Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Letter to Clara on her 1st Birthday

My sweet Clara.  You are one!  That makes this mommy sad.  I have loved your baby stage.  I can't get enough snuggles from you.  Don't get me wrong, the journey of watching you grow excites the heck out of me, but even so, it is hard to leave this stage behind.

Your first year has been a whirlwind.  I guess that happens when you have a busy 3 year old brother.  You have spent most of your days on my hip. I am not complaining.

You love animals, stuffed toys,  and your brother's toys.  Since you started crawling, (9-10 months) you will make your way into his room if you hear him playing.  You want to do exactly what he is doing.  You will scream and make a fuss if he takes a toy from you, but since you are learning from him, I have seen you snatch your fair share of toys out of little hands.

You love to play pat a cake and sing "Wheels on the Bus." You will spin your little hands, and I have even heard you say round and round.  You give kisses and high fives, blow kisses, wave, growl, and clap your hands.  You can say Mama, Dada, and bye bye. You just started mumbling something that sounds like, "What is that?" when you point to something.  You are standing on your own, but crawling is your means of travel.

You also love to watch cartoons.  Your brother never watched TV until recently, so I soak in the few moments with you both sitting still in front of Curious George.

Since day one, you have never liked to be left in the church nursery. You don't give up either.  If you decide to scream, you are going to scream.  There is no stopping it.  Needless to say, we have missed our fair share of church services due to sitting in the nursery with you.  The same goes for bedtime.  If you aren't ready, you aren't going down.  You will cry for hours.  No joke.  Babywise needs to make a special Clara edition.

Your favorite spot in our house is under the table.  You will crawl under it and wait patiently for someone to notice.  As soon as we spot you, you get the biggest grin on your face.  You have the kind of grin that makes everyone smile, even your big brother.

Clara, I love you so much.  You and your big brother have split my heart wide open.  It is a deep, sweet love, but it is a scary love too.  My heart is and will always be with you. We pray each day that you will know and understand God's love early.   We pray that you will be woman of wisdom.  Whether you become a mom one day or invest your life somewhere else, we pray for the spiritual legacy you leave behind.  This is why we gave you Russian nesting dolls today.  While I can't wait to sit in the floor and play with them with you, they symbolize more.  Our desire if for you to invest in others.  Love people, help them, and share the love of Christ with them.

Every child is like nestled dolls, all these generations nestled within — and mothering is a holy  trust of whole entire eras. Every day,  every mother, she mothers thousands – all the children yet still to come.” (Ann Voskamp)

When we pray for you, we pray for those that come after you.  By investing in you, we are also investing in the generations to come.  What a beautiful picture!  

You are special, dear one. Happy 1st Birthday.  

Friday, September 13, 2013

Two different babies/ Two different stories-Clara's birth story.

Clara's birth story can be found here.

Going into Clara's birth, I had no expectations.  I had been scarred by my expectations.  I wanted to live the polar opposite.  If they wanted to induce me, fine by me.  If they mentioned a cesection, bring it on. Sure, I planned on trying to breastfeed, but I was going to take that a day at a time.  If a nurse came into the room and suggested a formula feeding, I was going to be the first to grab a bottle.  I had not refreshed my  memory by reading any books.   This time around, I barely remembered what "Babywise" even said.  I wanted to go into this thing with as little plan as possible.  A plan scared me.

Funny thing is, Clara's birth was exactly my plan....for Hudson's birth.  I went into labor on my very own.  Contractions came quickly.  We rushed to the hospital.  I received no pitocin.  I had no IV.  I was given an epidural during transition so that my labor would not be slowed. She came quickly with very few complications.  She did poop in my womb, but everything was fine!  God had given me the plan I wanted, but he gave it to me when I loosened my grip on it and trusted Him! He gave it to me through another baby.

The whole hospital stay felt like a vacation.  The nurses did not even bother me.  I slept!  I ate.  I relished in people serving me and not having to take care of anyone but this tiny baby.  She seemed easy compared to the tornado that was my two year old!  In addition, not one nurse mentioned formula feeding to me.  It never came out of a single person's mouth.  Nursing was going great.  She was latching well and it didn't hurt.

I still had in my mind that I was going to take this a day at a time though.  I was going to take this whole experience a day at a time.  I was going to lay on the couch with this baby and rest.  I was going to nurse her, but I was ready to give her a bottle the moment I sensed the need.  Guess what?  A year later, and I am still nursing this sweet baby.  She won't even take bottles, and weaning her seems like a daunting task.   Never thought I would experience that side.

Clara was colicky, but since I was taking it a day at time, it never seemed like a huge deal.  There were weeks where she nursed terribly, but like I said, I was taking it a day at time.  I seriously never left that motto.  It worked for us.  It worked for me.

This sweet girl slept in our room for 11 months.  Hudson left after 11 weeks.  She slept through the night at 11 months.  Hudson did at 11 weeks.  She still has to be nursed to sleep.  Hudson knew exactly how to sleep on his own.  I made Hudson homemade baby food.  I never even fed Clara baby food.  Hudson had his first french fry and taste of sugar at a year old.  I caught Clara sucking down a ketchup packet this morning.  She had her first Chick Fil A meal the moment she reached for it.

I have lived the polar opposites of the newborn stage.  I am grateful for that.  I am grateful for the experiences on both ends.  Because of this, I do not believe there is one right way.  I am skeptical of information that tells me I will harm my baby by not letting her cry it out, but then again, I am skeptical of information that tells me I will harm her if I don't.  I am so thankful for this perspective.  We live in a world where moms feel pressure, when I really feel like every story, every family, every mom, and every baby is unique.  We are in no place to tell a mom what she should be doing.  

I am so grateful for my two very different babies and their two very different birth stories.

Two Babies/ Two Different Stories-Hudson's Birth Story

Celebrating Clara's first year has caused me to reflect on both experiences with my babies.  They were both very different.  Different babies, different births, different seasons of life, different birth orders, different genders, different perspectives etc...

I have never shared much about Hudson's birth on this blog.  I really had not started blogging yet, and there is so much about that season of my life that is personal for my family.  It is our story to share with those we love, and I want to be sensitive to Hudson and Will with the stories I share.

Briefly, I went into Hudson's birth with tons of control.  I thought I could stay in control as a parent.  I had a detailed birth plan, as well as a plan for everything else under the sun.  Along with wanting to breastfeed for a year, I knew just how to get my baby to sleep once he was born. I also knew just when to introduce the paci, the bottle, and how to spread out vaccines.  To be blunt, I was naive of the whole thing.
While there is nothing wrong with having a plan, I was under the assumption that I could be in control of every bit of his life.  It was up to ME.

Hudson had to be induced because I was 10 days late. Induction was not part of my birth plan.  I already had to loosen my grip on my agenda.  To make matters worse, the nurses at the hospital seem to have a better idea of what Hudson's birth should be like,  and I was not confident enough to stand firm to my birth plan.  So, I lost more and more control.  Hudson was not even born, and I was confused and spiraling out of control.

Hudson's birth was incredibly long.  I pushed from noon to close to 5:30, and was seconds from a c-section before he made his arrival.  The whole time I was in the hospital the nurses kept pushing me to try formula.  I consulted my doctor who advised me not to do that.  I was so confused.  I thought that you were not supposed to give the baby formula in the hospital.  I was under the assumption that formula caused the baby to never ever want to nurse.  The nurses never really even explained why they wanted him to have formula either.   I couldn't sleep or eat.  I was so stressed out and confused.  I just wanted to stick to my plan.

We finally left he hospital and headed home.  The first night, Hudson only peed once.  I continued to nurse him, but the next morning, he looked weak.  He had cracked lips and was slow to respond.  We rushed him to the hospital to discover he was dehydrated.  What?  I thought babies could survive for a couple of days before mom's milk fully came in.  The doctors assured me that they could, and that only 1 percent of babies dehydrate a day after birth.

The team of doctors admitted him and began a full 3 days of testing and treating him for every possible scenario.  I felt terrible.  I felt like a complete failure.  How on earth did I let a newborn baby dehydrate before my very eyes?  Why did I not listen to the nurses and give him formula?  I was a mess of emotion and overwhelmed with worry over my newborn son.  To make matters worse, I had not slept or really even eaten since the night before he was born...almost 3 days.  I was also suffering from some complications with his birth.  Complications that I will not go into on the internet.  Complications that are uncommon after most births.  I was a big mess.

They did a spinal tap, blood work, and began several rounds of antibiotics to cover all of the bases.  In addition to starting an IV to pump fluids in his tiny body, they began giving him formula every two hours.  One  doctor came in and advised me not to nurse him or give him any pumped milk.  He feared something may be in my milk that was causing the reaction.  Another doctor told me that it would be fine to nurse first, but then to feed him the formula.  More confusion.  My milk was not even in yet, and I was advised not to nurse!  Then, I was advised to nurse!  What did they want me to do?  To make matters worse, doctors continued to come in with their idea of what might be wrong.  Scary stuff was mentioned.  Stuff I was not in a place to hear.  I spent another night not eating or sleeping, and by the next morning, I was delirious.

We were there three days.  I left for one night to try to sleep, but it did not really happen.  The doctors never found anything.  They came to the conclusion that he was dehydrated from birth.  We left with no answers, but we had a healthy son.  I left lost and out of control.  In 3 days, I had given my son formula and tons of antibotics.  His little body was full of stuff that I did not want to be there.  To make matters worse, I could not eat or sleep, and therefore, I could not produce the milk to feed him.

Our family and my very best friends were there for me during this transitional time.  I have never experienced community and the love of Jesus to this extent.  Basically, this loss of control had spiraled me into postpartum depression, and my sweet friends did not leave my side for weeks.  They cleaned, they cooked, and they fed by baby.

In the end, I did not end up breastfeeding.  The postpartum depression was a main factor.  I did not have the emotional strength of build my milk supply.  I had to eat.  I had to sleep.  I had to get better.  I was also fearful of nursing.  I had let my baby dehydrate.  What if that happened again?  Do not get me wrong, I was heartbroken.  I actually grieved the loss of nursing.  It had been my plan before  I even had babies.  I wanted to nurse.  I was excited to nurse.  I wanted to be the one that nourished my little newborn.  I lost that.  One of my very best friends had to come to my house and retrieve all of my nursing supplies because I broke down crying just from looking at them.

All that said, Hudson's birth and first several weeks were tough. It is still hard to look at pictures from those first few weeks.  It brings back memories of a scary, uncertain time.  I look back now and see how much I learned from that experience.

 I learned what true community looks like and how to be that community to others.  I had friends that never left my side.  They loved me during my messiness.  It was ugly.  I was not easy to love, but they loved me.

I learned how to lean on Jesus during tough times.  It has been awhile since I had experienced a trial in my life.  It is the valleys that bring us vision.

 I experienced the grief that comes from having a sick newborn baby and am now able to empathize with young parents going through similar situations.

 I experienced the pain that comes with not being able to breastfeed in a world that makes you feel like a child abuser if you don't nurse you baby.  Now, when a new mom cries on my shoulder because breastfeeding is so hard, I can say, "I know.  It is ok.  I have been there."  She is not alone.  I have walked where she walked and can love her though it.

 I have experienced a real thing called postpartum depression.  I can often spot it.  I can be a resource and a shoulder for young moms that are experiencing it.

I also am grateful.  Grateful that I have a healthy 3 year old son.  It could have been worse.  So much worse.

So, that being said, so much of who I am as a mom is because of Hudson's birth story.  I am so thankful for the way he arrived on the earth.  It was not how I planned it, but God's grand design is far better than my original birth plan.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Our Daily Routine

Our daily routine changes often...based on the needs of our family.  Here is the routine we are sticking to during the fall.

My time with the Lord and coffee with Clara by my side


Morning chores
-----clean up breakfast, clothes away or to laundry room, make beds, kiddos dressed

TV show while I shower and get ready for the day

Playtime/ room time

Clara's nap/ Hudson's preschool time
    -  This include letter and number work, a book, Bible time, and an activity.  Afterwards, we usually play
         outside together.

Morning snack

Morning outing
     -Grocery store, Wal-mart or Target, bank, errands, park, library, etc...


After lunch chores
-----clean up lunch and toys

Playtime/ room time

Movie to wind down

Nap/ rest time

Afternoon snack

Outside time

Daddy home...time with him

Dinner and family worship time
.......Our worship time right now includes prayer sticks I found from pinterest, and a short reading from the            book "Thoughts to Make your Heart Sing."

Bath time

Evening chores
......Final toy clean up, laundry is put away, trash out, etc...

Bedtime stories


Will and I usually crash on the couch and watch 24.  We are deep into this series!

This schedule will change when Clara drops her morning nap and when Hudson transitions to only rest time. For now, it works great for us.  I think that the kids love consistent days.  We do not stick to rigid time frames, but we also don't live our day on the fly.  I love a predicable plan that can easily be canned if opportunity presents itself!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

My Advice to the new SAHM

I am by no means the expert on the Stay at Home Mom. I have only been doing it for a little over 3 years.  This is just thoughts I felt compelled to write down. Nothing you read here is new or profound information. It is also important to note that this advice is for Christians.  I love Jesus, and all that I do is through the lenses of His glory.

Also to note, I love the working mom and fully support them. I am not a better mom than you because I stay at home.  I am just not there in this season of my life, and therefore, I cannot give advice there.

1)Know why you are a SAHM.  ---
The days are going to be long and often tough.  It is good to have a vision to look back on and remember why you are a SAHM.  It is not because you could not find a job or because you have no aspirations.  It is because for one reason or another, you have decided that this road is best  for your family.  Know why and remind yourself every single day.

2) Be ready to face criticism.---
You will hear people say, "I could never do that." or "Wow, that  must be nice.  Wish I could do that."  Focus on your why.  There will be people who think that you are doing something unworthy of a title.  There will also be moms who wish they were in your shoes, and therefore, may respond with a tinge of jealousy.  Have grace on those that do not understand or are not where you are.

3)Remember that what you are doing is so very important.---
God has given you these children.  They will only be little for a moment, and you are preparing them for the world ahead of them.  It is a noble, worthy, and highly important task.  No, the world will not applaud you for it.  You will not receive a paycheck.  Yet, you are spending precious time investing in the souls of your children, the legacy that you will leave behind. Wiping noses, drying tears, and coloring is the work of God's kingdom. This is your daily ministry. This of course, goes for the working mom too.

4)Support other moms.---
Support the working mom, the stay at home mom that does things differently than you, the formula feeding mom, the breast feeding mom, the cloth diapering mom, the organic mom, and the mom who feeds her kids Chef Boyardee.  You may feel strongly about something and think another mom should feel that way, but guess what? She might not. That is ok. She may one day feel the way you do about cloth diapers, but just because she is not there yet, it does not make her a bad mom.  We are all learning and deciding what is best for our families. Lets support each other in the process.

4) Take all that you hear with a grain of salt.--
You will be given a plethora of information, and often times, leave feeling fully convinced of what you were just told.  Don't read something and feel like you are a bad mom if you are not doing exactly what the article or book tells you to do. You can't do everything 100 percent.  You will drive everyone in your home crazy trying. The important thing is to continue learning and let God and your husband lead your family in the direction it should be going.

5)Learn what makes you a unique mom.---
Like I said, you can't do everything, but God has gifted you with gifts.  Some moms are passing gardening to their children while some are sharing the love of sewing.  Other moms may be good at crafting or pass on the love of books.  That doesn't mean we can't dabble a little in everything, but it also means we do not have to love everything!  The mom that raises chickens and feeds her family from the garden is not a better mom than you.  Your children are just as loved eating store bought veggies!  That mom is passing on Her passion to HER children.  Let her.  You pass down what you love to your littles.  It is just as worthy and special.

6)It will look like everyone is having more fun that you.---
Thanks to Instagram, blogs, and Facebook, it truly looks like everyone sits around all day and crafts, cooks, takes hikes, etc..  They don't.  You are getting a glimpse into other people's life.  We all can make our lives look like fairy tales.  You are not seeing that which isn't deemed worthy of a picture, and everybody is having those moments.  All. the. time.

7)It is ok to play with your children.---
I have to remember this most days.  I feel like I am not productive if I spend hours on the floor playing with trucks.   This is a lie.  You are a SAHM. You GET to do this!  Your little one will not love toy trucks forever.  Play with him. Teach him while you are playing.  Communicate love through time.  It is important.  I promise.

8) It is ok to clean your house.---
You are with your littles all day long, but you still need to see you take care of the home.  Let them help. You are sharing life with them, and responsibility is part of it.  It will never be spotless, and there will always be more to do.  Remember that too.

9)It is ok to talk to your friends on the phone and take a moment to flip through social media.---
We all read the "Dear Mom with the Iphone" blog.  I get what that lady was saying and support her.  Still need moments to check back in the adult world.  That is ok!  The stay at home moms of the past did not have this luxury.  We can be grateful for it without taking advantage of it.

On a side not, I totally get why some moms take apps like Facebook off of their phone.  It can become addictive, and always want to be aware of that possibility.

10)Love your husband.---
It goes without saying.  He will Lord willing be the one there when the children are grown and move out of the house. Cultivate that relationship. Go on dates...even if those dates are at home after the kids are in bed. Place him above all other earthly relationships. It is supposed to be this way, and it is best for your children.

11) Take time away.---
Weekly if possible.  If your husband cannot give you that time, find a sitter or swap babysitting with friends.  You need time to refresh your mind.  What you do with your time away will be different each week.  Sometimes I need a Starbucks coffee and a journal.  Other times I need to plan my week.  Most of the time I choose to scour the thrift store.  It doesn't matter!  Just take time away! I think it makes me a better mom.

12)Take time with your girlfriends.---
I cannot get enough time with my girls sans the kiddos.  It is a good remedy for long weary days.

13) Find older moms.--
Titus 2:4 speaks about older women teaching younger women.  There is such a treasure there.  Find it and use it.  They have been there.  They understand where you are and can offer insight.

14) You will find yourself at the end of your rope.----
Parenting is hard. It was not meant to be easy. You will have those days that you feel like you cannot carry on.....days that leave you in tears with your hands up in the air.  You will grow so weary of potty training, whining children, and lack of sleep.  You will feel like it will never end. It will. It will not always be this way.

15) There will be days you feel on top of the world.---
You will have these days too.  Days where your children seem to be transformed into the most obedient and happiest beings on the earth.  You will feel like you are walking on a cloud on those days.  Enjoy it.  It will not always be this way.

16)You need Jesus.---
This is the most important piece of advice I can give a SAHM or for that matter, anyone.  You need Him.  Seek him at all times.  You may not have the time or the energy to pour through scripture and Strong's Biblical Concordance.  You were there once and you will be back there again.  For now, pray constantly and mediate on snippets of scripture.  Let your kids listen to scripture memory songs and the WAY radio station.  Worship him through the songs.  He is your life source.  He is the ultimate why of your reason for being where you are.  Have lots of people in your life that will point you back to him when you can't seem to get it together.

I love my job.  I am grateful for it.  I know that it isn't for everyone, and it is not possible for everyone.  I am blessed to spend my days with those I love most in the world, and I am learning more about myself and Jesus in the process.

Feel free to comment with what you have learned on this journey.  Like the song from High School Musical says, "We're all in this together."

My littlest loves, Hudson and Clara