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Like most places, D.C. is at its best in the spring. All the historic neighborhoods and parks make for a mature landscape full of budding things this time of year. The most celebrated blooms are the famed cherry blossoms which can be found all around town in addition to the National Mall. These are at their peak right now.
Last weekend we did a little tech spring cleaning and I bought a new…
When I started this blog almost two years ago I planned to feature highlights from our newlywed days settling into our new life in DC. Well, our new life quickly become our life and this blog took a back burner to all the other things that keep people busy. Se la vie. Then something really wonderful happened. Just a few weeks before our anniversary last May we were making plans for a trip to celebrate our first year of marriage. I had been traveling a lot for work and eating out more than usual which I thought was causing lots of heartburn. At the drugstore I was reading the packages of a few antacids when I saw: “If pregnant, consult your physician.” If pregnant. If pregnant? That little voice echoed in my mind. So I also bought a pregnancy test, you know, just in case.
That Saturday Mr. L and I went to IHOP. We had just moved into a cute little apartment in Takoma Park and IHOP was on our way to run errands. I ordered pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage, and chocolate milk. He ordered an omelet, hashbrowns, and coffee. Somewhere between the sticky bites of pancakes I told him that I had taken a pregnancy test and it was positive. Shocked as he took it all in I remember him uttering, “That’s wild.” That is the main thing I remember him saying that day. I had planned on waiting until after my doctor’s visit on Monday to tell him, but I couldn’t hold it in. Slipping it into conversation over breakfast was not what I had planned, but it was how it happened. That moment smelling of syrup and coffee was very special for us and one we will never forget. On Monday the doctor did confirm the pregnancy with an ultrasound and gave me the first picture of our little one that looked like a little dot. Mr. L was off on a work trip and when I called him we both cried knowing that someone was starting to take shape inside of me. Something beautiful had been occurring without us even knowing it. Life was happening, literally.
I do not think the pregnancy glow arrives until later in pregnancy, but during those first few weeks when it is a secret that only you know there is an intense glow inside. Every ounce of me radiated with a new purpose—the oxygen I breathed, the nutrients I ate—all meant much more. The pregnancy progressed and as we passed milestone after milestone the love and excitement for our child-to-be grew. As did I.
After a quiet Christmas at home where we tried to merge traditions from both our families (I made 5 kinds of cookies for just the two of us) we settled in for the waiting game. New Years passed, and I continued to nest in the way I knew best: With food. At one point food would literally fall out of our pantry because it was so well-stocked, (or overstocked). My due date of January 9th was quickly approaching, but every doctor’s visit assured us that the baby would not come early. So that weekend we went shopping for a few more things for the baby, had the oil changed in the car, and ate out nearly every meal since we knew it may be our last chance to do these things for a while. As it would happen, there was a store relocating sale at Williams-Sonoma with everything 40 to 50% off. For well over an hour we combed the store grabbing things, flipping through cookbooks, and debating how many Le Creuset pots we really needed. Then we waited in the long snaking line to buy our steals. That night after being on my feet for so long with errands and the unplanned sojourn to cooking supply land I was achey. Throughout the night I woke up with sporadic contractions. By the next morning though they stopped. So Mr. L left for an afternoon with the guys and I settled in on the couch to rest. As the afternoon became evening I began to have more and more pressure in my back and the contractions started again. I called my doc and she said to wait until they were closer together and that these contractions could even last days. By the time Mr. L returned home that evening I knew we needed to make sure our bags were packed and organized before we went to bed. I did not sleep that night as the contractions kept waking me every 15 minutes or so. Finally at 3:00 a.m. I got up and took a shower to help ease my back pain. By 4:45 a.m. I knew it was time. After loading the car and eating a PB and honey sandwich for energy we finally left the house at about 5:40 and got to the hospital by 6:00. It was a Monday morning and I looked at the other people we passed on the road who were making their way to work or school. In the midst all this routine were us. Two people preparing to experience the most monumental moments of our lives.
Once we arrived at the hospital we checked in and I gowned up. The nurse checked to make sure I was really in labor and I was already 5 cm dilated! We high-fived, glad to know it was not a false alarm. Baby L’s birthday would be January, 6th. I had long wondered what the baby’s birthday would be and now we knew. By 7:30 we were in the delivery room and I had continued to advance quickly and was at 7 cm. I had taken a child birth preparedness class so I knew we were getting close. Finally at 9:00 a.m. the doctor checked and I was fully dilated. I wanted to cry and laugh all at the same time—the emotions were powerful. After months we would finally be meeting our daughter within mere minutes. The doctor told the nurse to let me labor down for an hour then I would begin pushing at 10:00. I do not really remember this hour. I was in a blur. I focused on my breathing, I drank apple juice to keep my energy up, I watched the Today Show for a couple of minutes, I listened to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and REM’s “Try Not to Breathe” (strange but the song had been in my head when I first found out I was expecting), then I just settled into myself and got very Zen about all of it. I prayed and while not intentional, I went into a state of meditation—breathing, living, but not really thinking. I had a job to do and I was going to do it as calmly as possible. I was focused on giving birth to our baby; this was not about me, but her. We were in this together and these were our last few moments being one. At 10:00 a.m. I began pushing. They put me on oxygen and between each push I took in as much air as possible for the baby and to fuel my muscles. I was nervous but I trusted my body to do this. After all, this was one of the most intrinsically natural things it would do in its lifetime: Give birth to new life. After 45 minutes of pushing our baby girl arrived a little shocked by it all and crying. As I heard her cry and saw her in the doctor’s hands I too began to cry. Then as they laid her on my chest and our eyes locked on each other we both stopped crying. I stopped because looking into her eyes literally took my breath away. I will never forget her eyes. That little face. It felt like I had known her forever. Our souls did not feel like strangers. It was empowering, beautiful, and magical. Magical. That word kept coming to mind. I can’t describe it any other way.
There are so many more details that I could share about those early days like how she went to the emergency room at just three days old for being hypothermic or how tough some of those first nights were as she taught us how to be parents, but this post is a birth story.
I will close with telling you that her name is Willa Claire Camilla. Willa Claire is her double first name and two names that we love so much together and her middle name, Camilla, comes from my maternal grandmother with whom I have always been very close.
Now we are three. Two people over the moon for each other and this sweet baby girl who hung the moon. Willa Claire is three months old today and we are enjoying these special golden times of smiles, firsts, and being completely smitten.
We are a Wisconsin Badgers household. Final Four or not the Badgers are a regular in our house: Baby has a bib and onesie; I have a Bucky t-shirt; and Mr. L has a full wardrobe. At Christmas even the tree has a Bucky the Badger ornament. While I try to keep the sports watching in our house in check, I have loved having Wisconsin in the March Madness mix. Each game has been a little event where…
It was a brutal winter. While I loved all the snow days filled with impromptu pancake breakfasts and hot chocolate, changing out of baggy sweaters to little spring dresses is proving to be a challenge. But I really did love all the hibernating this winter allowed. In fact you could call me a bit of a homebody. At the end of any great time away from home I am always happy to settle back in at our little apartment. I work from home with a baby in tow so Mr. L is often taken aback by how little I do or want to leave the apartment beyond taking the stroller for a spin. Often in the evenings he will come home, kiss me and the little one on the cheek and say, “If you want to get out for a bit, I can watch her.” I rarely take him up on it, but sometimes I do like to walk the aisles at Target looking for some new serving dish/bowl/cookie cutter to add to our bursting-at-the-seams kitchen. And the worst part is that since the baby was born I have kind of been including running errands as exercise. That and regularly lifting a 12+ pound baby. Not to be discouraged I am embarking on a spring semi-detox. First, I’ve been counting those carbs. Not completely eliminating them, but limiting starchy foods. This is a must since when I was pregnant I counted carbs in the way of listing all the delicious things I could bake (my nesting instinct came out in the form of baking like a fool). I could host a pretty substantial tea party with all the cookies and breads in the freezer. Now it’s time to cut the carbs, not the banana bread. I’ve been eating soft runny eggs with a little wheat toast or a piece of ham and I don’t hate it. I am also trying to consume more green things. Like this parsley pesto. Parsley is loaded with detoxifying antioxidants and nutrients like folate and vitamins K, C, and A. How could something so green not be? It also has anti-inflammatory effects which is just what I need to counter all that winter white (sugar). My absolute favorite way to eat this parsley pesto is with salmon. The citrusy flavor is the perfect complement to the fish. It’s also great tossed with greens along with a little extra lemon juice or stirred into chicken salad. Finally, when I am not carb counting I eat it with good ole spaghetti. Here is how to make it.
Pesto Chango: Parsley-Walnut Pesto It was a brutal winter. While I loved all the snow days filled with impromptu pancake breakfasts and hot chocolate, changing out of baggy sweaters to little spring dresses is proving to be a challenge.
Spring is busting out all over and gone are the mornings of craving hot grits or oatmeal.
Spring is busting out all over and gone are the mornings of craving hot grits or oatmeal.
Tacos. A cluster of memories from my childhood can be conjured from that single word. Each school year on the first night of summer we always had a big taco feast. Mixed in with the euphoria of a long summer ahead was the smell of Old El Paso taco seasoning and my first true love: cheese! Much of the sparkle on these golden memories is the vision of my parents—and later my brothers, too—working…
Sweet perfections. Attending an afternoon talk by chef Patrick O’Connell at The Inn at Little Washington is like falling in love for the first time. You will never be the same. What I remember most: “To make your dream a reality you have to visualize it and you have to demand it from the universe.” —Patrick O’Connell.