November 14, 2017

Five years old

Looking at Felix fall asleep on his fifth birthday, I had a pang of loss, realizing he is at the start of peeling away, slowly slowly, away from needing his mother. He is set to be more and more independent with each passing month and year. I can see the man he is becoming in his little face, peaceful in slumber but already strong and resolute in his identity.

It is an unavoidable part of my job to prepare him to individuate and eventually thrive without me. It is such a bittersweet proposition. I've seen it coming from the start, but the milestone of five years seems substantial. He could survive now even without me, if he had to. That's not in any of my plans, but at least I finally have my life insured.

I love my boy more than life itself, and I will be with him as long as he wants. He was worried one night that I didn't like him anymore (I took a bit longer to come to bed), and I assured him, "don't worry, you'll get sick of me long before I leave you!"

November 11, 2017

Five years ago

Five years ago, I was two weeks shy of my due date, and my mother was driving the eight hours plus  from the mid-Atlantic to the Ohio Valley. Little did we know, our angel boy was going to join us sooner than expected, even beating my own birthday by a mere hour!

As I look at him sleeping warm and cozy next to me now, I recall those last days before he came to join us, small and crying and uncomfortable, but strong and fast growing. The midwife ordered us to eat lunch and meet her at the hospital. My mom still remembers fondly the Jimmy John's sub/wrap we ate in the parking lot of the park across the street from the hospital. We saw deer, and obviously thought that must be a good sign. It was too cold to eat outside, so we sat in the car, wondering what the hours ahead would bring - her, beyond exhausted from the recent trek, and me, scared but confident in my team: mother, midwife, doula, and friend Meghan (who promised to come that night right after her evening engagement).

The baby was small and had to come out TODAY. Our plan to ask for one more day dissolved in the face of the resolute and concerned midwife we saw at the office that morning. We looked at each other and shrugged, okay, here we go...... Once registered at the hospital, the prior plans were falling into place: IV on top of arm, guided birthing meditations, doula Alice by my side, and my take-charge mother, having to take a back seat to labor/delivery staff and nature itself.

My foremost concern, beyond a healthy child, was to avoid a c-section, but I had secondary goals, like no epidural, no epesiotomy, letting cord pulse before cutting, and immediate kangaroo care. Since I was being induced two weeks early, I was on IV pitocin/oxytocin to prompt delivery. No one knew how long this would take. In fact, by evening, the midwife told me via phone, "I'll see you in the morning for delivery," which would have meant sharing birthdays with my baby.

My baby had other plans. After an intern accidentally broke my bag of waters-I was FURIOUS- during a Foley bulb insertion to mechanically open the cervix, things became more urgent, and fortunately my body progressed toward delivery, soon entering active labor. A new L&D nurse was stressing me out, losing the baby's pulse with the monitor, every asking "can't you just labor in one position?" to me, as I went from floor to bed to floor with each contraction.

The midwife was summoned, when it became clear the baby was not waiting until morning. Thank goodness she was there, as I was howling and starting to screech toward the end, she was the one to remind me, "All that energy is going up when you scream. Use it to push down." Ahhh, yes, that's what they were saying in those classes Meghan and I went to for four weeks, wondering who might think we are a lesbian couple.

Meghan encouraged me with "You are doing great. You can do it." Alice was by my side through each position shift, keeping a calm head to advocate for my wishes, and to capture the most valuable photograph I have - me, hair matted in sweat on my brow, holding my newborn, all bloody and still attached to me by a cord, as I look at him with wonder, joy, and exhaustion.

It was a blur after that, but I'm told my wishes regarding the cord were honored before my mother did the honors of cutting it. The placenta was delivered, inspected, and later taken home for another woman to turn into medicine for me. My baby, small for gestational age at just under 5#, was cleaned, measured, treated, and returned to me.

November 5, 2017

urban life

 I like how, being a night owl chronotype, there are still plenty of people on the train to work at 10am. Due to the large population, the tails of distributions are less lonely.