Mother Dear

I want to give thanks for all my mommy friends, for my own mother and my husband’s mother. When I was in labor with my son I came to the realization that as a doula I only partially understood what birth was about. Now that I’m a mother I can say that while I always loved and appreciated my own mother, and the mothers in my life, now I more fully understand the depth of love, concern and strength that mothers posses. 

In all honesty, being responsible for a tiny life has brought out my own insecurities as a parent. I have read books that claim to have the answer to parenting, and here is what I’ve learned. Mothers have been mothering for eternity, long before books and through passing fads and parenting theories. While there are good ideas that I have utilized from these books, I think I’m ready to venture out on my own as a mother. With my supportive husband, my own mother, and a collection of strong mother friends to lean on and watch as they raise their children, I think Porter will turn out alright. So, on this Valentine’s day I give love to all the mommies out there, doing their best to be good at what they do.

Here is a video of Porter taking some floor time to work out, happy Valentine’s day!

Life After Birth

Two of my good friends came over today to meet Porter over lunch. After sharing my birth experience (which is coming in a future post) one friend asked if I had any postpartum depression. When I said no, she replied that with the pregnancy, birth and postpartum I had had the perfect experience. That got me thinking that, yes I had a pretty near perfect experience. Everything went as planned, my family came out of the birth experience happy and healthy and I’ve almost made it to a month with a brand new baby and haven’t had issues with depression. What I will say is that for the first two weeks of my new life after baby I did feel a little crazy. With hormones raging, being closed into my house, being sleep deprived and figuring out how to take care of myself, my baby and husband, I think a little insanity is okay. I’m not doctor or therapist, but there are a few things that I attribute to my (mostly) positive attitude in the last few weeks:

1. My husband and I planned to have a baby and were thoroughly prepared to deal with this new life.
2. I was highly educated about the kind of birth experience I wanted to have and took every measure to make that experience happen.
3. When something went differently than planned, I tried to roll with the punches and did fear clearing hypnosis.
4. My baby hasn’t left my side since the moment he was born, not even to be measured and weighed. We were skin to skin immediately following birth.
5. Breastfeeding. It’s not easy and hurts like crazy sometimes, but the hormones released and the bonding that happens make it all worth it.
6. Super supportive husband, family and friends. Luke was extra supportive of our birthing choices and breastfeeding and wants to be as involved a dad as possible. I had friends who helped cook and clean for 2 solid weeks after the baby came, and my mom came for a week when Luke had to go back to work the third week.
7. Walking outside. After the first 2 weeks it was obvious that I had to move my body. I bundle up the baby and we walk every day, even if it’s just around the block.
8. Talking with people made a world of difference. Especially people who have been through and survived having a new baby. Hearing how they dealt and what they dealt with brought me back to reality and made me realize that this crazy time would soon pass, and evidently I would miss it. We’ll see about that one.
9. I was aware of postpartum depression and tried to stay vigilant about whether I was experiencing those symptoms, or just normal new mom anxiety.
10. Finally, back to the fact that I’m pretty average and acknowledging that women have been having babies since FOREVER and continue to do it around the world, hundreds of times everyday, and still manage to survive. This means that my chances of survival and general well being are pretty high and I can count on the crazy parts passing and rest assured that what I’m experiencing is NORMAL.

There it is. My top 10 reasons why I think that I came through this pregnancy, birth and post birth without diving into the pit that is depression. Again, I’m not a doctor or therapist and I don’t want anyone to think that this list is a cure or a guarantee, but I’m sure they helped me get through this first month of life after birth. And now to take you out, some tender pictures of Porter at 1 month.

Here’s a video shot by our friend Danny at our Friday night dinner. Luke and Shaun are jammin’ and Ashley is holding Porter.

Going for a walk

Porter the visionary

The “yeah right” face

Happy Porter

Cupie Doll Porter

“I told you so.”

Life is good Porter

Porter’s workin’ out a deuce face, sorry TMI

Porter-riffic

Here is Porter! We’ve had a pretty crazy 3 weeks adjusting to our new life. I have to give BIG thanks to our friends, especially Sarah (who even mopped our kitchen) and Chelsea who fed us for 2 weeks straight. Also to my mom for spending the week with us so Luke could go back to work, and for ensuring that I managed to get square meals for one more week. Porter loves his Gramma, she’s got that magic touch to sooth his fussy moments and remained cool when he peed in his ear. Thanks to everyone for your wishes, gifts and visits, it definitely helped make our transition much smoother.

We are settling in at home and Porter is already spending time taking in the world around him. I sometimes have to remember he is still a newborn, despite his large size. His favorite activities are eating, being held by momma, and making googly baby eyes and sounds at just about anyone, and sleeping (preferably in momma’s arms). He hates outfit changes and cold wipes on his bum, so is life! I haven’t been very good at taking pictures, but my friend Ashley came by and did a photo shoot when he was a week old. Here are some pics from the last 3 weeks.

 Hangin’ with Gramma

 Porter LOVES the Moby
Ready for a walk outside, brrrr!

Street Photography Now Project

Over the holidays I was the lucky recipient of a hand me down camera from my dad. I am by no means a photographer, but in an effort to appreciate the world around me I would like to take more photographs and learn to see from a new perspective. While reading Treehugger.com I read about the Street Photography Now Project. Here is the basic foundation of Street Photography:

“Street photography is an unbroken tradition, stretching back to the invention of photography itself. It revels in the poetic possibilities that an inquisitive mind and a camera can conjure out of everyday life. Like Evans, the photographers featured in this book get many of their best shots in shopping malls, parks, bars, museums, subways or coastal promenades. In their spontaneous and often subconscious reaction to the fecundity (I love this word!) of public life, street photographers elevate the commonplace and familiar into something mythical and even heroic. They thrive on the unexpected, seeing the street as a theatre of endless possibilities, the cast list never fixed until the shutter is pressed. They stare, they pry, they listen and they eavesdrop, and in doing so they hold up a mirror to the kind of societies we are making for ourselves. At a time when fewer and fewer of the images we see are honest representations of real life, their work is more vital than ever.”

You can read more about it from the introduction to the book : The Photographers’ Gallery, London, and Sophie Howarth and Stephen McLaren, authors of the book Street Photography Now.

I am a self admitted voyeur and this type of photography appeals to that dark part of my soul. 

Here is a very famous example of street photography:
le baiser de l’hotel de ville, by Robert Doisneau 

The project is open to anyone, with or without experience, and is totally free. Once a week there is a prompt that is the theme for that week’s photos. Once the photo is taken, it is submitted to the Flickr gallery for that week’s theme. The best part is viewing the gallery every week and seeing how others have interpreted it.

This weeks prompt is, “Show us the aftermath.” -Maciej Dacowicz
Here is my submission, taken on a walk around my neighborhood:

To view this weeks gallery of this theme click here.

Patience Is A Virtue

My dad always used to say this to me when I would get anxious about something. Then as a teacher I found the whole saying, which goes like this,

“Patience is a virtue. Virtue is a grace. Put them both together and they make a pretty face.”

I don’t think my dad meant for me to end up with a pretty face at the end of that lesson, but I certainly understood that patience was a desirable quality to have. What I didn’t understand as a child was the depth of patience that is possible when a person is pressed into some situations.

My situation happens to be that I am well past when I, and apparently everyone else (with the exception of my midwives and husband), thought that my baby would have made an entrance into this world. There have been multiple inquiries per day as to when this child will be born, and I don’t even have to go to work like Luke and be asked by coworkers. My favorite question once I answer how far along I am is, “Well, what are you going to do about it?”  The simple answer is, “Nothing, it’s not up to me.”

It’s true that in this day in age I could easily go to a hospital and be given an artificial hormone, pitocin, to jump start this birth. I could have done that weeks ago in fact. Or I could even schedule for a doctor to slice me open and take the baby out for me via c-section. There are also other less invasive actions I could take, a few include: walking (check), squatting (check), spicy food (check), various activities with my husband (check), eggplant parm (eww eggplant), pineapple (check), house cleaning (check), acupuncture (check), chiropractic adjustment (check), hypnosis (check) or even a Castor oil cocktail. To that last one, knowing the effects of Castor oil and how it works, I’m leaving that to a pretty dire circumstance. So what to do you ask?

Same as before, NOTHING, it’s not up to me. I am a firm believer in the body’s ability to conceive, grow and birth a baby all by itself. If you read my first post you know how very average I find myself to be, making babies is included in this belief. My preferred method of primary care are the wonderful and highly skilled midwives at The Baby Place, no doctors or hospitals for me or this baby. At least if I can avoid them. I promise to do a future post on my pregnancy and birth philosophy. If you know me, you know I’m an alternative girl in that arena. What I have come to learn is that in nature, we humans have no control; not over the weather, the tide, the climate or the seasons. By default, I have no natural control over when this baby is born. This has tested my patience immensely.

There are a battery of emotions that I have gone through in the past five weeks, ranging from jubilation and content to depression and sadness to even a little fear that maybe I’m not really pregnant and this baby is a figment of my imagination. Some tender feelings and some not so tender feelings. What I have learned is, by having patience I am forced to live in this moment. Dwelling on the last few weeks gets me nowhere and trying to figure out when my time to birth will happen is futile. So where does that leave me? In the here and now.

There are many tender things to appreciate here and now: my husband’s kindness and love, my families support, my friends caring, every movement my baby makes, cuddly cats, health, wealth, warmth during this cold season, the sun staying longer everyday.  I may not have traveled to an ashram in India to meditate on how to be in the now, but this journey to motherhood has been a creative act none the less. It’s pretty tender that my child has taught me such a valuable lesson in patience before even leaving my body.

Until that time comes I will continue to repeat positive affirmations: Pregnancy is normal. My baby is healthy inside my body. I have patience, faith and courage. And lastly, I promise that I will notify the whole world when this baby makes it’s arrival, please just have patience.

Sleepy Time

Being pregnant has been an interesting adventure, and the thing I have learned to appreciate the most is sleep. Now that I’m not being a teacher I have ample opportunity to sleep. I think maybe I sleep too much, but then everyone I talk to rationalizes it for me by saying, “You’re pregnant!” or “Get it while you can.”  Whatever the reason, I’m grateful to live this leisurely life for the next few days, until Baby Loaf decides it’s time to make an appearance. I’m hoping that tomorrows Solstice Full Moon Lunar Eclipse will align just right with Baby Loaf’s intentions and we’ll finally get to meet this wee one. Until then, I’m going to nap.

Preggers Belly with Olive and Big Kitty. Olive can barely see over the mega bump.

39 Weeks pregnant. I hope this is the last pregnant photo I take, except for the one on the way to the birth center.

Kritters

In writing about all things tender, I would be remiss to leave out a few very important members of my family, my pets. Growing up we had hamsters (vile creatures), fish, and most commonly cats. There are pictures of me as a baby leaning onto a reclining fat cat, affectionately named Elro. After Elro had left us, we adopted Figaro who quickly decided that we were not his forever family and he took off into the big world. Figgy then graced our lives with her presence although she was the runt of her litter, very skittish, and preferred to be adored from a distance. While Figgy was making herself comfortable in the dark corners of our house, my dad came upon a kitten who had taken up residence in the warehouse where he worked. Learning of this lost little kitten, my brother and I waged a war to bring her into our home and make her ours. We won that battle, and home came Charcoal.

Charcoal was the first cat that I really remember being a complete and wonderful pet. She was cute, with her nose split black on one side and white on the other. She was friendly, LOVED to be pet (almost to a fault), prowled outside during the day, curled up inside at night and shed enough fur to make an afghan. It didn’t matter to Charcoal if you like her or not, she liked you. Anyone who showed her the least bit of attention would instantly become a best friend who no doubt wanted to pet her for the entire duration of their visit. At least as far as she was concerned. She was also the only one who could get close to Figgy. Those kitties, and a strange adopted dove who lived in our bathroom, rounded out my childhood family until I went off to college.

I will say that I liked those cats, they were always there and were unconditionally loving to me. However, I didn’t understand the deep love that people had for pets, or animals for that matter, until as adults I convinced my husband that we needed to adopt a cat here in Idaho. Luke was working and going to school full time and I spent a lot of time home alone. I was convinced that with a little furry companion my life would be complete.

The only option for me was to adopt from the Idaho Humane Society.  By adopting from the shelter I knew I would get an animal that was spayed/neutered, supporting an organization that protects animals from abuse, and I would get to pick my forever friend. I wanted a younger animal as I figured it would be easier to “train” and it had to be a short haired cat. I should say that I would have gotten a dog, but my husband was the heavy and would only agree to a cat. No worries, cats are good, I know cats.

I went to the Humane Society a few times, waiting to meet just the right kitty to bring into our family.  I would know the right animal and was willing to wait. On my third or fourth visit I walked into the kitty room and there he was. A kitten, staring at me, willing me to come and pet him. I washed my hands and opened his cage and he immediately rolled over on his back like a dog, encouraging me to rub his pristine white belly. He was the one! I called Luke, had to sleep on it for a night and then scurried back the next day to adopt my new forever friend. I paid the fee and signed all the papers to have him fixed. Instructed to pick him up the following day I went out and purchased the required kitty accessories. It was thrilling.

The next day I picked him up from the vet clinic and brought him home. Maybe it was the drugs he was coming off of, maybe it was because his manhood had been taken from him, who knows why, but my little 8 month old kitten was not too thrilled to be at our house and was more then happy to hide in the darkest, hardest to find corners. It wasn’t going the way I planned, but I was encouraged to hear him running all over the house in the dark of the night. At least he was still alive! The next day, when no progress had been made, I went so far as to consider returning him. He was not the cute cuddly kitty I had dreamed of. My husband told me to get over it and make friends with this cat, he was ours now.

Eventually we became friendly, this cat and I, but for some reason we could never get it together to name him and he became known as Kitty. While he was akin to my previous cat Figgy in the sense that he was what I’ll call independent, he is the prettiest cat I have ever had. His coloring is perfectly symmetrical, he has eyes lined in black, four perfectly white paws, and a beautiful white underbelly that looks like a collar when he sits. His fur is soft, his eyes piercing, and he still rolls on his back when he wants you to rub his belly. He loves to curl up on Luke’s lap and sleep for hours. My husband has that cool attitude that Kitty respects. I, however, tend to be a little more firm in my love for cats which Kitty can only stand in small bits. Make no mistake, any affection shown to him is always on his terms. What he lacks in kitty affection he makes up for in beauty. It’s not easy being that good looking. Our friends rarely see him when they visit, but here’s a picture to attest to his good looks.

Big Kitty likes a good suit case
After about two years I decided that Kitty needed a companion. I don’t know why, since he’s not particularly affectionate, but it was somehow necessary. My husband was convinced and I was ready to begin the search for our next pet. This pet would again be short haired, but would be female, and I was bound and determined to make it into a lap cat. I decided I needed a very new kitten, 6-8 weeks old would be perfect. This would be the cat that I would raise in my arms and wouldn’t be afraid of people. 
Lucky for us it was springtime and prime kitten season at the Humane Society. We had our pick of cute kittens. We scoured the cat room and carefully watched as all the kittens interacted. I wanted a calm one who wasn’t afraid of my hand. We came upon a cage with two female kittens. They weren’t as pretty as some of the other ones, but they weren’t attacking each other like wild beasts either. We decided to give it a day and if they were there the next day, we would pick one.
Upon our return they were both still there. I was ready to pick just one, but Luke ever the softy, couldn’t allow us to leave just one of the sisters behind, alone in the cold shelter. Two?! Who was this man? I didn’t care, he said we could get them both and I wasn’t going to question him, we were getting two babies! They were 7 weeks old. We had them fixed and brought them home. The two sisters were ours and they needed names. We couldn’t have Kitties 1, 2, and 3. I named one Olive (after Olive Oil in Popeye) and Luke named the gray one Misty. They were perfect. They soothed each other and weren’t afraid of my obsessive cuddling. They lived in the bathroom for the first week. The bathtub to be exact.

Misty and Olive
Misty is mostly gray with white around her mouth and white eyebrows. She is affectionately known as the princess. She got this nickname because she doesn’t like to go out in the cold, prefers to hang with people when they’re around, and instead of being pet by your hand prefers that you hold it out so she can preen against it herself, and she’s quite talkative especially when she’s hungry. Misty is always curious about anyone or anything that comes into the house and she isn’t afraid to come over and give it a good sniff. She also purrs like a motorboat. She’ll curl up in your lap and nap with you, but it’s taken awhile for her to get used to being held. Luckily, I was very hands on with my kittens and she has learned that to resist my love is futile. She always wants your attention, and the only way to disarm her incessant prodding is what I call “corporal cuddling”. She really is a sweetheart.

Misty
Olive, then, is Misty’s sister. I have to say that getting two kittens who are related was a great choice. They always had each other which has made them confident and playful pets. Olive is very different from her sister. She has dark calico coloring and a nose that is split colors, much like Charcoal. She has heavy eye lids, is almost too easy going, and can almost always be found napping on Luke’s office chair. When she’s not on the chair, because Luke is there, she’s napping right on his lap, pressed onto his desk. Olive is like a rag doll. She doesn’t resist being held in any position, when you go to pet her, or push her out of the way she will often simply fall over, and she always has a look on her face that says, “I’m confused?” She is the kitty of my dreams, and even though I probably shouldn’t say it, she’s my favorite. Except for that time when I opened a 500 degree oven and she decided that maybe she should get a closer look. I had to grab her mid leap into the oven. She doesn’t always show the soundest judgment, but she makes up for it with her tender heart.
Olive
So there they are, my three cats. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m now a crazy cat lady. I feed my cats raw food, make them wear tinker bells around their necks when they go outside, and have scratching posts around my home. They have provided us with so much entertainment, happiness, the occasional hissyfit (on my part) and overwhelming joy. I have never loved animals as much as I have loved these three. They each have very distinct personalities, and I feel privileged that I get to know them better then anyone. Even Luke, who wasn’t so sure about getting pets in the beginning, truly loves our cats. I’ve even taken to calling him the cat whisperer. His own gentle attitude and tender hand have endeared him to our cats. And me, well I’m their mom. The kittens, at least, always come when I call, or cluck. Once we got the kittens, Kitty became known as Big Kitty, which is hilarious, because now he’s the smallest cat in the house, but he has a big presence. I don’t know if he would have agreed with me when I initially thought he needed a companion, but I’m pretty sure now that those pesky kittens have grown on him. We’re one big crazy kitty loving family.
Something about a warm computer that puts a kitty right to sleep.
 Napping on Luke’s chair, a favorite past time
  Crazy kitty lady
  Ambush
Big Kitty cleaning Olive’s ear. She’s confused.

Friday Night Feast

Many Friday nights will find us having dinner with our friends, usually at Danny and Sarah’s house. Our dinners started as Sunday brunches and evolved into Super Soup Sunday’s and then to Friday Night dinners. Our meals are always pot luck and usually the best tasting and healthiest of the week. There is something special about bringing different dishes into one meal that makes them tender and tasty. Sometimes we have a theme, but more often then not it’s a free for all. Sometimes it’s just four of us and sometimes there’s up to 10 people. There is always enough food for all and anyone who visits us in Idaho is welcome!

This weeks dinner friends starting from 12:00 and going clockwise: Sarah, Luke, Me, Ashley, Olivia, Lucy, Chelsea, Shaun, and Danny (taking the picture)
The meal included:
  • grilled chicken and steak, pan fried tofu
  • sauted green beans and mushrooms with garlic
  • cumin rice
  • veggie salad with dried cranberries
  • crusty rosemary bread
  • for dessert: tasty crepes with Nutella, fruit and whipped cream, yum!

Can I just give a moment of thanks for Nutella here? I LOVE this stuff. It’s a hazelnut chocolate spread that has the consistency of peanut butter. It can go on toast, crepes, fruit, or my personal favorite, right off a spoon. Really, the sky is the limit. Try it, it is a truly tender treat.

 Remaining crepe dessert, tasty!

And anytime we have dinner at Sarah and Danny’s house there are always the doggies. Here is Olivia lovin’ on Mateo.

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