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grandmother

Slow

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Slow

There was a summer storm three days ago. It was unexpected, but much enjoyed. The weather was warm and humid and the skies were gray, then blue, then gray again. The rain poured, then drizzled, then stopped, then poured and drizzled again. And it was beautiful.

The girls decided to sleep in until 9 a.m. that morning, but my phone, unfortunately, decided to NOT push the reminder for a breastfeeding class I was supposed to attend at 9:30 a.m. My joy at the extra two hours of sleep was quickly transformed into panic when I realized I was going to have to bust my slightly curvier mama butt to pump some milk and get both kids fed, dressed, packed up, out the door and delivered to my parents in a totally unreasonable amount of time. Moments before I decided to just skip pumping, take Isla with me to the class and walk out the door with my babies in their PJs, I messaged the instructor that I was running late. She replied with the most glorious words right as I buckled Lorelei into her car seat:

“Oh, I was actually going to cancel the class today!”

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I hate being late, like, really hate it, so it was a total blessing that the universe aligned in such a way. Though I need this class to fulfill a certification requirement, I’d much rather attend it on time and without my squishy, giggly baby serving as a major distraction (no offense, Isla, you just make it really hard to focus).

The next thing I knew, we were enjoying breakfast with my parents and discussing the weather in a very “not cliché” kind of way, because the weather was actually very weird and discussable. Another hot topic was the chrysalis my mom had transferred into a tiny greenhouse in her living room to protect it from the wind and birds outside. We had seen it first as a caterpillar in a “J” hang a day or two before. We examined it from a distance with Lorelei and watched The Very Hungry Caterpillar on Netflix in honor of the fact that it was beginning its butterfly transformation on my parents’ front porch. As we headed out to go home that night, Lorelei yelled, “Hey! Where’d the hungry caterpillar go??”

My mom and I took a look and were surprised to see that the caterpillar had transformed into a chrysalis when we weren’t looking. It was incredible to see, and we were all very excited. Lorelei was so excited, in fact, that she dragged her little red Adirondack chair over to the pot the chrysalis was attached to so she could sit and stare at it. Sadly, I had to tell her to get up out of the chair so that we could go home and hop in bed, but I reassured her that we would be able to watch the chrysalis for many days in the future.

“Goodbye chrysalis, goodbye ant, goodbye little yellow bugs, goodbye plant,” she said, before following me to the car. Goodbyes are never easy.

But, oh, how I wish we could have sat there as the sun set, and simply watched a transformation in progress without actually seeing the work going on behind the little green cylindrical wall of sorts. Nothing would have made me happier than to talk about caterpillars and butterflies with Lorelei while Isla listened and observed all the goings on. But a successful bedtime routine is all too valuable to me (Lorelei and Isla’s future moods depend on it), and it really was time to go.

On that weird-weather day a few days forward, Lorelei spent a lot of time watching caterpillars shed their skins and form their chrysalides on YouTube. But when it began to rain, we hurried outside to admire the huge raindrops that were glittering the sidewalk. Lorelei isn’t able to see rain all that often, seeing as how California has been in a serious drought for her entire life thus far, so being able to really experience a storm was very exciting for her. It was warm as we stood on the porch with my parents and watched the rain splatter. We guided Lorelei out onto the sidewalk so she could feel the heavy drops fall onto her skin, and we told her to stick her tongue out so she could drink some of the rain. After a little while, we went back inside and watched the rain stop and start again repeatedly out the window while kneeling on the couch. We eagerly listened to the thunder and told Lorelei that it was the sound that was made when the clouds bumped into each other. She liked the idea of that very much.

Eventually the rain slowed down enough that we could go out and play without getting soaked. As I looked around the front yard, I could literally feel the pace steadying. My mind was working more slowly, I didn’t feel as anxious as I usually do, I was able to play with Lorelei without feeling like I was forgetting to do something time sensitive, I didn’t feel like I was starving (a common side effect of nursing every few hours), Baby Isla was sleeping and the vibe in the air was a very, very peaceful one. Water drops on flower petals caught my eye, and I felt extremely inspired to photograph all of the beauty that I was surrounded by in a yard that I walk through hurriedly almost every day. The next half hour or so was very reflective and enjoyable for me. The air was still, Lorelei was beyond happy to be experiencing a different side of nature and I felt like my old, artistic self at the same time that I felt like a good mama. The combination of the two has never happened before, and this moment deserved to be remembered.

After Isla woke up and it was time to go back inside, I continued to see beauty in the most ordinary of places, like the contrast of the stormy skies against the curtains in my parents’ bedroom, Lorelei's attempt at wearing lipstick, or the colors shared by Isla’s blanket and onesie. I snapped away like crazy without ever leaving the moment. It was unreal and amazing and gratifying to know that I had nowhere else to be and was allowed to simply be myself, and actually enjoy it fully.

As the day came to an end and it was nearing the time to go home and help my girls go to sleep for the night, my mom and I both commented that the day in its entirety was actually really good. It never felt stressful, and everything that had happened that morning worked out for the best. We both love the rain, and I’m sure the change in weather was a much-needed change for our souls. I know that, for me, I was able to see my surroundings in a new light, and this ability allowed me to simply slow down and enjoy all of the mundane and ordinary parts of life that I never actually appreciate.

I’m thankful for the many wonderful and beautiful moments of that day.

And, I really miss the rain.


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Before Birth

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Before Birth

Dear Isla,

I could give birth to you any day now, and little by little I feel more prepared for this to happen.

The house gets cleaner every hour. I’m relishing in Lorelei’s sweet snuggles, knowing that soon she won’t be the only little girl who needs my arms around her. I find myself bringing my collection of crystals to the forefront of my entertainment center and nightstand, because their beauty calms me and reminds me that nature and its processes are purposeful. Your blankets are wrapped around me as I sleep in hopes of filling them with my presence, so that when you're wrapped in them after birth you still know I’m with you in every way I possibly can be. Your tiny clothes are washed and folded (many thanks to your grandmother and a friend for helping me achieve this during a time of barely manageable pain and stress). The cradle is made. New plants have replaced those that died as a result of the never-ending California heat (many thanks to your dad, who turned the soil and planted aloe and succulents in the box that was too high for me to reach or climb to in my current physical state).

All of this, and more, has been done for you, Isla. Your impending arrival has completely taken over my day-to-day life. I want things to be perfect for you and our family when we come home from the hospital, not only because that’s what my nesting urge is telling me I want, but because there is something about you that has taken hold of me even though we haven’t truly met each other yet.

I know that the moment I look into your tiny eyes, I will know. I will know what it was that drove me to near insanity as your due date came closer and closer. I will know what it was that made me connect with your sister on an entirely new level, one that will connect the three of us as women, sisters, and daughters in ways I never knew possible. I will know what it was that made my heart and body feel as though they couldn’t possibly do what was being asked of them. You are a force. You are more than just a sweet soon-to-be newborn baby; you are the physical creation of your father and I; the image of our love, capable of being held and witnessed. You are one with your sister, as both of you came from my womb and have felt my love and anxiety from deep within me, and both of you will know what it is to be parented by your father and me. You are a blessing, and a gift.

kaitlin coghill doula writer be always blooming

We hope we teach you love, understanding and grace. We hope your days are filled with fun and peace; with inspiration and imagination; with silliness and contentment. We hope you arrive in this world safely, and that you feel comforted in our arms after the journey that is labor and birth. We hope you feel as nourished by my breast as you did by my entire body for the past nine months. We hope you and your sister are everything to each other, and that you never feel alone.

And yet, despite the excitement that has fully taken over my body and mind at this point, I still feel worried. I am a bit worried to lose sleep again, as I know what it does to me emotionally. I am a bit worried to lose control of the cleanliness of my home again, as I know what that does to my controlling nature. I am a bit worried to be needed by two little people at the same time, as I can only imagine what that will do to my desire to please everyone that needs something from me, and to care for my babies at all costs. But I trust that wisdom comes with age and experience, and that we as a family will work together to maintain each other’s well being during the challenging times, such as the days where all of us are hungry at the same time yet we all require different forms of sustenance, or the nights where we all have trouble sleeping. And I trust that the good will always outweigh the seemingly bad.

Plus, your grandparents live just a few blocks away, and your grandmother has been the best example of what a mother should be. I know that I have her support both physically and emotionally, and because of that I know I too am capable of being a mother of two.

Please come soon, Baby Isla. We both know there’s not much room left in my little belly nest, and I want you to see how wonderful life in the light is. I want you to know how it feels to be comforted by your father’s arms, and to be kissed by your sister’s soft little lips. But most importantly, I want you to see that you are loved by more than just me, the woman who carried you in her womb for months on end, the woman whose heartbeat lulled you to sleep, and whose love of ice cold water woke you up a few times a day. There are so many people who can’t wait to meet you. You are special, you are loved, and you are wanted.

So, so wanted.

Love,
Mama

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Mother/Daughter/Sister

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Mother/Daughter/Sister

My husband and I recently found out that we will be adding another sweet baby girl to our little family, and we couldn’t be happier. That being said, there was a slight (and I mean very slight) feeling of discontent at the discovery of our baby-in-utero’s presumed sex. The thought of having a baby boy was exciting because mothering a son is unknown to me, and my husband of course wants a son because, well, what dad doesn’t? On the other side of the spectrum, we can relax a little more now that we don’t have to worry about accumulating a bunch of new baby clothes and accessories, nor do we have to research things like the risks and benefits of circumcision or how to change a diaper without getting showered in urine. We are happy with the news we got that day, and all is fine in our world (at the moment/knock on wood).

When I spoke to my mother-in-law on the phone about the big news, however, I came to realize something far more important than any of the above. She told my husband and me that she was so, so happy that Lorelei was going to have a sister because having a sister (or multiple sisters as is her case) is incredibly special. I thought about what she said for a while. She was so right. The bond I have with my sister is kind of indescribable. The way we support each other, challenge each other, love each other, respect each other and accept each other is beyond understanding. There is nothing comparable to the bond shared between two girls who become women together; who share beds and clothes and parents and family gatherings; who unconditionally admire each other during their best and worst times; who always have the other’s best interest at heart despite past misunderstandings; who teach each other important life lessons, like how to be their best selves and how to be honest in all relationships; and who comfort each other during times of shared sadness and grief. I need my sister so much that he thought of losing her breaks me and literally brings me to tears (even as I type this), and thus the thought of giving a sister to my first daughter also brings me to tears, because she will now get to experience one of the most intense and rewarding relationships that life offers.

The passion between sisters is intensified by the relationship they have with their mother. A mother is a guiding force, a symbol of strength, love and ultimate selflessness. On my first official Mother’s Day after Lorelei was born, my sister gifted my mother and me a necklace that is a simple golden ring with smaller rings connected on each side, which in turn are connected to thin chains that are joined together by a clasp (see picture at the very beginning since I'm not very good at describing jewelry). She got herself one as well because it is meant to symbolize the way the three of us are connected (the bigger ring at the center symbolizes our mom and the smaller rings symbolize us). I wear this necklace daily so that I will never feel alone, and never forget how important our relationship is.

My sister and I have always been drawn to the comfort provided us by our mother. She has taught us so much about life and how to live it, and even though my sister and I lead very different lives we are all three connected in a way that is quite difficult to explain. We care very much what we all think about the decisions we all make because we thrive on the feeling we get when we are supported by each other, and we know that none of us would lead the others astray. Knowing that such a loving and caring support system is there for us when we need it is ridiculously comforting. I’m not afraid of bad days or difficult life challenges because I know both my mother and sister have my back and will go out of their way to help me, and I them. It’s rare to find friends like that, at least it was for me, and to grow up with that kind of trust shaped me as a wife and mother.

Having family members as my best friends (my dad included) is very life-affirming. I was given to my mother by God, or the universe, or whathaveyou; she didn’t choose me and I didn’t choose her, and my younger sister didn’t choose us either. And yet, we are all three perfect for each other because we shaped each other, and that kind of bond is irreplaceable. I will do my best to give my daughters what my mother gave my sister and me: a best girl friend, a love unknown to many, and a sense of belonging in a world that often seems very unforgiving.  

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