Don’t blink. Just like that you’re six years old, and you take a nap, and you wake up, and you’re twenty-five, and your high school sweetheart becomes your wife. Don’t blink. You just might miss your babies growing like mine did, turning into moms and dads, next thing you know your “better half” of fifty years is there in bed, and you’re praying God takes you instead. Trust me, friend, a hundred years goes faster than you think. So don’t blink. – “Don’t blink” by Kenny Chesney
It’s boiling hot. I am cursing these blasted sleeves. They are beautiful, flowing, but they trap in the August heat. My sister puts her hands on my face. Her hands are like ice. It’s wonderful.
Everyone makes their way downstairs. It’s almost time now. I follow my sister down the stairs. Dad is there to lend a hand while I navigate them in my dress.
The doors open to reveal the dakned sanctuary. I take a deep breath as we enter. I want to
remember every moment of this day.
I look down towards the front of the church. There he is, tears streaming down his face, just like I knew there would be. Dad and I walk towards
“Who gives this woman to be married to this man?”
“Her mother and I.”
Dad places our hands together and we walk up the stairs to the altar, together.
It’s been 8 years since the events above. I honestly don’t remember much of that day anymore. I remember the heat and the smiles and sweat and the people. I remember the kiss, knees buckling and heart racing.
I remember the promises we made, better or worse, richer or poorer. I remember that I had no idea what I was getting myself into, even though I thought I knew.
Today, 8 years and 2 kids later, we are still walking up to the altar together.
I know now, those promises ought to be “and”. Better and worse. Richer and poorer. Sometimes both at the same time.
I married my best friend that day, and he is still my best friend to this day.
Happy Anniversary, Jesse Michael Carrigan.
I love you.
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
- Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet
I don’t believe a rose would be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk-cabbage.
- Anne of Green Gables
I believe that names are important. As I have said before, my own name was a prophetic speaking of a truth that I would need to have through out my life. So I go through a lot of baby names before I present a narrowed down list to Jesse. We then discuss meanings, how it flows, nicknames that our kids could potentially get saddled with, and how the name sounds flowing into middle names, and how it will sound when shouted down the street.
A friend told me earlier this week that she loved how both girls’ names flowed so well together and just fit them. This was a huge compliment to me. While I want my children to have unique names, I also want them to be beautiful and flow off the tongue rhythmically, both as a first-middle pair, as well as into our last name. With a three syllable last name and three or four syllable first names, a single syllable middle name works well in the rhythm of speaking. I will quite literally create spreadsheet matrices of first name pairs, trying first names together with middle names. When I find a pair I like, I try it with our last name to see how it flows.
With AJ, we didn’t know what gender she would be, so we had a list of two names (first-middle pairs) of each gender. Aravis Jade was my first choice from the get-go, as I was certain that she was a girl, and I had wanted a girl named “AJ” from the time I was in high school. When she was born, she looked like an Aravis. I looked up at Jesse and asked, “Do we have our AJ?” He nodded, and that was that.
We rolled the unused girl name over to a list of potentials for the next baby, but decided we weren’t as enamored with the boy names. We ended up finding out Otter baby’s gender, and so basically scrapped the boy names and focused on girl names. We added two new names to the list, both designed to use one of our mothers’ middle names.
When she was born, we had no idea what to call her. She didn’t seem to fit any of them very well. In the post-labor haze, I couldn’t remember exactly what Kalliope meant and initially told Jesse she was a Greek goddess, which he wasn’t really that thrilled about.
So, we poked around a bit for some other options, and couldn’t find anything better. We were actually starting to get ready to leave the Birthing Inn without a name. I’ll admit to getting weepy here. After not getting to write AJ’s name on the “baby board”, I really wanted to have a name to give them to write on the board. It wasn’t until we were talking about leaving without it, that I realized how important that little detail was to me.
He then took the time to look up Kalliope to discover its meaning as “beautiful voice”. She is the oldest muse, the muse of epic poetry, song, and dance. She started
crying singing as soon as she was pulled out of the water. Which was the polar opposite of AJ, who basically didn’t cry until they started doing her measurements. “Ann” is her paternal grandmother’s middle name, and I added an “e” for Anne of Green Gables. We are calling her “Kaylee” for short, after the mechanic on Firefly.
Since then, Kalliope has continued to be much more vocal than her sister ever was, and we are confident that we have chosen the right name for her.
After spending the whole day Friday on the couch, I went to bed pretty discouraged. Jesse kept trying to encourage me, that he was proud of me for being patient. But I just wanted to be done.
I woke up at 3:00 with some pretty intense contractions. I drank some water & took a bath, trying to get them to calm down. They were pretty close together, so I woke Jesse up around 4 to help me time them. At 4:30, they were staying consistent at 4 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute. I called my mom, to get her out to the house to watch AJ, in case we ended up at the Birthing Inn.
At 5, we had been timing for an hour, so I called Neeva. She informed me that Susan was out of town for the weekend, but since I was going to have Neeva be the primary midwife, I wasn’t worried about it. After discussing where we were at, we decided to meet at the Birthing Inn at 6:30.
I called Kelley, who happened to be at another birth. Since the other mama wasn’t progressing, Kelley decided to come meet us anyway.
We rolled in and got set up, checked my cervix, which was still only at a 6. I started to feel discouraged again, because I had made it to a 7 with AJ before going in to the center. I was also worried that they might send me home again.
Neeva told me that they usually preferred to have their patients come when they’re actually in transition, which I was still a ways from, because it can be discouraging. However, she gave me the option to continue on at the center or to go home for a few more hours. I asked to stay partly because it would have been more discouraging to be sent home and because I knew Jesse would be distracted by all the projects that needed to be done at home. I knew that I was going to need his full attention to make it through.
The time line gets rather wibbly wobbly after that point. The rest of the morning is a haze of comings and goings, alternating between resting and walking, in the tub and out of the tub. At one point, we took a couple walks around the back lawn.
Somewhere around the afternoon, I moved into transition. I’m not sure anyone knows when it actually happened, I vaguely remember Neeva saying something about me reaching an 8 and nobody knew.
A few other stand out memories are of Neeva continuing to remark about how quiet I am in labor. A couple of times it made me laugh, which was both distracting and painful. But amusing nonetheless. I did try to warn her, but I understand not believing a woman who tells you that she sometimes can’t actually tell she’s having a contraction. It is true though.
I also have distinct memories of Kelley and Mom praying in the Spirit, which was absolutely beautiful and wonderful.
Music is one of the ways I deal with pain, so I had an all female play list prepared, which played during the entirety of the labor process. During which two songs came on that completely ushered in the presence of God.
Other than that, it’s a haze of pain and work. Towards the end, as she was crowning, I felt my blood sugar dropping and realized that I hadn’t had enough to eat that day. I knew that if I didn’t get her out soon, my body might not have enough energy to finish. It was at that time that I had a stern conversation with myself. I knew I wasn’t using the contractions to the full extent. I would get a couple of good pushes in, and then the pain would build in my back and break my concentration. So I told myself that I needed to just push through a couple of those, and she would come out, and it would be over.
After that I found my rhythm, and I think it was only a handful of contractions before her little head slipped out. I think I may have started crying then, because I knew the hard work was over and she was here.
When they pulled her out of the water, she started crying immediately. They put her on my chest and I looked up to see Jesse crying over my shoulder, just like he did with AJ. I am so grateful to have such a tender daddy for my girls.
Since none of us could remember the song that was playing when AJ was born, Jesse and I had talked about making sure we appointed someone to pay attention to that, but, of course, we forgot. Fortunately, Kelley remembered what it was.
So I will leave you with her song, and talk about the naming process later.
A lot of people have been asking about my first week at home with AJ, so I figured a blog post was in order.
Monday morning, we went grocery shopping. That may not seem like such a big deal, but Jesse has been the primary grocery shopper pretty much since we got married. It was a bit strange to be shopping in the middle of the day, but the lines were way better than they are on the weekends.
In the afternoon, the sun was out and it was reasonably warm, so we went for a walk. AJ loves to walk. She asks for one pretty much every day.
Tuesday morning, AJ decided I needed to start unpacking my boxes from my desk at work. So she set to work unpacking them for me. Then she arranged everything inside the bottom portion of an upside-down chair.
Then we went & met Jesse for sushi lunch. He had gotten a groupon to Ohana in Seattle, so we drove up there (because we could). Oh. Em. Gee. You guys. That sushi is amazing. Our server, Gordon, was absolutely smitten with AJ and took fantastic care of her. She got oranges & bananas before the meal, miso soup & rice with our meal, and an Oreo cookie for dessert. The only thing that was a little confusing was that we were never offered a high chair.
This fish lamp was on the shelf behind us. AJ is really into labeling everything, so every time she saw it she would ask “Fish? Fish? Fish?” “Yes, honey. Those are fish. Good job.”
The sushi kicked off Jesse’s Carb Nite, so after dinner, we headed out the new Black Bear froyo bar that just moved in next to Winco. AJ is tall enough (barely) to sit at the chairs at the table & loves to do so. I sometimes can’t believe how grown up she looks.
This picture captures pretty well the personality & typical behavior of my daughter. After unbuckling her high chair & climbing onto her knees and being told multiple times to “Sit on your bottom”, she kicked her feet off to the side & smirked at me, like “Okay, I’m sitting on my bottom, but you didn’t say I had to face forward.” Seriously. Whose kid is this? I don’t know anyone who ever behaved like that…
Part of me wishes I had taken a before picture of this space, but, on the other hand, I find myself grateful that there isn’t any photographic evidence of the state it was in. I have written multiple times about my struggles with homemaking & housecleaning in particular. Being home allowed me to cook & maintain a certain level of stasis, but I couldn’t seem to make a dent in the dishes. My mom & grandma came over today & ran two full loads through my dishwasher, not to mention myriads of handwash dishes piled in both sinks & both sides of the counters. I feel like I’ll be able to start the week off ahead, rather than in the same place I left off or worse.
Thanks to both of you! You guys are amazing!
Due to popular demand, we have resurrected the baby pool. Fill out your guesses for baby’s name, birth date, & birth stats.
The closest guess will receive a copy of her “Meet Otter” photobook.
I receive a weekly update from a website called BabyCenter on AJ’s current development. This week was “22 months, 2 weeks“. As I was clicking through the various links related to her current development cycle, I ran across these two statements:
A typical 22-month-old’s vocabulary consists of about 20 words, and most toddlers can also combine a couple of words to ask questions or make statements…
…If you point to body parts on your child or a doll and ask her what they are, she should be able to name five or more. If you ask her, “Where is your foot?” or “Where are your ears?” she should be able to point to the right places.
I chuckled a little & sent the info over IM to Jesse.
Jesse: It’s hard to tell but i bet she knows more than 20 words
i think her grammatical sentences are ahead of the curve too
she’s supposed to be able to name 5 body parts
Head, hands, fingers, knees, feet, toes, eyes, mouth, teeth, hair, nose, shoulders, elbows
12 I can think of that she has said more than once
me: this morning she told me that her feet were cold
and then she wrapped her hands around them to try to warm them up
did you get that one?
Jesse: Oh right
So she has 3x the number
Jesse: Great job agent, your verbal skills are growing faster than our projections
Editorial note: this is a reference to a game called Crackdown
On top of her vocabulary, she has begun stringing together surprising sentences. Here are a few of the ones that have caused us to look at her in amazement:
I want some
I want a bite
I want a drink
I want bite please
From the bathroom: “Mama?” “Yes?” “I going take a bath.”
In one month, I will be leaving the place I have been gainfully employed for the last six years.
I am both terrified and excited by this prospect. Six years of my life have revolved around walking in those doors five days a week. I love my job and my colleagues, and (for the most part) the six years have been fulfilling and enjoyable. (Every job has its down-sides, and this one was by no means perfect.)
However, here are some people who can give 40 hours of their energy a week at a job and still care well for their families, and I am not one of them. Even before having children, I slept most of my days off or spent the days staring at the computer or TV screen. Add a baby, now toddler, into the mix, and I have been running at the ragged edge of what my mind and body can sustain.
We will be paying off our last credit card in the next 3-4 weeks, thanks to 10 months of hardcore debt snowballing. At that point my salary becomes nice, but unnecessary. Jesse is now at a job that covers all of our monthly expenses, with career development opportunities available.
So what are going to be doing with yourself?
First and foremost, I will be loving on my daughters while they are awake. Right now, I get AJ up to get her dressed, fed, and out the door to daycare. She doesn’t nap incredibly well for anyone (me, my mom, or daycare), so that means she usually falls asleep on the way home, and I carry her in to start the bedtime routine. The longer it has gone on, the less bearable it has become. (I will admit to some days being rather gleeful at dropping her grumpy butt off with someone else.) :D
With the addition of another little one, it is both financially unsustainable to pay for full-time childcare and emotionally unsustainable for our family. Since part-time employment is not an option in my current position, I am choosing to leaving the corporate world, perhaps permanently.
But Amy, you just don’t seem like, you know, the domestic type.
Tell me about it. But I am going to give my best shot at being the domestic support my husband and children so desperately need and haven’t gotten.
But aside from that, I am starting a freelance web development business. My hope is to be able to keep my skills sharp and continue to be involved in the industry I love so much. I am going to be working on my discipline by keeping fairly strict “office hours” for myself. It wouldn’t do any good to stop working full-time for someone else only to move on to working (more than) full-time for myself. I am hoping to find a balance somewhere around 16-20 hours a week.
For those of you interested, (I’ve heard there are a few) I am not currently accepting any new projects, but you may contact me at amy [at] tuimaladesign [dot] com.
On top of that, I started designing jewelry last year. I would like to spend some time expanding my line & refining my designs. I also just haven’t had the time to get my eCommerce site set up, so all my sales have come by word of mouth and personal request.
I would also like to finish up that novel that I started for NaNoWriMo, and working for myself gives me the ability to put projects on hold while I spend the brain energy on that process.
In short, I’m going to be one busy mama. But I’ll have time to be a wife &, mama first, and everything else can flow into place after that.
Wait, did you say daughters?
Yes. Yes, I did.