Category Archives: Birth

Birth Day

My baby was born 2 years ago today.  There was snow on the ground along with a little falling from the sky.  I can still see S’s breath heavy in the cold as we slowly made our way up and down the block.  Her labor was long, with a few roadblocks, but after a little coaxing, M made his entrance into the world in our bed at our home around 6:30 a.m.

It was a long night and I don’t do well with sleep-deprivation.  I know it sounds terrible as the one who did not have to push that enormous thing out of my lady-parts, but I was exhausted that day.  I first met my son in the wee hours of the morning, so bleary eyed I could hardly make out his tiny features in the dim light.

As he emerged from the great beyond, I scooped him up and placed him on his Ima’s belly, momentarily not quite sure of what had just happened.  He was perfect with his odd shaped head and tiny newborn cries.  Perfect.

And I was desperate for sleep.  I was so tired that when the midwives and the doula abandoned us a mere three hours later, a kind of delirium set in making it impossible for me to even think about sleeping.  Three days later and still relatively sleepless, my body started breaking down.  I had severe chills and couldn’t stop shaking.  It took a friend coming over and forcing a sleep-aid down my throat for me to succumb to the underlying desperation for dreamland.

Looking back, I wonder about those first few days.  It was like something primal washed over me.  I felt like sleeping would mean not protecting my woman and my son.  Sleep would mean I, regardless of the presence of other people, would not be making food or changing diapers or swaddling or helping S to the bathroom.  In other words, the world might have just fallen apart if I slept for 4 hours.

I think some of that stems from the undeniable fact (ask S) that I am a control freak, not being able to delegate responsibilities or ask for help without feeling even a little bit like a failure.  I also think some of that was about the tumult that happens when one’s identity shifts suddenly after 33 years.  I think my body was feeling the disequilibrium, the newness of our new configuration and it was freaking out.

I was looking at my son playing his new guitar today, feeling a little sleepy from the night before.  The difference between now and then is that there is no more tumult.  We are like flat water with gentle ripples rather than the pre-hurricane ocean we were that night.  There is extreme beauty in both places, but tonight I am tired and need the calm.

The past two years have been amazing and so, so hard on many levels.  My boy is…beautiful.  Though time could slow down a bit, I am excited for all the next steps to come (like sleeping through the night…like all the way through the night…Mama’s still tired.)

-Betsy

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Are you next?

When M was barely out of S’s vagina, one of the midwives turned to me and said, “It’s your turn next!”  She said this with the same amount of excitement one would expect after you have waited in line for 30 minutes for that new roller coaster you have been dying to ride and it is almost your turn.  There were/are several things wrong with her statement.  First, I had just watched S’s body turn inside out to push out our child.  There was swelling and all sorts of fluids and some things we both vowed never to speak of again.  I had just watched that and she says it is my turn next.  Are you freaking kidding me?  No way!  Why would I put my poor little vagina through that when I have a very willing partner to do the dirty work for me? (And yes, I know it is a beautiful thing to gestate and birth a child.  But seriously, NO WAY!)  Second, I have no desire to give birth.  No desire to have a being grow in my womb.  Frankly, the thought of another human growing inside my body freaks me out more than anchovies.

I have not always been so able to voice my position on this subject.  I have spent a lot of time working through feelings of guilt and sadness around all of this.  As a female identified woman with a uterus, I have felt pressure from the outside to want to gestate and give birth to a child.  It is not infrequent that people ask me when I want to start trying to get pregnant.  The assumption is that with two women in the relationship, we must want to take turns popping out babies.  I have spent a lot of time wondering if I will regret never having given birth.  Will I feel like I didn’t make the team or got left out of the club?  Will I look back on my life and add never having been pregnant to my list of regrets?  Right now, I don’t know the answer to those questions.  I hope the answer is no on all accounts.  I guess time will tell.

My entire life, I knew I wanted to be a mother.  When S and I were first dating, I told her it would be a “deal breaker” for us if she didn’t want to have kids.  At that point, I had not really thought about how those children would come to me, to us.  After many years of being together, we began to talk more seriously about having children and it was decided that S would carry.  She is older than I and, for very personal reasons, felt a primal urge to carry, birth and raise a child.  What I came to realize through all of our discussions was that I didn’t have that urge.  I always knew I would be a mother, but I never dreamed of pregnancy.  I dreamed of holding that tiny baby, sometimes holding a onesie to my shoulder and patting it as if it were already full.  Through these discussions, I realized that no matter how my child came to me, I knew I would be a good mother.

It is interesting to watch people’s reactions after they ask me if I am next.  It is only women who ask and, if they have given birth, they most often have a sparkle in their eye like they are ready to welcome me to the table of gestation.  I do think that sparkle fades after I say I am not interested.  I always follow-up with a joke, “Are you kidding?  I watched my son come out.  Why would I do that?”  There is a little giggle, but I can tell they are a little sad.  Maybe they are sad for me, thinking I am missing out.  But I don’t feel sad.  At this point in my life, I feel liberated to be able to be true to who I really am.  After having spent so many years questioning who I am and what I stand for, it feels good to be able to say that I am a great mother to a wonderful boy who didn’t come out of my vagina.

-Betsy

Letting Go

Ovulate. Inseminate. Wait. Repeat.  Before he existed, I began letting my son go.  Yearning for him, though I did not know it would be him. Ovulate. Inseminate. Wait. Repeat.  The letting go began when I came to terms with my inability to get my wife pregnant.  My lack of semen, a black mark on my name. Ovulate. Inseminate. Wait. Repeat. Without testes in our household, we needed another to come help.  Did this render me useless?  How did I fit when my body was just an extraneous being in the triangle? The sorrow I feel/felt for being merely a passenger on the road to pregnancy is liquid inside me.  It settles in my feet and hands, sloshing around when I think too hard.  Ovulate. Inseminate. Wait. Repeat.  The letting go began when I, with lack of sperm, drew that life-giving substance into the syringe, filling the canal that would eventually bring my boy to me.  The letting go was born of bringing another into our life, being on someone else’s timetable and priority list.  Slipping into the passenger’s seat, I began to let go of the steering wheel.  Ovulate. Inseminate. Wait. Repeat.  And then it worked.  My tiny boy, growing inside another’s body while I can already smell him laying on my chest.  The letting go continued as I couldn’t eat for her.  I couldn’t sleep for her.  I couldn’t decide where to go or who to be with.  The letting go continued as she hopped a plane for a far-off land, taking my boy in her womb.  As her belly began to grow and I began to feel him move, I started letting go of feeling like I could be his everything and began to realize that I would be his everything, after her.  As he grew bigger and bigger, I began to dream about his face, androgynous and lovely.  When he was born, they put him on her stomach.  She had earned it, afterall.  So, I let go of being the first person to touch him. Then I held him and he looked at me.  From the moment I had to give him back to the midwife, I have been letting go.  Realizing that I can’t save him.  That he will have his heart broken.  Break a bone. Feel deep fear and sadness.  Letting go that I can never be his everything.  He walks and runs now.  Chatters like I did when I was a toddler.  He falls down, runs into car doors, and feels sad sometimes.   But he is also mostly joyful, which makes me happy, and inquisitive and loving.  The letting go continues, on a daily basis, but I changed rides.  No more ovulation, insemination or waiting.  Now it is: Watch in Awe.  Dry tears. Hug and kiss. Repeat.

-Betsy