four months have passed since conducting this interview. listening to it brings me back to that day… four girlfriends are having drinks together on a porch, the sun shines on us, it’s cool & breezy and we’re overlooking the most beautiful virginian countryside. laughing together (and at each other), it’s just as if we’re back in college. except… we were passing a baby around. sweet annabel fontaine was born to one of my very closest friends on the special day of 12/12/12. listening to her thoughtful answers to these questions, i find myself thinking, “caroline, shhh!” i chimed in a lot during our conversation when really, i should have just shut up and listened! gina seems to have taken on the role of motherhood with unparalleled strength and patience. she and her husband’s relentless quest to live godly lives is inspiring to anyone, believer or not. she will undoubtedly be the first person i turn to for advice when it’s my turn to become a mother. i’m so thankful to count her as a friend.
you’re running out the door, what do you grab?
blush, my baby and my diaper bag? i always bring my moby sling; that’s always helpful to have.
what are your beauty go-to’s?
concealor and blush. and i always have chapstick in my purse.
what’s the one baby purchase you can’t imagine living without?
a baby carrier. either the ergo or moby… when they’re fussy, it’s a fix-all. it comforts them, it’s soothing to you, it’s so much easier than a stroller.
what’s something that you allow yourself to indulge in?
a hot shower. brian will watch annabel or i’ll put her in her swing… and i’ll allow myself to take a good long shower. if i feel better in the morning, i feel like i’m a better mom.
what’s your mom uniform?
probably work out clothes. almost my whole wardrobe is dresses… that’s what i feel most comfortable in. but you can’t really wear them while you’re nursing! i thought about creating a line of dresses that are nursing-friendly. after-all, dresses are the most flattering for a post-baby figure!
what blogs do you frequent?
i read this blog called “my child, i love you.” she’s the mother of eight kids. she has the best tips. i also love “rockstar diaries” because she always portrays motherhood in a positive way. even when she shares the hard parts, she ends it on a good note.
describe a typical saturday.
if brian is off for the weekend, we try to do something fun instead of hanging around the house. we’ll try to go for a walk or go on a picnic. last weekend we went to d.c. to see the cherry blossoms. if he isn’t off, i purposely try to make plans and get out of the house. meet up with friends or enjoy the weather.
what is it like having a husband in residency?
in some ways, it’s easier than medical school because he’s not
studying when he’s home. but he does work really long hours. sometimes he won’t get home until nine o’clock and i’ve been by myself all day with the baby… it’s hard. but i’m part of a resident’s spouse group. they can relate to this lifestyle. i’m also really blessed because when brian walks through the door, he wants to see annabel and help me. instead of watching tv or getting on the computer. when he’s home, he wants to make the most of his time with us.
you are a new resident of charlottesville, virginia. how do you like it?
the community here is great. there are so many young families, mom’s groups. you run into people a lot. you always see a friend on a walk or at the grocery store.
you’re in a lot of groups!
ha, maybe i’m too many things! but i guess it’s better than the opposite. that resident’s spouse alliance group has a dinner swap, a playgroup and a book club. i’m also in a group called “cville mamas” that has a facebook page… people post questions on it. i’m asking questions all the time, like “hey.. what’s a good hike to go on with a baby?” or “my baby is experiencing this, has yours?” and i’ll get ten comments back. i’m in a MOPS group, plus a bible study, plus we’re starting a mom’s group at my church. [that’s 7 groups!] ya, i have a group to go to everyday! it’s so great to have that support. and to have adults to talk to.
what’s your favorite part of the day?
the beginning and the end. in the mornings, we’re both refreshed. i’ve had a long break and she’s happy… the day is starting and she’s playful. and i love the evenings because that’s when brian comes home.
describe annabel’s birth.
i had a whole plan to have her naturally. i really thought that i would. i was in prenatal yoga and reading all these books. so finding out she was breech was a really humbling experience. i wanted to do what was best for her. i had a hard time accepting that god might not plan it that way. i tried everything to flip her… crazy yoga inversions, burning moxibustion, acupuncture on my toes, handstands in the swimming pool, pelvic alignments, soothing music, cold and warm compresses and homeopathic remedies. on the day annabel was born, the gospel of the day was from luke 1:38, “may it be done to me according to your word.” we went into the hospital to see if the doctors could flip her by external cephalic version (with their hands). they told me it hardly ever puts you into labor. they said most likely it’ll work, and she’ll flip, or it won’t work. but sure enough, five minutes later my water broke. and they told me, “you’re going to have this baby in less than an hour!” i was in tears… my mom wasn’t there, brian didn’t have an overnight bag. but once it all started happening, i realized it didn’t matter. i was going to meet my baby! it turned out wonderfully. i had the best experience that i could have had with a c-section. i got to nurse her immediately in the OR. i had a great recovery. even though i had wanted my mom there, brian and i had a wonderful bonding experience.
what’s been the biggest surprise?
it was all a big surprise. when people are pregnant, they focus so much on the nursery or the birth. you don’t really think that much about caring for a baby. even though i babysat a lot, it’s so different than being with them 24 hours, 7 days a week. if brian is working a weekend, that means i’m on call for two weeks straight! i would say the biggest surprise was sleep. i thought, “you just rock them a bit and put them to bed!” but there are twenty million books about sleep. so many philosophies. things that feel natural (rocking or nursing to sleep), books say probably aren’t smart. i’m still figuring it all out.
what’s some good advice you’ve been given?
a friend told me, “pray for supernatural powers.” you can pray for that! if you only get two hours of sleep, pray that they are enough to get you through the day! i have a quote up in my kitchen, “rather than praying for an easy life, pray to be a stronger person.”
and what’s some good advice you can give?
set one attainable goal for yourself every day. mine is that my kitchen sink will be clean at the end of the night. we might have stuff all over our living room, but i make sure our sink is clean and dishes are put away.
what’s hard about living far from home with a baby?
i have friends here in charlottesville that can drop their baby off with their mom. i only get to see my family every few months. my best friends didn’t see annabel until she was four months! but for the most part, i think i’m fortunate. i’ve met so many great friends here. i had a baby shower here! i did not cook dinner for the first two months of her life! and i’ve only lived in this town less than a year!
what books did you read beforehand and with all these different philosophies/techniques, how do you choose one?
i probably read too many books! in some ways, i wish i hadn’t read any and just figured it all out on my own. i read, no cry sleep solution, dr sear’s the baby book, the baby whisperer, how to solve your baby’s sleep problems, what to expect when you’re expecting. a book might tell you to do one thing, but if it stresses you out… put the book down! a lot of women don’t listen to their motherly instincts. ya, you might be on a nursing schedule, but you have to listen to their cues. there’s only so much a book can give you. also, to me, the way my mom did things had a big influence on me.
how has having a baby changed your marriage?
it’s different! even if i feel like going to bed at seven o’clock with annabel, i always make time with brian a priority. the baby has strengthened it. i fell in love with brian on another level.. the way he supported me through birth, watching him with annabel. she’s a daily reminder of our love together. we have her because i love him so much.