Change...oh, change

There are so many things I'd like to change about my life, and even though I know the simplest way to do it is to start, I find it incredibly difficult to do so. I feel constantly overwhelmed by my life as it is, and adding a whole bunch of changes to my plate just seems undoable. I often feel like when I do try to change things, I get so much pushback from my daily life that I give up on trying.

My best friend and I were talking today about things we'd like to change in our lives. Eating healthier, exercising more, winning the lottery and paying everyone's mortgages (lol). Talking about it is motivating, but we both have the same problems: busy lives filled with caring for children and husbands and trying to breathe somewhere in the middle of it all. But I think we both also know that these are excuses. We can change. It's just really, really difficult to overcome the (abundant) excuses we have to avoid it.

So, we're going to try. And maybe between the 2 of us, we can keep each other accountable. Change can be unbelievably hard, but I think that if we're even moderately successful, we'll be even better off in the end.

I'm feeling inspired today by another friend, Erin, who is attempting to eliminate as much waste as possible from her life this year. Talk about taking on a lot of change! I applaud her, and hope to be bolstered by her admirable endeavor.


Six Word Fridays: Easy

Chubby cheeks, blue eyes, loving coos...
It sure is easy loving you!


Things I wish someone had told me...

Becoming a mother is an amazing experience. I don’t think anyone would deny that it is life-changing and (mostly) beautiful. But, let’s admit it—it isn’t all cuddly babies and cute onesies. Motherhood is a challenge. There are things about being a parent that you don’t expect, and not all of those things are pretty. Unfortunately, you hear a lot about the awesome parts of parenthood, but no one is very forthcoming about the not-so-awesome parts. You know it’s not going to be easy, but do you really know why? I didn’t. Sleepless nights and dirty diapers were the only drawbacks I was truly aware of when I first became a mother. Here’s a few of the other harrowing surprises I discovered when I brought home my first little bundle of joy:
  • Breastfeeding hurts. It's bond-building, rewarding, and good for your baby. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean it's painless. When my milk came in for the first time, I was totally unprepared for the rock-hard boobs and cracked nipples that come along with the job. Take all the breastfeeding advice you can get, especially if you're easily frustrated (like me!). Don't give up--I promise it gets better. The pain is fleeting and totally worth it.
  • Your inner bitch will be exposed. Becoming a parent reveals personality traits you never knew you had, and they aren't all pretty. Between unbalanced hormones and sleepless nights, it isn't surprising that you'll occasionally use your cool. There might be women out there who breeze through the newborn stage with their wits completely in tact, but I doubt it. So if you find yourself screaming about dumb stuff (Why are the coffee mugs on the wrong shelf?!) or contemplating ways to maim your husband (Can't he pick up the baby just this ONCE without being asked?!), please know you aren't alone. (Just try not to actually maim your husband...he is the father of your child, after all.)
  • Sleeping with your baby in the bed is cute—until they’re 5… I actually *did* get this piece of advice before my first child was born--I just didn't follow it. And, honestly, if you're the kind of person wants to sleep with your baby in the bed, then you probably won't listen, either. Because it is so precious to have your little one snuggled in next to you. But, for the record, when he's five and still wants to sleep in your bed--I told you so.
  • Outside advice is annoying—even if it’s warranted. Motherhood is a journey, and it's unique to everyone who travels the parenting highway. So even when your mother-in-law is telling you for the bajillionth time that your baby should be wearing socks, or your neighbor is recommending lullabies to stimulate your baby's brain, try to take it all with a grain of salt. Some of those tidbits might be useful, but at the end of the day, it's your child. Some mistakes are meant to be made. You'll learn and grow right along with that little bundle of joy (and that's exactly how it should be).
Yep, being a mother is an amazing experience. But it's also life-altering, stressful, and intense. So if you need a few moments to cry or scream or punch a pillow, don't feel bad. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy, right?


We did it!

Some months ago, I shared my birth experience from my first son, and I announced that I was going to attempt to have a VBAC with my third child. Both of my other pregnancies were C-sections, which made a VBAC an unlikely option.

I would like to announce that despite the pushback from my medical team, who offered little support and appeared to simply be humoring me, that my son and I accomplished what my doctor believed I could not. My third child was born by VBAC on April 6, 2011.

It wasn't easy, and I have to say that there were a few points where I was almost ready to throw in the towel. But I'm SO GLAD that I didn't. It was worth it.

I was starting to worry because my due date was April 3, and there were no signs that I was going to go in to labor. What if the baby got too big? My last son had been 9 lbs 8 oz, and he was 2 weeks early. I started doing everything I read about to try to induce labor: walking, sex, spicy food, you name it. The only thing I read about that I didn't try, because I was just SURE that it wouldn't work was castor oil.

And then, after a long day of self-pity because I was still pregnant and knowing the next day my doctor wanted to do an ultrasound to see how big the baby was, and try to talk me in to scheduling my c-section, I caved. The worst thing that could happen from castor oil was some scary bowel movements, right? So when my husband got home from work, I announced my plan. He thought the same thing I had thought: it really didn't seem like it would work, and would just make me uncomfortable. BUT PEOPLE, I WAS DESPERATE!!

I took the castor oil at 7pm, and waited impatiently for something to happen. By the time I went to bed at 11, I was sure that it wasn't going to do anything at all.

Then, at 2:30 in the morning, the pain started. I thought it was all just from the stool-softening effects of the castor oil--I really didn't think I was experiencing labor pain at all. But after several lovely trips to the bathroom (because yes, it REALLY DOES work for that purpose), I realized the pains were a little...regular. So I timed a few. Five minutes apart. Hmm. Then, there was the famed "bloody show." At which point, nearly giddy with fear and pain and excitement, I was truly convinced that I was having contractions. I danced around the house, stopping to breathe through contractions and wondering when I should wake up my husband. At 5:30, I decided he should probably get his butt up and start helping me get ready to go to the hospital.

By 7 when my husband's parents came to take our other children, my contractions were 2 minutes apart. My mother-in-law was convinced the baby was going to arrive on the way to the hospital. I wasn't so sure of that, but I was definitely convinced that this would be my baby's birthday!

When we got to the hospital, I was still only 2 cm dilated, but my contractions were strong and regular and I was 80% effaced. After an hour, I was already at a 4 and they officially sent me to labor and delivery. In this span of time, I had to "explain myself" at least 3 or 4 times to nurses and doctors who were curious why I wanted a VBAC. And none of them seemed terribly impressed with my reasoning. But I carried on, making sure I let them know that I NEEDED to be able to walk around this time, and I would NOT be put on a full-time fetal monitor. My nurse was amazingly helpful--even after my doctor said I "had" to be on the monitor constantly, she let me take it off for at least 20 minutes every hour so I didn't have to stay tethered to my bed.

I easily got from 4cm to 7cm within a few hours, but then my doctor decided to break my water and my hall-walking rights were totally revoked. It was at this point that my labor stalled and I sat in the bed, zombie-like, fearful for each new contraction because they hurt so much while I was laying down (my back labor was atrocious!). My doctor was ready to throw in the towel--the baby's head hadn't engaged and I wasn't dilating anymore. My beautiful, wonderful nurse pushed so hard for me to continue; she was really my saving grace.

I had been laboring naturally, and I had just decided to have an epidural. It was no one's choice but my own. None of the nurses or doctors had pressured me, which was kind of surprising...I was expecting to be asked constantly if I wanted one. But I was pretty sure I was getting too tired to continue, and asking for an epidural was my last-ditch effort to fulfill my VBAC dream.

When my nurse heard my decision, she told me she was pretty sure it was all I needed to help me relax enough to go all the way. She was right. It took an hour for me to go from a 7 to a 10 after the epidural was administered. All of a sudden, it was time to push! I cried tears of joy when my nurse checked me and then clapped her hands and said, "You did it! He's going to be here soon!"

The pushing was SO much harder than I was expecting, even with the epidural. To all of you ladies who do that part completely natural, I salute you. No one can ever know exactly what that means until they have gone through it themselves! I pushed for an hour, and my son was born at 9:30 pm, 19 hours after labor had started.

Judah Patrick was born on April 6, 2011 at 9:30pm. He weighed 8 lbs 3 oz and was 21 inches long.

I owe a very special thank you to my nurse, who stayed 3 hours past the end of her shift to stay by my side and make my VBAC a success. I also owe thank you's to my husband and mother-in-law, who coached me through my pushing at the end, which was definitely the part of the process where I most felt like giving up.

Now that I've had a baby both ways, I can definitely say that VBAC is something every woman should try (as long as circumstances allow, of course). Birthing a child the "normal" way was special. It was empowering. And even though I love all my children equally, I think it formed that initial bond between me and my son slightly sooner that it was formed with my other two children.

If you are planning on trying for a VBAC, be strong and fight for yourself. You will not regret it. (This is coming from someone, by the way, who ended up needing an "abnormal amount" of stitches following birth. So it's not like it was easy or something, hehe).


Spring Fever

For the past two days, a steady snow/rain drizzle has settled over the city, and the semi-warm, moist weather is getting me anxious for spring. It's been a long winter, and I'm ready to get out of the house. During this time of year, I always start to long for bright, sunny days full of chasing my children in the park and working in the yard. Of course, in practice, this doesn't always happen. But for me, even more so than the first of a new year, the beginning of spring signals a time for growth, change, and resolution.

My children, of course, are starting to share in my anxiousness to experience fresh air and sunshine again. The rumblings of restlessness started a few weeks ago, and now that we're occasionally able to venture outdoors for good lengths of time, it's getting worse. They're bouncing off the walls (and off of each other), and it's adding to my strong desire to get out of the house.

My plans for this year's springtime rebirth are twofold this year: truly dedicating myself to a successful garden, and truly engaging my two rowdy youngsters. It's time to get dirty as a family and inspire a love for the outdoors that will hopefully last them a lifetime. Our world is changing--and in many ways deteriorating--from our lack of respect for its resources. I'd like to impart this revelation to my children now so that their lives will be naturally molded to help counteract at least some of these ecological tragedies.

I'm hoping to truly engage my children in our outdoor adventures this spring. They are both getting old enough to understand and contribute to the gardening chores, and I can't think of a better way to sow a little bit of learning in with the dirt they love to play in. (Besides, with a brand new baby on my hip, I'm going to need all the help I can get!)

Here's to springtime, and my sincere hope that she wastes no time in arriving this year. This spring, we're planting seeds of change in our hearts along with the carrots in our garden.

Thinking about starting a garden of your own this year? This article inspired me, and led me to Root Simple and the blog authors' first book, The Urban Homestead. They've got some mighty extreme ideas about gardening and living a self-sustaining lifestyle, but don't feel like you need to tear out your entire lawn and buy a chicken coop. Just view it as a little friendly inspiration (and a lot of great advice) to help you figure out what works for you!