Tag Archives: pre baby

Meet Maya

I talked briefly and cryptically about the awful few months of dealing with the reality of not being able to keep our dog, Bryson, once we had Addison. It was heartbreaking and utterly draining preparing for and saying our goodbyes to him. One of the hardest things I’ve ever faced.

But our experience with Bryson did little to sway the fact that Clayton and I are unashamed Dog People. We nearly get into accidents if we spot a canine hanging out of a car window. We’ve been known to stop into pet stores when dogs are available for adoption with no intention of adopting; we just like looking. And, even now, if people have a baby and a puppy out in public, one guess which of those we will enjoy playing with more.

After somewhat processing Bryson’s absence, the question was not if we would get another dog, but when. Either we acted quickly so we had time to adjust to our new companion (and vice versa) before the baby came, or we waited until things settled down after baby. Worried that things wouldn’t “settle” until Addison was about 11 years old, we opted for now rather than later.

Searching for a new four-legged friend was tedious. Coming off of our ordeal, we had quite the list of non-negotiables when it came to personality and temperament. And I even added size requirements, knowing the honest truth that if Bryson had weighed 9 pounds rather than 90, we probably would have had a lot more options available.

After a failed “sleepover” and other meet and greet’s through a beagle rescue, our original go-to breed was out. Turns out beagles aren’t huge fans of my husband’s innate desire to pick up, dance with, wrestle with and otherwise smother his canine pals. They’d rather spend nine hours alone in the yard sniffing circles around the fence. Pass.

As usual, I started getting antsy and impatient. On a whim one afternoon, I looked up several shelters on my phone in a random parking lot. I perused the dogs listed and had my eye on a puggle that seemed promising a half hour away. When I arrived at Animal Services, the receptionist told me to head on back to the small dog room to see the puggle. I walked in and immediately to my left was a scraggly, wire-haired, doe-eyed cutie just sitting calmly and looking up at me. Every other dog in the room was yapping its head off (welcome to small doghood), but this little one just sat and stared.

I tried not to listen to those heart strings tugging away. After all, this was supposed to be a completely rational, thought-out decision not at all based on looks. But as soon as I glanced at that fugly puggle down the row, I went right back to the tan sweetheart at the front of the line. And I asked to play with her. And then I begged Clayton to go back to look at her that night. And then we talked about it for two weeks during which I had four more play dates with her. And then we found out she was only 6 months old and a terrier mix (NO PUPPIES, we had sworn, and NO TERRIERS WITH THE BABY, I had proclaimed).

To make this long story less long, I think we all know the conclusion. I’d like you to meet Maya Noa.

shelter collage

furniture collage


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maya collage

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She has the sweetest disposition and, with the exception of some shoes sacrificed to her puppy energy, the last few months with her have gone extremely well. Even though we still have a Bryson-shaped hole in our hearts, Maya’s wagging tail and affectionate nature have definitely helped us heal a bit. We are so excited about the many adventures waiting for Maya and our family of four.


Whew. I am beat from almost full timing it this week with work. It’s my last week before officially going on maternity leave, which, for a freelancer, basically means being unemployed for 1-2 months. No FMLA for this one-woman operation, unfortch. If only the government knew just how important catching those comma splices is.

Between that and finishing the nursery and making a 63 item honey-do list for Clayton, there hasn’t been much time to just sit and process how my life is about to be upended. In a fabulous way, of course, but upended nonetheless.

I like babies. I tend to get along with them just fine. When my best friend had her little nugget six months ago, I completely fell in love and taking care of him felt strangely natural. That was incredibly reassuring.

What has been weighing on my mind lately is what happens when I don’t have a baby anymore. Not like, surrogate-style giving up my kid, but when that little bundle of unintelligible coos and wiggles becomes a child solely dependent on her parents for her wellbeing. I am pretty certain there is no more important or more overwhelming prospect I will face in this life.

I am a mother.

I’m not sure I even know how to define that for myself, much less jump into embodying that role for an actual human being any second. And the icing? It’s a girl. I have so many doubts and fears about my ability to relate to and raise a fully contributing female member of society.

What if she wants to be called a princess for 3 years straight and wear nothing but tiaras and tutus?

What if she has absolutely no interest in athletics?

What if reading bores her?

What if I can’t even bribe her into a healthy interest in dinosaurs?

What if being outside is icky?

What if our personalities are utterly incompatible throughout her formative years?

The craziest part is that worrying about such struggles with my baby girl is tragically sad to me because

I already love her so much.

Beyond ensuring her health and safety, I am desperate to simply know her. To understand her. To create a world in which she can be exactly who she is, tiaras and all. To facilitate a relationship with each other that we both cling to in every season of life. 

And maybe that is enough. Maybe that is all this little girl needs from me, her Mama, to become the absolute best version of herself.

Actually, that sounds like a pretty perfect definition of a mother to me.

baby legs


Gratuitous pictures of my abdomen

It’s hard to walk a baby outta your uterus with tropical storms rolling through every day at 3 p.m.

In the meantime, here are a few of my favorite shots from that one time I conned my bff to take pictures of me. For free. For like three hours. While our husbands watched golf and took care of a 5 month old.

These make it look like sitting Indian-style on an unsteady ottoman was an easy feat. I assure you, at 37 weeks, it was not. I have several pulled muscles in areas that I am too embarrassed to mention to my doctor. Perhaps that is why the pros recommend taking maternity pictures at seven months. Not nine months and counting. Woopsies. They really should cover rules like that on my leading resource for trusted medical information, “16 and pregnant.”

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The bump in all its glory. And chubby sausage fingers at no extra cost.

This week will be spent forgetting that the doctor said I was not dilated at all and remembering her recommendation to walk. Without a transcript to check, you’ll just have to take my word for it that she said to walk and not stop until I look down and see a baby. It’s my one shot to get this show going, and I intend to follow directions.

Any day now, folks. But first, someone with a Ph. D. and Nobel Prize come install our car seat.

Some whining for good measure: 31 weeks

I want a beer. And a glass of wine. Maybe half a pitcher of sangria.

And then I want to bend over and put on my shoes without gasping for air and needing a nap afterwards.

You may have guessed that pregnancy has become a tad uncomfortable. Nothing major, thankfully. I do realize how incredibly blessed I am to have had such a healthy seven months.

But still.

Sleeping is nearly impossible unless it’s the middle of the day and I’ve fallen into just the right arrangement in between the couch cushions that relieves the pressure on my back. I have a new little friend that greets me at night. We call him GERD, and he slides up and down my esophagus with an acidic ferocity, laughing and laughing at how I can’t recline beyond 90 degrees without choking on his fiery venom. We’re good buds, he and I.

Everything is completely manageable, but the thought of what could be waiting for me in the next 9 weeks is a little intimidating. I feel like I’ve been pregnant for a couple of years now, yet still have two whole months left. Poor, poor prego me.

On the happy side of the bump, we picked a name: Addison Brooke. Tell me you love it. Or don’t. We’ve gotten both reactions.

Addison is a mover and a shaker. She flips and flops throughout the day, and she seems to be getting stronger and stronger. Giving us a little glimpse into her teenage years, she doesn’t cooperate with us when I try to let Clayton or anyone else feel her kicking around in there. Stubborn little lady. (I kind of love that about her.)

All of my appointments have gone really well, indicating a totally healthy peanut. We decided not to get a 4D ultrasound just in case the pictures weren’t all that flattering. And then I’d have 12 weeks to worry about having an ugly, smushy faced baby. You know, a really legitimate cause for concern. That means we don’t have any more photo shoots scheduled, if everything continues to go well. The suspense of not having any idea what she looks like is so fun. I was hit with a rush of expectation this week, and it was the first time I felt that maternal anticipation to meet her. It was entirely overwhelming and I thought I physically would not be able to wait 9 more weeks. It was pretty awesome. 

Also, I will cut you for donuts.

21-25 weeks collage

Peace through sadness

Dear Addison,

Before I even meet you out in the world, I wanted to tell you a story. It makes me sad that you’ll never get to meet the goofy guy that first taught your Dad and me what it means to be responsible for another life. His name was Bryson, and we adopted him when he was a baby, just like you. He was only about eight pounds then, but it didn’t take him very long to grow bigger. And bigger. And then a little bigger. He became a tall, lanky puppy that developed into a tall, lanky dog.

Your dad and I had so many adventures with Bryson. He was around for almost all of the important milestones throughout the beginning of our marriage, before we even thought about bringing you into our family. He moved with us about a dozen times, across town and then all the way to Virginia and back, plus lots of weekend trips in between when we’d let him sleep all by himself on the extra bed in the hotel rooms. He could really fill out a queen size bed.

Bryson was so sweet and loving most of the time. Whenever your Dad would leave for work in the morning, the door hadn’t even closed before Bryson would jump up on the bed with me and sleep until I woke up. So many times I rolled over in a panic thinking that Dad had slept in, but it was just Bryson snoring away. He loved to play fetch with his rope or tennis ball. And he didn’t really love swimming in the pool (like I hope you will), but he still managed to fall in a few times. Your Dad and I couldn’t help but laugh at him when he would do silly things like that. He loved meeting other dogs and playing for hours when he got the chance. I hope that you make friends just as easily; you’ll have to get that from your Dad.

I hate to tell you this part, but I have to. For a year or so before we found out about you, Bryson was not always nice to everyone. He didn’t like strangers. Now, I don’t really like strangers all that much, either, but it’s important that dogs are nice to strangers even if they don’t want them around. Bryson never learned how to tolerate or ignore those strangers, and he was mean to them. Sometimes he even thought our friends were strangers, and was mean to them, too. Your Dad and I didn’t like having a dog that was mean to other people. We wanted so badly for Bryson to show everyone how good he could be. We tried a bunch of things to help him understand that people, even strangers, aren’t dangerous. But none of it worked.

When we found out about you, baby girl, everything changed. Even though we loved Bryson so, so much, we loved you more. A lot more. We loved you with our whole hearts and then some. And because of that love, we wanted to protect you from anything that could hurt you or scare you. We didn’t know how Bryson would feel about you, or how he would feel about other people (a lot of strangers) coming to meet you. And of course we were going to have to show you off to everyone! So we had to make a decision about Bryson. And it was the hardest thing we’ve ever had to do.

It wasn’t hard to know that you came first, sweet Addison. That was never the question. The hard part was saying our good-byes to Bryson. We were so used to having him in our lives and our home, wherever that was, for so many years. We watched him grow and mature, find his own personality and discover the world, just like we’ll do with you.

I wanted you to know about Bryson because he taught us lots of lessons that will help us when we finally bring you home with us. He taught us that we can be stern without screaming. He taught us that pulling harder against the leash will just make some people want the squirrel even more. He taught me about 2 a.m. potty breaks, and that I can sort of function with them in my regular routine. He taught us not to be afraid of poop. He taught us that even though some things might be scary to us, sometimes we have to sit back and trust that you’ll know what to do without us.

And the most important lesson was learning how to truly be parents, about what it means to sacrifice something that you might love to pieces for the sake of the life you’ve been entrusted with. This was the very beginning of a life that wasn’t about me and your Dad anymore. We know that we did the right thing by letting Bryson go, even though it was the toughest choice we could have made. But please know–and always remember–we don’t feel guilty about doing what’s best for you. We hope to do that every single day for the rest of our lives.

From My Whole Heart,

profile park

A (Pre) Baby Story: Onesies Galore


When I arrived in Florida last Monday night, I knew immediately the original plan of waiting almost two weeks to spill the coffee bean to my parents and brother was not going to happen. In the span of 14 hours, I had to turn down a second cup of coffee and finagle a vague text response to a proposed wine drinking/football watching party. People know me. My brother’s signature Alvarez raised eyebrow at my “no thanks” to coffee was proof positive the news was coming out soon.

I hated that Clayton wasn’t going to be there, but I was more worried about people finding out while randomly eating dinner or grocery shopping, with no fanfare. One more pass on booze or caffeine, and someone was going to call me out right then and there. Thankfully, we have iphones. And they are magic.

On Wednesday night, with Clayton tucked secretly away on FaceTime under a stack onesies, the plan was in motion. I’d been carrying my phone out into the kitchen, then u-turning back to the bedroom over and over again for about 10 minutes, waiting for my mom to wake up. Finally, I turned the corner to the kitchen, and she was standing there. I rushed back to the room to grab the necessary onesies and debated this whole idea. Not just telling them, but being pregnant. It suddenly seemed RIDICULOUS that I could be having a baby.

Obviously, the wrong time for that whole conversation. I swallowed that terror down in a lump and headed with my stack of onesies into the kitchen. I breezed by my parents, mom still trying to wake up and dad busily preparing dinner, to fetch my brother from the patio. He was seriously getting into a cigar and studying, so I was just hoping he’d play nice.

“Tony, come see what I made for Leah’s shower.”

“Now?” Pointing with this eyes to the fat cigar, propped up legs and school book. “Can’t I see them later?”

“No. I want to show you while I show mom and dad.”

And Tony, not known for his interest in party planning or iron-on fabric décor, came inside to humor me.

So I began displaying the onesies I’d made for my best friend’s shower, one by one. Sure, they were adorable, but the boys were definitely counting the seconds until this little show and tell was over.

As I got to the bottom of the pile, the second to last onesie had “01” on the front, like a tiny jersey.

“Wait,” I said. “This isn’t for Leah’s baby.” And I turned it over and “Noa” was on the back. Tony smiled. And my mom stared blankly at me like I’d just offered her a helping of green beans.

I tried to hold the onesie more determinedly in her direction. Nothing. Glass eyes.

My brother said something, and I think that helped clue her in.

“What are you telling me?” She asked, not thinking this game was very funny.

“It’s for MY baby!”

And then she understood. And there were smiles to spare. And the future Uncle Tony got his own little surprise that was hopefully worth the cigar he never did finish. 

Clayton was there in spirit and in iphone.

And I could finally stop making excuses for why that merlot was not appealing and beg someone to make me a flippin’ cup of decaf.




A (Pre) Baby Story, Part 1


On Monday of this week, which was September 12, I had an appointment at the lady doctor. I don’t know if the fact that I still can’t say “gynecologist” without blushing means that perhaps I’m not quite ready for this next undertaking, but I’m not going to dwell on that. We all know I’m a 12-year old boy at heart, so no shock there.

In addition to the usual humiliating, awkward necessities of that annual appointment, I felt like I had carried a physical object into that exam room that I needed to pass off to the doctor. After the business end of the exam was finished and she was scribbling something about my awesome ladyjunk into my file, I told her,

“And we are going to try and have a baby soon.”

This was the first time I’d told anyone except my husband, out loud, this plan. I don’t know what I expected; I suppose the fact that I didn’t have to lend her my inhaler to steady her breathing means that it was a more favorable reaction than Clayton’s. Maybe I was hoping it was like being in a bridal shop when you bring all your girlfriends and decide on the dress. There’s champagne and toasting and hugging…and high-fiving, if you’re me. But the doctor barely looked up from her notes. I guess my hoo-ha really is pretty awesome. Or she was still gnawing on the fact that I was a Florida State grad and she graduated from the University of Florida.

Or maybe the world itself actually doesn’t stop rotating when you embrace the next phase of life, no matter how momentous it seems to your tiny family of two. Even without a congratulatory party or balloons popping out from under the stirrups in that exam room, this is a very, very big step. One that still seems daunting, and maybe even impossible, and a little banananuts. Later that day, I quite literally stopped in my tracks on a run simply imagining the possibility of Clayton and I being parents in less than a year. 

I’m still wavering, and I know my husband is, too. When we roll out of bed at 10:30 on Saturday morning, when we stay up until midnight watching football and when we decide on Thursday to take a trip that weekend, we know in our heads this is a lifestyle that will slip away, replaced with an infinite amount of stress, crashing before the evening news and middle-of-the-night screaming. And we are big fans of our current carefree life. So, we certainly aren’t rushing. We just aren’t preventing. And that haughty ubermom Mother Nature will conspire with a bigger-than-our-plans God to decide when it’s the right time for Baby Noa to join our family.

But can I level with you? I just discovered the magic that is Sam Adams’ Octoberfest mixed with college football. I really hope this nugget waits until after bowl season. 


Spoiler Alert: It didn’t.