It’s Been Nine Months Since Noah Was Born…Maybe I Should Finally Write His Birth Story…

Noah--Day 1 in the world

Noah–Day 1 in the world

Noah--9 months!

Noah–9 months!

Sophia at 9 months--my babies have seriously awesome hair:-)

Sophia at 9 months–my babies have seriously awesome hair:-)

To be fair to my darling son, it’s not his fault that I had completely and irrationally convinced myself that I would go into labor as soon as I walked out the door of school for the first day of summer. At least the World Cup provided some distraction, as did snuggles from Sophia and infinite loving kindness from Josh. After we’d gone three days past the due date (which had been June 19th), my midwife scheduled an induction at the ten day mark…just to be on the safe side, she said. I swore, drank raspberry leaf tea by the gallon, bounced on that damn yoga ball, waddled around the neighborhood, swore, yelled, cried, and swore some more. On June 24th, I went in for another checkup. My midwife, an exceedingly practical woman with over 30 years of experience, offered some midwifery tricks. With a “sure, whatever, I’m going to gestate this baby for as long as an elephant, but give it a shot” response from me, she did her thing, and I went on my way, grumpy and cranky and already visualizing the inevitable induction.

Later that afternoon, I went grocery shopping. It was a bit uncomfortable. Then I did some laundry. Also, uncomfortable. I tried to watch a World Cup game…still, uncomfortable. Josh and Sophia came home, and he gave me the, “I want to ask, but every time I ask, you get very snippy, so I’m not going to ask, but I’m just going to keep looking at you” look. I told him I was uncomfortable. My sister and her friend came over for dinner. I had the watch out at that point, but we’d already gone through this a half a dozen times over the past few days, so I barely registered that my discomfort seemed to come at regular intervals. Or that I was holding onto the counter during those regular intervals. Josh finished teaching. My sister and her friend went out for ice cream. I was still uncomfortable, and refusing to use any other word to describe how I felt, but at about 9:00 shit got real, real fast. Those regular intervals of discomfort became pain. Pain every five minutes. And I was calling the advice nurse. And then the pain started coming every three minutes. And then I couldn’t talk to the advice nurse because I could barely breathe. At which point she said, “Gosh, it sounds like you’re in very real labor there.” Josh called Emma. Who, very appropriately, hauled ass back to our house.

We kissed Sophia. I crawled into the front seat of the Prius. Josh drove as fast as he could, but sensibly ignored my pleas that he run all of the red lights. I swore and breathed, and swore and breathed. At the hospital, the intake nurse took one look at me and said, “Well honey, I think we can bypass triage…you just need to head straight to a delivery room.” So we did. They told me I was at 4 cm. I swore. (**I would like to point out that Mythbusters did an episode on swearing and found that cursing enabled people to endure more pain for longer periods of time. Hence, my liberal use of such words is based on science. So there.**)

I found myself feeling more afraid than I’d felt with Sophia–I wasn’t sure if I could trust my body, if I could rid the wave. I should also note that it’s not my darling son’s fault that I had a running conversation with myself throughout my pregnancy that went something like this: “Well, they say the second birth is easier. And since I did the first one on petocin, which apparently makes for more intense contractions, and I did that one without an epidural, this one can’t be that bad. Yes yes, I know I had ancient Greek level hubris the first go around when I told my students that I’d ridden my bicycle a hundred miles, so gosh darn it, how hard could labor be, but I learned my lesson. This confidence is well-earned.” Fair to say that I am an idiot. A first class, grade A idiot. Yup.

An hour later, I was at 5cm. I swore again. I felt like I had done all the work I could do, and why oh why did 10 cm have to be so far away? We moved from the bed to a tub, and an angel of a nurse pushed on my lower back as I raged. Josh kept reminding me to breathe, to stay open, that he loved me, that I was bringing our son into the world. I kept reminding myself that I would never, ever, EVER do this again. After about an hour, I pleaded with the nurse to check me. I screamed something along the lines of, “If I’m not at 8 cm, give me the %*(%*)$#@&#@ epidural!”  They hauled me out, got me up on a gurney where I sprawled sideways, and by the power of all that is holy, I was at 8 cm.

Moments later, I was back in our room. An amazing team of powerful women and my dearly beloved kept cajoling and encouraging and cheering–and as I kept yelling, “when is the next contraction coming??!!”, were all kind enough to refrain from saying, “well dear, you are the one who is in labor, so maybe you should tell us…”. Twenty minutes later, I was stunned to find myself holding a squishy-faced, almond-eyed little boy. He existed in the world. With us. Our son.

Then, slowly, the mood in the room began to shift. As I pushed and pushed to get the placenta out, and the nurses did all their nurse tricks to help it along, the cheering gave way to some very serious looks. The head midwife very calmly told me that my placenta wasn’t coming out. She then told me that I wouldn’t stop bleeding until it did, that I had already lost quite a bit of blood, and it was time to call in a surgeon. I breathed. Probably swore. Josh squeezed my hand, kissed me hard, took Noah into his arms, and within minutes I was in an operating room getting an epidural. And that surgeon removed every little last bit of that damn placenta with humor and grace and a bedside manner that would have made my father proud. And for the record, the epidural was not unpleasant–in fact, after the intensity of labor, it was sort of lovely to have my body just kind of melt away for a little bit.

Josh and Noah met me in the recovery room. We all breathed together. I held our son close to my heart, waited for the lower half of my body to wake up, studied the broken blood vessels along my collarbone and shoulders–evidence of the force of pushing life into the world–, waited for morning to come to introduce our daughter to her brother, said thank you over and over and over again for a body that creates and persists, for the way love begins and unfolds.

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That was then, this is now (continued)…

From tiny hands and lots of sleeping,

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to a bounty of smiles,

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(even with an insanely runny nose…thanks to the infinite process of teething)

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to big girl feet in the grass,

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and still some sleeping (this was the crash post-birthday fete).

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That was then, this is now…

After several rough nights with our beloved but stubborn lil’ babe, Mr. Fierce and I were waxing poetic about our pre-baby life. “Remember sleeping in til whenever we wanted? Remember when I could practice all day long? Remember when I could read an entire book in one sitting? Remember when…” And at that point, I’m pretty sure some sort of diaper emergency interrupted our reminiscing. Message received universe, message received.

I’d like to think that since the beginning of human parenting, folks have sat around having this same conversation…”Remember when all I had to do was hunt saber tooth tigers all day? Remember when I could paint cave walls without interruption?” Though the first year of parenthood has considerably impacted our ability to remember, we do have some blurry but recognizable recollections of what life was. And it was good. But what we have now is also good. Complicated. Challenging. Frustrating. But good. So to keep things in perspective, I’m going to take a few posts to try and capture just how much goodness this past year has brought us. See below:-)

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Week 1 beyond the uterus.

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Almost a year later, flashing that incredible So G smile.

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More smiling.

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As my father (aka pop-pop) refers to her, “that incredibly malnourished, depressed baby of yours.”

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Life Stuff

I have a love/hate relationship with the constant reminders that grownup life is…well…grownup (though who doesn’t I suppose. but if you are one of those people who has a love/love relationship with being grownup, I don’t want to hear about it). I love that I have new experiences, build new relationship–that evolution happens. I have that such evolution involves the maddening details of the two following significant events in the Fierce household:

  • moving. We’ve decided to relocate to a bigger house with a bigger yard that actually retains heat. I love what it will be. I do NOT love packing up our lives while both of us work full-time and care for dear S-G. Once upon a time, I could move by throwing all of my belongings into a duffle bag and a couple of boxes. This move involves many many many more boxes. We also have to do things like change of address for a billion different accounts (life insurance, car insurance, health insurance, renters’ insurance, student loans–though I’m tempted to not tell them), empty about a billion pounds of compost out of our bin, break down our raised beds and re-landscape the yard, and still grade papers, teach students, play gigs and change diapers.
  • job hunting. I have officially declared that this is my last year teaching at St. Mary’s Academy. So after 4 years (I feel like I’m graduating from high school again, with a similar sense of “what the heck am I going to do next” as I had almost FIFTEEN years ago when I did actually graduate), I’m ready for the next adventure. I love that I will (hopefully) have my own language arts classroom filled with wild and wacky middle schoolers. I do NOT love that this involves job applications, interviews and the ever-uncertain realm of funding for public schools.

So as a very non-detail oriented person, here is how I am attempting to stay sane while negotiating this labyrinth of annoyingly grownup details:

  • Nutella. Of course.
  • reading Neruda to Sophia (“and a vibration starts up, vague and insistent/a great fragment of of thunder set in motion/the rumble of the planet and the foam,/the raucous rivers of the ocean flood,/the star vibrates swiftly in its corona,/and the sea is beating, dying and continuing.” from “Poet’s Obligation”)
  • awesome Lebanese take out food. Lots of it.
  • babysitting provided by the extended Pierce clan so we can pack without worrying about what Sophia’s trying to climb on or eat.
  • the hilarity of Parks and Recs. Thank god for Amy Poehler.
  • listening to The Moth radio. Powerful stories that help me keep my life in perspective.
  • And cherishing moments like the one captured in the photos below. I rediscovered my old tape collection and took the opportunity to wax poetic to Sophia about the wonders of a lovingly created mix tape which far and away beats out the pleasure of making a playlist on iTunes. She took the opportunity to ignore said poetic waxings and to create her own visceral experience with these remnants of an analog age.

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Better Out Than In

That’s how Josh and I have been referring to SO-G’s existence outside of my womb crossing the 9 month threshold. (While technically she hung around in there for 41 weeks, that doesn’t seem to have the same milestone heft.) I have a couple of dear friends awaiting the arrival of their own wee ones, and while parenthood has certainly impacted my ability to retain information, I definitely still remember the anticipation of those last few weeks–practicing patience (not always very well), trying to be okay with the unknown (and often failing), and folding baby clothes (over and over and over again…damn that nesting instinct) while imagining what it would be like to meet the little being curled up inside my body.

These last 9 months have been: incredible, overwhelming, exhausting, rewarding, empowering, filled with self-doubt, overflowing with love. Every day, I have the gift of watching Sophia explore the world. And every day I try to rise to the challenge of doing everything I can to help her become…well, who knows? I want so much for her to be intrepid, courageous, curious, kind, compassionate, committed, flexible, resilient. And I’d like to think I can already see all of that glimmering within her. So I read her poetry and help her steady herself as she walks (walks!!!) and celebrate her first tooth and nosh on smoked salmon and goat cheese with her and babble and sing and dance and play in the leaves with her. And remind myself every day–when I’m frustrated with the cobwebs in the corner or the papers I haven’t graded or the books I haven’t read–what a bounty of blessings to have her here, in the world, with us.

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Baby Fierce Turns 8 Months: On the Outside for Almost as Long as She Was In the Inside

P.S. Click on this link to see So-G’s forward motion

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Not so crafty…

I am quite possibly the least crafty person I know. Part of this might be that I live in Portland where everyone is a DIY-er wielding knitting needles and felting sets and welding tools and so I feel even less crafty than I might somewhere else. But there is a reason why I am not a primary school teacher (well, there are many reasons…first and foremost being that while I love little children, I find trying to do something with a classroom full of 30 of them the equivalent of trying to educate extra-hyper gerbils)…I am simply not crafty enough for that kind of demanding audience. So Halloween is really not my holiday. We have a tiny pumpkin that a student gave us:

We have some pretty cute costumes we’ve inherited, but there’s a strong likelihood that Sophia will not end up in any of them since Halloween falls on a Monday, and I just don’t know how much holiday spirit Josh and I will be able to muster. We did do the obligatory pumpkin patch/hayride outing, which works for me since there is nothing crafty about mucking about in the mud.

 

 

 

 

 

 

But I’m all about surrounding myself with people who make up for my incompetency. Sophia spends two afternoons a week with a lovely woman who used to teach kindergarten, and this is most definitely the piece de resistance of our Halloween celebration…the cutest damn footie ghost I’ve ever seen…

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