Sunday, October 18, 2009

"I Told You So..."

For those of you who blog...have you ever had the experience where a blog is just "gurgling" (for lack of a better word) around in your head and you know you're not going to have any peace until you type it all out? That's what this blog is...gurgle.

Fifteen years ago, about 15 minutes after Kirin was born I asked my midwife why more people don't know about homebirth. I found out that a lot of people have been afraid to talk about it because people would think that they were crazy or that they were endangering their children. I realize that homebirth is a deeply personal decision (and that it's not for everyone) but I told her that night that it was going to be my mission to tell as many people as possible about it and that everyone I knew from then on was going to know that it was a valid choice for most women.

As a result of that decision, I think that most people who know me KNOW that I've had 3 kids at home. I'm pretty up front about it and it comes up, or I bring it up, pretty quickly after meeting people. Let's get this straight though... I'm not telling people that I had my kids at home so that they'll think that I'm some sort of superwoman or because I think that I'm better than someone else who chose a more traditional hospital birth. I do it because I want people to know that homebirth is a choice that they (or their friends, or their daughters, or whomever) can make and that there is a support system out there for them. Most people tell me that they didn't know it was an option or that they wish they HAD known they could have done it.

I hear a lot of birth horror stories about how a person's baby would have died if they had tried to deliver at home. I spend a lot of valuable energy stressing out over whether or not to tell them that most of their problems were consequences of their choice of birth location. Mostly I tell them what I fully believe to be true... "I'm glad that hospitals and doctors are there for the women who need them." I also happen to believe however, that if more low-risk women chose alternative birthing options it would free up the medical system to take better care of the women who genuinely DO need medical care or surgical deliveries.

Okay all that being said.... I've known for a LONG time that I want to be a midwife. When Kirin and James were babies I got involved with the debate of Home vs. Hospital on the AOL debate boards. I started learning about birth in a more in depth way than I had when I had just read through What to Expect and The Birth Book while I was pregnant. I knew that I was heading down that path but with two little ones (and Kevan who was 9) I knew that this wasn't the right time.

One of my best friends was pregnant when James had just turned a year old and was having a tough time of it. As soon as she stopped taking her meds she immediately went into labor and I headed to Atlanta to pick up her son's father from the airport. By the time we got back to the hospital the baby had been born and all seemed well. Then I took the video home to transfer it to VHS so the dad could watch. What I saw sickened me and I cried for a long time. Thinking about it now still chokes me up. The way she was treated and the things that were done to her were horrendous. The staff didn't notice the camera because her sister is a nurse and was in scrubs. I won't go into detail but I can tell you that I will never sit idly by and let this happen to someone else that I love.

Three months later I lost my mom. I felt helpless and pretty much alone in the world. I kept going back to that birth though. I knew I still wasn't ready to become a midwife but I wanted to do SOMETHING about it so I went to doula training in FL. I learned SO much and felt like I could make a birth at a time. I spent the next few years attending births in Columbus (and Atlanta!) and teaching childbirth classes. It was a good thing. I felt like I was where I was supposed to be but still something was missing.

Circumstances changed. Life happened. Justin came along. I finally had to get a job working outside of the home that prohibited me from going to births. I spent five years working at a hospital but knowing that deep down this wasn't forever. I jokingly said that when I was 80 I was going to be catching babies finally but still the desire was there. I got back into school and every paper that needed to be written about my future always found it's way back to midwifery.

When I lost my job at St. Francis I thought my world had come to an end. I ended my engagement and moved back in with my ex husband for strictly financial reasons. For 18 months I've been looking for a permanent job that would allow me to have my independence back and searching for a way to keep myself from falling back into my old habits of relying on my ex for everything.

I found MyChurch on Facebook and a door hanger and thought that I'd give it a try. I was working at Hopegivers and I knew that God was trying to tell me something but I was still only hearing what I wanted to hear from Him. I kept on praying for what I wanted and not for what He wants for me. So I went to the tent and found part of what had been missing. My relationship with Him started to change and I saw people all around me that had that PEACE that I had been missing.

While I was working on a project for one of my last classes, I had to create a business that I would like to own and it was completely pregnancy and birth related. I was missing a person from my plan. I needed someone who wanted to work as a post partum doula and go into the home and help mom get accustomed to motherhood. Out of the blue I got an email from Imani. She introduced herself and said she was interested (even though she didn't know that I had this plan!) and when we talked I found out she was expecting her fifth child. She is this amazing Godly woman and she and I kept in touch over the months of her pregnancy.

I graduated in September and I had this plan to start grad school in November and keep going til I got my masters degree in Business Management. Keep in mind that this is all part of the plan to be able to handle the business side of my midwifery practice when I'm 80. Being a midwife is not lucrative and without the support of a full time job or a supportive husband I just didn't think I was ever going to be able to do it.

I kept praying and praying for God to help me find a job and to help me get out of this living situation. Then we started the Detours series at church. The first week Jeff talked about how if we stay between the lines of God's providential will (what we know to be true...that He loves us...that He died for us...) and God's moral will (things we know are right and good for us) that He will be able to show us and guide us to what He wants for us.

A couple of things happened that morning. First of all I wrote on my communication card that I wanted God to show me what He wants for me because I'm tired of struggling with decisions about whether to move to Atlanta for a better job or to stay here and work for less to be near my kids. And second, God told me to put $5 in the collection plate. Here's how the conversation went:

God: Kim I want you to put $5 in the plate.
Kim: Seriously? That's ALL I have!!
God: Just trust me.
Kim: But I'm hungry and I want to be able to get something to eat after church!
God: Just trust me.
Kim: Fine. Where's my wallet. (looking for wallet) Hey! There's a $1 in here! How about I put THAT in the plate?
God: Seriously? What did I tell you? Just TRUST me!!
Kim: Fine. Here you go. :::grumble grumble:::
God: You'll see...

I was probably a little more cheerful than that but not much more. But I decided to trust Him. I know that He provides. Heck He's been keeping me fed for the better part of 2 years now!! But to completely give it ALL to Him was a struggle...symbolic that there was money involved but it was more than that. I gave Him ALL my trust when I put that $5 in that plate.

Fast forward to 11PM. I'm snuggled under the covers watching House on Hulu because I'm behind on this season already. The phone rings and it is Imani. She is in labor and wants me to come sit with her until the midwife gets there. I get up all excited to be going to not just a birth but to a HOMEBIRTH!! WOO HOO!! The ex of course wants to know why I'm up and moving around and disturbing him and he grumbles that it's not my responsibility to go to this birth and that I need to be home as soon as possible. I told him that it was my priviledge to be able to attend and that I really want to get back into doing births and that I'll be home as soon as possible.

On the way over God and I had some more quality time. I asked Him to please give me the knowledge and the calmness to get through this labor. I asked Him for a safe and easy delivery for Imani since I imagined that she, and certainly her husband, were nervous about their first homebirth. I prayed for the midwife to have safe travels on the way from Auburn. And I prayed that the baby would be blessed and that God would favor him throughout his life. I just kept asking God to keep me between the lines. All day and all night...I kept asking that over and over.

There was a peace in the house and I knew that we were under His protection. Good thing because three contractions after I got there the show was on and on the fourth contraction dad and I helped baby boy into this world!

Amazing... AMAZING!!! Not only did things go smoothly but God was in my ear saying, "I TOLD YOU SO!!" He asked for my trust and I gave it to Him and He blessed me in ways I had never imagined!! All these years I've been putting it off and putting it off but I knew deep down that this is what I'm supposed to be doing. Now I know WHY though... The thing that was missing was my trust in God. Knowing that the reason that I'm going to do this is because it is what HE wants for me and not what I want for me has made a huge difference. I have that piece and that peace that has been missing!!

On Wednesday I started a temp assignment that came up out of the blue which will carry through to the first of the year. I also found a midwifery program in SC that I can do as a distance learning thing and it won't break my bank. AND... the midwife is going to let me use her distance learning VHS tapes to get my doula certification back through CAPPA and she wants to take a year off so she said she'd send me some doula business.

Oh!!! And the $5!? So Tuesday report cards came home and James is NOT doing well in a couple of his classes so the ex and I went to the school for a Freshman parents thing. I registered for a door prize and won a $50 Visa gift card. You know what God said?

"I told you so..."

Monday, August 3, 2009

What now?

Last night I completed the last paper and the last final for my last class as an undergrad. September 12th I'm set to walk across the stage for my BS in Business Management.


How'd I get here?

Back in 1985...WAY BACK... I accepted a scholarship from Converse College in Spartanburg, SC. I was only 17 when I graduated from high school and went away to study music at Converse. In hindsite I was completely unprepared for life on my own. I was way over my head. It didn't take long for me to realize that I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I came home shortly after my 18th birthday and went from hanging out with debutantes to working in a grocery store.

In 1986, at 18 and pregnant with my first child, I went back to school. This time I was staying home and playing it safe. I went to sign up for a marketing program at Columbus Tech and they talked me into studying Mechanical Engineering Technology instead. I really didn't know what that meant but they assured me that I was suited for it so I jumped in with both feet. I made great friends and spent a great couple of semesters taking classes but when I got chickenpox 2 weeks before Kevan was born, I couldn't go to school and lost my spot.

I spent a couple of years working in the banking industry and turning 21. All my friends were graduating from college and I was working and doing my best to be a parent even though I wasn't really sure what that really meant back then.

When my daughter was in kindergarten I met my future ex-husband. (Ironically, I referred to him that way from the start.) In 1993, married and pregnant with my second child, I went back to school again. This time I was at Columbus College/State and just taking classes for fun. I took my ENG101 class and then Trig and Calculus. By the time I finished Calculus I had already had my third child and school just got to be too much with three kids at home.

Fast forward to 2004. Divorced. Four kids. Working full-time at the hospital as a systems analyst. People all around me were working on their masters degrees and I still didn't have my bachelors. I took a long lunch and went back to Columbus Tech to enroll in the associates program for Management and Supervisory Development. They assured me I could do the whole thing online and that I'd neve have to stress over parking. Sounded reasonable and an hour later I was a student again.

I did about 18 months worth of work towards my associates degree and then the HOPE grant ran out. (I know the grant only pays for non-degree programs but you can use it to get all the classes that are shared by both programs out of the way and then transfer over to the degree program.) I couldn't afford to keep going and they didn't do a wonderful job of explaining financial aid so I left college for the fourth time.

Two things happened in 2006. First, I was evicted from my house. Facing the possibility of being homeless was a big wake up call and it showed me that once and for all I needed to get on the ball and get this education thing over with. Second, three people who I have a lot of respect for started going to (or were graduating from!) the University of Phoenix. I had looked at UOP a few years back and the cost was way too high for what I considered a second rate education.

Then I saw the difference that UOP was making in my friends' lives. One friend was finishing up his undergrad degree in IT management. Seeing the transformation that took place in him was amazing. He won't admit to it but he really grew in those few short years. He was starting his masters program and I realized that I was going to be completely left behind all my peers if I didn't get on the ball.

I made the appointment to talk to an enrollment counselor and we started the paperwork to get my financial aid and student loans started. Two weeks later I walked into a classroom for the first time in 12 years and was scared out of my mind. The thing that I found most amazing was that everyone else was just as scared...or MORE afraid...than I was. These were not your typical college students. We were all older and had more going on than the average 18 year old fresh out of high school.

Three years later I look back on my first team. Kym, Tovelle, Johulyn, and I were Team C. I got us t-shirts to wear for our final presentation. "Cool Cats Conquering College" They were pink. LOL We rocked. Sadly, I just looked for the three of them on Facebook and they're not there.

Classes came and went. Teams were formed, and tears were shed. I found out that you get out of an education what you put into it and my opinion of the University of Phoenix completely changed.

My cap and gown arrived last week.

It was hard to take it out of the box and look at it. Trying it on still harder.

So much has changed since I started out as a student 24 years ago. I have four wonderful children who mean the world to me. They probably wouldn't be here if I had graduated at 21 and become a famous opera singer. I have wonderful friends that I've made along the way. People who have changed my opinons and opened my eyes and helped me to make incredible memories.

And my mom is gone. I know she'll be there with me in spirit but it still hurts to think that she's missing out on all this. My dad and my sister will be there. I thank God for them every day. We've all been through so much in the last couple of years.

Here's the thing... The best is yet to come. God has a plan and everything happens for a reason. It's not up to us to know what the reason is and sometimes it takes 24 years to figure out why things happened the way they did. Things have been tough at times but it's the hard stuff that makes us stronger. Through the tears and the laughter we become who we're supposed to be.

Congratulations to my fellow graduates of the Class of 2009.

God bless you all...

Friday, May 8, 2009

She loved painting ceramics, cats, and dogs...

So here's the thing... I think about death too much. Always have. I never thought I'd make it to the age of 30. I think that the idea of dying young makes life livable sometimes. Probably just the result of reading too many VC Andrews novels in my teens though.

30 came and went. 40 hit hard. I surrounded myself with friends and family and celebrated the milestone but inside I was still sad. The day before my 40th, my cousin's daughter died from an asthma attack. She was only 21. I felt sad for Debbie and for Jessica's daughter who would have to grow up without her sweet mama. And I felt sad for me for not being able to share my 40th birthday with my own mom.

I talked to my dad about death recently. My dad has lung cancer and we're waiting to see how this last round of chemo went. When we talked about death however, we discussed mine...not his. I told him that I had planned my funeral and he told me that if I were to go before him he would assure me that my plans were NOT carried out. LOL

Months ago I recorded myself singing Dust in the Wind on MySpace Karaoke because I want it played at my funeral over a powerpoint of pictures from my life. He said that was a no-go. He said that it would be too sad for people to have to listen to me singing after I was gone....and a little creepy. I pointed out that I was fine with that because I want people to miss me but realize that I'll always be with them. He didn't care. He said that if something were to happen me today I would have the most traditional funeral ever. One more reason to live I guess.

I asked Val what she is going to say when it's time for my eulogy. What stories will she tell about me to celebrate my life. At the risk of ruining it for my big day, this is what she came up with:

"I'd tell about you being a true blue friend - the kind that lets you run wild
in the class room while she's doing her ventriloquist show and not rat
you out to the teacher. The kind that will take the heat
because you're too chicken to fess up to your mother. The kind that
housesits while you go to your father's funeral. The kind that creates and
maintains a website so the world can know how your daughter is doing.
I'd tell about you wearing ugly ties and drawing on white sneakers
and eating watermelon and only corn and before school runs to the Sing
store. And the word we had in Ba for being able to turn on the hot
water in the bathtub with your toes. "

I gotta tell you...those were some awesome words and I shed a few tears when I read them! Val is the best speaker I know and I know she won't let me down when it comes time to lead the round of "remember when" stories on the big day.

Okay so let's get down to brass tacks. What DO I want to happen that day? It's probably morbid to discuss all this but frankly I think that "proper planning prevents poor performance" is never more important than on the day of your funeral. I don't want my kids to have to stress out over details. I want them to be able to enjoy the celebration.

I want the aforementioned music played at my funeral. If for some reason MySpace Karaoke is down I want either the Still Magnolias or Jon Lowery and Tom Eavenson to play guitar and sing for y'all. PLEASE spare everyone the organ music! Nothing sounds creepier to me than "Lady Marmalade" played over a loud speaker on an organ. LOL

Pictures abound. There are no excuses for anyone to not have good pics of me to share during the big show. I've been through too many experiences (okay 2) where we spent good grieving time looking for pictures for the funeral home to scan. Mine are already digital. Bonus.

I want to be cremated for a few different reasons. First of all I really hate the idea of the guilt that people feel when they can't get to the cemetery to visit a grave. Or worse, the panicky feeling that hits when you get to the cemetery and realize that you can't immediately pick it out of the masses. I'd rather my family think about me being a part of the earth somewhere than to stress over putting flowers out for me once or twice a year.

The other reason I want to be cremated....and I know this will never fly so it's going to take some diversion creation by Niki and Jo that I want my ashes shared by my loved ones. I don't care if you have to divvy me up in the parking lot after the ceremony. I want everyone to get a piece of me and do things that I never would have done.

Adam is going to take me on a roller coaster and scatter me there after a ride. Beth will take me to the ocean and let me loose on the waves (where I can assure you some shark will be waiting to gobble up my remains). Jamie will take me to Mardi Gras and let the good times roll right over me. And if it were to happen anytime soon...someone needs to make sure I make it to graduation on Sept. 12th.

I want lots of laughter and storytelling. I've been entertaining y'all for years and I don't want it to stop just because I'm not around anymore. Tell about the stupid things we used to do and the way I made you laugh until you peed your pants.

Promise to make sure that when my kids are old enough to hear the stories, that you'll tell them that I wasn't just a mom but that I was a person who loved them not just because I gave birth to them. And PLEASE remind them where they were born. I swear that if one more of them mentions being born in a hospital I'm going to holler. LOL

Let there be food. LOTS of food. But don't take it to the house where the kids have to deal with it. Get a pavillion somewhere and set up tables and grill some meat. I hear that Keith Edgar is the man to call for that. Find him on my Facebook page. And there has to be devilled eggs made with sour pickles...not sweet. And chocolate cake.

You might be wondering why I titled this blog "She loved painting ceramics, cats, and dogs..." I was reading the obituaries this morning (per usual) and this line struck me as funny. I mean...this woman probably didn't paint cats OR dogs but this sentence reads that way right? Make sure that my obit is free of typos and glaring grammatical errors. I'm not prewriting it (surprised?) so I trust you guys to make it entertaining.

Please don't freak out and think I'm planning my death or anything because I wrote this blog. I'm just a planner and I like to have my memorable events taken care of way in advance. It's how I cope with all the uncertainties in life.

Please make sure that there are no screechy singers and that the chocolate cake is nice and gooey. I'll be watching you know....

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Giving Birth Again

If you know me at all you know two things about me:

I'm passionate about childbirth.

I'm a procrastinator.

Here's my thought for the day...There's a reason that we are pregnant for so long. It takes time for the baby to mature and to get to a place where it can live on it's own. It starts out small and we nurture it as it grows and gets bigger and becomes a fully functional human being. That's the easy part though. While we're pregnant the baby is our's to bear. No one else can do anything to make it turn out the way it's supposed to so we have full responsibility.

As soon as we give birth though....we have to share. We can't do it alone no matter how hard we try or like to think we'll be able. After the baby is a fully formed entity we have to trust that we've chosen the right people to help us help this baby realize it's full potential. And I gotta tell you... that's a SCARY thought for a mom!

So here I sit listening to 80 YouTube clips in a row of Jason Mraz. (Yeah I'm a little obsessed. He's TALENTED though!) I'm sitting here listening to this playlist and writing this blog and avoiding what I should actually be doing. I'm supposed to be working on this paper for school that is the fourth part of my plan/proposal for a new business.

The problem with writing this paper is that the closer I get to being done with this paper, the more I get written down about this business, the more real it becomes. Frankly that kind of scares me. Having it inside and thinking about it is one thing. Actually doing it is a completely different story.

The comparison to childbirth is a very real one. I'm afraid that once I put this down on paper that I will fail this child that I've nurtured inside for so long. What if my procrastination can't overcome my passion? What if I can't make others understand how this is more than just a business to me?

I've had this business in my head...and my heart...for at least 12 years. It's in my blood and all part of the bigger plan of eventually becoming a midwife. I can't let it down. Much like I want my children to succeed and grow and become all that they can be, I want this business to grow and prosper and touch people's lives. Monetary gain is essential of course but also I need for this business to make a difference.

So I think it's time to start working on the paper. I feel some contractions coming. I've got my relaxing music on. I'm through the nose...out through the mouth. No matter how many times you give birth though there's always some pain but the hard work is SO worth it. Hopefully giving birth to this paper...and eventually this business...will be just as rewarding.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Thoughts on Palm Sunday

Today started out much like any other Sunday. My ex yelled at me and told me that I was indoctrinating the kids into a cult. Of course that's not the case. I'm pretty sure he doesn't believe it's an actual cult as much as he's just aggravated about me wanting to take the truck. In any instance, we are going to MyChurch and do feel like we've found a home there.

Anyway, this morning we took communion. It was Justin's first time and I was trying to figure out how to explain it to him. We already read the story of how Jesus fed 5000 people so I knew he'd relate the bread part to that story. As we dipped the bread in the grape juice and took our seats I put my hand on Justin's knee and thanked God for letting me have such great kids and for giving me His kid.

Then it occurred to me... God gave us his KID. When Jesus was born he was just a baby. We read about that. (Yeah.... Jeff gave us homework to read the gospels last week, and since I have no JOB I did it.) We read about Jesus hanging out with the disciples and going from town to town. I get that part too. I understand that He came to earth to teach us about God and died to pay the price because we'd never be able to.

When I became a Christian I was in high school. I had just started driving when I took the plunge. It would be a few more years before I became a parent. The concept of parenting was still very foreign to me. Four kids later though... I'd do anything for these kids. I would take a bullet for each and every one of them. I love them more than life itself.

So I got to thinking as I sat there in church with my 8 year old son. Justin is an angel to me. Yeah he tests my patience on the daily. Yeah he can be willful and disobedient. But I still love him. And I got to thinking about Jesus and what He must have been like when He was 8. And 13. And 14. And 22. What must it have been like for God to watch Jesus grow up? How much pleasure did it give Him to see Jesus learn to walk, and talk, and make friends, and learn about life?
I'm pretty sure God feels the same way about Jesus that I do about my kids. He IS the only begotten Son and all. God loves His Son at least as much as I love my kids. Yet He sent Him here to DIE. Death!! Do you comprehend that?? That means that God loves US SO MUCH that He was willing to sacrifice His OWN KID for US!! That's fairly heavy stuff.

If God loves us so much that He's willing to let His Son die on a cross for us... what is there possibly on this earth that you or I could say no to if He asked it of us? What bigger sacrifice can you imagine than the life of one of your kids? Your ONLY kid? If you're reading this and you're a parent you have to understand one thing...God loves you. A LOT.

I'll leave you with that to think about.

P.S. Next Sunday is Easter Sunday. That means a few things... There will be more people in church than usual so go early if you can. We're having a full breakfast at the 8AM service and I'd LOVE to have more of my friends there! It also means that the Easter Bunny is coming. Don't be like me and wait til the last minute to remember that! Oh and it also means that I can go back to using Facebook every day! (I'm happy to report however, that I haven't missed it as much as I thought I would!!)

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Notebook...Computer

I was talking to Niki last night and we were discussing how some people are concerned with the quantity of pictures of ourselves that we have amassed. Seems like some people think that it's because we suffer from low self esteem or have no self respect because we share pictures of each other with friends.

Well of course my first response was... Why does it matter to you? What effect does my having a lot of pictures of myself have on your life? It must be nice to have your life so well organized and taken care of that little things like how many pictures another person sends out can affect your mood. I mean... one must be pretty together and have very little to worry about if I'm on their radar right?

Then I thought... Wait a minute. Don't people with low self esteem hide from pictures? I post them because I think they look good, not because I think I'm ugly or fat or whatever. I think that I probably have a little too much self esteem if anything. LOL I certainly have more than the average person. WAY more than people my size usually do!

I've always said that this picture thing started when I realized I was turning 40. I never thought I'd get this old. Seriously. I didn't think I'd make 30 either though so... But right before I turned 40 I got to thinking that I'd better take some pictures so I can remember what I looked like when I wasn't old. (Because 40 is old! LOL)

So then...when I started taking the pictures with the phone and figured out how to get them on the computer, taking them all the time became second nature. If I'm having a good hair day or have done something with my makeup that I want to remember...I'll take a picture. Or if I'm having a good time and want to remember it forever...I'll take a picture.

The reason the pics are of me and not of everything around me is twofold. One is because it's a phone people. It doesn't take good pictures from farther away than an arms length. It's not even a GOOD phone like Jo's! You get what you get with phone pics. And since I was raised at Olan Mills, my head automatically cocks a little to the side and tilts forward whenever I see a camera. And the other reason is that because with all the crap I've been through, I need to be able to look back and say "See? You CAN be happy! You DO know how!"

So anyway...I said to Niki "When I am older and more demented than I am now, will you bring my laptop and show me pictures every day to try and remind me that I used to be your friend?" I told her that every day she can bring the pictures and read me the emails and tell me about this girl who loved being around people and who liked to laugh and smile. And when it finally dawns on me that this girl she's talking about is me I will throw my hands up in the air and shout "Woo Hoo!!" because I will have remembered that deep down I am a "Woo Hoo Girl!"
I think I should get cardio points for how long we laughed about it. Definitely worth 10 crunches because my stomach was aching from the laughter. But it felt good. I wouldn't trade it for the world. In fact... If I hadn't been on the phone with her? I'd have taken a picture of it.

So tell me? What are you doing to remember this time in your life? Edie Brickell sang it "Good times bad times give me some of that"

Live a little. And take some pictures. I want to see!