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. 


Monday, September 7, 2015

Dear Baby,

Well hello, there.

Feeling you move around has been such a delight. Our placenta is anterior, so I've had a more difficult time feeling you when you were smaller, but now at 24 weeks, I definitely feel you move regularly throughout the days and nights.

You've been such a great baby! You haven't made me sick, and I've felt really happy and peaceful carrying you with me everywhere we go. I like knowing that even on my drives to work, I'm not alone; we are together, pumping the same blood, sharing space in my body. I am honored to be your mama.Your daddy and sister love you so much, too! Lilah has started even called you "her baby" instead of "the baby" a few times. She'll often pat on my tummy and say "I love you" or "Hi Baby" all on her own. When it's just you, me, and Daddy in bed, he'll put his hand on my tummy and talk to you. We love knowing that you can hear us now, and that the sounds of our busy home are already becoming familiar to you. Hopefully that means when you arrive, the constant barking of Teddy and Stella won't wake you up or annoy you. Hehe.

Cravings: The oddest craving I've had has been ricotta cheese with a spoon, followed by a spoonful of cherry preserves. Mmmm. Still sounds good, actually. I've really enjoyed cannoli, too. I think you really like that good ricotta cheese. I'll be sure to get you started on lasagna early in life. Also, coffee still sounds perfect, at any hour of the day. Alcohol has been much easier to give up than cutting back on coffee has been. I have 2 cups of "half caff" a day. And I could easily have 10. No aversion to it whatsoever. Honestly, this has been the toughest part of the pregnancy, but it's much easier now that we're in the second trimester and I'm not as tired.

Sex*: When I first found out I was pregnant, I thought "BOY!" I have had 2 dreams so far, and in the first you were a boy, and in the second, a girl. About 6 weeks before we knew for sure, I had a gut feeling that you were a girl. Before our gender reveal party, I kept saying how SURPRISED I'd be if it was a boy. I'd be so happy either way, of course, but I just envisioned having two girls. When people asked if I had a preference, I was honest. I would prefer another girl. If you were a boy, the surprise would be very fun, and having the experience of raising both genders would be a fun challenge, but I really loved the idea of my children having the same sisterhood that I had growing up with your Aunt Laura. I think the potential for friendship is so strong with the same gender. You two will really understand each other, and hopefully be able to talk to each other about things that maybe you don't want to talk to us about.

Size: I've gained about 20-25 pounds so far, and absolutely loving my pregnant body. I'm eating whatever I want, I'm sleeping well, feeling refreshed in the mornings ((most of the time)), and I'm not fatigued or swollen//uncomfortable. I love getting dressed and showcasing my growing bump as my favorite part of any outfit.

I love you so much already! I am so excited for December to get here, so we can hold you, kiss you, and have hours upon hours of snuggle sessions. I pray everyday that you are happy, healthy, smart, and kind. Take your time in there, but know that we are ready for you. We've been ready for you. I even re-read a journal entry from a couple years ago, when your sister was still an infant. I wrote "Even though I'm feeling levels of contentment like never before, I know our family is not complete. Even though Lilah Grace is currently our only child, I know she is really our oldest child." We loved you before we made you, and will love you forever.

As you wiggle around in my tummy, I know you are caught between realms. I feel so honored to be connected to the spiritual realm through you. I want you to know, sweet little one, that when you arrive earth-side, it will be my honor to teach you how we do things here on this planet, but I will turn to you to remind me what the other realm is like. I will sit and stare at you with awe while you sleep, and wonder what you're dreaming of. I look forward to hearing your sounds, smelling your head, and staring into your wise and infinite eyes. Your dad and I are already so proud that we made your precious little infant body, but we know that your spirit within that body is eternal, and we honor the Divine in you. Namaste, little bun.


*Originally, I used the word "gender" but that was just out of habit. Fortunately, a progressive-minded friend pointed it out to me. The world is changing, and so am I, and regardless of your sex OR gender, I will love you infinitely.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Musings From Another Mother: Luanne.

Once a month, I've been making an effort to share musings from other mothers who inspire me.

January: Janelle 
February: Ashton 
March: Andrea
April: Allison + Annie 
May: Jen
June: Mallory 
July: Becky
August: Sherri 

This month, I am beyond privileged to share musings from Luanne.

We are family, luckily. But if we weren't, and I somehow met her despite our age difference and geographical distance from one another, I know we would still be friends. We're kindred spirits. Luanne is married to my mom's cousin Eddie. Eddie's mother and my mom's mother were siblings. Romagnolos. Luanne lives in Rochester, New York.

I think the best way to describe Luanne to someone who doesn't know her, is by simply explaining how she submitted her responses to this very blogpost. All of the other wonderful women who I've featured have responded to my questions either via e-mail or Facebook messenger. Luanne handwrote her responses, alongside a 2 page handwritten letter. She is heartfelt, thoughtful, generous, and loving. I love having her influence in my life. I am convinced the internet is a good force when it brings people like Luanne and I closer together, when before this modern day, we probably would not have had much of a relationship. I'm beyond grateful for her thoughtful responses and her wisdom. Enjoy!

Definition of a feminist: 
     My definition of a feminist is someone who genuinely celebrates the power of women...seeing them as equal in every way, with the same rights and opportunities.

Do you consider yourself a feminist? 
     Yes...absolutely. I want my 3 daughters to have the same opportunities as my 3 sons.

Do you feel closer to whatever you call the Higher Power since having a 'feminist awakening'? 
     I never had a feminist awakening. I come from a long line of strong and powerful women. My grandmother ((Nani)) came from a big Italian family of 6 girls and 2 boys. No one dared to mess with these women! They were opinionated, honest and direct. They were always willing to fight for what they believed in. They called the shots and didn't feel inferior to anyone. 
     I knew from an early age I could be and do anything I set my mind to. My parents valued me and my opinions from a very young age. With my Italian family I grew up with mass, saints, candles, feast days, nuns, and Holy Water. So religion has always been a part of my life. However, I have found my faith has gotten stronger the older I get and the more I live and experience life.

Do you think feminism and spirituality are related? 
     I see my spirituality as the act of honoring my spirit. And my spirit, the essence of who I am, is definitely a feminist. Actually it is broader than that. My wish is for all people to be included, treated equally and respected for who they are and what they believe is true for them.

What do you do and what encouraged you to get into it? 
     I have a Master's Degree in Elementary Education. I taught for 6 years and loved every minute of it. There was never a doubt about the career I would pursue. I was teaching 'school' on my street and to my friends since the age of 6. However, as much as I loved what I did, I wanted to be home full time with my children. Once we could afford it, I happily gave up teaching to spend my days with my son, Michael...eventually our family grew to include Lauren, Alison, Joe, Sam, and Grace.

What spiritual habits/practices/routines do you incorporate into your life? How do you bring spirituality into your family life?
     I love to read. Currently I am re-reading "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle. I find websites, blogs, and videos on my iPad and read or listen to deep thinkers and their ideas on life.
     I also religiously watch Joel Osteen. Every Sunday at 8pm I am in church...really I am sitting in my living room watching Joel's current message. I also listen to him in the car. He is uplifting, positive, and puts things into perspective for me.
     As a family, we try to help people in need. If someone is sick or hurting we will light a holy candle and keep them in our prayers. We keep up with our family and friends near and far. And, of course we cheer each other on every day! I love having a big family. 

Do you want your children to have the same religious experiences you did? 
     I was raised in a very traditional Catholic church. I went to Catholic schools where I had a wonderful experience. I even returned to my elementary school to teach 4th grade!
     Ed and I picked an all inclusive Catholic church for our family. We wanted our children to see the value in a church that invited EVERYONE to communion, had women in the clergy, and a place where gay people could get married. The church is located in the city of Rochester ((New York)) and funds many charitable outreaches for the poor. Although we don't attend weekly mass, our children have made all their sacraments in this church. The atmosphere is open and welcoming to everyone, so the children can develop their own ideas around religion, morals, and values.

Is there a difference between religion and spirituality?
     For me the two are interconnected. Religion is your belief system in God//A Higher Power. Your spirituality is how you practice not only those beliefs but how you honor your soul. 

What do you think happens when we die?
     I was watching Oprah's Super Soul Sunday with Marianne Williamson. Marianne described death as "extraordinary...a light show...fabulous..." She went on to say, "Death is not the punishment but the reward." I want to go with that!

How do you talk to your kids about the big questions?
     With 6 children, we let life happen. Life provides us with plenty to discuss and debate. Our children are free to discuss anything that is important to them at anytime. We listen, advise, and guide as needed. We are a very open family where feelings, thoughts, and beliefs are put on the table and discussed openly and freely.  

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Plastic Surgery...Let's Talk About Boobs.

Hey yall.

So while I typically blog about motherhood, feminism, and spirituality, occasionally I find a way for my day-job ((plastic surgery nurse)) to sneak in.

((For example, here is a post from a few years ago, on the Merge Between Feminism and Beauty))

I get asked A LOT of questions from people about my job.

"Is Botox dangerous?" 
"Do people actually transfer fat to their boobs?"
"What should I have done to get rid of this?"
"Is saline or silicone better?"

I have a big idea in the works for addressing all the questions, but until then, I thought this post might peak some interest.

So, let's talk about boobs.

I see them all day long. I photograph them, measure them, assess them, palpate them, and then help surgically modify them.

*For a while, I felt really strange about the latter.

But, over time, I've realized most of our patients have wanted this particular body modification for years, and after their surgery, they feel confident, empowered, and have a stronger connection to their identity.

It's a bit of a stretch, but many of our patients can relate to Caitlyn Jenner when she said she identified as being a woman, and her whole life felt like she was in the wrong body. Many large-breasted women are dancers, gymnasts, cheerleaders, athletes, or just free-spirited hippies who want to go braless in a sundress but felt like their body type has held them back. Most of society is pretty accepting of the woman who chooses to have a breast reduction. But the other side of that coin is the woman who feels like her chest makes her "look like a little boy" and while she wears feminine clothes and enjoys embracing her femininity in all other aspects, feels as though her lack of breast tissue doesn't fit with how she sees herself. 

Of course, I find the psychological + sociological aspects of surgery fascinating. But I'm going to try to keep it simple with this post and just explain what the procedures are.

  • A breast reduction is essentially the same surgery as a breast lift. The incisions are around the areola, vertically down the breast, and horizontally in the crease. Many people refer to this as an "anchor" incision. 
  • If the intention is to decrease the size, it's called "reduction mammaplasty." If the intention is to lift the nipple position, it's called a "mastopexy." 
  • Either way, when the nipple position comes up, some breast tissue is lost. While every person is different, most people go down a few cup sizes with this surgery. Some people only want to lift the nipple, not lose breast tissue. When that's the case, a small implant can be placed at the same time.
  • Many people who do a mastopexy with a breast augmentation ((breast lift with an implant)) wear the same bra size after surgery as they did pre-operatively. They just fill out their bras differently; they have more upper pole fullness.
  • By far, the most common way to increase breast size is with an implant. 
  • Regardless of saline//silicone, we almost ALWAYS put the implants under the muscle. Implants above//over the muscle can make interpreting mammograms more difficult. It's easier to interpret a mammogram on a patient with implants under//below the muscle because it pushes breast tissue up and makes it more visible. And as an added bonus, it looks a lot better, too. There's a natural slope from the upper chest as opposed to looking "stuck on."
  • The most common incision is in the inframammary crease (("IMC")). If a woman has a breast augmentation, she will likely have a future implant exchange, and the IMC is required for these surgeries, so it makes sense to start there. The armpit (("axillary")) incision is commonly requested, but most women don't realize that these scars show more often than the IMC incisions ((tank tops, bathing suits, sleeveless dresses, etc...)). They also have a slightly higher risk of infection.
    • Saline Implants
      • Are essentially an FDA-approved, expensive water balloon
      • Come with a 10 year warranty
      • Less expensive
    • Silicone Implants
      • Also FDA-approved, feel like breast tissue
      • Come with a lifetime warranty
      • Shows less "rippling" than saline implants, typically a better choice for thinner patients for this reason
        Rippling can still occur with silicone implants, but is far more common with saline. Going under the muscle for implant-placement also helps decrease rippling.
  • Fat Transfer
    • If a patient is opposed to implants, but still wants to make her breasts larger, she can have fat transferred from one area of her body to the breasts ((another common request is to the booty)).
    • Fat transfer is a very safe procedure, but not as reliable as an implant. A lot of times, patients are happy immediately after, but after the swelling subsides, and some of the fat dissipates, the results aren't as impressive. If a subtle change is all that the patient wants, it's a great option. 
This is all just the tip of the iceberg! It's kind of fun to blog about something different, and share some of my expertise with yall.

If you have specific questions, feel free to click on the "contact" link at the top of this page.


Friday, August 7, 2015

My C-Section ((How I Felt Then + Now))

When I was pregnant with Lilah Grace ((to be fair, years before I was even pregnant)), I envisioned for a natural birth. In nursing school, my group was selected to present at the statewide research symposium, on our findings on water immersion during natural labor. My mother-in-law birthed her 3rd son at home. I watched the natural birth documentary, The Business of Being Born several times, and all subsequent episodes. I read all the Ina May Gaskin ((legendary midwife + author )) I could get my hands on.

If I'm being honest,  "C-Section mama" was a title that meant one of two things to me:
  • A woman who was taken advantage of by her doctor's schedule and/or the medical system
  • A woman who didn't care about the experience of childbirth; somebody who wanted to skip labor and just hold their baby
During the childbirth class at the hospital, I didn't even attend the c-section segment. There was just no way that was going to happen to me. I did my research, I found a midwife who had privileges at a hospital that took our insurance, and if nothing else, I've had "child bearing hips" on my otherwise petite frame since middle school.

I shared my opinions on this blog while pregnant ((with Lilah Grace)). Some of my words:
  • "I also have been reflecting on some powerful words by Ina May Gaskin, before I embark on this journey of BIRTHING our baby! I am not afraid to go into labor. Sure, her size is intimidating...and I know it's going to be painful...but I am excited to be the vessel that allows a spiritual being to become her own physical lifeform. What an honor."
  • "I'm not fearful of labor. I can endure anything for a day. And women have been having babies for all of time. I'm actually excited (feel free to roll your eyes). The concept of being a vessel that brings a spiritual being into a physical being is an honor, and I think it will be a transformative and spiritual moment."
  • "After seeing "The Business of Being Born," I thought birthing at "The Farm" in Tennessee would be an amazing experience. I even called shortly after discovering I was expecting, but was disappointed to hear that we could DEFINITELY not afford it."

I visited "The Farm" ((arguably the natural birth hub of the world with the lowest c-section rate, at 2%)), meditated + visualized + prayed, and ultimately knew on a deep level where I belonged; I would be a naturally birthing mama. I already identified with that group of mothers. I already judged the others.

At an estimated 42 weeks, I tried to sleep, but the intermittent discomfort + anticipation kept me awake. After a few hours of contractions in the bathtub at home, I woke up my husband and told him it was time to go. The natural birth was indeed going to happen!

I had ALL OF THE FEELINGS on my 12 hours natural labor-turned 10 hours epidural labor-turned emergency c-section where my epidural had worn off, and I felt horrible + traumatic pain//pulling//ripping//electric shocks from the cauterization. 

But beyond the physical pain, I felt like a complete failure as a woman. I felt like I failed at the one thing my body was made to do...that all women's bodies were made to do...that every woman in my family and George's HAD DONE. Then, I felt like a spoiled, first-world brat. Everybody telling me that Lilah and I would've died 50 years ago made me feel really weird. Of course, I was grateful for modern medicine, and I thought about women in countries right now, in this decade, who die because the lack of adequate healthcare. I was grateful for the medical team. But I wondered...was my body made to reproduce? If I wasn't even capable of bringing a baby into the world without a major operation and the help of a medical team?


I think the spiritual reason I had a c-section with Lilah Grace was to teach me humility. I pretty much already had my natural birth story written out, in detail, in my head and in my heart. It looked nothing like the real story.

Before she was even born, I was prepared to soak up compliments from family + friends on my courage, bravery, and badassery. I was desperately craving external validation that I was a powerful woman.

Now, 2 years later, and 20 weeks into my second pregnancy, I realize I needed less judgment on moms who have c-sections. On moms who say "yes, please!" to drugs during labor. Because the labor//birth story doesn't prove you're powerful, though it can make for an inspiring story. I still cheer on the sidelines for the natural birthers, and I'm still impressed + inspired when I hear about those beautiful birth stories. Honestly, I'm still a little jealous. But my perspective has evolved quite a bit.

Overcoming obstacles showcases power. Being grateful and happy are more important to me than being sad about the birth story I wanted to have, but didn't. At last...internal validation.