The Giver

This blog has always been a compilation of moments in pregnancy and motherhood that I never want to forget. As parents, we find life is a mix of minutes and days rushing by exactly like the time-flash forward scenes in the movies, and moments when we hold that baby or toddler or ten year old on our lap and force their body close to our own heart and breathe in their essence. Every small moment was possibly preceded by a completely different emotion. We can go from feeling like the bottom-feeder of parents to taking that necessary breath and pause in our own reactivity, leading to the moment your child’s face lights up in pure joy. (I would in fact argue that provoking joy in a child is easier than frustration. Unless they are 3. Then you’re screwed.)

Bringing your child to daycare or preschool may be surrounded by a personal mixture of emotions, including guilt. Guilt at leaving them, guilt at enjoying the adult time away, guilt you can’t even put your finger on. But when you walk into your child’s school room at pick-up time and you watch their face turn toward you and light up with recognition it fills my heart with love and my eyes with tears. You told them you would return after nap to pick them up and you DID. You are a parent to be trusted and you are rewarded by little feet that have a direct route to your arms and wrap themselves around you.

It’s the look on their face and their arms clutching you, but when they cry out, “Mommy!!” in a way that no one else on Earth will every use your name, that is when the moment becomes one of those times to seal away in memory.

One of my favorite all-time books is The Giver, by Lois Lowry. Briefly, it is about a futuristic dystopian society and one of the ways in which this community had evolved was to eliminate strong emotions. In order to take away pain and suffering the society had also found it necessary to eradicate love and joy. The people in the community were content, they weren’t even aware of what they were missing one way or the other. For as long as this society had been established, it was decreed that there would be one person in the community who did experience all of these emotions in the form of memories. This person was a sort of living historian of an ancient time when emotions were uncontrollable, but they were forbidden to share this information with anyone except the next Receiver of the memories, who would carry the burden until being able to transpose them to the next recipient. The living historian was known as The Giver. Beyond many layers and twists to this plot, there are scenes where The Giver places his hands on Jonas, The Receiver, to share a memory. The Giver knows his job is to pass on all of the memories, but dreads having to impart the painful ones, so he follows them with personal favorites: family celebrating Christmas, the contentment of being on a boat in the middle of the ocean, the thrill of sledding followed by delicious hot chocolate.

What if there was someone in your life who wanted to know exactly what it felt like to be a parent and you had the ability to transpose memories and emotions? You could send them a snippet of what true sleep deprivation felt like, or how the cries of your own child actually trigger a biological reaction in your soul because your DNA understands that the baby is trying to communicate with you in the only way they know how…but THEN you could apologize and place your hands on the shaking, petrified friend and let those unpleasantries melt away into the scene where you open the door to your son’s classroom and at first he doesn’t realize you’re there. He’s engaged in a three-year old’s conversation with two of his schoolmates about the toys in front of them on the table. It doesn’t take him but a moment to instinctually look up, though (perhaps the wafting essence of Mommy?). His eyes widen and his mouth cries out with that, “Mommy!!” Compulsive giggles punctuate the running of his feet to tackle whatever part of your body he can make contact with first. He looks at you with so much unabashed love and his arms cling around you while he whispers, “Mommy…Mommy…Mommy,” nuzzling into your neck.

There are things that break your heart in life and then there are the things that strengthen that non-muscular version of the organ. This time you are filled with a healing, glowing, bursting contentment. All is right with the world. This is definitely one of the moments, one of the memories, that I would gladly Give to a friend who wants to feel exactly what it’s like to be a parent.

Click here to be brought to Amazon's listing of The Giver

Click here to be brought to Amazon’s listing of The Giver

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Teachers Will Not Be Carrying Weapons

I write to process thoughts and emotions. In the instance of the Sandy Hook Elementary mass shooting I’ve had no words. Or rather, no sentences. Plenty of words that splutter out (senseless, why?, tragic, heartbreaking, why??, horrific, scary, empathy, why???, sympathy, love, fear, WHY) but no way to form them into comprehensible sentences. After obsessively refreshing CNN, NPR, ABC, and Facebook until well after midnight Friday into Saturday I steered clear from new information for a while. I had enough to make my broken heart throb and visions race endlessly through my head. I had enough to keep a constant stream of tears coursing from my eyes, while also drinking in every cell and particle that makes up my own son and daughter. The son and daughter that every parent should have an inalienable right to hug, kiss, and tuck in at night.

I was shocked at the first Facebook status I saw in regards to protecting gun rights. How could anyone let any other thought through their heads except, SIX YEAR OLDS MURDERED? Someone’s world, their hearts, their souls…taken. Then I cried again, that people were so selfish to want to protect the cold piece of metal that was the reason for so many dead.

If you think you have freedom because you can carry a firearm, but you don’t have the freedom to be standing in a mall, movie theater, or school without harm or death; then you have fooled yourself into believing you are free.

The party’s over, pronounced someone close to me that was formerly in the military. Tell every citizen to bring their @#&%ing gun to a local armory by Wednesday. You want to hunt? Fine! Drive over, check out your weapon, hunt, and return it to the armory. No more easy access guns. It’s done. All around me others I would have thought favoring guns surprised me into commenting about the changes that needed to be seen immediately. I don’t judge anyone negatively for hunting or even shooting guns at a shooting range. It’s not something I enjoy as an extracurricular activity, but when practiced responsibly and in a safe place, it’s not a danger to others.

Of course mental health is the driving factor for this and other cases of gun violence. Mentally stable people will not kill someone, unprovoked. Yes, if a person wants to kill someone and they are unable to get a gun they may use another method. It is pessimistic to think that every mentally ill person who thinks about killing people will do so just because they could have the means somehow. Stop it! Maybe they won’t. Maybe without the ease and convenience of, say, opening your mother’s gun cabinet, a sick person will never follow through. Maybe without weapons that have the capability to shoot so many rounds in seconds, less tragedy will bring an entire country to its knees over and over again. Maybe saving even one life, having one less person murdered, is worth it.

Lastly, I’ll dispel illogical statements about having teachers carry weapons. This will never happen. Doing this will create the unsafe environment for students that you are trying to protect them from. Do you know what kind of worlds have everyone armed and trained to kill others? The increasingly popular dystopian society books do. The kind of places that you think, oh that sounds frightening. I would never want to live there.

Mental illness can begin showing signs at an early age. There are elementary teachers who need a safety procedure in place in case a disturbed student puts themself or others in danger. Often times it involves removing everyone else in the classroom and having them be in a safe place while the student rages within the classroom. It is often dangerous for staff and students to attempt to physically remove such a student. The student may be throwing furniture, using language that is abusive for the other small ears to be exposed to, or the child may be in such a black-out fit of anger that they’ll use whatever they can get their hands on as a weapon. I once had an 11 year old student stab another student in the leg with the very sharp, metal point of a math compass. Imagine if such a student knew that I had a gun in the room?

I used to keep a box cutter in my classroom. It was to cut into tennis balls that could then be placed on the legs of the chairs so they didn’t scrape up the floor. I kept the box cutter hidden, covered, in a box, in the back of a high cupboard. And no one knew of its existence. That was the only way I felt safe about it being in the room, because it is irresponsible to have weapons within reach of children. Sometimes accidents happen. Sometimes kids are pressured or bullied into trying something that crosses boundaries they normally wouldn’t cross. There’s the possibility that even a sane child could accidentally cause harm with a weapon. Classrooms are supposed to be a safe haven of peace. A place children spend the majority of their day. We want children, and adults, to feel loved, nurtured, and safe in schools. Eliminating, not adding, weapons is the answer.

Let’s entertain the teacher-with-gun scenario for a moment. Say the teacher has a weapon “safely” unloaded and locked away from children. Would the teacher be able to reach the gun in time to use it against a person randomly attacking the school? Say the teacher is at the other end of the school and has time to locate and load a weapon. The teacher even shoots the attacker, ending the barrage. Meanwhile, so much time has gone by and the weapon used by the attacker shot hundreds of rounds by the time the teacher got there. Many lives are still lost. And students are still traumatized by gun violence, a shoot-out that now involves their trusted teacher.

Guns offer an impersonal convenience. You can kill someone from a distance. The victim may not even have time to make a noise. Say a mentally ill person tries to attack people in a school with a knife. I think it’s fair to say in most cases the attacker is not going to kill as many people as the in the Sandy Hook Elementary devastation, before being overpowered. Also, I may not have gun training, but I have self-defense training, and it’s possible that I could overpower someone who’s on the same “playing field” as me. Give me a rush of adrenaline and a set of car keys and I promise you that your babies under my care will not have a hair on their heads touched.

People who come into public places and terrorizes others are terrorists. We began a war on terror many years ago, but it will continue until we end the terror that grows within our own country every day.

I pray for peace and healing to every person affected by the Sandy Hook shooting. I weep for the children and adults, beautiful souls leaving this world too soon. I hope that everyone grieving for their lost loves has arms that they are able to cry in. I hope that teachers, students, and parents everywhere will come to a time when they don’t have a nightmare what if vision constantly playing through their mind. That parents will be able to tell their child they love them before dropping them off to school, but because they do-not because they’re terrified the last words uttered to their child would be anything else. I pray that even though there will NEVER be a justifiable reason as to why these innocent people lost their lives there will be repercussions that help to save someone else.

Hammy Downs

We have received a plethora of girl clothes as hand-me-downs (“hammy downs”). Mountains of them. I have bins stuffed full of clothes from ages newborn to 7 years. Not so many after 2T, but some. I hardly understand how there is a market for ALL of the new baby girl clothes in stores. I mean, I understand why people want to buy the adorableness of  baby couture, but the necessity of buying new has been barely justifiable for me. Luckily, I was able to indulge as Nora was low on some seasonal staples, like footie pajamas for 3-6 months. We’re good now.

A Hammy Down hat photo shoot

Meanwhile, I was going to hoard Liam’s clothes in bins in the basement, but key word being hoard here, I had to let go. Of some. Ok, most. I divided it up into a small amount of gender neutral that Nora could wear, a small amount of MUST KEEP items–just in case, and then split the remaining into “giveaway” or “consign.” Then I let a friend rifle through the consign bags.

Have you been [happily] bombarded by hammy downs? What’s your philosophy on previously-loved clothing?

 

UpROOTing

Throughout several blog posts dating all the way back to my pregnancy with Liam, you have heard me mention our childcare center, ROOTS. I am devastated to announce that our beloved ROOTS is closing next month and we are now on a desperate hunt for new childcare.

Herein lies the problem. How are we ever going to find someplace with ALL that ROOTS gave to us with Liam? There were little perks like non-toxic cleaning and a priority to being eco-conscious (and bestowing this onto the children).

And then there were the big things. Liam had been there since he was 8 months old. Some of his buddies from ROOTS he knew from infancy because of our postnatal classes at Birth Roots (confusing, but a different organization than our childcare center), and many of his dear friends that he sees 5 days a week, for 8 hours a day, he met at ROOTS.

They met when they were 6 months old and now go to ROOTS together. Liam is in the brown and his best buddy, Wyatt 1st from the left.

Hugging friend, Maren, at ROOTS

The staff has been the most loving, spirit-nurturing group I could have ever hoped for. While there have been faces coming and going they were carefully selected individuals who knew the names of every child in every room, not just the ones under their own care.

Laying down for a nap at ROOTS and snuggling with Miss Meggie

Oh, Miss Meggie, you’re way more fun than napping!

Every day Liam was exposed to art, yoga/movement, free play, exploration, books, learning, nature, and music. Not only world-wide genres on the ipod, but singing, drums, guitars.

A REAL guitar, for me?? (At ROOTS)

Art project in the Toddler Room at ROOTS

9 months old, finger painting at ROOTS

The outdoor space at ROOTS didn’t have your typical primary-colored play structure. It had a boat, a giant sandbox, a play house, stepping logs, a garden, a water table, and toys to explore with.

Liam & Eve playing outside at ROOTS

Toddler Room friends in the boat at ROOTS

The staff, or “guides” in each room have hand-written or typed a daily journal for each child, including pictures. Where else can I find a childcare place willing to do this? Sometimes, if I am not running late, I will stay for morning circle time with Liam and join in on the songs. It ALWAYS takes me at least half an hour to collect Liam at the end of the day because I’m chatting with the guides and other parents picking up, or playing with Liam and his friends. They go for walks around the neighborhood, to playgrounds and to the library. In the infant room, where Nora would have been starting next month, the guide will wear a baby in an Ergo or Moby wrap, rotating the babies in the buggy and the one being worn. They are familiar with, and use, baby signs for communicating. Liam has an impressive vocabulary, knows letters, and has learned about things like sea life, and the butterfly’s life cycle. He throws down the best Downward-facing Dog and Triangle yoga poses I’ve ever seen. His natural ability for music is nurtured and excelled by guides who play the guitar, drumming circles, and dance parties. The guides will integrate montessori activities, like using fine motor skills to place objects from one container to another with tongs. Liam has an imressive art portfolio at 2 years old.

If anyone knows of any childcare facility even remotely close to this stature in Portland, please, PLEASE contact me and give me the information! Not only will we miss our community and excellent care at ROOTS, but I am having a massive anxiety attack about what I will do for childcare. I begin working again at the end of August and I need to transition an infant into a place that I’ll be unfamiliar with. Liam will have to transition to a place where he won’t have friends and caretakers he’s known almost his entire life. Excuse me while I grab a paper bag and breathe with my head between my legs right now.

Self-Correcting Shape Sticks {Shape Shifter}

You know how time moves at the speed of lightning with one child? Throw another one in the mix and I need another analogy for something that’s faster than lightning. It’s bound to make a mama feel a little inadequate in the parenting department when it seems like the only conversation you had with your little one comprised of “No!” and “Don’t do that!” So, in true overachiever form, I overcompensate by throwing activities into the tornado of the day. Then I feel like the activity is rushed and any educational value in it is diminished, but at the same time I feel accomplished because I “did” something with my child. (Naturally, the lesson to take away here is to take as much joy in your everyday moments as you can. Or, put more one-on-one time into the activity so it has more meaning.)

The other day I threw togther these self-correcting shape sticks to introduce to Liam. The plan was to sit down with him and practice how they work a few times so that he gets a chance to be comfortable with them. He’s 25 months old; I don’t expect him to pick it up right away, but I did plan on taking a quality 10 minutes with my son to play with the sticks.

I got tongue depressor-sized wooden sticks and colored, circle labeling stickers. Obviously, you can only make shapes with straight sides. Since Liam’s only been introduced to basic shapes I’ve only begun with two shapes: triangle and square.

Self-correcting is a term that teachers tend to be familiar with if they make their own materials for their classroom. Self-correcting activities were a huge deal when I was in college for education. In some way, usually by color-coding, you make it possible for the child to check whether or not they did the activity correctly. Small children love their autonomy and self-correcting activities give them independence with the game.

Use the same color circle stickers for all sticks used for the triangle. I chose the green dots. I took three sticks for the three sides of the triangle and put green stickers on each ends of the sticks. I also took a Sharpie and wrote “triangle” on each stick. The child can check the color of the sticker and also the word. I will not claim that Liam can read, but it will help him become familiar with the word.

Separate triangle sticks.

The child places the sticks together with green dots on top of each other and make the shape it says on the stick.

Make the sticks create a triangle.

Choose a different color sticker for the sticks that create the next shape.

I show the sticks to Liam, explain how they work in simple, toddler terms, and let him explore the sticks on his mini table. I decided not to push him through the activity and just let him play with them.

Okay, so the creating shapes part didn’t happen this time, but most importantly he will forever remember that time Mommy made him that super fun game about making shapes….

BAAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA!!!

40.2 & 40.3 {Nora’s Birth Story}

Author’s Note: This is a birth story. There’s birthy stuff in it. Consider yourself warned.

On Wednesday, April 18th, 2012 I posted on Facebook that despite some backache and cramping I probably wasn’t having the baby that day so I was going to catch up on some Mad Men episodes. I went to bed way too late, especially considering I hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before. And at 12:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 19th, I woke up with an obvious contraction.

I instinctually got onto the floor in all fours, almost Child’s Pose, and breathed through the contraction. Damn, I thought, I hope I’ll have a while inbetween contractions because I really need some more sleep. I crawled back into bed, closed my eyes, began to drift off…BAM! 8 minutes later I’m on the floor again.

I was convinced this was going to last many-a hour as my labor with Liam had been 16 hours. I mean, even if it was shorter it would be like 10 hours, right? So, I was annoyed. I breathed through contractions every 8-ish minutes, on the floor, and grumbled in my head how of course I wasn’t going to get more sleep even though this was going to last forever. I didn’t wake up Husband, or my mom who was sleeping down the hall in the guest room. I figured this was manageable by myself and everyone else should get some rest, even if I couldn’t.

At 1:30 I must have gotten a little more noisy in my breathing techniques on floor because Husband woke up. He must have looked over at my side of the bed, saw I wasn’t there, and looked for where the low moaning was coming from. He chuckled when he saw me on the floor, simply because he wasn’t expecting me to be there, on all fours.

“DO NOT LAUGH.” I growled in Satan-Contraction voice.

“Sorry! I’m sorry.” He asked me some reasonable questions about my contractions to which I mostly ignored because I was in the middle of a contraction.

Husband began timing contractions and announced after a few that they were about 5 minutes apart. Wasn’t that when we were supposed to call the midwives? I was still convinced that this was going to last so much longer and didn’t want to rush off to the hospital and “inconvenience” my midwife in the middle of the night for nothing. I brushed off the call question.

My phone buzzed. My mom was texting me from the guest room. How are you. She could hear me from down the hallway. And yet, Liam, who is known for waking up during the night, slept on. I wanted to text back something smart alecky, like, I’m fine, how are you? but kept the sass in check and reported contraction length.

My mom came down to our room. “Your contractions are less than 5 minutes, Katie. You need to call the midwives.”

Are you suuurre?? I still debated through contractions that seemed to be more like 2-3 minutes apart now. I wanted to take a shower because I hadn’t had a chance to shower the day before and I refused to give birth without showering. My mom went in my bathroom to start the shower, giving me my phone and ordering me to call the midwives. Since it’s the middle of the night, you get an answering service who pages the midwife on duty, who calls you back.

Jen, the midwife on duty that night, called me back immediately. Jen had been the first of two midwives helping to deliver Liam, so I was happy to hear a extra-special, familiar voice. She asked me questions about my contractions, and later told me she knew I was in active labor just by my voice, but didn’t mention that on the phone. Instead, she asked how far I was from the hospital. 15-20 minutes, I told her. “You should head there now, and I will be there waiting for you,” Jen told me. “I was going to take a quick shower,” I lied to her, thinking about how I needed to shave my legs and definitely blow-dry my hair. She gently told me to take a quick shower and get to the hospital.

The next 40ish minutes were a blur. It was difficult to take a “quick” shower because I had to pause every 2 minutes to have a contraction. Husband was running around packing the car, my mom was calling our list of friends available to come stay with Liam in the middle of the night. (Our first two calls ended up being unavailable and my mom was getting nervous, but our third friend got to the house in record speed.) Liam slept on.

As soon as I had sufficiently showered and, yes, blow-dried my hair, my Husband and mother gently, but pointedly, herded me into the car. The car ride from Hell ensued. Looking back, I was probably in transitional stage then. I was leaned over the back seat, screaming my low-guttural baritone into a pillow while every tiny bump in the road seemed to invoke a contraction. The whole 15 minutes felt like a continuous contraction. The bad ones.

We pulled up to Mercy Hospital and a security guard came to escort us up to the 2nd floor. He had to hold the elevator door open for the time it took me to have another contraction in the elevator and couldn’t walk out. I made it to the front desk, where they had all of the paperwork ready for me to sign, and then when we were walking the short distance down the hall to my room I had to stop for another contraction, leaning against the wall.

I hardly realized who was around me, but I know that Roger was with me and my mom was bringing our bags in from the car, so she wasn’t back with us yet. There was at least one nurse that I remember.

I was ushered into my room and I immediately bent over for another contraction, forearms and head leaning on the bed. At Mercy Hospital’s Birthplace the rooms are all private labor, delivery & recovery rooms (LDR). I remember taking my pants off, you know…for technical reasons. The nurses were trying to fasten the fetal monitor around my belly while I was leaning over the bed, but to no avail, and suddenly it seemed like the contractions were continuous; I couldn’t stop long enough for them to hook me up to the monitor, no matter how annoyed the nurse seemed to be about that. (I remember this particular, older nurse from Liam’s birth. Crotchety old thing. Every other nurse at Mercy has a phenomenal bedside manner.) As fast and impromptu as everything was happening, suddenly Jen was at my side. My mom was there and at some point my sister showed up too. Jen was asking me to lay on the bed so that she could check my cervix and see how dilated I was. I couldn’t lay down. Every time I attempted to climb into the bed and lay down I would have a contraction, and the only position my body wanted to be in for a contraction was leaning onto something or on all fours. Laying down was impossible.

I looked at Jen at the end of a contraction and said, “I feel like I need to push.” “That’s okay, go ahead,” she replied calmly. What? Really?? I just got here, it can NOT be time for me to push! I should have at least ten more hours to go! But my body knew differently this time…so I pushed while standing and leaning on the bed.

I’ll try to be as delicate as I can for this part, but the truth of birthing a child is that it presses against your colon when it starts to move down and out. This is why you poop when you give birth. When I started to push I was horrified to think that this was about to happen on the floor in front of everyone.

“I want to go on the toilet!” I pleaded, and my mom and Jen helped me hobble to the toilet. As I pushed through a couple of contractions on the toilet I worried that I was going to push the baby out, right into the poop. Just as this thought crossed my mind Jen told me that I needed to decide where I was going to have the baby; in the bed, in the shower…just not in the toilet. Phew, we were on the same page with that one.

I decided I wanted to try the bed. The beds in the birthplace are all fancy and move around like a Transformer to serve whatever birthing purposes you wish. With Liam’s birth I had been sitting in the bed, the top part up like a chair back,the bottom of the bed moves away and my legs were being held up by various family members (they kept rotating because I had pushed for almost 3 hours with Liam). This had worked that first time, and I hadn’t torn, so it seemed like a good option to begin with. And I really thought “to begin with” because pushing no longer meant, go ahead and push out the baby, it meant push for an agonizing 3 hours and then get your baby, so I wasn’t committed to being in one location or position the whole time.

I was helped to the bed where I started to climb up from the end. I began to contract again and stopped, bending over in agony. I could hear Husband telling me that I was doing such a good job. This one was bad. I tried to breathe with the low, guttural baritone that helps your body contract. For the first time I wasn’t able to really control the tone and it came out as an unproductive scream. My mom was firmly instructing me to use my breath well, not to scream. I turned my head toward her and sobbed that I couldn’t do it anymore. (Let’s play a game and start counting contractions at the bed now. That was ONE contraction.)

“Katie, you can, you are almost done!” (sure, sure, they’ll say anything to get you through this, won’t they…) “Listen to me. Let’s say ‘I can do it.'” My mom started the Old Faithful mantra and I choked on my breath, slowing it down to join her through the next contraction that was beginning. I finished that contraction with a low guttural yell. (That was TWO contractions.)

I was still on the end of the bed, unable to climb all the way in. I was trying, but was mostly on all fours, dangling off the end of the bed. Voices behind me were exclaiming that the head was there.

“Katie,” Jen spoke up, “I’d like you to breathe really deep through your next contraction instead making a sound.”

As the next contraction came on I drew my knees up almost froggy-style, opening my pelvis even more. I breathed so deeply over and over, barely listening as voices were crying out that the head was out and the baby was looking at them. They were encouraging me and excited and seemed to think this was it. This was it. It was almost done. My baby was almost all here. I finished that contraction with the deepest breaths I could pull from as far into my energy as possible…and out slid the rest of my baby. (THAT, my friends, was THREE contractions.)

I was sort of on all fours, sort of in a froggy/child’s pose on the bed, attached to my baby that I couldn’t see behind me. Everyone in the room was crying and gasping and exclaiming, but not telling me what gender she was, so that I could see when I held her. I tried to turn over so that I could hold my baby, but was confused which way to go as the umbilical cord was in the way and I was falling off the bed if I moved too far in either direction. Arms were trying to help me up and to keep from falling off as my baby girl was handed to me.

8 pounds, 2 ounces. 21.5 inches long, and dark hair, more sparse than Liam’s impressive mohawk. It was 4:31 a.m. Exactly 4 hours from when I woke up with that first real contraction. Probably 15 minutes of pushing. The whole thing was a QUARTER of the time it took with Liam’s birth.

Some people told me that their facebook timeline had two of my status updates in a row; one saying I was going to watch Mad Men since I wasn’t having a baby, and the other announcing the birth of my baby girl.

Nora Adeline was named the next day. Nora was a name I liked, and happens to be a great-aunt’s name on my mother’s side. Adeline was my great-aunt’s name on my dad’s side. It wasn’t that I got to do all of the naming; I never knew Great-Aunt Nora, my mom told me about her after. For the middle name we put a family name from my side and a family name from Husband’s side on paper and drew the winner. The thing I found interesting though, is that I unintentially have named my son and daughter William and Nora, brother and sister; and my grandfather and his sister were William and Nora.

Nora Adeline

Liam’s Birth Story Part 2

**This is a long story, so I’m posting it in 2 parts. It is the story of Liam being born and my first experience with labor. This was written for myself, but I’m happy to share it with you if you want to take the time to hear our story. While I portray my version of how I wanted to give birth and research that I did, I am not implying that anyone else made wrong choices. This is my story and my opinion for myself. I embrace the fact that you made your birthing choices for you in your time. Peace.

Liam’s Birth Story Part 1

{Continued…}

We arrived at the hospital with our luggage, bags of board games and company. Jen had told us that we’d be moving into our room and then hanging out for a while, waiting for her, waiting to receive the induction drug, and then because it was a mild drug the effects could possibly not even begin until morning. However, when Jen got to Mercy she was told that there were too many women in labor that evening to purposefully put me in that
position as well; there wasn’t enough staff available. It was decided that I would be induced in the morning instead, assuming everything was okay with the baby; and with that I was strapped to the portable fetal heart rate monitor. My sister, mother-in-law, father-in-law and mom left to get some rest and I was instructed to do the same. But I couldn’t sleep. I kept feeling what seemed like contraction-y type feelings, but I wasn’t sure. And the nurse kept telling me that I would know if they were real labor contractions and that these were probably just some Braxton Hicks, or the beginnings of some labor, but nothing serious. She offered me a sleeping pill. I stuck to my personal Just Say No campaign and instead of getting some much needed rest I laid in the hospital bed with my eyes darting around the room and feeling more and more uncomfortable with whatever these contraction-type things were.  And they seemed really close together, which I tried to tell my husband, who tried to tell the nurse…but no one waved a flag and hollered out that I was in labor. Around midnight the contractions (God-dammit they ARE contractions!) intensified. Since the nurse wasn’t going to call me out and get this party started I announced that I thought I was in labor and told my husband I wanted to call my mom.
He convinced me that we should let her sleep a little more and for the next couple of hours he set the contraction timer and tried to help me move around during the contractions and the nurse sounded like a broken record trying to get me to sleep.  There was no way I was sleeping through this! Even though it became more painful later than what I was experiencing it didn’t discredit the fact that I felt pain.

Over the next thirteen hours I can only remember a blur and nothing is in a real chronological order. My contractions were so intense that I felt like I couldn’t breathe and
in turn felt claustrophobic, which caused some panic. They lasted about a minute and a half and there was only about a minute and half in between each one. I felt cheated of the mythical breathing and rest time that was promised through each discussion of labor in every birth class I went to.  I thought I’d be able to walk to the hallways with my husband, stopping to lean against the wall and have him hug me while I moaned softly. HA! The only way my body could recover was to let every muscle go limp like a ragdoll for the 90 seconds until the next wave of torture rolled through.  I know I tried to labor in bed for a little while, scrambling into different positions during contractions. I’m guessing my logic for that was that I was hoping the reason these contractions were so close together was because I was progressing so quickly and I’d be able to push shortly. HA, again!

I moved into the hot tub, which was better. At this time my mom was there, Jen the midwife, my sister and mother-in-law; as well as the labor and delivery nurse that had just begun her shift. Everyone took turns helping me breathe through contractions, nurses, midwives, my husband, even my sister; but my mom seemed to be the only one who could really keep my from having a panic attack on top of the contraction. She would squeeze my hand and lock eyes with me and even though I was emitting a guttural, baritone blast of
noise she would tell me I was strong and it would be over soon. Hours and hours passed, the hot tub water got cold, I stood under scalding hot shower water while they re-filled the hot tub for me. I remember trying to labor on the toilet. Maybe I thought that would help move the baby down. I was exhausted, I wanted to sleep, I wanted the g*%$#mn f%$#&ing baby out already. And it was no longer because I wanted to meet and hold my long-awaited baby, it was because I needed this to be done. I distinctly remember telling myself in my head to NOT FORGET THAT THIS IS THE WORST THING ANYONE COULD EVER DO. DO NOT FORGET. DO NOT FORGET THAT YOU MUST NEVER DO THIS AGAIN. AND IF YOU DO THERE SHOULD BE DRUGS. DO NOT FORGET, KATIE, THEY SAY YOU’LL FORGET AND YOU CAN’T FORGET THIS. ONE CHILD IS IT.

(Yeah, I’m doing it again.)

I’m not proud to admit what I did next. NO, I didn’t demand an epidural. (Out loud anyway.) There were these extremely retro videos that were played in every birth class I attended. The scenes showing real labor helped you learn “tools” to use during your own labor. Mostly we just nervously giggled at the woman yodeling and thought that there’s no way I’d do that.  But I did. No, wait, I didn’t yodel, but I did mimic another woman that I remembered as equally as the yodeler. The drummer. She beat her hand against the wall and had a mantra to get through the contraction. I resorted to a mantra beat to get me through contractions. I started breathlessly telling my mom that I couldn’t do this anymore when a contraction came. And you can’t just give up during contractions. I don’t know what would happen…imploding, suffocation, the baby crawling back up into your
rib cage…I don’t know, but giving up is not an option. So my mom would squeeze my hand, look me in the eyes and tell me that I could do it. I started beating my hand against the side of the tub and would breathe/moan/scream out “I CAN doo IT. I CAN doo IT,” throughout the contraction. My husband says he never wants to hear that phrase again.

After about twelve hours of this blurring, foggy experience, and the shift-change that brought a new labor and delivery nurse and a new midwife, said midwife, Ellie, had me climb onto the bed to inspect the progress.  I’m not going to remember the exact order of the last few hours, but I will give you a montage.  Ellie said that the baby’s head was right
there and that I could push now, but that there was still a lip of my cervix blocking the way.  That meant I was supposed to be pushing the baby past that, but all I heard was PUSH. And PUSH rang a bell through my hazy brain. This is the home stretch! I’m basically done! Everyone who had talked to me about labor had told me that they pushed two times, or had ten minutes of pushing and the baby was there and it was DONE.  F@#%ing mutants. That’s not actually how it always works, apparently.

I pushed like a champ. Ellie told me to work with the contractions and push through them, but to stop when they stopped because it was counter-productive and a waste of my precious energy. Actually, because I thought I was almost done, I caught a 200th wind and adrenaline burst. With every contraction and push I thought the baby was going to come
sliding out. Not so, but I was just oblivious to the instruction that I didn’t have to push for every contraction, that I could rest through them once in a while. Why would I rest? I needed to be one more push closer to the END.

Ellie moved me to a birthing stool. My husband can tell this part better because I had my eyes closed in powerful and deliberate pushing. I remember Ellie telling me that the head was right there and to reach down and feel it, which I did. I didn’t stop for a hallmark moment, though, and it just motivated me further to believe that I was just about done. Meanwhile, Ellie grabbed a flashlight and had my entourage gather around the stool to watch the head emerge. I don’t recall seeing them surround me, although I know it
happened. Finally, Ellie instructed me back to the bed where it seemed like maybe we truly were at the end. I’m pretty sure this is the point where she offered to break my water because she thought it might help get us across the finish line and it was still intact. Wait? What? How could she break my water if there was NO amniotic fluid left, as the ultrasound tech had suggested? He was wrong. There was fluid, and Ellie broke it, which brings us to the pushing out part. I’m going to go ahead and ruin the surprise that Liam
ended up weighing 9 lbs. 3 oz. You might think I was torn to shreds, mais non. Ellie gave me instructions and I am such a good student I followed them to the T.  She said, “Push until you feel that Holy Shit Feeling and then stop. If you push past it you will tear.” Enough said and believe me, I knew what she meant about the Holy Shit Feeling and there’s really nothing else you can call it.  I pushed that soon-to-be-Liam baby out without needing a single stitch after. It is the most insane feeling to be at a point where you aren’t thinking about pushing your baby out to be able to hold him, you’re just pushing to get this
the f@#$% over with; but the absolute second the slimy, squirming baby is in your arms you know that it was for him. There are two pictures taken of me within seconds and one is me with a face of agony and the next is me smiling and kissing my baby. And the first
thought I had was, He smells like cotton candy. Do all babies smell like candy when they’re born or is it just him?

With midwife and L&D nurse