Tag Archives: Birth

Real Talk

December 20, 2013

Real Talk

If you skipped yesterday’s birth story because it’s long and contains birth, our daughter Eva was born last Friday at 5:57 in the morning.

11 hours of labor, 10 minutes of pushing.

Yes, I got an epidural. Yes, I finally pooed four days later.

No, it wasn’t as bad as last time.

Baby E was 8 lbs, 2 oz. and a little over 21 inches long. I have a second degree tear which is nothing compared to the third degree tear that still haunts me from last time. I’m not ready to go horseback riding, but it’s pretty manageable.

Things I wish I could do: Answer phone calls, write thank you cards, lift my two year old into his bed without feeling like my uterus is falling out, walk through a room without tripping over 100 things, eat cheese (postpartum bowels!), maybe leave the house.

Austin has been busy with school this week, which has made things difficult. Caring for a needy newborn and a slightly panicked two year old, alone, while your nethers try to recuperate is not easy. 

Things that have made it easier: Friends who go with you to doctor’s appointments, friends who bring you chocolate brownies and casseroles and bunches of fresh grapes so that you can maybe, finally, poop. Friends (you!) who text and snapchat and call (even though I still haven’t ever answered) and email and tweet and facebook and send care packages and do all the things to say: you are doing this and I love you.

Thank you.

Here are some things that are real:

Waylon loves his sister but does not love anyone else loving her. When people come to visit, he either screams DON’T LOOK AT HER or tries to quietly burn the house down. He is cooped up and longing for my complete attention. I watch him trying to fight through it and it breaks my heart. When he falls asleep at night, I miss him. I feel guilty for being frustrated with him all day long. I look at his newborn pictures and cry. Every day he asks if when he gets little, can he maybe nurse? The fact that he doesn’t remember those 18 months of bonding and breastfeeding just kills me dead. A few nights ago he said in his most sincere, small voice, “I love when you hold me, Mommy.”

We persevere.


Yesterday I thought my appendix was bursting. So much so that I started mentally writing my eulogy until Austin pointed out that my appendix was on the other side and maybe I just had a baby so that’s why it hurts. I disagreed but he remained unalarmed.

(Postpartum cramping is no joke and worse the second time around).

It’s only been a week. Things will get better. Things will get worse. I tried taking it all day by day but it was too overwhelming so now I’m taking it hour by hour. At one point this week everyone was crying except Austin and I thought: I can’t do this.

But the thing is, of course I can.

One last thing. My greatest fear this time around (besides my perineum falling off) was not being able to bond with the baby or feeling as in love as I did when I met Waylon. I worried about it for nine whole months.

As it turns out, all of you seasoned mamas were right. I had nothing to worry about.

Happy Friday. Hour by hour.


Eva December: A Birth Story

December 19, 2013


Eva December Baer was born on a cold, winter morning. The sun was low, there was snow on the ground.

She was born on her due date. No one was surprised except for me. I thought she would wait. I thought I had a little more time.

I woke up the day before with contractions every 15 minutes. They lasted all day and were fairly mild. I dismissed them as pre-labor, did the dishes, and took my son to Hershey’s Chocolate World to ride the free ride and see the singing cows. We held hands. I tried not to look at the time.

Austin came home mid afternoon to study. I mentioned that my water might have broken but I couldn’t tell for sure. Things didn’t feel right. We kept shrugging our shoulders and pretending I wasn’t in labor. We discussed hamburgers for dinner.

I tried to nap, but instead consulted Google’s horror stories and decided that maybe someone should check to see if my water had broken. I called the midwives as I assembled dinner and they said, “Come in right now.”

I went alone. I didn’t want anyone to think this was it if it wasn’t. I didn’t want to be the girl-who-cried-labor. Too much pressure on my uterus, too much pressure on me to know if these were real contractions and if this was real amniotic fluid.

I tried to stay breezy.

Austin said, “Please let me come along. We’ll call my parents.” I said no and quickly kissed my son goodbye. I left my packed bag behind. I said I’d be right back.

I cried the whole 45 minute drive there, checked into triage, and cried the whole time I waited for a midwife. I was uneasy and scared. My contractions had started to worsen in the car and I didn’t get to have the goodbye with Waylon that I’d wanted. Austin tried to FaceTime me so I could say goodnight, but I just sobbed and said, “Please don’t put him to bed. They have to let me come home.”

When the midwife finally came in to check, she verified that my water had not broken and that it was just a mild infection that looked a lot like amniotic fluid. I tried to thank her but was too busy having a contraction. She said, “Wait, are you in labor?”

They let me leave.

I told the midwife I didn’t know when I’d be back and she just smiled and said, “I’ll see you in a few hours.”

I’d told my parents not to come, that this wasn’t real labor, but they ignored me and had been on their way for over an hour. They passed the birthing center just in time and my mom was able to drive me home. She drove ten miles under the speed limit. The contractions were now five minutes apart.

As soon as I got home I felt deep and sweet relief. Now we could get started.

I hugged my son, told him his baby sister was coming, and rocked him to sleep in between heavy breathing. My contractions were 3-5 minutes apart, but I could mostly talk/swear through them. I ate a hamburger and tried to make jokes. My dad tried not to pass out.

Austin started putting our bags in the car at around 2 minutes apart, but I stopped him. I wanted to wait. I knew it would be more comfortable to labor at home.

But the contractions got worse and fast. Austin asked if he could do a cervical check to see if I was progressing and I let him. We left immediately after. He said, “It’s time.”

The car ride was fun! (No). I tried to stay cheery, but my driver kept singing Christmas carols in a high falsetto and acting like nobody was in labor. Finally I asked him to kindly stop singing OR I WILL THROW MYSELF FROM THIS CAR.

No one was surprised to see me come through the doors. I’d left at three centimeters dilated and returned at five.

As I labored in triage, I didn’t think I’d need or want an epidural. The contractions were strong, but things were moving quickly and I still felt like I was in control.

Then the nausea set in!

This hadn’t happened in my previous birth so I was confused why I suddenly had the flu. The room was spinning. I was weak in the knees. Every contraction was suddenly much worse because I couldn’t breathe through suppressing the urge to vomit and hard labor at the same time.

And so I said, without shame, “I’ll take that epidural now.”

And it was so.

I never stopped being nauseated, but I was able to rest. Normally they would have broken my water right after the epidural to keep things moving, but because I was positive for Group B Strep, I required two doses of penicillin and had to wait.

The nurses turned all the lights off and took turns holding my hand in the dark while Austin slept on a cot in the corner. It was a cozy night and I felt at peace with the birth and excited to meet my baby.

They broke my water around five in the morning and she was born by six. My body was ready. I felt the urge to push only minutes before she started crowning.

At least twice I reminded the room that last time I tore so badly I could barely sit for months, so could we all work together to ensure this doesn’t happen again? Everyone just smiled and avoided eye contact. A nurse offered to take pictures.

I pushed for ten minutes and at 5:57am, Austin delivered our daughter into my arms.

She became part of me as soon as I saw her face. Her eyes and mouth were Waylon’s, her nose was mine. She was hearty and healthy, letting out an earnest cry before she was all the way born.

I took deep breaths. I felt all the feelings.

The rest is as you expect. Second degree tear (which feels much different than a third degree tear praise baby Jesus), a lot of severe postpartum cramping, and a backache I still can’t shake. Since Austin was able to deliver her, the midwife held my perineum together and helped coach me through controlled pushing. She was amazing. If I saw her today, I’d probably weep. As it goes with women helping women.

We left the birthing center 28 hours after she was born. I wanted to sleep in my own bed and our baby girl was eating and pooping and showing all the signs of being a wonderfully healthy human. It was nice to be home.

We named her Eva long before her brother was born. It means life, the first woman, the creation of a soul. Her dad thought of December, my favorite month of winter. A time of magic, of heartache, of healing. A time of astounding joy. We welcome her with heavy, happy hearts. Another beautiful life.

And that is the story of how Eva December was born.

She is loved.



|watch in HD|

When a baby is born.

September 12, 2013


When a baby is born, something shifts. The world becomes a little softer, a little quieter, a little sweeter. It’s just for a moment. Wars still rage, cars still spin against each other, the planet still overheats. But for a few seconds, the air is still as the earth breathes in a new life. A new miracle.

Yesterday I watched my little sister bring new life into this dusty world. Liam Orren Fry arrived on a hot September evening with great gusto, his face immediately puckered into a hearty cry as his parents stared in joy. In terror. In a love you can never take back.

My hands were shaking.

When a baby is born, a family is born. Sleepless nights, sore breasts, and first steps are born. A new spirit joins us and while we can never know anything for sure, we do know that birth always means the same inevitable truth. That love will always win.

It is the greatest gift.


Physical Recovery After Birth: How Do You Save Your Perineum?

June 11, 2013


I used to be terrified of birth.

Before Waylon was born, I wasted hours of my life worrying about how painful is this actually going to be? I cry when I stub my toe, so I was a bit concerned about my pain tolerance and the “birth plan” that included no drugs while excreting a watermelon sized human.

If you’ve read my long winded birth story, you know that after 17 hours of hard labor–I got those drugs. My eyes rolled back in my head and Austin said, “Mmmk, that’s enough.”

Seven hours later, Waylon was born in a quiet room to two sweaty, delirious parents with no coherent sentences left. The cord was wrapped around his neck, but it was no big deal because he’s the kind of kid who doesn’t give a shit about cords or meconium or 24 hours of contractions only three minutes apart.

It’s cool, we kept him.

The whole thing was actually pretty beautiful and remarkably not terrifying. I look at this next birth with very different eyes. I’m not scared. I’m not grossed out. I’m not worried about labor or delivery. I’m just excited. I dream about feeling that first contraction and my heart beats fast. It’s the beginning of an end that is so unbelievably beautiful I can’t hardly stand it. In fact, I would say I can’t wait to give birth again.

Compared to last time, the idea is revolutionary.

All of that said, let me be clear about one thing: while birth may be beautiful, postpartum is not. My recovery from Waylon’s birth was abnormally horrifying. I tore badly, did not heal correctly, and experienced excruciating anal fissures. I couldn’t sit comfortably for months. Even now, I get a little dizzy thinking of the pain. I’m glad I’m sitting down.

People say you forget the pain of birth and I agree. I know the contractions really hurt, but 2 years later–that pain is almost erased. I do not forget the postpartum pain. It was the worst pain I’ve ever experienced, which is why I’m here, throwing up my arms, wondering what I can do for next time. Not only will I have a toddler to care for, but Austin will not be at my beck and call to bring me ice packs and play the role of manservant. He will be gone for 12 hour shifts and I will be stuck at home with two kids and 500 stitches.

Dear God, please save my perineum.

This would be a great time for you to tell me all the secrets of an easier recovery. I asked my midwife and all she could offer was maybe using stitches made out of cat’s guts. So there’s that. 

I’m all ears.


Freewrite: Worst Days

December 6, 2012

 Getting back to the root of blogging with uninterrupted, narcissistic rambling.


It’s 9:19pm and I’ve had one of the worst parenting days I’ve had in a long time. A 5am wake up followed by a morning of crying, an afternoon of whining, and an evening of unexplainable tantrums. My eyes are heavy and my chest feels tight, like I’ve been holding my breath all day long. I know it’s normal, but that doesn’t make it easier. This is hard. I know we’ve said it a hundred times, whispered again and again into each others ears, but there’s nothing else to say in these moments. This is hard.

I was talking to my friend Carrie a few minutes ago, the one very pregnant with a first baby, and she was saying she’s so ready to meet this child. “I know,” I said, “I know, I know, I know. It’s almost here.” And then I showed her a picture of Waylon and I when he was just born. It’s a picture I’ve never shown anyone else because I look so puffy and tired and raw. I thought she would laugh, but instead she was amazed how big he was. Is that in my belly? she asked. That can’t be inside of me.

I was amazed how small he was. And then I had this strange flashback to that first night in the birthing center. I hadn’t slept for 48 hours and I felt my body shutting down after a long 23 hour labor. When we finally got Waylon to sleep, we turned out the lights and for the first time in a long time, I shut my eyes.

Two minutes later, a nurse came in to draw my blood. She was quiet and sweet, but when I asked her to come back later, she said she needed this now and if I could just stay awake a little longer. I tried to stay calm, but my bed shook with sobs. I wanted to say, “I can’t. I can’t do this. I need to sleep. Please let me sleep.” But I was too tired to speak. Instead, I closed my eyes and let the tears burn. If this was parenthood, I might not be able to do it.

When I think about that moment, that first test, I know I can do this. I know that on my worst day, I am still here. I am still facing it. Even if I’m crying and resisting and wishing I was in a hotel with free cable and feather pillows, I show up.

It is those moments, so puffy and tired and raw, that define us. We are here. We are doing it.