A Lesson on Letting Go

It's no secret that I am a bit of a control freak.  And by "a bit" I clearly mean "a total" control freak.  I have always liked my environment to be just the way I want it to be.  Growing up I was obsessed with cleaning my room and bathroom every Sunday so that everything was in order to start the week. Each night I would put out the outfit I was going to wear the next day, complete with jewelry set out and displayed just so. My backpack was organized.  My homework was done.  I even would have my lunch ready and packed.  I would make sure to do my crunches, read my scriptures, pray, etc.  Any disruption in this routine was difficult for me and tended to throw off my whole week.  This is a picture of me at about 12-years-old, where the control really started rearing its ugly head.

This has continued to be the case throughout my life.  While I don't necessarily clean everything on Sunday night, I do like to have things in order. I like to have the laundry done.  The kitchen cleaned. I like to have meals somewhat planned for the week. I like to set goals. I like to write lists.

I can't go to bed with the decorative pillows thrown about. Everything has a place. I can't go to bed without washing my face,  picking up the house, etc.  I hate leaving the house without the bed made, the house cleaned.  The windows and blinds open and the dishwasher loaded.

My need to control everything has always been a difficult part of my relationships.  While this part of my personality is a bit nice at times to my husband (who really appreciates a clean house) it is also really challenging.

Seth is completely opposite from me in so many ways.  He isn't remotely a control freak.  Go to bed with the house a disaster?  No problem!  He doesn't write lists.  He is a bit scattered. He will continually ask me to come and relax (something I can't do if the dishes aren't done) and ignore the mess.  He often feels like cleaning is a priority over him.

It is.  And I'm ashamed of it. I can't help it. I try to let it go. I try to let things be.  But I can't always help it.

Having kids has shaken my ability to be a control freak.  With one child, I could still keep up. I could still go to bed most nights with things in order. I could still cross items off my many to-do list. I could follow Millie around the house and pick up after her.  I could clean during naps. Or I could send her off to my mom's on a Saturday for awhile and speed clean my house.  It was definitely more challenging but not impossible.

Then I had Matilda.  And boy did things shift.  Now I can't keep up. I just can't.  This feeling that my life was spinning out of control was one of the main reasons that I fought postpartum depression. Truthfully medication has helped.  It has helped me not feel an overwhelming sense of anxiety when I come home to a complete disaster. Sure, I feel annoyed but I don't get tense, short of breath and upset.  Now, I do admit that after awhile I tend to lose my cool if things are too messy for too long but those freaking out episodes are less than they have ever been.

Having a controlling/OCD personality means that I fixate on things that I need to do.  I will notice how badly I need to vacuum the stairs every. single. time. I walk up them.  And it will make me crazy for days until I finally break down and do it.  Some things I don't necessarily see.  Like right now, I can't help but think "oh shit, I need to write "put away maternity clothes" on my weekend to-do list!" These tasks and need to control things has a way of taking over my life.  

It is so hard. Every night I think to myself, "Ok Becky, once the girls are in bed take some time and clean.  Don't watch TV.  Just get some things done."  Yet by the time they are in bed I am so exhausted that I don't want to do anything. I just want to sit. I want to relax.  So the house stays a mess.

Now most people don't let this stuff eat at them.  I recognize that. I can't tell you how many times people have advised me to just "let it go! Having a clean house doesn't matter!  Spend time with your girls.  That is more important."

Here's the thing. I agree.  I completely agree. I just don't know how to let it go.  Since I have had Matilda I have really improved (it's true - ask Seth!). I try so hard to just be ok with my situation, but I still struggle with it every day.

And then I broke my damn foot.  

My ability to keep up at all was taken out from under me.  Not only did my foot make everyday tasks hard, it took away my main ways to relieve my stress/anxiety. I couldn't run or go to yoga.

Soon I felt like a tightly wound mess. I was having crazy dreams every night where I was just raging.  I was so angry.  And I think it was all because I lost control.  I couldn't take my girls to the park. I couldn't go for long walks with the baby. I was stuck at home.  In a messy home. My friend Ashtin told me that maybe having a broken foot would help me slow down and enjoy this time with my girls.  I think she was right.

Sometimes you just have to surrender yourself to your circumstances.  You just have to sit back and say, "Ok life.  I get it.  You win. You suck.  But you win." And I think I finally just came to terms with it.

Yesterday I went to a specialist, anticipating being told I had to have surgery.  A fact that made me so angry I could hardly stand it.  6 more weeks in the boot.  6 more weeks with no exercise.  I was livid. And yet I walked away from the appointment in higher spirits than I have been in in weeks. I could take off the boot! I could start running again.  I felt an enormous weight lifted from me.

So did I learn to let go? Well lets just say that my to-do list this weekend is enormous! But it is less focused on cleaning/errands and more focused on "take the girls swimming" and "go to the farmer's market".  Because now I have full mobility and I am over the moon.  I'm going to embrace the final weeks of summer because I can.

That's the thing about letting go, it takes awhile to understand the beauty of it.

A Natural Birth Story

Our sweet Matilda is nearly 4-months-old.  Which means I have been attempting to write this blog for 4 months now.  It's 8:30pm, the girls are in bed, Seth is out with some friends, the house is cleaned up and the hum of the air conditioning is the only real noise in my house.  It's quiet.  I rarely have quiet these days.  So I better take advantage.

Matilda was due on April 5th.  Just as I did with my pregnancy with Millie, I made the assumption that she would be coming early.  I think it really was just a symptom of the 2nd pregnancy. I felt everything more. I showed quickly. I was bigger than I was with Millie. I was in more pain, etc. I also was more aware of contractions.  I thought for sure she would at least come on-time.  I was determined to NOT be induced.  I once again hoped for a natural birth but I knew from my experience with Millie (see blog) that if I was induced the chances for a natural birth were slim to none.  I was really hoping she would come on her own.  Honestly though, I didn't work on my meditations like I did preparing for Millie.  I barely thought of the birth.  I knew I wanted to have her naturally, but if I'm being completely honest, I didn't expect to do it.  My doctor indicated that she would like to support my decision for a natural birth, but that she would feel best if I didn't wait more than a week past my due date to have the baby.  We set an induction for April 13th at 7am.  I laughed and said to her, "I'll kill myself if she isn't here by then."

Well she wasn't.  The days ticked on.  I was emotional. I was exhausted. I was uncomfortable. But I tried to keep my spirits up. I showed up to KUER during fund drive.

I had a hunch that the 13th would arrive and I would be induced.  The night before the 13th we dropped Millie off and my mom's and came home.  I went to bed, feeling relieved that I knew that the next day I would be meeting my baby girl.  Yet I felt so disappointed that I was going to be induced.  Well, as life would have it I woke up at 4:30am and starting timing regular contractions - about every 10-12 minutes. I excitedly woke up Seth and told him the baby was coming on her own! I was beside myself with joy. I tried to sleep. I tried to read.  Finally I got up, went to the couch and started playing on my phone.  I noticed my friend Ashtin was posting on Facebook.  Ashtin was my amazing doula with Millie.  She wasn't coming for Matilda's birth which was sad for both of us.  So I happily sent her a text that I was in labor. I think it was about 1am or so in Hawaii where she lives. We texted back and forth for over an hour.  We timed contractions.  We celebrated the fact that the baby was coming on her own.  Finally at 7am I woke up Seth and told him to make me some German pancakes which he happily did.

My amazing sister Heather was acting as my doula this time around.  In perfect Heather form she took this on and went above and beyond.  She read and studied.  She bought (and bought over and over again) the food and snacks I indicated I wanted for the birth.  Peanut butter and jelly on the whitest bread possible, Hostess Cupcakes and fresh fruit.  She bought massage oils, bubble bath, a face fan, ice masks, you name it.  Heather had 2 of her 3 kids naturally and really is the toughest woman...well maybe human...that I know.  I knew she could help me fight through a natural birth.  I needed her by my side. I called her at 7 and told her the contractions were about 8-10 minutes apart.  She started to get ready to head over to the house.  By about 8:30 she was here.  The contractions were coming a bit faster, but not fast enough to merit going to the hospital.  So we did what we knew to do to get them going.  We went walking.  It was a beautiful Monday morning and we walked the neighborhood.  After about an hour the contractions actually started getting painful enough that I would have to stop walking and breathe.  We headed home.  My doctor told me that natural birth moms should really wait at home until contractions are about 3-4 minutes apart.  We waited.

We spent time looking through Seth's grandmother's sheet music.  We wanted to name the baby Ailey Matilda.  Ailey actually comes from a version of the Irish song, "Oh Danny Boy".  Seth found a verse in the sheet music that was, "Oh Ailey Girl" and fell in love with it.  That's how we got her name.  Of course while looking through music we found this...which was just perfect.

Finally the contractions were starting to come about 4-5 minutes apart and we decided to head up to the U of U hospital.  On the way there the contractions were painful.  I found myself pushing myself up off the car seat because the pressure was intense.  Seth was driving at the speed limit, or under.  I said to him at one point, "Seth, why don't you drive like your wife is in labor!" Ha ha ha.  He sped up.  We arrived at the curbside drop-off at the hospital at about 11:00. Seth suggested that we get someone to wheel me up to Labor & Delivery.  I didn't think I needed it.  I just thought I'd wander up between contractions while he and Heather unloaded their cars.  

I was about 3/4 of the way through the lobby when I felt a contraction coming on.  So I waddled quickly to the elevator, pushed the button and leaned against the wall.  Much to the horror of the people around me.  A nurse saw me and said, "I take it you are headed to my floor!" I buzzed the nurses desk and said, "I'm in labor!" and basically came running in.  They all looked at me like I was crazy. Everyone was asking me where my husband was.  Poor guy, everyone probably thought he made me walk up alone.  I stood at the desk and checked myself in.  Heather and Seth arrived, we made it to our room.  Heather immediately started the bath.  I started singing "Sad songs say so much" loudly - out of the blue - and Seth quickly turned on his computer and filled our hospital room with music.  Elton John, Patti Griffin, Diana Krall, Nickel Creek, etc.  I think the nurses thought we were crazy. We were all in such good spirits.  The contractions were getting strong and painful but I was handling them just fine.  The nurse checked my progress and I was dilated to a 5.  Well on my way!  I got into the bath.  My doctor arrived and came and chatted with me.  I was breathing really well through my contractions in the bath. Heather was fanning me, and basically sponge-bathing me. I was handling things ok. And then something changed.  The contractions became incredibly hard. I started moaning.  I knew I was in transition.  Heather and Seth helped me out of the bath and onto the bed.  The doctor checked me again and I was at an 8.  My water still wasn't broken. I was close but not quite there.  My doctor said she could break my water.  She had a quick procedure to do and would be back in 10 minutes.  I kept feeling an immense amount of pressure and I knew my water was going to break on it's own.  Which it did. I felt it.  I was gripping Heather and Seth's hands tightly through each contraction.  Seth was pressing on my hips.  

I was moaning. The nurse came in, I told her I thought my water broke, she checked me and said, "WOW! Lets have a baby!"

Then things happened quickly. I mean, quickly. About 10 people were suddenly in the room.  Everyone was getting in their birth-gear and I felt the need to push.  I also felt a complete sense of panic set in. I knew that it was too late to ask for an epidural. I knew I had the ability to have a natural birth through the labor portion but I was scared to push.  Really scared.  What choice did I have? It was go time.

I'm not sure how long I pushed. I think it was 10-15 minutes.  But let me tell you, those were the craziest 15 minutes of my life. 

I had every reason to be scared for the pushing because that was the most painful and wild thing I have ever experienced. I was screaming.  Really really screaming. I didn't know how to not scream.  People told me that pushing was life feeling a ring of fire.  That was exactly it. I don't know how else to explain it.  I felt like my lower body was on fire. I felt the need to push.  When I had Millie I was able to relax between contractions.  Naturally though, I just had to push. I wanted her out.  I was screaming, "COME OUT MATILDA!" and crying in pain.  My doctor and nurses kept telling me to stop pushing.  They kept telling me to breathe and relax.  I couldn't. I couldn't stop until she was out.  I don't remember much of those minutes besides the pain. I do remember Heather grabbing my face, looking me in the eyes and saying, "Becky you need to calm down.  You are doing this.  She is almost here.  Calm down.  You are fine.  BREATHE!"  It was the perfect blend of sympathy and "come on - buck up!"  It was exactly what I needed.  I pushed again as hard as I could...

And she was here.  

I have never felt such a relief in my life.  

And then they rushed her away from me and into the corner where the warmer was set up.  I was sobbing, "What's wrong with my baby?"  Everyone told me over and over "She's fine Becky.  She's beautiful. She's just having a hard time breathing."  Heather stayed by my side.  She never left me. Seth went with Matilda.  He wouldn't leave her.  Apparently in this picture (taken by my cousin Ally who happened to be doing a nursing rotation on this floor) Seth was saying to Matilda, "Come on sweetheart.  Show me your muscles...

I remember looking into the corner of the delivery room and there were so many people gathered around her that I couldn't see her. 

 I saw a tube down her throat.  I couldn't hear her crying and I was nervous.  Finally she started crying.  They bundled her up and I got to hold her for less than a minute.

I sobbed.  There is no better feeling than the first moment you see your beautiful child.  I kissed and kissed and kissed her little face and they took her away.  I told Seth, "go with her!" and he did.

Apparently I was bleeding a lot.  I remember the resident and doctor were stitching me up but I wasn't too phased by it.  I was so worried about the baby.  The nurse gave me a shot in the leg, they started an IV.  I must have been really losing blood because my doctor basically pushed the resident aside and stitched me up herself.  

Then I started shaking.  I was in shock.  The adrenaline, the pain, everything from the last 3 hours hit me and I couldn't stop shaking.  The nurses brought in warm blankets and Heather never left me. I did ask for my Mom.  Funny how now matter how old you are, you still want and need your momma.  

I don't remember the string of events after this. I was sewn up, covered up, had a bit to drink and had mostly stopped shaking. Seth came back and told me the baby was ok.  Apparently she was blue and floppy when she came out. The cord was wrapped around her neck twice.  And she had fluid in her lungs.  Yet she was doing better so about 30 minutes later they brought her to me.  

Seth and I finally had time together with her.  She was here.  Another perfect daughter.  

She was so alert and so sweet.

I trusted Millie to be in my mom's care during the labor and delivery.  She and Seth brought Millie into the room to meet her sister.  She was awe-struck and so sweet.  I'll never forget that moment.  

I was emotional and wanted Millie close to me.  I told her to crawl up into bed with momma. I put my arms around her.  She touched my stomach and said, "Momma! Your tummy is small.  You are REAL AGAIN!"  Ha!

Family trickled in to see the baby. 

I was exhausted. Interestingly enough I felt way worse right after this delivery than I did when I had the epidural. I was so incredibly tired. The labor was really fast and really manageable.  Yet the will-power and energy it took to have her naturally, really did me in.  It wasn't until about 8pm when all of the visitors left, I ate dinner and drank an obscene amount of fluids that I finally felt better.  I was up and walking around in my room. I was bouncing the baby. So THAT was proof that the natural birth was a quicker recovery.  But boy was it hard the first couple hours after.  

I stayed in the hospital for 2 nights.  The second night I spent alone. I wanted Seth to go home with Millie and I wanted another night of TLC with just the baby.  Unfortunately her blood oxygen levels were low and they took her into the nursery and hooked her up to a machine.  She was away from me for about 20 hours. I hated leaving her side but was so exhausted I had no choice. I would go to my room and sleep.  Every 2  hours or so a nurse would come and wake me. I would walk to the nursery, nurse her, hold and kiss her and then would go back to sleep. I watched her heart rate monitor for hours on end.  Just willing her numbers to go up.  I called Seth and he of course was panicked.  

The next morning we had the biggest snowstorm of the year.  Seth didn't get to the hospital until much later than we hoped. When he did arrive he looked terrible.  He expected the worst. He was assuming she was going to have to have heart surgery. I was exhausted, worried and emotional.  The baby had to have a heart test and they wouldn't let us take her to our room until the cardiologists at Primary Children's cleared her. It was terrifying.  We waited and waited and waited.  

I started crying. I missed Millie. I wanted to take the baby home. I was so worried that something was wrong with her.  

Finally around 5pm the doctors cleared her.  Nothing was wrong.  Probably just residual fluid in her lungs.  We made it home by about 9pm.  

I did it. I had a baby naturally. I couldn't have done it without the incredible support from Seth and my sister.  The best birth support I could have asked for. I have been asked over and over if I would do it naturally again.  Truthfully, probably not. I mean, I am so glad that I did it. I am happy that I was able to experience the true miracle of the process. I don't know that I have ever felt more like a "WOMAN!" than I did that day.  It was extraordinary.  But so is modern medicine.  Millie's birth was harder in most ways, except the pushing. Pushing was a blast.  Matilda's birth was actually really enjoyable, until the pushing. I don't have an answer for what's best.  They were both wonder births. I have said it once and I'll say it again, I would birth 10 babies. I think labor is incredible.  I don't anticipate doing it again, which makes me sad.  However, I am so happy I had both experiences.  So beautiful and different in their own ways.  We are so blessed to have two incredibly beautiful and perfect daughters. 

Life, and the human body is truly miraculous.