Today Gavin turned one.
Well, he's almost one. They finally yanked him out of me at exactly 8:35 pm, so we're awful close.
I never got around to writing his birth story...it's like having a newborn baby is hectic or something? This seemed like the right day to talk about it so here we go :)
As a little background, I spent the few months leading up to his birth moving into my new house, learning how to handle my finances, waddling around to work and doctor visits, and vehemently disagreeing with anyone who told me I would surely be having Gavin early. I also referred to Gavin as "Boris". This was a name I picked after being inspired by the adolescent drug dealer and verified miscreant in the novel The Goldfinch. I throw this in there to let you know I was so scared of this child that I couldn't even call him by name. He was due on Christmas Eve and I was certain he'd be here after New Years.
This was purely out of self preservation, as I was positive I was in no way ready to mother. The nursery was set up, the maternity leave too, and yet I was so deep in denial I could hardly see straight. This was not how my life was supposed to look when I brought another human into the world.
It sure is handy that God prepares the called, rather than calling the prepared.
In case you didn't know, giving birth is so glamorous. I really don't know why some people act like it's difficult or anything less than utterly sublime. You feel connected to the baby immediately, you both sleep through the very first night together, and then you ride off into the sunset.
Unless you're a human woman, on earth, in which case it can be a tad different than that.
I arrived to the hospital around 5 or so in the morning when contractions were roughly 5 mins apart and I genuinely had no clue what that day would turn into. I was pretty much confused from the second I stepped into the hospital until I stepped back out of it again -- to say the process is fully explained and user-friendly to the first time customer would be a bold-faced lie.
When I finally got my hand to steady enough to sign my name for the epidural, I could breathe again. If they had asked for my right arm in exchange for the epidural I'd have gladly paid the price.
Gavin was "sunny side up" and apparently that was causing some problems. After multiple attempts at flipping him and nearly four hours of pushing, an angel of mercy finally threw out the C word and away we went to the operating room after the easiest decision of my life. I started sobbing once this was an option and the nurses kindly explained to me that C sections are okay too and that there is no shame in that. OF COURSE THERE IS NO SHAME! I was crying in relief that I could finally stop what we all knew wasn't working and get that baby out into the world where he was ready to be.
Because we'd spent so much of the day trying to get hime to come down and out, we got to begin the C section process by pushing him back up again. It was every bit as lovely as it sounds.
It was more than worth it though, the second I heard his cry.
When I got to see his tiny, angry face for the first time, my very first thought was
"He has my dad's nose!"
Imagine my delight to report that he also has his momma's eyes, except prettier.
Unfortunately the long attempt at getting him out ye old fashioned way left him a little worse for the wear and after one night next to me, it was off to the NICU for buddy. He had a subgaleal hematoma, which to my understanding is a bleed outside of the skull, and left the back of his head very soft and kind of like a sand bag. We spent three days in the NICU getting him healthy while we got acquainted, and the nurses there were so incredible to us that it felt like I got to have a little crash course in how to care for a newborn.
I will never forget when I asked if they had a pair of clippers for his tiny nails since I hadn't packed one, and it was suggested I just bite his nails myself as that's what most moms do. I informed her we had only just met and were not yet on that level so he could just wait until we got home. I mention this in case a first time momma needs to hear it's okay not to immediately bond and stick like glue. I'd never been around babies much, and though the love was there from the second I saw the positive pregnancy test, our bond took more time than that. I now "clip" his nails with my teeth without so much as a flinch.
When Tay came back to visit me, I had to meet her in the waiting room as visitors weren't allowed in the NICU because of flu season. Imagine my delight in discovering the pair of panties I'd worn in to the hospital on the morning on Dec 20th wadded up in my pant leg! Of the leggings I'd been wearing in public for more than a day! Tay had stuck them in there when I handed her my clothes after changing into my hospital gown and they apparently stayed right where she left them. Honestly it gave me the laugh I needed in the midst of a scary situation.
Once buddy was cleared and we were good to go I felt like a fugitive when they discharged us. Like are they sure I was ready to take this entirely dependent creature home??
I was, it turns out.
Having spent a year loving more fiercely than I knew was possible, my heart has expanded in every way. You really can't fully grasp what your parents did for you until you care for someone else in that same way. Parenting is the most selfless act I've yet encountered, and it also gave me a new understanding of our Heavenly Father.
Gavin doesn't scare me anymore. Life doesn't scare me anymore. I now know that if I have to cling to something, that thing (whatever it is) is not for me. The right things will always find me, and I will become prepared for them in due time.
I was told to enjoy this year, because he'll be my child forever but a baby only a year.
I completely understand the sentiment, but I'd like to expand. The same is true for all our relationships, at all times. Life isn't lasting, so each stage certainly isn't either. I think 2020 has cemented that one for us all. I spent my maternity leave trying to fit back into my work pants, which was a super good way to spend precious time when Gavin was asleep considering I've spent the entire year working from home. This was something I couldn't have predicted, just like most everything else in my life.
We have no idea how long we have with our people, and though the "firsts" are easy to track, the "lasts" won't be. I am holding space in my heart for every first of Gavin's and I am much more present with my people these days, when I am so lucky as to see them.
Gavin was born a year ago today, and I was too. What a year it's been.
...and I have NO RAGRETS, not one letter.
In my experiment with my half year of less, I decided to not shop outside of the necessities until the end of 2020. Much like Cait realized during her own experiment, it would be more aptly described as a "browsing ban" more so than a "shopping ban". I have to shop for my normal such and such, it's aimlessly browsing that then leads to unintentional spending that I'm looking to stop.
As a thrifty girl who loves to peruse the aisles of all nearby Goodwills, I knew this would be painful to stop doing. I prefer to remove temptation rather than test my willpower so I initially decided no more Goodwill visits until 2021.
I really wanted a desk.
I won't say "need" because clearly my life has been going along well enough without one all these months while working from home, but I wanted a place to station my WFH setup that I wouldn't have to keep moving around.
I had been popping into any Goodwill I passed while driving alone for a few months now and had absolutely no luck so far, but yesterday I found my new girl. The one I've been waiting for. So I pulled the $57.77 trigger and I have never been so excited to bring a piece of furniture into my home!
It should also be stated that as I contemplated buying this desk, I traipsed through the clothing aisles. I found a Madewell flannel that I absolutely knew I needed, shopping ban be damned! In my former thought process, I would've had no problem rationalizing spending another $5 on top of the nearly $60 I already was. This time, I put the flannel down and paid for the desk while beaming on the inside and hell, maybe even the outside.
I am sharing this because little victories are indeed victories, and I'm counting this as one. It's the thousand little promises we break to ourselves (that seem so insignificant) that teach us not to trust our own damn selves. I want to be a trusted individual, to myself most of all. I really believe we show up for others how we show up for ourselves.
Here she is!
Far and away the most frequently asked question I get is where to begin this whole minimalism/mindful/decluttering journey.
I have been on this kick since 2016 ish, and I have consumed a lot of material that I am so happy to share with you! It's also worth mentioning that this journey is uniquely your own. You'll forge your own path and find what works for you, and please share with me when you do! There are so many great resources out there, and here are some I've found:
I hope this is helpful for where to start your own minimalism journey. These individuals have inspired me to really make a change in how I approach the things in life. I am sure you know that people matter, things really don't, but their work has made it possible to put knowledge into action in my life and I hope it does the same for you!
Let's get down to it.
The steps laid out by Cait in the epilogue of The Year of Less are as follows (grossly oversimplified by yours truly):
I think I nailed the sixth order of business, hmmmm?
One of my favorite aphorisms of Cait's is that "personal finance is personal" and so is this experiment. I won't be opening a new savings account for this six month sabbatical from spending or taking inventory of the items I own the most of. I am midway in my decluttering journey and no longer have large accumulations of crap I don't need or use. I do however have medium accumulations of crap I don't need so I will be beginning with step 1.
I won't be perfect at this. I will falter and fail and pick right up where I left off, and I will take you along for the ride as much as I possibly can.
Tomorrow's post will be a compilation of my starting points for aspiring minimalists along with a collection of "before" pics..
Thanks for being here, this should be fun.
Last week I finished listening to the audio version of the book The Year of Less by Cait Flanders. She so eloquently sums up many thoughts and experiences I've had while stumbling through the world of minimalism. Whether or not minimalism has any relevance to your life, I can't recommend the book enough. She also covers topics that are widely relevant to humans in general and honestly calls herself out without tearing herself down. That's a tricky balance and I think she does a great job.
That brings me to my own experiment with concepts derived from The Year of Less. We're about to head into July which means the year is halfway over. I genuinely can't believe the strange turns this year has brought us all, and can't even begin to imagine where it will lead us for the second half. One thing that hasn't changed in my life is my desire to live it more intentionally.
I recently looked back through old journal entries and realized I've been praying for the same change of heart for years now. I want to put my people first and foremost, pay my full attention to what's in front of me, and surround myself with only the things that add value. I love my people well (though there's always room for improvement), but mindfulness and minimalism have not been anywhere close to "mastered". I could tell you my priorities all day long, but I was speaking about them rather than living them.
I've been on a minimalism journey since around 2016 (or have I always been on this journey, technically?). I became obsessed with The Minimalists podcast, books, YouTube channel, every work of their's I could consume. I went through decluttering and organizing sprees but quickly found myself back to my old habit of shopping to fill my time and the large hole in my heart.
It turns out old habits do in fact die hard.
Shopping has held a special place for me since I was very small. That was always THE thing to do on the weekends, after school, honestly anytime I possibly could. Herein lies a major discrepancy between how each of my parents operate in the world. My dad would buy a new $8 pair of jeans from Walmart and call it good for a decade whereas my mom could easily buy 8 pairs of jeans in a weekend. I'll let you guess whose side I emulated. I didn't understand as a child what I was doing, and I never took the time to question it. I continued these shopping habits into my post college years, though it ebbed and flowed. It's only been recently that I started investigating into why I leaned into shopping so hard and truly came to grips with the place it was holding for me.
The truth is I no longer need shopping to distract me from what hurts. I know how to sit with it now. And though I'm not perfect at it, I at the very least understand that I HAVE to sit with it.
I did the hard work of burrowing out from under the sad bomb shelter I spent years creating, and I'm ready to embrace the next chapter.
I want to invest this time so that my future journal entries don't read exactly like those of years past, wishing I behaved differently rather than actually behaving differently. The difference now is I've got two gentlemen on the scene who've already taught me so much. Rob is a natural at minimalism and inspires the hell out of me just by getting to witness how he operates in the world. Babies are minimalist by nature, and Gavin has shown me how little things matter and how much our time together does.
Tomorrow's post will outline what my "Half Year of Less" will entail in detail. I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
Behind the dainty days is a whole lot of planning. And coffee.