Friday, December 12, 2014

Welcoming Blessings...

December 6th saw a full, beautiful moon heralding a moment of sweet reprieve from the unexpected astrological shifts that have been in our midst of late.  Each month, a group of beautiful women in Sitka get together for a gathering of Goddesses, and this month we were saying goodbye to a wonderful friend as she embarks upon a new move.  I had offered to host this gathering at my home, since it might be the last I could host for a while, being thirty nine weeks pregnant.  This was the same group of women who a few weeks past threw me a beautiful blessingway, and I was happy to have the energy swirling in my space again.  As we were reading our cards for the month, I felt a few contractions, but had been feeling them off and on again throughout the week, so didn't really think much of it.  However, at one point while I was reading, one was enough to make me a touch unfomfortable.  After we had closed the circle and the corners, I leaned over to my girlfriend, Tiffany, who was to watch Finn once we went to the hospital, and whispered, "You may want to keep your phone on you tonight..."

Everyone left around eleven, and Reid came home soon after.  I told him I had started to time contractions, and that they were already three minutes apart and lasting a minute.  Perhaps we should call the hospital, and just let them know we may be heading in the next hour or so...Tiffany arrived, and after breathing through a few good contractions, we loaded into Meriwether, who had just been picked up that very day from the shop, in good working order.

As we arrived at the hospital, I had my labor stones ready, massage oil with neroli for optimism and jasmine for efficient labor.  Before I was allowed in the labor tub, the nurse checked, and said she didn't think I would be able to use the tub, for I was already 8 and a half centimeters dialated, and that she needed to call the doctor straight away.  I was almost flabbergasted, it was only 12:30, one and a half hours after when I thought labor began.  We got my labor crystals set up, put some You + Me on the speakers, and got to work with contractions.  The doctor came and said everything looked great, and that he believed the little guy would be here soon.  Two hours later, it was time to push, and as with Finn, I felt no urge to push at all.  When I told the doctor this, he said that if I decided not to push at all, the little one would still come, so I was free to do whatever I pleased.  For some reason, this was the most comforting thing I could have heard.  I said I knew I was getting close because I was getting really scared.  One contraction I literally screamed to where someone came to check on me.  The doc just smiled at her and said we were fine.  I was so impressed by the lack of concern, and the confidence of this doctor just to leave things alone to happen.  One push on the squatting bar and he said the next push we were going to have a baby, and he was right, the next push, at 2:51 in the morning, Oliver Duncan Brewer came sliding into this world.  Four hours of laboring, and two pushes.  I can't believe what an incredibly uneventful, uncomplicated delivery it was.  At four, I told Reid he could just go home and wake up with Finn and bring him over with breakfast.

Finn's reaction to baby Ollie was sweet.  Baby Ollie had a brought a gift for Finn with him, so he was excited to get a book all about Big Brother Finn, with an inscription from Oliver.  That week he had been talking of how Mama was going to go to the "doctor, and the doctor would pull out Baby Ollie, then Mama will have a NEW BABY!" So when he came in and saw, he said, "The doctor pulled out Baby Ollie?"  Tentatively curious.  But when he got to bring some popcorn after dinner, hop in bed with Mama and Baby Ollie and watch Yes, Virginia, I think he thought things were gonna be alright.

In the week since he has been here, I can't believe how wonderful recovery is when you don't have complications.  The hardest part is taking it easy and not trying to do too much.  The other thing that has struck me profoundly, is how expansive love is.  It really expands so readily to new life, that it seems like there is actually more for everyone here, instead of being difficult to balance time and energy and attention.  I'm sure as time passes there will be moments of struggle with that, but for now, we will just bathe in it.  And witness Super Dad as he gets to spend so much great time with Finn, seeing them grow together is one of the most heart warming things ever.  His intuition when Finn might need a little extra loving, or rough housing, is amazing.  And Finn's desire to help with Oliver keeps him busy and involved.  We haven't seen a speck of jealousy yet, and will just try to let them all grow together.

The only one who is still quite tentative is Squid.  She is very careful, and stays a good distance unless we invite her to sniff the new wee one.  So she gets extra walks and outdoor play with Dad and Finn, and extra pets from Mama for now to help her adjust.  All in all, things are almost as good as they could possibly be, and once nursing gets ironed out, we will be smooth sailing from there, to enjoy the next chapter of the life of our young family.  Life is so good.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A letter to the New Wee One...

     Having Finnegan enter the new phase of toddler-dom sure doesn't lend itself to many new blog posts, and now that we are expecting a new one in just over six weeks, I'm interested to see where it leads us as well as far as staying connected with loved ones more far than near...
     That being said, we are expecting the last addition of our family on my birthday, December 14th, and cannot wait to meet what the ultrasound technician is expecting to be another lovely little boy!  It's been a little harder to really connect as much with this little guy in utero while adventures abound day to day with the not-so-wee-one, but the moments come in tiny breaths here and there...and here is a small one while the boy naps...

                                                                                  beautiful artwork by Megan Duncanson

     Dear Little Bird,
           I cannot wait for you to arrive.  Your big brother is waiting patiently, he is very excited to teach you to run and throw a ball and somersault through the living room.  He asks often "How is Baby Ollie doing??"  I worry about the balance in those first few months between you and him, but I know we will make it through and grow wonderfully as a family.  My wish for both of you is to grow to know the true power that lies within kindness; to discover what makes you passionate and happy in this world, in this lifetime, and to follow your heart with it.  To grow happy, healthy and whole.  
          I am so excited to watch you grow into who you are meant to become, and to see the differences between you and Finnegan.  To discover how we all fit as a family together in this world.  I wish for you to always know how loved you are, and how important you are to this world around you.  To revel in the beauty of this world and time and space we exist in, right here, right now.  I am honored to get to laugh with you and discover this world with you all over again.

                                                                                 I love you and we'll see you soon,

     As the holidays begin to approach and these last few weeks fly by, I'm trying to take in the last few precious moments of Finn's as the only child.  To look closely with him and to snuggle in a little closer and enjoy those last few moments until the equilibrium is shaken and comes to again.  Excited, nervous, in love with our family as we begin to grow together, complete.  The feeling that comes with that notion of completion (Reid and I have always thought to be a two kiddo family...) is one of absolute calm and peace and contentment.  Now we get to simply exist together.  And the feeling is lovely.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Microcosm of Parenthood...

It struck me tonight, in my random meanderings as I lay waiting for the wee one to drift off after story time, just how magnified our shortcomings are when the little ones come along.  Because we want to model to our children how to view the world, or handle certain situations, or come to view as normal behavior of the opposite sex, when we fall short of these ideals we have for ourselves and for them, it’s so embarrassingly, glaringly obvious.  

I have a tendency to be pretty socially awkward, many times on the verge of anxiety, because I have a real tendency to say the most randomly awkward things without thinking them through, or to not say anything for entire conversations…I also have an overly analytical thought process that tends to take things very personally…and I have a hard time letting old situations go to make room for new opportunities and growth…ah, the list could go on…

So when I think of the things that I want to model for wee Finnegan: courage in the face of new social situations while still listening to his intuition....the practice of self love and acceptance and forgiveness (and with my overly analytical inner critic this is a CONSTANT PRACTICE.) and facing those scary situations, well every situation really, with humor and compassion, and without taking things personally….seeing the best in everyone, being present to what is going on in that moment…

I can see these things I want for Finn as direct opposites of what I perceive as my shortcomings.  Many things I’m not worried about, I’ve got those down: working hard for goals that you want to attain, setting a plan of action for adventures and going after them passionately…when I know there’s something I want to do or achieve, I’m a go getter.  It’s the small details that hang me up, and that become mountains under that microscope.  Within the microcosm of parenthood, they become the big things, the important things, because they are the every day things...But what else they do is provide tremendous opportunity for a constant practice on who I want to be, because who I want to be is what I want to model to my kid.  And that is something that I’m pretty thankful for, because it was really easy to skate by before parenthood hit me…it’s exhausting, and humbling, but it’s really why having kiddos makes you a better person.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Finn Day Number Two...

Dear baby Lionheart…geez.  The time really does fly.  You can now say, “I love you, Mama,” and I don’t think I’ll ever get over the feeling that overwhelms me when I hear it.  My heart is so full.  You try to wink, but can only get your right eye to shut part way just now, and the result is this beautifully crooked smile.  You like to cheers every drink you have with someone.  At museums, you walk around with your hands clasped behind your back, it makes you look like this teeny intellectual.  You like all kinds of kisses: butterfly, Eskimo, cheek pinching, fishy kisses.  You seem to be sensitive to when others are upset, I’ve seen you on more than one occasion go up to someone who was crying, take their hand, and lead them to some activity, the piano, the play kitchen, and try to engage them in some play.  A lady at church, who you led to the piano, found this very noteworthy and made a point to find who the mother of this child was to tell her of this, and of her gratitude for your sweet energy.

I pray for you to grow up to find your true, authentic voice in this world.  To find what makes you passionate about life.  To see the sacredness in all living things that we share this amazing home with for such a short time.  To think through the bullshit that swirls around us much of the time, and to find the truth that lies hidden close by.  To know how loved you are.

For your second anniversary of this life…we had a small winter celebration.  A winter picnic with soup, sledding and cupcakes with a few friends.  We explored the snowy forest and found an amazing tree fort tucked away…we listened to chickadees and redpolls, and threw snowballs, and took sledrides through Creamer’s Field, one of Mom’s favorite places in the Interior.  Daddy came up for the weekend, and it was a perfect, lovely celebration.  Happy birthday, Finn.  I love you.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Finding a Tribe of my own...

How do you find your tribe in today’s society?

As I’ve been home with Finn for nearly the past two years, I have struggled with my decision to be a stay at home mamma at times, questioning the “quality vs. quantity” of time spent with my little guy, and wondering how our journey will evolve so that everyone feels completely supported and loved.  In my bones I know home with Finn is where I'm supposed to be, and don’t get me wrong, eighty-five percent of the time I spend laughing, splashing in puddles, drawing on windows and feeling gratefully blissful as I sing Finnegan to sleep at naptime…but every so often, I get kicked in the gut with impatience or frustration, and a deep loneliness and yearning overtakes me.  It has opened me to reflection on how I want to grow on this journey. 

One thing that has struck me very recently, is the lack of a tribe in my life.  The village it takes to raise a child is comprised of Reid and me.  While we are the best team I know of, it sometimes doesn’t protect me from that loneliness of physical isolation.  Part of it is simply being in a new community, finding my small place on an Alaskan island.  Part of me wonders if it’s just society today.  We are raised so independently, and have such autonomy over our own lives, but perhaps that comes at a rather lonely cost at times.  Many of us no longer have aunties and grandmas close by to help give advice and encouragement, simply by their physical presence.  To want to be with and see our kiddos, for those indulgent breaks from parenting before we feel overwhelmed and need that break to take time for own sanity.   Time away from Finn scheduled after I’ve felt overwhelmed somehow carries a twinge of guilt for me.  

Over the holidays, hosting guests in our home, I was struck at how heart warming and encouraging it is to see other people love on your kid.  That seeing others experiencing joy out of being around Finn was one of the most nourishing things for me to experience as a mother.  To witness the effect he has on people close to us.  It also made me realize that those experiences are very rare, for we simply don’t live around family. 

This year, I am deciding to find ways to nourish and support my tribe.  For Finnegan, for me, for our family.  To engage the tribe that I do have around me, just not physically.  It will have to be unorthodox, and I will have to get creative.  Three aunties, three uncles, and three grandparents, all living afar.  Two best friends who live afar.  A new community filled with some of the best people and mamas.   An amazing extended family who I sometimes feel I barely know, yet love to death.  This will be my journey of the year.  

I want to connect.  

I’m kicking if off by spending a quarter of a year with my parents in Salcha.  While Reid finishes his Ph.D, something that will be great for his soul and sanity, I’ll be hanging with grandma and grandpa, as well as doing a little theatre.  I’m curious and excited to see how we find ways to incorporate family, our whole family, into our everyday lives.  That is, perhaps, my New Year’s resolution.  Perhaps it will be through handwritten letters exchanged.  Or collaborative Skype calls with the whole family.  Or more scheduled vacations just hanging with family.  Or elaborate, extensive family reunions…I’m up for it all.   Let’s start a conversation about it, at the very least.  I want my mommies (both Reid’s and mine!) and sisters.  I know we get on each others nerves half the time, but I’m really wishing we could all be on the same block.  As that is impossible, we’ll have to get creative.  I’m open to suggestions as to how anyone reading this might foster that sense of “tribe” in their lives.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Letter to my Cynic

        The last few months have been really tough for me.  I’ve struggled with my own faith, faith in humanity, faith in the direction our world is being sent to by the apathy of our choices, or lack of…and struggled with my own seeming insignificance, the weight of what seems like never being able to do enough to help the plight of our Mother Earth, and the hopelessness of that struggle.  And it all seems so much more dire with a tiny bundle of light and love who truly represents limitless possibility.  I’ve also been struggling to find a balance of intention, energy, faith and tangible action.  It seems like they cannot be mutually exclusive: without faith, your tangible actions will never seem enough, there will ALWAYS be something more you could have done.  You have to have faith that your path is meaningful and thoughtful, and that your choices are what you can do with the information you have at the time.  And without tangible action, one cannot rely solely on intention.  Intention is the seed, but action helps water it into a mighty oak that will have the meaning and impact you long for.  

            I have a terrible inner cynic…she says to me…

            “Go ahead and have whatever you deem as “faith” that things can get better.  If that helps you sleep at night, do what you need to do.  But don’t turn your head for a second, or you will see the truth of what humans are doing to this planet, and you will know there is nothing to be done.”

            “People have known about these things for so long, you will never get the general public to see the benefits of simplicity and to abandon this consumeristic, disposable culture we live in; or the corporations to look at anything other than a bottom dollar, it is nothing you can have an impact on with your small existence as a mother at home.”

            I really could go on and on.  It sends me into a spiral of depression of doubting my very existence on this planet.  That seems pretty abstract, but that is what keeps me up at night these days.

            And then…

            Recently, while talking to a dear friend of mine, I thought…as I say these things, I am also saying them to Finn, and about him.  That HE can’t make a difference.  That there is nothing for him to do but wallow in pity and shame for what our species has done.  And the part of me that longs to be hopeful and optimistic takes great, great offence to that.  Like mama bearish.  Like I will kick the shit out of you for saying anything like that to my son.  There in lies the conundrum…how to get that hope back, that honest hope for the future, that will inspire our children to be the problem solvers we need, without riddling them with guilt over what we have done up to this point. 

            We need to address our cynics.  There is simply no room for cynicism, it will do nothing to bring about the change we need.  She has been useful to me, because she has called me to own up to my choices in this world, and to our choices as a global community.  Okay, done.  Let’s move forward.   So I decided to write my cynic a letter…

Dear Lady of Cynicism;

            My name is Sarah the Lionheart.  I come from the part of Sarah who longs to be hopeful, who longs to radiate optimism and hope for the future generations of children, who stand to make a large difference in the world.  It is only with the confidence and love from us that they will grow to their fullest potential, otherwise they stand to continue this cycle of hopelessness, from which inaction springs.  Nothing will get any better from inaction, and since that comes from the hopelessness of cynicism, I have come to let you know that you have worn out your welcome here, residing in Sarah.  For when you say those things, you are also saying them about her son, and that is a deal breaker.  This will not happen, and you will no longer have room in her spirit.  The only thing you do is paralyze her and keep her from realizing her fullest potential as well, and she cannot move forward with you here.  Thank you for getting her to take a good realistic look at where we currently are, and to inspire her to take action NOW.  To proactively find ways to nurture her faith in the Universe.  To keep up with the small changes in behavior that will turn the current nature of society into one of love for our Earth, and stewardship for each other.  You have done your job.  It is time to transform your energy into something creative, something positive, or vacate the premises immediately. 


                                               Sarah the Lionheart
          My hope is that this is the first step in coming out of the darkness.  And that if it shows up again, to revisit this and find the light before it hits me so hard.  This journey is messy, dark, frightening, and impossibly beautiful all at the same time.

Friday, June 14, 2013

First Recommended Read: The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

     So it’s been awhile since I last read a novel.  Even now that sounds so very indulgent…I think the last time I had chunks of free time to read, I was in the final trimester of pregnancy, and was reading Ina May’s Guide to Natural Childbirth, and Chopra’s Guide to Holistic Childbirth.  After Finnegan came into my world, little blurbs of time were spent scouring various child development books, checking milestones and looking ahead to what we could expect in the upcoming months.  Now that things have begun leveling out (sometimes) with regard to household management (um, I mean Domestic Goddess rituals), Mommy-ing, and Mommy time, I ran into this gem of a novel at the library, and fell in love.  The only difficult part was having to put it down when I heard the distinct rumblings of Finn waking up from nap time. 

 Eowyn Ivey’s Snow Child is part historical fiction about homesteading life in Alaska during the 1920’s, and part folktale based on a Russian myth of a “Snow Maiden” found in the story.  In it, Mabel and Jack have relocated to the harsh Alaskan landscape, in search of a new start after a tragic loss of an only child during the last trimester of pregnancy.  Despair, exhaustion and melancholy is taking hold of them both, but in a brief moment of happiness they create a small snow child.  The next morning, the child is gone, however, they begin noticing a small girl flitting about the forest, able to survive in the woods by herself.  As the story unfolds, it becomes a tale of desperate longing to believe in hope and renewal.  It also shows the evolution that parents must go through of wanting to care for and protect their children, but ultimately the need to believe in their capabilities.  It also reveals the hardest thing to do, as a parent: to release them to the universe to create their own lives and happiness.  It is a tale of such sorrow, but ultimately of such hope, that will make you cling to your loved ones with ferocity.  Darkly whimsical, while being true to the brutal realities of early homesteading life in Alaska, it will haunt you long after you put it down.  If you happen to also be from Alaska, it will make you proud of the roots that have been put down by those who came before you as well.  I'm so glad that the first indulgent use of my time was reading this book.