Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Walking away from disordered eating and all its lies is very hard. But in doing so, I have found that one of the greatest joys of my life has been returning to me: my love of baking. There really wasn't much fun in baking when at various times I thought that either white flour, sugar, butter, milk or eggs were the Devil incarnate seeking to enslave and destroy me and all of humanity.

I love baking, not just because it is creative and potentially artistic, but also because it is chemistry. It is science! Mwahahaha! I am the mad baking scientist!
Behold my glorious creation!
The bending and using of baking's rules and chemical reactions to create something earlier only imagined in my mind is very exciting and thrilling.  There are times I am so high from it that I say things like, "I will bake something new every day!" or, "I must have my own bakery and share my joy and creations with the world!" even "I will take over the world with my cookies!"

Perhaps I will do all of that. Ok, I've never said that last bit. But the rest, the rest all seem like very good ideas most of the time.

I've thought about starting a blog devoted to baking, but a quick google search reveals that those are a dime a dozen. It also would require a lot more time and effort than I have at my disposal right now, caring for a 4-year-old and a 15-month-old.  It would become just one more thing on my plate that I would end up resenting and doing half-assed.

Sometimes, I think we are too eager to take what we love, what brings us joy, and monetize it. In order for the thing we enjoy to truly have inherent value and be "worth our time", it must make us money, or bring us fame, or add something socially valuable to our lives. The joy it provides is never enough.

What if my baking is enough as it is? Is that such a radical idea? I enjoy baking. But I don't want to bake for money. I don't know that I really want to bake for anyone else, especially if money is involved. (How terrifically selfish, and honest, of me...) This attitude is very likely to keep me from ever improving our financial station, I realize that. I feel quite affable toward that decision.

As it is, baking is enriching my life and making me happy. I am going to let that be enough.

...however, I am a creative, artistic person. I reserve the right to change my mind at any time. ; )

Sunday, December 29, 2013


^ last year ^
Last year I made a resolution for 2013 on the heels of my husband's hospitalization with complications from type 2 diabetes. It was a vague, but purposeful, "to be the healthiest I/we've ever been." Admirable, sure. The good news is it did begin to happen; however the reality of it coming into being looked very, very different than I could've ever imagined.

Now that the year is drawing to a close and I reflect upon it in hindsight, I see that the greatest things to change are the eyes with which I see myself, and the scale by which I measure health. Though I said one thing at the start of 2013, my mental projection was something else, something more specific and narrow - I thought along the lines of weight loss, exercise, diet. Maybe physical strength, too. But in my planning, I neglected the things that were in fact more important to true health: sleep, mental health, self-love, moderation, balance. Thankfully, those important, neglected things were the things dealt with as the year progressed.

I am the healthiest I have ever been, but I am still not healthy. I don't look any different really than a year ago. I weigh about the same, wear the same clothes, I don't run any faster or lift significantly heavier. What progression and changes that have happened, have happened all in my mind and thought life. I can recognize when I am motivated by self-loathing, I can recognize when I am not eating enough, when I am depressed, and I do not feel trapped by these mental prisons anymore. I am not free from them, not yet, but I can at least see them for what they are and change my behaviors in that moment. That is progress.

My resolution this year is to continue on this journey of being my healthiest ever. Even if that means I gain weight. :) My specific goal is to exercise less, and sit with and play with my children more. (This is a huge goal for me, as I am recovering from anorexia athletica, and orthorexia.) I plan on eating all the things that I have spent years feeling guilty about wanting and enjoying. And to enjoy them! I hope to begin to learn how to be present in all things: when I am eating, when I exercise, when I am with my kids, or reading a book - whatever I do, to be all there and not thinking about what else needs to happen or may happen next, or how I look or if I feel fat.

Health is not weight loss, as I thought it was. Health is not the adherence to a set diet of any kind; it is not the exclusion of junk foods, it is not the inclusion of fruits and vegetables. Health is like a long mathematic equation to which there are many, many factors. Having a pristine diet and exercise regimen, but being mentally ill, or suffering from insomnia, or depression, or losing your hair or your period, or developing an eating disorder - these are huge red flags that a person is, in fact, in some capacity, unhealthy. Sometimes, nay most times, the answer is a small subtle change, like not having coffee after noon, or not watching tv in bed, to help you sleep better, or taking a short family walk after dinner every evening. These small changes are not only the easiest to implement, they are the most sustainable. As Galadriel said in Lord of the Rings, "Even the smallest person can change the course of the future." To make it relevant: Even the smallest change can improve your overall health. :)

I wish health and happiness for you all this upcoming New Year!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Leap through the Field like a Flippin' Deer

I love lifting heavy weights. LOVE. So much so that I forget sometimes that there are awesome health benefits, because it turns out I am not lifting for the health benefits. I lift because I love it. I would lift every single day if I could. I don't get tired of it, I don't get bored, it's like a game against myself that I can never lose.

I enjoy running once in awhile. A couple times a week at most. Any more than that, and I freaking hate it. It becomes a chore. It becomes stupid and I hate it. Did I mention that I hate it? I don't care what sort of health benefits may come from running, I only run when I want to. I will never run a marathon, and I am one-hundred-percent OK with that.

I like yoga. I hate Pilates. I love burpees, when they're all done and over with. ;) I love dancing, jumping, chasing my kids around the house and yard, taking them on long walks. I love being able to move with my kids, and pick them up, both at the same time, without getting (terribly) winded or pulling a hamstring. Most of all, I love variety, so I do all sorts of things, some things never more than once. I try it, and then go on to try something else. That's what works for me.

Back when I was in the painful, controlling grip of orthorexia and anorexia athletica, I ran out of obligation and compulsion. I ate salad and did Pilates for the same reasons: I had to change this body, force it into health and appropriate physique. It was a sad, and decidedly not fun, time in my life. There is a meme out in cyberspace that reads "exercise to reward your body, not to punish it." I like that. Because I am recovering from this and other eating disorders, FUN has become the foundation for how I chose to move my body. If it isn't fun to me, I am not going to do it. Period.

We all need to move our bodies to be healthy, no doubt. The health gurus without agenda will tell you to find a way to move that you love and do that often. (The ones with an agenda, the ones who are wrong, who shall remain nameless because life is too short to waste time talking about what I hate, they are the ones saying you have to move in a certain way, a certain amount of time, blah blah blah blah blah.) The thing is I am allowed to hate something other folks love. So are you. There is no sacred cow of exercise. Crazy, huh?

There is no virtue in moving your body if you hate the way you are moving it. I realize that is a blanket statement quite possibly not backed up by science, but in the grand scheme of things, why waste your time doing something you don't like? I did that, and I made myself all kinds of sick. If you are out there pounding the pavement because you need to lose some lbs, but you loathe every second of it, then stop and try something else. Skip down the road if you want to, leap through the field like a flippin' deer. Or walk. Try Zumba. Try lifting heavy weights. Tell those know-it-all buttheads gurus that what they really need is to take a long walk off a short pier. Quitting running, or not lifting weights, doesn't make you a failure at the pursuit of health. It doesn't make you a failure at anything. Going through the motions of an activity just because it has health benefits doesn't necessarily make it the healthiest choice for you, and doesn't mean you are enjoying any of those benefits.

When we listen to our bodies and move them in a way that we enjoy, there is a vitality, an energy, that starts radiating out of us. It is very contagious - in infects others, it infects us, making us want to duplicate the feeling again. Joy is very healthy for you, by the way. Being happy releases a LOT of endorphins. :)

I am not a medical professional, by the bye, and I am not telling you to ignore the advice of your doctor, if said doctor has in fact given you specific advice. But if your doc has said you need exercise, than find a way to move your body that you enjoy. Exercise doesn't just mean run, or lift, or spin. Move your body in different ways until you find one that you enjoy, or at the very least, don't hate and can learn to enjoy.

this is actually an impala, not a deer, but you get the idea. Leap through the field, baby!

Monday, September 16, 2013

stop hating your body

My daughter turns one in a matter of days. When I think on that, and when I look at her, all that I have gone through in this past year since her beautiful, perfect birth (Zao's Daddy being hospitalized when she was barely a month old, moving twice, acknowledging an eating disorder, acknowledging PPD/A) suddenly becomes a soapbox. I want to change the world for her. I know that to do this, I start with myself, and I start with my family and our home. I want her to be so strong that she never suffers from a distorted body image or disordered eating. I want her to understand in her core that she has a right to exist and live in her body as it is, whatever it looks like, that she already is beauty. She will always be beauty. I want her to understand that we don't have to internalize or accept what other people say about us; that just because something is said doesn't mean it is true, even if it is said by our entire culture. What we think about ourselves, and how we see ourselves, that is all that truly matters. I want to help her view of herself remain strongly positive. 

As I said, most of that starts with me. It starts with my attitude about my own body, the words I use both in my head and on my lips about my magnificent person. No more bemoaning my short Eaton legs. (Mom, I know you at least understand what that means! haha!) I have powerful, STRONG legs. And they are beautiful. I remember that, every time I deadlift. ;) No more frowning at my soft tummy. I grew my babies in that tummy. Did you hear me?! LIFE grew within that soft, beautiful tummy. Two gorgeous, precious lives. Miracles. My soft tummy is an effing rockstar.

This isn't wishful thinking, this is changed thinking. This is me, standing up and saying that the media and the magazines and the models and the celebrity moms, are wrong. They are wrong about themselves, they are wrong about women, and they are wrong about me. They are wrong to perpetuate an ideal that few, or no one, can achieve, and that everyone feels subpar because of. Think I am over-reacting? Just glance at the assault as you check out at the grocery store. Just peruse health and fitness sites online. "Strong is the new skinny." (I hate that, on so many levels, for so many reasons...) "Obsessed is the word the lazy use to describe the dedicated." "Real women have curves." "Sweat is fat crying." "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels."

What an onslaught, from both sides: fat-shaming, skinny-bashing, no one is safe, no one is OK. I get angry at every single one of those catch phrases. Such lies! Manipulation at it's pinnacle. 

"Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels." Let me tell you, I ate a hell of a lot of food in culinary school that tastes way damn better than being skinny ever felt. In fact, I never felt worse than when I was skinny. Steak au poivre with a mushroom cream sauce deglazed with brandy, followed by creme brûlée tastes SO freaking good I honestly don't give a damn what the scale says, or what size my jeans are. Ice cream. That's really all I need to say right there. Ice cream dagnabbit!

But I didn't always own that. I am hoping, praying, that overcoming my weakness will be the base of my daughter's strength. I hope that by owning this knowledge now, I can help my daughter understand it from the get go.

To understand that however she grows, she grows beautifully.

That size and shape say absolutely nothing about her as a person. She hasn't failed if she's fat. She hasn't earned anything by being fit. We will not fuel fat-phobias, or skinny-bashing, in this house. We will celebrate our beauty. I want her to know...

...that being beautiful isn't all about hair and makeup. (But sometimes, it is. :))

...that being beautiful isn't just about character and compassion. Though sometimes, it is.

...that whether she loves exercise, or doesn't, has children, or doesn't, pursues a career, or doesn't, that despite size, height, wardrobe, or bank account, her worth and her beauty are constant, undeniably real and true, and she has every right to exist and live her life in her body, and her personality, as it is, out of the box.

I am trying, and I am working towards, this goal in myself. To be the strongest, healthiest version of myself, especially in my MIND. To live with passion, grace, and compassion toward the world, starting with myself. 

Want to help me change the world? Let's start with ourselves. Next time you see your nemesis flaw, whatever it is, in the mirror, find a positive adjective for it. It may help to think about its FUNCTION, not just its aesthetic. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then behold your own beauty! 

I'll end with these words by 180degree.com writer Julia Gumm (if you haven't checked out that site, by the way, go and do it now. Good stuff! Just don't read the comments :P) You can read the full article here. Bold emphasis is mine. 

"There is a striking dissonance between how we treat the people we care about and how we treat ourselves. If you aren’t filing yourself under the “People I Love” category in your brain, you can be led to do lots of silly, painful things that deep down, aren’t going to make you feel any better. So the next time you stand in front of a mirror and sneer at your less than flat abs or get angry with yourself for having enjoyed a dessert, ask yourself why. Why is perfection so important? What does it matter and who does it matter to? Remember that exactly who you are has been crafted by eons of evolution and the passion of your ancestors. You are an incredible thing.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Behold. You are beautiful. Go forth from that place. Afford yourself the love and acceptance you grant those dear to you, dear. No one deserves it more than you. No really. You and those big honkin’ thighs of yours."

Friday, September 13, 2013

the search for health, part dos

You can read part one of this series here

*Please be advised, this post contains potential triggers and open language about eating disorders.

My body is not my enemy. 

I can trust my body when it tells me it is hungry. 
I can trust my body, and feed it what it is telling me to eat. 
My body wants to be healthy, thriving, healthy
I can trust that my body knows what is best for itself, to achieve a thriving vitality.
All food is good food.

When I first developed and suffered from disordered eating, in my early twenties, it was pretty bad. I had no set parameters, but I limited what I ate severely. I exercised compulsively, most times twice a day, at least once a day, and never took a day off. Never. I stumbled upon cleanses, and detoxes, and other natural things that could rid my faulty body of this evil called the toxic food I ate. I was actually addicted to those stupid natural cleanse pills until right around the time I married my husband. He was the one that encouraged me to no longer buy them, and it is because of him that I first walked away from my disordered eating behaviors. But sadly, I didn't realize how important treatment was, how crucially important it is to seek help and to talk about it in a safe environment. I stopped the physical behaviors, but had no idea that what was going on was rooted in my mind. That's why it came back - not because I did anything wrong, per se, I just didn't know. We didn't know how truly severe and dangerous this thing was. I had no idea that it was so ingenious and nuanced. No clue.

And if I hadn't slowly gotten sicker and sicker, thinking I had fructose malabsorption, then adrenal fatigue, and researched those things in-depth... If I hadn't read this book, this article, this website... I probably would still be there, in its clutches.

There is the assumption that an eating disorder means you are throwing up all your food, or never eating, binge-cycling, are a too-skinny teenage girl. These are stereotypes. An anorexic is just as likely to be overweight as underweight. I never made myself vomit, so that's not necessarily true, either. Eating disorders are no respecters of gender, or age. The most basic of definitions is that an eating disorder is any range of psychological disorders characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating habits. 

There is a social stigma surrounding eating disorders, surrounding mental illness and disorders, and they literally drip with shame. We still want to lock ourselves away in the attic, like Mr Rochester's wife. I've lived with that, waded and swam in it for years. Ashamed that I wasn't a good example, ashamed that I had these behaviors. These behaviors must prove I am a messed up human being. Must prove it, because we definitely don't talk about any of it. Ironically, those are the thoughts that helped put me there, in the first place. I am not good enough, and must change. I must make myself change. (It is very nuanced, though... there's that word again.) I must make myself healthy...on and on, yada yada.

What's happened? Why am I talking about it now? I think it's because I had a daughter. That, and I finally moved beyond denial and shame and admitted, acknowledged, named the Truth. I believe that it has to be talked about. The lifetime risk of developing a restrictive eating disorder is about 33%. That's higher than the risk of developing breast cancer, 13%, for what it's worth. (World Health Organization) For the sake of one more person beginning their journey toward freedom and not losing their life, I will talk about it.

How is it that I am not ashamed? That has taken time. Corrie Ten Boom wrote about forgiveness, and I am grossly paraphrasing here, but the gist is that it is a daily practice. Sometimes it is more frequent, or less frequent, but basically every time that shame rears its head, I push it away. It comes back, I push it away again. I say, No, I've already dealt with you. (This is what she practiced with forgiveness.) It isn't that I've had to forgive myself, I didn't do anything wrong, I didn't do anything to bring this on myself - I'm accepting this reality, and pushing away the shame. 

Shit happens. We're broken people, sure, but that doesn't mean we can't be mended. It doesn't mean life isn't glorious anyways. It doesn't mean we aren't glorious. 

The truth is we all have a monkey on our back, whether you are in denial about it or not is another story. ;) And this is mine is this life. The amazing, astounding, astonishing truth is that the presence of flaws doesn't diminish our value, our worth, our beauty. We are still glorious creations. We are glorious creations because of all these things.

So I will talk about disordered eating, and body image, and all that as I continue on this journey through the maze of recovery. Learning what total health is for me. I want to help others on their journey, by talking about mine.

What is the destination? There is no destination. When will you arrive? There is no finish line. How can you succeed? It is not measured in those terms.
How very frustrating.
How very freeing.

-Gwyneth Olwyn, Your Eatopia

Thursday, September 5, 2013

the search for health, part one

This is a bit of a long post, but there are some things I want to get off my chest, things that I need to share with those of you who have read my blog at any time, especially my rantings about vegetarianism, and then my rantings about the paleo diet, and my continual rantings about dietary health.

I fell into the pit of believing that changing my diet would improve my health. I believed that to have a healthy diet meant that I would be healthy. The problem naturally arose then, that the healthy diet needed to be defined. And so I read, and tried being a vegetarian, then a vegan, and became very thin, and lost muscle mass. I threw in that towel when it became difficult for me to pick up my (then) one year old son. Eight to ten months after that I adopted the paleo diet full-force. I followed it off and on for a year and a half, and witnessed as my initial pep and vim morphed into a host of food allergies, things from which I had never before suffered, suddenly stealing my life. My health began declining in a multitude of ways.

I was lucky to have the revelation that all this pursuit of health was in fact destroying my health.

It is not an uncommon story these days. It seems to be everywhere, because everyone wants to be healthy, and there are a thousand gazillion fad diets available that promise to get us there. We are a generation, nay - a nation - obsessed with youth, now to a degree never before seen. Disordered eating, fueled by disordered body image, en masse. And that is in fact what happened to me: a woman I looked up to and admired, who in hindsight I am positive had her own eating disorder/body image issues, made a comment about me needing to lose weight. So what did I do? I endeavored to lose weight. And so it began...

The endeavor to lose weight became an obsession, became a driving force in my life. I cloaked it with the mask of health and wellness, so skillfully even I didn't see it for what it was, for many, many years. I cloaked it like a Klingon Bird of Prey, man! So well done, I didn't realize it was still here living with me, it just changed its habits, changed her makeup and hair so I couldn't recognize her. But beneath that, its still the same illness. Telling me that above all, I need to be thinner. It persuaded me that being thinner also meant healthier. That, my friends, is the greatest lie of all.

This past May I sobbed and snotted into the carpet of our spare bedroom, weeping and wailing because I suddenly understood that I once again had an eating disorder, and I had done this to myself. I saw that I actually new NOTHING about health and wellness. That everything I had read, studied, learned, pursued, was a seductively structured web of lies. I was under the thumb, again, of an eating disorder that wanted nothing less than to take my life, slowly but systematically. I wept because I realized that years ago, long ago, as a teenager and young woman I had health, and didn't realize it. I traded my vibrant, glowing, beautiful gift of health for someone else's distorted body image.

Health is like a very long algebraic equation. It is not the result of a healthy diet, and it definitely doesn't coincide with being thin; TRUE HEALTH is a long equation to which belong many, many factors. I restricted my diet, and ate foods that were in and of themselves beneficial, but did I eat enough overall? Lord no. Not even close. I drank too much coffee, I was under massive amounts of stress, I was in denial about postpartum anxiety and depression, I wasn't sleeping well, had blood in my stools and an ever-growing list of food "sensitivities" - all I thought about was what I could and could not eat. I was not able to properly recover from exercise, as I was pretty much starving myself. I remember walking through the grocery store, longing for the past when I could eat Lucky Charms, or bread, or fruit. It wasn't like your basic craving for chocolate once a month or whatever, I was craving effing FOOD. I mean, I ate food: I ate whole, real, organic good for you foods, but I wasn't eating enough. Bottom line. My body wanted more, and I was telling it to shut up because it doesn't know what its talking about. My brain knows better, body! Hush! Eat this meat and sweet potato, stop talking about pasta, and do what I tell you!

On the outside, I looked fit and trim, enviable to some. Oh yeah, laud my "healthy" physique! You, too, can change your body by starving it! (Rabbit trail: Statistically - that means the gathered evidence of what actually happens in real life - being underweight greatly increases your risk of not only contracting various and sundry illnesses, but greatly increases your risk of dying from them. This is statistically not true of being overweight or obese, by the way. Having some extra padding actually makes it more likely that you will survive any illness. Hm. Why isn't that information a little more widely-spread?)

So, what happened? I started eating the effing FOOD. For one month, I ate whatever I wanted when I wanted it, did no formal exercise, and slept as much as I could being a mom to two littles. Vividly I remember the first meal I sat down to with my husband after my sobbing-snot fest. Homemade cheeseburgers on a freaking ciabatta roll with french fries. And beer, I think. It tasted SO good. Now I look by and think, why in the HELL did I ever think a burger was a burger without a BUN? Bwahahahaha! What will these kids think of next?

In eating whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, there are those that assume that means I will therefore eat nothing but junk food forever. And you want to caution me that I need balance! I need to not throw the baby out with the bath water! There are things you need to understand, however. Firstly, I was at a severe nutrient and calorie deficit. Junk, processed foods are high in calories and supplemented with easily absorbed nutrients. Overall, they are easily digested and absorbed. This makes them actually GOOD for a person in a state such as I was at that time. In a bizarre twist, these junk foods became my health foods; they were instrumental in restoring my health. Sugar and salts helped naturally restore my damaged electrolyte balance and my digestion, giving my cells fuel at their level, allowing them to function and do what they do best. Not exercising and focusing on rest and sleep allowed the increase of readily absorbed nutrients to be used to healing, instead of fuel for my workouts.

But honestly, I don't want to go into the finer details of this whole process - I definitely don't want to start arguing nutrition or defending why the process of healing from a restrictive dietary lifestyle is what it is. I will say this: what I did is a by-the-book recovery process. It isn't something I made up (though if I were to, it makes sense: if you've stopped eating and are starving yourself, start eating again and stop starving). 180 degrees. Go the opposite direction.

My junk food cravings stopped within a week. Since then, I want what I want now and again, and I have it. I do not restrict anything, ever, for any reason. I do not label foods good or bad. There is no glorification, vilification, or guilt. Food is simply food. This is an active pursuit for the rest of my life. Disordered eating is a mental illness, pure and simple. It can be treated, it can go into full remission, but it is something I live with always. Like my height, it is what it is. I can wear heels, but I'm still only as tall as I am.

That it will always be something I live with does not depress or sadden me, it is in fact a huge liberation, because I can easily identify those thoughts, attempting to vilify FOOD, as lies. Lies about eating too much, or too frequently, or infrequently, or at the wrong time (come on, weight lifters, you know it's true...), are all told, as rudely as possible, to shut up and take a hike. Knowing those thoughts are lies, knowing the voice is a false one seeking to eventually take my life, gives me a lot of freedom. Just because its here doesn't mean I am in bondage to it. Big difference!

So, all this to say, no more from this sector will you hear praises and damnations of any food, ANY food, whatsoever, ever. All food is good food. All food is healthy. Not all food is healthy to everyone (Zao's Daddy is a diabetic; I completely understand this concept), but barring being a true Celiac, or being diabetic, or etc etc, for the general populace, this statement stands: Eat the Food!

Monday, July 15, 2013


When we moved to southern Arizona from the Phoenix metropolitan area, leaving the comfort of Trader Joe's, Sprouts, Whole Foods, and Costco (the stores that were the backbone of our food provision) was a concern for Zao's Daddy and me. The town to which we were moving currently offers a WalMart and a Safeway, neither of which are high on the list of markets offering alternative food choices. We envisioned a future of weekend hauls to Tucson to stock up on things like almond milk, olive oil potato chips, and bacon, in bulk.

We did that once, maybe twice, the first month we lived down here. Very quickly, spontaneously, effortlessly, a change came about that was unexpected, and far better than we could've imagined.

We have found local sources for everything except beef, shellfish and fish, and I am working on finding a place to purchase that locally, as well. Our milk, eggs, produce, chicken, and grains such as wheat and oats (can) all come from local farms. Honey and nuts are everywhere, too, when we want them. We are eating the way I've been dreaming of for years. Simply, in season, and locally sourced.

Here are some pictures of our local bounty:

cream pulled off our local (really local, less than half a mile away!) raw, grass-fed milk

cream churned into butter

peaches and tomatoes from Willcox (organic)

tomatoes again, jalepenos, cucumber, green beans, micro basil, also from Willcox and all organic

simple, from scratch Sunday dinner, southern-style: comprised of locally grown beans, green beans, eggs, homemade buttermilk and butter from local raw milk, and sprouted locally grown wheat

I have found a renewed zest and zeal for cooking, the likes of which I haven't had since Zao was a baby, and the early years of my twenties when I was newly submerged into the professional cooking world. Part of it is due to having a very cooking- and cleaning-friendly kitchen in our new house, but there is such joy and delight in working with these fresh beautiful foods. How rewarding it is, preparing these foods in such a way that they fulfill their potential for nutrition and flavor.

Monday, June 17, 2013


I snapped these pics with my camera phone the other day, hence the really poor quality. I couldn't find the better camera in time, and I didn't want to lose the shot while I had it. Zao's sister has become quite the little climber lately! 

helping Mommy pack the entertainment center

yes, these doors are supposed to stay closed...

Thursday, May 16, 2013

I am Not a Good Mom

Today I smashed a plastic water pitcher against the kitchen counter, breaking it into a dozen pieces, yelling "F*ck it all!" at the same time. We were out of drinking water because I hadn't filled the Berkey the night before, or earlier this morning, and Zao was thirsty and asking for a drink.

While yelling and carrying on, throwing my temper tantrum, somewhere in the midst of it I yelled "I am not a good mom!" and it was like the clouds parted to allow the sunshine through.

I am not a good mom. I have a lot of temper tantrums. I don't parent the way I know I should. To clarify: it's not that I think I am a bad mom, but rather I am not the mom I know I am supposed to be, because I have been too busy trying to "be a good mom." I have allowed the desire for the approval of other people, the desire to fit in and be part of a group, to hinder me from listening and heeding my own inner voice. That is what is keeping me from being a good mom. Does this make any sense?

The problem isn't my temper tantrums. I have the temper tantrum because I've failed my own perverse expectations, some of these expectations I adopted from other people, they aren't even things I believe at my core. Failure to meet expectations is also the reason I lose my temper with Zao. The problem is the expectations. It is expected that a three-and-a-half-year-old be potty trained. At the very least, the parent of said child should be "working" towards this "training." If not, whispers and talking behind that parent's back ensue. Jiminy Crickets, the effing gossiping has got to stop. I've heard it, I've read it, I've participated in it, it is a disgusting part of humanity. Is it so f*cking hard for us to let go and allow other people to be human? Is it so f*cking hard for us to NOT try to fix the whole damn world? What if instead we trusted that other people will find their way? Why do we feel like that way has to look like ours? What if they don't agree with "our" peaceful parenting ideals and manipulations efforts? What if they spank? What if they circumcise? What if they eat white bread, food dyes, bacon, or tofu? What if they allow their children to stay up until midnight watching tv shows you would never let your kids watch in a million years? Are they bad parents?

I am not a good mom. I have failed at peaceful parenting, zen parenting, Christian parenting, disciplined parenting, authoritarian parenting - I have failed every single parenting "stigma" in all the books on shelves and pdf files. Even if I have successfully done all those things to the letter, I am not a good mom, because I am not authentically parenting. I am not listening to my child, what my child actually needs from me to learn and grow and function in this world. I am not listening to my own heart and my own wisdom, to do all of that, either.

And what I hear from my children, what I hear from my heart, is to stop the manipulation, even if it is done peacefully. To stop the cycle of fear and anxiety, to stop propitiating the expectations of others so that we can be called "good" and receive approval for our comings and goings. And firstly it stops with myself. I have to be authentically me, and allow others, especially my children, to be authentically themselves. Even if that is ugly, broken, and whispered about when my back is turned. And to stop being disappointed with them when what they are isn't what I imagined, even if it from the safety of social networking.

Zao is still in diapers, and he doesn't speak much. He watches a lot of tv and plays with toy cars all day long. He will not be going to preschool, or kindergarten, and I don't teach him his shapes or colors or numbers here at home because he isn't interested. He plays, and is a child. He loves milk and bread and cookies and carrots and bacon, Disney movies, and playing in the dirt outside.

That's all awesome. Or it's all horrible. Maybe it's both! Or neither: It is who Zao is right now, and how he spends his time. For me to manipulate those things so that he can meet the expectations of other people who don't know or love him is a massive infringement on his personal freedom as a human being.

I am not going to do that to him anymore, and I am going to stop doing it to myself. How I spend my time, what I eat, I am so ever-loving tired of thinking of it all in terms of good or bad, and then subsequently feeling guilt or pride in myself, yet never ever feeling like ME.

I am not a good mom. I am Zao's Mom, I am Zao's Sister's Mom. That is enough.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

making butter, or "things that are easier than I imagine"

One of the benefits, in my opinion, of buying fresh, non-homogenized milk is being able to separate the cream out to make butter. I have always wanted to make my own butter, ever since I was a girl and read about the process in A Little House on the Prairie. Or Big Woods. I forget which book actually chronicled their efforts. Whichever, I am living the dream, folks!

I remember my parents making butter now and again, when I was in high school. They shook the cream by hand in glass jar with a wooden ball inside. My dad still uses, and prefers, this method. I like to use my KitchenAid. It's faster. Which is preferable when you have a crawling, teething baby whining at your feet, and a naked toddler, asking for a drink and standing at the table eating cheddar rice cakes and gluten-free chocolate chip cookies (homemade, for the record...) hollering "MMMMM!!!" as loudly as humanly possible with every bite. Fast is good in this scenario. 

This morning was my second butter-making endeavor, and it turned out A LOT better than the first. ha! Regarding my first butter-making endeavor, let me summarize that it was less than textbook-perfect. ;) Experience really is my favorite and best teacher. Mistakes are not to be feared! Especially in the kitchen.

This is what happened this morning:

after "washing" the butter has come together
fresh, raw unsalted butter 
How cool is that?! As I said, living the dream folks! ;)

If you are interested in some guidelines in making your own butter, I recommend these links:

Keeper of the Home: Cultured Butter

The Healthy Home Economist: How to Make Raw Butter (video)

Don't be afraid to try it! You really can't mess it up. You don't have to use raw cream, either. Heavy cream from the supermarket will do the same thing, only without the same degree of health benefits as raw. But more on that at another time... Suffice to say, butter is easy! And butter makes everything better! ;)

desert views

I have fallen woefully off the wagon of my intent since our move to Southern Arizona. It was my desire to take a photo every day for the next year, to help me stay in the moment and appreciative of the great beauty of my daily life. Though the photos have not been taken religiously, the acknowledgement and appreciation of the beauty has definitely been present! I am happy & blessed to be living where we are, sharing this great expanse of a house with the three people I like best in the world. Joy! Contentment!

I am back in the saddle; look for more frequent, photographic postings!

Here are a few snaps taken the other day that I want to share. 

view from the top (of town) ;) 
backyard views of mesquite 
our backyard
a little bit of wilderness, just outside our door

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Enchanted & Wild, just like my heart said it's gonna be...

This post is about the birth of Ivy Jayne, Zao's Sister. As today is her half-birthday, I thought it would be appropriate to share my memories of her coming into the world. This post does contain photographs of her birth, or what network television would refer to as "partial nudity." Gah! what!? Ye have been warned! ;)
Wednesday October third, a day shy of forty weeks gestation, I awoke around 1 a.m., as was my custom the past few weeks prior, to use the bathroom and eat enough of a snack to lull the raging belly beast so that I could sleep for a few more hours. I remember having a sense, as soon as I woke up that morning, that something was different in my body. After I had eaten and laid back down, instead of returning to sleep, I began to feel very rhythmic aching in my pelvis. Not cramping, and not a tightening of my abdomen, just the beginning of a pattern that would continue throughout the day.

I laid there in the bed, happiness and surprise starting to grow. I'm going to have my baby...sometime soon! I returned to the bathroom two or three times, and these trips caused my feelings to amplify, because loose stools can sometimes signify that birthing isn't terribly far away. I never fell back asleep. Instead I thought of the few things I needed and wanted to do around the house (wash the few dishes in the sink, a load of laundry, etc), and planned a few things to do with Zao, like take him to the park and watch one of his favorite movies with him. Things that would help pass the time and make the day special for both him and me. I decided then that I wasn't going to mention these waves to Zao's Daddy, at least not yet. I didn't want to distract him from the normalcy of his work day, and I definitely didn't need him home at that time.

The guys eventually awoke, and our day started. By 9 o'clock, Zao and I were in the car headed to the water and ice store to have our water jugs filled (we were completely out of water) with plans to head to the park afterwards, since the two destinations were just around the corner from each other.

We arrived at Water & Ice only to find that it didn't open until 9:30, so around the corner we went to play at the park. He ran and zoomed around, with me waddling behind, still feeling the rhythmic waves and starting to feel ever so cranky. I remember having a text conversation with a friend, also, about where to buy fondant and its accoutrement for a birthday cake she was wanting to make. I didn't mention the waves to her, either. ;-) Just another day, right? It was fun, in a way, keeping the best secret ever all to myself.

9:30 came and we headed back to the water store, only to find the doors still locked. We waited and waited and waited for what seemed like forever (a whole fifteen minutes), probably because we were thirsty and at this point without water even in the car. (I want to explain here that we have a running credit/tab at this particular store, and I had no cash in pocket with me to buy water elsewhere, which is why we didn't just stop somewhere else for hydration.)

After deciding to drive back home for quarters to put in the outside dispensor, we returned to the water store to find it finally open, and our bottles were then filled by the proprietor. I had another wave or two while this was happening, and I remember the owner asking me, “So when are you due again?” Pressure building, relax...”Oh, anytime in the next couple of weeks.” bwahahaha!

In hindsight, Zao's Daddy tells me I should have informed the owner that, “well, I'm actually in early labor right now!” just to freak him out a little. ;) but, but...shouldn't you be rushing to the hospital...?! That would've been a fun conversation! haha! 

I decided to take Zao back to the park to play, as I was feeling a little guilty that our earlier trip had been so short, and guilty that I had been so cranky during the whole water escapade. We played at the park for another half hour or so, until I could tell that he was getting tired and hot from the sun. By that time I was more than ready to be home and relaxing myself.

We ate a snack or lunch and soon Zao fell asleep on the couch and I moved him to the bed in his room so that I could sit down and watch a movie and hopefully relax. I checked Facebook and my email, sat down to a movie, but couldn't get into it. I was distracted. I started thinking at this time, but didn't yet act on it, that maybe I should call my midwife and give her a heads-up that I'd been having regular, though non-progressive contractions all day. I thought about it, but just kept on doing odds and ends around the house. And probably checked facebook for the hundredth time! I felt like Ricky Bobby in that I didn't know what to do with my hands, or any part of myself.

When Zao woke up, I put Cars 2 on for him to watch, and got him a drink and snack. The familiar sounds from his movie actually relaxed and centered me more than anything that I had tried up to that point. I felt comfortable and home and safe. Life was continuing normally around me.

When Zao's Daddy came home, sometime around 4pm, I was on the phone with my midwife, finally telling her about these regular but non-progressive waves. My husband's delight was exactly what I needed at that time, and it turned my entire day around – I felt stupid for not telling him from the first. “Really?! We're going to meet our baby!” He was all smiles and happiness, and made me laugh from that point on.

We had been invited to a friend's house for dinner that night, and we debated off and on for awhile about whether to go as planned. As the next few hours passed, we decided it was wisest to stay home. All afternoon I had been stopping whatever I was doing to get through each wave, most of the time dropping to the floor onto my hands and knees, and breathing through them, “oooh, let it happen.” “Let it happen...” was my phrase of choice during labor. It helped me to relax and surrender, to welcome and open.

Around 6pm our midwife's assistant, Rose, who is also a friend and a dear part of our birth team, stopped by our house to drop off her birth pool and its accourtement. She watched me through a contraction, and we both acknowledged that they were growing more intense than they had sounded earlier when we spoke on the phone. As she left for the class she had to teach that evening, she put in her official vote for baby being a girl (we had no idea who's birthday was soon to come, having not done any ultrasounds). Rose departed with a sense of “see you soon.”

Zao's Daddy went and picked up food from our favorite Chinese restaurant, and then began what I think of as the sweetest part of my labor – truly from that point until the time I was holding my baby in my arms was such a sweet and intimate time of my life – I treasure my memories of that evening very dearly.

Sitting around our table, eating, smiling at Zao enjoying his eggroll, I ate, seated on the birth ball, and stopped everything, eyes closed, as a contraction would build, just going inward until it passed and then I could continue the conversation.

We sat in the living room, tossing around the idea of watching a few episodes of Arrested Development, when I just started to weep. The emotional side bubbled up and overflowed; it was sinking in that I was truly and really in labor, and really and truly going to have this baby!

“Is it okay if I just cry?” I asked Zao's Daddy. “And pray?” He naturally said, “of course!” and I did. I wept and prayed; I remember being so thankful that the time was here, and I felt like my whole spirit was vibrating and swelling with the knowledge and the joy that the time had come. I have never felt so consumed with thankfullness. That emotion swept over me stronger than any contraction, and I just surrendered to it as I prayed. Surrendered to the process and the journey. Zao's Daddy prayed, too, and that time was just so beautiful.

We watched a little tv, but I couldn't really focus; I cannot recount to you details of what we watched. I think I mostly walked around the house and laid my torso over the bed, feet still on the floor, during contractions. Around 9pm we decided to stick with Zao's usual nighttime, pre-bed routine, as I was starting to feel anxious that he go to sleep and not have his “normal” terribly disrupted.
watching Arrested Development, and in labor. my beautiful henna-blessing was done the week before by my dear friend Shireen <3

I shut myself in our bedroom to be alone while my husband was putting Zao to bed, and before long Zao was sleeping.

And I labored. I tried listening to the Hypnobabies tracks, but I couldn't get my brain in the game. I didn't feel like I even necessarily needed to be listening to the tracks, rather I was listening out of obligation, from a place of “I should be doing this, this makes everything better.” That is never a good motivation for me, it only serves to make me uptight and anxious. So I gave up and continued to go on doing what I had been doing, as it was working, until it wasn't enough. 

Zao's Daddy suggested setting up and filling the birth pool, reminding me how much I had loved that and how much it helped me relax with Zao's birth. I agreed, and while he was in the bedroom setting all of that up, I ran myself a bath in our tiny apartment-sized tub. Being in the water was bliss. Stress fled and I relaxed and labored. This was another beautiful moment in time for me. So beautiful - the memory always brings tears to my eyes. I remember specifically laying on my side in the tub at one point, and when a contraction came, I began to sing to my baby. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I remembered that "an open mouth and open hands equals open bottom." I opened my hands and got on all fours, and sang a Nickel Creek song “I wish you out of the woods/and into a picture with me...” to my baby. Sweet, blissful, loving moment that I will never forget. That song was often in my head the last few weeks of pregnancy; I would wake up with it running around in my head, and listened to it frequently. It was the baby's song, and it blessed me, too.

I wish you out of the woods
And into a picture with me

I wish you over the moon
Come out of the question and be
If this is gonna run 'round in my head
I might as well be dreaming
Run 'round in my head
I roller coaster for you
Time out of mind must be heavenly
It's all enchanted and wild
Just like my heart said it was gonna be

Soon the birth pool was ready. I got out of the bathroom tub, and Zao's Daddy wrapped me in his big terrycloth robe; we talked about how it seemed like the contractions had slowed down. I decided not to get into the birth pool just yet. I was drowsy from the bath, so I tried laying in the bed, hoping to doze between contractions, and I did for a few of them. But laying down was just not comfortable for me overall, so that was short-lived. I eventually sat on the birth ball, still wearing my husband's robe, and leaning my torso over onto the bed.

Before long, he fell asleep, and I was glad – he had worked all day and I wanted him to get rest while he could, too. It's funny to me that I can't remember exactly what time this was; funny because I can't remember even though I was constantly looking at the clock in our bedroom, and starting to wonder and worry when the baby was going to be born, or at least when I'd be able to tell I “was close.” In my finite mind, it didn't seem that the contractions were doing anything. I hadn't had any bloody show or mucous whatsoever, and my water hadn't broken...my cervix was probably Fort Knox. As far as I could tell, this could go on forever. (These were my thoughts, anyway! My body was doing everything perfectly.)

So my husband slept, and I labored. I kept returning to the toilet, then going back to the birth ball at the bed. Back and forth. At one point there was some bloody show, just a little, which was a great relief to see, and my excitement grew again – my body was working, I was dilating, woohoo! I knew it, I knew it! 

Back and forth again, between toilet and the birth ball, now draped in a bath towel just in case there was more bloody show. In my mind the toilet was more effective because that was where I had seen the bloody show, but in reality it was getting more and more uncomfortable for me to sit there.

I opened my bible to some Psalms in my bible at some point, seeking some comfort, and happened upon Psalm 16:

Keep me safe, O God, for I have come to you for refuge...
Every good thing I have comes from you... 
I will bless the LORD who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. 
I know the LORD is always with me. 
I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. 
No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice! 
My body rests in safety.

Those words seemed especially meaningful to me, and I was very joyful, and resting in the knowledge that I was safe, physically, emotionally.

Soon I reached a point where being alone was no longer peaceful or welcome, but instead became lonely. I woke Zao's Daddy, and told him I needed his company and his help. He was instantly awake and at my side. It was also at this time that I turned the clock in the bedroom around so that I wouldn't be able to track time as it passed. We both estimate that it was somewhere around midnight, though.

He added more hot water to the birth pool, and I climbed in. For the duration of labor until the baby was born, I stayed in basically the same position: on my knees with arms up and leaning forward on the side of the pool. There were a few times I would stretch my legs out behind me during a contraction, being in a kind of plank position, and that for some reason was very comfortable, too.
in the pool, my excellent husband-doula by my side

I wondered aloud if we should call our midwife, but again I was worried about her being here “too soon.” (oh how I laugh about that now!) I decided to try listening to the Hynobabies tracks again. Zao's Daddy turned it on to play out loud in the room; I don't remember which track, and I didn't really care. It seemed to me at the time that I wasn't going into hypnosis (I never used the finger-drop technique as practiced), but I was able to relax much, much deeper with the contractions while the tracks were playing. In hindsight, I think I did enter hypnosis. Here and there I would suddenly become cognizant of what was being said on the track, and boy those words had power to relax me! One track or another was playing for the rest of the labor and birth.

Looking back, I know that contractions were becoming more intense and uncomfortable though they didn't seem so at the time. The truth is, if they weren't increasing in intensity, I wouldn't have needed to increase my comfort-measures to counter them! But in the moment, I was just in the moment. I was so focused on relaxing and releasing during each one that I didn't really recognize that they were changing. And I was so comfortable in between them, so alert and normal, that it did seem that they could go on forever. I laugh now, because I was only a few hours away from holding my baby! I had no idea how close I was to the end, the new beginning. :)

Not knowing “where I was” in labor is what motivated me to have Zao's Daddy call our midwife, Stephanie. Finally, at 1:30 am, I had him make the call, actually I believe he sent her a text! Emotionally I needed her there. I knew that just by listening to me, she would know how far I had progressed and I needed that reassurance. (Side bar: my cervix was never checked, not once during pregnancy or during labor.) 

Stephanie arrived about ten minutes later, and I immediately relaxed in my emotions when she came in the room to say hi. I remember saying to her (it could have been then, or later, I honestly don't recall specificly when), “I'm having my baby!” and she replied, “Yes, soon!”
smiling and chatting with my midwife

She went about setting up her tray and other things like that, and I continued to labor. Our friend Jen arrived a few minutes later. Jen is also a midwife, but was in attendance at my request as a friend, and to take pictures of the birth. Sometime soon after her arrival, Jen noticed that our special "birthday candle" wasn't lit, and she asked if she could go ahead and light it for me. “Yes, but I just don't want it to burn down too much,” I replied, thinking baby's arrival was still a ways off. Jen grinned and told me it wasn't going to burn long. And so the flame was lit, and all the well-wishes and good vibes of my loving, beautiful friends and the births of their babies came into the room for this last leg of my baby's birth.
This candle was passed on to me at my blessingway; it had been present at the birth of so many of my friend's babies! I was so blessed and honored to have it at Ivy's birth. Also you can see the stones surrounding it, written with more wishes for the birth, and my note to myself in the background, which reads: "my job is to simply RELAX and allow my baby's birth to happen."

Rose arrived/returned not long after; she was the lender of the birth pool, Stephanie's student midwife, and is a doula-extraordinaire. (She and Stephanie were both present for Zao's birth as well.) My birth team was in place. I remember laughing to Zao's Daddy, “Ok, now we can have the baby!” It was a joke, but emotionally there was a deeper release for me having them assembled around me. 

There were some sweet, fun moments, where I laughed and talked with the midwives between contractions, like it was just another day in the life, having my baby. I laughed that “I can't believe I'h having my baby, on my due date!” After all my efforts to keep that date secret and remind everyone that it's a "guess date" and "babies come when they are ready," here I was having my baby on my EDD! Ridiculously ironic. 

It wasn't long at all, even to me in the moment, before the contractions really changed. Before, Zao's Daddy had been sitting near me on the edge of our bed, holding my hand until I released his, through every contraction, saying the words I needed to hear, pouring water down my back, being the best birth partner I could've asked for. I couldn't have done it without his support. He was truly amazing, and of course says he didn't do anything!
But then the contractions got more difficult, and I heard my own noises change. I heard it more than felt it. It was this one particular contraction that alerted me (the birth team already knew, I'm sure) that baby was close. The wave hit, and I had to vocalize a lot more than before. (I had groaned through all of them, or moaned, from the beginning, but never yelled or even hollered.) But suddenly, I had to roar. It was a need and there was no stopping it from bubbling out. Zao's Daddy, as he did through all other contractions, tried to remind me to relax, and I put my hand up to shush him. I needed to make these sounds, and just as I had earlier needed his support, suddenly I needed to go inside myself and roar. I think I was starting to push, then, but at the moment I thought it was probably transition, because the contractions kept coming. “Oh why did we decide to have another baby?” I said to Zao's Daddy. He said beautiful, truthful things about wanting another person to love, and that the pain was only for the moment, soon I'd be holding our baby. :) He said the things I needed to hear. He is quite simply the best ever!!

I remember feeling like I couldn't handle them anymore, they were so intense, they were so painful. I felt confused and literally caught in the wave. Stephanie said at one point, “Trust what you are feeling.” It hit me suddenly, “I think I feel pushing...” and she told me to trust it, and go with that feeling. The urge to push wasn't really an urge like it had been with Zao. I had been waiting for that feeling, and it never came. This was unspecific power surging in my body; with Zao, pushing had been a very specific reverse-throwing-up feeling. "Throwing down," as Rose calls it. ;)

So I gripped the side of the pool and pushed with the next contraction. Doing so caused the chaotic feeling to leave, and I became focused once again on working with my body as it performed this miracle.  
What I remember at this point, like everything else, may not be chronologically correct. I pushed with my contractions as they came. Oh, it was hard work! I don't know how long I pushed, time-wise, but it wasn't very long. I did hit the point, as so many birthing mothers do, where I said, "oh I can't do this, I don't want to do this," but enter my beautiful support team, Zao's Daddy and my midwives, telling me that I already was doing it, and that I was so close. So close! Zao's Daddy says that at one point I apologized for being "so loud," but the roaring must have been all in my head and my emotions; he says I never got very loud, certainly didn't yell. I remember looking at Stephanie and Rose and telling them that this part hurt. The rest was not painful. I am pretty sure the baby was crowning or super close to crowning at that point. Stephanie remarked that it looked like baby was being born in the caul (with bag of waters intact)! That both excited and irritated me, because my birth-junkie mind thought how awesome and amazing that would be, but I remembered hating the feeling of pushing with waters intact when birthing Zao. I wished they would break as much as I wished they'd stay intact! 

During the next contraction I felt something move, shift, or break, which was the waters breaking, and I did feel some release and less resistance when pushing. That was gloriously welcome. I did some more pushing with contractions; Stephanie told me to reach down, and I reached down and felt the very topmost crown of baby's head. I felt for the head off and on, quite a bit more than I did during Zao's birth, and I am glad, it is such an amazing, rejuvenating, centering thing to do! Just incredible! 

Pushing this baby out was very different than pushing with Zao; although it hurt as baby was moving down and through, it felt satisfying and productive. I could feel that my pushes were productive, and that made me feel very powerful. At one point I remember hearing Stephanie say something about slowing or easing down, and "Be careful of your bottom." I probably should have, but it felt as though everything was at its apex, emotionally and physically, and I kind of blasted the baby out at that point. Instinctively I shifted from pushing against and leaning on the side of the birth pool to being on my hands and knees, still in the birth pool.

I was on hands and knees when I pushed out the head completely, and the body slithered out, and this beautiful, intoxicating release flooded me as I reached down and pulled my baby up from between my legs, out of the water, and everything was warm and euphoric. It is awesome, in the truest, purest sense of the word, to hold the life that you grew within your body as it comes out of your body! It is nirvana, if anything is. It transcends the physical. A holy, sacred moment where time seems to have stopped.

I immediately looked between my baby's legs, and exclaimed to Zao's Daddy, "It's Ivy! It's a girl!" She cried just once, short, punctuated cries as if to say, "Hey! I'm confused!" yet as soon as she saw my face and heard my voice, she was quiet and so very, very alert.
I smothered her face with kisses. :)
Ivy Jayne was born at 3:11 am on October fourth, not even two hours after the midwives had arrived. :) She is named Ivy for my paternal grandma Iva (which just doesn't work with our last name, unfortunately), and Jayne is the combination of our middle names Jade and Wayne.

And then there was the careful, messy business of me getting out of the pool and into the bed, and birthing the placenta, and having my vagina checked for tears. Ivy never left my arms until long after the cord had stopped pulsing, subsequently been cut, and I had introduced her to the breast. And even then she first went to her daddy. The midwifery mode of care, for both mommy and for baby, is unmatched and excellent. I am passionately in love with it!

No sooner was the placenta being cleaned up and being checked out than into the room walks a freshly woken Zao. He had slept through the entire birth. What to do with him during the birth of the baby had been a big concern for me while I was pregnant; we wanted him to be present, but weren't sure how we would keep him out of the midwife's gear while having a baby... Yet we didn't make any concrete plans for him, because Zao's Daddy and I both felt strongly that we needed to just take it as it came, and go with the flow. Going with the flow was the theme of Ivy's pregnancy, and really her birth, too. We are glad we trusted our instincts! It worked out perfectly.

You can see Zao's happy little smirk. He loves his sister, and has been such a great big brother, from the very beginning!

first time at the breast, the cord is still intact and uncut, though you can see it's almost stopped pulsing completely at this point. Ivy was more interested in gazing at me than nursing, for quite awhile. my sweet girl! she still loves to sit and look at me and chat :)
Eventually she was weighed and measured and checked out by the midwife, and found to be absolutely perfect at six pounds, eleven ounces - almost two pounds smaller than Zao at birth!

Ivy's birth was the most magical and amazing experience of my life thus far. It was a labor exactly as I had hoped for: I had times alone, times alone with my husband, and then the company of caring women I trust implicitly and love dearly. There were times I felt raw and primal, and also times I felt sacred and holy. Birth is the meeting of the sacred and the simple, where the holy and the common collide in one woman's breath and groaning, exultation and release. A soul coming fully earth-side for the first time, as its mother's body performs the absolute miraculous, stretching and spreading for life to come forth out of life. I felt all of that during Ivy's birth: sacred and awesome, masquerading and hidden by the commonality of everyday.

It was enchanted, and it was wild, just as the song said it would be. 
Ivy Jayne