when we were young…

writing with passion, living with vision and acting with intention


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39 minutes and we had our girl!

Bronwyn Anayah Bowen – you are here.

Your middle name is Hebrew for ‘God has answered.’

I always had dreams of having a little girl one day – to dress up, to braid hair, to indulge in all things girly. Bronwyn, you have been in my heart for a long time – I feel as though I have been holding my breath. Even when the ultrasound technician gave me the joyful news, I held my breath. I wasn’t entirely sure I would be allowed to keep you.

The dreams started to build again after that ultrasound appointment. The anticipation was familiar but it didn’t come without a reminder that the sweetest of dreams can be overturned. And so I held my breath a little, bracing for heartache of some kind until the day you came flying out.

I’m kinda serious, 39 minutes of labour and two pushes and you were out!

You yelled for the first hour – our nurse said you were less than thrilled about your speedy eviction notice. But to me, your yells were a welcome sound of your hearty lungs proclaiming that you were here – alive and well!

I had gone in on your due date for a sweep – your head had been sitting between my legs already for a couple weeks and the past week, I had felt like you could drop out with a sneeze. As the doctor examined me, her eyes widened and she told me I was already five centimetres dilated and fully effaced!

Eager to keep that action going, I went home and got my Banghra dance on (you can thank your Auntie Amanda for that idea). Your Nanny B and Papa came over that night as we anticipated labour pains. But they didn’t come. I was having mild Braxton Hicks contractions but I had been having those all week (guess we know how I got to five centimetres!). I was texting my doctor to update her and she urged us to come to the hospital since the contractions were regular even though mild.

We hung out there for an hour, chatting with Dr. Sivakova and Kat (our nurse). Still nothing. The doctor decided to get things going by popping my water since you were basically ready to drop out but not really in a hurry.

And labour officially commenced at 1 a.m..

Your dad searched Youtube for a favourite Celtic singer to accompany the Frankincense I had diffusing in the room. He came up with the eery soundtrack for Lord of the Rings. As he looked for something less brooding and more relaxing, an attack ad against Stephen Harper broke through my focus on a particularly intense contraction. Everyone’s eyes widened and flicked over to Jesse at the mention of Canada’s most hated prime minister. That ended Jesse’s Youtube search for tranquil Celtic music.

I have always been a big believer in a woman’s ability to manage her pain during labour, to embrace the entirety of what her body is doing. Such an empowering thought until you’re actually feeling each intense wave of pain and you feel your body tense up, resisting it.

But that’s what was different this time – instead of trying to suppress the pain and minimize it, I began to allow each contraction to fully unravel. It is hard to describe but as I continued to do this, something oddly amazing happened. In the last few contractions before I pushed, I felt your head pass down until you were crowning. I waited for my pain level to go through the roof with the next contraction but strangely, it was rather subdued. I knew you were coming very soon and was grateful for a chance to collect my strength. Another mighty contraction and my doctor urged me to push. I reminded myself that I was not going to push my tail bone out as I felt I might and repeated “small head, small head” to myself (thank God you did have a small head…). And with the second and final push, you were out!

My biggest baby, still tiny at 6 lb. 9 oz., born August 13th, 2015 at 1:39 a.m..

Freshie, new baby, fast delivery

big brothers, meet and greet

I’m fairly certain that I was the happiest I have ever been in my life with those first few minutes of my boys meeting their baby sister for the first time. They were beyond excited and exuded a sweetness I had never seen before.

My family together, complete.

Shaely Rose, I know you shared the moment with us. My heart has cried for the dreams that would never be with you. I actually worried that I might not be capable of ever bringing a little girl safely into the world. I still cannot quite believe that I have been gifted with another little girl. God has answered…

I have been blessed with four little souls in as many years. My heart is full – each of my children has shown me truths of living fully and abundantly. What will our little Bronwyn show us next I wonder?

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What skinny looks like now

I’m one of you, the moms with the post-pregnant bodies where perky bottoms have given way to saggy behinds and boobs that have followed suite unless filled with milk. But where many women I know are trying to lose their pregnancy weight, I am trying to gain back some.

No, I’m not actually all that lucky.

I weigh now, less than I did when I was 18. When I look at my body, I feel anything but beautiful. My legs, once slender but toned are now marred with varicose veins and resemble the limbs of a certain large bird. A line of separation indents the loosened muscles of my cushy abdomen. My once sculpted arms – all I can see now are large veins coursing down my forearms and branching off following the small bones in my hands. When I turn sideways, my once perky bottom has deflated to little more than a bump between my back and legs. The longer I stare, the the more dissatisfied I become so I cover myself up and get on with my day.

This new body image has come as a bit of a shock for me. Call me naive, but I guess I just didn’t think that age and having babies would already impact my body this much. You see, I have always been one of the lucky girls. I could eat whatever I wanted, exercise as little as I wanted and I never felt truly dissatisfied with my body.

The thing about being naturally “skinny” in our society is we aren’t allowed to complain. The media have done a bang-up job of convincing women for decades that any and all fat is bad, skinny is beautiful. It doesn’t matter that I feel less womanly because I look more like an adolescent girl than a grown woman, I don’t have those undesirable love handles, muffin top or cushy thighs so I have nothing to feel insecure about. I can’t tell you how much I would LOVE to have some extra padding around the middle to shed or even just to keep! I don’t say this to make light of the struggle many woman face as they try to lose excess weight but rather to shine light on my own struggle with feeling like I’m a few pounds away from looking emaciated. I can eat half a dozen cookies, enjoy a macchiato and munch on some chips and still, chicken little.

The good news is I have started working out with a friend and I joke with her saying that I gotta keep my eyes on the blonde chick with the soccer legs in our work out video for motivation. I’m not under an illusion that I can look just like her but I figure, she wasn’t born with those legs, she worked to get them looking like that. I aim to put in an honest effort and reap some benefits because I am not ready to throw the towel over my body. I have some of the best years of my life still ahead and I want to look and feel good.

Before you get all judgmental on me and feel inclined to remind me that I should be more concerned about what’s on the inside rather than the outside, let me share one more thing.

Before I first became pregnant, I was at my fittest, strongest and healthiest. I hiked often, I danced, I ate well. Because I was engaging in physical activity, I felt more vitality and strength and when I looked in the mirror – I felt beautiful. I could feel confident during intimacy with my husband, no need to dim the lights, no nagging worry in the back of my mind about how unattractive I must look right now. I can have all the head knowledge there is about how he thinks I’m beautiful no matter what and it’s what’s in my heart that makes me beautiful, but if I don’t believe it about myself, I can’t enjoy the fullness of making love with my husband, not completely. That’s just me.

I know babies have forever changed my body and I am okay with that. I just want to feel beautiful and I want to impress my husband with a body that I am caring for. I don’t have to be overweight to feel the urge to look better and be stronger.

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A sacred place

This is Medicine Beach.

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I brought my boys here this past weekend while we were visiting our old home on Pender Island. I watched as Shae played in a wonderland of driftwood, marsh grasses and other beach treasures. It was a sight sweeter than any other beach I have seen him play on. I always imagined my children playing on this beach, taking delight in the beautiful surroundings to explore.

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Almost three years ago, on a cold, misty and gray day in March, Jesse and I came to this beach to have a service for our Shaely Rose whom I held in my arms for only a day. We were overwhelmed with the love and support of our community who showed up in the rain that day to hold us – nearly 80 people.

Medicine Beach is more than a beautiful location to me – it is a place where dreams were dreamt, where they died and were laid to rest and now where they are revived.

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I believe places like this are sacred in the hearts of those who leave a piece of themselves there. The stillness; the gentle lapping of the water against the rocky shore; the wind rustling the grass and the call of birds in the marsh are indeed medicine for the soul. It both hurts my heart and fills it with gratitude to have such a place. Medicine Beach is a reminder of the beauty of life – its precious and fleeting presence and the promise of a brighter tomorrow.

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