Monday, July 31, 2006

Biographical Considerations by Henry Joseph

The Story of My Birth (well, at least one version thereof)

I arrived Sunday, July 16, 2006 at 9:03pm, just one day after my “due” date and perfectly timed for my anxiously awaiting moms. We’d made it past July 12th, which I had heard over and over again was the day that I was supposed to wait for, since Momma Di’s year anniversary at work was this day and benefits would be more forthcoming if I arrived thereafter. I considered throwing a wrench into the plan one day when I was feeling a little squished and knew the hot weather was approaching, but I knew much relief would come of my staying put…so I did.

The day before I chose to arrive, Grandma Linda came up from Spokane for a visit. She’d not seen her daughter pregnant, nor had she had a chance to spoil me on the inside, so she came for a day of visiting – we went first to the farmer’s market, then to Joel’s for some yummy tacos, then back to the house which was new to her. From what I could hear, the day was pretty great – everyone seemed to enjoy the company and they talked a lot about “when this baby would come.” Linda kept saying I was too high to be anywhere close…yet Momma Di had taken her 4 mile walk with me earlier in the morning and was waddling a bit more uncomfortably than in previous days…still, I do not think anyone was really anticipating that I might have my own ideas about coming such a short time after…this was one great lesson – even as small as I am – I got to make some pretty important decisions right from the start!

I was revving things up on the inside that night at dinner. Momma Di got up from the table after feeling me kicking heavily in the ribs. She excused herself to the bathroom where she was hit suddenly with a strong wave of claustrophobia and inability to breathe. Returning to the table, the heat and sounds were overwhelming and so she went outside on the restaurant patio and then down to a nearby dock. The cool waters of Lake Pend Orielle tempted her, but some sort of sanity brought her back and she sat on a chair in the evening air to relax and catch her wind. Momma Shannon came out worried and when Di saw her, she burst into tears. “Why are you crying, Sweetheart?” Shannon asked, to which Diana replied, “I have no idea…” And this was the truth. I could feel her heartbeat racing and it seemed from my vantage that she just needed to rest and get cool. I had my own intentions of joining my moms soon, but I don’t think even then that they were aware of my impending arrival. Shannon convinced Diana of the wisdom of just going home and so they left Linda with Pam to talk life stories and returned to the quiet of the house.

Falling asleep that night was not difficult; the day had been full and dreams awaited them both. I calmed myself down on the inside, gathering my strength for the journey to come and dreams came quickly to Momma Diana. At 2am, she was startled awake by the strangeness of her dreams and was struck by the wetness beneath her on the sheet. Drowsy and a bit disoriented, she wondered if my movement had caused her weakened bladder to fail and soil the sheets. Rising quickly into consciousness, however, was also the realization that this may in fact be amniotic fluid and she searched her memory for what Joann the nurse had taught her about distinguishing this from urine. There was only a slight wet spot on the bed which was not as she had imagined the “gush” of waters breaking. This discrepancy made the investigation all the more challenging…pee or amniotic fluid? Was it sweet smelling or acidic? Was there a color to it? Did it have any distinguishing characteristic? She convinced herself it was urine until, sitting up in bed, another leak came dripping down her leg. A revised reality became suddenly very clear – I was on my way.

The next hour was a slow motion dance of preparing the house for a few days’ departure, gathering the necessities for the hospital, taking Java over to Aunt Pammy’s house and getting admitted into Bonner General. Mommas arrived fully loaded with the purple birthing ball, an overnight bag with clothes, snacks and a cooler which held the coveted bottle of Brutal Bitter beer which Momma Diana had yearned for throughout the pregnancy but gratefully was reluctant to drink on account of my developing brain. She’d requested that upon my arrival those present would raise a glass together and so they came prepared to do just this.

Joann, the nurse who had taught the 6-week childbirth class, was on shift which provided a welcome continuity and comfort to the first hours at the hospital. A cotton swab test assured us that the fluid leak was definitively amniotic and we were officially “in for the duration.” I was resting up a bit, though I could feel rumbling taking place just below where my head was lodging. There were alternating tightenings and releases which I sensed were going to help me in the long run make my way down the dark and narrowed pathways to the outside world. I was having my own trepidation at this point about claustrophobia and wondered if perhaps Momma Di had been highly attuned to my mental preoccupations just hours before when she had had her “moment” at the restaurant. We were, of course, still one at this point – so the chances of transference are not so far fetched.

Labor began slowly with what in medical terms they call “uncoordinated contractions.” Because my bag of waters had broken, I was given 24 hours to come out or else medical intervention would be required. I knew Momma Diana wanted to birth me vaginally and I determined there and then to try to make my way out as best I knew how...of course, having never done this before, my confidence in the exact nature and direction of my journey was still much under consideration.

In a few short hours, the tightening around me became more and more acute. At first, it all seemed pretty manageable – wavelike tidal pulls would come, I would feel Momma Di’s concentrated breath and shift of position accommodate the surge – and then quiet respite. We had the freedom at this point to walk out to the hospital’s Healing Garden with Pam for about a half hour and I got to feel the heat of the summer sun penetrate Momma’s belly. It was a bright sunny day, just suited for a birthday.

Back in the birthing room, muffled words met my ears providing some indication as to what was taking place on the outside. Pitocin, Auntie Deb, dilation, progress – I was putting the pieces together. By 2pm, about two hours after the IV had begun administering pitocin, the surges embracing me became both more frequent and powerful. I could sense a dramatic change in Momma Diana as she rode these more turbulent waves. Hypnobirthing practice gave her some tools – images of flowers opening and gloves of anesthesia quelling the deep ache inside were helpful – yet the intensity of the pain mounted quickly – soon surges were two minutes apart and Momma’s moans became primal. She’d talked to me about her desire to birth me without pain medication, but I also knew deep inside that she would do whatever was necessary to get me out safely. Her body was struggling against the pain and during one specific contraction, I could feel her uterus expand and open, just like the imagined blossoming flower but with an attendant feeling of being “cracked open from the inside…” (at least this is how she described it later to friends). I heard her distinctly ask for help and soon preparations were underway for an epidural.

It is unclear still why it took so long for cute Pam the Anesthesiologist to arrive, but once she did, action was expedited to get mom out of pain. By now, I too, was getting rather uncomfortable. Momma Di’s contracting muscles were pushing me farther down a narrowing passage, yet I was feeling a bit reluctant to leave the safe harbor of her expanded belly. I weighed the pros and cons of complying versus mounting a stubborn retreat, but remembered quickly what Dr. Bowden had said about the 24 hour cut off and the “decisions” we’d need to make come this time. Just as the epidural began to take effect, I gave myself over to the surging waves and began the “passive decent” into Momma Di’s pelvic region en route to the external world.

By 7pm, as I was navigating some pretty rough terrain, Momma Di was enjoying an hour of a seemingly pain-free “tea party,” chatting and laughing as she was with Deb and Momma Shannon. Yet soon, it was time to push me out. My head was nestled squarely inside Di’s pelvis and curious one that I am, I chose to go this part of the journey face up. Not sure why this would pose any problem, I figured a good back stroke out would do just the trick.

Momma Di’s pushing was powerful! Each time her uterus contracted, she engaged all willing muscles to assist in inching me forward and out. I did not go easily, however. Because Diana is so strong, even fully dilated, there was not much room for me. I was thinking, “Why is she trying to push me out the back door? Can’t she see it is locked?” Over time, however, I realized this was the only way out and it was up to us both, as a team, to find the right key to unlock the door to allow for my exit. Surge, breath in, push, bear down, breath in, bear down, push, relax, breathe… This went on for over an hour and I was slowly descending, putting pressure on Di’s pelvic floor to let her know her efforts were not in vain.

Despite the progress I had made, I could tell suspicion was rising about whether or not Momma Di and I would find the right key after all. My heartbeat seemed steady which was in our favor, but a creeping sense of tension seemed to enter the room. Hushed discussions about the likelihood of a C-section found their way inside and I know Momma Di was privy to this possibility. She spoke to me through somewhat desperate pleas, “Come on little one,” she beckoned, “we are so excited to meet you. Please find your way out safely…” Could she know how eager I was to meet her and Momma Shannon as well?

At 8pm, the nursing shift changed and in came Joann, our “shero” of the hour! From the moment she arrived, she was ready for action! She entered the room with a hearty, “Let’s get this baby out!” and suddenly the whole team was galvanized toward this end. “Shannon, come over here,” Joann summoned, as she shined a flashlight into the opening I was to descend through. “See that black fluff? That is your baby’s head! He or she is right there. I need you to help Diana push your baby out!” Momma Shannon let out a squeal of delight and I could hear her coaching Momma Di to “push!” With each subsequent surge, Momma Diana pushed with renewed energy and vigor. For my part, I was beginning to think the “face up” approach was perhaps not in our favor and was considering how to shift so as to come out a bit easier face down. There was the issue of my arm, however, which in my turning around, seemed to want to stay up close to my head. If I was going to come out head first and down, my arm was going to have to come with me over my head…

Push after push, cheer upon cheer…Joann had Momma Di touch my head as it crowned to give her the motivation to continue on. We were two hours into pushing now and the enthusiasm for my arrival was overwhelming. Everyone in the room -- Mommas Di and Shannon, Auntie Deb, Joann, Dr. Bowden, the other nurses – everyone was ready for my arrival. With one final push, feet braced firmly against a birthing bar, legs spread as wide as could be, Momma Diana mustered all matter of internal strength to get me through and beyond the door – and out I came! Once my head was out (with one arm shielding the light), the rest of me spit out quite quickly. “It’s a boy!” cried Momma Shannon – a fact I had forgotten until that moment had remained an unknown to my moms. Yes, I thought…you both were right from the start with your intuition. You should trust yourselves…you are more keenly aware than you might know…

I was blue and limp when I came out into the world, and the nurses took me to the heat station to clean me up and help me breath. I can imagine this was the toughest part for Momma Di…she was the farthest away and could not clearly see what was happening with me. If I could have more quickly produced the reassuring cry to signal my wellness, I would have done so – but I was tired and liquid clogged my chest. It was a full few minutes before I could muster the scream, but when it came, everyone in the room cheered in delight. My birthday party had begun – I could not have been more excited to be there!

Two weeks have passed and just today my umbilical cord fell off – the definitive symbol of my independence and autonomy. My moms are giddy with amazement at my presence in their lives and I am settling in easy to the comforts of their incredible love and powerful spirits. Why I chose Momma Di and Momma Shannon will, over time, be revealed to them, just as their choice to welcome me into their lives will be made manifest each day I spend with them. When we are alone, sometimes Momma Di whispers in my ear, “We are so lucky to know you, Henry Joseph…what have you come to teach us?” And while I cannot yet speak, I tell her in ways I know she understands, “To love more deeply than you have known possible, to trust more faithfully than you have been willing, to see beyond what you have even imagined and to live more fully than you have ever expected…” And so our journey continues…

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Choice Shots

A few good ones of his first few weeks...

Henry's First Two Weeks

Henry is about to be 2 weeks old and his impact in such a short time has been profound! Moms are at once energized and exhausted, delighted and determined, overjoyed and overwhelmed with emotion!

Henry has been surrounded by family in these first 2 weeks -- he has been loved up by both Grandmas, Poppa Buddy and Bonnie, his loving Auntie Deb and all the cousins! In only a few more days, he'll get to meet Grandpa Buddy who is coming home from fishing in Alaska. What a fortunate little boy he is indeed!

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Many Faces of Henry

Excitement, Curiosity, Excrement and Wonder...all the faces of our little loved one!

Labor Considerations

Henry has been such an undeniable are a few shots of the labor which preceeded his arrival.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Weighing In

Today's update: All is well! Henry had his first "weigh in" this afternoon and all signs are good that my milk is in and he is getting fed! He needs to gain a half ounce each day, so if you call and I do not answer...we're probably at the boob!

Thanks for all the loving support coming our

Here he is...for starters!


Oh, these small town northern Idahoian in the country, dial up is so slow, the photos of little HB simply will not load.

I promise photos to come soon...

You know, parenting is a lesson in patience..

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Oh Henry!

Our little one has arrived -- Henry Joseph Zagorsky Barnes! Yes, we know... a lot of name for a little guy -- we will only add the Zagorsky to his birth certificate, so for short, he can just be Henry Barnes (or "Huck" for short).

He came into the world 7 lbs, 2 oz and 20.5 inches long. He is a beauty -- pure love and joy.

Labor story to come in a few days when the amnesia has faded and the memory is a bit stronger (fatigue is a killer, eh?)! Suffice to say, if pain is a teacher and I learned a lot! But worth every collosal cracking open feeling just to see Henry's little face and hold his soft, delicious body.

We're back at home now with a steep learning curve -- welcoming all visitors and good parenting advice!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Size Considerations

Just when Shannon thought her belly was getting big...

Java's "Special Friend..."

Java has found a new "special friend" with whom he loves to play!

Not the bears...not the deer...not the baby...(I never did say he was a terrifically brilliant love dog!)