Mi Familia!!

Mi Familia!!
Roscoe, Sophia, & Emily(across top) and then I think you can figure out the rest!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The holiday season

Hooray!
The holidays are over!!
This might not be a popular stand, but it is definitely my favorite part of the whole season... when they are over!!

I actually enjoy the holiday season quite a bit, but there is always so much to do and never enough time to do it all.

Our holiday season really starts in October. We have more birthdays in two weeks than we have for the rest of the year (for now) in our small unit, not to mention the addition of some close and important extended family mixed in... so we go from one birthday to the next, to the next, (you get the point times 5), ending with Halloween (and homemade costumes), and then the hubster's birthday the next day.

We hit major harvest sometime from the middle to the end of the month of October and running through November, which at my house means lots of canning.
I truly enjoy harvest time, because I LOVE to reap the rewards from a long hard season of love, work, and care in the garden, but the nature of the whole thing is that you must preserve your harvest immediately or you loose a lot of the goodness in a surprisingly short amount of time. At the same time I usually make jams, jelly, and fruit butters with local harvests from the farmer's market, too.

Then of course we have Thanksgiving. It is one of my favorite celebrations, but as our family has grown, not surprisingly, the family pressures have also grown. There tends to be a little bit of drama about who will be coming over to our house. I prefer to have just the immediate family, but my husband wants to have all of his family over too... and although the holiday is about family and sharing, the truth is that his brother and the accompanying clan stress me out -A LOT!! They have a complete different set of ideas about how to live and I would rather enjoy my favorite people than pretend to graciously welcome people I don't enjoy, into my home. I know that it sounds terrible, but there is a long bit of history behind my feelings... and the bottom line is we have a full house on our own. The other part of the situation is that if we don't host them, then they don't do anything on their own. Neither his mother or his brother and family participate unless it is a free from commitment, expense, or hassle day at our house... which makes me feel like somehow we are responsible for every ones happiness. To me if you can't be bothered to do it for yourself (or even offer a little help to us) then why should that be our responsibility? I mean the addition of 7 more people is more than double our own family unit, even after the baby is born. We always make a way to have a dinner, but I buy things for weeks in advance so that we can absorb the expense of this one meal. We don't go crazy with dozens of things, just your basic meal, but we have a pretty tight budget every week, so it does need some tightening both before and after the big day.

Then of course after Thanksgiving, we have about 3 weeks until Christmas, which is not very long at all... every. single. year! We go to a Solstice Party every year (around the 21rst) where all the adults make homemade gifts for the children and having three kids means that I have to make three gifts. I love to make things from the heart and every year I use it as an excuse to make something I have never made before. This is a blessing and a curse because it is a way to flex my creative streak with a definite deadline(which I need because I often have two or three things going on at once) and also a thrill to imagine and then create something from my head and have it work out (or not) pretty much like I wanted it too. At the same time, I, of course, am making things for my kids and my niece for Christmas, and it can get down to the wire and does pretty much every year.

Add in a little bit of stress, worry, and drama from being pregnant (where for me EVERYTHING is more difficult to achieve, especially with the placental issues and bleeding I had early on this time around) and you have about two and a half months of a little too much (things to do, things to make, family stress, family arguments) with a few too few resources (time, money, patience, and sometimes compassion).

So now that I have purged all that negativity out... and can now have a few deep, audible sighs of relief, let me tell you my favorite parts of the last three months! Because although I didn't intend it to be so, I realize I just whined and complained about the whole season, and the truth is that some of my favorite parts of the entire year are rolled right up inside of the whole thing. I guess that sometimes I wish that there was just a little more breathing room in between it all...

The best times:
This year we had a ridiculously warm Fall so I had a secondary pepper and tomato harvest, so I made twice as much Hot Pepper Jelly and can give some to all of my neighbors... which makes me feel all warm and squishy inside.

We had a dual birthday party for the two little ones this year and made THE COOLEST spider cupcakes with licorice and black sugar, which were a huge success and really fun at the same time!

I made a spider costume for Sophia(yes there was a running theme here...) that had been in the works inside my head for over two years... and it came out pretty flippin' awesome! She LOVED it and I'm betting Roscoe will be a spider next year (score! pre-done homemade awesome costume for next year!! yay!)

This year, although it didn't go the way I had hoped (with over a month advance warning, and grown up straightforward conversation) we had only our own immediate family for Thanksgiving and we had a very nice stress free day. Well, almost, until the turkey took three hours longer than expected and I had a slight starving pregnant woman meltdown for about the last 15 minutes before dinner was done... and trust me if other people HAD been here during said meltdown many an unfortunate word would have been spoken that couldn't have been taken back and probably would have made family tensions MUCH, MUCH worse!! : P

This year I made a stuffed bear and a bunny for two of my gifts, and my daughter(the 14 yr old) made a matching bracelet and necklace set for the other child. When it came time to exchange gifts my little girl, who got the bunny, JUMPED up and down and hugged it and made general merriment, which was absolutely the coolest reward for the time and energy put into this hand sewn item!! AND my husband saw the response which, I think from the smile on his face, finally gave him a glimpse of why I do this every year! (sadly, he doesn't understand the big deal about hand making anything... food, gifts or otherwise... which is one of the many differences in our thinking that causes a fair amount of chaos in our everyday lives together.)

Our kids had a great Christmas!
Santa managed to get them their little hearts desires... a cool wooden cash register that Sophia has had her eye one since before last Christmas, a beautiful handmade soft doll for Roscoe, which he is already very attached to and has named Kitty(?), and a couple of gorgeous handmade aprons for Emily(she loves being in the kitchen with me and is an excellent baker!).
We have been feeling the economy crunch this year... Al works in the restaurant business which of course falls off when people have less money... which means fewer hours per paycheck which makes a big difference to our budget. As long as the kids were taken care of, we were not too worried about whether or not we would have presents under the tree. To make matters worse right before Christmas this year, Al had a small accident because of an awful ice storm and needed to replace his two front tires... it had to be done for safety's sake, which took away any little wiggle room that we had, but somehow that sneaky Santa managed to put a present under the tree for me this year! Al managed to get me a sewing machine that I had had my eye on that was on a super holiday sale of 50% off! I was completely surprised and immensely grateful, if not a little guilty because we had said no presents. I had gotten him a box of his favorite candy(Ferrero Confections variety pack...YUM!!), but it obviously didn't have the same effect!
So now I have a hundred and two projects floating around in my head for my new machine! I am a self taught crafter. I don't use patterns and I hand sew everything I do, because I didn't have a machine, but also because I feel a little intimidated by it. This is a very simple little machine. It only has a few different stitches and not a lot of bells and whistles... but it is PERFECT for me... because anything more exciting and I would be too scared to use it!

I have been having a hard time trying to post pictures on blogger lately, but I welcome any of you to look at my recent belly shots up on Flickr.
I hope that you have all had a fabulous holiday and I apologize for my lack of attendance lately. Things have been just a touch overwhelming around these parts... did I mention that I am 2/3 of the way through this pregnancy and fighting crazy nesting urges on top of everything else that has been going on? Why is it that I never notice how dirty the top 3 feet of our 12 foot tall kitchen walls are when I am not huge, off balance, and dangerous on the top of a ladder? Or why my hormones dictate that every single floor board MUST be spotless before my MIL comes over for Christmas Eve celebrations? I am not a neat freak usually... I don't have the time or inclination to dust everything every week (HA! even every month usually), but the hormones, they are a powerful force to reckon with and at the very least my house is much tidier than usual right now!! Which we all know is a good thing in a round about way since no one will be doing it again for the next 6 months or so!! : )

Alright, I wish you all a very Happy New Year because, good intentions aside, I will probably not post again until after it has arrived! Although I might surprise you because New Year's Eve is also my birthday and I like to let everyone know ( I am decidedly needy as far as making up for crappy birthdays of yore)... but just in case...

I hope that you all had a lovely holiday and are basking in the relief of the end of the crazy busy season. I wish you all the very best in the coming new year and hope that you can all look back and see many things that made you smile and be grateful, to be who you are, where you are, headed in the direction that you are going!

Today I am grateful to have made it through another crazy 3 month long holiday season in one piece!
I am thankful to have so many happy memories to look back on over the last year.
I am thankful to have such bright prospects of joy and fulfillment looking towards the new year.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Good news!

In this crazy time of year there is always SOOO much to be done!
I find it hard to have time to breath, let alone post all the things I'd like to be sharing with you all!

In the last 36 hours, one by one, about 12 hours apart, all three of my kids have come down the the super yuck. There have been copious amounts of bodily fluids to deal with and as I type my own belly is rumbling and bubbling in a way that makes me a little bit nervous, BUT I had to come on and share a brief bit of terribly good news.

I had my follow up sonogram yesterday. We got a quick glimpse of our busy little nugget and everything is still looking good. The baby isn't huge, but is a good average size right now. At this point in my last two pregnancies my babies were all pretty darn big and I was measuring bigger than dates(dramatically so with my last), but I am perfectly content with an average size baby! I don't mind not walking around with a three month old size fetus, still growing INSIDE of me for the last three months! : )

The very best thing that we saw(or didn't see) was that the blood clot that I had before has been completely reabsorbed. HOORAY!! That means that there isn't likely to be any active bleeding at this point and takes away a BIG risk factor for pre-term labor. I couldn't be happier. Well, it would have been awesome to have had the placenta completely re-attach as well, but it has not gotten any worse, so that is a great sign. I feel very blessed that as of right now I only have a minimal risk for preterm labor and that the baby is growing well. I will go back again at 30 weeks (6 weeks from now) to check on things again and see how the baby is progressing. I also will go to midwife appointments every two weeks starting next month but that is routine. If at any point I seem to not be growing or the baby's movement changes, I will need to check on things, but all of that is pretty routine stuff too.

Al and I took a tour of the hospital that we will go to in the case of any emergency, and although it did give me a bit a panic attack seeing all the machines in all the rooms... if I need to be there then it will be a good thing that they will be prepared for whatever my baby might need, so it was still a comfort in a strange way. The rooms were nice and big and every room had an attached room for the baby with equipment for emergencies. So, although the last place I want to be is in a hospital, needing that kind of equipment, if I do end up there, they will be well prepared for whatever might happen.

My belly is really not feeling good, so I must depart, but I wanted to thank all of you who were sending positive thoughts and prayers our way. They have been felt and heard and there has been dramatic healing, so far! I am so thankful to you all and hope that amid the frantic pace of the holidays you are all sneaking some moments here and there to enjoy this special time.

Today I am grateful that my baby is growing and thriving.
I am thankful for all my bloggy buddies who send love, thoughts, and prayers our way, THANK YOU ALL!!

P.S. I tried to upload a picture of the growing tummy tonight but either my internet or blogger is WAY TOO SLOW... so I'll try again next time... sorry! : )

Monday, December 7, 2009

How to make Kimchi

Kimchi!
Glorious, tasty, stinky kimchi.
If you have never eaten kimchi than you must be warned it has an extremely strong flavor. It is garlicky and spicy and it WILL give you dragon breath. It will also stink up the kitchen (and quite possibly the house) for a little while when you eat it, too. Also note to self and any other pregnant woman... even if you LOVE kimchi with a burning hot crazy passion, it is probably NOT a good idea to eat half a jar of it by itself (or even wrapped up in some seaweed) in one sitting. You will tend to get a little gassier than usual and your husband will probably not appreciate the hours of stinky burps... especially if he doesn't like it in the first place!! Not that I would have any recent experience with that being the delicate flower that I am... ahem... : )

Now before I get started I have to share a link to this video on youtube that I watched before I did this myself. The recipe that I used is basically hers with the addition of carrots and I substituted daikon radish for a korean radish. If you are serious about making kimchi and feel a little intimidated just watch her video a few times and you will see how easy it actually is... that's what I did! : )


Alrighty let's get started!



ingredients:

2 heads napa cabbage
1 cup kosher salt
10 cups water


8 green onions
2 daikon radish
3 medium carrots


1 fuji apple

1 head garlic
1/2 large white onion
2 inch piece of ginger root

7 tbsp fish sauce
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup Korean chili powder
(you can find this (as well as the fish sauce) at an Asian market, it is a must and is NOT the same as other chili powders!)





Step 1:
Quarter cabbage, cut out hard core at an angle like the first two cabbages in the picture below.
Half each section again and then chop into bite sized pieces, approximately 1.5-2 inch squares.


Step 2:
Using a large bowl (or in my case the lid of a cake holder) make a salt water solution with a 10:1 water to salt ratio. Depending on the temperature the cabbage will need to soak in this solution for anywhere from 5-10 hours. (hey, I said it was easy... not fast!) I checked mine every hour or so, swished it all around, and ended up soaking mine for about 4 hours, it was a really warm summer day(and we have no central air!). If I were to make it now it would take much longer because our kitchen also has no heat, and it's cold in there!!


Step 3:
Chop green onions on a bias into 1.5-2 inch pieces(you don't want your pieces too thick so if your onion has a lot of shoots and a thick section where they all come out, just half it there).
Peel and julienne your carrot and radish into 1.5-2 inch pieces in length and set aside.

ok, confession, I don't need this picture, but I just thought it was a cool picture of julienned radish... have I previously mentioned my ability to be easily amused? : )



here's a shot of where we are so far(with some beautiful tomatoes from the garden in the background... man do I miss summer already!!), the picture is missing the white onion in the bowl for the paste ingredients... sorry!

Step 4:

Roughly chop the white onion, apple, garlic, and ginger root (all peeled). Put in a blender or processor with the fish sauce and blend until you have a smooth paste. In a large bowl add paste, Korean chili powder, and sugar together. Most recipes I saw used a LOT more sugar, but when you use the apple you don't need much, which was one reason I liked this recipe.


Step 5:

Stir julienned vegetables into paste and set aside until your cabbage is ready to go. The paste will be thick, but it will loosen up as the veggies soften and the cabbage has been added.

Step: 6

Drain cabbage and rinse at least three times. I rinsed mine about four, maybe five times. Every time you rinse them you remove a little more of the salt, so taste it after three rinses and test for your own preference... don't lose too much of the salt though because it will effect the flavor and possibly the fermentation process(?)...

Step 7:

Add the well drained cabbage into the large bowl with the prepared paste and vegetables. Use protective gloves to keep from staining and also burning your hands. Also be aware that the bowl you use will most likely be stained for awhile so keep that in mind when selecting it. I used a big old plastic one, the cabbage loses a lot of bulk while soaking in the brine, so you won't need as big a bowl as you did in the beginning(thank goodness for my cake lid!!)

When you are adding the cabbage to the paste make sure that you are massaging it in well, the paste needs to completely envelope all the cabbage and vegetables. It will be very saucy, but the moisture will lesson as time goes on (or not depending upon how fermented you like your kimchi!). Traditionally, the cabbage is not cut into small pieces but the quartered cabbages are kept intact and the paste is then put in between each leaf and wrapped in a super cool way, but it takes up more space to store it that way, and seemed a little more intimidating to me. I used pint sized canning jars to store mine, but you can use any tight sealed container. I wouldn't want to use plastic, but you can if you are planning on eating it right away. It is also traditionally put in clay pots and buried for weeks or months(that's how my mom learned how to make it back in the 70's).


You can eat the kimchi as it is and refrigerate it right away, or you can leave it out for a few days to start the fermentation process. I like it both ways. My batch made about 8 pint jars. I gave a few jars away, I refrigerated a few, and I left a few out to ferment. If you do choose to leave them out, put them in a dark area, in a container because as they ferment they will start to bubble and leak. You will know when they have started to ferment because you can watch the bubbles move up the sides of the jar. It's pretty fun to watch! : ) It can make quite a mess if you aren't prepared for it, though! I fermented some of mine for 2 days, and the rest for 4 days. I liked them ALL. The longer they fermented the more tingle on the tongue, and the more pungent the smell and flavor. I also noticed that the more fermented the less wet they seemed to be, as well. You can play around with it and figure which you like the best! I think my very favorite was the 2 day fermented... but the fresh was really good too... and so was the 4 day stuff... hmmm... I really can't decide!

Well, I hope that someone out there tries to actually make some kimchi and I will see if I can spread the kimchi love! I'm telling you once you try it and like it, it will become a never ending craving! : ) Enjoy!




Today I am thankful for my early introduction into the wonderful world of kimchi! My kids think it smells really good, but it is a little spicy for them just yet. I hope that someday they too will become addicted to this tasty, healthy treat! : )

Friday, December 4, 2009

Contemplations and Kimchi

contemplative - 2 dictionary results
con⋅tem⋅pla⋅tive  /kənˈtɛmplətɪv, ˈkɒntəmˌpleɪ-, -tɛm-/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [kuhn-tem-pluh-tiv, kon-tuhm-pley-, -tem-]


–adjective 1. given to or characterized by contemplation: a contemplative mind.
–noun 2. a person devoted to contemplation, as a monk.
Origin:1300–50; <>

I am never so contemplative as when I am pregnant. Contemplative was a word that was used to describe me, by one of my favorite English teachers in college... and he never knew me pregnant!

I feel so deeply connected to the earth, the universe, and some infinite knowledge that I could never start to fully understand. It truly is a miracle, so many things have to go just right to get the end result that we all hope for. Just being intimately involved in a tiny part of this amazing cycle of life can be mind-boggling to me.

It is very personal to me, this whole incubation period. It is constantly on my mind, no matter what else I am doing. Unfortunately, along with this glorious connection to something much bigger than myself, I also feel a little less connected with the people I love. This feeling is noticed the most with the people I love the very most. I feel a little distant. It's not that I feel any less love for any of them.... I am just so very in tune with my body and the work that it is doing. This little human needs a lot to grow. And for better or worse, the entirety of that work here on this human realm is for me to do. It is an awesome responsibility... overwhelmingly so at times.

My very favorite pregnancy, by far, has been my first. I think about that often right now, because to be honest I just don't enjoy being pregnant as much right now. It has bothered me often during these last three because it makes me feel bad. It feels like I should enjoy this amazing thing that is happening through me. In the last few days, I think that I have finally figured out why. I enjoyed the first pregnancy so much more because I had nothing else in my life. I devoted every second to my baby and watching this miracle of life unfold, and not only was no one else hurt... there was no one else around to care. Now of course, I have many more people already deeply embedded in my everyday life. People who not only notice that I am more withdrawn, but that have come to depend on my "normal" personality traits. In my everyday life I have a lot to take care, as far the care and comforts of others. I am a natural mother, and usually thrive on being able to meet all the needs of my family. But right now, the internal "mothering" that I am doing feels much more at the forefront of my mind. When I am able to focus on myself I feel much more peaceful right now. It makes me feel selfish, but I honestly feel like it is a biological need to go into yourself to achieve this enormous goal of giving birth to a healthy child. I really struggled sharing it with Al the first time because he wanted to be such a big part of it... being his first time experiencing it. It is easier now because he does care and helps and does everything he can, but at this point realizes the best thing he can do is to help make me happy. The best thing that he can do is to support me, which I must say he really is making a strong effort to do. This time has been the best so far, actually. That is a pretty great bonus!! So I guess the question is: how do I deal with this new information.

I mean obviously, I want to be able to enjoy this period of time as much as I can. So right now that is my task... to figure out a way to get more personal time for myself, which will hopefully in turn make me a happier wife and Mama during the rest of this incredibly self-focused time. The biggest thing I keep telling my husband, who is probably struggling the most with my feelings of distance, is that this will be the last time we all have to deal with the crazy ups, downs, and in betweens of this fantastic journey. I am pretty sure that this will be our last... I thought that last time too... but changed my mind only a few months after Roscoe was born. This time I feel like this really could be our last... which of course means this is the last pregnancy for me. It makes me feel sad, and at the same time excited for this final chapter of this particular stage in my life as well as in our lives together as a family.

I have my follow up sonogram to check on how the placenta is doing on the 14th. I am feeling positive about things at this point. I have been giving myself about 30 minutes of focused meditation, prayer, and visualization every night since the first news. I am hopeful that this time we will find that either things are the same (and therefore not progressing in a negative way) or that it has healed. I will of course find out in a little over a week. I will let everyone know what the results are after I find out! : )

As for the second part of my title...

KIMCHI!
I love kimchi! My parents were stationed in Korea for about 2 years before my older sister was born (my mom spent most of her pregnancy overseas), and brought back the love of the culture, especially the food! My parents (more so my mom) were very open minded about food and trying to expose us kids to all different sorts of cuisines as we were growing up. We ate tofu, seaweed, Thai, Mexican, Korean, as well as what I always called my mom's Farm food, the likes of cow tongue soup and tripe (neither of which I liked then or now by the way! ... but mom always said we had to take a few bites before we were allowed to say we didn't like something!) right along with classics like meatloaf, pot roast, and homemade macaroni and cheese. My dad was in the army so we had friends from all different cultures. I think that one of the best gifts I was given as a child was exposure to so many different ways of living... and that all people had special ways of doing things, but we were all basically trying to achieve the same goals, as kid it seemed like that meant a happy and healthy family. I grew up very naive to the fact that many people are not as open minded as the people I grew up around. I am very grateful for that fact, I think it had a huge impact on the person that I have become today.

But back to the kimchi... I will sometimes goes years without it, but in the last few years I have wanted it more and more. It is very good for you. It is a fermented food, and it is considered a living food. It is chock full of vitamins and minerals and it is very low calorie, too! It does have a good amount of sodium content, but you can control how much if you make it yourself. It is pretty expensive to buy it often...and once you get hooked a small jar won't last long, sooo... Over the summer I embarked on a kimchi making adventure. I didn't have the time to blog about it then, but I knew that I might want to at some point so I took a bunch of pictures of everything... just in case! : )
So without further ado....

How to make your own Kimchi:

ok- I didn't intend for this to be a tease.. but I was just previewing my post and thought that this was already pretty lengthy. I just decided that I will make a new post just for the kimchi recipe and photos. The hubby is out with his Mama and I have some glorious alone time (and a crazy, manic, pregnant, no such thing as sleeping brain right now...) so I will work on it tonight and if it's not up tonight it will be tomorrow. promise!!

Today I am thankful that I may have figured out a way to enjoy this pregnancy a little more for the miracle that it is.

I am grateful that although he doesn't understand completely my husband is being incredibly supportive of me, even though I am different than what he is used to.

I am so grateful, as always, for my little dumplings... I know that they will think that all the change is worth it when they have an adorable drooly, poopy, sometimes crying but at some point smiling baby gazing back at them!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Acceptance and Unexpected News

Acceptance is a running theme for today's post.

I have accepted that I am really a bad blogger. I read often, but comment rarely, and I am lucky to get a post a month up lately, but I'm hoping that the people who read will keep reading anyway. (oh, and I welcome any of you to use the flickr link on the right to see some pictures of the past month or so of craziness... )

I am in the process of accepting the fact that my sweet, sweet boy has just turned two and that even my little angel will succumb to fits, tantrums, and the general chaos of toddler hood.

I am in the process of accepting that my dear Sophia will probably always need just a little more from me than I always have available for her... and that she is getting the very best of me everyday, and that is the most that I can do.

I am in the process of accepting that as incredible my oldest, Emily is, she is still a teenager going through the throws of hormones and change and painful growing up. That not only can I not shelter her from it, but that I don't want to, because as painful as it it is to watch, that is my job as her Mama. My job is to watch her try and sometimes fail, but be there to support her getting back up and trying again. It is my job to watch her love and get her heart broken, but be there for a shoulder to cry on and help her to know that she will love again, probably many more times with the same outcome. It is my job to watch her struggle to understand things that are difficult, to watch her realize that life is not fair, that the world can be hard, but that she can still be open and fair and giving anyway.

I am in the process of accepting that this pregnancy is amazing and has already given me so much. The knowledge that I have the capacity to love more, give more, be more than I was before I conceived. And that no matter what the outcome I am a better person for having experienced exactly what I have up until this point, and for as long as I am blessed with this continued life within me.

As of today I am 20 weeks.

I have made it halfway through this pregnancy. This would usually bring me some kind of comfort... but sadly last week when I went to my sonogram appointment I got some unexpected news. It wasn't the good kind.

First off, because I will be turning 35 at the end of next month (and about two months before the baby is due) I had to get genetic counseling... which was fairly unpleasant. The truth is that I do know quite a bit about the things that can go wrong, but personally, I don't do much testing because no matter what we would find out I wouldn't do anything differently. I already eat as well as I can, exercise, and follow the guidelines for pregnancy. I would never terminate a pregnancy because there was something wrong... even something really wrong, because at this point I am halfway through and it just doesn't fit into my personal belief system... that being said the DH and I had to sit through about 30 minutes of a geneticist telling us all the terrible things that could be going wrong and pressuring us to get an amnio, even though there are no big markers or any family history... but just because "well you know you are getting older now..." yes, thank you young chippy... I realize I am the ripe old age of 34 right now... please get me my walker... good lord... I'm 34!!!. Anyway, by the time we got to get the sonogram I was already full of a lot of information (mostly negative) and I was ready for the pleasure of seeing my healthy beautiful baby!

We did and the baby looks great! Healthy, right on target size-wise, a real mover and shaker just like all her siblings (oh, I am calling her a her but we don't actually know what sex the baby is... we like to wait for the surprise at the end of the journey!!). She actually gave the tech a pretty hard time, not wanting to show her face to check for a cleft lip... but eventually all the necessary shots were taken and all the organs look as though they are functioning well. There are 10 fingers and toes, a beautiful brain... just about perfect.

The baby is looking very good, but my placenta is not. I have been diagnosed with a circumvallante placenta, which basically means that the placenta is starting to pull away from my uterus in a circular manner. Instead of being 100% attached it is at about 80% right now. Because the placenta is a smart organ (like a liver) it is compensating for this by being thicker than a "normal" placenta. Both the detachment and the thicker placenta are strong indicators for low birth weight babies. Also because of this separation, I have a good size blood clot resting on top of my cervix right now. All of these things separately are strong indicators for pre-term labor. All of them together make the possibility much, much more likely.

Wow... it was nothing I was thinking I would hear. I usually run late with my babies, my big chubby babies. With the first I was induced 7 days post dates (7lbs 12 oz), the second was 15 days late(8lbs 10 1/2 oz), the third was 9 days late(9lbs 12 1/2 oz).... the thought of having a preemie or God forbid a baby too little to even survive never even crossed my mind... not even once... not until Monday that is.

The doctor said that everything has the possibility of being just fine, and in the same breath he told me that if anything happens in the next 6 weeks there is nothing to be done. I now have 5 weeks to what they call the cut off for viability... and my waiting has begun.

I have talked with a lot of people about this and they all had their own perspectives about the possibilities. The biggest thing that I have been struggling with is how to NOT think about the negative things that COULD happen and trying to put all my energy into the positive things that also COULD happen. I can't help but think about how hard it would be to lose this baby. The thought brings me to instant tears, it has already been such a crazy journey for us this time around, I already feel so much love.

I have been feeling better today about things because I spoke with one of my midwives(who just started at the birth center as a midwife, BUT was the nurse at my prior two births there) and she had a similar, but much more dire prognosis during her last pregnancy. Things did not turn out perfectly but the end result is a beautiful almost 5 year old daughter who came early, but now is just like the rest of her peers. It felt good to hear a real life situation, that although didn't have a perfect situation, turned out well in the end. AND, she gave me some perspective about where my stats are in the levels of badness... they are low level right now. Things might change, but for right now I have reason to hope, which is nice to know. She also told me how during the summer she had to catch 40 babies for her schooling, and that out of those she had several that were full term, average weight babies whose mothers also had circumvallante placentas, one of them, who never had a sonogram, went through the whole pregnancy none the wiser.... so really, truly things could turn out just fine. It is just a waiting game at this point.

I am not bleeding and haven't had bleeding since 11 weeks. If I do start to bleed, it will not be a good sign at all... but there's no reason to think that will definitely happen. It is possible for the blood clot to be reabsorbed, which would be amazing and take away one risk for pre-term labor. The baby's growth starts to become more of an issue much later on, around 28 weeks. By that time the placenta will have either healed itself or become much thicker which means it can impede the baby's growth. The possibility that the placenta could continue to detach is also very real. There is a wide spectrum of possibilities at this point, from going full term with a big healthy baby to having spontaneous placental abruption (complete detachment) at any given time, and everywhere in between those two extremes.

So, like I said the waiting has begun. I am praying and sending all my positive thoughts into myself for that precious little one to hear. I am eating as well as I can.... exercising daily (the doctor said it was good to keep as active as I feel comfortable with) ...trying to rest... although that has been kind of hard, I have been having a great deal of difficulty sleeping since Monday. But I am doing everything that I can everyday, and that is all that I can do.

The most difficult lesson for me to learn from any pregnancy, but it seems especially in this one, is that I am not the one in control. I have to let go and let what will happen, happen. Surrender is a difficult thing for me, but it is the only thing for me to do right now... so that is my ongoing goal.

Acceptance, surrender, and LOVE. I don't know what else to do.

Today I am thankful to have a healthy 20 week fetus moving and grooving inside of me as we speak (or type!).

I am grateful to have a supportive group of women around me to listen, teach, talk with, and support me through this trying emotional time.

I am grateful for every week, every day, every minute that I have with my baby and hope that there will be many more to come.

I am grateful for any thoughts, prayers, and positive energy that any of you have available to send my way! Thank you! : )

Monday, October 12, 2009

October used to be my favorite month...

Fall.
I LOVE Fall!
I love the cooler weather, the harvesting of all the work we've done over the summer in our garden, the fall treats... like everything pumpkin(pie, muffins, breads, butter, the list goes on and on...) and warm comforting drinks...
I can not tell you how much I enjoy watching the leaves change. It is, to me, the world reminding us that everything continually changes, and although we might have been enjoying the the phase we were in, we shouldn't mourn it's passing too much, because the next one has endless possibilities full of wonder, beauty, and joy as well!

When my husband and I got engaged, I knew right away that the wedding should be in October. October 16th was the date to be exact, the perfect time for a beautiful Fall wedding. The leaves are usually in their peak of brightness and variety of colors. The weather is cool, but often nice enough to have an outdoor ceremony. We booked a location within a local park with lots of trees, a good open area for the ceremony, and a farmhouse with a kitchen in the basement and a huge dance floor on the main floor. We never made it to our wedding, although we(my daughter, Al, and I) did go there that day and have our own little party to celebrate, because we eloped instead. We ran off to Las Vegas and got married on Leap Day 2004. I will never regret that decision for many reasons, but mostly because I am married to the love of my life and we have proven to ourselves that our life will be full of passion and sometimes somewhat rash but usually good decisions... but I do think about it still around this time of year. I will also never regret that we didn't get married in October because now it is the BUSIEST month in our whole year!
When we were pregnant with our first child her due date was actually October 14th the next year. She is a stubborn little thing (since birth) and waited until the 29th to join our family, just three days shy of her father's birthday on the first of November. Yes, she was actually 15 days late! She arrived on the very last day she could without having to be born in a hospital (you usually can't deliver at the birth center after 14 days postdates, but they gave me over the weekend because they knew how badly I didn't want to be in the hospital... and she came late that Saturday night). Our second child together had a due date of October 2nd or 3rd(how terrible that I don't actually remember!). He is much easier going by nature (since birth as well) and only decided to make us wait until the 12th. Apparently, January is a good(or bad depending on your perspective) month for fertility! I say this not only because we have two children in October, but because we also have my Aunt's birthday on the 8th, my grandmother on the 17th, my sister on the 22nd, a good friend on the 25th, and my husband on the first of November... ok not technically October by REALLY close... close enough to make this the absolute busiest birthday month of the year!!
So, when I stop and think about it, I realize that it is true that everything happens for a reason although you might not understand it at the time... if we had our anniversary in October it would get completely lost in the holiday madness that is my October now (because let's not forget Halloween right in between Sophia and Al, which requires ridiculous amounts of work and planning, if I am ever going to manage costume making into this incredibly hectic month!)!!

So, I still enjoy October, Fall, and all the things that are brought to mind during this time of year.. but now I enjoy them a little more in November... after Al's birthday and before Thanksgiving, when I have a little more time to actually relax and ponder them!

And on a personal note, I am doing much better than the last time that I posted. I am feeling much less morning sickness, thank goodness! I am also feeling as though I can enjoy my pregnancy a bit more and not feel quite as much worry, now that I am solidly into my second trimester. I still have days when I think about what may have been, but truthfully, I am so busy that I don't have much time to dwell right now. I am feeling pretty much at peace with what has happened and just feel grateful to be where I am now.

Today was my son's second birthday. It was hectic and crazy, but in a good way. We had a great day and he felt like a king for the day. Everywhere we went, he told everyone he could, that it was his birthday and being the handsome and fairly charming little man that he is, people were pretty kind and gracious with him and his somewhat overly enthusiastic announcements that "IT'S MY BIRTHDAY.... I TWO.... I TWO ON MY BIRTHDAY!!"
We all went to see the Toy Story double feature in 3D... fun, but a SERIOUS commitment to watching movies! I don't feel the need to be in a theater for a long time at this point! He slept on me for the last 45 minutes or so of the second film (which I loved because he is still my baby!)
He got the dinner of his choice: Hamburgers, Tater tots, and Homemade Mac and Cheese, with Pumpkin Pie for dessert. He got to blow out his birthday wish candle and did it all by himself this year. He got to open presents and only got a little help from his bigger sister! ; ) I think he went to bed a very tired, but completely satisfied little boy! And of course that is all I want for him on any given day, so I say Mission Complete! : )

I have received two awards since my last post and as always appreciate them ... so thank you! I have good intentions of responding to them appropriately, but have been a little overwhelmed with present making, in combination with a spider costume I am trying to pull out of my brain consisting of coat hangers, fluff, black fabric, and a turtleneck... I might have more on that later if I can pull it off. I am making it up as I go.. so I'm hoping I can, since I have a very determined (almost) 4 year old expecting her mama to pull through for her... wish me luck on that! We also have a party for the both of the kids this Saturday, which is also spider themed and we have been making all different kinds of decorations and such.. also hoping to post about them... before they are obsolete... but I am only posting tonight because I am having a hard time coming down from a busy day and am up much later than is probably wise for my sanity tomorrow!! : )

and on that note....my dear good friends... thank you for your patience in my posting. I hope to have more in the near future... but I guess we'll see just how manic I get! ; )

Today I am thankful that I have been blessed with the sweetest, most beautiful boy I know. HAPPY BIRTHDAY BABY!!
I am grateful for the fall weather and changes it is bringing.
I am grateful that I have a house so full of love that it can sometimes overwhelm me... but usually in a good way! ; )

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Joy, Sadness, Confusion, and Joy

Well my friends... do I have a wild and wacky week to report to you!

We'll start with Monday and work our way through to the end result here on Thursday. Buckle up because it is a bumpy ride! (alright, as always it took me a little longer to get through this post than I thought it would... so forgive me an extra day (or three)...ok? also, and this is important!! after writing this I realize that it might be way more information than some people can handle. I need to write all this out, to get it out of my head and try to heal my heart, but if you are sensitive you really might not want to read any further. please be warned! )

Monday-
I finally had my first appointment with the midwives. I had really been looking forward to this. I couldn't wait to hear the heartbeat and get some reassurances that everything was going well. We were able to have Al's mom come over so that we could both go together and not have to worry about the munchkins. We talked about lots of things with our midwife (or one of the 5 in the practice) and got reacquainted. Then the time that Al and I had really been waiting for was at hand. Time for the exam to see how big the good old uterus was... and hopefully hear the baby's heartbeat.

And we did! I can not explain to you how encouraging and beautiful of a sound it is to hear your little baby's heart beating away faster than the solid thump-thump of my own in the background. It is an amazing thing! It made both Al and I mist over and made me feel a high that I had forgotten felt so darn good!

And then it was time for some pushing and prodding. Well, ladies and gentlemen. Surprise! My uterus is big... by about 5 weeks too big. So it would be a good idea to go get a sonogram to make sure that our dates are correct(which I KNOW they are...) and to check to see if perhaps there is more than one occupant in said uterus.
YIKES!!
I went from high to crash in moments. I had really talked myself into believing that the midwife would smile and be kind, while telling me that intuition isn't all it is cracked up to be, and that I was right on time for having one healthy baby. At the same time, I also felt a little vindicated, because I have been telling my hubby from the very beginning that I thought it was twins. I was too sick, too hungry, too tired... he just smiled and said... ok honey we'll see... but he didn't believe it... not until the midwife said it was possible. Isn't that always the way? At least in my house, I can tell my hubby something and then someone that he has deemed to have "authority" can say THE EXACT SAME THING... and somehow now he believes it. sigh. But either way, I went home and made an appointment at the hospital for a sonogram on Thursday(part of going to a birthing center is the fact that they are very low tech. I happen to adore that fact... but if I need any technology, I have to go to the hospital that they work with... which I don't like so much). To me it is worth the trip to have what I actually want at the center... but I digress.

Monday night-
I go home and start freaking out!! I call girlfriends and my yoga instructor wanting somebody, anybody, everybody to tell me that it will all be ok. If I am having twins it was meant to be and I will do just fine. I was freaking out over the hardship on my still healing body, the addition of two infants in one fell swoop... going from 3 kids to FIVE. Go ahead say it out loud... to me it sounds like a BIG JUMP!! I also felt happy because I had felt from from the beginning that this was true, and as scared as I was, it was also kind of thrilling. I went to bed early, got some sleep, and woke the next day feeling MUCH better about things. I guess I just needed a little time to accept that my gut had been right and that no matter what... I would be ok. I let myself feel excited about the prospect for the first time. I only had to wait until Thursday morning to find out for sure. I could wait two more days right? : )

Tuesday-
Tuesday was a busy day. The hubby has Mondays and Tuesdays off every week so those are our super busy, get as much stuff done as possible, days. The cool thing about it is that most people have to work those days.... so any kind of paperwork/office type thing or shopping adventure we have to do is not as busy. In fact, I am probably one of the only people who doesn't like a 3 day weekend... because it messes with my ability to get more accomplished because more people are out and about and in my way! : )
So, Al and I ran around doing this and that most of the day. Then after getting the little ones down for nap, I had to go get Emily and take her to a doctor's appointment. While I was sitting in the waiting room I noticed that I had started to cramp a little. It wasn't too bad, and the day before during my exam my midwife had said I might get a little crampy and have some spotting. I thought it was a little strange that it was happening the next day... but then I needed to go talk with the doctor and got distracted by doing a few more errands since I was out without the little people.

Tuesday Night:
By the time I got home it was late. The little ones and Al were a little grumpy and no one wanted to cook. We were in discussion of calling it a pizza night, when the cramping got worse. It became bad enough that I had to stop talking for a minute. I went upstairs to pee and when I was wiping noticed that there was a spot of blood on the tissue. I looked down into the toilet and noticed a quarter sized clot sitting at the bottom. Huh, well I don't know what that means... but maybe it's just from my exam. I put on a panty liner and went back downstairs to talk about food. I told Al what happened in what I could hear myself saying in too calm of a voice... it was my mother voice... I was scared. We decided on our take out food choice and I was headed out the door, when it started. A gush of blood. I ran upstairs and sat on the toilet. The liner was thoroughly soaked. When I wiped all I saw was bright red blood. I got up, put on a big super absorbent pad and called the midwife on call. By the time she called me back only 5 minutes later. I had felt another gush of blood. I went back to the bathroom and rocked and cried. I was scared. I knew what was happening, but I wanted very badly to hear it was something else. When I stood up again the water in the toilet was all pink and swirled with red. I got up and went to lay down on the bed and wait for the call back. Al came in and checked on me. He had in the last few minutes looked up a bunch of stuff on the internet. Oh the internet. It is the source of a lot of information, but not all of it is accurate, and a lot of it can just leave you more confused... or overwhelmed with too much information. He started telling me how it wasn't what I thought... it was this... or this... or maybe this...

I was so happy when the call back came just so he would stop talking for a minute. I know that he was trying to help, but it wasn't. I talked with the midwife for about 15 minutes. She went through the list of things that could be happening. Then she started to tell me what to expect if it was the beginnings of a miscarriage. I tried to listen, but as she was talking I had two more gushes, and my tears were falling hard and fast.
This is hard to write. It still hurts so much.
I got off the phone and had to tell Al all the things that she had said. I tried to tell him all the possibilities, but I knew what it was. I tried to tell him, I was so so sorry, but he wouldn't let me. He couldn't believe it yet.

The kids were still downstairs, hungry and wondering why Mama was crying. He had to be the one to rally... feed the kids... keep things as normal as he could for them. I actually don't really know what went on for the next bit of time, or for how long. I was embroiled in my own terrible sadness and pain.

The next few hours are a blur. I was going back and forth between the bedroom, bathroom, and hallway depending on where the kids were. I was trying not to be around them... because I didn't want them to see me so upset. I continued to bleed. I spent most of the time crying. Then I lost a large amount of fluid. It wasn't bright red... it was a weird orange color. It came in two large waves and it felt like amniotic fluid to me. It drenched my pad and was very wet and hot. This is where I totally lost it. The blood had been scary, but for some reason the fluid sent me over the edge. I sat on the top of the stairs and just wailed, while I rocked myself. Poor Al tried to comfort me... but I was inconsolable. For awhile everything stopped. The kids were in bed by then so Al took me downstairs. We burned a candle and said a prayer and laid down together on the couch. After maybe an hour or so I felt another release of blood. When I went upstairs to clean up I saw it was the biggest release I had had. There was tissue in the blood that looked to me like peeled sunburned skin or something. I was done crying. I had become completely numb at that point. I didn't tell Al about it. I just couldn't and I didn't see the point in giving him more unpleasant visions.

I went back downstairs and laid with my husband and watched tv until my eyes burned. I finally turned it off about 3:30 in the morning and just lay there in the dark, listening to my husband breath deeply and staring at our candle and wondering how I could hear the beat of my baby's heart and the next day this all could have happened. I was also scared that it wasn't over because except for the first clot there hadn't been anything size able, certainly not big enough to have been an 11 week fetus. I tried not to think about what tomorrow would be like. I might have dozed off and on, but I was up and cleaning at 5 AM. I just couldn't stand laying there anymore. I waited until 7 to call the midwife on call. I called and when she called back she listened to me and then asked if I wanted to come in and listen for a heart beat.

Wednesday:
After the call back I still had a few hours before I went in to listen for a heartbeat so I fed the kids, folded some laundry... wandered the house... took a shower. Then it was time to head down to the center. I was a nervous wreck. On the drive I sporadically sobbed because I was so overwhelmed with everything that had happened. Would I hear a heart beat... had I lost both babies, one, either of them? I got there and no one else was there yet because the midwife had come in early for me, so I wouldn't have to wait to long. She called me back and asked me to tell her what had happened the night before. I gave her an abridged version... I had cramping and bleeding for about 6 hours. Can we please just get up on that table?
And so I did. My husband was home with the other kids... we didn't have anyone else to watch them and as much as I wanted him there... it just wasn't possible. He had to call off work as it was... otherwise I would have had to take them with me.... and I didn't want to have to do that!

As I lay on the table with the cold goo on my tummy listening, waiting, hearing nothing but static and my own heartbeat over and over again, the tears began to fall again. My midwife was so sweet. She held my hand and kept saying over and over.... it's ok... there's lots of places to look... don't freak out yet... I'll tell you when you can freak out... it's ok Ruth... it's ok...

and then it happened! ...the teeny tiny rat-tat-tat of my little baby hiding way in the back to the left. I don't think there has ever been a longer two and a half minutes of my life! It was so faint that she couldn't hear it well over my own... so she adjusted one more time and pow. There it was loud and strong and clear. Again my flood of tears came. My baby was ok. My baby was still alive in there -heart beating strong. The joy, relief, and amazement there like never before! I had another internal exam to check my cervix which was closed nice and tight if not spotted with some old blood from the night before. I talked with her for a few minutes about the possibilities of what happened... but until the sonogram there was no way to tell. I did find out something I didn't know before though, when a young fetus passes away it usually takes the body 3-6 weeks to realize this and expel it from the body. So that when most people miscarry in the first trimester their baby hasn't been alive for awhile... its just that because they are so small and there is not much movement felt yet, we don't realize anything has gone wrong. So if that is what happened it's possible that my baby's heart never even started to beat. It may never have been more than 6 or 7 weeks old when it passed away. I still had the appointment on Thursday and they get really busy so, I had to wait until then to find out. I called Al as soon as I started down the stairs and out the door. Crying tears of joy again, feeling more grateful than I can explain.
As I got in my car and continued to talk to him, something different began to touch me. It was grief. How could I possibly feel grief when I heard a healthy heartbeat? But what about the other baby, even if it was small and tiny, minuscule even, and never had a chance... I didn't know that. I didn't know.

The rest of the day I have to honestly say I spent mostly waiting for and wondering about the next day. I took a 4 hour nap in the middle of the day and tried to go to bed early.

Thursday:
Try as we might, every single friend and relative was unavailable, so again I headed to the hospital by myself. I had heard the heartbeat of one baby so I knew that there was one that was ok. I was anxious nonetheless. I wanted more than ever to see that all parts were in the right place and that the little one was doing well. I got to the hospital and went up to the 6th floor. The whole floor had been remodeled and was now a pediatric floor. YIKES! I got back in the elevator feeling confused and frustrated with myself. Why hadn't I asked.. now I might be late. When I looked up there was a very nice woman who asked me if I was ok(I must have looked as frazzled as I felt!). It turned out she was a doctor from another floor. She was very calm and reassuring. She knew they had moved the sonogram department but wasn't sure where...and thought it might be in a different building a few blocks away. She found an internal phone called over, found out where they were, let them know that I was in the wrong place, but that I was there, so please wait for me. After getting quick directions to where I was supposed to go, I walked as quickly as I could to get to my appointment. I had already parked in paid parking and didn't want to have to pay twice... so I just hoofed it. I got there in a few minutes and was feeling grateful that I have been walking so much! I was less than 5 minutes late... so not too bad. I didn't have to wait for very long before they called me back.
The tech was having a bad day and her negative energy was just filling the whole room. I tried to make small talk to distract her... but it was pointless, so I just sat quietly waiting. When she started the sonogram the first thing I saw was my little one floating around, moving
and kicking up a storm! Then I noticed the second distinct area which looked to me like a second placenta... but it was empty. What it turned out to be was a "small" (although it was 4 times bigger than the baby) hematoma. She barely focused on the baby at all. She took a few shots, and it moved in and out of the screen, but mostly she was just checking around. She didn't talk to me much, but when she came back from showing the Dr, who I never saw, she told me that the second area had not been a twin and that I could go home. I asked her several questions but was told to call my midwife and ask her.
Blah! This is one of the many reasons I don't want to have a hospital birth. I don't like the treatment I get there. I really appreciate being talked to like a human being.... a human being who has just been through something that was scary and fairly traumatic... not like I'm in the way for the next number who needs to be processed!
So, as soon as I got out, I called Al and told him that the baby looked good. Right on target for the dates and as healthy as they can tell at this stage. But that I was leaving with more questions than answers and I'd have to call him back. I called the midwife on call and she reminded me that I needed to come in for a Rhogam shot anyway, so we could talk then. I am Rh- and Al is positive... so I get routine shots at different stages of my pregnancy to help my body avoid producing antibodies that could kill the baby... this is especially important when there has been bleeding, and I had to get an extra one.
So, from what I explained to the midwife(they didn't have the report yet because I headed straight over after I was done) she thinks that the hematoma could have been caused by the loss of a twin. She says that there is no way to know for sure at this point and that she thinks I should trust my intuition. My sister (who is a doctor) thinks that is not the case and that the hematoma came from an emplantment issue that happened at the very beginning. I was left feeling confused. On one hand I feel so incredibly grateful that I have a healthy baby. On the other hand I'm not sure if I should be feeling the loss that I AM feeling. I have no desire to mourn something that never was, but it is very hard for me to wrap my mind around some of the things I saw and felt, if there was no loss.

I am finishing writing this out several days later now, and I have had a few more days to think about and absorb the events of last week. I am physically feeling several things that make me feel like maybe there was a twin loss. Not only was there the tissue and the fluid loss, but I woke up the next morning feeling much less pressure. It's hard to explain to anyone who hasn't been pregnant, but I just feel less pregnant than before. I don't have to pee as much. I'm not as hungry... or sick. I had thought that I was feeling flutters before all this started... I know that it was early to feel movement, but I felt them for a few days before the blood loss happened, things that were NOT gas, that really felt like movement. I haven't felt anything since Tuesday. Some of the things can be explained by a loss of pressure because I lost a lot of fluids that night. I lost 3 pounds from Tuesday to Wednesday morning. I had gained 6 pounds already, but lost 3 and am holding steady now. It is just strange because I feel sadness. I have been feeling loss, but at the same time feeling like I'm not sure what really happened. My husband wants to believe that there wasn't a twin... and maybe there wasn't. But I am having a hard time understanding how I would feel so completely different from one day to the next.
Basically, what I have decided is that regardless of how things ended up where they are now, my body has experienced a huge change. There has been a big change in the energy within my body, and whether there was an undeveloped embryo or not, I just have to let myself feel whatever my body needs to feel. I had a very sad day on Friday. I decided to let myself feel the sadness, and I am feeling much better now. Al and I burned a candle for the the loss and said whatever words we felt necessary and had some closure.
I have a healthy baby in my womb and that is the most important thing. Whatever got me to this right here, isn't as important as being here right now. I plan on continuing to let myself process and experience whatever it is that I need to, to come out on the other side, holding my newest addition in my arms many more months down the line.



This is a scan of the best shot I got from the sonogram. It is still so tiny, and doesn't look as "human" yet as it will at the 18-20 week sonogram, that is the usual scheduled one to check one the organs and functioning levels of them. BUT you can see a head profile and over the belly was a little bit of the hand that kept waving about.

Today I am grateful to have amazing midwives who supported and helped me through this entire situation!

I am SO VERY thankful to have a picture of my healthy little person growing inside of me.

I am thankful that, once again, my husband was everything I needed him to be inthe middle of a crisis, taking care of our kids and making us all feel cared for!

I am thankful, so very thankful for the children I have right now. They are the greatest gift I have ever been given, and I cherish them more than I can say!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Opinions needed, PLEASE!

I know that one of my bloggy friends has asked this question before... but I don't remember who... or what the answer was.... sooo as I am too lazy to go through everyone on my blogrolls history... I am just going to ask myself!

Do people go back and read the comment section that they have left a comment on to see if there is a response... or do you want someone to go to your blog and perhaps leave a message that isn't appropriate(or at least isn't about that particular post) on your last blog?
I know that there is a way to attach your email to your blog, so that when you leave a message on some one's comments they can just "respond" to the notification email. And just to throw my opinion in there, I am connected this way if anyone ever wants to respond to a comment I leave. I learned how to do this from a Mama's Losin It tutorial (which is actually a SITS tutorial, I guess...) BUT most of the people who comment on my blog are not connected in that way.
Ok have I thoroughly confused everyone?

The question is how would you like to get a response from a comment?

I often want to respond to people... but am not sure how to go about it... and then I end up not responding at all.... and that makes me feel bad.. or like I don't care about the comments... which is certainly not how I feel.

All of this comes from me not knowing how I should respond to comments in general, but it became very apparent to me when I wanted to thank everyone who left me kind comments on my Surprise! blog. Those comments meant the world to me because I was feeling a little overwhelmed and somewhat exposed at the time, so for now I will just say Thank You So Much from the bottom of my heart!
I can not explain how much I appreciate the friendships that I have acquired through this whole blogging thing. I know that I am nowhere near the consistent blogger that I was hoping to be when I first started this blog, but every post I do put up is straight from my heart, and I really can't describe the feeling I get from knowing that (although they are few) I do have a few really great people out there who are actually interested in the things that I might have to say!!
thanks again everyone!!
oh yeah, and don't forget to answer my question in my comment section if you wouldn't mind!! : )

Today I am grateful for the friendships that I have made through this fascinating world of blogging!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Ch-Ch-CH-Changes

Well it is nap time and my children are both actually sleeping!! Wow! I actually have a few moments of time to myself.... hard to believe!

I'm not sure if it is the season or the things going on in my life, but I have been feeling very nostalgic lately. The only constant is change. I hate change. I try not to, but I just don't enjoy it much. I like to have a rough idea of how my day is going to go... and I think that carries over into my life in general. Of course, that doesn't change the way that life is, so during times of change I have to make a concerted effort to go with the flow instead of fighting it the whole way. I'd like to say that I am getting better at it as I grow older and wiser, but I think that the opposite is true. I get nervous and fret a bit whenever something I am comfortable with needs to change. I understand that change comes from growth and that it is a necessary part of life... I just don't translate what I know, into how I feel, quite as well as I'd like to!

We have quite a few changes going on around our house right now...

Emily started school yesterday. HIGH SCHOOL!!! I was a nervous wreck all day yesterday. I know that she is ready, but I can't help but put myself in her place. As old as she thinks I am, it still feels like yesterday to me when I stop and bring up all the memories, both good and bad, from that time in my life. I got up early and drove her downtown(she will be riding the bus most mornings) to go to her first day of high school, but I forgot to take her picture! It was too early and truthfully, I was just trying not to throw up on the poor child(my morning sickness is still going strong!), but I did get a shot of her once she got home.

I think that proves to me that she is a big girl and is going to be just fine! : ) She said that things were a bit confusing, her school teaches in a different way than most. It's different than the way I went to high school, too. They have block academics in the mornings (so they have 80 minute classes, every other day to fit them all in) and then their major (hers is musical theater) in the afternoons. They have a long day. She starts at 7:40 and doesn't get out until 3:40. But it seems like she feels pretty comfortable and she is excited to get to focus so much energy on her passion.

I am glad that she is enjoying school, or is excited about the prospects anyway. I always have a week or two adjustment period to her not being around. I get really used to her being here most of the time during the summer. At times it can almost be a little too much, because whenever there is a moment when the little ones are occupied (or napping) then she wants to be with me even more, to get that one on one time. In the beginning of the summer it makes me a little crazy, but by the time she goes back to school I am used to my shadow, so when she is gone again... things just feel a little empty around here. I have to be honest though, I am thoroughly enjoying the fact that I am here at the computer and when I try to move I don't bump into her! I of course have my own changes going on right now, so it is especially welcome to have a little time to my own thoughts right now.
Every time that I have been pregnant I find it a little more difficult to perform my daily duties. It isn't just that I feel truly awful 90% of the time right now, although I do. It is what is going on in my head. I become so completely intrinsically focused when I am carrying a child. I know that it is a biological part of the process. It is important to pay attention to so many things, and the crazy hormone changes and the whole growing an entire human being thing... well they take time. They take time, and energy, and focus. They take a lot of things that I don't "have time" for on a daily basis. But it doesn't matter if I have the "time" or not because a baby has a way of making you take the time! I guess it is mother nature's way of getting the family ready for a new person to join the family, but it is something that I have a hard time with. I rarely get time to myself anyway, and now I feel like I should be spending as much quality time with my current family as I can, while I have the "time".

Ha! TIME is the key word of the day! It is such a powerful idea, time. There always enough if you make it, but there is never enough to do everything you want to do.

I was finally able to get a hold of my sister. She made the time(hee hee... sorry) to finally call me back... but only after I relentlessly harassed her answering machine AND her husband. I started calling his cell phone when I knew they were together as a family, because I had been trying to get to talk with her for over 3 weeks! She took the news very well. She got quiet for a minute and then promptly said congratulations and VERY promptly changed the subject! : ) I haven't spoken with her since... and I don't imagine that I will for awhile. But I am OK with that because I know she has her own stuff to deal with. I also have told my father, whose reaction was to ask if my sister knew and how she reacted to the news. I had waited until I HAD told her for this reason... and he's not a great secret keeper either so I didn't want it coming from him.... but he seemed pleased enough for us.

I have my first appointment with the midwives on the 14th. I can't wait to go! I am hoping to hear the heartbeat and I have completely convinced myself that it is twins... even though there is no history and I realize how unlikely it would be... and I am looking forward to being told that I am crazy and my uterus is the appropriate size for just one little nugget! I also look forward to getting a little comfort from being "seen". I forget every time, but I always remember when I am stuck in the middle of it... how unsettling the early part of pregnancy is for me. I am not a huge worrier in general, in fact, I tend to be a little overly optimistic. But in these early weeks there is so much that can go wrong, and there is very little reassurance that everything is going alright. I enjoy things much more during the second and third trimester, when you can feel your little one moving around and you have passed into the magic number of months where miscarriage is much more unlikely. I know that things still happen, but there is something to be said for being able to feel the small human growing inside of you! : )

Well, as I finished typing the last sentence I hear the calls of some bigger, little humans awaking upstairs! I hope that you all are well, and enjoying the last days of warmth (for us east coasters) while they are here! Much too soon the leaves will begin to fall and the evenings are already coming earlier... because the seasons like our lives are always changing! : )

and just because I haven't put any up in awhile...

Sophia at one of our local parks.

Roscoe giving me that charming smile! : )

Today I am thankful that all my family knows of our new addition, and is happy for us.
I am thankful that this wretched morning sickness at least makes me feel like I know that my body is doing what it needs to do to keep this baby healthy.
I am grateful to have only a little over a week before I will (hopefully) hear the heartbeat of our baby.
I am thankful that I live so close to so many beautiful trees that remind me how natural change really is!! : )

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Surprise!!

I have been absent again.

I know, you are probably used to it at this point.

There is a different reason that I have been away this time though. I am on the verge of another big life change... again. And it has so taken over my thoughts and processing that I haven't been able to focus on anything else for long enough to write a cohesive post. I've tried several times... my drafts are starting to outnumber my actual posts at this point! : )

Well, what could be so life altering that I couldn't focus on anything else?

That's right... surprise!

We are having another baby!
What!?!

This was not part of my plan on what I would be doing for the next 2 years (because you know the pregnancy really takes 10 months and we all know there is nothing outside as important as whatever is going on with a newborn baby for the first year or so).

I had a few suspicions, because when I was going on my walks I got really light headed a few times. So one afternoon when I got back from a walk (the kiddos were still napping) I found an old test and went into the bathroom to take it. I really thought that it would be negative, and was taking it just to ease my mind (if I thought I actually WAS pregnant I would have waited until the next morning). My hubby happened to be home that day and was taking a bath... when I told him what I was doing, he just rolled his eyes at me, I guess he didn't think I would be either...

I am excited and happy, now. But I must admit that when I first found out, I had an adjustment period to deal with. I have known for over a month already, and honestly I am still in a little bit of shock. I am really good at knowing my own body and what is going on as far as the womanly works go... but as my midwife so lovingly reminded me, I am getting older... and things can get a little wonky around my age. Here's hoping that after my next appointment my uterus growth is on target because twins would throw me for another loop... not to mention I couldn't continue care with my beloved midwife practice because of becoming a complicated pregnancy... but that is jumping ahead to unlikely circumstances... but then again this was surprise, so...

Anyway, my initial shock gave way to a fair number of worries and a lot of tears at first. I had an explosion of different thoughts, worries, and anxiety.

Here's a few of the things that I was worried about.

Truthfully and selfishly, I was excited to be getting to focus on myself for the first time in a long time. I was doing really well with my desire to get healthier and more fit. I had reached 3/4 of the way to my first weight loss goal and had a secondary one already in mind for when I had reached my first big 100 pound milestone. I was excited to be occasionally putting my needs before the needs of others, every single second of the day. It's felt good. I wasn't all stoked on giving that up right away.

For the first time in my life (even when I found out about Emily) I wasn't immediately thrilled. I had never felt that way before and it made me feel terrible. I cried and cried. I wasn't crying about having another baby, but about not feeling super excited from the second I found out. My poor husband was amazing. He was so supportive and listened to me rattle off all the reasons that this just wasn't the right time (there are some more complicated explanations forthcoming) and he just smiled and hugged me and looked me in my eyes and told me how happy he was and how much he loved me. He told me that I was the best Mama he has ever known and that this baby was going to be lucky to have me. And he gently reminded me that contrary to my assertion on certain days... I'm not actually controlling the universe. Oh yeah. I forgot that for a moment. I don't know what I would have done if he had reacted any other way. Reason # 239 to keep him around a little longer! ; )

I called our family therapist the next day and made an appointment with her that week. I talked with her about all of the things that were bothering me. I talked about my selfish thoughts(reasonably selfish, but selfish nonetheless). I talked about how I was worried that this wouldn't be good for me and Al's relationship. And the hardest thing of all, my GUILT. My sister's daughter just turned four and they have been trying to get pregnant since she turned one. I also have had several friends miscarry in the last 6 months. And one of them very recently, and she's not doing well. I just feel bad about how easy it is for me and Al to conceive together. My sister is going to have a really hard time with this news. I still haven't told her. I have tried to call her, but she has been busy and hasn't been returning my calls. I can't email her something like this. When our mutual friend got pregnant the first month they tried, my sister was so upset. She confided in me how unfair it was and how angry she was... and then our friend lost the baby, and of course my sister feels terribly guilty about her feelings... it just is a bit of a mess. I honestly would have talked with her before we started trying, if this had been a planned thing, and she knows that. It somehow feels a little more cruel that she will know that not only did it happen again for us, but that we weren't even trying.

meh- it kind of stinks.

The truth is that I am afraid of losing my sister for the next year or so because of this, and it makes me sad. And just for a little background, when she got pregnant with her daughter, we also got pregnant about 3 months later. My sister hardly talked to me for my entire pregnancy. I guess she thought we were trying to steal her thunder or something? I don't know, we never talked about it because I was just so happy to be on speaking terms with her again, but it did hurt me a lot, because of course that wasn't the point. We were just ready to start growing our family too. We actually had been casually trying for a few months when she got pregnant.

sigh... I wish that it didn't have to be so complicated. I wish that I knew that she would be happy for us, but the truth is, I don't think that she will be, and that does make me sad. What it boils down to though, which my therapist did her best to help me understand(I'm almost there... I am sure that once I actually am able to tell her my anxiety over the situation will lesson tremendously) is that whatever issues my sister might have to deal with really has nothing to do with me. She has her own issues and they are hers to deal with. I can't make her pregnant and I can't make her accept that she might not have another baby. I have absolutely no control over her situation. It is not mine to fix or solve. I have to let her deal with this news however she is going to deal with it. I can hope for the best, as I always do, and that is about the extent of what I can do. The same goes for my grieving friends. They will all have their own reactions, and hopefully when they have dealt with them, they will come to be happy for us and our new blessing. After all 9 months is a long time to come to acceptance!

On a much more positive note, I told my mother the other night and she was actually really happy for us! For most of you that might be a given, but she has never really been too happy before, so I was convinced she would be negative about it... but she wasn't! Yay! So there is always hope!

My oldest daughter cried, but now is doing pretty well with the information. I'm sure that with her starting high school and being a teenager the last thing she wants is more competition for time and attention, but she is great with her other siblings and I'm sure she will do well with it, after a little acceptance period of her own. It is still so early that we haven't done any explaining to the little ones yet. I have hardly told anyone yet actually, for fear of someone saying something and my sister hearing it from somewhere other than me. Also, of course, you are supposed to wait until after 12 weeks, but I feel like I might explode if I try and keep this in another month longer! Now that I am excited about it, I find myself saying things to random strangers I am talking with at the store or at the dentist's office. It is exciting news for most people and it has felt good to get to share without worrying about it somehow being hurtful! My MIL (for all of her faults, thinks I'm a good mom and adores our kids) was so excited she almost caused an accident while Al was driving, which was also a nice reaction... sort of! : )

My family doesn't read this, but now I am worried about posting it. Maybe I should make sure that she knows from my lips first just in case... well it felt good to purge it, but I really did want to share my exciting news with everyone here.

Well, if this has an addendum you will understand why now.
And for now, I wish you all happiness and peace. Good night!

***Addendum***
Ok, so I actually wrote this about a week ago now, and have tried calling my sister SO MANY TIMES!!!! I am getting frustrated with it because I want it off my chest, already!! She has not called me back, but left me notes on facebook saying she'll call soon... grrr. Anyway, I know she really has been super busy, her in laws have been here for the last month and they stay with her, much to her dismay, they make her crazy! They just left Friday, so now that they are gone, I'm sure I will be able to reach her soon! I have, in the last week, really decided that no matter what her reaction might be, it will be ok. I am doing my best to not worry quite so much about how other people might react to my news and just stopped and connected with myself and my new little person. It amazes me every time how much love you can feel for such a small thing that you have never met. But I already feel so much and know that regardless of what my own plans had been. This is what I am supposed to be doing right now. I do hope that I get ahold of my sister soon, and that she will be happy for us, but either way I am so excited about heading down this familiar path once again! : )


Today I am thankful that I have been blessed with the gift of being a vessel for another beautiful soul. I can't wait to meet you. I love you so much already!
I am thankful that I have such an amazing husband, and that he is such a great dad!
I am thankful that I am the healthiest I have been in the beginning of a pregnancy and hope that it helps me to have a healthy pregnancy!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Mouse in my Pocket


I have been wanting to do a post on the hiking that I have been doing for a few months now. I have a bit of insomnia tonight... so instead of laying in bed not sleeping, I decided to catch up on my blogging! (ok putting up pictures takes me a really long time because of the stupid space thing that happens... but I don't do html so I don't have other options... hence two days later finally getting this post up! hey, I'm trying!)
I have so many good ideas for blogs, so I reached into my brain bag and thought it should be about my hikes in the local park. When I walk up to the park near my house I lose myself in the solitude, yet connectedness of nature. So I thought that I would give you a view, as though you were a mouse in my pocket! : )
The main reason I started walking this park was for the exercise, but very soon I realized that one of the things that had been missing in my everyday life was connecting with nature. I have always had a strong connection to our earth. Being surrounded by nature has always made me feel more peaceful. While I am there to work up a sweat, I cannot describe to you how amazing and beautiful I think my surroundings are. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the city that I live in. It is, in my heart, my home, which is something that I have been searching for my whole life. I was an army brat... which for those of you who don't know, means that I moved every year or less for the majority of my childhood. It sucked. I hated it A LOT! Some people do fine with all that change, but I am a person who feels contentment with having a friendly and familiar environment. The way that I grew up makes my feeling of "home" here, that much more significant to me.

Anyway, every time I take my walks I see all this beautiful scenery and think to myself "I should bring my camera and take pictures of my view along the way." So, I finally did the other day. It turned out I didn't get quite as many good shots as I thought, at first, because I couldn't slow down enough to get a good one... but since I often do a few "laps" around my course, I put in a good hike and then did another round and took some pictures. Unfortunately, it has become the land of gray and rain around here lately, so the pictures are not as beautiful as I'd like... but if I wait for perfection you'll never get to see the post... so here we go! : )
I am about to put up a gillion pictures, so prepare yourself emotionally!

This was where I started taking pictures. I was already past the regal park entrance, and all the beautiful flowers, and the fountain... but that is a whole other post... : )
This hill leads down to some of the stairs I hit on my walk. And there are lots of stairs on this route!

Looking back up the same hill, we just jogged down.

One of the many waterfalls that help keep the water flow(from all the darn rain!) headed towards the right direction.

Some stairs heading up the hill towards the reservoir.

The path heading up. It is a little sad because I'm not sure how much of the raw beauty is coming through my cruddy pictures... I hope there is a least a glimmer.
ok, I know this one is dark, it was a gray day and it actually rained a little during my hike... but wait for it... it's worth it! ; )
almost there now...

ahhhh!
The sound of running water is so refreshing, when you are starting to get tired and ready to be done working hard. For me, it gives me enough of a push to head up towards some MORE stairs!! : )
Over the little wishing bridge... and yes, I make a wish every time! ; )... and up another set of stairs which I go up and then back down, and then past everything we just saw, towards a different turn off of the path.
Down another set of stairs(I don't know why I didn't take one of them, because they are cool looking...) and we hit another set of stairs ! : ) I like this one because it has two sides on the bottom section and I get to go down one and up the other. Hey, give the hot, tired girl a break something has to keep me going! : )

Just a pretty little nook. These little things, honestly, give me endless pleasure while I am out releasing my endorphins! : )
the bottom of another set of stairs, along the path that leads down to the pond. I couldn't take a downward shot because there were a bunch of kids down on the dock(?, would you call that a dock in a pond...) and I felt creepy taking random strangers' pictures!

So, one of the many reasons I would think about bringing along my camera was this weed. That's right!! This is the biggest, coolest weed I have ever seen! It is easily a foot taller than me, and the top is covered by tiny yellow flowers. I just think that is neat! : ) I know I AM easily amused, but at least I live my life with lots of laughter!; )

This is one of my most disappointing photos for me, because I couldn't capture the feeling that I get when I look at it. On the right, the green is actually thousands of wild flowers that you can't see very well, and to me it looks like the entrance way to a magical fairy kingdom. My kids love this area too... but we don't go that often because it is over 100 stairs up to the top.. and they don't love taking the stairs even half as much as I do... and I don't end up feeling very patient about it. It's hard to take over 30 minutes doing something you do by yourself in about 6! : )

Another portion of the stairs up from the entrance way.

Not all of the stairs are grouped together, some of them are grouped in 2's, others in 10, all with some amount of hill in between.

This is the path up from the last set of stairs, on that big 'ol hill.

Walking over the top of where I just came from... walking the path that follows the road around the reservoir.


This is looking straight ahead instead of down, and actually heading right back to where the pictures started... there is a lot of overlapping ground in my routine because there are several different ways up and down the hill... which is awesome because the more stairs and climbing the better! : )

Most of the time after I have finished my hike in the woody area, I will go up and walk around the reservoir, which is a 1 mile track. After the hike it feels really good to be on flat land and I can really fly around it in pretty good time. I have experimented and I walk almost 4 minutes faster a mile AFTER a hike. I guess I get really pumped with all the stairs and the flat feels SO much easier! : )

This is a picture of another set of stairs that I will add to the the reservoir walk if I am feeling spunky. It ends up being about 75% of the time, but sometimes I am just too tuckered out!

This set of stairs is what first got me started on my somewhat of a stair obsession! It leads up from the outer path/road, up to the track. I only hit the bottom 30 or so steps once...

but once I get to the Y in the steps, I go up one side and down another, as many times as I can in a row. It's 35 steps each side. The first time I did it, I went 3 times and felt like I might just die! Now I do 10! Although around 9 and 10 I will often grunt out loud because it really works my thighs, no cheating and using hands! I have been known to startle a few fellow walkers! : ) It is kind of embarrassing, because they don't know I've just done 9 laps... but it's ok.. I know, so I think it's kind of funny. Especially when people look scandalized... because I'm a jerk like that! : )

Ok, the reason for this shot is a cool view from above, but also a funny story.

The young women at the bottom(that you can hardly see) were there with their trainer, doing whatever they were doing... and they noticed me going around in circles. So the trainer sends up one of the young ladies to do what I am doing.

Well, even though I am getting stronger and more fit, I'm still overweight and fair-skinned and when I work out my face gets very red. This does not mean I'm not a bad ass... but lots of people make that false assumption. In fact, another reason I stopped just doing the track was the number of negative comments I got from other people there. The woody area is a much nicer place for me... but I digress..

So young chippy comes up and goes around once and goes back down. I keep going. I actually felt pretty uncomfortable because I could feel people watching me and usually don't have strangers just blatantly staring at me while I am grunting around the darn stairs, BUT, I can't let other people ruin my groove... so I kept going. Then after another couple laps, the trainer sends the girl up again. She went faster this time, but still did one lap and then went back down. Then the trainer sends both the girls up at the same time. The one that hadn't done it before, did more than one lap, but the first one did just one again. Although we were headed in different directions we both just happened to hit the Y at the same time, and as I was finished with my laps, we both end up going down together. I can't help it, I am competitive by nature... so I left her in the dust. As I was jogging by the trainer at the bottom, I heard him start talking to the girl saying how she should have been much faster than me... why was I up on my toes when she wasn't... blah, blah, blah... how's she gonna let some fat lady beat her down the stairs. Although it was a backhanded compliment with the whole fat lady comment... I took it as a HA! instead. It made me feel like I really am a bad ass, and just because I'm not young and thin doesn't mean that I am not a rock star. I'll reach my goals eventually and I am doing it the right way by becoming physically as strong as I have always been mentally.

I'm in a better place than I have been in a very long time, and I gotta tell ya, it feels SOOOO good!! Thanks for bearing with me on my self-indulgent journey around the park! I hope that you enjoyed the beauty, and I hope that it inspires you to go out and find a little nature of your own to rock out in!! : ) I know that I am rarely here right now, but with summer starting to come to an end, I feel like I have to be out and about as much and as often as I can be because all too soon the leaves will be falling and the snow and coldy-cold weather soon to follow that. I have to take advantage of this beautiful time of year while it is here! Most days I am lucky enough to go to the park with the kids in the morning and by myself after Al gets home from work. I probably spend 4-5 hours there on those days, about 4-5 days a week! : )

I hope that all of you are doing well, in your own little worlds! I am sending out light and love and happiness to you all!

Today I am thankful to have such an abundance of beauty all around me!

I am grateful that my hubby is so supportive of me being gone for 1 1/2-2 hours a day, when he doesn't work late!

I am grateful that the city I live in thinks that the park is as important as I do. I don't know what I would do without it!! :)