Nov 11 2014
Credit: Laura Miller
My mom is a midwife. Throughout my childhood, she delivered babies in hospitals. She stroked my head to sleep while on the phone with women in early labor. Long before I learned how a baby is made, I understood that one isn’t in active labor until you can no longer walk and talk through contractions. I picked up on the meanings of “bloody show” and learned that babies come at all hours. While there were inconveniences, there was one big upside: insider knowledge. Friends’ moms disappeared, reemerging with squishy, pink siblings. How it all went down, nobody knew. Except me.
My mom’s career began as a scientist, running a laboratory. A data-driven, rational bent extends into her midwifery practice, which is to say that she is on the more medical end of the midwifery spectrum. But like all midwives, she believes in staying with women throughout labor, helping us birth our babies in our own ways. I also learned as a child that an obstetrician is not inherently better or worse than a midwife, but offers different services and sometimes a different philosophy. Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 28 2014
For my 36th birthday, my husband took me out to dinner and a show in San Francisco, an hour north of where we live with our three kids. This was exciting mostly because we were an hour north of our three kids, and also, because we were celebrating not only my birthday, but also that morning’s pink line on my home pregnancy test. We felt both giddy and overwhelmed by the news, and were happy to be out, distracted.
We saw “The Book of Mormon,” and, as observant Jews, it hit close to home. We laughed and laughed. We were laughing at the show, and, by extension, at the Mormons, just as we were also laughing at ourselves, modern people of an ancient faith living a life of contradictions, trying hard to make sense of the traditions and stories that shape so much of our lives, so many of our decisions. Our laughter was uncomfortable, for we saw ourselves on that stage, and were afraid of the possibility that we too were living in an absurd world of illusions, dreaming of Orlando. Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 25 2014
This post is part of our Torah commentary series. This Shabbat we read Parashat Masei. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.
Baby #2 is due any day now. Since I never went into labor with my daughter–long story short: “failed induction” ending in a c-section–in a way, I feel like this is my first birth. So, now I’m back where I was a couple years ago during the last weeks of my pregnancy with Sylvie: curious, nervous, excited, wondering what it will be like, and reading a lot of birth stories to try and prepare.
The first time around, reading these birth stories, I was just trying to get a handle on the process. Transition, timing contractions, pushing…it was all new information. This time, even though I haven’t experienced those things, I know about them, so I’m focusing a little less on those details and more on the overall stories. And I’m noticing a common thread, which surprises me: Read the rest of this entry →
May 22 2014
Living on an island in Maine–unreachable other than by boat, plane, or helicopter–has its challenges and its pluses. For every moment of feeling like I live in a Manhattan-sized fish bowl–for every canceled ferry boat–there are moments when our tiny community, with just 350 or so year-round residents, functions like a loving family.
If someone has a medical emergency, not only are they often cared for and transported off the island by our volunteer emergency medical service, but a card will appear at the island’s one grocery store, available for all to sign. Donation jars appear in the same spot on the counter for families in need. And perhaps because each new resident represents the continued sustainability of North Haven, the island family is never more functional, motivated, and caring than when it comes to welcoming new babies to the island.
I’ve gotten to see this first hand over the last week, since I had my baby. Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 7 2013
“I’m not even supposed to BE here today.”
That line–one of my favorites from the movie Clerks–kept going through my head as I checked myself into labor and delivery at the hospital last week. The words were incongruous, at fierce odds with the tears and snot that were running down my face uncontrollably as I hit “redial” over and over, trying to reach my husband or mom or, for that matter, anyone, to tell them I was in trouble.
OK, I’ll back up.
You’d think that by my fifth pregnancy, I’d have figured out that the whole “giving birth” thing doesn’t always go as planned. But I’d never had to think about the spontaneity factor–I’d been late and induced for each of my pregnancies. I never experienced the rush of my water breaking, or of excitedly driving to the hospital huffing and puffing through contractions, or of not knowing when my baby was coming. My baby would come on the date I scheduled induction with my obstetrician. Ta da! Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 14 2013
My youngest daughter, Piper, started out life as a pretty sick baby.
She was born in the middle of the night a little over a week early. I prefer to leave the hospital as soon as possible, since I despise being cold and bothered every hour. I like my bed and my house and very much missed my older daughter, Delanie. Piper had “other plans,” as I like to say. She had a small heart murmur, causing us to stay an additional day for some overly expensive testing.
One night, while my parents were visiting, Piper was having a coughing fit and turned purple. My mom, who is an RN, patted her back fairly hard and Piper seemed to be fine. We let the nurse know and she thought maybe because she was born via C-Section (my second) that she did not get all the mucus squeezed out of her. All in all, they monitored her and performed the additional test. Everything came back normal, and we went home. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 24 2013
I stood in the hallway of the hearing clinic, waiting in line for my son’s appointment. I overheard another mother telling her birth story to a 19-year-old girl.
The young girl was slim and trim; her belly skin was so tight that her navel practically kissed her back. The girl responded with something between a scrinch and a smile–it was clear she was trying not to appear grossed out by the gory details, though the contour of her lips said it all. The mom continued to talk animatedly about her painful experience of pushing for 12 hours. She spared no details, explaining how her insides felt as if they had popped out of her like a jack-in-the-box on speed. Read the rest of this entry →
Dec 20 2012
Forgive me a few minutes to vent about doulas, those crunchier-than-thou pregnancy helpers that are as necessary now to the Park Slope set as a baby sling or Babycook steamer.
But I’m pulling the Boppy pillow from under those mommy helpers. In my house, they are don’tulas.
I have hired two doulas in my life–one for each pregnancy. But for all their talk of the beauty of birth and the exhilaration of labor (not to mention their $1500 fees), neither was present for the birth of my children.
Let me explain: Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 8 2012
Recently I sat down with forms for my daughter’s new day care, ready to answer endless questions about whether she uses bottles or sippy cups and how we get her to fall asleep.
I was not expecting to have to answer any questions about my pregnancy and delivery, which happened nearly 15 months ago. But in a section labeled “Part Four: Pre and Post Natal,” there were a few shocking questions including one that made me stop in my tracks: “Did you have any anesthesia or medication during delivery?”
Really?!? What does a day care need with that information? Here, I thought I was moving past my birth experience, enjoying my daughter walking, talking, and climbing, and day care was throwing it back in my face, effectively saying: you may have damaged your child with an epidural.
Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 12 2012
Here’s a beautiful slideshow made by contributing editor Tamara Reese of her second child’s birth. Read below for the full story.
I woke to my toddler calling for me over the monitor at 9 a.m. the morning of August 27th. I quickly glanced at the calendar and whispered a silent “thank you” for making it to 39 weeks.
As I waddled to the bathroom, I noticed the back pain was a little more intense than the day before and I had clearly lost my mucus plug. We had a park play date scheduled and as I brushed my teeth, I had a vivid flash of giving birth in a pile of mulch next to the curly slide. I decided to call my doula. We were on the phone for 20 minutes, and by the end of the conversation she said, “No park. You need to call your husband to come home, get someone to take your son, and head to the hospital.” I told her I didn’t want to assemble the troops for a false alarm and she said, “Since we’ve been talking you’ve had a contraction every two minutes. It’s better to be at the hospital at this point.”
It was 10 a.m. Read the rest of this entry →