Thursday, November 13

Thursday's Homeschool Activities

Thursday's Activities
We spent the first hour or so of school time creating T-shirts with coloring pages and fabric markers. A.J. made a shirt for Lily of a tree and flowers, including a very nice rainbow flower. This is his fourth shirt. He's getting pretty good at it. I also started a race car shirt for him.

Lily played with crayons and stickers and later washable markers while we worked on the shirts. I think she decorated herself as much as the paper. Also, she kept saying, "Mommy draw!" So, I made a baby and at her request "nanoo baby" (another baby) many more times. Then, a few cats J

Later, we tried the cyclone experiment, an idea we got from Blue's Clues. We filled one 2-L bottle about 2/3 full with water tinted with green food coloring. Then, we duct-taped a second 2-L bottle on top of that one (neck to neck), turned it over, swirled it, and watched the tornado begin as the water swirled from the top bottle to the bottom one. This was great fun for the kids, although it did get a bit leaky.

When Ginny woke up from her wrap nap and needed to nurse (along with Lily, of course), we all moved to the couch, where we often spend the end of our school time, and read from A.J.'s new biology book about cells, etc. After a little while of reading together, he read to himself until school was over and it was time for me to head to work.

Another day gone...Funschool is tomorrow. More stuff on trash and recycling, I believe, although it seems that a lot of people are out sick or otherwise out tomorrow.

Thursday, December 20

The Cat Who Lived: A Tribute to Witch, 1988-2007

This morning, I lost a very dear friend of mine. I mentioned Witch in my previous post. Although her health continued to decline over the past couple of months since the stroke, she continued to eat and drink (although very little at the end) and to enjoy attention until the past day or two. We scheduled euthanasia for this morning, but Witch died on her own sometime in the wee hours before we awoke.

In some sense, I was relieved by this: first, because her suffering was at an end, and second, because I know I would have felt guilty by the decision to euthanize, even though it seemed like the right decision. We euthanized our dog Pooche, who was 16 1/2, in the throws of kidney failure back in 1999, and I agonized and tortured myself over that decision long after it was made.

You might wonder, why the title, when Witch has now passed on. Witch was The Cat Who Lived because she was such a fighter. Every time we thought it was the end, she managed to pull through. You see, six years or so ago, when my son was just a toddler, Witch was diagnosed with feline lymphoma. She underwent surgery and radiation treatments and went into complete remission. In the remainder of her lifespan, we saw no recurrences of the cancer. She had little on and off things, such as infections, and a bit of arthritis, but she always kept plugging. Even after she had the stroke, when we were sure she was almost done for, she managed to stay alive and reasonably happy for four additional months. Our vet called her "amazing" on more than one occasion.

I am eternally grateful to my husband, who kept her close by in his office, endured the smells, and cleaned her and cared for her most of the time while I was busy with the kids.

I'd like to share some of my best memories of Witch, a cat who was near and dear to not just myself, but to many who knew her:

How Witch Came Into Our Lives

When I was 16, I lived at home with my mother, my 25-year old sister, and her small son. One morning, in the wee hours, my sister got up fuming about a loud cat outside on our front porch that had been keeping her awake. She got a glass of water, and fully intending to soak the adult cat on the porch and scare it off, she pulled open the door, arm fully cocked. I was standing behind her when I saw her face instantly change the minute she saw the cute little (loud) black kitten with one lame front paw on the porch: "AWWWWWW!!" She was smitten and so was I. I searched the neighborhood to make sure she didn't belong to anyone, and I was very happy that we were able to keep her and give her a good home. She was my cat from then on, although I was happy to share her with my family and later my husband and children. That day was December 2, 1988.


Witch always did prefer the company of humans to that of other animals, but she would tolerate them when she had to. Among the others that she shared house with that have since gone on include Pooche, our little white mutt; Jessie, one of my sister's cats; and Xander, the first cat/pet that DH and I adopted together. Witch was a sneaky thing who would get behind Pooche, for example, and give her a nip just to show "I really don't like you too much" and then later crawl into bed with her. I guess the warmth was worth sharing a bed with a dog. Her latest, and still living, companions include Bronte kitty and Bucky and Satchel, our long haired young mutts.


When she was young, Witch loved to use her appropriately shaped bum paw as a hockey stick to knock coins off my dresser, one by one, like hocky pucks.

She also used that same paw to play on people's sympathy and beg for food. Nothing like one good kitty paw on your leg and the other gently tapping you, like saying "Look at me, poor kitty; I need food!" You'll never believe how many fell for that one, despite the more than adequate belly.

She loved to go outside and lay in the sun and roll in the dirt. As she was an indoor cat, this was always done supervised and/or on a leash (I met my college roommates on one such outing). In later years, she didn't get to go out as much, partially because if you let her out once, she'd spend the next week sitting at the door yowling, begging to be let out again. That and fear of her getting worms and/or fleas, which did happen on occasion.

We used to spoil her rotten. In college, I often fed her yogurt right off my spoon, and DH would feed her ice cream right off the top of his pint. This kitty loved to eat. At one point, she weighed in at a hefty 17 pounds. We managed to keep her weight a little lower in later years, but she still loved eating.

Witch shared vent duty in our current house with Bucky. In hot summers, Bucky lays up next to the vent to cool off. In winter, the spot belonged to Witch.

In short, Witch was with me a very long time. She put up with my teenage angst, my struggles for identity, and later, a house filling up with kids and other pets. She wasn't always happy about things (and she'd let you know if she wasn't), but she always had a purr for me and a warm presence. We'll miss her very much, and she'll be in my heart forever.

Wednesday, October 3

Feline Calamity

As some of you know, my home is filled with life. Not only do we have two kids; we also have 2 cats, 2 dogs, and 8 or so hermit crabs (you can never tell with them). I have a great bouquet of flowers from a local farm on my table and even a couple of struggling plants in my bedroom (woe to them being in my house!).

The kids are 7 years and almost 11 months old. The dogs are 2 years old. Who knows how old the crabs are? And the cats are 19 and 8 years old.

Let me tell you a little bit about these two cats. My sister and I found Witch on our front porch when I was 16, so many years ago. She was just a tiny kitten with a broken paw that had healed wrong and a mighty voice. We adopted Bronte, a much more laid back cat, many years and a marriage and child later, when a friend moved to Hawaii and couldn't deal with putting her in quarantine.

In the past month or so, things have been starting to look bad for our poor kitties, and I don't know what to do about it other than take one step at a time and hope my heart doesn't simply break.

Witch apparently had a stroke about a month or so ago. She was having trouble walking already, but one morning, DH found her in her bed with vomit and so on. She seemed to be having real troubles this time and couldn't walk or stand up. At the vet, she was so freaked out, he was certain something had gotten to her brain. Later that day, at home, she calmed down, and we adopted a wait and see attitude. The second day, she hardly ate, and we worried. She seemed to be having trouble just orienting her head to get a drink of water. Then, she started eating again and enjoying attention as well, so we waited and just took care of her as best we could. Her orientation was getting better. Then, the other day, a real beam of hope. My husband was down near her bed cleaning up a toilet overflow when she got up and actually walked a few stumbling steps toward him! Maybe she's recovering, maybe not. The most she's done since then is try to get up. Research is slim to none in telling us how to help a cat recover from a possible stroke, especially when she's 19.

Now on to Bronte, a mere 8 years old. I noticed a while back that she seemed to be throwing up a lot, but she's a cat--they do this all the time. Heck, Witch practically made a habit of throwing up for much of her life. However, I realized soon that she was throwing up nearly every single day, so off to the vet we went. He started treating her for irritable bowel, which cats apparently get a lot. No help, and Bronte started eating less and less until she basically is not eating except for a bite here and there. None of the medicines were helping, and an X-ray showed nothing, so today, I hauled the kids to another vet about an hour from home for an ultrasound. Abdominal masses, several of them. We now have an appointment for Friday for possible surgery and biopsy. I have no idea what her prognosis is at this point, but I can't say I'm not worried.

Is it something in the water?

Now, here's the kicker. If this turns out to be lymphoma, which is very likely, this will be the THIRD cat of ours who has had it. Witch first (she recovered after surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation), then Xander (who did not make it after complications after his tumor had cleared up after chemotherapy), and now poor Bronte! I'm a little scared because I wonder if something in our old house or something we brought to this one (we lived in another house when Witch had lymphoma) could be causing this? Is it still here? Is it affecting us? Our dogs? Our kids?

I can only say that I hope not, but the causes of feline lymphoma, outside of feline leukemia virus (ruled out) and cigarette smoke (not a factor), are "obscure," as one site told me.

Anyway, if you're a cat lover like me, please keep Miss Bronte in your thoughts. I hope we can afford to do whatever it is that needs to be done or at least keep her as happy as she can be if there's nothing to be done.

I've been trying so hard to explain this to DS (because he's asked) and hope I am not providing too much information. He seems to want to know, though, and so far, he seems to appreciate honesty from me. To be honest here, I don't know how to fudge it or to "kidify" my explanations to him. He always asks too many questions and ferrets out the details anyway. His birthday is next week; I just hope it isn't ruined by all this. We'll try to highlight the positive as best we can.

Wednesday, September 26

Useless Blogging

Ever notice that unless you are writing a blog totally anonymously, with no one reading it that knows who you REALLY are, they are really kind of useless? For example, what if you had a big fight with DH (I haven't, really; this is just an example) and just wanted to vent and blow off steam through writing? Well, if DH and your friends, family, etc., read your blog, it could cause all sorts of trouble. Not only would DH be even more upset with you, but suddenly, everyone knows your business and has advice for you, even if you never really intended it that way. And when you're not even mad anymore, the BLOG is still out there. Blogs are weird that way.

So, instead of posting a useless rant on some random topic, I'll post a little sunshine in the form of a picture of DD, who is already 10 1/2 months old and walking. We went apple picking today, and she LOVED the little pumpkin patch there!

Isn't she cute??? :)

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Thursday, August 23

Social Substitution

As I watch my kids grow up, I often think about how different they are because of the simple existence of their siblings. For example, DS spent the first 6 years of his life as an only child, whereas DD will have always had her big brother around, from day 1. Their very presence affects each other in so many ways, in effect making them different people than they might have been were they born without siblings or in a different birth order.

So, all this is kind of musingly and affectionately going through my mind, and I think to myself that even if something happened to one of them, their lives would still be forever changed. That got me to feeling sorry for poor Mohinder Suresh, who lost his sister so young in life that he didn't even remember her...wait, I say to myself. Oh, boy. He's not even a real guy! He's a character from NBC's Heroes, of which I was a complete addict last season.

So, my question is this: In this age of separation, where touch is discouraged, fear is prevalent, and most people barely know their neighbors, has TV and other media come in to fill the gaps? Do they fulfill desires we have as humans to connect with other people, to know all the lurid details of their intimate lives, to feel a part of them, to gossip about them, even if they only exist in stories? It's an interesting thought to ponder. Is this new, or have we always done this in one way or another (like in books), even when we were closer with our neighbors?

Tuesday, July 31

A Wonderful Summer Day

First, just wanted to say thanks to those of you that let me know you were reading. It's nice to hear from you and to get feedback :)

Today, the kids and I spent a few hours down at a real, live swimming hole close to the border of our state, about 40 miles from home. We met some other homeschooling families there and really enjoyed ourselves.

Swimming lessons paid off for DS, as he was much more comfortable in the water, walking around with a swim ring and a net, catching tiny fish and kicking around some in the water, completely at ease. This time last year, I couldn't convince him to trust a noodle or such to help him at all.

However, I was having trouble convincing DS not to eat the little tiny fish (1/4 inch long or so) that he caught. He did eat several before I convinced him that they might make him sick (who knows?). At first, when I said it was gross, that just made it more attractive to him. He'd laugh and do it more *sigh*

We did have to be careful because the bottom was rocky and slippery (we remembered to bring our swim shoes--we visited the same place a couple of years ago), and it dropped off suddenly in spots but fun all the same. There were some rocks that you could climb onto and jump off of from 10 feet up or so. I saw a pair of adults doing this (not to mention numerous kids and teens), and they jumped and went pretty far under. Who knows how deep it was there? It just created the ultimate vision of "down-home" summer fun in my head. Memories to last a lifetime.

The only trouble we really had were with DD, although nothing serious. First, I forgot my sling, so I had to carry her around almost the whole time (3 hours). My arm started to get crampy, but when I put her down on the blanket, she'd just try to eat everything (leaves, grass, whatever) that she could get her hands on. Typical for her age (almost 9 months). Also, she developed a rash. This has happened several times over the last 3 days and comes and goes. After doing some Internet research, I think it may be "sun rash." It's more common in folks with pale skin and red hair (that's her). We'll see if it persists.

A good day overall, with a healthy feeling of tiredness at the end!

Sunday, July 29

Anybody Out There?

I like to write, I'll admit, but I wonder if anyone out there is reading this blog. Granted, I don't write much, especially since nowadays my blogging is split among three blogs: this one, my homeschool blog, and my LLLI conference blog.

Well, the conference is all finished, and what an experience it was. (See that blog for more details!)

There's been plenty going on but little time to actually sit at the computer and write. I've been trying to figure out what exactly is going on with DS that makes things so difficult for him socially and "sensorily." Does he fit one of this syndromes or defiicits they talk about, and if so, would having a label help or hinder him? In the meantime, I'm thinking that there are things that can help, label or not.

One thing is I'm going to try to improve the family nutrition one step at a time. First with me, I'm lowering or cutting out the soda altogether. After some time to get used to that, I'll set another goal. Some good ones might be switching over to as many whole grains as possible and adding more good fats (like seafood) into our diets. This will be good for all of us. Wish me luck on getting it done.

If you're out there and hang on my every word (haha), drop a comment here and there. I'm not sure who I'm writing this for, but if it's only for me, I won't feel guilty if I decide to let it go ;)

Tuesday, July 3

Home Gym

You can tell the subject of my last post keeps bugging me...DH and I have ordered a home gym. He got a good bonus this year, so we're using it for the gym (found a good deal through Amazon) and some new furniture. We've both already decided on a commitment to using the gym (1 hour a week for me and 2 for him). It's not much, but it's 100% better than what we've been doing. I figure, even with Lily, I can get in 10 minutes a day to start. I'm tired of feeling like a slug!

Sunday, June 17

Off the Subject...

Okay, so I usually write about motherhood, but I am a little inspired by something else tonight.

I rented a DVD from Netflix that I watched tonight: Baryshnikov Live at Wolftrap. I've always loved "Misha." I remember seeing him with Gregory Hines in White Nights (and added it to my queue to watch again). I also went with my sister to see him live with Twyla Tharp when I was in college oh so long ago. And who could forget his more recent run with Sarah Jessica Parker on Sex and the City?

As a celebrity, he has a certain magnetism, that is true, but to watch him and his partners dance on this particular video just awes me to a certain degree. Not so much the ballet itself--I sometimes find it hard to follow the story line--you gotta spell it out for the wordsmith in me! No, just watching the physical control and prowess that he and his dance partners convey amazes me. You often don't think humans could be so graceful, so eloquent in their body language. I often feel a bit big and clumsy myself and to watch that just inspires me. Could I do that? Well, I'm almost 35 (he was in his 20s in the video), so I doubt it. does inspire me to try my hardest to get back into yoga as soon as I can, though. It's the only physical activity in life in which I felt some grace...and that's saying something! To bring it back around to parenthood, I know I'm not setting a good example on the physical activity side, and that could really use some improvement!

Monday, June 11

Natural Infant Hygiene

We've been learning about Elimination Communication (EC)/Natural Infant Hygiene/Infant Potty Training lately, and I've been trying it with DD (now 7 months old). How I wish I had read about this and been more open to the idea when DS (now 6 1/2 years) had been a baby. I think things could have been different for him in some respects. He still has issues with bedwetting, even now.

I can say that in the search for a good potty training method for DS, nothing ever seemed quite right. Rewards, punishments, praise, encouragement. The closest thing to "working" was just letting whatever happened happen. I was never satisfied and felt like we were always sending him mixed signals in our attempt to teach him what he needed to know. We were all frustrated. He's a very bright kid, but head smarts don't always equal body smarts, especially when we unwittingly "taught" him to go in his diapers. I knew he signaled when he was peeing and pooping as a newborn. I just didn't know I could do anything about it. These signals eventually faded, as I believe, he learned that the place to go was his diaper.

Now, like with anything, some kids can take the changes in stride and say, "Oh, okay, I'm big enough now; time to toss the diapers and use the potty." However, for him it was not as easy, with lots of back and forth. I wonder if EC might have been easier on us all.

However, I also know that parenthood, like life, is a journey. It all started with my decision to breastfeed. Later came the decision to carry/wear my baby, then to cosleep, etc. I don't know if I could have handled any more "new" stuff then. Learning to trust your heart and instincts can be a process, especially when those feelings go against the mainstream. Maybe now is the time, when the idea really resonates with me because of my own experiences with DS.

DD is doing well. We "catch" some and miss others. She's even already dry some nights. When I'm tired or don't feel like I can handle it right now, I put a diaper on her. Just in a month or so of part-time EC, however, she's made her preference known. She fusses as soon as her diaper/training pants/floor she's sitting on is wet and usually fusses when I put a diaper on her. What baby doesn't prefer lots of naked time or at least light clothing in this nice warm summer weather?

Yet another outpost on our family journey together :) On we go...

Thursday, April 26

I Miss My Friends

Well, life goes on in these parts. Things are actually going pretty well, although today I looked at a friend's pictures at a farm with all of these kids I used to see at least once a week. I met these moms and kids (those that had been born at that point) when DS was only 10 months old. The kids are all growing up so fast. I don't think I've seen any of them since December because DD, being 5 months old, is not into regular long car trips (2 hours each way), especially without Mommy to keep her company in the back.

Anyway, going through the pictures made me sad. I feel like I'm missing so much! God, I'm turning into my mother! ;) These women are my tribe, and I just haven't made those kinds of connections since I moved here 3 years ago. Sure, I have made friends, and with some really great people, but just not the same kind of bond that we shared.

I also miss being able to connect with their day-to-day lives. I want to be there to share, laugh, hug, and even give a kick now and then to those who seem to need it, but when you're missing the everyday, you feel like you don't even know what you're talking about when you try to help.

So, anyway, if you're reading, here's a note to my gals:

JH: We'll always have Heroes and Harry Potter, so let's keep talking.

MR: You're stronger than you know. Look at the inside and how much you really shine for yourself and those beautiful kids of yours.

RR: Where did those girls get those tall figures? What happened to their chubby little baby faces? I miss our open, honest chats.

SM: Ditto for your girl! Feel like I haven't seen you in forever!

BB: I can only cross my fingers and hope everything works out well for you. I love you but don't ever know what to say without putting my foot in my mouth.

HH: We miss you, too. Keep sending us emails, even about Bucky!

EH: I can't believe it's almost time for number 4! Take care of yourself!

Tuesday, February 20

A Work in Progress

I have been conversing via email with my midwife, just trying to work through the issues of my labor and birth. She has clarified for me that the main reason she recommended we go to the hospital is that DD had not descended, and she did not believe she was going to. She did not want to risk undue exhaustion and perhaps infection (which can be fatal) by staying home longer. That was helpful for me to know.

There are more issues at hand between us, but that is for us to work out, and I think she was doing what she thought was best. There is really no point in "what could've beens." After all, although there's the chance it could have been better, I acknowledge that it also could have been much worse.

Conversing with my midwife has brought out some issues in in my heart as I wrote to her. I realized they were not really about her, so I decided to write them here:

Three months later, I am happy that whatever happened, DD is a fine and wonderful baby with a very relaxed nature and a beautiful smile. I may not have had wonderful birth experiences (maybe I expected a little too much this go round), but I grow them well and strong! ;) She is a blessing to me in so many ways. The birth is important, but she is much more so. In the end, the days my babies were born were moments that changed my life so much for the better.

I do hope, someday, I can pass some strength on to other women, perhaps as a doula or a childbirth educator, or just as a friend, when their bodies can't or won't or are not allowed to do what they were "designed to do."

That is just a hard thing to come to terms with, that here you can be a mother of two, yet never have experienced that "magical birth." Society doesn't see c-section as a birth, I'm afraid, or maybe it's just in my mind. I don't want to be bitter, but it's so easy to feel like you didn't do what you were meant to do, that you couldn't cut it. It takes a lot of effort to work through all that, and it can be pretty painful (it's painful now but it was much more so in the hormonal aftermath of birth). Without the success of breastfeeding, I'm sure I'd feel like a complete failure with respect to my body's abilities.

I thought I had gotten over that after my miscarriage, but I guess life is always a work in progress.

Tuesday, February 13


My little flower was born November 5. She's already 3 months old. You can imagine how motherhood can keep you busy enough to make blogging difficult. However busy and happy I am being the mother of two (it really is its own identity, you know), it's not really what kept me from writing.

You see, my birth was not the great be-all-and-end-all that I was hoping for. I really am somewhat of a pragmatist so I am surprised that I was so disappointed by what happened.

I'll warn you now that there are some "graphic details" below, so stop now if that bothers you.

My water broke at about 3:30 a.m. Saturday morning, November 4, when I got up to use the bathroom. It was five days past my due date.

After trying to rest for a while, I waited, I walked, I waited, and I walked some more. I called my doula (MW) and the friend that was going to care for DS (RR). They came; they went. I gushed (my body kept producing more fluid to protect the baby). No labor. Some mild contractions, but nothing serious. Sometime late Saturday my midwife started talking about hospitals and getting things ready, just in case. This jump-started me past my reservations for self-intervention. A little intervention was much better than a cesarean, which I tried a cohosh blend in homeopathic form several times. Nothing. I tried a little nipple stimulation. A little but not enough.

The threat of the hospital was becoming more serious by Sunday morning, and I did feel threatened. I knew that walking into the hospital meant another c-section, major surgery, more risks for me and my baby (see my past post on homebirth after cesarean). My midwife had already been in contact with the area hospitals to see who was on call. I had already been reduced to tears more than once. Now, with almost any doctor, I admit, the c-section would have probably been done and gone by this point. They dislike waiting more than 24 hours after the water breaks because of fear of infection (which is actually much greater in the hospital). All the while, I was taking Vitamin C and checking my temperature (for signs of infection) and drinking plenty of fluids. I also kept making more "water" and was constantly leaking.

About 11 a.m. Sunday, as a last resort, I tried nipple stimulation again, with DH's help. Bingo! Before long, I was having contractions hard and fast. They were 30-60 seconds long and about 5 minutes apart. After an hour or so, I called the midwife. RR was already on her way back from 2 hours away to care for DS if we had to go to the hospital.

Yay! My labor continued with no abatements until about 5 or 6 in the evening. I walked all around the main floor of our house between contractions and called out to DH whenever I felt one coming. Then, I held on for dear life and tried not to swear (after all, DS was still around). The dogs couldn't figure out what was happening and even tried to jump on me at first to say, "Hey, Mom, what's going on?" I was laughing at them, at life, and moaning at the same time through the contractions. The pain was rejuvenating. I was so happy; it was almost time!

MW had come in the meantime when I realized that I needed someone to put pressure on my back while I held DH in the front. The hot rice pack she brought was just heavenly, and the counterpressure helped so much.

My labor slowed down a little bit as I started to tire in the evening. It was then we realized that I hadn't really eaten since labor started. While I showered with DH, the midwife and MW made made me a fruit and yogurt smoothie. Shortly after, my midwife said she wanted to check me (do an internal exam) to see how things were progressing. She had tried earlier but had trouble finding my cervix. I sat on the birth ball in my bedroom and leaned back on DH while she checked me between contractions. The news was not good. She said I was just "fingertipping," that my cervix was open less than 1 centimeter.

The pressure to go to the hospital was back. My midwife expressed that in her experience, if labor did not start spontaneously that it was likely to be long and exhausting and irregular. It seemed she was telling us that we needed to go to the hospital now because I would have to go later anyway, and by then, I would be even more exhausted, which could negatively affect the outcomes for both myself and DD. She also wanted to go to the hospital before there were signs of infection, before there was a problem, and before DD or myself was actually in trouble. There was also a "friendly" doctor on call, someone we could trust to receive us without ridiculing us because I had been planning to have my baby at home.

I talked with DH and RR and MW. They all seemed to think that I was okay, and so did I. Everything about my body and my baby felt right. I wanted to rest. I had read frequently about women resting in labor and then doing better later. My midwife did not seem convinced. When DH and I asked her what she thought of letting me rest for a while, she reiterated that she thought it would be a long and exhausting labor; she seemed very concerned about my progress and worried about the chance of infection. She conceded to an hour in the tub, and when I was no further dilated at that point, it seemed we had a choice: go to the hospital or do this without her.

I want to make clear that she never said she would actually leave, but when we asked her straight out, she wouldn't answer us directly. To us, it felt like one and the same. It was from this and from the pressure to go to the hospital what felt like so soon to us that a lot of hurt and anger and disappointment arose in me toward my midwife. I still love her as a friend and respect her, but there are definitely some issues that I hope we can work out between us in time. I would like to remain friends as we were throughout the pregnancy. (She came to the hospital with us and was there until after DD was born, as was MW.)

So, feeling like we had no other choice if we didn't want to go it alone without a birth professional present, we got ready to go to the hospital. I cried, told my son that RR would be staying with him, and called my mother to let her know what was going on. DH called his parents as well. Meanwhile, my labor had picked back up.

The hospital was an hour away, partly up and over a small mountain pass. We followed the midwife and MW. I labored there in the dark beside my husband, grabbing the hand bar since I couldn't hold him through each contraction and grieving for my lost birth experience. My body didn't know that it wasn't going to be able to finish what it started. What had felt exhilarating before now felt futile and pointless.

My experience at the hospital was a bittersweet mix of emotions. I was not myself. I was not feeling polite. I was feeling bitter, angry, and terrified. What I needed most, to have my husband beside me and to hold, they took when they could. He had to fill out paperwork, and no, he couldn't fill it out in my room. He had to get ready to go into the operating room WHILE they took me there first and they administered the spinal. At least he was allowed there during the actual delivery.

The contractions I had during this time were particularly hard. I had to change and get hooked up to the ever-holy monitor. "Oops, don't move during your contractions like that! It makes the belt slip!" How do women do this?

I had to grab onto my midwife and MW when DH was filling out the paperwork, but I needed his solidity. I love my women friends and am glad I was not completely alone, but right then, I needed DH's strength and solidity. I needed to know that I could grab on and squeeze as hard as I could, which I only felt comfortable doing with him. He was my rock. I am fortunate that he was there for me throughout most of the labor.

The doctor came and was very pleasant. Yes, I understood that I would not be allowed to labor anymore, that I would be having a cesarean. He did check me, though, and I was 2 centimeters. I was making some progress, but it didn't matter any more.

The last of the labor took place in the operating room, while they administered the spinal and got me prepped for surgery. I had wondered if they would give me meds to stop the contractions, but they didn't. I thought the contractions were so powerful, enough to disrupt any cutting, but I guess they only feel that way. "This is the last contraction you'll feel."

I was terrified...scared out of my mind. More so than with DS. I knew more about the risks this time. Part of me was very afraid I was going to die, that I was going to leave DS without a mother.

I tried to talk myself out of this state of mind. I was not going to let fear cause a problem that was not already there. I talked to the staff in the operating room as they prepped me. I asked tons of questions and made comments. I let them know I was informed. It helped that the anesthesiologist was in the room humming and impersonating Elvis. My sense of humor was still in my mind enough to notice and be amused.

Then, DH was there, and the surgery began. As with DS, DD was born quickly, and the closing up and suturing is what took longest.

She was born at 11:59 p.m. on November 5. As I requested, the doctor held her up over the barrier for me as soon as she was born so I could see her face as soon as I could. It brings tears to my eyes just to remember that sweet little face above me, mouth wide open in a newborn scream. It made every minute worth it, now and then.

DH stood with her while they did the newborn exam in the operating room as the doctors finished me up. She was healthy and strong at 8 pounds 3 ounces. They held her to me cheek to cheek as I asked; the same as the other hospital did with DS when he was born.

We were now a family of four!

They took us back to the room. Everything was done there; the bath and measurements, etc. I felt fortunate that this hospital had a true rooming-in policy and accommodated as many of my wishes as they could, even when they went against hospital policy, although not all. I had the shakes and terrible itchiness from the anesthesia, but they were just a bother in light of my new beautiful baby. Soon, DD was having her first taste of mama milk, skin-to-skin, and her first bowel movement at the same time. :) My midwife gently cleaned her while I held her and nursed her.

She is and was beautiful. There is nothing I wouldn't have gone through to bring her into this world safe and happy. It's funny how you can be so sad about how something went down and still feel like the result of it was one of the best things to ever happen to you.

Welcome, little bird. You are my flower, my sweet little girl, another sun in my blessed life.

"She is born, and Earth will never be the same."

(from She is Born: A Celebration of Daughers by Virginia Kroll)

The Best of All Worlds, part 2

New mommyhood really scrambles your brain, you know? Even when it's good!

So to finish my thought and inspiration for the title of my last post...

When DS was born 6 years ago, I also had a babymoon, but it was just the three of us. I was a first-time mom in a new state with only one (non-mom) friend nearby. I spent the first 10 months of DS's life with many, many moments of loneliness. After all, as supportive as he was, how could DH ever understand what it was like to be transformed into a 24-hour all-you-can eat bed and breakfast and comfort giver? How could he know what it was like to have your personal identity totally subsumed by another being?

At 10 months, that all changed when I attended my first LLL meeting. I met some other moms; I joined their playgroup. I found my tribe.

So, here I am years later. I moved a couple of hours away from those women for financial reasons, but they are still there for me. They threw me a fabulous blessingway and still think of me often, as I do of them.

Through LLL, I've also met other mothers close by, so even though I am not as close to them, I still don't feel alone.

So, it's the best of all worlds because I have this wonderful babymoon to cherish. I may feel like staying home a lot, but I know that my tribe is out there just a phone call, an email, an IM, or a drive away.

Thanks, gals. You're irreplaceable!