Thursday, May 30, 2013

Reviewing A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion by Ron Hansen

I haven't written about books in such a long time I miss it. Since Nora's been born I've hardly read any fiction but have read a couple of great non-fiction books (My Sisters the Saints: A Spiritual Memoir and Happier at Home) because for some reason I find it easier to read a non-fiction book if I can't find time to read every day. I also read a stack of easy-to-read but not-much-to-write-about fiction in the last month or two of pregnancy because all I could do was lie around. But finally a great novel to write about!

Ron Hansen is one of the today's best Catholic writers. His past books have delved into stories that appear to be more "Catholic" than others such as Mariette in Ecstasy and Exiles mostly because they centre upon confirmed Catholic characters. But what is common in all of Ron Hansen's eight novels is the historic contexts in which his stories are set. He has a canny ability to tell a tale that happened in a specific era while not alienating or burdening the reader like so much other historical fiction. Hansen seamlessly blends the time period with the plot and characters. He does the same with the theological themes which also characterize his work. With Mariette in Ecstasy he explores the fine line between the mystical and the psychological aspects of faith, in Exiles the problem of suffering for faith. In his latest novel, A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion the consequences of sin permeate the telling of the crime and trial of Ruth Snyder and Judd Gray from the roaring twenties.

Ruth Snyder a young yet glamorous housewife and mother who lacks much moral character enters into what seems to be simple affair with a corset salesmen she happens to meet named Judd Gray. The affair seems harmless at first, Judd however begins to feel the compulsion to stop the adultery due to his church-going even though he is also in a loveless and staid marriage himself. But soon the affair escalates in intensity, especially in Ruth's influence and control over Judd emotionally and sexually. Soon Ruth has convinced Judd that she is trapped in an abusive marriage and that the only way the two can pursue their passionate and carnal relationship with each other is to kill Ruth's husband Albert. Of course, Ruth has also gone to the length of taking out one, two, or three extra terms of life insurance on her husband. Judd is reluctant, increasingly dependent upon alcohol, but finally gives in and joins Ruth in killing her husband. What follows is one of the first crime trials covered in detail by the media. Every lurid detail of the couple's affair was divulged, and scorned, but it led to a certain celebrity cache for both Judd and especially Ruth, the first femme fatale, and began a fascination with lust and crime that with which the media has been infatuated ever since.

Hansen's prose is always beautifully straight forward. His simplicity is crafted perfectly in that it pulls the reader completely into the story and historic time period while not wasting a word yet not plunging the reader into pages of irrelevant context in order to describe the historic setting. A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion is a great example of this skill as the story moves swiftly through the illicit relationship to the crime itself bringing the reader deeper than what would seem simply biographical. Hansen's subtly is something I enjoy a lot. Where an author would be tempted to go heavy handedly in a specific dramatic scene Hansen always applies a deft hand, the drama and intensity of the scene can sometimes overtake the reader because of this application. His skill is at its height in any death scene, I still remember the chills I felt when reading certain portions of Exiles, and in this novel the ending was both intense and tragically written.

The overall undercurrent of the book however, is sin and its effects. What begins as a one time encounter becomes a full fledged affair between Ruth and Judd. The sexual relationship between the two becomes almost out of control. Soon murder is talked about casually, then seriously, then planned and committed. The gradual escalation from the sin of lust to murder happens all too easily for the characters.

Hansen's storytelling makes the slippery slope from initial lust to entertaining ideas of murder almost seamless. Its as if the characters lose all prespective on reality outside of their temptuous relationship. They become increasingly obsessed with each other and their sexual assignations. As mortal sin cuts us off from sanctifying grace it in turn also skews our view of reality. We lose our perception towards what is right, things seem upside-down. In consequence one seemingly minor sin leads to a greater sin which leads to committing actions which would previously been unthinkable. The connection between lust and murder is not as wide a chasm as one would think as this story proves.

Because the crime was so ill-conceived the police arrested the couple almost immediately and the newspapers descended on what would be a hugely publicized trial for the time. Movie stars even attended the trial. But Hansen depicts this part of the story in a fascinating way as well. Ruth is still extremely volatile, never claiming responsibility, constantly changing her story, showing no signs of remorse or even the acknowledgement of the seriousness of the crime she has committed.  She does however, convert to the Catholic Church, misguidedly wearing a rosary in the courtroom. Her interior state remains uncertain even up until she faces the electric chair, but the idea of her possible remorse and redemption is an idea that Hansen does not let the reader forget. Judd goes to the opposite extreme and ends up penning a memoir exhorting others to use his mistakes as a warning against sin, preaching to his fellow inmates. Hansen subtly brings up these ideas of the spiritual complexion of the two murderers during the trial and subsequent jail time in a way that raises questions about forgiveness and redemption in the reader.

What makes a good Catholic novel is not that the characters themselves are Catholic. Nor even if the story involves churches, Bibles, conversions or priests as is the case in so many "Christian" books. What makes a good Catholic novel is the exploration of the great truths of life the Church has always held fast, like sin and the forgiveness of sins, through different stories from creative and imaginative writers. Ron Hansen remains one of the best Catholic novelists with this most recent work.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

wiws-I'm still alive!

So its been months since I've linked up with the FLAP ladies, I fell off the wagon to have a baby and then spared everyone my postpartum "outfits".

I  called those postpartum outfits "dark sack #1" and "dark sack #2". But yesterday I actually went to a little effort for Mass and thought I should at least document all that effort!

I think this could be my worst photo shoot ever. 

But it was a beautiful, post rainy day night.

And I had a beer.

See? I'm a terrible model. Thank goodness there were no close-ups.

And I definitely coulda used some heels but instead opted for the leopard print flats because they're uber-comfy and for some reason I still haven't mastered carrying a horrible baby car seat in anything else but flats...geezz Christy...five babies and you still haven't figured that out??!!

I look much more tipsy than I really was.

Do I think this outfit would be much better if I was 10-15 lbs of pregnancy weight free? Most definitely. But life is also too short to keep wearing dark sacks post preggo. 

Happy Trinity Sunday everyone! One of my favourite feasts, I think because I just love the mystery of the Trinity. Still completely mysterious to me and I've sat through quite a few theology classes on it. But I like that, I like knowing I'll never really get it. I like knowing God is a trinity of persons! 

This was my first Sunday back at the helm of doing music at Mass once again. The husband gets an A for effort with keeping 5 kids in line while I'm at the organ. We somewhat joke about the fact that we need to put five-point harnesses in our pew to keep our kids in line. Max only escaped the pew once and shot across the front of the church to St. Joseph. Nora slept thank goodness. And the other three only fought a menial amount of times. So that was all probably one giant miracle. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Seven Quick Takes vol. 44?

Joining Jen-with-a-Publisher this week for the Quick Takes. Can't wait for her book...


I survived another week! But in actuality I really only survived 1 day. Which is kinda awesome! It was the long weekend so the husband was home Monday which was a nice change of pace, Tuesday was the only full day I had with all the kids, then Wednesday the grandparents came out to pick up the three oldest for a little grandparent trip to the city for two days! Its nice for them to get out, because I'm still not there yet. I honestly don't know when I'll be at the point of taking all five out by myself for no good reason, like "socializing" or "activities". We can all hope it happens within the next six months, but I'm not going to sign anything to that effect!


Also in the "not getting out" category-I'm still pretty hindered by the nursing infant. It takes so much energy and organization it seems to always have her fed and ready to go if I want to do anything at all. I'm fairly used to this (see 5 kids in 5 years) but it still is so tiring! I can hardly get to the city and go to Costco in a day what with the nursing before we leave, nursing as soon as we get to the city, nursing before we leave the city, it seems like a lot and I get so little done, and I'm so tired by the end of the day! I know I know...I could pump...but ick...I hate it, I hate the thought of it...and then my husband said well if you really wanted to go out and have a couple hours of alone time you'd pump...but I'm back to ick. So breastfeeding. The longest love/hate relationship of my life. 


At the same time I know I'm not getting out much or doing much of anything I still try to put it in perspective that my baby is only two months old. I think its important to realize that newborn life is important. It changes your schedule, it changes what you can do, but its important. You're home, you're focused on just getting through the day taking care of your baby (and other babies) as best you can and that's about it. You are focusing on a tiny new life that just recently exited the womb where it was growing intensely for nine months. You have to get to know your little baby. Their personality, their needs, their weird sleep patterns. And the baby is adapting to you, and everyone, and life outside the womb! I just think its a big deal. It shouldn't be something that doesn't cause disruption. It should be revered and not something where a mom/family feels pressure to be back up to 100% productivity and busy-ness. 
End rant.


Ana had a beautiful post yesterday on mothering babies close in age.
It made such great points that a crazy life brings a lot more benefits and offers a lot of opportunities for personal growth than the alternative. I think more than anything being a mom, and especially a mom to a lot of babies very close in age, offers constant opportunity to grow in humility. I don't think a day goes by where I don't come face to face my own tiny limitations. I realize daily that I can't love unconditionally in every moment, I need help, I need to learn to accept grace to love. I realize I make a lot of mistakes, I get angry, I have no patience, I'm lazy. Humility begins when you see your own faults and brings you to just asking God for more grace, relying on God more.
Humility is like the gateway virtue. Its the one that gets you on the path of developing all the other virtues. And being a mom to a bunch of babies definitely gets you growing a lot more virtues than you thought possible! Fortitude-try living days then months with a screaming baby who never sleeps at night. You'd think it impossible until you get through it with your own child. Patience? Try listening all day to your three year old ask about 1000 questions. Wisdom? How about the realization that your child may not be at the same pace as other kids their age in some stage of development, but trusting your heart in the knowledge that your child will be just fine, give them time. The list could go on all day! And although I'm in no way perfect in any or all virtues, I'd be so much worse at developing them without being a mom. My heart would be so much smaller.


Since this 7 quick takes is turning into a parenting book I should send you to this post by Haley that I loved this week about the smug mom syndrome.
 Thank goodness God sent me two very colic-y/difficult infants to begin my mothering career! I was instantly put in my place as soon as I had a baby! No smug-ness for me! But I also remember sooo many days AND nights crying and crying through such difficult baby times. It is such a rough ride when you have babies who cry all. the. time. Until you experience it you really don't understand how soul-crushing it can feel. 


Another great thing about having kids close together is the built-in entertainment of siblings! Case in point Max the last two days the older kids have been gone. He's been wandering the house looking for things to destroy then miserably searching for me. He doesn't quite know what to do with himself without his older siblings providing endless entertainment options, even if those options are just rolling on the ground wrestling. He seems a little lost. And he's driving me a little crazy! But he is getting a little more mommy time and has been having such a great time this week outside. I just let him wander and its kinda hilarious. He walks around like a funny drunkard. No straight lines. Plopping down in dirt. Throwing rocks. Throwing moose poop. I probably shouldn't let him do that last one.


I'm looking forward to and hoping that it rains this weekend! I love rain. Alberta is classified as sub-arid I think so rain is few and far between and its been awfully dry so far this May. And I really don't know why I comment so much on the boring for you...But since its raining this weekend and my husband and I don't get out...see above...I would love some tv show recommendations! We watch all the good shows, but have we missed something? What are your favourites? And keep in mind I've got peasant rural internet and can't afford to stream anything, so I'm dying a little on the inside not being able to watch Arrested Development this weekend on Netflix!

Happy long weekend my American friends! 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Five Favs

Linking up with Hallie!
I apologize in advance for the random randomness. How many weeks postpartum does it take to have complete thoughts again??


I just love glasses. I've had contacts and I just don't like them that much. I've liked glasses since before they were cool. So I have multiple pairs...I've been meaning to get a nice cat-eye pair and these were the winners. Cat eye, but not too cat eye. Apparently to the toddler eye these are "mean lady" glasses though. So I'm sure some cartoon is responsible for this type of fashion stereotyping...


The weather.
The weather has been fantabulous. I love spring! The trees have also started to come out here and its that beautiful new-leaf-green everywhere and I love it. And the children run free outside without the hideous restraints of snowsuits or any kind of clothing...
But it hasn't rained so now we need to start praying for that...are you listening weather??


This has been "school" for the past few weeks. They're so well illustrated and the stories are just right for my age group. As in 3-6. The retold fairy tales are really well done I think. I most definitely need to expose Gemma to fairy tales other than Disney! She complained that Beauty in Jan Brett's version had blonde hair instead of brown "like the movie", to which I responded "EXPAND YOUR MIND KID!" I know, I was born to homeschool my children. 


Not Being Pregnant.
Is it awful to admit this is one of my favourite things?? I don't mean this to mean that pregnancy is bad. But when you've been pregnant for the majority of the past 6 years not being pregnant and being able to drink a margarita for your birthday is awesome! I admit it!!


So its a known fact that I buy things according to the quality of its scent so I'm fully on board with this Method dish soap...the scent is Tomato Vine which sounds kinda gross but smells like the garden and it makes washing dishes amazing... Pssaah! Of course it doesn't but it does make it smell pleasant. 
Does the fact I'm talking about dish soap earn me a "I Need A Personality" badge??

Friday, May 17, 2013

Seven Quick Takes vol. 43 - Let's Complain!

Joining Jen in the complain-a-thon! And I love it!
I'm sure everyone else has much worse things to complain about so go join the pity party!


In breaking news this week-all I do is take care of children!! 
I know. Totally not news. But I swear this week its been getting to me. Its the all night, all day of constantly doing stuff for them thats really starting to bring me down. And constantly is not even a stretch, not even one little bit. The past few days I feel as if its all kids, all the time - barely managing to get to the bathroom type stuff.
I've got the newborn who demands nourishment from my body every three hours, then I've got to get to the 16 month old who can't do anything for himself (lets face it) and who is constantly destroying something or making some kind of mess, then I bounce to the three year old who is constantly coming up with new and elaborate plans to involve as many siblings as possible in as many hair-brained ideas in a game of "lets see how much we can do until mom decides to discipline", add in the four year old who is constantly tattling on others, a five year old who never stops asking questions or for explanations for her imaginary world that only she really knows the answer to, and you've got me who didn't stand a chance from the start.
But it really is going from one situation to the next while simultaneously containing the others. All day. No breaks. Exhausting. Its mothering at a very low level of efficiency thats for sure. And I wonder why I can't even wash dishes for more than five straight minutes? Or how I can accomplish quite so little in the span of the twelve hours my husband's gone? 
And don't think I'm being all holy and offering up this type of sacrifice! I think my prayer life is at an all time zero. I'm basically praying at night in the 5.4 seconds it takes for me to fall asleep when I turn off the lights and my head hits the pillow. "Oh hey God please help me to pray a little more tomor....zzzzzzz." Its illuminating.


Next on the complain train: NFP.
There is still no progress in my getting a better handle on whats going on with my body via NFP doctors. I honestly think I'm going to have to go to medical school in order to get a medical professional to take me and my wacko reproductive system seriously. But by the time I'd finish medical school I'd be way past menopause so it would be useless.
Also; there needs to be a NFP pope. Someone to declare what science, or what method, or whatever, is legit and the real and true right way so there can be no more arguing and dismissing of each other. Because I am completely tired of people who supposedly have a lot of knowledge about NFP completely dismissing me when they learn I use one method. They hear I don't have an infertility problem and thus come up with the completely revolutionary idea that I don't have health issues I must be too stupid to chart properly and would be perfectly fine if I just switched to their method. Over seven years of experience charting diligently doesn't matter. Looking at my charts doesn't matter. The idea that I've had five kids in five years; no big deal, she wouldn't be interested or knowledgeable in both her own body or the science of NFP....Ooohhh nooooo this woman just needs to switch methods that'll fix everything! I seriously am going to start presenting my symptoms/charting before telling people I have five kids because it presents almost the same as many women experiencing infertility issues but no one seems to think it worth investigating when I experience the opposite problem.
Actually I'm just starting to believe maybe I am a complete dunce and have no idea how to chart and the past seven years have accumulated zero knowledge of my body or NFP. Maybe I should just call it quits and accept the idea God wants me to be the next Mrs. Dugger. I guess if I did that I'd at least be free of all this NFP aggro!
Ok...I'm making myself stop now.


My mom and siblings are gone for a week to New England to attend my other sister's college graduation from a fancy Catholic college. Which is fun for them, not fun for me who gets her only break from toddles by going over to their house just down the road and begging for babysitting! By some alignment of the stars however, instead of my husband having to work overtime the entire time they would be gone he's gotten an extra day off so this weekend has turned into a four day long weekend. WIN!


I did manage to get to the greenhouse this afternoon. My first time out of la casa all week-yay for another adult being around! Which is a favourite annual event for me. I love picking out colourful flowers to perk up things around the house. I also like complaining that my poor flowers are only going to last a couple of short months because we live in the sub-arctic. Seriously, I was pumped yesterday when I realized it hadn't froze at night for almost a week and could start thinking about planting a garden. These a low expectations people.


My little peanut is almost smiling! I think she may have a serious streak because she doesn't seem to into yet. I love the newborn first attempts at smiling. They smile with their eyes. Then try to form a smile with their mouths and lips. But doing both together at the same time looks like it takes them so much work! They're hilarious. She's almost two months old. How does this happen?! Why does life with a newborn feel like a blur of one long day put together?? This week I hardly knew what day of the week it was.


This Girl-and her crazy hair-turns 6 on Sunday! (And check out the fly in my picture, weird no?)

My other little peanut is turning 6 on Sunday!!
That is ridiculous. I remember after she was born being completely unable to imagine having a child that old and that 6 years would be an eternity! And now its gone by so quickly. Six feels like she's not a baby anymore. She's just a kid. Good thing she's great. She only wants cupcakes, cookies, cake, ice cream, and fruit for her birthday dessert. French toast for her birthday breakfast and a request just came in for Kraft Dinner for lunch. A consummate gourmand.


In addition, I'm turning 28 on Monday. When I have a baby at 21, I like to have it one day before turning 22....or that was what I thought at the time I'm sure.
Its a holiday Monday which is nice, so the husband will be home, I'm going to sleep in a little and then my plan for after that is to watch the whole of Season One of Veronica Mars while drinking ALL the margaritas! Come over and we'll party!

Happy weekend everyone-and everyone in Canada have an awesome Victoria Day loooonnnggg weekend!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Five Favourites For the First Time!

Joining dear Hallie for the first time! Hallie started this linkup when I was one million weeks pregnant, a time where literally nothing is your favourite. But I've recovered enough to jump on board!

(However, I'm definitely spelling 'favourite' the proper Canadian way.)

This is my Everyday Luxuries five favs!

But it can also be called my five favrourite buys from Homesense, otherwise known as Homegoods to you Americanos. I don't get out to shop often, obviously, but I have a deep abiding love for Homesense. It makes me happy just to walk down the aisles because everything is beautiful. I love finding treasures there too. Plus its five minutes away from my in-laws house where they're usually watching my children so I can almost always squeeze a quick five minute trip in while I'm in the city! I buy all these regularly from Homesense at what I think are great prices. Each of these is under $10 but our homes and ourselves are worth a little treat every once in a while, or everyday!


My favourite bubble bath, Scottish Fine Soaps Au Lait. Its got a great scent that's clean yet not flowery yet not too too old lady. Actually my husband may have complained about old lady smell in the past...but I still love it! Its very creamy...I guess because its milky...and makes lots of great bubbles which I think is essential in bubble bath. Haven't you had a "bubble bath" product that made crap bubbles?? One of life's biggest disappointments.


This is Pecksniff's Freesia and Poppy Fresh Linen Spray. I've talked about this before and I still love it a lot! It makes your bed smell like England...or how I think England would smell. Or at the very least what the sheets in Downton Abbey smell like. Its heavenly and makes getting into a fresh clean bed so much more satisfying! Or making old, sour breastmilk smelling sheets passable. Not going to lie.


Flora and Fauna candles. These make the whole house smell wonderful, last a long time, and are soy candles so they aren't going to give you various forms of cancer...supposedly. I always buy these in the clearance candle section at Homesense and I've never had a scent I didn't like. They're exotic yet not perfume-y smelling. Everyone says that lighting a good candle enhances your home, you hear it everywhere, but I've really come to love it. I think its a complete girly thing because my husband totally doesn't get it, but lighting a beautiful candle at night while I drink a glass of wine while watching home improvement television after the children have been locked in bed is one of my few pleasures!  I also really love Paddywax candles which are also in the clearance section all the time as well.


So something I refuse to compromise on is really good hand soap. I love this French soap so much. The best smell, leaves your hands feeling velvety and clean. I don't find it that expensive because it seems to last a long time. It lifts the spirits on those days when every child is sick and poops a million times warranting your hands being washed a billion times. And I have only freaked out occasionally when a certain boy decides he needs a gallon of soap to wash his hands.


Homesense has the cheapest prices on this chocolate. I know because I've become chemically dependent on expensive chocolate and try to buy it everywhere I go. But you can pick up these bars for almost half the price at Homesense than even Wal-Mart. These are my two very favourites. The caramel and sea salt is one of God's greatest creations.

Now I want chocolate.

Go see Hallie and everyone else with the great favs!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Seven Quick Takes vol. 42

Joining Jen and all the great takers-like the ceiling can't hold us!


Well this week has felt like the first whole week of spring around here! Children frolic-ing out of doors with no clothing, not one day of snow, windows open, its like a dream! A dream where my kids can roam outside and not be within five feet of me for every waking hour, a dream where they're exhausted by 7:30 when we put them to bed. For the next four months life won't be too shabby! 


I just finished Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin this week. I feel somewhat underwhelmed by it. Somehow I thought it was going to have a little bit more dramatic tips and lessons for what one can do to create a happy home. Or maybe simply because there was so much hype around the book itself. It does give great ideas on cultivating one's happiness as it centers around the home, and its got me thinking in different ways about my own happiness, and the happiness level of the home does rely upon the happiness of those within I guess I liked this book! 
I'm always in favour of books that try to reestablish the importance of the home. Our culture does everything it can to get us out of our homes, dissatisfied with our homes, and lazy about our homes, both physically and spiritually, so any mainstream book that tries to fix this error is a winner in my book.


I haven't read any fiction since Nora's been born and its starting to get to me! I almost never not have have a novel on the go, but for some reason postpartum brain makes my attention span so short I find that non-fiction is easier to come back to in the tiny moments I can get to read these days. I did however take The Betrothed out from the library because I read its Pope Francis' favourite book...but I didn't realize its so long...and so old. The copy I have from the library has the most itsy-bitsy print I've ever seen so I think I'm going to try for a better copy. Anyone read it have any advice? Should I leave it for a better time? Is it worth it no matter what time in life? Should I get a philosophy degree before cracking it open? 


This is the best thing I've read for Mother's Day yet...
"Mommy Juice" is a great gift any day of the year...


If you're in the mood for an article comparing the morality of HBO's Girls and Jane Austen this is the article for you. Its a terrific article about the philosophic divide between the morality of our culture today and the morality Jane Austen valued. Its excellent, read it to the end!

(I really, really, really geek out over articles about Jane Austen AND morality being compared with contemporary tv/books. Even though I've never watched Girls at all. Not because I'm on the moral high ground when it comes to tv watching, I mean who am I kidding, its mostly because I don't have HBO and do have ridiculously expensive internet service.)


The jury's out on this jacket I scooped up at Winners the other day. I buy things these days without trying things on in the story because a) I usually have a baby strapped to my body, b) no time, and c) I have no issues returning things. Sorry about the bad iphone pic, and use your imagination to picture me not in yoga pants. Thanks.
Its a bargain, its leather-ish plus blue tweed which I think makes for an interesting mix and makes it a little less completely leather which is probably good for me because I don't know if I could pull that off so well. I'm trying to buy only fashion items approved by The Evangelista...or at least thats one of my goals in life.
Yay? Nay? You can do better?


I'm off to write some Mother's Day cards. I'm the worst celebrator of Mother's Day ever. Cards. Flowers. No originality around here. Or for my mom in this case.

I'll be happy with a little "mommy juice" come Sunday, maybe a bath?  Hope all you moms have the greatest of weekends!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Nora's Birth Story

Fresh from the womb

I think I've already forgotten parts of Nora's birth story and its only been 6 weeks! I need to write faster!

To begin with, I know that birth is an inherently spiritual experience for women. I just don't think you can get around that. Its a big deal and each and every birth experience effects a woman's soul differently and profoundly. I believe that completely with my whole heart. That being said, I feel like I'm too close to my experiences to really know how they've changed and altered me and what I've learned, so this post won't be too elaborative or beautifully deep like so many other great birth stories I've read. I think I'll be unpacking my birth experiences for a long, long while. 

So before I get to the nitty-gritty-get-ready-to-push part, I'll just explain that I was seriously battling anxiety towards the upcoming birth for about two months prior to Nora being born on March 25. I think my birth related anxiety is getting worse with each pregnancy which is weird and bizarre because each of my births have been getting progressively shorter and better overall. I've been blessed to have 5 natural births, three at home(or in the home of my in-laws), and these last two at a birth centre all with my fantastic midwife with no major complications! But I do think that simply being a mom longer, having more knowledge of childbirth, and maybe just being more aware of the importance and magnitude of pregnancy and birth can lead to a little more anxiety. Or it could just be me! But in a last ditch effort to combat my pregnancy cray-cray I ordered the hypnobirthing book at about 37 weeks and read it cover to cover as well as started to listen to some "birthing affirmations" on my iPod at night. Now I didn't expect the hypnobirthing book to completely make me have a pain free birth, I was more looking for help having a more relaxed attitude towards labour instead of immediately going into hyperventilation and general losing my mind at the thought or feeling of a contraction! I'd say the book helped reaffirm my feelings of how a natural birth is normal and that my body can do this thing, and the more I relax and let it happen the better it will be! I'm not sure if listening to the affirmations did much other than give my husband a break from telling me every five minutes that the labor would be fine, I'd do fine, everything would be taken care of, God was in control, etc, etc, etc.

How did you grow inside me??

Ok, onward!

I'd been having not-so-lovely contractions or "pre-labor" for a couple weeks at least, usually at night or in the evening when I was finally able to have a few minutes to myself and put my feet up. The couple days leading up to birth-day were no different. The Saturday night, or two days before she was born, I had had quite strong contractions fairly regularly from about 10pm, and I thought it was go time until about 2 am when they just stopped completely. Sunday night the same not-too-serious contractions started again as we were watching The Walking Dead, and I just ignored them and got ready for bed as usual. The contractions didn't feel too strong or regular but I couldn't sleep regardless. I tossed and turned till about 1am at which point I called my mom and asked if I was being a crazy person or if this was the real deal. Because calling your mom and asking her if your contractions are real is a completely scientific aproach to figureing out if you're really in labor or not. 

You see the problem with knowing if I was really in labor or not is important because we live two hours away from the birth centre where we wanted to have this baby, and with my last birth Max was born 20 minutes after we got there after a total of four hours of labor!! So we wanted to be on the ball with real labor, but I'd been having contractions for weeks, these didn't feel too strong plus I also didn't want to have to wake my poor sleeping husband to drive me into the city two hours away in the middle of the night, wake my mom to watch the kids, wake my midwife in the dead of night all for a false alarm! Also; when you're nine months pregnant all these things seem much more important and pressing and dire than I can adequately express!

After talking to my mom, who despite her usual best efforts isn't completely psychic and couldn't tell if my contractions were the real deal or not, I decided to wake up and freak out the sleeping spouse. He was pretty calm despite my mild freaking out and we timed the contractions for about half an hour and they turned out to be seven minutes apart at which point my husband decided we should leave. I had to have my early-labor-cry, which I always have(!), so I blubbered and tried to find everything I wanted to bring, then cried some more at the thought of having to leave my sleeping babies to have another baby.

We got in the car a little after 2 am on an absolutely freezing yet mercifully clear night. I had prayed frantically a couple days earlier when it was a full blown blizzard and the roads were dangerously covered in ice, snow, and a couple other deadly plagues, so a clear night and bare roads was a minor miracle. The contractions continued on not getting too much stronger or closer together on the drive, as I calmed down and tried my hypnobirthing relaxation and breathing while listening to The Lumineers and praying off and on.

That is one cute squishy crinkled face

While we were driving I could tell that this was really labor by those really strange baby movements, as you can feel the baby somehow moving lower...a completely weird and unique sensation, so that was a relief and we were no longer in false alarm territory. Finally-hurray!-we made it to the birth center and met the midwife. Oh yeah, my dear midwife happened to have to go out of town for only two days in the month of March for a course she was required to take and this was the new midwife who had just begun working with her who also turned out to be unbelievably kind furthering my supposition that midwifery is a vocation for extrodinary souls. But at this stage of the game I can honestly say that I didn't care who was there catching this baby because this baby was coming out! 

To say it was a relief to know we had gotten to the birth centre and not had this baby on the side of the highway in minus double digit temperatures would be a huge understatement! In light of this relief my husband fell fast asleep on the beautiful bed in the birthing room. Well, we both fell asleep, sort of. Since I was pretty tired from being up all night and the contractions still didn't feel that bad I thought I'd try and lie down and chill out. The midwife turned down the lights and left us to napping. The birth centre isn't as great as home for birth, but it still is wonderful to be able to lie on a huge bed next to your husband while you're in labor. I think I may have even slept between contractions although they were picking up by now, as it was about 4:30 am when we arrived at the birth centre, I was partly thinking how awesome I was for not completley freaking out this time, for taking things easy, for relaxing.

The midwife had popped in a couple times to ask me how I was feeling and to listen to baby's heartbeat but I was still feeling decent and lying down felt good and my husband seemed to be sleeping well so  things were rolling along pleasantly it seemed. But I looked at the clock at 6:30 and thought this is starting to take too long and I don't want to be in labor forever! So I got up, went to the bathroom, prayed that this birthing train moving, and basically told my body to get going! After that things picked up really quickly. Within twenty minutes I was in "transition" (one of the worst words ever in the English language!), contractions were starting to really, really, really hurt and I wanted to be in the shower. I always go for the shower at this stage of labor...I always think I'm going to choose the peaceful looking tub and go for one of those zen water births but I always turn out heading for the hot shower and getting really intense with profanity use. I have no idea how long I ended up being in the shower or what was going on otherwise but I decided I was done with that and headed for the bed again. At this point I was at that ridiculous point where everything is hurting all the time and who knows when a contraction begins or ends! I also have no idea what to do with myself physically. I don't want to lie, crouch, walk, kneel, I just want the baby out! Somehow this led to pushing within a couple minutes...its really a blur. I pushed for about 15 minutes, trying to not push too hard if that makes any sense, and then completely miraculously a baby comes from all that pain! The midwife handed her right up to me and I was completely shocked by the amount of beautiful dark hair, even though my husband had said she'd have lots the entire time! We also knew she was a girl but didn't tell anyone! Selfishly I wanted to keep that to ourselves and it practically killed my husband not to say anything, and I was a little shocked that the ultrasound was right and it was a girl.

Her lips and cheeks are still this sweet and adorable

Of course I completely burst into really blubbery tears as soon as I got her in my arms. Blubbery, adrenaline laced tears of joy and relief. Really, the best feeling in all the world! The marathon pregnancy, and all the long weeks leading up to birth made the relief of finally having the baby in my arms so sweet. Birth is so strange in that you're hugely pregnant then in a matter of hours a whole perfect little person is here to look and hold! Its really an amazing miracle...requiring a lot of pain...but worth it.

Nora was born at 8:04 am at a perfect 6 lbs, 15 oz, and healthy-I'm not nearly thankful enough for 5 healthy babies but I'm working on it. It took us till the afternoon to realize that it was the feast of the Annunciation, except that this year it was Holy Monday. I sort of love that I had a baby on the feast of the beautiful Annunciation to Mary that she had conceived the Son of God by the Holy Spirit, its some nice spiritual/baby irony. We gave her the middle name Marie in honor of the Blessed Mother, and after the scads of grandmas and aunts who share it as well. It fits perfectly for our little sweet pea.

Now, more than six weeks later I'm still so happy birth is over and she's here! Going through pregnancy and birth five times doesn't seem to have increased my enjoyment of either, but it has increased my thankfulness after a beautiful new child is in my arms each time!

Where are all the pictures of me in labor and looking awesome two minutes after pushing out a person, you ask?? I was up all night and just gave birth-all photos of my face shall not be seen for a good twenty years.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...