Friday, March 27, 2015

Dream a Little Dream of Me

My friend Harmony and I were main characters on one of those crime-solving TV shows.  She was the meticulous one who had perfect hair and clothes with lots of clean lines.  I was the loose cannon who dressed kind of like a homeless person. 

Harmony looked a little like Veronica from Better Off Ted, only not so harsh.

And here's me.

We walked down the hallway of a luxurious mall (which is apparently where the TV show was shot) and rehearsed our lines. Harmony delivered hers flawlessly.  I had completely forgotten mine so I made up something ridiculous that made us laugh.  Harmony then said my lines to me, so I complained dramatically at having such a perfect costar who made me look bad by knowing my lines better than I did.  I repeated her lines and exclaimed, "See! If you can play me, I can play you. Let's switch clothes!"  So we did.  Only when we were done she still looked like she just stepped out of a photo shoot and I still looked like I rolled down a hill in baggy pajamas.
I got over that indignity by jumping on my childhood trampoline.  I broke my glasses.  Then I returned to set where I untangled the harnesses of the pony and two sheep that were hitched to Dame Judi Dench's adorably rustic Easter wagon. My other co-star David Boreanaz showed up and told me (in character) that he didn't have feelings for me. I wasn't too worried, I knew my character got the guy in the end. I finally made it back to where the show was rehearsing to find out I wasn't in the episode. I asked for a cigarette so I could sulk properly.  Harmony handed me a pack and I took one out and pretended to smoke.  It immediately came unrolled.  She offered to fix it for me, but I insisted I could do it.  I tried to shove the dried mixture of tobacco, lavender flowers, and was that dried bacon? back into the paper and close it, but failed miserably.
Which is when I awoke to the sound of Hamish banging on my door yelling, "Mom, Mom! Iron Man!"  And here we are.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Birth Story

When I was pregnant with Hamish I read the books Spiritual Midwifery and Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, both by Ina May Gaskin.  They painted such a beautiful picture of natural home birth that I became more and more convinced that I wanted to give it a try.  I decided to have a natural birth with my current pregnancy and if it was a good experience I'd try for a home birth the next time. Well, that didn't happen.  I wussed out and got an epidural when Hamish was born.  But it worked out in the end, so I don't regret it.
Pregnancy number four made it's appearance right as we were preparing to move.  Between moving
 to a different state, buying a house, selling our rental property in Utah, and you know, life, I didn't give much thought to how I wanted to give birth.  Around Thanksgiving (month 7 of the pregnancy) I started thinking about it again.  I reread my pregnancy books and was converted all over again to the idea of a home birth.  I asked around and found out there was ONE midwife in our area that did home births.  I emailed her and she said she was available.  It took some time, but eventually Whig got on board with the idea, so I set up the initial consult and got the money together to pay for it (our insurance wouldn't cover the midwife).  Two days before the consult the midwife told me she wouldn't be available to attend the birth after all. I was devastated.
Gradually I resigned myself to a hospital birth, though this time I was determined to go natural.  I had many different strategies thought up to deal with the pain.  When the contractions were still not too painful I'd have Whig read to me, or play music or an audiobook on my Ipod.  I would walk the halls of the hospital, take a long hot shower, sit on a birthing ball, try getting in different positions, but most definitely NOT lay down in the bed, because I HATE feeling trapped there.  I need to move around to effectively deal with the pain.  I practiced relaxation techniques and rehearsed calming and empowering mantras. I reminded myself that Hamish's birth was nothing like I pictured, and this one probably wouldn't be either, but I still held that picture in my mind as a guide.
 About this same time I started the ball rolling to have Gigi tested for sleep apnea.  It was a much more involved task than I anticipated.  First I took her to her pediatrician and talked about our suspicions.  The doctor then referred Gigi to a sleep lab where she would stay overnight for testing.  Then I experienced the joy of nearly 3 months of phone tag, miscommunication, and incompetence as I tried to sort out tangles between the doctor's office, the sleep lab, and the insurance company.  Our initial appointment eventually had to be rescheduled, and the new date was two weeks before the baby was due.  I doubted it would be a problem, and set the date.
Time grew closer. Those fun third trimester aches and pains started. I got bigger and bigger until at 30 weeks I looked and felt like I was full term.  I did all those things you do before your due date.  I made arrangements for the kids in case I went into labor at night (which I had always done before).  I bought frozen meals and easy-to-prepare foods.  I bugged Whig about getting the baby clothes out of storage so I could wash them.
Friday, February 6th rolled around.  It was the day of Gigi's sleep study.  I began to be nervous that I'd go into labor while she and Whig were at the hospital. They were due at the sleep lab at 9 pm Friday night, they'd sleep there, and be done at 6 am.  From our house the sleep study hospital was 15 minutes west and the delivery hospital was 30 minutes east.  Also, I wouldn't have a car.  So, yes.  It was on my mind a bit.  I posted my worries on facebook that morning, hoping that I would be sort of anti-jinxing myself.  It didn't work.
I laid down with Hamish for a nap around noon a woke up to a text from Whig asking if I wanted to attend a going away dinner at 5.  I declined and tried to go back to sleep.  I noticed an unusual pain shooting down the outside of my legs. I googled it and found out that during the third trimester the baby's weight can compress nerves in your legs, causing cramps.  Yet another pregnancy pain to add to my growing list.
I laid back down for a bit, then got up and did some laundry.  I noticed the pain had moved up my legs to include my backside.  I grumbled to myself but didn't think much of it.  I didn't suspect labor pains because I had never experienced anything like it with my previous pregnancies.  Maybe an hour later I realized the pain was now in my lower back.  This is weird, I thought.  I began to pay more attention.  Around 3:30 I was sure I was having contractions, but whether or not they were the real thing was still unclear.  They were very irregular and still mostly in my back, though they seemed to be moving around to the front too.  I sent Whig a text that said as much, he responded that he was already on his way home.
Whig got home a few minutes later and we decided to see if we could find someone to take Gigi to her sleep study, just in case.  At 4:00 I texted a friend and explained the situation to her.  She agreed to take Gigi and stay with her overnight at the sleep lab if needed.  If we ended up going to the hospital we'd drop her off on the way.  I talked to another friend who agreed to take the boys overnight.  She said she was just leaving the house, so why didn't she come by and pick them up now?  She even volunteered to take Gigi to the first friend's house while she was at it.  Everything was falling into place perfectly, which was fortuitous, because that's when I started falling apart.

Immediately after arranging childcare I jumped into the shower.  The hot water helped me relax into the increasingly painful contractions.  They were getting stronger and closer together.  When I got out of the shower I told Whig we needed to go to the hospital immediately.  I threw on an undershirt and bra, and a pair of Whig's sleeping pants to tide me over until my jeans were done in the dryer.  I walked over to the sink to brush my teeth when my water broke.  I said, "Oh!" and jumped into to the tub.  Hamish came in and said, "Wa'r?"  I told him I didn't need the water turned on, thank you.  "Bubble?"  No, no bubbles either.  He saw me have another contraction and said, "S'rry Mama.  Mama, s'rry." and patted my leg.  I got back into the shower and rinsed my legs off. I went into my room and tried to get dressed, but couldn't seem to manage between contractions.  Whig came in from getting the kids ready to go and asked if we were going to make it to the hospital.  I told him I didn't think so.  He called 911.
From my bedroom I heard my friend arrive and start gathering up the kids.  I tried to move around, walk through the pain, but it was getting to the point where I couldn't do anything.  I could barely move it hurt so bad.  The fire department arrived.  I frantically threw a pajama shirt on before they walked in.  One asked me to lay on the bed so he could see if the baby was crowning.  Whig put a towel down and I laid on it.  No crowning yet.  I had the overwhelming urge to push.  The EMTs showed up.  (My friend told me later she was pulling out with the kids just as they pulled in.)  They came in and checked me.  The baby was crowning.
I was having my baby right there.

With four strange men in my bedroom.

I didn't care one bit.

When I imagined this birth, I thought I would have hours to prepare for the really bad pain.  My previous pregnancies always started with a long build up of contractions that slowly, gradually became more painful.  I was counting on that slow increase to help me get into the right mindset for the really painful contractions down the line.  Instead, my contractions seemed to go from 0-60 in 4.5 seconds.  Well, not 4.5 seconds, but in less than an hour.  Which is a very short amount of time when you're in labor.  In other words, I was not prepared for the pain.

When the firefighter first asked me to lay back so he could check me, I did not intend to stay there.  I was fully prepared to get right back up and walk, or get on hands and knees, or squat, or get in ANY position other than on my back.  Only I couldn't.  I physically could not move from that spot.  Even rolling over on my side caused such unbearable pain that I had to give up trying.  I was stuck there, on my bed, in the one position I hated most.  My mind kept screaming, "Get up! Get up! At least sit up some so you're not flat on your back.  This is the worst position possible! Move, darn it!  Tell that guy right there to help you up!" but I couldn't even speak the words.  My mouth was too busy yelling, "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!  IT HURTS!  MAKE IT STOP! OW OW OW OW OW OW OW" for me to relay any instructions to the men around me.  Yes, as lovely and peaceful as I imagined my natural birth to be, it was not so. Not even a little bit.  I yelled.  I screamed.  I sobbed. I felt like I was in a cyclone, thrown to and fro by gale-force winds of pain. I had no control over anything.
I pushed.  I was amazed at how physical the urge was to push.  I had to push.  I needed to push.  I didn't have much control over that either.
The senior EMT began relaying instructions to the others in the room.  (This was the fifth birth he had assisted during his career.)  Someone grabbed the labor and delivery bag from the ambulance.  They spread some kind of covering down on the floor and bed.  They got out equipment, and did other things too, but I don't recall exactly what.  It's all kind of a blur. The junior EMT held my left hand, Whig held my right.  The fire fighters stood against the wall, waiting for instructions from the senior EMT.  (I found out later that this was the first shift the two EMTs had ever worked together.  At the start of the shift the junior EMT told his new partner that he would do anything but deliver babies.  He didn't have kids, wasn't married, and didn't plan on being so for a while.  He wanted his first experience with a birth to be with his future wife and child.  During the delivery he stayed right by my head the entire time, so he wouldn't see anything.)
I pushed, but it was slow going.  I wasn't making much progress.  The senior EMT tried to give me encouragement along the way.  I would yell, "I CAN'T DO IT!" and he would say, "You can do it." or "You have to do this." or my personal favorite, "There's no turning back now."  It actually was rather helpful, because I realized there was no use fighting it.  I might as well get it over with.
Whig was much better.  He prayed for me, he cheered me on, he let me know he was there for me.  At one point I declared, "I don't want to do this anymore!" to which he replied, "I didn't want you to do it in the first place!" in the exact right tone of voice to make me laugh.  It was tremendously helpful, to laugh. He held my hand and kissed my forehead.  I could tell he was scared spitless, but he was trying his darnedest not to show it. He made me want to be brave because he was being brave.
I was afraid to push too hard, afraid I would tear.  I could feel myself growing tired.  But I needed finish this.  I needed to have this baby.  I gathered up my courage and pushed again, as hard as I could.  And again.  So close.  And again.  I felt his head pop out.  If you've never felt a baby's head pop out of you, let me tell you, it's a singular experience.  I pushed one more time and his body slid out. Baby Angus was born.  It was 5:33 pm.
They laid him on my chest.  I laughed and cried and said, "Hey baby!"  He was rather slimy, covered in white vernix, but was still the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.  I tried to hold him, but I was too shakey.  I felt weak and in shock.  I asked Whig to take him.  I laid back and said, "Well that sucked."  My helpers laughed.  I tried to catch my breath and reorient myself.  I delivered the placenta, which was about one million times easier than delivering the baby, though it too was an extremely odd feeling.
The junior EMT gave me an IV. (After missing two different veins in my arm and giving me bruises I finally told him to put the line in the back of my hand.  I don't blame him, I've always had jumpy veins in my arms.)  The EMT who delivered the baby clamped and cut the umbilical cord.  Then he wiped baby Angus down and wrapped him in a foil emergency blanket thing and a regular blanket to keep him warm.  He told his partner that Angus had an Apgar score of 10.  The firefighters packed up equipment and threw away trash.  At one point during the clean up the senior EMT said, "My name's John, by the way. Nice to meet you."  We shook hands.
The junior EMT helped me wrap up in a blanket and they walked me out to the stretcher.  John took Angus to the ambulance where it was warm.  Whig followed.
 I was strapped down to the stretcher and placed in the back of the ambulance, where I got to hold my baby.  It was heavenly.  I felt such euphoria. I'm sure some of it was post-delivery hormones coupled with the sheer relief of not being in pain anymore.  Most of it though, was the joy of having my baby with me.  Of seeing his face, feeling his warm body in my arms.  It's a feeling I can't adequately describe. I kept saying, "I can't believe he's really here!"
The ambulance sped toward the hospital, sirens blaring.  Whig sat in the front with the driver, John was in back with me, periodically checking to make sure the baby was still healthy. I remember holding Angus and looking out the back window of the ambulance.  We were headed east, and behind us was one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen.  The sky was bathed in a brilliant orange and pink glow.  It felt like the very heavens were reflecting the joy I felt.  It was perfect.

To be continued...hopefully.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Reading Challenge Update - January

I finished six books from my 2015 Reading Challenge list and I must say I am seriously loving this challenge. 
My first book, Anne of the Island, by L.M. Montgomery, I chose because I had read the first two books in the series and was still in an Anne kind of mood. Aren't these books just lovely?  I read them when I was younger, and have seen the show many times, but I was surprised by how much more I enjoyed the books as an adult.  They are so full of charm and dreams and beauty.

My second book was Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand. I was surprised by how much I loved this book.  I was expecting a good survives-against-all-odds kind of story, but it turned out to be so much more than that.  Louie Zamperini was a truly remarkable man. His strength, determination, and fortitude were unbelievable.  The fact that he survived the war is nothing short of miraculous. Hillenbrand did an excellent job of packing this book with historical information without weighing down the story.  It could easily have been dry, but she brought it to life.  
I enjoyed this book so much I considered recommending it to my kids, but decided against it because of a few not very kid-friendly scenes. I was thrilled when I found out there was a young adult version of the book.  I immediately bought the audiobook and the whole family listened to it when we were out and about in the car.  Everyone loved it.  Many times during the book one or another of us would say, "Whoa" or "No way".  I remember one time in particular, we were just pulling up to a store when we reached an especially powerful part of the book.  My husband turned off the car and my daughter said, "I feel like might start crying!" My son responded, "Start crying? I did a little bit!" Whig and I admitted to getting teary-eyed ourselves.  It was a beautiful moment.

Unbroken left me on a WWII kick, so I picked The Hiding Place, by Corrie ten Boom.  Oh my goodness, what a book!  This one is my favorite of the ones I read this month, and that's saying something.  TJed really encourages you to highlight and make notes in the book you're reading, and I have a hard time of it, because I get so engrossed that I forget to write in it. But I marked the heck out of this one.  Not because I wasn't engrossed, but because there was so much to write!  This book is rich with history, but more importantly, it's full to the brim with examples of true Christlike love. I marveled at the wisdom of Corrie's father, the goodness of Betsie, the complete honesty of Nollie, the foresight and charity of Willem. Apart from Corrie's father, I think Corrie herself was my favorite person in the book because she was so human and accessible.  She struggled with the same doubts, fears, and weaknesses as the rest of us.  She wasn't perfect, and struggled to understand and emulate the goodness that she saw in members of her family.   Her insights inspired me.  Her growth helped me grow.  Her love for others, even her enemies, softened my own heart.  This is such a beautiful, life-changing book. I highly recommend it to everyone.  And take my advice, highlight and take notes in your book.  It really enriches your reading experience.

Somewhere in the middle of reading all these books I listened to Monster Hunter International, by Larry Correia.  I like listening to audiobooks when I'm making dinner or doing chores.  It makes the work less tedious.  My husband had listened to this one previously and recommended it, so I gave it a go.  This is a fun book.  It's not a classic by any means, but it is full of monsters, heavy-duty weaponry, libertarianism, and punching, so I enjoyed it. There is some language and loads of violence, so be warned.  Otherwise it was a nice break from my more ponder-worthy reads. 

I figured I'd finish up the WWII books on my list by reading Diary of Ann Frank. (The version I read is the complete one, which is about twice as long as the edited version I had read in High School.)  It's such a different experience reading this as a mother than as a teenager. I often found myself thinking, "Wow, she is such a teenager." or "Yep, I used to do that same thing when I was her age."  I think I'll read it again when Gigi gets into her teen years, just to remind myself how moody, confused, and conflicted teenagers can be, even (or maybe especially) in their own minds.  I didn't start marking this book up until the last half, when she's been in hiding about a year.  Before that it's mostly teenage angst and complaining.  But something changes, I'm not sure what, where she started becoming more self-aware, more mature, more desirous to improve herself. 

My final book this month was  The Great Brain, by John D. Fitzgerald.  I have mixed feelings about this book.  One one hand, there are some stinking funny parts.  I shared the chapter where J.D. tries to get the mumps with my kids and they thought it was hilarious.  There are also great lessons about kindness and looking out for others.  And I must admit, Tom is pretty ingenious.  On the other hand,  Tom is SO greedy and proud! It was driving me nuts, especially the way he manipulates J.D.  I was all set to seriously dislike this one, but the very end turned it around for me.  I love how much he helps his friend and that he doesn't (for once!) accept payment for it.  I gives me hope for book two, which I think I'll read next even though it's not on my list.  It's a quick read after all.

I'm excited at how many books I got through this month. Reading that many excellent books in such a short amount of time was a great experience.  I'm starting to get how life-changing reading the classics (and lots of them!) can be.  Here's hoping I'll be able to keep the momentum going after the baby's born!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Gigi's 2015 Reading Challenge

 Gigi was excited watching me create my 2015 Reading Challenge list so I recommended she create one of her own.  She decided 52 books was a little too ambitious for a 10 year old, so she settled on a 27 book list instead. Here is the list she came up with (I corrected some of the spelling and added links, and the italicized parts are my remarks, but the rest is how she wrote it. ):

  1. A book in a series by an author you love-Guardians of Ga’hoole the capture (by Kathryn Lasky)
  2. a book your mom loves-Anne of Green Gables  (by L.M. Montgomery)
  3. a book your friend loves-a living nightmare (by Darren Shan)
  4. a book you can read in a day-harry the homeless puppy (by HollyWebb)
  5. a book in a series you have not finished-Harry Potter 3 (do I even need to say who the author is?)
  6. a book about wars-Guardians of Ga’hoole the journey (by Kathryn Lasky)
  7. a book about animals-puppy place moose (by Eileen Miles)
  8. a book that scares you-the color out of space (The H.P. Lovecraft short story.  Very creepy.)
  9. a book in a series- the Rescue (by Kathryn Lasky)
  10. a book that teaches you something-Girls Guide to horses
  11. a book about something new-physic (She asked me what other categories to put on her list and I recommended a book on a subject she had never studied before.  We went through a few subjects and she picked physics.  If you know any excellent physics books for 10 year olds I would love to hear them!)
  12. a book just for fun-bone Rock jaw (by Jeff Smith)
  13. a book you have  heard but not read- magyk (by Angie Sage)
  14. a book on someone who inspires you-Rosa parks (Again, book recommendations on this topic would be much appreciated)
  15. a book on the past-middle ages (I can't find the link for this one)
  16. a book by an author your dad loves-winter smith-Terry Pratchett
  17. a book your brother/sister picks-red scarf girl (by Ji-li Jang)
  18. a book on cooking- nom nom paleo (by Michelle Tam)
  19. a classic- P&P (Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen)
  20. go to your book shelf close your eyes and point and pick the book your pointing to- Alyth (by Jared Southwick)
  21. a book older than you-Matilda (by Roald Dahl)
  22. a book from a different country-hiding place (by Corrie ten Boom)
  23. a book on personality-mom’s book (She's referring to The Child Whisperer by Carol Tuttle, but when I pointed out it's a parenting book, she decided to go for another of Tuttle's books on personality types.  Maybe Remembering Wholeness?  I don't know yet.)
  24. a book on art- terry Pratchett Disc world art (by Terry Pratchett and Paul Kidby)
  25. a book grandma loves-Hondo (by Louis L'Amour)
  26. a book on a celebrity-mathematicians are people too (and by celebrity she means a famous person in the past or present, not a movie star or whatever)
  27. a book on a mad man in a big blue box-any doctor who book 
Gigi has already finished three of the books, and is almost finished with the fourth.  I think it's likely she'll finish her challenge before I finish mine.

Sunday Morning

I woke up for the third time last night to discover it was morning.  6:45, fifteen minutes before I would have to get up anyway.  No point in trying to fall back asleep.  I rolled over (a multi-step process for my overly pregnant body) and tried to scoot Hamish over without waking him.  I vaguely remembered bringing him in to our room last night after hearing him cry.  I  really must stop doing that.  I did what I do every morning that I have a few minutes of quiet.  I grabbed my phone and read through a few of my favorite sites.  Nothing too heavy at that hour.  I didn't want to fall back asleep.  7:08.  I should get up...just five more minutes.
7:19.  Fine, I'll get up.
I marvel that Whig's still asleep. He is usually up at 5, even on the weekends.  Not by choice, it's just programed into his body.  I enjoy the silence as I heat up leftover pancakes.  Ugh.  I should not eat these.  They are going to make me feel tired at church.  I should have made sausage and eggs.  No time now.  I wake Dale, Gigi, and Whig, then eat breakfast as I read over my Primary lesson.  I give Gigi my last pancake.  Dale can't find his church pants.  I dig through the laundry, he digs through his closet.  I find them in the dryer.  Who would have thought?  Hamish wakes just as I go in to get ready for church.  Gigi's already dressed, so I ask her to make breakfast for him. 
I grumble over my lack of maternity church clothes.  I remind myself that I'll only have to worry about that for 6(ish) more weeks.  Then I can worry about how none of my regular clothes or maternity clothes fit right.  Ahhhh, postpartum awkwardness.  I put on my least favorite maternity dress.
Wash face, brush teeth, apply lotion, deodorant, perfume, make-up, the whole shebang.  Hamish tries to put make-up on too.  I give him a decorative thing with rocks and glass votive holders to keep him busy.  He sits on the floor and puts rocks in and takes rocks out and stacks votive thingies and is happy.
Diaper change, little toddler church clothes. Check diaper bag and primary bag.
 Oh crap, how is it 8:50 already?!
Time to go! Time to go!
Driving to church we listen to the young adult version of Unbroken.  It's not super churchy, but I am so excited that the family is enjoying it that I don't care. The kids laugh at Louie's antics and are amazed by his speed.  Whig is transported to the theater with Louie, hearing about Pearl Harbor and America at war.
Church.  We make it for the sacrament hymn.  I am relieved.  I hate missing the sacrament.  Dale and Gigi draw.  Hamish wants to draw too.  Ten minutes before the meeting ends that Hamish decides done sitting.  I walk the halls with him.  He insists on turning off every hall light he sees.  Why oh why did they make the switches so low? I am able to sneakily turn them back on if we're already down the hall and he has had a chance to turn off the lights ahead of us. He catches on to what I'm doing after a minute and tries to chase me away from the switches.  I herd him into the empty RS room.  He is resentful but obedient when I tell him no piano playing.  He draws on the chalkboard, then erases, then draws. After a few minutes I erase his masterpieces and we make it back to the chapel just after sacrament meeting ends.
I lose him in the crowd for a minute when someone asks me about cleaning the church on Saturday.  I find him in Whig's arms, thank goodness.  I head to primary, where I find my classroom full.  9 kids.  I only made enough handouts for 5.  Hmmm...  The kids are especially wiggly and chatty, so we don't get to the handouts in any case.  I wonder if it's because there are twice as many as usual. Maybe it's something in the air.

I don't know why I wrote this.  Last Sunday I just had the urge to write out my day.  Nothing interesting happened, it wasn't blog-worthy at all, but I had the hankering, so I wrote.  Unfortunately I conked out before I could finish and now I seem to have lost steam on this post.  I know if I don't publish this now I'll never finish it and never publish it.  So up it goes.