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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Honoring Life

Memorial Day weekend is always a jumble of emotions for me.

On May 29, 2004: I lost a friend.

On May 30, 2007: I gained U.S. citizenship.

On May 26, 2008: I gave birth.

May we honor all of Life's beginnings and transitions.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Amazing Things

Everything is amazing.

And nobody's happy.


In what may I express more gratitude?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

That Boy's Alright

Before an estrogen-fueled mob gathers around our home searching for the Big Ugly Husband Monster, I thought I'd take a moment to throw in a couple items in defense of the man who loves me so much that he takes interest in my blog by reading each post and setting his subscription so that he receives an email EVERY TIME SOMEONE POSTS A COMMENT to it.

Here are some pieces of evidence of the wonderful (yet, yes, at times, clueless) nature of my husband.

For Mother's Day, he gave me this

and this and this.

And he has massaged my back and neck and head many a times over the last few weeks. And made delicious breakfasts. And cared for his kids so I could do VERY IMPORTANT STUFF on Facebook.

He took 2 weeks off work to help me through labor, delivery, and recovery. He has forgiven me every time I've apologized for insulting his middle-of-the-night bottle-feeding abilities. He has read a book every single time Baby Dhis has brought him one (and he doesn't even skip pages).

I think we are both slightly disappointed at the work parenthood demands. We were parenting experts when we had no kids. We had no clue. Really, when it comes down to it, the blame belongs on YOU GUYS for making parenthood look SO FREAKIN' EASY.

David and I both kind of just thought the kids would slide into the world singing our praises for giving them hugs and treats and for taking them camping. And then, they would go to college. Or away. Anywhere.

And then they'd write autobiographies with chapters devoted to each of our virtues.

And then we'd die, peacefully and simultaneously at really old ages.

And they'd regale their own children with tales of Grandma and Grandpa and the time they each single-handedly wrestled a bear to the ground and put out a forest fire on one of those Brady Bunch camping trips.

And then, they'd explain who the Brady Bunch was.

The end.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Don't Ask

Really, there are times you shouldn't ask what you're wondering. Don't ask questions if there is a chance the answer will be something you don't want to hear. I've often shared that tidbit with folks. Today, I did not take my own advice.

After a particularly demoralizing morning in the department of mothering, I felt like a let-down. I am nothing like the mother I had hoped or imagined to be. I'm not "coochie-coo" or "let me just stare into your baby eyes" nor do I chirp "time to nurse!" I was never depressed for more than a total of 10 minutes about the six years for which I was labeled "infertile." I don't bound out of bed in the morning in anticipation of playing with my kids. In fact, any chance I get, I hand the baby and the toddler off to play with their dad. I was quietly thinking about these things while rocking the infant who would let me do nothing but sit, rock, and think.

I wondered something. I got up and walked into the bathroom where the husband was getting ready for the day and casually asked him, "Are you disappointed that the woman you married is not the kind of mother you thought she'd be?"

I guess I asked hoping to hear some comforting words like "you'll grow into it" or "there are different kinds of mothers" or "I didn't have any expectations either way."

Instead, I got, "A little bit" and a kiss on the top of the head while he rubbed lotion into his hands. I looked down at the baby in my arms to hide the shiny wet film forming over my eyeballs and quietly walked out of the room.

Ouch. Who likes to be a disappointment to any extent?
That's what I get for asking.

Happy Mother's Day to me.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

I am Mommy

(private journal entry -- July 15, 2009, Wednesday, 5:30-ish am.)

Yesterday, I decided to rearrange my home office. This involved pushing, lugging, and tugging at a SUPER HEAVY metal desk and a metal folding table. I had to clear these off first and move boxes and papers out of the way.

I thought Baby Dhis would be OK if I just kept giving her things to entertain herself with: papers, boxes, toys. After some time, she became very irritated and frustrated. I introduced a new play thing, but she just kept screaming. I still had so much to do, so I kept doing.

She, somehow, ended up falling backwards. I happened to look soon after she did, and she seemed stunned. I went over to her, smiled, and playfully asked, "What are you doing?"

She looked like she didn't know how to react. I paused, took a deep breath, and picked my baby up. I needed a break, too.

I took her to her room and sat in a rocking chair with her and began singing. She looked at me with the most content of expressions and gave a little closed-mouth smile. My heart felt a fender-bender: she just wanted her mommy.

Oh, I felt terrible! I must have neglected her affection and touch for hours! I'm the main of her world, and she could not reach me to get love and acknowledgment, all the while shaping her little mind and life experience thus far.

I rocked and sang, and she snuggled into my arms receiving love and security. She relaxed and smiled, and I snuggled into her receiving love and acknowledgment as a vital force in her life.

I am Mommy.

(Or watch on larger screen here.)

Happy Mother's Day to all women
who have a mother heart!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Sign for Weary Mothers

Last night, just before 2am, I heard something. Two "somethings" to be exact. I heard the toddler let out a little whine from her room at the opposite end of the house. I heard the infant squeak from her bassinet in our room.

I thought, "No way."

A few seconds of silence passed, and then, they both exploded into screams and cries at separate ends of the house . AT THE EXACT SAME TIME.

My husband and I froze in the dark like children jerked awake by a midnight air raid.

"What do we do??" I whispered.

Insert deafening non-response from the lips of the adults.

My husband broke our paralysis.

"I'll get Adhis. You get the baby." And we sprung out of the bed to our assigned routes.

What followed were hours of awakedness. Thus was born the cranky, snap-at-each-other, bleary-eyed morning.

At about 1pm, I was dragging across the kitchen looking for something to sustain me through the rest of the day. My eyes wandered out the window. I saw a sign.

Some people look for inspiration in the heavens. Some see signs in nature. My message was on my neighbor's garage door.

See it?

Hey, I'll take any encouragement at this time.

We are powerful and never alone.

Dear mothers of the world, may the Force be with you!

[Posted song: "The Sign" by Ace of Base]

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Now with 50% MORE chunk!

Alright, everyone's been asking about the new baby and the story around her arrival. Without further delay...



Baby Maya was born Wednesday, April 28th at 7:58am.
Her measurements were: 9lbs 8 oz. and 21 ½ inches
Miscellaneous: Dark hair (blondish tones hiding in there?); Her cry is definitely louder than her sister's and resembles that of a pterodactyl. Yes. It does.

Inquiring minds want to know what happened this past week. Below, you will find two long posts about Maya's entry into planet Earth. The first one is from my perspective. The second is David's side of the story.




Tuesday, I was feeling irregular bouts of pain like I'd never felt before. It was only early in the evening that I wondered aloud if the pains were contractions. There was no pattern, they were seconds short, and they were excruciatingly painful, much UNLIKE the relatively painless out-of-breath moments I had during labor with Baby Dhis. David and I decided to keep track of these occurrences in case they were contractions.

I called the doula and told her about these pains and some other symptoms. At about 4pm, she decided I was probably in labor. About 1am or so, David called the doula to come over and help him handle me. I had been snapping at him and even swung at him during a particularly painful moment. (Eek.) Shortly after hanging up, we decided to go to hospital but waited for the doula to arrive. The doula called one of her assistants to meet us at the hospital.

Let me tell ya: Having three people tend to me was AWESOME! Three sets of hands were JUST RIGHT to hit all the right pressure points. This eliminated much of the pain I had been experiencing.

We arrived at the hospital, and I had two contractions from the front door to the triage room. At each one, I'd announce the contraction with "It's coming... It's here!" and immediately, I was surrounded by massage and pressure relieving the pain in my back, hips, legs, and shoulders.

Once in the laboring room, I was AMAZING working through the painful contractions! I was zooming through dilation ... 5, 6, 7, 8 centimeters. I was nearly finished, the delivery team was setting up, and my OB was sitting in the corner waiting with his eyes closed. We were all delighting that it would be a short night and a successful medication-free birth. Then, it happened.

I got stuck at 8cm. And it was painful. Swallow-the-earth painful.

We were all confused. The nurse checked me and found the logjam: posterior baby. Baby Girl was pressing on my back AND her head was stuck in place. I suffered through the intense squeezing for an hour, then two hours. I begged, begged, begged for relief. The epidural came. I was so sad. I felt like I let myself down and as a result, I was apologizing to everyone, but really, I was apologizing to myself. I was so tired, and my brain couldn't process why I was stuck. I came to understand later that morning...

The anesthesiologist did his thing, then left the room. Something didn't feel right. The room wasn't staying still. No one would answer my question as to why that was happening, but I knew something was off because the anesthesiologist came back into the room. And then again, and then again, and then he put something into my IV.

The edge of the earlier labor pain subsided, and, since I was no longer screaming my head off, we were able to notice another problem: the baby's heartbeat kept dropping. The nurse switched me from my left side to my right side. Then from my right to my left. Then back again. The baby's heartbeat seemed "OK" for the most part but would drop low enough and often enough to worry the nurse and some attendants. I was at 9cm.

My OB, who had left the room earlier when I became stuck, came back into the room around 7am expressing concern about the drops in the baby's heartbeat. He would give the baby 30 minutes to turn around or for my cervix to get to 10. If neither thing happened, we'd "have to consider other options." At this time, there was a shift change at the nurses' station. As soon as the OB left the room, my new nurse said, "How do you feel about getting on all fours and getting this baby to turn?" My doula perked up. Even though I was on an epidural, I could move my legs just fine, and I readily consented.

The hospital bed was set up in stair-step position, and I lied on it. Surprisingly, this was the MOST COMFORTABLE I had been in over 24 hours, and I immediately fell asleep. The next thing I knew, the nurse, the doctor and a team of medical staff rushed into the room.

I was startled awake by my OB yelling (he has never yelled in the years I've known him), "That's it! That's as far as I'll go. This baby is coming out NOW!"

Having been jerked awake, I was in a confused haze. "Can't we turn her first?" I groggily asked.

My doctor's face hosted a look of disbelief. "Even if she turned, I'm not going to put her through that," he pointed to the monitor. I looked and and mentally "woke up" to the realization of how severe the problem was. Baby's heartbeat was down, sporadic, and had not recovered.

A baby's heartbeat is supposed to beat 120-160 times per minute. The heart of the baby inside me had dipped into the 60's and stayed there. The monitor displayed an apparent struggle.

I looked at David, I looked at the doula, I looked at the nurse. They all nodded to answer the unspoken question on my face: "Is that it?"

Meanwhile, nurses and staff members pulled at me, briefed me about a million things as I turned my face side to side trying to answer questions and give consents. I was rolled into the operating room and more staff members swarmed upon me. I was injected with this and that, stripped down, numbed down, held down. Two other doctors joined my doctor.

I felt a simultaneous desire to express my emotions and to hold then in for another time. I wanted to honor my spirit but felt like there was no time to do so. One of the surgeons took his post by my head and, while giving me oxygen, said, "You'll be OK."

I replied, "I know."

He started to look away. I was quiet, but then felt the need to speak truth, "I'm nervous." And something about how I said it, said more. He looked at me, REALLY LOOKED at me, and he said, "I know." And he kept looking at me like he was feeling exactly what I felt.

One of the kindest things we can do for another human being is to behold them. Really behold their entire being. Look at them, like your souls are silently and deeply communicating. This is what that doctor did. He looked at me and did not look away. And I knew he heard all of me.

David was brought in a little later and posted north of my head. If I stretched my neck, I could see him, but it was painful to do so after whatever concoction they gave me increased the likelihood of vomiting. My view consisted of DrSpirit hovering right over my head and the blue tent set up between my chest and my abdomen.

Cutting and pulling sensations began in my gut area. I wanted to imagine what the doctors were doing then thought better of it in case my imagination removed the last hurdle between me and vomit. Some moment later, a baby floated past my view, and I heard someone announce, "your baby." But in that brief moment, the only thought that crossed my mind was, "She's dead."

Baby Girl did not look right. She was motionless, mouth hanging open, unusually still, gray hands, gray feet.

Dave appeared; he was standing in my line of sight with his back to me as he watched our baby get checked out. Around that time, a heaviness suddenly dropped upon my lungs, and I started gasping for air.

When I was in middle school, I checked out a book about European mythical creatures involving gremlins, goblins, and fairies. One of the stories was about a demon who would at night perch himself on the chests of dreamers. Though he was small, he was rock-heavy and impossible to move causing great heaviness, paralysis, and nightmares. On Wednesday morning in the OR, the creature had chosen me.

Something was preventing me from breathing, and I realized then that the beeping I had assumed was machinery monitoring my baby was actually monitoring me. The loudest of the beeps slowed down... slowed down... really... slowed down. I tried to say something but could only gasp. DrSpirit started yelling my name over and over and slapping my face to get me to respond. I wanted to correct him on the pronunciation of my name, but I couldn't breathe or speak, and my eyes began to close. "Ah-dees" I wanted to say. I made the choice to use the last of my energy to manage weak obedience to him and force my eyes open. Once or twice, I was able to utter "icantbreathe."

DrSpirit freaked out, and I fought harder to will the beeping sounds to pick up. I listened for beeps, but I also listened for any sort of baby sound from the group gathering in front of David.

(You can read David's account of what he was witnessing at the bottom of this post.)

I heard one short "waah" and then an excited response from the group of nurses in the corner. My beeping came back up. It dropped a few times later on, but never as bad as that first episode.

Then, the shaking started. I had trembled throughout parts of labor earlier, but in the OR, my arms were wildly flailing, and though I tried, I couldn't stop them. A nurse held down my left arm in an uncomfortable position because I was apparently hitting one of the surgeons. DrSpirit grabbed my right hand, and I felt immediate relief. My body relaxed, and I pulled away my left arm from the nurse and made sure that hand also joined those of DrSpirit's. That was all I could do.

The rest of my experience involved fighting the urge in my body to leap from the operating table and run away. The doctors yanked at my guts, shoved them back in, and sewed and stapled as they chatted about various mundane topics. I remember hearing them announce I was finished. And then, I remember nothing.

The next time I opened my eyes, I was in a recovery room with my OB sitting on a rocking chair sipping a soda explaining to David what happened. I wondered if the doctor's soda was caffeinated. I was still trembling, though to a lesser degree, and was trying to regain consciousness at the speed of light so I could comprehend the doctor's words. My OB is short on words, so I was racing to snap out of the fog before he left the room.

The baby had not only been in a posterior position, but her size had surprised everyone. Even if she had been able to get her head through the birth canal, her shoulders were too wide to fit through, and they would have had to break a clavicle to get her out.

I became unbelievable thirsty. David left the room and returned with ice chips. He looked at me; I saw a cornucopia of emotions in his face. I cannot remember what he said, but I remember feeling that he loved me very much and was so happy to see me.

I was formally introduced to my daughter, though I barely remember it. I was so exhausted.

(as you can see)

In one night, I partook from the smorgasbord of birthing: a natural birth, a medicated birth, and a C-section. I've always had a hard time making up my mind.


29 April 2010

Maya was born yesterday 28 April 2010 at 7:58 am. She weighed 9 lbs. 8 oz. Adhis asked me to write down my thoughts and feelings through this whole labor and birth process.

The first thing is I was pretty surprised that Maya's due date came and went without hardly a contraction! I was so excited for her to come that it was hard to watch each day pass until she actually came.

So Tuesday night Adhis started having more and more contractions, but they were very irregular in their timing. 17 minutes, 5 minutes, 14 minutes, etc. Later in the evening and into the night the contractions started to come closer together. I had so many thoughts as I tried to help Adhis relax through the contractions. I was trying to help by doing some hip presses that our Doula had taught us. I'm evidently not very good at it. Adhis kept getting very frustrated at me. I really was trying my best, but the contractions were very difficult and painful for Adhis. Later on we found out that Maya was in a posterior position and this probably caused a lot of the increased pain. Several times I thought, "Man, those were the good ol' days when men just had to sit in the waiting room!" I felt a little bad for thinking that, but it's hard for me to watch Adhis go through so much pain.

We called our Doula, Heather, and she came to our house sometime around 10:30 pm, if I remember right. I showed her into our room where Adhis was starting another contraction and I ran to load up our bags into the car. When I came up I was amazed to see Adhis calmly breathing through a contraction with help from Heather. It was like night and day. Right then I knew that hiring Heather as a Doula to help us through the birthing process was a great decision. Heather showed me several ways to continue helping her help Adhis through the contractions. After several contractions, we decided it was probably time to head to the hospital. Our neighbor Greg Miller came over to be with Baby Adhis until my mom could get to our house to watch her for us. It turns out that Greg didn't have to be there for very long as my parents got there just as we were leaving.

The weather was really crazy that night. There were really high winds and a big dust storm. I couldn't drive very fast on the freeway because the wind was blowing the car around. Luckily, Adhis only had two contractions in the car.

When we got to the hospital we got checked in and met up with Tandi (sp?) who was helping Heather as a doula. I was really amazed at how much having Heather and Tandi there to help get Adhis through the contractions helped. Adhis was having harder and harder contractions and the three of us helped her by doing hip presses and and pressing on certain parts of her back. It really seemed to help a lot. It was such a relief to me to see Adhis dealing with the pain better.

Adhis progressed nicely until they checked her and let us know that she was already dilated to an 8. Several nurses and technicians started moving stuff into the room and they said they were getting ready for the birth. Apparently most mothers progress from an 8 to full dilation pretty quickly. We started to get pretty excited. I was amazed that Adhis had come so far. It looked like she was going to be able to have the birth entirely naturally.

Unfortunately, Adhis got stuck there at an 8. After a couple of difficult hours the pain really started mounting and became overwhelming for Adhis. She requested an epidural and they came in and hooked her up. Adhis kept saying she was sorry to me for getting the epidural. I told her she didn’t need to apologize! I kept reassuring her that I was not upset at all and that I wanted her to do what she felt she needed to do. I was amazed at how far she had gotten without it. It wasn’t until she ran into some serious complications that we had to resort to it. If it were me that had to give birth I would have had them hook me up to the epidural the minute we walked through the hospital door!

The epidural helped a lot and allowed Adhis and everyone else to relax. Now it was time to wait. The anesthesiologist had to adjust Adhis’ epidural a couple of times because she started to lose blood pressure.

We started to realize that things weren’t going perfectly when Adhis was still an 8 after several hours. She eventually got to a 9 or so, but she was stuck again. The doctor and nurses were now pretty sure that the baby was posterior. The baby monitor showed that sometimes she was having a hard time and her heart beat slowed occasionally. The doctor said that if things didn’t improve soon we would have to do a c-section. Adhis really didn’t want to do that.

Heather suggested I give Adhis a blessing again at this point. She went out to make sure nobody walked in on us and I laid my hands on Adhis’ head and gave her a blessing. I felt so grateful to be worthy at that moment to give her a blessing. I felt that she and the baby would be fine whichever way Adhis ended up having to give birth. It was nice to have that assurance.

Finally at about 7:30am the doctor came in and said that that was enough and that the baby was going to have to come out by c-section. Suddenly nurses and techs started rushing about getting Adhis ready for surgery. A nurse gave me a “Father’s kit.” That turned out to be a white paper suit with a matching hair net and booties. It barely fit. Adhis and I were both pretty scared at this moment. So much happened so fast that I didn’t really get a chance to process everything.

After they had Adhis all prepped and ready they came and took me into the operating room. As I followed the doctor into the OR I saw they had Adhis on an operating table covered by blue sheets except for her stomach. Someone was marking the location where they were going to cut her stomach. They pulled out a chair for me to sit next to Adhis’ head. They had sheets hung up so Adhis couldn’t see what they were doing. My view was obscured from my seat as well. I could have stood up to watch, but I didn’t think I could handle watching them actually making the cut, so I sat there by Adhis and tried to encourage her.

Adhis was awake, but she was so drugged up that she wasn’t always coherent. I could see the doctors and nurses working intently. I found it interesting how nonchalantly they were talking to each other; even asking how the anesthesiologist’s day had been. Soon they lifted baby Maya into the air and handed her off to a nurse or doctor who immediately started working on her. I stood up and turned to watch them work on Maya. The nurse started by wiping Maya’s face off and suctioning her mouth. Maya was still limp and didn’t appear to be breathing. The nurse kept trying to get Maya to breath and wake up by tapping on her feet and rolling her onto her side and patting her back. Quickly the nurse’s calm demeanor changed to urgency as he talked to Maya. Another nurse joined and then a third. They all were trying different things to shock Maya into breathing. I was really feeling scared at that moment. Maya looked lifeless and gray, and that’s how my heart felt, too.

At about this moment I could hear the machines that Adhis was hooked up to making weird noises. The anesthesiologist started calling Adhis by her name and telling her to wake up. He had a really urgent tone in his voice, too. He was making adjustments to Adhis’ doses and lightly slapping her face. I think her blood pressure had plummeted. My heart felt really tight at that moment. There was my newborn daughter to my left not breathing and now Adhis wasn’t doing so great either.

In a few moments Adhis started talking again and the doctor apparently got things under control. Then I watched Maya’s nurse pull out a bigger suction device and use it on her. After that and a few more seconds of poking, prodding and cajoling Maya finally took a breath. A few more soft noises and she started to cry.

I felt so relieved to see the both of them doing so much better. They weighed Maya in at 9 lbs 8 oz. All the doctors and nurses commented on how cute she was and on how big she was already.

After a few more quick tests and cleaning her up a little more they wrapped Maya in a little blanket and let me hold her. She was so beautiful. It was so wonderful to hold that sweet little girl in my arms. I showed her to Adhis who was still on the operating table being sewn up. She smiled and asked how Maya was doing. I assured her Maya was fine. Then the nurse asked me to put Maya in a rolling bassinet he had brought in and to follow him and push Maya into the nursery. I said goodbye to Adhis and said I’d be back soon.

I watched the nurses run a bunch of tests on Maya and clean her up some more. It was such a relief to see she was doing well. I kept wondering how Adhis was doing. After a little while, a nurse came in and told me that they had moved all our stuff to a different recovery room. They had me take Maya in there and soon brought in Adhis. I was so happy to see her doing better. I was able to show her Maya again. They had me go and get ice and water for Adhis. As I was walking down the halls I started to cry. So much had happened so fast that I hadn’t been able to deal with all the emotions. As I came back into the room I was glad I had had that moment to myself, wiped the tears away and put on a big smile to go in and help Adhis.

It’s amazing to see our little family growing. It was so neat to watch Baby Adhis come in and see her new sister. She was really curious and kept wanting to look at Maya. She would walk over and reach up hold the edge of the bassinet and stare and Maya. What a blessing these two little girls are in our lives.