Authoring and Littles

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It has been said a number of times that friends are impressed with the amount of writing work I can do, and raise two small children ((almost 3, and 7.5 months)) at the same time.
Even now as I write this, I am holding a sleeping baby in my arms.

On the one hand, there isn’t as much work happening behind the scenes as they might believe.  This time last year I was publishing my first short story, The Precious Jewel for debute in Den of Thieves: A Den Of Quills Anthology, I was blitzing through episodes of The Ranger Of Severum, and I was writing my High Fantasy series.

Being able to write and blog are only two hobbies of like, five, I enjoy doing, and it’s becoming difficult to have to choose which one to do in my free time.
Do I read?  Do I workout?  Do I write?  Do I paint?  Or Draw?
Better yet, DO I SLEEP?!?!

The baby has now woken up and every few words or letters, I have to push away at her little smacking hands as they hit at the laptop keyboard.  She giggles, finding it a game, I move the computer, and then she pulls on my clothes, to stand up and reach over my lap to try at it again.

What it all boils down to is time management.

 

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Exercising is difficult to make time for with littles.  Especially when they demand your attention all day long.  But, what I have found is I can get in an hour of cardio by doing squats, and swinging the kids around, and dancing with them, doing jumping activities, all by including them in my fitness goals.  Swinging a 26 pound child up in the air, and down through your legs while squatting really works your thighs, and you feel it for the next three days.  Doing the various leg lifts lying down on the floor, planking, sumo-squatting, bridges, yoga positions, you suddenly become a bridge, or a mountain for cars to drive up and down, all the while you’re toning, slimming, trimming, and making your goals happen without having to duck off to the gym in time you really don’t have.

Painting and drawing can also be activities to do while in the living room.  Set up the canvas on the counter, with all of your tools out of reach, and stand and paint while watching the kids.  Boom, easy.

Reading and writing are the tricky ones, as both are full attention activities.  So, when going to bed at night, or during naps in the afternoon….  I play games and scroll through Facebook, because I suck at time management.  ((I have written 440+ words and it’s taken me roughly thirty minutes, because Facebook))

Usually I read myself to sleep, once my pocket game has been taken care of.  I’m currently beta reading for an author friend of mine, and I find his book is best executed at night before going to sleep.  My husband works nights, so I have from the time the kids go to bed, to when the baby wakes for midnight feeding, to myself.  And again, I have to pick “Do I work, or do I sleep?” and in the end, socializing wins most times.

Mothers are secluded creatures who need to clear their headspace.  Clearing headspace involves mindless activities and SOCIALIZING with other people.  So, my writer friends on the internet are readily available to socialize with when I want to sit and do absolutely nothing when I’ve been going, going, going all day.
This, by no means, means I am inactive during the day.  All the day long, I’ve been working through my writers block lately, to try and plan out the course for action in my High Fantasy series.  One day, I hope to set the world of Eldegras in orbit for the world to see.  I’ve just spent the last two years trying to clean it up and make it ready.  This became an even slower process in bearing children.  Along with the kids comes managing the household, doing laundry and dishes, and cooking and cleaning, and being wifely by spending time with the husband….  All of the responsibility!  Nobody should be surprised when all a woman wants to do is mindless nothing on the internet.

 

My simple advice to mothers everywhere, workout with the kids, do your hobbies with them, and in the quiet moments you have to yourself do whatever the hell you want to.  You deserve it.

Oh.  And Coffee.

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Dear Little Girl

Precious Child, I have some Wisdom I wish others had shared with me.

Your skin is flawless, like porcelain.  It’s sincerely beautiful.
I wish I had taken care of mine, I hadn’t known then what I know now.

Don’t wear the make-up, pressed powder will do.  Your complexion is so delicate, be gentle with every inch of it.
You’re beautiful.  Wear the sunscreen, protect your beauty or one day you’ll look like me.  Damaged, scarred, reddened and rough.

I have some freckles, they don’t help.  So please don’t argue about the sunscreen.

Brush your teeth faithfully.  Keep them shining and healthy.
I didn’t.  And I cannot take back the damage.

Your life is so incredibly worth it.  Somebody loves you enough to help you through.

Enhance your beauty, but don’t smother it.  Wash your face before you go to bed.  I’ll teach you the proper skin care I wish someone had taught me.

Your smile is beautiful and true.  Never be afraid of who you are.  I’ll walk you through this life, and help you learn the True Beauty tucked inside.

The surface is important, you will determine how you feel based on how you look.  The woman who says women shouldn’t let how they look affect them, is right– but how you feel about yourself is going to stare at you from the mirror.

I let that woman control me.  Everything I didn’t see, I tried to create.  I was skinny, I was caked, and I still had yellow teeth.

Your appearance isn’t everything.  But it is going to bother you whether you wish it or not.  You’ll look to be someone else, or something else.  The best thing you can be is YOU.

And I’m going to teach you how to do this.  Because Beauty is more than skin deep.  And you’re already beautiful.  But I don’t want you looking in the mirror and regretting what I have, so I’ll help you believe in yourself like no one believed in me.

Don’t Judge Me

I see you there, waiting in line behind my conveyor belt of groceries.  My two children are ready to be home, and frankly so am I.

I pull out a little white card, and hope you can’t see.  Swiping it quickly, shamefully, I dive my hand into my purse so you don’t know what the card looked like.

Don’t judge me, please, as you watch my transaction in process.  You tap your button and glance at your display, I know you know.  Please don’t say anything.

I walk the aisle in the store, and purchase the same as I would if I were buying for my family.  We’re vegetarian and don’t drink milk–but we eat yogurt, eggs and cheese.  We drink coffee and herbal tea instead of soda and juice, we sweeten with agave and honey.
These things are expensive, I know.  It’s not my fault eating right is for the elite.  But I’m not going to stock up on junk food because it’s “cheaper”.

Don’t watch my hand dive in my wallet.  Please don’t look at me as though I’m a criminal.  I’m honestly just trying to feed my family, and my husbands income is not enough.

I’m not asking for a handout.  I don’t want your help.  We have barely been scraping by.  Our bills are paid, our rent is covered.  We put gas in the car …. once.  But now the money is gone, and we still have needs.  I don’t know how the laundry is getting washed.
The diapers were a gift.  Someone blessed us this month.
The trial is only for a little while, we expect to have it better soon.

My husband goes to school, and has a job.  I can’t get one too.  Right now, my job is Mommy.  Don’t judge my decision, it’s really not up to you.

I write, I draw, I can make use of my time.  Simple little ways to earn some extra money from time to time.  Though writing jobs are hard to find.  I’m subscribed to receive opportunities– and so are hundreds of other writers.

I teach.  However I have no college hours, substituting is out of the question in this town.

I came out of poverty, and have to poverty returned.  A degree would have been of no use, I wanted to be a youth pastor.  Ministerial degrees aren’t in high demand.

Don’t judge me.  You don’t know where I’ve been.  I only wished I’d never be in that place again.  But we are.  And you don’t know how hard we work to fix it.

My husband is at school on scholarship.  Thats the only way he can go.  Being in the military, you’d think he’d have earned more respect.  This isn’t the same Military it was in 1945.  This isn’t the same America either.

We’re fighting to make our way, and pushing really hard.  The numbers aren’t rounding up, they continue to plummet instead.

I’m a white American woman, married, with two kids.  A soldiers wife, proud and strong.  A minister fighting for the Kingdom.  I’m the Warrior cast.

….but right now we’re in need.  So unless you have the magical ability to feed my family with two loaves of bread and five minnows–until our boat comes in– I suggest you go judge someone else.  I’m not in the mood to feel anxious over what you think of me.

Endless Screaming

The voices in my head.
The baby in her bed.
The toddler in the hall…..
Someone silence it all.

I’m so tired, I’m so done.
I just need somewhere to run.
Make it stop! Send relief!
I feel like I can’t breathe.

One will stop, the other start.
They’re tearing my skull apart.
It’s ringing in my ears,
Driving me to tears.

If anyone can hear me,
Come and make it stop.
Why can’t they let me be?
Night wont seem to drop.

Go to sleep, just let me rest!
Please stop scratching at my chest.
Silence your shudders and cries.
Close your mouth, close your eyes.

Drift away and give me a break.
I’m losing my mind, for goodness sake.

Labor, Prodromal Labor, Hospital Trips, And Finally– Baby.

The last week of May was quite the trip.  After having the version, the contractions were finally noticeable, as though getting her to go the right direction was all that was missing in the effort to have her.

When I went to my doctors appointment on Wednesday, May 27th, I measured at a 2, which meant Baby could start coming at any moment.  My anticipation was colossal.
Finished shopping, went home on Wednesday, come Thursday night at 6:30ish I started contractions.  They were up to about 20 minutes apart all of the way through Friday until around 5pmish, and then they died off to roughly one an hour, but they were getting periodically stronger.  This continued on through Saturday, and Sunday morning around 2 they were every 2-5 minutes apart, so we went to the hospital.
At the hospital they measured me at 3.5, my contractions were phenomenal on the read out, and we waited for two hours for dilation progression.  Progression did not happen, and I was sent home— with the same strong contractions, though they were slowly spacing out again.

I had looked up start and stop labor on Friday evening, wondering why I was experiencing it.  My answer boiled down to stress.  Prodromal labor isn’t really pinned to one certain thing, so when I thought back on how my doctor had told me I was NOT a good candidate for induction based on how firm my cervix was, I figured stress had to be the key factor.

Sunday passed slowly along.  My frustration and agony in the seeming-inability to produce the right conditions for labor hanging over me like a cloud of doom.  Some women have had terrible experiences with prenatal triage, and I personally had a terrible experience my first go round.  At my local hospital, the staff had been wonderful, my attending nurse had been supportive, she had known I was experiencing labor even though I wasn’t actively progressing yet.  We lived twenty minutes away, there was no reason why I couldn’t progress at home….  but I still had no desire to go to the hospital and get sent home a second time.

That night in bed, I laid on my left side ((as I had been practicing for the last four nights)) waiting out the count of contractions.  Again, somewhere around 2ish, something felt immensely different.  The contractions didn’t necessarily hurt, but something about them said baby was on the way.  They came up to the 3-5 minute mark, I woke the house, we rushed off to the hospital again.

Sure enough, when they assessed me in triage, I was at a 7.  Two hours later, they broke my water and baby came along within the next ten minutes.

It was a trip. Lying in recovery after Baby was born, I found myself waiting for contractions. After spending four days in labor, it hadn’t quite clicked yet that it was finally over.

Here I am a week later, content to have my brand new daughter sweetly coddled in my arms.

My assessment of the situation boils down to a few tips to share with other mothers-to-be out there.

1) Circumstances Will Dictate Your Stress Levels

Life is full of ups and downs, and during pregnancy things amplify out of proportion.
My stress points are not at all “little things”.

We’re preparing to move; we need a job, a house, money to move on—
The move has my new daughter missplaced right now, sleeping in a bassinet in my room, using one drawer of her brothers dresser, and two shelves on my bookcase. All I wanted was to have a room for her. Set up, situated, decorated, ready to go. But we have to wait at least another month.

My husbands job has him gone a minimum of 100 hours a week. He has overnight trips, 12+ hour days, monthly military obligations– and all of this is expected of him on salary. No bonuses, no raises, no hope for advancement…. without his military check, we wouldn’t make ends meet.
Money is so tight, I can’t even figure out WHERE we’re going to find the extra bits to set aside for moving equipment, or a safety deposit. The cost of living in Texas has gone up, the jobs he’s looking at only start at $12 an hour….
The current outlook on this move is grim.

2) No Two Delivery Experiences Are The Same. Unless You Have A C-Section

With my first, labor was clockwork.
Contractions, plug, dilated, water broke, baby. 16 hours, it was over and done.
Previous experience was no help. Even the contractions were different.

3) Yoga Helps

I’ve said it before: DO YOGA. In hindsight, I would probably have been better primed for labor if I had continued in my prenatal yoga practice the entire pregnancy. Clearing mind, draining muscles, keeping blood and fluids circulating, and opening up the pelvic muscles might have positively influenced labor.

4) If You Had An Episiotomy The First Time, Expect A Second One

More on that in another blog.

I hope you and your pregnancy are blessed and that your birthing experience is smooth and successful.

Motherhood: Having a “Version”. Turning your baby

Since I have already made this blog mixed topic, from my endeavors as an author, my poetry, my insights on Christianity, and a mini-Fantasy series, I am going to write to mothers everywhere about my recent experience with a Version.

What is a “version”, you might ask?  To put it simply, it’s turning a breech baby while they’re in the womb.  It generally takes place at 37 weeks, as long as your baby is still pretty little.

I found out at 36 weeks that she was breech.  This was a rather annoying piece of information, as it’s really rather hard to tell which direction the baby is going by this time, and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that a c-section is not on my agenda unless it is ABSOLUTELY medically necessary.  So, when my doctor said, “you have options” I immediately told her I wanted the baby turned.  We scheduled my “version” and I went home to research how to make her turn before yesterday.

Between the blood rushing to my head, ending up going head first down a slide at a local playground, and playing music at the bottom of my tummy, there were a great deal of reactions from my baby, but none of them encouraged her to spin around.  I waited and waited in extreme nervousness, asking everyone I knew to pray for me and the baby, as I was getting desperate.

Thursday morning came.  I spent the two hours prior to the sonogram rolling the possible outcome of the morning through my head.  I was nervous, anxious, tense and made the pulse monitor beep a good three or four times– before the doctor arrived to turn the baby.  The sonogram was done, and sure enough her head was still positioned right smack-dab in the middle of my rib cage.  I had figured as much, when I would lay down to figure out what part of her might be where, it definitely felt like a head.

He explained to me what was going to happen, and then went to spinning the baby around.

Dear lord, did it hurt.  Which makes plenty of sense, you’re spinning head, shoulders, knees and toes around inside your uterus.  I couldn’t make it through the first attempt.  The rubbing of soft tissue on bones is what got me.  The other was being concerned for the baby, and being aware of her needs.
So, we took a breather, talked about options, and then tried again.  As I mentioned before, the c-section wasn’t an option, I was going to suffer through the pain and get the baby turned around.

A moment later, I took a deep breath, and continued to breathe deeply through the entire experience, making my insides as open as possible to help get her around.  ((Yoga is a GREAT way to practice deep breathing, and internal awareness of your body and it’s needs.  If you do not do yoga, I would highly consider it.))  Breathing deeply, as well as being primed from the first time, she made it around easily and pretty quickly.

Relief is a nice feeling.  It took the pulse monitor a good minute to stop beeping as I calmed down again.  When I finally did, I thanked God that it had been simple and quick.

My doctor felt I was a good candidate for having the baby turned.  The baby would still be small enough, I’m carrying low, and the space she had to move in was roomy enough.  When the doctor took the sonogram, HER conditions were great, she had clear space to rotate, and the chord was out of the way.  There wasn’t quite a great deal of fluid around her, ((I had spent the last six days getting it up, and didn’t even THINK about the fact that I had chamomile tea the night before so I could sleep through the night.  All my efforts lost in one night….  So don’t do this.  If you need a relaxing agent to sleep the night before your version, try a sachet of lavender or melatonin)) but it didn’t hinder her ability to rotate around.

During recovery, I had minor contractions, but baby and I looked great.
Today, during recovery, I am a bit on the sore side, from shifting the baby around of course, but nothing serious.  I’m not bleeding, or losing fluid.  The braxton contractions ache a bit more than they should, but nothing serious.

In summary, the pain is worth it, as long as it avoids a c-section.  You have options, don’t let your doctor push you into one way or the other.  Think about them, read about them, and become aware of what YOU can do.  If I had learned she was breech before 36 weeks, I might have had more time to flip her around on her own, avoiding the pain altogether.  But it’s so worth it.  Knowing she’s around, knowing she’ll be ready to go when labor starts…  I would recommend it in a heartbeat.

Stress Undressed

There are few words in life that accurately describe the emotional train wreck women experience during motherhood.
Currently,  stressed and anxious, I count down the days to my daughter’s birth.
Today, we learned that she’s breeched. I have one week to help manipulate her into turning, and if she doesn’t, I’m scheduled into an appointment for an inversion. The determination to get her to flip first is pretty high– as I’m avoiding a c-section at all costs unless it’s absolutely necessary. 36 weeks and 2-4 to go, I’m so ready to be done.

The absolute delight of being published is not lost on me, nor the anticipation for more opportunities to put together other anthologies with my dear friends and peers in Den of Quills.

However, current circumstances in my home have brought about the worst in me, creating despair.  Causing utter betrayal of my Game Face, ripping doors open to reveal the chaotic winds of “what if” that blow at hurricane strength in my heart.

Any semblance of Sanity I might produce gets formed to the written page in stories of free and frivolous characters.  My latest being Keegan Brand and Farah.  Ever since these two paired up in my imagination for the DoQ anthology,  more stories and adventures desire to be told.  They’re fun, new and interesting,  which has been refreshing in the midst of Life.
We all need a bit of therapeutic indulgence from time to time-though I wish very much that Trillian and Yulissa would spark my Muse again as they are currently waiting for an episode to finish!

The Cast of Eldegras sit quietly in their green room, waiting for me to pick their series back up as well.  High Fantasy, fully plotted out, with well defined world building finished, and character plots, sub-character plots, supporting cast…..  All of it hanging in the shadow, waiting on me to have the courage to produce it.

Priorities align when you set the emotional roller-coaster aside and allow yourself to decide what is most important.
In writing, the self-doubt and lack of confidence that creeps in can hamper your desire to produce what you love.
Will the fear of rejection put your stories on a shelf in your brain,  where no one else will ever experience them?
Will the efforts you put into your books be lost when you watch enthusiasm for your stories die out?

Right now, life in the Villa-Smith home is filled with uncertainty, worry, doubt, anxious anticipation– so many things are happening or waiting to happen.
I’m allowing the circumstances to dictate how I feel in a given moment,  which in turn separates me from doing the things I love most.  Writing of course, being one of them.

Don’t let your stress do that to you.  It’s not worth it.  If you have a hobby you absolutely enjoy,  the core of your being thrives on it, don’t ever back burner to Life.  Use it in the quiet moments to unwind and unlock what you’ve been holding onto.  Pursue Yourself in the stillness when you can hide away in time to yourself. Make a point to not think about the things going on outside of your control,  and just hold on to focusing on You.
It’s difficult,  but after a while, realizing that you and your sanity are more important than your circumstances will help to make the most of every quiet moment you have.

~ * ~ * ~
36 weeks pregnant with my second child, a newly published author, and a frazzled housewife raising a toddler, I do hope that my goings-on inspire you to push through and accomplish your dreams.  There are no excuses, if housewives with young children can do it, so can you.