Megan Elise » Madison Wedding / Engagement Photographer

Etta.

*throughout my pregnancy I wrote a series of “Dear baby” letters that talked about what we were up to, how we were preparing for parenthood, and my thoughts and emotions {anxieties} about becoming a mother. this is the last letter in the series.*

3.11.15

Dear baby,

You were born on a Tuesday.

Our induction was scheduled for 7:30 that morning and I spent the whole weekend doing whatever I could to try and go into labor on my own – walking on the treadmill, eating spicy foods, leaning over the ottoman to get you into optimal position – really anything I could think of. On Monday I started having second thoughts about being induced at all and was considering trying to convince Dr Thousand to let me wait it out until Saturday at least, to see if it would still happen on its own. I called the office and talked to the nurse and it didn’t really sound like that was an option for us. And so, Tuesday it was.

Monday night, dad and I went to Greenbush for pizza as sort of a “last meal”, then home to finish packing up and get some sleep. I slept well until about 3:45 and then I was wide awake with excitement and anxiety until my alarm went off at 5:45. We got up, showered, ate breakfast, and made our way to the hospital.

We got checked in on the second floor and were shown to our room by our nurse Holly. She was pretty awkward and quiet and I was disappointed that, of all the great nurses I had heard about, we got one that wasn’t making me feel comfortable at all. I wasn’t looking forward to spending the whole day with her. She hooked me up to the fetal heart rate and contraction monitors before the resident on call came in to explain the induction process to me. She then brought in the sonogram machine to make sure you were head down before we got started. After scanning it around for 30 seconds, she wasn’t able to find your head, which {of course} made me panic. You had a head at the 20 week ultrasound…where was it now?! Right then, Dr. Fok walked in, grabbed the ultrasound wand and immediately found your head….right at the top of my uterus – the thing I had thought all along was your butt. You were breech dear baby, despite my being told at multiple doctor appointments that your head was down and “very low”.

I was prepared for a lot of things walking into the hospital that morning but I certainly never ever expected that you would be breech and our only option would be a csection – something that could have been scheduled two weeks ago. To say I was frustrated and heart broken is an understatement. One of the only things on my birth plan was that I didn’t want a csection unless it was medically necessary. And there we were. I cried pretty hard at the whole situation. Not just being frustrated but also being terrified at having to have major surgery very unexpectedly.

Since I had eaten breakfast already, they couldn’t do the procedure for another 8 hours until my stomach was clear. So dad went to go board Wrigley since we were going to be in the hospital longer than we thought and then we spent most of the day watching tv and hanging out while I cried fat, ugly tears off and on.

Around 2:15 Aunt Kristi showed up after her meeting in Columbus and Uncle Jeremy came over as well while we waited it out. At 3:00 the nurses told me it was time and walked me down the hall in a robe and socks, wheeling my telemetry bag into the operating room. I started to get really scared at this point. The OR is no joke, with tons of lights, instruments, and people running around. They got me up on the table and then the anesthesiologist went to work on the spinal tap. It started to work almost immediately and made my legs feel very warm and heavy, like I was laying on a beach somewhere instead of on a cold, metal, surgical table. They draped up my lower half and dad came in right as they were making the incision.

There was a ton of pressure and pushing and pulling and I squeezed your dad’s hand tighter than I ever have before. Your butt came out first and then it seemed like a long time before the rest of you was out. I just laid there waiting to hear you cry, so I knew everything was good. The nurse anesthetist was up by my head and she was the first one I heard say “it’s a girl” and then I heard Dr. Fok say “indoor plumbing” haha. A girl. I was so shocked – both dad and I thought for sure you were going to be a boy. It only took me a few seconds to start crying when the thought crossed my mind – “I have a daughter”. It was so surreal. I felt like I was twelve years old laying on that table. But I wasn’t. And I had a daughter.

You were born March 10th at 3:45pm. You weighed 7lbs 3oz and we named you Etta Eloise Ruhland.

Dad followed the nurses into the side room and cut the rest of your cord off and watched while they cleaned you up. Then he brought you out to me and said “she’s really cute, Meg”. I looked up and just remember how white your skin looked. They placed you on my chest but there wasn’t a lot of room between my neck and the drape, so you kept rolling into my face and smooshing against my mouth and I couldn’t really see you. We took a couple of pictures and they let you lay there for awhile while I was stitched up. Dad went with you when they weighed you and took some vitals and I finally got to really see you and hold you and start nursing you in the recovery room. We stayed in recovery for about two hours until the spinal tap started wearing off and then they moved us upstairs to our room.

Both sets of grandparents and Aunt Kristi and Uncle Jeremy were there. It’s kind of a blur for me, those first few hours after surgery and the whole first night. I was in more pain than I’ve ever been in in my life but I wouldn’t change a thing about the way it happened. You were finally here.

It’s night two now and they told me you might be clingy at this point. And boy, were they right. You’ve been non stop feeding for the past few hours but I don’t mind. I can tell that you know I’m your mom….and that you need me. I hope you always do.

I love you, dear Etta. Thank you for making me a mother.

Always,

Mom
Etta_005
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Iceland.

I get the traveling gene from my parents.

Growing up they would ship my three siblings and me off to various relatives’ and friends’ while they spent their spring break away from teaching taking basketball teams to Holland, and Brazil, and other various countries. Traveling was always a priority for them. Every year still, they plan and save and work extra jobs in the summer to go on one or two international trips by themselves or with friends, their house filled with photos from their most recent adventure. If it weren’t for them going first, Brent and I probably would not have gone to Turkey last year, which would have been a huge shame…it was my favorite country so far.

This summer, to celebrate their 40th anniversary, four kids, and four grandkids…I knew I wanted to take a trip with my parents. To have that experience and those memories of traveling internationally with them. So I picked Iceland {selfishly} because it’s been on my short list ever since I read a Delta magazine article about Reykjavik a few years ago and was instantly intrigued. And so we went. Brent and myself and Eric and Judes, leaving the heat of a midwest summer on the fourth of July for cold and crazy wind and winter-like weather in Iceland.

We started in Reykjavik, getting little to no sleep due to midnight sun and excessively loud dance clubs, and then ventured out for a seven day road trip along the Ring Road, which circles the island. I remember being stunned by the landscape at the time but I think we, {or at least I} became somewhat desensitized to its overwhelming beauty over the course of the week. When I finally looked through all of my photos, almost three months later, I was amazed at what I had so obviously seen and stood in front of long enough to capture and I was overwhelmed all over again.

Everyone who’s been there talks about the landscape of Iceland because it truly is so stunning and surreal and untouched. Even in the height of the tourist season, we rarely saw other cars on the road, only passing the occasional biker {how, with that wind, I just don’t know} and the pictures, of course, don’t come close to measuring up to the real thing. I still hardly believe I was actually there.

It was beautiful, and expensive, and often boring at night in the middle of nowhere but man, was it beautiful. And it was a trip with my parents that I will never forget.

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Australia + New Zealand.

This post has been delayed in coming as I’ve been struggling to put the right words here. I have so many fragmented thoughts on traveling that always have much less to do with the place we were and much more to do with being really anywhere in the world with Brent. {Last year I couldn’t find the words either}. It’s something I desperately want to write about but I think I’ll save those sentiments for another day and let the photos tell you the story of our time in New Zealand and Australia. Be warned – landscape overload.

I will tell you that it was stunningly beautiful, in many ways untouched, and that the phrase – it’s “busy” in “town” is relative in a country with only 4million people. The sauv blancs are deliciously tart, the seafood {and really all of the food} incredibly fresh and expensive. Don’t even try eating at the bar. The sheep are overly skittish and the birds, overly brazen. We put over 4000km on our rental car entirely on the left hand side of two lane highways, often with no passing traffic – the photos don’t come close to doing justice to what we saw. Our favorite places were Lake Taupo on the North Island and Abel Tasman National Park and Milford Sound on the South. That Milford Sound… well worth the 14 hour flight alone. If I could go back and do it over again, I’d pay the ridiculous sum for a 30 minute plane ride over it. I can only imagine how breathtaking it must be from that viewpoint. Also, Sydney. I loved Sydney! Brent, can we move there? A big city on the beach, easy public transit, and coffee shops serving flat whites on every corner – my kind of place indeed. Until the next adventure….

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Terren Kimmitt - These photos are breathtaking and I’m sure they really do not do it justice… And I want a koala bear :) and a fox..

Kelley - It is hard to believe that you captured reality! Dreamy…I love the row boat and the line up of boats, although they are all beautiful.

Sarah Lang - Wow, so many beautiful images! That koala bear is so cute!
All the water looks dreamy and perfectly blue.

“Just For A Moment, Let’s Be Still”

I’m not sure exactly where the urge came from. It started small, born out of a desire for quiet, more than anything. A seeking of silence so heavy, it would have the ability to calm my ever/overactive brain. And grew to a craving for stillness – the chance to sit for hours and do nothing at all in a place where there were no possible obligations, far away from the part of my world that thrives on productivity. When the feeling became so great, I searched around the internet for a small cabin in the woods somewhere up North, finding that most places were closed for the winter, but happening on this little gem of a place in Minoqua on the frozen shores of Lake Kaubashine. And knowing immediately how good it would be for my soul.

The term “downtime” has become kind of a buzzword for me come December {I wrote about it last year too}. But truly, after months of feeling like I’m constantly in motion, days and weeks bleeding into one other, traveling somewhere every so often, the month of December practically begs for a whole lot of nothingness as the days close in on themselves, tripping over darkness until we land in a new year with its new goals and fresh starts.

The few days Ester and I spent up North consisted of mostly a bunch of nothings that added up to something that was exactly what I was seeking. With its three hour drive, negative temperatures, frozen pizza and beers. Sunlight dancing its way around the cabin. Long talks and short stories. Card games and coffee. Exploring a summer camp empty in the calm of the season – the swingset and canoes coated in snow and relaxing from months of entertaining children. Walks out on the lake {frozen solid already} for the sunrise, sunset and back out after dark to see thousands of crystal clear stars – completely blanketed in silence when we chose it to be. A roaring fire tended to from early in the morning until way late into the night. And my very most favorite part, reading the journals from the cabin. Crying and laughing over stories of love and loss and healing of people who had spent time in this very place. It left me feeling relaxed and inspired. Clear headed and a little less compressed. And more than anything, yearning for a return in some warmer month for a long afternoon nap on that suspended porch bed and the next chapter of my story gracing the pages of a composition notebook. Until then.

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Ester - Wha?! Now that was perfect – the words and pictures (like I really LOVE the processing of these images). Really, such a great time capsule for us to look back on. Thanks for inviting me and introducing me to the Nelly Pandora station.

Christine - So perfect and cozy, Megan. I want to be there.

jessica sands - this imagery is so inviting. i just want to be there sitting by that fire, drinking that coffee, chasing that light…

Anda - Totally cannot even compute .. in awe.

Beth - Just wonderful; this made me like winter again. Thank you.