yucca brevifolia

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Soaking in the last rays of vitamin D down here in Joshua Tree before diving into the life of grey before me in the PNW.  We are all very thankful for the grey, though, after fires ravaged (and continue to ravage) much of the northwest.  I'm sure many Portlanders never felt so thankful for rain in their lives.  

This dress is ultra non-nursing-friendly, so I didn't wear it very long, but I couldn't resist throwing it on for some photos. I found it new-with-tags at the thrift store for a few bucks and it's oh so comfy.  One day when I don't have to expose my boobs every few hours I'll rock this dress for a full day.  For now, it only gets to live in an outfit post.

hat + shoes : urban x change | dress : thrifted (designer: lou & grey)

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Nine Months

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On Jack's 9 month "birthday" we are down here in Joshua Tree California!  I had to capture desert vibes for his 9 month shoot, since we are in the desert, so we popped out to the front yard this morning and sat in the dirt next to a couple of little agaves.  We're down here visiting Jacks' other grandparents (Dan's parents) for the week before we hit the ground running with our big move back to Tacoma!

These days Jack is very cute and chatty, he likes to repeat noises, very loudly says "mamamamamama" when he's hungry, and he's standing on his own, if only for brief moments.  I'm sure walking will come along in the next couple months so I'm just enjoying these last weeks/months of not worrying about him falling on his face while trying to walk. 

I'm so looking forward to establishing more of a routine with this kiddo (and honestly, with myself too!).  Not having a home of our own and traveling all the time doesn't do much for creating a solid routine and schedule and I know we'd both benefit greatly from one.  I for one am looking forward to fall, to having our own place again, and to having a more stable lifestyle!

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fringe benefits

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Bangs!  I finally pulled the trigger.  And after years of requests, I filmed a DIY Bangs tutorial!!  It should be posted this week, so all you brave souls flouting conventional wisdom to never cut your own bangs can be crazy like me and do it yourself. 

This outfit has all the desert vibes because I was looking forward to being in Joshua Tree, which I am currently!  I've got some super fun shoot scheduled for the week and hopefully I can squeeze in some outfit shoots too cuz I brought waaay to many outfits.

Thankfully the PNW isn't experiencing desert-like weather anymore. The rains finally came and I know thousands of people affected by the wildfires are so thankful.  It'll be nice to go back to some fall temperatures. I do so love summers in the PNW but I'm ready for fall now.  Mostly I just feel like my forehead is too sweaty with bangs during the warmer months, so it can be fall now. 

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Nearly Autumn

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I'm writing this one handed with Jack asleep in my arms so this will probably be short (#momlife). I've been so looking forward to the cooler temperatures of fall that I jump the gun on warm clothes sometimes, this hat being one of those sartorial mistakes.  Holy cow was I hot. But of course, once you wear a hat that's too hot it gives you a horrible case of hat hair and thus was I stuck with my sweaty misstep. In other news, be prepared to see more of this top because I'm in love.

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captain whidbey

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This past weekend I was up on Whidbey Island for a wedding I was shooting and it was oh so relaxing.  I've never stayed on Whidbey, just passed through, but this time we spent two nights at the Captain Whidbey Inn, which was so rustic and adorable.  Getting to spend the weekend with Dan after weeks apart was wonderful and we spent hours on the porch drinking prosecco and talking, after Jack finally fell asleep of course.  

We have less than a month now till we get to return to Tacoma officially and I'm teeming with ideas, maybe too many ideas, for what I want to do when we're back.  I have tons of home update plans and dreams, things I want to do with friends, business plans, and overall I'm just looking forward to really investing in Tacoma and diving into being a part of that community again.  

In the meantime, we're kind of holed up down here in Oregon with the wildfires raging just a few miles away and smoke thick in the air.  It's extremely heartbreaking to see the devastation this fire has wreaked on the Columbia River Gorge and we're all down here hoping and praying for rain, which is not something us PNW folks are used to doing.  

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Portland Flea

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Yesterday we ran into town to hit up the Portland Flea, which was so so dreamy.  I didn't end up picking anything up, but I am so super inspired for our home decor and my personal style and I could've bought almost every single thing.  I think I'll probably drop a few bones at next month's market right before we move back to Tacoma because I've got a wicker hutch and kilim rug on my wishlist like whoa.

Even though I'm not quite ready for summer to be over, I can feel that my style is ready for fall.  This dress is just waiting for a pair of tights and a cozy long-sleeved blouse.  I'm loving textures that are interesting, a little vintage, cozy, and natural.  Give me macrame, rattan, and weaving all day, every day.

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 shoes c/o Cat Footwear and AMP3 PR

Gratitude + Waiting

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This season of life has been particularly hard on me and our family.  Long stretches of time separated from one another, solo parenting, living out of a suitcase for months, and feeling uprooted and desperate for home has been taxing.  I often find myself descending into negativity.  Feeling angry, frustrated, helpless, it's a pit with slippery walls and can feel so inviting to indulge in.  Sometimes when I think that I still have over a month left before we can even move into a home of our own I just feel so depressed.  A month isn't that long, but it can feel like an eternity in my mind, looking at the long days stretching out in front of me, each one its own little infinity.  When I realized we wouldn't be home until October and would miss summer in Tacoma, I got bummed out, but today I want to focus on the positive and get excited about all the great things that I can look forward to, instead of feeling sad that they aren't here yet.  

  • Pumpkins on the front porch- we got married in November, right after Halloween, so our wedding had tons of pumpkins.  That first November we had a front yard full of pumpkins left over from the wedding.  It was so festive and I love how pumpkins on the porch remind me of our wedding.
  • Going to the pumpkin patch- Dan and I have gone to the patch before, but this time it feels like the beginning of a little tradition with Jack and his first autumn!
  • Fall leaves!- Alaska has lovely fall colors, but fall is short and there isn't a huge variety of fall colors the way there is in the Northwest.  Fall lasts so long in the Northwest.  Getting to take photos in the leaves is so much fun and I'm thinking Jack might be walking by then and will be able to play in piles of leaves!
  • Home renovations!- In the summer I don't really want to renovate anything because I just want to enjoy summer and it's so damn hot (and we don't have a/c like all idiot PNW people.  Why don't we have a/c? I don't know. We are sadists).  After we redid the kitchen of our Anchorage apartment, I'm feeling really inspired and empowered to DIY the reno on our Tacoma kitchen.  I like our kitchen all right, but it can be so much better, and so much more "us" than it currently is.  Another mini reno I want to punch out?  ripping the nasty, old, dated, brown carpet in our upstairs and replacing it with white wood floors. Oh! And making our old bedroom into Jack's room!
  • Going for neighborhood walks with Jack and Dusty- Our home in Anchorage wasn't great for going on walks, and here in Oregon it's pretty bad too.  Our house in Tacoma is the perfect walk distance from some of my favorite coffee shops, and I used to just take Dusty for walks with me, but now I can bring Jack in his stroller!
  • Vintage shopping + Thrifting- I've been inspired lately with my personal style. I love the locally owned vintage shops in Tacoma and I plan on slowly building a wardrobe that makes me feel excited by grabbing special pieces from my favorite shops.  One of Dan and my favorite things to do together is go thrifting, and since we pared down our furniture a lot when we moved away, there are a lot of pieces we'll need to replace when we move back.  Instead of just hitting up IKEA, I want to find cool and funky pieces at thrift stores to refresh.
  • Getting back in the gym- While lifting a tiny human has probably given me some of my strength back from my year absence at the gym, I'm looking forward to getting my sweat on and having a bit of time to myself.  My gym in Tacoma is my favorite place I've ever found for working out, and I've been looking forward to going back ever since I could think about working out post-baby without cringing.
  • Planning Jack's 1st Birthday- Okay his birthday isn't until December, but you only get to plan a 1st birthday for your first kid once!  I do love planning parties, so I'm looking forward to putting together a really fun little party.
  • Lady Dates!- my bffs are in Tacoma and I'm so looking forward to getting to hang out with my women.  Mama needs some boozy girls nights and some dancing in her life.
  • Learning new things- Two things that I've been wanting to take classes in are pottery throwing and metal working for jewelry making.  Learning a new creative skill just for fun is such soul food.
  • Cheap + amazing craigslisting- okay, no joke, people price things SO CRAZY HIGH on craigslist in Alaska.  I don't get it.  And it's nearly impossible to find anything cool.  Craigslisting here in the PNW is a dream.
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waiting for october

Last week Dan and I got to go out sans-Jack for the first time in forever!  We headed into Portland to grab some drinks and food at Church, but when we got there some event was going on and a bunch of kids were in there singing karaoke, so (since we were actively avoiding children that night, haha) we decided to walk over to Hale Pele which came highly recommended by my sister in law.  Oh man, it was bomb.  I'm not a huge tiki-drink aficionado, but every drink I had was so incredible, as was the food.  And I can't say enough about the atmosphere. I'm a fan of when a business or brand commits 100% to their thing, and Hale Pele was an intimate tiki wonderland.  

I'm bracing for another weird month without Dan.  He goes back to work up in Tacoma this week, which means we won't be spending much time together until we can move back in October.  Being in this odd time living in other people's houses has been stressful and if I'm honest, I could go for one of those fast forward buttons so I could skip this next month and just move back to Tacoma already.  In the meantime, it's my busy season for work, so I'm buried in wedding images to edit, which helps keep me occupied.

Eight Months

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Eight months old, this little one is.  It's so weird to think of him as a little newborn lump.  I remember being excited when he kinda sorta touched a page of the book I was reading him.  Now he has such a grip I can barely wrench that book out of his little paws.  Everyone who meets him says he's the happiest baby they've ever seen and his smile is the greatest and best thing ever.  I have a feeling he's going to be a funny, opinionated kid who makes friends with everyone he meets.  He's almost never snuggly because he is constantly moving, but lately he's been more clingy than usual when he's tired, so I've been letting him nap and sleep on and next to me.  Today he was curled up next to me on the couch and it was so precious I could hardly stand it.  

I'm trying to figure out the balance of mom-hood and independent-adult-hood.  For some reason, it doesn't seem like men have quite this crisis.  Perhaps it's because our culture tells them from childhood that they are the breadwinners and will work all day to support the family, and then they'll come home and spend time with the family then, and on the weekends.  I don't really feel like 100% stay at home mom life is what I'm designed for, but I also don't want to miss out on Jack's childhood and the moments I can never get back while I'm pursuing a dream outside of motherhood.  I don't know what that balance looks like but I'm pretty sure it's messy as hell.  

5 ways to style jeans

Truth be told, I'm not actually sure I own any of these jeans anymore!  Since they're all high waisted I may have put them in storage last summer, or maybe I got rid of them?  I don't know!  What I do know is that black jeans are an absolute staple.  I'd say they're in my top 3 most needed clothing items at least.  All of the ones in this post are dark blue jeans, but if you look in my closet right now, all the jeans I have are black as can be.  In a way, I feel like it's my version of a uniform in that I know that all my jeans are black and everything goes with black.  It makes it easier to put outfits together, and I like black.  That being said, I do know that I still have those wide legged jeans in storage and I'm looking forward to pulling them out and seeing if I still like styling them up!

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California Gold Rush

It's National Thrift Shop day, so I thought I'd post this outfit with a new piece I just snagged from Salvation Army this week!  It's been a while since I got a new influx of clothes in my wardrobe and my tendency to gravitate towards late 70's, early 80's mom-style is kind of cracking me up.  Every time I see my mom she's like, "that looks just like something I wore in the 80's."  I snagged a few other awesome pieces at the thrift store this past week so I'm excited to style them up and pop em up on the blog!  I got a brand new Lou & Grey maxi dress from the thrift store that I'm super in love with.  I'd never heard of Lou & Grey and after looking them up, I'm kind of obsessed!

Suburban Explorer

In the past 8 months, I haven't felt very inspired, personal style-wise.  With my body slowly becoming less "puffy" post-birth and having to expose my boobs every few hours easily, personal style took a back seat to practicality and laziness.  Back when we moved to Alaska I stored all the clothes that I knew I couldn't fit on my growing pregnant body, so my wardrobe was relatively limited, and when we packed all our stuff to move down here a couple months ago, my wardrobe got whittled down even further to what I could fit in a suitcase or two.  So this past week I did a bit of retail therapy, which helped on three fronts: getting out of the house, hanging out in an air-conditioned space, and adding a couple fresh pieces to my wardrobe.  

I feel like I'm kind of crystallizing a sense of what my style might be now.  I feel a little bit like a Free People meets Madewell type of girl.  With maybe a dash of rock + roll grunge thrown in there now and then.  We'll see how I feel about all the clothes I stored away over a year ago once I get them out upon our move back to Tacoma.  There may or may not be a shop-my-closet happening, depending on how many of the clothes I actually jive with these days!

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Mother's Day Session

I met up with my girl AlisaMarie at Anchorage's Mann Leiser Greenhouses a few weeks before Mother's Day to do a fun little shoot with my little man.  AlisaMarie also did our first family session back when Jack was only a couple months old. In our year living back in Alaska I didn't go out much and make a ton of friends, but AlisaMarie was one person I connected with and while I'm excited to head back to Tacoma, I'm also super bummed I couldn't pack her and her boys up and smuggle them down too.  If you're in Anchorage and need some photos hit up Sons and Daughters Photography, she'll do you right.

Motherhood is a strange and contradictory experience. One moment I'm laughing with Jack, the next I'm screaming with rage, the next I'm snuggled beside him, the next I'm bogged down with despair, and so on. I don't find fulfillment through motherhood, necessarily. I've sometimes wondered if I could "just" be a mom, If I didn't need to bring in an income, but I can't yet tell if I would go batshit crazy without having my own businesses and pursuits.  I know some women who thrive as mothers and find themselves in motherhood, but I feel more like the opposite-- that I've lost some of myself.  Some days it feels more like I've lost my mind, especially on days when I'm alone all 24 hours with Jack, with no other human interaction.  

But I'm learning, slowly, what I need to do to make motherhood work for me.  What systems I need in place so that I don't lose my mind, what things I need to weave into my life to hold on to my independent personhood, and most importantly when I need to ask (or beg) for help or reprieve.  It's a damn messy ordeal, sometimes I'm ashamed at how horribly I've coped with the change, but I also try to remember how much change and transition has happened (and continues to happen) over the past year and give myself grace.  

Tiered Dress : c/o Modcloth (a few years ago) | Flower Crowns : Mojave Moon | sheer dress : brought by AlisaMarie

Seven Months

Time is flying these days.  What with moving, and flying back and forth from Anchorage, and shooting weddings almost every weekend, it's been quite the month.  In the blink of an eye, Jack is one month older again!  This month has been wild in terms of his advancement and skills.  It's almost like he's changing on a weekly or even daily basis right now!  He's started pulling himself up to standing on literally everything, he's now crawling up on his hands and knees instead of his old army crawl, and he's getting better and better at sitting down from a stand instead of falling down, which was tres stressful.  He also got two bottom front teeth and saw his very first movie in theaters!  Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, good choice, bud.  

We are still living the transitionary life, staying with my parents in the basement of their new house in Oregon while we figure out how/when we can get back to living in Tacoma.  It's been really hard emotionally and logistically but I feel like there's going to be a light at the end of the tunnel here soon.  For now, our next exciting thing is seeing Dan again!  He left Anchorage today and is driving down the AlCan this week!  Hopefully, he'll be here sometime next week!  

5 Ways to wear a basic black tee

Lately, I've been trying to get my wardrobe more pared down and concise.  Just stuff that I love and mostly stuff that works well together.  Black jeans, a few cardigans that go well with nearly everything, simple and graphic tees, and a few statement pieces I can work in where needed.  A basic black tee is a staple and I loved creating these fun outfits around a super simple black t-shirt for my basic remix challenge!

Six Months

Two weeks ago this little human turned 6 months old.  Half a year.  His personality is definitely coming out and I'm slightly afraid that I may have created an extrovert.  He is the happiest baby I know (to be fair, I don't know a lot of babies, but also pretty much everyone who meets Jack says the same thing), and he's become pretty much unstoppable in terms of moving around.  He now pulls himself up to standing on anything he possibly can, he army crawls so fast it's frightening, and he's pretty much constantly exploring all the things.  He had his first trip to the Zoo last week, got to meet his dad's cousin and her kids, and has hung out with his aunt and uncles a few times now that we're in Oregon!  

I've been taking all Jack's monthly photos on this couch in our living room but I'm gonna have to find a new spot this month since we're on the road!  It's been kind of fun seeing how he's grown every month compared to the couch.  Month 7 will be an outlier, and hopefully by 8 months we'll have a living room of our own again?  Maybe?  Fingers crossed!

Backyard fun

We dodged mosquitos for an afternoon and enjoyed a sunny day in the backyard a few weeks ago, and I snagged some pictures of my little explorer while we hung out.  It's wild how different he is even just a few weeks later.  I feel like his mobility is accelerating at an exponential amount right now.  Just yesterday he pulled himself up to standing on an ottoman and all of a sudden I look over and he's standing up!  He army crawls everywhere and I almost feel like he'll go from army crawling to walking because he is so mobile with the army crawl I don't think he'll bother with a regular crawl.  We shall see.  Basically nowadays whenever he's not asleep I have to be monitoring him constantly.  Gone are the days of putting him down and going and doing a thing without worrying about him putting everything in his mouth, climbing up on things, and falling over.  It's a weird juxtaposition of feeling proud of his newfound abilities, and disappointment of my newfound loss of independence.  At least when he was less mobile I could get stuff done while he was laying around playing with toys on the ground.  Now I turn my head for a second and he's off to attempt climbing up the side of a couch or something!

Part of me was feeling disappointed in myself for not booking as many photography jobs this year as last year, but honestly I think it's a blessing in disguise.  Shooting weddings with a baby is a new level of stress, and since pretty much all my weddings this year are this month, I'll be pretty relieved to have them all done and under my belt.  

I know a lot of women seem to love breastfeeding but it's one of my least favorite things about having a baby.  I do feel like it helped my bond with Jack and it's a hell of an experience to feed and grow a person with food that your body makes, but it's also this strange invisible anchor that keeps you from being away from your baby for longer than like 2-3 hours at a time.  Like a baby bungee cord.  Oh, did you like that brief taste of freedom?  LOL, too bad, come back and feeeeed meeee.  There are a lot of people with strong feelings and thoughts about breastfeeding.  Women feel bad if they aren't able to breastfeed. Women who have to go back to work shortly after giving birth have to pump to feed their children.  Breastfeeding can be painful, stressful, emotional, depressing, joyful, comforting, annoying as hell, among a multitude of other things.  Part of me feels like saying I find breastfeeding annoying and stressful will make women who can't breastfeed frustrated that I'm complaining about something they would love to be able to do.  That's probably valid, in maybe the same way that complaining about a difficult pregnancy experience would be frustrating to someone who can't conceive.  But I also know there are tons of women out there who feel the same way about breastfeeding and are looking forward to the day when their kids are finally weaned.

I plan on breastfeeding Jack (hopefully) until he's a year old, and then I'll see how things go.  It's definitely convenient to have food for him wherever we go, especially when flying.  Also can we talk about how clean it is?  Feeding a baby solid food is hella messy, y'all.  Sticky faces, fingers, clothes, tables, everything.  Everything sticky.  Breastmilk has such a clean and convenient delivery system.

Okay, I don't know how this turned into an examination of breastfeeding when it was supposed to just be a post about playing on a blanket in the backyard on a sunny day. Oh motherhood ramblings. 

5 ways to style a denim top

Like two years ago I did a month long remix challenge and I meant to round up each week's remix challenge and... I never did.  So I'm gonna just slide these in here real casual like and pretend like I did this way back when.

So to recap what the challenge was: I wanted to remix some super basic wardrobe pieces, so each week for four weeks I took a different piece and restyled it.  I've been wearing this denim top a lot lately so I thought I'd start with it first!

Life Lately

These two months (mid june-mid august) are crazy town for us, guys. So much is up in the air, living situations are in flux, and we're trying to make our lives make sense.  I know it will be over eventually but it feels a little overwhelming right now.  These photos are from a couple months ago, back before there were leaves on trees and there was still ice on the lake.  I had just been given the go-ahead to introduce some solid foods to Jack so I captured his (hilarious) reaction on camera.  It's crazy how fast time is moving right now, I can't believe I took these photos so long ago already!

Watching: GLOW on Netflix.  I binged this in a few days and it was so much fun.  After feeling so much intensity from The Handmaid's Tale (which I loved), it was so nice to just sit down and relax while watching a lighthearted feminist show.  I was legit cheering alone in my house during some episodes. Like full-on, hands in the air cheering.

Drinking: Mango La Croix.  It's the best one, you guys.

Stressing about: Housing. I'm doing my best to trust that the right situation will find us.  I like controlling things around me so not knowing what's going to happen, and not having a plan is not my jam.  I'm working on leaning into that trust and letting go of the anxiety.

Excited for: An unexpected week(ish) back in Anchorage!  I flew down to Portland on June 18th with the intention of staying down here until the end of July in order to shoot a bunch of weddings, but since the house in Anchorage sold so quickly I'm going back to help Dan pack stuff, put on a big garage sale, and clean.  It will be nice to get to say one last goodbye to the house I grew up in.  And it'll be super nice to have a week with Dan before I have to come back down to the Northwest.

Busy with: The Drop Deads! I was able to bring all my inventory and supplies with me, so I've been busy catching up, organizing my biz-life again, and getting new colors in, which is exciting!  Since I'll be flying back to Anchorage the 6-13th of July I won't be able to ship any orders that week, but I'll still be able to take orders and will ship them all out once I'm back in Oregon!  In the meantime, if you want something shipped before then, just order before July 4th!

Jack's Birth

Today is both Jack's 6 month "birthday" and also Father's Day, so it feels appropriate to post this today.  I figure I should probably write down Jack's birth story before it fades too far away. So here goes.

Jack was "due" on December 8th, 2016.  My pregnancy was almost bizarrely easy; no morning sickness whatsoever, no back pain, none of the adverse symptoms it seems most women encounter.  I didn't even have trouble tying my own shoes by 9 months.  So I had an inkling he was pretty dang comfortable in there and wouldn't be interested in making his debut early or even "on time."  I should note I use quotes around "due" and "on time," because it's been shown now that there is a span of 5 weeks in which birth timing is normal, so a due date or on time birth is somewhat misleading.  Anyway.  

My doula/BFF, Kristina arrives on Dec 1st.  I take her to my prenatal yoga class with me.  We hang out.  A few days later on the 3rd, my birth photographer/other BFF, Amy, arrives.  Both are from Tacoma, so they flew up to be with me for my labor and Jack's birth.  We commence waiting.  A week goes by.  Nothin'.  At every prenatal yoga class people start being like, "wait, you're still here?!" to which I reply, "tell me about it."  With no signs of labor, we start trying to entice him to make his way into the world in various ways.  We go to a hockey game, where I eat a burrito so spicy I was sweating profusely.  Spicy burritos and multiple fog-horn blasts do not work.  We try karaoke.  Nope (though Amy won the Karaoke contest that night!).  Next up: Zumba.  Zumba at full term is, well, it's a helluva thing, y'all. Mom, Amy, and Kristina joined me and we were all exhausted afterward.  I was pretty sure I'd get some kind of reaction out of the kid for all that jumping and bouncing around.  I was right.  That night I woke up feeling some cramping and Dan called in letting his job know he wouldn't be coming into work.  This was Wednesday, I believe.  Well, while I did get some action, it was just some Braxton Hicks contractions and the rest of the day I was back to business as usual.  Except I got to hang out with Dan all day because his work thought I was in labor.

No more signs of labor for the next couple days and by now I'm a week "overdue."  I have what I hope is my last prenatal appointment and my midwife checks my cervix and I'm dilated about 3-3.5cm, which is encouraging since it means I'm at least on my way to labor-ville!  She sweeps my membranes, which was an interesting sensation to say the least. We talk about some other natural labor induction methods and I decide to try my hand at castor oil to help get things moving along. Since I was a week overdue at this point we go in for a little ultrasound and a non-stress test to see how kiddo's doing.  He's in ship shape so back home I go, with a castor oil assignment to complete.

If you're wondering how effective castor oil is at moving things along in your GI tract, I'm here to tell you: Liz used castor oil and it was SUPER EFFECTIVE.  Well, at least at clearing out my gut.  Woof.  About 20 minutes after taking a shot of castor oil and I scooted my way to the bathroom where things moved along.  Everything but the baby.  Amy, my photographer, has moved her flight back a few days already and has to fly out.  She predicts I'll go into labor in the next day, because of course I would.

Next day I go back into my midwife for another check of my cervix and another membrane sweep.  At this point I'm solidly at 4cm, and it's at least encouraging to know that I'm almost halfway dilated already and haven't even had to labor to get there!  I go home and decide to do more castor oil and bouncing on my exercise ball.  At some point in the past week Dan's parents had arrived (expecting their grandson to already have made his debut), so that night we had a family dinner with both our parents and then make our way to the living room to play some funny board games.  As we're playing games, around 8:30-9pm,  I start feeling some periodic, light, contraction-like sensations.  They keep on coming, staying pretty light, and pretty regular. That night I go to bed to try to get some rest before the work begins, but I don't think I got any.  I may have dozed off a bit, but by 2:30-3am rolls around I have to get up and walk around and then I find myself ritually heading to the bathroom to grab the edge of the sink counter, swaying back and forth to get through the contractions.  I text Kristina what's going on and she decides to head over.

By 4:45 things are getting pretty intense so Dan heads down to start and warm up the car because it's Alaska in December and temps have been in the negative and single digits.  My swaying and moaning get me through my contractions.  Our bags head down to the car and I get in the back seat of the red van I've been driving since coming back home.  The same red van I would drive to school after getting my license.  If you'd told me back then that 15 years later I'd be in the back seat of that same van, in labor, I'd be incredulous.  For months there had been a weird, small trash can rolling around the back of the van making tons of noise every time I made a turn.  The day before I had finally taken that trash can out of the van, and as I get in the van I grab that trash can and bring it in with me because I'd been feeling a little nauseous and had zero interest in throwing up all over the car.  I think the trash can might still be in the back seat...

We get to Alaska Native Medical Center around 5am, maybe 5:30, and go in through the ER, since it's too early to go in the other doors.  We head up and go into the L+D Triage where, to my great dismay, I have to lay still for 20 whole minutes while they do another non-stress test.  I hadn't stopped moving through my contractions up until this point, even in the car I was swaying and up on my knees, not sitting down, so having to lay down and be still for 20 minutes was a pain.  Plus they had to put in a Hep-Lock so that I could be easily hooked up to an IV in the case of an emergency, which I was not anticipating and wasn't thrilled about.  So it goes. 
 

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My room becomes ready and I shuffle my be-gowned, laboring, self the 50 feet to my room where we get the tub filling and I slip in to begin the work.  Things are pretty hazy at this point, not really like in the way that things are fuzzy when you're drunk, but kind of.  Everything goes internal and I'm not aware of much outside of like 2 feet from my body.  Kristina and Dan are giving me double hip squeezes and I get pretty intimate with the walls of the tub.  It's intense and by the time I'm starting to feel a little pushy, I vomit a couple times after contractions and then decide to get out of the tub and move to the toilet.  Nurses have been coming in and out periodically checking on Jack's heart rate and, I'm assuming probably, other stuff, but for the most part it's just me, Dan, and Kristina.  

By the time I'm on the toilet I'm feeling pretty pushy, and between contractions at one point I'm like... I feel like maybe a midwife should be here... right?  Kristina went and let the midwife know that things were happening and at some point she shows up-- again, things are hazy and my sphere of external awareness is pretty small.  At first I'm laboring leaning forward on the toilet but as things progress my midwife has me lean back and put one foot on Dan's thigh and one on her thigh, both of whom are kneeling in front of me.  In retrospect I can't imagine Dan's staring-down-the-barrel view, I imagine it was intense, to say the least. There is a lot of groaning and pushing.  I keep trying to push after my contraction has ended, I just wanted to get it done with, but my midwife tells me to stop pushing when the contraction is over, and my over achieving self complies grudgingly.  Mostly I just remember groaning and having her tell me to groan lower and feeling a little ridiculous as I modulate my groans awkwardly from a higher pitch to a low pitch.  That and feeling like I might just rip the metal stabilizer bar off the wall with my hulk-like labor strength.  I think I probably squeezed Dan's hands or arms or shoulders or something uncomfortably hard.  

It didn't take long before the baby plopped out of me and everyone fumbled with this slippery little screaming, bloody new human and placed him on my panting chest. To which I responded, "this is weeeiiirrrdd!"  It was, you guys.  It was super weird.  After that there were lots of hands.  Doing various things.  Cleaning things, moving things, moving me, stitching me, cleaning Jack.  8:43 AM.  

Kristina went and told the parents, who had been anxiously awaiting the news out in the waiting room, that the thing had been done successfully, the new human seemed healthy, and told them to wait a little longer cuz my vag was getting stitched up (I'm also positive she said all of this in a much more lovely way, thanks Kris. This is why you are a doula and I am not). Shortly after all my "housekeeping" is done, the fam files in an ogles the bebe.  My Dad ogles him in his own way.  As a neonatal intensive care doc, he does his own examination and finds Jack to be a-okay. 

After that it's just a lot of chit chat and eventually we moved to the post-birth room for recovery, which is. a. bitch.  I had no need of an epidural for the actual birthing, but damn if I didn't want to cut off all sensation to my lower half for like the next week.  I may or may not have sobbed in the hospital room on one of the two nights we slept there because I felt like I still loved Dusty the most, my nipples and vagina were in excruciating pain, and Jack was crying and I couldn't make him stop.  Some angel nurse came and took him away and magically put him to sleep. Her witchcraft was a godsend

Oh, you might be wondering, "If your birth photographer had to fly out a day before you gave birth, who took all these photos?"  Well, I set up my settings on my camera, handed it to my Doula, Kristina, and between all her amazing Doula support she also pulled double duty as my photographer.  Dang.  

Anyway, that's pretty much that.  We didn't finalize Jack's name until we were basically heading out the door.  We had his first name picked out shortly after he was born but could not for the life of us pick his middle name.  We were vacillating between Tiberius and Gabel (Star Trek and Against Me! fans may recognize those names) but Dan threw out Polaris at the last minute and it just fit perfectly.

Jack Polaris Morrow it is.