a defining moment, a look back

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My summer baby.

I return to writing after an August hiatus. I’ve relished in these final days of summer with both of my daughters. And as September brings new beginnings (my oldest daughter starting kindergarten this past week!!!) and a new season (autumn, my favorite!), I’d like to reflect on the journey that led to life with my youngest daughter.  My summer baby who turned one last month.

At the end of 2014, my husband and I found out we were pregnant again. My excitement and anticipation soon gave way to first trimester exhaustion and a serious case of morning sickness.  My growing little one was a force to be reckoned with right from in utero.

For me, the second time around was not the—you’re glowing!—experience I felt with my first pregnancy. To be honest, it was hard, very hard. I was throughly exhausted, I mean bone tired, those first six weeks. With the exhaustion came a seasick type of nausea. A constant stomach churning sensation that never left me from the moment I woke to the moment I made my way to bed; sleep providing my only relief. This feeling, so physical and inescapable, is enough to steel yourself into bed until it is over, but of course that is not practical or feasible for most.  Our lives must be lived and for me, a daughter to parent. I soldiered on knowing the baby I was growing was indeed thriving because of it all.

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A trip to Italy with my husband during the spring of 2015 in my second trimester.

Just as they tell you in all the pregnancy books, I woke up one morning right around the twelve week mark free and clear of nausea and exhaustion.  The second trimester was treating me well and my husband, oldest daughter and I enjoyed life together as a family of three; traveling and excitedly preparing our house for our newest addition.

Third trimester brought more discomfort as it does for many. I had back pain and even back spasms from my baby pressing down on my hips and sciatic nerve. It was the height of summer and I was hot—All. The. Time. My daughter was growing and my belly was growing out-and-out by the week so I was never comfortable in one position for long.  If you have been pregnant or had a partner who has been pregnant, none of this is news to you.

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On beach holiday just about a month before I went into labor. Smiling but hot and uncomfortable.

By August 2015, I had enough.  Maybe it is my age (nearing forty) or maybe it was just the timing of it all but I just wasn’t loving this whole pregnancy, maker-of-life-thing. That said, I have no regrets. Growing a child, makes you realize how resilient and awesome (in the truest sense of the word) your body can be.

And then came the real test of resiliency and awesomeness; the birth. Nearing the end of summer, my body was ready for my daughter to enter this world. Contractions came on rather quickly the day I gave birth to her. Arrangements had been made beforehand and my oldest daughter was happily in the company of my neighbor who watched over her until my mother arrived (what would I do without them!). My husband raced home from work and when we reached the hospital, we were only three hours away from meeting our newest addition.

Giving birth was in no way easier for me this time around and at times, a lot harder. I could have done it on my own (would I have had a choice?) but I am so, so grateful I didn’t have to. I had a dream team giving me the will to birth my child. The midwife and nurse were right there with me—encouraging me to continue, cheering me on when progress was made, holding my hand and dabbing the sweat from my forehead. My biggest cheerleader, my husband, never left my side. Never did he let go of my hand. I kept my eyes closed for most of the final stages of birthing (it helped me work through the pain) and every time I did open my eyes he was there–all in with me, present. I will never forget those most intimate moments with him and how he never wavered.  And then, our little girl was there, sticky, sweet and in my arms. It was the most remarkable feeling of relief and jubilation all at once.

My newest daughter was finally here. All the not-so-nice bits of pregnancy slowly faded from memory and the life-with-a-newborn exhaustion began but that is another story for another time.  Just like my first she arrived to us in all her unique perfection.

At each summer’s end, I will look back on the day she was born. The day where I let go of all my anxieties and worries and labored. The day where neighbors, my mother, my midwife and nurses, and my husband,  provided the support and help I needed so all my energies could focus solely on my mind, body and baby. This birth was the single most physical and mentally difficult moment of my life. A defining moment where I truly amazed myself and received a gift of a lifetime.

 

 

love of object

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Taking home a new feathered friend purchased this past spring at a flea market

“Caring too much for objects can destroy you. Only—if you care for a thing enough, it takes on a life of its own, doesn’t it? And isn’t the whole point of things—beautiful things—that they connect you to some larger beauty? Those first images that crack your heart wide open and you spend the rest of your life chasing, or trying to recapture, in one way or another”  -James “Hobie” Hobart, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Anyone who knows me and by extension my family, knows our love of object. Our house is full of stuff. Artwork, furniture, knick knacks, bric-a-brac filling walls, crowding surfaces.

I like collecting things. My husband likes collecting things. My oldest daughter likes collecting things and I’m sure this desire will soon be apparent in my youngest daughter. Frequenting flea markets and antiques shops has long been a pass time in our household. Found objects on hikes have recently taken a front seat to our collection.

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An entire shelf is dedicated to these lovely sculptures. On rainy days my husband and oldest daughter sculpt silly and curious creatures out of colorful clay.

We collect but we don’t stow it away. We find one last corner on the side table to proudly display our latest find. We add another piece above the last treasure on the wall, salon-style, so that when we turn the corner to go up the stairs we can see it and enjoy it if only in the fleeting moment it takes us to go from one step to the other.

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Not a square inch of space is spared on our walls even in the corners of rooms.

My husband and I will occasionally fawn over a minimalist mid-century modern interior in some fancy design magazine. We flirt with the idea of paring down our collection but then we hit the road in search of some antique shop we haven’t frequented in a while and find one more thing to add to our home.

A cleared surface may bring order but I think living with objects around you provokes inspiration far better than an empty space. I happily look in on my daughters’ room and see walls covered, bookshelves crammed. There are never enough books to own or knick knacks to look at—I’d like to think my daughters are inspired to create, play, and imagine amongst it all.

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My youngest daughter intrigued by the many things adorning her sister’s bedroom wall.

My family and I are like magpies—always on the hunt for the next shiny object to add to our collection. Our home will never be minimalist, never sparse, never empty.

I live with a lot of stuff and I won’t soon relinquish my desire to keep it, display it, love it. There is great beauty in this world and I’d like to think my love of object puts that beauty within my grasp.