Sunrises

I wrote this post over several days during the last week. I wasn’t going to share it because it seemed so “dark.” Then I thought, well, so what if it is? God made the light and the dark. So here’s to the dark times that lead us to the light. There is always a sunset…and a sunrise.

Almost seven years ago, I was a newly married 28 year old bouncing around the country on fun trips with my husband, being phased out of a job I hated (the highly overrated pharma sales rep) and taking pilates certification courses. I was in love, traveling, enjoying friends and family, eating well, moving my body and feeling pretty balanced.

I remember sitting in my Pilates certification class focusing on anatomy and structure of the body. Our instructor told us, “You will have clients that literally have crooked spines. They won’t be able to lay flat like you do. They have probably been crooked so long that it feels right to them. This will be a process for the straight spine to feel normal-straight.” Their normal is crooked.

Around this same time a shift started in my body and soul. I knew we wanted kids, I knew I hated my sales job and I knew my husband was the best person on the planet and if I could just make little versions of his big brown eyes and long eyelashes, I would be in love with being a mommy. I had also just returned from our trip to Hawaii where Scott’s brother and his girlfriend had introduced me to this whole new way of eating. Eating clean.

Everything was coming together…if I could just keep it all this way, I would be in my shoes forever.

To retell the story of the last seven years would mean I have time on my hands like the last seven years didn’t happen. There has been endless amounts of joy and pride and learned lessons and ooey gooey human emotion. However, there has been so many shadows of self-doubt, lack of faith, comparison, misconceptions on what matters, false beliefs, battles of will and control and the crazy notion that less is always worse.  A lonely heart in a sea of caring, present smiling faces of a village. So much crooked that it started to feel straight, even though it wasn’t.

I’m tired. Control sucks the very life out of your lungs. Control steals your joy. Control makes you think your wrong, not sometimes – but all of the time. So as long as you can find one or two manageable things to blame and then fix and then keep perfect, you are good. You’re back in the driver seat and you won’t have dreams about driving down a mountain without breaks. A sense of control can make you forget about all the little things that bring you joy, because as you focus with blinders on that one thing, that one tangible thing you have made real, you miss all the unexplained beauty that is floating right by your tired eyes.

When control flares up, nothing else matters.

I know because I have lived it. Living with the fury of a top-secret mission to hide what is really going on by making sure one little corner is so very neat and tidy create an illusion(delusion) all the other nooks and crannies don’t matter.

I lost most control when I couldn’t figure out how to force my body to be pregnant. I took all focus off loving my husband and being open to a family and put all the strain and pressure on me. Why is MY body failing me? What am I doing wrong? What could I do better? How do I fix this?

When we turned up pregnant with triplets, all the control was lost. At the time, I was finally ready to surrender and wave the white flag. It was almost 36 weeks of out-of-body experience. Scott still can’t believe how at peace a huge, pregnant lady that normally won’t eat French fries or miss a workout was content to sit in a hospital bed for six weeks, eat burgers and shakes and stare out the window like an old, peaceful woman in a retirement home. God had gifted me peace that surpasses all understanding, but even that came with a lesson of understanding. An understanding it doesn’t just stay floating on the surface of human emotion. Peace comes and goes, and in order to stay there and let God be in control, you have to turn it over again and again.

After the triplets were born I was in a bit of a euphoric state. People were there to help, meals dropped at the door, the babies slept like cherubs swaddled in their sweet, tissue like blankets. I held them on my chest and it all felt right. And then as months passed, it started to unravel. Piece by piece.

Anxiety crept in. Peace crept out.  Eventually it was full-blown post partum, if you want to label it, and it was so out of control that here I was again.

Fast forward to baby #4. I prayed to have it all turn out the way I wanted it. The way I needed it to be. A lot of pressure was put on the situation and it almost felt like every little stage was a test to be passed. We very much planned for a baby 4, but we very much didn’t expect it would happen. We got pregnant the first month we tried. Shock, yes - but a “big check in the box we had planned” happened. I did prenatal yoga, researched endless amounts of ways to stay healthy, birth naturally and breast feed, hired a doula and then waited. 41 weeks and 28 hours of natural birth later, the other boxes had been checked. I had so much joy I could have exploded. In a way, all I had ever dreamed of in this mothering chapter of my life had come true. The tests I set up for myself were passed and it was all handed to me…I felt safe and in control since my wants and needs were so perfectly met.

Then the wheels fell off again. I was tricked into thinking I would just turn to God in gratitude and praise. It’s easier to fret about what happened yesterday and to be paralyzed about how I’m going to survive tomorrow instead of taking a quiet minute, pray and give it over.  I am really good at tightly closing my hands in prayer, offering gratitude with a hint of desperation that “He please won’t take it all away.” Where I’m lacking is the act of being still, really turning my mind off and then opening my hands to receive — the time where you hear that answered prayer and the spirit inside lands all of the answers on that open palm.

Funny, however, that all that work to stay on top of feeling in control sucks every last living piece of energy you have. Juggling balls and not letting them drop 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – even when in rest – will make you weary to the bone, miss sunrises even when you’re staring at them and lead you absolutely nowhere except right where you don’t want to be.

Josie had a lot of digestive issues and reactions to foods I was eating her first year of life. I took that one and ran. I was committed for various reasons to breast feed her, so  I barely ate for 9 months to make sure she was able to heal. And from nine months to about two weeks ago when we introduced milk I had a pit in my stomach that it would all come back with any new bite I, or she, took. At sixteen months we are still breast-feeding, so I’ve taken it all on – physically and mentally – the good, the bad, the ugly and fortunately all the beauty too. The triplets happened to all be 2.5 – 3.5 over the last year. As triplets happen, they were all 2.5-3.5 at one time. If you have kids or grandkids, there isn’t much else to say there. We built a new home over the last year. Like from scratch — not like cake from a box, the real thing. We built this mother. Picked out every last grout line and shower head. Which means we also moved. All six bodies and all of that stuff.  And we still had to feed our kids, pay bills, wipe butts, shower and generally show up to the show of life. And there I was, chasing newly potty trained three-year olds with a baby on my boob, paint swatches in my hand, a cooler in my car so I could eat my “safe foods” and a beautiful life movie that I rarely got to see because I was busy directing the scenes. Yep, you guessed it, back to where I started.

It’s a win God’s grace saved me from completely breaking. The fog is lifting and I can say “Wow.” It was all so hard yet all so simple. And here I am sitting in it. What now?

So anyway, as dark as this may seem I PROMISE I have still seen a lot of those sunrises, breathed in life and celebrated all the little things that motherhood, wifehood and human being hood invites us to. It is because I have an inner spirit that never gives up, never fails and never lets go. It’s not my spirit. It’s the light that connects me to you and you to her and her to him. My light always reflects the light in you, if you stop to see it.

Like Quinn likes to say when he simply doesn’t know an answer to something … “Because God made it that way.”

The more simple we keep it, the less control we need. The more energy we have. The more sunrises we see.

I was looking in the mirror at my body. The bones are kind of sticking out and I can feel my ribs. The last year has taken a toll on me. I’m still breast-feeding, so 16 months later – it’s all just a little awkward, so I don’t stop and look at this body much. In fact, I never really look at my body. I am always on to the next, on to the next and why would I ever stop and look when I know what is there? For once, last week, I stopped and looked. Like really looked and honored the creation, the vessel, God gifted me almost 34 years ago. This body has done so much. My legs learned how to walk. My brain developed thoughts, then sounds, then words and eventually strung together sentences to tell others what I am thinking. My hands learned to write. My body recovered from countless flus, colds and strep throats. It danced. It was beat on with beer, late nights and pizza for four years and kept on loving. It  has been deprived of meals when it cried  hungry to fit in jeans, look better than the next girl or to just feel like I had control over something. It has also been floating in the clouds with not a care in the world, soaking up the sun, sharing bread and a little wine, feeling joy to the brim. It carried three babies. It carried another baby. It was cut open to let three lives make way to the light, ALL AT ONCE, and then healed again like nothing ever happened. It rode waves and a hurricane to get out-of-the-way for another baby to arrive and stood up in grace minutes after the miracle. It has nourished babies with milk. It goes when I need it too and it stops when I tell it to. It feels sorrow and joy and pain and adrenaline, sometimes in the same minute. It never makes mistakes. It is an amazing temple at which we could pray at every day. It is ignored and short-changed, yet it still loves and supports our every move.

My body is amazing.

And about that mind.

Fortunately and unfortunately, is part of this amazing body.

Our gut, it’s bridge.

After six years of being drawn to making the body and mind come together in harmony – I am starting a new chapter that isn’t really new at all. Just one that has been waiting. I’m not closing the old chapters, because they are all part of who I am now — scars from life events that don’t go away just because the time period went away. Picking open scabs and then healing them with fresh air of acknowledgment instead of bandages of time.

Simply opening my hands to receive. Following my gut.

With the help of my family and village and a leap of faith, I am a student again. If you know me, you know I love knowledge. I just L.O.V.E. to soak up and share it with others. I love to learn about how we can feel our best. I also have this completely weird affinity to food, culture and the community that used to exist before McDonald’s and fast food and want to go back in time to a place where mamas raised babies with other mamas, when we ate from a garden and we spent time at a table. I think there is a healthy space where a woman/mama/man/papa can exist in using herself/himself as the measuring stick, not the parent next to them at the park. Parenting together with instinct, not apart in fear and legality. Feeding our souls and bodies well, accepting what we put in our mouth and minds. Letting comparison and judgment of ourselves and others go out like waves. Feeling joy – not guilt - from whole foods and a spark of life from treats that we bask in like sun. And in 2014, in middle America we can exist in a reality which includes wonderful places to teach kids about food like local farmers markets and meals made from scratch with love…but also with birthday parties and red food die and football games and beer. Just like our gut bridges our minds and bodies … reality always bridges what we hope for and the real world.

Living on one spectrum will kill your spirit. Settling peacefully on that bridge will erase guilt and unrealistic expectations. I am on quest to set up camp on that bridge.

I’ve lived many years worried about how I look to others, what I’m putting in my mouth or not, what they are doing, what we are doing together or not and so on.

I just don’t want my daughters or son to know this as reality. The cycle has to break somewhere. So if I do it for anyone, I have to do it for them.

kids

I want to slow it down. All of it. And this is the start. In a lot of ways, I hope this is the end for things… but without those things, there would have been no beginning to breaking the cycle of self-doubt, fear and comparison.

I hope my daughters (and son) love their body, mind and the spirit that flows in and out of them. I hope they have faith in hard times and jubilant praise in the good times. I hope they look in the mirror and see an amazing work of art. I hope they look at a plate of food and see healthy and whole nourishment. I hope they look all around and see the light reflecting back at them as they shine just as bright.

 

So here we go. I am open to it all. I’m not announcing all of this because I have a resolve and it’s all figured out. I’m sending out an intention because good enough isn’t what we were made for. Not sure where the road leads, but I guess I don’t have to know. Usually the road is already paved if you pay attention.

Part of my road will be paved here — Institute of Integrative Nutrition. Their mission “…play a crucial role in improving health and happiness, and through that process, create a ripple effect that transforms the world.” In short, they are coaching us to coach others during this health and spirituality crisis. I love so much about the theories taught here, but my favorite thing, and what made me finally say yes, was their core theme of primary food. Primary food is NOT food at all — it is relationships, career, physical exercise & spirituality. The point is, it doesn’t matter what you put in your body if all these things are off. The body and mind need to dance like no one is watching, together – not separate.

So for the next 12 months I will be keeping up with the dance of child of God, Wife and Mom…hoping the bridges stay strong and short between them all. I’ll let you know how it goes.

The movie seems to always go on. Sunrises and all. I’m just going to try a little harder to wake up and see more of them. Hands open, not closed, in prayer.

 

 

Whatever is Lovely

In the course of 24 hours the thoughts that run through my head are not anywhere near always lovely.

Yet these types of things happen all around me:

Josie’s big open mouth in the morning ready to babble, kiss and smile and giggle cough with those white baby teeth…da da, maaaa maa

Gracie, leaning over, no matter what else is going on, with her dark and honey curls blowing in the wind across her forehead, picking dandelions – because to her, they are the cream of the crop and every window of time is a good opportunity to stop and pick the flowers…

Quinn, his determination and will to be all that he is. Standing there on the bathroom rug, wrapped in our oversized bath towel, his thick eyelashes heavy and dark from water … looking up at me saying with not a hint of doubt, “I’m a superhero…because I never, ever get scared. Because I’m a superhero.” Me: “Yes, buddy, you are brave!” Q: “Mime am” …

Harper, her skinned up and bruised legs with her porcelain face, arms raised up to be carried because she just gets shy. Her heart pours out peacemaking…”Here Gracie, you can wear this dress” (the one I chose and have had on an hour) or “Here, Quinn, you can have my snack.” …

Something about watching Gracie & Harper watching Frozen together, girly giggles secret from the world, leaning their bodies into each other so pigtails and ringlets touch… do you wanna build a snowman…

My only son. Dancing with a girl at a wedding. He may only be 3. She was only 5. I didn’t approve…I may never. Sigh.

Pigeon toes with tiny awkward steps… chubby avocado smudged fingers wrapped around our fingers as she sees the world from a whole new view…. not a dark cloud in her blue sky. Watching what it truly means to fall and get back up. Human spirit forming right in front of us. The pure joy of having a real life baby in our home.

The pride in his face that is new since he became a Daddy. The phone calls at 8:34 am to make sure I’m OK. The way he throws her up…ONE MORE TIME, every time. How he rushes in her room when the baby cries. The way he teaches him and the secrets I’ll never know from the boy car rides. The way he makes her laugh. Truly thankful my stomach, nine years later, still jumps when he calls me.

 Kissing puffy jellyfish cheeks until they turn white.

Watching Gracie practice her knowledge of holidays…(coming into my bedroom this morning on Mother’s Day…carrying a card for me, no envelope, huge smile of bashful pride on her face)  “Here’s a card for you mommy… it says, ‘Dear Mommy’ … Today is your day you were born. Because it’s God’s birthday. And he was a baby. A little bitty cute baby like Josie.”  (The lovely pink card reads “Happy Valentines Day Granddaughter” …I’ve never loved the thought of a card so much in my life.)

Quinn, putting on his shoes, “I got rid of my baby toe. Because I’m a big boy now. When I keep getting bigger and bigger, I’ll drink ‘beard’ like Daddy and go to work. And drive a van. ”

All the kids are outside and I’m in nursing Josie. Harper roaming in at her leisure, walking with her head in the clouds and her feet just waiting to trip and add more scabs to those speckled knees. She’s in her Cinderella gown and she’s singing “Following the leader, the leader, following the leader” … (and again.) When she sees me watching her, a crooked smile.

Sleepy blue eyes after a nap. Baby koala hugs with a tight grip. And yes, even those middle of the night nursing sessions. The quiet of the house and the pure and mindless connection of mother and baby. When so, so much else takes all of my mind, this just is.

Walking the unfinished floors of our new home at sunset with just Scott. No lights are installed, so the house seems extra quiet and dim, one of the last times I bet it feels this way. Drinking a glass of wine out of a plastic cup…imagining what is to come within these walls and laughing at some of the “design mistakes” we have made as a team…

The list could go on. And the list could certainly take a path of not so lovely. I boil everyday and yell and act ugly and then wonder why my unrested and overplayed three-year olds ever would yell at me.

All I wanted was to be a mommy. And now it seems like all I know is how to be a mommy. Giving and giving, not much taking. And when Mother’s Day comes we almost expect it to, POOF, give us some of that energy or life back. I know when I am spent (everyday) I almost fall into victim mode of “why me” or “seriously, God?”

Just like the annoying advice to forgive someone for yourself, I think I have to stop expecting anything.

God tells us clearly to focus on what is lovely…

Not on a clean house that isn’t real. Or on a perfectly planned Mother’s Day weekend. Or even to think about the life you thought you would have had. Or dream of when it may be easier.

Today, on Mother’s Day, I’m gifting myself this intention.

…whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things (Phil 4:8)

I sure would miss a lot if I didn’t sometimes. The crap will always be there, but sometimes I just can’t think about it another second. Kids whine. Three year olds poop their underwear at the park. Babies blow out diapers. Teeth need brushed…like twice a day x 4 … Every inch of skin x 4 needs sunscreen. Every inch of at least one child fights it. Bladders magically fill up at the end of the drive out of our neighborhood. Daughters leave the house refusing underwear (in a dress). They come into your bedroom at 2 am totally naked and acting as if it’s totally normal to crawl in bed and ask for a snack. They usually don’t sleep through the night. They fight over a piece of fuzz because “it’s not fair. That’s MINE.” They take 2.5 hours to get out the door, and that’s just out the door to the garage. They crawl so fast you turn your head and in one blink they are at the top of the stairs eating quarters. They suck it out of you and then you sit on the floor and just stare. Four kids talk non stop while you drive down the road and you wonder if you can keep your eyes open to feed, bathe and get everybody up the stairs. Trying to plan an escape route for coffee…or better yet, thinking about a glass of something red and delicious…that you probably won’t even drink because now it’s 8:30 and you’re ready for bed.

These are all thoughts and they are part of the gig, but it sucks me dry. So today I have to think on something else.

My gift to myself, on this day for the mother…(wow, how far we have come)

is to think on the lovely.

I’ll fail, but that’s why we call it an intention.

PS, Scott has all four kids in the van with him right now. I don’t even know if they have a destination. This is the FIRST time in almost 12 months I’ve been alone in this house. Let me tell you, this is lovely.

 Kristiniphone 507

Stillness.

josie still

It has been a pivotal week around here.

An old dream resurfaced. Two hot and dark, like steamy morning coffee, yoga classes. Fresh air over 50 degrees and kids running at the park with snotty noses. A conversation with an old friend. An email from a true friend.  Teaching my son what telling the truth is, literally. Watching my girls dance to Frozen, with eyes wide and feet little. Sitting in that pale blue room, in that little rocking chair, at 4 am, letting her be the baby she is. Hitting an all time tired and letting go of logistics that just don’t matter. Admitting I am better when I have help. Accepting I am better when I have help. Knowing I will feel guilty again about needing help. Taking help anyway.  An arrival of my mom and dad to save the day. Scott’s instant support of a big hairy audacious brain child of mine. Eating an orange. Breathing. Seeing some light.

In…push thought away.

Out…push thought away.

In…push thought away.

Out…push thought away.

My breath came easily in the dark hot room. I had 20 other lights, moving in their own space, to carry me with their united heavy breathing. In the stillness, it’s all a little less heavy. United, I’m a little more strong. I often think about Steve Job’s last words when I am at yoga, “Oh Wow, Oh Wow, Oh Wow.”

Like something is being pulled away from your covered eyes.

Rise up this mornin’,
Smile with the risin’ sun,
Three little birds
Each by my doorstep
Singin’ sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true,
Sayin’, This is my message to you-ou-ou: “

Singin’: “Don’t worry ’bout a thing,
‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right.”
Singin’: “Don’t worry (don’t worry) ’bout a thing,
‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right!

I laid on my sticky and slippery yoga mat. Tears and salty sweat stung my eyes. I finally had time to cry. The only noise was a remake of Bob. These old familiar words floated in the background of the studio. Hello stillness, my old friend.

In my stillness, I know being a good mom doesn’t mean doing more. I know showing up to my husband doesn’t mean I always have my shit together. I know being true to myself sometimes means I will feel selfish. I know being a friend sometimes means admitting we aren’t the friends we used to be. I know being who God made me to be doesn’t require a whole lot. I know I will forget all of this over and over.

The truths come two by two when you are still. From my “Jesus Calling” today:

“The voices of the world are a cacophony of voices; challenge them with my Word. Learn to take minibreaks from the world, finding a place to be still in My Presence and listen to my voice.”

You guys, even Jesus is basically telling you to lighten up, go to yoga, go for a run, get a pedi or sit in the garage with the lights off so no one can find you.

This coming Thursday is the first day of Spring.

Spring (season) — according to Wikipedia:

Spring and “springtime” refer to the season, and also to ideas of rebirth, rejuvenation, renewal, resurrection, and regrowth.

Good answer, Wikipedia.

May you find your three birds this weekend. Even if for just 10 seconds. And remember to say “Oh Wow.”

Namaste…the light in me, sees the light in you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rebirth Part 2: The Last Part.

I, without much thought, committed myself to an ongoing saga of my “rebirth.”

That’s really cute.

I need another commitment like I need another kid.

So, as much as I very neatly want to write about parts 2,3 and 4 … and then be “reborn” - probably not how this will happen.

Don’t get me wrong. I have a lot of old that needs to be new. As I sit in the middle of all the noise of three humans figuring out three years on this planet (turns out the planet is theirs to have at this ripe age of three – inspiring, really – if you like that kind of aggression), nurturing a 9 month old that is convinced she was the fourth musketeer, staying present in my marriage and somehow picking every detail from the color of grout to the last piece of trim and countertop and ceiling color in our new house (no pressure), I just have to pray my rebirth saga can wait.

If I had the time I would dig in and write about things like this…

I really would love to shed light on my weirdness and uncomfortable memory of many, many other people holding my first babies before I ever touched them. The sadness that overwhelms me when I think how that perfect warm and thin skin on the side of their wrinkly newborn faces touched so many other things before it touched my chest. The way I must have felt delivering them, watching them wheeled away and then being left to shiver and wait in the OR. And how when I finally held them close, I was confused and out of body.

Or I would love try to and dissect my awkward obsession with my second labor & delivery. That pregnancy and firework finale of meeting the mystery baby that ended up being Josie all along, took me to a place free of ego.  It introduced me to what it is like to trust and trust and trust my God, for He truly brings you to, and then carries you through.

And I think I need to talk about my lonely planet of how natural yet uneasy it’s been to make the choice to nurse/breastfeed my very food sensitive baby for the first year. People, I’m starving. And I feel guilty for all the time that breast feeding takes away from the other three kids. But I love the boob. I do.

And how I know we were supposed to have another baby, but how I just feel like I’m barely connecting with one child, let alone all four, most days. There are days I sit seriously barely awake on the floor with a cup of coffee and let it swirl around me, hugging each one of them every chance I get. I know moms are doing crafts and doing play dates and making organic snacks. And reading lots. I always try for more books and less TV, but Jake and Sophia win a lot… but I am hugging?

And last, but not least, just remembering the ancient practice of being still and living in the total and complete present moment. I know some day I will brush my teeth, we will be in the new house with a fantastic mud room and the kids will sleep through the night and Scott and I may actually connect on something other than house colors and toddler teachable moments. But I know the truth. That future moment isn’t real. The future and past aren’t ours to have or hold. It won’t be any better or any worse in a year. Next year only exists in our fantasies or fears. Four year olds, a walking one year old and a new house won’t change my heart or who I am. That’s the hard part, when the moment you are in feels so rough and tough and tired, you don’t really want to be there, or even be yourself. But truly, I’ll say it again, because so many much smarter people than me in history have said it, the only moment we ever really have is the present. Just like yoga and prayer, showing up to this moment is not an ability you possess, but rather, something you practice. Like a free throw. Over and over and over again. And if you quit practicing, you will miss the basket.

(No baggage at all going on here…nope, clean as a whistle, this one…)

I see this cycle of CONTROL in my life. Now, in our lives. It sneaks up on you. I think I am being all “what will be, will be” and then I’m reminded, I can’t sit down and decide I’m going to write a series of blog posts titled something really earthy and self-reflective and come out on top. Nice try, control addict.

As mentioned, I have been a little sick. I started getting crazy digestive issues around November and a few doctors and a colonoscopy later, I’m left with no real diagnosis and just me and my mind & body to figure it out every second, minute and hour of the day. I went to see our NAET (Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Technique) doctor out of desperation. I took Josie when all of her issues started. (Eczema and green, runny stools with blood – from weeks 8-12. It was super fun. Let me tell you.) I was determined to breast feed because my gut told me any and all formula wouldn’t help her anyway. So I found Karen. She is one of those people, that if you could look at your life from an aerial view, you would see bright lights flashing around her, because God put her there in a really dark time to be a harbor. You may have not needed anything but God himself at the time, but at that really, really dim and scary time you couldn’t see past yourself. So those people show up. They just get you to the next minute of breathing sometimes. Anyway, Karen is awesome but extreme. She had me eat only potatoes and rice for a 24 hour period. Die. I know. But it was the only thing that made Josie stop having bloody diarrhea. Then we knew it wasn’t all allergies, it was digestion. So, anyway, that’s who she is. She has helped our family a lot these last 9 months.

So, of course, I trust her because she has helped us when no one else could. Recently, while in her office, my kids were seriously tackling each other, yelling in that special three-year old pitch and throwing themselves on the ground while Josie was crying because she was cold and confused with no pants on. (I always have an extra outfit for blow outs…in the dresser at home.) I’m trying to write a check because one of the kids got in my wallet and misplaced my debit card … and during all of this, while Karen and her office staff were watching, and without any shame at all, I looked at the kids and said “I AM GOING TO SNAP. STOOOOOOOOOOOP FIGHTING.” Like in that gritted teeth, wide-eyed demonic voice that leaves a vibrating aftermath in your throat. The one you didn’t know you had inside until you have a toddler. The voice you heard a mom do at Babies R Us when you had a newborn and thought “I would NEVER talk you to like that my little perfect pumpkin.” Oh you will. You will. And someday it will be in public.

Karen looked at me and said, “You know, colon issues are symbolic for ‘feeling out of control’.”

Hmmm. My colon is a hot mess. If you lived with me, you would know what a hot mess it is.

It has been on my mind since. My mighty Quinn, at 3, when things don’t seem to be going his way (you know the big stuff – like the girls won’t play pirates or he can’t have his 9th cereal bar for the day) — often will say “It’s all wrong.”

Most days, somewhere along the way, it just feels like that. It feels all wrong. Out of control.

When I am in those moments everything feels tense. I feel like a trapped lunatic. And I know all those blogs say “It’s OK to just be enough even when you aren’t enough” or “slow down and live and just let the laundry sit there” but when you are living the dream and sometimes the dream feels more like a foggy walking night terror with kids that need baths and they call you mommy, it’s just hard. Even harder because you have those amazing, “I love my life, even if it’s messy” kind of days, and then bam, those lunatic days come back and you feel even more out of control…like it’s your fault you can’t MAKE IT A GREAT DAY. I tell my kids this when they don’t want to go to school, “make it a great day.” I just realized that’s a lot of pressure. I’m not going to say that anymore.

I remember being in Paris almost five years ago. I had a horrible sinus infection and was exhausted as we tried to battle the traffic of the first day of fashion week, to get to the airport to fly to the next leg of our trip, Italy. We got there, just in time to see the gate close on our flight. The attendants spoke French to our confused and depleted English speaking brains. We could see our plane sitting there, yet we had missed it. Our $700 flights I had splurged on so we wouldn’t “waste a second of Italy.” Missed.

It was all wrong. And then, something really crazy happened. I cried my eyes out and put my head on Scott’s chest that was t-shirt soft and smelled like home, in that huge, cold and confusing French airport. I don’t do this often. If you are close to me, you know that I don’t dump out cries easily or willingly. I can still remember the way it felt to let Scott take care of my sad self. I once read a good cry is baptismal. Trickling with hope and soft to surrender. And to this day, it’s one of my best memories of Europe. In my discomfort, there was comfort. It was all wrong, but from it, something was born.

Josie was baptized last month. The days leading up to her baptism were rough in our house. She had a really high fever, the kids weren’t sleeping and everyone was cranky from lack of fresh air. I really wanted to cancel the whole thing. However, somehow we all got up that snowy Sunday morning, got dressed, packed the van and made the trip 2 hours north, to my hometown church, where I, too, was baptized. Our family members had made the same trip in the cold & filth that morning, just to be there, smiling for us and with us. We all stood at the front of the church, showing up as the village. Josie in my mom’s almost seventy year old baby gown, and me standing in awe and shock that she is still even here. We were all silent as we watched this new life be celebrated and dedicated. Hope and surrender. Again, it felt like home.

Even in tough seasons, there is always hope somewhere. The dream is unfolding in it’s present moment day after day.

Talk about a slice of rebirth.

uodated josie bap

I am good at finding ways to miss the present moment that actually carries all that hope. I beat myself up instead of taking a look around and letting the sights, smells and sounds create comfort. Over silly things like how I let my kids have “picnic lunches” often. (This means they have something frozen on a plate in front of the TV so I can tend to Josie or actually eat my lunch). I feel a deep loss for not being able to get out of the house socially. I usually say no if asked. Yoga is my fuel, I’ve gone once in 9 months. I sat next to a mom today at ballet (attending ballet class is a whole other ball of self despair for me) that said “Well, I try to make it to the gym six days a week.” I wanted to find her kid in the class and hope that she had major issues from the withdrawal she must feel from a mother that actually puts herself before her child like this. Oh, wait, I was just a jealous. Her kid was normal and cute. As my counselor would say I was “making her the ‘plus’ and me the ‘minus’.” Or lets talk about the time you thought ”one baby will be easy” and it just about kills you. And how “if I breastfeed a year” I will be exempt from guilt. Nope, already in the boxing match that I want to quit after a year. Oh man. Nothing is sacred anymore.

When you’re not looking or trying, rebirth happens everyday. In the present moment that will always be peppered with our past and made sweet by the promise of the future. Thank you God for the amazing grace offered to all of us wretches that live in our past lives of freedom and are fooled into thinking that new house or new job or next age will be bigger and better. And that’s all for now. I’m off to tend to three kids at 6 am who are using that special voice while slamming and flushing the toilet over and over and over…and the day begins. But it’s the only day we have, right?

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small scott and jsmall jos and me

 

Rebirth.Part 1:The Exhale

I just haven’t had the time or energy to write, and when I do, I haven’t been hitting publish because my story doesn’t seem to be tied up with a pretty bow yet. Bloggers are often guilty of telling a story with a “here is your moral of the story” slant. I don’t have that, sorry folks.

I believe we are gifted intricately crafted stories that allow us to learn about the strength and grace we possess . Each trial (sucky thing)teaches us that we can do really, really hard things. These findings are powerful and are not something we should be bashful about. If you have faith that is even a smear of a mustard seed – then you should believe you are a shining city on a hill. That light should explode like a firework and people from all over should be afforded the chance to play witness. When you realize you aren’t alone in this, then you have rocket fuel to keep going. To know why you are alive and to breathe in the very breath of life. For it is when we are hopeless that we can gain hope, right? My girl Glennon recently posted about an interdependence day – how we need to be weak so others can be strong. How sweet a sound that is. We can put our guard down and let our big girl panties fall to our ankles and be a mess. Because when we are a mess, someone else can soar. I read her words at 5 am on January 22, 2014 – 8 months to the day after I (we gave birth) to #4. Then I read a devotional called “Rebirth.” Then I had a colonoscopy. Then I woke up. We walked outside and the sunrise was a bright and luminous pink. Everything felt pink and OK that morning.

Flowers005I just knew I had to start writing. In sharing words, it is my first step in the journey of a thousand to experience my rebirth.

From my devotional that morning:

Renavatio: Rebirth: discarding the old and embracing the new. Breath of life, breathe into me Your sweet joy and peace. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Amen.

Here is my way of letting others see my mess, so feel free to soar as you read.  Words that are finally ready to be born. It starts way back when I wanted a baby, and it just hasn’t finished yet. I don’t know how many parts this will have. I guess I’ll just keep writing until I have that bow to wrap around my words. Sit tight. That may be awhile.

But as I write, I feel like I am starting to just breathe again. So thank you.

The Exhale

I started to write and journal as a means to dumping out what was negative, back when all I wanted was a baby. I had blinders on and didn’t realize that my hunger was for so much more than a baby. It was fueled by want, romance and the unknown — all things that make sense after two exciting  years of courting and then marrying the man I love with all my heart. The record had stopped on my fairytale and I wanted to turn the page to the happy ending.

I left my safe medical sales job to go work for a company called lululemon. You may know them, you know – the “tata tamers” and “no camel toe” yoga clothing? So I took this grass-roots marketing position and got to travel all over … Chicago, Nashville, Vancouver…and basically, well, do yoga, learn about myself and others and how to make all of them (including me) better, shinier and happier people. So as I recall, I was alone in Nashville one rainy afternoon in between hot vinyasa and my next shot of wheatgrass, and I wrote this piece on what I pictured the whole gig – motherhood that is – to be.  At the time I was reading a book about how strong our minds are and it suggested that you make out the story and picture of what you really want and just start to believe it has already happened. In some neck of the woods, like mine, you could call this prayer. Prayer on paper, as it has always worked for me. Kind of funny, because while I was in Nashville, yoga studio and Whole Foods hopping, the week before Mother’s Day 2010 (Mother’s Day always sticks out like a sore thumb for me), I was already pregnant and didn’t yet know it. Like not kind of pregnant. Like three baby pregnant.

So the image, the dream, the prayer — went something like this:

I am sweaty and exhausted from labor. He is right next to me. The baby comes out all pink and screaming and warm. The baby is on my chest. Then the baby is held in the air, just like the lion king. And we are all so happy. He is crying. So am I. So is the baby. So warm. So good. The circle of life.

And then my image ended. I love. love.love my innocence. I really think I thought the circle of life was this bomb of emotion and everything from there on out would sort of fall under this extraordinary feeling and range of human emotion that surpassed all things wonderful. It must just be the holy grail of adult life. And if I can J.U.S.T. get there…all will be right.

So, now, every time my kids dance in a literal circle, holding hands, swaying around gently because moving in a circle and dancing is still relatively new to their three-year old legs, while our Disney CD belts Elton singing the “Circle of Life” , I tear up. Really, this is it. The circle is drawn and I’m in the middle of it. I’m dancing on the line. I’m falling off its rounded corners. I’m on the outside looking in. I drew it. I had nothing at all to do with the design. I was right. And I was all wrong.

 In the circle of life
It’s the wheel of fortune
It’s the leap of faith
It’s the band of hope
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the circle, the circle of life

Leap of faith. Band of hope. No truer words for this parenting planet.

You could guess on December 16, 2010 – the real life looked nothing like my forecasted image.

It looked bigger and better and scarier and just harder to catch that breath than I thought it would be . Different, but sweet and salty and full of what life is made of. Like the country song, ”the good stuff.”

Hours after giving birth to the triplets, I was dazed. I really was. So happy and on the starting line waiting for the gun to go off so I could mother my life away. Poor girl, just look at me. I’m in no shape to run the race, but I did anyway. PS, I’ve never shared these pictures publically because of how SCARY I look. But maybe it’s time you saw the truth. I wasn’t one of those girls that you would say, “You looked beautiful after you delivered.” I just wasn’t.

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What is really interesting is that my second delivery, fourth child, resembled my original dream with scary vivid outcome. The sweaty hair, the daddy right there crying, the pink and warm baby on my chest.  I even had a vision board that showed a girl doing yoga while pregnant that said “May 2010 Baby”…only to laugh later that I didn’t get pregnant that September in Italy like I had planned in a tight ball of control, I did no yoga because I was on bed rest with triplets and the babIES came in December not May. Could we kind of laugh that the 2nd time around I did yoga each and every week, up until the point that I pushed her out, really, and she came in May…a couple years off? 08072-DSC_6321

God just knows way more than we do. I think it’s interesting that we sometimes think we are setting our own destiny, when in fact, there is a still small spirit that lives inside of us that whispers our heart’s desires. But here is what I learned, not one or the other tasted sweeter in the grand scheme of things. Both were real and rich and they are part of who I am now, forever and ever amen. In the wake of all the storms, I am so grateful and in awe of the storyline crafted just for me. For them. For all of us.

What is also part of me is the real life fact that I suffer from post permanent transformation. I really despise the word post partum depression. Depression claims lives in many ways, I know this to be true. So does anxiety. But what happens to you after you grow a life, offer every one of your hormones over and then in one flash give that all back to the world while handing over sleep, balanced nutrition and exercise, good dental health, adult social interaction, your once round unsucked boobs, once flat stomach and hips that I swear sat 2 inches higher along with chunks of the hair framing your face, and in some extreme cases, a car that doesn’t have sliding doors. Come on, this type of experience should NOT have a blanket medical diagnosis or type of general term.

Post partum depression, anxiety, guilt, exhaustion, mood swings, brain fog. Check, check, check… It is not that page tucked into your discharge folder that tells Daddy to “make sure it’s not just the blues.” It’s a feeling. A state of being. It’s a physical manifestation. It is a push and pull to be stubborn and pull through. It’s blaming yourself for not feeling like yourself. It’s wanting to say yes to dinner plans but not being able to. It’s wanting to remember things but living in a thick cloud of brain fog. The confusion of what you used to be and enjoy and what you look like now and take small pleasures in. It can also be allowing yourself to milk that emotional state for the good – to steal moments of tears while you stare at those little amazing lives dancing to their own rhythm. And maybe letting those tears flow to a stranger or a friend or that little baby, so they know real life. And it sucks and it’s OK. It is where I am. Its wherever you land, and I’m telling you, the more I ride the wave and let it be, and stop trying to dissect and analyze, the quicker the shore seems to show itself.

Have you seen Good Will Hunting? The movie? Where Robin Williams was the therapist and Matt Damon was his patient. Matt Damon was stubborn and didn’t think he needed therapy, but he was court mandated to see him due to anger, so there he sat, being counseled. Remember when the therapist corners the patient one therapy session by repeating over and over again, “It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault” in an effort to tell Matt Damon that, “Yes you are a screwed up tornado of DNA and scars and emotion – but some of that…it isn’t your fault!!???”

Well, as I sat in that doctor’s office, almost eight months post partum, I had my Good Will Hunting moment. It took me getting sick to realize that how I feel isn’t my fault. Hormones, thyroid, levels of random things in my blood like cortisol and vitamin D – all not normal. She actually said you are tougher than you know because all of this makes it harder for you to deal than the next person. You are fighting and you just don’t have the fight.

Wow. She just gave me permission to not blame myself. And wow, it isn’t my fault.

I just believe that the way we often feel after this whole wanting a baby, picturing your perfect everything, having that first trimester of ups of “how exciting I can buy pregnancy magazines and eat extra calories” and the downs of “holy shit what did I just get myself into and I’m so sick that I don’t even care if I eat McDonalds for breakfast lunch or dinner and can I please just take a nap”??  To the second trimester of kicks and incredible belly growing to the third trimester of nesting and dreaming and fretting. Then to the moment it happens, where it is so big that you just can’t be present enough to soak it all in, to the special and magical hospital stay where it’s all quiet and slow and all about you and baby. To the homecoming where you think the outfit matters but all that really matters is how safe the trip home is and how “am I really taking this small new life home to be under my care” ? And then the first weeks of figuring it all out, the adrenaline, the power surge to do it all, the crash, that first cry in the shower where you really hope Daddy and Grandma have it under control because you are planning your exit strategy. To that first trip to Target with the new baby, that first trip to Target without baby, the full boobs, the bleeding! (yep, I’ll say it), the puddles of night sweats, the mixed emotion of rubbing your empty belly in the shower 2 days after the baby is born, the joys and the fears… the real life of getting to know the eyes, the nose and the smell of someone new…

The way you feel, good or bad or indifferent. It’s just OK. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault.

We mamas like to blame ourselves…but I wanted a baby. I just always feel tired. I keep walking over the same toy and I can’t pick it up. I exploded at a three-year old. I thought I was off the clock at 3 am, why am I so selfish? Why can that mom attend play dates so effortlessly? Why can’t I say yes more?  Why does my brain fog allow me to think I’m cooking eggs when the gas skillet has never been turned on? Why can Daddy have so much energy to chase and tumble? Why me? Why am I just always a bit under the bar?

All of it. It’s so big. It’s a rebirth. You really are an awkward baby learning the way. And no one is there to change your diaper when you shit your pants out of fear.

Realizing it’s not all a dream or a vision. It’s real. And here you sit. Having done all of that. Having all these expectations of you. And it’s time to take a breath.

For me, both pregnancies ended in what felt like a half breath. I couldn’t quite catch it both times. Maybe like I just kept breathing in but just forget or am not capable of getting it all out. I dont’ want to miss this short all-inclusive first year of sweet honey bee Josie, my fourth precious gift in this life. Nor do I want to forget the magic of a little life just because they are three and seem so grown up — those toes and fingers are the same toes and fingers that kicked my inner belly and twinkled in the sun when they were days old. Sometimes my body and mind aren’t in the game, so I try to pull from behind that distraction of an ego.

So sometimes I stare at things like her little fuzzy sleeper covered feet, the wide open cracks between her toes, smell her neck behind her hair extra long. Sing to her and really watch her eyes. Let her nurse herself to sleep every night, listening to Jewel sing lullabies to us both…lingering in the presence of angels and a drowsy, dependent baby. Stop what I’m doing and let all three get a little too close, act a little too dangerous with her, because she is just as much their’s as she is mine. I cuddle her in. I call her baby, knowing you just don’t freaking get babies very long – something I didn’t grasp my first rodeo round. I hold her up and out and dance her. I hold her longer. touch my nose to her nose. I let him, the boy, turn Captain Fantastic on my phone and dance his lawnmower and close his eyes and sway to the music, and I watch him like a piece of art. I sit really still when Gracie girl looks at me with wide and wise eyes while she brushes the hair back from my face over and over again, like she is the mommy and I am the baby. I silence the voice to get one more thing done when all Harper wants is to follow me, be with me and just be a kid. Oh God, I may implode and bust at the seams and act like a mutant mommy sometimes, but thank you for your grace — they are perfect in your sight.

Through pleading to the still spirit inside, while physically telling the ball in my stomach to release, I can do this. Days look like this – we wake up and I am ready to hammer out the day. Then the day happens. So my prayer looks like this often – “Please God. God. Please.” My physical and mental state don’t match my gratitude or desires. The plan is to look back to this blurry time of my life and know I was there. I was a crazy mess, but I was still in those moments and I drank them in, even in the dark. My friend who has also had some bananas medical issues after babies has often said when she has a bad day she just can’t see her kids. When it’s a good day it’s like looking at them through different glasses. I try to put my reading glasses on so I can see the book, even if I can’t make out the letters.

Somedays I don’t think I can survive. I just want to curl up in a ball and close my eyes until everything fades away. But behind and in front and around the corner, there is a story. So, in my 5 minutes here and my 3 minutes there, I will attempt to share the journey. I have some healing to do, lucky you, I’m going to open up and share it here. It’s scary telling the truth…I have never really been nervous to hit the “publish” button, and this morning I am. But you know, sometimes I listen when God whispers. The whisper to share is getting annoying… So here it goes.

And the story unfolds…I am starting to exhale.

Unsolicited Mothering Advice.

They, whoever they are - the ones that make up all the heart string pulling quotes like “Kids are your heart walking around outside of your body..” or “The days are long and the years are short”  - once said, “When a child is born, so is a mother.”

So, yes. I totally agree with all of this and I get teary eyed and all goose bumpy when I hear them or say them or write them. They are all true.

For example, I have felt my heart outside of my body — I have felt it explode and melt and be broken and frustrated, all in one hour with one two-year old walking (sometimes flailing) around. In fact, sometimes my heart burns as I watch it outside of my body walk around saying funny grown up phrases straight from my mouth…or just saying (whining) Mommy on repeat at 5 pm because it must feel so good to say when they feel so bad.

And sometimes I would bet my life that when I look at the clock at 9:18 it HAS to be P.M., not A.M., but know the year will go by before I even noticed it started. Yep, the days are long and those years fly by.

Who am I to argue against the romance of “When a child is born a mother is born?” I get it. I wasn’t truly a mother until I was Quinn’s chest to lay on. And Harper’s arms to hold her. And Gracie’s lap to sit on. And now Josie’s … well, let’s just call a spade a spade – her boobs to feast on.  I would know their cries and laughs anywhere. I am a mother.

But the part they left off,  the asterisk to this sweet quote, does the woman before the mother die when the mother is born? Where does she go? 

I get glimpses of that pre-mom girl. Since Jos was born, the glimpses are tiny. Like little peeks over an economy chair into first class. Like OH, this is how the other people are living. Sometimes I go to Target ALONE. Every once in a while I have a coffee and it tastes so warm and tasty that I forget I‘m inhaling it for fuel to get through to noon, where the “will they take a nap or not” anxiety settles in. 

This motherhood stuff is hard. How can you single-handedly feel like you are failing all day and everyday while being solely responsible for investing your heart, time and finances in growing and developing a future well-rounded, loving, unsocially weird, smart, empathetic God fearin’ human that will just one day fly the coop?

See? Hard.

I feel sad and happy and guilty and fearless every day. If you have ever had an imbalance of hormones, emotions and days that you don’t get out of your pajamas and are surrounded by clutter and dirty dishes and clothes that never make it out of “I’m clean and half folded but will sit here and be used again before I ever see the closet” purgatory, you know how exhausting it is. And how it wreaks havoc on a perfectly balanced state of being. Balance is not a word I would use for much during these years of young life in the house.

As a parent of four kids under three, you can imagine the unsolicited advice and shockingly awkward responses I get. But, I’m not a hater. I find myself saying dumb, unnecessary things to new moms all the time. Later I always think, why did I just verbal vomit my own crap on her? Who knows, it’s the fault of an overly tired and depleted person, you want others to share your misery sometimes. If I was well rested I probably wouldn’t care my 2 1/2 year olds started pooping all over the floor after being potty trained and your 18 month old is perfectly trained with no accidents. But guess what, I’m human and I compare and I care. Oh Jesus, help my soul.

Anyway. Some advice and comments along the way from other mothers HAVE helped this newborn mother. After all, babies are born innocent and wide eyed with no real direction, so a mother must be born the same way. Surely others can help pave the way.

Unsolicited advice I loved #1 -

I was in a waiting room during my triplet pregnancy waiting to see a chiropractor for my tension headaches. There was a new mom there with a tiny and fresh newborn. I was on one side of the fence, like I was black and white like pre OZ Dorothy, and she was color like post OZ Dorothy (well, those color assignments depend on the day, really) … and as we talked about her new baby, and my babies on the way, she looked at me and said, “After you have a baby, you truly discover that you are a superhuman.”

Three and a half years later I get this. Yes. Yes I am superhuman. Everyday I grow back the limbs I lost the day before in battle. And I get back up with amnesia of the words exchanged at bed time. I function on next to no sleep or mental rest. I act calm when lips split open & kids spike fevers. I smile and cry and push past the fears and evils lurking everywhere. And I admit I can’t do it all and try anyway.  In the moment I often doubt myself and feel like I’m climbing a mountain that is too steep and long for my body and mind, but then all of a sudden I summit and look back and think, “Dang, who was that girl that conquered that impossible mission (sometimes the mission is 5 minutes of trying to brush three mouths of teeth or one minute of three granola bars opened the wrong way) ?”  Oh yeah, it was me, the mom. The superhuman.

Unsolicited advice I loved #2-

At one of my baby showers, a friend from high school wrote me a really simple note in my card, “Don’t read too many parenting books, they screw up your parenting instinct.”

If you have ever sleep-trained. potty-trained or just basic human trained … can I hear an amen on this one?

The shoulds and the guilt and the frustration and the worry that goes along with this job can be a thief of joy and sanity all in themselves. And when you add in all those books, the should-be’s just get bigger and the gut instinct of a mama bear get more concealed and second guessed. As my friend Kristin says, we as moms, “should on ourselves” all day, every day. I feel guilty for not developing them more, loving them more, hugging them more and certainly hate myself for my out-of-body “I’m so mad I could explode into a million pieces” moments. As moms, I think this “shoulding on ourselves” would be less if we just trusted all we ever really needed for this job is in there, hiding behind that copy of Baby-Wise.

Unsolicited advice I loved #3-

Last week I met a mom at Costco, a grandma now.  We talked over play food at the checkout aisle. I asked her how much it cost from behind my 2 carts of 4 kids and she came over to show me the details of this really cool plastic box of play food. We walked out together for some reason. I do this often…make new friends like a stray dog while in public. The lonely get desperate sometimes.

We continue to talk and I learn she had 4 kids in the stair step manner that so many of you do. See, you all think I am crazy for triplets plus one, but really … how do you all do it, one baby after another? The hormones four times!?! Really?!

So, we talk and somehow I start to cry. I tell her everyday I feel guilty. EVERYDAY. Josie is stuck in her bouncy, the others fight for their needs and at the end of the day, we are all exhausted and often get tucked into bed with no mention of colors or shapes or ABCs … with a short prayer to the good Lord above and sometimes brushed teeth.

She hugged me. This total stranger hugged me and proceeded to tell me how smart and successful and loving her 4 kids are. And how all of them somedays were ignored, but not unloved. She told me that in her house it was never about equality. It was about love and giving everyone what they needed. That’s it. And from this simple equation, everyone was happy and well-loved.

Not about equality? That’s what I strive for everyday. As a mother don’t we think that everybody deserves a piece of our mother pie cut exactly the same? As my sweet & sassy Gracie has been saying lately, ” I don’t THINK SO!!!”

All of this mothering advice has been swirling in my head as I weed wack through some of these remarkably uneventful and at the same time wildly entertaining (like reality TV entertaining) days. As I breathe in every day I try to remember a few simple things…

I am superhuman. Yes I am.

I have all the answers in my gut and my heart, they are not in the books.

And if I love my kids well, all four of them – with my one heart – and notice new and lovely things about them everyday and praise and honor them for those little and big things, I am equally loving them, even if it’s not equal.

And me. What about the needs of that girl before the mother? Well, as I said balance is a far off concept for now. I know the before motherhood me didn’t die…but for now I’m in the season of figuring it all out and being a mother with growing pains and pride. But I know one thing, that girl, with all the fun and freedom and lessons and trials before I was a mother are helping me everyday. I pull from her and sometimes she’s smart. And somedays I’m jealous of her. I feel longing for the days I had my pie to share with just myself. But for today, I am a mother.

And, speaking of pies and mothers, somebody once said, “A mother* is somebody, after seeing there is one piece of pie left, announces she never liked pie anyway.”

*That doesn’t mean that same mother won’t someday go buy herself her own big pie with crumble on top….and a bottle of red wine and a good book and sit in a closet, all alone, with no one to share it with…and have her pie and eat it too.

Someday.

Tupelo Honey

So this took me almost nine weeks to write. Forgive me, mommy-blogging by-laws of personal birth announcements. Excuse my language, but it’s been a bit of a shit storm around here, literally. That’s another story for another day. 

Her name is Josie. Josie Rae.

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I thought I was having a boy. We didn’t know the gender until 8:08 AM on May 22nd, 2013. Almost exactly one week past what the doctors attempted to predict as the day she would enter the world. She was pink. 7 lbs and 20 inches even. Her cry filled the room. She came out sucking her fingers, just ready to latch on for dear life. I think I physically lost my breath. I wish I could remember.

Doesn’t that just give you goose bumps? The day she entered the world. It does me, but I’m her mama, so maybe that’s why. I heard her first cry. I smelled her head, fresh from the angels. And I saw her daddy’s first tear of real pride when he laid eyes on her. This is all real life stuff. The baby blankets I had packed, the freshly laundered in Dreft baby hats (one for a boy, one for a girl), the new maternity gown I had packed … none of it mattered. Life stood still in those precious raw moments when she entered the world. We will never be the same. Thank God we will never be the same. 

It took us almost the whole day to name her. Josie because it fell into place. Rae because it’s Grandpa Richard’s middle name.

A couple of weeks before she arrived I was in the shower doing my nightly swaying and closing my eyes and singing music to the baby. The mystery baby at the time. Oh how I loved not knowing who or what gender was in there. What an indulgent gift.

My music friend, my friend who can make a “mixed tape” for any occasion, had made me a “birth CD” per my request. She surprised me with some Van. You really can’t ever go wrong with Mr. Morrison. “Tupelo Honey” came on and it made me stop and cry. I sort of knew at the moment it was a girl. Maybe I did, but I don’t know.

When I turned around (yes, turned around…someday soon I will actually tell the birth story – it’s my favorite) to see she was a girl, it was like I always had known her. Van was right…the best way to describe this angel in all her soft skin, crooked smiles and gentle coos is like honey from the bee.

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Blessed is not a big enough word, but it’s close.

Shes as sweet as tupelo honey 
Shes an angel of the first degree 
Shes as sweet as tupelo honey 
Just like the honey, baby, from the bee 
Shes my baby, you know shes alright….. 

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Pregnancy Thoughts, Part 2 (as in 40 weeks, 1 day pregnant)

 

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At this point I am obviously no longer with child…however, this is part of the story. (Birth story in the works) Here is a spoiler alert…she is here and she is beautiful

I wrote the below post three weeks ago but just never hit publish for some reason. So here are some of my thoughts in my final days of my final pregnancy. Feels surprisingly good to say that with confidence. I am done with the pregnancy chapter. Wow. It was a short but huge chunk of my life.

With a deep inhale and exhale our new chapter begins. Our family is complete. Just the six of us.

May 17, 2013

40 wks

40 weeks

 

I feel pretty peaceful. I understand that to everyone else I am alien because I am still pregnant…but so far, I’m OK. (So far.)

I feel peaceful, not smart. So don’t expect much from this post.

Seems so braggy to say 40 weeks and 1 day after the way I use to measure my days with the triplets…”I am 30 something weeks, 3 days and 6 hours…”, just trying to keep them in every hour that I could.

I know this time is so precious and slow and full of emotion, yet I know many of the little sweet, and some sour, details will get lost in the pictures and stories. I wish I could somehow bottle up the final days of rumbling and tumbling fireworks I get in my belly at almost exactly 10 pm every night. Or remember how the older babies are saying each and every new word or sentence right now. Their brains are so fun to watch, it’s hard to imagine they were ever at the start line, like this little mystery inside.

I have been reading a lot of Ina May Gaskin this pregnancy. Her outlook on the organic magic of birth is contagious and the birth stories she shares are gold. She says that birth, no matter how you experience it, will change and transform you forever. I would agree with this, but I would add that the actual seed in your soul to birth, mother and go beyond just yourself is when that transformation happens. So, essentially, something is born in you when you wake up one day and say, “I think I want to dive into that big, ominous and unknown abyss called motherhood.”

I know I will never be the same, and as I approach the birth day of this new soul, I anticipate even more change. Somedays I am really afraid of it and other days I let go of the fear and let it shape me and I can feel really peaceful. The difference this pregnancy is the peace. I loved the excitement of the first pregnancy…but I have to say, this time around – peace takes center stage. I prefer peace over fear or excitement any day. It’s like a safe middle ground that requires way less of me.
So as we sit and wait for fate to show up and change our lives … I can really say I’m, most minutes, sitting in peace. Because you know, when you live in a house managed by three 2 year olds, you are on a minute to minute basis.

And thankfully with that peace comes warm nights to take silent walks, vases of soft purple lilacs, green grass, my Dad’s fresh asparagus and 30 little toes dirty from sand and mud. Fresh spring air can save your soul…especially when you are sharing your soul with a little, new spirit that is sucking a lot of the life from you. I mean sharing life, of course.

So, we sit and wait. I have been contracting for about 10 days, usually with the “good ones” at night. They tend to taper off and come and go throughout the day. Pretty weird, but maybe this baby is just as indecisive as it’s mother. I feel totally fine most of the time, with occasional emotional and hormonal breakdowns. I am thankful I can be on my feet and am able to still do things with the kids. I haven’t been checked for dilation since 37 weeks, so at our 40 week appt today I will get checked to see what is going on down there. I will get “the talk” I’ve been really hoping to avoid – the “if you get to 41 weeks we have to schedule a c-section.” I pray to avoid surgery again, but if that’s how it ends, I will be OK once that baby is in our arms …

Such a cliffhanger around here, I tell you.

Here are some pictures of life around here. Soon, a new face will be part of the canvas. I just can’t wait to see how life changes from this one little person that has no idea how much they are wanted.

Thanks for your love, support and prayers at this BIG time in our lives. Love to you from us!

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38 weeks

 

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39 weeks

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Heading out to walk the baby out… I treasure these peaceful walking dates with Scott during our “bonus week”

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livING in the moment … at least tryING every moment at a time

Pregnancy Thoughts, Finally. Part 1

Hmm. I haven’t been here for a while. In some ways I am a little sad because I did such an over the top job chronicling and expressing how I felt when I was on my pregnancy journey with the triplets, and this time I am slacking. (Heads up: This is long and you will find mistakes in my writing.)

The road to get pregnant last time was such a private thing gone public, that I think maybe that was the intension for the whole adventure. I was so peaceful in an outward way, finally learning to trust others to help me and guide me. I was at the mercy of doctors and nurses from day one of that pregnancy…waiting on calls to see if my follicles were mature enough to conceive until the end when I was told how and when I would deliver.

I have spent many hours and days and nights trying to sort all of this out. I had come to the conclusion that I needed healing from all of this. All of the pain that came with the desire for a baby and all the heaviness of what felt like an unrequited love from a child we didn’t know if we would ever meet. Furthermore, as successful and healthy as the pregnancy and delivery were – they were so off from anything I would have chosen for myself. Sitting in bed, eating fries because it’s the only thing I could get down, gaining 70 lbs, not having one thing prepared for a nursery and then giving myself over to the demands of the doctor’s timing when it came to delivery still all seem foreign.

Walking to deliver THREE babies…like a different person standing there.

So, in some ways, yes – I may need some healing from that time in my life. However, over the last almost three years, I have realized it was just what I needed – at the time. It was healing in itself, not traumatic and cruel and too challenging for the wonderful and fearfully made woman God had made me to be, for just that exact season.

I didn’t feel wonderful and fearfully made at the time.

But that is part of the lesson.

Most things in your past aren’t just in your past. They are wonderfully and fearfully part of who you are today…NOW. In this season and moment – very real and very wonderful.

I have been beating myself up a bit for not finding the time to journal/blog about this pregnancy and season of motherhood. I had envisioned surviving this 40 weeks of growing a human inside, while chasing and developing and loving three little humans on the outside, by writing and recording it all through words and pictures and funny anecdotes and sappy reflection. And let me tell you, there has been a lot of funny – and some not so funny – anecdotes and a million sappy reflections – but for some reason, I have just chosen – maybe even without knowing it – to just keep them in.

Sure, part of me is tired and that could be why I haven’t been writing. We have had our house on the market three months, I am getting bigger everyday, the kids are fast and needy and never seem tired or are overly tired all the time and we are on the brink of potty-training, which is actually them wanting to be on the potty all the time and me trying to distract them from it because I’m not ready and then there is the just trying to keep up with life as a wife and mother and all those other roles you hold so dear.

So yes, I am tired – but more than that, this time my personal matter that just isn’t as public (because let’s face it, it’s just not as interesting to get pregnant without trouble and then to be carrying only one…) feels really nice being personal. Not that I don’t love talking about this baby or that I won’t tell you anything you want to know, like my peeing issues or the stretch marks that so magically have appeared or my supernatural ability to pit out every shirt I wear.

It has just felt right to be right where I am – learning about myself, my body and the inner confidence and strength that God has blessed me with. Part of it is letting go of what others may think or say or contribute to an experience. I don’t want to say I don’t need loved ones or want the connection I had to others on my blog last time, but I do want to say I have been led, for probably the first time in 32 years, to have a really internal and sacred experience with life, my spirit and the spirit of life inside.

Talk about Namaste. The light inside me honors the light inside you, inside me. 

Again, this is not my renouncement from friendships, family and all things outward, because more than ever, I need people and am OK with wanting people. It’s just a shift I have experienced and it is one that has involved faith not sight, choosing peace not anxiety and accepting instead of seeking confirmation. I have learned my personality seeks advice and affirmation, whether it is un-solicited or sought after, and I have further learned this does not always serve me. Looking back the times that felt so scary and wrong were times that I was like a ping pong ball floating around the game, just waiting for a new person or idea or solution to bump me to the next place. This season, this pregnancy, our family and every little detail of the present has taught me to follow my gut and listen to that still voice inside. It leads me down the rabbit hole in a good way. Although it can be scary to follow faith instead of physical example or knowledge, it is also empowering and peaceful. Feeling safe that wherever you go, there you are. (Jon Kabat-Zinn)

It is trusting that little light inside … and letting it shine – without needing affirmation or redirection from anyone else. It is the continuation of letting go. And somewhere in there you have to believe you are then, letting God.

With that said, I’m ready to share a little bit about what has been brewing in my mind and heart. First of all, I had chosen not to tell many people this huge part of the story, but I feel compelled to share, since it is indeed, part of the story. At eight weeks Scott and I went in for our typical, exciting yet scary, “this is how the normal people feel in a pregnancy” ultrasound. I knew their would be a heartbeat because of my nausea. The worst thing on my mind was whether or not we should leave the next day for Punta Cana while I was eight weeks pregnant and so sick and unsure of getting to that 12 week finish line of worry and doubt. I laid down, heart beating fast, because let’s face it – no matter what, that first ultrasound is like a weird cosmic blind date … does this person really exist? Will they show up or has it been a figment of my imagination? What exactly is in there??!!

The familiar probe from last pregnancy was shoved in and my sweaty palm joined Scott’s. I am sure we were giggling and Scott was doing what he has done in every ultrasound … asking “just give us the hearbeat!?” I look up and I see black blobs. I maybe started to sweat more. I thought to myself, nothing is moving. Wait, everything is OK, isn’t it?

There was a bit of silence. Deafening silence that at the time felt new, but looking back, we had that same human nature pause of silence when we had our first ultrasound with the triplets. That time where humans are expecting something normal and something else happens and those humans, especially the one that is disclosing the information, is truly speechless and a little awkward.

Scott said it again, “Can you just show us the heartbeat?” And I said (and I know this is exactly what I said…partly to calm Scott, but mostly to distract myself from feeling. I always talk when I’m nervous or don’t want to feel real emotion), “You see a heartbeat, right? Are you just looking for it? Is it too early to see a heartbeat?”

Here’s where that weird silence hanging in the air crashes. The tech says,

“Do you mean the twins’ heartbeats?”

What. What? What.

When I wrote my story of Shock I wasn’t ready to tell the true story. Yes we were kind of shocked to be pregnant all on our own…the first month we sort of tried. But to see twins…after no medical intervention and absolutely no gut feeling was S.H.O.C.K.

That morning the two lines appeared I vividly remember Scott and I saying, “There is NO WAY there is more than one!” And then. There was. I was on my knees and felt like there wasn’t a plan after all. It must be all by chance. This isn’t right. It’s a mistake.

I cried. I cried I think harder than I ever have publicly in my whole life. I couldn’t look at the screen. The joy I had expected had been robbed by pure and utter disappointment and fear. Anger surfaced. Faith walked out the door. I wanted to quit letting go and quickly take control. I was scared we had a made a mistake. I was mad at myself for not seeing it as a blessing. I was questioning God and telling him he picked the wrong girl. I even prayed he would take it away.

I just couldn’t do this. 

Needless to say, we flew to Punta Cana the next day. I needed out. I ate saltine crackers, cried a lot and tried to figure out what van we would have to drive as a family. I watched families of four meander calmly around the resort, feeling the threat of our prison sentence of never being able to travel again. If you have ever seen Ferris Bueller and remember the scene where Cameron sits frozen and paralyzed at the pool after his dad’s car is ruined…that was pretty much me. Poor Scott…here we are to celebrate five years of marriage in paradise and all I want to do is lay around inside with the blinds closed, watching Downton Abbey seasons on our laptop.

Punta Cana. Blur.

Two weeks later, at our ten week ultrasound, we saw one gummy bear moving on the screen.

One.

And not to over refer to movies, but like Forest Gump says “That’s all I have to say about that.”

The details certainly happened and there were certainly honest and raw feelings that happened during that first trimester, the kind that go with shock and sadness and joy and loss, but all that matters is that God screamed to me in all of this – “Trust Me. Trust You. We will be just fine.” Looking back, I don’t know what I was so afraid of. Or mad about. I don’t know. Hmm.

Fast forward to 31 weeks. Journey isn’t even the right word.

I have felt so full and blessed and yet so exhausted and tapped out that there has been not a single day that I haven’t felt alive. One of my favorite things about pregnancy is the level it places you on. I don’t know if it’s because you have life inside of you or that you are so aware of taking care of yourself that you allow yourself grace – but for me, I feel like life is in living color during this time. All the emotions and states I am in are BIG. They aren’t just in passing…it’s like I’m looking every emotion and thought process in the face.

If I’m happy, I’m really happy and probably tearing up. I have had countless moments where I will catch a smile or little new word from one of the babes and I will just stare at them like I was meeting them for the first time. Or I will watch them play and pretend together, laughing or holding hands – and time literally stands still while I thank God and every lucky star that we are adding one more of them to this picture that I feel like I am watching on a big screen.

24 weeks

When I’m sad, I’m really sad. I feel scared and frozen and probably am tearing up, again. I wonder how I will find room in my heart for another baby and how my tired body will do it. I question the importance of laundry and cooking and keeping house and want to crawl in a hole and never come out.

When I’m energetic I feel like taking on the world and feel like the bump on my belly is like a shield and a beautiful addition to my physical self – so proud of every curve and change my body has experienced. I can turn the corner from seeing a double chin, wide white hips and really weird mom arms in the mirror and see the amazingly round and perfectly placed bump. I can eat healthy and give into cravings, trusting my body’s instinct to know what I need. I pray to God this pregnancy ends slowly.

When I’m tired, I am sooo tired. My whole body feels heavy and swollen and red and bumpy and hungry and bloated. Constipated (see, not afraid to share the details) and up at 4 am and then dead at 4 pm. Fat. Double chin. Arms waving at me. I see all those in the mirror and that mound in the middle with growing stretch marks is an afterthought. And then, in my bloat, I eat to feel better. And then I feel worse. And my chest burns. And I think Thank God this is my last pregnancy.

When I think about birth I get wild. I, again, tear up. I get adrenaline. I get terrified. In pre-natal yoga I look around and am in awe of this whole thing. When I am awake at 4 am with round ligament pain, I go back in my shell, deciding the baby should just never come out. It’s up and down and it’s real and raw and sometimes I love it and want to savor it for all times, and sometimes I just want sushi and a glass of red wine.

There isn’t a day that I don’t show up, learn and grow a little bit more into the person that I know I was created and woven together to be. Each day I pray to get out of the way of myself and be the mother that lets them, all four of them, be the light and the person that I had nothing to do with during the creating and forming process. That person, that light, is so much bigger than counting, the ABC’s or behaving well. It takes people life times to wake up to their true selves, I pray I get them on the right path.

And that’s when I remember I can do it. I can climb every mountain – step by step – because through this exposure to the creation of life, I am reminded, with 100% confidence the maker made me to do this. And although I questioned the idea of “meant to be” versus “chance and mistakes” in that ultrasound room at 8 weeks, I know deep down inside – if I let that little light shine – I could and can do it. I can. The mountain can be moved. If only I allow it. That is the hard part.

Which leads me to finally opening up about the “logistics,” if you will, of this pregnancy and birthing of our sweet baby. I recently read a birthing affirmation that said, “My heart knows everything it needs to know to bring this child into the world and my mind is learning.” So powerful - my heart knows and my mind is learning. Isn’t this every single day of mothering? Every single day of living?

This explains right where my heart and mind are with how I have chosen to live out the rest of this pregnancy and the vision for the birth, and in turn, how my soul and mind are being transformed in general.

The pregnancy part of this transformation is easier. I am so dedicated and committed to living in the moment, knowing this is a fast fleeting flicker of time. I’ve been here before. I know how quickly beautiful life escapes you, going from a romance to a responsibility with that first breath of life. I get scared I will miss this and feel empty, and then I get real and realize I have a gift now to be aware of every emotion, feeling and tiny movement – that I get to keep with me forever. If a book is a gift you get to keep opening, pregnancy and motherhood is a gift that never closes.

I work to choose everyday to live in the realm of mystery and wonder…just content knowing that all is as it should be. It is the greatest opportunity to learn about the things you don’t understand…everyday when I feel movement and flips, I think “God, you are real. I don’t get this but IT is real. Life must be real. I must believe…even when I don’t understand.” It feels like a baby dinosaur in there, poking at it’s shell to burst out … but the truth is, there is a spirit, a mind and a body that flow together effortlessly…with my help, but really not with my help at all. A life that will be born into this world with innocence, warmth and some desperation that is endearing.

A beautiful first breath …

Now the transformation that lives on after pregnancy…into those long days and months of reality…that may be the hard part.

And the baby’s crib arrives…its real.

 

 

Swaddle

The babies are TWO.

My sweet little babies that once laid perfectly still … all three fitting on one swaddle blanket. Grunting and making fists and fighting against new eyes to see a tired world that was new and bright and so very loud and brilliant to them.

Now, the same swaddle blankets get carried to and fro on the same carpet they used to lay sweet and simple on. Those blankets are lovingly called “blanshies” by the teeth and lips of a lispy toddler. The same arms that used to so obediently wrap under those “monkey blankets”, as we used to call them, now reach for counters, open doors, put on their own boots, dump cups of water to wash their own hair, sometimes swat at a sibling and within the same breath reach for mama and say “hand.”

I guess those swaddle blankets are conditioned perfectly with love, season and trials for our new baby.

When we were given those perfectly rolled Aden & Anais blankets the first time around … I remember holding them close after being washed in Dreft and just thinking about how good they felt to me.

For me. Not really three babies that I hadn’t even met yet.

The first pregnancy was like a tiara for me. It was all about how special it was to carry life. The honor and miracle that was blessed upon my body and our marriage. It made me proud and slow and happy and nervous. Scott and I would talk about the future like two blind men that hoped they would one day see. We couldn’t feel, taste or touch any of it…

It was all about my vision as a mama. His hopes as a papa. How they would fit in our life.

As I sit here, 22 weeks pregnant with our fourth child – I am full of every emotion under the rainbow. Full of gratitude for God’s grace on our family. Exhausted from telling the same three kids to not do the same million things every day. Bored with laundry. Tempted and joyful to pick out new baby bedding (and relish in the fact I only have to BUY ONE!) Guilty the dishes sit. Happy we have food to eat. Sad from watching a commercial. Happy from watching a commercial. Afraid. Excited. And thinking about life in the present and life in the near present…

I realize, this time around… as I sit on the couch with my mid-afternoon snack dreaming in mind…(I mean, aren’t snacks one of the perks of carrying life??) this pregnancy… I have so much more than an empty, un-swaddled swaddle blanket to embrace.

I have a complete vision of what is at the end of the rainbow. Love. Long nights. Joy. Frustration. Poop. Vomit. Giggles from a chubby belly. Awkward first smiles. Wobbly sit ups. Ambitions of a new life. The secrets of a human spirit unfolding right in the privacy of your own messy, chaotic but wonderfully woven together home. The pit of my heart feels confident this time. Nervous, yes. But confident – even more.

I know so much will be different. And probably some the same. But one thing is different for sure, already: This pregnancy isn’t all about me. Or Scott. Or our plans for the future. I get it. This baby is for US. Our family. Those babies – the ones that call themselves “Ninny” (Quinn AKA Quinny now comes out Ninny) , “Arper” and “Geeshie”.

This baby is for them. This baby is already swaddled in love…because since they are TWO…love comes easy to them.

(Do a million other things like leaving the refrigerator door shut or not climbing on top of their play kitchen come easy? No. But the loving sure does.)

And for that…Baby H. – you are coming into this world with (hopefully) freshly washed but very lovingly used swaddle blankets. I hope you like them.

PS, Baby H. is simply Baby Hackman (no cool “H” name in the works). We got to see Baby #4 a couple of weeks ago at our 20 week ultrasound. All looked great and we were full of joy to see our little babe move and wave and look all cute on the big screen. Such a luxury this time as we don’t have a million ultrasounds like we did with the trio. And as for the gender…your guess is as good as mine … we decided to give our unborn child complete privacy and chose to “look away” during the genital screening. Come on, it’s only decent.

 

 

 

 

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