I write a lot about my mother and what her death has done to me and my siblings. And this holiday is no different than all the others - managing the surreal of not having her here and the immediate of my own children. I've found some comfort in writing poetry again, which helps both to express my loss and my memories. Today, I thought I'd tell a quick recap of the entrance of hope, joy and happiness.
I was 25 when #1 was born, my hope. She was a week of contractions and 32 hours of active labor, and she was two weeks overdue. We had picked the only birth center that we could get to from our house by train, since we had to walk there in the beginning. We didn't get a car until halfway through the pregnancy (another story). It was still 45 minutes away through Boston traffic. I was adamant that I wanted a midwife and not a hospital birth, and so we drove. Those 32 hours are very clear to me - walking around a local mall to make the contractions come sooner, driving back and forth every three hours to the birth center since I hadn't dilated enough and needed to get antibiotics which was related to my Rh factor (they don't do this anymore). By the time we would finally get home, we'd rest an hour and turn around again. Eventually, they let me stay. When we hit the 30th hour of not moving forward, the midwife said I had two choices left, as she was afraid I'd be too exhausted to push; 1. go to the hospital and receive pitocin to move me forward, or 2. an hour of intense nipple stimulation in order to spur my own natural pitocin levels. My husband had to tell me to stop laughing and make a decision.
After we got to the hospital and received the pitocin, #1 joined us at around the 32nd hour. I wasn't happy about that time in the hospital, for all the reasons why I wanted a birth center and control over my birth story in the first place. But then I had my queen ... my hope for the world, and I had to figure out how to do this mother thing.
I was 28 when #2 was born, my joy. He was also two weeks overdue. My midwife, now at a different birth center that was north of us and easier to get to, said I just took a couple extra weeks to make a baby. I needed to go into labor before I officially hit 42 weeks though, otherwise no birth center experience. I would be relegated to the hospital next door, and not wanting to do that, I was up for anything. They smeared some jelly on my cervix, which I think was a pitocin derivative. Unfortunately, the baby didn't enjoy this experience one bit. His heart rate went crazy, and so I was bundled next door. In a completely different turn of events, I went from 0 to baby in hand in an hour and twenty minutes. I don't know which was harder - 32 hours or 1.20 hours. I actually begged for drugs with him, but my midwife said, "Heather, by the time they take effect the baby will be here." He cried so hard when he arrived that he blew out a lung.
Then like many couples, we had a rough couple of years, lean and challenging, balancing jobs and our own evolution, having another baby was out of the question. When we finally reached a point where we became pregnant with #3, our time with them was short lived. We lost that baby a third of the way through. We've always wanted to be surprised with each birth, as well as wait until the end to finalize the name choices. Following suit with this one, I didn't pick a name, but I've always thought she was a girl.
I was 35 when #4 was born, my happiness. She was a month early and born through an emergency C-section. My midwife was there again. We had discovered during this pregnancy that I had kidney stones, that I had probably had them my whole life. This made everything a bit more challenging. It was scary even though everyone involved tried to downplay how quickly my blood pressure was dropping. When she came though, it was as if all was right with the world again. My mother was in another hospital having her pacemaker replaced at almost the exact same time in what was supposed to be a routine procedure. We didn't know at the time, that just as #4's birth was far from routine, so was my mother's surgery. In just 42 days, I would be saying goodbye.
I sincerely hope that all of you out there who mother someone, be it ones you made, saved, adopted, loved, lost, be they human or furry, be they a joy or a pain, be they near or far, whether you think you're doing a good job or just trying to get through the day ... I hope that today is a present for you, filled with hope, joy and happiness.