Saturday, July 24, 2010

Productive day!

For a day that didn't really start until 11am, today was extremely productive! First I had a cast meeting for Birth, a play by Karen Brody. Yes, I got a part, and I am so excited about it! I am the ensemble (along with just one other person), which means I get to be a ton of different roles throughout the play, rather than one main character. I will be a doula, a midwife, an OBGYN, and who knows what else. The play is on September 25th at 2pm and 7pm, for more info go to

After the cast meeting, I came home and put a very hungry/sleepy Hunter down for a nap. Daddy tried his best, but no amount of applesauce or oatmeal fills the tummy like Mommy Milk <3  So thankful that the nap strike seems to be over, he's down to one nap a day, but I can handle that. No naps a day, not so much. It was a rough week last week, between the no naps and the restless sleeping, I though I was going to go crazy!

While he was napping, I sewed a diaper cover, and promptly realized my printer had printed my pattern at 75%, so the size Large diaper was actually a little smaller than the Mediums Hunter is rapidly outgrowing. Oopsie. Oh well, I can sell it as a second quality item or something when I start my business. Oh, did I not mention I'm starting a business? Well I am, as of yesterday I officially have a retailer interested in buying my fleece training pants/diaper covers to sell in her shop! Since she's willing to place an advance order, I will be able to buy the machine I need to finish the diapers and make them prettier (a serger), and hopefully get this show on the road!

Then I wrote out a flyer for the other business I'm starting. Oh, did I forget to mention that I'm starting TWO businesses? Right, should probably fill everyone in on this one too. Starting (hopefully) this Fall, I will be teaching General Music Classes for homeschooled students in the Arlington/Mansfield area. Hopefully someone will be able to help me out with finding a location soon, that's really the only thing that still remains to be figured out. Everything else is stuff I have done before, and it's just a matter of putting together lesson plans and getting everything I need (like instruments). I'm going to start putting out flyers now (if anyone has an "in" with one of the homeschool groups in the area, please let me know!), and hopefully will be able to put together several classes by the time school starts!

Whew, busy day. Time to finish off my productive day by reading my script, it is so much more fun to read about birth than to actually live it :)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

So much to say, so little time. Music, life, acting, oh my!

Here I thought getting that last post off my chest would make me stop neglecting this blog. Apparently that is not the case, despite an astounding number of visitors to my blog, I have not written since the touchy circumcision post.

Well, I am once again breaking the silence, because there is so much going on in my head that I just need to let it out. The first thing I need to say: I really miss music. Not just listening to music and singing along, I mean really being actively involved in the world of music and performing. Teaching helps with that a little, but it's just not the same.

I started pondering how I could start doing what I love again, and a solution came to me when a friend mentioned something about wanting her kids to be involved in music from a young age, but not having access to classes nearby (thanks for the light bulb moment, Sharon!). I realized that not only do I have the background and certifications to do this, it's something that sounds genuinely fun and exciting to me! So, as of today, as of right now, I am in the process of figuring out what I need to do to get this ball rolling. Tonight, another friend mentioned that the homeschool community in my area is also severely lacking in the music department, classes are either too expensive or too hard to get into or too specialized. My mind immediately started pondering this...Elementary level general music classes for homeschool students? Yes, I can definitely do that! Again, this sounds like a blast and I would love to do this.

If I could get these classes started up, I could afford to take voice lessons again! If I can take voice lessons again, maybe I could start auditioning again some, and start doing what I genuinely love to do! As far as auditioning, I am actually taking the leap and auditioning for a play this weekend. The play will be wonderful and interesting, it is called BOLD (Birth On Labor Day), and is a lot like the vagina monologues, but focusing instead on women's birth experiences. The parts of the script I have read are fantastic and sound like a lot of fun, I really hope the audition goes well.

As far as Hunter goes, he is the most amazing little person I have ever met. He constantly astounds me with the things he understands, and since he started crawling a month ago he has become so FAST it's ridiculous. This child has some mad ninja skills, I set him down in the living room, and in seconds he is halfway across the kitchen getting into cabinets. Time to invest in some of those cabinet lock things. His signing vocabulary is growing every day, he inconsistently signs for milk and potty, and started signing "more" today when I had avocado as an incentive. His favorite person in the world right now is his Daddy, he absolutely adores him and would be content to play for hours as long as Daddy was there. Oh, and he now has 2.5 teeth, his top left tooth decided to finally make an appearance today!

Phew, I finally feel a little more caught up. Hopefully this post can be the start of me actually being productive this week, my house could use a little TLC (aka serious deep cleaning).

Monday, May 24, 2010

A hard post on a touchy subject

I keep putting off writing this blog post. I have put it off for months, but I just need to get it over with. It is just too hard to think about, let alone write about, and I know in a few moments I will be overcome by tears.

The date was November 2nd, 2009. That was the day circumcision very nearly cost my son his life. If we had waited a few more hours, I truly don't know if he would have made it.

My husband and I had come to the decision that we would circumcise Hunter, after many discussions and countless tears on my part. I had a very restless spirit about the whole situation, but knew that this was not my hill to die on and it was not worth my marriage to argue my point. I will readily admit that it took a LONG time to get over my anger at both God and my husband for what happened next. Part of my comfort is in knowing that part of God's plan was for this to happen to us, and I am doing my best to speak out and use this experience for good instead of focusing on the negatives.

We had finally agreed that even though we would circumcise him, it would not be immediately, we would establish our relationship with Hunter first, allow him to build up his own natural store of Vitamin K (along with the shot they give), and let him grow a little. He was 6 weeks old when the surgery date came along. I will state that, for the record, an intact penis is extremely easy to care for and keep clean.

I barely slept the night before, I could not bear the thought of what was about to happen to my precious baby boy. I fed him for the last time I was allowed to before it happened, and we headed to the hospital early. The urologist checked everything out, weighed him, and got him ready. I think the procedure itself started at 11 am. I walked him back to the room, saw the contraption they use to tie him down, and kept reminding myself to breathe. Amazing how difficult that was considering the circumstances. I wasn't allowed to stay during the procedure, after it was done Hunter was hungry and a little grouchy, but seemed otherwise ok. The doctor who did the procedure is a highly recommended pediatric urologist, and said everything had gone well, no complications.

This is where things started to get bad. I need to stop and compose myself for a moment before I continue.

I took him home and changed his diaper, taking off the disposable they had him in and replacing it with one of my cloth diapers. I cried a little looking at how swollen it was, with the little plastic ring around it. It looked like it hurt. There was a little blood in his diaper, so I looked at the sheet they had given me on after care. It said that was normal, and should stop soon. Ok, they know what they're talking about, he'll be fine.

A couple hours go by, during which my Mother in Law dropped by (and if I remember correctly she fed us lunch :) ). Another diaper change, this one is worse, looks a little scary. The diaper has blood, but there does not appear to be anything wrong. Mother in Law asks if this is still normal, I say yes but I'm starting to wonder myself. By this time I am exhausted, so Hunter and I take a nap, he sleeps a little longer than normal if I remember correctly.

This is the part where it gets really bad. If you can't handle stories with blood, you may want to skip the next couple paragraphs.

I changed another diaper, it was around 7pm. I will never forget the feeling of my heart skipping a full beat, and my stomach falling to my knees, as I entered a state of complete and utter panic. The diaper was literally saturated with blood. There was not a spot anywhere that wasn't soaked. I nearly passed out, saw spots in front of my eyes and had to put my head between my knees. I quickly grabbed the care sheet, and started to apply pressure to attempt to stop the bleeding, all while willing myself to not pass out or vomit.

Taking another pause to compose myself. The tears that did not happen in the moment are flowing quite freely now.

I waited the full 10 minutes the care sheet recommended while applying heavy pressure to my precious baby's bleeding wound. It continued to ooze, so I put on another cloth diaper, this time one that I was not worried about getting stained, called the doctor, and headed back to the hospital. This entire time I was repeating a silent prayer, please God let my baby be ok.

I honestly don't know how I kept it together to drive, but I did, I was at home alone while my husband was working. I called several people on the way, trying to keep myself calm and not break down. My husband first, he thought I might be overreacting but said he would be there as soon as he was off work. Then my Mom, and my Mother in Law, then my best friend Whitney. She told me later that she could hear the fear in my voice, and when she told her husband his first thought was "Jessica is not one of those people who freaks out, if she is freaking out we need to go up there because this is really bad". It meant so much to me that she met me at the hospital, I was in bad shape by then emotionally.

They admitted me to the back almost immediately, and when the triage nurse saw that Hunter had bled all the way through the prefold diaper, she got things moving quickly and got us back to a room. Whitney arrived shortly after we went back. We saw a few doctors and nurses, this part is a bit blurry to me but Whitney may be able to fill in some details. I think I was probably in shock, I don't know how else I could have made it through this. They started applying pressure as well, and looking for some sort of gel foam that stops bleeding temporarily, then they took some blood.

This is when I knew things were really bad. Hunter was looking a little pale, and he didn't even make a peep as they stuck him with the needle. I started to be truly afraid that I was going to lose him at this point. Someone came in with his blood results and said he needed a transfusion and surgery to stop the bleeding as soon as possible, they had the on call urologist on his way. I was absolutely numb, I don't think I could comprehend what was going on. I offered to donate my own blood, but they have policies against that. Something about the blood of a stranger being pumped into my brand new little person just seemed so wrong to me, but I knew it was completely necessary at this point.

Around this time my husband arrived, I was so thankful to see him. I think it was around 10:30 pm when Hunter finally went back for his second circumcision surgery, this time under the full general anesthesia and in a very different set of circumstances. They removed the plastibell and completed the surgery with stitches. In the waiting room during the surgery, surrounded by my husband, his parents, and my parents, I finally broke down and cried. I just kept praying that my sweet baby boy, who was healthy and perfect 12 hours earlier, would be ok and survive this ordeal.

They brought him back after about 45 minutes, and set us up in a room for the night. They showed us that the bleeding had stopped, and I exclaimed that everything looked much better than it had earlier. My husband made a comment moments later about how it didn't look good at all, if he had seen it a few hours before he would've known what I meant.

Another sleepless night. He was hungry once he woke up and stopped being groggy, so I nursed him to sleep in the rocking chair in his room. He had to be on the monitors for a little while, but once he was off them I did not put him down.

I couldn't put him down. It hurt my heart too much to try.

So I didn't sleep, I sat in the rocking chair and held my poor injured baby the entire night. I think at some point I put on the wrap so I could keep him close to me and rest my arms. He had been through so much, he needed the comfort of knowing his Mommy wasn't going to let him go. I needed the comfort of knowing he was ok.

The days following were a struggle, both emotionally and physically as I made sure the healing process went smoothly and tried to catch up on sleep.

I am thankful for a few things: First, a God who holds us in His hands and sees us through even the darkest of circumstances. Second, friends and family who come together during hard times. Third, cloth diapers. Yes, that one may sound weird, but I read a story that was eerily similar to Hunter's, with the exception of the diapers. The baby in that story died because the parents could not accurately tell how much blood their baby had lost in the disposable diaper.

Even now, months later, the healing process is not complete. He has checked out as completely healthy, no one can tell me the reason this happened. No underlying bleeding disorders, no physical abnormalities. I am able to talk about it now without feeling quite as much guilt or fear, but they are not totally gone. Hunter's physical healing did not go completely as hoped either, he developed a couple complications (adhesions and a buried penis) that are fairly common after circumcision but could require surgery later if they cannot be corrected by gentle methods.

This is why I post circumcision education literature on my facebook and twitter accounts. I can not and do not judge anyone for deciding to circumcise their sons, that would make me a hypocrite and I know everyone makes the decision they think is best. What I can do is share the information I wish I'd had before the operation: it is SURGERY, and as such can cause major, even deadly, complications. If it were necessary for a child's health or well being to be without a foreskin, God would not have created them with one. It is not cleaner or easier to be circumcised, for Hunter it may be something he has to deal with for the rest of his life or at least for the next few years. As for the circumcision as HIV/AIDS prevention argument, as someone raising my son in a Christian home that is something I hope he will avoid by simply having good values and morals, not to mention common sense.

Please research your options if you are preparing for the birth of a son. If you are undecided, there is an easy out: let the one who will be living with the foreskin for the rest of his life make the decision. Yes, that will mean that if he decides he wants to be circumcised, it will be when he is old enough to remember, but it also dramatically cuts down the risk of bleeding.

I hope now that I have this off my chest I will blog a lot more often, emotional baggage was giving me a severe case of writer's block.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A week of up, down, and sideways...

I think when people talk about a week being a roller coaster, they always remember the ups and the downs, but that is never all there is. There are things that happen that knock you sideways and make you remember who is in control of the universe, and NEWS FLASH, it's not you!

This week started out with downward motion. I got a call from a nanny agency that I had applied to work for, and was really optimistic about, and they told me that one of my references rated me as below average on some things, so they could not hire me. This was a double blow; in addition to not getting the job, my professional work ethic had been insulted. I have always taken pride in my work, been punctual, and got the job done, no matter how difficult the circumstances were. It was a knife to the gut to hear that someone was unhappy with the job I had done, despite the fact that I was very unhappy with a previous job I had (and I am fairly certain this same job is the one that gave me the negative feedback).

This week also started out with Hunter being abnormally fussy because I ate something that upset his tummy (after it had upset mine too). Along with being abnormally fussy, he was refusing the potty, and I was changing 4-5 dirty diapers a day, way more than normal. Having a sick baby is truly a daily walk in humility. 

I struggled so much with control this week. Wanting to control the situations in my life. Lacking self control in some areas. Not keeping my emotions in check the way I should.

Then God decided to show me just how much I am not in control, and that He has a plan that is much bigger than I understand.

Two days after I get the call about not getting that job, a friend posts on facebook that she needs a nanny for her 12 month old twins, as she is not happy about the daycare they are in. I post a reply, and within a few hours I have a job! Not only is this job closer to my home, it is with kids I already know, and the hours work perfectly with my other one day a week job.

Then, to top off the good things in the week, Hunter learned 2 different ASL signs! The first was one I had taught him, "milk", which apparently not only means milk, but also naptime. The second he made up/figured out on his own, but it is actually the ASL sign for "diaper". For him, it meant "I need to poop" and "I want to play with your cell phone" at different times. It was very exciting to see him starting to communicate in more obvious ways!

At the end of the week, I am so thankful that God gave me the opportunity to grow through all of these situations, and I understand that the whole week was a test in how much I am willing to trust fully in Him. A test I failed miserably, by the way. I did not want to trust that things would work out in His timing and His perfect way, I wanted it all done on my terms. Thankfully, that did not happen, as God's way was, and always will be, far better than anything I could have come up with.

This week, I will go back to being just a created being trying to live my life for His glory instead of my own, instead of trying to put myself in control.

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts."Isa 55:8-9

Sunday, February 7, 2010


The last few weeks have really had me pondering the concept of patience. I once thought myself to be a fairly patient individual, but I am realizing quickly that parenthood changes the entire meaning of that word. For example, my normally sweet tempered, smiley, happy-go-lucky baby has been teething, and with that comes a lot of grief and weird schedules. He has had days that just make me want to hand him off to someone else and forget about it for a day.

Then I remember God.

He is not just patient with us when it is easy. I know that I personally have had some days that He was righteously angry with me for my behavior, but through it all there was absolutely no chance that He would give up on me. His love could never be conditional, I have been saved by His grace, through faith, not of myself, it is a gift from God. Even in my darkest days (and He knows there have been some VERY dark days), He never stopped being patient while slowly bringing me back to Himself.

Today has been a hard day, between the massive cleanup this morning after a post-bath pre-diaper disaster in the bouncer, the fussiness while getting ready for church, and not having any clean clothes because I didn't get around to laundry recently (nor did I have any clothes that fit properly for that matter). But no matter how much I want everything to go perfectly, I know that it won't, I can't expect it to, and God wants me to be patient no matter what struggles I face.

So Lord, thank you for giving me the opportunity to learn to be patient, even if it means testing it many, many times along the way!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Being an attached parent

I think part of the reason I am such a fan of attachment parenting is because it gives me an excuse to hold my baby constantly.

As I am sitting here typing, my beautiful son is napping in a Mei Tai carrier on my chest, listening to my heartbeat, attached to me in the most literal sense. Keeping him close to me is the most natural part of motherhood, and in my opinion has had a major impact on his personality. Even now, when he is sick with bronchialitis and an ear infection, he is a calm, happy little guy, and I am happy to hold him any time he wants me. Shopping is so easy when your baby is strapped on, no worries about the car seat taking up half the cart, or trying to hold the baby in your arms while pushing a cart. Social events and church are a breeze, I can strap him on and easily navigate crowds without worrying about dropping him or having enough room to get through with the car seat. And of course, there is the added benefit of making it much more difficult for anyone to take him from you to give you a "break" from holding your baby. I really don't mind other people holding my son, I just want to be in control of who holds him and when, and babywearing makes that possible.

Another tenet of attachment parenting that makes my life easier and keeps Hunter happy is co-sleeping. I'm sure we've all heard the "dangers" of having your baby in your bed, but the thing that most of those studies leave out is the ways to co-sleep safely. If you do not smoke, are not obese, and are not on drugs or drunk when you go to sleep, your chances of not waking up when your baby needs you are almost non-existent. I have also noticed that when a baby dies of SIDS while co-sleeping, there is almost always blame placed on the fact that the baby was in the parent's bed, but when a baby dies alone in a crib, there is no blame placed on anyone. I would love to see a study comparing those who co-sleep following the safety rules, and those whose babies are alone in their cribs, to see whether there is any difference at all. For now, I will just enjoy being able to feed my son without getting up or even being fully awake, being able to check his breathing any time I happen to wake up, and being right there to give immediate attention if he starts to wiggle, choke, cough, or fuss. 

My newest form of attachment to Hunter is one that has been "normal" all over the world since the beginning of time, and goes by many names, including Elimination Communication, Infant Potty Training, and Diaper Free Baby. Most other countries can not afford to use disposable diapers, and cloth needs a lot of washing, so your other option? Taking the baby to the potty when he has to go! It is not nearly as difficult as it seems, and contrary to popular belief does NOT require your baby to be naked all day. I use cloth diapers as my backup, and any time Hunter starts grunting, fussing, etc., with no obvious reason, I take him to the potty and turn on the water (or make a psss sound), and most of the time he goes! No washing the diaper, it just goes right back on. It fascinates me how much this one thing has taught me about my son; he refuses to go to sleep until he has emptied his bladder, and generally goes a few times in a row about 20 minutes after he wakes up or after he eats. As little as he cried/fussed before, it is even less now, because I know that most of his fussing has a reason behind it, and once the need is met, he stops crying. I have known people whose children were fully trained by 7 months with this method, and 99% are out of diapers before age 2, with few or no potty training fights or tears. To me, that is completely worth taking a few minutes out of my day to take Hunter to the potty.

There are so many options out there for parenting, but I can't imagine changing any of the things I do when I see benefits from them every single day!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Born a sinner

When I look down at my beautiful 3 1/2 month old son, I want to think that he is perfect. I want to think that he will grow up to be a wonderful Godly man, find a good Christian wife, and never make any mistakes or fall into the trap of sin, and will always do exactly what he should in the eyes of God. Such a sweet tempered, mild mannered, smiling child who only cries for a minute or two a day, if that, can't possible be a sinner.

But he is.

Just like everyone else on the planet, my beautiful baby boy was born with the sin of Adam upon his head, and as his mother, I (along with my husband) have been given the responsibility to give him the tools he will need later in life to fight the lifelong battle that is sin.

Now, you may think that I have plenty of time to worry about how we as a family will deal with discipline, but children grow up so fast, I want to be ready when that first defiant scream escapes his lips.

I firmly believe in spanking as a tool for teaching self-discipline. Before you close this blog and call me crazy, let me define spanking for you, starting with the negative: Spanking is NOT an angry slap across the face or any other part of a child's body. It is NOT a spur-of-the-moment reaction to a child's sinful behavior that involves hitting or beating with an object. That is called child abuse, and has nothing in common with true biblical child rearing.

I grew up with two wonderful parents who understood what spanking should really be, so I will outline what happened in my house. The offending child would be taken to my parent's bedroom, where the parent (usually my Dad) sat and asked us what we did, why we did it, and what God said about that. If we didn't know, they looked it up. It was almost always Exodus 20:12, "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you." At this point, they reminded us that they love us, and since they love us, they have to do what God commanded them to do, and correct our sinful behavior. The spanking is then administered, a prayer is said asking God's forgiveness for the sin committed against him, then the child is taken to the one he offended (Mom, Dad, sibling) to ask their forgiveness as well.

That, in my opinion, is Biblical spanking. No abuse, no anger, just correction and forgiveness. It is a beautiful thing, and it upsets me to read well-meaning gentle parenting advocates claiming that it is a horrible, barbaric practice, when in reality they are condemning the entire idea based on those who practice spanking incorrectly.

I still have some time before my son needs correction, but once he does, I hope to be the most loving, Godly disciplinarian and mother that I can be.

For a more in-depth article on Biblical spanking, with scripture quoted, I really enjoyed reading "eight misconceptions about spanking" by David Reagan. I do think the section about manipulative crying applies only to older children; young infants, for the most part, cry when their needs are not met, so for now I treat all of Hunter's cries as need-based. The author mentions later in the article that spanking an infant is wrong and cruel, and I agree completely.