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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Hide and Seek...

Or in this case, hide and watch Mommy have a nervous breakdown.

It is a gut wrenching feeling when you don't know where your child is. Even if it's only for 10 seconds; When you have looked everywhere you know to look, and they're not there. Those first ten seconds will be the worst ten seconds of your life, filled with horrible visions of all of the worst possible scenarios; kidnapped, ran down the street into the main highway, eaten by a bear, fell in an abandoned well...and so on.

When I left him, Leo was in his brother's crib "reading him books" before nap time.
I had only been on the phone for a few minutes, but in that time, Leo decided to play a little hide and seek with mommy. Not only did he not tell me that we were going to play, but ironically, this would be the first time in the history of our hide and seek games that he didn't tell me exactly where he was going to hide just before he hid there.

When I went back to tuck him in for his nap (which, by the way, was the rebellious reason for his panic attack inducing trickery), he was no where to be found. I called for him, he didn't answer me (also a first in our hide and seek history). I tried to bribe him out, he didn't take the bait. I used my very best angry, threatening voice, he stayed hidden in fear.

Now I had to expand my search to outside. I spent about .2 seconds contemplating whether or not I wanted to be the crazy, lunatic mother running frantically through her quite neighborhood screaming for her missing four year old. And while I was spastically doing so, I floundered between hoping none of my neighbors were home to witness this and surely think to themselves "this poor woman can't keep track of all those kids", or wishing that they were all home and about to come out and form a search party to help me.

I did three laps through the house and neighborhood and each time I came inside I tried to sound more frightening and serious to convince him that I was NOT AMUSED! By the fourth time back inside, I found his precious little pain in the ass standing in the middle of the living room giggling and boasting about his clever hiding spot (which I'm still not sure of, to be honest). I couldn't speak. I picked him up, hugged him, and locked him in his room where he screamed and cried for ten minutes and then slept for two hours.

Two hours later, he came out and we had a long talk about how ABSOLUTELY NOT OKAY IT IS TO SCARE THE HELL OUT OF YOUR MOTHER LIKE THAT (basically), AND THAT IT IS ABSOLUTELY NOT FUNNY!

I explained to him that I was so terrified that I almost called the police.

Leo (with fear in his eyes): But if you call the police and they find me they will put me in jail!

Me: That's right! Remember that next time you think you're so funny.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Natural chilbirth. (it may sound like I'm bragging here, but that's only because I'm awesome.)

"This is gonna be fun." That's what Darren woke up to at 4 a.m. on the morning of baby Ginger's birth. I had been laboring for four hours by then and he knew the moment he rolled over and saw me smiling from ear to ear and heard me say those words that this would be the day. He thinks I'm a little crazy for enjoying labor so much. But I'm sure he takes some comfort in knowing that I have it all under control. I don't even bother to wake him anymore when that first contraction comes. I know exactly how it's all gonna go as each of my pregnancy and birth experiences have been exactly the same. So I also know that there is no reason to wake him up just to have him follow me around timing my contractions and asking "was that a big one" after each one (it's a contraction, they are either big or even bigger). It's nothing personal. I really don't care to have anyone near me while I'm laboring. Baby and I can handle it.

I never had a "birthing plan". The very idea amuses me. It's an oxymoron, to say the least. Unless of course, you are the pampered, wimpy, celebrity type who really cop out by scheduling a c-section for no health related reason (If you can't tolerate a moment of childbirth, good luck with the child-rearing). Nothing about labor can be assumed or anticipated. However, if you feel the need to create a plan, you should plan on your plan going right out the window at any moment.

I don't know really know why I was so hell bent on natural childbirth. "Natural" just sort of implies that that's the way to do it. It's what we are built for. It's the single greatest claim which only we (women)can stake, and it should be celebrated as such. It's only natural, naturally. That being said, it hurts like hell. Seriously HELL. During each of my labors I questioned my stubborn insistence to do it "naturally". But that was always at that final and far too late moment when I knew the little (but seemingly GIGANTIC) head was about to rip through me. They call that moment the "ring of fire". Need I say more?

The key to my successful natural childbirths was trusting my body and listening to it every step of the way (though I did have some trouble hearing my body over the the screaming voices in my head cursing at me; "Seriously? Again? What the hell is wrong with you?") When I arrived at the hospital the fourth (and FINAL) time, I told the doctor I wanted to start walking my usual laps through the halls, and I would call her when I was ready for her. The birthing center was full with five or six other women in labor, and I was the only one up and walking (rookies.) I was also the first one to give birth. (Pro).

After each push I would collapse and convince myself that I had nothing left and could not push anymore. I never said it out loud though, as even I did not want to hear it. Instead, I kept my mouth shut and listened to the whispers of my body (when I wasn't screaming and cursing in pain). "You CAN do it. You ARE doing it. Giving up now is not an option. You are a mother, you cannot give up on yourself or your child." And with each contraction came a surge of strength and determination I was certain my body was not capable of again. As a parent, I knew, with each child, that I was facing challenges that I could not even begin to imagine, and this unimaginable pain I was not only enduring but charging my way through was only the beginning of the battles that lie ahead. If I could get through this, I can get through anything. Not to mention that when it was over I could finally eat again and the crazy fat bitch would be on her way out.

And when it was over, it was truly over! The very second I laid eyes on my babies, I forgot about the agony that only seconds ago, had me swearing I would never do this again (all FOUR times). I didn't need painkillers to shield me from the tears and burns that were still stinging; I had my baby in my arms. As I held and studied my firstborn, I felt such utopia that I didn't even notice my midwife's arm up inside of me and her fist pushing on my stomach trying to stop the hemorrhaging. In my new world, with my new family, and my new empowered self, everything was perfect.

Giving birth naturally included the rebirth of my self. I have always considered myself a strong and capable woman. But I knew that I would need to delve into the very core of my being to pull this off. And when it was over, I was reborn a warrior, armed with the strength and confidence of a million men (not one of whom could have endured what I just did). Four natural childbirths later, I feel invincible (and not a moment too soon as I now have an army of children to battle...I mean raise.)

I cherish each one of my birthing experiences. They were all strikingly similar with uniquely precious results; they all took about eight hours. All of my babies look like the same person when they come out, and yet they are nothing alike. My brother asks if I am in my "usual room" when he's coming to visit. Madeline does "this little piggy" as soon as she meets a new sibling. The staff feels like family and Darren makes his usual joke to them as we leave with our newest addition; "see ya next time." They used to chuckle. Now they just nod in agreement. And Darren handles his role with devotion, admiration and ease. A lesser woman may curse him for appearing so relaxed and calm while she is laboring tirelessly and painfully. I take great comfort in it. He has great faith in me.

Being a mother sometimes makes me feel like I am in a war zone. Numbing my self to the inevitable occasional pain and suffering is not an option (although the occasional alcohol induced buzz is genuinely helpful). But with each of my natural childbirths, came the birth of a stronger, more confident woman. I want my children to know that I am willing to walk (or push) through (a ring of) fire for them. The agony I endured built me a suit of armor that will surely deflect every agonizing temper tantrum and painful adolescent "I hate you" that my children will certainly pelt me with (though I do wish it had a thicker layer of patience). Sure, they will bruise me at times, but I will forever remember what I went through to bring them into this world. And while their attacks may be even more painful than labor, I will know I have the strength and will to survive it, and see us all through it!