Five days overdue. Prays baby doesn’t come on Bay to Breakers. Sciatica. Questions acupuncture to induce labor. Season One of Call the Midwife. Joyful; I’m going to be a mom! Six days overdue. Seasons Two and Three of Call the Midwife. Serenity; a natural birth will be a breeze! Seasons Four of Call the Midwife. Lots of crying. Worries about labor, worries about baby. Seven days overdue. Rubs belly and sings to baby. Searches Pinterest for ways to prepare for newborn. Imagines laying in backyard with baby and smelling flowers. Baby kicks ribs, punches abdomen. Get this baby out of me. Considers acupuncture. Eight days overdue. Prays baby doesn’t come on Bay to Breakers. Pedicure and foot massage to induce labor. Seven days overdue. Acupuncture to induce labor. Prays water doesn’t break on Bay to Breakers. 8 days overdue. Questions acupuncture. Massive walk in the Marina, lots of stairs. Manicure on Irving St. 9 days overdue. Morning of Bay to Breakers, water breaks. Panic. Friendly police officers with traffic guidance. Hospital bag. Kaiser. Delivery room with a view. Family in waiting room.
Doctors can’t confirm water broke. Insists it wasn’t pee. Waits. Bounces on yoga ball. 2 hours, 3 hours, 4 hours. Was it pee? Bounces on yoga ball. Five hours, six hours. Doctors confirm water broke. Waits. Natural birth. Jolly ranchers. Monitors. Baby’s heart rate. Nurses in and out. Waits. 1 cm, maybe. Walks hallway with Adam 46 times. 12 hours. “Have you tried nipple stimulation?” Woman uproariously moaning next door. Walks hallway with Adam 46 more times. New baby cries. Tears, mine. Still 1 cm. “Induce?” Natural birth. Bounces on yoga ball. “You know, sometimes nipple stimulation can help.” Morphine sleep. Amateur cramping. “Epidural?” Fentanyl. Raspberry jello. 12 hours. “We have to induce you.”
Disappointment. Pitocin, 2 units. Breathing. My body was made to do this. “Epidural?” Natural birth. Hospital bed hurts. Adam sleeping. Cramping. My body was made to do this. Breathing. “Epidural?” No. Pitocin, 4 units. Deep breathing. My body was made to this. 24 hours. 3 cm, maybe. Pitocin, 6 units, 8 units, 10 units. Deeeep breathing. Deep stretching. Oh. My. God. CONTRACTION. Insane back pain. Screams at Adam. 30 hours. “Epidural?” No! Breathing. Deep stretching. Screams at Adam. My body was made to do this. CONTRACTION. Hangs on Adam’s shoulders. CONTRACTION. On all fours. My body was made… this mantra is bullshit! Buries face in hospital bed. Can’t get comfortable. CONTRACTION. Breathing. Here it comes. Breathing? I can’t do this! EPIDURAL! EPIDURAL, NOW. Adam discourages epidural, part of my “instructions.” Screams at Adam. Sees epidural needle. Holy shit. “Don’t move; I’m inserting the needle.” WAIT, CONTRACTION! “Hold still…!” Fire. So much fire. Squeeze’s Adam’s hand. Relief.
Raspberry jello. Waits. Raspberry jello. Waits. Raspberry jello. 10 cm. This epidural is amazing. Friendly doctors. Pushing. Embarrassing sounds. Don’t care. Sees head. Holy shit, that’s a head. Pushing. I can do this. Baby’s heart rate drops. Fear. “We have to turn the baby.” Doctor’s hands inside my body, turning baby. SHRIEKS. Pushing. “The head is out.” Adam, the head is out? “I see the head, Lauren!” There’s a head hanging out of my body. Holy shit. PRESSURE. “Don’t push!” MUST PUSH! So slippery. Immense relief. Cord around neck. Crying. It’s a… it’s a … it’s a girl! Skin to skin. Motherhood.
From my delivery room, I heard the deep grumbles and moans of the women around me becoming mothers, their hips expanding, their skin stretching and tearing as they pushed out the selfishness and made space for the sacrifice and love to come. Then it was my turn. Holding our babies, we all existed for the first time as mothers. On my drive to work most days, I’d sing “Circle Game” to Nava inside my belly. We sang it at summer camp growing up, and the song made me nostalgic for my own coming of age. As we left the hospital to load Nava into the car, there was a farmer’s market in front of the hospital. I heard a folksy woman’s sweet voice singing “Circle Game,” and I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing. Nava was so fragile, had so much experience ahead of her, and she was ours.
How do you measure a life? Nava has been alive for 171 days. That’s about 157 baths before bed. Approximately 423 bedtime stories. About 1,710 diapers. One large tub of Aquaphor. She sits, crawls, and says “buh.” She loves books, Hebrew prayers, and the word “toot.” She gives away smiles for free, is her most playful during the first hour of the day and the last hour before bed, and licks the mirror when she sees her own reflection. She is determined, alert and patient. Although she hasn’t been here very long, it feels like she was here the whole time. It has been a foggy, disorienting, and – at times – chaotic 171 days, but loving Nava is so peaceful.
This soup comes together in under 30 minutes, making it nap-friendly to even the worst of sleep regressing babies. Enjoy it with a huge hunk of crusty sourdough bread.
What You Need
2 tblsp coconut oil (before it is melted)
1 medium yellow onion (or about 1.5 cups of coarsely chopped onion); coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves; peeled
2 tsp salt
1.5 c of loosely chopped fresh tarragon
1 small green apple (about 1 cup coarsely chopped)
7 c of butternut squash; cubed
4 c vegetable broth
additional salt & pepper to taste
Optional: pumpkin seeds, yogurt, and / or cinnamon to top!
How To Do It
Heat up the coconut oil over medium heat. While that’s happening, saute the onion with one tsp of salt and the whole garlic cloves. While the onion is softening and browning, chop your apple and tarragon, and add them to the onions and garlic when the onion has slightly browned. Mix together for about 5 minutes. Mix in the chopped butternut squash, add another tsp of salt, and fill with veggie broth until all the contents are covered. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the squash has softened and bits of squash are peaking out through the liquid. Blend. Enjoy!