Soon I’ll Be a Mother of Two…

As I’m sitting in my office on campus today, I suddenly and overwhelmingly became sad. Like, tears in the corners of my eyes, fast, jittery heart rate sad. Why? Because out of the blue it occurred to me that these are going to be the last few weeks I’ll have in which James is my only baby. Before I can even blink, I’ll be a mother of two.

It was like being hit with a baseball bat. In that random moment it became real. James wouldn’t be my baby anymore. He would be my big boy (who I love more than anything in this world) and I would have to learn to love this new sweet baby with equal fervor without sacrificing anything from him.

It broke my heart.

Guys, James is my baby. My baby.

And yet, at the same time, I’m getting really excited (and nervous and scared) to meet our daughter. It’s this weird paradox where I’m equally heartbroken and joyful about this transition. We are going to have a daughter! Which is incredible! And at the same time, we aren’t going to only have a son anymore, which is making me really weepy.

What is this? Why are these feelings only hitting me now? I’m not a typical pregnant woman. I don’t really nest all that much (unless writing counts as nesting, in which case, I nest a LOT). I don’t particularly enjoy most of being pregnant (except baby kicks and hearing baby heartbeats and things like that). But I am hyper emotional when I’m pregnant (just ask Vince), so why is this only now making my heart ache and wobble?

I think it was the realization that if Firefly (who has a tentative name, but we’re not publicly sharing yet, since James’s name wasn’t officially decided on until he was two days old) came on the same timeline as James, I would have less than a month left with just him. And that feels like no time at all. I also think it’s because she feels so big already, and I’m already finding reasons why having a second baby might impede what I can do with my first baby. I can’t get in the floor and play with him much right now, because of joint, ligament, and back pain. I can’t cuddle him the way I want, because of my gargantuan belly (though he does enjoy sitting in my baddha konasana leg nest). I can’t even let him sleep next to me (which he never really wanted to do until the last few weeks), because without 1,000,000 pillows all around me, my back and hips and shoulders and ribs feel like they’re being pulled apart for the entire next day.

I don’t want to let my baby down by not being only his mommy anymore. I don’t want to lose this special bond I have with him. He is my most favorite person in the whole world. Typing this now, I’m fighting tears, because I don’t even have the words for how special and wonderful and perfect he is, for how his smile makes my heart feel. I feel like I’m betraying him.

And yet, I loved having a brother. I keep reminding myself that I can’t imagine life without my brother, Joey. And that the age difference between James and Firefly won’t be that much bigger than the one between Joey and me. Sure, we fought a lot when we were little, but now he’s one of my best friends, one of my most favorite human beings. I hope that James and his sister will (hopefully) grow into friends who are always there for each other, no matter what.

Guys. So many emotions. Too many emotions. Here’s hoping I can calm myself down a little before Firefly arrives and I have to learn to mother two sweet, perfect babies instead of one.

Photos taken by Shutter and Bloom Photography / Jessica Conley.

Baby Firefly is a Girl! (And other thoughts)

My second pregnancy sure has been different than the first. I was anxious and worried for every step of the way when I was pregnant with James. Every single step. I constantly wanted to get to the next step. When will I show? When will we know the gender? When will he kick? When will he be here? But this time around, things are moving much slower and much faster at the same time.

We found out we were expecting a baby girl when I was 21 weeks along (I’m now 24 weeks). You can find out as early as sixteen weeks (I think we found out at week 17 or 18 with James), but I wasn’t anxious to know this time. More than likely, this is my last pregnancy. Two kids seems like the perfect number for our family. (Disclaimer: If a third baby comes along, we will be overjoyed! But as of now, we’re not planning on it.) And because this is most likely our last pregnancy, I’m in no hurry to hit milestones, because the anticipation can be so lovely and magical on it’s own. We went in for the ultrasound hoping for a healthy baby Firefly, and left with the unbelievable news that not only was baby Firefly healthy and whole and looking great, but also a girl!

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Needless to say, I was over the moon excited about this news! I always said I’d like a boy and a girl (though two boys would have been just as great). But unlike when I found out James was a boy (which I was also over the moon excited about), I waited a day to announce this news. It wasn’t that I was less excited or anything, it was just that I wasn’t so anxious. I could let myself experience the knowledge and bask in it without sharing it right away, which is new for me.

As I’ve said many times, my first pregnancy was an anxious one. Is he OK? What was that feeling? Am I eating too much? Too little? Will he be healthy? Am I healthy? Should I do this? Do that? Do anything? But this pregnancy has been much calmer. Chasing James helps, knowing (sort of) what to expect helps, and knowing that this is probably our last pregnancy helps, because I want to savor everything instead of rushing to the next thing.

Even though it’s been calmer, this pregnancy has also been harder than my first in a lot of ways–more severe nausea, lots of gastrointestinal issues, sciatic pain that won’t quit–and then all of December I was sick–first a cough that became bronchitis, which caused  a torn intercostal muscle, then a sever sinus infection (which meant two rounds of antibiotics back to back, which I hate because they make me so very sick on their own), then a migraine-strength headache that lasted about a week, which was finally followed by a stomach virus (and that cough never went away and still hasn’t that still irritates the torn, slowly healing muscle). I’m heavier than I was with James (because I started out heavier than I was when I got pregnant with James), which has caused me no end of mental anguish. And I feel guilt this time around–guilt that my sweet, perfect, wild son will somehow feel less than once we bring a second baby home.

But this pregnancy has, in other ways, been much easier. I’m not worried all the time. The idea of a natural labor doesn’t terrify me like it did with James (I planned, and had, a medication-free labor with James, but I was absolutely and completely terrified of what it would be like). The fear of bringing home a whole human to care for isn’t scary at all this time around. (I’m proud to say we’ve successfully kept James alive for nearly two years! We deserve a medal or a trophy or a cake or something.) As a couple, Vince and I have both just settled into this pregnancy more calmly and it’s been really nice. Plus, I remember how awesome having a sibling was, and I know that in the long run, we’re giving him a playmate and friend for life, which is such a great feeling.

Part of me misses the excitement, the fear of the unknown, all the firsts we experienced with James, and part of me is enjoying just being along for Firefly’s ride. When I hear her heartbeat, I tear up (every time). When we see her in ultrasounds, and when we found out her gender, I thought my heart would explode with joy. But it’s nice to just experience it this time. It’s nice to look at James and see what two years of love can help grow and know that we have that to look forward to with our sweet Firefly girl.

James will be two in February, and I know that means that before I know it, Firefly will be here. And then she’ll be one and he’ll be three. And then they’ll be in elementary school. And high school. And college. And have their own lives. And in that way, things are moving too fast. James should still be swaddled, not walking and talking and playing and laughing and making his own little jokes and games up as he lives his life. Firefly should still be a tiny pea-sized idea, not a baby big enough to kick me and startle me and make her powerful presence known. Time is moving too quickly. So I’m trying to enjoy the moments, the breaths, the times when James wants to sit in my lap quietly and drink his milk while he watches morning cartoons and the times when baby girl is doing flips all around while I watch James chase Vince around the house and laugh as his daddy plays in the ways only daddy can. I’m trying to freeze these moments so that one day when I’m comforting James after his first break up, or moving Firefly into her first dorm, or helping both of them figure out how to have independent lives, I can remember these snapshots in time and re-experience them no matter how much time has passed.

As I sit and type this, Vince and James are in the other room laughing like wild men and Firefly is gently kicking toward my belly button, and all I can this is how wonderful this time is, how difficult this time can be, and how fortunate I am to experience every single second of it.

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A Recap of 2015: The Year of Jamesy

Every year, I expect magical, amazing, wonderful things to happen, and most years I look back and think, “That was pretty good.” But this past year, magical, amazing, wonderful things DID happen. So, here’s a quick recap of my 2015.

~I started the year with three of my favorite people (and two of my favorite dogs), 31-32 weeks pregnant (though if you ask me, I think I was a little further along).

~On February 22nd, Vince told the baby boy in my belly he was ready for him TWO WHOLE WEEKS EARLY. On February 23rd, after 13 hours of labor and 30 minutes of pushing, we met our sweet James Gordon.

~James  captured the hearts of his Grandman, Jamma, Mammaw, Uncle Joey, and Aunt Tiffy pretty quickly.

~I watched my husband grow into a father, and I fell even more in love with this handsome goofball man.

~I tried my hand at photography, and while I’m not great, I was happy to be able to shoot my friend Casey’s wedding (SO SCARY!), do some headshots for my neighbor and friend Victoria (and her sweet Carson), and take some pregnancy announcement photos for my friend Sarah!

~Over the course of the year, we had lots of family pictures taken! I don’t have them all yet, but thank you to my sister-in-law, Tiffany, my friend, Hannah, my brother, Joey, and my friend, Jessica for all the lovely photos you took of us!

~When James was 7 months old, after months of my mom pushing our doctor (my mom is like a superhero!), we found out James needed a cranial vault remodeling (click HERE to read all about that experience). He’s done SO well since then, but it was so stressful and scary at the time.

~We got to see James and his six cousins with their great grandfather, my Papa Cardona. Four generations! Photos by my cousin Amanda and her husband Jayson (Jayson Mullen Photography).

~But the biggest thing for me this year has been the journey of not only learning who I am now that I’ve had a baby, but becoming a mother in every sense of the word. That’s the most magical, wonderful, amazing thing so far this year, is getting to know this little boy and getting to know myself.

 

This year has been amazing. The best one to date! What about you? Tell me about your 2015!

Pregnancy is Wonderful. Pregnancy is Weird. Pregnancy is Hard.

Before I got pregnant, I thought, “I am going to love every SECOND of being pregnant. No matter what.” And in a certain way that’s true–I wouldn’t trade being pregnant, or choose not to be pregnant, for anything. It’s been my dream for so long, and now that it’s here, I’m ridiculously thankful. I’m thankful to be able to carry this child and deliver him. But have I truly loved every second?

For a while, I was ashamed that my answer to this question was no. I thought that I was a bad mother for feeling physically uncomfortable sometimes, or for feeling sad (not about the pregnancy, but because my hormones went wackadoodle). I thought that if I didn’t tell everyone, “Oh, every moment of this pregnancy is the best thing ever!” that they would judge me and think poorly of me.

And some people have done just that. When I’ve talked about wanting to get fit after the baby, I’ve been told I’m thinking about things completely wrong. When I’ve talked about how I have pain in my sacroiliac joints or my pubic symphysis, or how it can be a little hard to breathe sometimes, or when I’ve cried because it all seems overwhelming, I’ve been told it was wrong to complain and express these things. So now, my physical and emotional discomfort is coupled with feeling guilty for being a bad mother.

But the people with those opinions are few. Far more people have been supportive and have helped me realize that feeling this way doesn’t mean I don’t love my son. Feeling this way and having moments of negativity doesn’t mean I don’t cherish the fact that I’m pregnant with the most perfect baby ever, even when my pubic symphysis is aching and I can’t lift my legs, or getting up off the couch feels like a chore, because my sacroiliac joints are sore and loose. These beautiful, wonderful people in my life have told me things like, “Being pregnant is hard. [You] are growing a human being. It’s like being a super hero. You can be honest about how your body feels, and about how you feel, and still love your child more than anything on the planet.” These people have helped me battle the guilt that the few have introduced to me so that I can look at my pregnancy in a more realistic kind of way, instead of looking at it in a romanticized, fairy tale kind of way (which is my default setting in most things).

Is pregnancy hard? YES.
Is pregnancy wonderful? YES.
Is pregnancy weird? YES.

I went into pregnancy with a very black and white idea, imagining this lovely nine months (which is really ten, by the way, because 40 weeks does not equal nine months no matter who you slice it) full of laughter and smiles and a growing belly that would never feel uncomfortable, that would make me feel beautiful all the time, and instead discovered that reality was less black and white and more rainbow.

Since I’ve been pregnant (I’m 30 weeks), I’ve felt ecstatic, nauseated, joyful, sad, beautiful, ugly, lovely, angry, loved, scared, lucky, anxious, and blessed. I’ve gone through every emotion I can think of and then some. I’ve realized that I’ve lost control of what my body does–when relaxin comes into play, and your ligaments start loosening to prepare for baby, your body is no longer yours to dictate–and that has scared me, even though I expected it to happen. I’ve lost strength in places and gained it in others. I’ve watched my attitude about certain things start to shift (and I know that those attitudes will continue to shift after my baby is here) in ways I never imagined. My body is doing something really incredible, and I’ve witnessed it with wonder and bewilderment.

Primarily I’ve just learned that pregnancy isn’t just one thing. It’s this whole, wonderful, terrifying journey, and to pigeon hole myself into one place and think, “I can only be happy here,” will do nothing but cause more unhappiness on those days when I think, “Can I really do this?” On any journey, on any trek, there will be good days and bad, and to ignore part of that journey would be doing it a disservice. My husband often reminds me that we each have our own story to write. The good days and the bad make it up, and we should be aware of and thankful for all of them, so that’s what I’m trying to do with this first-baby-journey–be present for the good, the bad, and the weird moments of pregnancy.

If you’re thinking of trying to have a baby (whether it’s now or in ten years), this is my advice to you:
First, wait until you and your partner are both all in. If Vince hadn’t been as ready for a baby as I was, the hard days would have been so much harder. He’s been my foundation on days when my emotions have gotten away from me and I’ve felt hopeless, and he’s been there to share in all the wonderful moments where I feel like all is right and perfect with the world, because I feel my sweet boy somersaulting around.
Second, give yourself some grace when you’re trying to conceive. Whether it takes you a day or ten years to get pregnant, don’t beat yourself up. A huge number of people told me it took them a single month, and I read stories about people who tried for years. If you want a baby, every negative test will feel like the end of the world, but remind yourself that your story is yet to be written–there is no right or wrong answer. Just be present and experience each day as it comes.
And third, allow yourself to feel what you feel, to be honest about how you feel, but don’t let the days that those bad feelings come ruin your pregnancy. I have bad days. I also have great days. The emotional pain comes when you allow yourself to think that feeling bad means you’re bad. It doesn’t. It just means you’re human. Be present in all of these things–experience them, learn from them, and grow from them. Experience the full rainbow spectrum of emotion and sensation that pregnancy offers.

Being pregnant is wonderful, it’s weird, and it’s difficult, but even on the really tough days, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the whole wide world.

30 weeks

My 100th Happy Day

A while ago, I decided to take an Instagram photo challenge called #100happydays. In this challenge, I had to post a photo a day for 100 consecutive days that showed something that made me happy. Unlike other 30 day challenges that I flaked on, this one I stuck to.

I took photos of silly things, like coffee, and wonderful things, like my family and pets, but no day will ever compare to the last day of the challenge–my 100th happy day.

It was a Saturday–July 28th, four days after our third anniversary–and I woke up early to get ready, because Vince and I were heading to Louisville to see my parents, my brother, and his girlfriend for Louisville’s Derby City Comic Con. I was so excited! I woke up, checked my phone, and realized that I was a day late for my period. Now, this happens a lot. A day or two usually doesn’t mean anything, but Vince and I had been trying for a baby for six months. I lay in bed a moment and my heart started to race. I had a test in the bathroom. I thought, “I’ll take it, and when it’s negative, I’ll throw it away like all the others and won’t even mention it. I’ll take a shower and today will be a good day.” So, with shaking hands and feet (my body knew how nervous I was even if my brain refused to acknowledge it) I went and took the test.

Two minutes seemed to take two hours. Every test I’d taken so far had left me shaking and in tears, because they were negative. After every one, Vince had held me and told me it would happen in time and that he loved me. This time he was asleep and I was on my own.

My phone beeped. I walked to the sink where the test was. I stared. I stared some more. I looked at the box and at the stick with the funny little lines–the funny little plus sign that, for a few moments, didn’t register as meaning anything to me.

Then my brain caught up and my heart stuttered before it went wild, and I hugged my stomach and smiled and shook. Finally, after I’d calmed down a little, I went to get Vince. He was asleep, so I woke up him and said with a voice that shook, “There’s something in the bathroom you need to see.” I tell Vince he needs to come look at the kitties or Juno a lot, so he thought it was that. He stumbled in, still asleep, and said, “Is it Buddy? What is it?” So I pointed to the counter. I watched a similar state of confusion hit him. And then he understood, and I’ve never seen him smile so big. Together, we laughed and cried a little and realized we’re gonna be parents.

On my 100th happy day, I got the news that I was going to be a mom. And to top it off, we got to go to Louisville and share that news, in person, with my mom, dad, brother, and his girlfriend–my family and four of the most important people in my life.

I didn’t get to post this photo for my #100happydays challenge, because we wanted to wait until we were further along, but I did get to post a photo of my family on that day.

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That day–July 28th–will be a day that lives in my memory as one of my happiest days for a long, long time. Maybe when we meet Baby Frantz, that’ll change, but finding out that I was going to be a mom, and meet the baby I’d been praying for for years, is not a memory that’ll ever fade.

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