Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Motion, Emotions and a Sway

I recently attended a personal development class called Royalty and Romance by Kirk and Kim Duncan from 3 Key Elements.  It's a personal development class for couples.  While a lot of the concepts shared were not necessarily new, attending these events always sheds new light on matters I need to further embrace in order to continue becoming a better person.

As a dancer, I'm passionate about educating our youth to use their bodies to understand the world better.  Motion is so crucial to getting the full experience and yet, it is often set aside as unimportant in our current educational systems.  I won't claim to know everything but in the world of dance, movement and motion in my body helps it to heal and feel whole.  Perhaps this may never make sense to those that don't like to move, or that have never tried, but I will advocate this concept till the day I die.  Did you ever notice that the word MOTION is inside the word EMOTION?  Interesting right?

So what do we typically do with our emotions?  Ever notice that when you're having a bad day, and someone asks how you are, that you typically give the answer that everyone likes to hear?  I know I do.  It's the "I'm Fine," response.  How often do we do this to ourselves, and never fully release the emotion deep within, that we are (heaven forbid) not actually FINE.  So what do we do?  We stuff the emotion.  And it festers inside.

Interestingly, when we feel an emotion, we learn best not by holding onto it but by moving it through.  In other words, we emote it.  We move it through our bodies.  Take in the information or feeling and move it.  But what happens when we don't move it through?  I often wonder why people say an emotion is eating them up inside.  I guess it's much like food.  We ingest it, take what we need and then move it through.  But sometimes, our food gets stuck and our digestive system is blocked.  So too with emotions.  When they get stuck, fear and anxiety are a common build-up.  Anger and frustration too.  This is when journaling or drawing can be therapeutic.  We physically manifest a way to move the thought through our bodies with either words or a creative process.  And dance, is one of the most beautiful formats for moving something through our God-given bodies.   

What I love most about this whole idea is that simple swaying motions can create a stronger connection between a couple that is out of harmony.  Kirk said, "A Sway a day, keeps the Devil away."  Basically this means that moving together would create a sense of unity, synchronization, harmony and connection.  The sway is accomplished by holding one another and swaying back and forth, much like you'd find at a high school dance during a slow song.  For some reason he refused to call it a dance.  But I'm going to call it a dance, well, because I am a dancer.  He encouraged everyone to do this at least once a day.  After all, don't we all crave a deeper connection with one another, especially as married couples often weighed down by the responsibilities of life?

It seems silly in my mind that a dance could solve all our problems and diminish the anxiety we always have over finances, raising children, mundane schedules, etc. etc. etc.  But here is what he shared that was the real kicker for me:  There's science behind how this works.  You see, in real life, a couple will never see things eye to eye 100% of the time.  In fact, more often than not, they will disagree.  But how do they come to honor one another for their unique qualities without constantly feeling out of sync with each other?  He then shared a video like this one:

Swaying Metronomes

And then it clicked for me.  I didn't marry my husband to convert him into a perfect person who always agrees with everything I believe.  I mean how often do people separate from one another because they can't see eye to eye?  I married him for his unique ways of helping me to acknowledge my own weaknesses, and how to improve upon them.  I married him because I knew I possessed strengths he didn't, that would make me feel like I had a purpose and something of value to bring to the table.

I honor his individuality.  As I know he honors mine.  Anyone that knows my husband, knows he struggles to enjoy the art of dance.  But somehow, he seems open to swaying with me.  At least once a day.  How quickly a sway was able to bring all 5 metronomes together.  And how quickly they all get out of synchronization without the swaying motion.

Here's what I know: When we feel emotions that seem to collide, a sway or dance, may just be the key to helping us reconnect.  Feeling in sync can possibly provide us with the time to work out our differences without driving a wedge further into our relationships.  A Sway a day, keeps the Devil away.  We intend to embrace this idea into our daily routine.  Anyone want to join us?  

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Embrace the Nonsense!

Warning: Rant ahead!

Some days, I just want to give up.  I mean, I have six kids now.  SIX!  And when you try to make plans to get away, finding a sitter is near impossible.  Not only do I usually have to find more than one to split them up but after you think you find one and they call you 2 hours later to cancel because they forgot about something, you sometimes just want to pull your hair out.  Does anyone else with multiple children ever feel like this?  Or even one or two children???  Because I've had this issue since I started having kids ten years ago.  I don't want this to sound like I'm blaming anyone.  Just venting, because I can.  I understand others have a life.  I just get so down and hard on myself for having this many children to begin with and yet, I wanted them.  I wanted each chaotic, sticky-fingered mess with chocolate-covered kisses and their quirky expressions.  


I'm certain after I sleep it off tonight I will remember this nonsense no more or even feel foolish for sharing this publicly but I'm trying to stay real here.  I chatted with a beautiful sister I visit teach at our relief society activity tonight and she said to me, "I have four kids and feel crazy!  How do you do it with six and manage to look so calm all the time?"

All I could think was, "Wow, I must be a really good liar."  If only she knew how much chaos flows into and out of my foggy brain.  If only she could see how frantic I get when I lose my keys or misplace my shoes.  If only she could see me yell at my children behind closed doors because one is crying over a broken banana while another is clipping paper into the tiniest pieces all over my office floor and yet two more are fighting over a lego while another is climbing the doorway and jumping onto the bed.  And all this while I nurse a newborn and startle the poor babe in my arms because of my loud voice.  Yes, Ligia yells at her kids.  And it's not how I wish people to envision me.  Honestly, I've come to enjoy people viewing me as calm and collected but I feel like a fake that way.  I guess, as a young girl I always kept to myself and stayed out of others' business and sort of liked it that way.  I came to embrace that I was quiet and shy and had a mild manner with others except that I often felt my voice was unheard.  And now as a mom, I still feel unheard by my kids.  Maybe it is.  And maybe it isn't.  And maybe I have split personalities because I developed a psychotic one the day I decided to become Mom.  Maybe people really want to hear that I sat down and cried because I had yet another babysitter cancel on me.  This is the nonsense I live with.  Crying over a cancelled babysitter.  Who does that?  It's hard for me to even write this because I'm such a closet crier.  I don't like feeling vulnerable at all.  And yet I know that's how people connect best.  So why do I always feel vulnerable when I have to ask for help?  Why do I push help away?  Why can't I just embrace feeling vulnerable and that that's supposed to be a part of life?   

I love personal development a lot.  It's almost like an addiction for me.  I was listening to a Facebook Live tonight with Brett Harward and he gave a few tips on how to become unstuck in life.  The first one resonated with me a lot.  He said to Embrace the Nonsense!  Those little things we often think are nonsensical to do because, "Who does that?"  and "That's crazy!" and "Why did you choose to have six kids then?"

I guess I'm trying to keep an open mind tonight.  I definitely need to develop more tolerance for the nonsense.  I get it.  It's the nonsense things in life that allow us to open our perspective to the possibilities.  To what?  The different ways to achieve our goals.  Because there's more than one way to get there.  In history, all those who were esteemed in their accomplishments were usually faced with great opposition from others who thought they were crazy.  Columbus was told he'd fall off the earth for his crazy idea of a trip.  Edison was told he had a learning disability as a child.  Disney was told to give up his dream several times.  And yet, all these men and several others embraced their own personal nonsense.  

So I sit here pouring out this rather disjointed thought process in hopes that by revealing the nonsensical in ME, I can overcome the basic everyday life obstacles with perhaps the tiniest bit more grace.  I guess tomorrow is a new day.  Here's to Embracing the Nonsense!     

One of the only pictures I have so far of all six of my children.  It's not the most perfectly captured photo of all of them, but in many ways, it captures each of their personalities and quirky ways so well.  Which is why I'm sharing this one now.  To keep it real.  To show that no matter how perfect you plan things, sometimes, the best things to remember is that we are all just a little bit crazy and nonsensical.   

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Aslan's Birth

I just entered into my blog again and realized my last post was Phoenix's birth.  I guess the only thing worth logging in anymore is the birth of a child.  Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that I have six young children now.  But I love to write and tell their stories.  I'm not sure why it has taken me years to get back into this but hopefully, I can start blogging more because I love keeping these records of my family.

So, Here is Aslan's Story:

This birth was special to me.  So much of it was carried through with faith and the angels I felt around me.  Yes, I'm a total energy person and Yes, I believe in angels but have never truly felt their presence so much as I did throughout this rough experience.  I call it rough because truly it was one of the more difficult ones I've had.  But before I get into the nitty gritty of it all, I'd like to express how grateful I am for the series of events that led up to this situation.  It has been made clear to both Alex and myself that everything that has taken place this last year has had a purpose even though at the time it seemed like an unexplainable trial of our faith.

I have been known to murmur often and complain.  This usually happens when our finances are tight.  Which for the past year and a half or so, has been our journey.  It seems we're often trying to play catch-up on everything.  And the Lord has somehow always blessed us.  We have never gone without our basic needs being met.  So I can't complain there.  But there's something so dang frustrating about trying to become self-reliant when our commission-based income is not always as consistent as we'd like it to be.

I feel the need to recap the events of the past year or so, to truly show why I feel God and his angels were with us throughout our journey.  After spending two years in Traverse Mountain, a beautiful area in Lehi which we loved and truly did not want to leave, we decided to take a leap of faith and travel again.  In the past, this has always proven to be quite profitable.  And we were in a place where we really wanted to start getting ahead so that we could buy a house soon instead of renting.  It seemed like the right choice.  And so we headed to California in February of 2016 to do more security sales, only to find the market was terrible and quickly, our savings was used up.  

We found no place to stay out there and with no income, we quickly made the decision to return to Utah.  Only we had no place to stay.  My parents' small apartment wasn't quite suitable for our family of 7 at the time.  We ended up staying with Alex's brother and his family for almost 2 months in Sandy, and because the security sales weren't doing well, Alex quickly made shifts to work in the solar industry.  In our efforts to quickly find an apartment so as not to drive Elliot and April insane with our crazy kids made crazier because of all the mischief they wanted to explore together with their cousins (I'm sure our kids were in Heaven at this time btw), we found a place in Sandy around the corner from them instead.  Bless their hearts for taking our whole family under their roof while we figured out how to get out of this mess.  It seemed a bit pricey at first so we figured it would only be short term until we could find a house again since it's hard to find a place cheap enough, that also allows our family because most places ask for 2 people per bedroom.  In my mind, I think, who cares.  I've thrown all my kids into one bedroom because they all like to sleep near each other anyways.  But I stray from the point.  So we moved into this apartment around May.  Signed a 6 month lease.  When I got pregnant in June, our plan became to quickly find a bigger space so that we could move all of our things out of storage which we were paying on top of our rent.  For me, this was all just a big headache.  I hate moving so close to giving birth, but we've been there and done that on several occasions, so we looked and looked.  But as labor grew closer, Alex once again struggled with different solar companies trying to find what worked best for us financially.  It didn't seem doable anymore for us to rent a house because we couldn't save enough for a deposit as well as our rent and midwife payments which we're still in the process of working through.  The stars were not aligning for us, or so we thought.  So, we made the decision to stick around and eventually ended up signing another lease.  On a side note, because our complex switched out their management team, we later recieved a $200 discount on our second lease.  One of God's tender mercies and I'll explain all that in a bit.  Anyways, as I tell my birth story you'll understand why it was so critical that we were where we were because of the fact that I needed to transfer from my beautifully planned homebirth to a hospital again.  Our apartment, is literally just a few blocks from the hospital.  Had we moved to some of the areas we were looking at in Lehi and Bluffdale, where we wanted to be, and the nearest Emergency was a 10-20 minute drive, things might have gone differently.  I don't know.  One can never tell for sure, but my gut tells me, that everything was in place as it should have been because I know God loves me and watches over me and my babies.

So back to the actual birth.  We decided to once again use Sherri Price as our midwife.  I personally loved all her birthing support so much last time with our stubborn little Phoenix that just wouldn't descend into the birth canal properly, that we ended up calling her last minute after we had gotten some finances into place in order to use her services.  She really has a gift for birth and assisting mothers.  Regardless of feeling confident in once again going with Sherri over Suzanne Smith who we also loved for helping us deliver 3 of our babies, I felt the need to express to her that I felt nervous about something.  She gave me several foot zones as we explored what it was I was so emotional about.  I couldn't quite put my finger on it.  Birth doesn't often make me nervous.  I mean, of course there's always a bit of uncertainty each time around, but this felt different.  We explored whether it was my financial anxiety, or stressing over whether anything could have been done differently the last time to avoid being transferred again.  We talked about birthing tubs and the stool being at the right height for me to birth upon because last time I had a lot of pressure in my legs.  We had been a bit confused about whether our conception date was accurate and roughly tried to figure out when this little guy would make his appearance because of trips Sherri had to make roughly around the same time.  We also discussed whether a homebirth was even right for me at this time.  I had been struggling with some other health issues but was still fairly low-risk.  In the end, though I love Sherri, something still made me feel extremely on edge.  Despite her trips she discussed with me the possibility of having one of her other midwives she worked with attend my birth.  I trusted she would leave me in good hands, and in the end, that's exactly what happened.  So I then began to prepare for our baby's birth day as best I could.  This pregnancy got so difficult in the last 6 weeks or so.  I was told I had a lot of fluid and for sure, that and a combination of the fact that I gave birth to another big baby added to the difficulty in moving around towards the end.  Still, I guess I'm a pusher.  So we pushed ahead and got things out of storage, washed loads of baby clothes that had been put away, collected birthing supplies and stuff to clean up the mess.  Even so, nothing seemed to help me feel quite prepared this time.  You'd think I'd have been ready having gone through this 5 times before.

Since my ability to move felt a bit limiting, I found ways to uplift my mind and focus on positive thoughts and ways to raise my energy to a higher vibration.  I printed out a garland of strengthening scriptures I could read and be reminded of as I walked by them.  I printed out more quotes.  I loved the one that says to "Be Still and know that I am God."  It helped to increase my faith and calm my fears.  I happened to choose a theme word for my year and my word was Stillness.  So it's fun to see how this word has shown up in my life this year.  I also really loved John 16:21 which reads, "A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for the joy that a man is born into the world."  These were helpful.  And then, as silly as it may sound, I started watching Moana with my kids.  Disney surely has a way of making you watch their films on repeat and something clicked and spoke to me through one song in particular. 

On a day that was rather rough because my house had become a mess and I felt useless to do anything about it, I heard the song, "I Am Moana (song of the ancestors)" and the lyrics lit up as though someone was speaking to me.  So here are the lyrics in case you wanted to follow along:

Gramma Tala:
I know a girl from an island
She stands apart from the crowd
She loves the sea and her people
She makes her whole family proud
Sometimes the world seems against you
The journey may leave a scar
But scars can heal and reveal just
Where you are
The people you love will change you
The things you have learned will guide you
And nothing on earth can silence
The quiet voice still inside you
And when that voice starts to whisper
Moana you've come so far
Moana listen
Do you know who you are?

Who am I?
I am a girl who loves my island
I'm the girl who loves the sea
It calls me
I am the daughter of the village chief
We are descended from voyagers
Who found their way across the world
They call me
I've delivered us to where we are
I have journeyed farther
I am everything I've learned and more
Still it calls me
And the call isn't out there at all, it's inside me
It's like the tide; always falling and rising
I will carry you here in my heart you'll remind me
That come what may
I know the way
I am Moana!

I watched this particular scene in the movie with tears, surrounded by my children's concerned faces because I never cry for a movie but in that moment I realized who it was.  I realized I had an angel beside me calming my doubts and fears about how this birth would go.  It was my Nona.  This may not mean much to anyone reading this but years ago, when I was about to deliver my second child and my Nona was dying, I interviewed her for a school project and discovered that she too had delivered babies at home.  I developed a connection with her in a way I never felt before.  At a time when the rest of my family always seemed nervous and anxious to insist I go to a hospital because my ideas of home birthing were simply crazy, I felt supported by the strength of her spirit and my doubts ceased during my daughter's birth because of that connection I had with her.  She was my first homebirth.  And then I had two more.  Needless to say, this time, I felt her spirit speak to me and calm me once again.  And though the outcome was not how I envisioned it would happen, I learned so much and wouldn't trade the experience for anything.  I know, without a shadow of a doubt that my grandmother was present during Aslan's birth.  Her spirit kept me at peace throughout the whole ordeal and it wasn't an easy one. 

So, Aslan was born Friday March 10, 2017 at 9:21am.

Thursday, my mother-in-law Cheryl, went with me and the kids to Costco around noon.  I always seem to be doing tons of crazy things the day I go into labor.  I have a hard time doing grocery shopping this far along but this day, she wanted to gift our family something I'd been pining over for a long time so I figured I better make the effort to go.  We were shopping for a Kitchenaid!  It was a dream come true.  I'd wanted one as a Christmas present but then we made different decisions with our finances being so tight.  Cheryl has struggled for a while now with some back problems so the sight must have been a funny one.  A pregnant woman trying to get around with 5 kids in tow and not being able to carry a kitchenaid off the shelf.  Those things are heavy.  Neither could my sweet mother-in-law.  So we flagged down a Costco employee to assist us in the heavy lifting that needed to be done.  Shortly after arriving at Costco though, something in my body definitely shifted and the whole time we were shopping to restock toilet paper and other essentials, along with my new kitchenaid, I kept having to stop every 3-5 minutes to time a surge and just sway through it.  I must have been a sight that day.  My labors are typically days long so I didn't think much of it and figured it was all braxton hicks stuff because I'd been having tons of those for the past 8 weeks.  We went home, unloaded groceries, and then I took my kids to their silks classes.  This was from 4-6pm.  The pressure waves kept coming and going and somehow, after dinner, and putting the kids down, I told Alex I wanted help getting a few more things from Costco that I had forgotten earlier that day because obviously my brain was malfunctioning.  So we went to Costco again at about 8pm.  Talk about nesting. 

After getting back home and organizing our last few items, I considered opening the kitchenaid, excited to try it out, but these surges were really getting the best of me.  So I tried to rest instead, putting the beloved kitchenaid aside for now.  Except, now I found myself somewhat uncomfortable even in my usual sitting and lounging positions.  Surges/waves still about every 3-5 minutes.  At around 11pm. Alex suggests calling Sherri but she had made a house visit just that morning and had actually been attending another birth as well as getting ready for a trip so I hesitated to bother her at this late hour unless I was certain labor was on its way.  But the pressure was definitely building so we finally called her and she showed up at about midnight and I was still not resting very well but doing a lot of rocking and leaning on the couch while kneeling.  I'm always afraid my dilation will get checked and that I will get told I'm only at a 2 like it was with my firstborn.  But everything was going surprisingly well again.  Sherri checked me and said, "You're very dilated my dear," so obviously my body had been doing some hard work this day.  I was at a 7+ and upon hearing that, I got excited.  I knew I was close now and felt positive I could do it at home again.  She called for the tub and assistance, especially since her trip was in the morning.  So Roxanna Maurer was her replacement and the most amazing lady.  It's funny because I'm always somewhat hesitant when I have a new person or nurse attending me that I've never met before.  But somehow, her energy made me feel at peace.  Everything about her presence felt right.  And as much as I would have loved for Sherri to stay, I wasn't as sad or nervous about her leaving me. 
Something about Roxie was familiar to me.  Sherri stayed until about 3am.  I had been in the tub for a few hours and had reached a 9+ and felt very pushy.  So I was progressing quickly.  I did not want to get out of the tub but then my surges began to slow down a bit and it was suggested I maybe walk around and use gravity to help the baby move into position better.  So I sat on the stool and then Roxie took over as Sherri got ready to leave.  After she left, I found myself not quite comfortable sitting for long, so I walked around a bit more and then found a way to sit on the couch comfortably with lots of pillows.  Her assistant kept putting pressure on my knees toward my hips and it was so soothing through each pressure wave (we avoid calling them contractions as much as possible at our house).  I slept for a while in between surges.  And I loved the way nothing seemed rushed.  My water hadn't broken yet and typically in the past I've had it broken for me and then baby arrived within minutes.  Phoenix was the exception.  But with Phoenix, my water broke on its own, so I was confident I could do this again.  Once again, we allowed my body to do things on its own.  Roxie had a way with encouraging words.  She often said to me, "Welcome it, welcome it......"  and then encouraged me to let go of the tension in my shoulders which I didn't realize I was even holding onto until she would touch my shoulder to help me realize I could loosen it up a bit.  I can't even begin to explain how helpful that was in relaxing my body and allowing it to open up.     

At around 5am, I began to develop shaky legs.  I felt strange and cold so we decided to try the birth stool again.  I had a bulging bag of water and Roxie encouraged me to let it break on its own.  I suddenly developed this strange fear of crowning.  I understand most women often get nervous and get that feeling of giving up at about the time of transition, but this felt so different.  After having gone through several natural home-births I knew what the ring of fire would feel like.  I knew what to expect.  Still, I had some nerves I just couldn't shake off.  Later on, I would have Sherri explain to me that I should have listened to that closer because it was my mommy instincts.  I always have such a hard time trusting the voice and the whispers I hear.  But this experience has helped me develop my gifts of the spirit in so many ways.  So as I sat on the stool, I knew I was close to meeting my baby.  I just didn't realize what was to come.  Alex was so encouraging also.  He felt so confident in me.  He always sits behind me and supports my back and becomes my personal arm rest.  Somehow I always feel supported by him there.  He kept saying, "You can do this!  Let's meet our baby so I can hold him instead!"  And that always seems to be the little push I need.  I need to hear that someone else believes in me, I guess.  I was facing a wall hanging that had several family pictures posted on it.  One of which was the photo of my grandparents.  My dad's mom.  My Nonita.  There she was.  With confident shoulders and a firm regal countenance.  I remember her as a short woman but she always stood straight and tall.  She knew who she was it seemed.  A gentle and forgiving soul, but ready to face whatever the adversary threw her way.  I looked into that photograph and stared into her eyes and I knew that I could do hard things.  I have strength beyond what I often think I have and when I feel like giving up, small encouragements often allow me to push beyond and it's surprising to me how empowering that feels.  I felt the tears roll down my cheeks as I suddenly realized I wasn't alone in the pain I felt and I handed myself over to God's will and gave it everything I had.  Another surge began and I allowed my body to ease into it and open fully.  It did.  At that moment, my amniotic sac ruptured and I was thrilled.  I was thrilled because I'd gotten this far on my own again with no meds.  But just for a moment.

Everything turned around in that moment and became quite chaotic.  I immediately felt Roxie shove her hand into me followed by, "Call 911, it's a cord prolapse!"  It took me a moment to realize I once again would not be having the birth I desired but I'm amazed at how quickly everyone worked together to make things happen.  While we waited for the ambulance, Roxie had me move to the floor and get on hands and knees.  She told me not to push anymore, which I must say was terribly difficult because of how much I wanted to push in that moment.  I remember asking "why?" because I had been in the zone for a while and suddenly had to halt my progress.  Once my water is broken the surges are on top of each other and really intense so Roxie tried to get me to push a couple more times to see if baby would just come out quickly but nothing happened at that point.  She urgently kept me on hands and knees as she struggled to push the cord back in.  Her assistant put an oxygen tube into my mouth to get extra oxygen but in my confusion I kept taking it out to breathe better.  What I hadn't realized is what Roxie later told me really had her worried.  The baby's heartbeat had suddenly dropped into the 20's.  I kept asking why I couldn't just push.  Having her hand jammed into such an awkward place made me really want to push.  

The ambulance arrived within minutes and pretty soon, furniture was getting shoved around to make way for a stretcher.  But I couldn't lay down on the stretcher.  I literally had to crawl onto it and ride to the emergency room on hands and knees with my midwife's hand up my crotch.  Forgive the language.  At least my sweet mother had time to drape a bedsheet over me to keep me decent while being carried outside into the ambulance in that awkward position.  Every bump there was excruciating and I was not in my zone anymore.  Never thinking I would ride in an ambulance like that in my life, I practically begged for whatever drug they had lying around for some relief.  I knew this baby wasn't going to come as quickly at this point and that I would have to endure quite possibly a few more hours of this, and perhaps even have a c-section.  Which when contractions are on top of each other seems super impossible.  And it's only made worse when people start telling you, you can't stand up and move around anymore to work with your body.  But those ambulance guys were amazingly supportive.  They kept asking Roxie, "What do you need us to do?" and were so obedient to every request she made about how to stay positioned where she needed to be.   

We arrived at the Alta View hospital within about 5 minutes since it was literally around the corner.  The doctor had just arrived to the ER and helped roll me onto the bed.  The interesting thing that I consider miraculous is that he went in to check my dilation and declared I was at a 6.  Somehow, my body had closed up.  Perhaps it was a fight or flight response but this is where the series of miracles come in.  He then checked for a cord once Roxie had removed her hand.  Nothing to be found.  No cord anymore.  This is the part where I have to thank Roxanna sincerely for all the pain.  She was determined to get that cord back up there somehow so as not to cut off our baby's oxygen supply.  And that's exactly what she did.  The doctor seemed somewhat confused.  So he gave orders to proceed with labor where we had left off.  For me, things got too difficult to continue without pain relief.  I asked for the epidural.  Funny thing was, the anesthesiologist wasn't available for another half hour so I endured several more surges, one at a time, and then was fully dilated again when he finally came in.  I still wanted it.  He worked amazingly quick and gave me a double dose that eased up all the pain almost immediately.  Miracle number 2 there.  Never thought I'd be so grateful for modern medicine in my life.  But I've always known it had a place.  At this point, I just wanted to go to sleep.  But I also didn't want to be pregnant anymore.  So at around 9am, I start to push again.  I knew I would be making little progress because the epidural always makes me feel super drowsy and I never know what to feel for anymore.  This time, doctor suggests we try the vacuum, so after getting the go ahead from me, he uses the vacuum and after a few pushes, our little boy entered the world at 9:21am.  

Miracle number 3: After asking several questions, and wondering if I had made the mistake of trying a homebirth again, I had it explained to me by several nurses, midwife and doctor, that had I been at the hospital already, a cord prolapse would have immediately taken me to the OR for a C-section.  To this day, I can happily say I've avoided a c-section.  I was definitely prepared to get one.  But when I realized I was able to deliver yet another baby vaginally, I was in tears of gratitude.  Not so much because I fear the surgery, but because it's just not something I want to experience.  I will say this: I have full respect for any mother who goes through the recovery process of it.  She is a super woman.  But truly, all mothers are superhuman aren't they?  

Miracle number 4:  Despite the extreme discomfort of this labor, I'm amazed at how much faith and positivity I had within me.  I somehow managed to be at peace with whatever took place and trusted in the many angels assisting me.  I trusted in the nurses, in Roxie, in the good doctor whose name I keep forgetting, in my good husband, who, on the way to the ER looked at me with the most worry I'd ever seen.  He cried for the third time in my life.  I never see this man cry.  That's how I knew the situation was serious.  I felt so at peace because of the angels I couldn't see but felt all around me.  I felt at peace with my mother who never left my side.  I felt at peace with my dad who had fallen asleep on the couch in our living room and was ever so confused when we asked him to call 911.  He obviously hasn't been the same since his stroke and his understanding of what to do as he woke up when my water broke, provided much comical relief for me.  It's good to look back and laugh a little because life is meant to be enjoyed.  As hard as it was, overcoming this obstacle was so rewarding.  

I felt my grandmother's presence as clearly as Moana could see hers in her story.  It was an undeniable energy.  I can't wait to one day be able to hug her again and express my gratitude to her for always following me around and watching over me and my little family.  I don't need scientific proof to know she was there the whole time.  The real kicker for me in telling this story is having Roxanna come to visit me a few days after the birth.  She came by to do the PKU testing as well as gift me a sweet children's book with Aslan's footprints in it.  As we sat and talked about what all had happened, she made mention of how she calls upon angel midwives to assist her.  Keep in mind, I had never met this woman prior to being in labor.  She spoke of how one spirit midwife made itself very clear to her.  She described her as dark and beautiful and of hispanic descent.  I got chills listening to her describe how the veil had gotten thin, and so Alex and I decided to show her the photo of my Nona hanging on the wall to see if it had any familiarity and she said it definitely looked a bit like her.  Of course, the photo I had, she was a bit older.  But I remember looking at several of her more youthful photos and seeing her with long dark hair.  My understanding of angels is that they're usually in their prime.  But Roxie confirmed to me all that I felt was real.  I'm not a crazy energy person who claims to feel angels.  I do feel them.  They're very real.  And I now share this story so that it won't float away and disappear into the universe somewhere.  I don't usually have experiences like this though I've always been in tune with energies and prayed often to have further insight into the realms I cannot see.  And I'm grateful for all that was revealed to me.  I'm grateful that my Father in Heaven sees me fit to develop my intuition in such ways and I know he wants me to continue to seek further knowledge and the hidden treasures he promises to those who engage in seeking it out. 

Welcome to the world baby Aslan!  Life is chaotic, but we're overjoyed that we didn't lose you that morning.  For every mother that endures the tragic loss of a newborn, my heart swells for you and I will thoroughly enjoy my baby boy and strive to endure the hardship of a newborn no matter what it brings.  Yes, I've been known to murmur.  But I truly am grateful for this experience and all it has taught me about life, compassion and nurturing grace.  

Aslan Titus Huntington.  May you live up to your name.  Be fierce and bold.  Be Christ-like.  And hold to that title of honor that belongs to you.  To you and your ancestors.  We love you baby boy!      

Baby Aslan, just born.

A photo of the placenta always seems gruesome to share but I find it amazingly wondrous that we as women can grow an entire organ within the space of 9 months, alongside a new human being.  It truly is a beautiful thing to me to marvel at how perfect God's plan of creation is.  

Alex, shielding the baby's eyes from the harsh and bright lighting of the hospital room.  

Skin to skin with my new baby.

10 lbs. 6 oz.  22 1/2 inches long.  He's a big one! 

Ten year-old big brother holds the baby.  

Daddy and Edison want a turn too. 

One of our sweet nurses washing his hair.

One day old with aunt Tiffany.  

Uncle Mauricio playing with his nephew.

Chrysalis is all over this kid.

And here's the beautiful midwife who saved our baby's life.  Roxanna Maurer.

A truly AMAZING woman!

My dad, the comedian, trying to figure out how to assist at our house with the aftermath. 

Baby's day old smiles.

Just can't resist sharing all these photos.  I'm so lucky.  I get to cuddle with another boy at night.  Isn't he scrumptious?!  Our family is truly so blessed.  Hope you've enjoyed our birth story.  If you've made it this far, thanks for taking this journey with us. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Phoenix Taylor Huntington

For this little boy, I decided I wanted nothing more than to share my birth experience with more of my family and friends.  I even created this little birth invitation with a picture of Clary Sage, a beautiful fragrance that has been a companion to me in my previous birth with Edison.  I share a favorite quote here because I truly feel that birthing is so much more than a skill that women acquire.  It is an art and a craft to be honed and refined as we enter it again and again.  It is the art of Creation at its fullest.  Granted, it's hard to know when babies will make their grand entrance into this world, I wanted to prepare myself to be surrounded by positive energies that would lift my spirit during a time of tremendous focus.  Having been through 3 previous home births, I thought I had this one in the bag.  It's truly amazing that though things never seem to go according to plans, that everything happens the way it should for a growing life experience.  Phoenix Taylor Huntington entered this world surrounded by wonderful people, anxious to see him embrace this existence.  And I was grateful to share that experience with so many as they in turn buoyed me up throughout the process.  

It seems that with each successive child, I take fewer and fewer pictures throughout pregnancy.  I guess that's what happens when you have 5 kids.  But I'd like to keep these memories in one place even though my journaling of these events has dwindled.  For me, this blog is my journal and I eventually plan on printing this all out into a book.  And I'm happy to share my stories with those who wish to follow along.

Quite late into the game, because of financial issues as well as indecisive thoughts about who we wanted to have as our midwife, we finally found Sherri Price and her amazing team of midwives and fell in love with her ways and her passion for what she does.  In the past, I have had Suzanne Smith midwife Chrysalis' and Hinckley's birth.  She would have attended Edison's as well but was unavailable and so we had Trinette, who was on her team of midwives.  We have loved Suzanne and her team at Better Birth.  The reason we chose to go with Sherri this time, was that after much prayer, we felt more in tune with her practice.  Not to mention, her services were cheaper, which was a bit more alluring.  But to foreshadow this story a bit, the support I received from this amazing woman throughout my labor, made my laboring so much more peaceful than any other labor I've had in the past.  

In preparation for this birth, I went shopping around and found a maternity nightie I thought would be comfy to birth in . . .

And took a photo to make sure I looked good in it for the big Birthday Party.  Sigh.  Sometimes our fantasies of how things will turn out are funny.  I remember feeling quite giddy in this moment, thinking of the new baby and how everything would fall into place so easily.  

Amidst the anxiety that loud bickering children can create in a home, Hinckley was good at finding ways to make me laugh.  If my life were a movie, he would definitely be my comic relief.  One morning in the last few weeks of pregnancy, he walks into my bedroom wearing a ball under his shirt, and in his most robotic Hinckley voice, says, "I'm Pwegnant Mommy."

Here I am at about 36 weeks with my friend Kim, who was about 33 or 34 weeks.  I can't quite recall, but I know we were close together. I attended her baby shower and though I was feeling excited to meet our little boy, I was somewhat jealous to see all the cute little girl things she was receiving for her first baby.  Yes, I know.  I have a little girl already.  But I so longed to take out the baby girl clothes again to dress a baby up in pink and flowers.  I suppose our boy clothes were meant to be loved thoroughly.  And thoroughly, they shall be loved.      

About 2 weeks before I went into labor, another new Huntington baby graced us with her presence: Little Charlotte Faith.  So we paid our newest little cousin a visit and once again, the feelings of jealousy arose.  I've seemingly been envious a lot lately.  Being so heavy with child, I remember telling April and Elliot, "I wish I was in your shoes already."  The aches and pains of carrying around such a heavy baby really took its toll on my back and pubic bones this fifth time around.  Each baby surely seems to come with different challenges.  

Sherri hosts these monthly forums for her mommies-to-be with her team of midwives and I absolutely love all the golden nuggets of info and insights I walk away with having attended these. This particular class was on Comfort Measures.  Boy was this helpful.  As much as I adored my previous midwives, the one thing they really lacked was the amount of involvement Sherri displayed at this birth, having been there for each and every pressure wave (contraction) and  really helping me to make the most of them so that labor would progress quicker than I ever thought it would.  Hip and knee squeezing, and pressure on the sacrum was SOOOOOO nice and felt SOOOO good.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.    

Anyways, for those of you who know me well, you know that doTerra has become a huge part of my life.  This is my third year attending convention and it so happened that convention fell on the 18th, 19th & 20th of September this year.  It truly was a beautiful and amazing experience, especially since I get to share it with friends and family that I love.  There's nothing out there quite as inspiring.  And only God knows I needed this infectious energy to fill my spirit for this birth.  That said, my due date was September 30th.  I figured I would enjoy convention and still have time to rest a bit before my baby arrived.  Of course, my babies have never made their due date.  

So here I was, walking around on the second day of convention, showing off this big belly, having stranger after stranger touch it, telling me this baby was my special doTerra baby.  And it wasn't until the second day of convention that I began to have second thoughts about whether I'd get through it all before baby came.  Walking had suddenly become more difficult.  Who knows.  Perhaps all the walking was what sent me into labor.  Honestly, it was the sitting still in the hard seats at the Energy Solutions Arena that was most uncomfortable.  I so wished to be able to sit on a birthing ball at that point.  Either way, I tried to remain calm and absorb what I could of the education and inspiration that came my way.  

And this sweet cousin of mine was of such wonderful support to me.  I couldn't have done any of this without her.  Thanks Noelle, for the water bottle trick on my back.  Such simple comfort measures with everyday items.  

Meanwhile, the Grandmas of this baby boy, who apparently were anxious to learn more this year, spent convention catching up on their beauty rest.  Gotta love the Grandmas.

At least they had each others' shoulders to rest on.  Yup.  That's my mother and mother-in-law with heads rested upon each other.  

And while they rested, I took tons of photos of the big screen above that displayed some inspiring messages.

Here I am with my mother-in-law Cheryl, and my cousin Noelle on the last day of convention, in my favorite dress.  That very morning I debated whether I should go or not because I had woken up in the early am to a small trickle of water that dripped down my legs as I went to the bathroom.  My mucous plug had come out that morning but that never meant anything for sure.  I didn't think much of it because in the past, my amniotic sac was so tough, it just wouldn't break on its own.  I did call Sherri that morning and gave her the update in case.  I decided I'd wear a pad in case anything else came out that day and figured I'd rather spend the day learning and being inspired rather than just sitting at home on the couch watching TV.  Upon arriving that day, it was maybe an hour before a whole lot of the mucous plug began to really come out.  But I was prepared.  I had lots of pads and I got rather excited.  I did begin to feel that a baby was coming today.  But I didn't worry.  After all, my midwife is a Wellness Advocate for doTerra also and was nearby.  If I had a baby at convention, at least I had all that I needed there.  Ha ha!      

Some final photos in front of the Arena, as I began some real pressure waves that made it rather difficult to focus on the last half of the days events.  

It was at around noon that I recall informing Noelle as we were eating lunch in the sun, that I felt my focus was beginning to internalize some more.  I felt like everyone around me was becoming a bit of a blur.  Not visually.  Just a sense that nothing around me mattered anymore.  I paid no attention to people around me.  Things were getting a bit hazy, if that makes sense.  And it was at around that same time that my feet began to swell.  Never really experienced the swollen ankles before.  Sherri later said that she believes I was a bit dehydrated and attributes it to that.     

But I feel privileged to have been able to make it through convention to hear the story of the Goddard family and how they overcame one of their greatest challenges this year after their oldest son Max was burned in a Fourth of July firework-making accident.  He has experienced 3rd degree burns on about 45% of his body and has inspired many through his journey to recovery using both modern medicine and natural solutions.  Stephanie Nielsen was another keynote speaker that day as well, and her story was quite the uplifting one also.  My soul was filled with one amazing story after another of strength and overcoming adversity that quite frankly, I believe I needed to hear that day.  And honestly, because I'm the kind of person that feeds off of others' energies, I needed to be surrounded by these people.  As I later realized I had been in labor all throughout convention, I realized how powerful my mind had been at helping me to not think about the pain that certain contractions would have definitely brought on in the past.  A positive environment with tons of positive thinking was really what made labor go by so quickly this time.     

I mean, how could anyone not be inspired by this sweet and gentle, little, old lady who walks proudly as one of the newest silver ranks in doTerra?  Seriously?!  It's never too late to reach for our greatest potential, right?  I have much to learn yet.  

I had planned on attending the Healing Hands Concert that evening that doTerra was putting on to send all proceeds to their charity, but by 5:00pm, I was pretty ready to get on the road to home.  The pressure waves were coming on every 7-10 minutes.  Noelle, Cheryl and myself had been carpooling together every day and this day, the 20th, I needed help with the driving.  So Noelle, graciously drove us home, only making a stop at the Real Foods Market to pick up some raw milk for Edison who thrives off of raw milk.  I was supposed to pick it up days before, but after each day at convention, I was too tired to stop at the store.  Alex didn't seem to understand this.  That last day, he insisted that I needed to stop to pick it up, and as I began to time my surges at about 6-7 minutes apart, I asked my cohorts to pick up the milk for me because getting in and out of the car was definitely becoming a bit more difficult.  My feet had never gotten so swollen before in all my life.  I was texting Alex who was at home with the other four kids thinking HE was having a hard time.  I swear the man thinks I exaggerate when I tell him something is difficult for me.  He's such a go-getter.  Guess I need his powerful energy.  I remember explaining to him over a text about how swollen my feet were and he didn't really take me seriously until I got home and he got to see it for himself.  But I have a sweet and honest husband.  Sometimes a little too honest.  Noelle dropped me and Cheryl off and she went home to rest a bit and see her kids.  I was to call her as soon as things were more progressed.  Upon seeing my feet Alex's eyes went wide as he pretty much shouted, "What the heck, Lig, you've got Cankles!"  I'm certain that every woman in labor loves to hear such sweet words of encouragement.  At that point, he urged me to sit down or get in the bath.  He massaged my feet with some Serenity oil and Lavender and Clary Sage.  My favorite.  And then he motioned me to get ready for labor and/or get into the tub to reduce the swelling.  Sherri was on her way over but I told her not to rush because I figured this was the beginning and my previous experiences dictated to me that I might be here for a day or more.  I didn't want to start stripping down until I took a couple more pictures of these last moments of my big belly.  So Alex kindly snapped some pictures of me on our little balcony.    

I was probably at a 5 here and had no idea.  I then took off my clothes and got into the tub.  The warm water and massaging jets were divine.  I'm so grateful we have a tub with jets.  I had no desire to get out.  It was about 8:30pm or so at this point and the only reason I got out of the tub was because I felt somewhat vulnerable being completely undressed when Sherri got to my home.  Yes, I've done this before and realized that in labor, all decency goes out the door, but part of me really wanted to get out for a moment and put my nightgown on to at least greet her in some sense of decency.  I leaned over the bed as a stronger surge came on because I was out of the water now.  And it seemed the surges were harder when I wasn't in the water.  At that point, Sherri walked in and suddenly, my guard came down.  Her sweet smile and warm voice were so welcoming and soothing.  My whole being simply trusted her.  She took a moment to check where I was and for a moment I feared she'd say I was at a 3 still.  Then she said I was at about a 6+.  That's all I needed to hear to feel excited and hopeful that this was probably going to be shorter than I thought.  The next couple of hours seemed to pass by in a haze again.  Alex texted all those who had planned on coming as we progressed to a 7 and 8.  Slowly, others began to arrive.  But I honestly was very unaware of what went on around me.  My focus was very much internalized.  I spent some time on my side on the bed with some affirmations playing in the background by Marie Mongan, the hypnobirthing guru.  Sherri massaged my ankles with lots of Lemon and Peppermint and Wild Orange.  Then I spent some time on the birthing ball with Sherri pushing my knees towards my hips while Alex pushed on my hips toward my knees in the opposite direction.  The pressure this relieved was amazing.  And I was amazed at how quickly everything was progressing.  It was around 1-2am that I decided to try the birthing stool, but for some reason it really wasn't as comfortable as I remember it being.  I longed to get back into the warm tub and so I did.  The nightgown I had so carefully planned to wear throughout the labor came off entirely.  Sherri graciously suggested I use a towel if that made me more comfortable, which it did.  So a towel was draped over my body and all I remember at this point was Alex holding my hand and a bathroom full of people every time I opened my eyes after enduring another surge.  Those I remember being present were Orion and Chrysalis, my mom and dad, Cheryl and her sister Rhonda, my two sisters and brother, my cousins Noelle and Kristin, Sherri and her two midwife apprentices as well as Angie, another midwife.  Needless to say, it really was the party I had anticipated it would be.         

Shortly after getting back into the tub, Sherri checked me again and I was at a 9+.  I remember thinking, "Wow, it really doesn't feel like I'm that close."  At that point my water finally ruptured fully.  First time it did that on its own.  With the last three, my midwife ended up breaking my water to see if it would help the baby progress down, which it did and then they came right away.  This time, it just broke.  Then I really started to feel the need to push.    

Sherri said it was ok to push and so I did, but it was at this point that surges were on top of each other and she suggested we try the birthing stool again to see if baby would make more progress down as she could tell I was definitely getting tired.  I'd been sipping pineapple juice with a little cayenne pepper and some other floral essences to stay hydrated but Sherri thinks I was needing more fluid  than I was getting.  It was a bit difficult to drink water at that moment but she was so tender in how she offered me a drink every few minutes.  She kept monitoring the heartbeat and baby was still doing great.  In fact, he was calm throughout the entire labor.  I tried the stool for a few strong waves and gave it all I had.  I could feel my muscles getting shaky and tired though.  After what seemed like maybe a half hour, I wanted to sleep.  I began to ask to lie down.  But at the same time, I knew that lying down was simply gonna make the surges more difficult to get through.  Still, I demanded it at one point.  Then Sherri suggested I have an IV put in to see if some extra hydration would help me.  I didn't want one, but by this point I was getting so tired that I gave in and figured it was probably what was best for me.  I went from the bed back to the birthing stool but Phoenix was just not coming down as easy as my other boys had.  At one point, Sherri said he was at a plus 2 for those who know what that means and she could see his hair.  But as soon as the pressure waves eased up and I stopped pushing, he would keep going back up.  This is where I began to get a bit frustrated. And I could tell Alex was too.  Neither of us wanted me to be transported for a number of reasons, but mainly because in the past, my hardest recovery was the one I had with Orion being born in the hospital.  He gave me a blessing for some peace.  Everyone could see I was frustrated with the situation and gave me some space to try pushing on the birthing stool one more time.  So as people moved into the room next door, I gave it all I had, really pushing down on Alex's hands as he sat behind me as always when I was on the stool.  I bore down thinking if I did, this baby would eventually just slide out like the previous three.  But he would just not budge.  Eventually, my focus was dwindling and the surges became more intense than I could handle.  So around 4am, after quite a few different attempts at pushing and coming really close to crowning, Phoenix just slid back up and settled himself into my body while contractions got really strong and I began begging to be transported to get some pain relief.  While it was the last thing I wanted to happen at my birth, Sherri was on top of everything.  My mom and Alex helped me get dry and get some clothes on while she made plans to get Dr. Wall to meet us at Lone Peak Hospital.  Let me just say, going to the hospital in active labor is no pleasant ride.  Every bump and turn was so excruciating with the amount of pressure on my pelvis from the baby's head.  Not to mention, I kept screaming at my mom to put pressure on my back and knees because Sherri went to the hospital in her own vehicle and I no longer had her comforting hands to apply pressure in all the right places.  My mom had no idea how to apply the pressure, try as she might.  But Mom, I still love you.      

I struggled to walk, so as we entered on the emergency side of the hospital, they brought me a wheelchair.  Of course, at this point, sitting on my wide open pelvis with a head there, was really no spring breeze.  But within minutes, the anesthesiologist was there sticking the needle into my back for the epidural.  I must admit that in this moment, I felt a bit defeated.  It was definitely not part of the plan, but because I didn't want to be in pain for another few hours, it was a much welcomed relief to suddenly feel no pain.  I sighed as the numbness of my legs began to kick in and remember apologizing over and over again to both Alex and my sweet midwife.  This of course is silly to do, but I couldn't help it.  I knew that it meant additional bills would be coming our way and this is where I felt bad for my hubby.  But then I felt the urge to sleep and I slept all morning long, fully dilated.  Dr. Wall suggested I sleep a bit to gather up some strength.  After some much needed rest, Pitocin was administered in order to get some stronger contractions since the epidural obviously slows things down.     

Meanwhile, this monkey was doing this outside the hospital.  

Even with the highest level of Pitocin they could give me, my strongest pushing was making little progress.  I knew which direction this was headed in.  I'd been there already with Orion.  Episiotomy and probably forceps.  But the good news was that my body was very open and the good Dr. said there was plenty of room.  He asked if I wanted to try the forceps.  He was very positive he could do it without an episiotomy, so I became hopeful again and I said ok.  Let's try it.  After all, he had been trying to turn my posterior baby by pretty much sticking his hand up my body in some very unnatural ways.  I can only attribute my stretchy body to the number of times Sherri used Frankincense and coconut oil to check my cervix.  What else could be the reason that in all my labors, this one was the first baby that I did not tear with?  No joke.  I had a good tear with Chrysalis and very mild little tears with the next two boys.  None of them needed stitching, but it was unbelievable that this little boy, who so happened to be 10 lbs. 8 oz. and 22 1/2" long, came out with the help of forceps and I had absolutely no tears at all.  My biggest baby so far was born on Sept. 21st, 2014 at 2:11pm.  He was never distressed and came into the world practically smiling.  The nurses that were all around me, none of whose names I can remember, were in awe that I had no tears as they exclaimed that I had just given birth to a toddler.  Funny nurses.       

Well, so that's how little Phoenix came into the world.  After much scrutiny, Dr. Wall and Sherri both agree that I was very dehydrated, but that Phoenix also had a hard time coming down because he had what is known as a nuchal hand, which basically means he had it jammed up by his ear making it hard for me to push him out.  He was actually born with a long tiny bruise along his wrist which is what led Dr. Wall to believe that I had been pushing hard against that little hand.  It really was amazing to have the help of modern science practices this time around and I am grateful for it.  As soon as the forceps went into my body, I pushed maybe twice, and baby finally slid on through.  I really had the best of both worlds all around me, at a time when I needed it most.    

And thanks to Sherri and Dr. Wall, and all those who created such a wonderful energy and support team, this little guy is now a part of our family.  

And he has my feet.  First baby with a longer second toe.  

Well, that pretty much wraps up my birth story for little Phoenix.  Here are some pictures of my chubby baby on his first day of Life.  Isn't he sweet?  I know that everything happens the way it does for a reason.  I've learned some important lessons through this experience about how we need to unify the best of both worlds in the practice of medicine and healing.  Or in this case, birthing and recovering after birth.  But I feel so blessed and somewhat undeserving of such a special little spirit that I've had the opportunity to carry for the past nine months.  Even though these little ones take their toll on our bodies as mothers, I'm always humbled by the power I have within my body to create life.  I'm humbled by the power that ALL women have to create life.  It's a magnificent transformation that we all go through when we labor so hard to bring forth God's spirits.    

They're so full of light aren't they? 

The most important lesson I walk away with this time around: These are my greatest creations!  Truly, my life is my canvas, and my best  pieces of artwork are my children.  Welcome to the world Phoenix!

Our little swimmer