Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Orgasmic Birth

I realized that the Orgasmic Birth movement isn't about women literally having orgasms during birth (though appparently some do). It is part of the movement to dispell fear and myths about the horrors of childbirth.  However, most people don't know this.  They hear orgasmic birth and think one thing: another expectation about birth that isn't going to deliver.
And kudos to have your suspicions!  I can't imagine a worse thing than to be sure birth is orgasmic and then not have an orgasmic birth.  Labor is hard enough without putting such a high expectation on it.  To me, the point is that birth can be sensual, that it is easier if you allow it to be what it is, and even if you are not one of the fraction of a percent of women who had an orgasm during birth that once you hold your baby you feel just as amazing as the most incredible orgasm of your life, something that is missed out by most women who have a medical birth.
Just say 'maybe' to orgasmic birth, then forget about it.  If it happens, it happens.  There are more important things, and your birth will be amazing with or without it.

Stay At Home vs. Working Moms

Secretly, or not so secretly, I do believe a natural unmedicated birth is best for Mom and Baby almost all the time (a huge reason why I did it, I mean, I am not a martyr for pain!).  But I try to be diplomatic about it.  I know birth is scary and our culture makes it difficult to even consider the natural birth route.  Epidurals are presented as safe and usually they are. I prefer being open minded toward the choices of others because I know that everyone is trying to make the best choices for them and their baby.
But when it comes to SAHM (stay at home Moms) vs. WM (working Moms), I don't have to try to be diplomatic about anything.  For one, in general I don't think kids in one situation or the other are at a particular disadvantage.  It's like divorce, the divorce itself isn't what messes kids up, it is the changing schools and houses, the bad mouthing, and often loss of income that follows it.  A stay at home Mom might not breastfeed for long while a working Mom pumps so her child never needs formula for a year.  A stay at home Mom may not really engage with her child much while a working Mom makes the most of every minute she has with her child. 
Some Moms have to work.  Some Moms don't, and they still work.  Maybe they just like having the extra money.  Maybe they like having a bigger house more than they would want to stay at home.  That's OK. I am lucky, I have a choice, and I like our little house, but to be honest, we are better off with me at home.  I only made $10 an hour at the elementary school I worked at, and with taxes I would not make enough money to justify the time away.  I could try for another lab job, or entry-level social work, but I would be miserable.  Nursing is waaaay easier with me not having to get up early in the morning and pump all day, and nursing was really important to me to the point where I am glad work was not an issue.  We are fortunate enough that our expenses are manageable on one income and Gabe has a job.  But what if I wanted to work?  Who is to judge what I need to be a good mother and a happy person?
If I didn't have other SAHM friends and Mom friends who work at night or on the weekends, I would go crazy at home, to where it would be worth losing money for me to have something to do outside the house.  If I have one day to myself I feel a little lonely, even with Jane.  I mean, she's great, but not the same as grown-up social interactions.
Among my friends, I do not see much of this issue in the whole Mommy wars thing, but I do within some online groups I follow.  I am happy that my friends all accept, at least on the surface, the personal choices everyone else has to make for themselves, if they are lucky enough to even have that choice.  Sometimes I wish I had the kind of job that made the kind of money I could justify, but it's OK this way.  I like it.  I like this time with Jane and I have friends to keep me sane through it all, and Gabe who takes her when he is home so I can take a bath or read or whatever.  Speaking of Gabe, I should use Jane's nap and work on dinner.  She'll be up soon!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

5 Things I Learned From My First Birth

Mama Birth, one of my favorite birth bloggers, posted "5 Things I learned from my first birth."

It has inspired me to make my own version, inspired by hers.  Some things I did right and were of the utmost importance, a couple I will do next time, but maybe someone out there will learn from my mistakes (ahem, DOULA!).

1. I am lucky!

I used to think being a woman sucked.  OK, so I still hate how I am always thinking about things like whether someone is going to sneak up behind me in a dark parking lot or is it dangerous to leave my bedroom window open at night, which most men generally don't have to think about at all.  Not to mention all that woman trouble month after month...but it is totally worth it.
None of this "childbirth is punishment for Eve's sins" for me.  Yeah, contractions don't feel good and once your water breaks and you get pushing it is the hardest work a person will ever do in their life.  I would go so far as to say that it DOES hurt.  But the reward is incredible.  The hormones, even after finally having a c-section, from all that natural labor, made me feel the most intense and transcendent bond with my baby I have ever felt.  I love my husband, but that love took time, trust, and experiences to grow. Imagine all of that and more in one unmeasurable moment in time.  I would have had a thousand labors to have that one moment with my daughter.  Not to mention that now that she is a little older, the gratification of observing how you are the most hilarious person in your child's entire life. I am SO GLAD to be a woman.

2.  Expectations about your birth matter.

I know women who say they had a great birth who spent hours attached to machines, watching afternoon television, getting frequent cervical checks from doctors and residents who need the practice, waiting to be told when and how to push.  They sort of feel the same way.  "Yeah, it sucks, but it is totally worth it."  How could we have such different experiences and still love our births?  It is the expectation.  If you go into it expecting it to be worse than it is or about the same, you will be OK with your birth, but if it is worse, you could be traumatized.  I planned a home birth and ended with a c-section, but I knew the odds were in my favor and that I did everything in my power to have the birth I wanted, the rest was up to God, fate, or whatever.

3. The people at your birth matter.

Surrounding yourself with loving support and some professionalism will make a huge difference. Ultimately if you are planning a natural birth like I was it is up to you to do it, nobody can do it for you (and if you choose that route you don't want anyone else to do it for you).  But having people who believe in you and the process around you make a huge difference.  Negativity, insensitivity, even plain old condescending comments have been the stuff of many a birth story I have heard, which is tragic in my opinion.  Birth and babies happen every day, but each one is a miracle, each birth is sacred whether you believe in "God" or not, and a woman who is giving life ought to be treated with the utmost respect.

4. Hire a doula.

I had two homebirth midwives, my husband, and a photographer.  I thought that sounded like too many, but for most of my labor I was pretty unaware of who was around.  I really only remember a connection with my husband, and after 24 hours of labor he was spent.  We should have hired a doula.  I knew that before, but somehow thought it wouldn't make a big difference.  Ultimately a doula would not have changed my breech birth and I probably still would have opted for a c-section at the end.  But Gabe and I needed a doula, in ways I could not have anticipated. So whether you go super-technical or granola on your birth plan, HIRE A DOULA (that being said I am so glad Ginger was our photographer, once we got to the hospital and she muscled her way into the surgery she reminded us of the things we did, or rather didn't, want done after our baby was born when we were both too stunned and tired to think, that is the sort of thing a doula does).

5. Hire a midwife.

I firmly believe the things I believe when it comes to birth, and I am proud to say that most of it is based on the best science and research available.   I am sad to say that OB's, hospitals, and insurance companies do not.  They have other factors that naturally come into play.  For instance, a long labor (over 12 hours in the hospital)  is not bad for you or your baby.  But many doctor will tell you when it has been "too long" they are worried the baby will go into distress.  Fiddlesticks.  Hospitals are businesses, and OB's have a LOT of patients so they can afford the highest liability insurance of any doctor.  Hospitals need those beds for the other women trickling in to have their babies, and OB's have a busy daytime schedule of pregnant patients, they (understandably) don't want to wait around all night for your baby to start coming out.  Besides, do you want an OB who has had no sleep for three days performing surgery on you?  Give these people a break.  Or better yet, hire a midwife.  You can have a midwife in the hospital.  You can have a midwife and get an epidural.  You can have a home birth midwife depending on what state you are in, and depending on your health history.  A midwife, in general, is highly skilled and trained in birth, not in surgery.  They can safely handle many "problems" at home or in the hospital.  Most complications are actually handled better by a good midwife, avoiding surgery.  Studies have shown that mortality rates while similar for midwives and OB's among healthy women, complication rates were lower for midwife attended birth, and at the lowest among home birth midwives, probably due to the lack of unnecessary medical interventions).  And a midwife should be with you for your entire labor, if they are a good one (beware of "medwives" and don't assume someone who says they are a midwife is going to be awesome, always ask questions).

Friday, May 11, 2012

You are STILL nursing?

Boy, I hope someday somebody says to me, "you are STILL nursing?"  In large part because I had to stop nursing my baby after only 2 months.  If someone says that to me, it will mean I have successfully re lactated.
A back injury, a bad reaction to the medications, and undiagnosed ulcers lead to throwing up, digestive problems, and major weight loss.  Through it all my body WANTED to feed my little girl.  I believe I would have withered away to nothing before my body decided to stop producing food for my baby.  But I had to survive, and not only stopped nursing but had to stop pumping too.
I am currently in the process of re-lactating (lots of pumping, esp since Jane does not seem to remember how to nurse at the moment).  And then the TIME article came out:
These are the reasons why I chose to breastfeed to begin with, even though it was HARD at first.

1. Breast milk is superior to anything formula makers have come out with, we don't even fully understand everything that breast milk does for our babies.
2. I did not want to immunize my baby right away, and breastfeeding is a natural way to protect her from disease until she gets her shots.
3. Breastfeeding also helps her recover from colds and other common illnesses.
3. It saves money (lots, we spend over $100 a month on formula right now).
4. It is convenient, more convenient than formula (unless you are a Mom who works outside the home) once you get the hang of it.
5. No bottles to clean.
6. Bonding with my baby.
7. Comforting my baby.
8. It's natural, and I believe the natural way is almost always the best way.

I didn't know how long I would breastfeed.  I knew it would depend in part on Jane and how long SHE wanted to nurse.  But I secretly hoped I would be one of those Moms who is nursing a toddler.  I secretly hoped to nurse long enough to really upset some people.  My friend Meghan got a good reaction when she revealed she was nursing a baby over the age of one.  Like it is some magical number when every single baby doesn't need to nurse anymore. 

"Sayings" I have heard regarding when to stop breastfeeding:

1. By the age of 1 (where is the science behind this?).
2. By the time your child is old enough to ask for it (but babies ask for it simply by crying, or drooling, or nuzzling, newborn babies "ask" for the breast).
3. By the time your child is old enough to remember (I can nurse until my baby is about 4 based on this rule, but still, what is wrong with remembering?).

If you look at the science, there is no reason to stop nursing for any reason but Mom and Baby want to...and you should nurse until your baby is at least 2 if possible. 
So where do these rules come from?   I don't know for sure as I have only lived in this country and brought up in this culture, but I do know that we see breasts as taboo private parts before we see them for their true and far more important function: feeding and comforting our babies.  What a sad reason to impose arbitrary reasons to stop breastfeeding by a certain age.  Women should breastfeed as long as they want without regards to other people's opinion on it.  Breast milk is good for the baby, and the toddler.
Now that I am not breastfeeding, but hoping to start up again, I can add something to this list of reasons to breastfeed..or rather, expand it.  Bonding while nursing goes both ways.  Once I stopped nursing, and my old hormones returned, something was lost, some feeling I had every time I looked at my baby.  I still get it now, just not as often.  And I still love her as much as I did when she was first born.  But something is different.  Maybe it is normal by this age to feel a little apart from your baby, but I really feel like it is the loss of that nursing relationship.  A friend's baby recently weaned himself.  She was not quite ready and she misses it too.  There is something there, and until you know how it feels, you can't possibly tell a mother when the right time is to "wean."  It's complicated.  And personal.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Jane's Birth...and Mine!

The evening of Nov 9th, Gabe finally started to get that "this may be one of the last days without a baby" feeling, almost a week after my due date.  I on the other hand who had been hoping she would come a little early had been suggesting we plan a special evening for the last month.
We went for a long walk, and I started to feel pretty good.  Actually, in spite of an overall opinion that pregnancy, for me anyway, is not the most awesome thing in the world, I was enjoying the last days as much as I could.  That very morning I was laying in bed with my hand on my now rather too large for even maternity clothes belly thinking about my baby, telling him/her that I would enjoy it while it lasted while he/she kicked back at me, as if to say the same thing.  I tried to ignore the pain in my hips, the heartburn that seemed never to go away, my itching belly in spite of the many layers of belly butter and ingested flax oil pills.
It was dark and cool, and as we walked I felt energized.  When we got home I thought "wouldn't it be cool if I went into labor now, just when I feel content enough to just be pregnant a little longer?"  We were watching something on TV, and I got on the floor to practice some birth positions during my usual evening braxton-hicks contractions.  But they started to get stronger, and happened more often than usual.  I noticed it was about 8:30 pm.
We went to bed, and I asked Gabe to time the contractions.  I thought they were maybe 20 seconds long, but he was timing them at 50 seconds every 3 or 4 minutes. They were still light enough that I could just relax and breath normally through them, and I knew I needed rest.  So Gabe started to read a book to me and I tried to ignore the contractions and fall asleep.
It got to the point where I wasn't even paying attention to Gabe's book.  We called our midwife Melissa who said she would get her car ready but that it may not be the real thing yet.  I got into the tub with a glass of wine, but instead of slowing things down like it "should" labor sped up. I went back to Gabe but now I was moaning a little through them and keeping him awake.  I didn't have a choice about sleep at this point but he did, and I told him I would labor in the other room and for him to try and get some sleep.
I was alone in the dark trying to just zone out, I don't know for how long, before I got really anxious and asked Gabe to help me.  He called Melissa again who said she would be on her way (I think she arrived at about  3 or 4:00 am on the 10th), mostly so Gabe could keep sleeping and Melissa could be my support.
Everything gets really blurry here.  I remember feeling my baby moving around a little and I felt the fluttering of hiccups low in my pelvis.  Melissa checked her heart tones and was always catching them on my lower belly right where they should be.  Even through the contractions her heart rate was good.  Eventually the birth tub was full and I spent a lot of time in there. It didn't make the contractions easier but it was a nice place to rest.  I had long ceased to be comfortable in pretty much any position so I wasn't about to find one while in labor, so the water was just the best place to rest in between.
It became light, and Ginger our photographer showed up and eventually the midwife assistant Heidi.  I remember asking where Heidi was but not able to explain why out loud.  I felt like when Melissa decided it was time to have her there then we were in serious labor.  I found out after that some people thought we'd have a baby by noon.
I was eating and drinking as much as I could but in reality I didn't care at all what was happening.  I was in laborland!  Gabe had the hardest job.  Once everyone was assembled they could all come and go as they pleased as long as I knew Gabe was near.  Once I opened my eyes and he was gone, and someone said he had just gone to the bathroom.  "But he is coming back, right?"  I would not permit him to leave me alone for long!
By 2:00 pm there was a lot of low back and hip pain but no baby yet.  At some point my labor slowed and I curled up on the couch next to Gabe and got my first sleep since 2 nights before.  Melissa became concerned that if things didn't move along I'd be in labor all night and get too tired, so we started the breast pump and black and blue cohosh.  That is when things really started to get real.
They wanted me to sit on this metal "birth stool" which I really hated.  I know I was less than cooperative and they had their reasons that had me and my baby's best interests at heart, but I really hated the whole ordeal.  The herbs were disgusting, my contractions so intense, the birth bar painful on my legs, and in between I sat with this machine on my chest.
It paid off in that I started to really lose my mucous blog, but I was quickly exhausted.  They checked me and I was completely dilated.  I was so excited I decided I would do whatever they asked.  Well, the next thing was the worst!  I had to get into that labor position one hates most...on your back, knees back toward your head.  And I can see why!  It was so uncomfortable...I wouldn't say painful, just, awful.  The only "pain" as I remember it was that awful back and hip pain that had become progressively worse.  But then as they urged me to "relax" and "push" I got it in my head to REALLY try to do what they were water broke.  It made a loud pop, and was warm on my body.  I was ecstatic...I finally allowed myself to think, "my baby is coming!"
But Melissa was trying to get my attention.  "I have to tell you this...your baby is breech." I just kind of lost it. The baby must have flipped around?  I guess I pushed for another few hours but I was never able to win the fight in my head.  Breech?  I was scared.  I knew it was "safe," but I had never seriously thought about what I personally wanted if this had happened, and it did.
I remember wanting to go to the hospital, a place I had thought nothing about the entire span of my now almost 24 hours of labor.  But everyone kept saying it was OK, that I could do it.  They could not see into my head, where I was so upset that the baby wasn't head down. Heidi tried to be encouraging but it wasn't terribly helpful to be told that my fear was getting in the way, or that labor was a test.  I had gone from positive that I was going to have this baby when my water broke to completely lost at finding out it wasn't a head in there.
I do not regret having tried at home.  One of the coolest things that happened at home is I did get to feel my baby.  I didn't believe Melissa when she told me the baby was just inside my birth canal so she told me to check.  There that little bottom was!  It was pretty cool.  I would not have been "allowed" to do that in pretty much any typical hospital labor situation.  I won't forget that I got to be one of the very first people to touch my baby.
I pushed for a long time with no movements down from my baby.  Though we were both doing just fine, I was tired physically and emotionally.  I got out of the tub and put on my bathrobe, not bothering to dry off, and walked out of the room.  Nobody was sure what I was doing, but Ginger said she thought I was going to the hospital.
I was now on my hands and knees on the floor of the dining room demanding that everyone take me to the hospital.  Had they not taken me seriously I would have walked.  It was only about three blocks away.  The car was warmed, Gabe packed a few things ("we don't need things, we just need me!" I cried out, thinking he was the reason we had not left yet).  They checked me and my baby's vitals and we were on our way.
I knew I was likely c-section bound, but I didn't care.  I tried everything.  On one hand, I could have tried harder and longer, since me and my baby were doing OK.  On the other, I had given it a really good go, and the fact we were still doing great also begged the argument why keep at this until something does start to go wrong then have to do an "emergency" transfer?  The thing is, maybe I could have done it.  Maybe I needed more time, maybe I needed to try a few more suggestions from the midwives.  But maybe something would have gone wrong, or maybe I would have just ended up in the same place only a few hours later.  I'll never know, and that's OK.

Next time, a very happy ending and a pretty gosh darn good c-section birth...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Mother's Love

Today I'd like to say a few things about the birth of my daughter, Jane.
Have you ever seen that movie "Waitress?"  Dear Baby...I feel connected to you and yet sometimes I worry I won't fall in love with you right away.  I mostly enjoy the idea of becoming your mother.  I know you are a strong wonderful innocent and amazing person growing in me.  But I have done a lot of babysitting and child care, and no matter how much I love these children (and I have loved them very much) I am always glad to get home again, on my own.
In the movie Waitress, I always had a hard time believing that for all that she was disappointed in being pregnant, seeing as she was in a dead end job and married to an abusive self absorbed jerk, that at the end the moment she held that baby in her arms she finally got the courage to tell her husband to get lost.  Literally, she looked in that baby's eyes, the baby she didn't really want, that stressed her out from beginning to end, and fell in love and the first words out of her mouth were to tell her husband never to come near her or her baby again.  It was the beginning of motherhood.
Now, I have a wonderful husband, and I wanted very badly to get pregnant, and I wondered how it would be to love this baby like that.  I honestly thought that the scene at the end was rather unrealistic.  That is until it happened to me.
Again I did not have the problems she had.  But seeing Jane for the first time...Dr. Voss showing her to us in all her bloody glory, her purple face, I fell instantly in love.  Instant.  It didn't grow, it couldn't grow, it filled my whole heart and soul.  And I could see how even if your life was pretty hard that you could still have the same experience.
Dr. Voss showing Jane to my husband and I (hidden behind the blue curtain) for the first time.

I know not everyone experiences that.  I don't think it makes women bad mothers not to.  It just happens right away, or it takes time, or a little of both.  Some women sadly never feel that way. I just know that it is real, it does happen.  Some will tell you it was all the unmedicated labor that allowed the natural flow of hormones right up until they (or rather, I) ordered the c-section.  Some will say it helped as well that our surgeon was sensitive enough to show her to us instead of whisking her away immediately to the nursery.  I know plenty of women who waited, not minutes, but hours to see their babies, let alone hold them and smell them.  Some of these women still feel that immediate love and attachment anyway, others take more time.  I can see how time might affect the way you feel when you do eventually get to see your baby.  But even if you did go all natural, and had a vaginal birth, you still may not feel it for all I know.  I was lucky, it did happen to me, and it was the most wonderful feeling.   It completely floored me.  It was like nothing else I have ever known or felt in my life.  My love of Gabe comes closest.  Even though with him it was not "love at first sight" like Jane it is a love that has grown so strong over time, that grew stronger than I could ever know through the love of the baby we made together.
The second time I saw Jane, while they stitched me up.
And through all this crap with my back, which I am certain if nothing else would not be happening had I not had a baby, it is still worth bringing that wonderful little person into the world.  It breaks my heart into a million pieces all the time I can't be with her and care for her because of the pain, but I would never trade her to have my own health back.  I know this won't kill me, but it has made me realize that through her I feel immortal, something I had heard about, and I was also skeptical of.  But I get it now.  I'd like to live long enough to see her grow into a mature enough person that I can be assured she is well cared for and capable of caring for herself, but in what I hope is the long run, death is not as scary as it once was.
I know the secrets of the Universe....
I love being a Mom.  I know it will be hard, has already been very hard, and it is also the most terrifying thing I've experienced...she is literally my heart and soul walking around outside of myself, and I have never loved or worried as much in my life (Gabe a close second).  But I have also never felt so much joy.  Seeing her face I remember all over again what it was like to fall in love at first sight.  I can't wait to be surprised more in the future.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


So now we go deeper.  Today I met Troy Roper III, who does this "crazy" thing called AtlasPROfilax.  Look it up if you want to know more, or await a future post in which I will explain.  For now, it is enough to know I have seen him for my back pain and spasms and part of my assignment is to journal...about my pain, and about any significant losses over the last couple of years I may not have worked though.
I lost Chester when I was about 4 months pregnant.  Chester my cat, who had been with me though thick and thin, literally.  When I first got him, I wasn't sure what to make of him.  I love animals.  He came highly recommended by a friend who boasted of his giant size his long black fur his friendly trusting manner...his name was aptly given, Titan, and when I met him my impression was, OK, a giant black cat.  But I had a lot of peer pressure to take him, as he had been a stray and had lived in several temporary homes.  The guy needed some stability, and so I said OK.
I took him home, along with food and bowls and catnip mice.  He checked out his litter box, ate a little food, then went on my bed to sleep.  No hiding under the bed for this bold feline.  But I felt detached from him.  He was, like the cats I grew up with, pretty independent and not terribly interested in me, in cuddling, which I admit I wanted to do so bad...such a huge fluffy soft cat, who wouldn't?
But within a few weeks, he started greeting me at the door.  He and I would have "conversations," him staring up at me and meowing at one another.  Oh, the cat hair was awful, but hde made up for it in charm.  It took some time but it wasn't long and we were cuddling on the couch to watch movies and he insisted on sleeping on the bed with me at night.
He went through some tough times with me.  I had a boyfriend at the time who was pretty neglectful and manipulative.  We would have some awful arguments which consisted of me trying to communicate my feelings and him shutting down and walking away, not even answering or returning my call for days, the price I paid for even the slightest criticism.  It was very tormenting to me.  One particular occasion he just left in spite of my pleas to stay and talk to me about it, and I was reduced to sobs on my couch.  Chester stood by me and looked at me so intently, I picked him up and laid him on his back on my lap so I could just cry into his belly.  He let me cry like that until I was done. 
There were good times too.  Moving to a new apartment, he showed the same confidence he displayed the first day I took him home.  It started to seem like to each other home was where the other one was.  Until I met Gabe he shared me with nobody, and Gabe though he was so cool I could take Chester with me to his place since we spent most of our time there anyway.  Once I couldn't find him.  I was so scared!  But he was just stuck behind the washer and dryer, quietly waiting for someone to rescue him.
Eventually all the moving took it's toll.  He went cross country in the car with my Dad and I and lived with my parents while Gabe and I lived in an apartment in DC which didn't allow cats. It was a hard time for me.  I missed my Utah friends, my Starbucks job sucked, and winter in DC is just awful.  Naturally I missed Chester, my constant companion, my comfort.
We took him back when we bought a house in Pennsylvania, and he loved the staircase, and the sunroom where he could watch birds.  I hated Penn, though, and we moved back to SLC.  I know Chester missed his sunroom.  At the condo we had huge windows and pidgeons, but there was not a lot of fresh air and sunlight he enjoyed before.
We got our new house a couple years ago, and he could actually go outside.  Unable to scale the fence, he still had plenty of bushes and trees to sit under and grass and dirt to roll in.  He perked right up again.  But time was running out for my little guy.
Gabe and I had been trying to get pregnant for awhile, and we finally did.  I remember thinking how much I loved Chester, and how just being pregnant wasn't enough for me to feel a bond for my baby.  I wondered if I would get as tired of being a Mom as I tired of babysitting.  I've babysat some amazing kids but I was still relieved when I could go home again.  I would not have the same advantages with my own baby.  I had to trust I would love my baby enough, that I would become a good Mom.  Meantime, I was very nausous my first trimester, and sadly had to kick Chester out of our room as sleep was precious and he had a habit of sometimes meowing at night.
May, and Chester started to slow down, then, one Sunday, he spent all day under a bush outdoors.  I knew something was wrong, maybe a tummy bug.  The next day I had work as a substitute teacher, but Gabe stopped home to check on Chester and though he was awake he was not moving on his own.  Gabe and our roomate took him to the vet, and I met them there after work.
Chester was diagnosed with diabetes.  He was still very sick and getting insulin, but we had every reason to think he would get better.  It is sad now to remember how I worried about the much would it be to keep him alive?  But Gabe said it didn't matter.
On the other hand, I couldn't stop crying, feeling like this was all my fault.  He had lost a lot of weight quickly and I put off taking him to the vet.  I had no idea how much I would come t regret that.
A night at the vet and he was no better.  His organs were shutting down.  The vet didn't know what to tell us at all.  So we kept going.  He was in a metal cage, barely noticing what was happening around him, IV's in his furry legs.  I petted him and he lifted his head to me.  I knew it was bad.  I knew we'd waited too long, but I hoped he would come back so we kept him there.  I talked to him.  I told him I needed him to get better if he could, that I loved him, that he was everything to me.  But I also said if it was his time I didn't want him to hold on and suffer for my sake, that he had given me so much and that I would always love him and be grateful that we had been put together.  I said I was sorry for being angry at him for breaking a dish that had some tempting tuna left on it, or any other time I was angry with him for anything (he did drive me crazy sometimes).  That when he get better he could play in our yard and watch the birds, but if he didn't we would miss him and love him was awful, I cried so much.
Gabe and I had tickets to see U2. I had been talking up how amazing their shows are.  Gabe likes U2 but he is not the fan I am.  I promised him he would be impressed.  It was an incredible show, and I am glad we went.  But every song cut through my heart as I thought about Chester alone at night at the vet, waiting for life, or death.
The next morning we had a call at 7 am.  Chester had passed in the night.  Gabe held me and I cried, I don't know for how long.  Eventually I ran out of energy and Gabe took a shower, where he cried.  It was a terrible morning, it was the worst thing that had ever happened to me.  I questioned whether I was a good owner to Chester, and was afraid to ask Gabe what he thought.  I knew I wasn't perfect, who is?  But Chester, an animal, innocent, dependent, deserved better than my neglect of his health, of being kicked out of the bedroom for reasons he couldn't understand.  Or worse, maybe he did, maybe he thought the baby was taking his place.  I was haunted by every time I was not good to him.
I must have cried daily for weeks.  A few people felt the need to remind me I was pregnant and needed to take care of myself for the baby.  kind of annoying really.  Pregnancy just happens no matter what you do in a way.  Then again, at the time, the baby was so abstract.  If a cat could live forever, I would have traded him and not had any children.  Hard to admit that, not something I would want Jane to know now, but that is how it felt then.

I asked Gabe if he thought Chester could have reincarnated and is my baby now.  Sweet Gabe, I doubt he even believes in reincarnation but he said "yeah, sure!"  It may have helped me move on a bit, to not cry every day, to look forward to the new baby again.  But I was always sad he would not be there for the birth.  When I imagined my home birth he was always there.  Curious about the tub of water, but wary enough not to fall in. Close to me when he sensed the hard parts.  Sleeping and eating and purring but always aware of one another like we always were.  But he wasn't there.
I love Jane, it was instant.  My love for Chester grew, but was just as intense in many ways.  Chester taught me how fleeting our relationships can be, how to love and respect those who depend on us, how to allow one another to just be themselves.  I always felt like Chester and I molded to each other, we changed each other and we adjusted ourselves to fit together better.  That is how it has felt with Jane, too.  I don't force anything on her, I listen to her, but I am not a martyr either.  I think a lot of my relationships are like that.  You can't change people.  That is hard to accept at first.  When you want control and someone tells you you can only control yourself, it can really piss you off.  But when you accept it, it is really freedom.  The easiest person to control is your own self, and to know you can't control others takes you off the hook to be responsible for what other people do to you or themselves or others.  The next step is to observe, but I am a doer, so I prefer to experience.  I try things, if they work I go with it, if it doesn't I try something else, but in any case it's all about trying to get along in the world with different people and not sweating it if everyone doesn't just adore you. You can have an effect on others, but you also allow them to affect you.  It feels good.  It feels harmonious.  That is how I felt about Chester.  Overall, we lived in harmony.  I carry that into my friendships and my relationship with Gabe and now with Jane.  I am not out to control something as complex as a new human person, who has never experienced anything but a warm womb, never feeling hungry or gassy or lonely, or helpless against gravity, haha.
That's all I have to say today about my amazing cat, and how he lives on every day in the way that I approach my life.  I love you Chester, always and forever.