Me: "Who has the best seat in the house, me or daddy?"

Adam: "Well, Daddy's is nice, but yours is best. Your's is squishier."

Friday, July 30, 2010

Egyptian Music


There is gentle music playing. It is a rolling, lilting piano solo, faintly wrapped in a familiar hymn. It is coming from the room in my house that we call Egypt. We call it that because though it was once a narrow dining room, with the awkward addition of other rooms around it, it has become a very undefined space. Is it a hallway? A piano room? An office? No, for us it is Egypt. “Go put this in Egypt.” I say. “Go vacuum Egypt.” I say.

This evening Guy is playing the piano in Egypt. And it is beautiful.

I knew Guy in high school. Sort of, barely. We danced together once at a youth dance. We signed each other’s yearbooks, but that was about the extent of how well I knew the shy redhead that lived across town.

When I got home from my mission years later, I was asked to sing a song with my mom for church, and Guy was asked to play for us. I remember my mother squeezing my arm as we left his house that afternoon with a “He’s cute, what about him?” He was, and I admit that though I didn’t say as much to her, the thought of marrying a man who I could make music with was a very romantic notion. Little did I know his mother was on the other side of the door saying the same thing about me.

I have many, many memories that float within the accompaniment of Guy’s music, but I think my favorite are the ones that now blur together into one organic memory of sitting by his side at the piano bench, watching his fingers move across the keys in such a fluid way, his eyes following the many lines of music that somehow he keeps straight, and translating it all into gorgeous melodies. And when he makes a mistake, a soft “sheesh” sound, and often a “yikes!” comes out of him that makes me laugh. Sometimes I turn the pages for him, and sometimes I sing along, but always I am in awe of his ability.

When we were dating, I would lay on the couch near the piano and soon be asleep as I listened to him play. He used to think that meant I was bored by his music, but it was so peaceful and relaxing that I, who cannot fall asleep with a radio or a TV on, who can barely fall asleep when conditions are perfect, can melt into slumber when he plays. I guess in a way it is a tremendous compliment.

Guy took one year of piano lessons from his mother when he was a boy. After a while he decided he was done. As students came to his house for lessons, he thought to himself, “I can play that” as he listened. But at a certain point, some little girl came through who, though younger than he, had passed him up. He wouldn’t have it.

Guy returned to the piano, but this time he refused to allow his mother to teach him. He would practice, and if she came near him to correct him, he simply stood up, closed the piano and walked away. He spent the next dozen or more years teaching himself, ever improving.

I once hurt Guy’s feelings while he was playing. He was learning a new and very difficult song, and he was making a lot of mistakes. I said, “Sweetie, could you play something you know?” He stood up and shut the piano, and it was a long time before he would practice in front of me again.

I don’t exactly know why, but I love so much about what his process says about him. Guy is not militant in anything he does in this life, but his perseverance at this one thing is something I so much appreciate in him. I love that he did it all on his own, stubborn though he was (is) about it. I love that after his first ever performance, when he messed up tragically in front of a full audience, with all his peers actually laughing at him, that it was this stubborn streak that didn’t let him quit. I love that our children see him play and know what it means to put hours and hours into something so that you can do it well. I love that when I come home from being out a while, I can be sure to walk up our walk way and hear the old piano singing before I even reach the door. I love that nearly every time I perform a song for an audience, he is there, not supporting me just with his presence, but with his actual music.

And I love that the background music of our lives is the music he makes in Egypt.



Thursday, July 29, 2010

Belly ...uncensored

Caution: The following post contains some skin. Sorry, Bishop J. If you need to have a chat with me, let me know!
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I really hadn't planned it, but Nicole encouraged me to go ahead and do a belly mask with this pregnancy. I didn't know if there would be time, and so I didn't get my heart set on it. But leave it to Nicole to make things happen.
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After she gave me a trim (What? A haircut too? Oh yes!), she cast my belly.
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I had contractions all day long. A big one hit while we were doing the belly cast, and it made the whole cast lift up and pop loose.
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Good Golly, it's HUGE!
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When the cast was done, Nicole said, "Let's go get some henna!"
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Off we went to Michael's, coupon in hand.

She made a beautiful decoration on my belly that will last several days. While she worked away, the baby kicked the whole time, making my belly ripple and shimmy. We giggled and talked to baby the whole time.
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Nicole did such a lovely job, and I was so pampered. She fed the kids, washed my dishes, and even gave me a foot massage. I spent the day smiling and relaxing, and my water glass was never empty.
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Oh yes, my cup runneth over.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Crabby Patty

Tessa calls everything a crabby patty these days, thanks to Sponge Bob.
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Today that is me.
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I am just too uncomfortable for words. I don't feel an urgency to get this baby here, or be in labor, but there is definitely something attractive in the idea of being able to breathe and move again. I feel like my joints are infused with plaster. I feel like a Macy's parade balloon (of Sponge Bob, perhaps?) is expanding inside my torso and that my ribs are about to break apart. My contractions are achy and painful ones. Every 10 minutes. Sigh.
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There is a long running joke between Guy and I that I have to figure out what magical task it is that the baby awaits me to complete before it is willing to be born. I had myself convinced that Adam would not be born until all of the windows in our apartment were washed. I make a mental list of nesty chores and day by day, one by one, I check them off. When Guy comes home each day, I tell him what I have done.
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"Oh, NOW the baby can be born!" he states with authority each time.
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And yes, I am working on my list.
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Last night for family night we held true to another of our traditions... the making of the Welcome Home poster for the baby. With the last few babes, we have made posters to welcome our little one here. We usually have done it after the due date, but we thought it couldn't hurt to do it early this time. I suppose I am setting myself up, what with my due date still two weeks off and all, but at this point I need to fill the hours with things to both focus and take my mind off what is going on.
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Tomorrow we will make a belly cast.
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Maybe the next day I will bake a cake.
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Or paint a room.
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Or wash the windows...
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THEN the baby can be born...





Sunday, July 25, 2010

Tradition in Pink and Blue

We never find out what we are having. Each time we have been pregnant, we wait for the sweet surprise that was had by the millions of mothers around the world who, since time began, have waited the long nine months to learn the answer to the ever burning question: "Boy or Girl?"
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While it is our tradition not to find out, one thing we always do is to go shopping together, Guy and I, to choose two outfits, one for each delightful possibility. We leave the tags on the outfits and hang them on the door and smile at them... at least I do. One will be our baby's first outfit, the other will become a gift later for another mom who probably has known for ages what she was having. It is a special tradition that I really cherish.
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When Ethan was born, the overwhelming circumstances of his traumatic birth had pushed his unknown gender to the furthest of back burners, so that when, in the midst of the cesarean, a squalling apple-red baby was aggressively yanked out of me and held up over the surgical screen for a flash with the proclamation, "It's a boy!", to be honest, the information didn't even compute. Guy had echoed the news to me with tears, "We have a son!". In my mind, I guess I kind of thought, "Oh. I am cut open right now. Tell me about it later."
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When little Adam burst onto the scene, a very different scene complete with a birth tub in my kitchen, the midwife said "Reach down and get your baby, mama." I scooped him up under his slippery little arms and lifted him out of the water, in a world of wonder that I had been able to push him out. My whole being was taking him in, the vernix on his back that I could feel as my fingers wrapped around hs tiny chest, his velvet skin, softer than anything I had ever felt, the relief of him being out and the sudden new pain radiating up my back from my tailbone, the utter wonder as I said over and over, "You came out! You came out, and it didn't take forever!"
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Then Guy said, "It's a boy!" and again, the information hit me in a wave of surprise. My brain was still at, "It's a baby! It's a baby!" Suddenly, we had moved on to other things.
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As we prepared for little Ellie to come, I made it clear to all present that, like the Little Red Hen, I grew the wheat and made the cake, and dammit all, I was going to taste it first. No matter what anyone saw, all were forbidden to speak the gender aloud until I had seen it first. It was over five minutes before it occurred to me to even look at her little bits to see if she was an apple with or without a stem.
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"Aw," I crooned in delight, "It's a girl." There was no need to shout it.
It is one of my favorite memories on this planet.
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When Tessa came, it was a bit sooner that we discovered she was she, maybe in the first two minutes after she was born. But I had been on the girl side of the fence the whole pregnancy so when I saw her, it was almost, "of course she's a girl."
***
Last night a friend traded me two hair cuts on her boys for taking my four kids for an overnight. Score.
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Guy and I took our $10 coupon and waddled our way to the infant department of a big department store we never shop in. We worked our way through the racks and chatted about things that only parents and lovers talk about. We giggled and searched, and came up with a handful of outfits to choose from. Spreading them out we chose our favorites.
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"Is this your first baby?" a sales clerk asked.
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"Number five." we both answered back. How cute to think of this being our first.
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We made our half-off-plus-a-$10-coupon purchase (two outfits for $12, score again), and headed home. I held the little outfits on my lap and admired them all the way.
It's the last of many firsts, the last first outfit...
and soon the last first cry, first day, first step.
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Last boy or girl. And soon we will know.
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Today as I get ready for church, I am wondering if this will be my last pregnant Sunday.
Who knows.
I guess we'll be surprised.
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Friday, July 23, 2010

On My Soap Box

Tessa, age 2, breastfeeding her baby.
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In some of my other lives (yes, I am sort of cat-like) I advocate for childbirth and breastfeeding issues. When I heard a caller being given some sketchy advice today on the radio, I had to jump on my booby-bandwagon and send in a letter. The last time I did something like this, I ended up doing a monthly appearance on our local morning TV show about childbirth and prenatal health. I don't expect this letter will even get read by the host of the show, but maybe someone here will read it!
(Ignore the funky formating at the end).
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Dear Mr. Howard,
Let me first say how much I love and respect your life’s work and your show. I appreciate all that I learn from you and I listen regularly. I must say, though, that today you stepped out of your area of expertise to give some rather unpleasant and inaccurate advice, and I was hoping to help provide you with the facts.
Today you recommended a new father-to-be to “invest” in a cheap can of generic baby formula to take to the hospital when they go to have their baby. Your goal was to help him to avoid the expensive hospital promoted brands that are frequently pushed on mothers, because, as you put it, not everyone can breastfeed.
I want to address a few things here. First, as a doula (trained birth assistant), childbirth educator and mother who has breastfed for over 10 years of my life, I believe that more sound financial advice could have been given to this father-to-be. But to begin with, most women can successfully breastfeed. It is a dissemination of misinformation to imply that failure is so likely that families should come to the hospital prepared for it. In fact, in certified “Baby Friendly” hospitals, formula giveaways are now being banned because of the message that they send to healthy, capable women, which make up the outstanding majority of birthing mothers, that they cannot successfully breastfeed.
Breastfeeding, when well supported, should be pointed out as the only free or nearly free option for infant feeding available. Appliances such as breast pumps are not necessary unless a family chooses to pump milk to fit into a particular lifestyle (for example, working mothers or mothers who choose not to feed in public). Excellent pumps may be rented, and are often covered by a woman’s health insurance. Inexpensive but very effective hand pumps may be purchased for about the cost of 1-2 cans of formula.
One year of formula for one infant can cost between $700 and $3000, the current average being $1,200. However, the greater costs to a mother’s and baby’s health must be added to the calculations. According to a study cited at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/103/4/S1/870 , the health care costs for never-breast fed infants for doctor visits, medications and hospitalizations cost the managed health care system between $331-$475 over breastfed infants in the first year of life. One must add to this cost the lost wages of maternal absenteeism when working mothers must stay home from work to care for a sick infant. Studies show infant health issues that breastfeeding can protect against include eczema, middle-ear infections, lower respiratory tract infections like pneumonia, asthma, type 1 diabetes and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). (http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6342ZG20100405). In a 1995 study by Kaiser-Permanente Health Maintenance Organization in North Carolina it was found that formula fed babies' annual health costs averaged over $1400 more per infant than their breastfed counterparts. (http://www.breastfeeding.com/reading_room/what_should_know_formula2.html)
This is not the only cost, however, as studies show that maternal health is improved by breastfeeding, including reduced rates of osteoporosis, uterine, breast and ovarian cancer, lower rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol - all known to cause heart disease. In other studies, women who had breastfed their babies for more than a year were 10 % less likely to have had a heart attack, stroke, or developed heart disease than women who had never breastfed.
(http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2009/04/21/Breastfeeding-helps-mothers-health-too/UPI-41491240348466/). The cost savings over a lifetime has not yet been effectively calculated, but is undeniable.
While it is true that all infant formulas in the US are regulated by the FDA and required to contain certain basic components, perhaps more sound financial advice than encouraging someone to buy cheap formula to feed their babies in order to save money would be to first enthusiastically encourage breastfeeding. Financially speaking, the best preparation for a new family would be to locate excellent professional breastfeeding support from a trained Lactation Consultant (LC) prior to their birth, the cost of which varies between free (through La Leche League, WIC, Birth and Beyond and other local community breastfeeding support agencies) to $75-$150 per hour. Most breastfeeding problems can be resolved in 3-4 visits from a lactation consultant. While most women can find this support for free, the cost of breastfeeding support would equal the amount spent on formula in just a month or two.
In an attempt to appeal to your money sense, I have not focused on the many other priceless psychosocial, emotional, societal, and environmental benefits of breastfeeding. I hope in the future you will encourage breastfeeding as the first and best financial option for callers making plans for their future families. People trust you and will certainly take your advice for better or for worse. Let’s make it for better!
Best wishes,
Laine Holman
ICAN of Sacramento
DONA certified doula
Mother of 4 and one on the way.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mary and the Wise Men - in Concert

... and a flower-fairy-groupie showing solidarity, baby.
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When cousin Daniel comes to stay, it's all fun and games. There is nothing like looking out of your window to see the Magi on the trampoline. The next time they traipsed past the window, marshmallow guns in hand, I had to intervene. It was way too Taliban-esque.
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Soon, Elvis led a pirate parade, and I relaxed about the neighbors possibly peeping over the fence.
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After all, who doesn't love Elvis?
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Let them peep.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Feeling Wicked

One of the things on our "to-do" list for before baby comes was actually something very fun. We secretly planned to take the kids to see Wicked in San Fransisco. As the days have rolled one into the other and contractions continued to roll as well, I got worried that I, or all of us, might miss the show. When I woke Saturday morning not in labor, I was tickled that we would be able to go.
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We got in the car and dropped Tess at the sitter, and then I turned to the kids and, holding the Wicked CD in my hand, asked,"Do you guys like this music?"
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A unanimous "Yes!" came from the group, to which I replied,
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"Would you like to see it live... today?"
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Their mouths dropped and they said... nothing.
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So weird.
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We cracked jokes the whole way about cast members delivering the baby. We met our dear friend Annmarie at the Orpheum and thrilled over the show we have grown to love the music of. The man in the seat next to me made me promise not to have the baby until after the show. It was the first time the kids had ever been to a show and they were awestruck, as were we all.

Three cool dudes.

Then to dinner at a quirky little Hawiian restaurant.
(Oh, and if you stop for dinner in Berkley, make sure to watch where you step. You might just stumble upon a cannabis bag. Classic Berkley.)

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My contractions picked up pretty good by the end of the day, and got to seven minutes apart by that night.
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Alas, I awoke Sunday morning still plump and round. But at least we got to go to our show! Besides, we didn't have things ready for the baby to come yet, anyway.
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By Sunday afternoon my contractions were really kicking my butt. All through church, even as I taught a lesson for our women's meeting called Relief Society, they were five minutes apart. After church Guy flew like the wind (obeying the speed limit, of course) to the Midwife's house, an hour and a half away, to pick up the labor tub.
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By midnight my contractions were 3 minutes apart and getting pretty hard. Though the baby clothes were not ready, and the house still needed tidying, at least we had the tub.
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After about an hour of contractions, I began to drift off to sleep between them at midnight. Then they went to 4 minutes apart. Then I fell asleep...and woke up at 4 am. Nothin'.
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It's now Tuesday.
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And yes, I am still here. Not too many contractions today.
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Rebekah came yesterday to help sort and wash baby clothes. Steph came today to get them put away. We are pretty much all ready to go now.
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And now that I am all ready, I will probably go past my due date.
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Wicked.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Update... back to feathering


One room (not quite done but...) put back together! We still need to paint the beds (brown) and I need to make the comforters (eh, that can wait... it's summer after all!), and the closets and window frames need to be patched and detailed, BUT...
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The junk is out of the living room and none too soon. I have been contracting off and on for hours at a time since last week. Now we are feathering the rest of the nest.
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(Very cool room design by Ethan)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Freak out


I freaked out last night.
It was about midnight or so.
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The baby has dropped, a sign of approaching birth, (though it might be weeks still) and I don't even have the cradle out of the rafters.
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Yesterday I started making a list:
plastic sheets for the birth tub
batteries for the camera
wash blankets and baby clothes
buy juice
make food for the midwives
etc...
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Last night in my freak out, I made a different list:
I don't know what to name the baby
What if the baby is born with problems?
What if I go into labor and the house it still torn up?
Wait, we're about to have a baby here!
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I just barely wrapped my head around the reality of this baby, alive. Now I realize that after we come out of the other end of this tunnel of uncertainty, another little being will have come out it's own tunnel. And, by the way, it will be staying.
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I am not ready.
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My heart is not ready. In some ways I feel like I just found out I was pregnant a month ago. That isn't much time to prepare.
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And so I have begun fixating. New list:
finish boy's room
fold laundry
freeze meals
pack kid's overnight bags
wipe door jams
hang shelf
clean out closet
organize paper pile...
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It all bubbled to the surface in hormone-filled pregnant tears last night. As Guy comforted me I came to a place of understanding. I realized that I want to be a perfect mom for this baby, but I certainly won't be, so my crazy brain has decided that if I can make everything around me look perfect, perhaps that will compensate somehow.
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I don't want this baby to ever hear me yell (hello, it hears me yell all the time, right now). I don't want to miss any opportunity to help it to grow and develop emotionally into a healthy person. I want to be kind and sweet and healthy and energetic. I don't want to be the old mom.
I want to be patient.
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I want to be perfect.
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I'm not. And I won't be any time soon.
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In a still moment between waves of ranting and tears, I asked Guy to give me a blessing. A blessing is like a special prayer that is said by someone who holds the priesthood on behalf of another person. To people in our faith it is very sacred. By the light of day, freak out past, I remember only bits and snatches of the words that were spoken to me.
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Last list:
Heavenly Father loves us
I can focus on this little being as I partner with God in bringing it here
As I focus, the rest will become "just things to get done"
Peace
Joy

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Nesting gone wrong

Once when I was pregnant, I dreamed all night long that I needed a hair cut. I did need a trim, truth be told. I woke up, sort of, the next morning and grabbed some scissors and began to hack at my hair. About 5 minutes in, I woke up the rest of the way when I looked down into a sink full of long hair. Panicking, I called a hair dresser-friend to make an appointment for her to fix it later that day.
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Nesting takes on a whole different meaning when you are planning a home birth. There are things to prepare, and instead of "bringing the baby home" you are already home when the baby arrives. In fact, it is pretty important to have the house tidy so that as you are in labor and birthing there is room for the midwives and their equipment. I have been to a home birth where, due to an early delivery, time had not been taken to clean up the place. I remember scooping up piles of laundry from the floor in her room and trying to clear a messy dresser so that the midwife could set up.
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I usually nest somewhere in the middle end of pregnancy when I can still move. And breathe. And think. Here, four weeks from my due date, I usually have things pretty ready. Usually.
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Somehow I got it into my head that, instead of a tidy room or a sparkling clean kitchen, I needed to repaint the boys room. I had begun a huge mural project several years ago that I gave up on and much to my shame, it has remained that way ever since.
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My friend said she loved to paint. I figured that between the two of us we could knock the whole thing out in a day and a half.
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Ha.
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I "woke up" about half way through the second day of this project, as I, wearing a t-shirt that doesn't cover my belly all the way, and a pair of Guy's old painting shorts with the waist band pulled down low, scooted on a skateboard on my bum painting the bottom section of the wall. I was/am completely useless. I wear out in an hour and have to go lie down. Joanna came for two days and between her, Guy and her husband they have done most of it. I am really embarrassed that I even started this whole mess. We still aren't done.
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To make matters worse, my midwife checked me last week and it would seem that all of the contractions I am having are actually doing things. I am warming up, as it were, and more "ripe" than I was the day I went into labor with Adam.
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Here is the problem. My living room looks like the boys department of a thrift store, as do several other rooms in the house. I have let the laundry slide and about a billion other things.
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I have succeeded in un-feathering my nest.
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At least the boy's room will look nice.
Maybe I will have the baby in there.
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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Surprise, indeed

Last night something wonderful happened. After a long day working on the boys room prepping it for a new paint job (which means first ploughing through the rubbish on the floor, dislodging the stockpile of dirty socks behind the bed and evicting the spiders happily inhabiting every corner) I took the kids next door to swim. Our kindly old neighbors graciously let us use their pool often, and so I waddled through the 97 degree heat and occupied a lounge chair in a shady corner with my book while the kids played and splashed. Every so often Ellie came over with cool, wet hands and rubbed them across my shins and feet to cool me off, but eventually I called the kids out of the pool. It was so hot, and I was spent, and we had to get ready to go to my friend, Joanna’s surprise party.

Her birthday is July 4th, and it is easily overshadowed by other celebrations. She told me of how often husband William had struggled to find a nice way to celebrate for her. I thought it was clever of him, though I told my husband that I was curious as to how William would manage it without her finding out.

We got ready to go, but I was tired. Ellie began to fuss and throw fits, and I told her I would stay home with her if she didn’t cut it out, and tired as I felt, had it been some other occasion I would have welcomed an excuse to stay home. But Joanna is a dear friend who has really been there for me. I couldn’t miss the opportunity to honor her. I dragged to get ready, and because of my schlepping, we were about 10 minutes late to the party. The kids ran ahead as I slid out of the car and followed them in.

As we stepped into the house, a room full of people yelled “Surprise!”, and there stood Joanna, already having arrived. I appreciated the good natured teasing of our late arrival, and felt bad for coming late and missing the chance to surprise her. “I know, I’m sorry we’re late.” I said, stepping aside to ditch my shoes and purse.

“No, Laine, ‘Surprise!’ This is for you”, sweet Joanna smiled broadly, pointing to a sign on the wall that said “Welcome Baby Holman!”. Everyone laughed good-naturedly and some repeated the cantor, “Surprise!” Then finally someone said, “This is your baby shower!”

Then it all washed over me, and the one emotion that of late has been nearest the surface, tender gratitude, flooded my eyes with tears till I could only hold my face in my hands and try to contain it all.

I have told my good friends in the past that, though well they know I have no trouble at all singing in front of audiences of hundreds of people, I would rather go to church naked than be the recipient of a baby shower. Sitting in front of a room full of chattering women, opening gift after gift, expressing thanks over and over again but feeling hurried to move on to the next gift, never feeling able to express enough gratitude, enduring games of word scrambles that include “pacifier”, and “cesarean”… it all overwhelms me. I have never felt so much anxiety as I have sitting through a baby shower that was being given for me. Thankfully, my friends also knew that there is nothing I need for this baby, and so no reason for a baby shower. I thought.

For a fleeting moment, I was flooded with nerves, but then my eyes moved through those kind eyes and laughing faces that filled the room and it was suddenly perfect. It was just my friends. Not my girls friends, but their husband’s too, who are all also my friends, and their little ones; some of whom I have helped be born into this world, others I have tended and fed, and held as they slept. These were the people I share my life with, and the realization melted away my anxiety.

We ate wonderful food that my friends had carefully chosen and prepared in such a way that would be safe for my diet. My sweetie made a dessert that I could enjoy, and we ate and laughed. From time to time as the evening passed along, my mind took it all in and I hugged the moment I was in, fearful that it would too soon be over, but as with this pregnancy, telling myself to be here now, no anticipation, no looking back. Just now.

After dinner we gathered into the living room and I sat snugly amongst my friends, next to my sweet husband. We were gifted with thoughtful, tender gifts, just a few, and not overwhelming at all. Then as we were handed a last gift bag, the energy in the room built, and it was clear that this was to be something special.


As the tissue fell away it revealed a folded blanket. Opening it, instantly I understood. The blanket uncurled on my lap and each panel contained a handmade image. Some were drawn or painted, others appliqued and stitched. There were the words “Hope” and “Faith”, cut carefully from fabric, there were sweetly painted animals, dark velvet and satin hearts and flowers, and gorgeously drawn illustrations, one of pie and chocolate, one of a baby asleep on a cloud, and finally, one of our family. There, a couple stood beneath a tree, their four children gathered round them, gazing at a smiling baby held in the center of their circle of love. Heidi, who had drawn it, whispered humbly that the tree was a reference to the tree where all of our lost babies are buried, and that about the neck of the mama was my special locket that holds the names of those lost little ones. Who could hold back the tears? I wept freely.


I am so thankful for friends who know us so well. I didn’t think we needed anything, and really we don’t need any-thing. But these are the people who have braced us up against the storms of the past few years. They have sat on our couch with us with tears in their eyes and held us while we cried. They have tended our children while we sat through uncertain doctors appointments, brought food and, of course, pie. They have sheltered us from conversations and comments that would be painful for us, and have cautiously encouraged us as we so tentatively embarked on this pregnancy.

The evening ended too soon, and I left with such feelings of peace, joy, and gratitude. As I lay down that night, I thought of these past few years and the good, loving people, here and far away who have borne up our family through joy and pain. No family could be more blessed with wonderful friends than ours has been.

Thank you Slaughters, Heumanns, Mathews, Jensens, Motts, and Chantal.

We love you.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Being in the Present

In January I had an appointment at the dentist for my usual cleaning with Holli, who I have been seeing faithfully for years now. If she ever quits, I swear I will simply stop brushing my teeth and let them all fall out. At that visit, I was supposed to have x-rays.
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"Um, I can't" I had said quietly, "I'm pregnant."
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Holli knew about all of our losses, and at the end of our appointment wished me a loving good-luck, saying she hoped to see me in six months with a big round belly and a matching smile. As I got to the car, I pictured the two scenarios; walking into the office with a full-moon belly, or walking in with a flat one. I figured it would be the latter.
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I hadn't realized until yesterday what a milestone my next appointment had become in my mind until I stood up in the waiting room to walk back to my cleaning with Holli.
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"Look what I brought." I giggled, pointing at my bulging lump. She squealed and hugged, and there I was, on the other side of the six months, best case scenario a reality. I sort of gushed and bubbled inside with joy. It was like a lid opened in my heart and all of the tension and breath holding and waiting just splooshed out of me (right here is where you open a 2 liter bottle of root beer and hear the pressure built up there just... ppsstttt!!!! release!).
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When I left, there were well wishes and promises to bring the new baby on my next visit. Wow. How cool is that.
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When I got home, there was a package on the table with pastel foot prints and hand prints all over it. "It's a baby present from Mary at work." Guy had said casually.
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"A baby present?" I said in shock. I hadn't even thought of that, and as I did, tears just sprang into my eyes and tumbled down my silly face.
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Really? A baby present?
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How cool is that.
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Then, today I had an appointment. Not with my midwife (that is tomorrow), but with a therapist that I have been checking in with to develop a plan in the event that I experience another bad bout of post partum depression. Our last visit had focused on fear, acceptance, and trying to release judgement. This time, it was just about now, about realizing that I am just weeks away from holding our baby.
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"It's time to get ready." she said. Her words splashed over me and echoed in my head.
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She challenged me to begin taking out a few baby things and preparing the house. "On the 11th, Sunday, it will be one month till your due date. Why don't you start Sunday?"
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Whoa.
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I agreed, but when I got home, I found the getting ready had begun without me. The birth kit had arrived and was sitting on the table.
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We opened it and checked the contents; suctioning devices and cord clamps, gauze tissues, sterile gloves, anti bacterial cleansers and ...
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one tiny, white hat.
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Ellie stood by with a thousand questions. She grabbed for the hat, but I shooed her away from it, "We have to keep everything sterile," I said. Then Guy leaped ahead, "Yeah, we have to get the receiving blankets out and sterilize them, too. Do we still have them?"
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I don't know. I will have to look. Soon, I guess.
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How. cool. is. that.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Why the Chinese invented fireworks



Last year I was 6 weeks pregnant and sick-o-delic when the fourth came around. We did celebrate, but not in the fashion I was accustomed to. Remembering my laments of a summer lost due to my inattentiveness, I made an extra effort this year.
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Being as the actual 4th fell on a Sunday, we chose to celebrate on the 3rd. I generally have an adverse reaction to "crafts". As a joke on my wedding one of my bridesmaids gave me a glue gun, because I had sworn I would never use one (alas, I have been through 3 now. I mean, who can make a mission or fix toys without one, I ask you?). But we knocked ourselves out making freezer-paper stenciled t-shirts this time around (glue gun not required, but I will admit to using puffy paint and... (choke) sequins!). The results were not too shabby, if I may say so. I cranked out a patriotic, minimal-effort-confection of angel food cake and berries, and threw on my only red shirt. We looked very star-spangled, indeed.
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We (and by we, I mean Guy) made food and schlepped our way over to our friends', the Slaughters, for fireworks. We ate far too much and then parked ourselves on the lawn for the light show. Guy and I sat in the warm evening breeze and reminisced about our first fireworks show together when we were dating, and joked that our second had been our honeymoon. As I watched Tessa enjoying the light display, I remembered that last year at that time she had just chopped off her hair. Now with her tresses cascading to her shoulders I can see what a difference a year makes.
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The kids have enjoyed a year in a new school, and I have seen amazing progress in each of them. The fears and uncertainty of a new school community have given way to new friends and familiar routines. Guy was about to begin yet another dreary year of evening and Saturday classes, yet here we sit hand-in-hand in our lawn chairs at the end of it, Guy with his credential completed. A year ago the future would hold the heartache of another lost baby, fertility testing and a thousand prayers for guidance and direction. The baby that now hiccups as I type, bumping the laptop that these days barely fits on what's left of my lap, warms my heart like the coming of summer has warmed the evening air.
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What a joyful shift in our lives this year has brought.
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The Chinese celebrate the new year with fireworks. They and other cultures celebrate the spring as the true beginning of the new year.
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I pick summer.
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Happy (New Year) Fourth of July!
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("Now I will look skinny!" Joanna states as she hides behind my ginormous belly. I have to admit, next to that melon she looks a size 2!)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Illumination


For the past many months, I have had a check list in my head. Christmas, check; Ellie’s b-day, Guy’s, then Tessa’s and Ethan's, check-checkedy-check; last day of classes for Guy, yeah!-check, and then for the kids, check.
Vacation… check.
Guess what is next on the check list?
Baby.
There are six weeks left. I am in the phase of pregnancy when everything starts to loosen up, and the connective tissue threatens to allow all inner organs to fall on the ground. My waddle has transformed into a full-on lumber. I am a turtle on it’s back, completely helpless to right myself when ever the couch swallows me up. Heartburn is my new BFF. By the end of each day my feet look like latex gloves that someone has blown up to use as balloons to distract a crying child, my back is stiff, and my brain is utter mush.
It is a perfect system.
We get this way because we need to reach a point when we are willing to consider the possibility of pushing a 9 pound bowling ball through a donut hole. If pregnancy were comfortable at the end, we would all still be pregnant with our first. Pregnant women feel beautiful for the most part. No reason to suck in a full belly, breasts that stand up all on their own, and that wonderful feeling of secret mystery that you are connected to a divine force that needs you like you have never been needed before. Who would walk away from that?
I suppose it is time to get ready. In past pregnancies I have scurried around getting items together for my births; scented oils and calming music for labor, clothes in the right colors for the naked one, the whole nine yards. I usually read and read and READ everything that I can to prepare for birth. My mind is normally a humming beehive of activity as I prepare for the event as though it were a wedding.
Not this time.
I have no lists.
I have no agenda.
I have no stuff.
The baby clothes wait in their bins in the garage. The cradle, still dusty, sits in the rafters. I have ordered my birth kit, as that is pretty important in a technical sense (a birth kit has all of the medical items that are needed for the birth like cord clamps, gauze pads and sterile gloves). But to be honest, all of the rest of it seems silly to me at the moment.
I have done this several times now, and each time I have re-learned the lesson that a new baby doesn’t require much. All of the fancy do-dahs are really for the parents. As long as I have diapers, (check) and milk (double-D-check), I am ready.
It has taken a long time to realize that we are probably going to have a live baby at the end of all of this. Over the vacation I somehow got there, and now there is all I need or want to be. It's like someone opened the curtains on my mind and let the light stream in.
For today, I don’t need anything but the kicks I feel inside.