Saturday, July 31, 2010

Pooter

How I'm Feeling

Physically, I'm at the peak for first trimester symptoms. I now feel nausea if I'm overly tired, hungry, or stressed out, as well as when I'm in a moving vehicle. But much of the time I don't feel tired, hungry, or stressed, and I'm not in a vehicle, so much of the time I actually feel normal. Maybe a bit more tired. Somewhat shorter patience with the kids, but not really anything notably angry or irritable. I can't complain, and I am really pleasantly surprised that this pregnancy has been so much more comfortable than my last one! I had kind of figured they would get worse with each pregnancy, but that is apparently not so. In fact, every once in so often I will panic that I'm not sick enough, maybe I'll miscarry!!! But then I get in the van. Even sitting in it when it's not moving makes me nauseous. Oh RIGHT.

Emotionally I think I might not be on the same positive level. This was a planned pregnancy I was excited for! But now I'm filled with fear. What if, what if, what if??? My biggest fear is that I won't be able to cope with four children, especially a toddler and a baby, and I will go all emotionally crazy and, well, go crazy. Huh. It's pretty hard to argue against that being a possibility, given the fact that I've gone crazy before after adding a kid. In fact, I've kind of gone crazy TWICE in a ROW after adding a kid. So I have some pretty strong precedence set for fearing I might go there again. And the crazy is just indescribably awful, the kind of experience you'd cut your fingers off or gouge an eye out to avoid, and here I am risking it happening again by having another baby. Don't worry, I won't actually cut off or gouge out anything, because i think that might put me far enough over the definition of crazy to get myself committed. =)

There's nothing wrong with hospitalization to deal with mental illness--I've known several well functioning people who have hospitalizations in their past, and all of them, without fail, describe those hospitalizations in positive terms. FINALLY getting the help they needed, and getting out of their thought cycles of depression, fear, or psychosis. However, it's nice when one can avoid needing to be hospitalized. Or losing a finger or an eye.

Anyways, I'm afraid I'm going to go crazy again. I'm afraid of the anxiety returning. I'm afraid of the mental images that loop through my head, the constant rehearsals for coping with catastrophe, the memories from things I've seen at work, the nightmares, the sleeplessness--what new mom wants to lie next to their sleeping baby and stay awake to make sure it keeps breathing--for hours and hours and hours??? New moms want to SLEEP EVERY SECOND THEY CAN to make up for all the getting up and feeding and burping and changing and resettling. Riley slept like a dream baby. Six hours at a time, 6-12, 12-6. I lay awake, watching him. You know, so I could keep him alive.
Ack.

I have to remember that I have some big things in my favour this time around. #1 BIG thing in my favour: I know what I'm dealing with. With Matthew, I had no idea what was wrong with me--I just knew that I wasn't depressed, but that something was very, very wrong. I had a good friend recently apologize for judging my parenting at that time (she's going through a hard time with her children now, and she empathizes a bit more). It was quite apparent that I didn't cope well. But it is so hard to tackle the problem when you don't know its cause. And coping poorly as a parent is so full of social stigma, it's hard to get adequate help once you recognize that something is wrong. I went to a counsellor, and he was nice and all, but he didn't really help. He took the worst off the top, by helping me recognize that I was consumed with guilt over Matthew's life story before he came to us, and slathering layers of guilt on top for the ill coping I was doing once he was adopted. But it was a long, long 18 month plus another year and a half of coping better but not REALLY feeling settled or loving him the same as my other kids before that was resolved. That whole process could have been telescoped down to probably a 3 month process if I had had proper recognition of an anxiety disorder, good support, and appropriate help. It's no one's fault that I didn't have this: it's a natural consequence of living in a society that doesn't understand or adequately support mental illness. Period.

But it is what it is. I can't change the past, and I have come to terms with that. And being open about the process and journey and how I treat my illness just might push back against that social stigma enough to help someone else. At the very least, those of you who read this blog and follow my journey will have some insight into the mind of someone with this type of illness.

Of course, after Riley was born the anxiety was so bad it triggered anxiety attacks, which is how I finally recognized what I had. At work we get lots of calls for people with anxiety attacks. They are not fun. When you have one, it really feels like you might be dying. And the ambulance personnel are all, without fail, rolling their eyes in private at the anxiety attack calls. You're not dying. It's all in your head. Relax. You don't need an ambulance.
So when I had anxiety attacks, I didn't call an ambulance. But I recognized what I had, at last, and so I'm eternally grateful for those attacks. I went to a new counsellor, four times, who helped me with immediate coping mechanisms. And THEN, when my allotment of sessions ran out (I had accessed the counselling services available through my work, since so many of my nightmares and anxieties were directly connected with stuff I'd seen at work, but work only pays for 4 sessions), I happened to be in my doctor's office for something unrelated, and I saw a poster for a postpartum anxiety and depression treatment and support group. I wrote down the number. And that group SAVED ME. I still use the techniques I learned there for coping with anxiety. It shifted my perspective on the WORLD, my life, and the thoughts in my head and emotions in my heart.
So. I have to remember that even if anxiety rears its head again (and I actually believe this whole fear fear fear process is anxiety attempting to return), I have recognition and coping tools at my disposal that I didn't have in the past. I don't have that group anymore, but I still have the workbook and the email addresses of the other members of the group. Hopefully that will get me through. I also have supplements to help me, a naturopathic midwife, my previous naturopathic midwife's email address and willingness to help, and all of you. If my emotions travel back to hell, I probably won't get too far on the path before turning around and coming back, because I have good support. And better coping mechanisms. And, most of all, recognition of what I have.


Another fear I'm harboring is that of a disturbance of the peace. We have a nice balance here, with three kids, and I'm loathe to upset the balance. Every day since Riley was born has been another step of redemption and towards peace, and I'm afraid to lose that. I'm also afraid to displace my baby. He still seems like a baby to me, though he's nearly two. He still needs me. He still nurses. He still wants to cosleep about 50% of the time. What if both babies want to breastfeed at the same time at night? I can't sleep through that. I don't even know if I can DO that. I know it's logistically possible, but will it be comfortable? Likely not. But I don't want Riley to miss out on baby led weaning and wean him from breastfeeding, either. I'm envisioning having to push away a crying Riley because I'm feeding the baby, and it being very disruptive for everyone's sleep, and awful rejection for Riley. Right now he has fairly free access and doesn't have to wait, because HE'S the baby.
I feel sad that he will have to move over, so to speak. And I worry about how I'll be able to cope. I want to enjoy life and my babies and my kids, and I worry about the inevitable hunkering down and surviving that comes with having too much to do and not enough time or sleep. Gosh, I worry too much.

I also feel a bit taxed. A bit touched out. A bit tired of breastfeeding. Not tired of breastfeeding per SE, but the thought of doing it nonstop for the next 2-3 years is a bit daunting. I believe in it, and I'll do it, but some freedom would be nice. A break between Ayden and Riley gave me enough time to miss it and look forward to it, and really enjoy it when Riley came along. But another 2 to 3 years of it? It's lots of work, and a pretty short tether to one's child to sustain for years. People understand if you can't go away overnight with a child under about 9 months. But a two year old? People just don't get if your tether to them is short at that age, unless they breastfeed forever too, or have good friends who do.
Even my husband doesn't really get it. He likes to dream about overnights away from the kids, and sometimes mentions two night getaways. He's dreaming anyways, since we can't really afford them unless we get some kind of a deal or freebie, but it's like he forgets how short my tether is to Riley. 14 hours, max. And I don't like doing even that.
Knowing that this baby will be my last, it would be nice to relish everything, including breastfeeding, but I guess we would never get to the point of feeling 'done' with having kids if everything was enjoyable and relishable and happy and sweet, would we? Kind of like pregnancy. We'd never be eager for labour to start or for sleepless nights with a new baby if we didn't get to that uncomfortable, can't sleep, feel like an overripe eggplant, grouchy stage late in the third trimester. I know I'm ready for my kids to grow, increase their independence, develop, and for me to move beyond the birth and baby stage. This is new for me. I haven't been ready for that yet. But now I am, which is a good indicator that 4 is just right for us. One more! Then we're done.

Thanks for listening. I feel much better. Hopefully I can push back the fear and just take life as it comes, even with four.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Weird Things I Like/Don't Like



I saw this idea on Cream of Mommy Soup and it's pretty cute. So I'll copy.

Weird things I LIKE:

1.

19 Kids and Counting

I've set my PVR to record every time they air this show, repeat or new. And when Brent is working, I watch it to my heart's content (at night, after #3, 4, and 5 are asleep). It's a reality show about an uber fundamentalist Christian family from Arkansas, USA. After a miscarriage during her second pregnancy, Jim Bob (yes, that IS his name: don't hold it against him too much) and Michelle Duggar felt convicted to allow God to decide the size of their family, and not prevent any pregnancies. They never imagined the babies would just. keep. coming. but they seem very equipped to raise a huge brood of kids. I am not sure exactly why I love this show so much, but it's something between it makes my family look tame, and I love the way they treat their kids with gentleness, patience, consistency, and respect. On camera, of course. But it seems these are genuine character qualities.


2.

Happy Planet Extreme Green Fruit Smoothie

This is basically a day's worth of vegetables in a plastic container, but I love it. There's wheatgrass and nettles and other green stuff in it, and it looks like vomit. But it tastes delicious. On a hot day, go to Starbucks and get them to blend one of these with ice, and you got yourself a sugar free sweet smoothie treat! Yum.


3.

The Lord of The Rings

This isn't weird. But it's weird for me, because I don't like fantasy literature. I like fiction, but not in a fictional setting. But Tolkein's world is so well and completely constructed, that I LOVE this series.


4.

Cherries

And all things fresh fruit...raspberries, blueberries, peaches, bananas...I have to keep my fruit consumption to a minimum, in an effort to avoid gestational diabetes. It's all I can think about. Forget ice cream and chocolate, all I can think about is fruit!
Wait til Rice Cake is born. It will be a food free for all. I HATE having a love affair with food and having to be celibate.
Grrrr.
The weirdness there isn't the like, it's the intensity. Kind of like this:

Dreaming of egg salad and cherries....
Feeling 90 years old....
Energy similar....


5.

Cats

I know that a few days after we got our dog I posted that I liked him better, but in the end I don't really. I love my dog! He's great, actually. He behaves himself, mostly. He's good with the kids, rarely barks, never jumps up on us (and only occasionally on guests), and is easy going. So great. But in the end, I'm a cat person at heart. My dog Amber from when I was a teenager was remarkable, and made her way right into my heart and stayed there for her entire 18 year life--incredible for a large dog!!! And 18 is an estimate--she could have been as old as 19. My dad rescued her from a pretty cruel situation when she was fully grown, but still very much a puppy, so we were never sure how old she was. She died last fall, and I have been waiting to post about her ever since. She was very special to me, so I have been wanting to do her justice, with a photo and everything. I will, soon.
Amber aside, I'm really a cat person. I'm okay with that. I think I'm especially a cat person at this time in my life, with kids everywhere and not a drop of energy to spare. Cats are pretty autonomous, you know what I mean? Go on vacation, leave them a pail of food and fresh cat litter. Ignore them for four days. They crawl on your lap while you watch t.v. and purr, grateful that you gave them space, and grateful for a lap. A dog would go berserk, eat the baseboards, rip up the couch, shit on the floor, and be psychologically traumatized for life if you went away and left it!
So. Contrary to popular human opinion, I prefer cats.
My best friend is a dog person: she mocks me for loving an animal that lets you pet it and then randomly bites you without warning. She doesn't get them. See, I 'get' dogs, I just find them too needy. Like, HELLO! I have eleventy billion other creatures to worry about in this house, I can't be constantly hauling your face out of the garbage and pulling saran wrap out of your esophagus!

And speaking of Free Range: how about free range DOG parenting??! I remember when we were kids, our dog roamed free in the suburb we lived in (before we moved to the farm), and no one thought twice about it. She chased things and barked and cut through random yards, but that was what people did. We didn't cage them in our fenced yards. So interesting. That would garner some heavy disgust around here these days, I tell you.



Weird Things I Don't Like:

1.

The Smell of Hair

I LOATHE smelling peoples' hair. Especially, ESPECIALLY, unwashed hair, which I come across fairly often because we transport people who have been sick in hospital for days or weeks from hospital to hospital. Who has time to wash their hair when they're freaking sick enough for the hospital? But I hate it. Spew.
I can't even stand Brent's unwashed head. Fresh from the shower, yes. Day old, nope. My kids are the ONLY humans on this planet whose heads I like the smell of. I sniff their heads as often as I can, for as long as they will put up with it.

2.

Diesel Fumes

Lotsa people like this smell. I feel like I can feel the cancer multiplying in my nose, oropharynx, trachea, bronchioles, and lung tissue with every breath containing these fumes. When I have pregnancy nose, I can smell it a bajillion miles away, in very minute particulate.

3.


Backing Up

I'm too afraid I'm going to bash into something. Or run over small children. I'm good at it now, because I have been forced to learn to navigate some tight spaces while backing up an ambulance, but I still hate it.
So there you have it. Some fun things I like/don't like.

Residual Questions

Amy asked what the 'H' stands for in HBAC; it's Home Birth After Cesarean!

And Tonya and Asheya mentioned that it would be tempting to toss in the towel and quit my job altogether. To be honest, the mere thought of earning no income to supplement what Brent makes causes me more nausea than going to work. If I can just hang in there until October or November, I can go on maternity leave and get paid for another year. Not much, but something.
We struggle so much to stay afloat that it's hard for me to see not earning anything at all. But my hope is to start my business selling my crochet items (and hopefully knit, if I can get better at knitting...a WIP...), paintings, doula care, slings, and (maybe) being a midwifery assistant for home deliveries. As a paramedic, I can assist at home births if I get my NRP certification (Neonatal Resuscitation). Which costs $700. At some point I'd like to get that certification, but I'm not sure when I'll be able to scrounge up the dough! My mom is a home birth assistant. It sounds awfully cool. So if I can get a business up and running, bringing in at least some income, and write my home office and car off for tax breaks, I won't come back to BC Ambulance after my maternity leave.
That's the plan.

Lori asked about the Walk Of Shame. It's not really a waddle. It's a rumply clothed, tousled hair, sleepy eyed sort of walk, fairly early in the morning. Like, earlier than you would expect after a late night party. Like they woke up, realized who they were sleeping with, and thought, I gotta get outta here!!! My cousin Kathleen introduced me to that term. She applied it to the groupies who follow professional athletes around, which is pretty funny, too.

Tonya asked if pot is legal here. NO. It is NOT. It is VERY MUCH illegal, though our culture is very accepting of it. It's 'natural,' after all. I can't go into why I hate it so much on the blog. But I loathe it.

I think that gets us up to date...
:)))

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Comment Moderation

I appreciate that so many of you are regular commenters. I really love comments, and I try to respond to them whenever I can!
But recently I've been recieving some very unkind comments from an individual reader, which I don't appreciate. So, I've deleted those comments, and my responses, and reserve the right to do so in the future if it happens again. I don't mind debates or differences of opinion, as long as they are stated with empathy and kindness, which is what most of you are careful to do. So, thank you for your understanding!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Midwife appointment



I had my first consultation visit with the HBAC friendly midwife I found--she's a good fit! I'm very happy!! I've also since learned that one of my previous initial consults, which was with a locum, was inaccurate in telling me the midwives in that practice don't normally attend VBACs at home. They do! All that stress, and I actually had more choices than I thought. Oh well. I found a midwife now, that I'm quite happy with. We went over the choices I'd like to make, the things I'd like to refuse, when we would be comfortable with certain interventions (ie, bleeding is a good indication for ultrasound, and during labour if fetal heart tones are difficult to auscultate with the fetoscope because of my position or something, the doptone might be a good option), and she and I are on the same page. Totally.
She DID play the dead baby card, once. It wasn't to convince me of anything, but it was in the context of discussing informed consent. She was trying to explain why informed consent includes detailed information and the signing of forms for refusal of routine procedures. It was in the context of a discussion of legal liability. But, still. The dead baby card is a frowned upon play. Not because neonatal deaths don't happen, but because it scares moms into making choices they are not comfortable with because they are naturally wired to protect their babies. The thing is, deaths are so rare. Another midwife I consulted with played the dead baby card for real--in the context of talking about HBACs. I was saying that in the rare event of uterine rupture (higher risk with VBACs, from 0.01% in normal pregnancies to 0.4% in VBACs--lower with subsequent pregnancies for VBACs, but I'm not sure to what rate, and increased 400% to 1.6% if a VBAC is induced), most ruptures are slow, giving time for surgery to intervene to save mom and baby. I was saying that in most hospitals, the golden standard from recognition of an obstetrical emergency to operating time is 30 minutes (and often takes as long as 40 minutes). Shorter time spans do happen, but it's exceedingly rare. Given that I live within 30 minutes of the nearest hospital, I feel that I have no disadvantage delivering at home, because that 30 minute golden standard is still probable. Midwives call ahead if a home birth needs transfer to a hospital, and get the ball rolling for an operating room if needed.
That midwife (not the one I saw today) pointed out that in the (VERY rare) instance of a catastrophic uterine rupture, a transfer to hospital would be likely to save me, but not my baby. "Though they likely couldn't save your baby in a hospital, either, but you would be physically closer to the operating room, so if they did get in within 15 minutes, it could be possible."

I'm all about informed consent. I want to know ALL the information for and against my decisions. But I do not want people to point out dead babies. It just makes statistical probability fade into the background and the picture of grief stand pretty stark in one's mind. I have read on the BC College of Midwive's website that 11 to 12 minutes from catastrophic rupture to fetal death is the correlation. 15 minutes is an unrealistic time frame for an operating room to assemble even in an emergency, and by then it would be too late anyways. 30 minutes is far more likely, and I would have all the inherent risks associated with hospital birth with no statistical advantage for neonatal or maternal outcomes.

So. I wasn't happy with that dead baby card.
Todays was less blatant, but my eyes DID almost pop out of my head when she mentioned a baby in Ontario who died of hemorrhagic disease of the newborn after her parents refused the Vitamin K shot, and the parents sued despite having undergone informed consent. She was talking about protecting herself as a practitioner, I'm assuming to reassure me that when I sign refusals, it is not because she disagrees, it's simply for legal reasons. But still. Dead baby?
Otherwise, my midwife is great. I like her style. She's a great mix of personal and professional, slightly scatterbrained (which makes her human), but really, really experienced (over 500 births), and very good at what she does. And she's all about women's choices. I'm all about full bodily autonomy. We're on the same page.

I'm so happy!

=)




Riley came to the appointment. He pooped his diaper about 5 minutes in. But of course, one doesn't want to take 10 minutes out of a very full appointment time to change one's 2 year old's crappy pants, so we got to smell that for 45 minutes. ROCK ON!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

So much to say!


I have many little things I want to post about, but nothing really all that big or exciting, so bear with me =)
Matthew went away for three days, and came back today. My sister takes one of my kids a few times a year, for as many days as she can manage. Boy, does that make them feel special--a weekend with Auntie Megan, doing crazy fun stuff and eating junk food and staying up too late!! And boy, does it give me a breather!! This week she took Matthew. She lives in Victoria so she rides the ferry, I meet her at the gate, and they walk back on to go to her house. Then, I ride the ferry on the way back, meet them at the gate, and turn and go right back again. Walking onto the ferry costs $8 on a weekday, $14 on a weekend, so it's not too bad. Definitely worth three days of peace and quiet!! Matthew had a blast! And I did miss him, a little bit, at night when there were only two boys asleep in their beds. The rest of the time I enjoyed the peace and quiet.
Matthew is an intense little boy, and an extreme extrovert. He may be the most extroverted person I've ever met. Why on earth God saw fit to match the world's biggest extrovert with two introverted parents is beyond me!! Every time I ask him, the silence afterwards makes me think God is giggling at me up His sleeve. And I'm reminded that challenges are good for me.

I've also been wanting to mention that I've been realizing more and more lately how much negative feedback I get about free ranging my kids. Every time we go out in public, someone's bringing me back my kid from the ravine bed, or pointing out the dangers of having one's bike on top of the picnic table. [this from a man in his seventies: I'm positive he was doing the same thing when he was seven with his own bicycle, and lived to tell the tale--the only difference was that back then, moms stayed in the house while their kids were at the park with their bikes on the picnic table, doing all manner of 'dangerous' living!!!]
I expected as a breastfeeding momma to get looks and comments about my breastfeeding, especially past 12 months of age, but I have run across very few obvious disapprovals. From strangers. From family, yes. From strangers, no.
I expected as an interracial family to get looks and comments about adoption, race, fertility, and all manner of private family information, but I have come across very few overt comments regarding adoption or interracial families. Sometimes people refer to him as Ayden/Riley's 'friend,' or 'that other little boy,' but not in a way that I find rude.
But I did not expect as a free range family to be constantly harrassed by other adults in public. I'm getting rather short with people. To the man about the picnic table I said, "Yes, they are on the picnic table. They're my kids. I'll watch them, thanks." Fairly shortly.
I read on the Feminist Breeder's blog a comment on a blog post about how far is too far to leave your kids in the car while you are outside it, and one woman commented that SHE TAKES HER KIDS OUT OF THE CAR WHILE SHE PUMPS HER GAS. OMG. The world is so dangerous we can't leave our kids in the car when we're standing right next to it?!?! FUELING IT?!?!?!
Pumping gas with my three rugrats running around free sounds far more dangerous to me. Anyways, the more common sense I try to apply to this Free Range Kids thing, the more people criticize me. And the more sensitive I get. I'm not even all that free range! My kids don't ride to school on their own (yet), nor play at the park unsupervised (yet). Or ride the subway alone (though none of them are nine and we don't live near a subway). I guess once they do, I'll be getting some more flak.
Anyways, I needed to gripe about that, that I was surprised that giving my kids a longer leash than average would garner me far more criticism as a parent than extended breastfeeding or adopting a brown kid. Ya learn something new every day. I even nursed Riley next to a stranger on the plane ride back from Regina, and she didn't bat an eye. Who knows? Maybe she's a lactation consultant or a midwife, or has a daughter who breastfed til she was six?! You just never know. Or maybe she's just a polite Canadian.
Where are all the polite Canadians when my kid is exploring the ravine next to the park? You honestly think you care more about my child's whereabouts than I do? Jeepers. I won't even mention water park psycho. Oops, I just did.

Also, camping was awesome. I want to do a post with pictures of that one, so goodness knows when that will happen.

;-)

Also, I worked last Tuesday night and took care of a little girl Riley's age who fell in a campfire. She was covered in burns. COVERED. Huge blisters, some third degree patches of white/black skin (when the blisters burn off, that's 3rd degree burns), and some pretty horrific screaming. As if I didn't have an anxiety disorder BEFORE....
Poor babykins. Her mom dove in after her, and was burned pretty badly, also. I was present when she phoned HER mom to tell her the news, and was 1000 degrees and shades of grateful for my own mom, so good and calm and dependable in an emergency--the last thing you need to do when your baby is burned is take care of your MOM as she freaks out on the phone.
Thanks, mom. You're not ALWAYS calm cool and collected, but in emergencies, you are. You missed your calling as a paramedic. And you missed my appendicitis when I was 15. Oh, yes, I did just go there. [she thought I had the flu. Oops, I ALMOST DIED. Well, okay maybe not quite, but I did need surgery!].

I called Dr W, Matthew's urologist, back. We went to see him 4 months ago and he gave us a method to use to override Matthew's learned ignoring of the pressure release pants wetting. He said it should be gone in 3 months. Well, Matthew now floods his pants with pee instead of pressure releasing, going through 3 to 6 pairs of underwear/pants a day, and has started pooping his pants now, too. Wow. I could teach a university level class on How To Fail As A Parent. Have a six year old who pisses and shits his pants. Dr. W. was initially surprised that Matthew DOESN'T have poop accidents, because they commonly go together (and a high fibre diet and some timed toilet breaks are the gist of tackling the pooping problem). Well lo and behold, after 4 years of pooping on the toilet, we now have a poop soiling problem. Just when you thought it couldn't get worse.
My best friend is convinced Matthew has an actual physical bladder problem that hasn't been discovered yet, and I am inclined to agree. But what about the pooping? It's like the child hunts for ways to make himself difficult to love. SIX. He's nearly SIX. This isn't a once biweekly problem here. This is 3 to 6 times a day of pee, and once a day of POOP. (language warning) *holy FUCK, who CHOOSES to SHIT their PANTS at SIX YEARS OLD?!?!?!*

Obviously I have damaged my child beyond repair (and oh, Stu, how nice to see you again I thought you were banished to the deepest dregs of hell and damnation, but here you go crawling up my poor son's toileting issues and CRAP ALL OVER ME!!!!! How hard it is to not feel angry guilt when your kid just can't. go. on. the. toilet.)
Matthew is SMART and gregarious and funny and outgoing and charismatic. People are drawn to him. His two biggest strengths are his social magnetism and his physical capabilities, especially climbing, swimming, and gymnastics. But peeing his pants in grade one will socially cancel out all his magnetism and brand him for life. I lose my breath every time I think about it (I try not to think about it, but it's only five weeks away). I don't want my kid to hurt, I don't want him to be teased, I don't want him to be outcast, I don't want him to be labelled, I don't want teachers and other adults to consider him less intelligent or capable than he is, I don't want my kid to be SAD!

Bwaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh.

Also, I read this book last week:


It was incredibly interesting (until the chapter after the epilogue, which is a right wing fundamentalist Christian manifesto that made me cringe). This woman lived in Gorky, which is Nizhni Novgorod, where I was an exchange student in Russian for two semesters during University. I studied the American Village (and visited it), the establishment of a Ford Automobile Factory in the 1930s, and the eventual purging and almost universal execution of those Americans remaining in Gorky during the Stalin purges. This woman arrived in Gorky as a child of a Ford employee, and grew up under Stalin and wound up in a death camp. Her description of the Gulags is very graphic. And her survival miraculous. I am not sure this book would have held quite the grip on me that it did if I didn't have intimate knowledge of the geography of Nizhni Novgorod and Russian history and culture. But at any rate, it gripped me strongly. I finished it in the wee hours of my fourth night reading it (a reflection of its grip on me, not the speed with which it reads). For a book set in Russia, it is very readable and positive. Probably because it's written by an American instead of a Russian!
I give it a 6.5/10, and especially recommend it to anyone interested in Russia.

I'm going to go curl up in front of the t.v. now and watch a movie, and try to ignore this nagging nausea that started with my 6 hour car/ferry/car trip today. Thanks, Rice Peanut. You just want to make sure I don't forget you exist, right? You are the youngest and quietest, after all. Don't worry, I'll never forget you're there.

xo

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Delicious


I've also figured out two of my most persistent cravings in this pregnancy. Pregnancy cravings shouldn't be called 'cravings.' They should be called 'Food that consumes a woman's every thought and core essence to her very DNA until she can eat it, at which time it subsides slightly.'

Pregnancy cravings are also V.E.R.Y. specific. Mine are, anyways. My two persistent cravings are Lay's Salt and Vinegar potato chips, and egg salad. EGG freaking SALAD, people!!! What am I, eighty??? Egg salad is old people food! I've always liked egg salad, but here I am daydreaming about it as if it were pure unadulterated chocolate or something.

Egg salad....yummy....

Thanks to this pumpkin:







Isn't it amazing what happens in just 8 short weeks? 6 really, because the first 2 weeks are the time between your last period and your next ovulation, so you're not actually pregnant. But that peanut looks like a person! Well, more so than the 5 week one, which looks like a small crustacean with a blood blister attached to its stomach (the heart, which beats at just 5 weeks!).
I had a few of you ask questions, which I will try to remember...
Brent got to tell the boys this time, because I got to tell them when I was pregnant with Riley. Matthew said, "Oh!" and looked at my stomach kind of curiously, and then went on playing with his toys. Ayden wasn't sure whether or not to believe us. "Really?" he said, not wanting to get too excited if it was just a joke, "Are you serious?" "Are you really serious, or are you joking?" "Really for real?" And when we convinced him really for real, he was star struck. Oh my goodness, this child is in love with babies. He kept laying his head on my stomach and getting this dreamy look in his eyes. SO CUTE. A little nerve wracking, in case I had a miscarriage or something--he would be DEVASTATED. Holy jeepers does that kid love babies. He's reeeeeeally hoping for a sister.

Which leads me to the next question asked of Rachel, will we find out if this baby is a boy or a girl before it's born this time? And the answer is no. This time, I have less invested in whether it's a boy or a girl, so I won't be disappointed if it's born and it's a boy. I was worried I might be, last time [and honestly, I might have been], and I didn't want to mar the moment of his birth with disappointed feelings. This time, I don't care as much. A girl would be GREAT! And a boy would be NICE! So. Plus, I think this time around I will refuse a routine ultrasound, based on the minimal amount of helpful information this could grant me. Almost all conditions that I was worried about last time would have other symptoms (ie, placenta previa or accretia were the big ones for me, because I am a VBAC so the risks of those conditions were/are higher for me--less so statistically the more VBACs I have), and most other conditions with the baby detectable by ultrasound would not affect how we choose to go about life and/or birth. So, nothing but surprises come February (my EDD is early March: I'm shooting for February ;)

So far this pregnancy, I feel better than during either of my last two pregnancies. Which is SUCH a blessing, especially after the 14 weeks of gross taste-bile-every-waking-second nausea I had with Riley. And some puking. Including on my BIRTHDAY. I will milk that until the day I die. YOU MADE ME PUKE ON MY BIRTHDAY!!! AND YOU DARE GIVE ME ATTITUDE!!!

:D

I have had one friend who squealed, "That means it's a GIRL!" but I don't think so. I think it's because I'm healthier now--especially in the B vitamin category, and I know B vitamins are sometimes used in the treatment of hyperemesis gravida (too much puking leading to too much weight loss during pregnancy). And I'm not working ridiculous amounts of hours and single parenting two preschoolers while my hubby is away playing at police boot camp. Ha ha. Plus, this time around my blood sugar feels way more stable (my glucometer isn't working so I don't know for sure, but I feel NO blood sugar crashes and I have had NO spider nightmares which were so frequent and linked to low blood sugar during my last 2 pregnancies), which I attribute to a high protein diet and cinnamon and chromium supplements. Awesome! Maybe I can avoid GD and have a small baby!

I also have way more energy this time around. LOVIN' IT!!! However, the whole motion sickness thing is really cramping my style.

I'm trying to really savour this pregnancy. It will be my last one.
xo, Rice Peanut. Kisses from momma.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Gross

I've figured out what food is repulsive to me this pregnancy.

Fish.

gag. Even the word makes me sworl around with vomit up to my eyeballs....

GROSS.

I discovered this because Riley ate a fish oil capsule and now every time he comes near me it's like cuddling day old fish skins. BLECH!!!!

Normally I love fish.
GAG!!!!

Why Free Range Makes Sense

A really good explanation why Free Range parenting is so important to me!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

SUCCESS!!!!

(this is obviously not me!! But isn't she gorgeous?!)


I have run into a bump in the road in my hunt for a midwife for this pregnancy. Both of my previous midwives moved far away shortly after Riley was born. We keep in touch, but they are too far to provide pre/during/post natal care this time around. So sad! It would be incredible to enter a midwife-client relationship already established, knowing each other and trusting each other. So great. Anyways, that's not an option.

I have been so frustrated but trying to remain peaceful and open and trusting God about the fact that I am having a very difficult time finding a midwife in my area who will attend a homebirth for a VBAC. I'm a 'proven' VBAC, which means I've successfully delivered a baby vaginally since my cesarean, but most midwives in this area consider VBAC home birth not safe enough to feel comfortable attending them at home.
The BC College of Midwives states clearly that VBAC homebirth (also called HBAC in the natural childbirth community) is within the midwifery scope of practice, provided there has been only one previous cesarean, there has been 24 months between pregnancies, and the woman is a good candidate for homebirth otherwise (healthy, low risk, uncomplicated pregnancy). But can I find a midwife who will catch my baby at home? NO! So frustrating. If obstetricians refuse to provide women with services which are stated to be within their governing body's scope of practice, we natural childbirth advocates get all angry and up in arms--how can you take away womens' choices! How can you refuse to do something that women have a right to access? How can you not TRUST BIRTH?!?!
And here are midwives in my province, doing the very same thing.

I had some reluctant agreements from two practices to attend an HBAC for me. But I wasn't satisfied with reluctant agreements. I want a midwife who (a) respects and upholds my right to bodily integrity and choice in all manner of prenatal care and birth choices, and (b) is excited and 100% supportive of my choice to birth at home.

[disclaimer: if home birth seems wild and woolly to you: rest assured, I'll cover safety and reasons for making such a choice in future posts!! Right now I need to get this off my chest!]

Yesterday my mom relayed a message for me from one of my former midwives, Jeanette. She said that I should call back an HBAC friendly midwife I had already called and been turned down as a client because her practice is too full, and use Jeanette's name as a referral. A friend of mine who is a naturpathic and former midwife client of this midwife ALSO referred me at an appointment today, and I came home to a message from Cathy's office that SHE WILL TAKE ME ON AS A CLIENT!!! Hooray!!!!
Home water birth where I catch my very own baby and then crawl into my very own bed, unencumbered, undisturbed, peaceful, and surrounded by family--HERE WE COME!!!!

:DDDDD

OVERJOYED!!!!!

I have an appointment at 9 a.m. Monday morning. I'll keep you posted!!!

Work stories--warning

First, before some stories, I have to do some (minor) complaining...
I am SO TIRED! I worked a night shift last night and I have to tell you, this third pregnancy is by far the most challenging as far as work is concerned. My ambulance station is far, far busier than it was when I transferred there three years ago. The community is growing, and the calls are becoming far more frequent. Three years ago, it would have been exceedingly unusual to have less than 4 hours of sleep on a night shift. Four hours is golden. A person can function quite normally the next day on 4 hours sleep, and switch back to sleeping at night in one 24 hour period. Working once a week, night shifts were my preferred, because my kids were sleeping anyways, so all I sacrificed was a little sleep, and I got to work and earn a bit of money, get out of the routine around the house a bit, and not feel guilty that I was away from my kids. Win-win-win.

Now, our nights are so busy it is unusual to even be at the station for an hour total the entire shift!! Let alone asleep. I'm getting too old for these types of shenanigans. Especially because I just go sleep deprived, since I only do one shift at a time most weeks. So I get up early with the kids, do my thing all day, go to work all night, and (if I'm lucky and B isn't working the next day) sleep the next day.

This is horrific at 32 years old with three kids and minimal extra energy on hand. Add pregnancy? Last night, I thought I might die. The longer I go without sleep, the more naseous I feel. I came very, very close to puking last night. Or this morning, I guess. Early this morning! Also, my 'morning sickness' this time around really only happens when I'm in a moving vehicle. Dudes. I WORK in a moving vehicle. So: motion + baby Rice Grain + sleep deprivation = the mommy equivalent to to Chinese Water Torture. For 12 hours.
Wow.
I'm very glad to be pregnant. I'm very happy! But I could do without the night shifts! It doesn't help that I'm so very, very done with my career as a paramedic. My plan now is to work until my maternity leave starts, go on leave, and then just not go back. I'll stick to the doula work and crochet toys, and hang out with my kids. I'll apply for midwifery school as I go along, and see what happens.

Last night I had a patient who had some serious mental health issues. In talking about her medical history she let us know that a few years ago she was rescued from being held captive by a man in his underground cellar for two and a half YEARS. I'm sorry. Who WOULDN'T have serious mental health issues after an experience like that? The world is SCREWED UP! Free Range Parenting be damned. Lock up your children, people.
[I'm obviously joking, but this type of scenario does make one revisit one's life philosophies]
And she was abducted as an adult, by someone she knew. [the most common scenario]

I have also had a patient before who took his girlfriend on a trip and killed her with a rock and buried her in the forest after repeatedly abusing her for a week. He was on trial, and the court called an ambulance because he had a severe anxiety attack in the courtroom.

I've had a gajillion run of the mill, drug addicted/homeless/poor/petty crime patients over the last 8 years. Some pretty bad parenting and coping mechanisms with kids involved.

Baisically, that woman is still living in that cellar, inside her mind. And it's hardly worth living. She won't go to counselling. She trusts no one. She lives in fear (he's out of jail).

I also spent an hour watching and participating while three of my coworkers patiently repositioned, medicated, repositioned, moved pillows, raised and lowered the bed, and talked quietly with a woman who is dying painfully. It takes my breath away to watch the kind of pain that is, damn you universe, so often wrapped up in a person's last hours, weeks, months, sometimes years. And the tireless loving care of spouses, children, siblings, and good friends day after endless, hopeless day that so often accompanies those last hours, weeks, years. And the patient, attentive actions of three of my coworkers who could easily have bustled in and bustled out, choosing not to engage, not to stay in a hot little house with a woman in pain and a man in distress, reassuring and repositioning for over an hour. There are a great many people out there who need our help, and last night especially. The shit was hitting the proverbial fan, people who were on death's door were waiting for ambulances coming from afar, the truly sick blending with the truly well and the truly crazy on a warm night in July, and we were sweating and sad in the presence of such deep, hopeless pain.
Some days, I have deep respect for the people I work with. Some guys have been around for decades and have checked out. Other guys have been around for decades, and still have time for some empathy for an old woman and her husband who don't really need an ambulance, but could sure use some company. It's the latter type I respect.

And then there are women in captivity.

Enough is enough. This job is eating my soul.

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Camping on Pender Island

Tomorrow morning we're off to go camping on Pender Island! This will be a first venture to a campground other than our annual family tradition at Otter Lake...we shall see how it measures up! =) We are also going to Otter Lake in August. Here are some pics of Pender that I stole from the internet somewhere:




We're pumped. Brent's working tonight until 2, and then coming home to throw the last few items in the (borrowed) truck, get a few hours of sleep, and get on the road bright and early tomorrow. The younger two are asleep, exhausted from a day of fun, and Ayden is barely containing his excitement over camping in his bed. I can almost feel the floor vibrating from here....
Ayden is a troubled sleeper. He has a terrible time falling asleep, and always has. Once he is asleep, he sleeps like the DEAD--very deeply, just like his dad. But getting to sleep is a chore and a half, and always, always a battle. He doesn't battle us, and we don't much mind how late he stays up within reason, as long as he is in his bed, in his bedroom, not bothering anyone. He recently moved into the playroom into our extra toddler bed, so that he could have some more space and privacy and can play, read, and move around without worrying about waking anyone else up! So for the first time in years, we are using the third bedroom in our house!
Anyways, anytime something exciting is anticipated, Ayden can't sleep for a week beforehand. Tonight is driving him nuts! And ME!! I'm trying to pack (can't you tell?), and he's up and down the stairs, asking questions, telling me he can't sleep, and wanting to know how many more hours until we leave.
Gah! Cute, but annoying.

Riley has had a bad case of croup since we got back from The Vag. His cousin had it while we were there, and he caught it and it was pretty bad on Wednesday. I took him to the doctor because LO AND BEHOLD, one of my children was sick with croup ON A WEEKDAY!!! This never happens. Ayden had croup three times, Matthew twice, and Riley now three times. All other times, we wound up in the hospital for nebulizer treatments, because they always get sick at night or on the weekend, but this time it was on a WEDNESDAY MORNING!!!! I clapped with glee, despite the fact that my baby was sick with an illness that makes it nearly impossible to breathe!
=P
Anyways, the doctor didn't do any nebulizer treatments on him, but took the watchful waiting approach. Which I prefer, but it has been tough to watch Riley tough it out, and to be up with him all. night. long. "Muk, muk, muk!" but then he goes to breastfeed and his snotty nose and narrowed airways clog him up, so he just pops off and cries. Then, a few seconds later, "Muk, muk, muk!" Then he coughs: BARK, BARK, BARK, waaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!

Yesterday was the worst day, today he was doing a bit better. At one point yesterday evening his fever was 39.7! His body doesn't respond well to Ibuprofin, but fever control is better when you can alternate between the two....anyways, we were stuck with tylenol and it was only barely doing its job last night. Of course, it was 34 degrees outside last night, so really, not that odd to have a baby whose armpit temp is only six degrees higher...
So. freaking. hot.
Thursday night the older two slept at their grandma's place for fun, and I called in sick to work so I could stay home with Riley, and we slept on mattresses in the livingroom. Actually, although I put mattresses, but we wound up sleeping on mattreSS. Riley on 7/8ths of a twin mattress, and me on the final sliver. That was a restless night.

All that to preface the fact that TODAY Riley was on the mend--not well, but slightly better than yesterday, so we went to the water park. I was in a STATE of mind as we were getting ready to go: this was my first time back to a water park since my horrible confrontation episode with that other mom who accused me of being Matthew's foster mom and neglecting him for walking 50 feet away from him at the water park...
I had not really thought about it since, but in retrospect I have been avoiding the water park since then. The park we went to today was a different one from the one with The Incident, but I still have this heavy sense of being watched by other parents, and judged, and found lacking. The anticipation was killing me. Once we got there it wasn't as bad as anticipated--it never is! But it was still tough. I had to keep talking to myself about my parenting and how I am a good parent and I'm thoughtful about the distance between me and my kids, and how other people's opinions are simply their opinions and not the final word.
I braved it, though. And at one point, sitting on a grassy hill in the sun, watching my three gorgeous kids run around and make friends and play with other kids, in the water with the sun shining on them, I felt supremely satisfied. I'm happy! I thought, I'm happy, I'm happy, I am so happy. This is great. I'm actually very grateful that I had such bad post partum anxiety after Riley was born, because it made me get treatment, which changed my day to day life so much for the positive. I never realized how much time I spent worrying and being anxious before I had Riley, and since I had him I have been much more stable and calm and able to keep my thoughts and emotions in check. I've noticed how often I have a day where numerous things go wrong or are difficult or change my plans, and I'm so much more easy going about it now. Whereas before I would store it up and mull over it and spew it out all humerous and LOOK AT THE DAY I HAD!!!! on this blog, now I hardly even notice. I don't live so much in anticipation of negative events anymore. I just live in the present moment, which gives me the freedom to cope with a negative, or difficult, or different than planned event, and then move on.
What a blessing that difficult journey was. I'm so grateful! It's not that I don't have tough days anymore--au contraire! But I cope better, and am calmer and happier overall.

Especially in the sun at the water park. It's amazing that my older kids are now old enough for me to say, "Go play!" and turn them loose, and I can trust that they will stay within a reasonable range of me (most of the time), that they will treat other kids with appropriate kindness, and that they will entertain themselves. And THEN, as a BONUS, Ayden loves to bring Riley along to play, and Riley adores both of his big brothers, so HE is entertained! I sat on a blanket and crocheted a spider this afternoon at the water park, while my three kids played. Wow. The freedom is boundless.
It's kind of humerous that I find sitting at a kid's park supervising my kids from fifty feet of distance to be boundless freedom, isn't it....???

Now to get the baby-the-size-of-a-grain-of-rice to be out and running around, then I'll be quadruple boundlessly free
=)
Ayden calls the baby Pumpkin Seed. Very cute. I call it the Rice Baby. Brent is ecstatic, Matthew barely cares, and Riley doesn't believe me. Every time I tell him there's a baby in my tummy he shakes his head and says, "No!" And every time I mention that he will have to share his milkies with the baby, he thinks I'm telling a joke. He dimples and shakes his head, "Noooooo!"
I can't blame him, we tease him by playing that game all the time, "Do you want to share some milkies with daddy? Ayden? Matthew? Paige? Simon?" He thinks it's hilarious.
He's in for a shock, sometime around February/March!

I should get back to packing for this camping trip...
Adios! See you Thursday!!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Pet Peeve

Our neighbours are mostly young families, and some retired couples. But one new-this-winter neighbour two doors down from us (connected to our building) drives me BATTY. He's in his twenties, single, has two roomates and a live in girlfriend, grows pot in his crawlspace, and has parties every weekend. Girls leave their townhouse doing the walk of shame every Saturday and Sunday morning. The music is loud. They don't fit with the rest of the neighbourhood. But the absolute worst thing? WORST THING? They SMOKE. Their friends SMOKE. Their parties are full of bloody SMOKERS. They smoke cigarettes, cigars, and pot. The most frequent thing they smoke is pot. This IS B.C. after all, I guess. But FUCK! I hate pot. I HATE IT. I hate its existence, I hate its smell, I hate the complacent, pot-is-harmless, pot-is-funny, pot-does-no-harm attitude of almost every resident of this province. I hate it the most when thick clouds of pot smoke fill my children's bedroom at night, for hours on end, when it's too hot to keep the windows closed.

Seethe.
Seethe.
Burn.

Letting the chickens out of the cage, just a bit...

Good article on the Free Range Kids website--it articulates so well what I often think about kids and safety (and makes some good points about the elderly, too)

Breastfeeding Carnival!

I had wanted to write an entry for this carnival SO MUCH! But I missed the deadline, what with all the goings on around here lately...

So, maybe next year if there is another breastfeeding carnival!! Instead, I will link the Carnival of Nursing in Public here, for your enjoyment! Pace yourself, there are a great number of entries--I have been reading them one or two at a time, they are definitely worth the time investment:

Art by Erika Hastings at http://mudspice.wordpress.com/

(click on the image to visit the carnival)

p.s. if I have time later, I'll write a post that I would have liked to have included in the carnival!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Back from Vagina

Yes, in Canada we have a city that rhymes with vagina. And nobody has ever thought this was strange enough to actually CHANGE. Like when you meet a guy named Richard, and he ACTUALLY GOES by the nickname Dick. Excuse me? You need to put a stop to that. Or a woman with the last name Dyke who doesn't change her name when she gets married. THIS WAS YOUR ONE OPPORTUNITY!! I'd be inclined to change it. There's nothing wrong with dykes. You know me well enough to know that. I'm talking about NAMES that make everyone shiver inside when they hear them, and feel grateful for their own boring Smiths and Joneses.

My apologies to all the dicks and dykes.

So, we have this city called Regina, which is where we went this weekend with all of Brent's immediate family (12) and Brent's brother's parents in law. Wow, that was a mouthful! So, fourteen of us were in Regina on the weekend. Now, amongst friends Regina is often referred to as "The Vag" but Matthew has trouble remembering it as anything but Vagina. He'll loudly declare Vagina to be a windy city. He told me on a crowded airplane, "Mommy, Vagina is really far away from Langley, right?" And later, waving out the window, "Goodbye, Vagina!!!"

Sometimes I think I should have a bajillion more kids, just for the entertainment factor! And then I remember KIDS ON A PLANE. Kill me now.

We had fun. There was an open house at the RCMP training depot to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the RCMP. Very cool! Tons of awesome stuff. We hung out at the park, took a tour of the parlaiment buildings, wandered around the lake, went to the movies, hung out with family, went for ice cream (Matthew was banned from ice cream that night for leaving a pile of chicken in the corner of the tile bathroom floor during dinner and then pretending he had eaten it....that burned....hopefully he remembers THAT lesson and never lies again for the whole rest of his life), and enjoyed balmy weather! The last time we went to The Vag it was -46 degrees and blowing wind at 50 kph. This was an improvement.

It's great to be back!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

While folding laundry...

I'm on a roll tonight. Three posts! And I should be sleeping.

Tonight while folding laundry I watched a show I had PVRd a long time ago from TLC about a family who had a four year old daughter and newborn quintuplets (it followed them for a year, finishing with the quints' first birthday party). Wow, that show made my household seem tame. That takes some doing!!! We literally fear for our light fixtures on the ground floor sometimes, because the vibrations on the ceiling from the boys' jumping around are so strong. But in this house, for an entire year, someone was crying 24 hours a day. 7 days a week. 52 weeks a year. Holy crikey!

It was emotional to watch, because they had been caught by the recession after the mom got pregnant with the quints, and financially they were tanked, emotionally they were done, and physically they were doing the impossible, daily. The show flashed those statistics sentences every once in awhile, and one said, "In the first year of the babies' lives, the ---- family income dropped by $90,000, and their expenses increased by $60,000." This family was spending over $5,000 a month on formula and diapers alone. I kept thinking, if you bought yourself some cloth diapers, and even partially breastfed those babies, you'd save yourself thousands upon thousands upon thousands of dollars!!!
Yes, it would be taxing to breastfeed FIVE BABIES! But their life is no more taxing now, with babies sick and then sick and then sick again, huge pitchers of formula to mix and prepare numerous times a day, mix, feed, clean, sanitize, mix, feed, clean, sanitize, TIMES ELEVENTYBILLION!! If you could trade mix, feed, clean, sanitize x 5 for open bra, aim, feed x 5, you'd save yourself some energy as well as money, man. Fo sho.
Can you imagine how much food you'd have to eat to breastfeed FIVE BABIES?
If you cloth diapered five babies you would have to wash diapers every day. But they would all fit in the same load, so you wouldn't be doing that much more work. And you'd save a ton of money. Only one more load per day, so not a ton extra laundry soap...
Just sayin'...

I have to go to bed now. This is ridiculous. But first, my friend Louise took some awesome photos of my latest amigurumi animals!! We're going to trade services: she takes pics for me, I knit/crochet props for her. This is the best kind of business transaction!!! I gave away the amigurumi princess to the little girl who requested her from me last year, and I gave her brother a frog and her little sister a whale. They all three LOVE them. So great! Here are some of those gorgeous photogs (which I intend to use on my new website, if I can ever settle on a freaking NAME for my business...I'm down to 2 names...can't decide...can't decide!!!!