Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Deciding to Be a Homemaker

Cooking and cleaning full time seems like an awful way to spend my day. I mean, seriously. Boring. And not just boring, but I can do so much more with my time if I don't have to cook and clean. I could save the world if I didn't have to cook or clean. I never understood people who hired others to clean their house for them, but I understand now. And they are brilliant thinkers.

There are other reasons why I have not wanted to full-time keep house. They are as follows:

1. I do not want to have "dead brain", or be a "zombie mommy".
I have seen women who dedicate their lives so much to housework that it's like they're not really "there" anymore. It's like they do nothing that stimulates their brain and they just go through life without living. I have been a zombie a couple times in my life and it's awful and I don't want that to happen to me, especially while taking care of my children.

2. Feels like a waste of time.
Until a month ago, I understood the value of housework, but just not the value of full-time housework. Isn't part-time enough? Because with the rest of my time, I could be saving the world one musicological article published at a time. (That's just one of the things I would love to do with extra time.)

3. I hate housework.
Okay, sometimes I like it, but I'm so slow that it becomes troublesome the fact that everything must be repeated--dishes must be done multiple times a day, etc. and it takes me forever! Rarely is the day when it feels like everything is clean. And I think that's what I hate about it--I'm never quite satisfied because it never seems to be perfect.

This was my thinking until about a month ago.

And before that month ago, I was constantly feeling stressed and overwhelmed. I felt like I was barely keeping my head above water. (And, yes, I only have one child and live in a small two-bedroom apartment. ;)

And then I was in the temple and had some time to ponder. I was thinking of all the cool things I'd love to do and wanted to know how to do them. And then, a thought came into my mind, and I know it was Heavenly Father speaking to me. He said, "Annie. You just need to be a mom."

The thought kind-of shocked me. And then a peace overcame me and I knew that that was my answer. I needed to focus on what was most important. All-of-a-sudden it felt like a huge burden was lifted off my shoulders. I had one focus! Just one! And it felt amazing.

Heavenly Father knew that it was the right time for me to hear this. I don't think I would have heard Him if He had tried speaking to me about this a couple weeks before.

The last month has been awesome. When I'm not playing with or taking care of Adaline, I'm organizing the apartment. I've put stuff into a storage unit, taken loads to D.I., returned and mailed things to people, organized and organized. The home is now easier to keep clean and it's so cool! It's not like I have more time than I did before--it's just that my focus has changed. For some reason, when all of my thoughts were constantly on multiple things, I couldn't use my time wisely. Now it's so much easier! I even have the brain capacity to think about dinner and to make it!

I still have a long way to go until I'm even an averagely good homemaker, but I'm working at it and it's a fun challenge. I also know that not all of the coming days will be as exciting, but that's what my brain is for--to come up with better and funner ways of accomplishing things around the home and with Addie.

My new thought is that I don't have to change the world. But I can be the mother of those who change the world. And that is a cool thought.

Yesterday I listened to and read Julie B. Beck's talk titled "Mothers Who Know" and I remembered how amazing that talk is. I recommend that you read it and that you listen to her while you read the talk. Here are some excerpts that apply to my new focus:

"Mothers who know [the gospel of Jesus Christ and have strong testimonies of such] are nurturers... Another word for nurturing is homemaking. Homemaking includes cooking, washing clothes and dishes, and keeping an orderly home. Home is where women have the most power and influence; therefore, Latter-day Saint women should be the best homemakers in the world. Working beside children in homemaking tasks creates opportunities to teach and model qualities children should emulate... Growth happens best in a “house of order,” and women should pattern their homes after the Lord’s house (see D&C 109). Nurturing requires organization, patience, love, and work. Helping growth occur through nurturing is truly a powerful and influential role bestowed on women."

So. Cool. Read the talk.

In closing, I want all of you reading this to realize something. This is my blog. Not yours. This is my story. Heavenly Father has a different mission for each of us and it will not be the same, so everything I've said may not apply to you or may not be for you yet. I just wanted to make that clear. ;)

Oh, and if you're LDS then you should go to the temple often because Heavenly Father can prompt you in wonderful ways! And if you're not LDS, you should take the time to ponder for the same thing!

Love you all!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Grandma Erickson

Grandma Lois Erickson passed away this early morning, peacefully in the hospital, at age 91. She used to send a letter every Christmas to all of the family members and I decided to read through some of those again. She bears such a powerful testimony in each one; here are a few:

I want each of you to know that I have a strong testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is our Savior and Redeemer. I know He lives, as does our Heavenly Father. I am grateful for the Atoning sacrifice that Christ made for us. I know that Joseph Smith restored the gospel of Jesus Christ with help from the Lord, and that President Gordon B. Hinckley is our living prophet today.
My life has been full of exciting moments and wonderful memories, and the best part of all is our Family. "We" [as in Grandpa Erickson and herself] love each one of you unconditionally, and I constantly pray that your lives are happy and meaningful. May you raise your families to love and serve each other as the Savior taught. I know that God lives, Jesus Christ lived, died, and was resurrected that we might live again. His atoning sacrifice was made for you and me, and He wants us to be "as He is". I'm grateful that our ancestors accepted the gospel, and knew Joseph Smith who restored the gospel, of Jesus Christ, and translated the divine Book of Mormon with divine assistance. My testimony is very precious to me. I love each and every one of you!
Most important to us [she says "us" to include Grandpa Erickson, who passed away a while ago] IS our FAMILY! [Don't you love the caps? ;)] You are our Most Valued Treasure! Please follow President Monson, our prophet, and his admonitions to live good lives at all times, trust in the Lord, pray often together, watch your children constantly, keep them close, avoid all evil temptations, keep your homes sacred, go often and honor your Temple. WE LOVE YOU DEARLY AND LOOK FORWARD TO ETERNAL LIFE WITH EACH ONE OF YOU!

Haha, I just love the capitalized letters! 

She always LOVED music. I can't even tell you how much! Almost as soon as she moved into her retirement home, she started a choir. And even when she couldn't stand and had to sit the whole time, she continued to conduct it. She is one whom you would say had a passion for music. Her aunt was Naomi Randall, whom LDS people know as the lyricist for "I Am a Child of God" and other hymns. In one of Grandma's letters she wrote:

"In the 1985 LDS Hymnal, page #128 is 'When Faith Endures' by Aunt Naomi W. Randall. This hymn is a favorite of mine, and has seen me through some difficult times. It is constantly on my mind:
'I will not doubt, I will not fear: 
God's love and strength are always near,
His promised gift helps me to find 
An inner strength and peace of mind.
I give the Father willingly 
My trust, my prayers, humility;
His Spirit guides, His love assures 
That fear departs when faith endures.'"

Grandma says that there were other verses that Naomi wrote that were not published, but that the First Presidency accepted a second verse and it was sung at Naomi Randall's funeral. Here is most of it (I'm not putting all of it because it's under copyright):

"When trials come as come they will 
I'll try the more to do His will,
I'll pray for strength and courage strong 
And strive at length to right the wrong.
I'll cling to hope, give charity, 
Reach out to those in need of me.
Grandma said, "This hymn is very dear to me, and I sing it often to myself. It has helped me through many trials and challenges".

Grandma Erickson has had multiple falls. I think that she was such an independent woman that she didn't see why her body couldn't keep up with her mind and heart! This last fall brought her to the hospital. It seemed like she knew that she would be going soon. She told her children that her last goal was to get to rehab and she reached that goal yesterday, the day before she died.

Many people, if they knew it was their time to go, would give up. They would think, "I'm leaving this world, so why does it matter?" But not Grandma Erickson. She was a woman of determination. And she lived a full life to the last breath.

Even when Grandma was not doing well, she came to Adaline's baby blessing! It was a shock to see her there and I knew she did it completely out of love. She said that she had to come for her fellow red-head. (Grandma was a carrot-top and Addie has reddish hair.) She was a remarkable woman, full of love and determination. We will miss her!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

To All First-Time Mothers

It's hard. The end.

Haha--sorry, that wasn't very compassionate! With all of the information that is available about how much your baby should be eating, sleeping, pooping, etc., it's no wonder we rarely bother to read about ourselves. We skip over the post-partum depression checklist, we breeze through the post-pregnancy marital relations articles,  and every other mother we see seems to reflect a picture-perfect scenario, while I'm still struggling to take a shower by noon.

And when anyone asks how I like motherhood, I always give a "It's wonderful!" Because I know that it is and that it should be, even if I don't feel it 24/7--haha.

I'm going to share some of my "shocks", some of my tips, and I encourage all of you to create a blog post for other mothers. I am blessed to not be struggling being a first-time mom, but I believe that most new mothers struggle.

After you've created your post, I would love it if you pasted a link to your helpful post in the comments below.

1. It's full-time work.
Now, this is an obvious. But seriously! Once I had Adaline, I think that was one thing that really hit home: there is no break. It's constant. And that can be a little overwhelming, especially if you like your freedom. And not "freedom" necessarily, but just not being able to do as many "normal" daily tasks as you used to do.

2. It's a constant guessing game. 
I thought it would be textbook figuring out how much Adaline should eat, when she should sleep, and what's wrong when she cries. I mean, there's so much information out there, it should be easy, right? (And it seemed so easy when I was watching other people's kids. ;) So, we play the guessing game until we get it all figured out and she's in a routine, and then--it changes. And you have to start all over again. ;)

3. Overflowing love is not 24/7.
I waited so long for Adaline, I thought I would be in a constant state of overwhelming love for her 24/7. Haha, yes, you can laugh! But hey--this was true for the first few months! I was seriously never angry and rarely frustrated (except at myself) for probably the first four months.

4. Anger and Anxiety.
I don't know if I've experience anxiety before. But I'm really glad that I'm able to recognize it. I don't know what happened once Addie turned 5 or 6 months, but it was like I had no patience anymore--haha. I think I assumed that because she was older, she wouldn't cry as much, and it would be easier to know what she's crying about. This is entirely not true. (At least for my child.) 

What I've done to overcome this is pure mental effort. And it takes practice. First, I recognize my emotions, then I mentally calm myself (not to the point where I'm dead to the world, that's different and not good) and at the same time, I humble myself. It's like pushing down a brick wall with your bare hands. I call upon Heavenly Father and I make sure I'm prepared to receive any inspiration He will give me. I'm willing to think about how to help Addie without getting overwhelmed or angry. I'm able to respond in a way that is positive. And I'm still learning. 

Mothers, you must take a step outside at least once everyday and that does not include walking to the car in order to get inside and drive somewhere. Even if it's a blizzard--put on a coat, wrap your baby up, and stand outside for 5 minutes. Just get outside!

I know this word can create a bad taste in some people's mouths, but exercise doesn't have to be this really hard thing. It can just be going outside for a stroll. It can be dancing with your child around the house. There are not many stairs to get to my apartment, but I run up them anyway whenever I come home. ;) Little things like that will help you to keep up some energy. 

If you seriously need exercise, though, try to find what motivates you. Most of the time the best thing is a work-out buddy. Get one of these ASAP if you really need to exercise more. Or if you're not too prideful, have your husband hold you accountable. ;) Be honest with yourself when figuring out what works.

Hey--if you're not eating healthy, you're not going to have the energy you need to be patient, loving, informed, happy, etc. The first lesson I learned about eating while having a baby is 1) take the time and 2) when you have the time, don't multi-task! If you multi-task, you won't finish eating before something happens. So, when it's time to eat, just sit there and eat.

4. One thing at a time.
Everyday I plan to get one thing done. Dishes. Laundry. Bathroom. And if I don't get it done, I don't hate myself. I just tell myself what my priorities are, and sometimes dishes just doesn't quite make it as a priority that day. Remember--your priorities are the baby and your husband, and when there's a newborn, sometimes those two priorities get flip-flopped back and forth. And remember--you can try tomorrow. (And if you don't get them done the next day, ask your husband for help and don't feel like a failure.) 

Oh, and even after 7 months, my goal is still to get Addie and myself ready by lunchtime. I'm hoping this will help some of you out there feel better about yourselves. ;)

Never underestimate what this can do for you. If your church congregation/ward does not have a mother's group, think about starting one. Find someone who will help so you don't have to plan everything on your own. Spend time with other women!!

6. Take time for God.
Addie and I read scriptures together everyday. Even at 7 months, she loves to read books with pictures, but doesn't care much for the scriptures--haha. I read them in my most exciting and adventurous voice possible, and sometimes it works. Sometimes we get through a couple verses, and sometimes it's a chapter. If I don't get my personal scripture study done for the day, I feel that at least I've read something--and it was with Addie.

P.S. Short prayers count.

Tip before you have the baby
1. Start healthy habits, including going to mother's groups, before the baby comes. For the first few months, you might not feel like you need to socialize--or that you need many of the tips above--but later, you will definitely need them!!

Some other stuff
I love this scripture:

"He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young" (Isaiah 40:11).

I have a document of scriptures and quotes that are really helpful during hard times. Click here to access it. Post these around the house to help you!

Most new mothers struggle. A lot. And even after the first baby, mothers struggle! But if you try to handle it by yourself, you're not going to make it. (Or if you do, will you still have your sanity? ;) I beg  you to listen to what your body, mind and emotions tell you, then find ways to overcome any difficulties that arise. Stay open with your husband, but you can't depend entirely on him. You have to depend on yourself, your husband, your family, and the support group of other mothers and people in your community and church. 

And, people! If you notice someone post a status on facebook that obviously sounds like they're struggling, don't just make a comment that says "I'm sorry, I'll pray for you." People! Give them a call or a visit. Seriously.

Follow my tips and make your own! Put them on your blog, and paste the link to it in my comments. :)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Natural Birth part 2

After the last post (and kudos to all who actually read the whole thing!), I realized that I really need a follow-up post.

First, I need to answer the question that many people ask after they find out I had a natural birth. And esp. after they find out that it wasn't perhaps the perfect delivery--I mean, it was perfect in the sense that I delivered a beautiful healthy baby girl without too much damage to myself. But in terms of it being perfect like 80% of the natural birth videos that make it look so easy... we'll say that it wasn't quite like those. The question is if I will do a natural delivery again.

And the answer is (in Strong Bad language): Very Yes.

The reasons? Here they are!
  1. Now that I've done it once, I know what to expect (in a way) and know that the next time will be better. (God willing, of course.)
  2. Recovery time was amazing. I think the time it took to recover was... three days? That sounds about right.
  3. It was pretty cool.
  4. I feel awesome that I was able to do it.
Okay, I guess I don't have that many reasons--haha. But the few ones that I have are enough for me to do it again.

Amazingly, even while I was going through the tough contractions, I thought to myself, "Will I get an epidural next time?" And I honestly couldn't say yes! However, the thing that I did think to myself was, I will never recommend this to anyone!! And I will not add all of the exclamation points that my thought produced at that time.

The second part of this follow-up post is some of the things I learned in the whole process.

1. Quickly recovering from tearing
If you read my previous post, you would learn that I tore to a 3. That's a lot. However, I only experienced pain a couple times. Once when I got up wrong (ouch) and three weeks later when I stopped taking the stool softener (yoooooooooouuuuuuuuuch). The rest was just discomfort. I didn't have to use a donut to sit on or anything. Why? Not because of the natural birth. It was because of the Kegel exercises I did. I not only worked up to about 200 a day, but I was able to hold the muscle for 10 seconds. When I started the exercises, I couldn't even hold it for 2 seconds! In other words, whether or not you decide to go natural, you should be doing Kegel exercises! And it not only helps the healing process, it helps the baby get out easier. My birth coach explained it as finding your head through an xx-large t'shirt versus a turtle-neck. The t'shirt is a weak muscle and the turtle-neck is a strong muscle. (And plus, you will be less likely to need Depends when you get old.)

2. High protein dieting
I'm not sure what exactly this did, but it might have done quite a bit! My body worked perfectly through the labor and delivery (even if my brain didn't ;), Addie came out healthy and chubby, and my milk was/is creamy! It could all be due to the high protein diet. I don't know. However, studies have been shown that you are less likely to have complications if you were on a high protein diet.

3. Exercising is a good idea
I did an 8-minute yoga routine everyday. I also rode a stationary bike or walked to work everyday (and if you have hemorroids, a good thing is to ride a stationary bike). I'm positive this is another reason why I had such a quick recovery. I actually wasn't exercising at all before I got pregnant! And I know that you're not supposed to start a routine once your pregnant, but I did anyway. ;) I was very careful and tried to listen to my body. When I started the yoga, I could hardly do it at first. I kept at it and it really helped my health. The yoga routine included stretching and I did that afterward too. Stretching, especially the inner-thigh muscles is a very good thing to do and you should do it more than once a day. Also cat-stretches gets the baby in the right position for delivery.

4. Giving birth is hard on your body
Ladies. It doesn't matter whether you decide to go natural or not, your body is going through the same thing!! I cannot say this enough! Just because you can't feel anything doesn't mean your body isn't experiencing anything! I encourage all pregnant women to go act as if they were to go natural. That way, you will be more likely to have a quick recovery no matter what you end up doing.

5. Contractions happen and they're not fun
Whether or not you go natural, you will experience contractions. And if it's your first baby, you might experience them for hours before the hospital admits you. What are you going to do to cope?! I would encourage you to go to natural birth classes and practice relaxation techniques because you will need them. And besides, the epidural does not work on everyone and if it's your first, you won't know its effects until you're sitting on the hospital bed in a hospital gown. Some women can still feel the contractions and you might need a relaxation technique to get you through.

6. If you decide to go natural
I don't know if I would recommend going natural your first time. The reasons are because your labor tends to be very long (and you don't want to have an emergency c-section because you're too tired to push at the pushing stage) and because, well, you've never done it before! ;) Everything is so new and crazy your first time and you've never had to push a 7-lb. human out of you before. I think it would be nice to know a little bit more of what to expect before you go all natural.
If it's your first time going natural, even if it's not your first baby, I recommend getting a coach or doula. Go to as many classes as you can. Watch as many videos as you can. Every time I had braxton hicks or Addie stretched a lot, I practiced breathing. I don't know if I recommend a high protein diet for your whole pregnancy; start it when you feel like you should. I started it about 7 weeks before the due date. Get a coach and have that coach be in the delivery room with you.

What I will do next time:
  • Go to more classes to learn about breathing techniques.
  • Watch more videos.
  • Tell myself at pushing "If you relax, the baby will come out smoothly." Or "If you relax, you won't tear." Whether or not those things are true, if I can just repeat something to myself that will get me to relax, everything will be a lot better.
  • Get John to hold my face and look in my eyes to help me through. Remember people: Eye contact.
  • Bring an exercise ball to sit on.
I was really blessed because the hospital that I delivered at let me take off the monitors for most of the laboring. Cool, huh? It gave me freedom to walk around. Intermountain Healthcare has a nice birthplan on their website if you want to use it. Share your birth experiences on your blogs! It helps women to be prepared by listening to stories.

I really tried to not make another long post! Sorry it didn't work. :P

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Addie's Birth-Day and My Natural Birth Experience (long post!!)

Finally!! A new post! I have learned that I need to write shorter posts--this one has taken me 4 months! Here is (hopefully) my last long one :P

When you're pregnant, people like to ask questions. This is because a pregnant belly is a conversation piece. ;) These questions include, "When are you due?" "Do you know what you're having?" "Are you excited?" "Do you have a name picked out?" Then as time goes on, some of these questions seem to be magically answered, "You look like you're ready to pop!" "You are carrying high; it must be a boy", "You must be ready to have that baby out!" (answers to questions 1-3).

Another question that is often asked although few people really care about the answer is, "Are you going to have an epidural?" Most people ask this question assuming that you will say "Yes". It's seems to be an obvious, doesn't it? ;) Besides, if you don't answer "yes", it can get awkward. "Uh... good luck with that..." haha.

Anyway, that last question was something I wrestled with for a while. Before I was pregnant, it was epidural all the way and thank you very much. I'm not afraid of big needles, I am afraid of pain, I like modern medicine. I was with my cousin when she had her first (her husband left 2 weeks earlier for a 8 month tour of the Atlantic on a naval ship). She tried going natural, had terrible back labor, and ended up with an epidural. What a relief that was--like night and day! I decided to never attempt to "go natural".

However, when I got pregnant, the thought of "going natural" nagged at the back of my mind. I sensibly ignored that nagging. And like any sensible person, I ignored that nagging for about 7 months. Then my doctor starting asking the question, "Are you planning to get an epidural?" During those 7 months, I talked to many women, including my sister who recently had an all-natural birth, my aunt, cousin, friends, heard many opinions... I decided that maybe I should seriously think about a natural birth.

So, I did. And I started having the feeling that I should prepare for a natural birth--almost like I might not have one, but I should prepare for it anyway. I hated this feeling--I was SO afraid of the pain! I didn't think I could do it--I didn't want to do it. Shortly after I decided to go along with this feeling, as I was sitting in sacrament meeting at church, I was flipping through the scriptures and came across this verse:

John 16:21
"A woman when she is in travail [i.e. giving birth] hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world."

What in the world?! Who put that scripture in there?! That was my first thought. Isn't it awesome how Heavenly Father places scriptures that answer our thoughts and prayers so perfectly? :) I felt like that scripture was my answer--or a confirmation of what I decided. I would prepare to "go natural".

My sister talked about the Bradley method, so I looked online and found a coach who would give us a crash course (usually the Bradley method takes 12 weeks, but we only had 7 weeks left). She had a course that was three 3-hour classes, so we went with that.

Boy am I grateful! I learned SO much from the class! First of all, the Bradley method (and most natural birth methods) have the theory that when you give birth, it's like running a marathon. Sure, you can try running it without preparation and diet, but it might be really hard and long and you may have a long and difficult recovery. I was already eating pretty healthy--rarely eating processed sugar foods, drinking plenty of water, etc. But the Bradley method recommends 80-100 grams of protein everyday, three potatoes a week, a green vegetable everyday, and other specifics as well as exercises such as Kegel and what I call the "cat stretch".

If you think about it, giving birth is a lot like running a marathon. I mean, the uterus is just one big muscle, right? And for your first baby, you can expect to be in labor for at least 12 hours. That's 12 hours of at least one large muscle contracting and relaxing, contracting and relaxing. While running, your muscles go through a similar pattern, though a marathon doesn't typically take 12 hours!

Back to Bradley. Do you know how much food it takes in order to eat 80-100 grams a day?! Yikes. But that's what I did and I am so grateful! Here was a typical day of food for me:
Breakfast: 1 egg with 2 egg whites, scrambled + 8 oz. orange juice
Snack: Yogurt + Apple
Lunch: something with meat and veggies
Snack: Peanut butter granola bar + Banana
Snack: Carrots + Celery
Dinner: something with meat and veggies
Snack: Toast with peanut butter + Chocolate milk or Cold cereal with lots of milk

And if I had carbs, they were whole grains. I ate a ton! I tried to stay away from processed foods, high sugars and fast foods.

For exercise, I did an 8 minute yoga routine and walked to campus or rode a stationary bike for 10 minutes and sometimes lifted weights and then of course throughout the day I worked out my Kegel muscle and at night before I went to bed I did "cat stretches". Two weeks before my due date I was up to 200 Kegels a day and 60 cat stretches at night. The bike was really nice too--better than walking at that stage. The day I was due, I was still touching my toes (and clipping my own toe nails woo-hoo). I felt SO healthy! It was awesome.

The bigger my belly got, the happier I got because I knew that it meant Addie was healthy. I was hoping for an 8 pounder! I ended up gaining 37 pounds and I was so proud. Because I was healthy, I knew that all of my weight gain was just what the baby needed.

Along with eating healthy and exercising, I started practicing cleansing breathes (deep breathes in through your nose and slowly out through your lips). I did this whenever I felt a contraction or whenever Addie was really pushing on my belly. I was supposed to practice relaxing too, but I didn't do that very well...

Something else the Bradley emphasizes is the negativity of drugs during birth. On average, with an epidural the recovery is 2 months. On average without an epidural or any drugs, the recovery is 2 weeks. Things like that. Other things include the baby is awake and alert at birth and ready to breastfeed almost instantly. As we learned about this, I started actually getting excited about having a natural birth--it became what I actually wanted! This paragraph from The Womanly Guide to Breastfeeding also helped:

"Right after birth, within the first hour of life, normal infants have a prolonged period of quiet alertness, averaging forty minutes, during which they look directly at their mother's and father's face and eyes and can respond to voices. It is as though newborns have rehearsed the perfect approach to the first meeting with their parents" (p. 46).

I wanted an experience like this--and I wasn't sure if it would happen with an epidural. (Babies tend to be sleepy (adamant natural birth people would say "drugged up") when the mother has had an epidural.)

The last thing that I did is I took an herb called Birth Prep. My mom is really into herbs and stuff and my sister took this and she thinks that that's why her labor was only 7 hours (for her first). I wasn't sure if it would work, but hey! If it was going to shorten my labor, why not? I think what the herb did was make me have braxton hicks. These "fake" contractions increased as I increased the dosage and I think it helped to prepare my body for labor. My actual labor (of consistent contractions) was 9 hours--pretty good for a first, I think. Did the herb do that? No idea. ;)

Now for the moment you've been waiting for! March 10th at 11:11 p.m. contractions started. They were sporadic--ranging from 3 to 20 minutes apart. Some were hard and some were not. I was able to sleep in-between them. It was actually the perfect beginning! I was able to practice my breathing and relaxation techniques. I didn't actually plan what I was going to do for relaxation--I just didn't know what was going to work! And these contractions helped me to figure out what worked. I just told myself "Let it go" over and over again and I was able to relax my muscles and kind-of let the pain out of my body.

John knew about my contractions, but I wanted him to sleep. I woke him a couple times early in the morning. This went on until 8 or 9 a.m. in the morning and then they started to be regular--about 5 minutes apart. I got dressed, got ready for the day and went out to the living room and labored. My mom and little sister were there and everyone took turns timing the contractions. Laying on my side on the couch was actually pretty comfy.

This went on until about 11:30 a.m. when the contractions were 3 minutes apart. At noon, we decided to go to the hospital. We called our doctor and headed out! We got to the hospital, they had me put on a gown, and they took John and I to a side room where we found out I was 4 cm. and they hooked me up to the machines that determine contractions and baby's heartbeat. They said that if I progressed to 5 cm. in an hour, they would admit me; if not, I'd have to go home.

In an hour, I was a 5! They took us to a room and I labored for 4-5 hours. It was not easy. It took so much mental effort and it was difficult to find a real comfortable position. Saying the words "let it go" in my mind and taking deep cleansing breaths continued to work really well for me to relax through the pain, though. And holding John's hand also made a big difference--seriously, it's like that's all I needed from him!

I felt too nauseous to eat or drink anything all day. When we were at home, I had a couple yummy all-fruit fruit roll-ups, but that was it. Ice chips at the hospital were perfectly wonderful. ;) I was SO focused, it was seriously like I was in another world--a world of intense concentration.

When transition started (the point where most women start crying or going crazy), it was sometime after 5 p.m. and I was mentally exhausted. In the back of my mind, I knew that I could control it, but (isn't this awful?) I wasn't sure if I wanted to anymore! I was still in a zone and I could hear my mom and John talking to me and about me--but seriously people! When someone's in pain, can they concentrate on things you're trying to tell them? I needed eye contact--I think I could have stayed in control of the pain if only someone looked me straight in the eyes and said, "Annie. You can do this."

Transition was not fun and I wanted to get it over with as soon as possible. The nurse checked me and I was 8 cm. She said that if my water broke, I'd most likely get to a 10 and start pushing. So, in-between contractions I stomped around, trying to get my water to break--haha. After a few more contractions, ta da! Like the nurse predicted, I was almost immediately at a 10. The doctors came in and everyone got ready for when I felt like pushing.

After some crazy contractions, I felt an enormous urge to do something--not necessarily to push, but something needed to happen! I assumed this was the need to push. I wish now that someone would have helped me get into a comfortable position (or as comfortable as possible). My legs were in the right place, but the way I was sitting was awful. But of course I was in so much pain, I didn't think about it. My doctor took his seat and announced, "I see strawberry blonde!" That got us all excited.

The contractions were so intense and almost right on top of each other--I was completely out of control. And I knew I needed to push, but I had no idea how! I didn't know where to focus or what to do. And I didn't want to push too hard because I didn't want to tear. I couldn't figure out how to breathe and again, everyone seemed to be talking to me or about me without actually helping at all.

A lot of people say that when it comes time to push, it's a relief, but not for me. It was so much worse. And I could tell that I was doing exactly what I shouldn't be doing: holding back. If you try to keep the baby from coming out, it can get dangerous. I was afraid of the possible pain and I didn't want to tear.

After a few attempts at pushing, they couldn't get a heart rate on the baby. They tried the little thing they screw on the top of the baby's head, but still couldn't get a reading. My doctor looked at me and said, "Annie, we need to get the baby out right now." Now that I look back on it, I think this is just what I needed.

I didn't feel scared; I remember yelling, "Tell me what to do!" And the doctor said to push as if having a bowel movement (sorry to be so open). (There is some debate about that technique--some say that it is more likely to cause tearing.) So I pushed--it was weird--it was still so hard to really figure it out, but after a couple times I figured it out and in 12 minutes and with lots of noise (totally movie birth scene, people!), out she came at 5:47 p.m.!

She didn't cry and she had swallowed maconium, so they rushed her over to a little warm table to pump the fluid out of her lungs. They gave me patocin to hurry up the placenta and shrink my uterus (awesome!) and gave me a shot of something and started stitching me up. I hadn't realized it, but once they couldn't hear the heartbeat, a crew had come in to be ready for the baby. Pretty cool. After about ten minutes, I got to hold little Addie. She started grunting, though, after a couple minutes, so they whisked her away for a cpap and John followed.

To be honest, the delivery was pretty traumatic for John and I. I didn't mind when they took Adaline away because it gave me a little time to cope with what just happened. My doctor is a new doctor, so it took him 30 minutes to stitch me up--I barely tore to a 3. There I sat with my legs still sprawled out for 30 min.! It got really cold in that hospital gown. :P

After the stitching up was done, they wheeled me to the NICU to see John and Adaline for a few minutes. She was doing great. John looked like he was having fun. We met the dinner person on our way and I guess they didn't expect me down at "mother & baby" for a couple more hours, so we got him to get me a dinner.

Mom helped get me situated in the room and as soon as Adaline arrived, we tried breastfeeding and she was awesome! First time's a charm! She was sooo alert and attentive to John and I--it was wonderful.

I will be honest. Because the birth was somewhat traumatic for me, I wondered if I loved little Addie as much I should. One of the things they tell you with going natural is that you will feel more love for your child than if you had an epidural. Now, don't be offended, epidural mothers! Who knows if this is really true. Besides, in my case it wasn't. The second night we were in the hospital, she couldn't stop crying and I was worried that maybe I wasn't producing enough colostrum? The nurses had told us multiple times that they could take her to the nursery if I needed sleep, so reluctantly we decided to have them take her and perhaps give her a little formula. Here is my little baby, just crying her heart out and the nurse takes her away! I bawled.

We later found out that she was just cold. ;) When they got her to the nursery and put her under the heat lamps, she feel right asleep--haha. Anyway, it felt good to know that I really cared about her and loved her as much as I was hoping.

Thank you for reading this extremely long post! I promise I will try to be shorter in the future. Love you all!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


John and I are doing great! And Addie Lou is perfect. I still get paranoid often and the months between doctor visits feel SO long, but I've decided that choosing faith is better than choosing paranoia. :) (And some days that's easier than others.)

I feel like sharing an experience that started a while ago--about patience.

This is something I wrote early this year (before I got pregnant):
"Shortly after my second miscarriage, John gave me a priesthood blessing. [If you don't know what that is, see my second paragraph in this post.] In the blessing, he conferred upon me a gift that I did not want. It was the last thing that I desired. It was a gift that many people work a lifetime to acquire, and here Heavenly Father was giving it to me without much effort; I even despised it. It was the gift of patience.

After both of my miscarriages, there was nothing I wanted more than to be pregnant again. Having a child growing within me, then being empty inside without anything to show for it, left me with an incredible yearning to have another chance. I desired nothing else than to again have those feelings of joy and anticipation that come with welcoming one of God’s choice children to the earth. Just thinking of waiting a year or so before becoming pregnant again made my sorrow overwhelming. And I felt that if I had to wait five years or more, I would die. Not that I would physically harm myself, but that somehow I would cease to exist; I felt that physically, spiritually and emotionally, I could not handle that trial.

About a year after my first miscarriage, I was finally pregnant again. But during the first doctor’s appointment, we knew something was wrong. And now, after a second miscarriage, with all those emotions and feelings of yearning and sorrow, Heavenly Father wanted to bless me with patience. I felt that being patient meant that I would not be pregnant right away. I was angry. I was angry that of all the blessings Heavenly Father could bestow, that was the one He chose.

Having children is a righteous desire, and married couples are encouraged to “multiply and replenish the earth” and to find joy in having children (Gen. 1:28; Psalms 127:3; see the Proclamation to the World on the Family). My husband and I were trying our best to follow the commandments, to fulfill our callings, and to attend the temple. Why didn’t Heavenly Father bless us in our righteous desire of having children?

A miserable week followed the priesthood blessing while I refused to be patient. I was bitter, angry, and distraught. Finally, I decided that I needed God’s help to endure. I humbled myself and with a broken heart, I knelt down and prayed to God. I told Him that I was ready to accept His gift.

That was five years ago. [July 2005 to be exact.] Since then I've lived in a city full to the brim of young families. [Full. to. the. brim of people who have no problem getting pregnant. "Oops", "we weren't planning on this", "yes, it was a honeymoon baby", "yes, I'm only 18", "I cried when I saw the two lines because my kids will be so close together", blah blah blah. I added that so you get the point. ;)] I've watched cousins, siblings and friends experience the joys I continue to hope for. [We waited for a year for an adoption to come through--for someone to pick us to be parents.]

[From that paragraph, it may not sound like I had much patience! But I really did. It was an incredible gift that Heavenly Father bestowed upon me. I felt that I could survive, that I could continue to endure, that I could continue to grow and learn, and that my worth was not dependent upon being able to have children. I discovered that John and I could continue to strengthen our friendship and love in a way that few couples are able to. I finished my master's degree; I got a great job; I had time to cook and clean and do fun things. I had time to serve others and create new friendships.]

The stories of women in the scriptures give me so much strength. I read and re-read the stories of Hannah, Sarah, Rebekah and Rachel, and realize that I have many more years to go before experiencing the level of patience they had to have (see Hebrews 6:12). Hannah might have waited about 10 years before giving birth to Samuel; Sarah could have waited as many as 50 years before she had Isaac. It is encouraging to know that the feelings I have are shared by some of the most important and great women in the history of this earth. And to know that these women remained faithful gives me courage to endure.

Many of God's servants have experienced similar times of patience. I often rely on this scripture in a revelation given to Joseph Smith amidst the persecution of the Saints in Missouri:
1 Verily I say unto you my friends, fear not, let your heart be comforted; yea, rejoice, evermore, and in everything give thanks;
2 Waiting patiently upon the Lord, for your prayers have entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, and are recorded with this seal and testament--the Lord hath sworn and decreed that they shall be granted.
3 Therefore, he giveth this promise unto you, with an immutable covenant that they shall be fulfilled; and all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good, and to my name's glory, saith the Lord (D&C 98:1-3).

People often say that the purpose of trials is to become strong; or because in God's Plan, we must be tested in this life. But I have discovered that those things are only a part of the purpose of trials. I have learned that there is no other way--no other way--to truly know God and His Son than to experience trial, tribulation and suffering.

We come to know God through prayer, and in our trials, we pray as Christ did in Gethsemane: "And being in agony, he prayed more earnestly" (Luke 22:44). Without struggle, we would never prayer in such a way. Without trial, we would never learn what it means to rely on the Savior, nor how marvelous the Atonement is. There is no other way to know God and His Son so perfectly than to rely on them during difficult times.

I have come to know for myself that Heavenly Father will bestow us with amazing gifts, such as patience, as we live the gospel. Most of the time, we have to ask for them. Sometimes we have to work for them; and sometimes they are merely given (see Moroni 10:8).

Heavenly Father will give us gifts that we ask for if we "ask not amiss" (James 4:3; 2 Nephi 4:35), for "he that asketh in the Spirit asketh according to the will of God; wherefore it is done even as he asketh" (D&C 46:30).

I know God loves me. I know God loves all of His children. I know that it is because of this love that we experience trial. There is no other way to return to Him than to develop faith and patience as He binds our broken hearts, lifts our "hands which hang down, and [strengthens our] feeble knees" (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18). Only then can we "run with patience the race that is set before us" (Hebrew 12:1) and see God's promises fulfilled to the faithful. For "they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint" (Isaiah 40:31). "Blessed are all they that wait for Him" (Isaiah 30:18).

[Back to the present:] Even though I'm incredibly blessed to be pregnant now, I haven't forgotten what it feels like to wait. I feel bad not being a part of that club anymore--almost like I have nothing to offer those who now struggle with infertility. But I know that my lessons in waiting and patience are not over; I will learn them in other ways in my life!

And for endurance, I can continue look to great women for examples, such as my friend Jill whose 2-year-old daughter, Erin, just finished her last round of chemotherapy (if you need to stop feeling sorry for yourself, read her blog).

Or my friend Emily who has a two year-old and newborn triplets, while living in Brooklyn on the second floor of an apartment (yes, second floor = stairs).

Or John's cousin whose husband is in Iraq for a year and her immediate family lives far away.
We are truly not alone here! This earth is full of men and women past, present and future, who have experienced, now experience, and will experience trial and deep emotion. And in our individual suffering, we can turn to the Savior who is the only one who knows exactly how we feel. I am so grateful for a Savior who had trial and suffering and who triumphed. He was perfectly obedient and He has perfect love.

Here are other scriptures that might help you along your journey of patience and faith:
How Firm a Foundation (LDS Hymn No. 85)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It's A...

GIRL!!! It is a perfect and perfectly beautiful little girl! I feel so blessed and grateful.

I never cared much for profile pics on facebook, etc. that are pictures of babies in the womb. Except for Liz Wilcken's because her picture is of twins, and that's cool. But for everybody else, I usually think, "Thanks for showing me your insides." I mean--of course, they're showing the baby and that's really exciting, but it's just not that exciting unless it's your baby or a sibling's baby. Do you know what I mean?

Anyway, that idea has changed now that I have pictures of my own "insides" and there is the cutest little girl--a baby that I feel like I already know--pictured there. SHE IS SO ADORABLE!

I have included two pictures of her. First, her profile. Second, her legs crossed--so funny!

Look at that little nose and those big lips! Both Erickson features, I believe.

The bottom blob is the placenta. The bulge to the right is her belly (nice belly, huh?) and hopefully you can see her little legs crossed in the middle. She was seriously laying straight out the whole time--I'm a little afraid of what will happen when she gets bigger... Here, look at a pic of her leg--totally straight out! I thought babies were supposed to curl up in a little ball...

Ow, I can feel my ribs hurting just thinking about the future... But WHO CARES! I'm having a baby!!