Saturday, June 30, 2012

Becoming Mama

The first few days after we brought Laine home from the hospital were not the cooing, cuddling baby moon that I was expecting.  My body was sore and tired.  My mind was fractured from being up for 52 hours straight and nursing every three hours.  Dearest new moms, hear me: the first time is hard.  Heart-breakingly hard.  Nursing hurts.  I would sit and calculate how many more times I would have to nurse Laine if I nursed him for 12 months.  When my milk came roaring in, I cried bitterly.  My feet were still swollen and my pelvis still hurt.  I just wanted my body back.  I had developed a fierce jealousy of my baby, but I felt like I had been thrown into graduate-level courses before I had even finished first grade.  If you came close to my house, I was likely to put my head on your shoulder and cry.  This was tough stuff.  

But, day by day, my miraculous body knit itself back together, and day by day I could feel myself stretching into mama.  I stopped gritting my teeth through every nursing.  I could walk without pain, and, without even noticing, I began to change.  I grew stronger and deeper.  I slept less and remembered less, but I began to feel the unmentionable clenched fist of self begin to relent.  Not only did I love this child, I felt gentle and happy.  

Day upon day creates a life.  We are not mamas the day we conceive.  Sure you protect and nurture your baby, but becoming a mama is something slow and deep.  I want to reach back and hug that tired and guilty woman and tell her you just can't spoil a newborn and that, just like everything else, motherhood is a process.  Nursing is sticky and smelly.  Being newborn-tired will make you stupid.  And hormones could be classified as weapons of mass destruction.  


Love grows up and soon your body adjusts.  You cry less and leak less and eventually the little one smiles at you and the world just fits better.  Of course it isn't easy, but it is good.  I wish I could tell each and every parent-to-be out there to stop looking at gear and reading about parenting and just be.  Life is not about your due date or the perfect birth, it is about messy, imperfect, lovely be-ing.  

And if anyone knows the secret to getting an almost four-year-old to go to bed in his own "ridiculous" bed, I would pay good money for it. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.


You know, if you ask for prayers for strange neurological symptoms, go for your appointment and return saying nothing in a little, rural church, there will be...well I don't know, because it would never happen!

So, when I returned to my community with the joyful, surprising news that I did not have a painful illness or a lifelong disease, we did not wait the typical 12 weeks to share.  We were only about two minutes pregnant when we told everyone, and then began the long, intense wait for Baby Lingle or WoJo.

I bought bigger pants.  I declined a few pairs of XL maternity pants because they were just too big (*snort*).  I bought even bigger pants and began to worry my birthing plan like a dog at a bone.  Remember that I had just graduated from nursing school.  I had definite opinions about how a birth should go.  I just about had to stop talking out loud because even I was getting tired of listening to me spout about pain control and what our bodies are made to do.  I knew the Cesarean rates for all of the hospitals in our area.  I went to a midwifery practice and read thousands of pages of birthing stuff.  I am pretty sure my husband gets a medal for living with me.  You try being pregnant for the first time without getting obsessed.

Beneath the obsession was clearly terror.  There was only one desirable outcome for pregnancy and it involves significant pain one way or another.  But deeper than the terror of labor and delivery was something unmentionable.  As much as I had cried bitterly every time we had failed a pregnancy test, when I heard those words announcing that not only was I not sick, I was going to have a baby, more than a shred of me wasn't joyful.  Some self-centered part of me struggled against giving up my life for this new one.  We had made plans!  We were going to travel!  I was not ready to be a mom.  So, I thought endlessly about my birth plan.  The place, the sound, the flow, the methods filled my mind as motherhood filled my body.  I could tell you ten ways to use a rubber ball to ease labor pain, but I studiously avoided thinking about motherhood.

I bought even bigger pants.  I hired a doula.  I read more books.  I worried.  I. I. I.  My husband began talking a little less.  His solution seemed to be to feed me.  I liked that plan.  I accepted those XL pants. I wrote out a birth plan that made my OB teacher proud (she used it in class).  I waited and neglected that unmentionable voice.  Confrontation is not my most natural talent and I chose to ignore myself rather than face the truth that I was struggling with changes in my life and body.

I forswore pants altogether.  My ribs ached and cracked and people began making startled noises when I walked by.  Twins?  Triplets?  Basketballs?  Watermelon?  Seriously folks...just don't breathe around a woman as pregnant as I apparently was.  There is nothing you can possible say that would be right.  Nothing.  No. Freaking. Thing.

Just when I thought I couldn't stand being pregnant for one more second and my husband couldn't bite off one more sharp retort.  I went into labor.  At 4:50 am on Tuesday morning, September 16th, I felt my first real labor pain.  I was giddy.  The unmentionable voice had been stomped into oblivion by my swollen--everything.  We had a CNM (Certified Nurse Midwife) appointment scheduled for that morning, so we didn't run to the hospital.  I was excited and managing my pain quite well.  We went to the office and I had a silly grin on my face as the midwife came in.  I shyly mentioned that I had been having contractions for several hours, and I was more than a little proud of not being dramatic about it.  Int he weeks leading up to this appointment, I had been refusing to be checked because it was against one of the rules I had (I don't really remember why...something about causing anxiety...hahahahahaha), but since I was actually in labor...I excitedly hopped on the table (ok...I didn't hop) and the CNM, without a single shred of softening, told me I was at 1 cm and 0% effaced.  That means, in terms of running a marathon, I had barely put on my shoes.  I was ordered to sleep and drink.

So, Luke took me to breakfast.  I called my doula who also told me to sleep.  I was not really ok with this advice.  I had been planning this labor for months!  I had a PLAN!  So, I worried and wandered and timed and analyzed.  Luke had a print out sheet and studiously tracked my contractions. 10 minutes apart.  We were in labor.  We were rocking this.  I was impressed by the intensity of the pain, but not overwhelmed.  We ordered Papa John's pizza and rented a movie about traffic.  I don't remember anything but how annoying it was.  At 10 pm, I was 5-7 minutes apart and starting to see the shape of this labor.  The shine was waning.  I was using more coping strategies.  I could feel the tendrils of terror creeping in as the night approached.  This was taking a really long time to happen.  I tried to sleep.  I really did, but I couldn't.  The darkness was thick and scary.  Luke took a nap and I got in the shower.  About 2 am I finally saw some bloody show.  At four I called the CNM and decided to go to the hospital.  After 24 hours of labor, I arrived at the hospital.

I told the security guard I was there for an eye exam.  He laughed very nervously.

By 5:20 am I was in triage.  They checked me a six cm and 90%.  My spirits lifted.  We were making progress.  But I was tired.  By 6 am I was naked and focused.  I had no compunctions about this.  Clothes hurt, so I took them off.  I was having a baby.  I had work to do.  I asked about the joke on my popsicle stick.  I threw up the popsicle.  Luke and I were locked into this work together.  I could see his eyes pulling me forward and warding off the terror.  His hands always on my back or arms so I knew he was there.  I couldn't let him go.  He was base.  Also, I made the nurses nervous because I wouldn't sit still.  Luke warded them off because he knows: I just can't.

At 10:20 am, 29 hours into labor, they broke my water.  I was starting to shake and my legs trembled with the effort.  Have you ever seen an animal give birth for the first time?  Eyes wide like they are on the forward most edge of mind-bending panic?  That was me.  I was tapped out.  My plan did not stretch to this.  I struggled on for a few more hours, but after 32 hours of labor, I sank to my knees at the edge of the bed and pleaded for a rest.  My sweet husband and partner teared up as I asked if he would be disappointed with me if I got some pain control.  Four liters of fluid and one epidural later, I slowly began to face the reality of my plan.  It had become the obsession that helped me avoid my inner conflict.  I had made an idol of my birth plan.

Five hours of rest and pitocin later, I began to push.  Pushing is hard.  It is gritty.  It is easily the most physically demanding thing I have ever done.  I did it for four hours.  At 38 hours of labor, when I began to push, I thought it would be over in 1-2 hours.  By the end of it, I was screaming with effort and had at least one French speaking med student (there for observation only) holding my sweaty rubbery leg.  I remember a horrible mirror (my thought: unspeakable horror), people talking about all the baby's hair (my thought: grab it and pull!) and Luke's eyes.  I still remember how he looked into me and pulled me forward.  We labored forward together.  Hard.  Screaming hard.  Long.

At 11:02 pm after 42 hours of labor, Luther Eugene Lingle IV was born.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My Story

I am packing all my worldly possessions once again.  We are headed 24.5 miles north into the wilds of West Asheville.  We are trading coyotes for jogging strollers and corn fields for coffee shops.  I am both excited about this opportunity to serve God and sad about leaving this home.  I can't even describe how quickly my roots sunk into this rich soil, but I know that with a bit of work and some prayer, it will happen again.

I am reading a great story right now called, A Wise Man's Fear, (don't bother, Mom) and there is a little snippet where one character asks another what he calls himself.  I heard that in my heart.  What do I call myself.  Mostly, to be honest, I think of myself as me.  No name, no function, just me.  I think of the spark that God created when I was still unformed.  That is me.  No name.  Just me.

But names are powerful.  Laine was struggling with feeling shy on the playground around a new face this evening, but after we asked the young girl her name his sullen scowl was edged out and they were soon giggling and chasing freely.

But not before we knew her story.  Her favorite color is blue.  She is a triplet.  She lives in Florida.  She is 12.  She became real when we knew her story.

Why do I write here?  Probably because I have always written my thoughts in some way, but also to remember.  I am a little frustrated by how easily I forget pieces of my own story.  One of those stories I do not want to forget is the births of my children.  They are deep and joyful stories.  They are stories of becoming an adult.  They are stories of me.  My story.  My deep self.  So if you want to read these stories, please know that these are my deepest words.  I hand them to you with the fear of a new mama.  Proud but fierce.

This might take a few days, so be patient.

Beginning is difficult.  When do you become a mama?  I loved my little brothers more maternally than they wanted.  I babysat a lot.  But that isn't really even close.  Like paint by number instead of art.  Luke and I talked about having a baby and like children talk about going to the moon.  We had no idea what we were talking about.  But we began to dream and yearn and...well...try.  For seven months we hoped and worried and wondered and cried.  Each month when my body would start over, we would grieve.

Then my shoulder started to ache.  Slowly, my arm went jangly.  Almost like feeling returning to a "sleeping" foot, but not quite.  More like my nerves were on.  Then I started dropping things and missing chairs when I sat down and falling asleep on any couch I could find.  Being a two week graduate of nursing school I had lots of fun names and prognoses to attach to my worries.  I went to urgent care where the doctor said (in a surprisingly cheerful tone) that I probably either had shingles or MS.


He said we could just wait a couple of weeks to see if I developed a rash.


After a few agonizing, rashless days, Luke and I made a plan.  We would travel.  We would learn languages and read really good books.  We would live fully and wholly.  We were terrified.

Then I broke down and told my mom.  I wanted to be a grown up so badly and be able to tell her the full story, but that never works.  I told her about the dumb doctor and my tingly arm.  Mom and dad scheduled an appointment with a neurologist.

I asked for prayers.  Luke and I went together.  We held hands.  We were nervous.

The neurologist did lots of tests.  Asked some questions.  Sent me for an MRI.  Asked if I had any metal plates or was pregnant.  I said I didn't think so, but figured they should check (the pregnant part...not the metal part), and off I went to the hospital for a routine blood draw before the MRI that would change my life.

Only, they couldn't do the MRI, because my neurologist called and announced, "Congratulations! You're pregnant!  I never get to say that!"

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tiny Milestone

This is my 200th post!  I would like to take the following people who have made this possible:

  1. Al Gore-for obvious reasons.  Clearly, without his ingenuity, I would not be "blogging."
  2. My husband for going to divinity school and thereby gifting me with "causes."
  3. My children for being funny and silly and "writable."
  4. My mom and Jennifer for "reading." (quotations not really necessary here, but I like symmetry)

On equally serious ground, I would like to share a few sound bites from our week:

  • Laine: Mama, you are the princess, and me and Daddy are the bad men.  We are going to squirt you with hot shooters (squirt guns). Me: Oh dear, I am going to run away!  Laine: We are baaaaad mans, we will find you and squirt you.
  • Annabel: Daddy! Pool! Pants! Off!
  • Me: Oliver, don't chew on that cord.
  • Laine: Mama, it's hard when you are a beauty. 
  • Laine: Mama, can we take my books to the new house?   Me: Yes, honey, we have to take everything.   Laine: can we take my Buzz Lightyear toy?    Me: Yeah.  We can't leave anything.  We aren't allowed.   Laine: Can I take my bed?   Me: Yep.   Laine: Can I take my pillow?   Me: (convulsing on the floor) Yes!  We. Have. To. Pack. Everything.   Laine: How about my flip flops?
  • Annabel: PeePee! PeePee! Me: Do you need to go peepee?  Annabel: Yeah!  Me: Ok, let's go!  Annabel: No! You just go! (pointing me out of the bathroom because my 2 year old, 28 lb child can do this)

Also, I found this beautiful book when I was packing my cookbooks.  I would love to endorse it in some way, but I didn't make many of the recipes because Laine and Oliver went straight to table food, and Annabel wouldn't eat anything but yogurt. So, if you or someone you know could use it, make a comment, and I will randomly select a "winner."  

Monday, June 18, 2012

For the love, Mamas!

Here is my disclaimer: I have been a parent for exactly almost four years.

Here is my concern: Mamas are being told (CONSTANTLY) that they are supposed to be playing with (read: entertaining) their children.

Now, I am totally sold on the idea that parents should be attentive to their children.  It hurts my feelings when I am talking to someone's iFace (read: top of head which is the only part not buried in your iGadget), and it hurts a child's feelings to be similarly disregarded.  Certainly, I think that kids need real attention and honest regard.  Respect if you will.  They are people with needs and ideas and thoughts.


Mama, they can play.  Don't play for them!  Don't come up with ideas to entertain them.  STOP with the 101 ways to entertain your kids on hot summer days.  Holy Cows!  Give them a spoon and a pitcher of water and stick them in the shade while you hang out your darn clothes.  Parents are responsible for guiding their children toward being thoughtful, respectful, responsible, healthy people who can think!

If we continue to entertain them, they will lose the ability to entertain themselves, and they will become people who need to be entertained to learn, worship and engage (read: passive, uncreative lumps).


Wait you say!  How about stimulation and enrichment.  Shooooot.  Give them real eye contact when they tell you a story or when you are nursing them, and they will blossom.  When you are neck deep in 101 ways to entertain your bored toddler (read: 101 messes you just made in your own house that literally keep their attention for 3 seconds), you wear yourself out on busy work.  Stop, stop, stop.  Put down that paint.  Sit down on the floor and look at that little changing face, then go back and finish the things that are weighing on you.  Play is the work of the child not the parent.


My kids won't play alone, you say.  Yeah, I know.  My oldest was like that, but now that I can't play for him (read: I have three kids under four) he is getting more and more creative.  I have learned one thing is more important than all of the other stuff: childproofing.  If you don't want things broken, put it away.  If you don't want to pick up all the puzzle pieces, put them up.  If you don't want them to color on the walls, don't leave crayons around.  Make the environment simple and inviting.  Blocks, legos, string (obviously a safe length) and a neutral doll or two will keep them rummaging and thinking and you free to get your stuff done so when, they need some attention, you are ready to be attentive.

Also, movies and TV don't count.  Sure, they are tools to use so you can safely shower two or three times a week, but TV only numbs their little minds.  Sometimes parents need a break, so by all means, numb away, but remember that is what you are doing.

BTW...I totally stole these ideas from John Rosemond...great reading!


Remember, you are doing your best.  We all are.  Read a book to yourself.  Listen to your music.  Remember YOU. ARE. A. PERSON! not a toy...

Now I have to go make sure Laine hasn't destructed my bedroom...

Saturday, June 16, 2012


I am in the process of threshing and winnowing my wheat. This might be a process you could charge for as some kind of therapy. There is ample time for thought as I roll the heads in my hands (not the typical threshing method, but my only recourse for now), and I am pretty sure it is impossible to be grumpy while watching the chaff blow crazily away in the slightest breath of wind. I haven't weighed my harvest yet, but I am going estimate 3 pounds. Not exactly a year's supply, but enough for a loaf.

Luke and I were quietly hand processing our tiny wheat crop yesterday when the corn farmer who plants the neighboring fields rolled by spraying something distinctly non-organic. We both glanced at each other and I said, "you know, you really have to talk to the farmer and realize that he is just trying to do his best, or you could get really snotty about that." What I meant was, even though I think his methods are distinctly wrong, he is still my neighbor in need of love and respect.

Heck my free range snotty chickens eat monoculture corn every day. Sigh. You who is without sin...

Friday, June 15, 2012

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

How can we possibly know him?

I harvested my wheat today.  Do you know how long it takes to grow a crop of wheat?  A really, really, really long time.  Like baby growing long.  I have been waiting for a dry day to tackle my tiny crop for a week or so now.  Those heavy heads started drooping just like sleepy tinies, and I knew it was time.  I took a paper sack and Annabel and we yanked those lovely nodding heads off and tossed them merrily into the bag.

I thought about Jesus and his disciples walking along tugging off those same clusters of grains on the Sabbath.  I imagined how he would have absently rolled the chaff off and popped the nutty kernels into his mouth.  I can almost hear his sigh as the paunchy, self-important Pharisees came hustling over clucking and murmuring.  "It's the Sabbath, Jesus...what do you have to say for yourself?  Surely those disciples of yours know better than to harvest on the Sabbath!  I am sorry you are hungry.  We just can't go rewriting the rules because somebody didn't plan ahead..."

I thought about Ruth gleaning in Boaz's fields.  I saw how it would have taken extra stooping to retrieve the shorter more out-of-the-way grains.  I could imagine how she thought of her lost husband as her fingers began to sting with the roughness of the chaff, and glimpsed her brushed away tears as she toiled lonely and scared.  I thought about how she would have glanced around, surprised, as she began encountering not the low, scrawny, gleaner's heads, but the tall, proud grains that were the offering of a lover.

I thought about Cain and his work.  I thought about grain scattered here and there; some landing happily, some not.

And I thought about the fields "white with the harvest."  Jesus told his disciples that the harvest was plentiful, but the workers were not.  I am no great exegete, but I just wondered as I found my rhythm of harvest, what exactly is ripe?  I have always assumed that it was people ready for the gospel train a comin', but in Matthew 9, Jesus has compassion on the people because they were stressed out not necessarily because they were lost.  In fact, he was talking about the crowds of people who were following him already.  I think.  What if God's people are the harvest?  What if the love that Christ endows us with through grace is the nutty fruit that nourishes the hungry and discomfits the comfortable, and Jesus is asking the disciples to pray that God will send laborers out into the world to teach people to share God's love.  Not that the lost are the harvest waiting for someone to save them, but that the harvest is those who are filled with God's love and ready to be sent out as nourishment.  Seed if you will.  How would that change how you look at the harvest?  Stressed out? Overwhelmed? Chin up!  Jesus might just be having compassion on you and noticing how wonderful and marvelous you are!  Jesus might be thrilled that you are ready to share love and nourishment with a starving world.

Also, harvesting is itchy.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What can I do?

Here is a question that has been circulating in my mind for the last...oh long time.  What can I do when everywhere I go I bring three energetic, young, mildly-destructive children.  Laine has actually come up with a new verb to describe his most common past-time: destructing.  For instance, "Laine, what cha doing?"  "Just destructing this thing." Oh, really?  What was it?"  "I don't know, but I destructed it."

So between changing bumbums, making simple, non-threatening meals that no one eats, trying to do the laundry (largely unsuccessfully), feeding animals, reading stories, cleaning up destructed things, and enforcing civilization, I wonder what I can do.  Of course I know that my mom is out there saying that I  am doing what I should be right now.  I believe that.  With all of my heart.  Then I see the pain and loneliness around me and I wonder.

There are lots of me's out there.  What can we do?  I don't have hours, I don't have money, I don't really have extra arms, but I know that God can use us.  Right where we are.  Especially if we work together.

So, I will be exploring this question here.  You know my passions: growing food, sharing food, inviting others in and I will be pondering what God's call is for me in those areas.

What can I do?  What can you do?  I refuse to be stuck and I refuse to be silent, but I also know that my arms can only hold a little right now.  I have two mites of energy left to offer, and I struggle to not be embarrassed by that.  My two mites.  God, the great, mysterious, triune, God can take those mites and do the miratastic thing where people get fed and clothed and loved.  BUT...I have to hold out my pitiful, embarrassingly inadequate mites.

Just think, all of us together...that's a lot of mites!

Hmmm...maybe I should come up with a different catch phrase!

Here is a pic of my sweet brother and his new wife!  Aren't they elegant!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Ten Great Excuses

Here are ten great excuses for not being present here:

  1. Laine
  2. Annabel
  3. Oliver
  4. My brother married a wonderful girl who could never possibly deserve him (in as much as I think she has led a good life and in no way deserves that type of retribution...haha...kinda...she can't back out now!)
  5. I was sick
  6. It is gardening season
  7. We are buying a house
  8. We are moving
  9. It is light out until 9:15 so the kids stay up later
  10. I am feeling a definite tug to rethink this space.  I am pretty sure I am figuring out what it is not, and I am searching for the answer to what it is.  I am starting a new journey, and I hope that in just a few weeks we can start talking about it.  I promise to continue to keep posting pictures of my kids for the grandparents (since, let's face it...Hi Mom is pretty much how I should start every post), but I am feeling a definite pressure to open my heart's journey to those of you who stop by here.  Details later, but things are happening in this little head.
PS I didn't get a single picture of their wedding.  Don't even ask.  Not one.  

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Whoa, Y'all!

Not going into detail, but last week I was nasty.  I spent my Memorial Day weekend in unholy dedication to my potty.  I kinda felt like being that sick on Pentecost might qualify as blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.  This means I now have a WHOLE pack and play full of folding and a to do that will not get done.


Today is Trinity Sunday and I like to think of today as my annual Sunday School class wherein I tell my eager student that I have no real understanding of the Trinity.

To use Luke's favorite preacher joke: the Trinity: what a mystery.  In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

But today, I had a brain wave.  Not a theological revelation really, just a new way to think about this crazy idea.  First, I must first admit that I have always understood the threeness of God better than the oneness.  Also, I tend to think of God overall as God the Father.  So, clearly I have some conceptual work to do in this area.

Enter, fantasy fiction.  For those of you who do not read fantasy (Mom), one thing you need to understand is that all things have a called name and a true name.  Your true name reveals some fundamental part of yourself and if someone knows your true name they will understand something fundamental about you (this depends on the story).  What seems to be pretty consistent is that one's true name reflects something about one's purpose.  Sometimes characters know their true name, some are looking for it, some do not know it at all, but the name exists beneath the mundane revealing the mysterious.

SO...ready for a major geek-out?!?!  God is the only being who has three true names!  I know!  Each of these names is fully true and fully distinct but yet exist within God.  I wanted to do a happy dance.  Not that this particular revelation will change much about the practicalities of Christian life, but it works for me.  Mystery intact but somehow less abstract.

Now I am going to get a butter beer...