Goodreads

Karin Mitchell's books on Goodreads
Between Families Between Families
reviews: 5
ratings: 8 (avg rating 4.75)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

I wrote a book. I wrote it a long time ago. And it wasn't very good. But then I started getting my master's degree in writing in order to learn how to edit a book. And I learned how to edit a book. Check.

So then I went back to my book. And that's how I knew the first draft wasn't very good. It wasn't terrible either. You'd read it through to the end likely. But it needed direction and to be more fluid. Plus, I'm a better writer now than I was when I wrote the first draft. So I tackled a lot of the focusing and rewriting this fall.

The book's about a girl who is removed from her home and lives in residential treatment. I wanted a story like this to exist. I felt like people needed it to exist. So I wrote it.

But I've felt weird about writing my book. I feel like someone might slap me across the face and yell "IMPOSTER"

But the thing is, I believe in the story. And I wrote a good book. Those are important. And while I don't know that I accomplished the huge goals I had of making a story for people who've been through it, and also of making a story that will bring some awareness to these stories to the public, I did my damnest.

So who the hell am I to write a story like this or to ask people to donate money to make it great? It turns out, I'm the one who wrote it down. I'm the one who tried. And even if I didn't meet these goals, maybe it will spur someone else on to doing it better. There's far more than one story of kids in residential treatment but if this is the one you read, I wrote a good book at least.

Please click the link below and share or donate to support bringing it to readers.
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/83864091/between-families-a-novel

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Struggles & The Luxuries

I made friends with my birthing class teacher. I did it because she is the kind of woman you can tear your pants in front of and not bother to change, the kind of woman you don't have to clean your house to have over, the kind of woman you can give birth in front of. It doesn't hurt that she's beautiful.

I like having beautiful friends. And I have a lot of them. I'm spoiled like that. I hate to admit this, but I really like to have good-looking teachers. The truth is, if someone's teaching you, there's a solid chance you're staring at that person's face for a long, long time and it's nicer to do if it's a pretty face. I bet there's no research on that, but I bet it's true that all other things being equal, we like pretty teachers better. So I made friend with this pretty teacher lady and it's turned out really nicely. I also love her daughter who is a special class of spitfire.

Anyway, my friend came over the other day to have our kids play while we drink coffee and be in this world together. I can be in the struggle with this friend. And that's quality. She and I are having similar struggles. We're good moms who are skilled at finding resources and activities in the community and sometimes we don't get enough sleep and get annoyed with our kids. We both stopped working at maximum capacity and stayed home (mostly) with our kids. We both bought our homes when we were DINKs (dual income no kids,) and then nearly cut our incomes in half and now have two kids. We both enjoy working and enjoy grownup time and trying to figure out how to approach a balance with that is a challenge.

I have cast my lot and made my choice. I quit my job and went to school and I'm finishing my book which isn't as good as I want but isn't bad either. I pursue being a writer. And eventually I'll make a living at it. It may take a long, long time, but I have a long life ahead of me and enjoy working at this so that's ok. Mostly.  Sometimes it doesn't feel so ok.

It doesn't feel great that we buy gifts for birthday parties at thrift stores. Even though it is a more earth-friendly gift giving method, I feel cheap and trashy about our gifts sometimes. A three or four-year old doesn't know where you got a present. He only knows it's awesome. Still, I feel cheap when I get them at a thrift or consignment store. Even though I don't feel that way when someone gives us those gifts. I prefer them. Because it's a more sustainable practice and it makes me feel like the person giving the gift gets our family and its values. But when I do it, I know we have to do it that way. We don't have the income to spare.

And the income struggle is the struggle for us. I feel that struggle when we can't afford to visit family most. When I stress about how to pay for insurance which I haven't purchased yet. When I can't take the kids for an activity like a cool scenic train ride or when I can't buy the expensive coffee I want. Or when I'm deciding whether to attend graduation and not having the money to rent the cap and gown is a problem. Sometimes not being able to do something makes me want to do it more.

I quit my job at the beginning of 2012 and I don't regret it for a second. That job was killing me. And I'm good at tons of things so it's profoundly stupid for me to spend time working in something that makes me that miserable. That said, I feel responsible for the financial situation we're in now.

I fantasize about the day when I'll make a good living and enable my husband to quit his job and play guitar all day. He knows I'd do it and there's a reciprocity there that helps me get through this time when he's supporting us. I feel uncomfortable about that. Him supporting us. It feels like I've done a shitty job as a feminist even though that's not what it's about.

What it IS about is making a good decision for our family. Parenting my kids and pursuing writing. I have to do it. Or what the hell kind of person am I?

When I think back to how I got through it when I very first quit, I remember thinking of all the luxuries this choice provided for our family. So much time to sit on the floor and sing with my boy. Time to make elaborate healthy meals with whole ingredients, including grating my own orange zest and making a rue for pasta. The time I spent with Magnus resulted in him being more secure; you could tell within a month or two he felt that way.

And it's still a struggle. That truth sits in my delicious coffee mug filled with homebrewed coffee with my favorite chip in the side of the mug. I like the way the chip fits against my bottom lip when I hold my spoon to the side and slurp. We don't have money. We've sold our car and tried to sell our house and deferred our loans in order to have this life together. That truth cools my mouth.

But there are these luxuries that you just can't buy with money. I play ring-around-the-rosie and read parenting books that I get time to apply. I stop what I'm doing to run outside and jump in puddles or grab handfuls of the first snow with the kids. I lay in bed in the morning with both boys clambering for snuggles from every person in the bed. Sometimes they bonk heads and laugh and do it again because all those smooches and hugs pad the pain of any struggle. I write. I write and write. I teach and live to inspire myself to write and teach more. I watch videos to see what I can use to inspire my students and catch the bug in the process. I help. I cook and I pet my cat and wear yoga pants while writing my blog. My life is luxurious. It is full and well worth the struggle.

Monday, September 30, 2013

When I was a little girl, I befriended a little old lady who lived several houses down on our street. She was in her nineties and rarely left her house. I don't even remember how I met her now. I took to heart the lessons I learned in church and checked in on her from time to time. She was on Social Security and barely scraped by. She was very frail and could hardly walk to the end of her driveway and so the mailman came to her door. It was a small town and people did things like that. I remember the trouble she had lifting her arms to comb her long, silver-streaked gray hair. She had crocheted toilet paper roll covers that made her tissue into dolls with full skirts. Once, I "helped" her make pasta. I remember how she stood, her walker next to her and her table before her, and with slow deliberation, cut the layers of pasta.

I don't remember how it tasted or what else we did with it. Just the act of her impossibly small frame leaning over the table to cut it. I wanted desperately to help her. To make her less alone. To listen to the stories she surely had to tell. But mostly, I ended up watching soap operas and waiting for her to speak. I don't think I could ever make pasta from scratch again. If I did, it would surely be filled with salty tears and nostalgia for an old woman I never got to say goodbye to, who likely took her best stories to her grave.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Wooed by an idea

Writing is an optimistic endeavor in which you are wooed by some bitch-ass muse who gives you an idea and floats a few bars of music ahead of you singing sweetly "I'm right here." And so you think you can write it all down and it'll be poetic and beautiful and fast. The grind of getting it all to work is the dirty work she doesn't tell you about. I could really smack her with the broomstick I'm using to chase all the details around with.

If I win the battle, I'll be releasing "Between Families" sometime around Christmas. If the victory is delayed, it might not be until 2014. More on that later.

I talk too much about parenting. I know I do it. I hate that I do it. I love that I do it. I want to be sure to be a person outside of parenting. A person you don't have to talk to about your kids or your sore spots in order to relate. I want to. But most of my life is parenting. Most of my mind is parenting. It's making writing pretty hard. Because when I write, my whole mind is writing. I forgot that I was driving and almost dumped the coffee grounds in the recycling yesterday because I was in my novel instead of the actual moment. I love that/hate that.

I come up with games to play with my kids all the time. Usually they involve smooching or snuggling because I'm a smooshy mama like that. But sometimes they involve drawing pictures and coming up with stories to go with them. Sometimes they're humming over the gravel on a dirt road at the top of your lungs with the windows down. And those times are why it's ok with me that I talk too much about parenting. You have to do what you're passionate about.

The thing is, parenting isn't my only passion, just the most important one I'm engaged in right now. I'm also passionate about this book. And I'm passionate about the mountains and yoga and swimming and being in my body in the world I'm in. And teaching. And I'm getting to do most of those things. Not so much the being in my body in the world part. I dream about it. I get to write and teach and be with my kids lately though.

I started teaching at the community college. It's actually a pretty amazing fit. I think. Time will tell. I'm more skeptical about that sort of thing. I'm trying to temper my optimism a bit. Sometimes it works. The rest of the time, I get really swept up in helping grown ups learn to write better and be passionate about finding and speaking the truth and improving their lives.

So I go to sleep completely exhausted and satisfied and overwhelmed and busy. And I dream of moving my body around in every which stretch strong way. It's a full life. A struggling, hard work life. It makes me need to smooch my kids and wrestle them and tickle them and smile and sleep and dream.

And now to write.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Some random stuff I learned lately

A group of puffins is called a loaf. Ha! Puffin loaf.

Whales tan.

You're only supposed to space once between sentences when typing. Me? Twice. Trying to stop. it. 2 spaces wasted 13 pages of my first draft of my novel. Isn't that just the craziest?

Dogs can smell under water. They use dogs to find people when they've drowned. They're called cadaver dogs. Eerily, I learned this just before all the flooding started in Colorado.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Why do people homeschool?Sure you think it's because they have religious preferences or are crazy xenophobes or have kids with specific learning needs or because the parents are concerned for their child's safety/well being at school where there gangs/drugs/sex/etc.

But really? It's because they can NOT bring themselves to get the kids out the door every morning.

They're getting away with something here. I thought you should know.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The smell of cardemom makes me want to cry. I picture being in my aunt's kitchen and the way the smells all mixed: cardemom and coffee and something cooked long and perfectly during the day. Onions and bread? I wonder if that coffee maker still sits in that kitchen, if my uncle uses it now that she's gone? I remember the yellowy stains on the white plastic of that coffee maker whose light always, always glowed red. It's a wonder the light never burnt out.

I'm teaching GED in addition to Composition classes at the community college. I love it. It's in the basement with coffee and cookies. Which is good because it's past my bedtime and I need coffee and cookies after 8:30.

I taught someone the shape of writing Monday. Some of the students need to learn how to structure writing or how to avoid a sentence fragment. Some were just kinda punks in school that have a test to take, but others... well I wonder what happened there. Others need to learn when to use a comma and when you use a period. Or how a paragraph is shaped.

What made them never take notice that the text all around them had starts and stops? Squares and chinks clipped out of the beginning of each box and spaces in places. I never took the time to notice the shape of writing. Except in poems.

I wonder what he'll teach me next.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Magnus turned 3 today. He's rocked my world in these past 3 years. It was just 3 years ago that we found out he was a he. Just over three years ago I had no kids. That blows my mind.

Here's what I love. I love his enthusiasm. The other day, he called me into his room in an emergency kind of voice to announce that "The sky is BLUE." We stood at the window watching the clouds allow blue sky to peek out at us and I felt how exciting a peek-a-blue sky could be.

I love seeing the world through his eyes. Some of our current favorite activities/games are: WrestleWrestle, him running the length of our house before knocking me over with a hug, puzzles, window-paint markers, dance party (where he gets to stand on the kitchen counters and dance,) and endless goo-goo noises and fake-sneezes at Gavin to make him laugh.

He now stops before explaining things, even beginning sentences with a slight smack of his tongue against his teeth that tells you he's slowing things down to make them clear to you.

He wants to learn the words for things in Swedish.  We worked really hard on learning to sing Happy Birthday in Swedish in time for today and he sang his own version at the top of his lungs to a crowd of twentysome onlookers. 

He beamed the entire day.  I did too.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

I was at a coffee shop today anxiously looking back and forth between my kids and the coffee and trying desperately to be aware of EVERY part of my surroundings (sometimes I'm over-the-top neurotic,) when I almost stumbled over a really good looking man in a wheel chair.  He'd obviously had his legs amputated.  With sandy blonde hair and an infectious smile, he was all-American good-looking, wholesome and all that, with a really beautifully developed upper body.  And I could totally picture what he'd look like if his bottom still matched his top.  He'd have been taller than me and I would not have met his gaze.  I don't usually make eye contact with good-looking men.

We each stumbled around each other, politely excusing ourselves and I, for once in my life, did NOT say the dumb thing I was thinking which was "Do you want to dance?" 

I'm working on my novel again. I wrote it in 2007 & 2008 and haven't touched it since.  Which is a weird thing to do, I realize.  Write a whole novel and then panic and do nothing with it.  So I've been going to graduate school for writing and have finally come back to it.  Thank goodness I left it sitting there for all that time.  I needed the perspective.  Now I can see it's missing legs.  It needs work.  I see it and what I want it to be, what I wish it were.  I feel bad that seeing that man made me think of that.  That I can't see him for who he is, but see what he was or would be with legs.  But I need to dive into what I have in front of me and make it a whole piece. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Toddler Dreams

The nice thing about having such a verbal child is that he even talks in his sleep.  So you get to learn what he has bad dreams about. 

"I want to go over there."
"I want to have my eggs in a bowl."
"I want to eat the food on mommy's plate."
"You wouldn't hold my hand."
"You wouldn't let me jump in puddles on the trail."

Sunday, September 1, 2013

A glimpse of the future

I'm eternally picturing my kids' behavior as adult problem-behavior.  Like when Magnus was a baby and would crawl over and bite your toes, I pictured him as one of those weird people on the subway that grabs women and deepthroats their feet.  Yeah.

So today, Magnus and Gavin and I are in the car waiting for Rob to grab condoms from the store and Magnus is chattering away.  He explains that he will grow up.  And when he grows up he will go in the beer store with dad and me and he will buy beer for daddy.  But Gavin won't come.  He'll wait in the car and cry.

Then he tells me for the third time that he has to pee.  So I take him out of the car and let him piss on the wheel well of my subaru.  Instead he pisses all over his pants, hand, my wheel well, and the concrete.  He thinks this is hilarious. 

And I picture him a drunk college kid, still driving my Subaru and pissing all over himself while a friend goes in to buy more beer.  Don't worry, Gavin's sober driver.  That's why he's crying.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Magnus Lately

Magnus is about to turn three.  He is well aware.  Apparently you're supposed to teach them to sing the ABCs while washing hands but I taught him to sing "Happy Birthday" instead.  He always knows whose birthday is next as a result.  And his is next.  He will have cake.  And ice cream.  And presents.  And friends.  And no you can't eat all his cake.  But he'll give you some.  I might be close to as excited about it as he is if I'm really honest about it. 

My mom's got a foreign exchange student from Sweden and he and I were trying to teach Magnus to sing "Happy Birthday" in Swedish.  Magnus tried for a while singing "ja ma han leva" several times and then switching to "boring, boring," before returning to just singing "LA LA LA," at the top of his lungs.

Gavin loves to sing.  He also loves to eat paper.  Correction, he loves to choke on paper.  He tears small pieces from pages and then you hear him hacking and have to pry is gums open to sweep the pulp from his little 7-month-old mouth.  Stinker.  He does not love sleeping.  I don't know why my kids don't love sleeping. 

In other news, I'm finally returning to working on my novel since finishing it, oh, six years ago and then never rereading it again.  I finally reread it.  It needs work.  The premise is good though.  I'll give it a go.  More on that later.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Body Image

You ever hold a baby and think that baby's healthy body was anything but rad.  Well, I mean, not when it's shitting on you or spitting up or whatever.  I mean, a healthy sleepy baby or a healthy happy baby who's cooing and smiling and laughing because you just sneezed. 

No teeth, squealing glee.  I don't care if you're a person who calls babies crotch droppings, that shit's unbelievable.  Ovary-melting goodness. 

Even if there's something you don't like about the baby's face, and let's face it, if the baby's not on the cover of Baby's Poo Magazine, you think something is askew.  Eyes too small maybe, too far apart.  That baby would be cute if he didn't have that zit or he wasn't giving you a preview of his middle aged male pattern baldness issue. 

But her body?  Gorgeous.  Chunkalunk rolly poly legs.  Long toes.  Dimpled knuckles.  Outie belly button.  Innie belly button.  Weird hairy back. 

I can't tell you how I love to grab my baby's thighs in both hands and raspberry his belly.  Or how excited I am to discover the first freckle on Magnus's cheek.  The tuft of hair growing at the base of Gavin's neck... hilarious!  And the blonde underneath, brown on top, two-tone hair that grows straight out of his head?  I've cut dreadlocks out of it.  I love it.

Baby bodies are so freakin cute.  The top cuteness indicators for me are their feet and their legs.  Although depending on the baby that could change.

As long as they're healthy, they're gorgeous!

Same with toddlers. 

So when does it change?  When did my healthy body stop being this thing that other people examined and adored and become this thing that I went over with a fine-toothed comb to hate upon?  When did a lil extra belly fat start meaning I was unworthy and ugly?  When did your thick ankles start to mean you hated to wear skirts and instead settled on extra long slacks with heels?  Or your looser arm skin start to mean you stopped wearing short sleeves?

I can guarantee you the people who love you most don't look at your body the way you do.  I can promise you the person who loves you most, looks at the way you spin a pen and thinks how pretty your long slender fingers are.  Or loves the way your long neck looks when you've just gotten your hair cut and you wear that small, simple necklace with the tiny diamond.  The people who love you, smile when they see the distinctive way you hop-dance, or the way you slink your head down when you're embarassed.  They don't care a fig about your minor difference from a super model.  They certainly don't care about that mole you're always hiding with high necklines, or that scar on your belly from the c-section you had.

You know what I love?  I love to see the way the scar on my wrist cuts an angle around my wrist as I limply dangle it out the open car window.  I love the curve of my foot when I point my toes.  I love my earlobes.  I never noticed it until my husband pointed it out over and over again, but now I love my perfectly balled up chin.  And I love looking down at my chest as my baby nurses.  It is the single most beautiful thing I've ever seen. 

When I see a woman in a locker room, I think how beautiful her silver hair is against a body that looks lithe and strong.  Or I notice how incredible her round tits are.  She's clearly in her 40s, good for her!  I notice older women with beautiful eyes that shimmer when she talks about grandkids the age of my kids.  Those eyes are framed by laugh lines that ripple out from her smile.  I notice the way my friend's tiny waist is accentuated by her supple hips.  And my god when that girl hip checks you, whoa!  That is one sexy, beautiful motion. 

Yet, when I'm in a locker room, what I think about myself is not about how much I love certain moles and their artful placement across my abdomen.  I hate the flaws I see grow into huge monstrous things that attack me and tell me how not worthwhile I am.  How I shouldn't eat ice cream even though I love it.  I shouldn't eat at all.  I still have 10 lbs to lose from having a baby and for crying out loud, it's been almost six months.  I lean and cower under my towel, terrified that I will ruin someone's appetite with my loose, scarred belly skin.  Heaven forbid my tits, which are doing a glorious job of feeding another human, drip.  That would be mortifying.  I'd laugh and make a joke but inside, I'd be hoping the person didn't wince or yell at me, knowing that's what I'd deserve.

In locker rooms, we women dissect and pick ourselves apart into pieces of meat that should be thrown in the trash.

I think that's a shame.  I think locker rooms should be a sacred place where we see normal bodies and see the bounty of healthy that is possible.  Variety and beauty as a buffet of validation is what should be held dear.  Here, we have an opportunity to dismiss the fashion magazines and movie star images in favor of a sea of healthy options:  supple and dimpled, lithe with ropy muscles, long nourishing nipples, and more. 

These are the type of images we should see in locker rooms.



Because healthy bodies are beautiful.  We just need to work on our imaginations a little.  We need better body images, to build better body images. 

I'm gonna get workin on it.  Just as soon as I finish this master's degree thing I started.

Monday, April 15, 2013

It was ten years ago now that I ran my first marathon.  I began training to run the marathon because of the loss of control I felt from having multiple seizures a day.  I once seized mid-stride and landed in a pile on the concrete.  I kept running. 

Four weeks before the race, I was diagnosed with a stress fracture in my leg.  I ran under water.

I ran the whole 26.2 miles by myself in a sea of other people with even more gripping stories.  I saw a firefighter running in full uniform in solidarity with firefighters who died September 11.  There was the man with the prosthetic leg for running that stood out so strongly in my mind.  I had thought I had a lot to overcome.  And I had.  The marathon gave me the control I needed to feel and made me feel strong.  It made me healthier and a better writer.  It marked the beginning of health changes I'm glad I made.

When I crossed the finish line, I cried.  It still makes me tear up to think of now.  I took the first beer someone passed me and bawled.  It was a huge accomplishment and the endorphins and the sea of successful goals I was swimming in was glorious.  It was worth every Saturday morning I hadn't wanted to get up.  It was worth feeling silly walking in a pool. 

The more I read about Boston, the more angry I am that someone took this away from runners.  The thought that some of these runners lost more than their finish line, that they lost limbs, is more than I can bare.  And I can't even touch the sadness of the death of a child. 

The finish line of the marathon was the single most pointed triumph of my life.  I cannot fathom the tragedy of losing a limb just shy of that success. 

Next year, I'm certain there will be volunteers from around the country there to support the race.  I'm sure doctors and paramedics will volunteer and that mental health professionals will offer services to those in need.  I'm certain there will be a finish line and that beautiful legs and costumes and joy will cross it.  I'm also certain that one of these victims will run Boston next year with a prosthesis and the profound triumph of the human spirit will shock the socks off of me again.  But tonight, I'm deeply sad for the losses of the day.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Birth 2.0: Born in the Caul

It's hard to say when labor began with this little guy.  Beginning nearly three weeks ago, I had irregular surges (hypnobirthing for "contraction.")  I'd have them in the middle of the night and think labor was starting and it was, but my body was really just chipping away at things.  Whatever work your body does now, it doesn't have to do during your "real" labor, right?

My due date was 1/3/13, so when I woke on 1/4/13 with regular surges, and losing some pieces of mucus plug (pretty much the grossest term ever,) I figured it would be that day.  So I texted my doulah and hypnobirthing instructor to let her know that it was likely to be soon.  Then things stopped again.  I got up to get something to eat and do some work in the kitchen and things stalled out again.  My mom had planned to take my son Magnus anyway, so we just went with that plan and Rob decided to stay home for the day with me even though I wasn't sure he'd need to.

We took a slow morning which was a delightful thing we never do.  Then we had sex to help move things along, which I have to say I did not think sounded good so much as necessary but turned out to be really enjoyable.  Seriously, pretty much never a bad idea.  It wasn't long after that that I felt things pick up.  We'd planned to have Magnus come back for nap and my mom and I planned to take the dogs out on a trail for a short and very slow walk.  We went ahead with that and my surges really picked up as soon as she picked me up.  We walked a short ways on the trail and I'd had to stop several times to move my hips and center myself to manage a surge, so I decided we should turn around.  I really knew it was going when we pulled into my driveway which has a very steep lip on it and the bump combined with a surge to steal my breath.  It was a little rough.  Still, I was worried I needed to poop and that the pain was more gas-related than uterine, so I didn't say anything to Rob when I came home.

Magnus was sleeping fitfully and I heard him cry out in his sleep.  I crawled into his bed and held him for about 20 minutes and smelled his soft head and just enjoyed what I knew would probably be the last nap with him for a while.  When I came out it was about 3:45 and I told Rob we should start calling people.  A surge came, then another 8 minutes later, then 7 minutes, then 6 and I could tell the intensity level was rising.  I told Rob to let my mom know to plan to take Magnus right after nap and that we should ask the doula to come over.  He called the midwife as well to let her know not to drive back to her home town (which is quite a ways from here.)

Michelle, our doula, arrived shortly thereafter and Rob began filling the birth tub.  By now it was about 5 pm and there was no question that this was labor.  Still, the surges felt like they were far worse and more gastric and that if I could just release some gas, they would be much more manageable.  It was probably only about 20 minutes after Michelle arrived that I went inward and stopped interacting much.  I focused on Michelle's instructions and her touch when she'd tell me where to release and where to move the energy of my body.  I focused on Rob when he told me I was breathing well and it became the only thing I heard and focused me on continuing to breathe.

The birth tub took time to fill since our hot water ran out part way through.  We had to wait for it to refill.  Then, unfortunately, the tub had filled with some cold water as well which had layered itself such that when the midwife, Alli, measured the temp, it read warm, but actually there was a layer of very cold water underneath.

Once I was in, though, there was no getting me out. Shaking or teeth chattering or no, I was not getting out.  So, Michelle boiled pots and pots of water and poured them in and between that and a towel I wore over my shoulders, it would be enough to make it doable.

We put the hypnobirthing affirmations on.  I thought I would want the relaxation track that I'd practiced relaxing to for the past several months but the birthing affirmations were what I wanted.  Her voice calmed me and reminded me that my body could do this.  Rob and Michelle constantly reminded me I could do this.  Rob touched my face and gently traced his fingers along my upper back and occasionally kissed me (I think,) and he was the only connection I had to the outside world.  I needed him like never before and he was wholly there and it made all the difference.  There is nothing more important than that moment and a coach that made the baby to begin with and cares so much about how you're doing is the most amazing thing.

After some time in the tub, I felt like I might fart or poop and that it would help ease the surges, but whenever I tried to release anything it brought on a surge and I couldn't separate the release from actual pushing which I did not want to do.  I wanted to allow the baby to come gently and not push this time.  I'd pushed for 2 hours with Magnus and it had been exhausting and not particularly efficient.  Also, I didn't feel the baby crowning so I kept thinking it was too early to push.

So I farted a little and it helped but I also nearly pushed so I continued to fight it and just focus on trying really hard to listen to Rob's voice and keep my lower abdomen relaxed through each surge.  I just tried to take each surge as it came and focus on what he said.  Sometimes it worked and I was able to not tense up and those surges were much more manageable.  Other times, I whined and cried that I couldn't do it.  He never wavered in telling me that I was doing great and that I was breathing well and just to relax.

Then I felt something I couldn't fight any more and my body began to push.  I thought the midwife and doula were telling me to wait, but it turns out they were saying to go ahead and push.  I pushed really hard and felt the head and then the body come out all in one push.  I think someone said, "That's the head.  That's the body!"I'm also pretty sure I heard my doulah say "Oh my god."  Thank fucking god, it was over!  I had never felt my water break though or the head crown so I was really surprised.  As it turns out, he was born in the caul, meaning my bag of waters didn't break-- considered very rare and fortuitous for the baby.

At 7:13 pm on 1/4/13, Gavin Patrick Murphy joined us in the birthing tub at home.  Since he was born before bedtime, his big brother along with his Grandma Marsha were able to make it over to say hi right after he was born.

It became real to me when Magnus said "Hi Gavin." And I cried smooshy, mooshy mama tears.  I just love this baby stuff.