Friday, July 31, 2009

I Broke the Butter Dish and Other Confessions of Late Pregnancy

Yes, I'm the one who broke the butter dish. And the last of the glasses that Derrick and Kendra gave us. And one of our few remaining IKEA stoneware bowls. I'm always clumsy during pregnancy. Well, I'm fairly clumsy all the time. Something about the hormones and the physical changes of pregnancy just exacerbates it.

But strangely, I have felt anything but clumsy this pregnancy. Being pregnant this time around has been pure bliss. I feel beautiful, divine, big, powerful, capable, joyful, grateful beyond reckoning. It may be because this is likely my last chance to experience pregnancy. It may be because I am keenly aware of so many around me who are yearning to be pregnant, or whose pregnancies are truly difficult. But somehow I have been able to abide in each moment of this experience, to cherish it for what it is, to revel in this partnership with the divine in creating a body to house a precious spirit.

I laugh at the less-than-stellar moments of pregnancy: the now cumbersome belly, the ridiculous round-ligament pain, the multiple trips to the bathroom (some coming less than 5 minutes apart), the hips that hurt in the morning and leave me walking like an old lady. And then I cherish them too. When will I ever feel this again? Even the pain and the discomfort are precious. They are teachers, reminders of how alive I am, how fortunate I am to be a mother, how worthwhile the fruits of this short season will be, how short this season truly is.

I think it is also a blessing to have a summer baby. I visit my garden in the mornings to tend and weed and water and harvest, the warmth of the sun radiating through me. The squatting and the bending and the reaching are wonderful preparation for my physical body. The widely opening flowers, soon to be ripe with fruit, are a comfort and companion to my mother-soul. The effortless green and growth are nourishment to my spirit and a gentle example of our equal needs, the garden and I, for nourishment and tender care.

In my favorite birth book, Birthing From Within, there is a powerful exercise. It is one I teach my BFW classes and doula clients. It is the process of choosing one's Deepest Question. Like affirmations, it is a way of bringing mind and body into congruence. Even more powerful, to my mind. In asking the question over and over, we invite ourselves to live the answer. And as I live the answer now and the next moment and the next moment, I can know with surety that I will still be living my answer as I give birth and learn to mother a new child.

My question through the latter half of this pregnancy has been this:

How am I opening to this moment?
Each time I ask this again, I feel myself crack open just a little wider. I feel my heart open, my mind open, my eyes open, my hands open. I feel myself opening to and embracing the joy, the humor, the aching hips, the gentle nudges of my baby each morning, the nervousness about having five children, the breaking butter dishes. I am opening to all of the possibilities this particular birthing adventure might take, to the love and kindness of friends and family and strangers who are eager to share in this experience, to the wonder in my children's eyes as they marvel over my hee-uuuge tummy, the adoration and devotion of my dear husband. I am claiming and embracing it all, without apology, with an inkling that I just might be one of the most blessed women in existence right now.

My preparation for Coco's birth was an exercise in trust, a warrior-like need for battle readiness, almost an existential crisis. (I frequently pull myself into the-chicken-or-the-egg type discussions about this. Was Coco's birth my most intense because I was so intense about preparing for it, or did my spirit know how desperately I needed that intense preparation for the phenomenal experience to come?)

This experience has been so incredibly different. It has been one of curiosity, gentleness and steady, calm assurance. Perhaps I am living the calm of the warrior. Coco's birth taught me that I am made of tougher stuff than I ever imagined. Perhaps my spirit really knows what's coming and I'm in for an easier ride this time.

Either way, I'm ready. Open. Grateful.

I'm in no hurry to part with this little one, to end this treasured experience. But I feel the end coming soon. And when it comes, I will open body, mind and spirit and let my little one come from my body to my arms.

And the opening will have only begun.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Our Time Amongst the Goblins

Last weekend we went with some of JDub's siblings to camp in Goblin Valley. We had a ball. What a fun, magical place! It was hot, but not nearly as hot as we had anticipated because of some good cloud cover and even some rain.

My early risers had a grand time playing in the morning. We went on a little hike and played in the dirt at our camp. I love how Scud is all arms and legs right now.

Kaitybean and Scud were fearless climbers. This shot does not give nearly enough perspective. They were really up there!

Here's me, goddess of the rain, in the actually Valley of Goblins. We were playing commando and I was, um, something. Basically the one who got to count and didn't have to run and climb all over.

Cute, fun people in a cave at the wall. Mashuga and Coco are on the left. JDub's brother and wife on the right and his youngest brother's fiance in the middle.

Happy, happy, happy...

JDub enjoyed his Vibram 5-finger shoes while here. Like being barefoot, except for the barefoot part.

A couple of cuties and a very pregnant weirdo.

By the time we were done, Rusty was EXHAUSTED! What this picture doesn't show is the major shaking the boys are getting as she pants and pants and pants. She was pretty hot. We gave her water while we were exploring but she still drank a good half gallon when we were done.

Rusty wasn't the only tired one. Though if you'd asked Coco at this moment whether or not he was tired, he would have said no. Ha! He slept soundly the entire 4+ hour ride home.

All in all a successful camping trip. I only had to walk the 50 yards or so to the bathrooms about 4 times during the night. Didn't sleep much. But, I don't sleep much at home these days. So might as well not sleep somewhere beautiful, eh?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Conversations With Coco

Coco cracks me up lately.

Among other things, I love it how he always comes to me crying and blurts out "Daddy (or Kaitybean or Mashuga or Scud) day me NO!" Telling Coco no is one of the worst things you can possibly do to him.

He has also started experimenting with pitting mommy and daddy against each other.

Like today for instance. We got home from the library and he wouldn't get out of the car.

"Coco, it's time to get out and go inside," I told him.
"No. It not. I tay," he calmly replied.
"No, Coco. It's time to come in the house!"
"Daddy day me yes! I tay!"

Then, just a few minutes ago I sat him at the table with a bowl of ice cream (mainly because it is the only food we have left in our house right now). Moments later, I look over to see him flinging the ice cream across the table and on his chair.

"Coco! I gave you ice cream so you could eat it, not fling it around the kitchen!"

I promptly took it away and came back to the table with a washcloth.

Coco looked at me sheepishly and said very calmly, "Mommy day me no."
"That's right. I told you no. Is that because you made a wrong choice?"
"Um. Yes. I dorry. It be otay. You no be mad."

How could anyone possibly be mad after that?

I love this kid.

Read This. No, I'm Serious. Go read it now.

I'm planning to have my list of books to read up by tomorrow.

Until then, you should read one woman's experience with reading some of these books, particularly Your Best Birth by Ricki Lake, Abby Epstein and Jacques Moritz.

I saw a lot of myself in her. (Except for the fact that she's hilariously irreverent in a way I could never dream of being.) But a lot of the change in ideas that have come on as I've taken the time to read and educate myself about birth are very similar.

Here's a quote:

"And then, oh God, the worst thing happened. And I didn't even see it coming, but I'm sitting there reading that book, gritting my teeth, shaking my head when all of a sudden it started to make sense. I started to see just how medicalized labor and birth have become in America AND THERE GOES MY WORLD VIEW.
Here's a link to the whole post: Dooce's Labor Story, Part One.

It's worth the read, if nothing else because she's so stinking funny and entertaining through the whole thing.

Monday, July 13, 2009

A Fantastic Website For Expectant Mothers

Rixa at Stand and Deliver just posted a link to a FANTASTIC website for expectant mothers.

They cover Lamaze's 6 Healthy Birth Practices with videos and print materials:

1. Let labor begin on its own.
2. Walk, move around, and change positions throughout labor.
3. Bring a loved one, friend, or doula for continuous support.
4. Avoid interventions that are not medically necessary.
5. Avoid giving birth on your back, and follow your body’s urges to push.
6. Keep your baby with you—it’s best for you, your baby, and breastfeeding.

The website is Mother's Advocate. Definitely worth a visit if you're expecting a baby, will be soon or are just interested in learning more.

And I'm about ready to get started on my pregnancy and birth series, as promised, with a list of some of the very best birth and pregnancy books. Stay tuned!