Tag Archives: katie mauro zeigler

Labors of Love: My Latest from The Patch


My latest from the Walnut Creek Patch

http://walnutcreek.patch.com/articles/labors-of-love-stories-of-new-mothers

When I was pregnant with my son, Campbell, the doctor told me I would deliver no later than Feb. 28.

“Have all your hospital things packed and ready to go by the 25th of February,” she said. “This one’s gonna be early.”

February 25 came and left me with nothing more than a fully-inflated birthing ball by the front door. Feb.  28th arrived and I spent the day watching ER reruns on TNT while peeing every 16 minutes. At this point, everyone started to call and ask the dreaded question: “Have you had the baby yet?”

Friends from college, relatives, neighbors. Each with their own wives tales on how to induce birth. Chinese food was what apparently induced my husband and his brother. My godmother suggested buying an eggplant. Not eating the eggplant, mind you, just buying it and putting it on your counter like a vegetable womb.

But despite the sure-fire tricks for bringing this baby into the world, nothing worked. At that point, I felt like Animal Planet would call to include me in a segment on gestational periods of the African elephant. Little contractions came and went and I had dreams that my water broke and flooded the house.

On March 5, I bought the eggplant. Nothing.

Finally, on March 8, my husband told me I had to get out of the house because I was beginning to refer to the 1995 cast of ER as “my friends,” so we went to the Oakland Zoo. The 50 pounds I gained during that pregnancy jiggled through tortoise habitats and lions’ dens until I could not walk any more without fear of collapsing into the otter pool. My husband got me into the car and took me to the local Mexican joint, where I ate a burrito grande and a Sprite.

The next morning, at exactly 3:34 a.m., with the dust of the Oakland Zoo on my feet and salsa in my veins, my water broke. And at 10:50 p.m., my gorgeous 8 pound, 11 ounce son, Campbell, was born. Right on time.

Then I did what I didn’t think I would ever do. I added my tale to the old wives’ roster of birth-inducing tips. I told people the secret was the zoo and Mexican food with all the certainty in the world. People laughed, much as I had laughed at the whole eggplant deal, but I remained steadfast in my conviction. And when I was pregnant with my second son, my husband dutifully took me to the San Francisco Zoo (for a change of pace) and the local Mexican joint, where I had a burrito grande and a Sprite. The next morning, at exactly 4:25 a.m., my water broke. And at 10:54 a.m., my gorgeous 9 pound, 11 ounce son, Brodie, was born.

Nowadays, the story of the birth of my children rarely comes up in conversation. Like the fact that my older son’s doctor dropped the placenta on the floor with a resounding “Whoopsy-Daisy!” or that, at one point during the beginning of my younger son’s delivery, the petite Indian doctor who would bring Brodie into the world looked me in the eye and said, “You will like me. I have very small hands.” Or that during the long labor and seemingly endless contractions, upon finally garnering that epidural, I turned to the nurse on call and said, in a drugged haze, “This is better than a spa!” To which she retorted, “Honey, you’ve got to get yourself to a better spa.”

But for now, we’ve moved on to Little League and backpacks and standardized testing and General Grievous. In this new world of later bedtimes and character-free underpants, it seems that those days back at California Pacific Medical Center and Alta Bates respectively are so long ago I can hardly remember the epidural.

No wait, I remember that very fondly, actually. Quite fondly indeed.

And despite the long labor and the fact that for months after the birth of my first son I walked around as if I’d dismounted a large horse, those two days are, by far, my most precious days … my most exceptional accomplishments … my most shining moments.

For in and among the hospital gowns and disastrous feedings and engorgement came the loves of my life. And for any mother, whether by birth or adoption or fostering, this Mother’s Day brings with it a recognition of what we do on a daily basis to protect and adore and support our children. It also allows us to think back on those first days and the wonder and, at times, sheer terror, of bringing a new little life into our homes and hearts.

I’ve loved gathering similar mom stories from a variety of mothers here and far. Mothers like Joanna, who was convinced that her second child was a boy. So when the doctor announced that she and her husband had a beautiful baby girl, Joanna kept joyfully repeating the word “vagina” to the doctors and nurses.

Or like Amy, who, two days after giving birth to her third child, watched as her middle child was playing in the living room and bumped her hand. “She was convinced she needed a Band-Aid,” Amy said. “I, the recent labor survivor, was not convinced. But she said, ‘Mommy …. it HURTS so BAD!” with exactly the same emphasis I had used two days earlier in labor.

Nancy, a mother of a biological and adopted child, was presented with an adoption opportunity when her first son was a toddler. That did not come to fruition, but she and her husband finished meeting all of the state requirements for adoption. At that time, however, they did not conduct an active outreach to find a child.

Then, three years later, Nancy received a phone call from the agency that said she and her husband had 30 minutes to decide before meeting the baby. Nancy said, “We like to think that our son was created just for us and delivered right to us.” She went on to speak eloquently of the love she has for both of her children. “It really drives home the idea that the connections of parenthood are so little related to genes,” she said. “I can very honestly say that even from the beginning I had the exact same feelings for each child.”

AJ, the mother of two boys, had what many birthing mothers experience – seemingly endless labor. After three epidurals and a litany of check-ups and Pitocin, AJ was finally at the moment when the doctor and nurses tell you to push. Well, push she did. And push. And push. All the while asking, rather unsuccessfully, for a mirror to watch the miracle of her child’s birth.

“I asked for a mirror and then I was told to push, push, push, push, push, push, push, nothing,” she said. “Still no mirror….really nothing, push, push, push, push…still no mirror…push, rest, push, push, push, rest, push, push, push, rest, nothing.” After three and a half hours of straight pushing, her son, a beautiful baby boy (with no mirror in sight) was born.

Finally, there was Amy who spoke of the bond between mothers in that moment of labor and delivery. “My mom was in the delivery room, behind the doctor, watching the delivery,” she said. “During the final pushes, I looked up and saw the excitement and glow in my mom’s face as I was becoming a mother for the first time. I had an overwhelming comfort come over me. I will never forget that moment for so many reasons. Mom and I have had our share of ups and downs, but there was no face I would have rather seen in that moment of transitioning into motherhood.”

It is pretty amazing to think about the role we have played and continue to play in the lives of our children. And that no matter when you birthed your child or was given the gift of your child via a momentous phone call, we are mothers and this Mother’s Day we should be proud of the work we’ve done and the joy we’ve created.

While I was in my delivery room with my first son, my mom and husband took a little break to get something sinful from the vending machine. And my dad stayed behind to be with me. Ever stoic in that mustachioed Italian way of his, my dad wasn’t altogether comfortable as I suffered through three or four contractions in his presence. When my mom finally returned, my dad said in a very soft whisper, “My god. This is hard work.” To which my mom replied, “That’s why they call it labor, Frank.” And labor it is. And yet a labor of love it will always be.

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walk like an egyptian


This week’s art lesson was like a step back in time. not just to Ancient Egypt, but to 1978 when my parents took me to the King Tut exhibit at the de Young in San Francisco and I threw up in a porta-potty. Despite the inauspicious beginnings, that trip was the start of my life-long love affair with all things Ancient Egyptian. From that moment forward, I wanted to be an Egyptologist (and then a Veterinarian, a Pediatrician, a Librarian and, for about a month, a Canadian). So imagine my utter delight at sharing my love of this time and this place with my students! First of all, a few fun facts about hieroglyphics:

  • Hieroglyphic writing began around 5,000 years ago.
  • Egyptians wrote in hieroglyphics up until around 400 AD, after that they wrote in a cursive style called “demotic.”
  • In 1799, a soldier digging in a fort in Rosetta, Egypt found a large black stone with three different kinds of writing on it. The writing was in hieroglyphics, demotic and Greek. People used the “Rosetta Stone” to translate hieroglyphics so that we can understand what the Ancient Egyptians were writing!
  • Some hieroglyphics stand for entire words, while others represent individual sounds, groups of sounds or even syllables.
  • To write an English word in hieroglyphics, you must listen to the sounds that make up the word. Some of the sounds we know in English don’t even exist in hieroglyphics, so any translation, particularly of names, is done with a certain amount of guessing!
  • Hieroglyphics were sometimes read right to left and other times left to right and even top to bottom

Today we talked about the world of Ancient Egypt and the amazing written language developed at that time. We discussed the use of papyrus and stylus instruments in the writing process and tried to decipher what different hieroglyphic symbols might represent. We looked at a variety of books about Ancient Egpyt, a map of the area and got to feel what a real piece of papyrus feels like. Each child was then given a piece of parchment and a rough translation of their name to create their own Egpytian cartouche! These name plates were then placed in frames to be displayed at home.

For some extra fun at home, there are a number of “hieroglyphic translators” available online…I used the “Virtual Egypt” site for this particular class. Try going online and translating your name or other family members’ names! Also, the best way to understand the true wonder of Ancient Egypt is to see some of the artifacts firsthand. For a truly local treasure, the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose is really one of the best museums in the entire Bay Area and is an absolute goldmine of Egyptian relics, artifacts and information. Visit http://www.egyptianmuseum.org/ for more information.  And invite me to go with you! : ) And finally,  James Rumford wrote an amazing book about the translation of the Rosetta Stone titled Seeker of Knowledge: The Man Who Deciphered Egyptian Hieroglyphics. Find it at your local bookstore or library today!

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words and music from shannon curtis (art by me!)


brightest light in the room...original artwork for shannon curtis by katie m. zeigler

for anyone who hasn’t yet fallen in love with singer-songwriter shannon curtis, please visit her website at www.shannoncurtis.net and listen to her amazing voice, gorgeous lyrics and inimitable style. she’s like a cup of tea on an overcast morning and, once you’ve heard her, you’ll never forget her.

and imagine my utter delight at having the opportunity to work with her on artwork for her new album. with her new songs as inspiration, i’ve created original artwork to accompany each new single that debuts. so far, she’s released “brightest light in the room” (which i utterly adore), including an amazing backstory that made its way into the artwork. next on the list is “book of fiction” which, between you, me and the lamppost, is my utter favorite on the album.

shannon is one of those rare artists whose voice and words and style will linger with you long after the last note has played.  how lucky i am to have shared in this journey of song and art with her.

visit www.shannoncurtis.net/store to purchase your first single today!

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the lightness of memory


having recently lost my beloved dad, i’m not quite sure if i’m ready to write about it. i have, at this exact moment, one thousand little things i’d like to say about him and his life and the way i felt about him and yet, that flood of memories and emotions isn’t ready just yet to be shared. it goes without saying that i am heartbroken. grieving. rudderless in all of this. and yet, i don’t want to be silent about him and allow him to disappear. it is too important to me for my boys to know him and continue to know him in his absence. and to feel the full extent of his love for them for the rest of their lives. for now, i can just continue to share little moments of him with them. for their idea of him, their collective memory of him is so rooted in laughter…so deeply entrenched in lightness and a flair for nostalgia that i will remain fiercely protective of that feeling. and despite my utter grief, i want to allow all of the silly, irreverent memories of my dad to rise to the surface buoyantly and permanently so that those ideas, those minutes are an undeniable fact in my life and the life of my sons. i’ll be ready to share them soon. but for now, i’m holding onto them for dear life and allowing their buoyancy and lightness to keep me afloat.

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paper walking


copyright k.t. blue designs 2011

you know me…i couldn’t possibly not put scissors to paper for the 3-Day Walk, so here is my little paper “thank you” to everyone who has donated so far in support of my participation in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk for the Cure. i am honored and humbled and so blessed by the support i have received so far…i am eternally grateful and look forward to, with your support, meeting my goal……10 mile walk this morning…and lots more where that came from…lots of love to you all…

 

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birthday wish list of things i want you to look at and think of me


what with my 25th birthday coming up soon (just smile and go along with it, ladies and gentlemen), and with nothing i really need in the world, i though it’d be fun to put together a little assortment of totally gluttonous items that, should i win the lottery or be a miracle worker, i would purchase for myself. no, not cars or small islands (although i know of a little one in maine i’d like to get my hands on), but rather exquisite pieces of art and handicraft and odds and ends that are worth taking a closer peek at. think of it as my “birthday wish list of things i don’t really want you to buy for me, but just to look at and think of me”..is that better? here we go…

1) first of all, anything laura amiss does is fine by me. her hand-stitched canvases are just some of my favorite things in the whole entire world. and she just came out with a new one that blends my love of her with my love of all things that can be served in coffee cups…this canvas piece, “time for tea” is just extraordinary and i swooned when i saw it. you can visit her etsy shop at http://www.etsy.com/shop/lauraamiss.

copyright laura amiss

 

2) Years ago, I was lucky enough to have one of my favorite artists, Juliette Borda (http://www.julietteborda.com), illustrate a short story I had published. And the gouache she did for my piece, “Out of the Blue”, of my grandmother sitting on the porch of a half-painted house, continues to be one of my favorite pieces of art of all time. So, as my “don’t really get it for me” gift, I’d like the original of that painting. Because I just have the little picture from the magazine framed on the wall of my office and I’d give my right arm for the real thing. Oh, and if you’d like to read the story, here’s the link… http://www.stanfordalumni.org/news/magazine/1999/marapr/articles/fiction_contest.html

3) i’d like to go to summer camp again. yes, i’d like to pack my little blue trunk and fill it with mosquito repellent and a canteen with my name written on it in paint pen and my navy blue keds and go to summer camp at Pacific Summer Adventure in Blairsden, Calif. The camp doesn’t actually exist anymore as it did back then in 1984, but if you could somehow manage to get me back there just in time for the slow dance in the Haven where they play Billy Joel’s This is the Time on a little silver tape player and your one ear gets all sweaty since it’s pressed so tightly to the shoulder of the guy you’re dancing with, that would be great. Please make sure they’re going to play Capture the Flag on the golf course tomorrow and that there will be plenty of Cap’n Crunch at breakfast. Thanks.

summer camp 1984 (please note monotone red ensemble)

4) Portland artist, Amanda Blake, has a collection of gorgeous paintings that, for some reason or another, just move me in a way that art rarely does. Her pieces are whimsical and evocative and a bit haunting and I’d be honored to have one in my home. How to pick just one? I can’t. So I’ll pick two. First,  “mary sailed away from home in a boat filled with flowers”.

copyright amanda blake

 

and then, “tonight her dreams would be beautiful”

copyright amanda blake

you can visit amanda at http://www.thisisalliknow.bigcartel.com.

5) i’m not sure i would ever have the guts to wear it but, for some reason, i can’t stop looking at this hummingbird necklace from rosita bonita. it’s big and loud and exquisite and maybe what i’m saying is that i’d love to be the kind of women who can wear this and get away with it. find this and more at http://www.howkapow.com/humming-bird-necklace-large

copyright rosita bonita

6) and if you can swing it, i’d love to have someone invent a little contraption with a button that, when pressed, will send me directly to the porch of our summer house in maine where i will sit with a cup of coffee and a good book and the smell of lobster juice and butter in the air and the sound of the lobsterboats whirring on the water and my husband’s hand in mine. that shouldn’t be any trouble now, should it?

this is quite good fun, this list is. maybe i’ll think of more. there are eight more days until my birthday after all…

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pumpy


 

rooting around through some old shoe boxes, i came across this picture i drew of my grandfather, pumpy, when i was 14. and it made me smile. not only because it reminded me of his wonderful wavy white hair and the way he always sat with his legs crossed and a finger to his ear, but because he embodied everything kind and wonderful in the world.

 

pumpy

 

 

he’d spend hours sitting in the family room with his electric shaver quietly buzzing around his cheeks. and he always smelled like ralph lauren polo cologne. and he said things like “son of a gun” and “thanks a million” and always pronounced the word “fellow” like “fulah.” and he could never take his eyes off of my grandmother deedles and he called her “miska” and he called me “poots” (don’t ask) and i miss being called that every day of my life.

how lucky i am to live in a world with a grandfather as wonderful as he was.

 

 

 

 

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