7 Quick Takes Friday-the pregnant edition

1. My SIL did some mendhi art on my belly recently. It was lovely to have a reason to just lie still and relax for a while as she worked and we waited for it to dry. (Except for the bathroom break part, that was tricky.) The stain lasts for a couple of weeks and then gradually wears off.

2. I forgot to tell you all about a party we went to last month for a friend's 50th birthday. We were all supposed to dress French in keeping with the party's theme. I couldn't think of anyway to dress french, other than wear couture and look a great deal more stylish and slim than I am. So I googled French Costumes. You can guess what came up.

Well, this is me as the knocked-up French maid. Because that's what can happen after you get yourself into one of those other "French costumes", dontcha know?

3. I've never retained water before. This time my ankles are gigantic. No I don't have a photo. But the words bulbous and elephantine have been used by people upon viewing them. I have new sympathy for anyone else dealing with this. Which is about the only good thing I can think of that can come out of it.

4. Now that we're in a house, with a washing machine, and a clothesline that Aaron put up for me, I'm able to cloth diaper again. (I was so excited to take my laundry out the laundry room door and stand on the step to hang it, all while within steps of my own kitchen where I could continue to cook while doing laundry. Living in a tiny apartment for 4 years will make you grateful for the smallest details, trust me.) When the Boy was born I was able to through a diaper service, but there aren't any here which is why I haven't done it since because laundromats and cloth diapers don't mix well. So if you have any favorite brands, method, supply suggestions for me, please share. I'm hoping the baby shower will help me stock up on needed items, since I have pretty much everything else already.

5. Also, I haven't purchased an infant car seat in years. We used the one we bought for the Boy for both the girls as well. It was $40 at Target. Wow have prices ever been inflated since then. It's essentially the same product, so I don't understand how people are suddenly willing to pay so much more for something that's function and design hasn't really changed a lot in the past decade. I can tell you this though, just because you bought it at Babies'R'Us for more than twice what the same product costs at Target will not make your baby safer. Just sayin'. You know. Some people apparently think otherwise, or they wouldn't have such a ridiculous mark-up.

In the end we found a $50 seat at Walmart. They do have to pass all the same safety inspections to be able to sell them you know. Right? So why bother with the others?

6. Thanks to the litigious nature of this state, I have to be transferred to an obstetrician for my final month of care, because I had one C-section, 3 births ago. So I'm "high risk". It's so silly it's laughable. I pushed out my last two children at home with midwives I'm so high risk. Not that there weren't complications, but ... well, read this if you really care about my opinion on the subject.

Today, I meet the OB for the first time. I'm due in two weeks. Little was already born at 37 weeks. I think it's a tad last minute considering, but since I'm not relying on her to get this baby out, I don't really care. I just think the whole thing is comic at this point.

7. I've always wanted to know what would happen if a woman, who was not getting the kind of care she requested while in labor, stood up in the middle of it, and said, "Ok then, I'll just go home and have my baby there."

The scene in my brain plays it out as a wonderful comic moment as all of the medical staff react with disbelief and consternation to such a statement, and then scramble to figure out what to do while she calmly heads toward the exit.

Well, that was fun. I expect that the next 7 Quick Takes Friday for me will be with a newborn. My ankles and feet sure hope so.


Dear Obstetrician

Honestly, I think that your presence at my birth would be somewhat similar to me taking an EMT with me to the playground every time we go, just in case one of the kids falls down and gets hurt. Not that I don't respect the time and effort put into learning those lifesaving skills of course. But I think being able to dial 911 would be sufficient.

In other words, I am glad you are there and trained if I need you, but I don't expect to need you. I think being able to call you in case of an emergency would suffice.

However, there is all the legal requirement of having once, many years ago, had my belly cut open by one of you to deliver my son. Despite all sorts of evidence to the contrary, and the two children I delivered vaginally since then, I am a "risk". Since this is California, where people litigate, to cover everyone's ass I am sent to you, the "most qualified" birth practitioner. Just in case.

So here's the thing. It's fine with me if you don't even show up, if all goes well. It's fine with me if no one shows up. I know that it will be me who delivers this baby, not you, or any one else. I'm the one who will do the hard labor of moving this child through those "perilous 10 inches" and into the light of day.

All  ask is this. Please don't touch me. I don't like being touched in labor. Please don't talk or poke or prod, it's distracting and unnecessary. I don't want you hovering and monitoring. I don't want a bunch of people in and out and bustling around. I don't want that whole circus that begins when a woman starts pushing, and suddenly the lights come up and people run around with carts full of sharp sterile objects in case they're needed. I don't want anyone telling me to hold my breath, to push when they say so, to stick their fingers in or near my vagina while I'm working.

I know now how my body labors. I've learned how to cooperate with it and let it do it's job. I trust it to take care of things as it ought. All I need is peace and quiet to focus on the task at hand.

I plan to stay home as long as I can anyway, because I prefer to labor at home.

Honestly, I hope that this labor is so precipitous that there is no chance to get to a hospital before it's all done. I want this baby to come at home too.

I know by now though that things don't usually go as smoothly or simply as I would like. I am glad that you are there, and I have insurance that will pay you, in case something goes wrong. It is a blessing to live where there is access to so many well trained and well equipped medical staff if there is ever an emergency.

So thank-you for your work, and your knowledge. I may be seeing you. But I hope not.


From a long time ago...

I found my mother journal when we moved. A friend gave to me when the Boy was born, almost 9 years ago.

It has all of the things I wrote down when he was a baby, long before blogs were invented I think, long before I even owned my own computer. We lived in Canada then, Vancouver, and I was totally new to motherhood.

I thought I might share a few entries here.

You can let me know if that's a totally lame idea or not.


I sit in a coffee shop with you beside me staring around in wide eyed wonder at the everyday ordinary sights. Your hands and feet move anxiously while you make little worried noises. Soon the car seat will be entirely unsatisfactory and I will pick and hold you to keep you happy. You smile that wonderful smile at me when I pick you up, and with it tell me how happy your are to be with your mama.

Today was a good day. The sun shone and it was warm enough to go without a coat. Spring is definitely on it's way. You are 4 months plus one week old today, and your daddy and I took you to Crescent Beach. The last time we were there I was very pregnant with you and walking was difficult. Today, we rambled all over the rocks and the sand spits, picking our way through the wet sand and the little rivers that remain when the tide goes out. You were nestled up all nice and cozy against against my belly still. This time on the outside. You woke up every so often to look around.

You won't remember much of this day, if any. It will mix with all the other wordless sensations of your first year. I hope you will remember feeling happy, loved, and secure, held firmly by the love that mommy and daddy have for each other, and for you.

I will remember the color of the late afternoon sun as it cast razor sharp shadows behind even the tiniest rock or ripple of sand. It was that peculiar golden color that one only sees this far north where the light comes in at an angle as if from very far away.

I will remember your father walking in front of me with his distinctive gait that was made for traveling long distances. He looks as though he is sauntering even as he leaves me far behind with his long strides. I like the way his shoulders and hips sort of roll from one step to the next. I wonder if one day you will walk like him.

I will remember that every time you looked me or daddy you smiled. I love the way your mouth opens wide, your tongue points out, and your eyes crinkle at the corners when you smile. It's like the sun came out and looked straight at me.

We turned over rocks and watched the little crabs all run for cover as their hiding place disappeared. Your daddy took pictures. Someday it will be you turning over rocks to see what's underneath. You will pick you way on little legs across the sand behind daddy and laugh and squeal as you feel the crabs scamper over your toes. And someday, even further down the road you will be the man leading the way, and maybe there will be little ones following you, learning from you what a tide pool is.

I'm grateful for today, for the mini vacation from work. I'm grateful for the sun and the pause, time to enjoy you and hold your daddy's hand again as we walked our little family down to the beach and remembered how blessed we are.


When you wonder if what you do matters

My friend Adam and his wife Cindy moved to Thailand a while ago, I don't remember how many years, along with Aaron's brother Sean. Their plan was to start an orphanage. They worked in one there for a year.

In the end they realized that they needed to foster kids in their own home instead, to give a fewer  number the benefit of a real family. They've never needed to look for kids, the kids just come to them.

It's hard work and really worth doing. Here's a post Adam wrote recently about Pan, a girl they have fostered for quite a while. Raising Witnesses It made me cry.

You should go and read it. I only hope that the story the kids at the Charis Home tell will be similar to Pan's.


As our 10th anniversary approacheth....

It's late, I'm not sure how late because I've been asleep for a while, but definitely late.

He finally comes to bed and curls his head into my chest ready to talk. These moments when he wants me to listen, when his tongue loosens and the thoughts flow easily, I treasure these, even in the dark of morning. He's often so taciturn.

I think he's finished and have almost drifted back to sleep when he says, "If I die before you I want you to find someone else to marry you. Someone who will just be good to you and love you and the kids."

I smile in the dark and respond, "You better stay alive then, that sounds like a lot of work."

A while later, as a tag to another conversation he says it again. "I really do hope you will find someone else to marry if I die. Someone who will just be good to you and take care of you. I know I'm difficult to live with sometimes."

"Yes, but that has been necessary for me to grow."

We both correct me at the same time, "Well, not necessary... but useful."

It's true, marriage to him has helped me grow in ways I didn't even realize I needed, and I'm glad it happened, because it really was needed."

"That's what I mean though, I want you to marry someone who isn't so hard to live with."

"So, someone who isn't an asshole then?"

"Yes, exactly. Truthfully though, I kind of hope you go first. Because I think I'll be able to to get on with life after sooner than you."

"Oh I have this fantasy that you will fall apart completely and realize that I'm the best thing that ever happened to you when I go."

"Probably, but after I'll be able to get back to living sooner than you would, I think. I could be wrong."

"Possibly. But if I linger and you are helpless to do anything you will probably go crazy. You hate not being able to do anything."

"Yes, well, I'm talking about after you are already dead."

"You could be right."

"Would you want me to get married again? Have you thought about it?"

"I won't care. I'll be dead."

"Yes, but do you have an opinion while you're still here?"

"I think it would depend a lot on how old the kids are when I die. If they are little I hope you would find someone else to take care of them with you."

"Yeah, if they're grown I'll just have casual sex. Well, the first time might be casual, " he amended, "I'm not sure I could actually do that."

"If you do remarry I think I owe it to your future wife to write her a few letters of friendly warning. It probably took me the first 3 years just to understand what you mean when you say things because it's completely different from anyone else."

"Yeah, I'd have to break in a whole new wife to who I am."

"In the beginning I thought the American Canadian thing was a factor, but now I realize, Hon, you are a cross-cultural marriage, all by yourself. I've never met anyone else like you."


Public service announcement

Here's a very important at home do it yourself tip.

If someone gives you a free bookshelf, and you look at it and think it would look way better white, don't go to Lowe's and buy a few cans of spray paint to complete this project. Because it's going to take way more than a few cans, it's going to cost more than $30 and several trips, and when you are done, holding your breath while spraying so as not to inhale baby threatening toxins, it will still look like you need a few more cans of spray paint.

You will end up staring at it trying to decide whether to just bring the thing inside and put books on it or take out the sand paper and then use a brush and roller like you ought to have done in the first place.

Also, trying to finish while there's a thunderstorm on the horizon won't go very well. But don't worry, that swelling on your foot, where the shelves blew over and landed on top of it, doesn't have much to do with the injury after all. Turns out trying to unpack and paint during a heat wave may cause a pregnant woman to retain a little water and have ankles and feet the size of sausages.

Commence with the sitting doing nothing while your feet are elevated. It's actually very hard to do, especially when the only thing to put your feet on is an unpacked box of stuff you want to put away.

Things that may go well... using a staple gun to quick install most of your curtains. Do it right and no one will know you don't have a rod hiding in there holding them up.

Note to self: Figure out how to sit at computer desk with feet elevated so you can at least spend some time online while dealing with the super swollen feet.



There is heat and sun and stifling air, and then the wind from the ocean picks up and lightening and thunder take over the sky. Little is scared but daddy picks her up and they sit on the front step to watch the sky and listen and she likes the color of the lightening and the sounds of it.

Rain hits in spurts and drenches for a few seconds but leaves all still thirsty, still hot, and trapped beneath the gray.

But after dinner the sky lights up with orange and pink streaks over the back fence, drawing us to gaze.

Children run laughing through a maze of boxes and furnishings, still lacking a permanent location. Their giggles trail from front door to back and around and around the house again.

Two little girls snuggle together in a queen size bed that dwarfs them and reach out to find each other in the night, comforted.

The Boy hides in his cave creating with legos, asks already why it needs to be clean if it's "his room".

The sounds in this house are all our own. The walls don't creak with the movements of neighbors that share walls. Little feet thud across hardwood floors.

Peaches drop down from the laden tree out front. We eat them every day, though the birds and beetles get their fair share ahead of us. Giant green shield beetles that it thrills the girl to try and catch. She has a butterfly net now. She takes it every where. She tries to trap a bird with a nest made of a feather boa wrapped around a bowl full of water at the front gate. A passing dog drinks the water instead.

We light a fire in the outdoor fireplace on a cloudy day. They dance around watching it burn, shrieking with excitement.

They ask every day when I will drive them to the beach.

My arms ache from painting thrifted furniture to match and hanging curtains. Flies dance in the center of the rooms where there are still no screens on the windows.

The Boy will make lemonade from the lemon tree out front and try to sell it to the new neighbors. He is figuring out how to play with a boy who only speaks Spanish.

I have already baked a cake in my new oven. I have 2!

When it is cool, and we are all unpacked, we will light a fire in the living room fireplace and play board games together one night. Maybe it will become a weekly tradition.

Our spare little bedroom gets the best breeze floating in through the open sash windows along with the occasional snatches of the neighbor on his accordion.

We are home.


And there was internet once again...

I'm on my own computer, in my own, crammed full of boxes still, office. Hooray!

It's so odd to remember that when the Boy was a newborn we didn't even have a computer in our house, and we didn't miss it. Now I feel so out of touch if I can't go online, it's where so many of my key relationships get their primary interaction.

I do still think fondly of those days though when Aaron would read to me at night when I nursed the Boy as our entertainment for the evening. It was a sweet season for us.

Anyway. I have so much to catch up on I don't know where to begin. Instead I'm going to sleep and maybe have something to say by morning.

Now it's all, "I still can't figure out where my bathrobe was packed...where did that staple gun go?... this room definitely needs curtains first... a dresser in this corner would be really handy right about now..."

Yep, fascinating. Need sleep...g'night.



I am sitting in my car in a parking spot outside of a Panera with Aaron's laptop so I can use some of their free wi-fi after hours and get online for the first time in days.

We won't have internet at our new house until this Saturday! That's just crazy talk. We haven't got phone service until then either. I actually now own a cell phone, me, the homebody who never goes anywhere and never needed a cell phone before now. Though, actually, buying a van last month so we'd have enough passenger space for 6 when Jelly bean is born was the first step in this direction. Now I do actually go places. Sometimes far more often than I would like. So getting a phone in case I needed it was the inevitable next step.

Other than the total disconnect from the rest of the world I am loving our new place. Actually, I'm not minding the disconnect either. It's a nice change of pace to only be doing what is physically present in front of me. Of course, all the work piling up will come crashing in again once my computer is up and running and has a hi-speed connection once again.

There's something I wanted to tell you about and forgot, what with the sudden death move and all. Less than 5 days between finding a house and moving into it. My mother was right. See that mom, you were right. Enjoy that one. I cannot begin to describe how amazingly blessed I feel. We got packed up, moved, and halfway unpacked and I barely lifted a finger between all the friends and family who came to help. I owe my MIL an even bigger debt of gratitude than I did before. She organized everything moving day, and cleared our old house out. Her exact words, "This is work that anyone else can do. Only you can keep that baby inside of you long enough for it to grow as much as it needs. So, I know it's hard to delegate, but you are going to need to sit down and let other people do this for you."

But that's not the something
Two Saturdays ago I went to an Abolitionists Breakfast here in San Diego. It's a gathering of people who are actively working in various ways to stop human trafficking. The different organizations take turns hosting it. There were people who go out on the street every Friday to find girls who are selling their bodies and try to rescue them from pimps and madmas. I talked to a lovely nun who lives in a recovery/rehabilitation home for women who have been trafficked. (One of the only in this county, sadly, when the need is so much greater.)

The Charis Project was the only group there working on the prevention side of the problem, trying to prevent children from ever being trafficked at all, which was really interesting. One word I kept hearing over and over again was "rescuers". It caught my attention because my friend Adam called me a child rescuer on twitter the other day. I haven't really thought of myself in those terms but I guess it's true. What we do rescues children; from poverty, slavery, and exploitation. Those words fit. They are true. They are good.

I came away from that morning feeling so encouraged. It's a unique experience being in a room full of people who really, really care about the problem, enough to put themselves on the line. There were guys there who have gone into brothels and rescued girls while guns were being pulled and baseball bats employed to stop them.

What I realized though is that if it's accurate to call myself a child rescuer, it's also accurate to call a lot of you the same thing. Those of you who have followed on this journey, who have given; time, money, and skills to helping us take care of these orphaned children, you too have participated in rescuing a child, or many children.

Please be encouraged by that. Daily life can be so grinding and wearing that we wonder what it's for and why we're here. I want you to remember that to 40 kids in Thailand you are somebody. You are one who cared when they didn't have anyone who did. You are amazing.

Bless you all.

(See you Saturday when I have internet again.)
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