November 12, 2014

A party for my one year old.

Our sweet Genevieve's first birthday is in the books. And what a sweet day it was. 
We had breakfast at Sky Blue Cafe with Omi, Abi (Michael's parents), and Uncle Timothy, and then celebrated that night at Babu and Bibi's house (my parents), surrounded by friends and family.

When I envisioned my child's first birthday, a Pinterest board was immediately put into action.
I love celebrations, holidays, and going over the top - I get that from my mom. But I started reading a great book "Heaven on Earth: A Handbook for Parents of Young Children" by Sharifa Oppenheimer and it talked about simple birthday parties honoring the child. She states:

There can be a tendency, even among parents of very young children, to have a "keeping up with the Joneses" attitude about children's birthday parties. You can avoid this whole trap by stepping into another paradigm. You can create a simple, lovely atmosphere in which the children are healthily engaged, the decor is a reflection of your family's sense of beauty, not an advertiser's dream, and the birthday child is honored and celebrated in an age-appropriate way.

So I ditched all my themes and kept it simple. I decided lots of color, balloons, and party hats were the way to go. And it was so lovely. I also decided that Genevieve's favorite color is red. We get to do that, right? ;) It was so sweet being surrounded by other little ones, family, and friends.  

Thank you, Felicia - for documenting Genevieve's party!

November 7, 2014

1 Year of Life

And just like that, we have a toddler. 
Genevieve Lark is One.
New parents hear at least once a week, "Oh it goes by so fast!" I used to think that was obnoxious. But I was wrong--it does go by so fast!

And as bittersweet as it is that my little baby is no longer a little baby, we are beyond excited to have an emerging child, an individual, who is starting to really engage and interact with her surroundings.

I feel more terrified and thrilled at the thought of parenting now than I did when she was just seconds old. The first year was all about keeping this baby alive and healthy, now I am venturing into raising and shaping a human being. Whoa. It is a tremendous responsibility but one that I feel honored to bear and blessed that I share that role with Michael. 

We have such a sweet girl.

She is so very cautious and yet excited to explore the world around her.

Her blue eyes will look into your soul when she stares at you, and she will stare at you.

She likes to observe a room before engaging in it. She has to know her surroundings.

Once she warms up, she will offer smiles and kisses right and left.

She can be so stubborn at times and is already showing us what the future holds with toddler fits.

She likes throwing her food on the floor. 

Her emotions can go from giggling to screaming and back to giggling in a matter of seconds. 

And she is very sensitive and knows when she has disappointed us.

Only just recently, she consistently cuddles us as we get ready to put her to bed, which is incredibly sweet.

She asks for 'milk' and comes scooting to wherever I am.

Books are her absolute favorite. If it's silent, I know she is in her room reading books. She would do that for hours if I let her. That and bath time. Goodness, she loves splashing in water.

When she gets worked up and has a hard time processing all her emotions, we strap her in the ergo and go for walks. Nature calms her every time. Her first year of life will be marked by hiking all over Middle Tennessee. Those will always be such beautiful and sweet family moments. 

And really those kind of moments characterize this whole year, those seconds in time that make this life we live so precious.
  • Thursday, November 7th, 2013 at 3:57pm - Genevieve Lark was born into this world in the comforts of our home. 
  • December 28th - first smile
  • Week 11 (End of January) - she started cooing 
  • February 25th, 2014 - she giggled for the first time
  • March 22nd (19 weeks) - rolled over 
  • April 20th (on Easter) - she tried her first solid food - egg yolk
  • April 25th - starting to sit up on her own 
  • May 6th - her first tooth popped through
  • May 17th - started saying "dada"
  • June 24th (7 months) - she moved into her own room
  • June 26th - started saying "mama"
  • July 7th - learned to sign 'more'
  • September 30th - October 15th - all 4 top teeth broke through (worst weeks of the first year)
  • October 4th - she is mobile! Started scooting around everywhere 
  • October 21st - says "uh oh"
-Still no interest in crawling but scoots just as effectively. Apparently she likes to do things her way.
-Stands supported and moves around holding furniture
-Says "mama, dada, uh oh, and wow" and just this morning says "Gotham"
-Follows simple commands
-Has 6 teeth with a few more on their way
-Loves books and mirrors
-Signs 'more' and 'milk'
-Sleeps through the night...finally
-Just started taking a pacifier at bedtime
Sweet Genevieve,
This is your last monthly update. We are about to celebrate your 1st year of life. 
You have grown leaps and bounds in the last 12 months - or really the last 21 months ;) 
From a sleepy newborn to an active toddler, this has been a landmark year for your dada and me. You are a sweet soul with curious eyes. You love to watch the world around you and observe before engaging. You are cautious with your actions and then you jump right in. Already you show so much independence and spunk. It has been such a pleasure to cuddle you, feed you, kiss you, and care for you this last year. Now that you are a toddler, it really feels like we are just beginning. What a joy you are to our little family. Year 2 will hold so many adventures!

November 4, 2014

The birth video of Genevieve

One year ago today, my body started the process of bringing Genevieve earth-side. 
I had spent the previous 3 years learning everything I could about birth. And here I was, about to experience it for the first time myself. Of course I wanted it to be perfect. 
We hired an amazing midwife, I assembled an awesome support team, took a prenatal yoga class, we attended a great childbirth class, I went to breastfeeding and baby-wearing workshops, and I had a wonderful videographer ready to film the homebirth. I was ready! ;)

Oh, the things I have learned in one year.
Now that I am a professional doula, I can look back on my birth and reflect on so many different aspects of that intense experience from a different set of eyes. I was certainly empowered in my labor and all the decisions leading up to it. But what I didn't know was what it meant to surrender to birth. I heard people say that there will be a time that you have to 'let go' and surrender to the contractions, to trust your body and your baby. I nodded my head and acted like I knew what that meant. I had no idea. 

I had no idea how powerful I truly am. 
I had no idea that my mind had the ability to perceive contractions as pain or as pressure. 
I had no idea that my 'perfect birth plans' were actually prohibiting me from birthing.
I had no idea that me trying to stay in control was actually my unconscious fears surfacing.
I had no idea that the abuse I experienced as a child would affect my birth (hence, 3 days of labor).
I had no idea that I didn't really believe my body could do it, if I was truly honest.

But there came a moment in labor where I chose to believe these things. 
My options were transporting to the hospital for an epidural or a potential c-section,
 or to believe that I could relax my body enough, in order to allow my cervix to progress. 
Once I believed that I could do it - on day 4 of labor, at 8:08 am on Thursday morning - I gave in to all the sensations, turned my brain off, and simply let my body and baby work. Clothing came off, I started making primal noises, and I didn't care about my peaceful, candle-lit water birth. I had officially entered into birth world - and it was incredible! No one can describe the strength and power a birthing woman experiences when she goes to that birthing place.
Genevieve was born 7 hours later at 3:57 pm. 

My birth was transformative.
I truly believe that my body works. 
I am stronger and braver than I thought possible.
I am more connected with my husband then I have ever been.
I was empowered as a woman entering into motherhood.

You can read the whole birth story here

Words cannot describe how grateful I am to Lauren Ellis (and Kappel Cloninger for the interview footage). I am so glad you were there to capture those 4 long days. I will always treasure these images. 

I hope you enjoy the video.
Warning: This is a birth video. I edited a lot of the content to be more appropriate for a full range of audiences, however, it is still very intense. Watch at your own discretion.