Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry First Christmas

You are undoubtedly and whole heartedly the most amazing gift we have ever received.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

You are 4 months old today

And mommy is posting on time! YAY!

Oh my goodness, Evelyn. You are 4 months old today. And already turning into a busy, talkative, happy-go-lucky, amazing little person.

You bring us such joy in the littlest ways. I don't think there is a single thing on this earth Daddy WOULDN'T do just to hear you laugh. He loves you so much. Your giggle is probably the best thing you have given us yet :)

I wrote last week about my favorite times with you, snuggly happy mornings. You wake refreshed, ready to great the world and start your day. You happily transition to daycare and have yet to cry when I drop you off (pleaseneverdothatpleaseneverdothat). In fact, you are starting to cry so rarely. It is reserved for VERY hungry or middle of the night when you need to be heard :)

You are still sleeping through the night about 60% of the time. I'll take those odds. But last night, apparently you wanted to see the world 3 whole times at night. Yay for you :P

Things you can do:
Roll from tummy to back
You are SOCLOSE to back to tummy
You can grab toys purposefully and do what they require (pull, shake, etc)
You can put your pacifier in your mouth (it takes a few backwards tries and maybe an angry shout)
You can hold your bottle! And you LOVE doing it. It doesn't last for *very* long, but you are nearly there.

I'm convinced your favorite thing on this earth is your puppy. Just seeing her fills you with giggles. She is starting to realize that you will be fun for her soon.

Aunt Ashley has this great phrase on her blog: Remember this. So I wanted to list a few things to be sure I remember.
1. Your droolydrooly smile
2. The way you pop off of the breast when I start talking and gaze up at me with your little face and then break into a smile
3. Your splashtime shenanegins in the bathtub
4. Your 360 rotation on your playmat

And most of all, how much I love you today, and that it will grow times a billion by tomorrow. You are growing, you are perfect, and you are simply, Ours.

We love you Baby Girl.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Whosah mah baby?

It's like our own special language together. I say those three words in my mommy voice and her eyes light up and her smile falls across her face.

It doesn't take much to make this little girl smile. Her puppy walking by. Her daddy's voice on the phone. A silly phrase, or a bib upturned on her face.

I am amazed by how much she is LEARNING. We play our bib game, and now, she puts the bib there herself. And waits. Because she knows that next, Mommy will flip it down and cry out BOO and she will smile and laugh and the cycle will begin again. She can bring a toy to her, and after a few tries, eventually get it in her mouth. We have started using the simple baby signs around her, and she stares intently at our hands, then looks down at hers, as though she is trying to figure it out but hasn't made the final connection yet.

I was telling my PRIDE students today that her favorite thing to do is hold things. What a life, I quiped, that holding a blanket would be so enjoyable. But she does love to hold things. Our family photos would have taken 20 minutes less time if she hadn't continuously grabbed and pulled the blankets from underneath her.

My favorite time is the morning, when she wakes up on her own, because she is so happy. I sneak in and undo the first part of her swaddle. Her arm immediately stretches to the sky. I pull out the second part and the other arm goes up and her back arches and she strettttttches. I take her to her changing table to begin the diaper change and her little eyes blink open, halfway at first, then all the way. And her smile easily washes across her face as we lock eyes, and I know she is saying, "Why Good Morning, Momma!" She giggles throughout the change--I don't know if she anticpates bathtime each time, or if she truly loves getting dressed after, but its apparently hilarious. Then she snuggles into my breast for breakfast, undoubtedly unleashes an explosive poop, and pops off. Then, she chats endlessly until Daddy comes in to take her for her next change, and that smile, that face-enveloping smile once again dances across her cheeks for him.

She is so smiley. She is so happy and talkative. This little girl is so much fun and I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The power of friendship

Not too long ago, I was struggling--I mean REALLY struggling with lingering thoughts from Evelyn's birth. I couldn't get the feeling of loss out of my head. Not even that the birth didn't go the way I had planned. I could find a way to deal with that. What I hated was that I couldn't remember. I still can't. They had pushed so many drugs into my IV, since I was feeling the surgery, that it knocked me clean out. All I do remember was seeing her in a fog, having no idea where I was, who she was, why Chris was pointing to her, or why I was so cold. Typing it/thinking it still makes me feel queasy, honestly. I don't mind the csection, but I absolutely mind not having that flooding feeling of love and admiration for my baby. Hell, I wish I just knew who she was in that moment. That emotional confliction has been very tough to swallow.

So instead of continuing to suffer alone, I reached out to two friends. Of these two friends, one I have never met.

The one I have never met did everything in her power to reassure me as to the normalcy of my feelings. She too had an unplanned csection. She was aware of the feeling of loss. Just knowing she understood and would take time out of her busy day to talk with me about it started to put a bandaid over my heart. I so appreciate her kindness and love.

The other was my dearest friend Susan, who was at the birth. I confided in her that sometimes I questioned my love for my baby, because I didn't love her right away. I know that not everyone feels that intense love right away--cognizant or not of their surroundings. But I know me. And I know that in my right, undrugged mind, I would have. So I wondered if I didn't love her the way that I should because of it. Susan, in her amazing and thoughtful way, sent me a picture she had taken of me and Evelyn moments after we first met. I don't think I had seen the picture prior to this. And in the accompanying email, she explained that even if I didn't FEEL like I loved her, all she had to do was look at this picture, and look at my face. And all she could see was the pure love of a mother enamoured with her daughter.

That email? Basically changed everything.

Being an OCD control freak, it is difficult when I cannot control situations, emotions, anything. I love control. I thrive on routine. I do not do well with spontaneous situations. All of this comes into play with my guilt regarding Evelyn's birth. I could find ways to deal with that on my own.

But it took these two ladies to remind me, and show me, that even if I was not confident about my emotions, they were normal. And they were clear to observers. And most of all, my baby felt so very loved in the moments following her birth. She was wrapped up in the warmth of her daddy before she was given to me, and she could feel that her mommy loved her. Even if her mommy doesn't quite remember. I am so very thankful to have these wonderful people in my life to remind me when I need reminding and love me when I need love.

Monday, November 7, 2011

You are 3 months old!

First of all, you might notice a lack of update from 2 months. Take that as a sign that the window between 1 and 3 months was not your shining moment. But things are much better now :)

So, my darling baby girl, you are 3 months old.

Things you love:
YOURDADDY. Just hearing his voice makes you smile. Mommy is a little (A TON) jealous.
Your nightnight blanket.
Eating. I don't forsee that every changing.
Your friend-light (the chandalier above the changing table)
The bib game with mommy (think "peek-a-boo")
SLEEPING (on most nights).
Did I say eating?

Things you are not too fond of:
The snot sucker (and you are suffering from your first cold)
Waking up in the morning
Getting out of the bath (you would stay in for hours)

Things you can do:
Roll from tummy to back
Hold your head up with all control
Reach for and hold onto toys
Follow anything with your eyes (your puppy and kitty are your favorite to watch)
Sleep through the night

You are growing and changing every single day. We are amazed at how much you can do. You are starting to get your own little personality, and it is a LOUD one :) You love to make noise, splash around, and be a busy girl. I don't think there will ever be a dull moment with you.

We love you so much, Evelyn, and can't wait to see what the next month will bring!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Tell Me, Have You Ever Wanted Someone So Bad It Hurts?

Dearest Matthew:

Monday is your birthday.
So first of all, happy birthday, Cowboy.

There is so much I want to say to you. There are so many words in my heart for you that it is beyond capacity--it is about to burst at the seams. I can't even express how badly I wish I could say them to you, snuggling your sweet face at your first birthday party. That's what I wish I could do.

Matthew, in the year since you were born, a lot has happened. Some things have changed. Some things never change.

I know you are so proud of your mommy, so I don't have to *tell* you to be proud of her. But you should be. Your mommy is simply one of the greatest people I have ever known. She is strong and she is loving and she is so full of grace and kindness.

In the year since you were born, your mommy and daddy have been working hard to impact the lives of children in need of their love. They are eager and willing to take on what others view as a challenge. They cannot wait to carry on the spirit of you and your sister in the name of love for these children.

In the year since you were born, I got pregnant and had a baby girl. There are times, Matthew, when she laughs in her sleep and I would swear, hand on a Bible, that she's dreaming of playing with you and your sister. I felt the two of you SO strong with me after my operation. When your mommy came in and cried and hugged me and held me, I whispered as such to her. You were with us, watching over my baby girl and me and your mommy. It was so special and meaningful to have your mommy with us. I know how important Evelyn is to her, and I know without a doubt that you and Katie are keeping a close eye on her for us.

In the year since you were born, there has been a lot of tears. There have been moments of unbearable pain. There were times when Mommy and me held each other in restaurants and cried, imagining my Papa holding you and rocking you in his arms. There were days where all I could think of was you.

But, Matthew, in the year since you were born, there has been unbelievable joy. There have been vacations and visits. There have been true friendships. Oh, Matthew, there has been laughter. There has been "that's what she said," and beach photos and shopping trips and backrubs and cuddles and so, so much love.

If I could do two things differently, having known how things would turn out, it would be this. One, I would have held your mommy tighter, rubbed her belly a little more, and told you I loved you more through her tummy. Two, I would have been by her side in the hospital, the way she was for me. But these things, I cannot change.

What I can do is continue living my life in honor of your sister and you. I can hold Evelyn close and know how lucky I am to have her. I can remind myself, in moments of anger or desperation, that she is a blessing. I can continue to share her love with your mommy, and be sure that I am the best possible friend I can be. Because she deserves it, doesn't she? You are so lucky to have such an amazing mommy. And everyone who has her in their lives is equally as lucky.

Matthew, this year without you has hurt. I miss you. I miss the 23 weeks of absolute joy you brought your mommy. I miss you in ways I can hardly understand, because I didn't get to hold you or love you or kiss you, the way I see your mommy do to MY baby. And I miss that. I hate that I never got that chance--to show you how much I love you. But this year has taught me so much. It has given me hope and guidance. It has kept me strong in times of sadness. You, Matthew, have done that. Because we miss you and it hurts. But that's not all. We miss you and it's beautiful. We miss you and are full of your love. We miss you and it's overwhelmingly amazing, because to MISS you, we had to have HAD you. And no matter how short or how long it lasted, we had you, Matthew. And we are all better for it.

I don't really know how to end this, and I don't want to end it. In a way, I never do. I carry you with me everywhere I go. You and Katie have changed my heart in such a magnificent way. So instead of ending it, I will turn to what I often do, and that is a song. A song that spoke to me tonight and reminded me of you. I love you, Matthew, and I miss you every day. Thank you for all you have given me.

Tell me have you ever wanted
Someone so much it hurts?

Your lips keep trying to speak
But you just can’t find the words

Well I had this dream once;
I held it in my hands

She was the purest beauty
But not the common kind

She had a way about her
That made you feel alive

And for a moment
You made the world stand still

Yeah we owned the night

Monday, September 12, 2011

You are one month old

I am running a little behind, and Evelyn is actually 5 weeks old now, but oh well.

Things you love:
~FOOD (your 11 lb weight demonstrates that easily, and I'm convinced your first social smile will be at my boob)
~Your Nuk bottle from daddy
~The swing and the bouncer
~The car! You fall right asleep or happily "talk" to yourself
~The bath. You have taken to cooing at the pretty baby in the mirror, who always seems to take a bath at the SAME TIME as you :)
~The moby wrap!

Things you hate:
~Being hungry
~Being wet (a new development, you used to not really care)
~The gas bubbles in your tummy

Things you can do:
~Purposefully move your arms (the purpose is usually added emphasis whilest screaming)
~Hold your head up on your own
~Push off the floor during tummytime
~Roll from back to side, then you try REALLY hard to get to your tummy but you're still stuck there
~Respond and turn to loud noises
~Easily go from bottle to boob with no issues
~SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT (5 hours is the definition of STTN for newborns. We usually get 5, sometimes 6-8).

Every day, you get bigger, stronger, and more alert. You have started laughing in your sleep. We can't wait until it's for us. Your daddy loves you so much, and can't get enough of you. I am amazed by how much you have changed already.

You are teaching me to be a better person, mainly by being more patient and not being so obsessive about control. But work with me, baby. Momma is a work in progress, and I'm still learning that my house won't be as clean, or that I have to take a shower on your timetable and not my own. I know that together, we can do it :)

Friday, August 19, 2011

My amazing husband: In scenes

Scene one:
(Baby has been fussy and fighting sleep all day. has been eating in spurts and I can barely put her down. At 5:30 pm, she is FINALLY asleep on my chest)
Husband: Give her to me. Take a nap. Now.

*swoon* 1.5 hour nap.

Scene two:
(Husband has made delicious dinner and I am trying to scarf it down in case she gets hungry. Of course, she ends up screaming. Husband makes executive decision to take her upstairs and give her a bath himself. I can eat in peace AND spend some time cleaning the kitchen--which I enjoy doing)

*swoon* Take charge attitude Yayyyy

Scene three:
(I walk upstairs after eating and cleaning to see a sign outside the Master bedroom that says "No Mommies Allowed :)" I ask if I can come in now. Husband is dressing and swaddling the baby. Playing James Taylor on his ipod. Spends 4 minutes dancing and singing "How Sweet it is to be Loved By You." Baby gazes contentedly at her daddy the entire time).

*swoon and cue tears*

****edited to add scene four:*******
(Husband gets home from work. Takes baby upstairs and tells me to do whatever I want for an hour. I eat lunch, watch the Office, tidy the living room and swiffer the floors. All with no one at my boob!)

*swoon* Mommytime.

This little girl won the Daddy jackpot for sure.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Things you don't expect to be so hard.

I didn't expect labor to be so hard, but then again, I wasn't expecting to endure back labor due to a sunny side up baby. So I tried to chalk that one up to bad luck. And being naive ;)

But what's really hard? Breastfeeding.

Call me crazy, but I had this slightly romantic notion in my head about what it would be like to nourish my baby. How empowering it must feel! Only I can give her what she truly needs! And our hospital is so very pro-bfing that formula isn't even mentioned or discussed (although I assume they will provide it). The first 6 months, no question. That's all I heard the 3 days in the hospital. And I didn't even care because I was planning on going until she weans, whether that be 9 months or 19.

But for something so natural--so innate--breastfeeding is hard.

And there are multiple things that are hard about it. At first, it's latch. Even before you realize it's bad, you have blisters and blood. Thankfully, they fade quickly. My very pro bfing hospital has amazing resources, and a quick visit from the head nurse took care of all that.

Then, it's waiting for the real milk to come in. Which, if you're like me, is a slow process. I got a little bit, just enough to keep her from screaming consistently, but not enough to give her more than 45 minutes of sleep at a time. And you feel like already you're failing at this incredible task of feeding your child. Then, BOOM it comes in and you can't get rid of it fast enough and you have at least 24 hours of engorgement. But, just like the other frustrations, that fades quickly too.

At nearly 2 weeks old, we have settled into a pretty good routine. Evelyn likes a variety of holds, has a great latch, and sucks like a champ. What she also does? Clamp down. I haven't yet figured out how to manage that one. Emailed the Lc today to get some tips. But overall, she eats well, she sleeps, and she has plenty of wet and poopy diapers.

So what remains hard? It's difficult to explain. While I have lived the romantic ideal that I originally anticipated--moments of gazing into my baby's eyes as she nurses and tightly grips my pinky finger--it's not always like that. Even when it's not difficult, there's something difficult in having a baby attached to you nearly half the day. You can't go to the bathroom when you want to (unless you want to listen to the screaming), you can't hand her off to your husband when you want to shower (you have to wait until she's asleep, which, granted, doesn't take forever, but still). My husband has gone to play basketball for 3 hours and down to the hot tub on his whimsy (only after asking of course). I can't even think about a pedicure yet because even if I feed her before I go, I would feel terrible for her and my husband if it wasn't enough and she spent the hour screaming. I don't want her to be hungry! It's also conflicting because I don't want to leave her. I want to feed her and I want her to know that I always will. But there's this tiny part of you that feels a little held back.

And saying all that makes one feel quite selfish. After all, my job, as they said at the hospital, for the next month is to love her and feed her. And I am doing that. But I am also a type A planner who gets bored with too much downtime. I love cleaning and I never thought I'd enjoy dusting as much as I did yesterday when I got 20 minutes to clean. It was fantastic. So while I am happy to do this for her, I tihnk I'm just a little...bored?

Two weeks in, this is just simple adjustment. I know that. But it's funny. People tell you before you bf that it will be so rewarding and so hard. You just don't really know what that means until you are living it. It's magical. And it's difficult. just like all things parenting.

General Evie updates:
We have started our CDs. She is indifferent to wet diapers so we have to keep an eye on them. She still hates being changed though.

Her cord is THISCLOSE to falling off. Probably by teh end of the week.

She has this hilarious "fall asleep" ritual that she goes through. I think she dreams of being fed. It starts with heavy panting breathing. Then there is a sleep smile. Then she smacks her lips and sucks and swallows and squeaks. Then she throws her arms and legs out. Rinse repeat a few times before she falls into deep sleep. she goes through the same ritual every night, swaddled or unswaddled. It's hilarious.

She officially needs a bib on to nurse because she is a messymilkface.

Her eyes remain blue for now!

She got to video chat with Nana and Papa on Monday!

She loves to stare at her kitty (he's black, good contrast).

She slept for 4 straight hours last night!!!

She's the cutest and most amazing baby ever in the whole world. Fact.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Little Bird updates

Since the birth story was pretty heavy, I wanted to make sure everyone knew I was ok and loving and thriving with my daughter.
I have a daughter.
It's fun to say outloud.

Here is some general information about our beautiful little bird.
She originally lost 10% of her birth weight, but at her first pedi appt today, she has gained 5% of it back! She is currently 7lbs 15 ounces and 21.2 inches long.

Here she is on the day we brought her home. Since being home, we had one very rough night of cluster feeding and zero sleep. Both Chris and I were quite worried, but I think my milk just hadn't come in and she wasn't satisfied. The last 2 nights have been great, as she gets into 2-3 hour stretches of sleep, which is MORE than enough for me (i had only been sleeping an hour at a time in the last month of pregnancy). We know that she has no schedule and everything can change at any point. But she's been very kind to us the last few nights.

*She hates diaper changes, being naked, spongebaths and being cold (all standard nb behavior I think)
*She LOVES being dressed and warm.
*She can ninja her way out of any swaddle
*She keeps her legs crossed and pulled in at almost all times. The same way momma sits
*She loves to fold herself into a pretzel
*She will stare at Daddy for hours
*She is a champion burper and pooper, and impressed the lactation consultant with both today

Everything about her is just amazing. Chris is such an amazing father. Nothing scares him, and he is all in for every situation. I love him so much for taking good care of me and her.

I am doing ok--some hours are less painful than others. I am trying to do a little walking every day. Today, I cleaned the kitchen up and it felt pretty ok.

Well, that's it so far. We love her so much.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Evelyn Grace's Birth Story

On Tuesday, August 2nd, at 40 weeks 1 day, my Midwife wanted me to be monitored for possible induction. We had an agreement that if everything looked good with the baby and me, we would continue to wait and see if she came on her own time. That morning, I was dilated nearly to a 3 and 80% effaced. The baby looked great and my bi-weekly NSTs had looked wonderful, so we rescheduled the induction for Sunday the 7th, and left hoping that Evelyn would come on her own before then.

I had already been losing parts of my mucous plug, and starting on Wednesday the 3rd, I was seeing a lot of bloody show. I know that could also mean nothing, but was hopeful that things would get moving, as I was having random contractions here and there. On Thursday, they started to become more regular, but not painful. I was aware of them, and could even time them, but they weren’t hurting so I knew they were likely unproductive. Chris and I spent the day together just being happy; I did a Miles circuit to hopefully move things along and went to sleep. However, it was difficult to sleep throughout the night, as I noticed the contractions becoming more intense. I got maybe 3 hours of sleep, and at 5, I woke Chris up because he was adamant about being awake if I was feeling anything. We tried timing them, but they were between 4 and 7 minutes apart with no pattern building, but they were starting to hurt more. I also had a stomachache and was using the potty an awful lot. I ate half an organic waffle while trying to prepare final items for the hospital bag and such. I texted Susan at around 7, as it was clear the contractions were increasing, even if a timeable pattern was still not emerging. I got in the shower, which was HEAVENLY. I had tried to take a bath but it didn’t do much (I think my tub was too shallow), and tried to have a milkshake to help with the intense heartburn I had. Susan got to the house around quarter to 9. Chris had been packing the car and eating his breakfast, and he was ready to head to the hospital at any moment. I took one more shower, just because it felt great, and we left for Kaiser at 10. I could no longer talk through the contractions.

We pulled up to the hospital at about 10:20. I was in a lot of pain through the last few minutes parking, so we gave up and did valet. It was a good idea too because I stepped out of the car, grabbed my purse and as we walked in, my water broke. It wasn’t a huge gush onto the floor, but I felt it for sure. I told Chris I needed to go to the bathroom before we went to L and D, and it was a good idea because the pad I had put on was sopppppping wet. Susan met us outside the elevators and we went up to L and D. We picked the worst day ever, apparently, because it was a very busy day there. They set us up in the monitoring room and asked me to lie down, but I really wanted to stand. Laying down hurt at the time. With my water broken, the contractions got more intense, and started erratically coming as quickly as 1 minute apart. Susan did excellent at timing them and rubbing my back, while I hung from Chris and breathed through the more intense ones. They seemed too intense for this stage of labor, and we know why now but didn’t then. We were in the monitoring room for what felt like forever. Finally, they took us over to a birthing room. I was wearing one of the gigantic pads because water was still leaking, so we went to the bathroom to get me undressed. Chris was helping to pull off my undies when I felt the urge to puke. There was a sink right above his head and all I could think was “OMG I hope I do not puke on my husband’s head.” Thankfully, I hit the sink, and puked for a good 4 minutes, which also pushed out a lot more of my water. At this point, I didn’t want to stand anymore, I wanted to lay flat. I also didn’t want to talk to Chris or Susan, who were asking me all the right questions and trying to help all they could. I was checked and was at a 5 and nearly 90% effaced. We were probably having this baby today!

But the contractions hurt. Very bad. And I didn’t feel a lot of relief in between the irregular rushes, either. So at around 2pm, we were discussing possible options with the midwife, and I hadn’t progressed past 5. I still wanted to avoid the epidural, especially only being at a 5, but I needed something. We decided on Nubian, and set me up with an IV. A huge part of our birth plan was the ability for me to move around, but I found that I didn’t want to at ALL. Standing up REALLY really hurt, and it felt like my entire pelvic region was on fire. So I decided the IV wasn’t a big factor. Nubian was nice—it helped me get through the contractions more but it made me loopy and tired. It also didn’t last that long. I got a second dose which didn’t do nearly anything. But there was good news. I was at a 7!

With the Nubian wearing off, and seeing my progression, around 4:30pm, Chris, Susan and I were discussing the epidural. I still found myself unwilling to move. I was sad because the yoga birth classes we had taken were so wonderful, but I just couldn’t find relief in movement. I was very afraid of having an epidural, but I was starting to feel weak and tired, and I worried that if I kept up without it, I wouldn’t have enough gas in the tank to finish. So, I decided to get it. And it was a GREAT decision. I was happy and pain-free, and even better, progressing. Within 2 hours, I was dilated to a 9, and only had a slight ½ inch left of cervix on one side. They flipped me to that side to hopefully get that part to dilate. At 7:30 pm, we sent messages to our family saying that we hoped to be pushing soon.

However, my contractions never really got into a good pattern at all. That last .5 of cervix on one side, instead of dilating, slid over to the other side. We knew we were in for a long haul because the midwife was worried that pushing would damage the cervix at this point still. We watched DVDs, played games and chatted, waiting for that last bit to fix itself. We were checked a few more times, but it still wasn’t doing what they’d like, and with the irregular contractions, the waiting continued. Finally, at around 4 am, the midwife said it was thin enough that she thought we could push through it. So the pushing started.

The first hour of pushing was really just about getting through the last bit of my cervix, which we did. We were all SO excited and thought for sure this was it. Every obstacle was gone and now we could push little Evelyn into the world. So the real pushing began at 5:30.

I know for a fact that I pushed with everything I had every single push. Chris was SUCH a fantastic coach. I get choked up just thinking of it. He was calm but firm, gentle but directing. With each of the 3 pushes per contraction, he would help me get the breathing right. I would look in his eyes and we would breathe in together, then I would close my eyes and push until 10, and do it again. The moment our eyes would meet, I would feel so much power and strength and I just KNEW I could do this. Susan was so supportive and confident, cheering me on, telling me when she could see the top of Evie’s head, affirming everything I was doing. I could not have asked for a more perfect birth team. I am so thankful for the both of them. However, the pushes turned into hours. At around 7, the midwife suggested we add just a little pitocin to my IV to help regulate the contractions. They knew that I was very against pitocin in my birth plan, but my main fear of it was related to induction, and we were well past that point. So we agreed. And it worked. My contractions became very regular for the first time all day/night. So we pushed. We pushed hard and we made progress and everyone could see her head it was right there! But at 8:30, it still hadn’t come out. And no one knew why. So the midwife suggested turning off my epi. She seemed to think I wasn’t pushing with my all. Looking back, this was a bad decision that I made. Chris wasn’t confident in the choice. AS soon as the epi was turned off, he said my pushes got weaker. I was exhausted, hungry, and now in pain and no longer as confident. The midwife gave us an hour. Telling me that was probably the worst idea ever, because after every push that did nothing, I would stare at the clock and knew I only had 50 minutes. Or 45. It was not good.

At 9:30, an OB, midwife, and midwife in training all came in. I knew that was not a good sign. Tears were in my eyes already. It was hard to focus because I was feeling contractions. Everything I wanted was slipping away. Susan and Chris looked emotional too. The OB, Dr. Johns. Was fantastic. I mean, really. He was soft spoken and gentle. He commended me on everything I had done over and over. He explained where we were at—that normally, after 12 hours of labor with broken water, there is a c-section, but they wanted to give me a chance since I had such good progression. Normally, after 2 hours of pushing, they are moving to other options, but they wanted to give me a chance. After 24 hours of broken water and nearly 4 hours of pushing…this wasn’t going anywhere. But, he said, he would not give me a directive. This was my birth and one I had clearly worked so hard at. So he couldn’t tell me to stop pushing and wheel me to OR. But he was a doctor, and had been for 20 years, and he loved natural birth and advocated whenever he could, and he did not see this working out. All of the doctors left and let the three of us talk. Or rather, cry.

All three of us were in tears. No one wanted it to end this way. Chris was devastated for the loss of what I wanted, but he was honest, and told me about the change in my pushes. We were all worried for Evelyn at this point. They both reassured me over and over that it wasn’t my fault, even though I felt otherwise. Susan told me some things about c-sections, and I asked her a few questions about them. She left me and Chris alone for a few minutes. He told me how proud he was of me and that I was his hero and that we all knew this had to be done. He talked to Dr. Johns to make sure to get a VBAC friendly stitch. We talked with the nurses about getting Evelyn skin-to-skin time with Chris instead of me immediately. This meant that he would only be in the OR until she was born, and then I would be alone, so the anesthesiologist would give me some extra meds to sleep through it if I could. But I was feeling contractions still, and was getting weepier, so off we went. The decision was made that I would just keep the epidural and not get a spinal because it had worked pretty well. Bad decision.

This is where the story may not be for the faint of heart. My C-section experience was rare, and few people will have ever felt what I felt. So you may not want to read it and see what I felt. Just understand that it is rare.

They took me into the OR and got me prepped. I had never felt so exposed. The anesthesiologist was fantastic, reassuring me along the way, stroking my hair, everything. I was freezing, and shaking and convulsing. Dr. Johns was telling me what would happen, but it was hard to focus. They hooked my epi back up, and started pinching parts of me. They said I should be entirely numb and just feel pressure like with my contractions. But that wasn’t the case. I felt them poking me, I could feel everything on my right side. Dr. Johns was concerned, so they injected more medication into me. I could still feel things. They did more, and it was mostly numb. Chris came in and the surgery began. I remember telling him I loved him but felt so drugged. I wasn’t aware of things that were happening.

Until they cut.

And I felt it on my right side.

You see, I have scoliosis. It is not severe at all; in fact, quite mild. But, any curve in the spine can cause a patchy block in these things. Throughout the day, I could feel my left leg, so I had to up the epi once or twice. It wasn’t hurting then, but I could feel the contraction on that side more intensely. But I didn’t think anything of it. I also didn’t think to talk about the scoli, because, well, I hadn’t planned on a lot of this anyway. The anesthesiologist would later tell me that even if they had given me a spinal, I probably would have ended up feeling something. It is rare. It happens to few people. It is a trauma that may never leave me.

Regardless, I felt things. I felt them cut me and move things around. I remember shouting, or screaming. Chris swears I wasn’t, so maybe I just felt like I was being louder than I was. I asked what was happening because I could feel it. Everyone rushed to add more medication to my epidural. I remember Dr. Johns saying he was going to get the baby now. It felt like my stomach was as big as a couch. I felt a LOT of tugging, which caused me to scream that they were hurting her. I heard Dr. Johns saying: “OH Alyssa. She’s sunnyside up. You did everything you possibly could have.”(This explained why my pain was SO intense during early labor. I couldn’t identify the back labor she was causing, but that is what happened.) More tugging and pulling. I don’t remember her crying for the first time, which breaks my heart. I don’t remember seeing her for the first time, which smashes the pieces. I have pictures of both instances. Chris tells me I kissed her. He also saw me start to convulse and shake and had his own breakdown and trauma over that. They weighed her, and took her and Chris out of the room to do the skin to skin.

The rest I remember in flashes. More intense pulling and pain. It felt like my skin was in two distinct pieces and were trying to be pulled together to meet like rubber bands. But it wasn’t just pressure, it was pain. I remember begging them to stop. And then it goes blank.

I don’t remember waking up, I just remember being awake. And being confused. And Chris trying to show me our baby girl but I didn’t even know who she was or why I was where I was. I didn’t feel the rush of love that people describe sometimes, because I didn’t know who I was looking at. Chris talked to me gently about what had happened, how big she was, told me about his skin to skin and how much he loved it. He showed me pictures and I started crying, so upset that I had missed seeing the moment he became a daddy. He kept thanking me for giving him that special bonding time with her. He laughed and told me about how she started rooting around on his chest, and felt bad that she probably ended up tasting his chest hair. They brought her to me and put her on my chest, where she immediately started nursing. I was nearly out of the drug stupor, but still didn’t realize everything that was going on. Chris asked me if he could have Susan come in now, and I quickly said yes.
I can’t remember everything Susan said, but I remember her emotion and her tears and her joy. I am so thankful for the pictures we have of her first seeing Evelyn and comforting me. They are great photos. I remember her saying she was proud of me.

When we got to our maternity ward room, we handed Evie to Susan. She said, “I didn’t know it was possible to love someone this much who wasn’t family.” Chris and I both agreed that it was one of the more special moments of our experience, because Susan IS our family now. We settled into the room for the next few days. We stayed until the afternoon of our anniversary. All the nurses and everyone kept saying how great I was doing, but I remained skeptical until a late-night breakdown and a great talking to from Chris. Then, we took our beautiful bird home to her house.

I can’t lie. I read parts of this and I just hate it. I hate that its reality and it’s what I experienced. But it’s so conflicting, because I know that Evelyn is what matters. I am so lucky and blessed to have her. I know that I can’t control how she got here. I was very at peace and Zen in the days I was overdue, accepting that however she had to get here was how she had to get here. But I wish some things were different. I wish I could have seen the joy on my husband’s face as he held my daughter. I wish I would have known who she was when I first saw her. I wish I didn’t see these flashes of myself screaming and begging for the pulling to stop in a scary and cold room where no one was there to hold my hand. I am ok with knowing that I couldn’t have things the way I wanted. I am even ok with accepting it wasn’t my fault and I did everything I could do. But those things left little holes in my heart, and I don’t know if they will ever quite fill in.

When I look at her, I know without a doubt I’d do it a million times again to have her here. I was so lucky to have such an amazingly strong husband by my side. I can’t even begin to describe how thankful I am to have had Susan with us, both for me and for Chris when he needed her. She gave us strength and excitement and courage and I don’t know how things would have been without her. The end result is a beautiful baby girl, with blue eyes that belong to the milkman, strong legs and arms that refused to be swaddled. She hates having her diaper changed but loves to stare at her daddy. She had her days and nights confused, but we are working on it, and she gave us 7 hours of sleep yesterday. She is quite literally perfect, and I thank God and every other entity up there for her, and for my perfect family.

Monday, August 1, 2011

40 weeks

Total weight gain: I think we will finish at about 27 lbs.
Maternity clothes? Basically pajamas these days
Sleep: It's ok
Best moment this week: Every moment is the best moment!
Gender: Girl.
Craving: Sour and lemon still.
Movement: She never sits still. That slowing down thing? Not happening.
Labor Signs: She has dropped, I have lost mucous plug and I'm having lots of contractions. They just aren't regular.
Belly Button in or out? The in is holding on!
What I miss: I want sushi.
What I am looking forward to: holding my baby!
Milestones: YAY for 40 weeks!

Monday, July 25, 2011

39 weeks!

A comparison. Last week to this week. I don't think I have dropped.

Total weight gain: I did see that 2. So we are holding at 25 lbs total.
Maternity clothes? Indeedy.
Sleep: Not awful.
Best moment this week: A fantastic weekend with Chris
Gender: Girl.
Craving: Lemon. Sour. Salami.
Movement: She never sits still. That slowing down thing? Not happening.
Labor Signs: A few contractions here and there. She is dropping, at least, I thought so but it doesn't look like it huh
Belly Button in or out? The in is holding on!
What I miss: My nose has been stuffy ALL week.
What I am looking forward to: EDD?
Milestones: Still pregnant! :)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

My dearest daughter:

I cannot believe it is nearly a week until your estimated arrival date. I do not know what day your birthday will be, but we are getting so close.

Your daddy is so very excited to have you in his arms soon. He is tired of me "hogging" you, and ready to get some quality time with his perfect little girl. He is so in love with you already, little one. I cannot wait to see the moment when he becomes your daddy. My heart is already so full with just the thought. He is going to be the best daddy ever.

In the last few weeks, we have been showered in love. So many people love you, my dear. I giggle to think how spoiled you might be; but then again, too much love never hurt anyone. Mommy is so lucky to have found such amazing friends who are so willing to make her feel special and loved at all times. I cannot wait for you to meet each and every one of them--starting with Aunt Susan, who you will meet immediately!

We have nearly everything ready for you. We need to get the infant seat out of the box and put it in the car, and put the wall decal up on the wall. But that's about it! Hopefully we will do that tomorrow. I don't want to rush to have a seat for you!

Even though I am so excited for your arrival, dearest one, I am sad tonight because of the unfairness in our world. One of your dear aunties, who will love you and kiss you when she has the first chance, is suffering a loss that she should not have to. It breaks my heart that she has to endure even a moment of pain, when she so richly deserves to have her own baby in her arms. If you could, my little one, send up some of your love to little Sprout, who is undoubtedly taken care of by Katie and Matthew. Oh, how I wish all 3 could be here with us. I wish I didn't have to share such sadness with you, my love, but I know your heart will be as big as mine, and I don't want to shelter you from reality. Life is hard. It's also unfair. We must remember to cherish each other and show our friends our unending love whenever we can.

Well, my lovely lady, I cannot wait to SEE you and HOLD you and MEET you soon. Please, take your time. I am in no rush, and I know whatever day you are born is the day you were meant to be here on.

I love you so very much.
Your momma.

Maternity Photos!

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

38 weeks!

Total weight gain: I did see that 2. So we are holding at 25 lbs total.
Maternity clothes? Indeedy.
Sleep: It comes and goes.
Best moment this week: Hugging all my fantastic friends and their babies. My shower. Finding my kitty.
Gender: Girl.
Craving: Lemon. Sour. Salami.
Movement: She never sits still. That slowing down thing? Not happening.
Labor Signs: A few contractions here and there. She is dropping, at least, I thought so but it doesn't look like it huh
Belly Button in or out? The in is holding on!
What I miss: My nose has been stuffy ALL week.
What I am looking forward to: EDD?
Milestones: It isn't a milestone but a fantastic weekend with my amazing friends who never cease to make me feel so incredibly special <3

Monday, July 11, 2011


Total weight gain: EEP! Water weight is killing me. I did nothing but walk all weekend and gained. The next number I see on a scale might start with a 2! :(
Maternity clothes? Indeedy.
Sleep: It comes and goes.
Best moment this week: Getty center with the husband, and shopping with Susan.
Gender: Girl.
Craving: Lemon. Salami. Melon. Being hit with cravings hardcore which is odd.
Movement: She never sits still. That slowing down thing? Not happening.
Labor Signs: A few contractions here and there. She is dropping.
Belly Button in or out? The in is holding on!
What I miss: My nose has been stuffy ALL week.
What I am looking forward to: THISWEEKEND
Milestones: She could be here anyday!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

36 weeks!

Sorry, I got behind! Here we are, almost Full term!

Total weight gain: Just at 20 lbs! On my scale :P
Maternity clothes? Now that I'm home, it's more like Maternity jammies.
Sleep: I can't often stay asleep, but I am still capable of sleep.
Best moment this week: Getting the nursery ALL DONE except for the wall decal.
Gender: Girl.
Craving: Nothing really
Movement: She never sits still.
Labor Signs: A few contractions here and there. She is dropping.
Belly Button in or out? The in is holding on!
What I miss: My nose has been stuffy ALL week.
What I am looking forward to: Watching Christopher become a daddy.
Milestones: Nearly full term!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Total weight gain: We are at about 19 lbs total! I am really happy abuot that
Maternity clothes? Now that I'm home, it's more like Maternity jammies.
Sleep: I can fall asleep very easily. But I can't stay asleep for long. I also stop myself from waking on my back.
Best moment this week: Getting all of the last "priority" items from BRU
Gender: Girl.
Craving: Buffalo Wild Wings. We had to go twice this month.
Movement: She never sits still.
Labor Signs: Some more BH and a couple "this could be more like the real thing" instances.
Belly Button in or out? The in is holding on!
What I miss: Energy.
What I am looking forward to: Getting the nursery all set up at some point this week.
Milestones: 35/35 is a milestone, right? The crib is built, we have all the stuffs we need, and baby is measuring a perfect 51st percentile!

Monday, June 13, 2011

33 weeks!

Total weight gain: 17 lbs..up a couple this week. Probably because I realized I can have a little more calories.
Maternity clothes? Nothing but
Sleep: Hit or miss. Wonderful when it's on though
Best moment this week: Getting to see my friends and family on Skype!
Gender: Girl.
Craving: Coleslaw the other night.
Movement: She never sits still.
Labor Signs: Some more BH and a couple "this could be more like the real thing" instances.
Belly Button in or out? The in is holding on!
What I miss: Bending over.
What I am looking forward to: Ultrasound on Friday
Milestones: We have a crib!

Monday, June 6, 2011

32 weeks and unflattering shirt lol

Total weight gain: 15 lbs
Maternity clothes? Nothing but
Sleep: Hit or miss. Wonderful when it's on though
Best moment this week: Lots of them! My Surprise shower from work, my shower with Church, buying a new car....
Gender: Girl.
Craving: Hmmm. Nothing.
Movement: She never sits still.
Labor Signs: Some more BH, but that's just practice.
Belly Button in or out? The in is holding on!
What I miss: Bending over.
What I am looking forward to: My Virtual shower this weekend
Milestones: Found some stretch marks. But they are ontop of old ones, not new ones, so that urm counts for something?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

31 weeks and first belly pic at the new house!

I look awful in this one, all fake smiling and crap, but it's funny because Lucy snuck in.
I wanted to try and be cool like Ashley's pictures and all looking down and whatevs...It turned out kinda lame.

Total weight gain: I lost 2 more lbs after the moving marathon this week, so I have gained 14 total.
Maternity clothes? Nothing but
Sleep: Getting progressively more difficult.
Best moment this week: Spending time with Susan, even if it was whilest moving.
Gender: Girl.
Craving: Hmmm. Nothing.
Movement: She never sits still.
Labor Signs: Some more BH, but that's just practice.
Belly Button in or out? The in is holding on!
What I miss: Bending over.
What I am looking forward to: Unpacking, and my church shower on Sunday!
Milestones: Baby finally moved for Auntie Susan :)

Monday, May 23, 2011

30 weeks! and many pictures

Chris wanted to show off HIS baby bump in the background.

Total weight gain: I stand at about 16 lbs gained, so I have lost nearly 4 in the last 2 weeks.
Maternity clothes? Nothing but
Sleep: Off and on. BAsically good. It's getting hard to stay comfortable.
Best moment this week: Holding baby Olivia!!!!!
Gender: Girl.
Craving: Cheese.
Movement: Non.freaking.stop. This girl is a spaz.
Labor Signs: No.
Belly Button in or out? The in is holding on!
What I miss: Eating what I want.
What I am looking forward to: Getting all moved in and settled in the new house this week!
Milestones: Today I get my blood sugar monitor :P

Monday, May 16, 2011

29 weeks

Total weight gain: I lost 1.5 lbs this week! YAY!
Maternity clothes? Nothing but
Sleep: Pretty great! Except last night
Best moment this week: Spending time with Stephanie!
Gender: Girl.
Craving: Cocoa almonds
Movement: Non.freaking.stop. This girl is a spaz.
Labor Signs: No.
Belly Button in or out? The in is holding on!
What I miss: Sleeping on my back
What I am looking forward to: Meeting baby virtual shower...the move
Milestones: Half passing my GD test? Sigh.

Monday, May 9, 2011

28 week letter--Oh the places you'll go! (and the people you'll meet!)

My dearest LPG,

I am sorry that I have not written in a while. We are very busy around your house--we are in the process of moving to an even BETTER house for you to live in, love, and thrive in. Also, both Mommy and Daddy's AP classes are taking their exams this week, which kind of consumes our worlds. But I am here now, and I have something very important to say. It is inspired by a conversation with your Aunt Susan.

My daughter, I have told you about friends and family, and how wonderful and magical they are. This is nothing new, and awfully redunant of me to continue to touch upon. But the thing is, you can never be TOO aware of how amazing the people in your life are.

When I think back on my life, I am very sad that I didn't recognize the value of important friendships sooner. I may never have been terribly popular or well known, but I was never without at least ONE true friend. One friend that would do anything for me, and that I would do anything for. How lucky was I just to have that one? And how much did I devalue it for want of others? When I think back, these names flood my brain: Matthew, Jennie, Elizabeth, Lindsay, Deanna, Kristie, Joshua, Stephanie, Jenni, Colleen, Jamie, William, Eric, Willis, Rhonda, Sandy, Debbie, Corey, Jamie, Jessie, Tracy. Some names stayed with me beyond high school. Some were added in college: Erin, Pratima, Michelle, Lauren, Treasure, Diviin, Erin, Jennifer, Amanda, Rory, Caitlin. Some names stayed with me once again, and more were added as I began my life. But when I look at that list and I remember each of those special people, I realize how LUCKY I was, downright BLESSED to have them with me at a time in my life when I most needed them. And how truly fateful it was that I found them.

When I look at my current circle of friends, most who live miles from me, I am overwhelmed by the blessings I have been given. How did I find them? How did they find me? Who took such great care to ensure we found each other? I have to believe that God has a special plan for each of us, and it involves leading us to the right people. LPG, some of my dearest friends have been happened upon by chance. Your aunt Jamie and I knew each other in HS, but weren't as close. Some of those friends were happened upon through an internet message board, perhaps a silly way to meet people. But it brought me to some of the most valued and cherished individuals, whom I will never let go of, who have shaped me and reshaped me. Some of those friends I have met in a school that at first, I didn't even love teaching at. I came here with wide eyes, and quickly shut them when things didn't go "just my way." This caused me to alienate some people who could have been great friends from the start. I am lucky, and so humbled, that they were able to see through that wretched first year, stick around, and manage to break down my walls to be so amazing in my life now. They take care of me, guide me, provide me with insights and knowledge that I never knew I was even missing.

Suddenly, I feel quite popular.

LPG, your daddy is by far the most important person in my life. I don't know who, what, or where I'd be without him. I could never express in adequate words how meaningful he is to me. But we are also so incredibly blessed to have these amazing people around us. THese people, that even when mommy is, well, mommy and a complete and total JERK, stick around, love her, and hold her up until the next day. That see through her facade and reach out to her, help her and GIVE to her when they didn't have to at all.

When you think of all the millions and billions of people in the world, it seems so rare and impossible that you could meet just the right people that you need in your life. But my dearest daughter, I am here to tell you that it happens. It happens and it's magical and special. Some times, they come out of nowhere. Sometimes, they were there all along and it just took you a while to see it. But regardless of where you go, you will meet the right people. You will find the people to give meaning to your life, sunshine to your dark days, and happiness to your heart. I trust that not only will you find the right people, but also, you will BE the right person to so many others. You will share your love and life with many others, and change THEIR life for the better.

Above all, LPG, never forget to be thankful. We never know how long we have. We never know when a moment is our last. So every chance you have, every moment you can, be thankful to those that He has led you to, who He has placed in your path, who He has ensured you would find. There are few treasures on this earth, my love, and family and friendship is BY FAR the most precious.

We love you.

28 weeks!

Total weight gain: Well, we are nearing 20 lbs now. I got a small lecture at my MW appt. Nothing big, just a reminder to keep working out. I needed the reminder :)
Maternity clothes? Nothing but
Sleep: Pretty great!
Best moment this week: My fantabulous mother's day!
Gender: Girl.
Craving: lemon!
Movement: Non.freaking.stop. This girl is a spaz.
Labor Signs: No.
Belly Button in or out? The in is holding on!
What I miss: Sleeping on my back
What I am looking forward to: Meeting baby Olivia in 2 virtual shower...the move
Milestones: 3rd tri and not a single stretch mark!

Monday, May 2, 2011

27 weeks!

Total weight gain: Scale says 189. So just about to hit 15 lbs total.
Maternity clothes? Yep.
Sleep: Pretty great!
Best moment this week: Walking in the March of Dimes March for Babies with Chris.
Gender: Girl.
Craving: soda/slurpees/coke
Movement: Non.freaking.stop. This girl is a spaz.
Labor Signs: No.
Belly Button in or out? In but I daresay not for much longer
What I miss: Bending over :)
What I am looking forward to: My shower!
Milestones: *shrug*

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

26 weeks!

Total weight gain: Today, the scale said 188, which is what it said last week, so that's a little victory. That puts me at 13 lbs overall.
Maternity clothes? Yep.
Sleep: The insomnia has returned.
Best moment this week: Baking whoopie pies with Susan. I mean, LPG was there lol
Gender: Girl.
Craving: No cravings.
Movement: Non.freaking.stop. This girl is a spaz.
Labor Signs: No.
Belly Button in or out? In but I daresay not for much longer
What I miss: Getting up from the couch without needing chris to push me?
What I am looking forward to: March for Babies walk on Saturday
Milestones: *shrug*

Quick side curly hair always looks SO much better in my head than in a picture. Sigh.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

25 weeks

Total weight gain: 10 lbs :( With most of it coming in the last month. Oops. I should stop eating my weight in peanut m&ms.
Maternity clothes? Yep.
Sleep: Perfection
Best moment this week: Chris watching baby E kick around my cell phone on my stomach.
Gender: Girl.
Craving: No cravings.
Movement: Non.freaking.stop.
Labor Signs: No.
Belly Button in or out? In but I daresay not for much longer
What I miss: Nada
What I am looking forward to: Loving my spring break
Milestones: I'm guessing we've passed V-day or something like that.

Monday, April 11, 2011

24 weeks! (and a blury picture)

Total weight gain: Well, today I'm at 181. So that means, from initial starting point of 175, 6 lbs. But the dr office scale last week said something different that we wil just ignore :)
Maternity clothes? Normal length shirts are starting to not work.
Sleep: Perfection
Best moment this week: Meeting, and LOVING, my new midwife.
Gender: Girl.
Craving: No cravings.
Movement: She's a mover! I am trying to get video of it, but thus far, not working.
Labor Signs: No.
Belly Button in or out? In but I daresay not for much longer
What I miss: Being able to do all my chores and shopping without feeling woozily. (same as week 22)
What I am looking forward to: Putting down daycare deposit today, finalizing photographer, starting to paint dresser
Milestones: Getting through last week is a big milestone for me, emotionally. <3

Monday, April 4, 2011

23 weeks.

My dearest LPG,

Hello, my little mover and shaker. I hope you are having a fantastic Monday, and enjoying the caffiene that your terrible mommy is filling you up with today. I didn't sleep very well last night, so I am tired today. But no matter.

LPG, this week is a very important, special and emotional week for your Mommy. I am going to explain why in the best ways that I can, but in a way, it's impossible. Some emotions, some feelings, they are too much for words. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you cannot quite express what your heart feels. This week I am going to tell you about the two most precious and beautiful angels in all of heaven: K and M.

Here is a little backstory. As I have humbly explained in the past, your mother is not quite a social butterfly. In fact, I struggle with making friends. Part of it is anxiety, part of it is conciededness, part of it is who knows what. But either way, I struggle. In 2008, when we moved to HH, we struggled to fit in. We didn't feel a part of our school community (though we would in the future), we lived in an apartment we hated, and all in all, it wasn't the best year. It should have been, considering the fact that it was our first year of marriage. But alas, life doesn't always work out the way it seems it should. I had few friends, so I turned to the most reliable place to meet a ton of crazy people--the internet. Somehow, one day, I stumbled upon a silly little message board called "Babies on the Brain." As it seemed to fit me at the time, I started posting. And I started making friends.

(A quick disclaimer, LPG. The internet is full of both good and bad people, just like life. You cannot trust the people you meet immediately, just like life. But as you will come to find yourself, friends appear in the strangest of places. And I met a bunch of friends on this board, that would later become real-life friends. Some, I still know through a screen, but love and cherish as much as a friend I can see. But either way, these people became intertwined in who I was, and lifted me up when I was down, so I am eternally grateful for this silly message board).

One lady that I met, your Auntie Susan, among the many who I consider friends, lived nearby me at the time. She was pregnant, and beautiful, and very kind. We talked about meeting here and there, but never really got around to it. It was very unfortunate that our first meeting came not long after she gave birth to K, at 23 weeks, and she passed away. K was a beautiful little girl. Her beauty is imprinted in my mind forever. She lived a short time before becoming an angel, and even in her short lifespan, she touched many lives and filled us all with overwhelming love.

K's birth awakened a spirit in me that I had been struggling to find. Our message board united, and together, we worked to give Susan some token of our love for her and her baby. We raised a considerable amount, found and gave the most memorable gift we could, and I sent it to her. As a result, Susan and I became closer. She had moved slightly further away from our house by now, but we arranged to meet in October. Oh LPG, the beauty of meeting a friend who was destined for your life is indescribable. Things just click--everything feels right. Even in the wake of such a tragic loss, Susan and I felt comfortable and at ease with one another immediately. We spent hours talking about how beautiful K was, and getting to know one another better. From then forward, we became closer and closer, meeting more often, chatting almost daily, building a foundation for a limitless friendship. Although Susan had suffered what no one should ever have to, she was strong. She was an inspiration. Her spirit is unlike any other. And better yet, she understood Mommy. She just GOT her. This, in my world, is quite rare, so I knew that I should hold on as tightly as I could to this amazing woman.

One day, last April, Mommy and Daddy were grilling lobster for dinner. Susan called me 3 times, and I didn't answer, as I was arm deep in butter and tails. When I called back, she told me that she had gotten a positive pregnancy test. I screamed so loudly that Daddy ran in from the backyard, terrified that something dreadful had happened. FInally, after the heartache and strife that Susan went through, she was blessed and would be having another baby. All through her pregnancy with M, we were optimistic. THIS would be her baby, her healthy happy baby, who would be looked over at all times by his angel Big sister. When I think back to the joy I felt to watch M grow, learn he was a boy, watch Susan's tummy grow--it's almost too much to bear.

LPG, I must break here to say that sometimes, life sucks. I really can't say it in any other way. I don't like using the word "unfair" because we have never been guaranteed any sort of fairness or equity in life, and I know this. But sometimes, the things that happen, the tragedies that occur...they just suck. I'm sorry I can't put that in a happier way for you.

Last September, M was born too early. The doctors did their best to stop it from happening, and we had Susan prepared for a LONG stay in the hospital ensuring his safety. But that thing I said about sometimes, life sucks? Well, here we are. M was the most handsome little man I had ever seen. While I never held or met him or K in person, the pain I felt for their loss was unlike any other. I struggle to even find the words to express my sorrow, and current sadness, that they are not here with us, happy and playing, growing and thriving. What happened to your Auntie Susan DEFINES unfair, and whil eI believe we are not guaranteed fairness, the anger that builds within me when I think of her loss has no other suitable term. I loved M dearly, and loved K dearly, and desperately miss them both.

Both K and M were lost at 23 weeks, which is the root of my emotions for this week. I am not afraid. I understand the mutually exclusive aspect of life--I realize that what happened to someone else does not indiciate it happening to me. I am not anxious or nervous. But I cannot seem to find the words for the emotions I do feel. Intense sorrow and loss that this number has such painful connotations. Remorse and guilt that we are here, together, you and I LPG, but Susan and K and M are not. Disdain for a world that can perpetuate such awful circumstances on someone so wonderful and loving. Hopeful, that the grace of K and M live on through Susan, and through me, and through you one day, LPG. Eager to see the wonderful children that Susan WILL become a mother to, and shower them with the love and affection she will undoubtedly provide for you. There are so many emotions swishing around within me that it's hard to even focus on one for a moment and feel them let alone describe them.

In this very long post, there are a few things I want you to know, LPG.
1. K and M, while their time here was brief, changed the world. They have taught me more about life and love than many people could in an entire lifetime. Their presence in our lives is real, and tangible, and even though we can't see them, THEY ARE STILL HERE. They were here with us, and their love is our reality. I know without a doubt that you are on their list of people to keep an eye on.
2. Your Auntie Susan loves you so very much. She is one of the first people you will meet aside from me and Daddy, as she will be our doula in the delivery room, helping to ensure your happy birth. She is so excited to meet you.
3. Life can suck. It can be full of pain and loss and sorrow that is often unexplainable. People who TRY to explain it with stupid cliches like "it was part of God's plan" or "He doesn't give you more than you can handle" have no idea what they are talking about. We will address that in-depth later on. Life just sucks sometimes. Losing K and M sucks. Nothing can replace them and no words or anything ever will. It's really just that simple.
4. There will never be a day that I take your presence in my life for granted. I know how lucky and blessed we are to have you, and I hope you are aware of that every single day. I can't promise how long we will be together. But I can promise that you will always know how valued, loved, wanted and special you are.
5. The spirits of those we lose live on through us. It is our job to honor their memory. I will honor K and M by being the best possible mother to you, and by loving Auntie Susan with my whole heart. She will be ever-present in your lives, and part of our little circle of love forever.
6. Sometimes, in relation to that life sucking thing, bad things happen to the best people. As we will likely raise you to feel the same empathy that we do, this will break your heart into millions of pieces. It is painful and to put it simply, crappy. But what can you learn from it? You learn that these people are the BEST for a reason. Because they can find reason in madness, and turn dispair into hope. Your Auntie Susan will soon become a mommy to kids in desperate need. THey don't even know how lucky they are, but they're out there, being directed to her. Auntie Susan's unbeatable spirit is what we can learn from this.

This week isn't about pictures or updates or weight gained or stretch marks. LPG, this week is about you and K and M. The beautiful light that flows through us, that is living proof of our love and spirit, and a presence that will never end.
Susan, K, and M, we love you more than we could ever find the words to express.

"I've heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you
It well may be
That we will never meet again In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me Is made of what I learned from you
You'll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart

And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend..."

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Week 22 Letter: The people you won't get to meet

My dearest little one,

Hello there, precious. Did you know that every day I spend with you is such a blessing? I grow more and more thankful for your presence in our lives with every day. I already can't imagine life without you. I am so very thankful for you.

However, life is not always so wonderful. This week and next week, my letters to you will be a little less than peppy. But while they are sad, they are also filled with such love. And with important information that I so desperately want you to know.

When you arrive here, to join our lives and fill it with love, there will be some people that will not be here to meet you. The most unfortunate part of this life is that eventually, it must end. We don't know when, and rarely know how. Loss is the worst thing we can feel as people, and while it gets easier, there is no way to prepare for a sudden loss of a loved one. So I want you to know of those who came before you, and who you will be unable to meet.

My Grandpa Trefney was an excellent Grandpa. I was the apple of his eye from day one, as my family had suffered the pain of infant loss previous to my birth. He was caring and thoughtful. Even though we had different interests, he was always involved in the lives of his grandchildren. Your Great Grandpa loved sailing, and the water, and your Auntie Chelsey carries on that aspect of his spirit. I have a particularly wonderful memory of your Great Grandpa. When I was growing into a teenager, he wrote me a heartfelt letter about how proud he was of me, and the lovely woman I was turning in to. It was so meaningful. Your Great Grandpa is dearly missed, but always loved.

My Uncle Don died suddenly in 2009. His loss was the type that you are never ready for--one day, he was here and healthy, the next day, he was gone. It was particularly devestating to his wonderful family--Aunt Mary and 4 children, as well as to the rest of us. Uncle Don was the youngest of his brothers, so his loss seemed to make no sense. But you will find, dearest, that loss seldom does. One of my most treasured memories of Uncle Don, I will one day get to show you. He is dancing, joyously dancing, throughout our wedding video. That's the kind of guy he was--full of love and joy and action. He was so loved, and still missed every moment.

You have already met Papa, albeit briefly. He was the smiling, happy man, fresh with new angel wings, who rocked you and kissed you before he sent you on to my tummy. I am absolutely confident of this. He wasn't in heaven long before you had to leave it. Papa was another sudden loss. In fact, I was fully expecting to hug him tightly when I came home for Thanksgiving. But we lost him suddenly just days after my birthday. Your Papa was a vibrant, opinionated man. He loved sports, just like Mommy and Daddy. He loved his family with all he had. His loss is still so raw that it remains difficult to process. He should have been here to meet you. But instead, you met him in heaven, will have to do.

On Daddy's side, you won't get to meet your Great Grandpas, either. Also, one Great Grandma. I am going to have daddy write some things to tell you, as I was unfortunately unable to meet any of them. But I know that they were all loved as well, and that we all wish you could know them, too. But know, without a doubt, that they love you and will watch you grow from their perch in heaven.

LPG, even though we miss each of these people desperately, our lives are still richer for having known them. They filled our lives with happiness and joy and love. We are not guaranteed any amount of time on this earth, so it is important that we make every moment worthwhile. We must never take any moment for granted, and we must love with all we have at all times. Your Daddy and I promise to never take you for granted, and express our true love for you every day. I wish there was a way to keep us together forever. But we will make the most of every moment we have, from now, until forever.

We love you, LPG, and so does your entire family.

March Madness Love,
Your Mommy

(Also, Daddy's birthday is Thursday--I'm sure he'd love a really good KICK from you!)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Holy cow 22 weeks!

You get 2 pictures today! Chris wanted to be "that guy" but then my flash decided to go off and ruin it lol.

Total weight gain: Sigh. I didn't even weigh myself this morning. I am guessing around 179. I have been taking good walks and eating better, but I think it's inevitable at this point. I'm not upset that I'M gaining weight, I just want to make sure I am healthy enough for her.
Maternity clothes? Yes, although my outfit today is pre-pregnancy (pants and shirt)
Sleep: Perfection
Best moment this week: Auntie Susan telling LPG that she is one of the first people she will meet :*)
Gender: Girl.
Craving: No cravings.
Movement: Still tons! We are thinking maybe she will be a gymnast with all of her flips!
Labor Signs: No.
Belly Button in or out? oh we are getting dangerously close to out. Yes we are.
What I miss: Being able to do all my chores and shopping without feeling woozily.
What I am looking forward to: Still midwife appointment, which is next week!
Milestones: Um...still no stretch marks...does that count?

Monday, March 21, 2011

21 weeks!

Total weight gain: EEP! I was not happy to see 177 this morning! But I also feel really large...sigh. Need to walk more
Maternity clothes? Yeppers
Sleep: Sleep is ok, when she stops kicking me enough to let me fall asleep!
Best moment this week: Chris feeling his baby girl kick him
Gender: Girl.
Craving: Nothing really, but I have been eating a LOT of baked potatoes with sour cream. It's not really a OMG HAVE TO HAVE IT NOW thing, but I am enjoying them.
Movement: LOTS of it! She is active!
Labor Signs: No.
Belly Button in or out? In.
What I miss: Have to go back to skin. I told Chris we should find a name that means: "Ruin's Mommy's Skin."
What I am looking forward to: Still midwife appointment.
Milestones: Chris feeling her kick, basically settling on a name.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

20 week letter--Momma's life

Dearest LPG,

Hello my little thumper! I am so happy to be increasingly aware of your presence. I can't wait until Daddy can feel you, too, but for now, I am SO happy to be able to feel your kicks and rolls.

I wanted to give you a little background as to who I am. You know, since you will spend the rest of your life stuck with me, anyway :) So I should properly introduce myself and tell you a little bit about myself when I was younger.

I was born on November 16th, 1984. Your Granny will never forget it, as I was 2 entire weeks late (due on Halloween!). I was the first baby to my family, just like you will be. Your Granny and Grandpa were so happy to have me, and I like to think I was a pretty good baby. I was active, but I was smart, and generally helpful.

Granny likes to tell me stories of how eager I was to read and learn. I had many of my books memorized at a young age. I also liked to be helpful, and was especially helpful while Granny was on bedrest during her pregnancy with your Aunt Chelsey. Basically, I loved to learn however I could.

The most tramatic event I suffered was breaking my leg when I was 2 and a half. Thankfully, I don't remember it! But I know I wore a full leg cast for a long time! Granny even still has it! Unfortunately, it had long-lasting impacts on my life, but that's ok, as that's just a part of life.

I started kindergarten at a younger age than most students. It was a blessing and a curse--I was ready for it academically, but not so much socially. After a rough start, I figured things out and by 2nd grade, was being tested for the gifted school. Unlike your daddy, I wasn't accepted, but I was generally regarded for my intelligence throughout school. Growing up, I was a pretty big tomboy. I liked to play with my cousins, get dirty, and watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But my primary love? It was for reading. I LOVED to read and couldn't get enough of books. So I spent a lot of my time with my nose in a book. I also enjoyed writing, and was doing it from an early age. I had little books published, and also wrote for our elementary school's newsletter. Overall, I was happy and fun-loving, even if I wasn't the most popular or the prettiest girl.

Middle school and high school were a challenge for me, as they are for many young adults. I was trying to figure out who I was and how I fit into the social schemes at school. It wasn't for many years that I realized how pointless this quest was. I wish I would have been happier with who I was. Regardless, I was involved in a lot of things. I played cello in the orchestra, sang in choir, was the editor of my high school newspaper, helped open and run a writing center, and took a lot of challenging classes. I had some wonderful friends, more than enough, but was by no means well known. As I was nearing graduation, I really wanted to attend U of M, but I turned in my application on the deadline duedate! So I was waitlisted originally, and thought I would go to Michigan State instead. But then, U of M accepted me and there was nowhere else I would rather be!

In college, I feel that my personality really began to flourish. I finally began to love myself and who I was, flaws and all. This took some hard lessons, but that's ok, it was worth it. I had a job at a coffee house, and at the Housing office at U of M. I was involved in an improv comedy group that was so wonderful, even if I wasn't incredibly funny. But the most important part, aside from my world class education, was meeting your Daddy. He forever changed my life, and gave me the direction I needed. I am so endlessly thankful for him, and for the universe for guiding us to one another. I couldn't imagine my life without him.

Who is your mommy today? Well, she is a lot of things. She is a wife, a daughter, a sister, a sister-in-law, a best friend, a godmother, an aunt, a devoted English teacher, a mommy to the best animals ever, and a fiercely passionate person. Sometimes, I talk a little too much when I should keep my mouth shut. Sometimes, I get a little to into causes that I can't change. Sometimes, I'm just annoying :) But I do everything I do with my whole heart. I stand up for what I believe in and I'm not afraid to let my voice be heard. I also adore sports, playing online, the internet, and enjoying my wonderful life in California. I like to think I am pretty relaxed, but I am still not a social butterfly. I only have a few close friends, and I like it that way :) I am dedicated to getting everything prepared for your arrival, and can't wait to start setting up your room. Mommy likes to DO things at home, and have little projects to complete. I hope this will mean that I can always keep you busy and occupied.

But who I am most of all, my dearest LPG, is your mother. I promise to give all of who I am to you. I want to ensure your happiness at all times, and try to protect you from going through negative experiences. However, I also acknolwedge that these experiences are what teach you about life, so I promise to always help you find a method in the madness, even when life doesn't seem to make sense. While I am a lot of things, and while those things won't change, I am first and foremost, ALL YOURS.

I love you, LPG. Hopefully, this has given you a little insight to who I was, who I am, and who I will be forever.
Your Momma

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

20 weeks! HALFWAY!

Total weight gain: I am up to 174. Which means 1 lb away from starting weight. Maternity clothes? Yeppers
Sleep: Doing ok. Waking up a lot to pee
Best moment this week: Getting to see our perfect little girl again, and her gigantic head
Gender: Girl.
Craving: Nothing really
Movement: Thumpthumpthump. And a few rolls here and there
Labor Signs: No.
Belly Button in or out? In.
What I miss: I wouldn't mind a Guinness on Thursday, but I am completely fine without it :)
What I am looking forward to: First appointment with a MIDWIFE in April. So happy I decided to ditch the OB. It just wasn't for me.
Milestones: Getting the name choices down to 3!!!!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Week 19 letter

My dearest LPG,

Hello there little girl. I hope you are having a ball inside my stomach. It sure feels like it--I am constantly feeling your little thumps now, and every now and then, what I assume is a roll or a belly flop. It is magical. Your daddy is eagerly awaiting for the day when he can feel you from the outside. I know it will be here soon. While we are sad that we didn't get to see your pretty face on the day we were supposed to (Monday), we look forward to seeing you tomorrow. We are excited to know that your heart and precious organs are all perfect and working in harmony.

I decided to make this week a little silly, because, let's face it, Mommy and Daddy are quite silly. I wanted to tell you about a hugely important aspect of our lives, and that is sports.

You see, one of the intense passions that we hope to share with you is a love of athletics. Neither of us are really athletic, although we will encourage you to try to be, should you be interested. But what we do love is the uniting aspect of sports. It brings so much into our lives.

We dubbed you Little Point Guard when you were first conceived because Daddy's primary love is for basketball. He is a coach, and always will be. By the time you are old enough to read this, we are hoping that coaching basketball will be Daddy's number one job. But we will have to see how that works out :) Mommy, however, loves hockey, and grew up with an intense love for it, thanks to Grandpa. We also share a huge love of football and baseball.

One thing to note, dearest, is that you will be born in California. But mommy and daddy do not root for many California teams. Instead, we worship the teams from where we grew up: Detroit. You may choose to root for whomever you please, of course. Mommy and Daddy love the Detroit Red Wings, Pistons, Tigers, and Lions. We of course love the U of M Wolverines, and even appreciate the MSU Spartans. Daddy loves the Green Bay Packers, too. When it comes to college basketball, your daddy likes too many teams to list, but the primary ones behind U of M and MSU are the Texas Longhorns.

I know it seems silly that I would take a valuable week of letters to you to talk about something as seemingly pointless as sports. Because even if you do not like sports, we will still love you and cherish you deeply. But, since you're stuck with us your whole life, you might as well be briefed in who we are. You will be hard pressed to go a week in our house without some kind of athletic contest on the TV.

While sports ARE just a game, they can also serve as a unifying symbol for people and for cities. New Orleans, for instance, won a Superbowl not long after a devestating hurricane struck their coastline. The excitement and joy brought about by their victory united their city, reminded them of who they were and that they WOULD overcome this. In 1980, the US men's hockey team won a shocking game, an upset over the favored Russian Team. In a time of turmoil between the two nations, the victory's weight in the United States was enormous. We reveled in the victory, and savored its meaning, as it meant MORE than just a championship. In 1998, the Red Wings won a repeat Stanley Cup, after their first victory in 42 years in 1997. However, the summer after the 1997 victory, 3 players were injured in a terrible accident; 2 devestatingly so. The victory in 1998 showcased one of those players, in a wheelchair on the ice, holding the Stanley Cup in his lap and proudly showcasing the number 2. Mommy was in the 8th grade then, and these victories were of particular importance to her. They taught her about the power of a team--how they can come together and support those who need it for whatever reason. The victory showed how intense committment to a goal can be achieved. And the victory, with the injured player embraced on the ice, reminded her to NEVER give up on what she knew in her heart to be possible. All of these lessons come from sports, LPG, which is why they are so much a part of us, and hopefully, a part of you.

Tomorrow, when I see your beautiful face and long legs kicking away, I certainly won't be thinking about what sport you will play, or what team you will be on. YOU are our primary goal, and our number one source of happiness. But, we wouldn't be your Mommy and Daddy, Alyssa and Chris, without sports in our lives. So I'm glad that at the very least, I could share that part of us with you.

See you tomorrow, little one.

Your Mommy