Soaking In The Trenches

It’s Friday.

I realize six weeks ago I was in a recovery room holding my brand new little boy.

But today I sit on the couch delicately balancing a hungry 12 pound baby in my left arm for what feels like the thirteen time since 5:00 am, and in my right hand, a book about trucks at the urging of a curious, wide-eyed, and talkative toddler. I look at the clock and it’s only 9:30 am. I swear it feels like afternoon. Maybe a little sun will come out by the end of the day. There’s something about sunlight that feels so hopeful. Thank heavens it’s the holiday season or I’m not sure I’d make it. I look back at the clock. 9:31 am.

When I notice the baby is falling asleep, I try to place his little body in the rocker. Slow and steady. Move one limb at a time so he doesn’t wake up. I feel my muscles shake a bit as I slow my movements down to a snail’s pace.

Don’t. Make. Any. Quick. Movements.

The rocker sits next to the overly expensive baby swing. We should really sell that thing. It sits next to the tummy time play station. These modern day pacifiers line the side of our living room like players on the side of the basketball court waiting to get called into play. A reminder of the many things we’ve invested in to try and unsuccessfully keep our newest colicky baby content even if just for a few moments. Those moments are rare ones where I use the bathroom without a baby awkwardly in my arms.

Yet, I find myself again trying to pull my leggings down in the bathroom so I can finally pee, trying hard not to drop my bobble-head baby, or lose balance over the carseat which I foolishly put in the bathroom last night after a rushed return home from music class. An exhausting music class where I apologized again and again for my toddler’s keen knack for running full force at the wall before banging it with both hands.

It’s a wrestling match trying to maneuver my own pants down because they’re maternity and the waistband goes all the way up to my bra. My bra that probably should be washed soon. I feel a pain in my side as I get one side down. I’m not sure if it’s my still healing surgery incision or a tight muscle somewhere in my back from nursing around the clock but the dull pain is there loud and clear like the cries my baby lets out the minute he wakes.

As soon as my behind hits the toilet, my toddler has come into the bathroom with a random assortment of toys and books filling his little arms. But he notices the toilet paper roll first. The toys drop to the floor. ‘Don’t unroll the toilet paper!’ I yell as the paper spills to the ground into what looks like a pile of ribbon. I reach up for the blinds to open them while I sit there. A sliver of gray light pours in. I’ll take it. The toddler plays with the piled up toilet paper. I pee in peace.

The days are long but the years are short, mama.

‘That’s not a step stool,’ I sternly say as my almost three year old flips the metal trash can over and empty toilet paper rolls, used breast pads, and other trash items like Lindt chocolate ball wrappers (guilty) roll all over the floor, collecting dog hair with them. How do we have so much dog hair in the bathroom? I decide to pick my battles. This isn’t one I’ll win.

‘Please don’t flush the toilet more than twice,’ I remind my little companion, as I stand up and wrestle my pants back up. I wash one hand and switch the baby to my other arm to wash the other. ‘Dry your hands, mommy,’ he reminds me and I smile. I dry my hands. Make a mental note to grab a new hand towel next time I’m upstairs.

Minutes feel like hours. Some days feel lonely.

On the kitchen counter my phone lights up. Our groceries have been delivered. Door to door grocery delivery; a luxury I realize but nonetheless an investment well worth it in this season. I feel a tinge of guilt for not getting out to the store myself but then I look at the kitchen, the living room, myself in the mirror and think twice.

‘Thanks for your help!’ I text to Kim, the kind woman who not only delivered my groceries but also shopped for new gloves for my son while she was at the store because daycare lost the last pair. I’m hoping that by the time I open our front door to collect my groceries, Kim will be gone. To my relief, when I open the door there’s only some snow-covered pumpkins out there with my groceries but I look at the plastic bags strewn across my porch, blowing in the wind, fennel bulbs exposed (an effort to be healthy), a carton of Silk eggnog on its side (a half effort to be healthy AND festive all at once) and sigh. Why didn’t I let her bring them into our foyer? The last gal did just that and maybe I actually liked it.

It takes me five different trips outside through our storm door to get the bags. My toddler stands in the doorway asking about the monkey. I pretend not to hear him. I’m shoeless and with a crying baby wrapped to my chest. I have to pee again. Have I drank any water today? No. I brushed my teeth though.

On the fifth trip out I decide to be bold and grab everything else out there at once but the storm door closes on me. ‘Open the door, buddy!’ I cheerfully ask my toddler through the glass. I grit my teeth. To my surprise he holds open the door, but then he trips over the groceries I’ve already brought it. The poor kid goes down and I go down after him, wondering if our neighbors are watching but mostly trying to make sure my kid’s beloved construction hard hat doesn’t blow into the yard. Don’t lose the hat. He sure loves that hat. Did we squish the eggs?

I abandon the groceries in favor of a breather only to see a sight that feels unfamiliar and very out of my control. There’s toys everywhere in our usually spotless home. Literally everywhere. How did toys even get in some of these places? They were put away only 10 hours ago. How can a mama have so many baby blankets thrown on every surface of the couch? And wait, did Lachlan just ask me about a MONKEY?

I stop and smother the baby with kisses. God, I love him.

‘Lachlan, I love you so much,’ I say. I make him look me in the eyes so he feels it.

‘I love you, mommy,’ he says back.

There’s a full bowl of raw muffin batter on the counter, made in a moment of earlier ambition, abandoned in favor of soothing a screaming baby and pulling down a three year old from a tower he made on the bench in our foyer (how did he even GET up there?). Why is the baby still crying? The toddler says there’s a monkey outside. What is this all about a monkey? ‘Go with it,’ I tell myself. They’re only little once. ‘A monkey! What do monkeys like to eat?’ I cheerfully reply. I read once that the best mamas engage with their little ones ‘Remember that,’ I remind myself.

Engage. Soak it all up.

My shirt’s wet. Time to feed a baby. I think the laundry machine stopped? It’s Friday, right?

My phone lights up again, ‘How’s it going?’ asks my husband. I wonder how single parents do it. Part of me wants to be honest and tell him I’m drowning and I bought three pounds of tenderloin instead of one, but I’ve got this. I start to text him back but out of the corner of my eye I see my toddler ramming play dough into the jute rug under our dining room table. I realize it’s a rug we want to get rid of anyway. Pick your battles, mama. ‘Fine,’ I text back to my husband. Just fine. And so it goes.

There are sweet days. And then there are hard days. They make up the melody of my life right now and I hesitate to write this, but I know without them life would not be as abundant or refining.

. . . . . . . . . .

A friend recently tagged me in one of those viral facebook articles encouraging moms to abandon their responsibilities in favor of holding their babies a little longer. You know the articles I’m referencing, don’t you?

They say one day you’ll pick your baby up and it’ll be the last time. The air escapes from my lungs for a second.

These articles instill fear and worry. At least for me, it sets off a feeling of panic that time is literally seeping through my in-need-of-a manicure fingers. I cannot get a grip. Those viral, well intentioned posts, make me feel like I’m not doing enough, soaking it up enough, loving hard enough. How can I be everything I’ve started to believe I need to be?

And it’s all a lie. Because we cannot be in a perpetual state of soaking and loving and snuggling. But this doesn’t mean we aren’t savoring the good stuff either. ‘Soak up the snuggles!’ always makes my heart sink. Stop saying this. Please, I beg you. I catch myself playing this soak up phrase over in my head in the dead of the night while I pray the baby doesn’t wake the toddler and the toddler doesn’t wake the husband and wait, why is everyone sleeping, mama wants to sleep! I AM soaking them up. The snuggles that is. But I’m also trying to manage a lot of other things, responsibilities, people and emotions. Life doesn’t pause for snuggles which could quite possibly be why they’re so sweet to begin with but I digress.

And so the soaking comes smack dab in the middle of bribing my toddler with another Lindt chocolate ball or tearfully calling my husband to tell him it’s been a day, and ‘are you close to being home yet?’ I secretly wish he’ll walk in the door with a latte for me. The sound of the garage door brings us all delight. I wonder what the dog thinks. Alexa loves me.

Sometimes the soaking comes in the middle of longing for my work. And the desire to be productive. And sometimes the soaking comes at midnight, 3:00 am and 5:30 am, and then again at 7:00 am and 9:00 am and so on, when despite the current season and how taxing and challenging it can be, it’s really sweet and absolutely savored.

Friday is almost over. I look at the stove clock and it says 415. Degrees that is. That’s right. I managed that today thank goodness. Dinner is cooking. I made a nice roast and it smells divine. The toys leftover from the morning don’t bother me as much right now. The sun never did come out. But the baby is finally sleeping even if he’ll wake soon. The toddler went to the dollar store to get cheap play dough. Remember what’s left of it is in the rug? It was decided we need more.

I sit at the table typing this out feeling a rush, or rather a sigh, of being at peace for a moment. A moment to myself. There are so many incredible days that pivot greatly from Friday. And tomorrow the sun will rise on a new day, a Saturday. And we’ll roll forward. In harmony with both the good and the hard.

The soaking in the trenches is sweet.

Photos lovingly captured by our friend Kelly Sweet Photography.

A Tale of Two Birth Stories

After the birth of my first son, Lachlan, I carried a lot of shame and guilt. I’ve never shared his full birth story like I had planned because it remains deeply personal and very much an experience that monumentally changed my life. But after giving birth to Everett, our second son and newest family addition, I can tell you with absolute certainty that the hardest experiences often reveal themselves to be the most refining. How I have been so lucky to have such different birth experiences nearly three years apart but with such common threads woven throughout is a blessing I’ll never quite wrap my head around.

So where do I start a blog post I promised myself I would never write? I’ll start here:

Three years ago I was a different woman. I used to run on control and perfection, often white-knuckling my way through life, and always fighting against circumstances beyond my control. When we found out we were expecting Lachlan in the spring of 2015 I did everything in my power to make sure I went through pregnancy the supposed ‘right’ way, even when it meant fighting against the cards we were dealt. The right way at the time, it seemed, was to do things as naturally as possible. This meant investing in essential oils and using them (unsuccessfully) to combat ailments, going to as many natural birth classes as possible, reading all of the natural birthing books I could manage in nine months, hiring a doula, preparing a meticulously detailed birth plan, and on a less tangible note, learning to stick to my guns in vulnerable circumstances should anyone (medical personal) try to challenge my natural birthing wishes. All or any of these things are not bad but they were some of the only things I educated myself on during my first pregnancy, and as such I believed them to be right and best.

Aside from being physically uncomfortable, everything seemed to go according to plan with my pregnancy and we approached my January 2016 due date feeling optimistic and ready. Our first son, Lachlan Rue, was born during a snowstorm at 12:40 am on January 18th after nearly 24 hours of miserable labor. He was born via a very rushed and scary emergency c-section after his heart rate had disappeared from the fetal monitor and I had began to bleed only minutes after giving in and asking for an epidural – a medical necessity and tool that for nearly ten months I believed to be dangerous and shameful. I remember after the decision was made to take me immediately into surgery, the doctors running down the hall with me in my labor bed, a fury around me of medical professionals, and all I had left was the strength to pray for my baby to make it.

Had I asked for my epidural only minutes later doctors would have had to put me under general anesthesia to safely deliver Lachlan. Had I of labored any longer without any pain control, chances are I would have passed out from sheer exhaustion and hours and hours of stacked contractions with no progress. Had I of declined medical intervention, fetal monitoring, pain control, or countless of other items as outlined in my perfect birth plan, I would have left the hospital that week childless.

Shame is defined as a painful feeling of humiliation caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior. And when put like that I can say with 110% certainly there was nothing I did, or I ever plan to do with my children, that’s categorized as foolish. It’s quite the opposite actually. While I make mistakes and certainly am imperfect, I, like most loving mothers, love my children unconditionally, many times to the point of tears because hey, I’m a feeler and these precious gifts bestowed upon me are such treasures.

While I used to view Lachlan’s birth as a result of my giving in, I now see my experience as humbling, beautiful, and one that only represents the strength I possess as both a mother and woman.

I am strong, capable, and deserving. I am a really good mother.

When we found out we were expecting Ev, I vowed to loosen my grip a little. I promised myself I’d enjoyed the journey even if again, we were dealt circumstances that failed to meet any expectations. Funny enough, my pregnancy this second time around was really hard and simply put, exhausting. Every pregnancy symptom you can think of I encountered. Morning sickness on and off my entire pregnancy, which once landed me in a hospital bed, severe insomnia for 15 weeks, restless leg syndrome, an all over itching that made being comfortable unbearable, an anti-e alloimmunization linked to severe anemia which meant monthly blood work and visits to the hospital to monitor baby’s growth with a specialist, and while it’s not a symptom, a long summer full of weddings, travel, chasing a busy toddler, and hotter than normal temperatures. While there were so many sweet moments growing this baby there were a lot of hard ones.

It was decided early on in my pregnancy that due to my anti-e condition, the size of our babies, and the kind of birth experience I had with Lachlan, a scheduled c-section would be a great option for my second delivery. At first I scoffed at the idea feeling like it might be too easy of a plan. Too predictable. But the closer we got to my due date, the more peace I felt about this being the best birth decision for me and our baby. After our gracious OB supported my decision and listened to my countless worries about how this felt like again, the easy way out (it’s not) we decided to move forward with a scheduled c section delivery.

The day before Ev’s birth, my dad and brother came into town from Canada. We spent the day together with Lachlan doing mundane but special things as a group; lunch at Panera, a quick stop at the local pumpkin patch to grab some pumpkins for our front porch, my Dad watching some TV at our house while my brother took a nap and I made a final batch of soap to cure while we were at the hospital. Andy and I packed up some final things for our hospital bag. We went to Lachlan’s music class that night and then a nice dinner out at a local restaurant. We came home and read stories to Lachlan, took a few final family-of-three selfies, and said extra special prayers that night for a seamless delivery the next morning. I took a nice long bath, curled my hair for the morning, and gave my dad and brother some last good luck hugs good night.

I spent most of the night awake (as usual with my insomnia) thinking of how Friday would unfold. What this birth wold be like, how it would differ from Lachlan’s, and if we would be presented with any surprises or complications. I tried to picture what Ev’s little face would look like, what I would feel when I first laid eyes on him, and what his brother would think when they first met. I reminded myself for what felt like the one hundredth time, to soak up every little part of this experience so it would be frozen in my memory. Eventually midnight turned to 4:45 am and it was time to leave. We loaded up our rental car (because our car broke down the week of Ev’s birth, go figure), listened to a little Whitney Houston on the way to the hospital, and reminisced about how the last time we made a similar drive it was in a snow storm while I managed through some pretty intense contractions. What a nice change it was to have a different sort of drive this time!

We checked into triage where a nice nurse names Kim greeted us. I remarked how odd it was to calmly walk into triage versus last time when I was wheeled in, out of breath, in an awful lot of pain, annoyed that the nurses wanted to get my weight before checking me in (of all things!). Kim complimented me on my shoes (which you may remember from this post) and we talked about how surprising it was that I was the only one in triage at that moment given that October 5th is the most popular day of the year to have a birthday (did you know that?). Once Andrew came in from parking the car we asked Kim to take one final photo of us together, and then we walked upstairs to our prep room where we would be briefed for surgery.

In our prep room we were greeted by many different people from the anesthesiologist who sure loved explaining all the nitty gritty of his job, the prep nurse who continually tracked Ev’s heart rate (a blessing to me after Lachlan’s birth), and a student who requested my permission to watch my procedure as part of her studies. Finally our sweet OB, Dr. Lalley came in the room and I was so relieved to see her! We went over standard procedure items, last minute questions, and with that she was off to prep for our 7:30 am delivery!

Once it was go time, I remember kissing Andrew good bye and telling him I’d see him soon to meet our son. And it was a really full circle moment to walk down the hall, cool and collected, without any help or running doctors surrounding me, towards the operating room. Me in my hospital gown, socks, mesh hospital bonnet, and IV wheeled beside me with a nurse on my arm walking towards where I would finally meet Ev. It was such a calm and peaceful walk full on anticipation. So very different from the last time I made that same trek, hurried and frantic, on all fours, scared out of my mind.

As I walked into the very brightly lit and very cold operating room, I was greeted by a team of doctors and nurses prepping the room. A few said good morning to me which I thought was sweet and I was helped up onto the table where I would be given my spinal block. A kind nurse held my shoulders and talked me through the procedure, encouraging me along the way and always checking in with me to ensure I was doing alright. By this time I had started to get nervous and anxious complete with some shaking, and I think she could tell I needed to lean on her a little. The best part was my chatty anesthesiologist remarking out loud to everyone in the room on how hard it was to get the spinal block into my spine because of all my muscle. “You must work out!” he cried out. “I’ve never seen back muscles like this on on patient before!” If lugging around a toddler and slinging flowers counts as working out then yes, I do.

Finally it was time to lay me back and get everything else in place for the surgery. I decided to keep my eyes closed during this part and to retreat into silence and prayer; partially to stay calm but also to battle the strong urge to get sick. Something about throwing up while laying horizontal hooked up to a million cords and machines felt risky. Andrew finally came in the room dressed in his scrubs and I instantly grabbed for his hand. It’s incredible how even though I didn’t feel any pain from what was happening, I could make out every bit of pressure and prodding. With Lachlan, my time in the OR was such a blur and all I remember is being wheeled into the room and the sweet cries of my new baby following shortly thereafter.

Before I knew it, everyone said it was time to meet our precious baby. I felt a strong whoosh sensation in my belly and everyone around me started oohing and ahhing. Then finally the sweetest sound, Everett’s cries followed shortly by my own. I don’t think I ever allowed myself to feel a lot of emotion throughout this pregnancy because I felt so miserable and truthfully went through it during a busy season of life. But those first cries were cries of redemption and it was one of the most special moments to be made a mom again for the second time in my life.

Andy looked down at me and said, just like he did when Lachlan was born, ‘Babe, he’s really really cute.’ Dr. Lalley held Ev up over the curtain for me to see and all I could remark through my own tears was, ‘Oh my baby!’ and what a sweet surprise to see his full head of dark brown hair! Everett was taken over to be cleaned up, weighed and his cord cut while my surgery was completed and some scar tissue from Lachlan’s delivery was cleaned up. ‘Do you do crossfit?’ asked Dr. Lalley in amazement! Looks like my muscle mass was a hot topic of the delivery room that day. We all had a good chuckle and a serious a ha moment when Andrew shared with everyone my past life as a high level gymnast.

Everett Drew Bosse was born at 8:02 am on Friday, October 5th, 2018.

We call him Ev.

Lachlan calls him ‘broey’ and it melts my heart every time his little voice says it.

Ev weighed 8 pounds and 3 ounces, just one ounce more than I predicted, two more than Andrew guessed, and right on with what Grandpa had estimated. He was born at 38 weeks and 6 days so I can only imagine how big he would have been had I of carried him to 41 weeks like I did with Lachlan! He was 20.5 inches long.

Long before our family became a reality, the name Everly was our top pick for a baby girl. My late Grandma’s name was Beverly and as someone I treasured and adored, I always imaged passing down her name to my own children in some capacity. Given our last name begins with the letter ‘B’ and the alliteration of Beverly Bosse felt off, we decided dropping the B made the most sense. But then somewhere in our adventure the universe thought it would be best to bless us with boys. our treasured name Everly became overly popular, and as such we decided to transform the name into a masculine version, Everett.

It’s my greatest honor to raise two boys alongside I man I greatly love and respect. I can only hope and pray that both of my boys and any future sons, grow into the kind of man I have the honor of calling my husband. Giving Ev his dad’s name as his middle was a decision that was very easily made. Drew is also what Andy’s parents call him so I loved being able to incorporate this part of their life into what is uniquely our own.

In addition to his full head of brown hair, Everett has dark cobalt eyes, big hands, strong limbs, and a little cry that somehow sounds really sweet even at 3:00 am. He may be very new to the world but already it feels like he’s been a part of ours for a lifetime. We cannot wait to see how he grows and our family changes because of him.

. . . . .

In our story, Lachlan comes before Everett, a carefully laid out plan that was uniquely created for our family. Without Lachlan there is no Everett, and without Lachlan’s story there is no truer version of me as a mother to be readily available for Everett the way I was when he was born. The birth of my two sons, while remarkably different from one another, hold so many similarities. They both marked milestones in my life where I’ve been challenged and changed in profound ways beyond my greatest expectations. They have represented pillars of change within myself, change where I can look back and regardless of specific circumstances, feel such gratitude for the many chapters we are continually adding to our story.

‘Above endless worry, she pursues endless peace’. Morgan Harper Nichols.

I am whole. I am strong. I am a mama of two. I am at peace.

Please enjoy some images our talented and gracious friend Sam captured of us at the hospital the same day Ev was born. We wanted to make sure we had photos of us three together as well as photos of our two sons meeting for the first time. It was a memorable experience and one of my favorite days ever. My robe is from Pink Blush and Ev’s swaddle and hat are from Milkmaid Goods.

As always, I am so grateful for you my readers! Your love and well wishes are always a source of joy. Sharing many milestones and snippets of the happiness they bring has been a part of my life for the last nearly decade. Thank you so very much for being a part. Xoxo

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