Friday, April 23, 2021

Birth Story

 I absolutely wanted to write down Oscar's birth story. But I haven't been able to because we had a high needs baby that would not let me sit down to type at all. Honestly I was often terrified to pick up the phone, because it was going to end in a breakdown. Walks weren't even peaceful because somehow they just wouldn't work for little O. But we have gotten some treatment and fixed a tongue tie and I feel like today is the first day I can breathe with this baby. So here is his birth story.

For the month prior to Oscar's birth there was a lot of prodromal labor, meaning a start and stop of contractions that were warm up ones that would be getting my body ready for the read deal. The problem with prodromal labor is that it never becomes real labor that amounts in a baby and its oh so tiring. I think I was miserable enough that a few friends sent a meal prior to baby and I absolutely appreciated it. 

So 37 weeks came and went. 38 weeks came and went. 39 weeks came and went. 40 weeks came and went. The whole neighborhood was watching me as there was nothing else to do in the pandemic but be on baby watch. Any time someone saw me out on a walk they would be surprised that I was still pregnant. We went on a lot of walks, many to the local coffee shop. Oscar is half made of Metropolitan Coffee bakery. 

At one point I realized that I was paranoid that I wasn't going to be able to go into labor with the kids home, so I grumbled about it and eventually Keith believed me that this was what I needed as I kept not going into labor. I also was concerned with the positioning of Oscar because there was so much start and stop labor that I though maybe he was stuck. So I went in to an ultrasound clinic for a position check. It caters to the homebirth crowd and maybe the unsure about pregnancy crowd. It was great to see him and while he was in love with his hand, it wasn't in his way for exit. I felt incredibly relieved. 

The boys went to their grandparent's house that night and I definitely felt more at piece because my late night kids weren't on site and I could rest a little better. Just the girls remained and they are down by 9pm at the absolute latest. And on top of that because I was supposed to have forest school with the kids the next day but I told the other moms that i wasn't up for it, the one said we want to take your girls to the zoo, and so I knew in the morning my girls would be gone. 

So what do you know but at 5am labor started, and it continued and became stronger instead of fizzling out. I put together a puzzle in between contractions and then started another one while sitting on the yoga ball, but the second one never got finished, the contractions were too hard. I have to note that this whole time I was watching the Gilmore Girls, its my labor show, it is so familiar and calming that I am just in a zone with it. I texted my midwife at 8 to let her know that labor was happening and by 11, Keith said you should probably tell her to come now. So we did, and she came by noon. Baby was born at 1pm on the dot after just two pushes. The amazing thing was that he was 10pounds and 2 ounces. I had no idea that he was that big because his labor wasn't that terrible. Stella at 10lbs was tough, but she was also positioned the wrong way at first and had to spin on her head a bit. Oscar was in the perfect spot to come right on out. I think he was getting there the whole time in the last month of the start and stop labor. 

So we had him and it was pretty calm despite having a baby. The girls came home the next night and the boys the night after. They all mostly loved their new brother. 

But then something went amiss. Little buddy at about a week old started needing a lot of care, a lot of movement and just became uneasy to settle. He stopped nursing to sleep. He started having to be rocked all the time, or bounced or walked up and down the stairs. Part of me though, well maybe now I finally get my high needs baby, but also I was emotionally a wreck because it was hard, like really hard and 1 week post partum you should not be getting 10,000 steps without trying because you are just trying to pacify the baby. At 3 weeks it was a bit worse, and we visited the subject of reflux. I took the baby in at a month old and they said that dairy was possibly the culprit and I kind of thought he didn't react well to it. I made him super gassy, so we cut that out and still have it cut out mostly. And yet it still wasn't the issue. 

It wouldn't be till 7 weeks old that I was able to process that this wasn't okay, and I called a breastfeeding hotline. And the lactation consultant listened to me and based on all the things I was saying told me that I should have him evaluated for tongue tie and reflux. And it turns out he has both and a mild case of laryngomalacia, which makes him flare up a little more even so and have some weird breathing things. It is supposed to slowly resolve itself to be fine by age 1. 

And so here we are, processing and loving on this little guy. Welcome to the world Oscar. 

Btw, yes, he is named after St. Oscar Romero.  

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Coping with what is

 Five kids is actually hard. I love them all, and I wouldn't not have them, but this period of taking care of a baby with four bigger kids is hard. Maybe some are better suited than me at this. Maybe they can take it all in stride, but some days are a struggle. And mostly I am coping and making it through, but it is tiring. And perhaps this is redemptive suffering, and perhaps this is how I am to see God right now, in the inability to just be free, but to have limited abilities. I know I feel this each baby, and perhaps this is my last baby, and it feels like it is,  it feels like its harder and harder each time to take another on. The thing is, is that I absolutely love this baby, despite his colic and need for constant motion. Actually that makes me love him more as I have to get outside of my head of what I know and think should be happening be present to what is. So we carry on as hard as it is trying to learn and to love. 

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Baby memories

Trying to remember bits of a 5th baby's life: 

Early Oscar memories: 
 You started mimic smiling at 4 weeks old and now you like to greet if each morning with a few. 

At 5 weeks old you rolled from back to belly trying to get to me to nurse. Your mama was amazed. 

You really seem to like to listen to music, especially Jack's Mannequin and The Rocket Summer

You like to be in motion: walks outside, running stair laps, dancing, rocking in the rocking chair, and bouncing in the exercise ball. 

You love to wiggle, punch and kick

You like to snuggle close cheek to cheek. 

You enjoy the sound of the fan and that is running water. 

Sleeping on mama and daddy is the best. 

You seem to be an early riser and get up for some quiet mama or daddy time before your big siblings get up. Sometimes your biggest sister will get up too and you enjoy her quiet presence too. 

You like the car when it's in motion. 

You are well loved by all your adoring fans, each in their own ways. 

Friday, February 19, 2021

Statistics aren't helping me

It's been a strange week, as I am now overdue. There was a death from covid and a wedding announcement and tons of snow all in one week. Statistically my head says this should already be over, and yet I am not. I am still miserable and huge and waiting. Part of me thinks that I am not allowed to have these nice things, that perhaps because I have taken steps towards healing myself, that somehow I won't be allowed to get what I want. It comes from a long line of many of my big supposed to be good exciting life events being attempted in sabotage. It becomes a head game to the nth degree because I absolutely want to delight in these moments of non repeat and yet sometimes, I just feel on guard that someone is going to take this from me. So what to do, go through it? Yep. 

Here are a few things that I am trying to delight in: 

1. Some beautiful friends took all 4 of my external children sledding this morning without me, I got to have 2 hours to myself to run errands and do some solo walking in a nearby neighborhood.

2. I have enjoyed watching Gilmore Girls with Helena, just cuddled up beside each other. 

3. So many people have asked how they can help and I am doing my best to try and let them. 

4. A neighbor snow blowered our driveway earlier in the week just in case the midwife needed to get here in the foot of snow that fell. 

5. Most people are kindly checking in on me to make sure I am feeling okay instead of just in a way of producing something. 

6. My midwife will kindly chat with me and listen to me in a way that is kind and respectful. 

7. I am enjoying watching the big kids take care of Stella, its not always perfect but they truly care and its wonderful to see. 

8. My next door neighbor, whom works at the local coffee shop, just kindly listen to me while I shed a few tears in the drive thru.

9. My Target order was correct today. 

10. All the librarians know me and kindly wish me well and safe deliveries and will feed my kids with their lunches because its sometimes just really hard to do all the things.

11. Our local recycling initiative is being well received. 

12. A husband who is able to understand and also willing to do way more than his share in these last few weeks. 

13. Middle of the night chats with God and sometimes my husband if he happens to be awake too. 

14. My almost four year old's antics of being a mermaid and her constant imagination. 

15. How big H is getting in her understanding of things. 

16. Just the feeling of love from so many neighbors that are picking up groceries and making meals and helping with replacing overused baby things. 

Maybe I can do this. 

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Delight

 I did the word generator of the year mini program from Jennifer Fulweiler and got the word delight. I mostly passed it off when I got it. I didn't think much about it except that it was a good sentiment. That sure I could be a bit better at delighting in things. And then I had a nightmare and woke up sobbing in grief. 

That grief had me realizing how much I've conditioned myself not to happy or delight in big life events. Every birthday, every holiday is a struggle. I'm 4 weeks till my due date of my 5th baby that I'll hopefully get to see grow up. Even writing that was a struggle. I am at the end where everything hurts and I'm not sure what will actually hurt to do or not. But the thing is that I am so close to the end of gestation and while my body aches from 5 full term pregnancies and 2 others that didn't make it there, there is a tiny person that I get to meet soon. One that seems to be active and curious about the world be already.

I want to delight in these moments where perhaps it normally is a struggle due to past conditioning and circumstance. I don't want to hide, even though it's very easy for me to shell up and just be. So I'm going to try my best to find some peace and joy and delight in these last moments of not knowing. Thanking God for these days with my four bigs before my responsibility changes and my abilities change once again. 

Monday, December 14, 2020

Some more contemplation

 I have been awake for over an hour, earlier than I usually awake. But that happens sometimes in this state in my life. Because I am awake, I have been trying to understand a differing opinion than my own that I heard the other day. It may have just been yesterday, I honestly don't have the greatest concept of time in pandemic life. So here it goes anyway.

A person stated that their spiritual health is more important than their physical health because they will eventually die anyway. I am trying to comprehend this. I know as a Catholic, outward signs of inner graces are very important to one's faith. You have the Eucharist, Confession, baptism and just all the smells and bells that go along with Catholicism. Having Jesus present in these outward signs is amazing and not to be taken for granted or shoved out completely. I think where I am struggling with this type of statement about spiritual health is that it disregards other in these times of pandemic. That the second commandment that Jesus taught us somehow gets thrown out the window. 

Yes spiritual health is important. I am definitely not saying that it's not. But I think in these times its misconstrued. That sense of entitlement that one must have an all access pass at all times to all the sacraments. Perhaps we as a society don't even understand how our sense of individuality has colored how we think of spiritual health. That as long as I am good, then the rest doesn't matter. 

God is not a safe God, Yes, we know this. He challenges us to do dangerous things when its for the good of another, and perhaps at times for our own life. Perhaps though, there is somehow something skewed in our American pandemic spiritual health thinking. Is it instead possible to experience God in ways that are unknown to one? That prior to pandemic we became comfortable to having God one way, almost on our terms. Is it possible that we are being called to experience him in different ways right now? To maybe identify with those that don't get to have access to the sacraments daily or weekly or even monthly. Recently, I read a book on the life of Saint Damien of Mokolai. He was unable to participate in the sacrament of confession for long stretches of his life as he served the people of Mokolai. And at one point when he finally saw his superior bring out supplies to the island on which he was serving, he had to scream out his confession to God in another language than those around him knew. He so badly wanted to receive this grace. The one thing though was that he was patient with his circumstances. He knew he was doing hard things, things that were really tough, that his health would deteriorate, but he was doing it for another. 

Honestly, its a complicated thing this pandemic. Yes we should be keeping others well being a priority, Jesus said to love one another. There are many facets to what that includes. However, what is our motivation. Is it to make us feel better? Or is it because we really truly want to put another ahead of ourselves? There wasn't as much known about disease spread in earlier centuries. In times like the plague, when Kristin Lavransdatter fictionally existed, she went head first into caring for the sick and burying the dead without any precautions. They just didn't have them. When Saint Damien lived on Mokolai, they didn't have fresh running water so he had to make access, so disease was rampant. Saint Damien didn't risk others lives though, he risked his own. I honestly think that's a big distinction in these pandemic times. 

Doctors and dentists and clerks and teachers are risking their own lives for the greater good. But is the person that refuses to change up what they are doing and shouts "I will only live free", are they motivated by Jesus's love? Or are the motivated by there want for a sense of normalcy? Are they just trying to run away from suffering? Suffering is unavoidable, and ultimately it brings us closer to Jesus. When we hear the cries of those downtrodden do we ignore them and say this isn't what it used to be or we are past this, or do we listen and ask what do they need to feel loved? 

God is always there, perhaps remembering that can bring you through uncertainty. That in this week of joy in Advent, that maybe our joy is in that we are never alone even if people have abandoned us. That God is there, and perhaps calling us to make sacrifices for him and another, well that again is joy and perhaps we can rise to the occasion, not abandoning our spiritual health, but increasing it. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

How do you reconcile?

 I am not sure why Americans are so set on individualism and being right. Perhaps its our founding fathers, or the pioneers that were imperialists that saw those there before them as uncivilized instead of different. That somehow its still so highly prevalent in society to have non-collectivist thoughts. That we say we want to protect the most vulnerable and the supposed truly religious will fight every election for the rights of the unborn, but then absolutely turn their back on every other hurting most vulnerable group because it doesn't line up with their ideals. That somehow because they have lost their innocence in the world, somehow that makes them less vulnerable. Perhaps its that they are harder to deal with, scars and bumps and bruises and all. But how did they get those scars, from our own want to be right, to be in power, to be comfortable in what we know. It's absolutely difficult to truly want to get outside of one's comfort zone. We instead a lot of times will do the bare minimum to feel better about ourselves. And if someone does go above and beyond we think we could never do that or that they are crazy or just a Saint for doing so. Are we then actually trying to be Saints for Jesus, or are we just trying to get by in our comfy homes without distress?

I read the book Kristin Lavaransdatter about two years ago, and it still sticks with me. She was someone that struggled internally and externally with her choices and still felt it her duty to help the helpless and in the end she actually died from giving dignity to another. It's difficult for some of us to see our own sacrifices as something that is saint making, but instead we see them as maddening, and perhaps its because we are absolutely terrible at boundary setting. Yes, people are suffering other than with the actual disease of Covid-19 but is there some way we could actually see our discomfort as something that is life giving to another. That in some ways its an absolutely visible bit of redemptive suffering. I remember contemplating redemptive suffering for a while and trying to figure out why us as humans struggle with it so very much. I concluded that within it being doctrine, only Buddhists and Catholics attack the subject at all. Unfortunately, in America, we are absolutely very Protestant in our understanding of life, that even Buddhism and Catholicism take a cultural aspect Protestant of throwing out redemptive suffering. So we bicker and we argue that we are suffering too, and yes, yes we are so very are, but can we do something with that suffering, or does it just sit there?

I don't know what is going to reconcile us as a nation to heal all the wounds we have uncovered or highlighted this year. So much has been spewed at us that our brains are barely keeping up and for many, there is no longer the ability to discern what is truth. Perhaps we can start by setting those healthy boundaries of saying no to what is necessary to understand who God wants us to be and then to offer our own suffering for those more vulnerable than us. 

There is another part of this reconciliation that is way more vulnerable to me, but perhaps its for another day. This is what I can offer today.