Posts Tagged ‘family’

Elijah’s Birth Story, Part V

 

The next days and weeks were filled with joys and challenges, as is the case with any new family. Christy and Robin stayed for a total of almost 24 hours, battling exhaustion at the end to make sure Elijah was healthy and ready to spend his first night safely in our arms. Breastfeeding was a challenge for the first five weeks or so due to some TMJ issues that Eli had as a result of his grand entrance. My in-laws stayed with us for the first four weeks (or I should clarify: Rob’s mom stayed for four weeks, Rob’s dad came the last of those four weeks) and helped immensely with our transition. My body struggled a bit regaining its strength and thank goodness that Annette was there to help me with the cooking, tidying, and laundry that was necessary as Rob went back to work. It was a time when we were figuring out what our new “normal” was going to be.

I am asked constantly if I would have made a different decision regarding homebirth if I had known the end of my labor would be so difficult. This question always surprises me–perhaps because I simply can’t imagine a labor and birth process any other way! I loved laboring at home, with my family and my animals and my own room. I loved being able to eat or drink or move whenever I wanted. I loved that medication simply wasn’t an option, and that I needed to rely on my own strength and bodily signals to help Elijah emerge into the world. Yes, it was difficult. Yes, at times it was painful. And you know what? That’s okay. It’s not something that needs to be feared or avoided. I feel so much intimacy with the threshold between being in this world and being in God’s embrace after this experience. In many ways, it is a paschal experience. Birth and Death and Life–and trusting in God to guide us over those thresholds–hold such a sacred, delicate balance.

Being able to share this experience with a midwife is also something that I will always cherish, and the attention and care that she gave us is something that I think every woman deserves. When we were still seeing an OB/GYN, we were lucky if an hour’s wait in the waiting room led to more than a ten minute visit. We had to try to remember every question and cram it in, because obviously he was hurried and had other patients to see. I’ve heard stories from my friends about their OBs not even remembering their names or the circumstances of their pregnancies. Our experience with Christy was so different. She came to our home, and would listen to Eli’s heartbeat while I was laying on my own couch. She would sometimes have dinner with us, and we would talk at length about any question or concern or anxiety I had. She sacrificed many Friday nights with her own family so we could do after-hours appointments that Rob could attend. And in the hardest moments, I trusted her implicitly because we had built that relationship throughout my pregnancy.

Every woman who labors decides how they want to do it, and this is not the forum for saying what I think everyone should or should not do. It is simply my way to express what worked best for me and my family. I hope that every woman gives thought to such a choice. We have more strength than we give ourselves credit for–many women I have talked to have said they couldn’t imagine laboring without medication. And yet in doing so, they sacrifice feeling some of the most undeniably unique and intimate sensations a person can experience. Pain doesn’t always have to equate to suffering. Pain isn’t necessarily always a bad thing. Sometimes, it’s a gift.

These days, I’m enjoying this new world as a mama. Being a witness to my son awakening to the world is a holy experience, one I am honored to experience. I’ve begun to see my relationship with my own parents in a new way, and likewise, with God. Elijah truly is a miracle. I pray that I may learn to gaze at God the same way Elijah gazes at me.

The adventure has only just begun.

Our First Harvest

After a wonderful week with Rob’s family, the house is quiet again. I’ve spent most of the day getting the house back into order and reminding myself of the old groove. It’s hard to spend a day alone after so many days filled with loved ones–especially my Robert. But such is the nature of vacations. If those wonderful types of days were normal, perhaps we wouldn’t appreciate them so much.

A wonderful thing happened during the festivities of the week. We did a hive inspection with Rob’s family, and behold! We were able to harvest a frame of honey. Each super holds eight frames in our English-Garden-style hive, and just one frame yielded about 32 oz. of honey. And it wasn’t even completely full and capped! Admittedly, we were a bit anxious and harvested a bit prematurely. But hey, we were excited. It was our first. We can be more patient next time.

Because we don’t have an extractor yet, we had to harvest the honey with the ol’ crush and drain method. This means that we let gravity do most of the work–we let crushed foundation, wax and all, sit on a fine mesh strainer over night. The result was some of the most delicious honey I’ve ever tasted. It was thick, sweet, rich…and distinctly ours. I had never tasted honey quite so wonderful. Perhaps I’m biased, or perhaps we have a bit of a good thing going. Personally, I’d like to think it’s a little bit of both.

So with a little bit of patience, we should be swimming in honey soon. We might even make a buck or two from it. But even if all the honey ends up in our hands, stored for the colder days when a cup of sweet hot tea makes the bitter cold bearable, I still probably wouldn’t complain too much. 🙂

Easy Bake

The past few days have been HOT in Tehachapi. Normally I wouldn’t mind heat, since I grew up in a place where 100+ degrees in the summer was relatively normal. However, I never fully appreciated the value of air conditioning on such days; that’s right, here in our little homestead we have no A/C.  Thank goodness for the beautiful old oak that shades our roof, because without that I think the house would feel more like an easy-bake oven!

That being said, it’s still much more comfortable than our little apartment in Playa was during the warm season. We get a really nice cross breeze through the house, and can leave the windows open at night without fear of burglary or loud parties interrupting our sleep. In Playa, the house had absolutely no ventilation, so it was always hot and stuffy even when the temperature outside topped 80 degrees. Here, there’s definitely more relief, even if it’s hotter.

Rob and I have been busily getting ready for the arrival of his parents, sister, brother, and sister-in-law on Saturday. The house is slowly taking on the guise of relative calm, and I am finding homes for all of the piles of “I’ll-think-about-it-later”s. Rob has really done a great job of getting the outside of our property ready. Because of all the spring moisture, we had some huge growth spurts for grasses and weeds around the property. Mustard weeds could have formed a jungle. Thank goodness for our riding mower and cooler mornings, or we’d never be able to tackle it all. As it is, we’ve had to spread many of these chores out over weeks and weeks.

My mom is also coming up today to spend the night and help me do some last minute preparations. I always look forward to our “girl time” together. As I get older, I appreciate her presence and advice in ways that, in my youth, I had  just taken for granted. She’s a fine woman, my mom.

That’s about it on the homestead. Oh, we’ve had our first few encounters with rattlesnakes here. Rob killed an adult right near our chicken coop, and saw an adolescent in the one patch of high grass we haven’t gotten to yet. Luckily these guys send out a clear warning before you get too close, but boy is it frightening! The scariest moment was when Sugar stumbled across the coiled adult near the coop. Thank goodness she came when we called. Yikes.

This Woman’s Work

You can’t ever really take a vacation from reality–it’s always waiting for you when you get home. And so it is with our bathroom saga. But, like so often seems to be the case, with this mini-crisis has come some unexpected blessings.

What you see here is partly the work of my own hands. Rob and I spent the evenings of this week tearing down walls, tearing out old insulation, and tearing off the old and rotting wooden planks that had been nailed to the ceiling. Thus the last of the demolition phase has begun…and I continue to learn and do things that I never thought I’d learn and do.

This week, I learned how to tear down a wall. I also used a drywall saw to carve out an access panel. These are small things for people that are handy, but for me, well…I felt empowered. It’s strange and beautiful to know the insides of your home. To see the bare bones. To know intimately the planks of wood that hold it up and hold it together. It’s like we’re doing surgery on this house, opening it up and scraping out the parts that were doing it harm. In the process, we get to see how it all works, and it almost feels like I’m witnessing the the life of the house played out before me. In those wooden studs we witness the birth of this house, the development of it’s skeleton. Each layer that was added–from insulation to wooden paneling then drywall and wallpaper–each was a new age in this house’s history. Now we strip it down and another age begins.

Tonight my father has driven up from my parents’ home two hours south. He spent the evening with Rob and I planning tomorrow’s work, which will consist of finishing the demolition, hanging a drywall ceiling, and roughing in our tub (that is, at least, if all goes according to our ambitious plan).

I have to admit how wonderful it’s been to do this work–this, the work of our my hands–with Rob, and now with my father. Next week Rob’s dad will join us as well. I feel lucky and blessed to have this adventure, no matter how scary it feels at times.

God is so good–and I am thankful that even the challenges hold abundance of grace.

We Made It!

Move in day was last Friday. Well, technically, I suppose it turned out only to be move out day. At 7am, we picked up the truck, only to realize it was too small. I don’t know who from the UHaul website decided that a 3 bedroom house could fit into a 17′ truck, but it definitely wasn’t the case with us! We had thought that we had been doing well to simplify, but this was a wake up call. Things hiding in corners and closets…where did all the stuff come from? Regardless, it wasn’t fitting into the 17′ truck, and that was that.

With no larger trucks available, we ended up renting a second truck, the smallest available. Rob drove up the 17′ truck and my dad drove the smaller. Our loading crew consisted of me, Rob, my mom, my dad, and my brother. We had quite a bit to load:

Despite tireless work from our brave loading crew, we didn’t get done until around 4pm (I had hoped to be on the road by noon). The trucks had to drive up a bit slower because of high winds in the Antelope Valley, so I went ahead to turn on the heat and get the cats settled. The trucks pulled into the driveway at around 7pm, as a light drizzle began to fall from the sky. Although I was cold and exhausted, I was filled with joy as I waved to the caravan as they pulled into the driveway. We were home.

We knew we couldn’t start unpacking that late; it was dark, we were exhausted, and we absolutely needed food. So we backed the trucks into the driveway so they would be ready to go the next morning, and then went to enjoy the best pizza I had ever tasted. I’m not sure if the pizza was actually amazingly good, but I had probably burned 4,000 calories that day and was ready to eat anything!

Rob and I had reserved a hotel room for my parents at the Holiday Inn, and we decided to see if there were any extra rooms available. Luckily, there was a room right across the hall from them, and we settled in for our first night in Tehachapi (the cats stayed at the house–lucky guys!). Rob and I slept restlessly; I think we just wanted to be home! We woke up around 5am, showered and dressed, and went down to the lobby room for some morning coffee.

As the sun rose, we looked out the window to miserable weather. The wind was howling and the rain was pounding (did I mention the sign on the trucks that said they were water resistant but not water proof?). We decided to head to the house to check up on the cats. We’d meet with my parents in a few hours for breakfast.

As we got closer to the house, the landscape changed. The rain turned to snow. The wind calmed. The silence grew. All thoughts of anxiety left us as we drove down our rural country road…no anxiety could be sustained in such beauty.

A few pictures from our driveway:

And of the truck!:

The cats enjoyed the weather, too:

At around 9am, my family met us at a local restaurant and we had a hot breakfast while the snow came down outside. Lcukily, by 10am storm seemed to have passed, and by 10:30 we were unloaded the truck in dry–albeit cold–weather.

By 6pm, everything was unloaded and most of the kitchen boxes were unpacked. The bed was assembled and we had enough clothes unpacked to last us a day or two. We had made it–we were home.

I am so grateful to my parents and brother–without them, we’d never had been able to do it (especially moving the piano). I am so grateful to my husband–he was so patient and worked tirelessly. I know he must have felt some anxiety about starting a new job the following Monday, but no anxiety came through during the whole move. He was incredible. And I’m so grateful to God–for this opportunity, for this dream, for all the memories that are to be made here. There are more stories of affirmation that have happened this week, but for now, I’ll end the tale.

But, in truth, it’s just the beginning.

Dreams Have Value

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When my husband and I visited Best Friends Animal Sanctuary earlier in the month, we fell in love with our overnight dog, Julep. We took her on a ride down to Jacob Lake, took her hiking, and had a nice meal on the patio of a local restaurant. Julep was wonderful, and we immediately saw her as fitting right in with our family.

The next morning we filled out an application. It felt like a really big step, because Julep would need to have a yard. Which would mean we would need to live in a place with a nice yard for her (unlike our current apartment). That’s okay, we thought. We were planning on doing that anyway. I dreamt of our new home and our new dog, raising our kids with this friendly and mellow boxer. It was a nice dream.

The problem, though, was that Julep hadn’t been cat-tested. And we have two very loved cats as part of our family. So, the adoption coordinator told us, they would let us know how Julep did when she was introduced to cats.

I was told this morning she did not do well. In fact, she did so poorly in her cat-test that Best Friends simply doesn’t feel comfortable adopting her to a home with cats. Period. Which I actually really respect and appreciate, both for Julep’s sake and for our cats’.

But I admit to being very sad, too.

Sometimes the dreaming is the important part in the process. Often when I dream of possibilities, I let my heart get carried away. I realize this about myself. Yet, at the same time, I know that even when these possibilities don’t materialize and my heart breaks for it, I continue to expand within. I don’t regret letting Julep into my heart. I may feel a deep loss at what might have been, but I don’t regret it. Because my heart is better for loving a little bit more.

The dream itself has value. And, in my heart, I hope it had value for Julep, too–I hope she knew how much she will be loved by some family, some day.

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PS…If you are interested in adopting sweet, wonderful Julep–or any other animal from Best Friends–you can learn more at http://adoptions.bestfriends.org/.

Who Needs TV?

IMG_5190I had one of the most enjoyable nights I can remember during the recent holiday weekend.  It wasn’t anything fancy–my family gathered in the living room with 3 guitars (only two of us could actually play, and of the two of us, only one was good–and that wasn’t me!).  We spent the evening playing, singing, laughing. Two unforgettable hours–the same amount of time that could have been spent watching a movie. Instead, we spent it making some of my favorite memories.

I want to be clear–I don’t think there’s anything wrong with watching movies together. But I wonder how many things we didn’t do over the years because of the easy fallback of movies or TV. I wonder how many games didn’t get played, and how many songs didn’t get sung together.

I like the fact that as a family, we have really begun to value attentive time together. I spend more time with my parents having meaningful conversations (we always did, but I notice that they are more frequent now). I spend more time with my brother helping him with important learning skills and discussing things that really matter. It’s nice, and it feels like a richness has been poured into every moment I get to spend with them. I appreciate it.

2 unforgettable hours. A fantastic birthday present, if I do say so myself.