Thursday, December 8, 2011

Mama Bean has some more thoughts on introversion (or: the drunkenness of being your Self)

I was commiserating with my guitar teacher, after my busy overly-social weekend, about burning out my introverted resources. I made an observation I've been mulling for a few months now - sometimes, it seems like an extroverted person, deprived of social stimulation, can then get a bit abandoned in a vibrant social setting (their! favourite! thing!), and it's almost like they're drunk - they're just a bit more punchy, a bit less inhibited, saying or doing things they might not otherwise, or might think better of outside of those circumstances. My teacher agreed with the analysis. I don't actually have many extroverts in my immediate circle, so I've been piecing this observation together for a while now.

But then I took the next thought-step which I had not previously considered: well, what about an introvert, deprived of time alone, suddenly gifted with solitude? Would they do the same? And my teacher kind of joked, "Yeah, that's why I stay up all night by myself." And he's right! The corollary for introverts exists: with an abundance of solitude, we will likewise get drunk on it - get punchy about the tasks we undertake, lose inhibitions on needing rest or other sustenance. Because it just feels so damn good to be alone :)

As I thought about this later, I wondered if it applied to other aspects of the MBPI categories. For example, I myself get a bit punchy and "social-drunk" in certain circumstances. Friends from real life might recall some sugar-fueled moments near the end of a recent day-long scrapbooking event, which involved many repetitions of the phrase, "Up your bum!" Yeah.

(Well, and I'm not claiming to be a paragon of self-control on the best of days, regardless.)

I was thinking this might be explained by the Feeler aspect of my personality sort of reveling in a surplus of Relationality. Social situations with an abundance of people I know and trust and love surrounding me provide a lush environment of friendly, relational thinking and interacting, which is my natural state, the way my head works (albeit, not always healthily.) And so, in those circumstances, I get similarly trippy and uninhibited, my brain skips some steps between The thoughts in my head and The saying them out loud.

In a way this is almost doubly dangerous, because at the same time the social-ness is depleting my introverted resources, it's potentially uninhibiting my feeler sensibilities, making for some very goofy, sometimes ill-advised behaviours. It's like simultaneously acting against type and acting totally within type. Yikes.

So what would be the "drunken" situations of the Thinker? Unlimited opportunity to sit and be logical? lol. Or for the Judger/Perceiver pairing? Or the Intuitive/Sensing pairing? 

You know, I think this just underscores the effects of trying to live a lifestyle which too often demands you behave against type. Under those circumstances, it's not surprising that the opportunity to behave as your inner being desires, as it most naturally is wont to do, will result in some relaxation, like your Self just breathing a sigh of relief, "Oh, thank goodness I can just Do Me now." 

And I think I'm going to become a bit more observant of when I feel this sort of personality-drunkenness (hopefully I can be self aware about it...) Because I think it will point out to me what parts of my current priorities are depriving me of the chance to be my most natural self.  I realize we can't get too entrenched in our Type - because there are weaknesses/challenges to every aspect of the Index. Life won't allow us to Never Act Against Type, and it is important to be flexible. However, I do think this phenomenon exists when I've been acting against type for too long, and that's a good reason to make some changes to lifestyle, so it's most in line with creating situations that don't constantly over-tax and over-stress the natural resources of my personality.

Just thinking about it now, I think this might be why I've been staying up so late at night, despite knowing a baby is going to wake me up several times during my sleep, despite knowing the toddler is going to wake up at 8 no matter what, despite knowing I'm sick and need rest, despite knowing what responsibilities face me the next day. It's because this is the only chance I get to be alone. And I relax a little desperately into it, trying to squeeze as much downtime activity into these brief hours as I can. I think it's also why I've been so frustrated with Sprout's unwillingness to go to bed at the same time as Bean. This is a good revelation for me to have. It will help me release the frustration, and help me go to bed at a reasonable time, instead of unreasonably indulging in meaningless, not terribly exciting late nights that only make the next day harder to get through.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Mama Bean is so utterly introverted

I've been musing lately that nothing demonstrates your introvertedness quite like becoming a parent. Introverts find social interactions - being with people - uses up energy, instead of giving it. They prefer being in small groups, because it uses up the energy less quickly. But ultimately, an introvert requires time alone, to rebuild their resources. Stock the reserves.

Children are people, too. And when they live with you, they are, like, always there. And chances are, they need something from you. If only your attention. In a small family, like mine, they use up my introverted energy less quickly than a large family would, but they use it up, nonetheless.

I think, before kids, I convinced myself I wasn't really all that introverted. Compared to my husband, I'm a veritable social butterfly. And you know, it is possible to behave "against (personality) type", to be extroverted in some situations, on purpose or otherwise. But behaving against type uses up resources - so, in an extroverted moment I might find myself energized by the party, as it were, but I have to have mental and emotional stockpiles available to make that possible. 

Guess what I don't have. Mental or emotional stockpiles. I mean, whatever, this is parenting, this is what we sign up for. So yes, I'm sleep deficient. And low on patience. And lacking compassion, many days. So, behaving against type? Ain't. Happening.

In fact, it's quite fascinating to see how having low resources highlights my personality, and really shows me the strengths in it, and also its challenges. Being Introverted when there's kids buzzing around all day is a challenge. Being Intuitive when there's clutter and toys and general disarray all over my Big Picture is a challenge - I can't just brush it to the edges and ignore it so long as it's not directly in my way or affecting my convenience (as PB does. And that's not an indictment. I often wish, these days, that I could just function through the chaos. But I can't.) Being a Feeler when my responsibilities to my relationships with my kids often feels like it isolates me from relationships with anyone else (including my husband) is a challenge. If I could be more logical about the division of my time and efforts, I might be more emotionally efficient, and have some love left over for myself at the end of the day. I don't know a mom who can do this. If you know one, or are one, tell us all your secret fortheloveofGod. Being a Judger when any given task may go four times faster, or (more likely) a thousand (million kajillion) times slower than you expected, or a tandem poop might upset your baby and your nostrils at any given moment, or your best intentions to always carry a snack for your unpredictably hangry toddler have once again gone awry - it's a challenge, friends. I am not so good at changing course on the fly. I like to know The Map. Parenthood is like a magical map that never looks the same the next time you look at it. It is unknowable...

Anyway, I'm just saying parenthood has taught me a lot about myself. What a cheesy thing to blog about. What has parenthood taught you lately?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Mama Bean is singing Bruce's song again

Bean is such a dear to put to sleep. He gets in bed, we do a ritual, kisses and good nights, close door, walk away... wait 12 hours, good morning!

The ritual involves saying the child's prayer ("Now I lay me...") which was accomplished with a stuffed giraffe that recited the prayer when you pushed its toe, when Bean was an infant, but the batteries ran out, and the toy designer thought it wise to provide no access point through which to replace them. Smart designer. (It's fear-based design, if I had to bet on it. A child could somehow get into the access point - zipper, velcro, whatever - click open the battery cover, pop out the batteries, which would be oh so chokeable AAs or AAAs, and so, in the interest of avoiding litigation, they chose to create a toy that would die. Well, or/also, depending on how attached your child had become, you'd be compelled to frantically source a new, identical toy, with fresh batteries, and someone would make more money, again. Either reasoning works.) We still call that toy Nowilayme, but he lives in another room of the house. 

Sprout was also given a Nowilayme toy, but somehow the voice on its recording sounds wrong, and it creeps me out to listen to it. So we don't play it for her. Beyond the fact that she has no bedtime ritual. No no, what am I saying? Sprout's bedtime ritual is, y'know, that nurse and then rock and then give a bottle and then rock and then gingerly lay down in a pre-warmed crib with the softest of 400 thread count baby sheets and cuddliest of unicorn fuzz and fairy sparkle blankets and fuss and return soother and collapse in bed and wait for her to cry and fuss and return soother and collapse in bed and wait for her to cry and pray she doesn't wake up her brother and just bring her to bed so we can finally gettosleepalready ritual. I'm sure you're familiar with it.

Like I said, Bean is such a dear to put to sleep.

Okay, so we say our prayers, which Bean doesn't really get, sometimes he closes his eyes, sometimes he holds our hands, but usually he wriggles around and waits for us to be done. Then, we run the checklist of bed toys. First, and of utmost importance, blanket. White, satin on one side, soft minkie on the other, lovely feminine blanket. He eschews the more masculine, blue options. Second, handmade stuffed alien-demon Mup Mup. Third, soft hippo-with-wheels. (These latter two, incidentally, both gifts from the same best friend; hi, K!) Fourth, sometimes, a small stuffed giraffe, named Giraffey, identical to another giraffe with the same uber-original name which belonged to Bean's daddy. Fifth, except it's lost right now, a weird Thomas the Tank Engine turn-y toy thing that Bean can play with for many minutes sans interruption. It sounds like a lot of bed toys, I know. I'm not even sure if he plays with them, or is especially attached to them (other than blanket) but, oh well, they're there. Bean sleeps with a t-shirt blanket I made, a blanket his grandma made, another blanket his daddy slept with as a baby, and a fleece blanket given by his great-aunts. It's a very full bed. 

For a little while, Bean would request a song ("Dinkle dinkle" little star...) then say nono when I started singing. Then he'd request another song ("Baa baa" black sheep... the same melody, mind you) then say nono when I started singing. Then maybe a few other requests in there, but not usually. Then he'd point his arm to the door and say Go. Well then! Haven't I been told? lol

This transitioned; I'd ask if I should go, and he'd say nono Stay, and pat his pillow. Awwww, who can resist such commands? So I'd stay and pretend to nap, which involves clutching a "banket" with eyes squeezed shut and snoring exaggeratedly. He likes when we pretend to snore. We'd go back and forth on Go and Stay commands for a bit, and then I'd gently say it was time to go, and off I went.

This transitioned; for a week or two now, he's been going to bed regular time, but super over-tired and hyper. We weren't sure if we should move to an earlier bedtime, so he wouldn't get over-tired, but to be honest, I wasn't ready to risk the earlier mornings that might ensue. When he went to bed hyper, it'd take him a long time to settle (we can hear on the monitor. Yes we still use a monitor, don't judge :S) and then after a half hour or so, he'd wake up suddenly bawling. So one of us would go back upstairs to calm him down, do the songs, a second bedtime.

I think this may be a normal 2 year old thing. I've started calling it Testing the Tether - this sorting out of the radical notion that he is separate from us, that he is his own person. He's not at the I-can-do-it-myself phase, yet. Just testing it out, how far can I go, how far is too far, how do I get back, how do I get them to come to me, it's an exploration. I think he was testing the bedtime tether - where do I go when I sleep? are they sleeping, too? can I bring them back to me? am I still me when I sleep? or when I wake? Maybe it's scary, to him, to fall asleep sure of his self-ness, and wake up in a dark space disoriented and disconnected, and he pulls on the tether, as it were - where are you come back I need to see that you are still you, and that must mean I am still me. Am I over analyzing this? It's fairly heart-wrenching when he starts up with the crying, especially from a child who previously/otherwise goes to bed without much emotion.

When I'd go up to calm him, I lay down and sing Bruce's song. I had not been singing it very often, because he knew the words to request other songs, and so I followed his requests. But it is a lullaby after all, composed expressly to put the children in my world asleep. And now, he requests it by saying moon, because of the first line, "When moonlight falls..." And he covers his eyes, then holds his hands together for "You'll close your eyes/and say your prayers..." It's pretty much the most adorable thing ever. 

He lets me sing the whole song without saying nono or Go. It calms him down, and then I can leave and know he will sleep. For some reason, at the last line "It's time for your lullaby" he always smiles, a lovely soft smile of anticipation, I wonder what he's thinking of... Tonight, he asked me to Stay and sing Moon during the first sleep-summoning ritual. It was effective *knock on wood* as we did not have the half-hour bawling and repeat ritual. So, we're singing our song, again. Makes me feel warm. Makes me feel, surely, I'm doing at least this thing right.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mama Bean is stuck at the crossroads of OWS and feminism and motherhood and also, the internet has themes

My husband posted this story to his facebook. And now we're going to have two heavy, sort of political posts in a row on here. Weird times, friends. (There's a lot of linkages in this post, sorry. ) (I promise to return to light-hearted anecdotes of my adoring toddler and baby soon.)

There are some who will say this woman should not have knowingly put her pregnant self in such a charged situation. Which sounds, to me, a bit like saying, well she shouldn't have been wearing that dress and walking down that street at that time of night, if she didn't want to get raped. As if anyone wants to be raped. As if this woman wanted to be kicked in the stomach and pepper-sprayed and miscarry. As if anyone wants to encounter violence and assault. As if anyone should expect violence and assault.

Because we have a right to personal safety. And the police are supposed to uphold that right, not counteract it. And we have a right to protest peacefully, and to be met in our protest with non-violence. (At least the St. Louis police got it right.) Again, maybe this sounds terribly naive of me. But I want to believe I still live in a world where this is true.

In the vein of Eve Ensler's brilliant words at HuffPo (seriously, just stop reading this, go read that, and call it a day), I am over it. I'm over blaming the victim. (For example, this guy. I am so over this guy getting nothing but a slap on the wrist.) I'm over the kind of privileged thinking that presumes it can judge the necessity another person feels to protest, because it is privilege (and I am privileged, too, and fully acknowledge it) which allows us to think, "Geez why don't they just shut up? What is there to complain about anyway?" Let them eat cake, indeed. I'm over a culture that continues to "hystericize" women - that continues to tell us we're too emotional, too vulnerable, too precious, to have our opinions and passions and yes, our dirty "hysterical" emotions count for anything. I'm tired of apologizing for being naive and "crazy." (Here's some great thoughts on that whole thing.)

Do you ever find the internet has a theme? Like, all these disjointed posts and facebook links and current events are all speaking to the same thing, for no apparent reason? For me, the theme lately has been the intersection(s) of motherhood and feminism. How do I raise a feminist son and daughter, when so  many societal messages tell us feminism is no longer relevant? How do I respond to those societal messages, when it's women telling other women to stop being so "hysterical" or we "won't get anywhere"? (How can someone, in the same breath, acknowledge there's somewhere else we need to get to, and disdain of using our voices, the only tool we have, for getting there??) How do I deal with what television has done to my favourite Canadian character on TV ever; are we really rehashing this poor beaten dead horse that motherhood and career success are not mutually exclusive? In fact, while I am writing this post, this comes across my facebook wire, and I just...really? The answer to hormones is "Buck up and have some self control?" What about helping young women actually understand menstruation, how about taking the shame out of it, how about taking responsibility for the sexual education of our children instead of leaving it to their schools, how about providing meaningful social support for at risk teen women so they're never in the position of feeling their only choice is throwing a baby away? And I don't just mean literally.

Seriously, the internet has themes. Roseanne's got me feeling all warm and fuzzy about menopause, for pete's sake.

I just bristle at it all. These tensions between the responsibilities I feel toward my intellect and dreams and career, and the responsibilities I have toward my children and my family. And why does that have to be a dualism anyway? Eurgh! Pregnancy and motherhood don't make women suddenly weak. Having small humans who depend on us, who we are driven to protect at all costs, doesn't mean we ourselves become dependent and needy of protection. Motherhood has revealed to me strengths I didn't know I had, or indeed, did not have before. 

The world is dangerous, I get that. The dangers are real, including the dangers of protesting. But I can't reconcile myself to sacrificing my right to speak out or have an opinion or even get a little "hysterical" just for the sake of playing it safe. I don't think that's the call of motherhood. Because if I do that, if I am cowed by the overbearing danger of simple existence into silencing my voice and hermitting my family, all I will succeed in doing is raising dependents who, in addition to fearing the real dangers of life, also fear they have no voice, no tools, no means of fighting back. And I refuse to do that to them.

(My response to PBs post, btw, was "i have no words. and i have no grace. someone must pay for this shit." Because I am having trouble finding grace in these stories coming out of OWS. I can't see where redemption is coming into this Story. It troubles me. Maybe that's why I keep writing about it, because that's how I deal with being Troubled. I was reading some poignantly topical chapters in Brian McLaren's Naked Spirituality, which focused on praying compassion into the lives and world around us. I couldn't quite get where he was leading, but I know it was God whispering out some answers to me, showing me the grace. I will continue looking for the faith to seek and live that grace out.) 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mama Bean can't get UC Davis out of her head

I feel a little late to this story, as it happened days ago, and I saw flickers of it hitting my facebook and twitter, but didn't really take the time to read anything until last night. And then I just cried. I couldn't help it. It made me feel sick. And I couldn't even actually make myself watch the video. This entire visceral reaction was just to reading about it.

I don't talk about politics much on here, because I shy away from the kind of traffic (i.e. trolls) that attracts. But, as a so-called mommy blogger, I think my heart and stomach are reacting to this as a mother, and I want to write about it as a mother. I read the UC Davis details and Nathan Brown's open letter through the lens of my experience, because that is what I have, and that is what we do. 

In my experience as a student: when I went to the University of Cowtown, there was a protest that lasted several weeks on the central lawn of campus, because of proposed tuition increases. About fifty (? my memory fails me...) students camped out in tents, and ate ramen noodles, and told anyone who would listen why we couldn't afford higher tuition. I don't remember if it was effective. I don't even remember how or why it ended - were they forced out? I do remember, for sure, that pepper spray was not involved. At my Chiropractic college in the first few months of my very first semester, our (generally) beloved Chancellor was forced to resign. There was huge student outcry (well, as huge as a small Chiropractic college can get), protests in the streets, angry letters to the powers that were. It was not effective, he is now president of a different Chiropractic college. Pepper spray was not involved. 

I am not (have not yet been?) a camping-out in protest kind of person. But I'm a sign-a-petition kind of person, which I did during the U of C protest. I am a write-angry-letters to politicians and boards of directors type person, which I did as a member of my Chiropractic college's student council. I have an Activist sort of mentality, though I don't express it very loudly. Papa Bean would say I have Causes, in a way that he does not.

In my experience as someone's child: during these events, I'm sure I didn't tell my parents anything about these things happening, or my participation in them, peripheral as it was. I don't really talk to my parents about my Causes, because we have differing opinions, because we have enough things to talk about without introducing new opportunities for conflict, because there have been times when I felt I was not taken seriously, just because. Because that is not something my parents and I do. If it were me getting pepper-sprayed back in my college activism, I'd be more worried that they'd just be mad at me for getting into trouble than anything else. Come to think of it, that's probably what kept my activity peripheral to begin with.

In my experience as a mother: well. I mean... God, if that was my kid? Father God, that was someone's kid, those were all someone's kids. And this is the world they've grown into? I would just lose my mind. Because I am a mother who believes in a student's right to protest, who believes a fundamental property of The University is its place, its foundational identity as A Place for Discourse. Is this naive of me, in this day and age of mixed corporate and government funding and 1% and lobbyists over us all, to still think that this is what universities exist for? That if there's anywhere for a tent city to exist it would be on the campus lawn of a post-secondary facility? Then I am a naive mother, and perhaps my kids will be embarrassed by my naivety, but they will also know that protest is not only a permissible response, sometimes it is the necessary response. I am a mother who wants to know what her kids care about, are moved by, feel passion for. I want them to tell me their Causes, even if we disagree, even if we sharpen our positions in the potential conflict, even if that's hard, just because. I want them to say, "Well, that's just what me and my parents do" and shrug it off. I don't want them to be afraid to step away from the sidelines just because they could get in trouble, if it's the right thing to do. And I want them to know, if it were them being brutalized by a police state that I cannot even fathom is real, except the video is right in front of us, viewed over a million times already, if that were them, that I would stand with them, and fight back with them, and not back down. Because that's my kid. And you don't do that to my kid.

We don't do this to our kids.


Look, maybe I'm just a Canadian with no real bone to pick in this fight. You can write me off like that, if you want. But I can't sit back and let this be our new reality. I can't mother kids into a reality like that. And I hope you can't either.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Mama Bean doesn't look good in green

I've recently been dealing with feelings of jealousy. I wouldn't say this is rare - I get consumer envy all the time. But in the context of relationships, it's relatively uncommon, and I don't know how to deal with it. On top of feeling justsohighschool, it's also problematic that jealousy is fundamentally a problem in myself, in my own head and my own heart. And I'm the only one to blame for it (really) and to fix it, I have to change my Thinkings and my Feelings, and I, frankly, suck. at. that.

It took me awhile to really figure out what was going on. At first, I just collected a bunch of situations in my head that made me feel bad, in an unidentifiable way. Bad in my stomach, like losing your appetite. Bad in my chest and shoulders, like a suddenly cold day. Bad like a buzzing, nagging thought, "This hurts. I feel hurt. But why?" From there I embarked on a convoluted emotional extravaganza, fueled by hormones and sleep deprivation, and bless my husband for listening to it all.

First, I wondered if I had done something wrong. Maybe I'd unintentionally done something offensive or inconsiderate or whatever. And there are possibilities, I'm not a perfect friend...

But then again, nothing I'd considered I thought warranted the coldness and distance I was sensing, so then I got a little defensive...

But then again, it's not like people intend to be malicious, I'm sure it's just about busy-ness or busi-ness or any other combination of factors...

But then again, these situations just kept/keep happening, and I haven't changed my behaviour or done anything new that might explain it, so...

Then I'm back on the defensive train, defending my actions against accusations I've only imagined could possibly explain what's going on, and also leveling my accusations, and backing them up with exquisite prosecution. All completely in my head. 

Am I the only person who does this? Like, seriously, it felt like I was running a trial, in my head, and making up the dialogue for all involved parties, in my head. It was exhausting! What the hell was I thinking?

Anyway, at some point I just had to acknowledge how truly high school it felt, how it was keeping me up at night the way being nerdy and unaccepted did when I was a teenager, how it was truly exhausting my already exhausted resources, how it was so horribly fueled by hormonal fuckery, all of it

And I guess I'm just jealous.

Which really just feels like square one, in the sense that it doesn't fix anything. I still have the hurt stomach feelings, the situations keep adding up to more, confirmed hurt feelings. I can't escape the sense that a little glitter and sparkle is being progressively scattered, when I like to keep all the glitter and sparkle I can get.

Being an IF (in the MBPI), I have a complicated Mental Handbook for managing myself and my relationships. (I'm thinking the above mental meanderings don't make a convincing case for my Handbook's effectiveness, but, uh, moving on...) I take this stuff way too seriously (obviously) and it almost always blows over without confrontation or consequence. I don't know why I'm blogging it, except that it's sort of eating a hole in me, and I only have so many places to getitoutalready. (And I think Papa Bean is sick of hearing about it.) So, well. Here it is on the not-at-all private internet. Maybe now I'll feel better.

By the way, I actually look fantastic in green :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mama Bean once again did not miss PMS

Is that too much? Should this be a "TMI Tuesday"? Too bad!

Menstruation happens - and I don't care what kind of google hits that gets me. I saw this preview for a documentary about it recently, and I really want to see the whole thing. Menstruation happens! All the time, too much of the time, and I don't want to be ashamed of it. Gah!

You know, I didn't used to get PMS. Not in any noticeable way. You could ask Papa Bean about it, and he might tell you different, but then I'd get annoyed with him, so maybe he'd just tell you the same :) I didn't get cramps, I didn't get terribly moody, or have my appetite or sleep patterns go all wonky. Thank goodness I didn't get hormone related headaches. I did get low back pain, but only slightly moreso than my status quo LBP. Anyway, there were problems enough with menstruation - you know, bleeding, profusely, for several days, covered in a slimy film of shame, because noone should know so it's like your body becomes a Big Secret once a month, but you still have to walk around where everyone can see you.. Yeah. So I was happy - happy, I tell you - not to bother with PMS.

Now, two kids later, I have PMS. Every month. For like, half the month. I hear tell your hormones post-partum don't return to normal for two years, so y'know yippee, I only have to wait through sixteen more cycles to see if this is my new normal or not.

My PMS looks like being pregnant. Which, I guess, shouldn't surprise me, since the second half of our cycle is your body pretending, waiting, hoping it's pregnant, and then dejectedly sloughing hormone and hormone by-products (oh yeah, I just called my endometrial lining a hormone by-product) when it turns out you're not. If pregnancy is the mentrual cycle stalled and then amplified exponentially over forty weeks (which it is), then it should not surprise me when they look the same.

Here's what I mean. I get heartburn. My appetite is a rollercoaster, and my stomach goes wobbly when I've eaten too much. Especially too much sugar or too much fat. All I want to eat is sugar and fat. Why? Because I'm eating my emotions. Which are all over the place. Places like: angry, angry, and pissed off. Good places. I have no energy, beyond mere sleep deprivation, so that I take two B vitamins instead of one, and my pee is extra extra yellow (okay, that might qualify this for a TMI...) If it sounds like I'm bitching, it's because I am. But I know it will soon be over as soon as my hair starts falling out. Oh yeah, I get "post-partum" hair loss once a flipping month.

I'm looking for the silver lining here. I'm trying to remind myself that this is womanhood, that the reason I can write posts about my beautiful children, the reasons I can celebrate motherhood is because of menstrualhood. But motherhood is like All silver lining and bright sunshine and love love love with some Tired and feelings of Ineptitude at the edges. Menstrualhood is, well. not.

And that's all I have to say about that. What say you? Is your period different since having kids? Feel free to comment, this is a Safe Place... :)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Mama Bean is thankful for happy surprises

This was going to be titled "Mama Bean is having A Day" but then there was a happy ending (not that kind of happy ending, you pervert.) (Oh I know, there are no perverts that read this blog. I have no perverted friends. Not one.) (Anyway...) Do you ever have A Day? Why am I asking, of course you do! We all have those days when everything is Crap and there is no Beauty left in the world, and the sum total of the Universe is things that Piss You Off.

It started with my last patient of a very not-busy morning totally no-showing, and being totally no-apologies about it when my staff called her, when I could have gone home half an hour earlier if she'd had some Common g*dd*mn Courtesy. Then there was Dreaded Traffic. The people of the Prairie Valley City (bless their hearts) are so unaccustomed to seeing someone use a turn signal, they seem utterly flummoxed as to its meaning. Let me fill you in, folks! It means I want to tuuuuurrrrrn maybe possibly into your fricking lane so it'd be superawesomewonderful if you'd leave. a. gap. kthxbai.

Fast forward an hour or so, and I'm changing the Bean's poopy diaper before his nap. I let this change go too long, and it was a soft poop, it sort of mushed around the sides of the diaper and onto his jeans. Not fun. Took about seven wipes to clean up, I should have just tossed the kid into the shower. (Figuratively. We are not about throwing babies into baths around here.) So I go to throw the mess away, only to find a) the bag in the diaper garbage pail has not been replaced since garbage day Thursday, and b) there are about twenty dirty diapers in the bagless pail. 

There may have been yelling. And curses.

I realize I should have just replaced the bag myself when I emptied the diaper garbage (for the fourth week in a row < cough cough >) on Wednesday evening. I realize I should not have piled up the dirty diapers on the change table while muttering good intentions of Getting-To-It-Eventually under my breath. I realize I am not Without Fault in this situation. But I was still pretty mad. NGL, I was mad at Papa Bean.

It's just... I just... oi... I mean... what is so hard... ugh... you know... *throws hands up* The man has a personality defect quirk that makes him put things where they Fit as opposed to where they Belong. Does your man/partner/exasperator do this? Do YOU do this? It's just part of his SP personality that contrasts (muchly) with my NJ personality. In between episodes of frustration, I laugh about it. I have to laugh about it. And then, I take pictures of things he has "fit" places, before moving them to their rightful homes. I should start a facebook album of his creative housekeeping.

Well, so, fast forward a little bit more, and Bean is napping, Sprout is sitting on her mat playing with crinkle toys, and I hop onto facebook. As an IT professional, PB is basically paid to be on facebook all the time, it's really unfair. We often chat during naptime. Here's how our conversation went:

MB: twenty dirty diapers in a garbage with no bag, PB? seriously?? are you trying to make me yell at the air???
PB: lol, i thought you put those in there. I didn't.
MB: ?? really??
PB: really
MB: bean put all the diapers from the change table into the garbage can by himself?
PB: LOL, I bet you Bean did. he was playing in the bedroom when I was bathing Sprout and saying yucky.
MB: BAHAHAHAHAHA that's awesome. and here i was all pissed at you. oh that's funny
PB: oh my MB
MB: well that's a lesson in not jumping to conclusions. and it's gonna be a blog post
PB: i didn't think anything of it, b/c he'll sometimes do that when smelling the frog's feet
MB: GAH our kid is so cute
PB: You really shouldn't think the worst of me. :):) I'm a pretty good guy 99% of the time. ;);) And I love you 100% of the time. :):)

(Word for word, except with bloggy names substituted in, which I realize comes across a little awkward sometimes. Like, it's a lot more endearing when PB says, "Oh my [real name]" We have this IKEA frog hanging in Sprout's room, and apparently Bean plays the stinky foot game with it that I play with him, namely, sniffing his feet and saying P.U. Sooooo stinky!!)

So now I feel simultaneously better about life (because my kid is so cute) and bad that I jumped to conclusions about PB (because he really is an amazing husband who I love to bitzesez) and sad that I reacted angrily in front of Bean (because he might think he did a bad thing now, when really he did a super cute and helpful thing) That's one :) and two :( :( 

Oh well, I probably haven't scarred him for life, right? Bonus happy ending: now the pail has a bag in it, and Bean watched me take all the diapers out, put them in said bag, and replace the bag in the pail, so at the very least, he learned that. Right? /sigh. 

Tomorrow is another opportunity to be my best self. And for everyone else, too. (You hear me, PVC drivers? Learn to drive!)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Mama Bean wonders if these things only happen to her...

On Tuesday morning, I took the kidlets to drop off some veggies at the Food Bank and then grocery shopping. It's taken awhile to figure out the logistics of getting the two of them ready and out the door in a minimum of time. Right now, that means starting, oh say about, half and hour before I actually want to leave. It doesn't always take half an hour... but just in case...

It's kind of fun now that Bean can walk out the door and down the steps and over to the car by himself. I used to take them in two trips - lock Sprout's bucket onto its base, come back with Bean and into his straps. Now, theoretically, I take one trip. Usually, this means hustling over to clip Sprout's bucket in, while Bean is still perusing the flower beds and kicking at pine cones, or circling the car to see if some door is open on a more interesting seat than his own boring, strappy seat. (For example, the seat behind the wheel. That's the door he really wishes to be open.) On Tuesday, Bean was all ready to climb into his seat, except my camera was there. So I put it on the roof, and strapped him in. Then I had to grab the bags of chard from the garage and put them in the trunk, and we were off!

We took four bags of chard, which was about 16 pounds. I parked right out front, Bean really enjoyed coming in with me. The lady at the desk even gave him a little fun-size chocolate bar. Then we went to the Superstore on the way home, which is not our usual Superstore, and for some reason that's really disorienting. Isn't it weird how you get used to these things? Somehow, even when I think we don't need many things, I end up spending too much. I hate how the Food In Boxes adds up so quickly (crackers, cereal, coffee, stuff in boxes, you know. Not to mention diapers and stuff, oi.) If I was only buying produce and dairy, life would be so much cheaper.

Sprout fell asleep in her bucket at the store and then again on the way home. She is so much better at this than Bean ever was. He was such a Schedule Baby, and his sleep cues included his Swaddle and his Crib, he didn't (still doesn't) like sleeping out of the house. It was nice that his schedule was so predictable, and since he was our only baby at the time, it was easy to work around. But now, with two, it's so good that Sprout is adaptable :)

When we got home, I herded Bean into the backyard, to play with his trucks in the garden dirt. This has been his favourite thing to do for a week or so. I am getting more comfortable letting him play while I do stuff in the house, checking every minute (Thirty seconds? Ten seconds? He's very cute to watch, runs around telling himself stories, caramel highlights in his hair caught by the perfect Autumn sunlight...) I carefully took sleeping Sprout into her room to keep napping, then started putting groceries away.

And that's when I remembered my camera on top of the car.

Hours later, many many kilometers later, taking Bean in and out of the car more than two times later, I mean seriously, how did I forget my brand new Nikon DSLR on TOP OF MY CAR???

Do you feel the sickness in your stomach that I felt in that moment? I think you do...

Will you believe me when I tell you it was still there? Srsly. I mean, you have to believe me, because I would not be blogging this story if it had fallen off the way one would expect to fall off. I would be crying a lot and then hoping Papa Bean didn't get too mad at me. I considered not telling him, except then I couldn't tell the Internet about it, so I told him, but only after making him promise not to get mad at me. And he didn't. Phew.

Somehow, in all the openings and closings of the door, the door kept closing onto part of the strap. And I suppose the material of the camera's base/body is kinda grippy. I am just crazy grateful it was still there. Does this kind of thing only happen to me? Tell me about some crazy thing you thought you lost and found again. Tell me I'm not the only one with stories like this. For one thing, it will make my husband feel better!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Mama Bean wants to explain why sometimes she doesn't write anything in a long time

Or rather, why she doesn't publish the things she writes. Here's a step-by-step peek into my stupid writing process. Enjoy! (That is, if I publish this... lol)

1) Have a thought or opinion about something that people do that is weird or irksome or annoying or downright infuriating. Spend a few mind-blogging moments thinking up clever and funny and hyperbolic ways of describing why this behaviour is so weird/irksome/etc.
2) Then, at the peak of clever, funny, hyperbolic vitriol, think to self, "But surely, Self, I do this very same thing sometimes. In some ways. It is unkind to think such vitriolic (though clever and funny, etc.) things about people who do this."
3) Then, think about the ways I do said activity differently, which makes it less weird/annoying/etc. That is, engage in The Rationalization. This is listed as part of my Skill Set on my Resume of Life. Perhaps it is part of your Skill Set, also?
4) Use the insights garnered from Rationalization to distill the essential weirness/infuriatingness/etcness. of the activity, and separate it from the intentions of the person performing the activity (including when said person is myself.)
5) Muse over the particular personality traits that make me so prone to dissecting intentions and underlying motivations.
6) Realize not everyone else cares about intentions and underlying motivations the same way.
7) Realize also I don't want angry comments from angry people I've offended, because they do the thing I find weird/annoying/etc. and/or don't agree with my secondary opinions/rationalizations behind their (and my, admittedly, on occasion, under certain circumstances thus dissected in step 3) behaviour,
8) Fear these people may wish to offer (angrily) their own rationalizations for the behaviour, which I will then have to disagree with (maintaining my Correctness) or, even worse, agree with (attaining Incorrectness.)
9) Decide not to write about it, and just tell PB instead.

Apply this process to almost anything related to parenting, Christianity, politics, and you have hundred of posts-worth of excellent blog material that stays in my brain and never gets out. Ha!


I should also mention steps 10 (wonder if this all merely stems from my insatiable need for acceptance and approval) and 11 (chastise Self for the terrible Feat of Ego is takes to think people would even care enough to get offended or comment.) Okay, that's all the steps.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Mama Bean is KinderGARDENing (the end)

I have had such a good time participating in KinderGARDENs this year. It has provided good focus for my gardening and photographing efforts. In many ways, with a new little Sprout on the scene, gardening would have taken a complete back seat, if I hadn't committed to myself that I wanted to do KinderGARDENs from start to finish (minus a few missed weeks, oops!) I can't wait until next year, for a variety of reasons, including seeing everyone else's KinderGARDENs again, and simply the sheer untapped potential (for better weather, for more diligent weeding, for tastier harvests) that next year holds. But first - a rundown of how this year finished...
Here is Bean walking through the weeds at our big community garden. To be honest, we just gave up on this garden, there was no time to redeem the lack of watering during this hot dry summer, and I just figured what could grow would grow, and everything else... would not. In front of Bean you can see the radishes that bolted like crazy. Radishes are awesome, I recommend growing them to boost the confidence of any gardener. Behind Bean you can see our kohlrabi and chard, which remain to be harvested, probably this weekend.
Here is a sample plant of the first member of the brassica family I've ever grown successfully. We picked three about this size and I chopped and stirfried them and thought they were delicious! Just like broccoli stem, which I happen to like a lot. I'm the only person in my family who will like these, so we probably won't grow it again. But I'm gonna go harvest the rest of it and eat it all by myself! Ha!
Here's Sprout keeping warm while we picked carrots. Luckily, PB's parents, who are visiting from Cowtown, met us at the garden with a truck and extra manpower, to help pull in the carrots. I wasn't sure how big or tasty they'd be, and I'm pleased to report carrots are pretty darn hardy :) We had a great harvest of at least this one vegetable from our whole plot lol. I also pulled up a few onions, and there are potatoes to be discovered at the back of the plot. We've got this weekend to accomplish the task, before the garden is shut down for the season (they plough it under each fall.) And then we're done with it. I am sad to leave the community, but we never really plugged in with other gardeners there anyway. I think if we hadn't been so busy growing a family, we'd have had a better experience growing a garden.
But, here is our alternative - two new raised beds! Altogether, this puts us at a little under 150 square feet of growing space at home, with beautiful sunlight, close to our rain barrels and water taps, and all round more convenient. Next summer, these boxes will be bursting with produce, I am SO EXCITED I'M WRITING IN ALL CAPS!!! (!!!) We'll be layering garden clippings, compost, and new topsoil in the beds over winter. We're also putting some fall onions and garlic in for tasty tasty harvests next fall :)
This is the beautiful delicate flower of the stinky coleus plant. I consider this plant a success story, and I'll be buying two (or four) next year to keep the rabbits out of the beds. We were able to grow lettuce and cabbage at home without the rabbit eating them, even though he still lived across the yard under our mugo shrubs. It sustained some freezing at the beginning of spring/summer to grow into a lush healthy plant. The smell is strong but surprisingly not that unpleasant, or maybe I just got used to it. Anyway, I'm happy to include it in my garden.
This summer was terribly dry, after such an insanely wet/flooded spring. These carrots show the effects of the dryness, I think, in their banding. See how they are all constricted at about the same level? I think the roots experienced good moisture levels above and below the bands, but at the constrictions, they grew thinner and more slowly. They are tasty, but maybe just a little harder to clean and peel.
Here's more or less what we harvested this week. Some potatoes, some carrots, some onions, some kohlrabi, some squash. Kim can add about 6 pounds of chard to the KinderGARDENs donation tally, and there will be several more pounds of chard donated in the next week, I'm sure. Along with some of this other stuff. The acorn squash are from our volunteer plant. My tomato plants are near done, still with tonnes of small green tomatoes to pick off and let ripen in our warm kitchen. All in all, for a kind of busy summer with really weird weather, I'm happy with the harvest. For sure, once again, we learned a lot of lessons, and I leave the year encouraged about next year. Make sure to swing by Kim's and check out everyone else's final summaries. Thanks for an excellent year of KinderGARDENing!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Mama Bean believes there are only two kinds of people in the world...

...those who put the toilet paper on going OVER and those who put it on going UNDER.

Sometimes the internet conspires to make everything come together at once. Please refer to this recent blog post for a clarification of terms.

I am very very much an OVER person. It just. works. better. Why? Well, the more important question is when. When does OVER work better? In the dark. At night, when you are half asleep going pee as quickly as you can when you're half asleep because the baby woke you up and wants to be nursed but first you desperately need to empty your bladder because you're drinking like three fricking liters of water a day in a feeble attempt to boost the amount of milk you're pumping when you're not half asleep nursing your baby in the middle of the night but are, instead, half asleep pumping your milk at work (half asleep because of waking up the night before, oh but you didn't need me to clarify that) not to mention not to mention the liter or so of decaf coffee you drink, also, decaf because your baby will not sleep but will cry and cry and not sleep if you so much as inhale a milligram of caffeine, and so you must empty your bladder very quickly before the hungry baby that has only just started to wake up wakes up more fully and makes noise more fully, noise which threatens to disturb her brother, her brother who otherwise sleeps peacefully through the night but has some sort of bizarre mindmeld with his sister, so that the smallest sounds from either of them will magically wake the other one or otherwise impede the other's good mood, and so it is imperative that bladder emptying be accomplished quickly prior to stumbling into the poor hungry baby's room to feed her, poor hungry baby, and in that moment of needing to pee in the most efficient way possible, it is absolutely easier to simply paw at the toilet paper roll in a vaguely downward fashion until gravity induces the overhanging tongue of toilet paper to naturally fall forward and down into your half asleep little hand, so that you may complete your task and move on to the much more important task of feeding the baby.

In the dark is when OVER works better. (Even before kids.) Tell me I'm wrong. (You're wrong.)

Do you know what wandered into my perfectly OVERed little world? A husband who doesn't think it matters. How could it not matter?! Do you know how long it took to convince him it was important enough to my  middle-of-the-night voiding activities to properly secure the toilet paper roll in an OVER fashion for him to actually comply? It took almost ten years!

Do you know what wandered into my perfectly husband-compliant OVERed little world? A toddler.

Toddler's are gravity-finding machines. They toddle around their little worlds discovering and discovering and rediscovering gravity. What happens when I turn over my breakfast bowl? Oh! Gravity! What happens when I open the hand carrying this toy? Oh! Gravity! What happens when I climb onto this chair and swipe my hand over the pretty shiny (breakable) objects up on this shelf? Oh! Gravity! What happens when I reach too far onto the shelf near the edge of the chair? Oh! Gravity! 

He doesn't know his colours or his numbers of his letters or his shapes. But he knows gravity. Or does he? If he knows it so well, why does he keep testing it out???

Unfortunately, the same gravity that makes the OVER roll so much easier to deal with in the middle of the night is the gravity my toddler discovers when he bats at the toilet paper roll in a vaguely downward fashion. Oh! Gravity! Lookit that spiiiiiiiiin, wheeeeeee. 

I didn't so much mind re-rolling the toilet paper. I didn't mind trying to remember to keep the bathroom door closed. I didn't really mind. But the fact is, an UNDER roll is less easy to unroll. For a toddler. It defies gravity.


The rolls in my house are UNDER. For now. I only have to get one more child through this phase, and then everyone EVERYONE in this household will be taught how to do it Right.

Which way is the TP in your house?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mama Bean is KinderGARDENing (19)

It's been a few weeks since I did a KinderGARDEN check in - I missed week 17 and week 18. So far, Kim hasn't posted a week 19 sign up. In fact, she hasn't posted anything in over a week, and I hope it's not because something is wrong. Thinking of you, Kim, and praying everything is okay with your family! [Update: Kim came back! Her son needs back surgery, so she's been battling HMOs to get his precious spine the very best care she can, because that's what all spines deserve! Please head to her blog to check out everyone else's KinderGARDEN updates.]
I missed the week when the assignment was to take pictures in the glorious golden light of a rising sun, but I still did the 'homework.' I went out early on my way to work one Friday morning, but actually missed the golden morning sun by about 10 minutes. Instead, I have the cool cool tones of pre-sun. It was still peaceful to be out when no one else was around and putter about taking pictures of my (sad) garden.
Here are the tassles on the corn-that-wasn't. Next to that corn are the potatoes-that-didn't, followed by the beans-the-weeds-ate, and then the squash-the-drought-killed. Let's not forget the onions-the-grass-drowned, the carrots-bravely-growing-despite-the-weeds, and the cucumbers-of-mass-patheticness. I also have kohlrabi and chard, so much I don't know what to do with it. I have a few twigs of cinnamon basil which will be cooked into a small batch of tomato jam. And the peas were done long ago. I know my big garden suffered from a) having two babies to care for (/sigh KinderGARDENing will one day be easier, yes? promise?) b) too little rain and c) laziness, because we know we're giving it up next year. This land, which will grow pretty much anything with a bare minimum of attention, deserves the respect of people who will care for it. We are not (currently) those people.
Our garden at home has confirmed for me that raised beds are the absolute bestest thing EvarintheUniverseWow. The tomatoes are rampant, the vines have cascaded over the cages and are spreading across my lawn. I roasted some for a pasta salad. I turned five pounds of just the yellow ones into a lovely glaze/jam concoction that tastes delightful on grilled chicken. I would have had beautiful cabbages if I'd combated the slugs with any sort of consistency. I have EGGPLANTS! And I really do think the stinky coleus plant did it's job, because we had lettuce, and the rabbits didn't eat it. Most importantly, raised beds grow an amount of food we'll actually use, instead of rows and rows of stuff four folks couldn't possible consume. So, I'll happily post pics of our two new beds when they are completed (in a few weeks!)
I may have mentioned a few times we had a remarkably hot and dry summer. It has virtually disappeared overnight (though the forecast promises a return to warmer temperatures for the weekend, when we are having an early birthday bbq for Bean *fingers crossed*) The past two days have been gray, rainy and super windy. Tonight we'll drop near freezing and will probably frost later this week. On the one hand, I'm glad it will kill the wasps. On the other hand (wringing hands) my tomatoes! I sort of covered them with sheets, but the tomato jungle is really rather uncontainable. I picked the eggplant, even though I don't know if they could have used a few more days on the plant. I hope they are tasty anyway - I'm just excited to have them! They grew much bigger than I expected. And the flowers were so pretty, I'd grow it just for them :)
We planted these raspberries our first full summer here, and I must say we've been a little disappointed in their yield. I think we need to feed their soil with some compost and mulch, and probably watering them would help. Anyway, we've grown enough that little Bean hands know what to do with them - the trick is stopping him from picking them all!
His face is tear-streaked because we had a Bonk right before this. He wasn't hurt, only scared, but he knows he gets hugs and cuddles for Bonks and he maybe milks that a little right now. (Parenting aside: previously, we've tried to teach him to just "brush off" the Bonks and get on about his life. However, he is lately going through some separation/anxiety/stuff, not really sure what it is, probably typical 2-year-old neurology, and I feel like he needs the extra cuddles and reassurances. We are building a relationship, you know, and a big part of that is really laying the foundation that we are Here For Him No Matter What. Plus, he's never really been a cuddly kid, and to hear him ask for hugs is so heart-warming and adorable I can't help myself. So maybe I will regret in a few months that he's running to me for pats on the back every time he Bonks, but for now... I'm just gonna keep doing it!) I used the raspberry picking as a distraction, and it was successful. A little too successful. As in, Papa-Bean-didn't-get-any-berries-too-successful. Sorry PB! You've got dibs on the next ones, if Bean doesn't sneak them, ok?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mama Bean's hands are Sprout's to hold

The golden dappled heady sweet sunshine laden days of summer are drawing to a close. The flowers are gone, the fruit is gathered, and I have stewing vegetables in the ground waiting for harvest. This transition is my favourite time of year, hands down. I like to watch things dry and curl in on themselves and prepare for The Long Sleep. I am always a fan of sleep...
But the passage of time is always bittersweet now, in a way I never thought about before parenthood. This summer has been richer and hotter and brighter and lovelier than any summer of my life, except perhaps the summer Papa Bean and I were falling in love. And every summer is an extension of that summer, naturally. But now, every day brings a bigger Bean with more! words! Every day brings an older Sprout with more! smiles! Every day is another step, a growing distance, between the babies I brought into this world and the adults they will be, the adults who will leave me, to go and change this world in their own Bean-y Sprout-y ways.
This little girl is killing me very slowly with her mink hair and doll's eyes and big smiles and tiny, grabbing hands. She is wringing my heart out with those hands, because they are always looking for mine. And never letting go. She wants to hold my hand when she's nursing - and I want this, too, or else she's scratching with those impossibly sharp nails, laying claim to the b00b with kneading kitten fingers. She wants to hold my hand when she's fighting sleep, as in the picture above (which is actually PBs hand) because it calms her down. When you go to put the soother in her mouth, she latches onto your big hand with both of her small ones, and pulls it to her face. I think she is more interested in the hand than the soother. When she's chilling in a seat or mat, she wants a hand, to know you're there, and nothing more. When she's chilling on my lap while I'm on my computer, she wants to hold specifically my mousing hand - so perhaps there is something more she wants. For me to stop. So I do.

And I feel the blood in her hand meet the blood in my hand, and I know she carries chunks of my Being in her Being, and I feel those chunks drift inexorably away from my Body-self, with Time, always with Time. So it's comforting to know we can connect here. There's still an interface, more human than words (which can divide as easily as they unite), and it's our skin. She won't always want the things I can give her (my words, my "wisdom"), and she will sometimes want things I cannot give her (a pony, her dreams) (Though I will try, you know I will try). For now, she wants my hands. It is so very much the least I can give. So I do.
Look at this big boy! Running! Finding life, finding trees and sticks and rocks and sunshine and so. much. mud. This kid doesn't know how not to express his heart. If it's angry and "nononono" then it's angry and no. If it's cranky and when's-nap-time, it's thrown food and gritted teeth and when's-nap-time. Sometimes it's bonked knees or head and "hug" with kiss-y noises. Sometimes it's gentle (and less-than-gentle) petting of sister's mink hair. And when it's pure joy and look-how-fast, well... well, just look. How fast.
when did summer
my summer
turn cliche
how fast
time flies
beneath the leaves
how fast
so fast

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mama Bean was born on a Friday.

 monday's child is fair of face, tuesday's child is full of grace, wednesday's child is full of woe, thursday's child has far to go, friday's child is loving and giving, saturday's child works hard for a living, but the child who is born on the sabbath day is bonny and blithe and good and gay.

I was born on a Friday in 1981. Bean was born on a Thursday morning. Papa Bean was born on a Monday, just like his daughter.

Now it's a Tuesday, six months later, and I figure I need to get this down "on the page" before I forget it all, because this writing thing, I've determined, is wrapped up in the exercise of memory keeping, for me, and so I should get on with it. The memory keeping.

(Subsequent birthing stories are always remembered in reference to the previous ones, so forgive me if this sounds like a list of what was different and what was the same, instead of a story. But this is still a birth story, and if you don't want to hear about the gory details, this is not the post for you! Rest assured, a baby came out at the end.)

For two midwife visits prior to Bean's birth, I had an internal exam and a stretch/sweep. Two days before his birth, I was dilated to 3cm, my cervix was soft, but still posterior. I am amazed at how many changes the cervix must undergo before contractions can be most effective (and less painful). It should move from posterior-facing to anterior, it should soften before it can think about thinning, it should thin before active dilation. All of this happens without (m)any outward signs or symptoms, but it's really important work. With Sprout, I had an internal before going away on a weekend retreat, to make sure I wouldn't deliver while an hour away from home (and twenty minutes from a hospital, regardless of homebirth being the plan.) At that time, cervix was softening but not soft, still posterior, and not very dilated (finger-tippy.) At the midwife visit (a week before?) Sprout's birth, the midwife demurred to perform a stretch and sweep, as I was still only 38 weeks, and she didn't think we needed to encourage anything just yet. I did not have any other internal exams with this pregnancy, even to check my dilation during active labour.

I never felt the Braxton-Hicks with Bean, probably because I didn't know what they were, and I'm unfamiliar with menstrual cramping in general (I know, I'm very lucky.) I was more aware of the cramping this time around, and I knew this time it was part of the work my body was doing to prepare my cervix. I knew it was soft, and I knew a little together time with PB would give it a good prostaglandin kickstart. In a way, I feel like any night of the weekend would have worked, but for some reason we waited until Sunday. At 2:30am that night, I felt an especially sharp kind of cramp and thought, "Pay attention" then went back to sleep.

I woke at 3:00 with another sharp cramp and then small gushes of liquid. I did not have SROM with Bean - my water broke during pushing, and almost got midwife LH in the face. I suspect if she had broken my membranes earlier in my pushing with him, I wouldn't have needed to push so long, but I think we didn't effectively communicate to her that they had not yet broken. It was a disorganized kind of birth for him, despite it feeling very calm at the time lol :) Anyway, it was neat to feel the "traditional" water release, and I was careful to maneuver myself out of bed and to the toilet without making a mess. I woke PB.

I called the midwife on call right away, as instructed, because my first delivery had gone so fast, we expected this one to be faster. I had only met midwife C once, at the home visit one week earlier (!) but we had hit it off and I felt really comfortable with her. In fact, I was really glad we "timed" the birth to be on the weekend she was on call. She let me know midwife KK,who would be her second, would reach me first. KK was on our midwife team with Bean, but had not been there for his birth - I was glad she would be there for this one. C asked me questions about how the contractions felt and I didn't know how to answer her. As with Bean, I woke with active labour - the contractions were already a minute long, and about five minutes apart. On the other hand, they weren't terribly intense and I still didn't know if it was just cramping or needing to poop or something. I felt a little muddled talking to her! 

While we waited, PB pulled the futon mattress off the frame and laid it flat on the living room floor, covered with the shower curtain and a dark bedsheet (same set-up as with Bean.) We also set up a little table for the midwives to lay out their equipment. KK arrived at some point. I did most of my dilating standing up this time, which had been too painful with Bean, but worked this time. I would feel a sharp wanting-to-poop with an internal stretching/tearing kind of thing - and I envisioned the orange birdcage with the golden bars pulling out and back on the tight round muscles around the uterus (I will explain this image in a later post - it's part of my hypnobirthing strategy, although I wouldn't say I practiced or used much hypnobirthing in this delivery. I think having gone through it once, I had a deep abiding sense of my capabilities, and probably these images came to mind because I had previously thought so much about them.) I did a little dance, from foot to foot, on my toes, while moaning and breathing. I felt these contractions as both more intense than with Bean but less painful, if that makes sense. I had a flash of fear with Bean, alone in my basement wondering why it was so intenese so fast, when I understood why we want the drugs to take it all away. I did not have the fear this time, but I had more self-pity. I had more moments of why-must-this-be-so-hard kind of thing. I remember this time my face would get all crampy and scrunched with pain. KK listened to Sprout's heart a few times and all was well.

C arrived and met PB for the first time (lol) and my next contraction felt push-y. I went to lay down then got back up, I couldn't get comfortable (ha! Is any of this comfortable??), I felt restless, like an animal pacing a cage, looking for something productive to help myself. I guess this was transition, my thinking brain took a backseat. I remember asking rather pitifully, "What's next?" by which I meant, "Please check me." I wanted some reassurance, that this would be over soon, that I was making progress, that I could push the way my body felt. C suggested a hand and knees position on the mattress - I leaned on the futon frame and had some more face-scrunchy, push-y contractions. I was still waiting for confirmation from the midwives that I could push, and I felt a little angry that they weren't giving it to me. They are wise women, and I think they knew I needed to take back responsibility for my birth, stop giving my power to them, and know within myself when I was ready. (I know that sounds hippie dippy as all get out, but that's what I felt!)

It had been about an hour and a half. I didn't know when to call our friend N to come take care of Bean - it was the middle of the night, he was sleeping through it all, and I hated to disturb her needlessly if this was going to go on for awhile. But it clearly wasn't. I'm glad we called her when we did.

C asked if I'd like to take my underwear off (a good idea for having a baby!) and we found the infamous mucus plug (there is no good phrase for this. Bloody show is just as bad. Whatever. It is what it is, but someone should come up with a nicer way to name this thing.) I suddenly felt hot and sweaty and took off my nightgown, too. C asked if I felt hot, and when I said yes, she said, "I think your baby will be here very soon." This was as close as she got to telling me, you're complete, you can push, and she did it in very midwife-y way that mostly meant, follow your body. I had no internal exam to confirm I was at 10cm, I just did what felt right. I had two or so more push-y contractions against the futon frame, where I felt a perineal bulge and back pain. I knew I preferred pushing on my back (darn my weak low back!) so I knew it was time to turn over and get this show on the road!

PB had been helping me with low back massage throughout, because it really helped me handle the pain and pressure. I needed him to push against my lumbosacral junction, right in the middle, as hard as he could. He smiled through most of my labour, and encouraged me to smile. His joy was contagious, he said to me, "I like when you're in labour. It makes me laugh. You're so fun to watch." I suppose this would enrage a lot of labouring women, because it doesn't feel very fun, but being his wife, I knew what he meant and the love behind it. If he didn't have this joy and was all serious, I think that would have scared me - it really picked me up to have him keep smiling. He's the best birth partner, well, whole life partner I could ask for <3

Once laying on my back, I propped up my head and shoulders with pillows (called the inverted J position, because your body looks a bit like a backwards J leaning back.) PB knelt/lay by my left side, holding my left hand with his left hand,for me to squeeze, and supporting my head with his right. This helped me keep my chin pulled to my chest during pushes, which is really important and helpful for me to keep the energy of my pushes directed downward. (I know not every woman likes the chin-to-chest thing...) I remembered to keep my mouth open and loose, instead of clenching my teeth. (This is a Gaskin thing, about keeping all the body sphincters loose, because they run off the same neural circuits, and if an upper muscle ring is tight i.e. the mouth, the lower muscle ring i.e. the cervix, cannot loosen.) I would hold my breath from the start of a push until the most active,peak of it, and then let it out in a whoosh. This is the very same purple pushing hypnobirthing taught me not to do, but it's how I got Bean out, and I figured to just go with what works. I think it was helpful that I let myself sort of sink into the contractions and really feel the wave of it, and know the most productive times to bear down.

C knelt in front of me and put my feet on her knees. This was much nicer than with Bean, when each midwife grabbed one of my feet, and I had to pull back on my thighs, to spread my legs during pushes. C kept the right pressure on my legs without me having to hold anything, and all I really wanted to hold was PBs hand, anyway. But I did feel bad pushing on her legs so hard, I wonder what the longterm effects on her legs and knees are - I can't imagine it feels very good to be in that position for so long with such strong forces being exerted on her joints. That's just the Chiropractor in me speaking.

I was having hamstring cramps and worried I would run out of steam or get a cramp at a key moment during a key push. This time, I knew how to push into my perineum and was not afraid of the bulging feeling, like the baby was going to come out of my butt instead. This was a fear I had to overcome during pushing for Bean. N arrived shortly after I started pushing, and I managed to introduce her to the midwives through my breathing, they all laughed at me. She went downstairs and folded laundry because she is a sweetheart. I was worried about how loud I was being, but she says I wasn't very loud at all. I didn't wake Bean, anyway.

I did remember I didn't like the burning feeling of crowning, I was afraid of how long it went on with Bean, but I let the fear go, and I needn't have worried, because it didn't last long this time around. During a contraction, I would have a set of two maybe three good pushes, then rest between for a bit. I had two or three sets of burning when Sprout's head first started peeking-and-retreating. Then there were two or three more sets to where Sprout would crown and the head would stay, which C called "bringing baby around the pubic bone." 

KK checked Sprout's heartrate every two or three sets of pushes, and was very reassuring. During Bean's delivery, the constant heartrate checking sort of irked me, because that midwife had been more serious about it, with her serious face on and seriously writing it down with her serious hands. I suppose that is just her demeanor, there was never any concern with Bean's heartrate. I thought that I might ask the midwives to just forego Doppler during this delivery. Then I was privileged to support a friend (N! Who was sitting patiently in the basement folding my laundry :) through her delivery in a hospital, and saw what continuous fetal monitoring looked like. By comparison, a few Doppler checks didn't seem so intrusive after all, and it is, of course, very important to monitor the heartrate, as it is one of the first indicators of baby's distress. So it would have been irresponsible to drop it, and I'm glad KKs methods were calm and reassuring.

There were many comments as Sprout crowned about her having lots of hair, and I remember the sense of joy building like electricity during this time. It is so amazing to hear how powerful and strong you are at the height of delivery. The burning became constant, even during the rest periods, as I stretched around the head. C was an absolute genius about coaching my pushes to give time for the head and perineum to shape around each other, so I wouldn't tear. I could have pushed Sprout out very quickly, because I am powerful in my pushes. As it was, I pushed for an hour, which is half the time I took for Bean, so it felt quick to me. C told me to pant through the second part of my later contractions and not push, because she wanted to slow me down. It's not instinct to slow down at this point, everything points to let's-be-DONE-already! But I'm really (really really) glad she directed me in this, because I would have torn otherwise, and in every way possible I can think to express it, not tearing is a gift beyond measure. I would gladly push for two hours if it meant I wouldn't tear.

I had a set of pushes when I felt Sprout's head was halfway out. A second set of pushes and I felt her head push through, and very loudly said, "Thank God!" C quietly said, "One, two...three! nuchal rings. Another push please" then unwrapped the cord from Sprout's neck. I didn't know what a nuchal ring was (oi!) which was maybe good, because I might have had a panic moment then. As it is, C was super duper calm about it, just asked for another little effort from me to push Sprout out enough to give her the room to loosen the loops, it was very quick. Nuchal rings are very common, though three is a little rare. They are nothing to worry about, in the grand scheme of things (they can become something to worry about, I suppose.) I would not have pushed just then, because once her head was out I wanted to rest before the push for her shoulders and body (unlike with Bean, once his head was out I just kept pushing even though the most active part of the contraction was over because I just wanted him out!) But C very calmly did what her training told her to do, and I am grateful. Sprout's cord was much long than Bean's and seemed much skinnier. I wonder if the nuchal rings were why she seemed less active in the womb than Bean (other than simple activity differences of personality and maybe gender) and I also wonder if they are why her head stability was not as good as his at birth, and took longer to strengthen.

I had one more easy push for Sprout's shoulders and body to slide out, and then she was up on my chest and we were saying hello. She did and does have a whole pile of beautiful, dark hair. She was also covered head-to-toe in thick white vernix, even more than Bean. Is this from the heartburn?! It took way longer for her vernix to rub into her skin, and I did have to wipe it out of some of her creases, because it made the skin raw underneath (poor baby.) It was a great relief to be done, a great rush of love hormones, and I drank it all up. That's why I don't remember the pain - I would actually say I didn't find the process all that painful (I know, I am a cliche.)

I don't remember precisely what happened next. At some point we looked to see she was a girl. This was a surprise in the sense that, statistically the Y is strong in PBs family, and so another boy was more likely. But it was not a surprise in the sense that many things were different in this pregnancy (less nausea, more heartburn, carried lower and wider - all things that can be explained by 2nd-pregnancies-are-different, but if you give credence to folk wisdom...) and everyone (my mom, staff, patients) had been predicting a girl all along. I had that mom gut feeling she was a girl later in the pregnancy, but just kept telling myself and others it was probably a boy.

C carried out the newborn exam, Sprout's Apgars were 9 and 10 or something like that. We moved the futon back onto the frame so I could sit up and try nursing. I was nervous about this because starting Bean on the b00b had been such an ordeal. C has a long career history as a lactation consultant, she was so helpful it's ridiculous, and Sprout was a natural. We did a little hamburgering to help her latch, and then she just took to it like a fish in water. C actually perched on the arm of the futon, which is not padded, and held my b00b for me, so I could concentrate on orienting Sprout's body, which demonstrates her commitment and support of good breastfeeding - she is a gem. Sprout ate from each side for more than 20 minutes, which C assured me would really help cement the breastfeeding relationship. It was lovely.

Normally the 2nd midwife doesn't stick around much past the birth, but KK stayed so she and C could go get breakfast. N stayed all day to play with Bean, while I nursed and napped and got to know Sprout (thank-you, N!) 

Both of my labours started about the same time of night: 2:45 for Bean and he arrived at 7:17, 7 pounds 4 ounces and 20 inches long, on a Thursday I was scheduled to work, five days before due date. 

3:00 for Sprout and she arrived at 5:25, 7 pounds 7 ounces and 21 inches long, on a Monday one week after I stopped working, a week before due date.

I don't know about "fair of face" or "far to go" but everything around here is bonny and blithe and good and gay as far as I'm concerned.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Mama Bean is an INFJ, what are you?

Do you know your Myers-Briggs personality type? I was told my type during therapy during a depressive episode when I lived in Iowa, as it was one of the favourite therapeutic tools of my psychologist. In my case, it was exceedingly instrumental in helping me solidify my identity, find language for explaining my self and behaviours, and establish healthy boundaries in navigating my relationships. It helps me in these things, I'm not saying I'm, like, perfect at them ;)

A facebook friend recently posted her type, with an interesting site explaining the characteristics of all the types, which I'd not perused before. I love reading more about my type - I like recognizing myself in the description :) This one and this one were really fun, because I recognized a lot of myself! (Though it is necessary to look past the sort of frou-frou hippie-dippie lanuage that makes it read like a horoscope at times.) For example, I know that I get excited about organization systems and efficiency in organizations, which the first site described as:
Counselors...make every effort to help an organization run smoothly and pleasantly. They understand and use human systems creatively, and are good at consulting and cooperating with others. As employees or employers, Counselors are concerned with people's feelings and are able to act as a barometer of the feelings within the organization.
I read this, "The Counselor can become stressed when they are required to deal with too many unexpected events or required to be too extraverted for too long a time" and think about how annoyed I get when my work schedule suddenly changes (patient cancels, or empty space gets filled) and I didn't know about it. I like to know what's coming, especially because my job is All Extroversion, All The Time.

[Incidentally, the counselor who told me my type was, himself, an INFJ. Cute, right? We're a rare type, and we have exactly the type of personality to get a little ego kick out of that lol.]

The second site explains how my type is sort of obsessive about parsing out the inner motivations of others, how we like to understand the "hidden psychological stimuli behind the more observable dynamics of behavior and affect." Which is, like, Yes.

I also agreed with this bit, "They are, in fact, sometimes mistaken for extroverts because they appear so outgoing and are so genuinely interested in people - a product of the Feeling function they most readily show to the world...While instinctively courting the personal and organizational demands continually made upon them by others, at intervals INFJs will suddenly withdraw into themselves, sometimes shutting out even their intimates...As a pattern of behavior, it is perhaps the most confusing aspect of the enigmatic INFJ character." Any IRL friends out there want to comment on this?

Papa Bean and I are pretty much type opposites; he's ISTP. We share Introversion, but I often joke that I'm an extroverted introvert, and we're at opposite ends of the introversion spectrum. He has very strong needs to be in the cave and decompress, and has struggled with social anxiety. I think my introversion is more obvious under stress, but in general the F makes me so relational, it outweighs the I, in a way.

Speaking of stress, there's this little nugget, "The INFJ under stress may fall prey to various forms of immediate gratification. Awareness of extraverted sensing is probably the source of the "SP wannabe" side of INFJs. Many yearn to live spontaneously." Teehee "immediate gratification" That explains the midnight ice cream binges, yes?! bahaha :P And I do often wish I could be more spontaneous - but I fail at it, spectacularly. Planning is my lifeblood. I used rainbow highlighters to colour code my daytimer at Palmer.
I suppose it fits my personality that I find personality typologies themselves so interesting - Myers-Briggs, enneagram, etc. I like these human systems that concisely categorize behaviour and help me explain why people do and are the way they do and be. I get so totally geeked about it, I will help you do your personality test (which is generally frowned upon, but c'mon! I gots talentz! This is my thing!) [In fact, I helped PB do a test while writing this post, because I know his answers to the questions better than he does. When he did it by himself, he got the wrong type! rofl]

I can get a little entrenched about it, though - I resist people acting "against type" because, frankly, it confuses me. And now I know what elements of my personality (N F) feed into that need to understand motivations and drivers, and how anything which derails my understanding makes me all... flustered. This is one of the best things my therapist showed me; when I identify a personality pattern that creates maladaptive feelings or behaviours, if I can name them, it's easier for me to overcome them. I can sort of calm my personality down, "Hey, self, little INFJ self, I see that you're upset about this situation, it's just your personality. Deep breath. Try on a little S or T or P for a bit and see if that helps. Act against type (horrors!) and things will be better in the morning." And most of the time, it works!

When I write it out like that, it sort of looks like one of those positive parenting scripts. "The next time your little Beast is doing [x] try talking it out like this..." That's right, I parent my personality :D That's awesome. If you enjoyed any part of this post half as much as I did, I encourage you to go find your type! (There are any number of sites with similar tests, but that link has a good explanation of all the letters. There's even a Harry Potter version! INFJ is Dumbledore!)