Craft Conspiring

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Invasive Procedures

The last few nights have been a series of tossing and turning, checking the baby monitor, and dreaming about cuddly puppet eye explosions; seeing my very, very missed diving coach; and invasive procedures involving small cameras and puncture holes in my abdomen.  All of these dreams are impossible, other than the small cameras making puncture holes in my abdomen.  That's happening in two days.

At moments over the last year I have felt like the poster child for post-birth complications.  During tossing and turning I have often debated whether post-natal is the real term.  Anyway.  After a long birth, somewhat destroyed pelvic floor, excessive bleeding, a retained placenta, a botched D and C that left a perforation in my uterus, mastitis times two, thrush, and now Ashermans Syndrome with endometriosis complications, well, I am making myself real tired.  I recently completed a growth chart for our Em's second Christmas and wrote "It is a grand adventure," at the top.  I wanted to include, "with my uterus," but figured that would ruin the thing for future-Squish, who, by the way, is the coolest person in all the world.  Not kidding.

In a metacognition sense I thought writing about these feelings would help me find calm, but now I've devolved into writing about writing and my foot is anxiously moving on our breakfast bar stool.  I am so thankful that Squish is healthy, and for the health of our family and our friends.  I am so thankful for our home that I deck for the Christmas season in a continuous process of moving one thing here or there, then going outside wrapped in a blanket to check the look.  I am thankful for love: from my husband, friends, our baby, our family, our neighbors.  I am thankful for the gifts of the season, the advent of waiting and expecting, the peace of snow falling, hot meals, and all the excesses we enjoy.  I remain grateful.

So in two days I will do my best to keep that perspective despite the continuing impending floundering of my uterus and news that it no longer works.

We are enough.  We have enough.  I am enough.

Blessings to you, this holiday season.  Stay warm and hope-filled.

xo jo

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Onederful

My coffee has little bubbles popping at its top after being reheated in the cafe's microwave.  I've been here for three hours completing final projects for my current class while ordering prints of pictures of our Em from my phone when the cafe's internet acts up.  A year ago today I thought, "I'll meet my baby this month."  Today, I think, "This will be my baby's second December."  It's the last week of her first days of the year, but not the last week for anything else.  There are so many firsts still to come: walking, talking {coherently}, making jokes, stating her opinions in actions rather than grunts, hair bows, and countless adventures with and without her daddy and I by her side.  I have been evaluating my feelings over the past two months leading up to this one year milestone, mainly anticipating the heartache I will feel for the loss of her first year, mainly anticipating said heartache because of the countless people who have warned me that I will feel x, y, and z when she turns one.  But our Em makes me feel something different than these expectations.  Our Em makes me feel alive.

Our Em.  She's still called and for the foreseeable future will remain, our Squish.  She started moving quickly overnight, pulling down the washcloths from our kitchen cabinets, sticking her hands in the dog's water, hiding behind the backdoor curtains, wrinkling her nose at the Christmas lights on the tree in her room and the big one in the living room, pulling up and bouncing in her crib, or really, anything with which she can use to stand.  She dares her world by letting go of things with one hand and tentatively taking a step with one of her perfect, sometimes one-sock-on-one-off, feet.  For now, that's as far as she gets, and for now, she'll grunt through life when she wants something or doesn't want something, will cry when she's tired or doesn't want a diaper change, will listen and watch intently, and will smile at everything in her world she deems worthy, which lucky for us, really is nearly everything.

I've stopped myself from saying, "I can't wait for her to (fill in the blank)..." because I want to stay in each moment, even the tough ones when my hips hurt and her cries are tearless and it's the third trip to her bedroom at 3 a.m.  Even those moments are short and priceless and lately end with her resting her perfect head on my or her daddy's shoulder because she just wants a snuggle and to be rocked before falling back to sleep.  Fine, I'll snuggle you, Squish...if you only knew I'd do it all day every day if you'd let me.  Staying in the moment seems to make each new thing she does that much more remarkable.  She grabbed an ornament off the tree the other day, for example, then yesterday found it in her toy basket and crawled over to the tree to put it back on.  She's a genius, I tell you what.

And so, I feel alive because I get to hang out with this little, perfect, wonderful, evolving being, and she gets to teach me about what it's like to grow from the very beginning, onwards.  Humans truly are remarkable.  I've said that it's deceptive when people remind me of how quickly time goes because what is really true is that so much happens in such a short amount of time for our babies.  What is remarkable though, is to realize I am also growing and evolving so very much at the same time.

When I hunt through the pictures from the last year, I do not want to go back.  I yearn to remember all of it, but not to go back.  I love the being Em is now, the one she will become, and all the little (baby) steps in between.  It is the coolest thing in my life that she is my baby.  She is my favorite first.  On this anniversary of one whole year passing, I rehearse the many children books now committed to memory, and specifically remember this verse: "Fox socks box knox, fox in socks, knox on box, fox in socks on knocks on box."  Just kidding, Squish, "You are my darling, my angel, my star.  My love will find you wherever you are."  And for now, you're probably in your little crib, wiggling your perfect heiny in the air until you find the perfect, comfortable spot and drift off to afternoon nap dreamland.

Thank you for being the miracle you are.  We cherish your every breath, little nugget.  To all the rest. Happy First Birthday, you, remarkable baby, you.

Love,
Your Mama

Monday, August 15, 2016

I Couldn't Remember the Name of This Blog.

I've written over the last eight months, which feels like one hundred years, even though I don't know what one hundred years feels like, I am pretty sure it feels like this - and these months have been...momentous.  We had a kid, for the love.

I've written over the last eight months, mainly on the Notes feature of my iPhone while rocking in the gloriously smooth glider in the babe's room, praying that she's falling asleep in my blanketed arms, or peeking through her crib rails to see if her eyes are closed; while walking around on each monthiversary, making sure I don't forget a moment of the moments, trying to avoid furniture-obstacles and staircase hazards.  I've written while using the restroom; while breastfeeding; while laying in bed knowing I should be sleeping, but wanting to remember it all.  I've let autocorrect have its way with my fumbling fingers, often declaring I would come back and edit said Notes during the next nap time; but I haven't.  And the entries get printed and lovingly pasted into the monthly plug-and-play scrapbook so that I, like so many mothers, won't forget the millions of changes, milestones, and I CAN'T BELIEVE SHE DID THAT moments that occur daily.  I've written while crying out of happiness and exhaustion and desperation because I know that all of this is ending and all of this is beginning at the same time.  It is miraculous, unique, humbling, humbling, humbling, joyous, exasperating, and really, supercalifrajilisticexpealidocious, if I'm sticking with honesty.  I have never been so mad and so in love with my husband, or my body for that matter, nor have I ever been so insanely and blindly in love with another being.

Her name is Emerson Mayuree.  She is ours.  We call her Squishy.  She is everything.  She is little and so big all at once.  She laughs.  She cries.  She talks.  I don't know what she's talking about.  She jumps like a baby Olympian.  She looks wonderful in her baby dress-up that I (and the Husband, auntie, and grandmas) play with her.  She feels wonderful in her footed jammies, or after her bath, or when I pick her up from her crib after her nap, or rock her, or cuddle her even though she's turning away because she's so smart and wants to see everything in the world.  She moves her mouth to make new sounds and watches intently while we make new sounds to her.  She cries when I leave the room and audibly sighs when I return.  She makes me feel like a superhero and a wrecked, crazed mess all at once.  I do not think I knew the capacity of my heart until her; but she's taught me.  She's taught me all about life without knowing she's a teacher.  I can't fathom life without her.  She takes up a space that we didn't know needed filling.  She takes up that whole space and expands the rest of our existence to a living-fully feeling.  She is an Einstein of babyhood and a genius of loving.  She still poops her pants.

Tomorrow she starts daycare and I really don't know what to do to subside the anxiety, guilt, and tears, so I return to many of the blogs I read pre-baby and realize that maybe if I write here, for a different purpose, I will understand.  She's only attending a couple days a week while I finish never-ending grad school, but really, I feel like I could learn everything from her, so shouldn't I stay home.  There's no question mark there because that remains open-ended, minus my school-debt, so really, it's pretty finite, but I'm not ready for that yet.

So alas, I sigh, dread, hope, and smile because she fills me with warmth, and, after all, the sign in our kitchen says, "Not to spoil the ending for you, but everything is going to be ok."  And that little, wise sign is right.  Everything is ok, beautiful, and miraculous.  We finally had a kid.  The kid to end all kids, if you ask us.  Tonight, like so many other nights, the Husband and I voted.  And, again, it was unanimous: she's the best kid in the whole world.

We are so lucky.  

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Hashtag, Life Adventures.

The Husband and I are learning - about our birthing options, how to shut off the gas in our new home, the exorbitant cost of window treatments, and most apropos to this moment, learning what happens when the rental lease you've broken doesn't stipulate terms for early release.  LESSON: In Colorado, if there are no terms, it's a legally binding contract.  Dun Dun Dun.

At this moment our 32-week-old unborn, Trux, and I are sitting on the floor of the VRBO trailer we rented soaking in the warmth coming out of an heater vent.  When we woke up this morning, the gas had been off for most of the night and the inside of our mobile home was around 42 degrees.  LESSON: Trailer resources need refueling and refilling every 24 hours or so.

Last Thursday through Sunday was a whirlwind.  We arranged to move out of our rental; packers came and loaded our stuff; movers moved our belongings to storage; we then slept on our guest mattress, which was covered in plastic in the middle of a canyon of boxes; arranged for cleaners and carpet cleaners to scrub the house down; completed hours of yard work with the help of handymen; and secured this VRBO trailer to live in for the week.  Now our closing is delayed and needless to say, I need to push back new house deliveries and set ups, and find somewhere else for us to stay another night.  LESSON: Don't plan on your plans.

And finally, I am sure I will look back on this sleeping arrangement fondly (we'll see), but the bed in our trailer is not equipped for the 8th month of pregnancy.  After night one, we moved the couch cushions under the mattress so my hips would stop hurting from laying on cardboard, or concrete, or particle board, or whatever it is that is supporting the futon of a mattress.  Nights two and three were spent tossing and turning (which is a relative phrase since turning over involves an odd, on-all-fours, groaning movement), so by night four, I splurged and bought a Leachco pillow to support this baby and all the other aches and pains.  The size of the pillow, though, takes up most of the is-it-really-even-full-sized mattress and so on my every-two-hour pee breaks throughout the night I shuffle to the end of the bed, use the restroom, then whip the pillow thing around, inevitably hitting the Husband, to move the contraption to its other side, and somehow crawl from the foot of the bed back into the pillow cocoon without ab muscles and core strength of any kind.  I write this not as a tale of woe inducing pity, but as a warning: pregnancy requires a large bed.  LESSON: Adapt quickly - months 8 and on are (so) uncomfortable.

In a few days, I am sure I'll come back to this and write how thankful I am for this moment and the adventure and all the other wonderful things happening, but for now, that much positivity makes me sick.  The leaves are turning though, so I think I'll try for some fresh air before diving into school work.

Lots of love,
Jo


Thursday, August 6, 2015

The One About the Baby.


“There must be those among whom we can sit down and weep and still be counted as warriors.” 
― Adrienne Rich

I've put off writing for various reasons over the last few months.  I think mainly, writing about uncharted territory and the vast amounts of gratitude I feel seem like insurmountable tasks; but I told myself I would try.  In many, many words and a few pictures (I anticipate) this is the Husband and my current journey of next-generation creating, of losing and loving and living, of fear and freedom, elastic waste bands in the midst of life (and pillows), and a journey that ends, but truly begins, around December 10th, 2015.  Read on if you have a trial of life to overcome or simply if there is room for hope in your day (or even, if there's not).  It is cliche, but we've created something out of what seemed to be …nothing.   This is our miracle.

"We may just need to get new friends," were my words after meeting up with three of my best childhood girlfriends, their significant others, and their children.  Three of their older children joined the playtime while three fetuses rested peacefully in all of their wombs.  If you're the couple without kids, regardless if you want them, my guess is you can relate.  I contributed to conversations about diapers, sleep habits, terrible twos, and number twos with small bits of laughter and attempts to involve any child in my proximity in riveting conversations about the nature of blue and red blocks, just to avoid eye contact with the moms that are my dear friends, but that now have departed on journeys of their own.  I was bitter, I was somewhat lost, I felt alone.

Infertility is selfish, mysterious, lonely, aggressive, silent, personal, fear-ridden, sad, monotonous, and many different adjectives for many different people, but it is also filled with a quiet, sometimes desperate, hope.  If you choose, infertility is also filled with doctor's appointments, various hormone treatments, invasive procedures, and lots of ultrasounds, not to mention a box where you drop off your dignity near the front door.   Over the years we were paired with doctors that cared, doctors who we met once that shuffled us through the back door, and on to nurses who feigned interest.  I sat atop countless exam tables feeling the whole process was unnatural, could be avoided, and that perhaps it was just not our purpose, let alone our time, to have children.  There are many factors that affect fertility, not the least of which is mental health, and needless to say, the Husband and I were dealing with what seemed like a forever ascending staircase.

After more deployments and life events in and out of our control, we took a break from treatments.  I went back to school, we moved, and the Husband found employment far more rewarding than previous experiences.  When we decided to try again, I read a host of books on the benefits of Eastern medicine and began acupuncture treatments, coupled with herbal supplements, a lack of drinking (gasp), and early-morning temperature readings.  We were going to do this on our own.  ...But still, no babies.

So when we gave in to Western medicine once again and were paired with a new doctor our friends praised, we also felt we were in a better state - healthier, happier, freer.  Our friends remarked, "This is exciting!  Now you know you'll eventually have a kid!"  But I still doubted.  As we talked through the first appointment relaying our journey to another new doctor, I sat just behind the Husband's right shoulder so he could not see my inability to keep my composure while the doctor spoke factually with a thick, endearing accent, nonchalantly handing me tissues to wipe away my frustration and anger.  Despite being in a better place, I didn't want this to be our journey, after all.

Let it be.

Fertility drugs are sometimes sent via first class mail in refrigerated boxes lined with pages of instructions, warnings, and needle disposal kits.  We popped ours in the vegetable drawer of our fridge and the Husband popped injections into my abdomen with the ease of his Army medic training.  I developed a belt of dot bruises, and we kept our chins high.  At this point, I took self-care to a new level and stopped anything that resembled a shock to my body (a conservative approach, yes, and also slightly crazy), did not let my feet get cold (which in Colorado last winter meant wearing three pairs of socks at all times), drank only room-temperature liquids, avoided alcohol, caffeine, and exercise (Joanna without a crutch and on hormones?  Hide.), quit Cross-fitting, and resembled a highly-vitamined, more on-the-verge-of-a-breakdown version of myself.  We went through a month of treatments.  I was convinced the treatments did not work.

On the morning we could test for pregnancy I cried before I took the test.  I limited myself from buying a caseload of pee sticks to use to test early.  That single test was nearly all I thought about for two weeks (the TWW anyone?), or I suppose I could say that test had always been something for which I thought of constantly since we decided to start trying (#TTC) over five years prior.  That test was either going to be the test, or just another.

That was it.  That damn stick.  That blessed stick.

I shook during the three minutes we waited for the results at 5:45 a.m. on a Tuesday, leaving the test on our bathroom counter while I crawled timidly back into bed, the entire time asking my husband if he could check, repeating that it wasn't positive, how could it be, I'd gotten my hopes up too high, I didn't feel pregnant, why would this have worked.  His calm presence stilled me.

And then.

I covered my mouth when I saw the results, then I covered my eyes, then I looked at the Husband still lying in bed, then I burst into tears.

Like any pregnancy, friends, family, strangers, doctors, and your mind for that matter, give you an onslaught of solicited and unsolicited advice.  Convinced this was still unreal despite the doctor's visits confirming the opposite and being released from the fertility clinic to a regular OB after a few months of monitoring, I spent the first trimester in a cocoon of nauseated worry wrapped in a prayer shawl my mom graciously gave me.  After pregnancy losses in the past, I'm sure I am not alone in this practice, but fear, fear became an entity - my friend and my enemy - my companion that created doubt, worry, and numbness.  I restricted myself from the internet message boards of hysterical, hormonal women going through something similar, binged on saltines, and paced in the worried space I created while watching record amounts of Colorado May rain fall outside.  The first trimester ended.

We bought a stroller off of Craiglist, were gifted two onesies after we shared the news with friends and family, purchased a pair of tiny Chucks for an iPhone photo op, found a Timbuk2 diaper bag on sale, and feel like that's enough for now.  I have Honey Almond Bath Salts, elastic waste bands, and two bins of cocoa butter I was also given that offer comfort and more external reminders of the changes to come, but otherwise, this journey is internal: filled with family tears from generations passing away to long conversations about names that we will not consider.  This journey in many ways is ours, but we're also fitting our feet into the bounty of footprints that have walked this path before, choosing which steps fit for comfort, stress-relief, parenting practices, to calm nerves, and for the general happiness of bringing another person into the world…and that is a sacred, crazy, hard-to-believe miracle.

Halfway through the 40 weeks we scheduled and rescheduled ultrasounds, switched doctors, and requested our new, awesome doc please please please guess the gender on a non-gender ultrasound.  We both held our breath thinking we would know best how to raise a boy, but knowing deep down the babe was probably a girl.  With 85% certainty I baked a reveal cake like all the other excited families on Pinterest, felt cliche, but was/am so excited, and we announced in person to my family and over text to a few friends, then waited for the official gender ultrasound to confirm the results.  Meanwhile, this beautiful little babe started to wiggle and dance, jerk and convulse, and gave us plenty of evening entertainment in which to revel.  Not to mention the fact that its nose and that of the husband's appear to be the exact same - and that makes my heart swell.

I am someone who does not relax easily, who wants to accomplish a lot all at once, and I am someone who needs constant reminders of how to stay in the moment, breath, and be grateful.  With this miracle though, it is easier.  Obviously there will be challenges and hard moments ahead, but today, these days, I get to be pregnant, and that makes me feel like the impossible is possible if only the right amount of effort, time, patience, diligence, support, and faith are dug up from the core of this earth and laid to rest on the heart.  

“Dance, when you're broken open. Dance, if you've torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you're perfectly free.” 

― Rumi

“The connections between and among women are the most feared, the most problematic, and the most potentially transforming force on the planet.” 


It's a girl.

(Can't you see the Husband's nose? Swoon.)


All my love, 
Jo




Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A Pillow for a Guy! for the Day of Dads.

Last month, a dear friend sent a custom order request for a Father's Day pillow for her husband, who also happens to be a dear friend (and they're new parents!), and the subject?  One of all of our favorite places on earth: Bishop, CA.  

This place - 



A lover of climbing, his BMW, and surfing (probably not in that order exactly), his wife asked that the pillow represent all of the above with a little bit of green included.  I was pretty intimidated feeling that a pillow made for a guy, especially a man as great as this guy, was a difficult hill to climb, but I do enjoy challenges.  

So the sketch was sent for approval...


And the pillow was created with his CA BMW toting a surfboard, the Sierra, some bouldering rocks, and as always, lots of love included.





To many more years of climbing, memories, Father's Days, and laughter.  Thanks for the honor, friends.  

Miss and love you,  
Jo


(P.S. I guess our climbing pics are on Dano's camera, but this will have to do. ;))


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Custom Order Recap: A Mother's Day, Rain-Inspired Delight

Hi, Hey, Hello!  It's been a while.  I hope it's been real.  I hope you celebrated your mom, or any important woman in your life, to the fullest of your capacities.  We had a three-day celebration for my mom here in CO and it was grand despite the snow.  Although! it continues through today as I woke up to my particularly wonderful mom having sent me a link to some fabulous adult coloring pages (which just means they're a little more complicated than those for the chilluns.)  I can't wait.

I was asked by a very kind, very thoughtful, and quite open-minded customer to embroider a pillow for Mother's Day for the client's mom.  Despite the final projects and papers I was wrapping up, the request included the sewing of a small dog, and if nothing else, that dog's face combined with the sentiment behind the pillow said, "Make me."



The client asked that the pillow include the dog and the mom, and after being sent a particularly charming picture of the companions walking in the rain, wearing matching raincoats, I was inspired.  

So I assembled, cut, sent the idea on for approval…


Then appliqu├ęd, embroidered, and well, fell in love with this little family from NorCal.







I hope it was a wonderful, memorable Mother's Day and a gift that will be cherished.  Thank you for the honor!

Love, 
Jo

P.S.  Keep the custom orders coming!