Sunday, October 5, 2014

Emerging from the postpartum shadows

I'm starting to see the light and feel the warmth of the sun. I'm starting to enjoy the cool breeze, and smile easy and laugh easier.

I'm starting to breathe again.

Because for awhile there, I wasn't. It was all choked up in my throat and my heart kept pounding but....as Jordan Sparks would say, no air. 

Rhenner is a few days shy of being 4 months old. And now I can look at him and say I'm so glad you're here. I'm so happy you're in our family and that you have cute, fluffy hair that sticks straight up and a big nose and an even bigger smile. 

I'm going to be honest. Rhenner? Well, he broke me. He shattered every ounce of confidence I had as a mother and he threw the broken pieces in the air for the wind to catch and carry away. And just like that, I was a mess. I thought I knew what I was doing. And therein lied the problem: When it comes to kids, I should remember that I never know what I'm doing.

I thought he would be just. like. his. brother. And funny thing! He wasn't. He was hard. He was really hard and I dreaded every day. I would lie down at night and think, I have to do that all over again tomorrow. How am I going to survive this?

A friend of mine told me that it really looked like I had my shit together (her words, not mine, but I'm keeping them nonetheless). The fact was, only my instagram feed and facebook status updates had their shit together. But not me. Definitely not real-life-Meghan.

Rhenner didn't take a pacifier like his brother did. And it wasn't just that he didn't take a pacifier - he didn't take comfort. Like, at all. People suggested putting him in a carrier. He screamed louder when he was facing in towards me. People suggested I swaddle him. He fought harder against the fabric, against himself. People suggested putting him in the carseat and taking him for a ride - Bad. Bad, bad, bad idea. Rhenner detests the carseat and screamed everytime I would put him in it. It didn't matter how long the drive was, he would scream the whole time. I hated driving him anywhere, because it just made me feel awful listening to him. I tried nursing him to sleep - he would nurse, and then just as he was getting tired, he would get mad again and attempt to rip my nipple off my breast. When he was tired, he didn't want to be held. He didn't want to nurse. He didn't want to rock. He just wanted to sleep, and he didn't know how. It tortured me. I would shut myself in his room for 45 minutes at a time, all the while he is screaming and clawing at my shirt and just begging for sleep. I would get him -finally!- asleep, only to have him wake up within minutes, starting the entire process all over again. Even Grandma, when she came to visit, knew he was a mystery. "Hmph." She said. "He is one tough customer, isn't he? You really got your hands full."

I took him and Axton to a park play group one day. Just to try it. Just to prove all those depressing thought in my head wrong - thoughts that told me I would never again get to go out or take Axton places or have other people watch my kids. Well, while we were there, Rhenner got tired as one-month-olds tend to do, and he was crying and I was nursing on a park bench and Axton is pouting next to me, saying Mommy please come play with me? And nursing isn't helping and walking or swaying isn't helping. So, a friend offers to try....She asks, "Does he take a pacifier?" Good grief, if he did, don't you think I would have tried that by now? I watched him pound his fists against her chest, clawing at her shirt, his face getting redder and his screams getting louder. I watched her face as she handed him back to me. It was a look of relief.  A look that said to me Boy I'm glad he's not my kid. And again, I was defeated.

We had friends over for dinner another night, and I couldn't enjoy a single minute with them because Rhenner wouldn't go to sleep. I walked up and down our driveway, up and down, up and down. I walked slow, I did lunges, I bounced and jiggled and really the only way he would ever fall asleep was after just giving up. But I couldn't put him down in his bassinet because then he would wake up, and I couldn't go back and enjoy my friends because our talking would wake him up. So, once again, I had to seclude myself in his room and just wait. It was such a lonely time.

On top of his crankiness, he was also extremely congested. There were countless nights I had to sleep sitting up, holding him at an incline, so he could breathe while he slept at night. Below is a video I took of him around 4 weeks old. I took the video because everytime I tried talking to someone about it, it was like they didn't believe me or thought I was making a bigger deal out of it than I needed to. So I wanted to prove to them that this is what he sounded like all the time, and that this wasn't normal.

video


 I talked to several different people - is it a cold turned something serious? Is it allergies? Milk sensitivity? His primary care physician thought it could be reflux, but didn't think it was serious enough for a prescription. Another doctor I took him to thought it was just a lingering cold and he would get over it. Another one didn't know what was causing it, and could only suggest taking him to an ENT. When I went in for my 6 week check up with my midwife she asked, "Does he always sound like this?" and I said, "Yes. Always. Thank you for noticing." She suggested some natural remedies for the congestion and for reflux. I didn't know what was causing it, but it was incredibly frustrating to not have answers. It was also guilt-inducing to think that if it was milk allergies, I was the one causing it. So I cut out all dairy products, feeling a little bit better that at least I was trying to find a solution.

I welcomed the night. Night time was the only time I could catch a break. Rhenner would, after several, clustered feedings, sleep in bed next to me. He would generally go right back to sleep after nursing. So, we co-slept. Because, like I said, it was the only break I got. I woke up in the morning only to look forward to going back to bed at night. That, my friends, does nothing for a person's happiness.

I felt guilty about Axton, too. Rhenner sucked so much energy out of me and Axton was dealing with so many changes at once - I was not patient. I didn't have enough time in the day to be the kind of mother I wanted - and used to be! - to him. I constantly thought, "What was I thinking? I was a great mother to just one boy, and now I am simply a mediocre mom to two boys! Was it worth that? I will never have another kid, because then I will just be a sucky mom to three kids and that's not fair to anyone involved." I felt guilty that I wasn't enjoying Rhenner the way I had hoped to. That I was telling myself this was just something I had to get through, rather than moments to embrace. I was simply just....living. Just going through the motions. I felt guilty that I was constantly comparing Rhenner to Axton, thinking how easy Axton was! When really, I probably just forgot the hard stuff with him.

So, as I'm sure you can tell now, when it came time to fly to Idaho with both boys by myself, I had extreme anxiety. I got so worked up and so nervous, I made myself sick the morning before the flight. I spent most of that morning in the bathroom. Going through security, Rhenner was in the carrier - which, of course, he hates but I don't have enough hands for anything else. Axton was screaming for Daddy when he saw him not go through the security with us, and I am - what else? - crying. Finally, Rhenner is exhausted and he allows me to put the pacifier in his mouth - he doesn't even suck before he is asleep. The plane ride itself isn't bad; Axton watches Curious George and the humming of the plane helps Rhenner sleep. But getting off the plane? Everything is chaos! More crying and screaming and everyone is staring and I make eye contact with no one. Just keep looking forward. Just keep moving. Axton is running away from me and I choose to save him over my camera equipment and when I get back to my stuff, someone had been waiting by my bags to make sure no one stole anything. Thank you. 

And then we have the most hellish drive of my life - 4 hours from Salt Lake City up to Idaho with the child that can't stand to be in his carseat. I literally had to turn myself off. I had to block it all out. I had to be emotionless. I will say it again: I was broken. 

Being with my mom was good for me, but it also made me rely on her. She didn't leave me alone too often while we were there, but the few times she did have to work, I would get panic attacks when I would find out I would have to be alone with the boys. I dreaded being alone with them. Do you know how that feels? How awful it is to know that you dread being alone with your own children? My mom kept encouraging the pacifier and I just...everything felt wrong and out of place and again, I felt guilty that I was forcing something on him that he clearly didn't like.

We visited my sister in law, whose baby was only 5 weeks younger than Rhenner. We were there for 3 hours and I had to feed Rhenner twice while Landon slept the entire time. I looked enviously at him, swaddled and sleeping through the noise and movement and thought, "Rhenner never did that."

Going to church was embarrassing and felt completely like a waste of time. There were two other moms who had babies within 5 days of Rhenner, so we all returned to church around the same time. My first week back to church with Rhenner was miserable. Rhenner, as per usual, was not going to sleep. I walked into Relief Society, sat down, and he immediately started crying. So I carried everything back out with me, mumbling to someone, "Nope, that's not happening." There was way too much going on for him. It was too hot outside for me to take him out, someone had locked the Mother's nursing lounge (say what? That is NOT okay. It's not even about nursing in front of other people, I just needed a quiet room that loud kids wouldn't come barging into so he could fall asleep). So the only room I could find was the one right next to the Relief Society room. I knew every woman in there could hear his every wailing, his constant screaming. I knew what they all were thinking - about me, about Rhenner, about my mothering abilities - or at least, I thought I did. And I hated it, so much. The two other moms with babies the same age would look at me with their pity-eyes, and ask, "How is he doing?" I know now it was out of love, but in the moment it felt like they were rubbing it in. Rubbing in their perfect easy babies ("Oh man, this baby is SO much easier than my first. How about for you?!?") that magically fell asleep during the Sunday school lesson as they gently swayed them back and forth.

In the midst of all this, Axton stopped napping. And my already train-wreck of a life dissolved into nothing but tears and sadness. Once I realized he was done with his nap, I had a week where I just moped around the house, calling it a "quarter-life crisis." I told Adam I no longer knew what I was supposed to do with my life - especially when it came to the one thing I spent time on outside of the home: photography. "What am I even doing? I have to quit photography. I will never again have time for it. Besides, who am I to capture someone's wedding day? I am not that good. Nobody should ever trust me with capturing the most important day of their life. I am going to ruin someone's wedding. I've got to quit this. Axton is obviously having behavioral issues. It must be my fault. I need to focus more time on him. I should be doing more with him..." And I haven't even mentioned anything about dealing with a postpartum body, trying to get back in shape, my body not being my own, things hurting and aching still.  It went on and on and Adam didn't know what to do with me and I didn't know what to do with myself.


.........

I reread this post and I think that it does not do justice to what I was going through. It just makes me sound like a whiney person, with a slightly-above-average cranky baby, when really, I was depressed and it was really, really hard.
.
But then, slowly, things started getting a little easier. Rhenner started taking a pacifier occasionally, and then more and more often. Which meant he started to fall asleep peacefully. It was no longer a violent fight to get him to relax, he could peacefully sleep in my arms. I cried the first time it happend because I didn't realize how beautiful of a blessing it was, and what a difference it made, to not have him fight me so hard. His happy, awake moments started lasting longer, too. He would give me a smirk and my heart would leap for joy - a small reward for all my hard work that day. I am starting to read him easier, know his needs quicker, spread out his feedings longer. Axton is getting used to having him here, realizing he isn't a temporary inconvenience, but a permanent addition to our family. Of course it's still hard - but it's an I-can-handle-this hard. It's not a break-me-in-half hard.

I forgot how much I hated it when people asked if I had a "good baby." Somebody asked me that recently, "Has he been a good baby?" I honestly didn't know how to answer that. As hard as he was, he is still such an innocent little soul. He is still perfect and he is still mine and he is who he is for a reason, so how could I ever call him "bad"?

\Now that I am starting to be able to enjoy this stage with Rhenner, I've been reminded just how fast they really do grow. With Axton, I was so eager for him to reach the next milestone - eating solids, sleeping through the night, napping on a regular schedule, walking. Now, with Rhenner, I'm stretching everything out as long as I can. He is still sleeping with me most of the time, and I haven't even thought about introducing him to solids (even though, technically, he could start now).

I wanted to write about this as it was happening, I wanted to say, "Hey, I'm having a hard time," instead of writing about it after the fact. But really, I couldn't even wrap my head around it. I couldn't even see through the fog and the pain. It's been quite a journey, getting to this point. Motherhood is always a journey. It's true that every child really is his own person, and I will be fully prepared for the next one by....not being prepared at all. By being willing to take whoever comes to us and being patient. Until then, I'm learning who Rhenner is and how he fits into our family. Taking it one day at a time and finding joy in the journey.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

50 Questions

I will be seeing my best friend tomorrow - the one who's been there for me since 7th grade. So, for the past decade. We used to do this thing where we would send each other the same questionnaire every few months, just to see if our answers would change and just to keep up to date with where each of us were in life. I couldn't, for the life of me, find the original questionnaire we used to pass back and forth but I found a similar one. And since I'm feeling nostalgic, I decided to fill it out. Just for kicks. 




1. What time did you get up this morning? 6:40 am

2. Diamonds or Pearls? Diamonds

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Arthur Christmas. It was the Summer Dollar Days and I took Axton while my in-laws watched Rhenner. He got scared at the very end, so we left 10 minutes before it was over.

4. What is your favorite TV show? Friends. America's Got Talent. 

5. What did you have for breakfast? Homemade breakfast burrito (what I get for visiting Mom)

6. What is your middle name? Rose

7. What is your favorite cuisine?  Italian

8. What foods do you dislike? Crunchy onions. Mushy tomatoes. Plain cauliflower. 

9. Your favorite Potato chips? I really don't eat potato chips that often, but I like Salt and Vinegar and Sour Cream and Onion

10. What is your favorite CD at the moment? Hehe. CD. Like we still listen to those! Um, how about my favorite Pandora station? I actually really like the Children's Lullaby station. It gets mixed up with some chill jams. 

11. What kind of car do you drive? MY car is a Honda Accord

12. Favorite sandwich? Chicken. As in Chick-Fil-A chicken. Or chicken salad.

13. What characteristics do you despise? Er. Um, rudeness? Tactless-ness? This is a strange question. I would much rather tell you characteristics I admire in others. And that would be courage, kindness, and faith in the face of trials.

14. What are your favorite clothes? Cute sweats and a V neck tee shirt

15. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would it 
be? Probably back to Switzerland or Germany, but this time with my husband.

16. What color are your eyes? Blue, blue blue

17. Favorite brand of clothing? The ones that fit and look good while making me feel comfortable

18. Where would you want to retire? Probably back in Hawaii

19. Favorite time of day? If I wasn't so darn tired when I woke up, it would be the mornings. My babies are happiest in the morning, so therefore I am too.

20. Where were you born? Hastings, MN

21. What is your favorite sport to watch? Probably soccer, since I know the most about it

22. Who do you think will not send this back? Gag me.

23. Person you expect to send it back first? Seriously.

24. Pepsi or Coke? Pepsi. But only once in a blue moon, on a hot summer day. With ice.

25. Beavers or Ducks? Another strange question! I honestly thought there was some sort of sexual innuendo associated with this question but I didn't want to think about it too hard so I will innocently answer ducks! Because I like feeding them bread. 

26. Are you a morning person or night owl? I'm a Life person.

27. Pedicure or Manicure? Pedicure! I adore having my feet rubbed.

28. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share with everyone? Um...my 7 week old slept 7 hours last night! (Not that that means I got 7 hours of sleep, since I didn't go to bed right when he did...but still, exciting!)

29. What did you want to be when you were little? It depends on how "little" we're talking here, but generally speaking....a writer. 

30. What is your best childhood memory? Vacations with my family. Oh, and living on 14 acres of land and exploring it nonstop. With chickens and a dog and two barn cats. And fields and fields of strawberries. 

31. What are the different jobs you have had in your life? Police Cadet (yes, seriously), Coffeehouse Barista, Reading & Writing tutor, Newspaper photographer, Nanny, Freelance photographer

32. Ever been to Africa? No. And I used to want to volunteer there, really bad. But then I read this article floating around on Facebook about how skinny white girls volunteering overseas are generally more self-gratifying than actually being helpful to the locals. I figured they had a point - I could probably help orphans in Africa a lot better by donating my money to them instead of spending a week playing with the children. 

33. Ever been toilet papering? No. Not even a desire.

34. Been in a car accident? Yes. It was the first and last time I ever needed stitches. Only a few, but right next to my eye. If the tree branch had been one centimeter further, I could very well be blind in that eye now.

35. Favorite day of the week? Saturday. It means Daddy is home. 

36. Favorite restaurant? Squisitos has the best Italian pasta and Cannoli I have had so far.

37. Favorite flower? I don't even know. I like flowers. Good enough for me.

38. Favorite ice cream? Mint Oreo Blizzard. Or maybe MooseTracks.

39. Favorite fast food restaurant? Taco Bell. It's just a great fall-back. Even if I don't think it sounds good, the moment I put it in my mouth I'm doing alright, you know?

40. How many times did you fail your drivers test? None. And the only speeding ticket I've ever paid for was not even mine - the stupid cameras photographed another car, not mine, but I still got the ticket in the mail and I didn't feel like fighting it.

41. From whom did you get your last e-mail? Heather

42. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? I would never max out my credit card -- unless I had the money in the bank to pay for it. So the question should really be, if you had an extra $5,000 where would you spend it? And the answer would probably be something like Lowe's or Home Depot so I could add some nice touches to our house.

43. Bedtime? Just as soon as I put Axton down. And then Rhenner. And then edit some photos. And then pick up from dinner. And then hang out with Adam. And then write some emails. After that, then I go to bed.

44. When was the last time you cried? Last night. Adam and I had ended our phone conversation on a bad note, and it made me sad. It's been a week since I've seen him so I am especially sensitive. 

45. Last person you went to dinner with? Like, an actual sit down restaurant? My grams, my mom, and my great Aunt Merlene. But it was lunch, not dinner. And we ate at Perkins. 

46. What are you listening to right now? The occasional car passing by the house, windows open and breeze coming through

47. What is your favorite color? I think it's pink. I think I like that it's soft and feminine. I find it comforting and familiar. 

48. How many tattoos do you have? I have scars all over my body that are permanent reminders of the 18+ months I have carried my two children in my belly. Does that count?

49. How many people are you sending this E-mail to? Um, the whole blogosphere.

50. What time did you finish this e-mail? 11:08pm. Good grief. Go to bed, Woman.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

If only I could Tweet

That moment when you JUST get your newborn to sleep and then you take a big fat risk and fart....waking him up so you have to start the whole 40-minute process over again.

Axton was swimming in his kiddie pool - naked, because that's the only way he likes it. He looked down, pointed to his nipple and said, "Baby eat?" Not quite, kid. But pretty darn close.

I have always wanted to be one of those people at the gym who get shin-sweat. I feel like that is a really good indication that you're working hard, if your shins are actually sweating. What I have not always wanted to be is one of those people who get both shin-sweat and belly-sweat. Yep, that was me my first time at the gym in 6 weeks. Gotta love the post-pregnancy body.

Note to self: Rectal thermometer acts EXACTLY like an enema. WATCH OUT.

Axton just walked in on me changing - specifically, putting my bra on. He whispered a very breathy "Woooow."
Um, awkward? And really, do you have to be just like your Dad with everything?

So glad my mom bought Axton a giant green tube that magnifies his voice by 10 so he can yell, "NO DIAPER CHANGE!" at an even louder volume.

Axton hugging the iPad while spinning in circles like he's on the Sound of Music and singing, "Dada Games! Dada Games!" doesn't make me feel like the worst parent ever. Nope, it doesn't.

I must have been feeling ambitious this morning. Just had to ask Adam to help me take a shirt off that, nope, still doesn't fit, because I got stuck in it. Not feeling so ambitious anymore.

My son hasn't taken a bath in 3 days. He does, however, swim in his rain-water-filled kiddie pool everyday. That counts, right? (PS let's be honest, he hasn't brushed his teeth since then either. Parenting win).




Sunday, July 13, 2014

Late on Sunday

I was maybe, just a little bit, dreading going to church today. We had gone the previous Sunday for Rhenner's blessing when all the family was here. Even though Axton had been distracted with cousins, which meant I really only had to worry about Rhenner during sacrament meeting, it still was kind of a cringe-worthy Sunday (aside from the beautiful blessing Adam gave Rhenner, which deserves a post of its own because I have some feelings on that topic). Rhenner screamed all through Sunday school and Relief Society last Sunday and then promptly fell asleep in some old lady's arms at the end of it all. When she handed him back to me, he woke up and started screaming again. So, you can understand why I wasn't exactly looking forward to doing it all over again this week.

Regardless, this morning I thought I had given myself enough time to get ready. Apparently I hadn't. Minutes got away from me, and suddenly I had no where near enough time to do everything I had to: Get Axton's snack bag, get Axton's toy bag, get the diaper bag packed with extra clothes for everyone, eat breakfast, change Axton's clothes, change Rhenner's clothes, put on my own church clothes, try to do something with my bed-head hair, put make up on to cover up my bags under my eyes.....I was running around, stressed to the max. Rhenner was screaming - he was tired and he only sleeps under very carefully construed conditions. I was so frustrated with him being too picky about how and where and when he sleeps. I carried him in my arm, trying to multi-task, all the while getting deafer by the second with his wailing inches from my ear. Newborn cries have something terrible in them - black magic or something - that makes me ache, so I was getting all agitated. I told Rhenner, Fine, if you're not going to sleep you can just sit here and cry while I get all this done. I put him on the couch and ran off to do some seemingly-important task. His cries penetrated my every move, though and I couldn't focus on the tasks at hand. I kept glancing at the clock, and I was torn. I had this evil little voice in the back of my head saying, You're going to be late. You're going to miss sacrament. It is a commandment to take the sacrament every week. If you miss the passing of the bread and water, what is the point? ....You made a covenant to attend all church meetings. You need to do better, Meghan. You should have had everyone's clothes lined up the night before. You should have woken up earlier. If the sacrament were important enough to you, you wouldn't be stumbling around trying to get there on time.

All I could feel was this pressure to not be late to church - more specifically, to not miss the sacrament. I even had thoughts like, "Well there goes the Celestial Kingdom. You are obviously not perfect enough." (I know - that escalated quickly!)

Anyway, these thoughts and the ticking of the clock and the wailing of the baby......

I paused.

I took a deep breath and I thought about what was really important in that moment.
I picked up my baby. I didn't try to do other things while he bobbed around on my arm, still crying. I sat down on the couch. I patiently patted his back, and within seconds he was out. I closed my eyes and I let it go. And that, my dears, is when I felt the spirit re-enter my heart. Those thoughts were not from Him, they were from myself - an aching within me stirred by society and guilt and the need to be perfect.

You are trying, and that's what matters. 

We're going to be late.

And that's okay. At least you're going. 

And we were late, but not too late to take the sacrament.

Rhenner woke up halfway through the first meeting, and because his cry isn't a "Hey, I think I'm starting to get hungry, Mommy" kind of cry - it's a "FEED ME, WOMAN!" cry, I took him to the Mother's Lounge to get him calmed down. It was just me in there, and the speakers were on so I could still hear everything going on in the chapel. They were singing a song now, and I could very distinctly pick out a few voices.

I chuckled a little because man, those voices were terrible. Their words were a few beats behind and their pitches a few notes off. And then, for the second time that day, the spirit taught me the same lesson: That's okay, at least they're singing. 
They were not perfect singers, but there they were, singing anyway. Singing because they love God and want to worship Him. Singing because they are trying to do what's right.

And here I am, coming into church late. But I'm here. And I'm trying. 
I am far from perfect -- but I am doing my best. And that's all He has ever asked from me.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Second Time Around

Things I forgot about: 

Showers are a joke. I would like to think I'm actually getting clean, but really I'm just fooling myself. For one thing, I'm still bleeding out the wazoo so, as gravity always does its job, blood is now dripping down my legs. Hot water on my breasts only makes them explode, so now sticky milk is dripping all over my belly. And since showers are the only chance I have to be alone, it's where I do my crying. So now I have snot and tears clogging everything on my face. But let's say that I somehow manage to clean off the blood, milk, tears, and snot while standing in the hot water, before it all starts up again. Even if that were the case (and it's not always), the second I shut off the water, I'm back to square one. The bathroom is all steamed up and I'm already sweating.

Wearing a pad for weeks on end = cruelest form of torture ever. Most of us are used to wearing pads for a short period of time. But when you're having a period that makes up for going 9 months without one, and you aren't allowed to shove a tampon up there, pads become your best friend and your worst enemy. They rub you in all the wrong places, causing sores and itches and burns. Sometimes I wear my stupid huge adult diapers instead of a pad just because they are a different shape and size and therefore will rub my raw behind in different places. Poor Rhenner is getting fed up with me stealing all of his diaper rash cream (not really - he doesn't even need it.)

The stinkiest phase of my existence. I have never sweat so much and smelled so bad as I do when I am breastfeeding every two hours in the dead heat of a Maryland summer. Sticky for days, I tell you. And it is immediate. Like I said above, the second I step out of the shower, it begins. If I don't put deodorant on my pits while I'm turning the hot water knob off, then it's too late. I might as well stay in the shower forever.

The two week turn around point. Everything is shimmery and glorious and doe-eyed for the first two weeks. I'm all snuggles and sleepy and precious with Rhenner, and I can easily lay him down in bed if ever I need a break. Or I can hold onto him and fall asleep at awkward and uncomfortable angles and waking up with his cute little cheeks in my arms makes up for the creaks in my body. But then something happens at two weeks - and I knew it was coming because Axton did it to me, too. "It" being turning into a zombie baby - a zombie baby who never sleeps and only cries and wants to be nursed constantly and jolts awake the second I try to put him down (which I try to do often because sleeping with him in my arms is starting to lose its preciousness, and the creakiness in my bones is starting to wear on me). To top it all off, Rhenner is not taking a pacifier like Axton did. It is really hard for me to watch him have such a difficult time falling asleep - sometimes even when I am nursing him - because there really is nothing I can do. I just have to let him get frustrated and overtired and work himself into a tizzy.

The Guilty Whispers and Wise. I told myself I wasn't going to read any "baby books" this time around. Well, I kind of listened. My mom bought me the Baby Whisperer DVD and I thought it wouldn't hurt to just get a review. Well instead of learning great tips and tricks on how to get my baby to sleep, it only made me feel guilty for already doing it all wrong. She told me (to my face!) that a baby is fully equipped to fall asleep on its own, but we as parents ruin those skills by rocking and holding them to sleep. I think that is the biggest load of bull I have ever heard. Saying that to new parents is in no way encouraging or helpful, and only guilts them into doing exactly as Tracy says. Well, I'm not falling for it this time, Miss Hogg. I don't believe that you know the only way for babies to fall asleep. I think you have some good ideas but I'm not going to beat myself up this time for not following your advice step by step. Same goes to you, Mr. Wise.

Being name shy. I remember I was the same way with Axton for the first little bit (a couple weeks? A couple months? I can't remember for how long). It was weird for me to call him by his name. Instead of saying, "I need to feed Axton." I would say, "I need to feed baby." I don't know if it's because he was in me for so long without a name or what, but it took me a long time to get used to Baby's name being Axton. It also took me awhile to not be shy or embarrassed to tell people his name. I knew Axton was a pretty different name, and a lot of times whenever people would ask, I would have to repeat it for them or spell it for them. This made me shy about his name for a little bit. I am noticing I am doing the same thing with Rhenner, and I am trying to get over it quicker - especially when I talk to Axton. I want him to know that baby's name is Rhenner and not 'Baby.'

Random bursts of milk. All I have to do is think about Rhenner and the all-too-familiar tingling (tingling? Who am I kidding? This isn't a mere tingle, this is the weight of Niagra Falls pushing to spill out of my poor, mangled nipples) hits me. I have caught myself walking around the store or at a restaurant with one hand pressed against each of my breasts, trying to keep myself from leaking all down my front. I'm not sure which looks worse: two wet circles around each breast, or a hand pressed against each breast.

Things that are new:

The obvious. Now I don't just have a baby to take care of. Now I have a baby and a two-year-old. A two-year-old who is currently testing my every last strand of patience. Whenever I ask him not to do something, he grins his devil grin and does it again. Or if I tell him not to go into the road, he runs off in exactly that direction, turning his head around to laugh at me while I try to chase him down with poor Rhenner bobbing off my boob. I have only had two days on my own, without help from either my mom or Adam's mom, but I already know this is going to be hard. H.A.R.D. H to the ard. Difficult. Trying. Challenging. Tough. A slap in the face. I have asked myself, on more than one occasion, "You were barely handling Axton on his own. What in the world made you believe you could add a NEWBORN to the mix?"

Our house. As much as I love our little home and our big yard....it has added so much stress to our lives. Before baby came, we were stressed about getting the house "done enough" for us to move in. Now it's stressful trying to find time to continue to work on the house, and, in the meantime, live in the house in its current conditions. As of right now, we have no finished closets. There is no where to hang up anything. This means all of our clothes are shoved in awkward nooks and crannies, or else they are still in boxes, hiding in laundry baskets, wrinkling in the dryer, or strewn across some random piece of furniture like our bed or the couch. Clothes are my worst enemy right now as it is, what with me being several sizes larger than I normally am - it is so hard to piece together a decent-looking and decent-fitting outfit, and I tend to wear the same couple of shirts over and over again. I can't find the boxes that contain my post-pregnancy clothes so I am trying to make something work with what I have. And not having closets is just making it trickier. With everything else going on, can't I just have one thing that is simple? Like, what I wear for the day?

Quicker recovery. What a difference it makes to not have stitches! What an absolute difference it makes to not have pushed for two hours!! No broken blood vessels in my eyes, no puffy cheeks, no extremely sore lower half (only minorly sore). I am definitely feeling so much more able and agile than I was with Axton. I am so grateful for this, it makes me feel like I will return to "normal" a little bit quicker this time around.

More help. Last time, my mom's return flight left two days after Axton was born. This time, she didn't buy a return ticket until Rhenner was born and she was able to stay for 10 days after he arrived. It was such a blessing to have her help while I tried to get settled into a new routine. Then shortly after she left, Adam's mom came. I have been thinking that the older Rhenner gets, the easier it will be to take care of him and Axton (that's probably not true, but I like to tell myself it is) so the longer I have people around to help me, the better off I will be when they leave.

Coherent thoughts. I had terrible writer's block when I first had Axton. I had so, so many thoughts swirling around in my brain and I just could not formulate the words to make them into sentences that made sense (My thoughts are stars I can't fathom into constellations). I didn't even know if my thoughts were thoughts, that's how lost I was. It was just bits and pieces of a random puzzle, or several different puzzles. It was all so confusing. I have had so many people try to tell me that going from one kid to two kids is the "hardest" and just as many other people tell me, "No way, going from two kids to three kids is definitely the hardest." But to be honest, I think going from no kids to being a mother is really the hardest, and everything after that is just equal hard but never as hard as that transition from Not-Mother to Mother. So anyway, that was a a bit of a tangent. I'm just saying I'm glad I am not as completely lost as I was when I had my first baby. I at least know that my child will sleep eventually, he really doesn't stay this small forever, and I really should just listen to my gut and everything will turn out alright in the end.

Friday, June 27, 2014

On why I quit blogging and maybe I will start again

If you haven't already noticed, I will confess that it is June and I have only blogged three times in the last 6 months. Before writing Rhenner's birth story, my last blog entries had both been in the month of January.
Maybe you're curious why I stopped writing? What happened after January that made me stop blogging - at least once in awhile?

Well, a few things.
1. My photography business got busy. I started focusing any extra time I had on blogging consistently on my photo blog. I also started my 365 project which took so much of my spare minutes than I ever thought it would.
2. I was pregnant and had a toddler. "Extra time" was hard to come by in the first place.
3. -- And I really feel this is the main reason, here. I went to Katelyn James' workshop (remember?) and I got scared.

There. I said it.

Katelyn is a strong believer in driving her business forward with her blog. When I went to her workshop, she told us all that we needed a blog, like ASAP. If we didn't have one, we were already behind. She also strongly encouraged us to not just blog our photo sessions. She believed that she gained the thousands of followers she did because she let people in on her life. She blogged about starting a business from the ground up, she blogs about decorating her house, her dog, her family life, building a new home, answering questions, and her favorite products. When she blogs, she shares a piece of herself with the world of the internet. I knew where she was coming from and I could appreciate her advice: We have to be real with our clients. If they feel like they "know" us then they are going to be more comfortable hiring us as their photographer.

But I was also worried. I knew there was no way I could ever keep up with two separate blogs and be consistent with them both. Plus, from Katelyn's point of view, it sounded like she was suggesting I combine my personal blog and my photography blog into one -- with a warning, though, of course. We mustn't overshare. She cautioned us about having a healthy balance between being real and authentic and sharing too much and scaring away a large majority of followers. This is the part I struggled with the most: I don't know how to not overshare. If I'm going to tell a story, I'm going to tell the whole thing. I'm going to tell you what I was feeling and thinking and how much sweat was under my pits and how bad my breath stunk and how my boobs were leaking (because they do that again now! Win!) and what idiotic thing I said next. I could probably learn to glaze over some of the details and offer my readers a simple post with a touch of humor and mostly class, like Katelyn does so well and so beautifully.....but it wouldn't feel completely me. 

And so I froze. I didn't know what direction to go in - try to carry on with two separate blogs? Or combine my professional blog with my personal blog and change the way I tell stories? I did neither. I gave up on this blog and only updated my photo blog with photo sessions. That answer wasn't fulfilling, either, but I got busy and allowed myself to believe it was satisfying enough.

Then Rhenner was born, and I knew I had to share my birth story. Because I enjoy reading others' birth stories and I enjoy writing and sharing mine. Again, I debated for a short while - should I post my birth story on my photo blog, clean it up and make it less juicy and more appealing for a general audience? It would be a post that would have a lot of views and drive up my stats on my blog (not that I really understand that business). Or should I tell it like I would want it to be told and post it on my personal blog - since it is a personal event?

Well, you know the answer I chose. And after writing and posting on here again, I realized I missed this outlet. I love and thoroughly enjoy my photography, but I am also a writer. I am a storyteller. I write way better than I speak, mostly because I can go back and reword and rephrase before I actual press that "publish" button, unlike in real life - but also because I am an introvert. I have a hard time telling these stories to people in person, but they are still stories that I want to tell. So this is how I do it.

....So maybe I'll start blogging again.



Friday, June 13, 2014

Welcoming Rhenner: A Birth Story

At my 40 week appointment, the midwife offered to strip my membranes. I asked her about the pros and cons, and if it hurt. She told me some women hardly notice it being done, and others scream through the whole thing. The idea made me a bit nervous; more than that, though, I really didn't think I needed it. I thought for sure there was no way I could go past 41 weeks since I hadn't with Axton and 2nd babies, I was promised, “Usually come around the same time as the first, if not sooner!” So when  the next week went by, and nothing was happening - no contractions, no inklings of impending labor, nothing - I was pretty disappointed. I also had to have an ultrasound done at 41 weeks to make sure my fluid levels were still okay. I was told they were happy with anything over a 5, and that my fluid levels were measuring at a 15. So, no need to worry there. They also told me he was measuring at over 9 pounds, but still had plenty of room to move and flip around. He had been flipping back and forth from face down (ideal birthing position) to face up (not as ideal, but still deliverable and tends to cause longer labors and pushing time).


The next day was my appointment with my midwife again. At this point I was 8 days overdue, one day past what I for sure thought would be the end. I was feeling quite discouraged, and I was also really starting to worry about going to 42 weeks and ending up with an induction. My midwife and I discussed things, and I told her I wanted her to sweep my membranes, and we made plans for me to receive a gel insert the following Monday if I still had not gone into labor on my own. I was dilated to a 4 and 90% effaced….how was I not in labor? By the time I got home that evening, I had already made up my mind: if sweeping membranes and the insert didn’t work, I was going to request an induction on the 42-week mark.


The night came and went with no contractions, just annoying cramps. I had  heard stories of women going into labor hours after getting their membranes stripped, and was once again disappointed not much had happened.


The next day was Friday. My mom and I went to the mall with Axton to walk - something we had been doing a lot of lately. When we came home and Axton was down for his nap, I told my mom I was going for another walk by myself. It was hot and  sunny and I was tired and sore, but I needed to clear my head. This day was the first day I actually cried about the fact that I was still pregnant at 9 days past the due date. I cried mostly because I feared having to go to the hospital and things getting out of my control and me ending up with a c-section. It was probably a bit dramatic, but the scene was a very real and scary thought to me.


So, I went walking. I walked without a destination or time of stopping in mind, and while I walked I prayed. My first instinct was, of course, to plead with God to make this baby come soon. But something stopped me and I instead found myself thanking God. I thanked Him for a body able to create and house healthy babies, for another spirit to raise on this earth, an uncomplicated pregnancy, a husband who loved being a father. I thanked Him for my mom and all her help, the support and love of other family and friends, for being sealed to my husband in the temple because this meant my children would be with me for eternity. I thanked Him for the opportunity He was giving me to practice patience and endurance during the last few weeks of pregnancy. I said all of this and more….and then I threw in a quick something or other about helping baby come so I didn’t have to be induced.

After my walk I came home and lay down on the couch. My best friend Heather called from England and while on the phone with her, I noticed that the cramping I had been feeling all morning and the day before had changed slightly - it was lasting a bit longer and coming consistently. During our 40 minute phone call, I had about 6 contractions. Every time one would come, I would check my phone - they were about 7 minutes apart. They obviously weren’t very intense as I could still talk through them fine, but I decided I wasn’t going to move from my position on the couch - I was just going to sit there and see what happened (two nights previously I had had contractions for an hour and I had gotten up to see if that would make them come closer together, but all it had done was make them stop altogether; I wasn’t doing that this time). So I lay on the couch for the next 2 ½ hours. I downloaded an App that tracked my contractions and they were consistently coming at 7 minutes apart and lasting for a minute each.


When Adam came home, I finally decided to get up from the couch, and we did our usual routines for the evening - dinner, playing with Axton, and putting Axton to bed. At one point, Adam saw me stop what I was doing and lean my weight on the counter. I was closing my eyes and taking big deep breaths, my head hanging loosely and slowly swinging from side to side.

“That’s what we like to see!” Adam told me when I was finished. And that’s when it hit me: I was actually in labor. And I was handling it. I was doing well and coping with contractions absolutely fine. Of course, I told myself, if I was still doing fine then that meant I still had a long way to go. I was trying to prepare myself for almost an infinite amount of pain, and what I was currently experiencing was far from that.

Well, I sent Adam to bed and told him to get some sleep because he was going to need it. Then I hopped in the shower and did exactly what I had imagined myself doing during labor for the previous 9 months: Leaning against the shower wall with my hands, the hot water running on my lower back. I stayed in the shower for a long time. Then I went to bed. I turned on a Hypnobirthing relaxation recording, but found myself falling asleep quicker than I had anticipated. The recording ended up just waking me up at random intervals, so I quickly shut it off.

I slept for about an hour through my contractions. I remember dreaming through them, telling myself to Take one slow deep breath and then it will be over. Well, one deep breath wasn’t cutting it anymore, and in my dream I was complaining, “But it’s still hurting after my one deep breath!” So take two deep breaths, then, Meghan! And that’s when I woke up. When I realized I wasn’t getting through them with just one deep breath anymore. It was about 12:30am at this point, and I decided to start tracking my contractions once again to see if they had started getting any closer together. I lay there for 30 more minutes, and they were coming about 4 ½ minutes apart. The midwife had told me we needed to come in when the contractions were 4 to 5 minutes apart, especially because I needed to get antibiotics as I had tested positive for Group B Strep. I didn’t believe that I had actually made it to that point, and thought to myself, “I will keep counting for another half hour to make sure they don’t slow down before I call the midwife.”

With Axton, active labor lasted so long - and there had been so many long intervals where contractions had stalled and I felt like I was reverting in my progress. I didn’t want to show up to the birth center again this time only to have labor slow back down as soon as I got there. (To read Axton's birth story, go here.)

However, it wasn’t long before, during the middle of a contraction, I felt a large amount of warm fluid on me. It hadn’t gushed, merely...leaked. So I thought that maybe my water was starting to leak. That was enough to make me move to action: If my water had broken, I definitely needed to get the antibiotics as soon as I could. I called the Birth Center Paging system and told them what had been going on. The midwife on call asked me a few questions, and then said, “I am already at the hospital with someone, so I will call Linda and she will meet you at the Center at 2am.”

I knew it was going to be Linda. I had seen her every appointment for the previous 3 weeks - which is rare and accidental, because typically they rotate who you see every appointment.

It was now 1am. Adam had woken up with me when I told him I thought my water might be leaking, and we already had packed everything we needed before going to bed. We decided to leave right then, and just be there a little early. I texted my doula and told her we were meeting the midwife at 2am. I also texted the birth photographer and told her I would let her know what I was dilated to when we got there. I had warned her earlier in the evening that my first labor was very slow so to be prepared for that and to make sure she wasn’t afraid to get some sleep.

Well this car ride is quite a bit more uncomfortable than the last time I had ridden in the car during labor, I thought.

Some folksy-type song was on the radio and Adam asked me if I wanted him to shut it off. “No, actually, it’s totally fine,” I told him. “I kinda like this song.”
“So,” Adam said, “What do you want me to say to you during contractions?”

I had warned Adam that I was going to need a lot more touching and talking than I had last time, that I wanted him present for every contraction.

“Um...you know,” I said, trying to think of the phrases I had been telling myself for the past few hours. “Tell me take in slow deep breaths, and then to let it all out. Tell me that I’m doing good, and tell me that the contraction is almost over, that I am almost done with this one. Tell me to give in to the contraction, that it is helping baby come. Tell me to relax my face and my muscles.”

We talked and held hands and laughed….and then a contraction would come and Adam would turn the radio down and I would lean my head against the headrest, rubbing my hands slowly up and down my thighs, rocking my head from side to side, and taking those deep breaths. And then it would be over and I would be able to say, “That one was a douzy!” and we’d continue on.

There was none of that in-between gloriousness during labor with Axton. I had really wanted to remind myself this time that we are given breaks between each contraction, and that I had to take advantage of them. I hadn’t been in constant pain with Axton, even though I had remembered it that way. I could not do labor that way this time.

We got to the center a little bit before the midwife - it was 1:30am - so we walked down the driveway. When a contraction would come, we’d stop and I would sway on Adam and he would rub my lower back. Soon Linda was there, and she rolled down her window to say, “I thought I wasn’t supposed to meet you here until two! I’m sorry to keep you waiting.”

I finished the contraction I was on, looked up and gave her a big smile and a wave of my hand, “You’re fine! No rush. We just wanted to get here early.” We slowly followed behind her, and I made my first stop the bathroom. With Axton, I had forgotten to go to the bathroom early and eventually I couldn’t even do it on my own. I had completely lost the sense of how to work those muscles and ended up needing a catheter. I did not want to worry about that this time and had (again) warned Adam that that was another job of his: to keep me going to the bathroom often.

I got stuck on the toilet with a contraction and Adam peeked his head in on me, and then helped me up. I asked Linda for a birthing ball, but I didn’t last long on there. Linda moved me to the bed to check on things - she told me that my water had, in fact, not broken and that I was dilated to a 6 ½ or a 7. Now that I was on the bed, I didn’t want to get up. All I wanted to do was lay down and deal with contractions as I had been doing at home. I was on my left side, my head resting on my left arm.

Linda needed to start my IV because I needed two doses of antibiotics, and we needed 4 hours in between each dose. I have never been one that does well with needles, and I always request getting my blood drawn in the crook of my left arm because that’s the only place that’s ever had success. Well, I didn’t quite have the energy/state of mind to tell Linda this, so she started trying on a vein on the top of my wrist. I was closing my eyes, trying to continue to breathe through the contractions, and as soon as she first stuck me, I knew it wasn’t going to work. She started poking and prodding around, digging for a better place. I tried ignoring her and eventually she gave up and said, “Well I was just sending medicine into your arm, not your vein, so is it okay if I stick you in the crook of your arm? Will it bother you?” No, no it won’t bother me please put it there, it’s where I wanted it in the first place. She then stuck me in my upper arm and immediately I felt a warmth spread all down and over my arm - I knew I was bleeding but kept my eyes close.

“Sorry,” said Linda. “I should have warned you that I’m a messy IV starter.”

Yuck...not the words I wanted to hear. She tried to make a joke about “at least it was distracting from the contractions.” I muttered an unenthusiastic, “Yeah, I guess…” She told me that now we just needed four more hours for the second dose of antibiotics. In my head, I thought she was crazy. “Four more hours of this kind of labor? Whew. I guess I better buckle down for the long haul. Maybe that whole time warp thing that some laboring women talk about will happen and four hours will go by really quick.”


But now the contractions were coming closer together. It’s interesting to me the snippets of conversation that I caught in between them - Erin, my doula, who had shown up just before Linda had started the IV, telling Adam that he was going to have to train her husband on how to to be a good labor coach. Erin seeing my belly henna when Linda was checking on the baby’s heartbeat and saying, “Wow, I want that and I didn’t even know I wanted it. That is so cool.”

I still didn’t want to move off the bed. Adam and Erin sat on the bed right behind me. Adam rubbed my upper back and Erin placed one warm hand on my lower back, applying some counterpressure. By this point, my long slow breaths had turned into quicker inhalations and a bit louder vocalizations. Mostly just long, drawn out “ooooohs” on my exhalations. They told me I was doing great but I had long since stopped responding. My inner thighs had been a little shaky for a long time, but now the shaking had dramatically increased and I felt like my legs were clashing together and my teeth were chattering like I was freezing. Intellectually, I knew this meant I was in transition. I was coherent enough to know that in my mind, and I guess I wanted to make sure Adam and Erin knew it too, so I told them, “I can’t stop my legs from shaking!” and that’s all I could get out. Then I started to feel a little bit of pressure and I said, “I feel like I need to poop.” Again, my brain knew that that kind of pressure meant I was getting ready and close to pushing time, but I also was wary of that because I remembered feeling that same pressure when I was only dilated to an 8 with Axton and they had told me I shouldn’t be pushing yet. So I tried to have a conversation with them and kind of started babbling about “Well, maybe I really do need to poop. I haven’t pooped in awhile. It could just be that.”

Linda told me it was probably my bag of waters and that once my water broke it wouldn’t be long after that baby came. Erin said, “I bet if you went to the bathroom and pushed during a contraction, your water might break.”

So after a couple attempts of trying to get up and having to wait for another contraction to pass, I finally made it to the bathroom. I was so happy I could pee this time!! Yay! I spent a few contractions there, and pushed like Erin had suggested but nothing happened. When I walked out of the bathroom, I asked if I could get in the pool now. Linda told me that it wasn’t done filling up, but that I was welcome to get in and have it fill up around me.

I can hardly describe the relief the hot water brought to my body. It was hotter than I was expecting it to be. Everyone was asking if it was okay and I just wanted to shout, “Okay??! This is heavenly.” I got in there and I just knew it wasn’t going to be long.

I had asked Adam to text the birth photographer a few minutes (who really knows?) previously and now that I was in the pool I knew she needed to be there soon. I asked Adam if she had texted back yet and then I said, “Actually, you just need to call her. Tell her she should come.”

When he hung up with her, I already knew she wasn’t going to make it.

My body was already starting to push. “I can’t stop it, I want to push! Can I push?” I asked, almost frantic. Again, I had remembered feeling the need to push too early last time with Axton, and I wanted to make sure I had the “go-ahead” this time. I was also half-expecting the whole “push for 10 seconds, three pushes at a time” business they had had to instruct me on last time. But nope, they said, “Do what you feel you need to do” and receiving that “permission” was beautiful. I pushed and screamed when my water burst like a water balloon.


And then.


The pain. Oh, the blessed pain. I think Linda said that the baby was just behind the bag of waters and told Adam to feel for his head. I felt Adam fumbling around down there and then his fingers finding something. 

A contraction.


....And screaming. 

High-pitch, uncontrolled screaming. My brain knew I shouldn’t be screaming, so I tried to stop but instead of stopping, the screaming came out louder and harsher. I was manically scream at the very tip top of my lungs.

A contraction. Pushing.

So much more screaming, this time screaming “OW OW OW OW OW OW!!!” over and over again.

Whenever the midwife or Erin talked to me, however, I listened.
“Meghan, try using a low grunting sound instead of screaming.”
I tried.


A contraction. More screaming.

“Meghan, he is almost here. You’re doing so good.”
“He’s almost here? Really?”
“Yes.”
“He’s almost here. I’m almost done.  God…” I started to say, leaning my head back against the pool; then I got self-conscious about praying out loud, so I finished the prayer in my head. Help me do this.

SCREAMING.


A voice.

“Meghan.”

It was Linda.

“I need you to stop screaming, and I need you to slow down. This is the part where I don’t want you to tear.”

I felt my eyes grow as big as my face. Never before have I stared at someone the way I was staring at her. “Deer in headlights” is an extreme understatement. I don’t think there was any room left on my face but for my wide eyes. I was thinking You want me to do what? But somehow my brain listened. I slowed down for a second. I stopped screaming for a second. I locked on her eyes and I listened. For just a second, just long enough.

A contraction.
Screaming, and his head.


Months and months of pregnancy, and the last 10 days past my due date lasting for an eternity built up into one last raging scream:

"GET! HIM! OUUUUUUUUUTTTT!!!"

And with that, he was out. At 3:17am. Not even two hours after arriving at the birth center. Adam and the midwife caught him together.


He was out and his face was rising up out of the water towards me, and he was blinking back water and staring at me so calm and I was crying more and saying, “He’s so beautiful! I love him!” and “I did it. I’m done. He’s finally here.”




And his little arm was tucked under his chin and he was peaceful and quiet and Adam was coming around, holding me and I was telling Erin to put the camera on Auto, the green icon, not the “A” icon, and then there was vernix and then I was out of the pool and back on the bed. 




The rest of the story includes my Russian nurse Katia, grinding my uterus against my spine and me looking at Adam with eyes that say What the hell is she doing to me? Please kick her in the back of the head and we’ll run out of the door. And Adam looking at Katia with eyes that made me worry he really was going to kick her in the back of the head.

The rest is the placenta delivery, the part where Linda tells me I have two paper cut tears, but she isn’t going to stitch me and I’m rejoicing for NO STITCHES.

The rest is my birth photographer arriving at the birth center, and being grateful I don’t have to worry about taking pictures while Rhenner is weighed and measured, and her capturing precious time with our just-minutes-old son.

The rest is him latching on and nursing so easily, and me saying, “I don’t remember Axton crying this much.” And Adam saying, “Oh he did. You were just too out of it.” I was up and moving around and showering and eating and taking pictures. I was a little slow, sure, and my lower half was quite tender, but I was far from immobile. In comparison to how I felt after having Axton, I could have ran a marathon (okay, maybe only a 5k). 









4 hours later and we were on our way home. We left Rhenner in the car and walked into the house at 8am, just minutes after Axton had woken up. We had him come out to the car to “find his baby brother” and to open the gift that baby had brought him. 





Rhenner’s birth was everything I could have hoped for in a birth story. On the drive home, Adam kept saying, “I am just so impressed with you right now. I can’t believe how fast that was.” Truth be told, I was pretty dang impressed, too, though I feel like I can’t take the credit: It was all my body. I trusted my body this time. I gave in to everything it was doing and I didn’t fight against it and everything happened on its own.

Rhenner is the sweetest thing and I had no idea (NO IDEA) how much I missed little baby snuggles until he came around. I am seriously obsessed with him and he makes me want to have a million babies (almost) just so I never have to be without these snuggles again.




The hardest part so far has been feeling like Axton feels betrayed. I have had to remind myself that Axton will love having a brother and won’t remember the hard time he is having right now. He is doing pretty well with the baby and gives him kisses and asks to hold him (though it usually only lasts for about a half a second), but when I ask him to help me with things for the baby (diaper changes, clothes, etc) like others have suggested I do, he is definitely not interested. I can tell I am not quite his favorite person right now and it’s been hard to not take it personally. I am probably being more sensitive to it than I need to be, but he is definitely taking a lot of his confusion out on me.


Otherwise, we are all doing wonderful and I’m so grateful for my mom’s hard work and help with everything. I am getting around well now but will still be so lost when she leaves!

How do you wrap up the story of someone’s beginning? I guess you really can’t, except to give thanks where it is due: I am beyond blessed and know all I have comes from God.