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Ashlee is Mama of one darling boy. A 28 week early bird, now 1 and some change, doing beautifully. She lives near Chicago with her sweetheart husband and French Bulldog. She's a thinker not afraid to get her silly on. Babywearer, veggie queen, photography nut. Before the domestic days Ashlee was pursuing a future in developmental psychology but has happily shifted gears in favor of staying at home and couldn't imagine doing anything else. In her free time (ha!) you can find her whipping up babyslings, holding down the fort at Mama Speaks and spotlighting as an Itsy Bitsy Yoga Instructor.

Mama's Nest

Fragments Wednesday, March 29, 2006 |

I have so much I could write but my brain is mush at the moment, it's late and well, here's all I have... Developmental clinic today- Xav is showing no delays despite his early start. Weighs over 11 pounds (98 percentile!), 22 inches. And while they don't expect much from him he's ahead of schedule. Holding his head, tracking, alert. It's weird adjusting his age, he's 15 weeks, but technically only 3. The doctor who told me I couldn't nurse yet- he needed a bottle first, who I had to fight through tears - you may be a doctor but he's my son... told me today that I knew best, that I was right... actually said he was wrong! I got Xav to smile today for really the first time. It was really amazing... rewarding. I'm held out. Suffering from cabin fever... BIG time. Can't wait for RSV season to be over so we can join the world. Travel. Is winter almost over? I forget what people are like sometimes. Conversation. I long to reconnect. Friends, mothers. I'm different now, stronger, confident, unafraid to persist. So much has changed. Time to sleep.

• 0 Chirping

The Language of Motherhood Friday, March 24, 2006 |

I'm discovering some pretty cool things about this new world.... Just a year or so ago I was Nanny to the greatest family, and I cared for their little boy as if he were my own. We were on the go a lot and while at the park or the zoo, there was this look I often got from the Mom's- it was weird and I thought skeptical and I'd just smile it away - sometimes try to make conversation and we'd go on about our day.

But I'm a Mom now and this foreign look - I totally get it now! It's like being part of this secret society, and every time you pass another member you HAVE to acknowledge them... not necessarily with words, but with this look that says more than hours of conversation ever could. It's reassuring and proud and sympathetic and most importantly welcoming. And especially if her child is older than yours there is a wisdom that radiates without words.

So now when I pass a woman with an infant in her arms or a rambunctious toddler in tow, I too give the look and a smile... and I walk on with my boy feeling proud to be a member of the most important club in the world.

Do Dads do this too?

• 1 Chirping

So tired... Tuesday, March 21, 2006 |

There are days... like today, when sleeplessness overwhelms and exhaustion creeps in- it's easy to begin to feel isolated and weak and vulnerable - and then you feel five little fingers scratching at your side and see two baby blues lost in your own weary eyes ... the most refreshing thing is his innocence and love.

• 0 Chirping

Walk America |

David, Xavier and I will be participating in the March of Dimes WalkAmerica stroll April 30 in Xavier's honor. To join us or sponsor visit our team page here.

• 0 Chirping

Our Birth Story Saturday, March 18, 2006 |

So, December 14, 2005 was not unlike any other day. I woke up - felt great and went about my day as usual. Worked a little, exercised at the Y, packed a few things for our upcoming move, addressed shower invitations, made dinner, baked granola bars and settled in for some quality time with my hubby. My back started to ache a bit and I made a mad dash for the bathroom thinking my dinner hadn't sat right with baby and me. Then I was fine, except for the fact and I'll be frank, I REALLY felt like I had to go to the bathroom and just couldn't do it. Then the spotting started... still not alarmed I called my midwife (we were planning a home birth) who recommended some tea, water, rest and a phone call to check in about an hour later. Contractions started soon thereafter but were short and infrequent. With my due date still 12 weeks away I simply tried to will myself to sleep.

At around 9:30pm my midwife, Laura, called back to see how I was doing. When David tried to pass the phone to me, I couldn't speak. Big red flag! Laura told us to head to the hospital right away. After a quick run to the rest room where I lost my falafel (TRANSITION!) we were on our way to the ER thinking of course, that they'd examine me, administer something to stop my contractions and we'd be back home to snooze in no time. After all I'd had a completely normal pregnancy with no complications up to this point.

By time we got there 7 minutes later I was having VERY intense contractions every minute or two. Thankfully the triage nurse had us come right in and have a seat, and there I sat clutching David's hand while she tried to convince the nurses on the OB floor I was in fact in labor. A few minutes later a nurse came down to take us up to the Maternity ward. That was the longest journey of my life, being wheeled down those long bright halls, having contractions in a wheel chair bombarded by the smells of coffee, microwaved vending machine food, perfume, bleach... Not much fun! We reached our destination (a delivery room) at last and David quickly became my Peter. I headed straight for the bathroom, still convinced I simply had to go. Once the nurse coaxed me out of there it was a whirlwind, getting my medical history, insurance info, forms to sign...can she tell I'm having contractions?

The nurse hooks me up to a fetal monitor and we hear our sweet baby's heart beat, relief- the baby's ok. Things seem to settle a bit and she gets ready to examine me. No big deal right? The look on her face quickly tells us otherwise. I don't recall exactly how she said it but she told us I was 10 cm, my bag of waters was right there, and she needed to get another opinion but was pretty sure we were having a baby. WHAT! We can't it's too early!

From here on out it's a bit blurry, everything happened so fast. The only thing that was clear was David's face- I just stared at his face and squeezed his hand. Another nurse checked me and confirmed and the doctor was in right away. Dr. Ransom, a small, delicate lady with a strong reassuring voice who as it turns out used to be a midwife herself. She told us things were too far along to stop, she was going to take an X-ray to see if the baby was in the right position, then she'd break my water and I'd have to push...

X-ray was in and everyone had to clear the room, it was just a couple of minutes I'm sure, but without David by my side it seemed like an eternity. The baby was head down and we were ready to go. Water broke and it's all up to me... Ok, so I lost it on the first push... I completely forgot everything I'd ever learned about labor and the only thing I could think to do was scream! Dr. got my attention and with a few firm words refocused me. David's eyes and hand were all I needed. I felt such a peace, a power from that point on. Three pushes later a baby was born. It's a boy (I knew it) and he was screaming! Thank you Lord... We were all tears, David's words "We got our boy!", we were I'm certain - in shock.

I don't know what I expected to happen next, I hadn't gotten that far, but I suddenly realized there were at least 10 people in the room - nurses tending to me and a team attending to our beautiful boy. They got ready to wheel him out and I had to ask if I could just touch him once. Quickly. I was able to place my hand on his belly. He was beautiful! Tiny and mad and hairy and beautiful. And he was gone...

David's face... what would happen next, wait forget that, what had just happened! They had hooked me up to the monitor at 11:15 and here we were, at 11:51pm we had our baby. Back to David's face... we named him Xavier, a new dwelling. The doctor reassured us, she said our son was feisty... the first of many times we'd be told this

Before I new it they were moving us to the room we'd spend the next few days in and told us it would be a few hours before we'd be able to see our boy. Our parents were there- scared, excited. I was on an adrenaline high and in love with my husband and our son, but terrified and longing for our little one. The next three hours drug by before the neonatologist came in to see us. Xavier was very small (3 pounds 4.9 ounces) but big for age, he had a long road ahead of him but he was fighting every step of the way. Finally we got to go down to the NICU to see our son. It was scary, such a little thing naked as can be with tape and wires everywhere, beeps and lights but underneath it all was our boy, we couldn't hold him or even touch him really but there was an overwhelming sense... we made him... David, God and I and he was here surrounded by uncertainty but exploding with hope and promise, future, belonging.

Looking back, writing and reading this, it all seems quite traumatic- and I guess it was.

I have really grieved the loss of my pregnancy. I loved being pregnant- for the first time in my life I began to feel complete. I felt beautiful, radiant, confident. I was so comfortable in my skin. I loved the way my shirts were getting all stretched out and I had to keep wearing my pants lower... the moments when my belly would suddenly jump and roll, knowing wherever I was I was never alone. I had an entire trimester to go! I think especially being our first we were looking forward to all the novelties - we were to begin childbirth classes two days after Xav arrived, I had my belly cast ready to order, an appointment for pregnancy photos after the holidays, a baby shower. I was greatly looking forward to spending the next 12 weeks getting to know that bump in my belly, showing it off with pride. I physically felt hollow in the days, weeks really after Xavier's birth. There was an emptiness in my womb, as if my body new that it still needed to be nurturing this new life.

We had been planning this peaceful, natural birth at home, on our own terms, laboring in the water, giving birth slowly, David catching our baby, having our new, complete family there in our home from the very first moment of its existence. I had daydreamed about not only our birth but the moments that would follow... looking into my newborns eyes, bringing him to breast for the first time, snuggling up Daddy, Mommy and Baby for a well deserved rest. And here we ended up having an emergency delivery in the hospital at 28 weeks with our baby whisked away from us within minutes. Spending the next 44 days by our baby's side in the NICU, a rollercoaster of good days and bad, progress and setbacks. Having to ring a bell to see your baby and ask permission to hold him is something that tugs at your very existence.

In the same vein, God's got us. And if it had to work out this way it couldn't have been planned better. My delivering doctor was perfect, I did it without drugs, David was amazing. And the end result our beautiful boy, who despite his rocky entrance into this world is perfect! I feel blessed, there are moments that amaze me, as I spell check this post every time it comes across Xavier's name it tries to replace it with Savior, he truly is God's child on loan to us. We'll most likely never know why, but maybe that's the crux of it all. I am learning to trust and know. That simple, just to trust and know.

• 6 Chirping

The Beginning Thursday, March 16, 2006 |

So I have officially been a mom for 93 days now and they have been the most purposeful, satisfying, joyous days of my life. Our feisty little angel, Xavier Michael Allen, made his way into this world 12 weeks early on December 14, 2005. Needless to say it has been quite a ride thus far. We've been through 44 days in the NICU (you can view the details of Xavier's days in the NICU here), nursing strikes, sleepless nights and all the joys that new motherhood brings.

I have desperately needed a space of my own to gather my thoughts, revel in the joys, and dispel the tears this new world brings- so here it will be. I plan to chart our course, pour my heart out and write a bit about the tricks of the trade. Feel free to come along for the ride, comment at will and enjoy!

• 2 Chirping

Blog Roll Wednesday, March 01, 2006 |

Allen Family
Review Sites
Other Sites I Frequent


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