When Summer Falls

My bump, months ago. Lifetimes ago.

 

Slowly the sweltering heat calms to a simmer and once again the breeze enters our lives; breaking up the monotonous summer.  Fall approaches, lingering on an invisible fence, timidly considering its own arrival.  As the season gently shifts so does my life.  It’s getting closer to the day that I meet my son and I’m filled with stillness and gratitude.  It’s all done.  My bag is packed, his bassinet is set up and resting in its place near the door.  Husband and I have completed our birth class, we are certified now – its official business.  I have bottles and booties and tiny nail clippers.  I have cloth diapers and blankets and a million burp clothes all washed several times over with non-toxic, biodegradable, Jesus approved laundry detergent.  We are what one may call, “Locked and Loaded”.

So I wait.

I climb stairs hoping it will set off more than one contraction – but nothing.  This child will choose his birthday and today is not the day.  It’s one of those rare moments in life when you know your life is about to change.  You know the face you see in the mirror will never look the same after this, you will never be the same person exactly.  I remember only feeling this way a few times in life.  The day I got on a one-way flight to New York.  The day I got married.  And now.  Something tells me this is the doozy though.  I try to imagine it but I have no frame of reference.

So I wait.

A week or so from now I’ll probably read this post (if I have time).  I’ll look at it the same way I do old diary pages from high school.  Smiling down at the girl I used to be with a half-smirk.  Thinking about how I had no idea of the tidal wave life was about to hand me.  So until then I’m signing off.  My next post will be as a new mom!
Annnny day now…..

Embracing Life and All It’s ‘F*ck It’ Moments…

Facing my future – in a bikini.

If pregnancy has taught me anything it’s that I am not in control over a single thing except my own perspective.  Life doesn’t just give us ups and downs – it IS the ups and downs.  We can expect to be facing as many trials and tribulations as we will be facing moments of bliss and utter happiness.  Some say, it’s only because of the darkness that we’re even able to see the light.  Whatever metaphor rocks your boat – let’s just say, I’m getting the drift (finally).

I used to feel like in order for my life to be fulfilled it had to go a certain way.  A and B would take place and lead to C and D and E would follow.  I invested so much energy into that tried and true pattern that anything that came along and fluffed my feathers was quickly dismissed or fretted over.  I’ve never had to be patient for anything.  When jobs got boring, I quit them.  When cities got boring I moved.  When boyfriends got boring….well you get the point.  But you can’t walk away from or even pause the tape when it comes to becoming a mother.  Nature has you in the driver’s seat with one foot strapped to the gas pedal and two hands strapped to the wheel.  You’re going to be there and all you can do in the mean time is wait and be that ever-haunting “P” word…patient.  Ugh.

So patience isn’t so bad after all.  At least I’ve had plenty of time to figure a few things out about myself.  In fact I’d say the past two and a half trimesters have taught me more about myself than the past 28 years.  Maybe its just my time to grow up.  Or maybe it’s nature’s way of smoothing a woman out into a mother.  Either way I know that I have to stand by my convictions and put aside my fears and for the love of all that is holy – I need to let life take it’s time with me.  Because whether it’s in this life or the next, all we really have is time.

 

If we are facing in the right direction,

all we have to do is keep on walking.

-Proverb

A Mommy-to-Be Intro

Daddy and I. (photo credit: Anthony Ratcliff)

Kept seeing this intro thing go around on Tumblr and decided to fill mine out.  It kind of reminds me of those surveys that used to go around on Myspace…  It’s always fun to answer questions about yourself, right?

Well it is to me.  :p

BASICS

Name: Ashley
Age: 28
Birth Date: May 17
Birth Place: Oakland, California
Height: 5’5″

How did you find out you were pregnant?: I kept peeing on myself a little.  My sister practically forced me to take a pregnancy test.
What kind of pregnancy test did you take?: My sister got one for me, I think it was EPT
How many?: One was quite enough
What were your first symptoms?: I think sore boobs.  It felt like they had mutated and turned against me.
Who did you tell first?: My sister, aside from the person who was in the room with me when I took the test.
Who was with you when you found out?: My husband Saalik.  I dragged him into the bathroom at 6 AM.
Was baby planned?: Yes indeedy
When was baby conceived?: Mid-December in Brooklyn, NY.
How far were you when you found out?: About 4 weeks

MY BABY
Due date: So far it’s September 7th (these things change)
Do you know the sex?:  Yep
If so, boy or girl?:  Boy!
Any names?: We have a name, but won’t be announcing it publicly.
Any ultrasounds?: I’ve had 4 or 5
Have you heard the heartbeat?: Yep – amazing each time.  Very strong.
Baby ethnicity?: Black on black.  😉
Who do you think baby will look like?: My husband and I both have such strong facial features.  I have NO IDEA.
Will baby have any siblings?: He has a very eager half brother.  That is all for a while.
Have you and dad felt baby move?: Every single day.  The highlight of our life at the moment.
MISCELLANEOUS 
Did you have morning sickness?: Oh boy did I!!  I had it on the subway in New York – even worse.
Did you have any cravings?: Lemonade, ice cold water, apples, ice cream, root beer, VERY spicy food and strangest of all….hot links.  I’m a vegetarian.
Did you have any mood swings?: Yes, but not terrible.  My husband may say different.
Are you a high risk pregnancy?:  Not at all.  A healthy lady of ideal child bearing age with a normal pre-pregnancy weight.
Any complications?: Two UTI’s and a small issue with drinking enough water in the beginning.  Its REALLY hard to down water when you’re nauseous.
Formula or breastfeeding?: Breastfeeding to the best of my abilities
Have you bought anything for baby yet?: Half a dozen or so outfits (couldn’t help it), a blanket and some shoes and booties.  Also received some gifts from friends and family.  But the baby shower isn’t for another few weeks.
When did you start to show?: Surprisingly early – around 10 or 11 weeks.  
How long could you wear your regular clothes?: For quite a while.  I don’t think I transitioned until around 15 weeks.  I just wore a lot of loose and stretchy clothes.
Are you excited?: <<< Probably the dumbest question I’ve ever heard.  Of course.
Who will help with baby after their born?: My mom plans on taking most of September off, and my sister will be around as well.  Daddy will be working but is willing to take the night shift.
What is your favorite thing about being pregnant?: All of it.  The kicks, the movements, the glow, the belly.  I love every minute of it.
What is the worst thing about being pregnant?: Nothing I can’t handle.  But there’s difficulty sleeping, muscle pain, Braxton Hicks contractions, skin stretching and itching, food aversions, less energy and of course…the waiting.  
What one thing do you miss doing since being pregnant?:  I miss having more comfortable sex.  Also wine and cheeba.  But nothing I can’t live without for a while.  
Any days you wish you weren’t pregnant?: Nope.  Not even the day I had to get off the subway to throw up, or the day I passed out on the 4 train.
Are you ready for baby?: I am ready for today.  Tomorrow I’ll be ready for tomorrow.
How many kids do you want?: I want as many as I can afford and handle and raise according to the lifestyle that I believe in. (aka – ONE most likely)
Do you talk to your baby?: Yes.  Always when I’m in the car alone.  I sing to him at night sometimes and I always apologize to him when I get upset at stuff.  I feel guilty because I know my mood affects him.
Do you like kids?: I love children – the idea of them and their innocence.  I tend to only LIKE children of close friends and close family.  I find that kids are a product of their parents and therefore can be awesome or quite the opposite.
How far along are you now?: 26 weeks and 5 days

This Thing

My new ritual – I wake up early and have breakfast.  I sit in my favorite chair and catch up on emails and whatever else.  The room is quiet and I am still and the morning light is percolating through the trees outside the windows.  After I’m done eating, there’s this moment when I can sit and feel my baby move.  It moves gracefully, tapping lightly – as though it knows we’re spending this time together just the two of us.  This knock-knock “I am here Mommy.”  This makes me anxious to meet my little belly dweller.

The “N” Word

Last night I had a dream that my baby was born and I had absolutely no memory of her birth (it was a girl in the dream although we don’t know the gender yet).  I had no recollection of her first cry, the pain of her crowning, the cutting of the umbilical cord…these details all had to be relayed to me.  I remember feeling cheated, as if I’d missed an amazing parade which was thrown in my honor.  I woke up feeling more sure than ever that my husband and I were making the right choice of birth plan.

We have decided to have our baby naturally and preferably at home.  It’s a decision that when shared with friends and acquaintances has sparked eyebrow raising and soap box speeches but also the occasional praise.  I’ve been reminded of the possibility of bleeding out after birth and told that it’s best to have a doctor present.  However, I’m convinced that my body, above any medical degree and institution, knows what’s best for my baby and myself.  I have no desire to be a number, rushed into a hospital and told by a staff of lackadaisical foreign eyes what’s best, how to deliver and when I’ve pushed long enough.  It’s not that I don’t trust the medical field at all, their place in society is as necessary as any other life affecting field (teachers, political leaders, sanitation workers) – however in my own research I’ve found outstanding evidence that in the field of obstetrics, the goal is often to get a baby out of a woman in the most efficient way possible.  Which is fine in the case of an emergency or at-risk pregnancy.  But for healthy women, such as myself, the goal should be to supervise and preserve a natural and beautiful experience with as much comfort and harmony as possible.  Giving birth is not a chore, a burden or a necessary evil.  As a life experience, it’s a rarity and it is what defines a woman in many ways – as we are born to do this task.  Even as I sit typing, my 17 week old fetus, if female, is carrying her own generation of eggs, ready to take the bumpy yet rewarding path of womanhood.  I’ve had so many people say, “We’ll see how you feel when that pain hits.”  I can only assume that I’ll feel the way I’ve felt when I’ve reached all the other seemingly impenetrable walls of my life – STRONG.

The decisions you make as an expectant parent can affect the rest of your child's life. Get the facts.

There are astounding statistics about the percentage of death rates among mother and baby in the world pin-pointing the US as one of the world leaders, also one of the highest for a preference to surgical births.  For example women in the US have a higher risk of dying during delivery than women in 49 other countries worldwide.  For all the technological advances available in the US, that number is absolutely astounding.  The rate of maternal death has doubled in the last 25 years along with the amount of non-emergency c-sections.  When a c-section was once a last resort up into the 80’s, c-section births now account for a third of all births.  In 1965 the c-section rate was just over 4%, and at last count (2007) US c-sections are at over 31% and rising.  Most people assume this is just science showing us simple-minded women a better way to have our babies.  But when taking a closer look at how beneficial surgical births are for hospitals, my opinion about their innocence changed.  Surgical births are not just an “efficient” way of delivering a baby – they are practically *McDonaldizing the process.  Births can now be scheduled far in advance, guaranteeing that a doctor will not be woken out of their sleep or taken away from their golf game to attend a 20-hour labor and delivery. It means less staff required to attend a birth, less hospital resources used to accommodate it – and similar to your last visit to Chevy’s or Applebee’s – a mother is in and out and handed her neat little bill in absolutely no time.

The downfall?  An incredible increase in health risks (we’re talking MAJOR surgery!), a serious risk to your baby and yourself, longer recovery time, and even withdraw (for you AND baby) from the medicines used to induce and numb you during the procedure.  These are only a sample among a list of hundreds of possible side effects including death – when deliveries are intervened by scalpel happy surgeons who were not trained in any way to provide care and mental support to a woman in labor.

Ladies – pregnancy is not a burden and delivering your little one is not an inconvenience.  It’s an amazing gift.  Being alert and aware during the process sets into motion the beginning of your journey as a mother.  Starting with the astonishing confidence we gain from having battled the pain independently to the once-per-birth boost of oxytocin – the love hormone we are flushed with when our baby emerges, which begins the flow of milk and our bond to the new life.  Our decisions as women are so often taken from us by the male-ran world in which we reside – and I won’t allow this one to be manipulated in any way.  We should be safe, and well-educated on our choices as women when facing the question of a birth plan.  We have every right to choose a medicated or planned birth if so we decide that is best for our babies.  However, do so with all the facts.

Resources:
Childbirth Connection: http://www.childbirthconnection.org/article.asp?ck=10456
Amnesty International: http://www.amnestyusa.org/our-work/campaigns/demand-dignity/maternal-health-is-a-human-right/maternal-health-in-the-us
*Wikipedia (“McDonaldization”): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonaldization

Back, Back to Cali, Cali….

Standing on Great Salt Lake with my baby bump facing the setting sun.

Well the road was LONG.  And I don’t just mean that figuratively.  My mother and I drove over 2900 miles down Interstate 80-W and it took a lengthy 5 days to do it.  Each night I stumbled wearily into another mid-lane hotel (Days Inn, Hampton Inn….you know…all the “Inns”) and asked for a room – being sure to bat my tired eyes and ask “Is that as low as you can go?”.  Hint to the novice traveler, always ask for a lower rate…it’s like hotels are set up to haggle.  Each night I got at least $20 knocked off the room rate, once I even got $50 knocked off.  My biggest priority was clean sheets, clean bathrooms and free hot breakfast in the morning (waffles!)…

As we got closer to California the relief washed over me.  Not because the long days on the stretched out winding highways and the random hunts for health-appropriate road-food would finally end; but because New York was now behind me (literally).  I moved to New York four years ago a directionless girl.  I simply wanted change and a challenge.  Boy did I find it.  Everything about New York is comparable to a pumice stone, smoothing out your uncertainties and rough edges.  I needed that.  I needed to be aware – overly aware – that I was capable of a lot more than I grew up believing. After I got married my focus shifted.  I wanted to be a wife, a GOOD wife.  I didn’t want to be a part-time anything.  I wanted to be the one putting dinner on the table for my hard-working guy, easing his stress with my calming presence.  It’s hard to have a calming presence when you’ve just fought people traffic for an hour and toughed off aggressive male advances for four blocks while walking through Bed Stuy in heels.  I longed for the calm, and with baby coming I knew the calm wasn’t just a preference but a REQUIREMENT.  So it was goodbye Big Apple, hello California sun.  Time to be close to grandmas and aunts and uncles….close to our “village” for the sake of little Wiggles.

Now that I’m home, I feel like I’ve left half of my body somewhere on that long highway last week.  I physically feel lighter, brighter and more relaxed.  It helps that I’m temporarily retired…no more work for me.  My husband and I committed to becoming a one-income household when kids come along before we got married and we’re sticking to it.  Lucky me I’m married to a man who prides himself on taking care of his family. I gracefully said goodbye to my corporate gig, silently vowing never to return to that kind of work.  Good bye to the faceless crowds of paper-pushers, meeting-makers and Blackberry-tappers.

Now with my days open and clear, I can make them what I want for now (till baby comes of course).  Mama yoga in the morning, a visit to see my 14 month old niece, a long walk around the park, a stroll through the department store – taking mental notes of crib prices.  I can catch up on my reading and painting and most importantly…my writing.  And best of all, I can place my hands on my now obvious baby bump and focus my positive energy on my little growing prince or princess.  The second trimester has brought back my appetite, a gorgeous glow, lots of energy, a new-found love for my beautiful body and amazing confidence.  I can’t wait for the rest!

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