Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Sweet Chaos.

"Motherhood is the sacred marriage of the mundane and the eternal." - Lisa-Jo Baker

So officially I can say that I have survived and enjoyed one full month of life with two boys. I ventured out of the house very quickly with the two boys, figuring if I didn't start sooner then later I may just get more overwhelmed as they get older. Our first target experience together made me feel like I conquered the whole world. It's funny what you think is easy and what you consider hard. If you are a mom of two kids, I'm sure you remember the day you took both of them out for the first time. It's almost like we deserve a sticker or a badge for that first day of bravery. The tactic plan that you come up with in your mind before exiting your car to get both kids in the cart or in a carrier and a cart.

I grabbed a starbucks latte', hooked Atlas in my ergo, and put Laef in the cart. All was great. Atlas slept, Laef wanted to grab everything (his normal almost 2 year old self) and I was out to get diapers and take a stroll around the red store. Dreaming of all the things I so desperately didn't need to make my house even more home. And I did... until I got to the crayon aisle where I was buying construction paper to start a craft project for Laef's 2nd birthday. All of sudden Atlas began to cry from hunger and Laef thought that since Atlas was crying he should too. So they did, and I immediately became "that mom" that has two screaming kids on aisle 7 and I'm trying to keep peace on my face. I figured if I started laughing about it that the stress of the moment would roll of my chest and it did. I handed Laef my empty iced latte so he could suck up the melted ice cubes and I put a bottle in Atlas' mouth and held the bottle in place with my chin. I then pushed the cart to the check out counter and said.. "Well that was fun while it lasted." 

When we got to the car and I got "the boys" (so strange saying that) strapped in I sighed with satisfaction. Call it a small thing, or call me brave. But taking a newborn and an almost two year old to the store is big. Everyone is still alive and I have had more outings without Brandon under my belt since then, including a trip the splash park and the playground, and a few outings to the grocery store. 

So Atlas turned one month on Monday, this time seems to be going faster since I had Atlas. Laef keeps me on my toes constantly and being consistent to teach and train him in right and wrong is extremely hard work. Thankfully using love and logic has made it so much easier, and I rarely find myself extremely frustrated with him, and if I do its because of the lack of sleep.

Atlas is just super super sweet, and extremely strong. He has a tenacity about him even at this age. He's already turned himself over from his stomach to his back numerous times and fights like mad till he does. He sleeps pretty well... 3-4 hour stretched during most nights. Brandon and I both get up once with him.

Laef really does love him, and doesn't ever try to hurt him on purpose. He comes over to his bouncy 5-6 times a day and kisses him on the face. I hold my breath hoping that Laef doesn't just fall on top of him. Whenever Atlas does tummy time, Laef loves to come lay beside him and stare at him. He puts his arm around him and kisses him.

It takes me back to the dream I had before I found out I was pregnant. A friend of mine in the dream told me I was having a boy, and that this boy was for Laef. Laef needed a friend. And so I'm loving the sweet response that Laef gives Atlas.

Atlas is already pulling his head up while he's on his belly and looking around. <3

So, Laef is my brown eyed wonder and in the beginning of having Atlas, Laef had a look of spite and jealousy on his face for a few weeks. He wasn't directing it at Atlas, but at me and Brandon.

At one point he slapped me so hard in the face and I took him to his room and sat down with him and we talked about the baby. He told me all about his frustration (of course I didn't understand what he was saying, but I heard "baby" in there a few times) I sat and held him and cried. I had never seen my little man who has been my whole world have such a deep struggle. It pained my heart that me bringing Atlas home was hurtful to him. And yet at the same time, sometimes life is full of disappointment, but in this case, Laef will love Atlas so much in days to come. It is all going to be okay. I still hate seeing Laef struggle.

A few times I had caught Laef sitting in Atlas' bouncy and trying to hit the little birds that hang down. I try to approach this not with "No! Get out of there." but I gently go pick Laef up and hold him, I tell him your always going to be my baby Laef, but you are to big for that bouncy. I love you just the way you are and you are an amazing big boy! The other day this happen, and he laid his head on my shoulder and hung his arms around my neck while I danced with him around the living room, shedding a small tear.

The war in my heart between loving these boys is so tough. I recently sat on my couch holding Atlas while sobbing and telling him how I hope I'm loving and bonding with him the way I have bonded with Laef. I keep trying to put Laef's feelings above my own because I know he will remember.

Breastfeeding Atlas hasn't gone as planned and from day one Brandon and I made the call that I wouldn't going to go through the torture I put myself through last time. I wanted to enjoy this season with Atlas and not wish it was over. So pumping bottles and storing a freezer of milk has been what I've had to do to make this all work. I was able to find out what was wrong the last time and this time, and hopefully I'm getting better. Maybe the 3rd child will work like a charm.

He is a little Brandon, every day, becoming more and more like his daddy. His 2nd birthday is in two and a half weeks and I'm planning a small party for him. I may cry a little too.

So in the last blog, I shared my story of Atlas' birth, but in case you haven't seen all of these... these are a few favorite photos from the last month.

My best friend came to the hospital from Jacksonville to meet Atlas. <3

Atlas and Laef- 

First bath

Have I mentioned that Atlas looks like me as a baby?
Atlas is on the Left, I'm on the right.

My Grandpa came and met Atlas.. 

These are Atlas and Laef's friends. 

So besides a messy house some days and a pile of onesies that have been blown up by Atlas, crumbs on my floor, and a sink full of empty milk bottles.  I would say that we are doing well. I'm cleared next week to start working out and start shedding all my baby love. haha. My heart and emotions seem full and positive. I feel grace on me in this season. 

I'm working to get Atlas on the "Eat, Wake, Sleep" cycle like I did Laef. It is my sanity to know what will happen next. 

I start shooting soon and I'm booking up for the fall and winter months. Brandon and I might be going back to Arizona for a few days... we'll see if it all works out.  I could use a a get-a-way <3

Oh and I leave all you moms with this... 

Friday, June 6, 2014

"At-las.... my love has come along..."

"May these words be the first to find your ears. The world is brighter than the sun now that you’re here. Though your eyes will need some time to adjust to the overwhelming light surrounding us,

I’ll give you everything I have. I’ll teach you everything I know. I promise I’ll do better. I will always hold you close, But I will learn to let you go. I promise I’ll do better. I will rearrange the stars, pull ‘em down to where you are. I promise, I’ll do better. With every heartbeat I have left, I’ll defend your every breath. I promise I’ll do better. I will soften every edge, Hold the world to its best. I promise I’ll do better. With every heartbeat I have left, I’ll defend your every breath, I’ll do better.

’–°ause you are loved. You are loved more than you know. I hereby pledge all of my days to prove it so. Though your heart is far too young to realize the unimaginable light you hold inside."
- "Atlas: Light" by Sleeping at Last

It's been two weeks this morning since little Atlas came sweetly and peacefully into our lives. And when I say peacefully, I mean it was truly a peaceful, easy birth.

Adjusting to life with two kids has been...interesting. There are moments when I feel like every bird is singing and it's just the easiest, sweetest thing. And then there are moments where my lack of sleep and raging abnormal healing hormones are overwhelmed by my almost-two-year-old. I need to take a moment and shed a tear and ask the Lord for wisdom and grace. Laef has been a challenge for me to try to juggle. I'm trying to look at his life the same as little Atlas in the perspective of "enjoying every moment with them." I will miss these moments when they are gone. I will want to go back and live just one day of chaos to see their faces small and innocent. I want to hold onto that perspective as best as I can through the easy ages and the crazy hard ages.

I treasure time differently this time around. As much as people tell you in the beginning that you'll blink and they will be two or three or eighteen... I've seen it with my eyes. Laef has changed so much in two years and his birth is still as fresh to me as Atlas'.

So through the adjustment and the crazy, I am extremely blessed with two healthy beautiful boys who are my joy. I'm sure they will age me quite a bit over the next ten years, but the aging will be because I spent my soul to make sure these two love well and have beauty.

I have felt the Lord's hand of grace on me the last few weeks, even before Atlas' came. It is such a sweet thing to actually feel grace blanket over you. I need it more than ever. 

So here is the story of my sweet Atlas' arrival on May 23rd.

Starting Tuesday, May 20th, I went in for a doctor's appointment. I was 39 weeks and 3 days pregnant, which is right around the same time that my water broke with Laef. I had my finger's crossed that it would be an earlier delivery and prayed every day I wouldn't be late. I was fine with being pregnant, but the chasing of an almost two year old, changing diapers, giving baths, mopping floors and cleaning up messes was getting so hard for me with my giant belly. So the doctor told me I was dilated to 3 centimeters and 90% effaced, they also said my water was bulging... so I thought...maybe, just maybe my water will break again, and I'll have to go to the hospital, and then they will have to start labor and I can get my drugs before I experience any pain. (like last time!) After eating pineapple and using primrose oil for a few weeks, nothing was happening. In fact on Wednesday the 21st, I experienced like two Braxton Hicks contractions and that's all.

On Thursday, I had a wonderful morning going on walks with my boys and sipping my cup of coffee on my back porch journaling. I took a nap in Atlas' room around noon and told the Lord that I really would love to have Atlas on the date of the 22nd or the 23rd because the number 32 is my favorite number and has been for years and since I can't have it on a calender, at least let it be backwards. Also, Laef was born on Friday the 13th and It would be cool to have Atlas on Friday the 23rd.

Laef woke up from his nap and I filled his kiddy pool with water as he ran around the yard in the nude. I started to experience some contractions that had a little slice of pain to them. It actually made me happy because that meant that maybe something could happen. Around 5 PM I sat on the couch with Laef watching "Curious George" and could hardly get up because of light contractions that were hurting.

I made dinner and started feeling a bit edgy toward Brandon and Laef. I realized it was because I was in pain. I had plans to go to my church's Ladies' Tea get-together, but realized that it probably wasn't the best idea to do that with the contractions I was starting to feel.

After dinner, all three of us took a walk around our neighborhood and I began to feel a lot more pain in my contractions than I had before. We got Laef to bed and decided to pack up all our stuff that we would need for the hospital in case something would happen. Of course around 9 PM my contractions stopped. I decided that walking up and down my street would be a good idea to start getting things going again. We did, like eight times, and I felt NOTHING. I was so bummed. Our neighbors were coming home and saw us walking in the dark, they stopped us and started praying for me to go into full labor.

We went back to the house and decided to go to bed as early as we could. Around eleven, I was awakened with contractions that included back pain. I took them as best as I could lying on my side and grabbed my phone to start timing them. They were seven minutes apart and I was told to not call the hospital until my contractions were five minutes apart and hurt so badly that I couldn't talk or walk through them. I finally woke up Brandon and said "I can't do this alone!" So Brandon held me on the floor as every seven minutes I would roll in pain. I hadn't experienced labor like this with Laef, so I really didn't know what to expect. My back hurt and it was awful. I got to the point where they were so painful I couldn't talk through them, but they were still seven minutes apart.

I called the doctor and told him what was up. He told me to wait another hour or so and see if they got closer together. So for another hour I labored in the shower and waited for my contractions to get closer. When they finally hit five minutes apart for over an hour I called and he cleared me to go to the hospital. It was about 2 AM.

Our beloved friend Kaitlin came over and watched Laef until my parents and Brandon's dad arrived.
The ride to the hospital was straight out of a movie. Brandon was thinking about speeding and was concerned he would get pulled over by cops and I was rolling around in my seat trying to ease the pain of back labor. I felt like Mary on the donkey. When we got to the hospital, I was dilated to 6 cm and they got me an epidural within an hour. At this point it was 4:15 AM. Say what you want about an epidural but, thank God for it. I love my drugs. ;)

My mom arrived around 5 AM or so, and the nurses told me that one of my favorite midwives would be arriving at 7 AM, and that they would come check my progression at 6 AM.

At 6 AM one of the midwives came in and broke my water and said I was dilated at 9.5 cm. I called my close friend/photographer Kori to come to the hospital. And I'm so so thankful she took these beautiful photos of us! All the birth photos were taken by and edited by me.

Around 8:00 AM my best friend and I chatted.... I was sad she wasn't able to make it for Atlas' birth, but Jacksonville was quite the drive and I was gonna have this baby fast!

So this is my midwife telling me she would come back in a few hours and check to see how I was.

So a little before nine my nurse came to check the heart rate, take blood pressure... etc...

And at 9:01 my midwife came in and checked me. She told us, "It's time to have a baby..." and then she told the nurse to hurry and get everyone ready. The party was about to start. Below: my mom is excited a baby is coming and I'm like "Omg! This is about to happen."

So with drugs in my spine and a smile on my face.. here I am about to start pushing.

So my midwife told me to gently push... I felt no pain, I felt no pressure, I felt nothing. I just pushed four times. And the excitement and peace on everyone's face was so amazing...
And then, he came..... at 9:11 AM.

Six minutes of pushing and four pushes. I couldn't believe it. That was easier then doing the dishes. haha! I call him my "Avatar baby." He was so purple!

They wiped him all off and weighed him. He was exactly the same weight as Laef was. 8lbs and 15oz. Crazy!!! He had so so much hair.

You have to take selfies....

So beautiful and precious... look at those cheeks.

Laef and Atlas both have two cowlicks. haha!

So for the most part.... that's it. It was easy and sweet. That night was rough, trying to figure out feeding and stuff. Atlas' is such an easy baby--not demanding at all. Laef was easy, but Atlas is like 5 times easier. I'm so thankful.

The next day we just spent time bonding with our new son, and seeing friends. My best friend, Sharon, and my other friend, Melissa, did drive up from Jacksonville just for the day. I'm so thankful to have beautiful friends and family that came to see us and help us. My parents stayed for a week, Brandon's dad and stepmom have been helping, and Brandon's mom and stepdad are in town helping this week. It has made this time of change not as hard--it has helped us ease into it all.

So we named him Atlas and he is extremely strong already. Holds his head up all the time and fights a little when we dress and change him. I'll write more when I have time about the dynamic of falling in love with another while being in love with the other. I have had lots of mixed emotions and even some fighting in my mind with guilt at times. But I think that is the journey, it's the opening of up your heart to feel new emotions and to love greater, and it's scary and sometimes hard to adjust to new love. It's hard when the love you feel for both kids is so different and you aren't sure if that is okay or not okay. Nonetheless, this time is sweet, there is nothing in the world like having a newborn baby in your arms. I think I've enjoyed this newborn stage a little easier than the first, only because I'm not freaking out with "How do I take care of this baby!?" haha!

Hopefully in the coming weeks I'll have time to post more photos and write more eloquently. I haven't slept more than four hours in two weeks and I feel the creative side of my brain isn't working well currently.

So here it goes.... life with Laef and Atlas.