Monday, May 31, 2010

Sunday Photos

Quote from one of my favorite photographer's blogs:

Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are... Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect Tomorrow. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in my pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return.
-Mary Jean Iron

Friday, May 28, 2010

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Checking her out.

Never very gentle, but always interested... my little Lillie. She gives me headaches and causes so many problems, but I think back to June two years ago, when she was my newborn. So innocent then! And her beauty and magnitude has only grown since.

I just hope I (and Matilda) can get through the next few months.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Pie and Tired.

Look at the nymph that graces my couch! Ohhhh am I ever lucky! She's better than blueberry pie, with the light that falls into the folds of her skin in the evening. I can't stop looking, waiting for her to suddenly vanish as if she's too beautiful to hold her place in the world. But she doesn't vanish. In fact, I wake up with her next to me in the night and it's so cozy I forget that I'm a mother of more than just her squishiness. She's all there is right now. And I am not motivated for that to change very quickly.

That's it for tonight. 'Cause Mama is tiiiired.

p.s. swaddling blanket found here: adenandanais

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday Photos

I have never been happier in my life.


Friday, May 21, 2010

A week old.

This is a day among all others. A day that my baby is one week old.

It is also the day that my mother in law left to return to Florida. I have to admit her departure is an emotional one. We shared with Donna our most life-changing experience. The birth of our fourth child, and her 11th grandchild. She has done everything for us, including staying an extra week to accommodate for Matilda's tardiness. She has taken care of me, of the kids, of Jake. Making it so I could sit on the couch for the last five days and hold my baby instead of setting her down to do the dishes and the cleaning. I have loved it. It's been a beautiful week. And words cannot describe how it feels to share this time of my life with her.

But perhaps the greatest gift she gave me is what could be an award-winning collection of photographs of Matilda's birth. Priceless wouldn't even begin to describe them. The absolute greatest, lasting gift I could have ever hoped for.

Thanking her here wouldn't even begin to scratch the surface. This sacred time, Matilda's entry into my life, will always be associated with Donna's presence, generosity and love. Always. And that's irreplaceable.

Monday, May 17, 2010


Matilda Mae Smylie
9 lbs, 15 oz., 22 inches
 7:46 p.m.

She is beauty and peace and so much love for our family. 

This is her story.

The beautiful morning of her birth, I had no idea she was coming. I drove Grace to school in my pajamas and came home to get ready for an appointment with my midwife. I felt strong, heavy, overdue. My hips ached. I had spent the last few days eating caramel apples, going on walks, shopping at Costco. Waking up every morning still unbelievably pregnant. 

By the time I got to her office, I was having regular contractions 10 minutes apart. Nothing out of the ordinary for four days overdue. She checked the amount of fluid around the baby and monitored her heartbeat. Both looked great. She looked at me and asked if I had eaten a good breakfast, "Giving birth burns as many calories as running a marathon, ya know". I said yes with a smile, doubting today would be our day. She warned me, "You're at 4 cm, contracting regularly, do not wait until you're in pain. It may be too late by then to make it to the hospital."

I arrived home still with regular contractions. No aching, no wincing, everything was very mild. The phone conversation with Jake was tense, you see, there was quite a load of anxiety throughout this pregnancy concerning labor and delivery. As in: let's not have the baby in the car. Jake and I decided to go to the hospital. If my labor did not pick up, I would have my midwife break my water. I was nervous about this part, having an induction of any sort was not really in my plans.

Another fact, I hate having plans. They create more stress for me. I like to have a rough outline, sure, but I am not one that prepares. For her birth, I wanted a few things. I was planning on going as long as I could without intervention. I planned to find my inner strength. To face the feelings of fear and terror that accompanied Lillie's birth. Hers was a natural birth, two minutes after I arrived to the hospital, and was a complete shock and surprise. I hoped this time I could have a natural delivery that was under my own control. But I was not 100% committed, either. This was the part I left open and unplanned.

We arrived at the hospital and about an hour later at 2 p.m., my midwife broke my water. There was no turning back. Today was the day. We walked the halls, I sat on a large beach ball they call a "birthing ball". The girls would have had a lot of fun with that ball! For me it was strictly business, with ice chips as my friend. I walked the halls. I swayed. By 4p.m. I had progressed to 5 cm. I was feeling good, not in much pain, taking things slow. By 6 p.m. I took a shower and filled up the bath. My midwife had advised me that a bath might slow down my labor (currently my contractions were 3-5 minutes apart), but a woman in labor craves a bath, needs a bath, has got to have a bath. I got in and almost immediately knew that in my case, my midwife had been wrong. 

Contractions got to about 2 minutes apart, stretching a little bit longer and becoming something I had to get through by breathing and closing my eyes. The only comfortable position was sitting cross-legged and gripping my ice cup tightly. Jake watched me become more serious, take on more pain, slowly accepting active labor. His concern was mounting but he talked to me and shut up when I needed him to. 

I got out of the bath and was 7 cm. Here we go. Here we go. I spent a few minutes on the bed monitoring little girl's heartbeat, then back on the birth ball (love and hate that thing!). As Jake applied pressure to my back, he lovingly suggested that if I were to have an epidural, now would be the time. My midwife shot him a death glare which I didn't see and I just said, "shhhh". 

Because it was happening. And I was doing it. One contraction at a time. 

It was about 7:20 p.m. All together, I got through about six contractions sitting there. The first three mounting in pain, the fourth a twinge of something new, something burning, the fifth a weak form of the need to bear down, after which my midwife suggested I move to the bed to push. I said I needed to stay for one more. One more contraction to terrify me enough to move to that scary part, the very end. That last contraction was what I needed. There was no choice involved, I moved to the bed with a single purpose. 

Once I laid down, it was only minutes before we met her. Minutes before my world changed yet again. Minutes until I felt all the emotions I had ever felt in my life, gathered together, exploding in the space above me, where ultimate happiness lies. A perfect culmination of pain and joy. She was a big baby, and it caused me to expend a lot of effort, but she came, eventually. Jake delivered her torso and legs and he handed her body to me, laid her on my chest, kept his hands on her. I gripped her tightly, tears streaming down my cheeks, my hands a little shaky. He held my hand and rubbed her back with the other, encouraging her to cry, to breathe. She didn't cry for one minute and fifteen seconds. 

He was scared. I cried with the purest, simplest joy I have ever felt. I knew she was okay and it was confirmed when she finally let out the prettiest little fairy cry and our medical staff all sighed with relief. The cord had been around her neck and her shoulders needed quite a lot of effort to free. Her face was bruised all over with pinprick purple dots from the strain and pressure of birth. Her hair was thick, black and matted and she was squishy and red. I stared at her steadily, minute after minute, but it took so long to actually see her. She was such a new face, although I already knew her and had for quite some time.

The range of emotions that are felt after birth are unexplainable. You are a goddess, a queen, and at the same time, God's most humble servant. You would fall at the feet of your newborn child, climb the unconquerable mountain, place your flag on top, and spit in the face of all those that doubt you. You would do anything for anyone, yet all you want to do is go home, stay home, and never leave again. Keep those you love close to you, and protect the river of blessings recently allotted. 

This child, this baby, you are certain has been personally given to you by the hand of God in heaven. What else could have happened? And how could you possibly be more lucky and blessed than in this moment?

Since then, we've wallowed in disbelief, let shock and awe wash over us as we've had some of the most spiritual moments and conversations ever spoken in the course of our lives. Jake and I, we have this family. This family of four daughters, who we can't stop loving. And the newest one brings so much happiness and love into our lives that it's difficult to stand. It's difficult to fully feel it. So we push it away until the dark hours of late evening, when we can let it compress on our senses like it should. When we can listen to our girls gently breathing sleepily in their beds as we sit together and stare at our newest one. The one that makes us a family of six.

Tildy, we love you.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Yummy Lills.

Still my littlest baby...

Perhaps forever...

Or so it feels...

Monday, May 10, 2010

40 w.

I think we can all agree... there's only so much a body can handle.

Something strange happens to a woman on her due date. She starts to go a little insane. And every subsequent day following her brain begins to unravel. There's nothing she can do but wait. There are no answers for the questions posed to her. A man passing her on the street knows as much about when the baby is coming as she does. It's the truth.

So we wait. And eat ice cream. Really, what else is there to do?

Sunday, May 09, 2010

A Mother's Day

We have the opportunity and glorious good fortune to have Jake's mom, our Nana, visiting since Friday. She's here for the baby but it just so happens we spent much of Mother's Day with her. We had her all to ourselves. A lucky, lucky year. The kids clearly love her and she treats me exactly like one of her own daughters and I love her so much for that.

It's baby-having time. Come on little one, make your escape. Pretty please?

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Drawing Trees.

The line between winter and spring continues to blur. Meanwhile, a second sister looks up to an older sister more than she will ever know.