Thursday, February 25, 2010

that time I had a kid: 2010 edition

Five years ago, I was sitting on a stranger's couch, surrounded by no less than 500 sci-fi paperbacks in dozens of stacks towering above my head, when I heard the back door open and close very carefully. "Who's that?" I asked.

"Don't worry," she shrugged. "It's just the cat."

Umm, WHAT? She had a cat that could open doors by itself.

Because it had an opposable thumb. Ummmm.

Just want to e-thank this opposable thumb cat lady, because later that winter she sewed me one of those microwaveable rice bags and it provided a needed blast of soothing distraction from barfy back labor when I gave birth to our newest little lady last month.


Have you ever heard of a "fog-in"?

Me neither.

Apparently, they're common in the Midwest at wintertime and when they happen,
no planes can land at our local airport.

Which means if you're, say, my mother-in-law flying in to help out as we have our second child, your 5-hour journey by plane will morph into 16 hours and involve a 4-hour late-night bus ride from Chicago.

It was four days after my due date. I suspect that subconsciously, I was holding on until hub's mom arrived. We had a few friends lined up to watch our toddler but I knew I wouldn't be able to fully relax and get "in the zone" if our cutie was at a buddy's house. I'd be preoccupied: How was she doing? Was she flipping out? Blahblahblah. Believe it or not, I'm not always such a Fretful Frances, but imminent birth-giving makes one worry. So I had joked with hub that I'd go into labor right when his mom arrived, and that we'd only spend three hours at the hospital.


Kind of.

Hub's mom got here a little before midnight and the contractions (whoops, I mean, in hypnobirthing lingo, "surges") started in earnest an hour or two later. And suddenly they were two minutes apart, and I started busting out moves I'd only seen in books (kneeling, swaying, etc.) to take the nasty pressure off my lower back. Around 4:30 AM, we checked into the hospital and I attempted to get in the zone using all the non-cuckoo stuff from hypnobirthing (which, once you ditch the crazy, leaves you with some plain old relaxation breathing and some "I can do it!" mantras). I was determined to move through my nasty back labor because last time it had me feeling paralyzed on the bed for hours, so when the abrupt and homely nurse brought out the birthing ball, it was so wonderful that for a moment, I felt bad for noting how abrupt and homely she was.

And three-ish hours later, I puked, my water broke, I couldn't not push, and then my lady parts were ablaze and our kiddo was here!

I could talk about what a miracle childbirth is and how much it blows my mind that we have a new member of our family, or how freaking cute the big sister is as she surrounds the baby with books and toys at every turn, and is always copying her head bobbles and little coos, or how my heart melts when I think that THIS IS MY FAMILY, but let's be honest, you could just read my feelings and FAQ from last go round, but
you don't care about that, you care about what useful info I've gleaned.

Things I learned:
  • If you want to give birth naturally, you can do it. Whatever you decide to do, don't let anyone make you feel guilty. If you bear children in North America in 2010, chances are you can do it however you want. Hurray for choices.
  • Apparently a bit of a pattern is emerging, as I'm two for two birthwise as far as 1) having daughters b) no medication except some Motrin after c) having nasty back labor d) going into labor at midnightish e) being due on a Thursday and giving birth the following Tuesday. Weird that those things were all the same, right?
  • Even if the natural route went well the first time and you decide to go for the same strategy, the second time might be more terrifying just because once things get started, you know exactly what's coming. Consequently, in the thick of things you might panic a few times. But people have been doing this for a long time, and you can do it, too, so just remind yourself to grow a pair...figuratively.
  • Giving birth might be the most empowering thing around.
  • If during labor, there's a clock on the wall stressing you out, just take it down. It's okay if it's attached so hangs there awkwardly with cords sticking out and everyone that comes in the room asks what the crap happened on that wall. Just do it. You're in charge.
  • Speaking of which, you're in charge. So do whatever you want! If you need to walk, walk. If you need a heated rice bag, use a heated rice bag. If you need a drink, ask for one. If you need a pep talk from your spouse, ask for one, and be as specific as necessary. When things get intense you might even whisper things like "Holy shit, honey. Holy shit holy shit holy shit holy shit." And he will know that this means you need him to say something encouraging.
In sum: people with mutant cats could give you gifts that save your butt years later, I jokingly predicted details that then came true with eerie accuracy, reproduction rocks, we love our new baby, do what you want.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


on Sunday mornings, I bust out some mission tunes, and I hate to brag, but if you're wondering if I do a dead-on Kenneth Cope impression, the answer is yes.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

bc it's 10 degrees

  • I would cry if Tim Hortons ever banned me for life, not only because life without sour cream Timbits is not worth living, but also because my personal history with life-long bans is so sordid. Banned from delicious doughnuts and soup for your WHOLE LIFE just for complaining about coffee? WHAT'S NEXT!?!?
  • I keep deep-ugly-belly-laughing about this guy, a third-year law student who had an e-meltdown preserved for all the world to see when he had a little mix-up in the ole job search. Go read it. You'll thank me. The whole exchange is fantastic, but my favorite sentence: "I hereby require you to destroy [the attachments]." Umm, WHAT? Can you see him raising his powerful scepter and commanding the wind to stop? The sheer power of my words magically turns the mere utterance into enforceable code. I HEREBY REQUIRE YOU. Just like when Michael Scott declares bankruptcy by yelling "BANKRUPTCY!"
  • I mention (and think) this often, but bad tv brings so much joy, particularly in the middle of a quiet winter, and as much as it pains my feminist heart to admit it, I love The Bachelor. I feel like I catch an STD just LOOKING at awful Vienna, and of COURSE Gia's mom reads Jake's tarot cards, and Tenley's dance, OH, Tenley's dance...God bless America.
  • Sometimes I remember that my clever friend Kiersten has a big fat book deal and I get a little giddy because who doesn't want to a) see their friend LIVE THEIR DREAM and b) see a book at the store with their buddy's name on it? So, hurray.
  • In other news, having multiple kids is awesome. Watching the big sister kiss her little sister's head forty times a day is turning me into a pile of weepy mush, especially now that I can sit down without wincing and my iron count is back up above want-to-collapse levels. Also, I'll share some hippie birth details shortly to try to peer pressure you, I mean, for posterity.

Anyway, I hereby require you to love me.

public service announcement

Turns out TWO kids is a lot more than ONE kid. Who knew?!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

virtue: not just for virgins anymore

That wasn't actually the title of our stake workshop, but wouldn't that have been awesome?

Thanks for all of your comments. I found many of them helpful and thought-provoking (and some, cringe-worthy).

A few things I should clarify: I led the same discussion twice, first with all the 12-year-old boys AND girls AND their parents, then with all the 13-year-old boys AND girls AND their parents. I think having a) those younger ages b) with both genders c) with parents d) in a pretty large group made for a pretty unique situation that I would have tackled differently if it had just been girls, or just boys, or no parents, or a smaller group.

I'd been thinking a lot about what it's like to be 12 or 13, the 6th/7th/8th grade crowd, very sweet and very fresh-faced, many of whom are the only members in their grade and/or school. They aren't too cool for church yet and still get excited about participating (sometimes). So many of them were very sweet and truly "without guile." I figured the sex-is-great-that's-why-you-wait conversation was better suited for the older crowd and kept this discussion away from the nitty-gritty and more focused on what virtue means and why they should care.

Anyway, I'm sure you would have done it differently (and likely done a better job), and feel free to skip it if you're not interested, and judge all you want, but I've gotten a few questions about what I ended up doing, so here's the gist of it for those who have asked and perhaps someone out there in internetland finds it helpful.
  • Think of a time you've felt really proud of yourself, a time you felt like you could do anything, just really confident and like you wanted to high-five the world. We listed them on the board, and in both groups, the participation was really endearing: "When I made the honor choir!" "When I tried out for 7th grade softball!" "Grades!" "Being in jazz band!" "When I gave a talk!" "When my first piano recital was over!" "When I help my brother with his math and we both figure out hard problems!" "When I finish reading a good, big book!" and so forth. I chimed in with a few, e.g., finishing law school, or giving birth two weeks ago. I then said that everything on the board and anything that is truly rewarding in life usually involves (1) preparation and (2) commitment and how this was also true for virtue. We went over the list and I asked them to keep that feeling in mind, and to remember what it's like to feel confident and empowered and like you can handle anything life throws at you, and how today we're going to talk about "the courage to be chaste and virtuous" which, in part, means learning how to be confident about choices we make and confident in God's presence.
  • Alma 38:12: "Bridle your passions, that ye may be filled with love." This worked out well bc in both groups there were kids that were really into horses who explained how a bridle works and how a horse doesn't know where to go without it, how a bridle doesn't suppress but just focuses the horse. We talked about where they want to go both short- and long-term and how self-control is the ticket and being your own boss and deciding what you will do (and won't do) is part of growing up.
  • Virtue is a prerequisite for feeling the guidance of the Holy Ghost. We talked about what "prerequisite" means (apparently, in junior high you have to take Global Studies before you can take American Studies, Geometry before Algebra, or whatever; it was really sweet how excited they were to think up examples of prerequisites) and how being virtuous allows God to help us and show us what to do.
  • Virtue is a pattern of thought and behavior. I asked them to explain what a pattern is (they mentioned repeating designs, or 2, 4, 6, 8, etc.) and it's basic but seemed to work okay in helping them understand that we do what we're used to doing, so right now is a great time to start a pattern of thought and behavior to last them for the decades to come.
  • Developing virtue is a process. This is the part I liked best. There is an awesome section on Virtue in Preach My Gospel (that I made into a really basic handout), from Chapter 6 about Christlike Attributes. At the end of the chapter, there is this "activity" where you're supposed to rate yourself on a scale of 1 - 5, 1 meaning never and 5 meaning always, as an opportunity for self-reflection. I found the section on "Virtue" really fascinating bc I usually think of it as code for virginity, but this brought a more positive, more nuanced discussion.
I am clean and pure in heart. (Psalm 24:3–4)
I have no desire to do evil but to do good. (Mosiah 5:2)

I am dependable—I do what I say I will do. (Alma 53:20)

I focus on righteous, uplifting thoughts and put unwholesome
thoughts out of my mind. (D&C 121:45)
I repent of my sins and strive to overcome my weaknesses. (D&C
I feel the influence of the Holy Ghost in my life. (D&C 11:12–13)

We read and discussed each scripture. I wasn't sure where this would go, but we ended up talking a lot about the first statement (how clean hands and a pure heart means clean on the outside AND the inside), the second statement (how when our hearts change, our desires change) and the fourth one ("put unwholesome thoughts out of my mind" means it's okay to HAVE unwholesome thoughts and the key is to not entertain them). It worked out well to just see what they responded to and run with it.
  • Repentance is real and WE CAN CHANGE. I mentioned this might make more sense to a lot of them later in life so invited them to put it in their back pocket until they needed it, but that if they ever feel like it's too late or things are too far gone or all hope is lost, that. is. a. lie. God cares way more about our direction than about our past and the miracle of the gospel is that we can change. You don't have to wait for anything. I told them about my friend who once, in a moment of clarity, threw a CD out the window of her car bc she knew she shouldn't listen to it. If it's holding you back, THROW IT OUT. On the way home from this activity, you can tell your parents, "I've been looking at stuff I shouldn't online, will you help me?" or you can tell your boyfriend or girlfriend, "You know what? I'm 12 or 13. That's too young to have a boyfriend or girlfriend." We don't have to be the same tonight as we were this afternoon.
  • A number of the youth made very, very sweet comments about what they want out of life and how they want to play certain sports in high school or go to a certain college or make the honor band next year and we talked about how good choices allow them to stay in the driver's seat and be in charge of what they do.
  • God gives us commandments because He wants us to be happy. Finally, at the end, I just told them that my life is not even close to perfect but that every good thing in my life--my husband, my mission, my education, my freaking awesome kids--everything good in my life is from God, and how happy those things make me, and how I want that for them and how God wants that for them.
I was sort of dreading the assignment but I'm glad I got the chance to do it. I realized that virtue isn't just virginity and that every law of chastity discussion doesn't have to be about heavy petting. Bits of the lesson kind of flopped but for portions of it, I felt like they were really "with" me and I left feeling like we'd had this intense heart-to-heart.