Sunday, March 5, 2017

We Only Get One SHOT

While I was driving down the freeway this past week a thought came to me, which it surprised me a bit. Normally I would think about my to-do list or a big project I have coming up, but what came to my mind is the fact that this life is all we have; that we only get one shot at making it worthwhile.

Typically that thought may make one want to abide by all the rules they know and want to be better so that they’ll reap the rewards in the eternity. But the urge I felt is that I need to enjoy and treasure every day of my life, regardless of how mundane and at times unsatisfactory they may seem. Sometimes I feel like we are waiting for our circumstances to change and then to start living more fully. But even if they don’t change, the fact that this is it and our only shot makes our lives so valuable.

I felt that it’s a bit unfair that we only get one shot at life, because we are small and imperfect and many times don’t get our lessons till is too late, and we could really use a re-do. But God has designed it to be this way, which means it must be the best way.

Ever since that thought a few days ago, I became more aware of how passing this life is and as a result I started enjoying my experience more. Even the though parts of caring for small children and having almost no personal time.

I have a strong feeling that once we’ll pass on into the eternities we will look back upon this life and treasure every single moment of it, the good and the bad. That there will be a sense of sadness that we will never be as fleeing and as limited as we once were while here in mortality.

I don’t know what the future holds or even what I should aim for in many areas of my life, but if there is one thing that I should consistently be aiming for, it should be this: to live my life more fully treasuring each day; by doing so I know I will have no regrets when looking back on my life. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Age of Adaline – Her Birth Story

Yes, that’s where we got the idea for her name, and yes the title is cheesy but it applies a bit, because although we had Adaline Esther Kirk full term at 39 weeks, she came looking and weighing more like a 33-34-week baby.

When we had our 20-week sonogram we were told that instead of having a three-vessel cord hers was a two-vessel one. Which it didn’t mean much to us and the way the doctor described it was that it’s like different eye colors in children, that sometimes it happens. But we knew better, so as soon as we got home we googled it and of course it looked way more complicated, as we learned she could have various conditions ranging from minor to pretty serious ones.

For about a day and a half that’s all I was thinking of. I felt a lot of fear and anxiety. With Emilia everything went so smoothly and we were spoiled that way. Having the possibility of something being wrong, it certainly humbled us and gave us a different perspective. I prayed more intensely then than ever before. It was when I embraced the idea that yes, even if there is a condition, there is nothing for me to do, except love and take even better care of her. Only then was I able to relax and to feel at peace.

The doctors have monitored her growth and although she had consistently measured about two weeks behind, they weren’t worried, until the last sonogram on Mon., June 13th when they saw that she hadn’t grown appropriately. They suggested I be induced saying that the placenta wasn’t feeding her accordingly. I questioned their claims and I really didn’t want to be induced, but I had had no signs of labor so I had to decide very soon. I also took a stress test on Monday where she did well and I was told she weighed around 6 pounds (she was born 4 and 13 oz).

It was that night that I felt some back pain for the first time, which turned into contractions throughout the following day. In the morning I went about things as usual, I even went in to get my eyebrows done and took a nice bath. I also started doing all these tricks I have heard they might get me into labor. I spoke with the doctor and told them I didn’t want to be induced that day and if I won’t have her by Wed morning naturally then we can do it then.

June 14th last day being pregnant 
By 4 pm I started contracting even more intensely and closer together. I didn’t want to go to the hospital too soon but I also knew I may have a much shorter labor this time around. Before we left Ethan gave me a blessing, in which he reassured me that she would come naturally and that the labor will progress as needed. It was a sweet and special blessing focused on my strength and fore-ordination even before mortality. During the 30-min drive the contractions slowed down so we went to McKinley park and walked for about 50 min. There was about 15-20 min in between contractions and I felt like I didn’t want to go in yet, but when they hit and as strong as they had started to be, all I wanted was to check in already. But we waited some more, and around 6 pm we checked in. I was about 4 cm dilated, and I told them that last time around it happened really fast that I progressed from 4 to 10 and that they should be ready for it.

I even had a sandwich as I was hungry and was walking and squatting around the hospital room. Soon enough the contractions started to be closer together and around 10 pm they were really strong. I asked Ethan why I was doing this to myself, and he was quick to search on his phone the downfalls of an epidural (which, btw, it’s not even that strong or anything). But he was encouraging and I really needed him there. He suggested they checked my dilatation as last time it took them by surprise, and I was at a 6 cm but I started feeling things were moving pretty quick. I threw up twice and my body started shaking, which were all good signs. My water broke just about then and I was screaming each time the contractions hit, however I had the sense the nurse wasn’t taking it very seriously; I felt like climbing up the walls and I was lamenting and on my fours. Then I felt her coming out and by now I was trying to keep her in as no one was prepared for it. So during the last contraction I yelled You guys she’s coming, and she did at 10:36pm.

Proud Dada the night of the delivery 
So there was no doctor present as they didn’t expect me to deliver quite yet, but I had three nurses around and of course Ethan, who instinctively rolled up his sleeves when he saw they weren’t ready for it, being ready for anything.

Adaline Esther Kirk a week old 
Comparing it with my first delivery it was definitely shorter but more intense, and last time around I got to meditate, dance around and do all that holistic stuff, this time I was all business, let’s-get-this-over-already attitude. And maybe because of these differences I also hadn’t experienced the hormonal high I did last time. It may also be because I was worried with Adaline. She seemed so small and she was kind of purple, that I asked why she wasn’t crying when they put her on my chest. That worry took over all other emotions for the following days. The only positive outcome of her being so small is that I was able to recuperate a lot quicker than with Emi. A few hours after having her I was walking her bassinet over to the new room. Maybe it’s also a second pregnancy and delivery thing.

I think the reason I was against being induced as well as getting an epidural (which I’m almost certain it would have slowed me down a lot, and I’d rather have it super intense and short than drag it for longer) is because I prefer being in control over the situation and being actively involved step by step. And yes the pain was most likely the highest I have ever felt in my life, but I tried to embrace it and make it work for me, rather than fight or resist it. Also this second time around I knew that the pain is what will make the baby come and I tried my hardest to relax through what it seemed like 10000 volts going through my whole body.

We love her strawberry brown hair 
They were right, each pregnancy and delivery is different. I’m glad is over and that we have Addie in our arms, that although she is really small she had tested well and was able to come home after a day and a half. And it feels like being a new mom all over again, as caring for her is different from caring for Emi. I am breaking all my rules (sleeping in my bed, falling asleep in my arms, feeding on demand and I’m sure there will be more to follow) and she will most likely be a lot more cozied up than Emi. But for right now all I care about is her thriving and becoming strong. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

What being Christlike in the face of same-sex marriage legalization is to me

Never in my life have I wanted to be more Christlike and never in my life have I felt less equipped with knowing what that really is. 

I know we’re taught to act and think as Christ would. And although I am well-aware of it, many times I still gossip, I still spend more time on FB than I do reading my scriptures and many more examples of sort. But when dealing with the gay marriage situation, knowing how tough it is not to become judgmental and rough on those who are gay, but also being able to hold my ground and express my beliefs, it really left me with no direction but wanting really badly to act and do as Christ would.  

But this was tough too; would Christ have changed his FB profile pic to show solidarity and support for the gay community and the recent success? Maybe, but I don’t think so. I also don’t think he would have come very strongly against all those who support it. Christ has both forgiven and mourned with the sinners and those who were weak but he has also condemned the Pharisees, calling them vipers and sons of the devil. So once again, it makes it really tough figuring out how to deal with it all.

I was notified by the recent court’s decision on legalizing gay marriage all throughout the states by my well-informed, politically-savvy husband since being in RO that didn’t really make the news and no one cares abt it over there. 

At first I didn’t think much of it, because we’ve all known sooner or later it will become the standard. But then, all the sudden my FB page was flooded with rainbow pics and praises to the recent decision. My initial reaction was to counter it with articles or opinions which sat on the opposite side, criticizing the decision. I thought that I should be pro-active at defending and promoting traditional marriage. But then I thought abt it and realized that I don’t want to be that person, especially since my interaction with the majority of my FB friends is solely online, and I know how easy it is to be miss-portrayed when limited to cyber interaction.

Then I thought I should just keep quiet and not even participate in this discussion. But I realized it mostly came  from a fear of intolerance (funny enough) from the other side for simply stating what is true and important to me. And being afraid to talk and express opinions it’s not me, nor is it why I chose to live in the United States for that matter. If expressing my views, as unpopular as they are, is being intolerant of others, then America is no longer what it was initially made to be.

Pondering on it all, some scriptures came to my mind. Passages from the Book of Mormon which talk abt if the day comes when the majority of the people choose something which is not aligned with God’s gospel, that is should be granted unto to them. So I accept the reality of it, even though we’re not even sure what the voice of the people would have chosen, since it was ultimately decided by 5 judges, but let’s say it is what most people (50% plus 1) desire in the US, I believe it should be allowed, but what does this mean to me?

I’ve never established my values and beliefs based on what was popular or praised by the world. And of course my support of marriage between one man and one woman springs from my Mormon upbringing as well as being raised in a country like Romania, but ultimately the reason I believe in it comes from how I feel abt it internally. It just feels right to me - and no laws and outside pressure can make me feel otherwise once I internalize such truths.

Now, I’m also well-aware I never felt what a gay person feels nor have I struggled with anything like it, and that’s why I don’t accuse nor condemn the stand they take, I might have done the same in their shoes. And that’s why I was left with wanting to behave as Christ would in these circumstances.

I read 3 Nephi 14 in the Book of Mormon and I was hoping to find smtg in there to give me some answers since I even taught it on my mission that the Book of Mormon holds the answers to all of life’s questions.

This chapter starts with Christ addressing the Nephites, teaching similarly to his teachings in Jerusalem. He says: Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgement you judge, ye shall be judged; …why beholdest thou the mote that is in your brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?  And I thought, this is it, I shouldn’t judge them (gays, or gay supporters), I should focus on myself and all the work I have yet to accomplish to better myself. And then I read some more: Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet.  I know the language may come across as strong and demeaning, but I think it simply means not to bring up Godly things to those who may not even believe in a God. In other words, we cannot even hold a conversation on the matter if there is no point on reference, such as you don’t believe in a higher being, who I believe has established a way of living for us which is meant to bring us higher happiness. Or you have no standards of right and wrong, so everything can go.

And then finally it was in verse 12 that hit home to me, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them. And this is to me what being Christlike in the face of same-sex marriage legalization is.
  • I desire not be judged nor demeaned because I still believe in traditional marriage, 
  • I desire that people would give me a chance when they meet me rather than categorizing and rejecting me based on my beliefs, 
  • I desire they don’t take it personally but consider and accept that the way I believe is a deep personal belief which has no intention of hurting or undermine who they are, 
  • I desire they know and accept that I can still love them in spite of feeling differently about gay marriage. 

Applying the above principle, I also want to make sure I treat them as I wish to be treated.

I know that one day, in the eternities, we’ll look back on this and realize we all tried to do the best with what we knew and what we had, and that will be all that matters. I know God loves us all and maybe the reason we are dealing with all these issues and dilemmas, is not to try to convince each other to think and feel the same, but to see how well we treat each other in spite of strong differences. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Books on Taking Care of Your Baby - My Collection

Recently I had a few different friends ask about some of the books I have briefly shared with them before. So I wrote this post for them and anyone else that may want to check out some baby books that I've found helpful and insightful.

The order I chose for the books has to do with the chronological order you'd probably implement them. I will give a short description and share some of the things I learned. Truth be told, I am still in the process of reading each one of them, but I feel like I have a good grasp on each one.


This book it's a good first read because it provides a great background on the relationship you and your child will develop. It describes each stage the child goes through and it's useful in giving you heads up on what to expect. This knowledge will hopefully help you avoid some frustrations or thinking that you're doing something wrong.

What I learned:
- All children develop more or less the same between birth and 8 months old; the greatest impact your influence will make on them is between 8 months to 3 years old, when they'll actually change the most they ever will.
- They love it most seeing and hearing their mother speak to them; this was really sweet to learn, as I had a feeling it's good that I am around Emilia so much, but having the confirmation, has made me want to talk to her and hold her even more.
- She says that the excessive baby gear prevents parents from bonding with their baby; she advocates against the use of car seats outside of what they are made for, when travelling in the car; also she doesn't encourage walkers and bouncers.
- An American mom will only touch her baby an average of twice an hour, while a Puerto Rican mother will touch her baby 180 times an hour. A French mom touches her child 3 times more than an American one.
- And my favorite one, she encourages mothers to dress their child warm for their first year of life. And this was a piece of information I was really happy to read about, because ever since I was in college and I was exposed to American parenting through the students that had kids already, I would get infuriated when seeing how lightly those babies were dressed. The parents were more bundled up than them.

Now you see why I like this book; she addresses things that I feel are important and which are not usually talked about much.

2. INFANT POTTY TRAINING (or a concise version, INFANT POTTY BASICS) by Laurie Boucke 
So before you're baffled and appalled about this topic you should really see what is about and the motivation behind it.
I was referred to this book by a friend who saw on FB that I was going to attempt potty training my daughter who was 5 months at a time.
This method refers to a type of potty training, ELIMINATION COMMUNICATION, based on being in tune with your baby and listening to her natural cycle of elimination and responding to it.

What I Learned:
- Most moms will identify early on after coming home from the hospital the time when their baby will go potty, based on timing alone and/or facial expressions.
- Through the standard procedure we train babies to go potty in their diapers, only to have to undo it later on.
- Through this method, each time you know the child will go peeing or pooping, you place a receptacle under them; I actually learned that I was a bit late starting with my daughter at 5 months, and that this should be done all the way up to 4-5 months, starting as early as 2 weeks.
- Whenever they go peeing you make a Ssssshhhhsss sound, and they'll soon start associating it with peeing; and when they go number 2, you make a grunting face and help them go.
- This is not a forceful method by any means, and for the contrary, it bonds the mother and baby in a very special way. The method is not for all moms, it takes a special type of commitment.
- The motivation should not be to outdo other moms or compete with them, it's about doing what is best for your child and help them function to their potential; when their signals are ignored, they'll stop sending them altogether.

My experience so far:
After I started putting Emilia on the potty at around 5 months and 2 weeks, it took her less than a week to associate peeing with being on the potty. She will try to play around and anything around us will get her distracted, so I try to hide it all. I make the Sshssshhh sound and she goes if it's her time to go. I put her on the potty in the morning when she wakes up and after a quick feeding, after each nap, and in between if we're at home and I sense it's about time. As for pooping, she's been going on demand since the first week. It may be because she's not going very often anyway and when she does she needs some encouragement and tummy massaging. If you're worried that your baby is too little to sit on a porter potty, I used some puppy training pads when she was 5 months old. They worked great because she started disassociating going potty in a diaper, and the air flow helped as well. We now use about 2-3 diapers a day, sometimes including her over night one.

Very important is to not push them if they are not cooperating anymore. If she gets bored and unsettled I take her off and will try again later. Even the book advises to not obsessed over having your baby trained early, and that the bond between you and your baby is more important than having them trained.

I would say that if you're open to it to give it a shot. Everyone seems to have an opinion on it even though they've never tried it, but unless you try it, you won't know what it's about. And I tell you what, there's not much more satisfaction in life than when you've been able to make your baby poop in the porter potty all before 6 months old.

3. SUPER BABY FOOD by Ruth Yaron
Like many first-time moms I felt unprepared when I started feeding my baby solids. For us that was at 5 months old. This book is a great resource to identify when it's a good time to start your baby on solids, and what to feed them and how.

What I Learned:
- Recommended to start them on solids between 4-6 months, before then not only their body and digestive system is immature, but they also cannot refuse food, not turning their head when they're full. You can easily overfeed them, which can lead to obesity and other serious problems later on as adults.
- Feeding them too early may also lead to developing certain allergies.
- You don't want to wait later than 8 months to start on solids; if later than that they may not like the textures and refuse it all together.
- It's based on making all food at home, not only it's healthiest for your baby but it ends up being cheaper too, even when using all organic foods (which it does encourage to do)
- Best method to cook the veggies is to steam them in a steamer and then blend it with some of the water that cooked it. You can make bigger quantities, then freeze it in an ice tray, then you take the cubes and place in a ziplock bag.
- Eating size per serving when you start them is about an ice cube worth of pureed food, which you can microwave.
- You first feed them some milk, so they're not starving, then give them the solid, then you give them some water (it will help with their liver processing the solids), and that's really one or two teaspoons, and then you finish with a milk feeding.
- It talks about child proofing your home and it even teaches how to make homemade and safe cleaning agents (I haven't gotten to that yet, but I'm thinking to try it)
- Do not keep trying to feed the baby if they don't like the food; you can try feed it again in a week or two. And do not insist with that last spoonful if they don't want it, better to toss it away than to overfeed your baby.
- Do not use the sippy cups for any types of foods, use it only for water and milk if bottle fed.
- If the baby touched the food in a container, do not save it for later, their saliva could produce bacteria and spoil it even when refrigerated.

4. HOLDING TIME by Martha G. Welch, MD
I was given this book by a friend who is a triplet and her mom had to really focus on holding each one of them and making sure they each received needed attention. This book is more applicable when they become toddlers and specially if you have another baby. It's meant to help prevent tantrums and sibling rivalry, and produce happy mothers and loving, self-confident children.

What I Learned: 
- You set aside an hour or close to an hour, in a quiet spot in your home, where you and your child will have alone time with each other.
- You hold them on your lap facing you, and you start talking and discussing any differences.
- Instead of time outs, you actually discipline them at first and talk to them about why they acted the way they did, and why they think that was wrong and hurtful.
- After you both share things which are difficult to discuss (it actually says that at first they may fight you, and yell at you, but to not give up)
- Following the more rambunctious interaction between the two of you, then comes a state of calmness and openness and love between the two of you. You make up and continue to be close to each other, often times they'll fall asleep in your arms.
- This creates a pattern for the child knowing they will have that alone time with their mother (father and other family members are encouraged to do it too, but it's most helpful when the mom does it) and it makes them feel safe emotionally.

Sneak Peek: Upcoming post with the baby products I'm using. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Women's Beauty Products that I Love - A Helpful guide

I'm sharing some of the beauty products I have been using for years or that I have just discovered. For some I have had to try many others to find the ones working for me, and if I can in any way help you avoid that, I thought that I should make it available. For those products that are more obscure I will include links and for those more generic or easy to find, I will include which store to go to. I will also include the price, many times being an important factor when choosing our beauty products.

Face Products

  • Facewash around $5 from Tader Joe's - in fact, my husband uses this one as well, as it is light yet effective and foamy but not too much. It doesn't dry my face and I usually use it to remove all my make up at the end of the day 

  • Face cream - for this one I have two different products, one that is high end,  Nerium, which is anti-aging. I was actually introduced to it by my dad who is very much preoccupied with looking forever young (he actually already looks pretty young for his age), and being 30 years old myself I figured it's probably time to start some anti-wrinkle stuff. The day cream is light and works great underneath make up; but what's truly amazing is the Night Cream, which is actually so thick that you need to apply on damp face and rub it in. It will be kind of sleeky for a while but it drys off pretty quick. So I'm not so sure it really undid any of my wrinkles, but what it does is it heals my face really well. Also because at times I pick on my face only to regret it at the end; well with this cream it's all cleared out by morning. I've also received comments about my face looking clear and good. So if you have about $120 which is the price for both creams combined, this is the best product in my opinion. And you can order it here

  • Face cream - I came across this in 2011 when a friend from Australia who is into healthy stuff had some day cream and I got to try it. Afterwards I had to order myself some more, which is actually shipped from England. I now have a night and day version of it. The day cream I buy from Amazon for abt $15 with shipping. You have to be careful with these products because shipping increases as you add more products. Sukin Day Cream Amazon The night one I also got it from Amazon but I just found a cheaper one, for $17.97 instead of the $26 on Amazon. Sukin Night Cream 

  • Face Sunscreen - it was this year that it was brought to my attention that it's a good idea to wear sunscreen on my face every day when being outside. How have I missed this important piece of information throughout my life? So I tried this one from my mother-in-law who is all about sun protection. It's a bit pricier than your regular sunscreen but it's very light and it will last you for a long time, since you only need little bits at a time. I use it on top of my day moisturizer and beneath foundation and/or concealer. You can get it from Target for about $33. It can also come with a tint which may allow you to wear w/out foundation or face powder (regular one can be a bit too light for most)

  • Foundation and Concealer - I really like Origins for foundation and concealer because they feel lighter than other high end stuff, but not too light as being ineffective as some too natural make-up. It's also cheaper than high end and lasts for a long time. The foundation is about $34 and the concealer $17.

  • Shampoo - so I've been using this professional shampoo which my mom bought me in gallons two years ago and I'm abt half way through, but that's because I have to have at least two types of shampoos at all times. Head & Shoulders is a good one to have on hand, specially if once in a while you get flakes on your scalps, it does work for me. On a more natural, and better-for-you side, I also have Sukin Shampoo and Conditioner. I only got some because I got them randomly at a Ross for abt $7 each. And it works well, it still shampoos and does what it's supposed to do (I've had some all natural stuff before which felt like using a veggie puree on my hair, with almost no cleansing effect). 

  • Serum - Another long-time-used product for me is the Biosilk, which you can apply after towel drying your hair and before blow-drying it. I really think it protects the ends well especially if you straighten your hair on a regular basis. You can buy this at discounted stores such as Ross, Nordstrom Rack or Marshalls, depending on quantity, I usually get the $10 one and it lasts for a long time since you only use a smidge each time. 

  • Hair Dryer - I thought to also include this important tool because ever since I was a teenager I've had several blow-dyers burn up on me. I've always had long hair and used to have double the quantity, so it used to take a very long time to dry it, and after a year or two the dryer would burn up. Well I've had Porcelain Ceramic since 2008 and it's never given me any reasons to worry about it, and because it is professional it's stronger and more powerful cutting back on how long it takes to blow dry my hair. Average about $65 on Amazon

  • My Signature perfume is Irresistible from Givenchy. It's a nice, floral smell, not too strong but it lasts for most of the day. As a matter of fact, I like it so much that I got it twice as a gift this year for my birthday. I have an Eau de Toillette, which is the less strong one, and I use it as a day perfume. The other one is a Eau de Perfume, and being stronger I use it as my night perfume. You can buy it here for much cheaper. The website it's best for perfumes, many times they're cheaper because they're missing the lid or the original box because they're testers, and who would complain abt that, since testers are actually made to be stronger and last longer (so you'll need less of it per usage, lasting you even longer).
  • If you want more of a granola, earthy scent (I call it my Zen perfume), I like Origins Ginger Essence. They used to have a vial of it, like a roll-on, which was around $15 and perfect for my needs. They since got rid of it and now only sell it as a full-on spray perfume for $45.

  • Another calming, earthy, light one is Karma from Lush. It comes as a vial spray for abt $15 or as a balm for $10. It's also a Ginger based smell and if you usually don't do perfumes, you may tolerate and enjoy these last two ones. 

  • Fancy stuff - I like Laura Mercier. It is pricier and you can find it in Macys  department at the mall. But it feels light and it has nice, subtle nuances. 

  • Day-to-day - and if you want to keep your make-up minimal and light, I like 100% Pure. They're supposed to be made of plants and not animal tested. And unlike other such products, don't cost a bank, they're pretty reasonable and last a long time. 

  • Mascara - Ok, I absolutely LOVE this one from Lancome. As a matter of fact it is the only Lancome product I would ever recommend. I first tried Defincilis Long Lashes mascara when I was a Junior in high-school, and I loved it so much that I've been having one every year ever since. It costs abt $22, but it's a great investment and it will last you a while. I use it when I wanna get all jammed-up and look my best.
  • Mascara - on a day-to-day basis, when I don't need to be all jammed-up I found another good, lighter-feeling mascara, 100% Pure, abt $18 on Amazon 

  • Nordstrom Rack make-up - surprisingly enough can have quite a collection, I buy my lipstick from there. I like them so much that at one point I had 4 or 5 different shades. I usually get the NYX matte stuff, which feels light and matte, duh...and it lasts for a looong time. They also have the shiny version of these ones. Oh, and have I mentioned that they only cost abt $4 each. 

Let me know if you have any more questions about any of these products, or also if you have suggestions for similar or different beauty products. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

What if We Could Both be Right?

My whole life I searched for what was right and what was wrong in every situation. I would usually listen to people around me, see what they had to say and try to understand why they thought so. I would ultimately stop and think and more importantly try to listen to how I felt about the situation, I would draw a few different conclusions and sure enough one would resonate with me over all the other ones and that’s how I knew that was truth, or at least my truth.

During my early years that process was a lot more simplistic and the conclusions were very much polarized – I saw the world as black or white, there wasn’t any grey in there. Then, as time went on and I acquired more life experience I started realizing that things were not so much black or white, and that there was a lot of grey in the world, but I still tried to reach a set conclusion and whoever saw things differently from my truth or believed differently, they had to be wrong since the conclusion I reached felt so right.

Then something happened in the last year or so. Through various, many small experiences and analyzing societal situations, I started contemplating that in a given situation both parties may very well be right while believing differently or taking opposite actions.

About a month ago I listened to an NPR story which made me solidify my assumption. A new trend started in France some time ago, the Locks of Love. This is when young couples would take a lock and close it together on a bridge as a symbol of their love. This trend caught on in various cities, such as New York, and was now catching on in Washington DC as well. Well, there was an instance where the bridge collapsed due to the heavy weight of the hundreds of locks placed on it. In order to avoid anything like that in DC, the Department of roads and bridges (or something like that, you know the one in charge with these things), went around and started breaking these locks as soon as they would be placed, so that the trend wouldn’t catch on and cause any problems. Then the moderator of the talk show had asked listeners to call in and give their two cent on who they thought was right – the young couples in love placing the locks on the bridge or the department of roads and bridges. So I took a moment and pondered this question and have quickly concluded that they are both right. That in their own sphere of existence and capacity they were both doing what they should be doing. I couldn’t condemn the young couples (the idea would be appealing to a younger me), and I couldn’t condemn the state department people who are simply doing their jobs.

I also thought that if they could both be right in this situation, then there may be other instances that both parties could as well be right. I applied same principles to more complex and serious matters, such as homosexuality. Maybe the issue at hand it’s not so much who is right and who is wrong, in other words I don’t need to decide if gay people are born that way or not, I also don’t need to approve of their lifestyle or endorse it. Maybe the reason God had allowed this same gender attraction is not to change each others’ views on the issue, but to see how we would treat each other in spite of our differences. Maybe our goal should be to have love and charity especially towards those who live and believe very differently from ourselves. 

And you know what effect it has had on me? It actually made me feel more relaxed, it took the pressure off of thinking I needed to change others around me. It validated my own truths while being willing to accept others with their own. 

 Locks of Love - Portland, Maine 2014

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

How May 14th turned into May 9th - Emilia's Birth Story

It may have been the case that Emilia was going to come five days earlier anyway, but when Gigi, aka, mom and now grandma, came into town, the following day she took me shopping for…oh, about five hours.

My first strong contractions happened on Wed. May 7th around 8:00 pm when we were shopping at our last store. I was barely pushing the cart, leaning on it for strength and to be able to walk, and I could hear but not see mom asking questions to the shop assistant. I kept yelling for her, but she couldn’t hear me. I ended up going over and telling her that I was hurting and we needed to leave right then.

That night I couldn’t really sleep, and that wasn’t new as I’ve had sleepless nights for three or four months now, but this time was different –every few minutes I felt pain. Around 3 am I went and woke up mom letting her know I was in pain. She told me it was near then, as these were contractions. I didn’t know what to make of it and I was trying to deal with it one by one. After a while I woke up Ethan too, letting him know we may need to go to the hospital, but not yet.

As morning settled in, they started to be more spread out and weak, I was even able to sleep some in-between the pain. So what did we do the morning which turned out to be my early labor – we went to get our manicure and pedicure, as that was part of the plan to do so before the baby came.

 The morning of May 8th, before leaving to get our manis and pedis. 

 I was hurting even here, although that foot massage helped some, and I walked it off a few times. The women there said that I’d better not have my baby in their saloon. 
I assured them I didn’t want that either.

Later afternoon I had a doctor’s appointment so we came home and I got ready for the appointment, starting to hurt more regularly. I even asked mom to take some pictures of my big belly as this may be the last day of my pregnancy.

 My last pregnancy pictures, the afternoon of May 8th, in front of our apartment. 

At the doctor they checked and I was only 1.5 cm dilated. I asked them if my contractions were fake, but when describing it to them, they said they sounded as being real, and that I need to wait until they were five mins apart, one minute long for an hour.

Of course mom took me shopping one more store before coming home. At her favorite store - Ross. By then I was hurting more regularly and had to sit down as she finished purchasing more stuff.
What’s interesting about being in contractions is that everything can set you off. So in my case it was mom’s driving which was bothering me. I was pretty mean to her, and she took it silently, she must have known it was the pain. Before coming home, though, we had to make one more stop, - limeade and tres leche dessert  from CafĂ© Rio.

It was somewhat comforting to drink and chew on ice. Except that when coming home and having increased contractions, I threw up all that limeade. But it felt somewhat relieving.

By the time Ethan made it home from work, around 6 or 6:30 pm I was really in pain. Each time the contractions started I screamed. But they were still not five minutes apart. We turned on the tv, watched that 70 show, the distraction helped me some. I ended up in the nursery, which felt comforting and it was motivating being in her room, using her furniture as a focus point.

We then started writing down the frequency and length of each contraction, and it was getting close. I was standing, dancing, stretching on Enigma music (my zen music), and screaming some more.
Mom suggested we should go to the hospital. Ethan insisted we needed to make sure the contractions were frequent enough, and that I had asked him for months not to take me too early to the hospital since that may sabotage my chances for a natural birth. I agreed with him, and decided to wait a bit longer.

I then threw up again, this time I could feel something inside was different - the baby was more active. I told them that we can start getting ready. When my water broke at 9:40ish pm I knew that was the time. We packed up and rushed to the car.

The drive to the hospital is only 10 or 12 min long, but it felt forever. The breeze from the outside helped some, but the pain intensified and I was screaming.

By the time we entered the hospital mom had to walk me through as Ethan had to park the car. We went upstairs to check in. I was getting angry they were actually pondering whether to check me in or not. Ethan was on the phone with the on-call doctor who was asking questions.

We had to go to a triage room as a delivery room wasn’t ready. I was checked in at 10:30pm. By now I was screaming and hanging on the advice the nurses gave me about breathing through the contractions. The doctor came and confirmed I was ready to check into the hospital. She asked me some questions to which I suggested she should just take a look at my birthplan. She then asked if I wanted any drugs, that since I had a birthplan she thought I wouldn’t. I ask what type of Epidural they administered, and whether I would be able to walk right after. She said they only administered the full-on one and that I wouldn’t be able to walk right afterwards. I looked at my mom who nodded, in saying No to her. I looked at Ethan who didn’t show any attitude towards or against it.

I then said I wasn’t planning on any drugs, and that unless the baby’s life would be threaten I wouldn’t want any. She checked me and being 4 cm dilated, she warned me I would be in labor all night and that I would most likely be delivering morning time.

Mom disagreed and having the advantage of talking with me in Romanian, said it’ll be before 4 am and not to worry, that I could do it.

They took me into the labor room; it was probably 11:00 pm by now. The nurse administered the iv as I was dehydrated and she said it would help with the delivery.  She also gave me some pointers on how to breathe. I was supposed to relax my shoulders  and breathe through what felt like high voltage going through my body, as a thunder. She said to breath like the letter J, through the contraction. I tried really hard to do just that.

Ethan and mom were close by, but during the contractions I couldn’t stand anything close to me. I would just wave them off, indicating I needed space. I started feeling as in a daze – It felt as if I was drifting.

I asked the nurse if she was going to check again to see how dilated I was. I wanted to gage how long this would take.  She said she would check me shortly. Then I asked if I should push, and she was surprise I would feel like pushing. She then checked and was almost shocked to see I was dilated at 10 cm already. She asked me no tot push so she could get the doctor. Now, I was freaked out I would deliver without them in the room.

The doctor came, around 12:10 am, and they prepared the room within minutes. The umbilical cord was twice wrapped around her neck, and they told me not to push but my body was already on automode and I did. At 12:21 Emilia came. Luckily, the stellar doctor assisting me, not even my regular doctor, but one who was on call, unwrapped it super fast. 

I knew it was over when all the sudden I could have Ethan and mom close by and enjoy their presence, the daze was over and I felt invigorated. Life had meaning again and it was all making sense.  They placed her on my chest after a light wiping. She was calm and very aware. Her eyes were big and wide-opened and she was just looking at me. It was the most amazing and rewarding experience of my life. It felt deeper and more rewarding than anything else.

 She was very much aware and present, staring straight up into my eyes. 

During the labor process I had an array of random thoughts which helped me stay motivated. First, it was thinking about God and praying to Him. I felt Him very much aware of me and of what I was going through. Secondly, I thought of my earthly dad, and about his long-standing advice that when things get tough not to give up – that everyone feels that way too, but not giving up when it feels like it will lead to success. I then thought of this NPR story I had heard days before of a guy who was blasted by a terrorist bombing in Peru. I remembered his description of the incredible pain he went through, and I thought that my pain was most likely much lower than his and that at least mine was natural. I thought of women throughout time and how they each have gone through this pain as well, and that I could do it too. I remembered images of home births from a video we watched early in the pregnancy. Ethan's encouragement towards the end to experience the pain thoroughly and feel it in the moment also made me want to do just that. It definitely paid off working on him earlier to have him on my side as a supporter. Without him and my mother I know I wouldn’t have trusted myself and the outcome might have been very different.

What I learned from my delivery experience is that if I have a big enough reason, I can attain anything. I also learned to trust my instincts and my body the most and disregard anyone else's experience or advice (even my doctors showed skepticism that I would be able to have a natural delivery). 

Emilia Noelle Kirk, born on May 9th 2014, at 12:21 am 
6 lbs 7 oz and 19.5 in (2,920 gr and 49 cm) 

Right before we left the hospital, on Sat. May 10th in the afternoon.