Sunday, October 23, 2011


Hey look! I'm actually back on topic today! There will still be a picture with a baby though.

The chickens are all grown up! Those noisy little chicks have been replaced by a quietly clucking herd of hens (and a couple of roosters). They love to wander around the yard and have a nasty habit of making patches of mustard greens and kale disappear if not watched. They also leave lovely large brown eggs behind for us every day. Every few days they leave an egg or two more than before. I see much custard and many boiled eggs in our future.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Working Motherhood

I work outside the home. I can not express how odd that phrase feels to type out. Why is that strange? After all, our culture is laden with working mothers. I know plenty who work from home, plenty who work outside the home, and plenty who spend each day busting their butts watching their little ones every day. It's not like any of these things are unusual.

I suppose it comes down to the fact that I never expected to be working outside the home if/when I had children. I wasn't sure I wanted to be a full time stay home mother either, but working part time from home seemed reasonable. I've also spent most of my life surrounded by people with negative views of stay at home parents, so maybe that has clouded my own views. No matter how much logic I apply to my brain, sometimes old stereotypes I was raised with lurk in my subconscious.

Stereotypes go both ways though. Part of my reluctance to consider my work to be a "real job" may be related to abnormal hours and feeling odd about calling something I love to do "work". I suspect that is only part of it though, as another deeply flawed idea I was surrounded with growing up is that mothers who decide to work are doing so because they're bored at and these aren't real jobs, but glorified hobbies. It is difficult to reconcile that, no matter how much I logically know it's a bunch of bull, with the fact that I have some rather sizable student loans that drag us down as a family and should not be my husband's responsibility just because he was soft hearted (or stupid) enough to marry someone that was lugging around that kind of debt.

So now I work. I am working my way through midwifery training and doing my best to also take clients for a variety of other things to pay the bills. I love what I do, but I also miss my babies. I worry that I'm missing too much of them growing up. I'm in the very lucky position of being able to take my youngest with me to many things and having two bosses that could not be more breastfeeding supportive, but it is still not quite the same.

It's an odd conundrum, this working mom thing.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Picking Up and Moving On

..But not from our home for once! In fact, we're quickly approaching the one year mark of living in our current abode without being in the process of moving or trying to move.That is a feat we've only managed one other time in the past 8-ish years, but I digress.

The long and the short of it is that I got oh so diplomatically fired from teaching the homeschool co-op class I had been hacking away at. To be honest, it wasn't working out and I had not planned to offer to teach again after this quarter was completed, but I was expecting to finish the last three classes before throwing in the towel. I learned a great deal during the experience. Unfortunately, I think I can only say the same for about a third of my students. My respect for k-12 teachers with large classes has also doubled or more. Whoever said "Those who can't do, teach." was clearly never in the position of trying to convince a semi-hostile pack of preteens to get up and work on a group project. I think I'm much better suited to "Do, or do something else."

In any case, I'm not a big fan of feeling like I failed at something, or calling it quits on something I've committed to before completing it. I like to think that's a desire to make things work talking, but it could be pure stubbornness and ego. I'm trying to swallow the idea that this is for the best. I guess only time will tell.

In the meantime, I think this is perfect opportunity to use the time I now unexpectedly have free to get some of my to-do list checked off. My desk has been accumulating an ever growing collection of half finished personal projects the need some attention. I also have a very intimidatingly long list of vocabulary words I need to be working my way through for study purposes.

There's also the fact that I may have lost sight of what drew me to the concept of homeschooling to start with; I want to spend more one on one time with my children. Maybe it's time to refocus myself, not just on work and education, but on cardboard box fort construction and pine cone collecting expeditions as well. They grow up too fast as it is. No need to rush the process, and I definitely don't want to miss it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Thank You

This post inspired by a blog carnival I ran across on the subject of doulas, and, more importantly, my fantastic doula.

I swear I'm trying to keep birth related posts to a minimum, but as Dahlia passes the two month mark I find myself still wanting to shout to the masses how not scary, wonderful, and uncomplicated birth can be. I feel like I owe four people huge thank yous: my husband, my mother, my midwife, and my friend and doula, Talitha.

As of late, I've sung freely the praises of my midwife to anyone who will listen. She was and has continued to be a very positive influence on my life, and she made the birth of my youngest child the joyous event it deserved to be.  I believe I've also made no big secret of my extreme pride in the degree to which my husband stepped up and supported me. It might not hurt to tell him that a bit more often though. I have a long thank you letter I've been slowly writing, editing, and adding to that will eventually find its way to my mother. My doula, however, has gone essentially thankless to this point.

Let me remedy that. Thank you. Thank you! THANK YOU!

For full disclosure, for anyone reading this who does not know me, I am a doula and therefore carry a significant degree of bias regarding the usefulness of the profession. That said, I came to be a doula after having my eldest left me really wishing I'd had one. I won't go into the details of her birth, but I will say it made a doula a requirement for the births of any other children I should happen to have after that.

That whole being a doula myself came with some pros and cons. On the up side, I already knew a number of other local doulas and had a pretty good idea of who lived close enough to me for comfort (I have fast labor and deliveries), I felt comfortable around, and had a philosophy that meshed well with my own. In short, my interviewing process was very brief. On the downside, these other women are essentially professional peers. Did I want someone I occasionally work with or might in the future seeing me stripped down and groaning? What if this birth wasn't as minimally physically painful as my first (it wasn't)? Would I be self conscious about screaming or crying in front of them if I really needed to during labor? If I found myself asking to transfer for pain meds, would I be made to feel like I failed?

After a discussion with my doula-to-be, I felt infinitely better. I didn't bring up most of my concerns, but still came away with those fears quelled. I suspect she's psychic. After an official interview that included the hubby, we were set. I was comfortable with her, hubs was comfortable with her, and Talitha would be our doula.

Most of my pregnancy was uneventful. It was mostly eight months of feeling like we had all the time in the world to get everything done and one month of panicked unpacking of baby gear saved from when the eldest was an infant. I didn't have any great deal of questions or concerns during most of that period. The last month changed that.

I repeatedly told myself that I wasn't "due" until 42 weeks. I had delivered a bit early with my eldest, but was determined not to count on a repeat of that experience. This approach kept me feeling fine with continuing to be pregnant, even through the heat of a southern summer, until baby decided it was time. What I didn't consider in this plan was prodromal labor. I really dislike prodromal labor. The first couple of times I shrugged it off. After five or six rounds I was frustrated. After several weeks of contractions that would get down to 4-5 minutes apart and feel very intense, then just stop, I was ready to tear my hair out.

After one particularly annoying day and night of contractions that had stayed twelve minutes apart for most of that time, I started to meltdown. I felt like I was on a timer. I needed to go into labor when both my husband and my babysitting were available. At that moment my daughter was a few hours away from coming home from spending the night with her grandparents and my husband had just left for work. It was like I had missed my window and would have to wait another week. It wasn't rational, but it was the place my brain was at that time.

I sat in my glider bawling my eyes out and texting my doula. She calmed me down and offered to come be with me while hubby was out. I told her I would be fine and I was pretty sure it wasn't happening today. At that point I don't think I believed it was EVER going happen. I was wrong.

I'll spare everyone the whole birth story, but shortly after that conversation my contractions went from twelve minutes apart to three. I still didn't believe I was really in labor, but my husband thankfully realized that something was very different in my behavior (over text messages, if that says anything about how well he knows me); he called me back after one batch of texting and told me he was coming home and I needed to call my midwife and doula.

Once again, I'll try to spare everyone a huge tangent into birth story, but hubby arrived first and was trying to get everything ready for the birth while I labored. What I really wanted at that moment was my loving partner and father of my child to sit in front of me so I could lean on him, be held by him, just have some kind of physical contact, but I knew I would be really stressed out about everything that wasn't done if he didn't do it (getting the birth kit out, setting up and filling the pool, and cutting up some melon for me to snack on in case it was a long labor).

I often run into the perception that a doula will intrude on a birth or take over the father's support role in the birth, but mine gave me back my husband. Upon her arrival she took over all the tedium so he could give me that physical contact I needed. She gave him a quick refresher course in counter pressure so he could apply it.   In all honesty, I don't know what all she said or suggested to him beyond that; I was very inwardly focused at that point, but I know she was helping him and the two of them together made for the most intuitive support I could have imagined. There was only one point in the entire labor and delivery where I didn't feel like they were practically reading my mind. It was amazing to get the support I needed, when I needed it, and all without any hint of complaint or irritation when what I needed changed every five minutes.

Aside from general support, I really owe some major thanks to my doula for a few specific moments. The biggest one involves the birth pool. I wasn't totally sold on a water birth, but laboring in water was at the top of my list as a backup plan if I found myself with a long, painful labor. Despite everyone else's convictions, I wasn't convinced I was really having a baby, or that it would be any time soon, until Dahlia was crowning. That whole prodromal labor bit really did a number on my mental state in that area. I was urged on a few occasions to give up the attempt to fill the birth pool under the idea that there was no way it would be filled even a minimum amount before baby was born (which turned out to be true).

Only Talitha seemed to realize how desperately I needed to know that I had that backup plan in place if I found myself with contractions of the intensity I was experiencing for hours more. I was terrified that if we gave up the effort, we would only find ourselves desperately trying to resume it several hours later. She continued efforts to get the tub ready, surely knowing as well as everyone else in the room (myself excluded) that it wouldn't be done in time. I know that seems like a terribly small thing, but keep in mind how little room for logic there is in a laboring woman's mind, compared to the incredible degree that fear and stress, rational or not, affect labor.

After the delivery, she, along with other parts of my birth team and my mother, made most of the evidence that I had just had a baby in my living room disappear before most of the family appeared. All this freeing my husband to help me clean myself up and get settled into bed to rest and snuggle my new baby. I think my house was cleaner when everyone left than it was when I went into labor. To top it all off, my wonderful doula even cooked us dinner before she headed out.

I can't imagine any better start to motherhood than relaxing with my partner and our newborn after a peaceful birth with nothing feeling like it needs to be done and a wonderful meal on the table. Can you?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Diet Food Does Not Have To Suck

That's right. I said it. Eating with the intention of weight loss doesn't have to be a miserable experience.

I know that runs contrary to what I was often lead to believe growing up and as a young(er) adult, but it's true. Our meals lately have been simple and amazing. They've been whole grain, fresh, and packed with flavor. A large potion of our meals have been built around what is available in the garden, cooked from scratch, and rarely had more than a half hour of time spent on cooking and prep. I've been favoring Thai inspired dishes (coconut soup and a red curry pictured below), but other, more traditional dishes have been on the menu as well. Roasted or stewed vegetables, greens, and steamed grains have made up several other simple meals (stewed summer squash with toasted couscous of a bed of raw spinach pictured above). Flavored with fresh herbs from the garden, this has been a quick, tasty way to put a meal on the table at the end of a long day, or to whip something up for lunch while simultaneously chasing the toddler.

I have been cheating a bit on my dietary plans. The call of the drive through has not been ignored as much as it should have been on a few occasions when I was under prepared will meal and snack solutions while out with the kiddos. I also have a bit of basmati rice habit when I cook certain things. While I have no problem with carbs, I'm trying to stick to options that may be a bit less processed than white rice.

Even with my occasional cheating, so far, so good. As of this morning's weigh in, I'm down eight pounds. Not bad at all, in my opinion. I am also cheating a bit in that I'm also nursing a baby, which theoretically helps with postpartum weight loss. It didn't work out that way for me after Mellie was born, but circumstances were different that time around. My goal, at this time, is 40 pounds of loss by Dahlia's first birthday. At the current rate of loss, with ten months to go, my prospects seem pretty good! Here's hoping.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Snack Time

Changing how I eat has been a mostly non-issue. There have been a variety of things including pasture raised eggs from family chickens with veggies and herbs from the garden for breakfast, sandwiches with homemade bread, jam, peanut butter (with as many homegrown ingredients as we have available) for lunches, and lots of curries with garden produce and grains.

Mellie is pretty open to eating these meals with us. It's what she has grown up eating and isn't "weird" food to her, just normal fare, so that's been a non-issue. What has been more difficult is snack time. I'm bad about snacks. If I'm not also eating, it's not unusual for her to get store bought crackers, single serving jello, pudding, or yogurt cups, or other ready made things that I really have no clue what is actually in them, and probably don't want to know. Problem is, much like curries, marinated salads, or other things that many people we run into are amazed she happily eats, Mellie is now used to junk food for snacks. I'm discovering more and more that the packaging has more to do with it than the food itself. She doesn't want the single serving pudding transferred into a bowl, but put homemade yogurt in a container she can open herself and she digs in. Slowly but surely I'm using little tricks like this to turn the tide in her diet.

After all, I'm hoping weight loss will be a pleasant side effect for myself, but the ultimate goal is to live healthier, and I want that for my whole family.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Good Morning River

I drug myself out of bed considerably earlier than normal this morning in order to catch the morning light for a little photography.

Dahlia came along and seemed to be a very happy baby as we did a little wading in the Chatahoochee River for a watery maternity session. The water was a little chilly on arrival, but thankfully not too cold.

My model was fantastic. The current was a bit strong today for whatever reason and didn't allow some of the images I was envisioning, but my model was gorgeous and glowing and looked very much like a mother mermaid sitting on the river rocks with her skirt swirling around in the water and hair blowing in the breeze.

It was a fun start to what turned into a crazy day. Looking forward to doing it again soon!