02 December, 2010

lessons from mason

before you were born, i had no idea how much being a mom would change my life. i knew i wanted you more than i wanted to breathe my own next breath, but i had no idea that you would immediately become everything to me. i mean everything. you are in every decision i make. in every move. in every thought. as i sit here and type with the knowledge that each key stroke may be the last before i have to run back in to nurse you back to sleep, i can't remember a time when my life wasn't about you. and only you.

your poor daddy. he loves me so much. and he loved the relationship he used to have with his wife. his wife, who is now a mother. he is at uncle kevin's tonight. before you were born i used to hate when he went there. i missed him and wanted him to waste time on the couch watching tv with me. but now i am happy that he has uncle kevin to go to. by the end of the day, i am so tired. i just want my arms back. i want a few minutes in which i can just sit. on the couch. and do nothing. and then go to bed.

i guess when your cousins were little i was too consumed with myself to notice how much work a baby was. although dom was an easy baby and i was around engough to see that. i didn't hang around much when christopher was a baby, but rumor has it that for the beginning months he was a lot like you.

i had no idea. i think back to the beginning with you. the first few days, you were so calm. you just nursed. and slept. and nursed. all the time.

but as the days went on, you needed to nurse. all the time. i had no idea the time that nursing you would take up in my life. cleaning? ha! filling the dogs bowls with water? ha! peeing? showering? shaving my legs? ha ha ha ha ha! i had no time to do anything except sit on the couch and nurse you.

you hated the car. you hated the swing. you hated to be put down. you only wanted to nurse.

and then we had thrush. three times back and forth. my nipples hurt. so badly that i just could not nurse you all the time. so daddy worked his happiest baby on the block magic and would get you to sleep. i would dread the moment you would stir because i knew it meant you'd be back on the boob.

i couldn't sleep. i couldn't figure out how to nurse you lying down. you woke up all night long to nurse. you still do. i haven't slept more than three hours straight in about fourteen months. and three hours is once in a rare while. and i am so happy when i get three hours.

and most nights, it doesn't bother me. most days, the messy house doesn't bother me.

today it does. i look at my what used to be white kitchen floor and i want to scream. the bathroom floor is dirty. there is dust everywhere. and the damn dog hair. there are piles of junk and papers and bills and crap everywhere. laundry. everywhere. shit that needs to get up in the attic. leaves all over the lawn. no christmas lights. a nasty kitchen counter with a nastier sink. dishes in the dishwasher that need to be put away. again. laundry that needs to be washed. again. a to do list that only gets longer. and longer. and i want to scream. and run away. and drink about five and a half beers and pass out.

but i can't. because my baby boy is in my bed. sleeping for now. teething. and coughing with another cold. and you will need me any minute. so this i guess has to be my therapy for now. and i already feel better.

i know that the alternative would be so much worse.

i remember the days when i cried and cried. for weeks. cooper was gone. i had held him and cried to him about how sorry i was that he had gotten so screwed. his entire short life, all he heard was his mommy and daddy srying. and he felt us loving him. weeks and months went by before i began to feel like a new sort of normal person.

and then there were the months of negative pregnancy tests. and periods. and fights with your dad. and tears. we wanted you so badly we could taste it.

and then we got pregnant. after shots and ultrasounds and blood tests and acupuncture and herbs. and i was so cautious. so careful about everything i heard and thought and saw and drank. about every move i made because i was terrified to lose you.

and now you are here. for almost fourteen months you have been here. and my life will never be the same. i sometimes feel as if i don't have my own life at all anymore. you are my life. my everything.

you were not an easy infant. you are not an easy toddler. you are demanding. and expressive. and needy. and i am responsive. and exhausted. and in love with you.

you are happier every day. you learn new things all the time. and my eyes never tire of staring at you. i never tire of kissing you. and of snuggling with you. i sometimes wish i had an easy baby. but then i realize that you are teaching me all of the lessons i need to know. you chose me for a reason. and i am so thankful for that.

15 November, 2010

Nursing Down

it's been a couple of months, i guess, since i've been able to consistently nurse you down to sleep and then sneak away. it's bitter-sweet, really. there are nights like tonight when i just want to keep you with me on the couch so we can snuggle up and watch tv for hours. but then there is the reality of sneaking away and actually getting an hour or two to myself. i spend those moments in a very exciting way...i take my vitamins, make some tea, sneak in some computer time and maybe catch a re-run of how i met your mother. i eat some peanuts and glance at the monitor every 60 seconds or so. i never want you to have to cry, so as soon as i see you stir...well, really stirring is ok these days...you can usually get yourself back to sleep with a minor stir. when i see you rub your nose i run to you and snuggle up next to you and nurse you back down. at that point i usually just pull up the covers and kiss your sweet head and whisper "i love you" and go to sleep. the truth is, i look forward to that moment the entire time i am away from you. it's nice to reunite after that hour or so apart. when i am away from you, something just doesn't feel right. i am not the mom who needs to be away from you. i don't need my own time. my own time is the time that i am with you. i am lucky you are here with me. i am lucky you chose me. and i will always cherish every minute i spend with you. there will be a time in the not so near future when you won't be around. you'll be at school. with your friends. out with your dad. and i will miss you. and i will miss these days when all you needed was me. nursing down is a cherished activity in our lives together. one that will be short-lived. one that i will be sad to see go someday...someday not so far away.

02 November, 2010

The Hospital Nursery

Mason, I am so thankful I knew enough not to send you to the nursery. I had a C-section. It was major abdominal surgery. It hurt. I was in pain. It was difficult to move around. I was tired. But I was a mother.

I could have sent you to the nursery. But I didn't. You stayed with me for four days in the hospital. I nursed you in my bed, even though the sign said not to sleep with you. I only left you to shower. Once. I was tired. Exhausted. But you were here on this Earth with me. Safely. You did not know anyone else. You knew me. Only me. My voice. My smell. The sound of my heart beat. You knew that with me you were safe.

I can't imagine sending you to the nursery to be cared for by someone else. Some stranger, who yes, may have loved to hold you and snuggle you. But she would be a stranger...not your mother. She might also have given you a wild bath and scared you terribly with the water. She may have given you a bottle. Or a pacifier. Or she may have ignored your cries.

I imagine the babies in the nursery feel sad and lonely. They miss their mommies. They must wonder where their mommies went and why they are all of a sudden all alone in a new and scary place. A place that is foreign to them with people who are foreign to them.

I am so happy I kept you with me. It wasn't a difficult decision. It wasn't hard. It wasn't a sacrifice. There was no way I could even consider letting you out of my sight. You are my baby and I am your mother.

06 September, 2010

magnets

we were playing together on the kitchen floor yesterday. playing with magnets. not kid magnets. just magnets that are boring and for grown-ups to hold up their boring stuff. we sat there and played with these three magnets for about fifteen minutes.

and i realized that this is what i will miss when...well, if, i have to go back to work someday. yes, i'll miss big stuff. but i'll also miss little stuff like the luxury of having the time to sit on the floor in the kitchen with you and play with magnets. and the curiosity in your eyes while you play.

you and i are like magnets. and i want it to stay that way as long as possible.

03 September, 2010

mason and sleep

baby boy you have never been a great sleeper. i suppose it has something to do with me. but it also has a lot to do with you. i never wanted to put you down. never. never. never ever never. and i don't regret that i never did. but you and your sleep have been a source of tension for me and your daddy for your entire life.
right now you are on my lap. oh my god, no you aren't. i just wrote that out of habit. you are actually in my bed. alone. i nursed you down and here i am with free time and no baby clinging to me. no baby stuck to my boob. no baby on my lap. or in my arms.
i am waiting for you to srart crying. no. screaming. you scream. you scream as if you are being set on fire (that's how jude's mom erica describes it...gotta give props). so i have been terrified your whole life to leave you. i cannot handle that scream. you need me. you need to be touching me. and i am ok with that.
it took a long time for me to get there, though. i still remember the few times i tried to put you down in your crib and leave you there. the look on your face sends chills down my spine even now. you would reach for me and scream with your red face. tears running out of the corners of your eyes. the outside corners. i sat there and patted your bum and "shhhh"ed you and told you it was ok. but it wasn't. it was wrong and terrible and i hope that you do not remember it. i only did it a few times. for maybe six minutes each time before scooping you up. and sometimes you fell asleep. you even slept for a long time once. it sucked. i hated it.
so i let it go. and i just figured that if you need to nap on me and sleep on me, then that's my job. and i will be ok and so will you. someday you will sleep alone.
and that night, i'm sure i won't get any sleep.

25 August, 2010

my cesarean

yes. i had a cesarean. not the homebirth i had planned. a cesarean. and i am still torn up about it. well, not still. at first i was ok. now i am torn up. the more time i have had to process it, the worse i get.

it was the best it could have been. or at least close to it. meredith was there. daddy was there. you nursed beautifully in the recovery room.

but i did not birth you. we did not labor together. we missed it.

is that why you are so pissed off? i mean you are a happy boy now. but you still get quite pissed pretty easily. and your transition to this earth was not easy. you were really pissed off for about three months.

everyone says that i cannot regret my decision because i had no choice. but i did have a choice. i chose to allow you to be cut out of my abdomen. i chose it over the very small possibility that if we were to labor at home at the time of your choosing, we could lose you. so no, it wasn't much of a choice, but it was a choice. one i will always have to live with.

i will never know what would have happened if i had not made that choice. i can only imagine. maybe we could have labored together. maybe you would even have turned at some point and i could have birthed you at home into my arms. or daddy's.

or maybe your cord would have prolapsed and maybe you would have died.

i chose. i chose to have a cesarean. i chose something that i never even believed would be a possibility for me. i chose because when a doctor says there is a chance, even the most valiant of mothers makes that choice.

it was a brave choice. it was an informed choice. it was a choice.

i do not regret it. i mourn it. i mourn the loss of our birth at home. i mourn the loss of being the first to hold you.

i am sorry they put that shit in your eyes when you were born even though i told them not to. i am sorry for the lights. for the cold. for the masks. i am sorry for the smells. for the strangers. for the being pulled out. i am sorry.

but i love you. and i was afraid to lose you.

16 August, 2010

three years

i realized last night that i'm not quite sure how i have anything left to give of myself. it was three years ago last month that your dad and i started trying to become parents. it took us three months to conceive your brother. i was pregnant for five months. they were an easy and exciting five months, for the most part.

but ever since coooper's birth and death, my life has been a non-stop expulsion of energy. i've been spending my energy for two and a half years.

just after cooper was born, i spent months trying to figure out what caused his prematurity. i read. i googled. i went for acupuncture. ayurveda. workshops. journaling. grief support group. i spent all of my energy trying to find out the cause. and to be ok with the result.

then there was the infertility, which overlapped with the previous spending. blood drawn. tests. meditation. yoga. ultrasounds. shots, pills, suppositories. planned sex. chinese herbal teas.

all of this time obsessing about every little thing that crossed my lips.

then, ivf. more shots and suppositories. and ultrasounds. and bloodwork. egg retrieval surgery.

and then there was you.

my pregnancy was wonderful. i loved carrying you in my belly. but i was stressed. i ate obsessively, drank water obsessively. acupuncture appointments. more disgusting herbal teas. ultrasounds. worry. little sleep. herbal supplements.vitamin supplements. what can i eat safely? what should i eat for your benefit? will i lose you, too?

then there was the low-lying placenta. avoiding certain yoga poses.

then you were breech. seven weeks of trying to help you turn. i tried everything (i listed the long list on an earlier post, so we don't need to revisit that). so let's just say that everything i did or thought was about turning you. for seven long weeks.

and then there was the cesarean. and the healing. physical, not mental, because that hasn't happened yet. that is a whole post of it's own. i will brave that one soon. i hope.

then the breastfeeding. that took a good three months to get down. oh, and you cried a lot, too. so every second was spent either bouncing or walking or nursing. and i cried a lot.

and now you are you. you are my baby. and i am your mom. your attached mom. super attached. i have you with me nearly every second of every day. and i love it. i would not have it any other way. all of my energy goes to you.

it leads me to wonder how i have anything left. (i do.)
and it makes me wonder how anyone can expect me to. (they do.)

09 August, 2010

becoming me

i've always had friends. and good ones. i love my friends. friends from childhood when i was shy and sneaky, from high school when i was a real bitch, from my early twenties when i was a drunken pot smoker, and friends from teaching, when i was close to becoming me.

they've all acepted me. and the sarcasm, the knowing-it-all, the impulsivity, the compassion, the honesty, the going-with-the-flow, the flying-off-the-handle, the silliness, the seriousness, the dichotomy, the bullshit of me.

but until now, i wasn't me. i kind of feel like there was no me. i was looking real hard for a long time. but i never really found me. i never knew who i really was. i mean, who i was at the true core of my being. but now i finally know.

until there was you, there was no me.

i am your mother.

07 August, 2010

one important thing i forgot to say

i actually was in labor on your birthday. dr. salvatore said my cervix was super thin. i was having conrtactions, which i think might have started the day before. dr. s. said that she could guarantee that if i went home i'd be back either that night or the next day. so at least i didn't really pick your birthday.

transition

so i've decided to continue updating this blog. there are things people should know. i am ALWAYS typing with you on my lap, usually sleeping and sucking. well, always sleeping. sometimes you fall off of the nipple. that's nice. also, i should be doing other things. like typing my papers for my birthworks cert. or reading my required books. or trying to sell...well, anything, so i can stay home with you. i'm trying to sell barefoot books. i'm getting back into teaching yoga. i'd also like to set up a business so i can sell babywearing stuff and other things. oh, and erica and i want to write a book. but here i am, usually wasting time on facebook. typing with one hand. my left hand, which is not the right one.

so i'll continue writing to you. and maybe people will read it. and maybe they'll share it. and maybe someday, someone will advertise here and i can stay home with you. that was aunt tammy's idea. i like it.

see, it's not that i don't like to work. well, i don't love it, but teaching is fun for me. i love those kids. and my subject is fun. but i have a new passion now. so, we'll see.

this is one boring post.

28 June, 2010

4. i really miss cooper this week. especially today.

not sure why, but i'm missing your brother a lot this week. i was lying there with you snuggled close last night thinking about cooper's birth. i couldn't believe it was real. i feel like i talk so much about him, that sometimes i forget the reality of it. the reality that he was here and that he died. you have a brother that you will never know. i imagine times will come when you will speak of him as if you knew him, but you won't. no one will. only me, really.

people are reading this story now and many are dying to know how this all worked out. but i feel like first have to honestly address the sheer anger i voiced earlier towards good people who did nothing wrong. i was so full of anger and jealousy that people who were having babies just pissed me off with their blind ignorance. i am sorry. but these were just my honest feelings. i never planned to let anyone read this but aunt cole and your dad.

so back to the story.

we were there in that OR. i was shivering and uncertain about what to do. at one point i yelled, "i cannot think with all of these people staring at me!" the room was lined with doctors, nurses, anesthesiologist, anesthesis, pediatricians, etc. upon hearing my exclamation, they all abruptly left the room. they must have been wondering what all of the thought was about. of course i would have a c-section. i was there. i was prepped. you were 39 weeks. breech. no brainer.

they just don't know, i guess, about how important that experience of labor is. so many moms don't think about labor, or pregnancy for that matter, as anything but a means to an end. many moms even choose a c-section. but there we were, faced with this choice. we went back and forth. i'm going to go. no stay. let' get out of here. wait. maybe not. then i stopped. what can i live with? can i live with choosing his birthday? yes. can i live with him dying. no. there was no way i would survive that. if you died because of a choice i made, i would not survive. period. so as much as it pained me to lose the homebirth experience, as much as i knew deep down that you would be ok, that dr. salvatore, as wonderful as she is, is still a surgeon, as much as i wanted to birth you, i could not lose you. i had already lost your brother.

so i said it. i think i should stay. and meredith, with tears in her eyes, said, finally, i think you should, too. and that was it.

the sheet went up and the docs and nurses began to wash up. daddy went to call your grandparents. meredith stayed with me but at some point was kicked out. when your dad came back i asked if he'd called uncle chris and aunt cole. he hadn't, so he texted them right there.

just as he did, i said to him, when are they gonna start? and dr. salvatore said we're halfway through, tiff. and minutes later we heard the play-by-play. your butt, your legs, your arms, your head.

you were here.

(i later discovered that the texts were received at 3:34 pm and you were born at 3:40 pm. meredith also told me that, ironically, they hd to break your water sac and it literally exploded all over the room.)

you cried. i was worried that they cut the cord too fast. i said it. dr. s. said she'd swiped it so you got all the blood. i'm not sure how effective that is, if it's the same as letting it stop pulsing on it's own, but she gets credit for the attempt.

your dad stayed with me as the strangers took you away. (i found out later through a picture that the gooked up your eyes, even though i told them not to. so pissed. still.) i yelled at daddy, "go with him!" you were all alone in the lights, the cold, with strangers doing things to you. i wanted you to at least hear daddy's voice if i couldn't hold you. it still hurts me to think about how you must have felt.

i began to feel the pain of getting sewn up. they gave me more drugs. i was freezing. covered with blankets. i got a glimpse of you when you were first born...you were still in that crazy hurdler position...you looked literally terrified. i wanted to hold you. i couldn't. daddy did. meredith did. the doctors did. but not me. meredith tried to find space through the blankets to get you nursing. but it wouldn't work. at some point i fell asleep. daddy said i was snoring.

they moved me to a bed and rolled us out together to recovery. it was then that i was able to hold you. to touch you. to breathe you.

you nursed. and i fell in love.

20 June, 2010

part 3...this could take a while

so there we were in the OR getting ready to turn you. i should've known by then that if you were going to turb, it was going to be when you were ready. i know now nearly 8.5 months later, that you are not a baby that can be manipulated.

anyway, i was cold and numb and full of hope. so were the doctors. and meredith. and your dad. they started trying to turn you. you wouldn't budge. they kept trying and you kept staying put. then your heart rate elevated. a lot. so we waited. they tried again. nothing. i mean NOTHING. not even a millimeter. then i had a contraction. we waited again. another try. more nothing. the doctor said, "guys, i don't know if this is gonna happen. you gave it your best shot, but he's not moving".

ok. i was ok with that. you still had time. hell, we were only at week 39. we had three more weeks to play with.

but then we got the bad and scary news. dr. salvatore said, "tiff, i have to tell you..." she went on to explain that she understood my need to go home and start labor naturally when you were ready. but that i needed to know that there was a slight possibility of cord prolapse. meaning that your knee was over my cervix and in between was your cord. if i began labor with my water breaking (which was a distinct possibility considering your brother's experience) the cord could slip out and you would have seconds to live.

even with that information, your dad, meredith and i still spent a good 30-45 minutes trying to decide what to do. i so badly wanted to at least begin the birth dance with you.

14 June, 2010

birth story, part 2

so there we were...me, daddy, meredith, and janelle (midwife and apprentice). waiting. they finally took us in for the version at who knows what time. i had to be prepped for a c-section, just in case something went wrong. i started to cry because it was so medical in that OR. i didn't want that for us. it was bright and cols and there were so many doctors and nurses. times three because cooper hospital is a teaching hospital. it was overwhelming and suddenly i got the feeling that everyone knew they'd be sectioning me. i said to your dad, "i never would've done this if i'd known it would be like this."

i was not planning on getting a section. i didn't pack bags, i didn't make arrangements for the dogs. daddy and i didn't go to dinner the night before. i didn't tell anyone that we might end up holding you that day. i didn't say good bye to my students. nothing. that's because the plan was...the plan we made with dr. salvatore and meredith...to try to turn you and if you didn't cooperate, we would go home and wait to go into labor. we were only at 39 weeks. i wanted to labor at home as long as possible, even if it meant someone else might end up doing the surgery. i did not want to choose your birthday.

16 May, 2010

your birth story, part 1

well, here i sit on the couch with you sleeping on my lap. it's 7:30 pm and this is your resting place until mommy is ready for bed. you are seven months, one week and four days old. and i'm just now deciding to write your birth story. let's see how much i remember...and how long it takes to type with my left hand only.

we went to the hospital at 9 am. and waited a long time for our ultrasound. it was confirmed, though. you were still breech. and it was no regular breech. i don't think there's even a name for this kind of breech. you were in a hurdler position with your arms stretched over your head. stuck, i guess.

we waited another really long time for the doctors to meet with us. the "king of versions" was going to try to turn you, so it was an extra long wait. but he thought he could turn you. we felt confident we'd be home for dinner with a vertex baby in my belly.

you haad another idea.