Wednesday, September 19, 2012


I don’t know why I’m writing this now. I've only spoken about this a handful of times. Maybe it has something to do with Vesper hitting a growth spurt and feeling a little nostalgic. I just feel like maybe writing this out will be helpful to someone. Or maybe it won’t. Maybe it will make all of you gasp in horror and think that I’m a terrible, terrible person.

Either way, I’m committed to being honest in this space, so here goes.

Let me start by saying that I have never loved a single person or thing the way that I love my little Birdy. She has absolutely become her Mommy and Daddy’s joy! Her bright eyes and toothy grin paired with chubby little hands reaching upward, wanting to be in my arms… it just makes me melt. I’m smitten! But to be completely honest, it wasn’t always that way.

I wasn’t one of those mothers who fell in love with her child the moment she heard those tiny squawks of life. It didn’t happen the first time I held her in my arms, and it didn’t happen the first time I nursed her. It didn’t happen when I brought her home either… In fact, after the first week or so, I began to worry that I might never feel about this child the way every mother describes: unconditional, sun shine-y, puffy hearts and rainbows love. It wasn’t that I hated, resented, or even disliked the kid. I wasn’t even mildly annoyed by her. Far from it. What I was, was absolutely terrified. I was so anxiety-ridden that I could not possibly feel anything but fear.

The first several weeks of her life are mostly a blur to me. I vaguely remember visits from family and friends, a string of home-cooked meals generously lavished upon us- which I barely ate- pain from recovery and from the newness of nursing a newborn who never seemed quite satisfied, and darkness. I spent a lot of time awake when it was dark.

What I do remember is being stuck inside my own head. I remember that Vesper wasn’t gaining any weight and it seemed like she nursed ALL the time. I remember beating myself up because in my mind I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t even keep the kid fed properly. Millions of women have done this for millions of years, and somehow I couldn’t handle it.

I remember doubt- How can I ever possibly hope to keep her warm enough? I’ll probably never be able breastfeed and everyone will judge me as I make formula bottles for her. I will never be able to sleep again. I will never be attractive to my husband again, and on top of that, he’s going to think I am crazy because I cry all the time at the drop of a hat.

I remember my irrational fear of leaving the house because wherever we went, she is just going to cry and annoy those around us and they’d see that I am terrible at this and we’d have to leave. Or worse, what if I had to nurse in public?! And what if I flashed a crowd of strangers?!

I remember desperately wishing that visitors would leave because I didn’t want them to hang around long enough to see me fail at this whole parenting thing.

I remember not wanting to be alone with Vesper- not because I didn’t like her, but because I was pretty sure I couldn’t take care of her by myself.

I remember worrying that she could tell that I was failing, and that she would hate me because of it.

I remember seriously considering antidepressants.

And I remember trying to explain all of this to my husband, who (bless his heart) just couldn’t understand and was frustrated that he couldn’t help his poor, sniveling wife. I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back now, I can say with quite a bit of certainty that I was most definitely suffering from Post Partum Depression.

This went on for weeks. Sometimes Ryan would come home from work and I would make up an excuse to go out “to the drug store.” I would go buy a Dr. Pepper, park my car in a parking lot, and just cry. I just wanted some time to be by myself and just… cry.

It was a very, very lonely time for me. Here I was with a beautiful, healthy baby girl for whom I had prayed for so long. She was mine. And she was damn near perfect. And I was crying in a parking lot, wishing I could take it all back just so I wouldn’t have to fail her and my husband…

Something you should know about me: I don’t like for people to see me fail. When I was learning to ride a bike, I wouldn’t let anyone help me. My mom would watch me from the kitchen window as I fell over and over and over… but I got back up. And yes, I can ride a bike now.

The irrational fear was slightly lessened when I took Vesper in for her 1 month check up –by myself thankyouverymuch (and almost had a nervous breakdown)- and the pediatrician said a phrase that set me free “she’ll be perfectly healthy regardless of what you decide to feed her.” And then my husband echoed that sentiment, “I don’t care either way if you nurse her or not. I don’t know why you’re putting so much pressure on yourself.” After pumping several times to measure volume, I finally admitted that my body just simply wasn’t producing enough milk to feed my baby girl. She wasn’t getting enough to eat and all I wanted was for her to be healthy. If that meant putting her on a diet of formula, then so be it.

But the big turning point came after a conversation with my sister-in law, Nansie. I texted her before-hand and warned her that I was going to call, but that I was doing the ugly-cry. When I called, she answered even though she was at work. She gave me the best advice I could have been given: get out of the house. “Even if you just go through the drive-thru. Put her in her carseat, and go somewhere. She might cry, but who cares? You’re in your car and you can easily go home. When you’re ready to go out to eat, just be prepared to get your food to go.” She also said, “and get her some pacifiers. You might have to train her to like them, but it will save you a lot of headaches in the long run.” And then this: “it’s a dance. You just have to learn to dance together.”

I was skeptical, but I tried. That night, Ryan and I put our sweet baby in the car and went to look at the Christmas lights in town. Then we went to Babies R Us and I got to go into the store all by myself and pick out pacifiers for her. No major incidents.

The next day, I decided to be brave. I put Vesper in her carseat and she didn’t make a peep. Maybe this wasn’t so hard. We went to the pharmacy and as I walked her around in the cart, sure enough, she started to fuss. I could feel my heart racing as I tried to convince her that she liked the pacifier. I fumbled with a bottle and formula and tried to determine if her diaper was wet. I was just about to leave when I turned the corner and saw a sweet old woman standing in the aisle.

“Oh, I just knew it was a brand new one when I heard that cry! I said, ‘Oh Lord bless that baby!’ What is her name?”

I answered, “Vesper. And she’s not too happy with me at the moment.” Feeling I needed to apologize for disrupting her shopping experience.

“And an answered prayer she is!” said the woman. (Side note: Vesper’s name means “evening prayer”- a connection rarely made by anyone!)

And then without even a pause she held her hand over my daughter and prayed for her. A beautiful, simple prayer that asked God to be with Vesper and make her healthy and strong. She asked God to give me strength and rest as her mother and she thanked Him for the beautiful gift that is motherhood.

I had tears in my eyes as I thanked her for praying for us. She just patted my shoulder and walked away.

I’m not going to say that was my ebenezer. My mind didn’t become instantly clear and my heart didn’t have a radical change that allowed me to appreciate all aspects of motherhood right at that very moment. But it was a beginning. I had a renewed sense of hope. I could do this.

I wasn’t ready to take whole days at a time, so I took things hour by hour. I began to feel more comfortable reading Vesper’s signs- hunger, fatigue, wet diaper, repeat. I started to feel things again. We learned our dance together…

And somehow, all of those hours have turned into nearly ten months and Vesper has gone from a scrawny little newborn to a chubby, giggly little almost-walking baby girl-child. And somewhere along the way it happened: I found that silly, forever and ever, puffy hearts love. Or maybe she found it in me… I’m not sure. To be honest, I’m still not quite sure how we’ve kept her alive this long! (Must be the formula!). I just know she's awesome. And I'm her mom. I am the mother of that awesome little thing that is sleeping in the next room.

I don’t think I’m finished learning the dance yet. It seems to change day by day. Pretty soon I’ll be learning a new dance with our second baby, and I already feel the anxiety well up in my throat when I think about it. But this time I know things I didn’t know before. I know that crying does not equal failure. I know a few tricks for getting him to sleep, and a few tricks for keeping my sanity when he won’t because I know that no matter how unlikely it seems, that baby will sleep eventually. And I know that I have the potential to provide nourishment to him whether it’s by breast or bottle. And I know that I have the choice and no one can make me decide based on trends. I know that I will cry and I will worry and I will doubt. But I also know that God is in control, and no matter how many times I fall, He’s going to keep picking me back up.

So I guess we’ll just keep dancing…


Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Every year around this time I have to ask my husband at least ten times to please change the channel. I just can’t bear the footage from that horrible day… I can’t believe it’s been eleven years. I recently told a coworker this fact- that I just can’t stomach watching those towers fall over and over against amidst black smoke, sirens, and terrified screams and shouts. I can’t sit and listen to people give their accounts of their last phone calls from their loved ones as a plane went down over a field… I can’t do it. She responded that it was necessary for us to see those things to be reminded of how awful it really was- that we might forget if we don’t see it. Maybe that works for some people. In fact, I know it does. My brother in-law, a fireman, wrote an essay regarding exactly this topic earlier today. He mentioned that he had art placed at the firehouse so that he could see it every single time he walked out of his office. That’s how he remembers. That’s how a lot of people need to remember.

I guess I’m on the opposite end. I don’t need to see it to remember. I don’t need to be reminded in order to recall how I felt that day and in the weeks immediately following. The feeling of my insides being turned to heavy stone and my face being dry and puffy from tears… It’s the same way I feel today and any time I reflect on those events. It’s this strange mix of absolute terror, pride, sadness, anger, and denial. But now, eleven short years later, there’s a new emotion that has begun to surface: joy.

It seems there has been a lot of talk this year about “forgetting.” That maybe we’ve already begun to let the memory of those lost lives fade from our hearts and minds. That somehow it just doesn’t have the same sting as it used to.

I’m forced to disagree.

For those of us that were alive on September 11, 2001, we will never- ever- forget. How could we? You don’t just leave behind that kind of pain. You remember. But maybe you begin to stitch it back together. Maybe you find a way each day to pick yourself up and continue to live, and maybe somehow you find that joy is possible again. Maybe you take that remembrance and you do something with it.

Maybe now that we’ve cleared the rubble, and built monuments, and said speeches, and made art, and written poetry and essay after essay after essay, and seen lives lived not in absence of pain, but through it…maybe we’re starting to feel peace again. And maybe… just maybe... that remembrance has begun to take a different form. It still causes our voices to catch, our eyes to water, our hearts to speed up, and our bodies to go numb, but there’s something else there.

It’s not forgetting that we’re doing. It’s healing. It’s rebuilding. It’s regaining hope and faith… and joy. It’s possible. And we’re doing it. And we will never forget how it felt to have the absence of joy…

Sunday, September 9, 2012


This is a story about vomit. You should stop here...

The Ahlgrim Haus is sick. How sick? I took a shower in my clothes today. That's how sick. So. Much. Puke.

It all started last Sunday while we were visiting my mother in Tulsa. What was supposed to be a lovely weekend quickly turned south as I threw up in a Walmart parking lot. I didn't have a hair tie... I just wrung my hair out and kept walking. Let's all pause and admire my poise. The nausea lasted for almost two days, and other even more disgusting symptoms hung around even longer.

Fast forward to today. Still having said symptoms and unable to handle meat, dairy, or sugar. (This would be the best diet in the world if I wasn't 11 1/2 weeks pregnant.) So here we are enjoying a quiet Sunday. We had breakfast out, we bought a lovely new cream-colored shag rug, and settled in to just enjoy our day together. I had just (basically force) fed Vesper some carrots and milk, gave her a quick bath and set her down to play on our pretty new rug.  Then it happened.

Orange vomit.

Poor baby girl... Then happened again. On the cream-colored chair... and all over me. This is a good time to remind you that pregnancy causes a certain degree of sensitivity to sights and smells...

My husband said slowly, "just breathe, baby..." as he lifted my slick, orange child off of my lap.

I followed a baby around all afternoon with a bucket and a towel. I'm exhausted from being sick and pregnant and my husband is exhausted from taking care of sick people, bless his heart.

I'm resting in God's grace right now and trusting that it's sufficient. I'm also overwhelmed with gratitude by the generosity and kindness we've received just in the last week. Friends offering rides and meals, coworkers helping out- it's truly appreciated. We love all of you!


Saturday, September 8, 2012


Listening To:

All Sons and Daughters
I’m absolutely in love with their sound and the heart of worship they portray through it. Their lyrics speak directly to my spirit.

Dave Ramsey's book Entreleadership
This is a book that my husband recommended to me. I’m finally at a place where I can make my photography business a little more official, but I want to make sure I’m doing it the right way. This book is super motivating and spiritually based. It’s got extremely sound advice so I’m hopeful I can glean some good information from it.

Diana Gabaldon's second book in the Outlander series, Dragonfly in Amber
It moves a bit slower than the first book, but it’s got the same mystery, action, romance, and science fiction rolled into one book that made me love the first one. It’s a loooong read, but I just love the main characters so much I can’t stop reading it! If you like historical fiction, I strongly suggest you check out this series!
Not much, to be honest. I’ve been sick with a nasty stomach virus and I’m just now able to handle a few things besides saltines and Gatorade. It’s brutal being sick when you’re pregnant. You can’t take regular medicines, you’re already exhausted, and your immune system is pretty weak. I’m glad to be feeling somewhat normal again.

This should come as no surprise: FALL! Oklahoma weather does this silly thing where it gives us a week or so of nice, “cooler” temperatures (80s) making us think it’s just going to keep going down and down and then all of a sudden it just shoots right back up into triple digits! Sneaky… Nothing says Autumn like drinking a Pumpkin Spice Latte in 103 degree heat, right? I’m ready to slip on a big sweater, skinny jeans, and boots for some lovely Fall days!

Election years. I just can’t handle the political posts by people who are uninformed or misinformed. The left is so far left and the right is so far right that it really makes my head hurt. Part of me wants to just yell and scream and correct them, but the other part of me just wants to stay completely out of it. I’ll vote come election day, and I don’t need to drag anyone else down on my way to the polling place. Why can’t we be friends?
Family time. Ryan is officially done with college! His graduation ceremony is later this month and that means we get him all to ourselves in the evening! He had previously been doing homework five nights a week and that makes for a sad Momma and Vessie. We like playing games and having dinner and bath time and bedtime together in the evenings now! So grateful for a man who works hard and honors his commitments, but I’m also glad he’ll be around a lot more!
Wanting to Remember
That Vesper clapped for the very first time this morning. She mimics sounds now and says “Dadda,” “uh oh,” and “Ba” (bottle). She’s crawling and pulling up on everything around her and her top two front teeth popped through last weekend! I love seeing that big ol’ cheesy grin with those teeny tiny teeth. She also learned to “high five” a couple of days ago. It’s just a really wonderful age and I want to soak up every minute of it.

Humans of New York is absolutely my jam. The candid style of the photos is just breathtaking! And  you know that there are things you can only see in New York! But the captions are what make the photos really great. Check it out!



We’re thrilled to announce that we’re expecting another little bean due to arrive next Spring! Better unpack those stretchy pants I just boxed up…