From Birth

Tales of a New Mom

Tales of a New Mom – From the Trenches at 5 Weeks

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It’s been 5.5 years since I’ve done the new mom thing. Some things are coming slowly back to me, and some feel/are new.

Tales of a New Mom

New Babies Are So Tiny (and Floppy): R was 6lbs 2oz at birth, and we’re currently working towards 8lbs. Words like peanut, nugget, itty bitty, etc. all spring to mind when I think to describe her. She’s very strong and squiggly, though. The number of times she has made my heart stop by tossing her head around or trying to launch out of my arms is already countless. “Support the head” is my constant refrain.

New Mom Brain (Where Did It Go, and Will I Get It Back?): It’s “funny” how things that would normally be cause for great alarm are just par for the course when you’re the parent of a new infant.

New Mom's Memory...

Memory loss: I have had so many conversations that I simply do not remember. We’re not talking conversations where I remember when I’m reminded. We’re talking conversations where my husband recounts it to me, and I have no memory that it ever happened.

Difficulty distinguishing dreams from reality: I’ll think about a conversation or event, and I cannot remember if I dreamed it or if it really happened. (#1 – At least dreaming is a sign that I’m getting more sleep. For a while I wasn’t even dreaming.) (#2 – Okay, not all the time. I’m pretty sure that the time I had to line up in line as a soldier and choose my weapon, one option of which was a block of wax, didn’t really happen.)

Feeling like I’m lucky if I can attend to even 50% of a conversation: Part of my new mom brain is always somewhere else – trying to listen if the baby is stirring, figuring out the last time she ate, have a complete thought while simultaneously listening to a story from the 5.5 yo, be a functional human while half my brain is asleep, etc. (I’ve heard that river dolphins only sleep with half of their brains at time. They should do a study on new moms, I think we may also do this.)

Having Trouble Accepting Help: I’m fortunate, in that I’ve had several people genuinely say, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.” I know I need help, but coming up with something that they can do AND actually bringing myself to make the request – is frequently beyond me. At least this time, when we are offered specific help, we don’t turn it down or feel bad for accepting!

Wondering If I’m Going to Get My Body Back/ Learning About My “New” Body: Bleeding, bladder, belly, boobs. Enough said.

Returning to the Silly Patter, Stream-of-Consciousness: I was already in silly mode with my older one (which animals do we think have the biggest poop. Whose poop is the stinkiest. Now I’m realizing how largely, poop related the humor is. Well, that and knock-knock jokes.) Now, as I’m trying to hear noise besides the screaming of an impatient infant, I’m making up songs where I narrate making a bottle or changing a diaper and trying to find rhymes for words like “sha-boopy.”

Having 2 Kids Is a Whole New Ballgame: As a new mom who is an only child, the sibling thing has always been a bit of a mystery to me. Now, I’m struggling to gracefully balance time and attention with a preschooler and a newborn, and I’m trying to help my older one navigate feelings of responsibility, love, alienation, and insecurity that I’ve never felt before. It’s one thing to know, intellectually, that this was coming, but it’s a whole ‘nother thing to experience it.

As Much As I’d Prepared, I Can’t Get Everything Right (But Preparation Can Help): With my first, I was only able to breastfeed for 3 weeks. Five years later, I could still be brought to tears by the topic.mother and child statue This time, I started conversations with healthcare providers months before I was due. I talked to my health insurance company about coverage for breast pumps and lactation consultants. When my supply again failed to manifest, I saw an amazing lactation team, I pumped, I took herbal supplements, I felt like I was losing my mind, I got amazing help and support from friends and family, and again, I decided that the best decision for myself and my family was to stop trying. Again, it’s the most painful part of this process, and I know I will always second-guess myself and my choice; however, this time I feel more like I took the time to make the best decision I could, rather than giving up in a haze of confusion and despair.

A new mom has so many conflicting urges/ emotions:

  • I want to stay inside in a cocoon, snuggled with my adorable new baby.
  • I want to experience my previous autonomy where I do not have to be 100% attuned to the needs of this tiny new life.
  • I want to take her out into the world everywhere.
  • I want to protect her from people and illnesses of this germy winter season.
  • I want to buy her all the new, cool things that have come out for babies since I last had one.
  • I remember how little was actually necessary with the first one.
  • I want to see her grow now, so I can hear her voice and see her walk.
  • I want her to stay tiny forever.
  • I want to cherish and devote every spare minute I have to being the best mother I can be.
  • I want to figure out who “I” am apart from my identity as a mother and get started on making that happen – right now.
  • Feeling utterly alone.
  • Feeling a part of a large, caring, supportive community.
  • Feeling like, I’ve been here and done that already.
  • Feeling like this is a whole new experience, and I’m lost.

Is the Big Bad PPD Coming? I suffered from mild postpartum depression after my first. Other than some major drama with the breastfeeding, I feel a little saner this time around; however, PPD can come on months after childbirth. I’ll be wondering for a long time if I’ve really made it past the danger zone. PPD is serious stuff. If you think you might be experiencing PPD, get help. It’s not only for you but for your family, too.

Does this sound familiar to anyone? I’d love to hear that I’m not the only one experiencing some of these things! Are there things that you’re experiencing that I left out? Please share!

Related Links:

How to Help a New Mother

Great News! Mommy Brain May Trigger Brain Growth

Wash Your Freaking Hands Before You Touch Someone’s Baby

Postpartum Depression Quiz

4th Trimester Bodies Project

Miracle of prenancy with text

The “Miracle” of Pregnancy

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Pregnancy may be a miracle, but it sure isn’t dignified!

Warning: This post contains proper names of body parts, frank discussion of bodily functions, and details about things that happen when you’re pregnant. If this sort of thing offends you, don’t read this (or get pregnant for that matter).

Miracle of prenancy with text

 

 

At 7 months into my second pregnancy (I have a 5 year old son), I’ve learned 2 things. 1) When you get pregnant, take your dignity, put it in a box, and place that box on a shelf in your closet. You won’t be needing it for a while. 2) I will have a least one humiliating episode per pregnancy.

Embarrassing Story – First Pregnancy

All of my initial ultrasounds had been internal ultrasounds (this means a phallic shaped object is encased in a condom like sheath, lubed, and placed inside your vagina to better visualize your internal organs). This was the first time my husband had come to an ultrasound with me. After we were let into the exam room, before the tech arrived, I started to take off my pants and underwear. My husband looked at me, and asked what I was doing. Silly man. With a been-there, done-that tone of vast experience, I let him know that I had to take my pants and underwear off for them to do the ultrasound.

A few moments later, the tech came in then stopped, staring at me. “Um. You know, you don’t, uh, need to actually take your pants off for an, um, ultrasound. I’ll just, uh, yeah, I’ll be right back. When you have your pants on.” Needless to say, that totally busted my: “I’m the woman, so I know way more about this” credibility for at least a month.

Embarrassing Story – Second Pregnancy

Since it was determined that I had preeclampsia at the end of my first pregnancy, my specialist OB wanted a 24 hour urine sample for a baseline protein count. When my OB was walking me through the process, she explained that I needed to collect all my urine, during a 24 hour period, and return it in the provided jug. (Ewwwww!) She noted that after the visit, I should walk over to the lab next door and pick up the “jug and hat.” I thought to myself, “I must have heard wrong. Surely she said ‘cap’ not ‘hat’.”

I go over to the lab. The very kind gentleman tech searches, finds the jug, but notes that they are out of the “hats.” I couldn’t help but note, “You actually said ‘hat’ didn’t you?”

The poor, puzzled tech responded, “Yes, you use the hat to collect the urine.” (The “Duh” was unspoken.)

Still trying to understand the terminology, I ask, “You mean a receptacle?” “Sure, if you’d rather call it a receptacle.”

I don’t know why, but I feel the need to explain, “It’s just that it’s right before Halloween. When you say ‘hat,’ I get these images of a little, pointy, witch’s hat.”

The tech goes still, with a forced blank expression, “I don’t know how to respond to that. I’m not going to say a thing. Nope. There’s just no good response to that.” Realizing that my response could be interpreted in a more risque manner than intended, I try to diffuse the situation with, “I admire your restraint. I started that, I apologize.”

He was still a little stuck, “You can say those sorts of things. I cannot say those sorts of things.” At this point, I just want to get out of there, especially as there are now other people observing this interaction. Finally, the tech gives up, gives me the collection jug, and tells me to go back to my OB’s office to see if they have any ‘hats.’

Continuing the never ending search for this mysterious hat-thing, I approach the OB’s receptionist and say, “The lab is out of hats for my urine sample collection. He said you might have some.” At the receptionist’s blank look, I realize that I have now become one of these strange people who casually talk about using hats to collect urine. After a few moments, she gets up and goes to find one of the nurses.

She returns with the nurse, grumbling about how they lab is supposed to have these, not them (finally, someone using language that make sense!) and carrying:

Urine collection hat
The hat!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AHA!

Bonus: When I got home, I just dumped everything (paperwork, glucose bottle, unused jug, unused hat) on the counter. When my husband came home, I hear, “What is this hat-thing, and why is it on my counter?!” I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. I exclaimed, “You called it a hat! I have a funny story for you!”

Random Pregnancy Thoughts

1st Pregnancy

  • Oh my, this nausea is unpleasant; however, as long as eat 2 of each meal, I seem to be doing okay.
  • I love this! I’ve never slept better or felt more rested!
  • This is so cool – my food cravings are so healthy!
  • My mood is so stable and pleasant – and I was so worried about mood swings!
  • My boobs are getting even bigger?! How is this physiologically possible? How much do they weigh? (For the inappropriately curious, 1.5 lbs each.)
  • Okay, I’m slightly uncomfortable.
  • (Direct quote from 12 hours before my water broke at 36 weeks) “I’m finally ready to say that I’m more ready for pregnancy to be over than afraid of childbirth.”
  • (Upon water breaking) Where the heck is my pregnancy book? What do you pack in a hospital bag? Where in this book will it tell me what to pack to go to the hospital?! (Spoiler Alert – nowhere)
  • (In labor at the hospital) No one ever told me that it could be “too early” for an epidural.

2nd Pregnancy

  • This kinda sucks.
  • How can it be evolutionary beneficial to be repulsed by food, water, and other liquids when you’re trying to grow a human?
  • I want to go back in time and punch my prior pregnant self in the face.
  • Why am I crying?
  • I hate everyone.
  • My husband must really love me.
  • My back and butt really hurt.
  • Why can’t I sleep? It can’t be good to not sleep more than 2 hours a night. (Upon consultation with my OB, “Well, yes, that happens sometimes.”)
  • (While the baby is frustrating the heck out of the ultrasound tech with non-stop motion) Heh. At least I’m not the only one she’s giving a hard time to!
  • My husband brought me chocolate cake for no reason. I love him so much, I have to cry.
  • My back hurts so badly, I can only lay in bed and cry. (Upon consultation with my OB, “Sorry, it’s like that sometime. Take some acetaminophen.”)
  • Oh, yay. Now I’m peeing on myself every time I cough. And my human petri dish (my 5 year old) keeps giving me colds. I thought I wasn’t supposed to be doing this much laundry until after the baby is born!
  • Hello my little pugilist. You better be very cute, or at least extremely mild mannered, because you’re an awful lot of work.
  • What fresh hell is this?! (Dizziness so bad that I the room is spinning while I’m lying down and barely make it to the toilet for the vomiting.)(According to the OB, this can happen sometimes. Call them back if it persists.)
  • Seriously, I’m still crying.
  • So that’s what the inside of my belly button looks like. I really wasn’t missing anything, was I?
  • Actual Google search: “Can a fetus kick the mother in the urethra?”
  • My husband better love me if I’m going through this!
  • Did I ride a bike for 12 hours yesterday and forget about it? Why am I saddle-sore?
  • My husband just licked his popsicle too noisily. He. Must. Go.
  • Why does it feel like I’m being stabbed in the pelvis and vagina when I walk, stand, or shift positions? (Upon consultation with my OB, “Well, yes, that happens sometimes.”)
  • Seriously, bladder, is that what you were making all that fuss about? That’s all that’s in there?!
  • Is it possible to become dehydrated from crying?

Anything Can Be a Pregnancy Symptom

  • As noted from above – debilitating back pain, severe nausea and dizziness leading to vomiting, stabbing groin and vaginal pain, severe insomnia
  • Stories from friends: craving non-food, increased energy, decreased energy, increased appetite, decreased appetite, euphoria, depression, skin/hair changing color and/or texture, visual changes (including astigmatism permanently changing from one eye to another), skin tags, hair growth in strange and unusual places, hyper-sexuality, sexual monasticism, bloody swollen gums, bloody noses, discharge, crusty nipples, “interesting” new smells, onset of new and life-threatening food allergies, pelvic separation due to over-lax ligaments, the list is truly endless!
  • I strenuously assert that my arm could fall off, and when I told my OB about it, she would simply respond, “Well, yes, that happens sometimes.”

Ways to Win Arguments

Yes, fine, I get it. No one wants to hear anyone complain all the time. I even get sick of myself. However, sometimes, when you’re pregnant and feeling rotten, other people just need to suck it up and let you win.  I find these techniques to be especially effective with my husband.

  • The always classic, “I’m growing a human inside my body that is either going to be squeezed out of my vagina or removed by my being cut upon on an operating table.”
  • When faced with why you’re uncomfortable or having weird torso sensations, show them this web page (totally SFW).
  • Yelling, “My vagina hurts!” Especially while spreading your legs open and wildly gesticulating at the area in question. (In my experience, this strategy has the added benefit of ending the argument by making my husband crack up.)

What about you?

Please tell me I’m not the only one out there! Do you have any funny or embarrassing stories to share about attempting conception, being pregnant, being a parent? Please share! I’ve got 3(?) more months to go and need to feel the love (or laughter)!

Other people telling it like it is with humor:

  • I think I’ve linked to this before, but Beth Woolsey is my hero as far as “putting it out there.”
  • For the male perspective, you can’t beat How to Be a Dad
  • A book that was recently recommended to me, Pregnancy Sucks (Evidently there’s a whole “Sucks” series)
The voice of a child calls us back to what matters most.

Life Lesson Learned Through Kids: Miscarriage

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Almost 5 months after my miscarriage, my children continue to discuss the subject of the baby brother that passed away. Their discussion usually emerges when there’s chatter about who the oldest is (and therefore, the boss) and who the youngest is (and therefore, nobody’s boss) and each time, without fail, they’ll include Danyal at the bottom of the sibling hierarchy.

The voice of a child calls us back to what matters most.

Danyal – the Arabic version of the Biblical name Daniel – was delivered 16 weeks into my pregnancy. He weighed a little over 1 ounce and fit into the palm of my hand. There was no heartbeat detected at our latest appointment and since I saw little hands, feet, and limbs frozen on the  ultrasound screen, my husband and I decided to respect his miraculous growth and prepare for a proper burial.

My children visited me at the hospital after the induction and varied between being a little creeped out to just plain enthralled with this tiny human being that just recently had been cuddled inside their mother’s (very comfortable) tummy. Fully shaped miniscule features invited us to imagine what he would have looked like had the pregnancy progressed.

My 6 year old had a number of hidden concerns on the concept of death. He worried that he wouldn’t know anyone the next world (akin to a new classroom or a new school) or how long he would have to wait for someone else to join him in Heaven if he died first. My 4 year old daughter, on the other hand, had an itemized list of people she wished to play with (including a set great-grandmothers who are supposed to be just as sweet, if not sweeter, than her living  grandmothers). Her whimsical desires included eating a mountain made of ice cream and exploring with a handy sidekick named Boots (thank you for sharing, Dora).

Their innocence generated more conversations. Their resilience to a situation as stark as death and positive energy in the light of an often hushed and ignored experience centered my healing process. As they radiated confidence, acceptance, and contentment we, too, shed many clouds of anxiety, anguish, and sorrow. Our broken hearts regenerated with pronounced vitality.


“We have another brother, but he died.”

“My mommy had a baby in her tummy and he lives in Heaven.”

“Does he have diapers his size?”

The idea that there may be no need for diapers in Heaven caused in eruption of gleeful, roll-on-the-floor laughter.

Friends and neighbors offered their help and support, while sharing personal experiences of losing a child, during pregnancy or after. They mentioned numerous women they knew who had tread the same agonizing path of trying to channel grief and find acceptance to an abrupt end. The number of little souls that are remembered, mostly in private, seemed to grow with each conversation, and learned that the finality of a child’s death had visited almost every person I encountered.

Somehow, a child’s questioning can shift the perspective about something that we as a society have neglected. This negligence makes it more difficult to allow room for grief to run a natural path, and a lack of conversation makes seeking solace a difficult path.

Some eyebrows will rise and an awkward pause may interrupt a casual conversation – but continuing to acknowledge the existence of someone we cherish and love who left us sooner than expected may promote another’s understanding of just how often miscarriages occur and how possible it can be for both children and adults to move forward without forgetting.


Resources:

Misconceptions about Miscarriage

Pregnancy Complications

Reflections on My Initiation into Motherhood

Reflections on My Initiation into Motherhood

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Reflections on My Initiation into Motherhood

I wish I could say that I took to motherhood immediately. My own mother did. She says that the first time she saw my sister, her firstborn, she had an overwhelming feeling of love. Scientists attribute these all-encompassing feelings of love to the surge of oxytocin that occurs during labor and the postpartum period. My mother, who recalls waking many hours after my sister’s birth via C-section, may not have had the hormonal surge during labor, but she nonetheless instantly bonded with her newborn. Even though I gave birth vaginally, I didn’t feel that instant bond with my son. My initial reaction to motherhood was more akin to shock.

History is full of idealized images of motherhood–from Renaissance portraits of the Madonna and Child, to Mary Cassatt’s wonderful renditions of everyday interactions between mothers and their children, to June Cleaver in the 1950’s, to modern-day, airbrushed photographs of celebrity mothers, Facchinetti_Maternal_lovehair coiffed and in full make-up, holding their smiling babies. Although I love Mary Cassatt’s paintings as well as Raphael’s Madonna and Child, none of these representations accurately reflects my initial experience of motherhood. If someone had painted a portrait of a sleep deprived, bleary-eyed woman, shirt soaked with leaking breast milk and splotched with spit-up, that would have more accurately portrayed me in my first few weeks of child rearing.

Modern childbirth, only relatively recently (and thankfully) out of the closet from a private affair between a woman and her doctor, has also developed its own mystique. Some people have very strong opinions on “natural” childbirth versus births with some sort of intervention like an epidural, etc. Having given birth both ways, I believe that people should do whatever makes them most comfortable. If a detailed birth plan, a water birth or a home birth is the way you want to go, then more power to you. Likewise, if you end up having a cesarean section, then I’m happy that medical interventions can help you and your baby stay healthy. Many times, no matter how much you plan, your body has different ideas.

nicognome3In my own case, I assumed that I would have a cesarean section, because both my mother and my sister had to have one. I also assumed that I would go into labor past my due date. In reality, I started having contractions 3 weeks before I was due. My water broke, so I went to the hospital. My labor, however, wouldn’t progress even after the doctors gave me Pitocin. Because the contractions under Pitocin were so painful, I asked for an epidural, which relaxed me enough that my cervix could finally begin dilating. After three hours of pushing, my son was born. Without warning, the doctors put my infant son on my stomach. Because I had closed my eyes while pushing, I did not realize that my son had even been born. I didn’t have any idea what they had put on my stomach. When I finally realized it was my son, they whisked him away to weigh him and check his vitals. The doctor, who had not been my regular obgyn, soon left and let a medical student stitch up my torn perineum.

I was lucky. I did not have any problems breastfeeding. My son was born healthy, and I went through childbirth in a relatively short time. I did not, however, feel elated. Instead, I felt exhausted and nicohandsuckcloseupwholly unprepared to take care of this tiny being. Add to that some incontinence, pain from my tear, and the fact that the medical student had mistakenly left gauze inside of me (something I would discover 12 days after giving birth), I wasn’t in the best of spirits.

I also felt unprepared to suddenly accept my new identity as a mother. The nurses, unaware of the jarring feeling one can have when becoming a first time mother, stopped calling me by my name and started calling me mom. I was prepared to have my son at some point call me mom, but not four or five adult nurses.

To add to my feelings of incompetence, my son choked a couple of days after he was born. He slept in a bassinet right next to me, and I didn’t even notice. A nurse happened to be in the hospital room and rushed quickly to his bassinet, picked him up, flipped him over and slapped him on the back. I was shocked and worried that he might choke in his sleep, or nicotoolswhile I was sleeping. The nurse told me that I needed to watch my child constantly, so that I could intervene if he started to choke. She said that I, as a mother, would be able to sense when he was about to choke, even if I were asleep. A couple of days later, my pediatrician informed me that the nurse was completely mistaken, that babies never choke to death while sleeping on their backs. However, prior to that initial well-check appointment with my pediatrician, I was terrified.

The first night home, I didn’t sleep because my son wanted to eat constantly, to bring in my milk supply, and also because I was so afraid he would choke to death. I remember wondering in the middle night if this was really what motherhood was all about. Nothing can really prepare a person for the prolonged sleep deprivation involved in caring for a newborn. Jennifer Senior, in a Fresh Air interview about her book All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood, divides new parents into three groups: those who can function with sleep loss, those who are “compromised and cranky,” and those who are just complete “basket cases.” In those first few months, I probably fluctuated between the latter two. I was especially an emotional wreck when we had to return to the hospital two days after coming home, because my son had jaundice. Watching the doctors put an IV in his tiny arm was simply too much for me. I may not have had that initial outpouring of love, but my connection to him was more primal. I simply couldn’t stand to see someone hurt him.

I was fortunate to have a great deal of support from my husband, who fell in love with my son instantly and completely. He wanted to spend every waking moment with him. My husband was the type of father who took off his shirt to hold our son because he read it was beneficial for ry=400newborns to have skin-to-skin contact with their parents. My mother and sister also staggered their visits so that I had someone helping us the first month of my son’s life. All of their support took a lot of the stress away from adjusting to motherhood. However, during those first weeks that I cared for my son, held him, changed his diapers, and breastfed him, I still felt more overwhelmed than “in love” with my newborn. It wasn’t until everyone had left, my husband had grown accustomed to having our baby in the house, and I had the chance to sit alone holding my son on my chest as he slept, that I began to appreciate and get used to motherhood. Since that day, I haven’t looked back. Like most mothers, I love my son more than anything (except of course my other child), and that love continues to grow. I also have earned my stripes as a mother. I have gotten up in the middle of the night with sick children countless times, cleaned up vomit and excrement and urine, wiped tears, kissed cheeks, snuggled with my boys millions upon millions of times, and fallen completely and utterly in love with my children.

However, in a time when popular media still represents motherhood as an instantaneous bond between a mother and her newborn, it is important to remember that, for some of us, the whole motherhood thing might just take a little longer to take in.


 

***As an aside, I may have had one negative interaction with a nurse, but the rest of the nurses were rock stars. The second time I gave birth, I returned to that same hospital with a different doctor, and I had the most wonderful, empathetic and caring nurses.


Image Attribution:

Fachinetti: Maternal Love

A Birth Story

Of Miracles And Moments – A Birth Story

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A Birth Story

There you are Uma, my first glimpse of you, and of course you’re staring back at me.

Birth

(photo cred for all photos in this post except this one go to Jackie Willome Photography)

I found new love in this moment. I loved you instantly. In this moment, I have a ‘bright light’ moment, similar to what people describe when in a near death experience. You were the end of my tunnel. I wondered about the life you’ll lead. Geez, will you have to face a dustbowl drought, like I read about? Will you have a family of your own one day and experience the euphoria that I’m in? Will you spend years emulating your parents? Will you then spend years embarrassed by the sight of us? Whatever it is, whatever your challenges, your loves, your despair – all of it – you’re alive and it is all worth it. And finally, in this millisecond, I realize the struggle you’ve already made – to beat the odds – to be here with us to share this moment.

THE BIRTH STORY

(Part 1 – in which the birth is not discussed at all … YET)

All birth starts with conception, and yours is unique. No, I will never tell you the story of how your mother and I conceived you (any more than I just did), but go with me here. We had 2 kids- two wonderful kids- 2 kids that woke us up in all hours of the night as babies. 2 kids that we changed diapers for – (and not those “drop-em in a waste bucket and forget what you just saw” disposable diapers – but “shake-it-out and wash it” diapers).

To be honest, we thought another kid would be beyond our capabilities.

We were even using birth control – let’s be honest here – we were using one of THE MOST effective types of birth control on the market – 99.6% effective…apparently. That’s a percentage you sleep easy with, that percentage is why I don’t play the lottery.

See – I told you that you were unique. I guess all of that didn’t matter – not the diapers, not the birth control, not the percentage. What mattered was love – and we had that in abundance.
The day was July 7, 2014, the day we found out about you. Two days earlier, we had just had a dance off karaoke party with friends. I had literally sprained my ankle whilst singing Def Leppard (you will need to Wikipedia this pop-culture reference). Despite the injury, you need to know this about your dad: I rocked on. I sprained my ankle on the first song – and rocked on all the night long – for your mom – for her birthday.

So 2 days later, .04% (the chance of pregnancy) would come down to a Walgreens test, when Alissa had this weird feeling -that she had felt 2 times before. But I thought Alis was impregnable. Point-four percent (.04%) – surely we’re not that .04%. Surely, nobody is actually that .04%. Surely, that number is just representing scientific error and weird anomalies once every decade or so. Surely. Surely- POSITIVE.

I’m not saying I didn’t struggle. This was a process – and don’t worry – you do win my heart. You have that Rocky moment – that Say Anything moment – you do ‘get the girl,’ don’t worry, you get there.

During your gestational period, the kids and I spoke at length – I think Asher thought you were a bad taco that mom ate that was making her stomach ache. We had a very loving, very healthy pregnancy. We sang to you, talked to you and kissed you (as best we could).

THE BIRTH

(Part 2 – the real birth story)

So 9 months had passed. I would say uneventfully, but it wasn’t so uneventful. We loved you already. We had traveled a long way from that .04% – a universe away, as we eagerly awaited your arrival.

The night you were born, Asher had awoken in the night, as he is prone to doing. I comforted him, and ended up falling asleep on his bed. Around midnight Alissa wakes me up in a rush, I see that she is having serious contractions- because she couldn’t talk to me in complete sentences. She quickly shouted some brief commands and rushed off to get a firm grip on something before the next contraction. I knew this was it, the day we had been waiting for. Alissa rushed to the couch and had more contractions, texting our midwife Robin, and friends and doulas, Rachel and Beth.

I wanted, fool heartedly, to add some air to the birthing pool after hearing Alis tell the midwife that she wanted to labor in the tub. I was still in some form of REM sleep as I got out the air compressor (dolphins turn off half their brain and still swim as they sleep, I was in this dolphin state.) Somehow got the tip stuck inside the air hole of the birth tub, when I took off the compressor, the tub deflated to near nothing – it was a crumpled mess of what we needed, of what it was just a moment ago. I looked at Alissa, and she noticed the sad state of affairs in the midst of another contraction, (I still haven’t had the cajones to ask her what she was thinking as she glanced at me and a very well deflated tub.) I immediately problem solved – I grabbed the biggest pair of pliers in the house/ neighborhood/North Central part of town and I yanked it out and fixed my mess up. Who knows how many contractions I missed. DoulaBeth entered and comforted Alissa, then DoulaRachel showed up, and MidwifeRobin arrived shortly thereafter. Alissa asked if she could get in the tub to labor – MidwifeRobin wanted to examine first. I texted our amazing PhotographerJackie and told her that I would contact her soon if MidwifeRobin felt the baby was coming soon.  We had not yet asked Jackie to make her way to us, though we knew she was a good 45 minutes away, we didn’t want her to arrive too early.

Minutes later, MidwifeRobin checks and stops immediately and says “It’s time, the baby’s right here.” Alissa begs for clarification. “The baby is right here, this is her head.” And just then PhotographerJackie (did I say she was amazing?) came through the door, and just started snapping pictures. 6 minutes, 6 beautiful minutes, 6 precious minutes later, you were here and I had that ‘bright light’ moment. You were born in still fully in your amniotic sac. This is called en caul – just like 1 in 80,000 other babies are born. You always loved those long odds.

This is what followed:

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Thank you Uma – thank you for fighting the odds. Thank you for being born. Thank you for completing our family.