Monday, December 29, 2014

Karma Police: The Birth Story of Sojourn

One month ago I was laying in bed with a tight round drum of a belly, snuggling a sweet Sparrow and her far-flung limbs. 41 weeks, 1 day, and every morning waking up with a strange delight that I made it through another night still pregnant. I didn’t mind going “over” and despite my many despairings earlier in the pregnancy, I felt peaceful about relinquishing a year to change and finding a new rhythm. I loved the extra week I had to enjoy both of my already-born babies and to glory in the anticipation of meeting Baby Tarzan. I even got an extra week of work in! I was laying on my side cradling these two babies, one outside and one within my body, when I felt my water gently break. It was around 7:45 AM. The first thought I had was a pinch of disappointment that I was starting out with waters broken, but it also felt good to be waking up with fresh energy after a whole night of sleep. I sprang from my bed and dashed to the bathroom, crowing to Jonathan that something was finally happening. Getting up and moving caused more water fall, soaking my basketball shorts, and almost immediately I had a very sharp, jagged contraction that made all the weeks and days of gripping my tightening belly during a practice surge and declaring, "Oh my! That was a hard one!" seem like a total joke. When it's real, its unmistakably real.
I remember leaning over the bathroom counter and groaning, thinking I had to get my contacts in and find pants and text everyone! It was like one of those "choose two" diagrams. So I opted for contacts and texting, first apprising everyone it would be "Sometime today probably" and telling Katie to "get ready casually" and then shortly after revising the message to "if you want to be here GET HERE NOW!" There is some total silliness here that I wish were not part of my story, but I kept having to delete old texts out of my mailbox so I could read new ones, which was taking me forever because of course there are those texts I don't want to part with, so I was scrolling back through months of old texts so I could delete them and read my new messages, and meanwhile the surges were already rolling in and slamming me and I felt impatient; couldn't my body appreciate that I had to take care of some ward business before we moved on to the main speakers? I was using all my brief in-between surges time to text and I still hadn't found any pants and this became more and more distressing to me as I realized people were almost going to be there, and I didn't want to spend the next potential many hours pantsless. My phone kept chiming with messages and distracting me. It was absurd. I finally texted everyone one more time, a message I thought was clear and instructive, explaining that I couldn't find any pants, and to text Jon. I had meant to text Jon if they had any more questions, but hilariously, a lot of people took it to mean that Jon wasn't home and I needed his help. To find pants. Ha! So some of them began helpfully trying to locate him and inform him of my problems. “She needs pants, Jon! She can’t find any! Where are you?” I ended up just putting my wet basketball shorts back on, because I am hardcore, just like the pioneers.

I needed to be in my body and just with my body and stop trying to manage anything else. As soon as I tuned in I was surprised at how spicy the surges felt already, and I regretted my water breaking and removing the cushion that softened the edges. What I remembered from my surges during Sparrow's birth was this delicate crescendo, like a musical scale of building pressure, a sharp, shrill peak and an ebbing away with kind relief. Instead of a musical scale, these surges felt like gut punches of peak--peak--peak--like someone leaning on a truck horn, blaring. In a physical sense, it felt very loud, in my body. I remember trying to quiet my mind down, keep my body still, accept these sensations, but they seemed so strong already that it was difficult for me to connect with them. Part of me wanted to wiggle away and avoid them for awhile longer; not yet, not yet. Another wise part of me remembered that there was no way out but through, and I told myself, you can do this. (“It’s a unix system...I know this.”)

PHOTO CREDIT: Katherine Loveless

Katie arrived and I wandered out to the living room to greet her; tried to talk with her but I had mostly already gone under and I’m sure it was a pretty spotty conversation (heh). Chai woke up during this time and came out full of cheer and wonder when we told him that Baby Tarzan was coming today. He cupped my face in his tiny hands and told me he loved me, rubbed my back. My sweet boy! I always have a soft heart for my children, but when I’m in labor they just melt my soul and I want to cry warm buttery tears of pure love for their innocence and kindness. I know that sounds gooey, but it’s really how I feel towards them. They tenderize me with their tenderness. 

Richelle and Shanlee were there with their serene excitement and began the comforting bustle of setting things up. Richelle checked on the baby's heart rate and explained she didn't feel the need to check me because I seemed to be laboring well.  A few more gut-punch surges and I moaned that I thought I would get more of a break in between, and asked to be checked. 7. 5. Katie cheered for me. I started to feel perplexed about where my support people were; I'd made it this far completely untouched. I felt disoriented and confused. I wanted Jonathan to come be close to me, I wanted the fearsome swelling pressure in my pelvis to go away. I was annoyed that the vacuum cleaner was in the middle of the floor and  I disliked seeing it there whenever I opened my eyes. They told me that the birth tub wasn't ready and they weren't sure it would be in time for me to have the baby; I said in that case I wanted to go labor in my room and started to make my slow way there. The surges were so fierce. I remember hanging onto the back of the couch and swaying my hips, and the midwife's assistant Shanlee came and pressed on my back, and it felt so merciful! I managed to walk into my room, arms wrapped around Shanlee and Jon, and when I got there I dropped to my hands and knees during a surge, and remained there for the rest of my labor, just collapsed on the floor between the wall and the bed.

Sparrow had been sleeping, tilted forward with her mane of wispy hair face down on the pillow, but my moaning and humming woke her up. She was a little distressed and called out for me. I remember seeing her face pinched with worry to have all these strange people in her room, but she slipped off the bed and into my arms and I sat up against the wall and held her and submerged myself in that insistent tightness. Mary and Diana were suddenly there, and their presence made me feel like a bright light had turned on. I was comforted just seeing them. My dear friends and sisters were floating in one by one. Kayte was near my face, such a warm and graceful presence. Laurel hugged me when she arrived and even as deep as I was, I was so happy to see her! She was tearful and told me she had been sobbing in the car on her way to my house because she was afraid I would have the baby before she got there. I'm so glad that didn't happen...I still have an ache in my heart from missing the birth of Laurel's daughter, the only chance I could have had to support her as she has done for me so many times.

Magical doulas, knowing hands, they pressed against my knees and even at that awkward angle it relieved so much pressure! I felt like a broken doll whose limbs had come off and they were pressing them back into the joints. It was lovely, and I held my sweet girl against my belly; she was the perfect size to give me some counterpressure against my abdomen. I was so grateful for her gentle resting there. She was utterly calm and seemed to understand some kind of solemnity about what was happening, she just clung tightly to me and whispered, "Mama. Mama. Baby?" and patted my belly and snuggled me. Those moments are so precious to me. Whatever happens in the rest of my life and my relationship with Sparrow, if I never have another little daughter, if she grows up and despises me for awhile, whether or not I ever hold her while she has her own babies, we will always have that unbelievable pocket of time when she loved me and I absorbed her kindness with my wide open raw heart and it was so terribly sweet. My life, what an incredible piece of life to experience. I remember my sister Diana exclaiming, "I am never going to forget this! She is so beautiful!"  Sparrow was somber, and tender, and just rocked with me.

I was locked into labordrive by then. I held onto my girl and smoothed her hair and her face over and over again and when the surges came I just tried to sink into them and let them be what they needed to be. No resistance, just acceptance, just surrender. In my mind, I told myself, let them be, let them come. Sometimes I felt like vocalizing through them and sometimes it felt okay to be still. I let every surge show me what was needed to work through it. At some point someone gently moved Sparrow away to get her ready to go to her grandparents' and they helped me change into my skirt, which seems simple but in active labor that many movements can be overwhelming. Standing and moving my legs and then sinking back down took a lot of energy. Richelle (or someone) let us know that the water wasn't getting warm enough for baby and we wouldn't be able to use the tub. I was going to have a "dry land" birth. I remember feeling a little crushed that I wasn’t going to get to birth my baby next to the orange wall of my prophetic dreams, but it was all right; the creation of that space was still full of magic and healed me when I needed it.
I crawled forward and collapsed on my hands and knees again and my doulas circled around me. One of the things that touched me so much, looking at the photographs later, is that at every point of my labor there is a circle around me--whether it's one or two people curled around my body or six or seven performing those merciful acrobatics, I was completely cradled by these women. They are so powerful! Every single one of them believed in me, every single one of them brought an energy of confidence and joy. I felt encircled by their laughter and open hearts; I could feel them melting at my childrens' sweetness, feel them aching with me, especially those women who understand the poignancy of birth, I could feel empathy from their hands, strength from their muscles. I realize that my experiences giving birth are probably the times I have been most able to release my concerns about reciprocity and social balance and just accept touch and holding and rescue, maybe that is why those moments are so dear to me, it's not a natural space always in my life. Such kindness! Everyone deserves such kindness. I needed every single touch, every single hand. They talked to me, vocalized with me--which always makes me feel absurdly and childishly special--and laughed at my “labor jokes.” I wish I could remember some of them.

I remember being there on my hands and knees and seeing Sparrow's dear little feet in front of me, as she hugged me, rubbed my neck and patted my head. She was my Littlest Doula. The pressure in my belly and pelvis was tremendous, this heavy pressure that sagged and stayed between surges. I tried laying on my left side, which I've never ever done in labor before, to see if that felt better, but it made me feel confined and a little panicky. My body wanted to be upright and grounded.  I twisted a piece of my back in trying to get up and clever Moh and Laurel or Laura rubbed it out. I asked if there was any way someone could support my belly and some lovely gracious person found a rebozo. Oh sweet rebozo! They took turns standing and pulling up while the others squeezed my hips, pressed down on my shoulders and back. They had hotpads on my back and cold cloths on my neck. I was still present enough to describe and ask for what I needed. Such is the skill of my doulas that there were whole increments where they were working with such precision and energy that they took the entire brunt of a surge away. There were whole delicious spaces of 20 or 30 seconds I felt completely normal--even while experiencing surges.

Even with all the support, it was a fierce labor. I could feel every surge so hard in my belly and my hip bones. At one point I vomited in an act of desperation. I murmured, "I can't" and Laurel told me, "You are." I kept breathing, kept hanging on. I was missing Jonathan. I wanted him close to me and I could hear Chai squawking and I felt impatient. They kept holding up a water bottle with a straw in it but the straw was tucked too far down for me to drink. The surges were so ragged, and so rough, at some point I asked for another check and Richelle declared that I was complete. What?" I said. "How can that be? Don't I still have to go through transition?" "You already did!" Everyone rejoiced but I was despairing because I didn't feel like pushing at all and I was still tensing my body against that enormous swelling pressure. I pushed slightly hesitantly just to see what it felt like, if I could help my body along, and pushing felt so wrong and awful. So there wasn't anything to do but wait. Finally, finally, Jonathan came in the room and he said "Hi Racher" and I bleated "Hey, Jon," and I remember people laughing at this casual greeting in this dramatic scene. But I didn't feel casual and I didn't feel histrionic, I just needed him. I put out my hands and he dropped to the ground near my face. I grabbed his hands and squeezed and squeezed and he let me do it as hard as I needed to, and it was simple but it helped me so much.

I felt suspended,  it was so hard to stay there, knowing I was close but having to endure being on pause until it was time to move on. I kept saying, I don't feel pushy, I wish I felt like pushing. I blew air out slowly and suddenly remembered my playlist. Someone ran to turn it on. We listened to the first four songs, I'll never forget. Coldplay's The Scientist was the first song, and is connected to some deep hurt for Laurel. She said "This song pwns me" and she cried there at my side, wiping away her tears while she continued rubbing my back and stroking my hair. I said, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry, I love you. Her pain and my pain. There was nothing to do but be in it. I remember Diana saying blithely, “This is a perfect song for birth! ‘It’s such a shame for us to part.’” The next song was The Mother We Share (Chvrches) and then Karma Police, which filled the room with some kind of fresh, confident energy. Everyone asked if they could sing and I said, please, please do! While I was making this playlist and for the days before the baby was born I felt like I was craving Radiohead like some women crave food, the songs were physically nourishing to me. I murmured and mouthed the words while everyone belted them out. “This is what you get!” That song carries just the right attitude for the emotional space I was in. I loved listening to Jonathan sing, "I've given all I can, it's not enough..." "For a minute there, I lost myself, I lost myself..." Letting myself focus on the words grounded me a little bit. I think singing at births is so powerful because it's simultneous support and self-expression. Holding the space can feel so heavy and it helps release tension and lets the birthing woman hear your voice and feel so aware of your presence. It was good and even though I was in such a physically challenging place of waiting for the baby to move down, it was one of my favorite moments of my labor! I told everyone that Karma Police was the theme song of this baby's conception.
The next song was "No Surprises," which is a pretty cynical song to be born to, although the line “this final bellyache” is pretty great. At some point I tried pushing again and felt that familiar but still shocking sliding, widening feeling of the baby sliding down. Warm, insistent, relieving. It was so vulnerable to be pushing out a baby with everyone clustered around my body, no water to shield me. But I also felt comfortable enough (and ready to be done) to do it! I felt like an animal. A purposeful, quiet animal. I felt steely and determined, quiet and blank. I told myself I would push through a count of ten in my own mind no matter what it felt like and then I would pause. I got the head out by the count of seven and took a rest to breathe; I heard gasps and cries of “Slow down, slow, slow, slow!”

Then I pushed again for less than ten seconds and felt the baby's slimy floppy body move through me and drop and then I was free and I came back to life! It was such a sudden shift to be sprung from that deliberate, shuddering place into soft rosy euphoria. I heard a creaky little cry, I sat straight up and was instantly flooded with giddiness and joy. I don't remember reaching for the baby but I must have, I remember hugging them close and crying "Oh, my baby, I have another beautiful baby! Oh!" I feel like I must have been shaking, I saw Laurel and Laura holding each other tightly and both crying, I was holding the baby already wrapped in a towel and I asked if everyone had already seen the baby's sex and they assured me they had not. I leaned over to take in this new little person. I touched their tiny fingers; "nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands." In that moment just beholding that little face, I couldn't tell whether this baby was a son or daughter. My heart was pounding, I was nervous, I was meeting such an important new person. A new soul! A new soul was there in the room with us.

Someone was exclaiming they had no idea I was pushing and someone else was saying, "That's how she always does it." I said that I like to be a stealth pusher and not tell anyone what I'm up to so I don't have to manage their expectations, I don't have time for that. Jon crawled over closer to me and we embraced, he kissed my face. I asked for Chai and Sparrow to be brought back in, and they were so beautiful to me, my little sacred children of my body. I kissed them and kissed them and showed them the baby. I felt dizzy with not knowing.

We had decided to wait a few minutes before checking the gender of the baby. I had a conversation with my supervisor at work about the expectations and assumptions we all make base on perceived gender, and she had told me about a couple who chose to wait awhile even after birth before checking the baby’s sex. They spent some time interacting and getting to know the baby just as a new human and not as a son or daughter with gender informing their perception. They even wrote a song called “the first five minutes of life” and sang it to the baby. I loved this idea so much and had talked to my midwife about wrapping the baby in a towel immediately after they were born (providing there were no complications),  so we could welcome this new person mindfully and when we felt ready. We decided it would be fun to sing to welcome our baby, and I spent months teaching Chai the song from Babe at bed-time so he would be all ready to sing to “Baby Tarzan.”
 “If I had words to make a day for you, I’d sing you a morning golden and true. I would make this day last for all time, then bring you a night deep in moonshine.” I rocked with the baby and my doulas sang with me, then I pulled back the towel and in a heart-thumping second understood that it was a baby boy who had been my Very Quiet Cricket all those months. I felt a quick pinch of loss for the dream girl-baby possibility (as I would have for the dream boy-baby if it had been a girl) and I said, “It’s a boy! Chai...Chai, you have a baby brother!” I cried. It’s too astonishing of a feeling to suddenly not be pregnant anymore, to hold a child you created in your arms, to be in the presence of such powerful newness. It’s brutally beautiful.

The hours after my baby’s birth are so warm in my memory. My friends and sisters climbing on the bed with me, talking and laughing, processing the experience. He was born at 10:28 AM, making the total labor from first surge to the placenta being delivered a little under 3 hours. He weighed 8 lbs 2 oz (my tiniest baby, and my latest baby!) and his aunt Diana cut the cord. I felt delighted, and relieved. I wanted to talk about how rough and all-encompassing my experience was, I wanted to talk about all the women who have ever lived who have given birth, how I worried and ached for them, and I wanted to explain how my heart was exploding with love. Laurel, Laura, Mary, Diana, Katie, Kayte, Sarah, you are and always have been so dear to me. Thank you for being connected forever with this sweet day. Thank you for holding and creating sacred space, for singing, for your comforting words. I heard or felt every one.  

It is overwhelming to give birth three times in less than four years. I know I'm far from the first to experience so many pregnancies in quick succession, but it has taken a lot from me. I also know how lucky I am. I feel so grateful to have three healthy babies. I don't want to take it for granted. I don't want to pretend that I'm immune to devastating experiences. I don't know why we have been so lucky and why each of these times I got to wrap my arms around a healthy, squalling infant, but I honor all those women who felt every sensation that racked my body, some for so much longer, and without kind hands on their backs, and never got to hear a cry, never got to feel the relief because even after all that enormous work their bodies were flooded with panic. I thought of the women who are abused while giving birth, who birth with injured bodies, who are insulted or shamed or alone. I felt humbled to the core of my soul that my body had worked mercifully, for the kind humans who flocked to me and threaded their fingers through my hair, pressed with all their strength on my heaving body. There was a rock of horror I didn't fall off of, I was held, I was cradled, I was honored. I believe every woman who goes through this process deserves that, even if they would feel overwhelmed by the phalanx I had in that tiny space, too many hands, I believe everyone deserves gentleness at that time. And my heart was pierced for those who didn't experience gentleness, but the opposite.
I talked with Katie about the photos she took...I told her they have a National Geographic feel, probably because we actually are creatures being photographed in our natural environment. They are different from my other homebirth photos, more chaotic, all this sheer emotion and intensity smeared against our wall in this tiny space, my kids wearing motley clothes, the hair I slept in. Everything about it was sudden. There is something glorious about capturing the unpreparedness of that day. There was nothing posed or staged, just this collapse into the labor that completely captured me and the good souls who swooped in to help carry me through, and then at the end we met this baby who lived in me an extra week and hopefully will be with me and Jon in all of our days of this sojourn together.
We were unprepared from the beginning to accept this new life. I never thought I could possibly feel good about it. But just like his birth, I worked very hard, I went through something transformative, and I was healed and uplifted by friends swooping in to hear me and support me I am thinking of so many, but especially of Sarah and the blessingway/kitchen remodel she organized. It changed my heart from famine to feast. I also realized (again) during this pregnancy that Jonathan is my truest friend. He knows me, and he accepts me. I love my newborn son. He is Good. I love my life even in this time of transition. I feel very young, and very old, very strong and very human. “How strange it is to be anything at all.”

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Your ex-lover is dead

I am constantly thinking about whether Tarzan is a boy or a girl. I'm glad I don't know, I'm not sure what I'm hoping for right now. I love my little son and daughter so dearly and I hope to feel the same way someday about this constant presence pummeling my belly. Today was Chai's second day of preschool--so far those mornings go so smoothly; I get him up and he's excited and cooperative and I feed him and we talk in the car on the way, I hold his hand and he beams at Miss Tina. It's such a positive thing for him, he loves showing us his papers and art when he comes home, and no potty accidents so far! And what a lovely boy, cooing, "It's my mom!" when I picked him up and telling me "A story, too," when I asked him about everything he did. He is so bright and articulate and expresses his feelings so well. I love the extra time to snuggle Sparrow and hang out with Jonny while Chai is at preschool and I just hold and kiss my girl while chattering at his back. Despite my many dolores, things have been so sweet with Jonathan. I think Recent Happenings have made us cleave more deeply together in some ways than ever before--we also spend so much time trying to work into the little headspace of how it happened, and how can we avoid it? No one knows how they will feel in 8 years, 20 years, but we are hoping that being honest will help.

Efficiency was my name, variety was my name today--I gave the kids lunch and took them to Doug while I went to report to a CFTM. On the way home I stopped at the creamery on 9th for brownies and noticed happily that I was pained not at all to recall that histrionic goodbye in the corner of the parking lot while his mother watched with cold eyes. I didn't belong with them, although at 18 I desperately wanted to be the kind of person who did. My freshman year: brownies, grape juice, taquitos, the perverse bliss of $4 appearing per day on my ID card and all this freedom to eat hideously. Jealousy and misunderstanding and listening to music all night long. I don't miss that piece at all, I'm glad it's over.

I took the kids to the splash pad and marveled at how much I really do love to watch them play. They are so fascinating and sweet to me. Chai tends to flock to other kids and instruct them "Friend? Friend? Come this way" and Sparrow wanders around, dreamy in her own world. Every once in a while their paths cross and they hug. They squeeze each other several times a day and Chai says things like "this is my sister!" I love them together. We came home and I saw Jon had left me a note on the door...he loves me..."I don't think that will leave." My smile almost split my face off and I ran back to the car to tell Chai about it, "He loves me! And I love him, too!" He had cleaned the kitchen and I took that in with such relief and joy. Sometimes Jonathan is just so good, so good to me, I feel I don't want for anything in the world. I am so well-befriended and so kindly partnered. I am lucky! He is more than I was ever wise or creative enough to yearn for. Even our vicios are at home, maybe too at-home, with one another. Doug and Emme came to the farm with us and the sun was in everyone's eye and we had ableskivvers and eggs and talked conspiracy. It was so warm and comfortable and nice to just be us. I said I was feeling better about dying eventually and Doug said he was feeling worse...I'm most concerned with my own consciousness and if I ease out of the genome eventually, that doesn't bother me so much as having a good long time being sentient and experiencing what I can.

Friday, August 22, 2014

OH, the very young!

I have to say I have been feeling more hopeful lately. I'm not sure where it is coming from, but Jon has been a star and his kindness just pulls so much glory out of everyday life. It makes such a difference to me when I feel wanted, when I feel like I mean a lot to him. We spend hours in irate rants about the horror of what has happened to loved ones, we beg each other, let's always be honest, please tell me if/when you have feelings for someone else. It took so long to get the kids to go to sleep tonight. Earlier I took them to the playroom at FSTC, and it started out lovely but when we had to leave, Chai's brain melted and he roared and screamed his displeasure and Joy was in the lobby talking to a board member, and I was sore embarrassed. Then he screamed all the way home. I feel badly when I try to have fun with them and it seems like the leaving is so devastating that it negates any of the good bonding from the activity in the first place. Craig Wilson has forsaken us. We're still tripping around all the junk in our house and constantly reassuring each other it will get better when the basement is done...we loved to ask our Sparrow questions, like "Are you my lady? Are you very nice? Are you very kind?" She will sweetly reply "Uh-uh," or "Yeah" and if we ask why, she will say, "Cuh!" She is so adorable with her trompy little run and her attentive cradling of her baby. After yelping "Meee! Meeee!" whenever she wants to be included in anything, she will ask "Baby? [coming too]?" We've been sleeping together like two little peas in the cutest pod; her arm flung across my chest and me always kissing her face and hair, saying my baby, my baby, my very good lady. I love it when Chai sometimes wants me to snuzzle him, too, and he'll yell, "I just want you for a little bit!" I want to always go to them. I was watching Anne of Avonlea tonight while Jon was playing and he kept laughing bc he said I was exactly like her..."You are some kind of archetype," he says. It made me so happy.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Stars that clear have been dead for years, but the idea still lives on

I was stunned to see our beautiful cat laying on the rocks in permanent pause, her brown eyes open and still. She was stretched out so perfectly, no blood, nothing obviously damaged, I kept blinking and wishing she would transform into an anonymous raccoon, not our sweet kitty. This is the second time I felt that cold shock go over me when we lost a beloved animal, the first time was our lovely engagement bird. We never understood why it died. It was such a sudden stop. When I told Jonathan, he cried and kind of collapsed into my arms. "This is so sad, it's too sad!" We both cried all the way to salt lake, and talked about all the animals who are neglected and abused and treated cruelly. Jon decided to be a vegetarian in honor of Amber and then ordered sausage patties for breakfast. It was good to see Adam and Amy. Their experiences dovetail in such a nice way with ours. Amy brought us a card and told us she was pregnant. Upon finding out, she immediately sat down and wove a tapestry. We told her this was a very ancient thing to do.  I really like them and wish they lived closer. I asked Jon when we were alone in the car if he thinks there is anything we can do to lessen the strain another baby (Oh, God, WHY?) will have on our relationship. He said he thought setting regular bedtimes would make a big difference, so we could have time alone to connect. I agree, but I want to help him understand the thousands of other pieces, like taking time to hold hands, pointing out the good that the other does, especially when they're handling something stressful, using soft voices and validating during a disaster and not just after, eye contact, expressing affection verbally, sleeping in the same room...our relationship really is the most important in the world to me! I would do anything to save it and strengthen it, but our current reality shakes me and makes me feel doomed to wrath, to moving farther apart. That's not what I want, but I have a hard time believing we can be focused enough to resist natural decay.
We came home and packed and sprinkled holy water on our pretty kitty, told her we had loved her and would miss her. Jon kept putting off taking her away, so I finally did it. It felt so wrong, like she was just any other thing. Her eyes were closed by then. Jon kept saying of Sage, "I'm all she has left in the world." Chai suggested we "wait a few minutes until she comes alive again." 

We drove up Cottonwood canyon and it was so gorgeous, the mountains and trees feed my soul in a way I couldn't receive when I was younger and they were associated with cold and forced hikes and the only glory was the beach. I associate canyons with falling in love with Jonathan and the security of being wanted.
We met up with the Science Twins and their parejas and walked around the glowing lake. Abby was very attentive to Chai and it was so easy and summery and fragrant. We spent the night talking around the fire, about the family, about what will happen,  about how the stars we can see are already dead. We watched a Lion King VHS with a preview for Angels in the Outfield and I was like 1995 was 5 minutes ago! But no, it was almost 20 years ago and I don't understand.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Maybe this time it's different

We've been married four years ago today, and I was right, it was better than 3 in every way! I feel part of me resisting accepting the reality that we couldn't be together last night because we were too exhausted after having to woo sweet Sparrow to sleep (on the living room floor, so it's not like our standards are super high) and getting up at 7 to search for Chai's bottle because the little Lord wouldn't accept the smaller one.  When I think of all the babies that have crashed into our lives in such a short time, I am amazed that we have done as well as we have, that we ever think to drop kisses on each other's faces or snuggle forward or back. When we climbed back in bed this morning after convincing Chai to take the smaller bottle, we talked for two hours about this icy dark tragedy. I told him I'm afraid of what could happen to us. I think four years ago Jon would have earnestly promised me that he'd never go, now he says, we never know what will happen, but that he has hope because we talk and are willing to feel our emotions. The understanding and fevered insight we've held through this whole ordeal is a warm and kindly hand in the abyss. I worry for my friend, that she will be confused and hurt. I still feel angry for the deception, possibly the continued deception. Such destruction for two families. It terrifies me. It seems like such a brutal coming of age, so different from the soft autumn folklore I was introduced to. I can't remember our beginnings without remembering all of them, no matter how rotted and explicitly disappointing it became. Jon arranged for the Stranges to watch the kids while we went to Happy Sumo. I felt so light while we were there. I kept looking at him and thinking, he likes me, he chose me, I've had his babies/I'm carrying his child. When I can stay with it our intimacy feels so amazing. I told him I love him for having a brain that pulls things apart.For some reason, I woke up this morning (27 weeks) feeling one thousand years pregnant. I'm starting to need more support for this heavy bubble, for my fragile birdcage pelvis. It didn't help that I slept for about four hours. I dragged myself through the day just aching for sleep and still managed to feed the kids, read and look at baby pictures with Chai, clean out most of the car and the bathroom counter.  I wish I were more patient with the kids. I hover between being loving and screaming lately. Sometimes I connect so hard with my gorgeous, bright boy, and he will tell me he loves me and other times I can't handle the "why" for everything I ever say. Sometimes I can't get enough of Sparrow's blue-eyed stampeding and her wanting to always lay close, pat my chest, cradle her baby. I take them to the park and affirm and narrate. Other times I just want to lay on the floor and pass out. I want them to go to sleep for hours and just leave me alone. Looking through Chai's baby pictures with him today made me feel two degrees warmer toward the idea of having another baby. "Mom, I have to say why. Because I do."

Monday, July 28, 2014

King of the Carrot Flowers

This morning Chai came up to me, beaming, and told me, "Mom, I love your heart. And I love Sparrow's heart, and I love Daddy's heart!" Work was gentle and facebook was dull. I have a new child client who is speech delayed and indiscriminately affectionate. I remember times when I didn't notice that, children seizing my hands or climbing in my lap just felt so good to me. I'm happy to get to know and work with him even though I'm weary of play therapy, I feel so badly for children who are scarred by inconsistency and shame. In the evening the rain cooled the angry earth and when we walked to visit the horses I could smell every plant on the street. We went to the park and I felt like running in the field (not very far because my pelvis is a delicate cage, I can tell it's eager to twist with a little more weight on it) and stood in the clover circles and Chai and Sparrow chased me. I made them crowns of clover and they looked so beautiful in their tangled wild baby hair. I wanted a rich black and white picture. We lay on our backs and watched the gray clouds moving, Sparrow climbed all the way up the ladder apparatus and is fearless on the slide. Chai told me he was Captain Hook and that we had to stay on the ship so he could take our orders (pirate cheeseboogers, pirate tacos). We sang "Pirate mokey, pirate mokey, just for you, just for you," and practiced swinging on the big swings. My friends really are gone, they're not part of my life the way they were. But most of the time, I still feel happy. Chai was explaining to us in the car, "Remember when I was a baby, and I played by the bridge, and you were holding me, and Sparrow was taller than me?...but Baby Tarzan doesn't drink milk because he isn't born yet. He's still in your belly." Do you think it's possible that maybe at least part of it will be nice?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

You have shown me the sky, But what good is the sky To a creature who'll never Do better than crawl?

I have mixed feelings about Aldonza/Dulcinea. I see the insinuation, which I'm sure my grandfather loves, of the effect is can have on people when you see them "not as they are but as they may be/should be." Such elevating treatment maybe helps some people aspire to make needed changes or improve their quality of life. I'm sure my grandfather would state that this is how the Savior sees us, in our potential, not in our current reality. But it was difficult to watch how much this disturbed Aldonza. She keeps admonishing Quixote to "see me as I am!" At one point she begs "Won't you look at me, look at me, God, won't you look at me!" and Quixote continues to cover his face and plea with her never to deny that she is his lady. I also felt sad that the storyline reflected the virgin/whore complex so literally--Quixote describes her as "sweet lady, fair virgin!" to the obscene delight of everyone at the inn where she is prostituted. Why couldn't she not be a virgin and still be of worth, still inspire a knight to noble deeds (also problematic)?  There is some bitterness in the viewer recognizing that no matter how flowery the speeches made to her, she will never be high born, she will never be "pure" in the sense that he believes she is. I can see how there is something sweet about his insistence that she has value even when she is bitterly spitting that she is nothing ("born on a dung heap to die on a dung heap") and her eventual shift to believing in a higher way of life, seeing the beauty in the world and in herself, is touching. But she also shares with him her own raw, violent story, and she truly had some ugly things happen to her that he completely dismisses and is unable to hear. He invalidates her lived experience, and that was difficult to watch. I understand that his madness and inability to integrate reality with his delusion is part of the profound theme that the play explores, but I wish it could have been possible for Aldonza to be seen as a whole person, seen and heard, and still told she is worthwhile. That Quixote could have endured hearing her story and told her, your sexual history doesn't matter, I still see you as Dulcinea. What happened to you wasn't your fault and it's not who you are. Those are the words I would crave from a Savior...not someone with his hands over his ears.

Hoy dia...oy, dia! We left and I immediately missed the sun-spun angels. I can't ever let go and relax completely no matter how much I wanted to get away beforehand. But is there anything more lovely and more temperate than walking in the SLC Farmers Market with Jonny and picking out soap, inhaling rosemary and lemongrass? Sawadees for lunch and we talked about "getting organized." The immediate changes are to do grocery shopping once a week and plan it out, each cook twice a week,  clean the kitchen on the night the other cooks. When the basement is done we want to have a tech room and a toy room, never-to-be-seen-again this time. Those changes will come hard for us, but the way we've been is costing us so much money, energy, and time. I told Jon I'm scared about our relationship and he said the same thing as always, we should do more dates but no babysitters. I suggested we make the effort to carve out the time even if we don't leave home.

We stopped by Daniel's and met a squalling Samuel who triggered me. I don't want to do it. I just don't. I cried and Jon said he'll do whatever he needs to do, "raise it as his own," whatever. I don't need to search far for stories of more desperate situations than mine. I mean triplets, Gaza, watching your children starve, having your children be tortured in front of you. But I still feel such pain and resistance welling up in me and worst of all I know it affects an innocent child and very possibly even a fetus, so during this time of gestation, even my feelings aren't completely mine, I need to calm down and work through my anger and disappointment so the quiet cricket won't be poisoned by the salt of my wrathful blood. It is a complete invasion with no privacy and of course I don't want to hurt a baby, but part of me sees it all as submission this time. Submission to extra-concentrated motherhood, submission to losing more of my mind and my time with the sweet kids I already have, because that's what I'm supposed to do, who will do it save I? Jon reminded me that the baby didn't ask for this. I know, I know! but that doesn't make it easier. We are always so gentle when we get to be alone together. We touch each other and lean in. I miss the time we never had and the time we never will have.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Third eye blind

Tonight I watched their blond little heads bob in the sunlight streams while they ran through the sprinklers. Then we painted, and they boldly mixed and swirled, and Chai told me "This is a painting of WIND!" Earlier today I talked to Frimet and told her my story--much less intense than the rigidity of Hasidim but still, we both realized it was something like it--and I told her about how good exploring has been for me and how it has helped me recognize what I truly want out of life and allowed me to release so much that sat on my desperately trying chest for years. I am excited to hear more from her--this woman who also birthed her second child (a daughter) on a cold January morning, who had an arranged marriage at 18, who shaved her head for her patriarchy. I am really excited about writing a piece for the Forward, even though Naomi warned me about trolls, just to be able to be involved and to write something seems so worthwhile. Naomi is so sweet and encouraging. Most definitely my exodus has brought us closer. After the call with Frimet Doug and Emme took the smalls to the dinosaur museum and Jon and I went to check out our Quiet Cricket. It meant so much to me to have Jonny there and to be able to spend a few minutes alone. He got teary when the technician let us hear baby's heartbeat. It was fun not to just see the baby but to see through the baby! The chambers of the heart, the pocket of the brain that stores spinal fluid. I don't know them, right now I just know where is blood pumping through a one-pound system and a cute little arm tucked up by the face and I'm so sad it's happening so soon. I wish so much I had been able to space babies out better so I could enjoy them more. It is exciting, though, the unknown and a new thing struggling to survive, resting its feet on my cervix. Please please please be safe, and grow strong, and come gently, and be known to us.

known to us.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

"Each body a lion of courage, and something precious to the earth."

All of us are languishing in our house without AC, stripped down to our underwear, hugging with sticky skin, but Jon is languishing a little harder. His morale is very low (he says he stopped existing a few weeks ago) and just like the verse in Ecclesiastes, when one is weak the other is strong. I feel infused with new energy and I feel my time of confinement is over. Yesterday, I realized there was no fear in me, and that there may be torches lit on the mountain but no army to charge down. I'm free. I've been making food and planing activities. I feel more confident that I have something to contribute even if I am not endorsed by everyone. I'm getting excited for the summer healing circle, which thing I never would have supposed. I am going to worry less about how many and just hold the space for any who need it. Christina is going to help me hang lights in the trees. Jon and I drove around Hobblecreek looking at pavilions. Kelly's Church is the one! It was so beautiful and holy up in the canyon with the smell of rain rising and looking for places to create a circle within the trees. Jon reached over and squeezed my leg and was enjoying my excitement and my teasing him. I'm so glad we're together! The kids mercifully fell asleep in the back (poor things, it is too hot within and without sometimes) and we put them gently to bed with the the rain padding outside, and watched a movie. Sparrow toddled out shortly and sat between us, sweet-legged, twisting to lean on me. "MamaDaddy," she babbled. She kept asking for water, which she calls "Larrrgheddy" in kind of this gargling voice like she is speaking through a bubble. She wore an elastic on her wrist and it made her feel pretty, she kept twisting to look at her arm. She is so open and unconsciously lovely! She loves to be centered in my lap and to pull my face down to hers and tell me, "Mahmee." Why is she so dear? She's started saying "No" all the time also, which has leveled up her sass exponentially. I love July, love falling asleep on the couch watching shows with Jonny, I love my beautiful children! Chai told us today, "Wait, guys. I have to talk to you about ghosts. I have to talk to you about Olaf."