My favorite festival is Rodale's Organic Apple Festival. We went (with a sick baby) and loved it, as expected.
It happened on the first official day of fall and...although I no longer think I have a favorite season (it used to be fall) because living with Nolan is like living out every thing with fresh eyes and so much more is beautiful now...fall is already really, really good over here.
The season just kind of spilled out of that first day.
We did all get sick, one after another, but we went on an impromptu apple-picking trip. It was an off time, so we had the play area all to ourselves, almost the whole place to ourselves (with the exception of employees). We fed goats and chickens and tried apple cider donuts for the very first time.
My husband made apple sauce while Nolan and I slept and it. is. DELICIOUS.
I made this apple pie smoothie (making a few substitutions based on what I had available) which I had to wrestle from Nolan. (Really. Every time I tried to take a sip, he tried to pull it away from me. )
Tim introduced me to the simple but incredible dessert that is thin slices of fresh apple cooked in butter. (I will be eating those every day until I am tired of them.) (Maybe I'll try cooking in coconut oil, too?)
The "baby" (he's not so much baby any more) and I have been getting longer stretches of sleep- usually 4 to 5 hours in a row each night, which translates into a lot more joy for both of us. I have been laughing so much and so hard lately and crying some happy tears. I like that.
Yesterday was my birthday. It was perfect, thanks in part to so many people that I felt I just had to find a way to pay homage to all of them. I hope I didn't miss anyone, but yesterday was just so full of good that I have a feeling I likely did. Still, if you played a part in making the day so refreshing and beautiful and special, thank you. My heart is full, and I am so grateful to have the friends and family I do.
Nolan has changed yet another part of me (in a good way) because most years I have "needed" the day to be perfect (whatever that means) and FULL of celebration. Those are good things, but usually I will put too much pressure on it which kind of takes away from the fun.
This year, I just wanted to go to Rodale's Tulip Festival with my family; I wanted to bask in mass quantities of my favorite flower and show them to Nolan. I wanted to go on a date with my husband. Since those events were already on the books, I took on a much more relaxed approach to the day. I was free to enjoy it.
And enjoy it I did.
Some of my favorite parts:
-Snuggle time with Tim and Nolan in the morning. Oh MY, you should see this baby in the morning. He is chatty and happy and so excited that hey! all 3 of us are together! I love it when we can all lounge in bed together.
-An hour long conversation with my sister. It made it seem like she's not so far away. Also? She's getting MARRIED to a man who is perfect for her, and I'm so excited for them and her and OK, me,too because I just got a new brother-in-law whom I adore.
-Two hilarious phone messages, one each from Katie and Steven. Really. I laughed out loud.
-Tim took care of Nolan while I did Yoga for the Warrior. I'm getting closer to being able to do Bird of Paradise! (See below if you're wondering what I'm talking about.)
-Birthday mail! My favorite piece today was a card from my friend Kristen T. I'm pretty sure Kristen is my long-lost sister. Words from her just kind of seep into my heart and fill in the cracks.
-The Tulip festival! Rodale is a bit of a drive for us, so it meant time for Tim and I to talk. When we got there (after a bit of a panic because oh, no! We were going to be late! I HATE being late and making people wait), I fully sunk into Tim's everything is going to turn out fine and soaked up an hour and a half of wandering through fields, rows of beautiful flowers, and what I think is going to be Rodale's kids' summer camp with Tim, Nolan, Mary Ellen, Bill, Steph, Eric, and my mom.
Can I just tell you how much I love my family? I had a blast just taking in the scenery and exploring the grounds with these people who I feel so lucky to have in my life. And I got to watch them love my son. There's not a lot that can fill my heart like watching people love my baby well. (Also? You should have seen Bill with that little boy. They looked like they were just meant to be together, chilling, and taking in the sights. Ho.ly.Cow.)
-Tim and I went on a date! Just the two of us! I'm not quite sure when the last time that happened. I mean, my parents offer to watch Nolan often, but we usually have to use that time to work on homework or complete a project. But today? No projects, no homework. We wandered into a health food store when we arrived a bit too early for dinner (I got a few new things to play with- dried cherries with no sugar added, coconut oil, and fair trade cocoa nibs.) and then ate quite possibly our best dinner out to date.
Tim's cousin, Stacey, has been recommending The Farmhouse for quite some time, and I'm so glad she has. Words are my love language, but right after that? Food. Really good, well-thought-out food. The Farmhouse does that kind of food well. They source local and organic ingredients whenever possible (part of why it tastes so good- it's fresh!), aren't afraid to use fat (hello butter, pancetta, cream, and duck fat) and are creative with their menu offerings. Love, love, love. I'll certainly be talking about this meal for quite some time.
Oh, and our server? Amazing. I'll be contacting The Farmhouse to find out her name (we were at Table 3 at 5 o'clock) because she was just that good. Guessed immediately that I love mojitos, works there because she loves the food just that much, had great ideas and tips on what to order, and was so sweet and fun. To our server- I'm so sorry I don't remember your name! But I'll be finding it out and remembering it. You helped make our dinner so wonderful.
-With my love tank full, thanks to all the great conversation, experiences, sweet birthday messages (in email, text, and written, and facebook form) and amazing food, I returned (with Tim) to pick up my son, refreshed. Snuggles happened immediately, of course.
-As a perfect topper to the day, my dad presented me with two cookbooks he personally picked out for me. My dad essentially works two jobs, is training for a marathon,and is in the middle of a construction project at home (plus he tries to spend as much time with his grandson as he can!). He doesn't have a lot of extra time to be picking out presents, but he DID. And he picked out ones that perfectly suit my interests. That made me feel like a million bucks.
-And then my mother handed me giant organic chocolate cupcakes.
So much to say and yet words seem to evade me when I sit down to let them out.
Which means I'm breaking out one of my best writing tools. I will give myself a time limit; I will write, write, write; and then I will hit publish.
I think I started blogging because it is faster than pen and paper. Because I enjoy the input on what is going on in my (crazy) brain.
Because I need the outlet.
Lately I am finding so many outlets. Fair trade-centric projects, Bob Harper workouts (these are challenging and often just what I need), talking, talking, talking with my mom. Yoga. Tight hugs from my husband. Dates (when I can get them) with those treasured people with whom I can just let loose and RELAX.
I miss writing more, though, for sure.
Most days, I try to have something social going on, but I also try not to overload my schedule. I like a balance for the benefit of both me and Nolan. So I meet up with friends nearly every day, yet somehow I've still been getting that "alone in a crowded room" feeling lately.
"Alone" is probably not quite right.
But my life is so...rich. I love it. I feel like I am in my element, so it annoys me when I can't shake the bittersweetness riding on my shoulders.
This is what I love about writing: the process of writing helps me to sort it out and then feel okay again. Because I realize that everything's pretty great around here; I just kind of miss my best friend. It's kind of that hey, I see you across the room and we're still working together but apart kind of feeling.
I love him.
Remembering that we ARE working together and remembering how vital he is to my life, remembering that I need to take those little actions to act as a team, to remind him that I love him- it lifts some of that bittersweetness for me.
Just one more reason why I love writing.
Much of (my, and maybe yours, too) life comes in waves.
The strong desire to eat my feelings, the urge to run, the amount of time I spend cooking meals. how much time I spend writing...
It all comes in waves.
I can tell you that it's all always there, somewhere.
One day I will have the urge to just go outside and run, and I will do it if at all possible.
Some weeks I making cooking more of a priority than I do other weeks.
Some weeks I have so much to write, some I don't, and some I just can't get to the computer to bleed out all the craziness that is happening inside my head.
And that old familiar urge to handle unwanted feelings with food, food, FOOD..? It's still there, sometimes up front and center, and sometimes completely buried. Always there.
I purposely cut WAY down on sugar this past week. I haven't cut it completely out- if I really want a sweet, I will have it, a little bit, and I will enjoy it. If there is a little sugar in my food (and there is sugar in a lot of unexpected foods!), I will still eat some, but I will be mindful of it. I just can't cut almost anything completely out and feel healthy mentally.
I'm not cutting down on sugar for Lent.
I'm doing it because I'd gotten myself caught up in the I've eaten sugar so I crave sugar roller coaster until I just wanted more and more and felt like I just couldn't be satiated.
Cutting down on sugar makes choosing not to binge much easier...but the default setting of handling difficulties with way too much food is still there.
This morning, I really wanted to gather all the peanut butter and chocolate I could find and go to town. I credit not being hopped up on sugar with being able to think clearly enough to tell my husband.
I avoided saying anything self-deprecating about how I was feeling. I allowed myself to feel, to be honest.
And just like that, that intense desire to ease the tensions I was feeling with food until I was numb? Dissolved.
At the end of it all, I felt so glad that I was able to be so honest with Tim, that I'm able to come here and be just as honest, that I made a choice that enables me to live life a little more fully today.
Happy Friday to me.
That default setting? I'm convinced it will never leave, but I have some thanks to give to a few people who have helped me process life through it and live life a little more fully. I'm looking at you, Tim, Mish, Eating as a Path to Yoga, Kristin T., Tina and Katie. (Eep! I hope I didn't miss any body!)
I'm not planning on writing a mushy post to go along with my anniversary (but my posts often end up quite different than how I planned them to be, so no promises), but I will say that it's true what you hear about communication being really, really, REALLY important to a quality relationship.
I will also say that a major reason why I think I can say this from experience is Tim.
Communication is not my strong suit.
I mean, yes, I do like to write (ahem, I love to write), but that in-person, super-honest stuff? It's hard. It's awkward sometimes and it requires boldness. (It's scary.)
But over the years, I have learned- through conversation, experience, and observation- how to be more honest. The kind of honest that deepens relationships and sometimes sounds awkward coming out of my mouth; the kind that requires courage (there's that word again!) once in a while.
Let me tell you.
Communication sounds simple,
but it is so not.
Think about it.
We have all these words (and oh, how I love words!), but you know there are times when, even amongst all of them, you can't find the right ones to express what you'd like to say.
You know there are times when you're saying one thing and someone else is hearing another
due to differing perceptions and experiences
with the same words.
It's hard work.
Work which has (mostly) turned in to joy and reward
thanks to the persistence of one man.
I mean it. Many, many thanks to Timothy Koller.
He has made and continues to help me become a better person and is my perfect partner in this adventure called life.
Ok, there's the mush.
(Like I said, no promises.)
Hello to a new week and a new year. (So many possibilities in such a simple sentence!)
Hello, saying goodbye to my "little" brother (I'm getting teary just writing that out) and bringing Nolan along to soften the blow...for everyone. That boy's a magic charm.
Hello, getting back to exercise, reading, and blogging.
Hello, dancing around the house with my little boy and
celebrating my fifth wedding anniversary with my man (and massages and a special meal to go with it!).
It's going to be a beautiful week.
What's going on in your world this week?
Nolan turned 4 weeks old yesterday.
I'm not sure when I will stop counting the weeks. Right now, he seems to be changing so quickly from week-to-week that it makes so much sense to count them.
I mean, look at him.
So much has changed in just 28-now 29-days.
In him- he's filling out, able to focus his eyes, makes more sounds (like happy "coos"). He's lost some of his hair (this happened to both Tim and me when we were babies. My hair came back strawberry blond and Tim's came back white blond...so Nolan's future hair color is almost any one's guess), and he's grown so much. He's getting stronger, and I just recently discovered that he enjoys a good photo shoot (thanks, Anna!).
In us- there's always something to learn, so I guess you could say Tim and I have become students of life with our baby boy. We freak out about whether Nolan's okay a little less (Google is our close-knit friend these days). We still don't have a set schedule, but we're better able to guess what Nolan's sleeping and eating patterns might be for the day. Tim goes to work late and stays late to accommodate the craziness of nighttime sleeping and waking up (yay for flexible work schedules!) and some days, I can hardly keep my eyes open by 9 pm. That means we don't always get a lot of time together, but I life still feels sweet.
I often say that Tim and I make a great team...because I believe it and because I'm thankful for it...so even when we're apart, I often feel that I am contributing to something that is beautiful about us- him and I together and as a family of three.
All of this- these desires to really soak Christmas up this year, actively love my husband and my son, and nurture each of us in our separate and together roles- all of this probably only added to my excitement about this next Christmas idea. The linked idea centers around husbands (so don't look, Tim, if you want it to be a surprise!), but the idea could really apply to anyone you want to give a little extra-special attention to during this holiday season.
I'm giving myself (maybe) 10 minutes to write this.
These days, it might take me days to write a post. I get a few thoughts down, and then...
it is time to feed my baby.
Change his diaper, his clothes, his anxiety into peace. Into comfort.
I aim to soak up every moment.
I love the written word, but I love my son (so much) more.
Things aren't quite the way I imagined them to be.
Some things are- there are times when I miss nearly unlimited time alone with my husband..time to explore, to watch tv uninterrupted, to sleep through the night. I think I knew I would miss him sometimes...
Although life as a mother has certainly been (and still is) quite a transition, one that includes fewer consecutive hours of sleep than I would like, it is a rich life.
There will come a day- much sooner than I would like- when I will have to begin the slow and painful process of letting him "go." I try to quickly shove such thoughts out of my head- especially at night, because the mix of tiredness and postpartum hormones leave me feeling sad. But I'll use those thoughts to compel me to soak up every moment that is now, that is right in front of me, that is precious and available to me.
These moments are so precious.
Just like my little boy.
This post is part of the Just Write link-up, a weekly exercise in free writing ordinary and extra-ordinary moments.
This is part 2 of a 2-part post on my son Nolan's recent birth. For part 1, click here.
Sunrise came without much of a nod from me. I was a bit too distracted to notice it.
Sunlight streamed into my room, and I kept doing my thing. Tim did his thing. Tammy did her thing. We moved on, from moment to moment, working together to bring Nolan from inside of me to the outside.
There were some disappointments. When I heard "4 centimeters," "6 centimeters," "8 centimeters," I felt a little let down each time. I'd been working so hard that I thought we must be closer to the pushing stage. But there's nothing to do after disappointing news like that but continue on. Maybe try a new technique. Yell a little if you have to (and I did. I was surprised to find out that I didn't snap at anyone...at least I don't remember doing so. But I did yell things like, "I want this baby out now!").
Continue on, we did, until fourteen hours after my water broke, I was ready to push.
I've heard stories of moms pushing just a few times, or for 20 minutes, or something like that before their babies said their first hello to the world. I'd also heard that every labor is different.
My labor was different.
When it came time to push, Tim, Tammy, and I were joined by another fabulous part of the Welcome Nolan Team, my nurse, Beverly. I learned about the art of pushing a baby out. I think my favorite position was the one that had me grabbing the baseboard of the bed and then bending into a deep squat. There was more yelling. At one point I wailed, "I am going to lose it!" Tim told me I wouldn't, that I was doing great. That man. I don't know if he kept his cool the whole time, but in front of me, he did. That, along with his encouraging words, helped me so much.
Labor and delivery are active..and I was running on some kids' lemonade, water, a little coconut water, a piece of fruit leather, and adrenaline. Mostly adrenaline. Beverly gave me an apple juice box to help buoy my energy, and it tasted incredible.
Two hours later, and Nolan had not made much of an appearance.
That's when I found out that 2 hours is the maximum amount of time I'm allowed to push at the birthing center. A transfer to the hospital was necessary.
Tim packed up our bags and told our parents (who were still in the waiting room!). Tammy made arrangements.
Tim helped me (slowly, painfully) make my way to the car.
I labored in that car. In a nightgown and Toms. Immediately upon arrival, valet parking and a wheel chair was waiting for me. Because Tammy also works at the hospital, we were able to rush right to the delivery room...where more fabulous nurses were waiting to join the Welcome Nolan team.
I was given a "whiff of Pitocin" to help strengthen my contractions. ( The thought of getting even a little Pitocin had me feeling nervous at first. Stronger contractions?! )
Upon arrival, we got to work.
When I say "we," I mean we. Tammy, Tim, and my new team of nurses did a great job of coaching me. I needed it. I needed the encouragement, the directions, the help with what to do next. I listened to them- or I tried to. The "don't yell, just direct all your energy into pushing" direction was difficult for me to follow, but I did try.
Still no Nolan.
More and more of his head would appear... and then it would recede.
A doctor was called to use a vacuum and forceps if needed.
We were coming up on another two hours of pushing at the hospital.
Then Tammy asked me if I wanted her to make a small cut to make more room for the baby to come out or have the doctor use a vacuum and forceps. I was so tired and hadn't really thought of either of those options as possibilities, so after a very short discussion, I decided a cut was the best option.
I think it was the right one.
A few more pushes later (maybe more? I remember it as a few because I just could not believe it when I was told he was really coming this time), Nolan showed up, his fist up by his shoulder. I found out later that as he emerged, his arm shot forward into a fist pump. How fitting- "Nolan" means "champion." (Some sources also list "famous" and "noble" as meanings of his name.)
He was immediately placed on my chest, with no threat of having him taken away until I was ready.
Even with such skin-to-skin contact, I could hardly believe he'd arrived. Together we stayed while everyone else did what they needed to do, while my placenta was pushed out, while I was stitched up...until I could begin to believe this-he-was real.
Then he was cleaned up, measured, and weighed.
Eight pounds, ten ounces, 20 inches long.
Some days I can still hardly believe it.
Some things that made labor more manageable
My team. Truly, I am amazed by how helpful, supportive, and encouraging everyone involved was. I don't think Tim, Tammy, and all the nurses involved could have impressed me more. My family waited so patiently for news, directions, anything and celebrated with me afterwards. There was no pressure from anyone, just a lot of excitement and support.
Hot baths! Sitting in a hot bath (or 3) led to much more manageable contractions.
Previous prenatal yoga classes. Much of what I learned in class was stored in my body and mind and used during labor...although I did have to be reminded to control my breath on more than a few occasions.
Some things that made labor particularly difficult
Nolan had his fist up by his shoulder, which added to the width I was trying to push out. That explains why he kept coming forward and then receding.
My uterus was not contracting strongly enough on its own by the end of the labor process. (I only know this because my midwife told me.)
Nolan measured in the 78th percentile in height and61st in weight, but the measurement of his head? 97th percentile. My child has a big (but adorable) head.
Some things that redeemed the difficulty, pain, and fatigue of labor
Everything about Nolan and Tim and all three of us as a family made the challenges of labor worth doing. I think that's really got me through- it was pain with a purpose. Even with that in mind, though, I had no idea how much good awaited me at the other end until I got there.
Thank you to those of you who celebrated with me in the comments, on Facebook, through cards, flowers, and gifts, and in person. Sharing the joy that is my little Nolan makes this new mama's heart swell.
I've been having a hard time deciding where to start and what, exactly, I should include. There is so much to tell- a lot can happen in 18 hours! Perhaps I'll start at the beginning? I will warn you, though, birth is messy. Certainly more than a baby came out of my body. If that thought alone makes your stomach turn, this post may not be for you. If your curiosity wins out, read on.
Nolan's Big Debut, Part One
One of my favorite ways to find out about what is going on in the world is by watching The Daily Show. I know. There are better ways to go about things, but considering that just a short time ago, I was getting almost no consistent input of worldly news, this is a step up. And far more entertaining (and memorable) than rifling through a newspaper or watching...well, any other news show.
Sigh. This could be long story if I explain my every action. I'll try to restrain myself, but I won't make promises.
As you might have guessed, Tim and I were watching The Daily Show. It was around 7:15 on Monday night, November 7th when we heard a pop. My water broke. I didn't realize that's what it was right away because I wasn't expecting it- I was told that only 10-15% percent of women start labor with their water breaking. I'd previously found this particular statistic to be a relief because if my water broke, I had to go to the hospital to be induced instead of the birthing center as I'd planned to deliver my baby. I had Group B Strep and we needed to get this baby out so he didn't develop an infection.
When I did realize it, though? There was a phone call, a mad rush on Tim's part to pack everything we might need into the car, a what should we do now? when we still hadn't received a call back, and then? a drive to the hospital (just a few minutes away from our house), because that's where we were going to be told to go anyway and standing around waiting was just not going to happen.
When we arrived and still hadn't received a phone call back, Tim placed a second call and went inside to find out how to get the maternity ward, I called my mom, and was interrupted by a call from my midwife. I was told didn't have to go to the hospital because my contractions had started on their own and I should call her in 2 hours to report my progress.
Tim and I laughed at ourselves, called our parents, and headed home to watch a movie.
Ha. No movie was watched that night.
I stood in the kitchen almost immediately upon arrival home and called my sister...and the rest of my "water" gushed out of me (apparently it doesn't always happen all at once?). I quickly ended the conversation and went upstairs to clean myself up. I never got to call my brother, because after the second-half-gushing-thing, contractions got fairly close together- around 3 minutes, I think? For those who don't know, first time moms are instructed to call their midwives when contractions are 4-5 minutes apart for an hour. Since mine were consistent at 3, Tim and I headed into the birth center an hour and a half after we'd last talked to our midwife (whose name is Tammy, by the way, and she is amazing!). Time to get this show on the road!
Soon my parents and mother-in-law arrived and we were able to talk and laugh between contractions. I (think I) breathed slowly in and out through each one; labor seemed intense to me but fairly manageable. It helped that my husband was such an incredible birth partner. (Seriously. I'm almost tempted to rent him out. He's that good.)
I cannot give a timeline of what happened that night. I'm not sure that I could have even if I had written Nolan's birth story the day of his birth day. I was living in a world of one contraction at a time. I was moving from birthing position to birthing position. I laid over an exercise ball and swayed back and forth and side to side. I leaned on the bed, put my arms around my husband and swayed, soaked in the tub, laid on my side, squatted at the side of the bed, squatted while Tim supported the weight of my entire body, knelt on all fours.
Anything that felt right at the time.
One contraction at a time.
I know that my parents and mother-in-law left the room early on in the evening (maybe 10 or 11?) when I was to be "checked" and spent the rest of the night in the waiting room, waiting on news and getting just a few hours of sleep.
I know that I'd packed lots of snacks for everyone present, but hardly any were eaten by anyone. There was too much adrenaline. Too much anticipation. At the urging of both Tim and Tammy, I tried to stay hydrated. Without their encouragement, I think I would have ignored fluids all together. I had business to attend to and hydration was the last thing on my mind. (Thank God for Tim and Tammy, hydration being just one of the many reasons.). (Honest Kids Berry Berry Good Lemonade and water were my beverages of choice. The coconut water that I thought would help me stay hydrated made me want to hurl.)
I know that eventually, conversation between contractions was not happening.
I know now that some of what I was experiencing is called "back labor." Babycenter, my go-to pregnancy guide, defines back labor as "intense lower back pain that many women feel during contractions when they're giving birth." Yup, that sounds about right.
I know that at some point, Tammy told me that she thought we might be having this baby by sunrise.
One contraction at a time.
and sunrise went.
I'll post the rest as soon as I can! For now, I have some snuggling to do...