5:00 in the morning

It’s such a funny feeling. Fifty minutes of hoping my son would fall back asleep after waking at 5:00 in the morning; and now that he did I am sad. I resisted going in and holding him, rocking the tears away.

He had been happily feeding at 5:00 and then going back down for another nap before waking at 6:30. But then he stopped; he still wanted to nurse but decided the day had begun. I could not coax him back down. For a 10 month old, a week of waking up at 5:00 in the morning draws his eyes long and stokes the temper.

I decided this wasn’t working any longer. So I listened to him wake at 5:00; happy, and ready for his feeding. Soon the sweet baby babbles turned to squawks, then more determined yawps of appeal. When I went in at 5:30 to kiss his head and pacify the tears I then turned around to leave rather than hold him, cradle him, nurse him; the yawps turned to wails.

Oh my son, I’m sorry, but we must stop. We must stop this enchanting 5 am rendezvous we have. The time has passed and we must make way for other things. Sleep my cherub and we’ll meet again. But let’s not forget this moment in time.

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On Accepting The Fear

Things have been blissfully ordinary. I don’t really know how it’s possible but I continue to feel more comfortable with my role as stay at home mom. Just when I think I’ve got it down and I’m pleased with how things are going I turn a corner and add another puzzle piece which completes a section I didn’t know existed.

When my daughter was born I remember slowly tackling house projects that had been neglected. I checked off so many items on my unending to do list that year: wedding photo album, selling old dresses, organizing the pantry, paring down work materials, and setting up a bookshelf for all my trusty tattered covers. It felt so satisfying, like we were actually caring for all our possessions and the house we lived in.

After getting my project list under control I focused on the social aspects of being a stay at home mom. I had met a few moms, luckily very sweet ones with whom I became close but my daughter was now a year and I was pregnant again. We needed some organized activities to attend, lest we go crazy staying in the house all day. I started to understand why moms pack their day with activities. So, we joined an exercise group and started going to playgroups. My daughter started learning skills like sharing and turn-taking and I learned the importance of a bond with another mother. We shared our triumphs, struggles, and highly anticipated milestones of this child developing before our eyes.

When my son was born, well, it was all I could do but to take each day as they came. Everyone had said two under two was hard. I treaded water but didn’t make much forward progress. It’s getting better now.

Each day, week, and month that passes I feel more comfortable with my “Mom” title but there is always reservation. It weighs heavy on me that I went to school for six years to get a degree that I am not using. Despite the fact that staying home is my first choice and my husband fully supports this, I feel guilty for not providing financially in some way to our household. Bottom line is that I love being at home with my children and the cost of these memories outweighs the loss of income.

The truth is that I am also very afraid. I am afraid of being so involved in the world of jam hands and motor mouths that I will become out of touch. I dread being that mom who doesn’t know the day of the week, the date, or the last time she showered. The mom who catches her daughter’s spit up in her hands at the dinner table and wipes it on her napkin without hesitation. The mom that carelessly comments about the anguish of her day while people out there are doing real work.

I know, raising kids is real work. But I couldn’t, and can’t, place it in the same category as a job which brings home the bacon. And thus, there will always be a part of me that feels a bit inadequate as a stay at home mom. I wish I could erase this negative label from my mind but when I try it’s like trying to separate double-sided tape. It’s just so sticky eventually you can’t make out one side from the other. A career that earns money is not equivalent to story time and time-outs.

This fear of becoming out of touch grinds on me but I’ve been able to keep it at bay recently. I’m not just at the crossroads of career versus kids, I’ve already passed it. My decision is made and if I want to enjoy this ride I need to embrace it. Is it so bad if I lose track of the date or wander the grocery isles at 10 am on a Tuesday? I’ve decided no on this one. So I would like to raise a glass and say cheers to interrupted sleep, tears over skinned knees, and hugs that make you go weak. Toothless smiles, first words, and enough love to overflow my cup. God bless you, my children, my life.

My Birth Story

Simon was six months old yesterday. He has brought so much joy to our lives and we can’t imagine our family without him now. I thought it fitting to share my birth story at this time. After his birth my HypnoBirthing instructor asked if I was interested in writing out my birth story. She was interested in using it for her future classes. I was honored and am so grateful of her request because I now have a record of how those moments unfolded for us. For those of you who aren’t familiar with HypnoBirthing, it is a combination of relaxation, visualization, and deepening exercises that help the mother to have a calm and peaceful birthing experience. The techniques worked wonderfully for me. To learn more click here.

*So that you can understand the story clearly here are a couple of terms:

surge: contraction

J-Breath: a breath which does not include the traditional pushing during labor; rather it is a slow inhalation followed by a purposeful exhalation which helps to “breathe the baby down.”

My Birth Story

3:30 AM I am gently awoken to surges. I lie calmly in bed and time them, 5 minutes apart. I start practicing my surge breaths. For the first time, I understand how to work with my body during a surge. I can do this.

 

4:00 AM I wake my husband and ask that he time the surges, still 5 minutes apart and lasting about 30 seconds. My husband goes back to sleep and I continue my slow and surge breaths, focusing on my belly, thinking about how I will get to meet my baby today.

5:30 AM I sit up comfortably in bed and turn on my birth affirmations, as this seems to be what I need. As I listen to them I picture each in my head and calmly breathe. I check to make sure my hands are relaxed, my face is relaxed. I remember my anchors: I am calm. I am peaceful. I am in control.

 

7:30 AM We arrive at the hospital and get checked in. I immediately sit on the bed and close my eyes, focusing on my breath

Using my visualization and relaxation techniques.

Using my visualization and relaxation techniques.

and belly. I now want background ocean sounds. Derek finds it on the iPod. I am calm. I am peaceful. I am in control. I begin to use my visualization: a beach we backpacked along years ago. Derek answers most of the nurse’s questions and sets up the room. I am vaguely aware of what’s happening.  I know my midwife is on vacation this week. The nurse says the other midwife is not on call today; a physician will be in soon to check on me. I am calm. I am peaceful. I am in control.

I wonder what time it is, but realize I don’t care. Derek says, “I can’t tell when you’re having a surge. What can I do?” I hold his hand. Eventually, each surge is intense enough that my breaths become deeper and more purposeful. Derek begins to use light touch massage or cue me to visualize. He says, “Picture the baby’s name. Write it out.” We hadn’t decided on the name yet! I picture “Simon,” one of the three names on our list. His name is written across the sky in white clouds and blue ribbons. The sand on the beach tickles my toes and the water calms my nerves.

Pain in my lower back becomes too strong. I change positions to sitting on the ball with my hands over the bed. The pain decreases. The physician enters and introduces herself. As I try to interact I lose focus. I close my eyes and I’m back at the beach. I am calm. I am peaceful. I am in control. Nurses try to place an IV but have trouble. Five tries. The lights are so bright. I bury my head in the bed and return to the beach. I notice when I lose concentration I become tense and the pain increases. Derek lifts my wrist and gently reminds me to relax.

The surges become so intense. I feel like I need to push. I’m breathing smoothly, the best I can, and all of a sudden my water breaks. Relief. I tell the nurse I feel an overwhelming need to push. She says, “We’re getting the doctor. For now, try not to push.” Yeah right. I know I need my J-Breaths. The surges come so fast and are so intense. My breaths are not calm, but I’m doing my best. I ask to put the bed in chair position and I kneel at the foot and lay my arms over the top.

I’ve been using J-breaths for a while, I don’t know how long. The physician says, “The baby is close. How about laying back on the bed.” I start to move. Derek leans in and asks, “Are you okay with this or do you like the position you’re in?” I know he’s worried about me ending up in stir-ups. I can’t think for myself. “Yes, it’s fine,” I say. As I turn over, I open my eyes and see the stir-ups being attached to the bed. My mind is sad but my body seizes my attention as another surge begins to rise.

“Your baby is almost here. During the next contraction, I want you to breathe in, hold your breath, and try to push,” the physician says. Derek leans in close to my ear and whispers, “J-Breath.” I focus all my attention on the J-Breaths but sometimes I’m pushing. It’s so hard not to.

Two surges, then an empty feeling in my abdomen. My wrinkled, wet baby is on my chest and, for that moment, nothing else exists but love.

Ode to Sleep

You loyally await me every night and I long for your comfort.

Your calling is like sweet cream.

Gentle, soothing.

Soft blankets, warm toes, my weight sinking into the bed.

I breathe in. I breathe out.

Slowly.

Dreams may come. Dreams will be forgotten.

But you remain.

Wrapping me in relaxation.

blanket

*If there are rules to poetry, I don’t know them. My sleep deprivation has truly hit a new level when I find myself writing poetry.

Starting Off Easy: Organization

Four months ago on 7/16/2012 I gave birth to my second child, a baby boy. Previous to his birth I joked that things would calm down in our lives once he was born and it’s proved to be true. Sounds crazy, right? This year has brought on some of the most difficult times in the 12 years I’ve been with my husband (six of those being married) and most of it had nothing to do with having a baby. I’m not quite ready to delve into those dark details yet but I will say that out of darkness comes light.

Since Simon’s birth, Derek and I have gone through multiple phases: 1) elatement and adrenaline rush of a new baby, 2) sleep deprivation kicking into full gear, followed by 3) frustration and adjustment to life with new baby.

Simon, 14 days

This has lead me to search for something tangible and concrete that I can control in order to better the situation. Organization was my answer. Organization has taken on many forms in my life but most recently I’ve needed something more structured. It has given me some direction in what can seem like endless days of meal preparation, changing diapers, and laundry.

So I’m sharing a “Weekly Planner” that I developed. It’s a Monday-Friday schedule:

1) Regularly scheduled events are already written in on the day of the week. You’ll notice that Tuesday says “Derek” and Wednesday “Ashley.” Each week Derek and I get a night to ourselves to do whatever we wish (see friends, read, exercise, etc-I can see I’ll be adding blogging to my list now) and the other takes care of the kids for the night. This has eased a lot of stress for us.

2) The column on the right lists items that I do every week but maybe not on the same day. I fill it in at the beginning of each week, as well as, add any scheduled appointments.

3) In case you’re wondering “SS” stand for Stroller Strides. I’m a member and highly recommend it for a great workout and socialization.

4) It’s old school in the sense that I actually print this out each week and fill it in longhand. I know, a lot to ask, but there’s nothing like the act of writing to make you think and help generate ideas.

Weekly Plan

(wasn’t sure how to get it to upload as opened so you can view it right away…tips?)

Without boring you too much more I think I’ll stop there. Please share your thoughts and any ideas you have that help you stay organized week to week. It’s always an evolving process and I’m always looking for ideas.

Why?

Image

As my husband and I sat down to dinner tonight with our two wee ones I told him I was starting a blog. Amongst my ramblings of how I was to do this and what I had learned in my “how to start a blog” searches online (yes, that’s how clueless I am) he asked, “Why? What’s the purpose of the blog?” I’ve only thought about this abstractly in my mind and putting it into words proved to be quite difficult.

You see, two years ago I quit my full-time job as a speech therapist and started a new adventure as a stay at home mom. Although staying at home is not an indefinite plan it certainly causes one to change perspective. In my transformation of becoming a mother I feel I have more to share with the world. Here are my initial thoughts of how I can contribute to your life and hopefully, in return, learn from you as well:

1. Motherhood: The ups and downs of enriching a child’s life.

2. Family: Finding harmony in the light and shadow of kin.

3. Simplicity: The art of keeping things simple and enjoying life’s little blessings.

4. Get a Grip: Learning to be practical in everything from organization to faith.

Since I am a clueless blogger I welcome your tips and tricks of successful blogging and how you came to decide on starting your own blog.

Cheers!