When Your Birth Doesn’t Go As Planned

I’m a planner by nature.  I don’t tend to actually follow through with the plans but I like to make them.
I didn’t write a “birth plan” I just wanted to listen to my body,  but you could say I had some ideas for postpartum.My tub all set up in my cozy bedroom.

I imagined myself at home. To give birth to my beautiful boy in the water. To curl up into bed afterwards and nap. To bathe in my own bath with a lovely herb bath that my midwife makes.  A yummy plate of fruit and delicious cheeses that I picked out at the grocery store waited for me in the fridge.  A box of cake mix sat in the pantry and a big “0” candle so the boys had something fun to make to celebrate our new baby’s birthday.

Okay, so I had a bit of a plan.

And you know what they say about plans…

Our youngest was born after a clunky, 20 hour stop-and-go labor that made me feel like some kinda newbie (what, does experience count for nothing anymore?).  I went from 10 centimeters and pushing, back to 6 and got to do it all over again. (Yes, that’s possible!) He was born not with quiet concentration of his older brothers, but with the sounds of someone trying to muster whatever possible strength and energy left. He was not born in the water like Hudson, but on a birthing stool beside the nice warm tub.

After being held and nursed for a few minutes, it was apparent that the adventure of birth was not over yet.

After a bit of an ordeal, I found myself  in the maternity ward of wonderful nearby hospital, having to stay the night for observation due to a partially retained placenta.

I was not in my bed enjoying my new sheets. I was not in my herb bath which smells like cloves. I wasn’t eating yummy brie with apples, or blowing out the candle on a birthday cake. There were no mimosas. My older boys were not with me. I was not wearing my cozy pjs.
I was in the hospital, with a bag of fluid that I had to wheel with me whenever I needed to go to the bathroom. My baby was not a patient, but a guest. I had no hospital bag packed so I had nothing with me.

This was not the plan. It was so, so not the plan. But there I was anyway.

I was later told that I earned a bit of a reputation on the maternity floor for being particularly friendly and chipper.
I didn’t realize at the time that I had a choice.  I didn’t realize could have been angry and disappointed because the beautiful experience I had hoped for was replaced by a rather dramatic (possibly traumatic?) experience instead.  Bitterness had never occurred to me.

When I think about the boys’ birth stories, this isn’t the first one I’ll be sharing. It can be described as a whole lot of things but I can’t truthfully call it pleasant… and it definitely wasn’t pretty, let alone beautiful.  This story is a little bit more of a battle story.  There were elements of beauty hidden in there, there was humor and there most certainly was love, but overall its a story of strength, giving our newest the nickname “Warrior Baby”.  I would have loved my bath, and my cheese, and my soft sheets but I have this instead.

I did allow myself a tear or two in mourning of the experience I had planned and lost, before going downstairs and celebrating Warrior Baby’s one week birthday.  We made the cake that had been sitting in the pantry, and had a glass of champagne (the juice for the mimosas, which had been opened, had gone bad) and I reflected on how truly lucky I was.
I could be traumatized by an occasionally gruesome, definitely painful and difficult delivery and postpartum.
But in the end, everything went right when something went wrong. I have a story about actual, physical angels who I saw (and who apparently don’t speak English) and who literally picked me up and carried me. I can be thankful that mine is a story of adventure, danger, strength, courage, wisdom, love and a happy ending… all of the elements of a really great story. And I can have ownership of that. No, it wasn’t even close to what I had planned, but I learned so much more from it.

Marlowe's first picture, taken in the hospital waiting room.
Marlowe’s first picture, taken in the hospital waiting room.

So, I am a little late in introducing my son to the blog. Here he is.
Due February 18th but born on March 2nd after 20 hours of labor and 6 minutes of pushing.
Born after the sun had risen and filled our bedroom with light.
Who was quickly weighed at 9lbs, 2oz and measured at 22 inches before swiftly being put into a car seat to follow mom to the hospital only a couple hours old.
Who comforted his father in the waiting room at the hospital.
Who has a “going to the hospital” outfit instead of a “coming home” outfit.
Who didn’t quite birth with me, but instead against me.
My warrior baby, Marlowe James.

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Hudson’s Art of the Day

Hudson is mildly obsessed with pieces of art from the show Little Einsteins (could be worse, eh?)
Occasionally, when we have the time we look them up online.

Here’s Hudson’s Art of the Day

unicorn in captivity

The Unicorn of Captivity  (yup, we Googled those too) is a part of seven hangings dated 1495–1505 featuring unicorns.  Woven with silk, wool and silver. According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art “…his confinement is a happy one, to which the ripe, seed-laden pomegranates in the tree—a medieval symbol of fertility and marriage—testify. The red stains on his flank do not appear to be blood, as there are no visible wounds like those in the hunting series; rather, they represent juice dripping from bursting pomegranates above.”
Apparently there is a little frog in  there too. Later today we’ll have to see if we can find it.

So, there is Hudson’s art history lesson for the day.  I learn quite a bit from him… and sometimes the lessons have nothing to do with parenting.

Max turns 6!

It’s nearly impossible not to sound like a cliche when you talk about when your first child was born. So I’m going to start this by saying that I’m not even going to try to avoid the cliches. Take a moment. Prepare yourself.

I was 23 when 9lb, 21in Max entered the world.

23, just shy of a year married, tired from labor, shaky from an epidural, puffy and make-up free.  I must have looked all of 16 with this roly-poly sleepy-eyed baby with fat thighs and light whips of hair wedged in my arms as I lay on my back.

This brand new person who was about to change my life forever had been handed to me, after being quickly weighed and cleaned with pink and blue hospital hat on his head, while I was still in the hospital bed.  It almost seems too casual of an introduction. We stared at each other best we could. His eyes not yet developed enough to see more than 12 inches from his face, and mine half closed because I could not seem to keep them open.  “You better teach me how to do this”  I thought “because I have no idea what I’m doing.”

When I look back I am amazed by did not know at that time.  The truth in that moment.

Max 18 months

As parents, we think of ourselves as the teachers.  We teach our children what is right and wrong. Not to hit, not to bite, how to make friends. First steps, first words, potty training, and shoe tying. We talk about weather, we talk about friendships, sing the alphabet, we answer the who’s, what’s, where’s and when’s the best that we can. When questions get complicated we choose to lie, or fib or tell half-truths because we see ourselves as the judge on what our children are ready for.  We teach them consciously through lessons and we teach them by our actions when we don’t think they are listening or watching.

But the lessons offered by our children are so much more powerful.

The moment Max was born, I became a different person. A mother. A new part of myself that did not exist just moments before.  And by following his lead, I became a parent. The best book, the most popular parenting guru or current philosophy didn’t teach me how to be a parent. Max did. We were in it together. Sometimes I was good at it, and sometimes I failed, but he was a patient and persistent teacher.

Maybe it’s because he knows he’s stuck with me.

There have been life lessons that extended beyond parenting, lessons about compassion, depth of love, patience, what we can control and can’t (possibly the most humbling lesson so far) and the sheer joy that can be found in little moments.

There have been moments of self-doubt where he caused me to rethink what I had known previously to be true. His depth, thoughtfulness and insight has surprised and amazed me. His view of the world has inspired me.

Max, goofing around at 5

As Max gets older, I tend to lose sight of the daily lessons. I lose the “we’re in this together” feeling I felt so strongly those first few days, months and years and I begin to think of myself again as the expert. I close my eyes to those lessons and go on parenting autopilot.  Get up, get dressed, get kids dressed, get Max on the bus, head to work, come home, cook dinner, struggle though bedtime and sleep. Wash, rinse, repeat.

But just as I am chugging along on autopilot, feeling like the expert, he’ll say something that causes me to pause, or a birthday rolls around.  And once again I am transported to that moment in a hospital bed, staring (or trying to stare) at Max, Max doing his best to focus on me and I’m reminded how much Max has taught me, and how much I still have to learn. But to learn them, I have to turn off the autopilot, surrender the expertise and be open to the lessons that Max and Hudson are ready to teach.

So Happy Birthday Max,
When you were born I became a whole new person.  Regardless of whether you are 6 or 36, with each birthday I will be reminded of how you changed me. Keep those life lessons coming, I have a lot to learn.

The eclipsed child.

“I just need a lot of your attention” Max told me when snapped at him after he interrupted me for the 4th time while I was trying to hold a conversation with a friend.  Max likes to play, but it’s only interesting to him if I am watching him narrate his entire game and providing occasional commentary.  If Max wants your attention he demands it. And he demands it a lot, whether it’s ‘watch me play with dinosaurs’ or ‘ what are you guys talking about’ when Max is in the room he’s a part of what is going on. It’s delightful and frustrating all at the same time.

But I have another son.

One who, when the spotlight is on his brother tends to retreat into his own games and toys.  The one who can count to 10 in 3 languages, loves to learn new things, can do 4 puzzles at once, can stack a perfect tower taller than himself, has never once held a pencil incorrectly, and can jump higher and father than his brother.  An empathetic child who sits with his brother when his brother who is supposed to be in time out, who says “it’s ok, don’t cry” when people are upset. A complete and utter goofball on the occasions where he does hold the spotlight, clever and silly. Little Hudson, who will ask you to color with him or to build a tower with him or sit with him but will be fine to go do something else if you are too busy.

It’s not about loving one any more than the other or favorites, but when you’re balancing 4 careers between two people, a busy life and two kids, the one who demands your attention gets in the way of time with the one who asks politely.

I had the realization this past weekend that when it comes to my little Hudson I need to adjust my parenting style. I’ve always felt confident on how to parent Max because he’s a lot like me.  There is no mystery to Max in my mind, I know what he’s going to say  or do before he says it.  Hudson is different from all three of us. Not better, not worse, just different.  If you want to go all zodiac about it you’ve got 3 fire signs (Me: Aries, Jeff and Max: Leo) and here comes Hudson, the Aquarius who leaves us all a bit mystified.  There’s so much we can learn from Hudson and discover about him, but we have to slow down and pay attention.

I haven’t been as good of a parent to Hudson as I could have been because I’ve been waiting for him to tell me what he needs as loudly as his brother does.  I need to listen closer. So it’s time to adjust our focus. Max will get his attention regardless.  Hudson needs to get the focus and attention now and since he won’t demand it, it’s up to us.  This is, in fact, dawning of the age of Aquarius (sorry, couldn’t resist).  Jeff and I need to change tactics and get more involved, after all, he needs a lot of our attention too.

Pirate Rules.

Max explained the rules of being a pirate, I wrote them down verbatim.  At a certain point he realized that I was writing it down… it quickly became a bit of a performance. Imagine the rest as one big quote:

Okay, Rule 1: A Pirate should always hold swords and be angry, mad. Well let’s just say, they have to be serious. A pirate is always–  have to hold a sword to defend against it’s enemies.

Rule 2: you have to use your imaginations, and let’s just say that a pirate when you always see land, when you get on to it, you should bring your sword with you. And I think that’s it.

And one more thing “LAND HO!”

When you want to go on a pirate ship, you gotta go to Max’s house and get a pirate ship, he just moved, so it might be kinda tiring.

And that’s the end of the pirate rules.

But wait–

“AHOY THERE!”

Come aboard the pirate ship at Max’s house.

Let’s just say “The end of the pirate rules!”

Dinner’s Hidden Dangers.

This was Max at dinner time tonight, he ate about 4 pieces of sushi (the vegetarian kind) and 1 piece of fish sushi (he said tonight he’d be a flexitarian – which he explained meant he could move in lots of different ways AND sometimes eat fish). Apparently, the only thing he doesn’t like about sushi is the rice.

He asked what the “pink stuff” was and we said it was ginger and it was a bit spicy. Then we offered some of the eel roll. Max is afraid of food that might be spicy.  He explained why…

“I better not eat anything too spicy because if I eat something to spicy I might breath fire and then this whole table would be on fire. In fact, if I was at my old school. At Montessori school. If I was there and I ate something spicy and  breathed fire everywhere and the children were there, and someone walked in front of me, they would die. So I’d better not eat spicy food.  I better not breathe fire.”

He pauses for a moment.

“It would be cool.

But would not be safe. ”

So basically, trying the eel roll could endanger our entire family.  With an argument like that, who can argue?

Spring is here!

Max actually stepped away from the computer on his own and told me

“I’m going to put on my flip flops and I’m going to G-O outside!”

If Max can pull himself away from the computer– spring really has arrived.

Pig-Pen Watches a Movie.

Hudson isn’t what you call a “still” child.

Here are a few pictures of him watching “Cars” in his diaper while I worked this morning and Jeff took Max out for errands.

The stool he got from the kitchen.  I have no idea why.

You’ll note he’s not wearing any clothing. There seems to be a current boycott.

And finally…

He watched almost the entire movie dancing around the stool this way.

Honesty.

Max came in to the bedroom this morning saying “HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!”

“Thank you Max, you remembered!”

“How could I forget your birthday? I could never forget your birthday!”

“Aww thank you honey”

“besides, Dad told me.”

 

Thanks Jeff 😉