Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Be Gentle

In the middle of the mess and chaos, my voice is raised much too high. "Stop it!" They want to touch anything I've put off limits. "Put that down!" There is banging and crashing and noise. "Be gentle!" And then I hear it - that quiet voice - reminding me to listen to my own words. Stop it - stop letting them get the better of me, stop choosing to yell when I could speak in kindness.

Put that down - put down the to do list and allow them to enjoy the presence of their mother, put down the phone and focus on the children.

Be gentle - be gentle with these little people, whoes lives have been entrusted to my care. Remember that they are fragile, and my words make such an enormous difference in their lives. Listen gently without rushing, move gently and not in anger, speak gently instead of harshly.

And most of all, show them love in all things. Take a deep breath, Momma, and just love them.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Educated Decisions

After following "the norm" for years, I started to wonder if there was another, better (for us) way of doing things. I did massive amounts of research and came to discover that the status was not, in fact, quo. Here are a few things that we've decided to do a little differently:
  • Car Seats - while RJ & Eli are beyond the legal limits to be facing front in a vehicle, they are still below the height and weight maximums for rear-facing. Since being turned around lowers their risk of serious injury by about 90%, they won't be looking out the windshield for a while. (Also, they LOVE their 'backwards seats'.)
  • Vaccines - as a white, middle-class family, with no concerning family history, our risk factors for many vaccinated diseases are incredibly low. Coupled with the much higher risk of negative side effects from injecting preservatives and additives into our bloodstreams, we've chosen to opt out of or delay vaccinations. We've found a wonderfully supportive pediatrician in our area who not only agrees with this decision, but also assists in my research.
  • Medicines - instead of handing out antibiotics for childhood illnesses, our pediatrician prescribes essential oils and homeopathic treatments, which is also what we use at home. We've been able to successfully treat many ailments (nausea, swelling & allergic reaction, headaches, gasiness, cold & flu symptoms, etc) naturally, and have seen a quicker, easier recovery in most cases. I still keep a few conventional medicines in the cabinet, just in case, but haven't had need for them in months.
While these things work for our family, they may not be the answer for everyone.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Happy Girl

Her day begins with coos and wiggles;
she waits patiently to be retrieved, only crying when lonely from a long wait.
She nurses happily, breaking off to smile at me or her brothers.
She lights up when she sees her Daddy, and my heart melts.
She plays happily in the walker or bouncy seat while the day spins around her.
She naps with her brothers, giving Momma a much needed break from all the activity.
And she smiles wide when her boys are near.
Content, until she needs attention, slowing growing into a child, where once a baby lay.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Shape

Self-esteem issues are not new to me. I was never the pretty girl, always more awkward than my sisters. Until seventh grade, I was tallest in my class (and really, taller than most others too), and I "blossomed" at 11, years before any of the other girls needed bras or pads. I stuck out, and the kids around me made sure I knew it. 

High school wasn't much better than middle school, except that there were so many more students that I could fade into groups of others like me. Making friends wasn't a struggle, but keeping myself from constant comparison and feels of unworthiness was. 

When I got to college, I finally started to feel like I could truly be myself - which is due mostly to some guy I met who made me feel like I was the most important woman in the world (you better believe I married that one!). But even still, I was never truly comfortable in my own skin. 

For years, I've been looking in the mirror, wishing I could change this or that. You've probably never seen me in a bathing suit - I tell myself it's because I'm modest, but the real motivator is my embarrassment of my appearance; at 14, I chose to join my hot-tubbing friends fully clothed (jeans and all) rather than reveal my unshapeliness. The only time I've ever been truly comfortable with my shape was when I was pregnant - round is most acceptable when you're growing a person. But now, three children later, I find myself loathing the body I'm in. Sure, I could work hard and slowly begin the change it, but then I think, what's the point? If I'm going to keep having babies, I'm going to be right back here again sooner than I would be fit. So instead, I cover up my imperfections as best I can and continue to hide. But for how long? Years? Decades? Honestly, probably for the rest of my life. I've taught myself to hate what I look like, and that's not an easy lesson to unlearn. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Anxiety

I can feel it gripping me even before I recognize the source. My chest tightens, my face flushes, my breath catches. Heart racing, I search frantically for the trigger. Sometimes it's physical, but mostly I'm just lost in my own head. If I can identify the thing that causes it, I can usually talk myself down. It doesn't happen often, but the recovery is tough, regardless. Hours later, I'm still reeling. "Calm down," I tell myself. "You're making too much out of this. Everything is fine." And it will be, soon enough - when I can wrap up in the arms of the man who truly understands me and finally allow myself to relax. But for now, I swallow it back. These small people need me, so I can't freak out. Not yet.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Silence

There are so many things I should be doing right now. The laundry needs to be moved (and folded), dishes are piling up on my counters, toys litter the living room floor. But my children are sleeping, and I haven't taken a moment to write in far too long. At times, the itch sneaks up on me again, and my hand reaches for a pen to put down thoughts on a page. But my attention is so quickly required elsewhere these days, and nothing to be proud of has formulated.

The sounds of slumber echo through this temporarily-quiet house. Soon, small voices will fill this space, but for now, I breathe deeply and reap the benefits of this triple-nap.

I've been absent from this space far too much since the birth of my second child; there are far too many gaps to fill. That second child will soon become a two-year-old, and his baby sister has now spent more than four months outside my body. Time moves so quickly, the moments slip through my fingers before I have a chance to record them. Perhaps a few photos will make up for my lack of wordy updates?


For the record, I'm better at updating via Instagram.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Reaganisms

At three years old, this little man spouts 
some of the most interesting and entertaining musings:
  • "Momma, I'm going to get bigger and bigger and bigger
    and be a daddy and get coffee. I do like coffee ...
    I'm going to get bigger all by myself. And eat a sandwich."

  • "But momma, I don't want hair on my bottom!"
    (He was even more horrified to learn that
    everyone has hair ALL OVER their bodies!)

  • "Daddy's a big strong man. He can get that boat down for me."
    (In reference to a kayak on display in a store)

  • "I don't like meat. I just like chicken."

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Normal

A new normal has settled in around us, almost without notice. It's been 10 weeks now since we welcomed Jo into our lives - sometimes I forget what life was like before. The boys adore having a baby sister & run to help whenever she cries (which at times is much less helpful than they think). No one sleeps as much as Momma would like, but we somehow manage to function regardless.

Our days are full of snacks & games, nursing & naps, mud in the backyard, and bedtime stories. We never knew how much our family needed this little girl, but we couldn't imagine any other life now. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

JoJo's Birth Story

Two weeks ago today, I left the boys with Grandpa and headed up to my midwife's office for my weekly appointment; I told them I'd be back in a couple of hours, kissed them goodbye, and asked them to behave well while I was gone. Less than 8 hours later, I was holding their sister in my arms and Nana & Opa were putting them to bed.
__________

At my midwife appointment, it was determined that my body had progressed to the point that labor was imminent. We talked about 'the plan', since it looked like I would be going into labor in the next day or so. I voiced concern about laboring at home with the boys and being 30-45 minutes from anyone who could help; my midwife could see that I was letting the idea of being in labor at home, alone with two toddlers, get the best of me. She suggested that we consider the option of 'inducing' labor then, which would only consist of breaking my (already bulging) bag of waters and allowing us to labor in the hospital instead of on the highway and to stay in one place instead of trying to move and cope with contractions in the car. Husby and I had already discussed this option that morning, so I readily agreed and headed over to Labor & Delivery.

At about noon, I was admitted to the hospital. Alone. Husby still needed to leave work, pick up my Dad, and bring him to collect my car (which had the only seats for the boys). Our doulas were also on their way, but as I had feared, I was on my own for more than an hour before my 'team' began to assemble. Fortunately, I wasn't technically in labor yet, and was able to answer all of the nurses questions and enjoy a last few minutes of calm before the storm.


Since I was planning an unmedicated birth, I was able to talk the nurses into letting me go without an IV. After Eli's birth, and all the craziness associated with my IV, I was relieved that I didn't have to worry about it. It was understood by all that they had permission to do what was needed in case of an emergency (start an IV, stick me in the thigh, knock me out, whatever), but I was able to be without needles and plastic in my arms for my labor. What a relief!

I was also allowed to wear my own clothes, which I had planned specifically for the type of labor that I wanted. Instead of a hospital gown, which is fairly restricting and uncomfortable, I donned a super soft bikini top and simple black wrap skirt, with a tank top added for some modesty at first. Everything I was wearing could be quickly removed if and when that became necessary, and yet I felt more like myself than some invalid in an institution. (Perception is a huge factor for me in labor!)

At about 12:30, my team was ready and my midwife arrived to break my water. Since I wasn't having steady contractions yet (or really, any at all to speak of), we set out to walk the halls and get Baby Girl moved down into a better birthing position. Without the cushion of her bag of waters, I could feel her head come down as we walked ... and walked ... and walked ... lap upon lap around the Labor & Delivery and Recovery units. Nurses waved and joked with us as we passed them again and again, snacking on some grapes and crackers to keep our energy up.


With a couple of stops back at our room to rest and check my blood pressure, we spent more than 2 hours trying (and failing) to get contractions started. Our doulas suggested a side-lying release to help get my body into a better position, and helped me twist around on the bed to try it out. Right around the same time, we got a new (much friendlier) nurse, who was excited that we were planning to birth "the way they do back home" - she was a midwife in Australia, where epidurals are unheard of and "natural" is also "normal". I loved her immediately, and the stress in the room dissipated instantly. 

We were passing 3 o'clock, and starting the get a little nervous that nothing was happening, when my first contractions hit. I had just sat up from the side-lying release, swung my legs over the side of the bed, and mentioned to our doulas that nothing felt different - and suddenly was hit with three strong contractions in a row. Husby sat on the stool at the side of the bed and I was able to lean into him to work through them. He gently stroked my arms and encouraged me to relax into the pressure.

We knew we wanted to labor (and possibly birth) in the tub, and our nurse set to work getting it all set up. It was suggested that I try to empty my bladder before things got moving too quickly, so Husby and I moved into the bathroom for a few minutes. On the toilet, I was beginning to moan softly to help focus my energy during the peak of a contraction. When started to feel a bit nauseous, and our doulas came to the rescue, spraying oils around the room that calmed both my stomach and my mind. Contractions continued to get stronger, and I asked that the tub be filled so that I could get in soon (I knew it would take 10-15 minutes to fill, and didn't want to wait much longer than that). My midwife asked that she be allowed to check my dilation before I got into the water, just to make sure things were moving like we thought they were, and then stepped out to put on her scrubs. A few contractions later she was back, and we moved to the bed for a check. I had been at 4cm when she broke my water, and as soon as she tried to check my cervix it "melted" into a 7+. She held it there for a contraction, making sure it would stay and continue progressing, and said I was nearly to 8cm by the time she was done. 

With confirmation that things really were moving quickly, I was anxious to get some relief. Before we had moved to the bed, I had begun to fight with myself in my head, arguing for and against some pain medication as the intensity of contractions built. But as soon as I was enveloped in the soothing water those thoughts melted away - the weightlessness and warmth made the contractions exponentially easier to cope through. In the water, my need to vocalize was much less, and my team remarked that they hardly knew when I was contracting - I sat mostly still and fairly quiet between and during each contraction for quite a while. In our peaceful, darkened room, soft music played in the background and labor took over my whole self.


After a few minutes, my midwife suggested changing positions to keep things moving along; I shifted from sitting with my back against the side of the tub to leaning over the edge into Husby's lap. He put a pillow down for me to rest my head, and lightly rubbed my head and arms.

Rocking felt better than being still now, and the movement of the water worked with me to keep a steady rhythm both in and around my contractions. I was told that I could try a mini-push at the peak of a contraction just to see what happened; I tried a couple of times, but the heat of the water was overwhelming and we knew I needed to get out to cool off.

In between what were now very powerful contractions, Husby and my midwife help me move to the bed. I knelt facing the back, my arms draped over the raised head, and tried to push through a few more contractions. The intensity was overwhelming, and I couldn't get on top of my contractions long enough to push effectively.


I heard myself ask if they could just pull her out since I couldn't do it, and then Husby's voice was in my ear reminding me that I was doing it, and she was so close. The team was trying to talk me through flipping over to see if I could push better on my back or side, but before I could process what was being said I had repositioned myself to lay on my left side, just as I had ended up with Eli. My pushes were much more productive this way, and soon I was being alerted to her impending exit. I could feel her descending  but it felt like she was moving much slower than I wanted her to; I stepped up my pushing, and was quickly warned to slow down. There were oils and compresses being applied to help lessen the sting of stretching, but the pressure of her head was too much and I couldn't keep from pushing for very long. Her head slowly emerged, and everyone cheered - except for me, who didn't feel any of the much anticipated relief. One, and then two, agonizing pushes later, her shoulders were born, and then the rest of her in one massive, final push. 

We had been out of the tub for less than 10 minutes, and my baby girl was being placed in my arms. The bliss! The joy! The hilarity of double-checking to see that my girl was, in fact, a girl! "My girl! There's my girl!" was all I could say, and she snuggled into me, all covered in vernix and slippery and wonderful. Her Daddy kissed my forehead, telling me he was so proud of me. "We did it," I whispered to him. "She's here." The look in his eyes said it all - we were both overjoyed and relieved.


Her color was beautiful, and her cries were strong. Husby cut her cord after it had stopped pulsing, and she stayed with me until I began to shiver. I handed her off to snuggle her Daddy while piles of warm blankets were brought in to help me regulate my temperature.


Her placenta was delivered with one small push, and my bleeding was under control with very little help from massage, so I was bundled up and soon had my girl back in my arms.


This was it. We had a daughter. We were a family of five. And we couldn't have been happier.

__________

Photos courtesy of our wonderful doulas:
Sister Doulas - Kaitlin & Vanessa Manville
Midwife: Aliza Chkaiban

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Baptized into Christ

Eli, Daddy, Momma, RJ, Opa, Uncle A w/JoJo, Auntie K


Opa, Nana, Daddy, Momma w/JoJo, Grandma, Grandpa

JoJo with her sponsors, Uncle A & Auntie K

w/Big Brothers Eli & RJ, all dressed up for Easter


Friday, March 22, 2013

Three Under Three

Discharged from the hospital 26 hours after birth, we came home to sleeping boys and managed a fairly uneventful first night as a family of five. Our second night, however, involved toddler puke from the eldest, attributed to over-stimulus on his first day brothering two. Coupled with the now-middle-child's increased need for physical attention, it's not surprising that we're all a bit sleepy around here. We're taking these days slowly, treasuring our time with tiny people. They won't be lap-size for long, but for the next five weeks we'll have three under three, and I don't want to miss a moment.