10.28.2009

My valiant little burger

This past weekend was Goblins in the Garden again. Anthony was in the Philippines and so he missed this trip, as he did last year, which makes taking pictures of events like this about a thousand times more important than just logging it for posterity's sake. Now the pictures are so that Anthony can experience it as first hand as I can make possible.

Last year it was really warm and Hollis seemed flushed and warm the entire time we were there. This year I was strategic in my costume choice: it had to be open, not cover his head or legs, and be adaptable for either hot or cold weather. Enter, the cheeseburger! (I scored this one from Pottery Barn Kids of all places.)




And, sure enough, it was mid-70s, requiring a short-sleeved shirt and shorts. I definitely scored one for Team Mom on that one.

Once there, it was abundantly clear that Hollis was, once again, one of the most precious toddlers there. I don't know how else to say it even though I know I sound like an asshole. Of course other kids are beautiful and adorable and all those warm fuzzy things you like to say about kids, but truly, there aren't a lot of kids who stop strangers in their tracks because of their cuteness like Hollis does.


Until now. Behold, Princess Leia:


I took about a dozen pictures of this baby girl and about died from the cuteness.


There were tables set up around the central pavilion's wishing well where kids could look at bugs and artifacts. At one table was a man in a ghost outfit with animal skulls lined up in front of him. The face on this "ghost" was more ghoul-like, think Scream murderer guy, and the man behind the mask asks Hollis if he'd like to touch a skull. He holds what looks like a raccoon skull out and as Hollis tentatively reaches for it, the ghostman lunges with his free hand and freaks the shit out of Hollis who starts at the move and takes a step back.

My mom is ready to lunge over the table, but I'm more level-headed about it. Sure, this guy is an asshole and made a bad judgment call, but I was really interested in seeing how Hollis handled himself. He was pressed up against my legs, but he wasn't crying. He just stood there and processed. The ghostman felt bad and so offered the skull again and this time didn't make any moves as Hollis' hand reached out and touched the skull. Then I calmly and quietly took his hand and walked away while my mother muttered curses under her breath and what a son-of-a-bitch that guy was.

I calmed Mom down and kept a firm grip on the hot little hand in mine. He seemed really ok, so we walked over to the "haunted house," which really was just a small corridor that the Wildflower Center staff had draped in black gauze with some purple lights here and there. It was colder in that room by many degrees and fans fluttered the gauze making the walls move. Coupled with the sounds of a howling wind, this little space seemed truly other-worldly. There was a small 6 foot long tunnel that I would have to go through on my hands and knees and a curtain which hid whatever was on the other side. Presumably it made a horseshoe to the left with more hanging gauze and lights right out a door 8 feet to the left of the door you entered. Kids were wheeling through there at breakneck speeds and laughing the whole time. It wasn't so much "scary" as it was novel and maybe a little spooky.

Hollis didn't agree. It was all out no bueno for him.

I put him down in front of me and gave him a little nudge to move forward and he dug in his heels and said with more force than ever before, "NO!" I told him it was safe and that mommy would be right behind him and encouraged him to take a step but he backed up further into my chest and said again, "NO!"

We backed out and went to where the kids came out of the tunnel for a few minutes. He didn't realize that these happy kids had gone in that scary door and when we passed the entrance on our way to walk around he walked right up to it and tried to shut it.


Let's just close this portal to hell now, shall we??


To say that I was shocked is an understatement. This kid's got gumption! And is fearless! I remember being 7 years old and having to be carried out of a haunted house on my father's shoulder and there would have been no amount of ponies or ice cream in the world that would have propelled me to go anywhere near its entrance to shut the door! I simply was never as plucky as this.

It was at this point that system overload began: the scary ghostman, the scary hallway, all the children in costumes.


Hollis started howling like a ghost. "HooooooOOOOOOOoooOOOOOOo!" he'd say, "Toad! Toad!" Translation: "Did you see that scary ass ghost who boo'ed at me and did you see how cold and scary it was in that haunted hallway????" Click below to hear it for yourself.

video
27 seconds of amazing ghost-like cuteness.

He did this everywhere we went for the next thirty minutes, which, of course, just added to his incredible cuteness; a howling cheeseburger isn't something you see every day, after all. He didn't seem to notice the attention he was garnering in the least.

Then, to my disbelieving eyes Hollis began looking for the scary ghostman. I mean, actively looking for him. At first, I imagined it was so he could make sure he was safely far away, but that wasn't it.


Ghostman spotted!!

He still had some processing to do.

Once Hollis found him in the crowds of people he took my hand and led, yes led, me back to his table. We were within feet of this guy and Hollis was just looking with his blue eyes round. I could hear the gears catching and turning. He's never known fear before, has never before experienced anyone who wasn't 100% trustworthy. This fellow who had done the unexpected and looked strange was an anomaly of epic proportions for his two year old brain. And then something wondrous happened.

The ghostman took off his mask to reveal a red-faced, chubby, middle aged man with silver hair. He didn't even notice Hollis gazing at him with his mouth hanging open in awe and confusion. I felt I had just won the Lotto; what luck that Hollis could see this was something someone put on and wasn't real! Hollis pointed at the man and howled again but with less gusto and more confusion in his voice than before. I told him it was a mask, just a costume, and that it was make believe. I wanted to show Hollis that it was ok to be bold and so walked within inches of the man/ghost and he followed. We circled back around to the front of the table where my parents were waiting and we all just looked at each other in wonder. None of us could believe how bold and brave and fearless Hollis had been.

I decided to end on a high note and leave then. Hollis had slayed his first dragon, so to speak, and it was getting even more crowded and warmer by the minute. I'm still dumbfounded at his bravery, mettle, and fortitude in the face of uncertainty and the unknown. I mean, who does that?? Walks right up and shuts the door on something scary? Or walks right up to something unpredictable to observe and process?

Where did this little warrior come from? From me? A perversely shy woman who needs at least one glass of wine in her before she talks to strangers?? From his father? A painfully shy man who is happier in solitary pursuits rather than braving the unknown in others? It's like he was beamed down to us from outer space, or from a place of happy attachment and solid boundaries. A truly happy place. A place I wish I'd known as a little girl, for sure.

Wow... this was definitely one of those moments when the adult learned something new from the baby.


10.21.2009

My puzzle


It's raining, Hollis is chattering at me, his belly full of hot, sweet porridge, and I am overcome by emotions. Love, mostly. Love for Anthony, love for Hollis, love for the planet and its miraculous goings on.

I feel like I need to map out exactly what happened yesterday, not because any one thing was particularly important, but because the sum of its parts definitely is. So, bear with me, I promise I have a point at the end of this.

Yesterday was really interesting for me. It was an unusually busy day, not only blog-wise, but also life-wise.

Hollis had a 9:30 appointment at the UT Children's Research Lab on campus to participate in a follow-up study and so we were racing out of the house by 9. A quick pit-stop at McDonald's for late-sleeping mommy and we were on our way. Two lovely and uber giggly co-eds and a three cheek swabs later we were on our way to the park near Mom and Terry's house after we got an S.O.S. call from Papa that the repaving work they were doing near his house had trapped him in and he needed a lifeline out.

At the park I ran into a woman I knew, barely an acquaintance, and she was icy and cool and I walked away shaking my head and thinking, "Wow, what a bitch," and laughed at the absurdity of it all. Obviously, she was having a bad day, but really? Did she have to be so obviously disgruntled that I'd crossed the playground to say hi and catch up? It was a big moment for me because I didn't think, "Wow, she must not like me. What did I do? Was it something I said??" I just walked away thinking it was her problem. Part of my improved outlook on myself was the fact that I was getting dozens, maybe hundreds, of emails from women saying, "Wow, I love your writing!" and supporting what I do here on this blog. The support from SITS weaved in and out of my entire day this way, seemingly lifting me along making my step lighter.

Once we had Terry with us I brought him to the house and gave him the key to the Jetta. The busted key to the Jetta is more accurate. The buttons don't work on it anymore so you have to just use the key like an old fashioned car key: put it in the door lock and turn. However, the car thinks you're an intruder and so once you put the key in the ignition, the alarm goes off. I warned Terry of this and told him there was some sort of magic combination including the locking mechanism in the car door that would stop the alarm and let the car know you weren't jacking it, but I couldn't remember it off hand, it just came to me instinctual whenever I drove it. Hahahaha. Makes me laugh even thinking about it. - hahahahaha - There he was in the driver's seat waving his hands, flipping switches, the windows going up and down and the alarm blaring away. - hahahah - Anyway, he parked in the pack of the parking lots he visited and even left the keys in it once when he ran into the bank.

Hollis had a short midday nap and then we hung out and watched Hulu (how crazy is Tracy from The Biggest Loser???) and then Terry came back over to drop off the Jetta and hitch a ride with me to meet Mom for dinner. I was video-chatting with Anthony at the time and Terry nearly passed out when he heard Anthony say, "Hey, Terry!" until he realized it was coming from the computer. Gotta love technology.

We head to the restaurant at 4:30 and I ask the restaurant people if they had an early bird/senior special when we walked in. I was half expecting to see a sea of blue hair and walkers. It was nice to have the restaurant all to ourselves, though.

After dinner, I called my best friend and asked if I could swing by to pick up the last Twilight book. She said, "Yes, of course!" and so we headed her way. It's so nice having the people I'm the closest to here in town, literally, minutes away (Sheree lives 5 minutes from me, Mom and Terry live 15). When we get to her house Hollis runs into her arms yelling, "ReeRee!" and she scoops him up and we walk inside. On her coffee table are beautiful sparkling starbursts and necklace-making tools. Sheree is never one to settle what she finds in a store. If it's not exactly what she's picturing in her mind, she's all over it to create her own look. There's a big wedding she's going to on Saturday and thus she's been combing the globe for the perfect dress, shoes and accessories for the last month.

We chat, we drool over Taylor Lautner and Robert Pattinson (her and my favorite, respectively) and Hollis chases her usually very aggressive, but now strangely passive Siamese, Benjamin around the house. Then, it's time to go home.

It's only 6:30, so I decide pull out my Ikea haul and start in on Hollis' room. Just paper lanterns today, but I'm beginning the transformation from androgynous baby's room to a room for a toddler whom I know inside and out. I've already washed and dried his new bedding and put it on his mattress. I'm trying to get him used to the idea of a blanket covering him at night for when we convert to his toddler bed.

Hollis is beyond excited at all the commotion in his room and is pulling every toy he owns out of every nook and cranny yelling, "Ball! Kick!" whenever he glimpses the paper lanterns. I think if he could stand on his head and kick the "balls" hanging over his crib, he would.

Then it's bath time with another Ikea item. This adorable rabbit towel, only it's not just a towel! It's more like a caftan! Hollis loves the ears and peeks out from under the lip of the hood. My heart melts, of course, and I carry him into his room to finish our our nighttime routine.

Sweet smelling, warm, and still damp from his bath he asks to sit in the rocker with me and read "Pop" (Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss, his favorite book). We read through it once then talk about our day, a ritual I started about a month ago.

I start in the morning and go step-by-step, much as I did here. I tell him about the long hallway we walked down with the bubbly co-eds and how the floor was shiny and red. I tell him about how he loved getting his cheeks swabbed and how the girls were amazed at his charm. I tell him about how he bounced up and down on the booth seat next to Mimi and how he and Papa washed their hands twice at the restaurant.

His belly swells in and out under my hand with each breath and I breathe deeply into his soft, wet hair. I think I can sit here for hours if I wanted to. This moment - no these moments with my son are pieces of me, of my puzzle. Each one completes the picture and without them I would be smiling a gap-toothed smile. And I know well enough that I will never get to have his small body mold to mine like this again. Soon enough he will be big and tall and hairy and cringe when I kiss him. Our lives together will be in mostly his adult form. There is nothing that can make me forget that and so I keep my arms wrapped tightly around him and he softens into my embrace.

The funny thing about all of this is that I don't know I need these puzzle pieces. Any moment I think about it I already feel complete. I don't need a baby to do that. Just like I didn't need a husband to do it, either, but I realize that as I move through each day collecting this time in my life each measurement is integral to the other. Not seeking them out is the beauty of it: they just are. I'm in a field of wildflowers with an endless bouquet at my disposal, yet the bouquet in my hand is already the most beautiful I could ever construct... and yet, I keep getting to add to it.

And thus, I'm sitting here feeling overwhelmingly loved and loving. I am swimming in a sea of emotion and compassion and luck and love. And I am complete.

10.20.2009

Greetings!

Hello everyone from SITS!

Blogging - no - writing has become incredibly important to me over the past 12 months or so and without all the support I've received through this amazing communication portal I would have missed out on insights, love, intelligence, opinions, strength, and humor from all of you. Which is why SITS is such a great idea and community, and I'm glad I stumbled across it several months ago.

Anyway, here are three posts I felt represented what I do here the most:
Most of my posts are of a similar vein, with the exception of this summer where I've pretty much lost my mind. Apparently, I'm not alone, so that makes it feel a little less traumatic at least.

And I apologize in advance for the language. I love all words and especially profanity. I've cleaned up the three featured posts, but I can't guarantee that other posts linked therein are profanity-free as well. Nor can I guarantee any others are, as well. There's just something so pleasurable and spicy about swear words; I can't stay away!

In any case, I hope you enjoy!

Jess

10.17.2009

Butterflies like bubbles


For the last several days I have been slaughtering hundreds of butterflies.

I cringe and look away as it's happening, but I am rendered powerless to stop it. I can almost feel their frustration of being caught in the highway and street tailwinds; see their fruitless fluttering, so light and breathless, and then being helplessly sucked into the grill of my car or under my tires.

It's like running through a wall of bubbles, the sense that their little bodies burst on impact with my car, like bubbles on my skin. The only difference is I'm not breathless or laughing. I'm distraught and disturbed.

There are hundreds of them, everywhere, all flying north. I'm so confused. Why are butterflies heading north? Shouldn't they be headed towards warmer weather and a chilly margarita??
Snouts were pouring over in Bastrop Co yesterday and are present
today...Yesterday thousands of them were heading N/E but with the N/W winds
today they are befuddled and haunting the trees etc in an effort to buck
that wind and to move further northward..... I saw exactly 7 Monarchs
riding the N/W wind today but 5X that number of Queens and quite a few
Admirals heading SW -Butterfly Digest
They are lost. I am so sad.

And no matter which way I go I pummel into them. If I can manage it I slow down and hope the aerodynamics of the car does its job. It seems to work. Otherwise, I drive with squinted eyes at the horror of what I'm doing to these beautiful organic robots utterly unable to change their programming and take a safer route: must. go. north. I imagine their little brains are telling them. No matter that there are giant steel beasts criss-crossing their path and diminishing their numbers.

I wonder if we're screwing up their evolution. Obviously there are hundreds of thousands of them, but can their numbers survive this unaccounted for, unnatural selection process?? Did Mother Nature take us into account when she ingrained them with this instinct to move?

It's not an easy thing to do to drive into a traipsing daisy chains of fluttering butterflies. It feels shameful and wrong.

I don't think any other motorist is relishing the experience either. Maybe they're not feeling it as viscerally as I am, but surely they think, "Fuck. This isn't cool." Fragile beauty such as this should be admired, not annihilated.

It's at moments like these that I am so ashamed of what we do to our planet. I can compartmentalize the landfills (they're out of sight and better than in my backyard), I can reason that we're trying to do better (green movements, etc.), and I can hope that it's working, but when I am forced to participate in the carnage of nature it makes my heart lurch. If only I could walk where I need to go I would do so in a butterfly's heartbeat... if they even have hearts.

Actually, I don't care if they don't. They're me in so many ways with or without a heart. They're just doing what they need to do to fulfill their tiny little destinies. It's what anyone of us does every single moment of our lives and to see their plans so easily destroyed unsettles me, I suppose. Little butterfly lives lost forever.

Is this what the butterfly effect really means?? Is this what it means when we tell ourselves and each other that we can't control everything? That at some point in our lives we're going to explode head on into something unmovable and unforeseeable? Obviously, the answer is yes. I'm just not sure I'm willing to commit to just being a fragile butterfly.

10.15.2009

I'm at a loss


I don't know what's wrong with me, but I don't know what to write. I've been doing this for a year and a half and I've never felt this way before. Part of it is I'm way behind on my blogging in general (you know what that means: following up on comments, reading my friends' blogs, returning comment love, etc.) and so when I sit down to the computer I'm usually taking care of business rather than writing.

But I'm also feeling very, I don't know, reclusive. Not my usual mode, lemme tell you. I'm not sure how this works. If I continue to be quiet and shy will people stop being my friend? Will everyone stop reading my blog? Will I lose the small community of personalities I've come to know and love if I shrink away from the computer as I truly want to do?

I've all but given up on Twitter; it overwhelms me to the nth degree. I just can't keep up and I can never get on board long enough to follow a train of conversation. I feel lost in Tweetdeck hell.

So, after a tumultuous summer and a revolutionary start to fall I am here. But barely.

Please don't think I've abandoned this outlet and decide to leave. I look forward to your presence here, even if it is just a bunch of 1s and 0s. And I feel pathetic and weird for admitting that, but there it is. All the women who comprise my internet world have woven a web about me and I take great comfort in knowing it's there. It's reassuring and warm and often uplifting and eye-opening. It is a window into a world bigger than myself and I need it as much as I need anything else.

And to think, it's still just a bunch of 1s and 0s.

::

I feel like a Light Bright board with a few pegs missing: all lit up, with a few holes, and a little lopsided... at least I'm lit up, right??

10.09.2009

Offically 2!

[Ed. note: written 10/5/09] There is nothing like watching time happen to a child. Every day is a bright new beginning, an unknown world. He doesn't remember that he was cranky yesterday. He doesn't worry about being cranky again today. He just is.

As I write this, it's a couple of days before Hollis' second birthday. I woke up this morning and thought of where I was two years ago: unbelievably pregnant, 41-ish weeks, scared, nervous, excited, impatient. I was also childless.

Even though his entry into my life was 4 days away I could argue that he was practically here since he was affecting every aspect of my life to a large degree. But it's true, he wasn't really here, yet. I hadn't heard his sweet little voice, or smelled his scent, or felt his soft, buttery warmth. He was a figment of my imagination - lo, he wasn't even a "he," yet, but just "the baby" inside me. I hadn't yet experienced that Mama Bear phenomenon I'd always read about, but never felt. My heart hadn't yet learned of what it was truly capable: massive, mind-blowing, conscience-clearing, soul-bending L O V E and devotion.

For so long now Hollis and I have been sharing a wonderful life together. Two years of daily loving contact. Think about it. It's not that common for many people on this planet to experience such joy and safety as he and I share as a pair. I expect our honeyed days to go on for many more years, too, because I believe in magic and I believe in us as a family.

He is a special human being with trait combinations I would never have concocted myself, but yet are so harmonious in his little being that I cannot paint a more perfect picture: He is precocious, but gently so. He is inquisitive, yet cautious. He is self-deprecating and quick to laugh at himself, but also determined and diligent. He never gets discouraged, finds wonder in, literally, anything within sight or touch, and is fiercely loving in an on-my-terms-only-toddler-way.

I am overwhelmingly happy to know this tiny little person and I am beyond giddy to get to know him as he grows into a man. A man I hope can look back on his childhood with laughter, mirth and love and know that his momma and daddy were there for him every step of the way.

Happy Birthday, Little Man! I love you!



10/9/08 7:30 am when I woke him up.



[Ed. note: Here's his 1st birthday post.]

10.08.2009

Two years ago today


Two years ago today I was in labor. Right about now (1:40) I thought for SURE I was dilated more than 1cm as I had been for the previous 8 hours. When my midwife checked, nope, still 1cm. She told me no more walking and to rest up which was fine with me because my feet and legs were aching from walking practically non-stop since 4:30 am. (Next time I go into labor, I'm going to take a nap, trust me.)

I woke up today at 3:45 am and I admit it was wine-induced. Rooster got his annual review yesterday and with it a hefty raise and a promotion so we split a nice bottle of wine with dinner. I don't regret it, but I sure did at 3:45 this morning. However, the very best part about being up at such an ungodly hour was that I got to witness 4:15am, the time stamp anniversary of when my waters broke and my life began to change whether I was ready for it to or not.

I remembered waking up that morning, feeling like something had just happened and then racing to the bathroom as my insides decided make their presence known to the outside world. I don't think I got any waters on my sheets, believe it or not. I'm telling you, I just KNEW something was up and it was time for action.

My baby, on the other hand, despite getting the ball rolling was actually pretty content to just chill for hours on end, hence my 1 pm check-up and still only 1cm of dilation. Oh. My. God. Really?? I was in sooo much pain, like way more than what you'd think 1cm would cause.

My midwife decided to check out the meconium levels and had me lay down at a little before 3pm. She put her fingers inside me and pushed the baby's head back and up off my cervix. I screamed - yes, SCREAMED - and flopped in pain on the towel-covered mattress. I'd never felt pain like that before. I began to sob, then vomit from the adrenalin and hormone rush due to the pain. It's beautiful, I tell you, the miracle of labor. On top of that, she'd been alarmed at the amount of meconium in the amniotic fluid and she made the call to head in to the hospital.

I sobbed even harder then because I knew that an epidural was in my future. If I was in this much pain and in a hospital there was no fucking way in hell I was going to refuse relief. I was heartbroken and defeated, but utterly resolute to follow my midwife's recommendation seeing as she had over 2000 births under her belt and I was only working on my first.

We also had to race the clock. 3 o'clock in Austin could be the best time of day to hit the highway or the worst, you just never know. It was midweek and we knew we were cutting it close, so we had to act fast.

It was actually pretty hilarious; of all the myriad things we had to do to get ready for a homebirth one of them was to pack a just-in-case-hospital bag. It was the one thing we never did. For Christ's sake, Rooster even dusted the fan blades and we had just steamcleaned the carpets to make for the cleanest possible birthing room, but alas, no hospital bag was to be had. What can I say? We tried.

So, while Rooster raced around the house packing our bags, I headed to the shower. And there I found laboring bliss. Why, oh why, hadn't I taken a shower earlier?? The contractions were like velvet slaps with hot water running over my rotund body. Nothing like the vice-like grip I was experiencing on dry land. I stood like a winded mare in that shower until someone came and got me. My mom and Terry were at the house and wisely and kindly offered us their automatic transmission Volvo. We gladly took them up on it.

Off in the car we go following the midwife to her favorite hospital. Only to get stuck in gridlock traffic. That's right. Pregnant woman writhing in pain, hooting and hollering in bumper-to-bumper traffic. We pulled off the highway twice to try to find an alternate route to no avail. Eventually, we passed the accident that had caused the cluster fuck and we were zooming on our way. A 20 minute drive turned into an HOUR was almost over.

The hospital was a thousand times less scary than I'd imagined, however, it did render my midwife to a walking, talking birthplan and that wasn't exactly what I'd wanted. She wasn't allowed to advice the other health workers or administer midwifery in any way shape or form per Texas law. She handled the transition adeptly and with grace and I was immensely grateful for that as I looked to her over the next several hours for guidance. If she nodded ok to whatever some Dr. Big Hootiehoot said I'd nod, too.

I lucked out in that the OB on duty was the only one on staff that my midwife really liked. An attractive, bald, South African man. Dr. P, all business, and no softness about him came in and matter of factly told us that he was slammed - babies everywhere, people!! - but he'd be there for us 100%. Polly, the young, dusty blonde OB nurse nodded consent and squeezed my hand. We were already besties, she and I. We shared a little secret otherwise known as the "cervical check." You gotta be besties with the person who periodically puts her hand up your cooter, after all, otherwise you're just a floosie who let's meaningless people touch your girlie parts.

He checks me out, too, checks the meconium levels and decides that I can leave if I want to. I'm hours and hours away and everything looks just fine to him. I'm in a panic. There's no way in hell I'm getting BACK in a car to fight rush hour traffic again. "Or," he says smoothly, "we can start you on an epidural and get you going on a low dose pit drip." He leaves it at that. My eyes are still wide because here's the moment I've been dreading. The moment where I have the power to refuse relief. My contractions are not getting me anywhere. I'm STILL 1 cm 12 hours in and 3-4 minutes apart. I am in a lot of pain and waters keep leaking from me. I'm a freaking mess. The midwife stops him and says, "I wasn't happy with the meconium levels." She levels a look at him seeming to say, LISTEN TO ME, but he brushes past her.

On his way out of the room, my midwife intercepts Dr. P and they bend their heads together. She nods. He nods. He opens the door and says over his shoulder. "I think you should do the epidural." I look at my midwife and she says, "I think you should, too." So, that was it for me.

I said, "Ok," and tossed my fantasy birth out the window. A little later, my midwife would explain that she hadn't seen anyone in as much pain as me at such an early stage and I was clearly becoming fatigued. She felt the epidural would give me a much needed break to rest and recoup before I had to start pushing. It made sense, but I still felt like a colossal failure in the face of temptation (I've never been one to resist, after all), but I sucked it up and decided to roll with it. What choice did I have, really? A woman in labor, naked but for a see through hospital gown, shoeless, purseless, and utterly - let's be honest - clueless. I was in it to win it no matter what I had to do.

I think I had barely stopped nodding my head, "Yes," when the dashingly handsome Indian doctor entered stage right. "Dr. Dimple P." his name tag read. That's right. I remember thinking I've never seen anyone this hot with such an amazing name before. Think Dr. Mohinder Suresh from Heroes hot. He came in guns a-blazing. Reading off his Please-Don't-Sue-Me disclaimer from rote memory. This was the boring part for him. Meanwhile, his sidekick nurses were scurrying around the room pulling open drawers and unwrapping various things I couldn't see.  Rooster was holding my hand through the contractions and I was desperately trying to listen to Dr. Hot Dimple and his warnings in order to make an educated decision about the risks of an epidural, but it was all I could do to no scream in pain let alone listen to life-threatening risks. Seriously, there's GOT to be a better way of doing that, right??

I sat on the edge of the bed with legs dangling, Rooster kneeling in front of me as Dr. Hot Dimple opened the back of my gown, still talking a mile a minute, and felt for whatever it was he needed to find. He admonished me on at least one occasion to remain still because he was using the needle. Well, dude... I'm sorry, but do you really expect a laboring woman to be able to hold still?? 10 seconds later it was done and he exited stage left with a swoosh and a swirl never to be seen again. His bill was roughly $2500 for approximately 5 minutes of work. Not bad, dude. Not bad at all. (Incidentally, when I was telling my friend my birth story she thought that name sounded familiar (and I don't blame her) and she remembered that he was photographed at some Austin high-society shindig looking dashing.)

The epidural did just what epidurals are supposed to do, good and bad. I was rendered immobile, so I had to have a catheter (hello, bestie, Polly!) and I had to lay on my sides, never my back, for fear the baby would rotate around and face the wrong way. I was hooked up to fetal monitors and had an IV. I felt like one of those human seed pod thingies from The Matrix.

Eight hours of rest and worry later my best galpal, Polly, came in to check me and was surprised to discover I was 8-9cm. She called for Dr. P and he checked me, too. (It's so great having people stick their hands in you one after the other, isn't it??) Yep, I was ready!

Those of you who've had hospital births know what happened next: The Birth SWAT Team descended en masse. The dim, gentle lighting was chucked for spot-light strength beams. The kilowatts above me could have powered a small solar-powered car, I'm sure, and if I hadn't been so busy wondering if aliens had just descended upon me and were about to beam me up, I might have made a joke about it.

A dozen people filled the corners of the room all doing their little assembly piece. One nurse, it seemed, had the duty to talk to "Mom." Oh, right, that's me, I realized dreamily. She was too lazy to read my chart and find out my name. Luckily, some of her comrades did read my chart and actually called me by my name.

As things started to heat up I had half the room yelling, "Go, Mom, go!" and the other half shouting, "You can do it, Jess!" My midwife was on one side, Rooster on the other. They each had a knee as I pushed. 10 people are staring at me spread-legged on this table. I briefly think about poop and then think, literally, "Fuck 'em," and just let my body do whatever it had to do. I was quietly angry at the injustice and remarkable formality of my situation. Everyone was so business-like. I was just a piece of their busy night. Nothing too remarkable here, ladies and gentlemen. Let's just get this baby out and head on to the next!

Dr. P did another check and realized that the baby had, indeed rotated. He did a quick push and turn and miraculously got him facing the right way. I just narrowly dodged a C-section, thank you very much.

At some point, someone puts an oxygen mask on my face. No explanations, nothing. I'm FUCKING TERRIFIED now. A few times I think I'm going to vomit again as I'm pushing, but I'm too afraid to say anything for fear they're going to cut me open to "save" me.

A few pushes later and I heard Dr. P call for someone to get "the vacuum" ready. Apparently my baby wasn't coming out as quickly as he'd like. The fetal monitors were registering high levels of distress (no shit). That was all I needed to hear, though. Oxygen mask or no. Vomit in said oxygen mask or no, I was bound and determined that no one was going to suck. my. baby. out. of. me. Period.

So, I pushed as if my very life depended on it and I heard gasps around the room at my display of strength. Everyone was shocked that I had just gotten past the hump no one thought I could do on my own. One or two more pushes and the deed was done.

My little pumpkin was here 21 hours later on the 9th of October. All 8 lbs 11 oz and 20.1 inches of him.

I don't remember if I heard a cry or not, I only know that Rooster was there holding my hand and then running off to follow the baby. A boy! Nurses took him to a little baby area across the room while I birthed the placenta and got stitched up.

Teeth chattering, shaking, my entire body, literally, vibrating. The oxygen mask still on my face. I'm alone and still terrified. No one has bothered to tell me what was up with the mask. Finally, my midwife comes over and I ask her. She says it was because the baby's heart rate had been slowing down. Then I ask her why I was shaking. She said it was the hormones. - I didn't know hormones could simulate the high of Ecstasy, but ok. I'll take it.

Then Hawk is brought to me, swaddled as babies are. I was utterly floored by how cute he was. Weren't newborns supposed to look like aliens? But he was cherub like already. Enormous cheeks framed dark pewter-colored eyes. He looked up at me and blinked and I was a goner.



Everything I had just endured was worth it a thousand times over for this precious second, caught miraculously on camera by my midwife. I had no idea she even had our camera, but goddamn am I grateful she did.

They took him away after a quiet minute with me and Rooster to make sure he was breathing ok. There actually had been dangerous levels of meconium after all (the good Dr. P had been mistaken) and Hawk had aspirated some of it during birth. They'd also determined that he had entered my birth canal a little wonky, hence the inordinate amount of pain I experienced with little dilation. It all made sense and I felt somewhat vindicated. I wasn't a wimp! I wasn't making any of this up! I needed to be in the hospital and no where else!


When they brought him back they told me to try to nurse. I offered him my cantaloupe-sized breast and he latched on immediately. I felt millions of years of evolution coursing through my veins and out through my breast to my little, peach-fuzzed infant. It was magnificently glorious.


So, yeah... that's what's been on my mind all week. I just felt I had to share. If you've gotten to the end of this, thanks for sticking with it.

This is my first soul tattoo.