Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Business of Skin. Fear. The Power of the Mind.

A journal excerpt:

"Things are progressing wonderfully [with my pregnancy]. My favorite part of it all is feeling my little baby moving around in the there. Sometimes his movements are like an explosion, and I can visibly see my belly jump. Other times, he moves slowly, gliding a body part (I don't know which one! A head? A bum? A foot?) across my stomach. That always tickles. It's like someone is dragging a feather across my skin - only from the inside. It's a tickle I can't scratch away. And still other times, when I rest my arm or my hand on my belly, it's as if he wants to snuggle me - or, at least, he likes the heat and pressure of my hand on him. He'll swim right up and rest against me for a minute, not moving, but just pushing against my arm. And during those moments is when I realize there is just skin between us. Just skin keeping me from touching my son. 

Just as there is only skin keeping us from seeing one another's souls.

I think of that often. How incapable our bodies are of truly experiencing our Heavenly selves, our souls.

I think the day I give birth to this boy will be the closest to being a Goddess I can be on this Earth. I will put aside my own body, my own skin, my own pain - and I will go into my very soul, greeting my son on the way and telling him we are all ready now.

For a second our souls will grasp each other, knowing it will be a full lifetime until we experience each other in this way again. And just as quickly, his soul will retreat back to his body, and then...he will emerge from my body, a separate life, a separate human. 

But instead of being disappointed our souls are not intertwined anymore, I will simply be overwhelmed and overjoyed that my skin is touching his skin, his heat in my arms, against my chest, my eyes searching his. 

What a beautiful day - who would not look forward to such a thing as this?

I no longer fear labor. I did at one point. But no more.
I do not believe there will be pain - call me crazy, or naive. Judge me as a silly first time mother. Say what you will.

I accept discomfort. But I do not accept pain. I cannot."

And this is what I must - and do! - tell myself. Often. 

And also a past, never published post from my second trimester:

Things have really improved around here in the last 5 weeks. My nausea has mostly disappeared, besides the occassional instances, and  I have energy to do the things I want  - and more. But the energy is nothing without motivation. That was the one thing I seriously lacked during my first trimester. And it made me feel lazy, icky, boring, anti-social, and lame.  And pretty much I was all those things, and understandably so. 

But since the second trimester has hit, I am unstoppable. I clean, I sew, I photograph, I edit, I craft, I write a 50k word novel, I talk on the phone and in person, I actually fulfill my church responsibilities, I shop, and I also read. A lot.

And most of it is all about this little baby growing inside of me.  I thought that the more I learned about this baby, the closer I would feel to it. While this is true, I've noticed something else, too. I feel a lot closer to myself.  This is the most me I've felt in awhile. Suddenly, doing all I can to have a healthy and safe and happy pregnancy and baby has made me healthy and safe and really, really happy. 
If you had asked me my thoughts on conception, pregnancy, labor, or anything in-between, not only would I have been pretty clueless, but I would have said, I'm a doctor-and-a-hospital-kind-of-gal. And I'll probably need some of that pain medicine, too, though I really hate needles, being on drugs, and the thought of not being able to feel my body tell me  It's time to push. I would have shook my head at "hippie" at-home-births or otherwise similar births (No offense, J). But most of all, I would have been scared. Out of my mind scared. 

And that would have been it. 

But now that I'm big and growing and in love with someone I've never met and know very little about besides the fact that I am in charge of its well-being... 

Everything has changed. 

I don't eat veggies from the can, but frozen in a bag. I don't take the receipt from the cash register lady, but instead look at Adam with raised eyebrows. I cover my mouth with my jacket when I pass someone smoking and whisper, "Save the baby!" to myself.  I lay in bed into the wee hours of the night with excitement and anticipation preventing me from falling asleep, and I just feel the tiny whirling of a baby tumbling around in my belly. I exercise, knowing that the healthier I am, the healthier my baby will be and the easier labor will be. I do yoga, not only to stretch out all areas of my body, but to also re-teach my body to relax and find an inner peace, even when distracted.

And I have officially decided to birth at a birthing center with a midwife. 

And that's where I stopped writing on that subject. I suddenly feared that women reading this would think I was trying to be superior or know-it-all, that I would judge someone who birthed in a hospital or used pain medication. I absolutely do not. One bit. I just know the sensitivity of this topic with women and I didn't want to offend. But now, I have the courage to write this, knowing that I just want to share my pregnancy and birth experience - no harm intended. In fact, I hope I do the opposite of harm - I hope I help someone else out there looking for a different way of doing things!

So, I'll tell you this. It's true. I'm going to deliver at a birthing center, and want my delivery to be as natural as possible. Adam and I are taking a Hypnobirthing class, and I am really enjoying it. No, it's not about me being hypnotized - it's more about deep relaxation and being in full control of my mind, while surrendering my labor to my body. 

As a Mormon, I know women's bodies are a perfect design for delivering babies - because God made them so! I believe in a loving Heavenly Father who wants us to have joy in creation and in our posterity. He made the process of conception loving and tender and enjoyable, and I fully believe in the possibility and capability of a delivery that is a similar type of experience. 

The turn-around point for me was when I found the book Mind Over Labor. It's what opened my eyes to another way, a different version of birth than what I had been imagining and what's been imprinted in my mind my whole life by the media, society, and women around me. Then I began talking to a friend about her Birthing Center and home births, and I realized I could have something different. 

I know, it's kind of a foreign concept for some. It was for me, as I admitted above. And it's even been difficult trying to explain all of this to my mother - who had both of her children in a hospital, with an epidural during the birth of my brother. She's worried about everything that could go wrong, and the safety of the Birthing center. I validate her fears - but I do not have them myself. I remind her that all my life she has been telling me to think positively, and that the power of the mind is tremendous. As we believe, so it shall be. I'm sure deep down somewhere in there a lot of my decision to birth in this way comes from her. 

She has lots of questions - and I'm doing my best to answer them and assure her. And I'll do the same for you. If you have questions, or if you want to chat, about anything - pregnancy related or not! - I'm up for it. I'm not here to judge or criticize, but I'll certainly have a kind and civil discussion with you. 

And, when it's all said and done and that baby is out and my labor is over ---

I'll be completely honest with you. I'll tell you what I felt - or didn't feel! - and if I'm happy with the way things went. 

As for now, I am excited to give birth. And that's not something I thought I'd ever be able to say.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Happy Birthday to the Man of My Dreams!

My husband turns 26 years old today.

Birthdays are kind of a big deal to me - I love to be spoiled on mine, and I love to spoil on others'. But Adam is a pretty chill guy and when I try to figure out what he would want or do for his birthday, he is content with a small cake at home with just him and I and minimal presents. We were talking the other day about the best way to celebrate a birthday and Adam said, "Birthdays are a time to celebrate a person's life, their having been born, not to spoil them."

And so I got to thinking. How do I honor the day that my husband was born? How do I thank God for not only giving Adam a body (and a nice one, at that) and a chance to come to earth, but also for somehow allowing our two seemingly separate and distant lives to collide in such a way that we would meet and fall in love and decide to spend not just the rest of our lives together, but the rest of eternity? 

How do I say thank you to Adam for asking me to be His Wife? For accepting and loving and honoring me?

How do I say "I'm glad you're alive and mine and the father of my son and today is special because 26 years ago you were born and then you lived and grew and learned and developed and then we met and my whole world changed,"?

I don't know how to do it.

Adam is an amazing man.

He was born into such a beautiful, loving family. He very much honors his mother and father. He cherishes their opinions and shows gratitude to them for having raised him in such a wonderful environment. He looks back on his childhood with fondness.

He is close to his siblings - they are some of his best friends. This was tough competition for me when we first started dating!

Not only do they love him tremendously, but his ginormous heart is filled with just as much love for them in return. He is a fantastic Uncle, and I knew right away he would make such a great father. 

He is just as loyal to his friends as he is his family. Ben and him are tight, and we both think of Ben as another brother. 

He served an honorable mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
He sacrificed two years of his life in the service of the Lord, pushing himself beyond his comfort level and limits. He taught and preached what he knows in his heart to be true, and was brave enough to open his mouth and share it with the world. 

Adam kept his body and mind pure and worthy to be married in the temple of the Lord. 
This means he is moral, he doesn't drink, he doesn't smoke, and doesn't swear, and overall he is a Christ-like person. He is an incredibly good example to me of someone who is committed. 
He is such a great husband. I have especially learned this as I have gotten more and more pregnant the last 7 months. He rubs my feet and back and arms and lets the dog out so I don't have to and makes me dinner. He tells me I don't need make up and that my growing belly is beautiful and that he can't wait to become a dad.

Adam has many talents. One of them is his artistic abilities. He has an eye for design and color, and I am always asking him for advice with my photos and graphic designs. 

He is also a wonderful singer and actor. He was in many plays throughout college and I always loved watching him perform. He absolutely knows how to capture an entire audience and make them laugh and love him.

Adam is an incredibly hard worker. Physically, he has worked construction on several homes. He wakes up every morning, earlier than I ever thought I would see him rise!, and goes to work in an environment where he is constantly learning new things. Mentally, he is always coming up with bigger and better ways of doing things, and he sets out to accomplish them right away. He graduated from college with a degree in Information Technology and minors in Computer Science and Information Systems. Spiritually, he is the Young Men's president in our ward and he puts so much time and effort and wisdom in leading them. 

Lastly, Adam knows how to have fun. I laugh daily with him. We dance in the kitchen and sing in the shower and use funny accents and tickle and tease and play and are weird and silly
 -- and we do this 

So, knowing all that about him, and knowing how full my heart is with love towards him and gratitude for being blessed with him as my husband, I am left with inadequate ways of saying 

Happy Birthday,
Thank you

But at least I have the rest of eternity to keep trying.
I love you Adam.
My one and only.
My hero.
My husband.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Lucky 13

Here's me at 13 weeks.
Remember that?
Yeah that was fun.

Here's me (just over) 13 weeks later, with (just over) 13 weeks left to go.

.....and a side-by-side comparison for your viewing pleasure.
Same shirt, bigger belly, and Relief Society arms.

How far along? Almost 27 weeks

Total weight gain/loss: 22.5 pounds. That means I weighed in at 159 last appointment. 

Maternity clothes? Someone super special and super sweet sent me some money to buy 
some maternity clothes. It was awesome. I'm not sure I would have given in and bought them for myself, but I really needed it. I bought two super cute Target pants that I've been living in lately.

Stretch marks? I think so. But they kind of come and go? They are still small and pink so it's hard to tell if they are really a stretch mark or just scratch marks.

Sleep: Screw getting up before 8:30. I'm back to sleeping in as late as I want, especially when I'm waking up to pee every night.

Best moment this week: Feeling him move a LOT more. My Primary Presidency telling me they want to throw me a baby shower! So excited! Decorating the nursery. Getting our carseat and stroller delivered today.

Miss Anything? Being lighter. Less back pain.

Movement: Tons

Food cravings: We go through about 2 gallons of milk a week. Milk and cereal, baby.

Anything making you queasy or sick: Not more than normal.

Have you started to show yet:  Yes. Yes, I have.

Gender: Boy. And we're pretty sure we have a name picked out too :)

Labor Signs:

Belly Button in or out?
Still at that halfway point.

Wedding rings on or off? On. Usually. Sometimes in the morning my fingers will be swollen and I'll take my rings off for awhile, but they go back down to normal by the afternoon.

Happy or Moody most of the time: Happy. But sometimes emotional (as evidenced by my last post). Sometimes I just get into funks, too, where I'm not even sure how I feel. 

Looking forward to: Starting birthing class. My next ultrasound. My birthday :)

Someone else super special and generous sent us this, and it arrived today. We are soo grateful and so blessed. I was so excited, I put it all together myself - it's so tiny and cute and green and it's going to carry around my sweet little cuddles! 

This article made me feel a bit better today:

And, last but not least:

 How cute is this?? Just add little baby boy and my life is complete <3
ps I knew I'd make him a dog lover