Sunday, May 12, 2019

A mother's confession:

When I pulled you to my chest after 17 hours of back labor, I recoiled inside a little bit because you honestly looked like my father in law. A tiny slippery red-faced alien, wailing and reaching for me. 

When I was exhausted and hormonal and hated the way you smelled, (What is this baby smell everyone is talking about?) four days after pushing you out, and had to chant, "I love this baby...I love this baby..." to myself as we tried to nurse -- I remember wanting to run away and sobbing so hard in my room, and giving myself a pep talk- "You can fall apart for exactly 30 seconds and then you have to SUCK IT UP and go out to the living room and put on a happy face because people are here!"  

When I was in the ICU 'pumping & dumping' every two hours because of all the antibiotics that they threw at me to try and keep me alive -- and the doctor told me I would never breastfeed I thought, "No way. I'm doing this. Let's keep this going." determined that this would be the channel through which I would figure out this bonding thing with you. 

When the night nurse read my chart saw that I was a week post-partum, and casually asked, "So...where's your baby?" I bawled for an hour. 

When I finally came home from the hospital and we figured out how to nurse again, I was so relieved. I thought, now we can get back on track. 

When you rejected every. single. plan. I had in my head for how we would raise you...(breastfeed for years/ co-sleep/ attachment parenting ) and you hated to be held, kissed, snuggled, connected with--you just wanted to run away. all. the. time. even before you could run. I thought it must be all my fault, from the very beginning. That I had missed our chance, our window at bonding. 

When you grew more distant and demanding and didn't speak except to copy your favorite lines from books or kid shows, I thought I failed. 

When you didn't say, "I love you, Mom" until you were four years old, and after working at that simple social exchange for a year...I tried to not let it bother me, but I failed. 

I had so many moments when all of my early childhood training, nannying, babysitting, teaching, practice utterly failed and failed and failed again. 

But you were teaching me how to be YOUR mom. And what YOU needed. And every day we learn a little bit more. And now we're better than ever! Somewhere on this 6-year journey of being your mom we had figured each other out over and over, found our groove and became fiercely attached. 

* * * 
Last month, CPS left their card on my door--( because your 2.5 -year-old sister had bitten your arm--and someone thought that was a red flag)  I thought...don't they know? Don't they know that every waking minute is in service of keeping you safe and happy? When my ability as your mother was called into question I thought--don't they know about every little part of our world that has been gone over with a fine tooth comb to make sure that your world is safe? The double locks on all the doors? The specialty diet? The routines, and schedules, and cards? The swings, the sensory spaces? The books, and shows and practice work we do? The hovering helicopter mom I have become in order to keep you safe? (Since your fear filter doesn't work?) 

Still--all I could think of was that you would be so confused, upset, and hurt to be taken away from us and your life here. That they wouldn't know what song to sing to you in order to help you calm down. They wouldn't know the exact way you *need* you eat your sandwich in order to be happy. Or how you put your shoes on the wrong feet sometimes on purpose because it feels better to you. They wouldn't know your patterns of conversation or the world that's inside your head. They wouldn't know that you can climb walls...or escape over fences, that you're drawn to water, or strangers & dogs. And that if it came to it, I would fight tooth and nail to keep you with me.

The thought that they could take you away left me shaken, breathless, angry and terribly upset. 
(It still does) Luckily--the caseworker had no issues with you, or our home, or your father and me. 

* * * 

To the alien baby that turned into a beautiful toddler in her own special world, who then became this wild and wonderful child---you made me a different kind of mama in a way I couldn't have foreseen. It's been a bumpy ride at times, but oh how I love you. 

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Lucia's birth story / and catch up.

My last post was in 2016--- I left it hanging with "ripe fruit".

I delivered a gorgeous, squishy, squnchy baby girl on August 25th and then life got in the way and somehow she's sitting on my bed next to me watching some inane ABC show at 2 and a half and I never got around to writing her story!

Such is the lot of second babies. Right?

Life got crazy--in good ways, (I had a new healthy baby--and I didn't die or end up in the hospital!  just a bout of mastitis ) and hard ways, (all of my in-laws moved in with us for 6 months) and in ways that turned out to be a new normal--(Ari was diagnosed with Autism and started special education preschool on her 4th birthday) 

but there needs to be a pause...I think, to witness the light and joy and goodness that Lucia brought to our family and especially me.

I remember sitting on my bed wearing my red and blue damask/kaleidoscope maxi skirt and rocking back and forth during the contractions.

My scheduled midwife was sick and was hoping I wasn't really in labor.

I had gone for a long walk with Ivan around the neighborhood the night before--just to kick things into gear. I was so excited to meet this little one! I had arranged the music I wanted to listen to, music to labor to, to focus with, to push with...) I had gathered the art that I was bringing with me to the birthing center so I could focus on something I actually liked. (For Arianna's birth I had them remove the annoying metal sculpture of the empire state building. Couldn't we have something round, open and lovely, instead of phallic and pointy, please? Come on!)

When I had Ivan drive me to the birth center, luckily my midwife Suzanne who delivered Ari was there--which was such a miracle since she had moved on to just a teaching position--but because the other one was out sick---it was a huge load off of my mind having her there, because she knew all about the complications I had before, and knew what to look for this time. I also had my aunt Kara come and be my my mom was on the plane coming across the country!

In some ways--I knew I could do it without her, as sad as that would be for her to miss it, but I knew mostly wanted to get the birthing part out of the way, and I needed her help for the fallout that happens when I have a baby.

When I was checked I was only at 2 cm--and that was very disappointing because I had been waiting for the 5-1-1 rule to come and it had been going for a while...I had been contracting at home for 24 hours.

Now, these contractions were getting more and more severe, I couldn't talk through them... so instead of being sent home (like last time) they set up the room, and we settled in.

This felt very different than the first time I gave birth. With Arianna it had been all back labor--I think because the placenta had been across my front belly and protected me from feeling those ones. With Lucia, however, I was in 360 pressure. It didn't help that I had to have an IV injection of antibiotics as a preventative measure from getting "Child bed fever" or "Strep A Chains" which I had with Arianna --postpartum  Turns out...they think I'm a carrier?

I remember the contractions getting faster and more intense--time is all warped during labor anyway--so things are vague.---and laboring in the tub was really hard, and I had to be reminded to breathe like blowing out a candle. I remember thinking I can't do this again.

and then wondering if the cervical lip would be stuck like last time...(it wasn't thank goodness) but trying to progress and then suddenly--I was back on the birthing stool... ( with help of course) and trying to remember how to push and focus.

When she came out it was a rush of pressure and fluids and they held her up to me and I was so surprised!

Lots of dark hair, and squished face and "such a different bug!" I had been expecting a little copy of Ari -- because the ultrasound had shown a near identical profile...


but this little one is all her own self--Much darker skin, and so much hair, and sweet little long fingers and chubby hindquarters. Ohhh such a baby bear. 
Lucia Mae, born 6:55 AM. 7 lbs 10 oz. I think all told it was 6 hours from when we arrived at the birthing center to when she was born. (Arianna was 17 hours) 

Ivan cut the cord and held sweet little miss for the first time.

I had to have Pitocin right after for the delivery of the placenta because Suzanne was concerned with the amount of blood I was losing.

Those contractions made me want to punch people. Whew! So hard--but a clean delivery of the placenta and got cleaned up and back in bed with my cute baby.

We nursed and slept while my mama got picked up from the airport by my brother, and we generally got bored and got ready to head back home to do the real healing. That's what I loved about the birthing center, was after so many hours, I could just say--"I'm ready to get out of here!"

But first---we stopped off at Target because I needed a touch lamp next to the bed for late night nursing--etc. Mom stayed in the car with the baby and I ran in --- mesh diaper under my pajama pants and I didn't even care. It was just so freeing to not be pregnant then...and feel all my bones start to shift back into place.

My mom came and made everything better. Food, baby swaps, reminding me to shower, cleaning the house, tending Arianna, last minute runs to the store, finding nursing shields, (after realizing that baby had chomped off a bit of my nipple and was drinking/ coughing up blood) and diagnosis of mastitis and bouncing a very grumpy baby for HOURS. I'm convinced that all those antibiotics from the delivery/nursing/mastitis affected her poor little tummy so she was a grumpy baby for about a month...and continued to have lots of hiccups and so her nickname of 'cricket' stuck.

Grandma Anne and "Cricket"

In three and half weeks she had gone from 7 lbs to 9.5

and NOW she's a sassy little princess-obsessed, curious, drama queen / sweetest little cherub you've ever met!

but most of her babyhood was swallowed in my brain by her older sister requiring a lot of attention and nursing her, a no sleep --it was survival mode.  and then it was winter time and I honestly can't tell you how we got through it...

Lucia was given a name and a blessing at our church in October.

Ivan got his appendix out--and so Lucia and I stayed in a cold hospital waiting room for 13 hours...

In November the country held elections and we held our breath for a letter for Ivan's citizenship papers to come through...

In December my sister in law got married and everyone moved out of the basement.

I would have to look back on Instagram and see what we did for the next 6 months...lots of nursing, and trying to sleep, and contain Arianna (we ended up buying a slide and keeping it in the living room)

and all the time this beautiful, chunky babe would quietly grow and grow---and smile and giggle and I don't know how it all happened...she learned to scoot and crawl, pull herself up, sign ("more" at 7 months!)  babble and eventually how to climb up our living room slide herself!

And eventually-- On June 21st Ivan became an American Citizen! Yahoo!

The rest of the year is a blur--- here are some photos to help me remember a bit:

 Four generations: Great-grandma Betty Jo, Grandma Anne holding Lucia, and me, Kjirsten in the back.

Great -grandma Ilamae holding Lucia Mae. 

It took a long time for Arianna to warm up to baby---but now they're great pals. 

In the hospital after Ivan needed his appendix out...wheee!

Christmas was blurry. Looks like we had fun though! 

They got matching Shaun the Sheep shirts for St. Patrick's Day from Grandma and Pa. 

We went on lots of early morning walks. 

 10 months ---didn't want to forget these fun milestones. She had two canine teeth coming in, crawling and pulling up everywhere. She signs: more, mom and dad and hi and bye and hat, all done, nurse and yes.) 

We celebrated her 1st birthday in Maine --- after she took her first real walking steps on an Ogunquit beach sand bar.

 Sitting in the middle of grandma Anne's medicine/meditation garden. 

 She wanted to get into the bucket and then was very sad once she was there. 

Arianna "rescuing" lucia from a giant squid. 

Panda and Elephant. 

Snow day shenannigans. 

Popsicles and messy pants...happy kid!

Lucia the garden gnome. 

She insisted on wearing goggles. ALL DAY. 

And now we're staring down the month of March having just survived the croup, and several colds, she's now sleeping next to me on the bed with a fever and an earache... this little girl is so loving and precious and opinionated and darling, and feisty and crazy, and sweet and wonderful.

We named her Lucia after the Saint--who brought food to the starving sailors on the darkest night of the year.

After trying and trying for another baby we found ourselves surprised with a Christmas-time positive pregnancy test.

She has lived up to her name, bringing the light of love and sustenance to our family. How we love her.