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I knew it was there.

Anger.

Envy.

I thought I’d come to terms with it, but it bubbled up when I saw the Bradley Method book tucked in my nightstand drawer a few months ago. It came rushing to the surface when I tried to listen to a podcast interview of a blogger I like describing her most recent and second Bradley birth. I got a few minutes in and had to turn it off. I hated her and hated that she got what I didn’t. AND both of her babies were larger than Forest.

I’m still a bit pissed off that I didn’t get the labor and birth I wanted. What’s ironic is that I’m actually not upset with having a C-section, if that makes any sense. That doesn’t bother me. My scar doesn’t bother me. No, what bothers me most is that I didn’t get to experience what I had prepared for.

In my head this is how it was going to go down, or some version of this scenario: I was going to be doing some evening gardening and walking around the yard and feel the first twinges of contractions. We’d go out for dinner and come back and watch tv or a movie. Throughout the night labor would progress. Sometime the next day I’d reach the point where contractions were coming one right after another, maybe even get to transition, and we’d rush out the door for the hospital. In the birthing room at the hospital I’d be able to breathe through the contractions and maybe it would take longer to push than I thought, but Chris would be right there helping me along. I would be in a position I’d feel comfortable in and then *bam* Forest would be out and in my arms, all gooey and sweet. I’d get that first hour of nursing and bonding right away. There’d be pictures and quiet talking, glowing smiles and tiredness all wrapped into it all. We’d text and call our family and friends and have several hours together as a family before anyone arrived.

What bothers me are the what-ifs that will never be answered because hey, I have the most awesome child in the world (as every mom says) and he got here safely (despite some scary moments with the epidural). What bothers me is those moments the week before, the feeling of being pressured into induction because of the fear he’d be too large. But, what did we know? We wanted a safe delivery of our child and despite knowing about all of these pressures for induction and c-sections from the childbirth class and from all of the birthing books that I read, we went with the flow and lead from our midwife and ob. What else would a parent do? I am sure someone with more fortitude or the experience of another birth might have fought it, but when you aren’t sure of the outcome of it all and you just want your baby to be safe and sound…what else do you do? Sometimes I think maybe I shouldn’t been so scared of the c-section and held out to go into labor on my own and if nothing progressed well once I was in labor on my own, then gone ahead with the c-section. It does nothing to think of the what-if’s though.

I just feel cheated. Which is really a very stupid thing to say and to read. In fact, re-reading what I’ve written here I know I sound very selfish. But the feelings are still there. It’s a loss, the loss of a moment, of something I’d been thinking about for many months prior to the actual events. And it isn’t like I think about this every day. I don’t. Not even once a week. But it’s those little times where something triggers the feelings that are still there in my heart.

So there it is, a postpartum battle wound that is healing but likes to rear its ugly head every once in awhile. One day I’ll be totally at peace with it, but for now I think I’ll attempt to avoid triggers when I can and accept the feelings as they come.

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I think every update on here I could say “Forest is changing dramatically!”, because honestly that’s how things are going from week to week around here. Forest spent a lot of January trying to perfect rolling over, rolling on occassion and getting stuck on his arm. Then one morning about two weeks ago as I was pumping before work and before Chris had left with him for daycare, Forest just wiggled around on his back while on his playmat and then rolled over like it was no big deal. Then he did it again a few minutes later after I flipped him back over. He hasn’t looked back since! Now I find him snoozing on his belly in the pack and play at night though sometimes he wakes himself up because he’s rolled over. Give him long enough on his back and he’ll decide he wants to be on his belly! We’ve now entered the ‘watch him like a hawk’ phase on the changing table.

Now, once he’s on his belly it can go either a: happy he’s on his belly and want to play for a good awhile or b: upset he’s on his belly because, uh, how can I get anywhere, Mom? He’s definitely interested in moving and he’ll try to move himself forward to no avail. A couple of times I’ve seen him attempt to put his knees under his body but he’s not there yet. I think in the next month to six weeks, though, we might be finding ourself with a baby trying to crawl!

A few weeks ago he found his high pitched voice and started enjoying shrieking and squealing! We’re still on the dadadada phase of ‘words’ but sometimes I really do think he’s repeating what I say…I swear he said ‘Good morning’ back to me one morning. Forest is a talkative kid though he’s like his mom and after his initial wakeup conversation in the morning of ‘oohs and ahhh’s’, he likes to chill for about 30 minutes to an hour to just wake-up and relax.

He’s definitely turning into a monster in regards to sticking things in his mouth! If he can put it in there, it goes in. He’ll be chilling on the yoga mat (because it is sticky and won’t slide) watching Wonder Pets on his Boppy, and next thing you know he’s got his sock off and he’s gnawing on it. Sock out, insert pacifier. I’ve taken to calling him a lamprey because he’ll suck on your arm, suck on your face, whatever he can attach his mouth to! He is in a grabbing phase (and will reach out for items, too) and I’m finding myself even taking off my earrings at times, even just studs. He’s reached out for Leo a few times, luckily only when I’m holding him and Leo comes up for pets. One day Forest is going to find out the wrong way that you don’t grab Leo’s tail, but until then I’m trying to hold it off as long as possible.

In the last three weeks we’ve all gotten sick, again. I’m hoping this sickness phase is ending and we can go for many months without any illness yet again. Forest got sick with some vomitting right around the 5 month mark. He seemed to recover ok for a day only to get sick again. I took him into the pediatrician even though he wasn’t running a fever and she found he had another ear infection—maybe related to the barfing, maybe not related—his third ear infection since December. That’s a lot. I think the kid got my crappy ear canals. So, he got on the strong antibiotics. The week before I had gone back to dairy since he had seemed to be better but also got on some antibiotics for some other upper respiratory crap, and Forest started developing a diaper rash that week. But when he got on the new antibiotics the diaper rash just got worse and stayed bad, really until the last few days. The doc gave us an antifungal to use as she suspected it was a yeast infection from the wonderful combination of antibiotics and probably a bit of the dairy. I went back off dairy but I really didn’t think it was the main cause of the issue, it was just a perfect storm at that moment. I’m now easing back into the dairy again. I’m hoping he doesn’t have any more ear infections for awhile because the doc was acting like the next steps were tubes in his ears! Plus, he’s turning into Leo when we give him his medicine, shaking his head and trying to position his mouth in the least accessible way.

Only a few more weeks and we’re going to start working food into his diet. I’ve been reading up on Baby Led Weaning/Feeding again and getting excited but also a little nervous and sad. He’s not actually weaning yet, but I’m a little nervous that he’ll decide to wean himself earlier than my current goal of getting to a year of breastfeeding. As for his first food, I’m not sure what we’re going to try yet. I know most things I’ve read say to try one food for a few days and look for reactions and then try the next one and so on and so forth. I was thinking avocado because it is a good, fat rich food with a lot of nutrients and I see it highly recommended. My friend Cindy said she put it on toast for one of her daughter’s first foods. My other ideas were applesauce/baked apples, sweet potato fingers/puree, carrot fingers/puree. I’ve also seen broccoli listed. I joined a BLW group on Facebook and love looking at the photos people post of their kids eating straight-up food….messy, but very nice to see babies just enjoying what the adults are eating, but put into pieces they can handle. We’ll see. Leo may be eating a lot of food off the floor for awhile before Forest really digs into it. That’s another thing I’ve read, some babies just don’t eat all that much for a few months, they are just getting into learning about it at first.

What else? His personality is really shining through these days! Oh, that’s another thing, he’s laughing more these days. He would laugh intermittently prior to these last few weeks, but now he’ll do some good laughing on the changing table. Not every day, but a few times a week.

Well, I guess that’s about it. There’s a few videos at the bottom, including two rolling videos.

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I spotted him monsterizing the MamaRoo this weekend.


Contrast it to this video from November.


Just after he started rolling over a lot about 2.5 weeks ago.


And this evening—he’s a pro now!

It’s been a long winter! It’s been far longer since I’ve done any hiking, last May when we were at Nails Creek State Park and I was six or seven months pregnant. We’ve had some nice stretches of weather these last few weeks intermingled with cool spells, but this last week we were in the middle of a beautiful stretch so I mentioned to Chris that I wanted our first Valentines Day as a family to be a hike.

I decided early on I wanted to carry Forest in the Ergo carrier but then I got to thinking that I thought he might be big enough for the Osprey Poco Premium backpack we have for him. I thought he might be close but Chris didn’t think so, I think we have another month or so before he’s ready. I’m going to be excited when I can put him in that and put him on my back in the Ergo. I did the front carry in the Ergo and it was a little awkward for the 7.8 miles of trail. I’m actually surprised my back isn’t more sore, especially since he’s a hefty 18 pounds!

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Before we left I printed off the two maps of the Lone Star Trail that were near the town of Montgomery, Wilderness and Kelly/Caney Creek. The LST is an almost 100 mile long trail in the Sam Houston National Forest with about another 20+ miles of connector and loop trails. You can check out the maps here. I told Chris to identify an approximate 5 mile stretch for us to do—apparently he came up with a 7.8 stretch instead, the North Wilderness Loop! It worked out…now I know we’re capable of that kind of stretch of hiking with a 5.5 month old!

The two trailheads on FM 149 were full, which I was happy to see. I’m sure the other trailheads along the trail were busy as well. We set off about 11:30 after getting a little bit of a later start than we wanted and stopping by the grocery store to get chicken strips for our trail lunch.

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Spring was slowly awakening the forest as we strolled through, but there was still a lot of brown and not a lot blooming.

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Chris carried his lighter/smaller Osprey backpack so he could tote Forest’s diapers, changing pad, and all of that gear, including our water, lunch and snacks. After we got on a the trail we realized we’d forgotten two things that we normally carried, toilet paper and a handkerchief. See? It’s been awhile! We decided if worse came to worse we could use Forest’s wipes.

Changing Forest on the forest floor was fun because all he wanted to do was grab huge handfuls of leaves and pine needles and try to stuff them in his mouth!

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We stopped twice to nurse along the way, and Forest enjoyed checking out the leaves, but I still had to keep him from shoving them in his mouth.

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Several creek crossings made for some diversity in habitat. A few of them were a bit steep to go up and climb down, especially with Forest on the front carry. Forest took two good snoozes along the way. One of the times I had to hold his head a bit since he kept bobbling and wanting to lean against the strap of the carrier instead of placing his head on my chest. If you see the strap in this picture it’s covered in drool because he was leaning out and sucking on it as we hiked.

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Crossing a bottomland area along the trail.

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The only animals seen along the trail were birds, though we heard lizards in the brush quite often. We thought maybe we’d see a snake or two since it was a warm day, in the 80s, but nope. There were quite a few people encountered on the trail, including some dogs. I did see some racoon prints in the mud along the water’s edge in this photo above.

I’m very happy we got out and did this hike. I think we needed it. Multiple times I felt like my old self, wandering and exploring. Forest was fussy a few times that I got worried that we’d have to turn around, but it was just his nap-time fussiness and he was mostly upset that I wasn’t nursing him to sleep. He fussed and fussed and eventually gave in to the sleep.

Now that we’ve survived once I think we’ll be back out again soon along with some car camping trips this spring. I can’t wait!!

I went for a jog at lunch yesterday. We’ve had some great weather recently and I have been missing all of the good running days. Either I was sick or Forest was sick or something was up and I just never got out for a jog during my lunch break in the last few weeks like I had been wanting. Finally, though, the weather was still nice again and I was feeling good, so outside I went. Luckily where I work is tucked next to a neighborhood. The neighborhood is comprised of larger, wooded lots with small houses or mobile homes on them, the quality and upkeep ranging from not-very to respectable. Loose and barking dogs abound; I had to fend one ankle biter off with claps of my hands and strict repetitions of “Go Home” before it finally meandered back to the house it originated from.

It’s been so long since I’ve sweated and felt the warmth on my skin. As much as I feel like I’m out of the deep, deep fog of those initial postpartum weeks and months, things are still hazy a lot of the time and I can get into a routine where I’m feeling like all I do is keep up with chores, take care of a baby, and do a few self care things to keep myself sane. Being outside doing yard work or getting some kind of physical exercise was one of the higher up self care items pre-baby and that has definitely fallen by the wayside over the last five months. I had some time during my maternity leave where I took walks with Forest in the mornings or afternoons, savoring the time outside of the house. Those moments were gone once the sun started setting early and I returned to work. Even on weekends getting outside can be difficult, because like I said, I feel like I’m just trying to catch up from the week with chores or errands. I don’t do the errands during the evenings like I used to—there’s no running to the store for groceries or out to get some item that I might need. No, it all gets crammed into the weekends.

Needless to say, pounding the pavement ever so slowly through the neighborhood is refreshing. Seeing nature, even if it is neighborhood nature, is exhilarating. Squirrels cracking acorns, a tree sneaking an early peek at spring blossoms, mockingbirds—that I instinctively want to call mockingjays—flitting about on the powerlines, all of these tiny things are energy for my soul, bits of brain food for my nature-loving self.

Today I was out for my jog, more walking than running since yesterday’s run killed my quads, and it came to me that I could rollerblade again. I love rollerblading and thought about the last time I had done any ‘blading. It’s been well over a year now, which is hard to believe. As soon as I found out as I was pregnant in December of 2013 I stopped doing things that were a fall hazard, like rollerblading. It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long since I’ve done it, really it feels like I could say that it was last week that I went rollerblading on my regular loop in my neighborhood at home. It’s great cardio, and I can go for a further distance and longer time than when I’m running.

Tomorrow, I’m going to strap on the rollerblades.

*Writer’s note: A shower at the office makes lunch time workouts a pleasant possibility.

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It was on the Appalachian Trail that I realized just how much coffee was more than a morning elixir of caffeine. It was a symbol of morning congregation, of talking and laughing, of slowly waking up, enjoying sunrises and dreary days, and of savoring the warmth radiating off of the mug. By the time we’d started the AT I was a coffee addict but I’d made the decision not to carry instant coffee for a morning cup, mostly because I didn’t want the hassle of needing to stop to find a privy or tree every twenty minutes after leaving the shelter or campsite in the morning. Plus, I knew how caffeine headaches worked and I wasn’t interested in dealing with those, so I saved my coffee indulgences for town. When we did get to a town there was nothing better than those first few sips, the tiredness and miles falling away as the coffee swirled down my throat.

I have a memory, or maybe it is one of those made-up memories that one pieces together after hearing anecdotal stories about something after the fact, about stealing sips of coffee from my neighbor that babysat me when I was little, like 2-3 years old. For some reason I’m seeing one of those flat bottom coffee cups sitting on the side of a chair. I can visualize the house, too, complete with early 80s decor. I know I had sips of coffee here and there growing up but my parents never really let me drink it. Mom and Dad had a morning routine of coffee in the house, the coffee pot autmatically kicking on at a certain time every morning, mom preparing the filter and coffee the evening before.

It wasn’t until college that I started drinking a little more coffee, mostly frou-frou versions like lattes and cappucinos from the automatic machine in the cafeteria. My friends were into chai tea lattes that were available but I remember liking the cappuccinos. I mean, these weren’t any kind of high-end coffee drinks, but they were just the right amount of sugar and caffeine to get going for a study session. We probably even drank those instant, flavored Maxwell House cannisters while sitting around our dorm rooms. I think it was when Starbucks started showing up in Target stores that I started trying other coffee drinks on the menu, getting my grasp on what all of the differences were. Some drinks still frightened me, sounding too strong and jolting. Drinking coffee without some kind of sugar and cream? No way…it had to have both of those.

I started drinking more regular coffee with powdered creamer and packs of sugar when I had my first job out of college. I’d fill a paper cup up with the Folgers that brewed in the break room of the micro lab I worked in and sip on my coffee during my mid-morning break. Later at my next job I took coffee drinking even further, having multiple cups throughout the morning and began weaning myself off of the sugar by switching to Splenda and then finally only adding creamer without any sweeteners. Then I managed to start having black coffee on occassion, but it had to be brewed right. My coffee love started heavily at that job but I was never able to bring myself to have a café Cubano that was highly popular in my office and all around Miami. You could get shots of it and café con leche’s at some Publix grocery stores where they had coffee shops set up in the front (not a Starbucks) or at various random coffee stands at gas stations, either inside or in the parking lot.

Coffee was on my mind most recently when my mom came down for two nights as Chris went out of town. It was going to be my first time alone with Forest since he was born and while I knew I could handle it, I was still nervous about being alone at night. I thought of the idea for her to visit at the last minute and wasn’t even sure if she could shift her schedule around with the care of my niece and nephew during the day, but it ended up working out. I got up earlier than I usually did those two mornings and had enough time to sip a cup of coffee with her at the kitchen table while Forest was still waking up. It wasn’t just that time that I thought about the relevance of coffee, the comaraderie of it. Any time my family comes to visit we usually have long, lingering breakfasts with multiple cups of coffee, reading various things on the internet, talking, looking out the picture window in the dining room to the pond as the sun comes up in the morning. If I’m at my parent’s house, it’s something similar but usually flipping through the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram instead and chatting.

I know coffee isn’t the only warm brew to elicit this response, tea enthusiasts I’m sure feel the same about their flavorful leaves. But coffee, there’s just something about coming into the kitchen to the brew of whatever roast was put into the filter and pouring it into your favorite mug and taking the time to just be.

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My other themed post for the week is strictly writing based. It’s going to be mostly stream of conciousness/free writing/whatever it becomes. Not necessarily looking for comments or input, just want to be present and give my brain a creative workout.

I’m driving down the road exiting off the main strip to the side road, heading to the grocery store. The grocery store is my little bit of solitude these days. For weeks it was Chris who made our weekly grocery store runs and I’d stay home with Forest. Of course there were instances when we all made the trek together but in those early days with all three of us invariably Forest needed a trip to the changing station in the women’s restroom at least twice and by the end of the trip he would tell me he was hungry, or maybe he was just fussy and was sick of being in his car seat and at the grocery store. Eventually though, I started wanting to head to the grocery store myself so I could peruse the aisles and get the things I wanted to snack on during the week. Chris was generally pretty good about getting the things I wanted but if I didn’t elaborate on what the ‘good bread’ was I usually got his version of the ‘good bread’.

As I’m exiting the road that will soon become a toll-road but is now just a 50 mile-per-hour four lane roadway, Don Henley’s The Last Worthless Evening comes onto the HD radio station I’m listening to. Don Henley is an insant trigger of flashbacks to Florida. Before I lived in Florida for eight years his songs recalled the vacations I spent there with my family. Post living in Florida I can instantly recall all sorts of scenarios from times in Florida. For some reason this day I recalled a trip down U.S. 41 from Sarasota with my former boss (Hi, Steve!). We’d visited a parcel of property there and he’d decided to take the scenic route down U.S. 41 to Ft. Myers and Naples instead of jumping onto the faster I-75 to the east. The drive was scenic through small towns filled with retirees in winter and vacationers in summer. When we came to Ft. Myers I remember wishing I could just exit off and head to Sanibel Island, one of the vacation spots from my youth. Sanibel was why I wanted to live in Florida.

The last time I was in Sanibel was Christmas of 2009, before we left Florida in February 2010 and went hiking on the Appalachian Trail. It was a spur of the moment trip with our friends Marc and Eliana after we’d had Christmas with them at their house in Miami, they’d invited us to trek along with them over to the southwest coast for a few days. For some reason Florida felt so much more ripe for exploring than Texas does—maybe it’s the crappy public to private land ratio we have here.

Sometimes I catch glimpses of Florida here in Texas. Usually its the way the light is hitting at a particular moment in the day, sometimes it is the smell of the pine needles in the sun, or the whine of a hawk overhead. The funny thing is sometimes in the north-central part of Florida I’d see a scene, usually some lumbering live oak in a field, and think “That looks like Texas.”

Memory, it’s a peculiar thing.

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