Thursday, April 12th, 2012
My midwives are coming over today, to our house, for our big pre-birth home/prenatal visit. This is the visit where they peruse the house and our supplies and make sure we are all ready to go for labor and delivery. I cannot believe that this day is actually here! The impending home birth of our babe is becoming so real. Wow!
Craig and I have been slightly scrambling over the last few weeks to gather all of the supplies and materials we will need to have on hand for our homebirth. These include an inflatable birthing tub, tarp for under said tub, new lead-free, eco-friendly hose to fill the tub, adapter for connecting the hose to the faucet, and air pump. There’s also PVC-free shower curtains for the bed and floors to protect them, food and drink that I will want in labor, a glass or metal bowl for the placenta, flashlight, hand mirror, garbage bags, heating pad, and various sterilization packs I have created of towels, washcloths, and baby clothes… and the list goes on.
Preparing for our homebirth has been such an extraordinary experience. The “work”—both physical and mental is gratifying because I am very much forced to visualize what type of birth I desire. I am claiming my territory and surrounding myself with the energy and supplies I need at home to settle in and focus on the work ahead. And at this stage in my pregnancy, it’s a bit exhausting physically running errands and gathering items on our lists—but so totally worth it.
I spend my days thinking through relaxation techniques, pain management, what rooms I may want to be in while laboring, what I will wear, who will be with me, etc. And I understand that any and all of this is subject to change once I am in the actual moment. I am okay with that. I have such an extraordinary amount of faith in the capacity of my body to show me the way—no matter what happens. My whole pregnancy has really opened my eyes to this unwavering faith and trust in my body, and it has been such a delightful discovery.
And I think all this reading and gathering and visualization is very powerful preparation. Craig and I have been reading voraciously at night—tackling the Bradley method, Hypnobirthing, Birthing from Within, pioneering midwife Ina May Gaskin’s collections of positive birthing stories in her Guide to Childbirth and Spiritual Midwifery, and the list goes on. We’ve rented documentaries and watched online videos of homebirths, water births, and midwives explaining the mechanics of the stages of labor. We’ve been learning about labor positions, labor activities, visualization exercises, and more.
Dare I say I am actually pretty darn excited about the whole event. Don’t get me wrong… I hold no illusions that it won’t be hard work. I recognize that I may indeed doubt my abilities in the thick of it. I understand that circumstances may develop that are beyond my control. But I am confident in my body, Craig’s coaching, and my midwives to champion and support me at each stage.
Soon theory and practice will collide when I go into labor. And with labor will come a wonderful unfolding of self-discovery and growth. It will be here soon enough. I feel a primal sense of embodiment and wisdom burbling deep within my core.
When my body is ready, it will let me know. And until then, I plan to nest away and savor these last days of just me.
Sunday, June 27th, 2010
From relishing not being pregnant yet to spending the weekend babysitting our 9-month old nephew—what a delightful contrast the last few days have been for me and Craig. I can’t think of a better way for us to make peace with our poor struggling minds. And by that I mean taking care of my nephew gave us a lot of reassurance that we are far more ready mentally than we give ourselves credit for.
Craig and I had so much fun taking him starting Saturday morning. We had him overnight Saturday and my older sister came to pick him up around 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. So he was a pretty big part of our weekend. And he was like pure therapeutic joy for us.
I think that somewhere in us being so overwhelmed with the thought of being pregnant and WHAT ARE WE DOING and that panic of NOT READY! NOT READY, we forgot that having a kid is fun. We forgot that you figure things out as you go along, on the fly, through trial and error. Having a kid makes you an instant team. You get to belly laugh when he’s making lip-smacking noises while negotiating sticky, slimy banana pieces for breakfast.
You also learn that cutting up the banana pieces too small makes for an instant mess as a 9-month old can’t pick up the pieces fast enough to get them into his mouth.
Having some down time with a 9-month old is snuggly.
It is exciting watching my nephew discover every mirror in the house and want to kiss the baby he sees. It’s gratifying when he takes a bottle like a champ, squeals when you kiss his belly while changing his diaper, goes down for a nap like clockwork, and lights up with a smile when you come into the room to get him up from his crib.
I had never had that post-nap intimacy with a baby before. Last time we babysat him, he came out of his naps still pretty cranky, and not sure if he wanted to see me. But this time was just awesome. He got so excited when I came into the room, smacking his hands together and cooing and banging his feet up and down on the crib bed. His eyes were wide and bright with a smile that tugged at all those parts of me that need to be nurtured and reminded that I can do this!
And then when you ask him if he’s ready to get up and he reaches his arms out so you can pick him up… ah… what an indescribable feeling. I needed that this weekend.
I needed to spend this time with both my nephew and with Craig. I needed to be forced to slow down. When you are with a baby, you become very aware of time, chunks of time, being productive in little snippets of time. And as a result, you really live in the moment. The present becomes extraordinary. Instead of feeling like my weekend was gobbled up because I was “on duty”, I really feel like I got to relax and just BE this weekend.
Craig and I laughed a ton. We were silly. We swayed back and forth to the music of The Rainbow Connection during play time. We took the stroller out and were reminded how much we love our neighborhood. We napped when the baby was napping. We still got laundry done and dishes washed. We even got to visit with Craig’s parents. Life didn’t end.
We really lucked out. My older sister kept thanking us for babysitting. But I should be the one thanking her.
Coming off a stressful wondering sort of week and wrestling with so many life questions, we were reminded this weekend that we have a lot to look forward to. And it is perfectly okay to slow it down and get to where we want to go at our own pace.
Thursday, June 24th, 2010
It’s been a week. A long one. But a good one. And I am feeling tired and grateful.
Let’s talk garden and life, shall we?
So I tried planting a bunch of flowers from seed this year behind my lettuces. And well, it isn’t working out so much.
Yeah, so I planted all these flower seeds in an attempt to grow sunflowers, zinnias, asters, and more. But all I’m seeing grow is weeds. And interspersed in all these weeds are gigantic chipmunk holes. And then earlier this week I saw this crazy clump of weeds? growing in my back raised garden bed. And what do you know… I could see the remnants of sunflower seed shells in the soil and on the ends of the leaves. And then the very next day, something had come along and chomped off all the leaves.
Seriously? Yeah. I’m not pleased. Next year I think I will just buy annual flower starts. All I wanted was a flower cutting garden! Instead I’ve got weeds and ridiculously happy chipmunks.
In the midst of all of this, Craig and I were very much in the middle of wondering if we could maybe be expecting. Because my cycle was really off this month. No fun. And that was all it took to throw us into a little bit of disarray. The odds of us actually being pregnant were not very high, but when things don’t go quite like clockwork, your mind starts to blow things out of proportion and wreak havoc on your body.
And it’s not like we haven’t been so seriously contemplating parenthood over these last several weeks, right? I think the stress and wonder of it all threw my body off even more. But we are not expecting. And dare I say we are relieved. Is that wrong?
We are just not quite ready yet. Even if we are READY. But being ready theoretically and being ready ACTUALLY have proven to be quite a juxtaposition for us. Even if it were to be. We would embrace the possibility full-on. But we didn’t want to be there yet. We have learned a lot about ourselves this week. I got to confront my anxieties head on, and it wasn’t pretty. I realized how incredible and scary it is to not know what your own body is up to. Imagine the first 14 weeks! Yikes.
I also realized that mental preparation for a child is so critical. The whole visualization thing. The whole whatever happens I will be okay thing. The whole I can do this! thing. And that maybe it’s not in my best mental-health interests to leave things to chance until I am 100% prepared to accept the outcome, whatever it may be. I mean, we’ve come this far and obviously “planned” as best as we can. So if we are going to go at it, then we have to reallllly go at it. Like with purpose. And be committed to not just the, um, act(s), but the aftermath. Because getting pregnant and having a child is a game-changer. No doubt.
I learned that my mental self is still working stuff out. And my physical self wants at least a few more months of running, putting nourishing whole foods into my body, and seeking a normal sleep routine. I will get there. I will. I feel strangely blessed that I am in tune with my shortcomings and anxieties. Even if they irk me. And that now I have some time to work through them. I think Craig feels the same way. I think he was pretty okay with learning that we aren’t in it to win it just yet.
Our minds can conjure up a million different what-ifs though. Man. I am very happy to say that I am taking a break from myself right now. I need it. Must dissociate. Phew.
On a lighter note, I find myself being way more mindful in a positive way. I have been intensely taking in the little things. Especially the weather. The warm breezes. The presence of summer. The taste of organic strawberries on my tongue. The comforting coo noises my niece made tonight when I held her after work. The rhythm of simple chores like loading and unloading the dishwasher. The amazing feeling of fresh, clean towels. The softness of a pillow when I lie my head upon it. The smell of freshly brewed coffee in the morning.
I feel alert and alive. And I need this.
I got home tonight around 7:30 after visiting my sister and my twin nieces after work. I was excited that I got to see them. And I was psyched to roam the yard afterward. Craig wasn’t at home because he’d gone for an after-work bike ride. So I savored my alone time, pausing to watch the sun sink lower in the sky as crazy cumulous cloud formations hovered overhead. It never ended up thundering or raining, but I was content to walk through the yard and then hang out on the screened porch.
It has been—and still is—my intention to take in this summer to its fullest. Because summer is here, it is always short, and I am up for the task. I suppose my mind and body are along for the ride.
Sunday, June 13th, 2010
It was a wet June weekend. It rained on and off all day Saturday and Sunday. It was the perfect weekend for sleeping in. And I did it pretty darn well.
I didn’t actually get out of bed until around 3:00 p.m. on Saturday. Granted I woke up prior to that, but I read for a bit and then fell back asleep multiple times. I’m not ashamed to bask in my laziness or indulgence in the good life. After all, I’m in the serious phase of contemplating life with kids. You certainly cannot spend your Saturday in bed til 3:00 with kids. So I will do it now, and I will do it well.
Once I finally managed to rouse myself from my sedentary, dreamy state, I lounged on the couch with Craig watching USA vs. England in World Cup Soccer. I don’t know if it was the game or what, but I finally decided to get active, be proactive, and go running. I did it! I managed to go out for a run in the rain! And I ran my “usual” 5-mile loop that I haven’t tackled in over 6 weeks. I ran slowly and steadily, taking in the steady drizzle and noticing all the smells of summer plants and rain-soaked earth. It was a very satisfying run. Definitely not my fastest. But really, what could I expect after such a long hiatus?
We spent Saturday night chillin’ on the couch watching random TV. I was nestled with my book, and I was so content to just hang out. Craig went to bed and I stayed up reading. And reading. And reading. I became suddenly aware that it was getting light out, and checked the clock to find out it was nearly 5:00 a.m. I stayed up all night reading. Am I in soon-to-be-pregnant denial or what? It was so wonderful to be so enthralled in my book. It was such a summer feeling to get caught up in the moment.
Next thing I know, I was wandering around outside taking in the change in light from night to morning. It was really foggy out, but the birds were chorusing loudly in the neighborhood. Dew was everywhere but the rain had let up. It was really magical out. And I was the crazy lady roaming my yard at dawn. I still didn’t want to go to bed, but I knew I’d be miserable later on if I didn’t crawl upstairs and shut my mind down.
I love weekends like this. They are at a premium, and I am so keenly aware of how they are becoming extinct. I am so happy to be this ridiculously indulgent—to lounge around and stay up all night reading.
When I woke up again it was nearly noon, and Craig and I got ready to head out to Hollis, NH, to meet up with my sister, her husband, their kids, his parents, and my parents to watch my almost 5-year old nephew’s final soccer game of the season. It was drizzly out again. But it was a lot of fun to hang out with our nephews.
After soccer, we trudged into the gray day to head off to Lull Farm, the local farm stand and nursery center in Hollis.
And I seriously couldn’t contain myself when I realized they had garlic scapes for sale! I was hoping. I am only growing 4 garlic bulbs this year. And I gave one scape away to my mom. Which means I don’t have enough garlic scapes. Can you ever have enough garlic scapes? And here they were selling scapes by the bag! For $2.99/pound! Do they even KNOW the street value of these scapes? Come on! They were a steal!
We bought 2 bags for us and a bag for Craig’s mom. Then we went over his parent’s house to have an early dinner and see pics from their amazing trip out west to Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper, La Push, and a million other amazing places in Alberta and Washington. It was great to hang out with them and get caught up since they’d been gone for over 3 weeks.
Not a bad Sunday at all.
When I got home, I of course went out to have a look in our rain-soaked gardens. Even without the sun, there’s plenty going on.
I spent a long while getting the lettuces washed and dried and bagged so that they are ready to go in the fridge.
This weekend was so relaxing. And despite my incredible capacity to loaf, I did get quite a bit done. I cleaned the house, did 2 loads of laundry, washed dishes, paid the bills, read a bunch, saw my family and craig’s, went to a farm stand, and got lettuces ready to go for this week’s dinners. Works for me.
Thursday, June 10th, 2010
Yeah, that’s right. I bought this at my local used bookstore this week. And no, no, I’m not pregnant. I’m still not sure yet on a day-to-day basis about being ready for kids. I’m a wishy-washy mess. This purchase was all about preparation. Research. Sheer curiosity.
I paid $3.95 for the used book. Totally worth the money.
I do need to mention the fact that, as of late, I’ve taken a sad-yet-solid 6-week hiatus from running. Well, shoot. I’ve got to call myself out.
I have no good excuse to not run besides stress, tiredness, work, life getting in the way, work, tiredness, stress… you know… the same old, same old. Coming home from work and gardening stead of running. Coming home from work and going online. Coming home from work and crawling into bed instead of running.
I’ve been running regularly for 8 years, so I suppose I am allowed a break now and then. In fact, dare I say that my breaks have been great for me over the years, both mentally and physically. Running requires a certain mindset and physical will, and sometimes your body gets tired of it and you need a break in order to remember why you run and persevere.
Each time I take a break, I am so clearly reminded of the amazing benefits running gives my body, but waaaay more to my mind. Running keeps me balanced. Running gives me time to think and process. Running helps me to set new goals. It may take me 5 miles into it to realize all of this, but running is one of the very best things that has ever happened to me.
If you run regularly, you get it. And if you don’t run regularly, you can easily get it. All it takes is the courage to say: f* it. I’m going to start!
And you do.
You may run 10 steps the first time. Or the tenth time. You may run 3 miles the first day. Or 5. And then you may never be able to repeat it again for a month. THAT is running.
There is no constant in performance. There is only a constant in effort. You can easily push yourself to achieve a better time or a longer distance. But sometimes you just SUCK. You can go out there almost every day and run, or you can slack off and let your body go limp. Like me. No shame. It happens. If you run long enough you learn that you go through peaks and valleys in running and fitness.
So… I’ve been a little dormant lately.
But I know me. And I will crank it up. My body is ready, and I can tell because it is craving routine and running. I mean, hello! I went out and bought a RUNNING & PREGNANCY BOOK! On my WORK LUNCH BREAK. Man, my body wants me to be good!!!
I could have been wandering around Target! or Marshalls! They are right close to my work and full of amazing treasures. But no… I was in the used bookstore instead. Like a ridiculous Earth magnet was pulling me there for no obvious reason. I couldn’t stop myself and suddenly I was browsing the bookstore’s makeshift “pregnacy and child-rearing shelf”. Oye.
So this book says I can run while pregnant for as long as I feel comfortable! Clearly it’s time to get back in the saddle. It starts NOW. All part of the preparation. All part of the establishing and keeping good habits.
And, well, when it comes down to it… how else am I going to stay sane??? Run, baby, run.