Saturday, February 16, 2013

Ailie Eden at Six Months

Happy six months to our lovely, loveable, joy-filled baby A.

I still have moments when I look at you and can't quite believe you are ours.

You are radiant, baby girl.  Thank you for blessing us everyday with your smile. 

And your fabulous hair.

Thank you for the quiet, stolen moments with you.

Thank you for tolerating your brother's antics with good humor and cheer.

Believe me: he loves you.

Thank you for our inside jokes.

Thank you for melting your Daddy's heart daily.  Someday you'll learn this: it's a miracle to witness, the man you love falling for his baby daughter.

Thank you for all that you are, right here and right now.

Mama and Daddy and Hendrik love you, sweet girl.  Happy six months.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


I've mentioned this before, but I'm on a mission to become the healthiest HomeValley, and I'm blogging about it here.

I'll still be updating QITNM, but would love for you to visit me at

Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Mom Stays in the Picture.

We got family photos done last Saturday.  Here is a sneak peek:

Have you read this?  I think about this ALL THE TIME.  I think the title of the article has become my new mantra.  I find myself repeating it in my head any time I feel uncomfortable with my body.

The mom stays in the picture.

And looking through the shots of our family - at this point in time - well, we are genuinely happy, numbers on a scale be damned.  I look at my face and I don't see extra baby weight.

I see JOY.  Pure joy. 

Why would I ever not allow a camera to capture that?


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Two Months

I never wanted a girl.

That's not to say that I did not want a girl.  I just never pined for a daughter.  I figured I'd be a great mama of boys, and if I had a daughter, wonderful!  If not, I was okay with that.  I didn't need the frilly dresses and bows, the fairy princesses, and the teenage drama.  My life would still be complete.

I was utterly, completely mistaken.

Though I sensed that Ailie was a girl early on in my pregnancy, I never really expected her.  J and I were quite stunned when she arrived, all nearly ten pounds of her, a shock of black hair atop her head.  They put her on my chest and she didn't cry initially.  She just looked, and I held her, stammering through my tears: "I can't believe it's a girl!  I can't believe it."

Those first two nights in the hospital - with both of my children - were pure magic.  Despite all of the other less-than-delightful things I was going through as my body began the recovery process, I just stared at my babies and thanked God and smiled and cried and thought about how miraculous this whole process is.  Plus, since we elected not to find out the sex, I began to adjust to the idea of our new life and dynamic. 

Today, you are two months old, BG.  From the moment you were born, precious Ailie Eden, I think daily (and say almost as often to your father): I can't believe we are so lucky to have this girl.  I can't believe we have a boy and a girl.  I can't believe we get to experience both. 

Every day, you amaze me.  You were born smiling and now you smile constantly.  You coo and speak and hold your head up like a champion.  You melt hearts with your big grin, your perfectly round face, your huge blue eyes.  Those cheeks!  That fabulous hair!  You are a revelation, my love.

Barely eight weeks old, and you are already teaching me many things.  I am reconsidering the woman I want to be for you.  I want to be healthy, accomplished, involved, and self-confident.  I want your dad and I to be an example of a strong and loving marriage for you and your brother.  I want to right the missteps I may have made in the past, and show you that you can be anything you wish to be.  In the distant future, I want to be the inspiration for you to do whatever it is that makes you happy.  I want you to be limitless. 

I want you to know that you make your father and me so happy.  We love to snuggle your warm little body as you wiggle and snort and stretch.  You are lovely and perfect. 


Those delicious cheeks.

Falling asleep during tummy time, you fantastic angel.
Your ridiculous bedhead.

Relaxing with Dad.

Humoring Mom.

With your bro, who adores you these days.

Thanks for these last two months of newborn bliss, Ailie.  We can't wait to see what's next.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Hey Y'all!


Yes, I am still alive.  Doing quite well, just busy as all get out.  Seriously?  Two kids?  No JOKE.  Some of you may already be aware of this, but I even forget to pee most of the time.  I'm all, remember two hours ago, when I meant to run to the bathroom?  And then I remind myself that it is okay to put down the baby and pee; just do it lightning quick, lest the toddler chucks a car at her delicate head.

(Yep, that happened.  And I lost my mind and starting sobbing.  Things are better now, I swear.)

So I have approximately a second before one of these little miracles wakes up.  A few things:

  • H started preschool. PRESCHOOL. He goes twice a week for five hours a day. He has had three FANTASTIC days and one day where he bit a dude and pinched the other kids' bellies for no reason. That was a stressful day; but he's coming around. He has "goals" (Be gentle! No hitting!) and he now carries around papers ripped from his coloring books, scribbling on them and muttering about said goals. Last week, he asked his 20 month-old buddy: "Christopher? What are your goals?" My heart could explode with love for him.

This shot was taken shortly before he tried to throw his sister down the front steps. 

He perked up though.
  • He knows more about pop music than any other two year-old on this planet.  Seriously, somebody get this kid on Ellen.  He is a man obsessed: each time a new song plays on the radio or the iPhone, he demands: "Who sings dis song?"  And once told, he repeats to himself, "Edward Sharpe sings dis song."  And then he never forgets that.  Ever.  To date, he can correctly identify Pink, Rihanna, Neo, Edward Sharpe, The Lumineers, Johnny Cash, "5 Maroon", Taylor Swift, "Jepsen" (for Carly Rae Jepsen), Jason Mraz, Gavin DeGraw, and likely some I'm forgetting.  My boy is wicked smart. 
  • Ailie Eden is a dream.  She is so expressive and smiley and lovely, despite the fact that, this weekend, she started balding and developed an awful case of baby acne.  So despite looking like a middle-aged man/pubescent teenager at present, she is the most gorgeous lady that was every birthed.  Naturally.  She is also not quite fitting into big bro's cloth diapers (which are essentially destroyed, despite my best intentions) and so she poops and pees on me regularly.  It's still wonderful. 
  • I've been cheating on you guys, a bit.  Check out my new venture, , which is a fitness/lifestyle type thingie.  I don't know exactly where I am headed with it yet, and the look of the site is also under major construction.  But I feel compelled to write about health and wellness and exercise and finances and happiness and pop music, so I thought I better start a new blog in that vein.  Thanks for reading!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

This is Your Life Now.

Hey! I had a baby two weeks ago today.  At this time on August 16th, I was getting contractions that were only mildly uncomfortable!  

Oh, labor: how I don't miss you at all.

The amazing Ailie is adjusting well to the world.  She sleeps a whole lot during the day; and a bunch at night too. We're doing a few good 2 - 3 hour stretches, with an hour or so of delicious alert time through the evenings.  She is wetting and stinking up diapers like a true champion, and breastfeeding is going great this time around.  I busted out the nipple shields for one day only; and then the girls just adapted.  My heartfelt thanks, girls.  

I hear often that girl babes are a bit easier than boys, and up to this point, I would have to concur.  We are now at the two-week mark and I'm on edge waiting for a complete personality change.  So far, so good.  She's a doll, and we adore her.

Her bro is... adjusting.  He seems to like her alright, but he's very grabby and sometimes smothers her and JC, when did his head get SO BIG?  He asks a million times per day to "see baby", which always involves manhandling baby.  I play a lot of defense.  It's frustrating.  It's difficult to be patient when you're perpetually sleepy.  But we're trying.  I know this is a huge adjustment for him; and so far today has been much better than the days prior.  

I'm recovering too.  In fact, this recovery is much easier than the last.  I've kept my postpartum tears at bay, only really feeling the urge to cry a few times since Ailie came into our world.  (And this was mostly because I watched A League of Their Own, which is a movie I decided I now fucking hate as it made me horribly cranky and distraught.  What were you thinking, Dottie?  The game made you come alive!  And then The Scene with Betty Spaghetti, you guys.  And then suddenly, we blink and everyone is 80 and all the husbands and Jimmy Dugan are dead.  I just had a beautiful baby girl, and now I have to lament that her life will fly by in an instant?  Thanks a lot, Penny Marshall.  And the final kicker: Madonna starts singing that maudlin tune that gets stuck in your head for 18 years.  The end.)

(Sorry.  That movie really messed me up last weekend.)

Where was I?  Physically, I'm feeling great.  I can't wait to get out there and start exercising again.  I've lost 26 pounds thus far.  My belly is rapidly shrinking.  I have no idea when I shall stop wearing maternity tanks; or when my rings will fit again, but still.  Oh!  And I drank some pumpkin ale beers.  They were as glorious as I remembered.    

So things are going well.  I've been alone with the kiddos the last three days, and I've managed to hold down the fort and get H out of the house a bit.  I can't complain, though it's been fairly exhausting making sure H doesn't accidentally kill his sister.  I told J as much yesterday, to which he replied: "This is your life now."

Indeed.  And I wouldn't change a thing.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Ailie Eden

I started this post on the morning of the 16th:


Just: ugh.

I had my 39 week prenatal on Tuesday.  As I suspected: nothing doing.  Cervix completely closed, no dilation.  I mentioned to my doctor that I still sometimes suspect that Newbie's head is creeping up on my right side.  

When my doc examined me, she couldn't even FEEL the head, it was so high.  This was new.  She ordered an ultrasound on the spot to see if baby was in position.  I texted J that we were obviously having a headless child.  

Luckily, Newbs head is down, though where the hell is it in there?  I know I have a long torso; but damn, child - how high could you possibly be?  

Still feeling fine, the ultrasound tech of doom said, "Whoa!  I have the baby at NINE POUNDS AND THIRTEEN OUNCES."  

Two weeks ago, she clocked Newbie at 7-13.  

One would assume baby's head is so high because it is so ENORMOUS there is nowhere else for it to be.  

I left the room.  I was put in the hall so I could reconvene with the doc.  I promptly commenced crying.  

How am I supposed to deliver you, Newbs?

So my doctor and I discussed my options.  My due date was 8/19, and with no signs of labor AT ALL, plus the baby's position, she didn't believe an induction would be successful.  Factor in the projected size of our beloved, and terms like "shoulder dystocia" were tossed about.  I cried some more.

My doc assured me that sonograms were notoriously wrong when attempting to predict the baby's size, but she still thought Newbie was at least 8 1/2 pounds by now.  She assured me my baby was safe and sound, and that if I wanted to wait for labor to begin, I could.  But she didn't want me to wait too long.  I could schedule a c-section for Thursday (8/16) or Monday (8/20).  I'm still a bit flummoxed that a c-section is so easy to schedule.  Welp, this kid might be pretty large.  Slice me open!  

I struggled.  My first baby was 7 lbs, 13 ounces.  He was 10 days early, but still.  What was going on with this new kid?  What was the right thing to do?

After much thought and discussions with J, my mom, my sister-in-law, and Koos, I decided that I would wait until my due date to go into labor, but schedule the c-section for the following week in the meantime.  I scheduled my 40-week prenatal for Monday, 8/20, and the c-section for 8/21.  I reasoned that even if I didn't go into labor, my body would start working its magic by Monday's appointment, and I hoped an induction would then be possible.  (Even though in some respects, induction makes me more nervous than surgery.)

As I was working all of this out on Thursday morning, I noticed some changes had happened overnight.  I felt a telltale heaviness in my belly that hadn't been there the day before.  I told J about it that AM.  We were both pleased that I was making some progress.

The morning wore on, and as I was getting ready to hop in the pool with H and my brother Ry (who got into town the previous Saturday), another labor sign miraculously appeared, of the - forgive me, squeamish readers - mucus variety.

I was ridiculously excited!  I called Koos, who gently reminded me that it could still be a few days to weeks. Undeterred, I was sure that the two signs together meant baby was on the way.


Around noon, I started timing the contractions.  Just for fun, as they weren't yet painful.  At first they were 20 minutes apart, then 10.  They started to get uncomfortable.  I put H down for his afternoon nap, and then escaped to the bathroom to shower and get dolled up.  I knew it was time, and I wanted to ensure I looked good.  That could help, right?

I took one last belly pic.  I texted J that things were getting very "labor-y" over here, but I didn't even call him.  My first labor and delivery lasted 40 hours (seriously, you guys), so I figured I had plenty of time.  Ry and I retreated to the playroom and watched the end of Cinderella Man.  I kept timing contractions, and they were less than 10 minutes apart now.  Still, not quite painful.  I called J, as he hadn't responded to my text.  As it turns out, he hadn't seen it.  He told me he was on his way home.  I told him to be sure to pick up pizzas; I was going to want to eat before we left.

And then, at 3 PM, it turned.  It had happened like that with Hendrik.  With H, I had been having contractions since 10 PM on Saturday night, and at 3 PM on Sunday it got REAL.

I called J.  I needed him to get home quickly, to help me.  By this time, H was awake, and Ry was distracting him in the playroom.  I was laboring in our bedroom, crouching and moving and trying to find a comfortable position to tolerate the painful spasms.  By 4, I called J again.  "Get home," I said through gritted teeth.  "We're leaving as soon as you walk in the door."  The contractions were 5 minutes apart.

An excited J walked in the door soon after.  H and Ry came downstairs, and he swept up our toddler to tell him "Mommy is having a baby today!"  H was unimpressed.  I was moaning in a ball on the couch.

We made it to the hospital around 5, and after the roughest cervical check I have ever encountered, a nurse determined I was ONE centimeter dilated.  ONE.  So they thought I was a fraud, as they do.  Did I mention my doctor was out of town?  Yes, she had a one-day conference, and she had told me she was leaving town on Thursday night.  The doctor on-call told me to walk.  For an hour or two.  And then they would check me again.

You guys? I couldn't IMAGINE being sent home.  I couldn't imagine that I could be in so much pain for a measly one centimeter.  I labored at home with H (after being sent home initially, most decidedly not in active labor, but contracting calmly) until 4 centimeters, and the pain was not this great.

So J tried to get me to walk, as I tried not to murder him.  I begged him to tell them that this baby was huge, it was going to rip through my abdomen and thus I needed a c-section.  He tried to talk me down, but after about an hour I was wild with pain.  He went to get the nurse to check my cervix.

Four centimeters.  Finally, they began to take me seriously, and ordered my epidural.

The anesthesiologist, the aptly-named Dr. Fox (who was a breath of fresh air for both his drug-giving abilities and his resemblance to Dermot Mulroney) arrived soon after, as everyone tried to get the epidural ball rolling.  In the midst of this, my screams of pain and the fast and furious contractions probably enticed them to do another check.

Seven centimeters.  In about two hours.

Oh, friends: the epidural at seven.  It just wasn't my friend.  It took an hour for it to begin to work on the pain.  I tried to breathe, and failed spectacularly.  They had to administer so much that my legs were completely numb, which made me panicky.  Eventually I calmed, and I surmise I enjoyed just under two hours of a working epidural.  I floated in and out of consciousness at first.  Then, J and I had a nice chat and confirmed the spelling of our girl's name.  I spoke to Koos and Gina (I think) and my mom on the phone.  J kept everyone up to date via texts and calls.  (He was almost killed once when he texted during a contraction.)

Before 11, my back started to ache a bit.  I couldn't feel it completely, but I thought I should let them know. I hadn't felt anything like this since the epidural kicked in.  They thought the baby might be "sunny-side up", and so they decided to turn me on my right side to get the baby to move.

I'm not sure what finally killed the epidural for me, but I'm guessing it was that turn.  In a matter of minutes, my back radiated with pain, that soon worked it's way to my abdomen.  I was yelling again.  Dr. Fox came back and tried to help.  Soon, the back labor subsided but the abdomen pain remained.  I was ready to push, and the on-call doc assured me the pushing would help that pain.  It did.

I looked at the clock as we began.  I had pushed for three hours with Hendrik, the most grueling workout of my life.  I tried to mentally prepare for two hours of pushing, still hoping it would go much quicker.

The pushing began, and I did well!  I couldn't feel anything in that region (a huge solid, epidural).  The pain was completely concentrated in my abdomen, and the only relief was the strongest pushes I could muster.

This time, I felt like I could actually feel the baby moving through me, making progress.  After a few minutes, the doc got ready to "catch", as they do.  Seeing her in her garb assured me Newbs was almost here.  I was doing it!  I felt incredible.

J was by my side, and really watching the process this time.  "You're doing so great," he kept telling me.  "I can see the baby every time you push!"

And right before those final attempts, he asked, "Last chance: boy or girl?"

"Girl," I told him.

And then she was here.

The most beautiful, GIGANTIC baby you have ever seen.  They put her on my belly, and I prodded her to cry.  She did, and it was once again the most glorious sound you could ever imagine.

J and I cried too, and just repeated, "A girl!  A girl?  I can't believe she is a girl!"

I never knew how much I wanted her until she arrived.  A whooping bundle of perfection at NINE POUNDS, THIRTEEN OUNCES (see: exactly what the sonogram predicted), and 22 inches long!

How did I deliver her?  I have no idea.  My body did its magic, despite my lack of faith.

And she is here and she is ours and she is absolute perfection.  It's amazing how your heart expands.  It's incredible how these babies are worth every minute of that suffering we go through to bring them here.

J and I had named this little girl during our 2006 trip to Colorado, when we learned my great-grandmother's name was Aili (EYE-li).  I told my grandmother how much I loved it.

Just weeks ago, during what was to be the last conversation I would ever have with my Far-Mor, I asked her if she had any idea what the baby was.

"It's hard to say," she told me seriously.  'But, if it is a girl, I would love for her to have my mother's name."

Consider it done, Far-Mor.

Welcome, Ailie.