Life, Love, and Dirty Diapers

Dominic’s Birth Story

Once again, I’m going to put the disclaimer on this that this has very real details from my very real birth. If you don’t want to read about it, click away. Go read something else for the day. But lots of people put their birth stories on the internet, and this is my place for mine. Because I’m not sure if my doulas and nurses want to be identified or not, I’m just going to use an initial for them. Oh and I’ll scatter pictures of him from my pregnancy all the way up to present time throughout the birth story. Oh and I tried to get all the details correct, but parts of this have been blurry since the beginning so that’s my other disclaimer.

So this story starts on Friday morning. Friday morning I woke up at like 6:50 am, not that unusual, I usually can’t sleep that long after Nick goes to work at 5 am anyways. I started having contractions pretty quick after I first woke up – at roughly 7 am I had my first one. On the one hand, I didn’t think this was anything because I had had contractions on and off for a week-ish. On the other hand, I was sort of “on notice” because my OB/GYN had stripped my membranes and thought I was likely to go into labor in 24-36 hours when I had my appointment on Thursday (for reference, I was at almost 2 cm when she checked me). So I got up and did my normal thing. Turned on the news, made some breakfast, things like that. The contractions kept going, but I was nervous timing them would jinx them until I think both my friend Laura and Nick told me I should start timing them.  Around noon they got stronger and closer together and I kept going back and forth. Am I really in labor or not? I asked Laura a bunch of times probably (she had given birth one time already). Around 1-1:30 I texted Nick and told him I thought he should come home from work. He asked if I could wait an hour so he could try to get a leave early approved. I told him no, I wanted him home. I probably could have waited the hour, but I was a little scared and I didn’t want to be home alone.  Eventually Nick came home and we called the hospital and they encouraged me to stay home as long as possible. So we stayed home for a little while longer. Around 3:30ish, Nick wanted to go to the hospital. I was less sure about going, but I thought if he felt we were ready, I was ready to go.

Took this when I was pregnant, not sure when but it’s like the first “official” photo I took of my being pregnant, personal photo

We arrived at the hospital and were shortly checked into OB/GYN triage. Here they hooked me up to a monitor to decide whether or not to admit me. After being monitored for a little bit (at first they placed the monitor too high and it wasn’t picking up my contractions very well, but it did after it was moved), I was checked and I was 3+ centimeters, so they decided they could admit me. So then we went upstairs to labor and delivery (or I think technically they call it the women’s care center or something like that). Shortly after that our first doula(s) arrived. We had our doula M and then a doula in training, C. We met with our nurse B, who read over our birth plan, asked me a few questions to clarify things (she even asked me about things that we hadn’t put on there – did we want the Vitamin K shot for example?), and then took out the things that I said we didn’t want (she took out the IV fluids, things like that) and put a sign on our door that said no male caregivers please (though she did warn me if I pushed the emergency button, everyone would come running, but otherwise, I’d be able to keep it to just females, something that was important to me) and brought us the birthing ball, like I had requested. I was sad because her shift was up almost as soon as we got there so then we had a new nurse, but all the nurses were great.

Photo by Katrice, see link below, 35 weeks

Thus began a long, long night. Most of the time was spent rotating between walking the hallways, where I would press down on Nick’s hand and he would press back up during a contraction, because resisting against the pressure seemed to help, and then sitting on the birthing ball and leaning back into Nick during the contraction. This was helpful to me because I was having a really hard time getting my breathing under control. I would start breathing really rapidly during a contraction because it would hurt but leaning back into him, he would make his breathing really slow and deep and I was able to sync up with his breathing and that helped a lot. When we were walking, we did the same loop and I would give the doulas the tour since I remembered where everything was. I continuously listened to “Beautiful Things” by Gungor on repeat the whole time I was in labor. We briefly spent some time in the tub, but then I decided I didn’t want that and went back to the walking/birthing ball rotation. At one point, my feet ached from all the walking so C and M gave me a foot massage. I was intermittently monitored during this time, but it didn’t bother me too much since they always let me keep doing whatever I was doing. Since Dominic was doing so well, they also pushed their time limits for me and didn’t monitor me quite as often as they would other patients. Oh and we went through like 5 different nurses that night (no kidding – I have no idea why, but yeah, 5 is an accurate count).

Photo by Katrice, see link below, 35 weeks

Sometime after midnight, the doulas switched out and I got doula B. For a while there were 5 of us, which was pretty funny, because the nurses kept commenting that every time I did a lap around, my party got bigger. I was still pretty chipper by this point – the contractions were tough (or I thought they were tough then) but I felt like myself in between contractions. Around 3:30 am, I decided to ask to be checked. They hadn’t checked me at all since that first time and I wanted to know how much progress I had made. When they checked me I was still 3 cm. At this point I felt really disappointed and discouraged. I felt like I had worked so hard only to be in pretty much the same place as when I came in. I cried for at least a half hour after that and B and Nick had to console me. At this point I was pretty much ready to quit. We decided to all try and get some rest. Nick fell asleep right away, but I couldn’t partially because I was still having contractions and partially because I was so disappointed, so I laid on my side for a while and B and I watched cartoons and Law and Order. Eventually I fell asleep for about half an hour, but then I woke up again, having more contractions.

Immediately after he was born, personal photo

Eventually, we decided to wake Nick up. He left for a bit to go get breakfast and I ordered a breakfast sandwich from the hospital’s menu. Around 9 something, they asked me if they could check my cervix again. This is the only time that they asked me if they could check me. I started crying because I was terrified of being checked and being told I had made no progress again (okay, everyone kept telling me that I was making progress, that my body needed to do these things to make labor progress, but it sure felt like no progress to me). The doctor who was on though was very nice and eventually I agreed to be checked. And I was still at 3 cm. At this point, they decided to send me home. This was hard for me – I cried a lot again. In retrospect, this was the best they could have done for what I wanted for labor, because the other alternative would have been to do some kind of intervention to speed labor  up like breaking my water or pitocin and I didn’t want those things. I had a very sweet nurse then, A, and her and Nick and B all managed to calm me down. Though I pretty much cried all the way home from the hospital. It was heartbreaking being at the hospital for so long, thinking that this was it, that we were going to meet our baby, and then to leave the hospital still pregnant and empty handed, not knowing how much longer it would be until I progressed enough to move things along. They told me it could happen later that day or not for another two weeks and that devastated me. I was so ready to be done being pregnant and I had been so ready to meet our son.

20 minutes to half an hour after he was born, personal photo

At home, we played Mario Party – that was what I told Nick I wanted to do. Towards the end of my pregnancy, this video game really just calmed me down and distracted me, so I decided that’s what I wanted to do to try and not feel so awful. After that Nick and I both napped and the contractions spaced way out. I was able to get in about an hour and a half of sleep. I let Nick sleep for a little while longer but then I felt restless and woke him up again. We lay in bed for a while talking and cuddling. This didn’t last very long because my contractions got so much stronger all of a sudden and I had been laying on my back which made them hurt so bad so I had to get up. At this point I noticed I had missed a call from the mail lady so I decided to walk down the block and catch her because I knew it meant packages and I thought they would cheer me up. During the walk I definitely noticed more contractions.

First day he was on the outside, some time in the morning, personal photo

When I got back, I told Nick to make some dinner and I sat down to read a magazine that had come in the mail. Around 4 the contractions really picked up and got stronger and I was all of a sudden in a lot of pain. I was having a hard time handling it so Nick put me in the bathtub which made it better but I was still in a lot of pain. At some point during this, dinner was finished but I was no longer hungry for it. I told Nick our code word for pain medication several times, but as we were at home, I couldn’t do anything about it. He also pushed me to try a little longer, telling me that he knew I really didn’t want it. I would tell him “I know, but it hurts so bad.” At this point I also started having the shakes on and off, which freaked me out because I could not stop shivering, especially my teeth. It wasn’t continuos, but it would come and go for the rest of the evening until I delivered.

Little guy sleeping on daddy, personal photo

Around 6 he called the hospital and he decided we should go back. I was a little nervous but I was in so much pain. He helped me get my clothes back on and I threw up twice. He went to get the car and I could barely handle the contraction I had while he was gone. He went so fast all the way to the hospital and I kept telling him to slow down.

My mom holding little guy, personal photo

M met us at the entrance and they took me back to ob/gyn triage almost immediately. This was the only bad nurse we had during my whole stay. First of all, she wouldn’t let both M and Nick back with me, so I had to choose between them. Second of all, she put the wrong wristband on me and because I was so in pain, I didn’t notice, but when my doula was trying to get back, she told her there was no one back there by that name and then the nurse asked me if I went by any other name and that’s when Nick checked my wristband and she had given me a wristband for some 17 year old girl named Brittany. Plus she was super slow. And she was asking me all these irritating questions, that I was trying to answer, even though I was having really bad contractions and she wouldn’t take Nick’s answers for me, she needed to hear them from me. And she asked some really dumb questions too. Like I have a drug allergy and she asked me if I knew what I had taken the drug for and I said I didn’t know, which she then followed up with “Well do you know if it was prescribed for a bladder infection?” I said I didn’t know. Though later I thought to myself, if I don’t know what I took it for, why would asking me if I took it for something specific change my mind? I don’t know. Anyways, like I said, the only bad nurse in the bunch. Oh, I threw up more when I was here.  They did a cervical check and I was 5-6 cm so they readmitted me. I was able to ask that they fill the tub so that it was ready for me when we got up there. The nurse who had discharged me that morning A, was just finishing up her shift and she was really excited to see me again and then after she left we got nurse B again, so I was excited about that.

Little guy sleeping on Nick’s shoulder at a wedding, August 2nd, almost 3 months, personal photo

M met us up there and as soon as we got to my room, I left it to go to the tub room. I quickly stripped when I was in the tub room, but didn’t even bother to take off my socks, because I knew if I had any chance of getting through this, it was going to be in the tub. The tub is kind of high and when I had used it the day before, I had needed the steps, but this time I just sort of bounded over the side of the tub and got in it.

Little guy playing with daddy, personal photo

This time in the tub I used the jets. They felt really good as counter pressure, but eventually it hurt my tailbone, so I would scoot off it when I wasn’t having a contraction and then move back in front of it when I was. I was in the water up to my shoulders but my face would get really hot, so Nick was spraying cold water with the shower head on my upper back while the rest of me was in the hot water. Every time I had a contraction, I would move in front of the jet and lean forward and grab onto the metal bar on top of the tub across from me and do low moaning ooo’s (at M’s suggestion, which really helped) and I had this sort of pattern and crescendo, decrescendo to them. This lasted a while and in between the contractions I would ask how much longer this was going to be (which to her credit, M would always tell me that she didn’t know, which is a good answer because it’s true, but it didn’t stop me from continually asking) I also kept asking “I’m having a baby this time right?” To which her and Nick would tell me yes, I was having a baby and no, they weren’t going to send my home again. Eventually I couldn’t sit up anymore so I switched to lying on my side.

Little guy in sling for church work day, 3/18/12, 3 months, personal photo

Eventually I asked to be checked again and they tried to check me in the tub, but the way I was positioned and with still being in the tub, they couldn’t tell more than that his head was pretty low. So I labored in the tub for a bit more before I decided that I wanted to get checked again. So I went back to the room and got checked again – more progress, I was 7-8 cm. At this point I decided to stay laying on my side in the bed. I was pretty tired, since I had only slept maybe a combined total of 3 hours since Friday morning and that would be a stretch (at this point it’s Saturday night, in case you haven’t followed the timeline). Laying on my side the contractions were hard, but with the oooing and gripping onto the side railing (and I think Nick was putting counter pressure on my back too, but I don’t quite remember), I was able to make it through them and close my eyes in between. Nurse B here was awesome because Nick and M and B were all telling me what a great job I was doing. At some point, M noticed that I had started bearing down involuntarily during the last three contractions that I had and suggested to me that I might want to think about being checked again. I agreed and they told me I was complete. And I was like, “Does this mean I can start pushing?” And they told me I could and I was so ecstatic – I was so happy. They asked me how I wanted to give birth and I said squatting, so they set up the bed for that. I started out pushing that way and screaming like a banshee each time. Someone (I don’t remember who, maybe M?) suggested that I try to make less noise and focus my energy on pushing. I didn’t think it would help, but I tried it and I was surprised how much it allowed me to focus and work through them to push because vocalizing had helped me so much before. I pushed in a lot of different positions for an hour and 15 minutes (okay, I thought it was just an hour, but Nick just informed me it was an hour and 15 minutes)- Dominic was taking his sweet time coming out and I couldn’t seem to stay pushing in one position for very long. Some of the different ones I pushed in were squatting, squatting with a towel around the bar and pulling on it (referred to as the tug of war I think?), side lying, some weird contortions I don’t even think there are names for and more. You could see his head for a long time though. Nick says for about an hour of the hour and 15 minutes, they could see his head gradually coming out. M, Nurse B, and Nick kept asking me if I wanted to feel it, but I kept telling them I didn’t want to feel it until he was all the way out. I knew that if I felt him and I couldn’t get him out like right after I felt him I was going to be frustrated. As it was, I kept asking how long it was going to be, how many more pushes, but M and B told me they didn’t know, just that it would be soon. At some point, they asked me if it was okay if they put baby shampoo on his head to help it come out better and to help keep me from tearing and I told them that was okay. Eventually, I pushed out his head and his whole body came out right after that, with only one minor skidmark tear. I never felt the ring of fire sensation that so many people describe, I think because his head came out so very, very gradually. The doctor also said that she might tell me to stop pushing or to push gentle to help keep me from tearing, but she never had to do that either, or at least I didn’t notice. Anyways, as soon as he came out, they placed him on my chest and they asked me if I wanted the cord clamped right away or if I wanted to wait. I told them I wanted to wait, so they waited, while me and little guy bonded and the placenta slipped out (that was a weird sensation but it was no big deal after pushing the rest of him out). It was so awesome having him on my chest right away because he was SO alert when he was born. He was able to self-latch twice in that period of time (almost immediately) and we were able to really bond. Eventually, Nick cut the cord, and they took him over to weigh and measure him. 20 and a half inches and 7 lbs 9 oz, May 6th 12:41 AM. He had tolerated labor so well – his heart rate had been strong the whole time and even Nurse B commented on that. After he was weighed, Nick held him for a bit and we were left alone for a while to have our first time as a family. Nick switched the music to shuffle because he was sick of listening to the same song over and over again (now he will probably never want to hear that song again – literally one song the whole time I was at the hospital on Friday and the whole time  I was there on Saturday) and the song he said reminded him of Dominic came on and he rocked Dominic while he sang it to him, which was the cutest thing ever. It made my heart melt. Eventually the nurse came back and they moved us to the other side and Dominic got his first bath and then I just watched him sleep and tried to sleep myself.

After my whole birth experience, I highly, highly, highly recommend that just about anyone giving birth have a doula. My doulas were awesome – I truly believe that they are the reason I was able to stick through such a long labor and still have a natural birth in the end. If you’re in the Milwaukee area and considering a doula, I highly recommend them. You can find their website, Mothering the Mother, here.

Oh and as promised, Katrice took the photos I credited to her. You can find her website here.

I know it’s long, so if you made it all the way to the end, thanks for reading! If you have a moment, could you vote in my poll and help me pick my new name?

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My Feelings on Pregnancy

I’m writing this today because I need to be honest, with myself and with other people. I am going to warn you up front that I am going to be honest and candid and if you know me in real life and don’t want to read it, click away. Go read something else for today. But if you want to know what I was thinking and feeling, then read this, because I feel like this is something not many people talk about, but it’s not always an uncommon experience. Because there are expectations that certain people in certain situations should act a certain way.

And I felt like the expectation on me was that I should have loved pregnancy. I should have been head over heels about being pregnant. This baby my husband and I wanted very much. This was not a surprise to us. I have always wanted to have children and I have always wanted to be a mom.

But here’s a secret. Here’s a confession, if you will.

I hated being pregnant. Don’t get me wrong, I love, love, love my son with everything I have to love him with. He is wonderful, I already know that, and every time I felt him kicking then or see him smile now, I feel so blessed to be his mother.

But that doesn’t change the fact that I hated being pregnant. At first I felt a lot of guilt about this. I wondered, how could I love my baby and hate being pregnant? Was that even possible? I felt like I somehow loved my baby less because I hated pregnancy (which I know isn’t true but it took a lot of time for me to convince myself that it wasn’t true). I felt selfish too, like I was making this all about me. And I felt ashamed, because I know there are a lot of people who struggle with infertility who would give anything – anything – to be able to be pregnant like I was. To have gotten pregnant so easily like I did. And I wish with all my heart that they could get pregnant, but it doesn’t make me like it anymore or change my feelings. Wishing they could and knowing how lucky I am doesn’t change my feelings.

And I felt, a lot, at first, that I didn’t even have the right to hate being pregnant. For the most part, my pregnancy  was easy. I never got really sick with morning sickness and both Dominic and I stayed healthy with no complications. Towards the end, however, I had a lot of back pain, somedays enough to make me feel completely useless (for example, I would try to do dishes and I only get maybe 5 dishes done before I had to stop because I was just in too much pain). And eventually I was in such pelvic pain that it was hard to walk and sometimes even to just shift the way I was sitting hurt. But even before all that, I really hated being pregnant.

And I know, I never expected pregnancy to be a walk in the park. I knew it was a serious responsibility and I knew there were a lot of side effects, but still, I expected that I would love it or at least like it. Not that I would hate it.

I hated it, for one, because pregnancy made me feel so out of control. I never expected to feel so out of control of all the changes that were happening in my body. I never expected to feel so out of control of my emotions. It’s frustrating to me to be able to get a full night’s sleep the night before and yet still fall asleep for 2 or 3 hours when I sat down in the afternoon. It’s frustrating to me to be in pain and to know that the only thing that is really going to relieve it is to give birth – I mean, I had ways to temporarily fix it, but no way to fix it for good. It made me feel really helpless.

Another reason I hated it is because I felt so emotionally unstable. I could cry at the drop of a hat (well, I didn’t drop any hats, but I bet if I did drop a hat it would have made me cry). I cried almost every single day for almost my whole pregnancy. And I didn’t want to be crying – I really didn’t – but I just couldn’t help it. Things I cried about included knocking over a full bowl of cereal so that it spilled all over the floor, accidentally dropping a plate in the sink where it broke, ruining dinner, taking my vitamins, getting a parking ticket. And that’s only like the tip of the iceberg. At one point, I had a complete breakdown in church where I just could not stop crying and I’m not even sure why I was crying anymore. It made me feel like a crazy person. And this was not just tearing up sometimes, this was full on crying. One day I could not stop crying for hours (3+) and I couldn’t go to class because I could just not stop crying. There were other times where I cried so hard that I could not breathe and would start hyperventilating and Nick had to work really hard with me to get me to calm down because like I said, I could not breathe.

A third reason that I hated it is because there were many of my friends and a little family, who I know were well meaning, and who I know were well intentioned, who acted like pregnancy was the only thing that was going on in my life. And I know they were excited for me and like I said, I know they meant well, but I was still a person besides from everything that was happening in my uterus. I still wanted to talk about all the things that I liked to talk about before. And not everything was somehow subtly connected to the baby, though sometimes I would ask questions on Facebook and people would jump to the conclusion that it had something to do with the baby when it didn’t. This just made it harder on me because there were days I just didn’t want to talk about being pregnant because of my feelings about pregnancy. There are days I just wanted to talk about, well the things I liked talking about before – what’s going on in the world, what good books I’ve read lately, things like that. Those things made me feel like I was still a person who had value outside of being pregnant. If somebody made me feel like my whole world revolved around being pregnant, then it was especially hard for me when I had those feelings. I felt pressure to appear like I loved it, even when I didn’t. Please don’t feel offended if I never said anything to you when I was pregnant. I was so ashamed for a long time about feeling this way that I didn’t really open up to many people.

Somedays I didn’t know if I could make it through the end. But I knew I would because I was committed to my son and I needed to make it through for him.

What I recognize now that I couldn’t recognize before is that I was probably suffering from prenatal depression (also known as perinatal depression). It’s kind of similar to postpartum depression, except that it happens when you’re pregnant as opposed to after you give birth. While I was pregnant, I had some good friends suggest this possibility and I kind of ignored it. It wasn’t that bad, I told myself. This is totally normal, I also told myself. But after giving birth, I can see through the fog I was in then and what I was experiencing was not normal. There were days when how I felt emotionally really effected my ability to function, in by that I mean I could hardly function at all. I wish I had gotten help while I was pregnant, but I was so afraid to talk about it. So please, if you think you are dealing with this, get help. E-mail me, if nothing else, because I will listen.

And I feel lucky because I have a husband who lovingly supported me through all those feelings, who was amazingly compassionate, who was amazingly loving, who was amazingly supportive. I could not have made it through this without the support of him and the support of the friends who I was able to confide in.

And despite all of the mixed feelings I have about posting this: the fear that people will judge me, the fear that people will criticize me or call me a bad mother, the fear that people won’t understand, I still feel the need to post this. One, to be able to be honest. And two, so that maybe if somebody else finds this post and they are going through the same thing I am going through, they won’t feel so alone and so isolated. They won’t feel like they are a bad mother like I did for so many weeks until I finally confided in somebody and they told me that it didn’t make me a bad mother at all. Especially after I confided this in some mommy friends of mine, women who I look up to, who I consider to be great mothers, who told me they also didn’t like being pregnant. And learning this from them didn’t make me think they were any less great mothers or make me think they loved their children any less. I was so thankful to hear I was not alone and this was some defect whereby all other mothers who were like me just loved being pregnant.

So there you have it – I have been open and honest with you about how I feel. I’m not going to turn off the comments, but please be nice if you are going to post a comment. It was really hard for me put this out there – I am still afraid even after writing all of this. I’ve already berated and beat myself up enough for this, I don’t need someone else doing it too.

And as an editor’s note, I wrote this while I was still pregnant so I have tried now to make all the tenses agree, but if I messed up, I’m sorry. I didn’t have the courage to post it then, but I do now. I almost didn’t post it, but I did for two reasons. One, because writing and posting this is part of my healing process. And two, because this isn’t being talked about very much and so I hope that I can help somebody else.

Melissa

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My Goals

I think sometimes it can be helpful to have goals. They can help focus you and give you a direction to go in. So I thought today I would blog about my goals, in part so you guys can help keep me accountable. But just in part, as well, because I think goals show what is important to you. So I hope it gives you an insight into my mind.

Get something published in the next five years. Last fall I had my first taste of what it felt like to be a published author.  And let me say that I loved it – I thought it was wonderful and it gave me such a sense of accomplishment because being published is one of the end goals for a writer. I would love to be published again. I know it will take work, but hopefully I will be able to cross this off my list.

Buy my own domain and be self hosted within the next five years. I really want to take this blog places and get serious about it and part of that is buying my own domain and being self hosted. I know it’s not expensive, but part of me is not ready to take that leap for a couple of reasons. First of all, I need to prove to myself that I’m going to be serious about it – I don’t want to pay for something I’m not going to use. Second of all, I really need to decide on a new name for my blog. Suggestions? I’m really open to them, so help me figure out a new name!

Attend at least one blog conference within the next five years. Of course, my first preference is BlogHer. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it. And I just learned it is in Chicago next year, so maybe this one is more attainable than I think? What’s holding me back is finances – I have a hard time justifying spending so much on doing something like that. Well, I have a hard time justifying spending money on myself for any reason. Plus, I do not know what I would do with little guy being gone for so long. Either I would have to bring him to Chicago with me or leave him with Nick who works or possibly with his grandparents? Who knows – at any rate, it’s just a dream for right now, because I don’t feel like realistically it’s in reach because of finances.

Change someone’s life. Okay, granted, this one is the most ambiguous, but I think it’s something I want to do. I want to make a real difference in someone’s life. So many people have changed my life – I want to be able to give something back. And I want to do it for the better.

Continue to be open about my experience with marriage and motherhood. It is my personal opinion that we don’t talk enough about marriage and motherhood. Oh sure, we talk about it but what I mean is we don’t talk honestly enough about what it’s really like in the nitty gritty. We don’t often get past the surface level when we talk about it. Well I want to change that – I want to talk more openly and honestly about it to create a culture where people are unafraid to share their real struggles, their real questions, and their real joy.

Improve my cooking and find a way to cook for more people. I get such satisfaction out of cooking something well. It makes me feel so accomplished. Plus, it’s tasty. Also, I love to cook for people because I feel like it’s a way I can take care of people. Well fed people are happy people. I just feel such joy in serving other people in this way.

Take more pictures. I feel like unless I’m in an extraordinary situation, I tend not to take pictures. Yes of course, I want to have pictures of the special times, but I realized I also want to have pictures of the ordinary times. I want to remember the every day little smiles my son gives me and the little things he does. I want to remember the special but ordinary times with Nick. I don’t have a lot of pictures of little guy when he’s super little and I am a little sad about this. It just wasn’t a priority at the time, but it is a priority now. It helps that I have a new phone that takes pictures much easier, otherwise this might not happen, because honestly I’m a minimal girl. It was a hassle for me to carry around my camera everywhere, so most of the time it just didn’t come with me. But my phone comes everywhere with me, which means much more pictures (and videos) are getting taken. And it’s great.

So there you have it, those are my goals? What do you think? Do you have any advice or help to offer on these? What are your goals?

I just have two other things to add. Yesterday in WI, there was a shooting at a Sikh temple. My heart is deeply saddened by it, especially since it happened in my home state. I’ve been watching the news all morning and it’s just so sad. Even though I disagree with other people’s religions, I still can’t help but hold to the thinking that places of worship should be special places, where people are allowed to feel safe. The shooter violated that when he opened fire in the temple yesterday. And it is so heartbreaking. But it is encouraging to me to see the outpouring of support towards this group by the community. Because people could choose to say they don’t look like me and so I don’t care that this happened to them. But it hasn’t been like that at all. I will continue to pray that they can experience healing.

Second of all, my little guy is three months old today! I can’t believe it’s been three months already because it doesn’t seem like it’s been that long. I love him and he is such a joy. It’s true, sometimes I get frustrated, especially about being spit up on. That I don’t like very much and sometimes I am like, “How can you possibly have anything more left to spit up in your stomach?” But overall, he is just wonderful. He rolled over 4 times this weekend (and hasn’t done it since haha). Anyways, happy 3 months to you little guy. I’ll leave you with a picture of him sleeping on daddy’s shoulder at a wedding we went to last week.

Sleeping Little Guy

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On Becoming a Mother

Hi guys,

First off, I know it’s been forever since I’ve written and for that I’m sorry. I always try really hard to keep up, but I’m not always able to, for one reason or another. I will get back to my series, I just need to blog about this big life changing thing that happened.

Aka having a baby.

As I write this post, he’s sleeping in the bassinet next to me. It’s hard to resist looking at him every three seconds. He’s not even a week old yet. This is something I’ve wanted to do my whole life and now that I’m here, it feels so unreal to me in a sense.

I wanted to write about this for my blog because many women are mothers, have the potential to be mothers, and issues surrounding motherhood are women’s issues (and they’ve been in the news in big ways recently – the Time magazine cover showing a mother breastfeeding her three year old, the whole spat between Ann Romney and Hilary Rosen, things like that) because other women are capable of being mothers.

And even though I had wanted to be a mom my whole life, that didn’t mean it wasn’t hard. Because truth be told, pregnancy was really rough on me. It took a toll on me emotionally and physically and I just did not cope well with it. I loved my son and was looking forward to meeting him so much, but I hated being pregnant. It was a rough thing to go through and any woman who goes through it deserves a lot of respect.

I guess at the end of it, the real reason I am writing this post is because I think this whole journey of becoming a mother, from the moment I got that positive pregnancy test, until now is changing me. Before it was easy to talk about some of these issues because it was all in theory and when you put things in theory, you can say anything. But now, now all of this is so much more real to me, because I’m living it, and some of these questions that I had before me in theory are now ones that I have to answer honestly and in reality. I can no longer be distanced and removed from it because it is a part of my life. And I think these changes are for the better – because these are changes that I’m experiencing for myself and I can say, yes I did that or yes I would do that or no, that’s not what it’s like at all. I am sure you will see how this plays out in my posts in the future.

And at the end of the day, in perhaps the best way, being a mother is filling this place in my heart that I didn’t even know existed. Well yes, I knew there was room in my heart for children, but it’s almost like I didn’t know how much little guy was missing from my life until he got here. Not that I’m saying that women without children are unfilled – no, nothing like that – but for me, there is a sense of contentment in being able to hold him and care for him and love him and perhaps of all the things I am, this might be the one I love the best.

Anyways, I don’t know if you got my point out of all of that rambling, but I wanted to write about it. I am sure at some point I will write about my labor experience, for interested parties, but that’s not something I am doing at this point. I will also try and blog more regularly again, though no promises. Little guy and my family will always come first.

Melissa

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On Women Becoming Priests and Pastors

I was watching this old 60 minutes interview with the Archibishop of New York and he said an interesting thing about women priests that made me think, since I belong to a conservative Lutheran synod that does also not allow women to be  pastors. This is what he had to say.

“Jesus gave women positions of responsibility. The only ones at the foot of the cross except for St. John? Women. The people that discovered his resurrection? Women. The people that were with him on his journeys? Women. People say, ‘This guy was kind of a pioneer in women’s rights.’ So, if he were going to intend them for the priesthood, he woulda done it. And he didn’t.” – Archbishop Dolan

And I think a lot of that resonated with me. Full disclosure, when I was a high school sophomore and I was being young and rebellious and I thought cool. I really wanted to be a pastor. I thought it was unfair and sexist that God didn’t want women to be pastors.

After a lot of talks with a lot of people much smarter than myself, I realized that it wasn’t the case at all. God simply gives women and men different roles in the church. Some people think that because pastors are in a leadership role that it is a better, more important role. I would disagree with that. Look at all the important things that [i]only[/i] women can do. I mean, Mary was the mother of Jesus and only a woman could ever be a mother. Women are given the important role of bearing all children. We’re given unique roles by our personalities. And honestly, I don’t want to change that. I like being different. Not to mention, we can teach our kids about Jesus, which is just as important as a pastor teaching his congregation (not that men can’t also teach their kids, but sometimes I think moms spend more time with their kids – I’m not saying this is true in all cases, just a lot of the time).

Anyways, that’s how I see it. Let me know your thoughts!

Oh and if you want to watch the full interview (or parts of it I think because it’s overtime?) you can find it here.

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The Obsession with Thinness

I wanted to link to this post, because I think it points to something that is so true. We value thinness, even though thinness doesn’t mean healthiness. Even though thinness can be just as much of a problem as weighing too much can.

While I am just genetically thin and I don’t face a serious life-threatening illness, like the writer of this piece did, I can not tell you how much of this resonated with me. It was very uncomfortable for me to be praised on my thinness, or worse yet, to be accused of having an eating disorder at a time when I was trying so hard to gain weight. I looked in the mirror and hated myself, despite the fact that everyone around me thought I had the ideal body. I just wanted to weigh more.

Being thin isn’t always ideal. And even now, as (while I have not weighed myself) I am pretty sure I have put on weight since getting married, I struggle with the same thing as she did. I am reluctant and almost afraid to put on weight now, that for the first time, I might put on enough weight that people no longer compliment me on being skinny. And as much as I hated that, at the same time, it was mine.

Read one woman’s story of how thinness nearly killed her. As with most links, I do not endorse all the content on the blog, but I thought her story was an important one to be shared.

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Schools Should Be Sexual Harassment Free

I stumbled upon this report a little while ago and I was kind of shocked and at the same time I was like, I think maybe I already knew this. But according to the End Violence Against Women Coalition, a third of girls face sexual harassment by their peers in school.

And a third, to me, is way too many. And I tend to feel that perhaps this is on the lower end of things, because the only way these things are usually measured through self-reporting. That and some people may not realize that what happened to them is sexual harassment.

But I think it’s a serious problem. It makes school a very uncomfortable place when you have to worry about that. If you’re uncomfortable and worried about it, you’re going to have a harder time focusing in class, which will probably lead to a harder time in school in general.

And I, unfortunately, have to say that I’ve experienced this. I was dancing one time at a school dance – not even provocatively – and these guys came up to me and tried to stuff dollar bills in my dress. I know some people might be flattered by that, but for me it made me really uncomfortable and made me rethink, a lot of times, whether or not I really wanted to go to the dances anymore.

So I think that definitely a push for ending sexual harassment in schools is really necessary to make a friendly and safe learning environment for everyone.

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Are Young Women Overworked?

So I stumbled upon this article, I’m not sure when, but it’s been awhile. And it’s had me thinking for a long while to. If I thought it was true. Whether or not I agreed with it. If I would splash waves by suggesting it was true.

Because the article 16 Hours a Week suggests that women are told to be and do everything and that they are pushed harder than their male counterparts and are largely overworked.

Do I agree? I think often times yes. I can not say or speak for every woman. I can only say and speak for myself.

But when I was reading phrases like,  “Young women today are increasingly likely to be over-worked, anxious, and beset by fears of failure” and “Of course, some of it is rooted in the contemporary cultural ideal that, as Courtney Martin says, tells girls that they ‘can be anything’ but implies that in order to do so, that they must somehow ‘do everything.'” they really struck a cord with me.

Because that was me. That was the life I used to (and sometimes still do) live. At one point in my sophomore year of college, I was working 3 jobs (4 if you counted being an exec board member for student government), involved in a host of extracurricular activities, and taking the maximum credits that I could.

And I was miserable. I was downright miserable. The stress and anxiety was way more than I could handle. I was crying a lot. But at the same time, I wasn’t showing this to most people. I felt like I couldn’t show this to most people. Because this was what I was supposed to do. I was supposed to work all those jobs to ease the burden of paying for a college education on the my parents. I was supposed to be involved in the extracurricular because that’s kind of how I had a social life and because (at one time) I actually enjoyed all of them. It was my choice to take all the credits, but I knew if I could that I would graduate early and that would have me better off in the long run.

But in the short term? It was killing me. I was trying to do everything and all it got me was burnout city. I was trying to achieve a perfect ideal that Christ has already told me I could never reach. And instead of turning to him to get myself through, I became my own Savior – because I could – and would – do it all.

Somehow, I managed to get out (that probably had a lot to do with my now husband who spent many hours talking to me when I would succumb to anxiety and when I was crying and also of course with our amazing Lord). Okay, I will admit, I am still not perfect, and I still sometimes find myself overworked and trying to do it all. But it has gotten a lot better since I realized that I don’t have to do it all. I can lean on other people to provide sometimes. It doesn’t make me any less good at what I do. It doesn’t make me any less human. It doesn’t make me perfect – but I was never meant to be perfect anyway. And I think, in some ways, I am a stronger person for realizing I don’t have to do it all. There is a strength in humility that is often overlooked.

So are young women overworked? I think that sometimes they are. But it doesn’t have to be that way. I think women need to break out of the lie that they are being feed by other people who I know mean well. Because you don’t have to do it all. I promise you that. The world will not fall apart if you don’t.

So what do you think? Are young women overworked? Are you overworked?

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