*~*All Organic - All The Time*~*

Friday, November 30, 2007

Shameful Secret

I have a shameful secret.

When my friend, Deanna, admitted to me that she was watching American Idol, she swore me to complete and total secrecy. Then, that same year when our favorite, Bo Bice, didn't win first place, we both decided to get tickets to go to the American Idol concert. We had the best time, screaming like thirteen year old girls. It was a total blast.

The thing is, I was never ashamed of watching American Idol. Am I supposed to be? *shrug* It's pop culture, sure, but it's just a bit of harmless fluff. What's wrong with a little brain candy once in a while?

But now, I'm watching something that I really hate to admit. I'm not even sure why I watch it, what the appeal really is. Michael is totally appalled at my interest in the show and I have to TiVo it and watch it when he's not home. I even hide the title of the recordings, so he won't know I tape them.

I never understood Deanna's shame about watching American Idol. What was the big deal? But now I get it. I have my own shameful secret show now that I can't seem to break the habit of. Just thinking about telling people I watch it makes me break out in a cold sweat.

And of course, if I said it out loud, you'd probably laugh and say, "That show? That's it? Come on!" Shame is like that, isn't it? We feel it so much bigger than others do. Usually quite unnecessarily so. Our own demons always feel bigger than anyone else's.

So it's three in the morning and I can't get back to sleep. So what do I do? Turn the TV on and find the latest episode of my shameful secret show to watch. I feel like a kid sneaking downstairs to watch Cinemax in the middle of the night, the remote close by, ready to switch channels in case Michael wakes up.

So silly.

I guess we all have our shameful secrets.

(What? You really thought I was going to tell you!? Bwahahahahaha!)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Wordless Wednesday: November 28. 2007


Green Christmas

I guess I HAVE to start thinking about Christmas, now that it's almost December and we've actually got snow on the ground and everything.


Okay, so here's the plan...

I'm going to pretend that not putting lights up on the house this year is an effort to be more environmentally conscious. That goes for the easy, re-usable gift bags instead of wrapping paper, too. And the baking of pumpkin bread instead of buying gifts for extended family members. I'm also going to pretend that it's that pesky "evil lead in plastic toys from China" thing that's fueling my boycott on plastic &/or noisy toys this year. Oh, and it's all about saving gas money - that's why we're not going to try to make it to both families on the same day this year. And my live tree instead of a plastic one this year? It's all about the environment.


See, I'm not lazy... or cheap... I'm just... green! :D

Monday, November 26, 2007

Mommy Zen

I'm resting on my bed flipping through channels. Thinking about sleeping. But not. The kids are running up and down the stairs, screeching at each other and the dog, which pretty much precludes the sleeping part of our program.

Zoe opens my door a crack, "Mom, Dmitri's chasing me."


The door closes. It's starting to snow outside. Big, fat flakes.

"Mom, Dmitri's trying to color on me with a blue crayon!"


There's nothing on TV. I should get up and do the dishes, but every time I get up to do something, I remember I'm still not feeling 100%.

The door opens again. "I meant a green crayon. He's trying to color on me with a green crayon."

"Okay then." I just watch it snow. More interesting than Oprah.

What? You would have taken the crayon? You underestimate the power of mommy zen. Being, not doing. Trust me, young padwan.

"Mommy, here's the crayon." Zoe puts it next to the TV. "Dmitri wants to go outside and play in the snow."


"Can I go, too?"

"Sure." I listen to her bounding down the stairs and call after her: "Snow pants!"

And off they go to play in the big, wet flakes.

Yes, okay, so the dog's ear was a tinge green when he came up to join me on the bed. But, remember, crayons are non-toxic. Didn't you read the box?

Being - not Doing. The Art of Mommy Zen.


I thought my second baby would be my last, and so I made a conscious effort to remember all the "lasts." Usually, they were "last-firsts" because, really, who can really remember "last-lasts?" You know... last-lasts... like the the last time you were able to pick them up before they got too heavy to carry? The last time you tied their shoes, before they were able to do it themselves? The last time you saw them sucking their thumb?

Last-firsts are easier to remember. The first haircut, the first tooth, the first step. But then, I got divorced and remarried, and since he wanted kids and I wasn't averse to that, we had another. And another. And have talked about a third on and off now for five years. And I never knew if this was going to be my "last." My ex was adamant about no more. Two was more than plenty for him. But Michael would love to have babies until we ran out of space or time...

We've pretty much run out of the former, and are slowly running out of the latter... and I'm starting to realize, "We're really not gonna have anymore." (I think. :) But I never made a real, conscious effort to remember the "lasts" this time, like I did after Blake was born, because there was always the possible promise of another little.

Of course, I have pictures of most of the last-firsts. It's funny, I'm always the one behind a camera, rather than in front of it. For two main reasons, I suppose. One, I hate my own picture taken, and two, if I let Michael have the camera, he'd cut off everyone's head. But seeing all the lasts from behind a lens makes it feel a little unreal, a bit removed. I think the Amish are onto something when they shy away from cameras. I don't necessarily think they steal your soul, but they do steal part of your memory. Perhaps we rely a little too much on the image to remind us, rather than our own experience.

So I'm up at four in the morning, because Dmitri peed the bed. We're planning on trying to night-train him for good come Christmas vacation - going Commando, no pull-up. He doesn't do it too often anymore anyway and I wondered: "Is this the last time I'm going to be up in the middle of the night because someone peed the bed?" Not exactly a romantic "last" - but still, a "last" nonetheless.

I look at him and I see how TALL he's gotten, all the baby fat gone from him now, all the little lisps and cute turns of phrase disappearing day by day, as he takes huge leaps and bounds towards growing up. Autumn's seventeen and Blake is fourteen, and I can remember almost all of their firsts. I know (God-willing) some day I'll look back from a much, much further distance than I am now with Dmitrios. Time just keeps marching on.

I'm sure I'll even wax nostalgic about the last time he peed the bed. We parents can do that about almost anything. And by then, I'll probably be worrying about peeing the bed myself. From Pull-Ups to Depends? Ah the circle of life...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

10 Things I'm Grateful For When I'm Sick

1. Flannel sheets

2. Popsicles - especially banana flavored ones

3. Constant Comment tea - with lots of sugar. Well, Splenda, now. And a splash of milk.

4. A warm, soft down comforter

5. Ricola cough drops - have to be original, though, not lemon.

6. The kind of Kleenex with the lotion in it. Just don't try to clean your glasses with them. Bad idea.

7. Lite canned peaches and toast.

8. Aspirin. It's white magic.

9. Michael's touch. I think he was a healer in a former life, I swear it.

10. Leftover antibiotics. (I know, I know! But I always get sick on the weekend, when I'd have to go to the ER to get any, or suffer until Monday - so thank goodness for penicillin I forgot to finish!)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Dustbin Blues

The worst thing about having kids?

I can handle dirty diapers, crayons on the walls, broken keepsakes, peanut butter in the VCR, apple juice all over the keyboard...

But the thing I hate most... is germs.

I've been sick more since the beginning of September (when the kids, coincidentally, started school) than I was all of last year! That's a year's worth of illness packed into three months. What do I have to look forward to for the next seven, I wonder?

Right now, it's strep throat. Yay me. *sigh* A hundred and two degree fever, an all-over body ache and a throat that's on fire. Don't ya wanna be me? Just in time for the weekend, too. Perfect.

Yesterday, I was a cleaning maniac. Today, I'm Cameron in Ferris Bueller... "I'm dying...!"

"When Cameron was in Egypt's land... let our Cameron go..."

Michael made me tea (Constant Comment, my favorite) and toast and brought me aspirin. Looks like I'm going to spend the day in bed. Which, really, isn't necessarily a bad thing, when I think about it. Would be nice to catch up on sleep.

"You're not dying, you just can't think of anything better to do!"

Well, he's got a point. What do I have to do? Hm... so much for those Christmas decorations. Oh well, there's always next weekend.

Besides, I'm still recovering from the annual room cleaning fiasco. Four hours of cleaning, sorting, holding up tiny pieces of plastic and asking, "What's this to?... Do you have that toy anymore?... Isn't that the one you buried in the sand at the old house and then forgot where you buried it?"

What did I discover? Here's the top ten:

1. Six marbles to the chinese checkers game. Glued into the underside of Legos. I didn't, however, find the actual Krazy Glue. Yet.

2. Seven socks that I've been looking for forever tied in knots and made into a "rope" hanging from Zoe's dollhouse bedroom window (which faces the wall - no wonder I didn't see it!) Apparently, she did it during "fire safety week" at school.

3. A naked Fairytopia Barbie with two amputated feet (dog victim, I believe, from the markings) but Michael said, "She's still hot."

4. Zoe had the paper punch, two pairs of scissors, the stapler and four rolls of tape. It took me fifteen minutes to vaccum all of the "confetti" she'd made out of her school library book. I wonder how much I'm going to have to pay to replace, "Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends"?

5. Eight dollars and twenty-nine cents in change.

6. Four spoons, a very bent and deformed fork, and lots of peanut butter sandwich cracker wrappers.

7. The dog's leash (I wondered where that was!)

8. A line of McDonald's french fries along the baseboard behind the dresser leading up to a peach pit. It was like the perfect ant-highway!

9. A bottle of nail polish. Red. Thankfully, they couldn't get the top off.

10. Two pairs of tweezers, a slew of bandaids put on various stuffed animals, and last but not least, and empty contact case. I'm pretty sure they DID have contacts in them at one point.

Okay, I have a date with Ferris Bueller, a box of Kleenex, and a down comforter. G'nite!

Friday, November 23, 2007

I'm Going In...

Today is the annual cleaning of the kids' rooms and clearing out old toys to make way for new ones at Christmas. I hate this day. Almost more than I hate going to the dentist for a root canal. Not only do I get to find all sorts of things I certainly would have enjoyed staying in denial about - like silly putty embedded into the rug, a child's name written thirty times behind the toybox, or one (yes, just one--where's the other one? "I don't know...") of my grandmother's earrings--I also have to deal with the plaintive cries of children begging, "No! Don't throw that away!"

I don't understand why toy makers insist on making toys with such small parts for children. Or why my mother-in-law insists on buying them. When they were babies, I made a rule: no plastic or noisy/electronic toys. It worked great for the first three or four years. We had wooden cars and cloth dolls and a wooden kitchen set and lots of Haba and Melissa and Doug toys. It was a Waldorf/Montessori heaven.

Then, the kids got old enough to start asking for the things they saw on TV. And while I limited TV watching, they still managed to find stuff they wanted--and told grandma all about it. She couldn't resist, of course, and suddenly I had plastic Transformers and Dora the Explorer toys coming out of my ears. Great. Just great.

I'm almost glad that this whole lead-toys thing has come about, because now I have a wonderful excuse to reinstate my rule. "No plastic or electronic/noisy toys!" Not that Melissa and Doug stuff or Haba stuff isn't made in China. It actually is, sadly enough. But the good news is they do frequent inspections of their plants and guarantee their toys. And while I'd rather invest in local toymakers if I could, I'm happy to point grandma to lead-free toys that won't clutter up the kids' rooms so much and make strange, ghost-like noises at two in the morning when the batteries start running out.

So I'm off to brave the wilds of the childrens' rooms to discover disasters no mother should ever have to face, I'm sure. I have a feeling I may find the Krazy Glue that came up missing last week. And the two packs of cherry Kool-Aid that mysteriously disappeared. Wish me luck... I'm going in!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Meme

Sandy tagged me for Thanksgiving... oh right, like I didn't have enough to do making the orange-pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin bread, orange chocolate coconut carrot cake and the peanut butter fudge!?

Oops, I'm supposed to be thankful... right. Okay, okay. Attitude adjustment coming up!

Since she stipulated that we couldn't include our husband and kids (would I have included them? Hmmm... after Michael's tantrum this morning that I must have "done something" with the envelope he'd left on the microwave which he later found in his car... and the two littles who have torn up my perfectly clean house in just ONE day home from school... gee, I dunno!) I'll have to come up with three OTHER things to be thankful for...

1. The television broke at my in-laws. Just in time for me not to have to deal with football watchers on Thanksgiving. Woot!

2. I'm not putting up the tree the day after tomorrow, like we usually do. Why? Because a friend has offered to let us go to their Christmas tree farm and cut our own. I'll have a real tree in my livingroom, right next to the fireplace, for the first time since I was a little girl. I'm so excited!

3. Monday is the one year anniversary of Deanna's death. She was one of my best friends, and I miss her a lot, but I'm grateful I had her in my life. (Well I had to have one good, serious one ;)

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! May your day be filled with the sound of television parades, football (if you like that sort of thing) and a tremendous tryptohan-induced coma that includes unbuttoning at least the first button on your pants!

Thursday Thirteen #10: 13 Turkeys

13 Turkeys

1. Turkey (the country)

2. Wild Turkey

3. Jive Turkey
Golden Turkey Awards
5. Going
Cold Turkey
6. Fried Turkey

7. Turkey Jerky

8. Turkey Vulture

9. Turkey Trot (Dance made popular in the 1900’s)
10. WKRP’s famous
Turkey Drop (I thought turkeys could fly!)
11. Bowling Turkey: 3 strikes in a row

12. Turkey Shoot
13. And my favorite... Thanksgiving Turkey!

See More Thursday Thirteens HERE

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Columbo's Indian Parts

Sometimes we have to gently correct the misguided or overly P.C. myths that public education still insists on teaching... and of course, our children's interpretations of them.
Dmitri climbed into bed with me this morning, all excited about their school's Thanksgiving Feast today and said, "My teacher says Columbo took a boat here so we'd all know the world is round."

"Well, sort of. His name was Christopher Columbus. And in 1492, the year he sailed to America, was the year the globe was first invented. We pretty much already knew the world was round."

(The first globe actually noted in history was the 1492 world globe made by the German map-maker Martin Behaim.)

"He discovered pilgrims."

"No, the pilgrims came over a different ship."

"Well, he discovered Indians."

"Yes, that's true." Sort of. I decided that we'd discuss ethnocentricity and the rape of the Native American people due to the forward domination of the Europeans later.

"There's another word for Indians and that's Native Americans."

Ahhh the P.C.ness of public schools. "That's right."

"Grandma says I'm part Indian."

"Yes, that's true." On his father's side. One of Michael's ancestors was a Native American princess of sorts.

"Which part?" he asked solemnly. "I think my toes are Indian. And this leg. Doesn't this leg look Indian to you?"

Monday, November 19, 2007

Renewable Energy Coming to Michigan!

I was so excited to read that there may be a mandate requiring 10% of Michigan's electric power to come from renewable energy by 2015, and 30% by 2030. Yay us! There are twenty-three other states who have already set renewable energy standards (yay them!)

Michael and I have talked about buying land and building a solar home, something off the grid. Ultimately, I believe we will, at some point. But it's always so frustrating to have the willingness, but not the means, to accomplish something that I know will be so beneficial for us, our children, and our children's children.

It's heartening to know our state is catching up and jumping on the green bandwagon. There's some opposition, I guess, about wind power. Windmills and turbines might "blight" the Michigan landscape. Feh!

I think they're rather beautiful. Certainly no worse than fences or telephone poles. And what they signify--renewable energy--is definitely worth whatever aesthetic minuses there might be!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Vaccinate or Jail?

Parents in Maryland were threatened with jail time on Saturday if they didn't vaccinate their children. On the spot. That's right, nurses with needles were lined up and waiting... and so were police officers.

No, I'm not kidding.

I know I've already made my views on vaccinations pretty clear, but this just really goes too far. Last time I checked, personal freedom was a liberty we still enjoyed in America. Or... we're supposed to. Did someone invent time travel when I wasn't looking? Is this American 2007? Or Big Brother 1984? Perhaps Moscow 1930?

Apparently, immunization paperwork is more important to the police state of Maryland than the paper the Bill of Rights or the Constitution are printed on. Because that's what this is about. Paperwork. A bureacracy gone mad.

Maryland schools claim they've "sent notices" to parents, mostly of middle-schoolers who haven't received their hepatitis-B and chicken pox boosters (two of the most questionably mandated shots in the entire vaccine schedule, I might add) who haven't turned in their paperwork saying that 1) their child has been vaccinated or 2) they wish to waive the vaccination.

Come to find out that many of these parents had turned in their paperwork. Several times. The school, however, "misplaced" it. Oops. Sorry about that. Off to jail with you, school officials--do not pass go, do not collect $200. What? You're not sending them to jail for their paperwork error? Oh, but you're willing to threaten parents with jail time for not turning in paperwork they actually did turn in?

Filing that under "things that make you go hmmmmm..."

Oh, and get this. I love this. Many of these kids waited in line on Saturday to get a chicken pox booster so their parents wouldn't go to jail. Chicken pox--a vaccine that has such dubious effectiveness and value that the federal Immunization Advisory Committee could only rationalize making it mandatory in the first place by arguing that it would prevent parents from losing about a week's worth of time from work. In other words, it was an economic argument, not a medical one.

Now, the police state of Maryland is threatening to throw parents in jail for ten days because their children haven't received a vaccine mandated solely on the grounds that it would keep parents from missing work in the first place...

Filing that under "things that make you go 'DUH!'"...

It reminds me of the same logic vaccination proponents use when they argue that non-vaccinated children are putting other children and the public health at risk.

Um... hello!? If the vaccines WORK as well as the government says they do - then your vaccinated child is perfectly safe around my non-vaccinated one. Unless you went to the G.W. Bush backwards school of logic, that's the only conclusion you can come to.

And if you're going to accuse me of getting a free ride on the system, because a majority of people still vaccinate - I can tell you right now, I'm willing to live in an America that doesn't vaccinate. At all.

So call me a skeptic, call me a crunchy, granola fruitcake because I follow not only the hard evidence and research, but my intuition. Go ahead. But
I do have a sixth sense about this issue. I don't see dead people... I see dumb sheeple.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

What's In A Name?

Sometimes there are people who have chosen to go into my profession who really embarrass me and make me ashamed to say I have a license in psychology.

Psychology is, at the most, a "soft science." It is, really, more an art than anything else, at least for those who are truly good at it. All of the tests, diagnostics and labels are really an aside, mostly made up for insurance companies who, I think, frankly, should be outlawed.

But I digress.

I read about a study done, soon to be published in the Psychological Journal, which shows that name initials may influence grades.

First of all... someone's tax dollars somewhere, somehow, paid for this study to be done. That thought alone makes me ill.

Secondly... what!?! Are you freaking kidding me??

So you're saying, kids whose names start with a C or a D do more poorly in school than other kids? What about kids whose names start with E or F? Do they fail more? Oh my god, what about Z-named kids!?

*woppity woppity woppity* <---yeah, that's the sound of my head shaking in disbelief.

According to this study, "C's and D's do reliably worse than everyone else." Their conclusion? "This demonstrates the power of the unconscious mind in controlling behavior in certain situations."


Now, you watch, C and D names will drop off the "Top Baby Name" lists like flies, just like Baby Einstein tapes flew of the shelves a few years ago when they were doing "brain studies" on babies. Putting a BABY in front of a TV for hours to watch videos instead of interacting with them--THERE'S a good idea. For the maker of the videos, anyway!

There are some huge suppositions going on in this study here. As if our success in life is based on or influenced by an initial? As if success in life itself is based on school grades in the first place? I can't even begin to say what's wrong with this study... it's just... all kinds of wrong, all over the place!

And of course, the victims in all of this? The perfectly respectable C and D names out there. So much for David and Chloe and Destiny and Christopher! Now, thanks to the hard work and research of a few psychologists (*cough*) we're going to fill the world with more Amys and Brads.

Yep, studies like this one... just what the world needs more of!


Friday, November 16, 2007

Christmas Gift Idea #1

The following is not an endorsement...

It's a jar opener!

If you want to get a gift for someone who's got everything - this is it!
You should see this thing work. Stick the jar in there, it turns, and voila! Open jar!

I'm telling you... this could make men completely obsolete! :D

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Zoe's Birth Story

Green Style Mom is having a birth carnival.

Go add your birth story, too!


Zoe Mikhala
June 1, 2001

3:43 a.m.

18 inches long

I had a prenatal appointment scheduled for June 1 at our new house, where all the midwives would practice getting here, and we would go over our last minute plans of how we wanted the birth to go. On the morning of May 31, Michael said upon leaving the house, "Today would be a good day, it's Thursday, you know." We'd been joking for a few weeks that she needed to be accommodating and be born on a Thursday (he has Fridays off) so that he could take the entire following week and not have to go back to work until the next week. I laughed and said, "No way, she has to wait until June now, today is my sister's birthday, I don't want her to have to share!"

Instead of sleeping in, I decided to get up and get started on the things on "the list" that needed to be done around the house. Admittedly, it's an ever-shortening list, which is a relief, but after breakfast I started not feeling so well, having to run to the bathroom every half an hour or so. After about the third time, it suddenly occurred to me that this was probably a good sign that labor was going to begin at some point, maybe not today, but soon. Either that, or the thai food we'd eaten the night before hadn't agreed with me!

I hung around the house, kind of anxiously anticipating something, almost as if I could feel it in the air. Sure enough, contractions started that afternoon. Nothing major, a little bigger and more intense than the Braxton-Hicks I'd been experiencing, in fact they were so far apart and weren't so bad that I wasn't sure they were "real" contractions at all. The hardest part was not knowing for sure!

I picked the kids up in the afternoon from school, and noticed that I was having a hard time concentrating on what they were saying if I was having a contraction. Hmm... that was a good sign. Maybe these were "real" then! I tidied up when I got home, got a few last minute things together for the birth (just in case I'm really in labor, I told myself!) and started preparing dinner. Contractions weren't really close together, anywhere from five minutes, to eight minutes, and sometimes fifteen minutes apart. No real pattern.

Michael called at five, and I told him, "Well, you may be a daddy today." Even though I told him not to, he canceled his last client and came right home. I was afraid that it wasn't really labor, and I didn't want to disappoint him if it wasn't really it! I had contractions through dinner, through clean-up, through kids' baths and bedtimes, but again, they were anywhere from five to eight minutes apart, and while they were uncomfortable, I still doubted if I was really in labor.

Finally, I called the midwife around 8:30 p.m., just to give them a heads up. I didn't want to have to wake anyone up in the middle of the night if I didn't have to. I gave her all the information, and she told me that she would call all of the other midwives, and told me to sleep if I could, and if they got worse or changed, to call her back.

Michael and I decided that distraction was a good idea, because both of us were too excited and anxious to sleep, so we played Yahtzee until 11:30 p.m. or so. We went to bed, and I curled up with Michael and the contractions started spacing themselves out. Ten minutes apart. Then fifteen. I was sleeping between them, but then I'd have a contraction and it would wake me up and I would grab Michael's hand, which would wake him up, and he'd breathe through the contraction with me until it was over and I fell asleep again. It was a good system, and I think the sleep did me good. It did us both good.

At 12:30 a.m., interestingly just as it was becoming June, my contractions started picking up. They became stronger, and started waking me up every five minutes. In fact, I wasn't so much sleeping between them as I was zoning out. At 1:00 a.m., Michael gently suggested we call the midwives. I hesitated. I was still doubting that this was "it"! Maybe they would space out again between, like they had before, how did I know?

At 1:15 a.m., Michael was suggesting it more strongly, and after my next contraction, when I sat up and had to arch my back to keep the pressure off my lower back through it, I decided that it might be a good idea. He called them while I was in the bathroom, and I when I came out he said they were on their way. As soon as I knew that, I was somehow able to relax some more, which made the contractions seem a little more bearable. Of course, that made me think that maybe this wasn't really "it" and they would slow down or stop when they showed up! My fear was of being the little boy who cried wolf (or the woman who cried labor) but in the next forty-five minutes before they arrived, the contractions were coming regularly and were fairly intense, and I became pretty sure (finally!) that this baby was going to be born on June 1.

The midwives arrived at about 2:15 a.m, and of course wanted to check my progress, but I didn't want to move. Things were starting to pick up and it was becoming uncomfortable. I did anyway, of course, and she checked me both before a contraction (about 4 cm) and during a contraction (which hurt beyond belief, but I was 5-6 cm during) and after that, contractions seemed even closer together and were getting to an intensity I could barely remember from my other two births. Michael was having a hard time getting me to focus, and both of the midwives were giving pretty good directions (keep my voice low, relax my forehead, breathe, etc) and I tried hard to listen and follow their instructions, but things were getting fuzzy.

I have no idea how much time passed, but the pain went from "Wow, this really hurts" to "Oh my god, I'm going to die" so quickly that I didn't even have a chance to breathe. The midwives were still telling me to breathe through them, Michael was having me focus on his face, look into his eyes and breathe with him, and while everyone around me was saying how good I was doing, I felt like I was falling apart. Not only was I in pain, but suddenly I was really afraid. They had checked me at what felt like minutes ago, and I was only at 4, so these contractions couldn't possibly be as intense as they felt like they were, and I must just be acting like a baby. My fear (and of course I was doing the labor math in my head: this kind of intensity at 4 cm, times 1 cm per hour, that means at least 6 more hours like this?!) was that I couldn't possibly handle this much longer.

Then my water broke. I'd never felt that before. With both of my other births, my membranes had been artificially ruptured. I remembered the feeling, but this was different. This was pressure that broke the bag, and I said, "You guys, I think my water just broke" and oh my god, I remember contractions getting more intense after that in my previous births, but this was beyond anything I'd ever experienced. It felt as if the baby was coming, and not just coming, but coming right now!

I saw the midwives' faces, and the first question out of my mouth was, "Is there meconium?" She said, "Yes," and my heart sank. "A lot?" I asked. "A good amount," she said. They were setting up suction equipment, and I thought, well this is the thing, then. This is the thing that had to go wrong. Then, I couldn't think anything anymore. It all happened too fast. She decided to see how far along I was then, and she said, "Oh, you're a stretchy 7." Close to transition, then. I felt like I was dying.

The baby's head was now so low in my pelvis, I was starting to have the urge to push, but knew if I said anything they would tell me to breathe through it. I was afraid I couldn't do it anymore. Then they couldn't find heart tones. They were using the Doppler, but no matter where they put it, they couldn't find her. Finally, they heard something faintly, and thought that maybe the uterus was tipped too far back, so they wanted me on my hands and knees so that the uterus would tip forward and they could check it from underneath.

I was saying, "No, no" when she suggested it, but she was firm, and Michael helped flip me over I was amazed how good it felt to be on my hands and knees. The baby was low, really really low, but I was in so much pain that all I could do was grunt and moan. I had two contractions like that, while they were frantically checking for heart tones from underneath, and could feel myself starting to push through them, unable to stop.

The midwife had me flip back over and that's when I gasped and said, "The baby is right there!" She said, "Ok, I believe you," reaching for a glove, and suddenly I felt the familiar stretch and burn of the baby crowning. She was shocked and said, "There's a head!" Both Michael and I reached down to feel her head, wet and full of hair. They checked for a cord, and suctioned her there on the perineum because of the meconium.

As soon as her head was out, I was lucid again. One more little push and she was up on my belly. They suctioned her again, making sure to get any meconium out of her lungs. She was pale at first, but began to cry and pink up. She was born at 3:43 a.m.

I was shocked at how tiny she was! She was the smallest baby I'd ever seen, aside from a preemie. After the initial worry about her breathing (which was fine and clear from that point on), we slowly got to know her as I kept her warm on my belly and the midwives did what they needed to do, checking her, checking me, having me push to deliver the placenta (within about fifteen minutes after she was born). Blake, whose room is right across the hall, woke up when she began to cry. He came into our room, and I told him to go get Autumn. I was sorry they missed it, but we all nearly missed it, it went so quickly at the end! They were thrilled to see the baby, and crowded around to say hello to her.

She's a perfect little peanut, and looks just like Michael when he was a baby. I cleaned up while Michael held her, and then we settled back into bed and napped and snuggled for a half an hour or so while the midwives cleaned up and made some calls. They wanted her checked out by a doctor as soon as possible (which was standard practice for them anyway, but because of the meconium and because of her size, they were insistent that it be right away) so they made an appointment for us, and one of the midwives said she'd go with us.

Blake had gone back to bed, and Autumn was out helping the midwives prepare things. She was the biggest help to them, and is an even bigger help to me now. After the doctor checked her out and gave her a clean bill of health, I think we all relaxed a little bit. She weighed in at all of 5 pounds 3 ounces, which is slightly smaller than the minimum average (which is about 5 and a half pounds) and was 18 and a half inches long. Her head circumference was 12 and 3/4, which is on the small side and is probably why I had no second stage of labor. I didn't have to push her out, she just kind of slid right down the birth canal and into the world!

Her size is a mystery. The doctor said it could have been my blood pressure, which was borderline at the end, that may have effected placental function, and she may have been meant to be a small baby regardless. The good news is that she's healthy, and is nursing like a pro and hasn't left my arms (or someone's who loves her) since she was born.

I shudder to think what may have happened if we had delivered in a hospital. The meconium alone would have had her in the nursery for "observation" for 12 hours or so. Her size would have probably had her in the NICU, just as a precaution. It certainly could have been warranted. There are a lot of babies who are small who have a hard time holding their temperatures, who have hard times breathing. I was so grateful to be at home, with people who knew what to look for, who were willing to watch her and wait. She passed every test, and handled it all on her own, and they were satisfied with that and so was I. It was a relief and a blessing.

I can't tell you what a healing experience it was to have a baby in my own bed. In spite of the pain (which was much more intense, not only than I remember, but than I'd experienced before) and my fears of falling apart, which I would have had in or out of a hospital I imagine, I was able to have a positive birth experience, when I'm nearly 100% sure that it would have been a snowball of interventions in a medical setting that probably would have traumatized me, the baby, and my husband. I felt confident that although there were things we had to take seriously and pay attention to, the midwives would respect the normal process, and trust in my body and the baby's, and they did. It was a gift, a blessing, and a truly amazing experience for all of us.

Dmitri's Birth Story

Green Style Mom is having a birth carnival.

Go add your birth story, too!


Dmitrios Aleksandr
July 31, 2002
1:19 p.m.
9 lbs 6 oz
20 inches long
14 inch head & 15 inch chest

Our birth story:

All last night I dreamed I was having contractions. I would wake, and feel my uterus just beginning to let go of gripping me, and fall back asleep to dream of those waves again, going under and coming back up. I don’t think I woke to every contraction… just the “bigger” ones. But by 5 a.m. on July 31st, I was awake and pretty sure that going back to sleep wasn’t going to be an option! Michael woke and asked if I was having contractions and I reluctantly admitted that I was. We talked and cuddled a little while. I was feeling apprehensive about starting this process. I knew it was going to hurt and I knew it was going to be hard. I’d experienced labor just a little over a year ago with our daughter, Zoe, and here I was facing the journey again. I was also afraid of back labor, something I’d heard about and had supported other women through as a doula, but had never experienced myself. The baby was still posterior (and still kicking me up high during contractions between my ribs!) I didn’t want a long, drawn out labor. Could I really do this? Michael held me for a while and helped me get centered. He made a lot of sense when he said that it was better to get into a good mindset now, even if it wasn’t the “real thing.” That was always my fear, being the “woman who cried labor.” I didn’t want to alert anyone too early. Zoe, our 1-year-old, woke up around 6:30 a.m, and when I tried to roll over onto my right side, the pain was much more intense and sharp, so I decided to get up and take a bath. Water always felt so good for me during early labor. I spent an hour or so there, submerged as I could get, with a candle lit, breathing, breathing, feeling my belly rise with each contraction. I practiced the “breath awarness” that I’d learned from Birthing Within. I didn’t anticipate the next contraction, I simply noticed by breath during contractions and floated between. I wasn’t aware of time passing, but things were getting more intense. Oh yeah, I remembered what this felt like. This was definitely the real thing. I gave Michael some time to get Zoe settled back to sleep and told him to start calling everyone. “So it’s pretty imminent, huh?” he asked from outside the bathroom door. I smiled. “We’re having a baby today,” I replied.

By 8 a.m. I was out of the tub, feeling clean and good, and still having contractions. Our doula (one of them) showed up, and was very helpful feeding me, getting me to drink, having me up to use the bathroom. Her hands were fantastic, her words encouraging. She reminded me of the baby all of the time, something I always forget during my births as the sensations take me over, and I would focus on him, imagining his descent, his journey parallel with my own. I was on my left side for a long time (strangely, my right side, especially just above my pelvis, hurt a LOT, and we didn’t know why at the time. Speculation was that it could have been an arm or hand pressing there, but we couldn’t feel anything when we massaged, and later it was just too tender to touch) curled up against Michael with a pillow between my legs, and my doula curled up behind me, both of them stroking me, talking to me, reminding me to take them just one…. at…. a…. time…. I didn’t feel out of control, although I felt things starting to intensify over time. It was here that all of the breath awareness that I’d learned from Birthing From Within really helped. Staying present, grounded, centered, in the moment. There was no time, nothing else existed but these waves, rising and falling in my belly.

Another of our doulas suggested a bathroom break, and a hot water bottle on my back. My midwives arrived and the baby sounded wonderful, my blood pressure was good, and they didn’t need to do a vaginal exam. (I had requested minimal exams, if any, and didn’t want to know how far dilated I was because it has too much of a psychological effect on me. I start doing labor-math, figuring out how much longer I might be at this, and things seem to just fall apart!) They helped me labor, too, and the words “sink into it… good… relax your shoulders… perfect… you are sooo strong…” still echo in my head. They were incredibly encouraging, buoying me up wave after wave.I could hear Zoe in the other room, which was a distraction… my baby wanted her mommy! I had to remind myself that I needed to stay focused on my belly-baby. Thankfully, my mom soon arrived to keep an eye on her and my father also showed up! I was surprised when heard his voice. It gave me a moment’s pause but then I sank back into labor. At that point, Santa Claus could have arrived and I wouldn’t have cared! I was pretty lost in laborland by then, and getting excellent rest between contractions. I actually fell asleep after some of them, as did Michael. He would wake when I grabbed his hand or shirt and I started that deep, deep cleansing first breath. By this time, the room had been cleared of most people except our midwives now and then, and Michael and I labored together, moaned together. A few times, I couldn’t bear to be in bed anymore and would get up and labor standing, which hurt more, ohhhh wow did it hurt more, but I could feel the baby start moving down and down. The pressure was getting intense. I would hold our footboard and rock, rock, rock my hips lower and lower and was nearly squatting by the time each contraction peaked and then I would rock my way back up again and lean over the footboard and rest until the next wave. When I couldn’t stand the pressure any longer, I’d crawl back into bed again.

People came in and out, with quiet suggestions, encouraging words, soft hands. Our photographer snapped labor pictures from the corner. I was really just lost. It hurt a lot during contractions, I could feel my head spinning sometimes, and I would moan low and loud. A few times I could hear Zoe in the other room imitating me! That made me smile, even during contractions. But I didn’t feel panic or fear, which I was grateful for, and I didn’t experience back labor, just that strange pain in my lower belly that no one could account for which made leaning forward for hands and knees positions unbearable, along with that feeling of my body and cervix opening wider, wider, widest, as the baby moved down and down and down.

The midwives did check me once per my request but I didn’t want to know the “number.” I wanted her to feel for the sutures and see if baby was still posterior. She said my cervix was “like butter,” nice and open, baby was very, very low and either LOP or ROA. I found out later that at the time I was 7-8 cm (Michael couldn’t resist asking after he was born!) but I was still taking them just one at a time. The hands and knees suggestion came up again, and I said I’d try it. It worked for two contractions, although “worked” is relative, because the pain it caused was so incredibly intense. I suddenly felt like pushing and couldn’t help bearing down a little… POP! My water broke, not a huge gush, because baby’s head was so low. And getting lower every minute! That feeling of fullness and stretching began. I rolled over to my side.

Suddenly the room was a flurry of activity. I said, “Check me, I want to make sure its ok to push!” The midwife grabbed a glove but before she could reach in, I was pushing HARD. There was no way I could stop it. It would have been like stopping a freight train by holding your hand against it! She said, “Ok, baby’s head is right here.” But I knew that already. He was there all right. I called for the kids to come in, and the room flooded with people. He felt so BIG as I pushed, and with that push he was right on my perineum. Then came the burning sensation. I was saying, “It burns, it burns!” and they said, “Breathe through it,” His head felt huge, and I could actually feel bone against bone as he moved under and out. Someone showed me in a mirror, and I felt his wet, slippery scalp with my hand. My baby!! Pushing his head out was harder than any of my other births had been, and when his hand came out next to his face we knew why, and there was a good explanation for that strange pain on my lower right-hand side, probably his elbow digging in there! His head was out, but still there was that feeling of incredible fullness and I pushed again, and felt every part of him as he slipped out of me. What a relief! I pulled him up to my chest, and actually laughed. He seemed enormous to me, covered in vernix and starting to cry. He looked like a little sumo wrestler!

There were a few minutes when the midwives worried about bleeding and gave me some herbal remedies. Bleeding slowed, thankfully, and the placenta delivered in half an hour. That, too, seemed enormous to me. Michael said a blessing and cut the baby’s cord with his knife after it stopped pulsing, and then we cut off the twine bracelets we’d braided and had been wearing since my Blessingway ceremony. My perineum stung a bit, but no real tears, just a “skid mark.” Baby nursed within 15 minutes, perfect latch, and didn’t stop for an hour, when we got up to take our herbal bath. That was incredible, looking at him over my deflated belly, floating supported by my hands, submerged in water except for his eyes, nose and mouth. His eyes were wide open and curious. I fell in love.

After the newborn exam, (9lbs 6 oz, almost twice the size of my last baby!) slowly, people said goodbye and left. By 4:30 p.m., we were cuddled in bed together becoming a family of six. Autumn and Blake clamored to hold him. Zoe wanted mommy and I cuddled her and introduced her to the new baby. As I write this, he is nursing vigorously and is a little over 8 hours old. I can’t believe he’s here, that I’m not pregnant anymore, that all those months of waiting, planning, wondering, are over. What a journey it’s been… what an incredible journey we are about to begin.

Great American Smokeout Challenge

It's the Great American Smokeout.

I don't know what works to get people to stop doing things that are bad for them. I do plenty (although smoking's never been my thing) and I sure don't know how to quit. The American Cancer Society has lots of good ideas.

If you're out there, and you're one of the 21% of people still smoking, you know. It's not like it's the 1950's anymore, when everyone was doing it and no one knew how bad it was for you. So you know. And knowing doesn't really change anything, does it? I know. Addiction is addiction. It's not about the substance, and the knowledge it's going to harm you doesn't outweigh the benefits of stopping.

Until you're ready.

So all I can say is... be open to being ready. Ask the universe for the willingness to be ready to make the change.

And I'll share this with you. My father quit smoking after a quadruple bypass and a corotid artery surgery (90% blocked). He smoked 4 packs of unfiltered Pall Malls a day since he was thirteen. He quit when he was fifty-five.

He started going to the YMCA every day, and they asked him to write something for their local newsletter about his experience. Because he's dyslexic, he doesn't have any more than a 5th grade education, and he can't write very well. He asked me to do it for him. So I did.

This is what I wrote. Maybe it will inspire you or someone you know. I know it isn't easy. Nothing worthwhile ever is.

* * * * *

A Life Worth Living

Throughout the years, my family and my doctors tried to convince me that I was a walking time bomb. Of course, at some level, I knew this, but I tend to be stubborn, and not only that, I believe that part of me just didn’t care.

When I look back at the warning signs, I’m horrified: I started smoking when I was 12 years old, and by the time I was 52, I was smoking three to four packs of Pall Malls a day; I was diagnosed with high blood pressure when I was in my twenties; my cholesterol is abnormally high, and has been tested in the 800’s; I was diagnosed with adult onset diabetes in my early fifties; I developed arteriosclerosis in my legs in my late forties, making it impossible for me to walk more than very short distances; and on top of all of that, I have been 30 to 130 pounds overweight since my late twenties, have never paid much attention to a “healthy diet,” and while I was active in my twenties and thirties, playing softball, and working in construction and other manual labor jobs, my later idea of exercise consisted of walking from the television to the refrigerator.

I understood, intellectually, that all of these things might kill me. I did, at times, attempt to make amends with my body, by cutting sugar out of my diet, for instance, when I was diagnosed with adult onset diabetes. You can understand how all of my other health problems seemed insurmountable, however, and I became discouraged fairly quickly. It was only when the doctors discovered that not only was there a 90% blockage in the artery to my brain, I had 90% blockage in all four of the arteries traveling to my heart, that I really understood the gravity of my health problems. How was I still walking around breathing, I wondered?

I underwent two surgeries… one to clear the blockage in the artery to my brain as well as a quadruple bypass. The pain and incredible toll these two operations took on me physically was frightening and overwhelming. As I started slowly down the road to recovery, I became determined that I wasn’t going to have to go through something like this again… and I realized that I wasn’t ready to die. I quit smoking; I started watching my diet (although I’m still not as careful as I should be), and most importantly, I started exercising. I really believe that this act alone is the one that will continue to save my life. I joined the YMCA in order to have a place to go to exercise on a regular basis.

My doctors and my dietician told me over and over again how important it was to get regular exercise. I was very physically active when I was younger, but I hadn’t done anything close to “exercise” in fifteen years or more. I’m not a person that likes change, or who likes to try new things… and walking into the YMCA was a frightening venture at first! If I had joined an overpriced health club, or had tried it on my own, I don’t know that I would have made it.

As it was, the YMCA was difficult for me, and I might never have gone back, but the staff was supportive, friendly, and not only that, they were encouraging. At first, I could barely swim two laps, or run the equivalent of a block. They told me this was normal, to keep on going.

“Take baby steps,” one of the staff members told me.

I did… and little by little, I could actually feel the life coming back into my body. I had more energy. I wasn’t breathing hard after climbing one flight of stairs. I started feeling alive again. With all of the health problems that I had, and that continue to plague me, I don’t know how it is that I didn’t drop dead of a heart attack or a stroke.

I’m amazed every day, and I’m grateful for my “second chance,” so to speak. I know that my regular exercise routine has been an enormous part of giving me that opportunity, and having access to the YMCA and having the support and encouragement of their staff have made it easier for me to keep traveling that road toward recovery.

Soon after my surgery, my grandchildren had a birthday, and my wife and I bought them new bikes. My daughter had them call to thank me, and my grandson, a precious and rambunctious five, said to me, “Thanks, Grandpa, this is the best birthday ever! Will you come watch me ride it?”

I had tears in my eyes when he handed the phone back to my daughter, and she asked me, “See, wasn’t that worth sticking around for?”

All I can say is: absolutely!

Now, after regular exercise at the YMCA, not only can I watch him ride it, I can ride along beside him. I remember, now, why life is worth living. I’m going to keep on living it for as long as I can.

Thursday Thirteen #9: 13 Kings

13 Kings

1. Burger King

2. Stephen King

3. King Kong

4. Martin Luther King

5. King Dons

6. Larry King

7. King Tut

8. Lion King

9. Elvis (the King)

10. Don King

11. King James Bible

12. B.B. King

13. Return of the King

See More Thursday Thirteens HERE