Tuesday, June 4, 2013

All boy, revisited.

Donovan:  "Mommy, your hair is too long.  It is long like sisters' hair.  You should cut it."
Me:  "I've been thinking about getting a hair cut.  How short would you like it?"
Donovan:  "It should be shorter."
Me:  "But what should it look like?  Should it go down to my shoulders, or my chin or my ears, or should it be short like Daddy's?"
Donovan:  "No, it should be short like mine, but shorter."  (This is basically a shaved head.)

Donovan:  "When I am a grown-up, I want somebody to grow in my belly."  I didn't have the heart to tell him he can't.  Since I have committed to honesty with my children, I couldn't think of anything to say at all.  I sat silently, touched that he values motherhood, feeling for him a bit heartbroken over the absence of that opportunity.

I love that he is the age that most children are becoming rigid in their expectations of gender roles, and he still doesn't care at all.  I've known so many four year olds who think anyone with short hair is a boy and anyone with long hair is a girl, and yet he wants me to cut all my hair off.  He still wears pink sparkly sunglasses with his Superman shirt, wants to be a mommy when he grows up (a mommy who works in a stereotypically male career as a police officer, recently changed from fire fighter), and practices his "karate" kicks with his painted toenails.

I know that society will eventually teach him everything it expects of him as a boy and future man - both good and bad.  I hope he will only internalize those expectations that are the right fit for him and help him grow.  I hope he will feel a small sting of disappointment when he does eventually learn that he can't be pregnant, and I hope he will admit it freely to other men and to women.  I hope he will take the space I have given him to be his own person and fill it up with the humanity I know is within him and the values I try to teach him.  I hope he will fill himself with integrity, courage, compassion, and respect, and shine that light out into the world, teaching other men that it's okay to be themselves, and teaching them to respect women and to respect men who don't fit our society's narrow constraints on acceptable masculinity.

It's not too much to hope for, and it's not too much to fight for, either.  May I raise him so that his strong, loving, and open-minded soul grows and blossoms.

Two links before I go:
1. Patrick Stewart shows himself to be this kind of man
2. The original "All boy" post

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Genetics, environment, and cancer

A friend of mine just posted this blog post by Dr. Jane Philpott about cancer prevention via diet, including lots of detailed information about the mechanisms by which cancer develops.  I noticed that although she introduces her topic by discussing Angelina Jolie's decision to get a double mastectomy in response to having a breast cancer gene mutation, she discusses the effect of the environment on non-mutated genes to change them so that they allow or cause the growth of cancer.  Thus, I wrote the following response:

Informative article. Thanks for sharing. This is definitely a big part of why I lead a healthy lifestyle. (My doctors always look at my health history and say, "Your choices are great but your genes are rotten." Yes, I know, thanks.)

People have often argued with me on my healthy lifestyle choices, saying, "but you can't avoid xyz environmental problems so you're never going to win." Air pollution, cross-contamination of even organic food, cell phone networks everywhere, computer use... it goes on, all the things we can *not* control.

I would argue that the fact that they're right - I can't control everything - is more reason I should control what I can. Some people will choose to control what they can by opting for prophylactic mastectomy.

I have seriously considered and continue to consider getting tested. The BRCA gene mutation associated with Jewish women born after 1920 has a high fatality rate. The first Jewish woman born after 1920 in my family = me. The last Jewish woman in my family before me was born in 1906 and the next was born in 2003. I have no basis for comparison, no family history to use to decide whether there might be this gene in my family. My life experience with breast cancer is learning how much it sucks when someone dies too young of it - my two grandmas on my mom's side (both non-Jewish, one related by blood, one by marriage) died at 61 before I was born and at 51 when I was 11.

I understand that I have half the chance of having the Jewish version of the BRCA gene because I'm only half Jewish. I'm still waiting for someone to tell my Tay-Sachs gene about that.

The decision to get tested and to take action if positive also may hinge on this: "Unlike mutations, DNA methylation and histone modifications are reversible." Unlike mutations. So when someone is faced with an actual mutation, what do our food choices do for that? I saw lots of evidence in this article for preventing gene changes away from healthy genes to genes that allow cancer to grow, but not a lot of evidence to support that our choices will help our DNA shift away from inherited harmful mutations. I'd love to see any studies on that.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Disneyland trip, 3 quotes

Kesenia, shrieking on the first drop of a roller-coaster:  "I'm going to regret this!"

Donovan, in line:  "Mommy, can you pick me up?"
Me:  "Not again yet, honey.  Ask Daddy."
Donovan:  "Daddy, can Mommy pick me up?"

Kesenia:  "I was so surprised, it knocked me out of my skin!"
Donovan:  "Now do you have new skin?"

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

LM/CNM considerations, Part 1

Part 1:  Being on-call and the age of the children

In the early days of being a 24/7 professional, and even before then, I made an assumption that as the children aged, being on call would get easier.  The idea was that the intense needs of the toddlers and preschoolers would give way to more independent, self-sufficient children, who could understand what being on call meant, which would lend itself to an easier time with call for everyone.  Experienced doulas and midwives with children assured me that this was true.  The opposite became true for me.

When my children were small, their concept of time was not yet concrete.  The future could not be anticipated, plans could not be pinpointed.  Almost every parent has made the mistake of telling their child something exciting is going to happen in the future - whether Disneyland in a month or a playdate later that day - and regretted the decision throughout the interim.  For the on-call professional, this means that being called away on a moment's notice is not that different in their young child's eyes than leaving for work at 8am five days a week.  On the other hand, school age children tell time and have created inner expectations about the way their days will unfold, which means that these older children will know the routine of a parent's scheduled work, but have to adjust suddenly when a parent is called away.

Additionally - and for me, more importantly - small children do not have scheduled events at which their parent's presence is meaningful to them.  Older kids have school plays, music recitals, field trips, sports tournaments, graduations, and they actually know when their birthdays are, so there's no fudging and moving it a day later when a new baby gets the same birthday.  For professionals that are on-call a couple of days per week, this generally works out:  in this modern era, partnered physicians assist each other in making sure each is there for important events in their family's lives (versus the previous era in which male doctors often missed out but the stay at home mom was there for the child).  Occasionally, they may not be able to manage it, and a parent may have to take call or stay at work and miss the event.  But for professionals that are on call 24/7, this leads to a constant state of limbo.

The following conversation took place several times in the months before I went off call:  "Sorry, honey, I can't drive your field trip.  No, I don't have clinic that day, but if someone goes into labor, I can't abandon you and your classmates 30 miles from your school."  Then, on the day in question, whichever daughter had the field trip would come home after school and say, "Did someone have a baby today?" and I'd say, "Yes," and feel relieved and justified, or I'd say, "No," feeling horribly guilty, just as I had during the hours of the field trip.

So, is this uncertainty a problem or not?  It depends on the mother, and it depends on the child.

Many of the midwives I know who do not have a problem with this have a partner or close family member who has full or nearly full availability for the children.  My husband has some flexibility in his work, but works 60-90 minutes away four days per week.  Our families live just far enough away to not be helpful in this regard, either.  We always had babysitters and friends who helped with the availability for childcare, but this doesn't help with the emotional availability factor - having someone who cherishes the child available for important events.

As a child, there are certain things you want both parents to witness, and sometimes, you really want your mom.  I've always wanted to be there for those times.  I don't care whether I'm the one to drive to soccer practices or wave at the kids as they walk into school in the morning, but I don't want to miss the moments that are important to them.  Shortly after I went off call, Eliana led her school's daily prayer services for the first time.  She was in 3rd grade, eight years old.  In the morning, she asked me, "Mom, are you coming today?"  I said yes.  The best part of my day was saying yes instead of maybe.  Witnessing her lead tefillah was awe-inspiring, knowing that I was there for her was great, but the best part was saying, for the first time in years, "Yes, I will absolutely be there for you."

There is beauty in "No," too.  I'll never be a fully stay at home mom again;  right now I am taking one class, and it's going to become 2-3 classes next year and full time school shortly thereafter, followed by a job that will hopefully strike a balance between meaningful work and a meaningful home life.  So, I don't imagine that I will be there for everything that is important to them.  But I will be there enough.  And I will be able to say yes or no.  This year, the girls have each led tefillah twice.  I missed one time for each of them.  They knew in advance, and they knew in advance that I would be there on the days that I was able to make it, which included Kesenia's first time leading tefillah ever.

As for it depending on the child, I didn't anticipate that my children would be stressed by the on-call lifestyle.  They are very flexible kids - my one blessing in a cluster of challenging temperament issues for one child who shall remain nameless here.  Yet it became clear to me that their stress levels were rising.  We were undergoing a lot of changed mixed up with some serious limbo, so the constant limbo of 24/7 call was a detrimental addition to their lives.  Recognizing this was one of the main points in deciding to take a sabbatical.  Recognizing all of the above was one of the major reasons I started to re-examine the type of midwife I wanted to be on a longer-term basis.

I sat my girls down about a year ago and told them honestly about the two paths I was considering.  At the time, I was very unsure of what I wanted to do.  I didn't include any of my reasons for being interested in home birth or hospital birth, or being a LM versus being a CNM.  I only wanted to talk to them about their lives and our lives together.  I told them that I had two choices.  With one, I would work very few hours on a regular basis, probably one day a week, maybe two, but I would be on call all the time.  With the other, I would have one year of being very unavailable to them (the accelerated BSN year of school - more on that in a future post), and then after that I would work hours that would let me see them more than they see their dad, less than if I did the first choice, but that they would always know when, and that I would be able to say yes instead of maybe - but sometimes no - when they wanted me to make a commitment.  I made it clear that although I was asking their input, it was my decision, and that there was more to my decision than its impact on our time together.  They both wholeheartedly asked me to choose the option with the schedule, even though it meant less time together.

Now, I have doula and midwife friends telling me that they're still too young and that it will still get easier as they age, once they are old enough to be home alone and I don't have to worry about childcare anymore.  I have to disagree.  Teens may be happy to be left alone, but it's not necessarily good for them.  They may also be playing it cool and not necessarily as happy to be independent as they are letting on.  (When my dad came to see my school play when I was 16 - for the first time in 4 years, since he is a musician and had gigs in the evening when my plays were - I was so happy that I cried, but I tried to hide it from him.)  I've also had some mom friends with teens tell me that they feel that teens need their moms even more than school-aged kids.  I think that the reliability that I felt was utterly lacking in 24/7 call is integral to what teens need from at least one of the important adults in their lives, and that reliable adult is going to be me.  In my case, it's true that if it isn't me, it will be nobody, but it's also true that I want to be reliable for them.

I think - I hope - that work with part-time call or no call will help me meet my career goals while meeting my expectations for my relationships with the people I cherish.  I can be the role model for my kids that I hope to be by demonstrating a good work ethic, pursuing my goals and dreams, participating in tikkun olam (repairing the world - by having a job that helps people), and prioritizing the most important people in my life.

Many people will react to this post by wondering why I don't just get a partner LM and go on part-time call as a home birth midwife.  It has been - and continues to be - considered.  Part 2 and beyond will give you some more information on why I lean away from it.  Hang tight, I'll get there.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Random updates and thoughts

Why I haven't blogged in six weeks, short version:  pneumonia and a wisdom tooth extraction.

The bombing in Boston:  one person (possibly a couple) did harm.  Countless people ran toward potential danger to help.  My faith in humanity is intact.

Dove's "Campaign for Real Beauty" and their new video:  I admit fully that revealing that women see themselves more harshly than others see them was thought-provoking and touching;  other than the value of that, the video was a hypocritical money-grab.  Think on these points:  1) The same company owns Axe, whose ads are at best the exact opposite of the campaign and at worst are building rape culture.  2)  The beauty they display doesn't have a whole lot of diversity - all are between size 6 and 10 and their faces fit American standards of beauty.  Not a lot of ethnic diversity in some of the ads, including the recent video.  3)  The beauty they display isn't "real" - these women are for sure airbrushed, and may well have had other photoshopping as well.  Is the standard for "real," then, an average dress size?  4)  They are just trying to make money by telling us "All those other beauty companies think you'll never measure up, but we think you're already beautiful... you just need a tiny bit of extra help from us!"  5) The underlying message is the same as all the rest of the media:  the value of a woman is in her looks.  

Donovan:  "I want to be a hockey player when I grow up!"  Me:  "OK, first you'll need to learn to ice skate."  D:  "Can I hold onto your hand?"  Me:  "They have special things you can hold onto while you skate, or you can hold Daddy's hand, but I don't know how to ice skate yet either."  D:  "That's okay, Mommy, I will hold your hand and teach you."

Kesenia:  "Kesenia's really enjoying learning to play cricket."  Not a sentence I ever expected to hear at a parent-teacher conference, let alone kvell at.

Eliana:  Just walked in the door from a softball game with a bag each of pretzels, animal crackers, and red vines, and a Icee, which she has never had before, and said, before I could even register what she was holding, "I'm sorry." She had to explain all about how it happened.  (No healthy options, Coach bought Icees, not her fault, etc.)  I had to interrupt her to ask how the game went.  "Oh, good!  I got two runs and got the first hit of the game!"  Yet Icee guilt was the leadoff.

Softball:  Scott and I are trading off who goes and who stays home with the other kids.  (Pneumonia and post-anesthesia recovery notwithstanding.)  She has fallen in love with my least favorite sport to watch... but she so obviously enjoys it that it makes the games fun for me.  Next year D will do T-ball, so I will get to watch twice as many games, and if this cricket thing keeps up, I fear it will be three-fold.  I will lose my mind, because at some point, the joy from watching the kids will be swallowed up by the endless watching of a sport I don't like.  And then I'll have massive Mommy Guilt.  I know with the Giants doing so well lately it's sacrilege around here to say that I don't like baseball, but I don't like baseball.  Don't tell Eliana.

School, elementary edition:  My kids have been at this school for a year and a half and I am still amazed by its contribution to their lives.  The teachers really seem to understand them, and they work with them to not only help them excel academically but to help them grow as people.  The culture at the school is warm and positive without coddling.  Teachers have high expectations for each student to do his/her best and make strong progress academically and in life skills;  I have not seen any evidence that any child has been the slightest bit given up on, no matter how challenging behaviorally or "behind" academically.  (If it sounds harsh to say that teachers give up on kids in other places... I can still name children in most of my elementary through high school classes who were very obviously given up on.  The fact that it was obvious to me even as a young child - though I couldn't have verbalized in these terms at the time - makes me incredibly sad as an adult.)  The teachers really care for these kids, and they care for each other.  The children are generally kind to each other, and when problems arise between students, teachers facilitate resolutions in such a way that the kids learn conflict resolution skills and other social skills pertinent to the situation.  (Tact is a frequent flyer.)  From what I have seen and heard, the interactions in the worst relationships between kids at this school are on par with those in normal relationships at Eliana's previous school.  Parent-teacher conferences reinforced everything I see at home about how they've blossomed, and showed me that it is even more true at school.  They are engaged, responsible, and growing.  I am relieved, grateful, and awed.

School, pre-K edition:  I never would have chosen to redshirt E or K, even if their birthdays had been a few months later.  Donovan needs it.  I'm not sure whether he qualifies as technically being redshirted, since the official deadline's September 1 and his birthday is after that, but the school did offer to take him for kindergarten next year, and we declined.  We've also declined to put him in the transitional kindergarten run by the girls' school or have him continue in his current preschool.   The transitional K is meant to be academic preparation for either kindergarten or 1st grade for kids who aren't quite ready, with a teacher who is skilled at understanding and guiding behavior of kids straddling their 5 year birthday.  We decided against this program because we didn't want him to go into 1st grade the following year, and we felt he would be bored in kindergarten after transitional K.  I was also afraid that his attention span wouldn't be ready for the academic portion, even in the capable hands of the experienced teacher, and since it's not truly part of the elementary school (they adopted it when a community center shut down and it is not held on the school campus), it doesn't have the same feel, even though it seemed positive.  His current pre-K has some good things going for it - nice teachers, lots of artwork coming home, good Jewish content, and right next door to the girls' school - but has never felt like exactly the right fit for Donovan.  (Maybe I just miss the girls' preschool.) After considering all these options and then some, we decided to send him to a Reggio-Emilia school, because we feel that it will best encourage his social-emotional growth, which is what the kid needs the most.  Given the culture of the elementary school, it was especially important to us for him to develop his interpersonal skills so that he can more easily benefit from and contribute to that positive environment.  I'm sure that he will do just fine academically in the long run.  Ensuring a smooth transition into elementary school is our main goal.

School, grown-up edition:  Nutrition has turned out to be an excellent class, and I've learned a lot that I didn't learn in the nutrition module of midwifery school.  I had a little bit of semester-systemitis when we got into April, since I am used to the quarter system which would be starting new classes then.  There was about a week of desperation to start a new subject, and now I've settled back in.  So far so good grade-wise.  The fall schedule of classes just came out, and I'm hoping that this time my registration appointment will be sufficiently early so that I can take chemistry, either anatomy or physiology, and a three-unit communications prereq.

There.  Six weeks' worth of random updates and ramblings.  I hope to keep up better and actually offer some well-developed stories and musings in the next posts.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Loss and learning

I dreamt that I was playing the violin.  I was soft, my movements flowed, and my violin and bow felt completely natural in my arms.  The music sounded as beautiful as I ever had the skill to create it.

I awoke, and the realization was instantaneous that this dream, which had felt like home, was only an illusion.  The unearthing of the long-buried grief was just as immediate.  It closed my lungs.

The music sounded more beautiful than I can ever make it again.

I lost violin now half my life ago.  I don't know when I stopped identifying myself as a violinist deep inside, but it's gone.  I still love the instrument.  I still have vivid, full sensory memories of every aspect of it.  I'm amazed, on the rare occasions that I do pick one up, how well I can still remember to hold my body and place my fingers - because in between those occasions, I marvel at the fact that I ever had the abilities that I did, and I don't remember the person that believed she was a violinist with the same intransigent, integrated certainty as being female, daughter, friend, human.  Yet I can wake from a few moments of revisiting that old self and find myself knocked sideways with grief.

Then I think of my self as midwife.  This sabbatical and career shift is different from the end of my violin career in so many ways, the most obvious of which is that I chose to step away from home birth midwifery, and I would have done anything I could have to choose to keep violin.  Still, I grieve it.  I miss it.  I miss witnessing the power of birthing women, just as I missed the power of music.  I miss working with women as they create themselves as mothers for the first time or again and again, just as I missed working as a team to recreate a timeless piece of music.  I miss using my hands to comfort, to assess, to receive babies, just as I missed the physical, proprioceptic quality of playing violin.

I wonder whether I will lose my identity or skills as midwife if I stay away too long.  I wonder whether, if I did, the grief would follow me through my life in the same way as the loss of violin has followed me.  I wonder whether, upon reclaiming midwifery in the hospital setting, I will stop being able to relate to my old home birth midwife identity or continue to grieve my choice.  So I take this dream as a reminder of the opportunities that come with challenges - in this case, the opportunity to look back at the loss of my violinist identity and ensure that I preserve my midwife self, even as I step away temporarily from midwifery, perhaps permanently from home birth midwifery.

When I was forced by my body to quit violin, I rejected music so fully that I cut my connections with the friends I had made in symphony; in my midwifery sabbatical/shift, I am maintaining several relationships with midwife friends and intend to continue to do so.  I stopped listening to classical music for several years, let alone playing it;  I am keeping current on research and attending conferences and workshops on midwifery.  I abandoned playing violin at a much lower level when I was unable to regain my abilities;  I am willing to use my skills in a limited fashion in order to maintain my skills along with the standards I have currently set for my career continuation and my personal life, since fully using my skills at this time would detract from my attention to my career goals and family.

Moreover, I am focused on the fact that I am continuing on my career path as a midwife.  When I had to quit violin, I had hope at first, but gave up completely after relapsing when I tried to play after being released from physical therapy.  With midwifery, I know that I have chosen a sabbatical, and that it is temporary.  I know that I will return to midwifery with all the dedication I had the first time, but with the wisdom I gained from the experience of being wrongly singleminded for so long.  I will return having worked hard to maintain my skills and knowledge.

I am now almost certain that I will return to full-scale midwifery not by using my existing license to run a home birth practice, but rather via nursing school, the MSN in midwifery and women's health, and work as a hospital midwife.  The reasons for this are not the point of this post, but I will talk about them soon.  I wanted to share this now, however, because it is one of the ways that I focus on the fact that I am not moving away from midwifery during this sabbatical, I am moving toward midwifery and toward the initial call I felt to midwifery, which was to work with women choosing hospital birth.  I have learned so much about how to meet the needs of my children along with my need to have a meaningful career, and this newfound knowledge will benefit my future clients/patients (it's going to take me some time to adjust to the P word), employers, and my family.

I don't believe that everything happens for a reason, but I believe that in everything that happens, there is an opportunity to create reason.  Half my life later, I still sometimes feel broken in places by the loss of violin in my life.  I am grateful that I have managed to draw upon the experience for wisdom in navigating the current transition in my life and career.

Friday, January 25, 2013

School update, already.

Nutrition is a good class.  I'm learning despite having studied it before.  I'm looking forward to getting to some more challenging work, though.  Chem should give me a run for my money when it comes around... haven't touched that since high school.

Spanish, on the other hand, I dropped.  The instructor was good, but a few things came up that made me decide to wait.  First, Scott had to miss work two out of my first three days of school, due to sick kids.  For a class that is a requirement, such as nutrition, that's fine, but for a class that is only for my personal development, I'm not okay with impacting him like that.  He's agreed to be the one to stay home for sick kids when I'm in nursing school, so I don't feel comfortable making him miss work so I can take an extracurricular, no matter how important it is to me in the long run.   Second, I realized that I don't see any point in learning Spanish partway but not to a useful level, and I won't have the opportunity to follow up on this semester's class for at least a year, so it doesn't make sense to do this now.  Third, I was quickly reminded that I learned French very easily, and Spanish seems to be following suit, so this route may be unnecessarily long and slow.  Because of all this, I'm looking for an alternative way to learn.  I have my home study program, plus the book from the class that I can't return, but I need a place to speak it.  A community based class would be wonderful - a way for me to learn along with others, but be responsible to myself.  I feel a little disappointed in myself for dropping a class for the first time, but on the other hand, I actually feel like I'm making a bigger commitment to learning by doing so - if I'd stayed in the class, I think it would have ended up just this one class.  Plus, I'm reaffirming the commitment I made to my family when I decided to go (mostly) off call and (mostly) out of school until Donovan goes to school full-time.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

12 hours of motherhood

Interrupted sleep on a small boy's bed.  Coughs, sneezes, and snot in my face.  A sad boy crying for me.  Cuddles and a movie.  "I love you, Mommy," countless times.

I wouldn't trade it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Gems 2011

And the slog through the old Facebook posts continues...


Stoked and motivated to work my tail off for the next 6 months!!! which is a good thing, cuz I'm gonna hafta.
did not expect for tears to come simply by passing the freeway exit to my grandpa's house. Dammit.
Dropped our ketubah off at the framing studio. Think I can get it on the wall before our 10 year anniversary?


I was browsing au pair profiles even though I still think that's an unlikely route for us, and I think very firmly that the au pair company should have given a somewhat Americanized name to the young woman named "Supaporn."

Welcome to the 21st century: My daughters are using their email addresses to send each other messages like "Poooooooooooooooo". Some things change, and some things don't.

Apparently there's an STD nicknamed Donovanosis. Oh great. Well, at least I didn't name my daughters Chlamydia and Gonorrhea.

Today, Eliana told me she didn't want me anymore. I told her to write a letter requesting reassignment, to the woman she wanted to be her mother now. She wrote it to me. Happy Valentine's Day!

There's nothing in this world like motherhood to leave you stripped to your core, raw and aching. Love hurts.


D strips himself naked; Kes picks up her blanket (knit by my grandmother 20 years ago before she died), approaches D: "Are you cold, honey?" Wraps him in the blanket, like wings folding around him, and I think: warm blanket, sister's love, great-grandma's love, truly the wings of the shekhinah.

If I had to pick two words to sum up my last two weeks: bass-ackwards and mind-blowing.

Goodbye Kessa, hello Kesenia!  ("Mom, I like Kesenia best now. Please don't call me Kessa anymore. But it's okay if you forget every once in a while.")

More email updates from the front lines of sisterhood: Kesenia is now tattling on Eliana via emails to me while I'm at work.

I spent about 48 hrs wondering why I hadn't finished my MA and taught anthro instead of pursuing the strange world I've brought around myself. Then today I noticed I was studying pap smears, oncogenic HPV strains, and genital lesions, without having planned to do so, while enjoying my nice lunch salad. I think it's all good again.


K: "Mom, what does fame mean?"

Me: "It's when everyone knows who that person is. Someone's famous when you know who that person is even though you don't know them. Like Lady Gaga and P!nk."
K: "Oh, I get it, I get it. Waitwaitwait... you mean Lady Gaga and Pink are REAL???"

D stumbles into my room half asleep and blinded by my overhead light: "Nene, Mommy?" "Nope, it's sleep time." "Read a book to me, Mommy?" "Nope, it's sleep time." "Sleep to me, Mommy?" Who could resist? Precious fleeting moments feeling him drift off while still clutching me around the neck. My empty nest may be 16 years off, but I can see it.

Eliana, 7: "I don't like Jewish school because of all the stories that I just don't believe in! All that stuff can't have really happened, Mom. It's not real." 

I literally almost fell over, mostly b/c I was laughing so hard at how awesome she is.
10 points if you can guess what I said back.


I think it's a good solid sign you're sleep deprived when you get the urge to do jazz hands because you have gloves on... latex-free non-sterile medical gloves.

"Hello, I will not come out until you let me out today and I mean it. Nowone will see me again until you do it. (exept for special acations of corse) Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. Sorry. I can not say that sentence. The world is selfish and cruel. Goodbye forever until you let me out. PS. Go Away! P.S.S. Let Me Out! Eliana"

D might just win cutest "I love you": "Ah wuh loo."

Eliana's watching The Princess Bride for the first time tonight! A momentous occasion deserving Dad and Mom all to herself, popcorn, M&M's, and a late bedtime.

My dad says, "Why couldn't you have done something easy for a living? Like be a lawyer."

When Eliana was 4 she chased down, picked up, and got bitten by a jumping spider. Precocious D has checked this off his bucket list at 2.5.

I LOVE the body God gave me! Now the body the kids gave me, I'm less enamored with. ;)


Still have no idea why there was a helicopter circling above for over 15 minutes at 1am last night... with no searchlight on or anything. But I do have an update on the situation, via Donovan: "Helicoppy no get us. Wiwwow clode."

My iPhone can fill in "birthiversary" and "birthgivingday" for me, guesses lots of crazy and wrong words after I've input one or two letters, but won't fill in the last two letters of "schedule", "breakfast", or "weekend"! ?

Scott has a coworker named Yoga Kippur. This makes the JewBu in me very happy.

Donovan: "Gitcher own, LaLa. Gitcher own." Once again, hard to feel sorry for Eliana when it comes straight from her own mouth...


Chocolate cupcake with lime frosting. Who knew?

With the glaring exception of homophobia, I am so impressed with the values and priorities of this Mormon community. The rest of the US could use a dose of this sensibility.

Dizzy, temperature sensitive, constant internal monologue, achy, and nauseous. 2 points each = a 10 on my sleep deprivation Apgar scale.

Time has no meaning. I've had three naps in the past 24 hrs. We won't talk about what came before then... I can't remember! Trying now to get a good 6 hour chunk or longer... wish me luck!

OMG, 2 nights of sleep? What kind of parallel universe is this? Ahhhhhh.

It's Saturday, no one's in labor, I don't have clinic, I don't have my kids with me, and my body wakes me up at 6:30???

Dear ginger chews, you are quite hot and spicy enough to keep me awake while driving at 4 am just the way you are.  There is no need to try to go down the wrong pipe.  Please refrain in the future.

Trunky: LDS slang referring to a missionary's homesickness/burnout toward the end of the mission. Applied to me by my supervisor on my last day of my midwifery internship in UT, with the implication that I had earned it.


I just got a FB friend request from Willma Dickfit.

2001: "When Hell freezes over will I pay tuition for my children's elementary education, especially not in a school centered around one religion or culture." 

2011: "Hey Lucifer... it cold down there?"

My husband is at a "work conference." And by that, I mean he's at a Metallica concert.


I sent all the paperwork from my Utah internship to my midwifery school today. The package weighed almost two pounds. It may have looked like paper, on the outside, but once in the envelope I could have sworn the contents were two pounds of my blood, sweat, and tears, and three weeks of my breath.

2 years and 2 days after my first birth with my Nova ladies, I got to catch my 25th baby as official primary under supervision and attend my 74th official birth as a midwifery student. (Unofficially, 27 catches and 88 births as student, and I have no idea how many doula births.) This boggles.

E: "I feel like running away from home."

Me: "Where are you going to go?"
E: "I'll wait on the sidewalk for someone to call the police and then the police can take me to Grandma's house. But first I need a rope."
Me: "What's the rope for?"
E: "To climb out the window down to the street."
Me: "We do have stairs..."

D: "Tekiyah!" (blows toy shofar) "Teriyaki!" (blows toy shofar)

You know your 3 year old had a great birthday when bedtime results in a record-breaking meltdown followed by sudden silence.


Sometimes Kesenia says something that sounds exactly like my Grandma Anne. I know she's got a bunch of her genes just by looking at her, but it's still uncanny when the same phrasing and inflection comes out of her mouth.  How does my 6 year old Californian sound like a 90 year old New York Jew?

Watching Donovan try to remove his temporary tattoos.

Dear God, when I named my firstborn "God has answered me," I guess I jumped the gun a little. I apologize for being presumptuous. 8 years later... Please may I have some answers for parenting her? Or one? Or just a clue? Humbly, Me.

So... that vacation I thought I took 6 months ago? It was in 2010, not 2011. I don't know what that means.

I woke up to find my eldest and my father playing poker at the kitchen table.

"Mommy, me play a big, scawy song on the pano. It go BOMBOMBOM."


I walked out of my (old) house for the last time today. Goodbye Chapman Way.

"Donovan, you can wear clothes or pajamas when you're sick. What do you want to wear today?"

"Me wanna wear naked."

Sweet, sweet Eliana is cuddling a double ear infection-ed boy to sleep. Beautiful.

Now he's delegating: 

Me: "Donovan, can I have a snuggle?"
D: "Kessa, can you go snuggle Mama?"


I haven't figured out how to drink wine with glasses on. I keep bumping the glass into my glasses as I try to finish off the last sips. I'm sure the fact that I'm tipsy by the end of one glass is not helping.

Donovan keeps showing off his new vocabulary word, "directions," by using it as often as possible. Fortunately for my sick sense of humor, he can't pronounce it correctly. He leaves off the D... so we're having lots of inadvertent conversations about erections.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Ramblings on college

First day at community college today!  I'm enrolled in Nutrition and Spanish.  Nutrition is one of the prerequisites for all the nursing programs I'm interested in, and Spanish is for fun.  Well, I suppose it's actually more important than that, because learning Spanish has been one of my back-burner personal goals since I moved to LA for college 15 years ago, so it's nice to finally take it from queued up to cued up!

Speaking of that glorious age gap between college age and my age...  I sat down in Spanish class and the woman next to me turned to me and said, "How old are you?"  Now, this question isn't something people generally ask, certainly not right off the bat, so I made a split second decision to give her the benefit of the doubt and answered, "Thirty-three."  She said, "Oh wow, I thought you were in your twenties.  I'm eighteen, and I think I'm the youngest one in here."  I said, "Nah, I'm sure there are lots of people right out of high school here," (although the truth is, anyone under 25 looks like 18 to me anymore) and thought, yep, I was right to give her the benefit of the doubt.  It's still not the most polite question, perhaps, but she was feeling intimidated, and apparently didn't think I was old enough to have reached the point where it was inappropriate to ask, so I'll cut her some slack.  I had actually just been walking around the campus noting how young everyone looked (and the fact that I'm almost twice as old as many of them), so I related to her feeling of being on the sides of the age spectrum.

It was also the second time in the past week that my age has come up with someone I didn't really know. The other time was when a mother of young children asked me if Donovan was my only child, and I replied that I have nine and seven year old girls.  She said, "Oh, you look too young to have a nine year old!"  To which I replied a thank you and that I was young when she was born.  I can't remember whether she asked my age or not.

Right, my classes...
Both professors are energetic and engaging, thank heavens.  The Spanish professor is going to do a full immersion course, which absolutely thrills me.  I know that's what I need.  She did half the class time in Spanish today, and won't speak in English again unless she absolutely has to, and I was pretty impressed by her ability to teach Spanish using only Spanish.  She says her semester class is worth about 3 years of high school Spanish, so I say bring it on.  I've been waiting a long time for this!

It's very strange to be back in school in the age of computers.  I walked in to Nutrition, and the screen had a webpage projected onto it so that the professor could show us how to log in to the course website to do our homework.  I feel like I ought to become a member of AARP when I talk about what the technology was like when I went to college, and I only graduated 12 years ago.  (I called home from orientation on a pay phone.  In my defense, it had push buttons, not a rotor.)  We had email and signed up for classes via the internet starting my second or third quarter.  But no professors used power point yet, there was no such thing as an online course, and submitting coursework via email attachment is something I did once when I was sick and the instructor took pity on me.

It's also strange to have the background I do.  Most of the people there have recently graduated high school.  Some others have spent time working after high school.  This is what we expect from college students.  So, when my Nutrition professor asked us to give a short intro and tell her why we were taking her class, and all the other students were talking about where they worked and what their major was, I'm thinking, "Hi, I'm Megan, I'm a mom and a midwife, and I don't have a major here because I already have a bachelor's from UCLA, but this is one of the prerequisites I'm taking so I can get a nursing degree to become a midwife... yes I know I'm already a midwife...  it's complicated."  So I just said, "Hi, I'm Megan, I'm undeclared and am taking prerequisites for an accelerated bachelor's in nursing," so that I wouldn't sound braggy but giving the instructor the chance to gather that it's a second degree if she knows about ABSN programs.  The strange part to me is balancing being open and honest about who I am and where I come from, without making anyone feel that I think I'm better than they are.

In truth, I think we're on completely equal footing.  I've never taken these classes before.  At UCLA, I avoided science classes like the plague.  My physical science courses were in Environmental Science.  My biological science course was Anatomy and Physiology for non-science majors, no lab component,  and I took it pass/no pass!  I was going to be an elementary school teacher, so I majored in the subject I enjoyed most.  I never would have believed you if you had told me I'd be a midwife someday.  If I'd had any inkling, you can bet I would have worked my tail off to get into UCLA's nursing school.


It's going to be a grand adventure.  Even if I end up deciding to stick with being a licensed midwife working in home birth, rather than going back to school to be a nurse-midwife so that I can work in any setting, I'm excited to be exercising my brain while the kids are in school, and learning new things.  This semester in particular is exciting since these topics will be applicable to my life in general, not just to my potential career path.

I'll check in with updates.  Hopefully not all of them will be about speaking FrespaƱol.  ("Escucho la radio tous les jours."  Yeah.)