A Work in Progress

It has been a  long time, my friends.This is due to a combination of things, including a promotion at work, moving, writer’s block (see also: procrastination, see also: fear), and teething twins.

You may have noticed that I did deliver on a couple of my promises from this post regarding my website makeover. My “About” page is finally done! Click here to check it out (more insights into this fangirl than any of you should probably have, but I’m pretty proud). Also, I have separated all of my writing-related posts into their own page. I felt they would be more beneficial to those that would be interested in them that way. Other than that, I am currently working on the second draft of my edgy YA, The Art of Falling. You can read about it on my Work in Progress page. Books that have provided loads of hormone-ridden, end-of-the-world drama, and touching teenage intensity can be seen below :

 

As things calm down at the new job, and the babies ease into sleep a little more gently, then I can get back to work (writing work, not work work) a little more earnestly. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I don’t always have to be actively writing to still be a writer. Here are the other, equally important, fun things I’ve been up to in the meantime.

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My twins, preferring to play with all things that are not their toys, like this rocking ottoman

 

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This lovely lady got her hair did
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She doesn’t understand the items on the glass table aren’t just floating in the air

 

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Creating reading nooks…

 

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…and writing crannies–from chaos.

Also, I’m working on a couple of art projects to get my creativity flowing, a painting for my daughters’ room and a gift for my best friend.  But I can’t show you pictures of those, because then I’d have to kill ya. 🙂 (That smiley face is a lot more sinister than I’d intended. I’m leaving it.)

What do you have planned for the summer? Is the word of the day productivity or play? Maybe a combination, eh?

The Stages of Grief

I am excited to announce that four poems of mine, collectively titled “The Stages of Grief in Four Parts”, have recently been published in Taft College’s literary journal, A Sharp Piece of Awesome. I was invited to read at the release party Saturday—my first ever reading—and it was awesome!

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I am in love with this cover.

A little history on these poems. Each one was written probably a year after the preceding one, the first one written the year my father died, 2011. It was only a couple years ago that I realized they somewhat aligned with the actual stages of grief: numbness, anger, depression, and acceptance. After realizing this, I decided they worked better as a unit and also served the memory of my father better together. That A Sharp Piece of Awesome has taken them as a whole means more than I could ever express. And, that my first reading could be of these poems is an honor I will always carry.

I have, below, a video of me reading the first two poems, “Cycles” and “From Regret”.

There are a number of well-written poems, stories, and vignettes in this collection that I had the joy of hearing at the release party, and I can’t wait to dig in! Currently, I do not think there is anywhere to purchase the journal online, but if it pops up anywhere, I will be sure to post a link.

For now, here are the two poems I read.

Cycles 

The stairs leading up to my home
shrink and swell with the seasons that pass,
creaking hesitance at wielding another load.

Father, flickering like a fluorescent about to die,
insisting I undertake the rite of my commencement.
Then gone—toxins corroding his ‘goodbye’.

Promises to take me and my sisters hunting
(he’d always wanted boys)
hanging like banners without wind in the open air.

Studying by lantern light,
sleeping in a cold bath
in his desert town,
he said it was for us:
his dogged pursuit of success
in a powerless house.

I hold his death close now,
like a handful of marbles,
afraid they’ll scatter
like his once cinched

fifty-seven years.
There is nothing left to immortalize
but what’s in me that was once his;
this is it

 

From Regret

It started with Hep C,
but right before
esophageal varices,
cancer on the already failing liver;
so from regret we are delivered.

No need to announce it
or advertise.
I’ll keep on living
the same old life.

No, I don’t feel bad for
smoking this cigarette
or having this drink.
Ignoring consequence
becomes a skill after so long.

I eat. I drink. I copulate. I sleep.
Do I stop one life to mourn the loss of another?
Do I get a tattoo that says ‘Dad,
R.I.P. one-one-eleven, Happy fucking New Year’?

No. I’d rather celebrate
his triumphs or explore his vices
as I enjoy this beer.

But not remembering the sound of his voice
in irritation or jest,
how he looked,
how he smelled after a shave or a cigarette,
therein lies the fear.

 

My Birth Story

It’s a long one.

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Love this photo.

Everyone gets over the labor and delivery part of pregnancy pretty fast, because woah, now you have an actual baby—or two. Pregnancy itself is a terrifying, amazing time, but it culminates in something a woman can never forget and becomes old hat. But the labor and delivery of my twins is still so fresh in my mind, because of the challenge it presented to me, the sense of accomplishment in my struggle, and the reward at the end. It was the best, most exhausting high I’ve ever had. I felt like I could run a marathon. I felt like I could climb Mount Everest when it was over. I also felt like I could sleep for nine months (ironically, now I won’t have an uninterrupted block of sleep for another 18 years Open-mouthed smile). Okay, enough with the Hallmark clichés.

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At the doctor’s office the day before delivery

Here’s a unique beginning to this story: I wasn’t ready for these girls to be born. You always hear about women toward the end of their pregnancy wanting it to be over. ‘I am so done with being pregnant’ or ‘I just want to hold my baby’. But I would have carried them forever if it took that long for them to be ready. And I wasn’t going to feel ready to be a parent until they were my body told me I was. I had a plan, and I felt out to sea anytime it was threatened. Part of that plan was to let my labor start naturally-no induction. Even though I told myself that I needed to be prepared for the unexpected, you can never really prepare for the unexpected, right? Due to some potential medical complications (elevated liver bile levels, my risk throughout the pregnancy for gestational diabetes, and the fact that it was a twin pregnancy), my doctor insisted on induction. And because I had carried them so much farther than twins usually go–39 and a half week gestation — she repeatedly assured me they were ready. My body just needed the extra push to get started, she said. Still, here was my birth plan being thwarted from the outset. So on the morning of September 23rd when I’d checked into the birthing center, I felt nervous and I wanted to (did) cry. I got into my gown that the first (not so nice) nurse directed me to change into, and I laid on the bed to be strapped to all the monitors and machines. I felt horribly vulnerable. Thankfully, my other half was constantly assuring me everything would be okay. Also, the rest of the nurses I saw were nicer.

The first (nice) nurse came in and I started in with my questions. ‘Will I still be able to get up to go to the bathroom?’ ‘Can I walk around while laboring?’ They make it sound like it’s a little inconvenient for them for the patient to go off the monitors.  But I was determined to be able to keep that part of my birth plan. So, I unplugged and walked to the bathroom carrying my trail of wires. I knew laying horizontal in a bed was not conducive to an expedient labor, and if there’s one thing you need to do in pregnancy and labor (and now, I’m learning, in parenthood), it is to listen to your body and your instinct. I was terrified of a 12+ hour labor, specifically because I wasn’t planning on receiving any drugs. I’d done some research and decided the pain-reducing drugs weren’t for me. In some cases, they can slow the labor. The doctors then administer Pitocin to speed things back up, which can make your contractions unnaturally painful and intensify the baby’s experience of them in the birth canal. I wanted to avoid all of these factors. So I got my wish to walk around, freely use the bathroom, and even, surprisingly, eat. You’ll be surprised to know that though our bodies probably labor better with the energy stores food provides, many doctors/nurses/hospitals will deny a laboring woman food in the event that they need to use anesthetics to operate. And with a twin pregnancy, the chances of an emergency c-section skyrocket.

So I got my food, which I was really worried about, because I wanted to be in tip-top condition to deliver these babes. But though I had felt starving moments before, I took a bite of my prepackaged croissant turkey sandwich and felt nauseous. About this time, some contractions began. They were the beginnings and weren’t that intense, but apparently my body was getting ready. I also learned that the Braxton Hicks contractions (false labor contractions that don’t hurt) I’d been having the past four months were now considered labor contractions because I was some centimeters dilated. My doctor knew that I wanted to avoid drugs as much as was reasonable, so she planned to come in and break my bag of waters to see if things started moving along on their own. If not, then I’d be put on a Pitocin drip. Thankfully, just breaking Baby A’s water did the trick. My doctor broke it midmorning and said we should expect to have our girls by that evening or the next day. Thinking we had plenty of time, my husband went home to feed our animals, eat, and get some things (like the birth ball I never used). He returned around noon to me having painful contractions.

I thought I had a high pain tolerance. I figured this would be manageable. After all, my mother had three daughters with no drugs and didn’t even scream. Well, I didn’t scream either, but I was making some pretty unearthly sounds. Something between a growl, moan, and whimper. During the contractions, my husband knew enough to step back and away from me, and offer his hand if I reached for it. He also knew to be quiet. This was pretty important for concentrating on blocking the pain out while trying not to fight the contraction that is actually helping push the baby out. When the contractions passed, he came back to me, massaged my neck and shoulders and gave me pep talks about taking deep breaths when I feel the next one coming on. The ten minutes, which turned to five minutes, and finally three minutes between contractions were some of the most exhausting moments of my life (right up there with the first night after the birth and the first two weeks of the girls’ lives).

The pain of the contractions was nothing compared to the final throes in which my body began sending me signals to bear down, but I couldn’t yet due to not being dilated enough. I had to literally fight my entire body from pushing. This is when I started to seriously think I would need some sort of anesthetic. I was denied by the anesthesiologist, however, because I had never been instructed to stop taking Tylenol through my pregnancy, which put me at risk for hemorrhaging. I’m actually so grateful for this oversight on mine and my doctor’s part, because it kept me from pointlessly derailing from my birth plan. I say pointlessly because things moved very quickly after that. I asked for the Fentanyl as an alternative, which is a drug that helps take the edge off the pain. I had a couple more full blown contractions, and then had one or two that felt like they were just the smallest fraction diminished in intensity. And then I was fully dilated and telling them ‘I have to push’.

They got me to the operating room pretty fast. All twin pregnancies are delivered in OR because of the higher risk for a C-section. I was fortunate enough to have the option of a vaginal delivery. Why would someone opt for this over a scheduled, predictable, controlled operation? Faster recovery time, and the rush of hormones and euphoria that accompanies a natural delivery. And that’s exactly what I got. After 5 hours and 15 minutes of labor (yes, I know how unbelievably lucky I am), I had Baby A at 2:53 PM on September 23rd.

After she emerged, I immediately felt some relief from the pressure and fullness I’d felt pretty intensely for the past couple months of my pregnancy . They laid her outrageously long, warm, plum-tinted body on me and she unfolded her limbs and did a push up right on my chest to look me in the eyes. It was surreal to see this actual little human, this baby that had been more of an abstract idea in my head and heart, and here she was, a separate being. Baby B came out, exactly ten minutes later, much the same way, only she peed on my arm, and then did her push up to look me in the eye with her dark, ethereal stare.

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Moments after delivery

The rest of the day was a haze of navigating our new roles as parents, sleep-deprivation, all-consuming hunger, and awe-struck reverence at the two lives we’d brought into the world. I wanted to tell this story first as the kick-off entry for my mom of multiples journal because this was more my life-altering experience than anyone else’s. All family and friends remember now is the birth of the babies, but I remember the work and the fear and the exhilaration and the limits to which I pushed my body to bring them here. And I don’t want to forget a single moment of it.

Now that you all know more about me than you probably ever bargained for, I hope you’ll continue to read about my pilgrimage in parenthood (times 2!). And I really hope this helped other pregnant women or mothers of multiples out there that were looking for answers, encouragement in your decisions, or reassurance that you’re not alone in this amazing, scary, life-altering time. Please feel free to share your own birth stories, pregnancy concerns, or questions about labor in the comments. Or, anyone with questions is more than welcome to email me at ashley.davis1020[at]gmail[dot]com , and I’ll be more than happy to answer.

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Baby B, left; Baby A, right

Excuses and Updates

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Wow. It’s been a long time since I updated. But I have a really good excuse: Twins! Having a baby–let alone two, at once!–really messes with your sense of time. So apologies for my delay. I have been in the ambiguous and surprisingly fast-moving state of ‘baby time’, which means very little time for oneself in the first few weeks…er, months. No, years. The first 18 years. When the baby either of us is holding at a time sleeps or if the heavens open and both are sleeping, we are torn between addressing our essential needs (food, bathing, relieving bladders), doing something for ourselves like reading a few pages or god, listening to music–I realized how much I missed that in the first couple weeks and promptly added some daily dancing/singing time to my time alone with the babies–or just passing out ourselves. So it might be a little longer than I had anticipated for the feature updates to my blog.

In the meantime, I’ll be working on some posts for a type of diary as a mom of multiples (Look at all these promises I keep making. I have every intention of following through, I just don’t know how long it will take). With this diary, I want to help the other people like me out there who had no idea what they were going to be facing. And hopefully it will give some good laughs to anyone who’s just curious. I have to write something, and since these girls consume most of my hours in a 24 hour period, what better subject matter? Also, I want to remember everything about this time. Thus, followers of my blog will be privy to tales about my twinkies at some vague point in the future. Look, I can’t make any promises on a timeline when I don’t even know when I’ll be able to fold the laundry. 😉

For now, here are links to some of my more productive friends’ blogs. Annie is hosting an ‘All Hallow’s Read’ giveaway and will be posting some deliciously dark poems throughout the month. Carie has some eerie stories about subbing and nine Halloween-related posts from last year (she is kind of a Halloween expert with her birthday being on the very same All Hallow’s Eve).

And from an era where time was more plentiful, here are some of my own fall/October/Halloween-related posts and things:

Thank you, readers, for bearing with me during this time of so little time.

How to Throw a Bookworm Baby Shower

PART_1437411309730_DSC_0007I’m not big on ceremonies that require a whole lot of pomp or tradition just for the sake of tradition (i.e. weddings, baby showers). Yes, even if they are my own. This probably makes me the least sentimental writer out there, but so you have it.

I knew I needed to have a baby shower though because I needed a lot of things for two babies, so I wanted to ensure it reflected me in some way. And however it reflected me needed to be something I planned to pass down to my chil’en. Thus, books became the theme.

The entire idea came together in pieces, but it all turned out pretty good. I think it started with the awesome books my roomies gifted me for my girls at the horror con.

Shark Vs. Train was hilarious and The Monster at the End of This Book was a great addition to any child's book collection. Funny and unique
Shark Vs. Train was hilarious and The Monster at the End of This Book was a unique addition to any child’s book collection.

To throw your own bookworm baby shower, here are the necessary components of such a shindig:

One pregnant chick:

Yes, my belly button is off center. Stare at it too long and you'll turn to stone.
Yes, my belly button is off center. Stare too long and you’ll turn to stone.

Two impending bookworms (or one in most cases):

If you look close, you can see their designations at the top. 'Baby A' and 'Baby B'
‘Baby A’ on the left and ‘Baby B’ on the right

Bookworms galore in the décor:

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We cut a gajillion of these cute little worms out.

Bookmark party favors:

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Got the idea for these badboys from Pinterest

Books (duh):

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We used books underneath the colorful centerpieces my sister made, and the diaper raffle prize was even a book.

People:

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Well…there were a lot more people inside.

To humor your ridiculous love of books that you will either lovingly pass down to the next generation or shove down their throats.

Some of the excellent books we received for the girls in lieu of cards:

  • Animalia by Graeme Base
Probably my favorite illustrated children’s book. Pictures cannot do the book’s detail and thought justice
  • The Time Cat series by Lloyd Alexander
  • The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
  • Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You and On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman
  • Grimm’s Fairy Tales
This is a gorgeous leather bound edition my sister-in-law got us for the girls.
  • Love You Forever by Robert Munsch and Sheila McGraw
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  • Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd
  • The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
  • The Stinky Cheeseman and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith
  • Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

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    This pretty and colorful collection of ‘Baby Lit’ is from a high school best friend
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The illustrations are beautiful and the structure perfect for primer books, specifically counting primers or opposites primers

There you have it, folks. All you need for a bona fide bookworm baby shower.