Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Just to See You Smile

“I can’t do it today – I’m exhausted!” I whined to Mike as I groaned and pulled myself out of bed in a way that could only be described as “gumbyesque.”

“Yes you can – you’re a great Mom…” he half muttered half snored as he turned and settled back under the warmth of the down comforter.

Mumbling something about how men should be able to produce milk from their pectorals, I trudged to Lawson’s room aching to relieve his cries. Working hard to look at it positively like: “ I get to spend time with my son now!” vs. “It’s 4 a.m. – why is he waking me??,” I flipped on the soft blue lamp, skirted him out of his swaddle and scooped his warm little frame into my arms.

And that’s when the magic happened…

My precious baby boy, rosy from the warmth of his room and in a semi-state of consciousness, looked at me in a way that cannot be described, but only felt with the heart. Slowly, his slate blue eyes pried open in the shadows and my face began to register in his little mind. He looked at me in a way similar to what Ellie does from across the room (ok, and when she wants a treat too)…a long stare that can only mean “I love you unconditionally.” And suddenly, the tiny corners of his mouth crept closer to his eyes as a toothless grin was shot my way. He had smiled at Daddy and me plenty before, but there was something about this magical hour that made it feel like a child’s first trip to Disneyland with fireworks exploding, the hug of Mickey and all the rest of the awe.

Trying to prevent my salty tears of joy from running all over his glowing face, I held his stare for what felt like a century and knew once again that no feeling could ever replace this – that THIS is all that mattered in life and what moments are made of. He continued to offer Momma his undying love, the left side of his cheek creeping up to crinkle his soft eyes, then quickly followed by the right. As his mouth widened and his eyes brightened, I melted into a million pieces and vowed to cherish every second with my amazing son.

Now, whenever the going gets tough (overtired = 3 hours of screaming), I visit this magical moment, relax my shoulders and hold him closer than ever before. Because I will spend the rest of my life doing what I can, just to see him smile.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Feels Like Home

“Awww – I love this song; gets me every time!” I say to Mike who looked as if he wanted to roll his eyes at my girliness, but instead grinned at my predictable nature. The soft voice of the artist filled the room as we were tucked under blankets on this rainy afternoon, Lawson fast asleep, and both of us flipping silently through magazines. She crooned about “Feels Like Home to Me” as Kate Hudson lovingly kissed Matthew McConahay for the first time in the script.

It was here I stumbled upon “Real Simple’s” question of the month, which was: “What does home mean to you?” Charmed, I was warmed by the more than 20 responses, the following of which I identify with:

“It’s where I don’t have to be perfect. I can put on my pjs and sit down with a glass of wine right next to the dust bunnies…and they’re fine with it!” – V. Hoffman of MN

“Home is where the rags of your life are turned into quilts, lemons become lemonade and a few extra pounds are simply welcomes as ‘ more of you to love.’ – S. Bubnowski, VA

“Home for me means total acceptance. And a dirty litter box.” – M. Williams, PA

“A warm dog curled up by your feet at bedtime.” – J. Masencup, WA

“It’s where my palm meets my son’s palm. When I’m holding his hand in mine, there is no place on earth I’d rather be.” – C. Georg, FL

“I know I’m home when I feel loved and secure and the clutter is all mine.” – B. Santoro, FL

“A good man, a good chair and a good wine.” – D. Sullivan

For me these days, home means:
• Lawson tucked tightly into my chest, breathing soundly and filled with warmth (aka: “tree frog” pose
• Clutter in every corner – but items that remind me of what now really matters such as a baby swing, kick mat, bassinet, bottles, etc.
• The sound of my husband’s key in the door as we eagerly await his arrival from work
• The soft snore (and sometimes loud grunts) of Lawson as he dozes in his crib
• The last of the birds chirping outside the windows on a warmer fall day
• “Sleep Sheep” sending white noise into our house that puts even me to sleep
• My cell phone ringing, highlighting the voice of a good friend
• A golden tail thumping, always loyal, even in the wake of change
• Frozen meals packaged with love by all the amazing people in our lives
• The kind wave of neighbors, bright mums and fallen leaves
• More PJ days than I could have ever imagined
• The kind of closeness in a marriage only felt when a new one arrives into their hearts

These days, our home is more of a sanctuary than ever before…even amid all the chaos. Now I ask you, dear reader, what does home mean to you?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Obsessed - Again!

“Oh my gah…look how cute it is!” I shriek to Mike, clutching his elbow in what can only be defined as a death grip related to retail mania. Traipsing around Tiffany’s on our date night (I know – terrible; even worse, the KU game was on, but I digress) I was turned on by the plethora of Mommy things that designers had decided to incorporate into one of my favorite stores. Yes, I know it’s overpriced and ridiculous and we come from a family of jewelers, but I must admit Tiffany’s branding had me at the trademarked blue bag.

On this particular evening, I had my eye on adding the scripted “Mom” charm to my bracelet (saves money using existing, yes?) and engraving our little man’s initials on the back. Sans “push present” and attributing this to early Christmas plus a tough delivery, I felt justified in my move to make this purchase. As we chatted it up with the darling customer service gentleman from New York (“he should be our friend,” – I lean over and whisper to Mike), pangs of guilt filled my soul as I thought of Lawson’s hospital bills, my impending pay decrease for the rest of maternity leave, upcoming holidays, etc. But the feeling quickly disappeared as I watched the shiny object drop into packaging so beautifully crafted by the retailer and the calm soothing voice of the sales person telling me “I deserve it.” What a softie! Dave Ramsey would be ashamed.

That being said, I must admit I’ve gone completely over the edge of my adoration of Mommy items. I’m not sure if it bears a mark of honors for me, is just a new “box” I want to fit in or what, but here is a list of other baby-birthing things I’ve been obsessed with since Lawson’s arrival:

BoyMom brand: designed specifically for Mommas with sons, this gear is soft, cuddly and oh-so-trendy. Love, love, love showing off that our little men are number one in our lives! And prices aren't too bad. I scored a hoodie at Holiday Mart that says "Blood Sweat and Tears..." truly the ingredients for raising a boy!

MomAgenda: sleek, chic, bright, bubbly and organized, I almost cried when spotting this in a little boutique in Prairie Village. Feeling it speak to my soul, I did some research and discovered it was one of the most popular organization items sold in the U.S. to Moms – SOLD! Snatching it up in a metallic purple, I began scribbling furiously all my social plans, appointments and to-dos. With customized pockets, divided out notes for the kiddos, etc…it’s perfect for a Mommy on the go that is tired of all the technology with a desire to put pen to paper. Nothing makes this girl happier. When stressed – plan for fun….then glance at how cute and organized it all looks in your MomAgenda! Plus, it supports a regular business woman working her way to the top!

Customized necklace: I first spotted this perched on the lovely neckline of my dear friend Darcie. Silver with some beading, it donned her child’s name and a phrase in a simple, darling look that could go from everyday to evening. Plus, you seemingly have the statement that your child is with you at all times and is a priority. LOVE. Being the amazing friend she is, Ms. Darcie ordered me one that will be in my hot little hands in about 10 days. I’m so excited I can hardly stand it – I already have plans for it to be featured in our family photos. I must admit I’m also quite fond of Lawson’s name and long for people to ask me about it when they see it on the necklace…ridiculous, huh?!

Track suit: swearing these off, particularly when I see the word “Juicy” scrawled across the bottoms of women over 40, I sold out when visiting Old Navy one evening and a plum-colored, velour one was staring at me from across the way. Thinking of how easy it would be to slip on and send the message, “I just don’t care” today – it came home with me. Needless to say, Mike and I are still deciding if we’re embarrassed that I wear it constantly or not. But, it’s perfect for me these days when choosing function over fashion (crazy, huh? – this from the girl who wore heels all through pregnancy) and for savoring the days left when I don’t have to go business casual all-day while trying to avoid spit up and boogies from the kiddo.

Flats: a Mommy must-have for an aching back, hauling the car seat around, rushing from here to there, flats now line the floor of my closet vs. the too-cute-for-words heels I once adored. Luckily, flats are cuter than ever (check out Nordys!) and come in all flavors and styles, making it bearable to give up those sassy stilettos that were once such a part of your wardrobe.
Support groups: ok, so not a tangible accessory, but such a key tip for survival! Whether online or chatting with your neighbor/friend, this is the best part of a Mommy’s wardrobe yet. With valuable advice, someone to vent to or identify with, what would we women do without each other?

So, if you see something Mommyesque on the market, hit me up! I’m the sucker that will run right out and indulge…

And if you need a list of baby "must haves," I have that too.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Little Stars - With Swagger!

It was the time of day when one of two things occur - either all hell breaks loose or the family is calmly anticipating Daddy's arrival home, working to portray the image that all was well in the world while he was gone. Today, the house sat quietly around us, our little man tucked tightly into my chest after an afternoon of fussing and playing, the rain falling softly outside against the gray sky. As I took in the smell of Lawson's babyesque scent, capturing one of the million of moments so miraculous within a given day, I decided to take a quick mental break and flip on the tube. Navigating to the Ellen Degeneres show (I wish she were my friend!) I stumbled upon these two adorable boys showcasing not only their raw talent, but charming character that stole my heart. May their positive attitudes, strong voices and respectful nature tug at your heartstrings:

10-Year-Old Twins Sing for Ellen
Oct 14, 2009 - 05:26
Darius and Demetrice are 10-year-old twins who can really sing! Ellen chatted with them and then they performed Mario's song "Let Me Love You" in acapello. Watch them on YouTube here!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Coping With Stress - Tips from an Inspirational Gal

It was nearly two years ago when Melinda Hadley-deBoer came into my life, a woman of grace, inspiration and spirituality of tremendous proportions. Through our extensive work together on personal and professional development, one of the greatest tips she gave me was to build spirituality into my day through meditation and reading. And so it began that each morning (ok, most mornings - and now with Lawson in the pic, about 30% of mornings :))I snatch up a book and some cards from my beat-up nightstand and start my day off on the right foot. Between this practice and daily yoga, I can once again breath evenly, feel the stress melt from my shoulder blades and gain the kind of perspective on life that many only dream of. What a gift!

On this particular day, with the rain falling evenly and my child tucked snugly in my arms, I am moved by this passage in Sarah Ban Breathnach's book, "Simple Abundance." With Lawson's diagnosis confirmed and the general stress of life and having a new child weighing on Team Choate's shoulders, it was enlightening to read this passage for October 9. May you take a tip or two away to ease some stress in your life!

Coping With Stress - Passage for October 9 from "Simple Abundance"

Is there a woman alive who doesn't suffer from stress? If there is, seek her out, ask her to share her wisdom. When you find her, I'd be willing to bet she'll offer the following suggestions:

* Cultivate gratitude * Carve out an hour a day for solitude * Begin and end the day with prayer, meditation, reflection * Keep it simple * Keep your house picked up * Don't over schedule * Strive for realistic deadlines * Never make a promise you can't keep * Allow an extra half hour for everything you do * Create quite surroundings at home and at work * Go to bed at nine o'clock at least twice a week * Always carry something interesting to read * Breathe deeply and often * Move - walk, dance, run, find a sport you enjoy * Drink pure spring water and lots of it * Eat only when hungry * If it's not delicious, don't eat it * Be instead of do * Set aside one day a week for rest and renewal * Laugh more often * Luxuriate in your senses * Always opt for comfort * If you don't love it, live without it * Let Mother Nature nurture * Don't answer the telephone during dinner * Stop trying to please everybody * Start pleasing yourself * Stay away from negative people * Don't squander precious resources: time, creative energy, emotion * Nurture friendships * Don't be afraid of your passion * Approach problems as challenges * Honor your aspirations * Set achievable goals * Surrender expectations * Savor beauty * Create boundaries * For every "yes," let there be a "no" * Don't worry; be happy * Remember, happiness is a living emotion * Exchange security for serenity * Care for your soul * Cherish your dreams * Express love every day * Search for your authentic self until you find her

In this world without quiet corners, there can be no easy escapes...from hullabalo, from terrible, unquiet fuss. - Salman Rushdie

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Lover AND A Fighter

Our little man, Lawson, continues to win his fight against a series of small health battles since his birth. Below is an update on his latest condition we recently provided to our close family and friends, who remain the most amazing support system any family could wish for. Each day, we count our blessings for all of the incredible people who make this journey more tolerable, who continue to provide perspective and shine rays of hope when it seems there are none. We love you!

'Evening family and friends,

Thank you for all of your love and support as we continue to work through the challenges of Lawson's diagnosis of his "rash". After another morning at the pediatrician, we were immediately transferred to Children's Mercy dermatology and discovered the following:

Anticipated diagnosis: It is almost 99% certain that Lawson's diagnosis will be Incontinentia Pegmenti; a general overview can be found here:; keep in mind this is just one site and prob not the best reference. We are very relieved to know it's not herpetic as that would require extended hospital time. Note: staph has now been ruled out as his condition.

Best case scenario: Lawson will go through the general stages of the condition for the remainder of his life with really only physical indicators. They will remain blisters like they are now for several months, then turn to brown streaks on his skin that will remain until he is an adolescent. It is not anticipated that will reach his face. In his teens, the streaks will lighten greatly and be a fine white. In white people, they will barely be noticeable. Most likely these marks will remain on his extremeties, but there is potentially for them to migrate anywhere on his body.

Worst case scenario: Lawson could experience some delays in development, eye and teeth troubles. Only in 30% of cases (and mostly female) do severe long-term affects occur such as seizures, neurological issues, etc. He will be closely monitored over the years via the amazing doctors at Children's Mercy.

This condition is RARE: This condition is almost NEVER found in males (less than 3% nationally); most males do not make it through pregnancy and survive this condition. What a blessing that Lawson is a fighter and made it through! In general, very few of these cases are seen in pediatric hospitals annually. It is expected that Lawson will be a great study for clinicians to review into the future, particularly given his anticipated strong outcome. His cells that have been affected are mosaic..meaning that only some are affected.

How it came about: this is a genetic condition, though not passed from Mike and I or our family, etc. Rather, it is a mutation of one of Lawson's genes. Mike and I will not have to worry if/when we have another child, rather Lawson will have to be concerned with this when he goes to start a family. Particularly, there will be more than a 50% chance that if he has a girl that she too will have the condition.

What we do now: life as usual with frequent doctor appointments to monitor growth and development; a list of indicators to watch for over his life will be our priority along with our clinicians

Final word: Lawson's biopsy results to confirm this will be available in 7 to 10 days. Our little man is exhausted as he's been poked and prodded almost his entire life until now. We are happy that he doesn't have to go back for another 13 days!!!

Again, thank you for all of your calls, texts and love. We are so blessed to be surrounded by such an incredible support system. Most days, we're not sure how we'd get through without you all!!!

Mom and Dad are exhausted but doing well. It's nice to finally have some information and cut back on meds and come to peace a bit at a time with what is going on. We are constantly amazed at how parents with terminally ill or very sick children cope - what a miraculous thing.

On a lighter note, this condition isn't getting the man down - he's still as fiesty as ever in the middle of the night, eating like a little piggy, and working on giving his Mommy and Daddy his first smile. What a champ! He is amazing and unconditionally loveable :) We'll be sure to send some more pics soon!

Meg, Mike and Lawson

And Then There Were Three

Snuggled into the down comforter despite the temperate heat of the room, I stirred awake to a kind of sensation that was new to me in my now close to 10 months of carrying our son. Trying to ignore it and take in what I kept hearing were the last moments of slumber-filled nights, I rolled onto my right and decided to pretend it was indigestion. But our little guy was announcing it was time. Calmly, I reached into the dark for the beaded lamp and let the light fill the room, listening to Mike’s soft snores and giggling to myself that I was about to interrupt what was probably a fabulous dream.

“Honey,” I said softly, nudging his shoulder in the same way as level one warning of his snoring, “I’m having contractions…this is the real thing!”

And so it began on the foggy morning of September 12, 2009 that our lives were turned topsy, turvy, upside down in the most fascinating, earth-shattering ways that only a parent could understand.

Mike and I are proud to announce the birth of our son, Lawson John Choate on September 13, 2009 at 3:37 a.m. Weighing in at 7 pounds and 19.5 inches in length, he came into this world a fighter and continues to win the war with our hearts in the most astounding of ways.

Welcome, Mr. Lawson. We love you immeasurably and hope to give you all the amazing things this world has to offer. If we thought we loved you before, there are no words to describe the growing adoration and unconditional love that builds up as each moment passes. This miracle is more than we could have ever dreamed of, hoped for or longed for in our wildest of dreams. Thank you for making them come true!