Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Hopeful Memory

I know we don't get to choose what we remember. If we did, there would be quite a few people missing embarrassing or sad chunks of their past. But every now and then, I hit a moment in life that I hope calcifies itself into a memory. 

I had such a moment today. I was holding LittleDebbie, who was recently-fed and content. She snuggled against my body, smiling. The snow was falling gently out the windows. Not a shovel-twelve-heavy-inches snow, but a dust-things-and-melt-tomorrow snow. The house was quiet. The older girls were at school. I hadn't yet gotten the "MeToo's running a fever, please come get her" call. The rug beneath my feet was recently vacuumed. The dogs hadn't shed on it yet. All was right in the world. 

It was the calm before the storm. I didn't know that then. I just knew that it was calm. And all was well. And it was blissful. 

When I'm elderly and looking back over decades of motherhood , I hope that this is one of the moments I remember. Not one of the ones where I lose a star for yelling at the girls. But that moment of stillness and peace, a true gift. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

What's Your Excuse?

It's been a few weeks since I checked in. What's my excuse? Well, there was a birthday party for MeToo and a gravity-defying cake to construct… There was a holiday with visiting in-laws and a lot of food to prepare… And mostly, there was just life. Life feels a bit overwhelming right now. It's all good stuff, but I'm overwhelmed all the same. 

It was a Facebook post that stirred me to blog today. A childhood classmate of mine commented on something and I kind of spewed a lot of pent-up opinion back. I stepped up on my soapbox at perhaps an inappropriate time. Well Jennifer, I apologize that I used your status update to vent my annoyance at Maria Kang. I know, she's old news. And you were finding encouragement from her to do something you wanted to do. I completely undermined that. And I'm very sorry. 
So I'm going to make matters worse and more ridiculous by expounding on why her meme got under my skin this morning.




When her picture first started circulating on FB, my initial reaction was "Wow, she looks great! Good for her!" I had just given birth to LittleDebbie and did not look anything like she does. And then I started to think about the line "What's your excuse?" I tried to think of ways that those words could be uttered kindly. Perhaps as a tease? She doesn't know me well enough to tease me. Perhaps as a challenge? Perhaps as a taunt? A challenge can come in kinder terms, like "I can do it, and so can you!" I couldn't help but decide that it was a taunt to anyone who didn't look like her. But I brushed it off. I don't feel the need to look like her, so it didn't bother me. Thankfully, other people do see her commentary as encouragement, as can be found in the comments of her website and blog. She really is encouraging people to change for the better, and I commend her for that. She has travelled a long and rocky road of eating disorders and personal challenges to get to where she is today. I applaud her for what she's done for herself. After reading her blog and a few articles, I have a vague understanding of why she is what she is and why she says what she says.

So I'm going to take her seriously for a moment and answer her question.

I don't look like her because it's not my priority to look like her. 

Once upon a time, I looked something vaguely similar to her. I was a lightweight rower in college. And after college I ran and completed a marathon. I worked out 2-4 hours per day, 6 days per week. I was in my early 20's. Rowing was my sport and my social life. It was all-consuming. I was in great shape. I looked great. (I didn't appreciate it back then, but I just looked at a photo album recently and saw pictures of myself. I appreciate it now.) I ate well and exercised a lot and was very healthy. Other than a few part-time jobs and a double-major class load, it was all I needed to do in life. 

To look like that again, I would need to:

  • Work out 2-3 hours per day, 6 days per week for 6 months to a year. After that, I would need to work out 1-2 hours per day, 5 days per week to maintain it. 
  • I would need to reduce my current calorie intake significantly.
  • Go back to physical therapy to rebalance my pelvic girdle to keep myself from getting injured from all of the exercise.
  • Do a lot of intensive core exercises to cure my diastasis to keep myself from getting injured from all of the exercise.
  • Stop nursing my baby and switch her to formula so that the reduced calorie intake and increased demands on my body didn't reduce her food supply. 
  • Probably hire a babysitter a few hours per week to watch the kids when my husband has too much work to do to watch the kids while I go to the gym. 
  • Get custom orthotics made to manage my shifting arches and reduce knee and back pain when I exercise. (I'm actually in the process of doing this now. Yikes! They're pricey!)


As a result:

  • I would look awesome.
  • I would be in great shape and have more energy.
  • We'd have less money to spend on other things.
  • My children would see much less of me.
  • My husband would see much less of me.
  • I'd have more difficulty keeping up with household demands and would likely want to hire a cleaning lady. Which would take more money away from other things. 
  • I'd have less time to volunteer at church, HeyMama's school, and MeToo's preschool. 
  • My life, and consequently my family's life, would revolve around my need to exercise.


I do know mothers who exercise this much. In general, it seems like exercise is both their job and their hobby. They do both well, and seem to enjoy them. I applaud them. They look great, they seem to have a great balance in their lives (well, at least as FB will lead me to believe), and all is well. I know moms who exercise this much to manage health issues, such as depression and neurologic disorders. Again, I think that this is wonderful. Exercise is a healthy thing, and if it can replace pills to manage medical problems, I think that's fantastic. It's a win-win, if you ask me. 

But I am not that person. It is not fun to me. It is not my job. It is not something that alleviates other miseries in my life. It is something I must do more of to be healthier. It is something I tolerate. It takes away time from other things I'd rather be doing. (Yet I try to do it anyway). I remember once reading an article in Runner's World about a man who never missed a day of running in 30 years. He was older, which made it even more impressive. And then it talked about how he had missed graduations and birthdays, and his children "understood" because that was just who he was. But even if his children "understood" that dad couldn't be there for their birthday party because he had a race to run, did it make them feel good that running was more important than they were? The article has haunted me ever since. It's good for parents to have hobbies, to have interests, to have passions. But the article made me sad for his children. Exercise is good. It should have a place in everyone's life. But it didn't seem to me that it should be of higher priority than one's own children. I vowed then that it never would be in mine.

That said, I agree with Maria Kang about what a sad epidemic obesity is. She speaks out loudly about the dangers of obesity. I've absolutely seen them while working in healthcare. Obesity can set off a cascade of nasty problems: diabetes with all of it's complications (neuropathy, blindness, strokes), heart disease, wounds that won't heal. It's ugly. And I agree with her that the level of obesity in children is horrifying and a bad omen for our society's future. But there's a difference between being in good cardiovascular shape and looking like her. Someone can be far from obese and actually in good cardiac shape without having her chiseled physique. They're not the enemy. And I suspect that most of the people hearing her message are actually in that group. 

I hate to sound like someone who went to a liberal university, but I did and I'm going to make this statement anyway:  Obesity is a class issue. That at least seems true in Boston. We're an overall very fit and healthy city. This is helped greatly by the fact that we're a young city with many students and professionals. We're also a city with a high level of income. We can afford to exercise. Ok, so some exercise is free, like walking or running. And yes, a lot of that happens in Boston. Living in a densely packed neighborhood with public transportation allows many opportunities to leave the car at home and head out on your feet. This low-level exercise adds up. But the exercise required to look like Maria costs time. A lot of time. This time is more precious when you're working multiple jobs and caring for multiple kids. Have you priced a jogging stroller lately? Or tried to get your young children out for a brisk walk without one? How exactly is that single mother barely scraping by going to get out for her intensive cardio workouts? Who's going to babysit for her to get it done? Maria is lucky to live in a world where she truly believes that everyone has the same resources and opportunities to do what she does. Some people truly do have good excuses not to exercise like she does. And I don't think it's a coincidence that the women with the best physiques in Boston seem to cluster in certain neighborhoods - the ones with more Starbucks and less gun violence.

I promise that I'll stop ranting soon, but I want to turn the tables on her original challenge for a moment. Her challenge assumes that everyone shares her goal of optimal fitness. I agree with those who say that her challenge only carries power if you actually do feel like you should be physically fit, and if not, it's not offensive. Perhaps my offense does come from some deep-seated guilt for not looking like I did at age 20 now that I'm 36. But I'll make some similar statements and see how they fly:

  • I always feed my family home-cooked meals. Even when I work overtime. What's your excuse?
  • We're a one income family, but we still manage to pay cash for our cars, save regularly for retirement, college, and a rainy day, and we give a percentage of income to charity. What's your excuse?
  • We only eat organic and local, even in the winter. What's your excuse?
  • I work, but still grind my own flour and bake my own bread. What's your excuse?
  • My kids are 3 and 4, but they always clean their own rooms without help. What's your excuse?
  • My baby's been sleeping through the night since he was 8 weeks old. Yours is 8 months old. What's your excuse?
  • We both work, but still have our baby in cloth diapers and make our own baby food from scratch. What's your excuse?

These comparisons can be made about anything that anyone does, in a constant one-upmanship. Do some of them sound ridiculous to you? I can assure you that they don't seem ridiculous to the person saying (or hopefully just thinking) it. Even if they don't offend you, certainly you can agree that the sanctimonious tone is unhelpful?

So, Maria Kang, I applaud what you've overcome in your life. I applaud what you're trying to do for public health in America. I applaud you for turning a passion into a career and opportunity for celebrity. Bravo for encouraging so many people to work harder at becoming more fit. But please consider that not everyone has your life, and not everyone has your priorities. And please consider keeping your sanctimony to yourself.

Thanks,
A mom who will only prioritize being in decent shape, at least until her children need less of her time.


PS. Here's the gravity-defying cake. Thanks to BestestHusband's parents for managing dinner and childcare while I worked on it.



Friday, November 15, 2013

A Conversation

A conversation heard earlier today:

(while walking the dogs with MeToo)
"I want to go for a walk around the neighborhood."
"Ok, we'll walk more before we go home."
"I don't like it when you pull my hood."
"Sorry, you kept weaving in front of me. I was going to step on you."
(starts whining and crying)
"Why are you crying?"
"You pulled my hood!"
"I'm sorry. I told you I did it because I was going to step on you. I won't do it again."
(continues whining and crying more loudly)
"You sound pretty tired. I think we should go home instead of walking."
(starts screaming and shrieking)
"I want to go for a walk! I want to go for a walk! I want to go for a walk! I want to go for a walk! I want to go for a walk! I want to go for a walk!" [*as you're reading these to yourself, make sure you stretch out all of the vowels as long as you can]
"I'm sorry, but we're not taking a walk if you're going to scream like this. We're going home."
"I don't want to take a nap! I don't want to go to sleep! I don't want to go to sleep! I don't want to go to sleep! I don't want to go to sleep! I don't want to go to sleep! I don't want to go to sleep!"*
"That's fine, you don't have to. I never said you had to."
"Carry me! I don't want to walk! I don't want to walk! I don't want to walk! I don't want to walk! I don't want to walk! I don't want to walk! I don't want to walk! I don't want to walk!"*
"Well, I'm sorry, but I can't carry you home. It's time to walk."
"I want to lay down right here! I want to lay down right here! I want to lay down right here! I want to lay down right here! I want to lay down right here! I want to lay down right here!"*
"We're not going to lay down on the sidewalk. We're almost home. Keep going."
"I can't hold your hand! I can't hold your hand! I can't hold your hand! I can't hold your hand! I can't hold your hand! I can't hold your hand! I can't hold your hand!"*
"You don't have to until we cross the street."
"I'm not tired! I'm not tired! I'm not tired! I'm not tired! I'm not tired! I'm not tired! I'm not tired! I'm not tired! I'm not tired! I'm not tired! I'm not tired! I'm not tired!"*
"I'm not sure I agree with that statement, but whatever. It's time to cross the street. I'm going to hold your hand."
(screaming and whining continues)
"Ok, we're home. Climb into your seat, it's time to go pick up your sister."
"I WANT TO STAY HOME AND TAKE A NAP!"
(screaming and whining continues while she buckles her carseat straps)
She's asleep before we put out of the driveway.
We all knew that was coming.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Scary Early

It's that spooky time of year. As much fun as I had making a sheltie costume (with its realistic shedding fur) for HeyMama, I sure am glad that Halloween is over. But daily life resumes, along with its daily terrors. Each morning dawns with the mild panic of getting everyone up, dressed, toiletted, fed, and out the door by 7:15am to take HeyMama to school. Ok, by "everyone" I mean myself and my three daughters. BestestHusband bikes to work later. And he can dress, toilet, and feed himself. One daughter can wake herself, toilet and dress herself, and feed herself, if we get out the food. One can toilet and feed herself, but needs help with waking and getting clothes to dress in. The third is absolutely dependent, and can't finish up her breakfast while I'm driving in the car. I've been doing it for almost 2 months, but it still terrifies me. 

I am not a morning person. Oh sure, there were those 4 years that I woke daily at 4:30am to row on a cold, dark, twisty river with 8 other people. I woke up on those mornings with the fear that those 8 other people would physically remove me from my bed if I didn't do it first. And sure, there was that time that I was training for a marathon, and had to do some runs before work in the summer, and had to get up crazy early. But I woke up on those mornings with the fear that I'd leave Melissa to run alone, or worse, get behind on our training schedule. It was fear that propelled me from bed both times. 

If my body had any say in the situation, it would happily stay tucked in bed until 10am. Just ask BestestHusband. He's seen it happen. Mostly before we had kids; I don't get to do it so often anymore. So imagine how my body feels when I ask it to get up 4 or more hours earlier than that. It is not a smooth-running machine. Not at all. 

So the 7:15am departure with my entourage is not an easy feat. There is always coffee in hand when I do it. It is truly "scary early" for me. 

But I'm coming to peace with it. Because the other morning, I drove to the next town to take HeyMama to school, then drove back past home to CVS to be there when it opened at 8am. We picked up a prescription and a few other things. I let MeToo play with toys. Then we tried on Halloween masks. We were out of there by 8:30. Given my preference, we'd still be at home in our jammies. But instead, I had an errand knocked off my list already.

And last week, before I got a cold and sinus infection, I dropped HeyMama off, drove to the gym, worked out, returned some things to the library, went to the far away grocery store, and were home before lunch time. Given my preference, we'd still be at home in our jammies. But instead, we had all of our errands done by noon. 

I don't love this early thing. But I'm willing to acknowledge that it's very good for me. Well, at least it's good for my productivity. My body thinks productivity is overrated. 

MeToo was actually laughing under the mask.


I think this one is my favorite.

The eyes lit up!

I'm not sure if it's the contrast of the face size with MeToo's body, the contrast of the pink fluffy Princess coat, or the giraffe-print leggings and light-up sneakers. But these pictures crack me up.

Hope your mornings are less painful!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Today's Triumph

When you have small kids, little things become big triumphs. I'd like to celebrate one of mine with you:

Today, I found a recipe that uses up a bunch of ingredients in my fridge, looks tasty, and doesn't require any trips to the store. 

WAHHHHHHHOOOOOOOOO!

Thanks for celebrating with me today.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Suspicious Pumpkin Death

Earlier this evening, we had 3 pumpkins. One of those pumpkins was from our garden. It was tall and misshapen, but we loved it dearly. The other two were won by the girls in a coloring contest. I use the word "contest" loosely. It was mostly a participation prize. 

Anyway, all 3 pumpkins were sitting on the counter. I went to the other room to plug in my phone and I heard a thud. This is what I discovered. 


The pumpkin was lying on the floor, dead. 

My first thought was that it was an act of pumpkin desperation. I mean, carving season is here. Maybe it knew its fate and decided to take things into its own hands. But that seemed unlikely. It was a happy pumpkin. It had so much to live for. 

I think there were more sinister forces at work. Things were fine until the 2 new pumpkins came into the house. Then, within hours, the old pumpkin was dead. It feels a bit sketchy to me. 


Don't you think this looks suspicious? I'm going to keep an eye on those two...

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Birthday in Review

A sincere thanks to all who sent emails, cards, and Facebook messages to wish me a happy birthday. It was, indeed a happy birthday. 

My new birthday tradition ( instituted by me) is that I do minimal dishes on my birthday. On this front, the day was a success. Of course, this means that we ate out for lunch and dinner. Oh well. 

HeyMama was off from school due to a teacher inservice day, and it was a preschool day for Me Too. So I had scheduled a checkup for LittleDebbie and dentist appointments for HeyMama and MeToo. But MeToo wanted to see her friends at preschool. 

So we slept in a little bit, took MeToo to preschool, visited work to show off LittleDebbie and HeyMama, then went to LD's appt. we raced to pick up MeToo, then raced to the dentist. They love the dentist's office. They did great. Then we went out to lunch at the same bagel shop that saw MeToo's infamous tantrum 8 months ago. And we saw the frumpy man that made that tantrum infamous. 

MeToo wanted to go back to preschool. So we took her there and went home. Due to the multiple vaccines that LD got at her appointment, she was sleeping hard. So I decided to do the same. HeyMama allowed me to take a nice birthday nap. 

I woke up in such a good mood and with such energy that I decided to harvest some chard from the garden. There was a lot. Cleaning and chopping was interrupted by feeding children. And picking up children from preschool. And then meeting BestestHusband for burgers. 

Dinner was delightful. Tasty Burger lived up to its name. The girls were well behaved and charming. 

The girls were tired and went to bed easily when we got home. And there were no dishes to clean. But there was a lot of chard. So I cleaned, chopped, blanched, and froze chard all evening. It was delightful. 

And looking back on how I spent my birthday and how much I enjoyed it, I declared myself Old. 

Oh well. I hope I can be old again next year. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Long Time No Chat

So it's been a while since I last posted a new entry. Sorry about that. 
I thought I'd post a few pictures to update you all on life in the Bundles of Joy household. Here they are, in no particular order, because I'm doing this mostly one-handed on my phone while holding and bouncing Little Debbie.

Dried lavender flowers from the garden. BestestHusband painstakingly snipped each stem, then I let them sit around for awhile until the flowers fell off and I swept them up into a ball jar.

Two noteworthy garden finds. The pumpkin was the only one out of 3 planted vines. Oh well.

Ingredients for packing lunches. HeyMama loves kindergarten, and MeToo still loves preschool. I don't love having everyone in the car at 7:15am. Oh well.

LittleDebbie in the evening. She's swaddled, horizontal, and being held, just like she demands.  I know I don't usually post pictures of my children, but her cranky face looks pretty generically cranky-babyish to me. I think she still has plausible deniability as a teenager...

Plastic containers that need to be organized.

Plastic containers that have been organized. I spend a lot of time managing and organizing clutter. 

A graham cracker house. I had leftover frosting in piping bags. It was yucky outside. BestestHusband was in Hamster Dance. (you know, that city in the Netherlands?) Or maybe this was when he was in Germany? See the cup of coffee in the background? I drank a lot of coffee while he was gone. Both times. I'm very glad he's back.

HeyMama turned 5. She had breakfast in bed. She was happy.











Wednesday, September 25, 2013

We Denied Our Nanny Health Insurance


Once upon a time, we had a nanny. Ok, it was a nanny share. HeyMama was 3 months old, and my friend/coworker had a son who was a few months older. They lived less than a mile away. We decided to share a nanny to care for both kids. 

We're law-abiding citizens who happen to have work benefits that encourage paying childcare on the books vs. under the table. So we payed payroll taxes. We got workman's comp coverage. We enlisted a payroll company to prepare weekly paystubs and make sure we filed all of the appropriate paperwork with the government. We wanted to do it all right, and be good employers to the person who would care for our child. 

So we didn't offer health insurance to our nanny.

This might sound a bit odd. Let me explain.

We live in Massachusetts. We have Romneycare. (It's the inspiration for Obamacare, if you didn't know). So everyone has to have health insurance. Everyone. If you can't afford it, it's given to you, or heavily subsidized. 

Now, in case you've never worked in childcare, let me inform you that nannies don't make much money. Especially if you work for people like us. But that's a good thing in the world of Romneycare. Because that means you qualify for subsidized or free insurance. BUT only if your employer doesn't provide it for you. 

We ran some numbers. If we payed for some of our nanny's insurance, she would have to pay for the rest of it out of the money we paid her. And it was expensive. If we payed nothing towards her insurance, she got the money we paid her AND she got insurance. We had a finite amount of money we could pay her, and it wasn't enough to approximate a reasonable weekly wage PLUS provide insurance. In fact, paying for her health insurance meant that she barely made any money at all. So why would we pay for her health insurance if it hurt her instead of helping her?

We read the rules. As household employers, we were not required to provide insurance. We were required to provide workman's comp coverage. We were required to file payroll taxes. We did these things. We went into the situation expecting to provide all of the benefits that our employers provided us. And them we realized that the healthcare laws of our state actually incentivized us NOT to provide benefits for our nanny. It would actually HURT our nanny if we did. 

So I was not at all surprised when I heard about companies cutting most of their employees to part time in advance of the coming Obamacare changes. If the employees aren't full time, they don't have to be provided with health insurance. I was not surprised at all. Unlike our situation, they're not doing it in the best interest of their employees, just their own company pocketbook. But is anyone really surprised? And what other unintended consequences will we see? What's the likelihood that they will help employees instead of hurting them?

Only time will tell. 

PS. Our nanny share ended when the nanny stole my friend's engagement ring and was seen wearing it in public. But that's a story for another day.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sleeping Through the Night

It's 4am. I'm awake. Little Debbie is not. In fact, she hasn't been awake since around 9:15pm. It's a bit odd, and disconcerting. I was awake 3 times with her last night. Tonight, she hasn't awoken yet. Yes, she's still breathing. I checked. And double-checked. And triple-checked.

That's the funny thing about a baby sleeping through the night. The first time it happens, you can't enjoy it. You're too worried that something's wrong. Certainly she should be awake by now, right? Certainly she should be hungry by now, right? The worry that something is wrong is greater than the relief of getting more sleep. Is she really still breathing? How about now? Still breathing? Still asleep?!?!

So why am I awake? Let's just say that there's an oversupply issue that I'm managing at the moment. My body thinks she should have eaten two or more meals by now, and is wondering what to do with all of that food. Again, the irony. I should be luxuriating in the extra rest time. But I can't. As usual, I'll go back to bed just in time to fall into a deep sleep before the alarm goes off. 

I'm not going to expect this to be a regular thing. Sure, Little Debbie's big and old enough that it's not out of the question. But I don't want to be disappointed when it doesn't happen. 

Addendum:
Immediately after writing this, I heard noise on the baby monitor. Sure enough, she woke up hungry at 4:30. And we were up until 5:30. Which allows a quick nap before the alarm goes off. I jinxed it. Oh well, I did sleep from 11pm until 4am, so 5 uninterrupted hours is nothing to sneeze at...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

9/11

12 years ago, about this time, I was lying in bed, listening to the airplanes.

It wasn't the sound of large airliners slowing their descent into Logan airport, as I usually heard at this time of night. No, it was the fast whine of fighter jets. War planes. They were patrolling the East coast, in the hopes of preventing further attacks on our country. The airliners had been grounded hours earlier, after 4 planes were hijacked, and thousands were killed. 

I remember lying there in the dark, wondering what would happen. Were we at war? Would we be going to war? Was Boston the next target? And who was targeting us? How do you deal with the idea of your loved ones being vaporized when an airplane loaded with fuel slammed into their workplace? How would the survivors move on?

I prayed. I cried. I think we all did that night, even people who weren't prayers or criers. 

So I stop to remember. 

How can any of us forget?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Big News!

We have big news here in the Bundles of Joy household.

Little Debbie has discovered that hands can go in the mouth. And they're delicious!

She woke up from a marathon nap, chugged 5(!) ounces of pumped milk, and demonstrated some new motor skills. Including the hand thing. Now, she's not yet a master of her hands, but she's making progress.

And you parents out there know that a baby who can chew her hands at will is well on her way to being an effective self-soother. So, while this is a good example of a true "baby step", we're pretty excited here. Ok, maybe just I am. 

Yay Little Debbie! And yay for hands!

Friday, September 6, 2013

First Week of Kindergarten


I'm the mother of a kindergartener. Wow. 

HeyMama just finished her first week of kindergarten. Every morning, she has bounded out of bed at 6am, put on her uniform with its plaid jumper, bounded to the kitchen to eat breakfast, packed her food into her lunchbox, and chattered her way to school. She loves it. 

We decided to send her to a local Catholic school that would allow her to start kindergarten early. She'll turn 5 later this month, which is too late for BPS. But early enough for St. Mary's. The class is small. The school feels like a community. And HeyMama LOVES IT.

I simultaneously have a newborn and a kindergartener. This is a fun contrast. But the kindergartener needs to be at school at 8am sharp. Preceded by a 20-45 minute commute, depending on the day. This is a bit of a bummer. Little Debbie tends to want a feeding around 4am. This lets me get back to bed around 4:30. Which gives me a quick nap before the 6am alarm rings. And she wants to eat again before we leave the house. This is a bit of a challenge. This aspect of having a newborn and a kindergartener is kicking my butt. I know we'll settle into a schedule, and things will get easier. I'm very much looking forward to that day.

In other news, I'm back to my previous raging coffee addiction. Oh coffee, how I do love thee...

Birthing Habits

So I shared my recent birthing experience in the last blog post. Some would say that my experience, midwife-assisted delivery with no medications or surgical interventions, is the ideal birth. Some would claim that I did it the "right" way. Some would call it "empowering." Some would call anything other than natural delivery to be "failure".

I've read posts on my local mommy network from women who don't have unmedicated natural births and become depressed and anxious, because they consider themselves to be failures. Sure, they have healthy babies. Sure, their physical recovery has been fine. But their c-section means their successful delivery of a healthy child was a failure. 

What? 

Maybe it's because I've never had a c-section that I don't understand. But to me, a birth that requires a c-section = a birth that had a potentially bad outcome without a c-section. So a c-section = successfully avoiding a bad outcome for your baby = success. Not failure. 

Perhaps I should take full credit for my unmedicated natural birth. Yes, I got my baby to turn head down all by myself. Yes, I got her to stabilize her vital signs. Yes, I got my cervix to dilate at the right time, and got my contractions to progress in a timely manner. Yes, I grew my baby to just the perfect size to pass through my pelvis. I did it all by myself. I am a really good mom. 

No. 

I had no control over any of this. The conditions were right for a natural birth. I didn't make it happen. I just let it happen. 

So if I didn't make my natural birth happen, how did the others have a role in their c-sections? Ok, so there are some women who schedule their c-section for convenience sake. And there are the ones that are possibly done for the convenience of the delivery team when the birth isn't progressing very quickly. I'm not talking about those women. They aren't the ones calling themselves failures. It's the ones looking for empowerment and fulfillment through childbirth that are calling themselves failures. And this makes me sad.

Are we really "empowered" if we feel we can "fail" at childbirth? A century ago, a mother would have thanked God for a surgical procedure that could save her life and that of her child. Now it's considered failure? Is this a cultural or social advancement for women?

The history of childbirth through the 1900's does involve some medical protocols that we would consider obscene now:  strapping a mother to the bed with her legs in stirrups, anesthetizing her and manually pushing/pulling the baby out, forced routine episiotomies. I'm glad the pendulum is swinging the other direction towards less medical intervention. And I realize that it takes a significant amount of lobbying to make this kind of shift.

But are we really helping the situation if we make mothers feel "less than" or not a "real" mother if she takes advantage of the modern interventions available? Is this progress?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Miracle of Birth

Ok, forgive me if this gets a bit sappy in places. I just had a baby a few weeks ago. The oxytocin can make me a bit fuzzy-brained at times. And forgive me if this gets a bit graphic at times. I'm going to talk about childbirth. It's graphic. It just is. Any process that starts with a creature living inside its mother's body and ends with her as an independent creature in the outside world, well, it's going to be a bit dramatic. 

I had a request to hear Little Debbie's birth story. So I'll oblige before momnesia kicks in and I completely forget. 

I was one of the lucky ones who was able to have 3 healthy unmediated natural births. They all occurred in the hospital, supervised by a midwife-led team. They were all good experiences, and I'd highly recommend it. I realize that not everyone has similar birth experiences. And, despite the claims of some, I don't feel like I birth "better" or in a more "empowering " way than others. But I'll rant more about that in another post. 

It was early afternoon when I suspected something was up. I was running errands. I found myself moving more slowly than usual, doing my relaxation breathing as I waited in line at Staples. I honestly felt a bit embarrassed to realize that I didn't remember what contractions felt like. Um, I'd done this twice before. I should remember how things went. Right?

I had an appointment with the midwife. The plan had been to strip my membranes during that visit if labor hadn't started. I was past 40 weeks, we had travel plans. And a baptism scheduled. The baby needed to come sooner rather than later. But it was unnecessary. I was 1cm dilated, and 50% effaced. Some women can walk around for weeks like this. I am not one of those women. They hooked me up to a fetal monitor to check the baby's heart rate and measure contractions. Well, lying down, the contractions slowed considerably, but the baby didn't. They kept me hooked up for over an hour, waiting to get a slower baseline. But Little Debbie had no intensions of settling down. I was there for 2 hours. 

I was annoyed. I had errands to run! And my typical 25-30 minute appointment would have left plenty of time to do errands and nap. Instead, I had to race to get the girls. And then go to the grocery store. And then make calzones for dinner. And I really wanted that nap. 

By the time I got to making the calzones, I was really uncomfortable. I was pretty sure I was in labor. BestestHusband came home. I handed over the task of calzone-prep to him. I headed downstairs to the bathtub. 

We have a large whirlpool bath tub that my SIL calls the "sex tub". It's a pretty big tub. For the record, we have not used the tub for procreative purposes. But I highly recommend it for the early and mid stages of childbirth. I retreated to its warm relaxing waters for an hour or so. The contractions became stronger, more regular. I was pretty sure I'd be holding my daughter by daybreak. 

I got out of the tub to say goodnight to the girls. We told them we might not be there when they woke up. We told them they might get to meet their sister tomorrow. They were excited. 

I ate some dinner, mostly because I knew I needed to, not because I was particularly hungry. Then I retreated downstairs again. I finally decided that distraction might be better than relaxation at this stage of the game. What's better than distracting me through tedium than Downton Abbey? Nothing. Hulu to the rescue. 

By this time, I was tracking my contractions on my iPhone. When they were 1 minute long and 6 minutes apart, I called the midwife. Noting my fast labor with MeToo, she suggested that I come in sooner rather than later. BestestHusband was showering, so it was a little on the later side. 

The hospital is only about 10 minutes from our house without traffic. We left around 11pm, leaving the girls in Grandma's capable hands. The hospital offers valet parking. This is good when you're in labor and don't want to wait in the lobby for your husband to park the car. I had done the registration paperwork previously through my midwife practice. They knew I was coming. Checking in didn't take too long. I got my ID bracelet. BestestHusband got his. We headed to L&D. I declined the wheelchair. If walking sped up childbirth at all, I wanted to use that to my advantage. It was a long slow walk. But we made it up the secure elevators. We waited about 10 minutes before I was ushered into an exam room. I'm glad the baby wasn't in too much of a hurry... 

They asked the requisite "do you feel safe?" questions before ushering BestestHusband in.  The contractions kept coming. I kept doing my relaxation breathing. They took my medical history. I met the midwife. She checked my progress: 4-5 cm. This is serious for me. Again, I'm not a woman who walks around 5 cm dilated for a week. It was too close to midnight to have the baby that day. But she was coming soon. Very soon. 

I walked to my delivery room and got settled in. I was hooked up to a baby monitor again. Little Debbie was doing well. I was ok. I was better when the dang volume was turned down...

The contractions kept coming. They were increasingly intense. I kept up my breathing, but it was harder to stay relaxed, and I was struggling to find a comfortable position. The rocking chair was no good. The birthing ball was no good. Walking was absolutely no good. I optimistically kept trying. But it was repeatedly no good. Lying down was no good. Sitting bolt upright in the bed was ok. Sorta. So I sat up on the bed and tried to keep my noise to a minimum. It was getting harder. 

I decided to try the shower. I hadn't tried it with my other deliveries. I love showers, and the bathtub had helped previously. So I gave it a try. It was wonderful for a few minutes. Then another contraction hit. And I felt the urge to push. I decided it was time to get out of the shower. 

BestestHusband got the nurse and helped me out of the shower. I desperately wanted to be back in bed. The midwife was there. She checked me and announced "9 and 3/4 cm with an anterior lip". 9 and 3/4 cm is pretty close to 10 cm. Things were getting very real. She called for more staff, and told them the same thing. Carts appeared. Gloves appeared on everyone. Face masks appeared. BestestHusband was instructed to get warm water. It sounded slightly archaic to send a husband for warm water in a hospital... But the baby was on her way, and rational thought was becoming more difficult. I just wanted to find a comfortable position. And I couldn't. MeToo was delivered while I was upright on my knees. Little Debbie didn't like that position. The midwife encouraged me to try my back, as 3rd babies like to come fast, and fast deliveries can result in needing lots of stitches. I didn't want any of those. So I tried to follow her instructions as she applied warm compresses (made with BestestHusband's warm water) to ease the baby's exit. 

Throughout all of the labor leading up to that point, I felt like I was ok, and I had this labor thing under control. Suddenly, I wasn't ok, and I didn't think I could do it any more. I felt physically incapable of getting a baby out. But I knew that I had no other option. But I didn't know how I was going to do it. Was it possible that my pelvis would shatter? That I would rip in half? I seriously felt like the child would break me. How had I managed to get out two previous babies? It didn't feel like those two previous births were helping at all.

I think I said a lot of silly things. Things like "No, I can't do this." And "get this baby out of me. Just pull her out." And "No! No! No! I don't want to!" And "I want her out. Get her out of me!"

The midwife encouraged. Then she became insistent. The baby needed to come out. And I needed to push. Now. 

So I did. During a break in contractions, I got control of my breathing, gave myself a pep talk, said a prayer, and prepared for the next contraction. And I pushed until I felt like blacking out. Her body felt bigger than her head. The other two didn't feel like that...

They laid her on my chest, and all I could say was "thank you Lord, thank you Lord". I was thankful she was out. Thankful she had a powerful cry and perfect little ears. Thankful I was done pushing. I think I cried. I know BestestHusband did. 

They did all of the good things after birth - skin to skin contact, waiting to cut the cord until it was done pulsating, encouraging immediate nursing. The pitocin   shot in my leg hurt. How can a shot hurt after pushing out a child? I don't know, but it did. I delivered the placenta, and saw one for the first time. It truly is an amazing organ. Not amazing enough to eat, like some women like to do, but amazing nevertheless. I was thrilled to discover that the warm compresses worked - no stitches needed

Little Debbie wasn't so thrilled to be born. She howled for a long time. She got quite the respiratory workout. I was surprised to find out that she was a full pound heavier than her sisters, a solid 8.0 lbs. We prayed every day for a healthy baby. And that's what we had. 

The birth was mostly what I hoped it would be, but harder than I remembered the others being. Perhaps that's the standard momnesia effect? Would women keep having babies if we remembered all of the unpleasant details? 

Why do I like natural birth? Well, it lets me avoid needles, for the most part. I don't like those so much. It lets me avoid side effects of the medications and interventions that go along with chemical pain relief. I don't like spinal headaches, the inability to walk after birth, and medicated newborns so much. And our bodies were created to birth babies without drugs. I like to give mine the chance to do what it was created to do. Our foremothers have done it for centuries. 

Why do I like natural birth in a hospital with certified nurse midwives? Well, what was one of the leading causes of death for women of childbearing age during the preceding centuries? Yep, childbirth. I like to hedge my bets. When childbirth goes smoothly, no interventions are really needed. When childbirth doesn't go smoothly, mothers and babies can die. I'm not interested in that outcome. I like having a crash team and world-class NICU on standby.

I'm also blessed with babies who want to be born naturally. They haven't been breach, sunny-side up, or overly large. They might stay past 40 weeks, but when they're ready to come, they come pretty quickly. That makes a huge difference! If I was stuck at 5 cm for 2 days with regular and strong contractions, I'd be begging for drugs that would let me get some rest. I'm thankful that hasn't been my situation. So, while I'd never call childbirth "easy", I think I do get off pretty easy in the childbirth department. So I could never judge a woman who wanted drugs or a scheduled c-section. I have no right to judge. But this is a topic for another post. Because there are some people out there who get pretty high-and-mighty on the topic of childbirth...


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Message from Little Debbie

Dear Mama,
It's been 3 weeks now that you've been employed in my care. I think things have been settling in adequately, but I wanted to provide some constructive feedback and clarification of the expectations I have for you and the meeting of my needs. Please make note of the following issues:

Meals are expected to be on time. MY time. This time may or may not be predictable. But don't worry, I'll let you know when it is time. 

I prefer to poop in clean diapers. You might suspect that I will poop in a diaper as soon as you put it on me. You would be correct. Just keep those clean diapers coming, and I'll take care of the rest. 

Proximity is important. Please ensure that I am attached to your body all day long. Yes, all day long. If you forget about this, don't worry, I'll remind you. 

The car is nice, but only when we're driving rapidly. Sitting at red lights or in traffic is highly unsatisfying. Please avoid these situations. 

Those two smaller mama-like people in the house are interesting. Please keep sending them my way. They're rather entertaining. I think I like them. 

Dinner time, including the time for preparation and consumption, is MY time. Please rearrange your schedule accordingly. 

All in all, I think we're off to a good start. Please correct some of the errors you've been making in the aforementioned areas, and I'm sure we'll get along just fine. 

Sincerely,
Little Debbie

Monday, August 26, 2013

They're Not Excuses, They're Explanations

Here are my explanations for reduced productivity today:


  • I didn't change the sheets because now they smell like me, which helps Little Debbie sleep better when I get out of bed.
  • I didn't take a nap, because I was afraid Little Debbie would wake up immediately after I fell asleep. And I got a second wind anyway.
  • I was tired and grumpy because Little Debbie didn't sleep well last night and I didn't get a nap.
  • I didn't return all of todays emails and messages because I was using my iPhone's white noise app to help Little Debbie sleep.
  • I didn't get the floors all clean because Little Debbie needed to be held all day, and wasn't truly content unless I was gazing into her eyes lovingly.


So basically, it was a typical day. I just have new explanations for not getting stuff done.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

4 Days Old

Little Debbie is a whole entire 4 days old! 
Here are a few things I've learned about her in 4 days:

  • She likes to sleep on her side.
  • She has had a wickedly strong sucking reflex from birth.
  • She is a fantastic eater. 
  • She has very strong lungs, and the voice of a much larger child.
  • She looks a little like both of her sisters, but fully like neither.
  • She is an amazing little bundle of snuggles, and molds to my body perfectly.
  • I could spend all day holding her. But alas, I have 2 other children, a husband, and 2 dogs. They like attention, too.
  • She has angry hands. Those little paws get to flailing, and all heck breaks loose.
  • She has a very serious look about her.
  • She occasionally shows off one very cute dimple.
  • She does NOT like diaper changes. 
  • She requires a lot of diaper changes. 
  • She likes it when her sisters sing to her.
  • She likes white noise.
  • I am absolutely infatuated with this child.
  • BestestHusband would be wise to use this infatuation to his benefit if he wants to convince me to have a 4th child.


I give thanks for her every day.

PS. I promise not to update every 4 days.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Perfection

Today's been a perfect day. 
Little Debbie and I watched the sun rise. We spent most of the day together. I know that days like this will be rare. Real life will not allow me to snuggle my sweet baby for hours on end. So I savored it. 

Little Debbie is perfection. She has tiny little ears. She has a sweet dimple in her right cheek. She has a soft fuzzy head. And perfect little lips. 

The enormity of it all finally hit me this afternoon. I had another healthy pregnancy. I had another uncomplicated birth. I have another healthy baby girl. And she's perfection. 

The tears started to flow. I am so blessed. Just so blessed. How often do we get to experience perfection? I just experienced it for a third time. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Calm Before the Storm

Little Debbie is now 17 hours old. It's the calm before the storm. We're recovering nicely from her delivery. I'm up, mobile, sleep-deprived, but feeling OK. She's a strong eater, and a strong crier. And a strong spitter with a belly full of vigorous feeding sessions and birth gunk. She's in the nursery. Where someone else is cleaning her spit. And changing her spitty clothes. And doing her spitty laundry. 

I'm in my hospital room. Eating food someone else is cooking. Soiling laundry someone else is washing. Watching cable that we don't have at home. Catching naps between feeding myself and Little Debbie, visits from nurses, and visits from family. 

This is not real life. This is the calm before the storm. I think this might be the daily life of the rich and famous, a life with a personal chef and paid staff. This is not my life. 

My life now has 3 children in it. Holy cow, I'm a mother of 3. The reality will sink in on Friday, when Little Debbie and I join the rest of our family at home. Until then, I plan to live it up. I will eat carrot cake made by someone else. I will drink milkshakes made by someone else. I will catch catnaps whenever I can. I will enjoy the calm before the storm. 


*Little Debbie gets this nickname from the pregnancy cravings she caused. Oh, Swiss Cake rolls, how I do love thee...

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Vanity. And Patience.

Vanity and patience - these are two words you don't hear together very often. One is definitely less-desirable than the other. But both have been on my mind this week. 

Vanity has been lurking under the surface for a few weeks now. I've noticed that, even before the presence of a newborn in the house (any day now, baby, we're happy to have you any day now!), I'm looking older. I've noticed more age spots, more fine lines, more "imperfections" in my skin. I suppose this isn't really that surprising. I AM getting older, and I've been outside more this summer. These things do happen. They should be expected, even. But now I'm obsessing about skincare products and makeup.

My last day of work for a while was yesterday. I went a day longer than my co-workers expected before I declared myself "all done." I really am uncomfortable and All Done. When I do eventually go back to work, it will be only a few short evenings a week, and a few weekend days a month. Even my per-diem pay can't cover 3 kids. So I'm transitioning even more to being a stay-at-home mom. This identity shift has been a gradual one over the last few years, and not always a smooth one. But one that is shifting again. 

So the vanity kicks in. I enjoy dressing up for work. I enjoy looking put-together. I know that a SAHM lifestyle is not always a given for looking put-together. Nor does the lifestyle finance a fun, put-together wardrobe. But I think that one of my top resistances to the change is actually a fear of becoming frumpy. Ok, I'm nowhere near a fashionista now. But I do have standards. I try not to look 5 years older than I do. I try not to dress 10 pounds heavier than I am. I try to look like I've shopped for new clothes in the past decade. I try to look like I at least TRY. I can't make any claims as to whether or not I succeed...

So then I start to feel guilty for my vanity. Really, does it matter what I look like? Aren't my actions more important than my appearance? Isn't my health more important than my looks? This is what I hope to teach the girls. A beautiful body is an healthy body, not a thin one. God gave us miraculous bodies to do His work here on Earth, not to adorn and flaunt them. What we know, feel, and do is far more illustrative of who we are than what we wear. Our appearance should not be our priority.

How do we demonstrate our priorities? Time and money are pretty good indicators. So if we spend money on our appearance, we are demonstrating our prioritization of it. So if, while only one parent is bringing home a regular paycheck, I prioritize spending some of that paycheck on skincare products and clothes, then I'm making a statement about my priorities. While working, this doesn't make me feel so guilty. One must keep up standards of appearance for professional purposes. Appearance DOES matter in the workplace. Investing in an appropriate work wardrobe IS an appropriate thing to do for one's career. And besides, I can spend some of MY paycheck to do it.

But what about when your career is being a SAHM? "Honey, can I have some of the money you earned to spend on makeup and clothes?" This just feels so... 1950's. Ok, so no, I don't have to ask BestestHusband's permission to spend money on things. But I do need to be able to justify them. And I realize that justifying them to myself is actually a bigger threshold than justifying them to him. But hey, that's a healthy thing, right? (Right honey?) But what is justifiable and what is just vanity?

What is vanity, anyway? I've been thinking of it lately as taking pride in one's appearance. But Sunday's Bible readings at church made me reframe the concept of "vanity". There is a long discourse on the topic of vanity in Ecclesiastes chapters 1 and 2. It discusses vanity as taking pride in accomplishments, not in appearance. I think most of us suffer from this version of vanity more often. We've worked hard for what we have:  our educations, our jobs, our comfy homes in expensive real estate markets, our 401Ks. They're OURS. We earned them. We're proud of them. They're part of who we are. But are they? 

Our homes will likely still stand when we die. Our diplomas will crumble and fade over the years. The money will get passed on to someone else. They are just things. Things that will go on without us. To take pride in possessions, to take pride in what we've done is true vanity. Our brains, our parents who made us go to school and get diplomas, our health to let us keep working, they're all from God. They were given to us, and they will eventually be taken away. This is the point of the Parable of the Rich Fool. To think that we deserve them is a conceit far greater than worrying about our gray hair and crows feet. This is the real vanity that many of us should strive to avoid. 

So I'm grappling with multiple versions of vanity now. I need to find a fine balance between maintaining my appearance and maintaining my perspective. It's not inherently sinful to want to look good. I certainly appreciate BestestHusband taking the time to keep up his appearance. I certainly owe him the same level of effort. I wouldn't want to be an embarrassment, and I don't want him to have to work too hard to find me attractive. But I do need to keep in mind that, like the grasses and lilies, my life will eventually fade and end. No amount of expensive potions will change that. This is the will of God. And likewise, my education and career, as well as my vocation as a mother, are gifts that I will use differently at different times of my life. And this, too, is the will of God. To cling too strongly to any of these is vanity. 

Well, one thing that I certainly can't be vain about is my patience. Because I don't have much of it. I know local moms whose mantra is "I'm an endless well of patience." They're proud of how patient they can be with their kids, and what good parents it makes them. I'm thankful I can't be vain in this arena. Because every day, I pray for enough strength and patience to make it through the day. And I keep getting it. Just barely enough of it. I know it's not because I have an endless well of it. I don't. 

My Mum likes to say it's never wise to pray for more patience, because it can backfire. It's our trials and tribulations in life that help us grow into more patient people. To pray for patience is to ask for more hardship. So I'm content just to have it doled out in barely-enough daily doses. I'm too much of a wuss to ask for the hard work to make me more patient. And God will always provide what we need. And having to turn to Him for our daily needs seems to be a good antidote to vanity. 

So after all of this, I still plan on celebrating my first day of not-working tomorrow by getting a hair cut and a pedicure, and shopping for new skincare and makeup products. Let's face it. I'll need all the help I can get after the baby's born, and we already paid for preschool for the girls. And I really can't reach my toes. It's my best chance to get these things done. But I'll keep in mind that this version of vanity is really the least of my worries. I'll need to continually battle the rest of it.

What vanities do you battle? 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Bathtime Conversation

We had a really fun day today. Today was BestestHusband's company's annual summer party. "Today was the best day ever!" according to HeyMama. 


The water slide. The girls and BestestHusband spent a lot of time on it.


The slide with the lake/beach in the background, and the huge grassy play area in the foreground. This place is heavenly for families.


MeToo rolling a hula hoop. This kept her entertained for quite a while.


HeyMama trying to actually use a hula hoop. This also entertained her for quite a while. So did the bouncy houses. Yes, there were 2 of them!

It was pretty fun. But I hit my wall around 1:30pm. And we didn't get home until around 5:30pm. I'm kinda toast right now. I'm sitting upstairs, waiting for the bathroom downstairs to be vacated so I can take a shower in peace, and go to bed before the sun does. I'm so ready.

And then BestestHusband calls upstairs to ask me a question:
"Is it ok for the girls to say dang? I told them no."
HeyMama:  "Should I say 'crap' instead?"
Me:  "What about 'darn'?"
MeToo:  "Dahn!" (in a full-on Boston accent)
HeyMama:  "Darn. I left the brush in the car. Can you go get it?"
BestestHusband:  "Perhaps 'shoot' would be better?"

It's a toss-up. Do you let your child use a word of frustration that makes her sound like a townie? Or one that is also a word for violence? Or one that is a synonym for excrement?

There are no good options here. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Fun Things

Fun treats have been arriving in our house lately.


My parents sent a little treat for me. If you recognize what's under the brown wrapper, I'm not telling you where I hid it. If you don't recognize the container... well... forget I mentioned it.


And a treat for BestestHusband. Being a soon-to-be-Daddy requires sugary fortification.


And the garden gave us our first ripe tomato. What a treat! We've had some cucumbers and a zucchini. But we're thrilled to have tomatoes. Now we just have to keep them away from the bunnies...

Monday, July 29, 2013

This Episode Brought to You By the Letters C, F, and G

So I've had some really wonderfully productive days lately. I can't take credit for the productivity. As with Sesame Street, I must give credit to the sponsors in my life that have made this productivity possible. 

I'm almost ready for the baby. I still need to pack overnight bags for myself and the girls. But other than that, we're good. I made a freezer meal tonight. After making a respectable dinner with leftovers. And got yogurt started. Last week, I disassembled, cleaned, and reassembled a carseat and a bassinet. I washed and folded a newborn wardrobe. I re-organized the basement a bit and put away some things in our bedroom to make room for the bassinet. I bought school shoes for HeyMama today. And a gift for BestestHusband's birthday. And we girls did some fun things, too. We went to the circus yesterday. We spent a lot of the morning at the playground and riding bikes. And I still managed to keep everyone sort of fed and clothed, and I still took my afternoon naps. I'm pretty happy with how it's all been going.

But I must give credit where credit's due:

The letter C:  Caffeine. I've tried giving it up in the past. I was even successful from time to time. But lately, I've gone back to it. In small amounts. But it's been crucial in motivating me to stay off the couch. Let's face it. I've never been much of a morning person. And kids typically are. So we have an inherent miss-match of natural states. I just need a bit of caffeine in the morning to get things going. And when I do, we get going and get stuff done. So thank you, caffeine.

The letter F:  Friends. The carseat that I cleaned is from a friend (thanks Joy!). The bassinet that I cleaned is from a friend (thanks Jen!). And the reason that I had time to clean them? A friend took the girls to the zoo for me on Friday morning (thanks Anne!) and took over my preschool music time duties for me this morning (thanks Anne!). We had an invite and encouragement to go to the circus yesterday with friends (thanks Jackie!), which was a fun excursion. The days have passed quickly and happily thanks to friends. And passing the last few days of a pregnancy, especially happily, is quite a feat. So thank you, friends. 

The letter G:  Grace of God. I've been quite healthy this pregnancy. The girls have been healthy. Life has been calm and free from crisis. This is all beyond my control. I've been shockingly patient over the last few days, especially today. As I was trailed through the grocery store by a tantrumming 4.5 year old today screaming about a cookie that she wanted, then didn't want, then wanted again, then didn't want, I thought to myself, "Hmmm, I don't have the sudden urge to dropkick her off the back porch, despite a morning of whining and complaining. I'm remarkably calm." I can tell you that this was the Grace of God in action. That was not my deep reserve of patience in action there. I don't have a deep reserve of patience on my own. I'm usually struggling to not totally lose my shite when the girls are being jerks in public. I did not struggle today. It just happened. That was God in action, not me. So thank you, God.

We're plugging along. I'm at 38 weeks and counting. We'll take a belly shot soon. Poor 3rd kid, I don't have any pregnancy pictures for this one yet. Oh well. Thanks to caffeine, friends, and the grace of God, I'm sure she'll be fine anyway.

I hope your life is full of helpers this week, too!