I don’t know if this will turn into a new series of posts or if I’ll get too embarrassed after this one and never show my face on the internet again, but I have a secret to share. I’m just going to dive on into this pool of humility and tell you about one of the most dumb mistakes I’ve ever made as an adult. So when Justin and I were married, I was 20 and had never lived on my own. To be completely honest, I didn’t know how to cook except to brown some hamburger meat and even then, I burned it because I was terrified to have any pink undone bits and yeah. Don’t feel sorry for me. I eventually sort of learned.
So when I would do our laundry, I number one, hated it because we lived in a little house at the time where the laundry room was actually the garage. Not so bad except number two, there were billions of black widows. Billions. Each with billions of tiny little devil eyeballs I would feel staring me down every time I would step foot in their territory. What I would do was basically run in, throw a mix of clothes in the washing machine, dump in a capful of pretty smelling stuff from a cute jug with pictures of flowers on it and run out, sometimes even leaping out the door because what if a spider wanted to jump on me at the last second before I left? I mean I had to get outta dodge and fast.
Laundry would be finished and I’d go get it, run back in the house and dump it on the floor and go back in maaaaaybe a week later to repeat the washing/leaping process. I never would fold the clothes on the floor. As a matter of fact, I still don’t unless somebody’s coming over to the house. And that someone has to be a “Someone” like a princess or a president who doesn’t know me very well and I want to give them a good impression. Even then, I usually don’t because it’s just like, no. I still hate it and Maddie changes her outfits 80 times a day anyway, so folding is a complete waste of time. And I don’t know any princesses or presidents — that too. This logic may appear flawed, but let me assure you, it is a reflection of magnificent growth in me personally. In the past, I would have taken the pile of clothes and hid them in my closet in trash bags. I actually did that. Frantically shoved all the clean clothes in trash bags instead of folding them so no one would judge me by my homemaking skills. Makes perfect sense.
Anyway, back to the confession. For at least two years I did laundry that way. One day when I was pregnant with Maddie, I had an eye opening experience. I don’t know if it was the nesting hormones kicking in or the fact that I just physically opened my eyeballs in the laundry aisle at the store, but I noticed there was this foreign substance called DETERGENT next to all the cute colorful jugs with flowers on them with the fancy names like Vanilla Passion Oasis that I had been using. To put it plain, my sweet naive adult self had been buying FABRIC SOFTENER based solely on the packaging and scent, then I’d go home and rush through the laundry because it’s the worst. I was basically soaking our clothes in perfume for two years and never really washing them. FOR TWO YEARS. That’s just, I don’t even know. I’m not ashamed, just kind of perplexed and actually a little in awe of how completely ridiculous it all is.
Okay, that wasn’t so bad. I’m not sure anyone can top it, but you are welcome to try! Maybe I’ll do a follow up post with all your embarrassing confessions in it. Okay yeah, that sounds fun, let’s do that!
How many times can you reheat a cup of coffee before it becomes just a really cute mug of toxic brown goo? I ask because I never really get to finish a cup without reheating at least 5 times and that’s kinda sick, no?
The moment I sit down to take that first sip is a downright intimate experience. “Come here, you sweet thing. I’ve waited all night for this.” And then no matter what state of perfect peace things are in just minutes before, the moment I go to take that first precious taste, it’s as if my entire household senses it and decides to come alive. Every time! Welp, from the sound of that screeching in the other room, the baby needs to eat or someone’s butt needs to be wiped or a spill needs to be cleaned all of a sudden right this second. Better deal or heads are gonna roll! So its back to the microwave.
Then after getting sidetracked with watching some Beat Bobby Flay or Pioneer Woman (#priorities), dealing with a few more rounds of poops (#regular), it’s already time to pick up Maddie from school (#commoncore) and I still haven’t finished that cup I made at 8am. I’m not even exaggerating here!
Not to mention, we don’t have an actual coffee maker or a Keurig or anything normal like that. We have this aeropress thingamagig Justin bought because he enjoys buying terrible things that confuse the average human being. It probably takes about the same amount of time as brewing a pot of coffee, but it only makes one serving. And the process is not exactly convenient nor does it invigorate.
Ahh, just look at it. It has hipster-like appeal, doesn’t it? Don’t be fooled, Susie. When you don’t have a handsome flannel-wearing, bearded man making one for you, it’s downright medieval torture first thing in the morning. Funny thing, now that I mention it, I do have one of those handsome flannel-wearing bearded men, so why am I complaining again? Oh right, I haven’t had my coffee yet this morning. brb, I left it in the microwave.
And on that note…
It’s been kind of cryptic around these parts the past year or so and it feels like it’s time to step out and be a little more transparent with my writing. Vulnerability was never my strong suit, and though I’ve always been pretty open about my life, how stressed I could get, how crazy my kids would act and how annoying my husband could be, it was never from a place of complete honesty. I guess I never really thought everyone wanted to see the weak parts in all their glory, so I put on a bit of a show to try to mask some of what was going on. The things I wrote were true, just not very deep. You didn’t really see Morgan. So I’m pushing aside all worry of coming across cuckoo for cocoa puffs and I’m just going for it! (Which, in essence, is another step in my healing process. To step out and be seen for who I really am. So thanks for being a part of this!)
There’s been somewhat of a paradigm shift for me. Do I still have hard days as a mom/wife/human being? Sure. But the change has been in how I’m trying to not automatically go to the negative place in my mind, thoughts, etc. and purpose myself to think on what is good. To not grab hold of the lies and negativity that cross my mind so easily and quickly, but instead to purposefully push those aside and replace them with something positive and true.
The most helpful tool of sorts that has impacted my life has been this: Think about what I’m thinking about. In my darkest hour, I was saturated in condemning, shameful, comparative, negative thoughts. I was so hard on myself for the mistakes I’d made and the person I had become over time. I really didn’t recognize myself and actually quite honestly hated who I saw in the mirror. The true shift began when I stopped buying into that garbage.
Think about what I’m thinking about. I do this as often as I can throughout the day. Not every thought HAS to take root and become a part of my identity. There are a lot of pretty negative/hurtful/perverse things that cross our minds if you start to pay attention. The thing I decided is, who cares? Just because something crossed my mind doesn’t mean it’s true or that I am forced to believe it. Yes, it’s natural to ruminate on ideas and concepts that aren’t necessarily life-giving and fruitful… we all do it, all day every day. But how much sweeter would it be if those ideas were mostly good instead of soaked in harshness and negativity? Hear me out if it sounds like a pointless concept – what harm would it do, really? We know reality. Bad things happen to us. We mess up. People are cruel. But what happens is when we sit around and ruminate on these things, we begin to believe them, they began to shape how we see ourselves and others and then over time we find that we’ve actually become the thing we feared or hated. When I say ‘we’, I’m really talking about myself because this very thing happened to me.
Not sure if this is coming across clearly, so let me give a few examples from my own experience.
I can remember times where I was too harsh with my kids and made them cry. Later that night while laying in bed, here’s what was happening in my mind, “You’re such a terrible mother. They don’t feel loved or accepted. You’re such a monster. You always do this. They’re going to grow up and have issues because of how you always scream at them. You’re screwing them up. You’re so cruel. You’re never going to change.”
This is where I lived. Every day. With everything that I put my hand to. I burned something while I was cooking and then thought, “You’re never going to be a good cook.” I got angry with Justin and then I thought, “He’s going to leave you and find someone else who IS kind to him.” How sad!! I became so fearful, angry, bitter and hard on myself, not even able to see the good. The reality is, I messed up. I was angry. I was manipulative. I flipped people off and chewed people out and hurt those I loved and who loved me. I was a terrible cook. Does that mean it’s the end of the world and there’s no hope for me? No. Does that mean I’m always going to be that way and I’m a monster? No.
The next thing I began doing after thinking about what I was thinking about was to stop believing the junk. Sometimes positive things don’t cross our minds very often on their own, so for me, that means I sometimes have to literally look myself in the mirror and think (sometimes say) “No Morgan, you are good. You are honest. You have a pure heart. You are gentle and kind. You speak nothing but sweetness and truth. Justin appreciates you. You are a perfect mother.” And you know what? Those things may not be 100% true in the moment, but doing that has changed me. I don’t hate myself anymore. I truthfully can say I love myself, where I am right now. I may not be perfect, but who the heck is? I might as well be a little easier on myself while I’m figuring all this out. It sure hasn’t hurt anything.
There have been some dark moments where I’ve been driving down the road and thought, “I should just swerve off into that ditch” and then I was like, all disturbed that I merely thought it. “Oh my God, I’m going crazy. I am a danger to myself. My mind isn’t right.” I was upset about that for a long time because on top of actually thinking about killing myself and not really knowing why, I was also pregnant at the time. Am I suicidal? Do I really want to die and take my baby with me? NO WAY! And that’s the honest to God truth. Just because it crossed my mind for whatever reason, I didn’t have to believe it or follow through with it. And I didn’t have to believe the lies that followed! I am NOT crazy. I have a sound mind and I love my life and my baby. That’s an extreme example to apply this concept to, but in the day to day, we really do grab hold of a lot of crap that we don’t have to.
Take the lady who cuts in line for example. Was it rude? Absolutely. Do I know everything about this woman and her life? No. She could be a kind, considerate person who just happened to be caught up thinking about her grocery list and didn’t see me. If I were to bite her head off, or leave the store and ruminate on how rude she was all the way home, while I was cooking dinner for my family, while I was laying in bed on into the next day, give her a piece of my mind while blow drying my hair, what does that do? It just steals my peace and joy. It’s like a poison you just keep drinking. A knife you just keep twisting. So yeah, maybe the fact is that she was actually cutting me in line because she was an inconsiderate butthole. It would STILL do me good to think the best about her. Where’s the harm in that? This applies to thinking and speaking about my kids, my husband, myself. If you’re believing the best about others, you have to believe the best about yourself as well. “You’re never going to be a good cook.” You know how many times I’ve thought that about myself over the course of my life? I finally decided to stop believing it and try to do the opposite. And you know what? I’m not Iron Chef Mario Batali, but I’m sure not as terrible at it as I once believed. I’m actually getting pretty good. I never would have given it an honest shot if I didn’t stop myself from believing the worst.
I know thinking on something that doesn’t seem possible sounds dumb. I keep it in perspective. If I was in a dark alley and a man came up to me with a shank, I definitely wouldn’t be believing the best about him like, “oh maybe he just wants a friendly conversation” – like, use a little wisdom. Homeboy is getting maced and can find another friend. (Plus, what am I doing in a dark alley to begin with?) Also I realize I have to change some of my ways and circumstances aren’t going to shift just because I think “I am kind.” I’m just noticing that taking that first step in starting to believe good things, and starting to imagine that I could be different than how I am now is actually doing some of that work for me. What I’m saying that where I put my mind and my speech, my actions are following. And then, it’s been amazing, but the circumstances are starting to change. It feels unnatural, sure, to argue with my husband and then stop myself and think “I’m more kind than this. He loves me. I love him. We’re better than this” And then instead of continuing to be mad at him, it actually has helped me then be better at apologizing and owning up for my side of things. And over time, we are finding that we aren’t even having those fights at all because we’re both thinking the best about one another! It has helped me to break out of that familiar place of feeling so sorry for myself, so depressed and anxious and fearful and bitter, so hard on myself for messing up, that I can actually stir myself up on something positive, take care of the mistake in the moment and move on to do better next time. No ruminating. No beating myself up.
Think about what you’re thinking about. You don’t have to accept everything you’ve been told by yourself or others. If we’re not careful, we can get caught up in believing the worst. I challenge you to capture those thoughts about yourself — the big ones at first, then the more subtle ones you’ve believed for so long will start coming up — put them to death and replace them with the best possible scenario. Because the truth is you are pure hearted. You are kind. You are patient and gentle. You are a wonderful person. You are great at that one thing. You’ll be amazed with what starts to happen once you begin to believe it.
Tomorrow Ruthie will be TWO MONTHS OLD. Mother of pearl, that was fast.
This little lady is something else. She is such a delightful little bug — she’s very alert, smiles all the time and makes the sweetest cooing sounds. I can hear her “talking” in the next room right now, as a matter of fact. THE BEST. I’m thankful that she is sleeping through the night and never melts down, even though it’s looking like she’s begun teething. I know, WUT. I guess that’s what happens when you bake for three extra weeks… I have to remind myself that she’s actually closer to 3 months old, which is when Maddie and Jack started teething. Seriously though, even with that happening, Ruth is such an easy-going baby.
When I was pregnant, I had a hard time imagining what this one would look like and what kind of personality she would have. Since I already had a girl and a boy, it was hard to imagine another one looking any different than Maddie or Jack, but she came out seeming like a perfect combination of them both. Now her personality is starting to come out and I can assuredly say she is her very own brand of wonderful. The only thing about her that isn’t perfectly dainty is the fact that her poop could rival that of a 250 pound man after consuming a large and very spicy curry. Look at that sweet face though!
I seriously thought I’d be pregnant forever. After almost 43 weeks in my belly (yes, you read that right), Ruth Margaret Gable is finally here!
After that last post I wrote, I was sure I’d be going into labor at any moment. Like I said, since about 37 weeks, I had been having a ton of false labor pains. I’d sit through a few hours of contractions, getting more and more uncomfortable, sometimes I’d make a call or send a text to my midwife to give her a heads up, and then pfffffft. Like clockwork, they’d fizzle out and I’d go to bed with the sads. I had made up my mind since the very beginning though. I wasn’t going to get my little grubby hands involved in any way this time. I wanted my labor to start naturally and to have as little medical intervention as possible. I realize this might not be an option for everyone, so I’m very thankful for the chance to experience pregnancy, labor and delivery in the way I felt the most comfortable and in control as I was able. After two previous forced starts to labor (castor oil and pitocin), I really wanted a different experience. I have to fess up though… I did drink a bit of castor oil somewhere around 41 weeks in a moment of weakness, but most of it immediately came back up and gave me nothing but a bad case of gas for a few hours. Which, let’s be real… wasn’t all that different from every other day of the pregnancy.
On the morning of August 2nd, I woke up feeling a little off. I was just sort of lounging on the couch all morning watching HGTV and was feeling some period-like cramps, which I pretty much dismissed as another bout of false contractions. I was going to be pregnant forever, remember? Around 11 or so, the four of us got up and around and took a trip to Walmart to get some plumbing parts for our leaky toilet. I said something to Justin about how funny it would be if I was really in labor and didn’t have a working toilet. HAHAHA, SOOOO HILAR.
Walmart was Walmart and I wanted to leave after about 3 minutes. I was more agitated than I had felt in a long time and was still feeling contractions, but I wasn’t quite convinced they were the real deal yet. On to Target we went.
It was about the time the kids were looking at a giant book about Legos that I realized. I timed a good handful of contractions with an app on my phone as we leisurely strolled through Target and they were about 45 seconds and 4 minutes apart. Welp, I guess it’s time to grab that gigantic tub of licorice I’ve been craving and skidaddle.
In the parking lot, I called my midwife. She had checked me out the day before and I dilated to about a 4, but after discussing it and considering all the starts/stops, we decided it’d be okay if she headed out of town to go to her granddaughter’s birthday party for a day. By the time I called her to let her know I thought this could be the real deal, she was already in her car with her husband and on their way. I had a back up midwife lined up if anything like this happened, so I wasn’t really worried. Plus, I kind of still didn’t really believe I was really in labor. I KNOW. Looking back and thinking about how I had to stop and breathe through contractions and how I even passed the makeup aisles without so much as flinching in their direction, HOW COULD I NOT HAVE KNOWN? This is the third time I had done this, for Pete’s sake. It’s almost like I needed it in writing, signed by the President or something.
My midwife suggested I go on home, take a bath and eat some lunch. Usually, relaxing a bit will cause false contractions to ease off, so that’s what we were trying to do. I did what she suggested and while I was in the shower, Justin was scrambling around the house, straightening up and making a bed for me on the couch. He also fixed the toilet at lightning speed and I am forever grateful. He was such an angel throughout this entire thing… More on that later.
So after being home for only about half an hour, I was starting to feel legit pains:
(Apologies if the exposed midriff is causing you to stumble.)
After Justin took that photo, I had to use the bathroom like whoa, so I hung out in there for about 20 minutes (TMI, don’t you love it? Poop and labor = BFF). I could hear him pacing the living room and making some phone calls. My midwife, who was still on her way out of town, gave him the number for the back up midwife. He called her and she was 40 minutes away. Yikes. Next was a phone call to my parents, who were supposed to pick up Maddie and Jack at this point, but they were 2 hours away. Then a call to my doula, who was busy at another birth. I remember leaning on the bathroom counter and Justin came in to tell me that we were on our own for at least the next 40 minutes and we seriously just laughed. During the pregnancy, we talked about what would happen if he had to deliver the baby and they covered it in the home birth class, but we never formally planned for it to ACTUALLY happen. I can’t describe what was going on in my head at that moment, but even though everything I had envisioned was seemingly slipping through my fingers, I somehow knew it was going to turn out more than fine. The peace was indescribable… as were the poop pains. Back to the toilet, brb.
A few minutes later, I emerged a new woman — a woman in honest-to-goodness active labor. I ended up on my knees on the floor in front of the couch, leaning my upper body over the seat cushions. I have no idea how I chose that place to have the baby. I had tossed around a few possibilities beforehand, thinking maybe it would happen in our bedroom or bathroom. The tub, perhaps? Candles lit and relaxing music playing? The fact that I landed in one of the most random spots in the house without any recollection of consciously choosing it proves what I had heard about home birth and your instincts just leading you to settle in the right spot for you to birth the baby. Sounds kumbaya my Lord, but honestly, it did end up being the best place for me to have the baby. By the way, there was no time for candles or music. I labored to the soothing sounds of Jumanji on TV in the next room where my kids were hanging out. Screeching monkeys really puts you in the frame of mind for birthing, FYI.
Justin called my midwife, put her on speaker and set the phone on the couch about a foot from my head. I clearly remember NOT wanting to talk or be helped in any way. I wanted to be done. I screamed, I cried a little, and she calmly coached me through it. She told me to put my pain to good use and bear down through the contractions. Justin was behind me (sorry, honey) and was doing everything my midwife instructed him to do. I’ll spare you some of the details there. Water had started leaking, he was checking for the baby’s head, you get it. I can’t remember exactly what he was doing that whole time, but he was encouraging and sweet throughout it all. And remarkably calm! I felt so safe with him there.
I felt the baby’s head move down at one point, then again during the next contraction. I was like, “ohhh craaaap, this is really happening” and my midwife could tell by my screeching what was going on. The baby was almost out. She said, “Okay, Justin and Morgan. I need you to look in each other’s eyes and agree that you still don’t want to call 911. Are you ready to do this?” Through blurred, mascara-teared eyes, I looked at Justin and we both said “Yes.” I’m sure I looked so hot in that moment. Like, irresistible even. Justin’s expression was the best though. I’ll never forget it. Excited, a little nervous about the unknown, but still confident. And dang cute. I think he looked the cutest he’s ever looked to me on that day.
You guys, it felt like I had to take the biggest poop of my life. I knowww, I’m sorry for the repeated mentions of poop, but it’s honestly what it felt like! The pain in my butt was literal and it was something I hadn’t felt with the previous epidurals. It. Was. Intense. But it didn’t last long.
I pushed once and the baby’s head came out. No time for 911 anyway at that point. Justin held it, as I was still leaning over the couch. Right at that moment, the back up midwife busted through the door, slid across our living room floor while simultaneously snapping on her gloves. It was kind of Matrix-y and awesome how she flew in like that. She put her hands down there to catch the baby as I pushed her out. She passed Ruth through my legs and I held her for the first time. Baby Ruth. She was here and she was perfect!
Don’t be fooled by this picture. This was about 10 minutes after I had Ruth, I totally wasn’t wearing pants and still had to deliver the placenta. Buckets of fun! That part took three flippin hours and was honestly the most painful part. My back up midwife kept saying, “How do you spell relief? P-L-A-C-E-N-T-A” and she was not joking. Getting that thing out was the best feeling ever. Then I could actually take a shower, snuggle my sweet baby and eat some Chipotle.
Our sweet Maddie and Jack were in the next room the entire time, poking their heads in and out to check on me. Maddie even unlocked the door for the midwife and handed Justin a few things during the crazy part of my labor. Justin and I had done our best to prepare them, but I think my screaming kind of took them by surprise. They were incredibly sweet to the baby when she arrived though, and that hasn’t stopped since.
More posts to come, as I’m sure I forgot a few details and I’ll have some questions to answer. I’ll get to that soon. For now, know that we’re in heaven with our family of 5 and are all enjoying every second with our precious Ruthie.