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“You can make anything by writing.” ― C.S. Lewis

Posts for Life Photography Category

A Five Month Letter to My Daughter

[Previously in this series…]

Dear Ariadne,

Well, my daughter, this month has been a rough one.

Not because of you — of course, my darling. You have continued to be the most charming baby I have ever had the pleasure of spending time with, and I’m not just saying that because you’re mine and I made you from scratch. You grow even more happy-natured and joyful by the day. Just when I think you can’t get any more smiley or sweet, you do.

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No, this month has been a hard one for me, as your mama. This was a month where I barely felt like I got the opportunity to enjoy the privilege of being your mother. This was a month where I felt I spent the majority of the time running and running, and a few times a day, I stopped and shoved a boob in your mouth before bouncing you to sleep, and little else.

There was the emotional struggle of you being underweight, which I talked about here, and the decision to occasionally supplement a formula bottle here and there. (And I’m pleased to report that your follow-up appointment went great, the doctor was very happy with your progress, and told us to keep doing exactly what we were doing — nursing at every opportunity, pumping at work, and feeding you a formula bottle twice a day when I’m working to ease the strain on everybody.) That was a lot of emotional and physical stress on me, and then, you know, it’s been December, and Christmas, and all of that hoopla.

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I wanted very much to make your first Christmas a beautiful and special occasion, and I do think your papa and I succeeded in doing so — but it’s been an exhausting month. I felt overwhelmed by my work — particularly busy for this time of year — any time I’ve gotten close to getting caught up, I’d have to leave my desk and run to pump. I get up early, early in the morning to rush to get myself ready and rush to nurse you as long as possible, and rush to get out the door remotely close to on time. The week I had to be at work by 7 AM every day really almost killed me. I came home on lunch, long enough to nurse you and stuff food in my mouth before I was back out the door again. I came home after work to enjoy the last few precious hours of your awake time before putting you to bed for a couple hours, waking you to nurse again, and then tumbling into bed myself. And then there have been all the Christmas celebrations, with friends and family and work and church. Don’t get me wrong — I’m happy to have those demands on my time. I’m happy that we as a family share a rich and full life with so many people who loves us and enjoy spending time with us. Not every family has the opportunity to star as Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus in the annual live nativity. As your papa said, you got to time that just right to get that invitation. And I’m always so happy to gather our friends together at this time of year, your Aunt Ali home for a visit, and meeting your Uncle Ryan for the first time, being passed from lap to lap at a Christmas get together just like the little scraps of paper we played the movie game on.

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But all of that wore on me. I wanted in my heart to be joyful and light, but instead I felt dim and heavy. Listless and unenergetic. Snippy and short-tempered. Traits that don’t normally characterize me, not by a long shot.

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A Three Month Letter to My Daughter

[Previously in this series…]

Dear Ariadne,

I’m trying to write your third month letter today, since you’ll hit that milestone tomorrow – but I’m having a hard time. It’s been one of those days where I’ve miss you so much, I almost have to not think about you for a bit, just to make it through the day.

Three months, and we’ve hit the end of that “fourth trimester” – that first three months after you were brought earthside to meet us and be part of our family. The completion of the year it took to make you and grow you and birth you.  It almost feels like the end of a magic spell, this miraculous period of time in which you were a new, new baby soul, and we were your brand new, fresh parents.

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Which isn’t to say the newness and the magic have worn off– on the contrary, I think we’ve seen so much growth and change from you in the last month, since the last time I wrote, and I know our love for you has quadrupled every single day.

But now, in as you’ve hit three months, it’s quite evident you’re not a new newborn anymore. You’re still an infant, still a tiny little girl fresh and new in the world – but from appearance to personality, you’ve clearly moved out of the newborn phase.

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A Mother’s Blessing

We had all had rough days.

Some of us had had rough weeks, some of us were ill or in pain, or had emotional issues troubling us.

When I first realized this, getting ready in our bedroom in the early evening, I — of course — worried. Worried that we would all be too tired to enjoy ourselves. Worried that my dear ones had stressed themselves out, trying to pull together this Blessingway in my honor. Worried that our hearts would be in the right place but our bodies might not cooperate.

I dried my hair, and after I finished, I heard car doors slam shut outside. My girls were here. I didn’t bother with mascara — I knew there would be some sort of tears at some point in the evening; tears of emotion or joy or laughter or overwhelmed gratitude. I threw on the dress I’d worn for maternity pictures, earlier in the week, figuring I might as well get some more use out of it than just that one single occasion, and then I headed out the front door to the front porch.

Already, my ladies had hung a bright tie-dyed sheet of Lauren’s, blocking most of the party space from view. They would allow me behind it, but they wouldn’t let me help with anything, so I decided to park it in a chair outside the curtain and let myself be surprised when they’d finished setting up completely.

I didn’t feel great, I’ll admit it. I’d had an emotional day, more stress than I’d expected, and my hormones ready and rarring to escalate every emotion to its highest level, even when it wasn’t called for. Physically, I had pushed myself a bit farther than I should have. My back was killing me, my carpal tunnel was causing both my hands to ache, and my poor pregnant feet were certainly reacting to doing chores all day and the summer heat. Worst — my Braxton Hicks contractions were really amped up that evening — I was trying to catch up on my hydration, and sit still to let my body rest — but they were intense, and frequent. Not regular, or painful — never quite enough to make me actually worry about actual labor — but close enough that one or two times throughout the evening, I had an inward moment of, if this keeps up, we might turn this Blessingway into a Birthingway. (Luckily, that didn’t end up happening, and at the end of the night, with plenty of water and my feet propped up, everything returned to normal.)

So I sat, and listened as my friends called to each other, working together to transform the porch into a little wonderland for a few hours. Lauren turned on some music and it spilled out into the evening air.

Suddenly, I felt a sense of peace wash over me. Whatever I had been upset about all day, whatever I apprehension I had for the evening’s festivities — it all faded away. The sun was not yet quite beginning to set, but the hour drew nearer. Beyond the porch and the trees of the neighborhood, the sky flared from blue to rose and amber, and the last of the afternoon sunlight cut angles across the porch, shining through that tie-dye sheet. Suddenly, everything felt exactly as it should. I was happy to be there, happy to have my girls there to celebrate with me. Happy to have my husband inside enjoying some dude time, happiest of all to have my daughter kicking and wiggling in my belly as I waited.

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Louisville Girls’ Weekend.

Emi, Jeannie, and I have made it a little tradition to visit Louisville for a weekend, somewhere around Jeannie’s birthday. Poor Jeannie has a January birthday, and most of us are a little grumpy around this winter month — so we try and take a trip to create a bit of excitement, to one of our favourite cities for a little window shopping, a little walking around the city, and a fair bit of eating.

This year’s trip was a little slow-moving — I, of course, am pregnant, and besides the usual first trimester  exhaustion, I’ve been having fairly significant dizzy/vertigo spells off and on. Nothing to worry about — it’s fairly common, but I do have to take it easy. Emi brought sweet little Jude (SB) with us, which requires some special care, and poor baby Jude came down with a bit of a cold over the weekend — she was bright and chipper and smiley considering she felt bad — but she did require a fair amount of nose-cleaning — which made her furious — and some extra love and snuggles.

Despite that — we had a nice time! My lovely dance company best friend and bridesmaid, Maggie, graciously lets us crush at her place Friday night through Sunday morning, and, as Emi put it, plays city mouse to our country mice, and shows us all the nice shops with funky art, handmaid jewelry, antique furniture, and cool clothing. We also got to meet up with my former roommate and best friend, Jenny, as well as long-time friend from elementary school, Shadea. It’s just a lovely time of girls, laughing, and taking it easy as we explore a cool city.

Some of the places we visited – some of which are featured in the pictures:

Grape Leaf  – our traditional spot for just-into-town dinner — lots of vegetarian options, including falafel, Greek salad, and of course, hummus.

Cafe Mimosa/Eggroll Machinewe tried to go to a different pho place but Cafe Mimosa is just too good! Big open space with awesome people-watching windows, incredible pho or sushi or shrimp rolls or potstickers or crab rangoon or pretty much anything your little heart might desire to bolster you for an afternoon of shopping. 

Please and Thank Youa cool combination coffee and record shop! Some of the girls needed caffeine, and I browsed their new and used record combination. Maggie also got a chocolate chip cookie to share, and I can honestly say it’s one of the best I’ve ever had. 

Revelry probably one of my favourite places we visited this weekend! Walking into Revelry was like walking into Etsy come to life — homemade jewelry, a variety of art, clothing, furniture, soaps, essential oils. They feature a small art gallery in the back, and we took the time to wander through some paintings and prints.

Scout fancy furniture, clothing, jewelry, and more! Definitely a place for window shopping, although we found a few things within our price rage. A fun place to dream and imagine your dream home.

Red Treeanother cool store full of twists and turns, one room beyond the next — with tons to see — from antique and refinished furniture to night lights and potpourri.

Peace on Earththe most important thing you need to know about this store is that I found a brand new, amazing scent of soap called jasmine rose and came home with two bars of it.

Carmichael’s Bookstorea must-visit for us when we go to Louisville. Such a unique bookstore, half the size of a Books-a-Million but with triple the selection of books: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, biography, cook books, and a sizable children’s section. I always try to limit myself to just 2 or 3 books, but it’s hard not to come home with half the store!

Just Creationsanother must-visit! Just Creations is a store full of crafts — baskets, wall hangings, soaps, stationary, jewelry, dress, toys, food and seasonings, and it comes from all over the world. As a non-profit, the proceeds go back to low-income women all over the world to help better their circumstances — all fair trade. So not only do we get beautiful things, we feel good about buying them.

Safeir we can’t not eat at Safeir while we’re in Louisville, it’s just too good. A Middle-Eastern deli, we eat our fill of falafel, shish tawook, lentil soup, Greek salad — and all of it tastes so fresh and delicious. In warmer times, we sit on the street and people-watch the downtown traffic, but snuggled up at the back was just as fun.

Comfy Cowice cream! So many kinds of ice cream! What more do you need to know?

Nancy’s Bagel Groundsa new restaurant for us this time! We met Shadea here for a quick brunch before leaving town due to snow and freezing temperatures. It was hard to pick just one bagel and cream cheese from their long list, but each of us loved their choice. Emi and I also sampled their fruits smoothies which was a nice start to the day! They also had sandwiches, salads, and a Nutella latte I regretfully passed on this time — can’t wait to go back!

 

If you find yourself in Louisville any time soon, be sure to visit some of these spots!

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Welcoming Jude, Part III: The Birth!

Part Three: The Birth
Finally, we get to the real heart of this series of posts — the actual birth of Jude, whom I affectionately call SB — Spirit Baby, for the way I told Emi I knew she was pregnant before she even thought was.

Have you read Part I and Part II?

Note: I’m only sharing a select few of these birth pictures, with Emi’s permission. Also — this is long, and therefore somewhat detailed — but not a very graphic birth story, since I was only an observer. Which is to say — you’re not going to get a lot of medical details, and this should be a fairly tame read — but if you’re squeamish about birth, you’ve been warned!

With all that background out of the way, I can finally get down to the actual birth, that experience that so awed and inspired me – and I have to start that story the week before Emi gave birth – not that we knew it, at the time.

There had been some concern, in the final weeks – every expecting woman’s nightmare: Emi’s midwife, beloved Candie was going on vacation on September 23. Emi’s official due date was September 24. Of course, none of us ever know when a baby is going to decide IT’S TIME – but there was a fairly decent chance Emi wouldn’t have the woman she’d trusted and met with her entire pregnancy with her when she gave birth – that she would be passed over to some stranger who didn’t know her preferences and her background.

And I think there was more to it than that – Emi is a doula, she’s worked with Candie on multiple births. There was a trust there, a working relationship – and after I met Candie myself, heard her talk and work with Emi throughout her birth – I knew Candie really wanted to be at Emi’s birth too, for her own sake.

So in the week before, there was a lot of concern, a fair amount of rush. As I packed my doula/photographer bag, slipping in last minute chargers and essential oils, Emi and I texted, pretty darn close to day and night. How’s my girl, I asked every morning, how are you feeling?

Her answers varied. Some contractions last night, she’d say, but they petered out. Nothing too exciting.

I finished my bag, double-checked everything, worked out a schedule to share the car with Shaun to where I had access to drive to Emi and Trav even if Shaun was at work. I admit – I was nervous myself. I wanted Emi to have her baby with Candie, before she left – but it was a difficult week for me in terms of juggling obligations. I’d gotten approval to miss work if Emi went into labor during the day, but this week was one where a fellow team member would be out one day and I would need to be there if at all possible, I had dance classes Monday and Friday, I had a practice for my work’s team Dragon Boat Races  on Friday, and was scheduled to row in the races with the rest of my work team on Saturday. I didn’t want to let anybody down – I didn’t want to make anyone mad or disappointed in me, and I didn’t want to miss out on any of it.

True to form, I tried to stress at first. What if Emi goes into labor on Wednesday when my coworker is out? What if Emi goes into labor while I’m teaching and I have to find someone to cover? What if she goes into labor just before the races start? Or in the middle, and I can’t leave? All the while, I tried not to bother Emi with my worries. My obligations were definitely not her concern, and I didn’t want to shove my potential problems in her face while she was waiting to go into labor, of all things.

After a few days of this, I went right back to that word – trust. You are just going to have to trust that it will work out, I kept telling myself, hearing my sweet mama’s advice in my own head. (Maybe I’m finally learning.) You are going to have to trust that it will work out as it should. Worrying about it is not going to change anything, or make anything happen. Rest, wait. See what happens as it happens.

Thursday is where things started to get interesting.

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