Sunday
Aug072016

Trailblazer

One of the pioneer journals detailing my great-great grandfather’s trek west mentions a woman who, at the onset of the day, had something tied up in her apron as she began pushing her handcart. After some inquiry it was discovered the thing was "a little person who had come into the world the previous evening". She had walked all of yesterday, quietly birthed a baby, cleaned herself up, and tucked it in a homespun pouch because the wagon train was moving. No time for recovery and reverie. No time for white nightgowns and silver trays loaded with hydrangeas and pastries. No time for sleepy skin on skin. Time was reserved for sunburn and steps. This story disturbed me mostly because she was 1000 times tougher than I’ll ever be. I am happy to report chivalry was not dead on the plains; the fellow travelers of this woman insisted she ride for a few days while benefactors took care of her cart.

The other story that has been on my mind was written by Rachel Coleman, a trail runner I should have bumped into at BYU but somehow missed. Please, I never would have bumped into her while running. Running is ludicrous. I would have bumped into her in the Brimhall building while we were earning our graphic design degrees. She writes about the crumbling of her health and 17-year marriage:

During this time, a good friend gave me a picture of the temple with these words from Elder Jeffery R. Holland written on it: “Don't you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead.” I stuck it to my fridge and read those words every day. When my great-great grandmother Asenath Viola Wilcox began her journey west as a pioneer, her family traveled on what her sister called “trackless prairie.” The grass was so high that her father had to stand on top of the wagon bed in order to get his bearings. I did the same thing, praying to know God’s will for me and trying my best to follow Him, without knowing where I was going. I put one foot in front of the other, on my own trackless prairie, knowing only that God keeps His promises, even if I couldn’t see how the things he promised would ever be accomplished.

BABY 1: RE. I quit working the week before she was born. Our house was furniture and spot-free, therefore no real effort was required to maintain sanctuary. I wasn’t even scrapbooking or crafting then. I honestly don’t remember what I did all day but I don’t remember feeling haggard or overwhelmed.

BABY 2: Archer. A definite adjustment with definite postpartum baby blues. I hid my struggle because I was afraid to say, “This is stinking hard.” I thought if I admitted how tough babies were I wouldn’t be appreciating the miracle of the century. I stressed myself out until my milk dried up and felt displaced despite overall conditions of health and happiness. By the time Archer was four months old I started getting my mojo back. The fog eventually lifted and list-making, crafting, writing, and wild monthly photo shoots commenced.

BABY 3: Everett. I had him on Thursday and enjoyed a two-night holiday* at the hospital. Then I promptly tied him up in my apron and started chasing wagons on Saturday. That’s what it felt like, anyway. (First thing I did when I got home from the hospital? Cleaned my tub.) The wagons veer like my wind-up toddler toward sights yet unseen: a new high school, a new home, a newish van (can't wait!), a new lifestyle with littles (for the first time in our marriage Greg and I have finite personal time which forces us to communicate and write things on the calendar). I can’t let the crazy train out of my sight despite strong urges to jump in the sick wagon and nap indefinitely.

I’ve never had three kids. This is not a complaint; I just don’t know how to do it yet. Twice a day while my Sonicare buzzes I stare at the card taped to my bathroom mirror: THOUGH HARD TO YOU THIS JOURNEY MAY APPEAR GRACE SHALL BE AS YOUR DAY. I'm day-to-day right now, meaning I can only focus on today, not tomorrow. (Which kind of freaks me out. I have to breathe deeply and repeat three times "It's okay to not be Superwoman.") I remember when Archer was a newborn there was a day when the only thing I accomplished was breaking my eyebrow comb in half so it fit in my make-up bag. That was a low point in my list-making life. Now I laugh about it. This time around I'm simplifying: less bullet points, more naps.

The morning after Everett was born I physically felt like I'd jumped through a paper shredder. I was slightly better off mentally and emotionally. As I have pinged and ponged between being okay and being overwhelmed I've submitted to one truth: I need manna, succor, and grace every morning, noon, and night. The thing is…I believe the Lord will give them to me. I believe he wants to give them to me. I especially need these things when life is stripped down to the basics of survival. I appreciate the minimalist "manna phases" of my life. They keep me close to the Lord.

Acres of grass wave to the horizon. Unknown waves before me roll hiding rocks and treacherous shoal. Jesus, Savior, pilot me! Above the tips of tall grass I stand sleep-deprived in a wagon bed (the irony...sleepy in bed) with a new bundle in my apron. I survey and scour for promised paths and hidden treasures. Despite being an amateur orienteer I know I will find them by feel versus sight. Nudges, pushes, pulls. Hesitation, inspiration, revelation. Day by groggy day. Little by little. Step by step.

The first night in the hospital, before abandoning me to sleep at home for nine hours on a plush mattress, Greg admitted he was feeling the weight of providing for another human. (According to the internet it now costs $300K to raise a kid. I told him we'd be fine if he just gave up his daily lunch at Wendy's and I stopped buying Kneaders eclairs.) I likewise admitted I was questioning my capacity to nurture another human. (Which is why I need all those eclairs!) Bonnie Dixon shared an article about a mother of eight whose motto was WE CAN DO IT, meaning (SHE + GOD) CAN DO IT. Greg and I adopted that motto because it's easy to feel buried in our individual spheres. We remind ourselves God does not set us up to fail.

I know I have a special compass inside of me. Chart and compass came from thee; Jesus, Savior, pilot me. The Lord dictates to its spindles via my heart and my mind. WE will find a way. WE will track and travel together.

 

*Sarcasm! I hate that place! Baby lockdown! Sleepless prison!

Photo quote by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Photo of the actual Wyoming prairie I walked through five years ago on a pioneer trek re-enactment

Rachel's article here

I should add that thanks to my amazing neighbors I did get to rest in the sick wagon via deluxe dinners delivered daily for a week. (Say that three times fast.) Life is obnoxiously easy when one doesn't have to cook.

UPDATE: September 2, 2016.

I accidentally stepped on the hem of my linen gaucho pants from anthropologie when I was stooping down to change a diaper and RIPPED the leg of my pants off. There may have been an audible sound of heartbreak. Everett got a clogged tear duct (or pink eye? hope not) and pooped/peed through four outfits. Archer threw a tantrum when the turtle scene of Nemo was over, when I told him he couldn't pour his own pure maple syrup on his empty breakfast plate, and when I accidentally cut his banana wrong. He also slipped a Harmon's gelato sample spoon through the slits in the return air register. I'm hoping that little spoon doesn't blow my furnace up. Hey, I only know how vacuums work. My parents have been gone for two days, hence, I haven't napped in two days and I'm feeling a bit low on fuel. I ate an entire package of marshmallow pinwheel cookies in a week. That's twelve pinwheels. That's about 1500 calories. I'm trying to tell myself it doesn't matter because a)I'm nursing, and b)that's the caloric intake of one bite of anything served at The Cheesecake Factory. The last time I ate an entire package of pinwheels was when Archer was born. My mom got me a package then, too. I guess pinwheels = little baby boys. As soon as I can figure out how to get a new tire on the double stroller Bonnie Dixon gave me I can go on walks in the day. That should cut down on the pinwheels as well as the cooped up feeling. I need to get out. Maybe I shouldn't have purchased two boxes of peaches to can this weekend. I still think WE can do this. But boy oh boy the learning curve is real!

Thursday
Jul282016

Party of Five

I check in at 6:30 a.m. to get induced.

By 8 o'clock the drip is entering my veins. Let's get this party started.

(hours and hours of staring out the window watching the light change hues)

At 2 o'clock I am only dilated to a 6. Everett's head isn't putting pressure on my cervix so the nurses fetch a giant curved yoga ball called "The Peanut", dress it in a hospital gown, and shove it between my knees while I rest on my side. I call RE and tell her Dr. H doesn't think anything will happen until dinnertime. She tells me to get cracking and have this baby.

(Handrail-gripping contraction #1)

Me: Greg, is the contraction off the monitor?

Greg: No, it looks the same as the others.

(Handrail-gripping-I-might-pass-out contraction #2)

Me: DUDE! Something is wrong. I think I just ripped in half.

Greg: No, it still looks the same. But call the nurse if you’re worried.

(pushes call button)

Nurse enters and peeks under my gown. Her eyes pop out of her head. His head has crowned! Don’t move! Don’t move! All available nurses are summoned. Their eyes pop out. Major bees-in-a-beehive buzzing and scurrying. I ask if Dr. H is going to make it over from the other building. Not a chance. Inside I die a little because I rely on Dr. H's chill countenance and sense of humor. I mean, we both hate the Apple Store and how their employees make us feel. If you can't have that in common with your OBGYN I don't know what you can have.

Dr. H waltzes in; he happens to be on the birthing floor checking on another mommy-to-be. I breathe a sigh of relief into my happy balloon; it inflates a little. His eyes pop out the most. DON’T MOVE! A sheet is deftly slid under me. "The Peanut" is removed as carefully as the wishbone from Operation. My hips accidentally rotate a few inches back to center. Everett’s head pops out, his body quickly follows. I witness a fresh baby slipping out of me with no pushing. It's 2:22. I ask if I can sign "The Peanut" but am denied due to HIPAA laws. I call RE and ask if that was fast enough.

I am washed up and the HAZMAT bags of who-knows-what-fell-in-the-bucket are hermetically sealed and removed from the premises (joke, sort of). I am wheelchaired to Room 219 in the Mother/Baby unit. The spartan interior decorating doesn't give me much to look at. I stare at my room number plaque for hours before it hits me. In the LDS Hymnbook #219 is “Because I Have Been Given Much.” Yes. Yes I have.

Greg, RE and I sat in life’s lobby for years awaiting seats at the smorgasboard. No, we didn't want to eat at the bar to avoid the wait. No, we didn't want our unlimited feast of plenty boxed up for takeout. We just wanted our buzzer to go off when it was our turn to eat. Well, it’s buzzing now. Lawson, party of five, your table is ready.

 

And this is his smell. This is what I will always associate with his delicious, squishy, all-curled-up-like-a-snail newborn body:

(Place card chairs from Suz. Soap from Aunt Lynne a.k.a. "The European.") 

Wednesday
Jul272016

Heureux Pour Toujours

I love presents. I love opening them early even more. Colored paper and tape are small hurdles; unsecured gift bags with two sheets of flimsy tissue paper are blatant invitations to glance inside. As a lifetime peeker it's only natural I would choose to be induced. Of course I want to unwrap my baby early! 

Tomorrow I get my third wish. I can't wait. Aurora, Archer, and ___________.

Happily. (RE came when I wanted her, as planned, according to my timeline.)

Ever. (Archer took forever, according to a holier timeline.)

After. (And #3 is coming after that. Bonus baby. So rad.)

I've often thought back to the night of December 3, 2012, when our first IVF failed and I was broken. I knew in my heart the baby gap would eventually close but I never could have guessed all that would be. You just can't script this stuff. The Lord has a genius plan. I'm sure on December 3 He was looking down on me, watching me bawl my eyes out and hoping I'd grab that shred of thread dangling from the end of my rope. I'm sure He wanted to say, "Don't give up! You are actually going to have a house full of boys! I have things planned you can't even imagine!"

 

 

"Almost all decorating involves odd numbers-most often, the number 3." -Victoria Solomon, SheKnows Expert, "9 Interior-Design Rules to Live By"

*Three Wishes is a real store. I bought loads of wool roving there for needle felting. It was like time traveling back to the Renaissance. There was a functioning spinning wheel, giant faux sheep, walls of rainbow-colored wool, and nooks and crannies stuffed with notions and samples.

The Sundance Catalog had a giant, decorative brass heart stamped with HEUREUX POUR TOUJOURS. I really wanted it as a symbol for my life. It sold out before I could afford it. C'est la vie. I also got a little crazy a week ago and ordered a $200 authentic bison skull as a belated anniversary gift for Greg. It was advertised as a "bulletin on the plains." Pioneers used to write on bison skulls (and rocks, and anything else that would preserve a memo) when they were traveling. Stuff like "Walked 15 miles today, survived the pass, here we are." I was going to write the dates our three children were born on the bison skull and hang it in our future bedroom. You know, as a marital trophy to say, "Walked 19 years, got three kids, survived some crazy stuff and here we finally are and we rock and our life kicks booty and I love you." I also like the symbolism of being "equally yoked" in marriage. Then the bison skull arrived. It had three faults: monstrously oversized, creepy, and stinky. The bison face made my soul shiver. Bison teeth are no joke. I had a vision of the skull falling off the wall and landing on our sleeping heads and cracking our own skulls. But the teeth! So jaggedy and huge. Like square chainsaws. No way I could rest under that thing. So back it went, return shipping and all. It was a nice thought.

Tuesday
Jul262016

iExam

 

I am almost done being pregnant. Forever. (I think.) It's a good thing since I have 6 tums left in my Costco-sized jar. Close call! I cried as we drove to the hospital to have Archer because I was going to miss his kicks and wiggles inside of me. I’m not crying with this one. Get him out. It has been nice having Wolverine titanium nails for several months. They make up for the swollen feet, nausea, tossing and turning, facial melasma, heartburn, and emotional Russian roulette. #differentpregnancy #forty #notthesameastwenty

Pops taught me how to properly cut and blend Archer’s hair. Jen T gave me the tip to give him a dum dum while I cut. One precision toddler haircut + one hairy sucker = Archer no longer looks like a street urchin. And I got to cross something off of my list! Where would I be without visiting teachers and sugar?

The Olympics are coming up. Between that, American Ninja Warrior, and Beat Bobby Flay I will have plenty to watch during the first month of recovery. And maybe I won’t cry as hard in the Proctor & Gamble mom commercials because my hormones will have regulated a bit.

RE sends me Pinterest pins and funny texts. It’s fun to see her evolving. On Saturday I told her it was our last Saturday before baby would arrive, ergo I would take her anywhere she wanted including Nordstrom Bistro for berry shortcake and garlic flatbread. She raised her eyebrow. You’ll do anything I want? Yes. I want to deep clean the fridge and freezer. But we can get massages and go to Paper Source, too. No, the fridge. And so we did. That girl is one in a million.

Archer can eat independently with lidless cups and big boy silverware. Watching him eat oatmeal in the morning sun often melts my heart. He’s so innocent and I’m amazed at how motor skills are formed. I know I sound ridiculous.

The plum tree we planted when RE was born is now 15 years old and shades the entirety of the front yard. I have spent the summer in that shade watching Archer play with bowls of water, his Cozy Coupe, and rocks. There has been a breeze most of the time. It has felt good, like watching an old home movie in slow motion except I’m watching it live.

A plastic frog is floating in my soapy hand wash water and a stegosaurus is napping in Lucy’s bowl. I step on Hot Wheels multiple times a day. I pick them up while Greg is up at the church parking lot teaching RE to drive. Our age span comforts me; it will keep us young.

Our home is finally being built. Now that the ball is rolling I don’t think about it. It is progressing without me; I can think of other things. The cranial open space feels good.

I’ve been too big for a table massage for months but Ruth has continued to do foot rubs and scalp massages on me “beached whale style” (me sideways on every pillow she owns). She is such a dear.

I found a flame orange maternity dress at Target at Week 34. My favorite color on earth has helped me feel as beautiful as a Chinese poppy this last hard month.

Archer wipes off kisses and likes his back scratched underneath his shirt. This is where my titanium nails come in handy. We do a giggle-guaranteed rendition of Eensy Weensy Spider on his bony spine.

Both my parents and Greg’s parents are alive and well. I am thankful to have them. It would be hard to have a baby and not have one of your parents around to witness it. I like linking our links.

We got a mailer from Highlights magazine with a sample page of hidden pictures. I jokingly told RE she couldn’t play with friends until she found the hidden pictures. An hour later we were both searching for the elusive pencil and fishing hook. When Greg got home from work we summoned his help and fresh eyeballs. He said he’d help after dinner. At 11:40 pm we found them. I think it took so long because we were slap happy. Nothing else was accomplished that day yet it remains one of my favorite summer memories.

I love cows. I thank them for milk. I am still a pregnant milk addict. I can’t drink enough of it. It’s a tough call to declare which I love more: milk or air conditioners.

Speaking of air conditioning: Greg points the left vent and both center vents of his truck on his face. He closes the far right vent and cranks the temperature down. This makes it so when I get in the driver’s seat (which I really try to avoid) I look like a vixen from an 80’s music video.

RE sleeps horizontally on her spacious queen mattress where the pillows should go. She wedges herself next to the wall on top of her bedspread and covers herself with a sofa throw because she doesn’t want to make her bed in the morning. Archer sleeps parallel to the short side of his crib with his legs poking through the rails. My kids are great sleepers but odd ducks.

I waited in line twenty minutes at the PO just to buy pretty floral stamps. I am so sick of the self-serve kiosk Forever stamps with Linus and the snowy mailbox. Federal Government: it’s almost August. No more Linus! I killed precious time for vibrant, illustrated stamps no one will think twice about but they matter to me. I will mail baby thank you cards with wintry Forever stamps over my dead body.

And...drumroll...I can eat feta again in two days! Glory, glory, hallelujah!


"Focus on the Good" wooden postcard purchased at a Solvang, California bakery over spring break. I need reminders. 


"WHAT WE SEE DEPENDS MAINLY ON WHAT WE LOOK FOR."  –John Lubbock

Friday
Jul082016

Honk

RE gave the family night lesson on encouraging each other from "The Sense of a Goose." She printed little geese and wrote "honks" for us on them. I'm glad my daughter honks for me. It makes it easier to honk for her. It would stink if my kid didn't honk for me. I mean, she has about a 1% understanding of all I've done for her and all I would do for her. Parents deserve honks, even if we stink at parenting now and then. In fact, when I mess up is when I need a honk the most. It's the same for goslings, too.