I can't remember a time when I didn't absolutely know I wanted to be a mom. From the time I was six I played "house". When I was little I told my mom that I was going to have three boys. I became a babysitter around age 10, worked in day cares and was a nanny. I have always surrounded myself with babies and kids. When we hung out with family friends, I was the child that swooped the baby up to my hip and disappeared to play with them for hours (now that I am a mom, I know how dreamy this is for parents).
So when I fell madly in love when I was just 18 and married at 22, it was a countdown until I finally got to have babies. I was patient, we had a number of years of independent twenty something living. Taking lots of weekend surf/camp trips, sleeping in, being spontaneous and young and in love. Then when I was 24 and Sean was 29 we decided to take a fun adventure with our closest friends to Panama for a couple of weeks and then start "trying". I was thrilled! We got pregnant that first month, we couldn't believe it, called our families, told all of our friends moments after we took that test. And then I started bleeding after a week. It was an early early miscarriage and although, logically I knew this was normal and natural, I was devastated. I counted my blessings, it was early, etc, etc. But still shocking to me, I hadn't known anyone to have this happen. It really shook me, but I didn't feel like it was supposed to. We started trying again immediately, it took another five months to get pregnant. Again a blip in time to those who struggle to get pregnant, but for me felt like ages. Enough so that when those two lines appeared on the test and we waited out that first week, then another, then another and I began to feel ill and my waistband tighten, we were beyond over the moon. We told our families and friends and work mates and couldn't believe how lucky we were.
We chose midwifery care for that first pregnancy and birth. It was one of those decisions that we are forever grateful for. The knowledge, support, gentle care, education and freedom we received with this care set us up for such an amazing and empowered parenting experience. One that taught me to trust my gut and ignore the fearful "advice" that so many people like to give. I loved being pregnant, watching my belly grow, feeling the first fluttering of movement and later the kicks and rolls in my belly. Feeling so full of love for someone you had not yet laid eyes on or held was so powerful.
I anticipated the birth with curiosity and no fear, eager to feel that first birth pain. I realize now that this really has something to do with being 25 and carefree. Then, of course, those birth pains were so much more intense than I could have imagined. Never more than I could handle though, I laid on my side, holding Sean's hand surrounded by girlfriends and family (way too many as I learned, birth is meant to be a primal and private event, I know now). I moved to a birthing tub when the time was right. I entered our small apartment kitchen, lit only by candles, steamy from the tub and sunk into that warm water. It was exactly what I needed to get me through the rest of the labor. I quickly dilated to ten and was ready to push. This was thrilling, I was so close to meeting that baby, I was so ready to hold him in my arms. And then I pushed for close to four hours. The hardest work I have ever done in my life. I would push, he would come all the way down the birth canal until they could see his hair, then he would slip all the way back up. I was exhausted, but just kept my eyes closed and pushed with all my might. Sean finally crawled in with me to support me while I literally slept between contractions. Finally someone pointed to the window and said that the baby would be born with the dawn and I pushed him out, the midwife caught him and put him up to my chest. He not only had a very short cord, but his head was tilted a bit and he had his little hand resting on his cheek, this may have been the cause of the drawn out pushing. Meeting him for the first time was the most amazing, satisfying and richest feeling I had ever had. He was calm, his eyes wide open, looking right at me, his small fist resting on his cheek. I was so elated, but so exhausted. I started bleeding a bit too much, I crawled out of the tub into a pile of towels with Emmerson still on my chest. I was given a shot to contract my uterus, the midwife massaged it. Emmerson latched on and started nursing, the bleeding was quickly under control. But I was too exhausted to move from my nest in the kitchen to the bed. They somehow got me to bed, where fresh sheets awaited. This was my favorite part about all three home births, crawling into my own bed, washed crispy sheets a comforter and a pile of pillows, with my newborn on my chest. Just being there admiring him, kissing and inspecting every inch, so blissed out, high on the endorphins and oxytocin that were rushing through my body. The midwife examined him right there in bed, stitched me up gave us a couple of hours in bed resting and took our vitals one last time before slipping out the door. And there we were, a family of three, snuggled in bed, falling in love.
I did that two more times, each in a new town, each with a different midwife. The second two births were three hours, then 2 hours total. The second one, shocking in intensity and speed, the third so easy and really not very painful, that I doubted I was even in labor when it began and couldn't believe I had a baby in my arms when it was over. I almost felt like I missed out. My husband was literally still making the midwives lattes when I started pushing. But the outcome the same each time, that perfect, magic bundle of sweetness that sweeps you away into a love affair. It's addicting really, I could have done it a least three more times. But to be honest, that toddler age, as cute as they are, really kicks my butt, three boys is perfect for us.
Mothering, for me, has been an art form and self expression, with my gut as a navigation tool, following the lead of my boys. Trying our best to stay grounded and leading the charge with love as our main tool. Giving our boys love, time, energy and patience has been my greatest joy and funnest adventure, as well as challenging and difficult at times. It fulfills me in a way that I really can't put into words. Because this is my first post about mothering, I thought it appropriate to make it about the beginning of my journey as a mother. I want it to be understood that mothering has been my number one passion for a long time and that now, 15 years into it, it's exciting to embark on new passions and pass times.
Yet, here on this blog I seem to gravitate toward sharing other parts of my life. I keep wondering when inspiration will hit to share my boys here. So far they are what keep me busy the majority of my hours and days and this blog is a separate way for me to be creative, a space of my own. I'm sure that one day the two will collide, but for now this is it.