Poetic Empathy for Moms of Autism

I had to come up with something, even if i was just going to share it with myself. Something poetic if only to justify my day to myself.

photo (27) It’s not you, it’s me.

Ruckus destroyed a project.
The Brainiac and Big Sister had been working on for hours.
This happened while they were both downstairs working on their responsibilities in our home… one ironing and one loading dishes. They were being GOOD, and obedient, pleasantly working without complaint.  They didn’t deserve their work destroyed yet here we are.

Same story, different day.

So I go through the routine, but he doesn’t get it today any more than he did yesterday or the day before. There is no remorse because there is no empathy. There is no click in his brain of understanding that he has ruined their work or why they are upset.  He needed those legos.  Now.  That is all that exists to him.

Ruckus is a sensitive kid. He is caring and loving and full or emotions.  They just don’t work on the same level of awareness that the majority has.  So we work on this. Often.

How do we do it? How do we show the heart of the matter to these little ones who don’t have the capacity to put themselves in the place of others. They don’t “do” outside their own box well. Their box of understanding is as intriguingly limitless and bursting with potential as it is small and restricting, to those of us who can’t see inside of it.
His heart is there.
His feelings are there.
They are boxed up.
He sees what he did. He recognizes that it was not ok.  It is done and he has moved on to something else. His logic tells him to do the next thing.  The whole incident is outside of his box now. It’s up to me to work it back into his frame of reference.

So we worked through that today. For awhile.  I see glimmers of hope and I know we’ll get there. Not today, not next week, but I have seen the amazing other side of these people, the ones who surf a different spectrum of viewing life. I know my son will turn out as a wonderful man.   God made him to be. Without a doubt.

It just requires some serious dedication from everyone in our family and everyone around us. To work inside a box, and also nudge him outside of his box.

Still, sometimes as moms of spectrum surfers we need an outlet, if only to blow off some steam in a different direction that doesn’t point toward our kids. Steam can burn. We all no that.
We need to let it go in a way that doesn’t close them in.

Oh. Right.

Back to my opening sentence. I had to think of something. Something to decompress and let go of this situation and the angry response that well up in me, threatening to ruin any headway we have made with the Ruckus.
I did.
It felt good and I’ll share it with you for a little snort and chuckle. Here it is. My garbled attempt at  throwing together a few words, with no time for rhyme or reason.  Just words. My attempt at being one of those clever wordsmith types who throw together phrases that say something important, but not.
A Meme Artist, if you will.
With snorts and the spitting of coffee and rolling on floors type. I want the time to do that. That may never be me. I’m not that funny, yet here is today’s offering. My 15 minutes of free time:

Teaching empathy to an autism surfer is akin to
Climbing an Eiffel Tower constructed entirely of Legos
One leg glued to the other with a mix of glitter glue and E6000 adhesive
Flopping along like a mermaid out of water,  

A weighty sloth on my back.. arms wrapped round my neck twice
Little paws flopped heavily over my eyes.
This would happen, of course, the only way it could,
With my hair bedraggled, no makeup, and teeth unbrushed
Wearing the stained, beat-to-threads kinda dress that is
Only meant to be seen around the house dress, 

 While suddenly finding my nostrils plugged with the baby wipes
The ones left over

from the last time I changed my 8 year old’s diaper,
Which was a really bad one.

Because as you know, if you know me at all, I always smell poop. Every where I go. I smell it.

I think it’s me.
photo (27)

Everyone should own some E6000.  For realz.

When God’s Timing Turns Me Into a Five Year Old, Because Patience Isn’t My Thing

I was not sure if more than five people would read that last post. For someone who hasn’t read what I have put out over the past, I am aware that it doesn’t make sense.  That it may not seem like a big deal or need to be said. For me, it did.
Also, I felt strange and awkward all day like someone who passes gas in a room full of people and then has the audacity to raise their hand and claim it.
Yeah. I did that.
Then they stand there bashfully waiting to see who will gawk and head out the door and who will give the high-fives.

So, if you are reading.  ((high-five)).

I meant to write that blog post months ago. In fact, we had a plan for me to stop taking births last December and prepare for adding foster children to our home.  In the plan was freedom and time to write again. I stopped taking births, for the most part, but then life happened and after all these years of waiting and preparing….

Children didn’t happen last winter.

It wasn’t God’s timing, even if we had planned it with Him in mind, which we did. It wasn’t going to happen on our timeline.

What stinks is everyone and their sister’s best friend and cousin asking how things are going. No, it doesn’t bother me that they ask. It’s being told one more time,

It’s ok, honey… All in God’s timing…
1926658_10151991917923263_1729479179_nIt feels so dismissive, doesn’t it? There is nothing left to say once someone has played the “God’s Timing Card”. As if nothing else matters and nothing else can change this.

That’s because nothing else does and… we can’t change this. We really can’t.

These are not the words I’ve wanted to hear.  In the past I must admit that I have felt good about my ability to adapt to this “God’s Timing” business.  I have practice. Patience may not come naturally to me but I’ve had serious learning sessions.

I tried to marry a guy at nineteen. We had our future planned. I didn’t marry him until we had two years apart, not even knowing if we would speak again. We were married at twenty-three. He still is everything I needed. No way did I understand what I thought I did when we were younger.  The timing was better than mine.

I tried to have a natural birth once, twice, even an third and fourth time.  That first baby was breech with her feet down and would not budge. The second time all was well and only VBAC was discussed, until a car accident that injured my back. Permanently. That next time I was pregnant for almost forty-three weeks.  My last, I labored for forty-three hours, fourteen of that on pit.  Still, all 4 of those kids were c-sections.
I was the one who wanted homebirths. I was up for having 8-10 children.  Surrender makes us whole and changes who we are. I would never be who I am if I hadn’t handed the timing of my other children, and all expectation over to Him.  He knew better and His timing prepared me to serve and encourage other mothers.  I could share my story of surrender and how amazing and powerful letting go can be. His plan was what I needed.

We bought a house that was practically unlivable. The plan was to fix it up  and flip it to make a profit… to move to a farm with many babies. Then Dave Ramsey happened to us. He hit our budget like a wrecking ball and we have never been the same. We are ten and a half years out and still building this house bit by bit.  With cash.
We’re so close.  I’m going to share about that soon.  I can’t imagine having done this any other way, now that we are this far in. I am blown away by the tiny provisions that have kept us present and open with this house project.  We truly are Making Room For More.

We attended a church for eight years. In fact, we moved into the city and bought this little hovel to be a part of the building team to start it.  We were invested. The last four years  of that, I knew we didn’t  belong there. We love the people. We still visit and hold them dear.  But I knew to my core that we were not where God wanted us. I tried to leave. I begged my husband to leave. I had to wait for him to feel it, too.  It took four long years. Four.
The thing is that we never would have ended up where we are, if we had left when I asked to.  I felt anger and frustration, and that is what made me want to leave.  I didn’t understand that was God asking me to look for more and that it wasn’t about the situations as much as His plan to make me uncomfortable so I would give up on looking at people and search for the bottom line of finding Him. We joked about trying any and all kinds of denominations, in hopes of finding what He really wanted. If I went back all those years and told myself that it would be Catholic… I would have side-eyed myself and ran away.  For realz.  That took time. I am thankful for those years. We are where we are called to be.

I’ve done surrender in so many ways, with a heaping serving of Extreme Patience Makeover. I have felt like a veteran of this “all in God’s timing” business.  I thought I had it down.  Heck, I even thought I had reached a point of enjoying the unpredictability of it all.  I was all for it.


I was wrong.  I’m still learning it. Still growing. Because in this case, I don’t like it.

At. All.

We had expected to be ready and approved over the last winter for adopting through DFCS. At least we had hoped to be. The reality is that we have gone about this in such a different way than most foster families would. Our big plans and preparation are what have dictated this longer timeline.

It’s the house. Again.

You see, we started with a 2 bedroom/1 bath bungalow of 1150 square feet.  We have added 3 bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms, an office, a laundry room, a reading nook and a storage room.  It’s substantial. It totals 1350 square feet in addition to the original house.

Why does this matter? That’s not about the adoption…

But it is.

The addition is new construct. For us to be approved to home foster children or adoptive children, we have to have a Certificate of Occupancy  from the city.  See, that would not have been a big of a deal if we had simply been renovating a home. Oops.

That is why you may know people who have done this and did it quickly. That is why our process may look confusing, long and drawn out from the outside looking in. Even dramatically so.

Yes. I am aware that I can be dramatic. Especially about this.

Once we have that approval, we are likely to have children within weeks, even days. It’s just getting that little piece of paper, and that requires passing every inspection, even the big final one. It even excavating/landscaping the back yard.  Really.

I have friends who have listened to me rage about this. I do’t know how they put up with me. I try not to, but I feel the pout and whine come on like an expectant mama who just wants that wait over and to feel the baby in her arms. I haven’t been doing the patience as well as I should.

Friends get stuck seeing my grouchy-mama face. Often.

Thankfully, I have good friends. They are so gracious.

Ultimately, we really are not that far off track. I should be thrilled. And I am. Really I am. God’s timing seems to be about a year after what we pictured.  That doesn’t sound that bad, right? Yet it has been an up and down year of releasing our plans and trusting him, only to pick up the timeline again and forge forward with everything we have. And I mean everything.

I am Verruca Salt. I want it NOW!!

It’s not that I just want my way, and I see these children and something for ME. It’s not a selfish need for another baby. It’s that, just like a woman who is growing a baby… I am expecting.

In August of 2012 I had a earth shaking realization, a moment that hit my like a Crossfiter’s biggest kettlebell and settled with a vice grip on my heart that still remains.
I was sitting with Lil Bit playing and dreaming of her as a big sister and what that would look like. That is when it happened.

I did the math.

As I held my three year old, I realized that if we were looking at welcoming a newborn and 2-3 year old in 2 years… Now mattered.
Suddenly reality ran through my veins like an earthquake. Thunder and lighting, racing pulse. Eyes wide open.

My. Child. Could. Already. Be. Born.

My heart almost exploded and the room spun around me.  It was all at once as thrilling and as terrifying as seeing two lines after peeing on a stick. It was real.  Once I knew it, I could not undo it. A fierceness came over me that moves me forward. The whole family  feels the empty space of where those children will be.

My prayers changed. I pray for our children differently. Feverishly.  I hold my breath on holidays wondering if they have been born, if someone said “I love you” today. And if they are somewhere, who is holding them?   Is anyone? It’s cold out, are they warm?  Are they hungry?

And the one that really gets to my mama heart,

Is someone hurting them?

This is hard.

It is one thing to be waiting on a baby who is safe and sound in my uterus.  Now, I have no idea.  In all reality, considering the statistical odds… our children are not likely to be safe and sound.  We can’t do anything for them, but get this house done.

We have chosen not to go through lists of children available for adoption. There will be no adoption books to look at, and our family won’t make a cute display of ourselves to show. It is a completely different process. We don’t get to choose.

We will prepare our home to treat children like gold.  Like the royalty they are, as precious little souls with potential for greatness.

We will get a call and have only hours to pray, decide and prepare. We will take who we are given. We will fill the need.

But in doing that, we will be opening our arms to children who are hurt. They almost HAVE to be hurt to end up in the broken system that we have chosen to go through. The system that will bring them to us.  They will be removed from their natural parents. They won’t have a choice. Those parents may not have a choice.
What keeps me up at night, scheming for ways to get this house done faster, is knowing that pain and hurt will happen, for them to actually make it to our home. Pain, rejection, confusion. Abuse.   We can’t save them from that. We just have to wait to catch them when they fall into our open arms.

And it rips at me heart, but only in a way that keeps me bringing it back to God and begging him to get with the plan and hurry up. But he won’t and I know that is best. He knows that it’s best. I need to get with HIS plan.

There is some incredible good in the last year of unexpected waiting. Now that I’ve put away my pouting, I’m aware that we needed this.

Two years ago we were completely focused on the adoption aspect of this.  Now our hearts have shifted to openness for fostering to be the main goal, always with the hope that adoption is welcome.  That is a huge shift.

We are prepared to lose these children.

Do you want to know why?

I realized that they could be alive. They were having a life that I was not a part of and I could not be there for them. Do you know what that means?

It’s not about me. It’s not my story. The story belongs to these children.
It. Is. Their. Story.

So what will it feel like if we have children who are returned to their biological families after six months… after a year… what will we do?
We will cry. We will ache.  We will thank God that we got to be a part of their story, because someone was going to be.
If their story was that they would go back, it’s not about us. That is out of our control. If they were going to have that six months or a year somewhere, anywhere… it could have been with a different family. And it could have been horrible.   Maybe they will be returned to an environment that is still tragic. Maybe their future will still hold abuse that we cannot protect them from.
They still had that time. All we have is that time.  We can’t control their story. We can only present ourselves as available for them and hold an openness to loving on all terms.

Short term or long term. We are wide open for that.

These are the things we have learned, that we have processed through in this extra time.  We’ve wrestled and prayed.  We’ve waited. We’ve built a home and we are almost there.

We can now predict to have children in three to six months.

And it is safe to assume that they are alive now. Someone is.

So please don’t wait. Pray with me. Pray for them now.
And pray for all the others. The ones who won’t fit into our home.

Pray that we get this together and ready for them.  Pray that we will be strong and open when the call comes for children to be at our door in a few hours.

Because, that’s all going to happen.

In God’s timing…

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Pregnant and In Love – The Pitfalls of Crushing on Your Care Provider

Losing Your *IT* vs. Saving Grace (5 Thinks I’ve Learned Through 7 Years of Poop)

Hello, My Name Is…

How do I start…

No, how do I pick back up. What do I pick back up?

That’s the problem with juggling hats, you see. I have so many and I love them all.  I hold them close, I spin them in the air. I store them in the closet.  And sometimes, I crush them because hats do crush so easily, after all.

Woman, wife, mama,  homeschooler, friend, designer,  crunchy, fancy, creative, maker, baker, picture taker, writer, artist, trainer, teacher, chauffeur, birth doulam volunteer, problem solver, coach,  foster mom, bio mom, adoptive mom, cheerleader, realist, dreamer….


I don’t know which one to wear for you you. What comes first? What do I put up in the closet for next season?  Actually, why am I wearing a hat when I hate the way things feel on my head?

All that.
Running through my head.
For months now. Years, actually.
Stepping out in a funky hat takes some serious chutzpah.
How long does dauntless take, to become a habit?

Over the years I have had six different blogs. They have all been topic specific and  I have never just blogged as me, with my name.  As open and honest as I have always been, putting my name out there was something different. I orten did it anonymously or with a pen name.
She was braver than I, always.

It has taken until now to give myself permission to embolden from the ground up.  Let me tell you why.

I have blogged off and on for several years. Behind a keyboard pouring out my heart,  vulnerable to the point of flooding my face with tears and snot, only to panic and take it back frantically making those juicy tell-all posts private.

I’ve bared my soul, my history, and my body image. Then made it anonymous because it hurts. 

It hurts to have women and moms tell me that I inspire them,  and then have the someone I see day-to-day scoff and tell me I’m ridiculous. It’s that one that gets me, stabs and slays me, no matter if a dozen thank me. Why am I so weak?

It gets tiring to be the elephant in the room, especially when you’re the one willing to unpack your trunk. Haha…trunk. See what I did there?

The more I mull it over, the less likely I am to ever do this. So,  I’m gonna be real here and just…start typing.

But it’s ok. I’m ready.

I am not going to do fear and loathing anymore. I just won’t. I’m not going to make excuses for how people feel and worry if I am just “too much” for them. They did not even ask me to. I put that on myself.

I’m going to hash out a few things right now, before I start the baby-steps-back-into-blogging. I’ve been holding off on letting this out, trying to decide which way to go, what route to write…

I’m going to start with answering how I feel about me, before I put me in front of you on a silver platter to pick apart and mull over…in case anyone cares to do that picking business.

“You’re too intense.”

I am thankful for my God given intensity. I’m sorry if it stuns you and makes you uncomfortable. Nine times out of ten I’m thanked for being encouraging and challenging growth in someone. I refuse to take that one outlying opinion and mull it over in my head for days as a failure anymore. I’m not going to spend so much time if I have been wrong all along, over one opinion.  It’s ok. You’re allowed to read someone else’s blog. From now on, I’m me. All of me.Take me or leave me. Really… you are welcome to leave before this gets real. And I am not kidding here. Please. Feel free to read someone else’s blog.

“You’re too passionate.”

I am blessed by the gift of passion. Once in a small group we were supposed to go around the room and say what we are passionate about. I wasn’t sure. The minute I said that out loud someone piped in,
“You are passionate about parenting and family!”  
“You are passionate about supporting women!”
“You are passionate about sewing and clothes!”
“You are passionate about cooking!
“You are passionate about homeschooling and DIY stuff!”
Let’s just call it, y’all. It’s not that I have one thing. It’s everything.
I. Am. Passionate.  
There ya go.

Passion for my family. I am blown away by my husband and children and aim for growth in every day we have together. I’ve blogged about parenting  and love sharing that part of my heart. I do that because we all can do it better, not because I think that *I* do it better. I want to share that walk with you and with all the parents swimming through the sea of controversy in parenting. Staying above water is a struggle and we are constantly hit by tidal waves.
I do not share about parenting because I am bitter. It is because I am learning, and I love to learn! My mama taught me that. I do not challenge parenting standards because my parents were horrible. I parent differently than them. I absolutely do, unashamedly. When I blog about it, it has the potential to hurt feelings. They have told me so, and I absolutely understand why it would be uncomfortable. I feel confident enough to discover new ways because they taught me to. I owe that to my parents for homeschooling me and teaching me to teach myself. They are as amazing as they are imperfect, which is where the beauty lies. By that they have taught me that I can be equally imperfect and amazing, in being me.

Passion for the beauty of a woman’s body and its beauty in style,  in pregnancy and in birth.
Over the years I have had the great job of encouraging and supporting women to have a birth surrendered to truth. Truth is different for each birth. But don’t act like I’m a werewolf at a babyshower. Please. I’m ok with you loving your birth, however it was. Be ok with me encouraging others toward something that may be different. I’ve seen about 250 of them over six years. If there is one thing I know, her birth is not about YOU, and it’s not about ME. So… let me speak.
And then there’s my whole modesty mantra. Look… I’m basically a modest nudist. I like to be naked. But my spirit won’t let me. God won’t let me, ya know? I follow that still small voice that tells me what to wear. I’m going to tell you about it, and why I will champion the cause of modesty, yet dress as a “Modesto Incognito”.

Passion is a powerful part of my faith. Passion has lead me to places from which fear would have kept me. Passion left me dissatisfied with a mediocre faith based on popular Christianity and drove me to stand firm in searching for the Truth and the Light. It brought me to somewhere I never, never expected… The Catholic Church.

What?!?!? Did she just say Catholic?
She did. She said it. She did it.
She’s Catholic? What the what? Since When?
It’s ok. I love Jesus. Jesus loves Catholics.
Oh man, she’s gonna talk about Catholic.

Yep, I’m going to tell you about that… because it’s Jesus. I love to share Jesus. Stick around or don’t. That’s totally up to you. I free you from it if it bothers you. I mean, it’s all Jesus and you can read and not be Catholic… but I am. I found my freedom in it. So much freedom that it blows me away.

“You are so judgmental… “

Please understand that I make judgement calls. It’s what God asks of us, and I prayerfully try to toe the line of judging sin and not the heart and soul of a sinner, other than myself.  I’m not judging you by making a judgment call on what I believe to be a healthy standard. My choice is not about you. Also, I constantly encourage others to search their hearts and find that sound judgment that is there. It’s not what you think it is, and our culture and society is doing everything they can to destroy our good judgement.

“Nobody can make everything from scratch and do all that healthy stuff. I could never do what you do. “

Really, that’s fine. I can’t even do what people think I do. I love to make things myself. I also love ordering pizza, and I miss that option in my life. So there.

I love treating bodies well, nourishing them with whatever is wholesome and caring for them on a daily basis. But you may not believe me. You may think I’m a liar because…. gasp….

I had WEIGHT LOSS SURGERY!!!  Give me a few weeks and I’m going to explain to you in about 100 ways why that was NOT the easy way out. I promise. It’s hard. Especially when you’ve been known as a health freak for years…Yes, me. I did this… gasp…. Just wait. I’ll tell it all.

“I can’t believe you would tell people that! You know, that thing you just said.”

What, the truth?

Listen, I’m all about healthy boundaries. As a professional birth doula I am trained and experienced at following strict guidelines and HIPPA privacy regulations. It’s second nature. I was an HR manager with 900 employees when I was 22 years old. I can be diplomatic and discrete. I can poker face to the enth degree. That doesn’t mean that I can’t share failures and lessons I’ve learned, myself, in hopes that the experience can be used to help others. It’s part of who I am. To share. To support. To hold myself open to ridicule so that someone else can feel that they aren’t alone. I do that. Often.

I could go on and give you 100 things people have said to me about things I have written in the last nine years. I have the rebuttals ready. I think this is enough for you to get the idea, right? Right.

Moving on.

I’m starting fresh, from scratch and that may be with five readers instead of what I have enjoyed in the past. If you are reading this and you can see where I am going, it is worth it to me.

You want to know what all of this rambling is about? In a nutshell, it is a coming out in the light of day. I’ve spent years trying to hide ME behind a purpose or topic… every. time. I. write.

Because the real me, the whole me, was too much for people. Because Jesus wants us to see Him, not us. So I had to hide that for Him, right? Isn’t that required?
I  named blogs different things and kept them separate. At one point I had 5 at once, compartmentalized by different topics so the topic was what you saw. You aren’t supposed to see me.

I can’t maintain that. I can’t hide behind the banners and the goals anymore and say that they are what is important and I’m to be as invisible in the process as possible. I’ve refused to use my name in most of my blogging. I thought that was doing “Humility” correctly.

It wasn’t.

It was letting the fear of others cripple my heart. I let them hold back the baring of my soul, and if there is one thing I have known since I was a child, it is that God gave me a soul that is intense and passionate… that loves to DIY for everything… and he wants me to bare my soul. He gave me a crazy one… to share it. Yes.. bare… naked. Like that.

I was afraid.

Now I am not. So this is all about taking a deep breath and for the first time presenting me. All in one place. All my randomness. All my depth. It’s ok for my blog to be about me. Who I am is ok. That can be useful.

Most of all,  I want to share all that I’m meant to be… with you. To believe and know that I AM worth seeing and knowing. I don’t have to hide behind the words that flow from me, yet I don’t have to give them up to be something that I’m not. I can do both.

And if I’m worth reading.
I am worth seeing as a whole.

If I am,
That means you are, too.

But first, I have to tell you about me.

Bare and openly yours,

Talitha Cumi Seibel



Losing Your *IT* vs. Saving Grace (FIVE things I've learned through 7 years of poop)

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Last week was one of those. A week that sapped us of sleep, and strength. Of two cars with issues that drained the bank  just like they did last month.  Of many things broken in this house.

My mug, known by all as an extension of my arm and used every day.
My mug, known by all as an extension of my arm and used every day.

My favorite cofffee mug, used 50x a day.
My mug, this week.  Followed by my favorite tea cup and my grandmother’s porcelain ash tray. All in a week.

I sighed, I felt disappointment… deeply struggled with the inner beast… but no children were broken and that is something, if you consider how close I was to edge of my walk in grace.  That fine line where the sidewalk ends in this walk with my Guide. Sometimes, he’s just gonna have to carry me, because I can’t take a step.
I teetered on the edge for a minute there, but I took a deep breath. I’ve been here before more times than I could ever recall enough detail to relate to you. It’s that often.   I can scream with the best of them. I can stomp and slam doors and rage to high heaven.  I have, and sometimes I do, but I’m finding that it’s not as often anymore and that this grace that is said to be sufficient… it actually is if you let it be.  I wonder how I got to the place where suddenly I’m choosing grace over rage more often than not. Especially when current circumstances would predict otherwise, based on past experiences and outbursts from my inner godzilla.
I suppose it could be a phase. It could be my constant expose to the need for it, and the scarred knees from falling over and getting back up, over, and over, and over, and…
I think, like many of my other blog posts will tell you, God likes to teach me how not to lose my **IT** by giving me many opportunities.  Hundreds of them. Could it be that I’m finally getting the message?
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Here are a few things I’ve learned in my  battle between choosing a saving of  Grace or a losing of **IT**.
1. WHEN I RAGE AGAINST THE GRACE. The rage does not heal and it does not put back together my pieces of broken things…the mug I love and the heirloom that I never used anyway. It was beautiful and special, but what need to I REALLY have for my grandmother’s ash tray?  No, crossing the line won’t bring the things back. Any of the things. It simply breaks and bends more things around me, and the next in line tends to be my children.
2.  BE PREPARED, IT WILL KEEP HAPPENING. I, alone, choose my focus, to be aware of where I am and who I am to them.  To accept the truth that it is not a question of IF I will ever be on the edge of losing it again, but WHEN.  We have to stop  crossing our fingers and hoping for days where we are not tested. Let’s simply agree to accept as fact that we will be. We should even PREDICT that today we will be, and the real question is which way we will step. After it all, I know what happens when I cross over from this field of grace to  the release of anger. The grass is not greener on the other side.  Sure, there is some bizarre feeling of release in that short moment of Losing **IT** that I can try to convince myself  feels “good” to let go of.  It’s not good. It creates a wasteland in tiny hearts around me.  Angry, selfish parenting…making our children’s mistakes and struggles about US and our day is self-centered and excludes their needs. This is THEIR day, too. I do not own it.
3.  I CAN’T CHOOSE THEIR OUTCOME.  My kids are individuals, who also choose their own opinion and response to my behavior.  I can not guarantee that they will not reach adulthood feeling cracked  and warped from being in our care.  I do not choose to parent with Grace in hopes of creating perfectly behaved little people and adults that will give me a great reputation. I do it to give them an example of giving in, of choosing grace even when you don’t want to.  Their perception of their childhood is their own and I can’t control how they process our moments together, the good or the bad.  Many a child has felt wounds from parents who struggled to be their best but all are human and all fail.   I can’t choose their reaction to us. That is theirs. I just want to be by their side in their life, which is where God has put me.  Just what I asked for!!!  And how I treat them will dictate how these children will trust me and want me beside them in the future, when it become THIER choice to call me…or not.  Their future decisions about me start with how I care for them now.  Their future decisions on when to run to grace and when to lose their own **IT** will conjure up memories of a mom. What do I want them to remember?
4. I CAN’T CHOSE CIRCUMSTANCES, BUT MY RESPONSE IS MY CHOICE. And that’s good because some of our current circumstances are much less than I had hoped.  I still have my choice. I choose my actions, right now. I can refuse to cross over when I know I’m there at the edge of control, the steam rising before my eyes.  When I have that split second of awareness, that moment of saving grace or losing my **IT**.   A still small voice says “breathe”, but do I want to stomp my foot and scream “No!”?  That point of no return where I either “Hulk” their mom before their eyes and turn green in the face, or fall back onto grace that will save me from myself and what that ability to rage inside me is capable of.  Dear God, why did you have to make it so easy to go green? Moms would be so much better with your kids if you made us a little more Stepford.  Just kidding. Thank you SO MUCH for not making me a Stepford!
5. I AM NOT THE **IT**, IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT ME. Last week wore on more than just me.  Each day had it’s something for him.  Husband flew away and flew back. Locked keys in the car and had to walk miles.  He worked late every night except for the night that his car gave us fits and I had to drive across town to get him. That was his only “early” night at 9:30pm.  Then the weekend came with no rest but  side jobs to fill in for those ends that aren’t meeting at the end of this month. Then the man had hours upon hours of working on the cars and fixing his wife’s laptop so that she can write and share our the innermost whatever of our lives. This man is amazing. How did he happen to me? He wears shoes like this to work on the cars. I find myself in a lack of content because I haven’t got the color I want my shoes to be. Dumb woman. I want my eyes open. I’m only alone in this when I close them to these things.
He spent hours in these this weekend.
He spent hours in these this weekend.

And after all of that, a week filled with so much struggle, it was also the most filled with grace and a surrounding of prayer and precious moments with children.  I was filled with utter shock, to be honest, and then joy at how often I found myself turning away from the edge of hysteria and losing of **IT**.  I did it! I found it!  I may not always, but I feel strength for tomorrow from what I accomplished in my heart last week. Looking back, I wonder, did I really make it through without one outburst?
I’ll take it, but I’m not applying for any awards ceremonies.  Because that was just one week. Now there’s this one and I’m not one to take bets on the future.  Just taking each day as it comes, thank you very much.
This morning, things were sailing along smoothly, for a Monday.  All were fed and dressed with bags packed and lunches made for  our two out-of-home-schoolers.  The homeschoolers were ready to begin. It’s a new week and the last one is behind me. Then after we settle in,  husband walks back in the front door with the 7 year old.  Ladies, toddlers aren’t the only ones who wait until the last minute to go in their diaper and make you late.  For those of us who are still in this diaper business with older kids….**IT** still happens. So, there I stood once again. He will be late for school, again. So will his sister.  Because of a load of **IT**.  And I’m not feeling the extreme edge of anger that I could, but I know this is another of those cross over moments.  Mondays are already hard days, do we really have to start with **IT**? Yes, apparently we do and I don’t get a choice about that. **IT** already happened.
My choice now is in how I respond. So I walk my big boy to the bathroom trying to convince him that he DID go, but he doesn’t believe me because he doesn’t feel it or smell it. He doesn’t understand. We go through the routine, again.  And I know my words, my expression and my choices will effect how this guy feels about himself as time marches on and he is still in diapers in a year… maybe even two. Third grade? Fourth? He’s the one who has to process this. I’m helping HIM.  I can’t feel sorry for myself to still be dealing with diapers. This is not about me.
And he’s off to school. All taken care of.  Not yelled at or shamed..whew.  I made it through another change.
I’ve washed my hands 8 times. I still smell like **IT**.  Now I don’t want to drink my coffee. Gets my hands too close to my face and ruins it all for me.  Sigh…
I remember complaining when he was 4, unaware that the issue was not stubbornness or laziness. I did thinks like the Extreme Potty Training Makeover.   Why would this kid not potty train!?!?  Now, as he nears the age of 8, and we understand what he faces ( Read: A Boy And His Poop, Getting To Know Asperger Syndrome)  I have to tell you. I am thankful for his issue with  **IT**. Every time I change him is another chance to exercise my soul.  Will I go for saving grace or for losing **IT**.
And here’s the deal. God is so into hilarity. He absolutely knows my sense of humor well and my love for a bit of irony. He has quite literally  used almost 8 years of actual feces to teach me how to not to lose my **IT**.  You’ve gotta admit it.  That is pretty much awesome.  (Want more hilarity? Read: A Pathetic Tale of Miserable Hilarity, And The Quest For A Shower)
So for those of you who have asked “How I do it”, who seem to think that I have something you don’t, be aware that I spent my time Waiting For Supermom. She doesn’t exist.  I, of all people, will never reach a stake of being some kinda Mama Yoda.   And let us not forget, Yoda was 900 years old!!! That’s way more practice than  any of us will ever have.  And there’s something else to consider…..

Notice, you never see them together,  just like Miley  Crunkis and Justin Blueberry…   There may be something to this Yoda vs. Hulk thing.  Saving Grace vs. Losing our **IT**.
I think the answer is in finding the grace that is IT, because it  IS always available. The question is not whether grace exists in our moments of  struggle with **IT**.  His grace is present in ALL of the moments.
The ones leading up to **IT**.
The moment **IT** happens.
The second we choose whether Saving or Losing…. Grace or **IT**.
And ultimately, the grace is still there….. even if you chose to lose your **IT** this time.
It’s there. Always.  You have to choose to know it, see it,  grasp it, cling to it and don’t let go. I pray that it won’t take YOU almost 8 years of daily **IT**… but if that is what it will take, I’m gonna have to pray that you be blessed with lots of **IT**.
Now, while you try to process all of that…. I’m going to go wash my hands again. I really thought I had it gone that last time.  But then, I always do and there’s always more…. Thankful for more…again.
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The Opposite of Failure- Mec Happens- Part 2 of Lil Bit's Birth Story

65025_10200375207403190_1720942416_nI had my first three little ones in 3.5 years.  Memories are like smoke and wind chimes, hard to define anything from those few years really. Any mama who has done the same can attest to the truth in this.  Mostly a happy colorful blur, full of life and vibrancy, but a blur none the less.
Wait, did you miss PART ONE?
Ironically, I grew up suspecting that I may never be able to have bio babies.  I had several reasons for this, but the main one  was the horrible abdominal pain and issues that I suffered since I was a child but no doctor had diagnosed. That’s a long story for another post. Or 5 posts. We’ll get to that someday.
I warned my husband when we were engaged that he may be joining in holy matrimony with a lemon.  As he is clearly the right and perfect choice for me, he didn’t bat an eyelash.  We made plans from the beginning to have a family of adopted children, whether we were given bio babies or not. He new my heart was drawn to adoption, having lived in South America to work with orphaned children on the streets.   No matter how we were blessed with them, we just knew we wanted children. We agreed that our dream come true would be to have both.
That is why it was no surprise that even though we were only 23 when we got married, we decided to “try” before our first anniversary. We didn’t know how long of a road we would have to conceive.  It was only a few weeks our first year  I knew the, ahem, “window” was coming up.
We discussed it and decided to try on a Tuesday.
We….tried…. on Thursday.
We woke up on Friday and decided that maybe waiting 6 months or a year would be better after all.
Too late.   That Thursday night was the only night we have EVER “tried” intentionally in our entire 12 years of marriage.  Infertile? Umm. No. Not even close.  Just our hearts being prepared for the blended family that we will soon have.
I expected not to be able to get pregnant. What I didn’t expect was how hard pregnancy would be on my body.  My mother had 10 children and I grew up surrounded by pregnant women. She never complained about pregnancy.  My sister was pregnant alongside me with her 4th.  She is also amazing, although she does have morning sickness really badly in the beginning.
I was not as prepared as a though. I threw up the entire 9 months. I was throwing up the morning that I went into labor.  We considered homebirth for Big Sister, but that was a fleeting thought. With throwing up 14 times a day, losing tons of weight, episodes of bleeding and contractions starting early in my pregnancy, I went for the “We’ll just have the first in the hospital and then do homebirth.” approach.
No one in my extended family had ever given birth by c-section. I knew a few people who had but I knew nothing about csections. It’s just not what Fowlers do. My mother birthed 10 children. I was an unassisted homebirth, myself.  My sister was double trained as a homebirth midwife (CPM) and also had her masters to deliver in hospitals (CNM).  We’re Fowler women. Birthing babies is our thing. It’s what we do.

With my cousin, Alex, and my Uncle Mike who passed away a few months after this photo. I miss him.
With my cousin, Alex, and my Uncle Mike who passed away a few months after this photo. I miss him.

You need to know this for me to try to explain to you the peace and strength that flooded me at 20 weeks when we had our typical, routine ultrasound.  It made no sense. Everything was perfect. SHE was perfect, and we finally knew her as SHE. Something stood out to me though. Something small and inconsequential it seemed. I looked at the sonographer and said it.
Me: “Wait, she’s breech.”
Sonographer: “Oh honey, we don’t even call it that at this point. She’s just fine.”
Me: “I understand that, but look at her. She is perfectly head up. That looks so strange.”
Sonographer: “You’re right. She really is. Don’t worry too much about it.”
Me: “Oh, I won’t. Lots of time.”
And that was that. Except, it really wasn’t. I didn’t say another word about it to anyone.  I didn’t bring it up again for weeks, but something happened in my heart. It wasn’t scary, or traumatic. It wasn’t devastating or even disappointing. It was, well… we Christian folk would call it a peace that passes understanding and it really was.  Peace surrounded me as I looked at my baby girl on the screen and I just knew. She was going to need a c-section. I had never even considered a c-section or heard the word during my care. I knew that I didn’t need a c-section, but I knew that SHE did.  I saw her and I knew, and in the knowing I was ok.  I knew I could do whatever my child needed, and I wouldn’t do it in fear. I was strong enough for her.
With my cousin's wife and my dear friend since we were 16, happy to be pregnant at the same time!
With my cousin’s wife and my dear friend since we were 16, happy to be pregnant at the same time!

It was my 32 week appointment that I brought it up.  Yes, I was a first time mom, but I knew my body. I knew pregnant bodies. That big lump that hadn’t moved and was absolutely killing the right side of my ribs was my daughter’s head.
Me:  “She’s breech. I think we need to talk about flipping this kid.”
Midwife: ” I just felt her. She’s not breech.”
Me: “Yes she is. That’s her head in my ribs.”
Midwife: “No, that’s her butt.  I’ve felt hundreds and hundreds of bellies. It’s a butt.”
Me: “Come on. Don’t treat me like a first time mom. I dare you to check.  I’ll even bet you $5. It’s a head. That is too round and hard to be a butt.”
This particular midwife happened to know my sister from some midwifery conferences or something they did together, so she had a soft spot for me.  She laughed and agreed to walk me over to the ultrasound room to have a peek.  The second the sonographer put the probe on my belly she exclaimed loudly…
“Oh! That’s her little head up there!”
I never got my $5.  I got some advice on exercises to flip her. Nothing changed.  in the meantime I was dealing with lots of contractions. I know now that I just have a happy, overactive uterus and they were overreacting.  As a doula I’ve seen that happen to many moms.  Anyway…..
At 34 weeks an external cephalic version was suggested. I talked to my sister. She recommended it.  I knew that breech vaginal delivery was an option.  We talked about it. I read about it. It seemed crazy not to use every option available.  That’s how I am about everything. Know all the options…
Praying about it was where the decision was made.  My gut said no.  Every time I considered it, I saw that tiny girl at 20 weeks gestation head up at attention. It looked right for her. It looked like how she was meant to be. I have no other way to describe it, because I make sure that every mom I work with knows of the version for changing a breech.  I didn’t hesitate at all for it with my other children and it was very successful. It was that still small voice, that catch in my spirit that held me back. I would have a c-section for breech.
I ended up on partial bedrest, with meds. I spent my birthday in the hospital getting IVs to stop labor.  That happened a couple of times, actually.
Then December 26th came. I was 38 weeks and 1 day pregnant and my sister was coming to visit from Illinois in all her matching-me-she’s-pregnant-too glory.  I was beside myself. The only thing I ever wanted was my sister and mother to be at my births. Here I was barely 38 weeks and she was coming for 3 days.  Pretty unlikely window of opportunity and I knew it.  I couldn’t blame her though. She came with 3 little ones of her own and was due in 6 weeks. They showed up at 9pm that night, but I insisted that Travis drive me across town to be there when they got in.  I didn’t want to miss a minute with her.
She was so tiny. 6lbs 2oz and 18.5 inches long!
She was so tiny. 6lbs 2oz and 18.5 inches long!

My parents had their church homegroup there that night.  I walked in the door and threw a big hug around her neck but was immediately pulled into the front room by the group of friends who had decided that they were going to pray then-and-there for me to go into labor. Yes, THAT NIGHT.  I laughed.  I mean, who’s going to turn that down?  Let’s go for it.
Sounds pretty inconsequential and I didn’t think a thing of it.  At least, I didn’t until I woke up hardly a few hours later at 4am with the first rockin’-hardcore-contraction of my entire life.  I sat up in bed… I walked to the bathroom… That was no joke, ladies and gentlemen.
I paced outside the bedroom and didn’t wake Mr. Marvelous.  I have found this to be true of all my births. When it happens, I get quiet.  I find myself internalizing…pondering in my heart…wondering in amazement at my body.  Quiet, secretive.
Contractions were short, but serious. I hadn’t really expected this for a few more weeks so I still didn’t believe it. I wasn’t even packed.
So, and I’m not sure that Mr. Marvelous is going to appreciate the overshare…..but when he woke up I didn’t exactly explain anything.  I just, ahem….attacked him.  I was a well educated girl. I knew that sex at the end of pregnancy can be a tool.  I also knew that if this was itthis was it for several weeks.
There. Now you know. Moving on…
At 7:30am I called my parents house and let my mom and sister know that, believe it or not, something was happening. I had an appointment that morning at 9am anyway so we just went on in. Sure enough, dilation had begun. I think they said I was 1cm? All those false alarms before and all that preterm stress…yeah there was never any dilation. Let this be a lesson to you ladies. Contractions happen. They aren’t always labor…
They sent me over the hospital.  We took our time and got breakfast on the way.  Because I was ever doubtful I had sent my man to work and had to call him and tell him to come meet us.  I was that doubtful of it being the real deal.
4pm at 4-5cm and heading to the OR.
4pm at 4-5cm and heading to the OR.

I don’t remember much of the next few hours other than that I wasn’t in a rush. I wanted my body and baby to experience labor and I wanted some dilation to prepare my cervix for next time.  I got that, even though I never hit active/hard labor.  I simply closed my eyes, exhaled in release and then went back to conversation after each contraction.  That was it.  During those hours of labor I lost my plug, I had bloody show and my water broke.  My body knew what to do.   I was 4-5cm when they checked me before my c-section at 4pm.  To be honest, I was still afraid that they would check me, yell “Just Kidding!” and send me home. They did not.
Words can not express my awe in joy at seeing my man fall in love with another girl. Our girl.
Words can not express my awe in joy at seeing my man fall in love with another girl. Our girl.

The c-section went smoothly enough. They played my music. They were respectful.  The epidural was heinous. It took them 7 tries to get it in. I threw up. I was alone with strangers and cold.  I hated it. That was the worst part.
Because my sister was a CNM, they allowed her to join us in the OR for Big Sister’s birth, 34 weeks pregnant in scrubs.
It began. I lay there in wonder that of all people I was having surgery for birth.  And that I had chosen it over other options. And that I was ok with that because my spirit knew it to be right. But I wondered at it all…why was I ok with this?
I had hives, shaking and swelling from the epidural. No surprise with all of my other random allergies. It was horrible and I was so groggy from the drugs they gave me to counteract it that I don't remember much of her first 24 hours. Actually, none of it.
I had hives, shaking and swelling from the epidural. No surprise with all of my other random allergies. It was horrible and I was so groggy from the drugs they gave me to counteract it that I don’t remember much of her first 24 hours. Actually, none of it.

I remember the feeling of not feeling,  completely numb but there being pressure. So much pressure. I didn’t feel a single touch of the surgeon, yet there was sensation then suddenly I knew I was empty. She was out!  And then it happened. The lightbulb in my head. I knew the reason.
OB: “Woah!! That is a short cord. That may be the shortest cord I’ve ever seen!  Look at that.”
My sister did.
Sister: “That is a seriously short cord! That’s crazy!”
OB: “Really, I’ve been delivering babies for almost 20 years and I don’t remember one that short! That’s less than 12 inches!”
OB asked the tech to take a picture. They did.
That’s all it was. I had been told earlier that my placenta was toward the top.  I never saw the cord myself. It was enough information. Suddenly I could put two and two together and I knew what added risk there would have been to an external version, or to attempting a vaginal breech delivery. I knew what forcefully moving her could have done. I knew that being born butt first could have pulled the placenta down on top of her, too early to be safe.
I knew. And it was good.
IMG_5438 copy
And that is how I, of all people, had a c-section for my first baby. I was confident and strong. She was and is worth every bit of it.
Continuing with Lil’ Bit:
It is 9pm on January 16th, 2014 as I write this. All four of them are in bed.
Things changed about this time five years ago. I was starting to think maybe this would fizzle.  I mean, these were real but they had spaced a bit.  It could happen to me again. I could have 12 hours of steady contractions that just suddenly evaporate into thin air, like  2 1/2 years earlier with Ruckus.
For an hour they were at 3 minutes but now they were back to 5.  I didn’t want to go through that again. The confusion and disappointment of a big stall. I couldn’t control it either way, but I prayed. Please not that again.
We arrived home with the older three and went straight to work putting them in bed.  Mr. Marvelous was in our room and I was doing bedtime duty. I hefted the big lug of a 2 1/2 year old up onto the changing table to put on a clean diaper for the night.  That is when it happened.
I felt the pop.
Warmth down my legs.
Fluid pooling around my feet.
So….. that was gross.
I called Travis to come take over and waddled across the hall to the bathroom, leaving a trickling trail behind… there was no going back now. With water broken I was sure to be in labor, slow or not.
I’m not one to panic when water breaks.  I knew that my OB wanted to know right away but I wasn’t inclined to rush.  I knew my risks and was still planning to take it slow.
At least I WAS planning to, until I started cleaning things up. It took one glance for me to know what was going on.
“Oh heck.”
No wait… It was “Oh Mec”.  Actually, I didn’t say mec. Mec is short for meconium. Baby poop. I did say another word for poop, to be exact. It’s not a word that I want to put on my blog but I’m sure you can figure it out.
So there was meconium. Thick. Tons of it. Shocking amounts of it. As comfortable as I was with the idea of laboring at home with my water broken, this was different. Mec happens.  I didn’t expect it to happen to me.
So I cleaned it all up, and took a few minutes to stomp my foot and pout like a diva.  I don’t know if it was the loss of that lovely protective cushion that had been my bag of waters or if it was the stomping pity party.  The next few contractions were seriously sturdy.
I got my act together and told Mr. Marvelous what was up. He agreed. It sucked. At almost 42 weeks, with that much meconium, I didn’t want to be home for this. I called Dr. Tate. I knew what the answer was.
Calls were made and kids were dispersed.  I honestly don’t remember how that happened or how long it took.  My water broke between 8:30 and 9:00pm.  We got to the hospital around midnight. No panicked rush, but begrudgingly earlier than I would have liked. And now contractions were more like 10 minutes a part. Boo.