Monday, December 12, 2016


sunday nights and you lock yourself in your bathroom. the bathroom that is half painted from it's renovation months ago that you swear one of you will get around to one day. you lock the door and light two tea candles and turn the water temperature way up. not the luke warm water when your nine month old is splashing in the tub with you. her name means "from the woods" but it should be from the water because of the way she easily took to the tub. from the start in her baby tub you filled at the kitchen sink, she slid into the water and her body relaxed effortlessly.
the water is hot. burning almost. and the lights are off. the winters moon shining outside on the snow that has fallen. every school aged child wishing for the first snow day of the winter. and you get in the tub and your shoulders fall and the steam is rising off your legs and you notice you still haven't painted your toenails. chipped paint the past two months.
in the water and you picture all of the germs washing off of your body. the snot. the croupy cough. the hot breath sticky with fever. the viruses that encompass your being because they need you. just the way you needed your parents the other night when your son woke up and couldn't catch his breath from his coughing and your husband was night fishing, so you called your mom. you still need your mom. just like they need you. when your daughter tries to nurse but her nose is completely blocked and she falls asleep on you sitting up and you try not to move, even though your neck is cramping and you swear you won't be able to function the next day because once again, no sleep, but you'll do anything for her to get some sleep of her own.
four years of marriage and two babies later and it seems the lowest times and the most trying times of our relationship is when there is a prescription waiting to be picked up at the pharmacy. "who is going to pick up the prescription". and the lysol wipes. and more vitamin c. and some kind of magic oil blend to diffuse through our little house so these little people can breathe through their noses.
winter- and gray and everyone says "it's that time of year" and we're exhausted and yet still full of love. this is the truest feeling, the realest of them all. the times of motherhood that aren't discussed. the sitting on the couch with your husband and a sleeping baby on your lap and you look at him and say "I miss you" even when he is right there.
and after the four year old is asleep. and finally the baby is propped up in her crib. the two of you crawl under the covers and he curls against you and wraps his arms around you and your ankle presses against his calf and for a solid two hours you sleep soundly. just as you had before all those nights just the two of you. you still need him.  and he needs you too.  and the four of you will get through winter.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

summers end

the swing. pushing my four year old. i think of the summer passing. the changes. becoming a big brother to the sister he always knew he had. even before anyone else knew she was inside, he did. even before anyone else knew she was a girl, he did. before anyone else knew her name, he had already chosen sylvie. and he was right.

i push him and his bruised legs begin to pump. the bruises of a four year old boy who plays hard. the summer of learning the two wheel bike. crying because he wants a skateboard. doing tricks now on his scooter and looking for more adventure. a summer of new independence. getting himself ready for bed, picking out his outfit for the next day, teaching his baby sister little lessons and making his voice deeper than it actually is. and yet every night still asking that i lay with him, and then still wrapping his little arms around me and breathing into my neck. the other night after he was asleep i snuck out of his bed. he woke up an hour later and started crying, something he hasn't done in over a year. when i opened the door he was sitting in his bed, "why did you leave me all alone" he said.

i push him and see the sun tan on his neck. from our adventure at the beach, the last grand finale of the summer vacation. the nights in that big beach house with our family, and the mornings when he would find his little cousin and they'd walk down to grammy and papa's room. their feet echoing through the halls and laughing.

i push him. each push he comes back to me. the start of the school year when he walks into the building i went to school in. the preschool teacher who taught my baby brother now teaching my baby. he tells me he doesn't want to leave me. like a kick in the gut.  i don't want him to leave me. and yet i give him the extra push he needs to walk into the building alone.

one push.
the last summer of pushing the small of his four year old back
one push.
you're as much theirs as you are mine now
one push.
nothing lasts forever
one push
but you're still mine more

Friday, March 25, 2016


My mom gave birth to four children. Three of those birth's were natural. No medication. No epidural. Just my mom and her Lamaze training and breathing techniques. I often heard my aunts and mom discussing childbirth growing up. One of my older cousins who just had her first son asked my mom in shock, "but how did you give birth without meds?!"
 "I loved feeling the babies come out" my mom responded calmly, sending the women in the room gasping.

Growing up, "all natural" was common for us. My mom began studying homeopathy after her first was born. She became immersed, reading all she could, practicing, attending seminars, becoming friends with well known Harvard graduate homeopathic doctors, starting a study group in town meeting once a month at the local library. When we were sick, we would ask for a remedy. If my mom couldn't prescribe us the right one, or if we needed antibiotics my dad would be the one to take us to his friend who was a doctor, knocking on the side door of the building so he could check our throats and ears. My mom would always say she could have found the right remedy, but it was good that we got checked.

When I was pregnant with my first, my mom went in the attic and brought down all of her childbirth books. Most written in the 70's, I read them and giggled at the pictures. I brushed over them, reading only what interested me, always knowing that I would be able to get an epidural. I didn't need to study the different birthing positions, or the focal points needed to breathe through a contraction. I was just fine with getting an epidural.

My son, Finn, was eleven days late. I was induced and the induction was long. After 36 hours and complications with my blood platelets being low, I was able to get an epidural with a consent that my husband had to sign that said I could be paralyzed. He signed it, and later told me he went out in the hall and cried. Was this the right thing to do? I was able to sleep, and although I couldn't feel my legs, my husband reassured me I was moving my feet and that I was fine. I hated the sensation. I was tied down to the bed, and although the pain was gone, I was scared and nervous and uneasy.
After almost two days, I pushed for 25 minutes and my son was born. Healthy, strong and much bigger than the nurses expected.

After birth, my mom came in the room and cried. "Check your phone" she said, "I was hiding across the hall in an empty room. I was sending you power text messages the whole time!" Forgetting until I looked at my phone hours later, I saw over 40 messages from my mom. I read them smiling and laughing: "You can do this, Carly! You can do this! You're pushing. I hear the baby! Never mind, that was a baby down the hall. Keep pushing! He's here. I love you. You did it." She was so happy to be a grandmother. Never once did she say she was disappointed I got the epidural, and I truly knew she wasn't.

Three years later, and I'm pregnant again. The second pregnancy and it's completely different from the start. Sick, back pain, sciatic pain. We opted out of finding the sex this time. We checked my blood platelets throughout the pregnancy. They were dropping, and I knew if they continued to drop that maybe this time I wouldn't be able to get the epidural. I didn't think about it much. I didn't have time to, chasing around a three year old. 

And then one afternoon, while lying in bed with my son trying to get him to nap, I sat up and my water broke. Stunned, I looked over and told him what had happened. "The baby is coming!!!" he screamed and jumped up. After some calls and my mom coming over to be with Finn, we were off to the hospital.

It was confirmed my water broke but my contractions were not consistent. They needed to start me on pitocin to get them to speed up, and to get me further dilated, as I was just two centimeters. We checked my blood platelets, they had actually gone up since the last time. I was clear for the epidural and felt a sense of relief.

"Do you want the epidural right now?" the nurse asked. I declined with the fear of losing feeling in my legs again, I wanted to walk around to start.

The pitocin kicked in quickly as it does. Contractions coming quicker and stronger. They checked me and I was at 4 centimeters. " I think I need the epidural soon" I said to our nurse who told me the anesthesiologist was in with a c-section patient and that they would come to me next. An hour went by. I was on my hands and knees, I was using the peanut ball they have in the room you place between your knees to help open your pelvis, I was using my husband as a crutch, standing with my hands around him, him holding me up during the strongest point of the contraction.

Another hour passes. Another emergency c-section keeps the anesthesiologist. And then another hour, and another c-section. Three c-sections and no epidural yet. I couldn't believe what was happening. The feelings, the emotions, waiting, and the pain. "Where are they??" I started screaming at one point. WHERE ARE THEY?! I looked at my husband for help.
I thought of the books in my mom's attic.  I thought of my mom who had done this thirty years ago. I thought of the baby I would meet soon. I thought of my three year old sleeping in his bed, waking up in the morning to meet his new brother or sister. I could feel the baby moving down. I could feel everything.

Still no epidural, and all of a sudden, the intense need to push. The doctor on call not even making it to the hospital on time, I found myself with three nurses and my husband surrounding me, and I'm ten centimeters and I'm about to push whether they are ready or not. It was happening. I was giving birth without an epidural and I couldn't believe I was strong enough. I couldn't believe I was able. I couldn't believe that after only five minutes of pushing, after bursting blood vessels in my face and my right eye, after gripping my husband's shoulders as the nurse said the baby's head was out and I needed to get the shoulders out, and with one last push, I felt the baby come out just as my mom had. And then I could not believe when the doctor said "she's here" and I looked and saw my daughter, new and wet and crying. My daughter, yes, there she was. And when they placed her on my chest and that feeling of euphoric bliss and happiness melted through my body in such a way only giving birth can, I didn't believe it again and asked my husband if I was dreaming.

Later, my mom told me that when my husband sent the last group text out saying it was too late to get an epidural, my mom felt a little sense of pride. She said she knew I was strong enough to go without it. She said she believed I could do it.

Just like I believe now for my own daughter.

She can do anything.



Tuesday, January 26, 2016


The rolling happened around 30 weeks.
A foot in the rib cage. A fist in the pelvis. A little back pressing out of my side, like a tiny hill forming beneath the earth.
The stretching.
The creaking of our wooden floors when I walk up and down the steps now. I make more noise with each step. This new gained weight. The weight of it all.
The giving starts as soon as the growing.
That pang of exhaustion that can not be compared to anything else. 2pm and the strain to keep my eyes open. The identity changing- I don't feel like myself. I don't look like myself. But I'm still here.
I'm still me.
The sciatic pain that catches me like a flash of lightning. Down my back and leg with such force.
The upper back pain. How different it is this time around.
But wait- there's that fist. Or a foot. Who are you?
What are you doing in there?
I imagine you. Different days in different scenarios.
A wild little boy, long hair. I can't picture you as a baby but I can vividly imagine you as a toddler. Chasing your older brother. Finding sticks for the camp fire. Fighting over toys and then laughing together.
And then some days, I see a baby girl. A chubby baby girl with a little button nose that I kiss after birth. Big, delicious thighs.  Those ten tiny toes with the wrinkles on the bottom.
I'm out of breath now so easily. I was once strong. Now walking up the stairs and I'm winded. Reflections in the passing windows each time catch me by surprise.
I'm even stronger now.
Sleepless nights starting already. Waking and the flooding of thoughts and worry and wonder. The emotions. "I've never met anyone who feels as much as you do" James says.
But there it is. Your heartbeat while I'm lying on the table at the doctors. The goo spread across my belly. I don't care that it got on my shirt or my jeans with that ugly band at the top. Let me hear that heartbeat one more time, please.
Keep growing, little one. Take what you need from me.
The rolling of that little body inside my body.
You can have it all.