I generally find it in my best interest not to get involved in the "social media controversies" that seem to be more and more prevalent these days. But, boy oh boy was the Internet blowing up today over this one.
I have seen a lot of people who have always been openly against the church taking the opportunity to shout from the rooftops what hypocrites we are. That, I'm used to. What really surprised me is the amount of members who seem to be struggling with this news. To that, I say: search, ponder, and pray. One of the things I love most about this gospel is that we are not taught to just blindly follow. It's ok to have doubts and questions: find out the answers. And especially, wait for the church's official statement, which is undoubtedly coming. Don't trust news sources to tell you what you believe.
But for me, I have to say this didn't come as any surprise. It has never been a secret that the church does not support gay marriage. That has been a struggle for many, especially in the past few years. But for the members who, only months ago, changed their temple profile pictures to be rainbows, I ask: did you really not see this coming?
All the people who shouted that gay marriage should be legalized are now saying, "but the children should not be held responsible for their parents choices!" Isn't that the point? Isn't that what we were fighting to protect them from in the first place?
The repercussions of gay marriage reach far beyond just supporting or not supporting two people in their love lives. Children become involved, and it is my belief that "Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ." (The Family Proclamation) To those who didn't understand why the church didn't support gay marriage in the first place, this is why. Because of the far reaching affects.
But, it's done. It's legal, and this is where we are today.
But as a member of the church, I am still not surprised about the recent announcement. Why?
Because my dad doesn't agree with the teachings of the church, and knowing that I was interested, he asked me to wait until I was 18 before getting baptized. So, I did. Simple as that. Because I love and respect him. Even if I had decided to secretly join the church behind his back, they wouldn't have let me. This policy isn't new, it's just a hot topic today because of where we are in the world. And I agree with it and support it wholeheartedly.
It is not about exclusion. As always, even when it's something we didn't agree with in the first place, it's about the family. It's about avoiding putting the children at odds with the parents. 
This doctrine is hard. How can we ask children to go to church, make covenants and learn doctrine, and then go home and hear the opposite? Does it really seem prudent to teach an 8 year old that we believe their parents marriage is wrong?
In my mind, it makes perfect sense that those children should not have to bear that burden so young. They are still welcome in church. They are even welcome to be baptized under the right circumstances. But if you are a member, don't let this shake your faith. And if you aren't, I say what I have been hearing for years now: it doesn't affect you. Move on. 

Your Inactive Neighbor

It's been awhile since I've written anything! I feel like my mind these days is a big jumble of, "When did I feed Dayen last?" "Is he ready for a nap?" and "Oh good, this shirt made it five whole minutes spit-up free!"
But this is something that has been on my mind a lot lately. Last month I gave a talk in church about how we need to treat each other better and be more welcoming, and this sort of goes hand in hand with that. It always has something to do with how we treat each other. But I want to talk more about church activity.
The thing is, we know our church isn't easy. I certainly didn't join the church because it was the simplest church out there with the shortest meetings. Our faith requires a lot of us. It's all worth it, but it's difficult, and sometimes nearly impossible, to do all that is asked of us.
About a year ago our wards had just split and I had a new calling in the Young Womens. I was also in my first trimester of pregnancy and I was sick all the time. We had 9:00 church and when I think back on those early meetings, my stomach still turns. It was rough. I missed a lot, I called substitutes a lot, I went to five minutes of class before rushing home a lot. I always felt bad, like everyone secretly thought I was trying to get away with doing as little amount of work as possible.
Since then, I've noticed there isn't a lot of forgiveness or understanding for inactivity in the church.
Now, I get it. We all have our agency. Ultimately, the choice to come or not come to church is up to you.
But in my experience, it is almost never a simple, black and white decision to just suddenly stop coming. It is usually complicated and personal. Because let's just say it: it is HARD sometimes. Sometimes the difficulties seem to outweigh the good that comes from it. Sometimes you work late on Saturdays and can't imagine dragging yourself out of bed for early church. Sometimes we get offended or upset. For me, the struggle lately has been having a 4 month old at church. He won't nap anywhere but in his own bed, and he still eats often enough that it's impossible not to have to feed him at some point during that 3 hour block. Sometimes dragging him to church feels like unnecessary torture for everyone involved.
It is not up to anyone in my ward to save me from jumping off that cliff, from saying to heck with it, I am never going back. BUT, sometimes it feels like all it would take is one tiny nudge to send me flying over the edge.
So what about those people in your ward who are in that position? Those who rarely come to church, or who used to, but haven't been back in years?
We focus so much on bringing in new converts, but what about the lost sheep who have fallen away?
I know it's not always in our power to do anything. But I can say that what makes a huge difference to me is knowing that I am missed. So try that. We don't have to hound them every second, but wouldn't you be more excited about going to church on Sunday if you knew you'd have someone to sit by? Wouldn't you feel more apt to go if you knew that certain sister in the ward was going to text you afterwards if you didn't show, just to see if you are ok?
I can promise you that whatever their reason is for not coming, whether it seems legitimate to you or not, they do have one. There is not a Sunday that goes by that they don't think about where they know they should be that day. Most of them long to go back, and tell themselves one day they will.
And isn't that really what it means to go and be the Lord's missionaries? Here in Utah, at least? Here, where just about everyone has heard of the church? Here, where Satan picks at our weaknesses little by little until he can break us?
It is hard. It is so hard sometimes to drag myself and my family out the door to make it to church. But it is always, always worth it. This gospel means so much to me, and to many who are in it. So rather than judging those who no longer come to church, why not find out why they stopped in the first place? Why not be the helping hand that guides them back? Imagine the blessings for everyone involved if we could all do that.

Oh, Instagram

I have been hesitating writing about this for a long time, because frankly, it just seemed kind of silly. It all started a few months ago, when I deleted my Instagram account. I found out you actually had to get online to delete the account for good, so I did. Within minutes, I had people texting me asking why I had deleted it.

I was pretty surprised that, given my small number of followers, anyone could notice that quickly. Since then, I've had numerous people ask me why I would delete it. I always give some brief answer about how I was concerned with the safety of it, or how I was just sick of it.
I deleted Candy Crush because I was sick of it- deleting Instagram was about a lot more than just getting rid of some overused app.

I really think social media started off as a good thing, and it has it's fine points. But Instagram has very little that is good about it, and I finally realized what a poison that silly little app was becoming in my life. Because Instagram breeds a vicious cycle escapism, deception, and comparison.
Escapism: A funny thing happens when you start to really get into Instagram. You stop living in the moment, and you start looking for that perfect moment to capture and then post. It may seem extreme to those who haven't been sucked into it, but for those who have, really think about it: when is the last time you got all dressed up and did something fun, and didn't take a picture of it? Deep down, we all know that we take those pictures for a reason, usually with someone specific in mind. We want a certain friend to know we were with a certain other friend. We want estranged friends to know that we don't just sit at home on Friday nights. We want exes to see how beautiful and wanted we are by everyone. 181 likes? That was a successful night.
For me, it was a little more mellow. Pictures of my dog, my nanny job, my house. But I still felt that strange, overpowering urge to post those pictures, to show the world what I'm doing and how great my life is.
That's not so bad, right?
DeceptionInstagram offers filters to easily fix up any photo to look it's best. I rarely see a photo posted that hasn't at least had a filter applied, if not fixed up even more on another app. Because everyone on Instagram is living their life behind a filter. It's obvious, and even though we realize how fake our own pictures generally are, we somehow can't see it in others. Especially when we follow celebrities, or local celebrities, or that pretty girl from High School that is living the life we always dreamed of.
Which brings us to another problem: FOMO. (Yeah, I'm hip. I know all the new words.) For those who don't FOMO means the Fear of Missing Out. Because at any given moment in our lives, we can pick up our phones and within seconds see a hundred pictures of people doing fun things, looking hot, and all without you. Of course we're going to feel like we're always missing out on something. You are always missing out on something. But now, Instagram gives you a perfect portal to see exactly what those somethings are.
I remember a few years back when a few girls I knew had actually paid for followers. Does that not strike anyone else as scary? This fake popularity meant so much to them, they were literally willing to pay for it. How is that not a wake up call?
Comparison: And herein lies the problem. I can't tell you how many times I've heard girls say, "I keep seeing girls on Instagram who..." Fill in the blank. Have nice cars. Have perfect marriages. Have beautiful, well-behaved children. Go on expensive vacations. Have cuter clothes than me.
Think about it. That picture you're looking at is probably one of at least 10 attempts to get the perfect picture. It's been edited, filters added, and a cute, clever caption thought up. It is a fake moment meant to look completely perfect. But do we compare it to our pictures? No. We compare it to our worst moments. We look at how her hair is perfect, and then realize we haven't even showered today. We sit there on our phones, covered in spit up with a crying baby bouncing on your lap, looking at pictures of that one girl's adorable children all grinning in their Easter-best.
Instagram has this awful way of making us always want what we don't have. You might get married someday, but your husband won't leave you a note like her husband did last week. You might go on a big, expensive vacaction, but eventually those photos will run out and you'll have to resort back to photos of your normal, everyday life. Let's be honest: No one is going to post pictures of their sink full of dishes, the fender bender they got into, or a close up of the zit they woke up to this morning. (And if they did, they'd be unfollowed faster than you can say your username.)
I'm not worried about the safety of Instagram nearly as much as I am worried about the aspect of comparison it presents in our lives. It's natural to compare your life to others. It's easy to want more. But what about not appreciating what you have, because you're too busy wanting what some strange, lying stranger on Insta has?
This is where I realized it isn't "silly" anymore. I have actually seen these things spiral out of control and end in divorce. I've seen friendships fall apart. And all over a silly app.
How have we let this happen?
And why do we defend it so strongly? I am not suggesting that everyone follows in my footsteps and deletes their accounts, but I do think we all need to take a step back and think about it. How often do you check Instagram every day? How often do you post? What is really bringing you back so much? What are you looking for? And do you really, honestly, think you will find it there?
For me, I realized that every time I opened that app I would put away my phone with a weird emptiness. I would look around with new eyes that only saw the flaws in myself, in my life. 
If nothing else, now I get to enjoy moments as I live them, without worrying about how many likes this moment is worth.

The Mom Hat

I will be the first to admit that I think I was a little cocky going into this motherhood thing. After all, I've been babysitting since I was 9. I've been a nanny for 6 different families, and I worked in 2 daycare centers. When it came to kids, I felt pretty confident that I knew what I was doing. And because of that, before Dayen was even born, I had decided the holiest law you should live by when having kids: Your spouse should always be more important to you than your child. I still believe it. It's just that, before having kids, I never could have realized it would be this hard to live by.

Caleb and I have been married two and a half years now, and I can still say with confidence that we could get through anything together. He's the best friend I've ever had, and I am amazed every day at how selfless and kind he is. Throughout my whole pregnancy, he was so patient with me. He ignored every hormonal outburst and pretended my constant tears were totally normal and OK. He listened to me endlessly talk about labor and babies, and watched me slowly transition from his wife, to the mother of his son.
I know it wasn't easy for him to take a backseat through the whole rough 9 months of pregnancy, but if he didn't feel like a priority then, it only got worse once Dayen was born. I still believe you should put your spouse first. I know how important it is. I am so grateful for everything Caleb does. But my biology is against us. I am programmed to focus on and care for my child. I thought I knew what to expect, but I had no idea.
I had no idea that you could love someone like this. I didn't know I would miss him when he was in the other room, or feel like I was missing a limb every time someone else was holding him. I didn't realize that, far from driving me crazy as I expected, his cries would actually change me physiologically, to the point that my heart races and I can't focus on anything but him until he stops. 
I had no idea that the first time he smiled, really smiled, not just because of gas, would instantly become one of the happiest moments of my life. I didn't know this tiny person could have such a hold on my heart. I didn't realize I'd become the mom who winced when someone sneezed near him.
I knew I would love him, and I knew I would want to take care of him. But I didn't realize that I'd be so willing to throw away myself, to give up everything that makes me me, to be his mother. I guess I should have, but I didn't realize that becoming a mother would be, for me at least, the most important thing I could ever do. Maybe I'm supposed to be more feminist than that, maybe I should pretend that I resent that he changed me and I can't wait to focus on myself again. But I see now that this is the highest calling I could recieve. Every day I wake up so grateful to have this little one, even if I do wake up to loud wails of hunger.

But where does that leave us? How am I supposed to put my marriage before my child, when I feel so strongly the need to take care of him? How do I go back to worrying about Caleb's needs, when Dayen can't take care of himself?
I won't pretend I've figured it out yet. I know that Caleb still feels neglected, although he handles it like a Boss. I do know that it is impossible to look at that sweet baby, who looks exactly like a clone of his Dad, and not love Caleb even more. It's impossible not to fall more in love with him every time he changes a dirty diaper, or feeds him a bottle, or talks to him in a baby voice that I never thought I would hear come out of his mouth. Realizing that there is another person on earth who loves Dayen as much as I do just makes me feel closer to my husband than ever.

 I know that I have to fight my very nature to be able to remove the Mom Hat for awhile, and try my hardest to focus on being a wife again. I think it's important to be said, because so many marriages end after having kids, because it's so easy to let your kids become your whole world and completely forget about your spouse. 
But it is important. It's important to remember that before you were a mom, you were a wife. Being a mother is so special and important and amazing, but so is being his wife. So remember that before you were needed for feedings every few hours, before your mad diaper changing skills made the record books, before you were the most important and needed person in that baby's eyes, you were important to him. You still are. So don't let yourselves forget to show him that he is important too.

Dayen's Birth Story

Trigger warning: if you'd rather not read about things like my cervical dilation, this is the post to skip.
Another thing: It's very long. Because it was a really long labor. So if you get tired of reading it, just imagine being me and living it.
As most of you knew because of my loud complaining, I was due May 9th. I had foolishly expected him to come early, so for about a month I thought I was in labor every single day. It was pretty tiring.
Then on Tuesday night (10 days past my due date, mind you) I had just taken a Unisom and laid down in bed when I had a contraction. I had been having strong Braxton Hicks for weeks, but this one was like someone was stabbing me at the same time. I remember laying there with my eyes wide open thinking WHY did I just take a sleeping pill??? before finally deciding if this was really labor it was going to be awhile, so I might as well try to get some sleep.
I slept restlessly for a few hours and woke up again at 3:00 with my fist jammed into my back because it hurt so bad. It jolted me awake to remember I had fallen asleep thinking I was in labor, and I realized this was definitely it.
Most first time moms would probably be scared at this point, but I was so eager to be done being pregnant that waking up to strong contractions was like waking up on Christmas morning. It was going to be a good day.
So I went and took a bath, then laid on the couch for a few hours so I wouldn't wake up Caleb. I texted my cousin who miraculously happened to be awake, and she kept me sane for awhile while I waited for them to get stronger. I kept battling if I should wake up Caleb or not- they were getting bad enough that I wanted his support (or maybe just sympathy?) but I also had a feeling we were in for a long day, and I wanted him to get as much sleep as he could. I finally snuck in our room to get my robe and he woke up and knew something was up.
I don't remember much else about the rest of the morning except for texting my midwife to let her know what was happening, and her telling me to let her know when I was ready to come in.
At this point you have to know what I was planning on for this birth. I had done a lot of research and decided I really wanted to go unmedicated. I had been practicing hypnobirthing, and I felt really confident that I could do it. I also tried to keep an open mind in case things didn't go according to plan. (Spoiler alert: thank goodness for that.)
So I wanted to labor at home as long as possible. The dream was that I'd walk into the hospital at 10 centimeters, push for a minute or two, and voila I'm a mom. The problem was, my contractions weren't getting any more consistent. They'd be 2 minutes apart, then 8, then 4, then 6. I started to worry that this could go on for days.
It all would have been much more bearable if not for the back labor. I had known for a few weeks that Dayen was posterior (meaning he was face up) and my midwife warned me that could mean I'd have a lot more back labor. She worded it nicely, but I later googled it (because Google knows as much as doctors) and found out that the pain scale goes: 1- Regular Contractions 2- Pitocin Contractions 3- Back Labor. But I still wasn't prepared for how bad it could hurt. I don't really know the dynamics of what was actually going on in there, but I imagine with every contraction, his head was being rammed into my spine. The contractions themselves were painful, but the back labor felt like I was being shot every time.
Caleb and I finally decided we would start slowly packing things up, and head to the hospital in a few hours. I was still afraid I'd either be sent away for not really being in labor, or they'd somehow pin me down and force pitocin in my veins to get the baby here quicker, so my midwife suggested I just come to her office to be checked first.
By the time we left our house, I was really glad we weren't waiting any longer. On the way there I took out my chapstick and then had a contraction, so during the whole contraction I just clicked the lid of the chapstick on and off until it was over. It was a weirdly nice distraction, so I just kept it in my hand for awhile, waiting for the next contractions.
We got to the office around 4:00, and by then I was really struggling to hold still on the table. My midwife showed Caleb how they could push on my knees during contractions and it would relieve a lot of the pressure. It honestly made them feel a thousand times better, I could have hugged her. (Sidenote: I loved my midwife, Annie. She is one of those people who was born to do the job they're doing. Without her and Caleb this would have been a totally different birth for me!) She told me I was already 4 centimeters dilated, and my water bag was bulging, so this was definitely it! She said I could head straight to the hospital, go home and labor there until things progressed further, or even go walk around Wal Mart and see if we could get things going. The contractions were already so strong at this point that the last thing I wanted to do was get back in the car and drive home to Tremonton, and walking around Wal Mart with the idea that my water could break at any second didn't sound too appealing, so we decided to head to the hospital.
We checked in and I had to be on the bed strapped to the monitors for awhile, and I kept thinking I am so glad I'm going natural! It was so hard to sit there and hold still while you're having contractions. 
At some point Annie came in and she lets you labor in the tub, so I decided to try that. I should mention that this whole time I was having contractions 1-2 minutes apart, and for every single contraction Caleb pushed on my knees like Annie showed him. I was so grateful for that! He even sat at the side of the tub and did it every time he saw I was having another one.
When I got out Annie suggested I sit on my knees on the bed and lay on the birthing ball to try to get the baby to turn the right way. For some reason this position made the contractions hurt so much but once you start having one you are not moving until it's over. Then she suggested this technique she had learned where you put like a big cloth around your belly and they shake it back and forth to get the baby to flip. Dayen must have heard them and decided he didn't want to be shaken like that, because suddenly he flipped on his own! The labor was more intense, but so much less painful after that!
At some point she suggested we break my water. I was planning on not having my water broken, but when she said it usually speeds up labor by about an hour I was on board! I was at 6 cm, and immediately after she broke my water I was at 7. I started getting really excited because everything I had read said the worst part of labor is transition, which is when you dilate from 7-10 cm. Things were definitely getting intense, but I felt in control. This makes me sound like a crazy hippie, but I felt like the contractions would hit you like waves, and you could either get on top of them and ride them to the end, or you could let them crash over you and drown you. There were a couple contractions I let drown me, and once they were over I realized that panicking and getting upset only made them worse.
So for the next two hours or so (I was in kind of a weird time warp and I don't really know how long things were taking at this point) I felt like I was doing great. I remember at one point asking Annie, "I'ts too late to get an epidural now, right?" not because I wanted one, but because I wanted to know that I had already done it and there was no turning back. She said, "I'm going to say yes..." but I could tell the option was still there if I wanted it. But I didn't! I was doing great. I was tackling every contraction, and I was actually getting really excited that my baby was so close. They were the strongest contractions ever, so I kept thinking, This is it! He's almost here! I even started feeling like I wanted to push a little, so Annie checked me and that's when things turned around. I was still only 7 cm, and the baby had turned posterior again. 
It was a huge blow to my psyche. I suddenly realized that this could go on for hours, and although I was handling it well now, I couldn't keep having contractions like this forever. She tried to turn him and it hurt a lot, and I kept crying. (I was really afraid I'd be one of those girls who is mean and yells at everyone during labor. Turns out I'm a crier.) After awhile I asked what we could do for the pain besides an epidural. They gave me some drug in my IV that didn't seem to help the pain, but made me feel really loopy and out of it. I asked Annie if an epidural would be smart at this point. She nicely asked me why I didn't want one in the first place. and I laughed and said I couldn't remember anymore. Then I had a really bad contraction and during it I said, "Ok I want the epidural!" For some reason I kept thinking Caleb would be disappointed in me, but he later told me that he had felt like the epidural was the right decision at that time. 
I finally got it around 9:00 pm, and I was proud of myself for making it so long without it. It helped immensely, but one of the hardest parts of the whole day was sitting still, crouched over with a needle in my back during a 7 cm contraction. That wasn't fun! 
It was amazing how fast things changed once I got the epidural. Obviously I could no longer take a bath, sit on the birthing ball, or get up and move around. But suddenly I was connected to all these wires and tubes, and I couldn't even move in the bed without two nurses lifting me. That was when I thought, "Oh yeah. This was why I didn't want the epidural."
But thank goodness I got it, because Annie had to turn my stubborn little child two more times, and I won't go into detail about how she turned him, but let's just say that would not have been comfortable if I hadn't been numb from the waist down.
After that things were back and forth for awhile. His heart rate kept dropping, and they thought it might be that the cord was constricted somewhere. So they hooked me up to fluids that would go right into my womb and hopefully help the cord float and not be constricted. I thought that was kind of silly since we had broken my water.
Then they hooked me up to Pitocin to get me to dilate, but he didn't respond well to that. The epidural started to wear off my left side because I was laying on my right, so they tried to turn me and he didn't respond well to that either. For not even being born yet, he was kind of being a diva. 
Annie had told us both to take a nap, but it was impossible with all those wires and tubes connected to me, the stupid blood pressure cuff cutting off my circulation every ten seconds, and the contractions starting to come back on just the left side of my body. Not to mention a nurse would run in with a worried look on her face every few minutes to watch his heart rate.
At one point I heard a nurse come in and throw Caleb some scrubs, and told him to put them on in case they had to wheel me to the OR in an emergency. That made me so mad, because they hadn't even discussed that possibility with me. I felt like I was being kept in the dark about what was really going on with me and my baby.
When Annie came back she assured me that we were still far away from considering a csection, and we just had to wait to see if I'd dilate on my own. Finally, the next time she checked me, I was 10 cm and it was time to push!
Now in every birth story I've read, this is the beginning of the end. It seems like everyone says they pushed three times and there they were! So before we started I asked Annie about how long this would actually take. She told me most first time moms push for about an hour. I looked at the clock, and it was midnight. So I told myself ok, you're tired, but you can push for one hour and then your baby will be here.
The problem is, it's really hard to push when you can't feel the lower half of your body. It took several pushes to figure out what I was doing, and even then I was really distracted by how much it hurt my ribs to crunch up like that. Dayen had been in my ribs for months, to the point that I was actually bruised, but this was the worst. It felt like every time I pushed, I was mere seconds away from them all snapping like dominoes.
They didn't.
After maybe half an hour, they brought in a mirror so I could see what was going on. When I was pushing, you could see the top of his head. But after several strong pushes, I realized he wasn't budging. I closed my eyes through a few, and every time I looked again I could tell I wasn't making any progress. I kept seeing Annie and the nurses watch his heart rate on the monitors, and I was getting worried I couldn't do it. Through each contraction they'd tell me to push harder and longer, but by the end I was still in the same place. I started getting frustrated and saying, "It's not working! What am I doing wrong?"
After an hour, I started getting really exhausted. I had been awake and in labor for almost 24 hours now. My body was exhausted, and my mind couldn't handle much more. I had been putting the oxygen mask on between pushes, but I got so tired I couldn't even reach over to grab it. Caleb started putting it on for me, and through a few pushes I stared at him and tried to just focus on him. That helped a lot, because I felt like no one was listening to me that I couldn't do it, and I knew Caleb would understand somehow.
Finally I just lost it. I was so out of it, and I honestly had no idea it was possible to be that tired. I kept falling asleep and having weird dreams, then waking up and realizing where I was. I remember falling asleep once and thinking, "Ok, I did my part. It's Annie's job now. She'll figure it out."
They ended up calling Dr. Ferguson to use the forceps. He told me I was only about 20 minutes away from him coming out on his own, but he might as well have said I'd have to push that way for two years. I just didn't have it in me anymore. I figured he would try the forceps, then end up having to do a csection, and by this point I was completely fine with that.
I remember Annie telling me there would be a guy standing in the corner just in case, and I think she called him a resuscitator, although The Resuscitator sounds like some weird hospital superhero. I think she was trying to keep me informed so I wouldn't be afraid, but I was so out of it that the entire cast of How I Met Your Mother could have been standing in the room and I wouldn't have cared. 
So Dr. Ferguson got his giant salad tongs and got to work. I could feel a lot of weird pressure, and I remember thinking this would hurt without an epidural. I just laid there and thought Good Luck, Doc. This kid isn't going anywhere, trust me, I've tried. It took awhile to get the forceps in the right place, and then they told me, "Ok, next contraction we need you to push again!" I almost started crying. Actually I probably did cry. But I figured ok, just humor them, they'll see that it's not going to work.
So I pushed, and there was this huge suction (strangest feeling ever) and apparently his head came out. I still had no idea what was going on. Annie rushed over and unwound the cord from his neck (courtesy of all the gymnastics he'd been doing in there for months) and then I pushed again and out came the shoulders. I would have had no clue what was going on had it not been for Caleb saying, "Oh...oh, wow." next to me. They sat my big, cone-headed baby on my chest for a minute and let Caleb cut the cord. He was all purple and I could tell he had been through as much of an ordeal as I had.
So The Resuscitator did his work, which seemed to be a lot of slapping and rolling my baby around to get him to cry and breathe. 
Everyone kept saying what a big baby he was, but it wasn't until we weighed him a few hours later and realized he was 9 lbs 6 oz that I realized exactly why the labor had been so hard! At about 35 weeks Annie guessed he'd be a small baby, maybe 6 lbs. On Monday at my appointment, she had guessed a solid 7 and a half. But none of us expected him to be that big! I don't know where he was hiding in there, but it made me feel a lot more justified in how miserable I had been those last couple weeks. 
My labor was nothing like I had planned, but I'm still so glad I was informed and there was really nothing that shocked me. That whole first day I kept thinking, "I better enjoy this, because there is no way I'm ever going through that again. He will have to be an only child." But by the next morning, I was already thinking, "I could do that again..." Because as hard as it was, he has been so worth it! I'm so proud to be his mom.

The Waiting Game

Something I have learned about myself recently is that I like to be in control. Not necessarily in an I-have-to-be-the-boss, leader of the pack kind of way. Just that when I find myself in situations where I have no control, I start to go a little crazy.
Usually, when I feel like something is out of my control, I start to clean. When I'm frustrated with something, when I feel like my patience is running thin,  I do the dishes. Then I vacuum, reorganize some closets, and maybe scrub the baseboards. (Although that last one has been solved due to the fact I can no longer lean over.) There are a million things going on around me that I have no control over, but I can make sure there are no dirty dishes in the sink, and you better bet I do.
Which brings us to my current conundrum: my very large, very overdue, making-me-very-uncomfortable, unborn child.
In the last month, I can't count the number of times I thought I was in labor. It's scary, exciting, then scary some more. And then nothing happens. I can sniff essential oils, eat spicy food, and bounce on my yoga ball until the cows come home, but this baby is not coming out.
The other day, after a long sleepless night that ended in (surprise) no baby, I sort of lost it. I suddenly noticed the overgrown grass in the backyard, and I'm sure my eye started doing that creepy twitch reminiscent of the insane, and suddenly I could think of nothing else besides getting that lawn mowed.
Of course, Caleb was willing to do it. Because what man is going to make his 40+ week pregnant wife go mow the lawn? But I was adamant. I begged, I pleaded, I bargained. I had to mow the lawn, or I was going to lose my mind. Cue another eye twitch. Mowing is just walking behind a lawnmower, and walking is good for you. I need the fresh air. What's the worst that could happen, it would put me into labor? HA!
I think I made a pretty convincing argument until I won, then had to ask Caleb to tie my shoes for me.
But anyway.
I can't tell you how great I thought I was out there mowing the lawn like some sort of superhero. I bet I'm the only pregnant woman ever who has mowed the lawn. With each blade of grass that had to bow to my whims, I felt more and more victorious. I distinctly remember thinking, "Yeah, we'll see if you make a fool out of me, labor!" I think I thought if I just pretended I wasn't pregnant, then maybe it wouldn't be so hard to deal with the fact that I'M STILL PREGNANT.
There also may have been a brief moment of true insanity where I walked through a swarm of bees and, rather than running for my life in what would be typical-Anndee fashion, I thought, "I wonder if bee stings could induce labor...?"
Turns out mowing actually is a little more than just "walking behind the mower", especially when it's been raining for weeks and the grass had started to resemble a small, overgrown jungle. Every few steps, the mower would clog and stop and I'd have to pull-start it again. During one of these silent lulls, I heard my neighbor frantically shouting my name from her backyard. "Do you need some help?" she asked in what I'm sure was a nice way. I told her no, I was fine, then almost burst into an explanation about how Caleb was inside (probably watching me through a window, waiting for me to pass out or drop dead or just have the baby right there in the back yard) and how I was insisting on mowing the lawn, this wasn't some desperate plea for help, and how I wasn't a control freak or anything, the yard wasn't really a top priority right now, and that this small act of mowing the lawn was making me feel pretty awesome and strong and that I was only clinging to my last shred of sanity.
But I didn't say any of that, because the whole neighborhood would have heard and probably come over to start weeding or something, and I might have to save those weeds to make it through this next week.
Then I looked over to the other side and saw the little neighbor boy watching me through the fence. Just before the lawnmower roared back to life, I heard him yell to his grandma, "That girl? She pregnant...and she doin stuff!"
That's right little boy. I might have a possibly-15 pound baby strapped to my stomach 24/7, but I'm doin stuff!!! (Eye twitch.)
The point of this story is not to get anyone's sympathy or words of encouragement. I tell you this because, for some reason, going past my due date is the one thing I truly was not prepared for. I read every baby book I could get my hands on. I can tell you anything you want to know about labor, or the 9 months leading up to it. I can tell you what to do about morning sickness, or insomnia, what you should and shouldn't eat and what wives tales will help you induce labor. (Or the fact that none of them actually work.) But I had no idea what to do when I hit and then passed my due date, and just kept sailing along. I wasn't expecting it to be such an emotional blow. I figured I could keep smiling, keep waiting, because all babies are born eventually, right? (RIGHT? I'm really asking.) and I am in the home stretch. It's almost over.
But in the mean time, I wake up every morning and think, "You are SERIOUSLY still in there???" As much as I wish I could do something, anything about it, it's out of my control. As silly as it sounds, I have to trust my baby that he will get here when he's ready. I think the problem is that he is already just like his dad... mellow, easygoing, and he will get here when he wants to. My only hope at this point is that someday I will have a daughter as high strung as me, and you can bet she will be here ON TIME.

The Worst Part of Pregnancy

I woke up one morning about 5:30 to the wonderful sound of our husky throwing up in his kennel. This is a fairly frequent occurrence around our house, but no matter how many times it happens, I will never wake up joyfully to that sound. It just can't be done.
So I dragged myself out of bed, let him outside, and carried the kennel and base out front to spray off with the hose. The entire time I was seething: it was cold and windy, and the water from the hose kept catching in the wind and coming back to spray me. It smelled. Actually, it smelled a lot. Then, I went back inside and noticed there was throw up on the wall. (I'm sorry if this is too much information, but I need you to understand my pain.) So I got a sponge and some bleach and got to scrubbing, trying to tell myself I'd still be able to fall back asleep for awhile before I had to get ready for work.
Finally it was done. The living room was noticably vomit-free, Dega was happily recovering, and all I had to do was wash my hands and go back to bed. I was holding it together pretty well, until it happened: I opened the drawer in the bathroom to grab a washcloth, reached in without thinking, and touched a spider. Not just any spider, the Spider King. He made those spiders from Harry Potter look like babies. (Actually, no. I don't want to talk about those. *shiver*)
I lost it. I started sobbing uncontrollably. I tried to kill it, but he hid in the corner like the highly intellectually evolved creature that he is, and I couldn't get him. I just cried harder. I remember thinking, "Well, this is a slight overreaction." but I didn't care. After a minute Caleb woke up, patted me awkwardly, and killed the spider with ease. Once he had calmed me down, he went back to bed, and I went to the store to buy a pregnancy test. And that's how this little guy came crashing into our lives.
My point being, from then on out, pregnancy has not been my friend. I learned early on that there's no such thing as "the glow". It also doesn't matter how badly you wanted a baby, or how prepared you thought you were: you are not going to enjoy morning sickness. And you're going to have a hard time being grateful for any pregnancy woes, no matter how much you love the little stranger.
I won't lie to you, this pregnancy has been anything but easy. I went from wanting a big family, to thinking, "Maybe just one kid wouldn't be so bad..." But the hardest part of pregnancy, for me, hasn't been sharing my body with this little baby. It's been sharing my body with the rest of the world.
You see, this strange phenomenon happens when you become pregnant, where suddenly you aren't your own person anymore. Everyone touches your stomach, all out rubs your stomach, or stares awkwardly at your stomach like they can't imagine what you could be hiding in there. Suddenly, you are a vessel for this child that they are all eager to meet, and the fact that your stomach is still your stomach does not occur to them.
And forget about having any privacy. Suddenly, the changes your body is going through are public information. Stretch marks? Diarrhea? Constipation? They need to hear it all. But that doesn't stop them from cringing when you actually tell them.
My favorite so far has been the unwanted opinions on baby names. Here's the thing: of course I have been thinking about baby names. I've been thinking about baby names since I was a kid. I've had names I like picked out for years. It would be impossible to wake up every morning to this kid's foot lodged in my ribs and not think about what his name is going to be. I've watched him grow on ultrasounds. I've played him music, talked to him, and felt him kick like he's a soccer star. How could I not think about his name?
That being said, what makes everyone think they get an opinion? To the few people who knew some of the names I liked way before I got pregnant, I heard a lot of negative remarks. I like different, unique names. You don't need to recommend the name Matthew to me because, believe it or not, I've heard it before.
Caleb and I decided early on not to announce our baby's name once we decided, because I knew all it would take is a few weird looks, a few negative comments, and I would let them change my mind. I made the mistake of letting a few people get it out of me, and I can tell you that with the next baby, I am not saying ONE WORD.
(On that note, we really don't know for sure what his name will be yet. We've got a few choices, and one in particular that we are leaning towards, but we are waiting to meet him first to see if it fits. So don't worry. The day will come when you will all know, I promise.)
Until then, I just have one request: no more comments on how I "just keep getting bigger." No telling me to sleep now while I still can, because trust me, I'm trying my best. No horror stories about your own births, or the birth of a friend of a friend of a friend. I know it takes it a village, and I'm grateful for all the people who already love this little boy.
But for now, I am going to cry when a spider touches me, so it might be best if you don't touch me either. 

In the name of Progress

In High School, I took 3 years of Photography classes. I spent countless hours learning how ISO affects aperture, what things like "shutter speed" and "f-stop" meant. I loved it, but I still ended up taking pictures that were due for assignments the night before. I turned in several pictures of random things from my room I had thrown together to look artistic. Oh, and I still shot on Auto and thought my teachers wouldn't notice.
I certainly didn't see a difference.
I bought my first DSLR in 2009 and was introduced to the wonderful world of Photoshop... via Picnik. For those of you who weren't a teenage girl in 2009, let me tell you about Picnik. It was a very simple online photo editor, that included tools to help you whiten teeth, smooth skin, even tan yourself. It was heaven-sent. At first my friends and I took pictures of each other and enjoyed editing ourselves into perfection. Then, I went rogue and started taking pictures for other people. I even had the gall to charge them for it!
Let me pause for a minute here and just say I very strongly believe we (in the Photography community) have to be careful about Photographer-shaming. At the time, I remember thinking I was great. I was loving the pictures that I was cranking out, and honestly didn't see much of a difference between the pictures I was taking, and the pictures people were paying hundreds for. At the same time, there were photographers who were much more advanced than me who let me know that my work was no good. I brushed it off as "differences in artistic taste" and went on with my total massacre of the entire photography profession.
Actually, that's a little harsh, and completely the opposite of the point I'm trying to make. But just so you can understand, let's take a little walk through time here and see what I'm talking about...
This one has a cute background, but the subjects are so dark you can barely see their faces! Did I care? No. I probably made them look more tan, because I'm such a nice photographer.

Ah, my beloved zoom effect. I used this a LOT. It's making me a little motion sick now.

My poor, beautiful friend who I offered a free photoshoot to because I was so proud of my skills. And what do I do to her? I whiten her teeth until they can blind you from a mile away. But it's not obvious, right?

I can't figure out what I was thinking in this one. He dropped the flower on the ground, so I use it as the focal point of the picture? And I used selective coloring (well, the Picnik version of selective coloring, which clearly leaves a "cloud" around the object)... I might as well have taken these at the train tracks and called it a day. (As a side note, their other location was, in fact, at the train tracks. So I rest my case.)

It pains me to look at them now, but at the time I was so sure of my skills, I knew I'd go far in this business.
And you know what? I'm glad. I'm glad that I was naive enough to push through those tough times. I'm glad that I had enough faith in my skills to keep going. I'm glad I ignored those who did see my flaws, and kept pressing forward. If I hadn't, I never would have progressed past the point of shooting on Auto and completely ignoring lighting.
I heard an awesome quote a few months ago that of course I can't find now, but it said something along the lines of "Every artist has that point where they know what they are creating is not as good as what is in their head. They don't have the skills or experience to create what they so badly want. But that is when you keep trying, keep growing, keep learning, until you can reach that point."
Somewhere along the line, I did start to grow. It was gradual at first, then started exploding. I learned that shooting on Auto is never our friend, and that lighting will make or break your session. I learned what poses I like, what locations are best, and I finally understood what my poor photography teachers were trying to teach me about ISO and aperture.
The problem is, I didn't realize how far I'd come. I still let myself feel down about my Photography sometime, because I still have such a long way to go. 
Here is my point (finally): We all have the potential in us to do whatever we want to do. So whatever you are doing, do your best at it. Work at it every day. Be proud of it. Someday, you will look back and think, "Wow. My first draft was awful." And then you will finally appreciate where you are.


Today, my news feed was blowing up with the latest hot topic, the biggest problem attacking our country today, the number one concern on everyone's mind... leggings.
I hope you'll allow me to get on my highly hormonal-induced soap box for just a second, because reading what people wrote today, I wanted to cry. And ok, a lot makes me cry these days, but this probably wasn't for the reason that you think.
I have already written about modesty before (Here) so at the risk of sounding redundant, I just think I should make it clear what side I am on here. I dress modestly. I am an endowed member of the church, and happily so. I respect my husband more than anyone else on earth, and would never want to make anyone uncomfortable.
But really? Is our biggest concern really leggings?
Let me back up a little. Because a few months ago, as you all well know, I found out I was pregnant. It didn't take long for jeans, even my biggest jeans, to get just insanely uncomfortable. I am always uncomfortable pregnant. Somehow I wake up in my nice cozy bed in the morning and feel like I spent the night sleeping on cinderblocks. 
Then one day, a few months in, I discovered leggings. I was walking through Kohls when I noticed a mysterious light shining a few racks over. I walked slowly toward the ethereal glow and began to hear the distant sounds of angels singing. There they were: cheap, thick, and with a beautiful, forgiving elastic waistband. I tried them on and am not ashamed to say my eyes filled with tears. Oh, sweet comfort! Maybe this pregnancy wouldn't be so bad after all.
There was a definite change in my mood after leggings came into my life. I was a nicer person. My husband and dog stopped looking scared when I entered the room. And there were more benefits to leggings than just my comfort: they tucked easily into boots, they matched just about everything, and a catchy song would start playing whenever I entered a room. I finally had my own theme song!
Ok, it was mostly about my comfort. But is that so wrong?
But in the back of my mind, I always had that concern when I wore them: are people going to look at me weird? Will they think I'm being immodest?
And here's the crazy thing: I didn't think I was dressing immodest. They cover my garments, they are a thicker material, and I only wore longer shirts with them. I felt comfortable, that is until I got strange stares from anyone else.
I got a calling in the Young Women a few months ago, and I have been surprised to find that one of my biggest challenges isn't getting the girls to come to church, or the way they dress or behave. It's getting them to feel welcome at church, and to treat others in a way that makes them feel welcome. Which brings me to, what I feel, is the actual issue involving leggings: does it really matter? 
I apologize that I have to be vague with this example, but I had an experience a few years back where a sweet young girl was asked to cover up because she wasn't dressed appropriately. This girl wasn't a member of the church, but was at a church activity and the straps of her dress walked a thin line between tank top and short sleeve. Apparently, she was making the other girls feel uncomfortable.
And here's the thing: I get it. She was informed beforehand what the dress code was. She made the choice to wear something that she knew she might have to change out of. But the look on her face for the rest of the night broke my heart. All I could think was, was it really worth it? 
And that brings us back to leggings. I know that, for some reason, they are controversial. I can't tell you how many times I've heard the words "Leggings aren't pants." But I don't feel that they are immodest. I don't feel that any girl who wears leggings is lazy, or begging for attention. I don't feel that they are a threat to our national security. And I certainly don't think they are worth making someone feel out of place or unwelcome.
Yes, as members of the LDS church we believe in dressing modestly. But we also believe in treating others with kindness, and I would much rather someone showed up to church in leggings than didn't show up at all.
I think we all need to stop judging each other, and stop worrying so much about whether or not they are dressed to the absolute highest standard of modesty one can obtain. We are all trying our hardest. And for what it's worth, I bought my first pair of maternity jeans today, and once again the heavens opened up and the angels sang and I teared up from comfort. So if nothing else, we can all rest easy knowing I am one less troubled soul stuffed into a pair of Satan's leggings.