Friday, September 12, 2014

Dropping Awesomeness in my Bucket all Week

Every now and then I run across a something on the Internet that totally affects my life for the good! Maybe it's a blog post, or a news piece, or a spiritual thought, or a thoughtful essay on a parenting website, or something someone posted on my facebook newsfeed.... This one came to me through my facebook newsfeed from a friend and it's called Drops of Awesome. Please read it! The idea is simply wonderful. I've been thinking about it all week and applying it to my life and it really works! I've been able to combat so many negative thoughts with Drops of Awesome and have been filling my positive bucket to overflowing. I've noticed a real difference in how I see myself, especially how I've been able to build myself up instead of beat myself down when I want to feel good.
The first day I tried this concept of Drops of Awesome I caught myself off-guard. It was just last week. I had just finished a great exercise jog around my neighborhood, where the sun was shining, the birds were singing, and I was filled to the brim with happy endorphins!  I felt so good I was grinning from ear to ear!  However, right as I was floating on Cloud 9 my negative mind chimed in with: "Why do you feel so good? You're still fat! The jog didn't change a darn thing. You gained too much weight this pregnancy and you still have 30 more pounds to lose and all you did was run around the neighborhood! You don't deserve to feel good until you've dropped all this weight," said my inner demon-monster.
Right as these negative thoughts were barging their way into my mind I immediately remembered Drops of Awesome and filled myself up with positive. Yes, I am bigger and more out of shape than I want to be, but I feel great right now! My body is healthy and strong, and my baby is beautiful. My amazing body grew this beautiful baby and I get some drops of awesome in my bucket for jogging around the block!
Kathryn says in her post,
"When I started thinking about my life in terms of adding these little Drops of Awesome for every tiny act of good, I found that I was doing more and more of them because it’s a lot more fun to do good when you’re rewarded with joy, rather than being guilted about every failure in your past." Kathryn Thompson
So I started rewarding myself for more things I was doing well all week. Things I had put off forever, things I hated doing, and things that I needed to change about myself. 
I jogged around the neighborhood after not jogging for 9 months. Drops of Awesome!
I finally bought my son his scout shirt who turned 8 in march, and sewed the patches on. Drops of Awesome!
I mowed the backyard lawn and picked up dog poop after never doing it, ever. Drops of Awesome!
I swept under the kitchen table this week. Drops of Awesome!
I started reading my scriptures everyday....again. Drops of Awesome!
I was patient and loving with my four year old when he threw another tantrum at the breakfast table. Drops of Awesome!
 I've been able to see how these Drops of Awesome really move you forward and help you to be a better person, even when you've failed miserably in the past.  I wasn't patient with my four year old yesterday. Not at all. His illogical freak-out episodes were driving me insane and I lost my temper more than once. But today is a new day! Instead of me getting upset with him about eating his breakfast when I asked him to, and him crying about his food, and us both being angry, I made a Lion den under the computer desk where we ate our breakfasts together. We laughed, and roared, and ate scrambled Zebra. I didn't beat myself up for not doing this yesterday because I was an awesome mom today. Drops of Awesome!
See how this works? 
"In the end, it’s really about allowing yourself to feel joy and allowing yourself to be proud of the small victories of life. This builds momentum and you want more drops in your bucket and when you don’t get as many, you pick yourself up and say, “What can I do next?”
What I can do next is keep exercising, keep feeling good, keep being patient with my challenging son, keep serving my family, keep being happy for who I am, keep enjoying my new baby, keep combating negative thoughts, and keep remembering that I am not perfect, but I can do better each day.
** Seattle-based blogger Kathryn Thompson just came out with her first book, a journal based on this blog post. It's called, "Drops of Awesome: The You're-More-Awesome-Than-You-Think Journal." From Amazon: If you aren’t rooting for yourself, who will? Drops of Awesome is that unique discovery journal about celebrating the amazingness of you. Based on the viral blog Drops of Awesome, this book helps you become your own biggest cheerleader and tells your inner critic to stick a sock in it.
And I want it! I want to pre-order it from Amazon here and start my own personal Drops of Awesome journey! I'm so excited!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

7 weeks Mally Pie

*He weighs 15 lbs and is 23 inches tall.
*Everywhere we go people tell me how adorable he is...and how big!
*He's wearing 3-6 months outfits now.
*He spits up a lot after he eats. Sometimes the milk comes spilling out the side like a fountain. Then he burps and eats some more.
*He shoots milk out of his nostrils sometimes. It's freaky.
*He started to genuinely smile at 6 weeks old. It's the biggest, most happiest baby smile, and always makes me want to cry because he looks so happy! He does it once a day.
*He loves to be held and will only take a nap in his swinging swing or if I'm holding him/wearing him. 
*He likes his mom to hold him best. :)
*When I smell the top of his head I am filled with happy, loving, nurturing happiness. (someones needs to bottle and sell baby head smell!)
*I noticed that at 2 weeks old he would get excited when he heard my voice. i.e. he would start chewing on his fists or look around the room with wide eyes and move his head from side to side. He knows his mama!
*He's always so warm. And squishy. 
*We call him Mal-Mal or Mala or Mally Pie. 
*He sleeps right next to me in bed, between Micah and I. 
*He sleeps like a rock for 7-9 hours straight then wakes up grunting for milkies. (none of my babies have ever slept this long at night!! 2-3 hours MAX. I'm reeeeeally loving this!)
*His dad gave him a baby blessing on Sunday. It was a beautiful, powerful blessing just for Malachi.
*He's loved and adored by his family.

We are so blessed to have baby Mal-Mal. I can't imagine our lives without him. He completes our group of boy children perfectly! 
My house may be a disaster, all my projects pushed aside, and personal hygiene in question, but there is a whole lotta love for this baby, which makes it all worth it. 
At the computer with mama.

Sleeping with his pinky held high.

We take him on dates with us.

6 week photos

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Homeschool,public-school, pre-school, Mom-school

I just got home from dropping off my first grader at elementary school for his third week, and my pre-schooler for his first day of pre-school. I wasn't expecting to cry as I walked to the car as I've been really excited for this day to come, but tiny tears came anyways. What a big, grown up kid he is!! We are sending him to preschool for 2 1/2 hours, 5 days a week, to give him extra fun stuff to do while mama gets my ducks all in a row. Of course I forgot my camera today so here's a picture of Jonah in our backyard on a random day that isn't the first day of pre-school:
Family dynamics are such an interesting thing! When my kids were younger I pictured us doing the same things forever: we'd wake up whenever we wanted to, cuddle in bed and read stories while I nursed a baby, eat a leisurely breakfast, then go play outside at a park for hours. Our days would drift blissfully by as we laughed, and played, and explored the world around us.....
But alas, our dynamics have changed! Each of my boys has an innate desire to learn and grow in different ways, which has taken our children in several different directions, each on a unique path which they need. 

Odin loves first grade. He loves his teacher, he loves his friends, he loves worksheets, and homework, and organizing his desk! He loves P.E. and drama, and art and computer class. He loves being at school, overall. When I pick him up everyday he is genuinely happy and excited about life. I overheard him telling his big brother the other day,"School is really fun fun! You should come to school, too- You would like it!" 
Since I forgot my camera on the first day of school here is a random picture of Odin roasting a hot dog in our backyard that is not the first day of school:

Actually, the truth is, Zadok would really hate going to school. Zadok is not cut out for any of that formal education stuff-and that's ok. I like him home with me where I know he's learning and growing in his happiest environment possible. We started Zadok out this year by doing an online homeschooling curriculum called K12.  (Basically third grade public school at home.) At first I thought it would be a positive thing for Zadok to have his own computer, his own classes,  and to answer to someone else besides me, but after a week 1/2 of it we realized that the overly structured, demanding schedule was putting too much stress on the both of us. 
So, we're trying to figure out what to do about that. I'm hoping I can tweak the program so we can skip all the "busywork," and get down to igniting the light of learning, because,

“A child is not a vessel to be filled, but a lamp to be lit.” – Hebrew Proverb

One thing that has been confirmed to me through this experience thus far, is that Zadok is truly a natural learner. He absorbs anything and everything he reads, and picks up on most new concepts immediately. He doesn't need to be told what to learn, he just needs to have resources put in front of him so he can. He's such a brilliant kid, I feel blessed to be on this journey with him. He has come a long way in overcoming his anxiety and shyness and is continuing to move in such a positive direction. There's still certain things he will NOT do, (like sing at church, participate in his primary program, put on bowling shoes, smile for a picture, or play team sports ) but there's a really long list of awesome things he DOES do, which makes this mama proud- (like reading advanced novels for his age, playing complicated card games and computer games, rocking at spelling and vocabulary, being a fun friend, being cleverly witty, writing books on dragons, helping his little brothers, making good choices, and basically being awesome.)
Z-boy working on a school assignment for K12. He mostly just likes wearing the microphone thingy.
I won't lie, I really missed Odin his first two weeks of school. I wanted him home with me. I wanted all of us together again. I felt guilty for sending him to school all day while I still had my other three boys at home. I started to worry that I was doing the wrong thing by sending him to first grade. Anxiety and fear started taking over my thoughts instead of peaceful assurance. I started worrying that my boys wouldn't be as close as they are right now. I worried that Odin would make new friends and then Zadok wouldn't be his best friend anymore. I worried that I would exhaust myself everyday packing Odin lunches, driving to school twice a day, and keeping on top of his homework.
But all those fears dissipated as I continued to pray.
 I've found myself easing into a nice routine that we're starting to enjoy. As it turns out, I like dropping Odin off at school! I  like saying hi to his teacher, meeting the other kids in his class, and watching him settle into his little desk. My little Jonah likes to walk in with us to say goodbye to Odin, and stares at everything with big, curious eyes. 
 I also like picking him back up! I like seeing his happy, excited face, and hearing all about the fun things he did on the drive home. He even started eating the healthy school lunches, which I thought he would never do! (This makes my life much, much easier.)
And I don't think I have to worry about these two boys not being as close. They have so much fun when they are together, and the space apart may give them time to recharge for their next round of craziness.  
So in the end, I know in my heart of hearts that we are making the right decisions for education/learning/growth right now-- For Odin, for Zadok, and even for little Jonah who is our pre-school pioneer. He had a great day at pre-school today, too!
So, my fear and anxiety is lessening as I read the scriptures and pray for guidance. I know that when we do the simple things that God asks us to do, everything else falls into place. 
I am also learning so much right now as a mom. I can feel the growth inside my soul stretching into new dimensions. My children teach me so much and give me the experiences I need to be a stronger, wiser, and overall better human being. I feel like I am deep in the depths of Mothering-101, and might even pass the class!

And did I mention I have a huge, chunky baby? 6 weeks old and growing. I love him!

On a side note, I might wonder someday how I was able to type on my blog with a newborn baby in my home. (A newborn baby that wants to be snuggled constantly, doesn't sleep without me holding him, and requires sustenance every 2-3 hours). Well, this is how:
He sleeps on my lap on a nursing boppy while I hunch over and type over his big baby body. It's not so good on my back, but that's the price I have to pay for wanting to write on my blog. :) p.s. Love the photobomb, Zadok.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Stop, Drop, and Pray

Shortly after Micah and I were married (in 2004) we moved to Los Angeles, California where we both sought employment in our areas of interest. Our goal in moving there was to both finish college while working at jobs we enjoyed. 
We had a hard time finding jobs at first! Micah was hoping to get his old job back at the LA Zoo, but  that didn't work out as planned. And I was having a tough time finding a job working with at-risk-youth, like I had wanted. As our first month in the big city started to unfold, we desperately needed money to pay our rent due the following month.  
After weeks of interviews and struggling to find the perfect job, I finally got hired for a youth rehabilitation program for troubled teenage girls coming out of the juvenile detention system. I was so excited to start working again, and especially for a job I knew I would like. Micah was still unemployed for the time being.

Fast forward a month later: I have locked myself in the bathroom at work and am crying on my knees, praying to God that I can get through another day of this horrible job. There's a large, terrifying black girl named Ashley banging on the bathroom door yelling at me to give her the weekly allowance she deserves or she'll punch my face off.  She's been calling me "Dingy White Bitch" all week long. In fact they all call me that-- all six of the girls that live in the transition home I work at. It hurts and it bothers me, but it's not the worst of the problems I have at this job.  I'm the only white employee working as a mentor at a transition home for inner-city black and Hispanic kids coming out of jail. The kids don't like me nor do they respect me. They break all the rules when I'm on shift. They make fun of me. They walk all over me. And I can't even begin to empathize with the horrible life situations they must have come from before they arrived here! My fellow employees aren't friendly towards me. I feel useless and vulnerable at this job. 

Ashley's threats are starting to scare me as she gets louder and more aggressive. "Open the door you Dingy white bitch! Open the effing door or I'll punch your face in." 
I say a prayer one more time, get off my knees and open the door. I smile sweetly and professionally, and try my hardest to stay calm. I also look out the window wishing desperately that my co-staff is on her way up the doorstep. She's also a large black woman, and she knows how to handle these girls. One quick word from her and they'll be back to the expected, acceptable behavior. But she's not here, yet. 
"Now Ashley," I say, "You know you can't have your weekly allowance until you finish your chores and clean your room. This money is for after dinner when we take you to the dollar store."
"Shut the eff up you Dingy White Bitch," she yells so close to my face, I can smell her flaming-hot cheetoh breath enter my pores. She continues, "My supervisor said I could have the effing money now, so hand it the eff over!"
I want to cry. I want to open the front door and run away from there. I want to tell this young fifteen year old girl  that her life will amount to nothing if she keeps playing these  stupid games. 
The games and lies and excuses never seem to end at this transition home, and in these girl's lives. There's always a problem, and it always seems to be my fault (or anyone else's) that needs to fix it. 
Right when I think she's going to let me have it, my co-staff, Veeona, pulls in the front driveway. Ashley goes and sits on the couch with the other girls watching TV, acting like nothing ever happened. She smiles as Veeona walks in the door. I smile and pretend I'm a hard-ass mentor for inner-city bad kids who's tough behavior and threats don't bother me a bit. 
When my shift is finally over I get in my car and cry all the way home. 
But I made it! I made it another day, and a paycheck to pay the rent. Micah was hired at an animal clinic the next day, so I quit that horrible job and never looked back. 
However, years later, as I reflect back on that experience, it was here that I learned to stop, drop, and pray whenever I was in a stabbing situation. I would stop what I was doing, find somewhere to drop to my knees (usually the bathroom) and pray with all my heart that God would protect me and help me to get through another day, another hour, or another minute of this job. It was that bad. Maybe even worse than the Flash Flood experience, but I'm not sure--they come pretty close. 
I know that the Holy Ghost was guiding me and helping me in some hard situations, as my pleading prayers were answered each day, each eight hour shift. I even found a place in my heart to pray for these troubled girls who may never know a better life. 

Recently I've been applying this same principle to my current family situation, as I've been facing some pretty tough challenges over here. 
With the kid's school starting, (public, preschool, and an intensive homeschool program), and all the kids  getting the flu, and Micah starting work, and me taking care of the new baby, and trying to get organized, and making meals, and trying to get enough sleep, and keeping the house sanitary, and me getting mastitis, I just about lost my mind. Seriously. I started having the worst anxiety I've had in years, and felt like I wanted to cry, non-stop. Or open the front door and run far away.....
I can't even dare to compare my wonderful  life as a mommy to working at that job, but I do know that when I feel so overwhelmed that I want to cry and run away, it's time to stop. drop. and pray. 
So I did. Wherever and whenever I could. 
And I could totally feel the spirit guide me, and the inspiration fill me, and the anxiety melt away, as I figured out how to conquer each challenge that came my way.

Anyways, these are my thoughts today. Pray, pray, pray. I don't have much time to blog these days, but I found a little window of time to share these thoughts from my heart. 

Yours Truly,
Dingy White Bitch

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Our 4th Baby Birth Story- a planned home-birth with a surprise ending!

This is the birth story of our 4th baby boy, Malachi, born July 19, 2014. He was a planned home-birth with a surprise ending! 
Our very first baby in 2006 was a natural, un-medicated hospital birth.
Our next two babies were home-water births attended by a midwife in 2008 and 2010. I thought I'd mention these details just to add broader understanding to our experience.

*For those who get squeamish with birth details, feel free to scroll through and look at the pictures. For those who love reading birth stories, read on and enjoy!

Labor started Saturday morning July 19th at about 6am, with short contractions happening every 30 minutes or so. I was also starting to lose some blood, as my cervix lining was thinning out. This was a good sign, (as I was assured from our midwife. It had been 4 years since I’d gone into labor, and my memory was pretty fuzzy about what was normal.) At around 12:pm I sent Micah to a nearby Thai restaurant to get me a bowl of red coconut curry and rice. I wanted to eat something yummy before the real work began, and this was the only thing that sounded good!
While he was gone my contractions were getting stronger and longer, about 3-4 minutes apart and 1 minute long. As soon as he got home we called our midwife and Micah started filling the birth tub in our bedroom. Our boys were bouncing off the walls with excitement when we told them that it was finally time for baby to come today.
 Next I tied a sarong loosely around me, so I could walk and labor comfortably around the house. I began to walk up and down the halls of our home, stopping periodically to sound and breathe through each contraction, and also stopping to drink sips of red hot curry.
Our midwife and assistants arrived at about 1:30pm. I continued to labor at home as planned. It was very peaceful and cozy in my bedroom. 
Micah came into the birth pool with me and supported me, as I needed him. It was a very special experience to have him in the tub with me. He was a strong support for me throughout this entire experience. He even made me laugh at moments when I should’ve been focusing on breathing. 
It felt so nice to have confident, supportive friends in the room with us also. Our birth team was made up of my midwife Dyanna, and her two apprentices Gina and Paige. My friend Jillian came to take pictures. Her energy was peaceful and calming, as well. We listened to the labor music CD I had made, and talked when moved to do so. I got a little emotional during the labor just because birth has never been easy for me. I was scared for the pushing part because that has always been my biggest challenge in birth-(to push through the pain and exhaustion at the very end when all I want is to give up.) But, I worked through my tears, breathed through the hard contractions, and was overall eager to get to the end of this. Everything was going in a positive direction as the hours ticked away, and as baby Malachi worked harder and harder to get here.

When I felt the urge to start pushing (at about 5:30pm), at first the baby wouldn’t budge because of an anterior lip, as well as the giant, bulging bag of waters, which he couldn’t get past. Over the next several minutes I switched positions in the tub, pushed really hard, and popped the bag of waters. My midwife was going to help by moving the anterior lip over as he emerged. He was trying so hard to come out! I pushed and pushed and pushed through several more contractions. Our midwife could feel his head, and his little patch of hair. He was so close- so very, very close to coming out!

As I started pushing through a final contraction, I was suddenly overcome with excruciating pain all through my left thigh and abdomen.  His head had tilted ever so slightly, putting pressure on a nerve. It felt like someone stabbing my side and abdomen over and over with a knife, putting me through the worst torture imaginable. It seemed that I was no longer participating in normal labor as I was now in a crazy, alternate universe of debilitating pain. I remember yelling over and over,” I can’t do this! All I feel is pain. All I feel is pain!” I started hyperventilating and I couldn’t calm myself down.
My midwife had me get out of the birth tub at this point to try pushing on land because I couldn’t push in the pool any longer. So, my husband held me up under my armpits as I used his bent knees to support my bottom weight underneath me on the carpet. I tried pushing through a few more contractions but crumbled over in exhaustion in the end. The nerve pain was just too much for me to bear. I insisted that they take me to the hospital, give me drugs, and put me out of my misery. In fact, I begged for everyone to take me to the hospital, give me drugs, and put me out of my misery. I was done pushing, done breathing, and done being in such horrific pain.
At this point our midwife gave me two options:
1. Lie down on the bed, try to calm myself down, and push when I was ready again. 2. Go to the hospital, get drugged, put myself out of my misery, and then push.
I didn’t need to think this over very long.  I couldn’t possibly see #1 happening without being put through hell and back so I chose #2. I needed immediate intervention and this was my answer.

The next part of being in labor is an absolute blur. I’ve heard that when people are in such excruciating pain they don’t remember details. I sort of remember my midwife and husband trying to get me to walk up the stairs to the carport, and me being confused about what we were doing. I even remember refusing to go. I remember crying and screaming a lot. Then I vaguely remember getting in the back of our car while Micah sped me over to the hospital, which is just a few blocks away (thank goodness). I remember being hunched over the back seat of the car wearing a wet sports bra and a giant diaper, and yelling in pain. I also remember being hysterical in the parking lot of the hospital while I waited for a wheel chair to push me inside, while hanging onto Micah and Jillian’s shoulders. I recall trying to differentiate between nerve pain and labor contractions and not knowing which was which anymore. Then I remember being wheeled into a room in Labor and Delivery and being placed onto a bed, totally naked. I remember holding onto the rails of the bed, whaling and crying, and begging everyone in the room to help me. There were nurses coming in and out, hooking me up with an IV, putting me on a fetal monitor, taking blood for labs, and checking my cervix while they were at it. It felt like pure chaos to me--not at all what we had planned.
My husband was right there next to me the whole time, as well as Dyanna and Gina and our friend Jillian who had been taking pictures the entire time. Their presence brought me great comfort, within the chaos. The next thing I remember is sitting up on the side of the bed while a needle was inserted into my spine. Then within 15 minutes this amazing feeling of relief and happiness come over my entire being. It felt like big, fat, magical, Pixie Dust got sprinkled over the entire lower half of my body, taking the pain completely away. Not only did the anesthesiologist give me an epidural, but he also gave me localized anesthesia for the nerve pain. I could no longer feel my labor contractions, or my lower extremities.
 A huge smile spread over my face. I could suddenly breathe again, think again, talk again, laugh again, and exist in the moment. Yes, I was still having our baby!! Just not under such hellish circumstances!

For the next couple of hours I was able to rest and relax on my little hospital bed of relief before it was time to push again. Only this time I had a doctor in front of me telling me when to push, and a fetal monitor keeping track of my contractions. The epidural made me itchy and shaky, but it was 1000x better than the debilitating nerve pain, by far. In fact, I decided right then and there that I was blissfully in love with my epidural and would never birth naturally again. (Euphoria)
My feet were up in stirrups at this point, with a nurse on one side, and my midwife on the other side, both getting ready to pull my legs back towards my head when it was time to push.  The sensation was starting to come back to my legs and toes at this point. I could also feel mild contractions in my uterus every few minutes. I started to get worried that the nerve pain would come back, too, so I wanted to hurry and push out the baby ASAP. It was 8:40pm when the doctor told me to push hard with the next contraction, so I did. Then he told me to slow down a bit, so I did. Apparently he had to move that pesky anterior lip of my cervix over, since it was still blocking the passageway. Then he told me to push hard again, so I did. But, as I was pushing this time, I could feel a bulging pressure slide through me. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever felt in my entire life! It wasn’t painful, but instead It was a tiny, squishy baby body passing through my body, and I loved being able to feel that little miracle.

I looked down to see Malachi’s little body curled up in the doctor’s gloved hands. Then the doctor put him immediately on my chest. I cried out with happiness, relief, and pure joy.He was darkish purple and covered in blood, vernix, and meconium. I loved him immediately. Our baby Malachi was here safe and sound, and I could finally relax and enjoy him.

This whole experience was really surreal, if not altogether CRAZY. I always wondered what it would be like to give birth under these circumstances, and suddenly there I was, pushing my baby out under anesthesia in the hospital. By the time I got home from the hospital Sunday evening, I was completely exhausted and wiped out. It felt as if someone had run me over with a truck, then left me with a baby to take care of. I laid in bed all day the next day, not only in immense physical pain from the strain of my labor and birth, but also in deep, emotional pain from the intense trauma from the pain I had gone through.
As I looked around our bedroom at what was left of our peaceful, planned homebirth, I cried at the loss of what could have been. I was so close-- so very, very close to pushing our baby out in that birth tub, until that nasty nerve pain started. I was so close to having the peaceful, gentle homebirth we had planned. I was so close to holding my baby in my arms without going through all that pain. I could still smell the raw, powerful fragrance of natural birth, lingering in our bedroom. I could still feel the intensity of the moments as if they were still happening all around me. It was almost too intense for me to be back in our bedroom so soon. The birth kit supplies were still scattered about the room. Towels and sheets lay bunched up on the bed. As I looked around our room I couldn’t hold back my big, sad, broken tears every time I thought about my difficult birth experience.
“Don’t think about it, Sally,” I told myself over and over. “You have a big, beautiful, healthy baby boy in front of you, and that’s all you need to focus on right now. What’s done is done and now it’s time to move on.”
So I would try hard not to think about it and redirect my focus back to my beautiful baby Malachi, with his adorable, little, newborn face, his tiny, fuzzy ears, and those big baby lips puckered up for nursing.
If memories of the hardness of my birth started to surface and break my heart, focusing on his little face mended it all back together again.
Throughout that first day at home my family brought more happiness into my heart. My little 3-year-old Jonah brought me apricots in bed, fresh from our backyard tree. My 6 year old, Odin, wanted to kiss and snuggle the baby anytime I wasn’t holding him. His genuine enthusiasm for his new baby brother melted my heart. And my 8-year-old Zadok’s eyes lit up right when I got home. He would constantly ask me throughout the day if I were okay, which was very touching to me.
Throughout the next few days my thoughtful and caring husband held me tightly every time I needed to cry it out and be held. He would calm down my outbursts of confusion and sadness, and assure me it would all get better in time. Soon enough I would forget the pain, forget the trauma, and only be able to remember the awesome parts.  And of course, getting to snuggle in bed with a beautiful, perfect, delicious smelling newborn baby, was the most healing of all. These sweet and tender moments with my family helped me to eventually get over it and move on from feeling bad about my experience.

In fact, as I’m writing this story 3 weeks later, I can see clearly the blessings and meanings in all of it! I can see how God’s hand had led me through this experience the entire time, and how it has changed me for the better! What we experience during birth has a powerful impact on how we see ourselves and the world around us, and can influence our feelings for good or for bad. I feel like this experience gave me a new perspective on the reality of birth trauma, and has allowed me to be even more empathetic with other’s hard experiences. It has enabled me to better serve those around me who may need my understanding and help. It has also allowed me to be more positive and trusting in our local hospital community, as they were so friendly and respectful, and helped me immensely in my time of need.
I had a fairly negative experience at a hospital with our first child, which prompted us to have the next two at home. However, this experience seemed to heal me of that. (I kinda wasn’t kidding when I said I loved my epidural…)
I also realized that we can’t always control what we have planned, and that’s okay. I know that God has bigger plans for us than we can see for ourselves, and often what we learn from an experience is more important than the experience itself.

Now, when anyone asks me how the birth went, I tell them it was awesome! And I really mean it! There were so many awesome things about this birth experience, that the hard things have just melted away! Here’s a few awesome things about the birth of baby Malachi:
*It was awesome when I got to labor in the birth tub with my husband. *It was awesome when he made me laugh. *It was awesome having my boys in the bedroom with us, their sweet faces so close by. *It was awesome having such a caring and competent midwife and her two wonderful apprentices in my home. *It was awesome when I was able to feel all those pains go away at the hospital. *It was awesome when I pushed our baby out and felt his body slide through me. *It was awesome when I held him for the first time and felt his squishy baby and kissed his squishy face. *It was awesome seeing the proud look on my husband’s face as he admired our new baby boy. *It was awesome when baby started suckling right away. *It was awesome that the doctors and nurses at the hospital were so friendly and helpful. *It was awesome when the nurses cleaned everything up and made sure I was comfy cozy in my recovery room. *It was awesome when I got to rest all night with my baby next to me in our own hospital bed. *It was awesome when I got to order food from this huge restaurant-style menu the next morning and stuff my face because I was starving! (French toast, blueberry capote, fresh fruit, cranberry juice, and chocolate pudding! MMMmmmmmm)
*It was awesome when my boys came to visit me the next day and held the baby for the first time. *It was awesome that my friend Jillian captured everything on camera. *It was awesome to receive so many blessings of comfort from my husband when I needed them. (Before the birth, during the transition to the hospital, and several days postpartum.)
***It was especially awesome that baby Malachi weighed 10 pounds and one ounce of awesomeness, and continues to grow bigger and healthier every day. I am extremely blessed to be his mama! I love you my squishy Mal-mal.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Malachi is here

Malachi arrived July 19, 2014 at 8:42 pm
10 lbs, 1 oz
21 inches long
He's a big, healthy, chubby baby and we love him!
 These were taken at 2 days old.  My friend Jillian took photos of the actual labor and birth, which I'm sure I will share in the near future (the censored versions of course) and tell my birth story. But for now, I have a beautiful baby boy to nurse and snuggle with. He's taking up all my time, and I'm perfectly okay with that. :)


Friday, July 18, 2014

40 weeks Informed

 Today marks 40 weeks of being pregnant with this little one. I am sooooooo ready, and hoping and praying that my uterus will start contracting soon and he'll start making his way into the world. (tonight would be lovely....)
According to evidence-based maternity research, it's normal to have a due date that's off by 2 weeks. Unfortunately, It's also normal to go 2 weeks past your due date and go crazy! 
I'm hoping I don't have to wait too much longer, for the sake of my sanity, not so much for the baby, because I know that he's happily bobbing around in there sucking on his thumb and putting magnificent amounts of pressure on my well as growing strong and healthy brains and lungs.
But really, I feel peaceful at the moment. I have so many positive, supportive, and optimistic people in my life that are here to encourage me if I start to doubt myself. I appreciate the people in my life who take the time to educate themselves and trust the body's natural process of pregnancy and birth. There's so much misinformation and un-truth out there about birth that it gets uncomfortable to carry conversations with others I don't know well. I get a lot of people asking me when I am due. Then when I tell them I am 39/40 weeks along, I get,"Oh wow, my doctor never let me go that long." or ,"Oh wow, aren't you worried about having a big baby?" or, "Oh wow, I never wanted to go past 38 weeks so I opted to induce." 
 I don't personally get down about other's people's choices, or start to compare myself to them, but I do like my own voice to be heard. I want people to know why I make the choices I do--- Why I am standing here at 40 weeks pregnant without a doctor telling me what to do, allowing my baby to grow bigger and bigger, all whilst choosing not to induce.
Contrary to popular opinion, it's not just because it's the natural, organic choice of child-birth, but because it's actually been scientifically, evidence-based and proven to be safer, healthier, and overall better for mom and baby.  (I'm not a hippie!)

There's a great website called Improving Birth that talks all about evidence-based maternity care. According to the website, "Evidence-based care means practices that have been shown by the highest quality, most current medical evidence to be most beneficial to mothers and babies (reducing incidences of injuries, complications, and death)"
I think this is such a great resource for people looking for articles and facts about receiving optimal care in pregnancy and birth. The main message here is that women should be informed of the risks, benefits, and alternatives to whatever choices she has in her maternity care and/or labor and delivery, according to the most current medical research.

There are too many unfortunate stories of women being forced to do things they weren't informed of, and without their consent, and too often without their own knowledge and education. In an ideal world, pregnant and birthing mothers would receive evidence-based information from their doctors and the opportunity to make the best choices for themselves and their babies. We wouldn't have so much,"My doctor wouldn't let me do that,"and more,"I chose to do this because I knew it was right."
Women are taking the power back by educating themselves and choosing the best choices for the best outcomes, with or without their doctor's consent. 
I personally choose not to get induced because I know that it increases the risk of complications in birth, can cause fetal distress on baby and physical distress for me, and increases my chances of C-section. All of these things and more can be read on this sight here.
I was reminded of last year in Hilo when a friend of mine organized an Improving Birth rally outside of the Hilo hospital. It was a friendly, open opportunity to let the community know that they have options, plus encourage the hospital to make those options available to women. Moms who desire a VBAC in a hospital on this island have to fly to another island (Oahu) because of the lack of doctors who will 'let' mothers do VBACS. Yet, the complication rate is still very high causing many mothers and newborns to have to fly to Oahu anyways for incidences due to artificial induction! Talk about uninformed choice-the irony kills me! (You can see me hanging out back there under the canopy supporting the cause.)

So anyways, the point is that we have choices, or at least we should have choices, which is the whole idea behind fighting for them. One of the greatest choices I've been able to make is to birth my babies at home. I am so grateful for the freedom I've have to make this choice, and for the power to educate myself for optimal outcomes. I fully trust my body to do what it needs to do to bring this baby safely into the world. I think about the upcoming birth every single day and envision this little baby boy sliding right out of the birth canal. Well, first I envision him crowning his huge noggin up against my opening cervix while I cringe in pain, then I envision him sliding right out of the birth canal. (I never said home-birth was pain-free or easy, just that I prefer it over everything else. haha)
 The mommy friends I know of who have had complications arise during their homebirths, resulting in transfers to a hospital, are still grateful for the opportunities they each had to make that original choice to be able to labor according to their own evidence-based knowledge. Even though the experience wasn't ideal, the emotional outcomes were still positive because of the power of informed choice. (Not everything goes exactly how we want it to sometimes, but in the end the choices are still available, which is empowering in itself.) 

So here's to being 40 weeks pregnant, keeping positive, and believing in the power of the natural birth process. These are the things that are keeping me afloat right now as we wait for baby boy's arrival. 
(As I sit here I am having Braxton Hicks after Braxton Hicks, contracting, and loosening, over, and over. Please come soon!)

Til next time.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The grocery bagger that pissed me off today

This afternoon I stopped by one of our small-town grocery stores for some milk and bread and other food necessities. I was in a good mood, considering my uterus felt like it was touching the floor, and I was ready for my 3'oclock nap!

However, as we were checking out, the grocery bagger behind me was making small talk with a patron, as he was bagging her groceries. He was an elderly, white, American in his early seventies. 
The subject of cell phones came up, because the lady was holding two cell phones, and I could overhear their conversation because I was right there.
The bagger said, "You know, there were some Saudi Arabia students in here awhile ago and one of them had four cell phones on him!"
So the lady responds casually,"Oh yeah, that's a lot of phone bills."
Then the bagger says with a chuckle,"I was going to ask him which one ACTIVATES the bombs? hahahaha."

And that's when I turned around, pissed and ready to blow his head off (metaphorically). Because I don't think jokes discriminating against certain ethnic groups are funny. Or appropriate. Ever.
I yelled over, "Sir, you'd better check yourself because telling jokes that are racial and discriminating against groups of people different than you is NOT okay. I don't want to hear it and these people don't want to hear it."
I got one nod from a bystander across the aisle, but most everyone in the lines next to me  kept their eyes down.
He immediately tried to excuse himself by saying, "Well, I am a Veteran of 23 years, so maybe I deserve a little credit!"
"Nope," I said back to him, "You deserve absolutely no credit for being racist and discriminating towards the Saudis that live here. It's wrong and it's not okay. If I were you I'd check yourself before telling stupid jokes like that again."

He turned his back to me and didn't say another word. As I walked out to the car I couldn't  believe how pissed I was, and how forcibly I spoke to him, but otherwise, I felt completely justified. 
I suppose I finally got sick of all the small-town racism and ignorance we have here (in small-town Utah and America). I hear about ignorant comments like this all the time and still can't believe how blind people are. 

Just the other day a friend in my neighborhood was saying that a lady complained because she was flying an Israeli flag in her front yard. The lady was walking by with her dog and said something along the lines of, "What's with the flags? I don't like that you are flying Islamic flags."
The friend explained to her that her husband serves in the military all over the world and they like to fly the flags of the countries he's served in. The elderly lady felt that my neighbor was representing terrorism or something, which is so completely ridiculous, it makes my insides hurt.
My husband had another incident when we first got here where an elderly man at the auto store was complaining about all the Muslims here and how we need to be more careful who we associated with. My husband tried to keep his cool as he explained to the guy that Muslims are actually followers of the Islam religion, not a group of people that are out to get him. But the dude didn't get it and kept on with his ignorant rant. Finally my husband just ignored him, because what can you do? 

And that's the point I was trying to make to veteran bagger today, because Saudi Arabia is a country in the middle east, not a group of people walking around with cell phone bombs.
And flag lady, Islam is a religion, not a group of terrorists out to get you. 
I say, please stop stereotyping people, and discriminating against people, based on their country or religion of origin. (It only makes you look stupid and spreads hate and fear.) 

God Bless America and the melting pot of races and cultures that live here! I, for one, am super stoked on the Saudi Arabian population that has started coming to our small town. The people are not only very nice and gracious, but we finally have a small middle-eastern store that sells spices and freshly made Nan!

Peace, Love, and Aloha.

Somewhat related story:
Welcome to America, Immigrants!