DSC_0006Jude Pude.  My solitary salvation when the older two are visiting Andy.  So close to crawling he can taste the fuzz on the carpet two feet in front of him…except he scoots backwards instead.

DSC_0023 (2)Examining a beam of light with Jake, our hu-ge Maine Coon rescue.  Souxie’s salvation.

DSC_0031Souxie.  Wild thing.

DSC_0027Annie.  Blue Tick Coonhound WONDER from the same rescue, only months later.  Recently she battled an intestinal infection that required several different shots of antibiotics, anti-diarrhea, anti-nausea, and a $300 price tag at the emergency vet.  Worth it.  Love my girl.

DSC_0322My GIRL.  Sweet, gregarious, affectionate, voracious learner.  My awesome only daughter.  Daytona Beach last month.

DSC_0370My BOY.  My hilarious, well-spoken, driven–did I mention HILARIOUS?–little Poot.  Not the baby anymore but still my baby.


DSC_0019Tile is tasty.


That is all.

Take Two and Call Me In the Morning…

DSC_0037Two in the morning.  Three in the afternoon after lunch.  One as needed.  Two at night, different kinds.

Some of them are supplements because my B12 is low.  I’m anemic.*  I’m trying to get my hormones under control.  My kidneys could use a little help lately.  Most are to help me sleep.  Help me deal with panic attacks.  Fix whatever is wrong with my brain these days.  The latter doesn’t really work anymore.  I’ve developed a tolerance, and after that happens it’s either up your dose or switch to a different kind and hope that it helps.  Hope the side effects don’t overshadow the underlying depression.  Underlying.  Hah.  There really is nothing else anymore.

My house is clean.  Clean enough.  I’ve Pinned a few cute graphics to make me feel better about it.  “Excuse the mess, we live here.”  “Dirty kitchens and messy rooms means happy kids.”  It doesn’t really work.  Last night I felt the tension creeping into my shoulders, the pit ball up in my stomach.  I just folded all this laundry, I thought.  I get help with money.  Child care once or twice a week, as needed.  But all the menus, meals, housework, laundry, and everything else that fits into the definition of “keeping house” is all on me.  You would think it would be easy to feed the people in my home.  Food is essential, after all.  But the numerous allergies, intolerances, preferences, and lack of time–always the lack of time–make it impossible to follow the mantra alone, “Eat food.  Not a lot.  Mostly vegetables.”  I use Pinterest, but like Netflix the site is overwhelmed with variations and choices.

So I stress.  Pop another pill.  Listen to family members call me “crazy” and “zombie.”  Try hard not to take it out on the kids–the way I feel isn’t their fault.  Try to get up in the morning.  Try to fall asleep at night.  Try to find little passions that are repetitive and relaxing, like weaving on my loom or working on a paint-by-numbers.  I’d like to go to a sewing class, but I can’t afford the time or the money.  I’d like to run outside, but I don’t want to take the kids in the jogger.  I spin inside with the window open.  A nice breeze cools my skin as I sweat from lifting weights.  I try to adapt.

I’m trying to adapt.

*(I honestly have no idea why my folate and iron levels are so low, considering I practically eat an entire bag of fresh spinach every two days blended in green smoothies.  Why my white blood cell count is so high though I’m not sick is yet another mystery.  I’m wont to blame the meds–they’re draining everything else from my life, why not my nutrients, too?)


I am so much like you.  I remember your small hands, smooth, and your flat nails cut short.  I wonder if my children will close their eyes, too, and inhale.  Try to remember the depth of your scent.  Your hair, untamed, too like my own.  Always unhappy with a haircut.  Enviously looking at my dad’s hair and wondering why I’m more Irish than Cherokee.

Our souls are the same, too, or even just what heals them.  I awoke this morning melancholy.  I sat at my computer and found the most soothing melodies to heal what’s agony in me, deep in me.  Things that not even little pills, take twice a day, can begin to graze.  And I know now why you filled your brain with music.  The house, booming even until two a.m.  I know now.  And I am you now.

My hands shake like yours.  Then my brain, and the bass is doing its job.  It’s drowning out the thoughts I don’t like to have.  How much easier it would be if I hid away.  If there were only darkness, an empty room with a stripped bed.  Some place I could lay supine with only my breath as company.  Forever.

And then I am not like you.  At least not yet.  I pull myself out of it every second.  I indulge myself when I am alone, but that’s almost never.  I am present.  Present for my three children.  I will fight to recall, years from now, how Olivia climbed the grounds on her own, jumped into the deep mulch, and though my heart stopped–for just a moment–it began swelling.  With love.  Pride.  Amazement.  I looked away for just a second to check on Olivia’s course and Aiden fell on the sidewalk.  Scraped his nose.  A cold water wash and he was running, squealing.  That’s what I battle.  The second I look away, they’ll be hurt.  Irreparably someday, maybe.  And I could justify it by saying I need time to myself to be a good parent, but that’s such a load of shit, as I’m coming to realize.  I am no longer me.  I struggle still with accepting that.  I am their mother.  That is my identity now.  That is my sacrifice.  One I grapple with disappointment and delight, resentment and readiness.

I love you, my beautiful mother.  No matter how you age, and I see the look in your eyes, the disappointment I know I’ll see someday when I wonder where I went.  Where is my unmarked face?  In whose body am I?  What is this?  Where am I?  Who am I?  I know I’ll struggle with that, too.  But you are amazing.  You had four where I had three, you had only yourself where I have many.  And yes, your struggles were thorough.  You swam in despair more often than I’m sure I can even remember.  But you were mine.  And I am yours.  And I love you so very much.

Stops and Starts…

I’m still here.  Still breathing.  Still not getting a lot of sleep.  Writing essays, studying for mid-terms(!), cooking vegetarian dinners (yes, we took the leap finally), and trying to stay afloat of the mass of laundry a family of four makes.

I feel like everything is a different version of the same steps on repeat.  I’m extremely tired of late.  I went to Florida to visit my mother the week that my grandmother passed away.  There’s been a lot of loss in my dad’s family over the last couple of months.  My aunt Barbie died from a sudden brain aneurism almost six months ago.  That hit us all very hard.  She was only 56.  The last time I saw her was when she and my uncle David came to visit us.  She complimented the garden and said how beautiful the kids were.  And now my grandmother is gone.  No grandparents left.  It’s weird to admit this, but I’m more comforted that my grandma was almost in her 90’s, and from all accounts was ready to see my Pop in Heaven (they’re religious folks) than I am that my aunt Barbie was taken from this world in minutes at such a young age.  I miss her.

Right now it seems like all the good things in life are being stripped from the world and how ever much I try to scratch and paw at happiness it’s discontentment that follows me through my days.  I have three wonderful children.  A supportive family.  A weird situation with my husband but it works for the kids.  I have a home, clothing, food (healthy food), running water…and still.  I’m sad.  Yes, I’m on antidepressants.  I took that leap a couple months ago when I talked (or sobbed, but who’s taking notes) to my OB about everything.  I didn’t want to, desperately wanted to try to recover on my own.  But I couldn’t.  So that trip to Florida, guess what I forgot?  My medication.  And rather than calling in another prescription while I was there, I decided to take the plunge and just detox.  The first few days were okay.  Ideal, even.  I didn’t have that pesky lock-jaw to keep me awake at night or make my face sore in the morning.  I found a health food store and picked up two boxes of Blues Away tea to help me with the transition.  Then, the day after we returned, the flood gates opened and I was distraught.  Nothing worked, I dropped everything, and I yelled at the kids in the car (who wouldn’t stop fighting over Aiden’s foot too far on Olivia’s side) for the first time in months.  I said, “STOP IT, OH MY GOD.”  And it made my daughter cry.  And I felt like the worst person in history.  So I took my medication that night.  And the next.  And here I am, trying to physiologically acclimate to having the meds in my system again, but hating every second of needing them.  Whatever passes through my breastmilk is negligible, but I worry every day what it’s doing to Jude’s brain chemistry.  I hope nothing.  I hope I don’t change my sweet baby into something he’s not supposed to be because I am not strong enough to endure this life without pharmaceuticals.

Anyway, that’s where we are.  Same old, in a different way.

How are you?

Mundane insanity…

5:30 a.m. Awaken for no reason.  Paddle to the kitchen for some water as throat is dry from saw-snoring half the night.  Stuffy nose.  Wake up cat.  Regret it instantly as she commences meowing for over half an hour.

7:00 a.m. First stirs from the older children.  Walk into bedroom.  Stub toe on bed frame.  Silently suffer.

7:05 a.m. Cuddle Olivia in right arm while nursing Aiden from left side.  Squeeze a precious ten minutes of relative darkness from the morning.  No quiet.  Just dark.

7:30 a.m. Children beg for breakfast.  Cat is let out by the four year old.  Cat jumps on my face.  Gross.  She sifts in her poo box.  I am tempted to wash my face.  Too lazy.

8:05 a.m. Make coffee in the Chemex with beans I grind the night before and keep in the fridge.  My only salvation.

8:10 a.m. Breakfast is being smeared across the table and floors.  Forks are overrated.  Today they are eating their meal instead of complaining about it.  A holiday miracle.

8:30 a.m. Jude awakens, smiling and cheerful.  I lied.  This is my second salvation this morning.

8:45 a.m. Kid and kitchen clean up.

9:00 a.m. Kids retire to their bedroom for “imaginative play” while Jude nurses and begins the first of his morning naps.

10 a.m. All kids nap.  If I’m lucky, Jude will stay asleep for an hour or so and I’m able to rest with the kids.

Between 12 and 1 p.m. Kids wake begging for lunch.  Usually a cold plate of fresh vegetables and fruit with some kind of protein.  Cold beans, boiled eggs, yogurt, tuna.

12:30 p.m. Ah.  There’s the refusal to eat.  How did I go so long without you, old friend?  How are you kids not passed out by now?

12:32 p.m. Oh.  You just wanted to eat off of my plate.  It’s the same damn thing.

12:33 p.m. Jude nurses, then plays in his Mama’s and Papa’s chair with his wooden teething rings.

12:40 p.m. Horrifying gaze at the refuse littering the table and chairs.  Leave the dishes in the sink and the hummus on the floor.  Fuck it.

12:41 p.m. Bring children into their room, quick toy cleanup singing the ever-popular niece-demonstrated “Clean Up” song (to the tune of that annoying As Seen On TV! Light Pets commercial).

12:45 p.m. Home school hour, otherwise known as “Olivia learns one or two items off the list while simultaneously trying to fight Aiden off of her paper/pencil/paint/scissors/book.”

1:45 p.m. Freshly learn-ed, kids pick an activity of their choice for the next hour and a half to occupy themselves.  No, you can’t watch TV.  I said no.  Well, I’m not Daddy, now am I?

1:48 p.m. Jude begins to get red-eyed, signaling the need for another nap.  Nurse him to sleep.

2 p.m. Second cup of coffee.

2:04 p.m. Bitter black coffee consumed in three swift gulps.  Write “maple syrup” on the grocery list.

2:15-eternity: Laundry.

2:35 p.m. Break up first of several fights among Olivia and Aiden.  This one is over possession of the choo choo train.

2:36 p.m. “You woke up Jude!”

2:45 p.m. Jude calmed from his rude awakening, grab laptop.  Surf Pinterest for meal planning ideas.  Lament diet and relative poverty.  Click on “Health and Fitness” and scoff and quinoa on the front page.

3:00 p.m. Kids clamor for “a” book.  I read seven.  Twice the same book.

3:40 p.m. Time for dinner prep.  Jude wakes up cranky.  Tickle him without success.

3:42 p.m. Clean chunky spit up out of hair.  Wait…I still haven’t showered?

3:45 p.m. Jude sitting happily while playing with his feet, I decide I can get away with one more day of not washing my hair and scrub quickly.

3:46 p.m. Rush into kids’ room, soapy, to break up second fight of the afternoon.  This conflict is over the Poo Bear Truck.  Designate sides of room to each toddler while I’m in the shower.

3:48 p.m. Peek at the video monitor.  Miraculously they are staying on their own sides of the room, stealing occasional jealous glances at the other toys.

4:02 p.m. Dressed.  Try to do something with hair.  Regret not washing it.  Too late now.

4:10 p.m. Dinner prep, including looking into the cabinets and fridge four or five times and finding nothing tangible to make.  Write “Food” on grocery list.

4:22 p.m. “Okay, okay, fine.  You can watch one episode of Curious George on the Nook.”

5:00 p.m. Two episodes later, dinner is nearly done.  Children come downstairs.

5:30 p.m. “Please eat your food.  Please.  Just…here…here’s a choo choo!  Open your mouth for the choo choo train!”

5:32 p.m. “But you like sweet potatoes!”

5:35 p.m. Headache develops.

5:40 p.m. Give up on dinner.  They’ve eaten enough.

5:42 p.m. Bath.

5:43 p.m. “Mommy, I’m still hungry!”

5:50 p.m. Yogurt in the bath.

6:00 p.m. Kids dry off, run to bedroom to pick out nightclothes.

6:01 p.m. I never folded the laundry I washed.  Kids return to bedroom while I tear apart the clothes basket to find them underwear.

6:10-7 p.m. “Please stop running.  It’s time for bed.  No, don’t hold the cat like that, it hurts her.”

7:00 p.m. Jude is overtired.  Nurse him and Aiden.

7:20 p.m. Jude’s tired enough to lay quietly while the kids are falling asleep.

8:00 p.m. Kids are asleep.  Quietly retreat with Jude onto couch.

8:04 p.m. Clean kitchen.  Why must there be so many dishes?  What is that on the wall?  Ewww, is that a booger?!

8:30 p.m. Jude fusses.  Poops.

9:00 p.m. So tired.  Please go to sleep, Jude.

10:00 p.m. Jude finally sleeping deeply.  Crash hard.

10:43 p.m. “Meow!  Meow!  Meow!”

Staples: Part 1…

Man, do I love food.  It’s only by some miracle that I’ve maintained a relatively healthy weight throughout the years because my preference is decadence over restriction.  I’ve denied myself enough to last a lifetime.  Time for full-fat butter from grass-fed cows; whole milk (sometimes raw) still smelling and tasting of the pasture; mellow orange sweet potatoes dug up from rich soil; dark and hearty coffee with homemade black-strap molasses brown cane sugar; fresh eggs with a thick shell and dark yolk tossed with salsa–tomatoes and jalapenos from the garden, of course.

I made muffins from scratch recently (whole wheat–rare!–bran muffins with carrots and raisins) and while sharing them with a friend I discovered, to my shock, that not everyone grows up with the cuisine I did, or that my children do now.  I have the benefit–and it’s weird to consider it a benefit, because it’s all I know–of having a father whose palate was incredible, and who was raised to cultivate his own garden.  My mom is a wonderful cook, but she claims my father taught her everything.  Well, that makes two of us.  My friend’s parents basically cooked from a box or can.  That’s technically fine, I suppose, but you really can’t beat tasting a completely homemade meal, and there are far fewer toxic ingredients in scratch-made foods which, to me, makes the extra “work” worth it.

As I mentioned previously, I don’t have my garden (or a plot, for that matter) and I’ve returned the chickens, so I’m mostly stuck purchasing goods from the grocery store and, when I get the opportunity, the local farmer’s market.  Unfortunately the growing season is winding down, so there’s much less selection from the local market and I’m having to shop at conventional stores mostly.  Because I’m trying to eat seasonally, I have staples in my fridge and pantry that keep me going week after week.  They’re functional, affordable, and I rarely, if ever, grow tired of cooking with them.

Here is my list of things I cannot (and will not) do without, in no particular order:

  1. Real butter, usually grass-fed.
  2. Brown eggs.  I rarely buy conventional eggs.  You can definitely tell a difference in freshness here.  I still long for the production of my beautiful hens, but what can you do?
  3. Oatmeal.  We either eat oatmeal with various ingredients or eggs each morning.  Sometimes I’ll make banana oatmeal pancakes, other instances I’ll concoct GF muffins, rarely cookies.  Either way, I’m always stocked with oatmeal.
  4. Pumpkin puree.  It’s probably better that I do this myself, but I’ve never been a fan of roasting any squash or pumpkins.  It’s a hassle, what can I say?  Luckily I can find BPA-free organic puree in cans pretty easily (and cheaply).  I put this in our oatmeal with a little pumpkin pie spice.  Yum.
  5. Real maple syrup.  The darker the better.  I’ve got pure cane sugar and usually make my own brown sugar, but for some reason maple syrup just tastes better in coffee.
  6. Speaking of coffee…the fresher the bean, the fresher the bloom.  I finally took the plunge and started using a Chemex brewer with a burr grinder.  Oh. My. Goodness.  There is no better coffee.
  7. Half and half.  For the coffee.  I can’t drink it black.
  8. Cheese, cheese, and more cheese.  It’s expensive, so I try to get the blocks and shred it myself, but occasionally the kids will request string mozzarella and I acquiesce.
  9.   Tomatoes, canned tomatoes, tomato paste.  Oh so versatile.  Oh so delicious.
  10. Frozen vegetables (no soy or corn).  I tend to buy these in bulk at the market during the summer and use them for soups, sauces, or sides.  Not as good as fresh, but it works.
  11. Brown rice.  We don’t eat this often, but if times are tight we’ll mix it with some black beans and canned tomatoes, top it with cheese and sour cream or plain Greek yogurt and voila.  Dinner.
  12. Organic “bone chicken.”  The kids love chicken legs.  Lately I’ve been trying to implement less animal products into our diets, but if we eat it, it’s probably chicken.
  13. Sweet potatoes.  I’ve begun slow cooking several to last a couple of days for lunches or as a breakfast side.  If I catch the potatoes on the firm side, I slice and peel them for sweet potato “cookies” for the kids.  They love it.
  14. Bone broth.  Any bones I have, whether it be from a leftover rotisserie chicken (they sell the hormone-free rotisseries at a local store for $5 on Fridays) or roast, I’ll pop it on the stove with a few cups of filtered water and let it simmer for about two or so hours.  It breaks down the marrow and is very nutritious.  On cold days it’s particularly comforting.
  15. Black beans.  Our favorite.
  16. Produce for juicing.  Aiden can no longer eat apples (GI distress) so I buy less of those than I formerly did, but basically I try to stay stocked on organic carrots, apples, oranges, celery, cucumbers, ginger, and lemon.  I juice on days I don’t really want a caffeine rush.  It’s better fresh, of course, but generally I’ll make a huge batch in the morning and we’ll drink it all day.
  17. Bananas.  I buy at least 10 pounds a week.  Smoothies, snacks, “ice cream,” you name it.  It’s cheap and amazingly versatile.
  18. Almond milk or almonds to make it.  That or coconut milk.  Occasionally we’ll buy 1/2 gallon cartons of “moo milk.”
  19. Spinach.  Green smoothies, sandwiches, sides.
  20. Spices–I dried a ton of herbs this year.  Hopefully they’ll last us through the winter!  I also use sea salt frequently.

That’s about it.  Listed, it’s incredibly simplistic, but the combinations you can create with these ingredients are vast and amazing.  We eat other things too, of course–roasts, tacos, soups–but these are my basic “must haves.”

What are yours?

Where We Are…

Hello?  Is this thing on?  *taps mic*  Check?  Okay.  Good.  Hi.  It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  Life with three little humans tends to get in the way of posting.  I’m sitting here eating a very rare warm breakfast (but drinking cold coffee) and I had two options during nap time:  play Hayday on the tablet or post to the almost-forgotten blog.  I decided on this venture because I truly feel the need to document our lives a little better, to get myself organized, to have that outlet I once did because I feel like a crazy person lately!  Time is slipping from my clenched hands all too quickly.  I don’t photograph enough, I don’t write enough, and frankly I think it’s contributing to the feeling of general despair in my noggin.  Here’s a brief update before I get into business–

I’m physically separated from the husband and raising the wee ones semi-solo about 90% of the time.  No, I’m not a single mother–I have an abundance of support (and I thank the Universe every day for that).  It’s been tough, but the outcome of this separation has done wonders for our parenting.  Olivia isn’t having night terrors anymore, Aiden has leveled out in his moods a fair bit, and Jude–well, he was born at the tail end of everything so he hasn’t been exposed to the damage–let’s just say he’s as sweet as ever.

My sisters are the loves of my life (barring my kiddos, of course).  Things got a little nasty for a while and I honestly thought I’d succumb to a pretty horrible outcome, but they have been a phenomenal support through it all.

I chopped off a good bit of my hair.  It was incredibly long and cumbersome.  I’m now sporting a long, edgy bob.

Jude is five months old today!  He is an absolute joy.  It’s really strange to have an infant who doesn’t cry constantly due to digestive issues.  Don’t get me wrong, he’s still a baby, still does all the typical baby things, but for once I feel like I can comfort my child and fix the issues!

I’m no longer in my house, no longer have the expansive garden, and I returned the chickens to the farm from where I purchased them.  About half of the original flock succumbed to cocci.  I purchased more from the breeder, and Mars totally demolished five of them.  Those were all pullets, around the age of 12 weeks.  I had three left from the first flock, and I added six chicks.  I raised all those happily and healthily to egg-laying adulthood, and adopted two older roosters from someone who needed to find them a home ASAP.  Even after having Jude I spoiled those chickens rotten.  They will always have a place in my heart, and I’m grateful that the breeder was willing to take them all in (and put over half the flock in the breeding pen because they were “so nicely cared for!”).  Eventually I’ll get back to my roots, but for now the kids are a priority.

I’ve begun a fairly rigid preschool program at home for Olivia and Aiden which is primarily Montessori based.  Aiden in particular seems to respond well to the activities.  Normally he’s incredibly unfocused (what two year old isn’t?) but his most favored things to do are bean sorting and animal matching.  He speaks very well and has a large vocabulary.  I’m quite sure Olivia contributed to his speech moreso than even I did.  We are reading the first Harry Potter book in the series.  Olivia has taken an interest in German, so we’ve been practicing that pretty stringently, too.

Home care is always hectic and difficult, but I find if I maintain about an hour daily rather than letting it all pile up and spending all weekend cleaning it’s much easier.  I sometimes split the hour throughout the day (10 minutes cleaning the kitchen/doing dishes, 30 minutes folding laundry, 5 minutes wiping down bathroom fixtures and toilets, etc.) or do it all at once during play or nap time.  Every night I try to wash and fold at least one load of laundry, because otherwise it becomes unbearable and depressing.

The one major change in the last year is enrolling in school to finish my degree.  I think, out of everything, that’s the most challenging aspect to existence.  I’ve been spending as much time as possible caring for the children myself and trying to give them a good foundation at home, but even I had to acknowledge one day that I simply cannot exist long-term without a stable career of my own.  It will never be easy, but it will get easier.  That’s my mantra.  Emphasis necessary.

Next up on the blog front:  food, pantry, and beauty/healthcare staples!

Aiden is TWO!

My little Poot…


Over the last year you have blossomed.  Your personality is, in one word, awesome.  You are so full of delight at even the littlest things–a stink bug, which you and your sister have amusingly named “Ned,” makes you cackle in glee as it crawls along your arm; tickles of any kind, any place, any time of day send shrieks of laughter bubbling from your adorably pooched gut; and of course there’s your sister who consistently amuses you with her imagined schemes, which range from being super-secret-ninjas to superheroes to finding the “secret ghost” (a tiny wind-up toy we bought at the dollar store a few months ago) in various hiding places.

Aiden halloween

And, my boy, you are hysterical.  Lately you’ve been pretending to be a cat, crawling on all fours and uttering the sweetest “meow!  Meow!  I’m a cat!”  This afternoon we were discussing felines and their various behaviors.  I asked you to tell me about them, to describe what they do.  You said, “Cats lick-a me.  I’m licking me!” and you lifted your leg to “clean” it with your tongue.

Aidens second bday

I can’t describe what makes you you in one little post, buddy, and you wont be able to read or register this for quite some time.  I only hope that when I read you your favorite story (Llama Llama, Red Pajama) or return your wet smooch you’ll know how much I absolutely adore you.

It’s been a rough couple of years for your momma, Poot, but you’ve brightened my spirit in a way not much else can.

I love you, Aiden.  Happy birthday, my sweet.

Hey, Jude…

I drove in silence, having left too late in the morning to catch nap time.  It was hot but the wind snapping through the car smelled sweetly of freshly mowed lawns and kept the sweat at bay.  The kids’ heads were drooping against the headrests of their car seats, softly breathing in slumber.  While I pulled into the parking lot, I snapped a quick photo of the building to text MIL so that she could find the place.  She was going to entertain the kids during my exam.  Ordinarily I’d simply take them in the room with me, set them up at the table with some crayons and paper to draw for the good Dr. H. and his wonderful nurse, but I’d had emergency surgery a week prior and I needed a thorough examination.  Granny’s voice pulled them from their dream states and they excitedly exited the car, eager to see the exotic fish tank in the waiting room.  “Will there be snails today?” Olivia mused, while Aiden whispered, “Fish, fish, fish!” and hopped along, hand-in-hand, with Granny and me toward the entrance.  The wait wasn’t long, and while they toddled around the tank, exclaiming about the colorful fish (and “A SNAIL, MOMMY!”) I followed the nurse into her cubicle to get my weight and blood pressure checked.  “Lost another two pounds,” she said in her heavy Boston accent, and went on to list the numerous medications and herbs I take daily or weekly.  She led me to the room.  I struggled to undress and heaved myself onto the exam table, breathing heavily from the effort of peeling off my stretch pants.  Yes, I wore stretch leggings out of the house.  Judge me if you wish (but you know those things are comfortable).  The adorable bespectacled resident entered after a brief patter of knocks to ask her cursory questions:  “Feeling the baby move?  Any bleeding or unusual discharge?  How are the headaches?”  Satisfied with the normalcy of my answers, she left me to my Nook.  Doctor H. entered in his usual bubbly fashion and sat on his stool to examine me.  “I usually don’t ask this unless I’ve been bought flowers or wine, at least, but can you check me?” I inquired.  Chuckles from everyone.  That joke never gets old with gynecologists.  For the record, I asked to be checked for dilation despite my earlier reluctance to do anything invasive not because I was particularly curious, but because I wanted the mental comfort of knowing I was only minimally dilated.  I’ll just spit it out:  I had a hemorrhoidectomy a week prior–the second of this pregnancy.  This procedure is absolutely the worst pain I’ve ever experienced.  Thrombosed hemorrhoids are no fun, but the subsequent surgery and over two week recovery period is excruciating.  Please, people, don’t strain.  Do not strain!  (Before you ask, no, I didn’t strain.  I just had a lot of weak and torn muscles and ligaments during this pregnancy, likely from both conceiving so quickly after Aiden’s birth and from vomiting so profusely throughout gestation).  He obliged, and painfully so.  Evidently I have a posterior uterus, and it requires quite a bit of prodding until the baby’s head has descended enough to push the cervix into a proper position.  “You’re between 2 and 3, and pretty ripe.”  He asked if I wanted my membranes stripped, and I vehemently declined.  Har, har, har, he knew better than to ask.  I wanted to heal a bit more before I had to exacerbate the agony of pushing around stitches.  Checkout papers given and given again to the receptionist, and off I went.

I felt particularly unwell that morning and decided that it must be from low blood sugar, so the MIL, kids, and I fluttered off to Chick-Fil-A (gasp!  I fed my kids junk!) as they are one of the only fast food establishments that are particularly careful not to cross contaminate their grilled chicken with wheat.  I tried to swallow a few bites of a spicy sandwich, but mostly crunched on ice and soft mints while picking through Olivia’s discarded fruit cup.  They clamored for the play area, so off we went into the plastic-rich fun.  I sat uncomfortably on the metal bench while Aiden followed Olivia in mild hesitation.  There were older boys swinging about who consistently gave me heart palpitations as they flew far too closely to my fearful young toddler.  I’m one of those mothers who will chide your kid if you’re not around to supervise.  There, I said it.  It’s amazing what they think they can get away with while mommy or daddy aren’t paying attention (my own included in that sentiment, of course).  So, there I sat, nervously calling for Olivia to “be careful, please” and for Aiden to “watch your step, buddy” all the while asking the older kids to “slow down around the little ones, please” and “wait your turn on the slide so everyone can go down safely!”  We stayed there for about an hour before I began to realize that I was having painful contractions.  I thought, “Hm, these seem to be coming in a pretty consistent pattern,” and brushed it off as par for the course of late.  I had a lot of starts and stops with this pregnancy, and wasn’t particularly anxious about the contractions as they’d not gotten closer than 8 minutes apart for two or three hours.  Bam, contraction.  It’s a good thing I was sitting, ’cause that sucker was painful.  Suddenly, I heard Aiden crying.  I shouted to Olivia, “What’s wrong?” as they were both in the car at the tip top of the tower o’ plastic tubing and weren’t exactly visible.  She didn’t answer.  Cue my panicked scramble into that damn play area.  I saw the patrons looking on in amusement and concern while, cheeks burning and heavily pregnant, I ran to rescue my child from what sounded like boo-boo central.  By the time I’d reached the top, Olivia and Aiden had both exited the car with the explanation that Aiden wanted the wheel but Olivia wouldn’t give it up.  I just sighed in defeat because, I mean, what the poo kids.  Your mom just scrambled up a flight of toddler steps and into narrow tubing at 38 weeks pregnant, all while people looked on in horror and concern (but mostly amusement) and you couldn’t just admit that you weren’t sharing with your brother.  Yeesh.  I helped both kids down the chute and made my decent of shame.  Shoes were placed about tiny feet, straps and harnesses buckled around abdomens, and off we went to nap at home.

…Musical interlude.  Please, ladies and gentlemen, use this moment as an opportunity to go to the restroom and stretch your legs!  Oh, and turn off your cell phones as you re-enter the theatre.  Thank you…

I awoke with a start.  Both arms were numb as they were being used as duel pillows for sleepy and surprisingly heavy toddler heads.  I was caked in drool and sweat.  Painfully and deliberately, so as not to wake them, I turned onto my right side.  Another start.  Contractions, I thought hazily.  I don’t know why it occurred to me to count how long the contraction actually lasted as opposed to timing in between, but that oddity set the stage for the rest of the evening.  One, one thousand.  Two, one thousand.  All the way to twelve, one thousand.  I closed my eyes at the fall of the peak and returned to sleep.  Bam.  Contraction.  Twelve, one thousand.  I dreamed between the peaks and falls, so I know that the pain and pressure were waking me from fairly deep slumber.  I was grateful when the kids opened their eyes, slurped the spit back into their mouths, and muttered, “Hi, Mommy,” in hushed tones.  Finally, I could move.  What relief.  Until six minutes later, counting to twelve, one thousand…and six minutes after that…you get the idea.  The moment I began leaning on door frames to quell the contractions was when I decided to write Andy at work and tell him, “It’s probably time to take your leave.”  He told me to call his boss.  I was particularly offended by the suggestion, because not only was I having regular contractions and caring for the kids, I only had a few minutes before I had to breathe through some pretty intense pain and couldn’t fathom being polite and nice-as-pie to his superior through hiss-growling-holy hell this hurts-pain.  That, and it was only a few short steps to her office.  The jerk, I thought.  But I persevered, quickly told her it was likely time, and would she kindly put in the paperwork for his FMLA.  She joked (I think), “I just knew what this call was, haha, and thought to myself, couldn’t you wait 15 minutes (end of the work day)?”  I explained, while panting, that with how I was feeling, it would easily take a little longer than that to load the children in the car and procure him.  “Don’t worry!  Let him finish and log off the system!”  Pant, pant, pant.  I called MIL.  “Go time!”  She told me to wait on her, she’d watch the kids while I picked up Andy.  After half an hour, I rang her phone again.  “Where are you?” I inquired.  “Almost there.”  The liar.  It took her over an hour to get to the house; meanwhile I was trying to distract two bored toddlers and doing some last minute chores.  I could have taken them and been back to labor in peace, but nooooo.  Finally, she arrived, and I departed.  It was difficult to drive.  Pulling on my leg to press the brakes during a contraction was not exactly easy or pleasant.  At that point I decided that he should drive us both home and then to the hospital, despite my car sickness.  He was waiting on the sidewalk and eyed me suspiciously.  “What took so long?” he grumbled, to which I replied in exasperation, “Ugh, your mother.”  No further explanation was needed.  We began the drive home.  I don’t recall much of it as my eyes were glued shut in quiet concentration.  I got out of the car to a blonde toddler beaming at me from the window.  After hugs and I-love-yous, I began pacing about and packing my hospital bag.  Somehow there were dishes already in the sink after our brief absence.  Andy began washing them while I became more and more agitated by the stepfather-in-law’s inability to keep the puppy from biting him.  He was pushing the dog away in a manner that suggested “PLAY!  FUN!  NIP!” rather than discipline, and both SFIL’s agitation and the dog’s hyperactivity led me to the breaking point of the evening.  I told Andy we needed to go, and soon, despite our plans to ensure the kids were in bed at a reasonable hour.  Granny seems to let them take advantage of her company and often encourages a later than appropriate bed time.  Ahem.  So I leaned on door frames for a bit while the bags were taken to the car and finally just got into bed to cradle my aching belly.  It seemed like an eternity before he called out that the car was stocked with our essentials.  My sense of time had become relatively warped at that point.

Again, I don’t recall the drive.  The receptionist at the L&D desk was the exact one that worked the night I gave birth to Aiden.  You remember, don’t you?  When I sat in the waiting room for four and a half hours, somehow stuck on uncomfortable chairs up until almost transition because they couldn’t bother to get a room clean?  Yes.  That’s her.  She, remembering the episode (or so she said) became the angel of mercy and exclaimed, “Let’s make up for lost time, you’re not going to sit out here for hours again!” and wheeled me to triage to get a cervical check.  The room was sterile and bare, and I vaguely remember hoping that I wouldn’t have to stay in that unit for very long.  They’d just redone the L&D wing of the hospital and I wanted one of the cushy rooms desperately.  So, being the shameless individual that I am, I asked the triage nurse how long I’d have to stay in such a dreary environment, because it was really messing with my flow, man.  Luckily I was dilated to six centimeters (whoa!) and was whisked away to paradise.  I procrastinated heavily and never did print off my birth plan, but I was very clear between contractions that though I tested positive for Group B Strep (AGAIN!), I did not want continuous monitoring and though I’d be happy to take the requisite antibiotics (this time, Gadget!) I did not want any pitocin, did not want a continuous IV, and I wanted to labor in whatever position I felt most comfortable.  They agreed, those sweethearts, and after about an hour of penicillin I was able to adjourn to the amazing warmth of the shower.  Never have I felt so at peace during labor.  I was easily dilated to 8 centimeters before I hopped in the stream of water, but for two hours I just counted the waves until the peak and knew the contraction was winding down.  One, one thousand.  Two, one thousand.  Three, one thousand.  All the way to ten, one thousand.  I swayed slightly under the pattering of droplets hitting my back and legs, arms and head propped atop the built-in and cushioned shower stool.  I rode the contractions to the peak and was so comforted that I knew, at each interval, that I’d only have to get through ten seconds and I’d have a break.  This labor wasn’t 100% unmedicated, as I did have two IV doses of a non-narcotic pain reliever (the name of which I don’t recall) but that was more so I could get a little sleep if possible before transition hit.  I did rest for about 15 minutes at a time after the doses, and was able to catch the nurse before I knew I’d have to begin pushing for a pick-me-up.  Thank the heavens for those brilliant angels.  She checked my dilation.  I was at a 9, and while most nurses would have told me it was almost over, just truck through it, she saw how my eyes pleaded with her, knew somehow that I needed that little bit of rest before the “hard” part began.  After twenty or so minutes, I began grunting and pushing.  I let my body do as it needed and essentially spaced out.  Andy had left me to my own devices for the most part, aside from asking if I wanted some water or ice periodically, and though in prior labors I wanted the comfort of human touch (I thought I’d desire the same this time) that was the last thing from my mind.  I think it probably would have distracted and upset me, and I’m grateful that everyone who cared for me intuitively knew what I needed.  Evidently my sister called to say that she was on her way at some point just before the pushing, and I recall hoping against hope she’d hit some traffic.  You see, though I love my sister profusely, the last time she was in the room with me while I labored she just could. not. stop. talking.  I’ve always needed silence during contractions (at least), and hearing her sweet, well-meaning voice throughout my labor with Aiden was infuriating.  I snapped at her more times than I can count, and in a way I wanted this labor to be peaceful for everyone involved, not just me.  Luckily, the show began and ended abruptly before she even entered the hospital, so I narrowly avoided having to seem like a total jerk.  I was on my back with the sheet draped over my knees, still wearing my black leggings (and yes, they were still so comfortable!) when I felt a gush of fluid with a contraction.  I said, “Oops, my water broke, Andy!” and he helped me to my feet as I undressed from the waist down.  One of the other requirements of this labor was that I didn’t have to wear a hospital gown.  I was in normal, comfortable clothing the entire time, and it was awesome.  I may or may not do a “Labor Essentials” post complete with the essential oils I used (first time for that, too!) but I will say with absolute certainty that wearing my own clothes during labor was possibly the best decision I’d made prior to entering the hospital.  It just felt…good.  Of course, I picked the most soothing fabrics I could find and made certain that they weren’t too tight, or that they wouldn’t chafe me in any places.  The smell of my own laundry detergent (Charlie’s Soap alongside either tea tree oil or lavender essential oil) was also a wonderful solace.

I always intended to birth on all fours instead of on my back because it just makes a great deal more sense to use gravity at your advantage, but when I was on the bed I couldn’t bring myself to move very much.  The bed wasn’t inclined very much and I only had about two or three pillows (one of which was mine, another recommendation for laboring mothers), so I was essentially supine.  At that point, I was gushing fluid every time I had a contraction, so I had the nurse place a few towels beneath me to absorb the moisture and blood.  My legs were splayed ever so slightly, and I just rode the contractions and pushed when it felt good to push.  I’ve never timed my pushes and for God’s sake, help the person that says, “PUSH, PUSH, PUSH!” to me while I’m doing so.  I will snarl at them so furiously their head will spin.  Again, everyone intuitively knew to just remain quiet, stay pretty still after all the essential equipment was placed throughout the room, and let it all happen on mine and the baby’s time.  Dr. H. asked me, at one point, if they could turn on the lights and (I think) I politely asked them to keep the lights off.  They obliged.  See?  Sweethearts.  I was screaming at that point, not because it hurt all that much, but moreso I needed the guttural release of those animal sounds.  I just did what felt good to me at the time.  Theme of the day, evidently.  After a while I didn’t feel like I was making much progress, and I sort of screamed to Dr. H. to do something.  My waters had broken earlier, but there was still a pocket of fluid in front of the baby’s head that was preventing him from presenting any further.  He broke the rest of the bag right as I had to push.  My legs, the bed, and his front were sprayed and soaked with bloody amniotic fluid within milliseconds.  Thankfully I missed his face.  When the obstruction was removed I very quickly and efficiently moved his head and body down, and he was born.  My son, Jude Anson, came into this world.  Came into my world.  Lit me up, lit everything up so brightly I couldn’t see or feel or think anything except how beautiful this child is, oh my GOD.

With Olivia’s birth, seeing her face for the first time, hearing her cry, I didn’t experience this.  I was too sick.  I hemorrhaged a fair bit and just as those feelings came about I began to black out after saying weakly, “Someone…someone take the baby…I’m gonna pass out…”

With Aiden’s birth, I believe I was extremely affected by postnatal depression just moments after having him, and maybe even during pregnancy.  Things were hard, Andy’s father was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and was, at that moment, incoherent and going into brain death.  He died just two short weeks after Aiden was born.

But with Jude…  I finally got to feel what everyone else raved about.  That love at first sight, that total and unrelenting devotion to this little being you’ve never met but know so fully and know that he knows you, inside and out, literally and figuratively…  The bond.  Even before nursing for the first time (relatively quickly, too!) I felt it, before the rush of oxytocin flooded my body with its chemical wonder, I bonded with Jude.

Of course, I bonded with all of my children.  I love them so profusely, all of them.  That last bit was just to explain the shock at experiencing not only an ideal, wonderful labor and delivery, but also that initial bond that’s “supposed” to happen but doesn’t happen for everyone (and certainly not me until my third baby).  Maybe the calm, wonderful experience of it all helped shape it.  Maybe it’s just how things would have happened regardless.  Either way, I cannot express how grateful I am, how entirely fortunate to have this healthy, beautiful, AMAZING infant nursing in my arms as I type, not even begrudgingly, one-handed.

Welcome to the world, baby Jude, on June 10 at 1:06 a.m.  ♥

judes first photo


You Complete Me, Little Ones…

As Mother’s Day approaches, I’m left to think about all the rewarding things I’ve been able to experience as a parent to my two wonderful children. Firstly, there’s the many, many…many times I’ve reached into a warm, soothing baby bath to scoop out a floating turd. Then there are those times I’ve been covered in various bodily fluids. I recall once I was tickling Olivia as an infant and while I bent down to kiss her sweet little baby lips, she projectile vomited into my mouth. And who could forget those instances of sweet nursing, interrupted by a shooting pain in my nipple as Aiden bit down as hard as he could.

Honestly, though, I’ve always wanted to be a mother, and three and a half years down (less pregnancy, of course) I couldn’t imagine doing anything else with my life. The smell of their hair, their sweet expressions as they wake and say, “Good morning, Mommy,” stretching those chubby arms and placing their hands gently on my cheek, the constant growth (for all of us) and just having the opportunity to know these amazing little individuals…I am so content because of my children it’s unreal. I love you, little Spud and Poot. You’re what makes this day special.


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