Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Prodromal Labor. I knew this was coming.  This is my third pregnancy, I've been around this block before. I know these tricks.

Wikipedia defines Pre-labor, also called "prodromal labor," as the early signs before labor starts. It is the body's preparation for real labor. It can include hours to days of consistant, highly uncomfortable contractions that do not organize enough to progress the body into active labor.

I define it as bordenline torture.  With my first son, my prodromal labor lasted for 10 days and three trips to the labor and delivery ward, all of which I was sent home deflated and disheartened.  Two nights ago, the contractions started again. Every 5 minutes, lasting about a minute each, and I just sighed.  Like I said, I'm an old dog here. 

The truth is I am just a terribly impatient woman, impulsive and rash even.  You see when I'm not the one that is massively pregnant, I am the voice of reason.  I've spent the last few weeks with my face buried in Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth,  empowering myself with her stories and words of wisdom.  I am preparing as much as possible for a birth free of interventions. Unfortunatly, births free of pitocin and doctors and scheduling require patience. And really,I believe in it. I believe that God designed women for birth, that the rates of cesareans are absurdly unnecessary and compeletely linked to our inability to just wait for our body to be ready.  I believe wholeheartedly that I was designed by my perfect creator to grow babies and bring them into the world, and that in most cases medical aid is unnecessary.  I believe that my hour will come when it is the correct time. God and I have had a few heart to hearts throughout this pregnancy concerning this and I have put it into His capable hands.  

That is, until the useless, false labor contractions started and I turned into an absolute mad-woman.  Yesterday, before my darling soulmate of a husband reminded me that I am a God-loving woman and that perhaps I should take a moment to pray about my "I've gotta have this baby now" anxiety, I decided that I did, in fact, have to have this baby now.  I googled "natural induction methods" and I decided to completely ignore the knowledge that if you're body isn't ready, the baby isn't coming.  

I think I walked miles yesterday.  My poor 4 year old said after an hour and a half at the mall that he would like to go get in the van and have a nap.  If you knew Asher, you would know how very much it takes before the child admits even the slightest bit of tiredness.  From then I just went on down the list, doing everything short of drinking dreaded castor oil.  At about 11 last night, as I bounced on the birth ball and polished off the last of a fresh pineapple (it contains an enzyme called bromelain, which is believed to work like a prostaglandin, ripening and softening the cervix), I realized that I could not put my pregnancy, birth, health and child into God's hands and simultaneously tell Him how to handle them.  And so I finally prayed, and asked that God would give me, if not active labor, some patience and perhaps some rest.  

You will be proud to know that I walked by the eggplants at the grocery today without buying one, because even if the old wives tale says that eggplant parmesan will have you in labor by the next morning, I know that I have no idea how to cook it and it probably wouldn't work anyway.  And although I am sitting on my birth ball whilst writing this blog entry, I am not doing so in desperation.  I will practice patience.  My hour will come. 

In the meanwhile, I would like to share a few of the maternity photos my good friend Leslie took for us this last weekend.  I am so pleased with them, although it was certainly odd to be on this side of the lens! 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Passion and Perspective.

In 2007, I called my grandmother and told her I had a dream I wanted to pursue and in order to do so, I was going to need something I couldn't afford.  A camera, a dSLR, which was the requirement to take a photography class at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where we lived at the time.  I was 4 months post-partum from my second son and a stay at home mom.  I had a sales pitch ready, about how I wanted this to be career, about how I would pay her back.  My grandmother, a mother of six children, hardly let me finish the starting line from my pitch before she said "I'll get you a check, honey. A mother needs a passion so she doesn't lose who she is."  My grandmother was just wise like that.

If I had to say I had a calling I suppose photography would be it, though admittedly I haven't figured out how to tame it yet.  I can look back and see instances over the years where this calling just poked it's head out at me and I didn't see it for what it was.  It took years, and babies, and a desperation for SOMETHING to make me feel validated and talented before I would pick up a real camera and say, "I'm going to do this thing."

Last June, my husband and I drove from Arkansas to North Dakota to pick up my beautiful step-daughter for her summer visit to our house.  It's a 36 hour round trip drive.  On our way back Jeremiah, who had driven all through the night, stopped at a gas station and woke me up to trade spots so he could rest.  It was early in the morning and I could see that the side of the highway was littered with limbs, fence parts and building debris.  We were in Joplin, MO and it was 3 weeks after an EF5 tornado had torn through the town killing 160 people and causing over 2 billion dollars worth of damage.  I got behind the wheel of the car and instead of pulling back on the highway, I took a right and headed into South Joplin.

It took 5 minutes to find the tornado's path by simply following the destruction.  We cleared a hill and out of nowhere, we were in the middle of a trail of devastation that reached farther than I could see.  I will never forget the way I felt driving through that, my hand covering my mouth to hold in the sobs and the only phrase I could muster, "Oh God."

Immediately, I began to take photos:  the flattened Lowe's, the streets of nothing but rubble, a house with only one wall standing (which was purple and had a small closet with a little girls dress hanging inside).  After about 15 minutes Jeremiah insisted we get back on the road, that I get ahold of myself and that we move on.  I laid my camera absentmindedly on the back seat of the car.  That night someone broke into our car and stole all the things we had failed to unpack in our exhaustion, the camera that I was basing my business on being one of them.

Do you know it took my months to make the connection between the hope I'd seen in the face of despair in Joplin, MO and the way it made me feel to have my camera stolen.  What an idiot I was to feel like I had lost much of anything when I had seen lives torn apart, people who had lost EVERYTHING just a single day before.   We are like that though aren't we?  People are generally self-centered and sorry when it comes to seeing the bigger picture.

Last week a box was delivered from KEH.com, a replacement camera, the exact model I lost 9 months ago. Whereas before I had lost the appreciation for my outdated camera and the talent I have in using it, I feel like I've gained a little perspective now.  I'm not pursuing a business in photography just yet.  I've decided to rediscover the passion I used to have, the passion that prompted me to call my grandmother and ask her to help me 5 years ago, the passion she recognized and understood the importance of kindling, nurturing, growing.

This is another reason for wanting to blog. I'd like a place to share the things I see and capture with my photography.  I am posting this as a way of holding myself accountable. I like to think that at some point, there will be people out there who are interested in my perspective.  I surely hope that will be the case.

****I must edit this post in light of the realization I made after publishing it.  I started writing this over a week ago but was for some reason hesitant to share.  This morning I decided that it was important and that I did want to put it up.  After hitting the "publish" button and viewing my personal story as it is viewable on the blog, I realized the date.  Today would have been my grandmothers birthday.  We lost her to colon cancer 3 years ago.  I believe in the salvation of Jesus and have given Him my heart, as had my grandmother, so I know our time together isn't over, only paused.  I do miss her very much though, especially in light of my pregnancy coming to a close.  It's hard when you've lost someone you care about and you know you are bringing a child into a world where that person no longer exists.  Small coincidences like unintentionally posting about her gift to me on her birthday are a comfort though.  They are like a little hug and a little reassurance that the people we lose really do go in our memories.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The first day.

I have this fantasy of myself.  It's a lovely picture when I paint it inside my brain.  Start with my little suburban backyard, the very same one I played in as a girl (I am fortunate enough to be raising my family in the house I was raised in, but that is another post.)  My husband is in his woodshop with the door open and the sounds of his saw cutting through his latest handiwork floats out on the summer breeze.  Our children are playing with our dog and I have the baby in a sling on my back, chickens clucking around my muck boots while I work in the garden and hang hand dyed cloth diapers on the clothes line.  Ahhh....collective sigh.  And of course, like the coolest of crunchy, suburban, house moms....in my fantasy, I blog.

Today is February 15, pouring rain with a high of 57 degrees.  The weather this winter has been bizarre, even for Arkansas.  Two days ago we woke up to pouring snow and ecstatic boys who would surely be disappointed by 3 p.m. when the sun would come out and melt it all.  It's been a bit disappointing for all of us...no need for hot chocolate, no sledding, no snowball fights. The daffodils all bloomed early for a January of 60 degree highs, but after this recent 2 day freeze, they are all hanging their yellow heads. Mosquitoes have already begun to breed, and if we forget to shut the screen door completely, we will find ourselves slapping the nasty little things off our arms...in February!  And perhaps the most inconvenient side effect of a winter with no backbone and a spring with no reserve, my dog's biological clock seems to have been fooled by the hasty warm-up and he has begun shedding his winter coat a full 2 months early.  As I am 36 weeks pregnant and simultaneously exhausted and desperate for a clean house, small collections of German Shepherd hair congregating under every table and in every corner are driving me mad.
However, for this day only, I am happy about the oddity of this winter's weather. Today is the day I have decided to start making my fantasy a reality and I'm quite thankful for the rain pounding outside my open window.  It inspires me to write, to seize this wet and warmish day and mark it as the beginning of sharing my life through words.
Although today will be my first post, this blog has been registered for quite a while now under a name that came to me in a dream, "The Hodgepodge Darling".  I like things to be eccentric. Hodgepodge.  I prefer for chairs not to match and faces to be asymmetrical.  Every room and outfit should be, in my opinion, an expression of creativity and when at all possible, an explosion of color.  A garden should have a bit of organized chaos to seem real.
There is something about the beautiful wildness nature has that makes me stand in awe of my Creator.  I've never been the type to stunt it, but I try in all ways to recreate it by having a life which is a hodgepodge of things I find wonderful.  This may not make sense yet, but continue to read and you'll understand. It's more easily showed than told anyhow.