From the category archives:

Psychological

This Guy

Please don’t crucify me for admitting this to the public at large, but I was a little worried all through my pregnancy that I wouldn’t bond with our baby.  It’s not that I didn’t want to be a mother… getting pregnant and extending our family was something I worked pretty hard at doing for a while.  From making sure I was healthy in every possible way to making sure I was somewhat financially sound before walking down the road to parenthood- I planned everything.

The thing is, I planned everything on a suspicion.  I suspected that becoming a mother might be a good step for me as a woman.  I suspected that having a child would be a great experience for Milton and me.  But like so many other times in my life, my faith was constantly questioning.  Would I be good enough for this guy?  Would I love him enough?  Clean our house enough?  Engage with him enough?  I even wrote to Milton in the middle of my pregnancy with worries that I would leave him with the baby, trotting back east to resume my selfish city girl high life because I just couldn’t take the parental heat.

I was worried that I would be one of those women who just didn’t connect with their babies.  Maybe I worried because having a baby was never a really concrete part of my life plan.  Maybe I worried because I have a hard time keeping up with my own business, much less the business of someone else.  Maybe I worried because I was so free and easy with abusing my body and burning the party candles at both ends for so many years that I wondered if I could really, REALLY be a responsible parent.  For whatever reason, I really worried about taking the heat and giving this guy the responsibility he deserved.

Being a responsible parent, to me, means being a loving parent.  Babies beg for love.  The children, teenagers, and adults they grow into beg for love.  Parental love is the first love any of us can beg to get.  If you care for a child, you are responsible for fulfilling all of that child’s needs, especially the need for love.  I wondered if I could possibly have enough love in me to put up with the spit, the diapers, the plastic baby gear, the aching back, the sleepless nights, or the belly that would lay beside me like a sad puppy after pregnancy.  I figured, if I can adapt to these MAJOR life changes, maybe I could hack my way through the other many years of parenthood.

Today, I am happy to report that I woke up on the second morning of our child’s life, after going through the shock of childbirth and the barely remembered haze of his first 24 hours, and saw my baby’s face in the first morning’s light.  He looked like such a sweet little buddha laying there, stirring in his swaddle and newborn cap!  I felt a surge of LOVE that I couldn’t believe, referred to him as Mr. Snugglepants, and kissed him all over his beautiful face.

Since then, I’ve only gotten worse with the doting.  This guy and I are bonded, for sure.

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40 Weeks, 6 Days

by Esther on Fri, May 14th, 2010

in Challenges,Psychological,Week 40

A Night of Hemingway

I was up all night last night with 45 second long contractions that started every 2.5 minutes.  It was very similar to a bit of false labor that happened last Sunday, but last Sunday’s hours of excitement and discomfort followed a cervical sweep, and this night did not.  This particular false labor followed a walk around the 3 mile path of GreenLake.

The walk was REALLY difficult, which surprised me.  Just a couple of weeks ago, I had no problem keeping up a terrific pace around the lake.  One week ago, I had no problem mounting the hills of Seattle on an hours and hours long walkabout with my husband.  This time I crept along at a snails pace.  The last mile of the lake about killed me.  Aching knees, aching feet, grumpy pants.  I could have curled up on any old patch of grass for a nap, but then I would have gotten to the car (and ultimately my bed) even later.  I can’t believe the difference one week post your due date makes!  I’ve always been in great shape, and feel a little broken.  I feel detached from my body in a way that I never have before.  I am watching my lumbering from afar.  Sometimes I wake from a nap and wouldn’t know I was pregnant… until I have to move and roll over to somehow make it up and to the bathroom for my every 10 minute trip to the toilet.  Everything is taking so much effort that I’m a little concerned about what a long labor is going to be like.  Having strong Braxton Hicks for 8 hours straight is not at all painful, but is absolutely exhausting.  Will real labor take even longer?  Will real labor be 10 times stronger… or 100?

We went in for a 41 week ultrasound today.  The baby looks great!  His cheeks are chubby like mine and we think he has his father’s eyes (which is how I always pictured him).  I felt as if I was cheating a little bit with our sneak peak, but placated myself with the knowledge that we were doing this to make sure everything was ok.

(Honestly, I knew everything was ok.  He’s totally chilling out in there.)

I’m exhausted today.  I just woke from a 4 hour nap and, having eaten a sandwich, am thinking about retiring for 4 more hours.  Maybe I’ll wake up in for real labor some day soon.  My sleeping schedule is totally screwed so I must be ready to be a newborn nursing mom, right?

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Control

by Milton on Wed, May 12th, 2010

in Psychological,Week 40

We don’t have any.

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Shhhhhhh

by Esther on Tue, May 11th, 2010

in Challenges,Pregnancy by week,Psychological,Week 40

Oh you guys! Honestly, we don’t need labor inducing tecniques. I get acupuncture needles all over my body, have been inserting Evening Primrose Oil for weeks, love awkward pregnant intimacy with my husband (even if I don’t want to talk about it on our blog), have had cervical sweeps, walk all the time, spend lots of time meditating, eat pineapple sprinkled with cayenne (ok mostly because that’s delicious!) and on and on and on and on and on and on. And then on. And on. Really. Truly. Madly. Deeply.

We know. We hear you! We read the books you recommended. We talked to our midwives. I get calls, texts, emails, facebook wall messages, gchats, facebook chats, and even pretty snail mail cards from everyone in our community. We love you all for that, but are feeling a little overwhelmed. And, honestly, we understand that none of it really works if the baby’s not ready.

I am trying to relax and not feel exhausted by pregnancy. I am madly looking forward to the batch of babymoon hormones I will get when our little crane decides that it’s high time he arrives. In the meantime, my best friend is going to arrive via plane tomorrow! We hadn’t been intending to have her here at the birth… but that could be awesome if it happens. Whatever comes with our imminent futures will be awesome as long as everyone remains in good health and high spirits.

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Ok, it’s true.  The end of pregnancy gets weird.  I once read a tweet from a recently pregnant girl that said something along the lines of, “It’s like waiting for a houseguest who hasn’t told you exactly when he was coming, who will stay for 18 years.”  That’s true.  On top of that, there are all of these amazing hormones that a lady has to deal with.  Alternately, they have me spaced out, bone tired, become a weeping madonna, or they cause me to buzz about like a squirrel in November making last minute preparations for hibernation.  I’ve had me some manic episodes, but never combined in quite this way.  Usually, the buzzy squirrel (by far my favorite hormone-induced personality manifestation) comes after 10pm, and often stays until 2am, after which point I find myself meditating my way to sleep, which is great hypno-breathing practice.  Without a great effort towards breath meditation, there is no way I would even sleep after 2am.  We no longer sleep before 2am in this house!  We also no longer get out of bed before 11.  It’s just not possible.  This baby dictates these hours from within.

World, did you know that you can walk around with your cervix 3cms dilated, while breathing through non-progressive (and not painful) 30 second contractions that come every 2.5 minutes, for a whole day, without being in labor?  I did not!  My uterus has been doing lots of work without really bothering me too much.  Hopefully this means that when showtime comes along, I will need to work a little less.  I don’t really know.  The whole birthing process is still such a great mystery to me, even after reading all 50 of the books on our shelves and having a somewhat solid base understanding of the science that goes on behind the madness.

I am on my way to get some acupuncture at my midwifery office.  We are hoping to nudge this little crane down a bit.  He doesn’t seem to understand yet that, while it’s great that he’s comfortable, a bit more pressure on my cervix will bring him to his second home- The Outside World- where we spend a lot of time laughing, dancing, and cuddling.  Milton keeps telling my belly, “You can come out now.  There are warm blankets here!”

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I had the hardest time sleeping last night because of a relentless windstorm… and a bit of a storm in my mind that I’ll keep to myself as far as this blog is concerned.

I woke up today at noon, after a few hours of rest, and am still exhausted. I’m so low energy today that I’m boring myself. Finally just drug myself to the mirror to put on some lipstick a minute ago, and am looking forward to a walk with my husband, and then a movie with friends.

I just thought to myself, “If I’m really right about having this baby right around my due date, I’m going to be a full on mom by this time next week, for certain.”

That’s just crazy. And awesome. And hilarious!

boredpants. waiting and anticipating.

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I’ve finished working!  Which of course brought about a round of emotions last night at dinner.  I can’t recall the last time I straight up didn’t work for 4+ months.  I must have been about 10 years old.  As soon as I finished my last client yesterday, I felt a wave of “What in the heck am I supposed to do now?”

Of course, I have a long list of things I need to get done before the baby comes.  After the baby comes, that list dissolves into all the things that are completely imminent!  Breast feeding.  Burping.  Swaddling.  Rocking.  Catching whatever sleep I can.  Rinsing and repeating until something changes in the overall baby scheme and I have to reformulate my parenting style completely.  Intellectually, I am aware of all of this.  I’ve read about 100 books and talked to at least 100 moms.  I’ve got all the stories, all the supplies, and all the information.  Of course, I have no real knowledge of what having a newborn will actually BE like, because I have never had a newborn.  I’m looking forward to experiencing something altogether new, but am of course a little apprehensive about being the best possible parent I can be.

My mother suggested recently in a facebook comment that it’s ok to be scared.  I immediately felt defensive!  Defensive is my go-to emotion whenever anyone suggests that I am, in any way, vulnerable.  Goodness forbid I should appear to be vulnerable!  Luckily, I am able to afford being self-aware, and was thus able to step back from my defensive stance and investigate.  Am I scared?  I don’t really think I am.  I don’t think that’s why I’m crying here and there, all overwhelmed with emotion.  Frankly, I think I’m crying here and there because my hormones are peaking with impending babyhood…. but that’s not to say that the emotions that are coupled with the hormones are anything but totally viable.  I am emotional because my time alone with my husband as my only immediate family (side note: my parents and siblings are technically immediate… but live 3k miles away.  This is less… immediate.  Obviously).  I am emotional because I have no idea what the life ahead of us will be like.  On a lesser scale, I am emotional because I missed the Wedding Present perform Bizzaro at The Crocodile the other night (alas, I am too pregnant for shows right now) and because I can no longer just skip out into the city to catch shows or grab drinks at bars.  I am emotional because I might never have visible abs again.  Everything is changing!  When you can afford to be self-aware, you can’t help but well-up a little with emotion.

I’ve said it before, many times.  Pregnancy is  a long time.  A whole lot happens in 40 weeks!  There is a whole process that we have gone through as a family to prepare us for the next step.  I’m not feeling emotional because I haven’t prepared myself for life on baby island.  I’m 34 years old and filled with all the love and capability that is necessary.  Arguably, I am a fantastic candidate for a mothering job.  I’ve worked out all my kinks, gotten jollies in my career, let the ants in my pants make me break dance, lived in several desirable cities, and generally ensured that I’m not going to freak out and wonder if there was something I didn’t DO before building a house on baby island.  I’ve got a solid loving relationship with a partner who is a fantastic candidate for a fathering job.  I’m also seasoned enough to know that I’ll DO plenty more as my child grows and my family progresses.  I’m ready.  But until the time comes and the whole transformation occurs- I am over here feeling grateful, reflective, and emotional.

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I love how Baby Center tells me what I should be afraid about.

Here are the seven deadly fears:

  1. Will I be able to provide for my family?
  2. Will I be able to “perform” during Esther’s labor?
  3. Am I really the baby daddy?
  4. Does this mean that my life is over?
  5. Will Esther and Axelrod be okay?
  6. Will Esther love Axelrod more than me?
  7. Should I be afraid of hospitals in general?

I guess the point of listing all of these fears is to help people who are afraid feel like they’re “normal”.  But I can’t help but feel that they also serve to reinforce stereotypes that are about weakness, insecurity, and irrationality and offering them as ways to be.  Even if you weren’t necessarily afraid of these things before reading the list, someone might read the list and think, yeah, maybe I SHOULD be worried about the paternity of my baby.

It could be simply because, as I ease into a new role, I’m hyper aware of the pressures that attempt to mold me, inform me of my new role, give subtle clues, social cues, etc to help me along the way.  But where are the articles from Baby Center that talk about the strong stereotypes, the new fathers that feel secure in their ability to provide, have no squeamishness of blood and tears, know they’re the father, that life is not over, that everyone will be okay, that there will be more than enough love to go around, and that are either avoiding hospitals or are confident in their abilities?  Why does everything have to be about fears?

Even though Baby Center is by far the most popular, and in many ways the most informative, website for expecting new parents, it’s articles like this that make me realize that they sort of suck.

[Seven fears expectant fathers face]

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Bad Days Happen

by Esther on Sun, Feb 28th, 2010

in Challenges,Pregnancy by week,Psychological,Week 30

For the most part, it’s not difficult to dedicate myself to making a whole human being that will be a part of my family linage and history forever.  It’s a pretty beautiful job to have, after all, and I am the only person I know in this family who can bare children with my husband, so I’ve got to be up to the challenge if I want to expand our awesome little family…

But, honestly, there are some not so nice days.  On Thursday, I had my first full-on pregnancy break down.  I had worked for my usual 8 hours, but was exhausted with horrible acid reflux and counting down each client and each hour.  Luckily, it’s easy for me to keep my game face on when I’m with my clients.  After all, their time is time that they are paying me for!  It’s not my time to collapse into a ball of pregnant emotions.  I have to not only tough it out, but be the best I can possibly be for the people who make my livelihood possible.  So, that said, I was perfectly fine at work.  I had my amazing and warm-hearted assistants helping me out with shampoos while I took 5 minute breaks to sit quietly and rest my back.  I made it through 7pm, 8pm, and finally through the wicked-tired hour of 9pm…

I packed my bag, walked home, and opened the door to a dark house at 9:30.  I stood in the kitchen for a minute and thought about cooking dinner.  My feet screamed.  My back moaned.  I literally threw up in my mouth a little for the hundredth time that day… and then dear friends, I just lost it and began to sob with the drama of a heartbroken teenager.  I gave it a minute before trying to gather up my senses into some semblance of adult and motherlike behavior, and then I lost it again.  I moved to the bed and just cut loose.  My husband arrived home a few seconds later.  Of course he was super concerned that I was bleeding or contracting, and searching for signs of a newborn on the floor… and I here I was having a hard time even communicating through my sobs that I was totally fine and just needed to cry for a minute.  Eventually, we set our communication straight, he held me and soothed me, and I ultimately got out of bed to make us a delicious and highly complex late dinner of almond butter, jam and apple sandwiches before settling back into bed (bringing my sandwich along for the ride) with a book I couldn’t concentrate on because I was having so much ligament discomfort… Eventually I just did a whole lot of hypnobreathing practice until falling asleep soundly in my fortress of pillows.

That seemed to be a somewhat late official introduction into the third trimester.  I’m puffy.  I’m farting.  I’m getting bigger and bigger.  I’m super tired.  And I’m getting annoyed!  I don’t like that Saturday night means DRUNK IDIOT NIGHT to everyone but me.  I don’t like that everyone wants to walk faster than I can handle.  I don’t like that I have to ask for an anchoring hand to help me off the darn couch.  I don’t like that I stepped on the new closet shelving system that I just built and broke it like an idiot.  I don’t like having to order my thai delivery with no spice like a total weakling.  I don’t like that there are so many things that I don’t like.  I annoy myself when I get off my regularly scheduled program of being a happy person who honestly has everything she could possibly need.

Luckily, there will always be good days to balance out the bad.  I intend to dive into those days, eat them up, savor them, and digest them like the fantastic nutrition they are.  Apparently I’m going to need the extra good-feeling nutrients for the next few crazy months.  In the meantime, I leave you with an image of what I look like when I’m having an ill-tempered moment:

When the 3rd trimester can suck it...

While I’m at it… bad days don’t only happen when I’m pregnant, that’s for certain.  I’m wondering what will happen when I want to tear my hair out and I have a child that I have to behave for.  Is this when parents switch off for a little while?  OH the things I need to learn!

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Imminence

by Esther on Sun, Feb 28th, 2010

in Parenthood,Pregnancy by week,Psychological,Week 30

The other day, one of my wonderful clients was booking her next appointment for her haircut and color at the salon. I asked what the date of her appointment was, and it turned out to be a good 11 days before my last day at work. I was surprised that I had so much work time left and searched for a word to explain my surprise.

“Everything just feels so… so….” I stumbled to find the words.

“Imminent!!” she exclaimed.

And that has become my word for this week. Maybe it’s my word for the next few years. Every moment Milton and I have alone makes me grasp to hold it tightly – these moments are bound for imminent change. Every kick I feel is one less kick I will feel with this baby inside of me. Everything precious is only precious for right this moment, and about to give way to other new and precious things, which will in turn slip away for even more things new and precious.

I looked up at him today and said, “Can you believe we’re having a baby?”

He replied, “And that baby will turn into a kid, and that kid will turn into an adult…”

“And he will be a member of our family,” I said, “And it will always be the three of us, after all this time of it being the two of us.”

It’s a pretty magical and confounding thing to realize that life as you know it is about to become completely and beautifully upheaved.  It will become life as we never knew it.  It will be a completely new journey that we can’t possibly be completely prepared for.  No amount of book reading or closet cleaning is going to make us more aware of what life will really be like once pregnancy ends.  And pregnancy ends in the not too distant future….

Milton and Sopor cuddle at dusk.

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