Monday, September 12, 2016

Sad Relief

"She has a really big head. Does your husband have a big head? Did your first have a big head?" the pediatrician probes.
"Yes, actually, we all have big heads. I had the biggest hat measurement on drill team in high school, which is saying a lot since I'm only 5'4". My husband has a big head, and I think part of why I needed a c-section with my first was because of the size of her head." I defensively respond.
"Ok, well, she might just have a big head. We'll keep an eye on it."

I reassure myself that a big head is a sign of a big brain, and my 6 month old baby is a genius.

Photo Credit: Yana's Photos

That was a few months ago. Fast forward to Wednesday of last week, with a less than ideal colored bowel movement in my baby's diaper. I don't freak out, I don't panic. I remain calm, but I think that a black stool is a sign of internal bleeding. I place the stinky stool in a Ziploc bag, toss it in my purse, and go to the doctor's office with my 3 year old holding my hand and my 8.5 month old on my hip. I acknowledge this is a new low, lugging my child's shit around in a sandwich bag in my purse.

Tests are run, I'm reassured, it's just the beets and blueberries she's been eating. But, while we're here, I ask the pediatrician, "Quick question, does her head look normal to you? I know we said a couple months ago we'd keep an eye on it. It seems to me like the bottom of her head is bulging more so than it used to. I just want to be sure everything's fine." My concern is more of an after-thought. The professional runs her hands over her head and inquisitively looks at my baby's head from different angles.

"You know, this is more alarming to me than the concern about the poop. I think we need to get her in with a craniofacial specialist just to be sure her skull is forming properly. I'll get you a referral, go ahead and call to make the appointment today."

Surprisingly, I'm still calm. I call the specialist, and tell them my most convenient time for an appointment, which is in a few weeks, when my oldest is in school and I'm off work. I check it off my list, and go on about my day.

I am an operating room nurse, and the surgeon I work for has experience in craniofacial surgery. I nonchalantly discuss my day yesterday (with the black poop and the specialist referral) when all of my co-workers are catching up about past weekend and upcoming weekend plans. My boss asks me more questions about my baby's head. In between cases, he shows me some textbooks he has in his office about something called "scaphocephaly." He tries not to worry me, but urges me to move up my baby's appointment. I get on Google and look up "scaphocephaly" and "sagital craniosynostosis."

I now understand that my baby's brain is growing abnormally, it has been for the past 9 months and I'm WAY past due on this diagnosis, she might be brain damaged, might have congenital heart defects later in life, and most definitely will require an ear to ear incision during her upcoming neurosurgery. I call and have her appointment moved up to Monday morning. Until then, I'm waiting, and waiting makes me anxious.

It's now the weekend before our Monday appointment, and I stumble upon the #scaphocephaly on Instagram. That leads me to mom-blogs who have bravely paved the path before me. Will my blog content change now? Will I go from blogging about spirituality, feminism, motherhood, and the merge of those topics, to blogging about special needs? Reading their words, I fall apart. I realize that Everleigh definitely has this condition, and I deep down knew it all along. She was born with a bigger forehead than Lilah (I always just thought she inherited my fivehead). I hold her and caress her head and feel the prominent bulge in the back and kiss all over her, assuring her and myself that she will be loved, that we will get through this and at the end of this, we will be her supportive, strong, loving foundation. I anxiously await for George to come home so he can be the "parent" while I morph into the "person" who has stuffed her fears deep down while role-playing "Mom."

Sidenote, the "Mom Mask" sucks. The "Mom Mask" is the costume I feel I need to put on to show my kids that everything is okay. If I'm okay, they're okay. I should know better. I should know that they're still young enough to be intuitive and know I'm faking it. But I feel an obligation to be strong, even if it's fake, and then I feel self-judgment about being a fraud with my kids. Self-judgment sucks. As an additional sidenote to this sidenote, can we all agree that the world is far too judgmental, and most of us already judge ourselves enough? Don't tell me what I should or shouldn't do, don't try to change me, I ALREADY KNOW MY FLAWS, thank you very much.

George comes home, I put Everleigh in his arms, and say "I'm going to be sick." I dramatically run outside, and hyperventilate. I put my bare feet on the dirt, my arms around my legs, and my head between my knees. "Breathe" is what I tell myself. The scary visions of this upcoming surgery, the fear of the unknown, the dread of Monday when the specialist confirms my fears, all of it comes rushing in like a huge wave and I'm a weak amateur who just wanted to be in the sand. How the hell did I get in this ocean with the waves? I want to watch people surf, and feel bad for those who fall down, and encourage those who stay up, but I want to be in the sand, on a towel, with a cocktail. The parenting metaphor persists. I want to be a mom of two healthy kids. When I hear of tragic tales, scary illnesses and diseases, my heart physically aches for those parents. I feel too much as it is. This doesn't happen to me, this happens to other parents, and when it does, my heart breaks for them. I hold them in Light, I send prayers their way, I donate to their KickStarter pages. If they are close enough, I'll bring over lasagna. But I'm not the parent of the child with a condition. I'm the observer. The sympathetic observer. I'll toss out a life preserver from time to time, but I'm not the one who is drowning. I'm not the one riding the wave.

I flashback to when Lilah Grace was exactly this age and she had a 9 minute long seizure. As we awaited a diagnosis in the hospital, I was in this same purgatory. The waiting. The waiting that makes me anxious. "What chronic condition are we about to uncover?" I thought about Epilepsy, Type One Diabetes, Infantile Seizures. My mind was racing. I was scared. I was so scared. When the news came back she had the flu, and it was a one-time febrile seizure from a fever, I was beyond relieved. I just knew we wouldn't be that lucky again. I just knew it was our turn, that life is random, and we just can't keep getting lucky.

I felt as though I received the diagnosis early, and my job was to mentally + emotionally prepare for the official diagnosis Monday morning. To do that, I needed to face my fear head on. G did the girls' bedtime routine, and I filled the bathtub with Stress Away oil and Epsom salt. I turned out the lights. It was pitch black. I put on the song that I dedicated to myself from God three years ago, on repeat. I imagined a Mother God singing the words to me:

"...I will show you, you're so much better than you know. When you're lost, and you're alone, and you can't get back again, I will find you, Darlin', and I'll bring you Home....And if you want to cry, I am here to dry your eyes. And in no time, you'll be fine. You think I'd leave your side, Baby? You know Me better than that...." 

After my panic attack, bath, and crawling into bed, I told G, "Thanks for being strong for me tonight. I'll be strong Monday, and you can be the one panicking. I know we both can't panic at the same time, and I got all my panic out, so now I'll be the strong one. I am certain she has this condition, and this news will be hard to hear, and I'd like to you to be there when it comes out of his mouth." He took a half day off work, and we met at the specialist's office in Dallas.

Fast forward to today. This morning.

In the waiting room, I was surprisingly calm. I really did get most of my fear out the couple nights before. I went to the restroom, and before I came back in, I stared at the doctor's name and credentials outside the door. I wondered how many times we would be coming back here. How many follow-ups, how many check-ups.

I envisioned our oldest being a big sister to a little sister with special needs. She's already such a nurturer; she refers to herself as the "Mama Wolf" and to Evy as her "cublet." Yes, Lilah will be great at this. Her role will be protective and caring, and she will excel at that. George will be great, too. He has Type One diabetes, so he knows what it's like to live life with a condition that requires extra effort. He will be a great resource for our daughter. How will I be?

I thought about my life as a story, and myself as the protagonist. If I were reading a book about this, I would appreciate the mother in this story to be solid. Rock solid. Strong. Loving. Unwavering. Loyal. I would be all of those things. Everleigh wouldn't even know she was "different" until somebody one day in the real world brought it to her attention, and when they did, I would cut them up into pieces and end them. Obviously. I could do this.

Then, I realized, I was making this about me. ALL of this, I was making about me. I was the protagonist? No. She is the protagonist. I'm a supporting role. My role is not the main character in this journey; she is the lead. This is her journey, I believe she chose to live this life, and I was merely the vessel to bring her to this plane. My role wouldn't be anything other than loving and supporting her; taking her to necessary appointments, and finding the most qualified professionals to help her with her journey. Supporting role. I found this oddly comforting. I could do this.

"Everleigh?" the doctor called us from the waiting room before we were done with the paperwork. Why was the doctor pulling us back, and not a nurse? He introduced us to two visiting surgeons from two different countries and asked if they could join us. Deep breath. "Of course!" I reply with a smile. Strong. Confident. Loving. I am in the supportive, yet strong and loving, role now.

Thankfully, he doesn't beat around the bush. He doesn't waste much time. He tells us we won't be needing his help; that she definitely does not have scaphocephaly. He knows because "X,Y, and Z." I wish I could remember those reasons, but after I heard the good news, I tuned out. I was crying. I was relieved. My fears that I'd completely convinced myself were absolutely true, were not. I had been that annoying, high-strung mom who spent too much time online, and worked herself up.  We walked out of the office, with big smiles on our faces. The lady taking our co-payment smiled and told us, "I'm happy for your good news."

In the elevator on our way out of the building, we both cried. But this time, not out of relief. We were crying for the parents who do not receive the "good news." For the parents who are forced to be strong in the face of danger, fear, and the unknown. Why??? How did we get so lucky again? And why do those other parents not have the same luck? Isn't it all just luck? This Universe is so random. I don't believe we are "blessed," or that God spared us. How insensitive of a belief, because that insinuates that those who get bad news are handed it by God, that they some how deserve it. What?? No. That doesn't feel right. After feeling the deep sadness, fear, and panic for days, knowing there is not a "relief" for some, just an adjustment to the "new normal" is painful. I feel guilty for receiving good news. I feel spared, fortunate, lucky, and grateful, but if I were in the other position, I know I'd resent the parent who received good news a little bit. It's just not fair.

We went to get coffee in a little cafe in a garden after the appointment to decompress. G left to return to work, and Evy and I stayed back and visited with our waitress for a long time. I told her a super brief version of this story; that we had an appointment with a specialist today, and were very scared prior, but received excellent news. We were celebrating, but I felt a little guilty, because I know how many people don't receive the good news. She then told me how her sister lost her 2 1/2 year old to an uncommon brain condition diagnosed at birth, and how they set up a non-profit organization that distributes medical products to people in need. I silently felt the tears fall down my cheeks. She told me not to cry, that she would start crying, and then, alone in this cafe, we both found ourselves bonding and loving and living. Her sister was exactly the person I was talking about. The warrior who receives bad news, and rather than getting a relief, has to learn to adjust to a new normal.

It was during this exchange I felt a renewed sense of something Higher and Bigger than me. I've been dabbling in doubt + cynicism with my spirituality lately. My connection with our waitress drew me in closer to The One. I took my time leaving the cafe, taking in the art on the walls, and the plants in the nursery. I buckled our baby safely in my car, and drove to pick up my oldest from school. I listened to my audiobook on the commute. Life was back to normal.

Life isn't fair. Life is hard, and it's filled with good news and bad news, and we don't know when we will be on the receiving end of either of those. What I'm learning is to be prepared for the bad news, to rejoice with the good, and to realize that at any moment, it could change. Nothing is promised, nothing is guaranteed, and it is absolutely terrifying to let that sink in. I think the waiting period, the time of not knowing, is awful. The mind races for something to hold on to, and it self-judges. Assuming the worst is giving up hope, and negative. Assuming the best is naive and aloof. There is no "right" way to wait for news. This is a universal truth applicable to far more than child-rearing.

I'm learning, and loving, and sometimes I'm really strong, and sometimes I'm scared shitless. Well, except for the questionable one in the Ziploc bag in my purse.


Saturday, July 9, 2016

Why I Love Al

I met Albert Berman through my husband and his family. I met Al sometime in 2005-2006, when I was about 18 years old.

Al and my father-in-law worked together. Al even lived with my in-laws for a portion of George’s childhood. I recall a few stories I’ve heard from those days, including my mother-in-law encouraging Al to “stretch” (in reference to changing a diaper), and my husband endearingly saying, “I lub you, Owl.”

Of course little George loved “Owl.” Loving Al is easy. He is generous. He is hilarious. He is passionate. He is so, so thoughtful! 

Though I don’t remember the first time I met Al, I have a feeling it revolved around a car repair. Al is a self-taught doctor for cars. I can honestly say I don’t know anybody as determined as Al. If he doesn’t know how to fix something, he will camp out at the Dallas Public Library, eBay, and even online car mechanic chatrooms to figure it out. 

I went north out of my Texas bubble to the University of Oklahoma for college. George and I were a 2.5 hour long distance couple for that period of time. Reliable transportation was key for our relationship. Unfortunately, George’s car had countless problems. Al helped fix every one. And, when I bought my first car (shortly after landing my first “big girl job” out of college), I chose a used BMW, which was beautiful and fun to drive, and totally dependable because of all the free maintenance Al poured into it. I literally never had to pay the exorbitant prices the dealer charges because I could depend on good ‘ol Al to come through. Usually, I would get special treatment, and he would return it detailed and looking brand new, even after it was 10 years old.

Al’s handiwork is not limited to cars, and not limited to me. He helped us install beautiful French doors in our first home, he has helped my in-laws with various home + car projects, and I know he has even helped his ex-wife around her home with necessary maintenance and repairs. 

Anytime Al works on anything of mine, he explains in detail what he is doing, and truth-be-told, I typically tune him out. That sounds really rude, but let me explain. 

First of all, I have zero desire to learn, secondly, the subject material is always over my head, and finally (and most importantly), I trust Al to complete the job better than anybody else, eventually. I have absolute faith that no obstacle will ever hold him back from a beautiful completion of a project, because I have seen him overcome every single problem, every single time. So when he is explaining the reason a circuit is shorting, or an angle isn't just right, I nod and smile, and then ask him to stick around for dinner. I make him a hot plate, and he tells me how delicious it is, and I tell him how grateful I am for his help. This is our dance. 

Al is not only generous with his time, he is also generous with his money. He SPOILS my daughters! And I love it! Lilah Grace and I go to Target multiple times a week, and every time, I allow her to look at and hold the toys, and every time she has to put them back. When she goes to Target with “Fantasy GrandDad,” (he named himself this so he doesn’t have to follow our parenting rules) she gets to take home the toys. He doesn’t even look at the price tag. Last time we went to Target together, he also got me a Target gift card. I told him, “No, I can’t accept this, you’re already too generous,” and the cashier told me, “Let him do this. I wish I had my dad so I could let him do it. He wants to.” She was choked up, and I’m pretty sure Al was, too. I felt like she was an angel reminding us to give and receive love while we have one another on this planet. Al and I talked about how it was a spiritually moving experience, and I’m so grateful we had that moment together.

I didn’t know a person could be generous in so many different ways until I knew Al. He is generous with his time and money, but also with his compliments and support. Anybody who has a Facebook knows this to be true. Albert Berman has NO PROBLEM DOTING ON A PURDY, PURDY WOMAN WITH A WOWEE-KEE-FLOWEE and a HOLY BAZOLY to make her feel good about herself. Or, if I make a controversial political post, while I can count on many people to “unfollow” me, and a few people to banter with me, I can always count on Albert Berman to remind me HOW MANY FRIENDS I HAVE and HOW SMART I am. We laugh about Al’s ALL CAPS but the truth is, I couldn’t feel more supported or more loved. And honestly, when I’m 80, if I can keep up with the technology as well as he has, I will be damn proud of myself. I think my favorite Facebook post Al has made was of a black and white Gina Lollobrigida, tagging my mom, telling her Gina Lollobrigida would have been jealous of her.

Everyone who knows Al knows he has a love for jazz music. He introduced me to Sarah Vaughn, and when he played a song for me (probably 5 years ago or so), I teared up at the lyrics. He knew I would! Sarah Vaughn started singing in her sultry voice, "In this world of ordinary people, and extraordinary people, I'm glad there is you." For our first dance at our wedding, George and I chose to dance to this song as an ode to Al. I'll always think of Al when I hear old jazz music, or see old black and white photos of New York. Al just got back from visiting his daughter and grandson in NYC, and he scooped me up a bag and scarf from the NY Metropolitan Museum of Art. So thoughtful. So New York. So Al.

I love Albert Berman. I have such a warm spot in my heart for him. He has shown me so much love, support, and generosity over the past 11 or so years that I’ve been fortunate enough to know him. When I look at Al, I always forget his age. He turned 80 this month. EIGHTY YEARS OLD. What?! I feel like I need to double check that again, and I must be wrong. He has never looked better. What other 80 year old do you know who is so forward thinking and so open to learning from the younger generations? He has such a zest and passion for life. He is the perfect blend of old school masculine + hip progressivism. I know his children and grandchildren make his world go ‘round. He brags on them all the time! And I know Al and I aren’t related by blood, but when I think of my family and when I refer to “the village,” Al is definitely part of it. He has showered me and my family with love, and I just hope to do the same now for him. 

I lub you, Owl. Happy 80th birthday. 



Monday, February 29, 2016

Everleigh Rose's Social Media Debut

Everleigh Rose is 11 weeks tomorrow. She received her Osage Eagle Feather + Cedar Blessing from her great grandfather over a week ago, and once she met the last of her immediate family, we felt comfortable sharing her with the rest of our world on the online hemisphere. We waited 3 months before sharing Big Sister's face (we had our reasons). Now that we've been through this before, one of those reasons still resonates:

I don't want photos to be subjected to "likes." Something feels weird about putting my daughter out there on social media, and getting notifications that people "like" it, when she doesn't even know she's online. It's kind of creepy if you think about it... or maybe that's just me being a weird mom again.

My sentiment a couple years ago still rings true:

I want to share photos of her through an artistic medium. When taken with a certain amount of taste, photos capture beautiful (and everyday!) life moments, and often times, memories are only retained through photography. We are lucky to have technology and I should be grateful I will have many memories documented for our daughter.

We also wanted the photos to be the thoughtful ones taken by our closest friends//family...Greer and Yana are such talented photographers and captured Everleigh so beautifully.  Professional photos over grainy cellphone pics. EVERY TIME. So a huge thank you to those creative + artistic women. 

Photo Credits:

Here are pics that we captured from her birth and first few weeks. There will be many more to follow. And of course, for the most access, tap into Instagram @LindsayVM and check out her hashtag, #EverleighRoseTinker . 

Everleigh Rose, you are such a special person. Your smile has me melting. You are so snugly and perfect. I love your chubby cheeks and every single roll on your perfect little body. I wish I could freeze time and keep you this innocent and tiny, but I promise to love you forever, in every chapter of your life. You have completed our family. Life is even more wonderful now with you on the planet.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Dear Baby ((36 weeks)),

Dear Sweet Baby,

I can't stop thinking about you! I am so excited for your arrival, and even feel a little bit guilty wishing you'd come before December 15th. I realize that's horrible. You stay in there and cook, get nice and chubby. BUT if you decide to come early, I am READY to hold you with my arms instead of my belly, and I know your dad is ready to hold you for the first time.

Photo by Greer Inez
((A while back...I'm definitely a lot bigger now!))

I was having some fear with the upcoming c-section, only because I remember the previous one felt like torture. I don't remember the recovery with your big sister; I only remember cherishing those first precious days with her ((and that gives me SO much excitement for YOUR arrival!)). However, I remember the procedure in detail, the burning of the cautery, the ripping and tearing ((not expected)) and pulling and pressure ((expected)). I talked to Heather ((our midwife)) about this, and she was very reassuring. With your cesarean being planned, I will have a SPINAL rather than an EPIDURAL, which will provide much more of a numbing sensation. Apparently, 1 in 5 women with an epidural during cesarean have an experience similar to mine.

When I was pregnant with your sister, I assumed I would have the natural birth I envisioned hundreds of times. I never visualized a cesarean, and even skipped that part of the birthing class. I associated c-section with failure and fear before I ever had it, so I think in a way, I manifested that for myself.

This time, I've been working on visualizing "the perfect c-section." I envision waking up early, knowing it's your BIRTHDAY, and even getting ready with hair and make-up. This will make me feel excited + confident. Then, we will walk into the hospital, check in, and go to pre-op. I know that nurse will get my IV on her first time because I'm a badass IV-starter, and the good karma I put out at my work will definitely come back to me. Hehe. Then, when the anesthesiologist puts in the spinal, I will barely feel a poke, and then feel completely numb. In the operating room, I'll have your dad by my side, as I feel nothing but excitement for seeing your face. I'll get to hold you immediately after you're out, and letting you go out of my arms and sharing you will be the hardest part of my day.

And so it is!

I have a lot more inner peace than I did with the previous pregnancy. Life is far more stable for us now, and I haven't had extreme mood swings. In fact, your dad even said he wished I was pregnant all the time. Ha! I'm just so pleased with how life is going for us right now. Daddy is doing so well at work, having fun and passionately engaging with his clients, while bringing home that bacon. I still love going to work 3 days a week. We love our modest home, and I absolutely love making small improvements here and there to make it even more enjoyable ((see nesting, below, hehe)).

((Not a recent pic...this was at 31 weeks, about a month ago))

Position: Last week, Heather said she felt a head up near my left breast, and predicts you're breech ((head up rather than the typical head down position)). We didn't verify with a sonogram, because nothing changes for us; you're a scheduled cesarean either way. Honestly, I think it gives you character. I don't mind. When you were transverse, it was more uncomfortable for me ((horizontal, head on the left, feet on the right)).

That Weird Extra Fluid Thing We Had: The polyhydramnios has completely cleared up. No extra fluid! You're swallowing and peeing like a champ. It was just one of those weird things that went away on it's own.

Fun Pregnancy Symptom: I've been NESTING, which has been so fun for me. The outside of our house is being painted today and tomorrow. I absolutely love it. I busted out cloth diaper hand-me-downs from Cousin Molly and figured out what all I need to be successful with these at our home. We will get your bassinet from Binky and Papa's very soon, and set it up in our room. I've ordered your matching Christmas pj's with your sissy ((and maybe me and daddy, too...sorry in advance, we are kind of nerdy parents)). I've placed your little tiny newborn clothes on my bump and just pictured your beautiful face so many times. I can't wait to hold you!

Size: I have gained a little over 40 pounds so far. I've consistently been measuring at larger than average, but while it used to be a few weeks ahead, now it's only 1 week ahead. Even my maternity scrubs are tight. I've been loving the sh*t out of my maternity leggings and oversized sweaters//shirts.

Names: Vivienne Rose, Everleigh Rose, Norah Rose. You'll likely be one of those. We'll wait to see your face. For more thoughts on naming you, reference this post.

Cravings: Have kind of settled down. I definitely was on a dairy kick for a while, wanting every flavor of cream cheese, even eating ricotta cheese straight from the tub. Any and all childhood cereals. A new cinnamon roll shop opened in the city I work, and I've frequented too many times. They know me as the "cute pregnant lady who wept when she ate her first Cinnaholic roll" which is sadly, true. Even more sad, I haven't cried at much at all this pregnancy. I've not really been too emotional, but the cinnamon roll seemed to evoke tears. Haha. Anyway, I've been a huge fan of food and eating whatever//whenever, but nothing out of the ordinary lately.

Movement: I've been having Braxton Hicks contractions for a few weeks now. You've been moving around constantly. I am confident this is the last time I'll be pregnant, and I know in the future when other women describe their pregnancies, I'll have a little bit of envy. This is such a sacred time, and I know it. I'll miss feeling you move the most. I'm never alone. I have two hearts in my one body. I have an angel dwelling spirit-side contained in my flawed, earth-side body. I am so grateful to be carrying you, but I'm even more ready to meet you and see what changes you bring to our family. We knew we wanted you before you were even created. And life will be forever changed, for the better, in 2 1/2 weeks.

I might not get a chance to blog again before your arrival, and I know I'll go back and read this, thinking, "I can't believe I hadn't even seen her or known her then. That seems like a lifetime ago!"

Just know that no matter what happens, on any day, at any given moment, I LOVE YOU. I love you so much I can barely stand it. You're my DAUGHTER! My BABY! I'll love you forever no matter what. My sweet, sweet, baby. Come on down. I'm ready for you.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sweet Baby, What Will We Call You?

A little over two years ago, I wrote a post about names and how they define our personalities, per Pierre Le Rouzic from his international bestseller, "The Name Book." I shared the "personality types" based off our names, for our little family of three. Now that we are expanding to a family of four, we are taking this new baby's name quite seriously! My mother-in-law owns this book, and literally, pages are falling out now because of how often we look through it. It's currently in our home, as we ponder names for this precious baby, due exactly four weeks from today!

When Lilah Grace was born, we had 3 names in mind for her: Ardyn Brooke, Everleigh Joy, and Lilah Grace.

As soon as George held her for the first time (my arms were still strapped down to the OR table), I anxiously asked him, "What's her name!?" He looked at our crying newborn and asked her, "Are you Everleigh Joy?" as she continued to wail. Then, he asked, "Are you Lilah Grace?" and she stopped crying, as if she had heard her name for the first time. So, basically, she named herself. We don't know that we will have that situation repeat itself, but we want to see this little baby's face before deciding on her name.

This go around, we have 3 names in mind, with Everleigh making a comeback, only with a different middle name. "Rose" is my late grandmother's name, my mother's middle name, and my sister's middle name. Since we don't know that my sister is going to have girls, I want to be sure the name lives on. I also love that both our girls will have classic, one-syllable, timeless names. Grace and Rose.

Our three potential names for this baby (as of late) are: Everleigh Rose, Vivienne Rose, and Norah Rose.

I am so unbelievably excited to meet this baby. Literally, I think about her and holding her, and kissing her and nursing her and nuzzling her and smelling her, at least one hundred times a day. Everytime she moves, I get butterflies and a warm wave floods my body with excitement and anticipation. I know once we name her, it will seem so obvious, like "she's always been a (Everleigh//Vivienne//Norah)," but until then, I'm not so sure. I had a dream that we named her Norah Lynn a few weeks ago, for whatever that's worth. I also dreamt I had her early at 35 weeks. I turned 35 weeks yesterday, so assuming I go these next 5 days without going into labor, my dreams haven't necessarily been premonitions.

Here are the "Personality Types" of each of these names. Norah has two, which honestly, I don't really get, but there ya have it.

Everly (Everleigh)
"Bringer of Hope"
Element: Fire
Mineral: Antimony
Animal: Turtle Dove
Plant: Chestnut Tree
Color: Red

  • You know what you want 
  • High morals, a self-assurance that comes from your unabiding faith, and your capacity for self-denial in order to reach your goals
  • You are able to dedicate yourself to your community or to a cause, and even though you can be convincingly enthusiastic, you are essentially reserved

  • Both an extrovert and an introvert, and sometimes it is difficult to tell which is more important to you-your need to be active in the world, or your need to protect your private life
  • You have a very strong will, but you tend to conceal it so that your reactions to situations are somewhat restrained and understated

  • In every way, you are a (wo)man of deeds and not words 
  • You influence others
  • You're not interested in establishing your own reputation or a great name for yourself, but in doing things well
  • Most likely, you decide early on in life what it is that you want to do. You are able to devote yourself to a cause, body and soul, but without becoming fanatical
  • You are slow to anger, and rare is the day that you find reason to let go with a biting word or an angry outburst

  • You have a very good intuition, but it is so well integrated in your whole personality that it doesn't seem like intuition
  • Your imagination is rich and well-disciplined, and your subdued attractiveness is captivating

  • More holistic than it is analytic
  • Your astonishing memory retains not only great moments, but the details of things
  • You tend to be selective in what you want to learn, though you are a marvelous student

  • You are a warm and gentle lover, but you hardly ever allow your emotions to get out of control
  • There is something self-assured about you which attracts people to you, and because you are not at all possessive, you allow others to express their affections openly

  • In general, your health is excellent
  • You rarely tire and are at your healthy best when you take the time every day to walk in the fresh air

  • Genuine friendliness that makes people think they've been taken into your family once they meet you
  • You have a special gift for communicating your warmth; and part of it is that it would never cross your mind to belittle another person for any reason
  • You are a gracious, giving host, and though perhaps not the life of the party, you're certainly its soul. When you do take time to relax among a gathering of friends, you give off a warm, secure feeling-a feeling of peacefulness, and home for tomorrow.

Vivian (Vivienne)
"Woman of Quiet Force"
Element: Earth
Mineral: Seleniate
Animal: Sole
Plant: Fern
Color: Red

  • Your strong emotions and positive morality, in combination with your will, make you a resourceful and goal-directed person. 
  • Though you often appear quiet and sober on the outside, you are motivated by a forceful combination of intellect, principles, and purpose. 
  • You're a faithful, dedicated worker and friend with an unobtrusive charm and high ideals.

  • Natural introversion
  • You lean toward shyness, yet are perfectly capable of lashing out with ferocity should your personal universe be threatened 
  • You are quick to anger over emotional issues
  • You are not easily discouraged from pursuing a course which you've chosen

  • Meticulous and well-organized
  • It takes you a little while to adapt to a new situation, though once you have made the adjustment, you become dedicated to the job

  • There is something captivating about your intuition-all the more pity that you do not heed your inner voice more often than you do
  • It is penetrating and effective, but you tend not to put much faith in it.

  • Your mind works systematically and methodically, and yet it is lively. 
  • Analytical
  • Your memory, like your intellect, is well-structured and vast.

  • You tend to restrain yourself when it comes to expressing your feelings, partly because of a natural distrust of others' affections. 
  • Great declarations of love are downright distasteful to you-too theatrical and pretentious to be real. Still, you can be a most endearing and faithful lover.

  • Although you tire easily and your health can suffer from nervous strain, you enjoy generally good vitality and health. 
  • You need fresh air and some sort of regular exercise in order to keep from succumbing to mental exhaustion.

  • Small circle of faithful friends whom you entertain with a quiet charm. 
  • A surprise party is a horror to you.
  • Often you become upset by the superficiality of large gatherings and tend to shy away from a demanding social schedule.

actually has TWO Personality Types:
"Perfect Beauty" and "Bearer of Good Fortune"

"Perfect Beauty"
Element: Air
Mineral: Jade
Animal: Codfish
Plant: Orchid
Color: Yellow

  • It is almost as if you are ruled by your emotions
  • Very sentimental
  • Emotional at heart, with the capacity to distance yourself from the world and assume a mask of regality
  • Innate sense of poetry, of beauty and elegance
  • Fragile and need to have tenderness returned in order to thrive

  • Rely upon beauty and charm to get you through
  • Postpone things, and highly sentimental nature runs the risk of carrying you into fantasy rather than action into the real world 
  • Introvert, but even withdrawn, you can rely on your will power to overcome adverse situations
  • That powerful will can turn to stubbornness 
  • As slow to forgive as you are quick to anger
  • Need for discipline
  • Once you establish structure, you can be a good student, especially if your studies have to do with tradition-the classics, art, or history.
  • Great appreciation for wealth and luxury, tend to prefer careers in which there is a side of glamor
  • Independence is very important for you and routine work would be offensive to your fine sensibilities
  • What makes you so enchantingly beautiful is your powerful intuition. It is so effective that it seems at times as if you have the gift of prophecy.
  • Your inner self lends you a sort of other-worldliness which people find charming and irresistibly attractive.
  • Very holistic; not going to bother yourself with details
  • You see a situation all at once, as a competent picture
  • Your curiosity is intense, and your verbal gifts are splendid
  • Boundless emotions
  • Affection and love are highest on your list of life's priorities
  • You need a lot of tenderness and affection, which you can return twofold. 
  • Your taste for comfort might lead you to a permanent relationship with an older man-someone who can give you the stability you so need
  • Fragile constitution, a strict regimen is essential for your good health
  • Acute sensitivity makes you prone to certain psychosomatic illnesses, but nothing major
  • Charming and graceful
  • Dazzling hostess
  • There is something in you that craves ritual and ceremony; most of your entertaining is likely to be rather formal and traditional
  • More men than women in your close circle of friends

Personality Type #2 
"Bearer of Good Fortune"
Element: Air
Mineral: Marble
Animal: Doe
Plant: Linden tree
Color: Orange
  • Fascinating woman with an illuminating tenderness and deep dedication to the higher qualities of life
  • Anything selfish and false in the world offends you to the core
  • Rigorous principles and sense of honor that comes from the heart
  • Strong emotions, but you tend to keep them channeled in useful activity that is of service to other people
  • Tend to excuse others' behavior and make too many demands on yourself
  • Emotions become taxed, so temper can flare up and explode
  • Terrible fear of being betrayed
  • Natural extrovert; you act with great self-confidence when you have a mission to perform, but otherwise, tend to be fairly timid
  • Astonishing quality of will; you have a great influence on people, transforming their attitudes and evoking their humanity and responsiveness to the ills of their fellow man
  • Happiest when you are sharing and giving of yourself
  • Attentive to needs of others; likely to pursue activities involving service to humanity
  • You plan well for your career and are not afraid of lengthy study or apprenticeship
  • Admirable mother, understanding and nurturing. Would also be an excellent doctor or nurse, or a field worker for social service agencies. Whatever you do, you seem to bring light and better awareness to all those around you.
  • For someone with so much empathy, you put little trust in your inner voice
  • You put your faith in reason and your own code of conduct
  • Mind is quick and alert
  • Able to get a broad perspective on a problem quickly and can confront complex situations 
  • Fine memory, especially for events with emotional charge to them
  • Curiosity is active but never invades the privacy of others
  • You need a tender, sensitive love which will match your own
  • Very emotional by nature, but your morals do not allow you to be flippant about your affections
  • Faithful, dedicated lover and wife 
  • Vitality is excellent
  • Zest for life helps you overcome illness
  • Radiant personality shines on those around you; charming and cheerful
  • Excellent and discreet hostess, always sure that everyone is happy and has what (s)he needs
  • Loud or brassy parties usually appall you, as does anything that is superficial and insincere
  • Happiest with a small group of loving friends who can share your warmth and generosity of spirit with genuine appreciation



Wednesday, October 7, 2015

"There Could Never Be a Father Who Loved His Daughter More Than I Love You"...Another Bittersweet Post on Mortality.

I was doing some housework while my iTunes played on shuffle, and when this gem of a song came on, I felt inclined to stop what I was doing, and write. So, here I am.

Stephanie Rose Photography

"Father And Daughter" by Paul Simon

If you leap awake
In the mirror of a bad dream
And for a fraction of a second
You can't remember where you are
Just open your window
And follow your memory upstream
To the meadow in the mountain
Where we counted every falling star
I believe a light that shines on you
Will shine on you forever
And though I can't guarantee
There's nothing scary hiding under your bed
I'm gonna stand guard like a postcard
of a Golden Retriever
And never leave till I leave you
With a sweet dream in your bed

I'm gonna watch you shine
Gonna watch you grow
Gonna paint a sign
So you'll always know
As long as one and one is two,
There could never be a father who loved
His daughter more than I love you

Trust your intuition
It's just like goin' fishin'
You cast your line and hope you get a bite
You don't need to waste your time
Worryin' about the market place;
Try to help the human race
Strugglin' to survive its' harshest night 

((Disclaimer, this is the song my sister and daddy danced to at her wedding, almost exactly one year ago on 10.18.14))
There is a very special relationship between dads and their daughters. My sister and I idolize our dad. We think he hung the moon. And I see the way Lilah clings to George, and I know she already feels the same way I do about my daddy. Sometimes, during days when I'm home and G is at work, LG will tell me, "I miss my dad." In those instances, we'll call him up just to tell him. I'm grateful that we can just call him up. Is it just me, or does parenthood make everybody else acutely aware of our mortality?

I have friends who have lost their dads. My heart aches for them. It is complete and utter bullshit that there are good people who die young while octogenarians who have been convicted of child molestation and murder continue to live behind bars. I feel like saying "life isn't fair" is such a gross understatement. 

The only thing that gives me hope, is witnessing that life goes on outside of these bodies we are given. I don't believe in a traditional Heaven with an old Father figure named God, puffy clouds, and a list of names VIP style for who gains entry. But I do believe the soul is eternal, and energy can't be destroyed.

I attended the most gorgeous, thoughtful, every-detail-was-perfect-this-will-rule-on-Pinterest, wedding this month. The beautiful bride lost her father a few years ago. I remember when he passed away. I felt like there were no words I could say, still having my daddy, to my friend in her grief. All I remember sharing with her, was that butterflies are my favorite symbol, and I hoped for her that the butterfly trinket I gave her would remind her that her dad was around in a new, even more beautiful and omnipresent form. After this exchange of words, she told me her dad also loved butterflies, and this was a special thing the two of them had. 

What I'm about to type will sound like fiction, but know that with every fiber in my being I promise this is true:

When this gorgeous bride and groom were saying their vows outside on the most beautiful day I'd seen all year, there was a big butterfly fluttering around her. 

I'm literally tearing up as I type this! I promise this is real.

George and I were sitting toward the back, many pews ((yes, outdoor wedding in the woods, with vintage church pews, I'm telling you, the wedding was so dreamy)) away from the newlyweds, but I saw that butterfly. Her dad was there. Of course he was. The toasts made later during the reception were so moving. His legacy was honored, and his presence was palpable.


Surprisingly, many people have asked George if he was "disappointed" that we were having another girl, or if we are going to "try for that boy." He's not disappointed. We aren't "trying for a boy." We feel sorry for the people asking the question, because clearly they don't know the magic that exists between a daddy and a daughter. We know it firsthand, and we are so excited to get to experience that twice.

Greer Inez Photography

Parenthood is a trip. These little people depend on us for their every need. I can't wait to hold our brand new, fresh from Spirit, baby girl, and I can't wait to change her diapers, and give her milk for every meal, and rock her until she falls peacefully to sleep. This time will be sacred and precious, and I'm counting down the days!

Greer Inez Photography

And simultaneously, I want to cling to my parents. I want to savor their health, their life, their time with me while I have them. My parents are young, but we just don't know what the future holds. I hope they live to be over 100 years old in the most perfect health, and then pass on peacefully in their sleep at the same time holding hands. That's how I want to go out with my man. The day after we complete everything on our Bucket List together.

I know as a society, we fear aging and being helpless and dependent. But I want my parents to know that if ever a day comes when I need to feed them, change them, rock them peacefully to sleep, I will be just as honored to love them in the way they loved me when I came into the world. When this little baby enters our lives in December, I'm not going to think, "God, what a burden. I can't believe I have to feed her again." Time will stand still when I give her what she needs. Our eyes will lock, and no words will be necessary. I'll see her soul, and she'll see mine. And my hope is that when//if I have similar experiences with my parents, they'll know that I'm just as honored to love them in this capacity. 

And if my parents are taken swiftly from me, I hope they know just how much I love them, and how much I've needed them, and that adjusting to life without their physical form will be the hardest thing I'll have to endure up to that point. It's what I fear most...losing my people. My mom lost her mother ((unexpectedly)) when she was 9 months pregnant with my sister. She was 27 years old. When I put myself in her shoes, I feel panicky.


Stephanie Rose Photography ((03.24.2012))

Stephanie Rose Photography ((03.24.2012))

The song that inspired this post belongs to my sister and dad. But when I hear the opening lyrics, I have now considered it from both perspectives. The parent taking care of the child, and the child taking care of the parent. It makes me tear up thinking about it. Not because I don't want to, but because I just want to freeze time so damn bad. I want to live forever in this middle place, where I have my babies, and my parents. 

Ultimately, I'm grateful for love, because I'd much rather carry this fear of losing my people, than not know what it was like to love someone so much. 

I'm grateful for this weekend, when the people I love most will all be in a cabin in the woods for a weekend away together. Memories are going to be made, and I'll be sure to photograph + document it, so I have the chance to re-live it in another blogpost, scrapbook, or sleepless night when I am flipping through my iPhone. 

Excuse the somewhat emotional and morbid blogpost, I'm 28 weeks pregnant, and a grown woman. I do what I want.


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Hello Third Trimester,

Dear Baby,

We are venturing into the last trimester together as one body this week. I'm always fascinated thinking about the two of us as two separate souls contained in this one body, sharing blood, sharing oxygen, sharing life. I am so excited you're a girl! I love thinking about Russian dolls, and knowing that should you decide to have children, the eggs are already inside you right now! So in theory, multiple generations of our family are all contained in our shared body at this sacred point in time. What an honor.

You are currently in the transverse position. I feel you move around all the time, but just around the edges of our anterior placenta, so it still feels so funny to me! You catch me off guard sometimes with your kicks, but I love feeling your movement. We also discovered extra amniotic fluid this week (("polyhydramnios")) that we will monitor every 2 weeks with sonograms. The cause is idiopathic, they don't know why! So in other words, I'm not sure if it's you or me, but we've been up to some mischief already together.

The polyhydramnios is why I'm looking so much further along than I really am. Also why I'm experiencing symptoms typically expected later in the third trimester ((heartburn, fatigue, swelling, pelvic and lower back pain, leg pain while sleeping)). We've been fortunate to have such kind and helpful people in our lives helping us out. Your sister is a busy 2 year old, and your daddy works a lot of hours, so both your grandmas and your Aunt Laura and Uncle Jordan have been very helpful with giving me a break. Of course, your sweet dad is the most helpful. He rubs my back every night, helps me stretch, gets me water and Captain Crunch cereal, and tells me how beautiful my ever-growing body is. I'm so grateful he's your daddy.

Your big sister is patiently waiting for her new best friend to get here!!!

Cravings: I'm still rockin' that ricotta cheese. Also loving cream cheese and yogurt. I'm really all about that dairy! I think my body is craving the calcium. I've also been loving childhood cereals. Captain Crunch, Trix, Fruity Pebbles, Reeses Puffs, and Lucky Charms have all been in the rotation. I'm jonesin' for some Captain Crunch right now as I type...

Size: The maternity photos in this blog are from a fun photoshoot with your Aunt GZ! They were from a couple weeks ago. I'm actually quite a bit larger today. I've gained 30 pounds, and even maternity clothes are starting to be uncomfortable unless they have the full-belly coverage. I started wearing a back support band, and the relief is INCREDIBLE! 

Chiropractic Care: I saw a chiropractor specializing in maternity care today for the first time! She was awesome. My sacrum, hips, and lower back were all out of alignment. Using maternity pillows and a drop-table, she adjusted my whole body, and I felt relief immediately. I felt like my body went back to two weeks ago in terms of discomfort. I'm going to continue seeing her throughout the pregnancy. Thankfully, the Affordable Care Act covers complementary health care now, and we can use our HSA card for these visits! The ACA also covered our breast pump, at 100%. 

Work: I will continue to work 3 days a week until you are born, or unless I go on bedrest. Currently, I work Tues/Thurs/Fri, usually 0630-1630. I love my co-workers, my boss, and my job. I am sitting more frequently, and everybody at work has been so kind and helpful. 

I love you so much, sweet girl. I trust that you are going to be a happy, healthy, smart, and kind little baby. You're perfect. I've been saying "I can't wait to meet you" but I need to be more intentional about my words... I can wait to meet you. Please stay safe and sound in our weird little ((transverse lying, anterior-placenta, polyhydramniotic)) womb, and no more mischief until December 15th. 


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