I’m going to tell you a story. It’s a story about the day Connor was born. But this is not a birth story.
Oh, I wrote a birth story. 7 months ago, in fact. It’s 3500 words long – a good 500 words longer than most of the papers I wrote in my undergrad. But I’m not going to share that story. That story sits in my drafts folder, and may surface someday, perhaps as required reading in high school health classes everywhere, as the country’s most effective means of teenage birth control.
So, why did I write a Birth Story Novella if I didn’t want to share it? Well, originally, I thought I would share it. In the weeks leading up to Connor’s arrival, I read every birth story I could find in my internet universe. Blogger birth stories. Family birth stories. Friend birth stories. Friend-of-Friend birth stories. Home births, c-sections, water births. You name it. If you’re reading this, and wrote a birth story, I read it. And so, a few months after Connor was born, I figured I owed the internet our birth story. I mean, that’s what bloggers do, right? And writing a birth story is supposed to be healing! Cathartic! Magical, even!
So, I hunkered down, hospital charts in hand for reference, and wrote Connor’s birth story. I wrote about my 36 hours of labour. The tub labouring. The epidural. The oxytocin. The epidural failing. The saline injections. The 2.5 doses of lidacane. The back labour. The midwives that began and ended their shifts during my labour. The 3 hours of pushing. The vaccuum. The moment when everyone in the room finally realized Connor wasn’t coming out on his own.
And, worst of all, I wrote about being strapped down to a table in the operating room, contractions still coming fast and furious, and realizing the spinal for my c-section wasn’t taking either.
“It’s not working. Oh God, Oh God, it’s not working.”
I wrote about the fear when I realized they’d have to put me completely under.
I wrote about the panic, the agony, the despair unlike anything I’ve experienced in my lifetime.
I wrote about how the first memory of my son is hardly a memory at all – a fleeting image – brief, and bleary. A hazy picture of Matt with a baby. “What is it? What is it?” I said, before drifting back to darkness.
I wrote about all of that, because that, technically, is Connor’s birth story. And that birth story sucks.
For a long time afterwards, I couldn’t think about it too much. It was too unfair that so many people held Connor before I did. That so many people heard his cries before I even awoke. That I wasn’t there for his first hours on this earth. That after all the work, all the suffering, I was robbed of the moment that was supposed to make it all worth while: A baby on my chest, my husband beside me, in on the world’s best little secret: that we were three.
Writing about those feelings wasn’t cathartic. It wasn’t healing and it wasn’t magical. It just made it all worse.
And so, after spilling 3500 + words on Connor’s birth story and feeling no better, I started thinking about the moments after that story ended. Because when Connor’s “official” birth story ended, this story began:
This story starts 36 hours after my first contraction. 12 hours after my epidural. 3 hours after Connor was delivered via c-section and 1 hour after I woke up and blacked out again. This is the moment I met my son. And it doesn’t matter who held him first or how he got here, because when my husband Matt put him on my chest for the first time, it felt like two pieces of a locket finally coming together.
This story continues when Matt handed me a phone, and I got to tell my mom, voice broken and cracked, that she and Dad had their first grandson. That his middle name was Thomas, after Dad.
This story gets even better when, after introducing Connor to a room full of people that will love him every minute of his life, the nurse turned of all the lights, wrapped Connor in a blanket, and tucked him right back into my chest. It was the complete reversal of the scene a few short hours earlier. Instead of blinding lights overhead, an operating room full of people I didn’t know, and a sleep that wasn’t natural at all, I had only the soft light lights of the city outside, an empty room, and four hours blissful sleep with my baby boy.
This is the story that matters, and one I’m privileged to live out, chapter by chapter, every new day I spend with Connor.
Birth stories can be beautiful, empowering, and full of memories to be cherished, but they can also be gruelling, disappointing, traumatic and awful. And I’ve finally realized that those stories are OK to forget.
I think I found it so hard to come to terms with with that last statement because we live in an age where people make playlists for their births. They bring in professional photographers to capture every minute. They pick out candles and hire doulas and plan a birth experience. And that’s not a bad thing! That’s good! But the undercurrent running beneath that sort of attitude—that a birth story is the most important moment in your life, and it will fulfill every expectation the internet puts out there—can make it incredibly crushing when you don’t get a story you want to remember. Thankfully, I’ve learned that there are always other stories worth remembering.
Those other stories everywhere. Like the story of a couple’s first glimpse of the sweet two year old they’ll soon bring home from an orphanage. The story a precious babe’s first night at home after months in the NICU. The story of these three young foster children getting their adoption papers for Christmas. They’re not birth stories, but stories of beautiful beginnings all the same.
Once the clouds around my labour finally lifted, I not only had a new appreciation for the stories like the ones above; I was also finally able to hear, and appreciate, one more very important story from that day – the one from my husband.
Matt didn’t get to see Connor being born. He didn’t get to hold my hand for the final push. He heard Connor’s first cries only as muffled wales through hospital walls. But none of that tempered the unbelievable joy and relief he felt when the doctor rushed out to tell him “It’s a boy!”
Connor didn’t get to spend his first hours on this earth with me, but he did get to spend them with his Dad: skin-to-skin, head on heart.
Now isn’t that a beautiful story?
A few weeks ago,Yen, Bekah and I hopped on the highway and headed to a city not too far down the 401. Value Village London was celebrating their grand-reopening, and we were lucky enough to be invited to do some damage in the new store, which was bright, clean, and packed to the brim with freshly-organized thrifted goods. (It was also ALL ABOUT the Halloween life, but I am so so not there yet, even though they had a stinkin’ cute selection of baby costumes. For the love of all that is good and sweaty, let’s not rush summer, okaaaaay?)
Anyhoo, what I loved about going with two serious thrifters was that we, without a parting word, immediately split up, and got to work. We’d occasionally meet in the skirt section, or pass like ships in the night by the change room, but these pros know that thrifting is a solo sport. After an hour or so, we all met up again by the housewares to regroup. We refined our loot, tossed the extras, and headed back to Hamilton.On the drive home, one thing we all remarked on was how attentive the staff were. Not that that’s unusual, but these guys were EXTRA helpful. Around every corner, someone would ask “can I help you find what you’re looking for?” While they certainly meant that question in a general sense, we joked that the thrift store is the only place in which that question almost doesn’t apply. The thrift store is the one place that, most of the time, you have only a vague idea of what you’re looking for. The thrill of the thrift is always in the surprise, and that’s the beauty of it.
I wasn’t looking for a spaghetti strapped medi denim dress, a cheetah print mug, a cozy sweater or a pair of Brazillian sandals, but I headed home with all that an more. So, to the extra-chipper staff at VV London: No, you can’t help me find what I’m looking for, but that’s just the way I like it.
Dress: $12.99 // Value Village
Purse: $3.99 // Value Village (straight-up stolen from Yen’s cart)
Huarache sandals: $30 // The Edit
When I shared this dress straight from the thrift store change room on Instagram, I said it made me feel like I “walked out of the Barbie colouring book I had when I was eight.” I’m happy to report that, upon wearing this dress in the wild, that is still 100% true. In fact, I’m now beginning to suspect this dress has magical Take On Me properties, and when I wear it, the world itself becomes a Barbie colouring book.
I wore this dress to a birthday dinner out on the Hamilton waterfront. While the food was only OK, the atmosphere was incredible—the sun setting on the choppy water, the boats bobbing like birds off in the distance, the warm summer breeze that we all dream about for 9 months out of the year—just the best. After dinner, we took a stroll along the bay, and with each step, a new page of Barbie’s California Dream Colouring Book came to life. There was a roller rink, an ice cream shop, an assortment of adorable dogs, an old-timey trolley giving tours, and if that’s not enough, seniors and hipsters alike chillin’ on the hillside, taking in a free jazz performance (I’d also wager that AT LEAST one of the dudes on the water from the nearby Hamilton Yacht Club is named Ken).
And because the internet is a blessed-wonderful-nostalgia-giving machine, YOU TOO can relive the joy of a Barbie Colouring Book. Just click on that happy quartet of waspy teens to the left to make all your California dreams come true. (h/t to this blog for the scan!)
Since I can’t wear this dress every day, I think I’ll dust off the ol’ Laurentian pencil crayons and give this page a whirl. Just hoping I’ve still got the crazy skills on display in this photo:
L to R: Adele, Me, Robyn, and Laura, who is too cool to colour, and would rather play with an actual Barbie.
Dress: Salvation Army | $6
Shoes: Payless | $25
Sunglasses: The Edit | $15
I’m here, guys! Still here! While I have no plans to let this blog die, I also have no plans to increase my sporadic post-per-month rate. So, it’s best if you just view this blog like a surprise Beyoncé album: There is no predicting its arrival, so just enjoy it once it’s here. (Did I just compare myself to Beyoncé?)
Hyperbolic comparisons aside, I had to post this dress because it’s my favourite thrifted thing in a long, long time. AND, I worked hard for it. Yes, thrifting can be hard work. Sometimes I find what I’m looking for without even trying, but other times, I have to visit every thrift store in town twice in the span of two weeks before I find it. “It,” this time around, was a dress for my dear friend’s wedding. Not just any dear friend, either: I played a role in setting up this dear friend with her now-dearly-beloved husband (and don’t you think I didn’t brag about that all day: Matt had to tell me to scale it back when I boldly announced “LOOK at what I have CREATED!” upon entering the ceremony).
But back to the dress: I’m not exaggerating when I say I really, truely hit up every thrift/resale/consignment/vintage spot in town: Value Village, twice. Salvation Army, twice. The Edit, once, Bibles for Missions, once. I could go on! It was my second trip in as many weeks to Talize that finally yielded this winner. It hit every note: colourful, fun, comfortable, and, most importantly, wearable without the aid of any sort of special undergarment. The holy grail!
So there you go. I suppose the take away from this post is that you should never, ever give up on your dream*, and that I am, more or less, Beyoncé.
Dress: Talize | $17
Clutch: Clothing Swap | $0.25
Shoes: Payless | $25
*You are allowed to give up on your dream if your dream is finding thrifted wedding shoes the day of the wedding, but there’s nothing in your size at Value Village, so you just have to go to Payless and be done with it, because your hair doesn’t curl itself.
Friends! This is going to be brief, for several reasons. The first of which is tucked into my bosom courtesy of an ergo carrier and may wake up any second. But even if my baby wasn’t in that “ticking cry bomb” stage, I don’t think I’d have much to say about this dress – and that’s exactly why I like it. This $3.50 vintage beauty is as simple as getting dressed gets:
Step 1) button up;
Step 2) add belt;
Step 3) eat brunch;
Step 4) put leftovers in ample-sized pockets.
Yep. I think I like the simple life.
I know, I know. Connor and I entered a “Who Wore it Better?” contest and I LOST BY A WIDE MARGIN.
This post not only settles that score, but it also settles the “what is the world’s most versatile garment?” argument. You may say “what argument?” To which I say: “This is the internet. There are arguments wherever you choose to find them. What a time to be alive!”
And so, I’d like to publicly declare the jean jacket as the World’s Most Versatile-and-Consistently-Age-Appropriate Garment. I challenge you to find any other item that would look as good on a 28 year old and a 3-month old. I’m telling you right now, I have a pair of onesie pajamas, and the site of me as a giant teletubby would haunt your dreams forever.
Just last friday, when catching up with my sister Robyn, she mentioned that her eldest is now a total grown-up because she requested a jean jacket all on her own. She too ended up with a thrifted Gap jacket like mine – way to go, niece!
So there you have it. One argument settled on the internet, one bajillion to go.
Banana Republic Dress: $14.99 | Value Village
Gap Jean Jacket: $29.95 | Second Chance Consignment
Shoes: $10 | Target
Backpack: Thrifted gift from Mom
Ahoy! Or, more appropriately, hola! (The reason for that will reveal itself in a few sentences).
This post is my glorious, much-anticipated return to blogging. I’d compare it to that time Jay Z or Cher came out of their retirements, but they don’t have the following I do.
You’ll notice that my affinity for sarcasm is still here, as is my love for tacos and pretty thrifted dresses. Let’s break the latter down a bit more: This brand-new American Rag dress is from Value Village, and the first piece of post-pregnancy clothing I treated myself to. It’s a bit ironic because I actually could be super pregnant in this dress – it’s roomy. I think I got used to looking specifically for belly-friendly items – but hey! More room for tacos! (You could say “more room for baby number two!”, but if I ever get around to writing about my labour, you’ll understand why it will be some time before our little banana gets an apple or an orange to play with.)
Now, the tacos part: In keeping with post-pregnancy firsts, I wore this dress on my first date with Jentine since the B.C. era (Before Connor). It was predictably grand – we ate tacos and drank margaritas and took pictures of our not-at-all-seasonally-appropriate attire while curious strangers looked on. I’m happy to report that hamming it up in front of a camera is very much like riding a bike: you feel a little wobbly at first, but you’ll be poppin’ that hip in no time.
And now that I’ve muddied up a metaphor, I’ve hit every requirement for a typical post. I’d say that makes me officially back in the game.
Dress: Value Village | $24.99
Clutch: Winners | $7.99
Boots: Target | END OF DAYS CLEARANCE PRICE.
Well hello there long lost friends! Can I still call you my friends? Even though I haven’t texted, called, or blogged lately? Yes? Oh, that’s very kind of you. As most of you know, I do have a pretty great excuse for my little mid-winter blog hiatus, and his name is Connor.
This little man stormed into our lives on January 22, 2015, and he’s amazing. I’ve opened up a draft post so many times since then – and nothing ever came of it for a few reasons 1) Time is no longer something I have in abundance and 2) There is just TOO MUCH to say. Parenthood is a wonderful and crazy and tiring and magical journey, and every time I tried to write about, it ended up a lot like this sentence – rambling and full of cliches that didn’t do justice to the experience. So, I’m going to put all of those thoughts on ice for a bit, and just say “hi!” from our new little family of three.
Lest this blog become a mommy blog, I’m going to point all of you to my instagram account for the baby picture spam. And spam there will be! Because he’s the cutest baby that ever was! (Sorry, I thought I could get through this post without doing that but turns out NOPE). But seriously, spring will be upon us soon, and my post-preggo thrift trips have already yeilded some great finds. So, stay tuned, stay warm, and I’ll see you all in a little while. :)
I’ll be honest: I knew my previous post wouldn’t be my last one before D-Day. I had a real strong feeling this little fella/bella would be kickin’ around for, minimum, a few days after my due date. I’ve long expected to be a long-expectant momma, and that’s actually been incredibly healthy for my mental state. It means I’m less “GET THIS BABY OUTTA ME!” and more “I guess I’ll make brownies?” I’ve been assuming this babe will take it’s sweet time, and that a due date is just a marker to make sure you’ve done all the important laundry. So, here I am, two days after my due date, and still no strong signs of labour. But I’m good with it! Really! I’ve even kicked myself off of the “let’s read about the WORST CASE SCENARIO” message boards. The oddly-comforting reality is that there is nothing I can do about how this baby comes into the world, and anyway/time that gets it here safely is the right way/time. Whoa! Look at me getting all advice-y and evolved. Must be the brownies! (Also, remind of these words when I’m, like, 12 days overdue).
Anyways, seeing as I’ve had some time to kill lately, I’ve made sure to visit all four of the main thrift spots in Hamilton over the past few weeks (Talize, Salvation Army, Valu Village, and Bibles for Missions). The outfit above is 100% Bibles for Missions. I found the sweater for $6, the hat for $2, and the boots for $10. I was immediately pleased with the way the gray sweater and red and white stripes went together, but couldn’t figure out why. When I got home, I figured out why: It’s because I look like those socks, and, by extension, those sock monkeys. You call it a coincidence, I call it the easiest Halloween costume ever!
In this look, I also fit quite nicely into the palette I set for our nursery. “Setting a palette” almost sounds too fussy for how I approached decorating the space. I just wanted it to be FUN, full of primary reds, blues, and yellows. And you know what? Fun it is! Matt, with the help of his Dad, cousin, and a few handy friends, really did all the hard work in prepping this space: He created a brand-new room out of our way-too-large living space – walls went up, trim went down, and paint went on. All I had to do was fill the room with furniture and the fill the walls warmth and whimsy.
The first decorative items I received for the nursery were these beautiful paintings by my sister Laura. Matt, ever the thoughtful one, commissioned some artwork from her for our fifth anniversary in the summer. Laura had heard a few things about my “vision” (again, that sounds too fussy) for the room, and she completely nailed it. I really did use those paintings as a launchpad for everything else in the room: the patterns and stripes, the golden yellows and punchy reds – it’s all there. I was able to take that influence, and fill the rest of the room with gifts from friends and family, items I already had, and new buys from Ikea and Target (I’ll miss you, boo!). OH, and so much Kijiji:
More pics and such below!
Continue reading “Past Due”