It is no secret to those who know me that marrying and having kids wasn’t exactly part of my life plan. I thought someday I might want to, but up to my 24th year of age – which is when I got pregnant with our first child – the feeling hadn’t come up. My husband, on the other hand, wanted to marry and have a bunch of kids from the time he was a teenager!
After a lot of inner work and, above all, after seeing our son’s face for the first time, I fell in love with motherhood. The issue then became: how many children would we actually have? What exactly would be the average between my hesitance and my husband’s “as-many-as-I-can-convince-her-to”?
The answer was part instinct, part serendipity. As a wedding gift, one of my husband’s college professors had a painting made especially for us. The painter did not know us, so (as the story goes) the professor described us as two young, nature-loving, alternative creatures. The piece that resulted – which now hangs right here behind me – portrays a solemn-looking, round-faced couple that is so close they could be Siamese twins. The left hand of each rests on the other’s heart. The girl wears a flower printed dress, has flowers in her hair and a single flower in her hand. The guy wears a suit of sorts. On the side of each of their shoulders is a green, succulent plant, and above each plant is an angel resting on what seems like a marble pillar, one blue, one yellow. Above the couple is a yellow, flying fish.
I was five months pregnant then and had just found out the baby was a boy. The name we chose means “he who tills the earth”. I don’t know who said it first, but we started joking that the blue angel was our boy, the yellow angel was our future second child (a daughter whose name would mean “lady of the waters” in an Indigenous language) and the flying fish would be our youngest (a little boy whose name – a reference to a famous Greek character – would mean “he who balances himself in the air”).
Coincidence or not, here we are almost nine years later with the three of them, born in that order and aged nearly nine, two and a half, and five months. And with the added bonus that both our lady of the waters and our little “flying fish” were born in our tub, to the sign of Pisces!
Having gone through a particularly difficult pregnancy this last time, I constantly tried to convince my husband to undergo a vasectomy. He, however, did not even want to hear about it (like many men I know, he has a huge needle phobia!).
Later, while I was in labor, he said he would do it (talk about good timing!). At that moment I was ecstatic, yet after the baby was born I began to question myself about our decision. I look at that cute little baby (it doesn’t help that he is so calm and sleeps so well!!) and think wistfully, “Oh my, this is the last baby in the house until we have grandkids!” Or now, as the time approaches to start introducing food in addition to nursing, “This is the last time I will be able to smell this pure breast milk breath all the time!” And so on…
My husband of course took advantage of all this and decided to postpone the vasectomy for another two years until I am absolutely sure.
When I stop to really ponder, three seems like a perfect number considering our life style and the way we raise our kids. For instance, we enjoy working from home as much as possible and choose to rely on as little outer help as possible; all of this gets harder with more kids.
Of course, if we “accidentally” did have more children we would find a way. On the other hand, if my husband did undergo a vasectomy and then we later changed our mind, we could adopt (which was a possibility we had considered before having our third child).
Do I really want more kids or am I just attached to this cute baby phase? The truth is, I don’t really know the answer right now! Let’s see what the future has in store…
And you, how many kids do you have? Was it a planned number or did it just happen? How did you decide? Please share your story!
This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our enviro-mama and mother of three in Brazil, EcoZiva.
The photograph used in this post is of the referenced painting commissioned for the author and her husband. It was submitted by the author.
Coincidence or not, about five minutes after the encouraging message the contractions began. At first I didn’t want to admit they were contractions – not even to myself. It is true that they were different from any kind of contraction I had felt before. They were restricted to a small area of my lower abdomen and were less painful. By then my husband had already filled in the tub and after a while I finally accepted I was in active labor and agreed that he turn on the water heater.
The warm water calmed me and I managed to get all thoughts out of my mind. The fear was completely gone. I soon figured out that each contraction lasted exactly the time it took for me to mentally recite four prayers I knew by heart due to my Catholic upbringing: Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Guardian Angel and the Saint Germain prayers. I used that as a meditation and it made the contractions quite bearable.
What was happening around me is all jumbled in my mind and I don’t really remember. I know that our daughter had become fully awake, while our son completely blacked out no matter how much his father tried to wake him. My husband was also running around back and forth organizing things (I think).
The midwife arrived at around 11:30 p.m. with her daughter (an apprentice midwife), a doula, and her sister, an acupuncturist. After talking with them for a while I reluctantly left the water to be examined. The baby’s heartbeat was fine and I was 7 cm dilated.
Since my daughter’s labor had progressed a bit faster I was slightly discouraged thinking I still had another hour or so before reaching full dilation. However, at this point the midwife asked permission to try something new with me. She (who is also an acupuncturist) and her sister had recently learned a way to diminish the pain in labor and I would be the first they would try it on. They also wanted to try a technique where I would push as little as possible and let the baby come out softly in order to avoid tearing (this was due to my big babies and the enormous tear I had the previous time).
No, the pain did not diminish (much to the contrary!). Yet what happened after she placed the acupuncture needles was equally amazing. Things sped up considerably and in two or three contractions I felt like pushing. Not only did I feel like pushing but I couldn’t help it – so much for letting the baby come out slowly! Differently from my previous labor processes, where the pushing phase felt much more like a need to go to the bathroom, this time these contractions were quite painful.
During my daughter’s labor process I held back for a while during the pushing phase because I was afraid of tearing. This time I just wanted to get it over with and see our son. Not simply get over with labor – I wanted to put it all behind me, all the months of illness after illness, all the fear, and now the pain.
At some point our daughter (who was watching everything outside the tub, right behind me) started crying, I guess from all the faces I was making as I pushed. I reassured her mommy was fine and my husband picked her up.
I pushed so hard I began to feel my blood pressure drop as if I was going to faint. I asked for the water-honey mixture my husband had prepared while the midwife pressed an acupressure point straight below my nose, and I soon felt better.
I checked to see how far the baby was from crowning and was once again discouraged when I felt the head about 10 cm away. The midwife reassured me that it wouldn’t take long for him to descend and in the next contraction I pushed with all my might. I checked again and the seemed the distance seemed to have decreased by half.
Amidst all this, everyone in the room was singing a beautiful song that talked of world peace, union and love. What a wonderful way to welcome a new being onto this planet! Over the next days this song was in my head, and every time a warm feeling came to my heart, along with a wish that more children could come into the world in such a loving, harmonious way. I truly believe it would contribute to a more peaceful Earth.
Two or three contractions later he emerged. It was 34 minutes past midnight. I remember the first words the midwife told me, smiling, were “You broke a record!”
I asked if the cord was around his neck and she said yes and removed it. Then he came straight to my breast. I had felt a great sense of relief and contentment after my two other children were born – even after the C-section, but nothing can be compared to this time. All of a sudden I felt like a completely new woman, fearless and full of energy, and who seemed to never have been ill or in pain.
After the cord stopped pulsating, my husband cut it and we waited for the placenta, chatting excitedly. I had thought of having a Lotus birth, but after so much havoc I realized now I just wanted to rest. I donated the placenta to the midwife as she uses it to make homeopathic medicine.
All in all – despite the initial fear and panic – it was a wonderful birth, a great gift after such a difficult pregnancy. As I finish writing this our beautiful baby boy (the best gift of this entire story!) is sleeping peacefully next to me.
How was/were your birthing experience(s)? Please share.
This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our mother of three in Brazil, Eco Ziva.
Today’s post is a continuation of a South American birth story from our contributor in Brazil, Eco Ziva. Click here for first part of her story on World Moms Blog.
When our son brought my husband in I said I wasn’t going to get up and asked him to put some towels underneath me. I was determined to stay as still as possible in the fear-filled hope that the intense labor contractions wouldn’t begin. I continued breastfeeding our daughter in the exact same position. Even though nothing else happened besides what seemed like endless gushes of water, I felt more and more scared.
I wanted my husband to talk to the midwife and to the doctor because I didn’t feel like communicating with anyone. Nothing else mattered except staying still. I told my fear-altered self that if I stood still enough I wouldn’t actually go into labor and would simply be whisked off to the hospital for a simple and painless C-section.
Way deep inside me, a weak little voice tried to tell me things like “Remember what you prepared yourself for”, “You give birth so fast, your baby will be born in the car if you go to the hospital”, “You don’t want to get that awful epidural for no reason”, and so on. (more…)
It was not an easy pregnancy. While the pregnancies of our older son (8) and of our daughter (2) were harder on me emotionally, this time it was the opposite – emotionally I seemed to be at my best, but physically not so much. I won’t go into detail, but I will give an example to illustrate.
When I was about three months pregnant I woke up in the middle of the night bleeding heavily, and when I got to the bathroom the entire floor was soon covered with blood. We rushed to the hospital thinking I was having a miscarriage, but the ultrasound showed the baby was (thank God!) 100% fine. I had been having excruciating abdominal pain for the previous three days – first suspected to be appendicitis and then a plethora of other maladies – and to this day I have no idea what caused the pain or the bleeding.
And so it went. Every week there was a different problem, the fortunate constant being that the baby was always fine. I tried alternative and allopathic doctors and treatments and spent a small fortune on professionals that were not covered by our health insurance. In the end nothing really worked, and I just prayed I would be feeling well at least on the day I went into labor.
I also began to seek out psychological and spiritual help and finally, after a family constellation and a few sessions of acupuncture (or perhaps because of the sum of everything I had tried before), I had about three weeks of peace before the baby was born, where all I felt was extreme fatigue.
I don’t know if it was because of all of the health problems I underwent or for some other secret emotional reason, but even though this was the third time I was having a baby, it was also the time I was feeling most scared. (more…)
As we approach International Peace Day (Sept. 21st), I thought I would talk about something that has a lot to do with the subject: discouraging prejudice among our children – in this case, prejudice related to gender and sexuality.
Although things have improved a lot over the past 20-30 years, Brazil is still quite a chauvinistic country. This is particularly true in the Northeast, the region we live in.
I became especially aware of this a couple of years ago when we found out our second child was going to be a girl. All of a sudden my husband became the center of not-so-funny jokes, where male friends and relatives (childless or fathers only to male children) would keep telling him things like “so now you are a provider” (of a female for their male sons) or “prepare to suffer in a few years” (i.e., when she began to date).
Those who had girls would keep quiet or say things like “wait until they get a girl”.
Other less-than-funny comments began after our daughter was born and started to interact with baby boys. Often, in such situations, when the boy touches her in some way (even if accidentally!) the father will say something like, “see, he’s already a girl catcher”.
Another example: when our son (now eight) was a baby, an acquaintance, who visited us shortly after he was born, went as far as lowering his diaper to check out the size of his penis. Later I realized this was far more common than I thought as I saw it happen to other baby boys.
All of this bothers both my husband and I immensely, but when we complain or comment about it, most people just shrug it off and say we are taking everything too seriously. (more…)