Monday, February 21, 2011

Maternity Photos

A few weeks ago, a fabulous artist-mama came over and took maternity photos. We did a "swap"---she took pictures and didn't charge me anything for them except my permission to use them as templates for her paintings. Thank you, Jessica! She is working on a project on bodies and motherhood. Here is her website and here are some of the photos.

No wonder I have a pulled back muscle!

This little charm is a "milagro" given to us by dear friend Sarah Shepherd.  The milagro was meant to bring success to our efforts at conceiving a child. 

Dear Teacup!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Imagination and Experience

I do not sleep very well. And even though I had very little nausea that is more typical of the first trimester, I'm getting a bit of that now--partly because of the fact that there is very little room left for my digestive organs to do their usual job! I am moving slowly, very slowly. I have a pulled muscle in my mid-back---not sure how it happened except that I am 32 weeks pregnant and it is really quite a feat just to roll over in bed. Wow, this is hard work. 

It amazes me the difference between imagination and experience. My imagination did a lot to prepare me for pregnancy. I imagined what it would be like to see my body change, to dream with Mark about our next chapter in life as parents, to feel all of the possible joys and "symptoms" of pregnancy. But it could not prepare me for this final leg of the journey. For a couple days now, I have occasionally felt like crying, and have cried, because I'm not sure how to keep going with my back feeling like this. In my work as an in-home therapist, I am on the go all day long--in and out of people's homes all day, in and out of the car, playing on the floor with infants, sitting down and getting up off of all variety of people's couches. And at least for now, it doesn't feel like an option to stop doing these things. As much as my imagination took me to a certain place in preparing for pregnancy, it did not and it cannot even touch on the reality of the actual experience. If imagination could accurately capture what truly IS, would any of us do ANYthing of real effort, substance, trial? Would I have run all those miles, sometimes so exhilarating, sometimes so full of pain? Would I have embarked on this marriage, sometimes the sweetest nectar, sometimes the most difficult and tedious endeavor? Would I have gotten pregnant, so very mysterious and fascinating and expansive, and yet so very terrifying and downright uncomfortable?

I think I feel a big old metaphor staring me in the face. Slow down. Do less. Let go. It's not about you anymore, Melissa. Have I learned this in my 38 years on this planet yet? Will I learn it as a parent in time to savor Peach's joys, triumphs, and trials of any given moment----all but a moment before she is on to the next step? Slow down. Do less. Let go. It's not about you anymore, Melissa. Can I slow down as this state of pregnancy is asking me to do? Can I do less as this state of pregnancy is asking me to do? Can I let go, as this state of pregnancy is asking me to do? Mark and I are both very happy with the fact that it feels as though our lives are going to shift away from a focus on ourselves to a focus on Peach and on life as a family. Yes, we can do this. Melissa and Mark, it's not about you anymore. Yes, we can do this. 

Peach, 8 weeks feels so soon and it also feels very very far away. We are going to meet face to face. I have the imagination to have countless ideas about what you might be like, what our lives together might be like. But I do not have the experience of it. Imagination and experience. This aching pulled muscle in my back tells me that you and Mark and I are all in for a ride with unexpected twists and turns, that our lives will unfold beyond the capability of my imagination. I have both faith and fear all in one immense swirl of dreams. Faith or fear? Which side of the room do I find myself in---faith or fear? Mostly faith, mostly faith. 

Peach, I adore you. I adore your what-feels-like constant tumblings around in my abdomen. Mark thinks you are playing jumprope with your umbillical cord. I adore singing to you, "You shall come out with joy and be led forth in peace. The mountains and the hills will break forth before you. There'll be shouts of joy and all of the trees of the field, will clap, will clap their hands. And the trees of the field will clap their hands. The trees of the field will clap their hands. The trees of the field will clap their hands. And you'll come out with joy." Mark and I will be teaching this song to Sutay and Lisa, our "Team Peach" labor team so that we can all sing it together when you "come out with joy". 

Peach, Teacup adores you, too. I have no doubt that there is a connection between the two of you already. Teacup has never so consistently wanted to lie with her head pressed up against my belly where you bounce around. If Teacup lives to see your birth, I'm confident that you and she will resonate on an important "somatic experience" level. I will close with a picture of the two of you together.  

Melissa, Peach, and Teacup.

Melissa, Peach, and Teacup.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Full Term Couple

Good morning, Peach.

Papa and I took a childbirth class this weekend at Good Samaritan Hosptial where you are going to be born. Now Papa knows the "stages of labor' and how to best support you and I as we birth you.

I had been looking forward to the class---mostly because I hoped that it would give Papa and I a shared experience that would bring us closer together in this pregnancy journey we're in. And I got what I wanted this weekend. I am happy. Estoy embarazado y soy feliz.

For months now, I've been continually making peace with the fact that pregnancy is very different for each partner. I am pregnant and I think about it and feel it constantly. Constantly! And as much as Papa is very present and interested in this process, his connection to it has been just different than mine. Just different. 

I have had moments of wanting Mark to understand how very important it feels to me to have as little medical intervention in your birth, Peach,  as possible-----do you know how much epidurals interfere with the process of labor?----do you understand that if I have to be induced into labor that my chances of having a C-section go up tremendously?----do you get it that one medical intervention seems to just lead to another and that going in with a lot of knowledge and a strong stance are really important??? 

I have had moments of wanting Mark to think about what the day of labor is really going to be like and how much I feel that I will need him to be present to help me through this ritual---will you be able to set aside your studying if Peach arrives during law school finals?----do you realize that labor can last for hours and hours and that it feels so important to me to create a covenant of support and privacy and love to get us through it?-----are you ready for this passage through this veil of determination, fear, and love?----do you know how much I am looking forward to this monumental event and how much I will need you?

I have had moments of just wanting Papa to feel the magic of this pregnancy the way I do every single day-----Papa, you've only felt Peach "kick" a few times---do you understand how profound this feels to a Mama who walks around with those kicks 24/7?----do you have any idea how it feels to well up with tears every time I sit at work and counsel these other mamas and their tiny babies?-----are you ready for how just plain crazy it's going to be when I push Peach out of my abdomen into the world?

And, what a sigh of relief and love and gratitude I feel today. Estoy embarazado y soy feliz. Papa gets it. Papa's ready. Going to this class together this weekend was the perfect 12 hour "fast track" of information and reflection to get Mark a good dose of all of the information I have been swimming in for months now. Fear not, Peach. Fear not, Mama. Papa is ready. We are two lucky lucky gals. Papa is pretty amazing. Yep, good thing the teacher of our class took a few minutes to turn the lights on after the birthing videos---it gave Papa time to dry his weepy eyes. Papa is ready. I trust him to be fully open and present to the miracle of bringing you into this world, Peach. Papa is ready for this ritual. He understands how important it is to avoid medical intervention---for Mama's health and for Peach's (narcotics pass through the placenta in their full dose, epidurals pass through the placenta in a minimum of 30% of people, induced contractions come much stronger than natural ones and put a lot of stress on babies). He even got to feel you move around more, Peach, since he and I were sitting side by side in the classroom for hours and hours and I could put his hand on my belly when you decided it was time to have a dance party. Huge smiles from Papa as he realized just how much and how often you are bouncing 'round the womb. Papa is ready. When the teacher took time to talk about taking care of the marriage when the baby comes around, Mark and I agreed that we could be part of that small percentage---only 30%----of couples who say that their relationship is stronger and richer after the arrival of the baby. Most couples experience a decline in relationship satisfaction. Papa and I feel ready. We've been through some rough spots already in our 17 years and we have some pretty good skills for keeping things sweet. We are good friends. Peach, I feel so happy to think of bringing you into this world with my relationship with your Papa as the container. Papa and I are not, what Birthing From Within calls a "premature couple". The author talks about how a premature baby is probably going to do pretty well in the world---there's plenty we can do medically and plenty we can do with physical and occupational therapy to help that premature baby along. Premature couples are tougher to assist---coming too soon or coming unprepared to the task of raising an infant can be very hard on couples. Honestly, Peach, I believe your Papa and I are ready. And don't get me wrong--I do not think it will be easy and I do not think we won't feel overwhelmed or discouraged at times. But we're a "full-term" couple. Most of all we are good friends.

Papa Mark on the top of the first Flatiron.