Monday, October 25, 2010

When I Used a Pencil

Before I had a blog, before I knew what a blog was, I had a no. 2 pencil that must be sharpened and I had a hardback journal with pages that smelled of ink and libraries. I kept a journal all through middle school, high school and college. Every now and then I'd throw out all my old journals. I don't know why. Maybe I felt that I was only writing for myself, and so there was no need to keep chronicles of adventures I'd never have again, people I'd never see again, places and events I wanted to forget. I wish I had those journals now though.
One month after I graduated college I quit writing. Writers are "oppressed", aren't they? I was a married college graduate whose job it was to care for my husband and home. Gone was the teen angst, the girlish catty drama, college adventures and dreams of what "might be." What "might be" had become what "was" and there was nothing to write about.
When I first became pregnant I felt the desire to write again. One creative process begetting another, maybe? My first pregnancy journal was difficult to write. It began with such promise and so much excitement. I was pregnant! I was going to be a mother! My happiness quickly turned to horror as hyperemesis descended upon me. There would be days, then weeks between entries. The pages were full of morose musings and fogged with depression. The neat handwriting turned into barely-visible scrawls because I was too weak to hold the pencil properly. There were little dots of green and yellow vomit stains. With everything I lived through in that pregnancy--the hyperemesis, the "homelessness", the hurricane, the gallbladder attacks, the cesarean--I think it could rightly be subtitled "the little book of horrors".
Most of what I've written on this blog was written with some time and space (and sweet, precious children) between my writing and the actual events. I have my journals though, I thought I'd share a little from them, starting with my first pregnancy.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Is it...?

Is it a stomach illness or. . . ? Not sure. Deep breaths.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Something Right

Since Anna's birth 15 months ago, I've questioned my decision to allow Sarah to be present at the birth. She asked to. She begged to. She adored her sister from the moment she found out Anna was a girl. What a priceless bonding experience, I thought, for an older sister to attend her baby sister's birth, to "be there" for her from the moment of her birth.

Sarah is very mature for her age. At age three, strangers thought she was in kindergarten. She understands ideas and concepts with an adult-like clarity. We've never had "the birds and the bees talk" with her and yet she understands, somehow, that the making and birthing of a baby is a collaboration between God and (universal) Man. In preparation for Anna's birth, Sarah and I watched dozens of birth videos on youtube. She was fascinated, not frightened. She would tell anyone who'd listen, "my mommy is going to push my baby sister out of her buh-gina!"

So we were all set, right?

All the birth videos we watched were of women giving birth either sitting up or semi-reclined. You could clearly see the women's vaginas and the baby's heads as they were born. When Anna was born, I was on my hands and knees. Sarah could see the baby's head as it first emerged, and instead of seeing it come from my vagina, it looked as if, in Sarah's words, I was "pooping her out". Sarah didn't like that.

She wasn't as excited about Anna's birth as I'd hoped she'd be. It wasn't the huge sister bonding experience I expected. She didn't seem to be in awe of the birthing process. I was so disappointed! Had I made the right decision to allow her to attend Anna's birth? Had she been so traumatized by the birth that she wouldn't have a respect and love for birth as an adult?

Last week my disappointment turned to joy after a conversation Sarah and I had.

Sarah: Mommy, I think I want to be a doctor when I grow up.
Me: That sounds like fun. Do you think you'll be a mommy, too?
Sarah: Well...not really. I think just a doctor.
Me: Why don't you want to be a mommy?
Sarah: Because having the baby is really hard work!

When she talked about birth as "really hard work" my heart soared! She didn't view birth as painful, or gross, or scary or unimportant. It was just hard work. I asked her if learning to ride her bike, learning to read and write, and learning to crack eggs were hard work and she agreed they were. So I asked, "but now that you have those skills, aren't you glad you went through the hard work?" She said she was.

It's been one of my goals to raise my children with a respect for the normal birth process. I think I'm doing something right.