Thursday, January 31, 2013

I didn't want to be a mother

I have an amazing husband. I always knew he would be an amazing husband for some lucky lady out there. I'm glad it's me.

Want to know why he's amazing? Well, I will share just a few out of the hundreds of reasons why. 

Almost daily I hear some variation of what a great mother I am. Sometimes it's, "You're such a good mom." Sometimes it's, "You are so nurturing." Sometimes it's, "You are so maternal." And it's usually followed by, "I always knew you would be." This still surprises me.

You see, we started dating when I was 16 and he was 17. Yes. We are high school sweethearts. Throughout the years we would talk about having a family. He really looked forward to being a daddy and a provider and he really wanted me to be the stay at home kind of mommy to our babies. I loathed that thought. I dreaded it. I was just so sure that having babies would ruin my life. There's a popular phrase in my church regarding motherhood and that's "the joy of motherhood." You always hear about the "joy of motherhood." Inside I would scoff every time I heard that phrase. "Yeah right," I thought. I was just so sure my life would be over once I started having babies. I would never be able to pursue my dreams and wishes anymore. I would just be stuck at home all the time wiping little behinds and noses. What a drag. 

And I even went so far as to secretly hope I wouldn't be able to have children. I didn't think that thought too hard because I think a part of me didn't ACTUALLY want that to happen. But the thought was there every now and then in a surfacy kind of level and I would quickly shoo it away. 

I remember reading an article in the Ensign magazine, a magazine published by my church, about a woman who didn't want to be a mother. I thought, "Finally! Someone like me!" Usually the motherhood articles are all about the "joy of motherhood." Well, even that article turned out to be a disappointment because she eventually came around. By the end of the article she loved being a mother. "Well, that won't happen to me. I don't want to be a mother and that's that."

I'm not sure what I thought would happen. See, I knew I would have kids one day, but I guess I thought I would just be resentful about it all the time. I'm well known for my superbly rational thinking. In case you can't tell, that's sarcasm right there.

So years passed and both Robbie and I went about fulfilling our dreams. When I was 25 and he was 26 we finally got married. One Sunday, not long after we got married, we were hanging out at his parents' house. Like we liked to do, his mom and I were looking at pictures and she was telling me about them. I loved doing that for two reasons. First, I loved spending that time with her learning their family history and second, it would drive Robbie nuts that we wouldn't limit our talking and laughing to the commercial breaks. So that particular Sunday, and I really think she did this on purpose, she showed me one of Robbie's baby pictures. Like one of those squishy, three month old, toothless smile, baby pictures. Like, oh my goodness I have to have one NOW, baby pictures. He was so cute! My ovaries were like, "Helloooooow!"

I had no idea that the term "baby fever" even existed, but from that point on, I had it. Bad. 

Now that I have, not one, but two gorgeous baby girls, I can't imagine my life without them. I am learning what this mysterious "joy of motherhood" is all about. It's not all sunshine and daisies all the time, but I am just so in love with my babies. Maybe it's how I am designed with all those wonderful hormones flowing (mmmmm oxytocin) that make me love my babies. Whatever it is, I am thankful for it. 

I am also thankful for my fertility. I am enjoying the heck out of my childbearing years. I cherish this time. Birth. Babies. Breastfeeding. It's all so marvelous! I am in awe. In love. With all of it! 

Who would have thought that I would have gone from, "I don't want to be a mother," to Kristi the birth junkie? I'm a total junkie! What a transformation. Birth will do that to you. 

And this is why my husband is so awesome. He saw through all of my negative thoughts about motherhood and saw my potential. He had faith in me long before I did. I am thankful to have him as my partner in this parenting journey. It wouldn't be nearly as amazing and cool beans without him. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

New Mom Advice: The dishes and laundry can wait!

"The dishes and laundry can wait!" they said.

"Your newborn won't wait!" they said.

"Enjoy this time!" they said.

I remember when Lily was a tiny baby, I quickly grew frustrated by the fact that all she wanted was for me to hold her. I couldn't put her down for five minutes without her starting to cry. Of course I got plenty of advice to just put her down and let her cry. Or, if I picked her up all the time, she would NEVER want to be put down. As a first time mom, that advice bothered me. I didn't want to let her cry. She's a new baby after all. It's normal for her to want her mommy. I really just wanted to be able to put her down to do the things I needed to do and have her be content about it. It just didn't happen that way.

I tried babywearing. Lily hated it. She wanted to be held, but she didn't want to be smushed up against me. Or maybe, I just didn't know what I was doing and she could tell. Whatever the reason, babywearing never happened.

So I had a messy house. At least for a little while. It drove me nuts! I couldn't enjoy holding and cuddling my newborn when I knew there were dirty dishes in the sink and piles of dirty laundry in my bedroom. I scoffed when I would hear (or read on the Internet is more like it), "The dishes and laundry can wait." Because that's not realistic, right? You can't just NEVER do the dishes and laundry. I mean, stuff HAS to be done. You can't just live in filth!

Well, time went by and I figured things out. Lily grew up and eventually learned how to play by herself for long enough for me to get things done. Sometimes there were days where I would fall behind, but I always managed to catch up to a point that I call my "breathable level." There will always be dishes to do, and laundry will never end. But there is a point where the dishes are done enough and the laundry is done enough that I can put that urgent "need to do the dishes now" feeling out of my mind and enjoy being with Lily. 

When I was pregnant with Kimberly I would think about how I felt when Lily was a baby. I made a promise to myself that I would do better at not worrying about the dishes and the laundry. I would do better at soaking her in and not worry about the fact that all she'll want is to be held.

And I've done a decent job so far. She's only 2.5 weeks old, but I feel like she's grown up so much already. I asked Lily to take her time growing up. There were many nights as I was rocking and nursing her to sleep where I would whisper in her ear, " Don't grow up too fast, okay?" I begged her, but she's doing it anyway. I tried to enjoy her babyhood so much, that when I would think back on it, that I wouldn't need to miss it. Even with some of the worry about stupid things like dishes and laundry, I tried to cherish the sweet moments, the cuddles, the night time nursing and rocking so much I would never need to miss it. Well, it didn't work. I find myself missing it. I find myself wondering, "Did I soak it in enough?" And I am still begging Lily to not grow up too fast. I mean, she's already singing her entire ABC song and she wants to do everything herself! She's starting to decline hugs and kisses, and while I respect her desire for space, it breaks my mommy heart that she is growing up so quickly.

So when that familiar feeling of frustration started creeping up this morning when Kimberly wouldn't let me go two minutes without picking her up, I had to remind myself of the promise I made to myself. I wouldn't worry so much about the dishes and laundry. It would wait, and I could let it wait and it would be okay. 

And no sooner had I propped Kimberly up in my lap in a way that she was content enough for me to fold clothes, when Lily walked up with her birthday cake telling me to, "Blow!" It made her so happy for me to blow out the candles on that silly little cake toy. Her smile said to me, "I matter. My mommy thinks I matter." I wondered, "Can she tell? Can she tell that this takes effort for me? Can she tell I am trying not to worry about the dishes and the fact that I have spent the last five minutes trying to fold one towel? Can she tell that entertaining a toddler doesn't really come naturally to me? Can she tell that I am making an effort to be present for her? Is it okay that I am having to try and that it doesn't just happen?" I tried to stay in the moment with her, giving her my entire attention, and not worry about the awful poopy smell indicating a diaper change needed to happen and the missing articles of clothing that were no doubt removed and stashed in her bedroom. I wanted to remain completely present and not let any of those pressing "need to do's" interrupt the moment. They could all wait.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Postpartum Recovery: When the Sun Goes Down

Yesterday was a glorious day. The temperature was comfortably warm, the sun was shining and a cool breeze made everything perfect. After breakfast, I decided to put Kimberly in the Moby and take Lily to the park to play on the slide. I loved being able to soak in the sunshine. To me, sunshine is happiness. 

Kimberly slept the entire time, so I was able to devote time paying attention to Lily. I loved how she smiled as she experienced the big girl swing for the first time. I was a bit nervous, but I didn't let it show. She did great! I loved how proud she was when she climbed the stairs and slid down the slide all by herself. "I did it!" she proclaimed. Yes, she did. I tried to spend most of the time sitting on a bench near the slide, but Lily would come grab my hand and lead me around. We didn't go anywhere in particular, but I thought, "I better enjoy this while I can because it won't be long before she'll lose interest in leading me anywhere. She won't want me to join her on all her adventures forever." 

Yesterday was such a blessing! I enjoyed the sunshine, the breeze, Lily and Kimberly. Perfect. 

But then the sun started to go down. It wasn't completely set before I had to close my curtains. Seeing the light outside grow dim makes me feel so sad. I'm not sure why, but I feel that I am affected by sunlight so much more during the postpartum period. This happened with Lily as well.

So far my postpartum recovery has taken a similar path as it did the first time. Not everything is the same, but my emotional recovery is following a similar path. For instance, sunshine. Ordinarily I much prefer Daylight Saving Time. I wish we could just stay there all year. I love sunshine! 

After Lily was born I missed the heck out of the midwives that I saw during my pregnancy. Especially Debbie, who caught Lily and Dawn, who I saw the most during my pregnancy. In fact, I missed them so much that I was HAPPY when I got mastitis the second week because it meant I got to see them again! And I couldn't wait for my 6 week check-up. I don't miss them so much anymore. After all it's been almost 3 years, but I'll always have a measure of affection for them. I get giddy with excitement when I get to be a doula for a mama who is giving birth with them. 

So naturally I shouldn't be surprised that I miss the heck out of my midwife and doula after Kimberly's birth. I'm truly thankful that I have a leg in the birth community (well maybe it's a toe right now) because I couldn't bear the thought of not ever seeing them again. Even waiting until my next pregnancy would be way too long! Lest I get overly mushy about how lovey-dovey I am feeling towards them right now, I will move on to my next point.

With Lily I felt pretty weepy for no reason during the first week. It would usually start right as the sun was setting. It didn't help that there was no rational explanation to satisfy those around me as to why I was crying for no reason. And of course I offended several people who were helping me out. (A note to anyone helping out a mama during the postpartum period: it's not personal. Take nothing personally. Just love.)

So naturally I shouldn't have been surprised that, come night fall, I would get weepy. Only this time there WAS a rational explanation. This time, my midwife let me know that it was normal to cry a lot when my milk is coming in. And she said that before I even mentioned being weepy! It felt good to have an explanation that made sense. With that explanation I could feel thankful for my tears because it meant my body was working as it should. She said, "Let your tears and your milk flow." I love that! 

It looks like today is going to be another gloriously sunny day. I think I'd like to spend another day soaking in the happiness. Mmmmm.... sunshine. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Enjoying the moment

One of my biggest weaknesses is that sometimes I have a hard time being fully present and enjoying the moment. For example,  for most of my pregnancy I lamented the fact that I was unable to take on very many clients. At the beginning of 2012 it seemed that I was going to be able to attend lots of births. I was very busy. Then. Nothing. No inquiries. No births. Nothing. I ached to attend births. However, it seemed like the universe knew that I was going to need that dry spell. At the beginning of the dry spell, I learned I was pregnant. During weeks 6-18 of my pregnancy, I experienced a surprising amount of nausea and vomiting. There was no way I would have been a very useful doula during that time. I finally started to feel thankful for my break. Finally, halfway through my pregnancy, I attended a wonderful birth. I hoped to be able to attend a few more births before giving birth myself. However, inquiries started coming in for January, my due month. I had to turn people away. What a cruel joke! 

For some reason I had a hard time being taken care of as a pregnant woman. During my first few visits with my midwife I talked about doula work and how hard it was for me to be the pregnant woman. For some reason it was hard for me to take care of myself. I wanted to help others and take my mind off of being pregnant. I enjoyed being pregnant but for some reason I really wanted to keep my mind busy. And not having any families to serve and births to look forward to was torture!

I decided that I would force myself to start my maternity leave in December. It  was and continues to be so hard seeing my friends and colleagues keeping busy attending births while I am just being a pregnant lady and now babymooning lady. I worry about becoming obsolete. Irrelevant. I worry about being forgotten. It's especially hard to see how busy January has been for everyone. 

I think at some point around 37 or 38 weeks I surrendered to my pregnancy after having a really good talk with my midwife about it. I told her that I was feeling a little self-conscious in the way that I would probably end up laboring. During the second half of my pregnancy, I started to practice the Hypnobabies materials. As I got closer to my birthing time, I expressed concern that I didn't think I would be able to labor quietly and zen-like. I so wanted to be one of those amazing zen-mamas I have heard about. I was afraid I would moan and moo like a cow again like I did during my first labor. My husband said, "It got the job done." I expressed concern to my midwife and that's when she talked about surrendering during labor. I wish I could remember exactly what she said, but I can't. I do remember how I felt though. It's almost like a switch got turned in my mind and all of a sudden I didn't worry about it anymore. This wasn't the first time she was able to say something that just instantly alleviated my worries. 

After our talk, I didn't worry anymore. I didn't worry if I labored noisily. I didn't worry if I did my Hypnobabies wrong. I didn't worry if I used my Hypnobabies at all. I didn't worry that I didn't have any doula clients. I didn't worry about when I would resume attending births. I finally started to think about MY birth, whatever it was going to be. I finally started to enjoy being the pregnant woman. 

And then, in an instant, it was all over. My labor started quickly and just as quickly as it started, it was over. I had a baby in my arms. And now, I miss being taken care of as the pregnant woman. I wish I had enjoyed it more while I was there. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Birth Story of Kimberly Alexis

Around 5pm on my guess date, January 10, I started to notice signs that I thought might indicate my waters were leaking. I was not sure, so I just went about my evening as usual. After my husband came home I would share my confusion with him. It seemed like every time I would move, something would leak. We went to bed, and around 3am (January 11) I woke up to take a usual middle of the night bathroom trip. I saw what I thought HAD to be amniotic fluid with a tiny bit of blood. I thought maybe I would see my bloody show soon. I had been on the look-out for that for weeks. I decided to try to go back to sleep and hopefully wake up with contractions. Needless to say I couldn't sleep. Around 4am I woke Robbie up and asked him to keep me company for awhile and also asked that he stay home. I texted my midwife and doula just to give them a heads up. I started getting restless and thinking of all the things I needed to do. I asked Robbie if I should blow up the birth pool and he said, "No, you'll wake the neighbors." I put the drop cloth down and spread out the birth pool just to have that part done. After that I went and did the dishes that were still in the sink and tidied up as best I could. There wasn't a lot left to do as I had been working on getting our home ready the past few days. Robbie came into the kitchen around 5am to me to ask what we should do with Lily, our 2 year old daughter. I said, "I really don't know. It wasn't supposed to happen this way. I was just supposed to have the baby before she woke up." For whatever reason we just didn't talk about it anymore. I think we went to go prepare the bed at that point. Around 5:30Robbie decided to get ready for the day and I said I would listen to a Hypnobabies track to try to get more sleep. They always knocked me out.

During the CD I started to get uncomfortable. I denied that they were contractions because they just weren't measurable. They just made me uncomfortable, but it was enough that I started to cry a little. That was weird. After I finished the CD, I went into my room to blow up the pool. I didn't care about the neighbors. I needed something to do to distract me.

I sat on the floor to blow up the pool and it was so uncomfortable having the floor basically push back against my bottom during a contraction. So I started sitting funny. Robbie came out of the bathroom to find me crying because I was so uncomfortable. I felt stupid because it was just too soon to feel that bad. It felt like I had maybe a minute to rest between each contraction. I wasn't timing them. He knelt down beside me to try to offer some comfort and encouragement. He tried to get me to vocalize through them and I said, "I'm not ready. I feel stupid. It's too soon!" Robbie called Sandra, my midwife. She asked if she should come. All I could say was, "I don't know! I don't know! It's too soon! I don't know!" So we waited. Robbie called Jessica, my doula, and she asked if she should come. I said yes. I remember telling him, "Tell her I am being very irrational." I remember at that point I was on my hands and knees rocking back and forth and bonking my head against the side of the birth pool. Once Robbie got off the phone I bonked my head against him a few times. He told me that Jessica said if things were going too fast for me then to get in some water. Sandra wanted us to wait to get in the birth pool until she got there plus it wasn't ready. I opted for the shower.

Because I knew she lived farther away and wanted Jessica and Sandra there at the same time, I asked Robbie to have Jessica come. Robbie was baffled. "You want the doula but not the midwife?" I abandoned my efforts with the birth pool and told Robbie to finish it. I was getting in the shower. I put one of my birth balls in there to sit down and let the water flow over me. I couldn't get comfortable. I started to vocalize. I hated the feeling of having the birth ball push up against my bottom during contractions. It's as if it was trying to push the baby back in when it was trying to come out. But I didn't recognize that. I just thought the UP FEELING was bad.

After awhile I got aggravated with the birth ball. I got on my hands and knees during one contraction and then threw that thing out of the shower. I just sat on the floor of the shower and leaned back a little to relieve myself of the up feeling. It helped a little but not much. I heard Jessica come in and it immediately smelled good. I thought, "Oh doula!" I couldn't help but appreciate the essential oils. I thought she was wearing them but she told me she put it on the cloth I had nearby. With her there I kinda became a little more honest and even said, "I hate this!" She reminded me about the baby and started asking me about pushing sensations and whether or not I felt pressure. I did but I still thought it was too soon. I was so mad about how intense it was so quickly that I would growl during contractions. Sandra came in shortly after Jessica got there. I'm glad Robbie just made the decision to call her again because I forgot about that part. I really started feeling the need to poop during the peaks and started yelling, "Poo poo!" during the peaks. I still didn't think it was the baby. Sandra asked if she could check me. I didn't want her to because I just knew I was just 3cm. But I said yes. I was complete and my bag of waters was bulging. That was my first and only check of my pregnancy and labor. They mentioned something about getting out and having me labor on the toilet. I said, "Oh no! Not toilet contractions! I have heard about toilet contractions!" But I got out anyway. I had to spend one contraction on hands and knees first. I didn't like that either.

Somehow I got out and started laboring on the toilet. Not fun! They told me to just go with the downward motion and to push if I felt like it. So I did. It felt terrible but oh so good at the same time. Sandra asked me to reach down to see if I could feel the baby's head. I tried but didn't really feel anything. I kept pushing and felt burn so I said, "Burn! Burn!" and they had me pant. I missed that sensation during my first birth. During one push my bag of waters pretty much exploded. Apparently I asked, "What was that!!???" and nearly shot off the toilet. It was pretty funny. So before I knew it I was standing up and Robbie was back in the bathroom helping to support me. I remember Sandra doing something with some sort of tool and later found out the baby's head was out and she was suctioning. There had been a bit of meconium. I gave one last push and the baby was born. Robbie said, "He's here!" I still hadn't checked to see if the baby was a boy or girl. We had just assumed the baby was a boy the entire time. I sat back down on the toilet holding the baby and just giggled and breathed. I was shaking pretty badly but happy. I can't remember who said it but someone mentioned looking to see what the baby was. A girl! I just laughed and laughed! And then I think Robbie said, "Oh. Sounds like Lily is awake now." I had no idea what time it was but things happened exactly like they were supposed to. I had the baby before Lily woke up.

It appears that I labored for two hours. 9 minutes of that was the pushing stage, but it felt so much longer than 9 minutes. Kimberly Alexis was born at 8:16am weighing in at 9 lbs 4 oz and 21 in long.

I told my doula later that I don't think I could have labored in the birth pool. I said I needed to have living, moving water. With my first birth I labored in the jacuzzi tub at the hospital and there was something about the bubbles and the whirring of the jets that comforted me. With this birth I needed the movement of the shower. The still birth pool didn't appeal to me at all, even though I thought the entire pregnancy I would want a water birth. I just really like that living water.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Pregnancy Update: Nearing the end

My guess date is this week, so I thought it might be fun to give a little update. I want to try to remember as much as I can. 

I had a visit with my midwife today, and physically things seem to be just fine. The baby is in a great starting position, my blood pressure and fluid levels are great and the heartbeat sounded wonderful. It took a little while to find the heartbeat though. My midwife asked my belly, "Where are you little baby?" And s/he kicked her Doppler. And there was this huge swipe across my belly too. I think s/he tries to run away from it sometimes. It was very cute.

Mentally I am not quite ready to go into labor. I don't have that this-baby-is-never-coming-out feeling. I don't have that ready-to-be-done feeling either. I'm getting closer, but I am not quite there. 

I haven't had a cervical check because I really just don't want to know. I know they don't really tell you much so I don't want to be disappointed or get my hopes up over a number that doesn't really matter right now. 

I started taking some Evening Primrose Oil last Thursday. I have seen some responses to the oil that indicate it is working or at least doing something positive. I tried listening to the Hypnobabies "Come Out, Baby" CD today, but Lily woke up from her nap in the middle of it. 

I'm not really concerned about when I will go into labor, and I am not in any hurry yet. My midwife did say that she would like to see me have this baby before 41 weeks so I don't have to get a NST done, but I would like to have this baby so I don't have to teach flute lessons! They start back next week and I don't feel like teaching with a huge belly. 

I don't think I'll have the baby tonight, but I do have a feeling I may over the weekend. Just a teensy tiny little feeling. 

I think we'll blow up the birth pool tonight. I also need to change my shower curtain liner and scour out the bathroom one more time. I also feel like I need to clean the floors again. Yesterday I organized the closet in our bathroom, so tomorrow my random nesty task will be to clean the floors. On hands and knees.