Sep 11 2014
On October 31st, 2012, I awoke to a phone call from my sister. “I think I’m going to have a baby today. Maybe baby!” I pretended to be calm and collected and told her I would be right over. She only lives five minutes down the road.
When I got to my sister’s house, her curly-headed 2-year-old Rachie greeted me at the door with a big grin. My sister was trying to stifle her own excitement, knowing that while she had been having steady contractions since 3 a.m., birthing is unpredictable–it could be an hour or a day. As we watched television, she wiggled around on the birthing ball, shifting positions, walking around, breathing deeply as her contractions rose and fell. I was mesmerized. This woman before me, sister of my blood, seemed elevated with grace and knowing even in the throes of her primal ache. What a great laborer, I thought to myself enviously. I wish I could do that.
When it was almost noon, we noticed that the contractions were coming a bit less frequently than the morning. “When they get back from the store, Rachie will nurse,” my sister said confidently. “That will get the contractions going again.” Sure enough, the arrival of her big girl sent strong clenches through her uterus as we awaited the midwife. Not just any midwife, but the woman who had gently steered and caught my son and both my sister’s older children. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 21 2014
My first delivery went textbook-smooth. From the time my water broke until the time I delivered my daughter was nine hours, which is under the average of 10 to 24 hours for a first labor. The one thing I hadn’t liked: To get me through the first part of labor, my doctor had ordered some Stadol, a narcotic that is supposed to “take the edge off the pain.” It made me alternately sleepy and groggy. It was only supposed to last an hour or two, but it lasted much longer, and I was totally out of it by the time my baby was born.
By the time my second child was ready to be born, I was determined to do it differently.
When I got to the hospital, I wasn’t in active labor. I was contracting now and then, but the contractions didn’t hurt. The only sign was the bloody show I’d experienced overnight. My obstetrician insisted that was enough–I’d gone so quickly last time, and I was five days overdue now, so it made a lot of sense to get me into the hospital sooner rather than later. 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 →
Jun 19 2014
The last thing I told her before it happened was, “Oh my goodness, Aliza, you’re so tiny! You’re barely showing!”
My oldest childhood friend was starting her sixth month of pregnancy, and she had the cutest baby belly I had ever seen. I couldn’t wait to see how enormous she would grow in the months ahead, and neither could she. But neither of us got the chance.
At just 24 weeks pregnant, she unexpectedly went into labor. She delivered a 1.5 pound baby boy, who was immediately rushed to the NICU. Aliza’s early labor was an incomprehensible fluke–up until that point her pregnancy was completely healthy; even her doctors were stymied. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 10 2014
Pregnancy is a great divide. My mothering life bears little resemblance to my pre-pregnancy life. But my second go-round is reshaping my thoughts about pregnancy. Being pregnant while parenting a toddler is so much harder. Now wiser, I offer 10 of my own second pregnancy lessons:
1. Hello, Exhaustion. When I was pregnant with Lila three years ago, I slept nine hours nightly. For the first time since kindergarten, I was also eager to nap. And nap I did. If I was tired and didn’t have anywhere to be, I indulged. No such luck now. I’m learning what tired really means. Even though this has been an easier pregnancy, I’m still tired and all-over achy. Handling that while chasing an über-energetic preschooler is tough, especially since she’s often awake before I am and is outgrowing her nap. If it weren’t for decaf, I’d be a complete zombie.
2. Less Anxiety. I generally know what to expect where pregnancy is concerned. Sure, I still have periodic questions for my OBGYN, but I don’t need to call all the time like I initially did with Lila. So, whereas an unexpected pain might have scared me last time, now I typically just shrug. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 6 2014
Two weeks and one day ago, I gave birth to my daughter. It was a pretty amazing experience, all the way up to the point when she was born. Then, while I was luckily distracted by holding my little girl skin-to-skin, I had a postpartum hemorrhage, eventually treated by a Pitocin drip, and some stitches.
With those two surprises on top of the exhausting work of giving birth, I was glad to spend those first two nights in the hospital. Knowing that help getting to the bathroom was just a call button away, that lactation consultants were at our beck and call, and that for a few hours each night a nurse was willing to “borrow” Penrose so my husband and I could get some uninterrupted sleep was precious. Suddenly, in addition to a child and all the accompanying emotion, stress, and responsibility, I also had a “peri care” routine and a drastically lower hemoglobin count to deal with.
But even as each trip to the bathroom revealed a new adventure in inconvenience and pain, I reveled in my post-baby body. Read the rest of this entry →
May 22 2014
Three months ago, I moved with my family into a new home six blocks and a few avenues from our former home. This was my first move with young children and I was deeply concerned about how it would affect them.
I wondered how uprooting them from the only home they had known in their few years of life might upset and confuse them. I stressed about the boxes that slowly overtook our old apartment, eating into my children’s play space, and nearly swallowing us all. I thought often about whether they would miss our neighbors, our doormen, our block, and the routine that had made up their lives. And, I worried about how my two daughters would adjust to sharing a room for the first time (we always had one of them in our bedroom previously).
But, as with many other things in parenting, I learned that these fears were mostly about me, not my children. Read the rest of this entry →
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 →
Mar 24 2014
Allow me to kvetch for a moment. At 32-weeks-pregnant, pelvic instability has become my constant companion. The tendon connecting my left leg to the rest of my body feels like it’s been tightened past its limits. Something deep in my butt just feels wrong. The outside of my right hip aches. And my lower back feels out of joint, and I can’t lie on my stomach to have my husband crack it. Oh, and he woke me up twice last night to ask me to please stop snoring (thanks, acid reflux!).
Thanks for listening. I just had to get that off my chest. (And speaking of my chest, things are pretty out of sorts in the boob department too.)
Pregnancy is full of aches and pains and discomforts, or as my yoga teacher puts it, sensation. When we’re holding an uncomfortable pose, she invites us to experience the sensation without judgment or fear. To find our edge and meet it, and possibly surpass it–for 10 more seconds? Thirty? Read the rest of this entry →
Mar 12 2014
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 →