Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Doula Anyone?

I spent an hour the other day, rubbing my beautiful, pregnant friend's feet.  No joke!  She is past due with her second baby now and I get to be her doula.  What is a doula, you might ask?  The word doula comes from the ancient Greek and means a woman who serves.  Today it refers to a woman who is an attendant to another woman before, during, or after labor and delivery.  Some doulas provide continuous physical and emotional support during labor and others provide emotional and informational support for the mother postpartum.  I have been enthralled with all things pregnancy since I lay awake at night dreaming of who the little person in my belly might be over five years ago.  
Today I have zero desire to push anyone out of my vajayjay, but I can't imagine any job better than that of a doula.  Seriously.  Every woman deserves to have their hand held and hear a gentle voice reminding them that yes, this watermelon will by God's grace, squeeze out of a hole the size of a grapefruit.  Labor is the great common denominator among women.  It doesn't matter if you are forty or nineteen, big boned or built like a stick insect, if your diaper bag is Kate Spade or mass produced by Wal-Mart, we all have to go through it to have a child.  And C-sections are no less terrifying!  Why is staying awake while someone slices through your abdomen ever a good idea?! Look junior, there is a picture of Mommy's small intestine! 
My own birth experiences were not positive ones.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not whining.  After duking it out a round with infertility, I was so overjoyed to have a baby, no matter how she got there! But I sometimes wonder how things might have gone differently if I had a female advocate with me during my deliveries.
With my eldest baby, I was in labor for a whopping 34 hours.  I had read What to Expect When You're Expecting like a dutiful mommy in training.  I attended the marathon 8 hour birthing class that the hospital provided with Hubby.  But trust me when I tell you that no one ever told me that intensely painful contractions could last for more than 24 hours without dilation.  I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy!  After a sleepless night of labor pains, Hubby and I excitedly headed to the hospital ready for a baby.  Unfortunately, I had made zero progress towards said baby and was sent home.  Hours later in excruciating pain we returned only to be told that we were getting nowhere.  Hubby was exhausted and frightened, which fed into my fear of the pain.  I begged for an epidural, but was denied because of my stubborn cervix.  Finally, I caved, and asked for anything they should shoot up my arm to take away the pain.  I got a dose of morphine that allowed me a fitful sleep.  Thirty hours in to my labor, I was finally allowed an epidural.  It worked on half of my body but was a great relief.  Unfortunately, the effects of the morphine had not completely worn off, so when my Savannah was born, I was high as a kite.  
With our second child, I actively sought a doula, but could not afford one at that time.  So I read up on my breathing techniques and hoped for the best.  I got my stamp of approval at the 40 week doctor's appointment for an induction scheduled the following week.  On our way to the hospital I started having some tiny contractions and they increased after I received a gel to help my cervix along.  I was given two hospital grade ambien to help me sleep and I swallowed them, ignoring the little voice inside my head that said, "This could be a bad idea." There was no sleeping.  The next eight to ten hours are a blur that I can not remember.  I remember crying and vomiting, and an intense back pain but that is all.  I knew something was wrong, but I was told to wait until the doctor arrived at 6:30 the next morning.  When she came, she took one look at me and asked for an ultrasound machine.  My baby had turned completely breech since the last prenatal exam and we had been inducing a breech baby all night.  I was whisked into an operating room, and given an epidural.  Again, only half of my body became numb so the anesthesiologist said that I had to be put under.  Hubby had to leave the room and I was out in minutes.  When I woke, everyone, including the medical staff looked shaken.  My baby was very quiet and floppy.  No one would tell me her apgar score.  Hours later, my husband told me that he waited for me outside the operating room for two hours with no word.  Lilah had a bowel movement in her amniotic sac and inhaled it, so they struggled to get her breathing for a long time.  Poor Hubby sweated it out, waiting to hear a cry from our quiet baby, while I slept.  I got the better end of the deal for sure.  
Now I'm not one of those granola mamas who think that labor should be one giant orgasm in a plastic baby pool.   But I do think that an informed female advocate is an asset in the delivery room.   A huge hurdle in labor is the fear factor.  How great would it be to have a calm presence around to reassure you in your hour of need?  It's why we want our mamas when we're sick.  The best medicine is a voice to say, "I know you are hurting, but everything will be alright.  Your body can do this!  It will be over soon." 
In researching doula certification, I found some interesting statistics about the impact of a doula on a woman's delivery.  Here are the numbers from the most recent study I could find. 
* 26% less likely to give birth by cesarean section
* 41% less likely to give birth with vacuum extraction or forceps
* 28% less likely to use any pain medications and
* 33% less likely to be dissatisfied with or negatively rate their birth experience 

Who knows?  Maybe one day soon I will be a real, bonafied, back rubbing, mama hugging, sweet talking doula!  I am just so grateful that for now, my buddy has agreed to let me be a part of one of the most incredible days of her and her husband's lives.  They are great people and I am happy to be along for the ride as the birth day cheerleader. 


Friday, January 20, 2012


Have you ever been in a season of your life that you just know is special?  I have had some amazing friends in my life during stormy seasons and that was an incredible gift.  They have been the flotation device that kept me afloat.  Let me just say THANK YOU to them. But now, I am experiencing something different.  I am enjoying a springy, sunny season, which after the rain, makes me all the more aware of how fortunate we are when we are surrounded by people who really CARE.  This occurred to me the other night at our small group from church.  
I have wanted to join a small group for years, but Hubby was, shall we say...reluctant.  He grew up Macedonian Orthodox and the church group gatherings he remembers always involved loud accordian music, circle dancing, socializing (they even have a bar built into the church- sweet!!) To say that he was feeling a bit out of his element when I dragged him to our first small group meeting is an understatement, friends.  But he soon discovered that we would not be passing out religious tracts or handling rattlers, so he agreed to join.
We recently had separate boys' and girls' nights out (we usually meet as couples at each others houses).  The pictures above are from our night of potluck appetizers, games, and an impromptu baby shower for one of the ladies.  The silliness and immature behavior that went on at this event was just ridiculous...and exactly what we all needed!  The highlight of the night was the river dance stylings of one lady...I will not name names, but she will dance for queso dip.  
Hubby and I are so fortunate to know these people.  God has blessed us that way since we met.  We have always had tough, loyal, (and most importantly) hilarious people to call friends.  I am a firm believer in quality over quantity when it comes to picking friends.  You can shop the happy hour social circle and find slim pickings in the midst of a busy social schedule, but I will pick the three or four great people to hang out with any day of the week.   And twice on Sunday (sorry, always wanted to say that).
If you are not familiar with a small church group A.K.A. community or life group, here's how they work.  We meet for two hours every Wednesday at somebody's house.  We talk about God, our faith, our spiritual walk through life, our hurts and disappointments, our laughter and joy, and our mundane day to day routine.  We pray for each other.  We give advice when needed. We laugh.  We disagree.  We cry.  All stuff that everybody needs.  Because everybody wants to be seen and heard, right?
The girls were sharing our highs and lows the other night (part of our end of the night routine) and I had an AHA! moment.  I watched the expressions on the girls' faces as they were listening to each person share and realized something. They are really listening and they really care!! Not just waiting for their turn to talk and pretending to listen, but listening with big smiles on their faces or frown lines, depending on the story.  And that is GOLDEN.  Don't you think?  That is the difference between superficial friendships and the real deal.  
Everybody deserves to have a group of people that they can call up and ask for help when the going gets rough.  I know I'm a broken record here, but I wish that so deeply for my girls when they are women.  
To my friends near and far, whether you come to my house on a Wednesday night, or you see my kids every day, or you live 600 miles away, I love you.  Thank you!


Friday, January 13, 2012

Kids Say the Funniest Things

Sometimes you just have to make lemonade out of lemons.  I do this with great effort and a lot of resistance.  Let me explain. My mother would be first to tell you that it is not in my nature to be perky.  It is the single reason why I did not make it to the final round of call backs for the Mickey Mouse Club in the early 90's.  What a tragedy!  I made it to the callbacks. Fame and fortune was within my grasp. But alas, I just couldn't muster up enough perkiness to hang with Britney and Justin.  To this day, I sulk very well.  If I'm not enthused, you're gonna hear about it.  There is one thing that has saved me from being a Debby Downer and royal pain in the ass, and that is becoming a parent.  I have always known that becoming a mother made me a much better version of myself.  After all,  it's not their fault if I don't feel well or have PMS and Daddy isn't going to make it home until after bedtime.  
Today has been one of those days.  Daddy is at work, Mama has PMS and feels like a walrus, both kids are home sick from school, and Freddy has been leaping all over us with his typical schnauzer enthusiasm for life.  I'd like to hide in my room, and leave the girls and my furry friend to their own devices, but they look at me with their father's humongous eyes and say, "Pleeeeaaase play with us, Mama!"  
So it's off to the classroom/ living room we go!  Lilah is the teacher today, Miss Gail.  And Savannah and I are the dutiful students.  Strangely enough, our classroom happens to be on an airplane.  Go figure?  I have always prided myself on being a good student (at least during my last 5 years of college) but boy did I get put in my place!  I seem to have forgotten all of the rules.  Right away, I am corrected for not sitting "criss cross apple sauce" (Indian style is no longer PC)!  Next I try to get up to go to the bathroom and Miss Gail clears her throat, while glaring at me.  "Excuse me, buddy, but we do not leave our seat without asking," says Miss Gail. Oops!  So I ask.  
"Oh Lord! You need to raise your hand!" 
I am not making a good impression.
You probably know what's coming next.  I interrupt yet again, and am sent to time out, where I serve my time with a Cabbage Patch student who has been really naughty!  This girl even gets thrown off the time out couch (I gotta find out what's going on at my kid's preschool.  I'm pretty sure that Miss Gail does not throw people though).  Lilah finally got control of her classroom and it looks like I am showing some potential at last!

 This is Miss Gail trying to read to her unruly class.

Here is that loser from the Cabbage Patch who always gets in trouble.

No matter how crappy or tired you might feel, kids have a way of saying stuff that just cracks you up.  Sometimes, I just like to stand outside a room and listen to the girls pretend to be teachers, princesses, doctors, etc.   The best part is that they aren't even trying to be funny! They are just fully committed to their parts.  I think I might be more cheerful if I devoted a little bit of time every day pretending to have a more fabulous, glamorous life!  Just as I've written this, Savannah has visited Disney World and the beach (the water is warm, if you are wondering).  
I will leave you with some amusing Savannah and Lilah sayings:

Savannah- "Weddings, weddings, weddings! Why must I always go to weddings?" She's actually only been to one : )

Lilah- "Mama, you are not a lizard.  You know why?  If I cut your finger off it would not grow back." 

Savannah- "When I grow up, I will marry a prince and then he will die and I will marry another one!"

Lilah- "Am I gorgeous?  Am I famous?"

Savannah- "Watch and learn, my friend.  Watch and learn."

Lilah was wearing my shoes one day and Savannah said, "Those shoes look a little big for you!"  Lilah said, "Yes, I lost some weight."

Savannah (after getting her ears pierced this week)- "Another glorious day to admire my earrings!"

Friday, January 6, 2012

Don't Worry, Be Happy

I chose this image because this is how I feel today.  My cup runneth over. Feels like I could stand on a mountain top and scream, "Thank you!!" Not in a crazy, I'd like to french kiss the world kind of way.  I'm not manic or anything.  Just so joyful.  On most days I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.  I'm not naive, but here's the thing: I don't care how long this great season of my life lasts.  I really don't.  If I'm gone tomorrow, I will would be sad for my babies and my husband, but I would leave knowing that I'd done all of the things I wanted to do and loved the people in my life the way I wanted to.  If you have ever suffered or experienced depression, you know how beautiful this is.  And that is not to say that my life is perfect.  It is certainly filled with the same problems that other people have, and then a few extra, but it is blessed.  I remember a wise minister once listening to me cry in his office because I couldn't seem to get pregnant with our first child (a moment of desperation for a young twenty something Kate) and he said such a profound thing to me.  He said, "God may not give you the happiness that you are looking for.  You may not get what you want.   But, I can promise you that if you ask for it, He will give you real joy and peace."  Aha! Joy and happiness are not the same thing.  Lesson learned!  Happiness seems to be related to the "happenings" in my life.  But I have found joy in the midst of total chaos and tragedy.  And you know what?  As soon as I gave up on negotiating with God for a kid and learned to be "joyful" without one, He gave us Savannah Banana. 
Right now I am loving some basic things in my day to day life.  Lovin' my new mix CD. Nothing gets me going like a brand spankin' new CD.  I heard recently that a study has shown that a favorite song affects the same part of your brain as sexual stimulation! Crazy, right?  Look out, hubby!
The crazy stuff my kids say makes me so happy, but that's a whole other post.  Today, my three year old said, "Mama, I want Maria to come to our house for a play date (her new friend from school).  I like Maria because she's a girl.  Boys are just like zombies, aren't they mama?"  Everything Lilah says is so funny because her "r's" always come out like "w's".  Try being mad at someone who can't pronounce their "r's"! It's like trying to keep a serious look on your face while having a conversation with the priest from "Princess Bride".  
Holding babies at Jazzercise makes me giddy.  I previously mentioned that I work for free for an hour a week.  It's supposed to be babysitting in the nursery for a free Jazzercise membership, but turns out I don't actually exercise, so it's workin' for free.  Why don't I quit? I guess I just love rocking those tiny babies for an hour.  There are two that show up every week that have been coming since they were five weeks old.  I cuddle with them and talk to them while their moms work off that pregnancy weight.  Just looking at them makes my uterus contract.  And the beauty of it is that I get to go home after an hour without the leaky boobs!  
Catching up with my friends and telling funny, inappropriate stories makes me happy.  I have friends all over the United States and it doesn't matter if we talk every day or once a month, or even twice a year.   The best kinds of friends are those who share a history with you and get you.  Those are the people that you can pick right up with where you left off.  They don't require "image control".  I don't have to filter myself or try to say the right things so they'll like me.  Every woman should have one or two of these people to call friends.  
If I leave my kids with one lesson, it's to take pleasure in the details.  It's something that you have to learn (it may be an arduous process for the slow people like yours truly).  I had to get knocked over the head a lot before I figured that one out.  
These days I don't have a clue what tomorrow will bring and I don't care.  I just know that I won't go to my grave wishing that I had worried more.
Remind me of that tomorrow, okay?


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tune In!

What are you listening to these days?  I ask because I recently had a radio related crisis.  Yes, a crisis.  You see, when I told people that I was moving to an area near Athens, GA, all I heard about was the music scene.  Athens is the birthplace of REM!  Athens is the home of the B52's!  The list goes on.  Athens has been a mecca of alternative rock and literally hundreds of indie bands since the 1950's.  Quite an impressive history to a music lover like me.  But as much as I would love to explore the live music scene these days, it ain't happening.  
When you have a three year old and a five year old, an exciting, culture filled evening out is a trip to the Cinebar.  Don't get me wrong, I love this season of my life!  I could not be more fulfilled than I am right now, but this lady is not going to be exploring the Athens' nightlife anytime soon. 
As a "homemaker" (barf- I hate that word), I spend at least half of my day driving, toting people to and from schools and activities.  Music makes these miles bearable, even enjoyable! So you can understand my disappointment when I found not-a-one good radio station in Athens, the place where music is supposed to be alive and well.  I tirelessly scanned the radio waves, looking for something...anything...original.  I was looking to feed my soul and instead I got a steady diet of junky, bubble gum pop, crammed down my throat, reeking of big corporations.  You know the stuff, the kind of mass produced crap that runs the same 40 songs on autopilot.   These stations are exactly the same from state to state, and clearly appeal to the under 30 audience, which makes sense when you live in a college town.  But what about the rest of us geezers? Why should I be subjected to Pink, Rihanna, Lady G, and Maroon 5 ALL DAY LONG?  I started playing this game with myself where I would randomly switch my auto programmed stations to see if I could catch a song playing on two stations at once.   I won... A LOT!
Then a miracle occurred!  I found 92.9 DAVE FM after living here for almost six months.  It was as if the heavens opened.  Hallelujah!  A real, live radio station that rarely repeats itself and amuses me with hundreds of songs from different decades that I would actually like to remember!  My soul soared as the sounds of Van Morrison, Mayer Hawthorne, Ryan Adams, The Black Crowes, The Police, and Bob Marley washed over me.  
I know that I am perched on a soapbox here.  I believe that great music can work miracles.  It can make a soccer mom or "homemaker" feel sexy and subversive.  It can literally boost your immune system.  It can make you laugh and shock you!  It can transport you back to a beautiful season of your life.  It can give you a sweet moment with someone you love.  It can help to heal a broken relationship.  Need I say more?
Next time you are in the car, check out the stations lurking below the 96.0 mark on your dial.  That's where the good ones always seem to be hiding.   And don't forget to sing along loudly! 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

Here's hoping that you rang in the new year with love, laughter, and some good company.  We did in my house.  It was good to be back in our neck of the woods after the traditional Christmas in the mountains with my parents.  I may be easy to please (and a cheap date for sure) but we had a ball this holiday weekend.  We played outside all morning with the kids (in t-shirts and jeans!) and enjoyed the unseasonably warm weather.  Then I retreated back to bed and read a deliciously trashy novel for about an hour (on my Kindle!) before making a trip to Walmart (childless!) to pick up groceries for our New Year's Eve dinner.  I was in good spirits! Never mind that I didn't make it into the store before witnessing the first incident of child abuse in the parking lot (it's Walmart, after all).  
Nothing could dampen my mood with a Rachel Ray cookbook in hand.  One of my resolutions is to cook more and better.  After fighting through the unwashed masses, I came home and whipped up her "pasta with a lot of mussel" recipe.  It was outrageously good!  Rule #1 about cooking: You can never have too much white wine in a pasta sauce.  Hubby and I fed the girls early so we could converse like adults during our meal.  We bribed them with Justin Beiber videos to sit quietly and leave us alone (I will not be shamed by this).  We ate our feast and drank $3 champagne (I honestly can't tell the difference).
Then the girls had an hour long bath in our giant bath tub and sadly crept off to bed.  Lilah actually said, "You're breakin' my heart!" when I took her shriveled body out of the tub.  Once they were asleep, Mama and Daddy put on the BIG PEOPLE TV shows!  Like I said, it doesn't take much these days.  Since I loathe the syrupy sweet TV hosts covering the ball drop on the major networks (why are they all tangerine colored?!), we decided to watch a stand up comedy marathon.  First it was a Russell Peters special, then a stand up routine by my new favorite, Patton Oswalt.  My brother recently turned me on to his comedy and any time I don't have kids in the car with me I am laughing my butt off in the car listening to his CD.  His newest set is on Showtime- you can look it up if you have On Demand through Comcast. He is currently in the film, "Young Adult" with Charlize Theron, and used to be a commentator on VH1 before he got fired for being too inappropriate.  
I am thirty three years old and I swear that I have never laughed as hard as I did last night.  I actually had tears streaming down my face for the better part of an hour from my hysterical laughter!  Hubby was laughing too but at me, not the show.   
Disclaimer: It very well could have been the Walmart champagne that made me laugh so hard.  You will have to judge for yourself.  If you check him out on youtube, look up his bit on KFC- one of my favorites. 

Ok, so the fun of ringing in 2012 is over.  Time to get down to business.  Here are the resolutions for moi.  Drum roll...
1.) Cook wonderful tasting food for myself and my family (hence the cookbook).  Pizza may be served ONCE a week.
2.) Actually show up to Jazzercise to work out.  Have been working in the nursery for a free membership (that I have never actually used).  
3.) Wear makeup for occasions other than church on Sundays.  Oh, and remove it at the end of the day, not when I look like a raccoon 24 hours later. 
4.) Actually GO to church.
5.) Read the Bible a bit every day.  It's so easy with a Kindle and I ALWAYS find what I'm looking for in it.
6.) Kiss my husband more.  He's pretty darn good at it!   

I know that some people think that New Year's resolutions are pointless, but I refuse to be that cynical.  I like the idea of trying to be a better version of myself, regardless of the fact that I will surely fail.
Winston Churchill said it best.  "Never, never, never give up."  So I will keep plugging away and I'm hoping to be pretty fabulous by the year 2032.  Happy New Year!