questions & answers

Since Melody was born I've made a new group of friends. We met through various ways and all have babies. We all stay at home. We all have sought information and knowledge about unmedicated childbirth. As we hang out we compare birth stories. Half of us had our babies at home; the other half in hospitals. All of us attempted to do it without medication. All of us were changed because of our experience. We get together on Friday mornings. We schedule these times to be from 10 to noon, but usually we end up going out to lunch together and hanging out until 2 or 3 in the afternoon. We talk about our birth stories a lot and ask questions like:

Would you do it again?
Who was at your birth?
What would you do differently?
What surprised you about your birth?
What was the first thing you felt / thought after your baby was born?

I will answer these questions about Melody's birth.

• Would I do it again? I do not know. Making the decision to have an unmedicated birth was a long process. Deciding to have a homebirth was an even longer process. It required lots of time, thinking, talking, and praying. Chad and I will have to go through a similar process again the next time we are pregnant. Lord willing.

• Who was at my birth? My husband, Chad. My midwife. And my childbirth instructor / doula.

• What would I do differently? This is probably the hardest question for me to answer. I am still unsure of the entire answer. One of the negative things about my birth is that I was "performing" for my instructor / doula. I was trying to do everything the "right" way so that she would think highly of me. I wanted to be her star student. I was not aware of these things until recently. Because of this realization I would probably opt for my instructor / doula to not be present. I might have my mom there the next time.

• What surprised me about my birth? The pain. I don't think there is any way to prepare oneself for the intense pain of childbirth. I watched many videos, read books, talked to other moms. I exercised and ate 80 to 100 grams of protein everyday. I felt so prepared. I thought my preparation would pave the way for an "easy" labor. This wasn't the case. The contractions were the most intense thing I've ever come close to experiencing. It is amazing how powerful they are. I couldn't believe it. I'm still dumbfounded by the power and instensity of those contractions. Another thing that surprised me was my lack of emotion when Melody was put on my chest immediately after being born.

• What was the first thing I felt / thought after my baby was born? Relief. Relief. RELIEF. The only thing I felt was relief. I had no joy and no tears. My body shook as I held her in my sweaty arms. She looked up at me with alert eyes. She had a scared look on her face. Soon I smiled and exclaimed over her, but the only immediate response was relief.


little melody & a big decision

Melody is four months now. I can't believe how quickly she is growing. She is small for her age -- in the 10th percentile. She's not the baby imagined myself having. All the babes in my family are bald, fair, and big. She has dark hair and golden skin like her daddy. And she's little. She weighs around 11 pounds. All the babies we hang out with are big and chunky. She is dainty and lean. For awhile I was concerned about her size. I began waking her up in the middle of the night to feed her. This resulted in a tired mommy and a cranky baby. I realized that she is doing great despite her small size. She is alert, content, smiley, and happy 85% of the time. She eats often during the day. I know she's getting hindmilk because she often eats for 45 minutes to a hour on one side. Chad's side of the family has smaller people so I guess she's taking after her daddy in more ways than one.

Even though she's not the baby I imagined, she is perfect. She and I get more attached everyday. She recognizes my voice and often calms down at the sound of my words. She smiles brightly when she finds me in a room full of people. I love dressing her, changing her, bathing her, feeding her, talking to her and dancing around the house with her in my arms.

Despite all these wonderful moments, I'm still struggling with depression. I still cry on a regular basis for no reason. The tears just fall and fall and fall. I feel down even when the weather is sunny and clear. I wander around the house unsure of what to do with myself. I try to muster motivation to plant flowers, bake pumpkin bread, and finish decorating the baby's room. These things remain undone. I watch Dawson's Creek reruns instead, even though every single charater on the show thoroughly annoys me. Spending time with people helps a little. It serves as a distraction from the way I feel. A recent bout with mastitis brought the realization that with physical pain came relief from the mental and emotional pain. I almost welcomed the fever, chills, and achiness because it gave me a break from feeling sad.

I finally gave up trying the natural supplements, teas, and progesterone cream. It's been four months. They weren't working. I went to the doctor. He was wonderful. He said, "It is very common for women who stop working full time to stay home to be depressed. It's a huge change. Also, are you dealing with any trauma related to your birth experience?" Ding! Ding! Ding! I guess I'm not crazy after all. Each time someone tells me that what I'm dealing with is normal I feel so much better.

I started taking the anti-depressant Wellbutrin two days ago. The generic perscription was $92 for a one months supply. I was shocked at the price. I've never taken a drug on a regular basis -- not even the pill. I'm trying to be postive about this decision. My mom told me to try to think of Wellbutrin as "my friend." That made me laugh, but maybe she's right. If I cringe everytime I think of it, it probably won't work as well. Deep down I know I've made the right decision. I do not want to remember Melody's first year as a cloudy depressing time.


days gone by

This morning I got up with Chad. I made french toast and Columbian coffee. The french toast turned out soggy. We ate it anyway, avoiding the middle. Sitting at the table together in the quiet morning reminded me of our newly wed days.

Chad was still in college when we got married so we lived in the married student housing on campus. Everyone complained hugely about the accomodations. The 35 year old duplexes were made of grey cinderblock. The rooms joining them were the master bedroom and bathroom. (!) Not a good thing when two newly married couples are the residents. Not to mention, we already knew the neighbors. Ick. The bathroom was so tiny that it was nearly impossible for two people to brush their teeth at the same time. The kitchen was also small. The fridge and oven could not be open at the same time for lack of space.

Despite all the maladies, I loved living there. We had a bizarre little patio at the front of our spot. A red chain link fence seperated our cracked patio from the road that led to a rundown dog kennel. We set up a hammock and outdoor chairs. We ate our first suppers as a married couple on that patio. The duplex also had large windows from the 1960s. They surrounded the eating area and living room. We would open all of them and let the breeze overtake the rooms. Wind chimes, which had been a wedding gift, sang loudly. It felt like a beach house to me. I loved it.

I recall getting up early one morning. I made breakfast and had extra time. I cut a fresh pineapple into shapes making the words, "I love you." I arranged them on a cobalt blue plate just in time for Chad to walk into the kitchen. His hair was wet from his shower and he smelled good, like soap. I proudly presented the work of art to him. He smiled, ate the pineapple, and with a mouth full said, "I love you too, baby." This morning eating soggy french toast reminded me of those early married days. We now live in a neighborhood with sidewalks and sod. Our bathroom has two sinks -- one for each of us! We've come a long way in four fast years. My memories of Married Student Housing put a smile on my face. I loved those first five months of our marriage.


falling in love

This week I am realizing something. I'm falling in love with Melody. I have loved her since I found out I was pregnant last spring. I loved her the moment she was born on December 22. But as she grows I find myself getting more attached to her each day. In the first few weeks of her little life I had no problem leaving her with my mom for a hour. Now it is gettting more difficult. Yesterday my mom watched Melody while I went to the gym and the grocery store. A few weeks ago I would have flown out of the house without a second thought. Yesterday I was different. I kissed her smooth face several times before tearing myself away. Once at the gym I enjoyed the time away, but getting there wasn't easy.

Melody has begun talking to us. She makes cooing sounds and laughs when we talk to her. She falls asleep in my arms. Her little mouth hangs open as her body is limp with relaxation. I love it. When she is awake her eyes are full of expression. Her tiny eyebrows raise with suprise at sound and movement.

I have lunch plans with one of my new mom friends today. I'm looking forward to it. We've recently discovered our birth experiences have similarities. I'm excited to exchange these things with each other. This week I feel less sad and a little more normal. What ever that means.


saturday breakfast

The air smelled of cigarettes and breakfast grease as we entered the familiar diner. My damp hair was pulled back into a low ponytail. I wore smooth shimmery purple Burts Bees lipgloss. As Chad and I slid into a brown booth, I eyed the bowl of creamers and thought, "We're going to need more than that."

Eating breakfast out on the weekend is a tradition for us. Since Melody's arrival we've avoided our favorite diner due to the smokey environment. This mornng we left her with the grandmas (both are visiting) and relived our tradition of sharing a waffle, hashbrowns, and a spanish omelet.

It was easy to fall back into the groove of just us. We talked, observed, remembered, dreamed and hung out. We drove home with full stomachs and the windows down. It felt good.


morning dreams

The days since talking to Jennifer have been better. I have smiled and laughed without trying. It's nice. I'm slowly processing things. I think the sadness was not so much post partum depression as trauma related to my birth experience. I'm getting closer to understanding as I write, talk and think about it. Today I had lunch with our childbirth teacher / doula. I went to the restaurant nervous with prayers under my breath. I didn't want to offend, but I had questions. It turned out to be a profitable hour of honesty and truth. I'm getting closer. As I figure things out, I feel lighter.

This week I've spent good time with my sister-in-law, Chelsea. She's 23 and is experiencing God for the first time in her life. She is addicted to her bible and reads it throughout the day. When she doesn't understand something she reads it aloud and inquires of it's meaning. The other day we ended up with four different translations open on the dining room table as we tried to figure out a parable in Luke. Her new interest in the bible is contagious. It's been ages since I wanted to open my bible. Instead I usually go to my hymnal. The words of the old songs capture my heart when verses are familiar and stale. Today I went to Proverbs 31 and slowly read the verses, trying to soak them in. I even used some cross references. It was nice.

Before Melody was born I daydreamed of being a mother who spent early morning times with God. I pictured of myself drinking coffee, reading, pondering and praying in a dimly lit breakfast area before the others were awake. This idea is appealing and I want to figure out a way to make it happen.