Friday, July 13, 2012


The newest addition arrived in fine style on Memorial Day. We named her Charlotte Bernadette for our friend, Charles Bernard Kitowski III, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2007. The circumstances surrounding her name are remarkable. A boy would have automatically been named Charles since all of our departed male relatives now have namesakes, but a girl presented a little bit of difficulty in terms of namesakes because women in our family simply don't die.

One name at the top of my girl list was Ann-Charlotte, but since Charlotte is the female derivative of Charles, we began thinking we might name a girl for him. I'd never considered Bernadette, but I thought it was pretty so that name combination quickly rose to the top. I'm kind of ashamed to say that I didn't think about her being born on Memorial Day. Her due date was June 5th and I was consumed with worry that she was going to be born on the birthdays of two relatives I dislike (missed both). There were a few other names I was considering including the original Ann-Charlotte, but when she was born on a beautiful Memorial Day morning, there was simply no other option. You don't ignore the signs.

And now for the gory details. Gentlemen, you have been forewarned.

My mom and stepdad made an impromptu trip to see us, only planning to stay for the day. Somehow I convinced them to spend the night and leave in the morning. 4:30 am, I woke up with those strange slightly burning contractions that everyone will tell you to go back to sleep for, but which Jethro and I know could very well Mean Something.

"Jethro. Something's Happening."

"Mpff Mpff. Ok. Let me know."

I went to the restroom to pee and felt somehow drippier than usual. It seemed to be a little blood and some clear fluid. CLEAR FLUID???!!!

"Jethro. Jethro. JETHRO!"

"Mhhh? Huhh? Huuh? What?"

"I think my water broke. I'm calling the midwife."

"Ok. I'll get the bags."

I called the midwife and told her everything. She asked about contractions and I said they weren't bad but that didn't actually mean anything the last two times I gave birth. She said she'd head right over.

I went to go wake up Gwennie and Emma. They scrambled around like newbie firefighters at their first big blaze.

I went to wake up my mom and stepdad. Turned out I only thought my water had broken. Woosh.

"Ok. Let's go. Nobody panic. BUT STOP WASTING TIME!!!! WHERE IS GWENDOLYN???!!!"

With Gwen finally on board we set off.

Jethro was the picture of calm. But he did turn on the hazard lights.


We got to the birthing center and it was quite dark. I'd been afraid we'd beat them there. But the student midwife arrived within minutes and we got settled.

The main midwife arrived and checked me and I was only 4 cm dilated which surprised me a little. I thought I would have been further along. But I was actually pleased because I hadn't missed my window of opportunity to have a water birth.

They said they'd start the tub when I was around 7 cm. I said fine, but to check back fairly often since I go quickly. I know they didn't quite believe me since I wasn't having terribly strong contractions, but they humored me. I surprised them by being at 7 cm about half an hour later.


While the midwives may not have considered them strong contractions, I did. As soon as I hit 7 cm, they got much harder. I can't even begin to describe how good the water felt. All that pressure that had been on my back was lifted. The light was dim, everyone moved slowly and softly. Jethro sat beside me, quietly holding my hand. Muscles relaxed, I almost fell asleep. The contractions stopped for a little while, but soon picked back up again. They were painful, but not unbearable. I breathed through them easily, giving the impression that I was good at this kind of thing and not the deranged hysteric I was about to become.


The contractions got harder and I asked to be checked again. I was at 9.5 cm and completely effaced. She was still a little high up and they said if I pushed a little I'd dilate the rest of the way.

I did.

Oh fuck.

I don't like pushing. And then I couldn't stop pushing. And then I couldn't get her head out.

It wasn't that long. Maybe half an hour. But during labor and delivery you are just not moving in regular time. The labor was about 5 hours long, but seemed to take minutes. The delivery was 30 minutes long but seemed to take hours.

I kept screaming that I couldn't get her head out. I prayed and thrashed and yelled and begged, probably just like a man if men could give birth. Finally the midwife told me to sit up and hyper extend my legs. I panicked some more because usually they don't tell you what to do. But I did what she said and the baby's head finally popped out. As soon as her head was out, I knew it was over. Nothing is as bad as a head. She was born right away after that and they gave her right to me.

I was still crying from trying to get her head out, but it turned right into crying because she was so sweet. Her eyes were open and she just cuddled softly right into my arms with her little face pressed softly against my neck. The water was still warm over both of us and we just sat and rested for a few minutes.


Maybe the third baby is different. I was overcome with love for her immediately. With my others I guess I was too panicked or maybe even too young for that feeling to overshadow me completely right at birth (it did eventually, accompanied by much weeping and feelings of inadequacy). But at a birthing center where everyone is concentrating on this moment and not worried about other things going on at a hospital, it was amazing. The pain was real and terrifying, but once it was over, there was nothing but a sweet little baby to be cuddled and loved by everyone.

I did need a couple of stitches which were taken care of fairly quickly. She came out face up, shoulders out, which, while not technically breech, is a position that is not optimal and the midwives said is the most painful. I said, "Good, because that's what I'm telling everyone anyway."

The student midwife was so cute. She told me how nice it was that I kept reaching down to feel the baby's head and how encouraging that must have been for me. I didn't have the heart to tell her that I'd been trying to rip her out with my bare hands. You just can't know some things unless you've been through them yourself.

But Baby Charley is a joy and a love. I have a million nicknames for her and her sweet sisters are besotted. Even Jethro, stoic that he is, is enamored. He asks to hold her and I'm reluctant to let her go, which I must say is new for us. I thought she would be the last, but she makes me want another. And I think that's high praise for any baby.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

When a human being takes up residence in your body, it's hard not to let them take up most of your mind too. So I'm not really going to try.

Jethro and I went to a crawfish boil in Houston last weekend. It was a lot of fun. I didn't get to eat much because most of my stomach is smushed up with baby, but it really was a great time.

While there, I was accosted by an girl who seemed quite interested in my pregnancy. I've met her before and she's kind of an odd, spastic, hippie type, not without charm, but whom I can tolerate for about 15 minutes before I go nuts. When I told her I was going to a birthing center and using midwives for the delivery she had a little bit of a nervous breakdown and started reciting all her holistic bonafides to me while she chain smoked.

I was bewildered for a few minutes, then I figured it out. She thought I was going to judge her. Now I knew nothing about her, but I found out during the course of the evening that she'd had a c-section with her one and only child, in a hospital, surrounded by glorious technology and drugs. It's taken me a few days because my reaction time, while never swift, is even less so lately. But I started feeling terribly sad. I hate what we've become. When did we get so insecure? I've never considered myself a strong-woman type - able to withstand all manner of criticism and judgment and hurl it back with aplomb. In fact, I distinctly remember being exactly the opposite - very unsure of myself and willing to listen to whatever idiotic advice anyone cared to give me. I don't even remember when that changed. I don't remember anything much at all. I just have the hazy impression that I haven't been criticized for years.

But then, as I am wont, I thought about it some more. I think I do get criticized. I just don't take it as criticism. For example, at the same crawfish boil, I was engaging in some slight self-deprecatory humor (or at least what I'd like to consider humor) recalling a Mardis Gras in New Orleans where I put my 20 year old bosoms to good and efficient use in the difficult work of sparkling bead collection. I'm not proud of this. It's kind of embarrassing now. But it does give you the ability to laugh at yourself and that's not always bad.

However, I was relaying the story to a friend of mine whom I've known for years and she made a comment along the lines of "I've never been the type of person who felt the need to flash my goodies for cheap beads."

I said, "Oh sure. I felt that way too until I had three Hurricanes and a frozen Tang and vodka they were calling a Spanish Fly and selling in yard long plastic glasses with yard long straws. But after that it was all "Oh look! Those beads have troll heads!" and "Oh look! the way the paint has chipped off those beads make them look retro!" Besides," I grinned. "I only did it once."

She laughed and the night meandered on. I suppose I could have felt criticized, but I didn't. No point. No point at all.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Immortal God-King

So the mildly hoped for son and heir is not to be. Unfortunately the news coincided with the death of our last male rabbit leaving Jethro once again, the sole representative of his gender in the family. This resulted in a night of heavy drinking culminating in a rather stunning display in his underwear at the top of the stairs during which he beat his chest, did a couple of interesting squats, and proclaimed himself the immortal god-king who, in his generosity and benevolence, would spare Mother Earth of any male descendants so as not to overwhelm her with the sheer potency and so end the human race in a fiery explosion of quivering lust. Whereupon he collapsed in a sweaty heap of sobs and scotch, a shard of my cosmetics mirror clouded with a faint dusting of mysterious white powder, and an empty bottle of Zyrtec. I'm not saying he did and I'm not saying he didn't, but the allergies are bad this year.

And the immortal god-king is not getting much in the way of carnal satisfaction either. Because, you see, I vomit every time I come. Except for once when I cried. Really cried. Big, hot, wet tears. He said he thinks he prefers it when I throw up. It's really very weird, because I can't not come. So now instead of witty repartee, or at least some well-timed Dumb and Dumber quotes, foreplay consists of me vigorously massaging the muscle that aches the most, which coincidentally runs right through my left labia, and his eyes glaze over at the memories of our odd but robust sex life, and he says hopefully, "Kick his ass, C-Bass?" And I say, "Shut up, your child is killing me, and if you come anywhere near me with that minty, meaty smell of yours I'm going to rip out your jugular with my teeth," to which he replies, "You only live once."