Category Archives: thankfulnesses

Giving Thanks

Today I am thankful for many things. In the interest of time (and saving my thumbs as I am once again phone blogging), here are my top ten:

10. I am thankful that I get to work with caring, thoughtful, intelligent, funny people. At a time when work loads are nearly unbearable and people are trending towards permanent cranky, my job is (albeit hectic) a place of joy for me. I am truly grateful for my colleagues. I get to work with amazing people doing good, helping work that is challenging, interesting and meaningful. If I have to work outside my home there is nowhere I would rather work.

9. I am grateful for domestic technological advances. Yes, I’m talking to you dishwasher, love of my life. Washing machine and dryer, you’re pretty amazing too! Central heating and air… brilliant!

8. I am thankful to have more than enough food. I can’t even imagine how it would feel to send my child to bed hungry. I know so many children out there don’t have enough. This I one of those things I need to be more thankful for on a daily basis.

7. I am thankful for my cat, Bacheecho. He is my little gentleman, and he doesn’t get nearly enough credit these days.

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6. I am thankful for my health. I know I complain about not being healthy enough, but I have no chronic diseases, have had no overnight hospital stays. I take how healthy I am and the amazing things my body does for me every day for granted. So thank you to my body, for getting me up, allowing me to dance with my child, drive my car, see the world around me, and live.

5. I am grateful for my friends, new and old. I have so many people who care about me, who fill so many roles in my life. They are inspiring, good hearted, interesting, and they truly enrich my life.

4. I am grateful for Jane Young, my incredible mother-out-law. She is kind, fun, thoughtful, and helpful. She loves my child like her own, listens to me gripe, is there for us any time we need her, and is completely selfless. I also think she raised a pretty great child of her own, but that’s just me.

3. I am thankful for my family. My mom and stepdad, my dad and step mom, my sister. They have each helped shape me into the person I am today. I had a great childhood, rich with love and experience, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

2. I am thankful for my ridiculously crazy awesome country home. I still sit and am awestruck that we own this house, this piece of land. We are so lucky. I never dreamed I’d live in such a beautiful place. I thought owning land was going to be out of my reach. But here I am. I get to look out my front window at this in the morning

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And I have an amazing yard for my child with animals, a playground and so much room. It stretches all the way back to those trees.

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And the big red barn? Really?! It’s all ours. I am such a lucky woman.

Last, but not least, I am thankful for these two

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They are my life, my family, the reason I am here. I am grateful to each of them individually for being such marvelous people, loving me so much, and bringing joy to my heart.

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Who knew 9 years ago, when I first started dating this guy Taylor, that this would be where we ended up. With our tiny person with the big personality, in our country home, having weathered some truly heartbreaking times, loving and living life, creating memories, being a family. I am so very blessed. CHEERS!

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Good News!

Guess what I’m doing right now?? DISHES! That’s right, folks, Taylor installed our brand new beautiful dishwasher today, and it is quietly humming away doing my dishes for me. Oh, Bosch dishwasher, how I love you. I will marry you and make you my wife!

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Isn’t she beautiful! I imagine we’ll have a long life together.
And now, what to do with all my free time?

P.S. Thank you to Mr. Taylor Webster, who should feel proud of himself for at least two weeks for being a dishwasher installing bad ass and all around amazing and super good at doing all kinds of stuff. Good job, sir! You are my hero!

Birth Day

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Today our daughter turns two years old. It is amazing to me that that much time has passed since I was pregnant and gave birth. All the clichés about babies growing too fast, and enjoying the newborn stages are completely true. Time passes so quickly, and all of a sudden, your beautiful, untouched baby is a toddler, almost a little girl. The past two years have been incredible. Joy has abounded, challenges have arisen, parents have been made. I was just telling Taylor how amazed I am at him as a father. I am not sure what I expected, but I know that he far exceeded my expectations, and he is just truly awesome. I have learned a lot from him in this process, and I am so grateful to have such an involved, thoughtful partner to raise a person with.

Josephine was born at home, and we had a beautiful, peaceful birth. I actually get a little jealous when I know a woman is about to give birth, because it is such an incredible experience. If I could go back and re-live that day, I would in an instant. It was miraculous. I have never been so proud of myself, so in love with my body, as I was that day. Taylor and I were a true team, and I cherish my birth memories. I have wanted to write my birth story out, but put it off. So, for Josephine’s second birthday, I decided to bite the bullet and just do it. I am afraid that it is impossible to transcribe everything that happened that day. So many of the feelings I had are indescribable, but I will try. Just a warning… this story is long, some parts make me sound a little earth motherish, and I do talk about poop… and of course, vaginas.

Before I start, I need to acknowledge some people who assisted Taylor and I through our birth: Andrea Ferroni, our wonderful, loving midwife. She was a wealth of knowledge, a pillar of strength, and a beautiful friend. Without her support, calm, confident presence and thoughtful guidance, our birth would not have been what it was. Thank you. Jane Young, Taylor’s wonderful mother, who loved us and worried for us, and made us a delicious pot of beans, even though her nerves made her stir them into re-fried beans. Jane told my mom when she was listening to me pushing that she wished she could come in and do it for me so that I wouldn’t have to hurt. What a woman! Thank you. Carol Whitney, my inspirational mother, who led by example and taught me about natural childbirth throughout my life. I remember watching kittens being born when I was a little girl, and my mom telling me to watch how the cat relaxed and almost went into a trance between contractions. Because of her, having a child at home was just how it was done, nothing out of the ordinary. The story of my birth at home helped me beyond anything else to prepare for Josephine’s birth at home. Thank you. And to Josephine. Thank you for making me a mother. You are my love. And so, if you are brave enough to read on, enjoy:

On November 15th 2009 I threw a candle at Taylor’s head. It was not my shining moment, however, I was absolutely through being pregnant. Up until that point I felt like I handled pregnancy pretty well: walking, doing prenatal yoga, keeping a fairly positive attitude and enjoying the bliss of growing life inside of my body. On November 15th, however, I was done. My house was clean, I had nothing left to organize, I didn’t feel like watching TV, Taylor didn’t want me to go anywhere more than 5 minutes from home in case I went into labor and had the baby within the 5 minutes it took to get home (one could only hope, right?). I was bored and ready to get on with it. I had had differing due dates from November 5th to November 16th, and I had convinced myself that the baby would be there the week before (against the prompting of my midwife – the lovely, talented, amazing Andrea – who advised me to tell myself and those around me that my baby would be born around Thanksgiving, thus giving myself some extra time). Although I had felt some contractions the previous week, no labor…no baby. It only took one unsavory comment from Taylor on the 15th for me to completely freak out and hurl a heavy candle at his skull. Luckily he has cat like reflexes and ducked out of the way, because I might have killed him if not. I spent the rest of that day in the guest room watching every episode of Project Runway I could get my hands on. I apologized before bed and vowed to wake up the next day in a better mood (it was going to be my birthday after all).

The morning of November 16th I woke up at 9:30 in the morning. I checked in with my mood and realized that I was still not in a great place, so I tried to talk myself out of it and got up to use the restroom. When I got into the bathroom and went to sit on the toilet, I felt water pour all over my feet and over the floor. “Taylor…” I said. “Umm, I think my water broke.” “Huh?” He murmured in his half sleep. “I think my water broke, can you get me those test strip things that Andrea gave us. I want to check to make sure.” Taylor walked into the bathroom and just about died laughing. “What do you mean you think your water broke? The floor has water all over it!” Yeah…I guess I should have just gone with it, but you never know. Maybe I peed myself and didn’t know. Turns out it was just a little (lot of) amniotic fluid. I gathered some in a jar to test and mopped up the rest with a towel.

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After changing and such I called Andrea to let her know that my water had broken. I wasn’t having contractions or anything at that point. She told me to keep her updated on what was going on and gave me a list of things to do and not to do: Relax, take a shower, eat food, clean the bathrooms, take my temperature readings, don’t have sex-sex, but you can do other sexual things. You know, the basics.

I proceeded to clean my toilets, picked up the house, took a shower. I called my parents and Taylor’s mom Jane to let them know my water had broken. I told everyone not to get too excited; it could take a couple of days. Taylor went out and picked up some Chinese food for lunch while I relaxed at home. I had some contractions around 10:30, and then sporadically the rest of the morning. In the afternoon Jane and my mom came over to bring me my birthday pie (my mom had been hanging out in Merced about 45 minutes away waiting for me to go into labor, and was already planning a trip to Oakdale to celebrate my birthday). My contractions were getting closer together and longer, but I still felt fine, just a little uncomfortable. I timed my contractions on my iphone (which had to be later pried out of my hands by my midwife) and we all watched Sarah Palin on Oprah (I know, so fun). We kept in contact with Andrea throughout the day, and she suggested walking to keep things moving along. Around 5 pm Taylor and I walked down the street slowly, talking about something (just what, I can’t remember), and stopping for my contractions. We probably looked pretty silly stopping every few minutes, and we didn’t get far, but I remember it being a beautiful evening. The sun was just going down, and it was starting to get dark. That walk was really amazing.

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When we got home I sent my mom and Jane back to Jane’s house to wait, since I was insisting that it could be a couple of days still. My mom knew I was farther along in my labor than I thought, and she didn’t want to go, but she left anyways at my insistence.

Taylor and I took that time alone to get the room situated for our birth. We already had the birth tub set up (really a plastic horse trough, or the tub of awesomeness as I will refer to it), but we got our iPod ready with music, got the lighting right, brought in the big yellow yoga ball, and just relaxed on the bed together. Our cat lay with us on our bed as we talked, timed contractions, and enjoyed each other’s company. It was completely relaxing and I felt so calm, concentrating on letting my body do what it needed to do. I focused on breathing and talked to myself and my unborn child, encouraging my body to open up, silently praising my child for her work in the process of her birth. I made phone calls to different people between contractions; our midwife, my dad, my sister, my friend Genevieve. Letting them all know that the time had come, but still insisting that it could be a while, so we’d call to update soon.

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At 8:27 pm (I checked my phone log later), and between contractions I made a last phone call to Genevieve giving her an update. I let her know we’d call her when the baby was born. She told me I sounded really calm for being in labor. I once again said, “Well, you know, it could be a couple of days. Well, I’m going to go, I feel another contraction coming on.” As soon as I hung up the phone I felt like something inside of me snapped. My contractions immediately changed and became more intense. I could no longer lay down through the contractions, so I would get up on all fours and rock on top of the bed during them, then lie down and focus on relaxation and openness in between. I told Taylor he should call Andrea to come down now. He just shook his head. He had secretly called her about a half an hour before and asked her to come, knowing that I would need her. This is such a great illustration of Taylor throughout our labor. He was intuitive, supportive, calm, and strong. He would anticipate what I would need or what would come next and just quietly and unobtrusively do it. He is truly the reason for our beautiful labor and for that I am thankful. He had no agenda other than to be there to do anything that needed to be done; to be the brains of the operation, since my mind was moved out of the way so that my body could take over. He was brilliant.

By the time Andrea had arrived, I was using the yoga ball to rock on by leaning over it during contractions. Taylor and Andrea busied themselves filling the birth tub while I kept on with my job of focusing, relaxing, talking to myself, visualizing. I have no memory of the tub being filled or either of them doing things around the room because I was so involved in myself. I turned into myself and was unaware of the outside world.

At some point the amazing tub of awesomeness was ready, and I eased myself into the hot water. It was an instant relief, as I was beginning to feel a little overwhelmed with contractions. The water felt amazing and I knew that I would not be getting out. The warmth helped soothe me in a way that I can’t even begin to explain.

From this point, things get a bit blurry for me, as the next five or six hours were intense and focused, but my mind was not in its normal place. I remember reading or hearing that you just have to move your rational mind out of the way during labor and let your animal mind take over. This seems to explain what took place inside of me after this point. I had decided before labor that I would not be ashamed of any noises I made, facial expressions, bodily whatever’s. Having already made that decision really freed me up to vocalize, grunt, moan as I pleased without embarrassment. I could really go for it. And I did. I remember thinking at one time, “Wow, that is not a noise I have ever made before.” And I don’t think, outside of childbirth, that I will ever make it again. It was bizarre.

At some point I made Jane and my mom leave the room, since their presence was distracting me from fully letting go and relaxing, so it was mainly Taylor, Andrea and myself in the bedroom during my labor. A wonderful woman named Alicia showed up towards the end (I think) to assist Andrea. I hadn’t met her previously, and I wouldn’t know her face if she walked right up to me on the street, but I do remember that she was gentle, cautious, and helpful. Taylor, my mom and Jane all said wonderful things about her, as she spent more time in the living room with the mothers and helping Taylor with little tasks he had to do.

When I was pregnant, I would joke around, saying that my vagina was going to become as big as a whales mouth to let the baby out. I was trying to deal with a little bit of fear I had about tearing, and the whole concept worked out for me. We would joke about whales mouth vagina so frequently that I had my friend Jen paint me a picture of a whale with a baby coming out of its mouth to use as a visualization tool during labor. Kind of a focal point to remind me that my vagina could, in fact, expand in an unbelievable ways. It also made me laugh, which helped me to relax.

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Additionally, when I was pregnant I watched a video of an elephant giving birth. It was not really remarkable, however, there was something in the elephant’s eyes that sparked something in me, and the way she silently focused, opened her mouth, bore down and pushed the baby elephant out was inspiring. These were the two images that helped me. A whale and an elephant. Go figure.

Throughout hard labor I did a lot of positive self-talk. I would repeat, “open…open up…” out loud and in my head to remind my body of what it needed to do. I concentrated on keeping my jaw loose, so that the rest of my body would be loose and able to move and expand. I reminded myself that I could do this over and over again. I had heard that a lot of women hit a place in their labor where they feel as if they can’t go on. Where they want to give up. I never hit that place, most likely because I was so busy repeating, “you can do this….open up…whales mouth….you can do this…open”. My mind felt strong and I had never felt so focused in my life.

I used one word sentences to get my points across, to get what I needed. Taylor and Andrea quickly adapted to my new style of language, and they were able to give me what I needed without talking to me much at all. I would shout out “trashcan” if I needed to throw up. I would say “poop” if I felt like I was going to go to the bathroom (although it usually came out at “pooooooooopppp”, and Andrea would ask, “Do you really have to poop or does it just feel like you have to poop?” and I would respond, “feel.” – cute, I know). I believe I said the word poop more than any other word when I was in labor.

When my body told me it was time to push, I did just that. The feeling of bearing down was incredible, and there was no way I could have stopped it or done something different. It felt really good to pull on something, so I used Taylor and Andrea’s pointer and middle fingers to pull on as I was pushing and contracting. I felt like if I let go of their fingers, I would lose momentum, so they both let me pull on them violently for hours. I pulled so hard that my wrists hurt the next day. Poor Andrea had to brace herself between the tub and the dresser. I might have pulled her back out a bit. It was amazing. At one point during the pulling, Taylor wanted to get up to use the bathroom. I had just finished a contraction, and was about to start another when he said he was going. I simply said, “no, wait”. Taylor stayed by my side for about 10 minutes before I said, “ok, you can go.” Things needed to be on my schedule, as I needed them. Everything felt like it had an order to it. I was very much in control.

I remember saying a few bad words during my two hours of pushing, however, the room was mostly quiet. At one point I just needed to stare into Andrea’s eyes and have her tell me it was going to be alright. I remember needing to tell Taylor that I loved him. It was painful, but not in a scary, sharp, I stubbed my toe sort of way. It was in a stretching, burning, easing sort of way. I remember telling Andrea that the contraction pain wasn’t going away, and saying “shit…motherfucker”. I could feel Josephine easing down my birth canal. I could feel her move slowly down, move slightly back up, move slowly down again. Inch by inch. I talked to her the entire time, letting her know she was doing a good job, asking her to please come out. I tried my hardest to stay as relaxed as I could, to not tense up, to not clench my jaw, so that my body could expand to let her out. I worked with my contractions and let my body completely relax in between to get some rest. It was incredibly taxing. At one point, after I finished a contraction, I fell asleep. I woke up, most likely 30 seconds later, having another contraction. I was disoriented, thinking, “wait, what’s going on? Oh, yeah, I’m I labor.” In 30 seconds I had managed to become so relaxed that I actually forgot. I was in the zone, I suppose.

When Andrea and Taylor told me that the baby’s head was crowning (which I knew because I could feel that that was happening), and I pushed with all my might. She was just about to come out when the contraction I was having ended. I believe both of them made a slight disappointed noise (which in my head when I am thinking about it sounds like, “AHH AHH AHH…ahhhhhhhhhhh), because they were sure we would have her out by that push. I took a breath, told myself and Josephine, “alright, this is it, we’re going to do this”, and pushed one last time. Josephine was born into the water, and immediately the relief of completing this phase of labor hit me. I don’t know if I have ever felt as good as I did in that instant. I felt alive.

Taylor had his hands ready and quickly picked Josephine up out of the water and lay her on my chest. She let out a brief squawk, and then opened her eyes to look at me. I was immediately, intensely in love. Taylor and I looked at our daughter. I remember saying, “It’s our person.” She was perfect. I felt such a rush of relief, excitement, love and energy all at the same time. I can’t even begin to describe how that moment felt. It was pure love.

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When it was time, Taylor cut her umbilical cord, and just like that, we were two people. Taylor picked her up off of me so that I could stand and deliver the placenta (which was fairly uneventful for me), and I stepped out of the tub and into our bed, with my family: Taylor and Josephine. My mom and Jane came in right away to meet their granddaughter, and we all just looked at her in awe.

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When Andrea did a new baby check on her about an hour later, she asked us what clothing we wanted to put her in. Since we were having a home birth, and you usually just hear about picking out coming home clothes for a baby, I really had no idea. The thought of clothing this person just hadn’t crossed my mind. Taylor went into the nursery and grabbed a yellow sleep sack, and that was that. It was a little bit of a shock to me. Oh, yeah, that is our decision to make. It’s all our decision to make… wow.

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Josephine was born at 2:50 am on November 17th, 2009. By around 4:30 am everyone had left our home. It was just the three of us (and our very concerned cat). Taylor and I just sat and watched Josephine as she slept silently, in awe of her, of what had just happened, and of where we were in life. When we all woke up a few hours later, we were ready to start our day…Josephine’s birthday…the rest of our lives. She was born in a beautiful, calm way and is a beautiful, calm person. She is strong, thoughtful, and imaginative. She is intelligent, humorous, and joyful. She is independent and brave. She is our person. She is perfect. I am forever grateful to be her mother, honored to help her down her path, and amazed at the beauty that she brings to our world. Taylor and I are very lucky to know her. Happy Birthday to my love.

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Happiness…

Is baking a pie on a Sunday afternoon with your little girl…

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One of the pies was for the neighbor. Don’t tell them it has baby spit in it, ok?

Me Time!

Last week Taylor surprised me with a day all to myself. When I woke up he told me I had two surprises. The first was a hair appointment to get my hairs dyed and cut (he must have had a hint that I was feeling a mess). It was amazing to get my hair done! I hadn’t cut my hair in a year or so (what? I told you I was lazy).

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Next up was an appointment to get an hour long massage. Seriously. It was pure heaven. I was so relaxed at the end that I forgot who I was… It was just what I needed. My neck has been superiorly fucked up lately, and now I feel freaking fantastic! Taylor planned to have Josephine stay at his moms house, so we went to dinner at the toddler unfriendly time of 7:30! I know, it’s like we were teenagers again! Party over here!
But seriously, folks. It was really really nice of Taylor to treat me to a day where I was getting pampered. I don’t take time for myself really at all. From the moment I get up until I drop into bed I am mostly doing things for other people (although I suppose I am cleaning the house for my own benefit too, but you know what I mean). I understand why people say you have to put yourself at the top of the list sometimes, but I also know why so many moms just don’t. Or feel like they can’t.
Being a mom (a parent in general) is non stop work. Joyful work, yes, but work nonetheless. It is easy to forget to nurture yourself when you are busy nurturing your little one. It’s easy to put self care off because, well, you know babies grow quick so you better cherish the time, play and get dirty with your child, teach her life lessons, manners, empathy, make meals and give baths, make time for the messy stuff like painting, muddy puddles, running wild, and plus the dishes need to be done, the floor needs swept, that bathroom is dirty again, and those weeds don’t pull themselves you know! And then for some of us there is our outside of the house job too. Reports, meetings, data collection, meetings, strategic plans, more meetings. Phew!
So thank you Taylor, for remembering that sometimes a mama needs to feel like a lady too. And for seeing what I need, even when I don’t have the time or the forethought to ask for it. Thank you for being so thoughtful and proactive. Thank you for forcing me out of mama mode every once in a while when I get completely sucked in. Thank you for being. I love you. Your crazy fast mind thinks of everything!
Oh, and p.s. If you need a haircut, Irene is amazing. Email me if you want her info. And for an out of this world massage, Michelle at Zenia’s Yoga and Massage is so, so good.
And now, back to life…..
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