autumn traditions

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“He is indeed the true enchanter, whose spell operates, not upon the senses, but upon the imagination and the heart.” – Washington Irving, Irving Sketck Book

imag2573.jpgOctober through the end of the year is the arrival of several family traditions in the making. We forage for mushrooms and hike the woods in the crisp air taking in the golden light of Autumn. We paint and carve pumpkins. We make some kind of sweet treat involving apples. We create our own greeting cards for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. We celebrate mine and my husband’s birthdays with homemade fancy meals and store bought ice cream cake. We devise and create Halloween costumes.

This is my most beloved season. Not just for the cooler brisk air and turning of the leaves but for all the creative and festive energy it brings to our home. Today is Halloween. The official start to a good few months of merriment. We’ve been busy making merry and mischief for a couple weeks now and I’m reveling in it.

Here’s a look back at the last few years of Daughters Barrow’s Halloween fun.

 

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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.