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Archive for the ‘Motherhood and Pregnancy’ Category

The Real Mommy

Standing on line at the grocery store today, I saw this:

I have no idea what the article inside says, but the headline, “Who’s the Real Mommy?” is enough.  I don’t read that particular magazine, so maybe their goal is to offend people buying groceries all across the nation.  If so, goal accomplished, National Enquirer.  Kudos.

In my twenties, I was an ovum donor for two couples who had exhausted all other possibilities to have children, short of adoption.  The road they traveled to get to that place – where they needed my donated eggs – was long and difficult, not to mention expensive.  And even with my help, there was no guarantee that the embryos, implanted via IVF, would result in successful pregnancies or, eventually, the births of babies they had spent years trying to conceive.

I saw that magazine and immediately thought of those two women, now mothers of children they carried inside their wombs and have nurtured and mothered and loved, for so many years, and it hurt me – deeply hurt me – to imagine them standing on line at their own grocery stores and being smacked in the face by such a horrid headline.

“Who’s the Real Mommy?”

To suggest that I am the “Real Mommy” of those children is beyond my comprehension.  I did the injections, grew the eggs, and went through extraction, but the moment they left my body they were no longer mine.  The children they came to be contain my DNA, my genetics, and may even look like me, but I am not their “Real Mommy”.  I never have been, and I never will be.

Their Real Mommy is the one who wanted them so badly that she went to the ends of the Earth to have them.  Their Real Mommy is the one that went through years of disappointment and was finally able to carry them, birth them, and love them in a way that only she could.  Their Real Mommy is the one who held them in the first moments of life, who looked at their little newborn faces and knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that they were hers – not mine.

Their Real Mommy is the one who cried tears of joy as she rocked them to sleep in those first few months, nursed them through countless illnesses and kissed their first skinned knees.  Their Real Mommy brings cupcakes to school on their birthdays and reads their favorites stories a thousand times.  Their Real Mommy knows how to make them laugh, dries their tears, tucks them into bed at night, and loves them to the moon and back, because they are hersnot mine

I can foolishly hope that neither of those women will go to the grocery store this week.  Unfortunately, though, even without the idiot media publishing hurtful headlines, I know those women – those mothers –  have dealt with plenty of ignorant people who have that kind of attitude.  I deal with them, too – the people who think I’m crazy for giving away “my” children.  But they’re not my children

And they are the greatest gifts I have ever given.

Enough

I was vacuuming under my couches the other day, marveling out how quickly cat hair and dust accumulate, and it got me thinking.

When did little accomplishments like conquering dust bunnies stop being enough?

I used to feel so fulfilled as a *cringe* housewife.  Yes, it’s true, that’s what I was.  A housewife.  And I was a happy housewife, at that.  Not that I ever would have let anyone call me that.

What was it that made me feel like I needed to be doing something more, something intellectual, in order to take pride in what I was doing with my life?  Why did I take so much offense when people commented that I was “just” a mom, and rush to list my many academic accomplishments?

I graduated magna cum laude , people.  I was a research assistant that took part in important studies that were published in fancy schmancy journals.  I am not just a mommy.  This is me flexing my brain at you, and you, and you over there, too, just in case you missed it.

And yet.  Those were the happiest years of my life, back before I somehow decided that it wasn’t enough.  That my life needed something more in order to be worthy of my pride.

But did it, really?  Shouldn’t enjoying the happiness in life, however it presents itself, be enough? 

How funny that it took a vacuum, and not a college degree, to teach me to embrace my own little version of happiness.

Strength

When disaster strikes, the way it has recently in Haiti, people wonder what they can do to help.

Watching footage of people being pulled from rubble from the comfort of our living rooms can make us feel powerless, especially in our current economy, when many people can’t donate much to relief funds.

But there is something most people can do, and it doesn’t cost a dime.

Give Blood

Give it now, in the midst of major catastrophe, and give it later, when time has brought about complacency.  Give it for the heroes, for the needy, for the woman behind you on line at Starbucks.

I am that woman.



This is my family in crisis.  My family that would be incomplete, were it not for blood donors.

Here you see a phenomenally strong and able-bodied man, gently cradling his newborn daughter and holding his wife’s hand as medical professionals try to force her uterus to stop bleeding.  He is the epitome of strength, and yet he is powerless to save the woman he loves.

My husband, one of the strongest people I have ever known, held my hand.  He helped me through the pain, he kept me from fading away.

But it was blood donors (with the help of a fabulous midwife and countless doctors, nurses, and EMTs) who saved my life.  I hemorrhaged severely three times after giving birth to Blythe.  During the second and third hemorrhages, which occurred in less than 24 hours, I lost seven pints of blood. 

My body only holds approximately eight pints of blood. 

I am alive today because eight random strangers took the time to give their blood and plasma.

Giving blood saves lives.  It saves lives in times of worldwide tragedy, and it saves lives every single day, for people whose stories will never make it onto the 5 o’clock news.

So, give.  Give now and give often.  Go to www.redcrossblood.org, or www.BloodSource.org to find out where, how, and, if I haven’t yet convinced you, why

You never know when you will be the one in need.

*you can’t see it very well in this photo, but jeremy just so happens to be wearing his “Don’t Be Chicken: Give Blood!” t-shirt (from bloodsource) in this photo.  coincidence?  i don’t think so.*

Wake Up One Day…

One day, you’re dreaming the dream.

You’re in college, with your entire future ahead of you.  You and your best friend talk about one day living in a scarcely decorated studio apartment in The City, working for some big corporation and eating sushi and escargot.  The world is your oyster, and damn it tastes good.

Before you know it, you’re living the dream.

Married, driving an SUV, 2.5 kids (the .5 being your niece, whose mom is in prison for who the hell knows how long), dogs, cats, mortgage payments.  You know the drill.

Meanwhile, your best friend has moved to New York City, doing all the things you stayed up all night talking about.  You’re so damn happy for her, but a little part of you, the part with all the rebellious piercings, feels left behind. 

Life is so vanilla bean good and sweet and everything you never knew you wanted.

And then, another day comes along and you’re filling out forms for your kid’s school and suddenly you catch yourself thinking that joining the PTO might be fun, and you realize that maybe you need a tattoo.

Or possibly, maybe, your husband could teach you to drive his motorcycle.

Something, anything, to make you feel like the girl who someday planned to take a big city by storm.

And then, your baby girl climbs into your lap and snuggles into your chest.  She tells you, in her cute little toddler voice, that she loves you.  Her hair smells like fruit fresh from the vine.  Her chubby fingers caress your neck and as you kiss her cheek, you realize: there is no comparison to this life.

It may not be what you dreamed of.  You may not be taking anything but piles of laundry by storm.

But oh, what a life it is.

And anyway, your best friend would always welcome a visit.

The Business of Being Born

Did you know I’m an ICEA certified Childbirth Educator?  Well, I am.

I don’t get a chance to teach very often these days, but when I do, I specialize in natural childbirth.

Make no mistake: I don’t believe that all births should be au-natural.  Every birth is different; every woman is different, and I respect that.

I’m a big proponent of women having the birth they want.  I’m all about empowerment, and knowledge, and informed decisions.

You have scheduled C-Sections?  Fine by me.  You want an epidural the moment the elevator doors open?  More power to you.

I focus on natural childbirth education because it’s my niche, and there aren’t a lot of places women can go to learn about how to successfully give birth without intervention.

If you haven’t seen the amazing documentary, The Business of Being Born, directed by Abby Epstein and produced by Ricki Lake (both of their pregnancies/births are also covered in the film), you should. 

It’s about natural childbirth, certainly.  But the movie also sheds an amazing amount of light on the medical business that surrounds birth.

The makers of this amazing and profound documentary, who also created a book and website, both titled My Best Birth, are currently making a new film, and I have been asked to submit footage from both Alison’s and Blythe’s births. 

I am humbled, awed, and incredibly excited to be included in this wonderful venture. 

The births of my children were amazing and exactly what I hoped they would be, mainly because I chose to give birth at a Birth Center*, where I knew my quiet voice would be heard.

In childbirth, I found strength within myself that went beyond anything I’d ever experienced in my lifetime.  I love to share my birth videos with people, especially because they are pretty much *G* Rated – which means no cootchie shots!

I hope one of my births is chosen for the movie.  But even if not, I can’t wait to see what the film holds in store.

Childbirth is my passion!  What’s yours?

*Click on the link, and then click “Our Families” to see photos of us after both Alison’s and Blythe’s births!*