Friday, June 10, 2011

home is where the heart is

Yesterday our landlords announced that they are selling 251. I was surprised at how devastating this news was to me.

As i lay here in bed beside my sleeping baby, listening to the wind and rain own the night outside the open window, i'm not contemplating the meaning of home. I believe in the old adage that home is where the heart is. It's wherever you are when you're surrounded by the people or things you love. It can be several places at one time, or one very specific place on a number of different occasions. But home, i've decided, is really more of a feeling than a place.

Warmth. Laughter. Memories. Hardships. Support. Love.

Alright, maybe i am contemplating the meaning of home. But yesterday, i wasn't. Yesterday i knew that, no matter how frustrated i sometimes get with our little postage stamp of a living space, right here and now, this is home. And i'm not ready to leave.

This is our first home together. It's where we had all our first arguments. It's where we went from engaged to married. It's where we made our first friends and neighbors as a couple. It's where we transitioned from sleeping on a mattress on the floor to a real bed. It's where we made meals together and chose paint colors and tracked beach sand that will be stuck between the creaky wooden floorboards forever. It's where we've put up two real Christmas trees and broke in through a window three times after locking ourselves out. It's where i labored all night long and where we brought our first child home.

All of these things make my heart ache when i consider the possibility that we might have to leave with summer. It makes any complaints that i've had in the past about this place seem so petty.

Where i once saw problems, i now see potential.

I hope. I wish. I pray...that we can stay.
Thursday, June 9, 2011

first tooth

Well, the title pretty much sums it up. Abby got her first tooth!

I'm not sure when exactly i realized this. People have been telling me for months that she's teething (seriously, i swear - starting from birth if your child drools even once, everyone that notices is going to proclaim that he or she is teething. After a while i stopped debating this and just did the whole Smile At The Woman Who Thinks She Knows Everything Including My Child Better Than Me thing. You'll fare well to do the same, when it's your turn.).

So now i can say it: No, Abigail wasn't teething.

But she is now.

Thankfully, the tooth doesn't seem to be bothering her too much - yet. I had been running my finger over her gums for days, thinking it might be That Time. My instincts were right. I finally felt it while allowing her to gnaw on my knuckle one day - ouch! My, those are some sharp gums! And, oh...that's a tooth.

We often find her sliding her tongue over the tooth, and she's been getting slightly whinier when she's tired. It's so sad. As a parent, your heart breaks when you know your child is in pain (kind of like the two times i've had to watch her endure a round of shots at the doctor's office - worst part of being a mom so far). Because there's simply nothing you can do about it, at least at this stage of their lives. You can comfort them, and that's great, but they can't yet understand that pain is only temporary. And that's something you just have to wait for them to realize when they're older.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Everyone should have a babymoon, i've decided. Typically, a babymoon is a vacation you take with your significant other a short time before your baby is born, before your lives are changed forever and nothing will ever be just about the two of you again. It sounds wonderful, but we never did it. Instead, we took our babymoon four months after Abby was born - on the anniversary of our first year of marriage.

I'm not really sure why the term "babymoon" is used for a trip taken before birth, since honeymoons are taken after marriage. After marriage, but before you start getting on each other's nerves (ha ha). You're still in love. You might have been dating for a while, but things are still new and exciting and you still genuinely want to be together 100% of the time. Shouldn't babymoons, then, be the same? We took ours now - after birth, but before, say, the terrible twos? - after we'd finally established somewhat of a routine, while things are a little easier but still new and exciting and we still want to be with our baby 100% of the time (yes, she still sleeps in our bed!). Our babymoon wasn't a final rushed attempt to savor our independence as a childless couple, but a weekend away with our child that would allow us to fully focus on, and appreciate, the three of us as a family.

No work, no phone calls, no worries. Just Mommy, Daddy, and Baby.

On Saturday morning, we threw everything into the car and drove to Maine. It was overcast, cool, and sometimes rainy, but it was just what we needed. We went there to get away from here, and we savored every minute of it.

Before we even checked into our hotel, we had lunch at the Maine Diner. This was the first time we had brought Abby into a restaurant, ever! In fact, it was the first time we'd been to a restaurant in ages. Jeremy and i always feel that we eat so well at home, and we do, and we love cooking together. But this weekend was a treat. We had lobster pie, and although Abby is too young to eat solid food, she did hold a spoon for the first time. It went straight to her mouth, as everything does these days, and she was an absolute doll during the meal. Waitresses stopped to smile at her and comment on her cuteness. As an elderly couple was leaving, the husband stopped to make faces at her and attempted to make her laugh. That's what we love about people in Maine - they are so friendly! And they are always so genuinely happy for you and your family.

After lunch, we checked into our hotel and put on another layer of clothing so we could go to Ogunquit Beach. It was foggy and nearly deserted, but those who were there were holding hands as they strolled the sand, or flying kites with their kids. It was a dream come true. Although Abby slept in her stroller, it was her first time on a beach at all, and it felt so special. Jeremy even wet his head in the water and took off his sandals! He is a true beach boy.

(the rest to come soon...sorry!)
Sunday, May 8, 2011

my first mama's day

I still remember one of the first things i said quietly to Abby when she was born: "Hi, Baby...i'm your mommy!"

In the weeks after, i said it numerous times gazing down at the most beautiful, amazing little human being i'd ever seen, realizing she was mine. And, perhaps even more stunning, that i was hers.

Even now, three months later, it still amazes me that i'm a mother. It feels so natural, and yet i'm still the same Audrey that i was before Abby was even conceived. Maybe better - no, for sure better - but deep down at the core, the same. And i would jump to the conclusion that i was never a mother before, but even that isn't entirely true. Because i've been dreaming of it all my life. I've worked side by side with the most troubled young people, and that gave me an outlet to care. I yearned for my true love and found him, and i finally got to be the wife that i always wanted to be. And now, i'm a mother in its purest form.


I woke up this morning with my husband and our baby lying in bed between us, warm, cozy, secure. A room filled with love. Fat baby legs on soft sheets. We have to kiss her. It was probably the happiest morning i've had since the morning after Abby was born. She's mine, and i'm hers. This is our family.

Our Sweet Pea is starting to sprout!:

We visited Jeremy's parents, who were going out for lobsters (thank God we only have 6 days left until Maine), and then headed to my parents' house to meet up with my brother Tim and Grammy. Tim, Jeremy and i were having a clam boil for my mom. Tim brought the wine and bread and chorico, and we brought the corn, onions, potatoes and 18 pounds of clams. Yes, that's right - 18lbs! The employees at Kyler's Catch tried convincing us the day before that 12 lbs would do, but we didn't listen. And good thing we didn't, for there was nary a clam left at the end of the day!

All in all, it was a perfect little celebration of family and food, and giving one another what mothers most often need...Help!
Monday, May 2, 2011

happy may day

I would like to begin this post by admitting that i never knew what a May Day was until i watched the BBC miniseries Cranford this winter with Jeremy. Still waiting for Abby to be born, my mind was a blank canvas for gathering ideas about how i would raise her and what sort of special traditions we'd start together.

When i saw all the members of Cranford, England dressed in their Sunday best sharing handmade goods and homemade delectables in a beautiful garden, i thought: that is adorable. And i immediately told Jeremy that i wanted to implement the tradition of a May Day in our family, starting with our little girl.

The origins of May Day go way back to pre-Christian times, and has over the years come to mean many different things to many different countries. In the United States, May Day was a day to deliver "May Baskets," small baskets filled with flowers and treats that one would leave on the doorstep of another and run away before they were seen, or else risk being caught and kissed by that person. Now, depending on where you live in the world, there are May Day parades, dances, bonfires and feasts. There is simply no end to the possible ways you can partake in this wonderful holiday.

As Abby is still too young to really understand the changing of seasons and how to celebrate them, there wasn't much i could do to make the day much different than any other. But it was a nice day - slightly cool, but sunny - and i was determined to begin this tradition right away. So i put on her sun hat and took her out onto the porch with me, where we used an empty organic milk carton to design a little bird house, and an empty organic egg carton to plant Sweet Pea (for my Sweet Pea, whose head still has plenty of growing to fit into that adorable sun hat).

In the future, i'd like to incorporate the May Baskets somehow. And maybe some jelly-canning. And maybe an all-out springtime festival. Though in order to accomplish all these things, we may have to have several May Days - and that's okay, right?

I have no idea if the Sweet Pea will grow (we are starting them indoors), and the bird house will take me some time (hard to focus on gluing a hundred little twigs to a milk carton with a baby), but it's a start. Our first little May Day together.

Monday, April 11, 2011

fog magic

Today Abby and i had one of those walks that words can't describe and pictures would fail to capture. It is a time that i want to lock away in the deepest part of my heart and save for a day when i want to look fondly upon all the warm, gentle memories i have with my daughter.

The sky was perfectly overcast, cool and permeated with humidity. The ocean was calm and only allowed its waves to lick at the shore with the strength a lazy dog lapping water on a hot summer day. A heavy mist sank its claws into the air and fought the threat of rain as a thick, seductive fog worthy of any pirate ship seemed to swallow the earth. I could barely see several yards out to sea, and the rest faded away into a cloud of nothing.

We got on the Shining Sea Bikeway at Trunk River and took the path to Woods Hole. I listened to Bon Iver and my mind seemed to clear instantly. Sometimes i walked, sometimes i jogged. Alone with my sleeping baby, surrounded by such beauty, i felt so alive. My mind was free, my body rejuvenating. My heart swelling with love for life and my family and everything that empassioned me.

I wish for us all more days like these, where we cherish the time that we are given by embracing God's love for us in the beauty of His creation and the precious gift of each of those that we hold dear. It is so easy to get caught up in the mundane, the hectic, the worry. But if we just step back for one moment to breathe and look around, we will find that the wondrous are everywhere, just waiting to be savored like a little fog magic.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011

bedtime blues

Last night Abby fell asleep in her crib around 7:00. This is probably because we spent the day with my mom and ended up running a few errands, which tends to tire her out. So Jeremy and i watched a movie together, expecting her to wake up after a while.

She didn't.

She slept through the entire movie, and then as i washed the dishes from dinner, and then as we both got ready for bed.

"What should we do?" I asked Jeremy, crawling under the covers. "We should leave her there, right?"

"I don't know," he replied. "Want me to go get her?"

"No, we should leave her."

The minutes ticked away as we read our books, every now and then glancing at each other in awe. We couldn't believe Abby hadn't woken up yet. We also saw the empty space between us where she usually slept, and felt a little sad.

Finally, right before turning the lights out, we looked at each other and said, "Wanna go get her?"

And for another night, Abby slept in bed with us. We'll never know if she would have spent the whole night (or at least a good part of it) on her own in her crib. We are simply not ready to give her up!
Monday, March 7, 2011

...and baby makes three

It is now nearly two months from the day my daughter was born. Part of me feels bad that i've waited this long to write about it, but most of me still wants to put it off. Mainly, i think, because there are simply no words to truly, adequately describe such an experience. But even now, certain details (not the important ones, thankfully) remain a little hazy, and i want there always to be a record of what took place so that Abigail will know under what amazing circumstances she was born, and how very much we loved her.

On Tuesday, January 18 2011, at 2:00pm, we walked into the maternity center at Tobey Hospital for a scheduled non-stress test - the third one since Abby's due date passed! She was now 12 days late, and i was still showing no signs of imminent labor. Jeremy had driven over every pothole in Buzzards Bay on the way down in one final attempt to speed things along, but as was evident during the test, Abby simply was not ready.

A very nice nurse helped me get comfortable on the bed, and then began strapping the belts to my bourgoining belly that would monitor all fetal and uterine activity for the next 20-30 minutes. I recalled our first non-stress test, which Abby slept entirely through, and the second, where she moved whenever i poked her or coughed or Jeremy spoke to her, but then went right back to sleep. This final test went much the same way. Our nurse was very friendly and encouraging, telling us all about her own labor experiences, which were all with Louise as well. She told us that both of her children were very late, and that one only came after she scheduled an induction. We asked if Louise would want to see us at her office after the test, and to our surprise she said that Louise was actually in the maternity ward and that she would ask her about seeing us when we were done. This was very good news for me, as talking to Louise always made me feel excited and hopeful.

When Louise entered the room, my chest fluttered - there was my midwife, standing in my hospital room, with me on the bed. The feeling of being pregnant and about to deliver suddenly rose to an entirely new level.

"Nothing yet?" She joked, then asked how i was feeling with a grin that said she already knew. Then, "Would you like me to check your cervix?"

I emphatically said Yes PLEASE! This was the moment that i had been waiting for. Now 12 days past my due date, i felt sure that Louise would tell me i was at least a few centimeters dilated.

Wouldn't you know, my cervix was completely closed. Not only that, but Abby had somehow wriggled her way back out of the pelvic cavity and wasn't even in position to be born! Good GRIEF, baby Brown!

We were stunned. How could this be?? Louise, as usual, just smiled and said it was normal. But just before i felt my heart completely drop, she provided a light at the end of the tunnel.

"Well, you'll be 42 weeks tomorrow. If you want, we can go ahead and schedule an induction..."


"Does Thursday sound good? We could wait til Friday, but then she might not be born until Saturday."

We said Thursday was good. The sooner the better! That meant we only had to wait one more day to meet our daughter.

Jeremy and i were elated, and drove home with grins that could probably have been seen from space. This is when i started to feel a little...weird. I'm not sure how else to describe it except to say that it resembled nausea. I told Jeremy, but we decided it was likely due to feeling anxious in anticipation of the biggest event of our lives.

About an hour or so after returning home, i started having contractions - real ones, although i didn't know for sure at the time. They were very much like the braxton hicks contractions i'd been having on and off for the last couple weeks, but kind of painful and definitely uncomfortable. In fact, i assumed that's exactly what they were and tried to eat dinner while waiting for them to dissipate.

They did not. They got stronger and more painful, and very quickly seemed to start happening closer together. I tried my best to wait it out - even made cookies - but the cookies made me nauseous and everything just felt wrong.

At 7:00, we called Louise. I told her i was having pretty intense contractions, to which she replied that they were "probably not intense," and that i should erase that word from my vocabulary. This is the only time in our history with her that i remember feeling irritated. Who was she to tell me how i was feeling? Granted, she was a midwife, and i trusted that she knew what she was talking about. But good God, if these contractions weren't intense, then what on earth was true labor like? Then she told me exactly what she said she'd tell me a long time ago when this moment came: Eat a good meal (done), take a bath (um, okay...) and go to bed (yeah, right!). "Try to pretend they're not even there."

I hung up with a sinking heart, now distraught as well as in pain. There was no way i was going to sleep through all this (and, in fact, i did not). I did, however, take a bath. Baths had done me a lot of good in the last couple weeks of pregnancy, so i had a little faith that maybe one would help me now. Oh, if only that were true.

Time began to drag. I was sweating; we cracked a window. I lay on the couch (with a towel underneath me, as i'd been doing for the last week out of fear that my water would break). Jeremy lay on the other couch, and i tried to just sit there and watch basketball with him to take my mind off the pain. I began to moan each time a contraction came, changing positions to see if that would help; it didn't. Another hour passed. Jeremy came and sat next to me, holding my hand and rubbing my back. He asked if there was anything he could do to help, but unfortunately there wasn't. I started feeling ultra-focused, thinking of everything and nothing at the same time, zeroing in on the pain and then trying to ignore it. I attempted another bath, but got out quickly.

I can't remember when exactly this happened, but eventually i started pushing. Jeremy had been suggesting we call Louise for a couple hours, but i refused. She would just tell me to try to sleep it off, and i wasn't about to feel like a big baby calling her all night long. Obviously, i should have called her, especially when i started pushing. I don't even know what compelled me to endure this kind of torture at home, and for weeks afterward i felt so heavy with guilt for not having realized i was in active labor and ready to deliver my child. But we'll get back to that...

Now i can remember that the reason i thought i was pushing was to combat the pain of my contractions (either that or i was constipated, because i did feel the need to go, but sat on the toilet a hundred times with no results). Every time one would come, i would push several times with all my strength, and the pain would disappear. The contraction would end, and for a few seconds i could breathe and let my body cool down. Another contraction would come, i would push, the pain went away, the contraction would end, and so on. I was in tears at this point, but i cried silently. This is how i was dealing with the situation at hand, and i thought i was doing a pretty good job.

But even i had my limits. In the early morning hours, i started to suggest that maybe we should in fact give Louise a call. The pain was unbearable, and i really did think there was something wrong with the fact that i was pushing. It may have made my pain temporarily manageable, but i kept thinking about the baby and how me holding my breath and pushing hard was affecting her. Then i started having what i thought was incontinence when i pushed (thank God for that towel!), and leaking clear liquids is one thing, but the blood had me a little scared.

I'm not sure how i made it to the bedroom floor, but i remember crouching there on all fours as Jeremy received a call back from Louise. The pain was so severe that i couldn't stand up. My face was hot and wet from crying. Jeremy kept saying she wanted to talk to me, but it was all i could do just to speak coherently to him, nevermind Louise. Not only that, but in order to get phone reception in our apartment you have to be standing by the nursery window, and i was in the bedroom. I begged Jeremy to tell her i couldn't get to the phone, that i couldn't move, that i wouldn't even be able to talk without moaning like a dog. Louise somehow convinced him to hand me the phone anyway, but by the time i managed to utter something about pushing, our connection was broken.

The decision was made to just head to the hospital. I told Jeremy to turn on the shower - i felt like a PIG, and hadn't left the house without showering in probably 10 years - and he hurried outside to try getting back in touch with Louise. It took forever, and every ounce of strength i had left, to crawl to the bathroom and drag my body into the tub. The water raining down on me felt so good, but i could hardly enjoy it as i sat there on my hands and knees shaking, water dripping from my hair to the floor, struggling just to get enough breaths in between contractions. More blood. Jeremy returned to say that Louise thought i was "having trouble coping" and that he should bring me into the office.

I'm sure i don't need to tell you how that made me feel. I was completely immobile, freezing, bleeding, and dripping, my head resting on my hands at the back of the clawfoot tub, now crying some more. I felt like an animal. All my body wanted to do was rest, but i wanted to claw at everything and pull at my hair. I was exhausted. Jeremy kept asking if i was ready to come out, but i kept saying no. I knew i had to, but my body literally couldn't move. I felt panicked; how was i going to get dressed and get into the car?

Even after Jeremy turned off the shower, i remained on hands and knees, waiting for just a few seconds where i felt capable of getting up. It didn't happen. With Jeremy's help, i somehow miraculously wound up back in my bedroom (i don't remember drying off at all, and i don't remember how we got there). As he ran back outside to start the car and make sure we had everything we needed, i moved at a snail's pace with every ounce of willpower to pull on some clothes, my head still dripping wet and looking like a rat's nest. No makeup, no nothing. I was shivering badly, and didn't care in the least what i looked like (although i absolutely forced myself to brush my teeth).

All of this took a couple of hours, and even getting into the car was an ordeal. The contractions were right on top of one another, and i remember not being able to sit directly on my butt during the entire ride, still pushing and trying to breathe.

It was now about 10:50am.

Jeremy ran into the office and then came back out to help me inside and we headed straight for Louise's room. The waiting room was full of women, and i can only imagine what they were thinking when they saw my disheveled, full-term figure being ushered down the other hallway in haste.

Louise helped remove my coat and tried to help me onto the table, but i had to lean against it immediately as i was having another contraction. She rubbed my back and said i was doing a good job, and despite everything i felt a little better just being in her presence. As soon as the contraction ended, she helped me up and checked my cervix right away.

"Looks like we're going to have a baby," she said with a smile.

"Really?" My face, if possible, lit up. Even after the night i'd had, i couldn't believe it was happening.

"Yep. You're 10 centimeters dilated," Louise said.

Jeremy and i looked at each other in shock. 10 centimeters?! She meant we were going to have a baby RIGHT NOW. The world suddenly seemed incredibly small, like everything was shrinking down to this moment, to us, to our baby. It was happening now, and very quickly.

"But we have to get to the hospital," said Louise, with a discomforting amount of urgency in her voice. "The baby's heart beat is a little low."

The next few minutes were a blur, and not very pleasant, as my body still had trouble moving but everyone around me began moving at lightspeed. Even Louise, who was ALWAYS calm and serene and confident, seemed a little flustered, which kind of made me nervous. She told us to hurry, almost literally shoving us out of the room, and said she'd be right behind us. Again, we passed the waiting room full of curious onlookers. They all stared as Louise, nearly in a panic, as she simply told the receptionist that she had to get to the hospital and barely waited for acknowledgment as she flew out the door.

Thankfully, the hospital was maybe one minute up the road. Jeremy pulled up to the front door and, seeing him struggle to help me out of the car, a women standing there ran inside to get help. A man came rushing out with a wheelchair and i honestly don't even remember if it was he or Jeremy that pushed me through to the maternity center like we were in a race (although i guess we were, in a race against time!).

Louise was seconds behind us as we entered the delivery room. It was already full of nurses, racing around like chickens with their heads cut off. I could barely think. They began to help me undress, and i remember saying "Wait! Wait!" as i was having another contraction and my body froze up. "I'm sorry, we can't wait," one nurse said, and she whipped off my underwear. This is insane! was the only thought my brain managed to let escape.

Somehow, i made it to the bed. Louise sat at the end and instructed the nurses and Jeremy to lift my legs and pull my knees back (which, by the way, is a LOT harder to do while having contractions than it looks on tv). I only pushed a couple of times before hearing several people say "the baby's right there" - to which i remained in disbelief, as i did NOT feel open enough for a body to fit through. The pain was absolutely horrendous, and while i wasn't screaming, the grunts and groans coming from my mouth were anything but peaceful. To think there are women out there who managed to do this silently is beyond what i can fathom.

Louise said she was going to perform an episiotomy and asked if that was alright with me, although the scissors were already in her hand. Later, she explained that i may have only needed to push a couple more times to get the baby out, but the heartbeat was too low and she didn't want to risk waiting (and it was either cut me or have a c-section, which we didn't have time for and i wouldn't have wanted anyway). I told her it was fine, despite the fact that i was freaking out on the inside. I couldn't believe that those scissors were coming at me, and without any drugs! I remember being so incredibly thankful that i was ignorant as to how my delivery would go down, because there in the moment there was nothing i could do to change my situation and i just had to accept everything and get to the next moment.

Within seconds, Abigail Grace was born. If it were possible for a body to collapse while lying down, mine did. I think someone asked what time it was, and one of the nurses announced that it was 11:07am.

Unfortunately, they weren't able to place Abby directly on my chest as we had planned, as they first wanted to make sure her heart rate returned to normal. A male doctor had arrived and with the help of the nurses was able to assure she was breathing correctly. He came over to my bed and congratulated me, said that everything was fine, and that i had a beautiful baby girl.

Abby never cried. As soon as they placed her on my chest, i felt it swell and my eyes filled with tears. Joy. I was so proud, of myself and of this amazing little person who was in my belly just seconds ago and now bravely faced the world, deep blue eyes wide open and ready to eat. It took a few tries for her to latch on, but as soon as she did i felt overwhelmed by how connected we already were. She seemed to know without a doubt that i was her mother, and drank my milk fiercely as though she'd been doing it for years.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I am 40 weeks and 5 days pregnant.

Little Abby seems quite content living inside my full-term belly. As of this moment, i still have yet to experience a single contraction, or any signs of labor for that matter. How can this be? I knew she probably wouldn't arrive "on time," so to speak, but i wasn't prepared to not be feeling anything in the meantime!

More than that, i wasn't prepared for the roller coaster of emotions that comes along with waiting for your own baby to be born. I've been told that the weeks following delivery can be quite messy as far as emotions go, but no one told me that the weeks preceeding delivery can be similar.

I am weepy. I'm excited. I'm frustrated. I'm nervous. I'm ready. Sometimes, i'm all of these things all at once. And that makes for a very difficult wait.

She could be here at any moment of any day, and yet that moment seems so far away. Where is our little girl? I don't want to rush her, but i'm so, so anxious to see her face! I try to picture it, but i can't. Finally getting to see what she looks like is going to be the best surprise either of us will ever know. Getting to hold her, touch her, smell her, kiss her, love her. Getting to know her - our daughter, the third member of our family.

Tonight we are scheduled for a fetal non-stress test at the hospital where she will be born. After that, we will see our midwife. Seems like the perfect time to go into labor, doesn't it? But as we've realized, babies have no sense of time. They will come when they're ready, and that's all there is to it. And no amount of ice cream or dancing or bribery is going to make them change their minds.

Still...i am hopeful. :)


My name is Audrey. I'm just a twentysomething learning how to master the arts of cooking, cleaning, working and being in a relationship, same as you.In between all that, I like to collect sea glass and salvaged furniture. Occasionally, I cut and paste scraps of paper together. In the end, I am hoping that all of these things together will somehow amount to something good. This blog is a journal of my efforts to get there.


thesalvagedbride at gmail dot com