MOTHERHOOD vs PERSONHOOD


Oh, how being a mom of two, or the holidays, or just being a human being, can busy your life and keep you so occupied that you don't take time to do something that you really enjoy... like blogging (or well, writing in general). I have been completely enjoying being a mother of two. Where I once thought my days couldn't get any fuller, they have. Where I didn't think I could love any more, I have learned to love more deeply. These days have been full of challenges, but the kind that I find fulfilling. The kind that leave me tired and smiling at the end of the day. I start my days early and end them late. I am hugged, and cuddled, and bathed in the smiles of two healthy and happy children, every day. I consider myself very blessed.

However, during these full days I often feel the weight of time passing, weighing me down as I realize that these two babes of mine, are humans, who are growing older, just like I am. In those moments when I feel this weight, I hold these babies of mine even closer and try my hardest to savor each moment. I smell their heads, which often smell of strawberry shampoo, milk, or baby sweat, and I kiss their plump, and often sticky, cheeks. I hold them both on my lap and let the weight of their bodies cover mine. I relish in how they keep me grounded, both literally and figuratively, and often find myself wishing I could always sleep with a baby on my chest. I know this time with them is limited. I am well aware that each day I help them grow older, and they need me less and less.

When this weight feels like it will crush my spirit, I remind myself that all of this is normal, it is the same struggle that mothers and fathers have felt for thousands of years before me, and that my children might also feel one day when they have their own children. I need to remind myself that my life as a human being, is more than being their mother, despite how consuming I feel that role might be, or how much fulfillment I find in it. I need to remind myself to shower, to read a book, to at times say "you must wait a minute", and to remember that I was a person, before being a mother. How easy it can be to lose yourself, to sacrifice yourself, during these days. And really, I would be lying if I said I didn't feel they were a worthy cause to do so for.

But, for them, and myself, I need to shower. I need to take an hour to read at night, to write, and blog, and sew, and do stuff that makes me feel good in my soul. For myself, my husband, and for them, I need to remind myself that they do not want a mother or wife who gives everything only to leave herself tired and spent. They do not want a martyr, despite how happy it might make me to be one. They want me to take care of myself, just as well as I take care of them.

So, back to blogging, and taking the time to write and record my days. A discipline of reminiscing and putting into writing my struggles and achievements; the good, and not-so-good, the ordinary, and the spectacular. I write here for me, and for you, and whoever else may find something to take from this. 

Here begins something new around this little blog. A different perspective, a renewed purpose, a little re-start. Thank you for coming along for the ride, and I hope that by sharing my days you find entertainment, solidarity, or just something to read while waiting for your coffee to brew in the morning (that's when I squeeze in my blog reading).


Last, but not least, I hope you had a beautiful holiday season, and are refreshed by the newness of the coming year.




A FEW PARADE TIPS...



Happy Thanksgiving! I haven't really gotten my blogging groove back yet since having Gregor, but I have not forgotten about this little spot I have here. I often think of writing about some crazy ideas that I have been mulling over in my mind, or throwing together a photo post full of my messy studio and my ragamuffin kids, but by the end of the day there is little time, and with the holidays approaching, or well, with them being here, I am finding myself spending the late hours of the night and wee hours of the morning in my studio sewing away. 

Chloe's first Thanksgiving Day Parade

But Thanksgiving, yes, Thanksgiving Day. It's tomorrow! We are going to be heading to the parade in the morning, and by "we" I mean myself and my sister and our kids. This will be my third year attending the parade, and I have learned a few things about toting kids to a parade in the cold. So, I thought I would kill a few birds with one stone: I would break my blogging silence, procrastinate prepping my thanksgiving foods, and share my tips on toting your littles in the cold to parades, or whatever holiday events you may have lined up for you. These are things I have learned from experience, and like all these types of posts, it all depends on you and your kids, and your event, and what will work for you... this is what has worked for us:

1- Set out your clothes the night before. We are going to be leaving the house a lot earlier than usual, and catching the train, so being able to get everyone ready quickly is key. Having everything set aside and ready helps to avoid scrambling to find her gloves, or his hat. Also, having the diaper bag ready to go will cut down on last minute chaos as you run out the door, and give you a little peace of mind.

2. Everyone potty before you leave. Chlo hates public rest rooms... I don't like them either, but she freaks out in them, even if she is not using them and just going along for the trip. So, I always make sure I try to limit her fluids before we leave, and see that she uses the toilet right before we walk out the door. While we are out, I try to save snacks and drinks for later in our travels if I can. Anything to avoid needing to use a public rest-room. 

3. When it comes to food, try to bring something quick and easy. Think granola bar, apples, pretzel sticks in a little container... something that is easy, portable, and not very messy.  One year I made and brought white chocolate cranberry scones. They were bomb - sooo delicious! But they got crumbs everywhere! Another year I brought my own coffee, which wound up spilling all over the floor of the train. I learned that there just are not enough hands to manage a toddler, a stroller, diaper bag, and my coffee on a train. But, there is always someone selling coffee somewhere. Yeah, it might cost a bit more, and it might not be as good as your own, but I found it more enjoyable to buy a cup on the go, once we are off the train, instead of needing to worry about spilling it all over. If you are really set on using a certain travel mug, you could always bring it along empty and stop when you are off the train to have it filled.

4. Take public transportation, if you can. Chloe loooooves going on the train, and looks forward to this trip for weeks, just because of the train. Taking the train gets us right where we need to be without worrying about finding a parking spot, feeding a meter, and needing to walk however many blocks. Plus, in my humble opinion, taking the train adds to the whole parade going experience. It is really quite fun to sit with your kids on the train and not need to worry about driving.

5. Bring a stroller, even if you kid hasn't used a stroller for like a year. My niece who is six, and has not used a stroller for many years, still appreciates being able to take a sit in the stroller with a warm blanket wrapped around her, while we are at the parade. If the kid will fit in a stroller, take it along. I plan on bringing my Maclaren because it is light enough to carry up and down stairs in the train station. Gregor will be in the baby carrier during the parade in order to keep him warm, and keep me from needing to drag along the double stroller. 

My niece Mackenzie, and Chloe, in their strollers, keeping warm.

6. Dress warm! Dress in layers, bring a blanket, or two, for your little one in the stroller. Buy some hand-warmers to keep in your pockets, and in theirs. It might not seem too cold out, but once you are on the street for a couple hours you will appreciate any warmth that you can get. 

7. Bring a buddy. My sister has gone with me the past two years. We keep each other company, have a great time making some memories, and help with each other's kids. This allows for us to take turns using the bathroom , or grab a cup of coffee without needing to drag a kid with us. I have a feeling we will look back on these trips together, despite them being a bit crazy and cold some years, as warm memories - and in the end, that is what these holiday traditions are all about.



Are you heading to the parade this year? Will you be watching on the television from the comfort of your living room? Will you be traveling? I hope wherever you are, that you have a very happy thanksgiving holiday!


 



HOW I DIDN'T LOSE MY HEAD.


one of my online dating profile photos. circa 2007.

I once signed up for a rather popular online dating service. I was twenty-five years old and had recently split from my husband, ending a five year marriage that had felt doomed from the beginning. I had married young at the age of nineteen, and early on recognized that I may not have made the best decision. Still, I trudged through and kept on with it for a while, trying every healthy marriage trick in the book, then counseling, and finally making my exit. Through it all I never really thought about how unhappy I was. In hindsight I can now see how I mourned my disintegrating marriage long before I pulled the plug on it.

So when the dust kind of settled, and I was left spending my days either alone at my apartment, at work in the hospital, or at nursing school, and  after I had decided that I didn’t want to date either of the two available men in my nursing classes, or anyone at the hospital even if they were a doctor, or would be one day, I came to the conclusion that I needed to figure out a way to meet men.  An easy enough conclusion to come to as a newly single twenty-five year old, but for someone who never really dated, and had been married for just about her entire adult life, it seemed crazy to just go out and meet men.  After hearing me complain and rant about how impossible it would be to ever meet anyone, my good friend recommended that I try an online dating service. I was skeptical at first, but she convinced me, assuring me that many people meet online. And it made sense: as long as I was careful, I might be able to meet someone that I really liked, or maybe just go on a few nice dates with random okay-ish men, and if things didn't go well, they were far enough removed from my social circle that I wouldn't need to encounter them again. Also, I needed some dating experience, and the service was free.

So one night I uploaded a few photos and made a profile. If you like to blog, then making a dating profile is possibly one of the most enjoyable things to write. I took the opportunity to explain all the silly little things I like, and list bands and movies I love, and write about how I want to have fun, but not too much fun. I wanted to sound likable, but quirky… so in case I wasn’t actually likable, I had an excuse. I channeled my inner Holly Golightly, Amelie, and Kathleen Kelly, and edited and re-wrote for hours before submitting the profile and turning off the computer for the night. I woke up the next morning to see that I had like twenty “winks” and a few e-mails. I was shocked.

I began going on dates. Sometimes I would talk to the guy on the phone before going on the date, other times I would just agree to meet (somewhere very public and safe) before talking on the phone. I would often drive to wherever I was going to meet, park somewhere a few blocks away, and then show up at the restaurant or bar we had decided on. This way I could walk away from the date, and disappear, and they wouldn't know my license plate number. Because, God forbid they know my license plate number. Still, this felt safer to me.

I met John at a popular place down on South Street. I knew that the restaurant would be crowded even on a week-day evening. I had been on a few dates before this, and was feeling okay about this one. His profile sounded a bit generic, and in his photos he looked pretty average - medium height and build with dark hair and eyes, often wearing a polo shirt and jeans with a belt. The shirt was tucked in - you could see the belt… ugh. Still, he sounded nice, even on the phone. He was from South Philadelphia, and you could hear it in his voice. He seemed polite and maybe even a little boring, but one of my goals was to meet nice people. Even if I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life, or even another date, with them.

When I walked into the restaurant he was sitting at the bar. He stood up to greet me, and despite the tucked in polo, and jeans buckled with a belt, I was surprised to find him more attractive than his photos. He had nice eyes, and a good smile. We sat at the bar and began to talk. He asked me many questions, told me about himself, his work (jeweler), his apartment (Art Museum Area-ish?), and really won me over when he started telling me how he got over being shy. He explained to me that he used to be cripplingly shy and very awkward, but decided one day that he was going to be like Carry Grant, instead of being shy.  Just like that! How hilarious! How awesome! This guy had just gone up a few notches. We continued to talk, and my interest in him continued to grow. I imagined where we might go on our next date…and entertained the thought of  watching old movies together and ordering pizza. He was not only better-looking than I had hoped, but more interesting, and funny. Downright hilarious, and he seemed to like me too.

Before I knew it we had spent just about two hours talking. I was having a great time talking to him, and everything was going so well. This was certainly one of the best first dates I had been on, and I wanted to let him know that I was as into him as a girl could be for a first date. So, I leaned towards him flirtatiously, smiled, and said, “You are really funny. You make me laugh.”

To which he replied, “Thanks. You are really pretty. You make me want to cut your head off”

WHAT THE HELL? I straightened up in my barstool, smiled, now sheepishly, and jokingly pushed his beer a few inches away from him. I wasn’t quite sure how to respond… but I figured I would give him a chance to redeem himself. I mean, maybe he was nervous… but then,

“Yeah, I could totally chop your head off and put it in the freezer, you are so pretty.”

I am not quite sure what happened after that point. The date kind of ended there for me. I think I might have agreed to meet him again soon, or told him I would call him once I got home… I thought it might be best to just seem as agreeable as possible, and that my life may depend on it. I declined his offer to walk me to my car, and gave him a small, forced, hug before I left. The hug felt so awkward to me, but I told myself I needed to, for my safety. It was better to keep a psychopath happy than to upset them, right?

On my drive home I tried to rationalize it all. I mean, he was trying to be funny, right? He might have been nervous and unsure of what to say. Maybe he has a weird sense of humor. Some of my favorite people have weird, and sometimes sick senses of humor. But the fact that he paired a compliment with a threat to cut off my head…. and that he said it twice. The fact that he felt comfortable enough to say this on a first date. I just couldn’t bring myself to terms with it. But then I felt so torn, because I had been having such a nice time, and he was really funny, and maybe I would give him one more chance. But then I thought, what if the situation was reversed? What if he had been me, and I him? If I had told him he was so handsome that I wanted to mame him and keep him in my basement? No, I don't think it would have gone over half as well as I allowed it to.

I told friends about the date, and they totally agreed with my decision. I told my mom and she thought I should give him another chance... which also validated my decision.

I ignored his phone calls, and left his e-mails unanswered. I blocked him on the dating website so he could no longer see my profile. He called me six months later and I answered not recognizing the number. He called twice, first calling and telling me he had the wrong number, and then calling back a few minutes later to ask me what had happened. I didn’t know what to say, or how to say it, but I simply told him that I had met someone, and wished him the best in meeting someone as well…

you know, like no hard feelings... just want to keep my head on my body. that's all.




LIFE WITH CHLO


alright, so it's time to play catch-up. however, instead of a lengthy post detailing all the boring day to day stuff we have been doing (read: nursing a newborn, doing laundry, and taking walks), I thought I would just share some stories over a few posts to let you in on some of the highlights.

This first one is just about the funny things that Chlo has said and done over the past couple weeks. It has been funny to see her grow up and start to figure out the world around her. She is curious, and her reasoning for the things she says and does can be very entertaining, and sometimes even enlightening.

The other night I was making dinner and she had taken my mesh strainer. She started walking around the dining room table holding it in front of her. I asked her what she was doing and she replied, "I'm going to catch some hard noodles! I am going to catch them and cook them!"

you had better watch out hard noodles!

If I leave the bathroom she will now ask me if I peed. If I tell her I did, she will clap her hands and cheer, or just say "Good job mommy. You did really great."

She has developed a fascination with teeth. With people losing them, and the tooth-fairy, and the whole bit. She loves it. When we brought home Gregor she very quickly assessed his tooth situation and let me know that his teeth already fallen out, and asked if the tooth-fairy would come for him.

She is also fascinated with the sun. At the end of the day it is not unusual for her to say her good-nights to the setting sun, or for her to insist that the sun wants to eat almonds, or for her to talk about how she, with her own hands, "turns the sun around and around"... I have no idea where she gets these things. 

 what it looks like to "turn the sun"


There was an afternoon a few weeks ago when her and I went blue-berry picking together. We brought the blueberries home, and we were sitting at the table eating them. I noticed that they were the same color blue as her eyes. I held one up to the side of her face and told her she had "blueberry eyes". She looked at me and quickly replied "and you have broccoli eyes!"

my dirty-faced, blueberry-eyed love.

sidenote: after I told Christian about the whole blueberry/broccoli eyes thing, he showed me this (skip and start it at about 1:10):




and back to Chlo...
These days her favorite toys to carry around are her collection of stuffed "angry birds". These are her most prized possessions. She plays with them the way other children may play with baby-dolls or action figures. She takes them to the doctors, puts them to bed, does their hair, and feeds them. What do the birds eat? They eat eggs, of course!

And she is still all about bugs. Today we went for a walk to the local produce shop nearby our house. She has been talking about crickets and grasshoppers all summer, but has yet to actually see one. I noticed a small dead grasshopper on the sidewalk and stooped down to show it to chloe. I figured it might be as close as she gets to seeing one this year. She loved it... but didn't grasp that it was dead despite me explaining it to her quite a few times. She is at a very magical age, and doesn't understand "dead" yet. So she talked to her new friend... about it's friends, and it's family... and she talked to the grasshopper for a good while. Dead grasshoppers are real good listeners. I finally told her the grasshopper needed to leave, picked it up, and put it back into the grass. She said goodbye and told me she could hear it talking.

Oh Chlo...

my chlo, on a typical day, dirty and eating an apple.








GREGOR'S BIRTH STORY

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The night before Gregor arrived I sat in my bed with a young adult fiction book ("Looking for Alaska" by John Green, if you must know), and my laptop open, with facebook pulled up. I smiled and "wrote" on my facebook:

"Sometimes I feel like I am going to be pregnant forever, and then I go to bed."

I couldn't help but to laugh at it, because I did feel like I was going to be pregnant, forever... or like I had already been pregnant forever. I didn't remember what my body felt or looked like, not pregnant. I had become really comfortable with my belly - maybe too comfortable. I frequently walked around my home in nothing more than underwear and tee-shirts.



In some ways, I loved being pregnant, and while this pregnancy had not been as easy as my first, I was still very happy. Even if I didn't always let on that I was, or seem overtly enthusiastic about it all. I had aches, and swelling, and I kept finding tiny stretch marks hiding where they thought I would never look (I shouldn't have!). But, I loved how this baby felt different than Chloe had felt inside me. I loved nesting. I loved seeing my belly grow and I loved how ridiculous it looked and felt to me. So while I was tired, and growing more uncomfortable each day, I was trying my hardest to be patient and trying to savor my last days of pregnancy. 

But, yeah, there was part of me that just wanted this baby to be out.

That night though, I felt pretty okay about being pregnant for a few more days. Maybe even a week or two more. I had passed the thirty-eight week mark, and while I thought I was ready, I knew that I had it in me to wait a bit longer, if I needed to. I had come this far, and I could make it. I was in a good mood.

I read that book until I reached the back cover, turned the light off, and went to bed. I slept the entire night without waking up even once to pee. When I did wake up, it was still early. I remembered that it was trash day and threw on some pants so that I could drag the trash-can and recycle bins to the curb. It was beautiful outside. August had been pretty hot and muggy, but on this morning it was the perfect combination of cool and sunny. I thought about taking Chloe to pick peaches. She had been asking to, and because of the weather, and how uncomfortable I had become, with contractions coming and going each day, I hadn't been able to take her. I stood on the front porch and decided when she got up I would take her to the orchard and pick peaches.

I thought about the name "Peach" as a middle name for a girl, if we had a girl. We had two girl names picked out, but coming up with a middle name for either one was a struggle. If I were to go into labor on the full moon (which had already passed by that time), and we had a girl, her name would have been "Audrey Moon". I really liked the name "Holland" though, and I let the name "Holland Peach" roll around my mind for a bit.

I went back up to bed and called Christian, who had worked overnight and would be coming home shortly. I let him know that I took out the trash, and mentioned the name "Holland Peach", and asked him if he could bring me home something for breakfast - a bagel or something. He said he would be home shortly and we hung up. I laid in bed for a bit longer, until I heard Chloe call me from her room, announcing that she was up. I sat up in bed and my body began to leak.

The water trickled out of me slowly. I froze for a second, still trying to figure out what was going on, and then I waddled as quickly as I could to the closet to get a towel, and then to the bathroom. I cleaned up quickly, as Chloe was still calling for me from her room, threw a hand-towel in my underwear and waddled in to get her. We both went to my room to call Christian and let him know my water had broke. Then I started to strip the bed and clean up. Chloe asked me if I peed the bed. I told her I hadn't, but that my water broke. She replied "Oh, you got to fix it!". I laughed, and more fluid trickled out.

It was about eight in the morning, and my water had broke around seven. But there were no real good contractions happening, and nothing good enough or frequent enough to get me counting them.  So I walked around the house cleaning up, then grabbed some pads I had bought from out of the car, and replaced the hand-towel. By the time Christian came home, I had called my midwife, Pat. I decided I wanted to hang out at home since my contractions weren't very regular or painful. Pat told me to let her know when I felt the need to head to the hospital, and that she would call them now and let them know to expect me at some point that day.

I continued to clean up around the house and watch a bit of television with Chlo. We took turns bounding on my birthing ball. Christian tried to nap in the basement, since he had worked all night and was most likely going to be up most of the day and evening. My contractions continued to be pretty far apart and be completely unimpressive to me. Pat called me around noon to ask how I was doing. I told her that nothing had changed, and we decided that I would continue to hang out at home. While I was very content to be laboring at home, if you could call it that, I knew that my clock had started at seven that morning. I knew that if my labor didn't pick up on it's own that I would need pitocin to make it happen... and I wasn't too keen on going that route.

I decided to take a shower and see if that would help get things going. I knew the whole rationale behind the shower is that it helps you to relax. Maybe watching Chloe was keeping my body from relaxing and progressing like it should. I woke up Christian and asked him to watch Chlo while I took a warm shower. Chloe is used to taking showers with me, and so she was kind of ticked that I was locking the door and kicking her out, but I knew I needed time alone. Christian handled her tantrum, and I stood under the hot water. Hot showers during pregnancy are just pretty great, even when you are not in labor. They are just really, really, great.

And it did the trick. Once I got out of the shower I felt my contractions start to pick up and become time-able. I got myself dressed. I was still able to move during my contractions, but they had undoubtedly picked up and were coming about every four to five minutes apart. I called Pat to let her know and she told me if I wanted to head over to the hospital that she would meet me there. So Christian and I got ourselves together, and my mother-in-law headed over to watch Chlo. While my mother-in-law and I talked before we left for the hospital I started to feel my contractions become stronger. They were demanding me to stop doing whatever I was doing at the minute, and when they did I took the time to sway my hips a bit and breathe. I said goodbye to Chloe and started to cry. I have never been away from her overnight, and knew that this was the end of something good... and the end is rough, even if it means that something else, a whole different something good, is going to begin.

Chris and I drove to the hospital together. Since we had Chloe we rarely went out without her... we joked about how it felt like a date. We got to the hospital around five and made our way up to labor and delivery. I had started to feel more and more fluid leaking out with each contraction, and when I changed into the gown in my delivery room I noticed some bloody show. One nurse hooked me up to a monitor, while another asked if she could start an IV, and a third asked me a bunch of intake questions.  As a nurse it felt awkward to be on the other end of everything... as if I could better relate to the tasks of the nurses surrounding me, than the role of the patient.

They got me all set up with wires and tubes; my contractions were about three to five minutes apart. Pat arrived very shortly after and checked me. I was three centimeters and 100% effaced. Pat reminded me that getting to five centimeters is the toughest part, and told me and the nurses that I could drink plenty of fluids, have my IV caped off, and walk around, being monitored only intermittently. I was thrilled about this. Chloe's labor had kept me confined to bed, unable to move from a side-lying position, and I had needed pitocin to keep things moving along. I knew that walking and moving would only help everything progress.

Christian and I walked the hallways. I drank water and chewed ice chips, and I knew he was exhausted. Just one week before he had been in a hospital with a close friend who he lost the following day to cancer. He was a very brilliant and sweet person, and Christian often refereed to him as being "lovable". We talked about baby names and Christian mentioned naming our baby after him... but while I thought the world of his friend, if our baby were a boy, he was Gregor, just like Christian had named him before we knew for certain I was even pregnant with Chloe. Our boy name had been chosen almost four year before our baby would arrive. We spent time talking about his friend, and I thought about how people leave and enter this world so quickly... they are here, and then they are not, and then they weren't here and suddenly they are. I asked him what his friend's middle name had been, but Christian said he never heard him use it, and in all the years of knowing him, never found out. We talked about how his friend's birthday would have been the following day, and how odd it was that our baby would possibly share the birthday.

We were able to walk around for forty-five minutes at a time, and then needed to go back to the room so I could be monitored for fifteen. Each time we came back it seemed that my contractions had grown more forceful, and would last longer than before. It must have been around seven-thirty or so that I felt my labor has started to get rough. We had been walking the hallways and watching Jeopardy on the television in the small lobby outside the elevators. Christian told me it was about time to go back and be monitored. I went back to the room and decided to try to use the bathroom. Once I was on the toilet I felt like I had to push, and every time a contraction came I felt my body pushing without me ever intending to. I had the hardest time getting up and out of the bathroom because the contractions came so quickly and frequently while I was there. Part of me wished I could just stay there... damn hospital birth.

Once I finally got out of the bathroom and into the bed to be monitored I let my new nurse know that I felt like I was pushing without trying to. She suggested that Pat check me again. My contractions were about two to three minutes apart, and I was four centimeters. I had more work to do. Once I was able to get out of bed again I decided I would walk around the room. The contractions were pretty strong and frequent, and I didn't want to be seen out in the hallways of the hospital like this. Chris was exhausted and sitting in a chair in the room watching television with me between contractions. Whenever I would have a contraction he would look at me, ask if I was okay, and do whatever he could do to help. I would often sway my hips during contractions and whisper "f-ck, f-ck, f-ck...." or just groan. Sometimes I would squat down, and when I did that I could feel the baby move lower and my body begin to push. My back began to hurt and I made Chris push on my lower back with his fist during my contractions. I stood and walked in that room until I felt like I couldn't stand much more. I could feel that my legs were starting to shake and thought they might give out of me... So then I went back into the bathroom.

In the bathroom, I felt like I could have the baby right there, and I think Christian and my nurse both feared this, because they knocked on the door what felt like every ten seconds, and attempted to coax me out. The small space of the bathroom felt oddly comforting to me. While I didn't really want to leave, I eventually came out and managed to get back into the bed to be monitored. Pat came in to check how I was doing, and talked with us for a while as a labored. She reminded me that she had written for some pain medicine for me if I wanted it. I told her I was going to ride it out. I had reached five centimeters. The contractions were ridiculous, and while I had every intention of getting back out of that bed when I had gotten in it, once it was okay for me to leave the bed again I realized that I wouldn't be able to get myself out. The contractions had become too forceful and hard, and I didn't think I would be able to get out of the bed quick enough to do it between contractions. So, I breathed, and groaned, and squirmed in the bed.

At about nine, I decided to take the pain medicine. It would be a bit of nubain and phenergan, two medications I knew about and had even read up on.. and that I knew would make me feel a bit drunk. It was the same medicine that I had been given when I was in labor with Chloe, but I knew this time that none of this was going to slow down. Labor was progressing so quickly (yet, it felt not quickly enough), that nothing would slow this down. And nothing slowed down. Right after I got the pain medicine I felt a little bit tipsy, and told Chris to go get something to eat while he could. He hadn't slept of eaten most of the day, and I knew I was going to be alright without him there for a few minutes at that point. I didn't fall asleep, but time kind of blurred during the next hour or so while I labored. I felt all the contractions, but I just felt that they all blended together into one huge contraction. I remember resting my head against the rail of the bed after each one, which seemed like the only thing that differentiated having a contraction from not having one.

Labor grew more and more intense and I felt like the time between contractions lessened and lessened even more. Pat had checked me at about ten, and I was seven centimeters. I don't remember being checked after that. I just remember that as I started to feel that I was going to start pushing, I noticed that a couple more nurses had shown up, and that Pat was getting all set to catch the baby. I  don't remember talking about pushing, or announcing that I was going to push, or even Pat saying much about it... but I knew what my body was doing, and what it was about to do. My body and mind recognized all this, and there stood Pat at the end of the bed, and my husband at my side, assuring me that I knew what was happening, and whenever I felt ready,  to go ahead. 

With the next contraction I began to push. Slowly, but forcefully. I groaned and remember feeling frustrated that the baby had not come out with that one push. (Looking back now I feel like I can just count that first one as a practice push... right?) During the next one I pushed again, and I could feel that the baby was starting to come, but had not yet. Nobody said anything as I pushed, and I only remember my nurse encouraging Christian, who was standing by my side and holding my hand silently, to give me some ice chips because I looked dry. I remember him looking around quickly for ice-chips, and then putting them up to my lips as another contraction came. Nobody was saying anything, and I could only head myself groan as I pushed. I pushed during the next contraction and on the following one I felt the head. One more push and the body came as well.




I felt the warm hefty weight of the baby on me. I heard Pat chuckle, telling me that there was no denying he is a boy! I looked at Christian, and we both looked at our Gregor. I held him on my chest and breathed. The nurses were scurrying around the room, and eventually they turned down the lights and Gregor looked at me.

I delivered the placenta, and Pat apologized for not needing to give me any stitches this time around (yay!) While Pat and I talked and laughed and hugged, Christian did a little texting to our families to let them know that Gregor was here and well, and found the middle name of his friend who had passed was "Ian". We named our baby boy Gregor Ian.













MOM x 2



It's been almost two weeks since I gave birth to Gregor (which explains my lack of attention to this poor little blog). These first days of being a mom-of-two have pretty much been the stuff that motherhood dreams are made of. My husband has been able to be home, and life has been kept calm and quiet for all of us. There have been some naps, decent homemade meals, and lots of cuddling between all members of the family. Now, there have been some moments where things have gotten a little hairy. Moments that I knew would happen, and that I was dreading, like when I desperately needed to use the bathroom, but the baby was screaming, and the toddler was acting up, and the husband had ran out to the grocery store, and I just didn't want to leave the baby and the toddler unattended in order to use the bathroom - but we have survived those moments, and it's all been okay. Funny how that happens, right? Somehow living through those little moments allows you to breathe a tiny bit easier when they are over. 

Sigh, a deep breath, and Yes, we made it through that. You got this. We got this.

Today is my first day at home with two, by myself. My husband went back to work this morning. Last night I had told him to wake me up when he woke up for work, a little after six, if I wasn't already awake. My plan was to get myself together before the kids woke up: make a cup of coffee, wash my face, put on deodorant, and maybe some clean clothes. I wanted to get a head-start and be ready to do this. I was half-awake when he kissed me goodbye and told me to go back to sleep. I rolled over and slept until the babes were both calling for me: a sing-song "MAAAAAH-MEEEEEEE!", and a breathy "AGGGHHH-AHH-AHHH-AGGHHHH!". 

Now I have fed them, and fed myself, and so I thought I would maybe start to write Gregor's birth story. It is a good story, and I am looking forward to sharing it, but it might take me longer to write than I had supposed. 

I used to be a bartender while I was in nursing school. I worked at a smallish bar that served a good selection of micro-brews, along with bottles of miller, bud, and coors.  The location of the pub, the beer selection, and the more-than-decent pub food were all factors that played well with one another in ensuring that there was a very diverse and interesting client mix. Despite the diversity, one of the strangest constants I found among the male patrons was their ability to talk about child-birth. Yes. Sports, the weather, work, and child-birth. And the stories that I heard were often told with such fervor, you would have thought these men had given birth themselves.

"She was in labor for just about ten hours - and not just panting - No! she was working hard the whole time! Most incredible thing I ever saw".

"Oh there was so much blood! I thought I was going to pass out!"

"That baby came out in one push! Just all of the sudden, like in those TV shows where the baby flies across the room!"

Birth is very amazing. No-matter how you do it, or where you do it. If you are the one giving birth, or you are the partner of the one giving birth, if you are adopting the one being birthed, or if you are assisting in the birth. The act of bringing a new life into this world is one of life's wonders. I plan to take time in writing my birth story. I want to tell it well. It was a good story - too good to sell-short due to time constraints. It is worth spending an entire night, and then some, writing. It is the story of me becoming a mom, all over again. Of learning from the past, of trusting my body and my instincts, of knowing that it is going to be okay.

Much like today. Although I haven't physically given birth to any children today, I continue to do the same as I did when I gave birth: learn from my past, trust myself, and know it is going to be okay. 

Sigh. Deep breath. Yes, we are going to make it through this. We got this. You got this.





29/52

"a portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2014."

 
sometimes i watch her and feel that juvenile kind of infatuation... where she can eat her fries in the weirdest, or grossest of ways, and it's just going to make me like her more.



joining in with jodi this week.



....and by the way - where is the time going this summer?!?!?

28/52

" a portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2014."

this week i set up the bassinet in our room, where the new babe will sleep until her or she is ready to share a bedroom with his or her big sister. chloe helped me put together the "baby's bed" (she loves handling tools and screws), and then spent a good amount of time exploring the "new" fixture in our bedroom. 



a few of my favorites from this past week:





joining in with jodi this week.


NESTING: PACKING THE BAG

the start of my hospital bag

okay, so packing the bag is a big deal when you are pregnant.... i guess. i mean, everyone asks you if you have it packed, if you have signed up for any kind of pregnancy website newsletter you start receiving reminders, instructions, and guidelines of what to pack in the bag. about half-way through your pregnancy. the first time around i obsessed way too much about this bag, and thought too little about some bits of what i might need. i was packed by week 30, waaay over-packed, and forgot my toothbrush. i guess everyone is different, and depending on your past experiences, where you plan to deliver, and what you feel is necessary to live for however long you will be away from home (if you will be!) is what will determine how you pack.

this time around i am attempting to pack a lot lighter. as you may have heard, i am trying to simplify around here, and so i will be taking a lot less with me this time. i am also almost thirty-four weeks along, and still don't have my bag really "packed". i have a few more things to buy, and will have last minute stuff to throw in before heading out the door. my aim is just the essentials to keep me and the babe comfortable for a couple days... and i know that we really don't need a whole lot. so, without any further ranting and rambling, here is my simple list of suggested things to bring to the hospital or birthing center.

1 / a nightgown/night-shirt (and robe if that is your thing). do yourself right and buy something nice and new, comfortable, and nursing friendly if you plan on nursing. friends and family will want to come see you and your babe in the hospital, and they will be toting cameras. at the time you probably won't care what you are wearing after the whole delivery process, but a couple weeks later when you look on instagram or facebook at those photos, you will be happy you were wearing something that you felt good in. my advice is to pick out something dark colored and knee-ish legnth that has a low enough neck to allow you to nurse, if you plan to. you don't want to worry about spills, stains, or needing to hike up a long gown to allow your nurse to "check you".

2 / nursing or sports bra and dark granny-panties. you are going to be wearing pads after you deliver, big massive pads, for a few weeks... in the hospital they give you big icey pads that feel amazing, and you will need a decent surface to stick them. a couple pairs of soft, well fitting, dark underwear will make it easier to hold those pads in place. i have heard it recommended by some to bring bike shorts - for some extra comfort/holding power. but i probably won't worry about anything like that until i am back home and on my feet a bit more. if you plan on nursing, bring along a nursing bra, if you do not plan on nursing, bring along a good supportive sports bra.

3 / socks/slippers - which brings us to socks or slippers. bring something to throw on your feet - preferably slip-proof, that you don't care about all too much. i grabbed a package of socks from target to do the job. 

4 / toiletries/make-up/hairbrush/pads/whatever. my suggestion is to pack a small back of whatever you are going to want to bring along, and then sit it in the bathroom. most likely these are items that you use everyday, and so packing them away isn't really convenient. i bought new toothbrushes - one for me and one for my husband (he will probably spend a bit of time at the hospital with me and might want to brush his teeth too). i plan on bringing my brush, a couple hair ties and bobby pins, and some dry shampoo, because i am very down with the dry shampoo these days and don't think i am going to care about washing my hair in the hospital... is that really gross? eh, i don't care. i am sure there are going to be other things going on with my body to deter my attention away from my hair - oh yeah, and there's going to be the new babe too! i totally am not going to care about how gross my hair is, as long as it looks okay in photos. as far as makeup goes: bring some foundation/coverup - once i finally looked at a mirror, hours after giving birth, i realized i had little red spots on my forehead.  i had ruptured little blood vessels from pushing during birth! a little tinted moisturizer did the trick. i'm also packing some waterproof mascara, tinted lip-balm, and some eyeliner. i want to look nice in pictures that people will be snapping and posting on instagram or facebook... but i don't want to spend a ton of time on doing my makeup. the hospital usually has soap and towels, and a ton of pads, and all that stuff, so you can leave yours at home. if you are using a birthing center be sure to check with them on what you should bring. okay, enough about primping...

5 / something to wear home. do not pack your pre-pregnancy jeans (like i did). they most likely will not fit, and you might still be a bit sore down-there, and not quite jeans ready. i suggest leggings or a pair of soft harem pants, a loose tee or tank, a light cardigan to throw over it all if you want, some cute flat shoes, and a little jewelry to make yourself feel put together. something to think about is this: you will probably be wearing one of those monster pads home - and therefore your granny-panties as well. so if you are going to wear some leggings you are going to run into panty-lines. be sure to pack something long enough to cover your tush if this kind of thing troubles you.

6 / your camera and your phone, and chargers for these items. i brought my computer the first time around and never took it out of the bag - so i am not bringing it this time around. i also brought magazines, a book, some knitting... and yeah, never touched any of it. all of my time without visitors was either spent cuddling my new babe and trying to get a little rest. you are not going to be bored - but you will want your camera to take a few photos, and your phone (but don't feel bad for turning it off or on silent when you need some quiet!). you might also want to bring a small mp3 player or ipod to listen to music during labor, but i never felt like i wanted music and was happy to have a quiet and slightly darkened room. i'll be leaving mine at home.

7 / your I.D., wallet with a few bucks, and maybe a pen and small notepad. just throw it in your purse and have it ready to walk out the door with. 

8 / things for the baby!!! now here is the fun stuff.. and depending on where you deliver you won't need a whole heck of a lot. if you are in the hospital you don't need to bring onesies, diapers, or wipes, or even a binky/pacifier/dummy. they will provide you with plenty and even send you home with some. if you are planning on delivering in a birthing center, be sure to check on what to bring along. i am delivering in a hospital, and bringing a soft footsie pajama to bring our little one home in, a hat or two, and a light swaddle blanket. that's it! oh yeah, and make sure to have your car-seat in the car and strapped in correctly before you head to the hospital, hospital staff need to be sure you have a car-seat in the car, but usually are not able to help you install the car seat. to be safe, read the manual and put it in the car beforehand.

9 / this is totally optional, and not necessary, but i am bringing along a small gift for the baby from chloe, and a small gift for her from the baby. i was lucky enough to have scored a beautiful polka-dot club bear during an instagram sample sale, and then recently ordered one for chloe. i plan on taking these out when she comes to visit the hospital and meets her new sibling. i think it'll make the perfect special gift. preparing an older sibling for a new baby is a blog-post unto it's own that i am currently working on, and plan to share soon.

10 / also optional is your pillow - they will provide you with one... but if you definitely cannot sleep without your own then bring it along.  some snacks  - because it's nice to have something to munch on and to share with visitors. however, you can always have someone bring you something. or make your husband run to get something like i did. i also had him pick up something for the nursing staff who took care of me and chloe. you really don't need to pack this stuff ahead of time.


and that's probably about all you will need. am i missing anything??? of course, if you can think of anything that you found super-helpful or necessary, leave it in the comments!





27/52


"a portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2014."





She has been interested in "bugs" for the past couple years, and this year more-so than ever before. She has started carrying ants around the back yard, allowing them to climb onto her fingers and up her arms. She brought over one to show me, and told me his (or her) name was "c-h-l-o-e". She names all her favorites that.


joining in with jodi.



NESTING: MONEY

a thirty-two week baby-bump photo, from a couple weeks ago


So, honestly... I am a bit leary about bringing up the topic of money. I was raised being told that it's not very polite to talk about it, and it can be one of those topics that we like to avoid with most people. However, when it comes to preparing for a new baby, I feel it is one of the practical things that must be thought about at some point. 

Chloe was a surprise pregnancy. I know some people scratch their heads when you call a pregnancy a surprise - like, "you know what happens when you... you know...". Yes, yes. However, one doesn't always think that, that ONE time, when you mess up your birth control, that has worked for you for the past however-many years, that you are going to get pregnant. When we found out we were having Chloe, our first reaction was laughter. We were excited, scared, surprised... so many things. And then eventually we began to talk about money...

We are lucky enough to both be employed with pretty solid careers. We had already bought a house when we found out we were expecting. I would have a twelve week, paid, maternity leave. We both worked a bit of overtime to set aside a little extra money - just in case. We were given so so much by our families and friends. In short, financially, we were really lucky.

This time around, we are still very lucky, but our circumstances are a bit different: we were trying to get pregnant and I no longer work full-time at the nursing-gig (which means no paid-vacation, sick-time, or paid maternity leave!). So we did a bit of planning. Here's a few things that we have done to prepare, that might help as you prepare your family, and your wallet, for having a new little one:

1 / Set up a baby fund - How we did this was by figuring out how much our expenses are monthly, and then figuring out what half of that is (I usually am able to pay for about half of our expenses), then multiplying it for however many months you expect to be unpaid. Because I do not get a paid maternity leave this time around, and I do not plan on working as much, when I do go back the second time around, we tried to put away as much as we could. Tax returns, and any surplus cash that we have been lucky enough to come across, since we had Chloe, has been put away into this fund in order to prepare. It hasn't been easy to do this - it has meant not taking vacations and going without buying stuff that would be fun to buy, but we know that we will be happier in the long run if i can be home more without stressing about how those bills will get paid.

2 / Try to get rid of some debt - One of the things I wish I had been doing a better job of, before I had Chloe, was reducing my debt. Like many, I have some student debt... and it's a drag. I wish I had thought to reduce it before I cut back on how much I working when I had Chlo. After I had Chloe, and returned to working, I also returned to school, paying both out of my pocket and with some loans. After I got my degree and we started talking about having another baby, I knew I needed to do something about my student loan payments. So I started throwing every spare cent on my loans to get rid of as much debt as possible. Chris helped me with this as well, and we were able to get rid of more than two-thirds of my student debt. One website I found very helpful and inspirational was/is "And Then We Saved". I followed a lot of the principles of "the spending fast" and "the spending diet" and surprised myself with how much I was able to save in order to pay off debt. It wasn't always fun, but now I have a smaller amount of debt, that I feel I will be able to pay off in the not-so-distant future... and well, that feels really good.

3 / Buy Less - you might feel that you need to drop a big wad of cash on a whole bedroom set for your new little one, or that you need a swing, and a bouncer, and a carrier, and a rocker, and a whole lot of other things that shake your offspring around and end in -er, but you find out quickly that you really don't. In fact, a whole lot of the things that I had, I hardly ever used. They didn't get opened, or their clutter-factor beat out their usefullness-factor. Babies do not require a whole bunch of stuff - really a lot less than you think they do. I plan to put together a list of baby essentials to share on here shortly (for the meantime this list by Mother is pretty good - I say it is still a bit too much), but I will tell you now that I wish I hadn't acquired so much stuff before I had Chloe, and just bought things as I went along. It would have saved me a lot of money and space. 

4 / Think and plan about how your time will be spent after having the baby - They said that time is money, and quickly after I had Chloe I realized it is my most valuable resource. Although I love my career, and wasn't ready to give it up completely after I had a baby, I knew I didn't want to spend as much time as I had working... but I still had to be paid, and at the same time I wanted to be home with my baby. The husband and I are lucky enough to both be shift-workers, and I was lucky enough to be able to cut-back my work status and take on a per-diem schedule (meaning that I work on an as-needed basis... and luckily ER nurses are pretty much always needed where I work!). This was a little hairy at first. I breast-fed Chloe up until fifteen months, and going to work meant pumping, as well as my husband caring for a baby that was used to being breast-fed, and didn't find the bottle to be quite as soothing or sleep-inducing ;) I got a few frustrated phone calls in the beginning from that husband of mine who was scared that our child may never stop crying, or that he was doing something wrong, or that our daughter may hate him, already.  None of these things were true, but our little one did seem to prefer having her milk-source mama around, and we both have realized that the house runs a lot smoother when I am here. I am not saying that my husband is bad around the house - he is great with Chloe, and the man works hard, but he might not enjoy the practical aspects of homemaking as I do - and there is nothing wrong with that. This time around we thought more about who will spend more time at home with the babes, and how this will affect both of our work schedules. There will still be times where I work outside the home, but less than I used to, and less over-night shifts for sure. If staying at home is not feasible for your family - talking about how you will manage child care in your family, and the money you might need to spend on child care is important to prepare for.

These are a few of the big things we have done when preparing for another little one. Hopefully they are helpful, or at least good food for thought.  Also, if anyone has anything to add to this - please leave a comment. I am always looking for tips.






26/52

"a portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2014."






from the day she requesting "thirty" barrettes in her hair, but settled for nineteen.


joining in with jodi.











THE IMPORTANCE OF A GOOD WALK


So, yesterday had been one of those days, or rather, this week has been one of those weeks. 

One of those weeks where I am out of breath with every flight of steps I walk, and I have a long list of things I want-to/need-to/would-like-to-do. One of those weeks where my husband seems to play too many video games for my liking, and my kid throws too many tantrums, and my patients grind their teeth while I am attempting to poke their tough, leathery, weathered skin with the smallest possible IV... you know, grinding them just to make my skin crawl.

I walk outside and immediately find it a little harder to breathe in the thick and wet air. My stomach hurts after I eat anything. Nothing I make looks right, everything I clean gets filthy within an hour, nothing stays folded, I can't do my make-up right. 

You know...I might as well have my period too.

But I am still pregnant. So no period. I am thirty-one and a half weeks.  And if one more person asks how long I have to go, and then follows it up with an apologetic look... well then I just don't know what I am going to do.



Throw myself on the ground? Cry? Yell at them to not patronize me... because their apologetic look implies sympathy, and I am pregnant - not sick or maimed. Wildly scream at them to save their sympathy for someone who needs it! Whatever it is.. I will make them wish they had never asked.

or just make them believe I am crazy.

And yes, isn't it crazy that when you get tired and weighed down by stuff, that you feel like everyone is out to get you? And you know deep down that the world is pretty much good, or that people, for the most part, intend good - at least I know I do. But you get so exhausted sometimes, of doing life, just like everyone else is doing, and begin to feel that everyone is against you, and you are fighting whatever fight there is, alone...
 
So, tonight I just had enough. I was so full of complaints and frustration, that I just needed to go. I put chloe to bed after what I decided would be the last tantrum of the night, replaced the boxer shorts that I had borrowed from my husband's drawer, with a skirt and sandals, and told Christian that I was going for a walk, and quickly asked did he want anything? He asked if he could go buy me ice cream. He asked if I wanted to go out and get a pedicure and offered to pay. 

No. None of those things are what I need or want. I want to walk. I must walk by myself, freely, and just do whatever I want to do. Without needing to push a stroller, or handle requests for blue slurpee/angry birds popsicles/a grey rock, or explain why I must hold your hand when we cross the street. I wanted needed to walk alone, like I used to. 

So I walked to my little cvs, and I perused the beauty products and thought about doing my nails, but decided not to after a bit. I selected a new eyebrow brush/lash comb. I passed by a beauty sponge that resembled a sex-toy and thought of buying it as a gag gift... then realized that I had very few friends or acquaintances that would realize the joke of this item - that would know what it resembled. I would never possibly be able to explain the item without raising some eyebrows or laughing to the point of tears, like a middle-schooler. But, when you are a nurse you learn about items that people stick in their bottoms... or rather ones that get stuck there. And if that sponge didn't look like a little hot pink butt-plug.

I put it down.




I moved onto the seasonal products. They had the tiniest little cacti and succulents, fake humming-birds that fed from fake flowers, but looked pretty darn real when they were moving so quickly. There was a big revlon display featuring Olivia Wilde, and I giggled while at the same moment feeling sad about how obviously they had covered up her one ever-so-slightly wonkey eye with her hair.  Because Olivia's wonkey eye makes me sincerely happy that she is so beautiful, and yet still possesses a characteristic that some might consider  a "flaw". Then it began to make me angry that her eye was hidden, as if there was something wrong with it. As if there was something wrong with her... and for that matter as if there was something wrong with anyone who has a bit of a wonkey-eye, or a hairy mole, or freckles, or acne scars, or a funny nose...




I took a breath and walked on.

I decided that I would buy my husband his favorite candy - airheads rainbow sour belts, because I hadn't been the nicest wife, and I liked the thought of buying him something. Then grabbed a copy of Vogue, because i liked the idea of flipping through it while doing nothing else.

little luxuries.

I walked around the store a few minutes more. Enjoying the air conditioning. Enjoying not being rushed by a husband would wanted to be home, or a child who was bored. I enjoyed every minute as I slowly walked to the counter, when I was ready, and paid for my three items. 

I left the store and continued my walk to the ice cream stand. Our local ice cream stand used to have the best ice cream stand name ever: Custard's Last Stand. Perfect right? It was a tiny little ice cream stand, with a few benches behind it, and a very large fluorescent ice cream cone on the top of it. the stand was painted white with bubble-gum pink trim. But now it has been renamed (Richman's), the pink trim has been replaced by red, and the glorious ice cream cone is gone. Oh yeah, the prices also went up about fifty perfect.

But I still go there, and so does everyone else, because it is the only ice-cream stand in walking distance. I got a small hot fudge sundae with soft-serve frozen yogurt, and surprised myself with how quickly I was able to devour it on the walk home. I paid for the ferocity in which I devoured it shortly after, when my stomach reminded me that it has very limited space to store ice cream and a baby. I gently pushed on the side of my stomach to try to move the baby and give my stomach room while grimacing from the pain I had caused myself by eating my frozen treat.

I smiled, because despite my stomach feeling that it was going to explode, it felt good to have eaten ice cream alone. And it felt really damn good to walk like I used to before I had a husband or child. To just walk to the store and think my own little thoughts, and walk down the isles I wanted to, and to just be alone and selfish in those minutes... and to relish it all.

Because I fervently adore my husband and my child so much with every bit of myself, but sometimes I need to just walk alone for a few minutes, and remind myself that I am a person who has thoughts and makes choices. I still have autonomy, gosh-darnit!

Even if it's just thoughts about Olivia's wonkey eye, or the decision to make of which isle to walk down at CVS.








NESTING: WARDROBE EDITION



so last week, i blogged a little about "nesting", and how this time around is has been different from what it was when i was pregnant the first time, with chloe. i contribute this to a few things: i now have a few years of experience of being mom, and i know what seems to work and what doesn't (for us). 

after i had chloe i expected to be able to wear the clothes i wore pre-pregnancy, and early in my pregnancy, home from the hospital. i must have been delusional. i was not only unprepared to face the changes that my body had undergone, but also the changes that i would undergo in the following few months and years when it came to my own personal style. high shoes and uncomfortable clothes  that i used to suffer in for the sake of fashion, didn't get touched, and when they did, they were quickly removed and replaced by more practical and comfortable options. eventually i wound up either selling or giving away many items, repeatedly editing and re-editing my wardrobe... and each time feeling that i was getting closer to being more comfortable with what my wardrobe had become - a collection of items that felt like a well curated home to me.

okay, so it's not my whole wardrobe, but what you would see if you looked in my wardrobe. lots of grey, black, denim, and neutrals.



i realized i didn't need a bunch of statement items and shoes, but that all i need to get me through most days is a good pair of jeans, a few presentable shirts and some tees, and perhaps a very easy and flattering dress or two. decent underthings (that work under anything i wear), and shoes are also a must - but i don't need a whole lot of them, just enough in good quality. my jewelry is pretty much always the same - a few rings that i love, a sterling cuff, and maybe a pair of earrings, or a necklace. being able to get dressed quickly, without a lot of fuss or thought, became a priority - but along with feeling effortless, i wanted to feel like myself when i got dressed. to this day i am continually editing my wardrobe, but i find that i buy much less, and often look for items that i can move around in, wear often, dress up (or down), and that are well made. my purchases are carefully considered, and i often find myself asking myself if i can make something similar. when it comes to making a big purchase, i like to feel that i am really treating myself, making an investment (especially in a quality hand-made item, like one of these, that i am oogling), and will wear it often for many years.

the same wardrobe guidelines go for my children - a pair of sturdy sneakers, some sandals, a pair of boots, and perhaps a pair of ballet slippers are all chloe needs as far as shoes go. her entire wardrobe fits into one drawer. most of it is made up of easy play-skirts i made myself, a couple pairs of jeans, and very basic tees and tanks in neutral colors. all of her things are good quality, but she probably has just enough to make it through a little more than a week. which is perfect, because i do laundry at least once a week, maybe twice. i love that she can pull clothes out of her drawers and be pretty-well matched. also, she loves wearing her play-skirts, and they have been super-easy for potty training.

chloe's outfit on a typical day consists of a play-skirt, a top, and some shoes of her choosing.



when it comes to dressing a new baby i am trying to keep it really simple too. i plan on needing to buy some basics. some fresh onesies, a few soft sleepers, and a hat or two. i had put away many of chloe's things from when she was a baby, only saving the best onesies and sleepers, but darnit if i didn't unpack them all to discover them worn out in ways that i just don't remember. i also do not remember owning so much pink (chloe's gender was a surprise, and i thought we had owned mostly green and yellow clothes) so i pulled out the most special items to wash and mend, and donated the rest.


a sweater i knit for chloe when she was a newborn, and a sweater and hat for the new baby
i plan on making a few things for the baby, chloe, and myself. for the babe: some muslin swaddlers, a couple knit sweaters for the fall, and a few hats. chloe will also get some sweaters, and both of them will get some handmade slippers. it sounds like a bit of work, but it is actually pretty simple for me to manage making warm little things, and i find it satisfying to see my kids in stuff i made them. 

all this to say, that simplifying our wardrobes has really helped save time and money for us in the long run. i don't have a ton of money to spend on clothes, so i make some, and try to buy things that i know will last and be worn a ton, rather than buy a bunch of stuff that doesn't wash well and wears poorly... not that i mind a good worn-in tee or jeans (they are my favorites), but stuff that is cut badly and looses shape quickly is so disappointing, and is not the kind of worn-in that i am going for.

so, yeah, it took me a while to get to this point where i own way less clothing than i ever have, and feel more comfortable with it than i ever thought i would, but it has made my life much easier, and my wardrobe much more enjoyable to wear and build.
if you are looking for more information for how to simplify your wardrobe, i recommend this blog post, this one too, and that you google "the five piece french wardrobe" (and take what you want from it)... and then taking whatever principles you see fit, and applying them to kid's wardrobes. now, it's a little trickier as kid's grow like crazy, and need stuff more often, but i found once i started paring my wardrobe down, that chloe's followed suit.


if you would have shown me how little i needed before i had chloe, i wouldn't have believed it, but having less clothes has been key to keeping me sane when it comes to getting dressed.
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