Let me take you to Dun duh dun: Toddler Town!

As my due date creeped closer and closer and I started having contractions more and more often, I began to be concerned. The Peanut, while able to walk, simply preferred crawling. How the heck was I going to manage anything if I had two kids I had to carry around. Well, as my colleagues at Banneker taught me, God doesn’t always come when you want Him, but He always comes right on time. (This is my second favorite phase I learned teaching in a predominantly black community. The first being: Charge that to my head, not to my heart.)

The Peanut started walking 85% of the time the day we got Spike home from the hospital. And we are officially living in Toddler Town, where every moment someone is pulling on your hand demanding walk, WALK! I would say the one word I would use to describe baby phase is sweet. Everything is just so sweet, the little toes, the little clothes, the first everything is just so sweet to witness. The toddler phase word in this house is FUN! The Peanut is so fun right now. And to celebrate this fun time in our house, the Top Ten signs you have entered Toddler Town.

1. You invite the toddler to watch you in the bathroom in the hopes that they will soon gain interest in the potty. The toddler points at you while peeing and exclaims EEEwwww eewww EEEEEWWWW! Then tries to pull all of the toilet paper off the roll.

2. Every question is answered with a resounding NO! But that negative is often switched to an affirmative when asked “By no, do you mean yes?” (Wouldn’t it be great if you could get every “no” in your life changed like that?)

3. The bathroom door remains shut at all times (even if no one is in there) because while there has been no interest in peeing in the potty, there is great interest playing in the toilet. Plus the roll of toilet paper is again, very fun to unroll.

4. Things that were once safe on the dining room table are now in the danger zone because the toddler has learned to pull out the chairs, crawl on them to get on top of the table and wreak havoc with anything she has found. Someone especially likes  to dump out all the salt or pepper and then make designs in it. The toddler does all this while telling herself “no, no, naughty, uh-uh”.

5. You have spent a twenty minute drive singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” over and over because the toddler in the back claps and yells YEAH! And then starts singing again every time you finish.

6. While in public you spend a lot of time explaining that everything everyone else has “doesn’t belong to us” because the toddler thinks it is acceptable to climb into a strangers wagon, or walk up to a strange woman drinking a coke, smack her lips and say mmmmmm in hopes of getting a drink.

7. You go through about 4 dish towels a day because you have to repeatedly clean up the dog water that has been spilled out of the dog dish that is now upside down and being pushed around on the floor while the toddler yells “beep beep.”

8. You are often interrupted by “AAAAAAH! stuck, stuck!” because there are a myriad of places the toddler can get into but not out of.

9. You lose your keys, or glasses that you swear were just right on that table, because put things in other things is the new favorite game. You find whatever it is you were missing a week later in the toe of your boot you haven’t worn in two weeks but never got around to putting away.

10. Anything and everything that can be worn around a neck is worn around the neck: purses, jewelery, my sling, the top of the tiny potty, Christian’s underwear, etc.

It is exhausting, and at times frustrating. But I laugh every single day, look at Christian and exclaim, “did you just catch what our daughter did?” Because it is fun to just be a witness.

And now…..a Birth Story

I went into the hospital the Friday of Labor Day weekend sure I was going to have this baby. Sure. And they sent me home…..and I cried. And the same thing at three in the morning on monday. I would wake up with full on contractions and by the time I got to the hospital….nothing. It wasn’t really the pain. Pain I can manage. It was the adreniline signals my body kept sending my brain, like “okay! any day now! any moment! stay ready!” They were so intense Christian and I agreed it was time to stop working. I literally felt like I would have to rush to the hospital at any moment and the thought of doing that from Roswell was just too much. So I called my department head and went to my appointment on Tuesday where I cried, and learned my body had been contracting for a week and was making no progress……same thing next Tuesday. 39 weeks, same as 37 sorry about your discomfort…the baby will come when she is ready…… That weekend was Jill’s birthday and since there was no baby, what the hey, her husband and I threw her a suprise party. Where I had contractions all day and the next day on Jill’s actual birthday.

I was pretty desperate when I walked in to my forty week apointment. If you had told me at 37 weeks I would have contractions on and off for three weeks we would no longer be friends, even facebook friends. Blocked. I had been praying that the Lord would provide the right midwife to see me. My practice has been expanding rapidly and they have added three new midwives in the last couple months. I like them all, but they are all different.

I ended up with Linda, who listened to me cry and told me I was sweet. She asked about my last birth and then checked me. Yes I was in labor….sort of. Head was in position, cervix was ripe, dialated three centimeters……Did I want her to strip my membranes? This is the point a month ago I would have told you my answer would be no! The less messing around you do the better, that baby will come when she is ready, just leave her alone! But your opinion changes when you are miserable, so instead I answered please, do something, anything to get this baby out!

So she did and then I dialated another centimeter and on the way home I started having contractions. Real ones. Enough that I called Christian and put him on notice and Elizabeth convinced me I probably shouldn’t be alone. So I came over to her place and took a huge nap in her bed. I figured if these were not real, this would stall them out.

I woke up still contracting. Enough that Elizabeth let me know I was under no circumstances allowed to drive…she knows me too well I am afraid. So I called Jill who checked out of work early and went and got Christian. Then they picked me up and got our stuff and went to the hospital. Where we discovered no progress had been made but I was in labor. And Anjili (the midwife) wanted to know if I wanted to walk around for a little bit, see where things were and decide from there.

This is the part where I beg her not to send me home. Anything but that, what else could we do? After talking with Anjili, Christian and I took some time to weigh our options. This was perhaps the coolest part. I got all the information from my care giver, and talked it over with my husband, and then I got to make the decision about what I wanted to do. No pressure, no intimidation. Every one was going to support whatever I decided. Really, whether a scheduled C or a waterbirth at 42 weeks, I wish everyone I knew got to be in charge of their birth.

My main concern was avoiding a C-section. Anjili assured me that this was probably not going to happen. And she even told me that if breaking my water didn’t move things along as we expected, then she thought I could handle a low dose of pitocin without an epidural. But I knew that I could make peace with an epidural, and being reassured I would most likely not need a c-section I decided to go ahead and get admitted.

Christian, Jill, and apparently Anjili went downstairs and got Chick-fil-a while I hoped my body made progress.We text messaged everyone we could think of to pray that I wouldn’t need the pitocin. I spent the next hour or so walking in circles with Jill around the labor and delivery floor hoping that things were moving along. When Anjili came to check I was still at four centimeters. She broke my water and encouraged me to do all the things that get gravity on your side, so I lunged and bounced on the birth ball, did squats and paced the floor. There was a marathon of What Not to Wear on, so that kept me busy too.

The next time Anjili checked I was 5 centimeters and the contractions were clearly picking up. She told me she would come back at around 11. At about 10:15 Jill asked me if I wanted to call Anjili. I said I was going to have at least two more contractions, but in the next contraction I told her to call. I wanted in the tub. And I was going to puke. I hate puking.

This labor was definitely more intense than my last. Anjili came in and didn’t bother checking me. I was clearly having this baby, no pitocin needed! I got in the tub and the contractions became more intense. I ooooohhhhhhed as loud as I could. The TV was on and it helped to be able to block out that noise with my noise. It also helped to watch the water vibrate as my sound hit it. I needed visual proof of the power of my noise. A couple times I freaked out, and I said I wanted drugs at least once. Last time I was keeping all of those thoughts I “wasn’t supposed to have” to myself. Not this time; I knew that for me when something is said out loud it has a lot less power than the thought I am hiding in my head. So I went for it. I said what I needed to say, and then I turned to look at each person in the room and every single person said I could do this, my midwife, my sister, my husband, the nurse. So I did it. Also, what choice do you have when your midwife refuses to get you out of the tub and give you the drugs, and isn’t even being firm about it but smiling telling you no!

In the middle of my biggest contraction I was OOOOOOOHHHHHHing away when I looked dead at Christian and said “this kid better look like me!” then went right back to OOOOOHHHHHH and when everyone started laughing I stopped the OOOOOOHHHHH to inform everyone “I wasn’t joking!” Especially at the beginning of her life Juliet resembled her dad. I don’t resent that at all, but I figured this one was my turn.

I had some trouble in the pushing last time. So this time I read that chapter about three times and did all the exercises the book recommended. I declared myself an expert pusher. Even as I was going through contractions I declared myself an expert pusher. I will keep that title thank you very much. It took about four pushes to get Priscilla out. I was getting frustrated because I could feel her go back in every time I quit pushing, but was assured I was making good progress. Then, one more good push and they were flipping me around and handing me my sweet baby girl.

Through out this whole pregnancy I knew this baby was relaxed, nothing seemed to phase her. Heck, I think that was the reason she didn’t come out when I started contracting. She simply was not bothered by them. Every time they checked her heart beat: 140 exactly. Because nothing phases her. Not even birth. We had to tickle her feet to get her to cry just to make sure her lungs were working. Because not even birth bothered her.

Holding Priscilla for the first time was incredible. I had asked the Lord a couple times to show me what she was like. And every time the Lord answered “she is perfect for your family, exactly what I have for you. And when I held her, I understood. This didn’t feel like a new thing, it felt like…..Priscilla, the next piece of my family….like something I didn’t even know was missing had been returned to me.

A Birth Story

DISCLAIMER: I think that birth stories are important. I know they have recently become maybe a little cliche. I also know that I am so so blessed to have a natural non-medicated birth. That while some of it was my planning and desire, ultimately (like so much if motherhood) it was by the grace of God that I could have the experience I had.

On Wednesday, April 28 I was pretty sure my water had broke. Every time I stood up it felt like I had wet my pants. So I googled this (hey, it is what I do….) and found that in some cases this probably meant I had sprung a leak. I called my sisters and my mom to let them know that I thought my water was leaking and I had an appointment that afternoon and I was sure we would have the baby today………Except I didn’t. My midwife checked and whatever was leaking wasn’t my water, so I went back home and had to call everyone to say false alarm. Did you know there is a condition called hydra-rhea where your pregnant body is retaining so much water your body simply can’t take it anymore and it leaks out? Sometimes down your leg while you are standing in a high school library media center causing the librarian media specialist to FREAK OUT? I had an occasional contraction here and there but they would subside.

Friday Christian and I met Jill and Calvin at the Savage pizza. We were trying to find the best pizza in Atlanta, it was good but not the best. After dinner we went back to our house to play wii and hang out. I was having strong enough contractions that I called the midwife. She told me to try to get some sleep. How the heck was I supposed to go to sleep? I should have trusted my ability to sleep through any situation. I did fall asleep as Calvin and Christian continued to play Mario Kart. Occasionally, Christian would check on me. The guys went to sleep at about four in the morning and I woke up at 8 or so.

Jill and Calvin had spent the night expecting that I would want to go to the hospital any minute. Jill and I went for a walk in the hopes that that would really get the contractions going, and they did get stronger as I walked around my neighborhood. We may have broken into the back door of a house for sale around the corner. Then we headed home because I was uncomfortable enough that I thought I should go home. So we walked home. We went in the back door, and there sitting on my tree that shades my deck there was a very large owl.

This owl was not deterred by my sisters very large dog. He looked straight at us, and Jill and I both immediately recognized as something more than an owl. I had been receiving a word from God that I was going to have twins, boy twins. I knew I would come home from the hospital with either 2 boys, or the girl who showed on the ultrasound. The owl reminded me that God was in charge. That He knew what was coming.

After breakfast, Jill and Calvin went to go get some Saturday errands done while we went to the hospital, we would call Jill when it was time. I went into the hospital they put me and Christian in a room and had me fill out my own paperwork. Apparently, I had plenty of time. They didn’t check me or anything, but I apparently was showing very early according to my face. So I filled out the paperwork and waited in the room, Christian was counting through the contractions for me at this point. But it still wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle.

So the nurse came in and she was chatty, and I am chatty, and so we were chatting, till she checked me. She looked at me and asked “Honey, are you sure you are okay?” (She was very southern.) and when I said yeah she responded “Honey, I am so proud of you! You are at 7 centimeters!” I started laughing and made some phone calls. I wanted to let people know I was for sure in labor this time. We also called Jill to tell her to get back to the hospital. At this point I was still trying to chat up the intake nurse (I really, really liked her. And I talk when I am nervous, or excited, or doing something new, or awake.) and she finally had to cut me off, explaining that at seven centimeters I needed to get my midwife and move to an actual delivery room pronto. But not so many rooms were available right this second, and they were hoping for a big one since I was asking a for a tub.

My delivery nurse came in, looked at my face, looked at the contraction charts, didn’t believe the first nurse that I was in fact seven centimeters, and asked if she could check me. She was not as encouraging or as optimistic. I knew immediately I didn’t like her. I wanted a cheerleader and she was more of a pragmatist. What I really wanted was to keep the first nurse. I found out later that I could have asked for another nurse, that apparently you can trade? Who knew. Now you know.

I had been hooked up to a monitor this whole time. The baby has to get some kind of awake and moving reading for a certain amount of time before they will let you get into the water. I wanted in the water. Margaret, my midwife, walked into the room, looked at the test and tossed me some ice water and twenty minutes later I was ready to roll.

I spent the next hour or so slung over the tub squatting on my knees. I was doing really well moaning through the contractions as long as I kept my tones open and low. The second I started panicking was the second my tone would rise. Christian spent a lot of the contractions chanting at me looooooooow loooooooow looooooooow while pointing his finger down. It helped a lot.

When transition came I completely freaked. I felt helpless and that I COULD NOT do this. The fear took over. My midwife flipped me over when she realized that Christian and Jill were unable to talk me down this time. “What are you afraid of?” she asked me. We went through everything, the pain, no, being a mom, no. Well then if you aren’t afraid of anything then you can get rid of the fear. And I did. The other thing that helped  me in transition was the other birth stories that had been shared with me. The first time my cousin Kim was giving birth she got up and started re-packing her bag  when she hit transition. The feeling of “I have to get out of here!” Was so great that she tried to leave, insisting she was not in fact going to have that baby. That was exactly how I felt. And having an anecdote of how someone else felt and reacted reminded me that the feelings I were having were normal. This is what was supposed to happen.

Pushing took longer than  my midwife expected, but about an hour later I felt the shoulders slip out and exclaimed “that’s a baby.” And it was. My baby, the girl I knew that God wanted to give me first. And every single story that you have ever heard about how that moment is magical, beyond anything you could ever experience presents itself as true.

And then your body gives you this awesome euphoria and you don’t sleep for hours because you are too entranced by this perfect thing, that God gave you. You are too busy staring at her.

Maybe I can do this again…..

Whats up with the Peanut?

A lot happens in a month when your kid has only had 15 of them. I read somewhere that there are different types of mom, and you shouldn’t feel terrible if exclaiming of itty-bitty baby toes and waiting in line to hold the youngest member of your extended family isn’t your gig you shouldn’t sweat it. Not everyone is ALL ABOUT BABIES! I seem to fall  into this camp. This summer I feel like the Peanuts personality is really starting to show through and she is so, so funny! She really is quite a ham. If she finds out something will make you laugh or clap for her, get ready to see it repeatedly. Her new tricks include:

-Standing up all on her own. She then proceeds to clap for herself and yell “Ya-ehhh!” If you don’t join the cheering the first time she will cheer louder until you join in.

-Singing the EIEIO part whenever Old MacDonald is sung or played. If she wants to you to sing it because nothing else is going on she will look at you and repeat EIEIO until you figure it out and start filling that farm.

-Using many things as a walker so she can tool around the house but NOT walk. She seems to be adamant about that not walking thing……

-Counting to three, and leaping on top of you at three (her dad taught her this one). If you don’t brace to catch her or hold out your arms she will repeat two. twooooo. TWOOO until you comply

-And the trick I am not a fan of… when things aren’t going her way she pitches quite an impressive fit. She throws herself on the ground and bangs her hands and head on the ground screaming. At church we tried to ignore it so she rolled until she was hitting Christian’s shoe and proceeded in the screaming.

Over all it has just been really fun to be her mom lately. I am beginning to see what the Bible is talking about when it says that God delights in His children. I know all this stuff that the Peanut is doing is developmentally appropriate. But I can’t help but think because she can point at the cheese dip and yell mmmmm MMMMM that my child is not only the cutest thing in all of Atlanta, but also a communication genius.

This girl is PREGNANT

It is 11:21 I am totally beat, everyone else in my house is asleep and I am watching yet another episode of Army Wives on Netflix streaming. Ridiculous…..a little. But I have been having so much trouble sleeping I figure, what the heck. May as well stay awake. I am all of a sudden totally cranky about….well….everything. I am sure the heat doesn’t help. It is stinking hot here in July. No wonder we usually leave. I walked three houses down and back, and couldn’t figure out if I was sweating or if the humidity was forming itself into droplets on my skin. I have eaten an inordinate amount of popsicles and ice treats, and cannot for the life of me find a red white and blue bomb in this city. Seriously. No where. I have been looking since June.

But the worst part is my brain. I feel like I can’t concentrate on anything. At all. I can’t read the things I normally would. Articles that I am really super interested in, halfway through I completely loose interest. And after about a year of reading mommy-blogs non-stop I could about scream before I read more advice about doula’s or poop. Even though I think both of those things are very very important. And I have been guilty of blogging about the latter. So I am aware I am a total hypocrite. But I can’t read anything too dense because I completely flake out. I am trying to follow the Atlanta Public School cheating scandal, and I will literally forget what the heck I am reading when I am half way done with it. That isn’t like me, and yet that has totally been me.

Tomorrow I am having lunch with the women in my department and I am sure they will all be lovely and gracious. I just hope I don’t sound like a complete idiot…..or talk too much “mom talk”…..or shove my foot in my mouth. Okay, the last one is probably inevitable, so not too hard.


Privilege, it seems like the more I avoid writing on something the more I am bombarded with the issue. And privilege is what I have been thinking a lot about lately. It started with the big school move (detailed here). But then I started reflecting on my birth experience to get myself prepped for the next one (post to come soon….I hope) and then there was some sort of public twitter blogger-word-fight about poverty tourism surrounding Heather Armstrong. One of my favorite bloggers, Katie Granju, wrote about the whole thing as did mom-101 and many, many others. And for me it all boils down to privilege, and what responsibility (if any) does privilege come with?

What is privilege? Who decides who is and who isn’t? Is it always about money? I feel like I am stepping into a whole pile of stuff that is too deep for me to surf through. But it is what is going on with me, in my life. So here goes nothing.

I realized that I was resenting my new students for the privilege that they have. Their school is beautiful and well maintained. No graffiti in the bathroom stalls, always toilet paper. 20 different AP possibilities to choose from. Every sport imaginable, (including a quidditch club). And as a teacher if I need or want something for my classroom? I simply attach the need to my syllabus and the students have the resources to get it for me. When I say resources, I don’t just mean money. They have parents who value education and have the time to be supportive, transportation to the store, an office supply store in their neighborhood. All of the things that set the kids up to succeed. And you know what? It isn’t their fault they have all of those things. And it isn’t their fault that my old students didn’t have all of those things.

But mostly God held up a mirror and said, “Really Abby, a 27 year old able bodied white woman in America, raised in a Christian two parent home.You are going to hold people’s privilege against them?” Yeah, rich, I know. I am privileged. As a woman I was born in a place where I didn’t have to live in a fear of my womanhood, it didn’t equal a death sentence or a mandatory marriage at 15. I was entitled to a free education  until I was 18. And the blessings the Lord bestowed on my family growing up……I could write forever and not get everything down. And yet, I was looking at these kids and blaming them. For all that is unjust in this world. Which isn’t fair.

Privilege isn’t fair. Some people are born with more than others. And if your in the more category (and if you are reading this, you probably are) what does that mean? What responsibility do we have? This year I hope to teach my students about people who have less than they do. People without safe homes or clean drinking water. I want to inspire them to use the things they have access to to make someone else’s life better. And I want them to understand that just because you recognize your privilege, doesn’t mean you are saying that you and your parents aren’t working hard. It just means you were also blessed.There is no shame in that. But there needs to be some sort of realization that some people work just as hard as you, harder than you and still come up short.

That is why I respect Heather Armstrong so much. She acknowledges her privilege. Recognizes that in a lot of ways she is just really really lucky. And she is using her position as the most successful blogger on the block to benefit other people. People who otherwise I would never think or hear about. That is what I want to do with my students. Inspire them to use their privilege for good.


I don’t think you can be a disciple without discipline. There are so many awesome examples of disciplined people in my life (my mom’s cup of tea with her Bible and prayer journal open at “her place” at the breakfast table are a firm mental picture in my head.) But, it is something I struggle with, and something I am really struggling with when it comes to writing, I have quite a few projects on my plate right now. Any suggestions? I need help!

Here comes SUMMER!

Summer school ends Tuesday. We are reviewing for our tests and taking finals and then I am DONE (Imagine the sing-song voice my mom always uses when she is excited that I used to think was nerdy. Yeah. I do that.) I am so very grateful that God provided a pretty easy way to store up for maternity leave, yes I sure am. It hasn’t been that bad and I still get all of July off. Plus, I am only going back to school for about a month and a half and then am off until January, so I should have enough time off to not go into the mental ward.

But boy am I chomping at the bit for this all to be over!!!! I have been downloading free chick lit onto my Kindle, coming up with to do lists of how to re-arrange my house. Scheming ways to get to the ocean beach one more time this summer. (Man I really want to take the Peanut….) I am ready to sleep whenever the Peanut sleeps all day if I want to, go to the farmers market and buy whatever I want to eat for that day, make dessert, Christmas shop ( I know it is weird but I like to do it when I have time….not jam it all into December.), wander around IKEA. I want to not tell a teenager to stop talking for a whole month. And I can Tuesday at noon. IT IS SO CLOSE!