My son is a unique vexation to me. He can out-argue anyone. Don’t even try. I am warning you. You think I’m kidding.
And of course, this morning he woke up ready to fight. Telling me he wants this and doesn’t want that, because it’s his birthday. His blonde hair is a tuft, his eyes wide and cross, his body warm and lean like a long cat. Sounds pretty cute, except every morning he is just as apt to wake up telling me he wants this, and doesn’t want that. Either that or he wakes with the most loving entreaties, asking me into bed. Twining his arms around me and he tells me in his low husky voice (which he inherited from his mama) about some delicious dream, as he swims to the surface amidst his soft, soft quilts…
He’s adventurous. That sounds lovely, right? But not everyone’s ready for his adventure. We’ve had dealings with authorities twice – because he ran off. Once, at least, barefoot. Now, he wasn’t running off because he was unhappy or confused – he had an agenda, and that was to see the world. He tried to ride the bus to see his papa. He tried to visit neighbors. He still, to this day, is apt to do something like this. Something others view as inappropriate in some way, but then I’m the one who has to tell him Why he can’t do this or that, and it never really makes sense.
I got mixed feelings that he’s learning to reel himself in a bit. Yesterday, we saw a friend, a lovely young woman, passing in the sunlight. I said, “Nels, why didn’t you give J. a hug?” He blushes and says, “She didn’t put her arms up – like this – when she wants one.” I’m like, you’re right, okay. And mourning for when he was a little smaller and would just smack right into people because he loved them so.
I remember a few years ago, my mother took up with a man named D., just a few months after she was widowed. The man definitely came from the, “kids should listen to and respect their elders” camp. (You know, that camp rarely thinks about what elders owe li’l ‘uns, just the reciprocal!) So anyway, the man was chastizing Nels for something, and Nels – who must’ve been all of five – was trying to explain his side of the story. D. just rolls right over him, keeps talking at him. Nels tells me later, recounting the event, his voice in a bloom of righteous anger. “And then – and then – I didn’t listen to him any more!” He shakes his head, his eyes a gathering storm. And I’m thinking, No shit.
And now, my son is growing into a young man. He’s up to my shoulder – I no longer need to stoop to kiss his hair, which smells sweet as straw as it ever has. He can’t win me at wrestling yet, but it won’t be long. There are mornings he heads off to school where he doesn’t even kiss me goodbye. At night he reads his adventure novels and comics and falls asleep with the light on, and a cat curled up under his arm. I turn the light down and kiss him goodnight and my heart breaks a thousand times.
And then he wakes up and it’s like, I want to go here, I want to do that, why can’t we go here, why can’t we do this, when I grow up I’m moving to Massachusetts and I will buy you a plane ticket to come see me, can you be my girlfriend.
It’s almost like I want to say Nels is a child of a different era, an era that suits children when they could be children, adventuring on railroad tracks and off wooded trails. But really, Nels suits any era fortunate enough to receive him.
Happy birthday, li’l Boo. I love you until forever.
I gave birth to my son eleven years ago today. Every year I post his birth story on this date. Several families have told me the story has influenced their birth choices; several women that it was the (beginning) inspiration for their home birth! I am humbled – and, as always, grateful.
Nels David Hogaboom
a birth story
Born at home to mom Kelly, dad Ralph, and sister Sophia [/Phoenix]
1:20 AM Wednesday April 7, 2004
8 pounds 7 ounces
21 inches long
April 6th, 9 AM – is it or isn’t it?
A couple hours after I wake up on Tuesday I’m having mild contractions that are only a tiny bit more intense than the Braxton Hicks contractions I’d had throughout the last half of my pregnancy. These contractions are only slightly painful and certainly not too intense. Nevertheless, they are somewhat distracting and never truly subside, coming anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes apart. Ralph senses things are going to go into motion and comes home at noon, starting his two weeks off of work. He calls my mom at about 3 PM and tells her to head up to see us (she leaves about 5 PM). At this point I am hopeful of labor but also feeling somewhat silly at the thought I might be treating everyone to a false alarm. My mom arrives at about 9 PM time and she and Ralph start writing down my contractions, calling midwives, and cleaning the house up a bit.
April 6th, 10 PM – the real thing
My mom and I are watching a movie together and my contractions are still coming about 10 minutes apart. I still claim I am unsure if labor is going someplace. But everyone is noticing I pause the movie during each contraction so I can concentrate on getting though it. I’m undecided if I should walk around to “get things moving” or lie down and rest in between contractions. I’m trying not to be too fearful of another long labor like I had with my first child. Suddenly at about 10:30 PM I hop up from the bed and turn off the movie, since contractions have sped up to about 4 minutes apart. Naturally my mom and Ralph are very excited and go about making phone calls and preparations while I pace the floor and cope with each contraction. It is going quite well but I keep telling myself these are the “easy” contractions and I try not to worry about what’s to come.
Around 10:30 my midwives and my doula start arriving and I am focusing inward in the classic “Laborland” manner. I notice peripherally how efficient and friendly everyone is, setting up the bed, laying out blankets and birth supplies and getting snacks. Everyone is wonderful to me and provides me with water and encouragement between contractions, respectful silence and privacy during. I feel very protected and honored and so it is easy not to be fearful. My doula Elizabeth arrives and strokes my back and speaks softly to me. She puts me nearly to sleep in between contractions. I am feeling so grateful for the love and encouragement I am getting. I know I am coping very well and in fact since I am doing so well I don’t think I am very far along.
April 7th, Midnight – silliest labor quote
Things are intense but I don’t want a check to see how far I’ve dilated. I am somewhat afraid to discover all the work I am doing hasn’t gotten me anywhere. Laura (one of the midwives) suggests I get into the tub. I’d always thought of the tub as what you use as a last resort toward the end of labor so I tell her I can wait. After a few more contractions I decide to get in, hoping for some pain relief. I spend about 40 minutes in the tub with contractions edging up their intensity. Everyone is around me encouraging me and vocalizing though my contractions. Elizabeth holds my hands and breathes with me through the contractions, then puts a cold cloth on my head and neck in between. Everyone helps keep me calm and focused, as does the knowledge I have to take each contraction one at a time. Close to 1 AM I feel the urge to have Ralph hold and kiss me while I rest, and help talk me through contractions (he’s repeating something I read from Birthing From Within: “Labor is hard work, it hurts, and you can do it”). I don’t realize at the time but I am going through transition. After a few contractions I start to feel a little of that, well — grunting urge. I know it is perfectly okay to grunt and push a little to help with the pain and I instinctively do so. The midwives clue into what I am doing and are back in the room. Laura says, “Gee Kelly, it sounds like you’re pushing” and I reply (idiotically) “I’m not really pushing, it just feels good to bear down a little bit”. These contractions are pretty rough but everyone is helping me so much it is still very manageable.
April 7th, 1:10 AM – OUCH, OUCH, OUCH!
Kathy convinces me to let her check me and informs me not only am I completely dilated, but that the baby’s head has descended quite a bit. I am completely amazed at this (despite knowing I am feeling the urge to push) and even accuse everyone of just saying that to make me feel better! (I feel a little silly about this later). During each contraction I am feeling the pain in my hips, all the way to the bone, which my midwives tell me is a sign the baby is moving. Kathy tells me later I comment that it is like a crowbar prying my pelvis apart. Despite the pain I am coping well and in between the contractions I am still calm. I comment that I am not feeling any pressure in my bottom yet and I think to myself this means I have a ways to go. Oops, I speak too soon — with the next contraction I feel the baby AT THE DOOR, so to speak. This takes me by surprise and my labor sounds change from low and powerful to very alarmed and – well – a little screechy. Everyone is talking to me and trying to help me calm down and focus. I am amazed at the pain and pressure and overcome with an almost frantic need to push. I am pushing, pushing, pushing, before I can tune into my midwives telling me to ease off. I do the best I can and manage to ease off a bit and direct my energies more constructively. Despite the pain I am overjoyed to know I am so close and my baby will be here any minute. “I know I will feel so good when I see my baby”, I tell myself and this helps me. Kathy tells me to reach down and feel the head and after an initial hesitation I do, surprised again at how soft and smooth it is. I can feel each part of the child’s head I deliver. It hurts! But I know I am close. The head is out and then I am surprised by the fullness and difficulty of the shoulders, which I do not remember from my first birth.
April 7th, 1:20 AM – Nels is born
With one final push I feel my baby being delivered and I am surprised it is already over. I have been kneeling in the tub and so immediately turn around and Ralph tells me later I am saying, “Give me my baby! I want to hold my baby!” to the midwives who are doing their thing. I have a vision of my baby’s long, smooth body floating in the water, the room lit by candlelight in a soft glow. Within seconds he is in my arms and I am crying and Ralph is crying and the whole room is full of a collective soft and surprised murmur. I am holding my child to my chest and saying, “I can’t believe it, I can’t believe it” over and over, feeling so filled with surprise and happiness. The child is perfect and so soft and I feel wonderful. I realize I have done it, I have given birth to a healthy baby in my own home, with my own power.
April 7th, early morning – getting to know you
I stay in the water crying and holding my baby for several minutes before anyone thinks to discover the baby’s sex. I hold my newborn away from my chest and in between squirming legs and the umbilical cord I see we have a boy! Of course, this is perfect. Everything feels perfect! After a few more minutes I am ready to get out of the water and get cleaned up, but I know we have to wait for the delivery of the placenta. I feel like this takes forever but it probably is only a fifteen minute wait. Another surprising feeling of fullness and then the placenta is delivered. Kathy has to pull the cord a bit and gently massage my tummy to get the whole thing in one piece. My mom is on the phone with my dad and has to pass the phone around so she can cut the cord. I am ready to get out and dry off and nurse my second child.
I am helped out of the tub and into some dry clothes. I am so happy to have so much loving help. I prop myself up on the bed and hold my son to my breast. He latches almost immediately like a pro. I keep asking my husband, “Is this really happening?” because it has gone like a dream and I am so happy. After some time of nursing the midwife eventually takes my son to the foot of the bed to weigh him and check his limbs and reflexes. Elizabeth brings me food — cheese, bread, apples and oranges. My pulse is checked and found to be high (100) so I am encouraged to drink a huge glass of water (this happened with my first child, too). My afterpains are intense, more so than with my daughter’s birth, but I know this to be normal. I breathe through them. My daughter Sophie wakes up and is brought into the room, looking cranky and confused. I kiss her and introduce her to her brother (she is unimpressed) and Ralph takes her back to the bedroom to settle her back to sleep. Kathy checks my bottom out and finds only two tiny tears, no need for sutures. The energy of the house is settling, people are packing things, Elizabeth says goodbye. Laura leaves too and I take a shower with Kathy’s help. She stays long enough to give postpartum instructions and asks me to page her when I can pee. I am a little anxious about this myself, for vague fear of a catheter. Kathy leaves about 3:20 and as her car is pulling out I am able to pee, feeling now finally that everything is alright.
My husband is looking dead tired. I am wired and unable to sleep. We send my mom off to bed. I hold my son who is still awake! He is drowsy though and wants to snuggle. At about 4:30 AM I finally fall asleep on the bed, Ralph on the couch, holding his son. We are awakened just before 7 AM to the joyful sounds of our firstborn running through the house talking excitedly to Grandma. Grandma looks like she really needs a cup of coffee.Read More
I am the mother to a teenager as of today. As of today, I only have one child who’s still a child, still a tween. One child who sleeps in the home, who creeps in my bed. Another who has set her foot on the twisted and dark path, through the forest.
As of today, I don’t have two children gamboling under foot. Today I watched a father who did, who had a little one. Those days are gone, they slipped through my fingers. I enjoyed every moment, every bit, but that doesn’t mean I was ready to see them go.
Today, I have a daughter who is a young woman. Never again will her fields contain childhood until the day, perhaps, she stoops to catch up children of her own.
Today is auspicious indeed. It marks that blossoming of hope, that cause for celebration: a child who’s survived childhood. Intact, with a lot of fierce love blooming in her chest, with a lot of laughter.
My daughter is my hope, my strength, my roots but then she is the green shoot out of the wet earth. She is my strength and grows tall like a tree. She is a fierce prickly thorn in a rose and she is the sunset when its impossible beauty takes your breath away. She is stronger, kinder, more intelligent, less spoiled than I and than anyone I know. She is my heart.
She is my heart!
We took a page out of Phoenix’s 2013 birthday trip, and headed off to Tacoma today. We had a carload of rumpus!
I seriously cannot with five preteens. As in, cannot believe how wonderful they are! Here I’m just ordering them buckets of chocolate milk because we were on the first leg of the trip and had to get from point A to point B etc.
They were all grownup and ordered salads with their meal! Instead of applesauce. One child ordered applesauce, then hid it from view when this choice was remarked upon. Can you tell which child?
And then – off to the zoo!
So like, in no way was our sole male attendee shunned by the girls… but neither was he particularly invited in when they’d cluster up like this. Which gave me no small amount of amusement!
Rarely do I regret having just a phone camera (and no training) – but failing to capture the African Red Tip Starfish is one of these times. Gorgeous!
Six tigers sighted – including these little tigers. Some feistiness in the tiger enclosure. They are wonderful animals!
So, this lobster was massive. I found the other zoo attendees comments about eating him quite insensitive. Isn’t it exploitive enough he’s in a cage being bored off his ass – or whatever lobsters have for asses?
UM A DADDY SEAHORSE, PREGNANT
Her last day of being twelve. Excuse me, I have something in my eye!
And after the zoo – I got us to Krispy Kreme. Because, hello!
Home to yoga, and delivering a meal to a new family with a brand-new baby, and unwinding a bit before crashing into bed.Read More
Today was my 38th birthday. I took a picture first thing: before shower, before makeup, before dressing – before my first cup of coffee, even.
I had a wonderful day out with family and friends. I woke to a few gifts in the post – a large parcel of treats, and a package of yummy socks. My good friend E. picked me up and we headed to Olympia for this and that. While there, Nels and I each got a haircut – he made quite a change!
We shopped, ate food, picked up a few things, and headed back to town to reunite with the family.
After we got into town, I ran off to the yoga studio and sweated it up pretty profusely on the mat – nursing my injured shoulder all the while, of course.
Dinner at the local Rediviva – where the chef made me something special. More flowers, and a few moments with friends and my mother.
My mom made a homemade cake – a white cake with fresh berries. She made separate cupcakes for the restaurant workers too. Because that’s how she rolls.
I don’t have a picture of this – but Ralph found and paid a violinist to serenade me with “Happy Birthday”. Every year my husband finds a way to surprise me, and every time it’s something very special. It occurs to me now that he is providing a wonderful example for our children. I hope I am doing the same.
Home again – finally – and I snap a picture of Phoenix, who researched how to tie a sarong, so she could dress up for me this evening. Of all the wonderful, amazing gestures and gifts today this was the most unexpected. She is a lovely lass and as you can see – I am very grateful.
Flowers from a friend, flowers from my husband, gifts in the post: chocolate and clothing and candy and sweets.
My house is full of gifts, and warmth.
My body, tired from this evening’s yoga. My cough is a bit deeper and I look forward to rest.
I am, as always, quite grateful for the love I receive on my birthday. The loving generosity of family and friends is always humbling, and always wonderful.
I am currently soliciting donations so we four can have a modest, 6-day Lake vacation – including a gathering for Ralph’s birthday!
As per usual, the support I receive online (through email, this site, Facebook, and Twitter) has been wonderful since the ten-plus years. This last year we’ve had a hard time with a few extra medical expenses, car trouble, and a lot of extra layout re: counseling for family trauma. That said, this is how Life works and I get that! We are hoping we can have our six days at the Lake as a vacation is good for anyone who can have one. If you can help in any way, it is appreciated. May I just offer my sincere gladness to those who read here, and those who comment or email, IM, tweet, or text. You are the reason I keep writing.
Thank you for reading and supporting in the many ways you do!
In other news, I launched a new website this month – B-movie BFFs! (tonight’s fare – 1977’s Crater Lake Monster; if you’d like to watch with us, follow the instructions as per the site). This is the home of my ridiculous “Sea Hunt” project; upcoming you can expect my spoiler-free review of Season 2 of “Hemlock Grove”.
I have been trying to find a B-movie podcast I can promote through the site, so I’ve been listening to those to find a good fit. Most of them are male-dominated and not as tightly-produced as I’d like to recommend. Yesterday I tried, then rejected one that had extremely offensive humor right from the get-go. Currently I’m listening to a couple young(-sounding) British lads who definitely watch the kind of movies I want to be talking about, and have a great sense of humor as well. Let’s hope I’ve found a podcast I can call home!
Ralph is, of course, trying to convince me to put forth my own podcast (hardcore fans of all things Hogaboom will remember my one-off in this regard back in, I think, 2010). It sounds like a lot of work but, as I’ve had so much fun building my site and creating my “Sea Hunt” ringtones (HUGE NERD ALERT), I am nonetheless tempted!Read More