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!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Keeping busy, Keeping happy, waiting, waiting, waiting.

Painting my upstairs bathroom is just one of the many projects I've set out to get done before this baby comes out. Projects keep me busy and not so focused on waiting for a baby to come out, which is, after all, what I've been doing for the past 9 months! I try to live in the moment, and be happy in the moment, and focus on the moment, but let's face it-- the baby coming out is the best part of being pregnant. And I can't wait! Hence, the projects.

I feel pretty proud and accomplished with all the things I've been able to do these past couple months. So here I listed them so I will never forget what a busy time, an exciting time, and a productive time pregnancy can be, in addition to playing the waiting game...

1. I painted my bathroom teal. 
All by myself. Then I painted the lower bathroom cupboard and photo frame in Bold Sangria. I love my bathroom. It was  yellowish and old looking before, and now it's--beautiful. From the Eric Carle-style shower curtain my mom sent me, to the pretty peacock feathers my friend Jillian got me at the farm she volunteers at, I am really happy with the way it turned out.

2. I organized donated baby goods and made $$ for my non-profit.
A friend of mine came over with a truckload of baby stuff that a friend of hers was getting rid of. Everything had been in storage and was a little dusty and dirty, but still useful! I spent several days cleaning, organizing, deciding what I wanted to keep, then getting donations for the rest. All the proceeds from my sales went into my non-profit account for LLL, so I could pay annual dues, etc. 

3. I cooked a ton of food for my own baby shower.
My dear friend Ruby hosted  a marvelous baby shower for us a couple of weeks ago. It was held at the park, tropical-Hawaii themed, and so sweet of her to do! However, I couldn't sit back and not cook some of my favorite island-themed foods to share. I spent almost an entire day killing my feet standing up in the kitchen, while cooking chili and rice, baking Panipopo, and putting together spam musubis (Micah helped with those). At one point, when I slightly burnt the huge pot of chili to feed 15-20 people, I almost cried and said," forget it, we'll just eat rice!" But in the end, it all turned out so ono! (Did you know that if you add enough peanut butter to burnt chili it just tastes like peanut butter-chili?) Ruby made sweet pork wraps and fruit salad,  Malia friend made a Tongan drink called Otai, and another friend, Maranda, brought lots of watermelon to eat!
I feel so blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful friends, old and new, to help us celebrate the soon-arrival of our baby boy. I wish I would've taken a picture of all the food and all the friends, but I got a few good ones along the way:

Ruby also made rainbow-colored popcorn!
Me and Micah opening the cutest and most functional baby gifts. (diapers, and blankies, and rattles, and teethers, and toys, and clothes, yay!)
Yes, this is a wooden teether of the Hawaiian island chain made by Little Sappling Toys. They have the cutest little family and the cutest stuff-go check them out! I was honored to receive the first one they ever made!
Little baby boy claiming his favorite snack
37 weeks pregnant with the full-moon-watermelon belly.

An elephant riding a motorcycle of diapers:
My friend Lori made the ultimate creative PINTEREST baby gift. Seriously so awesome. 
more fun friends.
We set up the king-sized water blob for all the kids to roll around on. There were 17 kids on here at one point. 

4. I've managed to find everything I need for the baby on craigslist, online blog shops, and yard sales, and have saved lots of money!

I scored one of the best joggers on the market for cheap!
There were just a few things I really wanted this time around but didn't want to buy brand new. So, I put it out into the Universe and waited. (It's the law of frugality) First, I wanted a changing table because I never had one before and I think it would greatly reduce the pain in my back from bending over. Second, I wanted a baby monitor because we now live in a 2 story house and not a tiny apartment, and I think it it would be nice to hear the baby wake up from the other side of the house. Third, I really needed a new jogging stroller because...I don't have one and post-pardum exercise is super important to me. Last, I really wanted a bouncy chair or swing for baby because those are just dang handy. Anyways, the point is I waited patiently until all these things were presented into my life at the right opportunities,  and for the right prices. It's a little more hard work to do it this way, but I am pleased to say it paid off, because I got everything I needed, and more! 

5. I've organized a few fun events for our LLL group.
At the beginning of June we did a summer splash potluck in our backyard. Then today we met at a Yogurt shop for a Breastfeeding Caf'e meetup. These are in addition to the monthly breastfeeding meetings I run. I love planning things and bringing people together.
6. Micah and I have been  going on dates together. 
We were able to go to the temple last month, then we were able to go on some fun dinner dates, and just yesterday we went to our pre-natal appointment and then Costco for a little outing by ourselves. It's really nice to be able to spend some time with the man I love, especially before this next little one comes. Our children are currently at ages where they are more independent and really good at self-entertaining. They even love having the babysitter come over! I'm happy to say we've taken this opportunity to get some alone time together, and I love it. Of course, we don't have a picture of us together, but here's a fun flashback picture from the last time I was pregnant in 2010: 
And one more belly photo, just for fun, 2010.

7. I've been playing outside and having fun with my boys, as much as I can.
I'm an active mom, so It's important for me to be able to get outside and play with my kids. Granted I can't do as much as I'd like right now, but I do what I can do! In fact, one of the hardest things for me about being big and pregnant is feeling like I'm missing out on all the fun things with my kids. I really miss wrestling them, chasing them around, riding bikes with them, and roughing it outside; all the stuff I love to do! 
Instead, we've been able to them up to the lake for swimming and sand-castle building. I sit in my camping chair and soak in the sunshine, then go swim around with Z and O. Little J plays happily onshore, digging in the sand for hours. 
Sometimes we stop for Shave Ice around town! Today we found a place that boasts "Authentic Hawaiian Shave-ice." It was pretty good for Utah shave ice, although nothing compares to Matsumotos! 
Another fun thing I've been doing is taking Odin around the collect "Brag Badges." It's part of a community summer fun challenge, where you get to pick up badges from various locations after you participate in an outdoor, creative, recreational, or family activity. Whenever I have special-alone time with Odin we go knock out a few more of these activities and collect the badges. He is really excited about it and loves that he has 26 of them hanging on his lanyard. A few that he's done is camping, attending a Green Show, swimming at the lake, flying a kite, having a water fight, reading books, and playing at a park. I love to see his cute little eyes light up every time he earns another badge. (Z opted not to participate, and J could care less.)

8. I made a birth and labor CD for if I feel like listening to music while I'm in labor. You just never know. I picked a variety of songs ranging from Hawaiian reggae, to Kundalini yoga mantras, to folk rock, to new world, etc... Everything on my list had to inspire happy, fuzzy feelings and also have the power to relax me, too.  
Here's my playlist:

Sally's Birth and Labor Music
1.Happy (/ Pharrell Williams.. 3:53 
2.Long Time Sun / Sarah Hawker 3:18
3.Aad Guray Nameh / Jai-Jagdeesh 7:02 
4.Caribbean Blue / Enya 4:00 
5.Keep On Moving / Bob Marley 3:07 
6.Love and Honesty / Hawaiian Style Band 4:08 
7.Wahine 'Ilikea / Ka'au Crater Boys 4:19 
8.Mehndi / Madhorama Pencha / Unknown 3:27 
9.All For Love / Sean Hayes 3:55 
10. The Sea / Morcheeba 5:51 
11. Bryan Adams 3:48 
12. Morning Has Broken / Cat Stevens 3:21 
13. He Hears Me / Hilary Weeks 4:07 
14. There She Goes / Bob Marley 2:33 
15. Sun Is Shining / Bob Marley 2:14 
16. Put It On / Bob Marley 3:05 
17. Rhythm Of The Rain / Ka'au Crater Boys 3:04 
18. I Hear Music a.k.a. Mr. Reggae / Ka'au Cra... 3:20

9. I've been reading the Chronicles of Narnia books by C.S. Lewis alongside my 8 year old . They're a lot of fun to read and I've enjoyed having book discussions with my son.
It all started when he began taking a Narnia class on his homeschool Minecraft server Skrafty.  Taking the class inspired him to read the books, and thus inspired me to read the books. 

10. I've been writing memoirs.
My Dad sent me this book a couple weeks ago: Writing the Hawai'i Memoir.   It has inspired me to take the time to sit down and write my life memoirs of growing up in Hawai'i. It seems I have so many stories that I don't want to forget, and sooner or later the memories will fade. This book has really helped me to feel excited again about writing. My Dad must have been truly inspired to send this book to me! 
Thanks, Dad!

Well, that's it for now! Just keeping busy, and keeping happy til this sweet baby boy comes. Then I'll be busy and happy in entirely new ways!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Meditation realization.

I had the opportunity to really meditate at yoga tonight. 

I started going to a special Kundalini Yoga class for women several months ago. From the moment I arrived that first night, I felt an instant surge of peace, relaxation, and clarity come over me. The room where the class is held is dimly lit with flickering candles, beautifully adorned with plants, and brightly decorated with joyful paintings on the walls. The sweet-smelling fragrances of lavender and frankincense fill the air. Our lovely instructor sits on the middle of a small stage, while women of all ages-- mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends, sit quietly on soft mats scattered about the room. It's always a tranquil and welcoming atmosphere that I hope to bring home with me.
The meditations we practice are simple and meaningful, and involve chanting spiritual mantras. Our first meditation tonight was a chant used to invoke the protective energy of the Universe and to acknowledge our humility before God. 

As I sat there quietly, listening to the mantras being sung, and feeling the soft vibrations in the room, I decided to focus on what negative energy  might be creeping into my life and how I could eliminate it. I had been having a particularly rough day and needed some peace of mind or direction towards being happier. Some days it seems everything just sucks and it's hard to point my finger at what is causing it. 
My thoughts skipped slowly from one thing to the next as I tried to find the answers. Was it the negative posts I read today on facebook, spreading their toxicity into my system? Was it the the long, hard day I'd had, trying to be patient with my needy toddler? Or was it the annoying comments I got about being pregnant, which seem to happen everywhere I go now. (When are the twins due? You look ready to explode! blah blah blah,etc)

Tears of realization flowed down my cheeks as I realized that none of those things have the power to bring me down--- Only I have the power to bring myself down.
 It suddenly dawned on me that the negative energy was coming from me.

It's an awful mind-game/power struggle to try to win this fight against negativity, and I was letting it win. I was letting it tell me all the lies today, and all the discouraging words I wanted to hear to make me feel bad. Sometimes it's just easier to feel bad than to feel happy. It takes more effort to feel happy, and it takes more effort to climb your way out of the negative mind-set that you're stuck in.

But getting out has to happen!

As I sat there meditating, and of course realizing that all this negative energy was coming from my own self, I suddenly felt empowered. I mean, I felt more in control than I had all day because I could suddenly own my feelings. I knew that If these bad feelings were coming from me (and not necessarily facebook, or my toddler, or the stupid pregnant comments)  and I'm making myself feel this way, then I have the power to change my thoughts and make myself feel better.

So I did.
And now I'm happy.
And I need to remind myself how empowered I truly am, not only at Tuesday night yoga.

And this is what my 38 week watermelon  belly looks like:
And this is what I look like at 38 weeks pregnant, because there's actually a face attached to this  belly:


Friday, July 4, 2014

Goodbye, Bunny! Animal Roundup

 We gave away our bunny. We only had him for a couple months, but I could tell that he wasn't going to be a good long-term pet for us. 
 I had this vision of having lots of little, fluffy critters running around for my children to play with, once we bought our new home, but this bunny taught me a lesson: 
Animals are hard to take care of. 
They require daily maintenance and upkeep. You have to feed them every day, keep their cages clean, and give them attention. If you want to go on vacation you have to find someone to watch them. Sometimes they escape, and run away, and even destroy things. They're like two year olds that never grow up!
This is not what I had in mind.
What I really wanted were fluffy critters that could self-feed, never pee or poop, keep the house clean, and be naturally socialized. 
These types of animals do not exist, I guess. I'm even starting to think that all my happy memories of having fluffy animals as a kid must exist because my mom took care of the animals, not me. Or else I just enjoyed it much more because I didn't already have a gaggle of  children to care for.
Either way, I'm glad bunny found a new home at the bunny farm. He's going to help mate with female bunnies so more bunnies can be made, so then people can eat them. (Sorry, friends who don't like eating animals. We live in meat-eating country.) I am happy to know that he will be used for breeding, not eating, and will live a long, happy life. Maybe. But definitely a better life than living in a small cage on our front porch with a family that doesn't pet him much because he bites and scratches. Yep, much, much better.

That same week we got rid of the Bunny I picked up a free Guinea Pig from a family that was moving away. 
Why did I do this? Perhaps it was out of guilt for not giving our bunny a very long chance. Or maybe because I still have this silly dream of having lots of fluffy critters around. Or maybe because I wanted Jonah to have the experience of his very own pet to love. 
Whatever my crazed reasons, this one was a winner! Guinea piggy is the right kind of pet for us! (The boys named him Raticate after a Pokemon that looks like a rat.)
He's friendly, cuddly, and not as stinky. The boys can pick him up and hold him without worrying about being scratched, and he doesn't eat nearly as much as a bunny! He's definitely a keeper: no guinea pig farm for him. :)

In other news, we still have our cat, Cotton Candy. Although, sadly, his brother Pumpkin disappeared the first week we moved into this house and we haven't seen him since. We are pretty bummed about losing him, as he was a very special cat for us. The cat story is here.  We put up signs, searched the neighborhoods, and called all the animal shelters, but he still hasn't shown up. I like to think he is happily dwelling in a field of sage brush, catching mice, and loving his wild, free life. I hope.  

Speaking of things that eat mice, Z got a pet snake. It's a corn snake and it eats about two live mice per month. It lives in a large, glass terrarium in Z's room. The mice live in the laundry room. Since there isn't anywhere to buy feeding mice in our town, my husband decided to breed our own. The first batch of babies were born a few weeks ago. They are small and hairy and will become snake food someday. Ahhh, the circle of life. 
I personally can't bear to watch the snake kill and eat the mice, but my family thinks it's really neat. In fact, the boys invite their friends over when it's "mouse-feeding time."  It's quite the exciting spectacle, I've heard. 
GINGER the corn snake
Lastly, our puppies are all grown up into full-size dogs. Only they're still naughty and reckless like puppies. They chew on anything they can get their jaws on, they run away when I call them, they jump on our friends, and I swear if my kids didn't adore them so much they'd be off to the puppy farm. (Kidding. Kidding. Kidding.)
The only one they really listen to is Micah the supreme dog owner. He handles all the dog, snake, and mice stuff, and I stick to the cat and guinea pig. I guess we make a good team of pet owners, as long as I get the easy ones. ha ha ha.
All in all, we really love our dogs. Each day when I watch the boys out the back window,  playing, wrestling, and laughing with their dogs, it brings a genuine smile to my face. 
Although they can be a bit overwhelming, I'm glad we have all these animals right now. (two dogs, one cat, one guinea pig, one snake, and a bunch of mice) I think it's good to expose children to a variety of pets and the responsibility it requires to care for them.  Looking back, I loved having my own dog, my own chicken, and all those parakeets, mice, hampsters, bunnies, cats, duck, and reptiles my mom used to let us have. 
Even if I don't remember taking care of them!

However, I've decided that if we had to get pets all over again, we'd get ALL cats. They are the perfect animals to have around.  They don't require a lot of maintenance, nor do they need a lot of attention. They are the epitomy of fluffy critter, plus they are independent, and free spirited! My kind of pets! When I grow up and my kids move away, maybe I'll be the crazy cat lady.