I’ve been working on this damn post for, like, 3 months. Ok. Not that long. But ALL DAY.
1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?
Felt ambivalent about pregnancy. Spent 5 days out of phone contact with my husband (while also super-pregnant, even). Saw my grandma very frail. Bought a major appliance (a fridge). Delivered my baby MYSELF in my living room. Sent my daughters to THIRD grade. Watched my daughters sing a duet (talent show) and a solo (Grandma’s birthday) on a stage in front of a large audience. Parented four children. Met Ina May Gaskin, while wearing my own homebirthed baby in a moby wrap.
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I made a To Do in 2011 list, but then I promptly found out I was pregnant, started 3ish months of barfing my guts out several times a day, and then had about 4 days of feeling “normal” before I started having contractions every time I moved. And so I made the To Do list and then basically never looked at it again.
My list for this year is:
*Pay off our credit card.
*Become physically fit enough that I like my body and have more energy.
*Plan a gathering for some internet friends.
*Re-do one room in this house that still has wallpaper or that needs painting.
*Have a garden this summer.
*Learn how to can.
*Find a photography class that will actually teach me something. (Suggestions?)
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes, lots of people! ME, for one, OBVS. Also, my new and dear friend had a sweet little guy about a month before Olive was born. My dearest MoMommy had a baby about a month after I did. Maggie delivered a few weeks after me as well and whenever she writes about HER baby, I swear she’s writing about MINE. Lots of other internet folks had babies this year, and we’ve all found each other over on twitter, talking about sleep deprivation, teething, etc. The internet makes my life so much better, I swear to GAWD.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
No, but my grandma gave us a scare. I’m so so so happy she recovered completely. Also, she wasn’t close to me, but my grandma’s sister (my great-aunt) lost her battle with cancer this year. She died while I was in my last midwife appointment before going into labor, and her funeral took place WHILE I was giving birth. It was a beautiful, happy-sad, “life is a circle” sort of experience.
5. What countries did you visit?
I barely left the STATE, for crying out loud. Like I said last year: I think we need to band together and STRIKE this STOOPID QUESTION from the list.
6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
This is what I wrote last year:
Well, maybe a baby? Or at least, on my way to having a baby? Or at least, some clarity about the situation, some peace about the decision, and the ability to move on from it all. Also, I’d like to meet some of my blogging friends this year.
I think we can consider that one done and DONE, don’t you?
What do I want this year? Hmmm. I guess the main thing is that I want to regain the strength I lost while pregnant, as well as become healthier all around. I also still want a MOTHERFUCKING FENCE, as I’ve stated every year since moving into this house in 2005. THIS IS MY YEAR, BISHES.
Also, I really wanted a garden this year, but we never got around to it (pregnant! contracting all the time!). So I think 2012 is the year for a garden as well.
7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
I always remember my girls’ birthdays fondly. And September 2nd – our 11th anniversary as well as the day Olive was born– is seared into my brain forever and ever amen. You can read her birth story here.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Birth. Specifically overcoming all the fear and anxiety I had about childbirth, looking into myself, and trusting my body to birth my baby without intervention. Hiring a midwife and leaving all the worrying about my health and baby’s health to HER was huge. Finding peace about delivering my baby, doing what I could to make sure it was a healthy, happy experience, and leaving the rest to my skillful midwife(s) and God/fate* was a big step, and I am so glad that I was able to do that.
Pregnancy is mind-blowing to me as well. I don’t care if it’s your first or tenth baby, but growing an ENTIRE PERSON in your body- someone who will grow up and have a life independent of you, is… well, it’s HUGE. Of course, actually GIVING birth was a pretty big deal too.
[*What I mean by God/fate was whether or not I would indeed be able to deliver at home. We of course would have transferred to the hospital if needed, not simply relied on God/fate to help us through any situation.]
9. What was your biggest failure?
I have some guilt about how IMMOBILE I was while pregnant, and how unfair that was to my other kids. I continue to have more than my fair share of regretful parenting moments, moments when I’m not even CLOSE to acting like my best-self, moments when no matter how wretched the girls are acting, they deserve better than I treated them, and I continue to feel bad about that. I DO try to be better all the time, with varying amounts of success… but man, parenting is harder- way, waaaaay harder- than anyone or anything can prepare you for. And not just that around-the-clock baby stuff. Older kids are just as exhausting at times, in a totally new and different way. And it matters MORE how I react because they’ll actually REMEMBER. SIGH.
I also have not taken enough time for myself for writing since Ollie was born. I miss writing, and I miss commenting on all of your writing, and I hope to do more of both this year.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I had a terrible illness last winter while pregnant, and I had plenty of pregnancy induced vomiting and other woes, but other than that, it was a healthy year.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
I know I didn’t “buy” her, but deciding on faith (well, faith as well as lots of research/self-education) to hire a midwife (out of pocket $$ since insurance probably won’t cover it) (we’re still working on that with them, but we’ll be surprised if they do), was easily the best money we spent.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
All of the people who were there for me during my pregnancy, showing support, listening to me whine about my junky uterus. All of the people there at the birth of Olive, for each one was exactly what I needed that day. Friends that brought food upon food, helped with the kids, watched my birth video with me, and made us feel loved. My big girls for transitioning so effortlessly into a family of 6 with us. David, for many reasons, including supporting me through that terrible pregnancy and supporting my (our) decision of how to birth this baby.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Well, the whole Penn State thing really makes one lose faith in humanity, no?
Also, I have some ongoing issues with a few members of my family. I’ve lost respect for a few, and some others really need to pull their heads out of their asses and GROW UP and deal with shit like every other adult does.
14. Where did most of your money go?
House, taxes, food, bills, all that was involved in pregnancy and a new baby.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Olive. Homebirth. David getting a new job that pays more and has benefits (more on this in the future). Seester having a baby (she’s due this month)!
16. What song will always remind you of 2011?
Both the Adele album and the Mumford and Sons album were loved by all around here. Also, the playlist for Olive’s birth was perfect. David was in charge of music and he kept everyone humming along to Indigo Girls, Dar Williams and the like all day.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? I’m happier. David and I were coming off of a long disagreement about having another baby, and it was soul-sucking and depressing to be at odds with him. Obviously, we had another baby, and now that whole issues seems very far away. Olive is OLIVE and she’s here and she’s ours and there’s just no other way that was supposed to turn out, in either of our eyes. I’m so very happy to be back on the same side of life with my husband.
b) thinner or fatter? I had a baby, so there.
c) richer or poorer? Richer. Or at least we will be. David’s new job is responsible for this.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
I am a very thankful person, in my heart, but I don’t think I express that thanks nearly enough.
I also wish I’d done more commenting on blogs, emailing friends back, returning phone calls, etc.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Looking at my computer screen instead of turning my attention to my children when they needed me. Snapping at my kids and husband when I’m crabby. Rushing the kids out the door when it’s MY fault that I didn’t give them enough time to leisurely get ready to leave.
20. How did you spend Christmas?
Reluctantly, we went to Rapid City. I’m glad we did, despite the work and stress of GETTING there with four kids, one of whom HATES her carseat, and despite my brother (the jerky one) throwing a temper tantrum and verbally insulting me.
My favorite memory of Christmas this year was ice skating as the sun set on Christmas Day. It was beautiful and cozy with mild weather and I wore my baby in a sling and stood around a fire pit while the kids raced around the rink with their cousins, aunts, uncles, and my dad. My mom was there too, and I’m glad we’ve come to a place where they will both agree to show up without it being a big deal.
21. Did you fall in love in 2011?
Yes, of course I did, with my sweet girl Olive. And with David. David gave me a card on the day Olive was born (as it was also our 11th anniversary) that said how much he was glad that she had arrived, and how much he loved her and me, and how he perhaps wasn’t as excited about a fourth child like I was (and I even had my doubts at times), but that he was SO GLAD she was here now, just as she was supposed to be. It was the best card I’ve received, ever.
I also fell in love, fiercely, with each of my bigger girls, all over again. Having a baby makes me naturally push my bigger kids away for awhile, and that’s important so that I can focus on my own healing and bonding with the new baby. But coming back to them, falling for them again, is so wonderful. They are really great girls, each one of them, and I can’t believe that they are mine, at least for a short time.
22. What was your favorite TV program?
I’m still watching Parenthood and Grey’s (though I’m currently behind on both). I also puffy pink heart LOVE Modern Family and Raising Hope.
23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
I wrote this last year:
No, but I do have a… situation that has far too much power over me. I’d really like to come to a place of peace about it.
This situation STILL has some power over me, but I’m working on it. Also, there have been some significant changes in this area which I think will go MILES and MILES in making the whole thing better.
24. What was the best book you read?
I loved Cutting for Stone, State of Wonder, Imperfect Birds, Half Baked, Running with Scissors, and Birth Matters. I just finished Divergent last night and loved it as well. (I’m getting better at keeping a list of what I’ve read, besides just book club selections. You can see it under my “what I’m reading” tab at the top of this page.)
25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Adele was new to us this year, and we all love her, even the girls. (It’s always great when you can find music that’s not “kid music” but that everyone loves. (What else should I be listening to?)
26. What did you want and get?
A baby, peace about said baby, a 50mm lens for my camera, a necklace with all FOUR of my girls names on it, my grandma to get better and return to her ol’ self, a visit from East Coast Anne (though not nearly long enough), a homebirth, to wear a new baby in a wrap again, close to my skin, close enough to smell the top of the baby’s head, David’s new job, and a really lovely recovery from birth.
27. What did you want and not get?
A fence, a garden, a new bed, and enough money to fly all my girlfriends to Hawaii for a week.
28. What was your favorite film of this year?
Bridesmaids comes to mind, mostly because I haven’t laughed like that at a movie in a long time.
29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Same as last year. I turned 36 (eeps!) in July. David ordered me a cake from the local Bistro and had my girlfriends over.
30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
An easier pregnancy, hands down.
31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?
Recycled Maternity Clothes From My 2006 Pregnancy, With Clearance Old Navy Maternity Thrown In For Good Measure.
32. What kept you sane?
My people absolutely kept me sane. It’s such a blessing to have them to share this whole “raising kids” experience with, not to mention getting through a hard pregnancy with their support and love.
My OB, and his willingness to do those weekly sonograms just to be sure that my cervix was not being affected by all those damn contractions.
My midwives (my midwife always hires an assistant) for their calm confidence, which gave me confidence.
My doulas for just BEING there. I seriously love them.
33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
For awhile Marin was very into watching Enchanted, and I have to admit to becoming very… well, enchanted with Amy Adams.
34. What political issue stirred you the most?
I was involved with the local election (and the PASSING of the school levy). Olive went to her first referendum meeting when she was about 5 days old. I was so, so, soooooo glad when it passed. Health care, abortion, gay marriage also continue to get me all fired up. (Related: it’s 2012, now, folks. Let’s make this the year of Getting Our Heads Out Of Our Asses, shall we?)
35. Who did you miss?
I missed me, all that time when I was pregnant and couldn’t move without misery. It really sucked, and I really missed being active on all those beautiful summer days. I also missed all those wonderful people in my life that don’t live close enough to see every week. And I’ll never stop missing East Coast Anne. I think even if she lived next door, I’d miss her when we weren’t together.
36. Who was the best new person you met?
Olive easily wins this award. And I was (still am!) so shocked that she arrived 9 days early. I thought for SURE I’d go over my due date.
37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.
I’m not a secretive person, but I learned this year that it’s ok to keep certain things- big things, even- to myself. I don’t “owe” everyone an explanation, and I don’t HAVE to be forthcoming with details if doing so is not healthy for me. Keeping our plans to have a homebirth on the down-low was absolutely the best decision for us, and specifically for me and my own mind frame/mental health going into birth.
I also learned that what I needed- what I’ve needed all along- to birth is to be left alone to do what came naturally. I am positive that if I had “tried” to labor in the hospital, I would have “failed” and had another Csection, because of all their rules. The hospital setting took me too much out of myself, during a time that I needed to be very internally focused. Birth is very personal and very private, and for me those two things were crucial to my ability to deliver naturally.
A unmedicated birth also made me very proud of what I’m able to accomplish. It’s true what they say, that natural childbirth can be a very empowering experience.
38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
“…and I think to myself, what a wonderful world.”
2011 was pretty kind to us, in the long run. I’m really grateful for all the blessings I have, mostly in the form of people and friendships and relationships that make my life so very much better, every day of the year.