Co-parenting

IMG_7769[1]If you had talked to me 5 years ago, I would have been pretty clear.  Never in a million years would I have pictured myself divorced, knowledgeable about divorce papers, custody, child support, or co-parenting.  Not because I had a rock solid marriage to my ex-husband, but because I couldn’t picture putting my children in that position.  I had a lot of preconceived judgments on the matter as well, but that’s a blog for another day.  Just hearing those words would have struck fear in my heart, sadness, an obvious heartache for the children involved.  I just couldn’t imagine it.  I couldn’t imagine being away from the kids.  I had never even spent more than a night away from any of them.  Staying married seemed to be the answer to the fear that I could potentially be the cause of my children’s suffering.  I had a strong idea that my job was to protect them from hard things.  Staying married would prevent that.  I was wrong.  I made a choice a few years back, a single choice that placed my happiness above anyone else’s.  It was risky because I had never done that before.  I typically operate on the idea that if I can keep everyone around me happy, then I can be happy too.  After taking this leap, I struggled a bit.  Did I just blow my only job?  Did I consciously and directly cause hardship to my children?  Could I shift my mindset?  Was my job really not to prevent hard things for them and give up happiness for myself?  I realized over time, that my job is not to protect them from difficulties in life but to help them survive and thrive in spite of them.  Sure, it’s a hard pill to swallow when you can easily point a finger at your own chest instead of someone else’s.

Now it’s a real thing.  We’ve been doing it for a couple years already.  I’ve had to quickly reshape my worldview on this to survive.  In order not to be consumed by guilt at how I was sure to be “ruining” my kids.  I have lots of mom guilt about lots of things and this is no exception.  I could rationalize the positives and not think too much about the negatives.  But what I didn’t expect was how it’s been a really good thing for everyone.  I’m seeing it myself and our kids and my ex-husband.

There are many things I love about our arrangement.  Mostly it’s my wife and I and all 5 kids.  Sometimes it’s me with the 5 kids.  Some days we just have 4.  Some days we just have 1.  Some days, it’s just the two of us.  I love how it’s always changing.  I love how we can embrace the dynamics each time.  The littlest might get both of us to himself.  The littlest might be with dad and the older kids get some much needed attention.  We can take them to do big kid stuff like Geocaching or camping or hiking or to the movies.  The majority of the time it’s all 5 of them and sometimes it’s loud and chaotic and everyone is fighting but sometimes they are all playing and our girl, right in the middle is playing school teacher for the little boys.  Sometimes they all have friends over and there are 10 children in the house or on the swingset and it’s glorious and stressful all at once.  They are all happily playing and then you catch yourself yelling at the neighbor kid because you treat them all the same.  You’re handing popsicles out left and right and just noticed a kid that isn’t yours is helping themselves to something in the fridge.  Then you sigh in relief when you are back down to “only” 5.  I love bonding with our littlest; free times with no sibling rivalry.  I love babying #4 when he’s the littlest in the house for a day.  I love watching them interact when even a day or 2 separation has them asking after one another.  When our daughter lugs #5 around the house after time apart.

My favorite part is the random breaks we now have the privilege of.  It’s almost not fair but I love it.  To balance out the occasional heartaches of “the second time around” there are some sweet, sweet moments.  When we get the house to ourselves for a night, a weekend, a whole week if the stars all align.  It’s an advantage that we wouldn’t have had if it were the “first time around.”  What typically happens is you get all that “alone time/couple time” up front in your relationship.  You date a couple years, you get married, a year or 2 in you have a baby.  Gone is that time alone.  If you are one of the lucky ones, you have family nearby to spell you, give you a weekend alone, once in a huge while.  We never got the up front time, but we get it sprinkled consistently though our life now, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  I get to go on dates with my wife and we take full advantage of kid-less times.  We embrace it, soak it up, ready to jump if a time falls into our laps.  Then we are just as ready to get the kids back home.

The older kids love spending time with their dad, as he takes them bowling and swimming and to play pickleball and basketball.  They do lots of activities and come home on those weekends exhausted, excited to have gone and ready to settle down into their consistent routines with us.  The only hard part has been some occasional tears coming or going and we have to hold our hearts and hold them and let them cry.  Soon the tears dry and that’s that.  It’s a heartache for sure but I remember that my job is to help them through and not fix it.  They are loved by all the parents and that is all they feel.  We encourage them to be excited and we show our excitement when they come home.

It’s easy to look at all of this in a bubble and see what’s on the surface:  Kids trying to make the most of a broken home.  At least we’re trying but it’s only second best.  But I see something different.  For the oldest 4, I see kids that have a lot more going for them now than they did 3 years ago.  The divorce, the move, the custody agreement have spurred dad on to be involved, active, and present.  This was not the dad that they were growing up with before.  They have two moms now, covering each other, filling each other’s gaps, giving attention, love, and teaching all the time.  They have a mom who gets a break.  Who, in 13 years previously, never, ever did.  I was running out of steam.  No, correction, I had run out of steam long before.  I’m JUST now getting it back.  This summer is the first time, aside from 3 vacations in the past 2 years, that I haven’t been responsible for all the kids since they were born.  I’ve had chunks of 4 or 5 days now at a time, where I’m being relieved.  It’s still new and I can’t say for sure where I’ll land but for right now I know that I needed a break.  I can already see how beyond burnt out I have been functioning, wondering why a 2 day break here, or a 5 day break 2 months ago did nothing to rejuvenate me.  I had started wondering why, after a weekend of freedom I didn’t feel ready to dive in again.  Maybe breaks weren’t the solution, I thought.  But here, even just a month in to a summer where I’ve had just 1 or even a few days all to myself, I can already feel the shift.  I look forward to the weekends, and for the first time in years don’t feel like the worst mom on the planet for not having energy to do “fun things”.    And I’ll look forward to things getting back to “normal” this fall when we have the kids most of the time.

I know it’s looking at the bright side of things and it’s the kids who feel it the most.  I know they would prefer not to have to leave any parent on any given day, but there are 2 sides to every coin.  If they had that, there are so many things they wouldn’t have.  It’s almost impossible in life to make comparisons like that because we tend to forget what wouldn’t be the same. It’s easy for the kids to think that they would have the mom they have in this moment and the dad they have in this moment but it doesn’t work like that.  I think it’s a domino effect.  We can’t take how we are in the present and drop it into a neat little package into an alternate world.  Because we are changed BECAUSE of the situation.  We also can’t forecast the alternate future, saying, “if I hadn’t chosen my wife, my life would have looked like this.”  I can spend my life fretting about the potential negatives I’ve caused for my kids or I can rest on the positives I’m providing for them.  So I’m choosing to focus on the gains we all have, the gains the kids have, and know that I wouldn’t change it for the world.  I love the changes.  I love who my kids are becoming.  I love that we are all better parents for it.  We’ve all chosen to use this situation to pour extra love into our children’s lives as well as each other’s.  Love wins again.

L.O.V.E. (1-17-16)

“Beloved, let us love one another.  For love is of God, and every one that loves, is born of God, and knows God.  He that loves not, knows God not, for GOD IS LOVE.” 1 John 4:7-8  “Love her, love her, love her!  If she favors you, love her.  If she wounds you, love her.  If she tears your heart to pieces-and as it gets older and stronger it will tear deeper-love her, love her, love her!”-Charles Dickens  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-13  “They didn’t agree on much.  In fact, they didn’t agree on anything.  They fought all the time and challenged each other every day.  But despite their differences, they had one important thing in common.  They were crazy about each other.”  The Notebook
“Tell me, tell me that you want me, and I’ll be yours completely, for better or for worse.  I know we’ll have our disagreements, be fighting for no reason, I wouldn’t change it for the world.  Cause I knew, the first day that I met you, I was never gonna let you slip away. “ Kodaline The One  “Love each other deeply, for love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8  “We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19  “True Love isn’t easy but must be fought for, because once you find it, it can never be replaced”  “I love you for all that you are, all that you have been, and all that you have yet to be”
“Find a heart that will love you at your worst, and hold you at your weakest.”  “So I’m gonna love you, like I’m gonna lose you.  And I’m gonna hold you, like I’m saying goodbye. Wherever we’re standing, I won’t take you for granted, Cause we’ll never know when, when we’ll run out of time.”  I’m gonna Love You Meghan Trainor  “She’s the best friend I ever had, and I love her.”  Fried Green Tomatoes
“Unless it is mad, passionate, extraordinary, it is a waste of time.  There are too many mediocre things in life.  Love should not be one of them”  “The best love is the one that makes you a better person, without changing who you are.”  “Where there is great love, there are always miracles.”  WIlla Cather  “I fell in love with her courage, her sincerity, and her flaming self-respect.  And it’s these things I’d believe in, even if the whole world indulged in wild suspicions that she wasn’t all she should be.  I love her and that is the beginning of everything.” F. Scott Fitzgerald. “I have for the first time found what I can truly love – I have found you. You are my sympathy – my better self – my good angel; I am bound to you with a strong attachment. I think you good, gifted, lovely: a fervent, a solemn passion is conceived in my heart; it leans to you, draws you to my center and spring of life, wraps my existence about you – and, kindling in pure, powerful flame, fuses you and me in one.”  Charlotte Bronte~Jane Eyre  “People are like cities: We all have alleys and gardens and secret rooftops and places where daisies sprout between the sidewalk cracks, but most of the time all we let each other see is is a postcard glimpse of a skyline or a polished square. Love lets you find those hidden places in another person, even the ones they didn’t know were there, even the ones they wouldn’t have thought to call beautiful themselves.”  Wild Awake by Hilary Smith  “What a grand thing it is to be loved! What a far grander thing it is to love!” Les Miserables

The Brighter Side of Parenthood Guest Blog 1-22-16)

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Every parent can relate, I know. And, my kids are probably no different than other kids. But, one of the most fun parts of jumping into parenting a brood of five has been the number of wonderfully hilarious things I’ve heard from the children. Of course, they are funnier in context, so partly this list will serve as a reminder in the years to come when other fun things take up storage in our memory banks. I wish I could remember them all or that I had started keeping track sooner. I know I’ve missed some good ones. Still, here are my top 20:
20. #2: Did you know I pulled out 14 eyelashes in one day?
19. #5: Get to cookin’, Moppy!
18. #4: Shotgun! (after we announced it was dinner time)
17. #2: I used to date her. But, that was like 2 years ago. (he’s 10)
16. #2: How old is the oldest parrot? (us: laughing) No, I said PARROT! (us: we know)
15. #3: Dad is coming over for dinner as soon as he’s done time traveling. (she meant time trialing on his road bike)
14. #5: Dave! (when we asked what he wanted to name his elf on a shelf)
13. #1: Come on guys! This is easy! (when we tried to “help” him with fractions)
12. #2: How far could a person fall without dying?
11. #3: The boys are on the roof, again.
10. #3: This is where my mom and her mate sleep. (giving a new friend a tour of the house)
9. #4: (crying) I can’t find my yo-yo. (in the middle of the night)
8. #5: Dadin!! (anytime he sees the other kids’ dad)
7. #2: If you have twins, I think you have to dress them the same.
6. #3: This is where I keep all of my things. (on the floor next to her bed in a jumbled pile…like her dad…)
5. #4: I need to wear my new shoes to bed.
4. #3: No, but I think it would be weird if two guys got married. (after we asked if she thought it was strange that her mom wanted to marry another woman- we’ve got diversity training to do)
3. #2: I just have one more question before I go to bed. (pretty much every night)
2. #2: (sobbing) I never have any free time!
1. #1: They have been practicing this for hours! (during our wedding kiss)


The Other Ex-Husband-In-Law Guest Blog (1-26-16)

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A couple of months ago, my wife wrote a blog about the relationship she has with my ex-husband. Over the summer, we were trying to figure out how to define each other’s ex-husband to others in the fewest words possible. I coined the term “ex-husband-in-law” (although, she kind of takes the credit for this stroke of genius). We are both so lucky to have these men in our lives. Now, it’s my turn to tell you about my ex-husband-in-law (EHIL).

He and I do not have the same kind of relationship that my wife has with my ex-husband. I am harder to get to know. I have these unintended facial expressions that confuse others. I’m harder to get close to than she is. He and I don’t spend as much time together as the other two do. But, my relationship with my EHIL is central to my daily life.

He is one of the most fun guys you could hope to meet. He’s the type of guy who has fun no matter what he is doing. He’s also great at making things fun for others. I still remember the first time I met him. It was over dinner. I was meeting my friend’s husband. Immediately, I could tell that he had this wonderful sense of humor. Pretty early into the evening, he told us about this coffee concoction that he had been drinking. It included some interesting ingredients like butter and eggs and was called “bullet proof” coffee. I watched as my (now) wife tried to stop him from divulging so much strangeness so early into our meeting. He either missed her cues or chose to ignore them. Mostly, what I remember from that first meeting was laughing a lot.

After my wife and I decided to be together, solidifying a positive relationship with my EHIL was critical. It wasn’t just important to me. It was important to him too. At first, we talked on the phone. Then, we texted each other a little. Later, we went out for an evening of running and bar hopping. I remember being so nervous. But, it ended up being a really fun night. I laughed a lot. We talked about his kids- who would become my kids. We talked about him and about me. We learned how to build a Long Island Iced Tea over multiple bar stops, one shot at a time. We ended the night by purchasing commemorative glasses at our last stop and running/walking the last 11 blocks home.

The challenging part of blending families usually has nothing to do with the kids. It’s about the adults. Luckily, I knew this from personal experience. I shared this with my EHIL and told him how important it was to me to support the role he had in his kids’ lives.  He agreed and that has meant more than pretty much anything we’ve shared.

Besides his willingness to share his children with me, my EHIL is kind, generous, and easy to talk to. He really listens when someone talks to him. And, he remembers things he has been told. He builds genuine connections to others. He is smart- like, the kind of guy who can problem-solve almost anything. He is patient and usually the parent to help with homework.

I love watching him interact with #5 (who is not his child). He is playful and loving. In our year of day-to-day interaction, he has been supportive. We’ve called him when with plumbing and heating issues, asked for extra help with the kiddos, and enjoyed his company at various social gatherings.

Is my EHIL prefect? No. Am I? Hell no. But, we have choices in this life. We can choose to focus on the negative things, wish things could be different. I find that to be a wasteful use of brain power. Instead, I challenge myself (and you, our reader) to focus on the good in this life.

So, to my EHIL- I love you very much. You are one of the most important people in my life. I am thankful for you and I look forward to what the future has in store for us and our beautiful family. Thank you for all that you do for our family.

Cheers!

Why We Blog (2-1-16)

  1. A creative energy outlet:  Both of us love to write and it’s been ages since we’ve had a chance.  Since I closed my shop and business I wanted to have an outlet to express myself.
  2. People are interested in our story:  We know you are kind of curious!
  3. We DO have an interesting story:  We recognize how unique our situation is.  Falling in love with your best friend.  Coming out.  Blending families.  Maintaining positive relationships with your exes.  We don’t mind sharing what it looks like from day to day.
  4. We love our life and want to share the love:  We are in love.  It’s magical.  It’s wonderful.  It’s so powerful and deep.  It’s challenging and difficult and some days overwhelming.  But we know what we have is unique and special.  We also have 5 beautiful children that we want to focus on.  LOVE is definitely the key word at our house!  It defines our relationship with each other.  It defines our relationship with our kids, our extended family.  It defines the God I believe in.
  5. We want to show what family is really about:  We both have pretty traditional view of family and how we pictured raising our children.  So when our new family formed, we adapted quickly and realized that family is what you make it. I had worried what it would do to my kids having 2 moms.  What it would do for them having a “broken” home.  But that’s the funny thing.  They don’t have a broken home.  They have a big, beautiful home with 2 moms that love them extra (Just picture the other morning in the kitchen with our 2 year old squeezed in our hug and our 4 year old wiggling in to take part by our legs).  A dad that has time and energy now to spend one-on-one time with them and take them on fun adventures.  It’s only broken if we cultivate negative energy and feelings for those around us.  We have chosen love.  We have all chosen to look at all the good and the positive.  We have chosen to surround ourselves with those that love and support us and understand the importance of this.  That is family.  We love our family, our kids, their dads, our extended family, and even those that aren’t “legally” family anymore.  They are still in our lives, supporting us and loving us, and that’s pretty darn wonderful.  Our kids have extra people in their lives now that love them.  We see that most people look at our life and fall into 2 camps:  Those that think it’s really cool that we all get along and love each other and the kids, and those that think it’s weird.  That it should be “normal” that we don’t get along.  We want to show people that other situations are possible.
  6. We want to focus on the positive:  The more I can focus on the beauty and positivity of our life the better it becomes!  We share the good stuff not because we want to put up a front and live in a fake world.  Take facebook posts for example.  We criticize and compare each other constantly based on what we post.  There’s a belief that when people post these great family moments or a shout out to how amazing their spouse is, it’s really to trick the rest of us into thinking their life is better than it really is.  And the more they post things like that, the more they are trying to cover up what’s really happening.  Even when it’s not happening for the purpose of deception, we also compare the “perfect” family snapshot we read on FB today to our daily grind and wonder what we are doing wrong.  That’s not our point.  We could blog about how hard life is, the challenges, what we all gave up.  But we are purposely not going there.  We want to share that it’s beautiful and wonderful because focusing on that in turn makes it even better.
  7. We blog because a reality tv show is out of the question!  We get the comment often that we should have our own show.  Um, how about starting with a blog first!  J  Our story is fun, but let’s keep it real!
  8. To keep friends and family appraised:  Mass distribution  🙂
  9. We want to be an open book:  From the start, we have been open and honest about our relationship.  We had a choice to try to keep things quiet.  There are a lot of reasons for our choice to be open.  We live in a small town.  We know a lot of people.  It would have been difficult.  There’s no reason to hide it.  We spread the story ourselves.  People will still talk, but there’s a lot less speculation when it’s out in the open.  I believe in being an open book.  I’m an extremely sensitive person but I don’t hide many things.  It helps me build relationships.  People can enjoy, question, learn and love with us!

Birth Ninja (2-2-16)

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I am a birth ninja.  I do most of my work in the cloak of night.  Not many people, including our children, know that while they are sleeping, midwives and doulas are up, catching babies and witnessing the miracle of life.

I have been a childbirth educator, breastfeeding counselor, doula, and student or assistant midwife for about 4 or 5 years now.  It’s my passion.  I have had my own natural births, some at home, some at the hospital, and even got to witness #5 being brought into the world.  Birth is amazing.  It’s natural and powerful and life changing.  Every single time.

For those that don’t know what a doula is, here’s a brief elevator speech:  Doula is Hebrew for “woman servant”.  I say I’m like a personal assistant, only at your birth.  My job at a labor is to encourage, support, and advocate for the mom’s wishes in her birth.  I do everything from educate, inform, research, help with birth plans, and listen, listen, listen; to helping them decide when to go to the hospital, breathing with the mom, boosting dads confidence, back rubs, and calmly telling mom she isn’t really going to die and this will be over soon.  I’m on call for 2 weeks before and after the due date, ready to be at the mom’s side day or night.  I might be at a labor for 2 hours or 36 hours.  Then I help them transition into their new family roles.  The best part of being a doula is being there to support the parents, but I have no medical responsibility.  I almost always doula hospital births, as moms prefer more advocacy to feel confident.

I also was a student midwife but gave that up for now about a year ago.  I still assist on occasion.  I work for the home midwife in town.  We attend home births in our town and nearby.  I help her take vitals, monitor the baby, chart, and be a cheerful gofer for whatever she or the laboring mom might need.  The big difference is that while a doula is hands-on, constantly supporting and encouraging and cheerleading, a midwife usually has a hands-off approach, quietly supporting with physical presence, only stepping up to help if the mom asks.  The more we can leave the mom and her partner be, the smoother labor goes when one is at home.  We focus on the medical, and are there to guide the baby and mom through the process safely.  We monitor mom and baby, are trained to watch for emergencies for transport and are also trained to handle most, though very rare, emergencies at home.  The thing I love about assisting is that home births are calm and peaceful and amazing, but there’s a huge element of responsibility attached.

The best part about birth, is like I said, it’s almost always at night.  Most births I attend pick up during the night, baby is born, and I’m back home near day break.  Several births I’ve attended I’ve left the house when everyone was asleep, and walking in the door minutes before my early, early, early risers wake.  So often the kids never know I am gone!  My favorite story is a few years back I snuck out of the house around 2am.  My then-husband was sleeping and I just slipped out.  I got back home a few hours later.  Around 6 am when it was time to get the kids to school I begged for just another hour of sleep.  He questioned, “why are you so tired?”  “I was at a birth all night!”  Recently, I told one of the local midwives I would cover her assistant being on call for a few nights but apparently neglected to tell my wife I was on-call, figuring the odds were pretty low.  So when I started getting texts at midnight and woke her to tell her I would be back in a few hours, needless to say, she was a bit surprised.  I was back to bed before sunrise!  I love having a very part time job that is so unobtrusive to our family life!  Yes, it’s getting a bit more difficult to lose that much sleep some times, but I only have a birth every once in a while.  When I first started attending births, my reasoning was that I basically hadn’t slept in 10 years anyway (nursing babies!), so since I’m up, I might as well be working.  Now that I get a decent night’s sleep, it’s harder to do, but worth it.  I don’t like to miss a single second of snuggle time with my wife, but she’s so supportive of my practice, I just look forward to getting home!

I write this as I was yet again witness to the miracle of birth at a home just last night.  I got a heads up about an impending labor at 6, served dinner to the family and went for a run with my wife (phone in hand!), crawled in bed for 5 minutes before I got the text to head out.  I left home around 9pm and came home by 2 am.  Another birth, another miracle of life that I got to witness!  I feel so honored to be part of this pivotal moment in people’s lives.


A Birth Story (2-3-16)

PictureWe celebrate #4’s 4th birthday today!  In celebration, I want to share his fun, unusual, and kind of hilarious birth story:

He is #4.  That means I had already given birth to 3 other kiddos.  The first 3 are around 2 years apart, and my then-husband, J, and I thought we were done.  Three and some odd months go by, and I realize I’m pregnant!  Surprise!  I could not believe it.  Shocked, I was already in love with the little peanut growing inside me.  I was set on another home birth.  We had already had a hospital birth, home birth, hospital birth, thus far and even though I happened to have a rare complication during my home birth, I was determined to have another home birth.  I felt safe about it, comforted, and confident in the midwife I had chosen.  J reluctantly agreed.  He was all for the statistical safety of home births, but had a little PTSD from the scare last time.  (I had hemorrhaged.  Thankfully the midwife is trained for this, and even though it was a rare kind, she got the job done!  Which gave me even more confidence that they can handle things like this.  After having another normal delivery, the odds were good that it wouldn’t happen again).  Over the pregnancy he grew more at peace with the idea, especially after we came up with several plans and were prepared for any type of situation.  I had been a doula and childbirth educator for just a year, so I was devouring midwifery texts as my pregnancy progressed.  I wanted to be a midwife after this!  One of my favorite memories was attending a couple births, 8 months pregnant.  With one client we weren’t totally sure who would have her baby first!  I remember attending her birth at 36 weeks, being on my feet all night at the hospital, and laughing to myself because if I went into labor there, I would leave the hospital to go home and have a baby.  J  I could just imagine letting the attending doctor know.

One of our big concerns was that the midwife was over an hour away, and I was due on Valentine’s day.  Where we live, weather is a big deal, and even a small amount of snow can wreak havoc on the highways when it combines with our ever-present winds.  Roads frequently close because they get deadly in a hurry.  We talked about this, but it doesn’t usually snow much around here until closer to spring.  I also tend to have pretty fast labors, and they start and stop, start and stop, but once they rev up, it’s pretty fast.  So I don’t always have a great heads up (the contractions start and stop for weeks every night), to let the midwife know.  My previous home birth was a whole 2 hours long.  And the babies come a few weeks early.

This birth, I was determined to enjoy.  I was going to do everything I had always wanted to do but never did.  Make a music play list.  Sew my own birth skirt.  Have a couple friends attend just to enjoy the process.  Invite someone who had always wanted to see a birth.  It would be a party, enjoyable, and a great way to have my last.

The day of February 2 pretty much sucked.  I woke up with the stomach flu, and puked so many times that day I couldn’t take care of the other kiddos, or get out of bed.  I’ve never been so sick it’s made me weak.  Being 9 mo pregnant made it that much more miserable.  I was dues on Valentines, but of course, when all the other babies make an appearance 1-3 weeks early, you kind of count on that.  By the evening, I had stopped being sick, but was grumpy because I just knew that there was no way I was going to have a baby that weekend being so weak I hadn’t eaten all day.  The midwife and I had joked about having a Groundhog Day baby, and laughed that everyone was free that day.  So, I may get a little grumpy when I’m pregnant and convinced the baby will never come out.  I debated calling the midwife about what to eat, but then realized that was dumb, what was she going to say?  Uh, try some soup later and re-hydrate?  I guess I already knew the answer.  I fell asleep easily that night, being so exhausted.

A painful contraction woke me up a bit after midnight.  This wasn’t too unusual for me so I got up to walk around the house, calm my uterus down and have it go away so I could go back to bed.  After 3 contractions, I realized they were pretty strong and weren’t going to go away.  I woke up J.  I said, “I think I’m in labor, but I’ve only had 3 contractions.”  He jumped up, “call the midwife!”  I scoffed.  “I am not waking her up in the middle of the night if I don’t know if I am in labor!”  “Dude, call her or I will.  I do not want to have to catch this baby!”  He won that argument.  I called her and she didn’t answer.  Fifteen minutes later she called me back.  By then I was moaning through my contractions, explaining that while they were super close together already (3 min), they were only 30 seconds long.  She said I sounded pretty serious and maybe she should start getting ready.  And oh, by the way, there’s 6 inches of snow on the ground so it might be a while.

By then I was thinking that here I hadn’t eaten for 24 hrs, and was feeling like a huge wimp.  I had only been in labor 20 minutes and already moaning out loud?  Sheesh!  It was going to be a long morning!  And who was I to teach about childbirth when I could barely handle early labor?  I was going to have to rethink my teaching points.  I also smelled really bad.  I came up with a bulletproof plan:  Take a bath to address the smell, while getting relaxed enough to slow things down, and I could eat some chicken soup IN the tub.  Perfect!

Meanwhile, J went into task mode.  He was busy throwing a mattress on the floor in the living room, starting a fire (my dream birth place, to birth in the warm glow of the cozy fire), heating me up some soup, and getting the birth supplies out.

I was in the tub, shoveling in soup for the long labor ahead.  Sigh of relief that my contractions took a little break.  J was busy preparing, occasionally checking on me or suggesting that maybe we should just go to the hospital as he had talked to the midwife again and they hadn’t even left yet.  He told me he was going to quick go outside to shovel the walk for the midwives.  I was at the point in labor that I wasn’t budging, and certainly not getting in a car.

Suddenly I had an overwhelming urge to go to the bathroom.  (Birth is quite glamorous, FYI).  I jumped out of my 2 inches of standing bath water and on to the pot.  I felt my water break and literally jumped off like a cartoon character, pretty convinced that I was about to birth my baby into the toilet.  I took a knee on the bathroom floor like a football player and all I could think of was that if I just push this would all be over.  I must have made a noise that made J turn around, but by the time he did, I was holding the baby in my arms.  In the past I had always seen women catch their own babies, but in all my other labors could remember how chaotic and out-of-body that pushing phase was.  I couldn’t see how these women could be calm enough to just reach down and catch.  But when I was in this situation, it became quite natural.  I suddenly knew what to do, even thinking about checking for the cord as he was delivered.

Our sweet, good-natured, laid back little man got his personality honestly.  He came out ruddy red, just looking around and into my eyes, as if to say, “oh, hey, mom.”  J panicked that he wasn’t making noise, but I simply wiped off his mouth with a nearby towel and looked at him and said, “oh, don’t worry, he’s fine.”  J instantly calmed down and went off to call the midwife.

I’ll spare the details of the placenta, but eventually I made my way to the mattress near the fire and held the little guy.  We had called my friend at some point, and while she lived 7 blocks away and flew over as fast as she could, she missed the birth.  She was amazing at the postpartum support, and we had also been on the phone with the midwife.

The best part was that he was born by 1:31am.  The midwives arrived at 3:30am, checked me and the baby out, gave us a bath, and tucked me into bed in the living room, and left before the other 3 kiddos woke up!  #1 wandered out of bed around 6 am, found me in the living room with the baby, checked him over, declared him cute, and went back to bed.

So I didn’t have a chance to play my music, have friends over, wear my birth skirt, or even have a midwife attend!  Our fear of snow and a fast labor definitely happened but the birth went perfectly.  I wouldn’t trade this story for the world!  We still laugh about the ensuing hilarity of our chaotic preparations for the birth.


Fridays I’m in Love (2-12-16)

God is good.  All the time.

It’s a great day today.  The weather here is mild, such a welcome relief this time of year.

I was at an amazing birth last night, and although I always worry and joke that babies come at the worst time, it always times just perfectly.  Out of the house at 8:00pm, back in bed by 11:20pm.  The kids were taken care of, no huge schedule rearranging or panic.  And, it was another beautiful birth.  Always a good day when you are witness to life.

My life is ridiculously easy nowadays.  There are so many hands helping, 8, as opposed to 2 of my own that I had grown used to.  I used to feel like I was drowning in life.  Now I’m sailing in it.
I am surrounded by the best kids in the world.  Kids that throw fits, yes, fight, but they have hearts of gold.  We catch them helping the little ones.  We catch them carrying on discussions long into the night.  We catch them intuitively knowing what’s going on around them.  We catch them being more in tune than any adult could be.  We find notes that say “My Moms are awesome.  You are truly amazing!” from our 8 year old.

I have two best friends besides my wife.  They also happen to be our children’s dads.  I look forward to the days when we can spend time together and talk.  I have no loneliness in this life!
I have a hot date tonight.  A super hot date.  I can’t wait.  I married a woman I never get tired of being in her presence.  And we have a gift of a night alone, away from the house!  We get these often, which is incredible.  It does include a 12 mile run.  Of which I could complain, but a year ago I never would have attempted.  Progress.

Have I mentioned I have this gorgeous wife?  Who started out as the best friend I had ever had.  Who is still the best friend I’ve ever had.  And she chose me.  She grows me into a better person every day.  Sometimes joyfully, sometimes painfully.  But growth is always good.  It’s amazing to be with someone that knows you so deeply, it’s hard to stay open.  It would be easy to close down, and start building walls.  But you take a risk and stay open.  And then suddenly, your love gets even deeper, closer, more connected than ever.  And it’s a beautiful thing.

I have extended family.  They are there for us, for the kids, whole-heartedly embracing us!  My family has grown and enveloped wonderful people.  It’s a blessing I could never have fathomed.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.  His love endures forever! ~Psalm 136:1

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Just 2 of 9 my favorite people in the world!

Thank Heaven For Little Boys (2-14-16)

i love parenting another “set” of little boys. Our first set are 2 years apart and they definitely kept me on my toes. As a new mom, it was sometimes overwhelming, and all I could do to keep my head above water. This set of boys, #4 & #5, are also 2 yrs apart, and whether it’s personality, or being a now-well-seasoned mom in a happy place, I’m enjoying watching them be little boys. Recently we had a mild day in the middle of winter, and kids around here take full advantage:

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A hill. A very steep hill. Rocks. Temps above freezing. A perfect situation. Notice the shorts. In February. #itsabove32
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Sliding down the hill! #sagebrushisprickly
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Back home for a picnic. It’s at least 40 out! Sweet!
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Our ice rink is melting so let’s just rollerblade. Mom pointed out we were sweating in our winter coats
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Wait! I have an idea!
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Totally! I concur! Great idea!
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Rollerblading down a slide doesn’t seem daring enough…good thing I remembered where this ladder is.
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Who needs snow!?!
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Mom, you clearly need something to do today. How about “pushing” us around the yard in the grass and dirt?!
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These shoes seemed too organized. We should definitely pitch in and help mom out. Load ’em up!
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Now for a refreshing waterless tubby.