Monday, March 29, 2010

At home or in the hospital?

Now some of you have been waiting for an opportunity to weigh in on this sort of decision, since so many people called me crazy for having Jack at home. Unfortunately, the only thing putting this choice up for debate is money, or the lack thereof. I trust God to take care of us either way, but this is a source of stress for me, so perhaps talking about it will help me get through it or over it.

At home:
I loved loved LOVED having Jack at home. Not only was the idea novel in today's society, but I could stay at home, in familiar surroundings, with only our germs. No new people, no foreign atmosphere, no one following procedure over what I want or need. I can't say it was exactly peaceful when I was going through a contraction but I was surrounded only by people I chose to be there in my own house.
Many people criticize this method of birth because if something goes wrong, they say, it may be too late to get help in time. This seems to come from a mindset that no one is monitoring me at all while I'm in labor at home, and that's simply not true. Our midwife, Justine, was once an EMT and is now a licensed midwife of more than 200 successful births.
She monitored me by phone before arriving, came over once I'd reached a regular pattern to my contractions and checked on Jack via Doppler and me via pulse checks throughout my labor. She carefully studied my condition throughout labor and assisted in the crowning and birth, as well as directing us in what to do with the cord and later, birthing the placenta. She examined me after the birth, applying a couple stitches as needed. I took a little too long to stop bleeding, so she sent me to the hospital as a precaution, but by the time I got there, the problem had righted itself. She accompanied us to the hospital, remained there as long as I was there (most of my stay there was to recover from the Demerol they gave me...what a doozy) and came back to the house with us.
I never felt that in any way my safety was compromised, since Justine could recognize any signs of distress and act on them accordingly.
Our dilemma is actually purely monetary: the midwife fee went up and if health insurance covers it, it's on a reimbursement basis, so we still have to shell out the money, which we don't rightfully have.

At the hospital:
I know hospitals play a very important part in successful births, especially high-risk pregnancies. I do not discount the hospital staff's expertise or the mother's wisdom in choosing to have their babies there. I do feel, however, that many of their interventions are unnecessary and more for their own convenience.
It is not always necessary to give a woman pitocin to start labor or speed up labor just because nothing is happening. It's not always needed to ripen the cervix when dilation is not happening quickly. Epidurals are useful sometimes, but what you give the mom reaches the baby. It is horrible to make women push their babies out while lying flat on their backs, since that means you're essentially pushing your baby uphill, up the curve of your tailbone.
I want to be able to walk around, sit on a pilates ball during contractions, get in a tub, and not be tied down by machines and wires and people poking around where they don't need to be. I can only have two people with me (I had Justine, John (of course), Jaimie and Jana at my house for Jack's birth). Basically, I don't want people trying to boss me around and I don't want to deal with the anxiety of people telling me what they think I should do and me having to argue with them.
Honestly, I'm scared to go to hospital. I don't care how many people have gone there and had successful births. Going to the hospital is scarier to me than giving birth at home any day. But it could be practically free with John's new insurance.

I'm stressed out about this. Again, I know God will care for us, hospital or home, rich or poor--as He always has. I'm just picky and hope that if I have to go to the hospital that I can get over my own fears.

A good movie to watch if you want to better understand where I'm coming from: The Business of Being Born.

Pregnancy Update: Morning sickness started today, so I stayed home. And I had a splitting migraine since yesterday, which already shows me that this pregnancy is different, since I never had a headache with Jack. Vomiting with a migraine is definitely on my top ten of most horrible feelings. Pants are just a little tighter.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The pros and cons of pregnancy.

I titled this post as if I was making the decision to get pregnant, but I want to write about what I remember about my pregnancy with Jack that I did or didn't like. I know, I know, I know that this pregnancy may be completely different. But I've been thinking of all these things throughout the past few days and I thought I could relish them in greater detail here.

  • I actually loved the attention. I knew it would be the last time it was "all about me."It was kinda fun to have everyone fuss of me.
  • Not having to suck in my gut anymore.
  • Feeling the baby move. It's such a private, adorable thing to experience. Sometimes not so comfortable, but still awesome.
  • I love maternity pants and their lack of useless belt loops and buttons that dig into me. I think over-belly pants are gross, but the ones that sit under your belly are wonderful
  • I actually admire the maternity close at Motherhood Maternity when I'm not pregnant. Now I can wear it without looking like I've just given up on my figure entirely!
  • No one argues if I have to sit down.
  • High schoolers are brutally honest at eliminating dumb choices for names. But another post on that later.
  • I am big for a good reason. Not big for a bunch of lazy excuses, which is the rest of the time. ;-)
  • No migraines! We'll see if that changes this time around, but I loved that.
  • Great hair, skin and nails from hormones and vitamins!
  • Sometimes people would gravitate toward my orb-like frontside like a moth to flame, walking toward me with a mile-wide smile and outstretched arm, as if the Force was drawing their hand there. It never bothered me one way or another--I didn't get defensive and I didn't quite embrace it--but sometimes it was just weird. Like one day a guy walked by with his family at Wal-Mart. He came over, unannounced, rubbed my belly and grinned a goofy smile. He whispered, "Congratulations!" and went back to his wife and kids. Weird enough. I can't imagine how confused and weirded out I'd feel if John touched a stranger's belly, then walked back to me as if it was normal. But here's the kicker: she looks at him and snaps, "What?!? Was three not ENOUGH for you? Do I not make you HAPPY???" Uh................ I didn't stick around for the rest of the argument.
  • Why does everyone want my kid to be born on their birthday? Don't you realize that that just means I will NEVER come to your birthday party?
  • Morning sickness, hands down. And the subsequent purchase in ginger ale stock.
  • Having to waddle when I walk, which took FOR-EV-ER when trying to get to the bathroom. I would have to use the bathroom between EVERY CLASS. Add the aforementioned slow waddle, possible stairs and a million rude students in my way and I would be late to each class. Every. Time.
  • Stretch marks. Ugly things, I know, but maybe, just maybe I won't get more because the old ones will just reappear??? Don't contradict me on this one. Just let me dream.
  • Listening to people: I'm sorry, women, but many of you are thoughtless and ridiculously rude to pregnant women. I am trying to think "happy thoughts." Only another mom would try to add to a conversation about labor by describing how Mrs. So-and-So had a 8,670-hour labor and the epidural only numbed her throat so she couldn't tell the doctors when something was wrong and the baby came out with a leg growing out of his forehead and had no liver so he died an hour later. This is not helpful!
  • Old wives' tales. Scratching your belly doesn't damage your belly skin unless you are Wolverine. The way babies "sit" in your belly does not always tell you what gender you have. My baby will not drown if I have him in water! There are tons of ridiculous things that people share!
  • Not being able to reach my feet. John would have to lace up my Converse for me.
  • Only being able to safely sleep on one side every night.
  • Heartburn and the inability to enjoy tomatoes, orange juice or anything acidic.

Second update on cleaning

So I haven't exactly gone in exact order and the office remains mostly untouched, but I have made progress, which is awesome.

Saturday: the living room & hallway: DONE!
Sun.: Jack's room: DONE!
Mon.: office: file paperwork away & make desk functional again, then vacuum -- NOT EVEN CLOSE
Tuesday: hall bathroom: DONE!
Wednesday: our bathroom: (mostly) DONE!
Thursday: our room: vacuum, dust, organize closet and dresser
Friday: guest room: vacuum, dust
Saturday: kitchen: DONE!
Sunday: vacuum living room & hallway again.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The beginning of TWO: Pregnant again!

I've been meaning to start documenting this experience beyond posting a Facebook status and a picture of my peed-on tests, but, honestly, I've been kind of incredulous the whole time. I mean, it was quite a surprise! This is not the best time for us to have a baby, but it is definitely not the worst--John just started a new job, which is both exciting and a little scary and we just moved into a beautiful house that we can somehow magically afford each month without much help.

I don't need to document everything--you people will want to eat happily and even have good dreams sometime, so I'll spare you any conception details. But I just knew. Did you ever, um, well just know, way before you could ever take a test? I knew. And John laughed at me, a tad nervously and suspiciously, telling me I was crazy. And secretly having a twinkle in his eye, since getting pregnant was still something we'd planned on doing again after Jack.

So we waited. And while I wasn't against being pregnant, I was hoping that I wasn't. Because, you know, we weren't trying or anything. And I can (and do) logically talk myself out of getting pregnant because I need to work and sometimes the overwhelming desire to puke my guts out vetoes that need when I'm pregnant.

So Monday night (the 15th) as I crawl into bed I try to nonchalantly ask John something that can ONLY be "chalantly" asked:

"Babe, have I been extra bitchy lately?"

Because if I had been, then that would probably mean that I've got PMS and therefore not pregnant. I hadn't had my monthly tearful breakdown about something irrelevant and petty, so I was fearful of his reply.


"Just asking."

"Well, no, actually you've been really nice to me. Really nice. Like, I didn't want to mention it in case it would break the spell."

[Stunning revelation here about how crappy I treat my husband once a month. Sorry John.]

We sit in silence, side-by-side. John has his Tom Clancy book open but he's no longer reading. I'm mindlessly flipping through a Bed Bath & Beyond circular, barely looking at the pictures.

"Do you think you're pregnant?"

"I dunno. Maybe."

And if you have ever met John or spoken to him or even emailed him, you know that he is a man of action and not not NOT a man of waiting patiently for nature to reveal it's obvious answer. He got dressed and went to the store to get me a 3-pack of EPT, commanding me to drink water in his absence. (Yes I know you don't take tests two days before you're s'posed to start with practically no pee. There was no reasoning with him.)

After two glasses and one inefficient test later, nothing I could tell. There was a super, super faint line there, but what does that mean? Was the super faint line there before I took the test? Dammit. I couldn't remember. So we went to bed but John instructed me to take test #2 in the morning with "good pee."

Morning comes, have a "good pee," forgot to look for faint line before taking test because I was near comatose from getting like 4 hours of sleep. Still a super super faint line. I whispered "The test said no" as I kissed John goodbye and resolved not to take the last test til Sunday morning.
(I also want to remember later that when John woke up he didn't believe my answer, so dug through the bathroom trash to find the test to see for himself.)

Wednesday is s'posed to be D-Day. Nothing. Is my belly fat s'posed to be more...I don't know...fatty? It feels weird.
Thursday, nothing.
Friday, nothing.
Saturday morning I wake with lots of "good pee" and think, what the heck, I don't want to waste it, might as well test. So I do and the super super faint line is...much more distinct today. And all I can do is smile. My mind races, trying to think of the great idea I once concocted as to how to tell John about the second's gone forever. So, I just take the test, walk out to the garage and shove it in front of him while he works on target stands to shoot at.



"I think so...go get me another test from a different company."

With lightning speed he hops in the car and shouts, "Call Jaimieeeeeeeee!" as he speeds away.
I tank up on more water.
With lightning speed he returns with one of those newfangled digital ones, which will clearly say "Pregnant" or "Not pregnant." Thank God--no more lines to interpret. Why haven't we been using these the whole time?

I try to feign extreme interest in the instruction pamphlet while I wait FOR-EV-ER for the stupid thing to spit out one word. I read for an extra minute just to give it some space.


And there was much rejoicing.

Update on the will to clean

Okay, so I said I'd try to report every day on my house-cleaning status. That was Saturday and it is Tuesday now. So let's do this thing.

Saturday (living room): honestly, got a little distracted cause I found out I'm pregnant so I vacuumed, but forgot everything else. Will be done today!
Sunday (Jack's room): ALL DONE! The closet is organized, the bed is in place, everything's clean! Yay me!
Monday (office): ha haha
Tuesday (hall bathroom): to be done today!!! plus I'll catch up on Saturday and Monday. I honestly should have given the office two days.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The will to clean...

So, I have to say that I have a big BIG problem with motivation when it comes to cleaning.

Let me just say, I love having a clean house. I feel satisfied then and comfortable with staying home and just enjoying my squeaky-clean house. But on any given day really, I find decimated Goldfish crackers ground into the carpet, piles of "we should keep it but what should I do with it?" statements and receipts in the office, the dreaded laundry, my ever-shedding hair on the bathroom floor and approximately 8,353,982 toys littering the house (despite me packing up two boxes of toys away).

And somehow it is a miracle to not have a single dirty dish. One day, one ant will wander in and hit the jackpot, then bring his three billion friends and won't I be sorry? So I find myself needing to sweep and scrub everyday and, while there's satisfaction in it, it's so hard to be disciplined!

I think that I've even posted on this just recently, but I want to make a public resolution so you can all kick my butt if I don't follow through.

I have a week off for spring break, so my resolution is to get the entire house clean. If I clean one room a day, I should be all done before go back to work. Here's my schedule (because lists are cool):

Today: the living room & hallway: vacuum, dust, baseboards, windows, clean toys
Sun. : Jack's room: put toddler bed in, disassemble crib for the 700th time, vacuum, dust, organize, tackle Jack's closet.
Mon.: office: file paperwork away & make desk functional again, stack books for when we find another bookcase, then vacuum
Tuesday: hall bathroom: mop, clean counter/mirror/tub, put off cleaning toilet...okay, fine, toilet
Wednesday: our bathroom: ditto above, plus fix sink, that is stuck in "plugged" position
Thursday: our room: vacuum, dust, organize closet and dresser
Friday: guest room: vacuum, dust, organize closet
Saturday: kitchen: mop, scrub, wash, sanitize
Sunday: vacuum living room & hallway again.

Yes, I realize I'm vacuuming nearly everyday this way. Well, it just works for me. Or it won't and I'll just vacuum the whole house on Sunday. Tempting...

So, I'll try to report on my progress each day, so keep me accountable! Today's work starts right after a dirty diaper change! (Ew.)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Just happy...

Do you ever feel...just happy? Not everything has to be going well. Bills are still due. Spilt spaghetti sauce stubbornly burrows in unsealed kitchen grout. Ants begin "aimlessly" wandering in to escape the "heat." Cars still leak oil. But you're just happy. That's what I am today.

Of course, there are reasons for my glee today. It's John's last day at the "old" job. This is a little bittersweet for him because he's good at what he does and his boss will really miss him, but as a family this is great because he works 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Let me spell that out for you: NO MORE 2 P.M. TO MIDNIGHT SHIFTS! WEEKENDS OFF! HUBBY HOME FOR DINNER! The old job really blessed us with a regular paycheck after a few other less-than-profitable positions that painfully tapered down with the faltering economy, but this sounds even better. The new job starts Monday. Praise God!

Reason two is that John gets his "last check" today, which is not like a million dollars, but it is coming on the exact day that we absolutely must have more money or bills will be late and interest rates will go up. So I pretty much want to do cartwheels about this reason, although I've never been able to do one.

The third reason is, well, today is the last day of work (which also feels like school, since I'm a high school substitute teacher) before a week off for Easter break! No one CALLS it Easter break anymore, and they even distanced it two weeks away from Easter so the dumbest people in the world cannot make the connection. But now I'm veering towards Negative Town, so I'll come on back to "happy." :-)

My photography business is starting up again nicely and little "happy thoughts" are to be listed here too:
  • I have a couple super-exciting projects coming up that I need volunteers for!
  • I have a new camera coming on Monday (took long enough...) and Nikon's fixing my broken one that I'll use as a backup.
  • I've got a wedding on the 27th!
  • Maternity/newborn shoots for a dear ex-student of mine.
  • and even more that I can't mention just yet!

My "middle" sis actually has spring break off next week too and is coming home from UCSD! So we can actually spend time together!

I know there are still things I can be sad or mad or stressed about, but for today...well, I'm just happy!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Reality check?

Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he's been robbed. The fact is that most putts don't drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just ordinary people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. . .

Life is like an old-time rail journey--delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.
~Jenkin Lloyd Jones, journalist

What do you guys think about this quote?

I feel like it's pretty accurate. I know it sounds a little depressing, but Jesus was never about hiding the nitty gritty of reality from those who would listen, and I think this isn't totally off the mark.
Most of my day is spent dealing with verbal abuse from teenagers who obviously were NOT held to any discipline standard during their upbringing, then coming home to a poopy diaper, dirty kitchen and piles of laundry. Then I see my son, sitting at his new little table and chairs, playing with a toy car...and that is my beautiful vista for the day. I know ALL about delays and sidetracks, dust (literally) and jolts. Misunderstandings often lead to the smoke and cinders. But the sweet moments in between make it all worth grunting through, and possibly enduring with a smile.

And all I can say is, praise God!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

'Cause Debt-Free is the Way to Be

I am proud to announce that, with the refund from Uncle Sam (and the $800 handout of funny money from Obama), we have paid off one credit card and one outstanding medical bill, with another medical bill to follow tomorrow!!!! We have never been able to make more than the minimum payments, which of course sentences us to 8,000,000 years of debt, as the now-required-by-law handy dandy chart tells me on each statment. But if I only increase my payment to $644 per month...well then, I'll be done in 3 years instead. Or something like that.

So now, with $165 of monthly bills out of the way, I'm channeling that exact amount on top of the minimum of our next smallest bill, which should cut 3 years down to about 8 months! Then, shuffle $190 on to the next bill and so on. If we can only stay at the same stable level of poverty for, say 5 years (unless we make MORE money, obviously), then I think most of our debt will be gone! Hooray! I canNOT even fathom what life would feel like with only a mortgage, car and utility payments. Unbelievable. I want that even more than show lemons.

Last week I planned every dinner and some lunches. I didn't make most of them ahead of time (that to come soon, I hope!) but it was wonderful to go shopping and know I didn't have to go to the store again until the week after. Plus, it's great to have that plan posted on the fridge. I feel like I have control over that area of my life. I've actually grown to internally leap for joy when it's "junk mail day" because with that comes all the store ads! Yay! I have not turned into a full-blown coupon junkie, but I have my little accordion file and will often keep John from buying something if I know I have a coupon for it at home.

I know it's easier to praise God when times are good and I have to constantly remind myself to praise God when times really suck and we're eating spaghetti with that cursed Prego sauce for the 90th time in a row! We're definitely not out of the woods--we've only begun to see a little light at the end of the forest--but it is so encouraging to finally start getting a break!

So, how are you guys doing with the battle to avoid/eliminate debt?

And, speaking of debt...look at this beautiful, custom bed!!!

They don't tell me how much it that means it costs too much! *tear* Shoulda gotten the hint from the "custom" concept, huh?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Rain, rain, go away...

photo by Arthur Leipzig

...come again later when my Jeep dries out completely because my roof leaks and by the time it stops smelling musty (yes, Theresa, that's a word!) in there and I think I can seal the hole, it rains. Again. It's raining NOW.

And if it's raining (and cold) I can't let Jack play in the backyard, which is an integral part of

So, please.

Stop raining for just a few weeks!