Archive for June, 2008

In-laws

June 28, 2008

I’m trying to get to the bottom of this: what is it about in-laws? It seems to be a nearly universal phenomenon, that no matter how congenial they are as people in and of themselves, in-laws as in-laws inevitably annoy. Caro wrote about this recently with an eloquent economy, while Tara has also documented some particularly difficult moments.

What has caught my attention about this phenomenon is how differently T. and I feel about the same objective events, but how similarly we feel about what is categorically similar overall. In other words – I quite enjoyed having my parents around for a month (by and large), but he was on the verge of going postal about two weeks in. Conversely, he quite enjoys sharing the baby with his parents, while I basically can’t wait for them to leave.

This despite the fact that, generally speaking, our respective in-laws are good people, and nobody (so far) has done anything particularly objectionable. In fact they’ve all tried very hard to be as helpful as possible and respectful of our space. It’s just having them around that pleases the one partner while annoying the other.

My theory at the moment is that this has to do with the attachments we form with our own parents as infants and small children (I’ve been reading a lot about attachment parenting), and how at a very profound level these persist through adulthood. I find comfort and peace in the presence of my parents just through the complete familiarity of their voices, faces, mannerisms. I imagine that T. feels the same way about his parents, a thought which helps me deal with the irritation.

How well do you get along with your in-laws (if you have them)?

p.s. I’m wickedly amused by the fact that I wrote this post while they were sitting across the room…and feeling appropriately guilty since the fact that they were holding little V. freed me up to type with both hands…

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June 26, 2008

Good grief, long time no post. I read the blogs every day, but don’t always comment since it’s hard to type one-handed. Right now T. is changing little V.’s diaper.

I’m working on the post about our Doula, but it’s taking awhile because I feel like the quality of the post has to match her impressiveness and that takes more thought and time.

Overall, all is well. My parents return to Peru on Monday; I’ll miss them (T. won’t. as much!).

Priestess of Birthing

June 24, 2008

So I googled our doula, and learned that she has a PhD from Harvard! Actually I guess I knew about the degree, just not the conferring university.

It’s odd to reconcile that factoid with the memory of her rubbing my feet in the holding area pre-op. Recently one afternoon T. persuaded me to attend a lecture on campus while he watched Valerie. I felt so disjointed sitting in that lecture hall – it’s been all baby all the time round here for the past few weeks, and it felt so strange to be in a space completely void of anything baby-related. The lecture was quite good, and I’m glad I went. But even so the image of her little face was present to my mind the whole time, and the second I heard a faint squawk outside I was out the door in a flash (she was fine). But I digress. My point here is that the academic world and the world of motherhood feel very separate to me right now, and I see that I have work to do in terms of reconciling these different facets of my identity now.

But back to L., our doula.

I can’t say enough wonderful things about her. Hiring L. was the single best decision we made through this whole process. Ironically, the original reason that I suggested to T. that we look for a doula was because I read in Birthing From Within that the mere presence of a doula in the birthing room reduced the rates of epidurals and cesareans. I had by this point decided that the most important thing to me about the birth was that the baby not be separated from me afterwards. Mostly this was because when I was born, my mom and I were separated for a long time (I don’t know how long exactly but long enough that she felt very distressed about it) and to this day she expresses distress about the memory. So, since a cesarean would necessarily mean that baby and I would be separated soon after the birth, it became a priority to me to avoid that.

Funny, huh?

Anyway, we only interviewed two people before deciding on the second one, L. We hadn’t signed a contract or anything, so when I was hospitalized and as it became increasingly certain that I was going to give birth by cesarean, I began to wonder what her role was going to be and whether it made sense at all to continue to work with her.

But this never seemed to be a question for her. And ultimately, I feel that her support was possibly the single most important factor in my being ok, at the end, with how things panned out. Here’s an exerpt from an e-mail from her, dated May 7 (emphases added):

There are reasons for the way things unfold as they do, and sometime we can only see them later, and sometimes not at all.

… If cesarean is in the cards, let’s think now, of the things that feel like they will make it the sacred journey you are supposed to have, even if it’s not the one you imagined. My feeling is that when birth takes place with integrity, when (for example) you have a cesarean because you need one and not because it’s Friday or the doctor is impatient or afraid, it can be incredibly transforming and beautiful, even when it takes place in the OR. So, while you have your quiet moments of sitting upside down, maybe you can meditate on your journey to bringing your baby to the other side and the things that will give it the integrity you want, and the reverence it deserves as a mama crosses over.

Sacred, integrity, and reverence were words never once spoken by the doctors or nurses – I know, it’s not part of the job description – but what L. did for us was pure ministry, in the most spiritual sense of the word. She was the only person caring for me through this whole process who seamlessly adressed all aspects of it – medical, emotional, spiritual, physical – in a way that made me feel like a whole person instead of an assemblage of measurable symptoms.

L is the reason I was able to be present, mentally and emotionally, at the moment of Valerie’s birth, to feel joy instead of only anxiety. And this was a gift not only to me and T. but to my baby as well.

ups and downs

June 16, 2008

I look at her face as she sleeps and feel a love so sharp it hurts.

This is important at 5:30 a.m. after three hours of feeding and burping and holding her, when her dependence and vulnerability feel so relentless that I just want to cry.

She is sweetness and light made flesh.

Incision

June 2, 2008

I’m coming to terms with my incision, particularly as it heals. On my doula’s* recommendation, I ordered this kit online and the scents are wonderful. Rubbing the salve on every day reminds me to care for and nurture myself and my healing process. Ok, that sounds incredibly sanctimonious – but there it is – something that needs to happen. During my low moments the thought that I will always have this scar brings me to tears. Not for cosmetic reasons, but for the reminder of the losses involved in this birth. Honestly, those losses are so far outweighed by the joy that is my little baby girl, by a very long shot – but at the same time, still there. I was reading this post on Trish’s blog (go over and congratulate her on the birth of little Robbie!!) and really relating to the part that starts “I feel cheated…” (scroll down a bunch) although of course my situation was much less severe, and I did get to experience a lot of the things that she didn’t. But not labor. I’ll get over it. But this “loss” is what the incision reminds me of.

Enough negativity! Let’s look at more cute pictures instead!

* Next post coming up: in praise of our doula