baby

Mommy Stress (Why can’t I relax?)

There we were. It was a Friday evening. A beautiful bright Friday, somewhat rare in the bipolar month of March. In two days, my baby would be four weeks old and we were taking her with us out to dinner for the first time at one of those conveyor belt sushi places. 

I anticipated the sashimi after 9+ months of abstaining.

I should have been enjoying myself.

I wasn’t.

In the car, Skyla cried. We’d left the house to pick up James’ car from the mechanic but then we’d ventured further so I could get my new iPhone. And I felt guilty. I didn’t really need a new phone, I just wanted one. I didn’t really need to stay out and about, I just wanted to. As my tiny baby flailed her arms and screamed her little heart out, growing sweaty and crimson and all out of sorts, I knew it was my fault. No longer did I want a new phone, no longer did I want to get out of the house after nearly 4 weeks of holing up, I just wanted to hold her in my arms and soothe her frayed nerves.

Alas. We were already there. The parking meter wouldn’t work and James was parking his car on another street and my moby wrap touched the dirty sidewalk as I clumsily wrapped myself in it while my baby continued to believe she was being tortured. I felt like a drippy foolish mess.

I got her in the wrap and hooked her up to my breast. James showed up and found a parking meter that would actually spit out the sticker. Gigi entertained herself in the AT&T store. I got my shiny and sharp gold iPhone. It was dinner time and we decided we might as well eat somewhere nearby. The rain had come before the sun and so the light reflected off of the slick streets, shrinking puddles of sunshine.

We were in a pedestrian-heavy neighborhood of Seattle and everyone around us seemed to be smiling. (The sun will do that to us Pacific-Northwesterners.)

I was not smiling. I clutched Giovanna’s hand, weary of the cars whizzing by, separated from my babies by just a curb. The world can be such a scary place when you have so many fingers and toes to lose. This was one of my first outings as a mother of two and I thought it to be pretty damn intimidating.

What if someone coughed on my baby? What if Giovanna caught salmonella from the sushi? (Not that she was eating the raw pieces.) What if she broke free and ran into the street? What if a car ran up onto the sidewalk? What if someone hit us on the way home? What if my baby cried again? Would there be sweat marks in the car seat? Would her brain be irrevocably damaged from the neglect? Did it count as neglect?

Why was I so stressed out? I felt jealous of everyone on the street who seemed relaxed, I felt jealous of my former childless self. So carefree and unencumbered. Never again will I be so free.

And this is what I love most about my life: my family. my children. So why can’t I take refuge in my blessings and relax into them?

A crux of parenting: either I’m not with my kids and I’m worrying about them, or I’m with them and able to focus on little else. Either way, they’re in the forefront of my mind. Unless they’re sleeping. Right now Skyla is snoozing and I can see her on the video monitor. Giovanna and Emile are with James in the hammock and though I can see them through my window, I don’t have to watch them.

Gigi has a baby doll and Emile is wearing sunglasses and I’m still worried that someone is going to fall out of the hammock and get hurt. But because they’re with their daddy, I know he will catch them.

I daresay I am semi-relaxed. I love this feeling. Like I’m dipping my toes in the ocean. I want to be here more often.

I don’t want to live my life in a state of anxiety. It’s exhausting and draining and soul-sucking. I want more trust and less fear. I want to enjoy things like a sushi dinner on a pretty Friday evening, the sunset tinging the edges of the sky orange. Not the orange that means CAUTION but the orange that means FUN.

How do parents learn to let go of their worries? Is it possible? I know there are many mothers out there who struggle with this. I feel them. We are desperate to protect our babies from hardship, disease, injury and heartbreak even while knowing that our control is not powerful but powerfully limited.

All we can do is pray. And worry.

What I don’t know is how many mothers out there have managed to siphon the stress away, channeling this nervous energy into something useful. Maybe even beautiful.

I would like to channel it into my stories, the fiction I write while everyone else is sleeping. My previous post here was part of a blog hop in which a group of writers made fun of our own paranoia by writing a story together through the eyes of an extremely anxious person. We had a grand ole time and we found some new friends in one another.

I’m tired. I want to relax. I want parenting to be lighter. Maybe it’s not meant to be light, but surely I can learn to manage the stress when it starts to impede on my mental health and therefore my disposition.

I am going to practice. Perhaps the more I focus on relaxing, the more relaxed I will become. Perhaps the more I find my happy place, drinking herbal teas and getting massages and reading books, the better acquainted I will become with that happy place and the easier it will be to find when I need it.

I want to focus on being rather than doing. (Which includes thinking.)

I want to enjoy this fleeting and fragile time in my life with greater ferocity.

I want to embody love rather than fear.

I just want to stress less. About everything, from the rampant messes to the safety of the playground (see picture below) to the circulating illnesses to the state of their hearts.

Say it with me: don’t worry, be happy.

IMG_5219
IMG_4224

Loving the Challenges

IMG_4224

After Giovanna was born I felt complete and content, ripe with milk and oxytocin, brimming with bliss and love. I don’t remember much about her infancy but I remember these feelings.

I’m back here. Skyla has brought me right up to this heaven-scented cloud.

Meanwhile Giovanna takes me to the edge of it. Every day. Again and again. We are so high and life feels so perfect and then BAM out of nowhere we’re hanging onto the edge and one another so that we don’t fall into the great abyss.

Literally. Some of the more intense feuds end in Gigi and I clutching one another, embracing in an attempt to both apologize and feel better about the rocks upon which we’ve found our relationship.

I posted this picture to Instagram with the following caption, written in the heat of an ugly moment after Gigi had announced she was going bye-bye.

photo-117

This is not a simple mother-daughter picture. What you can’t see is the 30 day old baby nursing at my breast. What you can’t see are the struggles and the tensions, the screams and the tears, the words and the kicks. She hates me and she wants me and she loves me and she hits me. When I meditate on it I know that she’s angry with me for having another baby. I also know that some day she will be deeply grateful for her sister if she’s not already. We will get through it and we will all be better and richer for it.

So that pretty much sums it up.

Everyone says it’s natural, it’s normal, this too shall pass. A sweet friend reminded me that Gigi knows she is loved so she feels safe expressing her emotions–which is better than keeping her frustrations inside. My lovely neighbor said something similar: her reaction right now only proves that she has been cared for and felt special.

This is all true and I am eternally grateful for these beautiful children my body has miraculously produced.

As much as I struggle in the heat of the moment, I do appreciate these challenges because they are opportunities to practice patience and grace. It’s like building a muscle. You must challenge the muscle to its breaking point, creating tiny tears that signal the muscle to repair, eventually becoming a better version of its former self. You’ve got to rip everything apart in order to get stronger.

Parenting is about taking the bad with the good. The sleepless nights (and days) along with the long naps. The cries and the kisses, the tantrums and the snuggles, the rejection and the unconditional love.

She’s testing me. I will pass. I pray that it’s with flying colors.

Chocolate, Pecan & Walnut Cookies with Sea Salt & Coconut Sugar

I wanted to believe that my pregnancy-induced sweet tooth would exit along with my sweet baby.

Alas, this did not happen.

I love nursing my daughter. I love the connection and the coziness and the fact that I can make perfect food for my little sweetheart.

But nursing makes me hungry, more hungry than pregnancy. Nursing makes me think about nuts and chocolate and butter all the time.

So when chocolate chip cookies with pecans and sea salt showed up on my Instagram feed, I took to the Lovely Lanvin blog for her recipe. (She had me at pecans, she sealed the deal with sea salt.)

When it comes to baking, I rarely follow a recipe. It’s just too fun to color outside the lines. Also, if I’m going to bake and I’m going to indulge, I do what I can to improve nutrition while not compromising taste.

These cookies were everything I’d hoped they would be.

I swapped out half the butter for coconut oil, halved the sugar and used coconut sugar instead of the white/brown blend (coconut sugar contains some important nutrients and doesn’t cause the same blood sugar fluctuations as other sugars). And I added more nuts, including walnuts, because why not?

Next time I’m going to try oats and ground flaxseed instead of whole wheat flour.

I bake one sheet at a time and freeze the rest of the dough for later at a half-hearted attempt at portion control. I’ve already gotten two dozen cookies out of this recipe and I still have more dough.

As cookies go, these were very easy (especially with a stand mixer) and very well received by the family.

Peace, love and chocolate, I say. Especially when you’ve got a baby to fatten up.

Chocolate, Pecan & Walnut Cookies with Sea Salt & Coconut Sugar

Chocolate, Pecan & Walnut Cookies  (adapted from Lovely Lanvin)

1/2 cup unsalted room temperature butter
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 cup coconut palm sugar
2 extra large organic eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup pecans
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 1/2 cups chocolate chips (semi sweet or dark)

In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and oil until smooth. Gradually add the sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl frequently to make sure the butter and sugars are mixed well. Add the eggs one at a time until incorporated, then add the vanilla. Mix together the flour, salt, and baking soda in a separate mixing bowl with a whisk. Slowly add the flour mixture into the egg and sugar mixture, making sure everything is mixed well. Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts, making sure the chocolate and nuts are evenly mixed throughout the dough. Using a small ice cream scoop, scoop onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for about 9 – 10 minutes.

photo 1

My Liberated Lines

A few weeks ago I mentioned my participation in Liberated Lines Love, the Instagram-based four week writing course offering daily prompts that helped me to free my words and express the love that moves my heart and animates my spirit.

Today I will share the fruits of those four weeks, bits of cavernous emotion frozen into the compendium of my Instagram feed, because they mean something significant to me and because I want another record of #liberatedlineslove. If I ever get around to it I will turn these photos and their captions into a memory book. Something for the shelves.

I am desperate to remember this time in my life, February 3-28, 2014. Not only the last 20 days of my pregnancy with Skyla and the first five days of her life, but the act of liberating my lines. Softening, opening and allowing as life changed so quickly that I could see it happening. Like the time lapse of a flower blooming.

I’m trying to hold onto time though it won’t last. Like drinking water from your hands. Though you can’t see the cracks, water slips through them faster than you can drink. No matter how tightly I grip time, time escapes me. I cannot hold onto time, I can only let it go.

Writing in the throes of transformation, writing to understand and learn from and celebrate the unfamiliar, this keeps me grounded. But I lose sight of my way when I spend too much time looking back over my shoulder, clinging to memories, closing my fist around time only to find my hands are empty and they will always stay that way. When we leave, we will bring nothing with us.

So I am not going to re-read every post I wrote, I am not going to edit. I copied and I pasted and in a moment I will hit publish. I will let time carry me far away and in that far away place I will build upon this foundation. The best is yet to come.

Below you will find all of my Instagram photos I tagged with #liberatedlineslove and their associated captions directly below.

I hope you enjoy reading these little love letters as much as I enjoyed writing them.

Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 12.05.37 PM

We do not have perfection we have one another. Peace comes and goes like new souls through my body. Emotions take us inward, dreams take us forward. Hold me by the hand and I’ll hold you by the other hand and we will draw one another outward. Towards expression of truth and the freedom of expansion. We can fly, buttressed by love. I believe that. #liberatedlineslove #bump #love #believe#amwriting (This is a #latergram from my maternity shoot–I got the photos last night so I’m still high on them and wanting to share, hope it’s okay to break the rules on the first day of the course!)

Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 12.05.54 PM

My sister made this cowl with her own two hands. She knit this cowl like I knit the bones of my daughter. Flesh and blood and yarn. The embrace of the womb like the warmth of the wool. Protected from the elements and bound by love. #liberatedlineslove #pregnancy #sisters

photo 2

This little lady. When she says “mommy” my world rearranges. #liberatedlineslove #pingandswell

IMG_3438

I woke to an alien glow on the other side of the curtain. It was Her. And She peeked into my dining room as they sat eating oatmeal. Stillness. I savored it, and I took a picture to save Her reflection for later.#liberatedlineslove #sunshine

At-home birthing tub

The space where I plan to birth my daughter, where she will emerge from deep within me, towards the light of the sun. An ordinary room waiting patiently for the extraordinary, humbled by natural wonders.#liberatedlineslove #homebirth #waterbirth#pregnancy #crunchymama

IMG_3464

I waited and searched and prayed for the fun today, entertaining slivers of doubt that I’d ever find fun again. Until I saw this tiny lady tromping around the house in plastic high heels and a cocktail dress from my college days. This must be the new brand of fun.#liberatedlineslove #fun

IMG_3482

I have not seen my child’s face and yet I know it. I have not held her in my arms but I have held her in my womb. The weight of her body fills me with longing and purpose. For I am a vessel. She is here, a feather floating in our midst, resting so quietly that we have moments of forgetting. My baby and I, we coexist peacefully, easily, one breath and two bodies. No empty spaces between us. We whisper secrets without making a sound. We will spend years pushing and pulling and sustaining one another. But for now this is a gestating love. #liberatedlineslove#pregnantlife #pregnancy #38weeks #motherhood#mamalove (photo credit: 7 year old Emile)

IMG_3503

I let go. Muscle by muscle, bone by bone. Responsibility slid from my shoulders while steam ascended from the effervescence. Quiet cravings. I looked down at my swollen belly, I looked up out the window, and though I’d found stillness I wasn’t alone. #liberatedlineslove #pacificnorthwest #north #metime #spa #selflove #pregnancy #meditation

IMG_3523

Water + sky. City + snow. Crepes + tea. Sunday + morning. Tired + happy. It all adds up to love. #liberatedlineslove #snow #seattle #bellevue

IMG_3532

The snow melts. A steady drip in the background of our stay-home day, the change that never stops ticking. We have nothing to do but we find a lot to do. We tickle and we play hide and go seek and we read books. We break rules and we make messes and we scold and we clean. We chase and we cry and we think about nothing but today and one another. We want nothing but today and one another. #liberatedlineslove #family #home

Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 12.39.13 PM

There was a girl. Free as a bird. The abundance of the earth ran through her veins. She traveled and lived and worked in exotic places. Her worldly possessions fit into a backpack. On this particular night she mixed drinks in styrofoam bowls. She balanced the bowl on her head and posed against the backdrop of a brilliant Thai beach alongside her cousin and roommate and best friend. She got high on the sunset, intoxicated by the drink, hypnotized by the scalloped sea. The girl is me and not me. The me before marriage and motherhood and responsibility. I will never be her again and yet she exists as a layer of who I am today, a woman with a heart divided, a woman with more than 10 fingers to lose. A woman who does not drink more than one nor kiss strangers nor ride without a helmet. I miss her though. I loved her life and its infinite possibility. #liberatedlineslove #thailand #travel

Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 12.38.40 PM

I made a memory box once upon a time. I filled it with relics of my earliest years, reminders of my purpose, my child self intuiting the nuances of my future needs. The paper journal I sealed with a metal lock. Poems about the inside of me and the color purple. The proclamation that I would grow up to write books. The long-winded handwritten notes to and from my best friend. The twists and turns since then have both held back my hair and left it tangled. The wind carried me away and I carried me home. Back to my journals and books and the written word. Where passion nourishes as it consumes. Like falling in love every day. #liberatedlineslove #amwriting #childhood #writerslife

photo-113

This is a story of fear. In my heart, fear is sitting very close to love. Fear does not waken me at night, but when I awaken, fear keeps me here. Alone, hungry. The time has come to unwrap the fear. Name the fear. Hold the fear. Listen to the fear, to the beat and the center and the source of it. It is a fear of the pop. My bag of waters breaking. Fear of the tightening. My uterus contracting. Fear of the pain. My body squeezing. Fear of the space. The bones of my pelvis widening. Fear of the power. The life force siphoned into my core, the force of a life coming through me. (To read the rest please visit my blog, link in profile.) #liberatedlineslove #love #fear #childbirth #naturalbirth #homebirth #motherhood

photo 2-5

These evenings at my desk feed the hungry parts of my mind. I become free from external demands, free from monotony, free to get lyrical with letters. Whether I write one paragraph or one thousand words, I get somewhere. I feel something. Soon I will have a babe in arms and everything will change as it always does. And though I will miss my quiet evenings, I will savor the transience of motherhood. My stories will wait while babyhood waits for no one. Here’s to the ebb and flow, the flame that flickers and grows, the expansion of existence. #liberatedlineslove #amwriting #pregnancy #pregnantlife

photo 3

Is it cold and dreary or light and happy? Are we tired or are we awake? Are we lazy or are we relaxing? Are we surviving or are we thriving? The answers may be irrelevant so long as we open our arms to the sky and drink the wild air. #liberatedlineslove #duality #seattle #pacificnorthwest

photo 2

This little girl is her mama’s first baby and as she anticipates mama’s second baby (and daddy’s third baby), she is missing her own babyhood. She begged me to strap her into the infant seat. She wants to nurse again. She wants to be carried. She wants to be a big girl but she also wants to be a baby. I want her to know there’s no one like her, no one who can take her place, no one who can pull us apart. I want her to know she will forever be my baby. #liberatedlineslove #duality

photo 4

Open up, let it out. Beauty starts in the center, flowing outwardly, sliding down your petals, landing on fingertips and the edge of my heart, coloring dreams outside the lines. #liberatedlineslove

photo 5

Good night blue sky with your swaths of gauzy white and burning ball of energy. You make me want to be great like you. #liberatedlineslove

photo 3-2

Bits of color on this gray-soaked day. My interior self reflected in the flat sky and bare trees outside my window, every moment and every branch saturated with an aura of anticipation. #liberatedlineslove #pregnantlife #pregnancy #39weeks #spring

Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 12.39.37 PM

Motherhood is belonging so completely to another person that you don’t mind their helplessness, their neediness, their naïveté. You ache to be a servant to them. Helping, caring, teaching, holding. Whether or not the child came through your body or to you through other means, it is this giving of self that makes a mother. Every day I dream of being a better one. More selfless, patient and kind. I know my second daughter will change me, perhaps as much as my daughter and my stepson did before her. I can’t wait. But I will have to. #liberatedlineslove #pregnantlife #pregnancy #39weeks #maternity photo credit @hellojessicaho

photo 1

There’s no better way to spend an afternoon than spinning conversations around dreams; falling in lust with the future and in love with possibility; pointing our hearts in the right direction and praying our minds and our feet will follow, up and over the hills, down and through the valleys. Flanked by patience and perseverance, supported by the ones who love us, our built-in fans. Sometimes we forget how to dream, a loss of faith that numbs the soul and tangles provenance, a loss the entire universe must bear. For there is no one else with the same gifts to bestow upon humanity, no one who can dream your dreams for you. As for me. The beauty I love is writing and mothering and healing. I dream of publishing my novels, stories that engage the intellect and spark greater awareness. I dream of healing with tea, herbal tonics to enhance the human experience. I dream of raising happy children; and tonight I dream of holding in my arms the one inside of me. #liberatedlineslove #dream #pregnantlife #pregnancy #motherhood #writerslife #amwriting #fiction #truth #herbs #tea

IMG_3765

I have no shortage of desires, no absence of dreams, no limits to stand behind. Sometimes I wonder if I want too much. And yet all of it blurs into the background when she needs me. She comes first. She holds my heart. My dreams, perhaps they exist only in the context of my love. #liberatedlineslove #dream #family #love #motherhood

IMG_3786

No better way to spend my due date than reveling in my beautiful soul sister and her brand new baby boy. This is what bliss looks like. This is where I’m headed. #liberatedlineslove #pregnantlife #pregnancy #40weeks #baby #newborn #love #friendship @christianaspeed

IMG_3821

My new mug says to live in the moment and make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering. Currently I am sipping on herbal tea I mixed myself for expecting mothers like myself. Red raspberry leaf and nettles and peppermint among others, herbs filling each cell with Mother Nature’s balancing life force. I am riding wave after wave of practice contractions, not true labor but rather a tightening of my center, a gripping in my body, a sign of what’s to come. A babe in my eager arms. And though my body does not let me forget she is coming soon, I cannot know how soon. But I can make the wait into something beautiful, something worth remembering, these last moments before my world changes forever. #liberatedlineslove #pregnantlife #pregnancy #40weeks #amreading #herbs #herbaltea #tea

IMG_3889

She looks just like her big sister here. Life is a series of miracles with love as the source. I am wading through the thick of it. #liberatedlineslove #newborn #baby #love

photo 4

Day 3 of bliss. This tiny lady lived inside of my skin. I’m not sure we can comprehend the miracle that keeps our planet spinning on its axis, the intelligence that weaves love into life. #liberatedlineslove #baby #love #newborn #motherhood

photo 1

New mother veteran mother postpartum haze. Dark circles pale lips old clothes. Failed naps tiny cries sleepy smiles. Sore nipples cramping uterus more blood. Jealous sister proud sister proud father. Up all night awake all day still going. Shocked awed blissed out. Beautiful baby gorgeous baby pretty baby. Unreal too real perfectly real. Kiss kiss kiss snuggle worry. Eat in bed write in bed read in bed. Gray sunshine rain. Pray comfort nurse. Overwhelmed by sweetness by harmonious exhaustion. Heaven on earth heaven sent blessed. Love that passes understanding. #liberatedlineslove #love #motherhood #newborn #baby

photo 2

My life revolves around this signal, this wide open mouth, this quiet quest for nourishment. A reflex honed by years of evolution into something we consider normal, something we don’t stop to ponder or question because the answer comes to us upon an instinct. Extraordinary intelligence deemed ordinary. #liberatedlineslove #baby #newborn #motherhood #ordinary #love #breastfeeding #nursing

IMG_3967

Reflections on water, shadows on glass. Streaks of light, patches of snow. Naked branches, blur of trees. Yellow bleeding into gray into blue. Earth interrupted by steel and concrete. Sharp edges of rock meeting sky. This is where I am. This is what I see. The same landscape punctuated by different colors every day, every moment. An ordinary sight made extraordinary just by noticing. #liberatedlineslove #ordinary #seattle #bellevue #pacificnorthwest #nofilter

IMG_3991

It all comes down to this: they teach me how to love myself. In their innate perfection, I can see reflections of my own. For I am also someone’s beloved daughter and I, too, started out this way. Tiny and pure, round cheeked and curious, the world offering itself at my feet. Maybe I walked away from it, maybe I ran in circles, maybe I stopped hearing the whispers from my heart. But no matter where I’ve been or where I go, I will always return to my roots, the place where possibility reveals itself as infinite. Where my authentic, perfect self resides. The girl who loves thick books and writing words, old trees and the sky on a sunny day. #liberatedlineslove #daughters #sisters #motherhood #love #selflove

photo 4

The Love-In

photo 4Often when I hold Skyla in my arms, I look at her and murmur to myself, “oh my God.”

And I really am talking to God when these words come out of me, marveling at God and with God as my daughter’s beauty strikes me speechless and thoughtless, capable only of perceiving oceans of love for this tiny pillar of light sent from the heavens.

She’s so small and sweet and by the miracle of the universe, the grace of God, the magic of life, she came to the earth through the warmth of my body to join our family. We have been entrusted with her care, and in exchange, she blesses us with her love.

Blessed. Blessings. Bliss.

I remember the morning I discovered my pregnancy, how the early summer light filtered into the bathroom and Giovanna ran barefoot in the backyard. I ate a fried egg and avocado with salt and pepper for the first meal of my pregnancy, and then again 10 minutes later for the second. I read about prenatal nutrition while Giovanna splashed in the plastic pool. We went to the health food co-op and I bought expensive vitamins and organic groceries.

I remember the evening of that day, when James came home and saw my prenatal vitamins on the counter. He didn’t miss a beat.

“Are you pregnant?”

I was pregnant for 40 weeks and 3 days and now I have this perfect little person to show for it. She’s often attached to my breast or snoozing in my arms or sleeping in her hammock or strapped to my chest or being kissed by someone who loves her. She smiles and giggles in her sleep, she throws her arms out frequently when she’s not swaddled, she searches her surroundings in silent wonderment. When she awakens and I am not immediately present to scoop her up, she calls to me in warning before she starts to cry. James says I could recognize her call from the call of a thousand other babies. He’s right. He gets a kick out of Skyla’s affinity for me, her reactions to my voice and the unparalleled calm she finds in my arms. He respects the mommy-baby bond. He works long and hard so I can stay home with our little girls. I am grateful.

photo 3

The days pass in flashes. Some moments are about surviving, others are about savoring. James’ paternity leave will be over soon. He called these past few weeks a love-in. I don’t want them to end. I don’t want to go anywhere or do anything but take care of my babies and read books and steal little moments to express the words trapped in my mind, planted by my muses. Memoirs for this blog, messages for my loved ones, chapters of my novel.

Life makes so much more sense when you discover what really makes you happy and you focus your energy upon it. When you whittle your attention down to the tippy top of your priorities, the simplicity of being. The squeak of your newborn. The kiss of your child. A good song or book or movie. The contentment of your partner. A visit or phone call or email from a loved one. A homemade pot of soup. A cup of tea. A spot of sunshine. An afternoon nap. A nice comment on your blog. A decent page written. A plot point revealed. A memory recorded. A baby in your arms, drunk with your milk, her face moving in sync with her dreams. The silky underside of her feet in the palm of your hand.

photo 5

The Story Behind Skyla

“Become the sky. Take an axe to the prison wall. Escape.”

- Rumi

photo.PNG

I already had the name Skyla on my list. I knew I loved it. And obviously I have a thing for the sky (hence my blog name). But the task of naming a child does not produce immediate answers, at least not for me.

When I saw this quote on Instagram from heathercooperloves, which was a re-gram from adonnrowley, I took a screenshot. Every time I came back to it, I got tingly.

We don’t have to conform to standards or fit into boxes or worry about the outcome. We are here to do things that make us feel  good. We are here to enjoy the rainbows, bask in the sunshine, bathe in the ocean, gaze at the stars. We are here to cry in the rain and listen to the clouds and cling to one another in the storm.

We don’t have to take this life so seriously. Failure is a myth, the prison walls are made of fear. We can fall and get up as many times as we want. We can fly without crashing. We need not hold back or be afraid or stifle our truest, wildest, happiest dreams.

I hope I can teach my beautiful biracial daughters to live like this.

I want them to push against the boundaries built by modern society. I want them to break through the glass ceilings and make their own joy. I want them to create anything and everything they want. I want them to follow their hearts and believe in themselves, because we are all as big as the sky.

Just as we chose Giovanna because “God is gracious,” we chose Skyla to remember that we are limitless potential, bound by limitless love.

DSC_1284

A Home Birth in Pictures

“Imagine what might happen if women emerged from their labor beds with a renewed sense of the strength and power of their bodies, and of their capacity for ecstasy through giving birth” — Dr. Christiane Northrup

DSC_1273

I’m not sure I fully explained in my birth story how good it felt to be at home, cared for by my midwife and my husband and my doula.

Natural, safe, private.

All of my wishes considered, all of my needs met.

Birthing at home is not for everyone, but it was a beautiful choice for me.

I won’t try to explain why because these photographs, taken by Jessica May Photography in the first moments after Skyla’s birth, provide a window into this tender morning, better than I can describe in words.

Aside from the few posed photos, I had no awareness that Jessica was there with her camera. I was operating in another dimension, completely wrapped up in my new baby.

I suppose I am still here. Life will never be the same. It just keeps getting better.

DSC_1272DSC_1277 DSC_1284 DSC_1287 DSC_1297 DSC_1300 DSC_1302 DSC_1315 DSC_1318 DSC_1321 DSC_1326 DSC_1327 DSC_1332 DSC_1335 DSC_1339 DSC_1343 DSC_1350 DSC_1353 DSC_1356 DSC_1357 DSC_1358 DSC_1359DSC_1365 DSC_1366 DSC_1368 DSC_1370 DSC_1374 DSC_1376 DSC_1377 DSC_1381 DSC_1383 DSC_1389 DSC_1388 DSC_1392 DSC_1396 DSC_1402