Tag Archives: Birth

Mom Gets Up Close & Personal with the Big Kid

Emily has a short week of school this week. Consequently there is no Show and Tell. This is probably a good thing.

Yesterday afternoon I put my feet in the stirrups at the midwive’s office to get my new IUD.  I had planned to have Emily watch Lucy for me but it was late in the afternoon and Lucy was hungry and wanting her mama.  Lucy ended up in my lap which meant Emily was free.

She was standing by my feet.  “Can I … see what she is doing?”

“Sure, just don’t bump in to my leg, please, and stay out of Rachel’s way.”  My seven-year-old disappeared behind the sheet covering my knees.

“Is that blood? Is it period blood or blood blood?  Why is betadine orange? Does it hurt? Why are you squeezing your toes? Are you making that noise to make Lucy laugh or because it hurts? Is that where Lucy was? How did she fit in there? When you were having a baby you kept saying “I can’t do it” and you were crying.  That’s the part that is scary. So, what exactly is your vagina? Where is that?”

On our way to the car I said “I don’t think very many seven-year-olds have seen their mother’s cervix.  Was that neat? Or kind of weird?”

“Well, I thought I would just have to sit there and watch Lucy and that it would be… Lame. That was not lame.”

photo 1

When I got up this morning this is what I saw at the kitchen table.  I don’t think her cervix sighting has irrevocably changed her.  Although she has a certain “I am Woman, Hear Me Roar” flair, no?

In other news I snapped a picture of Lucy after she finished nursing just now.  She doesn’t look like a kid who has a mother with low milk supply to me.  I am ever vigilant, but so far so good.  photo 2

And Then We Were Four: Part Four

It was decided that I would stop trying to push through the last centimeter of my dilating, that I would  stop and take a break, let my body finish doing the work.  Then it was determined I should change position.  In spite of the enema I had managed to give myself during early labor the shred of privacy I had been maintaining was holding on to the fear that it felt like I had to go to the bathroom.  When Sarah suggested I go sit in the bathroom for a while it sounded like as good a plan as any.  Pillows were placed on the back of the toilet and I sat backwards with my face against the cool, soft pillows.  In the dark it was easier to let my mind go.

Earlier, I had gotten very sick.  Throwing up like a freshman at a fraternity party, I couldn’t even open my eyes lest I see the bucket and get sick all over again.  (Hello, chinese food, I had to have!!) I took a new bucket with me to the bathroom just in case.  There, in the clean white bucket from the birthing center was a single dog hair.  Even amidst the mania I felt… I smiled, Fisher… his damn hair gets everywhere.

Changing positions brought no physical relief.  If anything it required the body to  acclimate to new pressure points, new pain.  At this point each contraction seemed to radiate down in to my legs.  Later I would have IV fluids to hydrate me and the pain in my legs would  almost immediately subside.

Physical relief did not come while I was in the bathroom, but it did give me a moment to regroup emotionally.  I’d had my eyes closed much of the previous hour and now in the darkness I could  feel only hands rubbing my back.  Not knowing if it was MQD or Erin  – it almost didn’t matter.  I cried out as my contractions peaked.  Spoke quietly to myself and to the baby in the interim.  I don’t know how long I was in there.  But when I came out, I knew it was time.  I said more than once that I felt like I had been asleep.  And like I had just woken up.  I asked several times for Erin to tell me again what was happening.

For a time I felt like I was trapped between the bathroom and bed. My body had returned to the bed, my mind had stayed in the bathroom.  Eventually we all reunited and a feeling of calm alertness washed over me.  MQD smiled at me and I could see in his eyes the relief I was experiencing.  Never once did he look frightened, but he looked so happy to have me back that I know it must have been quite a scene there for a bit.

As with so many things in our lives the clearest pictures are those that we can see only after the fact. From this side of things I know that it was the final stages of transition in the bathroom.

As much as it was almost unnecessary to check, I needed to hear it. When Sarah said “You’re ten centimeters, we can have this baby any time you’re ready,” tears began to flow down my face.

I had watched a lot of birth videos.  I had seen images of these smiling women as they pushed their babies out in to the world.  But I had imagined I would be more of the Linda Blair/Exorcist labor and delivery type  than the Blissed-out Commune Mama type.  This picture does not tell the whole story, certainly.  But it captures the joy, the lack of a sense of fear and urgency, the calm that was in the room before Lucy made her debut. 

Our doula, Erin, pulled triple duty as she held the mirror, the flash light and my iPhone throughout the home stretch.  Sarah suggested I reach down and touch the babies head and I asked her to guide myhand.  In keeping with the sense of levity throughout my labor Erin said “I don’t know how big your vagina is exactly, but you’ll find it.”

As soon as I felt her the waterworks began again and I wondered how I would  ever continue to push slowly, not risk tearing.  At one point (after I had the moment of clarity wherein I asked for my glasses and could  actually see in the mirror!) I saw her head begin to emerge and then as I tried  and relaxed between pushing I saw it retreat.  “No, no, no, baby, come back….” and I wept.

I told Sarah and Missy and Erin the story of my dream, how Baby D came and knocked on the door and I didn’t pick him/her up.  How I was so terribly afraid that I didn’t do the right thing.  Sarah reassured me that the baby would descend at least as far as they had previously with each push.  So, I relaxed.  And spoke.  “Come on baby, I promise I will pick you up, and I will never let you go, just come out… Come on… I am right here.”

And slowly, I saw this tiny flash of baby hair become a baby.  I was waiting for the ring of fire, and as I saw the head emerge I can recall thinking this must be it… and then the head would grow bigger.  Later they would  tell me Lucy was born with her hand against her face contributing  to her already giant sized baby head.

I felt it, finally. The mystical ring of fire, the moment that your body is open, allowing passage of your child in to the world and then I saw her face.  Red and smushy, bloody and quiet.  With little effort  her shoulders appeared and I had my hands hooked beneath her armpits and I was pulling her on to my chest.  Our baby. She was here.

I cried out for Emily. I had been adamant that no one tell me if we’d had a boy or a girl and we realized as Emily entered the room that from my vantage point I really couldn’t tell.  And no one else had gotten a decent look. So, it was Emily that told me.  My sweetest girl, my Emily June, it was she that said “It’s a sister.”

“You got your sister, baby girl…” I said,my eyes flooding with the realization that my baby girl, was no longer my baby girl.

We stayed at the birth center only a few hours before we headed home.  Our family of four.  Mom and Dad in the front seat.  Our girls sleeping quietly in the darkness of the early morning.  I carried Lucy Quinn in to the house.  A teeny tiny girl in her car seat.  MQD carried Emily June up to her bed, her long legs looking even longer as he carried her past me up to her room.

It was just after six in the morning.  A new day.  We were home.  And then we were four.

MQD's girls

Yes, I’m ready….

My love for KC of KC and the Sunshine Band does not extend only to his hits.  This morning I awoke (to a pile of sharp Emily elbows and Fisher breath and a cat howling at me, but that is neither here nor there) with a song in my head.

An often overlooked KC & Teri De Sario duet, “Yes, I’m Ready.”

I don’t even know how to love you
Just the way you want me to
But I’m ready (Ready) to learn (To learn)
Yes, I’m ready (Ready) to learn (To learn)

To fall in love, to fall in love
To fall in love with you

And I am.  What changed between yesterday and today?  I am ready to catch the leaks.

The first time you become a mother you are encouraged to pamper yourself and focus on your pregnancy and your post-partum period.  Celebrate this new phase of your life.  This time I felt like there was no need to do that.  I am a mother already.  And I know better this time than to think I need to buy every baby item under the sun, so the pile of Baby Stuff is much smaller.  I thought that was what was making me feel like I wasn’t ready.  The unknown gender of Baby D makes shopping for newborn clothes virtually impossible.  We own everything yellow that has a duck and a giraffe on it already.  And really, that’s more than enough.

And yesterday I realized what I was missing.  I needed to be prepared to catch the leaks.

Yesterday afternoon I assembled an army of old friends.  A package of pre-fold diapers to catch the slime that oozes from a baby constantly.  A package of flannel receiving blankets to put down in my bed.  I washed and dried and brought back to life my Lily Padz and a dozen sets of reusable cloth nursing pads.  I made a pile of underwear that I know will end up covered in blood.  All alone in the Target I stared at nursing bras designed for sleeping, camisoles with snaps and pajamas that button up the front.  I stood in the feminine care aisle longer than anyone in my family would have tolerated until I could remember whether I liked wings or not.  Until I recalled that an absorbent core is really just like having a plastic sack of jelly in your underwear and that I hated those.  I stashed those little packs of Kleenex in every purse I own, next to my bed, near the couch.  Because I know how quickly I will cry over the next few weeks as I fall head over heels in love again. While leaking from everywhere but my ears.

And now I’m ready.  To fall in love.  And to catch the leaks.

To Doula or Not to Doula

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.

My clearly not un-medicated labor with Emily June

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!”

Emily June, September 2006 ~ The only time I have ever seen a person so thoroughly pissed off at a 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!”


Emily Explains It All

Clarissa she is not.  But Em is in the know.

There is a lot going on in her five year old life, and she is taking it all in stride. With the impending arrival of a sibling there has been plenty of talk of babies and new life.  I let her watch The Business of Being Born not too awful long ago and she ate it up.   She is curious and occasionally worried about me.  I think she is right at the age where she can grasp just enough information to make her want more but not she is not quite ready to wrap her mind around the rest.  MQD and I are perfecting the art of simply answering the question that was posed.  Not too much information, not too little. We  will be the Goldilocks of Sex Ed by the time it is all said and done.

About half of the time Em opens her mouth it starts with “Can I tell you   something?”  So yesterday in the car when she asked that very question it didn’t prepare MQD or I for what was coming.  “Did you know you will actually have to watch your wife?  Actually have a baby out her vagina?”

This is when I started furiously typing on my phone.  Typically advice that Em dispenses is good.  But the advice she gives MQD where she refers to me as “your wife” is classic.  “And this is important to know.  It is serious.  It might hurt Mom a little bit.”

And for dramatic effect she begins to get choked up… “And it will come out of her vagina like magic.  And you might be a little nervous, Dad. And a little excited.  I’m just telling you.  It is important that you know this stuff.  You might start crying.  And maybe we can at least read my baby books.  I have two baby books.  We can read them so you will know how it is.”

I had tears running down my face from laughter.  I just want to make sure I get in the right line at the midwife’s office.  I want the magical vaginal delivery, please.

Sadly, all conversation this weekend was not about Life.

I am not counting weekends between now and the middle of January yet. I don’t need to. It won’t be long before MQD has a shared Google spreadsheet “Things to Do Before Baby” with budgeted amounts of time and money in their  own columns.    But my Cook and Clean genes have been in overdrive.  And I can feel the Becky Home-Eccy in me taking over.

My keen sense of smell had me in a frenzy again on Sunday.  I woke up early, as I always do when I don’t need to actually go anywhere.  I read in bed until  7:45 when my “Take Vitamin” alarm went off on my phone.  I realized I should probably go upstairs and make sure Em was still alive.    As I ran up the stairs I had the “I smell CAT PEE” shakes.  I hoped it was the litter box with a fresh deposit.  But as I hit the top of the stairs I knew I was wrong.  As soon as I stopped at the landing and looked towards the guest room I knew.

Before the “I smell CAT PEE” frenzy took hold I did open Em’s door.  To find her naked and cleaning her room. “What are you doing?”

“Well, I woke up really early and I figured if I cleaned my whole room right away it would make you really happy.  And then we can just do fun stuff the rest of the day.”  Girl after my 0wn heart.  Her room was damn near immaculate.  But  even a total lack of legos on the floor, even all dress up clothes in the toy box, all markers in their box WITH lids was not enough to stop the CAT PEE frenzy.

A month ago it was on our bed.  Cat pee.  But maybe one of the cats got locked in the bedroom?   Last week it was cat pee on the couch.  But it was on a quilt, and easily washed, and perhaps since I had stopped nagging MQD about the  litter box it hadn’t been dumped this week?  And now it was in the guest room.

I turned to go back down the steps and stopped two steps down to open the window at the top of the stairs.   I sniffed and dropped to my knees.  And smelled CAT PEE.  On the landing. When you are pregnant and already striking the pose of a keening old woman it is tempting to throw your arms in the air and begin to wail.  I mean, in case anyone was filming a Lifetime movie about this poor woman and the CAT PEE I really ought to give them their money shot, right?   But I’d have had to bury my head in my arms.  On the cat pee carpet.  And I just couldn’t be bothered  Lifetime movie or no.

At first I was furious.  And then I thought we’d just have to bring another litter box upstairs, if Stan can’t make it down the steps.  And then I was broken-hearted.  If you’re not following along at home, it was a mish mash of  Kübler-Ross’ Stages of Grief.  The last being acceptance.  My sixteen year old cat that bites.  That has never been particularly friendly.  But that has lived with me in every home I have had since I was 20 years old.

She is unpleasant, as she has always been.  But she has never peed in the house.  I think it might be Time.

So, hours later, after the purchase of rubber gloves and oxy-clean and Spot Shot and Arm & Hammer carpet sprinkle…. I laid down on the carpet next to that damn cat.  And then I cried like an old woman at an Irish wake.

Stanley and I reminisced.  About the late nights on Mount Vernon Avenue in Williamsburg.  And the time she scared my roommate, Greg B, so badly that he actually called out in the middle of the night for someone to rescue him from her.  I reminded her about that creepy puppet I kept in a cabinet that she hated.  She’d stare at the cabinet for hours. Switching her tail back and forth.     We laughed about how she hid for almost two weeks in our master bedroom closet when we moved to the beach and how she hid again when we brought Em home from the hospital. I apologized for letting Fish chase her when he was a pup.  But it was so damn funny to watch her big, fat ass hiss at his tiny floppy puppy face.  And I apologized for the laser pointer shenanigans. Because that’s just really not a very nice game.

As we reminisced I realized that there isn’t much in the way of memories in the last few years.  She comes out from under the bed every now and again to holler at the youngins.  Hiss at Fisher.  She jumps in bed with Em on occasion.  But that is likely all the human touch she gets.  Since we don’t tend to hang out much under the guest room bed.

I assumed she came out to eat when we weren’t home.  Or rather I’d been hoping she was eating.  But lying on the floor surrounded by the Lysol cat pee smell I knew what I was looking at was the end.  And she bit me on the face.  And it made me laugh.  God damn that cat.  I never really liked her, even as a kitten, and now she was making me cry.

So, the latter half of the weekend we talked to Em about death.  She wants to have a party for Stan.  With cat treats.  And give her extra snuggles.  The strange conversation we had about how when someone is really, really old they  can die “any minute, right before your eyes”  is perhaps worth writing down.  But I can’t now.  I need to go ahead and call the vet while I am already crying about that god damn cat.

Stan, you’ve been my “god damn cat” for almost sixteen years.  You have seen a lot. Heart break, marriages, divorce, birth.  You have not consoled me on one single occasion.  But I knew you were around.  And I guess I got used to the idea.  That you’d always be around.  I kinda thought you’d just live forever.  It’s not the first time being wrong about something has made me cry.

Sitting in my lap on the floor in the guest room, Em put her arms around my neck and kissed me. “Mommy, we can get another kitty cat, another little girl cat.”

And with big fat heavy tears of sadness rolling down my face I hugged her back and said “Oh, no, honey.  Mommy hates cats.”

I’m gonna miss you Stanley Manley.