Monday, December 28, 2009

Pictures of THE DAY!!

I couldn't get these pictures in the order I wanted, but at least you'll get an idea of the people and the support I had during the incredible birth of this very special little boy. We were so happy to finally meet him!

Do they look like happy parents or what?

And finally... here he is!

I'm a big fan of water birth; the water supported me when my legs were shaking and could barely hold me up anymore, plus it was warm and soothing. The most uncomfortable I was during the whole time was when I laid down on the bed... I'm so glad I wasn't in that position at a hospital!

As soon as we got to the birth center, Bill, Shelley, Kathryn, Doug and Maura were quick to do everything they could to make me as comfortable as possible and make sure I had everything I needed.

Lots of helping hands; it was very empowering and healing.

This is the last picture of the "spectacular" belly. I was actually in the beginning stages of labor when this picture was taken, so I knew this was as big as it was going to get.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Labor Day!!!

My gorgeous, beautiful son was born on the morning of Sunday, December 13th. What an experience, I don’t even know if I can begin to describe it. I chose to have a water delivery at a birthing center rather than go the hospital route, and I’m so glad I did. Most of the labor I was able to do at home, which started very early Saturday morning. Finally, when the contractions were intense and frequent, we met the midwife at the birth center at 4:30 Sunday morning. Bill, Shelley, my sister Kathryn who was visiting from Texas and I arrived, and shortly after came Doug and Maura. There was an energy in the air, the kind that completely wipes out the feeling one usually has at being awake at 4am. Like waking up early to get ready for an exciting road trip… times 10.

During my whole pregnancy it was all about me. Someone who didn’t agree with my decision towards adoption had told me I was being selfish and that it wasn’t about me. My response was that yes, actually it is all about me. I’m the one housing this baby, I’m the one taking care of him, I’m the one (along with Bill of course) who makes the decisions for his life. In that particular conversation the person seemed to be extremely concerned with what happens to the baby and not at all interested in any aspect of my life. I told her she can’t get to the baby without going through me.

That’s true with any expectant mom. There is so much interest in this new life and people want to express that interest and concern, but everything must be channeled through the mother for the first nine months. I loved that channeling process. I loved it when a hand was placed on my belly. Someone was touching me, but it was meant for the baby. We were one. When I was at work in Alaska and my employees were constantly taking things out of my hands saying I shouldn’t be carrying anything, they were taking care of me and showing their concern for this boy they had never met. When someone became protective of me, they were protecting the baby. When someone saw me waddling into the supermarket and they opened the door and pulled the cart out for me, it was also for my baby. Everything was channeled to him through me, especially the love I felt from Bill, Doug, Maura, and their family and friends.

I knew that for that time it was all about me, I was the center of attention because I was carrying this incredibly special boy. All eyes were on me, but only because all of our hearts were on him. So at the birth center as we all gathered there knowing that the time was soon to come, I felt that channeling of love and anticipation even more intensely. Just as we had learned in our birthing class, my entourage of support were rubbing my shoulders, massaging my feet, bringing me water, putting cold towels on my neck, wiping my forehead, pulling back my hair. Some people may be intimidated at having so many people around when going through such an intimate and intense event like giving birth, but with every touch I felt strengthened and supported. I felt it even more because I knew it wasn’t only for me, but also for this life inside of me. Did that make me feel less loved? Or that it was only my baby that anyone was interested in? Not at all; my son and I were at that time so connected that any love anyone had for him I felt was equally dispersed to me, and vice versa. At one point, I was in the tub intensely pushing and every person in the room had a hand on me. How can I explain that feeling, that feeling of so much love and strength given to me by other people, so much energy from anticipation, and the feeling of me transferring that to my son? I don’t think it’s possible to translate that into words.

Everything for the past nine months had been leading up to this point. Lives had been rearranged for this moment. People had traveled thousands of miles for this moment. Every thing I had done for the past nine months; everything I had eaten, every walk I took, every yoga and birthing class I went to, every time I slept, every breath I took was for this little guy I was about to meet. Every kick or hiccup I felt reminded me that he was getting ready for this moment.

I was pushing so hard that I was making deep grunting noises. I was concentrated, focused. He had already crowned about half an hour ago, and I could feel the top of his head. I pushed and pushed, “come on Reed, come on baby,” I was coaching to him. And then, suddenly, everyone gasped. What? What happened? Then before I knew it I was leaning back in the tub and was being handed this beautiful, pink, dark haired baby boy! He had shot out so fast I didn’t even realize it! And there he was in my arms, the one whos’ every movement I had felt, who Bill and I and Doug and Maura had been dreaming about, wondering what it would be like to finally meet him. “So you’re the one!” were my first words to him. And then, as I had said to him every single day since I first learned of his existence, I said “You are so special to me.”

At that instant, every act of love and concern that had been showed to me became even more alive in him. We had been listening to a compilation cd of some mellow music that they happened to have at the birth center, and the song “blackbird” by the Beatles was playing on the cd player at the moment of his birth. How appropriate; “you were only waiting for this moment to arrive.”

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Counting the days... and my blessings

My due date is tomorrow. Not that I'm really expecting anything to happen on the actual due date; there is only a small percentage of women who actually deliver naturally on their due date. But still, something about that date, December 10th, the day we've all been telling people and talking about, rouses this little voice in my head that shouts "TOMORROW!!!!!!"

Even if I don't go in to labor tomorrow, that date signifies that the end is near- very near. The end of a period of time often brings about a time of reflection, and nearing the end of my pregnancy has certainly been no different. Over the course of these last nine months (actually about 7 1/2 months that I actually knew I was pregnant) I've been doing a lot of reflecting, and evaluating where I am in life. I try to take stock of where I am regularly, but having a baby has encouraged me to look deeper, as has my decision towards adoption. But here I want to take the time to write down some of these reflections, specifically the things I have become especially grateful for.

I've heard some women say that they love being pregnant. That they never felt so good, that they have never been healthier or happier. I wonder if they really physically feel that incredible during their pregnancy or if a large portion of it is that they are mentally and emotionally excited about having a baby. I had a roommate in college who, when she was frustrated with her studies, would say, "I don't even want this degree, I just want to be a mommy!" I've never been able to relate to that sentiment, I've never felt any kind of biological or emotional need to have children or for the feeling of being pregnant. So maybe it's part of that anticipation or need that I'm missing for me to be able to say that I've felt great throughout my whole pregnancy, but I just can't say that. I hated feeling sick for 5 months straight, I hated being at work and having to lay my head down on my desk because of nausea and exhaustion just to have my boss walk in with a list of things for me to do. I've hated the feeling of pain my legs have felt, which I can only liken to the sensation two toothpicks must feel having to hold up a watermelon.

No, I had no desire to feel any of those things. But I'll never forget the first time I felt my little boy move.. my God what an experience!!!!! While I was working in Alaska, there were times when I would just sit in my office with my hand over my stomach, feeling those tiny kicks and punches, and I couldn't help but smile. My heart was smiling. Everything in me was smiling, and if my baby knew how happy he was making me, I bet he was smiling too. It's incredible! Even now, his movement is one of the most wonderful physical sensations I've ever experienced. And it's a good thing, because he is very active! Sometimes he just moves a foot or a hand, and then there are the times when I feel like he is making up for the the kickboxing workouts that I can no longer do. And with every single movement, with every wave of my belly, I am amazed and in awe of this life inside of me.

I've mentioned before the negative stigma adoption often has for the birth parents. An unplanned pregnancy, giving up a child, a tragic event. No wonder the idea of an open adoption throws many people for a loop. Who would want to remember and be involved in such a tragic happening? As I've learned with so many adoptions, that just isn't the case. Sure I had the moments when I first found out that were punctuated with choice expletives, but even those moments didn't last long. I look at this experience as such a positive thing, and I'm so thankful for everything I've been given. Would I have ever known the sensation of my son moving inside of me? Would I ever have had the honor and privilege of birthing a child? Of creating a life? Maybe it hasn't been in the way I would have chosen for myself, but I am experiencing things, I am experiencing life, in a way that might not ever have happened if it had been up to my plans. With the incredible support I've had, the people around me like Bill and Shelley who have re-arranged their lives to be here with me, not to mention the most wonderful people I could imagine to raise our son, how can this not be a positive experience for me? I don't feel that I need to convince others of that as much as I feel the need to pinch myself. "Is this really happening? I'm really going to have a baby, I'm really going to finally meet this little guy who has totally surprised and shaken my entire life? Is everything really working out this splendidly? How could I ask for anything to go any smoother?"

There are some things I can be more specifically thankful for, like the fact that I have gotten zero stretch marks (olive oil and vitamin E oil drenching the belly every day may have helped), or that my ankles and hands never swelled. Also the invention heating pads for my back and of bungee shoe laces that have made all my shoes slip-ons are not to be missed. Sure I've had my complaints, but all in all I'd say I've had a relatively easy and healthy pregnancy. And there have even been a few pleasant surprises, like the fact that for some odd reason the hair on my legs has mostly stopped growing. Seriously, I haven't shaved in 5 months and one would have to look really hard to find a few scraggly white hairs. I've never heard any other pregnant women claim that, but hey, I'll take it!

But when I go on my walks in the mornings, as I'm waddling ever more slowly on the trail, and I think about where I am in life and how I've gotten here, I can't help but be thankful for every moment. Everything that has led me up to this point, every pull and stretch I feel on my legs that remind me of my healthy, growing baby, every person I've met who has given me encouragement and support, every moment I have by myself to reflect on how blessed I've been, even in the surprises. I can't help but offer up thanks and praise.