18 August 2016

sweet challenges and joys

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i’ve concluded that nothing can prepare you for the intensity of becoming a parent, or the wild adventure of mothering a newborn.

since i was practically a baby myself, i’ve learned about babies. as a child and then onwards throughout all the years of my life, i have been around a lot of tiny humans, and have heard a whole lot about the joys and challenges of new parenting – all the dreamy details and all the gory details.
yet, i’ve realized that no impassioned description of profound parental love, or detailed explanation of postpartum toil, or lengthy narration of inconsolable crying and uber-sweet newborn cuddles could allow me to truly understand the depth of this joy and challenge. it’s just one of those things that you can’t comprehend until you experience it.

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the past forty days with moses have been so very sweet, and also pretty grueling, and all around just really incredible. there’s been a bit of worrying and so much adoring, some persistent pain and soreness and concern and discomfort, swells of fierce tenderness and warmth, bouts of hormonal tired tears, a lot of different bodily fluids to deal with, some trepidation and an abundance of learning, hearts filled with wonder and love, and, of course, many nearly sleepless nights.

my body and mind have ached so acutely when i have woken (again and again!) in the wee hours. but then, as i look at moses, the sweet, sweet joy in my heart – a peculiar and novel and spectacular brand – truly melts all ache away. after he has eaten and at last drifted back to sleep, i lay in the darkness and listen to the breathing of both my true love and my tiny son, and i am thrilled with gratitude (to borrow a phrase a blog reader used in a comment!).

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these days are so intense and so, so special. and i am extremely happy in a whole new way.

a couple of weeks ago, our friend kami came to our flat in the morning before ian left for work and took some photographs of our little family of three. i’m so glad we were able to capture a little bit of the sweetness of being at home with little baby moses. he’s already grown so much since these pictures were taken!

click through to see all our favourites that kami snapped. it was so hard to narrow them all down!

15 August 2016

at the hospital with our brand new baby boy

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i wanted to share a few more photographs from the time we spent as a brand new family of three at st. thomas’s hospital after moses was born. we ended up staying at the hospital for two nights. i was really itching to go home, and there were some aspects of our stay that were quite uncomfortable, but when i look back at those 48 hours i am filled with sweetness. it was such a tender and beautiful slice of time.

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before i share, though, i’d like to respond a little to the comments left on my last post detailing moses’s birth story. i really appreciate all the well wishes and support expressed and am so glad that many readers shared tidbits of their own experiences with childbirth and varied perspectives and opinions stemming from those experiences. i am grateful to understand how my storytelling was interpreted differently by different readers and i truly value the opportunity certain comments have given me to examine my fallacies and broaden my perspective.

i think it’s important that i clarify that while i do believe that cesarean sections are largely over-utilized, and while i had a strong personal preference to avoid one if at all possible, i do not think and would never assert that they are "horrible," (as was stated in some comments). actually, i think that c-sections are really amazing and awesome, and i am so, so glad that they exist for those rare times when vaginal birth is dangerous or impossible. although i recognize the varied benefits of natural childbirth, i definitely do not presume that delivery via c-section is any "less than" vaginal delivery, or that any mother or baby that experiences this incredible surgery (whether by choice or necessity) should be regarded with any less awe, respect or pride. a careful reading of my published birth story will reveal that i never asserted any such opinion.

however, i can see how my story could be interpreted in a way that could lead to such a conclusion, especially by a reader that has experienced a c-section. i should have been more careful in my wording and tone, even through a frazzled, sleep-deprived, hormonal postpartum brain. i sincerely apologize for any offense that was caused. i have edited my original post a little (as much as time has allowed, since moses is pretty needy towards this mama these days :) ).

i also want to make it clear that my overarching fervent desire throughout the childbirth process was to be able to use what i learned and practiced during pregnancy to stay calm during labor and delivery and create an atmosphere of love and tenderness for our son to be born into. it was that hope that i refer to when i say that my prayers were answered and promised blessings were fulfilled – and i consider the miracle of our story to be that i was able to remain at peace in such a stressful situation, and that my cervix responded by opening quickly. my strong feeling that our son was not intended to/didn't need to be born via c-section does not mean that i am any more blessed or privileged than any other birthing mother, and i do not feel that i had any divine promise that moses would be born vaginally. i could have had a similar impression that he was intended to be delivered via c-section, and i would have felt, in that case, just as zealous about advocating towards that outcome. i am certain i would be grateful and in awe no matter how moses was born (but in any circumstance i wouldn’t discount the challenges that accompany interventions and complications).

there's a lot more i could say in response to the response of my birth story, but i'll leave it at that :)

back to photos from the hospital! i was hesitant to post some of these because some are not very flattering pictures of me. but you know what? this is what i looked like after i gave birth. and although i don’t look glamorous, i do look really happy, because i really was – happy in a whole new, spectacular, incredible way. during our hospital stay, ian and i both were delirious with this novel joy and so full of love for god, each other, and our tiny son.

^^ this is how things looks during routine checks of my temperature and blood pressure – it seemed like these were constantly happening and some points! ^^
^^ i am so, so grateful my mom was there with us. there is something so special for me about having my mom with me as i became a mom myself. ^^
^^ with our doula, mars, and the midwife who attended our son’s birth, eirini. we all shared a conviction that heaven was involved in the process. ^^
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^^ sorry if this picture makes you queazy. i just think the placenta and the umbilical cord are so so amazing! my body built an entire organ to sustain a growing human life inside of me. wow. // moses weighed 3.18kg at birth. we had to google a conversion to pounds! – 3.18kg is just about 7 pounds even. he was 52cm or 20.5 inches long. ^^
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^^ a few hours after moses was born, we were moved to a bed in the postnatal ward. the space was cramped but the views were incredible! ^^
^^ my mom snapped this photo of us on day two. all three exhausted. ^^
^^ so incredibly happy to be a mom. ^^
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^^ delighting at being a dad. ^^
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^^ it was so fun to tell people that moses is my mom’s twenty eighth grandchild. she’s the best grammie ever. ^^
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^^ moses’s first smiles! ^^
^^ in the discharge room, about to go home! ^^
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^^ baby boy was required to be in a carseat for the taxi ride home. we were giggling so hard at how tiny he was in this gigantic-looking seat we borrowed from some friends. ^^IMG_3634
^^ our tiny boy arrives at his tiny central london home! ^^

we are so grateful for our moses. he is teaching us so much.

4 August 2016

moses thames: a birth story


our tiny son is three and a half weeks old. mothering a newborn is quite a bizarre time warp - time rushes and time drags, and time is so so sweet, and time is so so grueling. the past twenty six days have been more wonderful and more difficult than i possibly could have imagined (even though i very much expected a lot of happiness and a lot of challenges). i am sore and exhausted and sweaty and uncomfortable and haggard. but i am thrilled by the new height of joy that has been woven into my life, and most of all, i am absolutely in awe - astonished that this little boy is ours and that i can love this much.

the way our moses came into the world was miraculous and amazing and awesome, and also pretty traumatic. the experience was immensely powerful and beautiful - more than i could have ever expected or hoped for - and it was also quite harrowing and a bit heartbreaking. the sentiment of "all that matters is that you have a healthy baby" has been shared with me several times, and frankly, i disagree. of course the thing that matters most, by a gigantic margin, is that we have a healthy baby, but the way he came into the world is not inconsequential - it has affected all three of us in significant ways (both positive and negative). and i believe that it's perfectly okay - right even - to mourn the loss of the kind of birth i came to passionately believe in, that i zealously worked to prepare for, and that i ardently hoped for. both ian and i were so looking forward to birthing together without intervention, believing heartily that keeping things as natural as possible was what was best for our family.

indeed, we knew very clearly what our preferences were for our son's birth. we also knew that one of the most important ways to prepare for labour and delivery was to expect the unexpected and embrace that there was a good chance we wouldn't be able to see all (or any!) of our preferences through. as part of our conversations and preparations leading up my due date, we constantly referenced the need to be flexible, and talked often about how no matter how things played out, we would recognize and celebrate the miracle and the beauty of our son's birth. together, we created a document we called a "birth guide" (as opposed to a "birth plan," knowing that we couldn't really plan on anything), which included, in addition to our "ideal scenario" preferences, some notes on contingency measures should things happen to go differently than we hoped.

within ten minutes of arriving at the hospital on our baby boy's birth day, we had to profoundly petition that flexibility we'd discussed and worked on. we went on to experience some of the very things we were most hoping to avoid (and thought we were dodging by having a baby in england - where, in our experience, the culture around birth is much less interventionist and fear-driven than in the states - and in a hospital birth centre known to be very pro-natural). an hour or so after moses was born, the midwife that attended the birth came to my bedside and said, "so, i've just read your birth plan......sorry!" we all chuckled - because almost none of our preferences were seen through.

but!! just after our little laugh at the irony, we all straightaway agreed that we had experienced a miracle in how moses's entrance into the world unfolded. it was an incredible experience that was right for us. this birth story taught us valuable lessons and bonded us together as a husband and wife, and as parents, in a really beautiful way. and yes, most importantly, the story ends with a healthy baby, a perfect tiny boy straight from heaven who has expanded our hearts beyond what we could have ever planned.

{click through to read moses’s birth story}

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