About itisnotego

I am a 33 year old mother of two boys living the dream with my husband by the grace of our Savior. I was raised by two wild hippies and work in HR at a state university. I am a pretty happy person and enjoy coffee, snuggling with my menfolk or my pup, cooking, and all sorts of natural living. If I can pray for you, please do not hesitate to ask. It would be my honor. I barely have the time to write. This is not to glorify a busy life, but to say I work hard at being less busy so I let non essential things go with the wind. xoxo

On Recurrent Miscarriage

This morning I passed the gestational sac and fetal pole that could have grown into my third earthside baby.

While this pregnancy was completely unplanned and a bit of a shock, there was never any question in our mind as to whether the child was wanted. Of course we wanted the child. And so we began dedicating ourselves to figuring out how to make it work. This was hard word, humbling work, vulnerable work, and it was paying off in spades. Things were going so unnaturally well that I sat at a familiar crossroads and made the decision to not wait for the other shoe to drop. I leaned into the perfection of it all as a sign that this baby was divinely planned, with a purpose and a reassurance.

Then all the damn bad news started.
I have been struggling with feeling angry towards myself. Isn’t this exactly why I get nervous when my life feels too settled, too easy, too meant to be? Haven’t I learned my lesson that big ugly things are sort of par for the course in my timeline?
My toddlers and I are fairly emotionally in sync right now…

For me, the hardest part about talking about this miscarriage isn’t sharing that I had a miscarriage. I’m not ashamed of it and it’s always been something I have felt strongly about giving a voice to, for my sisters in struggle and in honor of my child that wasn’t able to stay.
The hardest part is anticipating the reactions, because this is tough stuff for ALL of us, right? The death of a wanted child isn’t something that anyone I associate with would take lightly. So I absolutely acknowledge how awkward it can feel as we search for words for events where words can never be enough.

So you can click here for pretty much the best article ever written on what to do after someone has had a miscarriage.

Our baby’s name is Ren, if you were wondering. We don’t know the sex of the baby, and do not choose to elect a gender. Ren means water lily or lotus, and these flowers are powerful symbols of enlightenment and perfection in many cultures. We believe that all life is perfect, even when it cannot sustain on earth, and are honored to hold this name in our hearts and on our tongues for this baby.

And I AM okay, physically.
And I WILL BE okay, mentally.
And I know that even after reading that article, many of you still just want me to tell you what we “need”. We just need your support. And that can look like a loving thought, a hug, a lit candle, a visit, a meal, a text, a picture of penguins being super adorable, whatever. That’s up to you (re: article) and we are not keeping score.

We are just eternally thankful to have cultivated an environment where we do not have to sit alone in this. So thank you, and if you are in this struggle with me, please know that you are not alone.

 

 

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Let it be today.

I think of blog posts all the time. I write them in my head on the way to/from work.

But I have been working so hard at letting go that which glorifies the busy, which takes away from the scant amount of time I have with my boys, which doesn’t fill my cup and though I love this blog, finding time to write in it hasn’t been easy.

But the intranet is down and I have been working on a blog post (in my head) for about two months and hey, I guess I’m ready to sit down and see what I can type out today.

Community.

When I became a mother, most of my child free friends scattered like the wind. Heartbreaking is an understatement and, after years of being in mommy communities, I am sad to say that this is the case more often than not. Anyway, I went searching for a community, a group, a tribe. I put on as many hats as I could, fell into connection anytime there was an opportunity, and two really lonely postpartum periods later I can say that I went about this all wrong.

I am a people person. I love to give when I can. I love to make meals, help out, listen, hold space – you name it. And while I am strong enough in myself to know when I cannot do these things, I still held the expectation that community means supporting others AND being supported.

It does not.

Community is all about what you can give.
Consumerism is all about what you can get.

Mixing the two is unhealthy. Though I do not believe I am co-dependent, I see many people in many communities who are. They give of themselves at the expense of their family or their own happiness/comfort. When you do this, how can you ever feel that the actions of others will match up? You cannot. It’s a trap. A very unhealthy trap that only seeds toxicity in your heart.

But God wants us to give until it hurts, right? I don’t think so. I think that self-care is crucial and BIBLICAL.

If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. (1 Corinthians 3:17)

YOU ARE THAT TEMPLE. It is that simple, but just in case you didn’t get it the first time:

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6: 19-20)

You have to fuel yourself in order to fuel others. How can you ever hope to truly give of yourself if there is none of yourself to give? If you are scraps, hanging on by a thread, what quality of yourself can you give? There’s simply not an award for the person who gives at their own expense, so stop doing it.

Instead, fill yourself up. Be your own community. Spend time with those who are quality, caring individuals who know to fill up their own cups, too. Embrace those that come into your lives realizing that, as the metaphor goes, some will be leaves and others branches and others roots. Enjoy every person who touches your life in any of these fashions, and if you part take heart in your good memories.
If something is done for you, do not ask WHY NOT MORE? Do not compare what your brothers and sisters have been given for you do not know the whole story.
DO allow yourself to be sad, if you truly find yourself alone. Depression is serious and this is not to say that you cannot be hurt or upset. However, you can and should take action in this as well. If you do not have the support teeming from all around you, you must seek out support so that you can find the strength to fill your own cup and start over.

I have spent a lot of time mourning relationships that were not as deep as I thought they were, but this sadness has not brought me anything special or unique. It has only asked me to harden myself, which I whole heartedly reject. Instead, I will lean in to relationships as they develop and stand my sacred ground. I am here to be me, and to enjoy with others who value the me that I am.

I love giving and I absolutely support breathing into your community when you can. For you, perhaps this means community organizations over friendships. There isn’t anything wrong with that unless you are burning out and your heart is elsewhere. For you, perhaps this means taking things off of your plate so that you can have dinner once every few weeks with a friend or two. Whatever it is you decide, be solid in your decisions. Do not feel pressure to serve what is not serving you BUT do not keep score.

Life is busy for all of us. I will leave you today with my current mantra:

I embrace and welcome those who come into my life.
I honor and remember those who walk outside of my life.
I am grateful for my spirit that guides me to self-care and servitude for others
I love my dynamic community and will engage my most authentic self within it
I accept that which is meant for me and release that which does not bring light to my path

Wishing you love and light,

Erika

The Birth of Emrys Blue Dixon

I knew he would come sooner than later.

I had an inkling that something special would happen on the night of the Honey Moon, also referred to as the Strawberry Moon. I wasn’t incorrect. A beautiful baby boy did join this world that night, but just not mine.

Every day past that felt heavy. I hadn’t even hit 40 weeks but my heart felt that it was time. In retrospect, I could have been in a very quiet and subdued type of prodromal labor. I would get mini peaks of sensation, but nothing like the days before Connor’s birth. My impatience was palpable and, when murmurs the following Tuesday evening fell flat again, I just decided I was just done with it. I would probably just stay pregnant FOREVER so I should just get used to it. (#dramamajorforlife)

And of course, though it wasn’t a very grace filled moment, letting go meant progress. I went to work on Wednesday. My midwife checked in with me. I told her I was okay. I was sort of over the anticipation and just going with the flow. I worked a normal shift and came home and made dinner. I felt some contractions and accepted them for what they were and moved on with my life and went to sleep. I woke up, per usual, to pee and in tandem with contractions. This had been happening so it wasn’t that big of a deal. Unlike previous nights, I didn’t even check the clock. I just went back to sleep – over and over – until I wondered why my alarm hadn’t gone off yet. I’d been up so many times. Wasn’t it nearly time to get ready for work?

No. Not even. Not by hours. It’s only 3AM. So I just sit there for a while and contractions are coming a little quicker. Around 3:30 I start timing them. By 4:20 AM they are roughly a minute long and 5 minutes apart and have been so for about 30 minutes. It’s time, I know, and so I make the call to the midwife (Yvonne), at 4:30 AM. She calls my montrice and doula (Taryn and Brandy, respectively). My husband calls Connor’s Godmother, Shannan. I sent a group text to a pre-made list of special souls. I breathe and tear up a little as Joseph changes our “thankfulness” board to reflect this blessing that will grow our family.

Things from here until people get there, less than an hour later, get a little hazy. I remember putting on the gown we bought for Connor’s birth. I thought that was a good idea but as soon as I put it on I had uncomfortable hospital vibes. I remember trying a few things until I settle on something comfortable enough. I remember Joseph figuring out that the birth pool we rented didn’t have all the plugs and working a substitution out with our birth team. I remember pulling out the dry snacks for the birth team’s easy access. And other than contractions, that’s pretty much it until people start showing up.

I don’t remember who got there first. I think Yvonne. I’m really not certain. But they all show up in quick form. Joseph is getting Connor ready for school. Brandy, calls the birth photographer – Tavia Redburn. Taryn is working on the birth pool. Yvonne is assessing my baselines and asking me questions. I remember bits and pieces of these moments. At some point, someone mentions the groaning cake. [I had wanted to make a groaning cake during labor] I sort of shrug it off because I do not feel like grating apples, which I thought would be difficult. The birth team moves into action. ‘We’re making that groaning cake’ is the message I receive. They’re quick in the kitchen and we’re working out substitutions for a few things I don’t have on hand. I get this sense from them that, while there is not a whole lot that they can guarantee, this is one thing we have full control over and we are not passing this up.
I really loved this because I had envisioned this amazing dish I would whip up for everyone while in labor. I absolutely love that it didn’t turn out this way, that I had to give in fairly quickly (#themeoftheday). I love that these amazing women prepped and baked me not one but two groaning cakes – two deeply nourishing breads that would help sustain me with healthy energy during my labor. I remember thinking that this was *exactly* the type of environment I preferred to have my baby in and I think that’s beautiful. I put so much stock (and not just chicken! #rimshot) into my kitchen. It was the most heavily criticized room during our house hunting and the main selling point for our current home. My most happy day-to-day memories often involve the kitchen. Food brings people together. Food happens when people are brought together. I love cooking for others and cooking with others. How fitting that this journey should begin in this way.
It just really felt magical. And right. It felt magical, and right, and safe, and sacred, and JOYFUL. My birth team was in the kitchen cooking for me because it’s part of how I envisioned my birth. AND THEN THEY CLEANED EVERYTHING UP. Do you get this? I mean, seriously hospitals, you don’t even have a chance and we JUST STARTED.

At some point near the end of this, Shannan shows up. She works with Joseph to get Connor off to school. At some point during that, Tavia shows up. Things have been relatively slow moving and Joseph and Shannan get back and we decide that Shannan will stay. Everyone that I expect to be there is now there. It’s roughly 7 AM. The birth pool feels GOOD. It’s warm and lovely. It helps dull the contractions. We’re taking staged pictures with our giant Darth Vadar doll because we’re awesome and that’s what awesome people do. Contractions start picking up a little around 7:30 and a little after that I hear Yvonne say “after this next contraction, we’re going to get out of the pool for a minute and move”. Cool. I got this.
She moves me to the bathroom and wants me to sit backwards on the toilet. No prob. I know this is an effective move, though we didn’t have the space to do this with Connor at Lakeside so I’d never done it before. Things got real really fast with that move, and I am thankful for my midwife’s encouragement through this part of my labor. I don’t know that anyone outside of Joseph and her were in the room with me, but if they were I wasn’t aware of it. This was definitely centering and “let’s get this party started” type of stuff.

I walked around for a little after this before getting back in the birth pool. Everyone is supporting me with kind words and gentle touch and I feel very safe. Brandy is coaching me towards my goal of a pushless birth, which is not really going as well as planned. I’m making progress, but the struggle is real. The pain is significantly more intense than with Connor and I have issues with maintaining control. Yvonne is working to keep me nourished and focused. Taryn is encouraging me while monitoring vitals for me and baby. I’m switching positions fairly often and trying to breathe baby down but I can’t get comfortable. The contractions are coming faster and much harder than I could have imagined. It hurts, but more than that is the fact that the contractions are so much faster than Connor’s birth that I do not have some luxurious down time to prepare between them.
Initially, when I looked back at this time I was disappointed in myself. I felt like I whined too much, fought them all too strongly, and gave in to the discomfort by battling it and over-vocalizing. I felt like I had an ugly transition. I remember almost having a panic attack when Yvonne was trying to guide my hand to show me how close baby was. I remember thinking “OH MY WORD. SHE WANTS ME TO PUT MY TWO FINGERS IN WITH HERS? I WILL DIE OF PAIN.” You know, totally losing sight of the fact that I was okay with pushing a CHILD out of the same place. And while I absolutely never for a moment thought about medicinal pain relief, I was just disappointed at being lost in the struggle.
Now, 11 weeks later, I don’t really feel this way. True, I didn’t have this zen blissed out birth I had internally prepped for, but I am not a zen blissed out person. I am a warrior. I am a fighter. I do not back down. These are my faults and my strengths and I was ashamed of them because they made me loud. I didn’t want to be loud. But I AM loud – vocally, spiritually, emotionally – I just exist loudly. So when I look back on my transition, I feel that I lost sight of the present in an effort to fight away the “different” that was happening. I wanted to birth in the water, to breathe my baby into the water and have my husband scoop baby up like the opening scene of the Lion King. But this wasn’t happening, and I needed to let go, to give in (#themeoftheday).

There’s this moment I had in transition that I would talk about to my close friends who I worked through processing my birth with. I would tell them that Brandy held my face and wanted me to open my eyes and look at her. I would say that I finally did, begrudgingly, and that she said something I couldn’t exactly remember but that her message was clear “I love you, but I need you to get your sh** together.”
When I told Brandy about this moment, she just stared at me for a minute. “You didn’t open your eyes,” she said. She had asked me to, but I refused. So Brandy set her head against mine and thought “I love you, so I really hope I don’t have to tell you to get your sh** together.” (paraphrased)
Man, I still get chills thinking about this. When I mentioned it to Joseph, he seemed relieved. He had remembered me not opening my eyes and was pretty sure we did not have the conversation I kept talking about. But as I kept citing it as the pivotal moment of my labor, he wasn’t about to correct me.
I love this. I don’t think I could be any more in love with this, even though it’s super freaky. And THIS is what I want to point to when I talk about uninhibited birth – a woman in an environment where her hormones move in the way that God intended, open to the universe He has created and empowered to give birth, to continue the species. I was so enmeshed in this greater energy that I was able to connect on a higher level with my doula. I was holding space with the divine feminine. I was – simply was.
So while I thought it was just her words that gave me this sense of power and peace in all things, I now know that it was that higher connection, that openness, that moment of synchronicity with more than we routinely conceptualize (AND her words+energy). I still needed my birth team, of course, but I became more receptive to their support. They told me I needed to get out of the water and so I did. I sat on the birth stool just a few paces out and not even 15 minutes later I was holding Emrys. I remember hearing something in my midwife’s voice when she said “I need you to birth this baby now, Erika” that didn’t scare me at all. I knew it was true, her words rung deep in my soul. I didn’t stop to think “I wonder what is wrong”. I had no fear, only the knowledge that I needed to call upon the deepest parts of myself to get my baby out immediately. And so I roared and, in true primal fashion, birthed my second son into this world.
His cord had been wrapped so tightly across his face and body that he was bruised. He was twisting and changing positions during birth to where Yvonne had to resolve his shoulder (and did so fabulously – I did not tear nor did I even know what she was doing at the time). Yvonne did coax Emrys out a little but Joseph was still able to catch him, which I know had been a very special wish of his the whole pregnancy.
I remember feeling a little spacey and knowing enough about birth to know that I was losing too much blood. Taryn was explaining to me that they had to cut the cord a little earlier than anticipated but that it had pulsed for a good amount of time and Yvonne was telling me that she needed me to deliver my placenta. I still didn’t know if I had a girl or a boy because Taryn and Brandy were trying to get me to pat him on the back hard enough to where he would vocalize. Yvonne tells Taryn to give me a shot of Pit and I’m thinking “Okay, I’m losing too much blood” but I feel safe. Yvonne’s telling me to open my mouth and hold this under my tongue or swallow that. I’m being moved to the bedroom, my uterus aggressively massaged. Brandy is coaching me through liquids and somehow gets me to down orange juice, which I hate, and Shannan is making me food. They’re trying to get me to pee. There’s the overwhelming smell of peppermint. I still can’t pee. They put me in the shower. I can’t pee and now I can’t stand. I’m back in the bed. They’re taking my vitals a lot. They’re talking about me in the other room. Joseph is holding Emrys. I can’t tell you how long this went on, but I can tell you that I was not scared. There was a moment I was concerned that they were going to transfer me to a hospital, but I wasn’t scared for my life because they weren’t scared. It reads sort of scary, perhaps, but it wasn’t that bad. It was just fast. I think it’s awesome that they were able to take care of things so quickly and efficiently and largely though homeopathic medicine and herbs.

Eventually things calm down, Emrys is nursing and Tavia is wrapping up with some shots. Taryn does the newborn vetting and Yvonne takes a good look at baby, while also taking care of me. My birth team is taking care of everything I can think of – more than I would have ever guessed. I mean EVERYTHING. Shannan was there to make me food but I’m willing to bet that, had she not been there, they would have taken care of that as well. Shannan leaves first, then Tavia, then Brandy a bit later. Taryn and Yvonne stay for a little bit longer to monitor me. I want to say that everyone is gone by about 4PM, about 4.5 hours after I gave birth. Not one person left without making sure I was taken care of – that things in the house are good and well set up.

Then it is just Joseph and Emrys and I – together in the house. We have a couple of hours before it’s time to get Connor and I ask if we can order a pizza. I just pushed a baby out so Joseph says “Yes, whatever you want.” It is glorious. The food you eat the first 12 hours or so after you give birth is pretty much the best food in the world, no matter what it is. I’m not sure if this is the oxytocin high or what, but it’s perfection.

So that’s it. This is the long winded story of the birth of my second son.

A lot of people have asked if my homebirth was what I wanted.
Yes, and so much more. In the days after Emrys’ birth, to be HOME was divine. My midwife and montrice kept tabs on me and dropped in at agreed upon times but care from these professionals is different from care from most OB/GYNS. For one, I have their cell phones. No one is bothering me at all hours of the night outside of my newborn. No one is giving me horrible misinformation about breastfeeding. And they’re asking me bigger questions, like how am I feeling about the birth, and I feel secure in the knowledge that I can answer truthfully and process openly.

I will always be glad that hospitals exist. I will always be thankful that OBs are trained surgeons and able to deliver babies via surgical means. Such techniques allow more mothers and babies to survive what would otherwise be possibly fatal experiences.
But that’s all I’m going to say about that. I am okay with saying that I regret having a hospital birth with Connor, given the absolutely amazing experience I had with Emrys. I am okay with saying that we do intend to continue to expand our family and it is a no brainer that we will continue to elect to birth at home. I feel fortunate that I have been blessed with low risk pregnancies that allow for me to make this choice with ease and I pray that we are continued with this blessing as we keep on keeping on. I loved birthing at home. It is magically, ya’ll. It is truly magical.

An open letter to my 11 month old son

Connor,

Time is moving too swiftly for my comfort. I want the days to slow down, except for the hours that I’m away from you at work. I want the seconds that I am with you to come to a near-halt. I want our time to never end. Ever. And I get that you’re “only” 11 months old but sweet baby Jesus, how did this time whiz by me so quickly?
I want to write down how I feel about you, right now:
You are so inquisitive. You are always interested in what is going on around you. You respond to the softest noise or touch with pure attention. It is making you such a smart boy. The things I watch you figure out are wondrous. You’re so willing to try anything and you trust your daddy and me to be there to comfort you if things don’t work out. You are so sweet, always sharing. You hate to see other babies cry and will move to them with a toy to share or put your tiny understanding hand on them in solidarity. You are strong, always showing us that after a quick hug session, you are ready to brush off your falls or trips and try again. You are loving. Your sweet baby kisses are what Heaven is made of, I am certain of it. Your hugs are like butter and when you wrap your tiny hand around my fingers or place it on my cheek, I am overwhelmed with awe. You are playful, always wanting to interact with us. You are a jokester and I rely on your bright smile to give my day depth.
I love it when you nurse. You love to put your leg up – sometimes with your foot near my collarbone (or in my throat!) and your hand on my face (or nose, or in my mouth, or slapping my cheek). It always relaxes you and your eyelids flutter as you fall asleep. Okay, so maybe I shouldn’t say always. Sometimes you barely have time to nurse, you are so interested in playing or in what’s around you.
I love it when you play with Jackie. You love her so much and she adores you. We adopted Jackie after we lost your brother, Noah, and so in many ways she is my original rainbow out of a very dark time. But I had just no idea how much I could love until I first held you.
I remember kissing your head, with vernix and blood all over it, repeatedly, after your birth. I remember daddy having to ask for his skin to skin time because I’d already kept you close to me for two hours. I remember not being able to sleep that first night because I could not stop staring at you.
I still have those moments where I cannot stop staring at you. I have all these moments where I think “holy goodness, I made a PERSON and he is so handsome and smart and loving and brave and kind and curious” that I cannot help but feel overwhelmed with emotion. I do not know what I have done to deserve you, but I am so glad that God gave you to me. Every part of myself that I have ever judged or hated or struggled with is redeemed in your presence. And if you can do all this in less than a year, I tremble at the thought of how you will help me grow in the next several decades.

I love you so much sweet pea. Here’s to the rest of our lives and all the space after that.

On Babies and Breastfeeding

Connor turned six months old yesterday. Ridiculous.

When I look back at the past half year, what I have to consider most is our breastfeeding relationship. I knew, from the start, that I wanted to exclusively breastfeed. I was pretty cocky. I have breast tissue in spades, I thought. It’s no big deal that they’re not growing. And besides, I have other things to research.

MERP said Murphy’s Law. This is what you’re going to have your biggest issue with so buckle in because it’s going to be one heck of a ride.

And it has been. It has been incredibly hard. He just kept losing weight. For three straight weeks, he lost weight. I searched frantically for donor milk but it wasn’t there. I reached out to midwive groups, milksharing groups, and everything I could think of in between. I got a lot of silence and felt like my problem wasn’t even being acknowledged.
I had to use formula (and at the time, wasn’t aware of how to make my own). I cried. Every time. And you may think this is overdramatic. And you may say that you are totally okay with formula. The latter is absolutely fine. That is your story, and I respect your choice. But this is my story and this was my goal and so this was my sadness.

We bought a really expensive pump. I cried. A lot. Connor would wail in hunger and beat my breast. He would claw and look at me and I would pass him along to Joseph where he would settle down and take his bottle. It was one of the saddest moments in my life – that feeling of inadequacy in the eyes of your newborn child.

I had a few donors fall through. They just wouldn’t show up. One gave me milk that I thought was bad (smelled rotten as soon as I dethawed it and I didn’t know about high lipase at the time). After playing tag with a donor who said they had 200 ounces for me, I was given barely 20. Then I met R (name retracted for privacy) who had a huge stash for me. I blended it in, being careful not to use all of it at once.

Then Connor went to the hospital. If you’re unaware, breastmilk is amazing. It is practically magic and extremely beneficial when it comes to health. I decided I would raid my stash. I had a new, upcoming long term donor (we’ll call her B) and was getting a few warm leads via a mothering group on some one-time donations so I felt confident that I could move to just supplementing with milk and be done with it.

I’m so blessed to say that Connor has had a miniscule amount of formula / raw milk since his time in the hospital. We have two dedicated donors and a recurring one that I can count on to provide the bulk of what he needs. But at 150ish ounces of donor milk weekly, Connor really makes it difficult to keep up with.

I’ve traveled as far North as Tulsa and as far South as Ardmore. And as for myself? Well, I am up to 1.75-2 ounces per pumping session from .5. I’m going to call that a win.

My daily routine consists of lactation cookies, a bevvy of herbs, tea, essential oils, offlabel use of Domperidone, and a very strict pumping schedule with plenty of milk-making foods in our diet and the elimination of foods that are known to negatively impact lactation (I MISS YOU SO MUCH, PEPPERMINT). Some days it feels overwhelming. I can’t cut my calories without my production going down. If I exercise, I need to eat back those calories.
Subsequently, I have not lost any more weight though I haven’t really gained. And that’s worth it. There’s time to lose later, especially if I just stay active (which is the most important part of health) and embrace this beautiful body I have been blessed with.

Every four or five weeks, my supply tanks. I have to mix things up and power pump and go in search of some new cure. Sometimes Connor still gets really fussy, though he mostly knows that Mommy is round 1 of food and Daddy is round 2.
Since he sleeps a good solid 6-8 hours at night (and you produce more at night), his morning feeding is always a mommy-solo feeding which is a BEAUTIFUL feeling. Sometimes I’ll get a second mommy-solo feeding in a day. It will be interesting to see if the introduction of solid foods means less milk but we’re not pushing it and we’re not offering it enough right now for me to expect any chance any time soon. Though, so far, they just make him thirsty.

I am proud of our relationship. If nothing else, the morning feeding he has, where he pulls off and looks at me like THANK YOU SO MUCH, THAT WAS DELICIOUS! is worth every tear, dollar, and moment that we (because my husband is the most amazing supporter in the entire world) focus on ensuring that Connor and I have this relationship.

It’s meant that I couldn’t take pain medication while managing a hairline fracture. Or allergy medication when I had a sinus infection. It’s meant that I can’t indulge in wine (because we don’t have the extra milk for me to do so) or coffee night caps. It’s meant a lot of bottle washing and a LOT of time from our schedule since it still takes him 20+ minutes to nurse before he gets the bottle of donor milk. It means money on traveling to donors and buying whatever bags they want. But it also means new friendships (because my donors are the best ever). It means that Connor gets all the benefits of breastmilk and breastfeeding (like optimal jaw development). It means that I am closer to my baby than if I had given up. It means that this did not defeat me.

It means that I’m resilient and I’mma toot my own horn all up in this post. I make no apologies to anyone who’s made a different decision but this is what I wanted for my child and I am so glad that my stubborn personality has made this a reality for him.

I hope we make it until at least a year (and there’s no reason we shouldn’t) and here’s to hopefully doing everything we can to achieve a different outcome the next go-round.

The one in which I spew out what may be entirely too many feelings for one post

A lot of people tell me I’m strong.

I’m not so sure about that. I’m very determined, willful, and outspoken. Is that strong or just belligerent? I think that might depend on how much wine I’ve had. Right now I’ve had none. But I’m also not done with my coffee either so that sounds like a smart state of mind to blog in.

A lot of people have been telling me, Happy First Mother’s Day.

I’m not so sure about this, either. Last year, I was pregnant with Connor. I had gone through natural labor during my miscarriage of Noah after years of infertility, medicine and appointments. This may be the first Mother’s Day that I have a living baby in my arms and these people undoubtedly have only my best interest at heart, but their message is more like alcohol on a burn. It throws me back to the “You’ll be a mom… someday” comments I received by the pound after our loss. I think it is perhaps because of our miscarriage that people think they should take the time to honor me this year. Like a “Hey – you did it!” And I don’t mean to be ungrateful. It’s just mixed feelings.

That being said, I felt a little bit like a fraud this past Sunday as I sat and listened to the many stories about motherhood that were told by amazing women (and one pretty standup guy) that I got to share a stage with. Stories about grandmothers and raising multiple children and battling snakes and having hard talks and overcoming great obstacles.
Am I a legit mother? These ladies were mothers and grandmothers and the ones that weren’t? Well they were talking about the women that raised them. That’s what I was doing – talking about the woman that raised me. And I kind of raised my brother, especially after Marti left. And I did get and execute legal guardianship of him after dad died. And I did spend a week in the hospital with Connor. Was all that good enough? I decided that, yes. Raising Alex gave me at least a half point. Our time with Noah gave me the other half point. Connor was just icing on my mommy cake.

Then the cards came.

Oh good. Perhaps my mommy-hood points were a bit premature.

If I were reading this blog right now, two things would come to mind:
1. This woman has more issues than Time magazine.
2. I wonder how many mommy points I have.

The latter because yes, I do have many issues with self-validation. I think that comes from having to fight for so damn much all the time. This is where I was last night, while I was trying to sleep. I thought about the cards from my sweet Aunt and best friend, wishing me a Happy First Mother’s Day. And because I have a very active psyche, I kept thinking. I thought about my fertility journey.
All the negative pregnancy tests.
The precancerous cells that would not go away (until they did).
The appointments with Dr. Reshef.
The medicine.
The positive pregnancy test.
The heartbeat.
The missing heartbeat.
The two week period where I walked around with a dead baby inside me.
The natural miscarriage.
Holding our sweet, tiny Noah.
The initial tests and diagnosis.
The hysterosalpingogram.
The miracle pregnancy.
The most stressful 41+ weeks of my entire life.
And then Connor.

I turned over so that I could glimpse at him via the app that J put on my phone. Sometimes I just wake up and stare at him on video, making sure that his stomach or chest is going up and down – making sure that he is breathing when I can’t hear him. He’s so quiet. Even though his crib is in our room, I miss the days when he would only sleep on my chest or in my arms. I think we practice attachment parenting as much for ourselves as for Connor.
I smile as he straightens his legs in his sleep. This is good enough to calm me down and I flip back over or I’ll keep opening my eyes to check on him. I still can’t sleep. What are we going to process now, dear brain? The show, my brain replies. Let’s finish processing the show.

Up until now, at 1AM on Wednesday night, I had only spoken about the show in the most general of terms. When asked about how I did, I would say something like “fine,” and ramble on about other stories. Internally, I just wondered about the tiny bit of liquid snot I felt threatening to drip out of my right nostril. HAD IT MADE IT? WOULD IT SHOW UP ON VIDEO? SHOULD I HAVE WIPED IT AWAY? In the moment, I had decided that it might make it worse or more noticeable. I was trying really, really hard not to cry and that right nostril was my biggest enemy… or so I thought.

My husband told me about all the times my voice broke. Because he’s my sweet husband, you must understand that this was not said as a criticism. He was telling me how beautiful he thought my story was. He was telling me how strong he thinks I am. And he said, “Every time your voice broke, it made it that much harder.” I responded that I thought I had done a good job of pushing down those feelings. He was silent. Oh. Well. Okay then. I flashed back to this discussion and found that I didn’t really need to process it. I could let it live in its own simple truth.
I thought about all the women who came up to me after the show. I went over all the amazing, kind words they said to me. I remembered showing Connor off and being secretly very pleased that our babysitter had cancelled last second. I felt better with him in the audience. Why do I not have to process anything, I thought. This is not like me.

And then I thought about our cast. I hadn’t been with them during the read-through. For many of them, that afternoon had been the first time we had met. But, for some reason, they are why I didn’t have to process anything. And it was them and their validation that I belonged there, not my lame mommy point scheme, that made me feel like a legit mother.
I realized how much I missed them, this group that I barely knew. I realized how much they helped me in ways that I hadn’t been able to tell them, because I hadn’t known, until now. I realized how instantly I felt accepted into a tribe. It made me think of the other naturally minded parents I’m connected to on Facebook and how they have accepted me, too. I realized that I have never felt more accepted or more whole or MORE LIKE A MOTHER in my entire life. And I cried. A lot. I cried until I fell asleep.

I am a risk taker, sometimes. It’s no surprise to me that I put myself in this position. But I gained so much more than I ever could have ventured. I have a new perspective and a new appreciation for the people that come into my life. I have wrestled so much with loss since Connor’s birth – being a new mom when most of your friends are still childless can come with a really harsh and distancing reality. It’s been ugly. It’s been so very hard and lonely. Yet, here these people were, welcoming me. Validating me. Nurturing me. Holding me up. Barely knowing me but getting me. Breathing life into me.

“Your story is my favorite,” she said in whispered breath. Funny, because her story was mine.
“I am so glad you’re here,” she said. “Thank you so much for sharing your story,” she said. “It is SO NICE to meet you,” she said. “I cannot wait to hear your story from your voice,” she said. “I could not be more proud of you than I am right now,” she said. “It was the most uplifting, healing thing I have heard in a long time,” she said. “Try the hummus,” she said, “I’m going to treat you like I treat my kids.”

I recently read that if you don’t have the support system you need, you must build your own tribe. This little group, for however long they’re in my life, was handed to me. All I’ve had to do was show up. I am so grateful for the chance to be in Listen to Your Mother but even more grateful for the double-edged sword that is social media for keeping me connected to all these new, beautiful people.

You are strong, they tell me.

No. Not quite. Not alone. Alone I am weak and scared and unsure. But with you by my side, I am stronger. You are the bees to my pollen. The school to my fish. The band to my solitaire. You may have had no intention of helping this girl, with all her issues and loneliness. But, you can’t go back now.

Well, I guess you can. But I hope you don’t. And if you do, I will be so, so grateful for the time we spent together.

Sounds of Silence

I slept for a grand total of 3.5 hours last night. Baby boy decided that Sunday night was the perfect time to start running a fever and had a rough go of it. Now that I’ve eaten breakfast and drank coffee and have roused all my alertness, he’s taken to a quiet and extended nap.

Good play, little man.

While I do not like to miss work this often, because catching up is hard and I only have a certain amount of paid time off, I love every day I get to spend with him. I wish his immune system would hurry up and fly right so I could just take random fun-days off but, for now, I’ll take what I can get. Today that’s a baby who wants to be held every moment he is awake and I am so thankful for these extra snuggles.

I’ve accomplished a few things this morning but now I get a few moments to myself. I don’t feel bad about this, even though there’s work to be done. Why? My husband is amazing. He’ll come home from work today and want to hear about every moment. He won’t mention the international calls and meetings, the heavy deadlines – until I finish talking about my day. He won’t talk about working out on his lunch break when I ask him to walk Connor because I’m tired. But he will frown if he thinks I’ve “tried to do too many things” because he wants me to enjoy Connor and the little bit of free time I get on days like this.

I am so thankful that Connor has an amazing role model in his daddy.

I am so thankful for moments of silence that allow me to really appreciate everything I am blessed with in this world.

I am so thankful for puppy cuddles, my bible, leftover pizza, dinner cooking in the crock-pot, and recorded episodes of Smash… it’s going to be a great day.