August 2019: My Labor Story

I took a 4 month break from writing because I was blessed with giving birth to my little boy 3 weeks earlier than expected. I honestly didn’t place any expectations on how my actual birth would go other than knowing that I wanted to greet my little one with as much calm as I could. Would I be able to stay calm or would the pain of labor take over any calmness and completely derail my intent? I did not make hard statements like, “I won’t take an epidural or I will only breastfeed.” I just said to anyone that asked if I had a birthing plan that I would try to do what I could as best I could and see what happens.

The other day, someone asked me about labor and how scary was it or if it was really bad because no one really talks about it.  It’s true: not many people talk about the details of birth because it is such a personal thing. I did tell her my story to shed some light on things and granted, I went into some more details with this friend than I will on a piece of paper, but this is a summary of my birthing experience in hopes that it eases and answers some questions for those who are curious.

As it turns out, my water broke at work and I wasn’t completely sure it was my water at first or if my son had just decided to put his entire weight on my bladder. I didn’t assume anything, and being of this uncertainty, I approached everything calmly. Over the phone, the doctor told me I had to go right to the hospital and I responded that I needed to first take care of my pup (my first child) before I could go to the hospital. She agreed to this, but told me to not linger at home to do anything else.

So, after I finished up something I was in the middle of, I let my colleague know what was going on. He responded very excitedly, “What can I do for you?” to which I responded almost laughing- I just really need a diaper at this point because my pants are soaking wet. Again, I informed someone else at work I had to leave for the hospital and was told again, “Wow, you’re so calm!” Surprisingly, I honestly did feel very peaceful and calm.

My colleague helped me into an Uber and I did as the doctor requested: after taking care of my pup, I grabbed the first taxi I saw to NYU hospital. The doctor quickly confirmed my water broke but because I was not yet feeling contractions, they would have to induce me.

As a preparation for the intensity of labor, I had done prenatal pilates twice a week throughout my entire pregnancy, spoke with a friend who hypnobirthed, and I studied how people breathe when they do hypnobirthing. Epidural or not, ultimately the goal for me was to stay comfortable and calm during the most painful and difficult moments of labor while still being safe for the baby and myself. This helped me be less scared about childbirth. As I walked into the hospital, I tried to think about this approach.

However, after laboring all night with an IV of Pitocin and a balloon that is put in the cervix to induce labor, I had what they call a “failed induction.” My body would not dilate past 5cm. Therefore, I had to have a C-section. The entire night laboring was uncomfortable and at times very painful. The balloon was especially uncomfortable, but I was somehow able to breath through the surges of contractions with no epidural.  I wasn’t trying to be any superhero by not taking an epidural, but because of the induction meds, they were not able to measure my progress and if they couldn’t tell me how much I was dilated, I didn’t want an epidural.

Despite the pain all night of laboring, I really did stay calm, and while the C-section was definitely not fun, they got my baby boy out safe and sound.

Labor always seems so scary because it is the unknown, but as my friend who has a number of children has reminded me multiple times: “Your body knows what to do; let it do its job. Trust it.”  Once again, the universe has taught me a very large lesson in going with the flow and placing trust in yourself that you can get through the surges in labor and in life.

P.S.I typed half of this newsletter with one hand as my infant slept on top of me and the other half the next day while feeding him with one hand and typing with the other. We must all figure out how to make things work for our different lifestyles.  Its my new normal and it isn’t always easy, but I am blessed.

March 2019: What’s Your Purpose?

I was having a conversation with a friend who had recently quit their job they had disliked for years. They got to a point where they decided it was time to go, even though they didn’t have another job in place.  The decision required many lifestyle changes, including selling a home. Since they were single, their new free time would allow them to finally get the dog they felt they couldn’t get when working full time. Months later, another friend ran into this person and commented that to their surprise, they appeared much more mentally and emotionally healthy than probably ever before.

Personally, I know this person was probably happy to get rid of the job that they disliked, but really, I knew why they were healthier…

“It’s the dog,” I thought to myself.

Why? Well, in my experience, dogs provide a sense of purpose.

Now, this newsletter isn’t all about dogs, but it is about purpose, something everyone needs. People create their sense of purpose via their job,  family, extended family, caring for a loved one, having a job that cares for others, or through animals. We all need a sense of purpose, and if we don’t have one, unhappiness- and even depression- sets in.  If you or someone you know seems unhappy, ask yourself, “What is my or their purpose?” If there is one, it should be clear. If one has not surfaced for you naturally, one must create their sense of purpose to feel balanced.  It’s how we are wired as human beings. We are here for each other no matter how introverted some of us may be.

I am in a purposeful transition now myself, and it’s uncomfortable and exciting. I will need to trust a bit of the unknown for it to unfold for me. Even today, I had a hard day and I didn’t know why. I just knew I didn’t feel my usual self, so I did my best to just come home and lay low: eat a healthy dinner, let myself relax and not force anything– just be in the not-feeling-great mood and trust that I would figure out how to get the yuckiness to go away.  I’m 35 weeks pregnant and it is not the most comfortable thing. The weight of carrying a baby can be a lot on your system some days, and the amount of hormones going through my system to support this little being are at a high.

I finally decided I needed to meditate because I hadn’t meditated in many, many weeks. I don’t meditate on a daily basis, but I do usually find times to meditate in my own way on a somewhat regular basis.  I put on a guided meditation and immediately I could feel my system calm. It was exactly what I needed. My head felt clearer and I needed my spirit to remind me that not only is my body in transition with a baby due in about five weeks, but my purpose is in transition too.  Again, this was a reminder that I must be patient. Even though the yuckiness I felt earlier is not completely gone, it has lifted significantly because when it all comes down to it, I know it is both my body and my sense of purpose that is being shifted. I must learn to embrace it in order to feel my peaceful, happy self again.

Sometimes your purpose comes to you, sometimes you have to create it, sometimes it’s just not clear, and sometimes you are in transition to your new purpose.  Be patient with purpose- it’s a soulful creation that doesn’t need to be forced. It may need to be sought, but never forced.

www.solitarygenius.com Updated Website

I’m happy to write that my book website, Solitary Genius is now updated.  Specifically, a new Resources tab has been created  for educators who use Solitary Genius as a part of their course curriculums. Coming soon, I will also add a Discussion Guide for Speech-Language Pathology/Audiology and Education classes, along with Extension Activities.  If you know of any educator, parent or student who you feel may find Solitary Genius of interest, please do pass my website link along as it is ALWAYS appreciated.

Where oh where have I been for over a year now?

Working. Yes, working like crazy.  You see that house in the picture that the dogs are running toward in the distance?  That was my modern day Downton Abbey this past summer. It wasn’t a leisurely summer, I can assure you of this fact.  I’ve been back in the city since mid September and it’s taken me until now to actually find some time to sit down and write. Wow,  I’ve missed my writing.  It’s good to be back.

Go see The Monuments Men.

The Monuments Men is the story of a group of men in WWII who rescued some of the greatest art in history stolen by Nazi theives. I LOVE this movie.  No, it’s not the action packed Hunger Games type movies that we have these days, but it’s a true story of WWII history that we should all know. There are so many heroes during any war whose stories aren’t in books or on a movie screen and I’m happy this one made it to the big screen.  My grandfather,  Lieutenant Colonel Charles A. Grennan had his own stories of bravery during WWII that will most likely never make it to the big screen, but hopefully will be preserved and passed on through family generations.  Lieutenant Colonel Charles A. Grennan was an Engineer in charge of  the 294th Engineer Combat Battalion. I know from my Mother that during his service he saved all of his men by getting each and every one of them off a sinking ship to safety. Another interesting fact is that as a head engineer of his Battalion he had an artist with him at all times to render drawings and with that, our family has original drawings from WWII of pontoon bridges that he built to get troops across the Rhine River and other waterways.  He would name some of those bridges he built in Europe after our family.  I wish I knew more, but I don’t.  I do imagine The Monuments Men story would make my Grandfather proud.  That is, proud that one of his many granddaughters knows one more triumph that his sacrifices and all those in service made during such a heart wrenching time in history.