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Archive for the ‘pregnancy’ Category

A year ago today we left New Jersey for Ojai. We had a layover in Las Vegas (not recommended when traveling with a toddler who can’t stay away from slot machines). My son was chased by the gaming officials, knowing I couldn’t run after him at 31 weeks pregnant. Life was full of adventure and possibility after relinquishing control embracing the journey into the unknown. Tempted to post: “California or BUST!”  I remained silent virtually, thinking a woman in her 3rd trimester with a doctor’s note to let me on board should not tempt fate.

When we arrived in Ojai late that night, there was a feeling of finally being home. We were welcomed by little things my in-laws left (which felt like such big things) having been unsettled since Hurricane Sandy.

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We had been in Ojai a few months before, the same week Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast ravishing Breezy Point, where were living at the time. When we packed for our trip to Ojai in October, I never expected not to return to Breezy Point. It was surreal returning in late November to grab a few belongings witnessing the devastation and life stopping in an instant. My son’s colored teddy bears were on the nightstand beside his bed. The plastic jack-o-lantern remained in the window which my mom bought to entertain Evan and give the house a Halloween flair. There were clues of our life before, erased like the tides.

While I was in Ojai, I learned of the fires over social media. Never really understanding Twitter, I was glued to the page as news about #breezypoint was unraveling before news stations could report. I spent the night fearing the worst to the people in a community I loved for the past 34 years as images of a 5, 6, and 7 alarm fire rang through my mind in areas I knew like the back of my hand. We had only been in Ojai for four days when Hurricane Sandy hit. I watched CNN constantly, in disbelief when familiar faces were being interviewed. I wasn’t sure where we would go when we returned, touched by the kindness of people who reached out inviting us into their homes.

Ultimately, it was a call for change sooner than planned. If not for Hurricane Sandy and that period of uncertainty, I don’t know that we would have made it here. The period between February and June of last year was precious. It was a time of nesting, redefining ourselves as a family, birthing, and community building, to see if this was where we belonged. My husband and I wistfully spoke of returning to California every winter, but there was always something. The further we settled into our New Jersey lives, the harder it became to think about leaving. We had big conversations, realizing we could choose our journey and design our life around our growing young family. I wanted to experiment before Evan was school-age, or feared living with regret. There were strong urges to let go and release our belongings to lighten the load, just as powerful as the urge to nest overcame me in the last days of pregnancy. I trusted things would work out, and ultimately leaped.

I spoke to a friend who I met a year ago (this week). She has been on a similar journey, leaving her corporate job behind in Massachusetts to follow her creative calling and moving to Santa Barbara. When we spoke last night, it was her 4-year anniversary. There is significance in honoring anniversaries, especially ones for the resilient spirit. There is power in honoring the part of ourselves that is scared and called. There is power in acknowledging gratitude for the way life has turned out, bigger and richer than my controlled, practical, and planning mind would conceive. Anniversaries remind us of who we were and where we have gone. There is power in honoring a journey that is now a written chapter of life.

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I am re-purposing today. I wrote the passage below 4 months ago: (9/25/13), just before leaving New Jersey and my job. I write to remember where I am and make sense of it all. It helps me recognize where I am in the present moment, reminding me of where I want to go. Writing is my GPS for intentional living.

Last night I remembered why I like being a speech-language pathologist watching some local therapists run a Hanen program. This was my love over the past 9 years, but I let my programs go after motherhood. I couldn’t find the time with babies of my own, balancing full-time work, adjusting to a less-full time schedule, moving, and figuring out how many hats I could wear (writer, mama, coach, speech-language pathologist) without looking like this:

caps for sale

Could I still wear them all? Did I need to give any up to excel at the others? Was wearing all of my hats causing me to move at a slower pace with this balancing act?

I spoke with my virtual writing group this morning. We spoke of white space and empty vessels. I  require breathing room in order to clear my plate before starting a new dish.

Where do I find joy? How am I recreating myself post motherhood (with two children now in tow?). 

Here is a snippet of my journey 4-months ago in the midst of my biggest transition yet…

I am leaving in three weeks. 

My 26-year-old self returned to New Jersey as a new speech-language-pathologist coming into the profession idealistically bright-eyed, determined to change the world of communication disorders. I am returning to California a 36-year-old mother of two, only wanting to leave the world a more compassionate place.

I am in transition again. I am transitioning from speech therapy to coaching. I am honoring the journey of the last decade.

I am grateful for the Hanen program, making me a better therapist. I stepped into coaching and teaching. I was so scared and so called.

Then there is Mom’s chemo. I am leaving, and my mom is a few weeks into chemo. When I returned a decade before, she did not have ovarian cancer. I had not had a mastectomy, or known I had the BRCA gene. Ignorance was bliss. We are the same, and changed in an instant. Life is fleeting. There are no guarantees. Precious time is slipping away.

I feel called to work with groups. I want others to know we are not alone. We have a story to tell, and we have companions on this journey. We are held. We hold. We are all interconnected.

I wanted to hold my families who wondered if their children would ever talk. My energy held them for so long: after the long evaluations when I’d see suspect Autism, after realizing a child might be deaf, I held their fears close. I wanted to hold all of these families until it became too much, and I felt myself going numb. I felt myself shutting down. There was no room to hold anything anymore. I was ready to throw my hands up in the air and let it all go.

I adored my Hanen families. I loved them for showing up. They had babysitters. They were committed. They were my reason for staying.

They inspired me to teach other professionals, they believed this work had value. I felt aligned with my vision. I felt the call to teach. I stepped into the role even when I felt too small and overwhelmed by life. I taught big workshops then went to the doctor the next day for another biopsy for a suspicious malignancy. My love of this work kept me from losing my mind on the journey. I gave a workshop to a group of 100 teachers when I was 37 weeks pregnant with Evan, scared I might give birth, wondering if the teachers were taking bets on when I would pop. I left for my maternity leave feeling complete.

The system has changed. Billing, logistics, more paperwork, liability, proposed budget cuts. I want to escape it all. I feel constricted yearning for expansion.

Since becoming a mom, I don’t want to be a super-SLP. I just want to be a place of compassion. “You are doing all right. This his hard. I hear you sister. I am not the expert on potty training – my son has taken over a year, and you have no idea how much I bribed him. It is hair-pulling work.”

I bring forth my gifts by writing to understand them. I want to show others I struggle. I am far from perfect, or even good enough on my best days. But I am enough. I don’t need to over-do to prove it to myself and win the busy-game. I am taking a time out. I don’t want to be too busy anymore. I’m not too busy.

I am leaving because it is time.

My family calls me. A next chapter calls me. I am freaking out (scared) and taking a huge leap of faith (called).

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The past few years, I have chosen “words of the year.”

My practice began in 2011, shortly after giving birth when I chose SIMPLIFY.

Then in 2012, with a strong urge to begin living with less – it was UNENCUMBERED (although it could have also been CHANGE).

Last year with the help of Susannah Conway’s Unraveling the Year Ahead, I came up with BIRTH/CREATE (maybe obvious considering I was gestating).

And this year, I have two. I was not one of the bloggers who shared their word/(s) on New Year’s Day, as I was still contemplating mine. I could sense two distinct energies coming up with neither one overpowering the other, rather wanting to remain conjoined.

At my coaching mastermind retreat in Sedona last month, I met another coach doing groundbreaking work. Her practice supports women recover divine powers by connecting with their pelvic bowls (so much more coming about this, as it’s become a new fascination). She taught the functions of our ovaries are the point of creative power: the right and left ovaries each holding different energies.

I told her my story: having an ovarian cyst the size of a grapefruit misdiagnosed for months when I was 9-years old. Ovarian cysts like mine are rare pre-puberty. My cyst stumped the teachers, school nurse, and doctors asking about problems at home or in school. I was having problems in both, as I frequently rocked in the fetal position to alleviate the pain. I was hospitalized for a week before it was discovered, and immediately removed with part of my ovary. My scar resembles a C-section. But more than my physical scar, the conversation between my mom and surgeon was stitched into my memory: “Will she be able to have children?”

“Only time will tell,” he answered.

I had just learned about ovaries that summer. My love of Judy Blume books prompted questions to my mom. My “talk” was a drawing of 2 ovaries and the egg traveling through the fallopian tubes. I’m wishing we kept that sacred diagram for posterity with ovaries, birth, and cancer present in our family tree. I will deal with them when I’m ready, I’ve promised my parents, doctors, and anyone else who broaches the subject as my own interest in their dance and my pelvic bowl increases.

And so this year I have 2 words.

My right ovary shouts:

OWN IT!

OWN IT!

A friend shared this post with me, which captures my Madonna-inspired intention. Bring on the ROAR! The call to step up, play a bigger game, and all of the other phrases which I simultaneously resist. But “OWN IT” to me means more. It is about “enoughness” and taking responsibility. It is the call to move into being generative and teaching, leaving the hungry seeking student behind. It is calling me out of the shadow where it is more comfortable to observe asking me to share my gifts for the greater good.

CULTIVATE

CULTIVATE

CULTIVATE is my other word. This one feels rooted like a tree. It is the fertile soil of the constant gardener who has been toiling each day although you might not yet see the fruits of her labor. It is the one who continues to show up, branching out in a new community, connecting with people who inspire her, and taking little gentle baby steps each day. CULTIVATE is a word that speaks to my motherhood and the delicateness of raising children. CULTIVATE is the calm and quiet word which says, “Yes, I will show up again tomorrow and keep going.”

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Humble Badass.
(BTW: I’m totally stealing this from an inspiring friend in transition).
What exactly is a humble badass you ask? She is one who moves through transitions gracefully like Jane of the Jungle swinging from vine to vine. She is grounded and steadfast, clear with her vision even when life shakes her up a bit. Aaaahhhhh (sigh) or aaaahh!!!! (SCREAM!) – she grows.

I am bringing my humble badass to motherhood. Becoming a mama of two is easier and harder in the same breath.  I am more seasoned and more frazzled. I cry in frustration but quickly surrender to the chaos. When two children are crying, a crying mother doesn’t pacify the moment.  Birthing was the easy part. Mothering is more challenging. I wonder where time goes. Sunrises melt into sunsets with the hours between a blur. I feel the tug of war between kairos and chronos time wondering why I can’t get more done, recognizing inevitable growth anyway.

Baby Charlie came Easter Sunday.  In the days before she came, I resisted her arrival. I was scared and felt unprepared. Her bedding wasn’t washed. The car seats were not re-adjusted and installed. Despite nesting like a madwoman, I was emotionally not ready. I feared the pains and passage of laboring. I was scared of her coming in the middle of the night, or en route to the hospital after meeting a midwife who birthed her second child herself.  During the full moon days before, I prayed for her to stay inside bargaining for another day. I promised to be ready by Easter.

I’m thankful labor started in the morning. I woke up and showered feeling mild contractions. I was calm and prepared. My bags were packed and the car seats were now installed. Her bassinet was ready, mirroring the Easter basket beside it. The soon-to-be-big brother ran next door to my in-laws where he relished in the last hours of being an only-child-prince at the party, especially with his cool aunts and uncles in town. 

Saying goodbye to Ev as we left for the hospital Easter morning

Humble Badass moment: saying goodbye to Ev while in labor on way to hospital

I did not shout or cry while laboring. Breathing and moaning through the contractions were easier than resisting them. I listened to a birth meditation CD on the drive to the hospital, inhaling deeply and visualizing the release of all pain. I arrived in active labor 45 minutes later, 4-5 cm dilated and progressing quickly.

I remained undecided about pain management until the pressure escalated. Half of me wanted to experience a natural birth, while the other part wanted the contractions to subside.  My pain-free side won. I wish I had been stronger like the earthy midwife, but there were gifts for my humble badass-self in a painless labor too.

I created the birth mandala I had been obsessing over for weeks in just hours before Charlie arrived, moving from left brain control to right brain intuition in the process.

what a painless labor looks like...

Humble Badass: cool as my ice pop creating a birth mandala before giving birth

Humble Badass: not yelling at my doula/husband for watching the Final 4 while in labor because I was feeling A-OK.

Humble Badass: totally okay with my doula/husband watching the Final 4 while I labored because I felt no pain
Humble Badass: Asking for a crystal foot rub when I could no longer feel my feet

Humble Badass: Calmly requesting a crystal foot rub when I could no longer feel my feet

c birth 7

Aside from my blue-eyed baby girl(!!), the completion of this birth mandala was a precious gift and memory from labor. It was my focal point during the five minutes of pushing. Charlie came in 3 contractions. After the second, my OBGYN told me I might be the first woman he witnessed to have a painless labor if I pushed with all my might.  Like a humble badass, I obliged. It was totally surreal how quickly she wanted to come into this world.

Utterly Humble Badass: her arrival

And two months later, Charlie’s favorite place to be is still this close to me. Initially frustrated when she did not take to the swing or stroller for some time to myself, I began to read her own needs. I allowed others to hold her realizing I’m not an octopus, borrowed a friend’s Moby wrap for kangaroo care, and gained a new appreciation for the phrase: it takes a village. I am so grateful for the moms who have come into my life the past few months. You have been my sanity and support and are totally humble badasses even on the days you may wish for a do-over.  That’s the dose of humility in our badass ways.  Choosing and creating this journey called motherhood one moment at a time…

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In the days before meeting a new child, moms (and moms to be) become slightly batty.  I stare at cleaning products in ways I have not since I scrubbed the garage floor days before my son’s birth.  The time is coming and I’m choosing to nest in my own way, in addition to the traditional: (i.e., baby supplies, shopping lists, meals, and nursery decor).

With the birth of my son, everything was new and uncertain.  This time around, I’m wondering whether this might also be my last birth journey.  It’s a different experience wanting to capture this sacred time before it is quickly replaced by the hazy baby joys ahead.

Last night I experienced the beauty of aquatic Watsu therapy.  I recently befriended a Watsu therapist who invited me to her heated pool to ease my pregnancy pains.  A few weeks ago it sounded like a nice idea, but by this weekend I was officially stalking her.  I thought non-stop about her warm pool, and my aching legs were crying out for something more than a 5-minute massage from Mike.  I wish I could have captured the experience with pictures because it was wordless.  I was cradled by her while feeling completely free in the water.  I wondered if this is what being in the womb felt like, why would any baby want to leave?  With the baby floating and stretching inside, we shared this gorgeous experience where I felt totally at peace with everything to come.

Tonight there was the belly cast.  It was something my art teacher/friend had encouraged me to create on my last trip to her studio closer to the baby’s arrival.  I was on a mission tonight to actually do it (thank you to my husband/plasterer) in case it became a past regret with the passing of days.

belly cast

To top it off, I have had an obsession with mandalas which started this weekend.  I don’t know why mandalas, or how this even came into my consciousness, but they are finding me everywhere.  My friend (the Watsu therapist) asked what I’d use as a focal point during labor.  I shared my new desire to create a birth mandala, and knew instinctively it’s meant to support the baby’s entrance to the world.

I sought out more information about creating mandalas at the local metaphysical book store.  The owner guided me towards some resources and put a moon shadow stone in my hand as a gift.  (This was the third gemstone I received as a gift this week.  I’m loving the sharing of healing energy, and I’ll take all of the good ju-ju I can get.)

I have not yet written about my experience with energy from gemstones and what transpired in the weeks before leaving New Jersey and coming to Ojai, but there was another inspired experience here where I chose these stones: rose quartz, amazonite, and carnelian.

beads

I carried them for a month, with a strong desire to create a birth necklace mixing all of the energy from their individual elements.  It wasn’t until I discovered the perfect shop in Santa Barbara that everything fell into place.

necklace

So what does the journey look like tomorrow?  There is still a mandala to paint, a full moon meditation to attend, along with all of the normal things that come when the nesting instinct takes over (i.e., toilet bowls to clean and baby laundry to be washed and organized) although the routine trips to the pediatrician and a toddler’s haircut will also take precedence.  And in between it all, maybe there will be a new baby arriving too.  Just saying~

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I know it’s getting closer to the arrival of our little one when I begin waking up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep.  I like to think it’s my body’s way of preparing me for night-time feedings and adjust to sleep deprivation in the months ahead.  Here is what I’ve been up to when the sleep stops…

Discovering new blogs for inspiration.  Some of my favorites this week:

Some other great posts from the week:

  • Laughed so hard reading this one 
  • Cried with this post and even harder with this video
  • Truly inspired by what she is creating here

Then there’s Pinterest!  Before I woke up (at 3:30 am!) I was dreaming in pins.  Has that ever happened to anyone else?  Am I sensing a new addiction here?

Our family went to San Diego this weekend.  I spent the drive down pinning, and the drive home trying not to lose my mind with demands for the Mickey Mouse Hot Dog song on repeat followed by the question, “Do you like… (cats, wolves, sting rays, bears, turtles, nice ghosts, tigers, jelly, peanut butter, chocolate cookies, ketchup, mustard, mayo, blue lollipops, palm trees, me, etc.)?” from Evan for the last 2 hours of the trip.

Other highlights from the trip:

sunset

perfect sunset – Cardiff by the Sea

watching the cousins play

watching the cousins play

cousins2

Window shopping at my favorite stores on Cedros in Solana Beach.  Leaping Lotus had too many great finds, and I had to go back the next day after staring longingly at pictures from my Saturday wish list:

pillow love

pillow love

pillow love - and eventual purchases

pillow love – and eventual purchases

leapinglotus3 leapinglotus5 leapinglotus6

First piece of clothing I bought for our little girl...

First piece of clothing I bought for our little girl…

I'm still kicking myself for not buying this one for my writing desk.

I’m still kicking myself for not buying this one for my writing desk.

SoLo – love this store, but my shopping experience was cut short…

solo

I’m definitely in nesting mode.  I found myself staring at cleaning products today (which is beyond strange for those who know me), and I can’t seem to stop pinning cute nursery ideas.  So far I’m collecting things little by little, but will post better pictures once it comes together.

Here’s to a better night sleep tonight!  Sweet dreams~

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Sometimes I’m not sure what I want to write about.  My ideas are percolating, but they feel abstract.  I lose my words.  These are the times I excavate old journals to remember.

Sometimes this is what my writing really looks like...

Sometimes this is what my writing really looks like…

I am roughly 40 days away from the arrival of our second child.  Life is changing again as I know it, and I’ve been re-reading my journals from the weeks before becoming a mom looking for new clues the second time around.  I gave away the pregnancy books.  I no longer subscribe to weekly emails about what size my child is by fruit anymore.  I resisted “what to expect/countdown lists” in both pregnancies.  I choose to savor my lasts before celebrating more firsts.

During this second time of gestation, I’m enjoying the transition before the arrival of our newest family member.  And so the ideas continue to percolate, as this next 40-day journey unfurls~

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