Friday, April 30, 2010


I spent the week busy, back in the full swing of my "normal" life. I decided I had been too focused on the whole birth thing, too eager. Then this morning at five it all happened again. Giant poop. Contractions ten minutes apart for two hours. I didn't even wake Jeff because I was afraid of jinxing it. The contractions were low and steady and crampy, just as I had remembered my early labor with Eliana. It was a misty, green morning and I watched the sun come up behind the mountain, hoping. I finally woke Jeff and he started writing things down. But by the time he was ready to go to work, things had settled. Roseann came and helped with Eliana, did beautiful work around the house. I walked Lucy fast and furious around the park. A couple more big contractions. But now it's six in the evening and after much nesting and a long nap, he's still chilling. No journey yet.

I'm dying to leave the house but there's nothing I really want to do. I want to birth this baby. I want to meet him. I want this next chapter to start. I should relish these moments alone, but I'm too eager for the next phase. The noise and mayhem and unknown. The love and labor and incredible work. The reward.

Tomorrow is my actual due date. My body is totally ready. So I shouldn't be too eager. My girlfriend recently went sixteen days overdue. I call her multiple times a day asking how the heck she kept it together all that time. I usually would call myself a pretty patient person, but this one is harder for me to work with.

I threw a ton of stuff into a mixing bowl to make some banana bread. Now I watch the timer like it's some sort of sign, something that I can count on being ready to come out, perfectly cooked and ready when the dinger dings.

But the real meat of life doesn't have a dinger.

Fourteen minutes to go. I'll pull it out, give it a taste, and fumble over my belly to put back on my sneaks. Then another round of power walks around Greenough, watching the buds as they burst, the rush and height of the river, everything so green and fresh and new.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

still waiting

So the little guys still in my belly. My belly that's hard as a rock and uncomfortable as anything. This week I'm feeling more resigned to patience, less stuck on the this-could-be-it excitement and more settled into the now. Eliana's beauty and antics help keep us all present. Here she is in a costume she fashioned herself (panties on top of leotard), keeping us entertained and totally in the moment.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


I've felt so private lately. So inward and upward and all over the map. It's been a long week. A long week filled with contractions and cramps, surges of incredible energy and bombardments of extreme exhaustion. So many moments of...I think this is it! Or wouldn't this be the perfect time to have a baby? Or I really, really hope this isn't it...I can't do this right now. Exhausting stuff. All the wildness came to a loud crescendo Thursday night when the contractions started to come ten minutes apart, followed by mad dashes to the bathroom where I managed to empty every last particle from my insides. Jeannie and Jody were both on their way to another birth, so both my midwife and doula told me to take it easy and try to go to sleep -- this baby did not need to come just yet. Sleep I did. And that was that.

Yesterday was extreme exhaustion/nausea/poop/sleep day. A day where all my romantic images of this birth flew out the window and instead found me on all fours writhing and screaming and projectile-ing all over my little house. What we thought of was early labor was probably just a nasty stomach bug that, thankfully, seems to have cleared up.

Leaving me with a bit of perspective. Perspective that says this baby can come whenever he wants. That I have no real control over this. That my due date is still a week away. That anything can happen.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


photo by nici

I love where I live. I know I say it again and again, but I really, really love where I live. This past weekend my friend's threw me a shower. Now put everything you've ever had in your mind about baby showers away and picture this:

My girlfriend's show up at my house with mugs of coffee, savory snacks and gusto to party. We pile in the car and follow the highway through the mountains. The day is sunny and clear, the weather crisp, snow still shines on the craggy mountains. We stop along the way at some teeny tiny bakery that my girlfriend says has amazing homemade pastries. I find myself a power necklace, made by a local artist. All smooth shells and wood shaped like the sun's rays. I throw down money with abandon, with complete certainty that I need this piece of jewelery. It feels so good to indulge myself.

After an hour or so driving along the pristine Flathead River, we pull up to Quinn's Hot Springs. We check into our cabins, all woodsy and perfect. After more savory snacks and the party girl's cracking into their beers, we head for the tubs. There are five different tubs here, all different temperatures -- perfect for pregos and non alike. I find my tub and settle in. We soak and chat and chat and soak. At various points more carloads of BFF's arrive, so we are finally ten in all. I sip lemon water while my girlfriend's order drinks from the bartender who takes poolside orders. After hours of splendorious, weightless, mineral bath basking, we head back to the cabins.

We congregate in the party cabin. We are ten girls, two infants, two pregos -- making 14 in all. Joellen busts out some special smelling salts and rubs and gets busy on my feet. Mary's on my hands. They go around the circle telling me why they love me. Why I'll be able to handle this new journey. What my gifts are. Casey sings a song she's written for me. Bri sings a song we used to sing together. Nici reads a poem. Gifts are open. Gifts just as much for me as for my little guy. Pedi and massage and hair straightener of my very own. They know me so well.

At eight it's time for our dinner reservation. Bottles of wine and tenderloins are ordered. More talking, more laughing, more decadence. After dinner we head into the bar where karaoke night's on fire, all sorts of hysterical Montanan's are tapping their toes and getting nasty on the dance floor. Joe busts some Janis Joplin and blows the rest of the folks out of the water. We're ready to keep shaking, keep singing, but the girl's with babes are asked to leave the bar. Mind you, their babes are asleep in matching slings. Not exactly causing much of a stir. But we head out like a band of tough, dissed mama's, ready to bring our fun to somewhere more accepting.

Back to headquarters for more talking, more chocolate. Eventually we head to our rooms. The two pregos and the two mama's with new babes sleep together. Solidarity in our sleeplessness even though those two delicious babes never cry. Like not once. The whole weekend. That's enough to make a girl feel optimistic about numero dos.

The morning was more perfection. Stumbling out to the hot springs, coffee cups in hand, we have a last, luxurious soak. Followed by a massive breakfast. I really couldn't ask for more. We head back to Missoula a little quieter than when we left. With less to bitch about. More to appreciate. Last quiet moments to savor. Time without anyone asking anything of us.

When I get home I am supremely relaxed. Eliana's still napping. I crawl into my beautiful bed and wait for her to wake. My husband has surprised me by tackling the huge project that is our basement. I am flooded with gratitude. So happy to see him. So appreciative. I am calm. I am so, so ready.

Friday, April 9, 2010


A shower helped calm down this morning's foul, maniacal mood. Casey, Moana and Ophelia stopped over for a play date and hanging with that little mirror into my future did me right. The girls were hysterical, even if Eliana was bossy and melodramatic, there was plenty of sweetness in the mix. So as they were getting ready to leave, Casey asked me to hold the little one so she could get everything together. Eliana began to cry, her face all red and pathetic saying, I want my mommy to hold me! I want my mommy to hold me! I ignored her and walked out of the room with the babe. I was pretty into the tiny bundle of luciousness that is Ophelia and figured a little glimpse into her future wouldn't be so bad for Happy Sad.

A bit later as we read books and settled in for nap, I explained to Els that I would be holding her brother a lot when he comes.

No, Mama. My daddy will hold my baby brother, you just hold me.
But Els, I'll need to nurse your brother. Your daddy can't do that.

She looked at me with those big blues.

Mama, I'll nurse my brother. I'm really good at it. You just let me do it. And you hold me. That sounds like a plan?

Oh my sweet little articulate chicken. Always thinking that girl.


I am so ready to meet this boy. I have reached a new level of discomfort in my body this week. Monday's excited, manic nesting led to Tuesday's exhaustion. People sort of exclaim when they see my girth. I'm huge. And I don't have any of those pregnant-women-are-so-beautiful-and-glowy feelings. I just feel like Nell Carter in Gimme A Break, picking up things around the house and shoutin' at everyone while her big hips sway from side to side. Really, that's a perfect analogy. I'm moody and mouthy with my husband and child. I go into work like a bat outta hell and try to hammer out as much as I possibly can without a whole lot of grace or balance. I am up all night long with my miraculous bladder which seems to fill even without consumption and needs to be emptied every two hours, which only then seems to ignite my heartburn which finds me reaching for Tums at four am and wondering how I am going to get comfortable or settled again.

I don't like being moody. I don't like feeling grumpy. They are not natural states for me. I'm an optimist, a smiler, a team player. But some mornings a girl just has to vent. And today is that morning.

Eliana is blissed out with Elmo on the sofa eating frozen blueberries. She certainly doesn't feel neglected. Is this how it's going to be when my little man comes? Eliana cracked out with TV while I drag my disheveled self around the house, breast milk squirting, stinky with a ridiculous, unkempt bun perched on my head?

Where's the glamor? The glow? The calm?

Some days I feel so ready, so perfect, so zen. And then there are mornings like today. My compulsion to wash a red fleece blanket that hasn't left the basement for years was the first random act that hit me today. What a perfect birth blanket! Red, no less. So I hurled myself downstairs with my overflowing laundry basket, a still in bed Jeff asking, what are you doing?, and found the blanket. As I moved through the basement I felt total disgust at all the crap down there. The toys and ski gear and laundry and shoes and books. Hand me down clothes for when Eliana is five. More crap than anyone should ever have.

But I felt paralyzed because I can't do anything about it. I can only bend down so many times before the contractions get crazy. There's no place to put most of it. I've already brought half of it to the Goodwill. And why in god's good name am I writing about this? Perhaps because maybe, just maybe, someone will read this and totally get what a crazy person I am, perhaps have been there, perhaps not think I'm a total nutball.

So I start the laundry and pull myself back upstairs, kicking shoes out of my way. I try not to curse the dirt on the floor of the mud room. I press replay for Eliana and slip back into bed. The sun is bright over Jumbo. The grass green beneath shiny, speckled snow. I hold my belly and smile at the little kicks of this wildman inside me. Know that he is so much more than any out of place object, any layer of dust. Know that I am so blessed, so, so fortunate to be surrounded by this much love both inside and out.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

easter best

My BFF from high school, Alison, gave me a dress when I was pregnant with Eliana. It is this peach Laura Ashley dress with white polka dots. She gave it with a porcelain tea set. They both seemed so girl-like, so big, so un-baby. But here we are, playing tea set every afternoon and busting the dress on Easter.

I never really dress Eliana up. She's a messy kid with crazy hair who seems more suited to jeans and fleece than white tights and matching barrettes. But I've gotta say -- I loved seeing her all done up on Sunday.

We had a perfect return day back to Missoula. After all the Oregon rain, Missoula was sunny and warm (even though we were blessed with a spring blizzard today). We had a brunch date with our friend's over at Hayley's house. The spread was rockin' and the kiddos were thrilled to be together.

After sliders and playdoh, they found themselves in the yard with the chickens, running around to find eggs. Eliana gets it this year and was a focused, determined little hunter.

After a long nap for Eliana and a long hike on Jumbo for pregomama, we found ourselves at Mort and Roseann's for a delicious lamb dinner. The Massey's joined us with little Ophelia making her debut into the circle of love.

It was a loud, laughter-filled dinner with busy toddler's running about and content parents spending one of their favorite holidays together.

I really couldn't ask for more. I always love coming home. Home to these hills and mountains. Home to my people. Home to my little casita with all it's idiosyncrasies and love-filled nooks.

Monday found me nesting hard. Jeannie and nurse Tina were coming for the home-visit and, while I know that midwives don't visit home birth patients houses in search of dust bunnies, there was something about her coming here that made me want to have everything perfect. During my lunch break I found myself manically cleaning the windows, vacuuming behind the sofas, dusting the sills. Our birth gear was all gathered and organized. I even made it out to the store to buy some baby friendly detergent so I could wash his first outfits. It was a lovely feeling, all this focus on his arrival in the world. Jeannie said he was just perfect, his head far down and ready to rock.

While all that ridiculous nesting found me exhausted that evening, it was in a satisfying, ready sort of way. Eliana washed him about 800 times in the bath with extreme focus and purpose. We talked about his name and she said my favorite one with lovely pronunciation. The sun and snow, clouds and unpredictability of spring add a perfect tone to this time in our lives. Time for the unexpected. For change and green and new life.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

oregon in spring

Another Kessler vacation extravaganza came to a satisfying end yesterday. We hit the road for Portland last Saturday, big belly, dwindling budget and all. I was determined to do one last road trip before we have two tykes in the back of our little Honda and wanted to see Jeff's sister and her husband before they welcome their first into the world in a few weeks.

After a few last minute deliberations, we threw caution to the wind, loaded Elie up with DVD's and her buddy's entertainment system, and hit the road. Jeffy has a go-til we-drop long distance driving style, which I've grown accustomed to over the years. Spring breaks have found me wedged between backpacks of camping gear and stinky climbing shoes, happily contorted in the back seat in search of a new adventure. While Jeffy and his buddies recreate, I read and wander, journal and rock out to my tunes (moving from a walkman to discman to ipod as the years have progressed).

Eliana is fitting in nicely with our vacation style. She's learning to keep it real in the backseat and not ask for much (beyond her shows and copious amounts of trashy snacks that she only gets on road trips). Jeff and I goofed off in the front, rocking out to old songs and just being together. Lucy even stayed mellow wedged between Jeff's skis and Eliana's carseat. I think we were all just happy to be together, just being.

From our arrival on, it was one adventure after the next. Eliana loved the MAX, Portland's train system. We hopped on and country bumpkin style rode around and looked out the windows with no real destination in mind, hopping off whenever a spot sounded interesting.

After a few days of family love, city style and lots of playtime with Kelli and Jack in their lovely home, we hit the coast for a few days. My friend told me about this cabin in Oceanside and, for whatever reason, I felt compelled to rent it. We took a trip to a cabin in Whitefish before Eliana was born and the memory of those last, quiet days has always been so important to me. This time I wanted a "Babymoon" with Eliana, a special journey that was simple and beautiful and perfect.

And it was. The way Eliana is so up for anything. The way she hikes now, like actually can walk for a long period of time, especially if we're playing hide and seek, double especially if Eliana is Dora and Jeff is Boots.
The way she embraced the rain, took in the waterfalls. Raced us up trails, jumped in mud puddles and never ever stopped displaying her exceptional ability to be in the moment.

The way Jeff found all sorts of special spots for us, Clark Grizwald style, a daddy so excited about sharing the wonders of the natural world with his daughter.

Our visits to what Dad and Elie dubbed the Fairies Beauty Parlor, a wacky hippie alter on the way down to one of the beaches. Amongst the broken bits of shell and rock, Eliana decided the fairies needed money. We left them a penny. A penny which was gone the next day. Apparently the Fairies are big spenders.

I wrote this early in the morning, as I watched the sun rise over our insane ocean view. It seems to sum up how perfect it all was:

Waking up in this tree house, the ocean wild and vast outside the wall of windows, everything tinged a salty shade of spring gray. I can see the floatsam creeping in, mountains shrouded behind mist in the distance. I just crept the few feet over where my daughter sleeps, her perfect form curled in fleece and cotton, her body longer by the day. I feel the warm body of my husband beside me, the calm that has finally settled into him after leaving the city. Neither of us can hack it like we used to, cars and highways, crowded restaurants and dirty streets. Eliana's alive with curiosity, with excitement, her tiny hands explore the metal grates on the filthy sidewalk, a wrought iron planter around some yellow and pink tulips. "What's this, mom?" and "Here comes another train!" Alive and so full of wonder. I want her to always be adventurous, want her to always feel safe as long as we're there. "We're a family!" she proudly says, hugging our legs, holding us in a tight ball of cohesion and goodness. And even last night, "I love my baby brother so much!" followed by belly kisses and soft little hand rubs over my belly. This time away together makes me feel his presence infinitely more. He's so ready to come out, to become a part of our life. His little fingers tickle me from inside, his round, hard head nudges me, twinges and juts, smooth, fluid strokes and silky little jerks. I love that he's a boy, love that his gender is such a new exploration for me, new and yet totally right and familiar. I'm feeling ready and powerful about bringing him into the world, ready to feel each wild sensation, each rabid surge move through me, each jolt that brings us closer to meeting face to face. Just as I write this, I feel him move excitedly inside, he knows when I'm thinking about birth and wants to reassure me that we're on the same page, that he'll do his part to keep us safe.

I could stay in this bed all day.
Look out these windows forever.
Been too long since I've slowed down for any significant amount of time.
And I'm so ready -
To cradle and rock
and nurse and hold.
To introduce Eliana to the
careful, quiet,
hazy world of a newborn.
To tune my senses into every grunt and gurgle,
every blink and slow,
destination-less reach as he makes
sense of an unwatery world,
to the bright, vivacious hues
of our home, the blue of his
sister's eyes,
the smell of my skin.

Eliana stirs from her pack and play. This quiet time, seven uninterrupted pages in this journal come to an inevitable close. I shift my heavy body and more flows of white come into view. These waves. Little worlds that recede and progress, meld into each other, giggle and retreat, fluid, cohesive, yet each one on their own distinct path, rolling, rolling, subtle and constant, the wavy water covers this earth, this body, this view.