Category Archives: Birth

Cross post from Amanda

Amanda has written for Woah Baby a few times, and remains my hero when it comes to writing a meaningful and engaging blog. She’s expecting her first baby ANY DAY NOW and just wrote this amazing post about her expectant state. With her permission I share it here, and I encourage you to follow her blog if you don’t already.

You know how pop culture tells you pregnancy is a 9-month-long affair?

Pop culture is full of shit.

Your due date is set for week 40 of your pregnancy. 40 weeks, divided by 4 weeks a month… that’s 10 months. Yep.

I’m currently in the middle of week 38. And at this point, pregnancy has turned into a waiting game. When will she make her appearance? Today? Tomorrow? In 4 weeks? (Docs usually wait til week 42 to induce labor, barring any complications.)

Here’s the thing: Patience has never been my strong suit.

But I gotta say, I think I’ve been pretty fucking heroic in terms of patience these past few weeks, amidst increasing physical discomfort. Really, at this point, pregnancy just starts to feel like one indignity after another. To wit: I’ve previously mentioned my middle-of-the-night crab-walks to the bathroom; well, they’re only getting worse. The pain is excruciating — truly, searing pain from the pressure on my bladder, to the point that I’m afraid I won’t be able to walk the five feet to the bathroom and will need Jordan to bring me a chamber pot or something. (Note: We do not own a chamber pot.)

Chamber pot: not on our registryAdd to that: feet and ankles that are fat and swollen (the only shoes that fit these days are flip flops); dull pain in my left hip and thigh that makes it impossible to lie on my left side (sciatica?); a belly so itchy you’d think it was covered in poison ivy; and, lately, recurring (mild) headaches. Walking around the block exhausts me, and I gave up on the subway a few weeks back because the stairs were just killing me — so now we’re slowly spending our life savings on cabs to and from Manhattan for our weekly doctor’s appointments. Oh, and I snore so loudly that Jordan needs to wear ear plugs in order to sleep.

Hooray! The miracle of life!

Now, I know I sound negative, but I’ve actually been pretty Zen about all this. I don’t constantly feel sorry for myself or complain. First, I’m grateful that she’s healthy, and I’m healthy — I’ll take discomfort over serious health issues any day. Second, my friend Katie advised me to think about this phase of pregnancy (and labor… and new-parenthood…) as a yoga practice, and that metaphor really works for me: These discomforts are like challenging yoga poses, and I need to breathe my way through them, rather than fight them, resent them, hate them. Kicking and screaming just exhausts you and makes you unhappy. Giving up — well, you can opt out of a difficult pose in yoga class, but there’s no opting out of the reality of my body these days. Acceptance, while difficult, is really the only path forward. That said, as with a difficult yoga pose — you can and should certainly make adjustments, and breathe, to find equanimity; suffering is not the goal. The goal is to be able to coexist peacefully with discomfort, and maybe to discover potential and abilities you didn’t know you had. And if I can do that now, my chances of doing it during labor, and as a new mom, are bound to increase.

Also, as much as I want the Hirschling to make her grand debut, so that (a) I can finally meet her! and hold her! and (b) I can end the discomfort of pregnancy, I also realize that as soon as she comes, I will miss this. There is a sweetness to these days, and sometimes it’s hard to see beneath all the discomfort, but — Jordan and I will never be on the verge of having our first baby, ever again. We are on the cusp of something huge, and when we look back, from the other side, it will be hard to remember what it felt like.

It feels like: Let’s go on a lot of dates, even though it means springing for a taxi or taking two buses to get to our destination, since I can’t take the subway. Let’s cook dinner and eat it with Cosmo lying on his spot on the carpet, waiting for permission to get up and sniff for any crumbs we might have dropped. Let’s watch multiple episodes of “Parks and Recreation” or “Bored to Death” or “Breaking Bad” and eat ice cream (well, Stonyfield organic frozen yogurt) on the couch. Let’s sit on the deck and listen to the rain on the roof. Let’s read in bed, with Cosmo at our feet, until we tell him it’s time for bed, at which point, he dutifully climbs down the pet stairs to his dog bed, below.

Let’s try to relax, as terrified as we are, as excited as we are, as expectant as we are.

“Expectant” is the right word; truly, it’s not just me that’s pregnant — our lives are pregnant. With anticipation. With wondering. We’re scared of the change ahead of us, no matter how many workshops we may teach on rolling with the punches. We know we’ll roll — it’s what we do, and we probably do it better than most…not that it’s a competition, but it’s a strength we have, as a couple.

But — what we’ve had for these almost-13 years of marriage, and these almost-18 years of being together, is so special, and we’re worried that she will jeopardize that. That having a child will jeopardize our freedom to pursue our creative interests, our passion for travel, our need for down time.

We embarked on this journey because — well, for a lot of reasons, that are hard to sum up in a sentence, or two, or three. And now, with my due date just over a week away… it’s like staring down a path that curves, and you can’t see around the bend, no matter how much you strain; and you can’t help straining to see, no matter how much you realize that straining is silly… that it’s just a matter of taking a step, and then another, and another.

Other travelers tell you what they’ve seen, but their words don’t conjure your own journey; you know you’ll see something different, through your own eyes. That the terrain will feel different, under your feet.

And you worry: what dangers might there be? Maybe you should have stayed home, should have avoided this journey altogether.

(That is a hard thing to write. It makes me feel like a bad person. But it’s the truth.)

And then — she kicks, and our faces light up, and metaphors melt away. Fear and doubt melt away. She isn’t an abstraction — she’s… her. And I am overcome with yearning — the yearning to HOLD her, after all this time. And a feeling of peace comes over me, the peace that comes from faith… my deep and abiding faith in anything that grows from our love.

And so… we wait.

[Chamber pot photo by Flickr user Walter Aue. All other photos are by Jordan or me.]

Amanda Hirsch uses social media and snappy writing to increase the visibility, reach and impact of Good Things, from indie media projects to cultural organizations and health/wellness start-ups.

In addition, she is the co-founder (with husband, Jordan) of THINK IMPROV, a company that grew out of their workshops at SXSW (audience favorite 2010). They help people apply the concepts of improv comedy to improve their lives and work.

Follow Amanda on Twitter @Amanda_Hirsch, and her blog at


To my friend, awaiting the birth of her daughter

I wanted to let you know you’ve been on my mind the last few days. I don’t know how to express the feeling other than to say that if I were the type to do so, I’d be offering you a blessing. You will learn so much about yourself in the days ahead – wonderful things. If I have any advice or wisdom to offer, it is this: I know you are a person who has experienced what it is to get your mind and body and spirit in harmony to help yourself accomplish difficult things. What makes you able to do that, will make you able to give birth to your daughter. Welcome it like you welcome the challenge of an unsettling yoga posture. And not just the birth itself, but everything – welcome the waiting, the awkwardness of the end of pregnancy, the pushing, the nursing, the sleeplessness, the almost unbearable joy and the almost unbearable differentness of it all. When you emerge in a few months from the fog of pregnancy and new parenthood, you’ll have a new limberness and strength you never thought was possible.

I am happy beyond words for you and grateful to know you, and to be able to know you as you become a mom.

Break a leg.

Del’s Birth Story v1.0

Del Giacomo Walls, 12/8/11

I’m so happy to say our son is here and is wonderful! Del was born on December 8, at 11:06 pm. He weighed a charming seven pounds even, 20 3/4 inches long, and nursed with me in the delivery room as if it was his job to teach me how it’s done. He’s beautiful beyond words, we are achingly in love with him, and on top of everything, he’s what they must mean when they say “an easy baby” – at least so far.

I feel like there are half a dozen different ways I could tell his birth story, all of them the truth. There’s the version where the home birth was everything I wanted it to be, even though we ended up at the hospital for a little help at the end, and is both the hardest and coolest thing I’ve ever done. There’s the version where I am sad to have lost the precious opportunity to have birthed into my midwife’s hands in my own bedroom.  There’s the version where I am grateful that my amazing birth team supported me though 32 hours of labor at home and though a very challenging four in the hospital, and a patient obstetrician gave us some time, to see me through to a beautiful vaginal delivery in a place where the odds were stacked against that outcome. And there’s the version where I am outraged over how I was treated from the moment I sat on the hospital bed, at how my voice was taken from me, and the birth I knew we could have was hijacked by strangers with policies and forms and procedures, and my birth story now includes some of the things I most wanted never to experience. All versions end with joy at the birth of my son, amazement at feeling him move through and leave my body.

I don’t know yet how to tell all of that, all of those versions in one.  This is the first time I am sitting down to write this. Here goes: Continue reading

Walking, and pineapple

So we’ve reached the magical 37 weeks. Red Bean can come any time he or she is ready! After a couple of weeks “taking it easy”, I was thrilled to have beautiful weather and a long weekend to spend with Zach.

Weird dried fish in the Jamaican market!

We spent all day Saturday out walking. He took me to one of the weird and cool places we have here in DC – the Florida Street Wholesale Markets. I think that’s what it’s called. It’s a bunch of warehouses selling largely wholesale foods and produce for restaurants and corner stores in DC. Several sell retail to the public as well. Since the markets are spread out, we walked around several blocks and strolled through all the weird ethnic places – filled with dried fish, grains, rices, flours and spices of all kinds, meats both familiar and unfamiliar. I bought four perfect mangos in one market, and elsewhere, several kinds of lentils and peas. We finished up at the coolest Italian market, Latteri’s, where I loaded up on canned San Marzano tomatoes for sauce, some pastas and six bottles of wine. Continue reading