Monday Marriage Moments {little surprises}

-We love marriage just as much as we love weddings. Take a moment to prepare not just for the wedding, but for the marriage-

Last week was a rough week. The little boy was in rare form and was testing my patience. I was not being super complainy or anything, I was just trying to be patient and remember this too shall pass. But Paul knew I was feeling it. He randomly came through the door with a dozen red roses and took me completely by surprise. I couldn’t help but smile. And to top it off he wrote me a beautiful card and even bought me mini Reese’s! Mmmm.. and that is seriously a big deal because he knows that I’m addicted to sweets and usually spares me the temptation of having it in the house. But this week he knew it would do me good. He wanted to make me happy, make me feel loved, and show that he’s thinking of me. And he did. I love it when he does something for me without any prompting. It also reminds me to do the same for him. Everyone loves a random surprise, to know that their spouse was thinking of you and gives you a surprise just because. I hope to remember to do the same for him. I have a wonderful husband, I love you Paul.



Monday Marriage Moments {using words}

-We love marriage just as much as we love weddings. Take a moment to prepare not just for the wedding, but for the marriage

I appreciate you. It’s not something that naturally rolls off my tongue the way I love you does. As a matter of fact I never really thought about using those words much until I met Paul. Sure, its nice to hear how he appreciates the work I do around the house or taking care of our boy, but I wouldn’t think to express it in that way at first. When Paul and I were dating I realized how important this was, and is, to him. At the time neither of us realized it was because of his love language. (If you haven’t read the blog post Paul wrote a while back on the Five Love Languages take a look here) Paul’s way of “hearing” and understanding love is through words of affirmation – I appreciate you or I appreciate that you did the dishes. But this is like a foreign language to me. You may be thinking, but Carolyn didn’t you once mention that you learned several foreign languages as an adult? So this is the same thing, it shouldn’t be too hard for you, right? Hmm, OK so theoretically it shouldn’t be too hard for me, but should and reality are two different things. Besides, learning any foreign language takes practice, which inevitably includes lots and lots of mistakes. So in my efforts to love my husband in the way that he will understand, I don’t always get it right. I try to remember those words I appreciate you, but I  forget. Often. It is so easy to forget because nothing really bad happens if I don’t affirm him. Rather, Paul just slowly but surely starts to feel unloved. And I certainly don’t want the most important guy in my life to feel unloved. So I have to remember that and remind myself. Usually I remember when I think hey, I like what he just did. I’d like him to do that more often. So I affirm him. I say Thank you. I say I appreciate that you thought of me. Sometimes when I realize I haven’t done this much and  I’ve been slacking I think of the things that he does every day. The things that I think he ought to be doing, or things that I don’t even think about, or even the things I’ve asked him to do a hundred times. I let him know that I appreciate all those things that I take for granted. Even though I have to admit that I’m partially motivated by selfishness, so that he will keep doing things I want him to, I ought to be motivated just to make him feel loved. Because really, I love Paul with all my heart but he may not hear it unless I use those three little words, I appreciate you.


If you would like to see more pictures from Kelly and Will’s wedding, click here.


Monday Marriage Moments {in sickness and in health}

-We love marriage just as much as we love weddings. Take a moment to prepare not just for the wedding, but for the marriage

Before we got married I looked over the vows and meditated on them, I wanted to make sure I really meant everything I was saying. Do other people do this? I don’t know but marriage is a lifetime commitment so when I do something like that I don’t just want the photography and the flowers to be perfect I want my heart to be in the perfect place too. I had thought a lot about the words, “in sickness and in health” before our engagement. What life would be like if Paul was very sick and I had to take care of him along with all the other normal duties all by myself. I decided it is something I would do if we were ever found in that position, it would be hard but I could do it. I made the decision to love my husband-to-be ahead of time. Now, almost 3 years later we’re settled into married life and while Paul is not seriously ill, he has been pretty sick. I’ve been doing most of his chores in addition to mine, cooking dinner and cleaning up after dinner, you get the idea. It’s been very tiring. Fortunately he is feeling much better now that he is on some antibiotics, but sometimes I found myself getting frustrated and upset at Paul because he should have been helping me, right? I shouldn’t have to do everything by myself! I got disrespectful or treated him coldly. It was tough, especially since we weren’t sure what was affecting him for those two weeks. But of course, if I just took a minute to look deeper I would have realized something; yes, it is hard, but that is not Paul’s fault. It’s no one’s fault. Its just the way it is.  And really, It’s OK to be frustrated, that can bring so many good things – thankfulness for the work my husband does on a daily basis, admiration for those who take care of someone who is chronically ill, and even inspiration to lend a hand to a friend in need. But instead of seeing all that I was just feeling sorry for myself, forgetting that its not all about me. Sometimes I get lost in my own self-centered little world, but I am so glad to be married because it means I have a husband I love who unknowingly draws me out of myself and inspires me to love and to live out our vows.


The above photo is of Meredith and Kevin, if you would like to see more photos from Meredith and Kevin’s wedding click here.


Monday Marriage Moments {its not 50/50}

-We love marriage just as much as we love weddings. Take a moment to prepare not just for the wedding, but for the marriage

It’s not 50/50. But that’s what we always hear, so then what is it? On our wedding day the priest who spoke said (I’m paraphrasing) It’s not 50/50, its 100/100. Each person is called to give 100%, to give their entire self to their spouse. To give all that they have, regardless of how much they get in return. That’s what makes marriage work. We can’t give half and expect the other to give half. When we approach marriage as 50/50 we’re saying I’ll do my part and you’ll do yours, BUT if you don’t hold up your end of the bargain then why should I? That might sound OK until you hear the alternative, because really that’s not very romantic. The alternative is when we approach marriage as 100/100 we’re saying I’ll give you everything I have, I’ll give until I have nothing left, even when you don’t or can’t give in return. We’re saying I’ll love you unconditionally. I’ll love you all the days of my life. That’s romance. And that’s marriage. It’s like in the movie The Notebook when her husband gives up his whole life to help his wife in the hope that one day her amnesia may be cured and he might remember her! Ah! Don’t tell me you didn’t cry! Ok sorry for that girly moment, moving on…

I try to remind myself of this as often as I can: Marriage is not 50/50, its 100/100. Marriage is not 50/50, its 100/100. Because the truth is, as romantic as it is, it can be difficult to implement in the real world. I do something special for Paul and deep down I’m resentful that he doesn’t give something back in return, then I try to remember its not 50/50, its 100/100. When I take care of the baby all day and clean the house but don’t get a hand, not 50/50,  100/100. I have to give 100%, I can’t give only when I’m receiving. If I only give when I receive, what does that make my giving? That makes it a trade. Love is not a trade, its a gift. We trade with people we don’t care for. We give to those we love. Then there are other days where I barely get a shower in and I have to tell Paul there is nothing for dinner, and he isn’t bothered at all (or at least he pretends) and he willingly makes dinner, puts the baby to bed, and lets me pick a movie. And on those days I am so happy that marriage is not 50/50, because I would not be holding up my end of the bargain. I don’t love Paul because he mows the lawn and takes out the garbage, and I sure hope he doesn’t love me because I do laundry. I love Paul because of who he is, because of his heart. And I know he loves me because of all the things that make me me. Marriage is not a trading of services, marriage is a free exchange of love, no strings attached. It’s giving 100%, without counting the cost. Don’t get me wrong, I’m really not so good at this. Notice how I don’t have too many personal stories here? We’re all a work in progress. So I say my mantra and do my best to love unconditionally… and I try to be patient with myself.


ps – do you have a story to share about you or your significant other giving your relationship 100%? I know people are shy about commenting thinking they look like stalkers or something (which you totally do not) especially about something personal, but I genuinely would love to hear your love stories. It inspires others (me!) to love more.


Leo’s Birth Story

When people hear that I gave birth to our son, Leo, without any medication they often ask, “how was it?” So we’re sharing our story here to help answer that question and let you in on the miracle of life.

The night of Tim Margiotta’s CD release concert, I woke around 4 am with some uncomfortable feelings, but didn’t think much of it and fell back asleep, waking a few more times overnight without losing too much sleep. Paul and I woke up around 9 am to do a small family shoot. The cramping continued so I got a little suspicious and thought it’d be best to try and rest longer, in case we were to have a long night ahead of us. I asked Paul if he could go solo, and he agreed. While Paul was gone I didn’t get anymore sleep, but tried to relax using the relaxation techniques we learned in our birth class at Holistic Beginnings. I tried to distract myself and go about life as usual, ate breakfast – which I later threw up, did some laundry, and took a shower. Whenever I felt a contraction I just leaned forward, breathed, and let it pass. Paul got home around noon and that’s when things got interesting. At this point, I wasn’t really sure if this was actually active labor. My sister-in-law had just had a two day long labor two months earlier so I was preparing myself for a similar experience. As the labor progressed and I was still unsure of what was happening with my contractions very irregularly spaced. I think I was also afraid to think “this is it” because (1.) I was afraid of facing labor and (2.) I didn’t want to be a baby and think it was the real thing too soon. I thought I might psych myself out and freak out if I recognized it as labor contractions. Paul, also preparing himself for a long labor experience, was trying to go about life as normal and not get too involved, so that he would have energy for the end when I would need him more. Then Paul witnessed some of the contractions and how quickly they were coming so he spoke to our doula Kim,and his sister who is a nurse. Talking with them made him realize it was the real thing. He encouraged me by telling me I would be holding our son sooner than expected, bringing me hope.

Finally, my contractions went from being all over the place to 3 minutes apart. It was go time. Being the true procrastinator that I am, I never packed a hospital bag for myself. So for the whole two minutes I had in between contractions I tried to pack, a.k.a. throw stuff in a pile. Paul and I rushed out the door to the hospital. We were able to pray in the car, I offered everything I was going through for my dying grandmother and any other intention I could think of, which brought me so much peace. The contractions slowed a little in the car because I was really nervous about being in the car – it was so uncomfortable. As we got close to the hospital Paul told me he was a little nervous that it seemed like the labor was slowing, so I tried to let go and sure enough the contractions continued coming strong. I realize now that I was actually starting to push in the car but I didn’t recognize it at the time.

We pulled up to the hospital and found a sign stating there was no valet parking on Sundays. Great. Paul being the loving supporting coach that he is didn’t want to leave my side and suggested we park in the lot. I knew I couldn’t handle that. At this point  in the labor whenever I felt a contraction I went on all fours, put my head down, swayed my hips and breathed. It was the only way I could get through them and I did it almost without thinking, so walking through the parking lot stopping every three minutes to lay on the ground wasn’t going to work.  I also didn’t want to be alone. So Paul did the only thing he could; scribbled a note saying “WIFE IN LABOR BE RIGHT BACK” , threw it on the dashboard and we raced inside. As Paul wheeled me into Labor & Delivery it was a bit chaotic. There were a bunch of people coming in the room, asking me questions and telling me to do things I did not want to do. The nurse checked me and I prayed that she would not say I was 4 centimeters dilated. I felt like I couldn’t handle this for 6 more hours. She checked, and horray! 10 centimeters! I was fully dilated, which meant the pain and labor was almost over! The contractions must have slowed because I didn’t start actively pushing until about an hour after we arrived at the hospital (remember I felt like pushing in the car).

I laid on my side for them to check the baby and one of the nurses tried to give me a hep-lock (that’s basically the start of an IV, which I did not need). As the nurse is giving me a bruise trying to poke me she says “stop pushing”, but you can’t stop a woman’s body from doing what it needs to do! I kept pushing, Paul held me and counted in my ear, and our doula held and rubbed my arms and legs. I have to thank Laura from our birthing class and my sister-in-law Esther for teaching me and reminding me to push for at least 10 seconds at a time, and three times in one contraction. With all that productive pushing, just 20 minutes later I caught our son and held him in my arms and against my body. It was an un-be-liev-able, amazing, rewarding experience. I had so much love and support from my husband and our birthing team. And I feel God gave me the remarkable gift of what I consider a perfect birth. 12 hours total, 20 min pushing, 1 stitch, 0 pain meds and one perfect baby boy. So when people ask, “how was it?” I say, it was the best birth I could have possibly had.


Our brand new baby:
Our doula and son, Kim and Leo. She was amazing!!

The proud grandparents


Leo watching his Mommy.

Are you wondering why there aren’t more pictures from during the birth of a photographer’s baby? The answer is, I wouldn’t let him take pictures! We wanted us both to be fully present and for there to be no distraction. It would make me feel uncomfortable, which could slow contractions or making coping techniques more difficult.

June 23, 2011 - 4:48 pm

Fran McCourt - Beautiful depiction of Leo’s labor and delivery.

November 30, 2011 - 9:19 am

jaclyn - Carolyn, your birth story is so amazing and perfect. Thank God for his blessings to our families- 5 babies in months, 5 very different but amazing drug-free labors. I am amazed at all of my sisters.