Wow, it's January! Looking back on the year past, and looking forward to the year to come . . . I am excited moving into 2011. I am feeling happy and hopeful as we bring old business to a close, continue works in progress, and set forth in some new directions as well!
Obviously, I'm a little late to the party in terms of getting out a New-Year's-themed post! I've spent the last days working on one that in the end I have decided not to publish. I was trying to write my reflections on the outgoing year. I had a lot of trouble with it though.
The most important thing that happened for me in 2010 was the birth of our second baby and the transition to being a mother of two. I found myself writing out the narrative of her birth in great detail. I spent hours and hours--writing, deleting, rewriting, editing, deleting, and feeling uneasy with the idea of posting what I'd written. Finally I realized that the reason I was having so much trouble is that I am still processing the events and the emotions and pondering the meaning of my birth experience. It's still a bit fresh. So I'm going to try to just summarize and keep it simple.
My first birth, attended at home by midwives, had been an incredible, empowering and ecstatic experience. This second birth was very different and very difficult--it too started out as a midwife-attended homebirth but it ended in a non-emergency transfer to the hospital in labor. I started out labor already miserable and exhausted due to a severe cold and bronchitis that had kept me up most of the previous two nights before the first contraction even happened.
After progressing very slowly but steadily over the course of a day and a half, I finally dilated to 8-9 centimeters. And there I remained. I labored at home for about ten hours more with no real further progress, ending up with a swollen cervix and contractions that were petering out. After all attempts to remedy the situation had failed, we decided to go in to the hospital.
Luckily, I was treated well and respectfully by most of the hospital staff and they honored my wishes and preferences to a great extent. My husband and doula were with me, a kindred midwife spirit working at the hospital in another capacity came in privately to give me support and some good advice, and I was fortunate to wind up in the care of a very nice OB and a wonderful L&D nurse. That really made all the difference.
At the hospital I went through twelve more hours of labor with very little progress. Late in that day, I had a hellish experience with an epidural: it took well over an hour of multiple scary and painful attempts to place the catheter and then an hour or so later it wore off abruptly. In between, though, I was able to get some relief from contractions and a desperately needed nap. After the epidural wore off I was in absolute hell for about half an hour, but finally the doctor checked me and I was finally completely dilated with a bulging bag of waters. With my agreement she broke my water, and on the next contraction I started pushing and within five minutes the baby was out and in my arms. It was a beautiful little girl with lots of hair, as predicted and wished for by her big sister. The relief that the whole ordeal was over was incredible.
While it ultimately ended well, and I had a spontaneous vaginal birth with relatively little intervention, this whole birth experience challenged me and shook me up significantly. It's changed and reoriented me in ways that are barely even beginning to unfold. In my early 20's, I trained as a homebirth midwife, and though I haven't practiced in years I've found it impossible to either pursue midwifery or let it go. New possibilities for my own life direction are opening and emerging in the wake of this second child, and it will be interesting to see how this takes shape.
Motherhood of two, meanwhile, has settled down over the last half of 2010. The first couple of months with two kids were sometimes challenging but it's gotten easier. We've all found our groove and adjusted to life as a foursome. We really couldn't have hoped for a better baby either--she is so sweet and mellow and is just incredibly funny and full of smiles. We are all crazy about her! The months seem to be flying by this time around and I can't believe that she's almost a year old already. I am trying to enjoy it all, as this time in life doesn't come again!
I won't lie and say that DD1 has never been ambivalent about the baby or upset about losing her role as the exclusive center of the parental universe. But still, she is thrilled to have a sister and proud of "her baby". She is a great big sister--loving, sweet, nurturing, and protective. DD2, for her part, adores her right back and watches her every move with wide-eyed wonder and excitement, taking it all in. As DD2 closes in on eleven months old the girls are able to actually play together so much more now, and there is lots of rolling around together hugging and giggling and shrieking gleefully and sitting smiling at each other having "conversations" back and forth. It's so wonderful to watch the relationship between them grow and develop. It makes me so happy! I love my little family!
So that is what 2010 was all about for me. So excited for 2011 and what's yet to come!