Tag Archives: Birth

Real Talk

December 20, 2013

Real Talk

If you skipped yesterday’s birth story because it’s long and contains birth, our daughter Eva was born last Friday at 5:57 in the morning.

11 hours of labor, 10 minutes of pushing.

Yes, I got an epidural. Yes, I finally pooed four days later.

No, it wasn’t as bad as last time.

Baby E was 8 lbs, 2 oz. and a little over 21 inches long. I have a second degree tear which is nothing compared to the third degree tear that still haunts me from last time. I’m not ready to go horseback riding, but it’s pretty manageable.

Things I wish I could do: Answer phone calls, write thank you cards, lift my two year old into his bed without feeling like my uterus is falling out, walk through a room without tripping over 100 things, eat cheese (postpartum bowels!), maybe leave the house.

Austin has been busy with school this week, which has made things difficult. Caring for a needy newborn and a slightly panicked two year old, alone, while your nethers try to recuperate is not easy. 

Things that have made it easier: Friends who go with you to doctor’s appointments, friends who bring you chocolate brownies and casseroles and bunches of fresh grapes so that you can maybe, finally, poop. Friends (you!) who text and snapchat and call (even though I still haven’t ever answered) and email and tweet and facebook and send care packages and do all the things to say: you are doing this and I love you.

Thank you.

Here are some things that are real:

Waylon loves his sister but does not love anyone else loving her. When people come to visit, he either screams DON’T LOOK AT HER or tries to quietly burn the house down. He is cooped up and longing for my complete attention. I watch him trying to fight through it and it breaks my heart. When he falls asleep at night, I miss him. I feel guilty for being frustrated with him all day long. I look at his newborn pictures and cry. Every day he asks if when he gets little, can he maybe nurse? The fact that he doesn’t remember those 18 months of bonding and breastfeeding just kills me dead. A few nights ago he said in his most sincere, small voice, “I love when you hold me, Mommy.”

We persevere.

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Yesterday I thought my appendix was bursting. So much so that I started mentally writing my eulogy until Austin pointed out that my appendix was on the other side and maybe I just had a baby so that’s why it hurts. I disagreed but he remained unalarmed.

(Postpartum cramping is no joke and worse the second time around).

It’s only been a week. Things will get better. Things will get worse. I tried taking it all day by day but it was too overwhelming so now I’m taking it hour by hour. At one point this week everyone was crying except Austin and I thought: I can’t do this.

But the thing is, of course I can.

One last thing. My greatest fear this time around (besides my perineum falling off) was not being able to bond with the baby or feeling as in love as I did when I met Waylon. I worried about it for nine whole months.

As it turns out, all of you seasoned mamas were right. I had nothing to worry about.

Happy Friday. Hour by hour.

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When a baby is born.

September 12, 2013

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When a baby is born, something shifts. The world becomes a little softer, a little quieter, a little sweeter. It’s just for a moment. Wars still rage, cars still spin against each other, the planet still overheats. But for a few seconds, the air is still as the earth breathes in a new life. A new miracle.

Yesterday I watched my little sister bring new life into this dusty world. Liam Orren Fry arrived on a hot September evening with great gusto, his face immediately puckered into a hearty cry as his parents stared in joy. In terror. In a love you can never take back.

My hands were shaking.

When a baby is born, a family is born. Sleepless nights, sore breasts, and first steps are born. A new spirit joins us and while we can never know anything for sure, we do know that birth always means the same inevitable truth. That love will always win.

It is the greatest gift.

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Physical Recovery After Birth: How Do You Save Your Perineum?

June 11, 2013

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I used to be terrified of birth.

Before Waylon was born, I wasted hours of my life worrying about how painful is this actually going to be? I cry when I stub my toe, so I was a bit concerned about my pain tolerance and the “birth plan” that included no drugs while excreting a watermelon sized human.

If you’ve read my long winded birth story, you know that after 17 hours of hard labor–I got those drugs. My eyes rolled back in my head and Austin said, “Mmmk, that’s enough.”

Seven hours later, Waylon was born in a quiet room to two sweaty, delirious parents with no coherent sentences left. The cord was wrapped around his neck, but it was no big deal because he’s the kind of kid who doesn’t give a shit about cords or meconium or 24 hours of contractions only three minutes apart.

It’s cool, we kept him.

The whole thing was actually pretty beautiful and remarkably not terrifying. I look at this next birth with very different eyes. I’m not scared. I’m not grossed out. I’m not worried about labor or delivery. I’m just excited. I dream about feeling that first contraction and my heart beats fast. It’s the beginning of an end that is so unbelievably beautiful I can’t hardly stand it. In fact, I would say I can’t wait to give birth again.

Compared to last time, the idea is revolutionary.

All of that said, let me be clear about one thing: while birth may be beautiful, postpartum is not. My recovery from Waylon’s birth was abnormally horrifying. I tore badly, did not heal correctly, and experienced excruciating anal fissures. I couldn’t sit comfortably for months. Even now, I get a little dizzy thinking of the pain. I’m glad I’m sitting down.

People say you forget the pain of birth and I agree. I know the contractions really hurt, but 2 years later–that pain is almost erased. I do not forget the postpartum pain. It was the worst pain I’ve ever experienced, which is why I’m here, throwing up my arms, wondering what I can do for next time. Not only will I have a toddler to care for, but Austin will not be at my beck and call to bring me ice packs and play the role of manservant. He will be gone for 12 hour shifts and I will be stuck at home with two kids and 500 stitches.

Dear God, please save my perineum.

This would be a great time for you to tell me all the secrets of an easier recovery. I asked my midwife and all she could offer was maybe using stitches made out of cat’s guts. So there’s that. 

I’m all ears.

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Freewrite: Worst Days

December 6, 2012

 Getting back to the root of blogging with uninterrupted, narcissistic rambling.

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It’s 9:19pm and I’ve had one of the worst parenting days I’ve had in a long time. A 5am wake up followed by a morning of crying, an afternoon of whining, and an evening of unexplainable tantrums. My eyes are heavy and my chest feels tight, like I’ve been holding my breath all day long. I know it’s normal, but that doesn’t make it easier. This is hard. I know we’ve said it a hundred times, whispered again and again into each others ears, but there’s nothing else to say in these moments. This is hard.

I was talking to my friend Carrie a few minutes ago, the one very pregnant with a first baby, and she was saying she’s so ready to meet this child. “I know,” I said, “I know, I know, I know. It’s almost here.” And then I showed her a picture of Waylon and I when he was just born. It’s a picture I’ve never shown anyone else because I look so puffy and tired and raw. I thought she would laugh, but instead she was amazed how big he was. Is that in my belly? she asked. That can’t be inside of me.

I was amazed how small he was. And then I had this strange flashback to that first night in the birthing center. I hadn’t slept for 48 hours and I felt my body shutting down after a long 23 hour labor. When we finally got Waylon to sleep, we turned out the lights and for the first time in a long time, I shut my eyes.

Two minutes later, a nurse came in to draw my blood. She was quiet and sweet, but when I asked her to come back later, she said she needed this now and if I could just stay awake a little longer. I tried to stay calm, but my bed shook with sobs. I wanted to say, “I can’t. I can’t do this. I need to sleep. Please let me sleep.” But I was too tired to speak. Instead, I closed my eyes and let the tears burn. If this was parenthood, I might not be able to do it.

When I think about that moment, that first test, I know I can do this. I know that on my worst day, I am still here. I am still facing it. Even if I’m crying and resisting and wishing I was in a hotel with free cable and feather pillows, I show up.

It is those moments, so puffy and tired and raw, that define us. We are here. We are doing it.

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Would You Hire A Birth Photographer?

October 11, 2012

A few decades ago, men weren’t even allowed in the delivery room. Now it’s your man, your Douala, your doctor, and your birth photographer.

Every day, more and more woman are voluntarily putting their bodies and new babies in front of the camera to capture the first moments of life. It started with celebrities and trickled down to the hippies, home birthers, and Kelle Hamptons. Now it’s commonplace.

When I was pregnant with Waylon, I swore off any photos or offers to videotape the birth of my son. I was sensitive about being embarrassed and worried it might get a little National Geographic in there, with images better kept out of the family scrapbook.

In retrospect, I regret not having the moment I saw my son for the first time on camera. I can hope my brain will never forget it, but sometimes I wish for proof of my soul filled joy.

After researching it a bit, I found that this new niche of photography does have its own set of problems. Some hospitals ban photography while women are giving birth. Videotaping tends to set off even more alarms and is often strictly forbidden. There are places, however, where the doctors and nurses on duty unofficially set their own rules, some even allowing birth photographers to be present during C-sections. Obviously home births are the easiest gig. There, the mother calls the shots (Source).

Admittedly, I’m not sure I want a whole photoshoot of my lady parts in such a sad state of affairs, but apparently I don’t have to. In fact, most clients just want pictures after the baby has made their way out of the ring of fire, which makes sense. The whole thing is a bit messy.

I will say, however, that having done it once has changed my pre-baby National Geographic fears. Yes, birth is raw, but a pregnant woman drenched in sweat and bellowing has become beautiful to me. I kind of wish I could watch the whole thing over again. I’m already scheming about including my BFF (and amazing photographer) in the next ordeal. At the very least, I hope to set up a tripod.

Things could get weird.

 What about you? Would you hire a birth photographer?

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