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I Am... Mama and Writer

First Mama.  Then Writer.  Though, of late, the latter has consumed a great deal of time as I work to get things in order to potentially be ...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Rollercoaster

I  used to write poetry a lot.  I love poetry.  I'm not, however, a great poet.  I just enjoy words.  Love words, really.  And no wonder... you may recognize the idea that someone created all with the Word and the Word is God.  So, no wonder I love words!  God used them and is IN them!  :)  And I DEFINITELY Love Him!!  ^_^

My point?  Well, I was just reading somewhere about the catastrophes in Japan.  From there, my brain, whilst still reading about the earthquakes and tsunami, went on a tangent of its own.  And in my mind's eye I saw a rollercoaster.  I wrote a poem some years ago about the "rollercoaster ride of life."  So, my mind was focused on this coaster from my poem and sort of comparing my experience of it then and now.

The ride has not become less.  By that I mean that the ups and downs have not evened out.  The loop-de-loops, the climbs and drops, the speed of the whole thing... it has NOT settled down.  If anything it has accelerated.  Yet, somehow (and I DO know how!) my experience of it is as if the "screaming" drops have become shorter... or less scream-inducing.  The loop-de-loops, while still loopy, don't feel so stomach stirring.  And the speed... well, that is what it is, but it feels really tolerable now (at higher speeds) than it did when I wrote the poem and the speeds were not nearly so high.

For instance, way back when I was most concerned about me.  Selfish singlehood.  The grain of wheat lives unto itself and dies alone.  Now my greatest concerns circle around my man, while my days and attentions are consumed by my four little satellites.  Selfless motherhood.  The grain of wheat dies to self and in death lives as more.

While my mind was traveling it's tangent, I had the exquisite epiphany that Christ is my cushion, my anchor, my semi-truck!  I know this, generally, but this tiny revelation was such a gift this morning.  You see, on this rollercoaster in my mind, I'm never subjected more to the full plunges of the high speed drops because my Savior catches me before I fall far.  He sees the drop-a-coming and places Himself when I need Him to catch me and becomes my cushion.  He fills in the valleys and lets me back on the tracks at the next rise.  And the rises are more pleasant, too.  The climbs to them are still slow and sometimes very difficult, but even during the climbs I'm able to see the benefit of the struggle because HE is with me!

During the loop-de-loops, He is my anchor.  He holds me firmly in my seat and acts as my own personal gravity for me in my own little world so not even an hair on my head need experience the pull of the upside-down-ness of life for one in and of the world!  I'm trying to live in fulfillment of being in the world, but not OF the world.  Definitely not always easy, but TOTALLY worth it during the loop-de-loops!!  ;)

And the speed.  Well, I DID already say that the speed of the ride is what it is.  But my experience of it IS different.  Again, the reason is Christ.  He goes before me and acts as a shield, like a semi-truck in front of a little car traveling down the highway.  He breaks the wind before me and makes my way smooth.  So, while I can and do perceive the speed (wow... that cow looked like a blur!), I don't FEEL it in the same way that I did when I was not trusting in the Lord for and about all things.

This has been a super helpful tanget with relvelation for me cause I'm feeling ever more lonely for my Jessie.  In the last week the only times we've REALLY been able to talk are on the phone.  I try to stay up to see him at night, but I'm so tired from just being... that I fall asleep before he gets home and cannot seem to rouse myself when I know he's there.  And he doesn't wake me.  So, I've been feeling alone.  I'm not.  There are visitors who love us and show us so MUCH... but not Jessie.  I'm lonely for my honey.  I ache to watch him with his son and interact with his girls while holding his boy....  It'll come.  I keep telling myself.  Just like Father had in mind to prosper us after the difficulty of under and un-employment, He has in mind that we will have more time as a family.  We've felt this to be true.  So I just have to be patient and faithful.  Oh, so very hard sometimes.  So, I'm grateful for the imagery of the rollercoaster and seeing how it applies even now.  :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


The following is one of my more recentl Lessons of Life.  I hope you enjoy it!

I know we’re told in diverse places and innumerable ways, including over the pulpit, that we should not compare ourselves to others. Elder Holland does not use the word ‘compare,’ or any of its forms, in the following quote, which I LOVE, but the message to avoid comparing seems implied me, “Who is it that whispers so subtly in our ear that a gift given to another somehow diminishes the blessings we have received? Who makes us feel that if God is smiling on another, then He surely must somehow be frowning on us? You and I both know who does this—it is the father of all lies.. I am convinced the commandment not to covet is meant to keep us from hurting ourselves… Brothers and sisters, I testify that no one of us is less treasured or cherished of God than another. I testify that He loves each of us—insecurities, anxieties, self-image, and all. He doesn’t measure our talents or our looks; He doesn’t measure our professions or our possessions. He cheers on every runner, calling out that the race is against sin, not against each other. I know that if we will be faithful, there is a perfectly tailored robe of righteousness ready and waiting for everyone, ‘robes … made … white in the blood of the Lamb.’ May we encourage each other in our effort to win that prize is my earnest prayer..”

Even though I know the words in this quote are truth, yet I believe that the Spirit has taught me how we can use comparison as a tool to our benefit both today temporally and for our everlasting eternal salvation. Nephi tells us, “and liken them [the scriptures] unto yourselves, that ye may have hope as well as your brethren from whom ye have been broken off; (1Nephi 19: 24).” To ‘liken’ is a way of making comparison, so I like to consider that as a sort of scriptural confirmation of the lesson I’ve received via the Spirit about comparing, even though I acknowledge that Nephi was referring to the scriptures and not necessarily others’ lives.

To illustrate:

My Mom helped Jessie and me we moved to Florida. She wanted to visit the Orlando temple since we were so close and she’d never been. So we made the trip, four hours back and forth. My youngest (second daughter) at the time was just barely more than 3 weeks old. So I couldn’t be away from her for very long at all, much less two hours. Instead my Mom and I simply went into the temple and sat in the waiting area beyond the entrance desk. I was IN the temple within a week of moving to Florida.
By the end of our first month in Florida, a beautiful young woman, Sister Sokoloff, was called to be a Relief Society teacher. She was NEWLY married, hubby was a member, had no children, had a job, and her life looked gloriously unencumbered to me. Her life was unencumbered as I compared my life with hers. My life consisted of: non-member hubby, 2 children (one a very new newborn), boxes to unpack, a new home to figure out, etc. The first time Lynn taught, she made mention of the fact that she made a point of getting to the temple once a month because we were so very close at only two hours one-way.

My heart felt to expand within me as I groped inwardly toward a hope that maybe I could make a monthly temple trip work, too. Almost immediately the deceiver’s team was at work in me and I was convinced of the complexity of my life and the fact that it would be impossible to make monthly temple trips work with my family. I felt let down and sad, but reasoned that I needed to accept the difficulties of my life and move on from there.

It was probably exactly a month from that first lesson that Sister Sokoloff taught again. Once more she mentioned her monthly temple trips. Once more I felt the expansion within and following quickly upon it the “argument” that I couldn’t possibly make it work. But this time the something that had expanded within me was stronger, I think, and suggested – totally non-argumentatively – that I could try to get to the temple THAT month, in which case I would have been two months in a row… and then I could just try to do it month by month and try for a year.
That was more than 4 years ago. It hasn’t been easy to get to the temple every month. That first May I didn’t get to the temple until the 31st. And when we did go, Jess was at work and I was with the girls. We took a picnic, at it on the grounds, used the bathrooms and left. We WENT to the temple, though, and since my goal has always been to impress upon my girls the reality and importance of the temple, above all, just GETTING there was an accomplishment that month because the deceiver was working on us overtime. I’m sure the reason is that May would have been 6 months of Florida temple trips… a rather big accomplishment for me and if he could’ve tripped me up then, I may have given up entirely!

I have attended the temple faithfully, and monthly, since. What’s more, my non-member hubby has accompanied me once a month to make it possible for our children to attend the temple once each month, too. Since we moved a little closer to the temple in May 2010, I felt prompted that we should increase our attendance.

If you have no experience of being the member in a part-member family, I cannot describe to you how difficult it is sometimes for me to suggest greater effort for MY faith on my husband’s part. I finally did. I asked Jessie if we could change the temple goal to going two times a month, once a quarter, and continue once monthly the rest of the year. He said “sure,” but in a way that didn’t sound pleased to me. Since my husband doesn’t say much, I’m left to figure him out on my own. I didn’t feel courageous enough to pursue the request beyond that. So, we simply continued our monthly trips in May, June, July, August, and September.

October rolled around and my Mom came to visit. Jess, the girls, and I had already been to the temple for our monthly trip. My Mom expressed a desire to do an endowment session with me and I asked Jess if we could. He was cool with it and really excited to show what adventures he and the girls romp on while I’m in the temple. So, we went to the temple twice in October. It was wonderful! November came and we went to the temple in the first week, after which I felt pressure within to ask my hubby if we could go again for November and try to go twice in December, too, to sort of “pay back” my/our goal for the year… or, in other words, catch up on the trips we’d missed. He said sure. But this time it felt like he was really okay with it… OR, maybe I just wanted it more so I made sure to follow up on the agreed upon request. I don’t know which, really. But we did it. So, since we moved in to our new home during the second quarter of the year, we met the goal I’d asked him if we could set for 2010!!!

Because we’ll have a new baby in March 2011, I asked Jess if we could make two family temple trips in January and then not worry about another ‘double month’ until the end of the second quarter (June). So, we went the first week of this month, January 2011. I went alone the next week (last week). And we went as a family again yesterday. Next week I’m going to go alone again… for a good reason. I asked him to allow me a personal goal of weekly temple trips until the baby is born. In combination with some nutrition changes from previous pregnancies, I’m hoping and expecting that the added store of spiritual strength, acquired through my more than normal temple attendance, will enable me to enjoy my postpartum period with NO postpartum depression. This is a pretty extreme expectation on my part because it would be a first given that I experience severe PPD for at least 7 months after #1, 5 months after baby #2, and 3 months after baby #3. Since the severity of my experiences have decreased by two months each time, down to 3 months of PPD after my last baby’s birth, I feel confident that Father God is working out a miracle in my body. And if you know anything about the science surrounding postpartum depression, you know what a God-thing the decreasing experience of PPD for me is!
The point of all this is NOT bragging rights. That’s what so many people misunderstand about me. My point to all of this is #1 the only reason I attempted to make these sorts of goals in the first place is because I compared myself to someone else and upon the second comparison chose INSPIRATION over desperation! That’s the lesson of the Spirit on Comparing, in my understanding. We are meant to use comparison as a tool of INSPIRATION rather than DESPERATION. And that when we do so, led by the Spirit, we will increase in knowledge, wisdom, understanding, spirituality, and all the other Good Gifts administered by same. There are any number of other experiences that have been inspired by comparing, too! It’s a valuable tool in the Spirit’s tool box of improving us, I believe. My #2 point is: If I can do it… ANYone can do it! I mean, look at me, look at my life, if I, TORI, can make this kind of thing work (any of the good things in my life!), anyone else can, too!!! Unfortunately too many people have refused to understand my meaning. I pray you will, though, and see the things in my life that could provide inspiration for you in your journey to Eternal Salvation. This is my prayer.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


In my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, there are some people that we (the members of the church) pretty much treat as Royalty.  The people we think of and treat as Royalty are the leaders of the church, generally.  Specifically, the Prophet and his councelors (also known as The First Presicency), the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and all Members of the Quorums of the Seventy as well as the other organizations' leaders, like Relief Society Presidency, Young Women's Presidency, and so forth.

This past weekend (today and yesterday) was Stake Conference, which happens every 6 months.  This time, though, regularly attending members were all abluster and excited (including me) because Elder David A. Bednar, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Elder Cornish, an Area Authority Seventy for the North America Southeast Area were scheduled to come to our Conference.  When I birthed Jimmy a week before the first meeting of Conference, I was sure I would not be able to make any of the meetings (I'd already given up the idea of the Saturday night meeting because of Jessie's hours at work) since I would definitely NOT be able to take the girls and a new baby to church for two hours of sitting still by myself (not to mention that I couldn't drive myself!).  Additionally, I've felt impressed that I should really try to limit outside exposure to my new baby.  So, taking him in public like that seemed unlikely to be a good idea.  That thought made the fact that it wasn't really possible easier to handle.

And then my Bishop called to tell me about the meeting for New Converts and Investigators before the main Conference.  An early morning meeting specially for people like Jessie (and their partners/friends).  And I just felt super hopeful that, maybe, just maybe Jessie could get to work a little later that day than normal.  So, I asked him.  And he talked to his boss.  And... he was able to go to work for 2pm... which meant we'd be able to stay for the whole Conference!

As it happened, I couldn't stay for the whole Conference because of the messy after-effects of baby birthing.  But we made the early meeting and an hour of the main meeting, which I thoroughly enjoyed... though I honestly cannot remember much of it.  My post pregnancy brain: a sieve!

So, since I can't remember much of the Conference... why this post?  Well, I wanted to share some thoughts I had over this past week... and, in particular, last night.

Last night I was thinking.  My brain IS starting to get back in gear, so I'm starting to THINK a bit more - it's been sorta painful... the whole THINKING... rather than just starting adoringly at Jimmy and trying to call Tea Tea instead of Kat! ^_^

In the thinking, I was puzzling over why I felt so excited over the visiting leadership.  Why was it that we (the regularly attending members of the Church) feel that we're being visited by someone Royal.  Cause, really, it's a bit more than mere famousness... we treat them with more reverence? than someone of "just" celebrity would merit.  And as I pondered on my silliness over the prospect of being in a small meeting with Elder Bednar and even maybe meeting him!, I perceived some answer to my pondering.  And it goes something like this:

We are ALL of Royal birth.  We are children of Heavenly Father and sons and daughters of Christ as we take His name upon us - He is King of King, Lord of Lords and as His children we are truly Royal.  We are His/Their Heirs - in truth.  There can never be too many Princes and Princesses because our Father will have mansions prepared for everyone who has lived so as to merit, THROUGH CHRIST'S MERITS, such.  And so, we are all potentially Royal. There is something that we all regocnize in the leadership of the church.  We recognize it and honor it - and thus, we honor the individuals who posess what we recognize.  What do we recognize?  Individuals striving to live up to their potential in truth and soberness.  We recognize their Royalty because they are a bit (a bit = leaps and bounds ahead!) closer to it than we are (reference previous parenthesis and then realize that's how much farther ahead they are from ME, but this is not to my consternation, but rather inspiration!).  And we honor them for their efforts and we strive to be like them - as we recognize in them "easier" models of Christ-like behavior.  'Cause when it comes right down to it, Christ is, of course, the perfect model for everything and everyone all the time... but the perfection sometimes makes looking to Him rather difficulty - at least, for me it does.  It's often easier for me to see another person's example as they work on climbing their own ladder, as easier to emulate than the perfection that is Christ.

So, while Elder Bednar and Elder Cornish are truly "just guys"... they are also much more because they are striving to deserve, even though they know they never can or will of themselves deserve, the mansions they hope for in the Kingdom of our God.  And THAT is definitely worthy of some reverence... and some Royal treatment!  ^_^ 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Weakness Made Strong

Since I've turned to the Lord and been working to straighten my life to His plan for me, I've been blessed by so many experiences that strengthen my testimony of simple, yet powerful, Gospel Principles.  In my opinion, the whole birth process, and especially natural birthing (my opinion, of course), is probably one of the most condensed opportunities for women and their men to experience "full-circle" testimony building "mini-lives."  It certainly seems like it to me after this, my fourth, experience of such!

Lest anyone think I'm some sort of superwoman (cause I have long and, at least at the end, really painful baby-birthing experiences), I feel to share some of my weakness which will then illustrate how Father made me strong... at least, I hope you'll understand it as I do.  :)

I felt pretty good about everything and really didn't experience any "pain" resulting from contractions until more than half-way into the process of birthing Jimmy.  That means that the painful time started well after the arrival of my midwife, her assistants, and my friends to care for my girls (later than 10am).  I did need to breathe through the contractions starting around 4am, probably.  But they really were not painful unless I was totally caught off guard.

Even after they got a bit painful, they were manageable if I focused well.  And when I prayed while I focused, the pain melted away.  I was able to continue in that way until around 5pm, I think.  Maybe it was a little earlier or later, but around then I just got TIRED.  And with the fatigue came a lesser ability to focus.  And with that lesser ability to focus came the whispers of doubt.  Doubt about my body being capeable.  Doubt about whether the baby was faring well - even though I heard, for myself, his strong STEADY heartbeat!  Doubt about any and everything that I could doubt, really.  And doubt, you most certainly know, is only able to exist where Faith is lacking.  Faith and doubt, like Faith and Fear, cannot co-exist in the same mind at the same time.  And so I am weak.  You see it, I hope.  How my lack is weakness.

I've said it often enough, but I think, because it sounds like a joke, that people think I'm JUST joking.  I say:  "If I were one of Jesus's Disciples at the time of His ministry, we would not now say 'Doubting Thomas,' we would say, 'Doubting Tori'."  I struggle with doubt almost constantly... though not nearly as constantly today as a few years ago.  How is such a change as THAT possible?  Certainly not because of any strength I inherently possess, else I would've resolved my doubter's tendancy long before turning to Christ!  I know the only way to true and lasting Change is in and through Christ, Jesus.  Only His merits can save - redeem - change us!

So, while laboring...  I started to ask if I could go to the hospital.  Yes.  I did.  I only ever asked Father 'cause I was afraid my pain combined with the voicing of the question would cause Jess to faulter in his firmness and steadiness in supporting me.  Thankfully our Lord knows the end from the beginning and He told me very firmly and immediately after each request that I should stay home and everything would work out well.  Now... please note here that I asked more than once.  If I was a truly Faithful and strong woman, I would have asked once and trusted.  No, not I.  I asked MANY times.  I don't know how many 'cause I lost count after the third time in the haze of labor-land.  But even "just" three... seriously!??  I laugh, a bit hysterically and only internally, at my Faithlessness.  What a lame chick I am!  And I am weak.

What resolved the weakness?  Prayer.  Father.  I gave up.  I was defeated by myself.  I was defeated and weak and unable to continue any longer or go any farther.  And I told Father God all of it.  And as I released my effort, He stepped in to make me more.  As a result of His greater presence in me, I did things differently because I felt I must - I was led to do what needed to be done, I believe.  I walked.  I showered.  I sat on the potty.  And then I tried to take over and layed myself down in fatigue.

Eventually, I gave it all up again.  The second time around was when Karen directed me to the funny position.  But even then I didn't give up as completely as I should've until Jessie told me that after the next two contractions I would get up to do the position Karen had described.  He urged me and I obeyed.  I'm so thankful for His strength as my Patriarch and Partner during our labor for Jimmy!  So, I did rise.  I think I probably waited one extra contraction just cause I was being stubborn... but I did rise and stood in the funny position.  And I walked.  And I showered.  And then I told Karen that I had to lay down, she had to check me.  I knew the baby would come soon.  None of that effort was me alone.  Of course, I hadn't been physically alone the whole day, but I'd been relying on my own strength all too often.

Obviously, you know the rest of the story.  :)

I know one of the most important lessons from this "mini-life" of Jimmy's birth experience (and my birth into being a Mother of four) is that I must rely more fully, more completely, and with more trust, on the Lord.  How else can a girl get through this world with all its craziness and tread through the fear others would lay at her feet?  I know I am weak, so I cannot do it without the lifting Grace of God.  I am weak.  And as I recognize my weakness, He lifts me to be more.  To be made strong in and through Christ.

I believe we cannot progress well in this life with any semblence of peace, grace, or goodness unless we are supported from on High.  I believe this so strongly because I know both sides of the effort.  I was a non-believer - aetheist, then agnostic, then Christian, and then, as now, specifically Mormon Christian.  I know I cannot be in Peace and face the world.  I need the Angles (both heavenly and earth-bound) to bear me up lest I dash my toe... and as I recognize this, my need, and accept the help Father always provides in His time; my Peace, Faith, and Hope grow as I feel the Love of the Lord through the ministrations of His Angels.  And, OH!  SO many angels have been ministering to me and my family!!!  What a gift!  What a pleasure and JOY to feel so concretely the Love of our Father in Heaven!!!!

I'm so very grateful that the Lord sees fit to show me my weakness, that I can be fully broken, which enables me to be what I must be so that He can put me back together and make me strong.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Welcoming a Baby - Part 3

I totally don't have a clue about the time, but sometime during the afternoon, my friend Heather had to leave. And then she came back.  I don't have a way to know how long she was gone, but she was gone and then back.  Janet was with the girls while Heather was gone, of course, so I still felt safe and didn't feel any concern about my girls, THANKFULLY!  What a blessing to have such friends!

So, it was probably around 8:30pm, or so, that we discovered that baby hwas in an acyclitical head presentation.  Which means, just in case you're not sure (cause I wasn't when it happened with Kat), that baby's head was coming out cocked to the side, rather than presenting the smallest part of the head.  Such presentation, I was told and have read, can/does lead to long labors with much pausing of labor and, in hospital, is often cause for C-Sections even when baby and Mom are coping well with the contractions.  Thankfully both baby and I were coping well and we were at home with my awesome midwife.  Baby remained in 140 almost constantly (with only a few 150s).  And I was barely more than my norm through the whole pregnancy for bloodpressure and heart rate.  Nice.  WHAT a blessing!

When Karen felt the sutures on baby's head at around 8:30pm, and found them wrong, indicating acyclitic presenation, she directed me to stand in a funny position through 4 contractions and then remain standing and walking for a bit to get baby's head to apply pressure to my cervix.  For the funny position, I had to stand with one leg up on a chair and turn my body as much as I could away from the leg on the chair.  Then, I was to put my other leg on the chair with body turned away from it.  Switch again.  And then once more.  Now, mind you, I'm totally tired and ready to just sleep through every moment in between contractions that I possibly could.  By this point in labor, I haven't been really asleep for about 48 hours (the day before labor started, Friday, I did nap).  Can a girl be tortured more during a natural childbirth?  I rather think not!  The contractions I endured in that funny position were the absolute worst contractions of the whole 14-15 hours since my midwife's arrival.  Seriously hard core, cruddy, and totally painful.  And it just got worse from there cause it's like those 4 contractions took away all my control, resolve, and ability to maintain any composure.  I think I hurt my voice/throat, to boot, during the laboring time that followed the standing-leg position!  *sigh*

It was all purposeful, though.  I became truly broken (spiritually) and felt absolutely unable to continue on any further.  I submitted more fully to the Lord than I had the whole day and, of course, He stepped in and made me stronger than I'd been as a result!  Seriously awesome!!  Our God is an AWESOME God!

Sometime in that last bit of labor my friend, Janet, had to leave.

The funny position (combined with the resolution of at least one of the issues I mentioned before) caused baby's head came into right presentation.  I got to 9cm, almost 10 (but had a lip on one side or the other... can't remember which).  So, I was to begin to push.

I think I've neglected to mention that there were some periods during the last 4 hours of being at 8cm that I went through a pushing phase in hopes of moving the baby's head down to press on my cervix and complete the process of dilation.  Therewere at least 3, but I think 4 pushing phases of around 20 minutes each, at least.  They all did help, I'm sure, but they certainly didn't bring baby out!

So, I pushed again.  This was around 9:40pm, I think..  Even though I'd felt utterly and completely broken, physically: I'd just wanted to lie down and sleep through every non-contraction moment that I could and I'd asked the Lord, in prayer, if I could go to the hospital because I felt broken (as in physically incapeable of finishing the process) and just flat out unable to endure any more... during the last push when Karen told me that the cervix was moving out of the way and we could proceed, I felt more able and powerful in pushing than I had any of the other pushing times.  I was absolutely surprised by that, but really shouldn't have been because, of course, that's when the Lord would step in.  Of course!

Now, I'm a little confused about the timing because my midwife's assistant told me that from the time Karen said I was complete (cervix out of the way) to when baby was completely born was 3 minutes.  Karen has said that the last pushing was 6-7 minutes.  However, given that I wasn't sure I was pushing baby out those first 3-4 minutes, I'm not counting them as part of the push to deliver because, for me, they were the same as the other 3 or 4 pushing phases I'd been through previously!  But I did get the baby out quickly, either way:3-7 minutes.  And what a head of hair I felt as he crowned.  :)

I did feel the ring of fire, but I was so paranoid that the baby would disappear back up inside me that I pushed straight through it!  Seriously crazy hot pain, let me tell you.  And I honestly don't know if anyone other than Jessie was talking me through the pushing, so I convinced myself that I wasn't really that far into the pushing of baby out.  I did hear Jess telling me I was doing a good job.  And I saw the same sweet expression of wonder and excitement (though those descriptors are tremendously inadequate to fully describe what I perceive in my man's expression each time I get our babies into the world).

There was a mad dash and rush to get the girls in the room to watch the crowning and birth.  Especially because, I think I heard, that Tea was sleeping.  Additionally, just as I was preparing to push I was asked if two sweet girls from church (the daughters of Janet and Tina, two of the three ladies I'd invited to attend and help with my daughters).  Asking a woman in that phase of labor to change anything from her "plan" to something else she could refuse... well, you're gunna get a no if you're asking a woman like me.  :(  I wish I'd not said no, but perhaps it's best for those girls NOT to have seen the whole process... they might've been even more worried about baby birthing than the concern they felt when they heard what they did hear!

So, baby came out, set on Mama's tummy.  YEAY!  Mama euphoric.  Daddy crying in joy.


No breath.  Oh NO!

Stimulation.  Nothing.  Mama talking to baby.  No change.  Mama rubbing to get purple to go to pink with help from Karen.  No breath.  Jessie worried.  The breath bag applied twice and baby started to breath.  It's a bit of a blur, but I'm pretty sure that's about how it happened.  And what a joy to hear THAT cry!!

So, with all that rubbing and everything, baby was out for a good few minutes and we didn't know what we'd made.  Karen did.  And when I began, at suggestion from others who wanted to know what we had, to move a leg and look, Karen specified that Daddy should check.  I knew what we had when she said that.  So, I watched Jessie as he looked betwee baby's legs.  He looked and I glanced, just to make sure.  Yep, a boy!  What a joy.  Either way it's joy.  That's the treasure of babies!

John Matthew and we're calling him Jim and/or Jimmy for "short"
10 pounds 4 ounces
15.5 inch head
22.5 inches long

He is beautfiul baby!  Reddish tinted skin, like Daddy.  Beautfiul finger nails, like Daddy.  Beautifully shaped eyebrows, like Daddy.  FULL head of thick black hair, like all our babies.  And SWEET temperment, like all our babies!  What a joy!

For PART 1

Monday, March 14, 2011

Welcoming a Baby - Part 2

I apologized to her, just in case I wasn't actually in labor.  Still, she came prepared for the real thing.  That made me feel pretty good since, if I was actually in labor and progressing, it would be THE FIRST time I'd been able to go into labor spontaneously.  Each of my other laboring experiences had been induced by natural methods because of the length of time the babies were "overdue."

So, Karen checked me when she arrived at 6am.  I was dilated to a floppy 7 - meaning that I wasn't very far effaced, but my cervix was ready to go with and when pressure from the baby applied to it, it would be ripe and ready.  I think it was another two hours and labor progressed well.  Just because I was curious and wanted to know, Karen checked me.  I was right about at 8cm dilated and still floppy.

Soon after Karen arrived, my friend, Heather, arrived to help with my daughters.  That was probably around 6:30am or so.  My time references are probably off a bit.  Her arrival was none too soon cause I was getting anxious having them in my space during contractions.  My labor actually paused pretty well due to their presence and my feelings of inadequacy about mothering them while laboring.  But that wasn't a long pause, relatively speaking, because Heather arrived very quickly and my body picked right back up.  Thus the two hours to get to an 8, but "only" two hours.

My friend, Janet, arrived soon after to help with the girls.  That was probably around 7am?  I'd planned for three ladies to come and help with my three girls so that the girls would each have a companion during the actual birth.  "Man plans, God laughs," and yes, He did laugh at me a bit.  ;)

Janet took the girls on a trip to a home store (like Lowes, maybe) to buy a piece so that the hose would be able to go from the shower to the birth tub.  That was good and bad (having the girls gone).  But it worked out well in the end.

We all felt pretty sure that the birth was nigh at hand - given my good and (especially relatively) fast progression during this labor.  But it didn't.  Sometime around noon, I think, Janet took the girls out to a park.  They reappeared right when my labor seemed to pick up a bit.  Provident timing, it seemed to all of us (especially me because I'd been thinking about calling to ask her to come back, but didn't cause I was working to trust the Lord's timing of things).  Well, they were definitely back in plenty of time!  ;)  That was probably sometime between 2 and 3pm.

And my labor kept on going.

And going.



I kept trying to figure out what I was doing wrong.  What I needed to do differently.  What was holding everything up.  I called my Mom to apologize to her for something.  I kept trying to figure out if I was mad at Jess for something and needed to overcome that, but knew that I wasn't holding anything back in that regard after some introspection.  I reviewed my other relationships and found the same to be true.  So, REALLY... WHAT was going on!??  I now feel confident in my understanding regarding what the hold-ups really were.  They include 3 specific things.  Two of those problem causers were energetic blocks, which, I believe caused a phsyical reaction in the baby, which caused labor to completely stall.

Want more?  Stay tuned.  :)

For Part 3

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Welcoming A Baby - Part 1

Since last Saturday night, March 5th, I've had lots of contractions.  Annoying small ones, not a big enough deal to bring forth a baby, but big enough to keep a girl awake when she has to get up to pee (frequently) during the night.  Then Wednesday night (the 9th) came around.  The contractions that night were more than annoying.  Stronger.  Some closer together.  AND I wasn't able to get much sleep at all.  They totally DID get my hopes up about having the baby before Jess would have to go to work so that Ria would get her birthday wish of having Daddy home for the whole day of her birthday.  No such luck, obviously.  Thankfully, though, Jessie was home until around 1pm that day.  We had cake with him before he had to leave.  And Ria was quite happy with that, thankfully.  The rest of the day was totally lazy for the girls and me.  I did reading class with Kat and Ria did practice piano, but that's all of our "productivity" for that day!

Thursday night I had more contractions, but I slept MUCH better.

Tonight (Friday the 11th)... I went to do my night routine before actually going to sleep.  As I was settling my mind to allow myself to fall asleep, a really intense contraction 'hit' and I immediately felt super hopeful and excited.  That was around 10:40pm.  The contractions continued pretty well - though about every 10-20 minutes apart, or so, until a few minutes before midnight.  They moved to ever 7 and then ever 5 minutes apart right before midwife and they were intense enough that I called Jess at 12:14am to tell him to come home because I felt the frequency  and consistency of the contractions increase so dramatically in time and intensity.  He told me he would be leaving in a couple minutes.  I responded, "Now.  Come home now."  He asked if labor had started.  I told him I wasn't absolutely sure, but I needed him home, not an hour away.

When Jess got home, he promptly fell asleep.  For anyone that knows Jessie, this will NOT be a surprise at all.  For anyone who knows me, you may be surprised to learn that I wasn't bothered at all.  I was just so very GLAD and thankfuly to have him HERE, rather than a phone call and hour's drive away!  I got up from trying to sleep around 2am.  I spent some time on the computer and had REALLY consistent and nicely intense contractions, until a bit after 4am.  But then they started to go from every 5 minutes to every 9-10 minutes.  That was frustrating and upsetting, given my history of "late" babies and natural inductions for all 3 of my girls.

The contractions did not go away.  I did lie down and was able to doze between contractions from about 4am until 5am when they became intense again and closer together... More importantly, I experienced 2 episodes of uncontrollable shaking.  In a couple of my labor experiences this has been a clear indication that I was approaching or IN transition.  So, I called my midwife to come check me.

Find out what WE found when I write.  :)

For Part 2

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Midwife Visit Wednesday

Yes, I'm still preggie.  :)  I'm only two days overdue.  This is nothing compared to my baby-having history!

I saw my midwife today and found out that I'm a solid 3cm dilated.  Progress.  It IS good to hear.  My cervix is super mushy.  Good.  Basically, she said I just need some good contractions and I'll get ripe and ready right quick.  heehee  ^_^

I lost a pound these last 6 days.  (Totally not trying to, of course.)

Strong baby heart tones in the 140s.  Always good to know and I get to hear this good news each time I see my midwife.  :)

My fundal height (measure of the size of the uterus from pubic bone to top of the same) is 38cm... which is down from 40 last week and down from 44 a few weeks ago.  How FUNNY!  It's all about the baby's position at this point.  Nothing to worry about, folks.

Baby is still floating quite high... just like Tea did, so no news on station.

I woke up tonight at 9pm after sleeping, maybe, 1/2 an  hour.  SUCH a good half-hour's sleep!!!  I woke up and felt totally barfy and aggitated.  Really hyper, actually.  Worked to calm my racing heart, and focus on not moving too much in hopes that the feeling of an impending vomit fest would go away.  It did.  Heart calmed.  But I couldn't fall back to sleep.  So, here I am.  Hoping the baby is getting ready to join us in the world of air and that my body is getting ready to evict the baby in the next few hours.  I really would like to give Ria the only gift she hasn't yet received, which she desires: her Daddy home for her whole birthday DAY.  The only way that's happening is if we have the baby between now and when he has to leave for work around 1pm tomorrow.  *sigh*  It's in the Lord's hands.  HE knows I would give my girl what she wants if it were entirely up to me.  Just waiting on the Lord and working on completely submitting my Will to His.  Such a difficult things at times like these!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sourdough Stuff From My Own Starter and My Nasty-Basty PRIDE

It's amazing.  I made some whole wheat sourdough bread yesterday.  And it is amazing.  I did start it a bit later than I should've.  I honestly didn't know how long it would take to complete the three rises and baking.  Well, I was up until about 2am finishing the baking of it.  "/ (sheepish smile)  I was also up at that time with contractions and listening to Jess once he came home from work - so it worked out just fine, really.  However, I started my next batch  (made with whole wheat sourdough starter and white flour - cause I'm experimenting) this morning.  So, if it takes a while, it'll be a while toDAY.  :)  Did I mention that the bread I turned out last night is amazing?  It. Is. Amazing!  ^_^

In the spirit of full disclosure, my first bites of said bread were a bit hard to swallow.  You see, this bread is SUCH a different flavor for me - very different from the sourdough from the grocery store.  But then morning, when I had it toasted with a fried egg on top (like I've been wanting for breakfast for the past few weeks), I thought I'd gone to taste-bud heaven!  Seriously!  It was phenomenal!!!!  Totally and completely good stuff.  And then I had my once piece of toast with butter and peach jam... also divine.  It was the plain buttered bread I had a hard time with.  And no wonder... my Mom raised me and my sibs on homemade wheat bread.  My homemade sourdough wheat bread is NOT my Mama's bread.  It looks like the same thing.  It's made similarly.  But it is something totally different, yet equally wonderful, as far as taste and enjoyment go... but it's way MORE wonderful as far as health benefits!

Also yesterday I made some carrot and pineapple muffins/cupcakes with some more of my whole wheat sourdough starter.  Talk about delish!  Yes, they are!  The girls each got to eat one for breakfast and were maddly in love - even Ria... who, in case I've neglected to mention it - has become the Gollihugh Family's food critic!  Frustrating: often, but when something is good she's ALL about it and it IS a pleasure when I hear words of praise about good concoctions from my hardest concoction critic!  ^_^  The recipe developer, Mike, also my sourdough starter and all else sourdough mentor (I've never met him, he's my mentor via his website), suggests that one should NOT leave off the frosting for these cupcakes - a butter, sugar, and cream cheese concoction.  While I'm sure the muffins/cupcakes would be wonderful with the frosting, they are delightful with nothing on top at all!  Yum!  And Ria says so, too.  ^_^

Oh, I think I'm in love with sourdough!

So... how all this energy for kitchen creating yesterday - carrying over into today?  Well... a dear friend and Sister from my Ward (church group) came over unannounced and cleaned my kitchen... and played with/worked with (for homeschool) my children... and listened to me talk a little (talk, as in adult speak).  It was very nice... and she was wonderful.  As a result, perhaps in large part inspired by a clean kitchen to make messy (cause it's HARD for me to keep my kitchen clean) I finally set out to make the bread and muffins I'd collected recipes for (from Mike) and really been waiting (I told myself) for my sourdough starter to reach an age that the recipes would work with (over 1 week from start date and then some for acidity).  Well, that day came and went and I didn't attempt either recipe, so I must admit it was the messy kitchen that dissuaded me.  I'm sure of it.

You will, hopefully, be pleased to learn that I did clean up after my baking expedition of last night.  So, I awakened to an orderly and neat kitchen with no dishes in the sink.  Which of course, is a kitchen ripe for messying again!  ^_^

I encountered a bit of a big problem yesterday with all of the morning's events.  My pride.  It was all kinds of in my way through the morning while my friend was here, so I was unable to experience the full pleasure of having her in my home to help where I did need help... obviously...  My pride.  It is an issue.  I've known for a long time about this one, in particular.  But I really thought I'd worked it pretty much out of my psychic/mental/emotional self.  HA!  Well, Christmas proved me wrong.  And yesterday proved me wrong.

"Why do I need help!?  What's wrong with me?  I should be able to handle my stuff like all the other women around me do!  Why can't I manage my own home so that my kitchen remains clutter free and clean dishes put away in cupboards?  Why can't I be the woman I need to be?"  All of these, and more, were thoughts that roared in my heart and mind while my dear friend served me with Christ-like Love.  I did not feel any judgement from her.  I felt only love and a desire to help.  A pure desire to ease my burden and lighten my load.  And WHAT a gift to feel emenating from her SUCH Love!  The judgement was all mine.  ...  Or not.  But it was certainly easy for me to accept the whispers of the deceiver's angels as my own thoughts.  And I'm weak.  Yes, I know.  But these sorts of thoughts were just par for my every day course not too long ago!  It's only been in and through Christ (and relatively recently, at that) - and coming to understand a LITTLE bit how He sees me and Loves me that I've been able to have a renewed mind and let go and push away those horrible whispers that the deceiver would have me believe fully and accept as my own thoughts and feelings.

My Father and His Son sent me an angel yesterday.  And she worked in my home and left it lighter and brighter and fresher and cleaner!  And, when I was able to push myself out of my own way... I was lighter and brighter and fresher and full of energy as a result of her spreading her love across my house... especially the kitchen... and through my family and into my heart and blessing me and my husband!  ^_^  Oh, we are SO very blessed!!!  Jessie prayed a few times yesterday, in thanksgiving of the sweet service with which my friend blessed our lives.

So, my pride.  It's an issue.  It's been an issue for me basically all my life.  But it's also a choice.  And even though I didn't choose the right very FIRST step... I did make a course correction.  As a result of the course correction and changing from wrong thinking (listening?) to right thinking (hearing?), I am able to enjoy the fruit of the gift of service my friend bestowed upon me and mine: LOVE!  I've been learning, basically since I've come back to the straight and narrow path, how MUCH a gift and blessing service is.  Line upon line, of course.  I learned a few years ago that when someone does a service for someone else, the bonding hormone oxytocin is released in both the server and the served (the Love hormone and bonding hormone of breastfeeding is not just about feeding the literal physical baby!!)!  Additionally, when someone else sees or hears about said service, the same hormone is released in THEM!  And so it goes.  And God is GREAT!  He loves us SO much and wants us to feel Love as He Loves... and He is always in our service - no matter whether we recognize it or not.

I've had a few experiences in which I was served by obviously loving ladies who only wanted to help me and make my way easier.  I didn't (haven't yet) taken it well.  My pride always gets in the way.  But eventually I get out of my own way (this time much faster than in the past - YEAY... maybe I'm learning!!! ^_^) and am able to feel the result of service... and EVERY time I get out of my own way, I feel SUCH love for those who have helped me... and when, on the rare occasion, I'm able to do someone else some good... I get to experience the truth that Love grows for the person I'm able to serve when I give a good gift... I feel SUCH love for those I serve with a giving heart... and I yearn to give only good gifts to my Savior!  So I strive to always give only good gifts... watching my heart and how I'm feeling as I try to serve others.

My greatest difficulty in the area of giving the best gifts is with my own family.  :(  It's a sad thing, I know.  I'm pretty much always in their service... but my heart is NOT always right about it.  I resent the mundane work, all too often.  (Like dishes!)  I've pretty much overcome my distaste for laundry... and I even find pleasure in that mundane and repetative task.  I usually wash a load every day even if it's small just so I have that much less to do later....  It's a pleasure to have it caught up - or as nearly so as one can do with such ongoing tasks as that one is.  As a result of my changed heart about laundry, I know there is hope for me to come to Peace concerning dishes... and then move to pleasure in accomplishing and maintaining a straight, orderly, and clean kitchen.  And so, no matter how "good" I get, I ALWAYS have something more to work on!!!  YEAY!!  That means Father can't possibly take me terribly soon... cause I'm not nearly fit for His Kingdom!  ;)  What a sweet comfort is my trial and test.  ^_^

Pregnancy News
Still preggie!  One day "overdue," based on the calculations the way "man" does 'em.  But, I'm totally and compeltely GOOD with giving this baby the time it needs to come forth (for the first time ever ^_^).  You see, it's my tither's right, don'tcha know!!??  I pay my tithes, so I my "vine" will not drop it's "fruit" before it's time in the "field," says so in Malachi!  And what a gift of Peace to my heart and mind is this Spiritual understanding of my temporal experience!  ^_^  As I have reflected on my girls and how they compare to other babies (especially those born before 40 weeks gestation), my girls have ALWAYS been SO strong.  They lift their heads and hold 'em in a way most newborns I've observed just cannot.  They scoot in bed to nurse in the night when only hours and days old (seriously!).  No one every really believes me about that, but it's the honest to goodness truth.  And when a little older (a few weeks) Kat, especially, would scoot to me to nurse and then scoot to Jessie to cuddle.  This is NOT a toddler.  This is a newborn of only weeks outside the uterine environment!  So, I'll take whatever the Lord wants to give as far as this baby's birth date.

I did have loads of contractions Saturday night.  So many, in fact, that I didn't sleep much AT ALL.  I didn't go to church Sunday, as a result.  Rest assured I made that call with difficulty and under guidance from above.  I knew it would be so very hard for Ria, especially, to NOT get to go to church.  So, I knew I had to be able to tell her truly that Father wanted us to stay home.  And He did.  So we did.

Sunday night I had lots more contractions, but not so strong as to keep me awake every time I went to the bathroom (as had been the case Saturday night).  And last night I had a few, but totally fell alseep and slept really hard all through the hours of dark that I was able to sleep (only 1 bathroom waking!).  So, it seems for sure that my body is gearing up to the big event.

Wednesday I have a midwife appointment.  Definitely update'cha if there's anything to share.  :)

Till then,

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Cock's Crow

Did you know that Cock's Crow is an actual time during the night?  I've definitely learned it IS.  Jess thought we just had crazy roosters until he learned, through a radio program, that cock's crow is from about 4:30am until sunrise.  So, our roosters are mostly normal because they generally do start constant crowing around 4:30am.  Of course, there are the extra frustrating mornings when they start around 2:30am.  And the NICE mornings that they don't crow for a first go until around 6am.  But they are definitely normal.  (Oh, and roosters crow all day long... not just during "cock's crow"!!!)

This winter it hasn't been so bad.  The window have been closed, so that bit of glass muffled the crowing a bit.  And with three roos, we need all the muffling we can get.

Well, it's spring.  And with hotter-than-I-like days, still not being able to use AC, the house has been getting rather warm.  Uncomfortably warm for this heavy preggie girl!  But the nights are still cool.  Cool enough to cool the house down NICELY if we can leave a couple key windows/doors open.  One key area to keep open (and to help me sleep better!) is the window right above my head.

I recently evicted two of the roosters from the chicken tractor.  The darn boy birds don't take NO for an answer and my poor hens still have featherless patches on their backs cause there were too many roosters in the tractor with them!  Ria was particularly worried about the boys birds because they are no longer protected.  I had to turn her attention to concern for our egg layers.  The boys are basically unproductive food eaters!  Since the explanation that the boys just wanted too much sex and didn't do anything that was really helpful and, in fact, were hurting our productive hens, she's not as actively worried about them.

A negative effect of the release of the roos is that one of them (of course the one I like least) decided to roost on the power box right above my bedroom window!!!  The one I'm leaving open out of necessity now!  ARGGHHHH!!!  Talk about a frustrating morning or three as I came to realize where he'd chosen to sleep.  So, now I have to remember to get outside after dark to move him.  He doesn't do well with me just trying to chase him away from his favorite spot, so I've learned that I have to grab him by the legs, hang him upside down (so he doesn't bite me, which he HAS done) and drop him in a box, making sure to cover the top with something heavy enough that he cannot dump himself out of it.  *sigh*

Just for the record, I was actually going to suffer through the early rooster rowdiness right at my head because I've been unsuccessful in finding homes for the boy birds I don't want/need and I'm unabl to butcher them myself.  It's my fault, not theirs.  But then Jess started this new job (just this past Monday!).  He's able to get, tops, 8 hours sleep when he gets home.  Given his detox efforts (to quit smoking), he really does need more sleep than that....  He's worked from 9am to 11pm Monday through Thursday and I think yesterday until the end of bike week the restaurant will remain open until midnight....  In addition,  he has about an hour's drive each way.  The 8 hours' sleep would only be possible IF he were able to take a super quick shower immediately upon returning home.  And IF he didn't speak to me about his day before going to sleep.  And IF we skipped couple's prayer and Bible reading.  And IF he was able to fall asleep right away.  (Ok, so that last one probably would NOT be a problem for Jess, ever, but still.)  As it is he's not able to take terribly long showers (longer would relax him more and help him calm down/unwind), we don't get to talk very long (and if I talk it's very little so that he has more time to process through his day as I listen), our couple's prayers are rather short, we're basically reading only a verse or a couple in the Bible, and Jess IS falling asleep super fast when he fully lays his head down on his pillow.

So, when, one morning this week, Jess woke around 4am because of the crowing and moved to the couch out of frustration with the rooster rowdiness (they mostly take turns crowing, so instead of one nice crow we get a few hours of almost constant noise), I decided that I would do something to preserve my husband's sleep the next morning.  I forgot to do anything about it that night, though.  So, 5am rolled around and the crowing woke me up, but Jess was still sleeping.  So, I dashed outside and chased the most obnoxious noise maker away from his roost (the one right above our heads).  He was totally going to try to get back there until I chased him away again.  Since then I've been striving to stick him in the box I described earlier.  He doesn't like it.  But the morning is significantly quieter without him at our heads.  Jess hasn't been awakened and unable to fall back asleep again, as yet.  I would know if he was cause I'm awakened and not able to fully sleep again most mornings!

Pregnancy News
On Thursday, my more recent appointment, my blood pressure was better than ever (and mine is usually SUPER good), I'm NOT spilling any protein, I'd only gained 2 pounds in a month (compared to 7 pounds in one week a couple months ago!),  I was about 2cm dilated (which is one more than the last time), and 80% effaced (which is 10% more than the last time).  So, these night waking contractions as well as those at other times are doing something.  YEAY!  :)  The more before labor, the better!

Comparing with past pregnancies
With my three daughters to date my blood pressure has always been good.  I've usually been spiling more and more protein at each visit for the month before the baby is born.  I've never gained any weight before.  In fact, I've lost 7 pounds during the course of EACH pregnancy previously.  I've usually been walking 3cm dilated for about 2-3 weeks before my due date.  AND I've usually been about 50% effaced for most/all of that time.  I don't think I've ever been 80% effaced before entering active labor.  So, this time is definitely different.  They all are, of course, but this one is the more different from the others by a long shot.  Perhaps I'm just becoming more of a regular woman!?  :)  Who knows.  (I know who knows! ^_^)

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