Earth-side.

I remember that morning so clearly. It was a little after five in the morning and after having taken a few different pregnancy tests, all of which said positive, I woke your dad to tell him you were here.

I remember the exact part of the I5 your dad and I were driving when we agreed upon your name, Row.

And I remember standing on golden colored leaves in the pouring rain with your dad when we opened the ultrasound envelope revealing you were a girl. It was the same park we had walked many times, getting lost in the deep woods before emerging onto the ocean path. The deep woods where he and I walked hand in hand, some days arguing, other days dreaming, many days laughing and countless conversations of when you’d finally arrive.

You have always been wanted. We wanted you for a very a long time.

And then you grew and my belly grew. At night time you’d start kicking and your dad and I would each have our hands on my belly, hoping to catch your next move.

We took you to France and next, to Italy. We drove through Death Valley and hiked across sand dunes. Your dad went to South Africa and made a knife from the earth’s dust. We celebrated your great grandma’s 90th. We bought you a house. There were so many wonderful things we did while you were in my belly, but none of them were as sweet as experiencing you.

You arrived just after midnight and I will never forget grabbing your sweet body and pulling you to my chest. The world had both stopped and just began. Your birth not only meant your arrival but I too was born as your mother, as was your dad. It was in those first few moments of having your little ear rest against my chest, that the air became so fresh, it was as if I was breathing for the first time, too. Your soft, silk-like head that fit perfectly into my hand. Your tiny chest and belly that laid against my chest and belly. Your little toes, your fingers, the fuzz on your ears, your puffy eyes and cheeks, your long legs. You were perfection. You were heaven. You were the moment I had been waiting for, my entire life.

Today, you have been earth-side for as long as you were in my belly. You still are our heaven. You are absolutely divine. You are forever what binds the three of us all together and there is truly nothing that makes me happier than this thought, for you and your dad are my favorite humans ever. Ever.

You’ve made me a better person. You’ve given me joy. You’ve taught me the importance of time and how special each and every moment is. You’ve helped me come out of my head. You’ve helped me stand up for myself. You’ve made me more confident.

All of these things you’ve changed in me, simply by being you.

Right now, you love to laugh. You love to chat. You love when people chat with you. At restaurants, you love to sit backwards in your highchair so you can chat with whomever is sitting behind us. You have sparkly eyes. Even strangers will come up to us and tell us that you have sparkly eyes. You have chipmunk cheeks and the most beautiful smile. You are brave and you are fearless. You pull yourself up onto things to see what else you can reach. You don’t care if you’ll fall or if it’s dangerous. You just trust. You are determined but you are also very accepting. When I’m making breakfast, you crawl across the kitchen floor and tug on my pant legs until I pick you up. Sometimes you use my pant legs to try and stand up. It makes me so happy to feel your little tug and to look down and see my wide-eyed-wonder baby looking up at me. You scream when dad comes into the room. You absolutely cannot handle his presence. You explode with excitement and crawl as fast as you can to him. You sing in the bath and grunt when we put you into pajamas and you fall asleep quickly, with Moon, your little doll from “dada.”

You are my Moon. My Jupiter. My forever star in the sky.

I will do everything I possibly can to give you happiness, to show you love, to protect you. I will always want you in my arms but instead, I will teach you to walk, and then run, and then ride a bike, so you can explore the ends of the earth and see how beautiful this planet is. And I will always be with you, whether here, or in the sky, or a phone call away, or sleeping next to you in bed. I simply cannot exist without you and perhaps that’s the most beautiful part of this all. God has given me you and so my existence will forever remain intertwined with you and your beautiful spirit. You came from my body out of more than just science but from magic and creation and the fact that Someone who loves you even more than I love you has been waiting for you to come earth-side since the dawn of time. You are my Everything and the greatest honor of my life is being your mother. Right now, we get to be here amongst the flowers and I will treasure each and every one of these days. You are my flower. My rose. My sunshine. My fortress. My little baby girl, I love you.

I love you so, Row.

38 weeks and 6 days out.

38 weeks and 6 days out.

38 weeks and 4 days in (hours before my water broke).

38 weeks and 4 days in (hours before my water broke).

38 weeks and 6 days out.

38 weeks and 6 days out.

Born at 38 weeks and 6 days . Day 1.

Born at 38 weeks and 6 days . Day 1.

happy 8 months

8 whole months. 9 full moons. It was also a Sunday when you first came into my arms. Sunday, my favorite day of the week.

You still reach your arms out to the side the same way as when you first met my chest. For as much as I wish that you were a cuddly baby, I love your openness to the world. Even when I’m holding you in my arms, you turn your body out to see what is in front of you. You love to look around and observe. You love people. You love experiences and getting out and there isn’t a single food you don’t like so far. 

You’ve given me magic. The magic I slowly started losing as I’ve gotten older has returned because of you. Sometimes, I wish I could have met you sooner, but any change of circumstance may not have given me you. And it is you whom I adore.

We’re a little family of three and though this number is small, the two of you make my world feel bigger and brighter than I’ve ever known. 

I’ve been searching for you my entire life. I didn’t know who the who was, but I now know it’s you. For love is all I’ve ever longed for, and love is exactly what you are. 

You are so beautiful. So beautiful. So smart, so strong, already, so independent. You are calm and quiet and playful and smitten. When your dad picks you up, your eyes light up greater than I’ve ever seen and you look so happy and proud. On top of the world. Completely in love. 

Last night when you woke up crying, I picked you up and held you against my chest. You laid your head down on my shoulder and I rocked you. It’s the first time you’ve ever let me do that (besides when you were a sleepy newborn). It was just us. Your quiet body against mine, safe and secure. Whole.

I love you my little Row Adelaide.

2019!

And just like that, she started clapping her hands!

Eric got her out of bed this morning and when he brought her into our bedroom, she saw me and started waving her hands in a circular motion, kind of like she was using a jump rope. We both laughed at the weird new dance move she was doing until I realized what she was doing.

Yesterday, I was clapping my hands for her. She was mesmerized and would stare with her mouth wide open. Today, she is clapping her own hands.

It was like that a few weeks ago, too, when I spent an entire day saying dada dada dada to her. The next morning, when Row was supposed to be having a nap, we checked her baby monitor and sure enough, she was in her crib saying dadadadada! Eric immediately ran to her room, overjoyed, and got her out bed. Together they came out saying dadadada.

A few days ago, my dad, Eric and I all sat around Row saying mama. She hasn’t said it yet, but every time we say it to her, she stares intensely at our mouths and mimics what our lips are doing with her own.

I suppose that’s what this new year will be like. Lots of newness that to some seem little, but to us are huge.

2018, a reflection.

Today is the last day of my daughter’s birth year. This makes me sad, though not fully, because since becoming a mother, there’s hardly any time to process what’s going on. It all goes by so quickly, everyone says that, I know, because it’s true. This year will always remain a time capsule of one of the hardest (or perhaps just stressful) and best years of my life. A difficult pregnancy, career hardship, moving, buying a home, having a baby, the fourth trimester (which deserves way more discussion), learning to become a parent, learning to still be a wife and not just a parent. It’s all been complex and all been so beautiful.

And so, while after today, I will no longer have access to this year, still, I am ready.

As I mourn no longer having a newborn, each day becomes bigger and brighter, as I realize Row is just beginning to develop her personality. This is beyond exciting. Right now, our world together has been very tiny, but as she grows, I grow, and we discover how big and beautiful not only this world is, but how big and beautiful she is. Each day, she laughs more than she has ever laughed in her entire life. What a wonderful experience, to laugh more than you have ever laughed before. This happens, every single day. She is so happy. As am I.

What do I want for 2019?

Honestly, I already have everything I want. So much of my life before Row was defined by success that no longer holds much value to me. Yes, I still have my personal goals, but I don’t feel the need to broadcast any of this to the world anymore. Before, I shared online because I wanted these special moments to live beyond just me and perhaps inspire someone else in the world. Now, everything in my life feels so sacred that I simply want to keep it for myself. Any sharing is done with those directly around me: family, friends, strangers, the tangible. And here, too, I suppose, but this places feels sacred, too. My personal, quiet, little corner of the Internet.

Perhaps that’s what I want: the here and now. Having a daughter has made me painfully aware of time. It made me cry when I dropped my dad off at the airport yesterday, not knowing when I’ll see him again. It’s made me aware of my grandparents and how much time they have left. It’s made me wonder how much time I have left. I’ve always thought about this, but having a child shifts everything into focus. Suddenly I’m eating well, trying/wanting to exercise more, training myself how to think more positive thoughts, having goals and purpose each day, anything I can to be healthy for her in order to experience every bit of her for as long as I possibly can.

None of this is meant to be sad, though, for as sad as I am to leave 2018, I know 2019 is filled with entirely new wonder. I can’t stop any of what is happening, but I can be fully here to embrace it and dive head first into it.

Unsolvable.

Nothing can prepare you for parenthood. Nothing.

I knew this before. I had been told this before and I believed it but I didn’t understand it until my daughter was born.

Nothing is as sweet as the first time you meet your child. Nothing. Nothing can prepare you for this moment either.

We are four months in. It feels like I met her just yesterday and yet, I (and my husband) know her better than anyone else on this planet, including herself. There’s something incredibly special about that. 

Four months in and it was at three months I finally realized I cannot solve motherhood. Up until that point, that is what I had been trying to do: master a plan. Cause and effect. No, not entirely. Not with motherhood. Unless you mean that the effect will vary greatly, regardless of whether it’s the same cause or not. 

It’s beautiful, being a mother, but nothing, truly, could have ever prepared me for this journey. It comes in waves. Waves of feeling like I’ve got this to waves of feeling utterly desperate, confused and full of self-doubt and guilt. It’s a mix of the highest highs–hearing her first bouts of laughter and having tears run down my eyes from how beautiful she sounds–to the lowest of lows–seeing actual pain in her eyes or postpartum depression. 

Motherhood is entirely unsolvable which makes it beautiful and mysterious and the craziest, hardest thing I have ever done. I have to offer myself grace, over and over again, because I will never get this right. 

And sometimes I just have to stop, stop the thoughts or the folding of laundry and just sit with her and see things from her perspective. Things are new and exciting and bright. We took her to a kids activity at the library yesterday and my daughter, the one who is so quiet and hardly makes a peep (ever), was the loudest one there. All of the babies quieted down for story time and Row, seeing all of these tiny humans just like her, was squealing and chatting and screaming in complete joy. The quiet one became loud and expressive.

So at the end of the day, when I’m so tired I can barely form a sentence, or in the early morning, where I have to force my eyes open and my body out of bed to pick up her stirring body, I am reminded of love. Love that circles between her and I. Love that circles between my husband and I. Love that I should offer a stranger more often. Love that I should show those hardest to love.

Perhaps it’s not only motherhood that’s unsolvable, perhaps it’s life. 

And that’s okay. 

You + I. 

We float through this life together. We fall, we bruise, we laugh, we cry, we kiss, we cuddle, we wonder why and how things could ever be this way.

And that’s okay.

You + I. We’re all in this together.

There was a season in my 20s where I didn’t want any children. I realized, later, this was due to fear. Fear of all the things that could go wrong by bringing a child into this world. Fear of my own personal failure as a human and potential mother. Fear of war and hate and sadness and climate change. But one day things changed, and suddenly I wanted you more than anything I have ever wanted before. For many moons, I prayed you into existence, but now I see your existence was always going to happen, it was simply when time would allow me to meet you. You came, and the fear from before is just as real today as it has ever been, except when you arrived in my arms, with you, you brought a greater love than I have ever known to exist before. I open your door, slowly, quietly, as to not wake you and I see you there, swinging, peacefully, eyes closed, head turned to the right, swaying back and forth in your rocker, wrapped in your grey sweater. You don’t know the fear I know, nor do you care. And that’s what’s so beautiful. You are spring and a garden of pink and white lilies, a lavender tree and forget-me-nots. Rhododendrons, azaleas, and dahlias. You are fresh and you are pure and live life to its absolute fullest. Maybe the love I have for you is a reflection of the love God has for me. Maybe the way you see the world is how it was always meant to be. And so, on a day like this, when I have a list of things to do that runs further than any river, maybe it’s okay that I stop every now and then and write out these thoughts so I always remember this sweet, glistening time. You’ve changed me and buried so many of my fears. I see my aging skin and I notice more wrinkles around my eyes and I just don’t care anymore because those wrinkles around my eyes are from how big you make me smile. I love you, Row. One day you’ll be big like me and I don’t know if you will ever know or see me the way I know and see you now. But I hope you always see things as pure and honest and true because that’s you.

I kiss your belly button because it’s how we used to be connected as one entity and now when I nurse you, I feel as if we are one again. I cannot explain it except that when I sit down (or stand) to nurse you, I literally feel a wave of anxiety sucked out of me. It’s a physical feeling that comes from my back and out of my chest and I feel as if I am floating. It’s euphoria. You do that to me, my love. It’s you. You release the burden of the world on my back and show me how life is meant to be. You are the sweetest thing.

 

I can’t count the number of times I’ve looked down at you with tears running down my face but a smile as wide as the sky, to tell you how important you are and that what you say and do matters. I question everything I do now, absolutely everything, because I know you are watching. You are absorbing everything and your mere existence has brought to light every insecurity I have and made me look it in the face and cast it out. I wish I had done these things sooner but I didn’t value myself the way I value you; now I see that to value myself teaches you how to value yourself, too. I don’t ever want you to feel the shame I’ve felt. You are perfect. You are exactly who you are meant to be. 

 

I am the same person I was before you were born, and yet, since the day you were born, I will never be the same.

Now, who do I see?

I see a tired mother with tired eyes. The circles under my eyes, darker, like in the night when we are together and I’m listening to her breath as she sleeps. When she wakes, crow’s feet form across my eyes from the smile I cannot contain when I look at her, even if it is barely dawn. She smiles with her whole face and I am lost in her atmosphere. It’s all I care to do these days. She coos; I coo. Oh-goooo. Your first word. Oh-kkkkk. Your second. Now it’s ah-goooo and kuhhh and boooo of some sort.

Now, who do I see?

I see a mother whose body is soft, whose breasts fluctuate in size and leak. They aren’t what they used to be but they feed my baby who with her big, bright (turning brown) eyes looks up into my eyes as she nurses. She stares into my soul as she sucks. If I dart my eyes away, still she is looking–though I never want to look away from her. I am her whole world and she is mine. Sometimes she will smile at me as she is sucking and I wish to stop time. Attached to me again, please don’t ever let go, like when she was in my waterbed stomach (my daughter’s old home). I cradled her inside of me for 9 months and for 9 months, we were one. 

Now, who do I see?

I see my sweet, darling girl laying on my chest sleeping, and again, I feel as if we are one. 

What my 6-week old daughter has taught me:

1. Let go.

This seems to be a theme in my life, how to let go and move on. Whether it’s the simple things or the complicated things. Row can go from smiling to crying to smiling all in about 5 seconds. Suddenly her bubbles are relieved and she’s back smiling again (we call her burps “bubbles,” it’s much cuter). As soon as her bubbles are gone, she simply forgets and has moved on. It’s been a really great reminder for me to move on, let go, not dwell or let anger stew. Just let go. Life’s much more enjoyable that way.

2. Shadows are the coolest thing in the world.

No really, the coolest thing in her world right now is looking at a shadow on the wall. Or a striped sweater. Actually, she’d prefer to look at our entire closet. She will crank her head around and stare at every contrasty object in her field of vision. She’s obsessed with the simplest little thing that I don’t notice. It reminds me though to slow down and look at the simple things, the small things, the mundane things. Pay attention to them. Focus. Don’t let yourself be victim to information overload. Allow yourself to be bored so your mind has room to breathe and create. Stare at the crack in the ceiling and let yourself think. Be intentional while doing the dishes. Appreciate the slowness that comes with life. One day I’ll feel as if it’s all gone by much too fast.

My labor story.

My water broke.
You were excited; I was scared. 
This is how you’ve always seen this world. 
This is what calmed my nerves.

It was past midnight. We drove.
Under the stars and the planets,
just you and I on the road.
Our little Row, so close.

Night became dawn.
Dawn turned into pain. 
Pain meant she was coming.
And soon it was dusk again.
Soon it would be day again.

You wrapped your arms around me,
my head enveloped in your chest.
The warmth of your breath against my face,
suddenly, I was in your cave.
Push. Relax this muscle. Breathe. 
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Again. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. 

The waves cave in
but the voices disappeared. 
It was just us, rowing into the sea. 
Back and forth. 
Pushing. Releasing. 
Your voice was steady.
Deep, 
like the sea. 
Omnipresent, 
my guiding light. 
Rowing back and forth through the waves, 
deep, 
like the sea.
Omnipresent, 
my guiding light. 

My body broke and opened like the earth. 
A sink hole. A whirlpool. An earthquake. A volcano. 
A fault line torn apart. 

And there she was, our little love. 
Our dove. 
Her arms stretched wide as the sea.
I reached down and grabbed her and pulled her onto my chest. 
A tidal wave of love was suddenly on my breast.

My rainbow. 
My meadow. 
My starry night. 

You were soft. 
You were calm. 
Your eyes were deep, dark and open. 
Deep, dark and open, 
like the ocean
we were rowing on.

My lullaby. 
My little dove.
My little doe.
My little Row.

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