Mother’s Day 2013

I was dreading Mother’s Day. We celebrated our “first” Mother’s Day when our older child was still in utero. I was three months pregnant, and my husband brought a beautiful antique rocking chair home on Friday after work. He had to go out with clients all day Sunday, so Friday and Saturday were our celebrations. Each year after that was more conventional: Mass in the morning, brunch and beverages at home after with the requisite cards and gifts. Mother’s Day 2013 was shaping up to be a bit more special, because after four years of inexplicable “nothing”, we would have been expecting our second baby. We would have been ten weeks along. The Monday before, I noticed some spotting in the bathroom, but, from my doula training, knew that this was considered within the range of normal and so set my mind to be calm. I had spent all of Teddy’s pregnancy worrying about every. little. thing, and I felt that I had needlessly missed out on a lot of joy. I resolved to relax and enjoy this time of expecting. Besides, I had an appointment with my midwife on Thursday, so I could confirm things were fine then. The spotting continued through the week, but never changed to the Danger Color, and I was still having wacky dreams and feeling awfully tired, so I continued to Not Freak Out. On Thursday morning I met with two of my friends, who were also to be my birth doulas, for coffee before we headed over to the birth center for my checkup. T and J and I got the center in plenty of time for my appointment, and went straight back to one of the birth rooms, settling in on the couch and chairs a few minutes early. There was a La Leche League meeting scheduled to start in the main room of the birth center about the same time, and we were still keeping the pregnancy intimate, so I was anxious not to run into anyone I knew who might be coming to the meeting and have to explain why I was there! We chatted with each other and then the midwife and student midwife came in and the appointment proceeded normally. The midwife listened for a heartbeat, and did not find one. Again, this was not unexpected for barely ten weeks. She knew I had not wanted to have unnecessary ultrasounds during a normal pregnancy, but she mentioned that she would still be happy to call it in for me if I wished to check on the baby. I said, “might as well!” although inside I was getting fearful. That afternoon, I went to the chiropractor and at the end of my appointment I mentioned that I had experienced some normal spotting but was going for an ultrasound the next day. Friday is a bit of a blur; I couldn’t remember if Matt picked us up from the house or we met him there. We had Teddy with us. He knew about the baby, and even though the worst case scenario was already in my head, I realize now my subconscious reasoning for having him with us, that I felt strongly that he should be with us, that we shouldn’t leave him with someone somewhere as his happy parents and come back with that change on us. (I remember being grateful, on the drive home as I updated our midwife, doulas and chiropractor, that I was not facing the prospect of having to pick him up from somewhere and deal with someone else, and have to sit him down and tell him all over again. All that sounds selfish of me, but that element was a relief, and I do believe that experiencing it with us was best for him, too.) The technician was so, so kind. She cried with me and let us explain it to Teddy in our own way. He seemed to kind of get it, although it would be much later (in a grocery store parking lot, of all places, a perfect illustration of the indiscriminate nature of grief) that he would put it all together. I spent Saturday enduring the labor and birth process of “losing” such a small baby. Saturday night was scary; I had lost a lot of blood, Matt was tired and Teddy needed to sleep. T came to keep watch on me during the night and got up with me when I needed the bathroom, held my hair when I vomited and at one point kept herself awake by doing the dishes that had piled up in the kitchen! Sunday, Mother’s Day, friends came for our usual Sunday brunch. I was tired and sad, but loved having our dear friends and their sweet baby, our godson, with us that day. We had cake and I went back to bed.

 

As time went on and dulled the sting of our loss, we would joke with each other that no other Mother’s Day could possibly be worse than 2013, that my husband’s bar was now set pretty low. Joking, of course, to cope. But I went into this weekend not knowing what to expect, or even whether to expect anything. I think my relationship with Mother’s Day will always be a stressful one. In early years, I would have forgotten until it was too late. As time went on I became the non-Mother in the church pew (every once in a while I hear someone somewhere say, only half jokingly, that infertile women and bereaved mothers should be exempt from Sunday Mass on Mother’s Day). This year I didn’t know if I would be overwhelmed by memories, what memories we had, anyway. Somehow having memories of hopes, not of actual events, seems even sadder, or maybe that’s just my perspective from today. Her due time was much harder on me than this weekend has been. Being pregnant, struggling again against needless worry, and then dealing with the “could have been”s on top of all of it was rough. I went into the holiday season under a cloud.

 

I don’t really know what this means for future holidays, just as I don’t know what our next “would have been a baby” anniversary will be like. Without that loss, there would be no Ladybug, and I’ve found enough other women on this same journey to know that that can also be a conundrum of emotion. That is not my struggle now that she is here; I have others, maybe the same as some, maybe some different. We all have our own particular circumstances.

 

I don’t really know why I wanted this all to be out here. But it felt wrong to keep it in, and I was starting to get antsy about this web space. And it feels like Ladybug’s birth story needs a lot of deep background, so here is some of it.

 

Joy

 

As the days slip by into weeks passing, and the pool of possible birth days grows smaller, I’m cycling back up to savoring the happy moments. I knew it would come back if I just allowed the fears to have their moment(s).

Teddy is so excited, as I mentioned previously. I’m enjoying his observations and inductions about his sisters impending arrival, some he comes to on his own, some he extrapolates from the information we’re giving him as we prepare him not only to be a big brother, but also for the possibility that things may work out in such a way that he will be present when she is born.

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It has been a great reminder for me, as I prepare him to welcome a sibling who, for the first several months, at least, won’t be very much fun for an active five year old, to give grace to him in his five year old struggles. I didn’t have a very good handle on how to handle the big emotions of small people at the beginning, and he, unfortunately, seems to have inherited my VERY big emotions, so I feel we are a bit behind the learning curve, and he is a bit behind in his emotional development because of it. He and I have been talking about how baby sister will be born, and everything she sees, she won’t know what it is, because she has never seen it before. She won’t have any words, not even in her head, for the things she sees and the things she feels. We will have to teach her how to eat and how to fall asleep. Yes, and use the potty, too, although that may come a little later. J Because she has only had Mommy’s tummy for so long, she won’t understand or know anything else, so when we put her in the carseat, she won’t know what a carseat is, or that Mommy (and big brother) really are right there and haven’t left her, so she will probably cry a lot in the car at first, just like Teddy did (one of our first trips to the Bay Area grandparents took us almost three times as long as normal due to this “phenomenon”…) Her ability to accept these situations, sights and sensations with comfort and security  will only come with time and consistency. And so it is with Teddy: just because his meltdown is happening because he dropped his cracker and it broke, and he doesn’t want a new one, he wants THAT one to not be broken doesn’t make his strong emotion any easier to deal with, and thus any less scary for him. He’s still learning how to process and regulate his feelings in such a way as to be healthy for him, primarily. We still need to walk him through his trigger, his reaction, and his tools for calming himself, and we do sound like “those” permissive hippie parents while we do it. Too often, my focus becomes not disturbing those around us, or quelling my own embarrassment that such a “big” boy is being so “unreasonable”, but the reactions that come from those motivations are never helpful, not even in the short term. But just as I wouldn’t expect a newborn to respond to “Oh, you’re fine, just pipe down” when she is frightened and confused at being strapped into a carseat for the first time in her life, neither should Teddy be expected to just instinctively know how to calm himself down in a “socially acceptable” way the first (or even the twentieth) time. This is, of course, something that is very challenging for me, so having these daily discussions has been incredibly helpful. 

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All of this to say that our conversations about his new sister have been some of the sweetest moments of the past nine months. He is already so protective of her, and has thought of so many ways he can help with her care, and help her grow. He wants to dress her and feed her, and show her how to ride a bike. He wants us to move her carseat over to the middle, so he can hold her hand if she’s sad. He gives her kisses every morning and evening, and often during the day for no reason at all. He loves to sit and snuggle “wit Marf-ta” when we watch videos or read books. For a while, there, he seemed hesitant about the idea of witnessing her birth; he had some concerns about what color she would be when she came out, and also mentioned that he doesn’t “want to get splashed” if her birth is as precipitous as one of the videos he’s watched. On Sunday morning, March 23, he turned to me and said, “You know, I should be there when Baby Marf-ta comes out. So I can hold her RIGHT AWAY.” We talked for a little while about post partum bonding and how babies sense of smell is so important in the beginning. That night, as we snuggled at bedtime, he said, “I wonder what she will look like.” He said she thinks she will be born with no hair, just like he was, but that it will grow in “yellow”. (Yellow is his favorite color.) 

 

I guess we will see if he’s right soon enough!

 

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Catching Up

It’s been a long road, but, all of a sudden, every day could be our last one as a family of three-on-the-outside. We are excited, but it’s bittersweet. Our weekdays have been “Mommy and me” for so long; I’ve caught myself getting teary every once in a while as we go about our routines, such as they are. Teddy is so, SO excited to be a big brother. He has been asking for a baby sister for two years. His sweet, loving nature is perfect for helping to create a nurturing welcome for a wee one. I can’t wait to see him in action. And I can’t help but be fearful, every time he expresses his excitement about the new baby. He is already very aware of the fragility of this expected arrival. Out of the blue, two weeks ago, he turned to me and told me how happy he was that his baby sister was still living in my “tummy”. “I’m glad,” he said, “that she didn’t die, like the other one.” A few days later, he told me how sad he would be if this baby sister were to die, as well. Our miscarriage was so difficult for him, as it was for us to help him through. This is what scares me the most: the idea that he would have to face that loss again.

Of course, I don’t talk about it very much, as fears like this get dismissed. “Oh, stop worrying!” and “Everything will be fine!” We’ve spent a lot of time (and money) specifically on this issue, on finding ways to face these fears without letting them take over. We (or, more accurately, I) have found that pushing them aside or trying to “just” forget them only gives them more power, as my inevitable failure to make them “just go away” leads to guilt and anger on top of the fear. I am so grateful for my team of care providers for this time in our lives, for their ability to just listen, to really HEAR what is happening. They have all seen this before, although I have found that online resources for pregnancy after loss are rare. It’s been such a relief to be able to voice the fears and just have them heard. There’s no fix, really, so they don’t bother trying. It’s about awareness. The known fear can be faced when the time comes. Just as the emotions and fears evolved over the course of the pregnancy, so they will during the labor and at birth, and talking about them now prepares us to handle them when it becomes necessary.

So, here we are, 39 weeks and counting. Waiting and hoping. Praying. ❤

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The title is optional

I’m not sure where or how to begin, so I answered some questions from a friend I haven’t been able to catch up with in a long time as a starting point.

 

What kinda birth pool are you planning to use? 

I bought an Oasis kit, complete with faucet adapter, hose, liner and a wee little skimmer to, um, skim things out of it with. 😛 We will see how comfy it is; I’ve earmarked some puffy blankets to put on the floor underneath it if need be. And because the baby in my belly somehow managed to eat my brain, it took someone else suggesting this before I even considered it: put pillows/cushions on the floor of the tub, BEFORE you put the liner in. Uh. DUH.

 

 

How ya feelin’? 

Well, two days ago I would have just whimpered at you, because “something something joints and sacrum and mumble and L5 misalignment and OUCH I can’t WALK”, but a couple of adjustments over the course of three days, and I’m about ready to take my big belly to run a marathon. Except I’m also really tired, because I wake up a lot at night, and it’s hard to get back to sleep.

 

Who’s on your birth team?  I have a pretty cool midwife. She’s a runner, and she has boys. She reminds me a LOT of a very dear friend who I don’t see very often, and I am so comfortable with her. Her student midwife is also my doula, which was not the original plan, but ended up working out really well. She lives close to me, which completely eliminated my concerns, which were as follows: calling too soon because my doula lived so far away. Not wanting to call too soon, ending up calling too late. Not wanting to go through the saga of “where I’m at” with this pregnancy and my life in general with yet another person. They both already know everything, having absorbed it all from the very beginning of my pregnancy, so now we can get down to the business of having babies without having to start from the beginning with my emotions and hangups.

 

Aside from the essential attendants for responsibility and safety, we have hired a friend who is also a professional photographer to document the labor and birth as much as she safely can, and we have another friend on standby for video-taking/Eddie wrangling, if we feel we need or want it.

 

 

How have your feelings about rain changed since moving from the east coast to the west? 

I always disliked rain, because rain always meant that fun outdoor plans were cancelled. My bi-coastal move did nothing to change that, though. Not by itself, anyway. (For a brief summer in Colorado, I grew to love the fifteen minutes of rain that our area got every afternoon, because it would send all the tourists inside and then when it stopped it would just be us locals again. I’ve been a grump for a very long time. “I love getting older; I feel like I’m aging into my personality!”) Four years in a California college solidified my dislike of rainy weather, as, of course, getting around campus meant a lot of walking. In the “winter”, that meant a lot of walking in the rain. My first year as a married woman, living in Northern California, it rained every.single.day that first winter. I was working as a nanny to four kids under 7 at the time, so my animosity towards rain doubled. Our move to the coastal area of the central region of California promised to be more moderate, but the daily winter rain followed us there. It was the wettest year in recent memory, and I still feel that they had me to thank for that. The rain followed me. But now, we are in a severe drought. Our livelihood depends on the success of local agriculture. Countless jobs hinge on adequate rainfall, and food prices are poised to skyrocket if we don’t get some stinking rain, and get it soon. So now? Bring it on. I love the rain! I love that it nourishes our earth and our bodies. I love how it makes the ocean outside our windows turn murky colors and watching the play of sunlight and mist through rain clouds over the water is one of my favorite ways to unwind.

 

Am I right that certain fashions make no sense?  

I am going to shock you and say that I believe that all fashions make no sense, objectively speaking. Of course I like to keep up with certain trends, and I’m drawn to this or that “look” or style. But if you look at the whole picture, it really is kind of weird how wrapped up and involved we all get in something that is basically pure function (covering parts, keeping warm/dry/sheltered from sun or rain). Come to think of it (and I’m probably going to do this “thinking out loud” thing quite a bit on here), we do that a LOT. Everything from cars to food to reusable water bottles: once the function is there, the form becomes the focus. Everyone has their favorite water bottle, even disposable ones. I used to buy Fiji water BECAUSE the bottle was square, and I thought that was just so cool. 😛

 

What’s Teddy’s favorite part of school? 

All of it. He never wants to leave. He has blossomed so much in a year and a half. If I had to pick, though, I’d say that whether or not they will go to the “blue playground” that day is usually his top concern about his upcoming day at school.

What kind of sandwich do you want right now?

I want to try something I found on Pinterest. I make our own fermented sourdough bread, and I want to make a grilled Brie-and jam sandwich with it. Doesn’t that sound delicious?