What a surprise when over six inches of snow blanketed my parent’s hometown yesterday. It snowed nonstop from about 10 AM until well past 10 PM, which meant a white, winter wonderland awaited the kids this morning.
To say we were underprepared for winter weather would be an understatement. No gloves, no snow boots/pants/coats. It didn’t matter though! We layered up with what we had and stomped through the neighborhood as soon as we were done with breakfast. Snowy days tend to last only about 24 hours (it was already melting off the trees when we were outside today) so I’m happy we were able to be outside and enjoy the snowfall while it still felt like real snow.
And, to compare:
Scott might be in for a slight adjustment once he returns to this continent.
I thought it got cold where we live, but Northwest Washington has us beat by a whole 22F (at this exact moment; I just checked to compare the two cities). It might even snow this week. GULP! I know there are other places in the world that are much, much colder, but it’s our current reality and we are adjusting to learn how to live with the chill. At least for a few more days until my husband returns from overseas we head back to the surf and sun of the Northern Baja peninsula. Where it’s still cold…but not that cold.
Couple the cold with the late sunrises (7:33 AM) and early sunsets (5:18 PM) and it can seem like shadows and wind chill rule our waking hours. There are a few key things that are helping save my life these days and adding a sunny, silver lining to all those clouds . They might seem a bit commonplace to deserve an entire blog post unto themselves, but when it’s making that much of a difference they are definitely worth mentioning.
Wall to Wall Carpet
Yes. I just named a synthetic fiber ground covering as the number one thing that is saving my life right now. As heads are scratched around the interwebs, allow me to explain. Our house does not have carpet. Nay, it doesn’t have any floor covering to speak of except cold, white tiles. Which are f r e e z i n g cold in winter, even in our moderately temperate climate. Our walls are concrete block which are covered by the thinnest coat of plaster (no sheetrock here!) and a hastily applied paint job. It is impossible to properly and thoroughly heat a house that is made of solid rock. Trust us, we’ve tried. We’ve bought space heaters. We have hot water bottles and heating pads. I leave the oven door open after baking to let the dissipating heat radiate through the downstairs. We have a portable propane gas heater that takes the chill off if it’s run for an hour or so, but leaving an open flame in our main living space (or to run all night in a bedroom God forbid) doesn’t mix well with three kids ages six and under. It stays cold, period.
Now, put us on a few airplanes and fly us a thousand miles north and what do we have? Colder weather, of course, but we also discover carpet. This lovely, soft, cushioned, heat-retaining substance that caresses our feet and covers our floors and softens our falls. Carpet has been a game changer for us on this trip, so much so that I don’t dread getting out of bed in the morning and haven’t worn my ‘house slippers’ (which I brought with me on this trip) when I walk around inside. It’s the most mundane of items to most people, but it’s number one on my list today.
With my husband overseas and 15 hours in the future, we’ve been relying on technology to keep us in touch. The kids ask to “FaceTime Daddy!” every day but we’ve only been able to connect twice. It has been precious to see the kids’ faces light up when they see Daddy appear on the screen. Of course they fight and scramble over who holds the phone and then tears ensue, which slightly ruins the whole purpose of the video call. Regardless of sibling squabbles, I’ve come to appreciate the gift of technology and the instant boost it gives to a relationship during our time apart these past few days.
All the Other Things
Here are a few other life-lines that are floating around me these days:
Wood-burning fireplaces. My parent’s house has one and I might have single-handedly contributed to the deforestation of the planet this week. Worth it.
Cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents. When we live far away from family, time together is special and cherished.
Utility services that work, and work fast. The power went out the other night. I was prepared for the world to end. And then, it came back on. Just like that. I basically witnessed a miracle.
As I type that sentence I realize once again how not normal our life is. We take trips around the world like other people go to the store for milk. Well, maybe not as frequently but it often seems as common as the check out line at the grocery store. It’s still exciting. It’s still thrilling. It still makes us pinch ourselves and think how blessed we are to be living our passion and calling.
He will travel for a ridiculous amount of hours, land with massive jet lag, gather his team, and then spend a week or so building a home for a family and a playground for a community. Then he puts it all in reverse and travels back to us.
Have I mentioned how unnormal our life is? Is that even a word?
While he is halfway around the world, the kids and I (with the help of my sister – aunties to the rescue!) will fly to Washington State to spend a few weeks with family. The kids are looking forward to Christmas with the grandparents. Yes – they’ve kept their tree up, have presents wrapped, and the lights are still up. In spite of all the logistics and planning to make a border crossing, two flights, and three kids’ worth of stuff happen, I have hope that the travel with be great and the trip will be even better.
For a few weeks, our hearts will be in two places at once. Whether I’m the one staying or sending, we all go together. Our life is what we all do, not just one person because they are the one getting on the plane destined for a remote, exotic location.
I will miss my husband so much. At the same time, I’m so proud of him for leading, going, and bringing others.
I was laying in bed yesterday morning, in between alarm-going-off and actually-getting-out-of-bed. Pondering all the things that were to come that day, I remembered that my husband was leaving for a three day trip in a few hours. Immediately I flashed back to all the other trips he’s taken over the past few months (our work usually keeps us pretty local but he’s had some commitments over the fall and winter that took him all over the place), what had happened during those times apart, and a slow wave of anxiety started to rise inside my chest. We had been sick. The power had gone out. The kids missed their dad. Memory after memory crashed through me as I began to dread the upcoming 72 hours while he was gone and we were here. The suddenly, like a splash of cold water, this thought appeared in my mind.
Write a new story.
Before my day had even begun, I was allowing the past to determine how the future would unfold. Thanks to a decent understanding of my DISC profile, I know that a high S(that’s me!) tends to evaluate future events in the light of what’s gone before, so I had a pretty good idea where this ruminating was coming from. Nonetheless, this simple thought rang out: Could I write a new story for myself, my family, my life over the next few days? Did I need to let what had happen influence what could happen?
Write a new story.
It’s the morning of Day 2 and the story is halfway over. I’ve struggled with the blank pages and new pencils, but what we’ve written so far isn’t half that bad. After all, it’s ours and it’s new and there’s still more to write.
Our little ones have been fighting a cough and cold this week. Yesterday Madison woke up super early crying about ear pain. She didn’t relent for about three hours, yelling, “It HURTS!” while adamantly refusing anything I tried to do to help her. Finally, after essential oils, heat compresses, hydrogen peroxide, and Tylenol, she settled down and dozed for about 10 minutes on the couch. Miraculously, she woke up happy and pain-free. Hallelujah! Even more miraculously, she actually fell asleep during our afternoon quiet time (which hasn’t happened in close to two years) and slept for almost an hour and a half, snuggled next to me.
It’s hard for me to see my kids sick. Not only because they are in pain or miserable, but because I’ve come to believe the lie that their physical wellness is directly connected to how well I care for them. If they are sick then I did something wrong. We take a slightly alternative approach to wellness and health care in our family (not a lot of doctor visits or prescriptions…using a lot of oils and other natural approaches) and I harbor a hidden fear of being ‘found out’ that blazes to the surface whenever my kids don’t feel well. That someone will point a finger and accuse me and I’ll be helpless and defenseless. As if I can control how their body responds to every germ or virus that may pass their way? I know where the root of that fear comes from(I haven’t written much about my family’s story lately, but there were strong themes of accusation and helplessness woven all throughout) and as I stood in the shower yesterday I decided to confront it head on.
My kids are not sick because I didn’t something wrong.
They are being cared for because I love them.
I’m not in control of their physical wellness, but I can choose how I respond to them when they are feeling icky. My response to their pain reveals the depth of my love for them.
I hear them hacking and coughing as they wake up this morning. It’ll be another day of teas, oils, and restful play. I set my intention to care for them.
Here are some thoughts I had during my prenatal care with Angelica, the midwife who attended our homebirth in Tijuana in November 2014. These excerpts are from an email conversation with a phenomenal woman who has dedicated her life to humanized birthing in Mexico. She has (and continues to be) a pillar of support and source of knowledge for the birthing community in Mexico and beyond. Although we have never met in person, I consider her a dear friend and close confident with all things pregnancy, labor, and postpartum.
Just wanted to drop you a note to let you know how my partnership with Angelica Granada is going during this pregnancy. We ‘officially’ switched our care to her about two and a half months ago, and since have had two home visits with one coming up next week (we also met with her twice before that to get to know her and her approaches to care). We have decided to not see an OBGYN concurrently with her care (unless, of course, something occurs during the pregnancy that warrants their care). I am intensely appreciating her approach to prenatal care – it’s very hands-off, trusting of the mother and baby, yet at the same time with attention to details.
The home visits (which I LOVE that she offers) have consisted of a conversations about diet, exercise, how I feel, how the baby is moving/growing, and then blood pressure, measurements, listening to me and the baby, and taking a few notes. Then we usually start discussing a question or topic that I have in mind and go on from there. No lab work, blood draws, weigh-ins, or excessive paperwork to fill out. Actually, I haven’t filled out ANY paperwork with her yet, except for writing my name in her spiral notebook where she keeps her client notes. She has a few methods/practices that I’m not completely in agreement with, but willing to let those go for now and deal with them when/if they arise
In comparison to what she DOES offer, DOES practice, and DOES believe, those few points are quite minimal to me. I still plan on having something in writing about our desires before, during, and after labor so we can agree on and refer to it. In describing her training and expertise, I would say she is much more a traditional midwife than a modern midwife – traditional in the sense that she is trained/skilled/knowledgable, but still influenced by the current medical approach to childbirth and pregnancy that remains here in Mexico. Does that make sense? I’ve found that doing supplemental research on my own in regards to diet, care, preparation, etc, has been much more helpful than simply just asking her ‘What should I do for…’
It’s almost painful for me to think of the situation that a midwife like Angelica finds herself in – even if she WANTS to expand her knowledge, WANTS to access the latest evidence-based findings, WANTS to update herself with approaches or practices or techniques…where does she turn? To whom can she go? And even if there is someone/somewhere, how would she even know it was available or know how to access it? And would it even be in a language she can comprehend? Not speaking against her competency or intelligence as an individual in any way, but just reflecting on what I’ve observed in the medical community since living here for the past 12 years.
Here are the things that have made my heart sing with joy (and relief!) as our relationship has progressed:
she is totally okay with no internal exams
anyone can be at the birth. the birth can be AT HOME (a setting in which she has practiced many times)!!!!
she has some knowledge of herbs, teas, etc for the pregnancy and labor
no episiotomies, but she can do sutures if needed after the birth
if i want, she is fine with leaving the placenta with us
i can birth and labor in any position
i can eat and drink during labor
after the baby is born, s/he goes straight to the mom to begin breastfeeding as soon as possible to help stop the flow of blood, contract the uterus, and promote attachment and bonding
completely promotes and supports breastfeeding
placenta is birthed on it’s own time (no traction or pulling)
so far, she hasn’t mentioned a total time limit for labor (unlike the dr with my previous pregnancy here who mentioned freidman’s curve as his point of measurement for a successful labor)
As I read that list I think, ‘Well, DUH!’ But then I have to chuckle and smile and shake my head in gratitude that I will be ‘allowed’ to birth this child as I was created to do.
It wasn’t long before we met and passed all three due dates we had for this pregnancy – one from the doctor, one from the ultrasound, and one from Angelica. They all were at the end of October, but from the moment we found out we were pregnant I had a sense that it would be a November baby. Maybe I convinced myself to wait? Maybe she needed those few extra days inside me to gear up for her big day? I’ll never know why but I do remember being at peace with whenever labor decided to start.