Friday, April 26, 2013

one month//dear maddox

dear maddox,

so. one month, huh? time is doing that annoying thing it does sometimes where it speeds on by and days melt into one another and suddenly you're at a milestone you wish had maybe taken just a little more time. you'll figure this out soon enough when your days don't consist of sleep, eat, poop, repeat. time also does this weird thing where it can't decide if it wants something to be just a moment ago or a hundred years ago. like your birth. only a month ago, but it feels like we just left the hospital and it feels like that happened years ago. all at the same time. you'll feel this awkward pull on your time and memory soon enough. but first slow down, my growing boy. let your mama enjoy this new born stage a little bit longer.

our days consist of a lot of cuddles. lots and lots of cuddles. it's true what they say about babies, that you can stare at them for hours. in fact, i could lose days just staring at your sweet face. to keep a handle on that, that's how i spend your feedings. i memorize every feature before i put you down to sleep and by the time you're awake, you've already changed a little bit more. you've started staring into my eyes while i feed you and i can physically feel our connection growing stronger. i pray over you during every feeding. for protection and guidance for all of us but especially you. i pray that you would be wise, intelligent, bright and kind. i pray against evil and heartbreak and things like impatience and anger and hurt. i pray that you would be a servant and would love africa as much as your daddy and i. i pray that you would change this world and i know that God will do great things with you.

i'm your mama so i'm obviously in love with everything you do (your burps and messy diapers included). but there are some things that i just can't get enough of:

your sneezes. usually they come in threes but sometimes you'll get to the point of no return and there's not a sneeze there, so you make the cutest little cooing sound instead. every time i see your face in its sneeze-prep mode, i hope for that little fake sneeze. and then proceed to tell you how incredibly adorable and perfect you are. because it is true.

the face you make when you're hungry. it's this pursed lip, raised eyebrow face. i die every time. not only do you make this face but you shake your head. your daddy and i absolutely adore this and we've stolen it as our new thing (but you are much better at it, sweet boy).

your faces. every single one is so great and full of personality. you're a character already. when you're not scrunching up those eyebrows you're staring so intently at us, trying to figure us out. you love to sit face out and see the world, get a first-row seat to all the things.

your sleeping smiles. we never fail to get a few smiles out of you while you're falling asleep. i can't wait until you have real smiles to share with us in a few weeks, but i'll take these sleeping ones and the few awake ones, too. sometimes you even smile after mama kisses, which kills me and also because mama kisses are the best kind. (don't you EVER forget that.)

you've already mastered the fake cry, and it's the best! maybe you'll be an actor. it starts off with a few fake coughs and then one good "wail" and i tell you to "stop lyin, little lion man!" and you stop, but not for long. your daddy just wails back at you and you look at him with complete annoyance like he's totally stealing your moment and all the attention. at first you were in complete shock--like, "what do you want ME to do about it, man?!" i already know this fake cry will turn into such a game between us.

you have a real cry though, too. your daddy saw it for the first time a few days ago and it almost made him cry. so don't do that anymore. sometimes you just get so frustrated that your bottom lip shakes and you make this sound like a tiny little piglet. other times you're so upset that you can't even breathe. and for a few seconds your eyes are clamped shut and your mouth is wide open and your face is turning red and i have to hold you close and tell you that everything is okay and just wait for it to pass. that's the cry your daddy saw and it broke his strong mans-man heart. you've basically melted him into a giant puddle, not to mention me.

i can't believe how smart you are. when you're hungry and you're being held up, you hold yourself away from us and fall to the side because you know exactly where the food comes from. sometimes in bed i'll put you on your tummy on my legs and you'll push and crawl your way up, all the way to my chest because like i said, you know exactly where the food comes from. the only thing you're a little confused on is where the food comes from on your daddy. you're a little confused that mama's the only one with the goodies, but it's funny to see you try. persistent and determined you are.

you love to hold hands, especially when you're eating. and your grip is so strong, i'm amazed at how strong you've become in just a few short weeks. you have rattles and balls and stuffed animals to squeeze and pull on to increase your strength even more, but your favorite toy is mama's hair. you would think i'd learn to wear it up or out of the way, but i don't and you pull and tug and wrap my hair around your tiny little fingers and rip it out with such force. i even found one of my hairs in your diaper. i have no idea how it got there, but let me tell you something your daddy wants you to know: mama's hair is everywhere at all times.

it's only been one month but i already can't remember our life before you. i can't imagine today being april 26, 2013, and you not being here to wake me up with that scrunched up pouty face and those stinky diapers. i can't imagine a world without you. you've made our lives so much richer and fuller and they're filled with so much love. we have been so blessed and i am just so thankful that God chose me to be your mama.  my heart bursts each time i pick you up, each time i see your face, each time i think of you.

i love you so much, sweet boy. i can't wait to watch you grow up and your personality blossom. i can't wait to see who you become. whoever it is, you're going to be amazing. i love you, i love you, i love you.

love, mama

[fox hat c/o jess judkins, my charming colors]

Thursday, April 18, 2013


everyone says that maddox looks so much like me. which is true, he looks nothing like evan and everything like me. which is also weird because he's a boy and i'm a girl and that's maybe what i'd look like if i were a boy? except for that i have a brother and i think that we look nothing alike and so we pretend that he's adopted but maybe if i were a boy i'd look like my maybe-adopted brother, too.


his faces, too. this one-eyebrow raise with a wrinkly forehead. i do that. and his hands over his face when he sleeps. i do that. and his stubbornness. already. i do that, too.  and his teeny tiny bladder that just can't hold it for more than five minutes. i do that. and his attitude. and his always & forever hunger. and his love affair with sleep. and his love affair with fighting sleep when he needs it most. and his non-hitchhiker thumbs. and his deep blue eyes. and his dark hair. his dark skin. his nose. his lips. his dimple.

mine. mine. mine.

it's weird seeing yourself in another person. wondering what qualities he'll get from me and which ones he'll get from evan. i could make a list of all the things i hope he passes on, my quick anger and road rage and defensiveness and fear of confrontation and shyness and the things that i hope he clings to from evan, his smile and ability to sing and desire to help and selflessness and protectiveness and ability to love and level head. and you have this child and you see the things in you that you hate and you slowly start to better yourself, like forgiving quicker and removing negativity and being patient and trying to not be annoyed by the people who don't use their blinkers as long as they don't drive like a crazytown around you and your baby. and you want to be the best you that you can be so this baby will mimic that you and hopefully won't see the bad you and if this baby does, hopefully those good parts outweigh and overshadow the bad.

oh, but he's perfect. my little mini me.
[little booties & hat c/o meghan, pleasantly plump knits]

Friday, April 5, 2013

week one

maddox is a little over a week old and we've been home from the hospital for exactly a week AND today is our 1000th day of marriage. (i only know that because evan wrote me a letter because i have the best husband and the best son in the world.)

we're already falling into our roles so easily. 3:00 am feedings aren't getting any easier but i welcome any time i get to cuddle with my sweet baby boy. even if it is in the middle of the night and he is wide awake. and even if he poops in 10 different diapers within a span of 15 minutes. (exaggeration, but that basically happened. he's a stinker.)

oh, but we love him. i just never knew there could be another human i could love so feircly. and this human that is half of me and half of evan who steals my heart on a daily basis. he's a mama's boy for sure, but he saves his sweet smiles for his dad. those wrinkly forehead faces are all mine, though, all mine.

i could just eat him up, i love him so.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Maddox Oliver Cook: A Birth Story

i know that i've already forgotten so much of his birth story and i had actually wanted to write down everything in the hospital but then i wanted to spend time with my boys more, so i did that instead. evan will be the official blank filler-inner.

our final OB appointment was last monday, march 25. i had been in serious pain over the weekend with the swelling in my feet and hands and was so ready to meet the baby but was preparing myself for another "let's wait another week and see how you do" speech from my doctor. my blood pressure was a little higher than normal and they hooked me up to the non-stress test and grabbed the baby's steady heartbeat that stuck around 130 for the entire test. i moved around, drank some juice, pushed on my stomach and the baby just did not want to be active. the non-stress test is supposed to catch movements that make baby's heartbeat jump around and baby's just did not want to get crazy. so. my doctor literally said, "i think what we'll do is just have you come in tonight and start the induction tonight by taking this pill that will help dilate you more (only 1 cm at the time...for the past 3 weeks) and then we'll check in the morning if you've dilated enough or if we need to start pitocin. but you'll have a baby tomorrow!"

total shock. i mean, i was so ready, but i wasn't expecting it just yet. she told us she'd go start the paperwork and she'd be back to answer any questions we had. i started shaking so bad and evan called his mom crying and i just laid there in shock that we had less than one day before our baby was here!

i went to work after my appointment and told my boss and coworkers and got everything ready for my replacement. evan picked me up at lunch (half days for bed rest still) and we went to lunch at our favorite local wrap restaurant where the owner asked me, "when are you due?" and evan jumped in so excited, "we're being induced tomorrow!" it was the sweetest thing to see him so excited to meet his child. so we went home and finished a few last minute cleaning items and checked and rechecked the hospital bag and gathered all of our things i thought we'd be rushing to get when the time came. instead we were calm (ish) and collected and meandered through the day saying, "hey! we're having a baby tomorrow!"

at 8:00 that night we went to the hospital and my nurse, heather, took us back to our gigantic suite where we got situated for the night. there was a baby crib and blankets set out and a pink sticker on the crib and a baby pink stethoscope hanging from the crib and evan began to think there was a little girl on the way. no one was supposed to know what we were having but evan thought someone peeked at an ultrasound and then set up the room early. she hooked me up to another non-stress test and saw that i was having contractions but i couldn't feel them at all. i took the first dose of medicine to start labor and went to sleep. i started having cramping-like contractions half-way through the night that were uncomfortable but not unbearable. labor didn't progress through the night so i took 3 doses of the pill and with the last dose my body kicked into bringing-baby-home-mode. by 9 am i was dilated to 4 cm and my doctor broke my water (weirdest feeling in the world and i hated it) and i was having frequent small contractions that were tolerable but less crampy and more contractiony. and then they decided to start the pitocin. my labor plan was only 2 bullet points, the first being: "do not give me pitocin." asterisk: "if you're giving me pitocin, give me an epidural." but i couldn't have an epidural until my contractions became frequent, like 2 minutes apart. let me tell you something: 2 minutes is about the equivalent of .005 seconds in the labor room. time is very different in there.

so. they slowly started the pitocin with the plan to turn it up every 20 minutes until my contractions evened out and if i couldn't handle it, get an epidural. let me tell you: COULDN'T HANDLE. pitocin is the worst. it is from the devil. i expected it to hurt, because hello, but it was the most intense, concentrated, agonizing pain. every time a contraction came on, evan would watch the monitor and tell me, "it's coming down. you're doing great! breathe. in through your nose, out through your mouth." all i could do was stare at the ceiling and concentrate on the ceiling tiles and try to breathe. i couldn't speak, i couldn't make a peep, i couldn't squeeze his hand. my hands and feet were so sweaty that evan wrapped them up in towels because i couldn't stop complaining about how gross it felt. my contractions got real, real quick. evan timed them and they weren't quite 2 minutes apart but i HAD to get the epidural. evan didn't know how i wanted him to act so he tried to be funny and sarcastic, telling me, "come on. you're not even screaming. it does not hurt. don't lie." and i snapped at him to not joke around. i think i said, "you can say whatever you want but you can't joke and be funny right now." i didn't need him to encourage me or anything, i just needed him not to joke because i couldn't joke back.

i finally called my nurse (day nurse, jenessa, seriously? most amazing nurse i've ever met.) who told me she'd get the epidural ordered and i laid in bed for 45 minutes trying not to freak my freak about where the hell my epidural was. she came in to check on me and told me that the anesthesiologist was with another patient and would be about 10 minutes. i wanted to cry. but i held it together because i kept thinking, "people do this in third world countries in mud huts and without any type of pain management. get it together, larissa." i felt guilty that i was being such a child about the pain but i tried to labor through it naturally and felt like my insides were being ripped apart with each contraction. finally the anesthesiologist came in and had to work at lightening speed to get me sterilized, numb and injected within the span of the dead space between contractions. i heard this part was the worst so i curled myself over the side of the bed and leaned my head into evan's chest and put my feet on his and my entire body stiffened as he numbed my back THROUGH A CONTRACTION. the pain was so much worse because i was curling around my baby while my contractions were doing whatever it is that a contraction does (PAIN) and finally i felt my left foot go numb and heavy and that was the last contraction i felt. he said that i might feel some pressure later on but i shouldn't ever feel contractions like i had been. i wanted to cry and hug him but i laid back in bed and closed my eyes and let my body work without any help from me.

my nurse came back in to check on my dilation process and to see if i could feel any contractions. i couldn't feel a thing. i could have probably walked out of there and had a normal day if my legs had worked. she checked how far dilated i was and started saying things like, "i can't feel...let me call another nurse." so she did and then told the new nurse that she couldn't feel anything and didn't know what to call it. i started to panic because WHAT DON'T YOU FEEL?! the baby's heart beats echoed throughout the room against the playlist i made (that evan sang to me because he's sweet) so i didn't know if something was wrong or right or what was happening. then she told me, "you're a 10! let's call the doctor!" then i started shaking again (which i actually had been doing since the drugs kicked in [side effect] and had finally gotten control of my nerves only to lose them again when i found out that OMG WE'RE HAVING A BABY. RIGHT NOW). my doctor had us do a couple practice pushes before she came to my room. when she came in we started the real thing. except it didn't feel real. it wasn't anything like how they do it on TV. i was in the middle of my bed, evan was holding one leg while jenessa held the other and she would watch the monitor to tell me when a contraction was coming on and would count to 10 while i pushed. evan was in shock and at first pretty quiet until he took over counting and my nurse gave me so much encouragement because even though it didn't hurt, i felt like my brain was going to explode. between contractions evan and i talked about what kind of doctors we would be and he sang to me some more and it was fun. i was honestly having so much fun because there was absolutely no stress or pain at all.

my doctor came to check on me and because i couldn't feel any contractions she felt like this was deterring my ability to push effectively, so she had the epidural turned down and my BFF pitocin turned up. i could feel the contractions again but they didn't hurt so we pushed through them for another little while until my doctor turned the pitocin up AGAIN because the baby was dropping and everything was moving along but my body appeared to need a little kick in the butt to get it going. the contractions started to get painful again, not terribly bad, but i was uncomfortable so my doctor left us alone again to push and came back to check on us when she saw that the stats on the monitor weren't doing so well. she stood at the monitor and watched as i pushed a few times and then she told me that the baby was in distress after each contraction. basically the heartbeat should have slowed down during the contraction but picked right back up again after i stopped pushing and the baby just wasn't. so she told me to stop pushing for 5 minutes to see how the baby acted before she made a decision about what to do next. after watching the baby for another 5 she decided that there was too much stress on my body and the baby (i had also been losing oxygen and was on an oxygen mask to keep MY stats up) and we needed to do an emergency c-section. i had been preparing myself for this for a month when i had been diagnosed with preeclampsia and didn't freak out, didn't panic, just needed to get my baby there safely and quickly. it didn't seem like that big of a deal when she explained the reason we needed to do a c-section but all of the sudden she was back in the room rushing everyone and getting evan quickly dressed in scrubs and we were off.

i had to get another epidural because the first dose of medicine is basically a nerve block that puts only part of your body to sleep but it only lasts an hour and a half. and then another medicine starts that's still good but not as good. so, we had to do another intrathecal epidural to numb my entire body from my chest down. i didn't care about feeling contractions but i became terrified that the epidural didn't work and i would feel my doctor cutting my body open and i would die. evan had to wait outside the room while they got me ready and he told me he just stood there waiting and the nurses freaked out when they found out he left our camera in the room. "you're going to want that," they said, so he rushed back and grabbed the camera. i tried to pray as they moved me from my bed to the OR table but my mind was racing and there was so much activity in the room, the setting up of the baby things, the counting and recounting and recounting again of equipment, my doctor instructing the nurses to quickly do something and if they didn't have enough time then to tell her immediately so she could do it, that i couldn't quiet my mind to concentrate on a prayer and i just remember telling God to not let us die. i had to again curl my body over the side of the bed so i could get the dose of medicine and a nurse held my hands and body still. within a few minutes my entire body went numb and i felt like i couldn't breathe. i was terrified of every complication they warned me about: nausea, headaches, blah blah. i heard stories of women puking during the procedure and i was not going to do that. but, they didn't tell me that i wouldn't be able to breathe. my anesthesiologist told me to tell him any concerns or anxieties that i had so i told him that i couldn't breathe, trying to sound as calm as possible so that he wouldn't freak and scream out, "SHE'S DYING EVERYONE STOP!" they brought evan in to sit by my head and explained that i had a lot of pressure on my lungs from the numbing medicine and the muscles in my chest being relaxed but i could talk so i could breathe. "but i feel like i can't," i kept telling him. evan would talk to me and i couldn't keep my eyes open. they would voluntarily slam shut and clench up for 10 seconds at a time.

i remember my brother-in-law telling me how hard they ripped his wife's body around as they pulled out their baby. she said she could feel them moving her and a ton of pressure. i must have been high as a kite because i couldn't feel a thing. except for the fact that there was no air in my lungs. at the beginning i could feel them sterilizing the site but i was only aware of a sensation, i couldn't feel anything. i know when they set up the drape to keep their grey's anatomy out of my face i couldn't feel the drape on my chest and i i finally calmed down and knew that i wouldn't feel my doctor cutting through my body. i told evan later that it was weird that they didn't move me that much and he looked at me like i was mentally insane and told me they had been jerking me so hard. well, i didn't feel a thing. that anesthesiologist and i are BFF. i remember my doctor telling me, "we're pulling out his head!" and then a few seconds later he cried. evan whispered in my ear, "that's our baby! that's our baby!" they pulled him out and announced "IT'S A BOY!" and evan saying, "THAT'S MADDOX! BABE! THAT'S MADDOX! THAT'S OUR SON, MADDOX!" (oh, we've had the names picked out for a long time, like i was 8 weeks when we picked maddox. so. sorry for lying to everyone ;] also, it's pronounced "maddix," NOT "mad ox." we've heard that enough.) and evan left me to go cut his umbilical cord and take pictures.

bullet point number 2 of my birth plan was that evan was the first person to hold him. after the doctors and stuff. my rule was that the baby could be checked out and then IMMEDIATELY handed to evan. i got to carry this babe for 9 months and i wanted evan to have his moment, have the first moment with our sweet boy. evan took a million pictures while they weighed and measured him and then they swaddled him and evan carried him to me to show me how absolutely adorable our baby was. a nurse took our first family picture (i'm so out of it, that anesthesia knocked me on my butt, i can't even concentrate on the camera and i barely kept my eyes open for a 2 second picture) and we were together as a family for the remainder of my surgery.

my favorite part about surgery was when the doctors got me all stitched up and the nurses were doing the final count of all the instruments and things that shouldn't be left behind in a body and they were off count on a clamp. a giant clamp was missing and i see a nurse digging through the laundry bin, frantically digging through blankets and sheets and random laundry items and hear my doctor instruct someone to call x-ray and make sure the clamp isn't inside of me. she said, "we know it's not, but we have to make sure." so i replied, "it's okay, i work for a law firm." i'm so funny when i'm full of medicine.

when we were done they moved me back to my bed and handed maddox to me to carry as they wheeled me back to my room. i don't know what instinct they were running on to let me, in that state, carry a minute old baby, but they did. we just stared into each others' eyes and i planted thousands of sweet kisses on his cheeks and couldn't get over how handsome and perfect he was [IS]. we spent the next hour or so being together in our room, spending the first few minutes soaking up our new little baby before we introduced him to our families.

and a funny story we didn't want to tell anyone:
i've had weekly ultrasounds for the past 2 appointments to double check my amniotic fluid level and to make sure everything looked okay in there. it was literally a five minute ultrasound but we always got to see that sweet face. i always made sure to tell the tech that "we don't know what we're having so please don't tell us!" well, we were staring at the monitor as the tech scanned the wand across my stomach and we both saw that "the baby" was "the baby boy" preeeeetty obviously. i've known this entire pregnancy that we were having a boy. even when i was "team girl" i knew it was a boy. i wanted a healthy baby first, and honestly, i wanted a boy from the start. and obviously so has evan. but. there it was, right on the screen. i was a little sad that we suddenly knew, like we had gone 37ish weeks with the gender of our baby as a surprise (except we knew. parent's intuition, totally) and then we found out by accident (and the tech totally tried to make it up to us with a 3D ultrasound--but she pretended like she didn't just flash us our son's goodies). evan convinced me that it might have been his hand or the umbilical cord but clearly it wasn't. we didn't tell anyone that we knew and definitely pretended that it was still a surprise, because it would be a funny trick to see that and then out pops a girl. but we're so smitten with this little man. i can't even remember what it was like to not know what we were having. to have "the baby" and not maddox. when i look at pictures through my pregnancy i have no recollection of the "not knowing" because this is our life now and he is a he and it's weird to me that we didn't know that for so long. i can't imagine having a little girl, how different it would be. he's absolutely perfect and we have been so blessed. we're so much in love and i'm trying to soak up every single moment i have with him, his cuddles and kisses and even the dirty diapers because he's only little once. i'd go through the pain every single day and have a million more c-sections for him. everyone says they never knew that they could love someone so much. and it's absolutely the truest statement ever.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


it is my favorite to watch the relationship blossom between evan and maddox. i've had 9 months to bond with him inside of my belly, every stretch and kick and hiccup i've already felt. his daddy has, too. every night before going to bed evan would lay his hands on my stomach and little maddox would kick and stretch against them. evan didn't have to press hard to make his presence known. maddox just knew that his daddy was touching my stomach and he would go wild. but our experiences have been different, understandably; and i've been so exited for the moment i would see evan become a dad. because he's been a dad for 9 months, assembling the crib and making nursery decorations and hanging up the curtains and massaging my feet and naming our baby and installing the car seat and every other big and small task he's accomplished in the name of maddox. but to see him hold that little bundle for the first time and to see him rock maddox to sleep and get peed on and soothe him when he cries and kiss his little head and beam with so much pride every time he gets to show him off, it's been my absolute favorite thing to watch.  their relationship is so special, a daddy and his son. and i'm so thank for my two guys and especially evan, my partner and best friend who has taken on this role like another layer of skin, so perfectly and smoothly and without any hiccups or problems or complaints. i can't imagine my life being any different. everything is in its right place and everything is perfect.

Monday, April 1, 2013

happy easter

happy easter!

today was the best day. we took maddox to church with us because i lovelovelove easter service. i just wore him in the wrap so that no one would touch him or hold him and get their germs all over his 5 day old body. he was such a little celebrity (because evan works there) and everyone fell in love with his sweet sleeping face because how can you not? i wasn't going to take him to the nursery because see above and the service would be way too loud for his precious little ears so we sat in the "family center" where there are comfortable sofas and a TV that broadcasts he service. it was weird and not my ideal easter service but it was perfect because my sweet baby boy slept curled against my body for an entire uninterrupted hour.

we weren't able to find an easter outfit before easter (target apparently thinks this world is made up of only baby girls and let me tell you what: no.) and so we dug through what we've got (which isn't much because nothing fits my skinny little guy) and found some jeans and an adorable elephant onesie and even though us + evan's mom were the only people who saw the outfit because he peed on it (side eye at the pee), it was adorable.

let me tell you another pee story: last night as i was nursing him i was just staring at him in awe when all of the sudden i saw a gush of liquid come out of the top of his diaper. he managed to pee straight up and because he was laying down the diaper didn't even have a chance to soak it up. so it spilled out all over me and we laughed about it for a good five minutes because evan was peed on like 5 times in the hospital. i tell you that to tell you this: as i was nursing him tonight i hear a noise and knew, i knew without ever hearing this noise before that pee was about to come shooting out of his diaper. which it did. and landed square on my face (mouth was closed, thank you baby Jesus!!) and i reacted within a split second, cupping my hand over the fountain and causing my same stupid tank top (fresh out of the washer, of course) to again be covered in my son's pee.

welcome to motherhood, i guess?