Alright. So let me bring this all together in a rundown.
Brock and I were still together, attending marriage counseling, pregnant and planning a homebirth.
Ronan was diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech and Sensory Processing Disorder. He had therapy 3x per week, speech and occupational, and was also in three year old pre-K.
Ruby was delightful and sweet. She slept in her own crib every night, going to bed with a bottle of almond milk and typically sleeping through the night. She had her own typical toddler tendencies, but mostly she was just a little shining ball of light.
We were living in the North East of Charlotte in a rental house at the back of a neighborhood with nothing in walking distance and no friends around.
Being a mom of two was really, really hard for me. Being a mom of two while pregnant was even harder. I was tired, and Ronan was always challenging, Ruby was a toddler, and I didn’t want to cook or clean or play with my kids. I worked at the hospital every weekend, and slept the days at the hospital so I wouldn’t have to drive home on no sleep while I was pregnant.
I taught myself to crochet, and started selling the hats that I loved making.
I began learning more and more about physiological birth, and started using Hypnobirth affirmations to ready myself for labor and home birth.
Brock and I continued in therapy, and I struggled. I really had a hard time changing the way I felt within our relationship. I was very overbearing. I knew what I wanted, and what mattered to me, and how I wanted things done. I didn’t want Brock to have strong feelings about those things, and I didn’t want to deal with his emotions on any of the subjects. He had a hard time coming to the table with his issues, and it made it even worse when I wasn’t receptive to how he felt.
We had to work really hard to connect. And we had to work even harder on the intimacy side of things. The entire nature of our relationship had to shift. I didn’t want to be intimate. At all. Ever. I wanted and needed him to understand that I couldn’t feel pressure, or I would immediately turn away. There was lots of turning away, and frustration on both sides. I didn’t feel safe or comfortable, and he didn’t feel like he could express desire or attraction. It was very, very difficult for both of us. The only plus, at that time, was that I find myself very attractive while I’m pregnant, and enjoy being physical more often during pregnancy – so I DID want intimacy often enough to keep things livable.
The delivery of our third child loomed closer and closer. I felt prepared to birth my child in my own home – I was excited to do so. My mom had planned to fly down for the birth a little before my due date, as I had not yet gone past 39 weeks pregnant, and it felt like a safe bet. She came after I hit 38 weeks and helped me prepare – we cleaned, nested, sorted clothes, and kept the kids busy. It was wonderful to have her, but the day of her departure was getting nearer and it didn’t appear that I was going to go into labor any time soon.
On the evening of November 21st, I was 40 weeks and 5 days pregnant. I was feeling frustrated and emotional. My mom was leaving in two days and I still hadn’t had the baby. I felt like we had wasted our entire two weeks together without giving birth! We were sitting and watching TV, and I decided to see if I could get things moving at all by doing some nipple stimulation. Just a few tweaks. The contractions came hard and heavy while I was stimulating, but as soon as I stopped, they would die down. Near 11pm, I decided to just go ahead and go to bed. Only, I couldn’t sleep through the contractions. I could fall asleep between them, but I was woken up by every single one.
I got up to run a bath and see if the contractions stayed active, but the minute I sat down in the bath, they stopped. Brock had gotten up with me and I sent him back to bed. I noticed my mama was still awake so I asked if she wanted to go downstairs and watch a show with me or something. There was no point in trying to sleep, when neither of us were sleepy anyways.
We went downstairs and put on an episode of America’s Funniest Home Videos. I decided to call my midwife and let her know that my contractions were steady around 4-6 minutes apart, but I felt really unsure if it was real labor or not. She said she would head over, so I bounced on the labor ball and drank a little bit of wine and tried to ignore my contractions.
I have a really incredibly detailed labor story written out here. But for the purposes of this blog, I’m just going to abbreviate it. My midwife showed up and I was dilating nicely. The rest of my birth team assembled, and I labored throughout morning and into the afternoon. I had visualized myself birthing our baby in the bathtub in the master bedroom, and so that was where I wanted to head when things got serious. I felt, at the time, like my labor was very difficult but when I remember it now… it was perfect. It was peaceful and calm and beautiful, and quite quick. It also happened to be on Thanksgiving day, so my mom was up and down the stairs cooking a giant turkey dinner.
Our baby was born at 2:27pm, and he was beautiful. Perfect. We named him Ryder Kane, and we fell in love immediately. Not long after he was born, when I had been nestled safely into my bed with my newborn, Brock came over and knelt beside us. He looked at me, and then looked at our baby and said, unprompted, “I don’t want to circumcise him, Mandy. He’s perfect. I don’t want to hurt him.”
Tears jumped into the eyes of everyone in the room, and I sobbed. Ronan was circumcised, and it was (and is) one of my biggest mama regrets. I wasn’t truly sure I wanted to have Ronan cut, and immediately after having it done, I’d wished we hadn’t. I had regretted it completely and never wanted to circumcise another child. Ruby was a girl, and so it wasn’t an issue. Every single time we’d discussed circumcision before the birth of this child it had always ended in a fight. Throughout my pregnancy, Brock and I had fought and argued and disagreed on whether or not we would circumcise a boy. I brought my fears to all of our prenatals, and everyone knew how much it meant to me. It was an incredibly moving moment, when we all felt that deep relief together – Ryder would not be cut.
After the delivery, I got to eat an incredible thanksgiving dinner, and felt an immense amount of love for my birth women. I also felt an incredible amount of sadness that my mother had to leave the following morning. I begged her to stay, but she couldn’t. Or wouldn’t. She only got to hold Ryder once as a newborn, and that was really hard for me. I felt like Ryder’s birth was really hard for HER to watch, and I wished that we had some time to process it together. But she left, and I went through another post-partum, only this time with a three year old, a 20 month old and a newborn.
It was hard, and dark, and beautiful and light all mixed in together. It was all of those things, until I started taking Ronan to preschool again, and we had to spend lots of time in the car.
Then it just went dark.
To be continued.