Monday, December 28, 2015

FIVE

Today my sweet son turns five. Last night as we joked that we might cancel his birthday, and he would stay four forever, he very firmly said, "You can't cancel my birthday, I'll be five anyway." And he's right - as much as we might like them to stay little longer, time just keeps moving, babies keep growing, and children get bigger and wiser.

This morning, I am up early -just as I am many mornings- trying to get a head start on the day, and catch a few minutes to myself. But this morning is different than many mornings. The early morning hours of E's birthday always remind me of the early morning hours of his birthing day, a time when we were losing ground in our fight to preserve our birth experience. This day of celebration always begins with me remembering the powerlessness, the victimization I felt. I'm thankful for these few minutes alone early in the day, when he's not awake yet, to acknowledge those feelings, and ask them to keep moving. This day is our birthing day, but mostly it's his birthday, and it's a joyous day.

Today I have rebel snacks to make, and galactic playdough to create. Today I have a little boy who wants a "real party" with friends and cupcakes and games. Today my son will be FIVE. So today I will take a few minutes for myself, and then I'll get to work. And when the rest of my house awakens, we will celebrate this beautiful, bright, silly soul. DH will give me a squeeze, reminding me that he remembers too, and then we will begin cooking birthday breakfast. It's not every day you turn five, and I intend to make it the happiest of days.






 

Friday, August 7, 2015

End of an era...

Today was both an ending and a beginning. 

Today was the end of our time at the yurt. 

Our last day!
Our early days at the yurt - around 2 1/2 years old
For nearly half their lives, these three boys have come to the yurt at least three mornings a week. They have played in the sand, climbed on the rails, pulled work from the shelves, read books on the couch, danced on the floor. They've sat around the circle table to explore and create and learn. They've eaten from little plates and bowls, each choosing the same colors nearly every day. Today was the last day of all that. 

Being at the yurt with the boys has been such a blessing. I have gotten to watch them all grow and change and learn about each other. I've gotten to be a part of their lives nearly every day. I've taken E with me almost every day, and I've taken little e with me every day too. What a beautiful way to earn an income, without leaving my children in the care of someone else. What a blessing to know my child has made life long friends, and I have too.

Tomorrow is a new beginning. 

Tomorrow I set out on the road, I leave my big E behind for our longest stretch away from each other. Tomorrow I throw myself fully into a new passion, a new path. I'll miss being with the boys each day, but I'm grateful for the blessings that have come our way, and for the blessings yet to come. I'm excited for this journey, and though I know it will be hard work, I also know it will be so worth it. 

Winter 2014
Winter 2014
Autumn 2014
Autumn 2014
February 2014
2013
2013
2013

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Six months




The Earth has traveled halfway around the sun since sweet little e arrived Earthside. She's a joy, and she's a challenge. She is outspoken and opinionated already, driven and high-achieving to a fault. She's friendly and engaging. She adores her brother, and he adores her. 

She's not an "easy" baby, but she's such a blessing. Parenting her brings out the best in both me and DH. She's exactly what we can handle - our relationship could not have survived this kind of strain four years ago.

We spent her half birthday at the park with friends, and had such a great time. We are so lucky to have such a wonderful group of friends and family surrounding our children.





Sunday, July 12, 2015

Summer Camp

As I pack little lunch pouches and double check backpack contents, I'm trying to face my trepidation about tomorrow.

Tomorrow may just be any Monday for most people, but it's a big day for me. Tomorrow, I'm sending my boy to summer camp. It's just four days, and it's just six hours a day. But it's the first time he'll be in the care of grown ups who haven't known him since birth. The first time he'll be surrounded by many other children without a biological relative nearby.

And I'm dead nervous. I'm nervous about how he'll do, I'm nervous about how I'll do. What if he doesn't want me to leave? Worse yet, what if I don't want to leave? What if he doesn't eat any of his lunch and he has a melt down in the afternoon? What if he forgets the impulse control he has been learning? What if he eats paint, or paper, or clay? What if he forgets to go to the toilet when he needs to pee? What if he gets scared and I'm more than thirty minutes away?

He's nervous too, he's told me so. He's never been in a situation with unfamiliar grown ups, so we went to meet his teacher and a few of his potential camp mates yesterday. He doesn't quite understand what will happen, because I've never dropped him off in the care of people he doesn't really know. He's never been to camp, or day care, or really anywhere unfamiliar without a familiar face. 

I keep getting bogged down in the what-ifs, but the truth is this: some of those scary things might happen. But - what if he has a great time? What if he learns and grows and thrives and makes friends? Because those things WILL happen. Because just like every single experience of his life, this will change him. 

I have to remind myself, he's not the first "different" child these teachers have seen. He's not the only kid with sensory needs. He's not the first "first timer," and he's not incapable of looking after himself. 

So I pack his bag, I do my best to prepare him, and I do my best to prepare myself. My little boy is taking a big step tomorrow, and I won't stand in his way. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Two Years

The Earth has gone around the sun twice now since the day I thought my world was caving in. Two years since the heartache, the headache, started. And two years of recovery now. It's been two years since DH and I made the commitment to recover, to rebuild.

In that time, our lives have changed tremendously. We've both been through career changes, and we are both changing gears again now. We've been blessed with a beautiful, bright, engaging daughter. We've watched our son mature before our eyes. We've married, we've traveled, we've birthed. We've laughed and cried, we've argued and made up. Most of all, we've loved. We've learned how to love ourselves and each other better. We've recovered, and we are healing. Our days aren't free from the aftershocks of that earth shaking time, but we are mostly stable, and we can lean on each other when our footing is not sure. 

I look back on the words I wrote a year ago, two years ago, and I'm so grateful we made the choices we made. Our journey has been far from perfect, but it's perfectly ours. 


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Life Moving Forward (May is National Mobility Awareness Month)

Every morning as the sun starts to peek through the curtain and my children start to stir in bed next to me, I reach over, grab my tablet, and take a few minutes to cruise Facebook. It's the only time of day I really spend just cruising and not working (I conduct a large amount of my business via Facebook). Usually, I just take time to read status updates, make comments, and read articles I've saved for later. But in May, those early morning moments have become a space for something else. My first priority when I pick up that Kindle is to find Jared's group, learn the mobility fact of the day, and flip over to the NMEDA website to cast my votes.

You see, my friend Jared is entered into a contest that could help him win a much needed wheelchair accessible van. May is National Mobility Awareness Month, and I have to tell you, those of us without mobility challenges NEED Mobility Awareness Month. I was woefully unaware of the challenges in my own hometown until a local teacher and mother of a friend was affected by ALS, and confined to a wheelchair. I remember seeing her one day on Main Street, and she mentioned that she can't check her own post office box because the local post office isn't wheel chair accessible. I was shocked, because I'd never even though about that. Jared deals with the same challenges.

Jared is a part of daily life here in our small town. We see his smile as we enter the coffee shop on sunny days, and we see him wheeling to the park on bright, dry mornings. But on rainy, snowy, or excessively cold days, Jared stays home. With no way to transport his powered wheelchair, his independence is limited by weather conditions. Even on dry days, it takes him longer to get around town than it would take me to walk because he has to plan his route carefully - many sidewalks are not wheelchair accessible, some roads don't even have sidewalks, and many areas are not safe for pedestrians at all.

Jared, and all people who have mobility challenges, deserve better. Being able to get into and out of business and government buildings, and having a safe passage through your home town, shouldn't be limited to those of us who walk around oblivious to how easily our mobility can be taken from us.

As parents, Jared's presence in our lives is such a blessing, not simply because of his sweet, fun loving personality, but also because Jared is normalizing physical differences for our children. He lights up when he sees my four year old bouncing toward him, and my four year old recognizes Jared as no less "able" than the rest of us. He delights in their commonalities, in fact. Jared loves to hang out in the coffee shop just as much as my son, and they both chat with everyone who walks through the door. I recently heard my son exclaim, "Jared knows sign language like me?" Jared has been introducing himself to my daughter since before she was born, and she always returns his bright smile with one of her own. To the children (and adults) in our small town, Jared is just another friendly face, just another person deserving of experiencing small town life and all it has to offer. He's also more than that - he's an inspiration, a true testament to what can be overcome with a positive attitude and determination.

But Jared needs a van to transport his powered chair. He doesn't have enough range of motion in his arm to operate a manual chair independently, and his powered chair grants him the ability to reach out and interact with people, and change (or form) their views on people with mobility challenges.

The National Mobility Equipment Dealer's Association, in partnership with various businesses and organizations, has a Local Heroes contest to help raise awareness for National Mobility Awareness Month. Jared and his family were recently featured in a news story on WDBJ 7. You can find more information here, and you can cast your vote for our local hero here. Please take the time to drop by and cast your vote, every day. You can join Jared's Facebook group, where you will get daily updates on how many votes Jared has, and also learn facts to help you answer the daily question, which helps you earn an EXTRA vote. If every vote counts, your double vote is twice the value!!



Thursday, February 5, 2015

Etta's Birth Story

In the early morning hours of January 25, I was awoken by an intense sensation. At first I thought it was the urgent sensation to empty my bladder (a frequent sensation at 42 weeks pregnant!), but it soon became obvious - this was a contraction. A real contraction! Finally, finally our baby was going to arrive! I lay in bed as long as I could, and when I realized these contractions were coming with regularity, I decided to get up and time them. I grabbed a high protein snack and filled my water bottle, then sat down on my birth ball with knitting in hand.

I bounced and swayed on the birth ball for over an hour, timing fairly attention-getting contractions between five and six minutes apart. I knew I would need some sleep if this was the real deal, so I trudged back upstairs and climbed in bed, and caught brief bursts of sleep for the rest of the morning - until sunrise around 7 AM. Even through sleep, I was clocking contractions at ten to twelve minutes, so surely this was labor. And these contractions weren't mild, either.

Eamon woke around sunrise, and helped me through a few contractions while we relaxed in bed. I woke Chris, and told him I didn't need him to get up, just wanted to tell him what was going on. I started alerting the rest of my birth team - midwife, doula, etc. As I did so, the contractions started spreading out - coming every fifteen minutes, then every twenty. Around 9:30, E and I headed to the park for a brisk walk so I could keep up the progress.

After the walk, the contractions were still coming about every ten to fifteen minutes. I did more circles and bouncing on the birth ball, I tried to stay busy, I tried not to get too excited.

But happy I was - my last labor never really got started on its own, and we ended up using a stretch and sweep procedure and castor oil to get the ball rolling at 42w+6d. This was so good - my body was starting on its own this time, and my wait was nearly over! I'd been waiting for 42 weeks to meet this baby, and boy was I ready.

By early afternoon, the contractions had really spread out, coming one or two an hour. I asked my sister to bring her kids over, because E was having a really tough day full of cabin fever. Having three children underfoot didn't do anything good for a healthy labor pattern, which I knew, but getting E over the hump of the mid-afternoon grumpies was more important to me.

Our midwife visited at 7 PM, at which point I was having maybe a contraction an hour. I was feeling frustrated and discouraged, but she gave me a pep talk about how things would likely pick up after E went to bed. She offered a cervical check, and found that I was over three centimeters dilated, so at least I was making progress. She decided to go home, with the understanding that we would likely call her in the middle of the night.

I put E to bed around 8:30, and laid down myself, expecting to wake up in the middle of the night with good contractions. Instead, I slept soundly. The best rest I'd had the entire pregnancy. No aching pelvis, no uncomfortable, jumpy legs. Just sweet sleep.

I rose around 5 AM, and spent some time rolling on the birth ball and meditating, since I was having no contractions. I meditated on my thoughts about this birth, on my trust in the birth process. I pushed myself to tears simply because of the beauty of the situation - twinkle lights and candles, me sitting alone and repeating my birth affirmations.

Around 5:30 I headed back to bed, hoping my positive thoughts and meditations would take hold and speed me into the active stage of labor. At 7 AM I heard E stirring, and he came to cuddle in bed with me. We got up and started our day, and I was having no contractions. It was disheartening, but I tried to keep reminding myself - babies come when they are ready, and my body was making progress, even if it was slow. We spent the morning trying to keep ourselves busy and distracted, stuck in this limbo, between worlds. Our family was on the precipice of a big change, but my body hadn't quite made the leap yet.

I decided it was best for everyone if E got out of the house for a while, so my sister came to pick him up around noon, and Chris and I worked on creating a loving and peaceful atmosphere to bring our baby into.

The connection and intimacy we established in the afternoon was exactly what my body needed, and contractions started to pick around 3:30. We went to pick up E at 5, and by 6 they were regular at ten minutes apart. I tried not to get too excited, and just bounced on the birth ball and did some knitting. 

By 8 pm, the rushes were getting closer and closer, and starting to get more intense. They quickly settled in at five minutes apart, lasting a minute, so it was time to make some calls! Chris called the midwife when I rushed past him in my hurry to make it to the toilet to vomit. 

Our support team started arriving around 9, and as we rushed around to finish preparing the environment and fill the birth tub, timing contractions was forgotten. I knew they were rocking me harder and for longer, and I kept heading to the bathroom because sitting on the toilet was so much more comfortable. I kept thinking my body was trying to evacuate my bowels, and giving myself over to that sensation felt so right. I would pop out of the bathroom after a contraction, and head back in when another would start. While I busied myself with coping, the midwife was hurriedly preparing things - setting out towels and putting blankets on a heating pad.

The birth tub was only a third of the way full, and the tap water had run cold, so every eye on the stove was full of pots of boiling water. I walked past that scene on my way back to the bathroom, where it finally dawned on me - this feeling is the urge to push. To push a baby out. And man, it feels so good to give myself over to it. After the contraction subsided, I washed my hands and reached into my body, and was surprised to easily touch the top of my baby's head! I opened the bathroom door, saying, "Um... I'm having a baby!"

There was no way the tub was going to be ready before baby arrived, so we settled onto the bed to push this little spirit into the world. I pushed in child's pose for a while, and I could feel my baby moving easily through me. Then suddenly I felt like I was pushing uphill, and just then my midwife suggested a change of position. As soon as I got upright and started to squat, the baby made huge progress, and I knew I would be holding my child in no time at all. Everything felt so right - I had my baby's head in my right hand, and my left was wrapped around my husband's leg. My midwife was behind me, supporting and encouraging me, and the rest of the team stood on, whispering uplifting words and simply adding positive energy to the room. Just minutes past midnight, nearly a full 48 hours after that first contraction, the baby's head was out, and I heard my daughter's first whimpers. Seconds later I bore down and her shoulders and body slid into my hands, and I pulled her up to my belly, amazed to be gazing on these eyes, looking into this soul we created. 

I quickly sat back on my bottom, as my legs were getting really tired, and I sat for about ten minutes, just getting to know my baby. A few minutes after she was born we checked her gender, and we started to bask in the triumphant feeling of getting exactly the birth we wanted. The midwives rejoiced with us, and then everyone helped me move to the bed, where I birthed the placenta and continued to get to know my little girl. After an hour or more, I walked to the bathroom and got cleaned up, ate something, and got settled back in for some sleep.

This birth was so very different from our last experience. Instead of feeling like I barely survived, I felt like it happened so quickly and naturally, and it seemed just perfect. I trusted my body through the process, and although it didn't go exactly as I planned, it was exactly right - exactly the birth we needed. This birth did exactly what we wanted - it healed the wounds of our high-jacked birth. It cemented our family bond. It set a bookend on the trauma of the past few years. And most importantly, it brought us a healthy daughter who was welcomed peacefully in our home.

**This birth video shows birth - a baby comes out. Consider yourself warned.**

video

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Longest Week

Hello, 40 weeks

Today I begin the fortieth week of my pregnancy. When I was pregnant with E, I knew in my heart he would come well after 40 weeks (though I never imagined I'd still be pregnant at 43 weeks!), but this pregnancy has been different. The further along I got, the more sure I was this baby would come in a more timely manner, though I'm still trying to prepare myself for another week or two of pregnancy.



As I greet the morning of my 280th day of pregnancy, I look around at all the preparations we've made to welcome this spirit into our lives. My birth kit has been assembled for weeks, and the birth environment is complete. The team is ready, the food is ready. To-do lists have been completed, and the "I'm in Labor" to-do list is printed.

Very few people actually know I'm in my fortieth week now - my midwife and birth team, DH of course, my sister, and a close friend who just had a baby. To everyone else, I'm "due" at the end of January, so as to avoid quite so many pressing "Is baby here yet?" inquiries on Facebook and in person.

I have accomplished so much at the end of this pregnancy, much more than with my last. I've prepared for the birth as much as I can, and I've managed to keep the house in some sort of order for weeks now. Today's tasks include a light cleaning of the whole house, catching up on a load or two of laundry, finishing out some sewing projects I started, and lots of time bouncing and rolling on the birth ball. I also want to give a final address to some emotional pieces that had me very worried earlier in pregnancy.

Tonight we are planning spicy Thai for dinner, followed by a labor encouraging smoothie recipe, and then some other, more private, labor encouraging activities. I'm hoping my body is ready enough to receive this encouragement, and that in a few days we may have a baby in our arms.

I expect to update this post throughout the week, since it likely won't go live until after baby arrives. Although I have two ESTIMATED due dates, both are earlier than the dates I tell people when they ask, and due dates don't seem to mean much to my babies. I'm sure my emotional state will get to the place that I don't need others asking me about baby's arrival yet.

40w, 3 days

It only took a few days to come around on my first melt down. I'm tired and anxious, and the rest of my family is the same. We are all stuck in a place of limbo, where no one is sleeping well, everyone is ready for the baby's arrival, and I think some of us are starting to resent my lack of lap and ability to move in an agile way. I cried today, and DH lovingly reminded me that he understands and he knows I've been here before, and that I also need to savor these last few days - I likely won't feel a baby move under my hands again. I probably won't have the privilege of getting to know another little spirit in such an intimate way as he or she grows. It's not written in stone, but already our family feels complete with two children. He reminded me to focus on the positive, but it's hard when I'm so ready to have this baby in my arms.

40w, 5 days

A woman in my Due Date Club posted this today, and it was a wonderful reminder of the purpose of these last few days/weeks of pregnancy. Our family is standing on the edge of a new journey, waiting to greet our little person, and starting to say goodbye to our habits as a family of three. I find this time especially challenging because I am a planner, a list maker, a punctual person. I'm dealing with some real fears about this pregnancy extending a few more weeks. I remember being an emotional wreck at the end of pregnancy with E, and I sometimes wonder how that played into my labor and birth experience.

In fact, I've been mulling over a lot about my labor and birth experience with E. I wonder how the storm that was beginning to brew affected us, and how the birth trauma affected the storm. I still wonder how we could have done things differently, but now I wonder how different our lives would be if our birth experience, and the trauma of it, hadn't both driven a wedge and been a propelling factor in our recovery.

40w, 6 days

The longest week is nearly over, and I've been back and forth with my emotions. I've been in this place before, where my feelings are all over the board, and I swing wildly between "baby will come when it's time," and "Oh dear God come out already!" Our midwife reminded me at our recent appointment - we will have a baby in the next two weeks.

Babies don't stay in forever (although I remember suspecting that E might), they are always born. They wait for their birth day, and then they come out. They are wise and perfect and come when they are ready to greet the world, and when the world is ready to greet them.

Today I sat down and wrote about the worries and wonders that have been filling my mind recently. It seems that releasing my thoughts to the page has always been my therapy of choice - I can't remember a time in my life when I didn't journal. Being able to be completely honest on the page is so comforting to me, and when I put my thoughts on paper, they seem to leave my mind for a long time.

Goodbye, 40 weeks

As I close the door on my fortieth week of pregnancy and greet week forty-one, it seems my body is actually makes moves toward getting labor started. I spent most of last night wiggling to get comfortable in bed, with crampiness that progressed to true contractions after an hour or so. I was a little afraid I may not get any rest, but I was finally able to fall asleep, and string together a few hours throughout the night. This morning most of the discomfort is gone, but I suspect I'll see the ball really start rolling in the next few days.



Monday, January 12, 2015

Preparations for Baby, Environment

Labor beads

At our blessing way with E, we asked everyone to bring beads for me to wear on a necklace during labor. I planned to wear the same beads this time (some of which are in my hair at this point), but my wonderful friends brought new beautiful beads to my surprise blessing, and I've strung them into a bracelet. My beads from E's labor, and the beads that have been gifted to the baby, will also be there on my altar.



Prayer flags

We had a banner of these, full of well wishes and welcome, with E, and I wanted to recreate that again. E's still hang in his room, and I love laying in his bed at night and reading the beautiful things our friends wrote to him before he was born. 

I actually ended up with two banners this time - one has all my birth affirmations on it, the other was created by a friend, and is again filled with wishes from our friends.


Lights 

I adore twinkle lights, and I remember how much E loved them when he was fresh (he actually still does), so I wanted to use our holiday lights to create a dim, almost romantic atmosphere for labor. Three strands in our living room seems to have created the perfect amount of light to function without interfering with the hormone release during birth. 



Candles

Candles create a perfect ambiance at a birth, and I've been blessed to have a lot of candles gifted to me this time. Some of the most beautiful include hand poured candles made by one of my closest friends, lovely golden beeswax candles, and a fabulous candle powered oil warmer from my best friend and doula. 

Altar

I'll actually have several places around the room set up with candles, flags, and other decorations, but my main altar will have my hand poured candles and charged stones, my labor beads from last time, and a few other small items of importance. Right now everything is waiting patiently in the "birth prep" corner, ready to be placed in early labor.


Labyrinth 

Native Americans and other cultures used labyrinths to represent the various journeys in life, and birth was a time when a labyrinth was often used. As much as I'd love to build a walking labyrinth in our yard, that's not really practical, so I wanted a finger labyrinth. I found the inspiration for this one on Pinterest, and it was so simple I may create a few more for gifts. I love how it turned out. 


Music

I spent a good bit of time pouring through our iTunes libraries to put together several discs of labor music. I had a playlist last time, but I never could locate it, so I started mostly from scratch. I've been using the "Mellow Labor" mix when I do AromaTouch sessions, and I like it more and more as I listen to it. I'm hoping this wide variety of music will be pleasing to everyone!