Monday, May 26, 2014

TEN things I love about being pregnant

32 weeks Hapai
1. Feeling our baby move and squirm inside my belly. It's always a reminder to me that my body is such a complex and amazing creation. I mean, there's a HUMAN inside me for golly sakes-- a living organism that's alive, and can move, and has a name! INCREDIBLE!

2. How curious my kids are about my growing belly. They like to look at how huge it's gotten, and try to feel the baby move with their little hands. They even talk to the baby and tell it jokes! It's special to be able to share this pregnancy with my boys.

3. Feeling a stronger spiritual connection with my Heavenly Father--more than normal. I am at such a vulnerable stage in my life and I believe this vulnerability allows me to open up more and more readily feel His guiding light at a higher level. Pregnancy is no easy thing for me. I need His constant reassurance and love. I need Him to remind me that I am on the right path, especially on my worst days. It's a hard time, but an exceptionally meaningful time.

4. Getting ready for the birth. I get this anxious, giddy excitement inside me as I think about birthing-day. I love planning parties and events, and planning for baby's birth-day is much like that for me. Micah and I get to order the supplies, get the birthing tub ready, decide on what foods and drinks I'll want while in labor, prep our children for the big day, plus we'll be making arrangements with our birth photographer. I like to plan out where the birthing tub will be set up so that I can envision the big event. I was planning on birthing down in my bedroom, which is in the basement, but then decided the living room is much brighter and more welcoming. I might even put on a little lip gloss and do my hair!

5. Blessingways and Baby Showers. For my first pregnancy I was given a huge baby shower, my second pregnancy a luncheon with friends, and my third pregnancy, a Blessingway, (In three different States) and I loved each one of them. I love the special attention a mother gets as she's preparing for one of the biggest transformations of her life. Weather it's the first baby or 10th baby, I think honoring a mother-to-be with encouragement, love, support, and thoughtful gifts is a wonderful thing to do. (I think there's something in the works for me next month and I'm excited!)

6. Remembering that carrying a baby inside me is such a short-term experience in the long-term-time-line of my life.  I am only a pregnant mother for a small sliver of time, then life goes on. 
As I thought about this the other day I got kind of sad. Well, nostalgic, really, to think that these pregnant years are almost over for me. It made me grateful to be pregnant in this moment, and grateful that it isn't over, yet. Because, three months from now I'm going to forget all about what this feels like. It's bittersweet. Well, maybe more sweet than bitter.

7. Drinking cow milk. I don't normally drink milk as a beverage, except for when I'm pregnant. Then I drink it by the gallons. Okay, maybe a quart a day. But the point is, it's deeply satisfying to me. Drinking a cup of cow's milk is like my daily dose of happy medicine. In fact, it's 9:30pm and my husband is running to the store to buy me more milk. I'm kinda going to miss this when it's  over. 

8. Having a loving and supportive husband. I couldn't do this without Micah by my side.  He has been with me through 4 pregnancies and has survived! This man deserves a medal! 
Last week he went on a work trip to CA for four days and I completely fell apart. By the time he got home I was totally burnt out, exhausted, irrational, and somewhat neurotic. I could barely function. My kids were scared of me. I also had this total freak-out episode where I cancelled our home birth, and made an appointment at the hospital where I just wanted the doctor to pump me full of drugs and hand me the baby at the end. 
But after my husband came home, everything calmed down again. He soothed away all my fears, calmed all my sorrows, and knocked the sense back into me. He also gave me a wonderful Priesthood blessing that recharged my weary soul.
**Nothing against epidurals or hospitals, of course. In my case, this would be going against the grain of what I truly want and need, which isn't good for anyone to do, no matter what your choice!

9. Doing nothing. Lately I've been sitting in my camping chair outside, watching my kids play, and doing nothing. I really enjoy doing nothing. As a big, sore, pregnant mama, doing nothing feels really good, (and I don't feel like I should be doing anything else!) It reminds me of sitting on the beach, watching the waves, and meditating on the beauty of life. Except for instead of waves, I get to watch the natural rhythm and movement of my children at play. I'm looking forward to sitting in that same chair with a nursing baby, doing nothing.

10. Having a baby at the end to make all this worth it! Thank Heavens there's a baby at the end! This might be my favorite part about being pregnant. ;)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Super Sibling Childbirth Preparation!

Our wonderful midwife Dyanna invited all of her soon-to-be-due-clients to a "Free Super Sibling Preparation Class," at her house last week. The purpose was to get the children ready for the upcoming births of their new little baby brother or sister. 
I thought it was the sweetest idea and was delighted to take our three boys. (Micah-daddy was out of town so he couldn't attend.) 
I thought it was really funny that 3 of her clients (including myself) were expecting their 4th boy after already having 3 boys. There were a lot of big brothers there!
When you birth at home, it is usually a family affair. Some parents may opt to send their kids to a friend or relatives house, but most families I know let their kids stay, coming in and out as they please, as mom's labor progresses. (It really depends on the children, plus the mother's comfort level with them being there.) 
I personally think it's a really positive, gratifying experience for our children to see their mama give birth, and to be there to welcome their new sibling into the world. Someday they are going to be amazing birth coaches to their future, laboring wives!

When I gave birth to Odin in 2008, Zadok had just turned 2 years old. In the months before the BIG DAY, his Dad and I took great strides in prepping him for it, by talking all about the many sights and sounds associated with childbirth. 
On the day of Odin's birth, I was in labor all morning and afternoon, and ended up giving birth at 1pm that day. We had our friend Katherine come over at 7am to be with Zadok, so Micah and I could focus on the labor. 
That was pretty much it for him--once Zadok had a friend to play with, he didn't pay any attention to what I was doing. The long, deep sounding didn't phase him. He didn't even bat an eyelash as I screamed his little brother out into the world. He was happy as can be and gladly held his brother for the first time an hour or so later. It was really special for me to have Zadok there, and to see our whole family become bigger before my eyes.
When Jonah was born, Zadok was 4 1/2 and Odin was 2 1/2. This time I'd really hoped I would have the baby in the night while they were sleeping. We didn't really have anyone to come over and keep them happy and fed while Micah and I were in labor-land, so I felt better if they'd just miss the whole thing. And they did! Jonah was born at 2:15am, while his big brothers were sleeping soundly in another room.
This time around I really want the boys to be there for the birth! I want them to be awake and ready to welcome their new baby into our home! They've been excited and anticipating the birth of their brother for 9 months now, and I think seeing him arrive will be the ice-ing on the cake! Even if I give birth in the middle of the night, I'd like us to wake up the older boys if we can. Zadok is 8 now, and Odin is 6, and I think they are more than mature enough the handle the intensity and reality of childbirth. But, I hope to let the sleeping toddler sleep, if possible. (He's a handful, that one!)

So, that's what Dyanna's class was all about: Preparing the children for baby's arrival!  She started by explaining how babies come into the world, and what they are like when they get here. She showed pictures of babies giving different cues and signs of hunger, anger, fatigue, and happiness. The kids had to guess what the baby wanted. She explained how dependent babies are on us to take care of them. 
Then her and her assistants Gina and Paige, read some of the most adorable children's books on birth, breastfeeding, and midwifery. The kids all crowded around and listened intently.
They read:

Next she had the kids practice helping their moms take care of the baby. We used a baby doll as a model. While the moms held the baby dolls, the kids had to go get us things like diapers, clothing, and blankets when we asked. I thought it was a great reminder that the kids can pitch in and help mom out when baby arrives, even by doing those little things.

Lastly, she had the younger toddlers stay in the living room and color pictures of their new sibling, while she took the older kids into a room to talk about the sights and sounds of childbirth. This was the heavier stuff, like when mom pushes the baby out, and the arrival of the placenta--The more intense stuff that older kids will be able to process better.
My kids were done before this point and ran downstairs to play with Dyanna's kids, but I thought, "Oh well, I think they've seen enough birthing videos at our house to know there will be blood, body fluids, and loud noises involved." 
In fact, Zadok keeps asking me, "Are you going to poop when the baby comes out?" And I keep telling him,"I don't know, dude. Many women do and it's no big thing. Now will you stop asking me?"
Then he asks me again a few days later. 
Eight year olds, I tell ya. It makes me laugh every time.

Overall, I just wanted to share what an awesome class this was and how touching it was to see all these children getting ready for their new babies. Odin drew me this picture at the class and I smile every time I look at it. Because in truth, it is his baby, too. This is his little brother that he will have the rest of his life, and he knows how important it is to cherish and celebrate family.
"My Baby is a Boy." by Odin, age 6
Here I am this week at 32 weeks pregnant. Baby is riding high and active as can be!

Looking forward to his arrival! We've already picked out a name. More on that later....Aloha and goodbye. :)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Feeling all Feng Shui

I'd just like to say that I'm at peace with being a cleaning addict. I like my house to be clean. I like my house to be tidy. I like my house to be clutter-free, and I'm not ashamed anymore that I'll spend an entire afternoon joyfully cleaning out my closet, organizing papers, or vacuuming my carpets. 
For a long time I felt bad about it--like I should be doing something better with my time. I'd think about my other friends who let their houses go completely to the dogs, and wonder if they are happier? Less stressed? It's awful to compare, especially because I could care less, what their houses look like!
 So then I guilt myself into leaving the clean laundry on the floor for 5 days in a row, just to prove that I can, but I don't feel any happier. I just find different things to clean.
 I've even put labels on myself before, like "Obsessive Compulsive" or "ADHD" because I'm constantly scanning my house for stuff to put away. I can't kneel down for family prayer at night without walking back to the trash-can with a handful of paper scraps that were previously left on the carpet. I can't walk into my kitchen without wiping down the counters for the fifth time that day. 
What is wrong with me? 
Absolutely nothing, I've decided. 
In fact, the Chinese have a name for this. FENG SHUI. 

This whole time I thought I had a problem, when in actuality I've been practicing an ancient Chinese philosophical system of harmonizing the human existence with the surrounding environment. Okay, so maybe I haven't been following Feng Shui completely (or consciously) but as I've been reading more about it, it makes a lot of sense. 
It's all about creating your environment to maximize the positive feelings, balance, vibrant energy, and Chi of your home. Ideally you want a clean, clutter-free home, with good air flow, quality lighting, with added elements and colors that will nourish and support your energy type. You would  even need to orient your belongings in an auspicious way to create the feelings of Chi in your home. (Chi-the universal energy that permeates everything around us)
So I'm excited about Feng Shui. Maybe just because I can feel better about my cleaning addiction, but maybe because there's some merit to wanting a clean and clutter-free home. When my house is tidy, my brain is tidy. I can think clearly, let my creative juices flow, and be more in-tune with the needs of my family. There's a million ways to apply the many eclectic principles of Feng Shui to your home, but I'll keep it simple and say: Your home should be a place where you feel comfortable, happy, vibrant, and inspired! That's my goal for our home, and it doesn't seem too unrealistic. 

On the flip side, It's kind of hard to be all Feng Shui when your 8 months pregnant and living with three guys who think Feng Shui is a kung-fu move. Especially the three year old, so I'm adaptable. I'm calling it the Feng Sally way. It's where I just focus on one room at a time, and right now it's the living room. If I can keep the living room tidy, and full of good energy, then it doesn't matter so much that my kitchen sink is full of every dirty dish in the house.
It's the Feng Sally way, and  I'm feeling a little less crazy now that I have a name for it.


Monday, May 12, 2014

No Shame in the Pregnancy Game

This past Friday my husband and I hired our favorite babysitter to watch our three boys, then took a trip to the Temple! We drove the 45 minutes to the St. George Temple, where we were inside inside for about 2 hours, then caught some Nielson's Frozen yogurt on the way back. All in all, we were gone for about 4 1/2 hours.
 It's rare that we get the opportunity to get away like that, so when we do, I really hope our date is super special and memorable. 

And it was. In more ways than one. 

I was excited to go inside and relax, and feel the peace and calm that comes with going in the Temple. We go inside the Temple to ponder, to pray, to unify ourselves with God, and to do important ordinance work for our ancestors. It is very quiet in there . People don't generally talk over a whisper, which gives each other the chance to really focus on the Spirit, and meditate on what we are doing. 

I fell asleep in my chair within the first 15 minutes. It wasn't just a light sleep, either. It was a deep, deep, coma-like sleep. My head was resting on the back of my chair, my body was laid plank-like out in front of me, and nothing in the world was going to wake me up from this state of restful bliss. 
Except for when I started snoring very loudly. In the unconscious corners of my mind I could hear this thunderous, blubbering, snorting sound coming from somewhere in the Temple. Then I realized it was ME. I immediately woke up, sat up in my chair, and looked around. 
Was that really me? Was I just snorting in the Temple?
I looked at the people's faces closest to me, trying to guess by their expressions if they noticed it was me. Yes, yes they did. Three girls in front of me stared back and smiled. Then they smiled at each other. Oh the shame! A couple of men from across the room glanced over to see who was making that curious noise. Oh the embarrassment! I wanted to cry, I really did.
Until I looked down and saw the reality of my life. There I saw my huge, pregnant belly, and a mama that rarely ever gets a chance to sit and relax for such a long time, let alone take a nap. I saw my sore feet, aching from a long day of standing in the kichen, and chasing my toddler down the street on his scooter.  I saw my tired hands, limp from doing sink-loads of dishes, resting in my lap. I saw a mama who was truly living to the fullest measure of my existence, living life to it's absolute fullest, that I decided I could easily laugh off a silly snoring episode in the Temple.
So that's what I did. I laughed it off, and I continue to laugh about it whenever I think of it. When I saw my husband later on and asked if he'd heard me snoring in the back, he responded with a smile, "I thought that was you!" 

This experience got me thinking about how silly pregnant women are. I'm not suggesting that we look goofy or act silly, but that we have to put up with a lot of things we normally wouldn't, which makes me feel silly!
*Like wearing socks with flip-flops. I don't want my feet to be cold, nor can I comfortably bend over to tie my shoes, so I decided I would rather look like this, in public:
Or wearing bathing suits that don't fit. I already bought a bathing suit in my second trimester and I don't want to spend money on another one. So, I decided I would rather look like this, in public:
This picture I found on the net. I don't even bother painting my nails anymore, because the last time I did, they turned out something like this:

Or how about these awesome do-dads? They keep your uterus from falling to the floor. I get so big and uncomfortable that I have to wear them, and they make me feel like a large animal getting transferred to the zoo.
See the resemblence?
Lastly, one thing that made me laugh was when my 6 yr old answered a little questionairre at church about his mother for mothers day. One of the questions was,"How does your mother spend most of her day?"
His answer: Sleeping.

Ha! So, I guess I'm a snorting, snoring, socks-with-flip-flops-toting, too-small-swimsuit-sporting,whale-transferring-belt-wearing, sleeping-all-day-pregnant mama, who has no shame.
There's no shame in the game!

And here's a 30 week picture update from Mother's Day yesterday: (In defense of my 8 yr old, he had just woken up from a nap, and was grumpy as can be=no smiles. And 3 yr old was sick in another room. But   6 yr old looks happy, with his new, toothless smile!)
I feel like I've reached a huge milestone in reaching 30 weeks. I don't know why--It just feels good--Like I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, with only 10 more weeks to go! Woot woot! I can do this!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Nurturing Mother-to-Mother

Last week the lovely people over at Power of Moms featured another one of my essays, titled, "Nurturing Mother-to-Mother." You can read it by clicking HERE.
This was one of my favorite essays to write because it's something I truly feel passionate about. I think that one of the most important things we can do as mothers is to lift each other up and support one another. There is already so much judgement and self-righteousness in this world, we need more mothers who smile and lend a hand, rather than say, "I told you so." 
One of my favorite all time General Conference talks is called "The Moral Force of Women," which you can read by clicking that hyper-link. It's such an inspirational talk focusing on the unique goodness and powerful influence that women have on the world. 
He says,
"Women bring with them into the world a certain virtue, a divine gift that makes them adept at instilling such qualities as faith, courage, empathy, and refinement in relationships and in cultures."

We as women have the power and influence to create a culture of love, confidence, wholesomeness, and acceptance around us. We can choose each day to make the world a better place by sharing this divine gift with others. 
In his talk Elder Chistopherson also quotes Former Young Women general president Margaret D. Nadauld, when she taught: 
“The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity.”

I love these thoughts and hope I can always continue to implement them in my life.
I just wanted to share some more on this subject, since it has been weighing heavily on my mind. Also, with Mother's Day being tomorrow, I was hoping to inspire myself to wish every Mother I know a Happy Mother's Day, and let her know how wonderful she is.

YOU are wonderful! Happy Mother's Day!

Here is the link again for my essay:
Please share this link with the moms you know and help us champion the cause of deliberate motherhood!