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The expectant ones

28 Jan

I’ve been thinking about you and what it must be like when you get here. A search term entered here. A series of clicks there, and suddenly you find yourself immersed in this story.

I know, because I was once you.

You’re safely beyond that unpredictable First Trimester. Or not. Your doctor has smirked when you’ve used words like “natural” and “birth plan.” Or not. Your belly it itching. You can’t sleep. You have high blood pressure You feel great. You feel lousy. You’re confident. You’re afraid…

And then you read my story.

How unfair that I have posted it. The horror of that outcome.

And yet here I still am, preaching natural, unmedicated birth. Everything in this culture tells you to be afraid of birth. Tells you that it’s dangerous, best left to professionals. Women die during child birth, don’t you know that? And here I am, the waking dead, singing the song of natural birth.

Bullshit, you say. I don’t blame you.

I used to have this fantasy, during the weeks we attended our Bradley Method classes, that in some future class we would be standing in front, just like those other couples we met. Instead of the blonde opera singer who was married to the polo-shirted engineer, it would be us cuddling our baby and teling the story of our birth. It would be us giving the we did it, and so can you speech. We’d talk bravely about all of the things our doctor thought might be wrong with me, all of the interventions he wanted to do that we said no to. We’d discuss openly our decision not to be induced, talk about how I championed through those weeks of slow labor, and the wonders of that warm shower nozzle for getting through contractions.

All of those things are true. They happened, but we will never be invited to share our story. Mine, is a cautionary tale. That rare possibility that we don’t dwell on in class. My tale says birth is best left to the professional, and carefully controlled with narcotics, and medicines.

Do whatever you have to do, Doctor. Just get me out of here alive.

And now you’ve combed through the archives. You’ve read the stories and you’ve lost hope. Or been shaken. You won’t take chances. You’ll do what your doctor says. He knows what’s best. Birth is risky. birth is dangerous. Women die.

I’m so sorry that that’s the only story I have to give you. I so wanted it to be different. I want to tell you that your baby can come out fully alert with eyes open and ready to nurse. I want to tell you that when your breasts are sore and the baby is crying and it’s 3 AM and you have only slept 2 hours out of the past 48, you will know that you’re going to make it through, because your birth experience will teach you that, if you allow yourself to fully experience it awake.

I want to tell you that I am fat, out of shape, neither an athlete or a an attachment parent hippie. I’m a regular woman who cries when she stubs her toe just like you do. And I want you to know that this is in you. A happy, successful birth is in you. And I believe in you. I know how strong you are. And I can’t wait for you to see how amazing it can be. And yes, it feels like nothing you’ve ever felt. And no, it’s nothing like a menstrual cramp. and you’re going to be fine. women do this every day around the world.

You’re going to be fine. Even though I wasn’t.


A Year, A Lifetime

31 Oct

When I awoke on Halloween morning last year I was anxious. My period was officially one day late and that meant it was officially acceptable for me to throw on some clothes, rush to Albertsons, and ask the pharmacist for the key to locked cabinet which held expensive and frequently-shoplifted items like blood pressure monitors, diabetes supplies, and pregnancy tests.

The trip to the store was somewhat unusual. For years I had kept a regular supply of pregnancy tests under my bathroom sink. I’m not in a place where I can explore the full story with you. Every relationship has its dangerous third rail, that place where you are both so terrified to go, you whisper about it, or speak of it as That Thing That Shall Not Be Named. Expanding our family beyond the tight bond of two people was one such topic for us. And for years we had been meticulously tracking all activity surrounding my fertility in an effort to avoid pregnancy. Only couples who are trying to conceive are more aware of their ovulation window than we have been for years.

But we weren’t trying to conceive.

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Conception Day 2007

19 Oct

Today, Garrett and I are celebrating an unusual anniversary, the conception of Lyra. I suppose we’re not the only ones to commemorate such a day, and if you have more than one child, such commemorating might be a bit silly. But, we have and will only have one child. Even if we decide to use surrogate or adopt another child some day, in our lifetimes, there will only be one lovemaking session that resulted in our giving birth to a child. Therefore, I believe it deserves special acknowledgment. Even if that means simply remembering.

Shortly after I learned I was pregnant, I wrote a blog entry that I never published. In fact, no one else has read it before. Not even Garrett. I decided today to did through my archived files and  post ity for you, here. It wasn’t written a year ago, today, but it does describe what happened. It’s a letter to the child that was growing inside of me. I had very little vision of who he or she was, but I wanted her to know that she was loved. I also wanted him to know that though he was unexpected, he was not unwelcome.

There is much about Lyra’s creation that seems fated. From her conception, to the harbinger of First Trimester bleeding, to the yin and yang of her arrival. There is not one day that I have had with her that I have not been grateful. We came so close to not sharing more than a few minutes together. But I was meant to be her mother. And she was meant to be a part of our lives. Right now, in this time, and it could not have been any other way. So with that, I honor her creation, by telling you her creation story.

The post contains a modest, but frank description of a love-making event. If that makes you blush, or you’d rather not know me in that way, I suggest you skip the rest.

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