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Oliver

A baby is something you carry inside you for nine months, in your arms for three years and in your heart till the day you die. ~ Mary Mason

Oliver, you were born  into the brightness of morning. Looking out the window as I arrived at St. Mary’s hospital that May 29th morning, I reflected on how different this delivery was already gearing up to be than my labour with your brother. In a sentence, it was smooth sailing.

It was just your dad and I and my labour with you was progressing quite calmly (as calmly as labour can be anyway!). I had Braxton Hicks contractions the whole day before and was quite certain you were going to arrive very soon. I texted my good friend Amanda who is a doula and asked her what she thought. She was confident that “real” labour would commence probably in the early morning. And just after 2 am, I had a contraction that was quite a bit stronger than the ones I had been previously experiencing. I lay there trying to fall back to sleep for half an hour but it wasn’t going to happen. So with that, I got out of bed and eased myself onto the couch and Googled labour and when it’s a good idea to get oneself to the hospital! I remember reading a bit about if you can still talk through your contractions, you can probably stay at home still. So I sat there and talked to myself through a few contractions.

“I can still talk through this, yeah, it’s pretty strong but I can still talk…oooo….that was a bit stronger than before.” I giggled a little at how silly I must have looked.

The contractions continued at around five minutes apart and about a minute long and were growing in intensity although they were still quite manageable. So, I decided, I was going to have a shower. I was not going to the hospital with greasy hair this time, that was for sure. That was the first shower I’ve ever taken at 3 am, Oliver.:)

After my shower, I crawled back into bed with your Dad who awoke. We lay there for the next two hours deliberating over when we should call my doula, Brit and our friends, Julie and Brian, who would be looking after your older brother. We agreed around 5 am based on the progress on my labour.

By the time Julie arrived, I was not talking so well through those contractions anymore if at all. Julie was excited as was I and while your dad took our dog, Cosmo, to a friends house to be looked after, Julie prayed for me and you and the delivery. I felt peaceful and confident as Jesse and I drove 25 minutes to the hospital in Sechelt.

Arriving there, we walked ourselves straight up to the maternity ward and the night nurse greeted us warmly and led us into the spacious room where you would be born. Through the huge windows that overlooked the Extra Foods grocery store and other shopping venues, I could also see the ocean and lush coast line. This was so different than Richmond. What’s more is I was the only woman in labour of the two other women in the maternity ward so I had all two nurses to myself.:)

Dr. Bryson arrived shortly after us, around 6 am, and together, we awaited your arrival. That was it. No drama, no fuss, no worry, just a mama doing what her body was designed to do and lovely nurses telling her she could yell as loud as she liked because there was really no one around anyway. Funny though, I didn’t holler nearly as bad as I did the first time and I don’t even think I swore. But as with my labour with your brother, I got to thinking that epidural sounded mighty nice but like last time, it was just too late to get it because guess what, I was already fully dilated by the time we got to the hospital! I whimpered between contractions because I knew that even though they were hurting bad now, they were about to get a whole lot worse! In a comedic moment that I wasn’t actually able to laugh at because of the contraction I was experiencing, I looked over at your dad who was steadily gazing into my eyes with a gaping mouth and a bobbing head. I realized that he was trying to remind me to keep loose hands and a open mouth (something Amanda had told us was important during labour). I wish I could have snapped a shot of your funny dad, Oliver.

And then, I felt your head crowning and in about 20 minutes, I felt that head swoosh out of me as I hung off the back of the upright bed on my knees. I heard your cry and breathed in sweet relief. It was 8:09 am. It was done and I was no longer pregnant! And there you were, blonde fuzzy hair and what’s down there? …..Balls! We had another boy and within a couple hours, we decided that you were Oliver Wesley Bowen – 6 lbs, 6 oz. and 21 inches of beautiful baby with enormous nostrils and a sweet, heart shaped face. We love you so much!

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To read Shae’s birth story, click here

A pleasure a day keeps stress away ~ Ethel Roskies

I used to work with a lady who would often in a singsong voice say “do-do-doo…” letting the last syllable trail off into the sounds of dishes clanging or the bristles of a broom sweeping. I always thought it was a little funny that her mantra never continued into a full tune.
My world got a little crazier about four weeks ago with the birth of my second son, Oliver Wesley. While I have had my husband around helping with my rambunctious toddler, he has been sick with a nasty cold this past week and together with sleepless nights and an equally sick and fussy toddler, I have found myself juggling a lot more than I am accustomed to. Let’s just say, crazy mama was in the house the other night. It was then that it dawned on me why my co-worker used to perform her little sing-song. She had found a reliable stress reliever – a means of making it through her day in the attempt of avoiding a mental break down when she got home. And then I thought of moms I have observed at one time or another throughout my life and the “funny” things they would say or do. I used to attribute their peculiar verbal expressions to some mutation that occurs when some women become mothers. As if they stopped being their cool, hip selves and morphed into what they thought a mother should look and sound like.

And here I am now, a mother to two boys and I am desperately looking for a way to de-stress in the middle of two young ones screaming – one running around with poo hanging from his bum and the other demanding to be fed AH-gain and a house that looks like 10 little boys had their way with it. “Do-do-doo” is not going to work here but I aim to find my mantra that will take the edge off of my chaotic little world. In the mean time, a glass of Merlot this evening is looking quite nice.

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But never again use another person’s body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilling yearnings. ~ Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

It’s easy to feel sorry for yourself – easy to justify your low, mental state. Up until the last couple of weeks, I figured that aside from some temporary moodiness that those close to us are tough enough to endure, feeling sorry for yourself is relatively harmless aside from doing yourself no favour for your mental well being.

And then along came the situation that blew that theory out of the water. In an unfortunate confrontation between my dog and my landlord’s dog, my landlady’s hand got unintentionally bit and the dog responsible was unknown by her own admission.

The course of communication from her that followed placed a tremendous amount of stress on me and being nine months pregnant, I’m already having a difficult time dealing with running my household, caring for my husband and toddler (who has been sick with one thing or another almost my entire third trimester) and not loosing my mind out of worry and fatigue.

So here’s where the light bulb illuminated a darker side of “playing the victim” for me. I see it as a pathway we choose to walk down. It starts off easy to access and you can still see the blue sky behind the darkened clouds. You can nurse your wounds without having to put on any front to those still on the high road. And then through the quiet dim come the destructive thoughts that feed your self-centered state of emotion. You know how it goes. You were mistreated. You didn’t deserve this. You, you, you. What I didn’t know or rather realize up until the last couple weeks is that while many of us snap out of this pity party before it causes anyone else around serious grief, there are those who don’t. So clouded by their loathing for those they have deemed responsible for their low mental state, they fail to see the distress and even harm they are inflicting on those around them. Maybe they care and maybe they don’t. I’m more concerned about if they do because how easy it would be for myself to fall into the same rut. I guess my own susceptibility scares me. While I can’t see myself going as far as my landlady did in adding a load of unnecessary stress to my life, how far would I take my own pity party if circumstances were seriously in my disfavour? Each day shows us that humanity is capable of a wide range of destructive behaviour. Where does it start? How does it manifest itself into an ugly presence affecting the lives of other individuals? How does it become an acceptable standard of how one lives and treats others around them? The answers are boundless but I can be sure that amidst the variables are a few that line up with my own life circumstances and predispositions.

May I evermore consider how my behaviour impacts those around me.

As the gap between my last post and now indicates, motherhood and life in general have been keeping things in almost a constant state of chaos. I’ll save the details of the last couple months for another post because I want to write about something that has nearly been forgotten and abandoned as a distant memory – sex appeal.

My world right now is one that orbits around all things baby and the trials of motherhood. What do I talk about withmommy-brain most of my friends most if not all of the time? My kid – his napping habits; his poops; my worries and concerns over him; my delight in his development; my pregnancy this time around; my delivery experience last time; what I still need to acquire for baby no. 2…

What do I read? The strong willed child, Eating well when you’re expecting, The baby’s table…

What do I think about? Am I feeding my son nutritious foods enough? Did I dress him warm enough this afternoon and maybe not which is why he has a cough? Are the renovations we’re undergoing going to be over and dealt with by the time the baby arrives? Is my husband going to be able to take a couple weeks off?

You get the picture – I’m not thinking about whether or not I’m attractive today to somebody other than myself and possibly my husband. I almost forgot what it felt like to be admired by the opposite sex. Don’t get me wrong, I’m content to have my husband tell me I am beautiful and happy that we are still very much attracted to each other, but there’s a certain level of satisfaction that comes when a good-looking male smiles at you and not your breasts either. It happened the other night as I dashed into London Drugs and caught me completely off guard. It had been longer than I can recall that someone didn’t avert their eyes as soon as they saw my bulging belly. I felt slightly embarrassed as I started to smile back, sure that he would see my belly and feel embarrassed himself. Whether he noticed my belly or not, I glowed the rest of the evening because I had recaptured an essence of the woman I used to be before my world shifted from me to my sweet boy. It reminded me of the things I used to do because I enjoyed them – because of the satisfaction they brought me. So much of the time, my enjoyment is centered around my son and while I am so thankful for this short time I have with him being so little, I realized in that brief encounter how important it is for me to not lose sight of myself as an individual. Motherhood is a very big and all-consuming aspect of that but still only one of the things that defines me.

I am also a wife; a lover and partner to my husband – my best friend with whom I am on this life journey. Together we are experiencing, learning and growing.I am a dancer and a writer and hope to develop my skills in both areas and bring more positive attributes into my life therein. I am also eager to learn about my world and how I can form the best life I can in it now and beyond my motherhood days. I love people and I love community. I love intelligent conversation. There is so much that makes up an dynamic individual and I want to experience life in full as a person who is embracing all aspects of myself. I want to be a good mother, a loving and respectful wife, a person with hobbies and goals and I want to look and feel beautiful, even sexy now and again!

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The beautiful journey of today can only begin when we learn to let go of yesterday. ~ Steve Maraboli

The view from Boat Nook, Pender Island

The view from Boat Nook, Pender Island

This is a story of the unexpected turns that life takes and the journeys that lead us to new resting places.

Pender Island was home to my husband and me for three-and-a-half years. We came as a newly married couple and left as parents to a eight-month year-old boy. The island has a timeless, unchanging quality about it, comforting and reassuring. Our days there are cherished and held closer to our hearts than can be often expressed.

We really felt we would be on Pender, well for good. We were looking at properties to potentially buy only weeks before we left. We were well established in the community, had good friends and a thriving business. Our sudden move came almost out of nowhere. Our main reasons for the decisions were feeling that running a business was taking away from our time together as a family and also thinking ahead to what we wanted for our futures (career wise, opportunities for our children, etc.). But I realized only a few weeks ago that there was another reason I was unaware of.

I want to share this story because I feel that it is a continuing of the healing process that I have been undergoing for the past two years. I have heard other people share their stories of challenges faced, pain suffered and the love therein experienced. We all have our stories and the world becomes a smaller place it seems when it is realized that we’re all on our unique journey of learning and finding joy and peace within our circumstances. I hope that my story speaks to your own untold tales in which you may be still seeking understanding and peace.

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Pender is one of those places you can leave your car door unlocked with the keys still in the car. The slower pace and small community suited Jesse and I just perfectly. After our first year there, we were familiar faces in the community. I worked at the grocery store and Jesse was one of the few plumbers on the island. We dove right in to getting involved that first year and spent every Friday night of our summer there at the pub, singing and competing in the Gulf Island Idol competition. Go ahead, you can laugh. We acted in a comedic theatrical production and swing danced in one of the talent shows. Jesse would join the Ultimate Frisbee games whenever he could and I took up pole dancing with a private instructor. There was so much to be a part of and there was a sense of kinship amongst island folk. We all had to deal with the ferries, we all hunkered down with candles and the wood stove during power outages and we all basically knew each other on some level or another.

Jesse and I found out we were expecting at the end of August, 2010.We were among some 11 other couples who also eagerly awaited their bundles of joy. I was the happiest and fittest I had ever been when I got pregnant. We taught dance lessons while I was pregnant and spent many happy hours dreaming of our future with our little one. We would take our child to the Medicine Beach to play, he or she would be friends with so-and-so’s baby and go to Pender Elementary School.

I didn’t realize the week before I went into labour that my baby was growing sicker and sicker within me. A day or two after suffering from the flu and being bedridden with a fever for two days, I went back to work at the grocery store. The day I went into labour at 32 and a half weeks, I fretted over the phone to my mom about whether I should go on mat leave early. I didn’t want to put out my co-workers but there were many different sickness bugs passing through the store and I didn’t want to put anymore strain on my baby and my body. Too little too late. By the time I realized the contractions I began to experience following my phone call with my mom could be the real thing, we were minutes from missing the last ferry out. And miss it we did. By this time, labour was in full effect and I was hunched over in pain. We waited at the clinic on island for the on call doctor to arrive. The clinic did not have the amenities for delivering babies so it was determined that I would have to be helicoptered off the island. An ambulance raced us over to the helicopter pad and as I was wheeled out, I called for my husband.

“He can’t come, it’s too risky in this wind,” said one of the paramedics. “He will have to come on the first ferry over.”

“I’ll call your mom,” said my husband as the helicopter doors shut.

By the time I arrived at the hospital, I had gone from  two cm dilated to about six. I was not managing the pain well at all and asked for an epidural. After a failed attempt at correctly inserting the needle, I finally got my injection. But I never got to feel the relief because shortly after, my baby’s heartbeat started to dramatically drop. Amidst the delirium of pain that I believe must have been compounded by the realization that my birth plan was going completely wrong, I just figured that their equipment was just malfunctioning. To this day, I still wonder if the blindfold of denial had already blanketed my conscience as it was apparent that something was dreadfully wrong with my baby. As they wheeled me down the hall for an emergency caesarean section, I cried.

The series of painful memories that followed waking up from surgery came home with us to our island home. In the weeks that followed, I sat in our house, reliving every moment, replaying the movie reel over and over in my mind until I had compact snapshots of memories that still haunt me today. I thought about waking up from surgery and asking where my baby was. I thought about holding her stiff body for hours after, not even believing that she was actually gone. I thought about watching her being wheeled down the hospital hallway, away from me forever. I thought about that first night as the devastation of what had happened finally sank in and my body heaved with wrenching sobs and cries. It was the beginning of the heartaches that followed once life had “resumed” on Pender. I watched each of the other expecting parents have their baby. As time went on, I watched my friends with their little ones chatter about what their babies were up to. Every time I saw them, I couldn’t help but imaging that my Shaely would be be learning some of the same skills or as time went on, have little play dates with them. The beautiful spell under which we had glowed and thrived on Pender had been broken. As life began to come back to me and I experienced the birth of my son, I found a place to rest my sorrows and focus anew. But when you have a baby 10 and half months after losing one, there isn’t much time or room for healing to happen. I realize now that this is part of the reason that I needed to leave Pender. For all the beauty, good friends and enriching life we had there, it had become a place of deep sadness and depression for me.

So here I sit in my home in Gibsons. My little boy runs around the house, amusing himself with a whisk, a play station controller, a link roller, anything and everything. My belly is starting to tighten as my third baby in three years grows within me. I am happy and feeling myself finding little bits of understanding and peace with passing time. But it is that time of year when I am reminded from where I have come. This Saturday marks two years since losing our Shaely. How much has happened, how much I have changed. I feel ready to go back to Pender for a visit although I am also nervous for the feelings that might await me there. It too must be part of the process and the journey I am on to find peace and understanding.

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The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine. ~ Mike Murdoch

There is a season…

I am in the season of constant mothering. I am fulfilling my need to love and nurture a little one and soon two little ones. My day begins around 6 a.m. although sometimes my son wants to start the day even earlier to my groggy dismay. His happy squeals, as he tromps around his home, are music to my ears. He reminds me throughout the day to take great joy in life’s little treasures that can be easily overlooked and squelched. To him, a bare patch of skin is a delightfully seized opportunity to blow a zerbert or as as we call them “ferberts.” Our days are spent reading stories, doing housework (we’re still working on “clean-up time”), going to the park (his newly discovered favorite place) and playing independently. For me, playtime usually means a brief look on Facebook or organizing some corner; not nearly as exciting as the discovering going on in my son’s world but a break in the routine nonetheless. Except that, even those snippets of time are part of the routine itself.

I have found both comfort and boredom in “the routine.” It’s been easy enough to pinpoint where my days are lacking excitement and are even dull at times. But just the other day, I realized how much comfort I get out of our routine. Stay-at-home parents, you can probably relate to what I’m about to share, at least I hope so!

It happened first thing one morning as I went about making Shae breakfast. As I picked him up to put him in his highchair, my hand automatically went to turn on the dining room light but it was already on. I stood with my hand wavering over the light, confused and after a moment made the motion of swiping the switch anyways. I have become so accustomed to turning on the silly light just before I put my son in his chair and it already being on tripped some well worn route in my brain. And if that wasn’t enough to make me roll my eyes at my ridiculous need to keep within habit, my husband and I went to bed earlier than usual that night, without enjoying any of our usual unwind and alone time together. I was tired but I just wasn’t ready to turn in. Something was missing. And I realized that I had developed not only a routine of comfort for my son, but for myself as well! Oh Lord…has my world become that small and redundant? I didn’t realize as I embarked on this journey of parenthood that adjustments to my lifestyle such as these would occur. I mean, you expect your days to be preoccupied with little ones; you expect to not have much time to yourself; you expect to make friends with other moms and talk about your little ones more than your career objectives, but I could have hardly expected that my world would be a little thrown off if I didn’t turn the light on at the right time! I’m not saying by any stretch that I wouldn’t have been able to function if I didn’t “pretend” to turn it on, just more that making even the sweeping motion set things “right” in my brain. “B” follows “A,” chair follows turning on the light.

The realization of such things gives me a chuckle or two at my need for silly routines. Maybe they’ve always been there and are just illuminated in the light of parenthood. Because parenthood, I’m finding, does throw your world a little. I find myself so focused on the needs of my son and creating the most convenient schedule I can for both him and me. It’s a lifestyle of routine that doesn’t always have an intelligent reason for being, but it somehow works.

It is a season and and I aim to make the most of those days filled with silly ways because as my son is teaching me, there’s so much in which to take delight.

courtesy of executivehomemaker.com

courtesy of executivehomemaker.com

Just laugh

If you wonder where your child left his roller skates, try walking around the house in the dark.  ~Leopold Fechtner

At last, my boy is down for his nap. My husband and I woke this morning before our son, for a change, and enjoyed breakfast and coffee together in the uninterrupted quiet of morning. What a way to start the day. Usually, Shae comes into bed with me when he wakes and we snuggle until he decides it’s time to get moving. Then I drag myself, bleary eyed out to the kitchen and start fixing some breakfast for him and coffee for me.

Things were off to a good start this morning and have been pretty steady since except for a ridiculous stream of events at which I just have to laugh.

My husband lost his keys a week ago (actually we were pretty sure Shae made off with them because the last time my husband saw them was in our little guy’s inquisitive hands) and has had to take our other vehicle to work all week. Since then, I’ve been spending a small portion of each day searching for them.  I figured today while I look, I’ll keep my boy amused with some Baby Einstein. But what do you know, the controller I saw Shae playing with this morning is no where to be seen. “Ok, Shae, where is your hiding place?” I lumber around looking for two items now. After some 15 minutes of bending my pregnant belly over this and looking under that, I remembered that I didn’t really give a good look behind that box in the closet so I pull it out. There is nothing there but a glance inside reveals what else but the elusive keys! It only makes sense that they were there too because this box had been previously sitting open in the hallway. Where else would it make sense for my smart little boy to put on of his “toys” but with the the other toys? I laugh and call my husband to tell him the good news. But I’m still missing a controller and am quite irked by this. Eventually, it turns up too – behind the bedroom door. I roll my eyes at the last 15 minutes I had spent lifting this and picking up that, sure that it was cleverly concealed. At last, I can get on with my day. Shae’s looking a little thirsty, I think to myself. Where is that bottle? As I write this, I still haven’t found the bloody bottle.

What is the point of telling you all this? I could get very easily flustered and put off by it. I mean, my plans for baking were pushed to the back burner while I spent almost my entire morning searching for misplaced items. But instead, I am trying to accept the circumstances and even bless them. I read about this in my Simple Abundance book. Basically, life happens, days go awry and you can expect it. So instead of letting those off days get the better of you, why not take them in stride? My ridiculous morning was aggravating at the time, but I don’t feel anxious because I didn’t get my baking done. Maybe disrupted baking plans wouldn’t throw your day off but what if you had your mind set to do something and you really had “all your eggs” in that basket? Chances are, you might be a little irked when your plans are overridden by some dippy search for your hairbrush because there’s no way you’re going to work with that rat’s nest.  If you can’t resist it, fix it – wear a hat or hair scarf. As for me, I’ll bake another time!

And for all you moms out there, I know you have your own collection of harebrained tales with children!

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