The Birth of Jack and Fiona

Boiled carrots with butter and salmon stuffed crab, that’s what I’m cooking for the babies and me to eat. They are taking a long nap now. I don’t think they’ll be totally into it, but I figure if they’re hungry enough they’ll at least give it a try. I have some leftover pasta and meatballs I can heat up as back up. The day is cloudy and quiet. It’s nice and cool, which I can really appreciate, I think I’m going through perimenopause, my body has been fluctuating between hot and sweaty then cold on what seems like an hourly schedule. I no longer feel confident that I am dressing Jack and Fiona correctly for the temperature, my fear is definitely underdressing. I know this will pass like it always does, until I hit the big one, menopause. I don’t know what I’ll do then!

We went to Early Start today. Thursdays we have parents group and the babies stay with the teachers in the classroom. It really feels like a break for me even though it’s only an hour and a half.  Today there were only two of us and the therapist for most of the time. I brought up my dilemma I wrote about yesterday, when I’m super tired and I have a nanny. I feel guilty if I don’t work in my studio or take care of chores around the house. The therapist said to look at it as a choice, I choose to lay down and do nothing. She suggested taking note of my feelings and using them as information, not fighting them or my body’s needs. It was very helpful and comforting that the other parent in the group has the same guilty feelings when she does nothing when her son is taking a nap.

When I returned home, after Jack busted his lip on the stairs, they always get hurt right before nap time. After I made them bottles and put them in their cribs, feeling guilty for still giving them bottles at seventeen months. After I did my short Yoga video to stretch out my super sore legs from the insane exercise class I did yesterday, I thought about the birth of Jack and Fiona. I thought about how uncomfortable I get when people ask me “how was your delivery?”  Because it’s such a long story, and I didn’t carry the babies. It’s also uncomfortable because the delivery was traumatic. The nursery was ready, we had supplies, diapers and onesies, which were all too large for Jack and Fiona. We had our car seats and bags packed. When I first thought about using a surrogate I just couldn’t understand. I kept asking, “So when the babies are born the surrogates just going to hand them to us?” I asked this question over and over again. The whole nine months I felt connected to Jack, Fiona, and Malissa, but at the same time I felt distant, like I could still run away if I felt like I couldn’t handle my new life. I didn’t even think the babies would survive. I kept thinking they would die, or one would definitely die. We got to the hospital, three hours away, it was 9:00A.M., the doctor had induced Malissa at 6:00AM. She looked good and we all smiled nervous smiles and had nervous conversations. We realized after the doctor came in several times that it was going to take a while before Jack or Fiona would make an appearance.

I wished I could have carried my own babies. But I would have been a wreck and I know it doesn’t make a difference once they are born. I quickly became mom and I know our bond is just as strong. The doctor broke Jacks sac first, I can’t remember what time, but he stayed in for what felt like too long and I was so worried he would die without the amniotic fluid. Soon the delivery room was packed, Alan and I at the top of the bed. I said I didn’t mind not seeing the head come out. I felt like I was going to pass out any second. There were nurses, people with oxygen, two doctors, an intern doctor, and Tom, Malissa’s husband. Jack came out first, Alan cut the umbilical cord, Malissa was in pain and her heart rate was sky high, she looked pale, I was worried and so was Tom. The nurse lay Jack on the little bed under the heat lamp. His legs and arms were so small, I kept asking “is he O.K.?” The nurse kept saying “Yes, he’s perfect.” I didn’t believe her, “he’s so small” I kept saying. Little Jack. The doctors were waiting for Fiona, they broke her sac and when the doctor put his hand up to grab her he said she swam the other direction. The floor was getting more and more blood and fluids on it. I only had socks on and didn’t want to step on blood. The doctor finally got Fiona out, she looked white and limp, legs black. I thought she was dead. They sucked out tons of fluid, then gave her oxygen. It took several minutes for her to start looking alive. Alan and I went to our room, took off our shirts, and laid down on our hospital beds. Jack was put on my chest and Fiona was put on Alan’s chest. We stayed like this all night, and pretty much for the next three days. I was worried about Malissa, but the nurse said she was doing fine.

Now it’s almost seventeen months later. We are in the process of transitioning to one nap and giving up the bottle. But people still ask about the birth and Moms still like to tell their birthing stories to me. It’s a very powerful moment when something is born. Last night I was watching the babies play and thinking about how much they know, but also how much they have left to learn.

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Thoughts on Motherhood Through the Eyes of an Artist