befores and afters

how time flies...almost as fast as that cliche came out of my mouth and onto the screen. here are several sets of pictures to prove my point. we didnt really try to take the pictures for comparisons sake, they just kind of happened (except the pregnant ones) but they serve as great illustrations of how far we've come.
2 little tribesmen

judah and benj looking terrified ..................the bf's at 12 weeks
at almost 6 weeks

jesse and i were both in the wedding of one our BF couples, robert and natalie, last june, and lickety split, they got pregnant last august around the same time we did. in fact, they were due exactly 2 weeks before us. we both found out we were having boys and knew they would be BF's. benjamin william braden was born exactly 47 hours after judah (i was a week early and nat was 9 days overdue) in birmingham, england. we were very excited that they both had names of the 12 tribes of Isreal/sons of Jacob from the bible and we like to joke that we will eventually have all 12 (we call "naphtali!").
despite starting out at 7 lbs 14 to judahs 7 lbs 5, benjamin wasnt gaining weight as fast as he needed to be. at the time the first pic was taken i think they had just started him on a formula/breastfeeding plan to bulk the little cutie up. the little buddies were about 2 lbs apart...6 weeks and several bottles later benj got huge! we are thrilled that the little guy is gaining weight like he should, but he went rocketing past judah like whoa. these pictures are hilarious to me, because i felt so bad for the little skinny muffin benj in july and then when we hung out again in august it was judah who looked like a little baby-rexic next to mr. healthy chunk. luckily both boys are totally in their correct weight ranges and will surely be BF's when the bradens move back to the US in a few years.

playing catch up

tiff is 38 weeks w/madison here............... maddie at almost 4 months
i am 20 weeks with judah ..........................me @ 38 weeks w/ judah

we are at the exact same olive garden in these pics (which helps partly explain our little chunk babies!). i remember being so jealous of how obviously pregnant tiff was in the first pic and by the time the second one was taken i was so over the novelty of being big and about 20 million times more jealous of her having her adorable baby out of her uterus and in her arms instead. exactly one week after that picture was taken, jesse and i were in the hospital eating club sandwiches and staring at our little 4 hour old miracle. and here they both are recently on a restaurant table being bewildered. our double dates are now triple dates! what was life like before these little babes showed up?

judah at 2.5 months, maddie at 6.5 months (not at olive garden!)


mirror images

...........judah at 3 days old.................................judah at 2 1/2 months

not much has changed here except size. it looks like daddy absorbed all of judahs tan but really judah just got over his mild jaundice and daddy went to florida. same pose of the classic kissy face, same affinity for green clothing. geez he's gotten bigger. excuse me while i sob for the little tiny guy that he will never be again and fall in love with the new version that i wake up to every day.



i am not sure, but these may be the last of the 3 month portraits...so enjoy! until 6 months that is.

the whole world in my hands

smiling parents with the reason for the smiles

crinkle bum

trust fall

so apprehensive

bw fam

we look painted!


too tired to caption

cinco mas

here are the next 5 wonderful shots from our 3 month session! just when i think i cant be more in love with the 2 boys in my family!!!

puppy got into the food!

that's how it starts...

admiring our work

judah is in his happy space

ahhhhh...relaxed on daddy

yay 5 more!

i am in love with this


happy family

judah getting fresh with me
fraidy cutie

FAVORITE lunch ever...i said i could just eat him

3 month portraits!

these are going to show up 5 at a time as our wonderful photographer brenna finishes each batch. judah was very well behaved during the 3 hour session, but not very smiley at ALL. he is still freaking adorable.
rub a dub
on safari
snoozin' farmer

baby crockett

just a good ole boy


music to our ears

ok the lighting is HORRIBLE (because i was casting my big fat shadow all over judah) but this is such a wonderful moment that i had to post. its only 4 seconds of cuteness and then 7 more of jesse and me sounding like raging fools trying to get more out of him. i could watch this ALL day.
last weekend while babysitting, my dad told me that judah had been laughing at him...he said it offhand like it was something that happens a lot. i tried not to break down in tears or attack my dad in a jealous rage because WE had never even heard judah laugh, so we therefore missed the first one! so we dedicated this past sunday night to making him laugh so we could get it in tape and not be such failures as parents at making our child happy. 4 seconds of heavenly success are the result:


a case of the runs

without fail, this is what judah does when we put him on the changing table to change his diaper/clothes. it cracks us up because it looks like he is jogging in place. its hilarious to sit there and watch him and pretend like he is practicing for a track meet or something. watch for when he gets his feet going in sync...we figure he is encountering hurdles or a steeplechase sort of obstacle at these times and is just hopping right over them and continuing on his path. his endurance is impressive, he will do this for minutes without losing pace.



this video doesnt really need a caption or explanation because jesse narrates it so well in the video. all i can say is that i wish i had got the first 4 rounds of this on tape where he did it over and over again every time i opened and closed the blinds. priceless!


welcome to meltdown town

poor little bug was snoozing in his carseat so happily that we let him sleep past his mealtime. this is what happened when he woke up groggy, hungry and disoriented. little guy tried to fight the grumps, but gave in in the end. he held the pouty-lip for an impressive amount of time and it was freaking precious. i felt like such a jerk just videoing and laughing at him while he wailed and glared at me, but it was so pitifully cute. dont call DEFACS on me yet, he got many extra snuggles for being so patient with me. 9 weeks old here.


Judah v. Chef Octopus

So Judah has been enjoying his "learning gym" recently. But when we first put him in there, I didn't feel like he many things to look at. So I hung up Chef Octopus for him to get some face time with. What resulted was an epic starring contest. Result: The Chef is no pus.


On parenting and birth... Part 1

Man. So raising a newborn is a full-time job. I guess its actually more than a full-time job when you think about it, its a 24 hour a day job. That means when I get home from my full-time job there is still pleeeenty to do:)

But I'm not complaining in the slightest. This whole journey has been hilarious, empowering, faith-building, fun, tiring, joyful and by far the most rewarding experience of my life. I've seen enough pee and poop in the last month to give a bulldog johnny at a chili cook-off a run for his money (haha... run). And there are plenty of times when nothing seems to calm the little guy and he just cries and cries. But through it all my heart is so full of love that I might have to go up a shirt size (at least that's going to be my excuse if I do.) It certainly doesn't hurt that Judah is gorgeous and a very well behaved little guy, but I know that if he cried all the time and smelled like my shoes I would still be just as in love with him.

So all that is to say, things have been pretty busy in life lately, so I hope you'll forgive me for not being much of a contributor on the blog lately. It's certainly not for want of things to say.

One of the things I promised that I would do a while back is tell the whole birth day story so I figure now is as good a time as any:

It was Sunday, May 24th and Keight and I had very recently resigned ourselves to the fact that Judah was almost certainly going to be born in June. We had been to the OB earlier that week and were informed that K8 was "nowhere near" and that he was already probably 8 to 8 1/2 pounds. So we were just relaxing and preparing to spend a leisurely Memorial Day Weekend together at K8's grandpa Fred's house with her Family.

I had gone to church pretty tired that day because we were up late at a Memorial Day party AND a Braves game the night before. K8 wasn't feeling great so she stayed home. She decided to share her leftover breakfast cereal milk with our cats Scout and Danger to practice her motherly milk-giving skills; to thank her for her generosity they BOTH vomited it back up simultaneously on to the carpet 10 minutes later. Welcome to our life.

So I came home from church and I was taking a load off in our bed while K8 was in her bathroom getting ready. While were talking K8 suddenly says, "Oh my gosh I totally just peed on myself."

Now, since the amount of time that K8 could hold down any liquid at this point had rapidly been approaching nil, I was not really that surprised or concerned. But then she said those words that have kept English speaking men throughout time awake late at night, "Honey, I think my water broke."

Hold up what? That part's not supposed to happen until the end is near. And we're not supposed to be in labor for another week (or 3 as we had prepared for)! This is the part when guys are supposed to go running around the house, throwing clothes into bags and getting speeding tickets while their wives scream in the backseat. But the funny part was, K8 wasn't screaming. And I wasn't sweating or really worried at all.

In fact, we were both pretty excited. Now don't get me wrong, we were both kinda anxious because we knew that having her water broken, but not really being in labor put some serious constraints on our options because we had chosen to give birth at the hospital. However, at the same time, we both immediately took in the timing of the whole thing and were pretty pumped. I was, for all intents and purposes, off that entire week, I had just finished a Sunday service, I didn't have youth group on Wednesday, the next day was a national holiday, and all we had planned the day of was a trip up to Fred's house.

So after some excited giggling and pinching each other to make sure this was all real, we sat down calmly together and talked through some strategy.

"Should we call the doctor?"

"What if you don't go into labor for another week?"

"Should we still go to Fred's?"

After a couple minutes game-planning and a call to our wonderful birth class instructor, we decided that we were going to go about life normally (albeit with more absorptive padding), and that if Keight hadn't gone into labor by Wednesday, then we were going to call the doctor and talk about induction. This was somewhere in between our practical medical side (which said call immediately because you can get an infection) and our hippie granola side (which said plenty of women have waited up to two weeks and are fine if you take the proper precautions) so it felt like a good blend of sticking to our goals and hopes for a natural birth, but being flexible and being willing to compromise in order to avoid what we didn't want, which was an emergency C-section. This will prove to be somewhat of a theme throughout the story:)

The Night Before (talk about a couple of rookies)

So away we went. It was kinda weird though, like this big momentous thing had happened, but really not much had changed at all. It felt like we should be riding around with our windows painted like they were when we got married. "Water Just Broken!" "H20 No More!" "Oh My the Baby's Dry!" I literally wanted to walk up to strangers and tell them. We had no (hygenic) proof of this though, we had nothing to show that the our greatest moment was beginning, that our lives were never going to be the same. We were on the long slow climb up the Batman ride for the first time knowing we were about to go on the ride of our lives.

But for a while there it was pretty boring. The trip to Fred's went by without fanfare beyond Aunt Wanda warning us that the cord was going to fall out and that we had to go the hospital immediately. Keight had 1 or 2 contractions, but it was hard to tell if they were any different than the Braxton-Hicks contractions that she'd been having for the past two months. On the way home, instead of going to the hospital we stopped by a natural foods store in the ghetto (which smelled like a sex shop) to pick up some red raspberry leaf tea which is supposed to be help induce labor naturally for womer who are right on the cusp.

Remember, its Red Raspberry LEAF, not Berry Flavored

So we got home around 5:00 I made like a gallon of tea for K8 and then the nesting instincts kicked into full gear. So for about an hour we cleaned, tidied, scrubbed, packed all the bags and arranged EVERYTHING. After that we settled down in the bed and set K8 up to labor in peace. We had to throw down several puppy pads in the bed under her because she was starting to get contractions and when she did the fluid would continue to come out pretty steadily. This was another turning point for us, because its possible for the bag of waters to get a slight tear and then heal itself. This seemed possible because there was never a ton of fluid that came out at one time, but now it looked like there was no turning back. Her water was officially broken and there was no turning back at this point.

So we hunkered down and got serious. I was pretty dead from being out really late the night before and getting up early for church/work so Keight was a gem and told me to get some sleep so that I would be at full capacity when the time came to go to the hospital. While I was asleep, Keight continued to labor in the bed beside me, which she said she really enjoyed. She got bored though because she couldn't fall asleep, so she got up and made Mac and Cheese and watched Star Wars Episode III (thankfully I don't think dork travels through the umbilical cord). Later she did a puzzle and watched the Cavs v. the Magic in game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals (you'll also notice that sports make their way into most of our important moments in life, find our anniversary picture from 2007 on Facebook for more info).

So I woke up at about midnight, finally rested and ready to face whatever the next 24 hours held. While I was sleeping K8 had been having contractions, but still nothing too serious. But we then began the converstation of "When do we go to the hospital?" One of the things that we were looking for were contractions that were 5 minutes apart, averaging a minute in length, over the period of an hour. That was one of cues that we may want to head to the hospital. The other however, were the "emotional signposts" that a laboring woman goes through. And from what we had heard, the second method is often a much better way of determining when it's actually time.

The first signpost is Excitement. We certainly felt a great deal of that right from when the water broke. Even while cleaning and packing and even going through contractions, there was a good deal of excitement. We were both smiling our faces off and while we had some tough decisions to make, it was still a very happy, joyous, exciting time. The second signpost is Seriousness. There was a story from the book that we read to prepare for labor a woman's contractions had been going at 5 minutes apart for more than an hour and were all near a minute long. The husband had them all packed up and the wife seemed to be making the shift from fun, giddy, excitement, to serious get down to business labor and had been hard at work for almost two hours. But right as they were walking out the door, they decided to take a picture to remember the moment. The husband noticed the wife smiling confidently for the photo and, taking the cues seriously, he stopped and said, maybe we don't need to go now. And as it turned out, she wasn't. They stayed at home and labored 4 more hours together and then arrived at the hospital where she delivered 6 hours later.

I say that because after I woke up, I did notice a change in Keight. She was still handling everything extremely well, but at the same time she did seem to be in a "get down to business" attitude. We started timing the contractions on my phone about 1:00 am because they started coming pretty regularly. They were about 12 minutes apart and so we laid together in the dark and tried to relax and enjoy this really special moment in our lives. It was really a sweet time for both of us.

I remember at this point being so impressed with Keight. She was on the cusp of the greatest physical challenge of her life, and she was focused, controlled, prepared, and empowered. It was so beautiful to watch her listen and respond to her body as she went through this experience that was so foreign to her, but that joined her with women throughout time, all the way to the beginning of humanity.

It's still amazing for us to think back and realize that her body actually made our son. It seemed like pregnancy really lasted forever, but when you think about creating a human over the course of 3 seasons, it doesn't even seem like enough. Keight cried the first time she looked back at the first ultrasound picture when he was just a little nothing of a bean. One of the things that helped Keight concentrate and endure the pain that came with contractions was the reminder that each one brought us one step closer to finally meeting Judah. Little did we know, we were about to have a change of location to bring us even closer.

About 3am the contractions got stronger and closer together. We moved to the living room to try different positions because Keight's back was starting to hurt. The next thing we knew, an hour had passed and the contractions were averaging 5 minutes apart and 1 minute long. I also noticed that Keight did seem to be seriously "getting down to business" because during each contraction she was needing complete focus, quiet and counterpressure on her back. All signs that things were maybe moving t0 the next level and we needed to go to the hospital.

So we talked it over and decided it was time. I packed up the car with all of our gear (labor bag, judah's bag, keight's bag, my bag, 3 bags of goodies for the nurses, a boppy, pillows and blankets and probably a sink or two for good measure) and then we called our parents and were off. Since it was the night before Memorial Day, we didn't see a soul out on the roads.

Keight was sitting in the front seat and we only had to stop twice for contractions. Both times she got out of the car because standing up was seeming to give her the most relief at this point.

We arrived at the hospital and got checked in around 5:00 am. I have no idea why, but I felt like I had accomplished something by getting her there. Like it was a crazy relay, and going through the automatic doors was like breaking the tape at the finish line. Turns out everything was just beginning.

And so it begins...

Part Two can be found here