Thursday, September 1

cohen's birth story

I left my last day of work Thursday afternoon and drove straight to the closing appointment for our new house.  I was looking forward to the weekend to get going on a huge to-do list; pack up the kitchen and bedroom, move, pack the birth bag, find a sweet little outfit to bring our baby home in, install the car seat, etc., etc.   That weekend we were set to move-- our storage cube was scheduled to be picked up, all our friends and family had cleared their weekend plans to help us, and if all went to plan we would be moved in just in time to have the new house ready to bring baby Koncar home to.

Friday morning I laid in bed waiting for a set of Braxton-Hicks to end, thinking that these felt different, most likely because we were getting closer and closer to my due date.  I held my hand on my forehead, and Philip asked if I was okay.  I was fine, just having a few contractions, but I looked at Philip's face and he knew that something was up, and said he hadn't ever seen my eyes like that.  I assured him I was fine and he went to work.

Two hours later I was sitting on the toilet, cursing myself for eating so much salsa the night before.  These stomach pains were coming in waves, although I didn't feel ill otherwise.  Looking back now, its laughable that I was seated comfortably on the toilet, as if that's a normal place to sit and just hang out for over an hour, and was in total denial that I was in labor.  Why complete denial and toilet-sitting are so common during early labor, I may never know, but there I was anyway. 
After some time I realized I was bleeding a little bit, and my heart almost stopped.  Ugh, this wasn't salsa-induced stomach cramping, this was labor, hopefully just a false labor?  GOSH DANG IT NO!  I mean, YESS!!, but NOOO!!  I had told my midwife a couple months earlier when we were talking about my due date that even though many first time moms go past their due date, I just had a feeling about June 20th, which would be almost 2 weeks early.   June 20th, the upcoming Monday, would have been just fine, but it was only Friday! We have reallllly big plans for the weekend.  Please little baby, just wait until Monday!  I started timing my contractions, and from they time they started they were never more than 4 minutes apart. 

I called the birth center to let them know I was in labor, and as soon as Philip got home we started packing our bag to head over to his mom's house to get all the baby things we had been storing at her house.  My contractions were steadily getting stronger, and I was starting to have to look down and close my eyes and not talk while they were going.  It was so nice to finally know what a labor contraction is; you spend almost your entire life wondering what it will feel like, or if you'll know when you're having one, and when you do it's pretty unmistakable, like "oh yes, this is what labor feels like."  during one contraction, I was bent over the island counter and felt a warm gush.  I looked up at my father-in-law and Philip and frantically asked Philip to get me some paper towels, like, ALOT of paper towels.  Truthfully, I thought maybe I really had peed my pants, but I waddled to the bathroom to check.  When I realized my water was a straw green-yellow color, I started to lose my cool. I felt like I had been riding my contractions really well all day until I saw that there may be meconium in my water, and I got really scared.  What if it hurt my baby's lungs? or it gives him issues with digestion? what if our birth wasn't going to go as planned and we would end up having to go to the hospital?  I called Adrienne, my midwife, and as soon as I heard her voice I started to cry.  I needed her with me for me to feel safe, not these very sweet but clueless men that had no idea how to help reassure me or calm me down!  I felt like my labor was progressing and getting really strong, so I decided that we would go to the birth center and finish my labor there.  Besides, I had been such a calm laboring goddess that I just knew I was probably dilated to at least a 7 and about to start transition.  I thought my midwife was going to be so impressed at how peacefully I had gotten through the majority of my labor at home.

Adrienne checked me, and when she said I was doing great and at a solid THREE I didn't believe her.  Are you sure you don't mean 8? You're telling me this is going to get 10 times worse before I even get to start thinking about pushing? There's no way!  I've been having contractions for 6 hours!  After she assured me that meconium in my water was not the death wish I had thought, (so long as it's yellow and there aren't any chunks) we drove home to wait a little while longer.  I was a little discouraged that I wasn't farther along, but if only I had known then that within an hour I'd be begging to have those early contractions back!  It's almost like after my midwife calmed my fears about the meconium, it let my body know to pick up laboring at full-speed ahead.  My contractions were quite a bit stronger within 30 minutes, strong enough that I was no longer a peaceful birthing goddess, I was a full-blown howler monkey.  When I was having a contraction, I noticed nothing going on around me and just focused on the loud mooing that seemed to come so naturally to me.  I had been afraid that I would be a moo-er my whole pregnancy, and boy was I.

Philip called Adrienne, and she could tell from my noises in the background that I had progressed really well in that short hour.  A few times I thought I was going to throw up, so we grabbed a puke-bucket and headed back to the birth center, and can I tell you how awful car rides are when you're in labor??  I seriously thought my vagina and pelvis were going to come flying out of my body every time we stopped, started going again, or went over a bump.  After we were there, my midwife suggested that we go get something to eat, and started talking about taking some castor oil after an hour or two if things weren't progressing a little faster.  I really didn't want to take the castor oil-- I couldn't imagine adding intestinal cramping and diarrhea on top of those body-shaking contractions.  While all of this was going on, our realtor called us to tell us our house purchase had recorded and she had the keys for us.  She ended up dropping them off at the birth center while I was laboring there.  We took a little drive, got some food that I was too nauseous to really eat, and went to visit our brand new little house to kill some time, where I labored for a while.  Another damn car ride and we were back at the birth center.  I was so relieved to be there to hopefully stay.  Walking up to the birthing suite took about 4 contractions; one where I held on the hood of our car, one at the door, one in the elevator, one in the little hallway that overlooked where we had taken our Birthing From Within class.  I remember wondering what I had learned in that class because I sure as hell wasn't remembering my peaceful breathing and coping techniques now.

As soon as I made it to the suite, they had dimmed the lights and filled the big tub for me, and it's so unlike me, but I literally ripped all of my clothes off and got into the water as quickly as a girl can when there's a 20 pound bowling ball resting on her cervix.  I didn't care who saw or what they thought; I wanted my damn bra off and I wanted to be in the water.  I have no idea how long I labored in the water, but I remember it feeling better to brace my feet and shoulders up against the side of the tub so I was almost floating above the water. I tried connecting with my baby to let him know it was safe now. Philip held a cold washcloth to my forehead and it would almost snap me back from my own worries and thoughts and bring me back to the present moment..  Although I had imagined I would be in a deeply meditative state, I really wasn't most of the time.  Two recurring thoughts were "why on earth does any woman choose to do this again, ON PURPOSE?!?" and "yep, now I understand why so many women choose to have an epidural." 

A few hours passed and I had started pushing in the water.  You have zero sense of time while you're in labor! Before I knew it, it was almost midnight, and I was doing everything I could to run away from my contractions. I was exhausted, and wanted a break longer than those precious seconds between contractions.  At the beginning of labor, those little breaks were wonderful.. I could go through a contraction and then pick a conversation right back up once it was over.  Towards the end of labor, I spent every moment between dreading the next contraction, telling myself I just needed to make it through the next one, and then I could give up and go to the hospital, or ask for a triple shot of vodka or something..  I was pushing as hard as I could, like face-shaking pushing.  And I was SO annoyed, because I thought that when my body was ready, the top of my uterus would just magically push down and expel the baby, I didn't think I would have to try SO HARD, for what seemed like a thousand contractions.  I kept on thinking "come on, body, any freaking day now."  Within a few minutes of pushing, baby had been locked and loaded; I could feel the top of his head just 3 inches away from being born.  But I couldn't seem to get him past those last few inches.

My midwife suggested I get out of the water to try some different positions and I flat out pretended like I hadn't heard her. She probably had to ask me 5 times before I got my big booty up and out of the tub.. I was a stubborn old cow, this all hurt a little more than I was expecting, and I knew that it would only get more intense if I got out of the water.  I hurried out of the water to try and be seated and comfortable before the next contraction came.  Adrienne suggested possibly the sling, or the stool.  I can't remember every detail, but somehow I ended up on the birthing stool.  I pushed through a couple of contractions, still wondering why it hurt so damn bad!  I thought that once you were past transition, that pushing would almost feel better-- a girl in my class had likened it to the hurt-so-good pain of clenching your teeth after you get your braces tightened.  But not for this girl.  I was probably pretty close to reenacting that scene in Knocked Up, where Katherine Heigl screams "I FEEL EVERYTHING!"  I kept waiting for that thing I'd read about where the tissue was stretched so thin that the nerves were numbed...  but, uh.. nothing ever went numb, and it was the most powerful pain I had ever felt, there are no words..  I had spent so much of my pregnancy convincing myself that birth was so natural and wonderful, and that if I was in the right mindset and focused on my breath that there would be very little pain.  I'm not sure there's a way to fully prepare yourself for something so intense, but just like other painful things, you'll find your own way to get through, even if it's not the way you had imagined.

After another contraction, Adrienne checked baby's heart rate, and it had started slowing a little more than before.  Yours would too if you had been stuck in a birth canal for a half hour.  But all it took was bringing the attention back to my baby-- this wasn't about me any more, this was about keeping my baby from suffering any longer than necessary.  I realized that although I had honestly been pushing as hard as I possibly could, I hadn't really unclenched my entire body yet.  My body was fighting against itself.  I knew it was going to hurt, it might tear me in half, but I decided that I would do whatever it took to keep him from feeling any more discomfort.  That moment is when I became a mother; to stop questioning sacrificing myself, and accept any amount of pain for the sake of my child.  With Philip sitting behind me, I waited for the next contraction and as soon as it started I pushed with every thing I had, accepting the pain as it took over. The last few pushes I had been watching the top of his head in a mirror Adrienne was holding, but for that last one, I was pushing so hard that my eyes were closed.  In an instant, his head finally came out, and before I could even open my eyes his body was born..  He literally flew all wet and messy and perfect, right into my midwife's hands!  I brought my baby up onto my chest and kissed his sweet little head over and over again, and looked down at his tiny face.  The moment you see your baby, it's like seeing an old friend "Oh yes, there you are.  I've known you all along."

Holy Crap. Oh my gosh, he's finally here. My baby!!! MY BABY. Wow, that hurt!  Ina May's hippies had lied to me when they said that their rushes were psychedelic waves of energy, and they had misled me when they said that once the baby was born you were so overcome with happiness that the pain went away. BUH-lasphemy! Or had I just been reading it wrong??

They took Cohen from me just long enough to help me stand up and climb into the big cozy bed.  I was so weak I could barely move, but it was done, I finally had my baby in my arms, and we could rest now.  He was placed on my chest for the most blissful discovery and cuddling ever.

At the time, I kind of wondered if I was a selfish mother for not immediately thinking the whole experience was beautiful and worth every drop of blood and stab of pain.  Just a couple hours after birthing my baby, I hobbled back to the bed from the bathroom, bent over, barely able to walk, and told Philip that this would be our only child, and we never had to do this again.  But it's true what they say.  With time, you forget about the pain, I almost have no memory of the sensation of having my pelvis wrenched apart with each contraction, however through it all I never ceased to be completely amazed by the miracle, the power of birth, and how capable and strong my body really was and is.  I did it.   My birth may have not been easy and painless like I was expecting (how bad can it be? I wondered my whole pregnancy)  but I birthed the exact way I was supposed to.  I discovered that my most true self is very noisy and feisty..    WE WOMEN ARE WARRIORS.

My cervix was only checked that first time, which was really all that was needed -- since my water had broken and I was GBS+, they didn't want to check it more than necessary, and my midwife was experienced enough to tell where I was just by listening. I am so grateful that I chose a birth center; no unnecessary checks or fingers jabbing my cervix, I wasn't forced to have antibiotics, Pitocin, coaxed into getting an epidural, I wasn't attached to a single machine, no needles, no stainless steel, no crunchy mattress, and I was free to move around as much as I wanted (although sometimes I would hold as still as I could, barely breathing, hoping it would keep that wave of contractions from coming back) and didn't have to lay on my back to push.  I never regretted having a natural labor, or wished I had an epidural.  There were definitely a couple times I was hoping my midwife would say I wasn't progressing enough and suggest I go to the hospital for a c-section so it would all be over-- for a few minutes I just hoped she would give me an easy way out or the option of a different kind of pain, but I wasn't going to give up until somebody suggested it, and nobody ever did, so I didn't either.  And I only had very minor little tears that didn't need stitches thanks to his head stretching everything out for 40 minutes.  We were at home in our own bed within 6 hours.

Besides finally holding my sweet little baby boy in my arms, the most powerful thing that day was the care I received from Adrienne, and the birth assistant Natalie.  That night was the first time in my life I can remember actually truly needing help from somebody else, and I was so weak that I consented, and just let them help me.  They helped me sit up, get out of bed, slowly walk to the bathroom, and helped me into the shower.  While Adrienne rinsed me off and washed my legs, I had never felt so truly cared for in my entire life, and in that deeply humbling moment I was forever changed.  I was finally a mother, and that self-reliant ego of mine was finally a little broken.  Because of that day, every part of me has become a little softer, and I hope to never lose that.  This softness will make me a better mother, a better woman, and a better friend, and I hope I can offer that same love and care to women someday too.

Our rich American lives are so comfortable and relatively painless. We only get a handful of opportunities in life to really feel ALIVE, to be our most human selves, to experience our bodies and minds and let them do what they are designed to do.  I wanted to GIVE BIRTH, not just have birth done to my body, and with the help of Adrienne, Philip, and my tough little boy Cohen Kall Koncar, that's exactly what I did.  Birth is birth, no matter how it is done, but the support I had was what every woman deserves.

Cohen Kall Koncar was 7 pounds, 4 ounces, 20 inches long, born at 12:58 AM on June 18th. And he is hands down my greatest accomplishment, and always will be.  In Queen Bey's words:

"My [baby] introduced me to myself."

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Tuesday, May 31

pregnancy/life game changers

normally this blog is an awkward rambling diary of sorts, but today I'm stepping up on my soapbox to write about the 3 most important things in the world.  I mean, probably not, but sort of :)  and if not, they help make you more able to enjoy the actual most important things in the world, which are your health, your family, and your life.

I'm not sure if I can blame pregnancy for necessitating these game changers, or simply bringing health and wellness to the forefront of my mind, but below are the 3 things that I have fallen in love with, and don't anticipate ever giving up in the future because they don't cost a million dollars, and are actually easy to do every day.
  • MAGNESIUM:  It is SO important, and it's believed that over 80% of Americans are severely deficient -- knowing what I know now I would say that it's probably way more than that.  We used to get magnesium from our food, but magnesium has been depleted from our soils and food sources, so now only those that swim in the ocean regularly, don't consume alcohol caffeine and sugar (which deplete mg), and drink mineral water and/or supplement daily are getting enough.  Magnesium is used in almost 400 cellular processes and reactions in the body, and when we are deficient, our cells can't produce ATP, metabolize fats, carbs, or amino acids, our arteries and muscles start to calcify, hormones start to become unbalanced, and every type of tissue in your body is affected.  This leads to poor sleep, brain fog, exhaustion, depression, muscle spasms and fatigue, poor immune and healing responses, and hundreds of other symptoms.  Do some research yourself, or just believe me and go buy yourself some bath salts :)
    • How to Get It:
      • FOOT SOAKS!  I notice a HUGE difference in my sleep quality when I don't do a foot soak before bed.  Add a scoop of mineral bath salts to a bucket of hot water, and soak your feet for 20-60 minutes before bed.  Apply some lotion to your feet afterwards (or have your honey rub it in for you :) since the salts can kind of dry out your skin. This is the kind I use -- I like that it doesn't have any artificial additives, and you can add essential oils if you love an aromatherapy sesh before bed.
      • Magnesium Oil: We keep a little glass spray bottle on the nightstand and spritz the bottom of our feet before bed.  It's actually a magnesium/water solution but kind of does feel "oily" and takes a minute to absorb.  Magnesium can kind of tingle and should be washed off after 20 minutes or so if you use it on more sensitive skin, (don't expect to sleep comfortably with it on the inside of your arms just because you think it'll be better absorbed there-- personal experience lol) but I haven't noticed any discomfort leaving it on the bottoms of my feet all night. This is the kind we use.
      • Magnesium supplements: This is where I started when I first learned about magnesium, but your body will take what it needs and any excess will be processed by your kidneys and/or left to travel through your intestinal tract which can cause gas-like cramping and stomach upset, so I stick to absorbing trans-dermally (foot/bath soaks and magnesium oil spray) and don't have any tummy troubles from it.
    • More Research:
  • PROBIOTICS/PREBIOTICS/ALLLLL THE GOOD BACTERIA: I am such a good-gut-flora pusher.  I try to convince everybody I meet that the one thing missing from their lives is a thriving colony of happy-tummy bugs.  I completely believe that the secret to fighting illness lies in our gut..  My grandpa used to make us take acidophilus and blended kale smoothies when we were sick growing up, and I always thought he was a crazy hippy -- but even back then he knew that the success of our entire immune systems lies in the balance between good and bad bacteria, and the welfare of our good bacteria is mostly reliant and the crap we eat.. which for most of us isn't consistently anything to brag about..  You can't expect those little buggies to thrive on hamburger buns and cheese and sugar, but if you're like me and can't live without a few burgers and some sugar, then do your best to give your little bugs what they need despite your abusive nourishment.  Take a good probiotic, even better if it already includes prebiotics (insoluble fiber) and kiss goodbye your bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, a struggling immune system, and the bad attitude that comes along with these things, and say hello to 2-3 comfortable poops a day, killer digestion, and a BOSS immune system.
    • How to Get It:
      • Supplement!  I take probiotics and prebiotics daily, around 60 billion micro-flora (via a single capsule, or even better a couple smaller capsules throughout the day to equal that much)  and I rotate brands to try and build up as many strains as possible.  Before pregnancy, I was less consistent and felt like 30 billion a day was perfect, but I have upped my game since I'm trying to stay healthy myself and prepare another human body for a life of disease fighting. 
        • Lady Side Note:  After multiple treatments prescribed by doctors for bacterial vaginosis and semi-frequent yeast infections 5-6 years ago(basically my weak-ass vaginal bacteria would freak out if I even thought about changing laundry soap or got a little too sweaty at the gym) the vaginal support probiotics were the only thing that I've found to bring permanent vajayjay happiness.  I've started adding these back into my daily routine now as well to give my baby as many strains of good bugs as possible during birth.  See: Microbes for Baby
      • Stop Lysoling Everything!  This one still surprises me when I think about it, because I have probably spent 10K on Purell and anti-bacterial everything over the past decade and would feel completely at peace in a sterilized stainless steel box.  But we NEED bacteria.  Our immune systems become such pansies if they never have to fight anything. This does NOT mean to stop washing your hands after you go potty or touch raw poultry or some other gross thing/person, but it DOES mean play in the dirt a little more, go barefoot, and stop putting Lysol and bleach on everything you own every 48 hours (or was it just me who did that..).  Those chemical cleaners will give you cancer quicker than a little cold ever will, anyway.
      • Ferment Your Food!  Or if you aren't on my Martha level, wahaha, at least buy some food that's already fermented.. ;)  We brew kombucha, kefir, and ginger beer, we ferment salsa and vegetables, and love sauerkraut and whole milk yogurt.  I have found that I simply don't eat enough fermented food to rely on diet alone to get those good bugs without supplementation, but it's a great goal!
    • More Research:
  • RAW APPLE CIDER VINEGAR: It's alkalizing, meaning it helps your body become a disease-fighting environment, not disease-breeding.. ACV is also an irreplaceable remedy for indigestion (whether caused by a food baby or an actual baby) and gets rid of heartburn, which is usually caused by having too little acid in your stomach.  It goes against everything you thought about acid sitting in your throat, I know, but try it the next time you eat a burrito and then tell me how much you love me and apple cider vinegar.  It can also boost your energy, get rid of a sore throat, clear your skin, AND clean almost every surface in your house without chemicals.  We take a tablespoon or two mixed with 8 oz. water after almost every meal, and we LOVE it.

replete yo good bugs, and yo good minerals.. yo!

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Tuesday, May 24

give it time

I have really enjoyed my entire pregnancy, and I know I'm going to miss it when it's over.  Other than not drinking and religiously taking vitamins and fish oil and drinking plenty of water, and feeling a little creature flop around in my body all day and all night and not having any core strength whatsoever and having to use a hair tie to keep my pants together, and gasping for air from the effort it takes to bend over and buckle my sandals, and feeling like my pelvis is being held together by a single thread, and having to pee again as soon as I stand up from the toilet..  aside from all that minor stuff I haven't felt that much different from before.. but the last 10 days or so I've crossed the line from feeling a little tired and simultaneously pregnant to feeling reallllllly pregnant.  that's all I am.. just soo pregnant.   everything is starting to feel heavy.  my belly and my boobs and my legs and my under carriage feel like they must have been swapped out with waterlogged lead versions of themselves..  rolling over or getting out of bed or picking my booty up out of a chair hasn't been graceful by any stretch for a few months, but now all of these things are officially actually difficult. It's like when those body builder guys prep to lift something super heavy, and they puff-breathe to a count of 3 before they exert all their strength?  Even though I can't really see myself, I imagine it's hilarious to watch.  My sweet PK still thinks I'm pretty, and I adore him for that.  I've started feeling even more attached to him than before and I crave the smell of his hair and the way his skin feels against my hands, the way my head fits so perfectly against his neck.. like my body pre-emptively knows how much I'll need to hold on to him and breathe him in and rely on him for comfort very soon. I am so overwhelmingly grateful to have him.

it took a long time, around 8 months, to start feeling okay with pregnancy and birth and parenthood..  but it took no time at all, maybe 2 weeks, to shift from "alright, when the time comes I think I'll be ready for this" to "I am ready for this."  I'm ready to take on labor, and I'm ready to meet my babe.  I'm ready for those first few weeks of utter exhaustion.  I'm ready to hobble around in those super sexy mesh panties that go all the way to your belly button, and I'm ready to hold my broken vajayjay in during those first couple potty visits.  Well, as ready as I'll ever be.  I wouldn't trade the confidence I have gained from obsessively talking and thinking and dreaming and reading about all things pregnancy for anything in the world, and my heart breaks for the women who have nothing but dread and fear of the complete unknown that pregnancy and birth, because it just should not be that way.  pregnancy is incredible and birth is straight up magic, and although I still have some fear and a little lingering self-doubt, I am so in awe of the miracle, and so boosted by all the strength of the 300,000 women that are giving birth in every moment, and some of them are going through much more pain than just labor-- perhaps their babies are ill, or they aren't going to be able to keep and hold those babies once they have them, or maybe they or their babies won't make it.. but I wish so badly that every woman could reach some type of peace with pregnancy and I wish we could move away from the stigma that labor is torture, because once you start believing in yourself and that birth is more normal than anything else in the world, nothing seems impossible, and you can truly start to appreciate the wonder that is life.

I knew I was ready when I stopped picturing my baby's birth from the point of view of a fly on the wall, watching a person who looks like me pull a baby up to look at them, to picturing it from my own perspective, looking down over my big belly and pulling him up to me to see his face for the first time.   I've talked to a couple newly pregnant mamas that are still in that state of disbelief and terror and "WHAT IF I CAN'T DO THIS", and although I almost never feel sure enough of anything to offer advice to other people,  I felt so confident in telling them to just give their pregnancy will give you the time you need to gain clarity, and in a couple of months, you'll feel so much better and so much more ready than you do now..  keep visualizing labor and birth, picture yourself being strong and letting your body open and do what it knows how to do, and picture meeting your baby, smelling their little head, and kissing their wrinkly fingers.. and after about 4,180,000 practice scenarios in your head, eventually it all won't seem so scary. keep acknowledging your fears, a hundred times a day, and be gentle with yourself. start telling yourself that IT IS OKAY to be scared! you're going to be just fine anyway!  and believe down to your core that you can do anything.  watch and read calm peaceful birth stories and videos, and start seeing old and new friendships as a sisterhood with other women and learn from their experiences, whether that means taking their advice or acknowledging their experience without believing it will be your own.

one day at a time, one contraction at a time, one breath at a time.  everything's going to be alright, just you wait and see.

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Monday, May 23

turning into my mother

yesterday as Isabelle and I were on our way home from the grocery store, a new song from Justin Timberlake came on the radio.  "I haven't heard this one yet!" I said, and Isabelle said she hadn't either!  I asked her if she knew who N' Sync was and, of course, she did not.  I told her that when I was a kid, N' Sync was soo much hotter than One Direction..  and I raised my eyebrows to match her disbelief when I told her that Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears used to be boyfriend girlfriend and they would match their outfits at award shows and go out to cool clubs and stuff together.  mind blown, right?!?

and then I flashed back to being 13 when my mom showed me a CD cover of Billy Ray Cyrus circa 1980-something.. he was shirtless and had long Fabio-greased curls at the end of his mullet, skinny arms, and clearly couldn't even grow a beard back then.. She told me that he was THE sexiest and coolest when she was younger (and bear in mind this was before Miley/Hannah Montana and Billy Ray's second and much farther-reaching wave of fame) and I remember nodding my head like "mm-hm okay mom, it's so cute how you don't even know what's cool."

and as I sat in the driver's seat of my mom-car, with Isabelle politely leaving me to ponder the whereabouts of my N' Sync and Backstreet Boys CD collection, a hypothetical airplane dragged a hypothetical banner in front of my face stating:


ahhh my HECK.  It's happened!  My kid nods her head and politely doesn't tell me how One Direction are all doing the solo thing now but it's cute that I know their name.. and then she told me about all the drama that happened when some famous guy I've never heard of just broke up with somebody, like Ariana Grande or something and how everybody was so upset about it?  I literally don't even know who these people are..

truthfully I have no idea about any of the cool stuff any more.. and I blame this on the fact that the currently famous people like Justin Bieber and what's that adorable little latino girl used to be on Disney channel and now she wears sexy make up and flings her wet hair around and strips half naked in music videos?) but all of those famous kids? THEY ARE 12! And why would I actively stalk 12 year olds whose parents let them dress like that when I could alternatively stalk relatable adults, like Britney Spears who's just a mom keeping it real on Instragram??  When I heard that Justin Bieber song that talks about how some girl uses his name to get in to all the cool clubs, I was like "K cutie pie, let's not pretend that you and your schoolyard girlfriend are even old enough to get into a club.. *rolls eyes* fairly certain your balls haven't even dropped yet."  Well I was so amused by his silly fibs about getting into clubs that I googled it, and he is 22! How is this CHILD only 4 years younger than I am?!? 

I'm basically a grandma.

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Tuesday, April 5

hey babe

hi my little wiggle ninja!

we are in the last 2 days of the second trimester.. final countdown begins now!  I am feeling more and more ready to meet you!  it is overwhelming sometimes, but pregnancy is genius in that it gives us just as much as quickly as we can handle it.  preparation for a baby is no cake walk, mentally, physically, buying all the baby things, but I think we are given just enough time to adapt without falling all the way apart.

well, most of the time it feels bearable. I've let myself feel a little panicked a couple times, but I think that's normal.

I watched daddy's face like a creeper this morning while he was still asleep and just waking up, and imagined how much you will look like him when you first open your eyes every morning.  I am so excited to see what color your hair is, since daddy had so much blond hair and I had so much dark hair.  I always wonder what color your eyes are going to be, and whose toes you got :)  your little home in my belly expanded into my ribcage in the last week or so, and if I get my position wrong or crunch the wrong way, it feels like my lungs are too squashed to take in air!  I can usually stretch and poke you and make a little more space, but the first time I felt your little legs inside my ribs was a little surprising!  I can only imagine how uncomfortable this is going to get before it's all said and done, but I'm okay with whatever happens to me just to get you here healthy and happy.

my cravings aren't specific all the time like some mamas' are, just once in a while, but I still really love spicy spicy food, and have been eating probably way too much yogurt. it allllways sounds good. yesterday we had yogurt for breakfast, with lunch, and for an afternoon snack.  at this rate I'll have to get a cow and start making yogurt at home to keep up with the demand.  I love that pregnancy has a way of making health and wellness such a huge priority so quickly, too. Now I look at everyday items I used to not even notice, like plastic bags and water bottles, and think of all the endocrine-disrupting chemicals that could be lurking there!  (I know, I roll my eyes when I say stuff like this too)  The children of people my age are the first generation in hundreds of years not expected to live to be older than their parents, and that is awful!  it's a little unavoidable that our water and air and food are becoming more and more poisonous, because the world just keeps expanding and advancing, and with growth comes waste and easier, cheaper, less wholesome ways of doing just about everything.. but it makes me feel better to take small steps in reducing the toxins we expose our family to at home as much as possible.

we are starting to collect more and more little things for you!  blankets, and little plush toys for your room, I ordered your carrier the other day, your yiaya and papa got us the glider/sleeper that I've been wanting, and I'm so excited to set it up I might have to let your stuffed puppy take it for a test drive.  pretty please do mama the biggest favor ever and don't hate it and scream every time we lay you down in it?  you can hate the binkies, and scream when we put socks on you, or anything else, but please don't hate this giant expensive unnecessary swing that I just love! I probably just jinxed us sooo bad, huh? well, I guess we'll find out soon enough. :)

I'm feeling very confident about the remainder of our pregnancy, and labor and delivery.  Even though there's no way of knowing exactly what it will feel like, or how exactly you'll be born, I'm certain my mind and body are capable of this, and your little body knows exactly what to do, too.  all my hours and years of practicing meditation and mindfulness have taught me that our minds have the most amazing and powerful ability of transporting us anywhere and overcoming any type of discomfort or stress, and I believe that remaining calm and confident and breathing, and having daddy there to help me get back on track when I lose focus or start to panic or stop my controlled breathing, will help us have a peaceful birth, no matter how it ends up playing out.  I think the next few months I will continue preparing, and start educating myself about what to expect for myself  (and my hormones, ohhh my..), and for you and your body the first couple months after you're born -- that's the part that I feel the least prepared for, but all in good time, I'm sure.

love you, little one.  I just adore this adventure we're on together.

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Monday, March 28


hi baby,

it broke my heart to learn that tiny babies cry while they're still in their mommy's tummy.  soundlessly, because you have no air, but the movements and brainwaves are the same as a baby crying earthside.  you are growing so quickly -- does it hurt?  is that what makes you cry?  I wish more than anything I could keep you from hurting or crying, but like it always does, life brutally reminded me this past week that pain and crying are necessary for all of us to grow and change.
I can always tell when I'm growing.  Not literal growing, although I'm doing a lot of that too lately, but figurative growing.  because it hurts, and I squirm, and I fight it, and fidget and writhe around like a pathetic little flounder, and I resist it so frantically that I start to fall apart.  change can be harsh and uncomfortable, especially when it's fast and hard. ask any teething child. or pregnant lady. :) I'm finding that the physical growth of pregnancy is nothing compared to the psychological adjustment.

and pregnancy ain't no etch-a-sketch.  this is one doodle that can't be un-did, Homeskillet. (10 points if you can name that movie.) (and not that I want to undo my doodle, just slow it way, way, wayyyyy down. haha)

philip reminded me the other day to stop 'awfulizing' everything and I almost snapped back "I'm not awfulizing, I'm being realistic." but then I thought about it and our whole society tends to focus on the awful potential, and not the wonderful.  I have been totally guilty of predominantly thinking about all the barf and poop and noise and cost and inconvenience of having a baby -- I'm terrified of the post-partum period, and what having a baby might do to the relationship that I value more than anything, and I have no idea how to raise a human. But I've totally forgotten to think about the way a baby looks at you and touches your cheek while they're being rocked and fed, and I can't even begin to imagine the way my own baby might look at me. and maybe, just like pregnancy, post-partum will be completely different and not nearly as miserable as I imagine.  and I kind of feel like I project how terrible I know it's going to be to keep people from offering up unsolicited words of warning.  but we even teach our kids to awfulize the things they so look forward to, telling them to enjoy childhood now because being an adult and going to work and paying bills and driving in traffic sucks.  but does it? not really! paying bills is not any more sucky than having your parents tell you what to do all day long, and I'll take traffic any day to only being able to go as far as the end of the street.  we are taught from a young age to almost be ashamed when life is so good that you can't stop smiling about it..  that talking about how well something is going is 'bragging'  but is it, really? I think we all could use a little more loud obnoxious positivity.  I cannot wait to see philip napping on the couch with our baby on his chest, just the two of them breathing together.  It's going to be amazing to see my baby's squinting swollen perfect little eyes for the first time, or to watch him learning to walk, stumbling around with his arms out for balance like a baby-zombie, with the sweet expression his daddy has, and probably running into stuff just like I do.  I can't wait to see him get excited about something that the rest of us take for granted, like a potato bug, and then pick it up with pudgy baby fingers and put it in his slobbery mouth to see what it tastes like, wrinkling his nose when he isn't sure about potato bugs anymore.  certainly these little things will make all the figurative and literal stretching worth it.

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when I was in third grade, I packed my mom's old pink floral carpet bag with a few changes of underwear, 3 packs of graham crackers, a jar of peanut butter, a washcloth and a couple books.  I remember wondering if I should be concerned by how much empty space the bag had left, with the peanut butter jar rolling all over the place, but even so, I opened my window determined to run away, because that was the only realistic solution I could see to my problems.  I decided that that night was my last straw and I couldn't take it anymore, and I was going to show my mom once and for all how wrong she was.  So I climbed into my window-well and stared at my half-filled suitcase and that dumb window-well wall that was too high for me to climb over for an hour, going back and forth over the pros and cons of carrying my escape to fruition.  after a while I couldn't even remember why I was so mad in the first place, but it had to have been for a probably damn good reason!  that was the first of several run away attempts, and many hundreds of times where my initial fight or flight response would result in an internal conversation that always ends in ceasing the fighting or flight-ing, and going to bed, resolving to try again tomorrow -- and if it didn't work out tomorrow, well I would definitely run away then. 

I have been so uptight lately watching my entire life morph so quickly into something I can't confidently say I know how to handle.  The tiniest things have been making me feel like I'm about to break down and go pregnant-Godzilla stomping through the whole town destroying everything and everyone in sight, and every once in a while I have to have that internal conversation where I look at my insufficiently and not seriously packed bag and realize I have no place to go I would actually rather be anyway, and go over the pros and cons a hundred times and then go to bed and try again the next day instead of getting on a plane and running away from step-parenthood because I already feel overwhelmed by the idea of parenting my own kid, let alone giving all my patience to somebody who already has a mom.

They always show you how beautiful and peaceful a glowing pregnant woman is, but they don't tell you that when you thought you would be glowing, you actually will have days that you won't recognize yourself or your life at all.  all the work and struggle and effort I have put in to defining who I am and what my direction is over the last twenty-something years has been tossed on it's head.  suddenly it doesn't really matter what I think my importance is. putting all my effort into the efficiency and ease with which I can handle life and stress and work and family suddenly seems selfish and insignificant. 

it's no longer about how comfortable I am, and my job is no longer to make sure I am keeping myself happy and successful -- but just happy and successful enough to be an okay mom.  I keep thinking that if I am grown up enough to make a baby, then I must be grown up enough to stop worrying so much about myself. And some times it's easy to feel like this would be a drop less difficult without another kid's feelings to consider.  but would it, really? probably in some ways, and probably not in others.  going from Rachel Bradley to kinda mom to real mom, and this reversal of priorities is a hard and very real subconscious pill to swallow some days.  but, like they say, change is the only constant.  and if it's a good one, it probably will make you look around for the nearest exit at times. oy it's overwhelming and annoying, but I know, I know to try it again tomorrow and see what happens.  in the morning, or maybe after a few hundred mornings, this won't feel like such a big deal and I'll wonder why I was ever so worried. and be damn glad I didn't run away and try to live on graham crackers and peanut butter, even on those days when it feels like my only option.

cheers to keeping on when you don't think you can, and changing.. even if it hurts sometimes.  and believing that everything is unfolding exactly as it should.

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