Tuesday, November 29, 2011

19 weeks

I am *ThisClose* to being halfway there, which has sent Alex and I into preparation mania. Time was moving so sloooowly the first half of my pregnancy that it felt like we had all the time in the world to get ready for the baby, but now it is just as my midwife warned me….as I approach 20 weeks, time is beginning to move so FAST! It seems like we have a never-ending list of things to get done before the baby arrives just in terms of finishing the house up (as much as possible). Let me tell you, moving during pregnancy is not recommended. Our house is still not fully unpacked or put together, and we are scrambling to finish the many necessary renovations we took on in buying this house. The house is one thing (and the most consuming), but there are still stacks of pregnancy/childbirth/baby books that I insist on reading (4 down, 1/2 way through 2 others, at least 4 more to go), meeting with and deciding on a doula, hypnobirthing classes, birth center tours, shopping, setting up the nursery, teaching Alex what to do with cloth diapers and nasal aspirators….and so. much. more.

On a lighter, less panicked note, I started feeling the baby move on Thanksgiving! I had thought I was feeling it a few weeks ago, but now realize that was probably my organs finding new homes or something of the sort. This is unlike anything else. It's so bizarre to feel the tiny, gentle movements of a 6-inch human being inside you—it's mind-boggling, oh-so-magical, and incredibly alien-like all at the same time. The less pleasant part of Thanksgiving, though, was when Alex put my plate of food in front of me and I instantly freaked out at the sight and smell of it, insisting he take it away immediately. I ended up having a plate of toast and cupcakes for my Thanksgiving meal, with an organic frozen burrito for dessert. Oh, pregnancy!

I also took my first trip to a maternity store, and holy crap was that overwhelming! So far I've been buying all my maternity clothes online, but I desperately needed some assistance with figuring out how to holster my new….uh…..twins? I can't think of a polite way to put it, and apparently I'm more into over-sharing while pregnant. I will say that I highly recommend buying new bras early in your pregnancy. I did not heed that advice and have been in so much pain every day as I've been cutting off my circulation. Over-sharing aside, what is with maternity stores?? Maybe it was a freak occurrence, maybe it was because I went in the middle of a workday so the salesladies were bored, maybe it's because I look like an easy target? I don't know, but I went in looking for one thing and a saleswoman immediately jumped on me, figured out all my sizes, and honestly within the 5-10 minutes I was browsing she filled an entire dressing room FULL of clothing…..10 head-to-toe outfits and then a myriad of random items. I don't get it. But, I left there so overwhelmed and exhausted. Back to online shopping for me!  

Monday, November 28, 2011

baby dreams

In exactly one week Alex and I will find out the gender of this tiny person growing inside me….eeek! I don't know if other couples get this excited about it, but Alex and I are craaaaazy excited! Alex has been doing a countdown since 10 days before our appointment (so cute:) and I find myself lost in daydreams of who this child will be. 

To me, there is no element of surprise lost in finding out the gender now rather than in 20+ weeks. The gender is exciting, but inconsequential to the surprises I will begin to uncover the day I give birth—the biggest being who is this little being?!! Followed by many other little things like whose eyes and whose nose does he/she have, what name fits him/her (I think we have to meet before we 100% settle on a name so we have picked out a few options), what kind of personality will he/she come screaming into this world with?? All these things are far bigger surprises for me than whether I buy pink pajamas or blue. But, for now, finding out the gender is a little baby excitement hit while we wait (and wait!) for the big day to finally arrive….and it means I can finally start decorating the nursery!

In the meantime, I thought it'd be fun to look back through Alex's and my childhood photos, studying our little faces in order to help me imagine my future child. We had great fun doing this, but it actually made me feel even more impatient to lay eyes on my child:) I can't find the better pictures of me as a baby at the moment, but here are a few….

Baby Lola, 2 months and looking nothing like I do now (pictured with my aunt)
I look quite delirious.

Baby Lola, 1 year

If we have a little girl, this is what Alex pictures

Alex the day he was born. Would you look at those chubby cheeks?!
He was born a month late and you can tell.

This is what I picture my little boy looking like—so freaking cute,
I cannot stand it!

He looks like such a relaxed baby, like he's thinking "hey there, this is my floor,
this is my rattle, what's going on?"

Little boy Alex (on the left, pictured with his brother). Cuteness.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

happy birthday, my love!

Today is my husband's birthday so I thought I'd go a little cornball on my blog for him (ok, a little more than usual;). Honey, I'm so very grateful that your beautiful, complicated soul and enormous heart came into being on this day 32 years ago. Your ability to love, give and nurture has completely transformed my life (and makes me confident that you will be the most amazing father to our child!). And so, 32 reasons I love you:

1. Your big heart
2. Your hugs
3. Your wild intelligence
4. Your gorgeous singing voice
5. Your intense passion
6. Your ability to soothe a neurotic girl like me
7. Your kisses
8. Your introspection
9. Your determination
10. Your romance
11. Your writing and poetry
12. Your music
13. Your desire to spoil me
14. Your long, thick eyelashes (I'm so jealous!)
15. Your obsession with reading to our unborn child
16. Your newfound ability to mow lawns, make mulch piles, reroof garages, patch walls and service furnaces.
17. Your crazy persistence and faith that got us into our first house
18. Your lack of complacency
19. Your harvest lasagna, mmm!
20. Your enormous, overwhelming heart
21. Your sensitivity
22. Your love of Phish
23. Your love of camping
24. Your love of mountains
25. Your patience (lord knows you need it living with me:)
26. Your ability to say "I'm sorry"
27. Your ability to dream
28. Your sentimental nature
29. Your honesty and directness
30. Your insane ability to play with children for hours
31. Your curiosity
32. Your love for me

Monday, November 21, 2011

18 weeks

For whatever reason, the excitement level in our household really ratcheted up this week. My belly went on a crazy growing spree, which was part of the excitement for Alex and I. There's no denying there's a baby in there now…..and there's no way I can sleep without my "new husband," the pregnancy pillow now that I have a substantial bump (something Alex isn't the biggest fan of given his side of the bed is getting smaller and smaller, inch by inch;). 

The other thing that was exciting for us was taking our first trip to Babies R Us, which is something I thought Alex would hate because he thinks shopping is about as fun as watching a Lifetime movie marathon. Much to my surprise, though, he was ALL about it. He actually allowed me to peruse every section of the store, which is unheard of (normally, he is dragging me out of every store I spend more than 45 seconds in). I will admit, I sort of felt like we were playing house/pretend picking out baby swings and strollers. Alex, on the other hand, felt pumped to be a father-to-be. It made it feel all the more real for him, which was exciting for me to see since I often feel he (and all men) gets cheated out of physically and spiritually experiencing the transition into parenthood, because it's not happening inside his body. But, he's about as connected to this experience as any man I've ever seen….and I think he's quite all right with not having to be pregnant.

I have to say, while I am enjoying this experience more and more, I am also more and more afraid to go out in public. It's not a vanity thing either, it's that…..well, I'm kind of scary at the moment. I've read that in month 5 even the most passive, quiet (pre-pregnancy) women can become confrontational as heck. I definitely used to be pretty passive with people I didn't know pre-pregnancy, but now….let's just say there were quite a few people fearing for their lives as I made my way through Whole Foods yesterday. It's so bizarre, because at times I feel more open and connected to people than I was before I was pregnant, but in an instant my mood can switch and it will appear as if I want to rip your face off. It's usually for a totally irrational reason too, such as flipping out on a Whole Foods employee (poor guy!) for asking me if I needed any help, because he interrupted my conversation with Alex . Oh, hormones…

I also went a little nuts taking pictures this week. I haven't really been "into it" up until now, but I suddenly felt like showing off the bump during this week's shoot and I felt a little crazy while doing it (see below). I won't subject you to all of the pics though:)

I can't believe I am SO close to being halfway through my pregnancy….insane! In just the blink of an eye there will be a whole new life here, a tiny person who will completely shake up the quiet life Alex and I know. I cannot wait!

belly art

There are so many creative ways to turn pregnancy into art, from maternity photos to belly casting to body painting to henna, the possibilities are endless. All of this, of course, makes my head spin because I can't seem to narrow down the list of ways I'd like to commemorate my own pregnancy. This is such a beautiful, meaningful experience and a time in my life that I not only want to remember forever, but would love to be able to share with my future child someday. But, there is only so much time and I have only so much energy. Currently on my list: weekly belly shots, full maternity shoot, journal, a few paintings, videos, belly cast, and a children's book for the baby telling the story of how he/she came to be (I got this amazing idea from my oh-so-talented friend Hannah, love it).

I think this is an amazing idea, but my husband does not agree so we'll see...

I really like the idea of painting my belly cast gold.

For DIY belly casting or belly painting kits, visit Proud Body Pregnancy Art.

I hadn't considered doing a belly painting, but this one is pretty incredible.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

tortured artist

The tortured artist is a stereotype we are all familiar with and one I've contemplated at great length. While I've certainly seen the proof that happy artists can produce copious amounts of brilliant work, that artistic genius can be derived from joy rather than pain, I still debate whether or not I personally can create without accessing my tortured artist within. 

Interestingly, I've been thinking about this a lot since I've been pregnant, because this transition has caused me to look back on my life in great detail. As I've mentioned, it seems that I am combing my history in order to glean from it the pieces of myself I would like to hold onto as I journey through motherhood…the pieces I know I need in order to keep my identity (somewhat) intact. In looking back, I've realized that my chosen art forms have depended on whether I was going through a tortured phase or a joyful one, and I'm having trouble accepting that I can only seem to access the art form that corresponds to my current phase. 

Throughout the greatest portion of my life thus far, I have been in a definite tortured phase, which propelled me into poetry, non-fiction writing, and music. My pain was palpable and impossible to ignore on a daily basis…..and I couldn't be without my notebook. I would write poetry in bed, in the corner of a bar while out with friends, on the back of receipts while driving, on napkins while grabbing a cup of coffee…anywhere and everywhere, almost daily. I would write non-fiction pieces at night while locked in my room, listening to moody music, by the light of candles. And then there was song-writing. I have been writing lyrics all my life, but then one day I decided to learn how to play guitar and I unleashed my tortured emotions in a way that was so cleansing and powerful (for me). 

It was in listening to some of my (self) recorded music a few weeks back that I was reminded of the tortured artist within me…..and I missed her. The fact that I wrote and recorded my music for myself, not because I think it's good (because I sort of cringe when I hear it), makes it so emotional and personal. It's been so long since I've listened to any of it, and when I heard it again I was blown away by the amount of emotion I heard in my voice. One song in particular, The Consequence of DNA, left me weeping on my couch. In a way I can hear how much I am holding back in this song, knowing that unleashing it all would lead to screaming and crying into the microphone, but at the same time I was reminded of how raw and powerful my art used to be.

The art I (mostly, but not entirely) create from joy is my photography and painting, and it's the type of art I've immersed myself in for the past 3 years. Through all the pain and joy, I have always been someone who dedicates herself to healing and finding genuine happiness and a peaceful way of life. But, throughout my (long-standing) tortured phase I was that person while simultaneously clinging to the dark part of my soul, not wanting to completely lose it, because it felt like such a huge part of my identity. As I wrote in one of my poems long ago, I enjoyed the duality of smiling with tears running down my cheeks. When I met my husband, we bonded over this shared trait. But, eventually, the joy I experienced with him and the new life I began to lead, enticed me away from long nights lost in tortured emotions, away from moody poetry and depressing music making. 

Now I find my inspiration in the angelic smiles of babies as I photograph them, in love, in moments of peace, and beautiful views. And I haven't thought of that tortured girl in years…..until now. Now I find myself questioning her exile, questioning the effectiveness of the art I create these days. I'd certainly like to be a "happy artist" for my child's sake, and wouldn't choose to return to my "tortured phase," but I also find myself mourning the part of me that could write poetry and music. Mostly, I find myself wondering: do I need to be tortured in order to be a great artist, or am I simply meant to use the art forms provided to me by the Universe at any given time? Perhaps it's all part of the plan—perhaps my path from painting to dancing to acting to photography to pottery to poetry to music making is leading me toward something bigger, and greater? 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

baby room dreams

One of the first things I started googling when I found out I was pregnant was "baby nursery ideas." Decorating a space with childlike adorableness sounded like such an exciting thing to do! But, after 4 months I must say I haven't been wowed by many nurseries I've come across. Maybe I'm looking in the wrong places, maybe my expectations are far too high, but most nurseries I've seen are either way too over-the-top with hot pink or toy trucks plastered all over the walls, or they are just plain rooms without much going on. I do want my baby's room to be gender-specific, but not in an overpowering way. I'm thinking handmade art and decor, inviting textures, lots of neutrals, and small touches of pink or blue. I think I'll have a little more direction 2 1/2 weeks from now when I know the gender of our baby (I cannot wait to find out! I've never been more excited!). I did have a huge surge of inspiration for the room based on the names we picked for both a girl and boy….but that will mean I won't be able to reveal the room in its entirety to all of you until after the birth since this little one's name is top secret until then:)

A few nurseries I've come across along the way that I do like (I guess I really am forever drawn to neutrals, but I think if used properly a neutral nursery can be oh so soothing)….

Monday, November 14, 2011

17 weeks

I feel myself blossoming into a mother more now. The crazy protective instincts and constant worry about doing everything perfectly for my growing child while pregnant have been there for a while, but the spiritual shift from individual to mother has been more slow to come. But, as difficult as it is for a stubborn, independent girl woman to let go of the reigns and allow this tiny little being to guide my every move and totally reshape my life before I ever meet him/her…I feel myself finally surrendering. Prior to getting pregnant, I found it totally natural to give myself to children, to jump into their world and forget myself almost entirely. But, this is completely different. There are no breaks or days off (from pregnancy or motherhood) like there were when I was taking care of other people's children. And at the moment, there is no more alone time to recharge, because I am never alone….the bean always makes its presence known. One of my very first moments of "oh my god, I'm really pregnant, I'm really going to be a mother" was when I was only 2 weeks pregnant. I was in a house full of loud people so I decided to go upstairs to be alone….which is when it occurred to me that (technically) I wasn't alone. That continues to feel strange, always having a little passenger with me everywhere I go, but it feels more magical at this point. 

I think it's the fact that I naturally want to give children everything I can that has made me resist this great transition, and feel anxious about my future as a mother. Of course, like most mothers, I plan to strive for a balance between nurturing my child and nurturing myself….but, historically I haven't been so great at finding balance. My passion has always caused me to dive into what's in front of me with abandon until I'm burnt out. So, that will be my struggle in motherhood I'm sure. 

Being pregnant has clouded my former ease with giving myself to a child, because it has been more difficult for me to conceptualize what, or more appropriately who, I am making all these sacrifices for for the past 17 weeks (really, for much longer than that given all the changes I made while trying to conceive and then before that, when preparing my body for "trying to conceive"). It's been hard to surrender fully to the fact that I haven't slept through the night for 17 weeks and won't for some time, that I have grown to hate all my favorite foods, that I can't hop on a plane and travel whenever I choose because my pregnant body is suffering from X, Y or Z, that I don't have the energy to paint or work on my photography business….that I haven't been "me" for the past 17 weeks (and when will I be again?). 

Magically though, I have begun to feel more at peace with all those sacrifices. Maybe it was the nerve-wracking (but false alarm) pregnancy scare I had last week, or the hour I spent watching birthing videos with an uplifting friend, or the crazy Kanye West life-affirming moment I experienced during a car ride….whatever it was, I'm beginning to feel more like a mother….I'm beginning to see everything I do as something I'm doing for my precious child rather than something that is making my life difficult or less enjoyable (for no reason at all). I know that thought has been in my head this whole time intellectually, but it's taken a while for it to really make sense. Perhaps it's as simple as the mother-child bond that is growing in me day by day, and the indescribable feeling that I am beginning to know who this little person is even though we have yet to meet.  

I guess I took this at the wrong time of day, because the bump is looking small here. It's insane how my belly changes shape and size throughout the day.

keeping it positive

Since I experienced a shift in my (pregnant) attitude last week, I know that the only way to sustain it is to continue to think positive and surround myself with positive people, experiences and environments. The mind is a powerful thing, and I know all too well that if I allow negativity to grow inside me, it will simply take me over. Enter positive affirmations….

You Go Girl Stackable Silver Rings by Creations by Trudie Davies

Thursday, November 10, 2011

kanye brings tears to my eyes

If you burst into tears while listening to Kanye West in the car…..you might be pregnant. That's right. Last night I had a ridiculous pregnancy moment. I was driving back to Massachusetts in the rain, in the dark, during rush hour (read: miserable) after spending the day with a dear friend in Connecticut, when Kanye's "Stronger" came on the radio. I immediately turned that sh*t up…..and then burst into tears. I figured this had to be documented before my pregnant mind forgets this hilarious moment. Yes, in the middle of traffic I had a life-affirming moment—I suddenly felt like a powerful warrior woman rather than a miserable, complaining mess of a pregnant woman. And though I know Kanye wasn't really singing to me personally, or talking about pregnancy in the slightest, I could've sworn he was. "Now that don't kill me/ can only make me stronger/ I need you to hurry up/ 'cause I can't wait much longer." Clearly Kanye knows I feel impatient to meet this child growing inside me who has morphed me into a stronger person than I've ever had to be. Right? I don't know, but I feel like a new woman after that drive. And I'm sure one day my child will appreciate hearing the story about when his/her mama resolved to buck up and be a warrior mama. 

After recounting this crazy story to my husband when I got home, I asked him if he'd whisper "that don't kill you, can only make you stronger" in my ear when I'm giving birth, or maybe play the song…..or would it be totally inappropriate if those were my first words to our baby? He wasn't sure where his real wife had gone, but he was sure that when she returned she'd shoot down this crazy lady's ideas and insist that she had in no way changed her mind about her "new agey/mediation/yogi music and nag champa candles" plan for the delivery. 

Not the actual music video, because I'm too impatient to wait for that to load.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

new page

I've replaced my "About LBR" page with a "New Reader" page, which I think is also a great resource for current readers! I'm constantly looking for ways to make my blog more reader-friendly, and at the same time check in with myself about what I'm doing with this blog. I thought adding a page that would give my readers a quick snapshot of what I do, along with some suggested reading, would be the perfect change. 

Below is the new page, which you can also visit by clicking the link at the top of the page…..

Hello there! I’m Lola! I’m a 31-year old artist and mama-to-be, living in the Northern Berkshires of Western Massachusetts. I am primarily a photographer and writer, but have dabbled in just about every art form there is throughout my life. I cannot live (sanely) without creating and expressing. I am committed to living an artistic life, an authentic life, the only life that feels right for me…. and I blog about that journey here.

This blog is evolving. In the past year, my life has changed in every way imaginable: from city to the isolated mountains, single to married, apartment renter to home owner, childless to expecting. It would be unnatural for me to leave any of that out so I’m being flexible with my blog as I watch it grow into something new.

Why bohemian?

I’ve been called a hippie for half my life, but I think bohemian is a better term. Bohemians practice unconventional lifestyles, they are adventurers or vagabonds, they are artists, writers, musicians, actors, they believe in peace and love. “Bohemian” is one word that nicely wraps up so much of who I am into a neat little package.

What do you blog about?

Some of my favorite things to blog about are photography, painting, healing, life struggles, inspiration, and pregnancy. I also regularly promote other artists and Etsy shop owners, mostly by integrating their artwork or products into pieces I’ve written on a related topic.

Popular posts…

A few of my favorite posts….

Music and Performance Pieces: Buttercup HistoryThe Consequence of DNA,Worth the Wait

I would love to hear from you! Feel free to comment, ask questions or share yourself (in a kind, appropriate way please!).

Thank you for stopping by! I hope you stay and read for a while! If you think you’ll enjoy reading more, please sign up to follow me, or subscribe.

xo Lola Rain

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

16 weeks

As I mentioned on Friday we heard our baby's heartbeat for the first time last week. Since then, the reality of this baby has been setting in more and more for Alex and I. When we had our first (and only) ultrasound I sort of felt like I was watching someone else's baby, because the monitor was all the way across the large room rather than right next to me. There is something about hearing the heartbeat though….to hear a heart beating below my belly button, nowhere near my own heart, was insane. The confirmation that there is a life already thriving inside my body was just so powerful. It seemed to have the same effect on my husband who has been feeling more and more excited/emotional about the whole process. 

I'm pretty damn lucky to have a husband who is so involved. Pregnancy can be a very isolating/lonely experience, even when your husband is sitting right next to you. It's the first time I've ever really looked at him and thought/said "you have NO idea what this (being a woman) is all about." Not that he knew what I was going through when I was curled up in fetal position on account of agonizing menstrual cramps back in the day, but this…..this really clears things up as far as how different the male and female experience are….like woah. 

I totally digress though…I am lucky because as different as my experience of life is from my husband's right now, there is something incredibly bonding about the fact that he has put up with my hormonal insanity and the hot mess that was my first trimester. He finds a way every day to be "involved" somehow, whether it's massaging my aching back, feeling my belly, asking me to update him on this week's fetal development milestones, or (his new obsession) reading to the baby so it will recognize his voice and bond more quickly with him when its born. 

It really hit me this week: this is the beginning of our family. 

I have at least twice the amount of peach fuzz on my belly now (sort of noticeable in this pic). I'm just thankful it's blonde!

Monday, November 7, 2011

let it snow

Normally I'd be holding on to fall right now, not wanting my favorite season to slip by. But, the unexpected 23 inches of snow that fell last weekend quickly forced me into a winter wonderland mentality. Of course, now that the snow has melted we are in that yucky "in between" stage….the vibrant, beautiful leaves have fallen, everything outside has turned crisp and brown (aka, dead) and it's too early in the season to expect the bare, naked landscape to be covered in gorgeous white snow. So, I will dream of winter until it finally arrives (for real)….

Snow Photography by Eye Poetry Photography

Paper Garland- Winter's Lace by Art's Delight

Cherry Red Winter Coat by Angelika Liv

Winter Snow Photo Art Locket by Heartworks by Lori

Snowblind by Eye Poetry Photography

Winter Landscape by Lucy Snowe

Let it Snow Garland by Bekah Jennings

Tiny Snowflake Silver Necklace by Lulu Bug Jewelry

Christmas Red Berry Wreath by Wild Ridge Design