baby anncouncement

We had the baby! Most of you already know already... two weeks and one day ago, on November 11, Leah Sage Mathis was born!!! I've meant to blog about it for two weeks, but you know how it goes.

She weighed 8 pounds and 5 ounces and was 21 inches long. Leah's birth was completely different from Melody's birth. The labor was longer in total, but the end was super fast. I will write the entire birth story in the future, but for now here are a few tidbits:

• Leah was born at 3:53 in the morning.
• I felt the urge to push this time.
• She was born in the water (bathtub).
• The midwives arrived 45 minutes before she was born.
• Chad and I had a sweet bonding experience during this birth.
• I coped very differently this time.
• I needed 4 stitches after the birth, as opposed to 14 after Melody.

Leah is doing awesome. She is nursing like a pro and has a very loud cry. She looks a little bit like Melody did, but there are many differences. She has my hands and fingers. She has a little cleft in her chin; we don't know where it came from. She has a very calm demeanor when she is awake. She moves her head around slowly, taking in her surroundings one thing at a time. Night time varies greatly. She's been known to sleep for 7 hours already, with no intentions of waking up to eat. Other nights we are up often, eating around the clock.

I'm feeling pretty good. I've recovered more quickly this time. The first week I stayed in bed almost all the time. The second week I took it easy on the couch, watching movies and shows while people brought me water every time we nursed. Chad and my mom as well as his family have taken wonderful care of me. Chad's mom and sister are scheduled to be her for two more weeks! I feel like by the time they leave, I'll have a handle on things well enough to not freak out. Maybe. All in all, we're doing very well... feeling happy and blessed with our family of four.

baby anncouncement

We had the baby! Most of you already know already... two weeks and one day ago, on November 11, Leah Sage Mathis was born!!! I've meant to blog about it for two weeks, but you know how it goes.

She weighed 8 pounds and 5 ounces and was 21 inches long. Leah's birth was completely different from Melody's birth. The labor was longer in total, but the end was super fast. I will write the entire birth story in the future, but for now here are a few tidbits:

• Leah was born at 3:53 in the morning.
• I felt the urge to push this time.
• She was born in the water (bathtub).
• The midwives arrived 45 minutes before she was born.
• Chad and I had a sweet bonding experience during this birth.
• I coped very differently this time.
• I needed 4 stitches after the birth, as opposed to 14 after Melody.

Leah is doing awesome. She is nursing like a pro and has a very loud cry. She looks a little bit like Melody did, but there are many differences. She has my hands and fingers. She has a little cleft in her chin; we don't know where it came from. She has a very calm demeanor when she is awake. She moves her head around slowly, taking in her surroundings one thing at a time. Night time varies greatly. She's been known to sleep for 7 hours already, with no intentions of waking up to eat. Other nights we are up often, eating around the clock.

I'm feeling pretty good. I've recovered more quickly this time. The first week I stayed in bed almost all the time. The second week I took it easy on the couch, watching movies and shows while people brought me water every time we nursed. Chad and my mom as well as his family have taken wonderful care of me. Chad's mom and sister are scheduled to be her for two more weeks! I feel like by the time they leave, I'll have a handle on things well enough to not freak out. Maybe. All in all, we're doing very well... feeling happy and blessed with our family of four.


breakfasts of late

Lately Chad and I have been eating breakfast together before he leaves for work in the morning. Getting up with him is something I used to do on a regular basis, but the past few months have been different. During pregnancy, I need more sleep, so I used every extra morning minute for dozing.

Now that I'm only two weeks away from my due date, I'm not able to sleep well. By the wee hours of the morning, my cumbersome body is tired of rolling back and forth, looking for a comfortable position. I usually give up, get out of bed, pee for the 5th, 6th, or 7th time that night, and shuffle to the kitchen to start breakfast for us. Another breakfast motivator is my morning appetite. The baby is hungry.

When we got married (almost six years ago), Chad was a fan of sweet things in the morning. He craved cinnamon rolls or anything with syrup. I'm more of a protein/salt type breakfast eater; I prefer omeletes, potatoes, toast, etc. Over the years we've meshed our breakfasts likes. Now, I can appreciate a piping hot cinnamon roll and he can't do breakfast out without a side of crispy hashbrowns. Saturdays have become our special breakfast day of the week. We either go out to eat, or make something worthwhile at home. A couple weeks ago Chad woke up with a sore throat. It was a Saturday morning. When I asked what sounded good to him for breakfast and he replied,

"Oatmeal, toast with honey, and hot tea."

I thought to myself, "What a switch from cinnamon rolls and coffee!" I knew he was really under-the-weather.

I made his requested list and it really hit the spot for both of us. Since that Saturday, we've been having this healthy breakfast almost every morning. I add walnuts, raisins, honey, and milk to the oatmeal. Butter and honey goes on the toast. The hot tea gets honey as well. I guess autumn is the time for honey.

Chad says his day goes better when we eat breakfast together. I enjoy spending time together in the mornings also. Usually Melody is awake by the time he leaves, so he's able to see her for a few minutes. I know everything will change again very soon when the baby arrives. My nights will be long and lonely and I won't have energy in the mornings for family breakfast. It will be a temporary phase (hopefully shorter than longer), and I hope that after awhile we can enjoy breakfast everyday again.


red party high

I woke up early with the rain. I decided to get out of bed and spent some time with Chad instead of laying there awake. We had coffee and banana bread. His eyes were vacant and large with sleepiness, but the time together was good anyway. We shared a small glass of apple juice because the coffee didn't quench our thirst.

As the black truck reved up for his drive to work, I stood in the rainy doorway, feeling the breeze and smelling the water. I felt content and full with half a cup of coffee in hand, Melody still sleeping, the day ahead of me.

Mornings like this are so different from the depressed ones. I feel light and easy today.

It's partly a high from a wonderful time with girlfriends last night. We had a Red Party; also called A Blessing Way. It's basically a baby shower, but instead of focusing on the baby, the focus is on the mother. The large-bellied pregnant mama gets treated to TLC with a foot soaking, massage and henna. We tell our birth stories. They are intertwined with tears and laughter. We recount the pain, hardship, joy and newness of birth. We eat fancy food and each of us comes away with a beaded bracelet to wear until the birth of the new baby.

I left the gathering feeling amazed at the group of like-minded, but different, women that God has brought into my life. My sleep was full of dreams of support and babies. My due date is now 10 weeks away. Participating in Laurel's Red Party was a small step toward preparation for my own journey to deliver this baby into the world.


a hairy morning

The morning began with a groggy mama going on 4 hours of sleep. Heartburn and caffeine kept me awake until 3am. I served a lovely leftover pancake to Melody for breakfast and attempted to clean up the kitchen before the termite inspector arrived. He showed up late, eager to chat. We stood in the entry way as he gave me details about the log cabin he's building and the friends he's living with. Yaaawn. Finally, with body language, I eased away from him and he began the flash light inspection.

Later, in an attempt to load the car for an outing of errands, Melody picked up a dead mouse in the driveway. (!) I turned around and looked down just in time to see her little hand expertly wrapped around the dead creature's furry body. I screamed something like, "NO NO NO! Yucky!" She dropped it and I scooped her up. After a hot-water-hand-washing, we returned to the driveway where she prompty yelled, "No No No Yucky!" upon seeing the offending rodent. I had to smile.

My days are full in more ways than one. I pick up thrown objects at least every 5 minutes. Toys, books, sippy cups, food, and everything else that touches Melody's hands. She keeps me busy and tired, as well as very entertained. Her newest word is "Cap!" which is her version of "Crap". It's funny right now, but we're definitely realizing it's time to watch ourselves more closely. My belly is also full. Space for digestive organs decreases as the baby grows. We now have just 10 weeks go to until the due date, which has been confirmed to be Thanksgiving Day.


health food store inspiration

Today I went to the health food store. It’s a relatively new establishment and I enjoy shopping there. I do not frequent it as often as I’d like. It is located 35 minutes from my house, so making a special trip takes planning. (Something I don’t often do.) Making a spur of the moment trip happens even less, because Melody is usually ready to go home after two or three stops.

I like the place because it motivates me. I like browsing the shelves of specialty items. I feel at ease because the products are preservative free and healthier than their mass marketed counterparts. Instead of reading three inch long ingredient lists I skim a much shorter, simpler list. I love it when products only have a few ingredients. Another perk is the packing. Most of the products are designed with attention to detail. There are no Great Value or Sam’s Choice labels screaming at me. (Although I’ve noticed that Walmart is starting to pay more attention to the design of their generic products.)

My favorite part of the health food store is the full service deli. It is a large serve-yourself assortment of foods. Soups, salads, and freshly made hot dishes are lined up in an array of color, texture and smell. Today I bought freshly made tuna and a cup of thick cream of mushroom soup. As I made my soup decision between three wonderful options I compared them to the canned soups in my pantry at home. There is no comparison. The freshly made ones are superior in every way (including price).

Stirring and smelling the soups inspired me. I have no doubt that I could make them myself with the right recipe. The ingredients were simple. I want to shop at the health food store more often, if not just for inspiration. If anyone has a good soup recipe, please share!


how many?

How many kids do I want? This question is in me all the time. I lull it over at least once a day.

When Chad and I got married we thought four was the magic number. He comes from family of four. Boy, girl, boy, girl in perfect staggered order. Holidays and vacations with his family are a blast. Each child is different but alike. Music fills the house at each gathering. Piano, guitar, harmonica, mandolin. Hymns, Johnny Cash, Counting Crows, Dixie Chicks, carols. We eat macaroni, ice cream, pepsi, coke, popcorn, and big meals together.

The harmony of Chad’s siblings makes me want to have a large family of my own. I recently watched The Family Stone. While the plot left me discontent, I enjoyed seeing the dynamics of a large family. Watching the mom cherish each child put a fire in me to have a lot of kids of my own.

The idea of having a family like that in the long term is so appealing. In the meantime I’m not sure how many I can handle. When I think of the pregnancies, the births, breastfeeding, diapers, sleepless nights, car seats, bags of groceries, years of schooling, laundry and 1000 other things having to do with raising a family, I’m unsure of my capabilities. Could I raise 4 kids? Could I do it well?

After I had Melody I was riddled with self-doubt and disbelief. I had wanted to become a mother more than anything in the world, and it was kicking my butt! I did not think I could/would have another baby until she was seven months old. Those first months were harder than I can even remember. I was in a daze most of the time.

I am starting to think the answer to my question might be a one-at-a-time type of thing. When giving birth I have to focus on one contraction at a time. If I think about more I start to loose my mind. When I was approaching transition in Melody’s birth, I looked up at Chad and with panic in my voice said, “How am I going to have the 3rd baby?!” He kindly reminded me to try to focus on the contraction at hand, and nothing more. (He was prepared for me to freak out about more contractions, but not about more births!) He was right. When I focused on the contraction at hand, I could do it. It was horrible, but doable. Maybe the trick with the “How many kids do I want?” question is the same answer. One at a time, baby.


blurry wondering

I went off my antidepressant when I realized I was pregnant. I had no physical side effects as I weaned off the drug. Emotionally, I was already upsidedown due to the news of the surprise pregnancy, so I did not notice a marked change in my disposition.

In the weeks since I've tried to analyze how I'm feeling. I ask myself questions like,
Am I depressed? Do I feel down? Are things hard right now?

The answers to these questions have been positive. I'm not in the dark place I remember from the months following Melody's birth. I do not cry everyday. I do not feel like I'm floating or wandering around the house without purpose or aim. I'm able to smile for real.

But this week I am starting to wonder if there are underlying things going on that might be signaling depression.

I'm unmotivated with work and home.
I'm overly sensitive.
I'm sleeping a lot.
Decision-making is stressful and difficult.

These things combine to make me feel like faliure. I've been chalking them up to the pregnancy, but I'm not sure that's all it. Trying to figure out this subjective stuff is hard. I feel blind to myself. I don't know how to feel or what to think. Where is this confusion coming from?


rainy day at home

It has been raining nonstop for at least for 5 hours. I have the windows open enough to hear the water coming down. I am relaxed today. I love days when I'm happy to be at home. More often than not, I desire to be out and about, busy with other people. But occasionally, a couple times a month, I crave home. One these days I enjoy coffee, dim lights, reading, playing with Melody, cooking, and relaxing. I want to cultivate this home-time more. Any ideas how?


hanging on

The new baby continues to grow inside of me. We are now about 4 months pregnant. The weeks fly by like a train. In the mean time life is busy. We have a friend from college living with us this summer. He and Chad work on the house in all their extra time. We have about four weeks left until the bank deadline, so it is crunch time. I do my part by attempting to keep Melody and myself out of their way. It's been lonely, and I can't wait until July so we can relax and be together again. This is another example of a time of trial bringing out the positive of regular life. I am ready to return to humdrum.

We've been going to church more regularly. I am still amazed at how many babies and pregnant families are at this place. I would feel left out if I were not pregnant! How weird is that? The church meets in an amazing facility for the Boys & Girls Club. There is an indoor pool, climbing wall, soccer fields, playground, etc. Yesterday the congregation had a cookout play time. It lasted until 5pm and was a success. I was exhausted when we got home because I chased Melody for 3 hours straight. (Chad was at home working.) She had a blast in the water, which makes me want to take her swimming everyday.


night time contentment & melody news

I am eleven weeks pregnant now. The baby is the size of a large bouncy ball. I like this mind picture. I can just see him/her bouncing around in my belly. Speaking of, I think I can already feel the baby fluttering around in there. I did not feel Melody move until the 20th week, and by that point it was a definite JAB/KICK. This time around, I'm more aware because I know what it can feel like. I liken it to a butterfly's wing fluttering against the wall of my uterus. That or a carbonated beverage; bubbly and tingly.

Since the past post I've continued to feel better about being pregnant. I am excited about the baby now. It's still not the cloud nine utopia I felt with Melody's pregnancy, but that's okay. I'm not expecting the exact same experience.

During the past week there have been a few nights when my mind is full of blessing and awe. I think of the things to come and a giddy contentment spreads throughout my whole being. It's a new sense of wellbeing that I've not experienced before. Now that I have Melody I know the goodness motherhood brings. Maybe that knowledge is the reason for these night time episodes of mind boggling peace. I think it must be a little bit like being high? The thoughts are not specific. It's more of a state of mind. Thoughts like these float in and out: Four instead of three. Tiny weightless baby sleeping on my chest. Siblings playing together in the bathtub. Breastfeeding again. Chad as a new daddy again.

The wild thing is, these are the same things I freak out about during the day, when my mind is fully functioning. Because of this, I'm thankful for the night time peace that comes at the end of these tiring pregnant days.

Now for an update on Melody...
She had a fever for two days last weekend. It made for two hard nights, one of which daddy helped out. By Sunday we were all zombies. Today she was herself again saying her new words with gusto, "I know!" "Pretty." "Nite-nite." We were at the grocery store and she began growling at me like a bear. I growled back and we gave everyone at the deli a show. During the show, I noticed a huge white mass in her mouth. She has a new molar! It's massive!! It's on the bottom and I assume it was the cause of her fever. I felt relief knowing the fever's cause, and sypmathy for the pain she endured as the tooth broke through. Looking back, there has been more drool and chewing action lately.

Each day her coordination and verbal skills grow. She has a couple long strands of beads that she loves. She puts them around her neck by herself and wears them for hours at a time. At naptime I take them away, to her dismay. Upon waking up, she is always delighted to receive them again.

She is getting more dominant and strong willed each week. When told "no" she takes a long time to ponder the situation. She bends her head low, furrows her brow, and comtemplates the item that is off limits. If distraction does not occur, she'll slowly reach out to touch the offending object again. Folks, we do not have a people-pleaser on our hands.


a good sunday

Today was a better day. In fact, it was one of the best days I've had in a long time. It began with church. Lately we have been apathetic and nonchalant about church. Since we moved we haven't been sure about where to go. Today we returned to a place we've visited about five times before. It's a new church with some growing pains, but we agree with everything they stand for and we like the congregation. One thing about the community there is there are a ton of young families. Pregnant women and babies appear on every row. I had a briefl conversation with a friendly acquaintance. She is also in her second pregnancy. When I told her of my emotional state she nodded and affirmed my feelings completely. Maybe this church is a good place for us right now.

After church we drove to one of our standby breakfast places. Melody napped in the car on the way and was happy the entire meal. The coffee, omelet and hash browns hit the spot. Chad and I got along and were relaxed with each other.

After errands to Walmart and a sporting goods store we spent the afternoon working on the front yard. We worked on the house's first landscaping and planted flowers while Melody took a three hour nap. Working together and being outside was good for my soul. Thoughts of the new baby were light hearted and happy.

I am still unsure of everything, but it was refreshing to have a breakthrough day with my little family.


a new baby

So, we went on a cruise and then I never blogged again. No, the ship did not sink. We returned safely with some color on our skin and a couple extra pounds around our middles. The days turned into weeks, and then a month went by. Happenings piled up. It's been six weeks and there is much to recount for you.

First and foremost -- I'll just say it -- I'm pregnant! Gulp. Yup, we found out on a Sunday night about four weeks ago. I am now ten weeks along. I have weaned off my anti-depressant. So far, so good. Wellbutrin is an easy one to stop taking. I haven't noticed any side effects, except my appetite is larger. It's easy to fixate on food again, which I'm not happy about.

We were not planning this pregnancy. Of course, we didn't plan the one with Melody either. Yes, we know how it works. Deep inside I always figured I was one of those women who would have to work hard at getting pregnant. I assumed Melody was a miracle-fluke-kind-of-thing. I guess I can be referred to as one of the "fertile" ones. I never thought that would be part of my story.

I am still shocked that I'm pregnant again. I have feelings of joy, but the happiness is objective. I feel truly blessed that God is allowing me to become a mother again. I keep telling myself that this is my dream come true. But to be honest, it is an active exercise to feel the goodness of the phenomenon. The things I feel naturally are fear and anxiety. I dread labor. Multiple times a day my mind replays details of the pain of Melody's birth. I close my eyes and shake my head to clear the thoughts. I think about all the options. Homebirth, midwife, hospital, doctor, epidural, risk, health, money, trust, care. It is a windy path that makes me dizzy and brings me to tears. I am at a total loss.

I also fear the newborn stage. I barely survived Melody's first four months and I had optimal circumstances. I had the help of two grandmas, a supportive husband, and a relatively easy newborn baby. (Althought that's the same as saying an "easy labor.") I dread another bought of lonely awake nights. And I have no earthly idea how I'll do it with TWO kids. So many people have their babies two years apart. (Or closer.) Mine will be 23 months apart and I'm falling apart at the thought of it all.

I tell my fears to Chad. He listens and tries to understand, but doesn't know how to make me feel different. I'm beginning to think I need to seek wisdom and words from moms who've been through this maze before me. I'll keep you posted on my progress in figuring out a way to fully embrace this lime-sized baby, which I can already feel fluttering deep inside of me. I want with all my heart to float on cloud nine the way I did in Melody's pregnancy. But I feel too experienced for that kind of glee. As I struggle to find a way, please pray for us. Thank you.



Melody and I have begun taking walks together. She uses her small legs and square feet to walk everywhere now. She is tall enough to hold onto my finger without me having to hunch over and waddle as we walk. This is a grand change! Now I enjoy walking together. Yesterday we went to Rogers to do some cruise shopping. (I love trips!) We were in a large new shopping area with wide sidewalks along the front of the stores. Melody and I slowly walked the length of the entire parking lot. She stopped at leaves, stomping on them with unsure feet and voicing excitement when the wind carried them away. I held her up to a tree full of popcorn type blossoms. I picked a blossom and held it toward her. Her fingers reached for it and carefully grasped the tiny stem. She carried it and touched it to her face for about 50 feet.

As we do new things together, like taking walks, I am filled with joy. She is becoming more and more of a companion. She says Hi and Bye to me about 25 times every day. I love it. Yesterday I put her hair in pigtails for the first time. They were pathetic little sprouts. As her hair thickens and my finger learn they will improve. We ended our outting at Barnes and Noble in the play area. I bought a Tazo iced tea (a new discovery for me). Melody romped around the kids section while I read a book about wok cooking. She fell asleep less than five minutes after we drove away. I felt happy for the discovery of mommy/daughter walks. I hope these pleasant times together stretch on for many many years.


getting ready

We leave early early Thursday morning for our cruise!!! (Our flight departs at 5:45am. Ugh.) I am busy with the details of getting ready. I have fun doing this sort of thing – as long as I start a few days ahead of time. But no matter how early I begin preparations, I am always packing late into the night before the trip. My goal is to NOT do that this time.

travel pillow
chads haircut
formal wear

The list goes on and on. I am super excited, but trying to manage my expectations at the same time. Chad and I had a wonderful week in Cancun for our honeymoon. Since then every time we’ve tried to vacation for just us, it has been a flop. We’re hoping with all our hearts that this time will be like our Cancun experience. The all-you-can-eat food should help!

I need to keep busy while Melody naps! (She is staying here with my mom. At first I felt unsure and panicky about it. Chad felt strongly that we need this trip for one-on-one time together, so I breathed deeply, prayed a little, and said, “Okay.” Since then I’ve felt peace about leaving her. She’ll be at home and she knows my mom well. Pray for her, if you think of it!)


housework whining

The battle of having a clean house has returned. For a few weeks I felt on top of it. I came up with a system that was working fairly well. On Mondays I'd stay home and work on the house pretty much nonstop. Of course I took lots of breaks for Melody -- diapers, meals, books, play, etc. But my goal for Mondays was to end the day with a neat, clean house. The rest of the week I did about one load of laundry a day, cooked dinner most nights, hung out with friends during the day, and kept things tidy at home. By Friday things were getting grimmy. The weekend arrived and Chad was home. He isn't a slob. He's actually neater than I am, most of the time. BUT, during the weekends I am not able to pick up after myself, Melody, AND him. So I decided to just relax about the house on the weekends, knowing that Monday would be the catchup day.

This worked well for awhile, but it also really wore me out. After several weeks of it, I started slacking. We left town for a weekend. I took a Monday off. Soon, the house was too far gone to fix in one day. At that point it felt like a mountain of a project again. Discouragement came and I ignored things even more. The spiral continued until we remembered our friends were coming into town this weekend. (!!!) I made a list of everything to do before their arrival. Last night after Melody went to sleep (7pm) I started working. Four hours later I wasn't finished yet. UGH. Now I'm exhuasted and I haven't even gotten to the master bedroom and bathroom yet. (It's the worst.)

I'm almost 30 years old. Shouldn't I have this house stuff figured out by now?


sleep vs thoughts

The baby woke at 3:30am needing a bottle. I took care of her and returned to bed in less than 15 minutes. Despite the short amount of time awake, sleep did not return easily. I tossed and turned for hours. Jumbled thought tumbled around in my head.

the dog needs to go to the vet
what should I add to the stirfry to make it better next time
the spare room needs clean sheets
melodys new demin overalls will bleed onto white/pink clothes
the floors are all dirty
my tire needs to be fixed
email is broken
freelance is undone
babysitter cost too much
do I want a new job
I'm a bad teacher
what should I do with Melody's crazy hair
why can't I finish her room
the bathrooms are dirty
I'll make chinese chicken salad for lunch tomorrow
I don't have all the ingredients
I'll ask ellen to bring the things I don't have
that is rude
I'll go to walmart for the third day in a row
the dog needs to go to the vet

These thoughts sprinted in ciricles until the alarm sounded three hours later. I am exhausted this morning.


the bedroom verdict

I will be making an annoying trip to Target very soon. I get to return the items I bought for our bedroom. Yesterday I set it up so Chad could decide what he thought. I made the bed with the wine colored blanket and matching shams. I strategically placed three funky pillows in front of the shames. The sequenced one went in the middle. I took care to tuck the still-attached price tags out of view.

The next task was to display the odd assortment of window panels. I purchased three, all different, but similar in funky-ness. We don’t have trim inside the house yet, so we don’t have curtain rods up either. Because of this I used thumbtacks to hang the curtains. I arranged them with fake gathers to simulate the real deal. My plan was to buy an extra long curtain rod and hang various mismatched panels on it to create a wall of fun fabrics.

The biggest chore of the bedroom makeover was putting away the four loads of clean laundry that was piled on the floor. Bleh. That wasn’t nearly as fun as working with the new stuff. Chad arrived home from work and the folded clothes were still strewn across the newly made bed. I made him stay out of the room until I finished the laundry. Then he came in to see the new room.

His reaction was mild but sure. No. He laughed a little and said it was really different. He was surprised I liked it. I usually go for stripes, symmetry, mod, solids, etc. Not glitter, beads, shimmer and richness. The hippy look has lurked in the recesses of my preferences for a long time. It goes with the part of me that wants dreadlocks, nose jewelry, long carefree skirts and gardening as a hobby. In college I always admired the girls who had these characteristics, but I didn’t have the guts or know-how to go there myself.

I guess I should have embraced it enough to decorate my dorm room with beads and velvet, because now that I’m married my opportunity is gone. Some of you may be screaming as you read this because you think I need to stand strong and keep the Target stuff. But the thing is, I am totally okay with returning it. Even as I piled it onto the conveyor belt at the checkout line, I was unsure. This uncertainty was not because of Chad, but because of myself. One of the main reasons I wasn’t sure was because we keep things for a long time. We’ve had our current bed covering for over five years. I wasn’t sure I could commit to keeping the swanky look for that long. It was too much.

Chad said he’d rather us buy something at full price (!) than settle for something just because it was on sale. He’s right; I would not have chosen the same stuff if it hadn’t been for the 75% off sale. When it comes to discounts, I’m very weak. The truth is, I rarely see something I absolutely love, sale or not. Maybe it’s the inner critic inside that has a hard time finding the perfect stuff. As I browse I innately critique designs, color combinations, and the like. (I’m the same way with recipes -- always trying to figure out what to add to make it better.) Because of this, our home goes undone with mismatched stuff. Maybe in forty years it will be complete and pleasing to both Chad and me. Then again, if that were to happen, I’d probably be way too attached to it all.


a special smile

When we first met your eyes were the surprise
But after awhile it was your smile that captured my heart

From a distance you caught my eye
Your honest face would break into a slow smile
The substance of that smile was good, pure and honest
"Does he smile at others this way?" I wondered

Months later Grandma Frieda commented
"That one, Chad. He smiled at me. It was different and special."
She had seen it too

Now we are married
I still love that honest smile
Behind it is character, joy, understanding and love
The kind of love the bible speaks of
I'm slowly learning of these things
Maybe someday when I'm old someone will say,
"Her smile. It's different. It's special."


super target lust & feeling low

My trip to Dallas was fun. I was able to spend time with my fun aunt and some relatives I don't see very often. Melody was a big hit, saying "hi" to everyone with her toddler wave. Being on a trip without Chad was hard, because I was the only parent for a few days. I ran and ran and ran keeping her dressed, rested, fed, and content. I am tired now. I'm also thankful as I realize how great Chad is at being involved and helping out.

One of the highlights of the trip was Super Target. I went there four times during the four day excursion. I found a 75% off sale and bought stuff for our bedroom. I went with an asian-swanky-shimmery look. I got a queen blanket with shams for under $20 and several beaded pillows for under $5 each. Sales make me happy. The catch is, "Will Chad like this new look for our room?" It's pretty different for him. He's more into corduroy, wood, flannel, etc. A lot of wives make their homes whatever they want and don't worry about the husband's likes/dislikes. For the most part Chad lets me do what I want, but I like to make sure he likes it, too. Tomorrow I will set up our new room and see what he thinks. I won't be distraught if I end up returning everything and waiting for another 75% off sale on a look we both like. I'll keep you updated.

When I shop at places like Super Target, I suffer from small town discontentment. I browsed the aisles with a Starbucks mocha. (Skim, half the chocolate, with whip cream, extra hot -- I've become one of THOSE coffee drinkers. When I first started drinking coffee a few years back, I'd hear people order with several specifications and I'd wonder what the heck they were talking about. Now I'm doing it!)

Anyway, the perfect rows of oranges and lettuce in the produce department appealed to my aesthetic instincts. I noticed healthfood brands, which I'd only seen at healthfood stores before. Also, the organic milk was 30 cents less per half gallon than low price leader Walmart. (Gasp!) I also enjoyed driving on the busy roads and being in the hustle and bustle. Dallas is NOT a city I'd choose to live in, but it had a hint of the things I like about highly populated places. Now that I'm home, I'm enjoying rural things like stars, quiet, trees, etc. I'm not unhappy here... but I sure enjoy getting away often.

I am still having trouble being motivated. My class is tonight and once again, I'm struggling to prepare enough to feel like a good teacher. I think I'm borderline depressed again. It's always hard to know how I FEEL, but when I get apathetic about things I love, I start to wonder. I haven't been very good about taking my antidepressant every single time. I've been on it for 10 months now and I've been toying with the idea of weaning to see how I do. Maybe this is why I'm not as religious about taking it every single time I'm suppose to. Maybe I'm subconciously trying to see what happens if I slow down with the dosages. I know this is not the right way to wean from a drug. I guess it is time to see the doctor again. Even that feels like a huge mountain. Could that be another Depressed Rebekah sign? I don't want to blame every lazy feeling I have on depression though. I think this is why I fight accepting the fact that I'm not doing well. I equate accepting the depression with laziness or giving up, even though that does not make sense.


slacking, party & trip

Lately, I've been behind on everything. Housework, meals, teaching, freelance, bills, even blogging. For awhile I was on top of things. I don't know how it happened, but I lost my motivation. I fell back into the pattern of going places to escape the undone house. I hate living that way.

And about the class I'm teaching... I love the idea of teaching. I love the university and the students. I even enjoy the subject matter. So WHY is it hard for me to stay prepared and motivated?? I don't understand. I need a kick in the butt or something.

Another thing that's bugging me is that I have nothing to say when people ask how I'm doing. "Good, good. I'm fine." Blah, blah, blah. There is nothing new to report. I end up talking about Melody instead... "The baby is walking!" Yesterday someone replied with, "Great! But how are you?"

"Uhhhh.... good, I think?" I haven't had a case of humdrum life in awhile. It's not fun.

Last weekend I had a birthday party for my brother and his college roommate. They turned 19 in the same week. Christopher invited 10 of his guy friends over for dinner, a bonfire, and some gun shooting. I made thousands of enchiladas and a german chocolate cake from sratch. I think I used every single utensil, pan, and dish in the kitchen. Twice. It has taken three whole-hearted attempts of kitchen-cleaning to get everything back in order. I also made a huge Happy Birthday banner with eight pieces of poster board and acrylic paints. I combined uppercase and lowercase letters with four fun colors to create a silly up-and-down type design. Chad and I hung it over the couch in the living room.

By the time everyone arrived, I was too exhausted to enjoy hosting. After several hours of hoop-la I was ready for an empty quiet house. I was slightly nervous with the college age guys. Chad and I don't know how to relate or act around them. Maybe it's because for the first time we're the older ones?

Tomorrow my mom, Melody and I leave for a trip to Texas. We'll be gone four days to visit family and go to a wedding. Maybe this girlie roadtrip is what I need. I hope so. Chad will work on the house while we're away. He's looking forward to being able to focus on the projects without being distracted. There are still many many things left to complete before our June deadline. The stress of these projects is probably the biggest contributing factor to my funk.



It is through blurry tears and painful heartache that I write this morning. Minutes ago I found out that a sweet seven month old baby girl passed away yesterday. I went to college with her parents. We live in the same small town but I'm not sure they know who I am. Through their website, I've followed the story of their baby girl's struggle to hang onto life since she was two months old. A couple nights ago, she went home to heaven. I am heartbroken even though I never met her. The age old question of "Why?" repeats in my head.

Once again I'm reminded that we were not made to deal with death. When God created us, death was not in the equation. Death came later. Could this explain why our finite minds cannot grasp loss of life? Because we weren't meant to die? In moments like these I long for heaven with my whole being. I long for wholeness and togetherness with God forever.

Our prayers are with you, John and Miriam.
We love you.


time for battle?

Melody is fourteen months today. As we enter the toddler stage, things are both fun and difficult. Several months ago I found myself beginning to say the infamous "no." Since then the frequency of uses had continually increased. I'm fairly certain we haven't reached the peak of the crescendo yet. Each day Melody's coordination improves. She's not just walking now; she's cruising. It's so odd when I'm in the kitchen and all of the sudden she walks around the corner to join me. I feel like I have a teenager! She's also learning how to climb. A few days ago she braved the coffee table. Once on it, she acted like king of the mountain; so proud of herself.

I am struggling as we embark on these toddler activities. I have always heard poeple say, "Choose your battles." I assumed they were cautioning against fighting every single battle with their child. When Melody does something new that I'm not sure about (like the coffee table), I find myself sighing and thinking, "I don't want to fight any battles at all!"

I don't think the reason for my apathy is laziness. I simply don't know HOW to fight a battle. We decided to make the trash can our battle. It is right on her level and she likes to pick things out of it. I have tried repeatedly saying no. She looks at me and does it again. Her face is not showing defiance though. I've tried flicking her hand. She cried, but again, there was no connection. I know people think I'm being too lenient, but I truly don't believe she understands yet. I think it would be easier if she were defiant. Then I would feel okay about being more harsh. As it is, I distract her instead. Now she has started standing by the trashcan and singing, "no no no no no." It's pretty funny. I guess something is starting to click in that little head of hers.

For the first time I feel at a loss about how to be a mom. Caring for her in the first 12 months came easily. I knew what to do and felt comfortable doing it. Now I feel unsure of myself. I'm sure Melody picks up on this insecurity. Could that be why she already obeys Grammy more than me?

I've heard moms say they didn't like the baby stage because they just aren't into babies. Others say the same about toddlers. This logic is strange to me. I am prepared for certain stages to be harder than others, but I want to stay positive while in the midst of each one. Things got really hard (physically) when I was pregnant, but the hardship didn't lessen my joy toward the baby. I want that type attitude to continue as my kid(s) grow and change. At this point, I'm struggling to maintain the joy and ease. I find myself questioning our mother/daughter relationship. (Already!) A couple weeks ago my mom came for a visit. Less than ten minutes after her arrival I was in tears as I explained the trash can drama.

I not only want to learn good techniques in discipline and child rearing; I also want to learn how to keep my joy in the midst of the hard days. Does anyone have stories, book referrals, or suggestions that might help me right now?


girl on a mission

The paper organization feat is DONE! Chad has been out of town for the past few days. My parents came to hang out with me and Melody. I attacked the study/office while there were here. (Turns out, I was totally PMSing, which leads to major nesting for me. The motivation is a great thing.) I worked for about five hours, total. (!) There were roughly four huge piles, each about 6 to 8 inches tall. I broke everything down into filing groups. As I went through them, I realized many of the papers were from 2003 and 2004. (This is so embarrassing.) I decided to NOT file those papers. Instead they are to remain neatly unorganized, but accessable incase we need something from two years ago. Everything from 2005 to present is in it's place though! I feel so good each time I pass the orange french doors leading into the study. I look in and smile at the cleared off floor. For months it was covered with the piles. What a downer.

I also bought two bright blue baskets for our wrapping paper, house plans, posters, and anything else that is rolled up. They are all neating standing next to each other in the baskets now. Eeeeeeee. I guess PMS is good for something after all.

Next month's project: Organize owners manuals. (My hubby refuses to throw any of them away. I made an executive decision yesterday and got rid of a few including, ice cream maker, waffle iron and coffee grinder. Shhh. Don't tell.)


birth story aftermath

Sharing Melody's birth story was relatively easy. In the weeks after she was born I was able to journal a lot. Referring to the pages of my sleep deprived handwriting gave me a skeleton on which to build the story. Figuring out how to be honest and complete while remaining tasteful and private was the hardest part of the process.

The difficult part of the story comes after the birth. This is the when things got hazy and strange. There was so much going on inside of me. I was overjoyed to finally experience Melody with all of my senses. Seeing, smelling, watching, hearing and touching her captivated me. Caring for her was easy.

Several times a day someone would comment on how little Melody was. I had a hard time acknowledging this statement. Each time I'd look at her head, tears would spring to my eyes. I would look away and recall the pain of pushing her out. Never before had I thought of a newborn as big. My new perspective bothered me, but I didn't know how to change it.

I was stunned and shocked when I thought about the labor. I felt betrayed. I thought I knew what I was getting into, but the pain was more than I had expected. I was angry. I thought about the books, authors, teachers and friends who had taught me about natural childbirth. Had they lied to me? Was it propaganda? How could they have glorified such a painful thing? How could they have used words like beautiful and wonderful while talking about childbirth? On the other hand, maybe there was no way to really know until afterward. How can you describe that kind of pain to someone who hasn't experienced it? How can you prepare them for it? I was dizzy with confusion.

As I struggled with these thoughts and questions, one thing was certian. I was different. For the first time in my life I was not a girl. I was 100% woman. A chasm separated me from those who were not mothers. I had been inducted into a new phase of human nature and it made me feel old. I don't mean old in the sense of wrinkles and frailness. No, it was more of a soul thing.

Have you ever met someone who's eyes were different because of their life experiences? I visited Africa two years before Melody was born. I became acquainted with a few widows from Sudan. Their eyes possessed something I'd never seen before. There was strength, depth, and understanding in them. Not only had they been through the birthing process; they had also experienced the death of their husbands and the destruction of their homes. Most of them had lost children as well. Despite the ongoing heartache, they were joyful, loving, warm, and kind. Their eyes show truimph over the horrible things that had happened to them.

After Melody's birth, I felt a hint of this aging thing settle inside of me. Without realizing it, I began searching for a way to make my painful experience a better thing. My bewilderment slowly turned into understanding. Now, nearly fourteen months later, I am able to say that Melody's birth was both beautiful and wonderful.

Someday I will meet a girl who dreams of being a mother. When she looks into my eyes, I wonder if she will notice anything different?


melody's birth story, part 6

After laboring beside the bed for awhile, Jennifer could tell the baby was close to being born. She suggested I move the to the love seat couch in our room. Pillows surrounded me and chux pads were everywhere. My hair had been up in a messy ponytail for hours. It slipped out and fell around my neck and face. I was irritated and barked for someone to put it back up. Chad attempted, but didn't do a good job. It was still loose and threatened to fall down. In one of the 15 second breaks between contractions, I slung it on top of my head and forcefully wrapped the rubber band around it.

Chad perched on the wide arm of the couch next to me. He held a cool washcloth to my face, neck and chest. Teresa sat on the floor, directly in front of me. She rubbed my feet and lower legs to ward off cramping. I felt on the verge of a food cramp several times. I thought I'd completely loose it if a cramp came. Apple juice ice cubes were put into my mouth. "Try to eat these. They will help with the cramps." They had calcium citrate and vitamin C. They were refreshing; I crunched them quickly between contractions.

The contractions became so intense that I was not able to relax my lower body at all. I propped my feet up on Teresa's legs and she talked me through them. I could tell my body was ready to push, but something held me back. I was still afraid. Also, I had absolutely no urge. I kept waiting to "want" to push. The contractions made my legs feel like they would twist off at the hips. I looked into Jennifer's face, silently asking her with my eyes, "Is this normal? Is everything okay?" Her demeanor remained calm and normal. Her eyes responded, also silently, "Yes. You are fine. Do not be scared." This silent communication is one of the sweetest memories of my labor. Without it, I would have been paralyzed with fear, pain, and dread. Because I knew and trusted Jennifer, I believed everything that was happening was normal, despite the incredible intensity and mind boggling pain.

Finally Jennifer suggested for me to feel inside and touch the baby's head. I don't remember if I thought it a weird or gross thing to do. I responded like a robot and did it. I felt a warm and firm surface less than an inch from the outside world. I had no sweet thoughts regarding having just touched my baby's head for the first time. Things were too hard for awe. My only thought was objective and practical, "If the baby is this close, then pushing will make it all be over sooner." I decided to start pushing even though I still had no urge to do so. It was about 10:00pm.

Jennifer brought a wooden birth stool from her car. It was made of two skinny pieces of wood which created a v-shaped 90ยบ angle. It was only 12 inches tall. I sat on it and leaned against the front of the couch. Chad sat on the couch directly behind me with his legs on either side of me. I rested my arms on his knees; a very comfortable position. When a contraction began, I'd take three of four slow, long, deep, abdominal breaths. On the last one I'd hold my breath, curl forward, and push with all my might. My entire upper body remained relaxed in the midst of pushing. My lips were loose like a camel's and my arms dangled at my sides. All my strength and power was centered on pushing the baby out. I tilted my pelvis up to complete the curled position. We'd been taught that the birth canal is the shortest in this position. It took a few times to get everything right. After awhile I was pushing in a full squat. At the end of each push, I'd sit on the birth stool again and fall into Chad's arms. It was a comfort and relief each time I felt his chest behind me.

After 25 minutes of pushing someone said, "Get a mirror." I had no desire to see what was happening, but I obeyed like a robot again, and looked down to see half the baby's head was out. I felt no ring of fire that so many people describe during crowing. With the next push, the rest of the head came out. Again I looked in the mirror. I saw a gray colored head with lots of dark hair. I was not able to see the face because it was facing down. The baby tumbled out of me with the next contraction / push. Chad says that I hollered loudly for a long time after she was out. I don't remember making any noise.

The baby immediately pooped a bunch of meconium. Jennifer wiped her down and handed her to me in one swift motion. A blanket was placed over the baby for warmth. Chad was still behind me looking down at her with awe. He said something like, "Wow. Hi baby." I felt nothing but relief. Relief. Relief. Relief. There was no joy. No happiness. No tears. Only pure relief. Relief that it was over and that the baby was healthy. The first thing I noticed about her body were her ears. They were both bunched up into two squishy balls of red flesh. I was slightly taken aback, then immediately thought, "Oh well, at least she is whole and healthy. We can deal with weird ears." It turned out there were that way because of the birth. Within five minutes they were flat and perfect.

Chad cut the cord after it stopped pulsing. He was surprised at the toughness of it. He said it was like cutting a garden hose. Soon the placenta came. The contraction that delivered the placenta was mild compared to the previous ones. My whole body trembled uncontrollably and I was chilled. Someone covered me with a quilt. The warmth of the quilt was the first sensation of comfort and sanity I felt after the birth. Rational thoughts began popping into my head. "Is it a boy or girl?" I repeated this question several times. We expected to have a girl because of an ultrasound prediction, but I still wondered. Finally Teresa said, "Why don't you look and see?" I was annoyed by this; I didn't want to look for myself, I just wanted to know. When I pulled the blanket back I saw puffy red girl parts. The ultrasound had been correct. I smiled and joy begin to seep from my heart to the rest of my being. I had a baby girl.

Her coloring was grayish so we gave her oxygen by placing a tube near her nose. Soon she was pink and noisy. Her sounds were high pitched and girlie. She had been born at 10:30, ten and a half hours after my first strong contraction.

A few minutes after the birth I asked if I had torn. I felt no pain so I was unsure. Jennifer informed me that I had. After holding the baby for awhile I gave her to Chad and got onto the bed. Jennifer covered a large hardback dictionary with padding and slid it under me. I found this humorous. She gave me several shots of local anesthetic; only a couple of them hurt. In that moment my pain tolerance was very high because of the recent memory of birth. I said something like, "You could rip my arm off and I wouldn't blink." I received 7 stitches for a second degree tear. I was disappointed that I had torn, but relieved and grateful that my baby was strong and healthy.

After the stitches were complete, I attempted to eat some Lipton chicken noodle soup. It did not taste good, so I set it aside. Jennifer measured and weighed the baby. She was 7 pounds, 14 ounces and 20 inches long. After this the baby and I took an herb bath. It seemed appropriate since we had spent so much time in the water during the labor. As the baby and I were in the tub, Jennifer lit three candles and turned off the lights. Chad resumed his place on the toilet seat and Jennifer left us alone. The baby's eyes opened wide in the dark room. She floated like a buoy and relaxed in the warm water. Chad and I watched her in awe and decided to name her Melody Raine.

Jennifer and Teresa left at 3:00am, about 12 hours after they arrived. Chad and I slept about 20 minutes at a time that night. Melody was tiny, laying between our two pillows. She was wrapped in a blanket with a hat on her small head. She made squeaky, chirping sounds during her first sleep in this world.


melody's birth story, part 5

After Jennifer and Teresa arrived, our birth team was complete. They hung back, leaving me and Chad alone most of the time. Teresa prepared smoothies with strawberries, banana, calcium citrate, and vitamin C powder. Jennifer continued to take vitals each 20 or 30 minutes.

After laboring in bed for awhile, I decided to try to bathtub. The hot water felt like heaven. I was immediately able to cope more efficiently. With each contraction I'd close my eyes, drop my head down to my chest, inhale through my nose, exhale through my open, loose lips, and completely fade away. The water decreased my pain by about 50%. I was happy. I felt on top of things. Teresa and Jennifer did many little things to make my surroundings comfortable. They rolled towels for my neck and head. They unscrewed all but one of the light bulbs in the bathroom, creating a dimly lit room. They spoke in hushed tones. I barely noticed these things, but looking back, I know they helped a lot.

Chad sat on the toilet seat the whole time I was in the tub. He timed my contractions, talked to me, read Psalm 19 (my favorite), prayed a little, and listened to me. Between contractions I felt fine. Every 30 minutes I would get out of the tub to pee. This was important to Jennifer. I tried my best to cooperate. Going to the toilet meant extra contractions in an unfamiliar place and position. A contraction would end and I'd practically jump out of the tub in order to avoid moving during the pain. I was surprised at my agility and strength. Those contractions are big motivators! I'd sit backward on the toilet, my arms crossed and resting on the tank lid, and my head laying on my arms.

Time passed very quickly. Each time I inquired, at least an entire hour had passed. As the hours clicked by, the intensity increased. I was not able to stay still during contractions. I began having irrational thoughts. I felt scared of the baby. I wondered if I wanted a baby at all. I felt trapped by the inevitability of the second stage of labor. At the same time, I wanted progress because I wanted it to be over. I started wondering how anyone chooses to have more than one baby. Then I thought about people who choose to have an epidural and I felt humbled. I decided I would never be judgmental of anyone for choosing pain relief again. For the first time the validity of their choices sunk in with full force. I never thought about drugs for myself. Maybe that is because there were no drugs available since we were at home. I don't know what my thought process would have been in a hospital. It was a non-issue at home though.

As things progressed I became restless, nervous and afraid. I was scared. I threw up while sitting on the toilet. Chad held a bowl for me while Teresa and Jennifer encouraged me; it meant progress. It was about 8:30 (about 7 hours after labor started) and I was in transition. After this my body switched gears. It felt like a race car, taking off as fast as possible. I was out of breath and hot. We all heard a popping sound. It was my water breaking, under water. Jennifer checked for discoloration, and found none, meaning there was no meconium in the amniotic fluid. This brought me relief because I knew the baby was okay.

With each contraction, my legs writhed back and forth, side to side. I could not relax or stay still. Chad tried to talk me through it all, but it didn't help. The water was claustrophobic and I needed to find a new place to be. I got out of the tub and sat on the toilet.

[During the birthing classes we were taught that with second stage, women loose their sense of modesty. I thought, "Nope. Not me. I won't." Wrong! I was naked as a jay bird and didn't even think about it. Later Chad said it was a little weird for him at first. He got over it quickly; especially after he thought about how many times Jennifer and Teresa attended labors. This was normal stuff for them.]

At this point the contractions became ultra intense. I made low guttural sounds with each exhale. During these sounds I'd rest my chin low on my chest. The sounds were like a humming or a low roar. I had not planned to make noise like this during my birth. I had read of others doing so, but it seemed weird to me. Once the time came, weirdness did not matter. The sounds helped me cope with the intensity, and that was all that mattered. At the beginning of my noise-making I looked at Chad and said, "Don't be scared." I didn't know how he'd respond. He encouraged me to do whatever in order to keep my bearings. Teresa reminding me to keep the sounds low, as to not strain my vocal cords. She would do it with me and I'd mimic her.

Soon we moved back to the bed. I stood next to it, leaning over the side. Chad sat on the bed, holding my hands with his head close to mine. I panicked at first because I didn't know how to cope with the pain in this new position. Everyone told me I was doing a great job. Teresa reminding me to breath. I tried, but felt unsuccessful. My legs and hips refused to relax; the pain in my inner thighs was the worst.

Jennifer checked me internally at this point. She was gentle, but it caused a horrific contraction anyway. I was dilated to 9.5 centimeters. Only a lip of the cervix remained. She described it as goo or melted butter. This meant I could start pushing and the baby would move down without swelling the cervix. I had a hard time comprehending these things in the midst of all the pain. The contractions were right on top of each other, only leaving 15 seconds breaks for rest. Each one felt like a semi truck barreling through my body. Relaxing was impossible. I stood by the bed, and rocked back and forth. I felt trapped and out of control. On the outside I was calm and relatively relaxed. Looking back I think I was trying really hard to preform for the others. I had had no idea performance anxiety would be part of my labor, but I wanted to do everything the right way so that Teresa and Chad would be proud of me. I was not concerned with Jennifer's perception, however. She had an anything-goes / whatever-it-takes attitude that put me at ease.

I felt no urge to push even though it was time to do so. This confused me because every birth story I'd heard / read told of a definite desire to push and a great relief when pushing commenced. Something held me back though. I think it was fear. Each time I'd think about the baby coming out of my body, I felt scared. It seemed so violent. Therefore, I remained beside the bed, rocking back and forth, not pushing. My body was ready, but my mind was not.


melody's birth story, part 4

I arrived home at 3:00. I had contacted Chad earlier in the day, informing him of my progress. He was already home when I got there. Seeing him in the kitchen was wonderful. It was at this point that my calmness and relaxation evaporated. His first words to me were, “Do you want to go for a walk?” He remembered that walking could speed up labor in the early stages. He didn’t realize how far along I already was. In reply to his question, I leaned onto the kitchen counter, lowered my head, and moaned with another contraction.

Our house was not ready for the birth. Our bedroom was a huge mess. Liz shifted into helper mode and asked me what needed to be done. I slumped on top of a huge pile of clothes on our bedroom loveseat and directed Chad and Liz between contractions. “Take the sheets off the bed…. put the plastic on the mattress… put the sheets back on.” They worked fast. Soon the pile of clothes was in a heap on our closet floor and the birth kit was accessible in the bathroom.

At this point Liz left the room and I don’t recall anything else about her that day. I didn’t know it, but she stayed for two or three more hours doing baby laundry, cleaning the kitchen, and even putting the baby’s mobile together.

I got into bed. Chad stood beside me and said, “We’re going to have a baby today.” It was at that moment that my denial stopped and I realized I was really in labor. I began crying. I was scared and excited.

My goal was to imitate sleep during each contraction. I would assume the most comfortable position possible, fully relax my entire body, close my eyes, and take slow deep abdominal breaths with my mouth slightly open. The idea was to let the contractions do their thing, to accept them and not fight the pain. It is an odd concept. It was as if I was welcoming the pain inside of me. Breathing abdominally during a contraction meant breathing into the pain. This was something I’d never done before. If I stubbed my toe, I’d hold my breath, tense up, and wait for the pain to subside. With the contractions, I did the exact opposite. I let them come and go in a completely relaxed state. At least that was my goal.

Being in bed was horrible. I could not get comfortable between each contraction, so I had a hard time relaxing during them. Chad attempted to help me, but it was no use. My legs writhed with each rush of pain.

At some point Chad was on the phone with Jennifer, the midwife. He handed me the phone. Jennifer’s voice was calm, “Hi Rebekah. How are you feeling? I want to hear you through a contraction. Just hold the phone and I’ll listen.”

Shortly after the phone call, Jennifer arrived. I remember her touching my side and leaning over the bed to say hello. I turned to greet her. She looked beautiful to me. She wore a light smoky blue colored shirt – one of my favorite colors. I was happy to see her. She took my vitals and listened to the baby’s heartbeat with a Doppler. The metal was cold and hard on my belly. All the numbers were perfect.

Soon Teresa arrived. She was beautiful to me also. She wore a chunky cream sweater; her eyes sparkled and her lips were shimmery with pink lip-gloss.

I chose for Jennifer not to check my cervix. I knew I was in labor and I felt like it was progressing quickly. I knew a cervix check would be painful. Most of all I didn’t want a number to disappoint me or to give me false hope. I preferred not knowing how dilated I was. Instead I focused on each contraction and did my best to cope with the pain.


melody's birth story, part 3

In this post I will begin the details of actual labor. For days I've wrestled with how to write this story in a discrete but honest fashion. My goal is not to gross anyone out, but I can't leave out the messy stuff or it won't be the whole story. Therefore, this is a faint warning... gore and very personal information is ahead.

Our wedding anniversary is on December 17th. While pregnant with Melody, Chad and I celebrated being married four years. He surprised me with a grand celebration. We stayed in a nearby hotel. Dinner was at a nice steakhouse. I still remember that meal. My taste buds were on steroids, everything tasted so good. After dinner we returned to the hotel to exchange gifts. Chad gave me a beautiful robe. It was light blue, thick, soft as a cloud, and luxurious. Surprisingly, I was able to wrap it around my massive middle. I wore it over my maternity swimsuit to the pool. Many endearing looks were cast my way as I waddled through the hotel. It looked like I was hiding a beach ball under there.

The day ended with intimacy enhanced by a hotel room, a great gift and a special occasion. That night I was not able to sleep a wink. I tossed and turned and peed every 30 to 45 minutes. I woke up exhausted and frustrated. I blamed the sleepless night on the unfamiliar firm bed. My hips and shoulders ached. I did not realize my body was entering the early stages of labor.

Two days went by. Small things were happening. I was loosing enough stuff to have to wear a pad all the time. My back began aching to the point of major discomfort and sleeping was impossible. In my head, I still had three weeks to go, so I tried to have positive thoughts. I focused on the baby inside me. I thought of her all the time and wondered what she looked like. Did she have hair? How big would she be? I could feel her knobby knees and pointy heels under my ribs. Occasionally it felt like she was trying to fully stretch out inside of me. Her movements did not cause pain. My stomach jumped and bumped at her command. I let these things make me happy even though my discomfort was monumental. If I had known I was actually in the early stages of labor, my attitude would not have been so good. But I thought we had weeks to go and I did not want to be negative about my baby.

Tuesday (December 21st) a friend and I went to the mall to do some last minute Christmas shopping. We ate pizza and I barely fit in the booth. On the way out of the restaurant a stranger said something like, "When was your due date?" implying that I was overdue. As nicely as I could I replied, "Not for three more weeks." I was completely annoyed. I turned to my friend in the parking lot and said, "Do I really look that big!?" She sheepishly, carefully replied, "Yes, honey. You do." I shrugged and thought once again, "But I have THREE WEEKS left!"

Later that same evening I finished shopping first. I stood on the outskirts of the food court, scanning the crowds for my friend. Suddenly I felt flushed, exhausted and weak. I hobbled to the nearest chair and lowered myself down to rest. Never in my life had I been too weak to stand up. Looking back, I don't know why it didn't cross my mind that I was in labor. I guess my mind was just set on January, not December, for the birth.

That night, when I finally arrived at home, I collapsed into bed and slept like a baby all night long. Wednesday, the 22nd, I woke up to mildly icy roads. I took my time getting ready for work in order to let the roads clear. For some reason I decided to do a load of baby clothes laundry before leaving the house. It was the first of the baby clothes for me to wash. I had to get gas on my way to work. I remember standing by the car, pumping the gas, in the freezing cold wind. My hair was slightly damp and I was wearing a light-weight jacket. Despite all of this I was still warm!

During the 40 minute commute to work, I had my first strong contraction. It took me by surprise. I had to concentrate to keep the car on the road. The seat belt felt horrible; it was so tight around my stomach. I shrugged it all off, and focused on other things. Three weeks. Three weeks. Three more weeks.

I got to work at 10:30. It was a relaxed day in the office; everyone was happy and looking forward to Christmas. We goofed off and talked about silly things; I laughed really hard and felt very happy. For lunch I was in the mood for A&W root beer on tap. (Normally I don't care for root beer. I'm a coke girl.) Scot and Melissa and I went to Long John Silvers / A&W. I ordered a three plank chicken meal with my root beer. They each got smaller meals. I felt slightly embarrassed to be eating so much. While at the table I repeatedly got up to get things like ketchup, a straw, napkins, etc. Each movement was a monumental task. I was growing very uncomfortable and things were beginning to hurt.

I asked my friends if they minded going to the nearby health food store on the way back to work. I felt an urgent need to buy vitamin C powder and calcium citrate powder. These were ingredients for Teresa's labor smoothie. They help provide the laboring mama with extra energy and reduce muscle cramping. Typically I would not have bothered my friends with an errand like this, but the roads were suppose to get more icy and I felt an urgency. I still did not realize I was in labor. Every five minutes I reminded myself I had at least three weeks left to go.

On the 10 drive back to work I experienced two strong contractions. Each bump in the road made me grimace and close my eyes. Scot and Melissa did not notice. I mentioned the contractions to them and they got excited. I remained calm, still not believe this was it.

Once back at the office I began timing the contractions. They were five minutes apart and each lasted between 30 and 45 seconds. It was difficult to concentrate on anything else. I was unable to get comfortable in my expensive posh Herman Miller chair. I went to the bathroom; sitting on the toilet felt good. I did some pelvic rocks; they brought on more contractions.

Back at my desk I frantically worked on a list for Ellen. I felt responsible to leave her with clear directions for my projects incase this was it. I wished with all my heart the list was already made. It should have been a 20 minute task; instead it took me one and a half hours! The contractions continued, but no one in the office noticed my frequent breathing breaks. I squirmed through each one; leaning back and leaning forward. I never found a way to relax in that stupid chair.

Around 2:30 I realized I could not drive myself home. Liz immediately came to mind. She was a longtime friend from college who also worked at DaySpring. I walked to the other building to ask her to drive me home. Walking felt good. The cold air was refreshing. I walked slowly and paused when contractions came. Liz was on the phone with a mutual friend when I arrived at her desk. They chatted while I waited. I masked my way through two more contractions. Then Liz handed me the phone. I chatted through a couple more contractions; it was very difficult.

Finally, I told Liz I needed her to take me home. She was awesome. On the drive she panicked a little. I calmly told her to drive slow on the curvy highway. The curves were painful for me. Once we almost veered off the road when she looked at me instead of keeping her eyes on the road. I surprised myself by remaining relaxed and telling her not to worry. With each contraction I'd rest my head on the headrest, close my eyes, fully relax my arms, and slowly breath in and out with my mouth slightly open. I think this sight scared her a little. Also, she realized the magnitude of the situation more than I did. I was STILL not convinced this was it! Liz's actions reminded me of the classic sitcom husband who gets hysterical when it's time to go to the hospital. She told me later that she was coaching herself to not talk too much or be loud.

I called Crystal on the drive to tell her about the contractions. At this point they were three minutes apart. Our conversation ended abruptly when a pain began. I said shortly and weakly, "I have to breathe now. Bye." and hung up the phone. Later she told me that it was then she knew I was in active labor.


melody's birth story, part 2

As we entered the third trimester of the pregnancy, I was calm and excited about labor. I felt prepared and equipped. Chad and I talked about it often. One night, as we walked around our neighborhood, I said, "I hope I don't throw up during transition." Looking back, I can't believe throwing up was one of my concerns. I did throw up, but it paled in comparison to the rest of the experience. This is an example of the contrast between my expectations and the reality of my labor.

From about week 30, I measured larger than normal. Each week I was 3 to 5 centimeters larger than expected. One is suppose to measure 30cm when she is 30 weeks, 32cm when she is 32 weeks, 35cm when she is 35 weeks, etc. The doctor was more concerned about this discrepancy than the midwife. The doctor looked at individual things -- my weight was too high, my measurement too big, my ankles too swollen, etc. Jennifer looked at the whole picture. Most of Jennifer's patients gain more weight than the average. Also, most of the babies she delivers are around 9 lbs, instead of the hospital's average of 6 lbs. With this type of knowledge, she eased my mind about my weight and my measurements.

My due date was January 6th. I tried to manage my expectations because I knew that a lot of first timers go past their due date. As I approached my 35th week, my maternity pants got too tight. I couldn't believe it. One morning I sat on the floor to put on my shoes. This was already a monumental task because reaching my feet was nearly impossible. As I sat down and bent over, my too tight pants dug into my enormous belly. I sat back, gasping for breath and sighed, "What am I going to do??! I have five weeks left and my pants are too tight!!" Chad was sympathetic and told me to buy some new pants. This made me feel better. I went to Motherhood Maternity, a store I grew to hate. (Literally.) I felt like their clothes were Walmart quality at Mall prices. I found the largest, cheapest pair of jeans and wore them every single day even though we were not suppose to wear jeans to work. I didn't care.

December arrived and it became increasingly difficult to sleep and walk. I woke up to pee every single hour at night. I did pelvic rocks nonstop (including in the bathroom at work) to relieve my aching lower back. I don't know how I would have made it without those pelvic rocks. They felt so good.

My plan was to begin my maternity leave on December 26th, the day after Christmas. This would give me a little over a week at home to prepare myself and the house for labor. I had heard stories of women going into labor at work. I could not fathom working until the day the baby came. I wanted time at home first. Little did I know, that would not be the case at all!


melody's birth story, part 1

I have decided to tell Melody's birth story. I'm finally ready.

It took many months for me to be able to think about her birth in a positive light. For a long time it was a bundle of painful memories. Anger and resentment simmered inside when I thought about it. When Melody was 7 months old I reached a turning point. I began to remember her birthday with a happy heart. I began to see the good things. Now she is almost 14 months. When people ask, "Would you do it again?" I respond with a small quiet, "Yes, I would."

I'll preface the actual birth with some background information. I grew up in a family that benefited from alternative medicine. My mom used homeopathy for her chronic fatigue, allergies, and general weakness. While she has never been as strong as a typical person, these remedies helped her immensely. She always believed in vitamins, supplements, and health food. I did not have a coca-cola until I was five. (Maybe that's why I love it so much now.)

I have always been comfortable with the idea of natural medicine. As a girl who wanted to be a mom someday, I had it in the back of my head that I'd probably choose to attempt an unmedicated birth. My good friend, Crystal, had her first baby three years before Melody came along. She learned something called The Bradley Method. I liked what I heard from her, so when I found out I was pregnant I looked into it.

I found there were two women in our area that teach The Bradley Method. I called one and was not impressed or comfortable with the conversation. I called the second, and liked her immediately. Her name was Teresa. Chad and I made an appointment to meet her and joined her small class shortly after. There were two other couples in our class, both in their 3rd trimester. I, on the other hand, was merely 10 weeks along. I remember looking down at my flat middle and wondering with all my might what it would be like when the baby grew and stretched me out like a beach ball. Each week I stared at a large picture book portraying the growing baby. I'd look ahead to see how big my baby would get in the next few weeks. I was full of anticipation.

We learned a myriad of exercises including squatting, pelvic rocks, tailor sitting, the butterfly, kegels, and relaxation. Nutrition was also a weekly topic. We learned that consuming 80 to 100 grams of protein each day would drastically reduce the chance of toxemia / pre-eclampsia. I kept record of what I ate and learned that a tuna melt with cheese and tomato was an easy way to get a lot of protein in one meal. Many evenings before bed, I'd drink 8 ounces of milk in order to top off my protein count for the day. The Bradley group was a source of accountability and encouragement in the area of nutrition. I would not have eaten as well without their support.

Through the childbirth class I met several new friends who introduced me to different books about natural childbirth. I read several of them including, Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, Husband Coached Childbirth, and The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth. The more I read, the more excited and sure I became about having an unmedicated birth. I began to think it would be easy to do it the natural way if: I ate well, exercised, learned how to relax, and listened to everything my Bradley teacher said. I hung on her every word during class, asked tons of questions, and listened intensely. I tried to be the model student. Each day I grew more confident in myself and my ability to have a baby without drugs. (Ha!) Chad was equally excited about the information we were learning.

As Chad and I learned about these things, we also learned about our local hospitals. Northwest Arkansas is not as progressive as other areas of the country. This stunted element applies to the medical field as well. We had trouble finding a doctor / hospital combination that pleased us. Some doctors were okay with non-intervention, but their hospital policies scared us. Other hospitals had a good reputation for a friendly natural childbirth environment, but we were unable to find a doctor we were comfortable with. I entered my fourth month of the pregnancy still unsure of which doctor / hospital to use. It was at this point that Chad started talking about having a home birth. At first I was very closed to the idea because of fear. What if something went wrong? How would I forgive myself?

Some reasons we didn't want to be in the hospital included:
I did not want an IV in my arm or a fetal monitor strapped to my belly. I wanted to be able to eat / drink during labor and I didn't want a timeline attached to my labor. After the birth, we wanted the baby to room-in with us. I didn't know if I'd be able to trust a doctor and the nurses to listen to me during the labor. What if I got a mean nurse? What if the doctor insisted on breaking my water or on doing an episiotomy? Basically, Chad and I just didn't want to have to fight the system. We wanted to be fully supported in our birth plan wishes from the get-go. We didn't want to enter the labor process unsure of what kind of birth team we'd have. As we struggled to find a doctor and hospital, I became anxious. Each prenatal visit consisted of fear, uncertainty, and stress.

Sometime in the fifth month of the pregnancy, we met a midwife named Jennifer. I liked her immediately. She was only a few years older than me and had a calm demeanor. She answered our questions with poise and confidence. As we talked and became acquainted, I started feeling hopeful about the idea of a home birth. She practiced out of her home, which was a 100+ year old, two story, cedar sided house on a large shaded lot in the historic part of town. The house had a bedroom / bathroom on the first floor that was her prenatal quarters. Each month we'd have an appointment. Instead of feeling like I was going to the doctor, it was more like visiting a friend. She made us hot tea and sat on the edge of the full size bed while we sat in rocking chairs. We asked questions. She told stories. She listened to our fears and replaced them with knowledge. She gave me confidence in myself as well as in her ability and experience.

After meeting with Jennifer twice, we decided to have our baby at home. Three short months before I had had a casual conversation with an acquaintance who was also pregnant. She told me she was planning to have her baby at home and I remember thinking, "Wow. That's extreme. I wouldn't do that." Chad and I continued seeing an OB incase there were complications that landed us in the hospital after all. The comparison between my OB appointments and my monthly visits to Jennifer's were remarkable. Each time I left the doctor's office I was anxious, irritated, and slightly scared. When I left Jennifer's I felt calm, excited, and uplifted. My OB appointments consisted of waiting a total of around 30 minutes and spending about 10-15 minutes with the doctor / nurse. Appointments with Jennifer lasted at least a hour and centered on conversations and stories. We developed a trusting relationship that I have never felt with a doctor.


tiny duplex = happy times

Last night Chad and I started the massive project of reorganizing our papers. I created new files, while he purged the old ones. We threw away TONS of stuff. We ran across things that made us laugh. He found his driving learner's permit from when he was 15 years old. He didn't want to part with it, so we moved it to the sentiments box. This is a box I have on a book shelve. It is full of sweet things that we don't want to let go. One item is the list of 10 things Chad loves about me, which he gave me when we he proposed. Aww. So now, his learner's permit is amoung the treasures.

We also ran across receipts from all our previous apartments. We sighed when we found record of our very first duplex. We payed $280 a month and the electric bill for that February was under $30. When we compare that to our current mortgage and utility situation we're dumbfounded. We never expected to have this much in five short years. We're thankful, but we also miss the simplicity of that tiny duplex with its 35 year old cinderblock construction. We used to climb onto the roof and drink Mikes Hard Lemonade underneath a huge oak tree that shaded our side of the unit. We watched DVDs with a tiny laptop because we didn't have a tv. The kitchen was so small that the oven and fridge could not be open at the same time. It totally didn't matter though. We were blissfully happy there and when the day came to move out, we were sad.


time, snot & exercise

Very boring post ahead. I've vowed to stop trying make each post a masterpiece, in hopes of writing on a more daily basis. Therefore, you're about to embark on a boring, regular, everyday encounter of my life....

I can't believe it is already February. For that matter, I can't believe it is 2006. The older I get the faster time goes by. Sometimes I panic because the days flip by so quickly. But I guess that means life is good. It is in pain that days drag on and on.

Melody has had a runny nose for over two weeks. She's not sick in any other way. She is definitely teething. Evidence is buckets of drool and constant hand chewing. We've been isolated from our social circle because of the snot. This group of moms is really good about staying away when sick or borderline sick. I apprecaite this and want to respect in the same way. But, I miss the interaction! I think Melody misses it too. Her 7th and 8th tooth just broke through yesterday, so hopefully the snot will stop now.

Yesterday I exercised for the first time in about two months. My friend, Laura, and I went for a brisk walk. Then we did crunches and fire hydrants. (Ouch) It felt really good. Chad found out yesterday that it looks like we'll be going on a four day cruise with his company in mid March. Of course this is great motivation for exercising. The question is... is it enough motivation to actually DO something on a regular basis? I hope so.


paper pile plea

I'm making slow progress in The Land of the Paper Piles. One wouldn't know it by looking in our office room, but there is a method to the chaos. First of all, I've created files for the monthly bills. Credit card, phones, utilities, bank statements, and freelance info. These categories take care of about 75% of the incoming papers. So from here on out, the paper pile should be smaller.

The thing that stumps me is what to do with all the misc papers. Random receipts, EOBs, car repairs, geez, I don't even know what they all are. All I know is, there is a HUGE pile at my feet that I have no idea what to do with. Maybe we're just saving too many documents. What do you save? What do you throw away? How do you file it? How do you keep up? I desperately want to be on top of this area of our lives, and I am closer than ever before, but I still need ideas for the overall system.

Help me... any suggestions?


baby gear goodbyes

Today I gave away several baby items. A lady at church sent an email to the congregation, asking if anyone had baby gear. I guess she's expecting a grandson in a month or so, and they don't have much yet. I gave Melody's swing, bouncy seat and infant car seat. I found the swing at a garage sale, and the other items were given to us. I figured we might as well give it away if someone else needs it, and we can find good deals again when we have another baby someday. (The car seat is already four years old, so it will "expire" in one year.)

As I loaded my station wagon with the stuff, a wave of sentimental memories came over me. I thought back to three hour swing naps, showers with the bouncy seat nearby, and miles and miles of car time with the red & black used car seat. I ran inside the house, grabbed the phone, and called Chad.

"All of the sudden I'm not sure if we should give this stuff away. Do you think we should keep it? Or am I just being sentimental?"

"You didn't like the bouncy seat, remember? Next time we'll buy one that bounces better." With sweet reasoning, Chad suggested we give it away because others need it right now and we won't use it again anytime soon. At least that's the plan.

It seems like everyone around me is having their second baby. I posted about this a few days ago. Since that post, two more people have popped up pregnant. Part of me worries that I'll get left in the dust and be the only mama with just one baby. This is silly, I know... maybe it has do with fear of being left out? But when I truly consider having another baby, I'm not ready. I am enjoying this time with Melody so much. I don't want anything to distract from it. Of course, if we turned up surprise pregnant again, I'd be ecstatic. There's something really different about planning out an event and God just handing it to you unexpectedly.


laptop and headboard

My coffee turned out weak today. I'm drinking from a fun striped starbucks mug from my sister-in-law. She is a good gift-giver. She recently got a job at Starbucks, so we'll be getting free coffee every now and then. (Starbucks employees get a pound of free coffee a week.)

Last week was one of big purchases for me. First I ordered a new Mac!! For months we've been ready to buy a new laptop. When we moved in October we decided to keep our other house as a rental. It took four long months to find a renter. (Lesson: don't put a house on the market in October.) Paying two mortgages was not fun. We waited until we had renters to buy the computer, just to be safe. (Sidenote: our tenants are expecting their first baby. It was hard for me to leave Melody's first nursery, so this news made me happy. I hope they enjoy her aqua blue room.)

I decided to get a 14" iBook. I wanted a laptop because we are limited to dialup internet access at our house. This way, if I have to do heavy duty web photo searching or something like that, I can take the laptop to a wireless place and go crazy. It's also just so fun to have a laptop. For travel, for convenience, and for feeling cool. (Like Carrie Bradshaw.)

The other big purchase was a queen size headboard!!! Chad and I have been very slow in aquiring furniture. It's a foreign world to him. We have a bed. What's the purpose of a headboard? Well, on Saturday we decided to move our bed to a different spot in the room. (He likes to mix things up every few months. I prefer to find the right placement and keep it there, but whatever.) As we were deciding which wall to put the bed on, I sighed and said, "It doesn't matter. Let's just keep it away from the doorway so people in the hallway don't see it. It's ugly."

This is the point when he changed into a different person than my husband. He said, "We can get a headboard if you want."


"Yea, why don't you go buy one today?"


Less than five minutes later I was in my car, on the highway, heading toward Pier 1, with a huge smile plastered to my face. In the midst of my happy dancing thoughts came a question, "What happened to my husband?" I'd never seen this impulsive, nonchalant side of him before. I embraced it, obviously. (It's a good thing he doesn't tell me to buy things more often, because you can see that we'd be in trouble.)

At Pier 1 I picked a dark wood, asain inspired, queen size headboard. It was on sale for $229. It took us over five years to drop $229 on a headboard when we spend that kind of money on other things all the time. For instance, traveling. Three years ago we spent $1200 EACH on plane tickets to Africa. (That was actually a really good deal too.) It's also easy for us to spend money to help others. It feels good and right to send monthly help to the orphans we met in Africa. I'm glad we have deep pockets when it comes to giving.

It was such a different thrill to buy something for myself. As we set up the bed in our room last night I felt like a little girl. Afterward, I spent 2 hours folding laundry, vacuuming dust bunnies, putting away piles of random things, and hanging things on the walls. Typically, our room the one that goes unnoticed. This morning, it was fun to wake up to a clean, happy, furnished room. I made the bed right after I got up. (Unheard of.)

Back to the shopping day. On my drive home from the store, the question returned, "What happened to my husband?" I called him to say I was on my way. He said, "You'll need to use your 5% from the next few freelance jobs to pay for the headboard." Upon hearing his words a smile danced on my lips and contentedly thought, "Ah-ha. There's my husband."

(I use 5% of my freelance income for ME, whether that be toward furniture, decor, clothes, or mochas. It's a great incentive to get more work.)


about being home

We moved four months ago. I'm finally feeling settled in our new house. It takes me forever to get established in a new place. I am not one of those people who has stuff on the walls three days after moving. Try more like a year. It's bad, and I don't know why I'm this way. My mom and her mom are the same though. Those darn genes!

Awhile back I read an article in Real Simple magazine about organization and cleaning. I was mesmerized. The article made so much sense; I don't know why I can't think that way on my own. For instance, it said to keep things in the room where you will use them. So if I'm going to iron in my bedroom, store the iron in that room. Duh. As I unpacked, I followed this rule. Now the packaging tape, craft paper, wrapping paper, gift bags, are all together in the office. I put things together on my desk. It works like a charm.

I'm also figuring out a way to keep things tidy. I realized that Mondays are a good day for me to clean. I've had social interaction all weekend because Chad is home and we hang out with our friends. This makes me content to be home all day on Mondays. (Most weekdays I get stir crazy around 12:30, and I bolt outta the house like it's on fire. It's the curse of being an extrovert.)

So, last Monday I stayed home all day, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. It felt so good. The rest of the week I simply tidied up each day. I love the way the kitchen/breakfast area looks when everything is put away. I have a lone square candle on the round kitchen table. When the room clean, I like the light the candle and enjoy the ambiance. I know, I know... what a thrill. I'm not positive I've found the secret to a clean home, but I think I'm on the right track, and I'm excited about it. When things are clean I have more creative ideas for life in general.

Another thing I'm excited about these days is my new babysitter. She's a college student and she comes over for two hours on Mondays and Wednesdays. I am paying her $6 a hour, plus $3 per trip, because we live about 20 minutes from the campus.

I look forward to this four hours of solace with all my heart. So far, I've been home each time she has been here. I go into the office, close the french doors, and get busy. I pay bills. prepare for my class, email, and get a grip on non-mom stuff. Even paying bills is fun when I can focus. My next huge task is to organize all the papers that have mounded up since 2004. I might have to have a babysitting marathon to get a handle on that project.

Aftering becoming a stay at home mom, I didn't have many problems adjusting to the mom part of the task. I love taking care of Melody's needs. The home part of the job has been harder for me to master. It's been 13 months and I'm finding my groove. It feels good.


my first rainbow

Three of my friends had babies recently. All of them gave birth to their second-borns. Seeing these newbies reminds me of so much. Memories of Melody's first year blur together, forming a colorful timeline in my mind.

When she was brand new I'd panic at the end of each day. Being up with her in the night was tedious. I dreaded the solitary task. The minutes clicked by so slowly as her needs kept my heavy eyelids from rest. Those difficult nights are the blue and purple memories.

Complementing them are brighter colors. These times are numerous and hold angelic hues of yellow and orange. Each day around 10:00am I'd marvel at how wonderful it was to be at home with my baby instead of at work. After working full time for 6 years, being home each day was a surreal change. We would lay side-by-side on the queen size bed. She nursed and I stared at her tiny body so close and warm and light. Occasionally I'd wake up to realize we'd both been asleep for hours, perhaps after one of the hard nights mentioned above. We shared baths, read Jane Austen, went for walks, danced slowly to Sinead O'Connor's, Thank You For Hearing Me, and stared at each other all the time.

I cannot leave out the vague grey memories. These come from foggy, tearful hours of confusion and unrest. It took four months for me to fully accept and realize I was depressed. The magnitude didn't dawn on me until an antidepressant began working. Here is where the greenest, happiest memory lies. Melody was late in her fourth month. One morning I bathed and dressed her. Then, as I held my clean fresh baby close, I sang to her. Somewhere in the middle of the song it came to me; it was the first time I'd ever sung to her. It was in that bright green moment that I knew taking the antidepressant was the right thing to do.

When Melody was nine months, we stopped breast feeding. Although I had misgivings about weaning before 12 months, it was a relief to stop wondering if my milk was enough for her. With this relief, came times of red and pink. I had new energy. My cycle returned and I lost the rest of the pregnancy weight. Melody and I played together more as she grew into an active infant. She loved the bucket swings at the park. String cheese became her favorite snack. She learned to say, "boo!" just like I did. It was also in during this time that I began to rock her to sleep each night. I'd sing and she'd nuzzle close, her head under my chin and her fingers in her mouth. I'd sing, Were You There. At the end of the song I'd add a stanza and sing,

Were you there when He gave me Melody?
Were you there when He gave me Melody?
Oh-oh-oh-oh, sometimes...
It causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when He gave me Melody?

Now she is 13 months old. The other day I started putting sparkly clips in her wispy hair. She wears regular shirts instead of onsies. She shows us news personality traits everyday. Sometimes sneaky. Other times shy. She's even been known to flirt on occasion!

As I am introduced to my friends' newborns, something inside me stirs. I think, "Ahh, so tiny and amazing and perfect," and I wonder if I'm ready for another. I remember the rainbow of Melody's first year. Part of me wants to remain with only one child for another year; to spend each day fully with her. Another part longs and hopes for a new baby to come and bring a new rainbow to my life.