Still alive!

I came here expecting to find the place littered with old beer cans and cigarette butts.  It floors me to think that baby D is 6 months old – and the experience of infancy in the fast lane is so deliciously novel to me, it merits celebration.  This because I still remember all too well how it felt to have. finally. actually. made it. through. the first 6 loooooooong months of g’s existence.  At that time it felt like a triumph that he was still alive but I was only barely convinced that I was.

This time?  Well, I am tired! As in so tired that I would probably offer the entire contents of our savings account to anyone who promised me a couple more hours of uninterrupted sleep at 5 am most mornings.  Life on our own with two little ones is challenging and exhausting.  But I need to add to that the fact that I’m doing well.  In fact, I would even use the word happy, in the underlying existence is a wonderful privilege kind of way rather than the skipping down the street while whistling sort of way (I don’t have much energy for skipping these days).

I am really grateful to those of you who have checked in with me during these long months of silence on my part.  Had I actually intended to step away from this blog, I would have come in and shuttered the windows and said my good byes.  But in reality, I always expected that I would find the time to write a post – tomorrow.  One thing I like about this lifestyle is that, while I am physically occupied more hours in a day than I deem to be safe for human health, there is still plenty of time for thinkin’.  And thinkin’ leads me to watin’ to share and discuss – and blog.  And there he is, baby D, awake after a full 46 second nap, as usual.  So I will see you back here, ahem, tomorrow.

 

I’ve missed you!

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Habemos Baby!

We got a live one folks!

He decided to come early, my little May Day boy: Dario.

His birth was the kind of experience I believed to be reserved for others; I’m still struggling to believe in this new version of my reality.

And holy shit, I am so GRATEFUL!

One of these days I will come up for air and I hope to record some snippets of these early days that are so entirely different from my early days with g – sleep deprivation aside, of course.

For now, know that we are doing very very well.

XOX

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Screen time

G and I put down our books and strolled time into the kitchen for a snack.  He filled the coffee pot while I munched on almonds.  Life is better without a computer, isn’t it?  While my mind was busy formulating a 5 part response that included the word no, my mouth quickly blurted out: yes!.

Damn it.

Our computer started having problems several weeks ago and G brought it to two different places to have it fixed. Although it turned out to be a relatively straightforward hardware problem, the diagnosis itself was slow-going and just like that we became a non-digital household.  The second G was out of the driveway, electronic box-in-hand, g asked to see a video of a backhoe and protested loudly when I told him that it was simply impossible.  The whole next day I hovered around the non-functional monitor trying to get my bearings.

And then, we just forgot.

We read books. We played together. We talked to each other.  g never asked to see another video.

I’m not ready to give up this connection to the digital world.  There is the practical side: bill paying, newspaper reading, research, etc., the frivolous side: things like browsing all of the lovely things on Etsy or indulging in day-old Daily Show episodes and, of course, there is social media.   I already gave up using Facebook. I don’t use Twitter or Instagram but I do love blogging.  I can’t point to anything that I’ve missed more.  G accuses bloggers of being one more facet of the hey, look at me! exhibitionist-driven web 2.0 but I truly don’t agree.  We all need to believe that what we put out there has enough substance to merit sharing with the 2, 10 or 2,000 readers that might see it but most of us enjoy reading other people’s thoughts as much or more than we do writing our own.  I believe that this is real community, even if it never results in a face-to-face meeting.

So I’m not ditching the digital any time soon.  And I look forward to getting caught up on all of your blogs.  But I would highly recommend the occasional break from screen time because it’s good to remember that, as wonderful as the internet is, there are some other very time-worthy activities waiting on the sidelines.

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Trust

I spent a wonderful morning with a good friend of mine the other day.  She and I have a few things in common.  We have nearly 3 year-old boys who are just a few weeks apart, a similar desire to keep a few chickens in the backyard, and, coincidentally, we are are both pregnant – our due dates just two days apart.  She also had a turbulent pregnancy with her little boy, although none of her troubles were directly related to the pregnancy.  But her son’s birth itself, or at least the telling of it, is the stuff of reverie.  He was born at home, in the company of loved-ones and supportive midwives.  Acceptable pain and no complications.  No monitors or tubes.  No hospital gown.  No NICU team.

I have several friends who have made the decision to give birth in the comfort of their own homes, a choice that seems to be rapidly gaining in popularity, at least among us neo bohemian types.   By quick count I can identify 10 babies born, only a single birth transferred to the hospital due to complications.

I’ve enjoyed hearing these birth stories.  Without resorting to terms like “natural” or “meant to be” that are commonly thrown around in reference to birth, it is obvious that all of the women I know came away from their home birth experiences with positive memories, which is something that every mother-to-be hopes for.

I, however, am not planning a home birth.

Personally, I haven’t managed to lose sight of the fact that things like disease and death are also perfectly “natural” and “meant to be”.  I am grateful to those advances in modern medicine that have succeeded in nudging those parts of the biological process a little closer to the margins.  But there is one aspect of the decision to choose a home birth that truly inspires me: the trust.  A pregnant woman chooses this option because she has complete faith in her body’s abilities.  It is a trust that those of us whose bodies have met with failure, sometimes repeatedly, will never know.  And I suspect that it may even be a powerful force in determining outcome.

As I come closer to acknowledging the reality that I will be giving birth in the near future, I realize that I may have some decisions to make about the process.  This is new territory and I don’t really know how to approach it.  While I know enough to avoid developing things like expectations or hopes (beyond the safe delivery of both of us to the other side), I’m beginning to think that I should formulate something resembling a birth plan.

I may never know the kind of trust that allows one to convert a bath tub into a birthing center but it may be time to prepare a little, just in case….

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Retracing old footsteps

In just a few months a full 3 years will have passed since I exited those bright lobby doors, not quite 5 pound baby in my arms, my heart as heavy as my shaky legs from the long weeks spent inside.

They redid the lobby. It’s modern and airy, like an upscale hotel, proof that the business of delivering around 8,000 mostly affluent babies per year is a good one. I wasn’t quite ready to go back just yet but my doctor heard my complaints about the difficulty of adapting to life as a standard ob patient and declared that it was time to exercise some vigilance.

Non-stress tests (fetal heart rate monitoring). Twice/week for now. You remember, don’t you?

My trivial attempt at rebellion faded into the ether and there I was again staring at those glass doors, attempting to focus on the fidgety toddler at my side, the one who really needed to be home getting ready for his nap. Selfishly, I was grateful that I could drag him along, a powerful reminder that things are different this time, that I am different this time.

The thing about experiencing pregnancy after a loss is that it pretty much guarantees that you will find yourself walking along familiar pathways.  It’s hard not to notice your old footprints. The calender itself is a minefield of  LMPs, EDDs, ultrasounds, and anniversaries of loss. Then there are the exam rooms, the milestones, that jar of prenatal vitamins, that blue maternity shirt…….

I tried not to think about going back to the same room where I had last sent the nurses into a frenzy - no heartbeat on this one – what do we do again?

The testing went fine.  I went back there and I’m fine, probably better off now that I won’t have to face another first time back.

They redid the lobby, after all.

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Fighting the fear

I hate being pregnant.

It’s not that I don’t believe that a positive outcome makes it all worth it or that I don’t recognize the debt that I owe to the process (thanks Mom!).

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the fact that being here, 29 weeks along, is a gift in itself, a gift that doesn’t always come easily.

It’s just that this a terribly scary place for me.   The recent tragedies that have befallen other bloggers have served as potent reminders, not that I really NEEDED reminding, of just how fragile this state can be.

And yet with each passing day I also catch glimpses into the way that it is “supposed” to be – the casual conversations with the postman about giving g a sibling, the talk on the playground with other parents of two young children about “how one does it”, discussions of birth plans and post-birth arrangements.  The more entrenched in this role I become, the more terrified I feel.  To me, normal is bed-rest starting at 24 weeks, high risk specialists, an unsure outcome.  I find far greater security when using the term “if” than I do when using “when”.  And yet I have little justification for such an approach this time around, which should be cause for celebration.  If only I could convince myself that it might even be ok to embrace this good fortune.

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Pregnancy equilibrium?

According to my friendly neighborhood pregnancy tracker, I am now 26 weeks pregnant.  And I suspect that I may have reached my equilibrium point.  People talk often about that gestational sweet spot where you are no longer experiencing the nausea and fatigue of the first trimester and have yet to arrive at the bloating and soreness of the third.  Fortunately, I do feel physically better than I have in many months.

But that’s not the pregnancy equilibrium that is currently on my mind.  I am referring to a mental state that exists at a precise point between the overwhelming terror of loss and the panic of recognition that this may actually be headed towards a good and proper outcome.

I feel like I just arrived at this point and yet I am acutely aware that this is no steady-state.  I can already feel the voice of apprehension intensifying.

You are going to have a baby, it is saying.

CRAP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am genuinely afraid to confront this reality head-on. I have only ever known newborn-ness in strict association with trauma and I can only remember it as one of the most punishing times of my life.  Of course, there is something especially powerful about the grueling cocktail that is infant colic mixed with hormonal mayhem, extreme fatigue and a squirt of first-timer insecurities. I am quite sure that if this particular concoction could be recreated at will no state secret would ever be safe again.

I am reminded over and over, it is bound to be different this time.  And I will cling to that hope until the end.  But, in the meantime, I will celebrate this very fleeting thing that I’ve been granted, this sure-to-be short-lived equilibrium that is granting me a bit of serenity on an otherwise long and difficult journey.

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