kristen is calm, patient, loving, really funny… she is a beautiful person. even if you’re meeting her for the first time, you’ll gather all of this within seconds. she and i grew up in the same town and worked at the same summer camp. throughout my life, she’s been a sort of goal of mine. something to aspire to. living across the country from one another, i’d yet to see her as a mother. when i walked through the door of her sweet home and saw her with a baby on her lap and a toddler sitting beside her, i could just tell she is in her element. her two boys, ira (2) and wyatt (6 months), are a testament to their parents. ira has a great sense of humor and wyatt, despite his health troubles, is as happy as can be. both are going to very tall, you can already tell. “yeah… the bumbo seat doesn’t really work with them. they’re too skinny and tall. they just flop around in it.”
you’re running out the door, what do you grab?
food (for me). i’m always hungry. my phone. roll-on perfume. and some more food.
what’s your #1 beauty must-do?
i’ve been trying to wear more sunscreen. also, i believe that there are people in life that like to keep their eyebrows perfectly manicured and there are people that don’t even know where they keep the tweezers. i find it very cathartic to make sure there is not a hair out of place.
what’s an item you’ve bought for the boys that you can’t imagine not having?
a carrier. i can’t imagine not having it. i make make dinner with it on. it was the savior of our summer when we had ira out at camp.
what’s on your to do list that you never cross off?
organizing the pantry. any kind of cabinet or closet that stays closed around here… you don’t want to open it. i love organizing and i never have time.
what do you allow yourself to indulge in?
yoga. i do it at home and go to bikram classes. with bikram, i know what’s coming… no surprises. i sweat even if i don’t work hard. also, bike riding. and starbucks. i love starbucks. i used to be a closet starbucks person… no longer now! i get coffee or a latte with “vanilla spice.” it tastes like cardamom coffee… which i used to get when i lived in new york.
so tell us about wyatt’s story. i’ve followed from afar but would love to hear it from you.
we had wyatt at home, in ira’s room. after about a week at home, we thought he had some kind of intestinal problem. maybe gas or appendicitis. he had been up all night crying. we took him into the ER,
it turned out he was going into heart failure. they grabbed him from us and started giving him chest compressions. we found out he has a heart defect that usually presents itself a week after birth. he had to have surgery in dallas. there’s a drug that keeps infants alive until they’re fit for surgery… that kept him alive for a week and a half. then he went on bypass. had open-heart surgery. his surgeon is a pretty amazing lady. he stayed in recovery for two weeks. it’s been crazy. later on, he got RSV and had to go back to dell for a week. if he got the flu, we could’ve ended up back in the NICU again. so we were not leaving the house. not going to friends’ houses. people couldn’t come here…. if they had even had a phone conversation with a sick person! now everything’s good! although he’s a pretty noisy breather from being intubated a couple of times. he has a big scar on his chest. he’s really tall. so he’s a little floppier than babies his age.
during all of this… how did other moms step up to help?
it was amazing. my sister, mom and mother-in-law were with ira the whole time. a woman that i had nannied for, who is also a pediatrician at dell, was the one that originally sent to the ER. the day we took him in (we hadn’t slept at all the night before)… i could hardly see, my eyes were so swollen. she just sat and prayed with me. she answered questions i had. she was at work and was swamped (it was a really busy time for pediatricians… with flu season & RSV cases), but she spent hours sitting with me before my family made it here. we had people bring us food. tons of people doing everything for us. the special lady at the starbucks by dell… i was a wreck. for weeks. i wasn’t angry at god, i wasn’t doubting him… i just thought i was about to lose a baby. i had just given birth and had a lot of crazy hormones going on… i thought he was probably going to die.
…and in dallas?
when we got to dallas, we stayed at the ronald mcdonald house there. we had plenty of friends in dallas, i just assumed we would stay with one of them. but a social worker recommended we stay there. besides being an amazing and beautiful place to stay, there were lots of other heart patients there, too. some of them were older than wyatt, some had just had surgery. i met a few other moms there that were believers. they walked me through it… they showed me their son’s scar, they showed me how he’s going to have to eat for a while. they helped me see past the surgery. we actually couldn’t stay at the ronald mcdonald house immediately, so we stayed with my friend lorraine and her husband bobby at first. and she was amazing. it was as if i had a home in dallas. she and my friend brittany organized people to bring us food. people came out of the woodwork. friends from high school (that i haven’t seen in twelve years)… their older siblings contacted me! “hey i live in dallas. i work at this hospital. what can i do? you can stay with us! do you need money?” i would say
40-50 people contacted me through facebook saying things like that. we were blown away. we felt like little kids being led by god. barrett and i had a lot of really amazing time together. in dallas, especially. we were together all the time, every day. we finished the entire series, friday night lights [laughs]. we started it the night after wyatt was born. it was so therapeutic for us to watch someone else’s drama!
so tell me how all this affected your marriage.
having a baby with midwives, there’s a lot of focus on resting that next week. they really encouraged barrett to take over meal preparation, cleaning, child care… and he did. and then when wyatt got sick, i was a big mess. i wasn’t eating, i couldn’t sleep. i was trying to pump all the time. barrett really cared for me then. i don’t think we’d ever had an occasion where he had that opportunity. or when i had ever let him do that. i think of myself as pretty capable. i care for him. i cook… i’m useful. god made it so that i really needed to be cared for. i couldn’t take care of myself. he had to speak for me. he had to get my things. i wouldn’t have admitted this before, but maybe i thought he couldn’t have done it. in childbirth it happens too, if you walk through it with your husband… it’s such an amazing thing. you’re totally helpless! your husband is the one who knows you the best. who speaks for you. can talk you through it and walk with you.
midwifery seems to be extremely woman-centered. how did barrett handle that?
after they heard that with my first birth, barrett had been my biggest advocate (fighting off nurses in the hospital), they said, “alright, well if he’s good at that, why don’t we take a backseat? if you need something let us know, but barrett’s in the driver’s seat!” they were amazing. they could’ve really pushed an agenda and sidelined him… but they really listened when i told them he’s as much a part of this as i am.
what is the hardest thing about motherhood for you?
not being selfish. every day i have to not be selfish. it’s not even a choice. if i need to take a shower or eat and there’s not time… then there’s not time! i’ve never been a very sacrificial person before this. it’s both the hardest and the most wonderful part about this.. letting go of the things i thought defined me.
…and what’s something you’ve learned from being a mother?
when i got married, i remember coming to the realization that i can have the best day ever, but if barrett’s not part of it… it loses something. it’s lost its shine. i feel that to a certain extent with my kids now. i’ll make plans that sound really wonderful. then i do them and think… i’d kind of rather be sitting around with ira watching an ipad.