Monday, October 1, 2007


The deeper into motherhood I journey the harder it is for me to recall the birth. The exact sensation is hard to describe. It’s fading from memory; not the principle star in the tale. The ten and a half months preceding the event are clearer, and even that is starting to fade the more I hold her in my arms…

Overall it was a beautiful pregnancy. There was a minor scare in the beginning where we thought we lost you. We had just celebrated our first anniversary with a dinner at a fancy restaurant. I declined champagne. I smiled inwardly when the waiter, a friend, looked at me dumbfounded when I said no thanks to wine. I was about 6 or 7 weeks along. On the drive home I felt a gush. In the bathroom bright red blood ran down my legs, soaked my underwear and pants, something plopped into the toilet. I stood up and something plopped onto the tiles. I sobbed for Adam. He held me on the bathroom floor and cried with me. I went to the nurse the next day, asked for a checkup. She said it was unnecessary since I had obviously miscarried, but they’d run a blood test just to be sure.

A week later she called me.
My hormone levels were off. Could I come in again for another blood test? Two weeks later she called me again. Subsequent testing indicated a pregnant woman, not one who had miscarried.

They sent me for an ultra sound. The room was still and dark. The technician whispered, “There is a heartbeat.” She put your heartbeat on speaker. I sobbed and thanked G-d and cried in disbelief. I named you then. She turned the monitor towards me and I saw you for the first time. I carried the images from that ultrasound like the paper was dipped in gold. Adam was at his desk. I showed him the picture.
“What’s this?” “Your baby.”

I bought my chamsa necklace that week. I’ve worn it nearly everyday since then.

We read up on what happened, a subchorionic hematoma. I read books on birth. I bought What to Expect. I met with a midwife. I met with a doctor. We decided on a homebirth. We met Chanah, another midwife, whom we chose as our health care provider. We considered water. Experienced mothers looked surprised when we said we were opting for a homebirth for the first. I knew enough moms and had read enough dissatisfied birth stories to know it was the right choice for us. I had faith in the process, and in you, our miracle.

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth made me buzz with anticipation for giving birth. Lisa Gartin’s Lamaze classes made me proud and excited that I have the capacity to experience such an event fully, coherently. Chanah listened to my fears calmly and with great patience. I looked forward to tapping into a strength I didn’t believe I had the strength to tap into.

When I reached 36 weeks it became a countdown. Any day now, I said, everyday. The day I reached the estimated due date I knew it was going to be a while longer. I was anxious. The day I passed the date I thought I’d give birth I became more anxious. Waiting is work. Patience is hard. I was walking every day, one foot on the curb, one foot off. I ate pineapple, spicy food, and chocolate; drank a beer. Caught up on sex.
Sunday night, eleven days after my due date, I had my first contractions. I thought “Holy shit. This is for real.” I had one an hour for four hours. I slept through them. They petered out.

I woke up Monday morning to a pink tissue after the toilet and clearly not in labor. I went to class. Monday night was more of the same. Chanah checked me on Tuesday, I wasn’t dilated at all.

Wednesday morning I got to campus. I got out of the car and thought “Oh geez, I peed my pants.” At the end of lab, I stood at the sink washing my hands and peed on myself again. A lot. Soaked through my pants, which would have been noticeable if I hadn’t been wearing black. I calmly drove home. Chanah had left Nitrazine paper for a situation such as this. I turned three strips a deep, bright, navy blue, indicating amniotic fluid. I had no contractions. I called Chanah and was advised to go about my day, keep her updated, take a shot of castor oil if nothing started to move by noon.
At noon I drank the oil.
At four I went on a walk with the dog. I felt the same things I had felt Sunday and Monday night, but by then I was convinced it wasn’t true contractions or labor. Chanah came over. We chatted. She charted. I told her I was having contractions lasting about 15 seconds every 5-10 minutes. She left to take care of her family around 5:30.

“Remember,” she said, “don’t call when I need to be here. You must keep me posted and call me before I need to be here!!”

By 6:00 I knew I was in labor. The contractions floored me. I was unable to speak. It was hard to breath. I asked Adam to time them, convinced they were still only 20 seconds long. They lasted a minute and a half. By 7 they were on top of one another. I was scared. I couldn’t find a rhythm. I was on my hands and knees, rocking. “This is too fast,” I thought. “It’s not supposed to be this fast.” I couldn’t get centered. I locked myself in the bathroom, vomiting, rocking, howling, emptying.
After each contraction, I thought: “well I’ll never have that contraction again.”
“I can’t run from this pain. I have to go into it”
“This isn’t harming me.”
“I’m scared. I need my mom.”
“I am opening.”
“This is bringing me to you.”

I wailed for Adam to call the midwife.

When she arrived I was on the bed, on all fours, rocking, moaning, mooing, breathing and she wasn’t helping me! She was moving around the house very efficiently, speaking to Adam, focused on her task. But she wasn’t helping me! Only later did I realize we waited too long to call her.

She checked me. I was 6 centimeters. She told me I couldn’t use the pool yet because I would want to push. All I heard was “no pool.” There’s no way I can get through this without the pool.

Fifteen minutes later she told me I could get into the pool. She said I could push if I felt like it. The first contraction in the pool was a pushing contraction. It was a relief, not from the pain, but from the speed of labor. The pool slowed my contractions down. I was lucid between pushes. Laughing, talking, My Mom had arrived. Pushing was deep. There was no way I could handle someone telling me how and when to push. The desire to push takes over. There is no other sensation than the need to push. What started as a relief progressed into something slightly scary. I started to fear pushing but I knew it was bringing you closer. I knew there was no better was to meet you.

I did not recognize myself in the sounds I made. My throat was raw the next day. The water was too hot and I felt dizzy. With great joy and glee Chanah exclaimed “Look! There’s the head!” I kept pushing. The effort, the size, surprised me. I said “Oh baby!” When your head emerged, it was the single most intense sensation I’ve ever experienced. The rest of you came, in the words of your father, like a torpedo.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The wisest, most beautiful thing anyone has recently said to me

I wrote to Rachel P.S., dearest friend in the universe, mother of two, and had what I called a "pity party" over an email regarding my emotionally delicate state. Her response was so perfect, so wonderful, so full of wisdom and love that I just have to share it.

But first, Thank you Rachel. I appreciate this more than you know.

"There is no such thing as a pity party in a slightly distressed 41-42 week pregnant woman. The baby is not coming because the baby knows it's birthday and will not budge nor tempt fate with any attempts to join us (excited though we all are) any sooner. Baby is wise. Baby will not loose it's head when all others are losing theirs. Do not feel any guilt over this delay. Firstly, it isn't a delay because the birth day is already decided and everyone else is wrong for thinking such things could be assessed by counting days, minutes, time and space. You'll feel guilty any way because you are a mother now and that is the reality for the rest of our lives. But the good news is you are a great mother and doing the very best by your baby by providing a safe and warm womb to sit and mature until ready to emerge. You are doing the best by your baby by not being pushy mum and injecting his little world with false hormones to force him to act. You are being a good mother by not internalising your hurt and putting on a brave face. Crying gets the sadness out of your and baby's body.

You will not be pregnant much longer so enjoy it. The oneness you have right now entirely magical and you're on the precipace of the greatest change in your life. Embrace the awe and wonder of what you have achieved already and wholly amazing things you will achieve in the coming days, months and years. Everyone else can twitch with anxiety and anticipation but you and your baby know better than them that you will go from one to two when you are both ready.

I love you.
Speak soon."

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Patience is hard

That is all. Carry on.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

Estimated due date as calculated by my midwife - September 6, 2007
Estimated due date as calculated by me - September 8, 2007
Estimated due date based on The Ultra Sound - September 11, 2007

And briefly, EDDs are based on statistical averages. The average pregnancy reaches completion about 38 weeks from conception, aka 40 weeks gestational age. The EDD being an average means some women are full term at approximately 37 weeks, and some women are term by 43 weeks. Ah, the beauty of statistical averages. We all know what Twain said about statistics. (And yes, I know it might be an urban myth that Clemens said it at all, but work with me people)

When do I think I'm having this baby? I always figured it would be a New Years baby (the Jewish New Year, that is) so I'm not worried about it. Rosh HaShanah, by the way, begins tonight at sundown and the holiday itself runs through Friday.

Adam's parents arrived on the 10th, as they expected little fish to arrive on the 6th, and now they're hanging out with us till birthday. Could be here a while! Last night we went out to a teppen-yaki type Japanese place where I was unable to finish my dinner due to a late lunch and A GIGANTIC BABY SITTING IN MY THROAT. ahem. Oh, and I'm the only one eating vegetarian so I'm the only one at the table of 8 eating, 2 couples being strangers.

Chef asked if I there was a problem with the food. I said, "No," laughing "I'm just pregnant and have no room." This leads to the inevitable question "What are you having?"
"A baby," I say.

"No, I meant the sex."

"We're waiting to be surprised."

"You mean after all those ultrasounds you still don't know what the sex is?"

A slight shifting as I start to get uncomfortable (we haven't had a bunch of U/S)... "Nope, still waiting to be surprised."

"Ookkay, how for along are you?"

"41 weeks" * (I'm 40.5ish)

"41 weeks!!!! Why don't you demand to be induced!??!?!?"

"We trust our baby to know when it's time," Adam said slowly.

I wanted to say: "There is growing evidence that elective induction of labor is not risk-free. One problem with induced labor is that due dates are not exact. If there is a 2-week error in calculating a due date, a woman scheduled to be induced at 38 weeks might be only 36 weeks pregnant.Researchers at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, also looked at pregnancy outcomes by week of gestation. After examining more than 56,000 pregnancy outcomes at 40, 41, and 42 weeks, Dr. James Alexander and his fellow researchers concluded that “Routine labor induction at 41 weeks likely increases labor complications and operative delivery without significantly improving neonatal outcomes." Many researchers believe that when a baby is ready for life outside his mother’s uterus, his body releases a tiny amount of a hormone that signals the maternal hormones to initiate labor. In most cases, only when both the mother’s body and the baby are ready do the powerful maternal hormones of labor begin the process of birth."

But I just nod in agreement with Adam.

He looks incredulous and says, "Well, what hospital are you having your baby at?"

(Mind you this entire conversation is happening over the table, with pretty much everyone in earshot listening to us)

I wiggle some more in my seat and say, "We're not having the baby at a hospital. We're having it at home."

Chirp. Chirp.


" uh.... good luck. You're gonna need it!"

Now, despite blog posts to what amounts to (mostly) a bunch of strangers, Adam and I really don't go around shoving our particular birth/parenting ideas in people's faces. We've done the research and arrived at what we think is the best place for us and our baby. Sometimes, however, the misinformation, ignorance, and blind fear that accompanies most people's expectations of birth and pregnancy can be overwhelming.

"Good luck - you're going to need it." I don't doubt birth is going to be a sensational process which, despite my efforts to prepare my conscious, modern brain, will likely take my breath away with it's intensity and power. That said, women's bodies were made to do this. We have been properly designed to grow, nourish, and birth our babies. Yes, there are days I wonder if I can do this, what I've gotten myself into; and more often, days where I feel grateful that I'm going to experience this. The choices we've made aren't for everyone. We plan, Gd laughs, right? So who's to say how it will all turn out - but I HATE when people tell me I can't do something when I've never even attempted it.

For those who are interested, information regarding normal birth and practices that promote birth as such can be found at

The statistics quoted above are from:

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Mommy Matters rocks my socks!

I just need to spread some good loving to all the ladies at Mommy Matters in Fresno, California.
This store is super special.

Now, I come from the Bay Area and moved to central Cali after living and working in the freewheeling, crunchy, Earthy, beachy goodness of Santa Cruz for many years, and I gotta tell you, I don't even think a space like this exists in Santa Cruz.

Owners Gena and Sabrina are dedicated to women and babies. The products they sell are beautiful and practical, sometimes trendy, always devoid of cartoon characters. The classes they offer are amazing, chock full of information you probably wont find at your local hospital. Especially wonderful and highly recommended is the Lamaze class, taught by Lisa Garten. Seriously. This woman knows her stuff and her class made me so excited that I am a woman with the power and ability to give and experience birth.

Thank you Ladies!
And a special thanks to our wonderful midwife for directing me to these women! :)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Say What?

The best recent conversational morsels:

My midwife and I were discussing the items and supplies I need to have in the house for the birth. When the issue of food came up, she said, "Make sure you have ice cream around. It's the perfect food."
To which I replied, "Well I've always known that, but thanks for making it official."

This of course led to me relaying this beautiful tidbit of information to anyone who would listen. So in analytical chem lab, while waiting to use the atomic absorption machine, I was telling a friend about the wonders of ice cream. Her response?
"You're having a home birth? That is so medieval."

A good friend whom I haven't seen in a while met with me last weekend for a bike ride. I've pretty much put the road bike away and ride exclusively on the mountain bike or the cruiser (more upright). This, combined with the ever expanding body parts beginning with "b" necessitate the wearing of running shorts and tee shirts in lieu of tighter, flashier, spandex options. In short, I look like, gasp, a recreational cyclist.
Amy looks at me and says, "Awww. You have a booby-do."
"A what??"
"When your belly sticks out more than your booby-do."

But the best was later that day when I was changing out of aforementioned recreational cycling gear in preparation for the shower, and Adam says "You finally look pregnant and not just fat."

Sunday, May 20, 2007

I did it! I completed my one and only race for the season... normally by this time in the year I'm 3-5 events deep into my season (a mix of tris, road races, duathlons, cycling events, etc). Then again, I'm normally not pregnant, either :) I hemmed and hawed about participating today. I slept poorly, woke up at 5 thinking "This is stupid. I'm nuts. What am I DOING?" I mean, I've been working out consistently the whole time, but not super hard core.

It was so worth it to be out there today.

The swim wasn't bad, I felt strong once I warmed up. My good friend Amy and I were on the same pace and swam parallel to each other the whole time. Walked the 1/4 mile rocky hill to transition, got my gear off/on and was out on the bike. Felt normal t1 weirdness for the first 3ish miles, then got into my groove and just went with it. It was hard to turn off the competitive instinct. I kept getting passed. I just had to breath, take it in, let it go, and keep moving forward. Got into transition, changed shoes, and shuffled out. t2 run always feels super strange for the first mile for me. I ended up tripping and rolling my ankle (swollen and hurts now, but didn't feel it at the time) and felt out of sorts for several yards after the spill. By the turn around I felt really in synch with myself and my pace...

I wore a "Baby on Board" sign pinned to my back for the bike and the run. The response on the bike was more from men, then out on the run tons of women would run past and yell "way to go!" "are you really pregnant??" and the like. I was slower than a tortoise but I shuffled along the whole run - only walking through the aid stations. (The distances were a 3/4 mile swim, 16 mile hilly cycling course, 5 mile run). The run got uncomfortable - baby was right on the bladder and I started to feel rather strange around mile 3.5. I kept Guing and drinking and just kept moving forward. By the time I got to the finish chute, people were yelling "go pregnant lady! bring it in!" I crossed the line and was so overcome with emotion I started crying.

I can't even describe what if felt like... but I think that was the best race I've ever done. :)