the midwest and the sisters

Our week vacation with the inlaws is coming to a close. Later today we'll head back to Arkansas. Spending time in the midwest is always strange for me. The flat wavy land. The crop fields. The lone farmhouses. Barns and silos. Straight highways. These characteristics are different from the places I've lived in Texas, California, and Arkansas. The thing that gets to me the most is the feeling of isolation. Some people find solice in this midwestern landscape, but for me is it is strange.

I've had a good time with Chad's sisters. Holly, the younger one, and I have spent the most time together. We've been to Starbucks several times. She always get a white chocolate mocha. I've discovered lattes; I like how simple and smooth they are. With all the holiday pie and cookies, I've been in the mood for coffee without chocolate, thus I tried something besides my usual cafe mocha.

Chelsea is engaged. She and her man are trying to figure out when to get married. Short engagment or long engagement? I always vote for short, but maybe in their case a long one is okay. Chad and I had a 3 month engagement and if we were to do it again, we'd make it even shorter. My philosophy is if you know you're going to get married, just do it. But circumstances make things different sometimes.

I'm starting to understand that my own life experiences are not always applicable to others. For instance, Holly has decided to go to a community college and live at home next semester instead of continuing on at the four year liberal arts Christian university where she's been. My heart sunk when I heard her plan. I had such a wonderful time at JBU and I wanted her to experience the same. She is leary of acquiring so much debt and she can get a nursing degree both ways, so she's coming home. After seeing the situation close up, I feel she's making a good decision, even though it's very different from my own.

Once we get home I will not be able to blog for awhile longer. I'm looking forward to the day when I can email and blog from my home office while sitting next to a window viewing trees and birds. Country living is wearing off on me. I'm looking forward to going home today.


turkey day

Happy Thanksgiving! The day is winding up. Everyone is awake now. (Typically, this is a family of sleeper-inners.) Monkey bread is baking and coffee is brewing. Large homemade apple and pumpkin pies are on the counter; evidence of late night work. Later we'll have the full fledged meal including turkey, dressing, mashed potatos, green bean casserole, rolls, gravy, etc. You get the picture.

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. This could have something to do with the fact that we did not celebrate Christmas when I was a child, leaving T-Day alone in the holiday season. (More on that another time.) Thanksgiving is such a straight-forward celebration. There are no presents, which makes it less stressful. I love the whole idea of simply being grateful, too. Whether the graditude is for country, family, loved ones, a home, community, or just a hot meal... it's good to give thanks.

Have a great day!


pms talk & more on country living

The new house is coming along. Each week Chad checks things off his unending To-Do List. We now have towel racks, closet rods, doorknobs, light fixtures, and windows. Yes, when we moved in these things were not complete. (!) Having the inside of the house complete makes me very happy. I've adjusted to being in country. I enjoy it each day now.

I think my difficulty in adjusting had more to do with PMS than with the actual move. The old familiar symptoms hit me like a ton of bricks. Restlessness, desperation, irritability, and discontentment rolled in like fog, surrounding everything I did. I struggled to understand and then, Voila... the sun broke through. Cramps, backache, and numb legs replaced the end-of-the-world state of mind.

I was surprisingly delighted as my body kicked back into fertile mode. I guess I was worried it would take years instead of months, making it impossible to have another baby. This surprised me because I don't even want another baby yet. But knowing that it is possible is a good thing.

Melody is 11 months old now! In less than a month she'll be eating her first birthday cake. I can't wait to see her pointer finger discover frosting and crumbs for the first time. Her wispy hair is getting long around the nap of her neck, making her look more like a toddler than a baby. She has four large teeth now; all different lengths. Her new nickname is Snaggle Tooth.

We are still without a phone line and internet access. It seems we're on the border of two tiny podunk towns and they can't figure out who is responsible to provide our phone service. Lovely. Maybe by 2007 they will figure out how to give us the oldest, slowest dial-up service in the country. An old man actually knocked on our door last week to talk to me about the situation. I would have been ticked off about it except, I have this thing for old men. They absolutely melt my heart because I think they're so cute. This old guy had a bright smile and twinkling eyes. He reminded me of Clint Eastwood. How can I get mad at that?

One of my life goals is to compile a photo album with snapshots of old men.



I have differing reactions to being in the country at our new home. First, I have to say, I love the house. Although it isn't complete, I love it. The colors turned out great. The butter yellow kitchen is the best room of the house with stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, and can lighting. I like the galley layout and the attached breakfast area is small and cozy. It is the perfect size for our little family.

The living room is also great. The walls are a muted blue creating a restful and soothing atmosphere. (The name of the blue is actually, Atmosphere!) The simple vaulted ceiling leads one's eyes to the Mission Style fan at the peak of the room. Our furniture works in the new house much better than it did in the previous one. The orange and khaki slipcovers blend into the color scheme with ease.

Even though I love the house, I don't feel at home yet. We've moved multiple times and this is the first time I haven't been able to settle into the new surrounding with ease. I have not slept well yet, and during the day I wander around the house as if it isn't my own. I am happy in the mornings, but by early afternoon, I begin to feel closed in and isolated. We're located 15 minutes from tiny Siloam and 25 minutes from beloved Fayetteville. Chad and I went to college in Siloam. I worked there for 4 years before Melody was born. To return now feels like taking a step backward. I often read magazines like Real Simple and daydream about big city living. Being in the country reinforces the fact that I'm far away from this big city dream.

I thought I was doing well hiding my slight misgivings about the country until yesterday when Chad said, "I feel like you don't want to be out here with me." He has intentionally included me in the house-building process. He said multiple times, "The inside of the house is yours. You can do whatever you want." He's given me this freedom so I will be happy living on his 22 acre dreamland. I am trying, but it is a fight.

There are things I love, though. The area surrounding the house is beautiful. Trees are all around, creating scattered sunlight and shade. Leaves continually fall in the autumn breeze. Am I crazy for feeling strange in such a pefect setting? I hope this new place feels like home soon.

duvet insanity solved

A couple days ago Laura walked into the house through the garage. She had a large, square, white item in her arms. I eyed her curiously with a question on my face. She smiled and said, "For you, Loca."

"What...huh?" My mind was occupied with moving plans.

"I read your blog. This was a wedding gift, but it's too hot for us so we can't use it. It's 86 x 86, just the size you need! It's yours."

How cool is that!!? The down comforter is fluffy, new, white, cloud-like, and the PERFECT size for my duvet cover. The first room I put together at our new house was the guest bedroom, because I was so excited to assemble the bed coverings. It looks awesome!

The walls are yellow. Two windows allow light to pour in, making the room bright and happy. Two bright blue-turquoise chair pads are tied to wooden chairs in the corner. On the bed, the fluffy comforter is smooth and inviting, with orange accent pillows piled atop the shams. The duvet is light blue with a mod orange pin-wheel pattern. A tan run sits askew on the rust concrete floor. It could be a beach house room.

Thanks Laura!

the move

We are in our new house. The move went remarkably smooth; we ended up with TONS of help. Three friends came from out of town and about 12 others from the area were present for the occasion. I was astounded at the turnout. Not only did they move all our boxes and furniture, they also cleaned the entire old house and unpacked most of the new one!

Laura and Sarah worked tirelessly on the new kitchen, unloading plates, appliances, cans, fridge food, etc. Brian put the crib and bed frames together. Todd packed and drove the Uhaul. Heather arranged the slipcovers superbly (a job I abhore). Liz put Melody's room together. (She is baby crazy these days.) Lauren dusted doors, mop board, and light fixtures at the old house. Traci cleaned the showers. Charlie moved the heavy, 20+ year old, orange, hide-a-bed for the 6th time. (He has helped us move every single time since we got married five years ago. This time he drove 7 hours from Nebraska!) Vance, Chris, Josh, Matt, Jared, Casey and Neil delivered boxes to assigned rooms until the truck was EMPTY.

Needless to say, I was dumbfounded by the help we received. I couldn't believe it. It was easy and fun with all of us together. By the end of the day we were exhausted. We sank onto couches, chairs, floor space and ate Eureka Pizza and drank Pale Ale and October Fest beer. I think I said Thank You over a hundred times. I had no idea it was even possible to accomplish so much in one day.


hello, my name is rebekah. i am a nag.

Being in a marriage relationship gets tricky sometimes. Recently, I saw myself in a new light. I am a nag. (Gasp.) This is something I have desperately tried NOT to be. Growing up, there was nagging in my home. I entered marriage thinking it an unnecessary form of communication. I likened it to yelling. If one resorts to yelling in order to get attention, then the opposing party will wait for yelling before he/she responds. Yada, yada, yada. This all made total sense in theory.

Chad and I started our relationship on strictly no nagging terms. I was careful to let him do what he pleased. This pertained to facial hair, clothing style, driving techniques, eating habits, and a myriad of other personal things. If we were talking in the car and his favorite song came on the radio, I'd carefully stop talking so he could listen to his song. Once it was over, we'd resume. He didn't require this behavior; but showed appreciation for it. I took pride in the fact that I was not one of "those" girlfriends. You know, the kind that are controlling and clingy. Looking back, I think much of this was a facade.

I was trying hard to be the right type of girlfriend. Maybe because I was insecure? Maybe because I hadn't dated anyone else? I think I just really really liked him, and I wanted him to like me, too.

Fastforward five years. We're married with a baby, building a house, and about to move. It's a Saturday morning. I'm running a garage sale in our driveway. Chad is bustling around, trying to get things together for a day of work at the new house. I remind Chad that he needs to put a For Rent sign in the front yard. He stops what he's doing and spends 15 or 20 minutes on the task. I am mildly aware of his actions. The next thing I know, there is a sign in the yard. Sticking out from underneath the small For Rent sign is a long narrow section of signage from a previous sign. It shows on either side of the Rent sign. It is visually distracting and ugly (to me).

"Baaabe... that's not going to work. It looks horrible. It's not readable. LOOK at it."

He squints at me from across garage, the morning sun in his eyes. Locals are rummaging through our junk in the driveway. He replies, "Well, that is the only way it'll stay stuck to the stake. Sorry." His tone indicates that he's finished working on it, despite my verdict of unacceptability. I push harder:

"Usually you come up with better solutions than that."

He remains silent and disappears into the house as I deal with a yard sale customer. The next thing I know, he briskly walks to his truck, which is parked at the curb. He gets in and speeds away. He's obviously angry. He never leaves without saying goodbye. I walk to the end of the driveway, watching in disbelief, wondering if he'll really leave the neighborhood. He's gone. I had no idea my words would have that kind of an effect. I began to replay them in my head. Oh no. I was horrible.

Less than five minutes later, Chad's black Tundra reappeard on our street. As he got our of the truck, I stood up from my camping chair station and took two little steps toward him. He walked the rest of the way to me, his eyes steady on mine. As he neared he said, "I don't want to be like that." I apologized for my harsh words. In the five minutes of his absense I had fixed the sign with a creative solution: I taped white index cards over the offending extra signage and drew large bold arrows pointing in toward the sign. It looked like a cute little custom sign.

After making up, we said goodbye and he left again. A few minutes later I came inside the house. My mom was here; I told her we had had a tiff. I said it was due to my nagging him. She paused and chose her words carefully. "Bekah, I've noticed that you nag Chad often. He takes it and says nothing." I gulped and asked for more details. She could not give me an example. She tried to be sweet and sensitive, but honest. My phone rang and I stumbled out of the half packed bedroom to get away, tears brimming in my eyes.

Once alone, I cried. I felt so blind. Why couldn't I see myself the way others did? I hated myself and the blindness. I closed the garage sale with tears spilling down my cheeks. Neighboors eyed me with curiousity. I shut the garage door, and went to my bathroom. As I stepped into the hot shower, I wondered, "Is Chad as happy as I am in our marriage?"

I spent the rest of the day thinking about us. I remembered the way I intentionally tried not to nag him in the early days of our relationship. What changed? Was it that I was secure and comfortable with us? Maybe. But I still want him to enjoy being around me. If we're going to spend the rest of our lives together, it should be pleasant for both of us.

By the end of the day, I was exhuasted from self-introspection. The following morning the three of us went out to breakfast. Melody was an angel and we were able to talk one-on-one. I told him about the day before. I apologized for being a Nag. We discussed how we felt. He told me that I'm unpleasant when in a bad mood. Other than that, he didn't have anything to complain about. Whew. I was relieved to hear he is still happy with us.

I want to be a good wife. I want to make him happy. I want to make him smile on a daily basis. In our wedding vows we spoke of making our home a place of refuge. A place of safety, warmth, and comfort. I want with all my heart for this to be the case. I am trying to remember to ask God for strength, sensitivity, grace, and self control. It is when I try to do these things myself that I fail. I need help.


duvet insanity

What's the deal with Duvet Covers? I recently bought one at Target. It is labeled as a size full/queen. It was on clearance for $15, so I purchased it for our guest room. After arriving home with it, I realized I don't have a comforter to put inside it. Argh. For the past few weeks I've been searching for an inexpensive comforter to use with the blasted duvet cover. Here's the catch... full/queen sizes differ! The duvet I have is 86 x 86. I have yet to find a comforter this exact size. What am I suppose to do?? Who thought of duvet covers anyway? It's like the equivalant to a slipcover. Everyone knows that for a slipcover to look GOOD, it costs as much as an actual couch. What's the point in that? Why not just buy a new couch?

Here's my question... can I make my own filler for this new duvet cover I have? If so, what should I use? The thing with going this route is, I know I'll end up spending more money on the insides than I did on the cover! Not to mention my time. Simple projects never turn out simple.

For instance, when I was pregnant I made a ribbon mobile for Melody's room. I saw the idea in a Martha Stewart Kids magazine (very cool publication, by the way). I bought a medium size embroidery hoop and tons of ribbon. I cut the ribbon into 20" strips. Then I draped the strips over the hoop, creating a ring of dangling colorful ribbon. I used double stick tape and glue to make it all stick together. I had to return to Hobby Lobby three times to buy more ribbon in order to make the thing look right. I ended up spending over $20 on it. Looking back, I don't regret it because it turned out really cool and Melody loves it. But when I started the project I thought it would be a fun way to make an inexpensive mobile. (My parents ended up getting her a Winnie the Pooh mobile, so the ribbon creation hangs over the changing table.)

With that said, are there any duvet suggestions for me? Thanks!


catch all

The move is looming. Six days. We have a rent sign in the front yard. So far, we've received two inquiring calls. We're nervous because we've never rented to anyone before. We thought about having a Property Management Service take care of it for the first year. They charge 10% of the rent price. We had two services come look at the house. Neither of them impressed us. After their visits we were left with the feeling, "We can do this ourselves." We hope to have the house occupied by November. Any advice?

The garage has turned into Box Land. One side is piled high with heavy, labeled, sealed boxes. The other side has lopsided stacks of empty boxes, waiting for me to get busy. Today I'm tackling the Laundry. We usually have a steady basket of dirties waiting. I am the type who does a load here and there, never getting to the bottom of the basket. (Proof that we have too many clothes.) Today I decided it would be nice to have everything clean for the move. That way I can forget about laundry for a couple weeks and focus on unpacking the new house. Do you see why the house is a backsliding scenerio for me?

In other news I'm now five little pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight. For me, the saying will be more like, "Nine months on, 11 months off." I'm wearing my old clothes, which is awesome. They don't fit quite like they used to, but I'm happy nonetheless. I am delighted to not be wearing the DD bomb bras anymore.

Melody is nine and a half months old. She scurries around the house, crawling army-style. She proudly cruises alongside the couch and coffee table. I see lots of bumps and bruises in the immediate future. Each day she is stronger and more coordinated. She grabs handfulls of cheerios (3) with vigor instead of apprehension. I think she tries to say "bear" when holding her stuffed animals. Is sounds like, "Baaa." I've been video-taping her more lately.


thoughts on moving

We plan to move in 9 days. I am feeling overwhelmed. I'm at the point with packing where I've boxed up the easy stuff. Now I keep turning in circles, eyeing different objects, wondering if they should be boxed up yet. Linen closet? What about the people coming from out of town to help us move? They'll need towels. I've done about 3/4 of the kitchen.

Melody's room is untouched because I want to take pictures of it before dismantling everything. Her walls, furniture, and decor are the most intentional and finished of the whole house. Right now I have black and white film in my camera. I need to finish this roll before I'm able to take color photos of her bedroom. Such are the things on my mind.

I had planned to host playgroup at my house tomorrow. It felt nostalgic about this being the last opportunity to have Playgroup here. Turns out, there's just too much going on. I bailed and will skip the get-together. I'm desperately hoping my friends will make the 30+ minute drive to the now house. Perhaps the posibility of these friendships waning is the reason for my melancoly today.

I'm also a bit sad about leaving this house. We've been here for three years -- the longest place of residence in our 5 year marriage. Chad and I walked these sidewalks often during my pregnancy. Melody was born in this house. I always have trouble leaving things behind.


kitchen woes

We are moving in 12 short days and I'm feeling pressure to be organized. I've packed the spare bedroom (camping gear, books, computer stuff) and most of the kitchen. A fraction of our dishes, spices, canned food, and baking items is left. It feels good to have bare cabinets. Clean and simple. Usually I have to move multiple items to get to the flour or sugar.

Our new kitchen will be smaller than the current one. But it will have a pantry, which we don't have right now. So maybe it will even out? I would love to have completely bare countertops. I think that would look so nice. But I use the blender almost every day to make fruit smoothies for breakfast. The toaster oven is used once or twice a week. A utensil holder sits next to the stove, holding everyday spatulas, spoons, and such. Then there's the salt, pepper, jar of clothspins (used for keeping opened packages tightly closed), multi vitamin (that I won't take unless I SEE it everyday), coffee maker (used everyday), and two colorful fire king mugs (holding the silverware).

I use these things all the time. So how can I avoid keeping them on the countertop? I love pictures of Ikea kitchens; sparse with lots of flat shiny surfaces. Lately I've been reading quite a bit of the magazine, Real Simple. I like the photography in the publication; it puts a fire in me to have clean and simple rooms.

There is one thing on the kitchen counter that I love... that's my cobalt blue Kitchen Aid mixer. It's one of my favorite possessions. Chad surprised me with it for my birthday about a year ago. I like having it out in the open, because it reminds me that Chad loves me. Also, because it's so pretty.

Does anyone have any kitchen tips for me?


my brother, part 4

Back to my brother's story.

Christoper always excelled in school. He liked being in competition with the smart kids. He quickly outgrew the high school environment and decided to do his junior and senior year together, enabling him to graduate a year early. He impressed us all with his perseverance and hard work. He took two english classes, several hard science classes, and a speech class at a local university. He studied late into the night more than a couple times a week. By the time May arrived, he had earned the right to say goodbye to Clarksville High early. We were all very proud of him. At the graduation ceremony the principle had each student stand to be recognized for college scholarships received. My chest swelled with pride as the principle said, "Chris Kotter. John Brown University. Excellence in Engineering Scholarship." I felt like standing up and saying, "That's MY brother!"

He decided to attend John Brown University after considering many state schools. This decision made us all happy. Chad and I had awesome experiences at the small Christian school. I can't help but think that our positive stories impacted his decision to go there.

About a month ago, he moved into the dorm. He was giddy, a little self conscious, and all smiles. His roomate is a missionary kid from Brazil. So far, they get along. Once a week or so, I call Christopher to see if he needs anything. He's without a car, and Walmart is not in walking distance from the campus. He usually turns down my offer for Walmart runs, but he always receives invitations for meals out or a weekend afternoon at our house.

When I see him, I can't help but smile inside. He's so grown up. His chest, neck and arms are filling in. (He lifts weights with a buddy.) His voice seems more mature. He laughs like a man -- deeply and with light in his eyes. He is more alive than ever before. His major is Construction Management, which is the same thing Chad studied. They compare stories of profs, projects, and classes. By the time Chris graduates they'll have a lot more in common.

I guess this is the end of my series on my little bro. As I write Part 4, I think of many stories I've left out. In the future I'll revisit the topic and tell stories of him taking a rental car for a hush-hush 100 mph spin around town, band camp girlfriends and other typical little brother stuff.


clothes talk

I am tired of all my clothes. I keep buying the same stuff over and over again. I have this desire to dress funky and unique. Something between skater-chick, hippie, and prep. I know; those are opposites. That is one of my problems.

Another problem is that I like simplicity too much. I am drawn to the Favorite-Ts at the Gap. If they are on sale, I buy them every time. My closet has various colors of the long-sleeve and short-sleeve versions. Sometimes I layer them with the short-sleeved ones on top. That is about the extent of my "style."

I see girls wearing layered lacy tanks with sparkly shoes. I like that look, but I'd feel like an alien if I wore it. Which leads to another one of my problems. Confidence. I second guess myself when I try new things. One time in aerobics I tried to be cool and wore something out of the ordinary. I could barely do the steps right, because I was so self-consious with all the mirrors. After that I stuck to grey shorts and big white t-shirts. Borrrrring.

Maybe another one of my problems is that I live in Arkansas. This might be a cop-out, but really... we only have a few places to get stuff. Yeah, yeah, I could order from the internet, but that just isn't the same as REALLY shopping.

Today I ventured to the mall and made myself go into a store other than the Gap. I entered Express, determined to find something different. A nice clerk began talking to me. She was five months pregnanct. We exchanged baby pleasantries and then I began the search. I found several shirts with cute sleeves, a little sparkle and slinky material. Fun stuff. Each time I found an item to consider, there were only Smalls and X-Smalls available. What the hell?! Here I am, excited that my boobs are finally on their way down from a DD. I'm feeling good because MIGHT be able to fit into a Large instead of an XL. Good grief. Are there really THAT MANY tiny people out there? Obviously not, because all the big sizes are gone. Errr. (This is a different subject for a different post... sorry.)

I ended up buying a long-sleeve black v-neck. (50% off for $12.50. Not bad.) Along the neckline are understated sparklies and lace. I plan to wear a black tank underneath for added support and coverage. Soon, when I can fit my wide bootie into my date jeans, I'll have a fun, new outfit to show off. If only there were a store in the mall where we could buy Confidence to finish off the new look.


garage sale tidbits

Today I participated in a garage sale with two friends. All three of us are moving within the next three weeks. We each have babies. We wanted to get rid of junk, make some cash, and hang out. I dragged myself from bed at 6am and managed to stumble out the door with a blurry-eyed baby at 6:35. I got a dozen Krispy Kremes on the way (as well as coffee for myself) and arrived just at 7:00. Buyers steadily came and went until 1:00. During these six hours we juggled babies, bartered dollars, and told stories about our rejected possesions. We laughed at people (nicely) and made sure the kids didn't get too close to the street.

By noon, I was zonked. Melody had taken two naps in a $1 leopard print umbrella stroller. I sold two video game chairs, Chad's metal weights, an array of kitchen glassware, full size duvet cover with shams, and two little girl play strollers. I also sold an anitque high chair that I purchased a few weeks ago at a flea market. I snatched it up with high hopes of having a CUTE high chair instead of the monster ones on the market these days. It ended up being ricketty with slick chipped paint and no straps. I'm still looking for the right solution.

Items I was not sucessful at getting rid of where my husband's weight bench and one of those monster high chairs I mentioned already. It came from a neighbor several months ago. It had a cracked vinyl seat. By the end of the sale I had a $1 sticker on it. One lady did consider it for awhile. She said her brother needed a high chair for his restaurant. The girls and I laughed like banchees after she left. I could picture it in a dingy corner of some greasy waffle joint. Just the kind of public chair I'd love to use for my baby!

All in all, I made $65. (Of course if you subtract money from the donuts, coffee, lunch, poster board, huge black marker, and gas, I probably only made about $45. It was worth it for the social time.) Now it's early afternoon. Melody is sleeping and I'm heading to Nap Land myself. Chad is working on the house until dark, so I have the rest of the afternoon to rest, pack a little, clean up things, and perhaps make some banana bread.


update -- the house & melody

We have a lot going on right now. For one, we're building a house. That in itself is a lot. The house will be ready for interior paint in about a week. We've been busy picking colors, facets, lights, countertops, appliances, tubs, etc, etc, etc. The list is long! Now that I can see the house taking shape, I'm excited. Chad has been excited since before the footings were poured. It was hard for me to invision things until recently. Now I'm excited too.

Chad works for a residential construction company, so he knows about this stuff already. His job involves buying materials and scheduling. Thus, he's in his element when it comes to building our own house. He has scheduled things out to the day; of course there have been bumps and mishaps, but for the most part it has been a successful project. They say the devil is in the details, so we'll see how things pan out in the end. Chad plans on doing the trim himself as well as the cedar siding on the exterior of the house. I fear these two projects will take months. The other day I asked, "Have you estimated how much time your projects are going to take?" His facial expression showed me the answer. No. I try not to nag.

I took Melody to the doctor a couple days ago. She's been acting strange this week. Nights have been rough for 5 days in a row. She was sleeping 10 hour stretches with no problem until this week. It has been hard to be up with her again; it reminds me of the newborn days. I remember those first weeks with awe. How did I do it? I remember taking a 10 minute walk and then returning to the house and sleeping for two solid hours...

But back to the doctor visit... her ears, throat, and breathing checked out fine. At the end of the visit the doctor weighed her. She is 15 pounds / 9 ounces. She has gained only one pound in the past two months. (!) Her rank has slipped to the 5th percentile (from the 15th).

Of course I'm worried. I've talked to many people -- other moms, my mom, Chad, friends. They say nice things to ease my mind.

"You feed her often. She's fine."
"She's just petite. It's okay for girls to be little."
"Her motor skills and cognitive development are on track."
"Don't worry about it."

I've been trying to be brave; to not think about it; not let it get to me. But I'm distracted and tired and my mind keeps returning to the issue of her size. I love the way she looks. She has soft, round legs and a little ball tummy. When she's naked I squeal at the sight of her tiny proportions. I'm not alarmed by her appearance. I only worry after we've visited the doctor.

I make ongoing mental lists of high calorie baby food she can eat -- avocado, egg yolk, yogurt, flaxseed oil, banana. She eats all these foods without resisting. However, she only eats a tiny bit of each... maybe a 10th of an avocado or one ounce of yogurt at a time.

We've stopped breastfeeding. For awhile I nursed her at night and in the mornings. Then last week she began refusing. She still cuddles up to me as we lay side by side, in our nursing position. She holds onto my shirt, drawing it close to her face. With her other hand she sucks her fingers. This is the way she falls asleep now. I'm thankful we can still be so close even though she won't nurse. I have mixed feeling on her weaning. Part of me is sad because I planned to nurse until December. I am sad she won't get the nutrition of breastmilk anymore. Another part of me is relieved and happy. I'm feel free! My body belongs to ME again.


my brother, part 3

Back to the story of my little bro...

When my brother was three months old we moved from Texas to California. On the seven day drive he took up most of the car. In the backseat we had a baby car bed which occupied two-thirds of the bench seat. In the front seat a large rear facing carseat sat inbetween my parents. These items symbolized his presence in our family; he was the focus. I remember staring at him as he slept next to me in the back seat. He wore only his diaper as we drove through the desert on Hwy 10. He slept on his stomach; I traced lightly on his soft back, hoping he enjoyed my touch.

We lived in California for 4 years. They were heart-wrenching years of loneliness, isolation, adolescence, and bad clothes. I took comfort in my toddler companion who didn't see lack of style, bad hair, or dorky conversation. During the earthquake of 1989, I was the one who grabbed him as we fled to the hallway of the shaking house.

Christopher had a special way with old people. When we visited my grandpa in the nursing home I crumbled into my dad's arms at the sights and sounds of the ailing, bed-ridden elderly. My brother was three years old and he didn't see these things. He was oblivious to the smells and sadness. He walked the halls with my grandpa; small new hand wrapped in strong old wrinkled fingers. He hummed along in his high-little-boy-voice as my grandpa sang old hymns with his rummbling crackly deep voice. It was an endearing sight.

When Christopher was 4 and I was 15, we moved to Arkansas. A year later he started kindergarden and I made sure my mom bought him cute clothes so he'd fit in. We had more money at this point, so getting him nice things was easier. He named our black stray cat, Apple. He loved to ride in the front seat of the mini-van. Usually I made him sit in the backseat though. He was great at Monopoly at a young age. He had a coin collection. He loved doing outside projects with my dad and saving his money.

When he was eight years old I left for college. While moving into my female-only dorm, men had to yell "Man on the hall" when they entered. We all laughed when his high squeaky voice proclaimed, "Man on the hall!" On my visits home from college I would take Christopher to school in the mornings. On the way, we'd get donuts and eat them quickly as to finish before arriving at the school.

When he was ten I brought lots of friends home from college. We'd spend weekends eating real food, sleeping on floors all over the house, and playing video games, legos, and outside games. He joined in with the big kids and had a blast. My friend Matt told him about cool bands and Christopher immediately spent his money on their CDs.

He was twelve when I graduated from college. Fourteen when I got married. And 18 when Melody came along. Shortly after her birth he called our dear Uncle Jerry and said, "Tell me how to be a good uncle." Jerry's response, "Take her to 7-11 and buy her candy." So far Christopher has been an awesome uncle.


the juggling game

I am not finished posting about my brother, but I am going to write about other stuff today. One of the reasons I've been absent is because I felt constrained to post about him again, and the inspiration wasn't there.

Today has been strange. I woke up early at 6:00. Melody was still asleep and I enjoyed the darkness of the quiet morning. I took care of paperwork while my brain was fresh. I think best in the morning. My motor skills are a different story. As I attempted to make a smoothie, frozen peaches went flying, clattering loudy on the tile floor.

Melody woke around 7:00. We nursed and then walked for a hour. She slouched to one side of her stroller with a duh face as the cracks in the sidewalk rhymically passed. I felt strong and sturdy and walked briskly. The air was cool, evidence that summer is finally saying goodbye.

The rest of the day has been a struggle. I've been on a mission to take care of things. Send my bro-in-law and sis-in law letters with snapshots of Melody. They are both in college and need contact from the outside world. Make bean soup. I've had a bag of dry red beans for over a year. I found them on Saturday as I began packing the kitchen for our upcoming move. I vowed to cook them before we move; today is the day. They are simmering on the stove with brown rice, tomatoes, green onions, corn, and ranch seasoning. I hope it's good, because there's a lot of it.

The reason these things have been a struggle is because I ignore Melody while I work. She watches Einstein, plays on her blanket, claps her hands, and watches me walk back and forth through the living room over and over again. After awhile she gets bored and wants my attention. Most days I gladly quit my chore to be with her. Here is my question: Is it possible to be a good mom AND a good homemaker? I feel like I have to choose. And inbetween these two, I long to find a tiny bit of time for just ME. To read, write, email, whatever.

I'm not complaining... I love being at home. I'm just wondering how to juggle it all. How do you do it?


my brother, part 2

The days after my brother's birth were awesome. All three of us - my mom, dad, and myself - were overjoyed. We smiled nonstop and gave him nonstop attention. My dad spent the first hours of Christopher's life holding him in a rocking chair as my mom slept in the recovery room. Hospital policy said I couldn't hold the baby for the first 24 hours, because I was under the age of 14. In fact, I had to stay at least a few feet AWAY from Christopher during this period. My dad's head hung low in front of his chest as he stared at the new bundle. I sat in a folding chair, about 5 feet away, bored to death, willing the hours to pass so I could hold him myself.

The first time I held Christopher was wonderful. We were in a tiny shared hospital room with multiple chairs and a large bed on wheels. My mom was sore and out-of-it. My dad watched intently as I carefully cradled Christopher. I was a lanky preadolescent; uncoordination is a dominant trait in our family. Slowly, I stood up to move to the other side of the room. My dad leaned in, hands ready, nervous as hell. My foot gingerly stepped forward and barely brushed against the bedside. My dad's arms flew out to catch the falling baby, even though nothing had happened. I sighed and said something like, "I'm FINE, dad. I'm fine."

Christopher was a fantastic baby. My mom nursed him every hour and a half to make sure he was "thriving." He began sleeping ten hour stretches at an early age. He rarely cried and was prone to staring contentedly into space for long spells. I enjoyed being a big sister to the uttermost. My first day back at school was fun. The principle announced that I had a new brother on the intercom. Hugh Simpson was my heart throb that year (and the year before -- it was a long crush) and we sat next to each other. Thanks to Christopher, we had our first real conversation:

Hugh: So. You have a baby brother?

Me: Yeah.

Hugh: What's his name?

Me: Christopher Daniel

Hugh: Cool.

Me: Yeah.

(Maybe that explains why I never had boyfriends?) Those of you who read Part 1 of Christopher's story know that his middle name is NOT Daniel; it is Milton. I was embarrassed to tell Hugh, so I made up a different name! It was a spur of the moment decision in the midst of sweaty palms and a wildly beating heart. Maybe if I'd used the real name, it's uniqueness would have sparked a longer conversation. Probably not.


my brother, part 1

I've decided to post about my brother. He is ten and a half years younger than me and is my only sibling. He means the world to me, so I thought I'd write about him for awhile.

I was an only child as a young girl and I hated it. Most of the families we were knew had at least 3 children. I was the only, only-child I knew. Each day I'd beg my mom to call a friend to play with me. She'd say, "But we called them yesterday. We can't call two days in a row." The extrovert in me suffered.

When I was five years old my mom got pregnant. She lost the baby girl at 37 weeks. Each March our family still feels the sadness of her absence. We never found out the cause of death. I do not remember anything about that pregnancy or loss. My mom says I came into the hospital room and crawled onto the bed with her. I was crying and said, "I want the baby." She replied, "We'll get you another baby." I shook my head, "No. I want THAT baby." The one thing I recall was being in a dark hospital hallway with my caring Uncle Jerry. He gave me a medium sized stuffed bunny that had a music box inside. I wonder if he bought it for the baby and gave it to me instead?

After the stillborn, my parents didn't know if they'd be able to get pregnant again. Five years passed. My mom suffered with severe chronic fatique during that time; many of her days were spent in bed. I longed for a brother or sister with all my heart.

One day she was sick in bed and I was moping around the house, bored. My dad was in the bedroom with her, and they called me to the room. I sat at the foot of the bed and waited to hear what they wanted to say. My dad said, "You know your mom is sick a lot of the time. Usually we don't know what the cause of her illness. But today we do: She is pregnant!" I gulped in disbelief. A smile spread across my shocked face. An involuntary laugh bubbled from my mouth. As I giggled with delight, tears spilled down my face. It was the first time I cried for happiness.

The pregnancy was long. At the beginning there was bleeding and fear. One of the first appointments was scary. The doctor thought my mom was about 12 weeks along. A nurse listened for a heartbeat and heard nothing. My parents nervously waited, knowing the odds were against them with my mom's history and weak health. The doctor came in to attempt to hear the heartbeat. Nothing. He said, "Let's do an ultrasound and see what happened." My mom and dad began to cry, assuming the baby was gone.

The tech put the ultrasound wand to her belly. Their eyes turned to the screen expecting to see a still figure. Instead, they were greeted with a jumping, moving, healthy baby. They exclaimed with joy and shock. The baby was only 8 weeks along, not 12, which explained the undetectable heartbeat.

I remember the rest of the pregnancy as a long spell of bedrest, nausea and never-ending hunger for my mom. The kitchen was continually dirty; one morning the smell of moldy oatmeal sent my dad into a angry frenzy when he couldn't take it anymore. One day in the fifth month I remember going somewhere with my mom. As I clicked my seatbelt in our massive green Mercury, I looked over at her and smiled. I was excited to be out of the house with her. Until then, she had been too sick to leave the house. In the third trimester I remember her reclining in my dad's big blue chair. He treated her like a queen during the pregnancy, taking care to keep the baby safe. We'd take turns sitting next to the chair on our knees with our ear against her belly, trying to hear the heartbeat. I loved seeing her stomach jump methodically when the baby had the hiccups.

February 24th arrived. I got up to go to school and noticed my dad was in the living room. Typically he would've left the house for work already. I walked to the end of the hallway with a question on my face. He said, "We think today might be the day." I shrugged and turned back toward my room thinking, "Yeah right. She's going to be pregnant forever." I really felt that way. A few hours later I was sitting on the gym floor in PE, waiting for my turn in a game. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a familiar person. I turned and looked up to find my best friend's mom. Her plump face was shining with joy as she said robustly, "It's time!!"

The drive to the hospital was surreal. There was road construction on the way and I wanted the car to go faster. My heart raced and my hands were sweaty as we neared the hospital. In the waiting room I saw familiar faces. Church people. Aunts and uncles. Everyone was jittery with excitement. My mom had a c-section because she'd already had two of them. Behind the doors to the operating room, my dad was dressed in scrubs, head to toe. He actually WATCHED the doctor do the surgery. Instead of being terrified to see his wife cut open, he was fascinated. The doctor even showed my mom's organs to my dad!!!! He saw her stomach, liver, etc. He still boasts that he know's her "inside and out." Ew. I hate that story.

We did not know if the baby was a boy or a girl. My mom was given general anesthetic because her epidural didn't take. The only thing she recalls from the surgery was my dad YELLING, "It's a boy, Alice! It's a boy!" For some reason they had assumed it would be a girl. The surprise boy came out healthy. His name: Christopher Milton.

I was the first one taken to see my mom and the baby. I was ushered into a tiny room where I stood beside a bed on wheels. It frightened me to see my mom half asleep, trying to wake up from the anesthetic. Her cheeks shook as she attempted to smile at me. She was trying to ease my fears, I think. At the other end of the room, my dad held up Chistopher, like Simba in the Lion King. His tiny body was wrinkled and he resembled a frog in shape and color. I felt shocked with awe. I finally had a sibling. My parents could now say phrases like, "the kids" and "both of them."


frustration turned to peace

We've had a rough week. Melody has been whiny, needy, and not herself. She tries to be happy, but cannot. I can see her pleasant nature being snuffed out by what I assume is teething symptoms. We've had long nights of crying, running nose and wakefulness. It is so sad to see her unable to get good breaths due to a stopped up nose. If only she's breath through her mouth... The problem is, her fingers are usually inside her mouth while she sleeps.

This morning I am dazed and tired. I am finally drinking my coffee. It sat on the kitchen counter for over a hour, ready with soy milk and sugar in the raw. Now it is room temperature. This would usually bug me, but since it's 79ยบ in our house, cooler coffee is okay.

I could not do anything right with Melody this morning. We finally did her two favorite things: an outdoor walk; then a bath. A few times around the block at 8:30am, and I'm already hot and sticky. I'm ready for fall. She calmed down on the walk and then enjoyed the bathtub, until she tried pulling up to a standing position on the side of the tub. Slippery, hard surfaces plus naked, wet baby are not a good combination. She got frustrated when I pulled her away from the edge. We had a full-on meltdown when I finally took her out of the tub.

All of this wouldn't phase me if it weren't for two things: I'm tired and I have a freelance project due soon. I finally got Melody down for a morning nap. I am hoping she's worn out enough to sleep a few hours. (Please. Please. Please.)

Despite my whining, I still think motherhood isn't as hard as I thought it would be. The crying, snot, slobber, poop, night-time care, pick-up-the-toy-a-million-times game, baby gear in every corner of the house, extra laundry, babyfood sneezes.... I used to worry I'd hate all these things. I'd see moms in restuarants unable to eat their food because of the baby, and I'd involuntarily shiver, wondering how I'd cope when it was my turn. The thing that makes all these things okay is the amount of LOVE I have for Melody. Taking care of her is a pleasure, even when it is in the middle of the night. I get frustrated often, but when I stop and really think about it all, I come to the same conclusion every time. It is a delight to take care of her. On our walk this morning I found myself breathing prayers of thanksgiving for such a gift. I am overwhelmed by the blessing and goodness that has come with our strong Melody.

I did not expect this post to end this way... when I started it I was super frustrated and ready to complain, complain, complain. I feel better now. I have a friend who once said, "Writing is like throwing up. I always feel better afterward." This quote applies to me this morning. (Although I'd choose writing over throwing up any day of the year.)


font hell

I am in font hell. For weeks I've been trying to set up a computer work station at home. (That sounds really dumb.) I have a four year old G4 Powerbook. I love it. I also love designing. What I do not love is computer stuff. I do well with my limited software programs. I learn them well enough to work efficiently. I love key commands and shortcuts. I do not thrive on problem solving.

My latest problems surround the confusing world of fonts. Postscript. Open Type. True Type. Dfont. Unicode. &^#(@! What does these gibberish mean?! Why can't it be simplier? One of the things that is holding me back is I have to use the same exact fonts my vendors use. Even though there are thousands of versions of Caslon out there, I have to use the one and only one they use.

I dream of a day when I have a setup I fully understand. The projects I'm doing are simple, enjoyable, and routine IF I don't run into font hassles, printer problems, operating system glitches, internet woes and unexplainable mishaps. I guess these bumps in the road are what I'm really getting paid for -- I keep telling myself this is a GOOD thing. After all, the only way for me to learn hard stuff is to be forced into it. I will never in a million years say to myself, "Ohh. A computer problem. This is fascinating! Let me see... what is going on here?"


weight watchers and biting

Tonight I went to my first Weight Watchers meeting. I've always considered Weight Watchers to be a good method of weightloss. For a long time I knew it would be my "diet of chioce" if ever I decided to do something like that. It's time.

I was surprised by the large number of people in attendence; there were about fifty people present. The teacher was energetic, informative, and positive. I arrived 10 minutes late and had to squeeze into a row near the front. I felt extremely self consious because compared to the others I am not very big. I was surprised by how much courage it took to simply sit through the meeting. For some reason tears threatened to accumulate throughout the 45 minute gathering. I did not expect this surge of emotion.

I think the points method will help me be aware of mindless eating and empty calories. The first goal is to loose ten percent of one's current weight. That is 16 pounds for me. (I weighed in at 165.) If I loose 16 pounds I'll be at 149, which is close to my ultimate goal of 145. As a nursing mom I am allowed more points. This makes perfect sense, but I find myself resenting the fact that I need to eat more in order to breastfeed. The longer I breastfeed the more I realize how much self sacrifice it requires.

My expectation was to love breastfeeding. Many mothers rant and rave about how awesome it is. Now that Melody has teeth I am tense and nervous the whole time she eats. She bites me about three times a day and it HURTS so much. I yelp a loud "NO" which makes her sad for about half a second. Then she smiles as if to say, "You aren't really mad a me, Mommy... you love me. Remember?" I can't help but gather her tiny body close and smile as if to say back, "Yes. You are right. I love you with all my heart." And that is the reason I keep nursing.



I am realizing that feeling down doesn't necessarily mean I'm depressed. I am terrified of the depression coming back, so when ordinary sadness surfaces, I get scared. The death of my midwife's little girl has effected many people. When I mentioned my heartache to a friend, she said the day the little girl died set the stage for a dark and sad summer. I think she is right.

On a lighter note, I'll update you on Melody. We are still nursing. I received a new batch of domperidone in the mail yesterday. I ordered enough to last for several months. I came close to quitting, but decided to stick it out until she is a year old. To me it is more convenient to formula feed than breastfeed, but I can't deny the joy we share when nursing.

I love the way Melody calms down as soon as we're laying side by side. (We typically nurse laying down.) After she has eaten for awhile she pulls away and looks up at me. Her cheeks are flushed from our combined body heat. She grins with milk-glossed lips and my heart melts. Her eyes are bright with recognition as I talk to her.

Today we had a rough day. She cried a new cry. Shrill. Loud. Demanding. At first I wondered if it was a willful streak annoucing the arrival of a difficult stage. But as the day wore on, she seemed to be disturbed with pain. I cannot not tell if it is teething, growing pains, or stomach trouble. To ease her hard day I gave her two ice cubes worth of homemade peach babyfood. It is her favorite. Other foods she will tolerate are oatmeal, prunes, avocado, carrot, sweet potato and banana. She likes to clamp down onto the rubber spoon with her two tiny teeth. She grins as if it's a trick.


more sadness

I am depressed again. I am still taking my anti-depressant but the past two weeks have been a blur. I do not have an explaination.

I know I'm depressed because I'm apathetic about things that usually matter. I don't care if I quit breastfeeding. The kitchen floor is sticky; I don't mop. I call people to chat thinking it might help. I stare into space instead of making conversation and end up feeling worse. Melody's mild fussiness gets on my nerves. I don't want to go swimming.

I think the sadness began in mid-July when a tragedy occured. One morning at 6:30 I got a call from one of my mom-friends. I immediately knew something was wrong. She told me our midwife's daughter, a five year old, had died the night before. The cause of death: a rare, unexplained reaction to a spider bite.

Our midwife is an amazing woman. She is a strong force of goodwill, kindness, and caregiving in our community. She's a best friend to all her patients. After the last postpartum appointment we're known to go through withdraw because we miss her so much. The news of her daughter's sudden death shocked us all. We immediately began cooking spaghetti, buying flowers, writing cards, praying, etc. Of course none of these things felt like enough. The mother's grief swallowed us because we love her so much.

Since then, I've felt lost and sad.


a fast rundown

A lot has happened in recent weeks.
To summerize:

• I finished a huge freelance project. I feel FREE now. My sister-in-law visited for three weeks in order to help with the baby and the house while I worked. Having her here was spectacular. We got to know each other better than ever before. She was awesome with Melody.

• One of my best friends got married. The wedding was outside on a triple digit day. There were nine bridesmaids and eight groomsmen which made for a large affair. The poor boys melted in their black tuxes under a harsh Arkansas sun. Many friends from college were present. The reunion was fun, although I was awkwardly aware of my excess weight. No one else has had kids yet.

• I had a birthday. I am now one year away from the big 30 mark. Crazy. Chad and I had sushi together for the first time to celebrate. We liked it a lot; my favorite was the crab.

• Construction on our new house has begun. We're building a house in the country. It will be smaller than the one we're currently in. I'm happy about this because right now our meager furniture is swallowed up in this 1700 square feet. The new home will be around 1400. I'm envisioning a more cozy living area.

• I've been trying to spend on solid hour a day cleaning house. I'm excited about this plan. Things are looking more picked up than ever before. I like to do the hour of dirty work in the morning before I shower, if possible. This way I work like a mad woman and don't worry about getting grimmy.

• Melody is 7 months now and has two teeth. She sits up like a champ and loves to say da-da-da and ah-ba-ba. She weighs 14 lbs, 9 oz and is 26 inches long. I am having a blast with her.

Other very significant things have transpired during my blogging laspe. I am not able to list them in a piddly summary. I hope to expound, ask questions, and seek thoughts on the subjects soon.


dreams vs reality

This morning Melody and I woke up early. I was tired and groggy. She is teething and our nights have been rougher than usual. I turned to see the clock. 6:23. We got out of bed (she slept with me last night) and she was singing her morning song. She is happiest in the mornings. I changed her diaper and put on my knee length Gap camouflage shorts. They belong to Chad, but I recently discovered they fit me! It was great to know I can wear some of his clothes again. We used to switch and trade clothes all the time. My 55 lb pregnancy weight gain changed that fact.

I put Melody in the backpack and leashed the dog. He was sleepy and excited at the same time. I don't think he'd ever been for a walk that early. The air outside wasn't as refreshing as I hoped. The Arkansas July air remained humid despite the early hour. It was quiet and still though. Morning has always been my favorite time of day, but I usually am too lazy to do anything about it.

We walked for thirty minutes. Many cars exited the neighborhood during this time. The passengers appeared to be on their way to work. Each passing car reinforced my thankfulness to be at home with Meldoy instead of working fulltime. I feel so lucky. Our morning walk was a dream come true.

Lately I've reaized something new: I am a dreamer.

I always have an ideal picture in my head of what the future holds. In this picture there are steady things that do not change. The house is clean and extremely organized. Our bills are neatly filed. I am skinny. Unique decorations adorn each wall. Beds are made. Meals are planned and healthy. I exercise regularly and feel strong.

When we were in the process of buying our current house I held these high dreams. Now, three years later, a couple walls have decor that is pleasing to my eye. The bills are paid on time, but a file pile is approaching one foot tall in the spare bedroom. I am slowly loosing weight but the idea of being skinny again feels like a far away thing. The beds are made about 40% of the time.

Now we are in the process of builing a house in the country. I find myself dreaming again. Paint colors from Restoration Hardware, high gloss cabinets, cedar trim, flower boxes, dreamy patio.... I lay awake at night pondering what each room will look like. Lately I've been realizing that the new house will still have a file pile, struggling plants, and makeshift furniture.

Does everyone have this dilemma? If so, how do we jump out of it and make our dreams reality?


a song for my honey

I've felt kinda bad since I posted the last entry about my husband. It was very late when I wrote it. I had been working hard for several hours in a row and was slap-stick-silly. I railed on him pretty hard. He took it in good humor, like usual. He's the optimist in the relationship. I'm the skeptic, known to say, "That's a conspiracy!" more than once on any give day.

Tomorrow I leave for Atlanta for six days, to visit my childhood best friend. We both have baby girls; six weeks apart in age. I'm super excited about the break and am so thankful that Chad is supportive of the trip even though he'll be home alone for almost a week. I've been thinking about him as I pack tonight. (We have to leave the house for the airport in 7 short hours. I'm still packing.) He and Melody are asleep.

There is a song by Coldplay that I love. It's called Green Eyes and it makes me think of Chad every time I listen to it. I've been listening to it a lot lately. Here are the lyrics:

Honey you are the rock
Upon which I stand
And I came here to talk
I hope you understand
Green eyes
Yeah the spotlight shines upon you
And how could anybody deny you
I came here with a load
And it feels so much lighter
Than when I met you
And honey you should know
That I could never go on without you
Green eyes
Honey you are the sea
Upon which I float
And I came here to talk
I think you should know
Green eyes
You are the one that I wanted find
And anyone who tried to deny you
Must be out of their mind
Cause I came here with a load
And it feels so much lighter
Since I met you
Honey you should know
That I could never go on without you
Green eyes
Green eyes
Honey you are the rock
Upon which I stand


my husband, the sentimental handyman

Lately I have been busy working on some freelance projects for the design company where I used to work. I have a makeshift work area at home in our spare room. My laptop sits on a "Lovefeast Table." (I call it this because when I was a kid our churh had a Lovefeast, ie: Potluck, once a month. Food was piled onto long rectangular tables with fake wood grain tops.) The table is too high for my stationery chair so I've become accustom to typing and mousing with my arms stretched out straight in front of me.

Behind my work area is a full size bed with a twin comforter. Next to that is a wooden bookshelf that Chad made out of scrap 1x4s. He gave it to me as a present my first birthday after we got married. I was sorely disappointed, but he was so proud of the sturdy thing that I didn't show it. Just the other night it came out that I wasn't thrilled to receive the bookshelf as a gift. His face fell and he said like a hurt little boy, "What's wrong with my bookself?!"

My reply, "No, no, no! It's great, just not what I wanting to put in our living room as a newlywed, or what I wanted to get as a birthday present. You did a good job though...." (pat, pat, stroke, stroke)

Chad also made the frame for our bed. We have a TemperPedic mattress (which we LOVE) and it does not need a box spring. Instead it is made to lay on a flat, sturdy surface. We could (should) have bought a box with the mattress to serve this purpose. The box was $200, and Chad decided he would make one instead.

For a year and a half our mattress sat on the floor. No one would have guessed we'd spent over $1000 on our amazing mattress. After awhile I began moaning and groaning about getting up off the floor every morning. We went to Lowes and spent $100 on materials for a homemade frame. Chad used huge 4x4 boards for the posts and partical board for the platform. All the wood remained unfinished. The bed ended up being about 4 feet above the ground. (I'm not kidding.) First we couldn't get up out of bed and then we couldn't get onto the bed! Once again, the construction was sturdy and practical.... but not so pretty.

My dreams of a Martha Stewart home have long flown out the window. That happened one weekend during our engagement when we drove my dad's work van to Chad's home to load up his stuff. We hauled back a king size waterbed (the old nasty 80s kind), assorted swords, hachets, blowguns and a lava lamp. Desperately trying not to be the nagging sort, I nervously chewed my lip the whole 9 hour drive home. Where would be put all his crap? We were to live in a tiny campus duplex so it was not possible to give him the basement for his stuff. I tried to brainstorm ways to creatively make our first home cool, unique and tasteful. My two drawbacks were lack of funds and Chad's awful stuff. He is the sentimental kind, so getting rid of the stuff was not an option. (It was hard enough to convince him that he didn't need every single picture and letter from his high school girl friend -- but that's for another post.)

Almost five years has passed since that long ride from Illinois to Arkansas. I do not have the home of my dreams, but I don't mind so much. There is warmth, fun, laughter, and happiness within these walls. I'm choosing to make these things the important ones, instead of matching furniture, expensive things, and the right color scheme. Maybe someday I'll have the best of both worlds, but for now I'm doing alright.


sweetest moments together

This morning I received an email from a friend. She asked me to tell her of some of my sweetest moments with Melody. As I pondered this thought, I came up with a few awesome memories from recent months since she's been born.

• A few hours after she was born we took a bath together. We stared at each other in dim candlelight and started to fall in love.

• At night I would lay on my back and put her on my chest, tummy down. Her tiny body was so light, I could barely feel it. But somehow her little body kept me warm. She would sleep there for hours while we listened to each other breathe.

• From day one I've loved dressing her. If she gets slobber on a onsie I happily change her into another outfit. Fortunately, she does not mind being changed.

• Watching my baby interact with her daddy is amazing. They create this beautiful picture when they're together; the two things that I love the most in this world. Seeing them together is overwhelming and wonderful.

• Watching her roll over for the first time brought excitement and joy that surprised me. I did not know milestones like these would be so precious. After she rolled over, I was happy all day. I told everyone, "She is rolling over now!" It as a declaration. Her new nickname was Rolly Polly.

• Another special thing was when I could tell that she knew me. She would light up when I approached her. She would calm down when I took her from someone else's arms. She looked for my voice.

• Nicknames have always been fun. Some of the most popular are: Sweetcake, Buttercup, Babydoll, Miss Melody, Lovey Dovey, Sweet Pea...

...okay, I'll stop before someone throws up. All that to say, it's been an awesome journey so far.


addicted to lyle

Does anyone else like Lyle Lovett?

Lately I've been addicted to his music. I've listened to Cowboy Man everyday this week. I love his simple lyrics about rodeo life and lost loves. I'm not into country music. To me, his stuff is in another category. It's easy to listen to. Soothing to my soul, somehow. People are still shocked that he was married to Julia Roberts. I understand that he's not the most attractive guy around, but listening to him sing makes me wonder if that's how she fell for him.

If you were to wake up
And I were beside you
Would you gently smile
And whisper my name?

I like cream in my coffe
And I hate to be alone on Sunday
Nobody knows me like my baby
Nobody holds me like my baby

Shoot. If someone sang that way to me, I'd marry him.


the year of the overalls

A few posts back I talked about being fat. I did not think it would take me so long to loose my pregnancy weight. Many people have a saying, "Nine months on. Nine months off." I can recall even saying this very thing to others after they had their baby. Even though I spouted this advice, I didn't think it would apply to ME.

When I see a mom with a baby, I usually take note of her body. If she is thin I think things like,
"Maybe she has a trainer."
"Maybe she is the nanny, not the mom."
"Maybe she's just lucky."
"Maybe she works her butt off at the gym everyday."

I'm a tall girl. Without shoes, I'm 5' 9". I've been thin all my life. Before the pregnancy I weighted 150 lbs. Of course I wanted to be lighter by 10 or so pounds, but all in all, I was happy with the way I looked. I wore baggy clothes most of the time. Mens jeans, loose sweatshirts, baggy cargos, etc. Wearing things oversized made me feel comfy and wispy somehow. Occasionally I'd wear fitted jeans when Chad and I went on a date. Those times I felt sexy, but uncomfortable. Thankfully, he doesn't care what I wear. He rarely notices if I change something, so I stick with what's comfortable.

I gained 55 pounds during the pregnancy, topping out at 207. (!!!!) It felt strange to be over 200 pounds. At the end of the pregnancy I felt beauitful though. Everything was so round, which was pretty much the complete opposite of my usual body. Even my legs were round! I felt good. After Melody was born, I didn't feel good about the roundness anymore. I wanted it to be gone. I wanted to be one of those skinny moms. I didn't mind being a big pregnany person, but I did not like being a big non-pregnant person.

Melody is five and a half months now. I'm weighing in at 167 these days. I am finally starting to see the old Rebekah behind the round remnants of Pregnant Rebekah. I am thrilled to see her again. In the meantime I've been wearing massive Old Navy denim overalls everyday. I switch the shirts which brings a little variety, but the overalls are a constant. They hide my stomach and butt. These the two areas are the last to return to Normal Rebekah status. Sometimes I stare at my skinny wrist and long for the rest of my body to follow suit.

When I told a friend I thought 2005 was going to be my Fat Year, she corrected me and said, "No. It is simply going to be your Overalls Year." She was right. I doubt I'll quit wearing them until I'm 150 again. Then they will return to the back of my closet and wait for the next post pregnancy year. Next time a friend talks to me about her post pregnancy weight, I promise not to say, "You know what they say! Nine months on. Nine months off."


a song that fits

Those of you who have been reading my blog for awhile know I desperately wanted a baby for a long time. There were many days of longing and tears of wanting before God brought Melody into my life. Now each day I breath words of thanksgiving as I hold her close, see her smile and hear her laugh.

(It is similar to my first year of college. I had finally found "my place." Each day I woke up with a song in my heart and a smile on my face, because of the drastic difference from the previous year at a rural high school where football and trucks were the main things. But I digress...)

There is a song that tells the story of Melody. It is by Waterdeep. We sing it in church from time to time. I seldom make it to the end of the song without tears streaming down my cheeks. Before Melody, I cried because I wanted her so much. Now that she's here, I cry for thanksgiving and awe. The words go:

You are so good to me
You heal my broken heart
You are my Father in heaven

They are simple but powerful. Another neat thing about the song is the bridge. It contains Melody's name, which seems fitting.

You are my strong melody
You are my dancing rhythm
You are my perfect song
And I want to sing forever

I want to make a something to hang on her wall that says,
"You are my strong Melody."

She has changed my life so much, and she is only five months old. I cannot imagine how I'll feel in the years to come as she continues to grow up.



I really admire the many moms out there who persevere through trials of breastfeeding. It is admirable to beat the odds of infections, depression, medication, low milk supply, and other factors. When these things occur, the simple act of feeding our babies from our own bodies becomes a threatened privilage. There are many reason why I want to continue breastfeeding Melody. One of them is the following question:

"If I quit breastfeeding, will my friends still like me?"

There. I said it.

Over the past few months I've become well aquainted with four moms. We all breastfeed. My main reason for wanting to keep nursing is Melody's well-being. The number two reason is close behind -- I want to continue having it in common with my friends. It is a central topic and activity during our times together. I am sad and nervous about loosing this connection. I know people say things like, "If they don't like you because you stop breastfeeding, then they weren't true friends to begin with." Though true, statements like this do not make it easier.

If I stop will they say it's cool, but then talk about me when I'm not there? Why am I insecure about this? Breastfeeding was always a no-brainer for me. Of course I'd do it; it's the best option. Now that I'm faced with a low milk supply, I am dealing with questions I didn't foresee coming my way. I never realized this topic would lead to issues of acceptance, loyalty, fear and possible isolation.


my biggest problem

Pumping is hard!!! For the past five days I've been pumping breastmilk in order to increase my milk supply. I try to pump every two hours, but sometimes four or five hours quickly pass before I find my way to the pump again. I'm using an expensive Medela hospital grade pump. It's a great machine, but that doesn't make it fun. I am not able to pump "hands free" yet so the whole time I am unable to do anything else. I also have not found a comfortable position. I sit tall and slightly forward in order to the milk to fall into the bottles. Also, I tend to watch the milk the whole time which means my head is tilted down, resulting in neck and upper back pains.

This morning I had a breakdown. The tears began falling shortly after 7:00am as I sat hooked up to the pump waiting, waiting waiting for milk to fall. Twenty minutes later I still didn't have one drop of milk yet. Sitting on the center cushion of our old orange couch I began to cry. I felt hopeless. "When is my milk supply going to return?," I thought forlornly.

Around me the house was a disaster. Every single room, including the hallways were lined with items that didn't belong. Bills were waiting to be paid, toilets were disgusting, etc , etc, etc. Chad came into the room to put his shoes on for work. He sat and looked at me with concern. "What's wrong?"

"I don't know why I'm so upset. I'm so overwhelmed." I replied.

"How can I help you?"

"I don't know."

He hugged me and sat silent for awhile. Then left for work. Less than two minutes passed before Laura let herself in through the garage. She came and sat by me. I spilled my guts. "I'm so overwhelmed with pumping, the house, the baby, and work." She immeidately sprang into action. She cleaned the bathrooms and the kitchen. She bathed, fed, and held Melody. She did four loads of laundry. She hung all my clothes up that were piled on the floor. In the meantime I walked around the house with a foggy brain. I emailed a mom-friend and told her about my hard morning. She called me less than a hour later to talk. She assured me that I'm doing a good job and that things will be easier soon. She made me feel so much better.

After that I found Laura in Melody's bedroom, sorting through a pile of random stuff on the floor. I sat on the unmade bed and sighed. "I'm so glad you're here. I don't think I could let anyone else -- besides my mom and mom-in-law -- clean our gross toilets." She smiled and said, "Kotter, keeping this house going is a HUGE job. You shouldn't attempt to do it alone." (She calls me Kotter which is my maiden name. I think it's a cute option for a baby boy someday?) Hearing those words from here was such a breath of fresh air. I know she is right.

I am a strong and capable individual. I'm fairly organized and on-top-of-things. I am very guilty of taking over and doing everything myself because that seems easier than delegating and teaching others to help me. Chad has always been willing to help with house work, but 90% if the time I just do it myself. When I get sick or a crisis happens (ie: breastfeeding problems), things fall apart quickly. I hate that everything depends on me, but I recognize that I've made it this way.

Does anyone else struggle with these problems? How can Chad and I come up with a plan so that we both participate in running this house? How do others clean their houses? Do you do it every Saturday morning or a little bit each day? Do you nag each other? Do you fight about it? I don't want to nag or fight. This is one of the first times in our 4+ years of marriage to have a communication barrier. I'm just not sure where to start in order to change this pattern. Help, anyone?


my days lately

Life has been interesting lately. I will bullet point the recent developments:

• Depression.
I am feeling better!! I started taking an antidepressant three weeks ago. I began feeling like myself about a week ago. I realized I felt better one afternoon as I became aware that I wasn't thinking about being depressed. It is such an underlying thing. It effects everything and yet it's so easy to ignore. I have minimal side effects from the drug, which is a relief. I am glad I took the leap into the antidepressant world that I feared for so long.

• Breastfeeding.
Last week it came to my knowledge that Melody wasn't getting enough milk. She was not pooping / peeing enough, had barely gained any weight, and was increasingly frustrated while nursing. She was also sucking on her fingers all the time. (And I mean ALL THE TIME.) I was not concerned for a long time because she is such a happy baby. She smiles, laughs, coos, sleeps well, etc. I became alarmed when I gave her a bath and noticed her little ribs poking out. I visited with my Le Leche League leader (too many L's) and she watched Melody nurse. She said Melody was sucking-sucking-sucking, but not swallowing. Poor baby!!

• Social.
Since this breastfeeding wall occurred I've had an amazing support network. One mom gave me her expensive Medela pump. Another offered her pumped breastmilk for supplementing. Each day someone has called to check on me. Then Ellen gave me bags and bags of her pumped frozen milk. My mom has been my biggest cheerleader, offering tons of moral and emotional support. I am overwhelmed and grateful.

• Schedule.
I've been trying to pump every two hours for the past few days. I am suppose to give Melody about 30 ounces a day. I'm only getting about 15 ounces from pumping. She drinks my pumped milk from a bottle and then I supplement the rest with Ellen's milk. In the past four days she has stopped sucking her fingers all the time and has developed dimples in her knees. Also, her ribs are covered up with a big belly!! She is heavier too. Today I took her to the doctor office and she weighed in at 11 lbs / 5 oz. I have a feeling she'll gain quickly for awhile as she catches up. I still nurse her to sleep and a few times thoughout the day.

• Freelance.
A few weeks ago I aquired a few freelance design projects. I committed myself to a hefty amount of work. The deadlines do not begin to roll in until June, which is approaching with speed. I began the projects, but put everything on the back burner when the breastfeeding problems surfaced. Now I'm stressed out about the work and have decided to forego my precious Friday Mom Get Together tomorrow morning. I'm sad to miss it, but I won't enjoy it if the projects are weighing on me.

So that's pretty much everything for now. I hope to blog more often. I always say that.


questions & answers

Since Melody was born I've made a new group of friends. We met through various ways and all have babies. We all stay at home. We all have sought information and knowledge about unmedicated childbirth. As we hang out we compare birth stories. Half of us had our babies at home; the other half in hospitals. All of us attempted to do it without medication. All of us were changed because of our experience. We get together on Friday mornings. We schedule these times to be from 10 to noon, but usually we end up going out to lunch together and hanging out until 2 or 3 in the afternoon. We talk about our birth stories a lot and ask questions like:

Would you do it again?
Who was at your birth?
What would you do differently?
What surprised you about your birth?
What was the first thing you felt / thought after your baby was born?

I will answer these questions about Melody's birth.

• Would I do it again? I do not know. Making the decision to have an unmedicated birth was a long process. Deciding to have a homebirth was an even longer process. It required lots of time, thinking, talking, and praying. Chad and I will have to go through a similar process again the next time we are pregnant. Lord willing.

• Who was at my birth? My husband, Chad. My midwife. And my childbirth instructor / doula.

• What would I do differently? This is probably the hardest question for me to answer. I am still unsure of the entire answer. One of the negative things about my birth is that I was "performing" for my instructor / doula. I was trying to do everything the "right" way so that she would think highly of me. I wanted to be her star student. I was not aware of these things until recently. Because of this realization I would probably opt for my instructor / doula to not be present. I might have my mom there the next time.

• What surprised me about my birth? The pain. I don't think there is any way to prepare oneself for the intense pain of childbirth. I watched many videos, read books, talked to other moms. I exercised and ate 80 to 100 grams of protein everyday. I felt so prepared. I thought my preparation would pave the way for an "easy" labor. This wasn't the case. The contractions were the most intense thing I've ever come close to experiencing. It is amazing how powerful they are. I couldn't believe it. I'm still dumbfounded by the power and instensity of those contractions. Another thing that surprised me was my lack of emotion when Melody was put on my chest immediately after being born.

• What was the first thing I felt / thought after my baby was born? Relief. Relief. RELIEF. The only thing I felt was relief. I had no joy and no tears. My body shook as I held her in my sweaty arms. She looked up at me with alert eyes. She had a scared look on her face. Soon I smiled and exclaimed over her, but the only immediate response was relief.


little melody & a big decision

Melody is four months now. I can't believe how quickly she is growing. She is small for her age -- in the 10th percentile. She's not the baby imagined myself having. All the babes in my family are bald, fair, and big. She has dark hair and golden skin like her daddy. And she's little. She weighs around 11 pounds. All the babies we hang out with are big and chunky. She is dainty and lean. For awhile I was concerned about her size. I began waking her up in the middle of the night to feed her. This resulted in a tired mommy and a cranky baby. I realized that she is doing great despite her small size. She is alert, content, smiley, and happy 85% of the time. She eats often during the day. I know she's getting hindmilk because she often eats for 45 minutes to a hour on one side. Chad's side of the family has smaller people so I guess she's taking after her daddy in more ways than one.

Even though she's not the baby I imagined, she is perfect. She and I get more attached everyday. She recognizes my voice and often calms down at the sound of my words. She smiles brightly when she finds me in a room full of people. I love dressing her, changing her, bathing her, feeding her, talking to her and dancing around the house with her in my arms.

Despite all these wonderful moments, I'm still struggling with depression. I still cry on a regular basis for no reason. The tears just fall and fall and fall. I feel down even when the weather is sunny and clear. I wander around the house unsure of what to do with myself. I try to muster motivation to plant flowers, bake pumpkin bread, and finish decorating the baby's room. These things remain undone. I watch Dawson's Creek reruns instead, even though every single charater on the show thoroughly annoys me. Spending time with people helps a little. It serves as a distraction from the way I feel. A recent bout with mastitis brought the realization that with physical pain came relief from the mental and emotional pain. I almost welcomed the fever, chills, and achiness because it gave me a break from feeling sad.

I finally gave up trying the natural supplements, teas, and progesterone cream. It's been four months. They weren't working. I went to the doctor. He was wonderful. He said, "It is very common for women who stop working full time to stay home to be depressed. It's a huge change. Also, are you dealing with any trauma related to your birth experience?" Ding! Ding! Ding! I guess I'm not crazy after all. Each time someone tells me that what I'm dealing with is normal I feel so much better.

I started taking the anti-depressant Wellbutrin two days ago. The generic perscription was $92 for a one months supply. I was shocked at the price. I've never taken a drug on a regular basis -- not even the pill. I'm trying to be postive about this decision. My mom told me to try to think of Wellbutrin as "my friend." That made me laugh, but maybe she's right. If I cringe everytime I think of it, it probably won't work as well. Deep down I know I've made the right decision. I do not want to remember Melody's first year as a cloudy depressing time.


days gone by

This morning I got up with Chad. I made french toast and Columbian coffee. The french toast turned out soggy. We ate it anyway, avoiding the middle. Sitting at the table together in the quiet morning reminded me of our newly wed days.

Chad was still in college when we got married so we lived in the married student housing on campus. Everyone complained hugely about the accomodations. The 35 year old duplexes were made of grey cinderblock. The rooms joining them were the master bedroom and bathroom. (!) Not a good thing when two newly married couples are the residents. Not to mention, we already knew the neighbors. Ick. The bathroom was so tiny that it was nearly impossible for two people to brush their teeth at the same time. The kitchen was also small. The fridge and oven could not be open at the same time for lack of space.

Despite all the maladies, I loved living there. We had a bizarre little patio at the front of our spot. A red chain link fence seperated our cracked patio from the road that led to a rundown dog kennel. We set up a hammock and outdoor chairs. We ate our first suppers as a married couple on that patio. The duplex also had large windows from the 1960s. They surrounded the eating area and living room. We would open all of them and let the breeze overtake the rooms. Wind chimes, which had been a wedding gift, sang loudly. It felt like a beach house to me. I loved it.

I recall getting up early one morning. I made breakfast and had extra time. I cut a fresh pineapple into shapes making the words, "I love you." I arranged them on a cobalt blue plate just in time for Chad to walk into the kitchen. His hair was wet from his shower and he smelled good, like soap. I proudly presented the work of art to him. He smiled, ate the pineapple, and with a mouth full said, "I love you too, baby." This morning eating soggy french toast reminded me of those early married days. We now live in a neighborhood with sidewalks and sod. Our bathroom has two sinks -- one for each of us! We've come a long way in four fast years. My memories of Married Student Housing put a smile on my face. I loved those first five months of our marriage.


falling in love

This week I am realizing something. I'm falling in love with Melody. I have loved her since I found out I was pregnant last spring. I loved her the moment she was born on December 22. But as she grows I find myself getting more attached to her each day. In the first few weeks of her little life I had no problem leaving her with my mom for a hour. Now it is gettting more difficult. Yesterday my mom watched Melody while I went to the gym and the grocery store. A few weeks ago I would have flown out of the house without a second thought. Yesterday I was different. I kissed her smooth face several times before tearing myself away. Once at the gym I enjoyed the time away, but getting there wasn't easy.

Melody has begun talking to us. She makes cooing sounds and laughs when we talk to her. She falls asleep in my arms. Her little mouth hangs open as her body is limp with relaxation. I love it. When she is awake her eyes are full of expression. Her tiny eyebrows raise with suprise at sound and movement.

I have lunch plans with one of my new mom friends today. I'm looking forward to it. We've recently discovered our birth experiences have similarities. I'm excited to exchange these things with each other. This week I feel less sad and a little more normal. What ever that means.


saturday breakfast

The air smelled of cigarettes and breakfast grease as we entered the familiar diner. My damp hair was pulled back into a low ponytail. I wore smooth shimmery purple Burts Bees lipgloss. As Chad and I slid into a brown booth, I eyed the bowl of creamers and thought, "We're going to need more than that."

Eating breakfast out on the weekend is a tradition for us. Since Melody's arrival we've avoided our favorite diner due to the smokey environment. This mornng we left her with the grandmas (both are visiting) and relived our tradition of sharing a waffle, hashbrowns, and a spanish omelet.

It was easy to fall back into the groove of just us. We talked, observed, remembered, dreamed and hung out. We drove home with full stomachs and the windows down. It felt good.


morning dreams

The days since talking to Jennifer have been better. I have smiled and laughed without trying. It's nice. I'm slowly processing things. I think the sadness was not so much post partum depression as trauma related to my birth experience. I'm getting closer to understanding as I write, talk and think about it. Today I had lunch with our childbirth teacher / doula. I went to the restaurant nervous with prayers under my breath. I didn't want to offend, but I had questions. It turned out to be a profitable hour of honesty and truth. I'm getting closer. As I figure things out, I feel lighter.

This week I've spent good time with my sister-in-law, Chelsea. She's 23 and is experiencing God for the first time in her life. She is addicted to her bible and reads it throughout the day. When she doesn't understand something she reads it aloud and inquires of it's meaning. The other day we ended up with four different translations open on the dining room table as we tried to figure out a parable in Luke. Her new interest in the bible is contagious. It's been ages since I wanted to open my bible. Instead I usually go to my hymnal. The words of the old songs capture my heart when verses are familiar and stale. Today I went to Proverbs 31 and slowly read the verses, trying to soak them in. I even used some cross references. It was nice.

Before Melody was born I daydreamed of being a mother who spent early morning times with God. I pictured of myself drinking coffee, reading, pondering and praying in a dimly lit breakfast area before the others were awake. This idea is appealing and I want to figure out a way to make it happen.


sunny day

Yesterday I hit a new low. I was driving alone, coming home from Walmart. I reached for my cell phone to call Jennifer, my midwife. Ring, ring, ring. No answer. I hung up and began to cry. Seconds later the phone rang and it was her. I tried to say hello in a chipper tone, through the tears. Why do I do that? Jennifer's calm voice asked if I'd like to come see her. It was the question I wanted to hear.

Three hours later I was in her home office; a bedroom/bathroom on the first floor of her 100 year old home in Fayetteville. The bedroom windows were up, and the simple sheet curtians billowed every few seconds. I sat in an oversized rocker and attempted to smile. I began talking. The conversation lasted a hour and a half even though she had a pregnant patient waiting in the living room for the last thirty minutes. I asked a lot of questions about my birth.

Are all births as intense and painful as mine?
What was I like in the midst of it?
How do women decide to have another unmedicated birth after such a traumatizing experience? (She has done it three times.)

She mainly listened to me, cried a little herself, told me her own stories, and gave me hope. I am still not ready to blog the whole birth story, but I can say that I feel I was tricked. I read many natural birth stories that gave me the impression that if I did the right exercises, ate the right foods, prepared with Chad, breathed enough, and had positive thoughts, my labor would be easy. This was not the case. It was hard. It hurt a lot. I thought my legs were going to twist off during the second stage contractions. I was NOT able to relax like I thought I "should" be. The first tme I held Melody I felt no joy or miracle. I only felt intense relief. The biggest relief I've ever known. It was over. That is all I cared about. These feelings blind-sided me. What happened to the "beautiful experience" I had heard and read so much about? Where were the wonderful feelings? In the following week I'd look at Melody's head and cry at the memory of pushing her out. People would say, "She is so little!" and I would think, "You are crazy. She is HUGE."

Yesterday Jennifer helped me understand that my experience and feelings are common and normal. She said only 3 births out of the 170 she has delivered have been "easy" for the mother. Hearing these things makes me feel like the books I read and the lessons I was taught were largely propaganda. How dare they tell me it was going to be easy!!

Another thing we talked about was my weight and my body. I have been tall and thin my whole life. I gained 55 pounds during the pregnancy and am still 25 pounds above the pre-pregnancy weight. I've only lost 10 pounds in the past 10 weeks! Jennifer didn't give me answers about the weight-loss. She did something better. She told me I was beautiful right now. I drove to her house thinking 2005 was going to be my "fat year." I left her house feeling GOOD about the way I looked!! The belly pooch, the round butt, the gimormous boobs.... it didn't bother me anymore. Instead I held my head high and told myself, "You just had a baby and you are a beautiful mommy."

I feel lighter today than I have in two weeks.


another week

I floated through another weekend feeling odd.

My 18-year-old sister-in-law visited from Illinois. She's quiet, helpful, observant, perceptive, intuitive, and honest. I have always enjoyed her company. She loves babies and is wonderful with Melody. She's a natural. For some reason, each time she visits us I flip out. Last time she was here I was pregnant. I ended up bursting into tears at the grocery store when Chad asked me what we were having for supper. Then yesterday I lost it again in the car. I was in the backseat with Melody. She was screaming her tiny head off and driving me crazy. I ended up in tears as well. I barked at Chad, "Can you drive faster?"

I wonder what my sis-in-law thinks when I break down?

When I was younger I was hard on others. I thought I had life figured out. One of my good friends got married 4 years before me. I was inwardly critical of the way she and her husband interacted. Now I'm married and I realize their behavior wasn't that big of a deal. It was normal; unlike the utopian view of marriage I possessed at the time.

This week my mother-in-law and other sis-in-law will be here. I am at a loss. Do I tell them I'm depressed? Or do I act like nothing is the matter? I'm sure they'll notice before the five days is up. How do others deal with depression and family members?


the plan

Today was better. My mom was here again. This morning she watched the baby and I went to the gym. I did 35 minutes of cardio, some stretching, and light arm weights. It felt so good to get out of the house and focus on working hard. After that mom, Melody and I ate lunch today at a small local Italian cafe. We talked about the depression. She says she can see it in my eyes. In the course of the conversation Melody's birth was mentioned. The topic brought instant tears to my eyes. I haven't blogged about the labor/delivery yet. I'll save that for another day. For now I'll just say I feel traumatized by the experience.

After lunch mom and I parted and I spent time in Fayetteville. It is the neighboring city; about 20 minutes from our house. I love Fayetteville. It has hills, history, artistic buildings, local restaurants, interesting people, lots of trees, great coffee, and nice parks. I went to my favorite coffee shop, Arsagas. It was Melody's first time there. I held her on my lap while I drank a decaf, skim mocha and journaled about the past few days. It felt good to write.

I recalled spending time in the same coffee shop five years ago. I lived and worked in Fayetteville at that point. Most mornings I'd stop in for coffee. I was single at the time. I'd watch the other career people and observe their lives. Working moms would often come in with their preschoolers. The kids would be blurry eyes at the pre-eight-o'clock hour. The moms would say, "Do you want a scone or a muffin today?" The kids could never eat a fourth of the huge bakery items. They were probably wishing for Trix or Lucky Charms instead.

Chad and I have a plan. We decided we're both eating too much sugar these days. We decided we'll eat one serving of sugar (ie: dessert and cokes) for each two times we exercise. The past two days have been difficult as I was eating chocolate and other sweets every day before. I am hoping the plan will motivate me to exercise as well as help me loose weight. I am still 30+ pounds above my pre-pregnancy number. I also hope a smaller intake of sugar will result in feeling better emotionally and physcially.

In the meantime I will try to go to my favorite places in Fayetteville more often.