39wks1day

“40 weeks is an average.”

“Baby will come when Baby is ready.”

“No, we’ve tried all the ‘tricks’ to get labor going in the past and nothing worked.”

“Yes, I’ve hit the point where every day feels like a week in length.”

And so much more.

Allllll of these things I have said, many times, and find myself saying them more and more – to myself and others – here recently because, well, because. 39wks1Day. With Baby No.5. Sidenote: I don’t know why that has to be added there, but somehow, along with every other oddity/uniqueism this pregnancy has brought, I’ll tack on SUPER impatient as well (and I doubt I was very patient with the other four, for that matter).

Maybe I’m just ready to be done. And this time we are DONE DONE, so really, this is the end of an era, so let’s just do it, OK?

Or perhaps I’m just done with the guessing games and the wondering each night if I’m going to sleep or going into labor (or neither), only to do the whole routine again the next night.

But probably I’m just ready to meet this Little One. The anticipation on this hoped for/tried for/but not exactly known was something we’d ever go for (prior to two years ago) Baby has been intense the entire pregnancy. And now more than ever, I just want to hold him or her in my arms and be on the other side of this journey.

I mean, I get it. It’s not actually any easier to have Baby on the outside than on the inside (although I will be able to see my toes again as well as the children and furniture which I keep bumping into which will be helpful), but there comes a point where you just feel ready to dive into the next level of chaos because, dang, it’s coming anyway, and the not-knowing when is crazy making.

Now, by no means do I mean to complain about pregnancy. Thankfully my husband and BFFs absorb most of that with stride and understand that when I whine, it’s not from a lack of gratitude, just an extreme amount of hormones and weeks pregnant (one friend recently pardoned me when I confessed to her about being super grouchy with my kids because I’m “45 weeks pregnant” which made me laugh and laugh because, TRUTH).

And as much as I try to be transparent here on the blog, I’ll keep the list of AYFKMs to myself right now because in the last two weeks there have been such odd (not harmful to the babe, mind you) physical symptoms and side effects and just shtuff that has again made me want to be so done with this part of the journey, that if I went into detail, it would be 1) embarrassing and 2) ungrateful sounding.

So here we are….39wks1day, checking in and knowing that Babe might just stay put for many more days yet to come because above all else, this is not my journey alone.

I mean, not even my belly photos are even my own at this point, so there you have it. 😉 IMG_2532

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BDD + Me

This morning I participated on a panel at our church that was all about Embodied Faith, focusing on changes in our bodies and the resulting journey that stemmed from those changes. I realize my updates on the blog have been few and far between in recent months and even more so in terms of body image, which was my contribution to the panel specifically in regards to pregnancy, but with 10 days to go until Baby No.5’s due date, it was a fitting (and, not shockingly, emotional) time for me to share more of my story with all those that were in attendance.WelschFallMini-17

For those that weren’t, there will eventually be a link I can post to the recorded session, so you can also hear the stories of the other four amazing women who shared their experiences, too. For now, though, I’ll share the questions that were asked of us and my responses. I didn’t quite share all of this information and not in this precise order, either, but it’s still a pretty fair glimpse at the journey that I’ve been on for the last four years and why/how I hope to continue the work.

 

What body changes did you experience, and how was that for you?

The body change I experienced came at a six-week post-birth check-up after having my third baby. I was completely thrown by the weight that registered on the scale at that visit and it was actually my irritation and fixation on this number that finally pushed me to seek out professional help for body image issues that had been lurking and bothering me since my freshman year of college. I wanted to change the power these numbers had on me and I knew at that point that I needed someone with training to help me do that.

EXTRA ? – What is body dysmorphia and how has it shaped your journey/experience: Body dysmorphia (BDD) is a mental disorder that is different from the more well-known eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, however it can still have physical impacts on the body. It includes a fixation on physical flaws that may be entirely unnoticeable to others, but that can be anxiety-inducing and behavior-altering for the person who suffers from it; in other words, we tend not to see ourselves in the same way others see us, and we sometimes allow these self-critical thought patterns to control us mentally or manifest in physical mistreatment/changes to the body. My body dysmorphia does not center on one particular body part/flaw so much as my weight and appearance to others in general, so in relationship to pregnancy, I tend to, even with the help of my therapist during these last two, struggle a great deal with the things people say about my size and shape, as people do, especially to pregnant women. While I logically can tell myself that people don’t mean any harm with their words, I can still fall down the rabbit hole of body negativity and flaw fixation pretty easily, as my work with this is still in progress. Considering that I didn’t even know BDD was a “thing” until I was 31 years old, I try to remind myself in those moments of struggle that I am still relatively new at dealing with this disorder and that it is my continued work that really matters, more so than bumps along the way.

How do you talk to God/Spirit about this?

            Music is medicine to me, so I’ll quote a song lyric here from an artist named Nahko, in which he says, “The body talks, but meditation helps.” In recent years, this concept has become my go-to for connecting to Spirit about many things, but especially my body and my body image issues. I believe that mediation is different from prayer in that it opens us up to receive directly from source, from spirit, rather than being the one doing all the “talking” as sometimes happens in prayer. My body (and brain) tend to chatter a lot at me, but when I can sit regularly in my meditation practice (7-11 minutes a day, several days a week), I am automatically creating space in my head (and heart) for healing, positivity, and kindness – all directed at myself which I can then in turn share more easily with others.

Is there a song or scripture or poem that’s been helpful for you? 

India Arie – “I am Light”

I am not the things my family did/I am not the voices in my head
I am not the pieces of the brokenness inside,
I am light

I’m not the mistakes that I have made/Or any of the things that caused me pain
I am not the pieces of the dream I left behind,

I am light

I am not the color of my eyes/I am not the skin on the outside
I am not my age, I am not my race
My soul inside is all light
I am divinity defined/I am the God on the inside
I am a star, a piece of it all
I am light

What have you learned from this journey about God/Spirit?

I have begun to move away from body fixation to understanding that, much like the India Arie song gets at, I am not the me that others see or that I see through this body dysmorphia distorted lens. The real “me” is the spirit, the soul, that is housed by this – as one of my favorite yoga teachers, Kathryn Budig, calls it – meat suit. And I think God would agree, because while I believe in taking care of and honoring all that my body does and is, ultimately it is not my body on which I will be judged, but rather the actions and words that come from the real me and my own spirit.

What have been the gifts of this journey?

            Because of this struggle and eventual outreach for help, I started my committed, regular yoga practice just over four years ago, shortly after I started therapy. Three years ago, I became a certified yoga teacher and now own my own yoga business in which I can help others find and nurture their own mind/body/spirit connections as I continue to do the same for myself. Doing the work of healing body image issues has also made me a better parent, as it is my children who are the real motivation for my own desire to change my story for the sake of not passing on my same issues to them as they grow.

If the class were to offer prayers on your behalf, for what would you request prayers?

            Continued progress on my journey. I don’t ever expect to be perfect, but any progress made benefits not only me, but also my family, friends, students, and so on.

Rest over Nest

For the last week and a half (or more), my nesting has been in full force. I have been tackling long untouched areas of the house, so much so that one morning I stirred up an alarming amount of sneeze-inducing dust for a 9-month-preggers-with-Baby-No5 woman to exposure herself to unprotected. And every night I have been trying to make sure that the house is tidy enough just in case I’m not actually here in the morning because said Baby No5 decided we needed to head to the hospital overnight. 

But today all of that went by the wayside not because of said Baby, but because of said Baby’s big sister. When RL came down with a stomach bug around midnight last night (& let’s face it; I don’t think my twitchy legs/false contracty belly had really slept prior to that), I went from sort of hoping labor was coming to adamantly hoping it was NOT. 

20+ hours later and I am glad to say that that remains the case because, wow, today would not have been a good one for needing to go to the hospital. Poor RL hasn’t kept a thing down all day. And while it is tempting to say I got nothing done today as a result, that’s not true. I got to be next to her as she got sick (again and again) and reassure her that everything was OK, and I also got to forego all naps and run around the house cleaning moments because those first two jobs took all time and attention today.

And in a bizarre way, I am OK with that because my system is shot and the fact that I did not try to overdo it today to make sure the house is in pristine order is good. Even though I could not nap, I could still let my body and the baby chill a bit and clearly that worked because no signs of labor today is exactly what I wanted and I got that, so perhaps we can get some actual sleep tonight and recover a bit before real sleep dep comes with newborn mode (however based on this sentence, I fear my brain has already gone there a bit). 

So fingers crossed that RL is only one to get sick and that she is all better come Morning because as much as I can sing, “rest is best” (thanks, DT) I don’t know if another day of being forced into it over nesting is something I or my kitchen counter can handle right now. 

At-Home Halloween (Awesomeness)

Sunday night Ben looked at the forecast for this week and saw that temps would be hovering around freezing for Halloween and my immediate reaction was, I just can’t. And also, Yuck. Add in the fact that Truman started sporting a runny nose on Sunday and the fact that I am doing everything in my power NOT to get sick right now, I had a moment of momspiration, daring to ask him, “Do you think if we offer to get the kids pizza and let them each pick out a bag of candy to ‘trick-or-treat’ around the house for, they’d let us skip the actual door-to-door stuff?”

You see, we’ve been doing some offers like this lately and they’ve worked, so even though I didn’t think my odds were great, I was still hopeful. Last Friday night, for example, we were at the Y’s Family Halloween event, waiting in a rather long, fairly slow line (for which the kids were being patient rock stars, I might add) and our window of time left before we needed to bail for bedtime was dwindling. Problem was, we’d promised them one more game/activity after said long-line. Or that was the case until I threw out the notion of, “Hey, guys! How about you all get to eat one more piece of candy and then we’ll just go home?!” and they totally went for it and everyone was very, very happy, even though I had no idea how it actually worked.

This was exactly the same case Monday morning when we proposed the whole Family Halloween Party concept (plus going to the store to pick your own bag of candy each!) and they totally went for that, too! #WINNING is about all I can say because it would have taken all of .2 seconds for them to have denied it, too.

But wait. It gets better!

First of all, we already had in the works a “free” Halloween going, as all of the kids picked to either repeat last year’s costume or configure a homemade one out of stuff from the playroom. I’m sorry – does it get any easier than that?!

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Turns out it does, because when B took the crew to the store yesterday after school to get their Top Picks of candy that he and I would then hand out to them tonight around the house, they picked the most comical selection ever:

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That’s right. Two bags of suckers, some candy corn, and the smallest bag of pumpkins you’ve ever seen. LOL! Clearly they have no idea what an opportunity they squandered! And also, because I’m uber pregnant (and not a monster), I totally got myself a big oldimg_8181 mix of chocolate choices this morning when I went to get some decorations for the house, because, hello! It’s not Halloween with Twix, tyvm.

 

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But, yes. Because we got away with the stay-at-home option, I spent a little bit on balloons and streamers and glow sticks so we could do up the house in style and make the after school hours through bedtime super fun for them without freezing anyone in the process. I also looked up a bunch of activities and printables on Pinterest (and totally busted out the laminater this morning) so we could also do some sit down stuff after all the trick-or-treat/Hide-and-Seek + candy and pizza consumption.

And truth be told? It was fantastic.

Of course we missed being with our friends who always do a big group trick-or-treat run together here in town, but I think they all understood where we were coming from and know that we hope very much to be back with them next year (when hopefully parkas aren’t needed for the main event). But for this year, our little Family Night turned out to be just right, and the kids even got to hand out candy to the most trick-or-treaters we’ve ever had, so that was great, too. img_8206

Oh! And a note about costumes…RL totally ditched her Ballerina Butterfly that she’s beenimg_8201 planning on for weeks (and wore to the Y) and went with a mermaid dress up outfit instead (and eye shadow which thrilled her to no end because of how “creepy” it made her look – lol), and Truman literally wore one Wild Kratz glove, but whatevs. He was very TWO today, so I’m counting the fact that he did anything a win. Ben’s after school clothes turned him into a yoga teacher (*snort*) img_8196and I went from telling the kids I would wear my “fake hair” (i.e. my blond wig for my Xtina/Voice costume) to last minute ripping up a sheet to wrap about my torso and spreading purple eye shadow all over my face to become a MUMmy, which the kids freaking loved.

So somehow we won the dang lottery this year with Halloween and now I get to celebrate with just a few more Twix, because, I mean, really, while this was definitely the warmer option, it was still not without some effort, meaning this MUMmy earned that extra chocolate, for sure!

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Mostly Cloudy with a Chance of Breakdowns

In the last eight sleeps, only two have not involved being up for hours in the middle of the wee early night/morning. Each one of these disjointed sleeps eventually included a short “nap” before the rest of the house woke for the day, but I am here today to admit how much I am struggling as a result of all this and just how relative that lurking darkness in the seemingly fine, bright clouds in the sky feels to me. img_7753

Zombie jokes don’t even begin to describe the dark and ragey place my overtired but brain now seems to live. And while this is not new territory for me, especially this late in pregnancy, it is certainly unwelcome as it is making normal existence as a functional human being difficult, much less the challenge it is adding to parenting. Anything and everything my crew decides to throw at me right now feels huge and heavy and fit-inducing, for both them and me.

Like 7:50a.m.-we-need-to-be-out-the-door-just-tie-your-shoes meltdowns.

Like someone who learned (where? how? WHY?) the phrase, “Bye, Stupid!”

Like another someone who insists on sitting on my head as I try to take a PBS nap on the family room couch.

Like all the sass and attitude that I might normally be able to deflect or redirect, but that suddenly feels personal and like the epitome of reflection of how much I am sucking right now.

It’s all of these things and a dozen other little bumps in any given day that I’m not handling well. At all. I’m mad. I’m sad. I’m yelling. I’m crying. I’m the stereotypical wrung out mom (to-be) and the crap part is, I have absolutely no idea what I can do to turn it around, because try as I may have in the last 8+ years of baby growing, I still haven’t found the magic cure for taming the hormones that will 1) bring rest in order to 2) bring peace.

Now, I know that part of today’s particular struggles (that list from above? Yeah, that could be any given day in the last week-ish, but it was all this morning before noon) have been compounded not only by the lack of sleep but the excess of activity. I had a HUGE weekend with two major work events and a book club and normal church activities Sunday morning, and while that’s all good stuff, it meant I was moving from one to the next to the next to the next, fueled on adrenaline, coffee, and a Sunday afternoon power nap that I’m sure I should have been doing something productive around the house during, but AYFKM? My body and brain are SO. BEHIND.

Also not so helpful? Ben has conferences tonight, so after a not-great morning, I’m in charge of nighttime stuff that is normally not “mine” and I’m basically using this screen-time post-writing opportunity to officially offer a wild-flung hope and prayer that we all make it through without more yelling or more tears, from any of the parties involved. That actually sounds like I am asking for a miracle, but I guess a mama can dream, even if she can’t sleep.

And the moral of this post? Yep, there’s not one. Other than to say, for honesty’s sake, that Baby No.5 has landed me in the not-sleeping place far, FAR sooner than I would have liked and that, too, is worth documenting, in all of it’s weepy, very un-shiny glory because I know no mama alone, but the other worn-the-eff-out mamas need to know it, too: I see your dark circles, friend, and I know just how uneasily they are earned.

 

On Definitions, Labels, and Learning.

During a lecture in grad school, one of my professors called me out by name during his class for being a (quiet) contrarian. It happened so long ago that I can’t recall his exact language, but it was something along the lines of,  “And then you’ll be saying something and can look at Jenni and know she is contradicting all of it.” And even though I don’t know if that’s precisely how he said it, I do know the first thought that went through my head was, “Me?! No, I’m not!” which pretty much proved his point right then and there.

The funny thing was, until that experience, in my 22+ years I naively assumed that I thought and believed pretty much like anyone else around me. It never occurred to me that someone might take me (well, actually my writing, as I’ve never been very outspoken in classes) as a force of contradiction. In the years since, however, this claim has stayed in the back of my brain, and it’s actually helped me in many ways.

For one, it’s good to know that I have my own voice and that it is worth sharing because yes, it might in fact differ from that of another person. Not that I have to strike out to change their thinking, but that giving my unique perspective is of value because it does indeed add to the conversation. For another, it has helped me – sort of – as a parent because now that I am raising at least one little contrarian of my own, I can find solace in knowing from where it comes, even if that doesn’t do much to help me actually deal with it in real life.

All of this is a very long-worded intro into the fact that as Ben and I are now completing the New Member classes at our new church, First Presbyterian (you guys, I still can’t spell that right on the first try) Church in Hastings, I’ve had some of these contrary student moments that have given me pause and caused me to reflect a bit.

At our first session last week, we were asked as part of our introduction to share what it means to us to be a Presbyterian, and y’all, I blanked. So much blanked that I said, “I don’t know” as that part of my introduction because beyond still not spelling it correctly, I couldn’t tell you what the word itself meant or where it came from, so how else could this contrarian answer but with a non-answer?

Fortunately, we did go over some church history and even the definition of the word “Presbyterian” (ha! no red squiggles!) which has to do with church governance and committees and such , and I walked away from the evening certainly knowing more, but also realizing that I knew more than I gave myself credit for when I first answered.

Another benefit of being contradictory in nature? You learn that you can contradict yourself even, and sometimes fairly soon after a statement’s been made.

You see, as I listened to the others in our group do their own introductions, I realized they were all touching on the very messages/themes that I’ve written about before when I’ve blogged about church, namely being the concepts of love and service. Love and service. It may have been the invitation of friends and the desire to have a church home for our family that initially brought us in the doors, but it is this particular church’s driving forces of love and service that kept us coming back and ultimately led us to become official members this summer. And not just lip-service, either, but actions and actual in-the-world service, which is where my heart lies, introverted and contradictory as it may also sometimes be. [Parenting side note: this too has come up more and more when I address my children because as much as their mama loves words, they have to know that actions matter, too, and often times, even more so than their words.]

In my defense, I was the very first person to share, after our pastor that is, and tired/pregnant mama brain + first-out-the-gate nerves perhaps got the best of me. I should also mention that one of the other questions we had to answer was about which Bible character we related to with a list of examples/qualities to help us, but I still totally pulled a “there aren’t enough women on this list and I’m not connecting with any of the men on here, either” for that one, so yeah….Sorry, Pastor G – there’s that whole contrarian thing again!

But after chewing on these questions for the last few days, and learning more and more about the larger church itself and the actual congregation here that we are now officially part of, I once again land at the conclusion that we are fortunate to be where we are in this community that lives not only by faith but also by love and service. This is the message, the work, and the spirit we want to surround our children with as they grow, and it is how we want to be in the world, too.

And, as I explained in an email to our pastor that he’s most likely not seen yet, but touches on many of these same points, this particular explanation would have been far too long to share with the New Members group (and thanks to my prenatal weepies, I doubt I would have gotten through it one piece anyway), but it is worth sharing here because where we go from here….how we love and serve as a family….well, that’s what it is all about and this is where I share those stories.

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Taken the Sunday in June when we joined the church! 

 

Soon? Wellllllll…..

Hey, there, friends! Greetings from the 3rd trimester and September! We’ve had an interesting start to the school year with a sick Harrison (for over a week and a half!) and other various oddities, but we’re now a week in which puts us past Truman’s 2nd birthday (Happy 2, Little Man!) and the 29 Week mark for me and Baby No.5. This 3rd trimester has decided to show up with some oddities of its own, which I’ll touch on here, but really this is a friendly little reminder that some words, when applied to pregnancy, are very, very relative.

First, the update: Holy Heartburn! Over the last weekend, my esophagus decided to burst into flames and for the life of me, I don’t know what’s going on. Diet? Trimester? Stress? All of the above?! Who knows. But for the first time, I am taking an OTC medicine for it because WOW. And OUCH.

Also OUCH? Well, I won’t go into specific details because it’s too much TMI for today, even for me, so instead I’ll just leave it at this: there is no way my body needs to be preparing to actually give birth 11 weeks out, so let’s just hope the system chills out a bit, shall we?

And about that 11 weeks….

Y’all, I still have 11 WEEKS to go. And much as I can’t control what comes out of the mouths of others, you can sure bet I am going to try to gently remind folks that while that might seem like soon to you (or them) it is NOT to me. I may not be counting the days yet, but 11 WEEKS currently feels like an incredibly long time to me, so as fast as I know it actually will go, I (and probably most pregnant women) would prefer not to hear it called “SOON.”

For me, that word is double-edged. While I’ve had moments of doing much better this go-round with body image, I’ve also had complete face palms and freak outs, so to suddenly have people using the S-word around me all the time makes me think they must think I look ready to pop. And you know what? Maybe I do. I honestly have no idea, other than my weight and baby’s growth are both normal and on track with all of my other pregnancies and within healthy limits, but there I go getting super defensive, so let me bring it back in a little bit….

The point is, even if someone thinks I look like I’m ready to have Baby tomorrow (despite weird pains in my body, trust me: I am definitely not ready for that), I don’t need to hear it. If someone feels the absolute need to comment on my body or my belly or my shape, the only thing they should be saying is that I am a) glowing (I still don’t know what this one means, but I’ll take it over an insinuation of ready-to-burst anytime) or b) look fantastic.

And really, there is no need to comment on my body at all (but I won’t lie; a compliment isn’t going to hurt a preggers, ever). Instead, ask me how I’m feeling or how I’m sleeping or how the kids are doing or what we had for dinner last night or basically anything other than drawing attention to the fact that yes, my belly is large (because it should be) and yes, a baby is going to come out of it (but that my definition of “soon” is probably highly different than most of society’s right now). And if you’re just curious/can’t remember when I am due, ask that. I’d much rather tell you (November) than assume that by your use of “soon” you mean a couple weeks from now. 😉

So that’s it. I’ve said all of this before, I’m sure, but since folks continue to use very, um, interesting words to comment on my physical appearance these days, I too am taking the blunt approach of saying: Love it or let it go. And, please!, don’t assume the word SOON is part of my current vocabulary.IMG_2500