Six Things for Sunday: 27 Weeks Edition

February 4, 2018 at 7:18 pm

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#1 SPD Update

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about my late-pregnancy nemesis, Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD). As pregnancy hormones relax the pelvis, sometimes they work a little too well on the pelvic joints and things spread out more than they should. Having an “abnormal gap” in the symphysis pubis joint becomes more common the more pregnancies a woman has. During my 5th pregnancy, I had horrible SPD pain, and a few weeks ago I started noticing some twinges as I move into the third trimester of my 6th pregnancy. In my blogpost, I shared some things I was planning to try to keep the SPD away or at least minimal. Below I’ll share a few notes about each now that some time has passed.

Poems for the Empty Womb in my Future

January 29, 2018 at 2:35 pm

Tomorrow I will be 26 weeks, right on the cusp of the third trimester. Yesterday I realized that, if this baby comes at 38 weeks like my last one, I only have twelve weeks left to prepare. I also realized that those fleeting weeks are all the time I have left to cradle this baby within my body, to fulfill all of my child’s needs effortlessly, to feel his tiny body slide and turn and nudge, to have a oneness with another soul unlike anything else on earth. This could very well be the last time. The thought fills me with both a sense of closure and gratitude as well as a crushing, devastating grief.

Six years ago, we published The Gift of Giving Life. One of the stories we included was from a woman born in the mid-fifties, during the nightmarish “twilight sleep” era. She watched birth transform over the decades. Her mother was a nurse, and she became a nurse herself, spending years attending women in childbirth as well as birthing her own babies. I’ve always loved this passage from her story:

I had the privilege of bearing nine children, which to many seems like a lot. But to me that is only a few precious times to experience such a glorious thing as birth. If a person likes to ski, it would not seem excessive to ski a dozen or more times in their life. Most women are able to experience birth just a very few times; all the more reason to be careful about creating the best birth possible (Velinda Mitchell, p. 46).

Hope’s Backstory

January 15, 2018 at 3:16 pm

For two years I’ve thought about writing this post. For two years I haven’t felt ready to do it. I suppose, like Mary, I have “kept all these things and pondered them in my heart.” Today I feel ready.

 

This morning, I awoke as I usually do, with a wiggly blonde toddler named Hope next to me, her still-drowsy voice piercing my sleep, “Mommy… Mommy…” She slid her body on top of mine, no small feat with my growing 24-week-pregnant belly. I gently moved her to my other side, her head nestled in the crook of my arm, pulled her close, and kissed her nose. While I looked at her face, her cheeks still round with lingering baby fat, she scratched at something on her chin. I kissed her cheek. She smiled. In my mind, I silently but feelingly prayed:

Thank you, God, for sending her to me. Thank you. Thank you.

Our Progenity Test Results

October 30, 2017 at 6:28 pm

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When we found out my 5th baby was a girl, I couldn’t contain the tears. Grief bubbled up from the depths of my heart and oozed in salty trickles down my face. As soon as I was able, I retreated to my bedroom and sobbed. Wailed. The force of my grief stunned me.  But it was raw, and it was real.

At the time, my six-year-old son asked, “Why are you crying, Mom?” The jumble inside of me felt so complex that I had no words that could adequately do it justice, but my attempt to give him the decency of a response came out: “Because I wanted to meet Elijah.”

Will My Baby Have Down Syndrome?

October 23, 2017 at 5:28 pm

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I was lying in bed one morning with my eyes closed. It was a couple of months ago, but I can’t remember if I knew I was pregnant yet. Somewhere in that place between sleep and waking, I saw the face of a child with Down syndrome. When I fully awoke a few moments later, I felt a torrent of thoughts and questions about that image enter my mind. Was it a spiritual message? Would I be giving birth to a child with Down syndrome? Or was it just a random flash of a meaningless dream?

Splitting the Sky

June 4, 2017 at 10:18 pm

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Two summers ago, my wonderful friend Amber asked if she could interview me for a project she was working on. At the time I was on vacation, visiting my family for the summer, and I was newly pregnant with my 5th baby. Amber and Camlyn came to my dad’s house and set up their cameras and sound equipment. They asked me excellent questions, and I did a lot of crying in front of the camera. Ha.

Hope’s Birth: Sadness and Surrender

January 6, 2016 at 12:32 am

[The first part of Hope’s birth story is HERE.]

As I wrote in the first installment of this story, giving birth is such a multi-layered experience. And what a woman is feeling has such a deep impact on how the birth unfolds. With that in mind, I can’t really give the full scope of what I went through with Hope’s birth without sharing some deep emotional upheaval I experienced a week before. In my last post I shared one layer of my pre-birth emotional state: fear about letting my baby come out. Today I’ll make Brené Brown proud with some hard-core vulnerability and share another layer.

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Grieving Her Lost Twin

November 2, 2015 at 3:00 am

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.

What Hope Really Is

August 23, 2015 at 12:35 am

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.

How adorable is this (from Etsy)

How adorable is this (from Etsy)

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.

Making Him Real, Letting Him Go

August 14, 2015 at 8:09 pm

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.

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Painting by: Victoria Dizon

Surrender, part 7

August 13, 2015 at 1:59 am

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.IMG_2931

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.

My Grandmother’s Womb Trauma

July 31, 2015 at 7:24 pm

Last January, while I was attending my therapeutic imagery facilitator training, my mother was babysitting my kids. On the second evening, we had a powerful conversation after I practiced the Special Place journey with her. Something about the journey allowed her to open up emotionally in a way she usually doesn’t. At that time she shared a revelation about her mother, a missing piece, that made so many other things make sense. A part of me was hesitant to share this post, wondering if the information was better kept private. But then I thought of Brené Brown’s words about shame:

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The Witch in My Family Tree

June 24, 2015 at 7:38 pm

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction. -James 1:27

When I was about ten years old, my stepmom, eager to share her love of literature, gave me a copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare (1959 Newbery Medal winner). It has remained one of my favorite books ever since. Something about the story and its characters has always called to me on a deep level.

witchofblackbirdpondHannah Tupper, one of the book’s main characters, is an elderly Quaker widow who has been ostracized and rumored to be a witch by the Puritan community she lives among. Toward the end of the book, the townspeople, looking for someone to blame for a fever outbreak, come after Hannah, intent on harm. I won’t spoil any more details, but it’s a beautiful book that I highly recommend.

Around the same time I received the book, we went with my stepmom and dad to visit the Salem Witch Museum. I remember standing in a dark room with period-costumed mannequins where a loud speaker told the stories of some of the women and girls who had been killed for supposed witchcraft. All of this talk about “real” witches was new to me.

Several weeks ago I learned something about my family history that helped me understand perhaps why The Witch of Blackbird Pond had struck a chord in my soul. I am a direct descendant of Margaret Stephenson Scott, hanged as a witch in the Salem Witch Trials on September 22, 1692. Margaret Scott was my 9th great-grandmother on my mother’s side.

Buried Treasure

October 10, 2014 at 7:42 pm

I wanted to be healed. I wanted to be calm and happy without medication. I wanted to meet the baby who had been visiting me in dreams and visions. I was on a trajectory of hope, aiming for a future I believed was right for me. When it all came crashing down, there was no sense in reaching for that hoped-for life any longer. All I could reach for was getting through another day, and another, and another.

Fortunately, I’m no longer in survival mode. I’m not fighting tooth and nail to get through the day. When I do still have anxiety, it is mild and manageable. I am finally beyond the insomnia that plagued me for months. I’m sleeping without sleep-aids! Most of the time I can genuinely smile. I can take care of my family. I’ve regained my appetite. All of these things are huge victories.

But now that I have the energy to do more than just survive, I also have the energy to look to the future. Assuming that my medication continues to work for me, I will continue to take it… probably forever. I come from a family riddled with mental illness. Most of the members of my immediate family are taking (and always will be taking) meds for those illnesses. I am certainly in good company. But I wish it weren’t so. I wanted a future without medication, and it’s been painful to accept the future I’m looking at instead.

Be What You Are

September 21, 2014 at 10:27 pm

I haven’t spent much time online in the past five months. Except for checking email, blogging, and getting on facebook to share my posts and occasionally beg for prayers, I have mostly avoided the Internet. Pretty much everything online exacerbated my anxiety, so it was a necessity to insulate myself.

Now that the benzos are out of my system, it’s amazing how much better I feel. Yay! Note to self: your body and benzos are a bad (bad, bad, bad, bad) mix. Shudder. Anyway… now that I’m feeling better, I’ve been spending (i.e. wasting) more time online. And I started noticing something: I have a bone to pick with the world.

Pinterest world, you’re one of the worst offenders. I kind of want to scream every time I see pins like this:

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