Abraham, Rachel, Soren and Liam. Our life together in Smalltown, Idaho.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Conversation

Me: I heard a story on the radio about a lady who gave birth to eight babies this week.
Abe: Yeah, I heard that too.
Me: What in the world do you do with EIGHT infants?
Abe: Give them away. Like puppies.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Hypnotizin' Those Babies

Some people have lists of things to do before they die: travel to India, complete a triathlon, make an appearance on an NPR show...I am one of those people. In fact, the above items might be on my own list of things to do before I die. Also on my list--item #3.2--is the following: "Give birth naturally." Yes, it's true: for all my cynical talk about natural childbirth, and all the acclaim I give the Holy Epidural (blessed be its named forever), I must confess that I really, really want to experience a drug-free birthing.

I want this for a number of reasons: First, it seems like a neat way to connect with my own womanhood as well as with the billions of women--from all time periods, from all cultures, from all belief systems; big, small, medium, ugly, beautiful, and in-between-- who have borne children. Second, I like to do hard things. Third-- well, maybe I should move to a new paragraph for the third reason...

Third, I feel that the way that pregnancy and childbirth have been medicalized in this country is ridiculous. I'm not going to go so far as to say that the "medical model of childbirth" is a horrible thing, or that it's doing irreparable damage to women or babies, but I do believe that it has overly complicated a simple and natural process, and that it does harm women and newborn infants to some degree on a regular basis. Many unnecessary C-sections are performed every year because of medical interventions that complicate labor and delivery...and because of medical personnel who are impatient with some people's naturally slower birth processes. (Click here for more information about rising Cesarean section rates in the United States.)

But, anyway, I bring this all up to make a confession that I find a little bit embarrassing: I'm taking a Hypnobabies class. Yes, that's right. I plan to use self-hypnosis to eliminate/reduce any birthing-related "discomfort" (I'm not allowed to use the "p" word that rhymes with "rain") and speed along my beeaauutiiiifulll (this is the way the lady on my CD set says it) "birthing time" (I'm also not supposed to use the "l" word that rhymes with "neighbor.") Less parenthetically, I'm learning techniques that will help this childbirth experience move along more quickly and comfortably.

Anyway, as you may be able to tell, I'm still a little skeptical about the whole thing, which bothers me. I feel that there is no room for skepticism when you're using your brain to alter your physical sensations. But take last night, for instance: I was sitting in the passenger's seat on the way back from a drive to SLC. I was tired, which means that my RLS was making my feet all twitchy and crazy, and my back was really bothering me. I thought to myself: "I know! I'll just use my hypnobirthing techniques to "breathe" my "powerful anesthesia" to the parts of my body that are uncomfortable! If I anesthetize my feet/back, I won't twitch/ache anymore!" So I tried breathing that powerful anesthesia, but my feet still twitched and my back still ached. This made me a little bit sad. It made me feel that I maybe should have saved the $140.00 I spent on the course and just put it toward an epidural.

Beautiful Birthing Time, here I come? I sure hope so.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Happy Birthday, Soren!

The highlight of Soren's birthday was his birthday song. He absolutely lit up when everyone started singing to him. He turned this way, then that, looking at the panoramic view of all of these grown-ups smiling at and singing a song....just for him. When we finished the song, he said, "Mer?" ("More") So we sang to him again. And again he requested "More?" So we sang to him one last time. This video captures his face during the final serenade, which is still cute, but not even close to matching the sheer joy that he expressed during the first round.

Soren's Birthing Time


Since I talked a little about Soren's birth in the previous post, I thought I'd do a little commemorative post about the occasion, as I don't believe I was an active blogger at the time he came into the world.

Like I said, it took several uncomfortable hours to bring the little ninito into the world.

But Abe was an excellent support.

And we both took a post-epidural nap.

Soon this little tyke arrived, making the months of morning sickness, nights of frequent urination, and days of labor all worth it.

I think this is what Abe has in mind when he speaks of our newborn firstborn being less than attractive.

Though he did seem to like him anyway, in spite of his alleged physical flaws.

And now he's a two-year-old. Unbelievable.
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Saturday, January 03, 2009

Newsletter: Month 24

Dear Soren,

Before you were born, I worried that I wouldn't like you. I'd sit and look at my swollen belly and wonder what in the world I was thinking when I decided to have a baby. I don't even really like most kids, I'd think to myself. I don't even like kids! I feared you'd come and I'd resent you and think you were ugly and loathe everything you had changed about my life. Everyone assured me that this wouldn't be the case, but I didn't believe them. I was seriously worried. And then, on December 30, 2006, I started having regular birthing contractions. And I was in labor for the next forty-five hours. Maybe that doesn't sound like a whole lot to you, but let me tell you: it was. It was two consecutive nights without sleep, plus twenty-four hours of what the natural birth community likes to refer to as "intense pressure sensations" and I like to refer to as "something akin to having your entrails stirred and mutilated by a hot poker." But at the end of all that suffering, there was an epidural, followed by a sunrise, then a little nap, then fifteen minutes of pain-free pushing, and then....miracle of miracles...there you were. A little bald purple head popped out into the afternoon sunshine and started looking around. And even before you'd even wriggled your little way all the way out into the delivery room, I had fallen in love. And every day for the past two years, I've fallen a little harder.

Your dad and I will talk about that first day with you, and he'll usually say something like, "It was great to have him, but he sure was weird-looking." And I'll say, "Are you kidding me? He was beautiful!" And he'll say, "Rach, sweetie, he's cute now, but at the time....well....he was purple. And his face was all scrunched up. And he had a serious cone-head. " And again, I'll repeat, "Well, maybe, but that doesn't matter. He was beautiful!" And we'll even sometimes pull out the pictures of our little newborn baby, look at them, look at each other, and simultaneously say, "See? I told you!"

This morning you decided that it was time to go somewhere. With your current verbal skills, communicating this to me involved repeating, "Go? Go? Go?" multiple times while pointing to the front door. I was wearing my most hideous sweatpants and an ugly pink t-shirt and had not been planning on going anywhere, but your big blue eyes, like your father's, have a persuasive capacity that I am not easily able to withstand, so I relented and said that we could go for a little walk outside.

The walk morphed into a visit to the little boy (Koen) who lives next door. He is also two. You were a little shy about the visit and very sweetly acquiesced every time Koen took a toy away from you, handing it over and looking for something new to play with. But then Koen started hitting. What broke my heart was the look on your face when Koen would suddenly-- and without malice, really, just a sudden impulse-- wack you as hard as he could. I've tried so hard to surround you with gentle kindness, with an environment of love. Except after we've been bitten particularly hard, your father and I have always touched you gently. We work to emphasize the importance of touching nicely. And for the most part, you try to be gentle. You don't always understand, and sometimes you're just plain unempathetic, but for a two-year-old, I feel that you do pretty well. So when Koen hit you, for a second you would just stand there, looking surprised and hurt and heartbroken, and then crumple into tears and run into my arms. This made me want to cry. It was a reminder that I won't be able to keep you safe and little forever. I hate that it is inevitable that your innocence will slowly be broken down by the harsh realities of living in this world. I want you to live forever and ever with that crystalline shine in your eyes, with that glowing trust in your own safety, in the confidence that everyone around understands your worth and loves you. As I watched you play with this little boy, I worried that you would pick up on his behavior and start hitting him back. But you didn't. I hope that this is the way that you one day deal with all of the disappointments you will encounter in your interactions with humanity: that you will discover that a great many people are cruel, apathetic, self-centered, sarcastic....but that you won't even consider the possibility that you, too, could become like them. That you will continue to strive to be kind, aware, open, charitable. (And also come to your Mama for comfort and hugs.)

All month long I plague people with stories of your cuteness. And then I sit down to write these newsletters and they've all flown away. But these are the things that come to mind right now:

-Your vocabulary has really grown this month. You've begun to take more risks in attempting to say words that you understood before but couldn't/wouldn't pronounce. My favorite is that you call raisins "Ceecee," which is the same thing, as you might recall, that you call Jesus. You must find raisins truly divine. I also adore the way you request hugs: "Uck?," ask for more: "Mer?," and praise your own accomplishments: "Yeeeeaaaah!"

-You've taken an interest in the potty, which you refer to as the "Peepee." Whenever one of us mentions to you that we are going to "put our peepees in the potty," you always run to the bathroom gate and start removing your pants and diaper. I let you sit on your little toilet on these occasions, but the pottying act has yet to coordinate with the brief moments you spend sitting on the seat. I may start pushing this more heartily with you next month. On the other hand, it might be best if I wait until Liam has been around for a few months and things have settled down. I just don't want to miss any valuable windows of potty-training readiness.
-For some reason that I can't remember, you've begun joining me during my morning bath this month. I've been bathing instead of showering during this pregnancy because standing up for long periods leaves me breathless. Bathtime had become a special mommy-only time in the morning, in which I would bask in the water and periodically call out, "Soren? You still alive?" To which you would always reply, "Yeah!" So when you decided you wanted to join me, and I decided I would let you, I thought I would resent the loss of this alone time. On the contrary, your company has enlivened bathtime and made it even more fun. Now it's a special Mommy-Soren time. We play with bath toys (it is particularly fun to drive your little red bus over the cliff of my belly), sing songs, and splash. This morning we played a funny game that involved me peeking down at you from behind the mound that is your little brother Liam. You found this to be profoundly hilarious.
-Which reminds me: you have a delightful laugh. It is very full and round and hearty. I wonder if you will grow up to have a booming voice like the men on my mom's side of the family. Right now your voice is little and makes me think of the voice you might hear on an elf or a sprite or a brownie. I, of course, think it is sweeter than the voice of an angel.
-You love books, but not for the stories. You love them as a source of information. You are happy to spend large chunks of time on my lap with a stack of books on hand, pointing to pictures and learning new words. You love to make connections with the things you see in your books and the things you see in the world around you. For example, one morning you found a picture of a woman in a book. You showed the book to me, pointing at the lady and saying, "Mommy!" You then pointed at me and declared, "Mommy!" You were beaming.

-You take a profound joy in organizing and sorting things. You love to line things up. You sort your blocks by shape. I wonder, particularly in reflecting back on this summer, when you would insist on touching each pine bush in a neighbor's yard every time we passed in the stroller, if you've maybe got a little obsessive-compulsive disorder. Although if cleanliness is any indication, we don't have anything to worry about.

-You are at the lovely age in which all small children adore their mothers. I love to be your source of joy and comfort. We mutually light up when the other enters the room; that's a fun feeling.

You are my little darling. I'm so glad we've had these two years together. Happy birthday, baby.




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