We Made it to Week FOUR!

Week 3 (June 3 – June 10)

Esitmated Due Date: February 11th, 2013

Symptoms: Cramps, a very tender upper top half (okay, fine, I’ll say it…breasts), headaches, being super, unbearably hungry (but losing weight, which is nice, I guess), and the moodiness is still here (the hubs is already cowering in fear of preggers Kirsten). It’s very much like what I remember from being pregnant with E., though I think there is more general discomfort this time around. Lots of crampy twinges all over that I don’t seem to remember from before.

Body Changes: About the same as last week, bloaty and booby.

Cravings: My love for salty things continues. I definitely find myself hankering for comfort foods where as the idea of sweets doesn’t do it for me quite as much (though, again, I won’t turn down chocolate…ever).

High Point: Getting to meet with the midwives of in Bridgton. While the hubs and I have pretty much decided it isn’t in the cards for those lovely ladies to deliver baby #2 (darn insurance), they do offer FREE prenatal care and super inexpensive doulas (only $50!!!). We’ll definitely be seeing more of The Birth House for those reasons!

Low Point: This. Still kind of mad about it, too, but I think, assuming I can get into their practice, All About Women in Portland will be a good option for us. They deliver at Mercy Hospital and seem to have a pretty good view on c-sections and VBACs.

Paranoid Moment: Worrying that every little uncomfortable twinge is a sign of something horrible. I had myself convinced for about two days that I must have an ectopic pregnancy, but then I realized two things: one, it would probably be too early to know, and two, I think if I were dealing with an ectopic pregnancy I would know I was dealing with an ectopic pregnancy, not just worry about it.

What I did to prepare this week: I called and made appointments with a couple of places and am still waiting to hear back from another (All About Women). I also had, as I mentioned that appointment at The Birth House. While I’ll probably only keep one or two of the appointments I made (the others sort of seem pointless now that I know people’s policies of VBACs), it was a good experience to get in touch with all the places I did, because I have a better scope on what’s available out there for me in terms of maternity care (and what I need to start fighting for if I ever become some sort of lobbyist for women’s health organizations).

I also bought five books: The Pregnancy Book, by Dr. Sears (I have The Baby Book, which I love, and I wanted an alternative to “What to Expect”, which I hated); Birthing from Within (yep, bought a crunch/granola pregnancy book); The Breastfeeding Book, also by Dr. Sears (I never had a book on this topic when I had E. and I didn’t have as much success breastfeeding as I wanted, so I hope with will help); What’s Inside Mommy’s Tummy (a book for E.; she has lots of questions and I think a good book about what’s happening will be helpful); and A Baby on the Way, another one by Dr. Sears (Are you sensing a pattern yet? And yes, another book for E.)

What’s going on “in there”: Your Pregnancy Week-by-Week explains: “Fetal development is still in the very early stages, but great changes are taking place! The blastocyst is embedded more deeply into the linning of your uterus, and the amniotic sac, which will fill with amniotic fluid, is starting to form.
“The placenta is forming; it plays an important role in the hormone production and transport of oxygen and nutrients. Networks that contain maternal blood are becoming established. Development of the baby’s nervous system (brain and other structures, such as the spinal cord) begins.
“Germ layers are developing. They develop into specialized parts of your baby’s body, such as organs. The three germ layers are the ectoderm, endoderm, and mesoderm.
“The ectoderm becomes the nervous system (including the brain), the skin and the hair. The endoderm develops into the lining of the intestinal tract, the liver, pancreas and thyroid. The mesoderm becomes the skeleton, connective tissues, blood system, urogenital system and most of the muscles.”

Baby Drama

Have you ever had a picture in your mind of exactly how something ought to go and then have it dashed in one fell swoop?

Welcome to my day.

When I found out I was pregnant I had three places I was planning on checking out for giving birth, a birth that I had planned on being a vaginal birth after a c-section (VBAC) and I wanted to go completely naturally. (I have reasons for all this, but I’m not going to list them now, maybe that will be another post.) Those three places were:

1.) The Birth House in Bridgton, Maine
2.) My family practitioner, also in Bridgton
3.) Western Maine Midwives, through Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, Maine

Well, now none of these are on the table, except for maybe The Birth House (which was my ideal choice, but that is now dependent on finances…which we don’t really have). Let me explain how this all unraveled.

Let’s start with The Birth House, which, as mentioned above, is still sort of viable. The Birth House does perform VBACS, both at their birth center and at home. However, it will cost me roughly $2500. That’s $2500 we don’t really have lying around and insurance won’t cover it up front. They might however, reimburse us, which, honestly, doesn’t really help. The hubs and I have to discuss if we’re willing to pay this much when we could pay far less at a hospital.

Which leads me to option number two. Well, first of all, my family practitioner doesn’t do OB work. Fine. Well, maybe she can recommend an OB for me to work with? Well, sure, but guess what? Bridgton Hospital doesn’t allow VBACs. What. The. Hell??? Does no one know the freaking risks in repeated c-sections?? This is ridiculous!! I’m sorry, but I like my uterus, and the fewer people I have unnecessarily cutting it open, the better!

Now, I am by no means anti-cesarean. There are times when they are necessary. BUT just because you had a previous c-section does not make you a candidate for another. That’s ridiculous.

Anyway, once I realized that my FP wouldn’t be an option, I looked for another one. I had heard good things about the midwives and maternity group at St. Mary’s, also in Lewiston. I called, got an appointment, but while I was on the phone scheduling, I was told that I would have to have a c-section if I delivered at St. Mary’s. Again, no VBAC. No thanks!!

So, this leads us to choice three. I called, got an appointment for the the 15th of this month for an intake visit and then another “official” visit with a midwife. Sounded great. But after finding out St. Mary’s doesn’t do VBACs I decided to call CMMC back to see if they do VBACs. Well, they do. But not with the midwives. Which makes no freaking sense at all. The midwifery style of care is WAY more conducive to successful VBACs (as has been proven in numerous studies).

And that leaves me here, with no idea what I’m going to do, with few options, and feeling pretty crappy. I have a very clear idea of what I’d like my birth experience to be like. And I do understand there are always outstanding reasons for why a birth may not go the way wanted or expected, BUT there are lots of things you can do to help things go the way you want and I’m being kept from those choices!! It’s extremely frustrating and heart breaking.

I am going to call two more hospitals/practices to see if their midwifery groups are allowed to perform VBACs, but I’m not holding my breath, as it seems those practices that do allow for VBACs list them on their sites and the two places I’m calling tomorrow don’t say anything about VBACs on their sites. But we’ll see.

So, I leave you now with this thought: If/when you’re expecting, and you want all options available to you in regards to your maternity care, avoid a c-section at all costs, because, in some areas, once you have that done, you’re spent in the eyes of a lot of doctors and hospitals. It’s really, really sad.

Hello Mother, Hello Father, Welcome to…

Camp Awesome!!

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that I was going to tell you all about our amazing family camping trip to Northern Maine. And I’m going to do that, I promise, but it will be sans pictures because I cannot find my camera and I just really need to write this stinking post before I lose details that I want to get down! Maybe once my camera is discovered I will throw the pictures in as well.

On the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend, we all piled into my teeny car, along with all our camping gear (we’re not light packers, that is for sure), and drove the millions and millions of hours (or four) that it takes to get to…Well, technically, I think the town is Rockwood, or we were near there anyway. But once you get to Rockwood, you turn on to this endless dirt road and just drive. Forever. And ever. And eveeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeer.

It seriously was an hour of dirt road. Or more. And there was more beyond what we traveled. Like, miles and miles, until you hit Canada (which we nearly did the next day). Eventually you do come up to a ranger station and they let you in. There is an official title for where we were, but I honestly can’t remember. Where we ended up camping, however, was on Canada Falls Lake, and it was amazing.

If you’re going to go camping literally in the middle of no where, with no electricity, no plumbing, no phone reception, no internet, with none of the regular trappings of civilization, and aren’t used to it (and I’m one of those people), this was the place to go. You are fully emersed in God’s unbelievable creation (being out in the middle of Maine’s woods makes you a believer in some kind of higher being), BUT there are other people around. Nice people. People who are quiet. People who you believe would likely report to the authorities if you went out for a hike and didn’t return. People who are nice, don’t bother you, and have adorable, kid-friendly dogs that fetch rocks. The good folks. While part of me was a little bummed that where we camped was full of other people camping, most of me was relieved. We could still get away into the woods and enjoy the peace and quiet, but there would be people looking out for us, too.

And even if there weren’t a ton of people near our campsite, we didn’t go alone. My father-in-law, his wonderful wife, and her grandson (so, technically, E.’s cousin, though their not biologically related) joined us. They had been camping up that way many times and knew a lot about the area, which was super helpful. They were also awesome about taking E. and letting the hubs and I get away for a bit on the kyaks they brought up (more about that later). They all really made the camping trip. We enjoy spending time with my father-in-law and his wife, and E. had a blast with little J. (they’re the same age).

So, here are some highlights:

Saturday – The hubs and his dad took E. and J. out on the kyaks. The kids loved it out there, looked for fish, and got to paddle around a little island. When they got back they weren’t for a swim! While the men and kids were out, my father-in-law’s wife and I went for a walk down a path that took us winding through the woods, into fields, and past a lot of different animal tracks. Eventually we got out pretty far and felt a bit nervous so we turned around (we were afraid we’d go around a bend and run into a bear or moose!).

Later that day we went for a long drive down the dirt roads, looking, supposedly, for the Penobscot River. We never found it, but we did get up close and personal with a young deer who decided it would be fun to follow the car. We also saw two moose, a beaver, and a couple rabbits! So cool! It was all sort of like a safari, between the bumpy roads and the rarely seen animals.

Sunday – I snuck out early, early in the morning and snagged one of the kyaks and went out to the lake by  myself (but don’t worry, hubs knew where I was). The mist was still on the lake, it was dead quiet, the earth just starting to wake up around me. If I had any doubt about how amazing the world I live in actually is, it was erased out there. I couldn’t help but feel a presence of something so far beyond me and it was so uplifting that it brought me to tears. It was a truly amazing opportunity and I’m glad I got it. My soul feels refreshed just thinking about it.

The rest of Sunday was pretty relaxing. The kids played in the lake, and we did a lot of walking and fishing. That night after supper, when it was starting to get dark, we all took a walk out of camp to a field where the hubs and his dad set off fireworks. So cool!

Monday – We picked the perfect day to go home, because it was a pretty dreary, rainy day. We stopped at Pittston Farms, a little farm about 20 minutes from where we camped, sort of a last stop before you head deeper into the woods. They had a store and a little restaurant where we had a really yummy breakfast (you can’t beat home baked bread and homemade preserves). We had stopped in Saturday as well to check out the farm, where they  had horses, cows, and goats, which the kids thought were amazing. After breakfast we hit the road and arrived home very happy, but very, very exhausted.

I’m a huge lover of camping trips. As I’ve written previously, we’re planning a trip to Grand Isle State Park in Vermont in August and I’m so pumped for that trip. I’m sure we’ll go on several more as the summer goes on, especially since it’s a cheap way to check different places out! Next year I’m pushing for a camping trip into Canada or Niagra Falls. We’ll see!

Well, That Was Fast…

Let me start by saying this: Our family should probably buy stock in Clear Blue and First Repsonse pregnancy tests. I would be embarrassed to admit just how many I’ve taken over the last week. But when you’ve been waiting to be able to at least try to get pregnant for roughly three and a half years (I was ready to go when E. was about six months) and you think, maybe, when you take that first test, that there might just be a smidge of a line, you can’t resist the temptation to test…and test…and then test quite a bit more. You test, in fact, until one day you finally pee on a stick one morning and the lines that had formally been so very, very faint are not so faint any more (i.e. you don’t have to stand directly under a light and squint). That’s when I decided, sort of spontaneously that same day, to take one of the digitals I’d been saving for when I missed my period.

I don’t know what it is about the digital appearance of the word “pregnant” on a test that made what I had been seeing all week anyway more real, but somehow, at that moment, the reality of the situation hit me. I was, in fact, pregnant. All those pangs I’d been feeling all week, along with the exhaustion, were totally legitimate, not just the fabrication of a hopeful heart. I guess it was all the more surprising because this was the first month we actually tried. I don’t know why, but I always assumed that getting pregnant with number two was going to take forever. And I do realize that just because I’m pregnant now doesn’t mean it will stay that way. The earlier I know the more likely I’ll know I miscarried, rather than assuming I just got my period late.

That said…I really think this is going to stick. I’m not quite four weeks, but I don’t think I could feel more pregnant if I tried. And I’m really hoping the general, crummy, almost flu-like feeling I’m dealing with will dissipate after a couple of weeks (by the way, I don’t actually have the flu, in case you thought that; no fever!).

All right, let’s get to the good stuff:

Week 3 (May 26 – June 2) *

*This is just a guesstimate according to when I think I ovulated and when I *think* implantation might have occurred. Hopefully after my first prenatal visit I’ll have a better sense of how far along I am.

Esitmated Due Date: February 11th, 2013

Symptoms: Crampiness (I remember this from E.’s pregnancy – very annoying); peeing…a lot; very tired; headaches; swinging between feeling sick at the sight of food to being so ravenous I easily ate everything in my Chinese take-out meal last night; being very tender up top and already starting to have major changes there, too; very, very, very emotional…like, bad

Body Changes: Feeling a wee bit bloaty and my upper top half is experiencing some major changes as well, and it’s a pain, literally.

Cravings: Not much yet, other than I definitely am prefering savory over sweet. Anything too sweet sort of grosses me out, though, of course, I still love chocolate.

High Point: Getting repeated positive pregnancy tests all week!! And telling the family – E.’s super excited!

Low Point: Sobbing uncontrollably at work because I had to be an aid on an hour long bus run while I was already feeling incredibly naseous AND am very susceptible to motion sickness even without being pregnant.

Paranoid Moment: Worried that I’m jinxing myself by being so open so early about being pregnant and that this whole grand adventure will be done long before I want it to be :-( I’m trying to not think like that though and just enjoy everything, even though it’s making me feel lousy.

What I did to prepare this week: I got out ALL of E.’s old baby clothes and started sorting through them. More to do, but at least I got a start. I also started researching strollers since we’ll need a new, non-jogging one.

What’s going on “in there”: The folks at BabyCenter say: “What’s going on in your womb now? A lot. Your baby-in-the-making is just a tiny ball consisting of several hundred cells that are multiplying madly. Once the ball of cells (called a blastocyst) takes up residence in your uterus, the part of it that will develop into the placenta starts producing the pregnancy hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), which tells your ovaries to stop releasing eggs and triggers increased production of estrogen and progesterone (which keep your uterus from shedding its lining — and its tiny passenger — and stimulates placental growth). HCG is the hormone that turns a pregnancy test positive; by the end of this week, you may be able to take one and get a positive result! (If your test is negative and you still haven’t gotten your period in two or three days, try again then.)

Meanwhile, amniotic fluid is beginning to collect around your ball of cells in the cavity that will become the amniotic sac. This fluid will cushion your baby in the weeks and months ahead. Right now, your little blastocyst is receiving oxygen and nutrients (and discarding waste products) through a primitive circulation system made up of microscopic tunnels that connect your developing baby to the blood vessels in your uterine wall. The placenta won’t be developed enough to take over this task until the end of next week.

I’m slowly starting to make the transition to all natural, mostly homemade cleaners (in addition to moving out other unnecessary toxins that my family is exposed to on a regular basis). While I love my super basic vinegar and water mixes and scouring my sinks and tub with Borax and baking soda (it’s so freaking cheap!!), one of the major things that I worry about is bacteria. I mean, I have a four year old, for pity’s sake – there is bacteria floating around everywhere! While I do have a bottle of Seventh Generation anti-bacterial surface cleaner (which is supposed to be safer than other brands), I was hoping to find something I could easily make myself and is cheaper than nearly $4 a bottle.

Here was the solution:

The school/clinic in our area had posted this short little “recipe” on their and I couldn’t wait to delve in. The suggestion: Fill a jar with citrus peels (in my case, lemon and orange) and vinegar, let steep for two weeks, then clean away! Citrus, , has some antibacterial properties, as does vinegar, AND citrus is known to cut through grease and other nasty substances, so soaking the peels with the vinegar can make a powerful home cleaning remedy, and one that I’m happy to use.

So, why am I making these switches, slowly but surely? Because, one, it’s way, way more inexpensive to buy big ole boxes of Borax and baking soda and a giant jug of vinegar than it is to buy anything else, environmentally safe or not, and these cleaning supplies are toxin free. Kids these days are exposed to so much crap that I feel like it isn’t such a bad thing to bring all down a notch at home. I know I can’t control what E. breathes in the air each day or touches or is exposed to at preschool or other places, but at least at home I can rest at ease that what I clean our home and her toys with is safe.

Next step on my list of to dos: Find out how to safely dispose of the cleaners I will no longer be using but are still hanging around.

I’ve dealt with a lot of yucky, disease related stuff in my short time as a mom. I’ve been projectile pooped and puked on. I’ve endured long, unhappy nights of crying and peaking fevers. I’ve snuggled, made special couch “beds”, and poured cans of ginger ale into foamy, ice filled cups. But I’ve never dealt with them for as long or as urgently as I have the past couple of days.

E. has had a fever for two full days, the poor bug. We’re spending another day at home tomorrow and will probably be making a trip to the doctor’s office in the afternoon. I’ve been trying to figure out what, besides the usual, could perk up my little wilting rose (and keep me busy after I completed all the house work I could possibly find while she slept on the couch).

I decided to bake a Sick Day Cake.

I found a simple (and delicious) recipe in my Domestic Goddess cookbook (by Nigella Lawson) for Victoria sponge cake and used some frozen berries, defrosted, jam, and chocolate frosting to fill and frost the cake. And then I fed it to E.

It’s yet to be seen if the cake has cured her, but it was nice to see her cheer up a bit (and eat something, even if it was just cake) and feel a bit more like a little kid again and not Ms. Sicky Sickerson. I most certainly see this turning into a (hopefully rare) family tradition.

I’ve been aware of my body for a long time. I’m not sure why – I don’t have a specific early memory of someone saying something to me (but plenty of later memories) – but I’ve known for a long time that I’m not one of the “skinny” girls.

Maybe it was being surrounded by taller, slender little girls in ballet class. Maybe it was that most of my earliest friends were these wispy, adorable kids who had boundless, physical energy (when I would prefer to sit and talk or read or draw and “write”). Maybe there were subtle comments made by the women in my life about their own bodies that I subconsciously picked up on, their own insecurities unwittingly effecting me. All I can solidly recall is that early on, far too early on, I felt that there was something a bit wrong about my body.

That’s not to say that there haven’t been plenty of times in my life where I thought I had a great body, that was beautiful, useful, and that I loved. Two key times come to mind: my mid to late teens, where even donning a “plus size” 14, I felt incredibly attractive. The best part: I was able to realize that not only did I look good, I was confident and I was smart and a few people chose to find me interesting, rather than a bit obnoxious (which, really I was more of the latter). The other time was during my pregnancy. I’d never been more gigantic, but when your body is just so full and ripe and full of life, it’s hard to not feel a bit sexy and fertility goddess-like (and any goddess is pretty damn hot).

After my pregnancy, when I chose to do very little for a long time to lose the weight I had gained since I graduated from high school and then over the course of my pregnancy (plus, my stomach was completely and utterly shot – and I wonder if there is any number of crunches that will bring my formally flat, belly-ring worthy tummy back), my body image slowly slipped into a dark abyss. I’m not entirely sure if my confidence in my attractiveness had ever been lower. But I had to make a decision, because, after E. was born, I was not looking in the mirror, silently thinking critical thoughts just for me. I was thinking them for her as well.

I believe the way a mother talks about her body directly effects how her daughter will look at herself. If your little girl thinks you think you’re beautiful, she will think she is beautiful, too (especially if you reinforce it with your own words towards her). If all you can muster are cutting remarks about how you look, then how can your daughter help but assume she, too, must have inherited the same disgraceful features (especially if you’ve birthed a little mini-me, which I have)? I made the conscious decision very early on that no matter how I felt I would only speak positively about how I looked, and as I’ve been losing weight, I have tried very hard to emphasize the health end of things rather than constantly talking about weight and pants size. It also helps that my wonderful husband has no problem telling me that I’m looking good (which is often, apparently) and casually flirting with me in front of our kid (appropriate, maybe not, but at least E. knows someone besides Mama thinks she’s all that and a bag of chips).

There are lots of things that I want E. to know about herself: she’s brilliant, she’s hilarious with great comedic timing, she has boundless and wonderful curiosity that she must never, never lose, she is worthy of every good thing that comes her way and that she is strong enough to tackle any challenge laid at her feet, and I also want her to know that she is gorgeous, body and soul. She will probably be built like me, therefore, she will be short, curved, and cute, but the fashion magazines she might glimpse on our grocery store shelves and her endless collection of Barbies might place that little niggling feeling of doubt that she is “less than” – which she’s not, and never will be. Among all my jobs as her mother, one is to help her know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that she is “more than” in all areas, including her body.


(If anything is a sign of the self-confidence E. has in her own body image, it’s the amount of pictures I had on my iPad to chose from to put here. She loooooves to photograph herself or have her picture taken. She also spends more time in front of the mirror admiring herself than anyone I know.)

First of all, on a completely unrelated subject, I apologize for the serious lack of posts. Between Easter, the total lack of a working iPad charger, and quite a bit of exhaustion, I just haven’t been able to get anything written (super frustrating). So…sorry. (However, my absence has allowed me to finish THREE books, including 50 Shades of Grey, which was strangely amazing).

But here’s what I really want to talk about: Cervical mucus.

Oooh, yeah, you heard me.

Sounds sexy, doesn’t it?

All right, I promise I won’t get too weird on you, but I want to share my latest new hobby: fertility awareness. I mentioned some time ago that I had purchased the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility with the hopes of doing just what the book’s title describes and possibly getting pregnant more quickly, once the time came. Well, the time is nearly upon us and I’ve been tracking a few different items relating to my fertility for several weeks now, and while I’m far from an expert, I have absolutely no problem extolling on the virtues of the fertility awareness method (FAM) as both a way to more quickly conceive AND as a form of birth control.

What exactly is FAM? Basically, the fertility awareness method encourages women to observe a variety of “signs” of their fertility, primarily their basal body temperatures (your temperature first thing in the morning using a specific kind of thermometer – easily found at Wal-Mart, for example) and cervical mucus. If these signs are correctly observed, a woman can easily cause or prevent pregnancy (outstanding factors not withstanding) by timing when she and her partner have sex.

What are the advantages of FAM?

1.) For me, the number one reason I’ve switched to FAM as a form of birth control (because we aren’t yet trying to get pregnant) is the fact that I’ve, for one, gotten pregnant while on the pill, and for two, while I still had an IUD it drove me nuts (too many reasons to explain why).

2.) There are no foreign objects or extra hormones floating around in your body. I’m hormonal enough, I don’t need any help, and I always worried something would happen with the IUD that would result in some sort of internal injury. Plus, FAM is about as natural as you can get for birth control.

3.) It is extremely empowering to learn so much about your body and cycle. The more I read about what the female body does to allow for conception and the growth of a baby the more I am completely amazed. And when you actually observe it happening, you’re blown away. It’s like learning how some amazing and complex machine works, only cooler, because it’s your body.

4.) Once you learn how to do everything, FAM is far easier than taking the pill, wearing a patch, or having to insert a ring (and less physically and mentally altering).

5.) It puts the responsibility of birth control on both partners, rather than forcing just the female party to worry (which makes sense, considering men are fertile all the time and women are only fertile a few days a month).

What are the disadvantages of FAM?

1.) If you genuinely don’t feel like you have time to take your temperature in the morning and periodically check your cervical mucus during the day (easily done during bathroom trips), then you probably won’t be able to use FAM effectively.

2.) If you’re squeamish about your body down there, FAM probably isn’t a good option.

3.) There are periods of time when you will have to “abstain” or use other kinds of protection, because you’ll be fertile (i.e. you could get pregnant). That said, those periods of time give you and your partner a chance to get creative and find other ways to be intimate.

4.) I honestly believe if you’re not in a committed relationship, this isn’t the best form of birth control because it does hold a higher risk of pregnancy if you’re not really on top things and very careful. But, I also believe you shouldn’t be intimate with someone unless you’re in a committed relationship to begin with, so there.

5.) Like most hormonal, non-barrier methods of birth control, FAM does nothing to prevent STIs.

I think that even if you are not going to use FAM as birth control or you’re not trying to get pregnant, reading Taking Charge of Your Fertility or looking up other information about the fertility awareness method is hugely beneficial. There is no reason why a woman should not fully understand how her body works and why they do the things they do. A firm and clear understanding is so empowering and allows women to see that their bodies are truly amazing in more than one way.

I mentioned a while ago that E.’s fourth birthday is coming up soon (this Sunday). While we have two family “parties” planned (they’re not really parties so much as little gatherings for each side of the family) for this weekend to celebrate both E. and Easter, we aren’t doing E.’s BIG friend party for another few weeks. And it is that party that’s making me a bit crazy and lots excited.

The first thing to mention is that I did go with a theme (yes, I’m going to be one of those annoying parents): ladybugs. E. discovered them this winter as a few retreated in our house to escape the cold weather and has been in love since (we’ve got ladybug flip-flops, a bathing suit, pillow pet, among other things). So, while I’ve planned a variety of different ladybug/spring/garden themed decorations, foods, and games for the kiddos who will be at our house (all of which I plan to share here), the first order of business was to make the invitations.

Here’s what I made:


In case it’s not obvious (and it may not be, since I’m not as skilled at paper crafts as some), the front side is a ladybug and the back gives the party information. One of my favorite parts of the invitations is the font used (which, of course, you can’t fully appreciate in the poor quality photos). I found the font via Pinterest and it’s called “Doodlebug.” Very appropriate, right?

We’re really looking forward to finally handing these out next Monday (we had a slight delay because preschool had been cancelled for several days before our April vacation due to some pretty serious flooding). Hopefully I’ll be able to pop back in with more party plans as the week goes on!

My mom does this thing on my birthday every year. She’ll look at me with that weird, nostalgic mom look and wistfully say, “At this time, twenty-*insert appropriate number here* years ago, I was…” and some part of my miraculous arrival would be revealed. I know I roll my eyes every time I hear it (in fact, I rolled them a bit as I write this), but in reality, I kind of like it (okay, love it). I don’t remember the day I was born, so it’s nice to know that someone remembers.

And now I find myself doing the same to E.

Today is her birthday, and every time I glance at the clock I try to guess where I was at that moment. It’s hard to remember, because time moved so quickly that bright Tuesday in early April. What I remember, however, with absolute clarity, is the moment I heard her and the moment I saw her and the moment she was placed in my arms and I held her to my chest. It was time slowed down, every emotion flooding through my body, out my fingertips, making my heart pump the blood through my body with a sudden new purpose.

I was a mother, but, more importantly, this was my daughter. If I didn’t have a reason for life, I most certainly had one now.

And the last four years have been the purest I’ve ever experienced, with the greatest joy and the greatest love (and sometimes the greatest fear and frustration). E. has transformed from a beautiful baby, the model infant – perfect nurser, sleeper, completely content – to a full blown child with ideas and loves and a vivid brilliance and ridiculous vivaciousness. I try to not think so much about how she has changed and how quickly it has all happened, because it can bring me to my knees with joy and wrench my heart with the horrible speed in which it has all happened.

I expect the next four years will go in much the same style the previous four have. I will blink and too much time has passed. There will be the cliche struggles and joys. And ever before me will be a girl who I will simultaneously see as the growing, wonderful person she is, but also as the bawling, raw, pink baby quickly thrust over the curtain as she was delivered nearly exactly four years ago today.

Happy Birthday E. You are loved.