Monday, September 22, 2014

Dear Mr. Graham

Dear Mr. Graham,

I stood near you this morning as you ordered your coffee. It was just you and me at the grocery store Starbucks. I was sprinkling cinnamon in my drink when I looked up and saw you walking up to the counter. I believe it was you; there's hardly any mistaking the eyes of a father who's daughter is missing. You wore a UVA ball cap, no doubt a hat you were gifted or bought because your sweet Hannah goes to the school. You ordered two tall coffees, one for you, and--I presume--one for Hannah's mama.

The cups look so small in your hands. I think of how small Hannah must have looked in your arms when she was a baby. I see your worried brow, scrunched and so sad.
I try to think of what to say.  What words could possibly comfort you as I stand in front of you bouncing my own little daughter in an Ergo?

I wonder if you would rather be left alone, if you are tired of talking to people and you just want a cup of coffee.

I wonder if you are overwhelmed by being in a grocery store, where everyone else's lives just keep going. They are buying their bread and their eggs, checking items off of their list while you wait and agonize over would could have possibly happened to your little girl.

I wonder if you pictured Hannah on your drive to the store, like I did.

This is where Hannah was running. 


This is where she turned down the street.

I push the lid on my coffee cup, thinking of what to say.

Do I tell you I'm praying for you? 

Do I just smile and walk away? 

Is it insensitive of me to say anything when I'm literally holding my own healthy daughter in my arms?

I decide to say nothing, for fear of saying something stupid.

And now I regret it.

It's too late now, unless you by some miracle read this some day, but just in case:

I wish I could have told you that I'm so sorry for what you're going through, and that your daughter is on my mind all day, every day. I look for signs of her everywhere I go. I just want you to know that I won't stop. I will pray and do whatever I can to help, and I won't stop until you tell me to.




Wednesday, August 6, 2014

So, how's life with two?

Y'all. It's been so long since I blogged that I actually forgot my own password.

This is not a good sign.

If any of you out there still read this thing, then don't worry. I'm not going anywhere. I just needed a hot second to collect myself after I became a mom of two.

You know, I'm still baffled by the mathematics behind it, but I have found that even though my children only doubled, the time it takes me to get out of the house has ever-lovin' quadrupled. Not to mention: shower, answer emails, work, unload the dishwasher, pee...seriously.

I'm being a little dramatic here, but truly only a little.

I get this question a lot, "So, how's life with two?"

Honestly? It's pretty awesome. I didn't know God made babies who don't cry 24 hours a day like Simon did. Poor thing... he was so miserable for the first few months of his life. I remember soaking up the three minutes out of the day when he would actually SMILE. It never lasted long before his colic kicked back in and he screamed until bounced him up and down until the house nearly started sagging.

Owen hardly cries. And before any of you mothers reach through the screen and back hand me across the face, I ask you to refer back to the paragraph above. When she does cry, it's because she's very tired or very hungry.

Owen mostly enjoys looking around, kicking her legs and smiling at inanimate objects like ceiling fans or framed photos. When an actual person comes into her view, you'd think the child won the lottery. She gets so darn delighted to see a face. She coos, she grins and sometimes she even shrieks because she's so happy. My heart could burst open right onto the floor. Her big brother has been known to throw his trains, his beanbags, the water hose nozzle (I can't make this stuff up) her when she's in her cradle. She mostly just looks at him, like

"Pull yourself together, big brother, or you're going to get another timeout."

I don't know if it's because she's a more laid-back baby or if it's because she's my second baby, but I would honestly say that, despite the sleep deprivation, the blow out diapers, the constant nursing and the baby fingernails that have demolished my chest (can I get an "Amen?"), I have enjoyed nearly every second of having a newborn this time around.

Again, don't hate me, mothers. Last time I went on prescription anxiety medication, remember?

I have a friend who said, "Love never divides, it always multiplies," when I expressed by fear of not loving Owen Elizabeth as much as Simon. I thought it was Hallmark-y at the time, but now I get it. I totally get it.

Having two is amazing. It's time-consuming, and I'm constantly tending to a need, whether it's changing a diaper or refilling a cup of raisins. I never get through even half of my to-do lists, but I am delighted to have been gifted these two ducklings of mine. I could just squeeze them both until their eyeballs pop out. That's how life is with two, y'all.

Stick around. There's bound to be more to write about soon.



Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Dear Simon

Dear Summah Beekuh (this is how you say your name),

I haven't written to you in awhile, Bubby Wubs. Since I've last written, we've moved into a new house with a yard where you like to chase your dog, ride on your trucks and hide so that you can put rocks in your mouth without me seeing. I've never seen a child run so fast as when you get caught doing something you know you're not supposed to be doing. Rock-eating aside, this is what I dreamed of for you: you have a simple little bedroom and you share a bathroom with the rest of us and there's not a ton of storage. But you have a yard, with dirt and bugs and sticks and rocks. Your language has exploded since we've been here. You speak in sentences now,

"Where did Dada go?" or "I will play with Sarah!" or "I hear..." fill in the blank here. You say it all day long. "I hear a firetruck!" or "I hear a dog!" or "I hear sister. Sister crying?"

Since I've last written to you, you've also gotten a little sister. Folks ask me what you think of her, and what I usually say is that, honestly, you don't really think of her. That's OK, baby. Soon enough. You say "hi" to her every now and then or you tell me when she's crying. More often, I find you driving your trains over her head or poking her eyeballs. The other day, I heard her cry get muffled, and I found you on top of your sister in her bassinet, sucking your thumb and trying to cuddle her. It was the sweetest, scariest thing. I told you that it was really sweet of you to try and cuddle her, but that we have to be more gentle than that. "Seetah cryyyying!" you said, like, "Mom, you weren't doing anything, so I had to take matters into my own hands." Fair enough.

You are a fascinating child. And as much as I don't want to stereotype you, you are ALL. BOY. I was just telling your Daddy last night that this epitomizes you:

Many children can run or walk from one room to another. You make it your mission in life to take the most destructive route from point A to point B, and you take that route running. You don't just go from the kitchen to the family room. You RUN from the kitchen to the family room, and on the way, you pull a bowl off the shelf, climb over a chair, throw a toy at the wall, fall a few times and then--when you get there--you fling yourself onto the sofa and pull all of the pillows and cushions off. I am not kidding you, child, when I say you are capable of doing all of this in less than one minute. It is exhausting. I absolutely adore you. But I would be lying if I didn't say that I all but collapse on the sofa when you go down for your afternoon nap or pour myself a glass of wine as soon as you go to bed at night.

The other day you ate bird poop and cried. After I cleaned your mouth out, I asked you why you did it, and you said,

"Mama! I don't know."

 You are precious, child. I sometimes think God made you extra cute, so I wouldn't do something terrible when you put entire rolls of toilet paper in the toilet and stop the washing machine for the second time. Just kidding.

Thank you for being you, Simon Baker. I love being your mom.


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Owen Elizabeth's Birth Story

I suppose there's no better way to dive back into the blogosphere than with a good ole fashioned birth story!

Most of you know about my long, long labor with Simon and my anxiety about having to do all that again. With Simon, it was really important to me to try and go for a "natural" birth (I hate that word for it...let's call it "unmedicated"). This time, I had decided that I was open to an epidural, and by open, I mean I wanted one. BAD.

Starting at 36 weeks, my beloved OB started doing weekly internal exams. At 36 weeks, I was 2cm and mostly effaced. He told me that day, "Oh, this is gonna go fast." I think I smiled politely, but I definitely did not believe him. Sorry, Ed! The next week, I was 3cm and the week after, I was 4. When I went in for my 39-week appointment, I was nearly 6cm and fully effaced.

He asked me if I was having contractions.

"Nah, just Braxtons." I told him.

As I was saying this, he had his hand on my belly, checking for the baby's position. He looked at me and said, "What? You're having a big one right now. You don't feel that?"

Nerp. Just felt like someone was pulling my skin taut like a big ole drum on my belly.

He did a membrane sweep to try and get things a goin' for me. Again, there was no discomfort. It just felt like he was snapping his fingers...on my cervix. Odd. But not painful.

He then sent me home and made me promise that I'd call him if I felt anything consistent.

"Okie doke!" I said, fairly convinced I still wouldn't have a baby for a few more days.

I picked Simon up from my mom's house and continued unpacking the house. Did I mention that we moved two weeks before this? As I was bopping around, scrubbing toilets and oxy-cleaning the toddler stains out of clothes, I noticed that what I would describe as Braxton Hicks were happening every five-ish minutes. I ignored it, thinking that it couldn't be "real" until it started to get uncomfortable.

So, like any normal person having regular contractions, I went to Harris Teeter. I got an iced coffee. Simon got a cookie. We bought eggs, bread, coffee, creamer...necessities. As we bee-bopped up and down the aisles, I noticed that they were more like three-ish minutes apart. Still, though, on the pain scale, I was still a "0" so I figured I'd keep on keepin' on.

I called N. on the way home and told him I'd been timing them--that they were regular and three minutes apart.

"I'm coming home." He said.

"But they don't hurt!" I must have said this 3,800 times that day.

I called the doc, and he told me to meet him at the hospital. This guy doesn't say that willy-nilly. I told N, "I reckon we ought to get ourselves to the hospital, then."

Mimi came to get Simon, and N. and I packed up, still in disbelief that we'd actually have a baby soon. I got all misty saying "bye" to Simon. This was the last time he'd be my only baby.

When we got to the hospital, I put on my actress hat. I thought they'd send me home if I didn't look like I was dying, so each time I had a BH, I'd breathe all heavy so as to convince them that I really was in labor. A nurse hooked me up to a contraption to monitor my contractions, and sure enough, they were regular and strong as can be.

"Ooo that was a good one!" She'd say, and I had totally missed it.

"Yeah! Good one, whew!" Total faker.

Getting monitored and trying to act like I was in labor. Bad poker face.

Y'all. These cups are the reason I have babies. Nah. Almost.

Sweet Doctor Ed came in and told her to take me off that thing and warm up the room, "Why is it so freezing in here?" then put my feet in stirrups, checked me, said I was nearly 7cm and broke my water. "I can't send you home," he told me.

"It'll go fast from here, " he said, "I'll be in the cafeteria." Then he left and I sat on a birthing ball.

That was 6:45pm, and about 5 minutes later, I felt my first "real" contraction. From then on, they came FAST, about every 30 seconds or so and whoa baby. Those puppies hurt. For some reason, breathing into my balled up fist really helped me get through them. So strange and specific, but it helped. N. was, as always, as amazing coach. He cheered me through each one telling me how great I was doing.

As soon as they really started hurting, I told him, "I don't want to be scared. Pray against me being afraid." And he'd pray. Then I'd ask him again. I must have told him fifty-six times that I didn't want to be afraid. I knew the fear was the worst part.

I felt the baby drop when I was on the ball, and told the nurse. "She's coming down."

"Do you need to push?"

"No." I said.

Then I stood up from the ball to get into the bed, felt her drop again, and then wham! YESIREE BOB. I needed to push.

I don't remember individual contractions from this point on; they were just one on top of the other, and I was ready for that epidural, folks.

Everyone told me that they didn't think I had time, but--I think just to appease me--they tried setting up an IV. She poked and poked. I never did get that epidural. But they did give me a little shot Fentanyl, which felt like a few glasses of wine.

I moaned a lot this time; I yelled a lot last time. Anyway, pushing:

I told them that I liked using the pull-up bar to push last time. They looked at me, like We don't have time for that flim-flam and told me to pull my legs to my belly and start pushing.

My first push felt like I wasn't doing anything. I made all manner of prehistoric animal noises, and my sweet Doc said, "Brett, I know you think that's helpful, but it's not. Try to push without making that noise next time." So funny. Not at the time. But so funny now.

I pushed silently with all my might with the second push, looked down and saw her little head! The "ring of fire" that people talk about was never noticeable to me. Everything felt like it was on fire, what's a little perineum pain, amIright?!

"Little push this time, and she'll be out!" My doc said, and out she came at 8:09pm. Y'all. That's an hour and twenty minutes of labor. "Precipitous" they called it. I had to Google that. 

They put little Owen Elizabeth on my chest and I looked at N. He's such a big daddy teddy bear-his eyes were teary as can be. I just kept saying, "Oh my gosh!" and "Hi!" to my baby girl. She was grayish blue from being born so fast. N. asked about it, and they said she would pink up on my chest, so I put her up under my shirt, and sure enough, she did.

Look how gray! :(

With Simon, I was exhausted. I didn't even have the strength to smile. With Owen, I had energy and presence. I was just so happy. It was the birth I had been praying for. Thank you, LORD!

N. and I just stared at her, so in love with her swollen little face and smushed nose and ears.  Then, we ordered pizza, called family and I took selfies, obviously.

Caught in the act. Selfie-guilty.

When I was all stitched up and ready to head to our room, they had me try to get up and use the bathroom so my uterus would start contracting back again. When I tried to get up, my ears started ringing and the whole room went white. I told them I was going to pass out, and they had me lie down. This happened every time I tried to get up for a few hours. It was such a bummer, because I couldn't hold Owen. I just had to look at her in her little plastic bassinet. The nurse told me that three things were probably causing blood loss: 1) this "precipitous" birth 2) second babies make for "lazy" uteruses...(I'm like what? Did you see what that uterus just did? Jump. Off.) and 3) being a redhead! I never thought I was a red-head, but I'm fair-skinned and pink-toned, so they must have assumed. Also my eyebrows are red. So, there's that. Anyway, I had blood loss issues, which I guess is more common in Irish/English folks, but I was much better by the next morning and completely fine by the time I went home.

I can't describe how good this birth was for my soul. I feel like all of the trauma and fear from the first one has been wiped away. I know I had a lot of people praying for me, so thank you. You know who you are.

Many folks have asked us about her name. There was a female Owen in my cousin's bridal party, and N. and I loved it for a girl! It's such a beautiful name, and we felt like if anyone could pull it off, it would be the daughter of a female Brett. Right? Elizabeth was my maiden middle name, but also the middle name of my sweet Aunt Susan, who passed away suddenly last March. We wanted to honor her and all of the Battens by using that family name.

Owen is two weeks old today, and every inch of her is made of sugar. She's got her daddy's long fingers and toes, his ears, his button mouth. Needless to say, I think she's super cute!

check out those talon feet
Simon calls his sister "Odie" which has stuck for the time being. Here he is offering her an apple. My heart!

Twins. Cute ones.

 Thanks, y'all for all of the love and support over the crazy ups and downs of the last few months. We love you!


Owen Elizabeth 5.22.14

Monday, May 5, 2014

farewell, breakfast nook

I always wrote my blog posts in my breakfast nook. It's a little banquette that juts off the back of our house and looks out over Carter Mountain, an apple orchard here in Cville. I've watched the seasons come and go more than sixteen times from this nook, and I'm feeling just a tiny bit sad, as today will be my last post from this place.

We are moving into an old house just a few minutes away. It has a back yard with peonies and lilies. It's smaller, and it's going to be maintain, but it's been a dream of mine since I was a little girl to live in an old house with a yard and a fence and creaky hardwood floors. I remember staying with my aunt and uncle in North Carolina one weekend when I was just a little girl. They had an old house with a big clawfoot tub and glass doorknobs, and I vowed that weekend that I would live in a house like that one day.

I hope that I can find a place to write in the "new" house that inspires me like this here little nook. Writing here has become sort of an exercise in muscle memory. I always sit cross-legged, and I always have some sort of drink--coffee, water, tea, Arbonne fizz to keep my brain awake. When I sit here, the words just kinda flop out. They're not usually polished, but they've always come from somewhere real. I pray for a place in my new/old home where that kind of inspiration can be learned again.

We move sometime this week. Like most other aspects of our life right now, it's up in the air. N. and I will sometimes text or gchat each other during the day and just say, "so many balls!" (up in the air...).

I'm 36.5 weeks, fully effaced, zero station and 2cm dilated, as of my appointment on Thursday. I have been telling my belly for the past month or so to "stay in there!" like I have any say at all, and last week after my appointment, I started feeling convicted about it.

N. and I spent some time talking to baby girl after that, telling her that, you know what? You can come anytime you please, and we will make it work just fine, honey.

"We are moving to a new house this week, "I told her this morning,"but really that's just a matter of moving STUFF. If you'd like to come on the very day that we hire movers and painters, well, then everyone will survive that. You are welcome here."

I know she doesn't understand the words yet, but I personally think that babies understand sentiment, emotions and energy from the very, very beginnings of their sweet little lives. I just want her to know that she's so much more important to me than any house or moving box or closing date.

I hope that you all are enjoying Spring. We waited so long for it this year, didn't we? I don't think I've ever been more happy to swallow a bucket of pollen every day than I have this year. Bring it.

Farewell, breakfast nook. I hope that your new owners find some inspiration here, too. You have been good to me.