April 29, 2010

Suddenly, you're four.

Dear Sam,

Although it's a little unusual for a kid your age, you ride a bus to preschool. Every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we drive down to the bottom of the driveway (maybe once Danny's here we'll walk together instead) and wait for your bus. Back in November, when you first started school, you were very excited about the bus. Then, you went through a period where you were reluctant to get on. It's kind of a long ride, and we finally figured out that if we let you take a toy with you to play with during the ride it made things easier. This week though? You didn't take a toy every day. I park about 2 car lengths up the driveway so the bus can turn around after you get on. This week, you took your backpack and went to the bus yourself. You didn't need me to walk you to the door or pretend to race with you. You did it yourself, and you didn't look back. On Wednesday, after you got on the bus I cried. This watching you grow up? It's just not that easy sometimes.

On Sunday, you are going to be four years old.

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For the last four years, you've been my baby. I've held you from the time you were small enough so snuggle against my chest, your head nestled under my chin and your toes just below my belly button.

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I still hold you, but now, you stand more than 1/2 my height. When you crawl into my bed sometimes in the night, we snuggle, but now when we spoon your feet hit my legs.

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When you stretch out, you fill that bathtub that used to seem like a pool, and the other day I saw you drink out of a water fountain without a boost or step. When did this happen?

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Once upon a time, you were tiny. I spent all my time with you that first year, my first baby, and you stole my heart. I knew I would never get it back.

Then you turned one. And I couldn't believe how big you'd gotten.

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In the second year, I watched you grow some more. You walked and ran and started to talk and learn and remember. Then you were two, suddenly. And I couldn't believe how big you'd gotten.

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Times were crazy in the next year. You continued to become, to grow into yourself and discover who you were, and amazed me more and more every day. But you were still my only little love. Then you turned 3, and I couldn't believe how big you'd gotten.

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Now you're turning four.

You love computer games. I can't believe it, because you're not even four. But you know how to work the touchpad mouse on my laptop and how to click and things I didn't learn until I was in middle school. I can only imagine that probably in the next year your computer knowledge will surpass mine. It blows my mind.

The other morning you called your Aunt Kira on the phone and talked to her just because you wanted to. We count and call it "racing" to get your jammies on or your diaper changed because it motivates you and gets you excited. We weren't careful enough with our language, and every once in a while you think it's funny to call someone an ass. Oops.

Sometimes, you get SO excited. You get an idea, something dawns on you and your eyes light up and get really big and your breath catches as you tell me... "we can do BOTH! We can eat breakfast AND play a computer game!" Or whatever. It doesn't even matter what you're talking about because the joy you feel lights up my world.

You know a lot of your letters, and a bunch of numbers between 1 and 10. You sing the alphabet song and lots of other ones - you love to sing and sometimes you make up your own songs. One night we heard you through the monitor in your room singing about "mommy on the potty." You sing along now to CDs or TV theme songs, and when we sing to you sometimes you join in.

Your favorite colors are yellow and orange, but mostly yellow. You love hummus and mac and cheese and you're always trying to steal a sip of soda from us when we have it around. You love puzzles and are quite good at them. You know how to spell your name, and you know how to work the shift key on the computer because you don't like small letters yet, only big ones. You love Legos, but you don't play with them without destroying them. It's frustrating when you pull the cars apart right after I've built them, but I keep building because it makes you happy and that makes me happy.

You've changed so much and more changes are coming. My belly is big and swollen with your little brother, and it won't be long now before he makes his appearance. I know that you've grown, and you are more independent now and you are going to be a great big brother. But there is something about the fact that you're not going to be my baby anymore that breaks my heart a little bit.

I hope that I will be the best Mom, that you will always, always know how much we all love you and that I couldn't love anyone else more, even if I tried. I know that sometimes I will slip up, but I hope that you'll forgive me. One day, I hope you'll get the joy of being a Daddy if that's what you want, and then you'll know alllll about all this stuff. But for now, you just need to know that you are special, and you always will be.

Even though it makes me sad, I am also super excited to watch you be a big brother. I think you are going to be amazing. Danny is going to look up to you and love you so much.

Suddenly, you're four. And I can't believe how big you've gotten. Happy birthday to my baby little boy.

Love Always and Forever,
Your Mommy
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April 26, 2010

38 Weeks: GET OUT!

I am 38 weeks pregnant now. Also known as 9 months. Also known as comeonbabypleaseGETOUT. I am so ready. Seriously. Today someone told me that I didn't look like I was going to be able to make it 2 more weeks and I hugged them with gratitude. But... what if they're WRONG? I mean, it could be 3 or 4 more weeks before this guy decides to make an appearance. That is so not cool. Now only am I uncomfortable but I am ready to meet him.

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Sam still likes Danny. How shocking will it be when he comes out? I dunno.

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I am a Negative Nelly. I can't do anything and poor Justin comes home to Rachael everyday saying "hey do this do that can you please do..." I bet it's really awesome for him. I know it looks like I am smiling in those photos, but it's an illusion. He did a lot to help clean up the house this weekend AND mowed the lawns to get his Dad off his back about that. So, he deserves a break. I don't think either of us is ever going to get a break again though.

Danny's room is not finished yet. His crib is not put together. I am starting to think about putting car seat bases in our cars and packing my bag for the birth center. I am starting to nag Justin about getting the video camera battery charged. I need to make CDs of the music I want to have to listen to in labor. I need to figure out what the heck is going to happen with Sam when it's time for us to go to the birth center! Um... yeah.

I can't sleep very well. I am sore when I wake up. It hurts when I stand up. I went grocery shopping last night and pushing around a cart for an hour nearly killed me (although it didn't put me into labor stupid dang cart). Heartburn. Peeing every 10 minutes. GAH.

I have a midwife appointment on Wednesday. I wonder if she will check me for progress. Not that it means anything really. I still haven't been having any contractions, but none of it REALLY means anything. He could come tonight, or stay in there for 3 more weeks.

In other news, I learned from SELF magazine today that I have gained LESS weight in my pregnancy than Ellen Pompeo did. 26 lbs? Pshaw! I'm sitting pretty on the scale over here.

In closing, here is a cute picture of Justin and Sam helping me make cookies for my book club yesterday.

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April 23, 2010

Friday Fragments

Mommy's Idea

Friday Fragments are bits and pieces of your week that are usually brief; too short for a stand-alone post, but too good to discard. Collect humorous observations, "Heard" items, and other small gems and put them together in a Friday Fragments post. Friday Fragments are the brainchild of Mrs.4444 and you can find more at Half Past Kissin' Time.

*** I've been part of a book club for a little over 6 years, and love it. The ladies in it are now some of my best friends. We meet once a month in Seattle, but this weekend they are all coming up to my neck of the woods for the annual Bellingham meeting! I am so excited to see everyone, and can't wait to get to hold my friend Tara's baby for the first time. Maybe he can convince Danny to come the heck out.

*** Speaking of which, I will be 38 weeks pregnant tomorrow, and I am SOOOOOO ready for this baby to come out! We have pretty much everything ready around here (what do you really need at first anyhow other than clothes, diapers, a car seat and possibly some formula?) and I am starting to feel anxious to meet him. We had an ultrasound on Tuesday just to check position and saw some hair (yay!). Hopefully by Sunday Danny's room will be set up, although he'll be in our room for the first few months.

*** So, somehow Sam is really into Legos, and he wants them bad. But 5 minutes after I build anything he is destroying it. WHY do I bother? I don't know! He just likes them so much... Perhaps we need to bust out the superglue.

*** Justin's job is going really well. He is getting along great with his team, and I love it when he comes home and tells me about how they all went to lunch together and hung out. It's so nice seeing him in a job where he obviously really likes what he's doing and who he's working with again! Also, we signed up for all our benefits this week - in addition to health insurance, we finally have life insurance and a retirement account again. Yay!

*** I LOVE this post by Lindsay over at Suburban Turmoil about her experiences with worship, music, and most recently her daughter's first grown up church service. It moves me to tears every time I read it, and I think you should check it out!

*** Click here to see one of the coolest newborn photos I have ever seen. It makes me smile so big!

*** Also... we have been watching some stuff on Hulu on our Media Center TV and one of the things we realized while watching old Inspector Gadget episdoes with Sam?

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April 21, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: HAPPY!

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Taken a couple of summers ago at my Aunt's wedding. This is not a good picture of my sister and I. We look ridiculous. And maybe we were drunk... but look how H*A*P*P*Y! That's why I love it.

To see more Wordless Wednesday posts, click here.
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April 20, 2010

The One About My Boobs

Now that I'm 9 months pregnant and people are starting to look surprised when I tell them there are almost 3 more weeks before this baby is due, the inevitable question also comes up. Are you going to nurse?

Despite the fact that people usually act casual when they ask, it's a loaded question. Depending on what part of the country you live in, the stigma surrounding breastfeeding can be very positive or very negative. Last time I was trying to nurse I heard stories of people in the midwest or other areas who were having a hard time finding support FOR breastfeeding. Where I live, the assumption is that you'll do it, and if you don't, you get judged.

I suppose that many people don't mean to be so judgemental, but they are. Perhaps they've never had children or perhaps they just didn't have any trouble breastfeeding. Maybe, like me, they always assumed that breastfeeding was easy and that it just magically happens and works wonderfully for all women. That any woman who isn't breastfeeding must just be choosing not to. But that's not the end of the story for a lot of women.

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So, let's start out with a little history. I did not breastfeed Sam. Not by my choice. It was really, really hard. The full story can be found mostly here, with updates here and here. Here's what happened in a nutshell.

It took us 2 years to get pregnant with Sam, and when we finally did, it was through IUI (artificial insemination). It took four tries. I know now that I had a bunch of undiagnosed conditions - Hypothyroidism, Poly-cycstic Ovarian Syndrome, Insulin Resistance, High Testosterone. All of those can affect fertility. All of them can affect a lot of things, and I had a lot of hormone related problems.

But none of my doctors did any tests. Getting pregnant was the end of their treatment of me. During my pregnancy, my doctor never once checked my breasts, never once asked if they had changed size or shape. Not once did someone bring up the fact that breastfeeding isn't always easy, or that fertility issues could possibly translate to breastfeeding issues.

Once I had Sam, there were lactation consultants. I was clueless. There was fenugreek, nipple shields, and a hospital double pump (aka human milking machine). There was a fussy baby who wasn't getting any food, enough milk to coat the bottom of a bottle, and questions about whether I was giving up and letting my baby down.

The last entry is on May 23, exactly 3 weeks after Sam was born. I decided to let go and stop trying. It was really a difficult decision, and I did feel in some ways that I'd failed. Despite the fact that I still think my body and health had a lot to do with it, I had a really hard time accepting that I wouldn't be able to breastfeed.

Now

On the last day of our Hypnobirthing class, we watched a video about breastfeeding. I decided to go to the session about it despite the fact that I wasn't able to breastfeed Sam, and I'm glad I did. Throughout this pregnancy, I have been a little bit resigned, and thinking that I probably won't be able to breastfeed Danny. Partially because I hadn't learned anything new, and partially because I was just assuming things would go like they did last time. My first midwife took one look at my breasts and said she could see right away that I could have problems, and basically said that it could work out but not to count on it.

I thought I'd go to the breastfeeding session at class just to go. Why not, I'd paid for the class. Part of the session involved watching a video about breastfeeding and how a baby should latch on. And while I was in that room watching that video, it brought up some emotions... anger, annoyance and defiance. I made a few notes during the video when it welled up...

It may be true that breast is best, but saying that the AAP recommends nothing but breastmilk for 6 months makes me feel I did something wrong because my body didn't work properly. There is just not much assurance or support out there for moms who are unable to breastfeed and that choice is taken away from them. I would never CHOOSE not to breastfeed. Despite my difficulties last time, I am fully planning on trying this time. The difference is that I'm not counting on it this time because I know there's a chance it won't work out.

They said frequent skin to skin contact gives you a bond unique to breastfeeding, but I disagree with that. You can provide that for your baby either way, and skin to skin contact with the FATHER is hugely beneficial as well for bonding.

I found myself back in that place of letting myself feel judged for something that I hadn't had too much control over. I didn't know that I needed to do all my own research, I trusted my caregivers to give me good information. Despite all of that, I'm really glad I went to the class because I came out with a little bit of a shift in thinking.

For instance... our teacher showed us a diagram of a baby properly latched on. It basically showed the entire areolea inside the baby's mouth, and the nipple practically in the throat just dripping down milk. Between that and the video? At this point I am 99.9% sure that Sam NEVER latched on properly. Which means that even if my body had wanted to produce milk, it wasn't getting any signals to do it. I think the nipple shield was useless in my case, and that it just taught him food came from a plastic nipple. I think that the lactation consultants I saw were useless, they never tried to teach me about better latching techniques. No one recommended having as much skin to skin contact for the first few days. I just can't believe that none of this was taught in my hospital 'birth' class or discussed by my doctor OR the lactation consultants.

To some women, they may have heard these things before, and it may seem like common sense. But for a 25 year old holding her first baby? Not so much.

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So, back to that question. When someone asks me "Are you going to nurse?" I find myself unable to give a yes or no answer. What I want to say is "of course." But I know from experience that things don't always turn out the way you think they will. I feel the need to say yes, I will try, but I couldn't last time. I think part of the reason is because I think that a lot of people don't realize that women even go through what I did, and that there isn't a lot of support out there when it happens.

All that being said, I am feeling much more hopeful this time. There are a lot of things I know now that I didn't know then, and here are a few reasons I'm feeling more optimistic this time:
  1. Latching: I am much more confident now that I know how to look for a proper latch. I know more techniques for trying to get the baby to latch on, and if he's not doing it right, I feel MUCH more able to recognize that.
  2. My breasts still have not increased in size much this pregnancy. However, I have noticed a change in the shape. They both look a little rounder, and in the past 3 weeks I've started to be able to get a little fluid from both sides. I don't remember that happening this early last time, so I'm taking it as a good sign.
  3. Those medical conditions I listed above? They're being treated now. I'm on (safe for baby) medications for PCOS, Insulin Resistance, and Hypothyroidism. I am healther, I lost 30 pounds before I got pregnant and was able to conceive on my own this time. So, on the whole my body is a healthier entity than it was when I had Sam.
  4. Better Support: I have a close family friend who is a childbirth educator and doula who I trust. I have my midwife. I have other resources I've found on my own. This time, I know exactly where to look and who to go to if I have trouble. I feel much more supported, and that makes a huge difference.
  5. Skin to Skin: I plan to do as much skin-to-skin contact as I can in the first few days after baby comes. I didn't know last time that this could make such a difference, but this time why not add it to the mix?
  6. Natural Delivery: If everything goes as planned, I'll be having a natural, drug-free delivery this time. I don't know that having drugs during labor necessarily affects the ability to breastfeed, BUT I do think that if you already have factors going against you, it probably doesn't help.
  7. Less Stress: In terms of breastfeeding, and the birth in general, it's going to be a less stressful environment. I'm a lot more relaxed about both things, and because I have a midwife and will be at the birth center, the baby will be given to me right away. She won't mess with him, give him shots etc. for a good hour after he's born, and he'll be with me right away.

I'm excited about the idea that it might work this time. But I know that if it doesn't, I will be okay with that too. I feel so positive either way, going into it, and so much more confident.

So, will I nurse? The answer is, "I hope so!"

What are attitudes about breastfeeding like where you live? Did you have problems? What kind of support did you get/not get?

Some Resources for Breastfeeding Moms:

Dr. Jack Newman and/or Newman Breastfeeding Clinic & Institute - Lots of information about breastfeeding, inlcuing really great articles and videos of babies latching on properly.

La Leche League International

San Diego County Breastfeeding Coalition

Mothers Overcoming Breastfeeding Issues (MOBI Motherhood International) - This website and their Yahoo group provided almost ALL my support last time. It's now a nonprofit, and a wonderful and supportive environment for issues from improper latch to preemies to just having a lack of support in your real life.

Low Milk Supply - Information & Support for Breastfeeding Mothers

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April 19, 2010

Cutting Cuts

To snip, or not to snip?

That was the first line of this post when I saved it in my drafts folder. I was going to write a whole post about circumcision. Having 2 boys, it's a relevant issue in my life. I thought it would make a good discussion topic and I would find some information online to talk about, and discuss why we made the decision we did.

Then I sat down to write it. I opened a bunch of tabs and started looking at information about circumcision. And then? I decided I didn't want to write that post.

The same old information is out there that was when we made our decision about Sam. There do seem to be minor health benefits to circumcision, but some people don't think they're enough. There are tons of opinions out there, and most of them are pretty strong. I don't WANT to argue about it. I don't WANT to educate anyone. I don't really WANT to talk about it.

In the end, it's a personal choice that we've made, and I don't need to defend or explain it to anybody else. I don't care about influencing anyone else's decision about what to do with their son, and I don't really need to hear anyone else's opinion about what we did/are doing with ours.

So now, here I am with a whole post about not writing this other post. That's good blogging if I've ever seen it! Um... okay maybe not.

Instead, let's talk about another cut. On Saturday, my Mom threw me a baby shower. Beforehand, I was in the kitchen making guacamole. Now, I have been making guacamole for years. I have cut up dozens of avacados in my life. So, you MIGHT think that by now, I would know to be really careful when removing the pits. Like, maybe the stab the slippery pit method and hope the knife goes in isn't the best?

You'd think that, but you'd be wrong. So on the 2nd pit, the knife slipped and went. right. into. my. hand. It went into my middle finger at the bottom, almost right in between my fingers. I gouged myself. It was so deep that I could see inside and it didn't start to bleed right away. It was so bad that for a couple of moments, I wondered if it was okay or if I needed to go get it looked at.

We decided that since I could still move my finger fine and it wasn't bleeding profusely it was probably okay. But it looks really gross, and even now when I look at it I involuntarily make a scrunched up face. It was sore throughout the day, but hopefully it won't take too long to heal.

The best part? This is the 2nd fairly deep cut I've got on my hand caused by guacamole. The other happened in high school when my friend and I were making guacamole and fooling around and I turned around to pretend to hit her and she was holding the knife and that was that. I still have a scar. I think I'll call them my avacado battle wounds.

So now, tell me... what are the stupidest injuries you've ever given yourself?
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April 16, 2010

HypnoBirthing and The Mind Body Connection

"Thoughts are real, and they produce results. for every thought, there is a phsyical response in your body."

- Kathy, HypnoBirthing Instructor/Doula

A lot of what you learn in HypnoBirthing is about the connection between your mind and your body, and the difference that perceptions and thoughts can make in your physical experience. Very early during our first class, our teacher demonstrated, then had us try, a very cool exercise. Here's how it went.

She asked for a volunteer, preferably one of the husbands. She is not a big woman, shorter than I am at 5'7'', somewhat petite. She had the husband come to the front of the class and stand with his arms stretched out to his sides at 90 degree angles. He was instructed to try his hardest to keep his arms up, and not to let her pull them down. She then had him repeat aloud the following mantra:

My arm is straight
My arm is strong
I am good

After he repeated it several times, she grabbed his arm and tried to pull it down towards his side. It barely moved.

Next, she had him stand in the same position, with the same instructions, and repeat the following:

My arm is weak
I am tired
I am trying not to move my arm

Then, she reached up and pulled. What do you think happened? His arm moved, and it moved A LOT further than it did the first time she tried. Despite the fact that he was trying his hardest, the negative and weak words he was saying directly affected his ability to hold up his arm.

If you take nothing else from this post, now you've got a good party trick! After she did it in front of the class, we all did it with our partners. I practiced with the teacher since my husband couldn't make the first class. I told her afterwards that when we did the 2nd part of the exercise, I felt my arm drop a little before she even touched me to pull it down. It was VERY clear to me how my mind had affected my body in this case.

So, how can we use the mind body connection in our favor when it comes to childbearing?

In her book, HypnoBirthing, Marie Mongan talks about the Laws of the Mind. The four areas she focuses on are The Law of Psycho-Physical Response, The Law of Harmonious Attraction, The Law of Repetition, and The Law of Motivation.

The Law of Psycho-Physical Response

The first law, Psycho-Physical Response is most popularly demonstrated by Pavlov's Dogs. In his experiments, the dogs became conditioned to salivate at the sound of a bell in anticipation of receiving food, but with no food in sight. Mongan says that this is the most important of the laws when it comes to birthing, because "what is experienced in the body is determined in the mind."
Most of us can think of some example of this in everyday life. I have a strong salivation response anytime I think of really sour candy, like Crybabies or Sour Patch Kids. Just the thought of those foods makes my mouth water like crazy. This is the same conditioning that makes your heart race like crazy when you see flashing lights in your rearview mirror.

Practicing HypnoBirthing allows you to "become skilled in using your own natural abilities to bring your mind and body into psycho-physical harmony." It's about conditioning your body and your mind to produce endorphins and connect with your baby and body. The bottom line is that we are working to use our minds to reduce tension in our bodies and let nature take it's course.

The Law of Harmonious Attraction & The Law of Repetition

The second & third laws Mongan discusses have to do with the harm we can create with negative energy, thoughts and words. This is where our culture's deeply ingrained negative views and portrayals of birth come into play. As I talked about in my last HypnoBirthing themed post, we see a lot of imagery and hear a lot of stories about birth cast in a negative light.

Going into my first labor, I was terrified of what the experience would be like. This time around, I have had a lot of exposure to positive stories, to tools and techniques for making it a better experience for myself, videos of women having wonderful and amazing birth experiences. My perceptions have changed. Instead of being afraid, I'm very excited about what this experience can be for me and my baby.

As Mongan says in the book, "Regardless of whether you are the person speaking or the person being spoken to, the sound and vibration of what is being said cause an emotional response within your mind, and a physiological and chemical response within your body." Anyone who has experienced put downs or emotional abuse understands that words CAN hurt. Sometimes, they cause more damage than physical pain. The things we feel become the beliefs we carry through life, and we live our lives based on those beliefs. By choosing to think positively, to expose ourselves to positivity, we can change how we physically experience our baby's birth day.

The Law of Motivation

The fourth law that Mongan discusses is The Law of Motivation. This law says that "when the mind is highly motivated, the body responds properly." We have all heard examples of how this law works, stories of impossible feats accomplished by people risking their lives to save someone else like the mother who is inexplicably able to lift an automobile to pull out her child. The story of the athlete who is injured and managed to continue to play and not experience the pain until afterwards. Remember Olympian Kerri Strug and her gold medal winning vault on a badly sprained ankle? Human beings have an amazing ability to use the mind to overcome physical challenges in certain situations.

Motivation is tied to intent and self image. We have the ability to choose how we experience most of life, including how we birth our children. How we regard birth and our role in the birth experience directly affects how we DO experience it when the day comes.

Visualization for Success

One of the main pieces of HypnoBirthing is about practice, practice, practice and visualizing success. To some, this may seem silly. BUT, as our teacher pointed out in class, athletes visualize all the time, and no one makes fun of THEM. The subconscious mind can't determine between real & imaginary, and the imagery we create for ourselves can directly affect our life experience. Here's another quote from the HypnoBirthing book that struck me:

"Most athletes will readily advise that relaxation and visualization are crucial to successful performance. Golfers quickly learn not to "press," but to release and let go. It is not uncommon to see Olympic athletes standing off to the side running visualizations of the perfect performance through their minds. Sports greats know that stress adn tension in the mind equate to stress and tension int eh body; the two cannot be separated. Conquering stress and fear is waht allows sports figures to appear to perform so effortlessly. It's impressive."

So, who's to say that as mothers, we can't use the same power to transform our birth experience?

Hypnosis: It's Not Magic

In the chapter of the book about the power of the mind, Mongan also shares some notes on self-hypnosis. One of the most important things that people need to understand is that hypnosis is always voluntary. It is not possible to hypnotize someone to do something against their morals or core beliefs. The people you see hypnotized during stage shows are volunteers, they want to have a good time and are having fun. Mongan points out that if the hypnotist suggested the person do something agains their values, they would immediately revert to an alert state.

When we practice relaxation and self-hypnosis, we are simply training ourselves to voluntarily enter a state that many of us find ourselves in on a daily basis. Have you ever been driving home from work to suddenly realize you're pulling in to the driveway? Become engrossed in a task and lost track of time? Gotten caught up in a daydream or become so immersed in a book or TV show that you emotionally react to it? These are all examples of the mind and body being in the kind of state we're going for with HypnoBirthing.

As Mongan says, the bottom line is this: "The value of self-hypnosis comes from learning to reach that level of mind where suggestions that you give yoruself effectively influence your physicological experience."

Next week, I'll write about my experiences taking my local HypnoBirthing class, and practicing and preparing for my baby's birth day since then. I'll share some of my views on HypnoBirthing and what I believe it has done, and will do, for me. In my final post in this series (well, until the baby comes, which I will certainly write about!), I'll share some stories and videos from mothers who have used HypnoBirthing.

This is post 3 in a series about HypnoBirthing and my experiences learning the method. The next installment is HypnoBirthing Classes: My Experience. Or, view Part 1 and Part 2.
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April 15, 2010

A Few Thoughts on Labor at 36 Weeks

So, I've failed miserably in getting my hypnobirthing posts done in any timely fashion. I have 3 more posts planned, and I WILL have them up in the next two weeks. I pretty much have posts planned out for the next month and a half, and I have something fun in store for the month of May.

In the time before this pregnancy, but even MORE since I've been pregnant, and in the last four months in particular, I have become a birth and pregnancy sponge! I have been reading so many positive birth stories, have started reading several birth and pregnancy themed blogs, mostly centered around natural birth, and have been watching different birth videos.

This goes with the mind body connection idea, which I'm planning to write about in my next HypnoBirthing post. Exposing myself to so many wonderful and positive birth stories, advice about how to have a wonderful natural birth, and tips and methods for doing that is making me really look forward to this birth.

I have been reading a lot about pushing, about being in labor, stories of how women push when allowed to do whatever they want to during labor and let things happen naturally. And?

I am so excited.

In these last couple of weeks it has been pretty easy to lose sight of how much I've looked forward to this baby's birth day.

The idea of being able to move freely, letting my body do the work and letting the baby come into the world in his own time... it's just so empowering.

I really needed this right now. I have been struggling with everything, mostly the control I've lost because of being SO pregnant right now. So it was the perfect time for me to open my reader to Science & Sensibility and read the stories included in her 5th Healthy Birth Blog Carnival.

I am expecting this to be an amazing experience. Yes, I know it's unpredictable. But I feel so positive about it. Excited, and TOTALLY impatient... 24 days seems like forever right now!

I also thought this post at Bellies & Babies was very interesting, and really cool. It's a short video about Self-Attachment, which I had never heard of. It's worth watching just for the first very short video of a baby crawling to the breast shortly after birth.

I find it so interesting because I've never heard of this before, but it makes total sense. After all, in nature isn't that what baby mammals do? Root and find the food source? I think so! So it makes sense that a human baby would do that. It just makes me wonder how different things would be if we let everything having to do with birth happen more naturally!
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April 13, 2010

April 12, 2010

Unravelling Like a $2 Sweater

He isn't listening, and instead of getting his shirt on he climbs from the chair to the couch and stands behind me. He leans on my back with his arms around my neck and tells me he wants to play horsie.

Mommy can't play horsie right now, sweetie. That's a game for Daddy or Grandma.

But he WANTS to. His arms tighten and I trundle up off the couch. As he whines, I feel the tears start to come.

Sam, I can't right now, you know that. Can you please get your shirt on?

More whining and I leave him to watch Max & Ruby. I feel myself unravelling. It's not the beginning and it's been going on for days. Maybe even longer, it's hard to say. I sit in the living room, thankful the TV has his attention for the moment as I root for a tissue and hold my head in my hands.

I don't like to cry in front of him. It makes me feel like a terrible mother.

I feel like I am failing right now, failing at almost everything. I walk into my house and it's a mess. But I can't seem to find the strength, mental or physical, to fix it. I am not a good mother right now - my temper is short and my frustration level is high. When he doesn't listen, instead of the patience I can normally provide, I feel overwhelmed and tears fill my eyes. It is completely ridiculous. It could be something as simple as me asking him to come get his pants on and him not replying. And once I get started? It's so hard to stop. The tears flow so easily, so steadily. Sometimes they are quiet. Sometimes, if I feel like it's safe and I won't have to explain myself, if I'm alone, they turn louder and I sob.

I know that he can sense change, he can sense that I'm not normal, and it just makes him want to be close to me even more. But my body is already not my own, and sometimes I just want him to give me a little space.

I am not a good wife right now either. My temper is not only short with Sam, but with Justin too. I tell him I need more help. But what I really need is for him to take over. Maybe that's not fair, and I get that. But I can't bend over. I desperately want to move things, to clean, and I'm not physically capable. It's beyond frustrating.

I pride myself on organization, on tidiness. Last week I cancelled the playdate scheduled at my house because I knew I just couldn't get it clean in time. This weekend, I am supposed to have people over on Saturday AND Sunday and I am not sure how to get ready in time.

I am in control of nothing.

Mentally, I can see logic, but it doesn't stop me from feeling overwhelmed. I curl up like a child and cry, and on top of everything else I feel selfish and unreasonable.

What do I have to be so sad about, really? Life is good. We'll meet our baby soon and we have a great new job and spring is here, it's sunny and nice. When I walk outside, it's to the scent of freshly cut grass. I am in good health. I am loved so much by so many people. My pregnancy is going well, my baby is going to be here soon. So light, and yet I feel dark and heavy.

Physically, my body is not my own. Hormones course through my veins and I have no power to stop how they make me feel, when they make me feel it.

My stomach is huge and uncomfortable. Walking is no longer just something I do, it's a conscious act. I've gained 7 pounds in 3.5 weeks and sometimes when the baby moves, I have to push him back to a different position because he's hurting me.

I can't sleep. I'm throwing up again, unpredictably. Friday morning, last night, and at 4 AM when I got up to go to the bathroom. My body wants food, but nothing sounds or looks appealing. I feel like I need to eat constantly, but at the same time I don't feel like eating. There seems little reason to what will improve my stomach, and what will make me sick.

My to-do list is a mile long. Things that used to be easy, like picking up the living room, are daunting to me now. I have not done a good job of teaching Sam to pick up after himself, but I don't have the patience to start right now. I can't bend over and pluck up the dirty clothes or toys. I almost can't reach the bottom of the washer and the back of the drier. I can't carry more than a couple of pounds, so there are things that need to take out to the garage that just sit. I can no longer carry anything up the stairs - it's hard enough just to carry myself up.

I can ignore it all for a while. Getting caught up in Google Reader, or taking Sam down to the bus stop and playing for a few minutes in the driveway. But it catches me again, when Justin calls to say Hi and I tell him that I had a bad morning, it all just rushes back and I find myself in tears again. When I call my Mom to check in about our book club meeting and she asks how I am.

I hate writing about it. I hate that it is how it is. I feel like a big jerk baby, and I don't want to spread my negativity. But at the same time, how do I write about anything else right now? There are 10 posts in my draft folder I'd rather be finishing, but I just can't do it right now.

I can't wait to meet my baby, but at the same time I am scared. I would be stupid not to be, really. Two kids instead of one. Not knowing how Sam will react. Not knowing how I'll do since Justin won't be home like he was last time. Maybe it will be easy. We'll make the adjustment, and we'll be a family of four. We have other help, my Mom and her husband especially, and my Mother-in-law Deanna and her husband. They will help with Sam. Mom will take time off work. Deanna wil take Sam to her place for a visit. We will be okay. It's just hard to see it sometimes.

Now I sit on the couch wondering what to do next. It's been hours since I started writing this. It's come a little at a time, any more and I can't hold back the tears. The baby is pressing on my bladder and at the same time my ribs. I am hungry and not sure what to eat. I have an hour and a half before Sam gets home and there is so much to be done, but I really just want to take a nap.

I almost don't want to hit publish. What's the point? I don't want people to feel sorry for me. I don't want people to think that I think I have a terrible life. I have no idea what I want. This isn't even good writing. It's disjointed - how could it not be? This is just me. Right now.
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April 8, 2010

35 Weeks: UGH

I am now 35 weeks pregnant. First, let's talk about how I felt last time I was 35 weeks pregnant. Here is an excerpt from an entry from April 2006, when I was pregnant with Sam:

Do you hear that? 26 days until this little guy is due to join us in the world. I can't believe it. Things are going all right. I've been getting some stuff done during the day, but when it's later at night I still feel anxious, and my head is filled with the things I still have to get done. But, I have gotten the following done this week:

  • Put together the crib.
  • Put together the toy box. This was actually an ordeal, as I mentioned in the photo album. I put the whole thing together myself and then got to the LAST step, which was attaching the safety springs so the lid won't fall down. After I attached them, it would not close! I almost went crazy, and Justin finally figured out that the wood blocks that are attached to the lid to screw the springs into had been attached upside down at the factory. For some reason, the one thing they had to do themselves, they couldn't do right. Sigh.... all is well now though, and the toy box is very cute.
  • Called & set up the first delivery for our diaper service.
  • Called & made an appointment with the pediatrician next week.
  • Cleaned out the storage at our apartment to make a little more room for whatever we need it for.
  • Packed up some glasses in the kitchen cabinets to make room for the bottles & put them in.
  • Went to Babies R Us again and got a few more things I needed.
  • Talked to Kira about picking up our dresser, which is finally in.

Now, let's talk about things I got done this week, with 32 days left to go:

  • Overreact several times (a day)
  • Cry three times at the show "Parenthood."
  • Clean approximately .75 rooms per day, then feel like I needed a nap afterwards.
  • Not take a shower for several days.
  • Wish Justin was home from work. Despite the fact that he is at his awesome new job, which became paperwork official on Wednesday and is great so far.
  • Give Sam a bath when I realized I didn't know when he'd had his last one.
  • Wash a load of baby clothes, then abandon them in the drier. Also abandoned the second load in the washer, and now it needs to be washed again.

Um... yeah. We don't have a crib set up for Danny, and we have no place in the kitchen to keep bottles. We need to pack up the fine china and get it back to Justin's Mom, but we don't have the right containers, and that hasn't happened yet.

Since we seem to be on a roll with lists, here is a list of things that I am currently unable to do, which is quite frustrating:

  • Keep my house clean because every task takes 100 times more energy than it used to.
  • Manage my diet effectively because really it seems like I need to be eating constantly and I'm just not accustomed to it. Also, half the time nothing sounds good at all.
  • Go more than 20 minutes without peeing. Okay, I may be exaggerating a little bit but c'mon... we should have bought stock in toilet paper.
  • Walk more than 5 feet or 3 stairs without feeling like I need an inhaler.
  • Explain to Sam why he can't climb on, push on, knee, elbow or sit on my stomach in any manner that seems to mean anything to him.
  • Prevent myself from becoming frustrated in about 10 seconds. Apparently my rope has become about an inch long, and it doesn't take much for me to reach the end of it.
  • Go grocery shopping at a reasonable pace (I move like a tortoise) and not feel like my belly is about to fall off when I'm done.

With Sam, I made it to less than a week before his due date before I felt "done." If you've ever been pregnant, you know what I'm talking about - reaching that plateau where you feel done and start to wish that the baby would come early. I never wished for or thought Sam would come early, but now I find myself thinking that I wouldn't mind if Danny showed up a week or two before he's due!

At the same time, I don't feel ready! We still have stuff we need to get, including clothes and bottles, and the baby's room? Not ready in ANY way. But hey, we don't need too much, right? A few outfits, some diapers... In any case, I know he's still growing and I am okay if it goes all the way, but I'm pretty sure if he's late I'm going to punch someone.

Speaking of growing, do you want to know how I know he's growing? Because I have gained SIX POUNDS in the last three weeks. Two a week. That's right. I went 33 weeks without gaining weight, and then BOOM! I don't feel too bad about it since I lost 10 lbs early on, so right now I'm at the weight I started at 8 months ago. Even if I gain 2 pounds a week until I have this baby, I'll end up a little lighter than when I started after he comes out. Not too bad! BUT, it is still disconcerting to see the numbers on the scale go up so much after such a long plateau!

We still have not chosen a middle name yet. We have not talked about it lately, but we were at a sort of impasse last time we did. So, we'll see!

At my last midwife appointment, I met her assistant, who was very nice. She also felt Danny is head down now. It's weird because he's curved so that his back is on my left side and his butt/feet are on my right. So, I only feel movement one one side ever. I feel big rolling movements when he shifts his body/butt and kicks. I also feel him punching me in the crotch sometimes. Thanks for that, little dude. At this point sometimes I have to push at him when he moves a certain way because it can get uncomfortable when he stretches my belly too much!

I will post a belly picture this weekend when I hit 36 weeks, I didn't get one last weekend. For now all I really want is to take about 2 naps a day and sleep for 15 hours a night. Oh well, we can't always get what we want.

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April 6, 2010

Where to Find me Online

So, there are all these crazy sites out there for networking and communities and this and that and the other thing.

Yesterday I finally set up a profile at The Blog Frog. See that little widget over in my sidebar? It's a cool site where you can follow blogs and instantly have an easy forum for connecting and discussions. I've seen in a couple of different places and decided to give it a try, so if you're so inclined, please come visit me and connect with me and my readers there!

Here are some other places you can find me online...

Facebook
Twitter
Yelp
Twitter Moms
The Savvy Source
LinkedIn
Parents Connect

Where can I connect with you?
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April 5, 2010

Boundless Blessings

It's been almost a week since we found out about the job. The job that we were hoping so hard for. The possibility that kept us up in the air for two weeks, that we were waiting, walking on eggshells and praying for after his unexpected layoff. The job that got him excited about the possibilities for the first time in a long time.

There are a lot of reasons that this job seems so wonderful. Justin will be working as a computer programmer again at Whatcom Community College. Despite his foray back into tech support/networking for the last couple of years, programming is what he loves to do. I know that recently he's felt uninspired and longed for the days when he got paid to go and actually create something. Beyond the actual job, there is the location.

We both have ties to the community college, but Justin's are very strong. His dad was the President of the college for the years between 1984 and 2007. He built it up from one building out in the county to what it is now - an 8 building campus close to the mall and many other things that also got built up during that time. Justin has been around the campus and connected to the college since he was 4 years old, both of us were students there. Justin worked there previously while he was a student, with the same guy he's working with now, who he really likes.
Justin's older brother got married in the theater there, and a couple of years later, Justin and I got married AND had our reception there!

In the Heiner Center Theater:


25 Entire Party

Justin in front of the Heiner Center on the fountain:

06 Justin Fountain

Not only is it a special place for us, but I think that Justin is going to do amazingly well in an academic environment. Not only that, but the hours will be more regular, he'll get actual vacation time, paid holidays, and life/disability insurance for the first time since Sam was born.

Anyhow, I didn't necessarily mean to go on so long about WHY we were so excited, but there it is! Where I'm really going with this post is a little bit darker, but bright in the end.

The week and a half in between when Justin got laid off and when we found out he got this job were really hard. We have been in situations before when we were counting pennies and living paycheck to paycheck. But this was different. For a THANKFULLY very short while, we were not sure how we were going to buy food for ourselves. Not knowing at all what the future holds is not easy. Add to it the way Justin's job ended and that he was feeling pretty low during that time, pregnancy hormones, and that Sam could sense that something was not going so well around here... it was painful.

I was panicked almost daily about our financial situation and what we were going to do. Even now, it's a little bit tough to try and plan out the next month not knowing when we ill get our first paycheck and when Justin's official first day will be at the new job.

But through all that darkness, there was something that we sometimes forget about. There was a light shining all around us. Sometimes it does take a hard time to remind you of the amazing people that are in your life. In a time when fear easily overwhelmed me, these people were there to grab my hands, lift me up, and tell me that I wasn't alone.

The generosity of our families, and of one friend in particular, blew me away. Honestly, to the point of having no words that could express how grateful I was that we are blessed with these incredible, loving people in our lives.

Because of them, we will be able to get through the next month until Justin gets paid again. Because of them we have plenty of food in our fridge. Because of them, Sam had an Easter Basket this year. Because of them we know we'll be able to afford gas to get to appointments and for Justin to drive to work. Because of them we'll be able to pay our bills in April and still have something left over to live on. Because of them, I have been able to relax.

Because of them, I have been reminded that it is okay to be humble and to accept gifts where God offers them. That there is no shame in letting people know when you are hurting. Because being honest with what's happening in your life can lead to help you didn't even know was there for you.

I think it's natural that most of us have difficulty accepting this type of gifts. It's never easy to admit that you need to rely on other people. Even when you know you need help, it can feel like too much. Sometimes it's very hard to give in, to surrender to offerings and blessings where they come, not where you are COMFORTABLE with them coming.

It reminds me of the inherent good that I try to see in the world. It reinforces my belief that people are good at heart, and want to help each other. It helps me remember that things turn out okay if you can try to let go and trust the love that people have in their hearts. It gives me a great feeling to remember the times I've been able to help people, and helps me look forward to a time when I will be able to 'pay it forward' to someone else.

Through hard times, I have been reminded of the boundless blessings that surround me. My fear is washed away, and replaced by love, excitement for this new opportunity, and joy in the people I love most in my life.
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April 2, 2010

Friday Fragments: A Sunny Day (even if it's cloudy outside)

Mommy's Idea

I've watched Kori do Friday Fragments every week and thought about participating many times, but this is my first week! Friday Fragments are bits and pieces of your week that are usually brief; too short for a stand-alone post, but too good to discard. Collect humorous observations, "Heard" items, and other small gems and put them together in a Friday Fragments post. Friday Fragments are the brainchild of Mrs.4444 and you can find more at Half Past Kissin' Time.

*** First off, I'm sorry I haven't posted anything this week. I have about 15 posts in my head and just haven't had the time to sit down and actually write them. If you haven't heard, we got GREAT news on Tuesday - the job that Justin was waiting to hear back on came through! He will be officially starting sometime next week, although he's actually been there a few days this week already. We are super excited about it and there's a whole post there, probably up sometime next week. I hadn't posted anything about it here b/c Justin has a post in mind he wants to write, and I've been waiting for him to have time. I'll make him do it over the weekend so next week we can get back on schedule!

*** I am giant. I will be 35 weeks pregnant tomorrow and gained 2 lbs in the past week. What?! More about all of that next week, for now I'll just say I'm sort of sedentary and exhausted and feel humongous and slightly unweildy. Also, my hormones are completely out of control.

*** Driving around on Wednesday while Sam was at school, I saw two different people who I just looked at them and felt instant dislike because I could tell how COOL they thought they were. The first was a hipster type, jacket, scruffy, sunglasses. The second was a 'gangsta' type with clothes 3 sizes two big and a swagger no doubt caused by trying not to have his pants fall off.

*** If I had the money and occassion to buy a fancy new sportscar? I would totally get one of the new Camaros. I saw one last week on Human Target, then saw one driving around and I think they are soooo pretty. You can tell I'm a girl because I just called a car pretty.

*** Sam's Grandma and Grandpa are teachers and were both on Spring Break this week. My mom bought him a climber, and Grandpa Paul put it together this week. I see HOURS of fun in our future, and can't wait to have other kids over so Sam can play on it with his friends.

IMG_2950

*** I have been feeling a little bit bummed about the meetup group that I'm running. I took it over from a friend a few months ago because she just couldn't fit it in anymore, and attendance has pretty much sucked. For the 15 or so playdates/outings we have scheduled in April most of them only have me and 1 other person saying they'll come. It used to be so great to have playdates to look forward to every week where I could relax and Sam could play. I miss my old friends who I used to see every week, and our Moms Nights Out. I don't really know what to do about it, I just sent out an email to all the members asking what would help, but haven't gotten a huge response so far. Right now I'm just feeling like it's a lot of effort to keep so much time clear on my calendar, to spend time finding new things to do, and have no one show up. So, I guess we'll see.



*** I am looking forward to this weekend, we are heading down to Seattle for Easter Brunch with friends, and I'm going to get to meet my friend Tara's baby boy for the first time! I can't wait. I've also got plans with friends Saturday night for one of their birthdays and I'm looking forward to seeing people. We have not made up an Easter Basket for Sam yet, I guess that's on the list for today or tomorrow.

*** I just finished reading "The Girl with No Shadow" by Joanne Harris. She is one of my favorite authors, and this one is a continuation of the story she started in "Chocolat." I HIGHLY recommend her books, I loved this new one and "Chocolat" as well as "Five Quarters of the Orange." I read this one in only a couple days when Sam was at his Grandma's house last weekend and couldn't put it down! Now I'm reading "Sati" by Christopher Pike, which has been on my list for quite a while. Next I need to tackle "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin for book club later this month.

*** Have you seen those commercials for Kool Aid Fizzers? Does anyone else find it totally creepy that it shows all these little creatures/organisms swimming inside the Kool Aid? Also, those Wheat Thin commercials where that handsome, fit black man dives through the air to crunch on a Wheat Thin? Totally weird.

*** I was writing this post and blogger said it wasn't autosaving, then I copied it just in case, but forgot to paste it into notepad, and copied and pasted something else. When I tried to publish, blogger was down. I thought I lost it but when I was finally able to log back in, almost everything I'd written HAD saved somehow. Whew!

*** Sam had his first dentist appointment on Thursday. Yes, he is almost four years old. Shuddup. He got his X-Rays and did a really good job! He does not have any cavities, just one spot that we need to make sure to keep clean. I also think that having gone to the dentist will make him more willing to have his teeth brushed, it was certainly easier this morning! Yay!
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