Friday, January 3, 2014

Activity Matrix

I'm busy. Very busy. And although I don't adhere to a strict schedule, my routine does not offer much free time at the moment for things like scheduled exercise. Rather than sit around and mourn for the lost movement time, I've decided to work towards putting what I do through an activity matrix, using four simple questions.

1. Can I do this activity while walking? Some activities that qualify: talking in person, talking on the phone, holding the baby, working on memorization with the boys.

2. If I can't do this activity walking, can I do this activity standing? Activities that qualify: Computer time, laundry, kitchen activities, reading (Erin).

3. If this activity can't be done walking or standing, can I do this activity sitting on the floor in a variety of postures? Activities that qualify: working on reading with Nathan, reading books to the boys, cuddling the baby, helping the baby practice her newest tricks, breastfeeding (sometimes).

4. If an activity can't be done walking, standing or sitting on the floor, can it be done in the most relaxing way possible to facilitate energy for movement at other times?

I'll be using these questions to try to amp up the movement levels in my everyday life, while still getting (almost) everything else done.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

January focal points

I've got a lot of stuff (and people) in my life to manage right now. In fact, there is way more that should be done than possibly can be done at this time. That's why I'm typing this blog one-handed while nursing a baby. Multi-tasking: an unfortunate reality in the life of this busy mom. Instead of doing New Year's Resolutions (which I don't usually do anyways), I've decided to try choosing three areas that need dedicated focus and work on them for a month. Here's my picks for January!

1. I'm trying the GAPS diet with Daniel. He has ongoing issues with severe eczema and food allergies, and I've been wanting to try this diet for a long time. Now is the time! I really hope that this diet will help with Daniel's skin, especially since this is the time of year that is typically his worst. This diet requires lots of cooking (even more than usual), so it's definitely something I need to invest time in.

2. I want to give additional focus and energy to Nathan's homeschool and working on some behavior issues. He's doing well, but I feel like if I give him more time and attention, he'll be able to do even better. He also needs some practice on skills like standing still (which he can hardly do at all right now).

3. I'm planning to continue my quest toward minimalism by decluttering more. I am already an ardent fan of simplifying, and I'd like to streamline even more. Less stuff, more time, more living.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

What every mom needs to hear

This is for all the wonderful moms I know, some near and some far. If I could look you in the eyes right now, this is what I would say to you:

You're doing a great job.

I'm proud of you.

You're doing the right thing for your family.

It's okay not be perfect.

This phase won't last forever.

You don't have to love every moment of parenting to be a good mother.

Needing a break from your children doesn't mean you don't love them.

You are a uniquely gifted person. Your children are extraordinarily blessed to have you as their mother.

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for you.

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for your children.

There are as many styles of mothering as there are mothers. Don't compare what you do poorly to what others do well. In fact, it's best not to compare yourself to others at all.

Hang in there.

Just being there for your children, loving them the best you can, is the best gift you can give them.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The definition of...

Disappointment is:
  Getting out of the shower dripping wet only to discover there are no bath towels in the bathroom at all. Drying oneself with a used washcloth from the kids bath the day before. Finding a hand towel on the sink only after completing said drying.

Perseverance is:
  Feeding your children again for fifth time. Before eleven a.m. Because it's just possible that they could actually be hungry. And because maybe after this time they'll stop asking, at least until lunchtime.

Delight is:
  When your baby grins at your husband from your arms because you're her favorite. Because you are with her literally all the time. And because you are her sole source of nourishment. But mainly because you are so awesome.

Despair is:
  How you feel when you think about how you ought to be able to keep the kitchen and bathrooms clean, do the laundry, and vacuum the floors at least once a week.

Exhaustion is:
  Nursing your baby who has a cold for 45 minutes because she won't take the passy because her nose is stopped up until she is finally sound asleep, putting her in her bed, laying down in your bed, falling asleep for ten minutes, and awaking to the sound of crying baby. Doing the zombie walk to crib, sucking snot out baby's nose with a bulb syringe while half asleep, then proceeding to nurse baby for another 45 minutes. Repeating for the remainder of the night.

Elation is:
  When your baby sleeps for four hours in a row after two nights of exhaustion, and you sleep the same four hours she does.

Anxiety is:
  Spelling out the word monster for your four year old to put together using plastic letters while doing yoga. Interrupting a relaxing stretch to check order of letters. Finding each letter turned backwards, and the word monster spelled neatly from right to left.

Happiness is:
  When your baby reaches for you for the first time. When your four year old tells you he loves you one hundred million infinity. When your six year old is finally able to read, and understand, an entire sentence. When all your babies finally go to bed and you get to talk to your husband for ten uninterrupted minutes before you go to bed. Because on the off chance that the baby sleeps another four hour stretch, you don't want to waste it staying awake.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Are you an adventurous whole foods cook? Take this quiz to find out...

Have you peeled and cored a pineapple?
Add 1 point.

Do you know what a leek is?
Add 1 point.
Do you know how to make at least one dish using leeks?
Add 2 points.

Have you cooked liver (any variety)?
Add 4 points.
Was it delicious?
Add 5 points.

Have you mixed your own sausage from scratch?
Add 3 points.

Have you ever purchased a piece of fruit without knowing what was actually the edible part?
Add 2 points.

Have you ever made, and drank, a green smoothie?
Add 3 points.

Have you ever fermented a food or beverage at home?
Add 5 points.

Do you have more than 5 vegetables in your regular dinner rotation?
Add 3 points.

Have you ever made a dish using fresh pumpkin?
Add 2 points.

Have you ever cooked all three meals of the day completely from scratch?
Add 7 points.

0-5 points: Whole foods novice. Please, go eat a vegetable...any vegetable.
6-20 points: Dabbler. You've tried a few things, but you can't completely give up your convenience foods.
21-30 points: Getting close. You take care of your health and like trying new things.
31-38 points: Whole hog. Literally. Very adventurous. You are fearless in the kitchen and you have never met a food you aren't willing to try cooking.

For those of you who are math challenged, like me, a perfect score is 38 (I think).

If you're feeling brave, you can post your score below!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Kaitlyn's birth story-Part 7

I managed to rest some in between contractions, but it felt like they were getting closer and harder. I was still coping pretty well (moaning, but not screaming or feeling ready to die), but in my head I was thinking over and over, "It's going to get so much worse. I don't know if I can do this as long as it's going to take. What will I do when it gets worse? I might have to have the epidural." I was also feeling a little bit of an urge to push at the peak of some of the contractions, and I was working hard to stay relaxed. I had some pushing sensations with Daniel around 7 centimeters and I had worked hard to not push before I was fully dilated. I was convinced that I was once again experiencing premature urge to push.

I felt like I needed some relief from the pain, so despite my worries about using the water to provide pain relief to early and not having it work well for later in the process when the pain got really bad, I asked if I could get in the birthing tub. The midwife checked my contraction pattern and said that I was okay to get in the water--yay! There was a lot of movement in the room as the tub was assembled, and it seemed to take forever for the tub to be ready. I kept moaning through contractions, saying "Aahhhh..." Finally,  around 1:00 a.m. someone said I could get in the (still only half full) tub of water. Despite being in active labor, I clamored over the inflated walls lickety-split and sank into the hot water. Bliss. Tremendous relief. The contractions were immediately taken down a couple of notches. I was so happy. I was sitting at the edge of the pool, and between each contraction I would lean my head back and completely relax. My mom and Stephen were putting cold cloths on my head and giving me sips of cool water.

Gradually, my contractions went from being very frequent to more spaced out. I felt my anxiety level rise. I just knew that getting in the water had caused my induced labor to stall. Although I was coping really well at the moment, I knew that a stalled labor would mean getting out of the water and getting hooked back up to Pitocin. I felt my plans for an unmedicated birth go out the window. I could not keep going for who knows how much longer with stronger Pitocin contractions and minus the pain relief of the water.

Although my contractions had spaced out, I was still feeling kind of pushy at the peak of my contractions. I was working really hard to relax through that feeling instead of pushing with it. Most of the time I was able to breathe through the sensation without adding to it, but every now and then, my body would involuntarily add to the push, and my soft moaning would turn into a sharper "Ugh!" I could feel the baby shifting quite a bit inside me, and I visualized her getting moving around to get in the perfect position for delivery.

I sat in the water, coping and still worrying about how I was going to get through the rest of this labor that was going to be so long, so hard, and so painful. The room had gotten really quiet. I had been in the water for about an hour and 45 minutes. I decided that I needed to talk through my situation with Que as I badly needed a pep talk. I opened my eyes for the first time since getting in the pool and lifted my head up to try to locate my support people. The first thing I saw was Stephen, sound asleep in the reclining chair. I saw my mom and mother-in-law sitting quietly in two chairs at what looked like quite a distance from the tub. I couldn't even see Que at all.  I thought, "Am I doing this by myself?" (Stephen told me later that I had been so relaxed and coping so well by myself that they were trying to rest up while they could to help me through the pushing phase later.)

At this point, it was almost 3:00 a.m. Since I couldn't see her anywhere, I said, "Que?" She immediately popped her head over the side of the tub, and I started explaining everything to her: how the contractions had spaced way out, how I was worried that my labor was stalling, how I wasn't sure I could keep doing it without an epidural if I had to get out of the tub and start having Pitocin again. Instead of providing me with a detailed plan of action like I expected, she said, "Well, you've been in that one position for a long time. For the next contraction, why don't you try squatting. Then after that, you can get into whatever position you want."

I was willing to try anything, so I moved somewhat clumsily into a squat facing the side of the pool so I could hold on and keep my balance. I felt a lot of movement from the baby, like she was twisting inside me. It was incredibly intense and after I completed the one contraction in a squat, I shifted into a kneeling position, still leaning on the inflatable side of the tub. After having one more contraction in that position, Que said to me, "You've got the purple line; you're completely dilated." As a doula, I knew about the purple line (it's a dark line that runs up between the butt cheeks, getting longer as you dilate more), but I didn't have a lot of personal experience with it, and with the head space I was in, that was not what I was expecting to hear. "You have a long way to go," yes. "We need to restart Pitocin," okay. "You have the purple line and you can push now," you said what? I said, "How reliable is that?" Que replied, "Very."

I sat in the pool for a couple of minutes stunned, but quickly decided that this was awesome, awesome news. All that I had to do for this labor to be over, and for me to get my nap which I still very much wanted, was to push this baby out, and now that I was fully dilated, I could. Yes! Without saying another word to anyone, as soon as the next contraction hit, I pushed as hard as I could. I could hear myself screaming as I pushed, and I remember thinking that I was probably scaring some of the women laboring in other rooms. (Remember our episode with the screaming woman and then the baby crying? This is when Stephen jumped up from his nap and grabbed the camera.) Que asked me if I wanted to reach inside and feel for the baby's head. I did, and I could feel a firm head, although my membranes hadn't ruptured, and I could still feel a slippery, rubbery layer over it, kind of like the top of a jellyfish. The baby's head wasn't that high up, so I redoubled my pushing effort with the next contraction. It hurt, but I repeated a mantra to myself, "The only way out of this is through it. The only way out of this is through it."

I was vaguely aware that the midwife was being summoned (fortunately she happened to be right outside my door at that moment), she put her gloves on, came over and reached into the water to check my progress as another contraction hit and said, "Slow down your pushing!" My doula brain knew that meant, "You're crowning, and we don't want you to rip yourself open," so I tried to dial the pushing way back, while still giving enough to oomph to get the baby out. My water broke as I was pushing the baby out. Anjli said, "Reach down and take your baby." I lifted her between my legs and placed her on my chest as I moved from kneeling to leaning on the side of the birth pool. The very first thing I said was, "You're out, baby!" (That's what you say when you deliver your baby at almost 43 weeks gestation). The next thing I did was look between her legs to verify that she was, in fact, a girl. (She was.) My entire pushing phase lasted 15 minutes, and about 3 contractions. Kaitlyn was born at 3:14 a.m. on July 17th.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Kaitlyn's birth story-Part 6

Between contractions, we were still chatting and I would half listen to Que and Stephen talk during each contraction. Around 8:00 p.m, Dr. Bootstaylor poked his head in to say hi. I went to the bathroom and was having some bloody show. I got tired of sitting on the birth ball and perched on the bottom corner of the bed while I ate some grapes. Stephen decided to make a dinner run to Chick-fil-a before things got more intense (with my approval). I leaned over onto the dinner tray trying to utilize forward leaning to help the baby get into the best position for birth. From where I was sitting, I could see the Atlanta cityscape. I started to focus in on a single traffic light, so far away that it was tiny. Red, green, yellow. Red, green, yellow. The room got quiet as I lost interest in conversing. Que provided silent support. Stephen was gone for quite a while (I found out later that they had closed the main entrance, and he had to go through the emergency entrance), and during the time he was gone, my labor shifted from somewhat noticeable to undeniable active labor. I was starting to moan a little during my contractions (one of my favorite ways to cope). When Stephen walked in, I said, "Okay, I'm ready for you to call our moms." Then he said, "Well, actually, they're already here. They're out in the waiting room. Do you want me to call them in?" I wanted a few more minutes, but then I told him to summon the moms. I found out later that they had decided to drive up before it got dark, and had just arrived planning to hang out in the waiting room until Stephen called. As it turned out, the Lord orchestrated that detail perfectly so that when I was ready for them to come, they were already there.

When they walked in, I was leaning over the tray table with my head buried in a pillow. By this time, my eyes were closed and I barely managed to acknowledge their greetings. By about 10:00 p.m, the Pitocin had been turned up to 4, contractions were frequent, and I started throwing up. I would have a pretty intense contraction, coping well through most of it, only to have my coping interrupted two-thirds of the way in by a throw up episode. Que had put some peppermint oil on a paper towel, and my mom was applying cool clothes to my forehead. At one point, I grabbed the peppermint oil towel and wiped my mouth with it (keep in mind, my eyes were still closed). Finally, when I had thrown up so many times that my stomach was totally empty, I stopped.

Around 10:30, I was really feeling the contractions, and I was worried. I knew Pitocin contractions were often harder to handle, but I felt like I was reaching my coping limit, and I wanted to try getting in the water. I knew the only way that could happen was if we were able to completely turn the Pitocin off and for labor to continue without it. I asked to have the midwife come in. Anjli came in and I expressed my desires, so she suggested that we do a cervical exam to make sure that I was progressing before we figured out what to do next. I was 5 cm, and -1 (Yay! Progress!), so she suggested we try turning off the Pitocin and breaking my water. I did not want my water broken. I felt like that had contributed to the fetal distress Nathan experienced during my first induction, and with that experience plus all the research I had done, breaking my water was an option I wanted to use as more of a last resort than an early part of an induction. I told Anjli that I didn't want my water broken, and could we just try turning off the Pitocin first, and to my great relief, she said that absolutely we could do that.

At this point, I was so tired. So, so tired. Like the most aggravating thing about the contractions was that they were keeping me from going to sleep. I started fixating on taking a nap. I just knew that when they turned the Pitocin off, the contractions would stop, I would get to take my nap, and then after a while we would start it back up and finish the process of giving birth. I was laying on my side in the bed at this point, so hopeful. The nurse came in and turned off the Pitocin, and I continued to vocalize through each contraction, just waiting for them to stop. The contractions spaced out just a little bit, but to my great disappointment, they just kept coming. After a while I began to think that, to my great surprise, apparently labor was rolling along on its own, it was not about to stop, and I was not going to get to take a nap before delivering this baby.