Tag Archives: doula

It takes one to know one.

I have had a dozen half written blog posts in my head for the last few days and little time to sit down and write them.  As we fall in to a routine as a family, as I slowly return to my job and try to figure out how I will begin working from home, as I try to take whatever extra time I have and pour it in to Emily June…. writing, the most “selfish” thing I do is the first thing to fall by the wayside.

But I have to remind myself that it is the writing, the processing, the churning through my emotions  and finding words to express them that has gotten me to this place where I feel so capable.  Capable of being a wife, a mother of two, a full-time employee and still be me.  I am finding the time to shower.  To eat.  I need to remember that it is the writing that makes me feel sane.

So here I sit.  Trying to churn out a blog post that can follow my birth story.  The support, the comments, the emails that I have received have left me feeling that way that a woman often feels when she receives a compliment. I’d like to shrug it off.  Or make a sarcastic and self-deprecating joke to deflect.  But I can’t.

Because I am proud of myself.  And oddly… As excited as I am about this experience I’m having a hard time taking all the credit for it.  Because it isn’t my birth story.  It’s Lucy’s.

My mom always says that you can’t take credit for your kids successes or blame yourself  for their failures.  This is the single best piece of parenting advice that has ever been handed to me.  When you boil it down it is a simple sentiment.  Do the best you can. That’s it. The rest is on them.

I assembled the right team.  I can be proud of that.  I prepared myself mentally, emotionally and physically for the labor and delivery I had hoped to have.  I can be proud of that.

But at the end of the day…. the beautiful, happy, healthy girl and her arrival in to this world…. that is the beginning of Lucy’s story.  And only a very small part of mine.  So, I’ve spent some time trying to  figure out what exactly I did that day.

Sweet Lucy Quinn, I have told your sister that she made me a mother.  I have told her this since she was small, thanking her for giving me the title for which I am the most grateful .  While pregnant with you I would tell her that as hard as it will be to share me with a sibling she must never forget that no one will ever take away her claim to being the one that made me a mom. Emily June made me a mother.  And I was proud of that.  I am proud of that.

But you, little Lucy, you made me know in my heart of hearts that I can do the tough stuff.

I walked away from my life once.  And it was tough.  But I had to.  I did it for Emily.  She gave me the strength and the courage to do that.

But this hard thing, this unmedicated birth, it was my marathon, my Iron Man, my mountain climb, my backpacking trip around the world.  While I believe there is sufficient evidence to prove that an unmedicated birth has benefits to the baby, that was not my motivation behind choosing this path.

I just wanted to know that I can do hard things.  For me.    So while our  birth story might be just one day in my thirty-five years, it changed me.

Lucy, my sweet Lucy…. you’ve made me so proud.  Of me.  This is a tremendous gift you’ve given me.

Sweet Lucy Quinn, who burst in to the world with your fist raised.  You are a champ.  A fighter.  I can see it in your determined little scowl, the way you hold your head while you nurse. You’re gonna be one tough cookie, I think.

But so is your Mom.

Post Cards from the Edge

PostPartum Missives, maybe is a better title.  Only because Postcards From the Edge has already been taken.

I forgot a hundred things about being a new mom in the last six years. But I remembered one.  New moms put hormonal teenagers to shame.  I am out of my fucking mind.  Carrie Fisher style.  Crazy.  But lucid enough to know it. Carrie Fisher crazy without the booze.

But this time it has not taken me by surprise.  Four days.  I made it four days on virtually no sleep before I asked MQD to just sit by me.  He held my hand and I  wept.  First quiet, reverent, emotionally charged tears.  And then big, fat sobby, snot running down my face in to my mouth tears.  “What’s wrong, babe?”

“I have no idea.  I am pretty sure nothing.  I just started to cry and now I can’t stop. ”  MQD handed me some tissues and he sat back down next to me.

He sat back down.  And he held my hand.  And I smiled.  Because he sat back down.

Aside from a general state of crazy… the last few days have been unbelievable.  Eventually the weepy “I am so in love with this baby and my family is complete now” post will come.  But I haven’t had a chance to process all that yet.  Next week, after my family leaves, before MQD’s arrives, while Emily is in school and I can get my “stare at Lucy and contemplate my love for her” on it will come… but today all I have is some observations regarding my postpartum self.

Since my post regarding grooming was such a hit I figured I’d share this.  If you’ve ever ordered a draft beer  in a cheap pizza place then you will know what I am talking about.  The big mug arrives.  Oh, a frosty mug of beer.  Delightful.  And you pick it up to raise it to your lips and HOLY SHIT, you almost zing beer over your shoulder on to the backs of the people sitting in the booth behind you because it is so much lighter than you’d anticipated.

I climb in the shower yesterday, hair washed, face washed.  Listen for Lucy.  I hear quiet from the bedroom.  I picture MQD snuggling with our sweet girl in bed.  Drip, drip, drip go the boobs, no harm no foul.  We are in the shower.   I have five more minutes to shave my legs.  And I grab my razor, lift my foot up to the corner of the shower (where I propped my foot before I could only reach the side of the tub) and HOLY SHIT if I was a cheap plastic mug of beer I’d have been ass over head on my back in the shower.  Without the giant stomach to stop me,  body still hopped up on relaxin, the hormone that makes your joints limber for an easier labor….  I can damn near put my foot behind my ear from a standing position.  Stretch marks, stitches and a total absence of abdominal muscles makes this a much less appealing visual than it might have been at nineteen…but nonetheless, I had a smile as I imagined my post-pregnancy body… not too different from a cheap plastic mug of beer.  It’s no frosty pint glass.  But at least it’s beer.

Feeling rather full of myself I jumped out of the shower.  And took the first long look in the mirror. At 29, after Em was born I had high hopes.  Aspirations of bouncing right back to my pre-baby body.  This time, I know better.

Yesterday I pulled all of the super pregnant third trimester maternity pants out of my closet.    And I replaced them.  With the super comfortable elastic waist band pants of early pregnancy.  Elastic waistbands, we’re thick as thieves, you and me.

I’m not going to turn my back on you just yet.  We can’t stay friends like this forever. But for now… please take good care of my belly.  Do what you can to not let it fold over your elasticy goodness.  No one needs to see that.  And I promise to keep you covered with a tank top as often as possible, choosing to pull my boobs out the top of my shirt instead of lifting up my shirt to expose myself as an elastic pants wearer.

In the meantime, I will try to see past the stretch marks and the belly and the big black circles under my eyes.  And I will try to remember the wondrous thing my  body did for me less than a week ago.   You gave me my Lucy Quinn, body.   So I will give you a couple of months of elastic pants.  But just a couple.

A couple of years after Em was born  I had the pleasure of stumbling in to this website – The Shape of  a Mother.   I struggled with posting this picture today and then was reminded of the brave women that came before me, telling their stories.  Stories of birth and rebirth, of love and fear and shame and pride and all the emotions in between.

I have been honest about so much of this journey.  And this is where I am today.  Six days post-partum.  Weepy.  Joyful.  Falling in love a hundred times a day.

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

And Then We Were Four: Part Three

The final  parts of Lucy’s birth story are likely best told as a series of pictures in my mind.  Moments I thought I would never forget… my hazy memory of Emily’s birth tells a different story.  I’ll make some effort to put them in a narrative order… but that is the best I can do.

We took the room in the front of the birthing center, the same room I’d been in only twelve hours earlier.  Only at night it was different, quieter.  As we arrived and our bags were put down, cell phone chargers plugged in, I could not help but imagine that it would be in this room we would meet our baby.  These people…. these were the players.  Me, MQD, Erin, our doula, Sarah, the midwife and Missy, a kind and gentle nurse on call for the evening.  Later that night I would laugh between contractions, laughing to cover my embarrassment and apologize for what I feared seemed a rude question and ask Missy why she was there?  “I know you are not actually a scary person… but no one told me that there would be a nurse here the whole  time.  Is something wrong with me?  or the baby?  Is that why you are here? You’re scaring me.”  We all got a good chuckle over this, my being frightened by this addition to our cast of characters.

As we organized ourselves, each of us finding our place in the room I decided to change my clothes. I had a black nightgown, with a racer back that I had envisioned wearing for a while.  I pulled it on and realized it was backwards and started to giggle, pulling one boob out each side I said “So, I was gonna wear this, that’s cool, right?  A great nursing gown, too, right?’ It set a tone, showcasing my absurd sense of humor, in even the most reverent times.

Sarah checked me and I was six, maybe seven centimeters dilated.  Not as far along as I had hoped but lots of progress had been made since the morning.  She said that she thinks my water had ruptured up high in the amniotic sac, there was plenty remaining so there was no reason to be concerned about the baby.  I recall her telling me that we had plenty of time, and thinking, sure, loads of time, what’s the rush?

Shortly after we got to the birthing enter my contractions began to get closer together.  The experience of the stopping and starting of active labor was an incredible feeling.  The relief felt as each contraction ended, the way I could see it in MQD’s face as they peaked, the reflection of my own pain in his eyes and the strength I knew I had to endure them, these were all new experiences to me.

I have since told anyone that I have spoken to that the stopping and starting of contractions can be compared to only one other mind-altering, if not life-changing experience in my life.  In my wilder, younger days, as I sat in a hotel room after a concert with a handful of friends, looped on whatever was our pleasure for the evening, sweaty from dancing, all of us in our own mental spaces I can recall the moment when the trip was over and I’d blink my eyes.  And in that instant, I was back.  “Guys, hey guys!  Are you normal? I feel totally normal.  Is anyone else normal?”

As each contraction came to an end I’d revel in having my body back, my mind returned to me, all at the same time clinging desperately to the fleeting memory of the experience, knowing that I had experienced something while I was gone, something I wanted to remember forever.

This picture is everything that I wanted from this experience. My smile, MQD’s support, Emily’s pinkie blanket in my right hand.

My greatest weakness as an individual and as part of a couple is my struggle with asking for help.  And this experience was life changing in that respect.  To see and experience what I am capable of achieving if I am willing to lean on others, specifically someone who loves me, was empowering.  To experience that strength that comes when you need it most.

My contractions continued to escalate for some time, growing increasingly more difficult in their peaks, and slowly my need to entertain, to hold court, to make up for perceived weakness during those moments with a clever commentary during the time between contractions slowly waned.

It was during the first of one of these quieter moments that my water broke. Again.  This time I got to experience the rush of fluid that you see in the movies.  It was comic, nearly missing soaking Erin.

This was another moment that I could feel the energy of my own mind shift. My water had broken completely.  It was to time to get the baby out.   Shortly after this Sarah checked to see how dilated I was, at my request.  I was beginning to second guess my intuition.  What is an “overwhelming desire to push?” I have had a nearly overwhelming desire to meet this baby for weeks.  How would I know that this was the time when I could not fight the desire any longer?

I was only 9 centimeters, but feeling more and more like it was getting closer.  I was afraid that Em’s absence would hold me back.  That I’d not be ready to meet our baby until I knew she was here, the final players in our cast of characters.

MQD called Amy.  Or maybe it was Erin that called.  I knew they could get here within half an hour.  As soon as I knew they were on their way I started feeling more and more like I couldn’t wait any longer.  Sarah told me she could  help me, she could try to ease my cervix back that final centimeter if I felt like I needed to start pushing now.  Later, when my sweet girl was born with a head not unlike that of Megamind I would see that this early  pushing, the pushing that I felt had been wasted energy, it had been significant.  Moving Lucy down in my birth canal, it had also made for one hell of a bruise as I tried to squeeze the poor girl out a not quite open door.  Days later with her  perfectly round little noggin in the crook of my elbow as I type, I can laugh.  If I doubted my strength I need only look at those first few pictures of her.

Eventually the struggle of pushing before it was time became too much and both Sarah and Erin suggested I take a break, change positions.  I had been so certain that I’d want to labor in the bath but intermittently through this labor I was afraid of falling.  Off the bed, down to the ground, I just felt like my grasp on the planet was tentative enough, the addition of water seemed too much.  At one point, we started to fill the tub, but the sound was overwhelming.

Amy and Emily got to the birth center before I got up, I think. I know that Em came in, sleepy eyed and tentative.  She stayed through the duration of a single contraction.  And I told her that each one ended. And when they were over, I was okay.  I recall telling her that it was just like when we were at home.  Amy took Em out to the lounge area to watch a movie and I think that was when I started feeling like I needed affirmation.   I asked Erin to tell me what was happening, that I was okay.  I remember her saying “this is not like when you were at home, this is transition.”

It gives me goosebumps now to type it.  Transition.  The most difficult  part.  The last part.  The period of labor that comes right before pushing.  The hardest work is done now.  This is the time when it is officially “too late” for an epidural.  I was tired.  And frightened.  But in the back of my mind I knew then when she said that single sentence,  “This is transition,” I had this.

We’d done it…. part four.  

And Then We Were Four: Part Two

I spoke with our doula, Erin, shortly after three in the afternoon. She told me that she had class at the Durham Tech campus not far from our house that evening. She planned on stopping by and checking in on us shortly after seven.

The late afternoon passed slowly. I anxiously awaited contractions to begin. Emily, MQD and I sat side by side and hand in hand on the couch. We watched a movie, Fast Girl, about a girl that learns to drive race cars and we talked about how this would be the last time Movie Night would be just the three of us.

MQD said to me at one point “We are gonna have a baby in this house. It just hit me. I’m crying a lot right now. I just cried over Wizards of Waverly Place. Fisher is too ashamed to even look at me.” And we laughed.

We firmed up plans with Amy for the evening. Em would go to school in the morning if necessary. We would call her if things started progressing.

Some time between an early dinner and Emily getting ready for bed I started having fairly regular contractions. True to form, I timed each and every one on my iPhone. Seeing the numbers change as it averaged “all contractions” vs “last five” or “last three” I had to admit that things were progressing. Not unbearably. An uncomfortable 45 seconds or minute every five to seven minutes was more than tolerable. I’d not remembered this predictability. I could feel myself making a checklist of things to do during my next break. Give myself an enema. Put your bathrobe in the dryer. Run the vacuum. Empty the dishwasher. One task at a time we got closer to “ready.”

When Erin called just before seven I assumed she would stop by and say hello. Go home and tuck in her kids. Rest, maybe. Early labor with Emily was a long day of movies and worrying and I’d not imagined this would be different.

When Erin arrived I noticed my contractions slow down for a short while. I told her about how I had felt that after my visit with Maureen I was emotionally ready in a way I had not been yet. That my water breaking felt very mind over matter.

In the moment I did not connect the dots. But hours later it was obvious that my contractions began as soon as I knew that Erin was close by.

We laughed a lot. Told stories about our kids. Took the chance to just get to know one another. The more comfortable I became the stronger my contractions became.

At one point I can recall rolling forward off of the ball and falling to my knees, in quiet tears I said matter of factly “I do not like this. I am NOT comfortable.” and seconds later I was laughing. Not comfortable? No shit? You don’t say?

Erin said more than once that this would be a fun labor.

Eventually I connected the dots between an event and with what I perceived as the next stage of labor. Maureen told me I was ready and my water broke. Erin was near by and my contractions began. She was with us in our home and they progressed.

Shortly before ten I felt like I’d not see any more progress until I was at the birthing center. Mike called and spoke with Sarah, the midwife on call. He passed me the phone and I tried to keep my head screwed on. Eventually I had to say out loud “I know you’re just keeping me on the phone until you can hear me… Here we go….” and a little over a minute later I said “So, that is pretty much where we are. Every three or four minutes. We will be there soon.”

Amy came over and we woke Emily. I asked Em if I could take her pinkie blanket and I kissed her goodbye. And we piled in the car. Still clutching my iPhone contraction timer I started doing the math. A fifteen minute drive should be no more than seven contractions even if they started getting closer. I counted the first few. Chatting with Mike between the rest. He pulled up to the door to drop me off, parking spots only fifteen feet away I cried out “No, park the car. I’ll walk. I don’t want to be away from you.”

He came around and opened the door and helped me out. Slowly we walked away from the Maternity Parking spots I had driven by the last nine months and it dawned on me that we would come back to the car with a baby if all went as I had hoped…. part three.

Miss Lucy Q

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.


Pink, for mild concern

I am in the market for a pink “MILD CONCERN” button.  It seems I am hard wired to reach for the bright red PANIC button.

Two situations came to a resolution this morning.  Both of which have had me near tears for the last twelve hours.

Two weeks ago at my midwife’s visit they told me that I seemed to be “measuring big” and that I “might have excess fluid” but not to be concerned yet.  They’d check in two more weeks and then maybe schedule an additional ultrasound.  As much as I’d love to see this baby one more time before I hold it in my arms my poor little third trimester/moving/daughter starting new school heart can’t take the worry that scheduling an extra ultrasound would cause.

They told me I had no cause for concern.  Yet.  Knowing full well it was a terrible idea –  I googled.  And I found that nearly all of the time it is nothing.  But when it’s something?  Well, then it could be an increased risk for still birth or a zillion other equally rare and horrific somethings.  So I did my best to try not to worry.  We had the closing on the house to worry about.  And packing and unpacking. (“Town to town, up and down the dial…” I can not say that, packing and unpacking, without hearing the WKRP theme song.)

But when I did think about it… the red PANIC button was right there.  Whispering sweet nothings and saying “push me, push me, you know you wanna…”

Predictably I seem to be measuring just fine as of this morning’s appointment.  Baby D is good.  Mom is good.  Last night’s meeting of the doula was fantastic and I can breathe a big sigh of “holy shit we might actually have a healthy baby and everything will be just fine” relief.

The last week has been a whirlwind of moving and unpacking.  MQD and I are so lucky to have had a bunch of help from our parents. It’s funny, but the moments in our lives that are the most “grown up” – pregnancy, the wedding, a home purchase, are the moments when we need a parent the most.  So we can take off the grown up hat for a second and shrug our shoulders and say “I don’t know?”  We have been in our house for seven days and last night was the first time we have been there without parental supervision.

I was meeting MQD at the doula interview so it was just me and Em when we got home.  Quick dinner, shower and we’d be  back out the door.  Or so I thought.  I got home and tried to turn on the heat.  Nothing.  No problem.  We can deal with that.  Maybe it is just the thermostat?  I’ll turn on the gas fireplace.   No.  I won’t.  Pilot is out.  Suddenly 58 degrees inside is starting to feel like an icy tundra.  I really didn’t want to ruin this evening.  Em can jump in the shower.  I’ll make dinner. We will make it to the doula appointment.  And I might just be flakey, MQD can look at the thermostat when he gets home.

Em skipped a shower on Halloween.  It was a late night.  So last night’s shower was lengthy.  And steamy evidently.  I no sooner had the water boiling for pasta when the smoke alarm outside the upstairs bath started beeping.  Not a problem.  Run up the steps and pull down the smoke detector.  But as I get to the top of the steps I discover the smoke alarms are wired in to the alarm system and soon the whole house  is beeping like a bomb in Die Hard.  I can feel the pregnancy rage building.  I am freezing, the house is beeping.  Loudly.  And like clock work Em starts to cry.  “Is there a fire?!” She is standing in the hallway, wet and soapy.  And cold.  “NO!  Get off the carpet, get back in the shower!!”

I run back down the stairs to turn the water down before my pot boils over.  Fish has jumped on the back of the new couch and begun to bark.  Now I am cold.  And my water is boiling.  And the alarms are beeping.  And so help me we are not eating fast food again tonight.

The alarms stopped beeping. 45 minutes later.  And we ate spaghetti.  And we got to the doula interview a few minutes early.  And I made Emily sleep in bed with me because that kid is like a heater box.

And this morning I reached for the PANIC button again.  I called a project manager at work and got the number for the HVAC guy.  He was going to come out this afternoon.  And then I called my mother.  She asked me “Are you sure you don’t have gas heat?”  Duh.  Yes, of course I am sure.

While I was on the phone with her my friend, the project manager called me back.  “I am sure you’ve thought of this, Kelly… but are you sure you don’t have gas heat?”

So I took my hand off the PANIC button and I called the natural gas company that services our area.  “Yes, m’aam, we service that address.  Gas heat, gas fireplace and gas for your water heater.”

Great.  While I was freaking out last night, Em was using the vast majority of the hot water.  And our “god damn heat pump, what the fuck else can go wrong in our new house on 0ur first night here just as a family” well we just need to call and get our gas turned back on.

It sounds perverse to say that I should probably spend the evening looking for my pink button.  And even more profane if I mention I should do it in my daughter’s room that resembles a bordello in the evening.  But really, I should.

I need to learn to go from calm, cool and collected to a state of pink, one of mild concern.  Calm and cool right in to red, hot PANIC is no good for me or anyone around me.

This morning I saw a terrific bumper sticker.  “I wish Morgan Freeman narrated my life.”  I laughed all the way to work.  If he did he’d be doing a rendition of the old Time Life “Mysteries of the Unknown” commercials that ask the questions about whether or not something is a coincidence or a strange and inexplicable phenomenon.   “A woman burns herself on a hot pan and 600 miles away her twin sister’s hand begins to blister.”

Only instead of the Time Life guy it was Morgan Freeman.  “As she drives on toward work with a smile on her face she can’t help but chuckle.  Her baby is healthy.  And her heat?  Well, it was no coincidence she had lost gas to her fireplace and heat on the same day.  On the first of the month, no less.  Well, how about that? I do believe the world’s not gotten the best of her yet.” And the scene would fade to black. Me, laughing at my tendency to overreact.  Fisher’s head out the car window, smiling.

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!”