Friday, June 24, 2011


Doing a lot of thinking about labor and delivery lately, for obvious reasons.    This birth holds some mystery and fear for me that Indra's birth did not.   The biggest factor in this is that I am going to deliver this baby in a hospital where Indra was born at home.   Hospitals freak me out big time but for reasons out of my control, it has become the way it has to be this time around.    Indra's birth was lovely, calm and beautiful.   I want to re-create that as much as possible in a hospital setting but there are some reservations that I feel inside that are becoming a bit concerning.  

I am afraid.

Fear played no role in Indra's birth.   I felt strong, ready and able to take on anything.    I'm not feeling that so much anymore.   I am nervous and worried and doubtful of my abilities.   I have even considered just getting the damn epidural and rolling over to the politics of hospital births.   Me!   I told Justin about this feeling and he was pretty shocked and said that this is so very unlike me and worried about where this idea was coming from.   To be honest, I don't know.   This pregnancy has been difficult in so many ways and maybe I am just tired.  Maybe I am fearful of the hospital environment more than I think.   Until now, I have not considered the experience of bringing Indra into the world as "painful."   I remember it being very intense.   Opening up my body, opening up my mind and soul, breaking open, splitting open, ripping open but trusting that this opening was okay and welcoming each contraction because it brought me closer to meeting my baby.   I moaned out low "ooooooooooohhhhssss" and rocked my body back and forth.   I closed my eyes and absolutely surrendered to the process.
I'm not sure I can let go like this in a hospital.    I'm not sure I feel the strength and resolve I felt two years ago.   I have struggled with chronic pain throughout this pregnancy and to be completely honest, I have kind of had it with feeling pain and being uncomfortable.    So, I have been reading birth stories and trying to gain some confidence in myself.   I do not want to separate myself from my baby and the birth experience by medical interventions.   That is my conscious thought.   My body feels differently, my body feels ready to give up....almost.   Not really sure how to better say it than that.   It is important to me that I at least try but I know that these sneaking doubts women have regarding their own strengths come crumbling down under the pressure of nurses and doctors offering a full array of medical interventions.
From: Birthing From Within
 I will have my doula, Anne, with me and Justin who were both present for Indra's birth.   Anne was my rock during Indra's delivery.   She harmonized with me on all of my vocalizations, crawled with me on the floor, quietly held herself in my sacred birth space, she fed me spoonfuls of sweet honey between pushes, held my sweaty, quaking body with so much compassion and love.   Having Anne as my ally in this birth is crucial to me.   I am valuing her more as a warrior on my behalf for the hospital whereas for my home birth we were two women connecting and supporting each other to bring a baby calmly and safely into this world.    Now, Anne's role will be two-fold; she will not only be there for that connecting point but also to be a barrier between myself and hospital interference.  We (Anne and I) have spoken at length about the differences between hospitals and home and she is very comfortable working with my doctor and the hospital environment.   If anyone could do it, it is her.   For now, I am going to continue to read inspiring birth stories and try to let go of my personal doubts and fears.   I only have a few weeks left!!!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Randomness From This Week

Lilacs are one of my very favorite early summer flowers.  The kids and I have been bringing fresh bunches into the house since they came into bloom a few weeks ago.   The smell is so comforting and sweet.   Last weekend, I was busy doing mom stuff (cleaning and other glorious domestic goddess duties) and I sent my twins out to play.   They came back with a basket filled with lilacs for me. 
Spooky cat loves them too!   She tried to eat some but discovered that the taste is not quite as lovely as their smell.   Although this summer/spring has been cold and crappy so far, the smells in the air make me so happy.   Fresh cut grass, dewy leaves, budding flowers; they are all so smelly!!
And check this one out:

Yellow Lady Slipper

I am the furthest thing from a green thumb and have better luck at killing plants than keeping them alive but I sure do appreciate their beauty and aroma.  

In other news, the preggo belly is growing more and more.   I can feel my body preparing for birth with lovely spells of insomnia, braxton-hicks contractions and lots of pelvic pressure.   I am feeling another kind of pressure too; pressure to get shit done!   I am stressed to the gills everyday about all the things left to do before this little one gets here.   Since my last post, we sure are making some progress but we have a LONG way to go.   I have decided to go to the hospital for this delivery and have not even begun any sort of preparation.   I did, however, print out a list of things to bring to the hospital.   We will see how helpful that is when I am in labor.....
Late night cereal munching

Indra also taking a cereal break
All in all, I think everyone is feeling ready for the little one to make an appearance.   I am super pumped to see who this person is I have been growing.   I am also feeling closer to having some solid name ideas.   I think the closer you are to delivery, the more you get a feeling for the spirit you are soon to welcome.   When baby really starts kicking and pushing around in its now limited space, I can rub the bottom of its feet and I tell him or her, "Soon I'll be kissing those little toes sweet baby."
Indra is also getting very curious about the baby belly.   She constantly wants to pull my shirt up and lay skin to skin on top of the bulge.   If I try and move or take her off, she refuses and gets very upset.   I am not sure if she can tell if it really is a baby in there but I would like to think that her growing interest is truly a spiritual connection she feels with the life inside of me.
Belly Snuggle

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Oh Baby

33 weeks pregnant today.   We have so much to do before this little one arrives!   I think Justin and I have been riding the "we've done this before" train a little too long and need to start preparing for the baby.   Indra (our 25 month old toddler) still sleeps with us at night and we have wanted to get her in a toddler bed for the last few months so she is comfortable with the transition before the baby comes.   Well......
The yet to be used toddler bed
Indra is the type of child that requires constant reassurance, holding, touching, talking in order to feel secure.   Even in her sleep she will reach out and feel for our faces, rub her hands along our arms and snuggle deep into us.   I really don't want to kick her out and put her in her own bed.   I adore sleeping with her and so does Justin.   Who wouldn't want to cuddle all night with a little bug that wants nothing more than to share her love with you?   Argh!!   So tough.   So, that remains on the "to-do" list before baby arrives.
Indra talking with the new baby

Names?   We are just starting to think of some.
Clothes?   Still in storage.
Gear?   Nothing.   The only thing I have purchased for this little one (albeit a very important purchase) is a baby wrap so we can wear the baby.
The birth plan was written last week.    And we have recently decided to go to the hospital this time around rather than do a home birth.   So, we need to re-evaluate how we are doing things from that angle alone.   Our decision to go to the hospital was not an easy one but we have many good reasons for choosing it.   One critically important reason is that I have been suffering (and when I say suffering....) from severe SI Joint and sciatica issues during this pregnancy.   I go to a physical therapist twice a week, take daily pain meds and still, am brought to my knees almost every day from the horrible pain.   I can totally handle labor and delivery, nerve pain is something different.   It is seriously the worst I have ever experienced in my life.   So, I am considering pain medications which are not available with home births in order to cope with the pain during labor.   I want to be able to focus my energies entirely on bringing this baby into the world and be fully present for it, which at this point, seems impossible if I am not able to mentally let go of the nerve pain associated with the stupid SI joint.   I want nothing more than to give birth in the comfort of my own home but it just does not seem feasible this time.
I am feeling more and more ready to meet this little one we have been growing.   Every now and then I still get the, "what the hell was I thinking?" feeling when I am overwhelmed or tired but overall I am excited and want so much to hold this little one and welcome him or her into our crazy but totally fulfilling family.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Birth Of A Mother

My twin girls turn 8 years old today and like all mothers I have spent the day recalling their infancy, what I did while in labor, the delivery and all the special moments that we have spent together.   Being pregnant now is making me SUPER sentimental soooooooooooo you get the pleasure of revisiting with me one of the most painful and beautiful times of my life.
When I found out I was pregnant, I was very not ready to be a mother.   I was 21 and in college but I determined that carrying the pregnancy through was something that felt right to me.   It was not until I was 17 weeks along that I discovered there was not just one baby in there but two! The anxiety and restlessness of accepting that you are carrying twins is something for another post entirely.  The pregnancy was normal and went very well until I hit 24 weeks.

  One night, I felt some light contractions and was not sure what they were really because, well, I had never felt contractions before.   I knew something was not right though.   The contractions continued to get stronger and closer together until I finally decided that I would need to visit the hospital to make sure everything was okay.   My partner drove me to the hospital where I was promptly admitted, strapped with a contraction monitor and thus began my 8 week stay in the hospital.   At first they gave me shots of a medicine called terbutaline.   This medicine is used for asthma but one of the noted side effects was stopping pre-term labor.   How this connection was established is beyond me. Hey, your asthma attack is gone and look here!   Your uterus isn't contracting anymore!   What luck!   Anyhow, it helped mildly with my contractions but the nurses and doctors thought that giving me a shot of this medication in my arm every few hours was a good idea.   By day two, I had been injected so many times that my entire arm was bruised and swollen.
This was in 2003.   Here is what the FDA said just this year regarding terbutaline and pre-term labor:

In February 2011, the Food and Drug Administration has ordered to put a boxed warning on the drug's label. Pregnant women should not be given injections of the drug terbutaline for the prevention of preterm labor or for long-term (beyond 48-72 hours) management of preterm labor, and should not be given oral terbutaline for any type of prevention or treatment of preterm labor "due to of the potential for serious internal heart problems and death."
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also discourages the use of terbutaline for preventing preterm labor.

Once it was determined that the terbutaline wasn't going to do the trick alone, I was started on an IV of magnesium sulfate.   When introduced to this medication you feel like your entire body is burning from the inside out.   You cannot walk, talk, think or otherwise do anything remotely human.   It basically relaxes every single muscle in your body (including your brain).   Look up the term "mag brain" you will see what I mean.   So, this was going to be my life......   terbutaline shots and mag sulfate and a hospital suite all my own for the next 8 weeks until my twin girls were born at 32 weeks.
Living in the hospital is about as horrible as any stretch of the imagination can muster up.  I lost myself in that hospital bed.   I became a ghost.   Endless meals on trays, television, visitors, the smells, the nurses, the other women laboring, delivering and going home..... and me?   I remain.   I lay and I wait.   Ultrasounds, cervical checks, IV beeping for some button to be pushed, waiting and waiting and waiting.   I watched spring arrive from my hospital bed.   Fresh air a memory, an idea.
At 32 weeks, everything gave out.   My contractions continued to gain purchase though the heaviest possible doses of mag sulfate and turbutaline shots.   My cervix was dilating.   Things were moving along and to top it all off, I had preeclampsia (basically rising blood pressure with risks to the babies).    They bumped all possible medications to the max until I was basically a puking, crying, groveling mess.   This stupid doctor, I will always remember him, said to me, "you've got to calm down, you are making things worse."   The look I gave him was something like this:

During my stay in the hospital I had a weekly meeting with a neonatologist to discuss the risks my babies faced if they were to be born that week.   I knew from these discussions that my children, although very tiny, would be considered "viable" outside the womb and had a near 100% chance of surviving with the help of the NICU.   I was ready.   It was a difficult internal decision to make.   Knowing that your babies would be best kept inside but keeping them there was killing you....
I was prepped for c-section and my family was called.

Hearing the cries of my babies for the first time is by far the best sound I have ever heard in my entire life.   Every cell of my body was on a pivot....a pause....until I heard.   They cried and they were alive and they can breathe!   Clara was born first and the doctor waited a minute to deliver Ellie so she would have her own separate birth time.  I was quickly shown their faces before they were whisked away to the NICU for immediate care.  The remainder of the c-section (sewing up) and the recovery room are a blur to me.   When I woke up, I was brought up on my gurney/stretcher thing to see my babies in the NICU.   I was so weak, I could not hold them but my partner and nurses helped support them as they were brought close so I could meet them for the very first time.
Seeing my children so small, so real, so in need of constant care was quite a startling reality and one the would continue to unfold for the entire first year of their lives.   The machines, IVs, tubes, wires, the beeping, the measuring all merged together to be the backdrop to my new role as a mother.   I felt like an outsider looking in, useless to my babies when every fiber within me wanted to just scoop them up and hold them.  

They stayed in the NICU for a month, which is very good for infants born at 32 weeks.   What took the longest was their ability to regulate their own temperatures.   Being a new parent through the NICU is an experience that you would not want first hand experience with.   The alienation, fear and anxiety that ride your back everyday is overwhelming and terrifying.  You worry about everything from the way you hold them, to the possible germs on your clothes, if your voice is too loud, if that beeping you hear means your baby is in danger, the nurses are hovering around you like vultures making sure you aren't going to fuck something up.   Even something as simple as the desire to hold your baby must be only at specific times and if permission is granted, otherwise, your interaction is simply viewing them from outside their incubator.  
We brought them home on July 4th, Clara and Ellie's personal independence day.  And as much as I would love to narrate the tale of their life at home, this is the story of their birth and my birth as a mother.   We three have grown so much in these eight years we have had together and I honor their existence every day.   They truly are my little miracles.
Ellie (left)  Clara (right)   4 months 
Ellie (left)  Clara (right)   5 Months

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Mending Wall

Something there is that doesn't love a wall.

Upon opening my eyes this morning, this very famous first line of a Robert Frost poem wiggled through my mind.   I considered it for most of the day and decided to read the poem (Mending Wall) aloud to see what it was that my subconscious was trying to tell me.   The poem, if you have not read it, is of a ritual between the poet and his neighbor.   Each spring, they come to a stone wall that separates their respective properties for annual upkeep.   They heft the stones back into place that have fallen during the winter, crumbled due to animals or accidentally spilled over from hunters eager for their prey.   The neighbor has the sentiment that "good fences make good neighbors" and yet Frost is hesitant.   He questions the necessity of this wall.  One of my favorite images from this poem is Frost illustrating that his apple trees will be no threat to the cones lying under his neighbor's pines.   But, they have come to rely upon this ritual of mending the wall each spring.   The reader understands by the end of the poem that if the wall did not exist at all, then really, no relationship between poet and neighbor would exist either.   They need this wall to continue their relationship.  

I came to see that this poem and the message of "something there is that doesn't love a wall" was really a calling to me to come to the boundary (the wall) that distances myself from my writing.   I have had a fear of picking up the pen, pounding away at the keyboard, jotting down my memories for about six months now.   So strange for me because writing is something I always do.   However, there is something heavy that holds me back.   I must determine what that weight is, why it exists and pull beyond it.   I am stumbling towards that wall, nervous to see the damage done by my own neglect.   I agree with Frost, I am uncomfortable with that wall as all writers are.  Every writer I know must confront that wall every time we sit down at the computer or journal.   Sometimes, we even run away from that wall and do not intend to visit.   It is too terrifying.   I am ready to examine this terror.   I am ready to mend this wall.