So I had a total meltdown this afternoon. Lately I seem to crumble into tears at least once every week or two. I know this is common for many pregnant women, but I’m not generally a weepy pregnant woman. Usually it happens more when I’m sleep-deprived, but I’ve actually been getting plenty of sleep lately thanks to our lax homeschooling schedule. Today it was triggered by a midwife appointment.
It’s kind of a long story, but I’ll just summarize by saying that my glucose levels have become a bit of a concern. So I’ll be doing the 3-hour glucose test on Wednesday morning. At my appointment, my levels (tested via finger-prick and diabetic test strips) were nerve-racking. My midwife is recommending that I reduce my carb intake even if my 3-hour results come back OK, just to work on eating healthier in general for myself and my baby. She also recommended taking more walks since exercise is one good way to reduce high blood-sugar levels.
I was so relieved that my husband’s car was in the driveway when I arrived home. I was feeling panicky, and I knew having him there would help. Almost as soon as I walked in the door, tears were welling-up in my eyes. I spent the next hour or so texting my sister with tears streaming down my face almost the whole time, and intermittently crying on my husband’s shoulder.
I don’t have a lot of tasks in my morning routine. Get up. Use the bathroom. Drink water. Go into the backyard. Sit in the sunlight. The rest of the morning varies from day to day, but these first five items happen almost without fail.
Some time in the last few weeks, as I basked in the mercifully-cooler-November morning AZ sunshine, with my shirt pulled up above my belly as usual to maximize the skin exposure for vitamin d, I started thinking about how easily light travels through the skin. This is a fact most children given a flashlight are delighted to discover. Earlier today, one of my kids shouted, “Look, Mom, my finger is red,” holding a light behind her fingertip. I’ve noticed that the baby in my womb, if she hadn’t been “awake” yet, usually wakes up and starts wiggling and kicking once I’m outside with my belly in the sun. So I’ve been wondering… what, if any, effect does my daily sun routine have on my baby?
Only you know the truth about your own history, because it is kept within the cellular memory in your body. -Peter Bourquin
February will mark five years since my youngest daughter’s birth. It will also mark five years since I learned that my daughter was very likely sharing my womb with a twin for a brief time. We don’t hear much about the vanishing twin phenomenon, but it’s actually fairly common. It is likely that one out of every ten people is actually a womb twin survivor. And 21-30% of pregnancies that begin with multiple fetuses result in a vanished twin. I didn’t know about my daughter’s twin until a few days after her birth, and until a few days ago my daughter was not consciously aware of him.
It started with a homeschool discussion about how babies are born. We watched some cool YouTube computer animation videos of the conception, pregnancy, and birth process. We looked at some books. I answered the many questions my kids had. One of the diagrams we looked at showed a picture of a placenta. My son wanted to know more about it. This led to pulling out pictures I had taken of his and his younger sister’s placentas. And then pulling the frozen placentas out of the freezer (where they still await a meaningful commemorative tree-planting or something). Then things got a little intense.
About three weeks ago I wrote my first “Five Things for Friday” post. Time for another quintuplet of randomness, I think.
I learned a fun fact about kissing and breastfeeding this past week. Many of you probably saw this on facebook, but I want to share it again here just in case. It’s rare that the word awesome is applied to something that is truly awe-inspiring, but this really is:
Kissing your baby changes your breast milk. Did you know that the undeniable urge to cover your baby in kisses serves a biological purpose? When a mother kisses her baby, she samples the pathogens on baby’s face, which then travel to mom’s lymphatic system. Mom’s body then creates antibodies to fight those pathogens, which baby receives through breast milk. What?! Amazing, right? (quoted from 10 Things You Might Not Know About Breastfeeding)
I learned something similar related to nipples and “baby backwash” a couple of months ago. Katie Hinde, a biologist, associate professor, and blogger at Mammals Suck… Milk! shared these fascinating details with Angela Garbes for her breastmilk post on The Stranger:
According to Hinde, when a baby suckles at its mother’s breast, a vacuum is created. Within that vacuum, the infant’s saliva is sucked back into the mother’s nipple, where receptors in her mammary gland read its signals. . . . If the mammary gland receptors detect the presence of pathogens, they compel the mother’s body to produce antibodies to fight it, and those antibodies travel through breast milk back into the baby’s body, where they target the infection (Source).
Over the past few weeks, I have devoured Peter Gray’s Free to Learn, a book recommended by one of my readers. Gray is a psychology research professor at Boston College, author, blogger, and a parent. I added that last title because parenthood has a huge impact on how people view children and education. This point was made almost humorous in The Homework Myth by Alfie Kohn who cited example after example of teachers who revised their homework policies after their own children began bringing homework home. This particular passage is underlined and surrounded by stars in my copy of Kohn’s book:
“Now that I’m a parent myself,” one fourth grade teacher in North Carolina said, “I realize they have lives at home” (The Homework Myth, p. 23).
Ha ha! I realize they have lives at home. Cracks me up every time. So it was important to me that Free to Learn‘s author Peter Gray was a father himself in addition to being an “expert.” In fact, the first words of his book come straight out of one of his most painful challenges as a father—the day his nine-year-old son told him to “Go to hell” as they sat in the school principal’s office. Gray explained:
We were there to present a united front, to tell Scott in no uncertain terms that he must attend school and must do there whatever he was told by his teachers to do. We each sternly said our piece, and then Scott, looking squarely at us all, said the words that stopped me in my tracks (p. ix).
Both Gray and his wife immediately began to cry, and in that moment they both knew what they had to do. They pulled him out of the school, and “not just from that school but from anything that was anything like that school” (p. x). Free to Learn presents educational history and research through the lens of Gray’s own experience as a father striving to provide his son with a learning environment suited to his needs.
Last Sunday I was talking with a new friend who had her first baby just seven weeks ago. As my kids gathered around, we admired the sweet bundle asleep on her chest. Addressing my oldest daughter, I pouted and said, “I remember when you were that tiny! And I was like I don’t know what I’m doing!” Turning to my new friend, I added, pointing to my oldest daughter, “And look! They still turn out OK!” Seeing my friend starting her path as a mother brought back so many memories. One day you’re just a girl with a belly full of baby, and then BAM… a brand new person is in your arms, and you begin a crash course in motherhood. Tomorrow will mark the twelfth anniversary of my initiation into Mom-life. My first baby is turning twelve. Wha..?!
Here are some pics from my daughter’s first year (from the fat and elaborate scrapbook I somehow had time to make for her but not for any of my other kids… you know, back when people were still scrapbooking with actual printed photos and actual paper… and the photos were taken without a digital camera, and half the roll of film was always out of focus or just bad shots…ha).
The purest thing in the world is the heart of the mother. . . . It can move God. It can move the Universe. It can cause an effect beyond limitation. The heart of the mother is the greatest power of Infinity ever given to any finite being. -Yogi Bhajan, Women’s Camp 1977
Imagine you have an invisible shield surrounding your body, protecting you. And imagine that your newborn baby doesn’t have a shield of her own. Your shield is, in fact, your baby’s shield. Imagine that being within your “bubble of peace” can regulate your baby’s heart rate, temperature, breathing, and keep her immune system functioning optimally. Imagine that you have that kind of power… because you do.
Last March I shared something “new” I learned at my first yoga teacher training class. I put new in quotation marks because the truth is that I already knew it on some level. I felt compelled to keep my babies very close to me for the first years of their lives, and now I’m more grateful than ever that I did. Here’s the “news” I’m referring to:
Hope is a talent like any other. -Storm Jameson
Ever since I learned my baby’s name, I have been slightly obsessed with all things hope-related. Songs about hope, poems about hope, hope art, hope jewelry, hope scriptures, quotes, and t-shirts. I haven’t actually bought anything except a few songs from iTunes, but I have plans to make some art to hang over the co-sleeper we’re planning to make.
Speaking of baby Hope, after a few days of mourning Elijah, I found myself at peace and growing more and more excited to meet this little girl. I think I know who she is and why she is coming to me. Long story. Maybe I will tell it to you some day. What matters now is that she is coming, and she is very grateful, and I am looking forward to meeting her.
Two nights ago I plunged into a place I haven’t been for a long time. It was bitter and angry and full of doubt. It was a place I didn’t want to be, but there I was. As I climbed into bed, over-tired and overwhelmed, the flood of tears returned, drenching my neck and the hair around my ears.
I wasn’t crying because I was having a girl. The real source of my pain was much deeper. Over the past day I had been told story after story after story from friends and family. The evidence mounted quickly that it is quite common for women to have repeated spiritual experiences relating to a specific child only to wait years, often bearing multiple children of the opposite gender (one had fourteen kids by the end!), to finally bear the promised child, or… for some… to heart-breakingly never have the promised baby.
Yesterday I reached 19 weeks. Yesterday was also my 120th day (approximately) since conception, the day the soul becomes fully “connected” to the fetal body in the womb and the woman carrying the child becomes fully the mother of that child, according to Kundalini Yoga tradition. Yesterday was also the day of my ultrasound. It was an intense day.
I told a friend, “I think the ultrasound technician is trying to kill me,” when he was running more than an hour late. I think he was trying to kill a lot of people, actually… my friends and family were dying with the suspense of it all.
I had been anticipating my ultrasound with a potent mix of trepidation, excitement, and dread. People kept saying, “You already know,” or “It’s him.” My kids were already calling the baby Elijah. But I didn’t know. I hoped it was him, but I didn’t know it was him. I had heard more than enough I-thought-I-was-having-a… stories to teach me not to make any assumptions. My 9-year-old daughter said, “God wouldn’t do that to you. It has to be him.” I laughed. I’ve gotten used to blessings disguised as cruel heavenly jokes over the years.
Today I am sixteen weeks pregnant with my fifth baby.
Just a few more weeks before I reach my 120th day of pregnancy.
“On the 120th day, we give our women a blessing and tell them to meditate more, and look toward God, so that they may have very calm, quiet, intelligent, self-creative children.” -Yogi Bhajan
Each pregnancy has come with its unique set of concerns. During my first, I was focused on the upcoming birth and how I would manage the pain. The second pregnancy brought concerns about having a precipitous labor since my first had been less than six hours from start to finish. During my third pregnancy, I had fears about my baby dying in the birth process (it was our first home birth). As I prepared for my fourth birth, my primary fear was that I would need a cesarean, that I had somehow used up my “smooth birth” allotment and was due for a complicated delivery.
In the end, none of my fears panned out. Giving birth to my first baby was smooth and “easier” than I had feared it would be. My second baby came after a long, drawn-out on-again-off-again 24+ hours of (posterior presentation) labor, not the 3-hour birth I had feared. Our third baby arrived alive and kicking (or rather, peeing and pooping on me right away). My fourth birth experience was nearly-painless, and I pushed her out in less than five minutes despite the nuchal hand up over the top of her head. My fears, while very much real, all proved to be unwarranted.
As she looked upon Joey it was as if time would slow down just for the two of them— and now for me as well. His gaze with his mother never broke. It was as if he knew the power of his soulful eyes. He knew one look would melt the heart and remind the spirit of that sacred thread of unity and love. -Buffy Owens, “Not One, Not Two: The Mother-Infant Dyad“
Grandmothers will probably hate me for this one. Sigh. Grandmothers are awesome. I love grandmothers. My apologies for what I’m about to say.
I was attending a mixed-age women’s meeting today, and one of the attendees had brought her newborn infant. Upon request, she stood and showed the roomful of women her new baby. Oooohing and ahhhhing commenced. Then this new mom declared her baby’s name, followed by, “And I love to share if anyone wants to hold him,” to the delight of many eager empty-nester arms in the room. Their eagerness was no surprise. It’s a rare woman who can resist a newborn baby. Apparently that newborn smell lights up the same reward centers of women’s brains as chocolate would (see here). I’ll admit… I even really wanted to hold him, and I’ve never met the mother in my life. But I leaned to my stepmom and whispered, “I don’t like to share.” She smiled and said, “I know.”
I should be working on my Yoga Teacher Training exam and certification packet, but instead I’ve been looking at homes online. And now here I am blogging. We found out that we’ll have to move this summer. 2015 just keeps getting more and more interesting. I feel like everything about my world right now is “in transition.”
I’m finishing up teacher training. Hallelujah. I’m adjusting to a surprise pregnancy. I’m transitioning through some unwelcome anxiety flare-ups and medication dosage adaptations. I’m remembering to take my own advice about minimizing morning sickness (thank you, cucumbers and magnesium). We’re getting geared-up to move. And I’m transitioning to a new prenatal care provider.
Yeah… switching to a new midwife. With my anxiety struggles and the minor chance of difficulties for the baby because of my medication, I had a strong feeling that I couldn’t do another home birth. If only for my anxiety’s sake, I felt it was best to know I would be much closer to a hospital. Instead, I have chosen to give birth at Blossom Birth Center, located across the street from Phoenix Children’s Hospital and five minutes down the street from St. Joseph’s Hospital. In addition, one of the care providers on staff is an OB, and hospital transfers are smooth and seamless because of their strong relationships with doctors and hospital staff. Also, I’ve done hospital births and home births, but I’ve never done a birth center… might as well give it a try.
I’ve now completed six full weekends of Kundalini Yoga Teacher training and nine of my twenty yoga classes. Our certification packages are due May 24, and we’re scheduled to graduate on June 7. So basically I will be spending all of May either in yoga classes or writing essays for our final exam questions. I seriously feel like I’m in college again, cramming at the end of a semester. Good thing I’m a writer, so essays are my thing. Deep breaths (through the nose, of course). I can do this!
The highlight of last weekend was teaching my practicum! I knew I wanted to sign up for one of the first slots, and I knew I wanted it to be early in the day. I was the third student to present, and the first person on Sunday morning. Before I go into detail about the practicum, here are some highlights from my class notes the rest of the weekend.