Monday, October 24, 2011

What I Love

I'd like to share with you some of the things I love about you, Zora.

I love how you seem to dance with shimmering leaves. Papa and I are both delighted that you seem to find the outdoors magical! I have sat under a tree with you looking up and you are mesmerized by leaves moving in the wind. You are able to sit and just be completely blissful, transfixed, delighted, by leaves. Your eyes sparkle. You wiggle with glee.....over leaves! Papa loves to just go outside with you, just walk out the door, even if we only have a few minutes, and take you on a tour of the nearby bushes, leaves, grass. He likes to lay in the grass with you. You like it too! You are learning to grab the grass, pull it, and put Yum! This beautiful world is just delicious to you! I love this about you. It gives me "beginners eyes" once again for the beauty of the earth.

I love how you like to hang upside down. Now, this one is complicated---I'll have to write more about this later, because this whole upside-down thing has some threads back to our difficult birth. But still, you seem to default at times to throwing your head backward and just hanging with that big 99th percentile head of yours over a pillow, lap, whatever. You look like you are having fun! Whenever you finish eating at what I call the "Boppy Lounge", you always seem to slide your way to the edge of the boppy (breastfeeding) pillow and let your head dangle over the edge. Maybe it helps with digestion? Not sure, but you like upside down and it's just very sweet to be seeing you begin to have some preferences. Maybe you'll be a trapeze artist, Zora.

I love how you need to be part of any conversation, even if it means turning away from a good meal of breastmilk. I know that this is common developmentally for your age---for a baby to begin to have more and more interest in the world. But we are definitely seeing a very very curious girl emerging! Lately I cannot get you to eat (and at times when you ought to be HUNGRY!) if there is something a bit more interesting happening. If Papa walks in to the room and wants to chat with me, forget it, mealtime for Zora is over! You want to see him, hear him, converse with him. It is pretty adorable how you get riveted by a voice, a sound, light, wind. You need to look! You need to see what's going on! Papa and I are both reminded of how Papa decided to re-frame your (challenging!) birth position in a positive light-------that trying to come out face-first just meant you wanted to see what was going on! 

I love how you are so easily pleased by playful singing. If we had to ask you right now how to describe life, and if you could talk, I am confident that you would say, "Well, of course everyone knows that life is a song!" That's because we pretty much sing all the time. We sing about breastmilk, about diapers, about waking up, about going to sleep, about playing, about trees, about the sky, about everything. And why do we do this? Well, probably mostly because I myself like to sing, and I'm the mother you got, and secondly, because it always always makes you smile. Singing can deter you from any funk that you might be heading into. Some current favorites are Zip-a-dee-do-da, This Little Light of Mine, May the Longtime Sun, When the Day is Over, and any other thing I happen to make up to try to stave off an urge to fuss or cry. 

I love how you want to engage with the world. Not sure if we can determine a tendency toward introvert or extrovert at this early stage in your life, but I would say that you really like to focus outward and see what is going on around you. I see this when we go to our Music Together class once a week. The teacher said that often at your age, Zora, the mama and baby face each other and enjoy the singing together. Well, in fact, you really seem to prefer to sit in my lap and face outward so that you can see all the other bigger kids dancing around. And you delight in them! I'm thinking that you'll be pretty psyched once you are up and moving so you can be part of the fun.

I love how much you smile and laugh. That's it. I love it. Your laugh is simply wonderful. Your smile is pure joy. 

I love how you study details. It is so fun to hand you an object and watch you study it with your eyes and with your hands. You seem to be so attentive, so curious, so fascinated with a new object. Lots of times the object goes straight to mouth, but you are also very interested in looking at things and you seem to really notice details. 

I love how much you like to use your hands and fingers. I love to watch your little fingers grab, grasp, explore. I'm surprised with how much dexterity you have with those little hands of yours! You are getting so good at turning the pages of your books, at picking up blocks, as grabbing for small edges and frills or strings on stuffed animals and other plushy objects.

Reading a book with Baba.

Table time with blocks.

I love how you are learning to ease yourself to sleep with softness. Over the past few weeks, you have shown us that you can start to get yourself to sleep with less help from Mama or Papa if we'll just make sure you have a very very soft blanket that you can massage with you hands and smush into your face and eyes. 

I love how much you put effort into your movements. You've been rolling from your back to your  belly for quite a while now, almost 2 months. Watching your efforts is so fun for me and your Papa. There is often a lot of grunting involved! And you are just starting to get your legs up under your knees (precursor to crawling!), making me apprehensive about how soon our house is going to need to be MUCH more baby-safe (for a baby on the move!) than it is right now. You show great effort! I think of Yoda---"Try?! There is no 'try'. Do or do not!" You have a determination about you that I look forward to seeing evolve in you in the years to come. 

I love your recent squeals of joy. Wow! You know how to raise the roof! Not sure what is bigger, your smile as you squeal or the sound you are learning to make with those healthy lungs!

I love your intense ability to draw me and your Papa to you-----these sophisticated attachment behaviors that have us constantly turning ourselves toward you. I swear you can get our attention by simply staring at us, even if one of us has our back turned toward you. I think you learned this from Teacup. She could get our attention just by staring really hard, not making a sound. She pulled us in and made us delighted and happy at how much she just wanted us, wanted our attention, wanted to commune with us. And you too. You have us, Zora. We are yours! You have changed our lives forever. Now, more than ever before, there is nothing more important than attending to relationship. Email can wait. Blogging can wait. Cooking dinner can wait. Eating dinner can wait. Cleaning can definitely wait. Zora cannot wait. For now, you are the center of our universe. You are very very good at placing yourself at that center---with a smile, a hoot, a squeal, or just those sweet longing eyes. 

I love how you are teaching your Papa and I to truly practice relationship endeavors that we have ascribed to for years and years. Here's an example. Papa and I have talked about the importance of hellos and goodbyes for our own attachment to one another----the importance of acknowledging and greeting one another---basically just connecting rather than mindlessly going through our days. And we've done a decent job, but we falter. There have been times when one of us might come home and hardly even say hello to the other before jumping right in to busy-ness, be it email, studying, phone calls, cleaning, exercising, all of the things....that....keep us from being connected. Ugh. Now, Zora, with you here, we are rising to meet you. We are seeing that so many of the ways that we want to connect as best friends, your Papa and I, are ways that we want you to experience the world. Clinical research tells us that while the parent-infant relationship is one of the most important "blueprints" for how a child will act in relationship for the rest of their life, the other most important blueprint is the relationship that the child witnesses in their family------whatever version of "mama and papa" that you happen to be born into. And so your Mama and Papa are looking at all of these ideals we have about how we want to treat one another and we are saying, "Wow, it's time to walk our talk!" And so there is perhaps just a bit more intentional loving going on between your Papa and I now that we know that we are the "container" that will be your blueprint for what love looks like. Wow, Zora, what a gift you are to us! More affection, more intention, more love. We are setting aside time for meals with more intention---putting away the laptops, lighting a candle, singing a "grace", enjoying each other's company! We are balancing our conversations more intentionally so that you will see that "girls talk too" (hmmmm.....need I share here that Papa usually talks a lot more than Mama if we're not careful about it!?). We are pausing and making time for hello and goodbye. We are just a little bit more present, Zora. For you. For ourselves. I thank you deeply for that.

I love that you sleep through the night. I try not to bring this up around other new moms because it's such a rare gift to get from a little one like you---I know so many new parents who are really struggling with lack of sleep! Wow, and even with you being a fabulous sleeper, we are still tired a lot! So, Zora, I will thank you again and again for your ability to sleep. And I send a wish out that this will be a lifelong pattern for you. 

I could go on and on. Te amo. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Firsts and Lasts; Births and Passings

Hello, Sweet Zora.

Time is truly flying. You will be four months old this week. A third of a year!

Te quiero. I love you! I love you, I love you, I love you. You are a delight of a little human. You have truly settled into what seems to be a Happy Baby. You could star in the film Happiest Baby on the Block. Some magical combination of your bright spirit, mine and Papa's good luck, and maybe a touch of kind and attentive parenting have resulted in weeks and weeks of sweetness these past couple months. Te quiero. You are a connected and sociable baby, impressing so many who have the pleasure of being graced by your wide and winning grin. Your smiling and laughing is abundant. And yes, you do cry, but never without good cause, and never without a fairly quick turn-around. May these first four months be a harbinger of a life of abundant laughter.

And still, I contemplate your fitful start--our laborious labor together 4 months ago. All through pregnancy I had built my committment to a labor as free from medical intervention as possible. I built this committment brick by brick, through reading, talking with other mamas, practicing yoga with doulas and midwives and mamas. I built this committment with intention through my knowledge of the risks that come with medical intervention, the fact that it has been shown that there is neurological benefit for an infant to experience the pressure of the birth canal, that there is neurological benefit to completing the biological impulse to push oneself out of the womb. I was scared of cesarean birth, not only because of the toll it would take on my body, but because of the loss it might mean for you of helping you to come into the world organized and regulated on a deep level.

And then we had labor. And it was long and hard. And you didn't get pushed out, Zora. You got lifted out. As I've said before, lifted out with love.

And so I have contemplated your fitful start. And wondered. And yes, I have worried. Would you, in some way, not be able to settle into life? Would there be some missing piece for you because of this difficult passage? So I went back to the concept of "effective worry" taken from Birthing From Within. And so, turning my worry into "effective worry",  we went to see a therapist whose specialty is perinatal work, somatic work, work around difficult births. And she was...............she was such a gift to me! And so, through that, a gift, I believe, to you, Zora. Suzanne is her name. She is trained in the same framework I am trained in--Somatic Experiencing. In our final session with her----you and I went to see her together----you laid on a soft table between me and her. We talked about the birth. We slowed the birth down to a pace that our bodies could digest. We slowed it down. We titrated the bits and pieces that had felt like too much, too soon, too fast. You chattered. You were there with us, talking it through, letting us know the parts that were frightening. I should know by now, with the many many times that I have seen this titration of stress and trauma unwind itself from people's bodies, that the Somatic Experiencing work is powerful. But here we were, you and I letting go of unfinished impulse---the impulse to give birth that got short-circuited by an emergency surgery. And when we reached the end of our recounting of the tale, you were asleep, perhaps the sweetest sleep I'd ever seen you have---and that is something, because your sleep is pretty much always sweet! And I write this all down before it slips away. I want you to know that the lifting of shadow was profound, that something moved in me and moved in you and I left Suzanne knowing that you are just fine, just fine, just fine. Happy Baby. Ready for this world. Pretty darn close to perfection in this mother's eyes! Te quiero.

And the fun of these past couple months has been the almost-daily "firsts". Your first time making certain noises, first time reaching out to grab a toy, first time laughing out loud, first time riding on an airplane, first time seeing chickens and cows on a farm, first first first! What fun! I just love watching you take in the world. It feels as if we are watching your brain grow right before us. When you first began to copy our motions to "Eensy Weensy Spider", you'd have thought that your Papa and I had seen God!! In our biased opinion, you are truly truly brilliant.

It has been a magical summer.

And it has been a summer of sadness too. Of not only firsts, but also lasts.

Zora, you will not have a clear verbal memory of our Teacup. But surely you will have an implicit memory of her sweet, smelly warmth.

Teacup, one of our two beloved four-leggeds who comprised our first family, passed away on Friday. Teacup was dear to us, Zora, as dear as a doggie companion can possibly be. She, like you, was a delightful being. We love her, we love her. Our hearts feel broken in letting her go. And as we saw her passing looming this past week, we counted many of her lasts. When I pulled her brush off  the shelf this week, I ached knowing it was probably the last time I would brush her. And her eating had become very sporadic this summer, so every time she managed to get a snack down this week, I wondered if that would be the last time we would commune with our Teacup. And on Friday,Teacup's last day on this earth,  you and Papa and I carried Teacup to the nearby pond for her last chance to put her nose into the wind and use that sniffer to soak in life the way a dog does. A week of "lasts" right beside some of your "firsts". This in itself feels so tender, so bittersweet, so non-sensical.

It feels like the beginning, or the end, no---the beginning, ------of an era. For most of the time that I've known your Papa, we have been the caretakers of dogs, Glory and Teacup. And now they have left us. And now you are here, my dear little Peach.Te quiero, te quiero, te quiero.Zora, I love you.

And I miss Teacup sorely. And there have been buckets of tears. Buckets and buckets.

Zora, will it seem strange to you when you are old enough to read (this blog???), to converse in more adult terms, to contemplate concepts and ideas and emotions, that your Papa and I will be forever grateful to two long-gone hounds for the lessons they gave us to prepare us for you? I hope you will understand. I hope that we can introduce you to your older sisters Glory and Teacup in a way that makes sense.

Today, in the raw days fresh with Teacup's passing, I don't want to have another dog. The joy of loving a dog is so tremendous----the sadness in experiencing their shorter lifespans feels manyfold! Zora, for now, my focus, my delight, is you, -----------you, who--------unlike the Teacups and Glorys of our lives---- will outlive me if all goes according to plan! I'm counting on it, Zora! Continue to smile and laugh and grow. I'll keep my loving eyes on you and continue delighting in your firsts, and all that follows.

Little Zora, here you are at Suzanne's office, sleeping away any residue of grief I might have been holding onto for you. You are peace. You are settled. You have come through this with strength. 

And here we are together. I too have come through this with strength. You and me both, sister!

And here is our Teacup, in her younger years, wearing her collar of daisies at mine and your Papa's wedding. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

8 weeks in Zoraland


We rarely call you Peach these days. Just once in a while. And it actually is still a fitting name, as your head is covered with a fine fuzzy hair that is almost peach-colored. We usually call you Zora. Papa often calls you Zorazora. I like to call you Little Z once in a while.

I thought I'd write to you a little bit about impressions of your first weeks at home with us. Several friends have said "keep writing!"....mothers who know how quickly the time goes with their quickly the details fade into the memory. Jacqui sent me some little notebooks----"write it down, write it down..." Baba-Keya also gave us some notebooks and journals. Yes, write it down before it fades away. In fact, much of these first 8 weeks already feels like a blur. Attribute it to being very tired. Or to the extreme similarity of day after day. Or to the necessity of amnesia of Newborn-Land so that the species survives. Yes, much of these first 8 weeks has been very hard!

You will know your birth story, so we can leave that be. I wrote about that last time. And we've been talking about it, you, me, Papa, over and over again, knitting it safely into the fabric of our family. It was a long long labor that resulted in your strong name, Zora.....

Zora was one of my favorite names. Papa and I had it narrowed down to about 5 names. Papa was not so sure about Zora for your name, but it had stayed on our list because I liked it a lot. So when you were born, we didn't name you right away. You were still our Little Peach for a couple of days. Then Papa said to me, "Zora. I like Zora. It's the strongest name on our list, and this little girl is strong. She handled that labor with the grit and grace of her Mama. I think I'm ready to name her Zora." And so, Laborland behind us, you were named Zora.

And then, after 5 days in the hospital, we all came home. It was a rainy day. I was still very very tired. And my belly was still very large due to air and fluids stuck inside me from the surgery. And I had a lot of pain. Papa drove very slowly on our way home. Our first car ride with you. Wow, parents we were. Would we forever drive this slow now that we have this precious being to care for?

When we got home, Lisa and Sarah greeted us, our labor team! They were at our house ready to welcome you yet again. Papa dashed about the house getting some things put away and getting us settled while Lisa and Sarah took some joy in holding you. Teacup was there too. I didn't get to greet Teacup the way I might have liked to had I been more well. Suddenly, for Teacup, our home had shifted 360 degrees. I wondered what it would be like for her.

I went up the stairs, very slowly. And I stayed there for about the next 10 days. Papa was our savior. He took care of you, me and Teacup with a lot of love and perseverence.

Week 1: Tired. Tired. Learning to nurse. We love you. We love you. We are head over heels. We are so tired and upside-down, and we are so pleased with every little move you make, every little sound, every little peep. Are you getting enough to eat? We did some crying, both you and me. Is she getting enough to eat? This is hard! Using the "Supplemental Nursing System" (SNS) to make sure you were getting enough to eat. What a difficult extra challenge to have to use this long will this go on???....a container of milk with a long tiny tube that attaches to Mama's nipple so that you get enough to eat as you learn to nurse. Papa even used the SNS on his finger sometimes just to get you to get used to sucking and getting food. Tired. Tired. Feeding about every 2 hours. Wondering how to help you. How to help sleep! Diapers. Papa and I trying to figure out these cloth diapers. They are huge on you. Diapers, oh, everything feels so overwhelming. So much work. Jeez, are we just going to use disposable after all that research on diapers???? Tired. Tired. My belly is still so huge and there is still a lot of pain. Not allowed to drive (where would I go?) because of all of the pain medication. Wow, I am depleted. Wrecked. And don't get me wrong, Peach. We love you so much. It's just that this body seems to be barely working. Pregnancy was blissful, mysterious, an adventure. Laborland was strange, challenging, even fun. But this post-partum thing,  it feels like wreckage. I wouldn't turn back, and yet how to heal feels beyond me. I am sure we will heal together, somehow! And I love you so much. So much.......and then I get a skin infection on my abdomen because of the "splash and crash" nature of the surgery---not prepping the patient sometimes leads to a skin infection afterward. More discomfort and difficulty in moving around. I hold you and tell you how immensely grateful we are that you are now in our arms.

Here you are,  Zora in our first few days home, rocking with Papa. 

Papa is feeding you,  Zora,  by SNS.....see the tiny tube running from the container pinned to Papa's shirt and then taped on to his finger  so that you can suck and get milk. 

Blurring into Week 2.....
We love you we love you. We are tired. My mother, Nana Debbie Lockman, is coming this week to help me. Wow, I had no idea I'd need her so much. "Mama, I need you. I am so tired and I'm afraid that I cry too much and I'm going to ruin Zora with all my crying." Papa is taking care of us, bringing food upstairs to me in my upstairs-post-surgery-confinement, washing the parts of the breast pump that we are using over and over and over and over and over, taking Teacup out, Teacup who can't really walk anymore. Papa has a lot to do! He loves you. He keeps saying, "She's adorable---let's keep her!" Yes, we're keeping you for sure. We want to help you to be able to cry less. That would be good for all of us! If we could get you used to the swing, or the bouncy chair....then, hmmm....maybe Mama's body wouldn't be so exhausted and we could all recover. Papa is so sweet about helping me stay determined to recover my body. He says we'll set "weekly milestones". This week we all go to the weight room and do a light workout. I work out with you on my chest in the Infantino Carrier. This feels good. And yet I have a long long long way to go to re-inhabit this body of mine. And we still cry, both you and I. This is hard. Are you a fussy baby? I cannot tell because I'm so tired and have so many hormones and have a lot of pain. I cannot tell which way is up. I just know you are my love, Zora, and we'll figure this all out. Wow, this is hard. 

Zora,  here you are about 2 weeks old. 

Happy you are, Zora, about 2 weeks old on the changing table-----turning out to be a favorite place to smile, laugh and be cute. 

And when did we ever get to Week 3?.....
Mama Nana Debbie is here. She rocks you and sings to you and I am struck by her love and wisdom. She just loves you so much and she makes it look easy to just keep rocking you no matter how much you cry. I look at her holding you. 38 years ago she was holding a baby in much the same way. That was me. Holy holy. This is holy. My Mama is here, taking care of me, again, after all these years. And you, Little Z, get to feel her love too. Nana always takes over in the morning because you and Papa and I don't sleep much at night. You go to Nana in the morning and I try to sleep for a couple hours before it's time to feed you again. And I feed you. And I pump more milk. Trying to get our milk supply really up and running, really flourishing. That's what the lactation nurses are telling me to do. Pump after every feed. Wow, this is pretty exhausting. And I'm worried that you are not getting enough to eat. Maybe I am not able to make enough milk for you. This makes me feel so sad. And I still have a good bit of pain. And tired. We are so tired, your Papa and I. Papa is a bit worried about me. I am really tired and I am still crying a lot and sometimes I don't know why. Thank goodness for grandmas and grandpas. Grandpa Lockman is here this week too, but for a shorter visit than Nana. This week we "graduate" to letting you use a "soothie"---a pacifier. We were told not to use if for the first month or so because it can "confuse" a breastfeeding baby and then you won't want Mama's nipples. It's called "nipple confusion". Well, you are not confused. You like breastfeeding and you like the soothie. And boy oh boy do WE like the soothie!!! Not sure if YOU graduated or WE did. Hope! This week I am walking about an hour a day with you in the Infantino. I walk very very very very slowly. You sleep. This is the sweetest thing ever. You, Zora, are the sweetest thing ever. Ever.

Zora, here you are about 3 weeks old. Little prayer. 

Mama and Zora--2 or 3 weeks--- in the Moby Wrap out and about at "Capture the Flag" hosted by Lisa.

 Zora, here you are smiling at Papa on the changing table. Zora, you are about 3 weeks old and just gracing us with your first precious smiles. 

Zora, here you are about 3 weeks old. Wow, those eyes!

When did we make it to Week 4?
Wow, a month old. A month in Zoraland. I could almost imagine getting the hang of this Zoraland thing. You are getting to be a very good eater. We got reassurance from the lactation department that we are on track. You are gaining weight well and we don't have to use the SNS and we don't have to pump ALL the time now---just once a day to keep stocking up on milk to freeze for later. We are still tired but maybe just maybe there is a light at the end of this Newborn Tunnel. You are sleeping a bit better. You seem to like the swing and nap better and better in it all the time. Thank goodness. And now that we are in the clear for "nipple confusion", Papa is giving you a bottle of pumped breastmilk in the middle of the night to help share the work of feeding you around the clock......And maybe we've got the hang of doing these cloth diapers finally. Ok, out with the disposables!......And are you a fussy baby? No, I don't think so. I think the fussiness in the first few weeks was as much related to my own exhaustion and depletion. I am recovering, and you are settling into your self. You are Zora, a very beautiful and happy baby.....And Papa is at work this week. We had his gentle presence for the first 3 weeks of your life. And now he's at work. We miss him. He comes home and sings to you......And one more thing about this week. You rolled over! It was a mistake, but you rolled over, just one day shy of 4 weeks. You were doing some tummy time and you lifted your head up, and the weight of that big baby head pulled you right over on to your back! What a look of surprise! Oh, and one more thing. Our "weekly milestone" this week was an almost-2-hour hike on Mesa Trail. Feels good to move more and Papa carried you the whole time, pointing out trees and birds and rocks. 

Zora, here you are with Papa on our "4 week milestone" hike on Mesa Trail. 

Proof that you really do cry, Zora. Here you are with Nana Lockman while she "bounces" you on the exercise ball. 

Week 5....
Baba-Keya is here this week, your other grandma. She is lovely. She adores you. And still, I need so much help. Baba, like Nana Lockman, takes over in the mornings so I can sleep. Yes, thank goodness for grandmas. Thank goodness for Babas. She rocks you and rocks you. She doesn't even put you in the swing sometimes even when you are asleep, because it's just too yummy to just hold you hold you hold you. And Auntie Kat is here too, and "Uncle" Anto. And Kat is enthralled with you----who wouldn't be? Kat visits as much as she can while still getting out to play in Boulder and Denver. Baba-Keya cooks a lot of food for us. I remind her that she is feeding you, Zora. If Mama is eating well, Zora is eating well. We are so blessed to have so much help. SO much help! Our beloved friend Chelsea organized a food calendar for us. We had delicious healthy food delivered from countless friends every other night for a full 6 weeks. Wow. I think we might have all starved....but we didn't! And so much other help and support. Girlfriends are coming over to take you for walks. We put you in the Infantino and away you go with them! I rest while you are out. And you get to be with other sweet friends.....and their faces and voices and smells. And Chelsea and Lynne both speak Spanish to you while you are out with them. What a gift! And now Ailish, Lisa's 13 year old daughter is also coming over a couple times a week to be my "mother's helper". She is so sweet with you. A real babysitting pro! You are beginning to love this big sister of yours..... Oh, and one more thing about this week. We took you bouldering this week. We went up Mt. Flagstaff. Papa bouldered, and you and I  and Baba rested in the fresh air......And then, was it this week?----your smiles just burst on to your face, Zora!! You have certainly been smiling a good bit for a couple weeks now, but now----now, your smiles are what we live for!!! And you giggle. The other night, I laid you in your bassinet and collapsed on the bed. And from your bassinet, I heard  a loud and distinct giggle. You made my day. Sleep giggles. How sweet. No, you didn't make my day. You made my life.......And what else did we do week 5? You went to your first concert. Ray Lamontagne at Red Rocks with Mark's summer coworkers. You were a delight. It's fun figuring out how to get out with you. 

Here you are, Zora, with your favorite big sister Ailish. 

Here you are, Zora at almost 5 weeks, sleeping under a pine on Flagstaff while Papa boulders and Mama and Baba-Keya enjoy being outside. 

Here Papa is showing you the rock he is bouldering on. 

And here you are at the Red Rocks concert. I wonder if you'll eventually like Ray LaMontagne someday.....
Zora, here you are with Baba-Keya.

And here you are with Auntie Kat.

And here we are together, Little Z!

Week 6....
Father's Day....rock-climbing in Boulder Canyon. It is so sweet to see you sleeping in your "baby in a bag" that Joan gave to us. What a beauty you are. And we are convinced that you love the outdoors because you just sleep so peacefully. You are smiling all the time. This is fun! You are fun! At home, we are settling into a clear routine. While you are in charge of the day, I feel that I can predict basically what we'll do together. You eat. That takes about 25 minutes. Then you hang out with me and smile and babble for about an hour. Then your eyes get glassy and your smiles turn into other funny (less happy) faces. And then I put you in a swaddle and bounce with you on the exercise ball for about 10 minutes and you fall asleep. And you sleep for about an hour. When Nana Lockman was here a few weeks ago, she and I coined this entire sequence---feed, hang out, sleep----- an "inning" ----even though I'm not much of a baseball fan. We have about 8 innings a day. A "good" inning involves a lot of smile time followed by a good nap. Usually in the last inning of the day I go for an hour walk and that's where you do your sleeping. I am so very grateful for a routine. And it's lovely. These are Astral Weeks, Peach. 

Zora, you like to look up. Papa loves this about you. I think he's whispering something about "5:13...."

6 weeks.....

6 weeks.....

6 weeks.....

Oh, and here we are again on Father's Day.....sleeping in the Phil and Ted's "baby bag"....

Week 7....
This week.....we went rock-climbing in Clear Creek Canyon with Mark and Claire. Again, sleeping peacefully to the sound of a roaring creek. And these days, our home routine continues to be a slow and gentle way to spend our days. We get out now, too. We sometimes go to appointments or visit other Mamas with babies. And we go to Lisa's house too. Lisa is in love with you like you are her own. She made a pact with Sarah to "spoil" you. Lisa helped bring you in to this world and she's sticking with you.  We will all remember this summer for the Zoratime we all spent at Lisa's.

And here you are, Zora, with dear Lisa, hanging out in her backyard hammock. 

Bright eyes of 7 weeks. 

You smile so much now. What joy you are!

And you have some very serious faces too. 

But mostly smiles....
Week 8....
I can hardly believe we've been hanging out for almost 2 months. Yesterday you had your first shots. It was so hard to see you cry so hard. And then you were not very happy for the rest of the day. And you didn't sleep well last night. And neither did Papa and I. You are a delight. You are beautiful. Alert. Talkative--more and more every day! Engaged--your eye contact is intense and sustained. Curious---you love to look and look and look. Loved. Loved. Loved. Sometimes I look at you in your bliss of being the center of the you sleep so peacefully, how you just melt into contentment as you finish feeding. I look into your face and somehow in that intersubjective circle, I long for that bliss too. And somehow, in giving it to you, I give it to myself. I get to have it too, this bliss, this contentment, this love. Repair. Of our labors and our losses and our loves. And so we heal. A baby, the hope and healing of the world.

Who doesn't love little toes? Ten fingers and ten toes. And like Auntie Katie and Uncle David hoped for  you.....wings. I see your wings, Peach. I see them, Angel Zora Peach. Ten fingers, ten toes, and wings. 

Sleeping at Clear Creek. Wow. Cheeks. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Welcome to the Spinning Earth, Zora Peach

Peach. Zora. Zora Peach.

You are sleeping. I should be too. But there's so much I'd like to say to you to before it slips away into the corners of my fuzzy spaced out tired out brain.

We made it. You made it out. I made it through labor, whole. Exhausted and whole. You made it too, perhaps also exhausted. I will forever wonder what that labor adventure was like for you. 

Zora Peach, you have a beautiful birth story. 

Papa and I have talked a lot about how you were born. I believe we have established that it was an adventure. It was somehow just what we needed. It is a beautiful story. Not traumatic and not a disaster. We could name it those things. But we won't name it those things. It was long. And it was hard. And it was even pretty scary in the final moments. But we all stuck together very well, supported each other, loved each other, and here we are beginning our lives together as a family. I am so grateful. 

For much of labor, we were just IN it. It was interesting. It was hard. It was labor. We didn't know where we were going, but we knew we were in labor. 

We had wonderful help, Peach. Sutay and Lisa and Sarah were amazing guides. And Papa Mark was extraordinary. After the fact, Lisa said that Mark should open his own doula practice. 

After three days of contractions, I was exhausted. Just spent. I bet you were too. I bet it was pretty strange to have lived in my uterus fairly stress-free for so many weeks and then to suddenly be squeezed really really hard every few minutes. Not to mention the sounds your Mama made when those contractions were happening. THOSE were sounds you hadn't been listening to for the previous months! And then, after hours and hours, my heart rate was staying much too high. And then, yours dropped. And babies have a pretty narrow ability to withstand such a thing. Suddenly the nurses were changing my position---get on your left side! I couldn't really move because by then I'd been numbed from the waist down. Your heart rate didn't come up. Get on your right side! They flipped me again. Your heart rate didn't come up. Get on all fours! Several nurses got me on all fours. Your heart rate didn't come up. Then I don't remember what they said, but it felt frightening. I heard the word "crash". I heard something about getting to the OR. We were unplugged from the labor room hook-ups, fast. We were wheeled down the hall, fast. 

That moment is very clear to me. I thought of your Papa and the accident he was in almost four years ago. He says that when he looked down and saw his broken leg, in that crucial moment, he said to himself, "My life has changed and I need to stay present." There we were, Peach. I said to myself, "I need to stay present. We can do this, Peach. Stick with me." As we were wheeled into the OR, I heard several times "splash and crash, splash and crash!" There was the possibility of losing you, Peach. I learned later that "crash" referred to your heart rate and "splash" referred to the fact that they were not going to fully prep me for surgery---they were just going to splash betadine all over my abdomen to just do surgery as quickly as possible. Splash and crash. That didn't sound good to me. I kept talking to you. Stick with me, Peach. You can do this. We can do this. Stick with me. I am here. I am not afraid. I am here with you. I am not afraid. Stick with me. The anaestesiologist, the one medical person who stayed connected to me as a person during this emergency surgery, said to me, "That's exactly what you need to be doing. Keep doing it." I did. I asked her to hold my shoulders down-----they were shaking uncontrollably. She did this for me. I kept talking to you as they lifted you out of me. I heard something about "floppy". I heard something about respiratory distress. They brought you to my side--for about 3 seconds. They said something about there being a problem with your palate, maybe your chin---in my opinion this was a poorly timed piece of information-sharing. They whisked you away. I asked where Mark was----could he go meet you? Where was Mark??? Had they let him in to the OR to see this? Someone told me he could go meet you. Relief. I was in the OR for quite a while longer. I had to stay to have X-ray verification that they hadn't left any medical tools inside me---they hadn't had time to count the tools before surgery because of the speediness of the splash and crash. When they verified that I had no scissors or sponges sewed up inside me, I was taken to a recovery room to meet you and Papa. I discovered that Papa had greeted you with song and that it had stopped your crying immediately. You shall come out with joy. And you did. Just not exactly the way I had envisioned. You were lifted out instead of pushed out, Peach. Lifted out with love. And with song. And with joy. 

Now, from what I know about trauma, the people most likely to suffer with symptoms afterward are those people who, for various reasons, are not able to do anything effective in the moment of stress/overwhelm/stress---for example someone who is held down while being robbed. Being held down prevents any possibility for being effective on your own behalf. I believe that Papa Mark had no post-traumatic stress symptoms after almost losing his leg because he was able to be effective even in the face of extreme circumstances. He had his cousin help him get in a good position to wait for the rescue team. He talked to the rescue team. He asked for less medication so that he could be present and do deep breathing. And we can name your birth beautiful, Zora Peach. I talked to you. I asked for your teamwork. I asked the anaesthesiologist for her help. I asked that they let Mark see you. And he sang to you about coming out with joy, a song you already knew. And about welcome to the spinning earth.....

Welcome to the spinning earth.
Welcome to the green green earth.

Welcome to the spinning earth. 
Welcome to the green green earth. 

Zora. Zoraland. We've been living in Zoraland for over a month now! Welcome to the green green earth, little Z. We love you. It's been an exhausting month---more on that later. Welcome to the spinning earth.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Papa's Perspective, part 2 (I want to see)

Zora arching (and throwing gang signs)
I want to see
Peach, now Zora Gloria Lockman, presented face-first.  Without the back of her head pressing on Melissa's cervix, Melissa simply could not dilate enough for a vaginal delivery.  As a newborn, she often arches backwards, trying to see ahead and above her, while her amazing, wide blue eyes take it all in.  We like to think that she wanted to come into the world seeing where she was going.

Several years ago, Melissa became trained in a therapeutic modality called Somatic Experiencing.  The idea is fairly simple.  Habits lodge in the nervous system.  The way we cope, and the way we react to trauma, is best understood as a pattern that we maintain right now in our nervous systems - not as events in our history.

This framework has made a lot of sense to us in understanding our beloved, eccentric, and otherwise incomprehensible Teacup, a dog who needs soothing and swaddling.  Now, that same framework makes sense in understanding Zora.  Here's what I mean:

Zora's go-to position is arching backwards and looking above and behind her.  Sometimes she goes to this position when she is calm.  When I rock her (and sing Baba Hanuman - now easily into the hundreds of times), she often arches her head backwards and looks straight up at me with those bright blue eyes, eyebrows straining to open her eyes as wide as possible.  When we put her on her stomach at 6 days old, she was able to lift her head and turn it to either side - quite unusual for a newborn.
Perhaps she thinks she's a dog?

Arching is also her go-to position when she is upset.  She pushes away and arches her head and chest backwards.  (Somehow, I think this means we're in for it when she's a teenager.)

Understanding this somatically, it is hard to believe that she just learned these behaviors after she was born.  It seems more likely that she's been learning to arch for a while in utero - the pattern maintained in her nervous system in response to stimulus or stress.

So for us, it makes sense that Zora Gloria Lockman was born via cesarean birth.  The doctors that we talked to engaged in (what seemed like fairly unfounded) speculation about whether Melissa's fibroid (that was not even on her uterus) or the large amount of amniotic fluid kept Zora floating and prevented her from tucking her chin and engaging the back of her head.  While those things may well have an effect, no one could provide us any evidence that this was the case for Zora or that those factors generally prevent chin tucking.

More importantly for the way that I see the world (I don't want to speak for Melissa), that model turns Zora into a passive object tossed about by the peculiarities of Melissa's internal organs.  (Incidentally, the docs framed several other aspects of pregnancy - turning head down, dropping into the pelvis - as events about which we could only be passive even though there is empirical evidence that pregnant mamas can affect those things.)  Of course Zora was affected by Melissa's internal organs, but Zora was also becoming a separate organism.  She was organized separately from Melissa.  Late stage fetuses hear sounds, recognize voices, open their eyes, and respond to movements.  And part of the way Zora's nervous system organized was to arch.

Which brings me back to one of the first ways that I can understand my daughter.  Permit me some poetic license here; I don't actually think that she had conscious intention about her birth process.  Still, it makes for a nice story to help me make meaning about who my daughter is: Zora wanted to come into the world seeing where she was going.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Papa's perspective, part 1 (Grit and Grace)

Melissa's high school track and cross-country coach gave her an award for "Grit and Grace."  That combination of traits made her a champion runner.  Those same traits saw her through a grueling three-day labor with unusual double- and triple-peaked contractions, and eventually ending in a cesarean birth.


Quick primer on dilation: 10 cm = time for mama to push baby out; 5 cm often means active labor; women can walk around a few centimeters dilated for a week or two before going into labor.  Melissa was 2 cm dilated at her check up a few days before starting labor.

First day and sleepless night:
Melissa thought that her water broke on Thursday (5/5) morning.  She became crampy, and had her first identifiable contractions around 1 pm.  Because we thought the water broke, we assumed we were on the clock for the birth (there is a concern of infection when labor takes too long after water breaking).  Melissa labored into the evening and night.  We went to the hospital at 4 am when her contractions were roughly 5 min apart (though still somewhat uneven).  Her water had not broken; in fact, there was so much amniotic fluid that Peach was floating too high and not engaged into Melissa's pelvis.  Melissa was 4 cm dilated.

Second day and (mostly) sleepless night:
Melissa has always been sensitive to people and emotions around her.  During her labor, this manifested by her body shutting down contractions when there was bad news or when medical personnel were not terribly sensitive.  So, around noon on Friday, when Melissa discovered that she was still only 4 cm dilated, her contractions stopped.  The hospital gave us the choice, and we decided to go home to continue her labor.  The doctors prescribed sleep medication, so Melissa got a couple of 30-45 minute stints of sleep in the afternoon.  At night, she had one blessed 4 hour stretch with no contractions; otherwise, they came every 15-20 min (making sleep difficult).  Melissa also couldn't eat (perhaps 12 crackers in 24 hours) because she was vomiting during some contractions.

Third day and sleepless night:
On Saturday, we returned to the hospital per instructions for tests to ensure that Peach was tolerating the contractions.  Lo and behold, Melissa was 7 cm dilated at 11 am, so the hospital told us to stay.  Melissa's water still hadn't broken, and the doctors refused to break it (concern that the baby was too high, so the cord could come down first).  They wanted to give her Pitocin to stimulate stronger contractions, but she refused this intervention.  Then came the killer contractions...

Melissa earned her appellation, Grit and Grace, in these hours.  Though we don't like the term, her contractions were "dysfunctional," probably as a result of so much fluid distending her uterus.  She had double and triple-peaked contractions, often lasting 4+ minutes.  There was generally no break between these monster contractions.  (Normal is 60-90 sec contractions w/ as much break in between).  Melissa was at her edge and could have broken down.  She didn't.  Melissa put her head down and made these low-pitched growls and roars, sounds I have never heard from her before.  We would call and repeat: I can do this; every contraction ends; opening; relax what you can; and occasionally, fuck Pitocin.

At 10 pm on Saturday, Melissa was still only 7-8 cm dilated.  Melissa was terribly discouraged and somewhat delirious from two nights of no sleep (on top of the marginal sleep for the last month of pregnancy) and no food.  Again, her body just shut down the contractions for a couple of hours.  The doctors still refused to break the water, and urged Pitocin.  Melissa agreed.  They kept upping the dose, but Melissa said that the Pitocin-induced contractions were mild in comparison with what she had been through.  It was hard to see how this would dilate her enough to deliver Peach.

Then, around 1 am, after 60 hours of grueling natural labor, Melissa was done.  I was concerned because her heart rate was riding very high, even between contractions.  We asked the doctor if she could get sleep medication to rest (or just try to rest naturally).  The doctor refused, reasoning that her labor needed to be progressing.  Thus, her choices were becoming increasingly steered by exhaustion and the yay or nay of the doctors.  The only option for getting some relief and rest was an epidural; at this point, Melissa heartily agreed.  She knew, and her support team knew, that she had reached the end of her extraordinary natural labor.

Interestingly, before the epidural was in, the doctor broke Melissa's water, without asking for her consent.  (More on this in another post.)  The contractions began coming hard and fast - and with regularity.  Alas, Melissa was into her third night of no sleep after many hard hours of contractions.  These were too much.  After a number of strong contractions, naturally induced by the broken water,  the epidural took effect.  It was 2:30 am.

At 5:30 am, I awoke to the doctors talking with Melissa.  Despite three hours of contractions - spurred by the water breaking and additional Pitocin, Melissa was still only 8 cm dilated.  Peach was presenting face first, and without the back of her head pushing on Melissa's cervix, it simply would not dilate.  The doctor tried to move Peach to get the back of her head to come down.  It may have been during this procedure (or perhaps something else - a little foggy here) that Peach's heart rate dropped.  We moved Melissa to her other side, then back to the first side, then hands and knees.  Peach's heart rate was still down.

Thus came the step at which medical teams excel: fast emergency procedures to save the baby (and mom).  They wheeled her down the hall to do a "splash and crash" - an emergency cesarean birth with the goal of 4 minutes from decision to baby out.  They said that I could come to the operation if things were settled.  They never called me.  I just stared down the hallway, wondering if our daughter would make it, if my wife would be okay.

Peach emerged from Melissa's belly at 5:51 am.  She was just fine, if a little bruised and scraped from being face first into Melissa's cervix.  She was under a warmer and crying when I came in to see her (Melissa was still being closed up).  I put my face to her forehead and sang, "You shall come out with joy," a song we sang to her in utero.  She stopped crying and looked around with those wide blue eyes - and hooked her Papa for good.  Melissa, you did it!  You birthed a wonderful baby girl, and there is nothing passive about this birth story!

Saturday, April 30, 2011


Peach. A human in a human.

We've got some time yet. The doctors had our "due date" wrong. Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew this, but it didn't become that important until I realized we were going to be pushed to have induced labor, which I really did NOT want for either of us. Induced labor can be harder on both of us and can end up in more problems than if we declare labor naturally. Which is what I hope we'll do sometime soon! Anyway, due date was yesterday instead of last week. So we have almost 2 weeks until that critical 42 weeks where it's important to get you out of me. I'm feeling like you'll come before that--things are definitely shifting in many ways.

This continues to be an amazing and contemplative time for me as I watch my belly literally quake and quiver with your movements. I sing to you and you move more. You push one of your appendages outward and Papa Mark pushes back on it and you push back even harder. Play. Let's play! And I swear Teacup enjoys having her face pressed up against your home more than she ever used to. This old dog seems to be hanging around to meet you. Come soon, Peach. She's an old old dog.

Peach, I've been thinking so much about my own Mama. Debbie. Deborah Jean Lockman. She carried me around in her belly for 40 weeks, just like I've done for you. I was the human in the human! She breathed for me for 40 weeks. She pumped blood for me for 40 weeks. She ate and drank for me for 40 weeks. 40 weeks, I have come to understand, is quite a good long time to stay dedicated to something. Mama built me out of her own tissue and energy. I can hardly believe she did that for me. And that was just the beginning. She did a lot more than that. She and my Papa loved me. They did their very best. And for whatever complaints I have voiced, mostly in some rebellious adolescent years, their very best was good. I am so grateful. So amazed. I was the human in the human, Peach, just like you now are the human in the human. And now 38 years later I feel like I'm realizing so vividly, so poignantly, what my mother did for me. She breathed for me for 40 weeks. Peach, I've been breathing for you for 40 weeks now. So gladly. So willingly. And this is just the beginning. I hope my very best efforts at parenting will be enough to launch you into a life of love and laughter and happiness.

Mama Debbie recently found the baby book she kept for and about me for the first five years of my life. She sent it to me in the mail. It is called "My Growing Up Book". I look at my mother's handwriting "Melissa finally (finally) rolled over today!" It is the same handwriting that I know so well from the many notes and letters I've seen over the years from my mother. But she was 24 when she wrote those words. I almost can't make sense of the fact that it is the same person who wrote those words 38 years ago who also wrote me a note last week and sent me some gifts for you. She was my mother when she wrote so excitedly about me rolling over. And she was my mother when she sent the care package last week. Same mother, same handwriting, same mother. Then. Now. Always. She documented all of those things that a mother might be excited about---first teeth, first time walking, what I got for my first birthday. She glued the pictures into the designated spots. Melissa at 1 year old, at 2, at 3......Me, a baby. I was the human in the human, Peach, just like now you are my little Peach human in a human. My mother did this too, this pregnancy adventure. All of our mothers did this. We were ALL the human in the human. ALL of our mothers breathed for us for 40 weeks. And birthed us. And began the journey of parenting us. So much hope. Babies give us so much hope. That we can get it right, that we can do just a little better, or a little different than our own parents. Yes, so much hope.  That you'll be happy. That you'll be happy to be alive, to be our child, to give this Planet Earth your best effort. That you'll live long. That we'll be friends long into our lives and beyond. 

Here are (a bunch!!!) of pictures of some of your family, Peach. Thanks to your uncle Mo for scanning these!

Mama Debbie!

Mama Melissa at about 15 months old.

Mama Melissa in the sink. 

Mama Melissa

Mama Melissa licking the cake bowl on her first birthday. 

Mama Debbie--how old? 5ish?

Mama Debbie and her big brother George. 

Mama Melissa and dog Zeek with Melissa's clothes on. Who did this?!

Mama Melissa is the baby--with Papa Larry and sisters Jody and Christy.

Family photo. Add in little brother Mark. 

Mama Debbie with baby Melissa.

Happy sisters Jody and Christy.

Hippee Mama Debbie in the garden. 

Hippee Papa Larry with Melissa on his shoulders.

Mama Debbie and Papa Larry's wedding. 

Mama Melissa and her cat Sunny.

Melissa and sister Jody.

Mama Debbie.

Mama Melissa with good old friends Jackson and Isaiah. 

Mama Melissa with Jackson.

Mama Debbie and Mama Melissa.

Mama Melissa sitting in the woodbox at Sunny Slopes Farm. 

Mama Melissa.

Mama Debbie. 

Mama Debbie and Papa Larry's wedding. 

Mama Debbie pregnant with Mama Melissa.

Mama Debbie and Mama Melissa.

Mama Debbie and Mama Melissa.

Mama Melissa sitting in the toy box Mama Debbie made for her. 

Papa Larry practicing unsafe biking with baby Melissa! Where's your helmet?!

Papa Larry with newborn Melissa.

Mama Melissa.

Family photo.