Friday, December 31, 2010

Dear Denver

Dear Denver,

It is New Year's Eve. Exactly one year ago today I found out that you existed. It was the morning of December 31st, 2009, and your daddy was in Dallas helping Uncle Flu plan his proposal to your Aunt Erin. I woke up, took a pregnancy test (well, two tests, because I couldn't believe it), and then waited all day until your dad got home so I could tell him the news. We were pretty excited... can you tell?

The next morning, I woke up and we began documenting your journey. This is our first picture of you in my belly.

You were so tiny! I read that you were probably about as big as one of these...

That's just one grain of rice! When I look at you now, it is hard to believe that just one year ago you weren't even as big as your pinky finger. Now I think I understand why people say that life is a miracle.

You are growing into such a sweet boy. Just look at you now!

You have already brought so much joy and laughter into my life. And you're not even four months old. I can't wait to see what 2011 holds for us.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Good Morning Mom!


Monday, December 20, 2010


Our little man is 3 1/2 months old right now. He (usually) sleeps through the night, he just started laughing out loud, and has also started reaching for things (a very exciting thing for mommies, probably pretty lame to most others).

Right now, life is good. I love being a mom. I mean, who could complain when you get to spend all day every day with a face like this one?

I feel like I can honestly and vulnerably admit that things haven't always been so rosy. The first few weeks of Denver's life were probably the hardest weeks of my life. I had heard of postpartum depression, but didn't know much about it. Looking back, I probably didn't officially have postpartum depression, but I think I had what people call the "baby blues," a less severe moodiness that lasts only a few weeks instead of a few months.

Keep in mind, I have always wanted to be a mom. I remember in 8th grade we all wrote what we wanted to be when we grew up. I still have that piece of paper. It says, "Caitlin Shaughnessy wants to be a housewife and a mom." I never made a very good feminist.

But I somehow missed the boat on how difficult it is to have a newborn baby. Not many people talk about what can happen to your psyche when you're extremely sleep deprived. Waking up in the middle of the night at 1:30, 3:30 and 5:30 is exhausting. My entire body ached from the birth experience and learning to breastfeed. All the images I had of parenthood included parents feeling an overwhelming love for their children. However, when Denver was about a week old, I tearfully admitted to Austin that I thought I didn't love Denver enough. He just demanded so much, I was so hormonal, and I didn't have all those ooey-gooey feelings that people seem to get for their babies.

Austin looked at me and reminded me that love isn't based in feelings. Love is a choice. Love is an action. By waking up at all hours of the night, working through the pain of early breastfeeding, sacrificing my time and energy for my son, I was loving him.

During this Christmas season, I am reflecting on God's love for his children in a new way. He loves us with a self sacrificing love. He sent his Son to earth so that we might live life to the fullest. I assume He didn't always have ooey-gooey feelings for his children. People have been rebelling against their Creator since the beginning of time. Yet he chose to love us anyway.

So to wrap up a lengthy post... I learned more about true love in Denver's first few weeks of life than I had in years. Each day that goes by, motherhood gets better. His little personality is starting to show through and we have lots of fun together. Those ooey-gooey feelings are growing daily, and the way he smiles at me melts this mommy's heart.

So this Christmas, as the band Relient K puts it, "I celebrate the day, that you were born to die, so I could one day pray for you to save my life."

proof that Denver reaches for things...
thank you Jesus for our patient dog

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Our Model Dog

Our handsome dog was in a photo shoot. What a ladies' man!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Casting Crowns

Tuesday morning, Denver had his first brush with fame. Casting Crowns is a popular Christian band that I am a big fan of. A few of the guys in the band were at a Chick-fil-A in Fort Worth helping promote a charity. So Denver and I stopped by, and the little man got his picture with Mark, the lead singer of the band!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What a Year

This time last year brought a lot of emotions. You may be thinking that this is when we found out we were having Denver. No, that wasn't until New Year's Eve. Actually, in the Fall of 2009 I found out that I had melanoma, a serious type of skin cancer. After they removed and biopsied the melanoma, they discovered that it had a number of qualities that made it particularly dangerous. The doctors had to do another surgery* to remove quite a bit more skin to make sure that they "got it all." They also needed to check nearby lymph nodes to be sure that it hadn't spread. My dermotologist informed me that my situation was potentially fatal.

How do you go home and inform your husband that you might be dying? How do make that phone call to your parents?

I found out about the severity of the melanoma right before Halloween. I had the surgery on
November 2nd, and then found out the wonderful news that the melanoma had not spread a
few days later. For about a week, though, I went through life wondering if I was dying;
wondering if this would be my last holiday season. I had always wanted a family, but I suddenly
imagined that it might be impossible.

Not only did the melanoma not spread, but just two months later we found out we were pregnant with Denver.

I felt compelled to write this post for a few different reasons. First, to give thanks and praise to God for healing me and blessing us with a son. Second, to encourage anyone who is going through a dark time in their life right now. On November 1st I thought I might be dying. By January 1st, I knew I was healthy and pregnant and my future was brighter than it had ever been.

With God, all things are possible.

*The melanoma had been on my neck, so when they removed the skin, I was unable to move my head for quite a while. It was quite a sight. For a bit of comedy in this serious blog, please see the photo below of me cooking dinner a year ago with some claw thingy (the claw is completely unecessary and unrelated to the surgery. It was just funny):

Monday, November 29, 2010


Denver is blessed to have two families that love him very very much.

His Dad's side of the family (picture taken when Denver was about two weeks old)...

And his Mom's side of the family (picture taken on Thanksgiving, Denver is about 2.5 months)...

We love you all!

Sunday, November 28, 2010


This Thanksgiving we give thanks to God for many things.

One particularly fun thing is that on Thanksgiving Day, Denver had his first snow! :)

Sunday, November 21, 2010


One of the most fun parts of pregnancy was brainstorming baby names. I would scour books and websites making sure I hadn't missed "the perfect name" for this baby. Austin found this particularly funny because he knew that it wouldn't matter what we actually named this child. There would probably be very few times that I would call the baby by his true name. Austin even went so far as to (jokingly) assert that he should be the one to name the child because I would never use it anyway.

He was right.

And here are some of the names you might hear me call my son on any given day... and please don't try to understand. I can't explain them, and you shouldn't try to either.

Sugar Bear
Big Man
Funky Winkerbean
JP Morgan
Mr. Baby Man
Mijo (pronounced mee-ho)
Bilbo Baggins

Here are some recent pictures of the Cutie Pie himself... at about two and a half months:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

35 Days

So I haven't blogged in a while because I've been stalling. I knew that it would be challenging to write this post, and I never wanted to sit down and do it. How would I put into words what the month of October was like? I'm still not quite sure what I'll say, but here's my attempt...

How do I begin to describe the last month of our lives? Austin and I feel that the last 35 days were probably the hardest days in our lives, yet in other ways, the most amazing.

From October 1st through November 4th, Austin was in Canada. That's right, for about a month I was a single mom while Austin co-directed a film in Saskatchewan. Austin has been working on this film for months, and the fact that he was able to go up and co-direct it was a huge answered prayer. It was just difficult timing, considering he had to leave before Denver was even a month old.

Never in my life have I had to rely on the Lord for my strength in such a huge way. Let's face it: babies are really cute but reeeeally hard work. Adjusting to being a new mom has been quite the transition for me...nursing, sleep deprivation, diapers, spit up, sleep deprivation, crying, sleep deprivation. You get the idea. Going through all of this without my husband for the last month was very challenging. Yet now that it's over and my husband is back with us in Texas, I am actually glad that we had this unique opportunity.

So many family and friends stepped up to help me in a time of need. I constantly had people in and out of our home... cleaning the house, bringing me meals, watching Denver while I ran errands, watching Denver while I took a nap, taking Fable on walks, and so much more. Sometimes all I needed was a friend to stop by and keep me company.

I've always loved my mom, but I now appreciate her in a whole new way. Not only because she raised me (and had many sleepless nights because of me), but because she moved in with me for a while during October to help me out. I don't think I would've survived without her.

I am generally a pretty private person. I don't usually like a lot of visitors, and I definitely am not used to asking for help. Yet I became a pro at asking for and receiving help during the last month. It was very humbling to realize how much I was dependent on others to help me get through daily life.

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to everyone who helped Austin, Denver and me throughout the last 35 days. We love you so much. You have blessed our lives.

But enough about my personal journey... allow me to brag for a moment about my husband. Did I mention he DIRECTED a feature length film?! I am so proud of him. Here are some pictures of the film set he worked on...

Monday, November 1, 2010

happy and healthy

Denver is a happy and healthy baby boy. He had his eight week check up today, and he is a growing boy. Don't believe me? Here's proof...

September 7 (his birthday):
height: 22.5 inches
weight: 8 lbs. 14 oz.

November 1 (today):
height: 24.5 inches
weight: 13 pounds 6 oz.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Autumn in Kirkwood

While I officially now claim Texas as my home, I am still a Midwest girl at heart. Here are a few pictures of why I love my hometown of Kirkwood, MO during Fall.

wearing gold for Mizzou...GO TIGERS

beautiful Fall leaves...

spending time with Aunt Colleen

spending time with Uncle Fes

pumpkins at the Farmers' Market

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Birth Story on Mommypotamus

There are very few blogs that I actually read consistently. Mommypotamus is one of them. Heather is a woman who lives in the DFW area and shares tips on how she strives to lead an all natural lifestyle with her family. She has yummy recipes for busy moms, stories about breastfeeding, pregnancy, home birth, and other things I'm interested in.

Right now she is encouraging her readers to share their birth stories, so I linked Denver's birth story to her page. Feel free to check it out, as well as other birth stories.

Monday, October 18, 2010

6 Weeks

I have been neglecting the blog. I apologize.

Denver is growing and changing so much. He's about 12 lbs. (I'll have a more accurate weight when he goes in for a check-up next week). He's also a very tall boy... some people have described him as lanky.

He is losing his hair, but only in the front, so he now has a receding hairline. I fondly refer to him as my Benjamin Button baby.

Here are the most recent pictures... enjoy!

laughing with his Great Grandma

Denver can smile!

taking a bath in the sink

action shot... spitting up on Granddad

me with my sweet boy

Sunday, October 3, 2010


As Denver gets close to being one month old, I thought I would update everyone on how our family is growing and changing...

Denver loves...
  • taking baths
  • being outside
  • staring out the window
  • going to the bathroom at the exact moment that I'm changing his diaper
  • driving in the car
  • going on walks
  • swinging in his baby swing that our friends Ryan and Brandi let us borrow. THANK YOU!!
Denver does not love...
  • getting out of the bath and drying off
  • hiccups

Mama loves...
  • when Denver stretches out his arms and legs as he's waking up
  • watching Denver cuddle with his daddy
  • going on walks around the block in this beautiful Fall weather
  • kissing Denver all over his face

Mama does not love...
  • when Denver decides to throw a party in the middle of the night and is up for hours at a time
  • when we walk away from the changing table with a clean diaper and Denver immediately fills up his new diaper

Daddy loves...
  • when Denver sneezes
  • getting excited about Denver and Fable being partners in crime someday
  • cuddling with Denver
Daddy does not love...
  • changing diapers

Friday, September 24, 2010

Denver's First Weeks

Austin has been faithful to update pictures of Denver to my facebook page. However, I realize that not everyone has facebook. I know I know, it's hard to believe. Yet my husband, my mom, and my dad all do not have facebook, so I know these people exist.

So for all of you that haven't seen many photos yet, here is our handsome little man. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Denver's Birth Story Part III

There I was, at the very end of labor. Pushing and Charley horsing. Charley horsing and pushing. Finally, after what seemed like a lifetime, Denver’s head was born. This freaks a lot of people out because we had a water birth. “Isn’t that dangerous?” and “Won’t he breathe the water into his lungs?” are two common questions that we receive. The truth is that babies get their oxygen through their umbilical cord. They live in an environment where they are surrounded by liquid for nine months. When his head entered the bathtub, it was just like he was still inside the womb. He was still receiving oxygen through the umbilical cord, and his lungs don’t take their first breath until he is taken out of the water.

After his head was born, Donnellyn looked at us and said, “Okay, during this next contraction your baby will be born.” Words cannot express the excitement I felt in that moment. Austin says that I smiled for the first time in hours. I had a little person halfway out of my body, yet I suddenly felt almost no pain. When the contraction came, I pushed with all my might, and out came our beautiful baby boy. Denver was born at 5:36p.m. Donnellyn brought him out of the water and laid him immediately on my chest. His umbilical cord was wrapped tightly around his chest, which explained his dropping heart rate earlier in labor. She quickly unwound it, and after a few seconds he took his first breath. His little purple body started looking more and more pink. I was lying in the tub; looking at Denver, then up at Austin, then back to Denver, so completely overwhelmed with emotion. Within the same few moments, I felt relief that the labor was over, nervousness about being a new mom, exhaustion because of what I had just been through, but more than anything, I felt love for my son and my husband.

God answered so many prayers on September 7, 2010. The labor and delivery were basically complication free. I was able to have a natural childbirth. The entire labor was only 8.5 hours long (many labors are over 24 hours long). My son is healthy. I am healthy.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was anxious about becoming a mom. I didn’t feel ready for our family dynamic to change. I won’t claim that I have totally overcome these fears, but God is truly changing my heart. I am encouraged by what Paul wrote to the Philippians: “One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.” (Philippians 3:13) I am excited (yet still sometimes scared) about what God has in store for us. Parenthood is what lies ahead. I expect it will be quite the adventure.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Denver's Birth Story Part II

When we arrived at the birth center, I went straight upstairs to one of the bedrooms/birth rooms. I immediately wanted to lie down on the bed and rest. I had a few contractions in bed, and then my midwife gently reminded me that if I could keep my body in an upright position for a while longer, it would make my contractions more effective and efficient. Gravity would be able to help bring the baby a little faster. So I sat on a birthing ball (basically a giant exercise ball), and labored for a while sitting on the ball. I think I was in that room for about an hour, and then moved to the bathtub. As Austin mentioned in an earlier blog post, we had a water birth.* This freaks many people out, but I can attest that it was an incredible experience.

When I first sat down in the tub, my entire body seemed to say “thank you.” My muscles were able to relax a bit and the contractions didn’t feel as terrible. Then things got real.

I felt the need to use the restroom, and the toilet was across the hall. I walked to the toilet, sat down to use the restroom, and immediately had a contraction that made me think my insides were falling out of my body. I literally fell off the toilet, onto my hands and knees and into the hallway of the birth center. I could no longer support my own weight. At this point, I thought there was a real chance that I was having my baby in the hallway. I didn’t think I was going to be able to move. However, Donnellyn was able to convince me to get back in the tub. I literally crawled on all fours back to the tub, and made it in time for the serious pushing stage of labor.

At some point during the pushing stage, Denver’s heart rate began to drop a little. The midwives decided that the best course of action would be to have me wear an oxygen mask. This pretty much did the trick. I just had to keep taking deep breaths of oxygen, and Denver’s heart rate stayed within a healthy range.

It seemed like a lifetime, but the entire pushing stage was just under an hour long. With about twenty minutes to go, one more element of pain was added to the equation. The muscles on the left side of my rear-end/hip area began to charley horse. But then a contraction would come and I had to focus all my energy on pushing. The contraction would stop, and I’d immediately freak out and writhe in pain because of the charley horse. Then came a contraction. Charley horse. Contraction. Charley horse. Contraction. For about twenty minutes. It is almost funny now, looking back on how pathetic and crazy I must have looked, but at the time, it was certainly not funny.

The best part of the story will be the last, because that is when I got to meet Denver…

*See above picture. My experience was a lot like this. Very glamorous.