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the mommyhood memos: January 2011

Saturday, January 29, 2011

twelve equals one

We did it.

We made it to one.

I've got my party hat on and I'm off celebrating my boy's life... and the fact that I am a mom and my beloved is a dad.

It's been a good year... marked in months and milestones and many sweet memories.

If you want some mushy, sappy, sentimental, lovey-dovey reflections on motherhood, you can read this one from yesterday about sharing Levi with the world, or this one from a few days ago about celebrating my first "momiversary".

I loved pouring my heart into these two posts... and I hope they will touch your heart too.

No doubt the sentiments of motherhood are universal and timeless.

And for Levi:

Heaven blew every trumpet 
and played every horn
on the wonderful, marvelous
night you were born. 
-excerpt from On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman

Dear friends, thank you so much for all of your well-wishes and prayers for Levi's first birthday. It's a great day and we're very, very happy. 

so grateful,

p.s. I've got some good things in store for after all the festivities settle down.... but for now, I may just take a few days to... enjoy turning this page. See you again soon.

photo credit: sue stendahl

adriel booker | the mommyhood memos | 2010 
do not reproduce without written permission

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Friday, January 28, 2011

366 days ago i spent the last night alone with my baby

A year ago today I was on the eve of my due date. My parents had flown in from overseas. My best mate was here, armed with the camera and snacks and lots of encouragement. And my husband and I were packed and ready to go.

It was a hot and humid day with sporadic rain showers. Emma and I swam and walked back and forth across the length of the near-by pool while my parents looked on from underneath the shelter and Ryan worked nervously at the office, waiting for a call at any time.

Baby was engaged.

Mama was feeling brave, excited, and at peace.

We were ready to go.

That night I went to bed with excitement, thinking (perhaps hoping) that I'd go into labor that night.

Then, around 2:00am--just hours after Levi's official due date began--my waters broke and the contractions started hard and strong.

I was going to have a baby. My life was about to be turned upside-down.

It wasn't until twelve hours later that I went to the birthing centre. By that time my contractions were consistently three minutes apart and we decided it was time to be in the care of our dear midwife.

Soon after arriving I had an internal examination (well, several of them actually), and then four or five different ultrasounds), only to find out that Levi was breech.

It was against hospital policy to birth breech babies in the birthing centre so I was transferred to the maternity ward and robed up for an unplanned c-section.

Although it wasn't the natural water birth I had desired, I was glad that I was already in labor and things were progressing smoothly. Baby wasn't in distress and neither was I. My body went into labor naturally, so I knew we were both ready. And my contractions were hard and strong and fast... but not so fast that they had to rush me through with urgency.

I can't say that lying in an operating surgery and having someone cut you open to deliver your baby is ideal. I felt passive. I felt a little bit ripped off. I felt an element of sadness.

But mostly I felt relieved. And I felt glad.

I was so fortunate to have my child in a nation where the health care is amazing. Where doctors and nurses and my midwife took incredible care of me. The fact that my child was able to be delivered safely by cesarean was a great comfort, even despite the whirlwind of emotions.

I also felt excitement. I knew that in moments I would be meeting my beautiful boy for the first time.

If I could turn back the clock I would have requested a late term ultra-sound. I'll never know if we would have been able to turn the baby if we'd caught it in time.

If I could turn back time to 5:46pm on Friday, January 26, 2010 I would have insisted that I got to hold Levi straight away while still on the operating table... rather than an hour and fifteen minutes later after they had sewn me up and done God-knows-what-else in the meantime.

But I can't. And I've made peace with that.

Because when you are at peace, you are free to be grateful.

And grateful I am.

I refuse to let these things define the most life-changing moment of my existence. And I am grateful--beyond grateful--that I could even give birth at all.

I still cry when I hear stories of other mothers having their babies placed on their chest moments after that last push. I cry for what I wasn't able to experience. I cry for my lost hour and fifteen minutes.

And yet my tears are small compared to the tears of so many mothers... and so many would-be, wanna-be mothers. So many mothers that didn't even get an hour and fifteen minutes with their babies.

I was warned that a child's first birthday is an emotional time for moms... And here I am, the day before Levi's birthday and I'm an absolute hurricane of emotions. I believe it's possible to be warned and caught off guard at the same time.

So what do I do? I finalize party plans. I wrap presents. I bake cupcakes. I imagine photos I want to capture on Levi's big day. I think about how my husband and I want to celebrate our own milestone along with Levi's. I pray. I give thanks. I write a lovesong for my boy. I look back through hundreds of photos and video clips and bawl my eyes out. Not because my baby is growing--I'm glad he's growing and developing and progressing--but because life is short and I'm thinking I want to squeeze it a little bit more.

I've tried to relish, enjoy, savor, record, and live in the moment as much as I was able this last year. I wish I had done that more. There will always be more. But I also realize that I did my best. I gave it my all. I could not have done better.

In twenty-four hours time I will commemorate that moment... the moment I shared my first-born with the world:

5:46pm, Friday, January 29, 2010.

just arrived at the birthing centre after 12 hours of labor at home...
receiving the news that levi is breech.

this is me with my brave face while being prepared for the operating theatre.
although i was a little teary and disappointed, i was genuinely at peace... and very excited.

{first look}
he was the most beautiful thing i had ever beheld.

{first touch}
my heart still aches a little looking at this photo.
if a hand could convey longing, love...
i'm grateful at least, that ryan got to hold him straight away.

{first hold}
at last he was mine. my heart exploded a thousand times as he nursed and nuzzled. it was magic.

{first hold}
beaming with pride and joy as i looked at my husband
and midwife with levi snuggled up to my chest.

being wheeled into the maternity ward to introduce levi to my parents and emma.

emma, my mom, and my dad were all there from the beginning until the end....
they were so happy to welcome our miracle when we finally came out from surgery.
although plans changed, we couldn't have shared this time with anyone more special.

my precious angel just hours old. the most beautiful and perfect newborn i've ever seen.

although i was dog tired, i didn't want to go to bed that night. i didn't want it to end.

our extremely happy family - healthy and head-over-heels in love.

room 50. our room 50. i'm so glad for this place.

Dear friends, I didn't really mean for this to turn into a birth story, but I suppose in a sense it's turned into a version of one... minus the detail. Writing about it again now, a year later, is comforting... almost therapeutic. I have so much to remember, so much to celebrate. I knew I'd be a mushy mess this week, but I'm surprised at how I'm enjoying the mush. It's all part of the process, isn't it? It's all part of the process of growing, moving on, moving forward...

turning the page,

P.S. Thank you if you read my post yesterday and prayed for Levi to get well. He's doing sooo much better today and we should be in the clear for his party tomorrow!! *bigsighofrelief*

on saturday...

adriel booker | the mommyhood memos | 2010 
do not reproduce without written permission

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

twelve months

Since Levi's three favorite things right now are his books, his guitar, and walking... I thought it only fitting to mark twelve months accordingly. Although these are not the best photos from a technical perspective I do love them anyway. They show how much fun he is and how cute he is at the moment.

Ah, twelve months...

{he takes story-book reading very seriously these days.}

{this was more of a run than a walk... yikes!}

{i'm swooning over this one.}

{so. much. fun.}

{"are you watching me mama? are you listening?"}

{doing a little jig while playing a tune. love!}

{i adore those chubby feet.}

My how times have changed...

{nine months - all about the standing and cruising.
his personality really began to come out around this age.}

{six months - all about the sitting, "sorting", and examining.
it was nearly impossible to rip his focus away from his toys
and get him to look at me for a photo at this age.}

{three months - all about the pushing up and learning to roll over.
i remember thinking he looked like such a big boy when i took this...
but not so much when i look at it now. just a wee little babe.}

Oh, and a bonus word of advice for other first-time-moms out there: There are certain books you shouldn't read during the lead-up to your firstborn's first birthday... I'll Love You Forever or Oh, the Places You'll Go! or The Giving Tree or The Runaway Bunny. It's all just a little much.

My boy will be one in two days.  T w o  D a y s.

Dear friends, just a photo dump on the memos today. I know you don't mind a dose of cuteness every now and then. And to my mama-photographer mates, a question: How do you keep a very busy little toddler in focus?! I'm having the darndest time taking decent photos lately, *sigh* and it's beyond frustrating!


P.S. If you're the praying type, please pray for my little man. He's been fighting a cold/cough/fever all week and today it really took a turn for the worst... I held him for hours this afternoon as he just cried and cried and went in and out of short bursts of sleep. He's miserable and really needs healing... Not sure if it's teething related (same thing did happen the last two times he cut new teeth) or if it's just a flu. In any case, it's nasty!! Of course we're hoping that we won't have to cancel his birthday party which is happening in two days. Not to mention the fact that we don't want to get his little friends sick either! Oh, and my in-laws arrive tomorrow to stay for a week. Not the best timing for a sick bub! But most of all I want to see him well for his own sake. It's so hard watching your baby suffer. boo. :( Thanks for your prayers! xxo

on saturday...
photo credit: sue stendahl 
adriel booker | the mommyhood memos | 2010 
do not reproduce without written permission

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

another thing i love about australia

In honour of Australia Day today (our national holiday... kinda like the 4th of July) I'm doing two things:

1. Spelling "honor" as honour.

2. Showing you one of the many things I love about this nation:

In case you haven't worked it out already... Australia has special parking spots (just after the disability spaces) at grocery stores and shopping centers that are designated for parents with babies and small children.

Genius I tell you. Pure genius.

Just one of the many things I love about this nation.

And now for a bonus... my favourite pint-size Aussie, all dressed to impress for Australia Day:

levi's shirt says "fair dinkum aussie" (fair dinkum = aussie slang for true/legitimate/real}

Dear friends, happy Australia Day to my Aussie mates! And to the rest of you... feel free to hop on the Oprah Wagon and come and join us for a holiday over here. You will indeed love it too.

aussie, aussie, aussie, oi, oi, oi,

adriel booker | the mommyhood memos | 2010 
do not reproduce without written permission

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Monday, January 24, 2011

celebrating my first momiversary: the year that my life was turned upside down… and came out rightside up

Your child’s first birthday is a big deal. You may have had a celebration at his birth or at his baby dedication… but celebrating his first birthday is just, well, different.

It’s big.

There’s something about turning one that really reinforces the feeling of transition from babyhood to toddlerhood. Maybe it’s the determined attempts at walking or talking. Maybe it’s the fact that he will now be joining the ranks of people who don’t count their age in months. (I just did the math and I am 399 months old.)

Or maybe it’s the fact that he survived your first year of parenting.

I’m so happy to be celebrating Levi’s first birthday on Saturday. But I’m also excited to celebrate my momiversary.

Everyone says that being a mom is the hardest and best job in the world… But for those who’ve yet to have children, no doubt it can be tiring to always hear about all the challenges.

Yes, sleep-ins have all but vanished.

Yes, I have been pooped on, peed on, sneezed on, snotted on, spit up on, and thrown up on.

Yes, the family expenses have increased… as have the laundry and the dishes.

Yes, things move a lot slower with kids (meals, errands, etc.).

Yes, sometimes my time, my body, and my brain does not feel like my own.

And yet there are so many wonderful things that far outweigh the lack of sleep and the ring of crying in your ears.

Like the fact that you learn how to love more completely.

And you start to see the world with more wonder.

And you think more consciously about your values.

And you live more purposefully.

And then there are the other things, the baby things:

Sweet baby breath on your cheeks.

Those precious newborn coos... music to your ears.

The first laugh, sending excitement shooting through your veins.

Hearing “mama” for the first time as your heart melts into puddles around your feet.

Those first slobbery kisses... no, all of those slobbery kisses.

Hugs and cuddles... and glances up from your child, which say without words that you're the most beautiful person he's ever laid eyes on.

The feeling of being loved unconditionally and trusted completely.

There are so many good things. So many life-altering good things.

The highs are epic. The lows are crushing. But the ride is absolutely thrilling.

During this last year I have cried harder than I ever have in my life. There has been sobbing in the shower, breakdowns in the kitchen, and desperate wails of “why” and “help me God” in the nursery.

Being a mom has pushed me to the limits of what I’ve experienced so far in my thirty-three years.

I’ve felt crushing insecurity at times and steady confidence at others.

I’ve been exhausted and exhilarated.

I’ve been confused and I’ve questioned.

Sometimes I’ve trusted my gut. And other times I’ve floundered.

I’ve spent hundreds of hours reading books and the internet looking for answers and help and tips and ideas.

I’ve patted that tiny baby bum a thousand times to help him fall asleep.

I’ve rocked him in the night and held him through teething and illness and growth spurts and needles.

I’ve swelled with pride and joy, and I’ve stood in awe.

I’ve sang thousands of lullabies and read thousands of stories.

I’ve nursed and I’ve nurtured.

I’ve danced and I’ve paced.

I’ve prayed.

I've laughed.

I’ve watched and listened and savored and recorded.

I've felt like an amateur and felt like a pro.

I’ve filled my hard drive and the facebook feed with hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of photos.

I've sought advice... and sometimes given it. 

I've sought validation and I've sought empathy. 

I've sought encouragement and I've sought affirmation. 

I’ve been amazed and overwhelmed, grateful and relieved.

I've learned sacrifice. I've earned wrinkles.

I've acquired a few badges of my own.

I've found a depth of strength that was yet unlocked.

I've. Given. Birth.

I’ve seen Grace. I’ve touched Love. I’ve tasted Mercy. I’ve found Forgiveness.

I've been humbled. I've grown up. 

I've become more of who I am meant to be.

I've. Had. Fun.

Becoming a mom is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. It’s helping me to see myself and see the world and see God in a whole new—more glorious—light.

So here’s to the tears! The joys! The questions! The lessons! The heartache! The breakthroughs! The love! The affection! The learning curve! The discovery! The process! The growth! The reality! The dream!

Here’s to motherhood! Here’s to parenthood!

Happy first momiversary to me!

My heart is so full that... It. Might. Burst.

I will never forget this first year of motherhood… the year that my life was turned upside down… and came out rightside up.

Dear friends, on Saturday night after the streamers are taken down, the cake is cleaned up, and Levi is tucked safely into bed, my husband and I will be clinking our glasses and toasting with close friends. We’ll celebrate the fact that Levi has not only survived our first year of parenthood, but he has thrived... and so have we.  How did you mark your first momiversary? 

almost bursting and entirely blessed,

{Photo Credits}
Photo of Adriel and Levi: Tiffany Lausen, Red Owl Photography 
Photo of Levi clapping: Sue Stendahl, Stendahl Photo Services.

adriel booker | the mommyhood memos | 2011 
do not reproduce without written permission

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

i am craftabulous

It's been a long while since I've done anything crafty. But with Levi's upcoming celebration on the horizon my little brain has been bursting with ideas...

And the most exciting part? I've had the motivation to actually be deliberate about carving out the time to make a few things happen.

I've dusted off my hot glue gun. I've sharpened my scissors. And I've buried myself in felt and card stock, clothespins and toothpicks, tinsel and string.

I'm having so much fun!

Here's a sneak peak of his birthday party next weekend...

I'm having so much fun!

Oh, I said that already? Well, this sure beats preparing my incoming taxes, organizing my address book, or any of my other *ahem* more adult-like responsibilities. That's for certain!!

I keep asking myself why it's been so long since I've unleashed my crafty creativity on the world! And then I remember those... responsibilities. (Apparently the IRS doesn't take "crafting" as a legitimate excuse for an extension.)

But while I've found my groove, I'm gonna enjoy it. And not just for the party.

There's a project that I was inspired to do over a year ago to decorate Levi's nursery... But it never happened since it just never made it to the priority section of my to-do list. (Don't you hate it when you just live from one urgent thing to the next? Not good.)

I was determined to have this little project done before his first birthday... so finally, here it is - the Little Red Caboose inspired name letters for his room:

I love how these turned out! Such cute, unique, inexpensive room decor. (I sure wish I had done it a year ago like I meant to...)

When I'm able, I'll post a tutorial for how to make these. It's fun and easy!

And now, I must be off. I have banners and pinwheels and party favors to make.....

It's an exciting week folks! We're celebrating my baby and we're celebrating parenthood!

Dear friends, do you like to craft? I've found my crafty groove again during these last couple of weeks. I'm enjoying it while it lasts!


adriel booker | the mommyhood memos | 2010 
do not reproduce without written permission

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

the destination? or the journey?

Thirty-four-and-a-half. That’s the number of hours we spent waiting for planes and layin-over on our recent trip from Townsville-Sydney-San Francisco-Honolulu-Kona-Los Angeles-San Francisco-Bend-San Francisco-Sydney-Brisbane-Townsville.

I’m not ready to take that trip again anytime soon.

Thirty-four-and-a-half hours.

Oh, and that was not including our overnight layover in San Francisco due to inclement weather (which would take us to well over forty-five hours).

I’ve heard it said that it’s about the journey, not the destination… And I get that. But let me tell you, we wouldn’t go on a journey like that unless there were some really fabulous destinations on the other side.

So maybe it’s about the journey and the destination.

But when you have a travel itinerary as epic (read: long) as ours, you have to make the most of the journey… for everyone’s sake.

A few glimpses of how we spent our thirty-four-and-a-half hours:

We tried to make the most of our thirty-four-and-a-half.

There were frequent trips to Starbucks. There was Chinese take-out. There were naps on chests. There were naps on floors. There was window shopping. There were borrowed highchairs. There were meals on the floor. There were adventures in the Ergo. There was territory marked out in forgotten waiting areas. There were many repeats of the same four board books. There were handfuls of Cheerios… many handfuls. And there were even some extra moments with grandparents and friends to help us in the wait.

Some of those hours were better spent than others… but overall we did try to enjoy some “family time” together since it was [mostly] just the three of us with nowhere to go and nothing to do… except wait. And enjoy the moment.

Dear friends, do you find it easy or hard to enjoy the journey? Are you a “destination person”, a “journey person”, or a combination of the two?

arrived… home, that is,

adriel booker | the mommyhood memos | 2010 
do not reproduce without written permission

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