_____

“You can make anything by writing.” ― C.S. Lewis

Posts for Kristin Category

Birthing Ariadne, Part One: A Change in Plans

I’m going to tell you the story of how my daughter was born. And the birth story I’m going to tell you is almost the exact opposite of the birth that I hoped for, prayed for, and prepared for.

The birth story I’m going to tell you is simultaneously one of the best and one of the worst experiences of my life – and it’s taken me a long time to accept that it can be both. This story is one I’ve struggled with telling ever since it happened – one I’ve chewed on every single day, trying to break it down into digestible pieces. I’m not going to pretend part of me doesn’t regret how it went down, that sometimes I don’t wish I’d made different decisions, or that the universe had dealt me a different cards so I didn’t have to play the hand I’d been given.

But then I’m also going to tell you how I’m all right with what happened – how even though it was scarier than even I’d expected – parts of it were still so magical, so breathtaking. How I mourn the loss of that empowering, natural birth I worked so hard for – how I still struggle with guilt and fear and confusion – but how, on good days, I understand how every single step was necessary to get Ariadne here safely, and keep me safe, and how we did everything in our power to make her birth as spiritual, celebratory, and emotional as was possible under the circumstances – and how much I believe we succeeded, considering what we could not change.

This is a birth story, and it’s my birth story – meaning, I’m going to be as open and frank and detailed and long-winded as I want. You’ve been warned!

PART ONE: A Change in Plans

I find it important to note – I had an almost textbook healthy pregnancy. For 37 weeks, I was a healthy girl carrying a healthy baby. Aside from some anxiety and depression issues early in my first trimester (unrelated to being pregnant), and the typical pregnancy ailments – my baby and I were healthy and risk free, for almost our entire pregnancy.

I struggled so much with this; all throughout the pregnancy, but especially in the beginning. Part of me just didn’t believe that I was capable of being pregnant. It had taken us a little longer than expected to get pregnant, and felt such a shock when I learned I was — and some of that shock spilled over into the actual pregnancy. I doubted that I could do this, that my body could do this – for no reason other than that self-doubt that plagues us all. I believed all other women could have healthy pregnancies and healthy births with healthy babies, but I doubted myself. Surely something was wrong with me. Surely I would mess this up, surely I would find a way to ruin this. Surely I wasn’t good enough to be trusted with this gift. I’d wanted my baby so badly for so long – I was terrified something beyond my control would take her away from me.

Continue Reading

Continue Reading

Humility.

I love my daughter more than anything else in this world, and I would do anything for her – and sometimes, I’ve learned, that anything I’ve promised to do is to humble myself and ask for help, to take an action I don’t necessarily want to take but become aware I need to take.

Motherhood teaches us humility in a variety of ways. Sometimes, we learn humility when we have baby puke or baby poop on our hands and clothes, and we can’t clean it off us until we take care of our child first. Sometimes, we learn humility when our child is having an epic meltdown in the grocery store and everyone is staring and we have to just patiently pass items onto the conveyor belt to get the shopping over and done with so we can get the screaming child out of there. Sometimes, we learn humility because we have a plan in place – a mothering plan, a parenting plan – and we are physically incapable of following through with it.

The last one? That’s me. That’s the lesson I’ve learned over and over again since I’ve become a mother. It’s apparently the lesson I need to learn the most, because it keeps coming back and reminding me I haven’t studied hard enough yet.

I’ve said this before – if sheer force of will were enough to get things done, I would never be behind. I would always have my ducks in a row. My spirit is always willing, but the flesh is weak. Or, perhaps more aptly – there’s just a world outside my stubborn, strong-willed self. There are other people in the equation. There are jobs and obligations and traffic and people whose priorities are not my priorities, and visa versa. I have a will, and I am determined to find a way – and the truth is, that lesson that I have to learn over and over again – is that just because I want make something happen a certain way doesn’t mean it’s going to happen that way. I can fight and fight the inevitable outcome as hard as I want – I will eventually have to humble myself and learn the lesson.

Continue Reading

Continue Reading

A Mother’s Blessing

We had all had rough days.

Some of us had had rough weeks, some of us were ill or in pain, or had emotional issues troubling us.

When I first realized this, getting ready in our bedroom in the early evening, I — of course — worried. Worried that we would all be too tired to enjoy ourselves. Worried that my dear ones had stressed themselves out, trying to pull together this Blessingway in my honor. Worried that our hearts would be in the right place but our bodies might not cooperate.

I dried my hair, and after I finished, I heard car doors slam shut outside. My girls were here. I didn’t bother with mascara — I knew there would be some sort of tears at some point in the evening; tears of emotion or joy or laughter or overwhelmed gratitude. I threw on the dress I’d worn for maternity pictures, earlier in the week, figuring I might as well get some more use out of it than just that one single occasion, and then I headed out the front door to the front porch.

Already, my ladies had hung a bright tie-dyed sheet of Lauren’s, blocking most of the party space from view. They would allow me behind it, but they wouldn’t let me help with anything, so I decided to park it in a chair outside the curtain and let myself be surprised when they’d finished setting up completely.

I didn’t feel great, I’ll admit it. I’d had an emotional day, more stress than I’d expected, and my hormones ready and rarring to escalate every emotion to its highest level, even when it wasn’t called for. Physically, I had pushed myself a bit farther than I should have. My back was killing me, my carpal tunnel was causing both my hands to ache, and my poor pregnant feet were certainly reacting to doing chores all day and the summer heat. Worst — my Braxton Hicks contractions were really amped up that evening — I was trying to catch up on my hydration, and sit still to let my body rest — but they were intense, and frequent. Not regular, or painful — never quite enough to make me actually worry about actual labor — but close enough that one or two times throughout the evening, I had an inward moment of, if this keeps up, we might turn this Blessingway into a Birthingway. (Luckily, that didn’t end up happening, and at the end of the night, with plenty of water and my feet propped up, everything returned to normal.)

So I sat, and listened as my friends called to each other, working together to transform the porch into a little wonderland for a few hours. Lauren turned on some music and it spilled out into the evening air.

Suddenly, I felt a sense of peace wash over me. Whatever I had been upset about all day, whatever I apprehension I had for the evening’s festivities — it all faded away. The sun was not yet quite beginning to set, but the hour drew nearer. Beyond the porch and the trees of the neighborhood, the sky flared from blue to rose and amber, and the last of the afternoon sunlight cut angles across the porch, shining through that tie-dye sheet. Suddenly, everything felt exactly as it should. I was happy to be there, happy to have my girls there to celebrate with me. Happy to have my husband inside enjoying some dude time, happiest of all to have my daughter kicking and wiggling in my belly as I waited.

Continue Reading

Continue Reading

Welcoming Jude, Part III: The Birth!

Part Three: The Birth
Finally, we get to the real heart of this series of posts — the actual birth of Jude, whom I affectionately call SB — Spirit Baby, for the way I told Emi I knew she was pregnant before she even thought was.

Have you read Part I and Part II?

Note: I’m only sharing a select few of these birth pictures, with Emi’s permission. Also — this is long, and therefore somewhat detailed — but not a very graphic birth story, since I was only an observer. Which is to say — you’re not going to get a lot of medical details, and this should be a fairly tame read — but if you’re squeamish about birth, you’ve been warned!

With all that background out of the way, I can finally get down to the actual birth, that experience that so awed and inspired me – and I have to start that story the week before Emi gave birth – not that we knew it, at the time.

There had been some concern, in the final weeks – every expecting woman’s nightmare: Emi’s midwife, beloved Candie was going on vacation on September 23. Emi’s official due date was September 24. Of course, none of us ever know when a baby is going to decide IT’S TIME – but there was a fairly decent chance Emi wouldn’t have the woman she’d trusted and met with her entire pregnancy with her when she gave birth – that she would be passed over to some stranger who didn’t know her preferences and her background.

And I think there was more to it than that – Emi is a doula, she’s worked with Candie on multiple births. There was a trust there, a working relationship – and after I met Candie myself, heard her talk and work with Emi throughout her birth – I knew Candie really wanted to be at Emi’s birth too, for her own sake.

So in the week before, there was a lot of concern, a fair amount of rush. As I packed my doula/photographer bag, slipping in last minute chargers and essential oils, Emi and I texted, pretty darn close to day and night. How’s my girl, I asked every morning, how are you feeling?

Her answers varied. Some contractions last night, she’d say, but they petered out. Nothing too exciting.

I finished my bag, double-checked everything, worked out a schedule to share the car with Shaun to where I had access to drive to Emi and Trav even if Shaun was at work. I admit – I was nervous myself. I wanted Emi to have her baby with Candie, before she left – but it was a difficult week for me in terms of juggling obligations. I’d gotten approval to miss work if Emi went into labor during the day, but this week was one where a fellow team member would be out one day and I would need to be there if at all possible, I had dance classes Monday and Friday, I had a practice for my work’s team Dragon Boat Races  on Friday, and was scheduled to row in the races with the rest of my work team on Saturday. I didn’t want to let anybody down – I didn’t want to make anyone mad or disappointed in me, and I didn’t want to miss out on any of it.

True to form, I tried to stress at first. What if Emi goes into labor on Wednesday when my coworker is out? What if Emi goes into labor while I’m teaching and I have to find someone to cover? What if she goes into labor just before the races start? Or in the middle, and I can’t leave? All the while, I tried not to bother Emi with my worries. My obligations were definitely not her concern, and I didn’t want to shove my potential problems in her face while she was waiting to go into labor, of all things.

After a few days of this, I went right back to that word – trust. You are just going to have to trust that it will work out, I kept telling myself, hearing my sweet mama’s advice in my own head. (Maybe I’m finally learning.) You are going to have to trust that it will work out as it should. Worrying about it is not going to change anything, or make anything happen. Rest, wait. See what happens as it happens.

Thursday is where things started to get interesting.

Continue Reading

Continue Reading