17 August 2018

Blessing Day

My family came to visit me! AH!

But first, there are two things we need to stop and discuss about the above photo:

1) Look at my hair. I literally woke up like that. WHAT?! I waited 9 months for pregnancy hair and I finally decided that I'd just missed out on that genetic perk. Then suddenly I had a baby and VAVOOM! Beautiful covetable locks without even trying. Let this post stand as photographic evidence that this magical hair moment actually happened. 

2) Look how young my ma looks. It used to drive me bananas when people would say "That's your mom? She looks like your sister!" But even I have to admit that she looks pretty darn young in this photo. Here's to hoping I inherited some of that.

So, this is my parent's first ever visit across the Atlantic and I have to say I was a bit anxious before they came. My mom has historically had a lot of anxiety with flying and my dad is usually swamped with work, so a trip this far away has previously not been a possibility. However, the siren call of their grandson's baby blessing was enough to lure them to this side of the pond.

My mom came out a week early and gave me some much-needed help. Since Ezra is an almost exclusively express-fed baby, I find I just don't have enough arms to get things done. By the time I pump, feed and get him to sleep, it's time to start pumping again and the day just zips passed me. She was a godsend.

However, the best thing about having my mom here is that she loaded me up with motherly perspective. For example--at first--I thought E was not a very cuddly little baby. He liked to arch his back and would fight me for a good quarter hour any time I'd try to put him into a sling. But when my mom came she pointed out how easily settled he was, how much he adored being held and how he loves being around people. "This baby," she said repeatedly, "is a VERY cuddly baby."

This made me see him differently, which made me respond to him differently, which I think has--in turn--actually made him a more snuggly child. Now he cuddles with me for hours between feeds and it is glorious.

We had lots of adventures around Bath, including happening about the nation's most scrummy doughnut (Pippin Doughnuts we're lookin' at you!). My mom would not shut up about it. Honestly, she talked of almost nothing else for days and was devastated (almost to tears) when she learned the artisan market we bought them at is only open once a month.

I'm pretty sure the next artisan market is on my birthday so I may have to go eat one in her honour.

Once my dad and youngest sister, Clara, arrived there were more adventures to be had. For several days, my parents took baby in the morning while they puttered around town which meant I could start to whittle through my to-do list. I've never got that much done in so little time before baby. Maybe being a mum gives you superpowers? Is that possible? I think yes. It is the only plausible explanation for how my mother survived seven children.

One evening we went to tour the Roman Baths, which is sort of the main tourist attraction in this town. I'd never been to the Baths before because ticket seemed so outrageously priced (and I'm unabashedly cheap). I had no idea there was a huge museum complex as part of the tour. It was actually really incredible and well worth the spendy admission fee. Highly recommended.

Finally, Jon's dad arrived and we all got to spend time together. I really love how well our parents get on with each other. Our dads walked and chatted like best mates and it was so lovely to watch.

Finally, the day of the main event arrived. My sister Elizabeth knitted this absolutely stunning blanket from baby alpaca wool then surprised me by making a making an extra pair of booties and a hat to match. What a rock star! This is definitely going to be THE heirloom blanket I use for all my babies.

I wasn't able to save the original blessing outfit (I mangled it beyond repair), but I did manage to add a few special touches to the one we ended up using (like adding little wooden buttons). He was the most precious squishy angel and didn't make a peep for the whole of church, even as he got passed around from person to person to person.

I love the photo on the right, but I now retract what I said about my mom earlier. I've definitely inherited her youthful genes because I'm pretty positive I look about 16 in that photo. It's bittersweet--I'm sure one day I'll appreciate it.

Look at all these beautiful people! They are all colleagues from Jon's work that all showed up to support him on this special day. I couldn't believe it! They were all so complimentary and kind and full of love. All the feels were there. 

Below is Ekta holding baby E when he decided he was so over taking photos. Little man already knows his own mind.

And finally, here are three generations of Young men! Love each one of them and having my family here made the whole thing 100x more special.

07 August 2018

We're a Family

My mom always said she felt like it took three kids—for her and my dad to be outnumbered—for her to finally feel like they were a family, but for Jon and I it has only taken one. Now suddenly we aren’t just a couple, we are a trio. Parents and a babe. Progeny and progenitors. An actual honest to goodness family unit.

My mom arrived a week ago and she was lovely enough to take these beautiful family photos of us. Despite how happy and serene we all look, this day was probably one of the most difficult since Ezra arrived. I had no sleep the night before and—just before we started taking photos—had just realised I mangled his little blessing outfit (I still have no idea how it happened). I burst into tears, argued with both my mom and Jon that there was positively no solution, and threw my face into a spit-up soaked pillow.

It was a very low moment.

Thankfully, I pulled it together. I got some hugs and cuddles and the show carried on. We are still working on a solution for this little man’s blessing this Sunday, but I feel like there is one on the horizon. 

I love that, in this photo, you can see how excited we are to be parents. We have waited long and hard for this little man and we couldn't be happier that he is finally here. Thank goodness for modern medicine, prayers, and patience. 

And after a long morning taking photos, my two boys decided to take a much earned nap. Even that was beautiful... Jon is such a good daddy and it is genuinely so wonderful to watch. 

Every night he comes home, like an excited little boy in a candy shop, and scoops up baby. He then proceeds to sing him Christmas carols for the next hour. I've never known a man that loves Christmas more, or that has taken so naturally to fatherhood. On both counts I am one lucky girl. 

And this is what I wake up to every morning. Look at those BLUE EYES! AHHHH! I feel like you can already see what he will look like when he gets older. I can practically already hear him forming the words "Um... can you make me a snack?"

24 July 2018

First Weeks

Today marks two weeks of having our little baby in our lives. I took the above photo on our first morning after coming home from the hospital when (after realising our bedroom was too warm) we pulled our mattress (and the baby's) out into the living room floor to camp out for the first few days. It made our first week much more bearable, though considerably more perplexing for the midwives who came to check in on us every other day. Baby loved it though! Look how peaceful he is. 

Jon's colleagues at work have been so supportive. They sent us the gorgeous flowers above last week (easily the most glorious bouquet I've ever received) and, when he went back to work yesterday, they showered him with gifts. My personal fav was a gift given to him by the female colleagues that sit near him at work. I LOVE LOVE LOVE gifts like this. I genuinely almost cried when Jon showed it to me-- and it wasn't because of the cocktail of hormones I'm probably bathing in right now. 

It has been so nice having Jon home for a little while, especially because feeding has been a real challenge. In the early days, I had to hand express colostrum and feed it to Ezra drop by drop while he sucked on my finger. These were dark days, especially when, on one horrible night I completely dried up and we learned there were no stores open for 40 minutes in any direction to buy formula. I haven't cried so hard in years. Jon stayed up all night with baby while I slept for four or five hours so that I'd have something to express. I took the above photo the next morning, when I finally was able to feed him again, he wrapped his little arms around my hand and wouldn't let go. (Heart... quivering... gah!) 

You can see by this point he had lost a fair bit of his birth weight as his chubby cheeks and double chin had disappeared. Luckily, he has gained it all back now, although feeding still is the most painful/emotional/frustrating thing. I had no idea it could be this difficult. 

For the first week we saw midwives and specialists almost every single day to try to get things sorted. Little nugget still won't latch, so he may have to be an expressed-fed baby, but I am so grateful he is healthy, happy, and has all his fingers and toes. Babies have a way of making you count your blessings. 

That said, I've learned babies can teach you more than just gratitude. 

I don't think you can know the real meaning of despair until you've just spent an hour+ painstakingly expressing a full bottle of milk, only to watch it come spewing up out of your baby like a 4th-grader's science fair project. Utter betrayal.

Also, projectile poo... I heard it was a thing, but never experienced it til today. It was made substantially worse by the fact the midwives refer to poo at this stage as 'korma poo.' While accurate, who decided that was a good idea? Now every time I get Indian food, today's experience will burn bright in my mind and will probably ruin my appetite. 

But even with those murky spells, motherhood has been replete with little joys and beautiful moments. Sometimes I can't stop looking at his squishy little face, especially when he sleeps because (unlike when he is awake) he is often smiling and even proffers the occasional giggle. Sure love his little man. 

And so, I think I'll end this post with this photo... because who could resist such a squidgy little face?? Until next time!

13 July 2018

Welcome to the World

Here he is! Our little miracle finally made it into the world and, sleep deprived and sore as I am, I can't stop smiling. Jon and I are besotted-- and I honestly think I never knew the real meaning of that word until we became parents. Here are the stats on our little man:

Ezra Frederick Young
8.5 lbs, 19 inches long 

Our little guy has massive feet. They are seriously huge and the midwives kept giggling about it and how funny it is that he likes to stretch his toes out like fingers. I suppose I should have expected this given the strength of his in-utero kicking... perhaps we may have a little footballer on our hands (also, can we just acknowledge the tragedy of England's loss in the World Cup? I usually couldn't care less, but the fervour in the air around here had me rooting for a win). 

I love this photo... it captures the peaceful lull we felt after the madness of labour perfectly. Ezra's birth was induced, thanks to his low heart rate (pretty sure this is just genetic as both Jon and I do as well, but I was eager to get the ball rolling). 

Looking back on the experience now, the birthing process has left me with one baffling question: how and why are there so many children in this world? I'm serious. How did my mom have seven kids, and Jon's mom have eight? How is this something people keep doing over and over and over again?

People always say as soon as you get that baby in your arms, you forget all about the pain. Well let me tell you something, I was on (what my midwives described as) the most effective epidural ever given, and I remember the pain. VIVIDLY. I had expected period pain meets constipation multiplied by a factor of 3 or 4. Holy cannoli, labour is a whole other dimension. I have gained so much respect for you ladies out there that do it 100% al natural. That had been my intention-- I had this beautiful, serene hippy water birth in mind, supplemented by my hypnobirthing tracks and a sweet husband rubbing my feet and talking me through my breathing.  What I ended up with was very very different.

It was a beautiful fantasy and one that I would have thought would haunt me given how my labour actually happened, but (blessedly) I feel completely at peace with my birthing experience. As difficult as it was, I learned so much about myself (that I apparently have the pain threshold of a cream filled doughnut) and life that have already made me a more empathic mother. It is a glorious thing that our bodies are all different and that we experience our own journeys in our own way. 

I hope this baby grows up to be just like him. 

When we were finally discharged from the hospital, I got to dress Ezra up in a little blue and white set of pajamas that my sister-in-law sent me. Apparently, Jon and all his brothers came home from the hospital in this same outfit. Now it has been passed down to this next generation so all the male cousins (that have the last name 'Young') have come home in the same sweet outfit, just like their daddies. It felt like a real full circle moment getting to take him out of the hospital like this.  

These are just a few images of the first few days of our little babies life. I'm beyond excited to see what the days ahead have for us. 

08 July 2018

Still Growing

Well, we are officially overdue. Baby was marked to come on the 4th of July, but it turns out, we both still have some growing to do!

I think sometimes, when Mother Nature sees swollen bellies crouched down near the dirt, she sort of explodes with excitement and all that zeal for growing lands on pregnant mamas so that all we want to do is just grow stuff. That’s how I’ve felt for the past nine months— growing babies and seeds and trees and ideas— just growing, growing, growing. 

As such, I’ve spent a lot of time at my allotment. My garden has been my happy place and my motivation to get moving, especially when my inner couch potato says I have a decent excuse to lounge around the flat. Even if my garden were a complete failure, I’m grateful I’ve had that  incentive to be active. I know it had made for a healthier pregnancy and— to take a complete nosedive into hippy land— I think the spiritual connection you feel with the Earth while you are growing a new life inside is one of the most beautiful things a woman can experience. 

Above is Patty, my favourite neighbour. He is so lovely and kind and (unlike some OTHER allotment neighbours) very non-judgemental. My plot is pretty shabby compared to those around me…. This year has literally been an exercise in how little effort someone can put in (well there has been a LOT of effort, just precious little physical dexterity) and still have a garden. Positivity goes such a long way and having him around has made me feel much better about my meagre little plot. 

Jon has been particularly lovely when it comes to my allotment. He HATES gardening— who even knew that was a thing? His animosity comes from the many Saturday hours he and his brothers spent doing landscaping and manual labour for his parents. Sometimes I find his hostility for gardening really funny, because it is so extreme. Like, it’s dirt and seeds, how bad can it really be?

However, he has been a complete angel this season and has spent so many hours hauling buckets of water for me (so I can feed my plants) I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to thank him enough. That boy has never complained about it, even though I can feel whole being seize up every time I ask, “Lovey, can you help me go water my garden today?” He is a champ. 

Anyway, as this heat wave continues to melt my face off, I'm praying for water for little plants. There is none in sight at the moment, but hopefully our little baby will come soon and bring the rain with him.