Wednesday, March 19, 2014

And At Last I See The Light

I've been a mom for 14 weeks today and I have recorded very few of my feelings on the matter. In some ways I feel guilty. Motherhood has been an amazing, rewarding and {for the most part} enjoyable experience and I want to remember all of these tender, precious thoughts as I experience this for the first time. I also have this new complex and fear that if {heaven forbid} something happens to me I want my children to know what a joy they were to me. I don't keep a written journal (maybe one day) so this blog is the only way for them to "get to know me." On the other hand, my lack of writing speaks to the fact that {most} of my free time is spent snuggling, singing and swooning over my babe. None the less I need to write a few things while my little is cooing away to disney songs (#startthemyoung.)

As I mentioned Eden is listening to Disney songs. We love the Disney Pandora music station. I'm almost embarrassed to admit I know most the words to every song that is played. We spend hours (literally) singing together, Eden is quite the vocalist you know. Today one of my favorite songs came on. It's called "I See The Light" from the movie Tangled. I was surprised that as I sang the words I was overcome with emotion as I listened to the lyrics and applied them to my life. Some of the lyrics go...

All those days watching from the windows
All those years outside looking in
All that time never even knowing
Just how blind I've been
Now I'm here, blinking in the starlight
Now I'm here, suddenly I see
Standing here, it's oh so clear
I'm where I'm meant to be
And at last I see the light
And it's like the fog has lifted
And at last I see the light
And it's like the sky is new
And it's warm and real and bright
And the world has somehow shifted
All at once everything looks different
Now that I see you

 Aren't those words the perfect way to describe being a new parent? I feel that for years I have been in conversations (yet somehow outside of them) involving children and parenting. While I have learned a lot from several of these conversations I still always felt like I was just watching and not a part of these conversations. I felt I had nothing of value to add as I had no real experience of my own. I was ok with all of that though. After all, I was the one who chose to wait five years before starting a family. I had my reasons and I was content to watch everyone else raise their families. While I am still glad I was able to have some of the life experience that being childless afforded me, I feel like I was blinded by my own ambitions and desires. Now I know how wonderful being a mom truly is. And maybe I'm having such a remarkable experience because I waited until I was ready for it. None the less, now I'm here and its "oh so clean, I'm where I'm meant to be." I've seen the light so to speak. 

The last few lines are my favorite though. The world totally shifts when you see your little one for the first time. Suddenly you stop living your life for yourself and life becomes solely for them. In seconds you become their everything and they become yours. Such a remarkable experience. 

I've been so blessed with Eden. She is everything I could have ever hoped for in a daughter. I often dream about how are spirits must be connected somehow. I have always felt such a strong love and connection to my mother that I'm certain our spirits were great friends before we came to earth. I can only hope that I am so deeply connected to my own daughter. I hope she is like me in some ways. I hope she is a peacemaker and unifier of our family, as I am to mine. I hope she is strong and independent, someone who can stand up for what she believes in regardless of what others think. In other ways I hope she is like Mike. I hope she is more relaxed and comedic. I hope she has a thirst to understand how things work and how she can make things better. I hope she is personable and sure of herself. But most of all I hope she is happy. I hope she knows how loved she is and how special she is to us. 

I've spent so many hours gazing into her eyes searching her spirit, trying to know and understand her. I feel like there are these fleeting moments where I can almost grasp who she is and how blessed we are that she chose us to be her parents. We are so blessed to be parents and I can hardly wait to be a mom to the other children who are waiting to come to our family. As it says in Psalms 127:3 "Children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward."


Monday, February 10, 2014

Thoughts from Dad

Some tender thoughts from Dad on the birth of his little girl - Written Dec 10th and 11th 2013.

Well the time has come. After being in the hospital this past week for a few days we are here again anticipating the birth of our baby girl Eden. Yesterday Monday December 10 I took Kristin home from the hospital as her blood pressure readings started to stabilize. We had a nice quiet evening at home drinking some hot chocolate and watching some Christmas shows as the snow started to fall outside. We watched one of my favorite Christmas shows - Home Alone lost in New York. Little did I know that would probably be one of our last nights home together ending our five plus year career as a married couple without children yet. 

This morning I got up and it was a normal day. I went to work and expected to check in on Kristin every hour to make sure that everything was alright. I got a call around four and she let me know that she needed to go to the hospital again. I sent out my last email for the day and headed home thinking this would be just a checkup for the evening and she may need to stay overnight. We arrived at the Stamford hospital and they started to check on blood pressure levels. They were high in the 160 range so at that point I knew we had to stay overnight. I went back home to grab a pillow and a blanket and some Taco Bell for dinner. When I got back to the hospital the nurse told me to tell Kristin that the doctor was on his way here. I told her and she asked "well do you know what that means?" I said not really and she said he isn't here just for a casual check up! He came on in thereafter and explained the situation to us and it was then that it finally hit me that I am going to be a tomorrow! My knees got rubbery and I wasn't hungry after hearing that because I got real nervous thinking this was real. 

I had Justin Berrett and Jason Arbuckle come to the hospital to assist me in giving Kristin a blessing and to receive a blessing myself. After that I started to feel a bit better and not so nervous. It was nice to lean on the priesthood in a time of need. We've been receiving a lot of texts and messages of support from friends and family and I have felt their strength and prayers. So now it is 12:20 am and I am not able to go to sleep! Lots of thoughts racing through my mind about the new life we are going to have. 

We had a peaceful night interrupted here and there with nurses coming in to check on Kristin. She was given a dose of magnesium and now her BP is down in the 120ish range which is much better. We have been taken care of quite well and been guided through his process by the nurses and doctors. It is now 8:30 am and the cervodil should wear down in a couple hours after which they will give Kristin a dose of potocin to start the labor and delivery process. We are both pretty nervous and excited at the same time right now at this new and unknown adventure. The baby has been doing well up to this point. She seems to be pretty active and ready to come into this world! It is pretty surreal thinking that I will have my own little baby at the end of the day after almost thirty years of being a brother, cousin and uncle so so many little ones not to mention having seen dozens and dozens of friends have children that I have been an observer of up until this point. 

I am writing this now at 8:40 pm to recount our great experience today! Kristin got put on some potocin this morning around 10am to start inducing labor. We thought it would be at noon so it was a surprise to hear that we were starting off early. I pulled up a chair next to the bed and held Kristin's hand as she started to experience contractions. I downloaded Kenneth copes album where there is a track of Edens Garden to get her in good spirits to listen to as the contractions intensified. It seemed like a long two hours as she waited to dialate from 1cm to 3cm. I was very surprised at how resilient she seemed to this point through contractions. She barely clutched in pain and didn't make much sound during the process. I barely knew what she was going through! At 3.5 cm she asked for an epideral which surprised me because I didn't know she was in pain at that point. They asked me to exit the room as they administered to her. I came back and resumed my duties as hand holder. Things started to intensify from there. She went from 3.5 cm to 5cm in about an hour. I called Karen on the road to give her updates. She was still a ways out at that point. I didn't think she was going to make it.  At around 2:00 she was dialated to an 8! That was quick. Before I knew it nurses and doctors were pouring in as we were getting close. I called Karen and she was just getting the tappan zee so there could be a chance she could make it. Kristin started pushing at 3pm and Karen finally showed up ten minutes before the birth! Baby Eden was born at 3:45 pm weighing in at 4 lbs 15 oz and 18 inches. She came out a bit quiet then started a little cry as she was laying on Kristin's stomach. She was beautiful! Long legs and feet long hands and a nice head of dark hair that showed a slight curl to it. As I watched her being cleaned off I could feel strong emotion and grateful for such a treasure from heaven. Kristin did a great job and was amazing during the push process. I was able to go up and visit Eden in the NICU and hold her. She was so peaceful and small! Today has been such a surreal and wonderful day. I am so happy to be a dad and have a daughter.

The Love/Hate of Parenthood

 I can't believe my little one is only a day away from being a two month old. The past two months seems to run together into one big blur. I feel like I've been in a constant cycle of feed, burp, swaddle, sleep, rinse, wash, repeat. Everyone talks about how slow time seems to go in the moment but then how fast it goes when you look back. Its true, and I hate it. I feel like being a parent, for me, has been a love hate relationship. Before you get offended let me explain. I hate that in the past two months my baby has doubled her weight. I hate that we've had to say goodbye to preemie diapers and newborn clothes. I hate that her tiny little wimper cry is sounding more gown up each day. I hate that with each moment that passes she needs me less and less. She needs less help supporting her head, needs less help falling asleep. But yet, at the same time I love it. I love watching her get stronger and more independent. I love day dreaming about what she will be like as she gets older. I love the flicker of recognition she gives me when I look into her eyes. I love nursing her, even though I have a low milk supply and after 20-30 min of nursing I still have to feed her a bottle. I love burping her, even though it always ends with me covered in her spit up. I love rocking her to sleep, even if its the middle of the night and I can barley keep my eyes open. I love holding her, even though it means my house is a mess, my stomach is growling and my bladder is at its limit. I love smelling her head and her baby breath, even though in the past I heard moms say that and I cringed. There is so much to love about motherhood, but then so much to hate as you realize this time goes by WAY TO FAST! It's not fair. I long for her to be a week old again and at the same time I wish she was older so we could have deep, moving conversations. Sigh... Oh well, I guess this is why some people end up with a dozen kids, they miss those newborn moments in their entirety.

I haven't been good about writing much for each day of Edens life. I do have this great book I got as a shower gift that I have been writing in a little each day. However, I have been pretty good about taking pictures of her. I don't pretend to be a photographer, although I'd love to be one day, so they aren't artsy and edited. What they are is moments in time I had to capture. That darling outfit I was dying over, the elvis impression I had to share, that peaceful face when she slept that I didn't want to ever forget. Those are the pictures that I took. Although they aren't fancy and artistic, to me they are dear and priceless. Naturally, I must share them. I'll share a few for (*almost*) every day of her life since we brought her home from the NICU.

Friday Dec 20th, 2013

Saturday Dec 21st 2013

Sunday Dec 22nd, 2013

Monday Dec 23rd, 2013

Tuesday Dec 24th, 2013

Wednesday Dec 25th, 2013

Thursday Dec 26th, 2013

Friday Dec 27th, 2013

Saturday Dec 28th, 2013

Monday Dec 29th, 2013

Tuesday Dec 30th, 2013

Wednesday Dec 31st, 2013

Friday, January 3, 2014

What's In A Name

I always wanted to give my child a name with meaning. Something that showed them that I took a lot of time and thought into giving them the name they would carry through this life. I didn't want to pick a name that was trendy or classic. I wanted it to be special, not just a name plucked from a baby name book. So Eden, this is the story of how you become Eden, not Brooklyn or Ellie or Jane.... but Eden.

When Mike and I were first married we figured we'd wait about a year or so to have kids. A year came and went and we still felt like we weren't ready. We still needed more time to get to know each other and ourselves on a deeper level. After three years the nagging from friends and family set in. The more people asked when we were going to have kids, the more it made me want to keep waiting. I had people I knew who would tell horror stories about motherhood. How hard nursing was, the sleep deprivation, the late night feedings that led to tears and feelings on inadequacy and a longing for their old life. I decided that I was in no hurry for that. I knew motherhood would come with its challenges, but when my little one was up crying at 3am I wanted to be able to tell myself that this was my choice, no one else's. I wanted to know that I had accomplished the goals I had set for myself before kids. That I had traveled, worked and pursued my education. I wanted to be at peace with saying goodbye to my childless self and fully embrace motherhood. I figured when that time came I would know. After being married four and a half years Mike started to get antsy. He was close to turning 30 and was ready for parenthood. I was close to finishing my masters and wanted to wait till that was done before starting a family. Still Mike felt like it was time, that we had put it off long enough. So I made it a matter of prayer. Trying to decide if Heavenly Father was ok if I wait a few more months. 

It was the first Sunday in March and I had been thinking a lot about having kids. I was getting ready for church and had the Kenneth Cope station playing on pandora radio. A song that I had never payed much attention to before came on, this time it caught my attention. It was called Eden's Garden. As I listened to it I was moved to tears. The song spoke of his daughter they named Eden. How she was born into a world with briars and thorns (sin and corruption,) how she made their home a beautiful place and was the sweetest joy of their life, and most importantly that they knew she didn't belong to them (that her spirit was a child of our Father in Heaven and that she was on loan to them in this life. I felt the spirit very strongly telling me that I had a special spirit that had been waiting patiently to come to our family and that it was time for her to join us. I also felt impressed that her name should be Eden and that she would make OUR home as beautiful as the garden of Eden and she would be the sweetest joy of our life. 

When Mike came in the room I pulled myself together and asked him what he thought of the name Eden for a girl. He said right away that he hated it....

Fast forward a few months and we are days away from finding out the gender of baby Jenson. Although I had prayed for a girl I had only allowed myself to think it was a boy. This way I wouldn't be disappointed. We had thought a little about names for both genders and I had finally convinced Mike that Eden was a good name. He liked that it meant paradise and that our daughter would make our home paradise. He also liked that Michael the arch angle helped Christ create the earth and the garden of Eden and his name was Michael. I was out to eat with my mom, brother and his girlfriend and we were talking about names. They asked why I liked Eden. I started to tell them about the song and my experience when I was completely overwhelmed by the spirit. It was reminding me that I had been given a sweet form of personal revelation back in March and not to forget what I felt. I knew then that I was having a girl and her name would be Eden.

We struggled picking out a middle name up until the day she left the hospital. I liked the middle name McKell because it took part of my name McK( McKnight, my maiden name) and part of Mike's name ell (michaEL.) Mike decided that was better as a first name and not a middle name. His parents had done something similar when naming his sister Kayleen and he wanted to do the same. His sisters don't have middle names so he thought she was fine without one. I had a middle name though and I thought she needed one, but I had no idea what. I still wanted it to have meaning. I always hated my middle name, Irene, so I wanted it to be something she would like. When they brought her down to me from the NICU the day after I had her I thought "Eden Irene" that sounds nice together. It was my middle name and also both my great grandmas middle names as well as my great aunt and cousins. It had meaning and it felt right, like it suited her. So now she was Eden Irene Jenson. So Eden, if you ever decide you don't like your name remember this, it was not a decision made lightly. It was inspired and thought over. It is special and beautiful. You are the sweetest joy of our life and your presence in our home has truly made it paradise. 

(written by Kenneth Cope)
—for Eden—
Born in the fall of ’92
On the evening of a crimson moon
Bringing paradise to all we knew
We named her Eden
It wasn’t long before her soul would wake
Nature blooming in her face
We cleared for her a garden place
And called it Eden
All for Eden
So we plant and tend
And watch her changing
Waiting on the Vine
Never trifling with the giving of our time
Then the Master of the harvest
Turns our watering into wine
Sweetest joy of our lives
Eden’s garden
Halos ’round her chestnut hair
And midnight eyes that take us there
We wonder how we ever fared
To care for Eden
Born in a land of briers and thorns
Torn by hate and drowned in war
We would feel the earth bow down and mourn
And cry for Eden
She cries for Eden
So we plant and tend
And watch her changing
Waiting on the Vine
Never trifling with the giving of our time
Then the Master of the harvest
Turns our watering into wine
Sweetest joy of our lives
Eden’s garden
An angel has come to stay with us
Play with us
Pray with us
A little child shall lead them
And though we know she won’t belong to us
She’s here to teach her song to us
Our eyes on Eden
We look to Eden
We live for Eden

Here is what Kenneth Cope had to say about this song. I think it is very moving and a lot of it Echos my own feelings. 

"Eden’s Garden is about my first-born. My wife and I had been living in the Los Angeles area for several years and had seen floods, fires, the L.A. riots, crime, drive by shootings, and more fires. Eden was born in this environment (pollution in the sky—“on the evening of a crimson moon”—also foreshadowing another moon that would be turned to blood—just before the Savior’s return) and we wanted to protect her from all of the evil. Soon after, came the Northridge earthquake, who’s epicenter (I had been told) was about 15 miles from our home…“We would feel the earth bow down and mourn, and cry for Eden” (not just sad that Eden and other children had to live “in a land of [spiritual] briers and thorns” but also in another way, crying for—longing for—that old land of Eden where God the Father and Jesus the Son had walked with Adam and Eve in the garden). But, as badly as we wanted to protect our little Eden, we realized that we could only do what we could do.

Soon we felt impressed to move to Salt Lake City, where we bought our first home. We have an apple tree in our back yard. It gives us delicious apples. But all we do is water it. We prune it a little every year, but to make the apples grow, we just water it. Meanwhile, “the Master of the harvest turns our watering into wine”, the sweet, delicious fruit. And so it is with our parenting. We can plant the seeds of faith and testimony, tend to the growing plant with care, keeping it from the scorching sun, weeding around it so it isn’t robbed of it’s needed nutrients, and watch as it grows and grows…“never trifling with the giving of our time”—that’s the most important thing we can give our children—time! But, after all we can do, it’s really the Savior, that blesses our little ones with testimony and faith and all the good things that will lead them back into His Kingdom. We must do our work, and we must let the Savior do His. “Sweetest joy of our lives!”

There’s a line in the song that says, “And though we know she won’t belong to us…” Now, this might bother some, but the truth is, she belongs to God. We provided her with a physical body but the real her—the spirit that animates that body—is God’s daughter, made in His image. He fathered her. Yes, we will love her as a daughter and friend all of our lives, with the best love that’s in us, willing to do anything for her, even die for her; but we must not forget who she really is and from whence she has really come."

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Whole Fam Damily

Originally,  my mom was going to be the only one that was coming to visit us when the baby came. Then when the baby came early it look like my mom would be here over Christmas. That left the rest of my family at home alone to celebrate without my mom or I. They decided that wasn't much of a christmas and that they couldn't wait till February to meet little Eden. So after a little thought my dad decided that it was best if the whole family came out to visit for Christmas. And by whole family, I mean whole family, My grandparents, both brothers and both sisters hopped in the van on Saturday the 21st and started driving towards Connecticut.
We were fortunate enough to have a friend/family of ours out of town for the Christmas holiday. They kindly offered us their home so that my family would have a place to stay while they were visiting. It was the perfect situation as our small little apartment would not accommodated my eight family members comfortably for meals and activities.They arrived around 5 o'clock in the evening and my sisters were the first to come bounding through the front door. Katie whisked the baby out of my arms and what the first to hold her. There were tears shed on her part as she was so excited to finally meet her little niece Eden. After that my family played pass the baby around and everyone looked at her with aw and amazement.
Shortly after their arrival we headed to the home in Darien where they would be staying. I don't think the baby ever spent a minute in her bassinet or on a pillow as everyone in the family was anxious to take their turn holding her. We play games, ping-pong, watched movies, played piano and sang. It was a fantastic time for everyone sitting around making memories.

My family had been planning to head to the city on Monday. Originally Mike was planning to drive them down and play tour guide. I would stay home with my grandparents and the baby. After putting a little thought into the activities of the day my mom decided I would be the best tour guide for my family. She generously offered to stay home with Eden as I took the family into the city. I was sad to leave my little one but knew this time with my family was to be treasured and we would be making memories. I also knew that my baby was in good hands, if there was anyone I trusted Eden with it with my mom. We drove down to the city on Monday morning. Unfortunately the forecast called for rain all day long and it was right. We spent the day trudging through the streets and rain. Usually I'm a little more prepared for trips like these. I do research on different things to do and find out the best times to do them. After having a baby, the sleepless nights, and spending time with my family I didn't have a lot of time to research. I thought that we could head to the city and see some of the most popular attractions without too much interference from the crowds, especially because of the rain. I was wrong, dead wrong. Our first stop was Macy's. While the window displays outside were everything I had dreamed of I was not anticipating the long lines to go to Santa land. I had heard of Santa land and just assumed it was something that you could walk through and see for a little bit. I figured you had to wait in line to actually meet Santa but didn't think it would take very much time just to walk through the Santa land area I was again wrong as the line was 3 1/2 hours. Not to mention getting up-and-down Macy's in the elevator as crowded as the store was. It was a nightmare. I was happy and relieved when we finally exited the store. We walked up the street and looked at the lights and the Christmas decorations.
We stopped at Shake shack for lunch, that was a good choice. Everyone loved it! We even got lucky enough to scope out two tables right next to each other for us to sit and eat. Quite an accomplishment I believe. After Lunch we walked through time square. We stopped at Toys R Us, the time square visitor center where we wrote our wishes for 2014 on the confetti they would drop at midnight, and the M&M store.

Prior to going down to the city we had purchased vouchers for skating in Central Park. We knew it might rain but we figured even with a little bit of rain we would still be able to ice skate.  We headed down to Central Park to look for the ice skating rink. We got to the place where we were supposed to transfer out voucher for the actual ice-skating tickets. They told us that the voucher place was closed but that the ice-skating rink was open. We trudge through the park for a LONG time looking for the ice-skating rink... In the pouring rain. This was probably the low point of our trip. I was 12 days postpartum and walking around the city trying to play tourist and the activity we'd been most looking forward to was turning out to be a nightmare. Of course because it was raining so hard the ice skating rink was closed. Mike got on the phone for about 30 minutes and finally was able to get a refund for our activity and we headed out to the Plaza hotel to see the Christmas decorations. Then we went to FAO Schwartz to see the toys. We walked down fifth Avenue admiring the lights and Christmas Decor on our way to Rockefeller Plaza. We saw the tree and all the Christmas decorations in the plaza. It wasn't as crowded as I had expected it to be. Elizabeth was in desperate need of a cup of spiced apple something or other from Starbucks. We found one and enjoy the warmth of the building and the rested a bit. After we were done we headed over to the Gershwin theater where Wicked runs. We entered the lottery and waited for the names to be called. Now, if you don't know I have somewhat of good luck when it comes to the wicked lottery. I've already won several times so I was confident that my luck would continue for my sisters to be able to see the show. My family was a little doubtful though and weren't planning on winning the lottery. To their surprise I won the lottery for the fourth time and gave the tickets to my sisters, the only ones who hadn't seen the show. I needed to get back to the baby so my dad, Mike and I drove home. While my siblings stayed in the city. My brothers walked around  and enjoyed the sights while my sisters saw the show. When they show was over they all took the train back to town.

The next day was Christmas eve and a little different than our traditional day. Traditionally we spend Christmas Eve caroling to several people and delivering my moms homemade bread. This year that was not the case. Instead, I took them to the tree on Gods Acre in New Canaan and we joined with hundreds of other in singing Christmas carols by candlelight. After that we went caroling to the family i babysit for. We took Eden with us and showed of our favorite Christmas gift. We came home and my siblings got into their Christmas Eve pajamas. We watch the movie elf and enjoy each others company. Not a bad way to spend Christmas Eve.