and to channel all that I could manage into the intention of this shocking way of my daughter entering the world. A moment of divine humor reached me, and I think I had a smile stretched out accross my face, hot tears of joy and loss streaming down my cheeks, behind my ears, tickling the back of my neck. I am having a pain free ecstatic birth, i thought. This was never the way i imagined it happening, but I always believed it was possible. My soul chuckled at the intense irony of it. If the cosmos has a sense of humor, i felt it at this moment. i imagined my pain free ecstatic birth arriving in the wild warm waters of a tropical ocean, with dolphins as midwives, my beautiful daughter swimming up to greet me and her papa, and the clear blue of the sky and the ocean as her guardians, but now this is the form of pain free ecstatic birth i recieved. this modern medicated alien technology birth. This, I think I've been abducted and taken onto a space ship to deliver this baby kind of birth. Is it funny to anyone else but me?
So, I had the invisible experience of my dreams, intertwined with the terrible grief of losing the beautiful gentle wave safety and love I wanted to greet our daughter with. I never wanted her to be handled in a gruff, uncaring manner, to be tossed around without love and compassion. Thankfully, from where I was laying, I could not see what they were doing to her, but I knew enough to imagine. Im glad I don't have the fiber optics of it etched in to my mind. I think it would haunt me endlessly. Even hearing my husband describe it to our friends makes me tear up to this day. I am sorry that he had to take on that burden in his heart. Im sorry that he had to be witness to my splayed open belly, stretched open so wide he thought I'd never be closed up again. He was shaken, for a long time, as much as he was blessed and gifted with the experience, I wish so deeply that it had been better for him too. I had the blessing of my cosmic hormones free flowing, assisting me every step of the way out of our peaceful colorful home and into the hospital, peeling back the every day limits of our percieved reality, and showing me something greater. I felt so humbled and so brave, and so full of love, I wish i could have transferred even half of this to him and to my daughter. I like to think that she was sheilded in some way too...my heart aches to think that she wasn't, that she was ripped wide open and handled with disdain in those first precious moments. I like to imagine that the infinte intelligence of out human physiology has a way of protecting newborns from a possible traumatic birth experience. At the rate our culture is going, if evolution is more than a theory, we had better learn this skill in the womb, and quick, because this is happening on a massive scale.
04-27-2010 10:53 PM
jaejaerae Tanya,

Here are some of my writes below. First the draft and then the free-writes and wisdom writes following. Thank you so much. It's tough for me to be gentle on myself! I look forward to your feedback.

Thank you,
Jeannette


My Body Draft 1

My hip rocks forward and the rest of my body follows. My body slowly wretches over in bed and I come to a resting position. It feels like there is a steel pole from my mid back to the top of my head and my jaw is so tight I’m afraid to try and open my mouth. I can’t even conceive of being pregnant in this state. No one understood, I was alone and I sank deeper in to a black hole. It was me against the world.

“That car is going to stop right?” he said, then lights flashed he grabbed my arm; impact. I remember my arms up around my head and him asking, “are you ok?” “are you ok?” I wasn’t sure.

Headaches began to crowd my days when I was still a teenager. At the time a few Excedrin and a coke did the trick with some lunch and I’d skate through the rest of my day. They came day after day and I started looking for answers. ‘Stress’ people would tell me; not enough rest; you are letting things get to you Jeannette. Meanwhile, my jaw joint was deteriorating to a point of no return while I yet again let people tell me what was going on and let it seep into my skin. I would lose the joint completely in the next several years while people around me told me to just relax.

You just get married and have babies right? I suppose I always thought that too, never thought anything of it. How would my back support the weight of a growing baby inside of me? How would I live off of pain meds? How? How would I pick the baby up? People told me I just would. Who are these people and why do they seem to hold so much stock in my life? Though we were never in a hurry to have a baby, these were questions that always danced around in my head.

I love to move. My body thrives on it. In college I took a few modern dance classes just for fun. The studio was down at the bottom of a very long steadily steep hill and in the frigid cold winters of Ohio it was quite a trek back up to my dorm. One Tuesday evening I’d had a glorious class, wonderful movement that always seemed to unlock something inside me that had been frozen for some time. I felt great and decided to push it up the hill, all those steps before me, but my body was warm and strong. The ice-cold air just slid right off of my skin. Greeting my roommate and dear friend I sat down on the couch we had named Casandra and enjoyed telling her about my class. Upon standing minutes later the right lower side of my back wrenched, in an instant and out of nowhere I fell to the floor without my breath. My breath slowly returning my hand on my back, “I can’t move Liz” and she slowly helped me back to the couch.

Looking back I distinctly remember the ever-present struggle of feeling as if something was surely amiss while continually being told and convincing myself that everything was fine. I’d spend my Saturdays cleaning out my car, checking the oil, grocery shopping and cleaning my apartment. Life went on and so did explaining away the symptoms.

Each year I would have a few more doctors appointments and a few more aches and pains. Starting with the dentist then there was the massage therapist, the dental surgeon, the acupuncturist, the physical therapist, the rolfer, the intuitive, the TMJ specialist in a far away state, the nutritionist, a different dentist, an osteopath, and so on and so on. No one could really tell me just what was going on. It was fibromyalgia, no it was just stress, no it was my heart; no it was just this or just that.

In my mid twenties everything came to a peak. I became dependent upon arthritis medicine in order to get through the day. I became dependent upon my husband to carry me emotionally and he was just as confused as I was. Some days were fine; some days were not. I looked perfectly normal, but inside I was completely falling apart and that made it one of the most destructive experiences of my life.

It was time to consider starting a family and I just knew I couldn’t. When I was called upon to baby-sit my nieces I could not on several occasions. I simply could not lift them up off of the floor, my back would wrench and I would be left in agony. I could not lower them into the crib or get them out of the crib for that matter. How in the world was I ever to have my own?

As painful as the pain itself was my relationship to the outside world was more debilitating. All those years I never had a neat and tidy answer to give anyone as to why I could not get out of bed in the morning, why I could not talk at dinner and why I just couldn’t make it to that party. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to. I had to carry pills in my pocket and worry if food would be served and when and if it would be before my body began to pulsate with pain. I’d be left scurrying for something to put in my stomach so I could take the toxic pills that seemed to stop the throbbing in my face that would nearly blind me. And what about water?...and I really shouldn’t have a beer…and I can’t stand for long periods of time…and I have to sit on a book in a certain way so my hip is elevated…and what about lumbar support and and and….It was an impossible situation to be in and no one understood. How do you explain something that you don’t understand without sounding like you have the same pains everyone else does? How do you do it without crying?

Mom they call me now, I do have that baby. His little outline must be the most beautiful thing in the world. Never ready, that was our motto. We were never ready to settle down; never ready to give up the lifestyle we were living, so we didn’t plan. How do you plan to give something like that up anyway? We put it in the hands of the universe like so many other things and when the universe saw fit that our marriage should crumble to the ground it did so. When the universe saw fit that our marriage should be built back up it was and then there he was, growing like a weed inside of me on a bright blue fall day.

There were times my husband thought I was faking. How was it that I could pick up a suitcase one minute and then ask him to do everything for me the next? No one had really ever said there was anything actually wrong with me. This x-ray showed maybe this or maybe that but we’d have to wait another 6 months and see about this and blah blah blah. I lost my faith in most people, but especially the medical community.

Bottom line- I was alone and I certainly wasn’t going to bring a baby into this cold empty lonely world by myself.

In graduate school studying for my masters in public health I was taking a wonderful elective on women’s health. Squatting in the bookstore choosing from a list of books to read for this particular class they ranged in size from a mere 200 pages to thousands. This huge red book kept eyeing me and jumped off of the shelf into my hands…I set it aside knowing it was just not practical to choose the biggest book to read for school while I was working full time, but I could not deny it and I left with Women’s Bodies Women’s Wisdom by Dr. Christiane Northrup and my life would never be the same.

Devouring the book these words resonated with me in ways that enabled me to transform my body. Now I had already been through all the guided imagery, positive thinking, writing therapy I could stand, but this was different and I’ll just leave it there.

I began to understand why my body was revolting, why it was rebelling and I dug deeper to uncover the issues my body was trying to communicate with me. Speak up for yourself Jeannette, it was saying; open that mouth. Week after week I worked quietly inside my mind, month after month another small change would occur. Day after day moving towards healing on a deeper level than joints and fascia.

Moving out of the pain I left a wake of destruction behind me. They say people who suffer from chronic pain have a difficult time with any one else who doesn’t suffer from pain and that is the truth. No one understood, no one could help, I felt abandoned and alone. On top of it people were mad at me and it was just too much for me to handle.

Life moved on some of my relationships fell completely apart. And somehow some of my professional relationships became personal. How was I was now such good friends with some of my practitioners? It was they would I leaned on and they who understood.

I moved on, what choice did I have? As the years rolled by and the damage unclenched its grasp on me I woke up early because this day I knew I would pee on a stick and it would be positive. I wondered how this baby would change my body and how my body would react to being changed. As the baby slowly grew inside me I felt blessed to have been able to be free of pain medicine and able to move more easily. My TMJ was in an unrecoverable state, but through the wizardry of dental folk they had managed to build me a splint that changed the way my teeth came together, which would enable the bones to stop rubbing together. This certainly alleviated some pain. My back is always in a precarious state, but we know each other well now and know how to ebb and flow with one another.

As a mom now to a little ball of beauty who has graced our lives for 11 months now my body is always in the forefront of our days. This little guy will get the best of me no matter how much more effort I have to put into my days. Yes I have to adjust my hips, bend my knees and think before every time I have to pick him up. The amount of situating and planning I do to enable my body to care for him in a way that seems normal is overwhelming sometimes, but isn’t’ that one of the first descriptors that comes to mind to describe mothering anyway?

At times I think I’m in the clear just left to deal with the damage of years past. When I was pregnant in my last trimester the middle knuckle on my right hand began to ache and swell and became red. I was going to see an acupuncturist in Bali at the time who needled it during my ‘happy baby’ treatments. Well aware that pregnancy was a condition so trying on the body that disorders often followed I imagined maybe it would clear. Maybe the swelling would go down and all would be well again.

I birthed that baby right there in a small room with mosquitoes, geckos and my husband being the best support of my life. That pain lingered in my knuckle as if to remind me where I had come from. With each movement of my left hand there is a weakness, no longer able to grasp. With each key I tap a pain radiates in each of my fingers. Currently a small hole with some bruising in my left arm a blood draw for rheumatoid arthritis. I am 35. As I nursed my baby back to sleep at 4am the other morning I stood to go the bathroom and I wondered when it was that someone had broken both of my feet. In my groggy state this was my thought, how had they been broken? An order for an x-ray lies beside me looking for degenerative arthritis. It was enough of a struggle then, but what about now?

He needs me to open that sippy cup for him, pick him up when he cries. There are so many days left for my body to physically carry this boy. So many days I need to keep my head clear and focused. This physical pain takes more from me mentally than physically. It takes a lot of energy not to lie back down and cry and feel pity. If that surprises you just live a week in the life of someone with chronic pain and ask me no questions ever again.

So I’ll look forward…..Tanya, I’m a bit stuck here.




At 2 o’clock in the morning…

At 2 o’clock in the morning…I put my hand around his upper thigh my other arm encircles the top of his head and I wiggle him down a few inches to meet up with my breast. In the adjustment he has in always impressive precision managed to snatch my nipple before I’m ready to settle in. But it always makes me smile. So many things encircle me in those minutes between sleep, wake, sleep. Anger, frustration, exhaustion, delight, joy, pure love, worry, and the need to touch him, stroke him, kiss the top of his fluffy head all swarm through me in just those few minutes before we both fall back to sleep. All feelings I don’t have time to struggle through during the day. At times I try to dif through the emotions. How sick to be angry? How normal to be exhausted. What a terrible mother to be so frustrated with him. Why does he still wake? And on and on and on….mostly all leading back to the emotions I’ve had over breastfeeding, something so dear to me and primarily so happy that we are still abel to do, but so disappointed and worried about tehs tart and the supply and his weight and his nourishment.

At 2 o’clock in the morning I wish my husband was closer. He’s just a crack in a mattress away but it seems so far. He in his slumber unable to help in the middle of the night we’re like people doing shift work. I want to roll over and snuggle him close, somehow convince him in his sleep that I’m vastly in love with him, that I forgive him for all, that I wish he would forgive me for all. Maybe I could telelpathically convince him just to love me again the way he did before. Could I erase all the ugliness he holds in his head of the deep dark ugly part of me that he has seen too much year after year? Wishing I could go in there and hit an erase button like on an answering machine, but would I even know the code? At 2 o’clock in the morning I wish our naked bodies could entangle like they used to and feel something positive and not….oh I need to stop eating all the chocolate, oh I should really shave more often, oh I wish my back didn’t hurt, oh I wish that that that that,blah blahbalh. Shut up. Yes Ms. Manners it’s an ugly phrase, but I use it. Oh well. At 2 o’clock in the morning I wish we could somehow figure out a way to love ech other in spite of the ugliness that we see in each other. That would could figure out how to talk so that we could work together to create a beautiful unit in which all things create happiness.

Is it even possible for him to truly understand that in the middle of the night I ache for him to understand how manical my brain is that in order to do the things he ask or try to be more the wa I’d like it would be like climbing mt. everest each day? That I do try. Why can’t I get him to believe me?

I guess at 2 o’clock in the morning I thought I was frustrated with my baby waking, but love him oh too much to show it and still snuggle and nurse him and beat myself up for being frustrated, because he’s just a baby. But it seems in the deep depths of the night I’m just sad that my husband doesn’t think the world of me. He doesn’t even think of me. At 2 o’clok in the morning my heart breaks.




I Remember…

I remember lighting incense with intense conviction. Standing in the kitchen I’d pull a long strand out of the crinkly package, hit the lighter, close my eyes and pray for a natural and normal birth. Repeating it at least three times, like a mantra, ‘normal and natural birth-normal and natural birth-normal and natural birth’. Typically wrapped in a sarong looking for geckos and ready to sweep the floor for ants I’d start my day focusing on my normal and natural birth. Day to day this was my practice, I knew that focusing on these words would help convince my mind to trust that my body knew what it was doing and all would be well. This was my mantra in preparation for my birth in the middle of an island in Indonesia far from anything I was used to.

I remember that I had focused so hard and so long on the birth of my baby that the minute he came out I entered another world where the focus was not on him. I shouted, “oh, you’re a boy,” and celebrated with a large meal my new quiet baby lying skin to skin on my chest, me with no after effects, laughing and talking. It was over, I was done, I’d accomplished the normal and natural birth….until weeks later when I’d realized that my energy was turned so outward after the birth that I hadn’t given any of it to him in those few hours afterward where we tousled together on the cot in that tiny room full of ants, mosquitoes and geckos.

He was so quiet, never stirred, never woke to nurse. I was quiet, I up on one elbow peering at him so closely trying to see him in the moonlight, trying to make sure that no mosquitoes had bitten my fresh baby. I waved my hand over him all night swatting away bugs. He was so sleepy, so tired, so… What was he? People tell me that guilt and regret just come along with being a mother. Was he hurt? Did he get enough oxygen? Was his heart dipping during the pushing? Did that mean something? Why was he shocked when he came out? Why did he need oxygen? Why didn’t he crawl to the breast? Why wouldn’t he latch properly? Why did it take almost 4 months for him to nurse properly? What was wrong? Why didn’t I focus in on him after birth? Did this outward energy harm him in some way?

When I share people tell me that he never left me, that he was skin to skin with me the whole night and basically ever since. I know I know. But I never planned for what to do after birth; didn’t have an after-birth plan. I’d focused so so so hard on ensuring that I felt confident and positive about having an uncomplicated birth experience because I was in such a different environment than us Americans are used to that I never once considered what I should do once I was able to hold his sweet self in my arms?

Does every little thing possibly impact our babies in ways we do not know? Maybe, but we do the best we can right? And this will probably never be good enough in our minds. Welcome to motherhood people say, so welcome…welcome. I remember and I know.



The Year 2006

Was the year before my marriage officially fell apart. Our relationship had been tested time and time again and we would fail it time and time again. In 2007 we decided it was time to start our family and we went to counseling. We went for various things and I asked the therapist if we could do some pre-conception counseling…just to make sure that we were where we needed to be to conceive a child. Little did I know that the universe wouldn’t let me conceive a child until my marriage was on solid ground.

I knew everything (I thought) about getting pregnant. This was my field of expertise professionally and my interest personally. Big fan of Toni Weschler’s book Taking Control of Your Fertility and I had been charting my temperature, cervical discharge and everything else for years. I was a late ovulator, I knew it and I was proud I knew it. I’d gotten my Masters in Public Health and specialized in Women’s Health. I was head smart about it all.

My husband looked straight at me and told me that we were fine that we didn’t need pre conception counseling. Was he seeing her then? Had the flirting already begun? Did he have drinks with her the night after we made love in the garden hoping that we would start a new life together? Was he ever really mine and how had we gotten so far gone?

In the year 2006 I would never ever have guessed that my life would take the turn it did the next year. You know how you think there are things the person closest to you in your life would never do? Apparently I’m too trusting and too distrustful all at the same time.

Funny how I remember peering over his shoulder as he checked his work email and without any questions being asked he opened an email from a female and said “see, just work, there is nothing here”. It was awfully defensive for no apparent reason. That stuck with me. Funny too how I remember having a dream where we’re at a party together and I turn around to see my husband making out with another woman and I can do nothing about it. I run to him, pull on him, shake him, beg him to stop. I say to him, “it’s me J, honey, it’s me, please please stop.” And he doesn’t. It’s as if he can’t see or hear me. Funny how I woke up in tears from that dream and I told him about it and asked him if there was somebody else and he said to me, “no, you’re the only one, I love you.” Funny how clearly I remember an intense situation where I said to him, “hey, you’re my best friend of course you can tell me” and he stopped suddenly and with tears in his eyes, he said “really?” I remember that clearly. Even funnier how I remember getting in to an argument on our anniversary and watching him pace around the fire pit in the backyard, way more upset than normal after an argument and wondering what in the hell was wrong with him.

I wish he would have given me a chance. I wish that it had never happened. But I also wish that I wouldn’t have beaten him into the ground for so many years, broken his ego, never loved him, never listened, emotionally and sometimes physically abused him. I wish that I wouldn’t have thought that I was always right and called him names, told him he was a loser. I wish that I would have supported him, loved him, built him up and not torn him down. I wish a lot of things. But what’s the use now. There is only tomorrow.


My Body


My body is magical. My body is falling apart. At 17 I started having headaches that where always just explained away by someone; it must be allergies, lack of sleep, more caffeine, and on and on. At 19 my back went out and by the time I was 23 I began experiencing chronic pain. Through the years there were doctors upon doctors, physical therapy, acupuncture, massage therapy, rolfing, arthritis medicine, dentists, mouth pieces, etc. I look back and think how I basically toured the world of medicine, both conventional and alternative.

The years from 25 to 29 were pretty damn bad. I had just gotten married and neither of us expected any of this to explode nor did we know what to do about it. It was cruel timing on the universe’s part. But I know why it all happened and am better off now for having gone through it. But I’m scarred.

Having just made yet another appointment for a doc tomorrow because my hands seem to now be in constant pain all of the ‘shit’ and damage of years gone by are coming back to me. I’m 35 now and feel so proud to have come through the pain on my own essentially. My marriage barely squeaked by through all of that and continually suffered after the worst was over because we struggled through the depths of it.

I had always been interested in supplemental medicine, herbs, movement, yoga, etc. but I was forced into a journey that enabled me to become an expert. I found Dr. Christiane Northrup on this journey. The days I spent reading Women’s Body Women’s Wisdom were the mot enlightening of my life; I’d never read anything that resonated with me so much. I began reading every book in the back of that book and found this line of thinking to be my new life. I changed my mindset, learned about the power of my mind and healed my body. By this point my jaw joint had deteriorated beyond repair, my back permanently damaged. I was certainly injured and in pain but I was able to move forward and not backward through it all. No longer did I need to take arthritis medicine and be dependent on painkillers and therapies.

For years now I’ve just been maintaining myself and now I’m terrified all over again. I know I can handle it, but I just don’t want to. I have this baby now and he needs me. He needs me to pick him up without wincing and open his sippy cup without crying. I don’t want to creek out of bed and be faced wit the decision to stop nursing because I have to take meds. Sometimes I’d rather not go to the doctor and find out what’s new because maybe I can just ignore it and it will go away. All the positive thinking in the world won’t tame certain ailments. It’s just my lot.

Can’t I just cry and say ‘I don’t wanna’ ‘I don’t want this’ ‘Come on, I’ve already been tested, let up already’? Well I probably will and then I’ll get up, wipe away the tears and just carry on like we all do.

I need to be able to write and I’m afraid of this pain creeping through my fingers.




Breaking Up

He simply never called back and I never spoke to him again. What? My friends would shout in astonishment. Yeah, he just never called back and we never spoke again. And no he didn’t get kidnapped or killed, he just bowed out and I knew it.

We had been together for about 10 years and were just stuck on each other. That magnetism that you don’t experience very often. I don’t even know looking back if it was a healthy relationship or not. We just couldn’t part. From the moment we met we were just stuck together, couldn’t stop it. We talked on the phone every day for 10 years. He really was my other half. He always wanted to talk to me and I always wanted to talk to him. When we lived apart we emailed every chance we could. Every time he was out of class he’d email me and vice versa. I don’t think I ever went to the computer lab and not find an email from him. I never came home and didn’t have a message. This was long before I had a cell phone. We were addicted to each other. We visited each other every chance we could and just absolutely adored each other. We fought, yes, but it didn’t seem to matter, nothing really ruptured the bond that we had. There were other people from time to time in our 10 years. We broke up all the time, but everyone knew, including us that we would get back together. And then one day we just didn’t.

We were at that point where we were about to move to one another and get engaged. We talked about it all of the time. Months before he had planned to move to where I was so that we could start a life together in the same town. We had lots of plans, but none of them included not being in each other’s lives.

He decided to hike the Continental Divide trail and off he went. I sent packages to his stops and he called every chance he could. He wrote me the sweetest letters and I went to visit him on the trail. We’d lie together in that tent and just never want to let go. We giggled and held hands and felt so comfortable together; we were each other. We shared the same reserved affection, never really expressing ourselves in ways most do. We were so much alike it was strange. They stopped in Colorado for the winter and I went out to visit and something in me knew before I even got there that things were different. He was different. He was no longer planning on moving to me and he was a bit vacant. He didn’t try that hard to get off of work and just avoided conversations. He was elsewhere.

On valentine’s day he called and said, ‘I was just sitting here in this coffee shop and figured I should call my girlfriend on valentine’s day’ he just wasn’t the same. And for the first time in over ten years I didn’t talk to him on my birthday. After that talking every day became every 3 and then a week went by and I was just dismayed. He called me and said “what happened to us?’ and I said, “I don’t know.” I should have said more, but I knew he was already gone and I was done wanting him to stay.

We had a deep conversation one night and he said, ‘ well I’ve got a lot to think about’ I’ll call you tomorrow and I said ok I love you. He said I love you too. And then I never spoke to him again.



The divorce

I had never been so close to a divorce before my friend Sue’s husband left her. We met at work and became fast friends. It was so nice to have such a good friend I got to see and talk to day to day. I was so used to having friends who lived far away and I could never connect with anyone locally. Sue and I hit it off and it was such a nice supportive friendship. She called me and told me her husband just left and I didn’t think much of it, because I knew he’d come back. Surely he’d come back.

He didn’t come back and I was with her and she begged and pleaded and they went back and forth. She mourned and lost weight and got sick and just suffered. It was painful to watch and I became ever increasingly aware that sometimes relationships just fall apart. Months later my own marriage was rocked and she was there for me and we suffered together. We hung out constantly.

Then one day he came back. She had spent months preoccupying herself. She started dating people, lots of people. She went looking for validation that she was loveable. I don’t know that she’ll ever really feel that way again. She dated guy after guy as if she was in a contest even though this wasn’t her style. She let go of her principles for a while and just lived and she deserved it. But he came back and wanted her back and I could tell she was already past it, but she struggled and analyzed and went to therapy.

And then she told him no. I was wrapped up in my own downfall that I didn’t go with her that night she told him no. Another friend went. Then she started dating my brother in law. Her eating disorder now completely out of hand. The only thing she felt she could control was her weight and so she did. She’d run 10 miles at a clip on a salad.

She was in my office the day that he texted her and said that the divorce was final. She cupped her hand over the phone then to her mouth and said ‘it’s over’ we stood up and hugged. She was officially divorced. It was the most intense several months of my life and thank god I had her through it and she had me.

Less than a year later she remarried. I was living in Indonesia. We had drifted apart a bit, no longer needing each other so intensely. We had lunch the other day and she told me about their arguments and I just wish we could lean on each other the way we used to.


The last time…

The last time I hold my baby with his little arm dangling behind me to my breast will be a moment I don’t want to meet. The last time hasn’t even happened yet and I already mourn the day we don’t meet to nourish each other in this way anymore. People always ask me how long I’m going to breastfeed and tell me how awesome it’s going to be when I stop, but I couldn’t disagree more. Sure, it would be great to go away for the night or the weekend or even out and not have to worry about when and how he’ll be fed. Of course it would be a burden lifted in some respect. Yes I know it would feel good for my husband to be able to shoulder more of the responsibility, but it’s not enough. It’s not enough for me not to have these moments with this little guy. The funny way he has grunted and groaned in the past at the breast. The way he opens and closes his hand in a way that he’s trying to ‘rub’ me but doesn’t quite have the coordination yet. The way his hand loves me by going up and down my back as he nurses. The way his little nose scrunches up as he opens his mouth to get a bite. The way he would look up at me just before he bit me to see what I would do. Such freedom lies in not nursing your baby; but I’ve got one more to go and more years of being ultimately bound to my children and yes this is what I’ve chosen. It’s very me. Never the easy way out. Always the hardest way around, but the way I always believe with every cell in my body that is the most beneficial.

I do now understand the concept that sometimes what might be the healthiest in one way can be unhealthy in another. If something like breastfeeding causes you such great sadness or negative energy each time than the benefit of the milk and the bonding may not override the power of those emotions that babies are so keenly able to detect. Bad news for us moms, those babies know don’t they? They expose all of the things we’d like to not be there and when they mimic our behaviors in public then we’re busted right? No, we were busted long before when they see so clearly those things about us we’d like to not embody.

The last time I nursed him was this morning as he wriggled next to me seemingly unable to fall back to sleep on his own. Suffering from his first cold how could I try to make him do otherwise right now as he’s uncomfortable. I am his comfort. Did those nurses think me weird for whipping out a boob as they pricked and pumped his finger? Probably. But the days of me really caring what other people think over what I think is better for my baby are gone.

The last time I felt ashamed of the way by boobs looked or hung was long before I started breastfeeding. And right now it seems like a relief. I thought I’d be so bashful, so private about nursing, but I just made it a part of the normal scenery, because I believe it should be. I didn’t leave the table or go to another room, still don’t unless he can’t focus. The last time I felt badly about my boobs was before they helped life grow.

The last time my boobs felt like a sexual entity was before I had my baby. It’s so clear now that they aren’t a fixation for someone else, never were meant to be.

The last time I was able to write like this was many many months ago in a pool in Indonesia where my huge baby bump became buoyant and able to bounce in the water. I’d write about my feelings, about looking forward to having the baby, my feelings of just waiting, the adventure of the day. Always in the moment I’m feeling things that when looked back upon seem like I was living in a box; a box around my head where the emotions just bounced from each of the 6 walls onto my brain and back.



The wedding

I woke up that morning with absolute peace and calm. My mom always wanting to bear the bad news had told me late the night before that they were calling for rain. This morning none of that phased me. Everyone tipy-toed around me that morning as if I would be so anxious that I would shatter if spoken to. Yes I planned an outside wedding and didn’t really have a back up plan, I didn’t care, I just believed that it would work out.

I felt serene, I felt calm, I felt beautiful. I was so excited. I put on my lucky shirt, one I’d had since I was in the eighth grade and everything was in place. This is how I wanted my hair and I didn’t care that the hair stylist and everyone else kept telling me I needed more. No, this is me. I didn’t care that my toes and nails weren’t painted with color. I did my own make up in the bathroom next to my friend who told me she was impressed with my calmness.

I slipped into my gorgeous dress with all of my friends and family gathered around and giggled and laughed with delight. I had planned out everything and everything was great, going off without a hitch. I put my arm in my dad’s and we began the ascent that I had carefully planned so that I wouldn’t be too nervous. My dad started to tell me a joke and I threw my head back and laughed with abandon. It made me love my dad so much.

We grabbed hands and I remember stopping and closing my eyes and saying, take it in, remember this moment. This is it. What a great day. We danced and ate and had so much fun. We left in a boat. We got to the hotel and the skies opened up. It rained so hard, but only after everything was over.

The day of my wedding I could never have imagined that there would be days where I would feel hatred towards my husband that I would want to hit him.


The moment I knew

He would be my husband was very solid. There was no doubt, no wonder, no question; it was a very peaceful feeling. Our relationship took very little work in the beginning. That is what set it apart from other relationships; it was easy. It was fun, passionate, uplifting, exciting and easy. There was no constant questioning, wondering if I should say this or ask that…I was just myself and I liked that self. I didn’t feel insecure. He made me feel so comfortable as if I could say anything, look like anything, do anything and it would all be just fine. I didn’t have to work at a single thing.

I knew when I was barely a young child that there was something different about me. When everyone was laughing and giggling and posing silly for the camera I became anxious and had to gather myself, straighten my hair, adjust my clothes and pose with my arms by my side. It was nearly impossible for me to cut loose, have fun and just be. I can and have, but some moments overwhelm that ability and cause me to come crashing to the ground. The moment I knew I was different I was mad. I’m mad that it’s harder for me to be happy. I’m angry that it’s more difficult for me to smile and relax. I don’t want to be me with all this crap. This baggage that seems to be hard wired into my brain. I’ve always been jealous of those who seem to just live with reckless abandon, not having a care about how this is going to get done or where they will go next. I’m always stuck figuring out the next step. And if I could just live in the present, trust me I would. I find my brain impossible to live with and I’m mad.

My every day seems more difficult than the rest. I have what I need; I have more than the rest in terms of education, and blah blah. But just to wake up happy. Just to be able to live for more than a few hours without the constant babble of lists, anxieties, frustrations, incessant chatter, doubt and on and on would be something I cannot even imagine.

It’s torture to watch my husband live in a constant state of relaxation. There doesn’t seem to be a worry in his head, a thought of what’s next, and a need for things to get done. He’s not selfish, but rather seems to just think of what he’d like to do and does it. It is an absolutely maddening combination, the two of us. I know there is a way to be together that’s not so tense, but we haven’t unlocked that one just yet.

I know a lot. But I cannot figure out how to be different, how to make it better, how to not be me.


What do I do about being me?

I’m 35 and I’ve recently discovered the depth and severity of my OCD and anxiety disorder. I used to think it was kind of funny and I used to think it was totally controllable. Not so controllable anymore and if I ever really admitted outloud what really went on in my head people would think I was certifiable. Really. For years and years I’ve been in therapy and I’m not wondering why I didn’t talk more about this. I suppose it’s because I thought it was controllable and not so big a deal.

I just thought I was annoyed because my husband was messy. Partly so, but it’s much deeper than that.

Amazing what 4 months of living with your parents will show you.

When I was just a kid I had to compulsively spell every road sign and billboard I saw whiz by. I mean spell the damn thing in my head and if not this almost tick of tongue rolling would commence and it would drive me mad. So many death thoughts spin through my head on a daily basis it’s like living inside a war movie. Is it normal to have to gun down your family in your head to deal with the thought of anything happening to anyone of them? Nope. When the kids came along that was a much tougher task, but easier to me than the thought of something realistically happening to anyone of them.

And to someone without these disorders this sounds like you should call the police, but to someone who knows what it’s like it’s almost funny and light because you don’t actually internalize these thoughts or feelings. They are there and have to be done to allow you to feel safe. Backwards right?

If you don’t chew this oreo cookie equally on both sides of your teeth your grandmother will die? If I don’t roll my tongue over my teeth in such a way my dog will die? OK, then I’ll do it. I’ll do it. I’ll do it. I’ll do it.

My husband thinks it’s funny that I type with my fingers in the air when people are talking and that I have to even hit the enter key and then spell out enter. E-N-T-E-R. There is no stopping to the cycle. For years I thought it was all funny too. And then I realized that this has caused a lot of pain. This is hurting me, it is hurting my husband, it has contributed to the crushing in my marriage, it can hurt my son.

I once believed that my mind had the power to control these things and if I just tried harder. Medicine would be a failure and therapy was good, yes, but not always realistic at the level it’s needed.

In order to control this myself I would have to expend most of my energy in a day controlling it. I would be completely unable to care for my child or myself. And I’m nursing. So where do I go? I’m to have another child I hope. And would like to nurse that child for a while too. I need medicine though. At what point do you stop or hold off on something? Where is the balance? Inside my brain is a dark ugly place. A place few people have ever understood, including me.








On Apr 25, 2010, at 11:27 PM, Tanya Taylor Rubinstein wrote:

Hey Jeanette,
Can you please do me a favor and put all these freewrites into the body of one e-mail? It will be easier for me to go through...then please re-send! Please also ease up on yourself....gentleness is in order! And from what I've looked at so far, you have several wonderful pieces of writing....All best,
Tanya
On Apr 24, 2010, at 8:52 AM, Jeannette Sebes McDonald wrote:

Tanya,

I've attached several of my free writes because I'm feeling a bit lost. I don't exactly know how to piece them together as one. My draft does not piece them together, but rather expounds on 1 of my free writes: My Body. I didn't post some of them....for some reason I was holding back and I'm not really sure why and now I feel I've missed an opportunity. My draft is attached in a separate location, entitled "writing.into.motherhood.my.body.draft.1"<writing. into.motherhood.my.body.draft.1.doc>

Right now the draft doesn't feel very comfortable to me, I'm not very happy with it, but that seems to be my MO. I have more free writes and wisdom writes, but I thought this would be overwhelming enough. Thank you so much for your help and this opportunity.

Sincerely,
Jeannette
04-27-2010 10:24 PM
JulAmber sending as PM
04-27-2010 09:35 PM
readermaid In 1982 I was the age my daughter is now. My family was three then as it still is--only the three has shifted from my parents and me to my husband, our toddler, and myself. I'm not sure where we lived in '82. It could have been Wyoming or Kentucky. Possibly Indiana. We moved a lot back then. We didn't have much. We never did.

Perhaps my mother was looking for stability when she found religion. As my she tells it, once my brother was born and I was old enough to start asking questions, she felt she had to decide what she was going to teach us. She always said this with such pride and satisfaction. I'm sure she never imagined that neither of her children would choose her very particular brand of faith as adults.

If it was stability she wanted, she likely found it. We moved several more times before settling down, and we always found our local congregation first thing. It was our community, and it was everywhere we went. My favorite childhood memories are of religious conventions, religious volunteer work, and Bible study. I was raised the sort of Christian that even other Christians don't accept as Christian. We knocked on your door on Saturday mornings to save your soul, and I really believed it. I believed it for years. I might still believe it if it hadn't been for the birth of our daughter that caused first my husband and then me to question what we would be teaching her.

Occasionally I will daydream about my own childhood, and I wonder about the ways that it will be different from my daughter's. I sat in the library during school holiday celebrations, but my daughter will be joining in with her classmates. Children were expected to sit quietly in the auditorium at our church growing up, but my daughter went to the playroom at the UU service we attended for Earth Day. I have no memory of the holidays my family celebrated when I was very young. A few pictures exist, but I was too young to remember. My daughter will have no memory of when we didn't celebrate. As far as she will remember, her parents will always have been what we are now.

My mother had no answers and latched on to the first answers she found. But for me, it was different. I was raised with answers that I never questioned. Not until my daughter. It started when my husband would read from a book of children's Bible stories to my baby bump. He skipped around for stories he was comfortable reading, but I didn't worry too much. We chose the stories of Jesus' life and teachings, and that was fine until the day he told me he no longer believed. He couldn't just ignore the stories he had been skipping. It wouldn't be long before our new baby would be old enough to ask about those stories. What would we say to her then?

I stood firm in my faith until there was nothing left for me to hold onto. I remember when I first started doubting. The first time I acknowledged that I no longer believed. My ten month old baby slept on my lap, and all I could think was What will I teach my daughter now? My hands are empty. I have nothing to offer but the knowledge that this faith I held is no longer true. All I can tell her is what isn’t. And that scares me. There were too many things I didn't know. What would we tell my family? Would we celebrate holidays? Would we be disfellowshipped? Would we be shunned? I couldn't think about those questions. They were too big, too scary.

Now I am exploring ideas that I haven't had the freedom to explore since I was a child. Previously off-limits activities like yoga and meditation are now more and more regular aspects of my life. I've been reading about Buddhism, visiting a UU church, and even voting in local elections.

It is beautiful and lonely. I miss my mom. I miss my community. Sometimes I even miss having answers.

Mostly, though, I am very happy with who we are: a little secular family, kinda crunchy, kinda artsy, kinda rock and roll. It's wonderful. We have built up a small (growing) group of friends in the nearly two years we have been out. We are happy and comfortable in our new direction. It's only occasionally that I get nostalgic for the good parts of what I had that I no longer have access to now that we have been shunned.

The day my baby was born began with a search. It was early, and I wasn't in labor yet. I was strangely calm as my husband frantically ran around the house looking for the camera. We couldn't leave for the hospital to be induced without the camera we had specifically purchased because we were having a baby. My mother, who couldn't stand to be late for even the most routine of events, was silently freaking out. You could see it in her eyes if you looked closely. To her credit, she didn't say a word.

I watched it all happen. Not in a daze really. More like meditative. The moment was not good or bad. It simply was. I didn't know about mindfulness back then. Just over two years ago... It sometimes feels like a lifetime has passed since then.

There was so much that I didn't know. That morning I didn't know that the camera was packed in my hospital bag. I'd forgotten I'd put it there weeks ago. I didn't know that in four months I was going to be laid off from the job that I loved, that enabled my husband to stay home with our daughter. I didn't know that in nine months, my husband would tell me he no longer believed in God. I didn't know the pain of a spiritually split partnership as I clung to my God and my beliefs. I didn't know that I would eventually join him in disbelief. I didn't know that we would again be searching. This time we would be searching for answers to replace what no longer fit and for community to replace the one that would have nothing to do with nonbelievers. I didn't know anything that morning. The only thing I knew was that moment. It was neither good nor bad. It simply was. I didn't yet know about mindfulness, but it was what got me through the day.

When I first held my daughter that day, I knew I had found what I was looking for. I knew that I had found the reason to keep asking and seeking. She was so small, but she looked at us like she knew. She just knew. Now, at two, she still looks at us with those knowing eyes, and I know that I can't let her down. I have to live according to my values. We have found so many things in which we can believe. And so many things for which we are still searching.


Maybe the search never quite ends. There is always something new to ask and seek. Maybe that's what we will teach our daughter. We will teach her to question, to search, and to accept each moment as it is. For it is beautiful.
04-27-2010 09:27 PM
Tanya Taylor Hi Jul Amber,

I never got your monologue via e-mail. It may have gotten stuck in my spam guard. I just read it and I will have feedback for you...Please send me your e-mail address here (on the forum) and I will e-mail back suggested changes to you.

All best,
Tanya
04-27-2010 09:07 PM
Tanya Taylor yes...I agree...just one special thing that differentiates each of the
births will be important to your family in the long run....Best,
Tanya
04-27-2010 09:00 PM
jaejaerae My hip rocks forward and the rest of my body follows. My body slowly wretches over in bed and I come to a resting position. It feels like there is a steel pole from my mid back to the top of my head and my jaw is so tight I’m afraid to try and open my mouth. I can’t even conceive of being pregnant in this state. No one understood, I was alone and I sank deeper in to a black hole. It was me against the world.

“That car is going to stop right?” he said, then lights flashed he grabbed my arm; impact. I remember my arms up around my head and him asking, “are you ok?” “are you ok?” I wasn’t sure.

Headaches began to crowd my days when I was still a teenager. At the time a few Excedrin and a coke did the trick with some lunch and I’d skate through the rest of my day. They came day after day and I started looking for answers. ‘Stress’ people would tell me; not enough rest; you are letting things get to you Jeannette. Meanwhile, my jaw joint was deteriorating to a point of no return while I yet again let people tell me what was going on and let it seep into my skin. I would lose the joint completely in the next several years while people around me told me to just relax.

You just get married and have babies right? I suppose I always thought that too, never thought anything of it. How would my back support the weight of a growing baby inside of me? How would I live off of pain meds? How? How would I pick the baby up? People told me I just would. Who are these people and why do they seem to hold so much stock in my life? Though we were never in a hurry to have a baby, these were questions that always danced around in my head.

I love to move. My body thrives on it. In college I took a few modern dance classes just for fun. The studio was down at the bottom of a very long steadily steep hill and in the frigid cold winters of Ohio it was quite a trek back up to my dorm. One Tuesday evening I’d had a glorious class, wonderful movement that always seemed to unlock something inside me that had been frozen for some time. I felt great and decided to push it up the hill, all those steps before me, but my body was warm and strong. The ice-cold air just slid right off of my skin. Greeting my roommate and dear friend I sat down on the couch we had named Casandra and enjoyed telling her about my class. Upon standing minutes later the right lower side of my back wrenched, in an instant and out of nowhere I fell to the floor without my breath. My breath slowly returning my hand on my back, “I can’t move Liz” and she slowly helped me back to the couch.

Looking back I distinctly remember the ever-present struggle of feeling as if something was surely amiss while continually being told and convincing myself that everything was fine. I’d spend my Saturdays cleaning out my car, checking the oil, grocery shopping and cleaning my apartment. Life went on and so did explaining away the symptoms.

Each year I would have a few more doctors appointments and a few more aches and pains. Starting with the dentist then there was the massage therapist, the dental surgeon, the acupuncturist, the physical therapist, the rolfer, the intuitive, the TMJ specialist in a far away state, the nutritionist, a different dentist, an osteopath, and so on and so on. No one could really tell me just what was going on. It was fibromyalgia, no it was just stress, no it was my heart; no it was just this or just that.

In my mid twenties everything came to a peak. I became dependent upon arthritis medicine in order to get through the day. I became dependent upon my husband to carry me emotionally and he was just as confused as I was. Some days were fine; some days were not. I looked perfectly normal, but inside I was completely falling apart and that made it one of the most destructive experiences of my life.

It was time to consider starting a family and I just knew I couldn’t. When I was called upon to baby-sit my nieces I could not on several occasions. I simply could not lift them up off of the floor, my back would wrench and I would be left in agony. I could not lower them into the crib or get them out of the crib for that matter. How in the world was I ever to have my own?

As painful as the pain itself was my relationship to the outside world was more debilitating. All those years I never had a neat and tidy answer to give anyone as to why I could not get out of bed in the morning, why I could not talk at dinner and why I just couldn’t make it to that party. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to. I had to carry pills in my pocket and worry if food would be served and when and if it would be before my body began to pulsate with pain. I’d be left scurrying for something to put in my stomach so I could take the toxic pills that seemed to stop the throbbing in my face that would nearly blind me. And what about water?...and I really shouldn’t have a beer…and I can’t stand for long periods of time…and I have to sit on a book in a certain way so my hip is elevated…and what about lumbar support and and and….It was an impossible situation to be in and no one understood. How do you explain something that you don’t understand without sounding like you have the same pains everyone else does? How do you do it without crying?

Mom they call me now, I do have that baby. His little outline must be the most beautiful thing in the world. Never ready, that was our motto. We were never ready to settle down; never ready to give up the lifestyle we were living, so we didn’t plan. How do you plan to give something like that up anyway? We put it in the hands of the universe like so many other things and when the universe saw fit that our marriage should crumble to the ground it did so. When the universe saw fit that our marriage should be built back up it was and then there he was, growing like a weed inside of me on a bright blue fall day.

There were times my husband thought I was faking. How was it that I could pick up a suitcase one minute and then ask him to do everything for me the next? No one had really ever said there was anything actually wrong with me. This x-ray showed maybe this or maybe that but we’d have to wait another 6 months and see about this and blah blah blah. I lost my faith in most people, but especially the medical community.

Bottom line- I was alone and I certainly wasn’t going to bring a baby into this cold empty lonely world by myself.

In graduate school studying for my masters in public health I was taking a wonderful elective on women’s health. Squatting in the bookstore choosing from a list of books to read for this particular class they ranged in size from a mere 200 pages to thousands. This huge red book kept eyeing me and jumped off of the shelf into my hands…I set it aside knowing it was just not practical to choose the biggest book to read for school while I was working full time, but I could not deny it and I left with Women’s Bodies Women’s Wisdom by Dr. Christiane Northrup and my life would never be the same.

Devouring the book these words resonated with me in ways that enabled me to transform my body. Now I had already been through all the guided imagery, positive thinking, writing therapy I could stand, but this was different and I’ll just leave it there.

I began to understand why my body was revolting, why it was rebelling and I dug deeper to uncover the issues my body was trying to communicate with me. Speak up for yourself Jeannette, it was saying; open that mouth. Week after week I worked quietly inside my mind, month after month another small change would occur. Day after day moving towards healing on a deeper level than joints and fascia.

Moving out of the pain I left a wake of destruction behind me. They say people who suffer from chronic pain have a difficult time with any one else who doesn’t suffer from pain and that is the truth. No one understood, no one could help, I felt abandoned and alone. On top of it people were mad at me and it was just too much for me to handle.

Life moved on some of my relationships fell completely apart. And somehow some of my professional relationships became personal. How was I was now such good friends with some of my practitioners? It was they would I leaned on and they who understood.

I moved on, what choice did I have? As the years rolled by and the damage unclenched its grasp on me I woke up early because this day I knew I would pee on a stick and it would be positive. I wondered how this baby would change my body and how my body would react to being changed. As the baby slowly grew inside me I felt blessed to have been able to be free of pain medicine and able to move more easily. My TMJ was in an unrecoverable state, but through the wizardry of dental folk they had managed to build me a splint that changed the way my teeth came together, which would enable the bones to stop rubbing together. This certainly alleviated some pain. My back is always in a precarious state, but we know each other well now and know how to ebb and flow with one another.

As a mom now to a little ball of beauty who has graced our lives for 11 months now my body is always in the forefront of our days. This little guy will get the best of me no matter how much more effort I have to put into my days. Yes I have to adjust my hips, bend my knees and think before every time I have to pick him up. The amount of situating and planning I do to enable my body to care for him in a way that seems normal is overwhelming sometimes, but isn’t’ that one of the first descriptors that comes to mind to describe mothering anyway?

At times I think I’m in the clear just left to deal with the damage of years past. When I was pregnant in my last trimester the middle knuckle on my right hand began to ache and swell and became red. I was going to see an acupuncturist in Bali at the time who needled it during my ‘happy baby’ treatments. Well aware that pregnancy was a condition so trying on the body that disorders often followed I imagined maybe it would clear. Maybe the swelling would go down and all would be well again.

I birthed that baby right there in a small room with mosquitoes, geckos and my husband being the best support of my life. That pain lingered in my knuckle as if to remind me where I had come from. With each movement of my left hand there is a weakness, no longer able to grasp. With each key I tap a pain radiates in each of my fingers. Currently a small hole with some bruising in my left arm a blood draw for rheumatoid arthritis. I am 35. As I nursed my baby back to sleep at 4am the other morning I stood to go the bathroom and I wondered when it was that someone had broken both of my feet. In my groggy state this was my thought, how had they been broken? An order for an x-ray lies beside me looking for degenerative arthritis. It was enough of a struggle then, but what about now?

He needs me to open that sippy cup for him, pick him up when he cries. There are so many days left for my body to physically carry this boy. So many days I need to keep my head clear and focused. This physical pain takes more from me mentally than physically. It takes a lot of energy not to lie back down and cry and feel pity. If that surprises you just live a week in the life of someone with chronic pain and ask me no questions ever again.

So I’ll look forward…..Tanya, I’m a bit stuck here.
04-27-2010 12:04 PM
Rigama I was planning on calling in tonight.

Does anyone know when the stories will be posted? Just for Mother's Day?
04-27-2010 09:28 AM
madskye I emailed mine to the address in the beginning of the thread and heard back over the weekend. Is there a call tonight? Worst case, you will probably be able to resolve tonight.
04-26-2010 11:34 PM
JulAmber Did everyone else hear back about their draft? I haven't hear anything.
04-26-2010 10:06 AM
JulAmber Tanya, do you need me to send mine again?
04-26-2010 12:19 AM
Tanya Taylor Cachet...

Your e-mail bounced this back to me...

Here are my notes:
Hi Krista....

Lot's of great writing...I would definitely cut what I most need to say, =
because in your specific stories you actually show all of this!

I'd move the order around, beginning with Rob (which you end with...then =
move chronologically through all you've been through...childhood stories =
(1982)the abortion, 1st birth, second birth and end with pole =
dancing....) Let's take a look in that order then fine tune. After you =
make the changes, please send again. You are very welcome! It is my =
honor to mid-wife your stories...Love, Tanya
04-25-2010 11:44 PM
Tanya Taylor Hey All...

I am sending back your drafts tonight.....XO, Tanya
04-25-2010 11:40 PM
JulAmber I sent my draft on Friday but haven't heard from Tanya. Has anyone heard back?
04-24-2010 05:28 AM
MittensKittens
Quote:
Originally Posted by almadianna View Post
ok i wont lie. i am lost....
Me too.
04-23-2010 10:01 PM
almadianna ok i wont lie. i am lost....
04-23-2010 01:21 PM
JulAmber The first time I saw her face I didn't believe it. Maybe I still don't in a way. She swam up to us and I turned around, looked at her father, my husband, in disbelief. She's real, she's here, she is the most beautiful human being I've ever seen and I can't believe she's mine.

Through the years I had told myself that I really would never have a child. Even all through my second pregnancy, even after we had passed through the time our first child had died in my womb and we were in unchartered territory, I still wouldn't, couldn't believe this day would come. And I guess, in that raw moment, my first emotion was shock, disbelief, even in spite of all the facts and evidence to the contrary.

The moment I knew my first baby was dead was almost not real, but also very real. The Dr. who performed the ultrasound wouldn't tell me and that made me angry. He knew but he wouldn't tell us. What he did tell us was he hoped everything would be okay. How he thought anything could be okay I will never understand.

In the car, that's how we found out for certain, with my midwife on the phone. We were parked right in front of the building, where anyone coming out the double doors could see us. We cried and cried and grabbed onto each other feeling the grief full on. Then the numbness set in, the reality, the phone calls that had to be made that were too painful for me to make. I couldn't say it outloud to anyone yet, couldn't admit it. I had my husband do it. He broke down on the phone. Was it mean to make him do it?

My baby, the baby that was still inside me, no longer had a tiny beating heart. It was still.

I cried every night for weeks, clinging to my husband, his arms always around me. We stayed at my parent's, the place we drove to after the ultrasound, needing to drive somewhere but unable to go home. I couldn't go home yet. The last time I was there, as far as I knew I was having a baby. The books, the stretch mark cream, all those reminders laying around, would torture me. There was no way I could face them. My husband kindly removed the evidence before I went back home.

Then there was the waiting. When would my dead baby leave my body? The midwife couldn't tell me. After 6 hours of the most horrible pain I had ever experienced, like a vice grip around my uterus squeezing and so little time between each squeeze, 6 hours of unrelenting pain and still nothing. I remember feeling so, I can't even describe it, like I wanted to come out of my body, telling me husband to make it stop, make it stop, make it stop. We were up all night. I got about an hours sleep when the alarm went off. My mind said "need to go to work" and so I did. It seems insane now but I needed something that made sense because my world was falling apart. They graciously sent me home though with a week's worth of bereavement pay. I'll never forget that kindness.

The next night I had more contractions but still no resolution. I was scared. I knew that I needed to go back to work, be part of the world again instead of living in this limbo. So I decided something I deeply regret now. I went to see a Dr.

The Dr. called me irresponsible, said I needed a D&C, that awful surgery where they rip your baby from you and the last thing I wanted. He refused to call my contractions what they were, just cramps he insisted. He proclaimed there was no way I could handle a natural or medically induced miscarriage because I cried when he roughly examined me, sore from the 2 days of labor.

I cried and cried after leaving that horrible man. I wanted to die rather than have them rip my baby from me. The very though of it sickened me. But I was so scared and felt so low and incompetent, completely demoralized that I went along with it.

It was a horrible experience but I got through it and thought at least that my life could start again, the healing begin but I was so very wrong. I ended up needing 2 surgeries. The miscarriage went on for 2 months. It was a living hell. But God provided us with a beautiful miracle in between the 2 surgeries. My baby, my teeny tiny, not even as big as a penny baby, did come out naturally and we saw him, got to bury him. I still don't know how this happened but what a rainbow! What a merciful and loving God to give me the desires of my heart in this raging storm. The worst part of the surgery, the part I abhorred hadn't even occurred. My baby was whole, intact and, maybe not in the normal way, but I did "give birth" to this baby.

That year, the year 2006 was one of the worst of my life but it was what I had to get through to get to the birth of my baby girl, 3 years later.

I loved her immediately. I was in a swirl, a fog as she was laid on my chest, as I cradled her tiny, vernix-covered body. This little girl was very real and had been wanted for so long, even before I knew it myself.

She came out screaming which was unexpected but makes perfect sense now. I always heard water babies were calm. Calm has never described my daughter. She came on her due date, right in the beautiful sunny morning hours that spring. I had labored all night without even realizing it. It felt like time stood still.

Labor was smooth, steady, quiet, peaceful. Warm water, dim lights, soothing voices, calming hands. It was the aftermath that was unpleasant. The bath water was red, too red, our hour together, felt too short and not private like it was supposed to be. Something was wrong. There were needles. Why where there needles? Why weren't we alone?

I remember telling my husband I wasn't done yet. I knew I had to be stitched up but I didn't really have any idea how true that statement was. One moment one of the midwives and my husband are lifting me up to walk to the exam room. The next I am back in bed, no idea where I am. Is that Josh (my husband)? Why is his face so close? I asked him where I was. I start to remember. I had a baby. I'm at the birth center. I see the midwives' faces. I see Josh's. Deep concern. Something's wrong but I don't understand what. I hear them say they need to transfer me to the hospital. I tell Josh I'm scared. I still don't understand. I don't know what the concerned looks are for. I later am told that I had passed out and had a seizure when they tried to move me but to this day I have no memory of that.

My Dr. arrived to stitch me up but instead puts an IV in. They put an oxygen mask on my face. They told me at some point that my in-laws have my baby. Josh didn't leave my side. We rode in the ambulance to the hospital.

I didn't get to hold her much. I wasn't with her and this still kills me. The ambulance ride was strange, not part of the plan. But there was too much blood loss. In the end I needed 2 blood transfusions. An overnight hospital stay and not holding her almost her entire first day of life was beyond horrible to me, an unexpected and unprepared for reality.

It took me awhile to bond, to nurse correctly since I didn't hold her most of the day. If only I could do that part over again, I would have insisted that I hold her. There was no reason I shouldn't have.

The nurses kept telling me it was normal for her to only latch onto the nipple causing me to scream out in pain. I knew it wasn't. By the time the lactation consultant got to me the next day my nipples were bloody, raw. She used the words "nipple trauma".

It was rough at the beginning, the breastfeeding but I am so glad I preserved. She would cry and I knew she was hungry in those early days but I dreaded the pain. I dreaded the struggle of trying to teach her to latch correctly. I would just cry and wish I could just not feed her for just a little while longer but I knew that wasn't an option. Thank God for my mother, Jack Newman and La Leche League. They got me to the place I am today. Nursing my baby is one of the joys of my life and I would be in anguish if told I couldn't do this again with my next.

Night nursing is especially precious to me. I will never be ashamed that we still co-sleep at 13 months or be afraid to admit I like it that way.

When she wakes and she wants to nurse, I nurse her. I hear her swallowing. I feel her little hands. I have always loved the inside of her hands, her little palms. I remember when she was in her newborn days and they were always clenched in tiny fists. I would have to pry them open to clean them and would find lint right in the middle of them. I always wondered how it got there since they were always closed so tight.

I love having her so close at night. Sometimes I just gaze at her sleeping, try to soak it all in. I know soon she'll be across the hall, ready to sleep on her own. But she needs me now, wants me now. I know so quickly she'll not be my baby anymore. Already she's toddling around, terrorizing my house. But at night, she is still. She is quiet, although she occassionally has a sweet, low snore. She likes to have a little of her own space but she still enjoys turning around after nursing and snuggling next to me.

The little bit of lost sleep is worth this, the slight "disruption" definitely worth it. I always thought by now I'd want her in her own room but instead I find myself dreading that inevitability. I treasure this precious gift God has given me.

Sometimes I have a hard time remembering before her. This makes me miss my baby in heaven, buried beneath the Kwanzaan cherry tree, the baby that her daddy makes sure to tell her about every night. I remember that I should have a 3 year old this spring, too but that wasn't to be. That baby will always be asleep.

When I was pregnant with my first baby, we were so happy. Only 2 months of trying and we had that glorious positive test result! Then the cramping and spotting. At 8 weeks and a 1 day we had an ultrasound. My midwife said it was probably nothing. The date was September 11, 2006, a Monday. Much to our relief we saw a tiny beating heart.

Four more weeks passed. At 12 weeks there was more spotting, cramping. I went and saw my cousin's newborn at her house. I remember the cramping being more intense that night and commenting on it but feeling that everything must be fine. I called the midwife, feeling badly that I was bugging her for nothing. She told me to take a warm bath and some calcium, let her know if that stopped the cramps. It didn't. Another ultrasound was scheduled. I looked forward to seeing how our baby had grown, blissfully unaware that he hadn't. When the scan showed our baby was measuring only 2 days bigger than last time at 8 weeks, 3 days (when it should have been measuring 12 weeks, 4 days), I knew. I knew he was gone. There was no fluttery heartbeat this time, no indication of life.

Maybe losing a child that you never got to meet makes you more attached to the one you do or maybe this is how I would feel even without the miscarriage. I will never know. I do know that I want my lost baby but there's no bringing him back, that another baby can never replace the one you lost. I know I love my baby girl with all my being and don't care if that means I'm more "mother" now than anything else. I won't apologize for not wanting to leave her, that I'm "losing" myself to motherhood. On the contrary, it is with motherhood that I have found myself.

If you would have asked me in my teen years if I thought I'd have children, I might have said no. In fact, while I was engaged to my husband I told him it was very possible I would never want children and not to marry me if this was going to be a problem. His response? "You'll change your mind." I guess he knew me better.

I was just not maternal in any way. I never saw a baby and had a desire to hold it, much less to proclaim it's cuteness. I didn't like they way they smelled (but have since learned it is the smell of formula and disposable diapers that I really don't like, not the baby.)

I was also terrified of childbirth. I once said, "Why can't they just knock me out and take out the baby?" How I got from there to here took many years but started with the pill. I always knew I didn't want to take the pill but was never really sure that I had an alternative. I remember thinking that there had to be a natural way to prevent pregnancy but all I had ever heard of was the rhythm method and I knew that didn't work. So I starting taking that awful pill in the month's before my marriage. That only lasted a couple months into my marriage. It changed my personality among other unpleasant side effects so I called someone I mistakenly thought could help me, my gynecologist. She was less than helpful, though. She said I was already on the lowest dose possible and my only option was condoms but "You'll get pregnant if you do that." We decided to go that route even with her less than enthusiastic recommendation.

I stumbled upon some information about the Fertility Awareness Method and finally found what in my heart I knew existed all along. I found a group of women online who used this method and formed friendships I still have to this day. It was through these women I discovered a different approach and attitude towards birth.

They led me to Henci Goer's "A Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth" and my life was changed forever. It was the catalyst I needed to finally make the decision that my birth would not be the conventional hospital experience that most American women experience. My birth would be just that, MY birth.

And it was. I'm so glad we didn't go the conventional route even if I did end up in a hospital because I know I would have ended up with a c-section otherwise. I wouldn't have been able to labor, much less birth, in the water. Since my water broke at 4:15am, I would have been put on the time clock and been administered pitocin because at the 12 hour mark, I still was not in active labor, wasn't even having contractions consistently. I would have been strapped to a bed, unable to move about freely, the one thing that might actually get labor going on its own. This would lead to eventually being labeled as "failure to progress" and told that my labor could go on for days and surely I didn't want that. (Really this is more of a case of "failure to wait" on the Dr's part.) I would have been assured that it would be best for me and baby to just have a c-section. So, I may still have ended up in the hospital but you tell me what is better...an unplanned blood transfusion and overnight stay or an unplanned major surgery with a 3-4 day stay?

Through all of this the one person that supported me unconditionally was my mother. She never wavered. She has stood by all my "different" decisions, my always going against convention.

She watched my baby being born, helped her be born along with my husband. She made chicken and rice soup for me and brought it to me when the contractions started getting stronger in the beginning, strong enough I got into her bathtub, that she disinfected herself per the midwife's instructions, to ease them.

After my baby was born, she helped me so much. She helped me with breastfeeding when I was at rock bottom on Day 3. She rocked my colicky, screaming daughter countless times in those first 3 months. I don't recall her ever getting frustrated with her either like I did in 5 seconds.

My mother loves me. This I will always know. And this brings me full circle. When describing my love for my daughter, my mother told me, "Do you know that is how I feel about you."
04-23-2010 01:08 PM
pampered_mom I’m sitting here on the bed in our room. The room with it’s cool blue walls, the paint I picked out a couple of years ago, but didn’t get around to painting until a few months prior to Maya’s birth. The paint I purchased and then let sit for a number of months because I didn’t have the energy in my pregnancy induced fog to even consider putting paint to wall. The room ended up painted because my Mom and husband somehow knew it was something I needed done before Maya was born. When I sit here and look at these walls it reminds me of their thoughtfulness. The color is my attempt at creating an oasis in my life. I may never be able to afford a visit to a spa, but I like to think my very own bedroom is like one, at least in some small yet tangible way.

The bed underneath me with it’s bright red jersey sheets is warm from the afternoon sun streaming in through my bedroom window. It never used to be quite so bright in my room, but then the neighbors cut down their tree so the sun comes in strong during the warmest hours of the day. In the summer this will annoy me greatly as I battle with the rising temperature of our home. I’m too cheap to turn on the air conditioning. Doubly cheap since the one in our home is vintage, probably original to this mid-century house. It’s April, though, so the warmth of this afternoon is more than welcome. I soak up the sunshine on this unseasonable afternoon. It’s going to reach 80°F today, the same as it was yesterday. The red color of the sheets reflect up on me and reminds me of those warm days yet to come. The cool air in our house during the winter is a distant memory for me.

So much of our life seems to center on this bed. This wasn’t always so. Before we had children it was just a space to sleep and to well...we have children, you know. It was only a queen size bed then. Carefully chosen in our early marriage because of its pocketed coils. One flop on the bed with both of us on it in the showroom and my husband was convinced this was the one for us. If he couldn’t feel me move on the bed right there then he was confident my tossing and turning wouldn’t wake him up at home. We’ve since replaced that first queen size bed with a king size one and even though I no longer toss and turn we stuck with what was most comfortable so the pocketed coils remain. At first it was because we needed more space for our daughter Lilly to share our bed with us when she was a little baby. As she’s gotten older it’s become a favorite place to be.

So many things take place here beside sleep. Love between husband and wife, between parent and child, between siblings, between child and cat. It all takes a different shape and form. Babies are breastfed, diapers are changed, movies are watched, dinners are eaten.

Mornings come too soon after late nights worked by my husband. He finds himself greeted in the morning with bouncing. “I bounce on Daddy,” my two year old proudly proclaims. I encourage her to continue and she does so with obvious glee. My husband groans with that slowly creeping realization that the time for sleep is ending. My two year old, Lilly, begins to pull his covers off. “Get up, Daddy!” Our five year old, Josiah, tries to pull him out of bed unsuccessfully and we all laugh. They both ask me to help them and the three of us grunt and groan as my husband tries desperately to remain in bed. There’s a brief moment where I consider sending the kids out of the room. I know I should protect his sleep as I’m sure he’s tired. On the other hand, it’s nice to have their focus on someone else for a change. It’s nice not to be needed by a child for once. I focus doubly on helping the kids extricate their Dad from his cozy, warm nest. We’ve got him just about out of bed now and the giggles are multiplying like crazy. It’s fun to watch their love for their father spill out all over.

We do less of this now because there’s another child in the mix. She’s too small to help and I’m afraid she’ll be kicked or hurt in some way. “Shhhh,” we say now when the children come in, “You’ll wake your sister.” The kids head off to play after stopping for a brief cuddle. It only dawns on me now how much I miss those days reminding me of how much having a baby changes your life.

Twice now I’ve laid in this bed after giving birth. Babies have had their newborn exam here, tears have been repaired, tears have been shed. The first time it was tears of frustration when my daughter’s latch hurt and no one could tell me why. All my daughter wanted to do was nurse and I struggled with figuring out what was supposed to come naturally. After having already been convinced by so many when my son was a baby that it’s ok to give up I was even more dedicated to figuring things out this time around. Tears were shed quietly while my Josiah watched a movie, Lilly slept while only five days old and I was alone. My husband took as much unpaid time off as he could. He was our only source of income and we couldn’t afford for him to take any more. There was no paid family leave available to him and the rest of the family in the area had jobs of their own.

The second time around tears were shed early and often. Tears over another baby on the way. I’d lie down here, sink gratefully into my squishy pillow and let the sobs flow. Sometimes I’d pull the covers over my head and try to block the rest of the world out. When things got overwhelming I’d retreat to my space in this room, close the door, and lock it behind me. The first time that happened my husband complained, “Why are you locking me out?” I explained that the lock didn’t distinguish between him and our children. The explanation seemed enough and he’d encourage the children to follow him with the trademark silliness they so adore. It was tempting to stay there for the rest of the day, but someone needs to watch the children when my husband heads to work in the afternoon. After a brief respite I’d have to get back in the game.

Tears came later when the baby was overdue. Going on almost two weeks and still no baby. I never went into labor with Josiah, but with Lilly it was only a couple of days after the due date. I was convinced the same would happen this time around. Contractions came and stopped for days. They come again and stop while the snow flies. I sit in the dark with the shade open and watch the snow fall. It’s dark and yet light at the same time as the little bit of light at night reflects off of the whiteness. I hear the thunder roll. Thunder snow, how odd.

My husband sleeps later the next day while ill on the bed. He had woken up and headed out first thing in the morning convinced that that was the day. I tried to reassure him that he didn’t have to be in a hurry, but he was of one mind, absorbed in the task at hand with the heavy snow on the trees cracking all around him. A couple of times it sounded like one of our trees is going to come crashing down on top of him. He looked up to see if he needs to escape only to discover it’s somewhere else on our block. We head out later that day to Target with plans to walk around. The kids like to look at the Christmas lights displayed and snack on popcorn. When we arrive it’s clear the roads have prevented most people from going there. Our family entering the store almost seems as if we’ve doubled the occupants.

We head home and the contractions cease. I don't remember much of the rest of the day. I'm certain there was dinner after naps and playing before the kids headed into bed. I plowed ahead into laundry trying to keep my mind from focusing on the disappointment that there would be no baby that day. I had secretly hoped for that day since it was also my mom's birthday, but mostly I just wanted the pregnancy over with so we could get to the baby part faster. The quicker this was over the quicker perhaps I could find my way back to where we were before.

Sometime later in the evening my husband joined me in the family room after I coaxed him from the bed. I folded laundry and we watched Friends. It wasn’t more than twenty minutes from the moment he joined me until the first contraction hit. They came hard and fast. After the third contraction he was on the phone with the midwife, "It's time," he said. I tried to discourage him from doing so convinced as I was that things would only fizzle out. I didn't want my midwife traveling out in the weather only to get here and discover the baby was not coming. My husband believed differently. He knew this was it just like he did last time.

The adrenaline kicks in and my visibly ill husband summoned the energy to get things ready. Birth tub? Inflated and filling. Birth kit? Out and ready. I had everything I could do to get the sheets on the bed changed and ready. The midwife and her assistant arrived and then it seemed like everything went into slow motion. When would it all end? Like last time I’m a little bit disappointed. I’m expecting a lot of pain and find that it’s not really painful, just intense. Intense like all of the feelings surrounding this pregnancy.

Sitting there in the birth tub I remembered the disbelief when my husband suggested the nausea I was feeling was probably because I was pregnant. I remembered the sinking feeling I had when it began to dawn on me that he wasn't so far off base. I remembered swearing when the pregnancy test that I took in the middle of the afternoon didn't take long to come back positive. I remembered crying for a long time about it all. I remembered the sound of the deep, long sobs that were so hard to keep down, almost as if it were coming from someone else. I remembered being annoyed when my husband told other people - wishing that he had kept it between us.

I remembered being annoyed at all the reassurances from others that everything was going to turn out alright. I remembered hating all the discussions and the excitement and wishing everyone would stop talking about it.

I remembered wanting to avoid people because it was all so much easier if I just didn't think about it. I remembered mostly ignoring things as much as possible because if not, when in private all I could do was cry. For myself and all the dreams of ideas I had about my family and our future.

I remembered feeling badly because I felt like I was asking too much of Lilly. She was only 15 months old. I remembered mourning the loss of our breastfeeding relationship. I had plans to do so for as long as she was interested. I remembered feeling guilty when it all got to be too much. She wasn't sleeping through the night and nursed as often as she did when she was a little baby. I remembered feeling so guilty over her frustration when my milk supply diminished. I remembered moving her out of our bed and into her own not because she was necessarily ready but because I couldn't take it any more. I remembered thinking that if I was going to have to do this all over again then I needed some space to myself.

I remembered being disappointed when my husband asked me several months in when it was that I was going to get excited about the new baby that would join our family. I remembered wishing on the one hand that he understood and on the other wishing that I could just get on board with everyone else.

I remembered mostly being hurt when my family declared their excitement. They didn't understand and they wouldn't have to live it. They would come into our lives as a visitor and go home shortly there after. They wouldn't have to give birth, or breastfeed, or take care of the baby. The wouldn't be home alone with the baby, Lilly and Josiah for hours on end. They wouldn't ever have to face the decisions I would as to whether or not I had to let go of my plans, my values, my dreams.

It isn’t too long and I find myself needing every ounce of concentration for the task at hand. With Lilly I labored and birthed in a stock tank in the kitchen while the January sunlight streaming through the window on an unseasonably warm day. This time it was pitch black outside, cold and windy. The only lights on were the one's in the soffit above the kitchen cabinets. The midwife and her assistant sat in the living room. I could hear their soft conversation from my spot in the pool while my husband sat in a kitchen chair next to the inflatable pool.

He informed our family that the baby was on the way and they all were surprised as it hadn't been all that long ago that we last talked with no sign of baby's impending birth. There were still a few hours left, would she be born on my mom's birthday? I struggled to find a comfortable place to be in the tub. It was too short for me to be comfortable sitting as I couldn't get my legs stretched out enough. The water? Not warm enough. Half of the water is pumped out and then more comes in. Some from pots boiling on the stove and the rest from the faucet when the water heater finally recovered. Fine time to find out that the water heater's probably on its last legs.

Not much for conversation with all of the thoughts swirling through my head. I’m glad that this is the very last time. When Lilly was born I relished in the experience. It was so very healing to have my midwife believe in me. It was a triumph to give birth when the OB from my son's pregnancy told me I couldn't - that he was too big to birth before I ever went into labor. Vindicating when she was only a couple of ounces lighter than her brother.

This time around it seems like everything is progressing quicker than last time. I guess all the on and off again contractions had taken care of the vast majority of it. All that was left was transition and pushing. I remember when the midwife came in to check things and we joked about the vasectomy my husband had after finding out I was pregnant this time. A bit of relief washed over me with the realization that there would be no surprises. Maybe things won't be as bad as I fear they will be.

Out of the tub and to the bathroom to empty my bladder. I choose to do so in between contractions only to be hit with one in the middle of trying to get out of the tub. I make it back into the tub after the short walk there and back. From there it's all a blur, but it isn't long. The first urges of needing to push make themselves known. I'm on my knees and leaning against the edge of the tub hating that it's not solid like the stock tank last time. Hating that it doesn't feel like it comes up high enough. It feels like I'm on a runaway train. Everything seems like it's out of control. Our other children awaken with my cries. In less than 10 minutes she's out. With Lilly things were much slower. Out and in and out again as she eased into the world. With Maya it's just out. Head first and face covered in the amniotic sac. Born in the caul. The shoulders and then she's slipping out into the water of the tub covered in vernix just like her sister. "Yuck," I think.

I look at her and I begin to cry just a bit. She looks like a stranger to me, but I find myself filling with love for her scrunchy face. It's a girl and I'm a little bit disappointed as I was hoping for another boy. Text messages go out and our children join us in the kitchen. "You were yelling," Josiah tells me, " and you woke me up." They sit on the kitchen chair once occupied by my husband. He's somewhere near me taking pictures. There weren't enough pictures last time and my mom, who was supposed to take pictures this time, is out of town. It's after midnight so they don't share the same birthday. My mom is tickled pink regardless to have someone to share her birthday with. I don't think it was long before she was planning their shared birthday party.

Now there are five of us. I lay on the bed with the exhaustion of a labor that came fast and furious and from having passed out after losing quite a bit of blood. The other three members of our family sit beside me and watch with adoring excitement as the newest member gets a once over by our midwife. I’m just plain exhausted and basking in that oxytocin induced glow. All of my worries and sorrows are far from my mind for awhile.

It isn’t until one month later when my husband returns to work after his paid leave that any of those thoughts come back. Sometimes now the tears flow again with the remembrance of a surprise pregnancy, a third child. I lie awake at night now, the few times that I’m not so exhausted and worry over what I’m going to do and if I’ll ever get past how I feel. I worry that I’ll never be able to look upon her sleeping face, this child who wants only me and barely tolerates anyone else, and just love her without also crying over what was. It’s times like these that remind me how wonderfully powerful oxytocin is.

This bed really is the center of our family. It the sun and we the planets in its orbit. Even now as I sit here in the oddly warm April sun I find the words flow more easily on this bed than anywhere else. Maya lies next to me and kicks my elbow making it difficult to write while she’s engrossed in the examination of her fingers. The laundry calls my name from the basement and I know I must leave my comfortable spot. Clothes won’t hang themselves on the line.

I’ll return here, though, several times today just like every other day to nurse the wiggling child by my side. I prefer to nurse while lying down as it frees my hands and mind. Sometimes I’ll read or play solitaire on my IPod. Other times I’ll find myself daydreaming as I watch the leaves rustle in the breeze on the tree outside my window. In spite of my feelings over finding myself in this stage of life again it’s one of my favorite things about breastfeeding.

I have no answers for how to move past my grief over all the things that I’ve lost after being thrust into the intense phase of motherhood I find myself in yet again. My grief is only amplified lately with the loss of my aunt to cancer and my Dad’s cancer returning. In the midst of everything sits this bed. So much of what defines my sense of home is wrapped up in it, embodying the very essence of home in it’s pocketed coils. A haven in the storms of life.
04-22-2010 02:30 PM
madskye My daughter just turned five on Friday. I try to give her a magical childhood, and make her feel like life is full of possibilities. To instill a sense of wonder. Not to see that she gets everything she ever wants, but for her to know that there’s no reason that she can’t accomplish anything she sets her mind to. That dreams are meant to be big and that there’s satisfaction to be found along the way of pursuing them.

I had magic in my childhood. I know I did. I had an imaginary friend named Jane Sparkly. I remember getting my own dog one Christmas time—she had a little green and red vest on with a bell and she ran around the house until I caught her. That’s a magical memory. My dad played the guitar and sang, and that’s another kind of magic. My parents divorced when I was nine. I don’t remember many bad times, and I don’t remember many good times, but now that I have a child—I want her to remember everything! I want her to have memories and traditions and to know that I have always loved her more than anything. And I want to remember everything too…I’ve reached the stage where life seems to be flying by so fast. Madeline used to be a babe in arms, now she does activities like swimming and ballet. Kindergarten starts in the fall! Stop the world, I want to get off…but it all just spins faster than the day before.

I waited so long to have a child—until I was almost thirty five. Before I had my daughter, I was a yuppie. I rode a ferry boat from a small beach town in NJ to Wall Street, NY every day, to and from work. The ferry cost over $500 per month but I was single with no kids and a reasonable mortgage on a tiny condo, so why not? The ferry took 45 minutes to get to Manhattan, where the train took 90 minutes. The ferry had bagels and coffee in the morning, and a bar and snacks on the way home. The train was just loud, crowded, and miserable. I had girlfriends on the ferry to gossip with on the way home and drink cocktails and just have fun. Once the boat docked, sometimes happy hour would continue at the restaurant in the harbor.

Spirits were high. Everyone was making money. The people were glossy and shiny and looking back now it feels like the roaring 20’s. I had a great job in Manhattan, working for an incredible book publisher, selling one of the best accounts—and my account loved me and my numbers were good. Good times on the water, good times on land… I was just thirty years old, thin and pretty and in a relationship with the man that would eventually be my husband.

And then September 11th happened, and everything changed. Most obviously, a lot of people that I commuted with died. The boat went right to downtown Wall Street and many of my fellow commuters worked at Cantor Fitzgerald, the firm in the very top of one of the buildings that had been hit first. Some of them, I knew, and had gone to high school with. But a lot of guys, I didn’t even know their names, just their faces. I wasn’t sure who they were—I just knew that after 9/11 I didn’t see them anymore. There were cars left in the ferry parking lot for weeks. I didn’t like to speculate who they belonged to.

Everything turned gray. The economy started to tank. Shops downtown started closing. Everything changed. It didn’t happen over night, but first the joy was destroyed, the high times were no more…the fear took charge, my happy social drinking turned into something with a darker edge. I liked to say that Osama Bin Laden also made me fat, dammit, because I stress ate and drank so much that year. Some of my friends got divorced, I got engaged. I changed jobs so I wouldn’t have to fly so much anymore. Life moved on, but I do look back on those pre-9/11 days with wonder, there was just so much that I didn’t know then, so much I was taking for granted.

The world had turned grim, but I was in love and married in the springtime and had my baby two springs later…and the world became brighter again. I asked my husband last night if he remembers suffering sleeplessness when Madeline was a baby, and neither of us do. The first night home from the hospital we were up all night but that was mostly our own nerves.

Becoming a mother was a fantastic experience. I had a glorious pregnancy. We experienced an idyllic infancy, maternity leave meant long naps with baby nestled on my chest in the well of my couch cushions. Age one to two just got more delightful and charming each day. Could this baby be any cuter? Two to three she became clever and good company and so loving…those passionate baby kisses complete with chubby arms wrapped around my neck. So sweet I thought I’d explode sometimes.

And then, two weeks before her third birthday she
CAME INTO HER POWER
Or at least that was what my co-worker called it and it sounded like an accurate description of what was going on at our house.

Suddenly, Madeline had violent opinions about everything. She had powerful likes and dislikes. Precociously verbal, she spat out precise instructions at the top of her lungs like a tiny belligerent drill sergeant.

Nothing in our relationship had prepared me for this! My peaceful babe had turned into an angry little person and there was hell to pay if lunch was not served on her ladybug plate. Or if we ran out of apple juice. Or if I tried to redirect her from playing with steak knives.

I have my own business that I run from my home. I make difficult decisions every day. I solve problems and feel wise. I tell people what to do and for the most part, they do it and I never knew how good that felt until I had a three year old. There were times that year when I thanked God for my job, because it at least gave me one arena where I felt respected.

Everything came to a head when my mother was ending a week long visit that had been punctuated by “screamin’ tantrums”, as Madeline called them. Mom’s flight was early the next morning, so we were driving to an airport hotel to spend the night, so we could drop her at the airport the next morning at 5 AM. I knew, deep down, that this was a bad idea—but it was one of those parenting situations where there didn’t seem a way around it at the time.

Madeline kicked my seat and screamed for almost an hour on the parkway, in the pouring rain. I had brought the wrong juice box in the car and all hell had broken loose. My mom’s smile grew tighter and tighter. I contemplated pulling over to the shoulder, yanking open the door, and…and….well, I didn’t know what I would I do but the image of whipping open the door in a fury was satisfying. Instead, my mom and I ignored the tantrum and I kept driving and tried to keep my cool.

We made it to the hotel and checked in, had a quick and pleasant dinner at diner. Then it all began to disintegrate at bedtime in a too small hotel room with nowhere to go. Madeline didn’t want to go to sleep, she didn’t want to put on jammies, she didn’t want to turn out the light—even though we were all exhausted and sleeping in the same room. After 45 minutes of a screaming tantrum, the three of us trapped in the hotel room at 9:30 at night, it was over and she finally went to sleep.

5AM came too quickly, and as soon as we woke up it went downhill. I didn’t pack her “hoody” sweatshirt and now there was hell to pay. She was only half dressed in pants and no top. Screaming erupted. At 5am, in a hotel with paper thin walls. “Meet me in the lobby when you’re packed.” I said to my mom. I picked up Madeline’s tiny, furious body and grabbed my car keys. I ran with her out of the hotel room—but she wriggled out my arms in the hallway, screaming what my Irish granny would call “bloody murder” at the top of her lungs. I chased my half-naked child down the hall and grabbed her, wrestled her into the elevator, tore through the lobby and out to my car. Rain was still pouring down and I still had to force her into her car seat. Once we got out to the car I started screaming like the worst kind of mom—the kind that you see in the mall who make you think some people shouldn’t have kids. I don’t even remember what I screamed, but I know my fury, once I let go, was tremendous and horrible. I hate losing control. I pride myself on my patience. The fury had not been satisfying at all. I ended up crying in the front seat of my car once she was finally strapped in. Her screaming had subsided to choked sobs. She still had on no top. We still had to take my mom to the airport and then drive the 90 minutes back home.

I ran upstairs while my mom waited in the car and grabbed our overnight bag—we were late getting my mom to the airport now. Finally, my mom was dropped off and we were back on the parkway, headed home in miserable silence.

“Where's purple pillow?” Madeline sniffed.

My heart sank. Purple pillow was her lovey, a purple chenille pillow from my bachelorette days. Cushy and soft, it was a great lovey. Comfy at home or on trips, and portable, still respectable looking. Purple pillow was wrapped up in the blankets of the bed we had slept in, 40 minutes back down the road at the Holiday Inn.

“Maybe they can send it to us in the mail.” I said quietly.

She accepted that, all tantrummed out.

Finally, we arrived home and collapsed into her bed. I slept for two hours and woke up and felt human. I laid there next to her for another 45 minutes, waiting for her wake up, enjoying the silence of no tantrum and the feel of her tiny body next to me, peaceful for now.

And when we woke up, it was over. And to me, the central mystery is how my little girl can be so forgiving? How can she look through her mother in a crazy fury like that, and wake up a few hours later and just let it go and ask for a peanut butter sandwich? It just humbles me. And it inspires me because it’s so pure. There’s something about having a child that makes you want to be a better person, live a better life, make the world better for them. Motherhood is inspiring me to deeper things, after years of focusing just on myself.

I picked up a copy of a book about faith at the airport this week. Lately I’ve had a longing to bring more depth into my thoughts, cultivate more spiritual outlook. I’ve always been a surface person. Not exactly shallow, but if I had a mantra it would be something like “it is what it is” or “play the cards you’re dealt”—I don’t really believe in complaining and when I do allow myself to vent or really focus on my petty problems—I usually just feel worse and that I just wasted my time on self-pity.

I’m generally cheerful, not complacent, but I can definitely see how skating along in life without ever going deep leaves you with a shaky foundation. I was an English major, but for me it was always about the act of reading, the quality of the writing—not in deciphering some kind of dubious subtext that may or may not be there. Except that now, in my 40’s, the subtext of my life seems obvious and I’m constantly being poked by some kind of magical realism that can’t just be a coincidence?

Two years ago, I went through a stressful period that literally brought me to my knees. I found myself in church, with my daughter, attending a childs service each Sunday. Children’s service is great for me, as I don’t have a really religious background and need to start at the beginning to figure out what I believe. But I found that I took a tremendous amount of solace from church, being in that serene place for at least one hour once a week and feeling like a part of my community were all good things. I don’t even know that I prayed—I don’t know that I even know how to do that—but I do know that for that one hour a week, I felt comforted.

We live on a secluded creek, and that fall we had nine swans in the water behind my house. Everyday they would be out there, bobbing peacefully in the water. I work from home, and every day the swans would be there, and I liked to joke that they were my “spirit animal” except that…I actually wasn’t joking. I drew incredible comfort from those swans. Maybe they even protected me, since swans aren’t actually very nice creatures. I don’t need them anymore, and they’re gone now—swimming upcreek in back of someone elses house.

Could the swans coming and going be a coincidence of migratory patterns? Perhaps. Or perhaps they were really there for me. I’m more open to that idea now. I’m intrigued by the concept of the world being supportive of me and lifting me up when I’m down. And in turn, I’m more interested in supporting others. In mothering others, even people who aren’t my daughter.
04-21-2010 11:04 PM
Rigama It was1982 and I was six years old. I would turn seven in October, and I was in kindergarten. We lived in “The Projects” in Denver. At that point I was old enough to understand that the things that were happening were not good. I didn’t know they were abnormal, but I knew something wasn’t right.

Our apartment seemed huge. It had a basement, a back patio with a yard area and an upstairs level with four bedrooms. People were always over. Drinking, laughing, and listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival and Steely Dan albums. The air in that apartment was always heavy with cigarette and marijuana smoke. When people were coming over I was sent to my room and told to stay quiet all night. At bedtime I’d be called downstairs and I’d have to hug and kiss everyone there- even if I didn’t know them. Sometimes I’d have to sit on the laps of strangers and smile sweetly while they talked with their stinky pot breath in my face.

My world was an upside-down, scary place. Some nights I would wake up to the record player scratching the label of the album and people passed out in naked heaps. I would step carefully over and around the bodies and lift the arm off the record, flip off the switch and gently remove the little ball of dust that had gathered on the needle tip. Other nights the eerie silence would wake me and I’d go downstairs to find I had been left all alone with my four year old brother. The first time that happened I was too scared to want to move, but I made my way downstairs on liquid legs. The whole apartment was dark and empty. My heart pounded so hard I could hear it beat in my ears. I just knew I had been abandoned forever. Clearly, I hadn’t been a good enough girl so they left me behind, just moved and didn’t bother to take me. We had moved and left our belongings behind several times, so that night I figured I just wasn’t important enough to pack. I went back upstairs and felt a rush of relief when I saw my brother asleep in his own room. I knew they’d never leave him behind forever. He was my mother’s favorite, her baby. I was still afraid, but at least I knew they’d come home eventually.

So many memories from that time flood me. Verbal attacks, beatings, fear, my mother over-dosing in the mountains and the scary drive to the hospital. Strange men, my mother’s tongue in my mouth, making peanut butter sandwiches for my brother, being passed from stranger to stranger, my mother telling me to take a hit off the bong…

Now that I am grown and a mother myself, I look back and wonder why my grandparents didn’t take me away. Why didn’t they rescue me? I look back and am filled with so much hurt and sorrow over the loss of my childhood, and I am so damned angry that so much was taken from me. My number one priority in life right now is protecting Ethan’s own innocence and childhood wonder. I refuse to allow anything or anyone to take so greedily from my son.

Ethan was a good baby, great even. His temperament was even and he wasn’t prone to being colicky. Of course that doesn’t mean we didn’t take our share of midnight drives or that sometimes he just cried and I couldn’t figure out why. But it wasn’t a big deal. Babies cry sometimes.

He said his first word at nine months and by the time he was a year old he was speaking in three and four word sentences. What a blessing! He could verbalize, to some extent anyway, his needs! I believe his verbal acumen got us through the “Terrible Twos” with few displays of toddler bull-headedness.

Then three hit and my perfect baby became something of a despot. Everything had to be his way, on his time and he discovered that hitting me and pulling my hair helped him feel more in control of the situation. Neither of us could know that hair pulling would be a powerful trigger for me. When I was a little girl my hair was long-to my waist- and always in a ponytail. My mother liked it that way so she could always have an easy handle by which to grab and throw me. I thought I had processed all of that hurt, fear, and anger long before I got pregnant, but when my three year old grabbed my hair and wouldn’t let go, I was suddenly six years old again and I just lost it. I screamed and cried and pushed him away from me and hid, sobbing in my bedroom, while he pounded on my door. I hope with all my heart he didn’t feel the fear of abandonment that I felt so many years before in the empty apartment.

Instances like that happened fairly regularly for about two years, and when he was around five or six he calmed down some. But now that he was the age I was when I started remembering my abuse, parenting him got harder. He would throw a fit over something small-like hating green beans- and I would try to stay calm. But the louder he got the more the little girl inside me would freak out. My boy would throw something and Little Me would cry and curl up into a ball. I felt like she was begging him to stop before something bad happened. Sometimes that little girl would get angry and scream inside my head that he is lucky to have a nice mommy who never hits him and he should just be good. I can’t describe how it feels to have all this happening silently inside me, but it became clear that I had two children who needed love and safety.

Around the time my little self started making herself known, my mother came out too. It was this horrible feeling of being divided. Ethan would be pulling my hair or spitting; little me would be crying or getting jealous; current me would be trying to keep my cool, and in would pop my mother. I could see her doing to Little Me what she used to do. Hitting, screaming, pulling hair, spitting, kicking- all in the name of “giving me something to cry about” or “making me tough”. All the time this was going on inside, I still had to be present and parent my flesh and blood child. I thought I was crazy. Not just a little off, but certifiable, send me off to the nearest padded room and keep a thorazine drip running constantly, insane. I spun down into depression and felt like dying. Clearly, I reasoned, I was much too fucked up to be the mother Ethan deserved.

I’ve been dealing with the three “mes”, or the two Dannie’s and her evil mother, for a few years and it’s easier now than it was at first. But it is still so scary and painful. Sometimes I still feel like I’m doing more harm than good by sticking around, but I’ve come far enough to see that’s not true. My son is always safe. He is never physically punished, and most importantly, he knows he is loved beyond measure. Mostly I do a good job and manage not to yell at him, but sometimes I’m not the mother he deserves and I scream at him. I need desperately to believe that Ethan knowing and feeling loved will far outweigh all my faults.

I know, no matter how good I am or try to be, somewhere inside me is my mother. When he is having a rough time I can feel her in there, pacing back and forth like a lion in a too small cage. I can feel her reacting to him. She wants to teach him a lesson, show him who’s the boss, and give him something to cry about. I know what she wants me to do. I know she needs me to continue the cycle and I can almost listen to her. I never have. I’ve never thrown him into a wall or smacked him until he saw stars, but god, I can imagine it because it’s what happened to me. And what the hell kind of mother can even imagine doing that kind of thing to her child? In those moments, I can’t see straight, I can’t think straight and I start to believe that the best way to break the cycle is to remove myself from it. I feel like no matter how hard I try, I can’t help but do more harm than good in his life. I know on some level that all of my fears and pain is just the tape my mother played to keep me submissive. When he’s out of control and my mother is pacing, hungry for destruction, I grab on to the little moments, the little memories that remind me that my son loves me and that I am a good mother. Those little moments are what keep me from feeding the lion.

Ethan was not quite two and a half. It was a hot, hot day in the middle of summer. The tree in the front yard drooped and the little window unit swamp cooler worked overtime to blow air just mildly cooler than outside. Our house was hot by even the most conservative standards, but at least there was some airflow inside, so it was better than outside. I was in the kitchen, sweating and making dinner in my blue bathing suit. My bathing suit was one of my favorite outfits because it didn’t drip much after I let Ethan hose me down…which he was delighted to do anytime.

My husband, Stirling, was outside, mowing the lawn and Ethan was helping-following along with his little mower. The sound of the mower stopped and I thought Stirling would come in, so I poured him a glass of water. After a couple of minutes he did come in, carrying a dirty, pink, sweaty two year old in his arms. He looked frustrated.

He set Ethan down on the kitchen floor and said “You deal with it. He says he has grass in his butt, but I can’t find it.” I gave him his water and he went back out to finish the yard work. I gave Ethan some water and tried to look at his little toddler rear. I asked if there was grass there and he said yes.

“Can you put your hands on the floor and pretend you’re a bear?” I asked. He did. I looked carefully for grass and just couldn’t find it, so I asked “Sweetie, how did you get grass in your butt? Did you sit down in it?”

“Uh-uh. I put it there. I can feel it.”

I carefully spread his cheeks apart, looked very closely and saw it. The very hard tip of a weed, poking out of his anus. I was able to get him to be still while I removed it, and he was no worse for the wear. “Ethan, why did you put grass in your anus?”

“It was an experiment. I wanted to see if grass can go in like poop comes out.” Ugh! How do you respond to that???

“Well, please remember not to experiment with your body. Especially your anus, okay?”

“Kay.”

“Kay. Go put on some undies and wash your hands. It’s time to eat.”

As he ran off to the bathroom, I opened the fridge and pulled out a beer. Parenting is not for the faint of heart. In that moment, I realized that being Ethan’s mother would be an intense and often surprising journey. It is this sweaty, dirty, golden memory that anchors me when I feel like I’m losing myself.
04-21-2010 08:53 PM
Tanya Taylor H Pampered Mom!

Go ahead and send the first draft unless you're entirely lost! In that case, you can send the free-writes and I can make suggestions on how to piece together..
Thanks,
Tanya
04-21-2010 06:06 PM
mclisa At 2 am every morning my alarm rings. It's been perpetually set at this time now for 22 months. June 18, 2008. The date the world changed for our family.

We didn't notice that our oldest was sick, but we did get annoyed with her asking to pee every hour and wanting water to drink constantly during our trip to the Cities for a family reunion. The typical gathering of aunts and uncles and cousins that you have no idea what their names are. After a cool spring, the weather was finally warm. We’d be at a lake so out came the summer clothes. As I packed her bag for the trip, I noticed that she wasn’t able to fit in her new shorts from grandma that she got for her birthday in February. They fell off of her hips so we packed the ones from the previous summer. I remember thinking that she must have had a growth spurt because her legs looked so long and spindly. They were so lean. I didn’t know that it was because her body was starving for energy so it was burning her fat and muscle away. How could I not notice her weight loss? What kind of mother doesn’t see her daughter shrinking before her eyes?

When we came back it became apparent she wasn't right. Maddie, daddy and I took her to the ER which was filled with blood draws, IV's, and urine tests. The ER doc walked in, quickly announced “she has diabetes” and then abruptly left. We felt abandoned and alone. We knew that was going to be the diagnosis, but we weren’t ready to hear it. We only had us to reassure ourselves that she was going to be OK. Somehow with the nurses help we made it through our first night. And our first low. She was so shaky that she spilled the apple juice onto her hospital gown. In the middle of the night, we were changing bedding and pj’s. Nurses poked her tiny fingers. Nurses jabbed needles into her too thin tummy. Nurses and doctors expected us to do that to our daughter. How could we do that to her as she cried and begged for us not to hurt her? We learned through our stay our new "normal." Wake up and check a blood sugar. Eat and give insulin. Play and check a blood sugar. Want a snack? Check a blood sugar first. Want to eat again? Check that blood sugar and give insulin. Before bed there is one more blood sugar test too.

As we left the hospital, she turned to me and asked if that meant she was all better now. How does a mother respond to that? Lie? The truth? She was 7 years old. How could I tell her that I lost my hopes and dreams for her? I knew there would be no “Amazing Race” for us like she’d been talking about. Her pregnancies would all be high risk, filled with worry about birth defects and her health. She could have kidney failure, seizures, and amputations.

We watch her adjust to this new normal. Her finger tips are sore and coated in little black spots. When she takes a bath, the black soaks away, but instead leaves her holes like a colander. At meals we calculate her carbs, adjust for her blood sugar and load the pen with her fast acting insulin. Before she can leave the table, we lift her shirt, clean an area of her tummy and try to pinch up some fat for the injection. At bedtime she gets her long acting insulin. The lantus is acidic insulin with a pH of lemon juice. It burns as we inject it. She knows that the grey pen is the one that hurts worse than the rest. She kicks and screams. She runs away. We try bribes and numbing cream to help. Eventually we stumble on ice. A single ice cub held to her tummy, is the one thing that helps.

Her body no longer produces insulin which is the hormone that breaks down carbohydrates into energy units that the body can actually use. Without it, the body pees out the carbs and burns muscle instead. That leads to high levels of acid and ketones in the blood. She gets cranky with us and her vision blurs making it hard to finish her homework. So sugar is her enemy, or at least many people are lead to think so. Really she needs the right amount of sugar to be in balance with the insulin she receives from the injections. Sometimes she even gets excess insulin which makes her blood sugar drop. Then she feels weak, nauseated, and unable to concentrate. Then it is time to break out the carbs - juice, crackers, and milk to bring her back into balance. We seek to maintain that balance, but sometimes it is more like a roller coaster.

And so the alarm at 2am. The house is dark and still except for me. I’m in the kitchen by our cabinet that now has been overtaken by diabetes supplies and equipment. Bins of needles, lancets, meters, strips, ketone urine strips, and more line the shelves I grab the meter, check for strips, tuck some juice and glucose tabs in my pajama pockets and slip my head light on. I learned from my air force friend that red lights don’t disrupt your night vision, so as I enter her room I’m a red-eyed Cyclopes. I climb onto her bed, sneak her hand from under the cover, pull back the trigger of the lancet and take a deep breath. In a second, I’m going to inflict pain onto her. Snap. It releases and pricks her finger. Unlike Sleeping Beauty, there isn’t a prince coming to rescue her. Drop by drop, I squeeze her finger onto the test strip. The alarm awakens me to check her while she sleeps blissfully unaware of her dangerous lows. But blissfully sleeping and not worrying about the diabetes.
04-21-2010 06:01 PM
pampered_mom cachet - my notes say 1500-3000 words.

Tanya - I realized that I forgot to ask this on the conference call last night. In my notes from week 2's conference call I had written down that you had wanted us to email you all of our free writes, but from the last conference call I have written down the you wanted the first draft. Are you just looking for our first draft at this point?
04-21-2010 09:44 AM
cachet I enjoyed last night's call so much! Well, as much as I could with an inquisitive toddler still up.

I think you gave a word count range, Tanya? Was it 1500-3000 words? It will be interesting to type up the other free writes and see what the word count is.

Thanks so much. I am just thrilled to be doing this with all of you.
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