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Apr 24 2014

Am I Crazy to Think I’ll Get Any Work Done After the Baby is Born?

By at 2:16 pm

baby-3d-ultrasound

The Maine island we live on is in transition from winter to spring. Ice and snow have given way to alternating drizzle and sunshine. Frost heaves (out here we call them “Thank you ma’ams!”) are flattening themselves out, and back yards and sheds are filling up with freshly painted pot buoys. Murders of crows are sharing the roadsides with flocks of robins.

I’m transitioning with the seasons. We saw the baby in 3D at our last ultrasound, and checked her for growth restriction (all good!). My baby shower was perfect, sunlit, and tulip-adorned; full of delicious food, family, and friends. We even found places for all of the presents, thanks to the cleaning and reorganizing we’d already done.

The last transition before the big one will be handing my classroom over to my long-term sub. Miraculously, we were able to hire someone on-island with enough of a music and English background to cover all of my classes, and a colleague is directing the spring play. I applied for and received a sabbatical for the first half of the next school year, too, so in all I’ll have eight months home with my baby. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 23 2014

The Twins Are Turning One!

By at 10:18 am

Cara-twins-one

I walked into a baby mega-store the other day and passed the clothes section. Out of the corner of my eye I saw something that made me stop in my tracks…the tiniest onesie 3-pack on a hanger. I couldn’t believe how small it was and checked the size: Newborn. I immediately felt a lump in my throat. My babies, my little girls, almost one year ago swam in the enormity of newborn onesies. I was momentarily stunned at the recollection of how small they had been and got ferklempt as I realized how far they have come in the last year.

Almost a year ago, at 35 weeks, I was on bed rest with pre-eclampsia. My blood pressure flirted with dangerous territory, and after a few weeks of “wait and see,” the scales finally flipped–it was safer for the twins to come out than to stay in. To this day I don’t have the words to express how worried I was from the moment that decision was made until the I heard my babies cry just a mere two hours later. Terrified is too mild a word.

Pepper arrived first. They opened my womb and we could hear her shriek as soon as oxygen hit her lungs. We named her well, I thought to myself. Elora arrived a minute later, and her healthy cry allowed me to take a deep breath of relief, a breath I felt as though I had held for 35 weeks. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 4 2014

The Transformative Powers of Bath Time–for Mama and Child

By at 10:22 am

needs-bath

This post is part of our Torah MOMentary series. This Shabbat we read Parashat Metzora. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.

Bath time. It’s so simple, yet so transformative.

Most evenings around 7 p.m., Sylvie enters the tub covered in the evidence of a day well spent. You know the look: pasta sauce in her curls, a thin layer of dried snot on her cheeks, dirt on her knees, lint between her toes, and streaks of green finger paint in random places.

Come to think of it, by the end of dinnertime she brings to mind my fashion preferences as a teenager in the 90’s. You know the look: torn jacket, messy hair, smudged eyeliner, chipped nail polish. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 12 2014

Here’s to the People Who Made My Son’s Bar Mitzvah Special, Even if They Don’t Remember Us

By at 2:07 pm

jordan-bar-mitzvah

Think about when you are in the midst of labor and you are going through the most intense and difficult–yet simultaneously the most meaningful–experience of your life. You are bringing a new human being into the world and you know that you will never, ever, forget these people–the nurses, obstetricians, midwives, and other medical staff–who helped you through this amazing day.

You know how, later on–maybe much later on–you realize that as meaningful as that day was to you, that to the nurses, obstetricians, and midwives who helped you, it was just another work day, and your peak experience wasn’t anything special? Remember how that revelation made you feel kind of sad?

It’s the same with a bar mitzvah. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 18 2014

Birth Trauma is Real: A Reminder to Be Kind in the Comments Section

By at 2:17 pm

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I was out of town without internet last week and when I returned and read through Kveller I was shocked when I saw the reader responses to Rachel Minkowsky’s  birth trauma post. I thought about it over the  weekend and all I can come back with is that the majority of the comments were so uncharacteristic of the Kveller community but clearly the post triggered a lot of emotions for our readers.

Rachel wrote about something that happened to her that she is struggling with and has struggled with for three years.  Common feelings about the human birth experience that many, many mothers share.  She was told that she has no right to grieve her birth because her baby was healthy, because she could have had it worse. Her opening her heart turned into a birth-trauma pissing contest for everyone to read and chime in.

Would we tell a mother who lost a child to get over it because at least she only lost one child when others have lost two? Where does it end? Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 11 2014

My Daughter’s Birth Left Me Scarred, But How Can I Grieve?

By at 4:04 pm

candle

My daughter’s birth was complicated. The morning after I had my baby, a post-partum nurse asked how I was feeling. I made the mistake of answering honestly: The birth left a bright pink scar skidding across my pelvis, and other people’s blood pumping through my veins. After a long labor, my daughter’s heart rate decelerated. It was not rebounding. I had to be rushed in for a Cesarean section under general anesthesia. The last thing I remember was staring up into the ceiling light in the operating room, crying quietly. My husband had not been admitted into the OR; he was left alone in a room somewhere to wait. My daughter was pulled out of me, and born into the hands of strangers. The doctors called my husband in while they were sewing me back together. My husband saw and held our baby first; I didn’t meet her for endless hours. It took a while longer before I was functional enough to attempt breastfeeding. The transfusion I needed caused other issues.

My daughter was fine and thriving.

I felt like I had been hit by a truck. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 24 2014

Friday Night: Thank God for C-Sections

By at 11:27 am

thank god for c-sections

I was born a contradiction. On the Sabbath, the day we are commanded to rest, I prompted my mother to labor and deliver me into the world. So it’s fitting that I struggle with the God thing still.

Soon after we gave birth to our first kids, one of my dearest friends confided in me that pregnancy and childbirth made her feel closer to God than ever before.

Huh. Not me.

I tried to figure out why.

From early on in my pregnancy, I needed to see it to believe it. I waited until I saw the results of the home pregnancy test before embracing the possibility. I waited longer still for the first ultrasound to feel like it was actually happening. It wasn’t real until I had proof. Some have faith; I wanted certainty.

Childbirth also called my beliefs into question. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 10 2013

I’ve Been Talking to My Son About Death Since the Day He Was Born

By at 10:13 am

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I kneeled by my mom’s side as she lay at home in her bed under the care of hospice. “Bittersweet,” she said as she smiled through tears and put one hand on my small belly. That moment together would be one of our last. She died just two days later. I was eight weeks pregnant.

Prior to the very end of the year in which my mother battled cancer and then battled the side effects of the chemotherapy intended to attack that cancer, she was an active and involved nana to my niece and nephew–the kind of nana who got down on the floor to play, who sang and danced the hokey pokey, who listened on the phone with endless delight to impromptu cello rehearsals, and who worried, like any good Jewish grandmother, whether or not they brought a sweater.

My son has no other grandmothers. My husband’s mother has been quite ill for many years. Even if she was told she has grandchildren, we are not sure she would understand or remember. My husband’s stepmother, a lovely woman, has seen our son only twice.

As a child psychologist, I’ve spent time thinking about how to talk to children about death. I’ve read the literature. I’ve talked to my young clients about death and dying. I’ve advised parents. When and how do you tell them? How much do you share? What age is too young? Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 29 2013

Welcome to the World, Aliza Madeline!

By at 1:18 pm

welcome to the world aliza madeline

We here at Kveller are over the moon to report the birth of contributing editor Jordana Horn’s fifth child, a healthy baby girl named Aliza Madeline. Mom and baby are doing great (though one of them might be kind of tired).

If it seems like Jordana was just giving birth this time last year, well, she was, which means she’s now the proud mom of three kids under three. You can bet we’ll be hearing about that.

We also have to give props to Nina Badzin, who is now two for two on her “Name the Next Kveller Baby” quest.

Join us in sending lots of love to Jordana and her growing family. Mazel tov!

Oct 24 2013

Preparing for a Newborn With or Without a Superstorm

By at 12:45 pm

superstorm sandy boys

It was, as they say, a dark and stormy night. The power had gone out hours ago, and we’d put the kids to bed on the early side with flashlights and tiny battery-powered votive candles. That was when it was just a heavy rain.

But just a few hours later, the noise outside was cacophonous. Rain slapped the windows with a fury. Trees snapped like twigs, as gusts of wind pounded our old house and sent broken telephone poles like toothpicks scattered into the street. The dark sky lit up over and over with jagged lines of lightning, and an odd green luminosity that we later learned was produced by exploding electrical generators.

Among the many miracles of that Superstorm Sandy night a year ago: our old house remained standing and intact, and our children, including our week and a half old baby, O, slept through the night unperturbed. I, on the other hand, huddled under my husband’s arm as though he could protect me if a tree fell into our house. Submerged in exhaustion, fear and postpartum stress, I cried. Read the rest of this entry →

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