Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Happy Birthday

To all the babies born November 17th, 2010, here is my wish for you...

I hope that you are born to parents who love and want you as much as mine loved and wanted me. Please don't be too hard on them. They are doing their best and sometimes we, the November 17th babies, are a hard bunch to handle. Give them a break and don't lie about not having homework. As stupid as it seems now, it will benefit you down the road. Even algebra. I promise.

I hope that you have a lifetime filled with wonderful friends who are there when things are good and even moreso when things are bad. Don't cut people out of your life without a REALLY good reason. Everyone deserves grace and if you give it to others it will be easier for you to accept it when you need it. Besides, you never know when you're going to run out of gas and need someone to bring you a gas can.

I hope that you learn early on to keep a gas can in your trunk. I'm just saying...

I hope that in third grade you make friends with the person who seems to be the least impressed with you. I promise that they will be the one who will keep you grounded and stick with you through thick and thin. They will hold your hand when you get married and when you have to say goodbye to your parents. They will cry with you over your babies and rejoice with you when you accomplish great things. By the will accomplish great things! I have faith in you!

I hope that you know that you can go out and have a good time without doing stupid things. Getting crazy drunk doesn't make the night more just makes it harder to remember the fun you DID have. Plus it really sucks the next day! Also, if you're going to indulge, get a designated driver and tell them who specifically you are trying to avoid. Trust me, this will help you later on.

I hope that you become a voracious reader. Books are amazing things that can take you on journeys and expose you to things that your world may not offer you on a daily basis. Read everything you can get your hands on. Even cookbooks. Especially cookbooks. Knowing that "florentine" means "it has spinach in it" has saved me more than once.

I hope that you have beautiful babies of your own one day. Whether you are giving birth to them yourself or supporting your partner while she brings them into the world...Don't be afraid. Birth is amazing and wonderful and an opportunity for you to find out what you're made of and how great a parent you have the potential to become. Don't take that responsibility lightly.

I hope that you find a good church and that you have a good relationship with Christ. He's a pretty awesome guy and He can help you when all else seems lost. BTW...when I say church, I don't mean a building. I mean find yourself a bunch of believers who can help you celebrate life and also be there for you when things are tough and life seems to be crumbling. Nothing can touch the peace that comes from knowing that you are never alone.

I hope that you develop a love of music. Don't complain about Christmas music in October (because it just means that your birthday is right around the corner!) and don't discount any kind of music just because your friends don't like it. There are good and bad songs in every genre. Listen to the lyrics. Listen to the beat. Listen to the melody.

I hope that you know that being "cool" isn't the way to happiness. The cheerleaders are having fun but they are stressed out from all the work of practices and homework. The star of the school play is having fun but she has to worry more about messing up her lines. You don't have to be the star all the time. Be yourself. You are awesome just the way you are! I know this because we have more in common besides just being born on the most amazing day of the year!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Conversation in a Bar

The other night we held my Big Wish Birthday Bash at the Uptown Vault. My actual birthday isn't until the 17th but because of scheduling and all, we decided to celebrate on the 11th. The reason for the Big Wish tag is because if you're one of us who makes a wish at 11:11, you get a BIG wish on 11/11 at 11:11. Combine that with making a birthday wish and you can't get much bigger! My wish was for Hope Harbour to have all the funding and supplies that they need for the coming year. It's a great organization and you should totally check them out.

Now that we have established WHY I was in a bar, let's get on with the conversation. This guy came in who had seen the info for the event on Facebook. (Before Jamie gets all stressed out about me having a stalker I need to point out that it is a very public place and all were welcomed!) We sat there and talked for a while and he told me his opinion on population control. He brought it up because of our discussion about what I do for a living. And I really think that even though he's put a lot of thought into his plan, that there were some serious flaws in his reasoning.

I won't go into details about what he thought but I would like to tell you a little bit about my opinion. I know that a lot of people think that I'm a bleeding heart liberal for believing that we as a society are responsible for each other. I believe that how we treat the least among us says a lot about how we are as a people.

I think that an overlooked step in resolving a lot of our social problems is to find ways to help people take responsibility for themselves and their families. That doesn't mean cutting them off from resources, but the opposite. Give them the tools they need to make wise decisions.

Since my main focus in life is on pregnancy and birth, I have concerns over how the birth industry is run in this country. I think that our "system" makes it too easy for people to hand over responsibility for our families and in some cases, those choices are downright taken away from us. Women aren't able to fully participate in their healthcare decisions because they are fed misinformation by the very people that they hire to take care of them.

Of course I'm an advocate for unmedicated births but not because I want to see women suffer. I think there is a misconception that when I say teen moms for example, should go unmedicated that it is because I think that they should be made to "pay" for what they have done. Nothing could be farther from the truth. When a mom is given full disclosure during her pregnancy and is armed with FACTS, she is able to surround herself with a support team who can help her to achieve a birth in which she is able to fully participate and not just be a bystander while procedures are performed on her body.

That mom is more likely to breastfeed and take more responsibility for her child. Because she is breastfeeding, she becomes the primary caregiver instead of a well-meaning family member who has further stripped her of responsibility and reinforced her self-doubt. Armed with hormones that she is biologically entitled to as a breastfeeding mom, she begins to see herself as a strong woman who is capable of much more than her peers who walk away from serious life choices.

Sadly, it is not only teen moms who make decisions based on misinformation and half-truths. Well educated women are probably even easier for doctors to dupe into medically-managed births based on their fears of what "might" happen. And those women are robbed of the first experience of motherhood on a daily basis.

How do we fix this though? That's the sort of thing that keeps ME up at night. We have to, as a society, demystify childbirth and, yes I'll say it, sex. Open, honest, TRUTHFUL dialog about it so that the stigmas attached to the topics fall away. When our daughters hear us talking about it, let them hear good stories and not horror stories designed to frighten them away from it. Heck when our sons hear stories, let them be good ones so that they will be able to support their partners in childbirth one day!

The couples that I work with are great. They have educated themselves, gone to classes, read books...they are dedicated to achieving positive birth experiences. Our biggest obstacle as a birth team is never the hospital or the care providers. It is always the family members. The fear they bring with them into the room. The myths that they have accepted as facts for generations. The mistrust that they have in the process.

So to the guy I was talking to, and you know who you are, I was not ignoring you or blowing you off. I do have an opinion and a lot of experience to back it up. I may not have been able to articulate what I needed to say to you that evening but I hope that after you read this, you'll understand why it was not something I could shout to you above the din of the karaoke or the smoke from your ciggarettes. And thanks for coming to my party!!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Out of Gas

First of all, let me start by telling you that I drive a gas guzzler. A bona fide, dinosaur, big-hunk-o-metal jeep. A 79 Grand Wagoneer to be exact. And I love it. I really do. The kids like to play a game where they point out another vehicle on the road and we try to guess which of us would survive the impact of a collision. The jeep usually theory of course.

The downside to driving such a safe vehicle is that I can't afford the gas. Theoretically I guess that makes it safer since it's usually parked somewhere and not on the road. But I digress... I have to plan my trips away from the house very carefully. I don't make random side trips and I'm very efficient at getting from point "A" to point "B" with the least amount of fuel waste. I know ahead of time if I'm going to have to make a trip somewhere and I plan accordingly. And yes, I do get testy if I have to drive somewhere that is not on the schedule because I know exactly how much gas I have to work with for the week.

Friday I drove kids to the Springer for the One Act Play competition. We made it down there fine and parked and walked where we needed to go for the day. All was well. When it came time to go, I knew we needed to stop and get gas. I also knew exactly which gas station I was headed to. It was the same one that I stop at on the way home from downtown on many nights after a trip to karaoke. The jeep knows the way even without me.

So we're headed to the gas station and I feel a hesitation. Not. Good. I can SEE the gas station but I can also see a yellow light. If I keep going, I will be going through the intersection "probably" okay but "maybe" while the light is somewhere between yellow and red. We'll call it orange. I assess the situation and realize that one of the children in the car is not from my DNA so I hit the brakes. Mis. Take.

When I hit the brakes, the gas left in the tank sloshed forward and away from the fuel line, causing the jeep to sputter and the engine to die. Even though the light has not come on, I know that I don't have the gas to start it one more time and get it to the station (that I can SEE) unless it starts on the first try and at the moment the light turns green. So I wait. And as the light turns, I try to start the jeep and it DOES start but only long enough to stall out again.

What to do? What to do? The girls get out and push me the 20 yards it takes to get around the corner and off of Wynnton Road. But now we're sort of just stuck here. So of course I think "I'll post this on Facebook!" I put out a distress call that I was sitting there out of gas with no gas can and within 2 minutes I already had offers to help. All in all, six people responded and one even offered to go buy a gas can and bring it to us! In the end, my friend Patsy from high school (who herself was sitting on the side of the road with a flat tire) drove to us and brought us a gas can with a gallon of gas in it, which was exactly what we needed to get to the gas station.

So what did we learn? Besides the obvious...I now have a gas can in my jeep...we learned that people genuinely want to help. They will go out of their way to be helpful for near strangers and friends alike if they know that there is a need. Once the need is identified, people DO care enough to help out. We also discovered that two hours is not that long when you have three singers in the car. We sang everything from Sugarland to Christmas carols. And we laughed a lot.

We learned that grownups and teenagers won't get bored when they hang out together if they just open up and communicate. And that we're not that different when it comes down to it. We learned that Facebook (and the Blackberry) are useful tools when it gets right down to it. Someone commented that they would have never thought to post a distress call on FB. But social media is used heavily by a lot of people and it never hurts to have 700+ friends who care about what happens to you!

We also learned that every situation can be a blessing. Some people might have been really stressed or irritated about finding themselves out of gas on a cold November evening. We just saw it as an opportunity to hang out and I got to see a friend from high school (and junior high school!) that I hadn't seen since 1985. Lots of memories surfaced of hanging out with Patsy at Martha's birthday parties and staying up all night talking, and of my friends who were in the band with her. It was a good thing.

By the way... Most of the people who offered to help were Raiders. I'm just saying. We DO look out for our own!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

New Beginnings

I'm a little afraid to say things are looking up because that always seems to bring things crashing down around me. Things are good though. GREAT birth yesterday! The kind of birth that makes me wish I had a do over for one of mine. (Not sure which one because I really had awesome births!) Watching how wonderfully prepared this mom was and how beautifully she handled every contraction. Truly awe inspiring and totally the way things were meant to be. I can honestly say that I've never seen a woman walking around during transition and having calm conversations with smiles and laughter. She's my new hero. Beautiful big baby girl, too!

Today was the day that my Tastefully Simple kit arrived. I've already coached my first hostess and gotten her stuff ready for her party next Wednesday. I'm talking to the next one tomorrow night. I can't wait to get started sharing these products with people! A friend came over and bought a box of beer bread tonight and just posted on FB about how great it turned out. I like when people like my stuff!!

And tonight I'm skipping karaoke so my baby girl can come spend the night with me. She has One Act Play competition tomorrow so I'm driving them downtown and hanging out with them until she has to be back at the school to board the bus for the final game of the season. Can't believe she's finishing up the first semester of her junior year soon. This life is rushing past at the speed of sound!! Can't keep them babies forever...