Saturday, November 23, 2013

Birth Plan, Grandmultipara Style

It will come as no great surprise to most people who know me well that I have limited use for a "birth plan" in a traditional sense.  At some point, I think you either trust and mesh well with your provider or you don't, but a plan for what you might need or not need for a medical event you can't predict seems of decidedly little utility. 

That said, I may not enjoy birth plans, but I do enjoy satire.  :D  So, here is our family centered, family created birth plan for the arrival of Agent 007.  Written in mad-lib style, composed by Yours Truly.  Oh, and with preamble, because why not?

From:  The Perpetually Pregnant Papist and Gil, Agent 007 (in role of both fetus and neonate), and THE KRAKEN playing the part of “placenta”

When in the Course of human gestation, it becomes necessary for one person to dissolve the umbilical ties which have connected her to another, and to assume among the powers of the Earth Mother the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle her, a decent respect to the opinions of medical personnel requires that she should declare the manner in which such separation is desired to take effect, including but not limited to music, costuming, choreography and the precise degree of cuteness which is to be expected from our esteemed offspring.

Birth Plan

We have chosen to give birth at the _GameStop__ (place) at XXXXXXXXX’s hospital because of their outstanding facility and great staff.  We are requesting your help to ___chisel___ (verb) our goals and have a happy,      smelly       (adj) birth.  That said, the Anesthesiologist is still and always will be our favorite.  Sorry! 

In the event of complications, we will give our       green      (adj) cooperation after an informed discussion with the doctor and private consideration between mother, father, our Medical Astrologer, and       Napoleon    (famous person), consulting both the Thinking Woman’s Guide to a __Short___ (adj) Birth and __The Magna Carta_ (famous document).

First  Chainsaw (noun) of Labor:

Those to be present at all times at the labor and birth: Gil (the person whose ___piano_ (noun) this is), the Anesthesiologist, and _Bob of Big Pharma____ (person.)
I would like to _jump__ (verb) at home as _deftly__ (adverb) as possible and request the option to go _Milwaukee__ (place)  if I arrive at less than _2 1/2__ (number) cm dilated.
I would like to have my birthing     hammer  _ (object)  and __bon bons___  (luxury good) and request to have showers for pain relief when desired.
If TV is deemed necessary, we will be catching up on episodes of __X-Files_ (TV show).  No spoilers, please.
Please no internal fetal monitoring unless    Pluto         (planet) is in retrograde.
Internal exams only upon consent and as _intergalactic__ (adj) as possible to avoid rupture of __table_ (noun).
Please no pitocin or breaking of __mercury___ (liquid) unless deemed medically necessary.
No analgesia or anesthesia that is GMO unless _spry__ (adj).
The epidural line should be held in place by unbleached, organic, fair trade, _laundry basket__ (noun) free medical tape.
Freedom to move and _howl_ (verb) during labor.
I would prefer no hospital gown – I will bring one from home.
_Clumsy__ (adj)  birthing room, no _gross_ (adj) staff please.

Birth of 007, Arrival of THE KRAKEN :

Choice of _iPhone_ (noun) for pushing; please no _books__ (noun).
__The Prophet Elijah_ (person) chooses when to push.
Please place baby on mother’s abdomen after birth, unless __wood__ (noun) is necessary.
Cord to be cut by _Gandhi__ (person) using _impact driver_ (tool), after pulsing stops.
_Crazily__ (adv) yell “RELEASE THE KRAKEN” immediately to help encourage a gentle birth of the placenta.
Keep lights _chartreuse_ (adj).
We prefer that our baby be cute.  If he is less cute than expected, please report this to VAERS as _warily_ (adverb) as possible

After party:

Newborn to stay with _gypsies__ (people) at all times; no nursery visits, please
Please delay all routine exams for _1 year_ (length of time) to allow for bonding time.
We would like video, audio and photographic footage of Hepatitis B immunization, and request immunization within _e_ (number) minutes of birth. 
Please perform all _cold_ (adj) exams and procedures in room with parents.
If warming is needed, baby is to be placed on mother’s chest with blankets made from organic _satin_ (type of fabric) made by _ The Pegasus_ (mythical creature).
Breastfeeding only: no bottles, pacifiers, artificial _banks_ (noun), formula, or _eggnog_ (beverage)
Father to _sing to_ (verb) baby and mother at all times

We thank you in advance for your support and kind attention to our choices. We look forward to a _smooth_ (adj) birth.







Tuesday, July 9, 2013

In the most predictable post ever

Welcome, 007.  We've been expecting you!
We are very happy to announce that we are pregnant again.  We are 11 1/2 weeks along with Agent 007.  :D  I sort of thought that at some point pregnancy might get to be less fun, but you know... especially when you have nailed down the factors that have presented challenges in the past, it's as much fun for the 7th as it is for a 1st or 2nd baby. 

Kids are over the moon excited, although if 007 is a boy, there is grumbling that Gil maybe "fired", because this would be clearly All His Fault.  I'm not entirely certain what they mean in terms of firing him and I'm not sure I want to find out either. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Working the earth

Man does not live by bread alone.  Or corn alone, or peas or lettuce or even blueberries.

This Spring we added a garden to our backyard. Through making raised beds and hauling topsoil, choosing varieties of blueberry bushes and nervously replanting strawberry plants over and over to make sure that they were planted at the right depth, I've realized that my friend is correct when she points out that gardens feed more than our bodies.

There are a few things that I've been taught lately by growing a backyard garden.

1.  Audrey Hepburn was right when she said that to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.  We've had some struggles in the last few weeks, and one of the few surefire ways to feel better for me has been to go to my garden and check on things.  The harder the day, the higher number of times I've walked the gentle slope to the yard to see how things are growing.

2.  The visual difference between a freshly seeded garden and a garden before it's seeded is absolutely nothing even while the actual difference is a tremendous number of plants.  Simply planting a seed doesn't make my garden instantly filled with good things. 

3.  There comes a time when you keep looking at the garden, knowing that the plants should be coming up now, and they don't.  And that time when you may be certain that the seed died, that you actually do have every bit as black a thumb as you thought you did, is about 1 day before the first shoots peek through.

4.  If you overseed and try to plant too many things at once in too small a space, nothing grows right.  I really didn't get the concept.  I was afraid that my seed was all going to die, so I overseeded.  The result was far far far too much lettuce to thin, and a gratuitous overabundance of broccoli that I hadn't realized needed to be spaced 18 inches apart.  Oops. 

5.  When the seedlings are small and you don't know what you are looking for, it can be extremely difficult to tell what is a weed and what is a seedling.  Even when you know that there are weeds growing, if you try to pull them too early, you will inevitably pull out some of the good seed.  And if you wait too long to be extra certain that something is a weed, sometimes it can be surprisingly difficult to pull it out by the roots.  And I think there will almost always be an error in one direction or another.  I'm a late puller because I want to be extra certain that what I'm grabbing is a weed and not exactly the thing I've been working on growing, even though it's made for some more difficult weed removal and sometimes tolerating weeds for longer than necessary compromises the crop even in a small way.  The implications for this in my life and as a parent have been fascinating to mull over. 

6.  There are more weeds than I ever want to pull, and they are driving me absolutely crazy, so I'm shooting for constant improvement over perfection.  If there are fewer weeds today than there were yesterday, we're good even though we certainly aren't perfect.  My garden may be productive but I don't know that it will ever be tidy and well ordered.

7.  There is food where you don't expect it.  While we were removing a forsythia that I despise, we found a whole bunch of wild onions growing and decided to transplant them to the garden beds.  

8.  Patience is easier when you've seen things looking forlorn and then sudden bud and grow and flourish. 

Nothing is ready to harvest yet, but I look forward to what else the garden grows. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Tips for 1st Birthday Cake Smashes from the Perpetually Pregnant Papist

There is one thing that will never, ever be said about my family in any way, shape or form:

There is no one on this earth who would dare claim that we do not take birthday cake seriously.

From Baby Bear...

To Thumbelina...

We are happy to present Glowworm cake smash! Now with MORE FOOT IN THE CAKE!!!!

Here my my tips for an entertaining cake smash:

1.  Do not go for the most elaborate cake recipe.  Know your audience.  If there are food allergies you need to work around of course this goes out the window, but in general it is a waste of time to go for the most elaborate and wonderful recipe for a cake that will ideally be on the back of your baby's head. 

2.  Make sure you do the cake smash where you will not be upset about the mess, and wear clothes that you don't mind getting covered in frosting.  Babies are washable.  High chairs are washable and tarps are disposable.  Your carpet or fabric covered dining room chairs?  Not so much.  Minimize your stress as much as possible.  The $3 tarp from the dollar store is more than worth the investment.

3.  Your baby is most likely to go crazy with the cake if he or she has already had cake before.  Engaging in a cake training regimen is the most likely way to ensure optimal cake smashing.   This will give your baby previous experience before this Momentous Event, and it will give you information that will be important to have in getting your baby's cake sufficiently smeared to kingdom come.  For example, chocolate cake photographs really well, but if your baby would have more spectacularly messy fun with a strawberry cake, it would be good to know that in advance.

4.  My experience at this point suggests that making a cake that looks like a toy (see car cake above... Baby Bear wound up hugging the cake into his lap) results in some really nice cake smash results.  Cars, teddy bears, kitty face, etc are a good option.

5.  Be careful about how much candy you put on the cake.  This was a major issue with The Glowworm's cake.    He kept picking at the candy and ignoring the cake.  Candy smash just is not the same as cake smash.  So, watch the candy and rely more on frosting for decoration.

6.  Be careful about cake size.  A lone cupcake is just not impressive for a cake smash, but if you go too big your baby may be scared of his or her cake, cf. Thumbelina.  This is an actual risk even though this is now the kid who steals spoonfuls of marshmallow fluff and sprinkles chocolate chips on it.  Appropriate scale is best for everyone involved, barring the child who is exceptionally committed to CAKE whom you honestly believe may try to scale a cake.  In which case, YOU ARE A WONDERFUL PARENT AND I SALUTE YOU.

7.  Watch the time of day when you're going to be giving your baby his or her birthday cake.  Cranky babies have been known to ignore cakes they would otherwise demolish with glee.

8.  Be careful about the size of the audience depending on what your baby's temperament is.  If your baby doesn't like crowds, your cake smash would be best done with a really small audience.  Some kids, however, thrive on an audience.  Cf. Baby Bear with cake hugged into his lap.

9.  Make sure there is another cake for parents, other brothers and sisters, etc.  If all goes well, the entire cake given to your baby will be a smushed mess coating your child and the tarp that you put on the floor, which is awesome to watch but less awesome for kids who also wanted cake.

10.  Have fun.  If that means that you outsource your cake making to grandma or the local grocery store?  Outsourcing is awesome, rock on!  If that means you construct an 18 inch tall layer cake supported entirely by pirouette cookies as internal support?  Go for it!  If you make a rainbow layer cake?  You win at life and the internet.  If your cake is a bunch of cupcakes put together?  Wonderful... the better to have your baby grabbing the whole thing by the fistful! 

Friday, March 1, 2013

91 weeks 4 days Belly Pic

It's the Glowworm's Birthday!

Or, the first day day of his life being 1 year old, at least.  This is what happens when you are a Leap Day baby.  And cake will not be happening until the weekend, but I will post pictures of the devastation.  We've been training for months now, I tell you.  MONTHS!

I would like to dedicate this post to The Epidural Man.  Thank you, Friendly Epidural Man, for giving me back my joy in childbirth.  Thank you a million times over and then some.  Thank you, cytotec for a surprisingly easy induction of labor (so much gentler than especially my last "natural" labor... unnatural for the win!)  Thank you to my wonderfully compassionate family physician for my Best Birth Ever.  Thank you to my sweet Soul Sisters, because I've never seen so many women who have had natural births who were so annoyed that it was taking SO LONG TO GET ME THAT EPIDURAL.  SHOULD HAVE BEEN PLACED WITHIN 3 MINUTES OF ADMISSION, RITE??? 

And thank you, God, that I was born in a time and place where access to the miracles and kindnesses of modern medicine is a given. 

Happy birthday, my sweet little guy.  Thank you so much for coming into our lives.  We are so grateful that you are here.  <3

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pilgrim and Papa

The kids and I just watched the coverage of Benedict XVI's resignation from the papacy.  Gosh, how hard this is.  You don't expect that a pope will be pope forever, but there is something so surprising and surreal when it is time to say goodbye.

I was born under the pontificate of John Paul II, but really came of age with the influence of Benedict XVI, under his reign.  His encyclical Deus Caritas Est was the centerpiece of my thesis for undergrad.  His words and his quiet presence, his strongminded gentleness have inspired me more than I can say.

And now he retires to a quiet life, the life he envisioned for himself before the Holy Spirit called him to a place where he did not ever see himself going.  I am so thankful for his papacy, and although I miss him horribly already I am thankful for his example of quiet, invisible yet unmistakable holiness that he will now live in seclusion.  Now he can live the life of holiness hidden from the world.  That so great a man can leave the chair of St. Peter for a monastic life instead reminds me of how every day there are hidden saints among us, living quiet holiness and working out their salvation in fear and trembling.

Benedict's greatness comes from his love for Christ, whether he lives as pope or as someone who prays without ceasing.  As simple as it sounds, love made him who he is regardless of what setting he is in.  In some ways, his retirement is a gift.  A painful one but one that can't help but remind me of his beautiful writing.  Man cannot life by bread alone, nor can he love by agape alone.  It is not enough to try to be of service to all people, to be for them, to pour yourself out.  Without eros, without the humility to be filled by the love of a God greater than anything that you can offer, true charity is not possible.

Benedict's life has been one given over to love.  Even as an unlikely pope who would have been more at home in prayerful reflection and solitude, he has lived and loved well.  He has sought God in all things and offered himself in love for others in all things.  Well done, good and faithful servant.  Go forward in joy to the place that has been prepared for you.  You are so very loved, and will be missed.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Taking store

This Lent, the first sacrifice that I am making is to work to eat out of our pantry and freezer as much as possible.  Here is my reasoning, goal, etc.

1. I waste food and I know it. I lose things in the recesses of my freezer because I lack the discipline to keep in mind what we already have before buying food because it's easier for me.
2. When I hit the wall, if I need to, I know that I do have the ability to walk down the street and get more groceries. Whether I take this or not, when I hit that wall I can pause and pray for those who can't walk down the street for groceries like I can.
3. It helps me really focus and meditate on the Scriptures and the Lord's Prayer.
4. I think we get more creative when we are working on a wing, a prayer, what our friends can help us with, and that is a way to see God in my life.

The way I do it is that I can prepare to a certain extent before Lent starts (see what I have in there, make sure there are no major gaps) and I will still buy fresh fruits, dairy and eggs and perishables because I'm not willing to compromise healthfulness. And I'm not letting the kids who have birthdays in Lent not have what the other kids have either. But I need to use the freezer as much as I can, and the pantry as much as I can for meals.

And I think this is one thing where you know if you're cheating or not, and even when you cheat you still see that you're cheating and that knowledge and reminder that this is reality for many people, that they have to stretch the pantry of freezer until Payday (or until the social security or unemployment check clears, or the food pantry opens again.) This is my way to stand in solidarity with and pray with people for whom that life is a reality, because it's a lot of people.

So, today being Ash Wednesday, I figured that it was time to see what I actually have on hand.  I started opening up pantry doors and pulling things out, counting them, entering what I have into my mealplanning app.

It took about 20 minutes in before I realized just how important this sacrifice is really going to be for me.  I looked through everything and realized that I have almost 20 pounds of pasta.  I have meal after meal after meal sitting right here and I didn't even know it.  Between disorganization and absentmindedness, I didn't see how many days bread I've already been given.  And I can hear the echoes from every single time that I've whined about how "we don't have anything here to eat."  Looking at it all now is humbling in a way that I really can't put easily into words.

It took a few hours this morning, but the pantry has been tackled and organized.  I will have to do the freezer tomorrow morning.  But as I put things away, can by can, jar by jar, cereal box after cereal box I could not help but wonder how many other gifts that aren't food that God has given to me that are lying forgotten in a corner next to some other mislaid virtues.  How many blessings do I have hidden in the cupboard all but forgotten because I haven't taken store of them? 

I think this will be a very humbling Lent.

Still alive!

Quick update before I try writing some Lenten things later today.  Our glowworm is almost a year old now, and such a wonderful little guy to have.  Thumbelina closes in on being two, Baby Bear is 4 1/2, Goldilocks cut off her curls and is starting to look more grown up than the 6 years old she will turn on Monday.  Yogi Bear makes his First Communion this year.  Papa Bear serves at Mass every week and is growing into an incredible older kid.

And Gil and I are peeking around the corner at our 11th wedding anniversary.  It's been a long time since I last posted and so many things have happened, mostly for good.  But today is Ash Wednesday, and I wanted to write about where I am trying to grow this Lent.  I will try to post later this afternoon about what Lent is going to be for me this year, but for now I can just type off this quick note and then it's back to the pantry.