A few things…

Being the youngest of four, I’m appalled at what I’m about to confess. I swore I’d never: take less photos, document less, put her in a play pen. Literally the only documentation that I existed from ages 0-5 were of me playing with toys in a play pen. (You may roll your eyes, mom.) And just like my loud declaration that I would NEVER drive a mini-van after having to cruise around in one during college (complete with no a/c and a carpeted dashboard), I now understand how convenient they’d be with kids….and am considering diving back into that party-mobile again.

Alas, I’ve broken all my rules, the last mostly to protect Annie from Ruth’s curious hands.

So here is my attempt to correct the first two. Let’s learn a little bit more about Miss Annie:

She has long toes. Her second toe is even with the big one, just like mine. Ruth likes to do ‘This Little Piggy’ on them and I don’t blame her. Love those toesies.
She throws gang signs.  DSC_7547
Her favorite position gives me a good arm workout. DSC_7551
She has hairy ears.DSC_7609
Her second favorite position is over the shoulder. Her grandma likes to say she feels like a sack of flour. DSC_7610
She’s tired. DSC_7601
And then wakes up at 3am to give me this look:DSC_7602
She has some pretty killer eyebrows. DSC_7603
She apparently doesn’t like So You Think You Can Dance. Or several different blanket patterns in one shot. Ruthie does, thank heavens.DSC_7679
It’s generally going pretty well. She goes from 0 to 100 in nano seconds in the crying department. Every other night she’s a night owl. And every other night I get frustrated and tired and mumble angry things (that I don’t mean) about the rest of the world that does get to sleep. She lifts and throws her head back so much that her grandma says, “Annie!! Do you think you’re a big girl?” Her eye color is still undetermined. Some days they look light, other days dark.

But most of all she’s loved so very much by us all.


Week Two Down

Yeah, remember when I said that nights with Annie were going swimmingly? Well, the you’re-being-a-braggart gods heard my loud pompous cries to friends and family and decided it was time to strike me down. They always wait until after at least the third time you brag about something, because at that point you feel really comfortable in what you’re spewing and therefore spew it with much more vigor than you would otherwise.

And here is the result of said bragging:
ruth cryNormally I’m the one making that face, but she can’t hold the camera yet to capture it.

And this is after the fourth brag:


And after the fifth and sixth:DSC_7519
Fifth is the spit up. Sixth is the saggy mom boobs. If I’d only not opened my mouth these babies still would’ve been skyward.

But stormy weather makes the sun shine that much brighter, because interspersed were moments like this:
ruth annie
…and then right back to the grind. We love you Annie.DSC_7512Some other happenings involved mixing play-doh to make different colors. DSC_7513A random garage sale up the street. DSC_7521We found a book on frogs and an unopened package of colored printer paper. You just can’t buy that stuff for fiddy cents at the ole walmart. So even though the dresser drawer that houses my random sheets of blank paper is to the point of exploding into one gigantic origami windmill, the package still managed to make it home.

We also made cloud dough.

DSC_7536You can see where Ruth gets her hair styles from. DSC_7537It’s been hot and humid this past week. A couple mornings, we went to the park and then collapsed onto the couch in a heap of sweaty limbs. So we tried to find a shady spot to play with the cloud dough.

Later that night Ruth went to swim lessons. This is her swim hair when she gets home. DSC_7545Maybe I should take her swimming every day. I’m liking the flock of seagulls look (thank you for that line, Samuel L Jackson.)

Speaking of Ruth. She’ll say “Hold? Hold?” and then when we say “Hold you?” she’ll reply “Okay!” as if it were our idea in the first place. It kind of makes me proud.

In other news, she shoves her face like her mama. That also makes me proud.

DSC_7548We also gave Miss Annie her first bath.DSC_7524No cries from this babe. She liked it. Or maybe she was just too terrified of the knives behind her to show any emotion.DSC_7526
All I know is that while I’ve been tired, irritable, and short-tempered this week, I seriously love this new little addition and my growing family.DSC_7531
I can’t kiss her and Ruthie enough.

Hell(o) Week

As I’m writing this my head is bobbing and I could easily fall asleep within minutes.  I thought I’d escaped Hell Week, that first week of sleeplessness. And I did, at first. I probably shouldn’t have bragged about how quiet Annie has been throughout the day and evening.. and I probably shouldn’t have bragged about how she really only cries when she has a dirty diaper and then immediately quiets down before I even finish changing her. Yeah, probably shouldn’t have opened my big fat trap.

Because this week is hard. Not as hard as with Ruthie, I have to keep that in mind. There was one night, I remember, while holding a screaming Ruthie at 3am that I looked over and saw Ryan sound asleep in bed. I yelled the F word and kicked over a stool, it made me so mad. So while Annie may not cry as much as Ruthie did, it’s still hard to remember that in the early hours of the morning.  Luckily I have help during the day. My parents stayed last week and Ryan’s mom is holing up with us for the next two.

So while I have a few moments, let’s take a look at some highlights from last week. Warning: photo overload.

I loved waking up to this little gal, with sunlight streaming in…
Annie has really grown on Ruthie. She asks, “Hold?” every now and then, but gives kisses to her all throughout the day. DSC_7444
The day after having Ann, we had our herbal bath together. Usually that takes place shortly after the birth, but with both Ruth and Annie, I didn’t feel up to it. Ryan boiled the herbs and then we plopped it into the tub.DSC_7446
And we laid in there for a long time, swaying back and forth under the water. DSC_7449
While Annie and I were having our spa day, Ruth was also. Grandma put curlers in her hair. They lasted until the end of the Ant and the Grasshopper cartoon.DSC_7450
Dad was always on hand to hold the baby. He was normally asleep with her.DSC_7453
Ryan deflated the birthing tub. It comes with a disposable cover, which he had to walk through all over neighbors to throw into the dumpster. I’m sure we got popularity points with that one.


There’s a hose that you attach to the tub and it drains the water into the toilet. Ryan put the end of the hose into the toilet and went back to open the hatch from the tub. As soon as the water was let loose, the hose flew out of the toilet and sprayed all over the bathroom. He said that the bathroom has never been so clean after he wiped it down.

Ruthie’s first bow was put in her hair. She looked straight up flapper girl and I loved it.
Mom got some snuggles in too. She stayed for several nights, sleeping in Ruth’s room. Ruthie would always wake up once the door opened (how in the world did this child sleep through me moaning?), so she spooned her grandma in the big bed. The first night, mom said that she almost got spooned right out of bed. I told her to be aggressive and throw Ruthie back otherwise mom would end up on the floor. DSC_7464
Ryan and Ruth wait for the ice cream truck to drive by. She doesn’t know what lies inside it yet. Don’t tell her please. Thank you.DSC_7468
We tried to get a group shot of the grandparents and babies. Ruthie wasn’t having it. Maybe someone told her about the ice cream truck?DSC_7472
So dad set her down.DSC_7473DSC_7474
And then she saw her daddy.DSC_7475
And he saved the day.DSC_7477
There we go.DSC_7478
Ruth played ring around the rosie with her grandma.DSC_7481
Grandma and Jama tag-teamed a dirty diaper. DSC_7482
And then there was this.DSC_7486
And this.DSC_7487

And this.


Dad really takes “sleep when the baby sleeps” seriously. I wish I did.

Ruthie (hopefully) loving on Ann. I’m on the fence.

I’ve also been intentional about spending time with this lady. Reading books is the easiest way to do so. I’ve somewhat mourned our one-on-one time and am afraid of missing out on her as she grows during these first few months. DSC_7493
We’ll be okay. I’ve got some happy herbs to get me through. Not those happy herbs. Other happy herbs. And I think they’re already kicking in. I didn’t lean back in my mother’s arms like an infant and ball my eyes out when she left this time around.

This photo has only been included because I love Ruth’s thighs.DSC_7495
We celebrated my brother’s birthday.DSC_7498
Ruthie stole his wish. DSC_7499
Nope, you’ve still got your mama’s thighs, girl.

It was a busy, friend and family filled week.  I still have other photos of visitors that I’ll add. Everyone who has stopped by or who has dropped off food or has just kept us in their prayers, it has meant so much to me.

I’m feeling the love.

Hopefully I’ll feel the sleep someday too.

Ann Julia’s Debut Story

Ann Julia, she’s named after her two grandmothers. My mom’s middle name is Ann and Ryan’s mom’s name is Julia. I just can’t get away from family names. I figure if they’re named after someone in the family, the chances of them talking about that person will be a bit higher, thus keeping his/her memory alive. It’s silly, but I can’t help it. I should’ve just named her Gertrude Leitta Mary Margaret Vivian Julia Patricia Collier and be done with it. Instead it’s just Ann Julia. Or Annie if you want to get cute.

It’s taken me until today to not call her Ruth or It, so things are looking up.

But let’s talk about her arrival, shall we? It may get too detailed, so avert your reading eyes. This is mostly for her when she’s older, so you have to bear with it in the interim.

She was due on Saturday May 25th and arrived one week later on Saturday June 1st just after 3:30am. By Friday May 31st I’d convinced myself that I was actually an elephant and would carry her for another two years. As I said in my previous post, Dana came by on Friday to sweep my membranes for the second time in hopes of starting something. I had very mild cramping as soon as she left, but after researching on Dr. Google, that appeared to be par for the course. So I sat on the couch and felt sorry for myself.

And then I got a text that a friend who was due two weeks after me had her baby that day. While I was happy for her, I sighed and continued planning a life in which I would be forever carrying mine: waddling up bleachers at Ruth’s soccer games, convincing the airline that it is indeed safe for me to fly 10 months pregnant because I will always be 10 months pregnant, looking for maternity mother-of-the-bride dresses for Ruth’s wedding. It would be physically uncomfortable, but I was already preparing myself for this lifetime of baby carrying.

That evening I had some stronger cramps and decided to text Lucy and Dana and let them know. I asked them to just ignore me if my texts were obviously not an indication of labor, because I was going to keep texting with every pain felt. With Ruth my water broke, so I’ve never ramped up to a birth and was hesitant to make judgement calls for fear of it just being Braxton Hicks or something.

They asked me to keep them in the loop on everything. So I cramped a bit more and took a shower.

As I was drying off, I heard Ruth cry, so I used that as an excuse to sleep with her. We cuddled in the bed and I fell asleep around 10:30pm. After an awesome dream in which two girls and I went to a British nightclub and danced danced danced, I woke up at 1am.

Wide awake. A storm was thundering outside, maybe that’s what woke me up? All I know is that I needed to text those girls about the dream immediately. I have no idea why. Ryan says I don’t have texting etiquette for sending those messages in the middle of the night. It was just so much fun, I had to let them know.

After probably waking them up, I laid there in bed and read some blogs until about 1:30.

And then I had a cramp. Woah, I thought, that was a good one. Some few minutes later, another one. Woah, I thought, that was a better one. They made me tense up next to Ruth and hold my breath.

So I decided to commit another social etiquette faux pas and text Lucy and Dana too.

Not gonna lie. Dana’s winkie smiley face scared the crap out of me. I had already planned out my pregnant life, didn’t she know this??

But the cramps kept coming…
Dana asking me to actually call them a contraction also scared the crap out of me. If I didn’t call them by name, then surely it wasn’t happening, right?

Friends, as much as I wanted to have this baby, I was so scared. See previous post. I didn’t want to do this alone and laying in the dark next to Ruthie with bad weather swirling around us, I never felt more alone then I did just then.

So I went into the bedroom and woke up Ryan, who I’m pretty sure had just barely gone to sleep. After waking him, I had another contraction/cramp that had me bending over my knees. He hopped up and immediately started getting the pool blown up.

I had told myself that this time I was going to be nicer to him and I was. But I think it’s because he learned to not talk to me, which he didn’t. He just went right to work and that made me feel comforted. He was calm and focused which helped me be the same.
Yes, I was nervous about wasting their time. I was sure these weren’t real and if they arrived I’d be relaxing in front of the tv with a plate of cheese and crackers watching Tabatha Takes Over.

But I took a deep breath and finally admitted they might be contractions.
Ah, my favorite laboring phrase: the mucus plug. You don’t know how many times I loved to drop that line in conversations just to watch people scrunch their faces up. It sounds disgusting, and you know what, I was disgusted when I saw it. And it also made me feel a bit weak in the knees knowing that this is probably for real.

Yep, still in denial, but maybe less so.
And here comes the moaning.

Holy moly am I a moaner. (Side note, I say Holy Moly about three billion times a day apparently. To the point that Ruth will say Moly to finish off my Holy.) I was not saying Holy Moly during the contractions however. I really wasn’t saying anything except moaning. After changing out the sheets and putting a mattress cover on, I leaned over the bed and buried my face into it through each one.

Literally two days earlier, our next door townhome neighbors moved out. I wonder if my body held out until I knew I could moan to my heart’s content. Who knows, but I sure let loose.

Oh yeah, Ruth is still sleeping soundly in the big bed by herself. Amazing.


The fact that I had to give one last ditch effort to give them an out makes me laugh. I knew that going #2 was a sign of labor, but still I had to pretend otherwise.

Dana arrived not long after that and I actually smiled when she arrived. And then immediately asked why she wasn’t wearing her Grey’s Anatomy scrubs. You know from a conversation we had, oh, about 8 months prior. You mean you didn’t remember I’d requested that you wear your least favorite scrubs just to make me laugh? Luckily another contraction came before I could launch into a tirade.

So I leaned over the bed and moaned through it while listening to her and Ryan discuss the best way to fill up the pool. This was probably the closest I got to getting snappy. I don’t know why that conversation annoyed me so much, but it did. Maybe because I wanted them to focus on me, I don’t know. Amazingly, I held it all in my head and reasoned to myself. I feel like I was much more aware of myself this time around. Much more in control of what I wanted to do, say, etc.

Another contraction. Dana came over and massaged my back. I managed to thank her afterwards.

She asked to check me and I was at a 7. The same number that I was with Ruth when they arrived, but this time instead of laboring for 9 hours beforehand, it was probably 30-45 minutes.

I continued to moan and contract and be massaged while Ryan filled up the pool.

At some point Lucy arrived. I don’t think the pool was ready before she had, because I think she was there when I got in. Yes, I do remember. She was there when I climbed in. And it immediately felt awesome. The contractions were coming one after another after another after another. I remember whimpering at one point (something I’d told myself I would NOT do) and saying, I just wanna cry. As it was coming out of my mouth, it made me mad. But a contraction would come too soon for me to dwell on it.

Throughout it all, I remember getting massaged, having water poured down my back, and getting kissed on the head. It was exactly what I wanted, and needed. I needed to be touched and comforted.

Ryan still had not spoken. Words of Affirmation are not my Love Language. Him being silent apparently is. He really loves me, that man.

Then all of a sudden I was having a couple minutes in between contractions where I could talk. Lucy said that this sometimes happens when you’re fully dilated as a way to give your body a break before pushing.

And what do ya know, I started to feel the urge to push during the next one and managed to say so during it. Lucy said that they could check me if I needed confirmation, or I could just do it. I asked for confirmation.

Dana checked me and I wasn’t quite at a ten, but I knew that I wanted to push. So Lucy said, Trust your body, Carolyn. If you need to push, it should open up to the ten. Or something along those lines. All I really remember was her saying:

Trust. Your. Body.

So I did.

And I started pushing.

Holy (say it Ruthie, Moly). I’ve never actually birthed a bowling ball, but now I think I know what it must feel like. With Ruth I remember the pushing phase as, dare I say it, delightful? I don’t remember pain.

But  I can assure you, I’ve never felt pain like I had with Annie ever in my life. It felt like she filled my entire body and there was absolutely no way she was exiting without putting me into a wheelchair for the rest of my life.

And then, Pop!

I felt my water break underwater. And the next contraction stung like the dickens. The next one stung even worse.

Someone said Ring of Fire and I just couldn’t believe I was that close to the end. So thank you whoever said that, because it gave me so much hope.

I was on my hands and knees leaning over the pool this whole time and after hearing Ring of Fire, I remember saying to myself: Try to remember this Carolyn. This will be your last experience. Stay in the moment and remember….

On my next contraction after Ring of Fire, Dana checked me.

Then Lucy said, On your next contraction, you will most likely deliver your baby.

Again, in complete shock that we were at that point after only 2 hours. I do remember getting super excited for the next contraction, which seemed to last forever. I remember thinking that she was wrong. That it’s not coming out and then there was one last burst of pain and then swoosh, out came baby.

Into the water and quickly up into my arms. As she was being handed to me, I saw that it was a girl and remember not being surprised. I was mostly surprised that I’d had a water birth. Something I didn’t want to have, but things moved so quickly that there was no way I was getting out.

But I was holding my baby and that was all that mattered.

Hair and facial expressions did not matter. Once again, just like with Ruth, I managed to make the sweetest motherly expression to my child after they were born. Seriously, why can’t I smile?
And once again, I have to reassure you Annie, just like I had to reassure Ruth, that I really did love you in this photo. DSC_7380
After checking to make sure the cord had stopped pulsing, Ryan came over to cut it. DSC_7387
He was so happy. Probably because I didn’t tell him to shut up this time (in much more colorful language) like during Ruth’s birth. DSC_7388
I was helped out of the pool and into my bed with fresh sheets and new pajamas. That was worth the pain right there. There’s nothing like snuggling into fresh sheets. It’s one of my favorite moments in life.

Annie and I hung out together for awhile as Lucy and Dana finished up paperwork and then they checked her vitals.


The official stats were 8 lbs, 9 oz and 20 inches long. If I hadn’t seen her, I would’ve sworn 8 lbs of that were just in her head.


I drank some orange juice and then went to the bathroom. While in there, I took an opportunity to fix my face. Without shame.

You all remember when I talked about my first photo with Ruth:


Especially when I compared it to my beautiful cousin Katie’s first photo. So I was bound and determined to make up for it this time around. If I could’ve shalacked my face to be like Ru Paul, I would’ve. But my knees were shaky and ended up with this:


It’ll do.
See how clean sheets can make us smile? Annie does too.

Lucy and Dana, thank you for seeing through my “cramps”!
DSC_7419Unbelievably, Ruth slept through everything. And this is the girl that will wake up if Ryan and I whisper to each other in the other room. That’s gotta be the Holy Spirit. While she slept and after the midwives left, Ryan, Annie, and I laid in our bed, snuggled our new friend, and watched the sun rise. This was such a special and intimate few hours for us. The light was low, our spirits were high, and smiles never left our faces.

But eventually Ruthie did wake up, at her normal time. By this time, however, my parents had arrived. We called them around 6am to tell them the news. Ryan’s parents had come down the day prior to wait it out. My parents had come the weekend prior after an especially crampy night in which I thought for sure I’d go into labor. It didn’t happen, but that only put the “But what will we do with Ruthie when it does happen” on high alert.

Apparently all we needed to do with Ruthie was lay in her a big girl bed for the night.

Once my parents arrived they saw Annie’s pink hat (we didn’t tell them the sex or name, partly because dad was half asleep and quickly got off the phone after hearing the news). Mom said for a split second she thought I put a pink hat on our baby boy to trick them.

But no, it was a girl and she was about to be introduced to her older sister.
After plopping down and saying, Boom Boom Boom, in reference to the thunder storms the night before, she finally looked at this new baby.
And never cracked a smile.DSC_7426
She was mostly concerned….DSC_7428
….for herself.DSC_7429
And out came her bottom lip as she sat on the edge of tears. DSC_7431
But then Papaw and Grandma scooped her up and loved on her, leaving us alone with our new baby girl for a little while longer.

And thus begins our first week with two children.

We’ve had so much help, so it’s hard to gauge how hard it will be, but I’m not thinking of that. I’m just thinking of how fun it is this time around. How smitten I am with my girls as I watch them literally grow in front of me. And how blessed I am for this happy family that had become my own little world and sanctuary.

Thank you to my family, to Ryan’s family, to Ryan, and my midwives for making this experience and transition a treasured one.

My Last Midwife Appointment

I had started this post before our little Ann Julia arrived two days later. She was a week overdue and I had cockily not written down my appointment time for the next prenatal appointment. So after confirming the time, I took a deep heartburned breath and headed to my midwife’s house.

As the saying goes, If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. Well, my plans are to not have another pregnancy. So I’ll probably end up pregnant within a few months. That’s not to say I don’t want more children. In fact, the complete opposite. I want at least two more! But I never thought I’d have biological children at all. And, to be honest, I never had that overwhelming “I need to be pregnant” feeling I know some mothers-to-be feel. Before I even started dating boys, I knew I wanted to adopt. And since having my own children, the feeling that was laid on my young heart has grown even more. I talk about it nonstop in between kissing my sweet girls. But more on that later.

Because now I just wanted to document at least one of my appointments in the chance it never happens again. …and because I thought maybe some of you might want to know what it’s like to go to a midwife.

We basically stand around a cauldron, stirring a mystery broth while saying “Double Double Toil and Trouble” for an hour and then I leave.


It’s an actual appointment where medical information is documented. Let’s begin.

I knock on the door and am immediately hugged by my midwife, Lucy, and her apprentice, Dana. I’ve never seen them in a bad mood.

They let me be moody (which, believe it or not, I never really felt moody around them. Probably because Ryan was usually watching Ruthie and the thirty minute drive to and from Lucy’s house felt like the longest, most glorious minutes to myself ever.) With my previous midwife, I felt like I had to tiptoe around her and her moods dominated the room. But Lucy and Dana never let on if they’re grumpy and let me be me. They let me talk about my fears, they let me make fun of myself, and they let me be tired and quiet.

But before I start blubbering to them like I’m on a psychiatrist’s couch, I have to go pee and weigh myself.
Dana checks to make sure the sample looks good. Most times it did.

And then I head to the scale.

The one thing I remember my previous midwife saying was that in France the average weight gain was 50 pounds.
Yep, I’m still French.

Then I plop myself back on the couch to talk about how I’m psyching myself out mentally.
Ruthie’s labor and delivery was 12 hours long and I spent the majority of that by myself. Ryan was in the house, but too busy filling up the birthing pool and probably too busy not wanting to have a complete freak out session. So I labored until the midwife and Dana (who was at the time apprenticing under her) arrived. At that point I was transition and really feeling it. And I wanted to be touched. Not talked to, just touched.

I remember crawling across the pool and laying my head in Dana’s lap. I remember her saying, Awwww and rubbing my head. But apart from that, I can’t remember a lot of hands on me before Ruth was born.

Being alone and not being touched.

And dwelling on that scared me to the point where I was convinced I’d not be able to do a natural delivery again. Or maybe I was convinced I just wouldn’t want to do a natural delivery.

Several times they assured me that they would come at any moment I needed them. (Another side note, my previous midwife made a rather long pit stop that may or may not have involved eating breakfast with a previous client-mama before arriving to my house. This was always in the back of my mind leading up to Annie’s arrival. I’d become cynical and scared.) So even though they told me this, I was still slightly skeptical and fully scared of being alone. They also said that I hadn’t benefitted from being massaged or other pain-reducing tactics with Ruth’s delivery.

So I filed away their responses and hoped for the best. (Spoiler: They were true to their word. But more on that in my next post.)

After I whined a bit more, we went to the back room to listen to the heartbeat and feel my belly. It’s nice to lay on a daybed with lots of pillows. I asked several times if I could take a nap. They said no.

Playing with fake rubber babies. You’re welcome for that visual.

Lucy feels around my belly to check the baby’s position. At this point, the head was super low.
And then they measure my belly. The number of centimeters normally correlates to the number of weeks you are. I was averaging about a week behind, but at this appointment, I was measuring a 38 I believe, which indicated that the baby had dropped.
Then we listened to the heartbeat. It was pretty much consistently in the 150s range. Lucy would say, That’s sounds so girlish!
Afterwards she checked me to see how far along I was. This was the first time I asked her to check me because I didn’t want to get my hopes up. We can walk around for weeks at a 3 and never go into labor and I had a feeling that was the case. But edging on 41 weeks made me curious. I was at a 3, 70% effaced, and the baby’s head was at zero station. She swiped my membranes (which sounds gross, but is just running her fingers between the sac and the cervix in the hopes of stimulating the cervix to start labor).

When we went back to the living room, I asked what zero station meant and Lucy demonstrated it for me.
It means that the baby’s head is even with my pelvis. (-5 station means the baby is still floating around in my belly and +5 means the baby is crowning). It was encouraging to hear that, but made me wonder what the heck was taking the baby so long!
The next day Dana came to my house to swipe my membranes again (sorry!). Who knows if it was because of those back-to-back swipes or if it was because of the thunderstorms, but that night was little Annie’s debut into this world.

I can’t wait to share it with you. She is such a delight you guys. I’m smitten.