15 April 2016

welcome little one

I stood in the center of our little living room- more a den, really- contemplating rearrangement options. It was about midnight and right then seemed a good time for moving furniture. Thankfully, before I started taking books off shelves, it hit me: I'm in labor. I recalled our birth class instructor two years ago warning that if mom starts frantically cleaning at an odd time (midnight, perhaps?) it may just be a sign that labor is approaching. Something internally has switched and, before you're even registering contractions, your psyche knows "if we're going to get anything else done before this baby arrives, now is the time!"

Just as I did with Alice, I had been having contractions for about two weeks. My body really likes to practice. The midwives kept saying they would see me soon, warning that once the baby decided to debut, it would do so quickly. Thank goodness for the heads up...

Come 1:30AM, I started timing my contractions. They were beginning their shift from practicing to progressing, starting to get distractingly painful. Just hours earlier I'd told Jake how odd it was to be aching for the pain of labor. I was tired of the measly practice contractions and found myself looking down at my massive middle saying aloud, "come on baby! these need to hurt more to get us anywhere!" It is like begging to be hit by a truck. And this labor could be nearly compared to the speed with which a car accident takes place. Within fifteen minutes I woke up Jake. By 2:30AM, on all fours at the base of our stairs, I barely managed to text my sister "Go time." By 2:45AM I was keeping an important bit of information to myself while we waited for Alice's babysitter to arrive: I was already feeling the need to push.

Jake didn't understand why I was frustrated that he was taking the time to brush his teeth. WE NEED TO GO NOW. As soon as our babysitter arrived- on her own birthday, coincidentally!- I waddled myself out to the car and climbed in with my knees on the floor, facing the seat back. The cool of the leather felt so good on my forehead. Jake finished brushing his teeth and even ran back in the house to grab his gum- he really had no idea I was on the brink of having a baby in our driveway. Looking back, we agree that maybe that would have been useful information to have shared.

We arrived at the birth center at 3AM. Our midwife and my sister drove in right behind us. The director of the birth center met us in the parking lot and ushered us into the same room where we labored with Alice. I immediately took off my pants and climbed onto the bed, on all fours. She checked me and our midwife and my sister appeared in the doorway as I asked if I could push and got the go ahead. I wish I could have seen the look on Jake's face! I could practically hear it in his "what!?!" He'd thought we had hours to go.

First push and the baby crowned. Second push and the head was out. Third push- out came the shoulders. Forth- the torso. One more push, and our baby was born, nine minutes after we'd arrived, weighing in at 9 pounds, 4 ounces and 22 inches long.

We'd been debating between the names Clara and Margot. After barreling out of my body, in her first hour with us, our little girl pooped and peed on me,  nursed, burped and nursed some more. It seemed her name was not the lolling, lovely 'Clara." She wanted GO in her title: MarGOt.

And here we are, one week into our lives with Margot Leigh. Our beautiful child of light.

There is much more I could share- things that feel even bigger than how she arrived: Margot's first introduction to Alice is chief among them. I believe that may have been more staggering a moment for me than her birth. For now, suffice it to say that Margot's birth was a dream and Alice has made me the most proud mother in all the world. I love my girls. My girls.

25 March 2016

last day daffodils

This job has been a gift I never wanted and wouldn't have chosen.

A year and a half ago, life felt mean. The circumstances heaped on our family forced changes upon changes, a sudden career-shift among them. It was a heartbreaking, humbling, fearful time. The last time I had a "last day,"it was not a time of celebration. It came as a necessary relief- we had navigated conflict and loss and found a solution, for now- but, I was grieving all that I had spent six years building. The next 12+ months were spent redefining the identity I'd watched crumble in the midst of all those changes. Everything I knew about myself- what I thought really defined who I was- had been wiped clean.

Clean and bare: "Simplicity" is trendy right now. Capsule wardrobes and white walls, going "green." I absorb curated photos elevating the beauty of simplicity. Yet, simplifying my self was a more painful process than purging my closet. I confronted an echoing quiet as I sat in a blue-carpeted cubicle. And, as I sat, the building and healing were underway. Slowly, slowly, my clean slate was filled again, but anew.

O snail
Climb Mount Fuji,
But slowly, slowly!
(Kobayashi Issa)

It is my last day at work. My last day in this gift of a job. Here, I have been encouraged and celebrated, as I've learned and flexed new skills. I have been given space to breath and recover and regain respect for what true leaders demonstrate. Today, I celebrate. With gratitude, I leave a place that provided healing I did not anticipate: I believe in mission-driven work again. I know healthy boundaries can and do exist. I have seen leaders manage with humility and grace.

I am immensely grateful that I did not know the plan, but that all was working toward this aim.

Alice sent me flowers at work today. (Jake admits she asked to borrow his debit card a few days ago.) The card said simply: "Thank you for all your hard work! Love, Alice"

Oh, my dear sweet Alice- What you have given us will forever far exceed all I have given for you. I would give all of it and more, my love. The real work- that being done on who I am does not have a last day- and that is the true, hard work I will continue to carry, every day, for the sake of you.

Now, let's celebrate!

23 March 2016

hello little one // week 38

Hello little one,

Alice doesn't want to leave you out of anything- not even sticker play. She brings you stuffed animals and frequent kisses. We've been extensively discussing what name we'll give you when you arrive and Alice participates in those conversations too. She isn't much help though, to be honest. She likes any and every possible name we present and when asked, her consistent suggestion is "Guggy-Guggy." Don't worry. That's not on our short list.

I've been feeling twinges of anxiety over laboring you into the world. I felt quite prepared the last time around- the naive approach of someone who has taken the classes and read the books, but not actually accomplished the task at hand. I haven't taken a class this time, but I do have experience under my belt- enough to know that there is only so much within my control. I will do my best for you, baby. I am ready to work hard and breath deep- dig deep- to get you out here with us. For now, I will attempt to let go of these anxious twinges and accept-accept-accept the impending unknown. As long as I am holding you when all is said and done, all will be well.

A couple months ago, I thought these final weeks were forever-away. Now, the pregnancy seems suddenly over. You could come any day- or not for another couple weeks, of course- and I'm a bit overwhelmed by your impending presence. All that it means. All the change in store. My last day of work? This Friday. How absurd. Yet, I am so very ready to navigate this transition with you, my love. We will take our time and take deep breaths and find our way together. It is not difficult at all for me to flash quickly back to my immediate, staggering obsession with your sister. Are you ready for it, kiddo? Prepare yourself for my mug shamelessly staring at yours at all hours of day and night.

I love you.

Love, mom
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