family

Well I am having a hard time figuring out if I chose the best or worst time to take this on.  Right now, life is simply lobbing me one stressful event after another.  The timing has definitely not been ideal for extreme weight loss, but it has been primed for personal growth and that sometimes is even more important.

The last several days my son has been very sick and Monday we spent the good part of the day and all evening in the ER.  He is getting better and is going to be just fine, but the stress has been profound.  Believe me, the last thing I want is excuses for why I can’t succeed at this.

This is what I struggle with time and time again.  Life gets in the way, the stress gets to me and then I eat to make myself feel better and then I feel guilty and crappy about myself so I give up.

This cycle, I only lost half a pound.  I have hit my mark in that 163 pounds is this sticking point for me.  I have not been below it since my son was born three years ago.  I try and I try and I get to 163 and it just won’t budge.  Well, here we are again after a stressful and disappointing week and I have to say I am not surprised.  I am trying very hard to look past that number and not feel defeated.

But a couple of really good things have come out of this cycle and right now I am celebrating the littlest of victories.  I am still here.  I haven’t given up, I haven’t blown my diet.   I am sticking to the plan, despite all the obstacles.  I will finish what I started and push past my fears.

I also started exercising again.  There are still many things that I can’t do with my thumb as it is, but I went for a run and biked as well.  I also tried out some of the bodyweight exercise routines, which I totally love.  There were several of the exercises that I couldn’t do as I am unable to put my full weight on that hand, but I either modified, substituted or skipped the moves I couldn’t do and kept going.  Tonight I am going back to swim classes for the first time since the accident.

The biggie though has been gaining some control back over the food.  The fast days have been so pinnacle in this.  Yes, I get hungry but I embrace that and I have control of whether I eat or not.  And that gives me more control over the rest of the days when I have to choose what I will eat, whether I will stick to the plan or give into the little gremlins in my head.

Through all the last few weeks of craziness with family in and out of the house and two major medical events, I have stuck to the plan as much as I could.  There have been moments of weakness and moments of circumstance, but I didn’t let them affect my resolve.  I just kept going.  This may not seem like much to you, but for me it is a pretty big deal.

I have two more cycles to go and I hope that I can get it together enough to lose a little weight in the process.  But even if I don’t, I have gained a lot from this and I will be completing the program again in July before my husband and I take a trip to Sonoma.  So, I will have another chance to make it happen for me.

I have updated the Xtreme Fat Loss page with the latest.  Not much to look at though…

Don’t let my lack of success deter you from this program.  My results have nothing to do with the program.  I have no doubt that it works and that you could achieve significant results.

Learn More at the Xtreme Fat Loss Diet Website

Don’t let your fears or reservations stop you in achieving your goals.  When we fall all there is to do is to get up and keep going.

People always say not to sweat the small stuff, but sometimes it’s the small stuff that can make he biggest difference.

This summer I have been trying to do little things around the house just to make life simpler or prettier or just nicer in some way.  It’s funny what can change your life in a small yet very significant way.

calendar

I am not the most organized of people and with two kids in two different schools this year, I figured I needed to create a way to keep track of who needed to be where, what forms needed to be filled out and returned and what days I have a meeting or Karli is going to be home late etc etc etc.

With school starting last week this has really been my first introduction into the crazy schedule of a family of four.  To help me stay on track, I dedicated a wall in my kitchen to family organization.  I have two white board calendars as well as cork boards and white boards for notes and forms and stuff.  I even found a stick on post-it dispenser and some really cute orange cube push pins.

My office supply fetish is definitely satisfied on this one.  We even have a different color pen for each member of the family.

kitchen_window

Another addition to my kitchen is the hanging fruit basket.  This worked out really well, providing plenty of room for all the fruit bowl items and keeping the onions and garlic separate from the fruit.  By finding a creative solution to the overflowing fruit bowl we also cleared up some much needed counter space, which is at a premium in my tiny kitchen.

Cleaning out the garden window which had previously been filled with all my poor suffering house plants cleared enough space to start an herb garden in that window which had always been the plan and only took me 8 years to get around to.  We also gave the window sill a fresh coat of paint which really brightened it up.  It is so nice to be able to look out that window and see the kids playing in the back yard.   I don’t know if I ever thought we would get there.

pantry

Probably the biggest kitchen impact came from the addition of this giant pantry unit.  We finally got the extra shelves we needed and the drawers we forgot to buy the first time around and it is now complete and a fully functional pantry.  Having this extra space makes all the difference in a tiny house with little storage.   And I finally have all my little plastic storage containers with labels and everything.  Mmmmm, it makes me all warm inside.

house_plants

And yes, those suffering house plants (there are many more) have finally found legitimate homes throughout the house.  I look forward to watching them finally thrive and grow.  Only a few weeks later they are already looking very very happy.  They even all got matching pots in complimentary colors.

It is really amazing how much more alive and homey my house feels now.   Having the youngest to an age where he no longer feels the need to tip the plants over and dig in them is a great relief to both them and me.

towel_rack

And last, but certainly not least is the new over the door towel rack in the main bathroom.  There has never been a really good place for a towel rack in this bathroom and since I am sharing this bathroom with the kids for the time being, where to put he towels has been an ongoing struggle and trial and failure.

But here it is, my big beautiful towel rack.  Like I said, it’s the smallest things that make the biggest difference.  Ahhh!

It has been an interesting couple of weeks since attending the forum.  I have been mourning a part of myself and learning to live in a world where that part me no longer exists.  Of course this is a good thing, but that certainly doesn’t mean it has been easy.

I have caught myself falling back into my depression routines which is pretty frustrating.  I am also noticing new layers or levels of issues to deal with.  This is also a good thing as these are the real issues, the rackets I have built up that were hidden beneath my tortured soul persona.  The good news is that now that I am past all the bullshit  I can concentrate on going after the stuff really getting in the way.  It is like all that anger just wrapped me in a blanket of safety and now I am fully exposed, left to look for and examine the real issues I was just hiding from before.

My therapist is thrilled and I am working on being thrilled, but right now I just feel a little let down.  See there, that’s a racket talking right there.

I have been finding it hard to write.  This post have been sitting in my draft posts in various stages of undone for about a week now.  I ended up having to write it by hand to break through the block and it hardly resembles what I meant to write when I started.  When I think about it, I wonder if much of my inspiration came from my angst and resentment and blame.  This is a new place to write from for me.  This is a new place to do everything from for me.

Although I see the future in a whole new brighter light from a place of knowing I am not only capable but also deserving, insecurity and fear are still rampant and restraining.

But alas,  life rolls along and time speeds past and there is much to be done.  School starts this week and a new stage of life beings for our family. Ada starts kindergarten on Thursday and Ian will be attending preschool two mornings a week starting next week.    This leads to many new challenges and some great opportunities as well.

I am not the most organized of people, another racket I run to avoid being responsible for my own life — See how those can get in the way?

So, this week I have set myself up to succeed and started a fresh school year with a fresh outlook.

Taking responsibility for my life means many things to me.  Much of the big stuff like the wall I put up between myself and others and how angry I was and generally nasty sometimes are gone – vanished like some sort of magic.  What’s left are those things that can make a huge difference in my day to day life.  These include being organized and responsible for remembering what forms need to be filled out, that there is a field trip tomorrow and I need to send snacks to school on Wednesday.  It also means taking responsibility for my health and my body and finally doing what it takes to be a healthy, confident, beautiful woman.

Maybe we can throw in figuring out what I want to be when I grow up as well, but that is the big scary monster in the room right now and a lot of baggage lays between me and that goal, although I have been having some thoughts about what it might look like and that is a surprisingly big step for me.   In the meantime I can concentrate on getting the things I do have under my control under control.

I have already made some big strides.  Today (well actually yesterday but it took me too long to edit this) I have eaten great, exercised, cleaned the house and spent quality time with the kids, while still managing to get some work done.  It is possible to be productive and get everything done.  It’s amazing how much time opens up when you stop worrying so much about how overwhelming it all is.

The challenge will be to keep at it for more than a couple of days.  This is another racket I run.  I have great intentions and a strong start, but the follow through tends to go by the wayside.  I have put many tools into place to assist me in overcoming this weakness and I will share them with you over the next couple of weeks as I discover the successes and failures.  I hope that maybe an idea will spark you to create a less overwhelming life for yourself as well.

Having two kids with birthdays four days apart was a really bad idea, not that we consciously decided to do it that way.  Whatever you do, don’t try to get pregnant the same month more than once.   

As a result of this momentary lack in judgement, April is crazy crazy crazy.  There is Easter and the grandparents visiting back to back and double birthdays to plan and shop for. 

We did try to down play it this year with just a small family gathering for Ian and a fairy extravaganza for Ada and her four closest girlfriends, but it doesn’t seem how simple we try to make it, it still involves a lot of stress and energy.

I would never want to deprive my kids of anything, but this is only going to get more complicated as they get older.  There has to be a way to avoid having to do back to back birthday parties for the next 10 years, as it is both emotionally and financially challenging.  Would I be wrong to limit them to big parties every other year and a family party on the opposing years?  It seems fair to me, but I don’t have siblings and so I don’t have an understanding of how that might play with them.  Anyone have any good ideas?

This last week, I was feeling very overwhelmed by the whole thing and being generally cranky.  I even had an angry day and have had a hard time sleeping, which I haven’t encountered in a while.  I talked to my therapist about it yesterday and she thinks it is probably just some emotions that were brought up in therapy last week (we had kind of a break through session) that I didn’t have time to deal with and process appropriately because of family coming into town and Ada’s party and such.  We did some work to integrate some of it and I feel a little more centered this week, so that is good.

With all that said, the look of joy on Ada’s face as she bounced around for three days in anticipation of her friends coming to celebrate her birthday with her was worth every bit of stress and tiredness.  She just beamed and sparkled through the whole thing. 

With Ian turning 2 this week, I can’t wait to see him realize for the first time that everyone is singing for him and dig into a piece of chocolate cake with reckless abandon.  Priceless!

Now, if I could just get rid of this kink in my neck.

So Dr. Laura is on Larry King right now discussing her new book “In Praise of Stay at Home Moms”.  I have to say that I am a little confused about what to say about this.

I am more than slightly uncomfortable with the fact that Dr. Laura is the new spokesperson for stay at home moms.  Her traditional value system and outdated theories certainly don’t represent me as a stay at home mom.

But with that said, I am glad that someone is speaking to and about stay at home moms.  I have said before that I feel very fortunate to be in the position to stay at home with my kids and I do, but it was a choice that we made for our family because we felt that was what was best for our family.

This was a very significant sacrifice for us and  we struggled financially for a long time.  But with careful planning, stategic budgeting and a lot of self control, we have been able to not only survive, but thrive in our situation. Karli has worked so hard to advance his carreer so that we can build our life and provide for our kids.

And now that the kids are getting  a little older there is an opportunity for me to remake myself professionally as well.  I put my career on hold to stay at home and it is undeniable that I would have been very successful by now in that career.  But, that doesn’t mean that I can never work or build a new career for myself.  It just looks a little different now and for me that is the best thing that could have happened.  I feel like I am going to get my cake and eat it too –  a professional life that fits my lifestyle and the family life that we have chosen to build for ourselves.

Choosing to stay home has been the most rewarding and challenging thing I have ever done.  It isn’t easy and I am certainly not lazy or stupid.    I have heard that this is a common perception, but I have never experienced that.  I work very hard and give of myself on an emotional level that I think is hard to understand or relate to unless you do stay at home.  But I also reap the biggest rewards and I think my kids do as well.

But, I also don’t think it is productive to perpetuate the divide between stay at home and working moms.  We all work very hard to care for our children in the way that works best for our families.   My closest girl friends work outside the home and I have a great deal of respect for them and there choices just as they have respect for mine.

We often joke that we couldn’t imagine how hard it must be to do it the other way around and I think that says that we have made the right choices for us.  Moms should support and respect each other, no matter what our circumstances are.

On somewhat of a side note…

A while back my step sister in law (is that the way I say it?) posted the article below on facebook.  I felt this was a pretty good representation and until now forgot how much I wanted to share this with you all.  Now seems like an appropriate time.  Click on the image to make it big enough to read.

mom_articla_washpost

For the last several weeks I have been on the verge of literally tearing my hair out.  My son, now 22 months, has been a total nightmare.  Cute as the dickens, but a total nightmare.  He wakes up in the morning grumpy and whines and complains and screams at me until it is time to go to bed.  For a while he wasn’t sleeping very well, waking poor Karli at the wee hours of the morning.  He just seems really discontent and driving me to my limit of patience.

Of course, when one is not themselves and needs extra attention the other puts it into high gear.  In this case, my daughter has become combative and argumentative and generally just pissed off at the world.

The two of them combined was threatening to push me straight over the edge.

This is all perfectly normal of course, but sometimes you can’t help but feel like the world is closing in around you and you are all alone in the world.  That you must be doing something wrong and that no one could possibly understand what you are going through.  

It’s also amazing how exactly what you need comes to you just when you need it.  This behavioral chaos that has invaded our home was coming to its peak the last couple of days and I started looking around and reaching out a little.  

The kind and commiserating words of friends, a forum thread I found yesterday and similar developmental information from various sources convinced me that I just needed to let it go and relax.  My goal for the rest of the day was to simply stay calm.

Of course, this didn’t mean that he wasn’t frustrated or getting into everything or being a general menace, but my attitude toward it started to change and he seemed calmer as well.   After his nap, he was running around pointing and saying the name of everything.  This is a huge step as he has been a little slow to expand his vocabulary past the basics.

Then this morning, he’s like a brand new kid.  Or really, just more like his old self with an expanded vocabulary.  I had a feeling that this was one of those ‘disequalibrium’ stages that happen before a huge development shift, but is it possible that like a switch his words kicked in and the never ending bad attitude is out?  Just like that?  I’m tentatively and realistically hopeful.

And just to remember all the joy they bring us, click on the first photo below for slide show.

Ian the PurpleElmo RocksRobotThe Ultimate Cheesy GrinFiremanFloor Sleeper from Under TableNot long now and he will be bigger than herTaking on the Monkey BarsHis obsession with shoes continuesSilly Daddy - Ada took thisAda and Karli - Feb 2009Ada and Mama - Feb 2009Sneaky

This morning we sat as a family and watched the inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States of America.

Although words are not coming easily to me at this point, I am full. Full of hope for the future. Full of pride in my country. Full of love for everyone and everything.

I know I am not alone in my deep reflection on this moving experience. It amazes me and fills me with joy that such an inspirational and capable man has come to power at a time when we need it so badly. All things happen for a reason at the time it is most needed and I think that is the case here.

I was impressed with the strength of his speech, the message he sent to the world and most importantly his message to us, the American people. These are tough times for this country and we must all stand together and get ready to work hard beside each other building a new America.

You can’t help but feel there was a fundamental shift that occurred this morning and I can’t help but notice that I feel fundamentally different because of it.

Dear Mr. President: Be strong and follow your heart. Your judgement is sound and good and should be trusted as well as critically questioned. Surround yourself with smart and experienced people you trust and listen heartfully to them, but don’t let them sway you from the task at hand. We need you now to show us the way. Tell us what you need from us and we will be there, standing next to you. We need change, need to take responsibility for our actions and contributions to both the good and bad that is this time in this country, need to be inspired and led by you. You will be great and my hopeful and positive thoughts will be with you every step of the way.

For my own selfish reasons and for my personal purpose of always wanting to remember this day, I have quoted the text of President Barack Obama’s inaugural speech below.

Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address

Following is the prepared text of President-elect Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address, as provided by the Presidential Inaugural Committee:

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land – a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America – they will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted – for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things – some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sanh.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions – that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act – not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions – who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them – that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works – whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account – to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day – because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control – and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart – not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort – even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West – know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment – a moment that will define a generation – it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends – hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism – these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility – a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence – the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed – why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

“Let it be told to the future world…that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].”

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

A while back I was researching places to promote my blog and/or partner with and I came across a site called blogher.com, a community for women who blog.

I discovered many women there discussing important issues and sharing their voices.  I have contributed to these conversations on several occasions and was looking through my posts there the other day.  I found an old comment I left on a thread about doulas and felt like this may be an important story to share here.

This is my birth story.  Giving birth is one of the most rewarding and empowering things we can do as women.  But this story also reminded me how important it is to remember that it is our inner power that gives us the strength to complete such a wonderful and trying journey.  

We must always remember to nourish this inner strength  so that we remain these incredibly powerful women throughout the rest of our lives.  Raising great kids is going to take all the energy, courage and fortitude we can get our hands on.

Please excuse any spelling or grammer errors in the story below.  It was written in haste and without editing.

With and Without a Doula

I have had two completely different birthing experiences, one with a doula and one without.

The birth of my daughter was one of the most tramatic experiences of my life. For my entire prenatal period, I had a doctor that I loved and we had a very detailed plan that we had worked out together for months. Unfortunately, nothing would go as planned.

This is a good lesson in itself. No matter how well you plan, be just as prepared for nothing to go the way you think it will.

The thing is, when you go to a doctor that is part of a group, the chances that that doctor will deliver your baby is very low, unless you go into labor during office hours. I’m sure this has worked out fine for many women but for me, it was the middle of the night both times.

The doctor that was on call when I went into labor with my daughter was really unfortunate. My water had broke and labor was slow to start. I had had my appendix out six weeks earlier (yeah, 34 weeks pregnant and a totally different story) and she basically told me that I was high risk and would be treated as such, even though my doctor had told me as long as I had gone six weeks past surgery, I would be considered normal.

What this meant is that I was monitored the whole time and she only gave me a short period for labor to begin before she gave me pitocin. I just felt rushed and unsupported by her for my entire labor. I felt like she was just chomping at the bit to cut me open, not the most nurturing birthing environment.

My doula was very good at keeping me as calm as possible through this whole thing and keeping me informed of what was going on and why certain decisions were being made, but my anxiety level was very high and the pitocin contractions were extremely painful.

The short version of the story is that eventually, during pushing, my daughter started to dcell and then they lost her heartbeat. Then there was panic and rushing around and throwing of scrubs and I was screaming, it was terrible. When we got to the operating room, they hooked her up to the monitor and she was totally fine, but the doctor insisted on continuing with the c-section. While they were upping my epidural to the correct levels, I continued to push (as you can’t stop), with the help of my nurse and eventually, I took control and demanded that she let me try to push her out before she proceeds with the c-section as she was fully crowning and her heartrate was fine. She gave me three pushes and I was luckily able to push her out. The whole operating room broke out in cheers.

Although having a doula was a nice additive to my experience, she was not allowed in the operating room and was able to do little to prevent my bad experience. I am in no way saying that doulas can’t be a great help and I felt like my doula did a great job given the circumstances, but when it comes down to it, it is all about your own sense of power and peace and the relationship with your doctor.

I also give a ton of credit to my nurse. She was amazing and stayed with me through the end, even though her shift had ended. She empowered me and from working with that doctor (who it was pretty clear that most of the nurses didn’t like working with) many times before, she was knowledgable about how to deal with this doctor and helped me to get what I needed in spite of her.

In the end, my daughters birth was very empowering and she was healthy and beautiful and that is all the really matters.

When I got pregnant with my son, I took a totally different approach. I was determined that if I had anything to say about it, that doctor was never going to come anywhere near me again. Unfortunately, this meant that I had to leave my doctor, who I totally loved.

Having several experiences in the maternity ward at my hospital (my daughter’s birth and I spent a week there after my apendix operation), I was confident with the nursing care and quality of the facility.

For me, it really came down to finding the right practice. All the doctors in the practice must be on the same page as you when it comes to your needs during labor. With a group of doctors who share on call duties, you will never be sure of what doctor will be there to deliver your baby.

I was fortunate that I found a doctor I trusted and who would for sure deliver my baby the second time around. He has an individual practice and delivers 97% of his own babies. He goes on vacation once a year and as long as you aren’t due during that time, you can almost be certain he will be there with you.

My first birth was so dramatic and stressful that the second time, I just wanted calm. I wanted to enjoy the birthing experience and embrace motherhood in a way that I was denied the last time. I did end up choosing an epidural, but was not pressured or deterred in any way. This time around the decisions were mine, with the understanding that if things got really bad, he would have to take over. That I could live with.

I am very narrow through my pelvis and my babies are big and therefore, they have a little trauma coming through the birth canal. My son’s birth was no different in this matter, but I didn’t even really know anything was wrong. My doctor was calm and cool through the whole thing and found the perfect balance of telling me this was serious and I had to push with no resting, without making me feel scared at all.

My son was born healthy, happy, huge and in a hurry.

I am so glad that I have that experience as the freshest and most prominent in my mind.

I agree that birth done the wrong way can be increadibly tramatic and with lasting effects. I was so jumpy and scared going into it the second time.

But, I am glad that I took charge of my pregnancy and birthing experience and did what I needed to make sure I wasn’t in the same situation again.

My advice, find a doctor you trust in a practice that as a whole gels with your belief system and what you desire from your delivery. Take every opportunity you can to meet with as many of the doctors in the practice as you can and also make sure that the hospital you are going to has practices and rules that you agree with and a top notch nursing staff. If having your plan followed through on and your doctor there with you, then do your best to choose someone who delivers a very high percentage of their babies.

Ask questions, be up front with what you need and don’t be afraid to change course if necessary.

As far as doula’s go, after having one with me the first time, I didn’t feel it was necessary the second time. But, my husband was amazing during labor and I was confident enough the second time to be my own advocate and I trusted my doctor implicitly.

I think every birth and every individual is completely unique and doula’s can be an excellent resourse and a great help.

The Redesigned Mom

A Stay at Home Mom’s Journey to Self Fulfillment

Submitted by redesignedmom on Sat, 10/04/2008 – 14:40

You may have noticed that this blog has been a little dormant lately.  This has a little to do with the holidays and the continuous stream of family visits, but I think I have been feeling a little blocked up because I have been avoiding writing this post, which I sketched out several weeks ago, but has been sitting unattended in my notebook since then.  It’s amazing the things you will do while avoiding.  The house is clean and I am getting really good at Zen Gems. 

Why avoid it though?  Maybe because if I actually say it out loud, I will finally have to follow through and hold myself accountable?  That’s a tough one, you see I tend to talk big and fail to follow through.  I want this to stop and that is why I am sucking it up, taking a deep breath and writing it all down for the world to see and hold me accountable for.

This is going to get a little lengthy and I apologize for that ahead of time.  You can stop reading now if you want because this post is really for me anyway.

A few notes before I get into the nitty gritty.  The goals on this list are intended to be year long goals not to be implemented immediately but taken one step at a time and built upon as the year progresses.  This is a year of change and forward movement for me though and I fully intend on working on each and every one of the items on this list.

This really isn’t a post about my new year’s resolution as much as laying out my goals for this year, but if I had to sum it up into one resolution, I would say that it is to not get overwhelmed and paralyzed by the enormity of it all.  I think I tend to look at the big picture too much and it just freaks me out and keeps me from being effective at the step by step, day by day stuff.  So, my goal is to get organized, get motivated and tackle one thing at a time.

Ok, so here we go.

In my old book club, I had the pleasure of knowing a well known hypnotherapist and a really great woman Diane Sewell. A few weeks ago, she sent out an email (I assume to her mailing list) that really inspired me to take this year’s goal setting seriously.  Here is her list of 10 things you can do to be successful and get off on the right foot in 2009.

  1. How You Think is Everything:  Always be positive.  Think success and not failure.   Also beware of negative environments.
  2. Decide Upon Your True Dreams and Goals:  Write down your specific goals and develop a plan to reach them.
  3. Take Action:   Goals are nothing without action.  Don’t be afraid to get started.  Just do it.
  4. Never Stop Learning:   Go back to school or read books.  Get training and acquire skills.
  5. Be Persistent and Work Hard:   Success is a marathon, not a sprint.  Never give up.
  6. Learn to Analyze Details:   Get all the facts, all the input.  Learn from your mistakes.
  7. Focus Your Time and Money:   Don’t let other people or things distract you.
  8. Don’t be Afraid to Innovate; Be Different:   Following the herd is a sure way to mediocrity.
  9. Deal and Communicate with People Effectively:   No person is an island.  Learn to understand and motivate others.
  10. Be Honest and Dependable; Take Responsibility:   Otherwise, #’s 1-9 don’t matter.

Diane Sewell, Master Hypnotist and Weight Loss Expert

In the past year I have struggled and worked very hard to improve my mental and emotional states as well as remove the negative environments that were contributing to my depression and life paralysis.  Now, I look at my future as a clean slate, a place to start and it is time for me to take control, set goals and direct my own future.

I have an affirmation that I say all the time.  I say it when I am feeling overwhelmed or sad or stressed, during Savasana, before I go to sleep – really any time that it seems appropriate to do so.  It calms and focuses me.    It goes something like this.

I am whole, I am happy, I am healthy, I am beautiful

With all this in mind, I have laid out this years goals into those four categories and listed them out below.  Some of the items are pretty simple and straight forward, but many will required detailed plans to accomplish.  Over the next couple of weeks, I will be posting these plans as well and will link to them from the appropriate items below.

These lists are not in any particular order.  Just as they came to me.

I Am Whole

Things that are healing and contribute to my overall mental health and fulfillment

  • What are my true dreams?
  • Work hard and accomplish enough that by the end of the year I am attending therapy once a month rather than every week.
  • Complete and full 21 day manifestation. 
  • Read my tarot cards once a week for insight, guidance and awareness.
  • Be contributing $500 per month to the family budget by the end of the year.  
  • Find or create a mommy support network.
  • Create and maintain a comforting and manageable home environment
  • Be the best mom that I can that day, every day.
  • Start writing my book.

I Am Happy

Things that are simply for my and my family’s pleasure.  The things that just make life more fun.

  • Have one great family adventure every month.
  • Take time for fun just for me – book club, girls nights etc.
  • Find a babysitter
  • Have more sex
  • Kiss my husband passionately every day
  • Give myself a break sometimes
  • Laugh out loud with my kids every day

I Am Healthy 

Things to improve both my body and mind

  • Achieve a slim, fit and healthy body – this means to me…  Look and feel great naked and goal weight of 135.
  • Experiment and incorporate more healthy foods into diet
  • Sleep better
  • Walk the dog more
  • Garden and landscaping projects
  • Generally by more active and productive – just get up and do it, when you think about doing it.
  • Reduce TV watching by 1 hour per day
  • Be reasonable with the puzzles and online games – have a picture and a crossword puzzle printed out to work on during downtime.  Online games only during designated relax time.  Get a grip.
  • Complete PHP certification

I Am Beautiful

This is as much mental as physical for me.  I want to feel beautiful in my own personal and distinct way.

I am terrible at  forming good habits and have neglected much of the womanly maintenance over the years.  As many moms can probably relate – I have let myself go a little.

Now, I am not really into a lot of the girly stuff and looking perfect all the time doesn’t even reach my radar, but it is important that I begin to feel good about myself again and keeping up with some physical improvements will generally lead to that I think.  You’ll notice, this is pretty basic stuff here.

  • Wash my face every night
  • Shave my legs once a week (I have very blond fine hair so this is all I need to do), even in the winter.
  • buy some quality makeup
  • Get a haircut regularly
  • Lotion all over, every day
  • Figure out my own personal style
  • Buy new clothes that fit well and make me feel good about myself.  Don’t just buy what’s cheapest.
  • Look in the mirror and say you are beautiful inside and out, every day

I wish all of you a very happy holiday season.  Have fun and be safe.  Give thought and energy to and be open to all the wonderful things in the coming year.  And most of all be grateful for and show love to those most precious to you.