Sunday, July 14, 2013

Wow. Just wow.

It's been an exciting, miraculous, exhausting and incredible weekend.  But before I tell you about it, I must warn you: the cord on my computer is broken and I am typing this on my husband's phone. So get ready for a shortened, messy blog.

On Thursday morning I got a call from my sister. Her back hurts and her stomach feels tight.  She thinks her labor has begun.  The arrangement is for me to hop in the car when she tells me she is in labor so I can be her doula. We live 4 1/2 hours apart.  I tell my husband.  'Make sure it's really labor.' 

In our family we tend to have looooong labors.  So I agreed. I did some gardening, fed the kids lunch, put the little one down for a nap, and went to the store with my daughter. I thought it might be nice to get a little time together before I took off for who knows how long.

As we get in the car, my daughter starts crying for me to put her music on. I don't have the CD she wants and even if I did, I am REALLY not in the mood. I actually HATE most children's music. It seems to me that it should be possible to sing about dinasours, mitzvahs, and wheels without high pitched voices and fake laughter.  Are they TRYING to be as annoying as possible?!

Anyway, she started doing her shrieky, whiny, crying thing. Which just made me mad. Here I was trying to have sweet Mama Daughter time and she was ruining it.  When I finally yelled at her, the crying stopped. Then she asked me to open her window. I drive a minivan. The middle windows do NOT open.  'So try mama.' 'It's not possible.' 'Yeah, but try.' 'No honey, it just can't happen.' 'But mama, you need to try. Press a button.' 'There is no button.' 'Find a button and try it.' 'THERE'S NO BUTTON! THE WINDOW DOESN'T OPEN!' 'But try.' Aaaaaaahhhhhhh!  On and on and on it went.

When we finally got to the store and I loaded the cart with frozen food my husband could easily make, without any  kitchen knowledge, we started the drive home. By this point she had taken her shoes off and thrown them down three different isles, grabbed at stuff and made me irritable beyond belief. Not because what she was doing was anything other than what a three year old does, but because I wasn't getting a chance to be the sweet, fun, caring mother I imagined myself to be.  Where was my sweet memories making moment? She was ruining this for me!

Fast forward and I am racing to NY to be with my sister.  An hour away I get a call that she is on her way to the hospital and I should meet her there.
No. Uh-uh. That wasn't the plan. That wasn't my plan. I was supposed to be the amazing sister doula who got her through a natural childbirth. And once she's in the hospital, I won't be able to do my thing. 

 I knew, I knew this wasn't about me. I knew that my hopes and plans had nothing to do with my sister and her birth. But it was still so hard to let go of the beautiful picture I construed in my head of us, together, rocking, moaning, pacing, birthing.  

I won't go into the specifics of the birth, because they are not mine to share.  But I can tell you that it was SO beautiful. My sister was a warrior. She was strength, determination, and raw beauty. And I was privileged and blessed to be a part of it.  I did not have the co-star role I had imagined for myself. I did not get to prove to anyone how great I was. I was simply there witnessing greatness. It was amazing and humbling.  And in the end I enjoyed the best gift of all, which was a full Shabbos in the hospital. Just me, sister and perfect little niece. I held her. I rocked her. I changed her little meconium poops. And I loved them. 

But I didn't sleep. And I didn't have adrenalin and oxytocin coursing through me. It was not my baby. It was not my birth. I am not used to being on the sideline.  I didn't realize how much I actually enjoy being in the center. It's not the prettiest realization. Just as I saw that I was an impatient, annoyed mother in the car, rather than the sweet, loving one I envisioned, so am I not the humble, support I thought I was. 

I'm not sure exactly what it all means, except that I would like to be more aware of my vision of myself and how much it actually compares to the reality of me. Not so I can judge myself and think badly of myself, but just so I can know myself a little better. And perhaps if I have a less grandiose picture of myself, I can have more compassion and acceptance of everyone else. 

I will finish this blog because it really sucks typing on the phone and I am exhausted and want to be with my husband.  But I will end it like this:

Mazel Tov Sister!!! 

1. My niece
2. My beautiful adorable incredible baby niece!!!
3. Being invited to be a part of such an amazing experience
4. MY NIECE!!!
5. My husband for being MY support and letting me be there.


  1. I love how genuinely original you are, Tovah. I agree that Eliana is amazing, etc etc
    When I was in the same phase of child raising you are in right now I didn't even have the presence of mind to think of "Mama Daughter time". I was just focused on keeping them alive, moment to moment. Only later did I even notice how cute they were.
    More power to you that you are able to simultaneously be there, be authentic and NOTICE it all.
    Hugs from Mass.

  2. Wow. Just Wow.

  3. Your Presence whether in the middle, or on the sidelines made all the difference. The real you, is who we so love and appreciate. So whoever the perfect imaginary woman is who lives in your head, tell her that the real, messy, you is cherished.
    All my daughters are warrior women- you have earned your "black belt" my "doula" daughter. May this new little perfect being grow up in the presence of her incredible mama and aunts in good health and joy.I can think of no better role models for her.