Posted in Fragile Life, Holidays, Milestone Moments

Anthem

maia-flore-1

It was an unseasonably warm day, much like today, but in 1999, when weather like this was so rare as to be a miracle.

I waited to pick up a pregnancy test until after my hair appointment that, not wanting to give up my annual birthday ritual of highlights, but knowing that I would, if there had been a someone, to consider, inside.

A year had passed without two lines on a stick.

My first miscarriage was six-years earlier.In May of 1993.
The second–in November–of the same year, on the day of Uncle Joe’s funeral.
It snowed.

A son had come two years later, and now a second soul was knocking on the door, but I hadn’t found the key.

I stopped at Rite Aid with my fresh highlights and purchased this month’s pregnancy test.
I stopped at the Post Office too.
A yellow notification card.
A package.
A high school friend. A cd. Stevie Nicks.

Once home, I peed on a stick. I pushed play.
I called my husband. And my sisters.
No one was there.

I pushed play again, and hit the repeat button, and turned up the volume and opened the French doors and stepped outside, into the yard, onto grass, instead of snow, and danced and twirled and laughed with the mountains and the woods and the sky. In rapture.

It would be months before this song became an anthem.
He was born just in time.
A week early.

She held him in her arms before she died.
His life and this song became our balm.

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Posted in Archives, Fragile Life, New Mother

miscarriage

(from my journal, 1993)

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Dear Someone,

Dear anyone!

I’m looking for you to cry out.

I anguish.

I hurt.

I suffer.

The world is beautiful.
I don’t see it.

You are kind.
I won’t feel it.

Dreams come true.
I don’t need them.

The music sings to me.
I can’t hear it.

I’m locked inside this
suffering mind

trapped in pain
wrapped up in anguish

and I don’t know where the
answers are

can’t see to look
can’t feel to find
can’t hear to listen.

Posted in Fragile Life, Insight, New Mother

My Homebirth–at the hospital

Beardsley (visipix.com)

I never dreamed of a homebirth, never even imagined it or knew it was something that people chose to do. I had been brought up in a medical family–with three generations of allopathic physicians, and I assumed births took place as they should–in the hospital. This is where my mother gave birth to each of her nine children, and where she enjoyed the few days break from keeping house and caring for a newborn (not to mention siblings.)

By the time I got around to wanting a child, I was the same age my mother was as a parent of four. Having grown up in this large family, “blessed” as the eldest, I was in no rush to become a parent. I had my share of diaper changing and late night feedings by age of fourteen, and I had few illusions about the institution of motherhood; and loads of skepticism; that is until I was denied entry into this vocation.

Up until that time, I had viewed motherhood as some necessary evil, some hurdle I had to cross in order to pass into proper adulthood. Thus, I took it for granted that motherhood would be there waiting in the wings, whenever I was ready to succumb.

I was somewhere in my mid-twenties, unmarried, when it hit me. BABY HUNGER. All of the sudden, I HAD to have a baby. It didn’t matter that we were still renting and that my boyfriend had just gone back to school. The urge came on so strong and so unreasonably that I had to restrain myself from thoughts of swiping one.

As the primary breadwinner, it was completely impractical for me to get pregnant until my partner had his degree so instead I read everything I could on pregnancy and motherhood and being READY.

During that time we planned a wedding and fantasized about relocating to the mountains and living in a log home.

At 28, I couldn’t wait any longer so I convinced my husband to “start trying” before he graduated–since babies took nine months to be born anyway.

A year later, we still weren’t pregnant–and when we finally did conceive, I miscarried at the end of the first trimester. I hadn’t known that that was a possibility either.

Suddenly plans and jobs and certainty made less sense to me. We left our home at the shore and moved to the mountains of Vermont where we conceived–right away–only to miscarry again at 6 weeks.

When we were emotionally prepared to try a third time, we knew we needed something different–and that’s how we found Mary. Mary was a Naturopathic physician and a midwife–but mostly she was smart and caring and attentive.

Although she only attended homebirths, Mary agreed to work with us into the second trimester when she would turn us safely over to an MD. By that time however, we had fallen in love with her–and couldn’t imagine anyone else delivering our long-awaited baby–even if that meant we had to have a homebirth.

This third pregnancy was just as tricky as the previous ones–with a month of bleeding in the first trimester, early contractions in the second, and a challenging delivery in the third.

My son’s labor began at home on a rainy Tuesday morning–two weeks earlier than expected. It started with a sharp kick and the breaking of waters, followed by minute-long contractions, five-minutes apart. By the time the midwife arrived, I had already dilated 8 centimeters.

It was then that Mary discovered that the baby was breech–so she made arrangements for us to be transported over the mountain to the nearest hospital.

When I was rolled into the Emergency Room, the staff couldn’t believe that I was in labor–let alone in transition. With Mary at my side, I was calm and present and clear despite the mounting anxiety.

After some negotiations, they permitted Mary and my husband to accompany me into the operating room where my exquisitely planned homebirth was transformed into an emergency c-section.

The doctor on call had to yank my son out of the birth canal–along with all of my preconceived notions about how motherhood and I would become one.

Posted in Milestone Moments

A Love Story Stretched Thin by Time

Kelly Salasin

It felt like I waited a lifetime for my son, though it was truly only a handful of years. Once my clock began ticking though, each minute without this child was achingly painful, and each month without conception was another grave disappointment. Then, two promising pregnancies were followed by the devastation of miscarriage.

When a child did take root in my belly, past the six-week mark, and then over the steep hurdle of the first trimester, I broke down in tears- finally allowing myself to believe, just a little bit, that I might get to be a mother.

I loved those months with a baby inside me, feet tucked up under my ribs- both of us competing for space. I remember lazy summer afternoons lying in bed waiting for him to “appear” on the stage of my belly, and my delight with each passing of an elbow or foot.

My labor came on fast and early one rainy August morning. The baby was breech- also a surprise- as we had planned to birth at home. I dilated the last couple of centimeters in the back of an ambulance as it climbed over the mountain to the nearest hospital. Once again I felt the fear that I might not get to be a mother after all.

By the time I was wheeled into the operating room, the baby was fully engaged, and they literally had to tug him out of me. I only saw him for a moment before they whisked him away to the examining table. Two hours passed before they would release me from recovery so that I might hold this long-awaited child who looked so familiar.

Later when the nurses offered to take him “so that I could get some rest”, I refused. I didn’t want to spend another moment apart from him, ever again. I held him in my arms as much as I could, and I was agonized to find that hospital protocol prevented him from spending the night in my bed because of the anesthesia I had received. I lay awake most of night gazing at him in the glass bassinet beside me.

On the third day, I resigned myself to letting the nurses take him for a bath so that I might have a shower myself. As the water poured over my empty belly, I began to cry. I felt like I had lost the sweet friend inside. I began to panic and had to very firmly remind myself that the baby that I had been waiting for was just down the hall.

My legs were still wobbly from the surgery, but I hurried back as fast as I could to be certain he was real. Only he wasn’t there. I waited a few moments and then called the nurses who told me that he was under the warming lights and would be back soon. The seconds without him passed like hours, and I rang the station again. “I need him now,” I said with a desperation that surprised me. “I’ve waited years for this baby, and I don’t want to wait anymore.”

The next afternoon, I left the cocoon of the hospital to bring this tiny being home. I spent those early weeks holding him almost every moment of every day. “Sleep when the baby sleeps,” my friends told me, but I couldn’t close my eyes. I couldn’t stop gazing at this miracle.

Almost a decade has passed since that time, and the depth of that love affair has been spread thin by soccer games, and lost teeth, violin lessons, playdates, and a myriad of laundry and dishes and carpooling.

It’s extraordinary to look back at my journal from those early days and be reminded of how intensely I felt. And to remember how painful it was when I first realized that the gift of motherhood came with the price of countless goodbyes- beginning with the separation at birth and stretched out over a lifetime. If I love this child this too much, how will I ever be able to do it, I anguished.

That awareness is no longer a part of my day to day life, but every now and then it creeps back up on me and I’ll feel that old familiar tug on my heart. Last week was a big one. It had started out as just another school day: rushing out the door, trying my best not to holler at him for taking too long to tie his shoes or for forgetting all his things.

On the drive to school, I drilled him on his spelling words, and then spent our last moments together in the parking lot having him write out those words that had stumped him. Just then, two young girls stopped their play to stare into our car.

What are they looking at, I wondered? And then I knew. They stood there eyes unblinking as my son and I kissed goodbye, and they followed him with those eyes onto the playground and down the hill where he met his friends at the tether ball court. He never even noticed. But I did.

There it was, another tearing, another good-bye that I would have to face someday–another woman. There would be years perhaps before this one came upon us, but the tugging had begun, and it felt like a needle had pierced my heart.