29 November 2016

I'm walking Charlotte home from a neighbor's house.  She watched Charlotte while I ran to the dentist really fast.  She snuggled into her pink polka -dot blanket, and I carry her so carefully across the snow and ice.  She is like my little treasure that I'm scurrying home.

I approach our house and it looks so snuggly.  Tucked into the snowy trees.  The mountains blazing white behind it.  I feel so blessed in that moment.  I have a husband, a little babe, and a little yellow home.

Upward and onward,

A Day in the Life with Little Buddy

22 November 2016

Good morning, Charlotte!  Looks like your cute little hands broke free last night, haha!  So cute!  
(But seriously, any time Charlotte moves or doesn't move or changes clothes or poops her diaper, I need a picture of it).

Last night was a great night of quick feedings and back to sleep.  You woke up twice and let mama sleep until 10.  She feels so rested and has until 10:30 to go to the bathroom and do every possible normal morning item before you wake up.  

Once you're awake, you cluster feed and snuggle for a few hours, while mama works with one hand and sings little songs for you.  (I need to take a self-study on baby lullabies because I'm quickly running dry on material). Around 2, you finally doze off for another nap, and mama blazes through some more work before it's time for your pediatrician appointment.

You and mama sit in the pediatrician's office, waiting for him to come do the heel prick - PKU testing.  Mom hates seeing you cry from pain.  Mama can distinguish your needs from your type of cry, but that is a cry that breaks her heart.

The pediatrician says repeatedly what a perfectly healthy baby you are.  Go Charlotte.  You weigh 8 lbs and 15 oz. at this 2 week appointment.  You are already so strong!  Your chiropractor says you're a gymnast in the making!

Afterwards, mama takes you grocery shopping.  This is perhaps the most enjoyable grocery trip she's ever had because you are so precious to look at.  Mama shops slow and just enjoys her time with you.  You sleep the whole time because you have been awake most of the day.

 Mama takes you home and you are ready for dinner.  Mama has to jump in a call with a tax client in California and nurses you while she talks.  You let out tiny little farts the whole time, and mom giggles into her hand.  You curl up into mom after you are full just like a little kitten.  These are some of her favorite moments of the day.  She calls you her kitty cat and basically pets you, while telling you what a special little girl you are.

Then right at the end of the call, you tuck your face underneath mama's arm and throw up.  It's wonderfully-timed.

 Right then, daddy walks through the front door!  He immediately comes to find you and sweeps you into his arms.  Mama catches his face on camera as he picks you up for the first time today.  He loves you so so much!  Mama nearly cries from the sight of you two.

Daddy swaddles you in his jacket.  He carries you around tucked deep inside, bringing you around the bed so mom can peer into his jacket and see your little eyes looking all around.  Mom and dad laugh and laugh.  They laugh because you are just so cute!

We all enjoy some dinner and snuggles.  You doze off again, and dad goes outside to work on the yard, while mama does a little post-natal workout and catches up on your scrapbook. 

Then, Little Buddy, you beat us to bed.  

We love you so much, and no matter what you do, it's the cutest thing in the world.  We can't stop staring at you and taking pictures of you.  Being parents to you is so fun!  We feel so blessed, and this is such a happy time.

Upward and onward,

Book Review | A Return to Love

 A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson

Some parts I loved! And others really did not resonate with me.  Definitely a hit and miss book but still worth it!   Below are my favorite excepts from it.


We're like the spokes of a wheel, all radiating out from the same center.  If you define us according to our position on the rim, we seem separate and distinct from one another.  But if you define us according to our starting point, our source--the center of the wheel--were a shared identity.

The word "sin" means loveless perception.  It is an archery term.  I means "you missed the mark."  So God isn't angry at our sins because they're not really happening.  He doesn't see sins, but only errors in perception.

There are people who have lived on the earth, and perhaps there are people living her now, whose minds have been completely healed by the Holy Spirit.  They have been purified of fearful thoughts and only love remains within their minds.  Enlightened beings don't have anything we don't have.  They have perfect love inside, and so do we.  The difference is that they don't have anything else.  

There's a myth that some people are more faithful than others.  A truer statement is that in some areas, some of us are more surrendered than others.

To place something in the hands of God is to give it over, mentally, to the protection and care of the beneficence of the universe.  To keep it ourselves means to constantly grab and clutch and manipulate. 

When we love, we are automatically placing ourselves within an attitudinal and behavioral context that leads to an unfoldment of events at the hightest level of good for everyone involved.

 Our greatest tool for changing the world is our capacity to change our mind about the world.

Past, present, and future are not continuous unless you force continuity upon them.

That is why so much anger is often aroused in our closest relationships.  We're projecting onto someone else the rage we feel against ourselves for cutting off our own love.

Five minutes spent with Him in the morning (doing serious practice of prayer or mediation) guarantees that He will be in charge of our thought forms throughout the day.

We achieve so little because we have undisciplined minds:  we instinctively go into paranoid or judgmental, fearful reactions instead of loving ones.  Meditation disciplines the mind.  When we meditate, our brains literally emit different brain waves.  We receive information at a deeper level than we do during normal waking consciousness.

Spiritual growth is not about becoming more metaphysically complicated, but rather it is about growing simpler, as these very basic principles begin to permeate more and more deeply into our thought system.

Spiritually powerful people are not necessarily people who do so much, as they are people around whom things get done. 

Chantel & Charlotte Slumber Party

18 November 2016

Charlotte and I had a sleepover last night.

Ryan was so tired yesterday, so we wanted to give him some rest.  So when Charlotte wasn't settling into her rocker in the middle of the night, she and I went to the nursery, and we slept like two little girls on the same twin bed, holding hands for most of the night. In the morning, Charlotte and I just laid side by side and observed each other. Then she had some breakfast. When she was finished and was a little fussy, I patted her back, rocked her, and sang lullabies. When I laid her back on the bed, her eyes followed me as I sang softly next to her. Then I put her on my stomach, and she let out a huge belch. She then nuzzled right into me and went to sleep.

She is so sweet.  Little Miss Charlotte.

Upward and onward,

Part 2: Our Little Buddy is Born!

16 November 2016

Ryan has headed off to mutual for awhile, so I have decided to write some more about Charlotte's birth and the following days. 

So in my last post, I am delivering Charlotte.  I share the intensity, the adrenaline, the power, the pride of myself as the most powerful animal on earth for a couple moments in time.

This post is the softening, the processing, the shifting.

Several hours after Charlotte's birth, my placenta has been delivered, I'm all stitched up, I am hooked to an IV because of my high loss of blood, and I've been given several shots in the thigh because my uterus wasn't hardening to stimulate blood clotting.  (You thought the fun stopped at the birth of the baby?  ;)  For the most part, so did I..)

And now, Charlotte is in a bassinet on one side of me, and Ryan is in bed on the other side of me.  My midwife and apprentice doulas surround us, one still rubbing my arm and holding my hand.  They tuck us in bed and say their good nights for the evening.  They depart and close the door of our room, the same room of Charlotte's arrival hours earlier.

Our new family is alone together for the first time.

The adrenaline rush of the last 24 hours begins a mild settling, and all I can do is weep.  I cannot find a place to start processing the enormous whirlwind of birth.

Ryan and I huddle close together in bed, grab hands, and I request that we take turns noting the highlights of the day.  Everything else is just too much for me.  We share softly, our foreheads close together, appreciating the moments that the other found so special.  Then we decide to have Ryan administer priesthood blessings for Charlotte and myself.  He comes around the bed and places his large hands on Charlotte's tiny head.  He gives her her first blessing on Earth, blessing her with safety and a quick recovery.  Then he reaches over her and places his hands on my head, offering me similar blessings of a quick and healthy recovery, and expressing Heavenly Father's love for me and what I have just done.

Afterwards, Ryan retreats to the bathroom to finish getting ready for bed, and he can overhear me talking softly to Charlotte.  That is the first moment she and I had.  I felt like I should greet her properly and help comfort her after all her hard work and long day as well.  I don't remember anything of what I said, but Ryan says he loved listening to me; it melted his heart to hear my voice whispering to her.  He remembers very distinctly that I talked with her openly about my birthing experience with her and telling her that I've been through other really hard times in life.  Then I told her through my tears:

The world is very hard sometimes.  But we will make the best of it.  I will teach you what I've done.

The next day, Ryan and I are ready to go home.  We sit on the bed and talk with both my midwives, of which my primary midwife stayed up all night at the birth center, taking care of us and finishing up my clinical records.

We arrive home and welcome Charlotte to her house!  My mom shows up several hours later.

The next several days are a tumble of emotions and continual transformation of my body.  So grueling.  With the intensity of delivery, that seems like a likely finish line.  But this movie can't roll the credits yet.  We can't leave out the swelling and the itching and the engorgement.  My crotch hurt, my belly hurt, my chest hurt, and my hormones are like an unsupervised field day at an elementary school - just a free for all of unpredictable and irrational swings.  Oh and also, this baby must eat, so take off your shirt and expose your breast and push baby's face onto you and ....."AHHHH!!!  THAT HURTS SO BAD!"  My friend Jo told me this summer that the early days of breastfeeding are toe-curlingly painful.  Indeed.  Yes.

And due to all these changes, for the first three days, I felt so disconnected from Charlotte.  All I associated her with was pain.  And when she came close to me, that only meant more discomfort to me.  Ryan later recalled to me that each time she was brought to me for nursing, I would begin shaking and could hardly hold her.  I would watch as Ryan held her, and lifted her, and talked with her, and loved her.  And I couldn't yet do that; I couldn't even kiss her because of cold sores that had arrived from all the stress inside my body.  I felt lower and lower.  I remember reading my Book of Mormon in these first couple of days and feeling a sweet, sweet peace.  Just a small comfort to my soul that all would be well.

And each passing day, a new pain would arrive.  On the evening of the third day, I began to experience stinging symptoms of a UTI.  Oh joy!  Welcome to the party!  If there is any other intolerable consequence of child birth, please join us!  Luckily, Mr. Hemorrhoid did not come to my party.  But nevertheless, I just cried.  There was just no release.  One thing after the next.  I physically and emotionally could not keep up with all that was happening to me.  And I couldn't even feel comfortable or connected to this baby I just delivered.  My best friend Chelsea, who is now a doula in Idaho, reassured me of this normalcy in so many new mothers.  And Joelle and Steffanie also comforted me and helped me feel better about this transition.  I felt extreme gratitude for the support and understanding of my friends.

Ultimately, however, because of all the pain I was in, we had to call my midwife, and she came over to my house at 10:30 that evening.  She and I sat and talked for quite awhile, and she brought pills from her own cupboard to help me.  She was so understanding and loving.  I wish she could be the midwife for everyone.

Then on the fourth day, a switch.  For one, I had my placenta encapsulated, and I had begun taking the pills, which are not only extremely nutritious but largely help with recovery.  It absolutely leveled out my hormones and helped me emotionally cope so much better.

And the prized moment, indicating this shift- I was in my bedroom, all alone with Charlotte, deciding that I would like to try nursing in complete privacy.  Just to allow myself a little more space.  Processing is best done in solidarity for me.  I remember Charlotte in her pink-striped footies.  Thumper jammies, as Ryan family calls them.  She was wrapped in the absolute softest pink polka-dot blanket.  The touch of it to my skin is exquisite.  My own baby blanket was folded at the foot of my bed, just as it has been my whole life.  And I had my "spa" station playing on Pandora.  I settled comfortably against my pillows and brought Charlotte to me to begin nursing.  I braced the pain, breathed deeply, reactively flexed my feet with such vigor.  And after a little time, we were off - she was latched and swallowing rhythmically.

And there I held her, letting her entire hand grip my finger so tightly.  Her cheeks moving with the sucking and swallowing.  Her eyes closed and soft.  Her whole face tender right against me.  And I just sat in the whiteness of my room, the sun coming in the window on my back, our white down comforter cushioning and enfolding me, and the melodic music floating around us.  And I just watched her, letting myself feel proud to be her vessel of nutrients, feeling very satisfied and achieved. And ultimately, I felt connected to her.  I felt like this was my little being.  To love, and nourish, and hold.

And that moment was our beginning. 


And some photos my midwife texted to me last night of the delivery:

That braid in my hair is Ryan's doing.  After 10 hours of laboring, I was tired of sweeping my hair out of my face, so he braided it for me.

Look at Charlotte's little hand clinging to my bra.  I LOVE it!  Her head is green, because my midwife applied chlorophyll to help my body widen and loosen for her head's grand entrance.


Part 1: Our Little Buddy is Born!

14 November 2016

Our baby girl has arrived.  Charlotte Rae. 

ooooh man.

In the middle of the night, when I hover over her and tell her how precious she is, I am Golem.

Here's all the facts.  She was born at 6:17pm on November 5.  She weighed 8 lb. and 9 oz.  Her body was 21.5 inches long, and her head was 13.5 inches in diameter.  She is a healthy baby.  And that is not code for fat.  She truly is strong and sturdy and developed in a lot of ways.  Ryan and I feel so blessed.  When things feel right in order, I feel such incredible peace.

My labor began at 12:30 am on Saturday morning.  Mike and Christy came over to watch a movie on Friday night, which was all a huge joke, because just over 6 months ago, Christy went into labor the night that Ryan and I went over to their house to watch a movie.  Pizza and a movie.  That did her in.  So they came over to our place as a joke to get Charlotte out.  And lo and behold, they leave and my labor begins.  I'll never forget how when I woke Ryan up around 1:30, he leaped out of bed with excitement and finished putting the final items in our "hospital bag."  Aka: our laundry basket.   However, I labored for 11 hours at home, so Ryan and I slept in between each contraction, and it wasn't until 11:30 am that we finished our peach toast and took our laundry basket out the door.  I then labored for 7 hours at the birthing center.  And then, Charlotte.

She's cooing in her sleep right now.

Today she is nine days old, and it feels like I've lived a full life in that time.  Talk about torrential downpour of emotion and transition, like I'm on a ride at the fair that is misprogrammed to an unsupervised speed.  And yet, time moves so soft and sweetly and sloooowly that the world doesn't seem to be rotating anymore.  I remember the three or so days after birth, the title of one of my favorite songs kept looping in my mind: "The World Spins Madly On." Like a part of me had to be reminded that a world continued to exist outside the walls of our home.


the election was a good reminder of real life.

I'm at a loss to fully express how this experience has been.  Starting right at delivery - the birthing experience is indescribable.  And it is TRUE, true true true what they say that mothers forget over time.  I already cannot recall a lot.  Even though, right after delivery, I swore that I would never ever be able to forget.

Right after delivery, I felt like an entire tsunami had stormed through my body.  Like every last part of me had been dislodged and thrashed.  And once Charlotte became the newest angel to enter Earth, I laid there on the bed, getting stitched up by my midwife, and I looked at Ryan with tears in my eyes and felt horrified.  I felt erupted - body and mind.  And I found such irony that he was wearing the triathlon T-shirt from our race over two years ago.  Because at the end of that race is the only other time I remember feeling this way.  Entirely deluged and overthrown in both body and mind because of the intensity of the experience.  Except the way I felt overwhelmed at the end of that race was not near to the degree at which I felt so on Saturday evening 9 days ago.

So, I cannot place myself back into the pain of that experience.  Except "The Ring of Fire" right at the end when I was puuuuuuushing her head out - oh my gosh that was the most insane sensation I have ever experienced.  The Ring of Fire is the burning sensation women get as the baby's head is coming out.  I can remember that.  And not in a bad way.  When I recall it, I feel a reverberation back into my animal side.  That's what my midwife told me after the labor experience - women have their human side, the logical mind trying to think through the process, and they have their animal side.  And woman must turn into animals in order to meet the work of natural labor.  It is true.  Ryan said that in transition, and absolutely through The Ring of Fire, I was a beast.  After several pushing contractions, my midwives and apprentices said lots of wow's and then remarked that I am clearly a woman meant to have babies.  Ha!  Ryan said he has never seen someone in his life exert so much strength and force from the entirety of their body.  I was sitting on him in the birthing pool, and he said at every contraction and time to push, he could feel every last muscle in my body turn to iron, and I became a beast.  I actually feel really delighted by that.  I find it so...  savage.  In a Queen of the Jungle kind of way.  And that's probably why I keep thinking about those mere moments in The Ring of Fire.  Because for those moments, I was the most superior and powerful animal on earth. 

And the next few days, my muscles were so sore.  I kept asking Ryan, "Why would this muscle be sore?  When did I use my triceps in labor?  My traps too?"  And he would keep telling me about the time I turned into a beast, pulling with all my force on his arms as I pushed, and I would relish in that quick feeling.  I. Was. Animal. Queen.

I remember other moments too.  Like one of my apprentice doulas squatting in front of me on the floor, while I surged through contraction after contraction.  And after the intensity was releasing, she would say, "Let that one go.  You will never have to worry about that contraction again.  It's completely over and done.  That one is gone and you did it."  And I would let it go.  And I would let the next one go.  And the next one.  And it was monumental for me.  Not just in labor.  But in MY LIFE.  (I mean, just look at the post I published right before this one).  I won't embark on a self-actualization journey about this right now, but those were really valuable words for me to internalize.  Who knew that I could still find a gem on my journey of self-progression while in labor.

Anyway, this post only covered a sliver of my life the last week and a half.  And none of it has even touched on Charlotte yet!  Or Ryan!  Although, you will be proud to know - I am already current on scrapbooking Charlotte's life so far.  How 'bout that.

I end for now.  Our Little Princess will be awake soon.

Upward and onward,

My Magnificent Path

07 November 2016

Ryan gave me a priesthood blessing just a few hours after Charlotte's birth.  The blessing reiterated many times that my health and strength will be restored quickly.  But I also remember distinctly:

Heavenly Father has a magnificent path laid out for me.

He is most certainly preparing the way for me and that path.

That blows my mind to think about and also gives me unending peace.

Upward and onward,