3+ Weeks Postpartum

I have officially entered the phase of postpartum where I spend equal parts trying to find where I set that thing down and trying to remember what that thing is.

Also, I baked today just in case you needed a more direct cry for help.

It should also be noted that while searching for ingredients, I discovered two different containers of baking powder, two containers of raisins, two packages of yeast, and three containers of corn starch. So…essentially I’m functioning as usual.

An Overnight Work Trip and Two Kids

It’s official. I have kids. Plural.

I don’t exactly know what I expected but so far having two kids looks like my husband doing all the things. (Thank you, cesarean section for rendering me nearly useless as a partner but keeping me undeniably alive not once but twice.)

He manages all the things with minimal complaint and impressive restraint until he is temporarily freed for an overnight work trip and I finally get a taste of parenting two alone.

I’m two weeks postpartum and have been off pain meds long enough to know that I can survive without them. Progress.

I’ve scheduled a lunch date with a girlfriend to distract me from the evening to come. (Okay, she called me and I happily accepted. I love my girlfriends.) She comes over to catch up and meet the newest. She brings a√ßai bowls. They’re delicious.

Before picking up my daughter from daycare, I take my son to run some errands. I park next to the cart corrals each time so I don’t lift him too long. He’s heavy but he sleeps.

I pick up my daughter from school and she shows off her little brother to all her of her friends. I introduce him to the teachers. One of the women helps me carry Emma’s car seat out to the car. My hands feel full (literally and figuratively) but I’m handling it.

Dinner time goes off without a hitch and we even find time to play Candyland and put together a puzzle before bed. I’m basically a super hero.

Both kids are in bed by 8:30 PM which is earlier than my husband and I have been managing together (#blessed). Having not much else to do (combined with a deep loyalty to my husband which prevents me from watching ahead in our Netflix series), I go to bed.

At the 1 AM feeding, I reach for something on the baby’s book cart. The cart is metal, on wheels, with three grated tiers. It’s repurposed from another room in the house; we have too many bookshelves already.

I forget about the open water bottle. Its contents chug-chug-chugging all over the books serve as an unwelcome reminder.

After a few choice words, I conquer my freeze-reflex, put down the baby, and grab some towels. Several books need to be wiped down. The floor is soaking wet. I recognize that this episode would have destroyed me the first time around but I’m feeling even-keeled and postpartum anxiety isn’t consuming my thoughts. I’m grateful.

At the 4 AM feeding, my daughter wakes up crying. She wants to sleep in my bed. I’m tired so I oblige, patting myself on the back for making it this long though I know I’ve set us back. She waits for me while I feed her brother. She talks the whole time.

Morning comes and I try bribery to get her dressed. She dillydallies. I renege on my bribe. More tears are shed but we finally get out the door. I grab the full trash on the way out for a quick stop at the garbage can. It’s icy but I can’t tell because of the snow. I fall.

Inside, I grab some ibuprofen, anticipating incision pain, and my daughter grabs a Band-Aid for me. I feel bad about reneging on my bribe so I issue a new one.

All in all, I’m pretty proud of myself for making it this far without any breakdowns but the house will stay a mess. Even super heroes need a break.

Happy Mother’s Day

The path to Motherhood is wide! And it can sometimes be pretty painful.

We’ve been doing a ton as a society to encourage mothers lately and each Mother’s Day I see more and more posts acknowledging the longing to-be mothers, the lost mothers, and the motherless. It is SO GOOD, friends! So in honor of this Mother’s Day, I’d like to propose a little role play on how to ask those same nagging questions we all have in a different way! It’s totally okay to be inquisitive but let’s be sensitive too.

I realize that this is not an all-encompassing approach to the below scenarios. Feel free to comment your experiences below or some conversation starters that better suit you!

In the scenarios below, I’ll be “Pal” and you be Mom:

*****Instead of*****

  • Pal: “When are you going to have a(nother) kid?”
  • Mom: “Well gee…I don’t know, Pal. Do you have a crystal ball for that sort of thing?”

*****I’ll try*****

  • Pal: “Do you think you’d like to have a(nother) kid?”
  • Mom: “Yeah. Some day. I’m not quite ready yet.”/”I don’t think it’s for me. I feel fulfilled where I’m at.”/”I’d love to. If only it were that easy, right?”

When I ask for specific timelines, I stifle conversation with you if you aren’t planning for children or if you’re struggling to answer the “When?” question yourself. When I ask in a way that allows you to talk about your plans rather than specific dates, I might get more insight into what’s really going on.

*****Instead of*****

  • Pal: “How old is your daughter?”
  • Mom: “She’s four.”
  • Pal: “You’d better get on that. You don’t want to have your kids too far apart!”
  • Mom: “You know what, Pal? You’re so right. I wish I would have thought about that during my miscarriage!”/”Infertility is a bitch! Thanks for the reminder.”/”Did I say I wanted another child?”/”I’m actually planning them farther apart because it’s better for our family but I see you’ve drawn some conclusions about that so it’ll be interesting to see where the conversation goes from here…”

*****I’ll try*****

  • Pal: “How old is your daughter”
  • Mom: “She’s four.”
  • Pal: “That’s great! If more kids are in your future, I’m sure she’ll love being able to participate with her baby sib!”

There are so many reasons there is only one child in a family or there is such a gap between children! Pressure to close a gap that already exists isn’t the lighthearted prod I may think it is – even if I wink or nudge you when I’m asking. If you had wanted kids close together, it might be a really painful reminder that the plan will never come to fruition. If I focus on the positives of your current situation, you may be more inclined to tell me your story.

*****Instead of*****

  • Pal: “Don’t you just love the baby phase?”
  • Mom: “Actually I’m feeling completely isolated and am afraid I might have undiagnosed postpartum depression but I’m not sure how to respond to your question because you clearly want it to be the best so I’m going to smile and nod.”

*****I’ll try*****

  • Pal: “Man, that phase can be so tough! How are you doing?”
  • Mom: “Actually I’m feeling completely isolated. It’s not what I expected.”
  • Pal: “There is no shame in that. A lot of women experience a disconnect! Have you brought it up with your doctor to see if he or she has any tips?”

The first ask isn’t really a question because it’s clear I want the answer to be yes. If I acknowledge the phase is tough, I give you space to agree or disagree and that gives me an opportunity to lend support or celebrate with you! (I’m also a firm believer that it’s always positive to normalize talking to a professional.)

*****Instead of*****

  • Pal: “You don’t have much time left if you want more kids!”
  • Mom: “Wow. Yeah. I guess in hindsight I should have ignored my body’s queues for rest and healing between kids.”/”Wow. Yeah. I guess in hindsight I should not have had that miscarriage!”/”Wow. Yeah. Thanks for making me feel terrible about myself on so many levels!”

*****I’ll try*****

  • Pal: “Hey, Mom. How’s it going?”
  • Mom: “Good! Thanks for asking. I’m so glad you didn’t say anything awkward about my age in relation to having children. That’s always so uncomfortable and it does make me want to punch you right in the face.”

Really, there’s no good way to bring up that someone’s childbearing years may be coming to a close. I know you know how old you are.

*****And lastly*****

To the four year-old at the Target dollar spot who pointed excitedly at my stomach this weekend and exclaimed, “Yay! You have a baby in your tummy!” I’d like to say:

“For the thousandth time, Emma, I will tell you when I have a baby in my tummy. Until then, it’s tacos.”

 

It’s always tacos ūüėČ

IMG_0032

Happy Mother’s Day!

#TBT

Tonight I arrived home from a two-day work trip in Massachusetts after this sweet baby had already gone to bed.

I’m exhausted but I find myself craving her sleepy dead weight on my chest. So much so that I will tiptoe into her room, slide around the creaky spots in the floor, and peer over her crib rail to imagine it a little better.

That steady, slow breathing. The unconscious shifting of weight.

Until tomorrow morning, I’ll let the sleeping beauty be and appreciate her from her afar but not without a sneak and a peek and a #TBT.

Happy 1st Birthday, Emma Josephine!

1year_collage

Emma Jo! How in the world has it been over a year since you came into this world??

On April 16th, 2014, you were born. You. were. BORN.

In truth, I’m speechless when I think about this past year. It’s been impossible, beautiful, encouraging, frustrating, humbling and rewarding. Over the last 12 months, you have challenged us with late nights and tossed food, wooed us with long lashes and loving hugs, surprised us with first steps and climbing, and you’ve made us proud – over milestones, yes, but more so being you. Our sweet, confident, musical baby girl.

Those reflexive, startled hands that shot up again and again as a newborn have settled into drum-beating, Duplo-pulling digits and palms. Your chubby legs have turned into skinny sticks for walking and climbing. You’re becoming a toddler before our eyes. You are sassy. Throwing your cup/paci/food/utensils/toys on the floor, you cry out “Uh oh!” again and again.

Your wardrobe has turned over 3 times and you’re starting to push for four, true to size. You exude confidence in your baby Merrells and use them to take you through the garden. You play favorites, daddy still taking the cake but you let me in on a snuggle or two! You’ve gotten over more colds than I’ve seen in years but you always have a beat in your head to bop, wiggle, clap or laugh to. You are so musical! Drums, guitars, microphones, pianos –¬†you are your father’s daughter.

I just can’t wrap my head (or heart) around it. My little girl is 1. I’ve been waiting these past few weeks for the right words to come but instead, tears. Filled to the brim and spilling over with emotion. All emotions. Mother emotions. So powerful and deep and all wrapped into choked up, speechless gasps for breath.

*Gasp* A year¬†*Gasp* We made it¬†*Gasp* I love you¬†*Gasp* I hated parts of this past year¬†*Gasp* Your¬†joy gives me joy *Gasp* You are beautiful¬†*Gasp* Your father loves you¬†*Gasp* You are a blessing¬†*Gasp* I am old¬†*Gasp* Time keeps getting faster¬†*Gasp* I can’t wait to see what’s next¬†*Gasp*

Happy birthday, Emma Josephine. You are a blessing to this family and a joy.

Happy 11 Month, Emma Josephine!

11month_collage

Emma, dear, you are one short day away from being 11 months old! (11 months old?)

These past four weeks have been filled with incredible joy. THIS is what people think of when they wax nostalgic for the baby stage. You are constantly on the move, not just physically but mentally too. You go, go, go until something new catches your eye and then your wild abandon quickly becomes acute focus, your tiny fingers going over seams, zippers, cupboard doors, or instruments. Discovering. Learning. Manipulating.

You stand. You bring yourself up on your own with wobbly legs and when you sit, you do so slowly, with intention, lowering your body safely to the ground. You do not plop to your bottom; you are strong. You love to run with your walker but if it’s not around, you use the bar stool, laundry baskets, the ottoman! Anything that slides across the floor. For heavy objects, you lean in and grunt until the item begins to budge, our very own strongman.

You love to try new foods, rejecting only bananas and pureed beef. (I read “beets,” I’ll have you know). Your appetite thrills us and we chuckle over reports of two servings of mac ‘n’ cheese at daycare for lunch. ‘Atta girl! You love chugging water, throwing your head back with sippy cup in hand, and you prefer to feed yourself. That independent thread is woven throughout your being, from feeding to playing, learning and persisting. You’re fearless.

Transitions are hard but I can relate. We see the tired creep into your eyes and know when you’re fighting a much needed nap. When family is around, you prefer to pry those lids wide to not miss a thing. You communicate to all of us by pointing, clapping, waving, patting, dancing, and “dadada/mamama/nanana/bababa”-ing. You sit for reading and play while bathing. You understand a warning but don’t much care to heed one without distraction.

We think you’re the funnest human being we know and we love this stage, delightfully devouring every new thing you do. We are constantly calling to each other to “Watch this!” or “Listen to that!” – full of Emma-awe and parent
pride.

Happy 11 month, Emma Josephine. You are a blessing to this family and a joy.

Happy 10 month, Emma Josephine!

10monthcollageEmma, dear, tomorrow you are 10 months old!

Your grandma wasn’t about to let another month pass without a post about all of the things you’ve been up to so here we go! Over the past TWO months, you have been constantly on the move! You got a walker for Christmas and love to take laps around the house. When you’re not on your feet, pulling, balancing, or walking with help, you’re on all fours, crawling faster than a speeding bullet, stopping to wave as you go.

You and Winston are buds. It may be because you rarely take food from a spoon, preferring to feed yourself and your furry friend, or it might be because your new mobility keeps Winston on his toes. He gently holds toys so you can tug them. You reach over your highchair so he can dine on avocado, carrots, potatoes, and puffs. You’re a troublesome twosome for your mom and dad, defiantly working against the “No”s and “Don’t do that”s.

You had your first Christmas where you were showered with love. Unwrapping your gifts, you discovered a xylophone and your place in the band. You are independent. Strong-willed and funny and most definitely ours. Your daycare providers tell us you’re quirky too, taking individual Cheerios atop avocado slices, plating food like your father. You appreciate the aesthetic presentation.

You’re sleeping and so are we but we are beyond tickled when you’re awake. You have us laughing and hugging and appreciating this family unit we’ve become. From quiet snuggles to monster voices, we are enamored with you, dear love.

Happy 10 month, Emma Josephine. You are a blessing to this family and a joy.

BONUS PHOTOS: Because I realized after the shoot below that I repeated your vest. You skinny thing! I thought for sure I’d be safe without reviewing your posts!

10monthcollage1Repeat or not, you’re too cute not to share.

Happy 8 Month, Emma Josephine!

8month_collageEmma, dear, you are well over 8 months old!

Your month marker came and went without our typical photos this time around because in the battle between documenting and living, real life wins. Because sick babies need comfort, not camera flashes and catch phrases. Your smiles were cut short this month with coughing fits that scared us so fiercely, we bundled you up in the middle of the night and took you to the hospital. We scanned your little lungs and heard words like “pneumonia” and “double ear infection.” But you are so tough and you continue to recover, even today, tugging at those ears in a way that breaks our hearts and has us praying and scheduling appointments.

You are determined beyond belief, in everything you do. From battling sickness to trying new foods and visiting new places. You pulled yourself to a stand just before Thanksgiving and haven’t stopped since. This Thanksgiving, you were thankful for Aunt Hanna’s sweet potatoes, for cousin love and grandma snuggles, and in our act of thankfulness to God for you, we declared our dedication to raising you in His Word.

Your little fingers and hands are busy, splashing bath water, tugging hair, petting your pup, and picking up Puffs (aka baby rice cakes…very strange). Formula didn’t phase you! But your clothes are shrinking again, turning pants to pedal pushers and making your parents look foolish (thank goodness for tall socks to keep you covered!).

We love you more than you will ever know. This month gave us a glimpse into what I imagine is the hardest part of parenting: The inability to stop the hurting. We would take on all of it if we could but we are so grateful for the resilience God has given you. You are so strong, sweet love.

Happy 8 month, Emma Josephine. You are a blessing to this family and a joy.

Two Weeks Left

Today¬†has been a rainy, stormy, humid day. It’s oppressive. But it isn’t just the weather. My thoughts¬†have been trained on this one day for a long time now. Today isn’t about the humidity. It isn’t about the gloominess of another rainy day in June. It’s about the fact that I have exactly two weeks before going back to work.

It’s the beginning of the countdown.

Two weeks left.

Before I left for maternity leave, I joked that I would¬†never be satisfied staying at home “barefoot in the kitchen.” I scoffed at the mention of part time. I identified with my job¬†and modifying my understanding of¬†that identity¬†sounded¬†not only foreign but completely undesirable.

Fast forward 10 weeks after Emma’s birth and I am closing in on an emotional low. My heart aches when I think about leaving my precious girl with someone else. What if they don’t pick her up as much as I do? What if she sits in a dirty diaper? What if they don’t get her on her tummy or rock her or encourage her the way that I do?

I by no means am questioning the abilities of the daycare we’ve chosen. I am happy that we have the people that we do excitedly waiting to love on our baby girl, to teach her and pray with her in our absence. But there’s something so emotionally raw and vulnerable about entrusting other people with my¬†child. It clouds all rational thought.¬†

What if?

We’ve scheduled a few short outings before my first day back so I can get used to the idea. It panics me. It takes my breath away. The closer we get, the closer I want to hold her and not¬†let her go to anyone for any amount of time. Not yet…

She’s too small.

My identity has been completely rewritten and in the most naive way, I didn’t think it would be. I rationally evaluated the options, the daycare, the opportunity for Emma to learn and interact with others and I had peace. I hadn’t accounted for the emotion. The emotional bond.

My rational brain knows that Emma will be cared for and that she will thrive in daycare. My rational brain knows that I will get back into a routine at work, albeit a new one. My rational brain knows that this decision will not diminish the bond I have with my child.

My rational brain knows but my heart is a slow learner. It abhors this impending change.

Not yet…

She’s too small.

Matthew 6:25-34:

Do Not Worry

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?

28¬†‚ÄúAnd why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.29¬†Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor¬†was dressed like one of these.¬†30¬†If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you‚ÄĒyou of little faith?¬†31¬†So do not worry, saying, ‚ÄėWhat shall we eat?‚Äô or ‚ÄėWhat shall we drink?‚Äô or ‚ÄėWhat shall we wear?‚Äô¬†32¬†For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.¬†33¬†But seek first his kingdom¬†and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.¬†34¬†Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Happy 1 Month, Emma Josephine!

Happy 1 Month, Emma Josephine!

Emma, dear, you are 1 month old today.

During your first month of life, you have captured our hearts more than we could have imagined. You have shown incredible strength, lifting your head the day you were born and continuing to do so every day after. We knew you’d be strong at 10.1 lbs and 22 inches though! You like bath time and tummy time but neither as much as you like daddy time! He’s the first person you made eye contact with and you two have been batting eyes at each other ever since.

You’re in 3 month clothes, having skipped the newborn stage altogether. You enjoy getting dressed up but are perfectly happy in a sleeper both day and night. Your sleeping patterns have settled into cool 4 hour stretches under the moon and you’re becoming more and more alert with every rising sun.

You’ve strolled the neighborhood, been to your first Farmers’ Market, gone out for ice cream and more than one meal. You’ve taken in the sights at Frederik Meijer Gardens and passed your first doctor’s appointments with flying colors. You’ve been hugged and kissed by family and friends and warmly welcomed by coworkers and neighbors.

You are our precious child and we have enjoyed celebrating all of your milestones with you so far. How fast they’ve come and gone already!

Happy 1 month, Emma Josephine. You are a blessing to this family and a joy.