Before Maisy arrived I pondered bed sharing with a sense of unease. The idea of putting a tiny human being next to two full grown adults, one of which being a tossing and turning hard sleeper, sounded like a death trap. Actually, since having Maisy Josh’s sleeping skills have proven to be even more proficient than I initially expected. While my whole being propels out of bed at Maisy’s slightest sound Josh remains soundly asleep even if she’s been joyfully greeting the day with screeches and shouts for over 15 minutes.
Anyway, I spent over 72 hours in heavy labor before Maisy was born, then night came, then she made a peep, then she was in bed with me. It was simply survival. I was exhausted, torn to bits, and alone. It took me approximately 1 minute to realize that the way I was not only going to survive but thrive at mothering an infant with a husband who spends half of our lives on the road, I was going to sleep with this baby. Because, that night and every night following, this baby only stands a chance of sleeping well if she’s next to me.
I love bedsharing. I love that in the middle of the night when she’s hungry all I have to do is whip out my ready made food supply and pass back out while she feeds herself (sometimes this tickling of a very sensitive area causes some peculiar dreams though.) I love that in the morning I wake up to I bright eyed and smiling little bundle of joy (she’s seriously the most joyful morning person ever but also laid back enough to allow me enough time to get on board with starting the day at, sometimes, 5 am.) I love that even as a newborn she somehow managed to scoot over and nestle her face into the crook of my neck if I ventured too far away in my sleep (even if it meant being pinned between Maisy and Josh). I love that I get to spend all night long snuggling with my favorite little girl in the world (talk about quality time!) And I have to believe that all of this is creating a nest egg of love inside my baby girl that will assure her that I adore her no matter what someone says to her at school or how long she has to be in time out or how much she thinks she hates me at any point. Although, if the only benefit is that I get this nest egg of love that is good enough too. I know that on the days I want to scream at her or the days I’m so tired I just cry or moments when I feel at a loss for what to do that I can easily conjure up my baby’s morning grin or any one of those moments in the middle of the night when I discover her nestled into my neck.
Do I recommend bedsharing? Absolutely! Turns out, it’s perfectly safe, natural, and desireable! It is my sanity. It unleashes joy I would not get to experience otherwise. And it builds in me a nurturing heart that is bigger than I could have hoped for. There are so many mornings that I comment to Josh how I can’t imagine missing those moments with her just to have a little extra space in bed. Bedsharing means, usually, more frequent night wakings than a crib baby but the trade off is well worth it. I’m glad I still have some time with Maisy in our bed before she outgrows that need and needs more of her own space instead because, though I may be ready to get more sleep at night, I am not ready to give up that intimacy with her.
*These are all older pictures… I really have to take some recent bedsharing pictures!
I knew I loved Maisy even before a pee stick told me I was pregnant. I distinctly remember praying for her on a run one day, a week before even taking the test was a possibility, and I prayed that she would love Jesus to her very core, be so full of joy, and come out perfectly healthy.
The moment I touched her I knew I loved her. This love was more a provident love. I knew all I wanted to do was provide for her and care for her better than anyone else in the world has ever cared for anyone.
But it wasn’t until the day after the hardship of trying to care for a newborn while photographing Sarah + Travis‘ wedding and the full day of mothering maddness that followed that my head love for Maisy found my heart. The thing is, I knew I loved Maisy but I didn’t feel it for a little while. Perhaps part of this is due to the zombie-like nature I found myself in for the first week and a half of new motherhood, but perhaps it is the hardship that finally connected my head with my heart. I have found it is only really “doing life” with someone that seals a friendship. Maisy is and was an easy baby. Motherhood and Maisy made sense to me and I was stress free… until Maisy’s 9th day. On Maisy’s 9th day I photographed a wedding. The wedding went well and Maisy was a champ, but the next day all hell broke loose. Maisy seemed desperate to eat all day long despite the fact that overeating only ended in projective vomit (see”Upchuck and Church“). It was an exhausting day and by the end of it I cried. The next day I woke up to the same baby but with a new dose of help: the moment my sleepy eyes met my newborn’s face my heart filled with this most bubbly, lovely goodness. That was the moment I truly fell in love with my daughter. A couple days later she knowingly smiled at me and we’ve been best friends ever since.
I know now-a-days it is customary to immediately post pictures of big life events on Facebook. I just couldn’t do that. Firstly, I’m a photographer and I wasn’t about introduce my baby girl to the world any other way than with my fancy pants camera. Gotta do the little lady justice! Secondly, I know that eventually I would post pictures of her on the web but I stubbornly wanted to keep her from that… even if just for a little while.
Yesterday I did it. I took some pictures of my precious Maisy. It was actually hard for me to make myself take pictures of her when all I really want to do is stare at her with my own two eyes and hold her all the time. I could only manage a few photos because we also just moved. We closed on a house the day after Maisy was born. So, my house is slowly but surely being put together and boxes are getting unpacked but I certainly am limited in how creative I can get with pictures for now. I figured that’s alright though because, in reality, y’all just want to meet her and I don’t need gobs of photos to do that! Besides, I have a lifetime to take pictures of my little beauty!
Anyway, with no further adieu, meet my daughter, Maisy Joy Calhoun!
This year is the year of two photo sessions! Josh and I usually do an anniversary photo shoot once a year around our wedding anniversary. But, this year, we are expecting our first babe and thought a 9 month maternity shoot was in order! Mandy Henry has photographed so much of the important moments in our life, we were so excited to share this one with her as well!
Just as it is important to eat right and eat well while pregnant it is important to not get lazy. Let me tell you why…
Sure, there will be times when you feel downright terrible and it is acceptable to be a little lazy. However, form too much of a habit with this and you’re not doing yourself or your baby any favors. If you’re not taking care of yourself you will get heavier than you need to be which will make everything less comfortable and may make labor more difficult. I tend to think of the 9+ months I’m pregnant as my time to train for the marathon of birth.
Since decided to start a family, note this is even before I found out I was actually pregnant, I have never been so motivated to intentionally “work out.” I have never trained for a marathon nor do I have any desire to run in a race like that, but I am partaking in the marathon of birth; I intend to be as strong and conditioned for the big event as I can for the safety of me and my baby and for as speedy of a recovery postpartum as I can manage. Here is what I’ve been working at…
This has changed forms throughout the pregnancy. I started out with running and eventually that got frustrating because baby bounced on my bladder. I would tinkle before my run and still feel the urge to pee throughout the entire trip. So I switched to the elliptical machines at the gym and now that it’s getting warmer out I take my dogs for long walks outside. The elliptical is great because it’s easier on my knees and the bouncing is less jarring so my bladder can rest in peace. Walks are ideal because I get fresh air, the dogs get some exercise, and its nice and easy on all my ligaments and joints.
Besides stretching for a while after I work on cardio I go to a yoga class at least once a week. Yoga is incredible because I am getting body weight strength training (see below) and a good long stretch at the same time. This stretching will not only aid me in delivery but it has significantly helped me move around without pregnancy aches and pains. Before I started the class my back pain sat consistently at an 8 out of 10. I felt like an old person with all my muscles and bones shifting uncomfortably around trying to figure out how to carry the concentrated weight gain building at my midsection.
Up until recently I was able to do sit ups with every work out. But now I am officially at a stage of pregnancy when my abdominal muscles have migrated too far from their regular location to actually aid me in siting up at all. I could still do sit ups, but they were no longer good for me because in order to achieve that movement it was other muscles that had to compensate for my out-of-place abs. So now I stick to the body weight strength training I get with my yoga. Body weight training is awesome because it tones your body according to your body’s needs. If you’re into lifting weights, that’s always an option too. I highly recommend yoga because you’re doing body weight strength training and stretching at the same time, two very important things for labor and delivery, but it’s not for everybody and something like Pilates or Zumba will do you good this way too.
So this isn’t exactly exercising but it is a great addition to my pregnancy wellness plan. Back pain is very common and a big bummer in pregnancy. With a once a week adjustment I move around still as if I’m not pregnant. Before I started seeing my chiropractor by lower back pain almost knocked the breath out of me every time I changed positions and my hip joints were sliding in and out of place. It is also said that since chiropractic work aligns the body as it should be, baby’s passage and orientation should be much more natural – if mom’s body is out of place it’s bound to be harder for baby to navigate through it. If you think about it this way, it is much easier to sip out of a straight straw than one with a kink in it!
I highly recommend all pregnant women follow these four wellness tips. I promise you’ll be glad you did!