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.


01 July 2018

Final Stretch

I'm in the home stretch now... not long to go before this little nugget arrives! 

Unfortunately, England is experiencing a massive heat wave right now so this last leg of the journey has me spending most of the day laid out in a sweaty heap hoping my little electric fan will give me the will to get up and get things done. Still, I'd take this over our days frying in the New York summer sizzle-- THAT was truly horrible.

Other than the temperature, things are pretty fantastic. My friends from church threw me a surprise baby shower (the "from little seeds grow mighty trees" was a gift I received from our friends Sophie and Byron-- I LOVE thoughtful homemade gifts <3). Because it was a complete surprise, so I didn't manage to get many photos, but here are a few:

Guess which one of us won the blind-folded put-the-nappy-on-the-teddy game? Hint: It's not the one praying for help.

In other news, I've been trying to get Jon to empathise with the weight and heat... I made him try on  a pregnancy fat suit (the boobies were tacked in like little bean bags which is what our friends Sophie and Byron [who are also pregnant!] are commenting on in the pic). As you can see by his smug expression, it didn't really do the trick.

But, when all else fails, drink milkshakes!

Luckily, we are now the proud owners of a new car! Well, an very used new car. We've named it 'Pippin' because it is red like a shiny pippin apple. We decided it was time to finally break down and buy one now that baby is on the way. Amazingly the hardest part of the process was getting Jon his UK driver's license. That thing is 10x harder to get than its American counterpart. I'm not brave enough to get one yet... I'm pretty positive there is at least one course of driver's ed in my future.

We also got to see the PMQs (Prime Ministers Questions), which is this weekly event the Prime Minister (the equivalent of the American President) holds where she fields questions from members of Parliament (equivalent to US Congress). Jon got tickets last minute, which was a fab excuse to visit London again and see the inside of the palace of Westminster. It was very cool to be so close to the action, but unfortunately there was no AC. I thought I was going to die before the session ended!
In other British-y news, Prince Harry is now married! I had zero intention of watching the broadcast, but then Jon promised to go water the allotment for me if I'd agree to make him waffles and watch the royal wedding with him. How could I possibly refuse an offer like that? So happy I did :D

Speaking of allotments, mine is plodding along. It still looks pretty scroungy, but we do get a handful of snap peas, the occasional berry, and 2 or 3 squashes every day from it. That is pretty good in my book given how little I've been able to give to my garden this year.

And that's the update for now! Hopefully the next post will announce the birth of a new little life. Finger's crossed he comes on his due date-- July 4th for a very patriotic and ironic celebration!