Monday, June 5, 2017

B's Birth Story

Last time it took me a month to write out my birth story - this time little B baby is just a day old and I'm already keen to get it written out, which goes to show you how different the two labours were (and how different it is to have a second baby)! My first labour was 4 days of labour, my second was 2 days. 20 minutes of pushing the first time, 8 minutes this time. The first time the pain felt it would last forever, as the days continued. This time, it all felt manageable and ordered somehow. From start to finish, this labour was proof that the second birth is often easier. Let me tell you about it.

Edited to add: Ironically, I am only now finishing this a month after little B made her way into our lives. Started out so strong, haha. 

Edited to add again: even worse, I finished the post but then took 4.5 months to get the photos uploaded to post #lifewithtwokids #momlife

My due date was Sunday, December 11th. Not much happened in the days following my due date. My Auntie Sandy came on Thursday the 8th. She was amazing. She cooked our dinners and took care of Avie in the day so I could work and rest. It was amazing. I felt so loved and cared for. During this time I had steady Braxton Hicks but no real contractions. Then on Friday the 16th I woke up with contractions about 10 minutes apart. Throughout the day they continued this way. Sandy left by 2pm, and I was scheduled to pick up Paul's mom at 3pm at the airport. Only an hour without additional help. Thankfully around 2:30pm Paul's sister Katie appeared to help, which I was most thankful for with the contractions continuing. We drove to the airport to pick Nancy up. Then we picked up Paul. We headed out for hearty German food for Paul's bday. We enjoyed schnitzel and spaetzle, beer and wine (non-alcoholic beer for me), through contractions, still 10 minutes apart. Eventually, we headed home and I was able to sleep all night. Contractions were 10 minutes apart through the night but not so painful that I couldn't sleep through them. It was only when I would wake up to pee that I would notice the contractions.

Out at dinner - last pregnancy selfie!

Cuddles after dinner with my first born

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Bailey's Newborn Photoshoot

I have a really talented friend, and a really cute baby. When these two things collide it makes for a great photoshoot and some fabulous pictures. These were taken when Bailey was just 10 days old. 

Avie and Bailey

The girls

Bailey and Dad - also Bailey looks like an old man here

Sweet sweet Bailey

Those hands!

Our new little family - two blondes, a beard and pigtails. 

So much love

Also! I blogged a while back about how to transition the room. So here we go - Avie's new floor bed in the closet. All the heart eyes. 

Avie in her big girl closet bed

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Saturday, December 31, 2016

The second Baby Morgan has arrived!

Here we are again - announcing another new baby. Bailey Lee Anne is here! She's sweet and cute and basically everything a baby should be. Avie arrived on the 17th of the month, and Bailey arrived on the 18th - the symmetry makes me happy. Plus her initials spell BLAM which is just fun.

She beat her big sister - labour was only 2 days start to finish, rather than 4 and the pushing time was also cut in half - woot. She arrived early Sunday morning, December 18th, at 6:30am. Paul got to deliver her, as he did with Avie, and that always adds to a very special moment.

She is named Bailey, because we like it. It seems to mean an outer or inner wall in a castle or court. Very deep meaning, this one. Her first middle name is Lee - for my Grandma Lee (short for Lena), my sister (Jenna Lee) and my Aunt (Sandra Lee). Turns out Lee also has a very spiritual meaning; it means "the sheltered side; the side away from the wind; shelter from wind or weather." Her second middle name is Anne (for my Aunt, Lesley Anne) and it turns out a few of my or Paul's cousins have Anne in their names as well. The Anne has an E because of Anne of Green Gables - how could I not? This meaning is a bit deeper at least, "Favour or grace. God has favoured me."

This whole second kid thing is both better and easier, but also harder. Thankfully we have had much family around to help. We had my Aunt here the week up until her birth to help me with Avie and to cook for us - and then we had Paul's mom here from my first day of labour until the 26th. She cleaned my closets and cupboards, got up with Avie each morning and cared for her so we could sleep when Bailey slept and eat when Bailey ate. The first day without help was the 26th - we realized with a shock to our system that we would have to be with Bailey in the night AND Avie in the morning. What? Actual, full, parenting? Ok. Thankfully Avie is doing this new thing where she sleeps until 5am or 6am one morning, and 8:30am the next morning. So the early mornings Paul gets up with her (since I'm up with Bailey in the night), and the mornings she sleeps in, we all sleep. So that's good. Lots of love and cuddles and hugs in general, and lots of crying and diaper changes and kid wrangling. 

And lastly, a sneak peak of our newborn / family photo shoot with Paraphrase Photos. I snapped this while Laura worked - she is, as always, a fabulous photographer. She makes us all comfortable and captures beautiful moments.

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

When grief continues

Fall 2013

Often I've written about my family's journey with Alzheimer's. My mom has had this disease since roughly 2003; though it's really been affecting us in real ways since about 2009. You can read more about my mom and this journey hereherehereherehere, here and here. I've been the writer in the family, but I got that ability from somewhere and as I read a recent email from my Dad, I realized he was who I got that gift from! He'd written an email about another level of grief that he was working through this week, and with his permission, I'd like to share what he had to say. 

Christmas 2015

Well, today was one for the books. It caught me off guard. About 1.5 years ago, I cleaned out all of Robin's clothes...ones that didn't hold any particular memories for us. I thought I had rounded the corner on this grief contraire.  Yesterday I decided that today was going to be a Sally-Ann day and recycle Robin's remaining clothes. 

I opened her closet and immediately saw the dress that her step-Mom bought her just before Jenna was married. Robin wore that to countless choir performances...I choked up with sadness. I couldn't do it.  So I went to the drawers with all her remaining tops. More sadness! There were 'achievement' tops like the 900th exercise  session T-shirt at Curves and the T-shirts from when she put on Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat . Countless tops representing so many memorable trips together. There were celebration tops, many special holiday tops, special event tops and tops that just looked so great on Robin...never again to be worn. More sadness. But I kept going. Then the underwear drawer with the 'special' ones - ones that Robin chose especially for us. More sadness. 

I finally worked up the courage to go back to the closet. The mother-of-the-bride dress, one of the first two Yofi creation dresses I bought Robin in Victoria before we were married, the two "quintessentially Robin" purple & dark red overcoats that she always wore in the winter and the white Christmas overly-decorated vest. Too many memories of our precious marriage were heading off for someone else to enjoy but with none of the heart associations. 

But I did what I needed to do...they will now belong to someone else. I couldn't keep them for fear I'd have to go through what I'm feeling now, again. I don't want to go through this again. I hope it was right to take them away. 

After I dropped them off I came home to have a snooze in my recliner but all I could do was lay back, remember and weep. So I decided that I'd walk to Granville Island...a happy place for me. That's where I am now, writing this difficult message and the tears continue to flow. When will it ever end? 

But these aren't wasted tears...Jesus is remembering all of them; and weeps with me. Grief lessons flood before me giving me solace, hope, gratitude to Daddy for being with me always and continually reminding of what He's doing in and through me because of the grief...and I continue to Praise Him. I'm reminded over & over again that he's chosen me to walk this road with Jesus to bring honour, & glory to Him and I'm honoured to do so. So please pray for me/us. I can't tell you what to pray because I don't know...but the Holy Spirit does. 

I am so thankful for a Dad that can share his emotions - that isn't afraid to tell his daughters where his heart is hurting, and wants to share that, to draw us all closer as a family. Pray for us - Saturday is my Mom's 63rd birthday - we didn't think she'd be alive for that number and in many ways, it feels like she isn't truly alive for it. This tension of grief and waiting is so hard to process. 
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Monday, November 28, 2016

When the government returns your husband

Written November 30th

My husband is home! After 13 days away he returned to us - amid shouts of "Daddy" from Avie as the taxi pulled up. After a long afternoon of Braxton Hicks and back pain, I was feeling tired and anxious. I asked Jamie (one of the girls who lives with us) to watch Avie so I could shower; fully prepared to get clean and have a good cry. As I headed upstairs my phone buzzed with a text from Paul; "Baby, I'm coming home!!" Never have I been so happy to get a text from Paul. I stuck with my plan of a shower and a good cry, but this way, it was tears of relief. Being Paul, he let all the other jurors get in taxi's first but he was home within an hour of that first text. 

Waiting for the taxi to arrive

The biggest question Paul and I keep getting asked, "would you do it again?" The answer is a resounding, "probably." For Paul, he values civic responsibility greatly. While it wouldn't be something he entered lightly, and he would weigh the cost on our family, he would most likely do it again. He grew in many ways and learned so much, especially about himself. He would also encourage others to go through this. This is part of the system that keeps us safe, that stands for justice. 

For me, I would say that while the timing sucked in many ways, this was also a time of growth for me, as well as for Paul. This time showed me yet again how my community will rise up to support and encourage me. I learned that I am far more capable than I give myself credit for. I got to watch the students in our home love and support me and Avie - emotionally and practically. I got to see God meet my emotional and practical needs. It made for a sweet time of reconnection with my husband. 

Lunch downtown with Paul the next day

It also was a time that made for some fun stories between us. Of passing clothes back and forth (what a treat to collect dirty laundry from a Sheriff), of the messages we could send back and forth between each others and the Sheriff's. On top of that, Paul had figured out early on that if he spent money at dinner (by buying a beer) it would alert my phone so I could see where he was and feel connected - I loved hearing that he was buying beer mostly just so I would see that. It was fun to hear about the meals they ate and how tired he was of eating out (he made me feel so loved by saying how much he missed my cooking). Of course, Paul can't talk about the deliberations at all. In Canada the jurors can only talk about that which is public record. Basically, the things they learned during the course of the trial that are public, he can discuss (like what the case was, etc) but nothing more. Paul is most definitely a rule follower, so he sticks to that religiously.

Avie and Paul reunited and so at peace together - my heart was so full in this moment.

One of the biggest things that happened during this time was the growth I got to see in my husband. There were some things about him that I have been praying for him for the last while - that he would understand certain things about himself. There are many things I love and respect about him that I was praying he'd be able to grasp about himself. During this time he learned many of these things about himself. I watched him thrive under the weight of the responsibility of the justice system, and the expectations there. He came back sobered and stretched, knowing himself and his strengths better. It has been a gift to see in him. I am so thankful for that. 

This was simultaneously one of the hardest experiences of my life, and one of the biggest blessings. We learned so much about ourselves individually and got to see our community support us both in different ways. I am glad we had this experience - I am proud of my husband for his service to the justice system here - and I am so so so happy to have him home.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Pretty Bathroom Organization

One thing that's been true abut me forever is that I keep pretty things clean, and I get overwhelmed in clutter. Before we moved my ensuite was fairly organized but not overly pretty. It was enough to keep me from getting overwhelmed but definitely didn't make my heart sing in any way. I was excited when we moved to our new place because the bathroom is way bigger and not only has a nice large vanity, but also a nice big cabinet to store stuff. I have been able to place some things out on the counter but leave most in the cabinet. The lack of clutter on the counter top has been great for my sanity - and for our marriage. Paul likes things tidy. Not pretty, just tidy. We had people who helped us unpack when we moved in, so the bathroom things were in the cabinet but they weren't organized and they definitely weren't pretty. This weekend Paul was away hunting so Saturday night once Avie (and her cousins, who were here for a sleepover) were asleep, I tackled the space!

First, I cleared it out. Then I wiped it down and organized all my items on the floor into types and PURGED. Once that was done it was time to start making things pretty.

I have tons of wrapping paper so I went and picked the girliest floral wrap with hints of gold (love). I measured and cut and then used double sided tape to stick the paper to the back of the wall. I loved how it immediately made the space feminine and special.

I also took a trip with Avie to Bellingham. We hit up the Postal Center, Costco, Trader Joes AND the kids' consignment store. But my heart was really captivated by our TJ Maxx stop. I was looking for pretty and useful containers. I had great success. I found a perfect dish to hold my pendants (that I string onto necklaces, depending on what I want to wear), a lovely marble dish (I loved the idea of the strength of marble, against the floral background) and a great little jewelry box (that I won't use to store valuable jewelry, since I don't have any, but I will hide random crap in it!).  I'd also bought a gorgeous Antler stand to hang things on a few months ago when I started dreaming about this space. Then I looked around the house for other things that I had - the cake stand I used in the last bathroom, a tiered stand that I used in my last kitchen but doesn't have a home here, a fun turquoise box I'd bought for our women's retreat, and a plastic container that I'd been using in Avie's room but no longer needed there.

After I had things generally corralled and in place, it was time to make storage for my necklaces. I had a 24 pack of command strip hangers that I'd grabbed at Costco a while back and a plan was set! I spaced out 9 hangers on both sides and then slowly hung my necklaces by type. Eventually, I found two big wide necklaces that I realized would look best hung on the back wall. I knew I couldn't hang much there because it would be held up by the paper, rather than the actual wall, but I figured I could get away with just two. I reinforced the back of it with more double sided tape (paper to wall) and then placed them. I loved the way it looked!

And there you have it. It's pretty. It's organized. And I've gone into the bathroom to look at it approximately 1000 times in the past days. Also, it took me a month to "edit" these terrible photos. I can happily report that this system has stayed in place perfectly, continued to bring me great joy and looks better in person.
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Thursday, November 24, 2016

Dressing Bump #2, Weeks 33-36

Lately my body has been more sore than usual, so getting dressed is an interesting mix of fun and tiring. I still find that I feel better overall if I look pulled together, but days of sweatpants and comfy clothes are also very appealing! I've also been working more from home, trying to get ahead on my work so that I can take a month off when baby comes - those days I'm looking for an outfit that is comfy and just the right temperature (not too hot, or too cold) but also pulled together enough that I don't feel like I'm lazing around the house. If I wear sloppy clothes then I don't feel like working, so I need to be a bit pulled together. AND in all of this I was away on a girls trip to Victoria with some lovely women (and my also super preggo sister) so I wanted to look nice while I was away.

Comparing bumps


Lunch with Nana and Auntie Lesley

Fan Tan Alley with Lydia and Dina

Last pregnancy, at this time, Avie's room was totally ready, I was done work for the year AND I had a pretty chill schedule. This time I'm working hard to get ahead on work, I'm still pulling the room together (though if baby came tomorrow, we'd basically be able to make it work - Avie's floor bed doesn't need to be ready until new baby is a couple months old) and I'm spending my days looking after a toddler / doing more with Paul on jury duty and trying to keep up with life. I need to remember to make more time to slow down.

1. Ripped black skinnies, maternity T + jean jacket. Easy. 2. Wrap dress, non maternity. 3. Slouchy sweater (that I only like when I'm pregnant, from the Latest Scoop). 4. Favorite maroon skinnies, ankle boots that still fit, plain white T, and denim shirt. 5. Black skinnies, grey T and button up with vest. 6. Skinnies, rain boots, Jessica Simpson maternity top and cacoon cardi.
1. Slouchy sweater with skinnies and boots. 2 / 3. Stripes, skinnies and pendant necklace. 4. Comfy skinny sweats and a black t. 5. Black T and skinnies with pendant necklace. 

Work is an interesting thing - I never thought I'd be someone that chose to work during what could have been maternity leave. In Canada, we are so lucky to have a year off of work - paid (at 55% of your wage, roughly). I have paid in to this system my whole working life and always intended to take full advantage of it. Then I started a job that was basically my dream job. I work as the Operations Manager for my church and I love it. I over see the finances, and manage all the administration. I also get to prioritize relationships with people that I love - and work closely with a group of people who already had my heart. [I've written about my love affair with the church here] On top of that it would be a lot of work to train someone to do my job when I'm barely just learning to understand it all. This is a new position created with me in mind, so it's tricky to think of handing it off for a time - and thankfully I don't really have to. Paul will be taking 3 months of Paternity leave (his company tops up the government contribution, giving him 85% of his wage) to take over house and baby/kid stuff so that I can focus on feeding the newborn, sleeping and working. He'll be on Avie duty, house duty and other new baby duty once she's fed. We'll both get some naps in and keep everything ticking along. It's also amazing the timing of this baby - mid to late December would have already been slow times for work so it's easy to step out basically totally for those two weeks, and I'm working on prepping everything now for early January so that I can be pretty low key in my involvement for that time period also. Extra work now, for a sweet payoff then. I should be able to make a whole month of time for new baby. I'm really curious to see how this all plays out for us but so far it seems like it's going to work well. I'm thankful for such a supportive husband who is totally into this - especially since he really values my job. It's the first job I've ever had that has been a perfect fit. It is a job that thrills my heart and plays to my strengths and gives me victory in my day to day life. I love it. What a feeling! I'll let you know how this whole things plays out though - it's definitely going to be different than our day to day right now. We've never both been home for an extended time.

Avie as a lady bug and me as Miley Cyrus' Wrecking Ball

 My cute girl

Smiles at breaky!

While Jenna and I were in Victoria, our husbands took our kids to the Oregon Coast. This made for some amazing photos. See proof below:

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