thismummaslife

Motherhood, Art, Creative Play, and Finding Joy in Everyday Life


7 Comments

Malcolm’s Birth Story

Mumma and Malcolm
I woke up on the morning of October 7th, which happened to be my estimated due date, to wet pajama pants. “Hmmm…” I thought, “Could my water be leaking?” I shrugged it off as I got cleaned up, telling myself that no one usually has their baby on their actual “due date”. But later, as I fixed breakfast for myself and 4-year-old Simon, I felt some little rushes of fluid, and decided to call my midwife.

I left a message with the receptionist, and only a few minutes later I got a call back, saying my midwife, Jean, wanted me to come in so she could check if my water had, in fact, broken. Still thinking nothing of it, I chose the latest appointment time of the ones they offered me. I called my Dad at work, and asked him if he could watch Simon for me while I went to the appointment. He and my Mother, both very excited, skipped out of work to come over. My mother stayed at my house to play with Simon, while my Dad chauffeured me, just in case. It turned out to be a good decision to have him drive me there, because on the way I had my first contraction. It was not very strong, but was definitely stronger than the Braxton-Hicks contractions I had been having sporadically for weeks. When we arrived, I felt two more in the waiting room, just strong enough to distract me as my Dad and I conversed.

In Jean’s office, I changed out of my leggings, and she listened to Baby’s heart rate, and then had me lie back so she could check me. She did a test strip, which she explained showed signs of amniotic fluid. She also said I was 3 centimeters dilated. (I had been 2 centimeters at my last routine appointment with her.) We chatted as I got dressed again, and she told me there was a second test she would do under a microscope, but that she would like me to have a non-stress test up in Labor and Delivery, and that I should be admitted. Admitted? Wait, what? I was startled, and asked: “So this is happening?” It  didn’t seem like it could be, I wasn’t having contractions the same way that I did with Simon’s birth. I told her that if this was really it, and I was being admitted, I wanted to go home first to get my suitcase, and make sure Simon was all set. So she said she would go up to Labor and Delivery, and have them ready a room for me, and would see me back in a little while. As I left the office, I had another contraction. “Maybe this really is happening,” I thought.

I smiled as I told my Dad that the Baby was on the way, and then dialed my husband Jeramy at work to tell him to meet me at home. It still didn’t feel real.

Back at my house, I consulted my list, added the last few things to our suitcase, and packed Simon up to go stay with his Nana as I sipped coffee. Jeramy arrived, took a quick shower, then loaded up the car. I was still having contractions, and they were very manageable and far apart, but I began timing them with an app on my phone. My Mother-in-law arrived next, and Jeramy buckled Simon into her car as all three Grandparents wished us luck. When it was time to say goodbye to Simon, he got very teary-eyed, and didn’t want to let us go from his arms when we gave him hugs. It was extremely hard for me to see him upset, knowing he was experiencing excitement, nervousness, and fear of the unknown all at once, and just wanting to keep comforting and holding him. But I knew he would be well cared for, and that he would likely calm down as soon as their car backed down the driveway.

***

About half an hour later Jeramy and I arrived at the hospital. The staff had already prepared our room, which surprised me. I had expected to go through triage before being checked in, but I suppose when your water is broken, there is no question about whether or not you are checking in. The room we were given was the one we were hoping for, and we had indicated this on our birth plan. Out of the 7 Labor and Delivery rooms, it is one of only two with a queen-sized bed, and is the only one with a built-in birthing tub. (The other rooms require an inflatable one be brought in.) It was also the room that Simon was born in, and I was so excited to be having our second child in that same space.

We settled in for a moment before Jeramy went back to the car for the suitcase, and then we sat and talked for a few minutes until the nurse came in to put me on the monitor. I had requested only intermittent monitoring throughout labor, so that I would have full freedom to move around the room, and use any position to make myself more comfortable. Unfortunately, I had also tested positive for group B strep, which meant that every 4 hours I would be given a dose of antibiotics as well. In order to keep me hooked up to machines for the least amount of time, the nurse put in my hep lock, and gave me my first dose of antibiotics at the same time that I wore the belly monitor. Jean came in then, and we discussed some options. Since my water was leaking so slowly, she thought it might be a good idea to break it the rest of the way. I shared some hesitations I was feeling, telling her that I was scared it would hurt. She was very reassuring, explaining it wouldn’t, and that she thought it might be a good idea to gently help things along in this way, so that I would not have to be in labor for so long that I would run out of energy. She also reminded me that my water was already broken, she would just be helping it along, and that she would not be recommending this if it wasn’t already leaking. I agreed to do it, and was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was. It felt like a big gush of warm liquid, and there was no pain. Our nurse, Amanda, helped me get cleaned up, and brought me a pad to wear. Jean suggested that when I was ready, we go for a walk.

A short time later, we were wandering around the Labor and Deliver floor, chatting about the last time we had done this, when I had birthed Simon. I had only one contraction as we walked, and I leaned on Jeramy for support, as we stood and swayed. After a while, we returned to our room to order dinner from the cafeteria. As we sat and ate, I thought how strange it was to still be so comfortable. I texted my friend: “I am in labor, but I am eating lasagna.” This whole experience was so different from my first delivery, where contractions were 5 minutes apart almost the entire time.

Not much later, my contractions did start moving closer together and becoming stronger. Through them, I would close my eyes, take Jeramy’s hand, and focus on breathing through a relaxed mouth. From reading Ina May’s book, I knew that a relaxed and open mouth can help assist with relaxation all over, and with dilating of the cervix. So as I breathed, I told myself to keep from clenching my jaw. Amanda brought me a birth ball, and I moved from the ball, gently bouncing, to the bed on my knees, with my arms and head on a stack of pillows, and even to the toilet. Moving through all of these positions, breathing deeply, and swaying gently back and forth, helped me through the pain. I was monitored again while sitting on the ball, and received a second dose of antibiotics. During this stage of labor, we listened to Lisa Hannigan on the CD player and kept the lights dim in the room. It got dark outside, and we closed the shades.

Jeramy was a wonderful birth partner. He held me when I needed him, reassured me and rubbed my back, and reminded me to focus on just breathing and keeping my body from tensing up. A few times, I told him to just keep talking to me while I had a contraction, and he told me funny stories to make me laugh. As my contractions became more intense, I squeezed his hand harder and harder, and he never complained. I spent a lot of time visualizing my baby coming down, my cervix opening up, and thinking to myself: “My baby is coming. My contractions are my own body bringing me my baby. I am opening, and I am going to keep opening to let my baby out.” I truly believe that this positive thinking helped to speed things along.

As late evening arrived, I began to feel strongly that I wanted to be in the tub. Jean had encouraged me to think of the tub as “medicine” and to wait until I was at the point of really needing it before getting in, so that it would not relax me to the point of slowing labor way down. I was definitely reaching that point. After my third dose of antibiotics, they got the tub ready for me.

I wanted to use the bathroom before getting into the water. Jeramy walked me to the toilet, where I sat for a few minutes. I had an intense contraction then, and began sweating. I remember him suggesting “Maybe you are in transition?”. As I got ready to stand back up off the toilet, I was hit by another very intense contraction, and I grabbed onto Jeramy with all my might. When it ended, I waited a moment, then went to stand again and another strong contraction came. The contractions were so strong then, that I just wanted to be settled into the warm water of the tub, but it seemed like every time I tried to make a move in that direction, my body would be hit by another intense contraction, and I wouldn’t be able to stand up. Finally, after four or five contractions like that, I was able to stand up, put on my bathing suit top, and move toward the birthing tub.

Amanda and Jean came into the room as I climbed into the water, and asked about my pain level. I had another contraction and happily reported that it only ranked about a 7 out of 10, now that I was in the water. “I am never getting out.”, I said and smiled. The tub was so comforting, and I fully expected to spend a lot of time in there. Jean left to go attend to other women. (There were 4 of us in labor that night!) I believe she, too, thought I would be in there a while. However, after only about 3 contractions, things changed.

Suddenly, I was sweating again, and my strongest contraction yet came. I squeezed Jeramy’s arm and told him “I feel like I might be pushing, call Jean!”. As the contraction ended, he started to move toward the call button, but a second contraction hit, just as strong, and I grabbed onto him again, and would not let him go. “I just want my baby, I just want to hold my baby.” I told him as I breathed through it. “Soon.” he told me, and held me. Then, I surprised myself as I shouted out loudly: “I’m pushing!!!”, and Jean heard me from the hallway. She and Amanda came rushing back into the room.

As the contraction ended, Jean checked me, and told me the Baby’s head was already crowning. She asked if I wanted to feel it, and, remembering how amazing that had been, and how it had encouraged me to keep going to reach down and feel my baby when Simon was being born, I said yes. She helped me guide my hand, and sure enough, I felt the top of a warm little head emerging and I smiled. Jean helped me to lift my leg, and prop it into a better position. As the next intense contraction came, she told me I needed to shift my bottom down. This was the one time during all of labor that I doubted myself. I felt like I could not move. “I can’t!” I said, but both she and Jeramy said “Yes you can! You have to.”, and somehow, with their help, I scooted down in the tub to make room for the baby to come out as I pushed. On the third big contraction Jean told me to “Keep pushing, keep pushing!” and I tried with all of the strength I had. It was hard, and part of me wanted to give up, but I wanted my baby, I breathed hard and just focused on picturing the baby coming out. My eyes were closed through most of this, and Jeramy later told me that it looked like I was in a trance. I didn’t even realize there were two other nurses in the room. At one point, I bit Jeramy on the arm! At last, I felt the baby’s body emerge, experienced an overwhelming sense of relief from the stretching as he slid out, and that’s when I finally opened my eyes.

His cord was wrapped twice around his neck, which scared me at first, but Jean calmly unwrapped him, and placed him on my chest. “Oh my god! Oh my god!” I exclaimed, as I held his warm, wet little body against me, and looked at his tiny little face. He didn’t cry, he only made one little noise of complaint to clear his lungs, and then settled on my chest. He was beautiful, and I was instantly in love. A minute later, Jeramy looked between his legs, and said “He’s a boy.” The nurse asked if we had a name, and I told her: “Malcolm Everett.”

Just like his brother, he was born just after 12:30 in the morning.

***

After a few moments of snuggling my baby, Jean asked me if Jeramy could hold Malcolm while they took off my wet bathing suit top, so that the baby would not be cold up against it. I passed him to his Daddy, and looked over to see Jeramy looking at and talking to his new baby, with happy tears in his eyes. He came back and stood by me and held my hand as I delivered the placenta. Jean drained the tub, and used a gentle sprayer to wash my legs before she and Amanda helped me to slowly stand up. They moved me to a small bed on wheels that had been brought in for delivery, and they propped me up on pillows there as Jeramy passed Malcolm back to me. I held him to my chest, and he began smacking his lips. I brought him to my breast and he immediately latched on to nurse. Everything felt incredibly serene, as I sat there in the warm and dim room, nursing my baby, not being able to take my eyes off of him.

After a short while, I was ready to stand up, use the bathroom, and get dressed. Jeramy took Malcolm, as Amanda helped me with all of this. Jean hugged and kissed me goodbye, telling us she would be back to check in with us the next morning. We took a picture, and sent an announcement to our families. Amanda came back to weigh and measure the baby, and we finally dressed and bathed him. He was 6 pounds, 9 ounces and just over 20 inches long.

Alone in the room, Jeramy and I basked in the amazement of all that had happened, and stared at our beautiful new baby.

Malcolm just born
The next morning arrived, we ordered breakfast, and eagerly awaited Simon’s arrival to meet his new brother. I was chatting with the pediatrician, who had stopped by to give the baby a quick check-up, when he came into the room. “So tiny! So tiny!”, he repeated through a huge smile, as he climbed up onto the bed with us. We helped him get settled against some pillows, and passed the baby to him. For me, that moment was magic. My two children, together for the first time, and seeing how in awe Simon was of the baby, as he commented on and inspected his little ears, little hands, little nose.

First time meeting
As I looked at the three of them, together on the bed, my heart felt full. I knew that our family was now complete. We are all here, and I am overwhelmed with love.


Leave a comment

A Warm and Snuggly Feeling


Once again the weather has shifted and a chill returned to our days, the heat turned back on and sweaters worn. Simon and I had a tug of war today over the fact that I was wearing a scarf around the house. He seemed to feel it was improper for indoor wearing, and my reasoning about Mumma being cold didn’t jive with his two year-old sensibilities.

Jeramy returned to us this afternoon with big squeezy hugs. It feels good to have us all under the same roof tonight.

This reminds me that I forgot to share the good news: Jeramy works a normal schedule now, instead of third shift, so our days together feel so much smoother and more natural. On weekends, we can get up and go somewhere, or loaf around the house together in our pajamas, instead of Simon and I waiting all day for Daddy to wake up. I believe it is healthier too, for my poor husband, to be awake during daylight hours, and asleep at night. I think his circadian rhythms can settle into their proper place now, instead of fighting an uphill battle with nature. The final added bonus is that I actually sleep next to someone again, instead of waking for my day when he came to bed, like the changing of the guard. On cold winter nights I can now tuck my freezing toes under his warm legs.

Anyway, he came home today after being away since Friday…not that long really, but it felt long without him. Simon gave him a big grin and extra hugs at bedtime. We swapped stories of our weekend adventures. I took a nap this afternoon on the couch instead of in my bedroom, because I wanted to be in the same room that he was in, even if I was snoozing.

Today gave me a warm and snuggly feeling, despite the chill in the air.


2 Comments

Leaps and Bounds

Apparently, between our last visit to a playground (admittedly at least a month ago) and today, my son has secretly been brushing up on some of his physical skills in preparation.

Today was the first in several that the sun was shining and there were no ominous clouds looming overhead. Simon was also being a little chatterbox, and though I love him, his little voice, and our Mumma/Toddler conversations, I can only be asked “Mumma what you doin!?” so many times in a row before I start to go a little crazy. So I abruptly declared that we were to set of to the nearby playground, and grabbed the sunscreen.

When we got there, Simon started out timid as usual, standing by, watching other kids at play. I reassured him: “It’s ok honey, you can go play too.” and he stepped forward slowly to the closest colorful jumble of playground equipment.  I stood by as he climbed the steps, counting them out loud “one..too…fee…” and then I climbed up after him to assist him on the slide. There were two slides side-by-side, and usually he wants to sit on my lap, but today he wanted to go beside me. We went down like this three times, and on the fourth, I told him he could let go of my hand if he wanted to. He did, and I watched my baby go down a slide all by himself for the first time, and land safely at the bottom where he giggled and shouted excitedly: “Slide again!”. I stopped climbing up with him and stood off at a small distance to give him space, but also close enough to catch him quickly if needed, and ease my motherly worry.

After a short while of this, he wandered over to a slightly bigger slide, and this time I only watched, as he went up, up, up and then plopped onto his bottom to slide down by himself. I beamed with pride.

He then walked to the swing set. Now, here I ought to confess one of my lifelong phobias: I am terrified of swings and have been as long as I can remember. (There are some photos of me as a baby swinging happily in a baby swing at a playground, but I can’t remember that.) I have always avoided swinging, and in school, when my friends insisted we all go on the swings, I would reluctantly scoot onto one, and swing myself slow and gentle, but as high as I dared in order for no one to notice my terror. I would squeeze the chains with a death grip and tremble as I kicked my legs out to get a tad more height. And when the legs of the swing set would lift out of their holes in the ground because kids were swinging fast and hard, I would feel myself want to cry.

Because of my own swing issues, I have completely understood when Simon has been too nervous and wary any time Jeramy or I would suggest them. Even on our laps, he did not like it. Despite my best efforts to never let on to any of my own irrational fears in front of him (spiders, needles, bridges, etc.), I still always felt relief when he would say no to swinging.

However, today I asked him “Simon, do you want to try swinging?” and he said “Yeah!” In my head, I imagined I would sit down on one and lift him into my lap where we would gently sway back and forth, my feet safely in gentle contact with the wood chip covered ground. He wanted nothing to do with that, and wanted to sit on his own. So I helped him situate his tiny bottom onto the blue plastic seat, and explained how to hold on to the chains tightly, and I gently prodded the swing forward. He loved it. I pushed him higher in small increments, as high as I dared for such a tiny guy. He really loved it. It was actually the most peaceful part of my day, standing in the breeze, watching the swing go back and forth, neither of us saying much more than a word or two here and there. After quite a while though, he told me it was “Too windy.” and I helped him down.

Finally, he rushed over to one of the larger sets of playground equipment, intended for older kids and with much taller slides. These had ladders instead of steps, and my tiny little 21 pound guy was halfway up the ladder, without any assistance, while I stood beside him dumbfounded until I finally grabbed him and told him this was not the safest choice. In an effort not to freak him out though, I climbed up behind him, and helped him the rest of the way with his footing as the ladder became arched, and then we went down the tall slide together.

As we walked home I kept shaking my head in disbelief. This is the child who usually gets nervous at the drop of a hat, and shies away from anything too out of the ordinary for his comfort. Instead, today, I observed him make physical leaps and bounds that I had no idea he was capable of. He was fearless, strong, agile, and proud of himself.

I was so incredibly proud too.


3 Comments

Happy Father’s Day



While we were dating, Jeramy often expressed that he didn’t think he ever wanted any kids, while I knew for sure that I did. When we became engaged, we had several conversations about children, and he assured me that when he decided to pop the question, he did some soul-searching and had realized he did want kids someday, though he was nervous about fatherhood.

Two years ago, when Simon was born, Jeramy transformed right before my eyes in so many ways. I saw a side of him that was more patient than ever, more gentle than ever, and more scared than ever before. He was always a wonderful man to me, so I was amazed to watch how he could become even more so than he already was. He reminds me to keep whimsy in our daily lives, and to stop sweating the small stuff. He makes simple things like flashlights and cars into a grand adventure. He keeps me laughing, and calms me down when necessary. He is also always willing to take over for diaper changes, face wiping, or time alone with our son so that Mumma can get out for a bit.

I could gush about this partner of mine all day. On this Father’s Day, I wanted to try to put into words just how proud I am, and how incredibly appreciative.

If you are a Dad, or have a Dad in your life who you are celebrating today, I wish you a wonderful Father’s Day. Here’s to the Dads!


7 Comments

Five Years


Five years ago today I married my best friend and love of my life.

In the spring of my sophomore year of high school, and his freshman year, Jeramy asked me to be his girlfriend. From that day we have shared all of the biggest moments of our lives together.

“Oh the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are — chaff and grain together — certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.”
― Dinah Maria Mulock Craik, A Life for a Life

Tonight we are going out for the evening in Portland, Maine to celebrate, and toast to the years to come.


4 Comments

Simple Dreams






Six years ago I graduated from college with a Bachelor’s degree in Art. I then decided I wanted to work in higher education and applied for a Master’s in Leadership program and was accepted. I started living in an apartment on my college campus and working as a Graduate Assistant, facilitating programming for college students. I liked this job a lot, I loved the town I lived in, and it seemed that my career path was laid out before me.

At this time I was also engaged to Jeramy, who was living 45 minutes away from me in the town we live in now, and we were excitedly planning our future together. At this point, I was sure our future would look something like this: me studying for my Master’s, both of us with careers working 40 hours a week, buying a house, waiting a while to have our two children, sending the children off to a daycare and then to school, travelling the world…

If you would have told me then that 6 years later I would be a Stay-at-home Mom who had practiced co-sleeping and attachment parenting, who would be planning to homeschool, who wanted to buy an old farmhouse and raise chickens…well, I might have laughed at you. Actually, I am sure I would have.

I still would like to go back to school someday. I still want to travel the world. I still want one more child (Jeramy is not so sure). However, my goals and my way of thinking have changed. A lot of this happened when I became a Mom. I didn’t change who I was and invest my entire identity in being a Mom, but motherhood did drastically shift my priorities and mindset. I don’t think you can come into parenthood without that happening to some degree. Simon makes me less self-centered, less worried about some of the insignificant things that I dwelled on before. I appreciate the little details of my days, things I never noticed before. I enjoy a slower pace of life, one that longs to be more connected to nature .

The home buying process that we are going through right now has made me think a lot about the type of person I am right now, and what we want to do in this next phase of our life together. I see myself waking and kneading the bread dough after breakfast. I see Simon and I, out in the yard, pulling weeds together. I see us practicing his letters and counting by the fire. I see us hosting our friends around the table for good conversation and food, including vegetables from our own garden, and then taking the rinds/peels/shells out to the compost bin. I see Jeramy tinkering at his workbench, or setting up our rain barrel in the backyard. I see Simon chasing down grasshoppers and ants. I see myself at my drafting table, working on a watercolor still life of the tulips I cut from the garden moments before. I see Jeramy sitting in the library armchair, reading the latest Terry Pratchett novel and chuckling to himself.

I could go on and on about these dreams of mine. They may be humble and non-glamorous, they may not fall in step with most of the people our age. We have always done things a little differently though, from our wedding to our parenting style. I like it that way, and I feel so blessed to have found a partner in this life who shares my quirky yet simple goals and dreams.

In two days we will celebrate our fifth year of marriage. In nine days we will have been together as a couple for fourteen. We have changed and grown a lot together in that time, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.


9 Comments

How Fast Time Flies

2011:

2012:

The top photograph is from last summer, and the bottom is from this Memorial Day at my parent’s house. Seeing them together like this makes me realize just how much my child has changed. Those chubby little baby legs up there, only walking for a couple of months, still so unsteady and wobbly. Now his legs are longer and leaner, his movements more purposeful. He is in command of the lawnmower and happily using his imagination. He was so uncertain last year, now he is a bit more headstrong. He still has dimpled elbows and round cheeks. He still takes his play very seriously.

It gives me one of those bittersweet emotional twinges. It is a mixture of pride over how much he has grown, and sadness for how fast time flies. I see this photo comparison and I both smile and feel a mist in my eyes. This is a love unlike any other I have ever felt, and if you also have a child in your life, who you love dearly, I am sure you have felt the same way.