Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A love note for my girls

Your dad says I have the memory of an elephant, or is it that elephants have GOOD memories? I can never remember. I think I read somewhere that we think one thing about elephants, but it's actually the opposite, so now I always think the opposite, which is bad because I don't remember what the opposite actually is.

Your dad says I have a bad memory. I have an especially bad memory when it comes to the birth of you precious girls. You'd think one of the most life-changing moments of my life would cause my mind to easily retain each minutia and detail, but sadly, it doesn't. Your dad is better at remembering than me.

People will ask me, "How was it with your first child?"

"Oh, not too bad," I'll answer.

And your dad will say, "No, it was bad. You were cranky all the time and frustrated and basically a zombie."

"Oh, yeah. I forgot that part."

So I'm writing this down for your sakes. I'm not sure you'll have the exact same experience as me when it's your time to have children, but if genetics plays into it, maybe you will. And maybe it will be nice to know your mom has experienced feelings you have had.

Unless, of course, you find yourself unable to have children. Or maybe you don't find someone you'd really like to marry. In the case of any of these situations occuring in your life, I will seek out some very good mentors and cull their brains for advice and comfort to give you. Aunt Amy would be a good starting point. And I'll put my arms around you and love you regardless.

So let me tell you about what it was like to have Lehua. It was generally the same for all of you, but maybe your dad can correct me on that. However, with Lehua, I was induced. Being induced was very similar to going into labor naturally, except the nice nurse anesthetist hooked me up to the wonderful anasthesia before the pitocin reached my blood stream and the heavy contractions set in. Therefore, I was on a happy cloud for the whole delivery. With you other three, I experienced moments of strong contractions and even made it to 8 1/2 cm dilated with Melissa before finally getting some anasthesia.

Maybe you'll decide to have your children "naturally," but don't feel guilty if you don't. Your ol' mom was too chicken to try birth without pain medications.

From the time the pitocin was injected to the time of Lehua's birth was approximately two hours. A couple of pushes and she was out. Dr. Watabe was the doctor who delivered Lehua. Dr. Watabe is a great doctor, and we share a common bond: triathlon. He was the doctor who gave me the go ahead to train for the Hawaii Honu Half-Ironman after Nohea was born. So mostly we talk about triathlons on my doctor visits.

Dad says Lehua came out very peacefully with a smile on her face. All the nurses agreed that it really did look like a smile was on her face. I find it a beautiful analogy for the Plan of Salvation: a soul filled with joy after finally arriving with her earthly family. But it didn't take long before her lungs filled with air and she was crying. Perhaps another analogy of how sad and harsh this world can be.

Immediately after Lehua was born, the nurses placed her on my chest for skin-to-skin contact with mom. There's nothing like the feeling of having a wet newborn on your chest. It's glorious. After some time, the nurses took Lehua and dried her off and weighed her and gave her an apgar score of 8.

And then things quieted down and congratulations and greetings were said as nurses and the doctor left us alone. I nursed Lehua while Dad took a nap.


The hardest...thing...I...have...ever...done. And that includes my half Ironmans. For some people, nursing comes easy. For others, it's completely awful. For yours truly, it was the latter. Lilia, unfortunately, took the brunt of my nursing learning curve. I was cracked and bleeding and in pain for a solid 2 1/2 months, and on one of the most sensitive parts of the female anatomy. The only thing that kept me going was this idea that for some people, it doesn't hurt. I wanted to get to that point to see if it really was true; that nursing actually doesn't hurt. That stubborness is what kept me going. And I did get there. With the other three of you, I was more experienced and kept myself from cracking, so the pain only lasted around three weeks.

I tell you this so that if you have to quit nursing because of the pain, don't beat yourself up. Your Grandma Christenson and Great-Grandma McEuen didn't nurse all of their children. But if you keep it up, I understand your pain. Call me up and I'll be there with lanolin and comfort.

Grandma Christenson

Which brings me to my mom, your Grandma Christenson. If there's a reason I'm half way sane today it's because your grandma is a saint of all womenhood. She came to help me out for each of your births.

With Lehua, I really put Grandma to work, and Grandpa too when he came down to visit for a day. We rearranged furniture to fit Lehua's crib into her room; fixed the garbage disposal (via a plumber that Grandma paid for); planted some roses and peppers; and basically just caught up with things I needed done. Grandma was very cheerful throughout it all, and she paid for everything. I always feel a little bit bad when Grandma pays for things, but your dad asked me, "How would you feel if you tried to do nice things for your girls and they just felt bad about it? Just be happy and grateful for her help." And that hit home for me. So girls, if I offer to pay for things after you have your children, just take it and be grateful, and that will make me very happy.

No one knows how to comfort like Grandma Christenson. She made me any meal I requested, and no one makes fried chicken like Grandma. She joyfully watched you girls when I needed a nap after a long night of nursing and crying. And she especially showed compassion when the postpartum depression set in.

I remember the depression setting in longer with Lilia. Because Grandma was still teaching, she could only stay with me for a few days. But after she went home to Idaho, she would call me everyday for two weeks to ask how I was feeling. Sometimes I just cried a lot on the phone. But other times I felt strong.

Postpartum depression is a pretty crappy feeling. I tried not to affect others when I felt its dark tenticles creeping into my psyche, but your dad always knew when I was off, and he'd offer to take us out to dinner or take you girls somewhere so I could get a break. I think he was secretly fearful of me hurting you.

But for me, postpartum depression didn't bring on thoughts of suicide or hurting you girls. I was more just fearful and hopeless. I also felt overwhelmed. Sometimes having people visit helped, and other times I just wanted people to stay away. I also wanted Kulani and you girls close by as if we could all be wrapped up in a cacoon and push the rest of the world away.

Luckily with Lehua, the depression only lasted about a week. Having her in the summertime really helped my mood.

Normalcy takes a while to set in after having a child. My cousin Carol used to say, "If I can make it to the baby's first birthday, than it's easy sailing from there." Carol has had seven or eight kids while living in a 1,000 square foot apartment, so I believe anything she tells me about raising kids.

Plus, as you know, Hawaiians like to celebrate a child's first birthday with a huge luau. Historically, Hawaiian babies often times died before reaching the one-year milestone, so making it a year was cause for celebration, and also an indication that the child would live until adulthood.

And so the circle of life goes. In each of you I can sometimes see glimpses of your grandmothers from my side and your dad's side. I love to think of our ancestors rooting for us on the other side: Go Team Fisher Girls!

Seeing you girls grow up is the most joyful thing in the world to me. I want you to know how much your father and I love you and want the best for you. I hope to be able to watch you and care for you as you traverse this life and reach milestones far greater than even you may dream.


MarySquare said...

Bawling over here.

Can't wait to see you all!

Amo said...

Cindster, this was great. It's inspiring me to tell my kids about the first time we saw them and what it was like. But for Lilia, I will always remember her birth. I'm so glad you let me come witness her birth -- even if I made you laugh at inopportune moments. It gives me some education when the time comes to help my own girls when they have babies. On the other hand, maybe I'll just suggest they go see Aunt Cindy!

Mama Hen said...

Trying to catch up on my blogging, and got distracted and read yours. This is such a beautiful post. Like Mary, I too, am crying. Being a mother is the greatest gift and most important job I have. While, I have made mistakes along the way, my children have never doubted my love for them, as I show it in every way possible. I loved reading about your mom. I love her so much, she was and is such an influential person in my life. My best memories are spending the summer with you all in ID. Congrats honey on beautiful Lehua, if she looks like you, more power. You are beautiful inside and out, and I am blessed you are a part of me! I love you Cindy, and you are a wonderful mommy!