Where has the time gone?

I never thought I’d do this.  But, I’ve done it. For the last few weeks I’ve been participating in an instagram yoga challenge.  Basically, you follow the hashtag, #babybouncebackchallenge and each day all the people participating post a picture of themselves in the day’s designated asana, often with their baby.  You can check them out in the sidebar here.

I always thought yoga challenges seemed to focus on the wrong thing.  They emphasized making a pose look pretty for the camera, rather than the real yoga of accepting where you are and working to fully express the pose for you in the time and place you’re at. But I’ve learned a bit in this challenge.  Because it’s a bunch of postpartum moms, you really get that acceptance of where you’re at more overtly than with other challenges.  For me, it’s been really wonderful to connect with my friends in Australia who have had babies since we all did lots of yoga together years ago.  It’s also great to read about the challenges and joys other moms face with their physical body, their lack of sleep, their stress, and their overwhelming love for their babies.  It helps me remember that, though I don’t have a lot of friends around me with kids, I’m not alone.

Cody is a sweet, wonderful baby.  I’m told there aren’t many like him, and that I shouldn’t expect such an easy-going baby when we go for round two.  And that’s OK.  I can accept that. He is a joy.  His smiles warm my heart, his chatter is so playful ad sweet, and his squishy thighs are my favorite things to squeeze.  He makes me so incredibly happy.  I want a million of him.   But, that doesn’t negate the challenges.  I felt like my brain was running at about 50% for the first 6 months postpartum.  I still don’t ever sleep through the night – even if Cody does occassionaly.  I struggle to manage my time between work, play, Cody, and trying to care for and support myself.  One of the hardest pieces of rediscovering myself amidst all this change has been the issue of accepting myself each day for where I am in my life.  I am still breastfeeding him, and I hope to continue as long as I can.  But that said, breastfeeding poses its own challenges in rediscovering yourself as a mom.   I had heard over and over again before having Cody that breastfeeding just causes all the baby weight to fall off.  I’m here to tell you, that is not true in all cases.  When I got pregnant, almost immediately I put on about 10 pounds.  Maybe it was the hormones, because even though I didn’t eat a lot during the first trimester, I packed on the lbs.  Well, now I think it’s those last hormonal 15 pounds that may not ever leave me – at least as long as I’m breastfeeding.  And, as I’ve googled this endlessly, I’ve realized that there are those who lose weight effortlessly while breastfeeding, and then there are people like me.  We keep a nice literal and figurative cushion for the uncertainties in life, I suppose.  I think as an early human this would probably have been advantageous evolutionarily.  Now, it really just keeps me from fitting in my pants.  It’s not the end of the world, but it gets under my skin and it means that I still don’t really feel like myself yet.  That’s not to say I feel bad – each day I have built in time to snuggle with my baby and provide him with sustenance and nurturing.  Breastfeeding is magical – both because it is such a joy to be with my baby and feel connected to him, but also because it gives me superpowers.  For example, baby is crying and overtired.  He has had dinner, a bottle, had a nice back scratch – but nothing is working to settle him down.  What to do?  Boob.  That’s what.  They are the ultimate baby problem solvers.  As someone who has never had any other real use for these organs, I’m sure thankful for them now.

But yes, the pants thing.  That’s kind of a problem for me.  I work out, yo.  I just rode my bicycle over Trail Ridge Road.  I run like 4 times a week and do lots of yoga.  I just happen to show little to no progress in losing that baby weight.  So, I’m working towards self-acceptance while striving to express myself as best I can in the time and place I’m at in my life.  See how we came full circle with that?  Yoga.  So good.

Ok, off to work.  I can’t believe I hadn’t blogged since June.  Babies…


There are geographies that hold significance for me, for each of us, across the spans of time and space.  They act as bookmarks in the chronology of our lives, to which we can turn back and reread a page or revel in a memory.  A marker to remind us where we have come from, and how we have evolved from who we once were.

One such geography in my life is the Twin Cities.  I went to college there.  It was where I fell deeply in love with learning.  It was where I developed the habits and practiced the choreographies that have carried me through the stages of my life since I left.  It was where I first fell in love. And, also where I began to develop a sense of who I am and what I want to be in the world around me.

As you can imagine, I seize every opportunity to go to the Twin Cities for all the above reasons.  But, also just to walk out into the humid embrace of the air there, to see the blinding reflection of late afternoon sun on the lakes – to revel in the fecundity of the greenery, the warmth of summer, the alluringly rich smells.  To feel life brimming over in a cascade of loamy soil, mosquitoes, and green leaves.

Being back in the Twin Cites, particularly in summer, is like turning back a page to the me who had just graduated from college, who was training for her first marathon, and who was finally exploring what it was to be an adult.  It is an opportunity to reflect on a magical time, where the future was full of possibility: I was happy and in love, and the world held unimaginable promise.

I was in MSP for a meeting of a leadership development program I was nominated to within my company.  It is a huge honor and I’m incredibly excited.  It was the first meeting of a two-year program which is intended to help us build networks with other emerging leaders, and put our energies towards developing ourselves, as well as developing our skills to bring forth the best from those around us.  Being that it was the first meeting with a group who flew in from all over the country, I approached it with a sense of opportunity and promise.

But more interesting to me, as always, is the thematic intersections of my life, reflected in the spaces and places around me.  And so, here there was much fodder for analysis.  Unbeknownst to me, the meeting I was attending fell on heels of the 10-year college reunion of the class ahead of me at Macalester.  I would have been a member of that class had I not taken a year off, and more meaningfully, my boyfriend in college and all his friends were in that year.  Recognizing the temporal, and potentially geographic closeness of so many people who held significance in my life at the same time felt like a melding of energies in the universe.  Had I put two and two together, perhaps I’d have considered extending my trip.  But, alas, in my less than 24-hour stay in the cities I was able to see just three friends and their significant others, which felt pretty good to me.

I stayed with Alex, and her two beautiful babes and her wonderful husband. I visited Fay, whose life path and mine have followed interestingly parallel tracks and who always amazes me with her laser-like ability to pinpoint and verbalize abstract issues, and I saw Molly and Mike and met their gorgeous son.  Molly has always been an encouraging presence and someone who I feel I missed connecting fully with in college, and subsequently need to attempt to connect with at every opportunity to make up for lost time.  In my whirlwind, I saw various pictures of my future in the lives of my friends.  Such a short visit, of course offers only a vignette from which I am probably making overly broad assumptions.  But yet, in the snapshot into these various lives I saw such insight into how to forge a path forward in growing a family, building a career, and developing as a human across the space and time my life offers.  Meanwhile, amidst this group of emerging leaders at my meeting, we learned the program’s goal was more to develop ourselves and learn how we operated, what we uniquely offer, and how to leverage our strengths both in and out of the workplace.

Across the board, the universe seemed to be presenting me with a chance to evaluate my life’s progress and my future, both personally and professionally.  As a new mama, and someone trying to build a career, and someone who wants to grow as a person and pursue dreams and challenges that are independent of my family life or my work, I often feel pulled in many directions.  My visit reminded me that I’m not alone in this struggle and presented case studies of people across multiple parts of my life who are engaging with the same challenges, finding strategies to manage the hard things, finding ways to celebrate the sweet things, and reaching each day to be a better version of themselves.  My visit offered me a set of peers to whom I can turn for consolation and advice as the challenges mount, and who can share in celebration when things go well.  At the juncture of my entry to motherhood, the evolution of my role as a wife, and the occasionally uneasy relationship I have with my leadership opportunities – this visit was a much-needed boost to my psyche.  I had not realized that as a new mom, and someone trying to build a career I was feeling a bit alone in Denver.  My friends there, for all their wonderful qualities, are for the most part, not there yet.  To be in the Cities – in a place I will always associate with my personal evolution into who I am today – and to have been offered the gift of insight into the universality of my struggles?  Well, it was meaningful to me.

So, I suppose that was a long way of saying that I had a good trip.  I small piece of my heart will always reside on the riverside trails on Minneapolis, or looking out over the night-darkened Mississippi from an abandoned railroad bridge.  And in each visit I discover a new iteration of myself reflected back from this place.


Listen folks, I’m admitting right here and right now that I just didn’t get it.  Sure, I held a baby here and there and thought it was cute, then gave it back to its rightful owner.  I enjoyed volunteering at preschools throughout high school, again after college.  I taught and coached skiing.  I led wilderness trips for young adults.  Nobody could ever claim I didn’t like kids. I did.  I do!  But, honestly, I never knew how much more I’d like my OWN kid.

The last three days I’ve been putting in long hours – leaving the house at 7 and not getting back until 9 or so.  This is not my normal routine, and it’s days like this that I recognize this completely new and unfamiliar feeling.  After about 8 hours away, this little urge begins to creep up on me.  It is the tangible deficit of baby time in my life. It’s like an intense craving.  It pulls and twists my insides. I begin daydreaming about squeezing Cody and smothering him with kisses till he erupts in giggles.  I miss him and want to hold him as soon as I see him, until I fall asleep.  And, sometimes I want him to sleep in my bed with me.  I start lamenting that he won’t be a baby forever, and there will come an end to the days where he lets me hold him as long as I need to.  I start to plot out a schedule of family planning to ensure that I don’t have to go too long without a squeezable tiny being.

I never saw THAT coming.

I’m beginning to fear I will have an irrepressible urge to procreate until I can’t anymore. They are just so tiny, and special.  They are amazing little creatures.  And, at least in Cody’s case, they are a constant reminder of all the incredible things in the world that I sometimes take for granted.  He sees it all for the first time, and trying to look at the world through his eyes makes it new and exciting for me as well.

In Australia, this feeling is called being “clucky” and I occasionally joked that I was clucky back when I lived there, because so many people around me were having kids.  But, the thing is, I had no idea what clucky really was – what it really felt like, until now.  It took me having my own baby to have the deep-in-your-gut desire for them.

So, now the spring is here, the sun is out, and I’m head over heels in love with a small being that literally tore open my core when he entered the world.  So much changes when you become a mama, and each day is a new revelation in the depth and breadth of all that the role encompasses.


Last weekend I took part in a special day.  One of my best friends married the man she loves.  Her story is at once inspiring, and crazy.  She met him on a whim last summer, then visited him in Jackson, WY where he lives, then went on a whirlwind canoe trip with him on the Bloodvein River and came back engaged.  When she told me about it I was driving my car and I nearly went off the road.  I teared up with excitement, and then apprehension.  It all was moving so fast, and as a dear friend I felt I needed to both support her and encourage her to slow down at the same time!  I held back some of those feelings, knowing I was projecting my own concerns on to her.  And I’ve watched over the last several months as their relationship has taken shape, evolved, and solidified in the weekend’s swearing of vows.

The whirlwind meeting, courtship, and nuptials is scary to me – because I just can’t and don’t operate that way.  My risk aversion radar is way too strong.  But watching her tread this path, I’m startled at the way I’ve been inspired.  As I watched them dance their first dance, I was touched at their choice of song and the recognition of their myriad similarities. I had watched my dear friend date so many of the wrong men, to see her with someone who cared for her deeply and reflected so many of the things that she values and that make her unique was startling.  I have watched myself and my friends morph and reflect their various partners, and it can be hard to discern when that morphing is truly them, or an attempt to fit into a role that their relationship requires in a given moment.  When you see two people who do truly reflect and suit each other, however, there seems to me to be a clear radiating energy that comes from them.  When I see Britta with Lee, she is more of the Britta I have known since I was 11 than she has been in many of her past relationships.  It makes me smile.

To see all of this magic fall into place in the span of just a few short months has been confronting to my deep belief that hardy relationships take time to settle into meaningful rhythms and mutual understandings.  It has reminded me that hardiness and grit in a relationship can come from a place of commitment in the face of uncertainty – a faith – that together is better than being alone even during challenging times.  Seeing Britta and Lee jump in to a lifelong commitment, reminds me that faith and commitment to see something through can overcome many trials.  As I drove to the mountains where the ceremony was held, I spoke with my Grandpa and he reminded me that he and my Grandma were married for 64 years, but when they wed they’d known each other just six months.  He told me to pass along the message to Britta that “she had a lot to look forward to.”  I smiled, and tears pooled at the corners of my eyes, because he identified my reluctance and reminded me to have faith in them. With his encouragement, I couldn’t help but reframe my mentality. I had, weeks earlier, invited Britta to borrow some pieces of jewelry that I’d worn at my wedding.  She took me up on the offer and borrowed my hair piece, and a bracelet that belonged to my Grandma.  Watching her walk down the aisle, radiant, with the bangle on her wrist I set an intention and a hope for them that a piece of the magic that carried my grandparents through 64 years, the grit and spirit they shared, was conveyed with Britta and Lee through the wearing of that bracelet.

The whole weekend reminded me of how quickly life can change.  As I waited for a drink, I spoke to Britta’s bio mom.  After having heard about her for years, I was thrilled to finally introduce myself.  When I did, she immediately recognized my name, and asked if I was the one who had lived in Australia.  She went on to tell me that she had read my blog and thought I was a wonderful writer.  It touched me to hear that.  I think of my blog as a place to share thoughts that are meaningful to me, but not otherwise relevant to most people outside of my life.  To have someone who doesn’t know me read what I write, and enjoy it enough to say something years later is a real compliment.  It encouraged me to revisit this blog, which has (sadly) gone unattended to while I have wallowed in the fog of baby brain.  I am encouraged to continue to write, and reminded that life’s inertia is not inevitable.  With decisive actions and commitment, with faith, we can each take steps toward what makes us happy and fulfilled.


It’s taken me awhile to get to a place where I felt I could talk through my feelings about Cody’s birth on this blog.  I’m still not sure I can definitely say one thing or another about it, except it changed everything.  I look at the smiling, gentle, happy baby he is and I am utterly astonished at how happy being a mother has made me. Though I am extremely sleep deprived, still 20 pounds heavier than when I got pregnant, and trying to find a balance between work, baby, my husband, and myself, I am still – above all – happy.

I feel as though pregnancy did not in any way prepare me for my feelings here and now, or during labor, or really anywhere in between.  My pregnancy felt surreal to me, and the fact that I would have a baby and be a mother at the end of it all was an abstraction I couldn’t fully comprehend.  Even now, I’m not sure I fully comprehend the ramifications of motherhood, but what I do know is that an element of choice is gone from my life now.  If Cody needs me, I will be there for him.  It’s not an option to be anything but.  Truly.

I hear about Mommy wars and these massive rifts over how best to raise a child and I sometimes wonder how anyone can so rigidly abide by any one parenting style.  I think what it comes down to is more or less what feels right.  And, more and more I’m learning that what feels right and is MY truth, is not always what I’d anticipated – right from the start.

When Rick and I decided to go off birth control and let nature take its course, we really anticipated it could take a while.  In fact, I was so sure that I wasn’t really at all worried that our “trying” coincided with my job search.  Well, neither the job search nor the trying took long to come to fruition.  Before I knew it, I was pregnant and starting my first day at a new job. Scary!  But, wonderful all the same.

My entire life prior to begin pregnant I predicted I’d be an absolutely horrible pregnant person.  I’m a terror when I’m hormonal and when you couple that with feeling fat, there really was no way (I thought) that anyone would want anything to do with me while I was pregnant.  In truth, whatever hormones that were coursing through my body made me mellower and sweeter than I normally am.  I was calm, happy, and rarely moody.  It was shocking – and wonderful.  I’m not going to claim I loved being pregnant, because I did not.  But, I was amazed at how comfortable and happy I was through the process.

I spent my time during my pregnancy preparing for birth.  I read Ina May Gaskin constantly.  I fully embraced the goal of having a natural childbirth without drugs.  I immersed myself in my hypnosis scripts – intent on having a peaceful, drug-free hypnobirth.  In truth, nothing about that plan went the way I anticipated.  Eleven days after my due date I was still pregnant as can be.  I tried everything to bring forth my baby – sex, pineapple, spicy food, evening primrose oil, black and blue cohosh, eggplant, tea from the apothecary, acupuncture, massage, yoga, stairs, dancing, and even the dreaded castor oil.  They all failed me.  I cleaned the house.  I meditated to prepare myself for my baby’s arrival.  When the time came to talk induction I pushed back on my doctor over and over again.  But eventually, 12 days past my due date, I went in for an induction.  It was very sad to me.  I had attached such meaning to the act of birthing my baby and beginning the process with an induction felt like a failure from the start.  Yet, on the flip side, failure or not, I was excited to see what the process would hold for me and eager to get it moving along. Our induction started off on the wrong foot when I requested the cervical softener cervidil in place of cytotec.  The nurse on duty pushed back on me, essentially telling me I was uninformed.  Then she told me about how she induced for both of her babies because she wanted their birth dates to fall on specific days.  I wasn’t impressed.  We were not of a similar mind (which appeared to hold true for all but one of my nurses (and I had about 6)).  Cervidil is administered overnight, and in my case that meant that Rick and I spent the night in the hospital together, which is the least romantic place to spend the last night you’ll ever have with just your husband.  Just sayin’.

Overnight, I began having contractions and by morning they were coming on semi-regularly.  We asked my doctor if we could allow labor to progress naturally, and she said yes. We were thrilled.  We also asked that she massage out some scar tissue on my cervix from a LEEP and colposcopy I’d had several years before which was inhibiting dilation for me.  Once she massaged out the tissue, my cervix popped open to three centimeters after holding steady at a half centimeter for weeks. Internally, I cursed the doctors who never mentioned this side effect during my previous procedures.  This is truly something that women and other doctors should be better informed about given how prevalent LEEPs and colposcopies are to treat unusual cell formations that show up on pap smears.  But, moving forward, my contractions steadily increased in strength though their frequency continued to be irregular.  Before long I opted to try laboring in the tub, where my sister and Rick alternated in reading me hypnosis scripts. We bounced between the tub and bed for a while, my doula came, and before long several hours had passed.  By mid-afternoon they checked me again, but alas my dilation was stalled at 3 cm.  My doctor gave me two choices – break the waters, or begin Pitocin. Because I was group B strep positive, breaking the waters posed more risk, but I REALLY didn’t want pitocin.  We bargained for an hour to walk the halls.  After the hour was up and nothing had changed my Doctor stated playing hardball.  She spent about 10 minutes on the phone with Rick,  mocking us for all the reading we’d done and our strong distaste for Pitocin and interventions.  She threatened to send us home.  She dripped condescension and rudeness.  We all were left with a horrible taste in our mouths over the whole thing.  And after weighing all the options, we decided to try Pitocin at half strength. I labored on Pitocin for 7 hours, during which time my contractions increased in severity tremendously.  I needed all three of my helpers – Rick, Max, and my doula,  to rotate giving me supportive hip squeezes to ease my back labor.  I fell to the ground from pain during some of my contractions.  I uttered these guttural noises I’d never though possible.  I started vomiting from the pain.  Finally, I passed my mucus plug, and then my water broke.  It was such a relief to have at least one part of my labor happen without direct intervention!  Finally, contractions were getting so severe I was sure I needed to use the bathroom.  This, we all took to mean I was in transition – somewhere between 7-10 cm dilated and soon to start the pushing phase.  So, we asked for a pelvic exam only to find out that I was only dilated to about 6 cm.  After 7 hours of laboring on Pitocin, and about 14 hours of contractions before that, I was considering the epidural.  Soon, I was hit with about 5 contractions that just about leveled me.  I looked at Rick and told him that despite all my earlier wishes, I wanted the epidural. If I felt bad now, I didn’t think I could handle transition without it.  So, off they went to line it up – only 30 minutes to wait!  This of course, was the worst 30 minutes of my life. They could hardly get a window to insert the epidural as my contractions bore down hard and unrelentingly.  But alas, soon the sweet epidural kicked in and  though my heart rate dropped and they needed to administer me oxygen, I was the happiest lady around.

And thus began my epic saga of laboring with an epidural – which necessitates a catheter because you’re stuck in bed (even though I could move my legs and kneel, etc.).  I slept for about 3 hours once the epidural took over, but then I was back awake.  At this point I’d been in the hospital about 30 hours from the beginning of my induction. Rick and I were able to steal a few precious moments to ourselves in the middle of the night as everyone else slept.  We lamented the turn of events, but were giddy to finally meet our baby. We continued to labor (slowly) for another 15 hours or so.  I changed positions several times to see if that would help progression.  It didn’t.  Nurses came running in to make sure the baby’s heart rate was steady several times. It was.  They packed me full of a gazillion saline IV bags until my whole body was swollen to twice its size.  Then they pronounced me nearly complete.  9.5 cm dilated about 45 hours from the beginning of my induction.  They warned that the worst was ahead and left us to think, reminding us that the baby could weigh 9 or 10 pounds based on our last ultrasound.  I listened to hypnosis scripts for about an hour and prepared myself to begin pushing when they gave me the go. But, after an hour an armada of nurses entered my room with my doctor. My doctor explained that they were all very worried about me.   My contractions were no longer regular, even on heavy Pitocin.  If I forged ahead, I could be pushing for hours because they determined my baby was asynclitic (head cocked) and posterior.  They said they’d ordered extra blood for fear I’d hemorrhage or need an emergency C-section.  They left me to talk it over, but made sure the c-section consent form was within arm’s reach.

I looked at Rick and my doula and admitted I’d been bearing down for the last hour, hoping to speed things along.  Rather , it left my cervix swollen and less dilated than before.  I was ready to meet my baby, and to stop these interventions which were doing very little.  I was also scared.   I was ready for the C-section.  We agreed to do it, sadly. I signed the forms.

About  a half hour later, I was wheeled into surgery with Rick nervously at my side, discussing whether he would stay with me or the baby in the event something went wrong.   I know the “right” answer should probably be that we both would say go with the baby, but I was relieved to hear him say that if anything went wrong he’d stay with me because “he hasn’t even met the baby.” I was touched and honestly agreed it was right.  It’s funny looking back on this, because we care so much for Cody – it’s hard to believe that just a few months ago we would have sort of abandoned him in this way.

When they got me into the surgery room we went over the process of things, and I got some drugs, and they explained how everything would happen.  Before I knew it, I could feel tugging and pulling in my abdomen, which was surreal feeling – but didn’t hurt.  Then they warned me it would feel like an elephant was standing on my chest for a few moments, and it did! But, before long I could hear the commotion of the staff as they pulled Cody out.  “He’s so big!” they exclaimed!  And then, ” Oh my gosh, he’s peeing on everyone!” It was disconcerting hearing the joy in people’s voices as this baby was “born” while meanwhile I lay behind a blue curtain, unable to feel or experience this supposedly life-changing moment.  I felt a few tears well up, more because my emotions were so mixed at this point.  I felt confused and the process was so surreal – yet I was supposed to be joyful at the birth of my child.  Instead, I was confused and, apparently, hemorrhaging.  They held Cody over the curtain for me to see – this wriggling, slimy thing.  He was so skinny and his head was so big!  His eyes were wide and alert.  I remember being shocked that this was the being I’d housed for nine months, but touched at his smallness and tenacity.  They took him for a moment to weigh and measure him, and came back to put him on my chest – a difficult feat with a curtain blocking most of my chest.  Instead, Rick held him near my head and we talked to him – which seemed to awaken a bit of recognition in him.  He seemed to know that our voices were the ones he’d been hearing for so many months – and his wails softened and quieted.  We all observed each other in awe.

As all this was happening, a small commotion was going on.  I was bleeding a lot.  And my blood pressure was dropping.  To the credit of the staff, nobody acted as though this was scary, but they gave me a few meds to help stop the bleeding.  These made me feel like I was freezing on the table, and soon I began to shiver and my teeth even began to chatter.  They couldn’t give me anything but a paper cover to help me stay warm.  It was so uncomfortable.  And, they took the baby away briefly to clean him off and let the staff stitch me back up.  Around here my memories get foggy – another thing nobody warned me about.   The anesthesia they give you, though it allows you to be conscious during the birth, really messes with your memory.  As a result, my first few hours with Cody were a hazy blur.  Rick has filled in some of the blanks, but I don’t remember much.  We were taken to a recovery room and the nurse there seemed more interested in the Cowboys game than me.  I breastfed for the first time, and had NO idea what I was doing.  Eventually someone – I think a pediatric nurse, came in and gave me some pointers – then things began to go more smoothly.  Cody latched well, and immediately.   None of the surgical staff or doctor’s came by to explain the procedure or see me.  Nobody told me I hemorrhaged.  It felt lonely and sterile. They also wouldn’t let my family in for almost an hour.   So, that’s a cesarean birth for you.  Nothing I intended or expected, and nothing I hope to experience again.  I try not to think about it.  In fact for the first several weeks I struggled to even say that Cody was “born” opting for the more accurate and significantly more awful, “Cody was cut out of me.”  I’m still weighing whether to attend the ICAN cesarean birth support group meetings that happen once a month.  Haven’t gone yet, and as it fades into the distance it seems less and less likely. But I definitely see the need.  This surgery is overused, and in my opinion, done poorly and without regard for the feelings and experience of the mother and father.  My incision healed badly and opened back up a few weeks after my birth.  It was hell trying to handle a newborn after abdominal surgery.  It just sucked a lot.

To this day I’m not sure whether the C-section was needed.  I know he was posterior and asynclitic and those conditions often result in cesareans. But could it have been different?  I still don’t know if things would have progressed better if I’d resisted the system more or if they had identified that he was posterior earlier.  I wonder often whether my next deliveries will end the same way and whether I’ll ever know the experience of birthing my child the natural way.  When I think hard about it, it makes me very upset.  I try not to think about it too much.  Which, is easy because having a newborn totally upends your life, especially if you’re also healing from a cesarean.  There isn’t a lot of time, or mental capacity, to reflect.

It’s odd.  I expected that labor to go smoothly and to be the one part of pregnancy that I would handle well.  In reality, it was a disaster.  But everything before and after has been smooth sailing.  Cody and I have rocked at breastfeeding.  He never even lost weight in the hospital they way most babies do.  His pediatrician told me that some moms make milk, and some make cream.  I am in the latter group.  I know that sounds like I am bragging.  I am.  It is something I feel good about, when everything else about his delivery went totally off-plan and against my wishes.  I am clinging to this one piece as evidence of success in carrying out this transition to motherhood.  I thought I would suck at breastfeeding and that it would be really hard for me.  It was hard, and incredibly painful in the first few weeks.  I got a blocked duct, mastitis, and then it turned into an abscess.  It’s been hard for me – but Cody has been packing on the pounds and we have both had such an incredible opportunity to bond. I love breastfeeding and hope we can continue for a long time.

Now, 11 weeks from his birth, I have this perfect baby.  He laughs and smiles and babbles baby words at me all the time.  I am so smitten with this little person who leaves me absolutely sleep-deprived, unable to fit into my clothes, covered in spit-up and poop,  and exhausted.   During the first few weeks it felt like the stress of a newborn could tear Rick and me apart – we were so tired and unable to come up for air, so to speak.  Now, we have established a routine.  We can balance our needs and make time for each other.  We both feel blessed and have found a renewed sense of purpose in our lives.  Cody has been a life-changer and made me totally re-evaluate all my assumptions, but yet here I am, happier than ever.




Sweetness to me

Light filters softly through our bamboo blinds as I slowly became aware of myself enveloped in grey flannel sheets, curled on my side, warm in the embrace of a thick down comforter.  My eyes flutter open, and I look down to see, nuzzled in the hollow of my  body, a perfect nearly bald head pressed against my chest, delicate hands and arms loosely grasping my shirt contentedly in sleep.  I stare for a moment — at times the adjustment to this reality takes a second — and then I listen for the soft gurgle of his breath.  There it is. There he is.  This little, delicate human, snuggled into the hollow of my chest and belly, next to my heart – a spot he’s already called home for many months.

Our mornings look like this. Rick leaves us early in the dark, often as I feed the baby.  We say sad parting words, for it really is a tragedy that Rick must leave us each day to be with other children.  We finish our feed, and snuggle into a short morning sleep for a few more hours.  Addie curls in the crook of my bent knees, Cody curls in the crook of my body.  Soon we fall into a rhythm of slowed breathing and drift to sleep for a few more blessed hours, joining legions of other women through the ages who, exhausted and in love, collapse into a sweet delicate sleep curled around their babies. Now, as I type, he inhabits the same space in a different form.  Tied snugly to my chest in a wrap, he sleeps peacefully. Looking down I am struck, as always, by the perfection of his skin – a pink and ivory expanse, criss-crossed with pale blue veins on his skull.  I know his future will be filled with sun-soaked days and that this perfect ivory skin will soon be populated with hundreds of freckles.  Now, it is a doll’s face I look at – utter symmetry, wide cheeks, a button nose, beautifully curled rose lips.  The palest of blond eyebrows, and slightly darker lashes, growing longer by the day.  In sleep, his perfection absolutely stuns me. I wonder often, how two normal-looking people could create what lies here before me.  Awake – his perfection morphs into something more like wonder.  I stare at his bright blue eyes.  Since the day he was born, they have tracked on people and objects displaying an alertness that I think both his parents lack.  He wrinkles his nose, or raises his eyebrows over and over as he breastfeeds with each gulp. He smiles when you scratch under his chin or make a silly face.  He cries when he is hungry or needs a diaper change, but rarely for any other reason.  In fact, I’ve noticed he seems mainly to cry when he is left alone – almost out of boredom or loneliness.  And I’m both proud and touched that these seem to be the main reasons he needs me – entertainment and the simple act of loving and touching him, holding him to my body where our breathing and heartbeats are closer together as they were before he was born.

I’m not sure that motherhood changes people.  I think motherhood brings out what has always been there, by putting a face and name on something that probably has long been latent in many of us.  For me, it is a softness that I don’t always show.  It is a sweet, protective, caring side that only those close to me ever really see.  I have always been an older sister, a caretaker and teacher to my siblings.  I have always deeply loved animals. The logical leap required to know I’d take to motherhood is small.  But yet, I am amazed by the whole thing. Amazed at the naturalness of it – the instinctiveness that comes from within, and also the memories that come back to me of my childhood and helping my mom with my two younger sisters.  I’m amazed at the joy I take in staring at Cody as he sleeps.  I’m amazed that Rick leaves in the morning and comes back in the evening and my day has disappeared between diaper changes, feeds, and snuggling with my snoring baby.  Nothing gets done, and though it bothers me, I don’t want to put him down to do something else.  (Thus, the hiatus in my blogging.)

I sing him all the lullabies I know.  I have revisited every camp song I’ve ever sung.  On my trip back from Telluride with him, he cried for the last hour, despite multiple stops to feed him and change his diaper.  He was bored and sick of driving, so I sang to him.  It was all that would quiet him down.  And soon I ran out of songs.  So, I sang the Star Spangled Banner over, and over, and over again until I nearly lost my voice.  Each time I stopped, he would slowly begin to fuss again.  And so I sang on.  And this is motherhood.  It is truly giving up yourself in so many ways, but I hope to do it with grace.  At times I struggle to accept all the changes – I have had a hard go of it, physically: 47 hour labor, a C-section, 4 days in the hospital to recover, then a blocked duct, mastitis, and abscess, breastfeeding pains, my C-section incision got infected and re-opened. I have had to go on two courses of antibiotics. My teeth are suffering, and I may have broken a bone in my foot while walking. Pregnancy is no joke.  It is HARD on your body.  Bringing someone new into the world is, I suppose, a responsibility not to be taken lightly or underestimated.

When I first saw Cody, held above me on an operating table – a slimy, wriggling little thing – I didn’t immediately fall in love.  But when I looked into his eyes as Rick held him near me while they stitched me up, and saw this little guy just trying to make it, he touched my heart.  Each day as we have built our relationship together, I fall more in love with the little man he is turning out to be.  A bright, alert, smiling child who wants to be held and loved and snuggled.  He makes me happy to come home, and gives me drive and renewed purpose.  He is sweetness embodied.  When I hold him, he holds me back and I know he needs me.  I am his mom.  It is the most special, exultant thing I could hope for.

2014 Review

2014 has been a banner year in my life in many ways.  It wasn’t 100% good, but it sure resulted in mega growth and learning – which is really the best anyone can hope for I think!

This year I can tick off several wonderful things that I’m very proud of.

1) Rick and I spent January in Colombia traveling, going to Spanish language school, and finishing up my Anusara yoga teacher training.  It was fun to travel together (as always) and we learned a new style of traveling as we managed to balance our responsibilities at home while we were enjoying a new country.

2) We got a puppy!  Adelaide is the light of our lives.  Honestly, I have always been a dog lover but having our own puppy to love and raise together has been so much more rewarding than I anticipated.  She makes us smile, unites us in frustration at times, and is a joy to be around.  She sleeps in our bed, and I have to admit that I sometimes am not sure who I prefer to snuggle with more!  She brings such happiness to our lives.  We love her to pieces.

3) Rick and I settled in Denver. We really weren’t sure whether coming back to Denver was the right move for us for a long time.  We toyed with the idea of living a more rural life in Montana or elsewhere, but when it came down to it Denver called us back.  We settled into Rick’s home with the initial intention of selling it, but as we fixed it up we fell more and more in love.  It’s a gorgeous old 4 bedroom place in the heart of the City.  I can walk to work, we have a daycare for Addie within 3 blocks, we found an in home daycare less than a block away for Baby Frankie, the supermarket, park, and light rail are all within easy walking distance, and the house itself is pretty cool. Our bedroom has French doors, exposed brick, a yoga space, and a giant closet.  We have set up an adorable nursery for the baby, we have lots of room for guests, and we are beginning to make plans for a major kitchen renovation.  We are happy to have made the choice to stay.  In fact, just a few weeks ago the job I interviewed for in Helena in March called me to see if I’d be interested in a new role there before they posted it publicly.  In reflecting, as much as it sounds awesome to live there, we recognized how happy we are right here and were able to turn down the offer without too much second thought.

4) We got pregnant! Rick and I talked for a while about trying for kids and I was certain the process would take some time.  They say the average time to conceive is around 6 months and I was convinced it would go slower than that for me!  Well, we were ahead of the curve and got pregnant more or less on the first try.  It was a shock at first and it took me some time to get my head around the reality that we were having a baby – together!  But, thankfully gestation takes 9 months (or in my case, more like 10) and I have had time to welcome the idea of a baby into my life.  As I write now, we are ten days past our due date of December 22nd.  I just finished my second labor induction acupuncture session.  I have become well versed in the various holistic methods for inducing labor – believe me, we have tried it ALL!  We will have a baby within the week, one way or another as we are scheduled for induction if nothing happens in the next two days.  As much as I have mixed feelings about induction, I have to admit that I’m anxious to meet this baby and to no longer be pregnant.  So, I bounce on my birth ball and hope for the baby to decide to come the good old-fashioned way, but I know he’ll be here soon regardless.  I’m loving Rick and Addie extra hard because soon there will be one more in the house to love!

5) A new job! I took on a new role as the public involvement coordinator for the Denver office of HDR engineering.  I have felt quite challenged by the role and my desire to prove myself before going on maternity leave.  I look forward to new challenges when I return and I hope that I continue to grow and find new learning opportunities in this roles.

There were other parts of the year that challenged me greatly, I have felt a strong pressure to prove myself as a mom, employee, friend, and wife. I know that I often put quite a bit of pressure on myself to do it all, and I’d like 2015 to bring a renewed focus on doing things for myself because they make me happy.  That includes running a second marathon with my best friend, coming back to yoga more seriously, and embracing my newest role as a mom.