Thursday, January 12, 2017

2016: The Recap

Guys. 2016 was a game changer. A total and utter game changer. 2015 was full of world travel, educational advancement and baby prep, but in 2016 it actually happened. We had a baby.

A cute baby.

A very cute baby.

And now our life revolves around her awesomeness.

The photos below were posted to Instagram in 2016. They are the most liked of all the images posted and in an effort to have some kind of family record (because 2011 through now is a tumbleweed blowing across your computer screen) let's recap the year:

  1. After 42-hours of raw, medication free labor, our Remy girl came into the world. My birth story deserves its own post (fingers crossed I'll follow-through) but it was dramatic, traumatic, and Paul and I agreed we wouldn't talk about future kids or future labors for quite some time. The short story is my body didn't absorb the epidural narcotics, a piece of the cervix was blocking the birth canal so I was dilated to an 8 for 7+ hours (middle of the night), hyperventilated every contraction, pushed for 3 hours, had a baby who wasn't breathing and it was just real dramatic like. The photo above was several hours after birth when we were reunited. So much hair on that little head!
  2. For Halloween I wanted to do a costume fairly low-key that had high impact but didn't require us to invest a fortune (because babies are fickle and only want to wear a costume for minutes at a time). Hot glue gun cotton balls to a beanie and add a dollar store pair of reading glasses (lenses removed) to a sweater, brooch, and dress combo and wah-la! We sure love our little old lady.
  3. I decided it was cheaper (and more fun!) to fly Alaina out to shoot our family photos than to pay someone in town, so for two short days in November she came for a visit. We spent one afternoon taking family photos in front of the Portland skyline and at Cathedral Park by the St. John's bridge. I'll absolutely always treasure this photo of me and Remy -- it's about the only one where I have nice hair! 
  4. This photo is the very first full-face photo of Remy we posted to social media. In it we also announced her full name, weight (8 lbs 8 ounces), height (20.75 in), and a good look at that very full, very dark head of hair. 
  5. After visiting Santa at the mall (wherein we paid an obscene amount of money for a reservation so we didn't have to wait in line) I saw this festive setup in Pottery Barn. We quickly set Remy on the couch and snapped this gorgeous keeper of a photo. I'm still waiting for Pottery Barn to return my phone call about including this image in next year's catalog. 
  6. This family-of-three shot is one of my ultimate favorites from Alaina's shoot--it made it onto the backside of our 2016 Christmas card as well. I posted it on a Friday wherein I got some really bad news at work that rocked me back a step (nothing super personal, account and client news) but I posted this photo with a caption of how excited I was to go home and spend time with these best friends of mine. Being a full-time working mom also deserves its own post I think. (Add it to the list.)
  7. A baby in a pumpkin! I mean come. on. I fully anticipated Remy would cry when we put her into a cold, wet pumpkin wearing only a diaper. She didn't, because our baby is the most even-keeled happy baby there ever was. (Oh, we also put a dish towel in there.) We put a few decorations up on our porch once Sunday after church and snapped this picture. There are about a dozen in the set and they're all ridiculously cute. 
  8. Remy loooooooooooooves the bath. Like holy smokes that girl would be happy to bathe every night. Somewhere mid-Fall we started putting her in the bathtub with one of us and she's never happier than when she's splashing in the tub. This photo was the second night she got to bathe in our main bathroom--the first night she learned that splashing has cause and effect.
  9. Christmas Eve we took a redye flight to Bermuda. I wanted to vacation somewhere warm for the holiday but options were limited as true Caribbean/Mexican destinations were off-limits due to the Zika Virus (I'd like Remy to have a sibling with a normal-shaped head you see.). My parents joined us (they committed less than 90 minutes after asking!) and we had a ball hanging out at a posh resort, riding mopeds, and relaxing together. This photo is at the resort's private beach on the day after Christmas (late enough to have slept in after Remy couldn't figure out what time it was in her crib in the hotel room closet). 
2016 is a year many called a dumpster fire, rife with political and social drama. My year, however--our year, was fantastic. Adding Remy to our family has added depth and meaning to an otherwise full and satisfying life. Paul and I have, much to our surprise, naturally snapped into parenting this sweet girl entrusted to us. What a year.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Dear Remy | Day Before Returning to Work



Hello sweet girl,

In two short days you’ll be 12 weeks old. It’s hard to fathom you’ve been with us so long Remy Ren! We’ve lived on your schedule for 12 weeks and enjoyed (nearly) every second of it. You’ve been the best baby. 

You don’t cry without reason. You don’t hate the bath. YOU SLEEP. You’ve smiled since three weeks. You’ve allowed us to haul you to Seattle a few times, on an adventurous vacation to Alaska, and to spend some time with Grandpa and Grandma in Utah. Somehow I knew you’d be a low-key baby before you were born and you’ve exceeded all of my expectations. 

Your arrival into the world wasn’t so easy. Where I thought you’d come quickly and painlessly, your entry was anything but. Due to a number of complications including my body rejecting three epidurals (and other pain medications) and a looooooong, slow delivery; things didn’t go according to plan and I didn’t feel prepared for two long days of contractions and a natural birth. Your heartrate suffered at the end (unsurprising as you and I had both been through so much!) and you were vacuumed out; a good thing as you then had trouble breathing on your own. It took a few minutes for the doctor and nurses to get you breathing on your own; there were a few scary minutes but you quickly started to respond. I cried after you were delivered both because you were here, but also because the birthing process was simply over. It was fairly traumatic for us both.

Since the very beginning, you’ve been the prettiest baby. Your features are petite and your wrists and ankles slim. Most shocking to your Dad and me was the very full, very dark head of hair you had and continue to sport. Born at 8 pounds, 8 ounces you still felt so tiny! You were almost 21 inches tall and have been quick to continue growing in height. 

Weight gain has been a different story. In the hospital you were a great eater and quickly put the weight you’d lost back on. At home was another story. You nursed the right number of times per day for extreme lengths of time (30-40 minutes per side). It wasn’t until a weigh-in at a fortunate doctor’s visit, where I feared you had thrush, that the doctor grew concerned with your weight gain. You’d slipped from the 90th percentile at birth to the 40th. We began seeing a lactation consultant and it was discovered you had issue withdrawing milk. My days as an exclusive pumper began. In your first three days of bottle feeding you put as much weight on as you had in your first four weeks of life! Since that time you’ve remained somewhat disinterested in food, but are gradually gaining weight. You’re long and lean.

Through a series of incredibly fortunate events, your Dad was home with us the first ten weeks of your life. The three of us have spent nearly every hour of each day together getting to know each other. We’ve had the best time! Dad has been an incredible helper; he changes the majority of your diapers and does the majority of the feedings. You two have a special bond and I love seeing it develop. 

Tomorrow I return to working full time and you’ll begin spending time at the daycare we’ve chosen. My heart is so divided. I love being with you Remy; it’s surprised me how much patience I have with you and your needs, and how natural being your mother feels. Even when it’s Dad’s turn to do something I can usually be found hovering around you both just watching. I find myself drawn to you in ways I didn’t know to be possible. And yet, there’s a need I have to do more, to use the parts of my brain that are so good at what they do. To go back to my job and provide value and function in a way that is meaningful to me—that fills me up and makes me feel good about myself. 

I don’t know what to expect from my feelings taking you to daycare tomorrow. Last week I had my first cry as I held you in my arms and imagined you being in a strangers’. I know you’ll be in good hands (we wouldn’t ever send you somewhere that wasn’t) but knowing you won’t always be someone’s first priority breaks my heart a little. “It’ll build character,” I tell myself, but still it hurts my heart. If I’m honest with myself I’m also nervous you’ll love someone more than you do me. I couldn’t handle that. 

Remy Ren, Sweetie P, Bitty, Baby Raymi – in the last 12 weeks you have stolen my heart. We spend hours of time together every day and yet I still find myself missing you when you’re napping or in bed for the night. I love singing to you, talking in a ridiculously high voice to you, and serving you. The way you hold my fingers tight and look into my eyes when you’re eating, the way you break into a smile when I get you up from your crib (even as the tears haven’t yet dried on your face), the way you still fall asleep in my arms or on my chest. The smell of your hair, the smoothness of your skin, and the beginning squeeziness of your thighs; I adore it all. 

During each phase of your development I think to myself, “it can’t get better/cuter than this.” I have thoroughly enjoyed being proven wrong time and time again.

Mama loves you sweet girl.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Dear Remy | Mother's Day



My dear, sweet baby girl –

I’m currently timing the very labor contractions that could bring you into the world this Mother’s Day. Technically you’re past due (May 6) but earlier than either your Dad or I expected. The women in my family have a history of hosting babies in favorable environments—you and your cousins feel no huge rush to leave the world and join us!

Your Dad and I are so overjoyed for you to enter the world and change our lives forever. Your conception and pregnancy have gone better than expected or planned—I found out I was pregnant one month after we decided it was time to expand our family and I’ve had the easiest pregnancy in perhaps the history of the world. (Fingers crossed your labor and delivery follow this same pattern—I’ll have to report back later.)

I knew in my heart I was pregnant with you the day before I should have had my period. Your Dad made us wait one day to take a test, but I knew you were there, you’d remain viable, and we could count on your little spirit joining our family. We took the test one hour before your aunts Kendall, Mallory, and I ran in a 200-mile relay race from Mt. Hood to the Oregon coast. How much I had to think about while spending 32-hours in a van away from your Dad and unable to tell my best friend/sisters.

We kept the news to ourselves until we had our first ultrasound at about 8.5 weeks. Dad saw your pixelated beating heart and finally believed you were a real thing! We told Grandpa, Grandma, and Mallory in the next few days and Kendall and Alaina a few days later. Everyone else we waited until 16 weeks; about a month longer than is typical. We loved having a chance to plan and dream in a vacuum; and since I wasn’t having any regular (and awful) first trimester symptoms it was easy to keep the secret.

Dad didn’t pass the Oregon State Bar exam the first time he took it. He was also called as the Ward Mission Leader and I continued to work full time (in fact, I still am! I’ve planned to work clear up until the time you join us). Plenty of things didn’t go perfectly during the time we’ve been waiting for you, but we’ve felt exceptionally blessed in so many ways that has made life manageable. Dad took the Bar again and passed; he was sworn in as an Attorney a few weeks ago, friends and my work have thrown you the sweetest baby showers and now we anxiously await your arrival. (I wish your contractions would either speed up or slow down; this waiting game is excruciating!) 

We’ve had the best 2.5 years as a couple. Dad and I have traveled, we’ve worked on the house, we’ve cheer-leaded each other through difficult school, work, and family situations. We are legitimately each other’s best friend; there’s very little—in fact nothing—we’d rather do than be together. We waited a long time to find each other and the wait has been more than worthwhile. 

It’s not unusual for either of us to say, “Babe! We’re having a baby!” Many times a day. For many months. “We’re having a baby girl!” It still feels hardly real; even as we’ve had your nursery set up and clothes, gear, and the massive other amount of purchases completed, toured daycares, and tried to decide on a name. 

We know life is going to change, but as yet our brains can’t quite fathom how much. 

Perhaps my biggest worry and unknown in welcoming you into the world is understanding that life will never be at stasis again. Dad and I know what to expect from each other, how to be together, how to communicate, and generally how one day will play out from the next. Once you breathe your first breath, we’ll have another player to add into the equation; and knowing how much you’ll grow, change, and continue to refine yourself (hopefully never stopping!) means the life we know will also continue to grow, change, and evolve. Let’s all plan to take it one day at a time, shall we?

Baby Girl, we can’t wait to meet you. To hold you and to love you. You’re going to have the best Dad. He didn’t have the happiest upbringing and is looking forward to giving you the love he never had. There are so, so many people anxious for your arrival—grandparents, aunts, cousins, and our ward family. 

I hope you’ll be patient with us. We have such little experience being parents; you’ll be our guinea pig until we can add a brother or sister for you. Just remember that we’re doing the best we can; we’re not perfect but we’re counting on all of us loving each other enough to cut the others some slack. We’ll do our best to always make you happy, but our primary job will be to teach you how to be a good person and Child of God. You probably won’t always agree with the decisions we make, and there are times you’ll think us mean, or strict, but we know the potential you have and want you to learn how to live up to it. 

We cannot wait to hold you in our arms and show you all the amazing things life has to offer.

Already I love you so,
Mom

Monday, January 11, 2016

The first married-life, pre-baby, post-weekend brain dump in the history of NatA!

It's embarrassing how the most inconsequential things make me feel like I'm winning at adulthood. Especially when said 'win' was something I've avoided doing for several years, where it's had a permanent place on my To Do list. I'm talking of course, about cleaning out the bathroom cupboards and drawers. Both of them. What a sweet sense of relief to have that terrible job completed.

In addition, we also sorted through the latest tidal wave of stuff deposited in the baby's room/spare room and the gym. Fantastic to be able to see and navigate the floors again; a bit disheartening to know that the contents of both closets have to be completely flipped. And once we're ready to assemble the nursery... yikes. We've got some furniture figuring out to do.

[Sidenote: I'm determined to complete so many house things while I'm feeling good and before the baby comes. Every thing I've read/heard indicates you won't get a thing done during maternity leave, and knowing how lazy I am clearly that sounds like the dream.]

This legitimately might be the most boring blog post of all time. I'm sorry. How about a photo of some of the wonderful wares purchased in Meridian, Idaho of all places? We stopped for the night both to and from Utah for the holidays and found ourselves with several hours to burn (trying to avoid the ghetto-ness of our $60/night rooms). Both trips held the exact same evening itinerary. Texas Roadhouse, Hobby Lobby for nursery prints, Marshalls/TJ Maxx for baby clothes. We hit the jackpot on the way home. These three outfits are Baby Girl's first stylized outfits.

Also this weekend? There were a few Blazers tickets floating around the office late Friday and knowing A) the visiting team (Golden State) is good and B) our time of being free and easy is coming to an end, I scooped them up. Paul came to my end of town where we had a quick happy hour nacho/bean dip deliciousness of a dinner (made even more fantastic by the fact we've been eating crazy healthy since the new year) and then braved the traffic and cold to get to the Moda Center for the Blazers Game.
We had a really great time enjoying the atmosphere, sitting for 99.9% of the game (bless the fact that our seats have no one in front of them and a bar on which to rest your feet), and just talking/laughing together. Oh, and planning out how we'd spend the Powerball lottery winnings should we win them.  It's very important to have this stuff figured out before your life changes forever you see.

And now that we have 9:00 church the wide expanse of Sunday afternoon is this delicious thing that typically includes stretchy pants, naps, TV, food, calling-related tasks, and anything else our little hearts desire. Though I loathe waking up 'early', I won't lie about how nice that afternoon is. This Sunday was made extra special by a [TMI ALERT!] 24-hour urine collection I had to complete for a test because though I'm having the easiest pregnancy of all time there's a random hiccup every now and then that requires some attention. (In this case, protein in my last urine test which may require a kidney specialist OR might mean I simply didn't drink enough water before my last test; which duh, my vote is on the latter.)

Shall we call this a weekend brain dump? Okay!

Friday, January 08, 2016

2015: The Recap (as voted on by the public)

Life continues to move, the days feeling long but the weeks speeding by. 2015 was a roller coaster of a year for me and Paul; there were many days in the first part of the year that required a near-daily reminder that we could do hard things and tomorrow was a new day. The specifics of 2015 are included in the yearly write-up he and I put together (offline for all the good, juicy, private stuff) but the passing of the year bears some sort of acknowledgement and recap.

The picture below is a collage of my nine most 'liked' photos on Instagram. They share themes which doesn't explain the variety of excitement and turmoil achieved in 2015, but it's a start.


From top left to right, down a row, from left to right: rinse and repeat:
  1. We're expecting a baby! A few fun facts: I really felt like I was pregnant and took a test one hour before leaving for Hood to Coast. Of course it came back positive and Paul and I had about 45 minutes to celebrate together before I was off for two days in a 200-mile nonstop running relay where I couldn't tell anyone; especially my two sisters who were in my van. Paul and I kept texting each other, marveling in excitement, and the thought of the upcoming baby gave my brain something to work through on my few runs. We waited until 16 weeks to tell the general public, and as I'm still hardly showing at six months it could have been kept even bigger of a secret! Also, probably TMI but no one reads blogs anymore, so here goes! Baby Judd was conceived on the first cycle of trying, in Switzerland of all places. (Not a bad start to life.)
  2. Paul passed the Federal Patent Bar test. Ohhhhhhhhhhh was this a big one. He didn't pass on his first go-round, so the pressure was on, and with a 46% pass rate, the test is no walk in the park. In addition to studying for the test he was also finishing law school and being our home operations manager. We both cried when he passed; sadly, I was stuck at work (on a Friday night) until 8pm working on agency rebrand stuff (see difficult turmoil description above) but I can't describe the relief we both felt his passing. Nearly a year later his test score is still taped to the cabinet in our kitchen.
  3. This photo of my four nephews was our public announcement that we're having a GIRL baby. After a four-boy streak in the Wms sisters (Alaina and Kendall's little guys) we're shocking the world by introducing a baby girl into it. Our ward (which we've grown exceptionally close to this year as well) hasn't had a girl in nearly 2+ years as well, so needless to say everyone is very excited. Also, I can't stop buying clothes.
  4. Paul graduated from Law School! Both our sets of parents came into town on Memorial Day Weekend for the Saturday celebration. We hosted a BBQ at our home with friends and family and took visiting parental sets to hike Wachlela Falls. Neither of Paul's parents are college graduates and he's the first of his siblings to get a graduate degree, so basically he's an all-star. (And now all of the Wms daughters are married to men with graduate degrees. Crazy.)
  5. WE WENT TO NEW YORK CITY AT CHRISTMASTIME, it was divine, and I was pregnant. I needed to travel to Boston for some emergency work meetings and it seemed like a good time to take Paul with me and for us to do a quick weekend in NYC (my favorite city on earth). While there we walked 15 and 9 miles each day and the maternity pants I was wearing were saggy enough that they required me to pull them up basically always. Frustrating, but everything else was DIVINE. One of my long-term bucket list items is to be in the City at Christmastime in love, and boy oh boy this trip satisfied that requirement. Maybe this trip will get a post of its own (unlikely but hope springs eternal!) but it was glorious and one of my favorite things Paul and I have done together.  (Also, Paul beat ridiculous odds to win lottery tickets to see Hamilton, one of the main reasons for the trip, and my every wish came true, we sat dead center front row, and I basically died.
  6. Athens in front of the Parthenon, in 105+ degree heat. To celebrate our survival of the first half of the year (my work, the Patent Bar, Paul taking the Oregon State Bar), we went on a European Extravaganza Adventure. The first week was an Eastern Mediterranean cruise (Venice, Split and Dubrovnik Croatia, Athens, Ephesus Turkey) with my parents and the second week was Paul and I driving through Bavaria--Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland. The fact that more of our incredible trip isn't represented on this grid shows you the kind of BIG news we had this year, huh? 
  7. In November we celebrated two years of marriage. I love this side by side photo of Paul and I. We were happy then, but we're even happier now! 2015 was also the year I finally got my wedding book printed, so that's clearly an accomplishment of its own.
  8. I continue to decorate our house like a crazy person for Christmas. I love it so much and I'm grateful Paul will help me put it up AND take it down. This year some visiting children counted 18 baby Jesus(es?) so my nativity game continues to be strong. We bought new ones in Germany and Austria this year.
  9. Venice! The first stop on our Euro Adventure (from where our cruise ship embarked) and we hadn't really told that many people we were traveling so I think it was a surprise to most. I've been to several Italian cities, but Venice has been my favorite. We rented an AirBnb apartment 100 feet off the Grand Canal and spoke Spanish with our Cuban renter (in Italy of all places). The world is a funny place.
So there you go! The high points of 2015! So much more bears documentation and we've made a concerted effort to write some of it down. In case you're interested in doing it yourself (which I strongly recommend!), here's the format we complete at the end of each year:
  • 10 Highlights
  • 5 Disappointments
  • Game Changers
  • Things You Focused On
  • Places You Visited
As blogs are going the way of the wind, writing something down, even as simple as the above (which usually ends up being about two type-written pages) is helping us document our life together. It's not a shabby one!

Phew! Did you make it through our year? We did. (Just barely.)

Definitely, maybe, probaby related posts:

If NatA! posted a photo with this blog, here it is!