Sunday, March 31, 2013

Haircuts

It is mid summer and I am barefoot,
Cutting your hair in the warm sun of the front porch
In this new home that feels like ours, but isn't.
The neighbors stop to chat as I snip away,
And I am filled with pride
Just to be the woman cutting your hair on the front porch.

It is early spring and my belly is just starting to round.
We sneak out front with the sunrise
For an early morning trim before you jump in the shower.
The warm breeze on our cheeks, the cool pavement beneath our feet,
Every inch of the world trembles with expectation.

Fall is dying into winter and the baby sleeps soundly,
so I cut your hair in the dim light of our living room.
In a new world filled with diapers and swaddles,
this old act of ours feels sweetly intimate,
And I am glad for a few hushed minutes with my fingers in your hair.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Labor Day Birth Story: Part One

I have already written the basic version of this story down for our family scrapbook (I'm not that crafty. It's digital.), but I wanted to write down a more detailed version to share, mostly because reading birth stories was so encouraging for me while I was pregnant. They helped me remember how many women do this birth thing every day and even got me excited thinking about what my own story would be like. I really enjoyed the book Homebirth in the Hospital, which I rented from the library, and I've also heard a lot of good things about the books of Ina May Gaskin in that regard, but haven't read any of them myself yet. One of my favorite birth stories of all time though, comes from my friend Lizzie, who had her second child in her friend's car, and coincidentally introduced me to the idea of doulas and natural births before I was even pregnant. If you're interested in birth stories, it's a must read: here or here.

Anyway, here is part one of the story of my son's birth :

My first child was born on September 3, 2012, a Monday, but not just any Monday: Labor Day, which anyone can tell you is infinitely better than your average Monday, as well as an appropriate day to give birth. My husband Andy and I spent that weekend trying to distract ourselves from the fact the we had reached my due date and could still have up to two weeks of waiting before we met the baby. On Saturday, we went out for a fancy dinner, took a walk downtown, and rented a movie. On Sunday, we went to church, but sat in the the back and left early because I was getting so uncomfortable. I had no desire to go anywhere or see anyone for the rest of that day, so we just stayed in, worked on a puzzle, and had french toast with peaches for dinner. 

Peach french toast and labor are now forever connected in my mind.
I know now that that sudden, instinctual need to hide myself away from (almost) all people and activities was my body's way of preparing me for what it knew was coming. That night, I woke up at 3 a.m. feeling crampy. I tried to ignore it, but then I noticed that the pain was coming in waves. At 3:30, I woke Andy up and said, “I think something is happening.” We hung out in bed for a while, then ventured outside for a moonlit walk and started timing my pains, which were 5-10 minutes apart, but seemed to spread out further as we walked. We spent the rest of the dark, early morning hours trying to distract from the pain by working on the puzzle, then going for another walk. The second walk was longer, but didn’t seem to make a difference in the timing of the contractions, which were now a steady 3-5 minutes apart.

This is after another neighborhood walk taken a few weeks earlier. Notice the wet spot on my belly from where my raincoat wouldn't close. 
When we got back I took a shower, then we called our midwife and parents. The midwife said to call and head to the hospital when the contractions were 3-5 minutes apart for several hours. My parents headed down and Andy and I spent the next few hours packing up and timing contractions. Throughout this time I kept thinking, “If I have an average length labor, I should have this baby by midnight.” Since I was due just two days earlier, we had always joked about having the baby on Labor Day, and now it looked like that was actually going to happen! At 6 a.m. I remember thinking, “I’ve already been in labor 3 hours” and at 9, “I’ve already been in labor 6 hours.” As ridiculous as it sounds, I was amazed by how fast it seemed to be going by. I felt like I barely had time to even think about the fact that I was in labor. I would wander around the house breathing through the pain and yelling “Okay!” every time a contraction started so Andy could write the time on a piece of paper in between gathering up our stuff. I spent a good portion of that time sitting on the edge of our bed with a pillow in my arms, which seemed to be the most comfortable I could get. It didn’t even cross my mind to try most of the positions they taught us in birthing class. My body just knew what it wanted to do.

Around 11 a.m., Andy and I were siting back at the dining room table trying to work on the puzzle again, when I had three contractions in a row that were 2 minutes apart. Andy and I both looked and each other and said, “It’s time to go to the hospital.”  My parents pulled up as we were walking out to the car and my mom asked if we were going for a walk. I just said, “We’re going to the hospital.” She jumped in the car with us and called the midwife as Andy drove.

You can continue reading with Part Two of this birth story here

Monday, March 18, 2013

*Commercial Break*, or Some Focal Points for Blogging

After a couple months revisiting blog writing, I feel the need to reorient myself, to cut to a commercial, shake it off, and pull it together. Things in motherdom have been a little crazy lately, but I want (and for my mental health, need) to devote more time to reflection and writing. I've decided to start setting aside one post-bedtime night each week to finding a couple of undivided hours to write my little heart out. There are so many directions that I could go with this time, but after thinking about it, a few aspects stand out as most important to me in my writing. These are the things that I want this blog to be focused on moving forward.



1) Good writing. I'd rather spend a lot of time saying a few things well than waste my time spitting out tons of poorly written jibber jabber. I feel like a lot of my best writing comes from extensive contemplation and deep, real life experiences, so in the future I'm going to try to focus more on processing the things, people, and events in my life that have affected me most profoundly. I think I have a disk lying around somewhere with a lot of my writing from my year living in Pine Ridge, South Dakota that I would love to archive here as a reminder of my writing identity. I'd also like to finally put down some of my thoughts on those crazy first days of motherhood that I've been aching to write about for a while now.

2) Truth. I want to stay true to myself, my experiences, and my feelings. There are a lot of voices out there in the blogosphere and I am constantly finding myself wanting to walk down someone's else well-trod path, both with my voice and my content, but the last thing the world needs is another voice that sounds just like someone else's. I want to write from the core of who I am and what I care about. In my heart of hearts, I am not a product reviewer, an advice columnist, a current events commentator, or a trendsetter, but I am an open book, an honest voice, a listening ear, and a mourner with those who mourn, among other things.

3) Simplicity. This has become kind of a buzzword, so I will spell out what it means for me: Less clutter, both in my physical environment and my mental one. Less money spent on things our family can do without and less time spent consuming information that doesn't make a difference in our lives. Establishing a rhythm to our days that finds room for relationships and creativity. I want this blog to be a space where I can keep myself accountable to this kind of simplicity and record my experiences in my efforts to find it.

Hopefully, if I can remember to put these things first when I sit down to make posts, and if I can make more any time for interactions with other bloggers, and maybe even get a little feedback/inspiration, I will get this space headed in the right direction.