Miss Lucy Quinn was born on January 20, 2012 at 2:14 am. She weighed nine pounds and two ounces.
Her arrival was everything I had dreamt it would be.
Miss Lucy Quinn was born on January 20, 2012 at 2:14 am. She weighed nine pounds and two ounces.
Her arrival was everything I had dreamt it would be.
January 13th is a Friday this year, as I am sure you are well aware. For some this is a day filled with superstition. Friday or not, I can’t help but grin from ear to ear on January 13th each year.
In January of 2005 babies were the furthest thing from my mind. In fact I spent the better part of at least three or four nights a week with two older gentleman. One had been around at least a couple hundred years the other was in his early 80s. Jim Beam. And Ralph. I was tending bar in the evenings and working at The Outer Banks Hospital in the dietary office during the day. Ralph was my favorite customer both places. Jim Beam was his drink of choice. My days were fulfilling and my nights were long and hazy but I had youth on my side and managed to pull it off.
I hadn’t been trying to get pregnant… but I wasn’t doing anything to prevent it. I’d been married for several years and I was 29 years old. It would happen when it was time.
On January 13th I woke up a little before five am, as was my norm. And I peed on a stick. Not a usual occurrence. Positive. I woke up Jeremy, he said not to tell anyone. That we needed to be sure. We’d wait a little while, we’d test again.
And I went to to work.
It was shortly after 9 am when I caved. I burst in to my boss’ office, closed the door and told my secret. Even though it wasn’t totally necessary to do so I had the luxury of a blood test at my disposal and by 10:30 that morning I had called my husband and my parents and spilled the beans. I was pregnant.
January 13th. I don’t think I will have a baby with a birthday on January 13th. But that’s okay. Because I became a mother on January 13th, 2005. And I never looked back.
and this stuffed up. Although the red nose does add an attractive seasonal flair to my otherwise drab maternity ensemble.
By the chimney with care…
Sometimes things turn out just the way you imagine they might… Next year there will be four. Four stockings.
I grew up in a four stocking family. And soon so will Emily.
I have a fireplace. In our new house. And greens on my mantle. And Burl Ives has told me the story of the Misfit Toys several times already this month. It’s almost perfect. Next year there will be four stockings. And then it will be perfect.
Merry Christmas, Baby D. No stocking for you this year. But next year. Next Christmas you might even be walking. Quick drunken steps from the foot stool to the couch. It will be hard to remember a time when you weren’t here with us. See you soon, sweetheart.
So, I was having a little bit of a mini meltdown. But it’s over. The maternal hormones have levelled out and I am ready to have a baby.
And this is how I know.
Every day I drive past a few farms. My favorite of all of them has quite a few goats. I am a pretty big fan of goats. They are cheerful little creatures. They make me smile.
It’s not lost on me that I am gestating a Capricorn.
I slow down and I smile at the goats a couple of times a week. And today I thought maybe I’d even stop and pay them a visit. I pulled in the driveway and made Em jump in the car. I told her it was a surprise. I guess she knows me better than I imagined. Right away she asked me “Is it a cute animal, Mom?”
“Yep. Two of them.”
We pulled up next to the fence and when I rolled down the window at least a dozen goats started running towards us. And all of a sudden…. I felt the “Oh my god, they’s so cute….” totally overwhelm me. Because it wasn’t just a bunch of cute goats. It was goats AND FUCKING PONIES!!!
Guys. I’m gonna make it. I only have to be pregnant for five more weeks. And there are goats and shetland ponies less than half a mile from my house. And they are crazy cute. It is hard to be filled with rage and anxiety when this little buddy will come right up to the fence and smile at you. With the goats serenading you in the background.
I have given up worrying about when we will close on the house. Both our real estate agent and our mortgage broker have confirmed that it is a “when” not an “if,” so my time spent wondering when we will close, when I will escape the maze of boxes and pet hair and madness in my house is time I could spend worrying about something else.
Like this baby. That we are apparently going to have sometime in the next… eighty some odd days. The alternating stress and excitement of moving and packing has kept my mind occupied. But the heartburn and reflux I have at night has given me ample opportunity to worry when I might otherwise be sleeping. Thanks, baby. You must have known I wanted to squeeze in some extra worrying, I appreciate the reflux keeping me awake so I can get that worrying in.
Lack of sleep and stress finally resulted in two inevitabilities yesterday. Both involving tears. I called my mom and informed her that I want to come home. I tearfully announced that I need to blow it out all over her so I can get through the rest of the day. I don’t think thirty five is too old for the occasional “I WANT MY MOMMY” moments. I had a nice explosive one. I thought it would tide me over.
Nope. I don’t think I had even shut the door from tucking Em in to bed last night when the tears started to flow again. I sat down on the couch with MQD and all I could get out of my mouth at first was that I was so scared. So very, very scared.
As is always the case when something is eating at me I never realize the degree to which I am bothered until it comes out of my mouth and I can breathe again. My labor and delivery with Emily was not what I had planned. And this time around I am again hopeful that I will achieve my goals, an un-medicated birth.
There is no part of me that imagines I will deliver in a pool of lavender scented water, a hot sweat on my forehead but cool and calm on the inside. I go apeshit when I stub my toe. It is an emergency when I can not find my keys. Cool and calm are not adjectives that describe me in the best of circumstances. So I am prepared to bring the hysteria.
But I am frightened that it will be difficult on MQD. We have planned what could best be described as a Bradley birth. Bradley, by design, is a method of primarily husband or partner coached laboring. The theory being that a woman needs to trust her body to do what it does naturally and that no one (certainly not a medical professional or a nurse they’ve not ever met) is better suited to remind her of who she is, of her strengths, of the love and support available to her in this difficult time than her husband or chosen partner. But this is where it gets hairy for me.
What if you know that your reaction to pain and fear is occasionally not particularly…. kind? What if you know that there will be a moment when you lash out at that person that is there to support you? And even more, what if you know even while you are doing it that you wish they could go take a breather because while you know that you are the one in pain that it hasn’t been a picnic to watch you, to support you, to love you through this time?
I have been afraid to suggest to MQD that we hire a doula because I didn’t want him to hear that as a criticism or a lack of faith in his abilities to support me. I told him this last night and he said the only thing he could have possibly said in that moment “But this isn’t about how I feel.”
But to me, in some ways, it is. I have been more and more inclined to want a doula because I see how very much he does want to make this happen for me. I see this while he reads Robert Bradley’s book, index cards in hand. While he is supporting me, who is supporting him? Who is reminding him that my swaying and moaning like a wildebeest is great work and that I am right where I should be?
He is a scientist. He assimilates data and information rapidly and with a precision and attention to detail I can not comprehend. But what if what I need in that moment is not his rational mind, what if I want him to just put his arms around me and tell me that he knows I can do this, because at the end of it all, we will have a baby, our baby, in our arms, and cry right along with me that we have the good fortune to have this moment so close at hand? How can he feel free to let go for a moment if there is not someone else to take the reins?
So… this morning I started a hunt for a doula. It feels a little like online dating, I imagine. You look at a picture, of a woman, and her family, smiling. And you think, can I imagine you in the room at a spectacular moment in my life?
This morning at our midwife appointment we could feel the baby’s head. We could actually almost juggle it back and forth between our hands like a tennis ball. And so “the baby” that I have been up late at night worrying about is now really a person to me.
The moment your fingers curl around the back of a babies head… you are never the same. In that moment you realize you made a life. And that you hold that life in your literal hands. I told MQD last night that I thought it would be less scary to be pregnant the second time. I could not have been more wrong. This time, I know. I know how much I will love this baby. I know that s/he will change my life in ways I can not imagine. Last time I could only speculate.
After the boo-hooing and the conversation and the “what do we do about this now?” kind of conversation a couple has we finally got to just talk. MQD smiled and looked at me and said “It’s a girl.” Neither of us have been quiet about our hopes for a boy. Who wouldn’t want one of each? But last night was the first time we both admitted we have a feeling it is a girl.
This morning I said that I thought it was kind of silly to be disappointed at all, no matter what we have, because when your worst case scenario is still a baby, who cares? I said “It’s like someone with both hands behind their back says “I have a cupcake in this hand and a slice of cake in this one, pick one” and you choose. Even if you really wanted a cupcake, who in their right mind is gonna say “Fuck, man, I got cake!”
I think the cake vs cupcake argument applies to the labor and delivery, too. No matter what happens, hysteria or a blissed out hypno-birth, at the end of it all we will have our baby. And in that moment when I am expecting MQD to look at me with tears in his eyes, as he passes me our baby, fresh from delivery, crying and red and tiny and ours… when I am expecting him to say “It’s a girl/boy” I hope he has his wits about him.
Through his tears, I hope he says “It’s a piece of cake!”
Last year I remember thinking that I was glad I had an iPhone. A world of information at my fingertips. “Mom, how do 3-D glasses work? How far away is the sun? Can we walk there? What happens while a bear is hibernating? Where do the squirrels sleep? Do tadpoles have eyes?”
It was exhausting. But I was fortunate enough to be able to tell her “You know I don’t really know, but we can find out.” And together we would look it up and if we were lucky we’d get a diagram, maybe even a video. And a few minutes later she’d have forgotten that she had ever asked me a question, but I would feel like I had passed a parenting test. I admitted I did not know something, and I helped her find the answer.
I knew when we got pregnant the questions would get more difficult. Age appropriate answers – that was the next parenting hurdle I breezed right over. My own mother reminded me to only answer the actual question that was posed. This has been helpful time and again. “What part of the boy and what part of the girl make the baby?” Why the sperm and the egg, of course. So far she hasn’t asked about the method of delivery. And I haven’t volunteered. All in due time.
But in the last few weeks the questions have gotten harder. I am not afraid of sex, drugs and rock and roll. I can explain that. But the questions are getting more and more confusing. And more and more often I just want to take her in my arms and say “I don’t know, baby. I don’t know.”
Last night we took Fish out for a walk. Our typical route takes us past a playground where a lot of the kids congregate after dinner. For the most part they are older kids, but there are a few younger ones. She seemed hesitant. She called out to a girl who is in her class. The same little girl who was her bus riding buddy the first few days of school. Until Em decided that she did not want to ride the bus anymore because “no one wants to sit by me” and “everyone already knows each other.” I let the bus riding go, she had so much on her plate, a new school and still another new school only weeks away. I really didn’t give it a lot more thought.
And then last night she started to cry as we were walking. Not the dramatic tears she lets roll on occasion. But the quiet tears a kid tries to hide. “I wish I wasn’t the only white person in our neighborhood. No one wants to be my friend. I wish there wasn’t only black people.” The last sentence, of course, came out as we passed by a few neighbors in their driveway. I felt my cheeks flush and gave the knee-jerk politically correct answer.
“But it doesn’t matter what color skin someone has, right? It only matters what is on the inside. “
“I KNOW that, Mom. But it’s like no one in our neighborhood even knows that I am very kind. And I want to be their friend….” and her tears grew heavier. And I stopped walking and crouched down right next to her. I had no answers, but at least I could make sure she knew I was listening. I tried to tell her that a lot of the kids in the neighborhood had known each other for a long time. Our neighbors that moved in at the same time we did, Em was great friends with them before they moved. I listened. And I hugged her. And I told her that in your lifetime everyone won’t be your best friend. One platitude after another spilled from my lips.
And then she asked me one simple, sincere question for which I had no answer at all. “Don’t those kids know what it feels like to be the only white person in the whole neighborhood?” So, I just hugged her. And I realized I had no answers. If we were the only black family in our neighborhood we might get a book from the library and talk about it. If we were the only Jewish family in her class at Christmastime we might educate the class about our traditions. But somehow “celebrating” your blonde hair, blue eyed-ness seemed so impossibly confusing to me. But only to me. I had missed the big picture all together.
She feels different. And she thinks no one wants to be her friend. She doesn’t need a lesson in tolerance. She needed me to hug her and tell her that she IS kind and that those kids will figure that out. Or they won’t. But that she needs to just keep on being who she is.
We have lived in a predominantly black neighborhood since we moved to Chapel Hill when Emily was two. She had never noticed until about six weeks ago. It doesn’t seem fair that she is six years old and the days when her life was simple are already behind her.
Perhaps that is melodramatic. Her questions were simpler. Either her life still is simple or it never actually was, depending on your point of view.
We came home from our walk. And I was exhausted. My feet were swelling up as I had foolishly walked in boots with a heel. But I was more exhausted in my head. “You wanna snuggle on the couch for a little bit before your shower?”
She seemed to think that was a fine idea. She had a seat at the dining room table for some frozen yogurt while I elevated my feet. I relaxed. My little girl came back around the corner and sat next to me, her hands on my belly as they often are. We waited to feel some baby dancing. I inhaled. And I exhaled.
“Why don’t we go to church? What to do they do there? Is church like a funeral? Is God dead?”
Oh for fuck’s sake, Em. Can’t I get a break?
Well, bless your heart. And that’s a real blessing, not a Southern “go fuck yourself.”
This morning I left the house to see a rainy morning. It was chilly. But I was toasty warm, from the inside out. Let’s start with the foundation.
Last week I tried to buy a pair of shoes to lift my spirits and ended up with a Hanes six pack of, let’s call them modest, ladies underwear. And this morning I was thinking… if the cheap big girl panties feel this fantastic what must the nice ones feel like? Enveloping yourself in a sleeping bag made of cake? Pudding? What? I can’t even really imagine. Thank you, Hanes underwear. I had underestimated you and your low-rise hipster comfort. Continue reading