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Posts for Mama Suh Category

Birthing Ariadne, Part Four: Birth

[part three]

PART FOUR: BIRTH

I still couldn’t believe those words – I believe I need a C-section – had left my mouth, and then I had to say them again, about 45 minutes later, to the doctor when she returned. In the time in between, I felt a curious sense of relief, this lightness like a huge weight had been taken off of my chest. I felt that I had made the right decision – that voice that had been shouting at me louder and louder to listen to my instincts quieted for a while.

Telling the doctor what I wanted and why was difficult, again. While she and I had our differences then, and have had differences again since, I do firmly believe she had me and my best interests at heart. I believe she was listening to my midwife when she said I really wanted a natural birth, and that’s probably honestly why she let me go as long as she did – under different circumstances, without my midwife’s warning, she might have called for a C-section earlier, but she wanted me to have the chance to birth the way I wanted, even if that wasn’t her way. Even on that day, I understand we had a sort of impasse of worlds, different outlooks and lifestyle, and I didn’t waste a lot of time trying to explain too much to her. I told her the basics of my decision, and after some discussion, she agreed we would do it.

I had thought maybe things would move very quickly at that point, but this wasn’t an emergency caesarian. They had to get the staff, wait for an open OR, to prep me – we had a bit of time, still, before the moment would finally arrive and I would have my baby in my arms.

That time in between ended up being a really beautiful, loving time, and I’m so glad we had it. Lauren arrived back from the dance studio, and just sat by my side and held my hand for a while. She told me she loved me and was proud of me. I felt safer and stronger, having her back with us, having her hold my hand and not say much, but look me in the eyes and tell me silently that she believed in me.

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All of us – Shaun, Lauren, Emi, Jeannie, Kristin and Mama – sat and just – talked. Processed. We discussed everything we had just talked about, all over again, and the more we talked, the more I felt convinced this was the right decision. I was able to calm myself, and gather my strength again – because what was about to come was almost scarier to me than giving birth vaginally might have been. I remember feeling very peaceful during this time, and very grateful for everyone there.

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Birthing Ariadne, Part Three: An Agonizing Decision

[part two]

PART THREE: AN AGONIZING DECISION

During that long night, a few things started to worsen in my condition — not terrible things, but small little warning signs. My urine output had gone down, they’d been monitoring it all night as it can be a sign of kidneys shutting down, and mine had lessened in the wee hours of the morning. I’d also developed a headache — another symptom of preeclampsia.

Around seven AM, my nurse T was off duty and she brought in a new nurse, K, to give her report on me. Listening to the long list of what was happening to me and what they were doing about felt a bit discouraging again, particularly when T looked over at me and asked, is there anything I’m forgetting? I mentioned the headache, and the nurses told me they’d get me some Tylenol to help.

Now that I had had Nurse T for a 12-hour shift, I was attached to her similar to the way I’d been attached to Kristin the day before. You never know with nurses, I’ve found they either tend to be super wonderful, or super frustrating. I’d tried really hard all night to be super positive and friendly and polite with any of the nurses who checked on me — as much as I could, out loud, even I was feeling grumpy inside. So far, I’d had excellent experiences. I was nervous to be meeting a new one — but K was absolutely fabulous, and played a huge part in my birth experience that day and the next.

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Birthing Ariadne, Part Two: The Induction

[part one]

PART TWO: The Induction

Luckily, Shaun managed to switch his usual Sunday evening shift for a Sunday day shift — meaning on that stressful night, when we were waiting to find out if we’d be parents sooner rather than later — he got to be home with me to try and keep me sane.

We truly had a lovely evening together, and looking back, knowing how it all ends — I’m so glad we did. It felt like we were standing on the edge of a cliff, trying to keep our balance: one the one hand, we could go in to the birth center on Monday and end up being kept, induced, having a baby sooner than expected. On the other — all this fuss and worry might be for naught. We might be sent home, and end up laughing Monday evening in our living room about how keyed up we were over nothing.

So I wanted to make an effort to be sure that if this was our last night home together, we really made space to honor how special that was. Shaun set up to grill — it’s always one of our favourite ways to spend an evening. He did his special chicken marinade and grilled squash and zucchini, so we had a healthy meal, and we enjoyed the summer evening as we had so many other summer evenings — the little brick patio, Shaun grilling and singing as he always does, the sunlight in the blue sky, the wind rustling the tree branches.

The other thing I wanted to make sure to do, even if we weren’t sure how the next day would go, would be to get a few final belly pictures. My gut had started talking to me loud and clear in the last few days, and as the days went on, I really started listening to it. I didn’t know for sure what would happen the next day, but I felt pretty sure the next time I was home again, I wouldn’t be pregnant anymore. Shaun and I had had our beautiful maternity session with Rachael, but those pictures had my belly covered and not super defined. I really wanted some pictures that showed of the glory and majesty of a pregnant belly — which meant hugeness and stretch marks included. I snuck off the couch for a few minutes, long enough for Shaun to snap some bare belly pictures of me with Baby Girl inside for what might be the last time. (And in retrospect, I’m so glad I have these pictures, have captured my big, beautiful belly, those last few days of Baby Girl safe and snug inside me.)

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Sweet Emi came over later that night, to have one final pep talk and strategy session. All along these last couple days, Emi had been so supportive and just an absolute rock. She kept reminding me — this is not you. This is nothing you’ve done or not done. You’ve been one of my best doula patients ever, I’ve not had to worry about what you’re eating or doing, you’ve done such a great job taking care of yourself and baby, and this is just something we can’t control. It was everything I needed to hear, over and over again, as I continued to blame myself.

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A Four Month Letter to My Daughter

[Previously in this series…]

Dear Ariadne,

When I was pregnant with you, there were a lot of things I prayed for you. There were a lot of things I prayed specifically for you as a baby.

When you’re pregnant, people love to give you advice. They love to tell you all their horror stories. It felt like I had a lot of people telling me how hard parenting was, especially with a newborn, an infant. (It’s so worth it, they’d always add, but it’s soooo haaard.) Your papa and I had a lot of friends and acquaintances telling us all their stories about how their baby didn’t sleep at all, or only slept for two hour stretches. We heard stories about babies with colic and with gas, babies with acid reflux. We heard stories about babies with allergies and mamas cutting out specific foods for months and months at a time. We heard about cranky babies who just had trouble adjusting.

When I was pregnant with you and hearing this stories, I started to pray — please let her be a good sleeper. Maybe we’ll have one of those magical babies who sleeps through the night fairly early on. I started to pray, maybe we’ll have a baby who eats great and has no issues with gas or allergies. Maybe we’ll have a baby who’s happy and content, with no health problems.

Then I thought to myself — we can’t possibly get that lucky. We can’t possibly get ALL of those things in one baby. We’ll be lucky if we have just one or two.

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Baby girl, you are all those things. Your papa and I know what incredibly blessed and lucky parents we are, what a beautiful and perfect baby you are.

It’s true. We’ve seen signs of it all along, since birth when you were so alert and strong despite being so small and skinny. We’ve seen your personality developing over the last four months, we’ve seen you hit milestones right on target, we’ve dealt with you daily in a variety of situations and we’ve seen you be as easy-going and charming as it is possible for a baby to be.

I guess I thought that was normal, up until this fourth month. I just thought you were a typical baby — you’ve still had your crying fits, your public meltdowns, sure. If you get too tired or overstimulated, you’ll cry. We’ve battled over the carseat, off and on — sometimes you love it, sometimes you scream the whole way home. So I thought you were a fairly typical baby, granted one who is generally happy-natured — but one who is fairly typical as babies go.

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Sometime this fourth month, I started to listen to stories other parents were telling. I knew we were lucky with your nightly sleep pattern, but I didn’t realize how lucky. I heard how parents with babies and children older than you were still getting up several times a night. I didn’t realize that most babies weren’t as cheerful as you were in so many situations. I didn’t realize so many parents had so many issues with when and how much to feed.

You’ve been such an easy baby. Some days are hard, yes. Most days are long and exhausting, but we could have it so much harder. Your papa and I get enough sleep — we’re not well-rested, true, but we get enough. Our mornings are early, and we are constantly doing something — laundry, putting away milk, washing bottles, nursing you, soothing you, changing you — but we have it so easy in the grand scheme of things.

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The Little Things

When I’m worried, and I can’t sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep, and I fall asleep, counting my blessings.

I’m quick to list off everything that annoys me or inconveniences me. That list is a mile long, half the time, and it’s always ready on the tip of my tongue.

But then, I had a really lovely, relaxing Sunday yesterday, full of those little pleasures that seems so small yet add so much goodness into my life. That reminded me of how very many of those little joys I have all week long, from people I look forward to seeing to activities we do together, to little sensual pleasures, self-care luxuries that are quick to get lost in the shuffle of our day-to-day demands.

Here are a few of mine, won’t you share some of yours?

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