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Welcoming Jude, Part II: The Pregnancy

A Birth Story, Emi, Fierce Lady Tribe, Jackamo, Maternity, NaeNae, SB, Travis - Emily - November 4, 2015

Part Two: The Pregnancy
Welcome to the second post in a series discussing birth in general, my special relationship with Emi, and being present at the birth of her third child, and the first birth I’ve ever attended.
Have you read Part I?

Back at the beginning of the year, when Emi first found out she was pregnant, it put a bee in my bonnet. It spurred me into action. Shaun and I had been talking wishy-washy about trying to start a family, and suddenly, the knowledge that Emi was pregnant made both of us realize how much we wanted this, how ready we were, finally. In January and February, and even in March, we had been kinda half-hearted in our attempts, still scared, still unsure, still feeling young and immature.

As Emi’s pregnancy progressed, we wanted that same experience for ourselves, more and more. Back in spring, I dreamed of spending most of the year pregnant with Emi. We’d talked about it all winter, imagining what it would be like to prop our feet up together and make our boys cater to us, we dreamed about our bellies growing together, our babies being born with in weeks or months of each other.

Turns out, that’s not what God or Nature or the Universe or Fate had in mind for us – and that’s been a difficult reality to accept. A difficult dream to let go of, especially as it felt like every other woman around me was getting pregnant, and I was left behind. I’ve come to terms with it – I think, I hope, I pray. I know Shaun and I are busy, we work opposite schedules, we’re seldom home together, we don’t get a lot of privacy. I get so emotional (SURPRISE) about everything (SURPRISE) that periodically, we’ve had to take breaks from thinking too hard about it, trying too hard — I just get so disappointed and tearful, even though I think our situation is fairly common and we’re not concerned, just impatient. Our time will come, but it wasn’t over the summer.

One of my Goal Words for 2015 has been Trust, and Lord, have I been tested this year. This year has tested me and challenged me, and at first, I always try to control everything. I research, I plan, I make goals and then I break those goals down into smaller goals and I turn those smaller goals into To-Do lists and then I make a Plan of Attack so I can achieve my goals as efficiently as possible.

And the Universe says, nuh-uh. Ain’t happening. You’re not in charge, I am, and the more you try and force things into place, the more you hammer and yank and stomp your feet – the more I am going to challenge you. Calm down. Be patient. Surrender. Trust.

(It’s a lesson I’m still learning.)

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Welcoming Jude, Part I: About Birth

A Birth Story, Emi, Friends Family, Jackamo, Jeannie, Maternity, NaeNae, SB, Travis - Emily - November 3, 2015

Beautiful Emi.

Part One: The Preface
As usual, I sat down and just wrote and wrote about the experience of watching Emi give birth, and I didn’t really allow myself to cut it short. I wrote everything I felt was pertinent, to me, personally, so — as usual, I was long-winded. I’ve broken up this long catalogue of emotions and lessons and experiences into three blogposts, and am now finally posting them over the course of a few days, so stay tuned, and enjoy!

I’m looking through pictures, now, a handful of days later and I’m still just – in awe.

Now, safely on the other side, it’s easy to let the wonder slip – life is calmer now, more joyful, certainly – but calmer. Less suspense, less worry, less what if, what happens next. Baby Jude is here, now, and she’s safe and she’s absolutely surrounded by so much love from so many people, and Emi is well and whole and safe, and their entire little family is now home, together – all those hours of crazy intense labor fade in comparison to the thrill of new life, here now.

And then I start glancing through the pictures I took, looking at my dear Emi’s face, sweet Travis watching her, his hands gentle on her head, her back, her tummy – and it all comes rushing back: that feeling of wonder and excitement, the supreme calm and utter surety that all would go well – the absolute awe of my dear friend, my soul sister.

Let me back up to the beginning.

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Til Death Do Us Parker.

Another opportunity to document the life of one of my favourite families!

I unofficially snapped some pictures at Emily the Sister’s bridal shower a few weeks ago, and as I expected, the time flew and her wedding day arrived!

I’ve known Emily almost as long as I’ve known her brother Travis, and I’ve known her fiance-now-husband Richard since my college days. Sometimes, two people who were both in your life but in completely different ways end up coming together — and as I told Emily yesterday, I’m so happy two people I love found love together, and doubled up the love in my life.

Emily had asked if I would mind coming to take some pictures of her and her girls getting ready, and then after, Richard and his guys, and of course, I agreed! Any opportunity to get some practice in is welcome, and I felt honored to get to watch Emily get ready, spend the morning with her. She and her girls got ready in Paducah Bed and Breakfast, which was a beautiful place to explore, full of high ceilings and antique furniture. Richard and his guys got ready at Emily and Travis’ dad’s house — which he had just decorated for Halloween — quite impressively, I might add. The spooky setting made quite the entertaining back-drop for their getting ready pictures.

Biggest lesson learned this time around? Battery back-up! Battery life was not really something I’ve had to worry about much — I seldom shoot for much longer than an hour, maybe two. And if I do — I’m shutting the camera off for long spells in between. Luckily — the camera battery lasted all day long, through Emily and the girls’ pictures, through Richard and the guys — what I had agreed to cover in a more formal photography sense. I didn’t even think about charging the camera after I picked up Shaun from work, had a shower, started to get ready. So — we got to the ceremony sight, I manged to snap a few of my dance company girls and myself, our dear friends Dawn and Barb, a few of the beginning of the ceremony and then —battery exhausted.

In all honesty, it was kind of nice. I’d been snapping pictures for several hours at that point, I’d worked at seven AM, and had run all over town getting lunch for the girls, picking up Shaun, getting ready. I regret not getting more pictures of Emily and Richard at the ceremony and reception, or of sweet Jack and Nae, killin’ on the dance floor with Teegan, or any of Shaun and Jack’s amazing dance moves…but I really got to enjoy being a guest at the wedding, and not a documentarian. Emily had an amazing photographer to cover the event, and for once, I wasn’t worried about trying to wait for the right moment to snap a picture. I just got down and boogied, cheered loud for the couple, and had a great time.

Congratulations, Richard and Emily!

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Saturday, In Pictures

hey guys #sb My little sweetheart. #sb #stillstalkinghensels

A bridal shower for a dear friend with Baby Sis JeannieSuh, solo trip to Piper’s for tea and quiet thoughts, a trip to the Rock Shop for a birthday present for MamaSuh next week as well as a good dose of good vibes, a visit to the my favourite little family for some snuggles with my three favourite babies, and frolicking in the fall with my dear Murph.

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Emi’s Blessingway

FOOD. The scene. Inside the Red Tent. FOOD. Reading words of wisdom. Besties. Sage cleansing. (Jeannie looks so much like Mom here.) The beautiful mother. Sage cleansing. (A little smoky.) Sage cleansing. Sage cleansing. Sage cleansing. Present opening. Beautiful Emi. Painting the belly. Emi painting her own belly. The Fierce Lady Tribe Amazing incredible decadent cupcakes. The gathering.

Your first question is probably what’s a blessingway?

We first read about Blessingways at Birth Without Fear, and then at Tribe de Mama. There were a lot of things we loved about the idea — bringing a group of women together not just to get excited for the new baby but also to love and pamper the mom, fill her with love and support in the last few weeks or days before she gives birth. Our fierce lady tribe, as we call it, is our group of young women who, sure, love to talk about boys and dresses and TV, but also like to talk about self image and spirituality and what it means to be a young woman in a modern culture. This seemed right up our alley, Emi and Trav and their precious babes are so much the heart and soul of our #friendsfamily, and everyone is getting so excited to meet new little SB here in a matter of…days, weeks?

We kept our plan very simple and straight forward; setting up our big pink pavilion tent in the side yard, a la The Red Tent. There was food, of course, because…duh. Mingling, a lot of giggling. We had a brief bit of seriousness — sharing words of wisdom, prayers, and songs of strength to empower Emi. And I just love my ladies so much more, after this, because everyone had something different, yet everyone had something perfect. Each song or poem or quote built on the next, until there were more than a few teary eyes. Then we had a moment of prayer, and then a moment of giggles — and did a sage burning. Sage burning is traditionally seen as a way to clear fear or negative thoughts, and really leave you clean and calm — the perfect state of mind to be in before a birth. (Oh, and a few of us soaked up the extra sage, because who doesn’t like to feel clean and positive and calm?)

Then we had the fun stuff — gift opening! Then — belly painting! Then, eating the massive, delicious cupcakes Kristin brought. (Eating one alone took me about four hours. Too rich, too decadent. I could eat one single bite per hour and then had to just stop and think about my life for a while.) And finally, a group hug, a group picture!

As I said when I shared our group picture earlier, I love that we have a group of women who cares so much about each other. We know how to laugh, we know how to goof off, we love to be silly — but we also really want to build each other up, install confidence, help each other be our best. That’s a very cool thing, I think, and something I hope we keep for many years to come.

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