Thursday

My Journey To Motherhood: My Water Baby


The birth of my second baby was so moving it was like a rebirth of my soul and a newfound belief in myself and what I was capable of. Although my first birth was beautiful, I didn't feel prepared despite taking a birthing class. During labor I went to a very dark place deep inside myself, feeling so scared and isolated in my pain not even my husband or mother could penetrate it. Not knowing if I was capable of giving birth on my own, I felt like the pain would keep escalating until I was going to die because I didn't think it would end. I knew without a doubt I never wanted to feel that again. I wanted to experience a positive birth but I didn't think they existed. Then I saw “The Business Of Being Born.” My daughter was one week old and we watched the film that would eventually change our lives in so many ways and completely effect how our second baby would be born 2 ½ years later.

I longed for a birth like I saw in the film but I didn't know where to begin, so I started writing “My Ultimate Dream Birth.” In this wish list I threw everything out the window that would get in the way of my dream, like insurance and money issues, my husband's and my fears, family concerns, societal pressure and I wrote what my heart wanted. I discovered that I wanted a water birth with a midwife and a doula, I wanted to prepare for an unmedicated birth by taking The Bradley Method, and I wanted to feel strong, empowered, confident and capable. I had this beautiful story that seemed like a fairy tale because I didn't know how to make it a reality.

I became extremely ill with persistent bronchitis that would plague me throughout my entire first trimester making it hard to do the research needed to find an alternative birth plan on top of taking care of a busy toddler. We moved when our daughter was almost a year old so I needed to find a new OBGYN. After expressing my wishes for a natural birth during a second trimester appointment, my new doc said I'd “be crazy for not taking perfectly good drugs (epidural) that have zero effect on the baby” and that, “No one was handing out gold stars for having a non-medicated birth.” 

That was my last appointment with the new doc. 
I was 26 weeks pregnant. 

The scene from the documentary kept playing over in my mind where Ricki was saying, “It wasn't an illness, it wasn't something that needed to be numbed, it needed to be experienced...” I needed that experience. 

Immediately, I started to look for birthing centers and I found South Coast Midwifery in Irvine. I cried looking at the pictures of these strong women confidently birthing their babies and knew I found what I was looking for. We loved SCM. By the second appointment they knew my name where before I was a number and after 26 weeks my doctor didn't even recognize me in the hallway before our final appointment. I was excited at the chance at having my dream birth at home.

The morning before my due date I lost my mp. I ran errands despite the fact that things felt different. Around 5pm I started having very steady contractions so it was time to head home! My parents took our daughter to their house, my husband started filling up the birthing tub and I paced the house feeling busy and restless. My contractions were becoming so fast and furious and extremely painful they took me by surprise and I had those fleeting moments of, “Uh-oh! What did I get myself into?” I felt frantic as my husband realized he needed to start filling the tub with warmer water and was running back and forth from the tub to where ever I happened to be crouching when I'd yell for him during a contraction. My doula quickly arrived and once in the tub I felt calm, relaxed. Flickering candlelight filled the room with songs from my labor playlist. (We still did not know if we were having a boy or a girl!) My eyes had been closed for quite some time, I was in my own world humming to the music and groaning with each contraction. It felt like it was helping to take away the pain by pushing it out of my body in low, gravely groans as opposed to holding it in, holding my breath. It was not the hysterical, out-of-control screams seen on TV that condition women into thinking this is what's expected during labor. These were deep, primal and somewhat animalistic.

The room was still yet active. There were no constant beeps from various machines, no light piercing my loosely closed eyes, no cords tethering me to IV's and heart monitors keeping me from the movements I needed to make. No hospital protocol keeping me from eating and drinking what I needed to remained energized. There was no pressure to perform during anyone's time frame in order for my wishes to be granted. It was me kneeling in a tub of warm water, my head buried in the chest of my strong husband who never left my side. My doula was slowly pouring water on my back and massaging the pain away with her fists and my midwife and assistant who arrived around midnight were setting up what medical equipment they might or might not need.


Just then things started to change...

“Are you ready to catch your baby?”



My midwife asked after only pushing for a short amount of time. Those were the most powerful words I had ever heard. After one last push at 12:49am out spiraled this huge, pink baby hurling it's chubby body into my arms where I brought it up out of the water to my chest and my lips, “my baby, my baby!” I beamed over and over flashing me back to the birth of my daughter. My husband and I held our sweet baby for quite sometime crying and smiling, admiring our perfect angel. As my husband turned around to get the video camera I realized I still did not know the sex! Pulling the baby away from my chest I looked down and in amazement I exclaimed, “It's a boy! It's a boy!” I'll never forget the look on my husband's face as he quickly turned around to meet my eyes asking in disbelief, “It's a boy?” He peered over my shoulder and exclaimed, “It's a boy!” A whopping 10 pound, 21 inch bouncing baby boy who helped me achieve my ultimate dream birth. My water baby has inspired me to dare to be great and he has melted my heart ever since. 


To read more about my home water birth experience, click here




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*This was originally posted on February 16, 2012 at BlogHer.com and was an entry into a contest put on by Ricki Lake and BlogHerMoms called Journey To Motherhood. We were asked to describe our own journey. This was 1 out of 4 entries I wrote for the contest.
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Wednesday

My Journey To Motherhood: The Night It Hit Me - I'm A Mom

http://mytalesfromthecrib.blogspot.com/

There are many lasting memories from the birth of our daughter. Memories that at almost four years later are so vivid I can still recall how her skin felt like suede, her cheeks like powder. The words of encouragement erupting into loud cheers from my birth team still echo in my mind as she finally came out on that last push. But there's one moment that really stands out as my, “I'm a mom” moment.

The night I had this slap-you-in-the-face realization was not during the 17+ hour labor where I paced the halls and folded into my husband's body with each painful contraction, or the 3 ½ hours of pushing (on my back) to finally get her out. It wasn't even necessarily the moment where she practically leapt out of my womb onto my stomach. I was squealing with delight, “My baby, my baby!” over and over as I held her in my arms - the nurses feverishly rubbing and massaging her red, squishy body. Just then our eyes met and she reached up and touched my face with her tiny fingers. For the longest time she was looking into my eyes and crying, touching my chin, lips and cheek as if to say, “It's you! It's really you! You're my mommy!” I'm so thankful to my nurse for capturing all of those special moments on camera because otherwise no one would believe us. If I saw that in a movie I'd think, “That would never happen!” But it did.

Even that moment, as surreal as it was, isn't the thing that's etched into my brain as “The moment.” Our two day hospital stay felt like a vacation. The friendly postpartum nurses cared for us like family. They offered much needed help with breastfeeding, armed us with expert swaddling techniques to transform our bundle of joy into a blissful baby burrito, and provided me with cooling gel pads for my already sore nipples. Mercifully, they encouraged us to sleep. Before our daughter's tiny cries could resonate in our heads and wake us from an exhausted slumber, they swept in like angels and scooped her up to comfort her. They answered every last concerning question we had with patience and understanding.

Leaving the hospital was a bit of a reality check for us. “Can we do this alone? They're professionals and we're just first time parents, how can they just let usleave like that?” Driving home looking back at the once empty car seat that was now filled with a tiny baby we thought, “Now what?” Luckily, my mom extended her flight to stay another week. I was exhausted from the long labor and in so much pain from pushing for so long all I wanted to do was sleep. We swaddled her tight, I nursed her and we placed our sleeping baby in her cradle next to our bed. “Wow, she didn't even cry, this isn't so bad after all!” Those were the last words I uttered as my head hit the pillow assuming we'd all sleep until morning. (Two kids later, I find this hilarious.)
An hour later we were jolted out of bed as if a drill sergeant were standing there screaming commands at us while honking an air horn in our faces. “What's going on? Is there an emergency? Someone's baby is really loud!

Then it hit us.

“That's our baby!

Where's the nurse to scoop her up? Has she gotten louder?” This was a harsh reality made all the more jarring as we fumbled around the pitch black room trying to find this miniature siren (right next to us.) This nightly task quickly became second nature, but this first time was frantic, stressful, growing more and more urgent the longer she cried, and that's when I realized that I was the one she was crying for, I was the one who was responsible for nursing her, I was the one who could comfort her - so I scooped her up into my arms and thought, “wow, I'm actually a mom now and this is my baby,” and it felt good.



*This was originally posted on February 8, 2012 at BlogHer.com and was an entry into a contest put on by Ricki Lake and BlogHerMoms called Journey To Motherhood. We were asked to describe our own journey. This was 1 out of 4 entries I wrote for the contest.

Thursday

Standing Ovation For The Single Moms

I of course feel that all moms deserve a standing ovation for a job that at times seems very unappreciated, especially if you have babies because they are not yet old enough to throw their arms around your neck and give a tight squeeze as they say, "I love you mommy" and then plant a big pucker on you. Babies give love in their own way, but it's quiet and said without words. Sometimes we need the words. No offense babies.

So tonight, I'm sending out some major love to all of the moms out there who are going it alone. Either full-time because the dad is no longer in the picture or going it solo for a lengthy period of time because dad is in the military and is away for months and months at a time. I know of a mom who's husband is off fighting for our country right now, in danger for his life every single day and the days are in triple digits til she sees him again. My heart goes out to her because she has a toddler and is both the mother and the father to this child until daddy comes home.

Some moms are the mother and the father and daddy never comes home. I'm not quite sure how you are able to get everything done that needs to be done, but somehow you do it. There are so many nights where I'm so appreciative of my husband because he comes home after work and he'll give the kids a bath while I'm cooking dinner and then he'll put one of them to bed while I'm putting the other one to bed. Then, like now when I'm sick as a dog he really steps it up. As a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) I don't get a sick days of course, but he does help out so much in the evenings. Two nights ago I lounged on the couch while he did bath, made dinner and put both kids to bed. Bless his heart! And I went to bed early too and he stayed up to do the dishes. I was literally the walking dead and I kept thinking, 


"how do single mom's do it?"
When I was pregnant with my first I met a mom who had ended her relationship with her boyfriend while she was still in early pregnancy. Just being pregnant I relied on my husband for so much support I didn't know how she was doing it alone, but I had no idea how hard it was to actually be a mother until baby girl came, and I had help. So to be a brand new mother all alone seemed terrifying to me. I remember her telling stories about how she had two jobs 6 days a week - a day job and a night job and her baby had two sitters - a day sitter and a night sitter. She didn't even have a full day off all week long because her days off overlapped and she'd usually pick up extra shifts anyway because she was always behind on money, so there were some weeks where she didn't have any time off at all.

One story of hers in particular made me so sad. She said when her baby was still just a lil guy (under a year old) and would nap in the car in the mornings in route to the day sitter and then again during the transition from the day sitter to the night sitter's house and then again from the night sitter's house to their apartment late at night, she would go several days without seeing her baby awake for a lengthy period of time, and for never any quality time, really. Several days! Except of course during the night feedings (which, yes, she still had to wake up several times a night for the first few months even though she was doing EVERYTHING alone all day long.) Babies don't get the memo that you are a single mom (or that you are sick on your death bed) and how it would be great if they just slept through the night. So in the wee hours in the morning when she'd wake the baby to get out the door in the mornings she'd have some baby love time and during the night several times she'd have some baby love time...but that was it. During her 1 hour commute to the day sitter in the mornings and from the day sitter to the night sitter's house (that was an hour and 45 minute commute) it was pure silence because baby was sleeping peacefully while she was left to her own thoughts of wishing things could be different, feeling guilty for never having any quality time with her baby - the one person she felt she ever truly loved with all of her heart, watching the long days drift into quick months, missing milestones while she dealt with catty co-workers, pushy bosses and rude customers. Many tears were shed on those long quiet drives between two jobs she'd rather not go to, and many hours were spent in vain trying to get a deadbeat dad to care for his child let alone pay for one damn thing. 


My heart ached for her.
Many said she did it to herself for getting involved with a looser guy who she herself said she knew was a deadbeat with no job, no car, and sleeping on a friend's couch when they were dating and "was stupid enough to get pregnant anyway" (her words.) But still, who are we to judge? Life can cast many hard blows and when your children are affected by it, it stings that much more. Regardless of her situation and how she got there, I always wished she'd find a better life for herself and for her child. She was kind and looked for the good in people and she loved her baby with everything she had. She deserved a better life. Her mom died when she was young and her dad wasn't emotionally available to her. She lived far from any grandparents who might have care for her given the chance because her father didn't want them around. She thought she loved this guy and felt sick to her stomach when she realized she was pregnant, but never thought for one second of doing anything other than caring for her baby and was going to do her best to provide him or her with a life of love that she never really knew.

Whenever times get really tough on me and I feel alone as a mother who has a very wonderful and very supportive husband who will change poopy diapers without even being asked and who will rock babies to sleep in the middle of the night if he needs to, I always think about her and what she is doing. Driving in the snow with a sleeping baby bundled in the back of the car going from one crappy low paying job to the next and having no real idea how her baby spent the last 10 hours, or how he'll spend the next 8. 


Was he happy? 
Did he laugh at the puppy he saw while he was sitting in the stroller at the park? 
Did he spit out his carrots or did he like them this time? 
Did he cry for a long time when he went down for a nap? 
Did he miss mommy?

Always running late for her next job she never really had the time to have long conversations with the day sitter to ask her these things. And she wasn't exactly thrilled about her either nor was she thrilled about the older children she also watched during the day. But this was the only daycare provider she could find that was close to her work and who would keep the baby for that many hours during the day and sometimes on weekends, and most of all, one she could actually afford. She felt she had no choice. Luckily the night sitter was a family member who she knew would gladly dole out as many cuddles and loves as the baby needed. But the majority of the time he was with the night sitter was when he was asleep, so she had to put it out of her mind how much she wished she could switch the two sitters. But her jobs and their available hours and locations wouldn't allow for a switch.

She talked about how blessed she was to have a reliable car that could weather the snowstorms, an apartment that she didn't have to share with a stranger, two jobs that made it possible to provide her baby with the best life she could. She saved her money so she could buy him some nice, brand new things for his first birthday. She was doing it by herself and she was proud of herself. She'll never know how much I thought about her all those nights and days that I was having it rough too, but at least I was able to be home with my baby witnessing every movement she made all day long and then had help in the evenings when my husband got home. It doesn't mean that I didn't also see many dark days as a new mother despite my help and support or that I didn't deserve or have the right to complain about it. All mothers have it rough, especially brand new mothers and if anyone tries to tell you differently they are candy coating it for whatever reason and flat out, they are lying. Motherhood is hard. Not all of it, but a lot of it. The stuff that has no answers. The stuff that has no reasoning behind it.

Whether you have a perfect angel baby who sleeps through the night from birth and never makes a fuss as a toddler or if you have a colicky baby from day #1 til she is three months old and then at three months and one day she starts teething and is miserable from that for weeks at a time...it's a hard job and no one really prepares you for it. They try when we are pregnant with our baby, but we don't believe them, we aren't really listening because we think that we'll have it differently (and we do for the most part - it's still hard though, but now it's our version of hard) and we just cast them off as being overly negative or thinking that we are not going to be capable of being a mom. Until we are actually in the trenches is when we think back to that advise and think...


"oh...that's what they were talking about. I get it now."

If you are a single mom or a military wife who is going it alone right now, give yourself a pat on the back. Go ahead...I'll wait. Smile at your accomplishments, give yourself credit for all of the hard work you've put in, all the hours and hours of overtime you've clocked that will not show up on your paycheck. Not in money anyway. But one of these days if it hasn't happened already, that sweet little bundle of joy sleeping next to you will come running up to you, throw her little chubby arms around your knees, look up at you with her sparkling eyes and say, "I love you mommy!" and you'll know it will all be worth it.

Please feel free to share your story here in the comments below. I'm listening, and know that someone out there somewhere is thinking about you and they are wishing the best for you too.



To continue reading more from My Tales From The Crib, click here

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