Sunday, October 30, 2011

Have I mentioned?

Have I mentioned that I love my church?  I do. I love my church. And not just because I am currently receiving meals at my door step two days a week. There are so many things I love about my church. One of those things was highlighted last night.

I was at a baby shower for one of the many pregnant/ post-partum women in my church (seriously, it is an epidemic....don't drink the coffee). There are 6 of us either pregnant or mothering a baby under 1, take into account there are only about 15 married couples total (including those well past child bearing age) and only about 60 people on any given Sunday....the pregnancy percentage is high. We got to talking about how great it is to be a mom at 1027 church. Mostly because the "mommy wars" there is so much hub-bub about online....don't exist there. The standard line seems to be "oh, you do it like"

From ultrasounds (one family doesn't get any, one family gets one every time they go to the office) to breastfeeding (exclusive, both, only formula) to working (stay at home, part time, full time) to anything else you can think of there is the full spectrum at our house of worship. And never do I hear a bad thing said about the way anyone else parents.We were sitting around discussing my cloth diapers, and how the parents to be were definitively not going to do cloth. And I get it, the thought grosses people out, plus disposables are easier. Cool. I am not going to bicker with you about what collects your kids poop. I just am not. And neither are they.

But we will love each others kids and support each other as parents. In fact, we will stand as a church and corporately promise to do just that. And we will mean it.If someone needs a sitter and you can possibly do it, even if that means you have to rearrange your schedule a do. If someone looks exhausted, like they just need a minute, you take their kid out of their arms and give them that minute. Or when a woman laments that her and her husband haven't been on a date in 6 months about seven people DEMAND that they be called to babysit in the next few weeks.

My church rejoices in every milestone the peanut and the rooster (formerly known as spike) have. Delight in them right along with me. And I get to delight in their kids too! I don't know of another baby who was more prayed for than my friend Callie's little girl. And the rejoicing that happened, for the next two weeks every conversation that I had with a member of my church started with "Did you hear, the Riches got their daughter" or "Have you seen the pictures of Evangeline?" That baby came home to her parents, yes. But she also came home to her church.

Yesterday Christian and I went out to a party thrown by one of the other PhD students in his department. We left Juliet sleeping at home with Esther, an awesome woman of God. And when we came home she looked at us and said, "seriously any time" and meant it! I didn't have to feel like I had burdened her. She loves the Peanut too.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Let me take you to Dun duh dun: Toddler Town!

As my due date creeped closer and closer and I started having contractions more and more often, I began to be concerned. The Peanut, while able to walk, simply preferred crawling. How the heck was I going to manage anything if I had two kids I had to carry around. Well, as my colleagues at Banneker taught me, God doesn't always come when you want Him, but He always comes right on time. (This is my second favorite phase I learned teaching in a predominantly black community. The first being: Charge that to my head, not to my heart.)

The Peanut started walking 85% of the time the day we got Spike home from the hospital. And we are officially living in Toddler Town, where every moment someone is pulling on your hand demanding walk, WALK! I would say the one word I would use to describe baby phase is sweet. Everything is just so sweet, the little toes, the little clothes, the first everything is just so sweet to witness. The toddler phase word in this house is FUN! The Peanut is so fun right now. And to celebrate this fun time in our house, the Top Ten signs you have entered Toddler Town.

1. You invite the toddler to watch you in the bathroom in the hopes that they will soon gain interest in the potty. The toddler points at you while peeing and exclaims EEEwwww eewww EEEEEWWWW! Then tries to pull all of the toilet paper off the roll.

2. Every question is answered with a resounding NO! But that negative is often switched to an affirmative when asked "By no, do you mean yes?" (Wouldn't it be great if you could get every "no" in your life changed like that?)

3. The bathroom door remains shut at all times (even if no one is in there) because while there has been no interest in peeing in the potty, there is great interest playing in the toilet. Plus the roll of toilet paper is again, very fun to unroll.

4. Things that were once safe on the dining room table are now in the danger zone because the toddler has learned to pull out the chairs, crawl on them to get on top of the table and wreak havoc with anything she has found. Someone especially likes  to dump out all the salt or pepper and then make designs in it. The toddler does all this while telling herself "no, no, naughty, uh-uh".

5. You have spent a twenty minute drive singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" over and over because the toddler in the back claps and yells YEAH! And then starts singing again every time you finish.

6. While in public you spend a lot of time explaining that everything everyone else has "doesn't belong to us" because the toddler thinks it is acceptable to climb into a strangers wagon, or walk up to a strange woman drinking a coke, smack her lips and say mmmmmm in hopes of getting a drink.

7. You go through about 4 dish towels a day because you have to repeatedly clean up the dog water that has been spilled out of the dog dish that is now upside down and being pushed around on the floor while the toddler yells "beep beep."

8. You are often interrupted by "AAAAAAH! stuck, stuck!" because there are a myriad of places the toddler can get into but not out of.

9. You lose your keys, or glasses that you swear were just right on that table, because put things in other things is the new favorite game. You find whatever it is you were missing a week later in the toe of your boot you haven't worn in two weeks but never got around to putting away.

10. Anything and everything that can be worn around a neck is worn around the neck: purses, jewelery, my sling, the top of the tiny potty, Christian's underwear, etc.

It is exhausting, and at times frustrating. But I laugh every single day, look at Christian and exclaim, "did you just catch what our daughter did?" Because it is fun to just be a witness.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Reality Check: You can't earn God's favor.

Funny thing happened. I started a Facebook status update and realized I had a lot more to say. Or rather, I wanted to work through these thoughts in a bigger space. And the Peanut is with Elizabeth, and Spike is snoozing in the bouncy chair so I guess I will take the time to think about something that isn't what is coming in or out of my children.

I am not an expert on economic issues. I have never taken a course on economics in my entire life. I grew up in a house with a serious conservative bent, and deeply respect the thoughts of the people who raised me. They love God and they serve Him and they are really stinking smart. I spent my college days in an extremely liberal activity and am in a profession that tends to vote democrat. I have met people there who love God and serve Him and vote democrat. Many of them are also pretty smart. I don't think either party has a lock on what Jesus would do if He were a senator. I give you this information as a disclaimer because am getting all fired up about Occupy Wall Street.

More specifically, I am getting all fired up about what I have seen people posting on Facebook about Occupy Wall Street. Namely, I am agitated by the posts that keep popping up about how hard someone worked for their stuff and if those protesters would just work hard enough they could have that too. When sentiments like that come out of the mouths of believers, frankly, it makes me want to throw up. You can disagree with the protesters all day long and I will not puke on your shoes. But please do not tell me that the reason you are living a solid middle class American life is because you have worked really hard, not because you have been blessed by God. His favor has been poured out onto you.

Yes, maybe you did work really hard. I am by no means discrediting every single hour you worked. And yes, maybe you did teach your kids the right things about money and they listened and are being responsible. That is a great legacy that will surely benefit not just your children, but your children's children. But those money principles are biblical, and how blessed were you to go to a church that taught those things? You were blessed with a job that makes ends meet and granted favor in that position that you were able to stay, or even get promoted. You were blessed with kids who have the ability to go to college, with either no major medical bills, or God provided the means to pay them. You live in a safe country, in a safe neighborhood, in a house that isn't killing you or being foreclosed on because you planned well, and also because God blessed you. He protected you from calamity and/or provided when bad things happened.

Maybe I am particularly sensitive to this because I am right smack dab in the middle of the fountain of God's favor in my life. I have two healthy amazing kids. I work at a job that lets me take more than minimum maternity leave AND God totally provided financially for us during this time. All the paychecks I am missing are in the bank for safe keeping. Yes, I worked extra but God was very gracious with getting me the job and providing above what I earned from summer school. Then just because God is a crazy giver, He gives me a free second car seat (that we were considering buying). But God doesn't stop there Spike likes to rock at night and it has become clear I may need a glider upstairs. Elizabeth said we could borrow hers, and I have a lead on a FREE one from Craigslist. We just have to nail down when I am going to pick it up. I was given the two things I told Christian I needed to buy for Spike the morning I was going to go get them (seriously people, you need some swaddle blankets). Then Christian's cohorts and professors hand him a 100 bucks to Target! Happy Baby! These are just the things I can remember off hand. But I know for sure I earned none of this. I am blessed by God.

I don't know if the rich are too rich, or if they don't pay enough taxes. I am not informed enough to construct an opinion on that at the moment. I don't know how to fix health care or retirement. I DO think that we need some sort of guaranteed paid maternity leave in this country. But I don't know how to make it work. And I certainly don't know how to fix the housing crisis or our economy. But I do recognize the favor the Lord has given me. And  am so very grateful for His blessing.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tis so Sweet

The past week I have been humming "Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus" a lot. A couple times a day. I am not doing it on purpose. But the fullness of my heart is spilling out of my mouth. (Which is a nice change from the whining that was spilling out of my mouth the last month of pregnancy.) I just feel so blessed. Priscilla (tentatively being referred to as Spike) is a great eater which makes her a great sleeper....and a champion pooper....but hey I will take it.

And I am feeling truly blessed getting to stay home with my oldest. The Peanut is so so fun right now. She learns new words every single day, and while she won't say it on command I have heard her say her sisters name three times. This doesn't mean that I am not well aware that at any moment when I am with them and Christian is at class all three of us could collapse into tears.  But when it is good it is so so good.

I was comparing notes with a friend from church who has a six month old that was a surprise baby. Both of us were talking about how sweet our bonus babies were, how we steal moments with our daughters like 16 year-olds in serious puppy love, that we call this one MY baby and inhale into their soft fuzzy heads. It is so so sweet to trust in the plan God has for me.

The Peanut has been taking to Spike better and better each day. She is actual touching Spike's head softly when she says "nice, nice" rather than the whacking she had done previously. She also likes to share snacks with Spike....which is sweet and dangerous all at the same time. But truly hilarious when she just pretends her sister is eating the cereal by going mmmmMMMmmm and then smacking her lips.

Life with two under two is awesome, but it is intense. Constantly keeping tabs on whether everyone is safe, dry, and full is about all I can handle. Today was the first day I had both kids while Christian was at class. There was only one time when both kids were crying and I didn't cry once. So we will call today a resounding success. I don't want to down play the chaos, and exhaustion that is my daily life (because I have been trying to write this post for a week, but there were always more pressing matters, or I was too tired). I spend most of my days clinging to God's grace, and the rest of it praising God for providing that grace. But I wouldn't have it any other way.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

And now.....a Birth Story

I went into the hospital the Friday of Labor Day weekend sure I was going to have this baby. Sure. And they sent me home.....and I cried. And the same thing at three in the morning on monday. I would wake up with full on contractions and by the time I got to the hospital....nothing. It wasn't really the pain. Pain I can manage. It was the adreniline signals my body kept sending my brain, like "okay! any day now! any moment! stay ready!" They were so intense Christian and I agreed it was time to stop working. I literally felt like I would have to rush to the hospital at any moment and the thought of doing that from Roswell was just too much. So I called my department head and went to my appointment on Tuesday where I cried, and learned my body had been contracting for a week and was making no progress......same thing next Tuesday. 39 weeks, same as 37 sorry about your discomfort...the baby will come when she is ready...... That weekend was Jill's birthday and since there was no baby, what the hey, her husband and I threw her a suprise party. Where I had contractions all day and the next day on Jill's actual birthday.

I was pretty desperate when I walked in to my forty week apointment. If you had told me at 37 weeks I would have contractions on and off for three weeks we would no longer be friends, even facebook friends. Blocked. I had been praying that the Lord would provide the right midwife to see me. My practice has been expanding rapidly and they have added three new midwives in the last couple months. I like them all, but they are all different.

I ended up with Linda, who listened to me cry and told me I was sweet. She asked about my last birth and then checked me. Yes I was in labor....sort of. Head was in position, cervix was ripe, dialated three centimeters......Did I want her to strip my membranes? This is the point a month ago I would have told you my answer would be no! The less messing around you do the better, that baby will come when she is ready, just leave her alone! But your opinion changes when you are miserable, so instead I answered please, do something, anything to get this baby out!

So she did and then I dialated another centimeter and on the way home I started having contractions. Real ones. Enough that I called Christian and put him on notice and Elizabeth convinced me I probably shouldn't be alone. So I came over to her place and took a huge nap in her bed. I figured if these were not real, this would stall them out.

I woke up still contracting. Enough that Elizabeth let me know I was under no circumstances allowed to drive...she knows me too well I am afraid. So I called Jill who checked out of work early and went and got Christian. Then they picked me up and got our stuff and went to the hospital. Where we discovered no progress had been made but I was in labor. And Anjili (the midwife) wanted to know if I wanted to walk around for a little bit, see where things were and decide from there.

This is the part where I beg her not to send me home. Anything but that, what else could we do? After talking with Anjili, Christian and I took some time to weigh our options. This was perhaps the coolest part. I got all the information from my care giver, and talked it over with my husband, and then I got to make the decision about what I wanted to do. No pressure, no intimidation. Every one was going to support whatever I decided. Really, whether a scheduled C or a waterbirth at 42 weeks, I wish everyone I knew got to be in charge of their birth.

My main concern was avoiding a C-section. Anjili assured me that this was probably not going to happen. And she even told me that if breaking my water didn't move things along as we expected, then she thought I could handle a low dose of pitocin without an epidural. But I knew that I could make peace with an epidural, and being reassured I would most likely not need a c-section I decided to go ahead and get admitted.

Christian, Jill, and apparently Anjili went downstairs and got Chick-fil-a while I hoped my body made progress.We text messaged everyone we could think of to pray that I wouldn't need the pitocin. I spent the next hour or so walking in circles with Jill around the labor and delivery floor hoping that things were moving along. When Anjili came to check I was still at four centimeters. She broke my water and encouraged me to do all the things that get gravity on your side, so I lunged and bounced on the birth ball, did squats and paced the floor. There was a marathon of What Not to Wear on, so that kept me busy too.

The next time Anjili checked I was 5 centimeters and the contractions were clearly picking up. She told me she would come back at around 11. At about 10:15 Jill asked me if I wanted to call Anjili. I said I was going to have at least two more contractions, but in the next contraction I told her to call. I wanted in the tub. And I was going to puke. I hate puking.

This labor was definitely more intense than my last. Anjili came in and didn't bother checking me. I was clearly having this baby, no pitocin needed! I got in the tub and the contractions became more intense. I ooooohhhhhhed as loud as I could. The TV was on and it helped to be able to block out that noise with my noise. It also helped to watch the water vibrate as my sound hit it. I needed visual proof of the power of my noise. A couple times I freaked out, and I said I wanted drugs at least once. Last time I was keeping all of those thoughts I "wasn't supposed to have" to myself. Not this time; I knew that for me when something is said out loud it has a lot less power than the thought I am hiding in my head. So I went for it. I said what I needed to say, and then I turned to look at each person in the room and every single person said I could do this, my midwife, my sister, my husband, the nurse. So I did it. Also, what choice do you have when your midwife refuses to get you out of the tub and give you the drugs, and isn't even being firm about it but smiling telling you no!

In the middle of my biggest contraction I was OOOOOOOHHHHHHing away when I looked dead at Christian and said "this kid better look like me!" then went right back to OOOOOHHHHHH and when everyone started laughing I stopped the OOOOOOHHHHH to inform everyone "I wasn't joking!" Especially at the beginning of her life Juliet resembled her dad. I don't resent that at all, but I figured this one was my turn.

I had some trouble in the pushing last time. So this time I read that chapter about three times and did all the exercises the book recommended. I declared myself an expert pusher. Even as I was going through contractions I declared myself an expert pusher. I will keep that title thank you very much. It took about four pushes to get Priscilla out. I was getting frustrated because I could feel her go back in every time I quit pushing, but was assured I was making good progress. Then, one more good push and they were flipping me around and handing me my sweet baby girl.

Through out this whole pregnancy I knew this baby was relaxed, nothing seemed to phase her. Heck, I think that was the reason she didn't come out when I started contracting. She simply was not bothered by them. Every time they checked her heart beat: 140 exactly. Because nothing phases her. Not even birth. We had to tickle her feet to get her to cry just to make sure her lungs were working. Because not even birth bothered her.

Holding Priscilla for the first time was incredible. I had asked the Lord a couple times to show me what she was like. And every time the Lord answered "she is perfect for your family, exactly what I have for you. And when I held her, I understood. This didn't feel like a new thing, it felt like.....Priscilla, the next piece of my something I didn't even know was missing had been returned to me.