And for once I was SuperMom

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

On Loan

“She’s not breathing,” Scott said. A flood of panic filled my chest. I stretched out my hands. Scott handed over our new baby girl, I turned her up and started patting on her back. As her lips began to turn purple I said to Scott, “Go get the nurse,” he rushed out of the room and in moments two women in light blue scrubs arrived, one took her from me, held her in the plastic bassinet on her side and sucked the mucus that was clogging her breathing from her mouth. She looked up at me, “Are you okay?” I realized that my hand was clamped over my mouth and my eyes were stretched out wide. I slowly pulled my hand from my mouth and pretended that I was not as freaked out as I really was, “I’m okay,” I nodded to her; the nod was really more for me. “You did exactly what you are supposed to, hold her up and then come and get us,” her words acted like a salve. “And now you know what this is for,” she held up the booger sucker that she had used to suck the mucus from Carys’ mouth. I nodded again. I have never needed to be told that I did the right thing more than in that moment. We have started a routine of settling Carys into our room a bit before we go to bed. She’s an incredibly noisy sleeper and if we give her about twenty minutes she seems to get through some of the noise and we can sleep peacefully. I went in to check if she was still breathing. Something I never did with my first, but after hospital incident number one I check often to see that the rise and fall of her wee chest is still continuing. As I leaned over the moses basket and saw her chest moved I felt a prayer drop from my heart like a tear, “Oh, God, let me keep this one.” With my first I felt that this was for sure, her life was like a promise from God. After we lost our first pregnancy Emma’s pregnancy and little life was peaceful. I knew it would come and I knew she would be okay, because that wouldn’t happen to me twice, how could it? This one I don’t think feel like I have received such a promise, and after watching her choke I am reminded again of the tremulous nature of newborns. People keep asking if Emma feels big compared to Carys, no she still feels little. But she feels established. She feels firmly alive. Nothing can take her but an unforeseen accident. Carys still feels tentative. Newborns, with their loose floppy bodies and inability to move, feel so frightening. So delicate. I think if every parent is honest with themselves, with their deep innermost knowing parts, we know that our children are not really ours. Yes, biologically we make them, our bodies grow them, and we birth them, but they are not really ours. Do they belong to God? As much as we all do. We are their earthly shepherds and if we are lucky we get to follow the natural order of things and our children will outlive us. We all expect to bury our parents, doesn’t make it okay, but we know that’s coming. Our children? No one really expects to bury a child. That’s against the natural order of things. I don’t know what I would do if this tender newborn went home. So for now I pray that I can keep her.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Things I forgot.

"There's a ten old day baby in there!" I heard a nurse shout in the hallway. I think about four women came into 'meet' Carys while she napped in my arms waiting to meet her doctor. When we left Scott asked, “They don’t get many babies in there do they?” I had chosen a family doctor for us rather than a pediatrician for our children and then a separate doctor for us. This led to a short discussion on whether we should switch to a pediatrician or not. We still have not come to a conclusion. (Feel free to weigh in.) Is there nothing more precious than a newborn child? There is something that is unique about this sleepy short stage of life that makes the rest of us ‘grown ups’ go all gaga. As my body heals from birth, as I slowly rise out of pregnancy with the hormones leaving through a sort of reverse osmosis of sweat and tears I am reminded of all the things that I had forgotten about taking care of a newborn. 1. So floppy. Oh wow. I know, cognitively, that I am not going to break her but jeez when that head flops to the side it's just scary. 2. Breastmilk poo is adorable. Compared to what I have been wiping off my two year old this stuff is just plain cute. 3. So wonderfully sleepy. This passing out into a deep sleep all the time is great. I love it. 4. How can someone sit and stare at a child for so many hours, is that even possible? Yes it is. And yes we do. 5. Fingernails. Those tiny little virgin ovals. Never been cut, but so scratchy. 6. The delicacy of it all. How much of a miracle this is, that one little cell could have formed wrong and I wouldn’t have this child or one wrong choke and she would go home. 7. Cute sleep poses. The touchdown; both hands over head. The Olympian; one arm straight out and the other crooked by the head. 8. They make you stop. You have to sit to nurse and you get caught staring. You have to slow down a bit to take care of them. You might as well stop and smell the roses...or their sweet little heads. They are such little slugs. Incredibly cute little slugs.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Time Battle

I find it so hard to be productive right now. Every time I sit down at the computer my brain, goes foggy and says, 'Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh.' I type a few sentences of something beautiful that I have been composing in my head while nursing my baby or tending to my toddler and then when I have a moment in front of this blank white screen I get, 'Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh.' One of the hardest things I have found in motherhood is keeping up productivity. I wish I could say that I could redefine it, that the hours spent cuddling and comforting fulfill me to the full, but the problem is that the part of you that screams to use your hands and mind doesn't go away. After Carys nursed this afternoon I plopped her down in the moses basket that has now taken up residence in our living room and I sat back on the couch and my mind spun with all the things I need to get 'done.' Letters for a friend, a painting commission, and all these blogs and books that haunt the corners of my creative thought and energy. Then I thought, 'Why I don't I just be a normal housewife and clean something.' I didn't I tried to write and got caught in Facebook. I think my productivity would go up if I switched it off my front page. * * * My two year old has suffered in this transition. Poor thing. Doesn't see us for two days and then I show up with this baby that is always on me. I heard her the first morning we were all home, "I want mommy!" I came out holding the new addition, and sat by her on the couch, "No, I don't want mommy!" Sigh. I cuddled with Emma this afternoon, after each attack cuddle with elbows and hands bashing into my sore chest and loose belly innards, after each grimace that followed, she would settle into me I would sniff her little unpolished smell and think, 'Maybe this is productive.' And it is. A friend that dropped off a meal for us stated that she has been able to enjoy her children more and more as they have aged, but that they, "Laid the groundwork," to be able to do so. So this is the groundwork. Cuddling during episodes of Sesame Street. Not the worst groundwork. It is hard on the creative mind. All my projects lurk like ghosts while I bustle and then in a quiet moment they pop out at me, and I scream, and feel a deep sense of dark dread that if I don't get myself in gear I will hide my talents under the ground. But I am tired, so tired. My foggy wet brain, and sore back makes me want to do nothing else than lie on the couch and sob through episodes of Parenthood. But even if I allow myself to do that I keep think that I should be writing or making art. So there you have it, my constant internal battle between being productive, resting, and taking care of kids. Any other creative types dealt with this before? How did you deal with this?

Monday, May 7, 2012

An Apologetic

I had a baby on Tuesday. An elective c-section. My second c-section birth. This was not the plan. Either time. I read the books. I did my kegels. I practiced my deep breathing with each practice contraction of my womb. I had opinions on pitocin, epidurals, and episiotomies. Unfortunately I am not a doctor, nor am I midwife, not even a doula. All I did was read a few books. Several of them written by men. I'm starting to think that if a birthing book is written by a man we should throw it out. This last baby was big. Sure ultrasounds are often wrong. At thirty six weeks she was measuring 9.2 lbs. She came out at 9.2 lbs. So the ultrasound was wrong, our she just didn't grow the last few weeks. I can tell you that she grew, or at least the purple marks on my belly kept growing. Her head is large. 'Off the charts large,' as one of the midwives said. That midwife told me that her gut feeling was that I was going to end up with c-section. The next midwife I saw said very gently I might want to consider an elective c-section. Then she sent me to the doctor. The doctor told me she was no longer comfortable with signing off on a VBAC. We asked about ultrasounds being wrong, she said yes, but not by much. Scott asked about statistics of harm for the baby, I knew them. She said,yes, they're low, but they exist. She asked could we be comfortable doing that to our child? She asked could our marriage sustain that? She talked about a shoulder dystocia birth that she had the week before. Now that child is disabled. I don't think she was trying to control my birth and labor experience, I think she didn't want to hand me a sick baby. Yes, the chance of anything happening was less than 1%. Maybe as high as 3%. It wasn't worth it to me. Not worth it to risk my marriage. Not worth it to risk my child's health. Not worth it to risk my own health. Could I have done it? Maybe. My doctor thinks we made the right decision. So now I have an incision in my belly that stings. I have referred pain in my shoulder that aches and threatens to steal sleep from me. I have a sore and achey body from surgery and sitting in bed for a week. But I also have a healthy baby girl. A perfect, big, healthy girl. I think it's easy in a developed nation with good healthcare to get cavalier about our choices in birth. How many of us know someone who have lost a child or a mother in birth? Not many. I thought about my grad school professor who talked about women walking miles while in labor, to arrive at the hospital with a necrofied birthing canal, from being in labor so long. I bet that women would have liked a c-section. I think about countries with high infant mortality rates and high maternal death rates. I bet some of those women and families would have liked c-sections. Do I think that the rates of c-section in the United States is too high? Yes. Do I think that some of our medical practices treat us like bodies instead of people with feelings? Yes. Do I think that I needed both of my c-sections? I don't know. I think that one thing I have learned over these last births is that obstetrical medicine still has many mysteries. They still don't know what fully happens. With my last birth I had the weepies. Mostly it was because it was so hard. I hurt everywhere. Breastfeeding was quite the task to get used to. Having your first child is a huge adjustment. You ask yourself questions like 'Will I ever sleep again?' 'Will I ever get to sit through a meal again?' 'Will this ever stop hurting.' Yes. No. Yes. This time around the weepies have come more in the form of being so thankful for my two beautiful little girls. This time around it's been easier to fall in love with my new daughter. I know she will steal my heart. I know that I have just grit my teeth through the next few weeks and months until my body is back. I know that it is all worth it. Would I recommend a c-section? No. I would encourage you to have a vaginal birth, because I think our bodies were made to do that and will more easily heal from a vaginal birth rather than surgery. Am I at peace with mine? Yes and no. I'm thankful that it's done and we are all alive. Would I have died? I don't know. Would they have died? I don't know. I think I am ready to say this though, it's done. It's over. It's not a tragedy. Really it's not. If there are those in the audience that think I was duped or taken for a ride by the medical profession I don't feel that I was. I did make each decision for a c-section. Both of my doctors gave me that. Neither of them stepped in and coerced me into interventions I was uncomfortable with. I also didn't make this decision for you. I made it for me, for my husband, and most of all my children.