Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Birth Story

My eyes are rolling back in my head. The pain - thundering through my entire being. I am completely at its mercy. I'm in a bathtub, I know that much, and a crowd of faces surround me. Except I really can't establish whose faces; I am more seeing auras. And if I think I'm about to die NOW - in hour 8 - just WAIT till we get to hour 9, 10 and 11.

Hard to imagine less than 12 hours ago, Chris and I are making pancakes together, giddy with excitement at each small contraction. It's finally here. 6 days past due date. Chris and I had been doing EVERYTHING we possibly could all weekend to get labor started (not to mention a false alarm at the hospital the night before). But now, 4 a.m. Monday morning, it's the real deal.

I've got my yoga background; my deep breathing DOWN, I think to myself. This is going to be EASY. I've chosen a non-medicated birth for this reason - my confidence - as well as wanting to be aware of when my body tells me to do something, and possibly even prevent complications.

Chris and I run some errands before casually checking in at St. Mark's around noon. "Are you in pain?" asks the check-in nurse.

No, I thought, but I'm having contractions, and I don't want you to send me home, so I say yes.

"Good, we'll get you all settled into your room."

We get settled into our room. I lay out all my comforts that I think I'm going to use during labor. Music. "The Lego Movie." My stuffed animal. Essential oils.

Midwife comes in and breaks my water. Chris and I then go for a walk to get him coffee at the hospital cafe. I start doubling over with contractions on our return trip. Back in the room, my midwife gives me Clary Sage oil to rub all over my tummy. I do that. 10 seconds later, I'm in the bathroom and my body COMPLETELY cleans itself out, if you know what I mean. It's amazing how the body works. It doesn't want you to worry about going to the bathroom during labor or delivery.

Right after that, I am IN IT. I come out of the bathroom, and I am moaning. I kind of stop remembering at this point, because it's the same type of thing for the next few hours to come. I know I'm on the bed on all fours, and when I have a contraction, I moan as midwife, chris, my mom and the nurse rub my back and press on my hips. I have zillions of these, so it's amazing how dilligent they were at making me comfortable for, gee, 11 hours? I am so impressed. Eventually, I go the bathtub, which hurts to sit on the hard floor so I yell, and Chris holds my back, which is on fire. This could have been going on for hours. It's bad pain. I want to die. I think I can't handle it. I look at Chris and he has tears in his eyes, seeing me like this. I yell. LOUD. For hours. the nurse tells me to "drop my octave," and grunt gutterally, which actually helps me push later (brings the energy down through your body. I'm back out of the bathtub. Midwife says I'm dilated to 9.5 but my cervix is still in the way. She has me sit so the pressure is ON the cervix. This is DEATH. After two hours of this, I start crying "Help me!" and whimpering and balling and saying I can't do it.

Did I mention I would puke throughout? The pain of the contractions were irritating me like a buzzsaw and then all of a sudden, the panicky need to puke? And heaving during a contractions? That was the worst.

I'm in this state of utter pain and chaos for three and a half hours. My mom says during this time, "transition," my contractions chart showed they were full blast, and right on top of each other (no breaks in between). Right now, I'm naked, and push the midwife away when she tries to cover me up. I snap at Chris for whispering, "you're doing great, baby."

"Don't whisper!" I yell, feeling his words grating on my nerves.

This feeling that I had to go "no. 2" had been irritating me for an hour or so, and finally, it comes to the point where I think it's just gonna happen right there on the table (the thought of moving to the bathroom during a contraction was too much to comprehend).

"Turn away!" I yell at Chris, thinking I was about to have the most embarrassing moment of my life.

"What's wrong?" asks the midwife.

"I've gotta go to the bathroom!" I yell desperately. "Look away!"

"Oh, then you can start pushing! That's the baby coming!"

The idea alone that I had "progressed" to a new stage is enough to give me hope. I had been yelling for an epidural moments before this, thinking the pain was literally going to kill me if it lasted any longer. But pushing? This is new. I can do this.

With the contractions, still full-blast, i flip over on my back and instinctually prop my feet into the nurses hands. On the contraction, I push, and feel relief. I breathe, calming down, knowing that this would not be as hard as what I just went through. I know I can take my time here. So I breathe, and push. Chris, who formerly did not want to watch the baby come out, is right there in the action zone, coaching me to keep pushing. He sounds excited. It makes me feel encouraged. I push hard. I know that pushing this hard is doing something bad to my genitals, but I don't really care. I feel sharp pain as something that isn't supposed to rip, does. But I push on the contraction, because it feels better than sitting through the contraction. Chris is cheering me on. I know I'm not going to have a bowel movement on the table. So I feel safe, and know that I am going to see my baby soon.

Chris, my mom, the nurse, the midwife all emit some sort of sound that just sounds like pure joy to my ears, and I don't necessarily feel it physeically, but I know that his head is out. I am in shock. My legs are shaking HARD. I know that a few more pushes will get William into this world. I push even harder, the pain a distant feeling as I experience what feels like a bowl of limbs tumble from me. He's out in 13 minutes.

There's crying, and I see a grey form being handed to me, but I don't so much look at him, as I  FEEL him. I will never forget how he felt. Slimy, just this bundle of limbs, warm. Vibrating from his cry. Whenever he cries now, and I'm about to get frustrated, I remember that moment and how he felt, and soften up at how as a team, we got him here.

I pull him to my chest and am hyperventilating. I hold him for just a moment before handing him to a tear-dampened Chris who just cut the cord and is now taking William off to get a bath or shots or something. I am still in shock. Everything has an aura. I cannot believe I am alive.

The next hours pass slowly, and surreally, as I am patched up and put in bed. As William is handed to be to nurse, and as Chris and I drift to sleep for the first time as new parents.

During labor, I thought I would use all sorts of yoga breath, moves, different positions, my comforts...no. I used nothing but the sheer will not to kill myself. And I couldn't have done it without Chris. He was 100% present with me, at the expense of his own comfort (who doesn't eat or can press on my back for 11 hours?). Endurance is the only trait that comes in handy during a non-medicated labor. And I almost ran out. But if I am capable of surviving that, I can survive anything. And that thought has come up many times during recovery, emotional dips, and overall, just this whirlwind of new parenthood.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Why this Feminist is Anti-Birth Control

I was right there with the best of 'em...hootin' and hollerin' about the injustice towards women regarding the Hobby Lobby ruling.

Taking away a woman's right to free birth control ... we can't let the Man win this one!

Men don't get to decide whether a woman will get pregnant or not!

Men can't stop women from having recreational sex!

That's just wrong!

But as my OB/GYN wretched her wand inside of me, planting a copper IUD inside my most tender of organs (me, wincing and nearly fainting on the table, of course), I started singing a different tune.

I am totally anti-birth control.

Now, I still believe in a woman's right to decide whether she gets pregnant or not.

And to be able to have recreational sex.

I just am against birth control...the product. 

I have to put that, WHERE?
Why do I have to have a foreign object in my life-giving uterus, risking my life at the chance of proliferation (it poking a hole and making its way into your abdomen, which would require emergency surgery). 

Why do girls and women have to be subjected to the hormonal Black Friday of "the pill," facing weight gain, mood swings, and - with all those chemicals - possible carcinogens?

What about men?

Dudes - now, they get to whisper-on a condom. No overactive thyroid or achy nights of cramping and bleeding involved. 

Even in the "extreme" case, where they get "snipped," a vasectomy surgery is far less invasive for men than it is for a woman to get the "equivalent," tubal litigation. A male vasectomy is usually an outpatient procedure that takes less than half an hour, and has a recovery of a day or two, while the female procedure requires general anesthesia, hours or days in the hospital, and a recovery time that lasts for days. Males face almost no risk of complication, while females, according to VasCenters.com, face risks of perforation of the intestine, infection, complications from anesthesia and even pulmonary embolism. Common lasting effects can include painful menstrual cycles, pelvic pain and a controversial complication that is still under study, called "post tubal ligation syndrome."

So you think every dude would be the tail-wagging volunteer in the relationship. Nope, according to a study by the Center for Disease Control in 2002, about 16% of reproductive-age women had the surgery, versus 6% or men. A more recent statistic shows worldwide, 5 times more women get the surgery than men. 

I'm gonna have a bad taste in my vagina about birth control, at least until guys get to share more of the load (no pun intended). Invent the male IUD. Maybe like a urethra plug? Something needs to change, so that women aren't the ones having to solely bear the (often painful) responsibility of preventing pregnancy. 

Now if THAT were Hobby Lobby's argument, they may not have lost me as a shopper. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

My New Life

This pretty much sums it up:

(camped out on the couch, nursing 13 hours out of the day, Daisy at our side, etc.)

And if the boobage is freaking you out...I offer you this:

Random Thoughts about Being a Mom

I can't wait to share my Baby William birth story with you, as soon as I can find the words to describe the awe and intensity surrounding it.

Until then, with the few sentences I can string together (thanks, baby brain!), I will tell you what I've been thinking about these past two weeks.

-I have stitches DOWN THERE. WTF.

-I pushed a baby out, and didn't die. I was convinced the pain of the contractions was going to kill me. Literally.

-I successfully feed a growing baby, with nothing but my own body.

-My stomach is shrinking faster than I thought.

-Nursing is a FULL-TIME job. With overtime. And working holidays. Like every hour.

-All the cliches people say about motherhood (like that it's a full-time job, it changes your life, it's hard but worth it, etc.) really make sense now, on a really profound level.

-I don't have time to do ANYTHING except care for the baby. I hear that gets better. But for now, I am living so moment-to-moment that I can't even really think about that to-do list.

-Thank God I got my Yoga certification. I cannot imagine working more than a couple hours here and there!!! I totally get the stay-at-home-mom thing now.

-I have more good friends than I thought. People have been making us dinner!! That is an act of kindness i can hardly fathom. I feel so loved.

-My dog is AMAZING with the baby. If he cries, she licks him (but not too much). She has to know he is okay before she can feel settled. Daisy is the best big sister!

-My husband went back to work today. I knew he did A LOT caring for me and the baby, but didn't realize he did THIS much! He fed me, changed the baby, put soaked-through clothes in the washer, let the dog out, etc....things I haven't figured out how to juggle yet!!

-My husband is even better now that he is a father. I'll list the ways in a forthcoming blog. He's THAT amazing. Have never felt so in love!

-Baby pictures are really hard to take. It's impossible to take a sufficient picture of my adorable baby that actually TRANSLATES how cute he is!! So, I haven't posted many on social media.

That's all for now....baby needs me! Hope I get to write again soon.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

3 Myths about Yoga

Yoga is for everybody
Yoga has grown so much over the past few years, that even your sweet Grandma may throw around the occasional Downward Dog or Lululemon reference. Yet yoga's overall image to outsiders has largely remained the same. I know that at least half of the time, when I offer a free intro to yoga class to a beginner, I'm met with apprehension and usually, a comment such as:

"I'm not flexible enough."

It's hard not to get frustrated with those who are not aware that yoga is NOT about being flexible. It's about cultivating a relationship with yourself, and your body. Fitness and flexibility is a by-product. As Mantra magazine writer Erica Mather says, "the point of yoga is not to excel; it's to experience." So, if you're tight in your hamstrings, she says, just enjoy the ride and they will eventually relax. That being said, I personally feel that Yoga media portrays a certain type of yogi, who is always uber-flexible and amazing at headstands. My mentor Denise Druce is the first to admit that some people are just built that way. "There are mobile bodies, and there are stable bodies," I recall her saying during my teacher training. Yoga is the balance of both qualities. Even though their yoga poses, like the splits, may appear perfect, a hyper-mobile (aka flexible) person may actually be straining their joints, and thus would benefit from strength poses that inspire stability. Then there is the hyper-stable (this was definitely me), whose body is sturdy and solid, but lacks some mobility, thus benefitting from stretches that give muscles a bigger range of motion. So that gal on the cover of Yoga Journal? All twisted in a long, elegant dancer pose? Don't bother with comparing yourself to her! She is likely simply hyper-mobile.

"Yoga is for a certain type of person."

The granola dude in Birkenstocks at Whole Foods. The thin mom you notice showing off bare arms while pushing a stroller around the the park. The nose-ringed college student with colorful leggings and a Chinese cherry blossom tattoo.  These are people who you might assume do yoga. Not the in-demand, working-mom news director of KUTV 2. Not the mayor of Salt lake City. Not the soccer mom down the road with a few pounds to lose. Actually - YES. All of the above are yogis. You don't have to look or live a certain way in order to be welcomed into a yoga class. Not all yogis are thin, not all yogis waste their money on a fancy yoga wardrobe, and not all yogis live like those hippies across the street with the Tibetan flags strung across the porch. Yoga is for everyone. It is at its core the all-accepting, uni-loving practice of oneness. And though some higher-end studios definitely have a certain clientele (I know there are a couple in town at which I feel kind of like a black sheep), you can rest assured most studios, and especially that community class, host every kind of person under the sun.

"Yoga is a religion."

It can definitely feel like a religion to a beginner, who has no idea what the heck "Ohm" is supposed to mean, and why it gets chanted as a group! The fact is though, Yoga is whatever you want it to be. It can definitely be spiritual, as it promotes the mind-body connection, and connection with others. It can be purely fitness-centric if you are just there to burn some calories. Or it can be purely relaxing, if you just want to enjoy taking time for yourself and quieting your mind. Or it can be everything! If you ever hear the word "God" in a yoga class, it usually is referencing the oneness of everything; how everything is connected. And if you don't like that, that's okay! You don't have to subscribe to everything to enjoy yoga. I had the same question about yoga as a religion, so I started studying its roots. I read  Patanjuli's Yoga Sutras, which at first, looked to me like the "commandments" of yoga, but after I contemplated them for a bit, I realized they are simply just ways you can live your best life, free of conflict with yourself or others. There is no black-and-white good and evil; no heaven or hell. Just ways to live in peace. Bottom line, if you show up to a yoga class, you will get out of it exactly what you want to get out of it. It's basically a blank canvas for you!

I hope the folks who really need to read this get a chance, because yoga is such a powerful way to change your life for the better. Once I started practicing, I noticed I was worrying less about my weight and more about how I can feed my body more healthfully. Over time, I became a generally less-stressed person who is no longer easily offended or angered. I focus less on material items, and more on the kind of experiences I want out of life. It's just a sweet way to live, and I would love you to live it with me.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What I (Reluctantly) Learned from a Psychic

I got a psychic reading today.

William was supposed to be here today - at the latest (I thought he'd be here two weeks ago), and I'm feeling helpless. Depressed, even. How can I be forced to be pregnant for even MORE DAYS? That's not fair! I've had a hard pregnancy! I need him here so I can stop feeling useless and bored (ego is having some obvious problems with the no-working thing).

Well, the psychic isn't giving this victim the news that she wants.

“You'll go into labor on Friday,” she says cooly.

That's the day after tomorrow. I had already asked the universe for 8 p.m. TONIGHT. Wednesday.

But I curb any comments and let her continue; my icy body language notwithstanding.

“This week is all about rest. About surrounding yourself with comforts. About the two lovers.”

High Priestess card can intimate self-actualization.
She points to cards that make a lot of sense, considering I'm doing NOTHING this week. All my nesting is done. And you can only lounge around the house a certain amount of time a day. But I let her continue.

“Then, in 1-2 weeks, that issue that you thought was black and white? You need to let it unfold as it should, and know that it will work out.”

Hm. Drawing a blank. Continue.

“In 2-3 weeks, the High Priestess. She signals enlightenment. You will come to some very good awareness about yourself and your life. Emotional fulfullment. Also, wealth. Abundance.”

My skepticism melts slowly away as I hear answers that could match what I'm seeking.

“In 3-4 weeks, you're finding a balance of all you have going on, finances included.”

I guess with a baby on the way, a dog, a business and several freelance gigs, that's bound to be in the cards.

“In 4-5 weeks, you're more assertive; confident, clear. Very cut and dry. You also start to notice a very inspiring, nurturing father figure in your life. You're also feeling very nurturing and content.”

And that's the end.

At first blush, I'm not turned on. But as her words slowly start to sink in, attaching themselves to various thoughts and worries bouncing around my brain, I begin to see a storyline.

My younger sister helps translate, as well.

“You need to just sit back and take care of yourself, and not worry when the baby will get here!”

She knew what was at the forefront of my mind. I have trapped myself in a losing game of predicting; trying to control when the baby will arrive; when I can get out of this “waiting” (my perspective) or “resting” (my sister's/the psychic's perspective) stage. I am fighting her advice to “take care of myself,” reasoning that there is only so much you can do! I'm bored, damn it! Doesn't anybody care that I just want a PURPOSE?

Moving on, to the “black and white” answer thing. It starts to seem to me like it's about finances. About whether I have to get a job, or face being poor. Maybe, the psychic says, it's not so black and white, and it will all work out how it should. I'll take it!

Then the High Priestess. I bet that being a new mom, and seeing life through new eyes is going to give me some great self-awareness and insight. I am starting to see that even though I am waiting now, my coming days are not full of stress or impatience, but rather fulfillment and self-actualization. And it gets better.

Finding a balance in three-ish weeks. Definitely sounds hopeful considering all I will have going on. I already know what my calendar looks like for that week, and there are several yoga commitments – my first since giving birth. It will also mark a month after my last regular paycheck. And also, I will be getting into a pattern with living life with an infant, and learning how that fits in with my existing family. So balance is a great word to hear. And that she said I will find it. I embrace that!

Lastly, being a “cut and dry” woman? When it comes to being the leader of my yoga business, I couldn't ask for a better trait! And that's not something I'd usually call myself. So being able to be assertive and tell it like it is (and price myself what I'm worth!) will definitely be a positive. It will also likely help me say “no” if I'm taking on too much, too soon.

When I see the whole picture, I am kind of in awe. It is such an evolution of myself. From selfishly wanting my child to come when I want him to....to growing into a woman with more self-awareness, balance and assertion, I am shocked to see such a transformation. It helps me realize that “waiting” or “resting” IS a good thing, and that I have plenty more I can do just to ENJOY, not to ACCOMPLISH. I'm going to read a book. Write a blog. Get a pedicure. Make a table-top sandbox with a tiny rake (those are like my Xanax...the raking is the only thing that makes me trance out!). The new life starts here, and starts with me letting go of control.

Monday, July 7, 2014

3 Reasons I Quit My Job before Baby

As we all do time to time when filling space with strangers, a woman at the store asks me a question. But today, my answer is anything but routine.

“So, what do you do?”
A profound silence passes before I eek out, “Nothing."

This is my first day not working since I chose indefinite maternity leave. And little did that woman know, that her innocent question just threw me head-first into reflection, self-judgement and panic. 

For so many years, my identity has revolved around my career. A career for which I have worked long hours, taken every (unpaid) opportunity, and managed to cultivate an Excel spreadsheet about a mile wide full of pertinent contacts. Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, it's also a career in the spotlight. From feature reporting on TV, to my most recent stint as a morning radio host, I got used to finally being somebody. And now, at my prime, where my face is on a gosh-darn bus, I am walking away.

The woman seems to notice my sudden silence and consternated look. 

"Um...well, what did you do before you got pregnant?" she fumbles. 

My fight-or-flight eases up a bit as I recall the time - three or so months ago - when I made the decision to quit. Amid a gaggle of reasons, I just had this feeling that there was no other (better) choice. So, without much reluctance, I bid one of my favorite jobs "adieu" and as of today, have embarked on a journey to figure out how I'll be, think and feel as a new mom, and how working will fit into family life.

So what were the reasons? Why leave a 10-year career of winning awards and ladder-climbing in the media, when that call from L.A. could be just around the corner?

  1. I don't want to be forced back to work.
    “There's nothing worse than being forced back to work on day 90, kicking and screaming,” says one of my husband's friends, who recounts his wife's traumatic experience of being thrown back into the sizzling pan of the workplace – its demands bringing her to a boiling point days later when she quit. Not only did she, like many women, say it's devastating to leave their babies, but just going from zero to 60 – and by that I mean the full performance most employers expect from new moms – is just rough. In my case, the radio station told me that after maternity leave (which I shouldn't take too much of, because “people forget about you after three months,” as one consultant informed me), I needed to return on a full-time basis. I personally know SO many strong women who can handle full-time, full-steam-ahead work – using what little power they have left after all the sleep deprivation and breast-pumping in the supply closet. But just knowing how hard pregnancy has been on me, I feel like I would need some flexibility upon return; some definite compassion. Not to mention, in a country that has literally the worst maternity leave in the world, don't you think some empathy, some flexibility, is the very least an employer could offer upon your return? So, leaving work was  the only way I figured I can return on my terms; when I'm ready to give 100 percent.
  2. I'm in a good place.
    Who knows where my career will go after motherhood?
    I feel good about the place my husband and I are at in our lives. Our relationship is rock solid, we have our priorities literally on paper (we'll talk budgeting in an upcoming blog), and he is incredibly supportive of me taking time to do what every mammal does after birth...focus solely on baby. (We already had the “will you resent me if I'm not working” conversation – which, by the way, ended in a resounding, “no” as he, like most men, are just grateful you're carrying on their lineage.) And you've gotta trust your gut; I just FEEL taking my time to come back is the right decision. When I was just a few months pregnant, I felt inspired to get certified as a yoga instructor; a process that involves exploring yourself from the inside out, which allowed me to figure out the difference between true happiness, and ego-driven desires. And though a career in the media definitely makes me happy, I do not need it in the next few months to serve as fuel for my ego. I know that if I'm meant to succeed in the field – especially in a town that knows I've earned my stripes – I will find something again when the time is right.
  3. A baby marks not only the transition into motherhood, but into the rest of your life.
    Who knows what doors will open for me, or how my passions will change after becoming a mom? I have already started a business, and have been teaching yoga pretty regularly from my magical at-home studio. I love it! I love working from home and also, having the freedom to move at my own pace for once in my life. I'm also excited about the possibilities in a media career after I've had some precious time to myself and with my family. I'll be a new person with new priorities and a renewed ambition. 

Especially today, where I'm making my husband pancakes and cleaning the house like a mad woman, I've noticed that I'm one of those people (Virgo? Tiger?) whose worth is largely defined by what I'm doing. And as stark as the transition may be from doing career work to doing what's best for my family, I am grateful for this time to finally define my worth based on who I am. And that, I now realize, is not nothing, after all.