Happy Birthday!

On Friday, May 27th at 3:56pm I watched my friend of over 20 years bravely bring her son, Caden, into the world.  I like to think of it as a birthday for Caden, and my birthday as a Doula!  It was such a blessing to be a part of this amazing process and I am so grateful.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the female body is remarkable and awe-inspiring.

I knew driving to meet Tara and Steve that by the the end of the weekend I would know if being a Doula was the right thing for me.  I felt excited, scared, and anxious.  Will I know what to say when Tara is in pain?  What will I do if there are complications?  Can I remain composed yet still be open to the emotions I am feeling?  The night before her induction, I reviewed my notes like a madwoman, hoping to absorb more information.

I am pleased to report that not only did the birth go very well for all involved, but my desire to doula is stronger than ever.  I learned SO much, and while I know there are lots of things I could have done differently or better, I know that this path is the right one for me.

I am still processing the experience and will have a better update soon.

In the meantime, I am trying to find the right name for my Doula business…it’s like naming a child!   I want it to convey the right message about me, my respect for the process, and yet not be too cheesy or salesmanshippy.  All thoughts and suggestions are welcome!

 

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May 29, 2011. Doula Stuff, Friendship. Leave a comment.

Long Overdue Birthday Post

This is the long overdue birthday post that got pushed aside when life got crazy!

My birthday was excellent!  Friends, Cubs game (the fun kind where the Cubs actually win!), more friends, all-you-can-eat sushi, and a delicious vegan cake!

Thanks to Buck for organizing such a fantastic day, and to all the buddies near and far that made it so special!  I am so lucky to have you in my life.

Top Left: Katy and Buck; Buck, Brian (cheering for the Cards who weren't even playing) and Adam; Bekah, Annie and Wyatt; Paige and Drew

Andy- the biggest Cubs fan I know!

Dinner out to Midori Sushi for their all-you-can-eat special.

We went to Midori Sushi for their all-you-can-eat dinner special.  The gimmick is that you pay $26 and can order anything off the menu, but you have to finish everything that is brought to the table within an hour of placing your first order, or you pay for what was uneaten.   We worked as a team and, as you can see in the last photo, Annie was desperate to find a hiding place for some leftover rice and the Coke can served her well =)  In the top left corner you can see darling fiends, Katie and Chris were in town for a visit!  It was so nice to spend time with them- especially on my birthday.

I received some amazing gifts from my fantastic friends!

From top: Yarn from Michelle which she specified has to be used to make something for myself (I have issues with keeping my crafts), adorable Owl plate from Annie, hilarious coloring book from Bekah, Bossypants from Buck, and a paper watch that I can design myself from Amber; Vintage hankie with the state of California from Michelle; Vintage hankie with the state of Illinois from Michelle (she knew I had my eye on those for a while!); Adhesive chalk board pages from Amber!

I have the coolest friends ever!

The tasty vegan cake Buck made!

May 25, 2011. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

I Have Been a Doula My Whole Life

I have been a Doula my entire life, and perhaps you have been too.

I learned this concept at Day 1 of my three day DONA Birth Doula Training presented by Bini Birth and led by the miraculous Ana Paula Markel.  I cannot say enough about Ana Paula- I want to glue myself to her so that I can listen to her speak forever.  She has changed my world in the very best way and I know that being a Doula is just want I am supposed to be doing right now.

Having a sense of purpose is not something I am used to, but it is that same feeling that led me to explore Doula life a few short months ago, and I am feeling so much gratitude for this strange path.

This past December, Buck and I went home for the holidays and had a wonderful time.  We saw family and friends, ate too much food, and did a lot of wedding planning with my sister Amy and her fiance Tommy.  Amy and Tommy have been together since high school and are set to get married this June.  I flew back to LA on New Years Eve, never imagining I would be back in Chicago in five short days.

On January 4th, Tommy left for work like every other day (he is an Actuary for a large insurance company), and on his way to the car, he dropped their adorable save the date cards in the mail (see adorable photo below).  Less than a mile from their apartment, Tommy was making a left turn when a 28,000 pound construction truck hit the passenger’s side of his car, crushing it so far in that Tommy hit his head on the passenger side door upon impact.

He was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was admitted into the Surgical Intensive Care Unit, sedated, intubated, and a pressure monitor was inserted into his head to track the swelling and small amount of blood on his brain.  If you’ve never seen a person in this condition, let me tell you: it is a sobering experience.  If you love this person, it is a complicated experience.  One part of me wanted to rip all of the tubes and wires off of him because it was so unnatural, but knowing these machines were keeping Tommy alive made me want to hug the people who invented them.  And those feelings surfaced in alternating rapid succession for the three weeks he was strapped to them.

Sometimes when I think about this event, and I think about it everyday, I cannot believe it happened.  When I got back to Chicago January 5th, I felt like I was stepping into a dream…a bad one where the nicest kids you know are going through something horrible…that you can’t change…or fix…or erase. And I am a “fixer” and a “doer,” but in those moments, there is no doing- only being.

I didn’t know it at that time, but I became a Doula for Amy and Tommy in that moment.  Spending the month of January sleeping in the hospital waiting room, guarding my sister like a precious jewel, taking shifts sitting in the room listening to Tommy’s monitors whir and beep, eating food that tasted like cardboard, finding moments to laugh and cry and laugh again- all these events laid a path that led me to the place I am today.

I am happy to report that Tommy has made a miraculous recovery.  He is back at work, driving again, fully active, and if you didn’t know he’d been in an accident, you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at him.  He doesn’t feel 100% like himself, and he probably won’t for a few more months, but he’s recovering and we are blessed.

Toward the end of January, as Tommy was recovering, we realized that he needed to get into a rehabilitation program and there was a spot open at the renowned Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.  I will spare you the details, but they were some of the most stressful and exhilarating days of my life.  From that experience I discovered why I was put on this earth: to give voice and comfort to those who don’t have it.  I learned a lot about patient advocacy and the highs and lows of the hospital system.  Once he finally arrived at RIC, I felt so proud, and I slept for the first time in a month.

Around that same time, Angela had baby Ilyse and I remember she asked me if I had ever considered becoming a Doula.  She had one at her birth and she said she could see me doing it.  At the time, I didn’t know what a Doula did, so I muttered something about not wanting to “stick people with needles or handle a lot of poop.”  I have nurse friends- I know what they do (ie: touch a lot of poop).

I returned back to LA and I remember looking out the window of the plane as it touched down and I said aloud, “What do I do now?”  While I wasn’t happy being home because of the accident, taking care of my sister and Tommy was the most focused and clear I had been in a long time.  I felt completely in my element caring for people, and being back in LA where I am supposed to be pursuing a career as an Actress, I couldn’t see how to reconcile this other side (and I still struggle with this).

When the Doula option resurfaced, I did the research and things began to take shape.  I can feel shifts happening and there is a lot of joy in my life.  No, life is not butterflies and roses everyday, and I do feel lost occasionally, but being in Ana Paula’s class was bliss.  All weekend I kept thinking, “THIS is where I am supposed to be.”

I know this post is cheesy, but I need to express my deep gratitude for the unexpected turn of events in life that unveil so much about who we are and where we are supposed to go.

The photo used for their Save the Date. How beautiful they are!

You can see the rest of their beautiful photos at Angela Renee’s website here.

May 23, 2011. Uncategorized. 6 comments.

A Place for Everything

Do you “have a place for everything?”  I don’t.  I have a place for books (ie: bookshelf), but they usually only stay on it if I don’t touch them.  I have a place for my yarn, but “place for my yarn” be damned when I am in the thick of a project!

I can’t be the only one with the inability to keep things where they should be, right?

While I was home, my BFF Kate had a book from the library about de cluttering your life and even though I don’t remember the name of the book right now (chime in here Kate!), the idea of de cluttering and finding a place for things is really sticking with me.  Whenever I am feeling frantic (now) or like I can’t focus on something (most of the time) I can usually look around and figure out why: every surface in my home is covered and I can’t find anything.

I REALLY want this to change.  Like, now.

I have been cleaning for the past hour, but I realize that I just don’t have the actual tools to help me organize.  For the longest time I had this plan to make fabric containers because I wanted less plastic in my life, and I thought it would be less expensive.  Sure, it costs less money, but it costs more of my time.  Time I can’t seem to find, or rather, WANT to find.  When I have free time, I want to hang with my husband, or read a book, or catch up on shows, or be with friends.  Making a fabric container to hold my husbands socks (we don’t have a dresser) is not high on the list.  Yet every time I open his closet and the mound of socks spills out, I want to punch things.  Someone said to me recently that you have to have a place right by the front door to catch your bag and keys because those are the most important and we’re most likely to lose them if we don’t have a spot RIGHT by the door.

What is the solution? Are there steps to take or rules to follow?

That’s it.  It’s actually a question for YOU, reader and friend.  What do I do?  How do you organize?  What is the name of that friggin’ book (or any others you like)?  And don’t tell me to go to The Container Store and drop a small fortune, cuz I don’t have that.  You CAN tell me to suck it up and just make the freaking boxes!  I would deserve that.

May 19, 2011. Tags: . Crafts, Home. 3 comments.

Chicago Weekend

This past weekend I was in Chicago to celebrate my sister, Amy, as she gets ready to marry her high school sweetheart, Tommy, in less than 1 month!  On Saturday I threw her a bachelorette party, complete with penis parafernalia, too much drinking, plenty of dancing.  Sunday I threw her a bridal shower, which was much more tame, but still lovely.  I flew back to LA on Tuesday and my brain is still swimming.

One really special thing that happened while I was home was that my dear friends, Angela and Clayton, asked if Buck and I would be their daughter’s godparents!  I was able to go spend some time with Angela, Clayton and Baby Ilyse and when they asked me, I burst into tears!  This will be my first time as a god parent, and I am excited to learn what it all means.  Angela and I have similar religious backgrounds, which makes me feel better about this role.  Basically, I hope to be a good role model and friend to her as she grows.  When she asks me questions about crafting, or cooking, or sex, I will have solid, well thought out answers with plenty of love and humor.  When she asks me questions about God and what happens to us when we die, I will likely stumble around until she gets annoyed and goes back to her mom.  Buck will be better at fielding questions about God because he isn’t plagued with any Catholic rules or guilt.  I get caught up in trying to find the “right” answer, and because there isn’t one, I get all fumbly.

Other things I did while home:

– Got threading done to my upper lip.  Hurt like heck, but is cheaper than waxing and supposedly lasts longer.  We’ll see…

– Helped Amy accomplish some wedding stuff

– Signed up for a Doula workshop back in LA through Bini Birth (happening this weekend!)

– Tried on my dress for the wedding and didn’t cry.  It actually fit, which is a miracle!

Enjoy some photos from the weekend:

I made the banners out of pretty paper and hung it with yarn. Aren't Amy and Tommy the cutest?!

I got Amy a vibrator, which sufficiently mortified her. The girl partied like a champ!

May 18, 2011. Doula Stuff, Friendship, sisters. Leave a comment.

I’ve Missed You!

Hi Friends and Blog!  I’ve missed writing you, and I am sorry I have neglected you!  Since last week, it’s been go-go-go and I keep thinking of great things to post about, but not having a second to sit down to do it!

Aaaaand, it doesn’t get any better.

It’s 3am, and I am tired, and I am flying to Chicago tomorrow, and I am not packed or organized.  It’s my own fault and I should stay up all night and get my shit together, but snuggling up in bed sounds so much nicer…plus, it’ll all get done- right?

Here’s a quick update:

Birthday– AWESOME!  Cubs win + all you can eat sushi x friends = one helluva good time!

Weekend– Supes fun!  Went to The Original Renaissance Pleasure Faire (full name) and saw Moonie the Magnificent and Broon.  Check it out if you can!

Doula stuff- Moving right along!  Still reading tons of interesting books and anxiously awaiting the arrival of Baby Tareve (Tara + Steve)… Stara (Steve + Tara)…

Sister Wedding Stuff- Gettin’ shit done!  I fly to Chicago tomorrow to throw my sister her bachelorette party and shower this weekend.  It is going to be a fun time, but my head is spinning with all the details.  I just hope the penis straws don’t end up in the drink of one of my mom’s friends at the shower.  Uncouth (as my dad would say).

Birthday resolutions– Ummm, well….not flawless, but it’s a work in progress, right?  I had intended to give up biting my nails and ripping off my cuticles (treat my body like a temple and all that), but all that came undone yesterday when our router went down and I had to sit on the floor with the laptop propped up on the subwoofer so that I could plug the modem into the computer to work (whah- my life is so hard!).  My back ached and I was frustrated, so how did I deal?  By ripping off my nails and biting, biting, biting.  Not a steller moment in my life, and of course it didn’t satisfy me in the long run.  I did buy funky new polish (that I hope doesn’t look stupid) because I find that I am less inclined to mess with my nails if they look pretty.  So I might take to treating myself to a new polish each month if I can get through it without biting.  I am addicted to nail polish and own 8 shades of purple (no joke).

Book you need to read NOW!Bossypants by Tina Fey.  So funny.  So good.  So right.  Get a taste with “A Mother’s Prayer for her Daughter” and then go buy it.

I will write a better birthday post (I got some wicked cool gifts!) and a round up of this weekend (assuming I am not out partied by 22 year olds) when I return.  In the meantime, thank you for reading and sticking with me.  I think about you often and promise not to be so negligent.

xo

May 11, 2011. Tags: , , , . Doula Stuff, Friendship, sisters. 1 comment.

Amy

When I was approaching my 6th birthday my parents, knowing they were having a planned caesarean section with the birth of my sister, asked me, “Do you want the baby born the day before, the day of, or the day after your birthday?”  As the story goes, I exclaimed, “I want a baby for my birthday!” and went merrily on my way.

Well, my sister Amy came into the world on May 4th, 1988 and I became a big sister.  I remember being fascinated with her- her tiny fingers and the soft spots on her head that I wasn’t allowed to press on lest she leak her brains all over.  My dad gave me this little container that he got from the hospital that was supposed to tell you what things a baby could choke on.  If the object could fit inside the container, it could fit inside a baby’s windpipe and kill them.  I walked around that house testing everything that wasn’t too heavy for me to pick up, and if it fit in the container, it had to go.

There is a picture of me at the hospital the day Amy was born and I love it.  I will try to scan and post it when I get back to Chicago in a week (!!) because it’s pretty precious.  It’s 6 year old me, sitting in a hospital recliner, feet not touching the ground, holding baby Amy who’s eyes are open and looking up at me.  There is one version where I am looking down at her as if she is the best thing in the world, and one where I am looking at the camera smiling like I won a friggin’ pool party on a hot day.  I think it tells the story of our relationship pretty well.  Amy spent most of her life looking up to me, and now that she’s grown up, I spend most of my days looking at her in adoration.

She really is a cool, cool person with the most beautiful hair and the most contagious laugh you’ve ever heard.  When she laughs her eyes squint up and she makes the most hilarious face and I can’t help but laugh too.  She is one of the few people on the planet that I can be 100% myself around and I know what a treat that is.  She is a kindergarden teacher at the school we grew up in, so that tells you a lot about her heart and breadth of patience.

There are so many great stories to share about Amy…Buckethead Baby…Amy Makes a Sandwich (her film debut)…the time she thought she was a puppy for a week and woke me up every morning with puppy dog kisses (aka: licking my face)…the way she would diligently come into my room at night with a mirror and our “affirmations” when I was battling eating disorder…the silly kisses we made up during her bedtime routine (bumble bee kisses, chicken kisses, bunny kisses, lion kisses, etc)… the notes she wrote to me when I moved away to college…the time she was 11 and I gave her my knife to use after I was done making my PB&J and she said, “I don’t want your sloppy seconds” totally unaware of what that REALLY meant…the time she asked me- at the dinner table- if “oral sex is the same as sex”…Side note: I answered her oral sex question this way (she was 14): “There are 2 reasons to have sex: one is to procreate, and you probably don’t want to do that yet, and the other is for pleasure, and let me assure you that 14 year old boys DO NOT know what they are doing, so don’t even bother.”

I sound like her mom more than her sister, and I think for a long time the roles confused the both of us.  When we were young and our parents worked full time, she came with me everywhere.  I know she thought she was a burden, but I loved it.  I loved growing up with her and I love that we are friends now.

So, Ames, Happy 23rd Birthday!  Cheers to sisters, friends and a lifetime of infectious laughter!  You are the best birthday present I have ever received and I love you.  BBK!

Baby Amy!

My favorites from my wedding

First time drinking together after Amy turned 21 (with older sister Chris!)

Amy and her brother

Sleeping Beauties, as my dad would say

The Kate's and Amy

Safety first!

Penguins work too

Amy supporting me at my 3rd Marathon

The weird/gross thing she does with her neck (Tommy too)

Our favorite face to make!

Cheers!

May 4, 2011. Tags: , , , . family, Friendship, sisters. 1 comment.

Birthday Resolutions

Here is something about me you might not know:  I LOVE birthdays.  I don’t care whose birthday it is- I love celebrating them!  I am not totally sure why I get so amped about them, but if you have a birthday coming up, let me know about it and I will go bonkers for you!  I really love reaching milestones and birthdays are fun for so many reasons:

1.  There is often cake and I LOVE cake!

2.  Ice cream usually comes on the side (or INSIDE) of the cake, and ice cream is my FAVORITE!

3.  There is singing, and while I am not good at it, I do enjoy it.  I usually sing “Happy Birthday” really badly on purpose because I think it’s funny (and more fun).

4.  The day is all about YOU, and although I am not usually a “LOOK AT MEMEMEME” kind of person, on my birthday that all changes.  Maybe it’s BECAUSE I try not to get noticed in everyday life that my birthday feels like a great time to mix it up.  I don’t know.  I literally tell EVERYONE that it’s my birthday.  Today, when the maintenance guy said he needed to install my new toilet tomorrow, I told him that it will be my birthday.  Why?  Not sure.  He didn’t seem all that interested, but I thought it pertinent information.

I don’t get freaked out by birthdays.  Well, that’s a lie.  I did one time- when I turned 25.  I had that “oh-my-god-i-am-not-where-I-thought-I’d-be-at-25” freak out, which is just laughable now.

The other thing I love about my birthday in particular is that I share it with a really cool person: my little sister, Amy.  I am going to write a post about her tomorrow, but sharing my birthday with her is my favorite thing about the day (even more than the cake, ice cream, singing and MEMEME).

A few years ago, I started making 3 very specific resolutions on my birthday.  There are 3 categories and I choose a resolution to fit each one.  One year I printed them out, laminated them, and put them on the fridge because I am the type of person that needs that reminder everyday, and enjoys it, but I haven’t done that in a while.  Maybe I’ll try it again this year.  (To be clear, that is NOT one of my resolutions- just an idea).

Okay, here we go:

Professional

I’d like to become a certified Doula by the end of the calendar year, but certainly by this time next year.  I think this is going to require a lot of focus and dedication (SO much reading!), but I am loving it so far and think it’s achievable.

Family

Family means a lot of things to me, but right now, my closest family is my husband, Buck.  I have been with this man for 10 years– since I was a wee babe of 19- and I still learn new things about him all the time.  Our lives get so busy, so the thing I would like to do is become more intimate with my husband.  Yes, that has sexual connotations (sorry if you are grossed out Mom), but intimacy is much more than sex.  It’s about knowing each other and liking each other.  It’s about being close in a way that is secure and safe and in sync.  We definitely have the foundation for it, but having gone through a big move across the country and diving into LA life has been a huge change, and I know I can use some brush up in this area.  I am not yet sure how it will manifest, but I’d love any suggestions you have.

Self

Oh my, there are so many things I’d like to work on, and having just finished The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, my head is swimming with ideas.  But it can be overwhelming to pick 47 things, and likely I won’t do any of them very well, so here is just one that I will keep focused on no matter what: Treat my body like a temple.  I know that seems really hippy-dipppy and broad, but I like it.  It means “don’t put nasty chemicals in it or on it.”  It means “When you are feeling tired, go to sleep.”  And it also means, “When you are craving peanut butter, eat some, but not the nasty kind with nasty chemicals.”  I have faced the tough realization that I am not 19 anymore (sorry Buck!) and drinking until 4am leaves me puffy and cranky the next day.  I also realized that I would like to start a family in the next few years  (ready Buck?) and in order to have the best chance at having a healthy pregnancy (or any pregnancy at all), I need my body to be strong.  And if I am going to be a good role model for these future babies, the lesson of treating your body like a temple is one I’d like to teach.  So, I’ll start trying to master it now.

So there you have it.  Big goals for 29, but I think it will make for a nice challenge.

Do you do anything like this for your birthday?  I’d love to hear your birthday traditions!

May 4, 2011. Tags: , , . Doula Stuff, Friendship, Husband, Uncategorized. 4 comments.