Category Archives: Pregnancy
My friend Stephanie was at the birth of Jean Marjorie Joy, born on June 25. She had her camera, and I knew she took a few pics. But I didn’t know just how many until today, Jean’s six-week “birth day.” Right after the birth, Steph went on vacation and was then busy with a number of other things. She gave me a flash drive with her pics on it, a week and a half ago. I don’t know why it took me so long to view the pictures… Mixed emotions, I guess. However, when I did, I cried good tears… Collectively, they tell a tale of love, and of a day that shouldn’t be forgotten. There are a whole bunch of pictures immediately post-birth, for a space of about sixteen minutes that I somehow forgot: I just somehow absolutely didn’t recall those minutes, at all. But, seeing the pictures, it all came back to me, even how it felt, to have baby Jean up on my swollen belly, only a minute post-birth. “Oh… yes… I do remember that! I remember it now!” (You can read the original birth story, here.)
I had hoped that with a bit of distance and reflection, the story of Jean Marjorie Joy’s birth would make a little more sense to me. However, she will be four weeks tomorrow, and much of it feels as cloudy now as it did on June 25th, the day she was born.
For this birth, my sixth, and first home birth, I felt oddly disconnected, emotionally.
I think it started from… well, I had about eight days of pre-labor, prodromal labor. Eight solid days where contractions NEVER fully let up. Never. On about four or five occasions, they would increase in strength and frequency, until they were quite intense and about three minutes apart, and this would continue for 6, 8, 12 hours.
Normally, when one has contractions that are more than a minute long, three minutes apart, for a number of hours, one is in labor! Actual labor!! So, I would alert my husband, who invariably came home from work (or just didn’t depart for work). I’d call or text my midwife. I’d get other things prepared, including myself, emotionally and with focus, for me to have a baby.
And then… the contractions would disappear.
Or, they would almost disappear. They would slow back down to once every 20 minutes or so.
So, over the course of a week, I became emotionally engaged, multiple times, with the idea of having a baby… And I would prepare, mentally and logistically, to have a baby.
And then, the baby wouldn’t come.
I admit: I cried. I became discouraged more than once.
It’s difficult to explain… But after about the fourth time of this happening, it felt like The Baby Who Cried Wolf. And I stopped believing.
I didn’t stop believing that I would have a baby; I knew I actually would, eventually.
But, when the contractions would ramp up again, I couldn’t help but think, “Yeah… whatever.”
That sounds awful, but it’s true.
I had visions of one of those births that just progress beautifully, undisturbed, where the midwife never checks my cervix, and I just listen to my body and tune into my baby, and birth a baby in peace and joy.
That didn’t quite happen.
Well, it didn’t happen at all.
After the first two days of contractions, on June 18, I caved and asked to come in to see my midwife and for her to check my cervix — the first vaginal exam of my entire pregnancy. I was only 38 weeks, 5 days, but I had had two of my babies earlier than that; it wasn’t inconceivable (ha!) that I was in labor.
She did, and I was dilated to 2 cm and about 75% effaced.
In a mom who has given birth previously, that really doesn’t mean ANYTHING. As my midwife had told me (and as I already knew), “I have had multip moms dilate to four and stay there for weeks.”
But, I just wanted to know if these contractions were progressing anything or not. The answer: Kind of. Not really.
On that first check, we also discovered that baby was engaged in my pelvis, but her head was tilted just slightly, and my cervix was still very posterior. Good news, bad news, bad news.
Not “bad news” as in dangerous — just “bad news” in that it meant that the birth likely wasn’t imminent. Babies can be birthed in a wide variety of imperfect positions, but I did know that the mama’s body will likely keep contracting to try to reposition the baby as long as possible. And I knew that my cervix needed to travel forward — anterior — before the baby could be born.
But… even with all of that, since this was my sixth baby, the midwife reminded me that even just a few really hard contractions could reposition her, bring my cervix forward, and cause me to dilate, all within a literal matter of minutes.
So, it was like I wasn’t in labor, but I was.
The 20th of June came: My 40th birthday. I went to see the midwife again, as I had continued to contract. I had an “official” appointment with her the next day, but as I had been contracting still, I asked to come in early. But… no dice. Nothing had significantly changed from two days previous, though I was dilated to three, instead of two centimeters. Everything else was the same.
At that point, I decided that I was going to stop going in to see the midwife until I was 100% certain I was in labor — and then she would come see me.
That was a Thursday. I continued to have “bouts” of strong contractions, close together, for multiple hours.
Monday was the worst, though.
By Monday the 24th, my uterus was officially sore, and I could feel like it was tired.
That was worrisome, because I didn’t want to go into real labor with a sore, tired uterus. That was actually my biggest concern about contracting so much: I needed a “fresh” uterus. It’s a muscle. I mean, imagine running 10 miles for eight consecutive days before you ran a marathon. You just wouldn’t do that, even if you could. When it comes to the real thing, you want muscles that are refreshed and ready, not ones that have been drained of their strength.
I contracted for 12 solid hours on Monday, from about 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
My husband, so dear, had come home from work around midday. He set up his Kindle in our bedroom, hooked up to speakers, with my favorite worship songs playing on YouTube. He was attentive to me, taking care of our children, checking in on me… It was just right, actually.
When the contractions — yet again — petered out after the children were in bed for the night, I sobbed. I was so discouraged. My husband reassured me that the baby would actually come, and that he was not impatient with me. His words were soothing to me, but I couldn’t explain how it was such an emotional investment to think that I was in labor, and then find out that I wasn’t.
I came downstairs… We watched some TV. It felt like the baby flipped completely in the womb. I thought, “That’s either really good — she’s positioning herself correctly, finally — or that’s really bad — she’s turned breech or something like that.” I got down on the floor to palpate my belly, to see if I could tell where she was. I couldn’t. I could feel, though, something against my cervix. It felt like little fingers, wiggling around. “It feels like she’s trying to push her way out with her hand!” I exclaimed.
I thought for certain that such a feeling was a… sensation, not the actual truth.
Eventually, we went to bed, with me feeling… well, not quite as discouraged as I had, earlier in the day, but resigned… As in, “Whatever.” Ambivalent.
Around 12:30, I woke up, contracting pretty hard. That wasn’t new. The contractions I’d been having for more than a week were often hard enough to wake me from a deep sleep; and I’m a hard sleeper. However, it felt like I had wet the bed.
“That’s weird,” I thought.
It wasn’t enough liquid to be my water breaking, yet I don’t normally wet the bed! So, it just seemed weird to me.
I cleaned up and went back to bed.
I woke again at 1:30 with the same situation: A pad full of water and contracting.
I knew that when the membranes break, often they can do so by “leaking”, instead of popping. But, it didn’t smell like amniotic fluid. However… At 1:30, I had some bloody show. I knew that this meant that I was dilating — a good sign, indeed! — but that the mucous plug, once lost, can be re-formed, and just because I was dilating did not necessarily mean I was in “real” labor.
I continued to wake up every hour with the same “symptoms” — one strong contraction followed by lesser contractions, anywhere from 3-8 minutes apart; just enough liquid (I was still completely unsure if it was amniotic fluid, or if I was peeing) to fill a pad; and some bloody show.
The contractions didn’t seem any more significant than the ones I’d been having for the previous eight days. They didn’t feel any stronger, they weren’t any closer together… In fact, I was having times where they’d stretch to 10-12 minutes apart, then increase in frequency: sporadic, but consistent.
But, by 4:30, I had the most bloody show yet and some loose stools, and I had decided that the liquid was surely amniotic fluid, not urine.
That may be TMI for some (and if it is, you’d best stop reading now), but for me, I knew that loose stools is a very positive sign of labor. They’re caused by the presence of prostaglandins — hormones that are present during labor and that cause the cervix to soften and thin — efface. It has happened with all my babies, historically 3-12 hours before the baby is born.
So, at 4:38, I told my hubby, Martin, who had been sleepily aware of my restless night, that I was pretty sure this was real labor.
I decided to give it another hour, though, before alerting anyone, just to be sure.
For about 20 minutes, the contractions were sporadic: 3 minutes, 7 minutes, 4 minutes, 5 minutes apart. Then, right at 5:00 a.m. on the 25th of June, the contractions started to intensify and they picked up to every 2-3 minutes apart and stayed there. I stopped timing them and told my husband, “Timing them is becoming distracting. They’re real. I would be shocked if we didn’t have a baby some time today, probably sooner than later.”
I called my midwife at 5:30 a.m. and went to take a shower.
Before showering, I sent a text to my friend Stephanie, who was coming as friend/doula. My husband is 46 and has known Stephanie since they were in junior high together. She has the PERFECT presence for a woman in labor: comforting, firm, determined, kind, gentle… She just knows what to do and what to say, with no error, ever. She is also a calming presence for my husband, who trusts her completely. (Martin lived with Stephanie and her husband and their son for two years, prior to our marriage.)
I found out about an hour and a half later that while I had composed the text to Stephanie, I hadn’t actually sent it, which explained why she wasn’t there. Just before 7:00 a.m., I asked Martin to call Stephanie. He got her voicemail. I was worried.
Back to 5:30-ish: Pam (the midwife) said that she would be to my home in 20-30 minutes. When I got out of the shower, she was there, in less-than 20 minutes.
At 5:53, she checked me. I was dilated to a “stretchy” 5 cm; she could easily stretch me to 8 cm. My cervix was still quite posterior.
She had previously told me that she could manually pull the cervix forward, which would hasten labor, but that it would “hurt like hell”. I didn’t envision her ever doing this to me because I like to let labor progress naturally; I don’t want anything to speed it.
But, at this point, knowing that I was contracting every 2-3 minutes, knowing that I was well-dilated, but that my cervix was still too far back… I consented.
It didn’t actually hurt. It was uncomfortable.
At that point, it was about 6:00 a.m. Pam and the assistant midwife (Alicia) made themselves scarce. They disappeared downstairs. At some point, they came back upstairs and prepped some things in the room: hanging bags for trash and laundry, setting up a birthing stool over a new shower curtain tarp, setting out piles of chux pads and other supplies. I was only vaguely aware of this.
Some time close to 7:00, Stephanie arrived. She had gotten Martin’s voice mail.
Laura also arrived, perhaps a little earlier than Stephanie. Laura, a friend of mine, has been a long-time doula, now studying to be a midwife; mine would be her first “official” birth as a student.
Even after Stephanie was there, I was concerned that everyone was there much too early. The contractions weren’t terribly difficult and I had visions of everyone sitting around twiddling their thumbs and the baby being born 24 hrs later.
I don’t like putting people out. I really don’t. It makes me anxious, people sitting around, waiting on me. It’s the ultimate rudeness, in my perspective: Knowing that people are waiting on you, and you taking your sweet time… I kept thinking about how maybe Martin should be at work; Pam and Alicia having to reschedule clients’ appointments — or worse, missing another birth because they were at my not-real birth; Stephanie should be at home with her family, or at her daughter’s volleyball tournament… At one point, I asked the midwives and everyone else, “You bored yet?” They seemed surprised, and Alicia mentioned how my 7yo, Audrey, was keeping everyone entertained, downstairs, with her quips and antics. That wasn’t quite what I meant. I guess I asked that because I was worried about it being way too early, and here I was, keeping everyone waiting. I also started to question the wisdom of not really having anyone to watch the children. As my oldest child is 16, everyone is pretty well self-sustaining: They know what to do, what not to do, they can get breakfast and lunch for themselves, etc. I knew our home would be filled with adults, in case of some emergency… But, now, hearing about Audrey keeping everyone “entertained”, I worried.
In my previous births (all in the hospital, four with naturally-minded OBs, one with a Certified Nurse Midwife, all medication-free), one reason I never insisted on a home birth was because of the above: I could envision myself worrying about everyone else, worrying about what the children were doing.
So, I labored, mostly focused on the labor itself, but about 5% of my mind wondering about the children, the midwives, Stephanie, my husband…
Speaking of the children, the boys (ages 16, almost-14, and 11) would just check in with the midwives, asking about how mom was doing. Ethan (the oldest) didn’t come upstairs at all. Grant and Wes came up once, before everything got intense. Audrey came in and out frequently. Fiala, my 4yo, stayed with me, or at least in the room, for a good portion of labor.
That’s actually just what I thought it would be like, with the children. I was a little concerned about Audrey being too self-focused if she was in the room, but she wasn’t at all. She wasn’t as attentive as Fiala, but she wasn’t as mindless as I was afraid she’d be.
For much of my labor, it was just as above: Me standing in the bathroom, supporting myself on the sink. I like to feel grounded, my body supported.
Also, notice my tense shoulders and arms? Later, Pam (and everyone else) kept telling me to relax them. That made me a little upset. I couldn’t insist that, even though my shoulders were tense, the rest of my body was relaxed. I wasn’t fighting the contractions, even though my shoulders were tensed.
This picture kind of freaked me out. A) I look… old. B) I look like my mom.
Around 8:45, I was in the bathroom again, against the sink. Stephanie and Martin were just outside the open door, talking. The midwives weren’t in the room; I found out later that they were camped in the (very small) hall, just outside our closed bedroom door.
Around 8:45, that’s when it switched for me. It switched from, “This may take a really long time… these contractions aren’t really difficult… I wonder if I’ll have a baby by noon? Five p.m.? When??” to, “Holy cow, I’m going to have a baby, and sooner, rather than later.” I stopped worrying about everyone else; I didn’t have enough mental energy to, anyway.
I stood leaning against the doorjamb of the bathroom, laboring hard. It took a few minutes, I think, for Martin and Stephanie to notice that something had switched… I couldn’t tell them, though. All I could think was that I wanted to lie down and that the carpet next to the bed looked good. I think I kind of motioned in that direction and finally made it there, with effort.
At this point in labor… It’s funny, because everyone started to be very concerned about my comfort and well-being, and kept asking me questions. I couldn’t answer, and I didn’t want them to ask me questions, but I couldn’t say that. I couldn’t talk. I just wanted to lie down. It seemed like that would make the pain of the contractions — which had very suddenly become very intense and strong — lessen.
So, I stretched out on my right side, on the carpet on the floor next to the bed.
Almost immediately, I thought, “This was a very bad idea.”
My contractions absolutely gripped my body. It was so painful.
I thought, “Either this is the world’s worst laboring position for me, or I am in transition.”
It’s odd, because in births #2-5, I knew exactly when transition hit. There was no question in my mind. But for this one, I just didn’t know.
It seems like, for the whole birth, almost everything solid… wasn’t. Everything reliable, wasn’t.
Not that my people weren’t reliable. Everyone who was there was wonderful.
But, prior to this birth, I can’t tell you how solid I felt about birth, how confident, how expectant.
But for baby Jean’s birth… No, I didn’t feel like that at all. The whole thing seemed fraught with questions and a lack of confidence.
I still don’t know why that was. I keep waiting for some revelation, some insight, which is why I haven’t written this down until now.
I still have no deep insight about why this was. Why did God see a need to put me in a place of insecurity? I don’t know.
But, I can say that, for me feeling insecure, this was the best place, with the best people, to be.
I don’t think in “what ifs”.
A number of people, who have either been at the birth, or who heard about it, have questioned with wide eyes, “What if you had been in the hospital with that?”
And I don’t know. I don’t think about that, at all. I wasn’t at the hospital… I was in my bedroom, with my husband and some incredibly skilled, caring women.
So, there I was on the floor, and I kept thinking, “I have to get off the floor.” But I couldn’t move. The contractions were right on top of each other, and each one made me freeze and melt simultaneously. I couldn’t speak or move or think, other than in the back of my mind, thinking that again, “I have to get off the floor.”
It was just hurting so badly while on the floor, something made me feel that if I was not on the floor, I would feel better, labor better, with less pain.
It took a while… about 15 minutes, to be able to get into a not-lying-down position. While I was getting up, at one point, I was on my hands and knees. While there, I had the thought, “OK, this doesn’t suck as badly as being on the floor.”
It was still completely miserable, but it wasn’t as awful as lying down.
As I picked my hands up off the floor and rocked back to a sort-of kneeling position, I started to feel pushy.
Ah ha! It was transition.
Oddly, this didn’t make me feel any better. I was still feeling very insecure, very befuddled…
I know that when women labor naturally, the best place to be is in that… irrational, deep place of instinct. However, even though in my previous births, especially with Audrey and Fiala, when I reached a place of transition and starting to feel pushy, I was so elated. Even though I was deep in myself, drowning — in a good way — in labor itself, there was an underlying joy and expectation.
This time, not so much. It just stunk. I just kept thinking, “I have to get to this next point, because then it will feel not-as-awful.”
Never, except perhaps with my first birth, when I was altogether inexperienced, had I ever felt like that while birthing.
At that point, Pam stuck her head in. She said later that she could hear that something had changed. Stephanie said, “She’s feeling pushy.”
I somehow communicated that I wanted to get up on the bed, on all fours. Someone put a pile of pillows at my head, I don’t know who. That was perfect. My head against the headboard, resting on my arms, which were on the pile of pillows. Just right.
I remember thinking, “This is just right.”
Funny enough… when I was discussing, in a previous prenatal appointment, how I envisioned myself giving birth, I said something like, “Well, not on my hands and knees. I don’t see that at all. I don’t think that would be comfortable at all.”
And I can’t say that I was comfortable, but for one reason or another, it was just right, it was where I needed to be for that birth, for this baby.
I started pushing at 9:25. My water had not broken, which I found very odd, given the fact that it surely had leaked earlier in the morning.
The girls, Audrey and Fiala, were still in the room. I was proud of them — for being involved, for caring, for not freaking out…
They were on my right, on the side of the bed. Martin was on my left. Pam was at the foot of the bed. Where everyone else was, I don’t know. I had my eyes clamped shut, and it took all my concentration just to be.
Even with the first push, it didn’t feel quite right.
I wasn’t concentrating on pushing crazy-hard, though.
Knowing from my previous births, I get into robot-birthing-woman mode during the pushing phase: My tendency is to push too much, too hard, not judiciously. I hate the “ring of fire”, which is aptly named for me. I just want to get past that, past it, past it. So, I push like crazy. I have since learned that the ring of fire is when the perineum is stretching, and if I don’t want to tear, that I must be patient, let it stretch, hold it right there, even as it burns, wait, wait…
But after — I think it was — two pushes, my water broke.
The energy in the room shifted.
I can’t describe it any other way. The energy changed. Alicia came over on my right and took hold of my leg to angle it just so, underneath me… I didn’t know what she was doing, and frankly, I didn’t like it.
Pam was still at the foot of the bed, and I could hear her giving instructions, but I have no idea what they were.
She was supporting me. She was there, working, doing something. She was using both hands. She was directing me when to push, which was 100% OK. I had told her in a prenatal appointment that I don’t completely trust my instinct, because my instinct wants me to over-push, and that I would be listening to her and trusting her.
I could hear her voice, calm but firm, raised but not loud.
I was pushing, but it still didn’t feel right; it didn’t feel powerful.
I found out later that my baby had a nuchal hand, and that became apparent after my water broke.
That sensation I had experienced, the previous night, about baby Jean trying to push her way out with her hand?? It was true. It really was her hand, right at the mouth of the uterus, right at the cervix.
That is probably why I was contracting for eight days — my uterus was trying to get her positioned correctly, get her hand out of the way… It didn’t work.
I didn’t know all this was happening — oddly, I couldn’t feel it at all. Pushing was very painful, the ring of fire was very painful… but Pam manipulating the baby’s arm while I was pushing?? I had no idea. I didn’t know there was a hand/arm issue at all, until afterwards.
But, when baby Jean presented with her hand right next to her temple, Pam said that she first tried to push the hand back down. She could get it to the collar bone, but Jean kept sticking it back up. Then, Pam showed me how, when a baby is birthed, if her arm is bent, the elbow sticking out can be problematic. So, she had to pull the arm all the way out, first.
And this is why pushing didn’t feel right to me; it is why it felt ineffective — because of the malposition.
Pushing hurt. Even when I wasn’t pushing, it hurt… Looking back, there was no respite — from about 8:45 to 9:45, when baby Jean Marjorie Joy was born. Only one hour. But it was a very long hour. It was all pain, all the time.
I wasn’t fighting it. It wasn’t that I wasn’t relaxed. I wasn’t fearful. But, I was definitely in pain.
I’ve heard that the difference between pain (or even agony) and misery is one’s emotional state. I did feel befuddled and unsure of myself. But, I also felt cared-for, loved. I felt assured that I was in very competent hands. I just had to trust everyone… and I did.
At some point in the pushing, I became pretty loud. The girls left the room.
I asked them later if they were scared by me… being loud. (It wasn’t screaming, it wasn’t yelling… I don’t know what you’d call it. It was just loud.) And Audrey said, “No… It was just too loud, so I left.”
I think there was something in her that said, “This is too intense,” and she took her exit, with Fiala following. Even that, I think is just right. They weren’t frightened. They had just had enough and could probably sense that they were no longer of any help. Prior to that, they’d often kiss my cheek, or put their hands on my belly… At one point, Pam said, “Do you see when her eyes are closed? That is when her belly hurts and you can’t put your hands on her belly because that hurts her more.” And they didn’t.
I pushed for a total of 20 minutes. That felt like a really long time to me, as all my previous babies were between 4-7 minutes each.
But she came out… with me being loud…
And you know that amazing emotional high — just absolutely saturated with JOY and love after a baby is born naturally? I have experienced that five times. I’ve studied that phenomenon, and in the birth classes that I (intermittently) teach, I describe the hormonal process that leads to that awesome feeling, and how it’s designed by God… And, amazingly… the process that gets the baby OUT is very similar to the hormonal process that got the baby IN. That feeling after a baby is born is remarkably similar to an orgasm. I am 100% convinced that it’s part of God the Father’s plan for birth to culminate in a feeling, and experience that is BEYOND WORDS, both to help the mom and baby bond, to assist in the mother forgetting the pain of birthing, and so that there is… and emotional reward in doing a job well done. Among other good things. It really is a complicated an amazing hormonal process.
But this baby?? Um, no. I didn’t feel that.
I was just flat-out relieved.
That’s it: Relief.
I was just relieved that she was out, that my baby was earth-side, that she was here.
But after that point, my memory is very fuzzy.
I was talking with my husband about the birth, two days after Jean was born, and he mentioned catching the baby.
“What?” I was incredulous. “You caught the baby? I didn’t know you caught her. How could I not know that? How could I not know that you caught our baby??”
Pam was at the foot of the bed, tending to me, and Martin was still at my side, and she told him where to put his hands, as when the mom pushes out the baby, she kind of curls below the mom when she’s on all fours.
I didn’t know this happened. I literally had no idea.
He continued, “Yes, and I held her as you turned over, and it was sort of awkward because she was still attached to the umbilical cord.”
How could I not remember this? I don’t think I remember rolling over. I don’t remember seeing my husband with our brand-new baby.
I don’t even remember anyone placing her in my arms.
I do remember seeing both Pam and Alicia rub baby Jean all over… she was fairly blue after birth. I remember them exclaiming about how huge she was. As they were doing this, I remember taking off my tank top so that the baby and I could be skin-to-skin.
Baby Jean pinked-up, and someone placed her in my arms. She had a lot of hair, for one of my babies. She was really, really chubby. Right after, someone else reached over and put one of those stretchy baby hats on her head. I buried my face in her neck…
Some short time after that, I birthed the giant placenta. We took a good look at it… And Laura took it home, which kind of freaked out Martin and Stephanie. I wasn’t freaked out. Folks do all sorts of stuff with their placentas. I kind of considered it, but after experiencing no PPD with my previous five, I sort of figured that having it encapsulated was an expensive novelty and I decided to pass. We could have kept it and planted a tree over it, buried in our yard. “A tree???” Martin asked. I knew he would be a tough sell on alternate uses for placentas, and that he would feel zero attachment to it. So, I hadn’t even brought it up, prior to birth. I figured I was just doing well, getting a home birth, and that the whole placenta thing wasn’t a hill worth fighting over.
Pam and Martin weighed our little chub.
Ten pounds, seven ounces.
My biggest yet.
My sister Robin arrived…
That is Fiala, Pam, Robin, Audrey, Martin, and Stephanie, all looking on to measure her head. Her head was 14.5″ (that’s big) and her chest was 15¼” (that’s really big). She was 22-ish inches long. I think Pam measured her at 22, but at Jean’s first pediatric appointment, when she was one week old, she was 21½”. And then the following week, she was 21¼”. Jean didn’t shrink… so, we can call her 22″, but who knows?
And this is the team (minus my other daughters)…
And now, quite apropos, my baby is crying… Sweet girl.
She’s just a baby.
Martin and I keep saying that to each other, “She’s just a baby.”
Even with the unusual-for-me birth, and even with a horrific event where my nipple detached about 40% due to a bad latch (yes, it was as awful as it sounds), this has been a stress-free month. There is peace and joy and the absolute delight of infancy, and the acute awareness of how quickly it passes… My husband and I have been in glorious enjoyment of baby Jean Marjorie Joy. There is a sense of completeness, of finality; we both know she is our last, and we are going to enjoy every last second of her being “just a baby.”
With my first birth, at age 24, I was younger and more physically resilient. However, I’ll trade NOW for then, any day. I was so stressed out with Ethan, sure that each cry of his was an indictment against my mothering. Now, Jean cries, and I laugh at her sweet, cute, sad, squishy face, and her baby-ness where she is just absolutely sure the world is going to end… I don’t laugh in a mocking way. She’s just so sweet. She’s just a baby. She doesn’t know.
But this time, I do. I know to treasure it.
Older women tell younger mothers that all the time, “Treasure it. It passes so quickly.” I was SO TIRED of hearing that continually. But, now I’m an older mother, and I know… I know… But, I treasure it all the more, because I do know, now.
She’s just a baby.
I have created a monster: Buddy, the Tomato-Loving Puppy.
It started like this: On Wednesday, as part of the Crooked Sky Farms CSA, I ordered two extra boxes of organic, heirloom tomatoes, 30 pounds total (for $30!!)*. On Friday, I processed half of them to make salsa, the first step being peeling and coring them. After scalding the tomatoes and peeling them over the sink, I pulled my cushy office chair up to the island — that’s how I’ve been doing my meal prep: sitting — and started cutting out the tough area where the stem attaches with a paring knife.
Our “old” dog, Tally, sat down next to me, very attentive, with a polite request in her eyes. I kept declining, “Tally. Really. You don’t want a tomato core. Dogs don’t like tomatoes.” But, she patiently and gently disagreed. Finally, I tossed her a core. She snapped it out of the air and wanted another. I tossed her another. And another. She ate them like candy! In short order, Buddy, who is 5 months old, figured out that Tally was getting something he wasn’t and came to investigate. Buddy is quite pushy and bossy — which bothers me — but I ended up using it as a training reinforcement for him to sit and stay. Soon, he was on one side of me, Tally on the other, and as soon as I cored a tomato, I would toss it to alternating dogs.
Eventually, I ran out. Tally was all right with that, and sauntered off to lounge in the living room.
Buddy was NOT all right with me running out.
He’s not a very vocal dog. He whines a bit, but rarely barks, and is just generally a quiet dog. But, after he figured out that nudging my leg with his nose was not producing any more tomato cores, he put up a fuss. I wish I would have recorded it. He vocalized with such incessant pleading, loudly begging for more tomato cores, deep in his throat with a variety of pitches, howls, and vocalizations. He was also trying his best to sit and stay, maximizing the possibility of obtaining more tomato scraps. But, he worked himself just about frantic in his quest for more tomatoes. At first I was highly amused. NEVER have I heard him talk like that! But after a good ten minutes, I started to feel very sorry for him. Not sorry enough to chop up a good tomato and give it to him, but I did commiserate with him and try to comfort his comfortless self.
The next day, Saturday, I processed nearly 15 more pounds of tomatoes for Tomato Confit Sauce, and the same scene was repeated, much to the dogs’ delight.
However, Sunday… Buddy decided to take matters into his own paws.
I have six tomato plants growing in my mini-garden. Three of them are very large. They haven’t been the most fruitful of tomato plants, probably because I haven’t as highly-prioritized my garden this spring/summer as I have in years past! I’ve fed the plants infrequently, have not hand-pollinated, and other than putting tomato cages around them, mulching them with homemade compost, and watering them faithfully, I haven’t really done much with the plants or to them. However, each plant has a number of tomatoes in varying stages of ripeness, with the very first tomatoes of they year JUST ready to pick.
And they were picked. By Buddy.
My husband Martin woke me up on Sunday morning, “Babe… I’m sorry to tell you, but Buddy ate all your tomatoes.”
I was up in a flash. “WHAT???”
“All the ripe ones. They’re gone. I was on the back patio and I could see him over by the garden, but I couldn’t really tell what he was doing until it was too late.”
I practically ran — with my 38 week pregnant belly — down the stairs and out the door to inspect the damage. Sure enough. Only bright green tomatoes remained.
I about cried.
And this is AFTER this past week where I have mourned him plucking four of the six muskmelons off the vine. That, while I was heartbroken, I sort of understood: They looked like oversized tennis balls. I could imagine his confusion.
But all my tomatoes??? Oh, that saddened me.
And then, he one-upped himself: He branched, later Sunday evening, into sampling the GREEN tomatoes. He ate at least 2-3, and I found three more, on the plants, with teeth punctures in them.
Oh, Buddy! How could you?? Rascal dog!!
The only good news about this is that, a short time later, he puked up the green tomatoes. I’m hoping that the experience is enough for him to stop nabbing my tomatoes. And in the meantime, my husband is going to rifle around in our shed and see what he can find for some temporary fencing.
*They have a Groupon going!! $24 for 15 lbs of Crooked Sky organic, heirloom tomatoes.
I’m 36 weeks pregnant today.
That’s rather a milestone, because Arizona law only “officially” allows home births between 36-42 weeks. So, I’m IN!!
In general, I’m not feeling miserable. Well, I kind of am… And part of me thinks that must be my age (I’ll be 40 next month!), but another part of me well-remembers the last weeks of pregnancy with my first, at age almost-24, and I think that, perhaps, I was even MORE miserable than I am now. So, I can’t blame it on age. Really, I just don’t enjoy pregnancy. My body resists it, and all the more so as the birth approaches.
I do enjoy the birth itself — so satisfying, so joyful! — and I adore having a newborn.
I’m not going to have a water birth.
It’s kind of funny, because with most of the home birth pics I see — like on the ever-encouraging Birth Without Fear — inevitably, they’re of a vernix-coated brand-newborn being pulled straight from the water into the mother’s waiting hands. And I just don’t… want that. I don’t know why, exactly. I just don’t. Every time I’ve had the opportunity to labor in a tub — with all but one of my five previous births — I have gladly done so. And I do envision myself in labor in my swimming pool and in a bathtub here in my home. But, birthing in the water? I just don’t want to. Part of me feels like I should have a birthing pool on hand, just in case. But, I have successfully, joyfully birthed five children while NOT in the water, and I think I’d feel a lot more comfortable doing the same with baby #6. I don’t like the feeling of NOT feeling… grounded while in the water. My midwife and her assistant (who is a friend of mine — a doula training to be a midwife) assures me that, with a rebozo (basically just a long, cotton shawl), they could wrap/loop it around me in such a way that I wouldn’t feel like I was floating away. But that makes me feel even more twitchy — having fabric looped all around my body and two women holding it while I push out a baby. I don’t want that… much touching me. And I’m just not a fan of plastic touching me, either. A rented pool is a blow-up plastic pool with a thin plastic liner. Not a fan of the plastic-to-skin sensation. No, thank you.
Plus, the pool rental is another $100 that I’d rather not spend, and my husband is worried about the second story of our home successfully supporting that much weight — and WET weight, at that — in the corner of our bedroom.
So, a birth pool is out.
For other baby-preparations…
Friends have POURED out love and blessing and baby stuff on us. I’ve received:
- A gorgeous crib. (Actually, two of them. I’m going to give one away.)
- The first six months of clothing — really, really nice clothing from a friend whose baby girl was born in August of last year. She works for a mall development company and I’m confident she spends WAY more time shopping at WAY nicer stores than me… Plus, she has two boys and her family was thrilled that she had a baby girl, and of course, everyone gave clothes. And she has passed them all down to me. And we’re going to meet up soon and she’s going to give me a Boppy (which I love), a breast pump, and some other items, too.
- A really nice car seat.
- A bouncy seat.
- Baby toys.
- A play pen.
- Some cloth diapering supplies.
- Some baby linens — like bath towels and blankets.
I already owned a nice, big, rocking, oak bassinet. I purchased it second-hand when Fiala (who is now 4.5 years old) was not yet born, and it has been making the rounds, so to speak, ever since. I’m kicking myself for not having all the mothers who have borrowed it write their baby’s names in pencil with the dates the bassinet was used. I think the count is at seven. Seven babies who have slept in that bassinet between the birth of my four-year-old and this new baby. I think that is such a rich, sweet history. And now, the bassinet has come back to me from the most recent baby (born in November) who had it… Along with the bumper I made for a friend who used it for HER little girl, who will be four in August. It’s still in great shape, still super-cute.
All I have purchased are:
- More cloth diapering stuff.
- A pail liner for said cloth diapers.
- Another wet bag (a friend already gave me one) for cloth diapers on-the-go.
- A diaper bag.
- A Moby wrap.
And with all of that, I have spent less than $200.
For diapers, I have purchased all-in-ones, pocket-diapers, prefolds, diaper covers… I have nearly enough diapers and supplies to last from newborn until potty-training. Craigslist is a GREAT source for cloth diapers. Thankfully, cloth diapering is quite trendy right now. However, countless mothers have spent HUNDREDS of dollars on pricey, new cloth diapers, tried it for a week or two, and freaked out and decided to stop cloth diapering. Then, they offer their nearly-new stash on Craigslist for 10-50% the cost of new. And I come in and scoop everything up, happily. :) There are also die-hard cloth diapering moms who keep meticulous care of their cloth diaper supplies and have great items to sell — even if they’re older — that have been so well-cared-for that they’re worth buying. I’ve also purchased a number of diapering items from eBay. I’m still bidding on some more infant-sized prefolds… And I still need a few additional items, but I’ll still probably end up spending just under $200.
And that’s even with my pricey diaper bag.
NOTE: I am so NOT trendy. I’m really not. I have zero interest in being a stylish, hot mom who uses her baby as a public indication of her ability to spend loads of money on the best, most expensive brands.
So, on one hand, I’m kind of embarrassed about my Petunia Pickle Bottom diaper bag. This brand, in “touring” style I purchased, retails for around $150. Discontinued fabrics — such as the one I purchased — can be found for $75-105, typically. That just seems so, so, so pricey. Like, ridiculously so.
On the other hand, I absolutely ADORE my new diaper bag. I adore it. I can’t wait until it arrives. I bought it used, for about $40, and I literally cried with joy. Though it is a fraction of the cost of a new bag, it still seems crazy-expensive to me. But, once I saw that diaper bag… I just felt like I had to have it. Me, the immensely practical, pragmatic, penny-pinching mother of almost-six, “had to have” a $40 diaper bag. And I was willing to spend more! Ack!!
I consoled myself that I had been so frugal with my other purchases, and overall, have spent so little for this baby, that the $40 was justifiable. :D It’s my one baby-splurge.
So… with me now being 36 weeks, and with procuring — in one way or another — almost all of my baby supplies, I’m feeling almost-ready for the baby to come. She could come any day and we’d at least not be in a panic, though everything is not quite ready…
I am 31 weeks pregnant. I had two and a half glorious months, post-morning-sickness, where I felt AMAZING. Now, my large belly has caught up with me, and I am feeling rather crabby and swollen and it’s hard to breathe, and I generally feel uncomfortable. I’m also getting exhausted in a way… well, prior to my diagnosis with Celiac Disease, I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome*. I remember how it felt in the evening, anticipating even ONE outing the following day, and having to fight despondency, because I knew that ONE outing would wipe me out, entirely. That is where I’m at, now.
Until the last few weeks, the worst I could say was that the mass of varicose veins on the back of my right leg was giving me pain. All things considered, being a 39-year-old pregnant woman, I figured that was quite good. I got my stinkin’ expensive “pregnancy support garment” — which is very much like a girdle, or a compression garment. On one hand, it’s a blessing: It allows me to walk around without feeling like my leg is going to fall off; it minimizes the pain and pressure, as well, from vaginal varicosities. However… it is 80% nylon and 20% spandex which, apparently, my skin doesn’t appreciate. If I wear it for too long, I get hives. But if I’m NOT wearing it, I can literally be on my feet for maybe 5-10 minutes at a time.
I went to Illinois this past weekend. I went to my maternal grandmother’s memorial service and visited my paternal grandmother, who is very ill. I traveled with my sister (who lives in the Phoenix area, as well) and my brother (who drove down from Utah to travel with us). It was, all things considered, a wonderful trip, in spite of the sad catalyst for the journey. I could write for a very long time on my thoughts and the events of the four days, but I likely can’t: My experience is so intertwined with others’, for whom I deeply care. Telling my tale would necessitate telling theirs, as well, and I don’t know if they would appreciate me broadcasting their story; it’s not mine to tell.
Still, in spite of late nights, days spent going hither and thither on necessary business, spending my days in the endless company of others (which generally drains me, as an introvert) — whom I needed to see and wanted to see and LOVED to see, cramming a couple of weeks of events into those four days, in spite of unending exhaustion of both body and mind, an aching leg, and the aforementioned hives, it was an exceptionally worthwhile journey.
I love Illinois. The above picture was taken from the back steps of my aunt’s home. I took it, steaming coffee in hand. The sun was shining, it was about 7 a.m., and the temperature was 35°. The view is a corner of a field, which will likely have corn growing in it within a month or so, and a little pond beyond that. In the timber behind the pond is the remain of an old road, likely last used in the early 1800s. It had rained torrentially in Illinois, the day before our arrival, so the ground was saturated and impassably muddy in many places, and I didn’t own the boots which would allow me to go down that lovely road-path.
My husband, though, is considering having our family return to Illinois for our family’s summer trip this year — which would be our first time as a whole family — and I will most certainly meander down that road…
It shouldn’t be odd that, with the absence of The Mom, there are many things, upon my return, that have needed my attention. Life does go on, even when I’m not here at home. Laundry continues to pile up. Children still need attention in their schooling. The dog’s medicine runs out.
Today was much busier than I would have preferred, even if I weren’t pregnant. So far, I have:
- Gone to a grocery store — needed especially for milk and meat for the week. (In related news, I got three gallons of organic milk for $4.99. This was accomplished due to the fact that Shamrock Farms organic milk was 50% off this week, with the final price of $2.49 for a 3-quart container. Two containers were near their “best by” date, and were marked $2.50 off. In other words, FREE. I figured that even if they went bad before we finished drinking them, no harm done; they’re free. I got two other containers, as well. Four containers, three gallons total, $4.99 spent.)
- Done two large loads of laundry — it’s still not folded, yet.
- Overseen school with my three older children. I will admit my first grader, Audrey, did pretty much nothing today, other than some self-directed art and Lego-building.
- I fertilized my mini-garden with fish emulsion and epsom salts — something that should be done every two weeks, but of which I was very overdue.
- I called LG for my washing machine — again. It keeps having issues. I’ve needed to call them for a couple of weeks now, but kept putting it off.
- I ordered Algebra 2 on Teaching Textbooks.
- I had an overdue, hour-long conversation with another homeschooling mom, helping her (I hope) with some issues she’s having with one of her children.
- I went to Trader Joe’s for more groceries.
- I returned some overdue library DVDs. Yes, even with a smart phone, I kept forgetting to renew our family’s DVDs while I was away, resulting in $7 in new fines. :(
- I went to the pool supply store and got chlorine tabs and shock. Our poor pool… It really needs a new pump. It is under warranty until July, but a repairman has already been out once, and he said that there’s really nothing he can do, under our warranty, until the pump breaks. If it breaks entirely before July, the $400+ cost of replacement will be covered. If it only limps along inefficiently, as it has been doing, we’re out of luck. I must admit that I am tempted to sabotage the pump to “help” it completely break. My husband, though, man of absolute integrity that he is, wouldn’t hear of such a thing. But, it’s in the 90s now, and our pool-cum-pond is unusable.
- I went to pick up more fluconazole for our dog, Tally, who is still recovering from Valley Fever.
- I stopped by a used furniture store and bought a small chest of drawers for the new baby ($25 — it needs to be either painted or lightly sanded and revarnished — I haven’t decided which, yet). I also bought a very solid, medium-sized bookcase for $35. It has a blond finish, and appears to be from the 60s. It is almost cool. Tomorrow, I will clear out the beleaguered particle board book case which is currently holding most of our school books for this year. It keeps collapsing.
- I still need to shower.
- I need to make dinner — which will be the Crockpot refried beans I made last night, reheating a roasted Costco rotisserie chicken, and likely some roasted beets from the CSA I host each Wednesday. Easy peasy.
- I need to pick out the worship set list for tonight’s small group. It is definitely one of those nights where, if I didn’t have to go to small group, I probably wouldn’t. Frankly, I’d rather put up my feet, watch baseball, and read my current book** during the commercials. When I’m actually there at group, I always enjoy it. Always. But, right now, I am tired, and wish I wasn’t compelled to attend by my responsibilities there…
So, that’s it! That has been my day. Too busy for me. Still not over. But, life could be worse, eh? All things considered, life is still good — many things have happened in the last week that are stellar, and on which I cannot comment.
If you’re still reading, thank you. :) Since it has been nearly three weeks since I posted, I felt that this post was overdue, as well… Not my best work, but it will have to do for now.
Blessings to all my readers, those whom I know personally, and those whose acquaintance I’ve only made through this blog… I’ve been feeling particularly thankful for you, lately.
*Virtually all CFS symptoms disappeared when I went onto a gluten-free diet. I do believe that the underlying cause of my chronic fatigue was celiac disease itself.
**In spite of middling reviews (which I have not read — only noticing it has only about 3.5 stars on Amazon), I am still very much enjoying it. Well, I just peeked at some reviews. It appears that those who love Anne Perry’s mysteries, set in 1800s England, are most disappointed. Perhaps that explains why I like the book: I don’t care for Anne Perry. (I did read her four-book series which was set in WWI, but once the series was completed, decided that any more of Perry would be a waste of my time.)
I have a one-ish track mind. I tend to bunch my thoughts, my efforts together in one spot… Right now, even though I’m 26 weeks pregnant, and one might think I have, “BABY BABY BABY,” going through my mind, it’s not.
Actually, that’s somewhat of a good thing.
Historically, I start nesting somewhere around five weeks pregnant and it’s all I can do to remain focused and engaged with the rest of my life, responsibilities included, for the whole pregnancy. I tend to spend eight solid months with a nearly compulsive bent toward thinking, dreaming, planning, preparing, for my new baby. I put a huge amount of emotional investment and TIME into it. On one hand, that doesn’t seem like a bad thing. But, when I have other children who need mothering and schooling; when I have a home that needs cleaning and maintenance; when I have a husband who shouldn’t have to fight for my attention; when I have responsibilities at church that need me to NOT be thinking, “I sssooooo don’t want to be doing this;” when I have friends who merit attention, my hyper-nesting isn’t that great of a thing.
So, for me, the fact that this is on the back burner of my mind: I’m going to be adding an 8th member to our family in three months or so… is rather a blessing. I’m not struggling like I usually do with wanting to drop everything and become a hermit in my home and feeling VERY CRABBY that there are other parts of my life that are calling.
I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone.
I, for one, though, am very happy to feel ENGAGED with the world at 26 weeks pregnant*.
- We’re still doing school (though I am REALLY looking forward to our Easter Break next week).
- My home is quite tidy (most of it).
- I’m still leading worship in a weekly small group (though I joked that I might need to obtain a dobro sometime in the near future to accommodate my expanding belly).
- I’m still leading worship twice a month for SuperChurch (the 6-12 year-olds’ Sunday morning service).
- I’m still singing with the “big church” worship team two or three Sundays a month (I keep telling myself that I probably look ridiculous dancing… Oh, well.).
- I’m still hosting the weekly CSA at my home, and even just decided that I’m going to do at least another 12 weeks, shortly after the current season ends on May 1 (even though I’ll have to find an alternate location for while I’m in labor…).
- If anything, I feel MORE connected to both my husband and our five children during this pregnancy. I also feel more peaceful. This is probably my happiest pregnancy ever.
Knowing my history, I wasn’t sure, three months ago or so, that I should do the CSA. I often start well, but don’t finish strong. I get all fired up for one project or another, then start to lose steam… I was more than a bit concerned that this would be a similar endeavor, and then, when I lost focus and dropped the project, not only would I pay for it, but so would the 25 or so other people who were counting on me, and their families…
Also… and this is hard to communicate; I can’t grasp the right descriptive words… But, I was uncertain if the CSA was where God wanted me to invest my time. I long to be fruitful. I want the things I do to have lasting impact. I want my time to be well-spent. I want my involvement with others to have more than just a tinge of “ministry”. I mean… not that I’m trying to make this The Christian CSA with a prayer corner, worship music in the background, and Bible verses plastered all over my fridge — not that at all. But, I wanted this to be worthwhile in every sphere, and I wasn’t certain if hosting the CSA was a good choice in how to spend my time — time which often feels spread too thinly as it is.
So, I prayed about it. “Is this where you want me, God? Is this OK?”
I got no discernible response. I’m not saying God didn’t speak, but if He did, I missed it. I didn’t even feel vaguely “led” one way or another.
I asked my husband — who is well-acquainted with my tendency to rush into projects hard and fast and then feel overwhelmed — what he thought. Honestly, I was a little surprised that he seemed to think favorably about the whole thing.
It didn’t seem like God was telling me, “No,” although a nice, clear, resounding, “YES!” would have made me feel much more confident.
So, I went with my husband’s approval.
I guess I had previously felt that I was hosting the CSA for my own personal benefit. I mean, from the bottom of my heart, I truly want to equip others to eat better. But, I was kind of compelled more by the fact that I would get roughly $40 worth of local, fresh, organic produce for FREE each week, plus earn $1 per person, per week for what seemed like very little time.
I was wrong on nearly all accounts.
In the six weeks the CSA has been operational:
- A couple of weeks, I’ve gotten much less than $40 worth. The remaining time I’ve received FAR more. We’re rolling in veggies, which pleases me to no end.
- I anticipated making around $40/week, thinking we’d have that many participants. However, we started with only 16, and are now up to 24. So, I am not making even enough money to pay the midwife each month, which was my thought going into it.
- It takes much more time than I realized it would. Not only do I devote time “on the ground” from 2:00 – 5:30 every Wednesday, but there is a lot of communication and planning involved, too. I probably spend an additional 3-3½ hours weekly, often more. Seven hours total every week may not seem like a lot to you, but in my world, subtracting seven hours from other things that I could be doing?? That’s huge. That’s a big commitment.
Much more significant, though, is how I have been absolutely surprised by the positive feedback I’ve received from so many of the participants.
I was thinking recently about how, when I started blogging more than seven years ago, I was just compelled to write. It was 100% for my own benefit. I saw blogging as an online version of journaling: simply documenting the time and thoughts as they passed. I wasn’t trying to gather an admiring crowd. I wasn’t trying to change the world. I wasn’t trying to impress anyone or even benefit them. I just wanted to write.
Similarly, with the CSA: I just wanted some veggies. Some free, organic veggies.
But with both endeavors, I have been very taken aback by the genuine thanks, the more-than-occasional encouraging note, the thoughtful gestures that have come my way… I never thought — not once — that hosting a produce-pickup was going to make a difference in anyone’s life; I entered into it as rather an indulgence in something of significant interest to me. But, similar to how I am now compelled to continue blogging by the random e-mails that will start off, “Thank you for your post on ______________ . I was in tears because of my situation of __________. I stumbled upon your post, and it was just what I needed, and here’s how it affected me: ______________. It was just what I needed and I can’t tell you how thankful I am.” — I am now compelled to continue the CSA due to letters like this (shared with permission):
You’re a good friend Karen – even if “long distance”. I don’t think I would have stepped into organic thinking without your help and encouragement. The rest of my extended family think I’m nuts…a super picky eater or whatever. But I have strong convictions to take care of the body God blessed me with and it brings joy to my heart hearing my kids happily talk about healthy vegetables during mealtimes! It’s sad. I never knew any fresh vegetables except iceberg lettuce when I was a kid…nothing but canned and always over cooked. Surprisingly I took after my grandma it seems in how I feel about my health and she lived to be 70 even after smoking for 20 years of her life! She found Jesus, quit smoking & drinking cold turkey and lived a life of joy I still remember this day. I guess I’m sharing just to show my appreciation for you Karen. You have made a difference in my life too. I Love you friend.
That made me cry. It also made me think that maybe why God was so silent was because He knew that I was just looking for Him to say, “Yes, it’s OK with me that you have this interest, and yes, it’s OK with me that you invest your time here.” I was just looking for permission. But He was setting me up.
I sent an e-mail of thanks back to my friend and asked her if I could put her story on my blog. She didn’t immediately respond and I got nervous. But, when her reply came, the tears flowed anew.
I would be honored to be a story in your blog – Please feel free to write whatever you wish! Amazing…Our Lord God never fails to love and “push” us into His most blessed plan if just choose to submit! Love you, your thoughts & prayers are never wasted.
I’m an ISTJ on the Myers-Briggs scale… If you click on that link, at least 95% of it is me, to a T.
- They have a strongly-felt internal sense of duty, which lends them a serious air and the motivation to follow through on tasks.
- They place great importance on honesty and integrity. They are “good citizens” who can be depended on to do the right thing for their families and communities. While they generally take things very seriously, they also usually have an offbeat sense of humor and can be a lot of fun – especially at family or work-related gatherings.
- The ISTJ will work for long periods of time and put tremendous amounts of energy into doing any task which they see as important to fulfilling a goal. However, they will resist putting energy into things which don’t make sense to them, or for which they can’t see a practical application.
- Once the ISTJ supports a cause or idea, he or she will stop at no lengths to ensure that they are doing their duty of giving support where support is needed.
- Traditional and family-minded, they will put forth great amounts of effort at making their homes and families running smoothly. They are responsible parents, taking their parenting roles seriously. They are usually good and generous providers to their families.
- They are very hard workers, who do not allow obstacles to get in the way of performing their duties. They do not usually give themselves enough credit for their achievements, seeing their accomplishments simply as the natural fulfillment of their obligations.
It has actually been quite a while since I reviewed what I’m “supposed” to be like as an Introverted Sensing Thinking Judger. But, re-reading that descriptive page makes me appreciate God more: He who made me knows who I am. He knows what I need. He knows what brings me joy. He knows what will surprise me. He knows how to stretch me without breaking me. And He knows just the right time to bring encouragement to me…
*It recently came to my attention that I never stated what this child will be: SHE IS A GIRL. My husband was 100% right. Not only was I pregnant, but the baby is a girl.
I hate to call any food endeavor on which I embark a “diet”.
But, I guess how I’ve been eating for the last 3+ weeks qualifies, since I’m counting carbs.
It took me a bit, but I figured out that I need at least 80 net carbs daily to NOT lose weight. My goal is NOT to lose weight; it’s to maintain or to gain weight more slowly. By 21 weeks, I had gained 22 lbs. Once my morning sickness was over (bless God) I was packing on two pounds a week, all while eating GOOD FOOD. Now, I’m eating MORE good food, but fewer carbs.
Here’s my history:
- I have veinous problems. I have varicose veins including up into my lower abdomen. More weight gain is even harder on weak veins. And my particular kind of veins increase my risk (moderately) of hemorrhaging during birth. Not good.
- I also want to limit the stress on my heart during pregnancy by limiting weight gain. (I have Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome, which is fairly benign, but worrying symptoms ramp up during pregnancy.)
- I have a history of macrosomic babies. My smallest was 8 lbs 13 oz. My largest? 10 lbs even. Large babies increase one’s risk of hemorrhage.
- This is my 6th baby. For every baby >5, a mother’s risk for hemorrhage increases quite dramatically.
- I am planning a home birth and want to maximize my chances for success — to actually BIRTH in our home, not have to transfer due to blood loss.
- I did a similar diet under an OB for my last birth — I gained zero weight from weeks 28 onward — and the baby was STILL 8 lbs 13 oz.
- I have never had gestational diabetes but for baby #5, my oral glucose test (the nasty syrup) was “borderline-borderline” for GD, and I figured that a lower carb, no-sugar, high-protein diet wouldn’t hurt anything. It didn’t. :)
- In pregnancies #1-4, I gained 37-50 lbs each, ALL WHILE EATING A HEALTHY, WHOLE-FOODS DIET. My first OB told me that, for some women, their bodies go into “starvation mode” and operate with extreme efficiency, grabbing onto everything it possibly can and storing it as fat. He was pretty certain that that is what my body does. I did a food diary for him for a month (as I recall — it was 16 years ago!) and he was impressed with my diet. The only thing he recommended was taking out fruit. I didn’t, which is why I probably gained those 50 lbs.
- With pregnancy #5, on the lower-carb diet, I gained a total of 17 lbs, produced that 8 lb 13 oz baby, and recovery was immeasurably smoother for me, post-pregnancy. It was fairly easy to lose that extra 10 lbs, as opposed to being faced with a whopping 40 lbs to lose. I didn’t even have to try to lose those 10 lbs. They just melted off with a return to my regular metabolism, plus nursing.
For this pregnancy, in a couple of weeks, my midwife — who does offer the syrup-based oral glucose test, which I declined — is going to test how my body handles a “normal”/high amount of carbs via a large meal. I’ll go into her office at 7:30 a.m., and we’ll do a blood draw and test my blood-sugar levels. (She’s also going to re-test a couple of other things that were abnormal in an earlier blood test.) Then, I’ll go home and eat a “regular” breakfast — not one that contains 100 grams of glucose like the oral glucose test though it will be higher in carbs than I would normally eat for breakfast; I’ll probably eat eggs and a homemade muffin or two and shoot for 50 g carbs or so. Then, she’ll re-test my blood at 10:30.
We’re testing mostly out of curiosity. No matter what the results are, I’ll still maintain my current diet.
So, what am I doing in this “current diet”?
- Eating about 75-100 grams of protein daily, which is very similar to the Brewer/Blue Ribbon Baby Diet. (However, I’m not tracking my protein consumption down to the gram.) I eat 3-4 eggs every breakfast. I eat meat at lunch and dinner. My snacks tend to be high-protein, as well — nut-based or plain yogurt.
- Limiting myself to about 80 grams non-fiber carbs daily. (I have discovered that with fewer than 80g, I lose weight, which is not the goal.)
- Eating an additional 30+ grams of dietary fiber carbs daily.
- Eating at least NINE servings of veggies daily.
- NOT tracking fat consumption. At all. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee that this is a high-fat diet.
- Sticking to foods that are MOSTLY Paleo: veggies and meats. However, I do eat some dairy and some legumes, which most people eating a strict Paleo diet, don’t. Many Paleo adherents don’t eat any nightshades, either: tomatoes, potatoes, etc. I eat virtually no potatoes, but I often eat tomatoes. I’m not avoiding nightshades. (In a Paleo diet, the goal is to train your body to burn FAT for energy, and for it to NOT rely on sugar-carbs for energy. That is how one can eat a high-fat diet and not gain weight. A Paleo diet is also healthy, long-term, for one’s pancreas as it profoundly limits blood-sugar.)
- NOT counting calories.
- Keeping my sugar-intake extremely limited. This is all sugars, including honey and naturally-occurring sugars in fruit.
- Drinking 80-100 ounces of water daily. This is in ADDITION to other liquids I may drink. I actually shoot for a gallon of water daily (128 ounces) but rarely hit that goal.
- Taking supplements in addition to the foods I eat: 6400 IU vitamin D, 1000 mg cod liver oil, 1200 mg calcium, 600 mg magnesium, 250 mg Horse Chestnut extract, a multivitamin, and 500 mg vitamin C. Some of them are chewables, which accounts for the 3g carbs for my vitamins if you view my sample daily diet PDF. If I take an extra vitamin C chewable, that adds another 2g carbs.
Here is a sample of what I eat, daily (click for PDF). A few notes:
- Yes, I drink coffee. Two mugs of half-caff. I put organic half & half in it, along with stevia.
- I do use a kitchen scale for many foods.
- I use this website: Self NutritionData to calculate the content of most of my foods.
- I usually don’t include ingredients in my daily tally, but on the opposite page of my spiral notebook, I do some serious figuring to many recipes in order to figure out the carb and fiber grams per serving. Yes, this does require some math. No, I don’t mind.
- Some things I have to estimate. For instance, we go out to eat about twice a month. I made a rough estimate of 60 grams carbs plus 10 grams fiber for a recent (splurge!) lunch at a Mexican restaurant. This was for beans, corn tortillas, and some tortilla chips that went along with my shredded beef tacos. But… some restaurants — chains, especially — publish their nutrition data online. For instance, I ate a Double-Double Protein Style Animal Style (with “wheat allergy” noted) at In ‘N’ Out Burger. No fries. I drank water. That felt like a splurge, but I found out online that it as only 8g carbs plus 3g fiber.
- My go-to snacks:
- Organic celery sticks with sunflower butter (I get sunflower butter from Trader Joe’s. Yes, it has a small amount of sugar in it).
- A half, large avocado
- A handful (two ounces) of raw almonds
- There are a few gluten-free, low-sugar, high-fiber snack or protein bars — like ProMax LS or ThinkThin Or Kit’s Raw Organic — and I do buy a few of these to eat in a pinch. But, I tend to shy from packaged snacks.
- At the end of the day, especially if I need more carbs, I will sit down with a bowl of plain yogurt with blueberries or — if my carb count has been REALLY low for the day — 1/2 cup of g.f. granola. It’s odd to consider, but if you truly stick with virtually all veggies, nuts, and meat during the day, by the end of the day, you will have to eat a relatively carb-heavy snack or meal to KEEP yourself from losing weight.
- I will admit that, once this month, I splurged at Yogurtini. I eat frozen yogurt about once a month from the store. Yogurtini’s no-sugar-added flavors do NOT contain aspartame (they are sweetened with maltodextrin, sucralose, or other “non-sugar” sweeteners) but they DO contain artificial colors. This is not a choice that anyone should make on a regular basis, but I’m just keepin’ it real and honest here and admitting to my yogurt consumption. One five ounce serving (including a scoop of fresh blueberries) ran me about 22 g carbs and 7 g fiber.
So… My husband and I have always been budget-minded. We came away from our respective childhoods after watching at least some of the adults in our lives be fairly irresponsible with money with a wounded awareness of how that affected us, as children. Both of us, independently, had said, “That won’t be me when I’m an adult.”
As a result, as young adults, each of us were already very mindful of responsible fiscal living, and that only increased after we got married.
However, it took Martin and me what I thought was a REEEEEALLLLLLYYYYYYY long time to get on the same page with how to approach exactly HOW to approach being “fiscally responsible.” His tactic, for a number of years, was, “Don’t buy anything, ever, and save all your money.” That sounds all right, but what about when there are real needs?
I was reminded of that time in our lives this morning, and one major way I got through his tight-fistedness.
Most mornings, I sit down with my six-year-old, Audrey, with my now-ancient copy of The Pregnancy Journal. There are daily entries in this spiral-bound book of what is happening in the mother’s body, how the baby is developing, plus other tidbits about childbirth in other cultures, hints on nutrition, pithy — or touching — quotes about parenting, et al. There are also lines on which the mother can record how her particular pregnancy is progressing: her weight, mood, and other thoughts.
My current pregnancy is only a week different than my first, as far as due-dates go. My oldest, who will turn 16 on June 23, was due on July 4th. This pregnancy, my sixth, is tentatively slated to end on June 27. So, I have found it especially interesting, comparing my thoughts now, as an experienced mother, with my thoughts from sixteen years ago.
This morning I read something particularly poignant: It detailed how I really needed maternity clothes, and Martin wouldn’t release the funds. I now find that almost laughable: He’s a lot more reasonable now; I almost can’t believe that I could have made it to 20-ish weeks in my first pregnancy with ZERO maternity clothes, and him still saying, “No.” Additionally, I’m now a lot better at finding good deals; most of my current maternity wardrobe came, second-hand, from Craigslist. Some items came at no cost via Freecycle. And just a few things, I purchased new. I’m certain that, back then, I had no intention of buying secondhand maternity clothes.
In my journal entry, though, I noted that even if my husband was wrong, I didn’t want to develop any bitterness. I didn’t want to harbor any anger for him. He wasn’t in sin. He wasn’t breaking the law. He was simply unreasonable. I felt it then, and now, looking back, I still think he was unreasonable. Reading that journal entry caused all my old feelings to come flooding back: I remember struggling mightily with feeling hurt and unprovided-for.
However, in the midst of that dilemma, I decided to pray. Really, it was my only option.
I’m 39 and have been a Christian since I was five years old. However, I still tussle with the basic premise of prayer at times. “Why would God listen to me? Why would He move on my behalf? What if I’m praying the wrong way? Or for the wrong thing? I don’t even fully understand why He wants His people to pray. He knows everything, right? He already knows my needs. I don’t know why He works like that. Hmph.” Prayer often seems like a non-action.
Even though I’m not really fond of aging, one thing that I am appreciating is having a history and a longer perspective. I can look back on a current difficulty and say, “Well, I don’t know why God would answer my prayer. But He has, so many times before. I’m just going to pray. I’m just going to exercise some faith that He will listen and that He will move on my behalf.”
And, whaddya know??? Sixteen years ago, God provided. He showed up, and in a BIG way.
My pen from 16 years ago records the names of seven people who had, in a period of three weeks, given me money for maternity clothes, gift cards, gifts of clothing, and loans of maternity clothes, all of them unasked-for. I don’t know what prompted them; but whatever the method of prompting, God was behind it.
There were seven of them*. In three weeks. Immediately after I started praying.
I wrote, “The Father has seriously overwhelmed me.”
Shortly after my firstborn entered my life, I started going to a ladies’ Bible study. It was held at a church so near to my house, I could walk. It was attended by about 200 women weekly, most of whom were in the midst of marriage difficulty.** The lady who led it — a wise and grandmotherly sort — was fond of telling us women that the line we draw is sin: If our husbands are so wrong that they are requiring us to SIN, we don’t comply. However, if it’s just that our husbands are wrong, if it’s just that we don’t agree, if it’s just that they’re unreasonable… The best course of action is to turn it over to God in prayer, and let God be God in our husband’s life, and trust HIM, Almighty God, as the true source of our provision.
Easier said than done.
Well, maybe. It’s not even easy to say! But, I’m glad for the reminder, this morning, of God’s provision. And, I’m glad for the reminder of how far my husband and I have come as a couple.
*Five of those ladies are still in my life, incidentally. :)
**I wouldn’t say that my marriage was in difficulty, however, I was — two years into it — still having a tough time adjusting to being married, being other-oriented, thinking in terms of “two become one”, etc. I learned a lot in the 3-4 years I attended.
I decided that as a 40-year-old mother of six, it was time to grow up and stop biting my nails.
I’m not actually either 40 nor a mother of six, but I will be both in about four months.
I don’t think my lifelong nail-biting habit is a nervous one; It’s just more of a compulsion… Especially when I read. But even if it’s a nervous habit, I figure it’s better than Xanax.
I have a friend who is older than me… Not quite old enough to be my mother, but definitely older than me. And she bites her nails. That always made me feel a tad better. It shouldn’t have, but it did. Until I glanced at her hands recently and saw that they had been nicely manicured and she said it had been some months since she’d bitten them. She still hasn’t resumed.
I have a number of problems with NOT biting my nails, in addition to the whole habit/compulsion part of it:
- I play guitar, so they can’t be long anyway.
- If I want to stop biting my nails, it really helps if they’re painted; that’s quite a deterrent. However, as a chemical-avoidant person — any kind of chemical, for any reason — it chaps my hide that nail polish is one massive bucket o’ chemicals. BAD ones. Ones that, under pretty much all other circumstances, I wouldn’t expose myself to. I felt like a hypocrite, buying nail polish at Target earlier this week. I had to, though, because all my other nail polishes were 5+ years old and gooey; they wouldn’t dry.
- If I want to stop biting my nails, it’s best if I just IGNORE them. But, when one has nails, there is a whole, new, mandatory hygiene regimen associated with them, and they can’t be ignored.
It seems almost like I’m doomed to fail before I even begin.
But, vanity and a bit of shame compels me — the shame part as described above: “I’m too ‘mature’ to bite my nails. What is wrong with me??”
And the vanity comes in when, on a near-daily basis, on the Birth Without Fear blog, I view the multiple awesome pics of mamas triumphing through labor, with joyful relief as they’re now holding the tiny one they’ve waited so long to behold… and can you imagine if you see the mama’s hand, cradling the perfect newborn, and there are gnawed off stumps where the fingernails are supposed to be?? Yuck. I’m not saying that a birth story and accompanying photos of mine will ever appear on the blog. And I’ve never had a birth photographer present for any of my births. I’ve never even had a friend or family member take pics of the process!! But, if I did… Would I want to see the remains of what should be my nails, but have been chewed into oblivion?? No. No, I wouldn’t.
And so, it has been two weeks since I’ve bitten. In my world, that’s a long time. I can’t quite call it “triumph” yet, but it’s a good start.
Now, all I need to do is color my hair — WITH HENNA — again. There goes the vanity again: I think I’m the grayest pregnant woman ever and it just doesn’t seem right. But, that’s a story for another day…
After a flurry of almost daily blog posts, this last week, I’ve ground nearly to a halt.
…has been consumed by the CSA — the farm share I’m coordinating for Crooked Sky Farms. It is wonderful, and I’m glad I’m participating. I’m certainly not regretting agreeing to be the coordinator — largely because I got two HUGE crates of produce out of it. Literally: Nine heads of Romanesco; four bags of baby lettuces; four huge (probably 2 lb each) bunches of carrots; two bunches of Swiss chard; about four lbs of red potatoes; 13 tangelos; three bunches of baby Hakurei turnips; and four bunches of “grilling” onions (onions with small white bulbs and very large but tender green tops). Part of this was my share, and part of it was — I think — people just not taking all eight of the bunches of produce allotted to them… Or something. I think the farm threw in some extra produce, just in case. And all those leftovers were even with me finding buyers for the produce that should have gone to two people who didn’t show! Anyway, that’s a good probably 40 lbs of fresh, organic, local produce, all for me — for my family. Ah-MAY-zing. Some of it we’ve eaten, some is in the fridge, and some is now in the freezer. However, it has been a lot of work, especially when one person canceled beforehand, and then the aforementioned two people didn’t show… I was supposed to have a minimum of 20 paying customers in order for the farm to deliver to me. I ended up with 16. Ack! But my contact at the farm has been very gracious and they haven’t dropped us or anything. But I am being encouraged to try to drum up more business. I’M TRYING!! I really am. Since Wednesday, I actually found two more full-time members (one is an airman from Luke AFB who calls me “ma’am”), and then another guy who wants to sign up for only the 2nd half, and two or three more week-to-week people, and at least a couple more potential CSA members… Plus the eggs. So many people wanted eggs, and I’ve found two people within a mile and a half who have eggs that I’m selling. Again, that’s GOOD, but it’s more work. More bookkeeping. More keeping track of this and that…
- And the seed giveaway. That took a lot of time, just regulating!! Especially on the second day, I had a lot of comments… I was trying to respond to everyone who asked questions, send e-mails to folks who hadn’t followed the instructions… Um, I gave that up after a while. But, the seed giveaway was fun!!
- My heart has been worrying me. I have Wolfe Parkinson White syndrome, where there is an extra nerve connecting the left (I think) atrium and ventricle, which produces a wonky feedback loop. It is benign — though I just can’t help but thinking it CAN’T be good, long-term, for one’s heart to beat wrong — and normally, I have 5-10 episodes (weird/hard/thumpy heart beat, heart stops for a few seconds, or it races for 10 seconds or so, etc.) while my heart resets itself. But, while I’m pregnant, it happens… I don’t know… 30? 50? times a day, sometimes for multiple minutes on end, especially when I’m just sitting down (after standing) or just lying down. At my midwife’s insistence, I saw my cardiologist (whom I really love — he’s my favorite doctor for anything, ever), and I wore a 24 hour Holter monitor a few weeks ago. I finally got the results this week. And they essentially said, “Why, yes, you are having quite a few PACs, but it’s OK. See you again in April.” And that made me feel a lot better.
- My pregnancy is going well. I am now 21 weeks along. All-day “morning” sickness finally ended about three weeks ago, to my great relief. I’ve gained 20 lbs already, which is not good… That’s more than I gained with my whole pregnancy with Fiala. In what is a recurring theme in any weight gain I typically incur, I do eat good food — not junk; I just eat too much of it. Even if my midwife doesn’t suggest it, I think I’m going to do a counted-reduced-carb diet — herder-gatherer Paleo — which is almost how I eat anyway… just that from weeks 28 – 40 (or whenever), I’ll be extremely careful. After about week 28, nothing new develops in the baby; she will simply put on weight and whatever is already there matures. So, it’s less critical that a mother gain weight. In case it sounds worrisome that I’m planning on “dieting” while pregnant, I did this with my last pregnancy (Fiala): I gained a total of 17 lbs and she STILL came out at 8 lbs 13 oz. I would have felt badly if she was scrawny… But she wasn’t. And I became a bigger believer than ever in eating high-protein and low-carb in the last trimester. With my first two pregnancies, I gained nearly 50 lbs, so I know that, left unchecked, that’s probably where I’d end up. I just feel better and recover faster when I’m not toting an extra 20-30 lbs, postpartum.