I had a total lightning bolt, epiphany moment today. I was taking part in a couple of wonderful conversations in one of my favorite private Facebook groups. One beautiful mama is struggling with postpartum depression. The love and support that flowed from the other women was almost palpable. And it came up more than once how we all wished we were closer so we could physically help this mother instead of just give her "virtual" support. The word "tribe" and "commune" came up and I was moved to tears.
I know that very recently I put forth the idea that maybe parenting isn't all that hard, and that we make a lot of the difficulty ourselves. I still think that is true. But I also think that parenting - especially mothering - is really, REALLY hard in the modern world. Especially in the first months and years when our babies are tiny and depend on others for EVERYTHING.
A few neighborhood friends had babies recently and we chatted a few times in the first few months. Most of them were not first-time moms. One couple admitted that they questioned their sanity in adding another person to their family. I could completely understand where they were coming from. I flat out told the mom that the newborn months are all about survival. Especially when you have older children. It's just the truth.
I have had a refrain in my head lately and it is, "The way we live is just not natural." We long for our tribe. I remember saying those exact words to my mother on the phone when Gerry was a newborn. I have a dream of starting a commune with like-minded families. It's like my own personal utopia. Let me tell you, I have not found a mom yet who thought I was crazy for this idea. Every single one of them either wants to sign up and join my commune or says, "oh yeah, I've thought of joining one too!"
Men seem to be a little more hesitant. And I really think it's because they don't sense the urgency of our need. I know my husband doesn't. And here is where a positive attitude may actually be detrimental. Because I *do* love my life and have really embraced every step of our path so far, it's difficult for my husband to understand the depth of my need - for sisters surrounding me and other children mingling with ours. For someone to talk to. For more hands to help with food and other everyday activities. For camaraderie. For the natural flow of sharing life with others.
I love the neighborhood we live in now. And we've been building up our own support network here: people to check in on our cats when we're away, and friends who bring me soup when I'm sick, lots of neighborhood kids that we play at the park with and have awesome parties with, a neighbor who is like Marisol's third grandmother. And I've learned a lot about how I can build up a supportive network - mostly by giving myself. Because the more I give the more I receive in return.
Ideally we have our "tribe" established before we have children. People who live close to their families often already have a great foundation. But many women (and some men) find themselves very lonely when they bring home their first (or second, or third, or...) baby. Perhaps it is because we are so busy reveling in our freedom and independence when we are young adults and first married. I know I loved our first few years of marriage. We explored, traveled, shopped, worked, played, and relished our time together, just us. We got to see the world through our eyes as a new family. It was wonderful.
Then BAM. We had a little baby and a whole new world opened up before our very eyes. We were responsible for this new little soul, who was completely dependent on us - and it was overwhelming and a little scary. When our first was just over one year old, we moved away from both of our families and struck out on our own. I was without a tribe.
This is true for so many mothers. They are home alone with 1 or 2 (or 5 or 6) children with very little support.
So I was thinking through all of these things this morning when it hit me.
At a time when many mothers (or fathers) are really needing help themselves, children are pushed to be "independent" before they are ready.
Whoa. There *has* to be a link there. Subconsciously how many moms are realizing they just can't do it all alone... and then they turn around and try to make their kids do "it" (whatever "it" may be) themselves? The lack of support given to mothers becomes a weight that is shifted to children, as we all try to cope with our (relatively) new "nuclear" way of living.
And as quickly as this realization came I also knew that until we support our mothers the way *they* deserve to be, kids will not get the lives they deserve.
Does this resonate with you at all? Please let me know what your thoughts are in the comments!
The phrase "Me Time" irritates me.
It seems like such a selfish term: "Me Time". In my opinion this mentality pits you against anyone getting in the way of you getting your "Me Time". Usually the people "competing" with your "Me Time" are your closest loved ones - for moms, most often their children.
I'm not suggesting that we don't take care of ourselves. And goodness knows many women and mothers have reputations for putting others' needs ahead of their own far too often. But if I've learned anything as a mother, it is that the more I can be creative, flexible, and kind, the more likely everyone's needs will get met. In my personal experience, "Me Time" mentality makes me rigid - as in: I have this idea in my head about how I'm going to get some time and space to myself and gosh-darn-it, I want my "Me Time" now, and if I don't get it then NONE of us are going to be happy! (hmmm, I wonder where that phrase, "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy, came from?! Guess we kinda created that doozy ourselves!)
This "Me Time" idea is so common now that everyone knows what it means. To me it is a "band-aid" solution to a deeper problem in our culture. For example when we get "Me Time" we often end up just wanting more. I have two theories about why this happens: 1) We didn't really respect others' needs while trying to get our "Me Time" and so when we are back to "Not-Me-Time" everyone is out of sorts. This leads us to feel like we need to get away... AGAIN. AND NOW! And/Or 2) Because we've put our own needs off for so long waiting for special "Me-Time" when we get it, it isn't nearly enough!
So I propose a new paradigm (I like new paradigms). We need to start cultivating a true, deep, and constant Self-Love for ourselves. When we do this we will start to have better Self-Care. Self-care means taking care of your needs all the time, or at least as soon as you can. It means taking loving care of your body by taking the time to spruce up, feeding yourself nourishing foods, and moving (If this sounds like a fancier version of New Year's resolutions, I promise you it's not. When true Self-Love is nourished, you will start doing these things automatically). Self-care is getting enough rest and slowing down -when you are feeling tired, before you get sick. Self-care is connecting with your loved ones every day in ways that are meaningful to each individual, and thriving on the energy this creates. It means if you need time and space to yourself, you work to create it in ways that respects others' needs for you to be around - because they love you and depend on you for comfort and security.
This may sound the same as what you think of as "Me Time" - but in my experience they are not. They are vastly different philosophies. I know some people are impressed with my ability to go without "Me Time" (are you annoyed with that phrase yet?!) - but it's really not that remarkable and I know others, like me, who spend almost all their time with their kids. I've learned to adapt and meet my needs in ways that don't usually require separation.
And, as my kids get older I am getting more time to myself. It's actually one of my things on my list of 12 - a date with myself (got that from the book The Artist's Way). So please, do take care of yourself. But do it in a way that not only nourishes you, but those around you - it's way more fulfilling and instead of your energy getting quickly zapped to nothing again, you will be revitalized to the point of having your energy overflow. LOVE YOURSELF, it's good for you and everyone around you.
ps If you like or use the phrase "Me Time" I still like you. I just don't like the phrase. :-)
pps I'm not REALLY irritated... because that wouldn't be very ZEN of me, would it? It's more like the phrase causes slight ripples on the smooth as glass water surface of my mind (is anyone else laughing yet?!), and then I look at the ripples with interest and curiosity.
Do you have a story about when you tried to get some "Me Time" and it didn't work out the way you were envisioning? Or how about a time when you were creative about meeting your needs and felt great about how you handled things?
This morning I read an article, "Jealousy, Judgment, and Motherhood," and I got all worked up about it, and even got permission from an old friend to write about her, and now here it is 11 pm and I'm having a hard time getting the flow going. I even started once and lost what I had written, which may be a blessing because I didn't really like it. So as I lay in bed helping kid #2 fall asleep, I thought about what I wanted to say, and how I could get my point across in the kindest and most interesting way. And I realized that I really just needed to tell my experience and what I've learned. I don't need to get preachy or philosophical because I believe the message will shine through the story.
My story begins in the 6th grade. Actually it may begin even earlier than that, but I have a really crappy memory, so we'll begin there. I have one very vivid memory from that year. I was in the girl's bathroom washing my hands and one of my teachers was beside me also washing her hands. And she said to me, "Susan, I just know that you are going to be something really wonderful someday, like a Doctor or a Lawyer." That's it. That's all I remember. I don't remember what I said back, but I'm sure I nodded or smiled because I've always been pretty agreeable and polite.
But even then something about it struck me wrong. And I remembered it for many years.
Fade out. Fade in to middle school study hall with my best friend since kindergarten. We're giggling and passing notes. The main topic of said notes are, "I want a boyfriend SO. BAD!"
Cut to my Senior year of college. I'm crying on my bed and my boyfriend (Mike!) is trying to comfort me. I'm so confused and anxious because even though I'm am closing in on graduating I still don't know what I want to "do". I cry to him, "I just want to get married and have kids!" He reassures me that it will be ok and things will work out, but I know he thinks I'm a little bit crazy. (haha)
In college I started out as a math major but quickly switched to Brain and Cognitive Science when I couldn't get all "A's" in my math courses. I was an intern for a researcher at the hospital one semester, and also in a couple of labs on campus. I considered research and going on the medical school. But none of that felt right.
I was so incredibly lucky my senior year to have an amazing Professor who encouraged me. I told him how "everyone" thought that since I was "smart" I should be a "doctor" or something like that. This wonderful man advised me to follow my heart and told me that we need "smart people in all professions". So after school I pursued my teaching degree. (I have to also give major props to my mom here. She has always supported me in whatever I decided to do. And deep down she really just wanted me to get married and have kids too. ha.)
Teaching was an incredible learning experience for me. But I'm forever indebted to my daughter for coming along and giving me a reason to leave - almost entirely guilt-free. I was good at teaching and my students and I had great relationships, but it was not "my (final) calling".
After Marisol was born, I just looked at her and thought, "All I have to do for a long time is take care of you!" I felt an incredible sense of freedom. I couldn't believe how lucky I was.
And so began the most life-changing, life-affirming journey of my life. It's still going, and I imagine it will until my time here is up.
But this is not the end of my story. Since Marisol was born a little over 6 1/2 years ago I have learned a lot. There has only been one stretch of time, from the time Gerry was born until he was about 9 months old, where I was not "working" in some form even though I would classify myself as a full-time stay-at-home-mom. When Marisol was just 6 weeks old I started babysitting a little girl. Why? Because Mike had big plans to go to business school, and I wanted to build up my reputation as a good caregiver so I could nanny while he was in school. I think I knew before Marisol was born that I was not going back to the classroom, but once she was here I was sure. I wanted to be with her for as long as possible.
And it worked! When we moved to Washington DC I found an amazing family whose little boy was almost exactly the same age as Marisol. And they lived about one mile from where we lived. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect work situation.
They quickly became like family to me as I adjusted to living in a new city and being away from my own family for the first time. The mom, Ida (pronounced: "Ee-da"), and I were (and are!) about as different as you can imagine. Ida is a Doctor and went back to work soon after the births of both her boys. What was amazing to me that year, as I helped take care of her son, was how well she handled working and being a mother. She never showed insecurity or jealousy about my relationship with Nils. She never agonized over whether she should be working or not. And when she came home she was joyful to see him and jumped right in to playing with him. I still remember them laughing together.
Ida and I talked a little bit about this modern "motherhood/work" phenomenon, and how so many women struggled with it. It seemed that we were in the minority of women who really embraced our choices. Even though Ida and I were very different in our parenting and lifestyle choices, we had a great relationship. I have always admired how she embraced her life and her choices instead of constantly second-guessing herself or letting feelings of doubt or guilt into her life.
And my own journey was still barely beginning. I continued to care for two other children through Mike's second year of school and while I was pregnant. After Gerry was born I was happy to "just" be home with the kids for a while.
In the spring of 2010 I tried tutoring for a company called "Tutored-by-a- Teacher" but never really got too into it. Then that summer I decided to look into becoming a childbirth educator and that is when Hypnobabies came into the picture. Since becoming certified and starting to teach I really feel like I've hit my stride. Not just as a "mom" or as a "teacher" but really as a human being.
That's my story, my history... So what do *I* think is the main take-away from all of this?
1) There is no such thing as "just" a "teacher," or "mother," or "housewife," or any other job, vocation, or calling.
2) Sometimes we know what we really want (as I clearly did from the time I was a young girl) but our inner voices are completely drowned out by the messages that we are receiving outside of us.
3) Women (and men!) need to get clear on what they want. And not just what they want, but how they want to feel.
Talking about wanting to "have it all" is just a catch phrase that we've adopted since having more choices available to us. But the truth is NO ONE can have it ALL. Luckily for us it isn't necessary to have it all to live happy, fulfilled lives.
We are fortunate to live in a time when many women have more choices than their grandmothers could even dream about. But more choice is also confusing and even paralyzing sometimes - heck, I can't even pick out what toothpaste I want at the grocery store these days. It's not surprising that figuring out what you want your life to look like, when the possibilities are even longer than aisle 15, and the choices much harder than baking soda or fluoride, has more than one woman awake at night worrying over whether they're making the right choices.
It's a wonderful time, but it's also a little chaotic and messy - like we are reorganizing our whole house in one day.
I am so grateful that I was able to process and clear my confusion up at relatively young ages. I hope more women are able to work through their own so they can stop feeling judged, judgmental, and jealous. Then they will be free to feel supported and supportive, loved and loving. In this way, maybe our daughters and granddaughters will have even more freedom and less confusion than we have today.
I do know that it has to begin with loving yourself. It sounds so cheesy, but I cannot begin to tell you how transformative this truth has been for me this year. Love yourself and be kind to yourself whatever it is you choose. When you do this you will be able to offer more to everyone else in your life. Stop telling yourself that your life is so hard. And if it feels that way, start taking steps to make it feel less so. Stop letting others decide for you what's important to do. Decide how you want to feel, identify things that make you feel that way, then start doing them.
Make your life awesome. You only get this one and you're the only one who can do it.
Ok well let me begin by saying that my hands are clammy (yet cold) as I type this, and I certainly have some reservations about writing this publicly. But I'm also giddy and almost giggling out loud. AND I really believe that when we feel like we are about to jump off of something really high (like a cliff) and are trying to talk ourselves out of something... well that might be the most important time to do something.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't thinking (just a little bit) about what some people might think about this post. But I'm guessing (hoping?) the most scandalized (or judgmental) will be too embarrassed (or polite) to bring it up. And in the end there are bigger more important reasons for this post then myself and what others think about me. Besides, it's my blog... and they're my boobs, so there. (grin)
Deep breath. Ok so here we go.
I took a shower this evening. It was necessary - it had been a couple days. And as I looked in the mirror I looked at my breasts and I thought, "I love my boobs. I wouldn't change one thing about them... I wouldn't 'enhance' them (even if my husband might like that), or erase the stretch marks, or take them back to their pre-nursing days..." Ok, well I didn't think *all* of that, but it was more like, "I love my boobs, I wouldn't change them" and then I just *felt* the rest.
So then I wrote some more in my journal a bit later thinking maybe *some day* it would make a fun blog post. Here is some of what I wrote:
My breasts have helped feed my babies for 6 1/2 years now - for 1-2 years they alone kept them alive.
I couldn't make this stuff up if I wanted to! Kids are so funny.
Back to the deep thoughts (about boobs). I was thinking as I showered how weird it is that in our culture we are all worked up about breasts. I mean it is skin. They're part of our body. And they do something really amazing. In a way, I kind of wanted to put an actual picture of my breasts in all their glory at the top of this post. But I'm not quite there yet (and as it is, my husband may think I've lost my mind!) But really, it's just so mind-boggling to contemplate how our culture regards breasts, breastfeeding, and women's bodies in general. And women want to change themselves all the time. Why?!
So this is my way of fighting back. With my boobs. Some may think I'm looking for attention (by using my well-loved, very-used mammary glands) but really this just struck me out of the blue tonight. And I'm going with it.
And now I'll probably go to bed and not get any sleep because I just posted for the world to see that I love my boobs. And I'll wake up to find that everything is just going on as it always does... but that's ok.
I hope some day all women can love their bodies for the amazing, wonderful, life-giving and sustaining entities that they are. Love your boobs ladies. They deserve it.
For those of you wondering, "who's that?!" Gerard Walker is Gerry's full name. As I did with Marisol's birth story last spring, I'm using my journal to write his birth story now - over 3 years after he was born! I'm sure glad I took the time after his birth to write some things down. I've also added a couple of "Hypnobabies notes" to give you my perspective now as an instructor.
Make sure you scroll ALL the way down to the end of this post, past all the cute pictures, to see what this week's give-away book is!
Here is some "stream of consciousness" about Gerry's birth - things I want to remember - in no particular order:
Thunder + lightning - here at home - more storms there (birth center) - a rainbow over the birth center (I didn't see it, but my parents got it on camera) - made me think that Gerry's birth was like the storm, and he was my rainbow at the end :)
The cable guy coming to our apartment that morning! I spent that hour or so in the shower while he did his thing... I remember Marisol poking her cute little 3 year old head into the room to reassure me, "he's almost done mama!"
Holly's (my doula) bike having a flat tire - she was still here within an hour and a half... Also I only knew Holly for less then 1 week before giving birth!
My water breaking in the tub - crazy feeling! Like something shooting out of me! And then it got CRAZY... I think he came out within 15 minutes or so after that. It was so intense.
Marisol in the room with Mike while I pushed Gerry out! Pushing him out on all fours - Gerry being passed to me through my legs and me getting to see him and proclaim, "It's a boy!"
More random thoughts:
"TIMING IS EVERYTHING"
I said this in the car on the way to the birth center... in between intense waves - in reference to Marisol sleeping - she had a solid 2 hour nap in the car - First Mike and she went to get my parents a parking pass, while Hollly was with me at home and she fell asleep. (Hypnobabies note: One of my anxieties/fears during the pregnancy was how Marisol would be taken care of during my birthing time. Two things were very helpful - the Visualization script - I imagined the time of day my birthing would start, how long it would last, who would be there, the help of my doula, and my parents arriving - it all happened almost exactly as I visualized! The second is the Fear Clearing track - it is an amazing way to let go of any worries and embrace whatever your birthing time brings.)
While they were gone Holly and I talked - I listened to the Hypnobabies a little - walked the hall with my phone tucked into my gym shorts waist band (My hypnosis tracks were on my phone)... I also lay on my side while Holly pushed/massaged my back. She did my upper legs a little too while I sat on the birth ball. I didn't use the birth ball nearly as much this time - I actually did lie down on my side a lot this time. Maybe because it was faster, maybe because of all my practice relaxing with Hypnobabies while I went to sleep.
While Holly and I worked together... this was when there was a storm... Holly mentioned that it made her think of good luck and I said I liked it too...
Holly thought we should call the midwives again to check in. I talked to Ebony... she said, "sounds like those contractions are kickin' your butt" or something like that (Hypnobabies Note: This is the kind of thing that we hope care providers avoid saying to mamas! The more your careprovider knows about hypnosis, expectations, the power of our minds etc. the better! Inform them so they know suggesting what a mother is experiencing is very powerful - so make sure to make those suggestions POSITIVE! But for the record, I LOVED Ebony and the other midwives, just noting this probably wasn't the best thing for me to hear at that moment!)
I replied something to the extent that, "nah, I'm tough..." I still wasn't sure if we should go in yet - it didn't seem like the waves were getting longer - they had been ~ 3 minutes apart for a while - but I still felt like I was "doing ok" through them.
This was key - Ebony asked if I felt any rectal pressure and I said no. She said if I was still working through them ok we could/should stay home a little longer/as long as possible.
I'm not sure how much longer it was, but it didn't seem like much longer... I told Holly I thought we should get the car packed up. I asked if they were closer or longer - and she didn't think so. I told her they felt different and she said I seemed more focused and they "sounded" different (I was feeling rectal pressure! I just decided not to tell Holly or Mike right then. I trusted my instincts, and as you will see it's a good thing we left when we did!)
I called Mike and he brought the car to the neighbor's driveway... He and Holly packed up and kept snoozin' Marisol company. Mike put Holly's bike on the car and we gathered some last minute things - we were prepared in every way except food, but grabbed some small snacks and O.J. that got us through until my parents arrived.
I knelt in the back next to Marisol - she stirred so I thought we should put a movie in. Mike wisely said she didn't need one. She proceeded to sleep the whole way to the birth center while I moaned through many waves next to her - not quietly I might add! Holly continued to massage my back as best as she could from the front seat - she was awesome (it was a packed car - we had a Prius then!)
I remember when we were almost there - on H st. - peeking out the window from my kneeling position. It was an interesting perspective - the world at an angle, the sidewalk and storefronts at eye-level and seeing lots of lights in the gray day. The images have stayed with me very clearly as part of my birthing time memories.
I shuffled into the birth center with the help of Holly, I think Mike carried Marisol. You could tell that people were happy and excited to see us... Ebony and Kandace took me to an exam room. Kandace was finishing her midwifery training and she did everything pretty much - she was great - calm and reassuring. She checked me and said she thought I was 7 cm, fully effaced (100%) and the baby was at zero station. I said something like "Thank the Lordy!" I was so happy.
I also mentioned that it doesn't necessarily "mean anything" because I was 7 cm when I arrived at the hospital with Marisol and still had hours before she came. Ebony said she didn't think so this time and I agreed. (Hypnobabies note: My two births demonstrate very well that WE DON'T GIVE BIRTH BY NUMBERS! In other words, the numbers/measurements never tell us exactly when baby will make their appearance. Also, I really did look forward to giving birth a second time because Marisol's birth was so beautiful and empowering. That being said, I did focus a lot on the affirmation that I deserved a fast, easy, comfortable birth - and it really was a lot faster the second time around! I'm sure there were many reasons for this - baby position and being my second-time too. But I know my relaxation and use of Hypnosis were also very helpful!)
Oh, also before they checked me I had a wave in the hall near the family room - I remember bending my legs a little - Ebony watched me closely and asked me after, "Are you pushing?" I answered with a definitive "No." but still hadn't mentioned the rectal pressure (I think it was more a subconscious thing at this point, I hadn't really recognized it consciously).
The time in the birth center went quickly - we were hardly there 45 minutes and Gerry was born (so I'm told!) They started a bath for me almost immediately... The bath took a while to fill up. Then it was too hot - so I sat by it naked for a few waves. Mike and Marisol were in the next room. I got in the tub and it did feel good at first. They even turned on the jets and Kandace and Ebony left.
Next thing I know my water broke during a wave - it was wild! And one of the most memorable moments. I heard it and it felt like a shot gun coming out of me... I was so surprised and told Holly right away and she went to tell Kandace and Ebony.
Within moments I was I was pushing and the midwives were there. "Can I stay in the tub? I'm pushing! Do you need to check me??" I think they laughed a little - No, if you're pushing it's ok! So I just realized, I only got "checked" one time!
Pushing Gerry out was fast and intense - completely opposite of my experience with Marisol. "Urge to push" does not even describe it - my body just took over. And the noises coming out of me - wow! I couldn't replicate it if I wanted to (although I try to in my Hypnobabies classes! haha) Marisol and Mike had to leave for a few minutes because it was too loud for her little 3 year old ears (I remember hearing her say, "it's too loud!") but they were back in the room to see Gerry make his grand entrance. I wanted to get out of the tub (I would have had him in the water if I wanted), so I made it to the bed and flopped on my side - pushed that way until the midwives suggested going on all fours - I also remember putting my hand down to feel Gerry's head.
Once on all fours I was pushing so hard they all were like, "whoa, slow down!" a couple of times and I was able to pant and slow down (afterwards they remarked how in control I was. It was a nice compliment, but I wouldn't say "in control" was exactly how I felt! I was just riding the birth super speed highway!) I could feel his head coming out but at one point asked, "What's going on?!" and Ebony was like, "you're delivering your baby!:
When he came out they passed him through my legs to me - "Take your baby!" - and I was the one who got to exclaim, "It's a boy!"
My parents arrived within an hour or so of Gerry being born which was good because we didn't have much to eat and I was STARVING. One of my favorite memories is eating a very soggy sub - they had left the sunroof on their van open during the storm (remember the rainbow?) Well, that was the best sandwich I ever had, rainwater and all!
We stayed at the birth center just about exactly four hours. Enough time for me to get cleaned up, for Gerry to get looked over, and to start nursing. We were in our own bed (ha! that's right, family of four - ONE bed!) that night by 9 pm.
The next day two midwives came to check up on Gerry and me at home. What a luxury!
And from there on out it was just us - settling into life as a family of four! Life is good.
There you have it! The birth of our little man, Gerry.
This week I'm giving away the book Journey Into Motherhood. It is an awesome book filled with inspirational stories of natural child birth. This was on our required reading list for becoming a Hypnobabies instructor, and is also on the recommended reading list that we give to our students. I highly recommend it to ALL expecting mamas (and papas!) whether you are planning a natural birth or not, because the stories are so beautiful and powerful. If you've never read or seen natural, empowered birth this can totally re-frame your perspective on birth. Changing your ideas and the images in your mind about birth is a huge first step towards having your *own* beautiful, empowered birth.
So please, leave a comment below if you'd like your name put in the drawing for my copy of this book! Also if you want to increase your odds - like my Facebook Page, share the link on Facebook, and share on your blog and I will put your name in 1 more time for each way you share (just make sure you let me know in the comment)! I will pick a winner in one week when I put my next give-away up!
This is going to be just a stream-of-consciousness type post - just some of the thoughts I've had swirling today.
After my post on Monday - which I stayed up quite late to finish before the "deadline" for Blog Action day - I've been thinking how I must be irritating some people by insisting that some parenting practices just aren't nice. And I have to admit it makes me a bit uncomfortable because I don't like making people feel bad. But then I thought, well hey, that's kind of good if someone's bothered by something I wrote, because that means that it got into their head and it's sticking there. Maybe it's like a little grain of sand that will rub until it turns into a beautiful pearl.
Tonight Marisol and I were reading Dr. Seuss' story about the Grinch and she said that she likes people with the Biggest hearts -then she looked right up at me and into my eyes and said, "I think you're one of them". Oh my goodness, did I melt and cry? Oh yes I did!
I don't write here to brag about how wonderful my kids and life are, or to show off how perfect and compassionate I am. Because although my kids are wonderful and I love my life, we're not perfect by any stretch of the imagination - we have meltdowns every day and I feel my heart contract and turn cold when she freaks out about something that seems insignificant to me. But we've been making a habit of saying what we're grateful for at night before going to sleep and tonight she said, "My life", and she keeps telling me in so many ways, and I just want people to know that they can have that too! I see a lot of hurting parents and kids and I just want them to know it doesn't have to be that way.
I feel a bit like I'm becoming "One-note-Nelly" and my monotone mantra is "Be Nice to your kids!" but I guess it could be worse. And I have some different stuff coming up soon that I'm excited about (how's that for a teaser? Stay tuned!) So in the near future I'll be a little bit less like a 1-Hit Wonder (although I'd be excited just to have 1 Big Hit at this point!)
I was messaging with an old friend a bit and talking about how writing here just fills me up in a way I never could have predicted. She mentioned that she's not surprised and it's a good way to connect with like-minded people. I guess it kind of is. But actually that was more what my "secret" blog was for - and Xanga is a great blogging community for that because you can search for specific things, like homeschooling, and then "friend" or follow people. Other great places for finding people you gel with are Yahoo groups - I've found international and local groups which have been great for inspiration and making friends in real life.
But again as I wonder why (wonder but don't question... it's too good to doubt it) I'm doing this - writing, sharing - why I've been able to keep it up so consistently for so long, I'm realizing that it's my way of living out loud. And it feels great.
When I saw the topic for this month's blog carnival I was stumped at first. "The Best Thing"... hmmm? What is the *BEST* thing? I've been pretty high on life for quite some time now, so to pick one thing seemed daunting. But then one night cuddled up in bed Marisol whispered to me, "I love my life" and I thought, now *that* is the best thing. Hearing my daughter say that she loves her life is such a beautiful affirmation for me and all of these "unconventional" choices that we are making. Hearing that she loves her life in spite of the fact that she is sometimes bored, and even though she has been having some rather intense emotions lately, well that to me is THE best thing.
It's even better than hearing her say she loves me every day, and better than hearing her say that I am the best mama EVER, or that "This is the BEST. DAY. EVER." The contentment that I can hear in her voice, the love that exudes from her, her excitement to plan a new week, and watching her learn new things every day makes every challenge worth it. Even better? I can honestly say that I can 100% agree and shout in unison with her, "I LOVE MY LIFE!"
Have you ever heard the general wisdom to not look at what a toddler eats in one day, but rather what they eat over a longer stretch, like a week? This is to reassure parents who feel like all their children want is one particular food or eat sweets nonstop. Usually you will be reassured when you see that they are getting a variety of foods and nutrients through their diet after tracking what they eat for a few days in a row, rather than focusing on one particular day.
This is how I feel about my life as a parent. It is so easy to fluctuate between the extremes of "Super-mommy!" and "super-TERRIBLE-mommy". For example, last weekend we threw Marisol a pretty awesome party for her 6th Birthday. In preparation we (and by we, I mostly mean *I*) painted two life-sized (well Marisol-sized) mermaids and an Atlantis-castle-under-the-sea mural. This took a few weeks. The party was a hit - we played pin the starfish on the mermaid's hair (everyone got a prize) and had mermaid trivia (that Marisol made up herself). So that was a pretty "Super-mommy" moment.
A neighborhood friend recently commented that I always seem to have a lot of energy. I laughed and said that's because that's when you see me - which is very true - the neighbors don't see me when I'm home curled up on the couch! This week I'm tired. Life has just been pretty hectic lately. Oh yeah, and I got my period again. So yesterday I just felt like a LUMP. It is so easy to let my mind go to thoughts of what a horrible mom I am - all Gerry does is eat candy, and Marisol is bored from sitting home and watching lots of TV. But instead I gave myself permission to rest without feeling guilty. I recognized that I am human too, with physical, spiritual, and emotional needs and remembered all of the amazing opportunities and experiences that I regularly facilitate for my children. Then I lay down on the couch.
Later we made it to the pool and Marisol played with a friend for an hour, splashing around and practicing her new swimming skills. Today was slightly better - we managed to play, clean, have a playdate and get outside this evening.
A week from Tuesday we are flying up to NY to visit with family. I know it is going to be a jam-packed, fun-filled couple of weeks. So I'm trying to remember that life's balance is kind of like looking at a toddler's diet - sometimes we have to step back to see that every moment has its place and feeds our life in different ways - the busy times and the quiet times, the tired times and the super-inspired energetic times. Instead of fighting how you feel in any given moment relax into it. Embrace everything and love yourself. Meet your needs and those around you the best you can. Know that when you do, you and your life will naturally flow on to its next state, whatever that may be.
This is the second part of the birth story of Marisol. You can read the first part here. I want to preface the rest of her birth story with a few thoughts. First of all, if any Hypnobabies students are reading this, definitely use your Bubble of Peace (BOP). Marisol's birth was long but completely endurable. It wasn't till the end that the intensity really felt painful and was a very small part of the whole experience. It is so amazing to read her birth story almost 6 years later. For one, I just know so much more about birth than I did then - even though I read numerous books and took an extensive childbirth class - it is just a lot to learn and assimilate in a relatively short time. Then there is the fact that I made a huge paradigm shift when I used Hypnobabies for my second birth and then became an instructor. It is strange to read my first birth and see the words "contraction" and "labor" instead of "pressure waves" and "birthing time".
But even though my perspective is different today, I would not change one thing about her birth. What isn't written here, as part of her birth, is how I felt in the days and weeks that followed her birth. I was literally on a birth high. I felt like Wonder Woman herself. I was so empowered by the experience that I literally could not stop thinking about it. I fell in love with my midwife and wanted to be her new best friend. I watched more births on TV in the weeks after than in the months leading up to Marisol's birth (there was a great show on at the time called "House of Babies - it was a birth center in Miami where many moms had water births). Basically it was the beginning of me becoming a "Birth Junkie".
But most importantly Marisol's birth began the journey that I am on today. She came into our lives and changed everything. I am so grateful for her and for everything I have learned from her. I tell my students that Birth is really just the portal. It is an important one to be sure, but it is the doorway to their new lives as parents.
Finally, a word of caution for those of you who may be "uninitiated" into the world of birth... I transcribed my story from my journal word-for-word - including references to bowel movements. I know that for some it may be "TMI", and so this is your warning. Even for myself ("Mrs. Share-All!"), it is pushing my comfort levels leaving it in there. But it is part of my story and it is *often* part of birth (don't think much explanation is necessary - just think of the force of pushing, the size of what women are pushing, and the placement... it's not a surprise that poop is often part of the equation!) What is interesting to me is that even in my own private journal I referred to it as "#2" - I couldn't even bring myself to call it what it is in there. I hope that as more women share their stories it becomes less taboo to share these things so women realize that such things are *normal* - to be expected and NOTHING to be ashamed of!
And with that said, I give you the rest of Marisol's birth...
On the way to the hospital I had 3 or 4 contractions. It was about 10:30 or 11 am when we arrived. Some of this I remember like I'm still there - some is a bit vague - I want to write details but not too boring...
I remember holding the garage elevator for Mary Ann but it didn't want to let us! Started making beeping/buzzing noises at us... I remember making it to the maternity "check-in" having to fill out paperwork and having a contraction there... I was definitely more inhibited in front of other people, like I would try not to be too loud... the secretary (nurse?) was actually talking me through it - "Just breathe through it" - I thought it was kind of funny/weird since Mike and Mary Ann were right there...
Then to triage - ahh... triage. I was definitely there longer than I expected. Mary Ann wasn't allowed in - they took her to the waiting area and then our birthing room. I had a contraction standing there waiting - just as Stephanie's (Mike's sister) friend Stephanie (also) who is a nurse appeared - then they gave me a gown - Mike came with me into the bathroom - I peed, put the gown and some underwear on - had another contraction - someone actually knocked! Then we went to an area curtained off - two nurses helped me there - they were young and nice. They put the external monitor on me and April showed up around that time - she said I didn't have to lie down which I was so relieved to hear because I had told Mike I didn't know how I could do 20 minutes in there.
So I could stand up for contractions - but then the paddles would slide off! So April or a nurse wold try to hold it so they could keep the baby's hearbeat. What a joke. They needed to see 3 jumps from baseline - 25 beats/minute or something like that.
April also checked me there - and I was 7 cm! ~80% effaced - Man I was so happy! Everyone was like, "what great news!" I remember April also commenting about how relaxed I was when she checked me...
Finally they let us go to our room - they had to hook me up again to get one more change in the baby's heart rate. I've never had my temperature and blood pressure checked so many times in my life either - through labor and all the next day for our stay. I remember having a contraction while a nurse was doing something - the EFM - and she didn't stop and I definitely felt more uncomfortable - I thought April looked annoyed.
April jiggled the baby around and finally got the last heart rate jump.
After that... I labored! On the birth ball - in the bub - on the toilet - I don't remember to many specifics of what I did. What I do remember is the people - how great they were, things they said, things they did for me... Mike was great. I was leaning of hanging on him all afternoon. He didn't say a ton but he gave me water, reminded me to go to the bathroom, kept me covered in the tub - and he never left!
The two nurses were great also. I think Louise (Grandma "Weezie"?) and Rachel was the young one - training. Louise kept telling me what an amazing woman I was - that she couldn't have done it... She told people outside too - and that she would have asked for something by then... Afterwards she told me that she had been present at many births and this was the most peaceful first birth she had ever been to... Rachel was great too.
And April - I have April on this pedestal right now - I was soo excited that she was on call - the 1 appointment I had with her was great - we talked a lot and I really liked her. She never pressured or rushed Mike and me - and she was present most of the day. She was so great!
And of course Mary Ann - our doula. She was also wonderful - massages, wash clothes, suggestions for different positions... we were both so glad to have her.
Another thing I noticed is that I hardly looked at the clock. Everyone thought we would have our baby by afternoon sometime since I was already 7 cm - we had Mary Ann go tell our families... but Marisol had other plans for us! I also remember that I never felt like I wanted to ask for drugs - I think I figured I had made it this long and it couldn't be much longer. Also I was very relaxed between contractions - I actually slept between them towards the end - at the bed and in the tub. I think I really felt confident about not needing drugs Saturday night (well actually Sunday morning 2-4 am!) When I was in the tub - I just realized - I can handle these contractions. I did well with breathing low "ooh" noises, and once they were over I wasn't in any pain.
I think I'll just list random things I remember from that afternoon-
- blue Popsicle, honey stick
- April saying, "I can't believe how with it you are between contractions!"
- Me telling Mike, "I still have to push!" (I was pretty tired)
- The worst contractions - on your back!
- Listening to music - Sarah McLachlan, Dave Matthews, James Taylor, Tracy Chapman
I think they were mostly surprised how "mild" I stayed - I never really got mean (with Mike for example) actually I said sorry to him at least once - and to Mary Ann when I leaned the chair back on her... I still was smiling between contractions when they told me how great I was doing - almost till the end.
I don't know what time it was - but I was starting to wonder myself - I wanted that "urge to push" to come! I was getting tired... no wonder with 2 sleepless nights! April decided to check me...
She said... you're about 8 1/2 cm (I'm convinced she added the 1/2 to make me feel better) I don't remember when... but soon after April brought up breaking my water (it had only broke partially - she could still feel it bulging) Also, Marisol was posterior.
I looked at Mike to see what he thought about breaking my water - he kind of shrugged his shoulders - I asked April if there were risks - especially with the umbilical cord - she felt that this far along and the head being so low, that it really wasn't a risk at all. I also asked if it would hurt and she said less than getting checked.
So she broke my water - I think she tried to turn the baby's head then - I'm not sure - she had me stay lying for a contraction so she could feel what was happening - but I can't remember if that was before or after breaking my water.
After my water was broken I tried different positions to "turn" the baby - "polar bear" (on the bed on hands and knees) and on the toilet. Those were some tough, intense contractions! I remember saying, "I don't like this position much" and on the toilet, "how many more do I have to do?" "Ok, I'll do a couple or 1 more" I think April was gone... I got back in the tub - I wanted to get to the pushing stage so bad! I remember also saying "This hurts!" but I never asked for drugs... The tub contractions were really tough - but it felt good in between - I couldn't relax or stay still during - I would basically say I was "writhing" I would grab at the side of the tub... I remember wanting April to come back because I kept saying I wanted to push - but I couldn't tell if it was an "urge" to push or just my wishful thinking - I think the nurse checked me at one point but I can't remember - that may have been earlier... I also remember feeling like I had to poop, and saying I think I had to throw up in the tub - they put the container in front of my mouth and I was pushing involuntarily at the end of a contraction. I remember Mary Ann saying these were all good signs - I don't know if that I believed her at that point! (I remember April and Mary Ann saying, "Stay with it" during these tough ones and although I still don't know how you do that - it helped me! Sports mentality I think :)
I actually fell asleep before the last contraction in the tub - They were all standing around looking at me! I thought it was pretty funny (I wasn't laughing at the time though) I vaguely heard April say something to Mike about me sleeping and a baby... then bam! The last contraction and I was rolling around! I think I was in transition at the time and the doubt was there... I wanted to push but wasn't sure - April checked me in the tub and said there was only a "lip" that I could push through.
So I got out of the tub - I think I wanted to - They asked if I cared to put the robe back on - I didn't care either way - I guess I did? (there's a picture of me with it on) at some point Mary Ann suggested the sports bra I had brought - I agreed - but found it humorous that I got naked in front of everyone to put it on.
We tried pushing in the bed - My urge to push wasn't strong - and sometimes I was pushing with my stomach instead of down low... April suggested moving to the toilet to help... I was glad to push there because I went to the bathroom (#2!) several times - It definitely helped me push correctly too. That part surprised me - I thought pushing would come very naturally - also my contractions spaced out a lot and weren't very strong... once again everyone was is the bathroom staring at me - this time on the toilet :) Everyone was so nice though - I made a joke about it smelling and blamed it on Mike - we flushed after every push - Mary Ann didn't get it (my joke) and April explained it to her... I also was very impatient during the pushing phase - I kept asking, "What's going on?" why were they so far apart? - April thought I was pretty funny about that - it was just so weird having everyone just standing around waiting for me to have a contraction! After 3 or 4 pushes I wanted to go back to the bed - I didn't want to continue on the toilet.
At some point Mike was on the bed behind me - I can't remember if it was before or after the toilet - but neither of us were very comfortable. I also tried with the bed propped up...
I think I was very tired at this point. I went #2 one more time - in bed! I thought I felt it but wasn't sure. April suggested a side lying position - when they helped me roll sure enough - more poop! But the nurses were awesome and it was cleaned up before you knew it.
It is amazing how none of this embarrasses you at this point. I knew it could (hence the joke in the bathroom) but didn't really care that much! Anyways - once I was in the side-lying position it went fairly quickly - April was motivating me by saying - let's see if this baby has hair! She said my pushes were very powerful and it wouldn't take many now (it took quite a few - but, hey I was tired!)
Pushing was definitely quite a feeling - April helped me a lot - she said it will burn and all that, but you will get mad! and push right through it. That helped me a lot! They had a big mirror for Mike and I to see (he was behind my head) - somehow I ended up diagonally across the bed - with my head almost off... They had me touch when just a circle of her head was showing... I couldn't believe how soft it was - April and the others kept exclaiming about all the hair!
The strangest was the head coming out then going back in... There were 2 or 3 pushes when I thought this one I get it out! But no... Almost but no cigar... Finally on the last few the head wasn't going back in or as much - I was like - "I don't know what to do! What do I do with my legs??" Everyone said just to relax - and I finally said, "I can't" or "It's hard to relax" or something and they said it's hard... Definitely very weird having a head stick out between your legs! Finally (they were holding my one leg up each contraction... each time I would be like... I think one is coming - and usually it was they were just so far apart and so gradual though! Very different from stage 1 labor contractions)
Finally her head crowned- April told me to rest (with some of the pushes I was shaking like crazy in between - I was grunting like crazy and turning so red too! April said it was ok) And then push - I didn't need a contraction...
She was pushing me down while I pushed and finally the head was out! Then it's kind of a blur - did they suction? (her nose - probably) her shoulders and body seemed to come out quickly - and the body coming out almost felt good - it just seemed so easy after the head!
They put her on me and there were hands all over her rubbing... someone asked "Mike what is it" he wasn't sure and asked, "Girl?" and someone confirmed, "It's a Girl!"
"The moment a child is born, the mother is also born.
She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new."
This post is another in my "Awakenings" series. I know I said before that Unschooling was my biggest awakening, but I was wrong (see I do change my mind!) Becoming a mother has been the most magnificent awakening of my life - it is just very different from the awakening I experienced when I discovered Unschooling. Finding Unschooling was like a lightning bolt hit me and because of it, things were switched in me that I couldn't switch back. What I mean to say is that it was a fairly fast transformation.
Becoming a parent on the other hand is a completely different kind of awakening. It happens slowly over time and it re-occurs over and over. Of course everyone knows and understands that becoming a parent changes your life, but you cannot know the ways or the hows or the whens and whys until they actually occur. I was trying to think of an appropriate analogy to describe parenting as a recurring, growing awakening and a few came to mind. Maybe it is like a wave that starts way out in the ocean, looking so tiny because it is so far away, then grows and grows until it finally crashes on the shore. (In this analogy, Unschooling would be a smaller wave overtaken and becoming part of the larger wave.) Or maybe parenting is like a snowball at the top of a hill, and as it rolls down it gathers speed and snow getting bigger and bigger as it goes (and unschooling was like a ramp that my snowball hit, catapulting me - well my snowball - high into the air for a short while). Ok, that one's not working for me so much.
Then I thought of sunrises and new days. I remember how when I was a teacher one idea that helped me so much was that every day was a new day and I got to start over. Parenting is like that. We are always having new realizations. But that wasn't just right yet. So I thought of a seed. And how when we are born we are like a seed, just waiting for water, fertile soil, and sunlight. And with time and these important resources we sprout and begin to grow, taller and taller. Maybe the seed is of a Cherry tree. Did you know that it takes most flowering and fruit trees several years to mature before they can bear blossoms or fruit? I didn't till I just searched for it now, to see how my analogy might work.
So we grow. The first time the Cherry tree blooms is what I think it is like to become a mother. (Trees apparently reach maturity and the age of discovery faster than we do. But they still have their childhood!) But every day the sun rises on that tree and the tree keeps growing. And it goes through many seasons - sunny, abundant, green summers; brisk, windy, rusty colored autumns; and cold, snowy, white winters. And of course spring again every year. Discovering unschooling was like one of those springs for me - the beautiful blooms seeming to appear overnight and lasting only a few short days. But motherhood is like the sun rising on that tree every day, and the seasons changing it every year, and its blooms always reappearing, even after the cold winter. It's what makes life so exciting and new even when every day you are doing normal, mundane things like the laundry and dishes. It's your kids learning something new or telling you that you are the best mama ever. It's the first time they say "I love you" or pucker their little lips to give you a soft, wet kiss.
So the arrival of Marisol truly was the beginning of a new life for me. It was the beginning of feeling I had a true purpose and passion in life. I thank her every day for this gift, the gift of making me a mama. I've been meaning to write out and post her birth story for quite some time, and the Monday after Mother's day seems an ideal time.
I have transcribed her birth story from my journal almost exactly - down to underlines and smiley faces - everything. The only few small changes I have made were to make the writing a little clearer (remember I was writing just days and weeks after having my first baby!)
So if you are into Birth stories I invite you to read. It's heavy on details, because I couldn't bear the thought of forgetting any, and therefore is quite lengthy. I am going to split it up into at least two sections for this reason. Before her birth story I want to leave you with a couple of paragraphs from an essay that really spoke to me. This mama has a way with words and it explains what my heart is trying to say.
Look at me, I have no idea what I'm getting into!
"When I did get back to me, I was gone. This is the thing that women don’t tell each other about motherhood. That you will never be who you were. That you will not see anything the way you used to see it, you will never hear language the way you used to hear it, music, color, photos, friends, family, career path–nothing or no one came through my transition from single woman to mother unexamined. Least of all myself."
"A new self did emerge. This is what women do not tell each other. I want to say it here: You will die when you become a mother and it will hurt and it will be confusing and you will be someone you never imagined and then, you will be reborn. Truthfully, I have never wanted to be the woman I was before I had children. I loved that woman and I loved that life but I don’t want it again. My daughters have made me more daring, more human, more compassionate. Their births have brought me closer to the earth and they have helped me pare my life down to its essentials. Writing, quick prayers, good food, a few close friends, many deep breaths, love, plants, dancing, music, teaching-these are the ingredients of my/this new self. I waited for this new self in the dark, in the bittersweet water of letting go, in the heavy heartbeat of learning to be a mother, against the isolation, I grew and emerged laughing and crying and here I am, sisters and brothers.
Here I am."
Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie
Rebirth: What We Don't Say
The Birth of Marisol Grace, Part 1
(written on July 12, 2006)
Friday June 30, 2006
I started having contractions late Friday night. At first I wasn't even sure if they were true contractions. It seemed like they were Braxton-Hicks... I played solitaire on the computer and listened through the whole Dixie Chicks CD (2012 EDIT: it's still Marisol's favorite!) I started feeling very anxious - what if these are really contractions? Am I ready for labor? Am I ready for the baby? I was starting to pay attention to how far apart the contractions were - they were getting stronger - I could barely focus on solitaire :) I mentioned to Mike a couple of times that night that I was having a lot of Braxton-Hicks... We were both in bed by around 11:30.
When each contraction came I would look at the clock... I was surprised how close some of them were. I was also starting to feel more cramping down low - not like the tightening in my belly (that was still happening too though)They felt a lot like period cramps - they also started to burn in my back a little - some were 10 minutes apart, some 7, some 3! There wasn't a clear pattern though...
I was not sleeping at all... I think I took I think I took a bath that night... I still hadn't told Mike. At 3:30 am I woke Mike up and told him I hadn't been asleep yet... he said, "Why?" I said, "Because I really am having contractions!" but I reassured him they weren't that bad and they weren't regular (They were "irregular") I went downstairs to have a snack because I was hungry, and next thing I know Mike was down there with me... I was like - I knew you wouldn't be able to sleep! - he said, "It's like Christmas!"I got him to go back to sleep by going back into bed myself.
So, I was in bed long enough to make sure Mike fell back asleep (2012 EDIT: haha, this must have been practice for the kids!) then I think I was back up. I finally slept for about an hour and a half I think ~7-8:30 am (on the couch) I think I put some laundry in and put Pelo out in the cat run... poor kitty :) I believe we called Marry Ann (our doula) that morning - and she agreed it might be early labor...
It was a really nice relaxing day. Mike and I went on a walk that morning... the contractions kept coming all day but they did not get stronger or closer. Every time I thought they had stopped I would get another one. I rested from about 11-1 but didn't sleep much. I don't remember much else of what we did that afternoon - I just remembered - I started re-reading the book "Little Alters Everywhere" What a great book and distraction! I think I finished laundry and watched NASCAR with Mike. (2012 EDIT: Oh my goodness - my last day without children for a really long time! What a different life!) I remember Mike was very laid back - he really hung out with me and wasn't trying to work on any projects like the bathroom or the yard. I was so glad he was home because otherwise they day would have been so long! We ordered pizza and ate. Then we actually went on another walk and went over to his parents' house - his mom has a couple of pictures! (2012 EDIT: I might have to dig one out and scan it!) We didn't stay too long - I had a couple of contractions there and hid it pretty well :) but pretty soon I was like, "Mike - I want to go home..." I'm pretty sure I checked over our stuff that evening to make sure we were ready.
We started to watch Harry Potter. I remember noticing around 11:30 the contractions were coming closer - so I started timing again and they were 5 min... Mike soon wanted to go to bed... I had read to call the midwives when contractions were 5 min apart for at least an hour... I think they were supposed to be getting stronger too... @ 12:30 I decided to call Mary Ann - they were pretty strong and I didn't know what to do. I definitely woke her up! She was groggy... We talked for a bit and decided to see what happened. I decided to have Mike sleep and I would get in the shower. I was a little put out that she didn't mention coming over but I didn't want to ask... 2 minutes later the phone rang and it was Mary Ann! She said, "I realized I didn't even ask you if you wanted me to come over!" That made me feel better... I felt like I had a plan so I said no, I'm ok for now...
It was another long night - but I was not bored and had no desire to try and watch TV or read. I did a little of everything - 1st shower then kneeling on the birth ball, then bath, then birth ball. I got about an hour - 2 hours of sleep on the couch where I slept 5 minutes @ a time then woke up with a contraction! It doesn't sound like much and it wasn't great being woken up that way - but the sleep felt great and I'm sure it helped later.
I also walked around downstairs - pacing in a circle like Mr. Pelo does through the kitchen, dining room, and living room. I set myself little time goals - like "I'll stay in the tub until this time then go downstairs..." The second time I got back in the tub it was ~ 4:30 am - I decided to go back to bed ~ 5:30 to start waking Mike up... I lay with him and told him I wanted to get up @ 6 make breakfast and pass time till 7 - @ 7 am I knew the midwives switched so I figured I may as well wait till then... I was so excited/happy that April was on that Sunday. I called almost exactly @ 7 (after Mike made us scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast, which I ate a little of) April was paged and called back ~ 15 minutes later - she listened to how things were going and said I had 2 choices - come in to get checked and if we weren't that far we could go back home, or wait a little longer. We decided to call Mary Ann and stay at home.
Around that time (8 am ?) I was feeling really tired - it also seemed like the contractions were getting farther apart rather than closer and stronger. Those two things discouraged me - it was probably a low point for me. (side note - earlier that night in the tub I really gained confidence that I could actually do this whole thing the way we planned - I was handling the contractions - I was really proud of myself for laboring the whole night - 12:20 am - 5:30 am by myself. I also had figured out that a low "ooh" sound helped me a lot on the Birth ball and really worked on my breathing..._
So after all that labor and doing all those things I was actually in bed when Mary Ann (our doula) arrived - I round that ironic and thought I must look pretty exhausted... I certainly felt it. Mary Ann just starts talking about things like our wedding photo on the wall and prints from Rome... And I don't know why, but the contractions start picking up! I guess she just helped me relax.
So she suggests standing for some contractions and "slow dancing" with Mike. Oh yeah - I also walked up and down the hall some... then she suggested going downstairs to change the scene... next thing we know the contractions are coming closer! They were about 3 minutes apart and seemed pretty strong (stronger)... Mike called his parents to bring Mary Ann some water - we called the midwifes again - we started getting all of our stuff together - and what a load of stuff! (birth ball, backpack with clothes, CDs, toiletries, CD player, baby car seat, diaper bag with baby stuff, food etc. but we used just about all of it!! :-) April (midwife) wasn't calling back and I was getting anxious to go (Mike's mom had dropped off two 6 packs of water 0 right when I was having a contraction! I remember her poking her head in...) So Mike called back and gave his cell phone... Mary Ann drove separate - I knelt in the back - my knees on the floor facing the back seat - Mike spoke to April then called my parents to let them know we were going to the hospital - they didn't even know we were having contractions - I hadn't spoken to mom since Friday morning - They played golf with Paulsens then went to Ithaca (where my sister, Laura lives) Friday - stayed over night and went on the boat all day Saturday. Mom called Saturday night but I didn't call back - I didn't want to get them all excited :) Anyways - dad was home and mom and grandpa at church - I guess dad was so excited that he called them at church...
Getting ready to go to the hospital, Mike helps me through a contraction while brushing his teeth!
To be continued... I know the suspense is killing you!
Wife, mom, information and peace seeker.