Saturday, March 31, 2012

My Face

Lately I keep finding myself surprised by my life.  And really, it is all my face's fault. (I want that to read: the fault belongs to my face, but for some reason I feel like that is not the way it came across. Punctuation error?)

The girls and I go about our day, drifting in and out of rooms, playing, tidying, quarreling, scolding, teaching, singing, jumping, dancing, sleeping.  And each of us get our turn at each of these activities.  Sometimes, be it coincidence, or fate I will be walking past a reflective image just as the girls shout out some cliche like, "Mom, I need you!"  or as I am shouting out some cliche like, "Stop hitting your sister!"

As these words are said, by them,  by me, my ears hear them or the mouth says them at the same time that my eyes see my face in that reflective surface, and for that first instant of recognition I am stuck in a paradox.  My eyes know that they are seeing me, but the information being received by my ears seem in direct conflict with that knowledge.

How can that face be a mother?  It can't be possible for that face, the one that belongs to a soul who still so desperately needs her own mother to be a mother.  It can't be possible for the girl inside who still so vividly remembers hitting her own sister to be advising against such action to two other little girls, her own girls.

When these strange moments happen I find myself pausing, reflecting in front of that reflective surface.  I find myself wondering what my girls see when they look at my face.  I see my eyes, and my nose, my mouth and my teeth - all the same facial features that I have always had, and yet something about them is indescribably different from the face I had in high school, in college.  I examine this face, this one that seems new every time I see it.  Is it all of the areas between the facial features that has changed?  And if that is the answer, is it the skin, or the flesh beneath the skin?

Sometimes I don't even need a mirror or window to have one of these surreal moments.  Sometimes they come as I look into the faces of my daughters.  When I have scolded harshly, or abruptly, or without (to their mind) apparent reason, when I have been impatient or hasty, or said no to what they want for no other reason than "mommy's tired" - when I have acted thus I see something in their face that makes me wonder.

When I want to react selfishly, when I want to ignore their needs in favor of my wants I have to remind myself of those little faces.  And I have to remind myself that if I were to look into the mirror I would not see high school me, or college me, I would see wife and mother me - and I have to act accordingly.

I also wonder if there will come a day when my face in the mirror and the undeniable fact that I am a mother (of crazy three now) will somehow reconcile themselves.  Until then I guess I will keep being surprised by my life, by my very face.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sickness Recovery To Do List

Wake up
Take my medicine
Feed Heather
Give Hallie her medicine
Give Hallie her ointment
Eat Breakfast
Feed Heather
Give Devin his medicine
Clean House from Sickness Weekend
Feed Heather
Take Walk???
Feed Heather
Eat Lunch
Give Hallie her ointment
Give Hanna her medicine
Feed Heather
Put Hanna down for her nap
Make Hallie rest
Feed Heather
Let myself rest
Give Hallie her medicine
Feed Heather
Eat dinner
Go to bed
Feed Heather

What are your plans for tomorrow?  Just tell me this: will they be as exciting as mine?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Thoughts on a Thursday

I drink hot jello when I am sick.  I recommend the following flavors if you're interested in trying it: cherry, orange, or peach.  Hot Jello is especially delicious and potent when you have a sore throat, or are achey all over from a fever.

Strawberry Awake (Great Value, Wal-Mart brand) is my new favorite cereal.  Although, strangely enough I would like it better without the strawberries.

I'm pretty sure Hallie is a somnambulator (sleep-walker).  In the past few weeks she has gotten up in the middle of the night, and when we ask for an explanation of why she has gotten up, she has given the following responses, and said nothing else:
"I... I... I need... I just need... I need a triangle."
while sobbing uncontrollably: "Read this to me."  She was holding "To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street".
"um. um. um"

I got a hair cut that I don't know how to style - it reminds me of the time Devin and I bought a car with manual transmission that neither of us knew how to drive. That worked out ok, so I am hopeful.

Hallie has impetigo, Hanna has a nasty little cold, I have achey fever/sore throat/headache, and Devin is coming down with something, full review of symptoms to come as they develop.  Heather is the lone healthy person in the house, I guess she'll have to take care of us for a while.  Or should I put her in a bubble?

Along with my hair cut I am looking for a new makeup look, a full on makeover for me!  It's spring and I just had a baby, feels appropriate, don't you think?

The yellow winged blackbirds are back in full force in my backyard, and I love them dearly.  I am so sad that Devin hates them passionately, on account of their trying to kill him in Iowa. So, that's legitimate.

Devin has to go to Wisconsin in a few weeks, and we're going with him!  Tell me, what are the must see hot spots up in WI?

Devin and I watched a PBS special last night on Steve Jobs.  He said, and I paraphrase, "What you have to learn is to poke life and see what pops out.  Once you know that - that's the most important thing."  My question is, how exactly do you poke life?  I'm just wondering because I don't think I'd hate being a  billionaire.  I mean, changing the world.

More people have come to my blog via a google search for "Elmo Emo" than any other way.  I did that search, and I can't find my blog, how did they?  And why are people doing a google search for an Emo Elmo?

If you do a Wikipedia search for Amy Rose, and I highly suggest you do, you'll understand why it is my dream someday to dress up as a pink hedgehog for Halloween.

AND, I hope you had a good Thursday too.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring Cleaning

My mom keeps a pretty clean house.  We had chores we were assigned to do, when I was growing up.  In college my roommates and I would put on "Scrubbing Day" from Pippi Lockstocking and we'd clean the TH.  Since being married, Devin and I spend our Saturday mornings cleaning.  He does the toilets, bless that man.  But I've never, ever, ever really organized and executed a "Spring Cleaning Extravaganza".  You know, where you open all your windows and take your rugs outside and beat them on the clothesline with the stick?

Ok, I realize no one does that anymore.  But maybe it's because I have an actual house-home now, or maybe it's delayed nesting hormones, or maybe it's just that this Spring is particularly Spring-y, but something inside of me is screaming "CLEAN YOUR HOUSE! CLEAN IT DEEP!!"  And so, this is what my heart has been longing to do, and I am determined to find the time to do (most of) it.

Sweep garage. (I did this last week, but I wanted to start my list feeling good about myself, you know?)
Organize garage. (Ditto)
Clean out playhouse.
Spread fertilizer/weed killer on grass.
Fix lawnmower.
Clean drapes.
Wash windows.
Tune piano.
Vacuum all carpets.
Vacuum all heating vents.
Vacuum ceiling.
Sweep ceiling in basement.
Clean dishwasher.
Clean oven.
Clean refrigerator.
Clean behind/under refrigerator.
Clean behind/under washer/dryer.
Organize all drawers.
Organize all closets.
De-clutter and take unnecessary items to Goodwill.

Well, as this is my first Spring Cleaning Extravaganza we'll see how I do.  Do you think I'm being too ambitious? Probably.  What items have I overlooked?  How do you clean drapes? 

Here we go...

(oh, and since I know half of you only come for the pictures, I'll oblige.)

I have a baby that will drink from a bottle! Miracles really do happen.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tiny Weight

At first the crushing
          sweet release
          beautiful relief
     of the sudden emptiness
     inside left me
     laughing hysterically,
     crying because it was finally over.
They took you and
     cleaned you
     measured you
     weighed you
     poked you
and they brought you back
     to me
putting your little body on
     top of mine
and that familiar weight
     was back again.
I looked at your face
     and remembered -
     this had only just begun.
Nine months of wishing to
     have your weight off my
          ribs, my
          lungs, my
and now I lay with your
     tiny weight pressing down
so you can fill me again.
You will grow
and I will not
until someday
     suddenly soon
     achingly soon
you will be too big
     for my chest
     for my lap
and I will only feel
     your weight as
     a soft warmth
     next to me.
When that day comes
     a hole will open up
     inside me and I
     will dream of
     being filled with
     another tiny weight.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Milk's Favorite Cookie

Since we've been married, going to the grocery store on Saturdays is one of our most constant traditions.  Few and far between have been the Saturday that did not find us at the grocery store.  Hallie came into our family, and we packed her into the car with us on our way to the grocery.  Hanna joined the family, and we adopted her into the weekly store going ritual.  Heather has yet to be introduced to this family outing, but no worries, her time will come.

Because of the fact that we nearly always go to the store together, it took me a long time to figure out one priceless bit of knowledge.  For whatever reason when I, for whatever reason, do not go to the store with Devin he always comes home with some little treat (or treats!) for me.  At first it was just random and surprising, how delightful! What made you buy this for me?  As some of you may know, Devin is very strict with our grocery budget.  And so each time I opted out of the family trip and he came home with some delicious goodie I was filled with wonder.  At some point he figured it out himself - that he is more likely to buy me things I crave when I am not with him, than he is to be talked into buying it when I am at the store actively craving it.  Some sort of interesting psychological factor at play here, but I don't know what.

This morning I showed Devin the sale ad, and told him a cute story about how Hallie saw the Oreos were on sale, and it was all she talked about.  Devin continued to stoically eat his lunch, and I let it drop, knowing that Oreos were hardly on the approved list of items to buy.  When it came time to go to the store I wasn't ready, and wasn't really feeling up to it anyway, and so they left without me.  After they had left I thought to myself, "well, there go my chances of getting Oreos - if I'm not there to talk him into them there's no way he'll pick them up."  I didn't put much hope in Hallie's powers of persuasion.  Ah, but I had forgotten the mysterious facet of Devin's psyche that urges him to buy things for me when I am not there that he would never buy for me when I am.

The garage door opened, and the first thing Devin said as they walked in was, "You'll never guess what Hallie is carrying." and I looked up, and she walked in carrying a precious blue package with white lettering.  If you don't know what that is, I pity you.

We enjoyed our treat after dinner, and as I was finishing my - well, let's not worry about how many I had eaten, shall we? - I said to Devin, "You'd better hide these tonight, or there won't be any left tomorrow."  to which Devin responded

"I'm not going to hide anything.  You're just going to have to have self control."  Now, Oreos and self control aren't really a great match for me, but when your husband is right, he's right.  So I told myself to have some self control, and I poured myself a tall glass of Raspberry Crystal Light.  At this time Devin said, "But why aren't you drinking milk with your Oreos?"

To which I ressponded, "I'm trying to have self control.  If I am even going to attempt such a thing I can't play around with milk.  Oreos, after all, are its favorite cookie, and how am I supposed to stop eating them then?"

Devin casually stood up and walked over to the fridge/cupboard area, where he roams and prowls looking for his after dinner snacks.  He came back with a tall frothy glass of milk and put it in front of me, the crinkly blue package of Oreos next to it.  What is this man doing to me?

"Temptation, thy name is Devin, and thou wearest blue jeans."  I said as I gulped down my milk.  Devin turned from the cupboard and laughed at me.

And let me tell you my friends, Devin laughing at something I've said, especially when it was completely ridiculous, is a treat they don't sell at the grocery store.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Midwife, The Anesthesiologist, And Me (4)

And Me - The Truth Comes Out

I've spent a lot of time thinking about pain and fear.  I don't know if that makes me really weird, or really self-actualized, or maybe it is normal and you've also pondered these topics?

Before we go any further into this topic can we discuss semantics for a moment?  I have a hard time with certain terms associated with pregnancy, and labor and delivery.  In the beginning, I have trouble telling people that I am pregnant.  It's not that I have a problem saying the word "pregnant", it seems so blunt when you say, "Hi, how are you? I'm pregnant."  and the word "expecting" sounds to me like you haven't finished the sentence, "Hi, how are you?  I'm (or Devin and I are) expecting... it to rain... the mailman to come soon... a baby."  Sometimes I wish we could go back a hundred years ago when you didn't talk about it, and people didn't ask about it, and everyone just sort of pretended it wasn't happening until suddenly: baby! Wow, how about that?! Except, of course, that would be no fun.  But it would make me less stressed. 

The other phrasing issue that stresses me out is about the delivery.  People ask, "Did you have an epidural?" Or they'll say, "Did you go natural?"  And while it is easy to answer these questions, "No." "Yes."  When I am trying to explain how I feel about the whole thing in a blog post, I don't like to say, "During my natural childbirth"... because what does that make the experience of a woman who did have an epidural, "unnatural"?  Well I'm certainly not comfortable with that.  I've heard some people say "unmedicated", I can't quite put my finger on why that one disturbs me, but I am also uncomfortable with it.  Be that as it may, I don't know any other way to describe it.  If you do, please share. Also, am I the only one who gets stressed about how to phrase things?

And now finally to the point.  Heather was my third unmedicated labor and delivery.  (I'm getting stressed about that whole sentence, should I just have written labor? Just delivery? Stay with me folks.)  When people find out I get reactions like, "Wow, you're so brave" or "you're so tough" or "I wish I could do that".  And so I feel like it's time for me to be honest.

This isn't about bravery for me.  It isn't about being tough.  It seems to me that people experience pain differently, and in large part I think that is based on our past experiences and how we registered the pain from them.  We see portrayed on tv and in films the pain and agony of childbirth, and it is so easy for that to become the focus of the experience, until the fear of that pain is all we recognize.  UNLESS there are other fears that become a controlling factor, and override any fear of pain.  For me, make that two greater fears.

You know one of them already, my fear of needles that has been under much discussion in my last few posts.  Yes I have a distressing fear of needles, but as many of you know under certain circumstances I can bring myself to put up with them: when I had a root canal I most certainly let them numb me, and every month when I have to have my TSH checked I handle that pretty well too (although it took me years to not cry when they did that... embarrassing).  And so if the fear of needles was my only problem I probably would have had an epidural with each of my babies (Um, in the spirit of honesty maybe not all three, I was feeling quite empowered after our time in the Netherlands, and I might have had Hallie natural.  But with both Hallie and Heather when I got to transition the fear of the pain I remembered made me really not want to go through with it, so if it really had been only needles I might have talked myself into an epidural.  We'll never know.)

But I have one more deep dark fear that only a handful of people know about and it is really the big deal breaker when it comes to me and a leisurely pain free experience.  I'm going to let you in on the secret, because I don't want people to continue lingering under the impression that I am brave.

I am afraid of being stabbed in the small of my back.  When Devin is unloading the dishwasher and my back is to him, and I turn around and find him putting the knives away, I get a sick feeling in my stomach - and he's the person I trust most in the world.  When I'm going up the stairs I have to chant in my head, "you will not get stabbed.  no one is going to hurt you."  I can't sleep with my back to an open door, because it makes my back feel too exposed and I can't relax.

I'm crazy, I know.  I have no idea why I am plagued with this fear, I have had no bad experiences with knives or back injuries to validate it.  I also don't know when it first started, but I think it began developing in high school.  And now you know.  I realize, rationally, that a needle is not a knife, and that the anesthesiologist will not  be "stabbing" me with intent to kill, but for some reason my brain just doesn't care - all it recognizes is sharp metally object going in to the small of my back and every morsel of my body screams "No thank you".  There you have it.  Maybe you think less of me, but at least now you know the truth.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Midwife, The Anesthesiologist, and Me (3)

The Anesthesiologist

An anesthesiologist is someone I never thought I would meet professionally.  Just like I never thought I'd meet an astronaut, or fireman, or Regis Philbin.  Sure, maybe someday I'd be his neighbor, or his son would be in my daughter's class in school, but you know that is different.  Not that I have anything wrong with anesthesiologists, although part of my mind does question the sanity of someone who wants to spend their day with needles, but that probably is an indication of my sanity more than anything else... more on that in the next post.

But when the reality of having an iv began to settle in and I began (literally) shaking with fear, I wanted desperately for an anesthesiologist to wander into my room and casually inquire if his services would be, by any chance, needed.  Like a knight in shining armor, if you will, brandishing needles in place of a sword but certainly rescuing damsels in distress.

The nurse approached me with the pediatric needle that she had found for me, and probed my arms for a likely vein.  She felt confident she had found one, and it began.  I cried, but this time (unlike when I was in labor with Hanna) I didn't scream when my vein collapsed.  Although if they had kept trying the way they did with Hanna I might have...

The nurse looked for another possible candidate, but none of my other veins looked promising.  At this point she didn't even have to take my word for it regarding my fear of needles, she could see the physical evidence.  My pulse had skyrocketed, I was shaking, and the tears were streaming down my face.

What she did next will make me love her forever.  She went to the phone and called the anesthesiologist to come put my iv in for me.  That is probably like asking Da Vinci to draw a stick figure with a crayon, but I don't care.  This man, bless his dear sweet heart, was on his way out the door to go home after who knows how many hours when he got the page.  Back in to the hospital he came.  He walked in the door of my room and probably stood there for a minute, glowing brilliantly in the fluorescent lights, whereupon I might have swooned.

And I kid you not, the lingering pain from the first attempt hurt more than his whole process.  Da Vinci with a crayon!  My knight with a needle!  I love you forever, Sir Whose Name I Never Learned.

In closing, I would like to thank all those who dedicate their lives to rescuing people from their trivial fears.  Be it an anesthesiologist putting in an iv, or what have you, the fearful people thank you.  Also I would like to thank my friend Sarah who told me a long time ago that I could demand from the onset to have the anesthesiologist put it in, especially since I do have wiggly veins (that is what the nurse called them).  Maybe next time I will have the guts to actually do that.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Midwife, The Anesthesiologist, And Me (2)

The Midwife: Part Two

In this post I write all of the things that I really liked about having a midwife during labor and delivery.  Some of these things may not be unique to having a midwife, I don't know.  But this was what I liked about my experience, with my midwife.

One of the first things that really sold me on having a midwife deliver Heather was the appeal of not having an iv.  When I met with JoAnn in her office that first time I mentioned my issue with needles, and she said straight away, "Ok, no iv."  And I wanted to hug her.

That was all well and good until I tested positive for Group B Strep, so whatever. I had to have the iv anyway, but it was nice that she was willing to NOT make me have one.  Next time.

When she showed up at the hospital, she came bearing gifts.  I don't know if she made it herself, or if she paid someone to make it but it is definitely handmade, my very own personalized boppy. (Is that what they are called?)

The other nice benefit was that she was with me the entire time. When I got to the hospital, she showed up, and stayed with me. It was nice knowing she was there if I had questions (many - if for no other reason than to just take my mind off what my body was doing to me).  For example, she has delivered 2,300 babies (roughly). The largest baby she delivered was 11 pounds some ounces, it was the fifth baby that JoAnn had delivered for that mother, and the smallest baby that mom had was 10 pounds something, and she had all of them unmedicated. Now there is a warrior woman.  The smallest baby JoAnn delivered was just over 2 pounds.  The mom was not one of her patients, but was the daughter of a friend of hers. The daughter was in town visiting, and her mom had some concerns, so asked JoAnn just to look at her.  She was two months from her due date and dilated to a five.  She had no idea that she was in labor because she had never had a baby before and thought it was just false contractions.  It was too late to stop the baby from coming.  JoAnn said the baby lived.  These are the things that get me through contractions.

The other nice thing was that JoAnn let me get in the bathtub.  I got in, relaxed, Devin read to me, and I almost fell asleep.  It was so warm and peaceful and I could tell Heather liked it too.  She was almost born in there, but last minute I decided to get out.  (ask me personally if you want details for why.   Next time I'm hoping I can stay in the water.)  (DID I JUST SAY NEXT TIME?)

She was supportive and encouraging when it was time to push, and she was tough on me when she could tell I was being lazy.  She held my baby up so I could see her, giving me the motivation for one last push when I thought I could give no more.

She let me give Heather her very first bath.  I got back in the bathtub, and JoAnn helped me hold her (I was still shaking too much to hold her on my own) and I got to wash my precious baby when she was still so brand new.

After we got out of the bathtub that time, JoAnn got out some fancy lotion and gave me a foot massage and back massage.  It is amazing how good something so simple can feel when the rest of your body feels like garbage.

And that is why, if Heather had a middle name, it might have been JoAnn.  She is retiring in June, however, and that is why she will never deliver another of my babies. (What am I talking about, another?! Seriously.)  She is 59, and had hoped to make it to 60 before retiring, but she is tired, and has been having some health issues, and said it was time.  Don't worry about me though, I've gotten to know one of her partners at the practice, Jill.  She'll do a great job delivering my next baby.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Midwife, The Anesthesiologist, And Me

The Midwife: Part One

My sister wanted to know what it was like to have a midwife deliver Heather.  This post is my attempt at telling her what it was like. I am in no way telling you that you should have a midwife, but if it sounds like something you'd be interested in then go for it.  If not, I support you in whatever you choose.

Heather was delivered by my midwife, JoAnn.  It was magical.  She will never deliver another baby for me.  That was her decision, not mine.  And I'm not taking it personally.  But I think I'm getting ahead of myself.

The only image I had of midwives a few years ago was that of a wrinkly, bent old woman whose medical advice consisted of telling you to bite a stick of wood when the pain was bad.  Then when I was in the middle of my pregnancy with Hallie, Devin and I moved to the Netherlands.  I was at the grocery store with the wife of Devin's boss, she was helping me figure out what to buy, and I asked her about doctors too.  It was my first pregnancy and I was nervous.  She asked why I needed an ob/gyn, and perhaps seeing me glance at my obviously baby-laden belly she explained that in the Netherlands the only women who go to an ob/gyn are high risk pregnancies.  She told me that she would find me a good midwife.  I tried to dispel images of me shrieking through a mouthful of stick and told her that would be great.

And, as it turned out, I really really liked that midwife.  Her office was clean, sparkly, and she was neat and efficient.  Her English wasn't perfect so I'm sure a few things were lost in translation, but she was confident and that made me feel confident.  We were only in the Netherlands for a few months, but I think their "I am Woman Hear Me Roar" attitude when it came to giving birth really sank in, and has kind of stayed with me.

We moved  back to Indiana and the ob I had was, well, since I can't say anything nice best I don't say much at all.  We moved to Illinois and the doctor I had there for Hanna's birth was fine, but my experience at that hospital was pretty abysmal, and has left a bitter taste in my mouth for iv's.

That brings us to last summer.  I was pregnant, but we weren't telling people yet, not even my mom.  I was at the pool with Hallie and Hanna and some friends.  While the girls were swimming, the moms were talking.  I don't remember how the conversation evolved, but I must have said something telling because my friend Torrie turned eagle eyes on me and said, "You're pregnant, aren't you?" I still hadn't found a doctor, so I admitted I was and asked their opinion.  My friend Natalie piped up enthusiastically, raving about her midwife (Technically she is a certified nurse midwife).  It sounded good to me, and off I went to my first appointment.

At the first appointment we sat in her office and discussed my previous pregnancies, labors and deliveries.  What I liked about them, what I didn't like, my hopes and dreams for this one.  Then we went into the examining room and she did all the normal doctor-y stuff.  She said everything looked great and a beautiful relationship was born.

The following appointments were either 15 minutes (ob-1) or 30 minutes (ob-2) long, depending on what we needed to discuss.  She would tell me at the previous appointment which one I needed to schedule for the subsequent.  At each appointment she would ask questions about how I was feeling, take my  blood pressure, weight, and a sample of urine.  Then she would measure my belly, and we'd listen to the heartbeat.  Then we'd have a few things to discuss and I'd go home.  So easy. So fast.  So simple.  So non-invasive.