The Year Of Broken Plates

She is everywhere.

Your Instagrams, your Pinterests, your blogs, your billboards, your Wal-Marts, your coffee shops, your gyms, your parks, your schools, your TVs, your dreams.

The Mother.

Her hair is done, her house and clothes are clean, her body is healthy, her coffee is hot, her kids are happy, and like, she’s busy but she is HANDLING IT.

This time last year, I was suffering from a common condition known as “summer pregnancy.” I knew this part was hard, but then the baby would be here, and I would become THE MOTHER and everything would be great.

And then, suddenly, I remembered that I’m terrible at juggling.

Good china plates are lying in shards around me; my brain is dizzy and my feet are bleeding. The baby is screaming, the dishes are crusted with 3-day-old food and flies, the house carries a faint but distinct odor of wet towels and shit, the floor is sticky, and TBH I’m probably gonna throw a frozen pizza in the oven for dinner…again.

I have one baby. ONE.

The Mother did not come to me; the Mother betrayed me. The Mother didn’t tell me that she had to give up everything else she loved, like music or writing or friends, in order to be considered a good mom.

By her standards, I have failed spectacularly.

“It takes 9 months to put on the weight, so give yourself at least 9 months to lose it and then #HustleYourButt!” but instead I gained it all back and heyyyy it brought some friends!

I was given TWO Baby Bullets, and I rejoiced because I wanted to make fresh food for my baby every day.

I have used exactly ONE of them ONE time. And I remember to brush those 2 preciously sharp little chiclets in his maw about once a week, so he’s definitely going to need dentures by the time he’s 5.

Does it sound bad if I say that my 11-month old son already has favorite showS? #YesThatWasAnEmphasizedPlural #ILoveYouMoana #AndDinoTrux #BasicallyJustAllOfNetflix

If I get all the laundry done, it’s a good day.

If I get all the laundry done, folded AND put away, I’m pretty awesome.

If I get all the laundry done, folded AND put away AND take a shower, I deserve sexual favors and Chinese take-out, full stop.

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This little helper gently rolled into the sink head first about 2 seconds after this picture was taken. #MotherOfTheYear

I’m honestly a little sad. The first year is already almost up, and the only thing I feel confident in showing for it is that Harrison, Steven and I are still alive.

Maybe in Year 2, I’ll figure out how to keep the house clean as well as get in shape, and return to music/writing/friendships on a regular basis. Maybe I’ll just drink my coffee while it’s still hot.

But one thing (lol, probably a FEW things) I do pledge: to be okay with being JUST okay, and to be okay with NOT being okay.

To delegate those chores. To not do IT ALL. To get together with a friend, like, once a week, even if the dishes aren’t done. To kiss my hard-working husband at the start and end of every day. To unfollow the perfect Instagram moms.

And lastly, to donate the good china plates and settle for some good ole indestructable Corelle and Tupperware. I’m a mom now, after all.

 

We Don’t Need Superheroes

I did not grow up with comic books or graphic novels – any pop culture, really. Those frivolities are of little notice when you’re sure the world is going to end by the time you’re 13. So, in the last … Continue reading

5 New Mom Truths I Didn’t Know Until I Knew Them

I’ve been a mom for 4 whole months now so I’m pretty sure I know what I’m talking about.

1. You learn to function without sleep.

All I had to do was stop visualizing my life as “day” and “night”, and start visualizing it as nap #3 of 6 in a 24-hour period. So go ahead and have that coffee at 9pm, because nothing matters anymore.

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2. Breastfeeding can be REALLY difficult. 

And just like pregnancy, I did not love it. I  wanted to, and I thought that would be enough to make it a reality.

 

Nope. I could not Desire Map my way into this delicate, hormonal endeavour called breastfeeding. But after doing it for 3 months, I can say YOU GO MAMA to anyone who manages to do it for longer, while eating, while lying down, while in public, while being covered up, while being stared at, while being given advice. YOU ARE MADE OF STRONGER METTLE THAN I.

3. Successfully putting your baby to bed is like a scene from The Hurt Locker. Or any movies involving bombs, really.

Their bellies are full, their bums are clean, the room is dimly lit, the white noise is whirring, the lullabies have been sung, and Baby is so sleepy it’s adorable. You debate just holding and snuggling them for the duration of their nap, but then you remember you have shit to do. And so, you must GTFO before this happens:

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If you succeed, this is how you will feel.

 

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4. Any amount of personal hygiene will feel like a spa day.

If you’re wondering about the state of our hygiene as new parents, a mouse lived in our tub long enough to chew the shower curtain and drop 40 poops in it before we noticed. But once we decided not to burn said tub to the ground, man, those showers felt great.

5. Your love for your child will be infinite.

All the songs on the radio will be about them, you will sacrifice everything you once loved to take care of them. Every smile and achievement they make will convince you that surely it’s never been done before, and they are the first ones, and they are THE BEST at it.

But you’ll be amazed at how much MORE you love them when they sleep more than one hour at a time. It may occasionally happen at the expense of your husband’s feelings (“If you fart like that one more time, you cannot sleep here! At least muffle it with a pillow for the LOVE OF GOD!”) but it will be worth it.

Actually, everything is worth it.

Talk again in another 4 months…maybe…

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Somewhere Over The Rainbow: A Birth Story

It is absolutely surreal to me that, at this time 5 weeks+3 days ago, I had just given birth.  First of all, thank you for receiving my last blog post so graciously. I was a little unhinged, so y’all have … Continue reading

Baby Button Needs You To Stop Praying For Him Now

8 weeks ago, I wrote a story about the journey our baby was taking us on, and how we were praying that my body would survive being pregnant just 7 more weeks to give him the best chance. So many of you responded in love and prayers and genuine care.

I truly believe it worked because my body proceeded to need a total of 3 amniotic fluid drains, plus a dramatic 3 night stay in the hospital because I was having very real contractions every 5 minutes…and then suddenly everything stopped. I went home. Life has resumed at an almost-usual routine for the last 4 weeks. Baby Button has grown big and strong, we have a safety-approved place for him to sleep and travel, and my mom made it here without complication.

So now? I need y’all to stop praying. I turned the corner on 38 weeks yesterday, and I am done.

I know every third-trimester mother says that, but I don’t think you understand.

I am “answering questionnaires for concerned psychiatrists/sense of humor completely gone/collapsing into tears for no reason at least once a day” done.

I have survived the Apocalypse. I have lived in fear of the government and deportation. I have moved houses at least as many times as I’ve had birthdays. I’ve seen a childhood friend die right in front of me. I have endured losing a relationship with my father 2 months after it began. I have gotten lost in Europe, lost a baby, lost jobs, and been one paycheck ahead of financial disaster for years.

But 9 months of pregnancy, one of life’s greatest mysteries that I was looking forward to the most, is the straw that broke this camel’s back.

I feel sad. I feel angry. I feel needy. I feel weak.

And so I feel lost. My identity is shifting. I’m the girl who writes about all the crazy shit that happens to her, and still manages to make people smile. I’m the Chandler Bing, I’m the Spartan who keeps on trucking, I’m the one who has heard time and again, “Wow. Looking at you, listening to you, I would never have guessed that you survived all THAT. You’re amazing, and you should probably write a book.”

My shit has always been a little messy, but it was my mess, and it made me stronger.

Now? After being pregnant and sick and worried and unprepared for 267 days in a row (including being displaced from home for 60+ days in a cramped house with 4 animals and 4 in-laws out of that)?

All I want is to go to sleep, and wake up in my own bed with a fresh mani/pedi, a killer haircut, a multi-ethnic buffet, and an impossibly adorable baby who never cries longer than 5 minutes or makes me question whether I am mentally and emotionally capable of becoming a mother in the first place.

I feel gross for even admitting it. Because I can see all you ladies who have been moms for years, who are laughing at my innocence and thinking, “Just you wait, honey, it gets worse.” I can see all you ladies who have been thinking they’d like to get pregnant, and now I’ve just ruined it for you. I can see all you ladies who had magical unicorn pregnancies with babies made from Jesus’ eyelashes, and are secretly judging me for being so dramatic and non-sacrificial.

And honestly, I’m going to play the Pregnant Bitch card and say up front: I don’t need to hear from you right now.

The only thing that keeps me typing so vulnerably is the off-chance that maybe some lady will read this and think, Thank GOD I’m not alone. Maybe I’ll wait one more day before checking myself in to the closest institution. Hi, Carly. I’m your new messy mama friend. Let’s keep talking.

13 days or less…

 

The Weathered Soul Is Beautiful

This last weekend was a bit touch-and-go for me, emotionally. After a lovely 2 weeks of spring break, I’d had a long week full of jobs and tasks and things. I was tired. But I was looking forward to going to my good friend’s first baby shower on Friday night.

The babe was born nearly 2 weeks ago, and he’s pretty much my new favourite person. The fact that he might have hung out and done baby stuff with my could-have-been 8 week old child was merely a bittersweet thought that I didn’t entertain too much.

Friday was fun – I took care of the twin boys I nanny and marvelled at the Hawaiian tan that was putting their Mexican babysitter to shame. Afterwards I went into town to await the baby shower.

And that’s when the panic started, for absolutely no reason.

I had no present to give the baby, for starters. I couldn’t show up to a baby shower without a gift. And I had no idea what he even needed.

And then I started thinking about All The People Who Would Be There. Yes, they were my friends. But they obviously would all bring gifts and rave about how cute each other’s gifts were, and obviously the baby would love them more. And I would have to smile and pretend like my heart wasn’t breaking that MY baby wasn’t here with us.

What would I do if I got to hold the baby? What would I do if I DIDN’T get to hold the baby? Cry, probably. And who wants a crier at a party?

So I started cry-driving all the way home, deciding that this baby shower was not for me and I was not the right person for this baby shower.

The hot bubble bath became my escape.

The next day, feeling pretty dumb, I woke up and *needed* to do something good.

And so, I did something I’d never done before: I started a chalk paint project.

I’ve had a ratty old night stand for a few years, and it’s literally sat empty since we moved up last fall. There’s no room for it in our house, and it’s only purpose thus far has to been to hide our spare key in the mud room. It was covered in chips and divets and fading varnish. Yet I haven’t been able to bring myself to throw it away.

I had no idea how long it would take me to finish; I already predicted that I would probably fail to follow through and it would sit unfinished, just like my knitting and my doula training and my book.

But that day, I had to try.

So, I did a little bit of research, and remembered Annie Sloan’s chalk paint. All about being easy, quick-drying and restoring crappy old things to look like vintage old things.

After a few hours and a few dollars, I was at the point where I totally looked like I knew what I was doing.

There’s always a little bit of adrenaline-laden excitement that hits my blood when I open a paint can and dare to dip the brush in. And then have the audacity to take that dripping brush and apply it to whatever I’m trying to change. Rubber meets the road, sink or swim, I’m actually doing this.

The day was perfect. Warm sun, with a slight breeze. God was in the air.

One hour and 4 coats of Old White later, I had a completely new nightstand. Every divet and crack and fade was bathed with light.

I could have left it that way. It would be beautiful, pure, new. But as soon as anything happens to it, you notice. The purity, the innocence is fragmented. The depth is challenged, the eye is caught, the story expands. So you either shelter it, never let it breathe, or…

You go all in.

While I had been “purifying” the wood, Steve had been puttering around the yard with spring cleaning. Sensing I needed the space to calm my own seas after the previous night’s storms.

But he came to check on me and was taken aback by what I had accomplished.

“Wow! Just letting it dry now?”
“It’s already dry.” I smiled.
He knew I wasn’t done yet. “So what’s next?”
“The Wax of Distress.”
“Can I see?”

And so, for the next hour, we became a team. He would dip the brush into the molasses-like wax, splotch it across the white, and I would take a cloth and rub rub rub it away. The remains left the golden brown sheen of a new story being told in holy, purposeful silence.

I believe we all start out shiny and new. As we grow and change, life has a way of marking us with chips and divets and cracks that leave us broken. My last 12 months have been particularly of that nature.

But I’m still here, with a purpose that’s yet unknown but earnestly sought after. Maybe you are too.

And now we choose.

Stay in the cold mudroom, empty and broken? Or allow a transformation that makes us new while yet weathered?

I don’t want to hide my life, or my story with a glossy new coat of paint and sleight of hand. I don’t need to be falsely shined and freshly manufactured from IKEA.

Just let me come inside, be re-purposed, true to the state of my weathered soul. The damage tells a story, and I’m not gonna let it make me bitter and broken anymore. I am restored, I am a new creation, I am beautiful.

Oh, and I held that baby the next day. He let me know he wasn’t impressed with my absence at his party for just a few moments, and then my charms rocked him to sleep. Because we’re fine. We’re gonna be just fine.

  

Small But Not Insignificant

When this Butler and that Hutton got married, we became the Buttons. 

When we were pregnant, we called it Baby Button.

When you think about it, buttons are small but not insignificant. They’re actually pretty important for holding stuff together. 

Even though Baby Button is no longer with us, I believe we will be held together; without love, we are nothing. 

Today was a good day. 



This New Year

On this day in 1999, I was fearing for my life.

Before The Walking Dead or Katniss Everdeen had even been thought of, I was preparing for my world to become apocalyptic. I was 12.

15 years later, Y2K still hasn’t happened. The Mayan calendar didn’t really mean much either. However, we face our own little apocalypses each year, don’t we? They have nothing to do with ancient prophecy or computer malfunction. They just happen without warning, and change us forever. But if you’re reading this, you’re still here. You’re a God-blessed survivor even if you don’t feel like one.

I’ll be honest, 2014 was a rough one. Misunderstandings, loneliness, lost jobs and a lost babe, confusion and clarity alternating like a roller coaster ride.

Occasionally, the darkness cracked and some light peered in. It’s why I’m still here too.

Can I tell you about them? Can I give you some hope? Will my thoughts mean anything to you?

Tell you what. Keep reading, and when you get to the bottom, you’ll see a link to my best friend’s site, where she’ll also be reminiscing about the positive things that happened in her life this year.  I am so thankful for her. Best friends for at least 20 years now – the kind of friends that drop everything and get on a plane to go be with each other when there’s a crisis.
We are women forged by fire, but rather than sacrificing ourselves to be burned up, we’re going to allow our hearts and minds to flow and curve like water, quenching the heat, refreshing our souls, going forward.

Don’t let your hearts remain stagnant or burnt. Winter is here, but Spring is coming. Join us. Tell us your stories of 2014, and what your dreams are for 2015. Alone we are enough, but together we are stronger.

~

This year, I witnessed another precious little girl-soul come into this world. She took her first breath in the glowing light of an early July morning, in her own nursery at her parents house. A holy moment.

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Soon, my goal will be accomplished through a little piece of paper that says “Carly Hutton, Certified Birth Doula” so that I can keep drinking in those holy moments, keep helping those other women forged by fire become mothers – even if I never become one myself.

~

In September, I was a bridesmaid for the first time. It was easier than I thought it would be. I put on a purple dress, did my makeup, and ripped only 2 pairs of panty hose while someone else far more capable did my hair.
My former roommate and bride of the day gave me a pearl necklace and earrings that she made herself. Treasure, only gained by letting a granule of sand itch the shit out of you until you’re pure.

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I witnessed 2 of my best friends commit their lives to each other. They sang their vows and yet they still wanted ME to sing a song for them. So I did. It was called “Dancing in the Minefields” because that’s not only what marriage is, but life itself.

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That day was the most I’ve smiled since I lost our baby. I mean, I kinda legally had to for photogenic reasons, but it was the first time I WANTED to.

joanna wedding 2~

I passed my 4-year anniversary of blogging, and at least half of my 200 followers are real people.

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And finally, we moved back to the town where I grew up. I did enjoy most of the Vancouver experience, but home it was not. Too much water; my fire almost went out.

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Here in Smithers, I am known. By the people, by the snow-capped mountain, by the back roads and the river wild.

And? My new house has a bathtub.

~

It’s New Year’s Eve. It’s only a matter of one day’s difference, and yet, it holds so much shiny promise. All the shit we’ve gone through recently, we can finally say, “That happened last year.”

I used to be the kind to make resolutions. Not anymore. But for the sake of being traditional:

In 2015, I resolve to lose weight.

The weight of condemnation and shame and guilt of decisions past. The weight of trying to be liked by all and keep everyone happy. The weight of perfection. I want to lose it. And if, in doing so, it prompts me to live a healthier life that actually affects scale, then so be it.

And in 2015, I resolve to be the 7-11 in Smithers on Christmas Eve.

It was the only place open and serving food past 6pm when my husband, my mom and I were starving. Hot dogs never tasted so good.

No matter what store it is, though, I always feel a spark of hope rise whenever I see a glowing red OPEN sign. Knowing that I’ll be able to get what I came for, what I need, today.

That’s how I want others to feel when they see me. Open. Mind, heart and arms, ready to do messy, beautiful business at any given time. Never turned away.

As this year ends, I have high hopes for 2015.

Hopes that suddenly, everyone will have an a-ha moment. An a-ha that realizes we need something else. Something different. An a-ha that knows we are meant for more than what we have been content with living.

Hopes that, this new year, shooting up schools and shooting up veins will no longer be the go-to solution for long unanswered cries for help and understanding.

Hopes that, this new year, the Battle of the Sexes will run out of ammunition.

Hopes that, this new year, we will see through skin colours, to the hearts and minds that brew underneath. Every culture and race has its heroes and assholes; let’s stand up and recognize. I repeat: PEOPLE ARE MORE THAN THEIR SKIN AND REPUTATION AND STEREOTYPE. CHECK. YOURSELF.

Hopes that, this new year, toddlers and teenagers on the brink of dreams and inspiration – adults burned low on chips and bills – elderly melting on the ice floes of their last lives – will all be valued and held accountable and loved for who they are.

Hopes that, this new year, the corrupt will be exposed and the honourable will be exalted.

Hopes that, this new year, these words will ring true:

“And in despair, I hung my head
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said.
‘For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men….’
Then rang the bells more loud and deep,
God is not dead nor doth he sleep!
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Let it be so.

:: A Year in my BFF’s Life ::

Behbeh Love Part 4

Part One   Part Two  Part Three

** Trigger Warning: Miscarriage and grief. **

The past 24 hours have been one of the best and worst days of my life, simultaneously.

I may not have a lot to say, or I might have waterfalls of words. I’m not sure yet. I thought I would need more like a whole week to process this and write about it, rather than a day, but I’m just going with it for now.

It started at 1am on Wednesday. I was called out to go assist with my very second birth as a doula. I was very excited because I’d spent some time getting to know this new “client” and they had become friends. They were planning an at-home water birth (another first for me!), so I safely raced to their house. I told them that if she was still labouring around noon, I would unfortunately need to leave for about an hour for my own ultrasound – but I would be back no matter what.

I needn’t have worried. I witnessed a beautiful, healthy baby girl come out of the water and into her parents arms by 9:30am. I’m not totally sure what I think about good vibes or energy or juju, but I thought that my morning certainly couldn’t be a bad way to go into my next appointment.

Steve was there with me this time. We knew that this ultrasound would be the make-or-break-it, and he wanted to be there. He expected to be brought into the ultrasound room later to hear a heartbeat if there was one.

Instead, I left the clinic and took him out with me. I waited until I reached the bottom of the stairs where I knew there was a bench we could sit on. And there, I told him.

There is no Baby Button. Technically, there never was. I experienced what is (terribly) called a “blighted ovum,” which means that our fertilized egg never quite made it to embryo stage. However, it stayed inside my uterus and formed a protective sac around it, as it would normally.

This was enough to keep my blood hormones skyrocketing, my breasts growing, my heart certain that everything was okay.

It was probably already over by the time I took that pregnancy test on Father’s Day weekend.

I’m sorry, but if you’ll allow me to speak freely…

I fucking hate my body right now. Sure, it did its job and didn’t keep a non-healthy embryo growing. But to lie to me about it? To trick me for the past 5 weeks? That’s just bullshit. Trust the hormones, we said. Trust the growing boobs, we said. Sure.

Do you know what I have to do now? I have to take a bunch of pills that will make my uterus cramp and contort like I’m in labour. Over the span of 24 hours (hopefully) I will most likely be doubled over in pain while my body expels the tissue of a sac, a placenta and a defunct egg. And THEN I have to fucking collect it in a Ziploc or a Tupperware or whatever, and take it back to the hospital so they can examine it to make sure that nothing got left behind to try and infect me. Because as long as that godforsaken sac is there, my body will continue to believe that it is pregnant – and it will also prevent me from becoming pregnant again, should I try.

This changes everything. I was starting to buy maternity clothes, and getting rid of old clothes I knew wouldn’t fit me anymore. I quit my job. I wrote a pregnancy diary. I shared my hopes and dreams with my husband, my friends and family.

And now, I don’t even want to see or talk to anyone. I just want to be alone and watch Netflix all day, but know that my people are still there should I change my mind.

I’m scared out of my mind. I’m still tired from the birth the other night. Throughout the day, I roller coaster between staring numbness and unstoppable tears.

I still feel pregnant. That’s the whole problem.

And Steve…Steve is my broken hearted rockstar of a man. He has been unreal throughout this whole ordeal. He’s letting me do whatever I want/need to, and making sure I still eat, still sleep. Part of me wishes he wouldn’t, because then I could start wasting away to ghost level; then everyone could know how I feel inside. He said he didn’t realize how attached he was to Baby already, until yesterday. Neither did I, really.

Thankfully, every doctor and assistant at the Maternity Clinic in the hospital has been like a grief counselor. Giving free pills, and hugs, and sympathetic looks. Calling it a loss, and not just telling us to get over it and move on. Encouraging us to do something together that will create closure for us.

I’m thinking about getting a tattoo.

And…that’s it. In a nutshell. I don’t know what else to say. Thank you for reading.

 

 

Behbeh Love, Part 1

As you might be aware, Father’s Day has always been rather…unpleasant for this lady. Last year was all right because, for the first time, I had someone to call “Dad”. Someone to hug, give a gift to, and spend the day actually not thinking about my real dad.

My hobbit-y little F.I.L.

My hobbit-y little fatha-in-law

This year, however, everything changed. My husband, Mr. Steve, found out that he’s going to be a father.  

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That plus sign is no joke.

The recently downloaded BabyBump app on my phone has encouraged me to start a Pregnancy Diary, “even if you can only write down a couple sentences a day.”

Clearly, my technology hasn’t been stalking me nearly enough, or else they’d already KNOW that not only do I NOT need encouragement to start a Diary about my Pregnancy, but that I have a thousand things to say about it already. A couple sentences my steadily expanding ass.

First things first. How it happened. Well, one night, Steve and I felt a little frisky and before you know it– JUST KIDDING. Here’s how it really happened.

I was 4 days late. And I only knew this because I have ANOTHER app that helps me keep track of this banal and depressing information.

Looking at App on a Normal Day: Oh yay, 5 days of freedom and joy left, wooooo.
Looking at App A Couple Weeks Ago: Hmm. Strange?

We are one of those couples who is VERY attuned to my cycle, and prepare to batten down the hatches on a regular basis. We have no idea how those “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant” people exist.

So we decided that I would take a home test on Father’s Day. We had some leftover from a bulk Costco purchase, because– like I said — we’re a little jumpy.

Verbally, we had decided on my taking the test the morning of Father’s Day Sunday, before we went to church.

Saturday morning, I took the test without telling Steve. Partially because I was 90% sure I was going to get a positive and I wouldn’t be able to focus in church AT ALL with that fresh information – but the other 10% just wanted to get on with my life if it was a negative.

I’ve taken at-home tests before. I’m used to peeing all over it and my hand, and then waiting 3 minutes for the result to appear in the window.

However, this time, from the very SECOND the stick got wet, it turned into a plus sign. I had three thoughts: either I had peed on it wrong, or it was old and faulty, or I was SO SO SO SO VERY OBVIOUSLY WITHOUT A SHADOW OF A DOUBT having a baby.

After washing my hands, I texted Emily, my friend and nurse who had her first baby last summer. She reassured me that I was indeed pregnant, and that she was so excited for me.

Me: Wow! Okay! I guess I should tell Steve! This is crazy!
Emily: WHAT? You told ME before you told STEVE?!
Me: Well, I wanted to be SURE before I completely change his life! He’s still sleeping!
Emily: Well, wake him up right NOW!!!

So, with surprisingly sure steps, I clutched the pregnancy test in my hand and climbed back into bed, sandwiching Steve between myself and Walter the Cat. I was sure he would feel my heart pumping out of my chest as I spooned up against him.

Apparently, both Walter and I were pretty fidgety, because after a few minutes, Steve very sleepily mumbled, “It’s Saturday morning, my only morning to sleep in, and my two little ones are keepin’ me awake…”

He’d practically opened the door for me.

I pulled the pregnancy test out, and said, “Actually, you have three little ones now.”

To be continued…

Part Two