Sunday, June 30, 2013

our story/part 2

In January I shared a piece of what I've been working on. I'm writing about being a parent and what this journey has meant for me. I'm writing about grief, loss, subsequent pregnancies, joy, hope, love, parenting after loss ...

I've been worrying about what to do with all of these words when finished, but recently decided to focus my energies on writing and worry about what comes after later. I'm praying for God to guide me through this process, and help me know if this exercise is meant just for me and this space or a wider audience.

Here is part one of our story. These are, essentially, whole chapters of the book I'm writing. Though their shape and substance may change right now they feel complete. This piece is about our first Thanksgiving without Charlotte.

It is often said that the first year after a death is the most difficult because one has to slog through the firsts: first Thanksgiving, first Christmas, first birthday, first anniversary etc. Our first major holiday without Charlotte was Thanksgiving. We decided to stay home because I didn't feel thankful, or able to sit around a table with family. All I could picture was falling apart and sobbing when confronted with the gaping space within my larger family where my six month old should be. The space in our home was part of me by then, but I hadn't yet faced the numerous gaps that extended beyond the immediate two of us. It was nearly impossible to bring myself to attend family events when the last time I had attended I was pregnant and imagining what it would be like to walk in the door instead of waddle, arms full of baby gear, Jonathan staggering behind with the awkward infant carrier.

Jonathan and I went for a long walk at a large park Thanksgiving morning. We let Isabel run through the off leash dog area with wild abandon before driving a little further into the park. We stopped by the river, clipped Isabel's leash to her collar and walked next to the river for a while. It was cold, 35 degrees. I was wearing so many clothes I couldn't bend my legs very well, or lift my arms.

It was still fall, but it was so cold it felt like the middle of winter. As we walked down the path the landscape to our right was bleak and winter stark, while the river to our left was overfull and rushing past. In the distance there was an eagle's nest on top of a telephone pole. Wrapped around the base of the pole was a tall tangled mass of brambles. The only way in or out of the nest was to fly, but I wished I could jump high enough to land in the middle, burrow down and be isolated for a while. I wanted to be surrounded by earth, sky and birds. I wanted to feel closer to Charlotte.

I missed her with every beat of my heart, with every breath in and out, whether that breath was fogged from the chilly outside air or warm with stale, close inside air and hot tea. I hadn't cried yet that morning, but it would come. It always did. I felt guilty. I felt as if I should not be sad. We were blessed. Why mourn one person, I wondered, when there is so much to be thankful for?

Then I asked myself the question again as I walked next to Jonathan. Why mourn Charlotte? Because she is a person. Or was. She was breath, life, veins, a heart beating within a tiny chest. My whole world. All of the items I am grateful for on this first Thanksgiving without her are just that: items. Of course I am thankful for clothes, shelter, food, financial security, friends and family, but no one is Charlotte and nothing can replace her. I carried her within me for 38 weeks. For a short time she was me. Charlotte's death ripped a hole so wide in my soul I couldn't find the edges to mend the wound if I wanted to.

We continued walking, hardly speaking. We didn't have anything to say to each other. The space between us was raw with grief and wanting. I pulled my jacket tighter and thought about the heavy expectations of being thankful. I couldn't imagine sitting around the table with my family and voicing what I was thankful for this year when my turn came, but I could whisper to myself: I am grateful for the 38 weeks I carried Charlotte within me. I am thankful for sweet baby kicks and hard little fists against the tight drum of a fully expanded belly. I am thankful for the memory of her downy head in my hand as she was born. 

Eventually I will be thankful for everything I learn from Charlotte's short life – especially, but not limited to, how easy it is to forget no one is ours to keep forever – but that will come much later in the grief process. On this frigid Thanksgiving morning I'm still walking in the wilderness of the first year.

As I shuffled through the park next to Jonathan, my feet wrapped in two pairs of socks and stuffed into winter boots, I watched Isabel strain against the leash, desperate to be free. The hymn “How Great Thou Art” floated through my mind. It is one of my favorite hymns, but that morning two particular lines echoed through my mind:

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;

I felt comforted by the reminder that God knows the pain and grief I carry in my heart. He knows this Thanksgiving isn't what we hoped or planned for. He understands our burdened hearts. I am not ready to cry out to Him, but a little of the weight that crashed into my chest the day Charlotte died lifts. I am not yet light enough to spring from the ground and land in that eagle's nest, unfettered and calm, but I am able to lean into Jonathan, gulp breaths of fresh, frozen air and acknowledge that somehow being alive, even without Charlotte, is something to be thankful for.

Jonathan and I spent the rest of the holiday together, but apart. We spent most of the first year after Charlotte died like that: existing in the same house, but hardly seeing each other. Our grief took up so much space in the house there was barely room for us. By Thanksgiving we were weary of repeating the same words and phrases over and over so we spent much of our time in silence, quietly grieving and processing our loss.

The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas dragged. I was dreading Christmas. I had decorations in the attic, but I didn't ask Jonathan to get them out. We didn't buy a tree. I didn't host a Christmas cookie party. We had been trying to conceive since September. I thought I would be pregnant again, but was not, and missing so much of what I expected led me to a dark, bitter place.

I committed to one hour with each side of the family on Christmas. I thought it was necessary and important to go, but didn't understand how or when I agreed to the plan. Attending Christmas meant bringing gifts and I had only recently been able to grocery shop by myself. How would I manage busy stores teeming with holiday shoppers, deciding what to buy the people on my list, wrapping and remembering the gifts?

I transferred my stress about the holidays and three long months of trying to conceive (not very long at all in retrospect!) to food. I didn't eat much after Charlotte died, even though emotional eating has always been a comfortable resting place for me during times of extreme stress, but in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas I more than made up for my earlier lack.

On top of holiday stress and trying to conceive stress there were small remainders of Charlotte's life to be dealt with. We were nearly finished paying the bills we incurred when Charlotte died, (thanks in no small part to generous family, friends and strangers) but there were a few loose ends.

In late November I gathered my strength and wits, settled into my favorite spot by the fire, and called a billing agency. I didn't like making these calls before Charlotte died, but I pawned so much onto Jonathan's shoulders I didn't feel comfortable adding another task.

There were two thick folders on my lap: one marked 'C Records,' one marked ' C Medical Statements/Bills.' When I labeled these folders the grief was still so raw I couldn't bear writing out her full name. I couldn't face writing her name on a folder stuffed with papers I didn't understand, or wish to acknowledge, when I would never write her name on a birthday invitation, school form or Christmas present.

I was immediately put on hold while the customer service representative looked up my claim. I flipped through the papers cautiously while I waited. Cautiously because I didn't want to accidentally open the folder to a page, or pages, about Charlotte's final moments. As I sifted through the papers my fingers caught on two slippery pages at the back. I hesitated for a second before I slid the papers out. At the back of the medical statements/bills folder were two ultrasound pictures.

I held them in my hands, then spread them flat in front of me, the fact that I was on hold forgotten. The pictures were from February 10th, 2010, when we visited the specialist with concerns about Charlotte's heart (which, ironically, was fine). The second picture is Charlotte's face in profile. Written across the top are the words, “Hi, Mom and Dad!” I inhaled sharply and leaned so far forward my nose almost touched the ultrasound picture. My back nearly snapped in half from the weight of sudden memory. I placed my palm against her tiny face. “Oh my sweet girl, oh my heart, I miss you,” I cried.

I don't remember when the customer service representative resumed our conversation. I don't know if I held it together while I concluded our business, or if I cried. I stared at Charlotte's profile while finishing the call then set the phone aside. I tucked my feet under me, ultrasound photo in my hand, and stared into the fire.

After Charlotte died I hid everything that reminded me of her. I shoved ultrasound pictures, baby books, baby clothes and anything else that tugged at my heart and reminded me of what should have been in whichever drawer or closet was nearest. Despite the shock that settled over me when I saw Charlotte's profile, a small piece of my heart was glad I tucked, shoved and hid her things away because six and a half months after she died it was possible for me to find her at the back of the silverware drawer, behind a book in the living room, shuffled in with medical papers at the back of a folder. When I least expected it, and perhaps when I needed it most - weeks before our first Christmas without her - there Charlotte was, saying hello.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

it's berry season! (aka: how to exhaust your toddler)

This morning we went berry picking before the weather warmed up too much. J found this great little place (Haven Hill Farm) out South that we will definitely go back to. The owners are really laid back and nice. They don't care if your toddler runs around eating as many berries as he can stuff in his mouth while you pick. And they run a self serve farm so their hours are really flexible (6am-9pm!)

We were there early enough (thanks for waking up at 6, B!) to have quick, easy access to raspberries and blueberries. The blueberry bushes were so full and ripe they were crazy easy to pick. I picked raspberries for a while then sat myself down beneath a blueberry bush and picked for a while.

It was nice not having to worry about B too much. If he wandered down to the parking area (all the berries were on a hill, which is a great use of land, but not so good for this pregnant lady) we had to turn him around, but he spent most of his time wandering and eating close by.

Have I told you how much I love Oregon? Well, not all of Oregon, this area specifically. We have great access to fresh, local foods and I love how city and rural living co-exist here. On the way home we stopped at a new natural grocery store in town to see if they had pectin (we have some jam making to do!) and I complained to J about having to decide which natural store to shop at. I probably should just count my blessings that I live in a place where one can pick berries early in the morning then stop on the way home to pick up some pectin and ghee (seriously, ghee. what is becoming of us?).

B fell asleep on the way home, around noon, and is still asleep on the couch (I think we're coming up on the three hour mark!) Apparently a belly full of berries and sunshine equals one exhausted toddler.

Friday, June 28, 2013

bup! { and oh symphony giveaway winner}

The winner of the Oh Symphony lullaby CD giveaway is #11: Cassidy. Email me at with your email address and I will send you the link to download it. Sweet Symphony Mae (that name! so beautiful and creative) was born yesterday. Mama and baby are doing well. You can purchase Ty and Julianna's lullaby CD HERE. It's really, really good, definitely worth $10.00.


All day long, and at night too sometimes, B wants "bup." Little man is really, really into his daddy, which is as it should be, right?

J has been so amazing this pregnancy. He comes home from work and dives right into spending time with B. J takes B outside to work on projects, on walks and to the hardware store so I can crash on the couch for a little while. He changes diapers, reads books, helps with the laundry and dishes and doesn't complain when I don't cook dinner because I'm too tired.

J has been working really hard lately so I wanted to take a moment to thank him. This parenting gig would be a thousand times harder without his help.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

kitchen adventures: homemade fruit snacks / energy bites {allergy friendly}

I wanted to make B homemade fruit snacks, but there were some hurdles to face first:

- I needed grass-fed gelatin (what the what is that?!)

- I didn't know how to use the juicer 

Once the gelatin was sourced - online, by J - I asked how to use the juicer. J laughed and said it was easy, did I really need him to show me?

Well no, no I don't, thank you very much, sir.

This morning B and I went to the store then prepared ourselves to make homemade fruit snacks. One thing J did not take into consideration: I'm pregnant. And pregnancy makes me a little stupid.

I couldn't figure out how to turn the juicer on.

I put it all together, I understood the mechanics of it, but the on button was missing from our model.

I had to watch a YouTube video to figure out how to turn the darn juicer on. (Why am I admitting this?)

Once I learned that the button was at the back on the very bottom (the guy on YouTube was a little confused too) I did just fine.

From there it was pretty easy. Well, I had to Google "what is compote?" to make sure my definition matched that of the general population, but overall I did fine.

And the fruit snacks are good! B is meh about them, but I am determined to make him like them. We popped in for a quick doctor visit this morning (B has a mysterious one sided rash next to his mouth that will not clear up) and heard the best news: B has gained 1 lb since April and the doctor is pleased - hear that, pleased!! - with his progress. If I can get gelatin in this boy we may actually hit 20 lbs by the time he's 2.

When J came home from work - more like stopped in, that man is working so hard right now on so many projects - he noticed the cleaned juicer next to the sink.

"Hey!! You juiced!"

"Well, I made a little orange juice for those homemade fruit snacks. I didn't really juice."

"I didn't think you would actually do it without me!"

Then I did this really embarrassing hands on hips head bob thing that comes out sometimes when I don't know what to say, but feel the need to project a little attitude.

I showed him, didn't I?

On to the next adventure, which was really easy in comparison: Vegan Gluten-Free Energy Bites. I made these once. J found a different homemade granola bar for me to try later this week. Wait, it's Thursday? Make that next week. I like this recipe, but it uses oats and we're trying to wean off the grains. I might try making it again with quinoa flakes because B loves it so much.

It only took me a few minutes to throw this recipe together. I cut out the hemp seeds (didn't have any) and cacao powder (didn't have it until it showed up with the gelatin).

Up next: homemade marshmallows and the granola bars I mentioned above.

In case you missed it: Homemade Fruit Snack Recipe HERE

And Vegan Gluten-Free Energy Bites HERE

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

22 weeks

I'm soooooooooooooooo tired. I had to crop my face out because I look quite exhausted and worn out. This is mostly my fault because I stayed up until 11:45 last night writing, but I'm placing some blame on the baby's shoulders. I'm back to writing, which always feels good, but I need more hours in the day.

My brain is useless. I missed a dental appointment on Monday because I wrote it down for July 24. I asked a friend to watch B on the 14th of July, a Sunday, so I could go to a prenatal appointment. When she replied that she was out of town that weekend, and was it normal for my doctor's office to do Sunday appointments?? I realized the appointment is on the 12th and J will be home that day so I don't actually need help.

We have a couple trips coming up, all of which require bringing food for B of course. I have three different packing lists going right now. Well, I did, until I lost two of them. I am trying lots of new recipes as we prepare for our trips. One is a family reunion which I have helped plan and since we hope to roast marshmallows I am determined to make ones B can eat.

B is up from his nap and in the space of three minutes he has drawn on the bedspread with ink pen and captured my phone. I shouldn't have put him down for an early nap, but he was tired after a busy morning at the library (pretty sure fire codes were broken this morning. our library needs a bigger (and cooler) room for story time). Now it's 2:00 and I have no idea what we'll do for the next two hours. The weather has been terrible so we've been spending a lot of time inside, but this is Oregon and tomorrow we are expected to transition from 60 and rainy to 85 and boiling. B found another pen. Now I really have to go.

Don't forget to enter to win a fabulous new lullaby album!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

oh symphony {giveaway}

My cousin Julianna and her husband Tyson have been working on a lullaby album for a while. Julianna is a little bit overdue with their daughter Symphony (we can't wait to meet you, baby girl) and this album is all about their love for her.

It's really good. Bennett and I have been listening to it over and over. My favorite song is their version of You Are My Sunshine. They wrote a sweet third verse in memory of Charlotte; I love it.

And I have a digital copy to give away to one lucky reader!

Leave a comment, I'll pick a winner Friday.

You can purchase the album on iTunes.

PS: If you follow this blog in Google Reader you can switch over to Bloglovin if you like!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

hester comes for a visit

Hester is a sweet little doll made by a dear friend. She is traveling the world to raise awareness about stillbirth, infant loss and the group SANDS. When I heard about the project I thought it was a great idea and hoped Hester could stop by to see us.

Hester is traveling with a journal each family records their week in - pictures included! When I sat down to read the journal the day we received her I cried. There are so many beautiful families all over the world missing babies.

Bennett wasn't sure about Hester at first, but he eventually warmed up to her. He really liked the ladybug on her hat. Hester's next stop on her journey is Japan. You can donate to SANDS and read more about Hester's adventures HERE.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

less than present

I've been floating in the fog. I am so far behind on blogs it's shameful. When I have a spare minute I fall asleep on the couch, or read a book, or watch television with J. Every few days I have to force myself to sit down and respond to emails. When that's done I usually resume reading (blessed escape) whatever book I am currently devouring. I am determined to read all of the "big" spring and summer books. Well, the ones I can stomach, that is.

This evening I realized the "Right Where I Am Project" is happening again. Has been happening for a while actually. I don't know if I'll participate this year. I don't know where I am this year. Like I said, it's foggy. I think some withdrawal is natural when expecting again. I have to protect my heart a little. It's usual fragility is thinner than normal as I process having another girl.

This just so happens to be a very busy time in B's life as well. Most days I'm so busy chasing him down I forget about the sweet girl who will bless us with her noise before too long until she reminds me of her existence with a few solid thumps. B is thriving. He's still a tiny one - white flag is up on that battle - but he is sleeping well at night (though I am not) and learning new things every minute. In the past few days he's learned the words hands, house, home, yan (for his cousin Ryan) hipp (hippo) and rhine (rhino). B can also string together words to form sentences like, "what is this?" which is fun, but sometimes maddening. Today he was running around with hipp pretending to give him sips of water from his water bottle. He is so marvelous and wonderful and sweet, but very, very busy.

I feel a little guilty about paying less attention right now. I know there is a drifting to all of this. I know I can't be neck deep in loss all the time. That there are wonderful people who take on that role and do well in it. But I would like to find the energy to connect a little more in the near future. And I would like to get back to my writing soon. So much has fallen by the wayside lately, which always happens in the spring, but now the season is turning to summer and I'm not sure why I can't quite carry on as I have in years past. Exhaustion is constant lately, but that's only going to worsen, so I should take advantage of this semi-consciousness which will soon seem like stunningly beautiful wakefulness.

Baby girl is busy, busy, busy and I am tired, tired, tired. Pregnancy insomnia is a cruel, cruel joke. Hopefully I will sleep tonight and have endless energy tomorrow. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

if you want to cry ...

... decide on a whim to search through the baby girl clothes in the attic.

As you pull each item out you'll remember:

your baby shower.

your "last trip before baby comes" to Seattle where you bought the sweetest Gap coat on clearance.

The moment you found the tiny pink sweatshirt with the tiny bird on it that you couldn't wait to dress her in.

How you felt when you bought those sweet summer dresses. How you imagined what she would look like while wearing them on the few truly hot Oregon days.

The feeling you carried - and perhaps still do - that everything you had for her was wrong somehow. That if only you had prepared better she would be here. 

The time you asked your sister how tights on a baby worked. "Do I put the tights on then the diaper?" you asked. Your sister looked at you for a second then said, "Well, I haven't had a girl yet, but I would probably put the tights on after the diaper." And how you laughed so hard you nearly cried, because of course you would put the diaper on first silly, tired, brain fogged pregnant lady.

How you asked your mom and sister to help you set up the nursery, and then your oldest sister and sister-in-law came as well. Everyone wiped down walls, washed, folded and put away tiny baby clothes and then went out for pizza because it was all you wanted to eat.


It hurts, it actually physically hurts, like someone is pushing on my heart, to realize a lot of those clothes won't be worn by this new little one. Most of them are not the right season. I am holding out hope for that sweet cream Gap coat. I put so many dreams into it, and I remember burying my face in it and sobbing after Charlotte died.

There are a few outfits tucked away in Charlotte's memory box. I can think of at least one sleeper I would like to use for this new baby, but I'm not sure I will.

I wonder: how does one find the way when preparing to meet a baby the same gender as the one that died? I suppose it's similar to the path one steps out on after losing a baby: it's rocky and dark, and one feels lost most of the time, but somehow one awkwardly and gracelessly manages to navigate the trail.

And I suppose it makes a difference to know what can come after. To have nearly two years of parenting a living child behind me. Maybe having that knowledge makes all of this - pregnancy and birth - easier somehow. I can get through this because I know what is possible now. Birth doesn't always end in a tiny urn above the fireplace with a red velvet bag of ashes. Most of the time - thank the Lord - the newborn clothes are washed and worn, the nursery is prepared and used and the baby you dreamed about lives to create their own dreams.

Saturday, June 15, 2013


When B was a few months old I bought a newborn dress for the girl I hoped to raise someday. Of course it's a summer dress and this little one will be born in late October.

I want to share my excitement about having another little girl with EVERYONE - including strangers.

I hope this baby isn't born on Halloween. I don't like Halloween at all.

I am terrible at making B pick up his toys.

We ate out almost every night the week of Charlotte's birthday. I don't do much of anything that week: household chores, laundry, cooking. It takes two or so weeks to dig out and reorganize after it's passed.

I'm so glad I married someone who can do things that are way, way beyond my skill set. This morning J made sandals for B. I have a pair of Keens for him, but J wanted something less chunky and closer to a barefoot shoe so he went online, found a place to buy a kittraced B's feet, cut the sandals out and picked a way to lace them (he was going to have a strap for his toe, but thought B would find it uncomfortable). It was incredible to watch. Making B sandals is so far beyond anything I would attempt. I would go to the website, think, huh, cool idea, then keep using his Keens. Oh wait, I wouldn't even look the website up in the first place ...

Hopefully we can leave the sandals a little long so B can use them for an extended period of time. He ran around in the backyard this morning without tripping or catching the edge.

I've gained 18 pounds in 20 weeks. Even with nausea and throwing up (which mostly seems to be over). I've never been one to eat in the middle of the night during pregnancy, but this baby is a hungry one. I'm a little worried I'll gain more than 30 pounds this time, but this is my third baby (and I weaned a couple months in) so maybe that's just the way it goes.

I love alphabet flash cards. We have three sets, but I want at least two more. There was a great vintage style set we carried at the bookstore, which I can't find anywhere, that I would love to add to the collection, and I want a girly set for the new baby.

Yesterday afternoon B napped in his room for an hour, then did his sleep dance to mama's lap routine, where he slept two more hours. I love it when he does that. I get to pretend he's still a baby while enjoying guilt free reading time (I just blazed through Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan. Really good. A little trashy  - lots of fashion and, obviously, very rich people - but informative and interesting. It transported me to a different place. I loved it).

Friday, June 14, 2013

20 weeks: then and now

If you're an artist or graphic designer this lazy collage is going to make you twitch. BUT I am neither artist nor graphic designer. I'm a lazy pregnant mama who wanted to see a side by side of my babies at 20 weeks.

Let's be honest: I just look awkward while pregnant with Charlotte. I was wearing a maternity shirt beneath two non-maternity shirts. Not a good look, sister.

With Bennett I was carrying a lot higher. I like my hair that length ... it kind-of makes me want to go short again ...

And with this peanut I'm carrying low. I always thought Charlotte was low, but this bean seems quite a bit lower.

When I first looked at these pictures I almost replaced my 20 week with Charlotte for the 22 week picture, but I'm all about honesty and accurate representation. I think I look like a completely different person now, but maybe that's just my hair - and perspective.

We're still waffling on the name. I love all the feedback we're receiving. Thankfully we still have lots of time to decide. I had my 20 week prenatal today, all looks well. Thanks for supporting and cheering me on through this pregnancy. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

remember today

I was not my best today. Thomas was on and I was asleep on the couch before 8 am. I lost my patience and snapped at B more than once (get. off. the. table. NOW!). I couldn't get B to settle down for a nap, though he did manage 40 minutes of play time alone in his room. I had to go in twice to let him know his time wasn't up yet (he knocks on the door repeatedly when he's had enough) but it's the first time he's settled in for quiet play time in his room with the door closed without losing his ever loving mind.

At 3:00 we were both done. B was tired and he hadn't been out of the house all day. I was tired and not feeling well (morning sickness is back with a vengeance). I knew we had more time to kill than we normally do before J came home (I love that his work day ends at 4:00 most days) so I picked B up and settled him on the couch next to me. I talked to him about how sorry I was, how mamas get tired too blah de blah blah blah. When I ended my speech with, "sorry little man, will you forgive my poor attitude today?" I realized he was snoring.

I curled up next to him for a while - baby girl kicking like mad, which made it hard to sleep - then crawled over him to start dinner. When I peeked into the living room to check on him I had to snap a few pictures.

I want to remember this afternoon. I want to remember the chaos, the strewn toys, the laundry basket and that sweet little 21 month old passed out snoring on the couch after a serious toddler bender. Soon, too soon, I'm going to miss days like this.

When B woke up two hours later he was not in a better mood. Oh no, he was an absolute screaming terror when he woke. We had a rough evening followed by a late bedtime and now I'm writing this while eating a chocolate bar. But we made it through the day! And some days that feels like a little miracle. 

Monday, June 10, 2013


It didn't take nearly as long as I expected to settle on a name. We have two at the top of the list, but we're having a hard time deciding which one we prefer. I asked B his opinion, but he just said, "the bus!"

I'm sure I've explained why I want to share the name before birth, but I'll tell you again anyway. We decided to keep Charlotte's name a secret, but I regretted doing so when she died because I felt like friends and family weren't as connected with her. They didn't know her as Charlotte like we did. Now I want my babies to be known and spoken of as soon as possible just in case our time with them is limited.

Therefore I present our top two name choices:


Saturday, June 8, 2013

so ... it's a girl

I was pretty sure this babe was a girl. I had my gut feeling, which has been correct all three times. When I had a scan at 12 weeks the tech said if she guessed, which she does not, she would guess girl. At 16 weeks, when J did a quick scan, baby was curled up in a ball and then I looked up at the screen and said, "Oh! Three lines, just like with Charlotte! That's a girl!" And yesterday the tech confirmed (99.9% sure) that we are, indeed, having another girl.

When we found out Bennett's gender I was by myself and I cried through the entire ultrasound. I thought I might cry when we officially knew it was a girl, but I didn't. I just feel really, really, really happy. If it's possible I want to carry the happy feelings through the rest of this pregnancy.

This is difficult to admit, but I haven't connected with this baby. I haven't put my heart into it because I didn't want to get hurt. But now? I'm all in. Last night all I could think was, "I can't wait to meet this baby!!" 19 long weeks into this pregnancy I finally feel connected and in love with our little girl.

I want to enjoy the remainder of this pregnancy. I want to be excited about labor (um, as excited as you one can be about excruciating pain) and delivery. I don't want to be afraid, or worried or so busy protecting myself from hurt I fail to enjoy this baby - the last one.

J and I were laughing and talking on the long drive home and I realized it's been a long time since I've felt so unburdened. I don't know if it's possible to release all of the fear and worry so I can rest in joy and peace, but I'm going to try. Trauma is tricky. I know that. I've lived within it for quite some time now. It tends to knock you down when you least expect it, which means a big crash could be coming, but I'd like to stop living in anticipation of the crash. I want to start living in anticipation of how beautiful our lives will be in a few short months when we have two sweet children to raise.

I think this is part of going forward. I think I have to allow myself to let go a little bit. Releasing the negative emotions doesn't mean forgetting. I have to make room for a third baby. I have to clear space to focus on raising the ones who are here. And I have to let go of the fear that doing so means loving Charlotte less. My first girl is planted so firmly within me I can't lose her. It doesn't work that way. I can shift her over, make room for new life, but she always has her home within my mama heart.

Yesterday we went to dinner then stopped at the hardware store. When we left there were birds flying around a GMC truck. "Hey look at that bird sitting on the 'C'" I said to J. A few seconds later I thought to myself If I believed in signs I would take that as a big, fat be joyful! from heaven.  And then I decided, why not believe in signs, just this once?

So I'm going to enjoy what remains of this pregnancy.

We don't need to prepare much, but I am so excited about baby girl clothes!! I sold most of Charlotte's clothes to buy things for Bennett, which means I have some shopping to do. I've bought a few things, but I can't wait to fill the other half of B's closet with all the pink I can find.

We also need to agree on a name. Mediation may be needed for this one. We had a girl name, a boy name, a second maybe boy name, but few options for another girl name. Once we know I'll share it.

Friday, June 7, 2013

it's a ...

Healthy baby girl! We got one picture and then the balloon popped. Not the picture I imagined, but beautiful all the same. And that makes me three for three on knowing the gender of my babies.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

food! (it's all I can think about)

You know how much I hate cooking. As I develop my skills it gets a little easier, but most of the time I don't enjoy it. Having a toddler with food allergies has forced me to cook a lot more often than I would like, which I hate, but on the positive side of things, it's also made us eat a little healthier.

J is doing really well with cutting back on sugars and eating well. Me on the other hand ... Well, I'm pregnant. I had a dream about Oreo cookies last night which resulted in a 9 am shopping trip. I'm hungry all the time right now and I want to eat bad, bad things. Bennett is absolutely fascinated by my Cheez-It obsession (shameful). He calls the Cheez-Its mama (really shameful).

Our kitchen is too small for us to attain true self sufficient food production. I'm not even sure I want to go that far, but J keeps nudging the Paleo diet my way and eventually I won't be able to say, "I'm pregnant, not right now." This especially applies to the topic of liver meat, which he keeps bringing up. I know it would be great for B, but I can barely handle chicken. Right now we're about halfway to where we want to end up eventually. We have a garden, we eat fairly well, we're slowly changing our ways. 

I struggle with how we eat and what we eat. I worry that I'm not providing the best food for my family. We cut way back on pasta, but now that I'm pregnant we're eating it a couple times a month and every time we do I feel a little guilty. Sugar is a big issue for me, especially when I'm pregnant. Especially now that I can have eggs again. I think about food, recipes and menus a lot, but a lot of my time is spent finding foods for B, making food for B and preparing meals for the family. 

We used to eat tacos quite often, but the prepackaged seasoning and corn shells or flour tortillas won't work for B. This evening I made tacos from scratch - with J helping on the tortilla front - and it went really, really well. B loved the gluten free tortillas (I was going to buy from the store, but they had eggs) and we did too. He liked it even with lettuce, goat cheese and seasoned hamburger inside. For the seasoning I made a mix I found online. I was apprehensive about the seasoning, but it was good. And it had barely any salt and no MSG.

B and I picked strawberries from the garden for dessert. I added grapes and raspberries to make a fruit plate and we ended dinner with handfuls of fruit and happy bellies. After putting together a fairly easy dinner with zero iffy ingredients I feel pretty good about where we're heading and how we're doing but I'm sure I'll be back to crying over pasta in a few days.

Do you struggle with what and how you feed your family?

Gluten free flour tortilla recipe found HERE (I used coconut palm sugar instead of brown sugar and it tasted great!)

Taco seasoning recipe found HERE

Monday, June 3, 2013

gentle sleep training tips

My first tip is to ignore all books / articles / your friends.

Except me.

I'm not going to tell you our method is perfect, or the best, but if you have a stubborn sleeper like ours, perhaps it will work for you. This post ended up being much longer than I expected, but maybe there's a tip or two that will help you and your little one.

Bennett is sleeping really well. Better than I thought possible considering we're only two weeks (plus a little change) into the process. He is napping better as well, which is wonderful and what I desperately need right now.

On to the tips:

- Give your training method one solid week before giving up. I wanted to quit on night four, but we pushed through and things quickly improved. You will be so sleep deprived you will cry - and possibly scream at your spouse (sorry J) - but if you stick with it you will see results.

- Be consistent. Honestly, I think this is where we failed before. We would kind-of try a sleep training method, then get frustrated because we weren't sleeping at all and give up.

- Don't be afraid to adjust as you go. When the method we were trying didn't seem to be working we changed things up a little bit, but remained consistent, and that's when everything fell into place.

- Figure out what your family can live with. For us getting up once or twice a night for 5-10 minutes to settle Bennett is manageable. (I'm up three times a night to use the bathroom anyway).

- Don't change everything at once. I still rock Bennett to sleep for naps. I offer him the choice to go to sleep on his bed or be rocked. He always points to the chair and says, "Mama rock."

- Provide lots of daytime comfort and snuggles. Bennett has been very affectionate and in need of more cuddles during the day now that we are no longer co-sleeping. He's always enjoyed snuggling, but his need has definitely increased. One morning J brought him up to snuggle in bed with me. After a few minutes I asked if he wanted a waffle. He said no and asked for more snuggles. I have never known Bennett to refuse a waffle before, but I didn't mind a few more minutes of cuddle time.

- Routine is important and imperative to success. At night we do bath, pajamas, brush teeth, read books (the same three books in the same order every night) turn out the light, pray, sing (the same three songs every night) give kisses, leave the room. Bennett knows exactly what is coming and by the third book he is usually calm and ready for sleep.

- Create a nice sleeping environment. We use white noise to help Bennett sleep and we keep his room really dark because studies have shown that even a small amount of light disrupts sleep (,,20193991,00.html).

- Figure out what works for your child. For Bennett introducing a toddler bed made a huge difference. He loves climbing in and out of his bed. He likes the independence of his own space. Bennett absolutely hated being confined to a crib, but it took us a long time to understand that. If you do switch to a toddler bed make sure the room is toddler proof. We have the bookcase attached to the wall, all lotions and creams up high, a floor free of obstacles, clips to loop the blind strings high on the wall and outlet covers in place. Bennett isn't the type to get up and play with his toys, or wander his room, but we wanted to cover all of our bases just in case.

- Use cue words. Nap time is rest or quiet time. Night time is sleepy time. I use the phrases every single day because I think it helps Bennett understand what is expected of him.'

- Be firm. The first few days I was sweet and kind. Every time Bennett woke I would go in, rub his back, tell him we loved him and that he was safe ... etc. After a few nights we were in the middle of a bad spell (he had been up something like five times) and I marched into his room, put him in his bed and sternly said, "This is unacceptable. It's the middle of the night, you need to sleep." He slept the rest of the night in his bed.

- Talk about your sleep training methods to your child and around your child. The first week I talked constantly about sleeping in the big boy bed, sleeping all night, doing a good job to Bennett and tried to keep my conversations with J about sleep training positive (unless Bennett was in bed). I've toned it down a bit, but I still praise Bennett every morning and make sure I mention how well he's doing to other people.

- Build in rewards. Bennett is a little young to understand the concept of rewards, but I still have a little system going. After a few days of sleep training we went to Target where he picked out a sheet for his new bed. And last week we had a special baking day together to celebrate how well he is doing with the big change.

- Create your own method from a variety of sources. You're the one who knows your child and what he or she needs.

- Accept where you end up. Bennett wakes between 6 and 6:30 every morning, which is earlier than I would like, BUT he is sleeping through the night or only waking one-two times. Overall, this is much better than where we were a few weeks ago.

You can read more about the process here and here.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

picture books!

I don't know if I trained Bennett to love reading, or if he just loves to read. Either way, we read a lot. Bennett is very, very busy, but he will sit down and read for a long time. We read forty-five minutes or more every day and go to the library at least once a week to pick out new books (and play).  We read so much I actually get a little tired of it (imagine that!)

We own a lot of books, but I can't stop buying more. I also have this little problem where I go to thrift stores every few months and buy stacks of picture books. I have a long list of books I want to add to Bennett's library.

Here is my short list of books to buy soon. The long one is too intense to share:

I would love all of the Elephant and Piggie books, but we don't have a lot of shelf space left.

I miss working at the book store where I had access to glossy publisher catalogs full of picture books. I'm afraid I'll miss out on something now that I'm out of the loop!

What's your favorite picture book? What book is your little one in love with right now? What should I add to our collection?


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