Monday, November 14, 2016

TO THE MAMA WHO FEELS INVISIBLE



Hey Mama,

I see you.

I see you cooking dinner with a screaming toddler wrapped around your leg, two older kids racing around the house swinging wildly between playing and fighting.  I see that your nerves are fraying and it's late, but you have to get something on the table.  You worked magic with your grocery budget to be able give healthy foods to your kids, only to have them turn their noses up to this meal cooked with sheer determination.

I see you in the middle of the night, bone-tired, yet up again, nourishing, comforting, soothing.  You are on the battlefield of weariness, mama, and it's a lonely one in the wee hours of the night.  No one knows or really even cares that you got up 2, 3, 6, 10 times last night, but you did.  Or that you haven't had a full nights sleep for years, but you haven't.  There are no cheerleaders here.  There is no mercy. But you are fierce, mama.  As fierce as they come.  Love is a powerful, powerful thing.

I see you use all your might not to hit back, when a raging toddler pushes you to your limits.  I see the strength that takes even though you feel like you're a failure for even wanting to hit back.  You are strong and maybe that self-control only lasted as far as your fists, while your mouth lashed out.  But you are still strong.

I see your weary eyes brighten for one more word of encouragement, your tired arms squeeze a little body tight in love.  I see you apologize for your wrongs, teaching forgiveness by example.

I see you, mama, when your husband looks through you like you are glass.  He doesn't understand what all these nights awake can do to a person, how the never-ending stream of requests and tantrums and laundry can dull your spirit.  He says he misses you.  He can't understand that you miss you too. I see you notice that he doesn't see you anymore.  That he's checking his email and thinking about work before even rolling over to say good morning.  I see how that stings.

I see that you feel invisible.  This is one of the most surprising things about motherhood.  Friends, family fawn over your little one, but never see you.  Really see you.  Rarely ask how you are doing, because they seem to forget that you're still a person too.  I see you wishing that someone, anyone would ask about the state of your heart.  Or anything ANYTHING about you aside from your kids.

I see you eating peanut butter on soft bread because it is the only thing to soothe the jagged edges of yourself some days.  Salad simply will not do.  Sometimes peanut butter on soft bread is actually kindness to yourself.

I see your dreams.  Maybe they are close or maybe far away, but always seeming to take second place to making dinner, changing diapers, loving littles.  I see you day after day think, "I'll get to that tonight," and then crash after a hard day unable to do any more.  A dream deferred for one more day. I see that day become years and, though you love being a mom, I see bitterness creep in.  I see that there are parts of you that are mighty, but squandered.  I see you lose sight of yourself.  Lose a little bit of hope.

I see you lock yourself in the bathroom for two minutes to be alone...if you can call alone having a small child screaming 6 inches on the other side of the door.

I see you hiding. First it's in the bathroom from your kids, then it's from friends, and eventually from yourself.  That invisibility thing that so surprised you about motherhood becomes a cloak that you wear with relish.  It becomes a safe place, only it's not a safe place because it's not a real place.  And the minute a dear soul looks at you and you know that she sees you, like really sees you, you crumble. You've been found out and it feels embarrassing and freeing at the same time.

I see you triage your days like a master.  You are the queen of efficiency at food prep, packing lunches, bathing kids.  I see you manage fights and scrapes and schedules like a champ.  And though you can mom with the best of them, I see you growing weary of the hamster wheel.

I see your messy house.  It is full of love and growth, but keeping it clean seems to take an army that you don't have.  You remember how your house used to be clean, and everything in it's place.  This kind of mess takes a new kind of grit and stamina to endure. I see you cleaning the kitchen while the baby unravels the toilet paper, the 4 year old spills his drink, and the 7 year old decides your carpet would look better with glitter.   I see you shy away from inviting anyone in, but I also see that their house is just as messy as yours.

I see you in yesterdays clothes, sacrificing your body, your sleep, your self, because there is a love greater than these.  I see your tiny ones gazing at you with utter love because you are their world and their light.  You are doing a good job, mama.  I see you holding them close and letting them go.

I see you sneaking in their rooms at night, kissing their sweet faces, smelling their sweet heads, praying that you are raising them well and that they will know how very loved they are.  I see you making decisions that seem way above your pay grade.  What's best for their bodies, their brains, their souls?  It's so scary, but you care so much that there isn't a option for not making a choice.

I see you working so hard every day, but feeling like you haven't accomplished anything. Productivity in a traditional sense left the building the moment your first child was born. I see you trying to form a new definition of success, and I see the world trying to still fit you in the old one.  Neither they, nor you will ever be appeased if you keep looking at each other, without seeing.

I see you in the shopping center when your child has a melt down.  I see the eyes on you...some of pity, some of judgement, some of solidarity. I see you tremble as you try to remain calm in this moment and not have a melt down yourself. You are amazing, mama. Have I told you that?

I see the pride and joy in your eyes when you see your little one...or even just talk about her.  I see you light up because they are beautiful human beings, and you were a co-creator in a miracle. I see you guiding their hearts to be kind and generous and courageous. I see you changing the world in this way.

I see you, mama.  I see you doing hard things in the name of love.  You are not invisible and you are not alone.

I see you.







Friday, October 7, 2016

tiny sphere



I've been quiet here.  I think we've just been trying to find a new rhythm with school starting back up. Having one in elementary school, one in preschool, and a baby means lots of juggling schedules and a lot of transition in most of our days.  We've just been trying to hang on for dear life, and put some systems in place that will keep the peace (if that's even a thing for families with little ones).

I'm head down over here.  Transitioning myself to a world that seemed to shrink over night with the starting of school and a baby needing to nap smack in the middle of that time.  We stick close to home most days which is a huge change for me.  My sphere of influence feels immediately under our roof.

I'm learning the art of staying home.  Not "staying at home" as in being a stay-at-home mom, but literally staying home.  Not going anywhere.  Not trying to fill our time and days with playdates and outings simply to keep busy.  Focusing on our home and learning how to manage it better and more consistently.  Focusing on actually getting on the floor and playing with my kids, and not allowing the to-do list to hijack the entire day.   More days end than I'd like to admit with me sneaking in their rooms to tuck them into covers that have been kicked off and staring at their sleeping, squishy faces wishing I'd been more present with them that day.  Did I look them in the eye enough when they had a question or wanted to tell me something?  Did I give the impression that I was too busy for them?  Did they feel loved?

Tell me you do this too??  I simply cannot wait for them all to be asleep and for the "Mom!, Mom!, Mom!'s" to stop, and then all I want to do is go in and soak up their sleeping angelic faces.  Gosh, I love them. And I seem to remember and feel that a lot more when no one's fighting, throwing a tantrum,  or whining about what I made for dinner.  

My oldest just started first grade this year, and I'm sitting here watching the lightbulb of self-awareness flicker on.  For the first time, she's realizing that she will be evaluated and judged in school. Tests have started, and a subsequent realization that somehow her score is a reflection of her value and that top scores are highly regarded.  Even her pediatrician asked her if she makes good grades. Geez.  I'm sitting here wondering, "Can't she just be kid for a little longer?"  She seems so young, so not ready to bear the weight of this inevitable pressure.   So, I let her make clothes for her dolls out of her socks and underwear, just because designing is her jam...and I order her some more when I realize she has none left and the shoes she's worn sock-less smell like a frog crawled in there and died.  But hey, all in the name of artistic expression, right?  She spends more time upside down than right side up, honing her gymnastics moves, and I cheer her on, regardless of the fact that she's probably going to be 6 feet tall when she's grown.   She will face enough naysayers in her life.  I don't have to be one too.

My middle somehow grew when I wasn't looking.  He still feels baby to me, but he's almost 5.  I feel like I missed the whole last year with him.  It's all a sleep-deprived blur and somewhere in there he started writing his name and throwing a mean spiral.  His favorite questions are, "Does this look scary?  Is this dangerous?" He's all guts and glory, but with a deep need for belonging and connection.  An insatiable need for belonging and connection.  I'm busy loving on him and trying not to flip my lid when he flips his.  He is big and bold with his emotions (kind of like his mama), but his heart is golden and generous and often surprising.

My little demands our attention.  She's feisty and fierce and makes her presence known.  The root of her name means persistence, and she definitely lives up to that.  She may not be walking yet at 15 months, but she gets around faster than a speeding bullet and climbs everything she can.  Lately, her communication seems to have exploded, and I see her wheels turning, figuring out everything around her.  She lights up when she sees us, calling out the truth and beauty in each one of us.  She is the arc in our family...the little bit that encloses the circle and brings us all back around to ourselves.

These kids.  They've wrecked my life for the better.

Sometimes...often...I want more.  I want God to call me to do something great.  I often need to be reminded that raising these tiny humans is something great.  Like the prophet Isaiah, I want to say, "Here I am!  Send me!"  And as those words leave my lips, God replies, "But will you stay?"  Is it that "here I am" for me means not that I will go, but rather that I will stay and be fully present in this moment.  Here I am in this most important moment with these most important tiny humans.  One day they will grow into big humans.  One day, my tiny sphere of influence, my three littles, will reach out into a big, bad world and hopefully be a beacon of light.  Hopefully, they will be kind and courageous men and women.

For now, we will practice the art of staying home, of loving each other even when it's hard, of celebrating our sameness and our differences, and of laughing a lot.

Mamas, we are called to this beautiful, sticky mess every single day and bravery in that is to simply keep showing up.  Keep making the lunches and kissing the owies and juggling the schedule and cheering on silliness and wiping bottoms and breaking up fights and giving encouragement and being present.  Keep showing up, and our tiny sphere will become the greatest work of our lives.



Every day is a little life, and our whole life is but a day repeated. 
~Joseph Hall













Friday, August 19, 2016

anyone want to retreat with me?




I heard this quote recently,

"God's truth comes to us a second after we've asked for it and a second before we second-guess His voice."  

Um, do you second-guess like I do?  All I ever do is second guess!  He practically has to kick me in the shins to get me to listen.   I've been feeling some things lately.  Who am I kidding, I feel ALL THE THINGS.  Feeling Him tug on my heartstrings a little bit, asking me to give and serve out of the ways I'm created uniquely me.  Ways I'm created that I don't give enough credit or importance because sometimes I don't realize that not everyone else thinks or breathes or loves the same way I do.  I just assume we are all the same, but we are not.  I need you and you need me and we definitely need that quiet gal over in the corner with a rich inner life and much to share.

One thing that trips me up is that I'm good at a lot of things.  I'm a really hard worker, and I can succeed at almost anything I put my mind to.  It's a blessing and a curse, because essentially I'm a jack of all trades and a master of none.  I always wanted to have that one thing that people identified with me.  One thing that I excelled at and that was undeniably a part of my heart.  One thing I felt called to do.

A few years ago, during a meeting, we had an ice breaker questions asking essentially, "If you could do anything as a career, what would you do?"  I've always struggled with this question because I don't seem to fit neatly in a box.  In college, I poured over the catalog for majors, never finding one that I felt really represented me or anything I wanted to do.  I didn't really know what I was looking for, but I knew I didn't want to be a business person or a lawyer or an engineer.  I actually had no idea who I was and what makes me tick in college, and here I was trying to figure out my future.

So, when this question was asked at that meeting 15 years later, I was surprised at what came out of my mouth.  Here's what literally fell out of me, "I want to be a place and create a space that women come to for refreshing, for healing, for encouragement, and for edification." What that means, I have no idea, but I'm trying to live out of the truest bits of me and here's what I know for sure...here are my missions in life as an individual (outside of being a wife and a mom).

First, I am created to be a champion of women.  I am created to encourage, to lift up and refresh the women in my life and my sphere.  I am created to love on them and show them how they are beautiful and neither too much or not enough.

Second, coming out of the first one, I also feel a deep responsibility to normalize our experiences as women through vulnerability.  I want to share the things that you're afraid to, so that you see that you're not the only one or weird or alone.  I want you to say, "Me too," or "I didn't know anyone else felt that way," and because of that walk a little taller, feel a little more supported, and tell a little bit more of your own story so the next woman will do the same.

This is a long and windy road to tell you that I have something cooking in my brain and heart.  I feel inadequate and ill-equipped, and scared of failing, but I'm saying yes anyways.


God's truth for me right now before I second-guess it, is that I create a space for refreshing women...figuratively through this blog and literally, through a weekend retreat.  

My pits are all sweaty and my heart is beating so fast as I type this.  I'm starting small and working from the inside out.  Before I have any details figured out, before I have a master plan or anything solid, I'm throwing it out there.  I don't pretend to know what I'm doing, but that's the best place to be, isn't it, friends?

So, drumroll please.....

I'm hosting a low-key weekend retreat that hopefully balances the need to be filled up, but also poured out.  A restful place for the weary mom just needing a break, the busy woman who hasn't had any time to reflect and process, the girl who desperately needs some love, a glass of wine, and Jesus all meshed into one weekend.  And I can't wait.  

So, who's with me??  I'd love to gauge interest as I begin to piece this all together.  Nothing is set in stone, but I'm thinking March 2017 over a Friday and Saturday night.  Probably 10-12 women to keep things intimate.

If this sounds like something you would want to do, would you be so kind as to comment here on the blog, Instagram or Facebook?  Or you can email me directly at tinyuprisings@gmail.com.

I hope you can come!  Emoji with smiley face blowing a kiss.









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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

broken windows



I'm a runner.

Not the lace-my-shoes-up-and-hit-the-pavement kind (though I wish I was), but more the when-the-going-gets-tough-I-want-out kind.  In reality, I can only pinpoint a few instances in my life that I actually physically walked (or ran!) away from something.  That time I quit track in high school, transferring universities (which in hindsight was one of the best decisions I ever made), and leaving a summer long dance festival under the guise of a hip injury when reality was probably that I felt out of place, homesick, and not quite good enough.

Most people who know me will probably say that I'm a really strong person, that I don't give up easily and work hard for everything that I have.  The adjective that I've heard the most about myself is intentional.  I agree whole-heartedly.  But sometimes while I am externally intense and somewhat convincing, internally, I'm running.  I'm restless and mentally planning, plotting, and arranging my escape from the difficult.  

This has been a restless year for me.  We added a new baby who had feeding issues, sleeping issues, and massive acid reflux, when simply "we added a new baby" is enough to rock the boat.  We've walked through the toughest transition we could have imagined to a family of five with our middle son, which I wrote about here.  I journeyed through the physical difficulties related to pregnancy and Pippa's birth.  Struggled through postpartum depression (which deserves it's own blog post soon).  Several close friends moved away.  We renovated our kitchen, which I'm so glad we did, but the process and subsequent upheaval of pretty much all of our house as well was pretty brutal.

Here's the thing, though.  These are all things I couldn't quit.  I couldn't walk away from any of this.  I couldn't physically run, so I mentally run.

Lately, I've been running to Redfin.  Redfin?  Yes, Redfin...the real estate app.  The turmoil of this year has left our home in shambles.  While I'm thankful for our home, it's messy and disorganized and seemingly bursting at the seams holding our whole family and all our junk.   As a highly sensitive person deeply affected by my environment, my home currently feels like a place I want to escape.  I'm paralyzed by the work that needs to be done, the upkeep, the kid's messes. I long for a quieter, slower pace of life, outside of the city with a big yard for kids to play and some space for my introverted spirit to be alone sometimes.   So, while I want to make things better, I put on my blinders, brace myself for another day, and dream of leaving it all behind for a 4 bedroom modern farmhouse with lots of natural light on two acres.

And maybe I will live there one day, but if we move, I want it to be that I'm running towards something good, not running away from something I can't handle.  We have many discussions about where and how we should live, without any real decisions or resolutions at this point.  This restlessness...it is not a positive directive or prompting from God.  It's fear and it's disorder and it's disruptive.  

My poor husband has to process through all of this with me.  He's a good man.  A level head when I'm often a pogo stick.  As we processed through whether or not to purchase a piece of land outside of the city, in a moment of brilliance he basically said, "I don't think we should do this.  We take our dysfunction with us.  Moving to a new place doesn't solve our problems, doesn't clean the messes, or create the systems that we so desperately need to put into place."  I told you, a good man.

We agreed to adopt the Broken Windows Theory for our home.  This theory was first introduced in a 1982 article by social scientists James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling, and later increased in popularity in the 90's when it was adopted by Mayor Rudy Guiliani and the New York Police Department to combat crime.  Basically, the premise is that if a building has a few broken windows, the tendency will be for vandals to break a few more.  Broken windows become the norm, a signifier welcoming more vandalism and eventually leading to more neighborhood crime.  Or if litter accumulates on the pavement and no one cleans it up, soon, more litter accumulates and it becomes a dumping ground.

I know it's a stretch to liken our home to a crime ridden neighborhood, but the fact of the matter is that in a lot of ways we've given up.  We've allowed one broken window to become three and a broken furnace and unfinished projects and piles of mess in our basement and a garage full of junk.  We are the vandals in our own home.  The community that no longer takes pride in their surroundings or who feel that it's beyond them to make things better.

So, last week, I scheduled a guy to fix our heat.  Novel idea.  And when I couldn't get our new thermostat wired properly because our furnace is ancient, I called him again for help.  I set up a system for dealing with the piles of artwork and school papers for the kids.  I took a day and folded ALL the laundry.  We have plans to make a list of things to do to fix all of the figurative broken windows, and then actually do them.  To make our home work for us.

We've lived in this house 4 years, and I've yet to hang pictures on the walls.  In a lot of ways, it still feels like a house.  We haven't made it home.  We haven't made it work for us. That's our goal right now.

Who knows?  Maybe after all that we will still say it's not working.  Maybe I will still want to move.  But it won't be because I'm running away.




Tuesday, June 28, 2016

sponge bob to spectacular



There is nothing I love more than taking something no one wants and making it awesome.  This is one of my proudest transformations.  

We needed a dresser for Scout's room when we moved into our house.  I spotted this beauty for a whopping $9.99 at Goodwill.  It was so hideous, which is precisely why so many people had passed it by.  But looking past all the gaudy paint, it was exactly what I needed and actually had really pretty lines.

Let's just take a gander at all the sides.  Each one is better than the last.





I could envision though, that all this needed was a little elbow grease, paint, and love.   The top was covered with stickers as well as paint, so we took the time to scrape off all the stickers and then started sanding.  There were several layers of paint on this piece, and I wanted the finished product to look smooth, so I needed to sand it all the way down.  It's not hard work, but it does take some time.


Once it was all smooth, I added a few coats of fresh white paint.


I found some polka dotted knobs that I loved from Anthropologie, but then found almost exact replicas at Hobby Lobby for a fraction of the price.  Hobby Lobby for the win!  

My favorite part on the whole piece though is that handle on the middle drawer.  It was originally covered in layers of paint.  I read somewhere that you can easily remove layers of paint on hardware by cooking it in a crockpot filled with water.  I let it cook for a few hours, and the gross paint peeled right off to reveal this gorgeous handle.  A bit of white paint from the very first layer was left, but I actually liked how it added to the patina, so I left it.  


The little things make me so very happy.  $10 for the dresser.  $5 for hardware.  Vision.  Time.  Beauty unearthed.

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Saturday, June 25, 2016

pippa's birth story

**Warning - This post is extremely long and extremely detailed.  If you want to know the ins and outs of my experience with Pippa's birth and pre-eclampsia, keep reading.  If you'd rather not, just pass on by.


Pippa turns one tomorrow.  And I'm just now sitting down to write out her birth story.  Oh well, better late than never!

In order to fully capture her birth, I have to back up a little.  A few months before her birth, my feet, ankles, and lower legs began to get extremely swollen.  I had swollen feet and ankles at the end of Scout's pregnancy, but nothing like this!  Apparently, with Pippa, my hands were swollen too, because the tips of my fingers were tingly and numb all the time.  Even my face was swollen!  


And the weight gain.  Oh, the weight gain.  I didn't have to eat anything to gain weight, and the amount in one month caused comments from one midwife.  But there was nothing I could do to stop it.  I'm not the type of pregnant woman that eats ice cream every night and indulges in everything.  I eat normally and healthily and stay active with my kiddos as much as possible. 


I made a comment to my husband during these weeks, that I KNEW that I was going to have pre-eclampsia with this pregnancy.  He laughed it off, but I just knew. 

Three weeks before my due date, I had a midwife appointment, and the nurse commented that my blood pressure was a bit high.  130 over something is all I remember.  She had me sit still for a few moments and then took it again.  She said they'd keep a watch on it, but didn't seem overly concerned.


The following week, I had another appointment.  The nurse checked my blood pressure, but didn't comment.  I asked her what it was, and she said 116/70, which was typically a normal reading for me.  I couldn't shake the feeling though that wasn't right.  I had watched the blood pressure tick down on the old-school monitor, and thankful for my medical knowledge from college, I swear it was 140 something for the top number.  I didn't, however, call it out and ask her to recheck it.  

The next day, I wasn't feeling so great.  Just super tired, splitting headache, and not myself.  I took the kids to a massive indoor play space so that I could sit and put my feet up while they ran.  My intuition kept nudging me and wouldn't leave me alone.  I knew something wasn't right.  


When we left the play space, I needed to pick up a prescription for one of the kids, and while I was at the drug store, checked my blood pressure on one of the machines by the pharmacy.  The machine started flashing red and gave me a reading of 147/94.  I called my midwife upon leaving there, and she urged me to come directly into the hospital to get checked out.

When you have two other kids in tow, this is no small feat. Thankfully, though, their bags for going to a friend's house during the delivery were already packed, as was my hospital bag.  I didn't know what was going to happen, but I swung by home and picked up those bags and called my friend, Kara, who at the time lived close to the hospital, to ask if I could drop off the kids for a few hours.  I think I might have shocked her when I also left their overnight bags!!


I headed to the hospital not sure what was going to happen.  I don't remember my blood pressure reading when I got there, but it was cause for alarm.  They then did some blood work which showed protein in my urine and decreased platelets in my blood.  These three things combined with all the swelling I was having brought about a diagnosis of pre-eclampsia.  

I remember the midwife coming in and saying, "I'm so glad you came in.  You very much need to be here.  The only cure for pre-eclampsia is delivering the baby and placenta, and we are going to deliver this baby tonight!"  

Tonight?!?!  Let's not forget that we were in the throes of a kitchen renovation and had just gotten a working sink two days before after 77 days of no running water in the kitchen.  Everything else in our kitchen was still in boxes.  Cabinets didn't have doors.  Every part of my house was in construction shambles.  I hadn't even gotten to washing and putting away baby clothes yet.  My other two kids had been 10 and 11 days late, and therefore in my mind, I had 3 weeks longer to get ready.


This was Wednesday, June 24th.  Pippa's due date had originally been July 10th, then changed to July 4th due to an early ultrasound.  We aren't really sure which one was correct, but either way, she was early.  

My brain had trouble wrapping around the idea of not leaving the hospital until our baby was born.  Reeling.  I called my friend, Lindsey, told her the news and asked if she could go pick up my kids from Kara and have them spend the night with her.  As I hadn't yet gotten to those baby clothes, I also had to ask Lindsey if she could bring me something for the baby to wear home. Ack!  She was so sweet and took the kids shopping for an outfit for their little sister.  



Shortly, after the news that the baby needed to come out, they started me on a pitocin drip to get labor started.  I walked the halls to encourage labor as well, but was forced to sit down by the nurse because my BP kept spiking in dangerous levels.  

With pre-eclampia, there are a few major risk factors.  Seizure is the biggest one, so normally women are treated with magnesium sulfate.  My midwives wanted to hold off on treating me with it if possible because it makes you feel pretty horrible, and labor is hard enough when you feel good.


That first night, nurses continually upped my pitocin drip each hour.  I was up to 16 mU/min and only having mild contractions.  To put it in perspective 6 mU/min gives the same oxytocin levels found in spontaneous labor.  So, the midwives decided to back off since that didn't seem to be working and try some other methods.  I had two doses of misoprostal over the course of several hours, but still not too much progression.  By late afternoon, I think I had finally dilated to maybe a 5 and they decided to break my water to see if that would get things going.

The midwife on call that day was Mary Lou.  She told me I could have a few hours for that to work, but we would need to start pitocin again if things didn't get going.  I did some walking and labor would progress, but I had to lie down every 30 minutes for a stress test on the baby and to check my BP and labor would once again slow down.


At 10pm on Thursday, June 25th another pitocin drip was started.  Around 11pm, a very kurt and efficient nurse came in and told Ryan and I that we were going to bed.  She turned the lights out and tucked us in and told us to get some rest.

I might have slept a little, but remember waking up a lot.  Around 2am, contractions were kicking in to high gear and things were getting serious.  My pitocin drip was only at 6 mU/min at this point, far less than the night before but my body was responding this time.

I asked the nurse to fill the tub, because I knew I wanted to do most of my laboring in the water.  Ryan was still asleep and since I had a nurse and Mary Lou there, I decided to let him sleep and not wake him at this point.  Hoping that after I had the baby, he would be better rested and I could have a nap!


I labored in tub for a few hours, with contractions getting stronger and stronger.  I remember Mary Lou pouring water on my back during contractions and I remember her saying she could tell I was a good mom.  Labor was getting hard, but I was much more relaxed than with my other two births.  And then around 5 something, I started transitioning and had a super strong contraction during which I totally felt Pippa's head shift downward in the birth canal a couple of times.  Mid-contration I said, "She's moving down!"

Mary Lou then said to let her know when I felt like I wanted to start pushing because I would need to get out of the tub.  I told her that I needed to get out RIGHT NOW!  I made it to standing beside the bed and had another strong contraction.  That one woke Ryan up.  He was stunned that I was already that far along, and he'd slept through most of it, but I really felt like it was better for him sleep during that.  I had enough support and seriously, how many people can you fit in a tiny bathroom anyways?


I got on the bed and the very next contraction, Pippa was crowning.  And one more contration, and I was able to push her out.  When they handed her to me, the first thing I said was, "She's so small!"  My other kids had been 10 and 11 pounds, and she was only 6 pounds 4 ounces.  Compared to the other labors and deliveries, she was a piece of cake.  So much easier to push out a baby half the size.  She was born at 5:42 am on Friday, June 26th and was 19 inches long.

Since I had hemorrhaged with the other two births, we just assumed I would with this one.  We had a doctor on standby and I was given a shot of pitocin immediately to try to get my uterus contracting and closing up blood vessels.  As with Leif's birth, my placenta wasn't delivering, so they decided that they would have to remove it manually.  The midwife tried, but then passed me over to the OB.  They gave me some pain meds to help, but it didn't do much besides make me feel a bit lightheaded.


I had to pass the baby to Ryan, because I was feeling a little woozy, and as a big proponent of skin to skin, I asked him to remove his shirt to hold the baby.  He looked at me like I had three heads, but he did it.  I later heard she was totally suckling his chest.  Ha!

Once they finally got my placenta out (apparently, mine grow really strongly into my uterine wall), I, as expected, started hemorrhaging.  I don't really know what they were doing or how they were trying to stop the bleeding.  I think more pitocin and uterine massage.  Ryan said that at one point he looked around and counted and there were 15 medical staff in my room.

I lost close to 2 liters of blood, but thankfully they were able to get it under control without having to do anything drastic.  My hematocrit was down to 21.  At 20, we're talking blood transfusion, but I was doing well enough that we decided against it.  I don't know what it's like to have a baby and not lose a ton of blood and be totally wiped out by that.  It's just what my body does.


Things are a bit of a blur after that.  I think I slept a lot that day since I'd been up for two nights in a row.  I know I had a catheter, so I wouldn't have to get up to go to the bathroom.  I think they took that out the next morning and I was able to take a shower and get cleaned up.

We were discharged on Saturday evening.  On Sunday evening, I had a terrible headache, and I had noticed that my swelling wasn't really going down.  So, at midnight or some ridiculous hour, we headed up to QFC for me to check my blood pressure at their pharmacy machine.  It was 173/102.  Crap.  Called the midwife and headed back to the hospital.  My blood pressure was even higher when we got there.

In the ER, they explained that normally in most cases pre-eclampsia is cured with the delivery, but not in all cases.  I was one of the few.  They put me on magnesium sulfate for 24 hours.  I don't think I've ever felt so bad in my entire life as I did on that drug.  My nurse kept my room dark and basically told me to stay lying down.  My liquids were rationed.  I could only have a certain amount of water each hour...and it wasn't enough.  I was so thirsty and my head hurt so badly.  And all the while, I'm trying to be mom to a teeny newborn.  She was a champ and we learned early how to nurse side lying because it was all I could do right then.


I was so thankful when I was finished with that 24 hours.  I felt like I was really missing my baby's first days of life.  We stayed on at the hospital as we watched my blood pressure which remained elevated.  As doctors would change shifts, I would get a new recommendation with each one.  One was really pushing a blood transfusion, but they decided to try an iron drip instead which made me feel a lot better.  They had stopped really monitoring my BP after the magnsium, but as they were trying to discharge me, I told one doctor I still had a massive headache.  They checked my BP and found it was still really high, so they decided to put me on BP meds to lower it.  Some docs were saying I needed to go and others would say I needed to stay.  It was ridiculous and confusing.

I finally was discharged on Tuesday late afternoon, I believe.  So relieved to go home and be in our own space and finally get to relax with that sweet baby.  Scout and Leif came home on Wednesday.  We were so thankful to have them taken care of for a whole week by various friends and family.


I was on blood pressure meds for about two weeks, but have been totally fine since then.

I'm sorry that I waited so long to write this.  I've lost so many of the details over the course of the last twelve months of sleep deprivation and life.   I want to remember it all.

Welcome to the world, Pippa Rose!  Welcome to our family.  We love you and you were worth it!



**these beautiful photos taken by the amazing Tatiana Skye Photography











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Thursday, June 23, 2016

make mother's day a big freaking deal

We are a family who says, "I'm sorry.  I screwed up.  Will you forgive me?  Can we try that again?"

We don't pretend that everything is perfect all the time.  We admit if someone has hurt us.  We find no shame in apologizing to our kids for times that we mess up.  In fact, I'm thankful for those moments because the kids get to learn that everyone messes up (even Mom and Dad) and no one is perfect, but that when we do mess up, there's a right way and a wrong way to handle it.  Just shoving it under the rug, burying it, and being passive aggressive?  That's the wrong way in our family.  Bringing it to the light and going through the hard work to express hurt and either asking for or expressing forgiveness?  That's the right way.

Along with this, we have embraced the do-over as a family.

Mother's Day this year was a total bomb.  I won't go into details, but let's just say that it definitely deserved a do-over.

I'm probably overly sensitive about Mother's Day, but I'm coming into some realizations as to why.  Maybe some of you moms are too.

I'm a stay at home mom, and as such, I'm on the clock 24 hours, 7 days a week.  My co-workers (i.e. my kids) are pretty bad at acknowledging the hard work I'm doing, giving personal space or positive feedback, keeping a tidy work area, and allowing bathroom breaks.  It's the hardest work I've ever done in my life, and unfortunately, it's peppered with a sizable dose of doubt and guilt for just about everything.  There are no performance reviews to sing my praises, no raises, no promotions, no outside credit for this important work I'm doing.   Of course there are those sweet times they tell me they love me, give me an unexpected hug, make me laugh, or amaze me with the fantastic little people they are becoming, but I'm talking about the day to day nitty gritty.

Mother's Day is the one day of the year that I feel my efforts have the ability to be fully noticed...my work appreciated  and honored and given the value that it deserves.  The day I remember more than any other to remove the word just from my title.  I'm not just a mom.  I'm a mom, proudly a mom, and there is no nobler work or work that requires more than this.

I need to know, especially on this day, that someone sees, appreciates, acknowledges, and honors the work that I do every day, because when I'm buried in laundry and nursing the baby and waking up all night and cleaning up spills and/or bodily fluids and breaking up fights and fishing bath toys out of the toilet, I often wonder why I'm doing this and start feeling pretty discouraged.  I wonder if anyone cares and what it's all for.

Husbands, I have a word for you.  Please hear me.

Your wife needs you to make Mother's Day a big deal.

She needs to know that you see her, appreciate her, and acknowledge her work.  She needs to know that you feel that her job as a mom is important and of great worth.  She needs for you to give her a proverbial raise and promotion and encouragement in this insane job she's doing.  She needs you to set an example for your kids to honor her and tell her how much they love her and what they appreciate about her.  She needs one day that she gets to pick the radio station and the restaurant without someone giving her a hard time or throwing a temper tantrum.  She needs to have time to take a shower and shave her legs and feel like a woman.  She needs to go to the bathroom without a child sitting on her lap.  I'm so not joking.  She needs you to put some time and effort into how you choose to honor her on this day, because that speaks volumes to her about you feel about her worth and how much you value her role.   I can pretty much guarantee that she feels undervalued and disappointed if she feels your efforts are half-hearted.  And because she may not say all this to you, I'm speaking to you on her behalf.

So, BRING IT on Mother's Day (and her birthday too!!).  Go big or go home!  Your wife needs someone cheering loudly in her corner and who better than her partner for life.

As for our do-over, my husband brought out the big guns.  I am now in the midst of Mother's Week, a little something he and the kids cooked up together.   He coached them on really making me feel special and serving me, and they devised a whole weeklong celebration that includes one-on-one dates with each of my kids, a family brunch out, a fancy date with my hubby, home-made cards, and the best use of index cards I've ever seen.


Each person gets an index card for every day of the week.  I choose one thing I want them to do for me on that day and write it on the card, and they should complete it that day without grumbling or me having to nag. I'm loving this so much that I'm hoping to keep the whole index service cards going.



But more than that, I feel valued, loved, honored, and heard.   I'm thankful for the willingness of our little team to have a re-do for something that is so very important to me.

Friends, don't be afraid to say, "I'm sorry.  I screwed up. Will you forgive me?  Can we try that again?"  And if needed, have a do-over.  The people and moments in our lives are too important not to.

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Thursday, June 2, 2016

5 things I'm loving

I bought a hydrangea last week.  And a straw hat.  Two things I've wanted for years, but every year, I don't buy them.  I look at them.  Consider them.  Fail to make a decision or pull the trigger.  Ridiculous.  It's a plant.  And a hat.

I might site frugality.  That I really don't need them.  But doggonit, they bring me joy, and sometimes that's actually worth something.

It's been a little heavy on the ol' blog, so, just for fun today, here are 5 things that are bringing me joy.


1. My new straw hat!


I'm loving this thing.  It's this one from Target.  It's great for giving a little shade to the eyes and face (especially since I'm good at putting sunscreen on my kids, but not on myself), as well as hiding unwashed hair! At first, I felt a little weird wearing it, but I just decided to own it and be confident in it.  These sunny spring days are perfect for this little gem.


2. Trader Joe's Sea Salt and Turbinado Sugar Dark Chocolate Almonds



Otherwise knows as crack nuts.  I know, I know.  Chocolate almonds not your thing?  Seriously, just try one.  You'll be hooked.  Thank me later.


3.  Architectural salvage


During some kid free time today, I decided to leisurely stroll the aisles of my favorite architectural salvage places.  (Second Use and Earthwise for those of you who are local) At first, I kept feeling like I needed to hurry up and spend my time more wisely.  But the truth is, I love looking for beauty among the dust and old and broken.  I'm getting better at buying the things I love, even if I don't have a "place" for it.  I've learned time and time again that if I love it, it will find a place in our home eventually.  Today, I found a light fixture potentially for the kids' bedroom, and some really fun old corbels.  I didn't pull the trigger on the corbels yet (they're on hold though), but I know that if I'm still thinking about them tomorrow, I should go back and get them.  Perhaps for our fireplace mantel?


4.  Spring flowers



Stop and smell the flowers, y'all.  They worked hard to get here.  Scout and I made a point to stop and smell every rose we passed on the way to her school.  We determined that the light pink ones (She calls them cold pink as opposed to hot pink. Too funny!) were the most fragrant.  We live in the city with lots of cars and concrete and noise.  Seeing all the flowers bloom makes me slow down and appreciate that this beauty just pushes up and unfurls each and every year. My friend, Kelsie, recently wrote a beautiful blog post about needing a time to go underground for a while and work on her roots, because nothing in nature blooms all year.  That is true for each one of us and every one of those flowers waiting their turn to burst forth in glory.


5. Podcasts




Maybe I'm late to this bandwagon, but I'm loving listening to podcasts on longer drives, folding laundry, doing dishes, etc.  The task seems more enjoyable when my mind is engaged on something else. I'm inspired listening to other women talk about life, motherhood, travel, business...anything really.  My favorite these days is The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey.  Though I also enjoy The Simple Show and The Lively Show.  How to listen to a podcast?  You probably have an app on your phone. ;)


Hope you find joy in the little things today too!


Friday, May 20, 2016

who told you you were naked?

This morning, my six year old crumbled into a mess of tears, admitting to me that a friend had been mean to her.  Her normally confident, expressive body that never stops exuding energy curved in on itself, literally concaving as she heaved big crocodile tears.

She was experiencing real world hurt for maybe the first time.  Not a "I didn't get my way" or "She didn't want to share with me" kind of childlike hurt, but a hurt that changes her view of herself.  A hurt that steals a little bit of her innocence, a little bit of her uninhibitedness, a little bit of her blind faith that she is perfectly made and perfectly loved.

I've been dreading this moment.  The moment that my bubble bursts and is no longer big enough to protect her from a world that will scratch and dent and mar her into thinking that she is either "too" this or "not enough" that.


Did you know that at the age of five, 90 percent of the population measures "high creativity?" And that by the age of seven, that number drops to 10 percent?

What comes between 5 and 7?  

6.

Exactly right where we we are.  Oh my God.



With her growing body, comes growing maturity that opens her eyes to see that she is unique.  However, our culture values the box and more importantly, being inside of it.  The thief of comparison will come in the night and whisper to her that fitting in is better than standing out.

She will one day stop dancing furiously because she will become aware that someone is watching, and not with the loving gaze of her parents or her Creator, but with the critical gaze of judgement.  Her arms will flail a little less wildly and her feet will start to match the beat, because that's what she's "supposed" to do.



Finley Eversole writes in The Politics of Creativity,  "Our creativity is destroyed not through the use of outside force, but through criticism, innuendo, by the dirty devices of this world.  So we are diminished, and we forget that we are more than we know.  The child is aware of unlimited potential and this munificence is one of the joys of creativity."

When I think of the word creativity, it encompasses for me the idea of the truest form of ourselves.  Me. You. At our very essence, living into the fullness of all that we are.  Unafraid. Unashamed. Unmuted.  Uncompared.  I believe that we are all Created by the Creator, and since the Maker formed us all in His image, we too are creators, full of the richness of His creativity.  


According to Eversole, by adulthood, "high creativity" in our population drops to only 2 percent.  I have to believe that number is not really indicative of lack of creativity, but more so of it being covered over, pushed down, and buried underneath self-protection and conformity.  It is the world that dims our light.

How do I protect my daughter from the inevitable?  

I look to God for answers, as he was in fact, the first Parent to the first children, Adam and Eve.   The Bible tells me that he, too, was heart-broken as his children were deceived into believing that eating the fruit of the forbidden tree would make them more, when in fact it made them far less.  Knowledge gained included self-consciousness, shame, and fear, which set off an avalanche of hiding, covering, and trembling.  Less, less, and less.  Not more.

God comes into the Garden and asks, "Where are you?"  Even though nothing is outside of God's omnipotent gaze, and he knows exactly where they are, he still asks, "Where are you?"  Where are your beautiful, innocent, creative, unself-conscious selves?

His next question though, is more heart-wrenching.  "Who told you you were naked?"

That was my question this morning as I watched her tears fall and fought back my own, realizing that all my love isn't big enough to protect her.  "Who told you you were naked?"  Who told you you weren't smart? Or couldn't dance? Or looked funny? Or were too loud? Or too big?  Or not enough?  Who told you that?



Memories flooded back of my seventh grade year.  Back to the year a girl in my class decided to bully me and then systematically turned every other seventh grade girl against me.  I was ridiculed, barked at, laughed at, verbaly harassed, ostracized, handed my school picture in a million tiny pieces, and emotionally abused all that year.  I was essentially told I was naked, and they were all laughing at me.

That 12 year old girl had never before known that she was anything other than fine, had never looked in the mirror for any reassurance that she fit the mold in size and shape, had never known how cruel people can be.  That year, I went from being vibrant and courageous to doing everything that I could to blend in and not stand out in any way that might garner criticism.

While I've come a long way from that seventh grade girl, I have carried the baggage of that year into every road I have travelled, every encounter with every person I've ever spoken to.  I carried it into my faith and into my marriage.  I carried it into motherhood.  It still holds me back in so many ways, and I am still working to combat the insecurities that grew out of that experience.


At some point, we all realize that we are naked. God, in his heartbreak, caringly stitched clothing from skins for Adam and Eve, but he also banished them from the garden. You and me, we don't live in Eden anymore. We will all experience suffering and loss, and it is in fact necessary for finding our authentic selves.

My heart might split clean open thinking about this happening to any of my children. And yet, I know that it will. And even yet, I know that their greatest wounds might one day be their greatest accomplishments, greatest stories of redemption, and greatest platform for the empowerment of others.  


Ephesians 2:10 says, "For we are God's Masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago." I am His Masterpiece. You are His Masterpiece. We are His finest work that this world scratches and dents and shatters, and over and over again, God tenderly pieces our fallen fragments together, creating us into better versions of ourselves.


We are left with the question of how we go from being shattered to being a mosaic - beautiful in our brokenness and stunning in our wholeness.  The answer I'm convinced lies in revelling in God's love.

Erika Morrison's words say it best:
...I'm convinced that our job as parents is not to protect our kids from human experience - the double-edged sword that will cut them wide open - but to give them the tools that will help them make a resurrected return, again and again, to the brilliant allure of the divine gaze, the tools to know that any stare other than the divine gaze is not the true story and that finding themselves in the gaze is the foundation of self-knowledge.
So, I will unashamedly ask my children to look for God in their world and in themselves.    I will walk with them through hurts and help them face their fears.  I will teach them to hold His gaze, because in it lies freedom and wholeness and a 6 year old girl laughing at statistics and dancing furiously for the rest of her days.







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