Our friends Jenny & Sophie were over earlier today, and Jenny asked if I'd been flashing back all day. Yup...I have been since two nights ago, as my water broke (and it was a gusher) the evening of the 3rd last year. All day yesterday, I kept remembering the beautiful sunset we awoke to outside Mt. Auburn on the morning of the 4th, and all the time I spent on the yoga ball trying to roll my contractions into a more regular, frequent pattern. And then this morning, when Kai let me sleep until almost 7 AM, I remembered his little two-hour old self (I'm choking up now as I type) and just stared in wonder at the almost walker I've got on my hands now. Bob and I have been looking through the year's photos and videos this week in the evenings after Kai goes to bed, and it's startling how recent his crawling and toddling really are. Feels like I've known this little toddler who ate my baby for a long time...but he truly was so little and young for so much of the year!
Just took a break from typing so that Bob and I could go show Kai the slideshow of pics of his first year of life (working on getting up online tonight, will post link later!), and I'm all choked up again. He's inspired so many wonderful changes in my life and in Bob's. Thanks to parenthood, both of us are now pursuing vocations that actually speak to who we are, and living a life much more in tune with I guess a sense of calling than we ever were before. Kai continues to be my favorite and best meditation teacher - years of sitting 10-day courses and practicing yoga can't hold a candle to what Kai has taught me about patience and remaining in the present moment fully with equanimity!! LOL. He's shown me more of my strengths and weaknesses and asked me to face them in a way that truly motivates and alters me...Early days of difficult, painful nursing, and his own discomfort with entering the world (some would call it colic, don't know what I call it other than hard on him and hard on us!) bonded us in ways I never would have imagined and make these days of his blossoming social and relatively easy-going self that much sweeter! Cosleeping and nursing have been such sweet experiences as well, and I delight more every day in waking up to his grinning little face each morning...I'm comfortable and confident with our choice to continue these practices until Kai himself is ready to give them up and makes that known.
I thought I'd share my perspective on his birth, now that a year's perspective has intervened. I've used some of what I wrote last year, and have added to it and edited it with this different view:
My water broke in a gush the evening of Thursday, January 3, right after I did a few down dogs and child's poses in bed! Arriving at Mt. Auburn during the nighttime hours (on Thursday, January 3, 32 hours before Kai was actually born!) afforded us the wonderful experience of waking in the morning to a gorgeous sunrise outside our labor and delivery room.
My doula told me some months before Kai's birth that a woman meets herself in labor. For me, that meant meeting someone who is realllllly good at asking for and receiving support and love! Bob was steadfast throughout and such an important touchstone for me, which helped me stay much calmer and more centered in my hypnobirthing breathing than I might otherwise have been. At my doula, Gina's, recommendation, I locked eyes with him during the transition phase and pretty much entered a trance like state that had him thinking this was a peaceful phase of labor for me. Nice trick, I think, as it was definitely the most challenging hour or so of my life! I really thought the pushing would be the scary, hard part, but for me, the scary, hard part was really transition (transition is the last few centimeters of dilation, as your body gets ready to start pushing. When asked about my labor, I said then, and continue to say now, that it was a wonderful experience. It was! I was fascinated by it as the experience occurred - growing up, I always knew for some reason that I wanted to experience pregnancy and childbirth. At times I'd been unsure about experiencing parenthood, LOL, but pregnancy and birth always fascinated me!
Afterward, people kept asking about the whole 32 hours thing...it really wasn't so bad. First, because not all of that was active labor...my water broke on Thursday night but my contractions weren't really regular or intense until Friday afternoon...and then Kai was born at 5:19am on Saturday morning. My experience of labor was that it was extremely intense, the hardest and most with during transition...Bob's presence, Gina's presence, and the support of our unusual OB Beth Hardiman (she delivers virtually all over her patients, truly got to know us, and really loves and has patience with natural childbirth and laboring moms) made me feel so loved and safe, so that in the moments when I felt terrified or overwhelmed, I could say so, experience it, and let it pass. I had created a book beforehand, with quotes and passages that inspired me/made me feel connected to the strength of women and feminity, as well as words of support from strong women in my life. I asked Bob to read to me from it frequently during my labor and felt so buoyed by it. I felt completely loved through labor...
I've read that pitocin (synthetic oxytocin, used to encourage a woman's body to get into a regular and stronger contraction pattern) makes the contractions and labor much more intense - since I was still only 2cm after being at the hospital for almost 24 hours, we decided it was a good tool for me. I have no idea whether the labor was more challenging as a result, since I have no basis for comparison! Either way, I'm felt pretty proud of myself, my preparation and my stamina...Especially in the months since, as I've been able to integrate the couple of more difficult/upsetting aspects of my labor into my narrative about it - the overdose of pitocin that Bob thankfully noticed only several minutes after it began (nurse left room after accidentally making IV drip go from 14 to 76 and suddenly I had contractions that didn't stop...this apparently lasted for only a few minutes, because Bob caught it so quickly - thank goodness for a husband who had trouble watching me and not the monitor once it was on! LOL). And the other nurse who told me I had "bad veins" (I have HUGE veins that people have practiced on!) and couldn't get my IV inserted properly, such that for the only time in my life, I began uncontrollably sobbing when she stuck me (and missed my vein)...the IV tech ended up doing it, and did so quite comfortably. And the in and out of nurses, the interruptions of the hospital, and even just the experience of departing from home, a place I didn't want to leave at all...I think for a while I wouldn't let myself think about all of this because I was afraid that it would negate the beautiful labor and birth we had. But time helped put that in perspective, and I now feel these were just as much part of an otherwise wonderful experience as the otherwise wonderful parts were! It is scary to think that if Bob hadn't been paying such close attention, both Kai and I could have had serious problems, could have even died, but...that didn't happen.
It's true what they say, that you go somewhere else during labor...time distorts itself and the experience is the most physical I imagine I will ever have. Overall, I'm happy to have had what I needed to give Kai a relatively peaceful birth...he was born incredibly alert with his eyes wide open and checking out the world.
I feel like I have to acknowledge my early breastfeeding experience right now, too, because for the first ten weeks, I couldn't imagine how we would make it to a year, and I'm so proud of myself and of Kai for getting here. In those early weeks, we survived tongue tie and frenulum clipping, serious oversupply, thrush, cracked & bleeding nipples, repeated nursing strikes, several days when it seemed Kai had completely forgotten how to latch at all (not even in the painful way he had been that had at least achieved milk transfer), consultations with multiple LLL leaders and 4 LCs, and many, many hours of tears for us both. When things finally got better, and our thrush disappeared, I had a week before returning to what was then my full-time job. At that point, when I started trying to pump, I discovered that my breasts didn't react well to any size or shape of breastshield! Smaller sizes chafed and gave me plugged ducts, bigger sizes sucked in my whole areola! I learned to hand express in a major hurry, and thanked heavens for oversupply and the twelve or so jets of milk that each breast produced at a time, and suffered through several months of three 45-60 minute hand expressing sessions a day at work in order to get a reasonable enough amount of milk that would continue to maintain my supply. Though, unfortunately, Bob and Kai were suffering at home (Bob was a full-time, SAHD for a few months) because Kai absolutely, completely refused to take a bottle - he went for two or three months drinking maximum 2-3 ounces of milk/day...poor Bob spent all of his time trying to feed, soothe, or help to sleep this little child who just wanted his mama to nurse. It was soooo hard for all of us. Actually, as we both looked through photos, we were surprised by how emotionally we still responded to some of the photos Bob took of Kai during that time. I still feel real sadness that I was away from Kai for so much time from just before he was three months old until he was nearly six months old. And Bob still feels such sadness at watching the poor kid hungrily refuse to eat. But...we made our lives look very different as a result, and I'm grateful for that. And had the early challenges to nursing not existed, we might never have found our dear friends Jenny and Sophie at a breastfeeding support group, who were the only ones we knew with the exact set of issues we faced!
Anyway, my goodness, it's been quite a year. I feel like I've just written a book - thanks for reading through it to those of you who have. I'm so intrigued to watch Kai's personality unfold in these next years to come...and thank you to all of you for the support you've offered our family as we've learned to be a threesome...
In wonder and awe at the journey to and of motherhood,