Sunday, January 6, 2013


Every once in a while I remember to take my own advice.

I feel like one of the biggest gifts that parenting had given me, besides two amazing little people, is the expanded ability for self reflection.
My oldest has been having 'big feelings' ( as we call them) for quite a while now. Bopping back and forth between two houses with wildly different rules and values (and other issues) is hard for even older kids to handle. Her feelings tend to bubble over and come out in ways that are hard for both of us to manage. We're currently seeing an amazing child therapist, but in the meantime we still have to trudge through it all. Safe hands and safe feet are our biggest challenge right now. A challenge that I usually deal with solo since my husband works nights. And really, I'm the one she tends to break down with any way. I'm told this has to do with trust and that that should make me feel at least a little better, but it really doesn't.
So, we've been working on choice right now. It is one thing to have all of these awful things going on and all these big feelings but what really matters is what we choose to do with them and that we really do have a choice. I know she feels so completely out of control and frankly I do too. It is so easy to wallow lately. I'm finding it hard to take pride in my parenting and often feel like I am just trudging through until we make another leap in development or until my husband no longer works nights. My heart is sick with worry for her and it is crowding out the joy it used to be overflowing with. And this is where it clicks for me.

I can choose to find the joy again. Yes this is hard. Really, really hard. The kind of hard that makes my soul hurt but I can't allow it to take away my joy anymore. Honestly getting bogged down is really only going to make things worse. My amazing little girl is trying her hardest to make choices and if she can do it, I can. I miss our joyful times. I am so flipping tired of things being hard. Everything isn't going to get better over night and I am at the point where I just want to scream with anger at what she has to deal with, what we all have to deal with. So this is me refusing to let the difficult times define me and my children. I'm going to start practicing this joy thing again, and try to blog about it to remind myself. If anyone has anything that they find helpful, please let me know.

And that's it. I'm too tired now to write anymore.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Far Away

'I see the Moon and the Moon sees me,
the Moon sees somebody I want to see.
So Gods bless the Moon and Gods bless me,
and Gods bless the somebody I want to see.'

I read somewhere once that loving someone is like having your heart walking around outside your body. It is exciting and scary all at once. Especially if you put so much of your heart into someone and they go far away.  I think my issue is that I just love too much. Or maybe that a theme in my life seems to be that those I love move away. All over the world there are pieces of my heart walking around. Oh, I'm happy for them. Happy for them all but see... I never left. I feel like the light house, the last one left on shore to hold up the light just in case anyone decides to come back home. I think that's why I never left myself. I've been secretly terrified that when I did decide to go, they'd all come back. But so far no one has.
20 years.

I did the math the other day and realized I have been waiting for one of the people I love to come 'home' for almost twenty years now. I'll most likely reach the end of this life and still be waiting.
Maybe that's part of the reason I felt so pulled to Ryan. I got to be his one who came back.    

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Respect Goes Both Ways

I'm fairly certain I am not the first Vegan to write about this. Hell, I'm probably not the first Mom or Pagan to write about this either, but today it is really bubbling up inside of me and I need an outlet for it.
Sometimes I feel like I live in a respect bubble. I've spent many years now trying to cultivate a community of friends that hold similar values and who are generally not jerks. I do however like to make sure that I don't completely surround myself with folks who hold all of the same beliefs that I do. I like to learn and I find people incredibly fascinating and how would I do this if I only ever hear the same ideas over and over again? The problem with this however is becoming slowly apparent to me.
I think the idea of needing to respect people for their opinions is getting a little out of hand. There are many 'truths' out there but frankly there are only certain facts. I could go around all day telling people every little thought that came into my head about how they live their lives but I don't. Why? Because it is not always nice and certainly not always needed. It seems that these people who want others to be respectful of their beliefs ( read keep you mouth shut) tend to be those who think it is then okay to make fun of or belittle others under the guise of honesty or, my personal favorite, free speech. I'm sorry, but having an opinion is not a license to be an asshole.
I don't pretend to vomit on some one's hamburger when we're out to eat, but it seems to be okay to wave it in my face and ask when am I going to start to eat meat again? My children will never go hunting but it's okay to constantly ask me when can you take them or comment on how our dog would be great hunting dog? How about I ask you when you're going to quit stopping for children in crosswalks or kicking puppies for fun? Oh, but heaven forbid I say anything like that because it would be rude wouldn't it? It. Would. Be. RUDE.
I do believe there are times when holding one's tongue is dangerous and I struggle with this a lot especially in my activism. But I think we can all agree that poking fun and being mean, however lighthearted, is not the best way to make change.
I often try to keep in mind when moving through life these three things:
Is it true?
Is it kind?
Is it necessary?

No? Then maybe it should be given a bit more thought before it comes out of your mouth.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Home Birth of Wulfric William

 This post is long overdue, but it seems that every time I've sat down to write it something gets in the way. Hopefully this time I'll get all the way through.

I went to sleep on the night of April 8 feeling like I would be pregnant for ever. Ryan, my husband, was working that night and while I had an urge to call him to come home I resisted for fear of another false alarm. So I went to sleep alone hoping that things would get started that night. I woke up the next morning disappointed, but happy to have some time to lie in and enjoy the sight of our apple tree blossoming outside of my window. My doula Liz texted me asking how things were going and I lamented the absence of all signs of impending labor. She reassured me that baby knows when to come and to rest in that thought. Funny enough though, I began to notice during our conversation that my low back ache was becoming somewhat rhythmic and spreading around to my belly. This was about ten in the morning and I called her and then my good friend Ryan ( not husband but girl Ryan) to let them both know I thought this was it. I decided to wait to call my husband since he was off at a story time with our daughter Lilly and I didn't want to rush them home. I paced around for a while, taking my time getting ready waiting for them to come home. (I remember now how important it seemed to find just the right comfy outfit to labor in and the perfect color top too-an earthy green.) I made sure to tuck the little piece of citrine girl Ryan had given me into the little pocket in my pants to keep it close by.

When it got closer to noon, I began to worry that husband Ryan had decided to take Lilly to school and save me the hard car ride. They walked in the door though and I asked him if he was ready to have a baby today. Poor guy was tired from a long night of work and no sleep, but he rallied right away and we sprung into action to complete the few errands we had to do. At this point my surges ( contractions) were still only mildly intense and I easily ignored them for the most part. We took Lilly to preschool and then went to our local co-op for a last minute stock up. I was feeling pretty high on labor excitement and Ryan was quite silly from lack of sleep. We were in there for a long time and I'm sure looked really strange especially since I was now stopping now and then to lean on the cart and breathe long and low. After our shopping spree we went back home where girl Ryan was waiting to help out and husband Ryan went up to try and get a bit of rest. Girl Ryan and I took Ari ( my dog) to the doggy hotel place where things got much more intense when the idea of leaving Ari there made me very emotional. Back at home again I started to eat a bit and then wandered off on my own to labor on the birth ball for a bit. Girl Ryan came to sit with me as everything revved up very suddenly and I entered active labor. She called both Liz and my Midwife Kate. Husband Ryan got up and set up the birth pool and Liz, Kate, and Melanie ( midwife assistant) all arrived within minutes of each other right around four.

I snuggled in on the couch in a nest of blankets and pillows feeling quite blissful. This is where time gets hard to account for to me so I'm going off of Liz's notes and my vague memories from here on out. Lilly is dropped off now and she does her best to make me smile, dressing up like a kitty and running around on all fours. Counter pressure is feeling really good, and both Liz and I feel something in my pelvis shift as she is applying the pressure to my sacrum. I'd like to note that, per my request, no cervical checks were preformed at any point during my labor or birth and Kate and Melanie checked Wulfric's heartbeat by doppler occasionally.

I was on and off the toilet during this time, and finding peeing in front of an audience to be hard! I think I saw a bit of mucus plug or something pass but didn't really give it much attention since it was already obvious that labor was underway. I was trying to use some of the hypnobirthing techniques I had learned, but found at this point that all I could focus on was trying to relax completely and just let go. I was finally feeling surges as I thought they were really meant to be felt. With Lilly I had all back labor and never felt anything in front. I was riding the surges like waves and really reveling in them, their intensity and meaning exciting me in a way I can't really describe. Around five the birth tub was filled and I got in. Oh. My. Goddess. I cannot describe how amazing the warm water felt! I had music playing in the background of out little spare room that the tub was in. My husband, Liz, Kate, and Melanie where close by. My friend Ryan was hanging out with Lilly as we weren't quite sure how she would feel about being there and I wanted to honor her feeling while at the same time showing her what normal birth could be like. She was a great comfort to me. She held my hand and poured water on my back. I was beginning to vocalize and she soon decided to go into her room and play.

I think around five or five thirty I went into this total stage of relaxation. I'm not sure what it looked like on the outside, but I felt so connected to my body and completely separate from it at the same time. I was in some in between space where nothing and everything reached me. I was lying on my side with my face on the edge of the tub staring out the window. Tibetan chants came on in the background, long low beautiful tones that matched mine so well. Right at that moment the sun came through the window at the most beautiful angle and shined right on my face. I felt such a divine and perfect love. I remembered in that moment a message I had received early that week. I had been visited by my Great Grandmother's spirit. She had felt my frustration in waiting for my baby to arrive and she just shook her head and smiled. 'Oh honey. This is going to be so hard.' Her words had been frightening to me at first but I knew she only meant the work I had to do would be tough. I felt her right then and could tell transition was coming soon.

At six my water broke. Liz got right down real close to me and let me know that things can sometimes get very intense very fast after this happens. I was SO glad for her words. I was able to prepare for this and not be pulled under by the intensity the surges now gained. Kate said the water had meconium, but that it was old. Baby's heartbeat still sounded great though. She was so calm and reassuring that no one in the room worried.
I had been feeling pushy for quite a while but after my water broke this feeling intensified. I think this is the point I really turned inward and stopped letting everyone around me know how I was feeling. There were offers of water and food, which I think I refused most of. I know I kept saying I was done. I kept saying this because some part of me thought I needed someone else to tell me when I could be done, not realizing that in this birth the power was all mine. My surges stated to slow down a bit, I believe in response to my resistance and needing a bit of a break from the intensity. Suggestions were made to try other positions and get out of the tub. At the time I thought everyone was crazy for even suggesting I get up but eventually I agreed to go sit on the toilet for a while to try and help open things up.
I really want to try and explain how pushing was feeling at this time. I had always heard of orgasmic birth or blissful birth and thought it was a little over exaggerated. Now, I'm not saying that I didn't feel pain, because I did, but when I really started to involve my whole body in pushing my baby out the feeling was amazing. There was this spot right above my belly around where the solar plexus chakra is that felt so pleasureful every time I pushed that I didn't even want to stop pushing! The only way I could describe it is that it was similar to the feeling of having a very tight and sore muscle massaged to the point of curling your toes it feels so good.
My pushes while on the toilet started to get big and I could feel baby moving down. Husband Ryan started helping told hold me up. My thoughts went to the baby, but at the same time I was still resisting. I still had a feeling like I couldn't do this without someone telling me I could. I wish I could remember what my doula Liz said in this moment. She got close to me again and could tell I needed to let something go. I told her I couldn't do this anymore and wanted drugs. I think just voicing this to her helped because shortly after baby started to crown! I don't think anyone else knew, but I sort of tilted my pelvis up and showed everyone what was going on. I had to be persuaded to move again, but Kate stating that she didn't think I really wanted to have my baby on the toilet did the trick. Husband Ryan helped me up and onto a birthing stool where just a few pushes later Wulfric was born into his and Kate's hands at 7:28. I like to say that at this time my voice came right back too and I didn't really stop babbling for the rest of the night. The rush of hormones after birth just carried me off with them!
Third stage was wonderful! I got back into bed with some assistance. Wulfric never left my arms until I was ready for him to. Girl Ryan and Lilly came back from the store ( perfect timing) and Lilly got to help cut the umbilical cord after it stopped pulsing. I got to see the very healthy placenta that was encapsulated that night by husband Ryan. I had two tears that required a few stitches. I was expecting this as I felt them happening while he was crowning but didn't really care at the time. Girl Ryan really helped me through being stitched up. You know you've got a good friend when they'll distract you while your genitals are being sewed back up! Wulfric managed a good latch, with help from Liz, and got his first drops of colostrum. We did the newborn exam right there on the bed, 7lbs 14 oz, just a little bit smaller then his sister. After he was all checked out and I was fed we got tucked into bed to get some rest.

I'm sure I left some pieces out. That's what happens when you wait to long to write it all down. I am glad that I will always remember how perfect and healing this birth was for me. I had an amazing support team and an experience that has brought me so much strength that it radiates out into the rest of my life.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I see myself in her

All beings tremble before violence. All love life. All fear death. See yourself in others. Then whom can you hurt? What harm can you do? ~Buddha

See yourself in others. That's really at the root of everything I believe. Simple as that. 

Right now Ari is sleeping on the chair next to me. We are not of the same species, we do not hold the same rights, she is considered my property. Most people consider her to be an 'it', her life is worth less than mine, in this state she could be used for laboratory experiments. Why? 

Because she is not me? Because she is an 'other'?

Or is it because she and I do not speak the same language? She cannot build a house with her hands. But I can't either. She will never compose a symphony or discover a cure for cancer. I haven't done either of those things. Is my life worth less because I won't ever contribute as greatly to society?

She is dreaming right now, I am watching her limbs twitch in her sleep and her heavy chest rise and fall faster and faster. I dream. 

She feels fear and pain, joy at simple pleasures and loves more fiercely than anyone I have ever met. She and I both bleed. I know she would cling to life just as desperately as I would if she was being killed. She may not plan for the future or even understand the concept, but neither do a lot of humans. Should we value them less as well?

When I look at her all I see is her life, her warmth. I see myself in her. I do not see how she is 'other'. I see that she can run faster than me, she can hear things I cannot, she is more forgiving than I can ever hope to be. Some wouldn't consider me to be a contributing member of society, but I am not my husband's property. I am not less than him.

I see myself in her for all the ways that we are the same, all the ways that I think matter at least. I can't un-see that. I cannot harm her or demean her. 

Right now I think she is dreaming of running.
I dream of running too.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

And a Good Point of View it is.

Point of View

Thanksgiving dinner's sad and thankless
Christmas dinner's dark and blue
When you stop and try to see it
From the turkey's point of view.

Sunday dinner isn't sunny
Easter feasts are just bad luck
When you see it from the view point
Of a chicken or a duck.

Oh how I once loved tuna salad
Pork and lobsters, lamb chops too
'Til I stopped and looked at dinner
From the dinner's point of view.

Shel Silverstein

Photo of Antoinette at Farm Sanctuary taken by Jo-Anne McArthur.

Antoinette is an individual sentient being who can feel pain and terror just like you and me. She has desires for her life, none of which include being a dead centerpiece. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Vote for my kid!!

I'm jumping on this REAL late as the voting ends on the 17th, but I would really love it if you could vote for my little Lillers!! She has been chosen as a finalist in PETA's Cutest Veg Kid contest.
Here she is in case you don't believe me about the cuteness factor...
Thank you for your support!!!!