Saturday, August 29, 2015

Giving birth brings immense personal growth

I attended the most beautiful Mother's Blessingway this past weekend to honor two beautiful mothers and friends, Jillian and BreAnn. (Read here to find out what Blessingways are and here to read about mine.) The event was held at the nearby Sage Hills Yoga and Healing Center, the perfect atmosphere to relax, breathe in the positive energy of other supportive, surrounding mothers, and enjoy a mouth-watering buffet of homemade deliciousness! I was in heaven! I love Blessingways so much, I think every mother should have one before she becomes a mother for the first time, or tenth time!
 Each mother that night came with a unique bead and blessing to give to the two mothers who would soon be going into labor and giving birth; for them, one of the most honorable and trans-formative events of their entire lives. We went around the room and shared a blessing or positive thought for the mothers and strung their beads onto a "labor necklace" which would be worn or looked at during labor to encourage and support the mom. Coincidentally, Jillian's water broke right at the time the Blessingway was to begin. so for the first part of the evening she was actually in early labor, having mild contractions, before she decided it would be best to go home to have her baby and not at the yoga center or in the car. Four hours later a beautiful, little girl came into the world! Talk about a wonderful ending to a Blessingway!
We finished the rest of the evening without her, however, going around our circle sharing positive birth stories and laughter with BreAnn, who would be going into labor early September.
As we sat around in this circle as friends, mothers, and earth-sisters, sharing in the glory and joy that is motherhood in celebrating these two mothers, I couldn't help but feel extremely grateful for my children and the birth experiences I've had to bring them here. Each one of my birth experiences was different and brought with it immense personal growth. I feel like I got what I needed from each birth as part of my individual growth was concerned. 
With my first hospital birth I learned strength and endurance. It was long and hard and required perseverance that I didn't know I had in me! I also learned how to be more of an advocate for myself not only as a parent but a person who needed to see outside the box and make choices that weren't always popular. Having a natural, hospital birth at Kaiser Los Angeles put me right in the path of negative naysayers and doubting discouragers whom I needed to be prepared to fight against to get the  birth I wanted. I learned that the best and most educated choices were also made out of love, and I needed to always follow my gut in the things I believed. Not just in birth but this transfers to everything in life.
My second birth was at home. It was calm and relaxing and perfect. I prayed harder than I've ever prayed in my life that God would lead me the right way in having this baby at home. Everything about this homebirth felt right, and it turned out exactly how I wanted and needed. Through my second birth I learned faith in God and trust in my own body.
My third birth was painful. It was a long, difficult, miserable pregnancy, with a painful birth at the end. I was a  tired worn out mommy. I already had two busy, active children at home that I was caring for and this birth seemed like a burden to me. I didn't want to go through with it, but it was too late: the birth tub was set up in the living room, the midwives were paid for, and I was already nine months pregnant. At the end of it all I got another beautiful baby boy whom I fell in love with immediately. My third birth I learned immense sacrifice, and unconditional love.
My fourth birth came four years later. I didn't want to give birth again, but my baby had to get here somehow! I prepared myself for another homebirth. I listened to Hypnobabies, I practiced yoga and meditation, I surrounded myself with supportive, loving people. I was going to be a birthing rock star....until my baby hit a nerve in the side of my uterus 8 hours into labor that sent me reeling into an alternate universe of pain. I was transferred to the hospital where I had an epidural to relieve myself from my awful state of misery. I finally pushed out (I think..... I couldn't really feel anything but I saw the pictures later) a perfect, healthy, ten pound baby boy! I was exhausted, overwhelmed, and sad about the whole turn of events. It took me weeks to get over it and feel okay with myself again. This birth taught me humility and acceptance for the things of which I cannot control. And gratitude for those who could help me.
Looking back I have learned and grown as a person more than I ever imagined from giving birth: Strength, endurance, faith, trust, sacrifice, unconditional love, humility, acceptance, and gratitude are all qualities that I've needed to have as a mother. Each birth I was given these gifts to apply to my life more fully as I raise my children.
I hope that every mother can see her birth experiences as uniquely hers, as a time to grow, and be okay with the outcome of it all. We do all we can do to educate ourselves, trust in God, follow our instincts, and be the brave women that we want to be, and in the end if we can see the immense personal growth we've attained, then we have achieved awesomeness! (And a baby!)

At the Blessingway I had noticed that many of the moms had said things I've said before, like,"I hope your birth turns out exactly how you want," or "I hope you have the beautiful birth you deserve," however I felt different inside at this Blessingway. Maybe it's because of my growing experiences, or maybe it's because of my last birth that taught me that things don't always turn out how you "want or deserve," so my messages conveyed more of these types of thoughts:,"You will do amazing in your birth, and you will find immense happiness and joy in motherhood. Thank you for being a true example of a woman who loves being a mother."

Because no matter how or when or what way your baby comes into the world, becoming a mother is the best part of all.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Baby M turned ONE

My baby turned one last month! My how time flies!

This has been one of the best years of my life raising a baby. It really has. It has been purely joyful! Not only because M. is such a wonderful, happy, joyful baby, but because our family is in a really good place right now. 
It's been so nice to be not in the middle of moving, thinking about moving, or relocating for a job. It's been really nice to have older, more responsible  children who can help out, and a neighborhood of really nice, supportive friends. It's been really nice to be in a church full of babies and mothers who love and cherish their family's, to encourage me and uplift me in my motherhood journey. It's been really nice to have such a strong, supportive husband who happy in his own life, and who loves children. 

All these things make such a big difference in the level of stress that can go into raising a baby. Because raising babies is hard work! And when I've been under stress and all these things have not been aligned in my life so nicely as they are right now, It makes caring for babies that much harder. (But still do-able, of course!) I'm just really grateful right now that, although it's taken ten years to get here, we are in a very peaceful, happy place for raising baby!

Baby Malachi is an absolute joy. He is full of light and happiness, and shines that light to everyone around him. He has the biggest smile, and chubbiest cheeks. His first words were dog and cat, but more like "Dah" and "Cah." He has learned how to wave hi and bye. He has learned how to sign "more" when he wants more food (and it's adorable!). He has learned how to sign for milkies when he wants to nurse (and it's even more adorable!). He has learned how to walk! He reminds me of a little penguin waddling all over the house. He has also learned how to climb up everything! The fireplace, the kitchen chairs, the beds, the computer chair, and anything he finds outside to climb on. He is a master climber! Whenever he does something tricky or new he gets this huge smile on his face to show how proud he is of himself.
He is a big eater, too. In addition to his favorite milkies,  he loves fruits of all kinds--strawberries, peaches, pears, bananas, mango, blueberries and apple! He also loves little pieces of cut up toast, scrambled eggs, lasagna, shredded chicken, broccoli, carrots, and peas! He'll eat pretty much anything that we're eating, which makes my life easier!
Malachi loves it when I sing to him. Eensy Weensy Spider, Baby Beluga, and Twinkle Stars are his favorites. He tries to sing along and waves his little hands and arms all over the place,  and it sounds like "Gah gah gah goo gah gah gang gang!!" Micah taught him the "This Little Piggy" rhyme on his toes, and he loves doing that, too.
He wakes up around 8am, and is taking two naps a day, and then falls asleep by 10pm. Everyday with Malachi is busy, busy, busy! I am often very exhausted at the end of each day. He loves to play outside best right now and can spend hours out there. Yesterday he spent four hours straight playing at the lake by our house: Rolling in the sand, digging holes, waddling around the beach, splashing in the water, playing with toys, and just having a grand old time! He stopped to nurse twice and I thought he might fall asleep, but then he got right back up to play again!!

On Malachi's first birthday we were traveling in the van through California on a road trip. We had packed up our camp sight at Sequoia National Park and were headed to Leo Carillo State Beach park in Malibu. It was a four hour drive! It was hot and suffocating in the car and we were all sick of driving, so we stopped at a little park in Castaic, CA to play. The playground was tiny and we were all hot and hungry. I kept thinking guiltily to myself, "I'm sorry my little baby, this isn't much of a birthday, is it?" 
Then to add some irony to the situation, there was a family having a huge first birthday party for their baby at the park there! They had  a bouncy house, a full buffet, a dessert bar, streamers and balloons strewn everywhere, presents piled high to the sky, and over a hundred guests. It was a big celebration for their baby!
Then I looked at us, with our meager bag of bread and cheese, and our worn-out-from-camping-little family, with not even a birthday present for our baby! haha! 
Yet watching baby M climb up the slide over and over and over again, while his brothers followed him and watched over him, giggling at his bravery and his toddler clumsiness, was absolutely priceless. There was a lot of love being shown for the well-being of our waddling baby boy, as he tripped and fell all over that playground. We may not have had a big party or birthday presents for him, but what we had was all that he needed.
Later that night when we got camp set up in Malibu, we blew up some glowing balloons and set them free in the tent. It was dark by then and the balloons shined bright and happy in our family tent as we all laid there and punched them in the air. 
Malachi's eyes lit up. He giggled and laughed, and followed the glowing balloons around in circles. It was pure one-year-old joy!
We went around and told one thing that we love about baby Malachi. 
"His smile," someone said. "When he head-butts me," said another. "When he climbs all over me and rubs his face in my face," said another brother. "His beautiful curls and contagious smile" I said.
Happy Birthday baby Malachi! This was one of the best years of MY life!