Today was a good day: I finished Allegiant, ran with the family, and watched Catching Fire. Tonight, when I put Henrie down for bed, she framed my face with her hands and gave me a kiss on the lips. Melt my heart. Soooo thankful for break.
With Stacy’s blessing, a post about Margot’s birth:
Three weeks ago, Joshua received a text from Stacy that said she was being induced. We called right away, and although the induction had been called off, both Stacy and Kyle were shaken. After measuring Stacy’s fundal height at a routine prenatal visit and finding it on the small side, the midwife scheduled her for an ultrasound. It was at this ultrasound that the technician confirmed that Margot was small for her gestational age, and in a swift series of events, they were discharged from their birthing center, transferred to Tufts Medical Center, and thrown into whirl wind of medical uncertainty.
That weekend, I’m talking to Stacy on the phone, and I’m desperately wishing that I were there. Our two closest friends are about to become parents – arguably one of the most intense transitions in their adult lives – and now, there is this scary uncertainty thrown into the mix. Stacy is reading about the NICU, inductions, and cesareans, and Kyle’s feverishly working through the rigors of Harvard Law School.
So on Tuesday, when Stacy goes to Tufts Medical Center and gets the induction date – November 1 – I book a ticket to Boston for October 31 through November 4.
A week later on Thursday morning, Joshua and Henrie drop me off at the airport. I’m so happy to be going to Boston, and being there for Stacy and Kyle as they embark on this transition feels good and right. That being said, I dreaded leaving Henrie. And Joshua, but let’s face it: he’s fully cognizant, knows I love him and that I’m coming back. But Henrie? The longest we had ever been apart was 18 hours, so imagining five days and four nights apart felt like an eternity.
The flight to Boston took four hours, and shortly after I landed, I found Stacy and her mom, Sandy, waiting for me. We took public transit back to Cambridge, chatting and giddy the whole time. I’ve missed Stacy so much! Back at their apartment, we snacked and napped, and later that evening, we walked to campus to meet Kyle.
After a tour of the law library and a student building, we walked back through the dark. On the way, we stopped at Whole Foods for the ingredients to Eggplant Parmesean, a third trimester favorite (eggplant is supposed to help kick start labor). Back at the apartment, I salted eggplant, breaded and fried it, and then doused layers in mozzarella and pasta sauce. Honestly, that dish is everyone’s favorite, third trimester or not. I mean, what’s not to like?
In between napping, eating, and chatting, I’m stock piling hugs. At least a dozen.
That night, I sleep with Mimi in the living room, waking up to pump in the early morning hours. If there were any question whether Henrie is still actually getting anything from her nursing sessions, this was my answer: I pumped about ten ounces a day.
We had most of Friday to ourselves. Stacy and I went on a short walk, and I tried to take some artsy photos of her pregnant belly. I’m afraid Stacy didn’t really like any of them
Kyle came home earlier in the afternoon, antsy to start the induction process. In the evening, Kyle called Tufts, and they told us all systems were a go. Throwing all of our stuff together, we set off, stopping at Whole Foods to stock up on the way.
After a short walk, the subway, and another walk through the heart of Boston and Chinatown, we arrived at Tufts Labor and Delivery Unit with smiles on our faces. We were ready to have a baby!
The nurses looked at us, humored. Four of you? For an induction? We kept smiling.
And thus began the wait. That night, we waited for no less than four deliveries before Stacy began her first part of the induction process, a cervical ripener called Cervadil. Sandy and I went back to the apartment around 11 PM, and the next morning, we called, eager for news. No news, they said, take your time.
Around noon, we made our way back into Boston (along with Red Sox fans), and when we got to Stacy’s room, she was having mild contractions from the Cervadil, and she had dialated to two centimeters. Around 2 PM, the nurses started the Pitocin drip, increasing it by 1 mL every half hour and then 2 mL every half hour as the evening wore on.
It was slow going, and the contractions never seemed to intensify. In the evening, Sandy and I went out for vegetarian sushi and miso, and when we returned, we continued the wait.
That night, Margot’s heart rate decelerated, and the nurses rushed in to put Stacy on oxygen and take her off the Pitocin drip. In twelve hours, Stacy was still only dilated to two centimeters, so they decided to try another cervical ripener. This time, they used a foley catheter to manually dilate the cervix.
That night, I slept on the lobby couch, while Sandy and Kyle eeked out a space in Stacy’s room. Joshua sent me pictures of Henrie, and I fell asleep looking at her little face, missing her so much.
The next morning, we continued the wait. Around noon they removed the catheter, and found that Stacy was dilated to three centimeters. In less than an hour, they started another Pitocin drip, working their way up from zero once again.
By this point, I think the wait was starting to wear on Stacy. It was Sunday evening, and I was selfishly wondering if I would get to meet Margot before I left. I tried to remind myself that I was here for Stacy and Kyle, but darn it if I didn’t want a first glimpse of Margot!
Late Sunday night, Margot’s heart rate began decelerating after the height of what were still pretty mild contractions. This concerned the nurses and the OB on duty because it meant that Margot wasn’t tolerating the contractions well, and the placenta wasn’t delivering enough oxygenated blood. They took Stacy off the Pitocin.
If this was a story, and I guess it is, this would have been the emotional climax. After 48 hours of the induction process, it looked as though Margot was not tolerating the whole process of labor well. It was starting to look like a cesarean was inevitable, but before they resorted to surgery, they wanted to break Stacy’s water in a last-ditch effort.
As the nurses talked over the possibilities with Stacy and Kyle, they discussed different cesarean scenarios. Since Stacy had been laboring as naturally as possible, she didn’t have an epidural, and that would prevent them from moving to the operating room with expediency. The other options meant that Stacy would not be awake for the delivery.
In order to head off the possibility of being intubated or undergoing general anesthesia, Stacy decided to get the epidural catheter without running medication through it.
It was about this time that the nurses started really talking about Margot being taken to the NICU immediately after delivery, and although Stacy new that this was a probability, the fear and loss of not being able to hold her baby right away was emotionally difficult, to say the least. I’m not sure that Stacy and Kyle would claim discipleship of all of attachment parenting’s principles, but the core tenants: natural, vaginal delivery to chest, skin to skin, breastfeeding, and rooming in strike a chord with them, and thinking about having to be separated with Margot was almost too much to process.
In my empathy, I felt myself thinking about those first few weeks of parenthood, and although I had a long labor that did not go as planned and Henrie was on a billi bed for four days, it was a relatively gentle introduction to parenthood. She was healthy and happy, and we both had great paternity leave. Even so, those were the hardest and scariest two weeks.
At about 2 AM, the doctors inserted the epidural catheter and broke Stacy’s water. We all filed back into the room, expecting a sudden change, but when Stacy started dozing off, we all found a spot on the floor and caught some sleep ourselves.
Just before 6 AM, I heard Stacy get up to use the bathroom, and for the first time, I heard her audibly acknowledge a painful contraction. I got up.
The contractions came on every four minutes and lasted about a minute each for the next hour. Stacy labored on her birthing ball with Kyle rubbing her back and Sandy and me sitting in front. The nurse suggested that Stacy breathe in and out – pff pff pff – as though she were walking down the stairs, and so Stacy breathed through the contractions and then rested in between.
After about an hour of laboring, Stacy very calmly pronounced that she was going to get an epidural. We were all a little taken aback, because Stacy had been so adamant about laboring without painkillers, and both Margot and Stacy seemed to be tolerating these contractions so well. In turn, we each suggested an alternative: let’s see how much you’ve dilated, we can try another position, etc.
But after 48 hours of cervical ripeners, Pitocin drips, and watching Margot’s heartbeat, Stacy was mentally and physically sapped, and the fear that Margot’s heart rate would eventually begin to decelerate again made the point seem moot.
At the time, I’m not sure any of us knew what to say. When the nurse did come in, Stacy told her that she would like the epidural, and the nurse was gentle, kind, and non-judgmental. Stacy voiced the concern that we were all mad at her, and we reassured her that we were not.
In short order, the anesthetist came in, gave Stacy’s epidural a bolus, and the OB came to check Stacy’s cervix. She was fully dilated.
To say that I was shocked is an understatement. Four centimeters to 10 in one hour of active laboring?! Stacy had been handling the contractions so well – breathing, relaxing, and even joking in between – that none of us would have ever guessed that her labor was progressing so rapidly.
With the epidural beginning to work, Stacy was able to rest. The OB that Stacy had hoped would deliver Margot finally arrived, and she told Stacy to let them know when she felt like she wanted to push even between contractions.
Kyle, Sandy, and I sat around the bed and waited. Kyle meditated, Sandy held Stacy’s hand, and I might have pumped (lactation waits for no baby)?! Shortly before 10 AM, the OB came back in and checked Stacy, asking if she felt ready to push. Stacy nodded, and said she was.
While the epidural allowed Stacy to rest, it was pretty clear that she still had sensation. When the contractions came on, she alerted us before the monitors, and we held her legs and she pushed – hard – three times in succession.
Before long, we could see the top of Margot’s head as Stacy pushed. Kyle ripped off his shirt (ready for skin to skin), and I kept on saying, “we’re going to meet Margot!” Six or seven more people filed into the room, the bed did that crazy transformer thing where it rips in half and then raises up a few feet, and with the next push, Margot was out.
I say “Margot was out,” but what I really mean is first her head came out with a scream, then her little arm reached for the light, and then her perfect little body was out, covered in vernix and blood and wriggling and screaming.
Stacy gasped the new mother gasp as the OB placed Margot on her chest. It’s the same gasp I made, and I’m sure it’s the same gasp Sandy made and Sandy’s mother before her. It’s the one that says you’re out and you’re perfect, and I’m so glad to finally meet you.
Margot stared up into Stacy’s eyes, and when the OB took her and gave her to the NICU team, Stacy was crying and smiling and happy. Kyle went with the NICU team and watched as they checked her vitals, wiped her off, and swaddled her.
Her weight – 4 pounds 2 ounces – was good news, and her Apgar score of 9 out of 10 came as a relief to us all. Before the NICU team left with Kyle and Margot in tow, they gave Kyle a chance to cradle little Margot in his arms. It was pretty stunning to see our good friend be a father for the very first time. I can tell he’s going to be good at it J
Back on the bed, Stacy pushed once more for the placenta, and the doctors stitched up Stacy’s minor tears. For the next hour, the nurses weaned Stacy off the Pitocin drip and her epidural, and Stacy ate. We brought in a breast pump to get the first drops of colostrum for Margot, and I ran them down to the NICU.
In less than two hours, Stacy stood up, walked to the bathroom, and pronounced herself ready to meet Margot. Sandy wheeled her down in a wheelchair while I cleaned up the detritus of our lengthy stay in the labor and delivery room.
After moving all of our stuff to postpartum, I packed my things and made my way to the NICU to catch a few more minutes with Stacy, Kyle, and Margot before I had to say goodbye.
In the NICU, Margot was doing well. The 8 ccs of colostrum had boosted her glycogen levels high enough that the doctors were comfortable with Stacy trying to nurse. The lactation consultant came in, and Stacy and Margot had their first go at nursing. Stacy and I took turns marveling at Margot’s perfection, and just before I had to go, I got to hold Margot Ellison Pietari. She is perfect J
I said my tearful goodbyes and left, trailing my suitcase behind me. I was crying because I was sad to go, but I was also crying because I had seen a baby born, and my best friends become a mom and a dad for the very first time. And if that won’t make you cry, I’m not sure what will.
I ran to the subway station outside of Chinatown and met the subway as it pulled in. At Central Station, I disembarked and ran back to the Pietari’s apartment. After more than 24 hours of being inside the labor and delivery room, the light hurt my eyes, and the cold air stung my cheeks.
I got to the apartment with 20 minutes to spare, so I took a fast shower, tossed my things in my suitcase, and locked the door on my way out. On the way back to the station, I grabbed a salad at Whole Foods and called Joshua to celebrate Margot’s arrival and my homecoming.
I took the Silver Line to the airport, and by 5:30 PM, I was sitting at my gate, ready to return to Denver. I slept most of the flight, and when Joshua picked me up, he squeezed me tightly and we let Henrie sleep until we got home. As I lifted her out of her car seat, she smiled into my face and buried her head into my shoulder, making the “milk” sign. Back in our bed, we nursed and fell asleep.
So that’s what happened, but I’ve been unraveling my reaction to it all for a week now. As I think about the events of last weekend, and what has transpired since then, I’m in awe of our friends.
On Wednesday, Margot was discharged from the NICU, and Stacy and Kyle took her home to their little apartment in Cambridge. Kyle has resumed classes, and Stacy has assumed a schedule of pumping, bottle feeding, and cradling her little newborn. Because Margot is so small, she’s very sleepy, and breastfeeding is quite the work out for her. The NICU doctors and pediatrician have urged Stacy to prioritize pumping to bring in her supply, and Margot is getting high-calorie formula to help her put on weight.
I’m in awe because when I think about Henrie’s first weeks, I realize how high-strung we were. While Henrie did have pretty nasty jaundice, we really didn’t have any additional challenges. Even so, I lived in a state of fear and exhaustion for her first few weeks. I really just had no idea what to expect, and when nursing was difficult, I was a purist about it all, which in the end, I think made it so much harder.
And while I don’t necessarily mean to provide the foil for contrast, I can’t help but see the positivity and the willingness to adjust and make room for all that was unplanned as an incredible strength of Stacy and Kyle’s. I don’t know why this should surprise me: Stacy does most things with an unprecedented calm and assurance.
I guess what I trying to say is this: having Henrie was a learning experience. I loved her with ferocity from the outset, but when I think of those weeks, I think of a learning curve that started from a plane of approximately nothing. We did our best, but to a certain degree, those first weeks of parenting were like feeling our way through the dark.
In the same way, watching Kyle, Stacy, and Margot has also been a learning experience. In a strange way, supporting Stacy through her labor, epidural, and delivery gave me perspective and peace about my own labor, epidural, and delivery. Seeing Stacy adjust to the needs of her newborn makes me realize that some of my anxiety in those first weeks of Henrie’s life had way more to do with me and how I thought I should parent than Henrie at all. I admire Stacy and Kyle’s conviction and flexibility, and seeing them bring those qualities to parenting Margot in her first week of life is an inspiration to me.
Four weeks ago, Stacy and Kyle discovered that their baby was small for her gestational age. Three weeks ago, I bought a plane ticket to Boston.
One week ago, Stacy went into the hospital, and two days later, she gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl. On Wednesday, they went home. They are in love; they are happy. We miss them.
Happy Birthday Margot Ellison Pietari. Happy Birthday Stacy and Kyle. Welcome to a new world.
- My phone went AWOMP (Absent Without My Permission) the first weekend of October. I tried to turn it on, it protested with flashing lights and a dizzying kaleidoscope of rainbow colors and died. Forever. On the down side, I feel like I’ve been out of the loop for ages, and it costs a lot of money to replace it (even with insurance). On the upside, my hiatus has been a lot easier to uphold. (That being said, I HAVE posted three photos on Joshua’s instagram, and I bought a rain jacket on eBay. However, given the excess I was prone to before, I consider this nothing short of a success.)
2. Joshua has been studying for the GRE. A lot. On top of working. A lot. Henrie and I miss him, but I’m also proud of him for going after his goals. In the past, we’ve been known for our planning, scheming, and otherwise big-dreaming. I don’t think this is a bad thing, but when those plans, schemes, and dreams never blossom into reality, you can lose faith. I say “you” loosely, meaning we lose faith and those around us start to wonder if this is just another scheme or the real deal. I really started to feel frustrated with the trajectory of our lives this last spring with I wrote this post, and I can only describe this summer as the generative phase: we’ve had a million ideas, I can tell you. But this feels different. Joshua is actually sinking some serious hours into the next steps, and although we’re far from a decision, I can feel the progress so much more tangibly. Anyway, I know the previous paragraph reads as though I’m saying a lot without really saying anything at all, and I’m doing that purposefully. There will be an update soon, but I want to hold off until we’re absolutely certain, lest I set something in motion that we can’t live up to.
3. Henrie has been so wonderful recently (always? Ok, always.). With Brittaney and Harrison here, we had a ton of fun watching Henrie interact with someone her own size. At school she has a number of friends who are close in age, but we’ve never had this much time with another little person. In general, they were super sweet with one another, but I’m also realizing that we’re entering a new phase of development and parenting. Henrie has begun to test boundaries and experiment socially, and the results are not always culturally acceptable. Occasionally, she’ll do something even when you tell her not to or when she knows she’s not supposed to. She does it with a smile, looking back to gauge your reaction all the while. With Harry, the animals, or the two of us, she’ll sometimes hit or bite. Again, it’s all done playfully, but we’re really starting to have to draw a line. Right now, our policy is that she either has to say, “Sorry,” or she has to repair the harm with “gentle touches” and we’ll model for her, and when she resists at first, she goes in “time out” for a little bit. So far, it’s been pretty successful. She sits in ”time out” as though there are invisible walls, cries, and then comes over to copy the “gentle touches” and sometimes even says, “sorry.” We praise her profusely when she apologizes. Anyway, all of that probably doesn’t sound “wonderful” to you, but I’m really appreciating it. I love watching her learn about the world around her, and I relishing the moments when I actually get to teach her something. It’s so satisfying to see the little wheels in her brain turn and the dawn of recognition. In more readily translated “wonderfulness,” we’ve been enjoying parks, playtime, and reading now more than ever. She’s really beginning to interact and understand the world around her, and it’s.so.much.fun!
4. Tried to make applesauce in the crockpot like Brittaney. Epic fail. Went to bed and forgot to turn the crockpot off. So sad, and I’m just trying not to think about the 10 dollars I spent on the apples
5. Ashlee is coming this weekend!!
6. Missing our friends, the Pietaris so much right now. It feels so strange to know that their about to embark on such an incredible life change, and we won’t be there for the whole thing. Send them lots of warm thoughts.
7. I’m sure there’s more, but that’s all for now. Lotsa Love, E
Ok. Consider the following a stream of consciousness. Stacy posted a similar list on her blog a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been sneaking a few minutes here and there to write my own. I had intended to link a bunch of the stuff to old posts, but I only had the time to do a few. Regardless, I’ve written about most of the things after 2009.
The premise is to study the past in order so that I may divine the future.
2003: In the fall of 2003, I began my Senior year of high school. I had just returned from a summer in England with family, and I was the captain of the XC Team. Mick, my boyfriend at the time, dumped me, and I spent the fall with my girlfriends; meanwhile, I was applying to colleges and crushing on that boy (Joshua) in Humanities.
Best: living and breathing cross country; England; hanging out with Ashlee. Worst: being dumped. Hindsight: that crush is the real deal.
2004: That winter, I was the captain Nordic Ski Team. In January, I mustered up the courage to ask Joshua to a school dance. Soon, college letters came in, and despite all the odds, I was rejected from four of the five schools I applied to. Although it was a huge hit to my confidence, I was accepted to the University of Puget Sound, and it just so happened that Joshua had applied there in the fall for early acceptance. That Spring, I didn’t run track and I ran my first (and only, so far) marathon at Grandma’s in Duluth. In May, I graduated with a 3.94 (sorry, had to add that in, lest you think I’m a dummy for having been rejected from four out of five schools), and I worked all summer for FedEx on the night shift. That August, my dad and Hannah took me out to UPS. During Freshman orientation, I went backpacking with Eric and Matt who would become good friends for the rest of college. Joshua and I broke up for 24 hours, and my first roommate was a bust, but otherwise, life was pretty good. I moved in with Stacy, and we got along well, but we didn’t really become friends (until 7 years later?!).
Best: dating Joshua; marathon. Worst: rejection; first roommate. Hindsight: make friends with Stacy!
2005: During the second semester of freshman year, Caitlin and I became friends, and a group of us decided to live together. In the Spring, I took an Outdoor Leadership course, and I got to go on a weeklong backpacking trip along the Washington coast. That Summer, I went back to Minnesota and worked for FedEx and Mandy’s office, and then in the Fall, I moved back to the UPS and started living with Joshua (in a house with six other people). I took my first Art History and Gender courses, and I fell in love with them.
Best: backpacking, classes. Worst: choosing a major that’s pretty much useless. Hindsight: graduate with a credential, not a degree.
2006: That winter, I remember studying hard and weathering the dramatic ups and downs. 19 and 20 year olds are a lot like sixth graders: they want to be treated as though they are adults, but in a lot of ways, they still act like children. The kitchen was a sty, and forging new friendships while maintaining others proved tricky. That summer, Joshua, Caitlin, and I stayed on campus and worked for Conference Services. That fall, the three of us flew to South America and spent four months on the lam, learning Spanish, trying out WWOOFing, teaching English, and discovering the life of travel.
Best: living with Joshua for the first time; TRAVELING. Worst: dysentery, 19 year old boys that smoke weed and don’t clean the kitchen. Hindsight: send e-mails with all of the information (don’t through the family into a panic).
2007: Back in Tacoma, the three of us got an apartment in the Proctor District, less than a mile from school. In January, I went to the Humane Society, and we adopted Oscar, a shy and wonderfully grumpy mutt who lives with us to this day. By now, I had declared an Art History major (good sense be damned) and Joshua had declared a History major. That summer, Joshua worked for Conference services while I worked at the Office of Accounting and Budgeting Services and took summer classes. That fall, I became a Campus Campaign Coordinator for Teach For America, and I recruited like crazy, compelling 10% of our graduating class to apply. Joshua and I were accepted in October, and every morning, we would wake up early and run, talking about our future in New Orleans.
Best: Oscar, running with Joshua. Worst: not much! Hindsight: that teaching thing? It’s not a bed of roses.
2008: That Spring, we finished out our degrees and graduated with Honors. Joshua proposed, I said yes (of course), and in May, we packed our tiny little Hyundai with all of our earthly possessions – including Oscar – and set off for the Bayou, stopping at the Grand Canyon and Taos along the way. We stayed with Sarah for a couple of weeks, exploring the new city and dying from the heat, and then we flew to Phoenix for Institute. Six weeks later, we returned to New Orleans for our first ever teaching jobs. In the same school. (Crazy right?) Together with 9 other corps members, we were baptized by fire. It was the worst year of my life. We lost 10 students to gun violence. Other students were put in prison for taking the lives of others. It was unsafe, unhappy, miserable – no more so for us than our students – but vicarious trauma has its own teeth.
Best: the trip down to New Orleans, spending time with Sarah, our little quarters near the Marigny. Worst: ‘nuff said. Hindsight: ????
2009: During our second semester, the police were called onto campus 52 times. Gun clips in the yards, abusive administrators, and urine in the closets. But then. Summer. We drove back to Minnesota. Flew to Athens. We spent a month biking around the islands, swimming in the sea, and remembering the good things in life. In July, we married at Afton Apple Orchard among our friends and family, tan and happy. That fall, I returned to another slightly better but still terrible alternative school run by the RSD. Joshua went to New Orleans College Prep. We survived. Joshua working harder than ever, and me – coping. That Thanksgiving, we spent a short vacation in the Ozarks with my dad, Mandy, Hannah, and Eamon.
Best: GREECE, wedding, Ozarks. Worst: ‘nuff said. Hindsight: ????
2010: I remember New Years as one of the highlights in New Orleans. We ate a fancy dinner and watched the fireworks up on the levee, dressed to the nines. That Spring break, I flew to Portland to visit Caitlin for a week, and we poked around the coast like old times. And in May, it ended. If you ask me now, I can’t tell you why we stayed. It was so horrible, and I honestly don’t think I did any good. But we did, and when we left, we felt like we were being born again. Free to live life. Free to choose a new path. In June, we flew to England. We met up with Ashlee, hiking the Wicklow Way and exploring Andalucia. Back in England, we biked from End to End (and side to side), visiting our fabulous English family the whole way. After dunking our toes at John O’Groates, we headed for Turkey and then India. We spent a short time in Northern India with the Tibetans and zen travelers, and then we hopped a train and a bus for Nepal, a dream of mine. We hiked there for a couple of months, meeting up with the Pietaris, rafting down the Kaligandaki, soaking in the Himalaya, and then we flew back to England for a couple of weeks of mulled wine and scones with family before heading back to Minnesota.
Best: TRAVELING, rafting with the Pietaris, finishing teaching in NOLA. Worst: not much. Hindsight: DO IT AGAIN.
2011: In Minnesota, I came down with pyelonephritis, and lost the 10 pounds I hadn’t lost travelling. We lived in Ellsworth with Yvonne and Dave for a few months, and then we applied to our jobs here in Denver, driving down for interviews in March. We were both made offers on the spot, and we took them, renting a place in the Highlands before we returned to Minnesota to pack up our stuff. In April, we moved down to our two bedroom apartment. We took a little road trip into the mountains and down to Mesa Verde, and then I taught summer school. Kyle and Stacy moved down, and they became our close friends. In July, we got pregnant, and that Fall, I suffered through the heat and learning how to teach for the first time. In November, we bought our house.
Best: Colorado, spending time with family, getting preggers, hanging with the Pietaris and Devanes. Worst: teaching while preggers in the heat. Hindsight: you’re so lucky to have the Pietaris and the Devanes!
2012: Just as I started to get the hang of teaching in a place where teaching is possible but never easy, Spring Break arrived and so did Henriette Lily Andert. My pregnancy and her birth really do mark one of the most momentous occasions in my life. Those first months were hard. Kyle and Stacy were living with us (in between renting and owning), and their company made things a little easier. Gradually, we started to get the hang of this parenting thing, and in the fall, we returned to work, dropping off Henrie at a wonderful little school.
2013: That second year of teaching was easier, but still difficult. More and more, I’d gotten the feeling that something in me wants to teach, but I’m not really sure if teaching wants me to teach, if that makes sense. I poured myself into my friendships and Henrie, and we enjoyed numerous visits from family and friends. This summer, we took a road trip to California, and this fall, we began another year of teaching. This year, by far, is the best year of teaching, and yet… Well, we’ll see.
Best: Spending time with friends and family. Worst: the Pietaris leaving. Hindsight: none yet.
Hopes/Goals/Themes for the Future:
- What I want more than anything is a strong network of family and friends. Brittaney was here last week, and I practically salivated when she talked about having friends with children, people who they see on a regular basis, bounce ideas off of, and count on. I would love to have a loving community in which to raise Henrie.
- One thing I haven’t found is professional satisfaction. In college, I loved art history, religion, and feminism, but since then, I’ve struggled. Teaching has been a lot of good things, but it’s also been a lot of terrible things (I mean really, really horrible). In some ways, it’s more bad than good, more stress and heartache than joy. I really want to carve out a space professionally where I feel like I have something unique and good to offer, but I don’t have all of the answers yet.
- Kids. Having Henrie is one of the most rewarding and profound things I’ve ever done. We want more J
- TRAVEL. Like Stacy, I’d say this is money well spent and some of the best experiences of our lives.
And that’s about it. I don’t know about predicting the future, but that’s what I hope for. Any divinations you find with reading? What about you?
As a new parent, trusting my instincts isn’t always my strong suit. I’m impressionable and sometimes insecure. Here’s this beautiful little girl, and I feel this incredible responsibility. In the past that word – responsibility – has carried with connotations of obligation or burden, but I say “responsibility” with a gladness and wistfulness. Weight and girth of this responsibility feels enormous. Sometimes it’s overwhelming, but most of the time, it just feels like the most important thing in the world.
Yes, there are other important things. I am a wife, friend, daughter, teacher, dreamer, runner, and so many things in between. I have an identity beyond motherhood, but I’m also struck by the gravity of bringing life into this world and being the bow that bends and set that arrow forth (to use the words of Mr. Gibran). I know that I will makes mistakes – believe me, I already have – but I want desperately to do my best for her.
Which brings me to Attachment Parenting. Never has a body of thought pertaining to parenthood struck so many chords. In Henrie’s first year, it seemed that every instinct – whether timid or sure – aligned with this thinking. I loved co-sleeping. Breastfeeding, although rocky at first, became a cornerstone of our relationship. I loved carrying Henrie from place to place in the Ergo or the Bjorn, and we did everything pretty much on demand: no hard and fast bedtimes, no regular nap times, and nursing whenever the need arose.
But after the first year, I’ve begun having my doubts. It’s strange, because no one told me, “hey, Attachment Parenting is the only real parenting, and anything else is a surefire way to detach your child,” but for some reason, I’ve internalized this body of thought. At first, I was searching for unconventional ways to parent children, and when I found something unconventional, I leaned hard on its conventions. It became my barometric for good parenting, and I accepted it nearly wholesale.
Yes, yes. Very ironic. I know. But I’m getting there, so bear with me. It’s an evolution, people.
So now, 18 months in, I’m discovering some things that aren’t working so well, and I’m having a hard time trusting my instincts, because – like I said – Attachment Parenting has become my barometric for good parenting, and deviating feels like I’m failing on the barometer.
The impetus for this post? Well, Henrie and I got home at 12:45 like we usually do, and I nursed her in our bed for 10 minutes like I usually do, and Henrie wasn’t feeling it. She rubbed her eyes, exhausted, and sat up, ready to play. So I took her into the kitchen, made myself some lunch to share, and then we ate. Actually, I ate, and Henrie winged and literally put her head on the table, absolutely wrecked.
So I took a page out of Brittaney’s book. I grabbed her blankie, a stuffed toy, turned on instrumental music, and held her for a couple of minutes in my arms. “Night, night,” I said, and I laid her down in the Pack N Play.
She cried for three minutes – not hard, but consistently – and I went back in to rub her back for a few seconds. And then I left again. She cried – hard – for five minutes, and now she’s asleep.
I know it sounds crazy, but I’ve literally never let Henrie cry it out. I’ve never put her to sleep without holding her or nursing her or laying next to her. In her first year, letting her cry it out seemed draconian, but after months and months of being responsible for Henrie’s journey to sleep, I’ve decided that something has to change. My instincts tell me, of course she’s going to cry. This is her pattern. This is what she’s used to. But my instincts also tell me that she can learn to fall asleep on her own, and that once she does, she will sleep better and longer, because she will no longer be dependent upon me.
So I don’t know about tonight. I’m not even sure about tomorrow’s nap, but those are my thoughts for today. We’ll just try to figure this out one day at a time.
We’ve been so lucky this week! Brittany and Harrison are in town, and in between watching two little blonde heads run amok, we’ve just been soaking up this time with our good friends. The two of them got here on Wednesday and they’re leaving tomorrow morning, so we had a nice, long weekend.
On Monday, I was able to rope Brittaney into taking some photos of the three of us, and I couldn’t be more pleased that we finally have some images of our little family. So, all photo credits to Brittaney (you can see her blog here), and thank you so much for your patience!
Sadly, Henrie wasn’t in the mood to ham it up, but the backdrop couldn’t have been more beautiful… We love you, Colorado!
Henrie much preferred swinging and chasing Harry about to posing, naturally
There’s that smile we know and love.
Joshua finally relented and got a hair cut approximately half an hour before the photos.
So many of us swinging! But it really was the only time that Henrie was cooperating
Our wonderful guests and master photographer
It has been so much fun watching Henrie and Harry play… They are so fun and sweet together!
One of those even more rare photos of the two of us.
Couldn’t have asked for a prettier setting.
Genuine smiles and squinty eyes
Tickles to make her smile.
More of dad and Hen.
Is that a European baby?
And lest you think we took it easy on Brittaney, here are some of the outtakes (of which there were nearly 400).
Any favorites? Which one should be our holiday photo? Which one would YOU like?
Lotsa Love, the Andert Family
Life Right Now:
Busy. At the beginning of the school year, it’s as though we’ve toed the start line and the race official pulls the trigger. And we’re off! It’s Mondaytuesdaywednesdaythursdayfriday grade some, plan more, thisthattheother, wake up before 5 AM, pray for sleep, eatrun, go.
Teaching is going well. This year, my administration set really clear expectations, and it’s been such a relief to see our staff and students fall into place. The ratio of management to instruction has definitely swung far more in the favor of instruction, and that’s the way I like it. Plus, since we created the culture, I get to see the wonderful sides of my students. Last year, it was like Lord of the Flies, and I think we were all a little afraid of each other.
Henrie has had a cough for a couple of weeks now, and every time I wonder, can I really survive on this little sleep? The answer is, improbably, yes.
Right now, I’m dreaming of Thanksgiving, cider, and yellow aspens.
I wish I could sit down next to Joshua and watch Newsroom for hours.
A masters by 31, a 50k by 32, and someday, maybe even a doctorate.
Have you read?
This weekend, we went to a birthday party for our friends’ one year old son. They had a shutterfly book with pictures of their little boy and the poem, On Children by Khalil Gibran. I’d never read the poem before, and as I was flipping through the pages, I started crying. It really spoke to me:
by Kahlil Gibran
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.
I especially love the line, “they are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.”
Henrie has a cough and has decided to dabble in sleeplessness, but otherwise, she’s wonderful. She blows kisses, giggles, and smiles all the time. She is so much fun, and I feel so blessed to get to spend this time with her.
Joshua is working like a mad man: between planning and executing a new curriculum and studying for the GRE, he’s one busy boy. Every once in a while, we have a chance to throw our arms around each other, stand still, and say, “hey, I love you.”
Lots of biking, a birthday party, and on Sunday, a gorgeous walk through the changing aspens at Stanton Ranch, a new State Park.
That’s all. Tag. You’re it