Jack’s First Thanksgiving

This is a year of firsts for us. For Jack, everything is a first – which is why I’ve been trying my hardest to make each holiday extra special (even though my son will remember none of it). Earlier this month we dedicated an entire week to celebrating Thanksgiving. Lord help this child when Christmas rolls around. Next to Christmas, Thanksgiving is one of my favourite holidays. Growing up, my parents would load our kick-ass, boxed style mini-van with a turkey, cranberry sauce and our little family to head north for Thanksgiving weekend. There is only one Thanksgiving I recall not being there – a weekend when my Dad threw his back out, and coincidentally, our hamster Molly kicked the bucket (R.I.P).

The first year Dave joined our family for Thanksgiving at the cottage was in 2012. We were just two early-20-something’s in love.

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First came love, then came marriage, then came our dog Louie, and THEN a baby carriage.

To celebrate Jack’s first Thanksgiving and our first year of marriage, Dave took a week off of work, and I went into overdrive planning excursions.

We packed our small, hatchback Volkswagen with turkey, cranberry sauce and our little family to head north for Thanksgiving weekend. We continued the tradition of spending Thanksgiving at the cottage.

20161009_110637 The cottage is home. It’s a structure that has weaved its way into my heart in way that could never unravel. I hope to weave this piece of my heart into Jack’s.

We spent three peaceful, warm autumn days laying fireside, watching movies, and hiking the wilderness (that’s really not that wild).

20161009_134305From there, Dave and I did the unthinkable.  We abandoned our 9 week old baby to spend a night alone celebrating our first wedding anniversary…in Blue Moutain. Fear not. He was with my totally-obsessed-with-their-first-grandchild parents, and I’d bet he was completely and totally smothered with love and kisses.

We started our night away with a beer tour at the Collingwood Brewery, a small, quite brewery about 20 minutes outside of Blue Mountain. I had the sampler – and after five small tasting flights felt like a 17 year old with their first taste of freedom.

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Childless and ready to party, Dave and I checked into the hotel and quickly made our way into The Village for an early dinner. After pounding pasta covered with primavera and washing it down with a cold glass of water, I crawled my way into bed at 9 o’clock (after pumping to keep my supply up, of course  – #momlife).

The next morning we grabbed a coffee and jetted up the mountain for an early morning hike.

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About a quarter-way up the mountain we stopped and hugged while we stood in silence. Between the chaos of a newborn and adjusting to life as parents, we remembered how to love but we forgot how to hug. Standing there with the sun beating on my back and my arms around my man was one of the most calming moments I’ve had in these last two and a half months.

After 18 hours of being away from our sweet, baby Jack, we craved him. Ditching our afternoon plans, we ventured home to scoop our kin from his dotting grandparents. “Do you think he missed me?” I asked Dave. “Of course” he replied. “Do you think he loves me?” I asked Dave. “Yes, he loves you” he smiled.

I showed up at my parents with tears flowing from my eyes… and my baby barely blinked.

To wrap up the week we did something I’ve always looked forward to – baby or not – pumpkin picking. Although this year I looked forward to it more than any year before. What two month old isn’t dying to pick a pumpkin? The answer: all two month olds, especially mine:

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We got a cute family photo –  though, Jack was less than impressed.

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To me, Jack’s first Thanksgiving was everything I could have dreamed of and more. It laid the foundation for tradition, gave this momma some much needed time to relax, and created some beautiful memories – that we will always keep in our heart and Jack can one day admire through photos.

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Jack | One Month Old

Dear Jack,

Today you are one month old. Life before you seems like a distant memory. Adjusting to having you in our world rather than in my tummy has been one of the most incredible experiences your Dad and I have had the privilege living. This isn’t to go without saying that having a newborn hasn’t been a lot of work.

Our new life has been complicated, messy and often unpredictable. Your Dad has quickly grown to resemble a member of the Nascar pit-crew. He approaches a diaper change with speed, precision and great care – constantly challenging his time  and improving on his method to avoid and combat disaster. While I on the other hand have quickly grown to resemble my pre-teen self. I enjoy 2 hour windows of sleep, have my very own brand of eau due parfum and wear pajamas as if they’re “what’s hot” this season. There are nights I seem to rock you endlessly, as you press against my chest while I whisper lullabys in your ear. There are days I drink my coffee ice cold because you’ve pooped on me for what will be the first of many times of that day. Then there are days I look at you and cannot believe my body was able to create something so perfect. That your Dad and I were able to create something so perfect.

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The speed in which time has passed this month has terrified me. I’ve been warned that my life will flash before my eyes as I watch your life grow – and now it’s happening. As I fold your little newborn clothes and pack them into storage, my heart aches and celebrates the next step you’ve taken in your very fresh but very real life.

You have gone from our tiny 7 pound, 10 oz infant to our sturdy ten pound baby.  You have beautiful grey-blue eyes and have started to use them to explore your new world. You are beginning to recognize your Dad and I,  and you capture our hearts with each gassy smile. You love bath time, car rides and being rocked and swayed to rap music. It appears you have your Dad’s taste in music, we’ll work on that.

Jack Josef, you are the apple of so many eyes. You have brought sleepless nights and endless joy to this little kingdom you call home. Each and every day your Dad and I grow and learn more about you, more about being a parent and more about each other. The best part about having you here is the new purpose and thrill we’ve discovered in our lives.

This is only the start my sweet boy – of change, of learning, of the love we expect to grow within our home and family, and you are in the center of it all.

 

 

Introducing Jack Josef

Four days ago, on August 6 at 4:59 p.m. my husband Dave and I welcomed our first child and son. We are overjoyed and so very proud to introduce you to Jack Josef:

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Jack was born at 38 weeks 4 days gestation, and in true Jack fashion – wanted to make his entrance into the world one to remember.

The day before Jack’s birth I was a ticking time bomb. I literally spent the entire day sobbing. My mom called me, I sobbed. Dave called me from work, I sobbed. Jack had dropped into position at 31 weeks and by this point I was having the “I’m done with pregnancy” feeling many Mom’s experience in their third trimester. Although I had been uncomfortable for weeks leading up to Jack’s birth, I had not experienced such a rush of uncontrollable emotions – thankfully Louie was around to lick up all my tears before I drowned in them.

That afternoon Dave decided to lift my spirits by treating me to what would be our last date-night as “just us two”. We polished off too many servings of all-you-can-eat vegetarian sushi  and made our way to Canadian Tire to stock up on some final items before Jack arrived. It appears all the sushi left little room for Jack because as soon as I stepped out of the car I felt a pop in my abdomen. I turned to Dave to tell him something felt wrong (seriously, I thought my bladder exploded) but before I could get the words out – gushes and gushes of water began pouring out of me in the middle of the parking lot. Side note: this dramatic gush only happens in about 10% of pregnancies. Two 15 year old Canadian Tire employees looked at me with fear and horror in their eyes – I began laughing uncontrollably – super clean Dave grabbed whatever towels/blankets he could find in his car and lined his front seat before loading me in. Off to the hospital we went!

This is how we arrived at the hospital – I was pre-contractions – Dave was convinced I was a rockstar – we had no idea what kind of agony I was about to undergo.

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Since I wasn’t contracting, the hospital sent me home and told me to return when my contractions were four minutes apart. Within one hour, my contractions were four minutes apart – and let me tell you – contractions = not fun. I laboured at home for 6 hours before I found myself vomiting on our front lawn from pain. It would be a total of 17 hours of labour and one hour of pushing before we would meet the baby boy who had been living in my belly.

Since the arrival of Jack my heart has exploded with love in more ways than I can imagine. I’ve become even more obsessed with Dave, as I watch him transition into the most incredible father. This man was literally rubbing chapstick on my lips and giving me sips of water between each pushing cycle, he’s changed 99% of our sons diapers, and he’s up with me each and every night to help me feed our especially sleepy baby.

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We are so thankful for all of the support extended to us during our pregnancy and now, with the arrival of Jack. We cannot wait to share this new adventure in our lives with you.

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Thoughts on Pregnancy as it Comes to a Close

At this exact moment last summer my fiance and I were cruising down the highway with the windows down and fine wine sitting in the back seat waiting to be sipped on a dock at sunset – we were living the life. We were two mid-20 somethings in the middle of planning a wedding and buying our first home together. We had dreams about the life we were about to embark on as husband and wife, and a large part of that dream was to become parents.

This summer is a world different than last. Dave and I are married, we’re moments away from becoming “mom” and “dad”, and the spontaneous days of wine-filled weekends are only a distant memory.

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I’ts been a little while since I’ve put pen to paper…or keyboard to screen, if you will. I’ve been caught up in experiencing these new and different summer nights. Caught up in listening to crickets chirp at sunset, and sipping tea on the porch while my husband sips his caffeine. Caught up in anticipation for the arrival of our son. And most recently, caught up in my thoughts.

Pregnancy has broken and healed my heart repeatedly over the last 34 weeks.  It pains me greatly to admit that my pregnancy has been challenging and difficult but I have never carried my son without gratefulness, I have never stopped counting my blessings. My blessings extend beyond our son to our family and friends, who have rallied around us and provided us with an outpouring of love and support.

There have also been moments where people’s comments and questions have caught me off guard. Moments that have strengthened me and my ability to hold my composure when faced with great ignorance.

Although my pregnancy has been emotionally draining and although I’m scattering these words across a page while on bed rest due to an escape attempt by my son 9 weeks earlier than his anticipated arrival – I sit here in awe, in love and in wonder of the journey the last 8 months has taken us on.

From the moment two pink lines on a stick dissolved all my worries of ever carrying a child to discovering we were having son that may have a chromosomal micro-deletion, to tears we cried when we learned he was healthy and the fear that filled us when we learned he is impatient like his momma, to this moment right now, where I feel him roll and flutter and kick inside my body which has become his home. All of it has been surreal, humbling and life changing.

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Until my son started powerhouse kicking me in my ribs, squishing my lungs, and sticking his bum straight out of my belly, there were many things I hated about this miraculous experience.   I hated all the hardships we had to experience and I hated feeling out of control. However something has overcome me in the last few weeks. Maybe it’s the fact that my son could arrive at any moment or the lesson’s I’ve learned over the last 8 months – but I am so incredibly grateful for every lesson Dave and I have been volunteered to learn.

Last summer we thought we were living the life – but today, we are living our destiny. It may be without wine, it may be without spontaneity, it may be with my feet permanently kicked up and my child’s head so low in my cervix that I nearly cry every time I have to move, but this is where we’re meant to be. Every hurdle we had to cross – it was meant to be. Every tear we cried in fear – it was meant to be.

I really questioned whether or not I’d want to do this all over again, carry a child. Whether my 16x20 sunshine print yellownext pregnancy will be as difficult as my first – but one of my cousin’s wisely advised me that one day this will all be a memory, and my son will be my reality. I will hold him, I will love him, I will care for him, I will look at him in awe and know he is the reason I was able to survive. We know parenting will be filled with many more learning experiences that will challenges us, but as we grow closer to meeting the little boy who strengthened our relationship, strengthened our faith, strengthened our love for our own parents and grew our hearts, we grow more certain that he will be a force that will continue to better our lives each passing moment.

Feelings of a First Time Mom

This morning I found myself tuned into a talk radio show on pregnancy and parenthood. Like anything these days that has to do with parenting, my ears perked up and my attention was drawn. One of the hosts was weeks away from her due date and sharing her excitement of becoming a first time mom. My heart smiled. I feel you, sister. Her co-host laughed, quickly deflating her optimism with some real-life advice:

“Parent’s lie about how wonderful parenting is” he began. “We want other people to be sucked into our misery.”

The insight to the chaotic reality of parenting went on for minutes, officially ending with an awkward laugh from the pregnant host. For first time parents, the “end of life as you know it” comments are a dime a dozen. And as naive as we may be to the demands of parenting – in this moment, as our baby is safely swaddled in our wombs, we’re elated…and we’re terrified.

I remember the exact thoughts I had the day Davey and I found out we were going to become parents.

I can’t believe this is happening. 

Holy shit, a product of my broad-shouldered husband has to make it’s way out of my body in 9 months.

Who decided we were adult enough to be the sole providers for a human life? 

My life and my heart are officially complete. I’m so in love. 

And since that day, the feeling has relatively stayed the same.

20160511_215058The idea that the actions, words and decisions my husband and I make will form the development, safety and happiness of a human is daunting. The thought that we chose to bring a life into this world and are now responsible for the stable upbringing of a child is immensely overwhelming. I often question my ability to be a strong mother. Wonder how the hell my belly can grow any larger without exploding. Mourn the loss of Dave and I being “just us two”. Fear the pain, discomfort and unknowns of labour.

On the flip side of this fearful wonder is breathtaking thrill. A keenness to explore the world through a new set of eyes.  An appetite to teach our child about humanity and hopefully raise him or her to be compassionate. A wonder and imagination for the traits we’ll share and what they will look like. A dream about our new adventure as a family of four (we’re counting Louie).

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Between all my doubt, anticipation, wonder and excitement there is love. An emotional equation I believe all parents experienced their first time around. And although seasoned parents may snicker at my naivety – I know there is no shame in the naivety I hold.

I trust parenting won’t be easy. I trust my relationship will change, that I’ll go days un-showered,  live solely off caffeine and fondly reminisce the days of freedom. However, the concept of becoming a mother makes me so excited I could pee my pants (if I wasn’t already peeing a little from my baby’s pressure on my bladder).

So ease up, folks. Let us first time parents be naive. Let us be optimistic. Let us learn the hard way. We’re already afraid of what we’re losing yet so eager for what we’re gaining. In those moments of weakness, those endless nights of crying, we’ll need you to reminisce with us. We’ll lean on you to soak in those moments of chaos. But for now, just like we’ll live the world through a new set of eyes, relive your first time in becoming a parent through ours. Because for us, it is pure magic.

 

 

 

 

On Choosing Happiness and Celebrating my Husband on His Birthday

Today, is April 22nd, my darling husband’s birthday. A day I obsessively try to perfect as I attempt to make each of his birthday’s better than the last.

When Dave and I first met, I questioned whether our relationship would be lasting. We are opposite and contrary forces – yet, he compliments me, balances me and interconnects with me in a way that creates harmony in our relationship.  Through heartache and through laughter, through life’s great lessons and through unexpected moments, through our triumphs and through our failures, being his wife will always be one of the greatest honours in my life.

To share my life with Dave is a continual ‘pinch me’ moment I never get tired of. Each morning I wake up to him, my heart swells with love. I fill with excitement as I soak in his brilliance, his company and his kindness. My heart oozes with adoration as he anticipates the arrival of our child. My mind is in awe at his incredible way of understanding and processing the world. He is truly one of a kind.

People have told me that I’m lucky to have found Dave. Without denying truth, there are days I do indeed feel lucky. However, acknowledging that Dave and I chose one another rather than found each other through luck is important.  We built our relationship on a foundation of hard lessons learned. Lessons that once tore our hearts apart at the hands of undeserving individuals. It was only through those lessons and learning from past mistakes that we would be able to open our hearts to one another.  We learned to value ourselves and only give each other away to a person willing to love the good, the bad and the sometimes ugly in us. We learned to pick and choose our battles and to always respect one another, even during our greatest disagreements. Falling in love with one another was a decision our hearts made, but  giving our best to each other and making a continuous effort to have our relationship work is a mindful choice we make each and every day.

Davey, today I celebrate you. The man you are, the professional you are, the kind, caring and selfless individual you are. I celebrate the days you make me frustrated and the days you make me fall hopelessly in love with you all over again. Today, I celebrate your compassion and your support. Your way of comforting me when I’m nearly inconsolable. I celebrate your optimism, especially when it relates to our pregnancy.  Davey, I celebrate your love for your family and the love you have extended to mine. I celebrate your brilliance and your love of learning. Your sense of humor and your laid back approach to every day life. But Davey, most of all, I celebrate that you chose me to celebrate your remaining birthdays with.

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Happy birthday my darling. Though Dave’s Birthday-Fun-Day-Extravaganza will be a little less extravagant and a little more in tune with our current stage in life, I hope today makes you feel loved, honoured and celebrated.

All my love,

A

 

 

The Results Are In…

Dave and I are overjoyed to share that our sweet little Pork Chop has officially been cleared of all genetic/chromosomal conditions!!!!!!

Of all the times I’d love a drink to celebrate, this is it but instead, we’re going to treat ourselves to a round of ice cream!

There are no words to express the relief and happiness (happy is an understatement) we feel right now, which is probably why I’m sitting here blubbering away as I write this.

It’s always so much easier to be positive on the flip side of things, but faith, love and kindness from others kept us strong. If you’re currently going through a shitty situation, we pray you can find some light in your darkness.

Peace & love,

Annie and Davey