Archive for the ‘birth’ Category

I have no baby pictures: my digital camera decided to not work. Sam has promised to email me some when he gets home.

Arwen had to go to the hospital because she tested positive for type-B Streptoccocal bacteria and she had to be placed on an antibiotic. Makes for a bummer of a birth experience when you want to have a midwife-delivered all-natural childbirth experience, but that’s OK. This hospital had incredible staff, very knowledgeable staff, and Arwen had a wonderful doula to help her. So despite the IV that had to be plugged in every four hours, everything looked pretty cool.

But the contractions were just mild little things, hardly enough to catch her breath and not enough to dilate her. We walked a lot. In circles, around the maternity ward. In comparison, I had a scenic place to walk when I was in labor and it wasn’t progressing: I walked around downtown Milwaukie, Oregon. But when you’re pregnant and huge, scenery isn’t really what you have in mind.

There was another couple taking walks around the maternity ward: east Indian in appearance, both were tall and slender except for the round ball of baby that she was carrying in her womb. We never spoke to them: they had eyes only for each other and walked steadily around and around, wrapped up in their love and the imminent birth of their child.

All day, babies were born. Crowds of people filled thee outer waiting room, then moved on as mothers and infants were moved to the post-partum rooms. Don and I took Sam to lunch. We took Sam to dinner. We waited. Played cards. Walked. By mid-afternoon, Arwen was tired and weepy and frustrated that her body wasn’t moving very fast. She was tired physically and tired of being pregnant and swollen and huge. We tried to let her sleep, but the contractions were enough to keep her awake.

The nurse midwife presented Arwen with some options later in the evening, options which were not really in Arwen’s plan for her birth but which were perhaps more practical. She showered and thought on it. She prayed. Late, late at night, she decided to allow the staff to put a low-dose of pitocin in her IV, to soften the cervix and remind her body that there was still a job to do. We left her there, in the capable hands of her doula and her beloved, Sam.

Early this morning, we started the 40-minute drive back to the hospital. Halfway there, Sam called to say that Arwen was dilated to 8cm and would we mind staying in the waiting area when we arrived? Not a problem. It was quiet and only one other person was sitting out there, waiting: a beautiful woman from India who looked to be a grandmother. We shared a few smiles across the room, and at one point, she asked me a few questions in her broken English.

She flew out here from her home in India to be at her oldest daughter’s side when she gave birth to the first grandchild. Her daughter was named Shilba and it was she who had been walking the halls, endlessly, at the same time Arwen was. She was admitted early Monday morning and was now in the final stages of labor. This beautiful woman said “we must pray God for safe birth. Pray God, yes?” Yes, I agreed, we must pray to God.

I’d like the story to continue quietly on, but around 10, the waiting room filled with people. There were two groups of Caucasion Americans with toddlers in tow. They were not necessarily boistrous, but the volume increased exponentially. At the same time, a small family group of two women, a dignified older man and a simply adorable little girl came into the waiting room. They were of some Mediterranean descent, speaking in a fast-paced romance based language that I could not discern, and they were boistrously loud but trying to be quiet. They took over the table where my Indian friend sat, but she smiled and took it all in. The little girl was adorable – did I say that? She was adorable and obviously well-loved. Her father came out with a camcorder and showed the family pictures of the new baby, then he took her back to see if her mother was ready for visitors. Somewhere in there, I smiled and mentioned she was adorable. When she returned, the women who were watching her, her very loving extended family members – they had her tell me “thank you.” I melted.

I wasn’t sure I could deal with the noise level, adorable little girl or new acquaintance from India or not. But then a teary-eyed pick-bloused woman came bursting into the room, desperately searching for the waiting grandparents… And we leaped to our feet, shouting “Are we grandparents?” And Patricia, the doula, burst into joyful tears. She could barely speak. They needed someone to cut the umbilical cord because Sam just couldn’t do it.

So we met our grandson as the midwife and nurse cleaned up the afterbirth. Don cut the cord, just like he cut Arwen’s cord, and Levi’s after her. Arwen was in a stupor of love and exhaustion, holding onto her son with a gentle but formidable grip and staring into his eyes. Sam said he’d begun to cry when he saw Zephan crown, and he’d only now begun to calm down. Sam doesn’t calm down much. he looked shell-shocked, and until he was able to stand and touch Zephan all over, I don’t think it seemed very real to him.

Arwen pushed for thirty minutes. Once Zephan was in the birth canal, he was all business and came so quickly the midwife almost missed him. He was right on time, still waxy with vernix and sporting a fine red-brown fuzz atop his perfectly round little head. Yes, his head was round, quickly healing from the journey. He was aware, amazed, calm, active. He knew instinctively how to nurse and latched on with a thirst. I was a little jealous of that “Oh!” Arwen made when he first latched on and she felt the first let-down: I remember that sensation.

So he is here. Everyone has been called except my brother and I will probably do that soon. The kids stayed at the hospital, asking that no guests come to visit except the God-parents. Don and I returned home to life is normal – except now we wear the title of “Grand” before our names.

As we left the maternity ward for the last time, I chanced to see my friend from India sitting at the table. She, too, was a grandmother for the first time by then, and was waiting for her daughter to be moved to the post-partum ward. She will be here for four months to help her girl out. I stopped to say good-bye and she stood up to say farewell. An awkward half second, then we embraced, gently, and she said, “I hope we meet again.”

I do, too.


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Bad News & Good News

It has been an exhausting three days and I cannot begin to put it all into one post. First off, there’s the spiritual quest I have been on, trying to find my niche in the church after a five year sabbatical (and not even certain I want to be back in the church). Then there was the bad news. Which was followed very quickly by the good news. And somehow, they all intertwine with each other.

I’ve been reading Donald Miller: I finished “Blue Like Jazz” last week and opened “Searching for God Knows What” Friday. I was very convicted that I need to return to the church, but so unsure of what church and how. Without going into the politics of the thing, it was the politics that pushed me out. The church I attended has undergone some changes in the past five years (notably a change in pastors) and I have kept strong ties with some of the people from that church, separate from the politics and doctrinal issues. We were friends and we have remained friends.

For several Sundays now, I have almost – not quite – gone to church. That church. the one I wasn’t sure I wanted to go back to but where my friends still are (for the most part: there remains a number of us who left and who won’t return).

Enter Bad News. One of those friends who remained at the church committed suicide on Sunday. A really nice, decent, honest, caring – you know the sort of man: there isn’t a bad adjective you can put in a description of him, except perhaps “depressed.” I don’t know the circumstances, only what was in the newspaper and the little I gleaned from the friend who called and told me on Sunday night. He jumped from The Bridge of the Gods into the Columbia River, some 145 feet below. There’s no body: the Columbia keeps her secrets for awhile. There were searches, perhaps still are some, but there were witnesses and there is no doubt that he jumped and died. I haven’t spoken to his widow (my friend) only because I have been asked to wait a few days by my ex-pastor’s wife, who remains one of my closest friends. Which is how the whole church thing ties in: I think God wants me to return to that church because I have such good friends there and unfinished business to attend to that involves those friends. If you had asked me a week ago if friendship was a reason to choose a church, I probably would have said it matters, but I was going for a more spiritual (holy holy) reason.

Perhaps friendship is spiritual enough, and perhaps it is more than enough to override our doctrinal differences. And I haven’t been there since the changing of the guard – I may just love it now that my good friend’s husband really is the senior pastor. Whatever the case is: I promised her I would be there on Sunday and I have volunteered to help the church members take meals to the widow and her children, just as if I had never walked out of those doors to take a sabbatical from church and politics.

But that’s only the church and bad news part of the past few days.

The good news came around 2:30 in the morning, Monday, when I was still reeling from the bad news and was trying not to dream of bad things. My oldest daughter called to say her water broke. She called back at 6AM to tell me she was at the hospital and would we  (her father & I) would come to be with her. Fortunately, we both have jobs where we can take that kind of time off on such short notice, and we went.

I’ll post a birth story from Grandma’s perspective tomorrow, but here’s the gist of it: Zephaniah Phillip came into the world slightly less than 48 hours after a very good man left the world. He weighed 8#12oz and was 20 3/4″ long.

Long before our mutual friend died, I knew I had to call my ex-pastor’s wife as soon as I became a grandma. 19 years of friendship. Our kids grew up together. A grandbaby is a big deal.

When we hung up the phone this late afternoon, we both asked the same question: why have we allowed life to get in the way? We need to celebrate life and embrace it – and nurture those friendships.

Tomorrow: Grandma’s Observations on Zephan’s Arrival

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January is over. Well, almost. Groundhog’s Day is on Saturday. That’s a nice, mystical day. I did a quick study online on the history of the day and was amused to find it was celebrated long before there was a groundhog with the cumbersome nomer of “Puxatawny Phil” attached to him. That comforts me: I rather resent that some east coast mammal can tell me whether or not I am going to have six more weeks of winter in the western portion of the USA.

We’re going to have around six more weeks of winter, regardless. March 20 marks the next equinox. You just can’t win.

I put my wildflower seeds in the freezer, to give them a good chill. I collected them in zones where a hard freeze is a certainty: it is not a certainty in zone 8, where I live. I’ll pull them out of the freezer and start them this weekend and next. Probably next: I have a couple baby showers to attend this weekend, one of which is in my own living room. That is, we will have a baby shower *if* Baby Zephan agrees to wait to be born. As of today, he was busy nestling his little head in position and Arwen was miserably uncomfortable.  I don’t remember that feeling because neither one of my kids burrowed into position until just prior to birth and well into labor. It sounds as if Zephan is not going to do anything weird like Arwen (who wrapped up in her umbilical cord and couldn’t drop) or Levi (who was posterior until I was 9 cm and we turned him): he’s turned right and his little head is right where it needs to be.

Maybe he will be a Groundhog (or is it a Hedgehog? Sam is German and Arwen’s roots are vaguely German: Presley is a Germanic name derived from Pressler)? The Irish in me rebels. Oh, heck, the Scots in me rebels. How dare he give in to his German roots? Oh, heck, he  could be born on Feb 2 and still appease the Scots & Irish: Imbolc. Kind of fascinating to see where my people come from, religiously and otherwise.

(Actually, he will be a Rat: the Chinese Astrological Sign for his year of birth is the Rat. His mom is a Rat.)

Not all of us are anticipating a baby or worrying about the length of winter. My co-gardener (the one I currently am angry with over his indiscriminate “pruning” of my tree peaonies) wishes winter would never end and that much more snow would fall. Murphy is of good strong German heritage. He’s hoping for more winter. He loves snow.  4.jpg

Yeah, he’s turning into a handsome puppy. He’s not as hairy as I thought he would be, but he’s got nice lines.

I haven’t told him that I planted some aroid bulbs, but I noticed he’s been digging where I planted other bulbs last autumn… Darn this dog! He thinks he is a Master Gardener. Or maybe he thinks he is invincible. Did I mention he chewed a wood glue stick the other day? Into tiny little pieces. I don’t think he ingested any.

He’s been loving the snow that we’ve had this past week. He will be disappointed if the groundhog sees his shadow. He’s a Pig, by the way. That explains everything.

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After Arwen was born, there were moments of déja vu as the dreams and visions I’d had came to pass. I think God allowed me those so I would not fear losing her: the miscarriage upset me a lot.

She was pushing two when I got pregnant again. As I grew larger (and more miserable – I simply was not a pleasant pregnant person), I would try to explain to her what was going to happen and how we were going to add another child to her world. I drew many little comic strips demonstrating the steps we’d be taking. She would go to stay with a prearranged sitter (I did not think seeing her mother in pain was an advisable plan: others may differ), then Don & I would go to the birth center for a classic delivery assisted by very capable midwives. Right.

Actually, Levi chose to go by the book. Other than being posterior (a problem which was solved by squatting during one very intense contraction), Levi was one wonderful birth experience. Seven minutes from the above mentioned contraction, he crowned. Ten pounds, three and one-half ounces, born on his due date without a tear or episiotomy or other complication. Wonderful child that he is (he had plans for rebellion later in life, why let us in on them at birth?)

I decided to stop at two. My decision was prompted by two factors: I’m a miserable pregnant person who looks like a stick that swallowed a beach ball and I didn’t want to think about how large the third child would be.

She was 60#.

She was also ten years old.

Backing up a little, let me add this: I didn’t even know her in utero. My first introduction to her was a dream on May 6, 1991. I dreamt my sister was giving birth and there was a huge spiritual battle going on the room where she was in labor. Some demonic being hovered and I wanted/needed to chase it out of the room. I labored in my dream, tossing, turning, and calling out on God until I felt a release that the angels in Heaven prevailed. I chalked the dream up as one of those nightmares I continually have. I’ve been having them since I was a toddler, and this one was similar to one I had when I was a teenager where I dreamt I was ten and an orphan. I didn’t know where I was going to live.

My foster sister called the next evening to tell me that my sister had been pregnant and was now the new mother to a baby girl, born at 2AM on May the 6th.

In 2000, my baby sister died. In 2001, her rebellious ten year old daughter took a chance on an aunt and uncle she’d met only a few times and came to live with us because she hated her stepfather and she missed her mother. She turned sixteen last Sunday.

I have never quite figured out what I did wrong that God decided I needed to raise three teenagers, but it must have been a whopper of a deed. Sweet?? Sixteen

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