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Worthwhile.

May 2, 2012

Two finals down, one to go. With any luck, I won’t do too badly and my GPA will not suffer too much. This semester was a lot more difficult than last. I ran out of ambition and doing coursework became an afterthought. Not good. And that really just does not fly with higher education.
I had an epiphany tonight, though. I’m glad for my struggles, particularly at this time, because my kids will be able to see me work my tushy off for my degree. And once I’ve finally earned it, I’ll be able to tell them (and by that time, I’ll probably be done having kids and the youngest will be speaking in full sentences) that while it was definitely not easy, it was totally worth it. As much as I wish I’d started cracking down on school sooner, in glad I have the boys to share my successes with, and for comfort when I don’t do so well. Every hug, sloppy kiss, and joyful giggle makes it all mean so much to me; and I don’t mean just from Dan. 🙂
It’s kind of peaceful to realize that as I’m killing myself with finals, I’m setting an important example…I don’t mean that in a self-righteous way, but in an “oh, hey, it’d be pretty cool if my kids copied that thing that I did!”

I started out on this degree for me…but really, it’s all for my babies. ❤

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True Horror.

February 7, 2012

This past Sunday, as many of you must know by now, Josh Powell murdered his two boys and took his own life to escape accountability for the evils he has trespassed in this world. Josh Powell was the husband of the missing Susan Cox Powell, and the only person the police had been investigating in her disappearance.
I think the assumption is that his motives in killing his children are two-fold: First, the courts had ordered some evaluations that he knew he would fail in order to regain custody of his boys; second, his older son had started talking about the night Susan disappeared…and implicating Josh. The boys had been removed to their maternal grandparents’ care last fall.
I’ve been following this case since it started two years ago, and I’m just sick for these babies. I can’t bear to write here what all was done to them, but if you’re interested, it’s easy enough to find on any news website.

I know that now they are safe. They are with their mother. The monster who gave them half their DNA and last name can no longer hurt them in any capacity. Their pains and trials are over.
And Josh, that awful, motherless oxygen thief is burning for everything he has done.

I wanted this to end differently. I wanted Susan to be found, alive, and reunited with her parents and sons.

Each new piece of information makes me sicker and sicker.

Eons later…

November 29, 2011

The last few months have blown by so quickly, I can hardly believe it. I started school again, and I’m doing really well. Right now, I’ve got a solid 3.7 GPA, and if I can swing it, I should end the semester with a perfect 4.0! It’s tough, going to school and having two kids, but it’s so worth it. Online classes make it so much easier to deal with! Next semester, I’m taking an in-person class, but I’m really excited for it – beginning drawing! I know it’s really not nursing related at all, but I think it will be really fun and good for me. Plus, I’m taking two sciences and a math…so I think I deserve a class that will help me blow off some steam.
Oliver is huge. He’s over 20 pounds now, and still exclusively breastfed. I put him in 12mo size pants today, and they fit! He’s such a funny, sweet baby. And he loves his family so clearly. Danny is an excellent brother, and there’s already a deep bond between the boys. I wasn’t prepared for how much my heart would grow, having two kids. When they play together, I feel as though I’m going to explode with love and joy. It’s just amazing. They are so genuine and full of joy. I love listening to them laugh together. 🙂
What brings me back to the blog, tonight, is the concept of “surrogate families”. I don’t mean the type of surrogate who carries a baby for an otherwise unable set of parents, but people who come into your life and become family.
In Pennsylvania, at church, Dan and I met an amazing older couple. They were on what our church calls a “senior mission”, which is 18 months of serving somewhere in the world, as a married couple. This couple, who I’ll refer to as the Novas, pretty much became grandparents to us. We’d go to their home for meals and to just hang out, they’d play with Danny, they’d come and visit us. It was wonderful, especially since I was feeling so displaced and alone. They came into our lives exactly when we needed them.
I’ve been foolish and haven’t kept in touch with them as I should. I’m terrible at that. Finding family, of any origin, is so exceptional. Sharing love, laughter, and joy is so important, especially as this world seems to fall apart in front of our eyes.
This holiday season, dear readers, I encourage you to reach out to those you love, and perhaps have lost touch with for a while, and remind them of how special they are to you. I know I’ll be reaching out to the Novas this week. I miss them terribly.

Body Image

August 25, 2011

I realized, recently, that I got fat because I hate myself.
That was a powerful, painful thing to realize.

It started early, noticing that the girls around me were thinner than I, and then various people in my life making comments about my size. The strangest part of this, though, is that although I wasn’t the thinnest among my friends and classmates, I wasn’t actually overweight. I was healthy and the ideal weight for my height!
Unfortunately, the sum of my experiences leading to puberty, my hyper-sensitivity, and the near-constant barrage of negative comments from those around me and the media led me to despise my physical appearance. And begin experimenting with eating disorders.
It hurts to get into the details of it, and I’m lucky that I didn’t get in too deeply. I’m unlucky, though, that I am also an emotional eater. In a matter of about two years, I went from a healthy weight to twenty pounds overweight. Since then, about the last five years, I’ve packed on another fifty pounds. Thankfully, despite the documented difficulties that heavier mothers face when losing baby weight, I have miraculously managed to lose almost fifteen of those seventy pounds that I gained since high school.
With the birth of my second son, I have, for the first time as an adult, found true love and appreciation for my body as it is. I have carried and delivered two children. I have nourished them with my body. I have so much more strength than I even know. My stretch marks and chub are something to be proud of, badges of honor.
This does not mean that I’m interested in bearing them for the world to see. (in case anyone was worried.) I’ve finally learned that hating myself is a vicious, self-perpetuating cycle. When I get depressed about how big I am, I eat. When I get angry, I eat. I’m done. Hating yourself sucks. I don’t want my children to have the same hang-ups about their bodies. I want them to be healthy and love themselves. The best place to learn that is from me.
I’m making some changes to be healthier. While I’ve learned to love and appreciate my body (come on, I’ve made people), I don’t like it. It does not reflect well who I am. I’ve gone on some pretty significant walks this week, and even though my feet ache and my calves are still cramping, I feel great about it.
Friends, teach your children that our bodies are not to be despised. Being healthy, mind, body, and soul, is far more important than a number on a scale. It’s a lesson I wish I had learned earlier in life…I think it would have saved me a lot of heartache. I hope it’s one I’m able to impart to my children as soon as they become aware of such things.

Finally! Ollie’s Birth Story

July 8, 2011

After weeks of so-called practice labor and very little progression, I went to my 40 week appointment hoping for good news – that I’d dilated enough to be considered in true labor.
I was meeting with my OB, which was a rare treat. She’s very busy, so I saw one of the midwives in the practice a lot. The whole team I had was really excellent.
She did my internal check, after discussing my appointment schedule for the next week and a half, and deciding my induction date. Just for giggles, I asked that she sweep my membranes (for the second time) as that can help get labor started. Since I had hardly progressed from my last appointment, I wasn’t too hopeful for the sweep.
When she had finished, she noticed a small puddle on the table and asked me, “Did I just break your water?”
“Uh…maybe?” haha. So she took a sample and checked under the microscope…yes, indeedio, there was the tell-tale ferning! My contractions started within ten minutes. Nice and painful…and in my back, again!
So she told me to go on downstairs to labor and delivery, where they were getting a room ready for me.
I had hoped to have a hypnobirth, but found myself ill-prepared. I did pretty well for the first few hours, but eventually I did request some phentonyl for the pain. It makes me a little high for the 20 minutes or so it’s in my system and takes the edge off. They kept trying to push pitocin early in the game, but I knew that I would end up with an epidural if I allowed it. I’m glad I refused.
I was able to move around, shower, try the ball, and rock throughout labor. There came a point where I pretty much had to stay in bed because of the pain, and there was some major screaming.
I was so tired. I had barely eaten before my appointment, which was just before noon (water broken about 12:10pm) and the screaming pain wasn’t helping. I was stuck at 8cm for hours. Finally, I started to breathe through the contractions. Half the hypno way, half a vocal warm up. It was 9pm or so. I would breathe in slowly, taking as long a breath as possible, through my nose, and then release the air by hissing, slow and easy. Over the course of labor, I had 4 shots of the phentonyl. This breathing helped me deal a lot better! In between contractions, I would either ask for a sip of water from Dan (who was excellent) or fall asleep for a few seconds.
It was after 10 o’clock when I started really feeling the urge to push, but I was still only at 9cm. My nurse wanted me to change positions, but the pain had gotten so bad that I was back to screaming through contractions. I didn’t want to move, and they were coming so closely together that I didn’t think I could move!
Reluctantly, I rolled over and got on my hands and knees. It was go time right away! I had to push, and they kept telling me not to push because the doctor wasn’t there yet.
It was such a relief when she got there! I pushed for about a minute (five pushes or so) and my newest little boy was here. That minute seemed like an eternity because of the pain, and I was screaming like a wild animal. Remember in Twilight when K.Stew screams because of the vampire bite? That was me, delivering Oliver.
He came out just like his big brother, fist by his face, protecting his throat from the cord wrapped around it.
We hadn’t decided a name for him yet, so when I finally got him back, Dan and I just looked at him. He thought “Oliver Thomas”…but while I’d been in labor I’d thought maybe “Samuel Dennis”. (I like the name Samuel and Dennis is my late vocal coach – who taught me the exercise that saw me through.) Ultimately, we went through the list we had made weeks earlier, and came to Oliver Jude. Jude is, of course, a nod to the Beatles, and my father – because I came to love the Beatles because of his love for them. “Hey, Jude” is a wonderful song, and has such a positive message. Eventually, I’ll probably post the story behind it.
So, that is the story of how my beautiful, 9lb, 4.3oz, 21.25in long Oliver Jude was born at 10:45pm on his due date, June 17, 2011.
Nearly three weeks later, he is doing great and growing like a weed. He’s already over 10lbs! And Danny loves him very, very much.

I am so, so blessed.

Some clarity…

May 22, 2011

I have strong opinions on a lot of things – and I won’t apologize for that. However, I do feel like I should explain some things; I’ve also had my opinion change on occasion, and it feels like time to update that. I’ll start with, in my opinion, the most controversial thing I’ve possibly ever said to anyone.

It is my firm belief that those who are medical professionals need to be as free from biases as possible. Doctors who believe firmly that c-sections should be the standard way of giving birth because it’s convenient to them, for example, are putting their patients in harm’s way. On the other side of the coin, a midwife who insists that a woman’s body will deliver a child regardless of anything else (placenta previa, inability to dilate, etc), is equally dangerous. Vaginal delivery is generally the best option, of course, but there are always circumstances that make that impossible or impractical for some women. I strongly believe that c-sections should only be used when necessary to literally save the lives of mother and baby (or babies). Women should also be the ones to decide whether or not they want to attempt a VBAC or do a repeat c-section – not the insurance companies! Our bodies are strong, but we all need to respect our own abilities and limitations. There is no room for a personal vendetta against a procedure in the delivery room – regardless of how it happens, a baby is being born there and mom needs all the support she can get.

Breastfeeding. I’m something of a “lactivist”, without the violent urges to expose myself while nursing in public or to berate moms who bottle feed. I don’t know that that’s always come across. Just like delivering, each mother has a different situation – if breastfeeding works out best, awesome! It’s a major challenge, and given the obstacles I’ve faced, I feel pretty awesome about being able to continue to nurse my toddler. If formula feeding turns out best, that’s awesome too! It’s not easy to have to make a bottle at 4am! There are difficulties to both. It’s all about what works best for mom and baby. Any more, formula has made leaps and bounds towards being nutritionally the same as breastmilk. That’s phenomenal!

I don’t think my mind will ever change regarding vaccines. They’re fully necessary and DON’T cause autism. More and more, they’re proving that it is genetics that cause – in particular, it often comes from the father. Short-term discomfort is outweighed by the long term benefits.

I feel like I had more to say…but I can’t think of it now.

Beautiful Sunday

March 27, 2011

Almost two weeks ago, we finally moved into our new place. It’s so wonderful to have a home to ourselves again! I was really nervous about how it would go, but it’s been as easy as breathing. We’re renting from some friends who moved out of state and I just love our place. We’re still decorating/acquiring furniture/cleaning, but I’ll put up pictures soonish. 🙂
Today, we made it to church (late…but better late than never!) and stayed for the whole thing! Danny went to nursery without Dan staying with him and he did great! The teacher told us that he would try to comfort the other kids if they got sad – by going up and hugging them! So sweet! And if hugging didn’t work, he would cry with them. He’s never been a sympathy crier, so this surprised me a bit. I love how sweet he can be! And a relief that he did so well…he’s been showing some aggression and it’s made me nervous. I’m hoping that some more socialization will help him grow out of that before his brother gets here!
Speaking of the baby, the pregnancy is continuing nicely. I feel like he’s a bit big for where we are, time-line wise, but I have a check-up this week and we’ll see where he’s measuring at!
Dan starts his new job tomorrow, and I’m excited and very nervous. I’ve had him home to help almost every day since the beginning of the year! Holy cow! But I will adjust…we will adjust. And it’s going to be amazing! He’s going to work for the railroad as a conductor trainee! Super cool job – with super cool perks. I’m looking forward to packing the boys up and spending a day or two in Seward towards the end of the summer.
It’s a gorgeous, sunny day here today. So I’m off to enjoy the rest of it!