Tag Archives: kids

The House of No Secrets

[last night]

Night time in our little house.

I’m upstairs in the bathroom off our master bedroom. I’m pregnant, just clearing the first trimester, tired and bloated. I look in the mirror. I lean in closer. How many zits, exactly, do I have?

I estimate one million billion on the right side of my neck alone.

And why must they be on my neck???

And is it pregnancy or the French fries slathered in mayonnaise and ketchup that I can’t seem to stop eating?

(pregnancy, definitely pregnancy, I’m not giving up the fries)

Also, I’m pretty sure I have a new wibbly-wobble in my neck skin.

A hot shower is exactly what I need.

I creep down the stairs and peer out into the hall, with its sight to the dining room table where my husband sits, reading over my most recent version of a manuscript and making notes with a pencil (kind, kind man).

“Hey baby,” I whisper, “want to take a shower with me?”

A door bursts opens.

Out from the room where she’s (supposedly) been in la-la land comes a pajama-clad four-year-old with night-rosy cheeks, golden hair flowing about her shoulders like a lion’s mane. She’s tugging at the sleeves of her sleeper as if to take it off and smiling like it’s Christmas morning.

We look at the exuberant face of our daughter.

“Uh,” says my husband. “I think Mom meant me.”

I look at her pink little face and feel a monumental stab of mama-guilt. Because maybe she’s been waiting all her life for Mom to whisper an invitation to a secret midnight shower—tip-toeing up to the top floor with its shower of many spigots in the very middlest of the night and playing her favorite game–spraying the shower walls with water and laughing maniacally as she ‘cleans the bathroom.’ Very possibly, I’ve just dashed every hope and dream she’s ever had.

“I’ll take another shower with you soon,” I say to her with my most winning smile.

Alice considers my offer. “Can I make a nest on my floor with my blankets?”

“Yes,” my husband and I say at the same time. “Go for it.”

Epidural = spa-like birth experience

This picture was taken the evening of June 2nd, three days before I (miracles of miracles) went into labor by myself, one day before my due date.

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When I look at this picture, the thing that comes back to me is:

back pain.

It was with me almost constantly from February to June.

And a few days after having little Benjamin, suddenly I realized: it left the moment he popped out. And it may have been connected to the fact that he was a whopping 9 lbs 3 oz. Just maybe.

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Now I can sleep again, sit without grimacing, and don’t have to drape my back with hot rice bags on a nightly basis. Alice was so used to this routine that one night, when she was fishing for excuses to call us into her room when she was supposed to be sleeping, she said to my husband, “Daddy, my back hurts, so I need a rice bag.”

Little stinker.

And by the way, going back to Benjamin’s birth, the phrase ‘popped out’ is not ironic, but totally applicable: he came out in three contractions.

Three contractions!?

Yes, three contractions. I know–it’s the stuff of dreams.

In fact, by the beginning of the second contraction they said, ‘oh, there’s his head!’

Already? I almost exclaimed, but then I didn’t, because the epidural had turned me into a Zen goddess and instead I probably just smiled serenely.

Let’s just say that I had a blast giving birth–after the epidural kicked in (during the last hour or so–there was some hell before that to get those first 7 centimeters accomplished, including a most dreadful walk from the parking garage to the hospital itself).

But giving birth to him with drugs was a complete 180 from my horror story of having Alice au naturel. (If you have yet to be scarred by my story, well, you may be the happier for it. Then again, you might just feel so relieved by the end of it that it’s not happening to you at this very moment, that it might make you happier to read it after all. Only you can be the judge.)

I liken my experience giving birth to Benjamin to relaxing in a spa.

I got the epidural about an hour into transition, when the suffering was starting to reach a fever pitch–and then an angel with a needle showed up. For anyone afraid of needles, let me tell you: when you’re in transition, that awful phase of labor that sucks you in, chew you up into a pulp and spits you out, you don’t care about any amount of needles. They could have stuck me with four needles at once–heck, four hundred needles–and I wouldn’t have cared. Big needles, long needles–whatever. Heck, make it the length of a hand–or an arm! As long as it puts the drugs into my spine as quickly as possible. Normally I’m a needle wuss and feel a little faint when I get blood drawn. But in this context, I was like, ‘jam that in there!’ because I wanted the pain relief so badly.

And then, the epidural worked–first on only half my body, but when I turned on my side, it flooded into the other side as well. Aaaaah. Sweet relief.

I took a nap for a whole, magical hour.

When I woke up, someone said, “Alright! You’re ten centimeters–it’s time to push!”

Two wonderful, encouraging ladies (one nurse, one midwife) calmly stood there saying, “okay, push now!” So I pushed–while feeling no pain. They cooed, “Oooh, good job! There’s his head!”

By the way, there’s his head–

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–in another context, of course. It came out nice and round because he flew out of there so fast.

Anyway, there’s a profound irony in being told ‘good job’ when there’s nothing hard about what you’re doing. I mean, just compare that to my experience with Alice, when I was doing the hardest thing I’ve done in my life, and giving my all to push her out while experiencing the agonies of what felt like a torture chamber. Then no one was telling me ‘good job.’ Then it was more like, ‘push harder!’ And ‘stop yelling! You’re wasting energy! Grunt deep, like this!’ and furious shouts of ‘COME ON, COME ON, COME ON, KEEP GOING!’ and “COME ON JENNA!!!”

I’ll take the soothing, approving ‘good job’ in the hospital/spa any day. Also, did I mention that I only swore, like, twice (in a quiet whisper, too) instead of at least two hundred times AT A THUNDEROUS SHOUT? Yep. That encapsulates the difference between the two experiences, all right.

When we were taking our Bradley Method natural birthing class the summer before Alice was born, sitting on yoga mats in the intense heat that had descended on Chicago that year and learning from a wonderful woman named Denise about the wonders of natural birth, I never thought I would say this. But now, I will.

(I’m sorry, Denise.)

Drugs = magic

Happy Monday from this little man who turned 1 month old yesterday.

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