Daisy is THREE! Our vivacious little girl had a fantastic birthday on Sunday and we had our first gathering in our new home. I loved looking into the backyard and seeing kids running around and playing… just as it should be.

Of course Daisy’s birthday had me reflecting on the day of her actual birth. As a doula, I truly believe that birthdays are just as much for the mother as for the child. Daisy’s birth was rough. I was lucky to have my wonderful midwife, doula and of course Ethan by my side and we were able to deliver at home. However, Daisy’s positioning wasn’t ideal and my labor stalled for several hours during which I clearly remember thinking- after this I can handle anything parenting throws my way. And then after she finally delivered, after 24 hours of insanity, she came out pink as can be, but not breathing. There was no celebratory cry from those little lungs, so our midwife got right to work giving her breaths until she came around. Once Daisy started breathing, I remember thinking- after THAT I can handle anything parenting throws my way. Little did I know that our greatest challenge was still ahead. I was so blissfully naive.

Ezra’s birth was totally different- it was fast and manageable. I felt more centered and connected to my breath and it really was a beautiful birth. That first night I did not sleep for a single second. He was so very still and quiet. Too still and quiet. I felt like a first time mom- needlessly worrying about my child breathing. I kept placing a finger under his nose to feel the breath. I would focus on his abdomen to make sure I could see it rise and fall. 5 months later, I find myself still doing these things. Ezra’s sleep is erratic. He might nap for an hour, or only for 20 minutes. Overnight he is up every 30 minutes. For the past week, Ethan has been doing the cough machine and suction treatments for Ezra in the middle of the night. We know he needs one when he wakes himself up crying and I’m not able to soothe him back to sleep with nursing. He will start coughing this quiet little ineffective cough and he can’t catch his breath. He is so helpless and the cough machine, as awful as it is, helps Ethan feel a little less helpless. After the treatment, Ezra is red-eyed and exhausted from crying so hard. But his congestion is better, and he will usually sleep for a solid hour. This provides much needed rest for all of us.

I’ve been thinking about how I’ve handled previous challenges in my life. I like to gather a range of perspectives- namely through reading what the “experts” have to say. Along with that, when putting something together, I like to follow directions. It is comforting to know that there are instructions that will spell out the steps of how to complete a project. After my mom died, I received a few copies of the book Motherless Daughters. These thoughtful gifts were so well intentioned, but to this day I have not been able to read it. The self help departments of book stores are full of books telling us how to handle any number of tragedies in our lives and they are seemingly written for people like me who like to be given instructions on how to fix things.  More recently I have been encouraged by several sweet friends and relatives to seek counseling help. Having studied counseling in grad school, I would probably be encouraging a friend to do the same thing. And I’m sure that I will at some point need to find a counselor to process all of this. The reality is that I know no amount of talking, or reading will change this for Ezra or our family. I can talk till I’m blue in the face, and I can read a hundred books about how to cope with grieving,  but it still doesn’t alter the fact that I am going to have to someday figure out how to live without my little boy. There are no instruction manuals of how to recover from this, no directions for what to do. I feel lost. But just as with my birth experiences, I have to both breathe through and embrace the process and trust that I will find my way.